October 06, 2008

What I Miss and What I Love Here

(this mentions only a few, in a short and incomplete list, and speaks of things, not people)

What I miss from France (we were only there a year):
- the French language (and understanding everyone)
- the crêperie in Montpellier (non-smoking, no less, even before all restaurants in France became non-smoking)
- the local bakeries

What I miss from England:
- Waitrose grocery store's delicious prepared foods, ready to bake for dinner
- our garbage disposal
- unlimited trash pickup in any kind of bag
- weekly recycling pickup
- mixed paper recycling (pieces of any size)
- the "free" visits to the local doctor's office for any reason
- the easy 100% reimbursements from the health insurance company
- being able to communicate easily with everyone (though I don't miss the English language in general)
- youth group for Jason with other kids his age
- my two daytime ladies' Bible studies, one with locals and one with ex-pats
- non-smoking

What I miss from California:
- the laundry chute (and garbage disposal)
- Jamba Juice
- Tomatina
- Una Más
- Cold Stone Creamery
- Ben & Jerry's that was not $8.79 per pint
- abundant sunshine
- our orthodontist
- our dentist
- solid, in-depth, methodical Bible teaching
- convenient, close stores of every kind
- non-smoking

What I love here in Zurich, Switzerland, so far:
- mountains, with and without snow
- Swiss culture in general
- Swiss flags that make my face brighten (because I love Switzerland)
- raclette, rösti, and spätzli
- hazelnut yogurts and Biberli almond cakes
- fresh, cool air
- heated floors, no hot air flowing around
- no need for air conditioning
- good solid season changes
- peace and quiet
- stores closed on Sundays
- a church that invited my son to play drums Sunday mornings
- such close proximity to so many countries and languages
- a chance for me and my kids to learn another language by using it

October 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 21, 2008

Summer in England

This morning I woke up at 5:50am on the "longest" day of the year, no longer able to sleep...and excited to come downstairs to a fine drizzle outside (which has continued all day long, off and on).

Excited, because not only is it a Saturday, but it is also the first official day of summer, AND the first day of summer vacation for the kids!

Furthermore, we finished up our car sale transaction today, many thanks be to God, and the buyers drove off in it. They had already transferred the funds into our account, in an act of faith...and when they arrived to pick up the car several days later, the first thing they said was, "So here it is...you haven't run away with it..." They were a very nice couple the same age as us. They didn't bring their four little kids this time.

While we were out in the garage for the occasion, the kids noticed Emily's bike, which is the only one not dismantled and packed in a narrow cardboard box, because the packers ran out of that kind of box yesterday. So both kids promptly got on and rode it - simultaneously, even though there is no 2nd place to sit (only a plastic mud guard). Jason pedalled standing up and Emily sat! They had a great time. Both in flip-flops (I hid my eyes and prayed for safety as I went into the house, playing the fretting mother oh so well).

This morning when Emily emerged from her bedroom, she remarked how strange it is to come down the stairs and see the dining room all boxed up. I brought up the aroma: "It smells like cardboard in here."

Emily replied, "I like it. It smells like moving."

This is the kind of childhood we are giving our children - they like moving! Weird stuff.

June 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 19, 2008

Reminiscent of October

It's June 19th.

I'm wearing jeans and a warm, fuzzy sweater over my T-shirt.

The chilly wind is blowing the trees around.

I'm very comfortable. It's easy to sleep at night.

There's something to be said for England's climate when the alternative is 100 degrees (38 C) and the need for artificial air conditioning. The high here yesterday was 64 F (18 C). Not exactly summery, but perfectly comfortable if you like sweaters.

In other notes, the moving company descends tomorrow. Either I'm missing something big or the Lord is just being extra-super gracious, because I am feeling very calm. It is true that they won't do too much tomorrow (maybe the garage, living room, dining room, playroom, guest room?), and we have the weekend to ourselves in the house with our bedrooms, bathrooms, office, and kitchen intact, so maybe it'll be Sunday night that I get into more of a moving mode. Or maybe it'll be calm all the way, who knows. It's also true that after the moving van takes away all our stuff, we are going on a week of vacation, so maybe that's calming me too.

Recent accomplishments:
- cancelled a UK credit card we won't need
- asked for medical/dental records from various offices
- filed papers
- read the rental inventory to make sure the packers don't take anything that belongs to this house and we put everything back where it belongs
- went to the school to see Emily play in a guitar duet in her classroom with a friend
- cleaned off my desk
- enjoyed some final conversations with friends here

Today is the kids' final full day at school. One more half-day tomorrow and they are out for the summer.

