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October 31, 2007

Would really like to be a blogger

Oh look, I have a web log! All I have to do is type into this window and hit "save" and voilà, a blog post!

It's just that I have hundreds of other more urgent matters to attend to.

Like the feet of stuff on my desk (God truly knows what all is in there, but I don't). And the pages of items on my to do list (ditto).

I would like to tell you all about last week's trip to Normandy (with photos of Omaha Beach, Juno Beach, Mont-Saint-Michel and the Bayeux Tapestry and Cathedral), but....oh look, my thirty seconds for the day are up.

October 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 18, 2007

UK Thanksgiving and a Friend's New Baby

I guess I was wrong about Thanksgiving being a non-celebration here. They are having a Thanksgiving Service on the actual day in St. Paul's Cathedral in London! That's a pretty prominent location!

Also, did you know that the Puritans who landed in Plymouth, MA in 1620 and later celebrated the first Thanksgiving also departed from Plymouth, a town in the UK? Well, the original Plymouth celebrates their part in it, too! They have a whole festival, with an Elizabeth Open House and an American football game, a Christmas light Switch-on, a Motown concert and a Gala Dinner Dance! Hmmm, what are we doing that weekend?

View Larger Map
Oh, never mind, it turns out to be almost 4 hours' drive from us (Experimenting with customizable, insertable Google maps; fun!). Rats. But it was fun to think about.

A bit closer to home: I didn't even know until yesterday that there is a Hard Rock Café in London. There are three in England (Manchester and Nottingham being the other two). What's even more surprising to me is that the one in London is the original one, from 1971 (and now there are 143 in 36 countries or so). I guess this is surprising because I think the only HRC I've ever been to was in Aspen (which apparently closed in 2000). You're wondering now why I brought up the Hard Rock Café? For the simple reason that they allegedly serve a Thanksgiving meal, along with a bunch of other places that don't sound quite as familiar.

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Congratulations to my dear friend Wendy in Southern California, who had her first baby on September 30th! I am so happy for Wendy. She is a sweet woman with whom I went to college and sang, and later was a fabulous babysitter for our kids and is still a great chef (yum, I still remember one particular succulent and flavorful chicken dish she made for us) and pianist. Wish I could go visit her and her husband and baby, as Wendy came to visit me even in the hospital after I had Emily, and then at home many times. She gave Emily her first home full bath, while I was outside trying to get in a little whiffle ball playing with poor Jason (3.5 yrs at the time) who needed a little action and attention. Blessings on you, Wendy!

October 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 17, 2007

Christmas Cake and Mince Pies Already?

They were selling Christmas Cake and Mince Pies in the grocery stores here in England already on October 12th. Is this because Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving aren't much celebrated in England, so they have to skip straight from Easter to Christmas? Or have I forgotten and Christmas goodies are already for sale in grocery stores in the U.S.?

Actually, they are selling a little bit of Hallowe'en stuff in another area of the shop at the same time, probably because there are so many Americans living around here. I bought a stash of Mars, Twix, Bounty, and KitKat bars in fun-size to give away on October 31st, since our street has a lot of kids who like to dress up and politely come around. Even though I don't much like Hallowe'en itself, I do like dressing up (in non-scary, non-occult costumes), and I do like chocolate (but not hard or chewy candy in unnatural colors), and I do like neighbourhoods getting outside together and doing friendly things.

But since I like chocolate perhaps a tad overmuch, I prayed for help to escape the temptation of trying just one of each right away (right, with 12 days left until the day, how much would be left by then if I started on that path?), and sealed up all the bags of candy, unopened, in an orange bag and wrote in permanent marker on the outside: "To Open on October 31st!" and drew a heart around it. I put it up high where no one will notice it much (including me!). I'm sure I'll get plenty of tastes of it all once the holiday comes around! In the meantime, I have other chocolate of higher quality if I should want some.

October 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

My son beat me in ping-pong

Yesterday, for the first time, my son beat me at ping-pong. The resounding defeat (two games in a row) hit me so hard that I am home in bed sick with a cold today. Later that same evening, he beat David twice as well. All that practice has paid off at last. Not two weeks ago I beat him 13 games in a row on the same day. I guess I let that resounding success go to my head and got cocky. Maybe I'll still have a comeback...

These rites of passage are deep. It reminds me of two years ago when Jason started being able to ski faster than I. A similar feeling of reversal of role.

Only this time it's symbolic - Jason is turning into a teenager this month. Such a milestone. And in six months we'll have only double-digit aged kids.

Now I'm just waiting for Jason to be taller than I am. At least I have a while to go for that. As far as I know. Until that sudden growth spurt. Ah, the bittersweet joys of motherhood. Train them up to let them go. Into the world of international ping-pong tournaments.

October 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 15, 2007

Tired but Happy

Tired but happy because:

Sun 30 Sep: lunch with family from our new church, at their house

Mon 1 Oct: Emily had a friend over to play, Jason happily at play practice for "The Little Prince"

Tues 2 Oct: another friend of Emily's over, Jason happily drumming away with his teacher, who drums on horseback for the Queen of England...

Wed 3 Oct: helped at school book fair

Thurs 4 Oct: Jason to orthodontist, discovered he will switch from removable jaw widener to traintrack braces in December (big change and progress). Emily and I to a very favorable routine conference with her teacher (no school). Then E to yet another friend's house to play, whilst Jason and I played a marathon two hours of ping-pong together (thirteen straight games to 21; that's a lot of points played). We have this new table-top contraption that turns a regular dining room table into a ping-pong table. Very very cool (and oh so much cheaper than a real ping-pong table).

Fri 5 Oct: E over to friend's who came over on Mon. Later, took Emily away just the two of us for a very special overnight. See Passport to Purity. It was a great time together.

Sat 6 Oct: After our return, a neighbourhood open house from 3-8pm at my wonderful God-sent new friend Mary's house. She blogs too! It was great to meet a lot of the neighbours we'd never seen before, especially the husbands and children of many of the women I'd already spoken with at weekday coffees throughout the past year.

Sun 7 Oct: neighbours came with us to ABC (our new church)

Mon 8 Oct: my first time helping shelve books in the lower school library - did I ever mention I love sorting things??! I really enjoyed it. Right up my alley. Then another friend of Emily's over to play...(the social saga)

Tues 9 Oct: our first rental property inspection in 9 months (they are supposed to come round to check on us every three months...). They are going to recommend that the owners paint all the ceilings, redo the sealants at the back of all the sinks, redecorate where there was a leak in the powder room, and possibly completely redo the master shower, which doesn't seem to have been made all that well and has had several problems.

Wed 10 Oct: plumber was here for 5.5 hours fixing the leak from the clean water tank for the downstairs toilet...apparently everything crumbled when he got in there to remove the worn-out O-ring.

Fri 12 Oct: finalized, printed up, folded, stapled, and distributed (walking with Mary the blessing) a neighbourhood directory to 20 households on our street (that's how many, out of 28, wanted to be listed - a pretty good rate of participation, I thought).

Sat 13 Oct: Checked up on the first of four school "family photo days" at which 54 families are sitting for holiday photos, with a talented photographer. After getting all these families (which represent about 220 people) shoehorned into 30-minute time slots on two weekends, I had to deliver the final version of the schedule to the photographer and his assistant (incorporating the last-minute cancellations), and make sure they were indeed all set up and ready to go. Then I tidied the house, baked banana bread, and packed up all the items we needed to bring to our third DANCE EVENING. Picked up our lovely friend Elizabeth at the train, because she graciously fills the role of caller for the 18th/19th century dances we organize here in the UK, as she did in California, with her parents. Then we went and danced from 7:30-10pm, with 53 participants! The community is growing: our first dance in March had 18, the second in June brought 40. I am so thankful to God for answering all my prayers for a wonderful night.

Sun 14 Oct: Ok, we've made it to the baptism day. A beautiful landmark which I've already described. Lunch out and Elizabeth delivered back to the train. Oh, and we'd had one of Emily's friends overnight with us so she could come to the dance too, and then that afternoon Emily was spontaneously invited to go swimming with her friend's family, so off she went (extensions of playdates are always fun). When she finally got back home again, both Emily and Jason rode their bikes down to my neighbour friend Mary's house to play in the back yard with her kids (and their fun trampoline). I ran out of energy.

Today, Mon 15 Oct: back to normal life: cleaning, tidying, laundry, linens changed, meal-planning, shopping, cleaning the inside of the windshield, dishes, baking "Neiman Marcus cookies",chauffeuring, cooking, hugging, more laundry, and more dishes. On the NM cookies: I knew it was an urban legend, but what I didn't know until I read that link back there just now was that NM didn't even make cookies until AFTER the hoax email started circulated. Then they developed a cookie recipe to sell and published the recipe for free. It's quite different from the one in the urban legend (and I haven't tried their real version, but the hoax one is great, except my version omits the baking soda somehow and it still works fine).

So now I'm really tired and ready for bed.

And really thankful for so many blessings. Including the little red-breasted robin in the yard, a husband who waltzes divinely, a clean house, a full tank of gas, no rain while grocery shopping, and a God who listens and loves all the time.

October 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 14, 2007

What a Week: Jason's Baptism!

I am already going to have to amend the title of this post from "What a Week" to "What a Two Weeks!" after realizing that it's been exactly that since I last wrote here. Unbelievable, the pace of life sometimes.

Let's go straight to the greatest event of the two weeks: our son Jason, 13 next week, was baptized today (or baptised, as they write it here in England). I don't recall being quite that emotional in recent times. I had to hunt for the tissues in my purse and use several. I was filled with a strong sense of thankfulness to God for bringing my son to this point of asking (all on his own initiative) to be identified with the Lord in his death, burial, and resurrection...and I was so touched to the core as Jason stood before the whole congregation and declared his allegiance to God and his dependence on the Holy Spirit to walk with Him the rest of his life, forgiven and cleansed. As Jason came up out of the water, supported on one side by Dave, the youth pastor, and on the other by my husband, another David, the band struck up "In Christ Alone" - a song whose awesome words I blogged about back in June, but it's so great I have to mention my favorite lines again:

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
It was so very relevant to what Jason was doing as the music played - making a new beginning in life, drawing a line in the sand and moving forward with Jesus as his Commander and Protector and Provider and Redeemer and Refuge.

At least six people from the church, of which we've only been a part for a few months, prayed for Jason and spoke words from God over him. Such powerful, encouraging, touching, gentle, affirming words from the Lord. Some straight out of scripture, and some more personal. There was such joy, such peace, such rightness. Thank You, God of the Universe, for loving my son, and for loving me.

I had been slightly concerned about the service because we'd never seen a baptism at this church before and weren't sure exactly how they did it, plus we had two guests with us (one not a Christian yet) and another lovely neighbour family too who were there only for their second time at ABC. But I kept praying and asking God to be in charge of everything to do with the morning, and to take care of how it all went, and people's reactions, etc. Then by the time it was all happening, I could think of nothing else but the excitement and awesomeness of it all.

Another woman was baptized after Jason and God blessed her strongly as well. The song she picked was Amazing Love, How can it be, that You my God have died for me...

October 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack