Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A walk down Nena and Papaw’s driveway brings..

.. the enthusiastic company of a furry, four-footed companion

.. opportunities to let the ‘little tractor’ plow the cornfield

.. learning how to skip (hilarious, I might add)

.. learning how to take giant steps (also hilarious)

.. peeks at the big tunnels, the fountain, and sometimes the itsy bitsy teeny tiny tunnel

.. the chance to see two planes and two jets (!)

.. watching my big boy sit down and follow the aircraft with his eyes until they are impossible to see

.. many, many trucks and cars to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at as they drive by

.. games of ‘race car’ that involve many wrecks and rescues, as well as many successful attempts in beating Mama :)

.. the gorgeous muted colors of the rainbow in the cloudless sky as the sun sets

.. listening to my oldest marvel at the colors by my side

.. ending the walk by playing outside until the sun goes down (Aed has held on to his Scottish tolerance of the cold :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our dear, sweet, funny, funny Aed

Aed is a unique child, as they all are. But sometimes, it's hard not to think he might have a little more 'weird' in him than the average kid. Wouldn't really be surprising, given his parents. One of my favorite things during the day is to just watch and listen to see what he will do.. and try to figure out what he is thinking.

He loves all things wheeled. All things. It is incredible to me the excitement that a few cars and a cardboard box can bring (he especially loved the ‘snot box’ (tissue box) from a few days ago as a little house for his cars). He even turned ‘school time’ into putting-the-car-in-its-garage-so-it-can-sleep time.

His current obsession is letters and words. His frequent request is, ‘I must make letters on your computer!’ But he’s always loved to read books. We discovered him all cozied up in the buggy one day and couldn’t resist the photo.

While Aed is not a lover of change, he does love things that are out of the ordinary and, much to my delight, is very easily excited. A while back, his hair had gotten really long and was bothering his forehead. As a solution, I gave him a little ponytail right on top. He loved it so much! Daddy didn’t love it so much, but Aed and I thought it was awesome :).

We have discovered since living here that Aed’s fear of loud noises is much more intense than we realized. He is petrified of anything loud, and even the possibility of anything loud.. hand dryers, the flush of an unfamiliar toilet (can you tell he hates public restrooms?), elephants, etc. I should qualify though, that it’s really only unfamiliar and unexpected loud noises. For example, he loves to hear fire engine sirens and helicopters overhead.

So, there were a few free events for kids in September that I thought our kids would enjoy. Turns out I was wrong. They were in a little enclosed courtyard where you just couldn’t position yourself far enough away from the speakers while still being close enough to see. So Asher, confused, stared at the speakers the whole time..

And our little phonophobic boy sat there with his teeth gritted, stiffly waiting for the torture to end.

We did go back to one other show, me thinking I could position us further from the speakers, but no luck (though I can say that he enjoyed the second show more than the first.. the sound was a little more under control). Now any time we walk in that direction he says, ‘We’re not going to go see the clown!?’ Also, every time we go to the zoo we hear, ‘We’re not going to go see the elephants!?’ after a harrowing experience at the elephant exhibit on our first visit.

Another thing I love about Aed is that he currently sleeps under a laundry basket. He calls it his cage (a name he came up with, not us :) and loves to cozy up under there with Porter and his blankie.

This particular instance was actually even more strange because he fell asleep on his own in our bed. He NEVER sleeps in the day any more, let alone just falling asleep where he was lying. We were beginning to wonder if the laundry basket was magical :).

Aed is also very sensitive to sadness. He gets really upset if he thinks anyone is sad or crying and, we have discovered, can’t handle ANY song that seems sad to him. Unfortunately for Ian and I, this seems to be pretty much any song we sing that is in the ‘adult’ category.

In hopes to make ‘rest time’ more enjoyable and relaxing for him, I purchased a CD of Jewel singing lullabies. Put him to bed with the music playing, went out to start doing something productive, and within seconds he comes running out in tears. After some questioning, I discovered he thought the music was so, so sad and incredibly upsetting. So much for that! He shunned the Ipad for days after that incident.

Another evening at dinner, I was jokingly singing (with great passion, I might add) a song that we had heard that day. I made eye contact with him during my incredible rendition of the song and saw his eyes filled with tears, his face red, and his mouth quivering away.. I immediately stopped and tried to help him recover, but he totally lost it. I laughed so hard on the inside, and tried to reassure him that all was well. Phew.

He is easily excited, easily scared, a sensitive, sweet, entertaining little guy. He regularly cracks me up with his funny antics and the things he says. I don’t know what I thought he’d be like as he got bigger, but who is he is so much better than anything I could have come up with. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our new home..

Is very small (and looks like a hotel, as a certain small member of our family has pointed out), but makes up for it with a great view. Who knew we’d be getting a mountain view??

Is in a place with wonderful produce. A thousand times, YUM.

Is really, really hot. There were days we weren’t brave enough to venture out to play in three-digit weather. But, then there were days we just went for it for the sake of fun and adventure. (We are finally welcoming 60s & 70s!)

(Don't they look fun and adventurous?) 

Has a single, solitary surface on which we do everything. Art projects, playdough, dinner, study, and anything else the day may bring.

Has provided opportunity for the acquisition of new skills.. 

Attracts visitors. There’s an alluring beach not too far away.. just saying.

Has this place called In-n-Out Burger. After a day at the beach. Double YUM.

Doesn’t have a TV, and while that’s nothing new, it did make for an interesting Olympics experience :)

Provides lots of little boy entertainment at all hours of the day. The traffic never stops!

Is where our eldest had his first ‘waawipop’. That’s lollipop for those of you that don’t speak 3-year-old. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Final Push

After our trip to Alabama/Georgia, we spent about a week in Indiana before heading off for our last jaunt in bonnie Scotland. After all the effort we put into our time there, and after how much we grew to love little St Andrews and the people therein, it was really important to both of us that we go back for Ian's graduation. We needed some closure, and by the grace of God, we found some.

BUT, the day before we left, our littlest man turned one! He had a very small 'party' that involved a cake not worth photographing, but plenty of smiles to go around :)

He enjoyed his dinner (and for the record, no longer eats peas..)

And even enjoyed his dessert!

So, the next day, off we went. Knowing this visit could be emotional, would definitely be wonderful, and might be our last chance, there was great anticipation and some apprehension.

It was really strange being back, but staying in someone else's house (which we were really thankful for, but the way!). Not knowing how much Aed really remembered, but noticing some obvious discontent when we were in areas we had frequented that he couldn't engage with in the same way (not being able to go into our old house, for example). Being out of the loop and missing out on seeing some really special people. It was bittersweet, with some tears as well as great joy and happy sighs.

A few days after our arrival, my parents and Ian's sister joined us, and we really enjoyed being together despite a number of cold, rainy days :). One sunny day, we headed out to play at the cathedral. Aed found all his usual favorite spots, and it was really fun to have Asher there with new mobility to enjoy the area so much more.

Asher also took his first official 'walks' across a room while we were there, which we all thought was really special :)

Something that a couple guys wanted to do was jump off the pier into the North Sea (as a celebration, of course). Ian wavered on whether he wanted to do it or not, but ultimately decided to and had tons of fun! He even considered doing it again! Here's the big jump..

And the scramble to get out of the frigid water!

We capitalized on another sunny and not-too-cold day and headed out to West Sands. I will never grow tired of seeing that skyline.

It was perfectly sunny on one side, but when I turned around, this is what I saw..

A little menacing given that I didn't have anything to keep us warm in the rain, but it blew over us without getting us even a little bit wet! 

Both the boys LOVED the beach. Aed chased birds and played (and laid!) in the sand. Asher crawled around and ate the sand. They were covered. They both ended up sporting sandy mustaches because the cold made their little noses runny. Even with a sandy mustache.. cute as a button!

