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April 30, 2008

Dragon Fruit

DragonfruitoutsideEver tried Dragon Fruit? I've noticed it in our grocery store here in the UK for a while, and then I saw an article online a blog post on Randall's blog about it. Sorry for the delayed credit, Randall; forgot where I saw it!

Tonight was the night, after waiting two days for it to ripen. We cut it into quarters and each scooped out the flesh with a teaspoon.

The verdict: very mild with a surprising-looking inside.

David says it's like white kiwi without the kiwi taste.

Jason and Emily didn't care for it.

I thought it was interesting and pretty and certainly palatable, but definitely very subtle. Closer to pear and melon than kiwi, but with kiwi-like seeds, only more prevalent. A novelty but not something we need to add to our regular diet. Except it is full of Vitamin C and other great things apparently. So I'll keep it mind for the next time I need to keep dinner guests guessing what they're eating for dessert.


April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 26, 2008

Cough, Sneeze, Gravel, Ache

We will be ALL well by Friday, I am praying, and certainly by the following Sunday, for various good reasons.

But for now,
Emily is coughing (mais bien sûr, cela fait 112 jours),
Jason is sneezing and sniffling,
I have gravel in my throat and just took a 2-hour nap (I "never" nap),
and David is achy and tired.

Stay away from our house this weekend.
We're resting up and healing up.
God willing. Please.

Because next weekend, the Parade of Grandparental Spring Visits begins. We WILL be well! :-) (that's why we started on these illnesses early)

Outside in the back garden, however,
innocent, white blossoms festoon the tall tree at the far left,
saturated, fierce red fireworks shoot from the azalea bush,
and a new, cheerier, more jovial birdsong competition has been running.

April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 17, 2008

Ways to Maintain Control of a Classroom

I know a perceptive school lad who has noticed that there are different approaches teachers take to try to maintain control of a class of students:

- Some use "Control By Fear" - they scare the students into submission

- Some use "Control by Ridicule" - they embarrass the students into submission

- Some use "Control by Love" - they make the kids love & respect them, which leads the kids to seek the teacher's respect in return, by behaving well

Then there are the teachers who don't seem to care whether they have control or not. They make empty threats which are never carried out, losing any respect they might have had. Or they talk down to the kids, not treating them like intelligent, real people. Or they hand out treats whether the students behave well or not, effectively making it useless to behave well.

Lord, let me learn from these observations my young, thoughtful friend shared with me.

April 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 13, 2008

Kew Gardens

David and I had a 24-hour date this weekend (after the pancakes with the children). This was spurred by our wonderful sitter contacting us saying she's looking for work. A great reminder! We hadn't used her since December, since we have a responsible teenager of our own, now, capable of evenings out. But for 24 hours, it's good to have someone around who drives, cooks, plays soccer and ping-pong, and prays! What a gift to parents.

Anyway, we went to Kew Gardens, someplace I've been aspiring to visit since we moved to England, without fruit until now. It's a really good thing we didn't bring the kids with us, because we spent five hours there, on our feet for a good solid four of those hours, and there weren't even that many things in bloom! Not too surprising, considering it snowed last week. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful time together, despite the several sudden downpours of either hail or rain, during which we took shelter in various glasshouses, Kew Palace, or gift shops/cafés.

Kew Gardens is a 300-acre royal botanical garden, which was planted around Kew Palace (more of a big house, really), where beloved King George III and Queen Charlotte lived part of their lives, with various of their FIFTEEN children. The wikipedia article says that they met on their wedding day, had a genuinely happy marriage, and he never took a mistress, unlike most of his predecessors and descendants. All the fifteen kids were from the same mother and father (born over the course of 21 years, 1-3 years apart), and Queen Charlotte didn't die until age 74 (we stood a few feet from the chair in which she died, upstairs in Kew Palace). A strong, healthy woman (and blessed - a lot of people died in childbirth in those days, and only two of her kids died as children). I found it humorous that the oldest maternity hospital in the United Kingdom (in London since 1739) is named after Charlotte - along with Charlotte, NC (nicknamed "The Queen City") and Charlottesville, VA! I never stopped to wonder! Cool.

George III & Charlotte were also the Grandparents of Queen Victoria, and Great-Great-Great Grandparents of Britain's current Queen (Elizabeth II). QE2 spent her 80th birthday dinner in the dining room at Kew Palace with 26 royals (menu at that link) - we walked through it and imagined.

It was during George III's reign that the United Kingdom came into existence (the union of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland). Also, this is the King George from whom the United States seceded! Wikipedia mentions these interesting statistics:

George III lived for 81 years and 239 days and reigned for 59 years and 96 days—both his life and his reign were longer than any previous English or British monarch. Only George's granddaughter Queen Victoria exceeded his record, though Elizabeth II has lived longer. George III's reign was longer than the total reign of his three immediate predecessors (Queen Anne, King George I and King George II) combined.

My very brief and inadequate summary of their 15 kids:
1. George IV - profligate & overweight; was King for last ten years of his life, 58-68 yrs old (having been Prince Regent before that when his dad was ill with porphyria); had one daughter, who died at age 21, after childbirth - a tragic story - it makes me SO glad I live now, in the age of medical enlightenment. The succession of rule could have been so very different if they hadn't leeched and starved this healthy pregnant woman.

2. Frederick, Duke of York - married to Frederica Charlotte (a little confusing, to have the same name as one's husband and mother-in-law); youngest bishop in history, at 196 days old. No legitimate children (but lots of others; separated from wife early on), died age 63. This is the guy named in the song "The Grand Old Duke of York!" Wow. Nearly missed that in the wikipedia article.

3.William IV - Lived with an Irish actress for 20 years and had 10 children with her before realizing he might become King. Later separated from her, and married Princess Adelaide to try to produce a legitimate heir. Had two legitimate daughters who died before 3 months of age. Was King for 7 years, until his death at age 71 (1837). Succeeded by his niece, Queen Victoria.

4.Charlotte, Princess Royal - became Queen of Württemberg (part of Germany), had one stillborn daughter; lived to age 62 (1828).

5. Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent - Married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (at Kew Palace), and became father of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom! He died at age 52, 6 days before his father King George III, when Victoria was 8 months old. He was never King, yet his daughter became a Queen after whom a whole era was named (because none of her father's older siblings produced heirs who lived long enough).

6. Princess Augusta Sophia - never married, and lived to age 71 (1840). And that's about all wikipedia has to say about her.

7. Princess Elizabeth - married and moved to Germany with her husband; no children, died age 69 (1840).

8. Ernest Augustus I of Hanover - became King of Hanover (now part of Lower Saxony in Germany) because Victoria couldn't do that as a woman (this separated the royal houses of Hanover and the United Kingdom, which had been held together). Married his first cousin Frederica (her third marriage; she already had 8 children!), moved to Germany to rule Hanover & had a son, George V of Hanover (who was later deposed and Hanover was annexed by Prussia and that was the end of that). Two other babies died. Died age 80 (1851). Memorable quote: The King made a point of welcoming English visitors, and when one English lady told him that she had been lost in the city, the King denied that this was possible, as "the whole country is no larger than a fourpenny piece".

9. Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex - Okay, so Augustus married Augusta, they had a boy and a girl, whom they named Augustus and Augusta. Okay? But then the marriage was annulled because it hadn't gotten the approval of the King beforehand. Hmmmm. Then he married Cecilia (again, unapproved by the King), a widow who that day changed her last name from her 1st husband's to her mother's! They had no kids. He gave his niece Victoria away in marriage to Prince Albert (he was her favorite uncle). He died age 70 (1843).

10. Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge - married another Augusta, had a son and two daughters (only one of whom was called Augusta, strangely enough). All his kids survived, married and had kids of their own. One grandchild even became Queen Mary by marriage, consort to King George V of the United Kingdom (1910-1936 - getting into the modern era, here!). So that makes Adolphus the great-great-grandfather of the current Queen, QE2. He died age 76.

11. Princess Mary - the longest living child of King George III. She wasn't allowed to marry the guy she was in love with even though he was a Dutch prince, because her dad wanted her older sisters to marry first (then her beloved died and she was allowed into official mourning). Later she married her first cousin and they lived at Bagshot Park, 10 minutes from our house here (there's a Mexican restaurant of dubious quality in Bagshot now...). They had no kids. Mary lived to 81, last surviving child of the 15 issue of her parents (1857).

12. Princess Sophia - never married, was blind for her last ten years of life, died age 70 (1848). The only thing she is known for are nasty rumors, poor thing.

13. Prince Octavius - so named because he was the 8th son...but he died at age 4. His father said, "There will be no heaven for me if Octavius is not there."

14. Prince Alfred - died age 2.

15. Princess Amelia - supposedly the favorite of her father - he called her Emily! Never married, died age 27, of tuberculosis and other stuff.

This sums up to 15 royal children producing only 8 legitimate royal grandchildren total! Of those 8, only 5 lived past age 21. I wonder what happened to the tons of illegitimate ones. How sad.

Time to make dinner.

April 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

My Dad and Husband - the Pancake Guys

My dad often used to make pancakes on Saturday mornings. A favorite memory, it is.

Now my husband often wakes up on Saturday mornings thinking of pancakes, and makes them. I am so richly blessed!

The kids and I love bananas and nuts in our pancakes, so David makes the batter, and Jason slices bananas & breaks walnuts/pecans, Emily sets the table...a lovely family weekend tradition. And nutritious, what with the batter being wholegrain and all...Thanks, Lord, for my father and my husband and my children. And whole wheat pancakes with bananas and nuts, and strawberries on top.

The strawberries are on a plate that I painted a few weeks ago at Genevieve's Gallery, a pottery-painting place in Englefield Green, similar in idea to Petroglyph in Silicon Valley, only on a smaller scale. There is ONE table there, that can seat about 8! But that was enough for me and my two kids, and we had a grand time.

April 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Plentiful Hail

Hail3We've had an unusual amount of hail in the past few weeks. It's pretty cool to look at.

April 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 07, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Snow Woman


April 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 06, 2008

Snow in Sunningdale on April 6th!

SnowwomanWe awoke this morning to a post-Easter, last-day-of-spring-break, April 6th winter wonderland in our yard! Tomorrow school starts again, but for today we bundled up, went outside, and played in the snow as a family. Snowmen, snowball fights, tracks in the snow, target practice at the house (watch out for the windows), etc. David made a whole family of mini-snowmen.
4minisnowmenBranchsnowGrapehyacinthssnowPinkbudssnowSnowyredleavesI think the spring buds and blossoms are quite happy that the snow has pretty much melted now, the same afternoon.

April 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 02, 2008

Had Enough Greek Photos Yet?

For those who were still dying to see photos from our last Greek point of exploration, here begin our photos of Corinth and our photos of Acrocorinth (the high rock outcropping overlooking Corinth, with Medieval Castle ruins). A little taste of Acrocorinth:

On the mundane level:
The appliance mechanic has come and gone this morning, and taught me how to circumvent the dryer's finicky nature (hold the start button down for 10 seconds, and if that doesn't work, then pump it; normally one press is supposed to work). This should keep me happy until the landlords decide whether to replace the whole dryer or just the expensive module it apparently needs.

And the fine British rain falls softly...

April 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 01, 2008

A First in my Flying Experience

On our flight from Zürich to London Heathrow yesterday, on Swiss International Airlines:

Real-time views of the sky and ground beneath us and in front of us during the first and last portions of the flight, displayed on the overhead video screens! Not a map or a cartoon, the real thing!

As the airline's site says about their Airbus line:

"Full view: Would you like to experience the world on board the Airbus A340 from the pilots’ perspective in the cockpit? Just remain seated and look at your screen. Our two on-board cameras show you the world in front of the plane and underneath."

Watching the landing was like playing with a flight simulator - I wanted to have some controls, to make sure we landed okay! It was quite exciting to see the ground rushing up at us.

The flight attendant told me only a few select aircraft have these special cameras installed. I was glad we happened to be on one of them. Fun.

April 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack