January 31, 2007
Below this almost dead-looking (but not dead-being) hydrangea bush with the single leafbud-bearing branch, my heart was warmed to find tender white snowdrops this afternoon. I had no idea we had any. The first year in a new garden is always an intriguing process of discovery. I tried to take photos of the snowdrops, but those tiny flowers are so miniscule that the camera wanted to focus on anything but the actual flowers. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow with more concentration.
Today was a preciously clear and sunny British day. And Jason was in bed. Emily was home ill last Thursday and again Monday, and then it was Jason's turn today. He bravely went to school the past two days even though he wasn't feeling too well, but today it was time to get some extra rest and try to get better. 7th grade, with so many teachers, is just a bunch more complicated to miss than 3rd grade with the one teacher in charge of catching you up on everything.
Speaking of burgeoning, though, with God's help I am trying to get a new activity to bud around here: a smaller version of the Dance Ministry that we so devotedly enjoyed in California. Since the wonderful caller is studying here in London, and has agreed to lead a dance evening here, I have asked around a bit and found ten interested couples, plus another four interested half-couples (i.e. the wife would like to but her husband thinks she's crazy). After selecting a date, we are down to seven or eight couples who can actually make it on the same night. Eight pairs is apparently the number we need to be able to choose from just about any of the dances. I am excited and praying that God will bring this dance evening to fruition and get Himself some glory somehow or other (not sure how, but I just know it is a fabulous activity and brings romance to my marriage). I guess it embodies His relationship with His bride - sweeping her off her feet with firm leadership and wild, passionate love. The dance evening (God willing) will be March 3rd, a Saturday night, if you want to come. RSVPs required :-) A shame most of you are just so incredibly remotely located from this blogger.
U.K. Promise of Spring
Seen today on our street in Berkshire, England. May I remind you it is still January. Barely. The hope of spring is bursting out all over!
For the self-professingly flower-illiterate: the yellow ones are daffodils, the pink are rhododendrons, the purple are crocuses, and the red is camellia. All beautiful sights to behold on a day which opened at 2 degrees C (35 degrees F) with our breath showing.
January 26, 2007
They both CLAIM to be real mayonnaise, and they're even both made by the same company.
But we know the difference.
The one with the YELLOW "REAL" is the imposter, whilst the one with the RED "REAL" is the REAL REAL one.
Because the yellow one has mustard in it.
As do most mayonnaises in France and the UK, as we've discovered in the past 18 months. The red one we brought back with us in our suitcase from our Christmas trip to the U.S. We are enjoying it. Credit goes to my mom for actually purchasing it for us (in a non-fragile container, no less, yay for plastic).
The snow is all gone now except for the remainders of the snowmen which are clinging on for dear life, but I loved these photos taken on our glorious (if brief) snow day. Contrast between white-laden branches and brick building...
Contrast between untouched and well-used snow.
January 24, 2007
Got Kids Up 30 Minutes Early - Not Crazy
This morning I woke at 6:30am to a heavenly white glow wafting through the window and infusing the room. I leapt up and in a split second was eagerly staring out into the back yard. Yes! Yes! Yes! (as Kipper would say). The ground, trees and bushes were all cloaked in a thin layer of powdered sugar. To understand why this excited me so much, you'd have to know that
1. I grew up in Switzerland, where every winter it would snow at some point and we'd get to go out and play in it....and that:
2. Ever since I've been married, I've either:
a) not had a yard of my own (in New Hampshire and Chicago), or
b) not had any snow in it EVER (California and Southern France)
3. Furthermore, Jason (12) and Emily (8) have never even seen snow in their home town (unless you count Jason as a baby of 6 months old in Chicago, looking out of our apartment window). Of course they've skiied and sledded and played in the snow, but only on vacation elsewhere. It's different when you wake up in your own bed and look out to see the wonderland created in your familiar surroundings.
I am a mother who never woke her kids up from naps - I just let them sleep until they woke, even if it was four hours later (I think that only happened once). But this morning, I woke those two kiddos up so fast they didn't know what hit 'em. It was 30 minutes before their normal rousing...but once they heard the yard was full of snow, front and back, they rapidly understood my plan to get all ready for school and then (only then) have some extra time left to play in the snow before getting in the car.
Jason made a snowman in the driveway. I made one in the back yard. Emily threw a lot of snowballs and generally enjoyed the soft, pretty, wet whiteness.
And we were so very glad we did get out there in the darkness of early morning, because after school there wasn't much left.
My snowman was rolled together in two minutes flat, because I didn't have as much time out there as the kids (I was inside hurriedly getting Emily's lunch together and so on). So it had no facial features or frills. But it is STILL out there, standing fast after everything else melted around it.
S-N-O-W in Southern England!!!
Current 38 Reasons Not to Blog
1. Choir practice
2. Piano lessons for E
3. Drum lessons for J
4. Taking kids to school
5. Picking up kids
6. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry, tidying, etc.
7. Playing bridge
8. Prayer meeting for our kids and their school with Moms in Touch here
9. Attending meetings at school like this morning's Head of School Open Forum or Thursday's informational meeting about my son's upcoming 7th grade trip to Wales
10. Neighborhood coffee, meeting new neighbors and holding a 3-week-old baby
11. Lunch with a friend and visiting her house for the first time
12. Baking to have something fun for kids' friends to munch on when they come to play
15. Kissing kids good night, kissing husband good night
16. Processing mail
17. Cleaning off my desk (someday)
18. Welcoming new families to the school as Room Parent for my son's class - he got two new classmates today, and 8 more kids are joining the school next week, though I don't know if any will be in his class. I would think that would be very hard, joining a school in the middle of the year.
19. Texting my husband love notes
20. Sending my husband steamy notes at the office by postal mail
21. Arranging for babysitters so we can visit a home group from a local church
22. Figuring out which home groups to visit and contacting the leaders
23. Getting new shoes and a new belt for the kids to replace the trashed old ones
24. Researching mid-winter holiday options for a family who'd like to ski but whose dad can only take very limited time off during the kids' vacation time
25. House guest (country dancing in our living room, taking walks, playing games, cooking, praying, brainstorming about getting a dance ministry started here in England, since she led the one we adored in California)
26. International phone calls and emails regarding the sale of our house in France (yay)
27. Ferrying kids to friends' homes or the friends back to their homes
28. Seeing kids' dramatic productions at school
29. French tutoring
30. Taking son to youth group
31. Arranging for repair work to be done on house
32. Volunteering in daughter's classroom
33. Reading Bible
34. Reading Eldest (I'm now up to page 318/668)
35. Watching inspiring, positive movies with kids (thanks, Mom, for those Christmas presents)
36. Talking with husband, talking with kids
37. Making kids' lunches
38. Past time to go to bed (already) (again)
January 23, 2007
I was tagged (at least) twice for the same meme. A meme which has been utterly scorned (along with all its cousins) by famous bloggers, as you can read over at Julie's site. She did it anyway. I say "at least" twice because I have been hopelessly unable to keep up with blog-reading (never mind -writing) in the past few months.
Without further ado, it's the old "5 things you don't know about me" thang.
When I was growing up:
1. People often used to come up to me and ask me what was wrong. I would get all annoyed because nothing had been wrong, I just wasn't smiling. I guess I looked a little too serious. Sour puss? Or hopefully just pensive and deep?
2. My cat once brought in half a snake. I freaked out and went to the neighbor's house to ask for help with disposing of it.
3. I once stayed up all night making a backgammon board with a friend using some cardboard, scissors and markers. How that could have taken all night, I have no idea. Maybe we colored very painstakingly. I do remember it had very unusual colors.
4. I drove alone 3.5 hours up to Canada, bought a bilingual glass bottle of Coke, drank it, filled it with snow, and turned around to drive the 3.5 hours back again. Having lived 10 minutes from the next country prior to college, I was yearning to visit another country. I spoke to the border guards in French and they were all confused about why I would speak French, being American, and why I would be in their country for such a short time. They searched my car. And found nothing but a bottle of their snow I was sneaking across the border. I eventually had to get rid of the melted snow when icky things started growing in it.
5. My husband originally planned to propose to me in a tree, but it unexpectedly snowed that day (April in Massachusetts) and would have been too slippery to climb. He settled for my dorm room. I was too thrilled to notice where we were. I probably would have fallen out of the tree with glee.
Here's another happy spouse, Bryan Davis, who's also an author both my kids have really enjoyed. After reading the four Dragons in our Midst books last year, they were eager to read the prequel, Eye of the Oracle, just now since Christmas (609 pages, a whopper).
P.S. We all survived the windstorms just fine, and the latest weather extreme is the coldest spell we've had since moving to England. The air is courting with the freezing point of water...I know that's not cold for winter in lots of places, but here it's pretty cold. I mean gloves, scarves, lined hoods, ski parkas! My family all wishes it would snow just a little, for fun and beauty...but we're not sure that's going to happen.
January 18, 2007
Super, Duper, Duper Windy here today (and lately).
Last week a huge tree fell over in a big gust onto the main road near our house, completely blocking my side of the road, and I had to turn around and seek another way to pick up the kids from school, along with lots of other cars. The same afternoon, a water mains burst somewhere in the area, which had engineers coming to our front yard, connecting a pipe up to something at the edge of our lawn (we are at the end of the street), and flushing a bunch of water out.
Today, at another point along the same main road, another tree fell - but so near a car that it shattered the windshield and there were all kinds of tree bits still scattered on the car when I finally was allowed to drive past in the long line of traffic (on my way home). I am thankful it wasn't my car, with me in it.
Then when I got home, the enormous, powerful gusts of wind kept coming, making me very glad for the shelter we have here...and then the power went out (something I had been wondering about as I microwaved my lunch successfully just beforehand). I wonder whether the road will be clear on the way to school this afternoon...but obviously I can't post this until the power returns at some point. It's 1pm now, GMT.
* * *
Ah, 5pm, 4 hours later, the power just came back on. In the meantime, I opened & shut the garage door manually, then heard on the car radio that there have been a record number of motorway (highway) closures (25 of them) in the London area, due to high winds and many overturned lorries (trucks - tall 18-wheelers, I'm imagining). Also the stoplights were out on our way home from school, and although our route was clear, the radio announcer rushed through a huge list of roads closed due to fallen trees. Apparently the power went out at the school only for a few seconds this afternoon.
Emily had some homework to do when we got home from French tutoring, so I set her up with 14 candles at the dining room table to begin her work (it gets dark here about 4:15pm, especially when it's rainy).
I'm so thankful for the shelter of our home, for the return of power, and for my children home safely. Now I pray the train services will work adequately and securely to get my sweet one home from work tonight.
January 17, 2007
Shin Splints, Stereotypes, and a Small World
If shin splints are just "pains in the front of the lower legs caused by exercise" which "usually appear after a period of relative inactivity," then I had them this past weekend. A mild case, but it persisted from Saturday morning until Tuesday.
I went for that 7.5 mile walk through Windsor Great Park right up to Windsor Castle and back on Friday. Only I didn't know it was a speed walk. And I didn't know all these ladies walk for an hour at breakneck speed every single morning at another location, and this was their annual extravaganza during which they celebrate their fitness by extending the breakneck pace for two hours. I don't have a habit of purposely exercising at the moment and I just jumped into this cold turkey (if that can be used for starting and not just stopping an activity), crazy woman that I am.
I enjoyed being out there in the fresh air, seeing the hundred or so deer sitting in the grass in the deer park along the way, not being rained upon, meeting and chatting with other ladies, and seeing Windsor Castle up close for the first time, but I have to admit I was not physically prepared. I think of myself as a pretty fast walker in general, but I don't typically keep it up for two hours straight. You know, as in, I can walk really fast from the bedroom to the kitchen, the kitchen to the garage, the car to the school reception area, and the store back to the car.
Apparently 7.5 miles in 2 hours is not very fast, from what I read online. I've never looked into walking speeds before. I was walking as fast as I could; I would have had to jog to catch up to people ahead. Maybe it was a lot more than 7.5 miles then. There's a reason it's called The Long Walk (just that part is about 3 miles each way, in a straight line). Nothing that could be compared, of course, with the 300-mile Long Walk of the Navajos in 1864.
Anyway, pointing and flexing my feet was killing me (no wait, that's what really happened to the Navajos; it's was only hurting me a little) on Saturday and Sunday (and each step was a new reminder of my possibly foolish expedition), and even to Tuesday I was noticing the discomfort while holding the clutch down in the car. At stoplights I shifted into neutral until the last moment. Today, Wednesday, I'm pleased to say I've completely recovered.
Enough on the shin splints, and on to the stereotypes. This week I met a woman who I thought only existed in movies. Life can be surprising like that, when you expand your social circles. I had to remind myself that God totally loves this woman and all people of her type, and values them just as much as me or anyone else. And that I know hardly anything about her, only the box I put her in. I can be so judgmental. God sees underneath. He sees her the way he sees me, a bundle of complex issues of different kinds, full of needs, most especially the need for a Redeemer. You're probably not thinking of the kind of person of which I'm speaking in this instance, but I'm not describing her in this public forum.
Now, the Small World phenomenon strikes again. This morning at choir practice here in England, I met another new person, and we discovered that not only had we both lived near San Francisco (amongst many other places), we actually lived in the very same town of Sunnyvale (there are a lot of towns in Northern California). Furthermore, we had both lived near Chicago - and both only for a short time, long enough to have a baby, a boy, at the very same hospital in Highland Park, Illinois. But two years apart. That was a first for me, to meet someone elsewhere in the world who'd delivered at the same small hospital (or even heard of it).
...Okay, this gets freakier. While I was writing this, she sent me an email. But then I guess maybe that's not so freaky - I gave her my greeting card this morning with my email address on it. And the pretty violet flower...but I didn't expect her to write (or so soon).
In final news for today: a buyer signed on the dotted line today in Southern France, committing to buy our house there by March 15th! That's a month earlier than expected, not that we were really expecting anything, having been waiting since last May for something to happen in this domain! I'm very thankful to God for answering our prayers at last (perfectly on time, I'm sure, for whatever reason, after 8 months on the market).