We were able to attend two Sundays at the Free Church, which was so meaningful, and were even included in the Sunday School gifts. Each of our boys was given a little set of books from the church, which just about sent me over the edge of all teariness. It really was a roller coaster experience. I had not considered that it would ultimately be saying goodbye all over again, but this time without a promise of return. It still breaks my heart when I think of all the relationships that can only continue in a limited fashion, but I am so thankful for that heartbreak because I know it means love has been shared. We were a part of each others' lives in big and small ways, and that will never be lost. I am so grateful that the Lord knows me through and through, that my joy and tears and confusion are not lost on him. No matter which way life tosses us, he is always the same. Always love, always goodness, always grace and truth. That is a life changer, that kind of love and commitment. 

So there was a lot going on, inwardly and outwardly. We booked ourselves full trying to see as many people as we could. We got to experience slugs in the kitchen (something we had previously escaped!). And we were reminded just how biting cold, Scottish rain can be.

The big day came and Ian got all gussied up..

Such a stunner! I could not believe the moment had come, and was beyond proud of my husband. 

He was tapped and hooded and proclaimed, Dr. Church! We were able to celebrate with several of his fellow students, as well as his supervisor and many others at a little 'garden party' (that was actually inside due to rain). It really was a happy and special time to enjoy Ian's accomplishment, and we were so glad to have some family with us to celebrate as well!

The official PhD robes are beautiful blue! And, the hood is a perfect match :)

Look who I'm with! It's Dr. Church!

The whole gang (Minus kids! We didn't think they'd be a very welcome addition to the ceremony. :)

There are so many others that weren't with us that have been such a support to us during Ian's tenure as a PhD student. We have so very much to be thankful for. And thankful we are!

My parents and Katy left before we did, so we had a couple days by ourselves again. I think it was those days when it really began to sink in that our time in St Andrews had ended. I'd move to Scotland again in a heartbeat if we had to do it all over. We went with such a sense of adventure, and found so much more than adventure while we were there. We never expected to root ourselves so securely into life there; I never expected to discover such a contentedness with who I am while were there. It is a place that will always be important, a place that has left a deep mark on us. I could not be more thankful that my first steps into motherhood were in that community; that we knit ourselves together as a family with a hodgepodge of people from all over the world supporting and loving us, us giving that love and support right back. Amazing. It is amazing to consider what a gift it is to have had such an experience. 

We left Scotland with sadness and with readiness. We were sad to say goodbye to it all, but ready to set out for our new home. We were back in Indiana for less than 24 hours before we headed back to the airport to fly to California. We travelled 36 out of 48 hours and changed 8 time zones. That is something we will never, ever do again. Ever. I will always argue that it was worth it, but I will also always argue that we should do everything possible to avoid it in the future :). And so we were gone. Off to a new something, a new somewhere. And here we are, honing in on four months in our new location. A lot has changed, some things have stayed the same, and we're finding the good in all of it. One day at a time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Family Affair

After another long car trip (though not quite as long, thankfully), we arrived at our cabin in the woods! It was all very official, with entrance gates and codes and hidden keys. Not to mention the reminder in the cabin handbook that just because we find spider webs, that doesn't mean the cabin is dirty. We are in the WOODS, and spiders make webs really fast! So.

Let's just say it was obvious the owners had had some bad experiences with previous renters, and tried to address every. possible. issue.

We stayed for a week in a beautiful, hilly (mountainous? I'm not sure) area with lots of my beautiful, non-hilly family. There were 20 of us, and it was even more fun than it sounds! It had been a while since all of us had been reunited, and I think we made the most of it.

This was the view off the back deck..

And this was when it was made even prettier on a foggy morning..

We had a fun time figuring out how to cook for so many people with limited cooking apparatuses. There were lots of pots involved..

Aed managed to get creative with his dinner on more than one occasion.. this one was photo-worthy..

I looked at this photo and couldn't figure out why I took it, so just in case you don't see it,
check out the pickup truck Aed packed full :)

Possibly my favorite picture of the whole week, the oldest of the little cousins together on the swing!

It was really fun having all the littles together, and made for some very entertaining moments. Not the least of which was when Nena and Papaw were babysitting.. The rest of us had gone river tubing (which was ridiculously fun, and also a little gross, but mostly fun and also hilarious) and came back to hear tales of numerous potty incidents, including possible ingestion of poop. Those five together (just so it's that much more impressive - a 4 year old, two 2 year olds, an almost 1 year old, and an almost 6 month old) would be a lot to handle for any seasoned parent! Fortunately, my parents are brave.

A really fun aspect of the trip that I hadn't considered was that both my sister and Wes and Ian and I had babysitters (thank you family!) and were all together at the same time. Which meant we got to do things together without the kids! It was really fun to goof off and spend time together without the distraction and chaos (and wonderfulness, don't get me wrong!) of our precious kiddos. 

I loved the time with aunts, uncles, and cousins that I haven't seen in so long. It was such a gift to be together again and really catch up a bit. Such wonderful memories to add to the bank. So thankful!

Indiana Days: Let the Traveling Begin!

At the end of May, we embarked on the road trip that was pretty much the beginning of the end of our Indiana Days. We were headed South, and I was very excited about that! All of my mom's family (her mom's side) lives in the South (minus a few that have scattered northward). I grew up visiting my grandparents in Florida twice a year (a drive that I should know like the back of my hand.. but being me, I pretty much only know landmarks.. but I still think I could get there :), and the summer visit typically included attending the family reunion at my great aunt's house in southern Alabama. This was my first opportunity to attend a family reunion in years. I actually don't remember the last time I was able to go.. It's been a while.

So, we loaded up the van, making sure there was room for Ian, who we would be picking up during our travels (yay!), and set off.

An early morning, so a breakfast on the go!


We drove and drove and drove and drove. It took us 15 hours to make that trip! Small children really change the time commitment of a road trip :). But they were troopers and happily got out of the car when we arrived at our hotel. The next morning, we took a short drive to make our reunion debut! It was great! Everything looked the same, it smelled the same, the food was good, and the catching-up was even better.

This isn't a great picture, but the two beauties behind the couch are my two great aunts.

I love the hand-holding.. there is always hand-holding going on with this bunch..
Also, please give some love to that shag carpet. It is even more amazing in person!

They started as eight, four boys, four girls. Though there are only two walking with us now, their family has left an incredible legacy of human beings on this earth. The family has grown and grown and grown, and is full of wonderful, caring, kind people.

The living room is always full (though fortunately, there are many other places around to gather.. I don't think we'd all fit in this little room!), but there is also quite a treasure in the pond down the lane. I have memories of go-cart rides, baby alligators, blueberry picking, games in the pond-house, all the kid-cousins making a whirlpool in the pool. Not to mention endless card games and nibbles of goodies not-so-well-hidden in the dining room. However awkward I may be, or may have been, the memories are sweet. The heart is thankful. 

I have many memories of listening to stories on this porch, and making various mud 'treats' just outside :).

And the kitchen, always busy, busy. It takes a lot of work to feed so many, and while the helping hands have changed over the years, the food is always amazing. 

We did lunch at a bigger home nearby (belonging to a cousin of my mom's), to accommodate the growing, growing, growing family, and the spread was impressive to say the least.

This was only the beginnings of what was laid out. I didn't even get a picture of the dessert selection, but you can imagine :)

Aed discovered a trampoline, and it turns out bouncing is one of his favorite things. It took a lot of coaxing to get him off of there.

Finally the time came.. for more driving! Yay! No. Not really. No one was excited. But, we were grateful to have had a chance to see so many people we'd not seen for years. And there is something special about introducing your children to people that have been important in your life (even when your children are dazed and confused :). Maybe someday they'll get to meet my husband, too! :)

So into the car we climbed. Tired and ready to rest.


We were on our way! First stop was the airport to pick up Daddy (a million yays!), and then to our cabin in the woods for a super-duper fun-filled week!