Thursday, November 29, 2007

Only 23 Days Until...

Winter Solstice!

I'm stoked for December 22nd to get here because that means the days will slowly begin to get longer again. Currently the sun is down by 3:30; by 12:30 it's almost at the point where we can't see the sun over our neighbors houses. It rises around 8:30.

I'm not complaining, since we'll get our fair share of sunshine in the summer when on the longest day we'll see the sun rise around 4:00 AM and set around 10:30 PM. We're already prepared with blackout blinds from Ikea so the sun won't tempt us to wake up at 4 AM.

Until those long summer days, thanks to my parents generosity, I'm adding a little extra sunshine to my days with my Happy Light!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

through kid's eyes

Sunday when we were talking with kids in our youth fellowship group about what everyone was doing the next day, one boy says to us suddenly:
"Wait, you guy's don't have jobs!"

A few days later, some kids stopped by and we were told:
"I wish I had your job, you get paid to just hang out."

We don't even try to describe all the planning and energy needed for our jobs, we like that they see us as people they can just hang out with.


We celebrated Thanksgiving last night, it was glorious! Some American friends live about an hour from us, and it turned out that yesterday was good for everyone to get together. There were 10 of us, and an incredible amount of delicious food.

I love Scottish people, but it's nice every once in a while to be among Americans. I don't realize how tiring it is to constantly be listening intently to make sure my American ear deciphers the accent and slang of a Scot, until I'm around all Americans and I understand every nuance of the conversation with ease.

The day was carried out in true American fashion: we ate way too much then sat around and enjoyed each others company. One of the girls even got out her guitar and we sang together for a while. It was an awesome day. The only thing that was missing was American football.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Since Scottish people don't celebrate Thanksgiving, we had a different kind of celebration.

A family asked us to go to Inverness (the big city an hour away from us) for dinner and a concert. We saw Blazin' Fiddles. It was 5 fiddlers, a guitarist, and a pianist. The pianist was my favorite, so intense, mad scientist looking. The fiddlers were incredibly fast; there was a point when I wouldn't have been surprised if the fiddles did burst into flames.

Dinner was at a place called the Snow Goose. We sat right next to a blazin' fire (seeing a trend?). The food was good, but the most amazing part was when the server brought a platter of 15 different sauces. mmmmmhh, I LOVE sauces. If you've ever eaten french fries with me before, you'll know that I like eating them with ketchup, mustard, and mayo. They needed the platter for someone else, so when the waitress started to take it away, I was furiously spooning more of the sauces I liked onto my plate.

We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving on Monday with some other Americans who live an hour away from us. It was nice having a different type of Thanksgiving yesterday. The day was spent with a few new friends and helped me be more thankful for our home here.

just in case you were wondering...

James wrote the last post. I, Jennifer, did not have the privilege of attending a men's conference. But I do have the privilege of being married to someone who did go and learned a lot.

If you don't know anything about him, you should check out that guy Driscoll, he's pretty fabulous.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mark Driscoll, Mcdonalds twice in one day, and love for a country

Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending a mens conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. The main speaker was Mark Driscoll, who pastors Mars Hill in Seattle, a mega church in the most unchurched city in the states. Driscoll is one of the best speakers I've ever heard, and I was stoked for his teaching. I was able to attend a leaders meeting on Friday, where Mark preached 11 points of Systematic Theology. It was an hour and a half, but felt like ten minutes. He stopped and I was just thirsting for more. One of the first things he said about Scotland was not to assume that anybody knows who Jesus is. He is so right. Kids here have no clue about Jesus, and Jennifer actually realized it the first week we were here. Driscoll talked at two sessions on Saturday, the morning session being his strongest. He ended the session calling out the men of Scotland for sitting by while their country fell into a steep moral decline. It was powerful and inspiring. It felt like William Wallace motivating his men. The conference was put on by Destiny Church of Edinburgh, which is fairly charismatic, but seemed to have sound biblical teaching. The speaker next year is Charles Neiman, a guy who speaks in tounges and is all about abundant living, so I don't think the Free Church will be attending. The weekend I felt could be a call to the men of Scotland, to reform the church, focusing on the true gospel, free of tradition and legalism and bringing God the glory he deserves.

Jimmy Rollins is the MVP, last year was Ryan Howard, next year it will be Chase Utley, and the Phillies will win the World Series. I can dream right? Oh and the Eagles looked horrible even when they win.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not as young as I used to be

Monday and Tuesday, the schools were closed for teacher work days so we planned a Youth Fellowship event: sleepover and roller bowling!

Last night thirteen kids showed up at our house around 7:00, we hung out and ate for a while and then the girls left for the house where we slept. Normal boy/girl sleepover stuff ensued. James was smart and went to sleep around 2:30, I was up until 4:00. When the alarm went off at 8:00, I thought I was dreaming.

Back to our house for breakfast (made by one of the kids who's family owns a butchers shop), then left for Roller Bowl at 10:30. They call it Roller Bowl because here, this is bowling. Three games of bowling and then Harry Ramsden's for fish and chips.

I fell asleep on the way home. We cleaned up the house, and have been sitting on the couch ever since. There was a time when 4 hours of sleep followed by a full day wouldn't phase me. I'm getting old and less resilient.

Looks just like an American bowling alley, just with a different name.

These are some of our Youth Fellowship kids.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Home Alone

James just left for a conference in Edinburgh. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle is headlining a men's conference. He's really good. We teach Sunday School during the morning worship service, so since we miss the sermon, our Sunday afternoons involve a lot of relaxing on the couch and listening to a sermon online. Most Sunday's, it's been something from Driscoll.

James took another guy named James with him, I'm so excited for them, I know this is going to be a great trip. I love it when James can do stuff like this. I'm all for guy time; it makes him a better person, which makes him a better spouse, which is never a bad thing.

I remember when this marriage thing was brand new to me, I was really jealous for his time. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could have told myself during those first 6-8 months how silly I was being, and that I was doing us both a disservice by hindering the time he needed for personal growth.

I'm definitely not an introvert, but occasionally I need time to myself. I just got back from Youth Clubs, and I am looking forward to curling up in bed with my hot water bottle (since James usually warms my ice cold feet) falling asleep to an episode of Grey's Anatomy, (since my Project Runway episode will be downloading while I sleep. yay!) getting up tomorrow and doing a whole bunch of stuff, all by myself. It's going to be great.

I'll enjoy my day, James will enjoy his, and I'll be stoked to have him home again tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tumble Dryer!

No more clothes hanging all over the house, no more jeans that never regain their shape, no more socks that fall off when I'm running from being stretched out, no more having to plan 6 days ahead a time to account for drying time. We are the proud owners of a tumble dryer (known in America as simply a dryer).

We found it on Ebay and picked it up in Inverness, an hours drive from Dornoch. The dryer is less than a year old, looks brand new, and was a fifth of the price it would cost new.

All those "no more's" aren't real problems, just aspects of our life in Dornoch that aren't there anymore!

It is funny where it's set up. The only place it fits is in the
spare bedroom/office/storage room/bike rack (aka the slash room. bring back memories from living at 2119 old roommates?). And there's not an external vent, so we have to stick the tubing out the window when the dryer is running. Should make for some interesting cold days!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Project Runway Fantasy League

I'm so excited about being in this league. The Catrows started it (I'm not sure which half came up with the idea) and it's fabulous that I can be involved, even though I'm in a different country than all the other participants. I've never participated in a Fantasy League and have always been slightly confused by them, so I'm slowly learning how this thing works.

I'll have to download the episodes of Project Runway on iTunes since we never get the first-run of any American TV shows, they're always shown a year later. We've heard you can get Sky TV and watch American shows right away, but I think it's pretty expensive.

Honestly, I don't really care if I win*, I'm just excited to be a part of this process with friends from home; it helps me feel connected!

*Well, that's not really true. I just found out I already have 3 points since my draft pick cries in the first episode (crying is an extra credit category that allows for points). I'm stoked!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I found out yesterday my parents are coming to visit us! I'm super excited. It was going to be a surprise, my husband was in on it, but my mom couldn't stand to keep it a secret.

They'll be here right after Christmas for a week. Just knowing they'll be here helps to stave off feelings like these these.

So many times I've thought about wanting to share certain experiences or aspects of our lives here with people from home, and now we'll get to!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Last week I had a bit of a breakdown. I was getting ready to go to sleep and suddenly, out of nowhere, I was overwhelmed with feelings of homesickness. It was like I got hit with a 10 foot wave, and was in that place where you're trying to find your way to the surface, but you've been tumbled about so much, you don't know which way is up.

The tears flowed for about an hour, and then I fell asleep. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who comforted me through the ordeal.

These feelings of homesickness are new for me, I've never experienced anything like it, I guess since I've never been away from home this long (college doesn't really count since it was a 45 minute drive to my house). I'm not regretting this move at all, just missing everyone and everything that is close to my heart.

When we were getting ready to leave Richmond and had to say a bajillion difficult good-byes, I continued to remind myself that if we didn't have these wonderful, close relationships, these good-byes would be easy. If the goodbyes were easy, life would be a lot more difficult than leaving Richmond was.

Now I'm reminding myself that God is working through this sadness, showing me how His perfect love will carry me through.

One day we'll be leaving Dornoch, and the elation of seeing our friends and family again will be combined with the sadness of leaving our new friends and home here. Until then, I'm sure the waves of homesickness will come and go many times...just more chances for me to gain appreciation for all those people I'm missing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Caffeine Free Me

I quit caffeine 10 days ago.

I've been addicted to caffeine for quite some time. College was the main culprit in cultivating my dependence on it. It got really bad for a while when I switched to espresso. I was up to about 10 shots of espresso a day when I realized it was getting a little ridiculous and needed to switch back to regular coffee. Along with that switch came some debilitating headaches.

Starbucks got a lot of my money for a few years until I realized how silly it was to constantly spend that much on something that was gone in thirty minutes.

Diet Coke was added to my caffeine repertoire after college when I noticed that calories didn't melt off like they used to.

Recently, my habit included one or two cups of coffee in the morning, and rarely some diet coke or another cup of coffee sometime before noon (any caffeine after noon, and I'd be up all night). I didn't drink a lot of it, but often enough that I was really addicted. I realized that looking forward to that morning cup of coffee to jump start the day, while falling asleep the night before, is not a good thing.

I began tapering down about a week before the final switchover date. Instant coffee is the type most commonly used here so I was able to alter the ratio easily. The exhaustion has been the most difficult withdrawal symptom. Every evening I would get so incredibly tired. It was way worse than any jet lag I've ever had, but probably not quite as bad as the tired you get when you're really sick with the flu or something. I'm still getting tired, but as bad as the first week.

I also realized it was more than just a physical addiction for me, it's been a challenge mentally as well. I honestly felt sad making my first few decaf coffees, or when I would choose Caffeine Free Diet Coke rather than just Diet Coke. I'm a little ashamed to admit that, but there it is.

This is the best instant coffee on the market. Thankfully, they make a pretty good decaf version. Unfortunately, I bought the huge caffeinated version right before I decided to quit. I've also found another hot drink that I really like to replace the caffeinated ones with: Twinings Fruit Tea. Yum.

Here's to a healthier me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


That's what we'd be in the middle of if we lived in America.

We've had some windy weather lately, today has been the worst of it, with gusts up to 81 mph and sideways rain at times. But it's definitely not categorized as a hurricane, and really not too much more than bad weather according to locals. The temperature has been around 3 degrees Celsius which is about 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

The schools have lost power and were closed early, and sometimes they close bridges when the wind is too bad, but they haven't today.

One of the most amazing aspects of this kind of weather, is getting to see rainbows ALL THE TIME. Today, we saw a full arch rainbow, all of Roy G. Biv was very clear. It was over the Dornoch Firth. We even saw part of another rainbow above the full one. But, no camera in the car, so I can't show you a picture.

*Weather Update: It's a few hours after I originally posted, about 5 degrees colder, and there's a wintry mix of rain AND snow. Funny, last I checked it was till Autumn.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gender Differences

These are some photos from the Youth Fellowship group we have at our house Sunday evenings.

Do you see James' feet, at the bottom of the pile?

And the girls: wondering why people say we're the silly ones.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Guy Fawkes Day

Yesterday we joined thousands of Scots in Inverness to celebrate Guy Fawkes day. In short, a guy tried to blow up British Parliment in the 1600's, he and some of his accomplices were caught and killed, (Fawkes jumped from the gallows and broke his neck before they could hang him)and his foiled attempt is still celebrated with tons of fanfare. Kathleen, a girl doing work similar to ours in Nairn, Scotland, showed us around Inverness. We froze together, and enjoyed the rediculously huge bonfire. After the bonfire had burned down a bit, they had a pretty impressive fireworks display.

Can you see the mannequins? Yup, they were burned.

Kathleen's from Memphis. She's been here for 18 months and is leaving next year sometime.

It's hard to see, but an amazingly huge fire.

Self-taken photos, my favorite.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A New Wall Hanging

James found a treat for us on Ebay the other day: the Virginia State Flag! Since it was being sold by someone in London, we were sure there wouldn't be any competition for it. The funny thing is, it's not the official flag. Up close it looks like a child tried to replicate it; it's hard to tell from this picture. But, it's a nice reminder of home!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hot Water in a Jiffy

Everyone here (and all over Europe, as far as I know) uses electric kettles. I think it's a necessity since they drink coffee and tea CONSTANTLY and need hot water at a moments notice. Really, they're amazing. I can boil water for coffee in less than two minutes. Why do I have to boil water for coffee you ask? Because typically, everyone uses instant coffee. Yeah, instant. If it's not instant, they use a cafetiere, aka French press. Never have I ever seen anyone use or even own a "regular" coffee maker.

I use it to cook with: boil the water super fast in the kettle and then pour it into the pot to cook vegetables or whatever. It's awesome. And, I almost forgot, I use it to boil water to put in my hot water bottle when it's really cold and my feet are like ice!

America needs electric kettles!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

First Scottish Halloween

Trick-or-treating is called Guising in Scotland, from the word disguise. Wednesday morning we led two assemblies in the Primary school (ages 5-11) and invited them all to do some guising at our house. It was so exciting when our horrible sounding buzzer of a doorbell wouldn't stop ringing. They all had jokes to tell us. We didn't think anything of it until we learned tonight that the tradition is, you have to do something (tell a joke, sing a song, recite a poem) to deserve some candy. Not for us Americans! We'll give you handfuls for just standing there!

Here are some of our visitors:

These girls came back three times; the skeleton kept giving us treats from her bag.

Don't let the masks fool you, these are all girls.

These are the "this cape I found is my costume" boys

This little guy's mom said he was begging her to bring him to our house. So cute.

Uh-oh, somebody's losing their pants.

The boy on the right is a riot.

Between the two of them, they put away about 25 snickerdoodles.

The pumpkin on the right was wandering around, not able to see a thing. Her big brother (batman) was doing his best to watch out for her; it was so cute.

I know they look like regular kids in costumes, but to us they're our new friends, and they're very special.