June 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

London By Night

When the grandparents were here, we took in a play in London's West End. Walking back to Waterloo train station afterwards in the dark, we we paused on a footbridge next to a railbridge, and looked across the Thames at the London Eye to the left, and Big Ben with the Houses of Parliament to the right:
I had some fun jiggling my camera around at the city lights: Londoneyenight1Londonthamesshotnight

Here's the bridge we were standing on, with the London Eye (an enormous closed ferris wheel that holds up to twenty-five people per cabin) at the bottom of the photo - isn't it neat to see the shadow of the London Eye reaching all the way to our bridge?

View Larger Map

In finding this google satellite image, I also enjoyed looking at the satellite view of Westminster Abbey right near Big Ben:

View Larger Map

May 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 09, 2008

Savill Garden, Surrey, UK


May 9, 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

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

March 26, 2008

Amy Walker 21 accents

Back on the 8th of January, I noted that I am reading from the British twist on the New International Version of the Bible this year, and I mentioned the differently spelled words I had found in that one week already. Since then, I have accumulated a bunch more:

British American Where I found it
baptised baptized Romans
labour labor Joshua & Isaiah
honour/honourable honor/honorable Matthew/Isaiah
defence, offence defense, offense Job
enquire inquire Judges
recognised recognized Genesis
tumours tumors 1 Samuel
favour favor Isaiah
splendour splendor Isaiah
grey gray 1 Samuel

There was also a reference to pounds instead of dollars! (in a footnote on Matthew 18:24)

Then more recently I discovered that the British version of the NIV Complete Concordance has a whole appendix of all the words they changed for the British NIV - some are just spelled differently, and others are completely exchanged.

By the way, Isaiah is pronounced I-ZYE-UH in England instead of I-ZAY-UH like in the U.S.

Another difference I've noticed in England: they say ONE Peter or TWO Chronicles instead of FIRST Peter or SECOND Chronicles (and so on). Interesting and hard to remember to do when it's been ingrained the other way.

Speaking of different twists on a language, have you seen Amy Walker's 21 accents? I thought it was very good on all counts (except the area(s) you're actually from, where you probably notice it's not quite right... ha ha. It was like that with me for the French, but everything else I couldn't tell if it wasn't perfect).

And furthermore speaking of different backgrounds and cultures, check out this article about the idea of Bobby Jindal as a suggestion for Vice Presidential running mate. Hat tip to Julie Leung (she and my husband both went to college with Bobby, a real life nice guy).

March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2008

Gently Falling Snow on Easter Morning

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

Happy Easter - we awoke this morning to gently falling snowflakes dotting the green landscape of our back yard. It is snowing on the daffodils, the magnolia blossoms, the greenery of the lilac tree...and the doves. It's 2 degrees C out (35 F), and supposed to get up to about 5C (41F) later today, so the snow won't stay around, even though it is starting to stick a little on the cooler shrubs and corners of the driveway. Yesterday's flurries didn't stick at all.

It's BEAUTIFUL and calming. Thank you, Lord, for this little extra Easter gift.

These days I've been waking up with my eyes closed, face to face with my heart and going "Ew! Dark, ugly, weak, treacherous! Oh help me, Lord!"

I think it's time I change my habit and wake up face to face with God instead, going "Ah! Beautiful and calming! Gracious, strong, wise, glorious! Hallelujah!"

I think I will like waking up much better and get a better start on my day. Eyes on Him, not on myself. Reprogramming myself and my schedule for tomorrow morning...Accessing...Lock.

We serve a God who raises from the dead! What better promise of redemption for me.

March 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2008

Hail, Rain, Snow, Clouds, Sun, Wind - all Today


The weather here in southest England has been appropriately dramatic and extreme yesterday and today, honoring God with fierceness at the memory of when He was briefly dead in humanity's place, between Good Friday at 3pm and Easter morning early.

Yesterday on Good Friday we had sun, clouds, rain, hail, thunder, and lightning.

SnowedonforsythiaToday was a repeat, adding snow and wind to the mix. Above are the hailstones in front of our house, below are the snowflakes blurring the blooming yellow Forsythia bush - it's supposed to be spring! The sun did come out at the end of the wild day. Like Jesus rising in His glory after suffering the storm of cruelty and punishment.

Watching The Passion of the Christ on Good Friday is a horrific and helpful way to dismiss any "woes" I have ever had and remember the most (literally) earth-shattering moments in history. Super-sobering and a very useful tool for over-18s to focus on what the Lord really willingly chose to submit to out of His steadfast love for each of us, His precious and fallen creatures. I wondered whether any movie theatres thought to offer a special Good Friday re-showing of this movie.

March 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack