Monday, June 30, 2008

It was my birthday...

..and I rode on a cow.

I wish I had a photo to share with you, but it was a totally spontaneous event that I wasn't expecting at all, and definitely couldn't have planned for.

Before you get too excited, it wasn't a real cow, but two people in costume. The poor guy who was the back half of the cow unexpectedly had to bear the weight of the two other birthday girls at a birthday party for a friend of ours.

Overall, it was a good day. It was, after all, my golden birthday: 28 years on the 28th of June. There was lots of lying around, doing not much of anything, movie watching, present receiving, basically whatever I felt like doing. It was very nice.

James made reservations for us to have dinner at a place in Dornoch called Luigi's. It's not Italian, as you would expect from the name, but just a mix of different types of dishes. James had a steak, I had some fish. Delicious.

We got home and two of our girls (high school aged) came by with a cake they had made for me. It was a chocolate double layer cake with homemade chocolate icing. YUM. We ate some and hung out with them for a bit.

Then we attended the above mentioned 18th birthday party of a friend. That's where the cow riding happened.

It's kinda bizarre to be getting closer to 30, because, wow that seems a lot older than how I feel. Seriously, I feel like I'm 22. Maybe it's partly because our job includes hanging out with high school kids all the time? But I don't so much mind getting older because I really am enjoying my life.

Ask me again at 30, I might have something different to say about getting older when I hit that milestone.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


This won't mean a thing to most of you, but my friend Anna has posted some memories from high school in light of our upcoming TEN year reunion. Yup. I'm getting that old. Old enough to be out of high school for a decade. She's listed some ridiculously funny memories from those 4 years. Just in case there are some other HHS Class of '98 friends out there, I wanted you to join in the reminiscing too.

*Disclaimer: In case you read Anna's list, and are wondering, I really didn't seriously think we should steal the bus. Moving it to the other side of the parking lot might have been funny though. But all you kids should never consider doing anything like that. Never ever.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend Review: It's Back!

I used to do this a while back (I copied the idea from Val) and stopped after we moved to Scotland. We're in more of a rhythm now, so I'll attempt to get back in the habit. Here goes...

-Up at 8:00
-Prepared for Scripture Union(SU)
-Cycled around town with James to run a couple of errands
-Intended to cycle to the Secondary School (middle and high school) for SU, but decided to ride home and get the car since it started raining.
-Hung out with the kids at SU, taught a lesson
-Home, did some other stuff, can't remember what
-Left for a farewell ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee. I know. Looks nothing like it.) for some American friends who are moving back to America. It was in a place called Nairn, about 1.5 hours from Dornoch. Guess who lives there.
-Did some Scottish country dancing, socialized, heard some gaelic singing (fyi, in Scotland, it's pronounced like garlic without the r.)
-Home around midnight.

-Up around 10:00
-Cleaned the house
-Made dinner, had James' and our young friend Alisha's help.
-Had two couple's over for dinner, had a great time.
-Cleaned up, to bed.

-Up at 8
-Left for Nairn again to be at our previously mentioned American friend's church for their last Sunday before they move.
-Attended the lunch afterward.
-Home around 3
-Was exhausted for some reason, rested, watched Grey's Anatomy via the internets.
-Kids came over at 7 for Youth Fellowship. James taught a lesson, had pizza, played some games
-Left the house at 9:30 to take some kids home and hang out at a friends house for the ritual Sunday night hang out with these friends.
-Was too exhausted, got James take me home so I could rest and so he could go back, eat Chinese, and hang out for a while without me needing to go home early.
-Resting, preparing for Scripture Union at the Primary (Elementary) School tomorrow.
-To sleep soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Day to Celebrate!

It's James' 27th Birthday!!! If you'd like, give him a call or send him an email and wish him a great day; feel free to tell him how fabulous we all know he is!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One more midge picture

This orange thing is an emergency shelter, which was affectionately referred to as the "orange bubble." When the midges were really bad, about 11 kids would crowd in it and cover themselves. My favorite part would be when suddenly and rapidly, they would all disperse in various directions yelling and pinching their noses. I'll leave it to your imagination to figure that one out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Midge

Since we've been in Scotland, we've heard about an infamous insect that plagues the country during the summer months: the Midge (pronounced Midgie).

While camping, I was introduced to them. Yes, they are as horrible as everyone says. Actually it's worse.

Imagine gnats, but in much larger quantities, that bite, and leave itchy spots that might swell up. They're attracted to carbon dioxide, so they love to be right in your face. They are absolutely horrible and when they're really bad, it makes doing anything outside almost impossible.

They love damp, cloudy conditions, and don't do well with the wind or sunshine.

The first and last days of our camping expedition, we were invaded by midges at our campsite. Before I left, I'd been informed as to what types of repellent to use, and stocked up with a few different kinds; I was prepared. Or so I thought.

The first day, as the midges began to get bad, everyone pulled out something called a midge net and put it over their head. I had no idea these things even existed. Life would have been much more bearable if I had one of them. Here's what they look like:

If you take a close look at the sky in this photo, all those black circles you see aren't smudges on my camera, but midges. But that doesn't even begin to capture how many there were.

Here is a photo of how midges can cover an object. I was trying to wash some dishes one night and it was useless; as soon as a dish was washed, it was covered in midges. We'd open our tent, and suddenly there'd be 50 midges in there. Thankfully, they were only around for two days.

Here's my bit of advice for you: if you come to Scotland in the summer, bring a midge net.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

More on Camping

The camping trip I just returned from was run by an organization called World Challenge, and took place on Alladale Wildlife Reserve.

Twenty-two kids ages 13-14, 3 adults, and one 16 year old helper, all from Dornoch, attended the trip. The leaders from World Challenge were very focused on making sure the kids learned a lot by trial and error and worked through the difficulties they come across as a team, with little to no interference from the adults. Translation: I didn't have to do much.

I stayed in a tent with another girl about my age who works for the school. Have you ever met a stranger and then had to share a tent with them for a week, as well as deal with all the other challenges that come with wild camping? It's a situation that could prove to be awkward. But it couldn't have been better; we got along so well and were able to laugh a lot which, I found, was a necessity.

Besides dealing with our own tent and camping equipment, the kids did all the other camping jobs for us. They cooked and cleaned up, they did the navigating when we were backpacking, they led the group and made most of the decisions. It was pretty stress free. Well, I take it back, this aspect of the trip was slightly stressful. Especially finding a spot that was discrete. But, we all had to do it, so it got less awkward as the week progressed.

Here are a few photos from Day 1:
This is the team of kids I was with; they were getting all the intro information and basics of what the week would entail. That's why they look bored.

The tents, aka my home for a week:

Our campsite the first and last nights was next to a beautiful river and some falls:

I found myself continually overwhelmed with the beauty of our surroundings. It was magnificent. With all the challenges, it was such a privilege to be able to be a part of this trip. Would I do it again? Yup. I think knowing what to expect and how to be prepared would help a lot.

More to come on the animals we encountered (including the really annoying ones)and the fun activities.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Back from the Wild

I made it. I survived 5 nights and 5.5 days in the wild outdoors. I didn't step foot in a building other than a tent for the entire time. I've never spent that much time outside in my life.

It was an awesome trip. Challenging, yes, but really great. Thanks to all of you who prayed, I'm happy to report, there was no illness, scorching sun for two days, and it only rained for two of the evenings and a couple of hours during one day. That, in Scotland, is weather near perfection. The other thing I was worried about was that the battery in my electric toothbrush would last the entire week; my teeth and I are happy to report that it did.

I've never been so glad to see running water in my entire life. The first thing I did when I walked into our house was turn on the tap and drink directly from it. Then I used the bathroom. INSIDE! These are amazing things I'll never take for granted ever again.

I'm sure I'll be posting lots of stories and photos from the trip, but I'll start you off with before and after photos of me.

This was taken the night before I left. Notice here the enthusiastic grin, the strong back able to hold all that weight in the backpack no problem, the clean clothes and hair. What you can't tell is that I smell clean also.

This was taken today, not long after I got to our house. Notice here that although I'm smiling, it's a bit less enthusiastic. Note also the sun-kissed nose and cheeks, droopy eyes, bag full of the dirtiest clothes (everything in the backpack was only slightly dirty), and sore muscles. What you can't tell from the photo (and be glad) is that I don't smell clean and my hair is so oily from not washing it for a week that it looks wet.

Really it was an amazing experience. I was so pleased to see that the kids who went on the trip learned tons and grew in so many ways.

Now it's time to sleep. In a bed. In a glorious bed with pillows. In a climate controlled environment. It's going to be a good night.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Away 'till the 7th

I'll be "under canvas" until Saturday. If you love me you'll pray for these things:
-no rain
-no illness'
-a scorching sun every day all week, because in Scotland that is a miracle.

I'll be back soon to fill you in on the adventure, because I have no doubt that it will be quite an adventure.