Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cereal

We love cereal. I'm pretty particular about it, and it was trial and error finding kinds that we like here. I think we've pretty much narrowed it down to our favorites.

I got the idea to share them with you from my friend Andrea.

We're only two people, but currently we have 4 different kinds in our cabinet. That's down from 5 kinds a couple of days ago before I finished off the box of Whole Grain Cheerios, I've been hooked on them this month.



On the left is a very tasty strawberry and granola cereal. It has big chunky granola and lots of strawberry pieces. Next is one that's not very good in milk, much better to eat dry. That box has been around for a while, not our favorite. It was on special and we thought we'd give it a try. Next is a staple in our house. Contrary to the sound of the name, it's actually very good, it has lots and lots of dried fruit in it. Finally, our unhealthy splurge. I usually don't like chocolate cereals, but this one is surprisingly good. It's James' favorite. I can't bring myself to eat it in the morning, just doesn't feel right to wake up to a bowl of chocolate. But it's a great nighttime snack. (I love how they try to justify it by saying, "Helps you get 3-a-day whole grain)

What kind of cereal do you eat?

Monday, September 15, 2008

the little things in life


Fellow Americans, I'd like to introduce you to a heated towel rack. Flip the switch, and hot water flows through the rack, which in turn dries your towel. In a wet climate, like Scotland, it can take days for a towel to dry. But with one of these, it doesn't take long at all; and when you reach for a towel after your shower, it's warm!

It's one of those things we never knew about before, but now it's a part of everyday life. We'll be spoiled when we return to America and wonder why our towels are wet and cold.

What's there to do on a Saturday in Dornoch?

Well, from May to September you can go to the town square at 8:00 and watch the Pipe and Drum band march up and down the square and play a few tunes. Here's a short video to give you a taste of Scottish culture. Sorry it's kinda dark, but you get the idea.
video
After that some cute little girls do some highland dancing on a stage in the square. I was going to get a video of them to share with you, but it was kinda chilly and we got tired of waiting, so here's a clip of some random highland dancing. The show we get in Dornoch is similar to this, but with fewer girls.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy 1st Anniversary!

Nope, it's not our wedding anniversary that we're celebrating(we're half way into year number 5 of wedded bliss), but the one year anniversary of living in Scotland!

Time is such a crazy thing. In a way, it feels like we've been here for 5 years, but on the other hand it feels like it's only been 6 months. We feel so settled, and have made such great friends that it seems we've been here for much longer than a year. But other days it's hard to believe it's already been a year, where have the months gone?

The scariest thing about looking forward to the upcoming year, is realizing that it will fly by even faster than this past year. As of now, the plan is to leave Scotland when our visa's expire in September '09. But, we realize there's always a possibility of things changing. Four years ago I never would've believed you if you told me I'd be living in Scotland for two years, so it's impossible to know what's ahead for the next chapter of our lives.

I'm not even going to begin to do any sort of summary of the past year, that'd take forever, not to mention more emotional energy than I've got at the moment. But I will share a great compliment I received yesterday that sums up why I'm so grateful for the ways this community has welcomed us. A man here told me that James and I are now, "part of the fabric of Dornoch." I think that's pretty great.

So, how did we celebrate? We didn't really do anything specific, but I did get to run in a 10K and that was fun. The best part about it was when the finish line was in sight, I suddenly spotted a group of about 10 kids from Dornoch cheering me on with all their might. It was fabulous. I love these kids.

Friday, September 12, 2008

great timing

I went to bed last night right after writing my last post and woke up this morning to a package that had been delivered. My mom had sent me this book (thanks mom!). I know that things like the timing of the arrival of this book are not coincidences.

I'm so grateful for God's plans; it assures me that he's got all this under control and is orchestrating things in a way that can only be beneficial for my heart and well-being.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A difficult emotion.

Grief.

It has absolutely no predictability. One minute, all is right with the world, then all of the sudden I'm a total wreck and there's nothing I can do but be completely overwhelmed with feelings of remorse.

At a moment's notice I can go from feeling completely normal, to being unable to breathe normally or think a complete thought. Here's why.

Sometimes I feel like I should just go ahead and get over it already. I guess it's mostly because I feel slightly alone in this mourning process. No one was able to hold our baby, smell his or her wonderful baby smell, say his or her name, or change his or her diapers, so it's understandable that no one feels the affects of this loss as deeply as we do. But, I don't feel completely alone because there are so many people who have gone above and beyond and helped me feel so loved and cared for.

Then there are times when I remember how deep of a loss this is and wonder how I'm still functioning. We lost our child. Our baby died. Yes, the baby was very young when he died, but that doesn't change the fact that it was our child and that he was loved an inexplicable amount.

This experience has increased my empathy for others who've lost children. I can't even begin to imagine the even deeper pain of losing a child later on in pregnancy, at birth, or at any other point in a child's life. The thought of it leaves me speechless. My heart is especially hurting for some friends of ours who have recently lost their 26 year old son to cancer. The heartache they are going through is unimaginable.

Here's one thing I am grateful for: even though each time I see another pregnant women the intensity of my loss feels like a knife to my stomach, it has not decreased my ability to share in their joy of experiencing the miracle of pregnancy and babies. I can't talk about it much, but I still feel so much joy for them.

So what's the point of this rambling? I don't really have one. I do know that the peace that comes from knowing I'm loved by a God who is all-knowing and understands completely, is enough to get me through this.

One of these days, baby #2 will come along; and it's going to be a glorious day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More on the America Trip

When we took some Scottish friends to the mission trip in West Virginia, we figured they'd enjoy a week of relaxing and sightseeing after a week of working in the mountains.

We arrived in Richmond on July 26th and let them rest for at least 8 hours before we showed them a jam-packed rockin' time in The Commonwealth.

The 7 Scots were hosted by 5 different families; friends of ours from our church in Richmond. They had a great time hanging out with kids their ages and seeing how we crazy Americans live. Here's some photos from several of the events we planned for them.

Kings Dominion had to be on the list of places to go, especially since there's nothing like it in Scotland. Here we are waiting in line, the usual at any theme park




Believe it or not, Krispy Kreme is legendary in Scotland. The closest place you can get them is in London, and that's about a 9 hour drive from Dornoch.

Our friend Melanie organized the Krispy Kreme event. It was a blast; a rediculous amount of donuts were consumed. We made sure to be there while they were making them so we could have some "Hot, Fresh, Now." Okay, okay, I know the sign just says "Hot, Now" but I really think they need to add the "Fresh" to their signs, it's a nice touch, don't you think?

Here's Cameron at the beginning of the night.

This was taken about two minutes later.

Yum.


You can't come to Virginia from all the way across the ocean and not go to Washington D.C. Unfortunately we chose the hottest day of the summer to walk around the Mall and see all the monuments and memorials.



We finished off the day in D.C. with a Washington Nationals baseball game. They were playing the Phillies, (James's most fave team ever) so he was happy.

This is the Mackay family, they're from Dornoch (actually they'd prefer that I make the distinction and tell you that they're from Embo, a village two miles from Dornoch). They're fabulous. We love them.

That boy in the front in the green shirt is Sean; he's from Dornoch. If you know him, you won't be surprised one bit to know that he managed to get himself on the jumbotron within minutes of arriving at the stadium.

Can you see where we're sitting? All the way at the very tippy top. But, oh the glory of it, we had a nice breeze all night. Those poor people with "good" seats, how hot they must've been.

This was the picture we had taken to prove to our Phillie's loving husbands that, "see we did watch the game! I promise we did more than just chat the whole night!"

These girls are definitely on my most favorite people list. Nikki on the left lives in D.C., Jenna on the right lives in Richmond, they came up for the game. Jenna and her hubs Tim are coming to visit during Thanksgiving! There will be squeals of delight when we see them. (See that person giving us bunny ears? wait, wasn't that funny about 20 years ago?)

One evening we had a nice relaxing cookout in Powhatan.

There were even some fish caught. (yay dad!)

So there ends my photos. We did tons of other stuff that week like go to the beach, a pool party, did tons of shopping, but I don't have any photos to prove it, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

All Boy

You know that expression, "he's all boy"? These boys are definitely that. We've had the privilege to get to know them over the last year. I have so much respect for their mothers because these guy's are full of energy and wild antics. They love to come over and play Guitar Hero, then try to start a wrestling match with James. These boys make me want a whole gaggle of my own boys.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Jennifer needs...

I've decided to participate in an "on-line experiment" after reading the results Anna had during the experiment she conducted. It made me curious about what I "need."

Here's what you do: go to Google, search for "(insert your name) needs," and then laugh at the hilarious things that come up. Read below to enjoy some of the things that I apparently need:

Jennifer needs...
-to be in a mental health facility right now
-a smack daddy
-a mortician
-a shave
-help!
-heavy visual depiction of her subject
-passion
-too much attention
-2 1/2 cups of sugar to make cookies for 15 people
-your prayers and best wishes
-to get out of sight for awhile, I mean really out of sight
-EXPLANATION!!!!!!
-to loose some weight!
-a size negative zero
-a high profile
-to develop age-appropriate language for social situations
-some time to herself
-to take her time and stop trying to find a man better looking than Brad
-a mattress
-fashion help
-a better make-up artist
-to soar in some way
-financial guidance for the $920000 State Farm award
-to leave some mystery in her life
-to quit falling for these entertainment and Hollywood types
-to wear a bra
-to chill

Can you guess which ones are about a famous Jennifer (Lopez, Love-Hewitt, Aniston, Garner)? Some of them are actually very true of me, particularly the last one! And some of them I wish were true, like the one about $920,000.

Now it's your turn, google your name and tell me in the comments what you need.

The Year of the Visitor: Part I

It's super easy to communicate with friends and fam from home, and friends all over the world for that matter. I'm so grateful for email, internet phone, instant messaging, etc, it all helps us feel more connected with people we can't see regularly. And actually, being in Scotland has helped to strengthen a lot of our relationships with people from home which is pretty awesome and something I didn't expect.

But nothing replaces being in the same room with someone, face-to-face. We're about to reach the one year mark of our time in Scotland, and so we're doing a lot of looking back and looking forward. Figuring out what has worked in our work with kids here, what hasn't, what needs to change, and what needs to be done before we leave in a year.

We sat down to plan out the next year and realized we've got lots of big events going on, most of them include visitors from America! We're absolutely stoked. Last year my parents came right after Christmas, and then a group of 12 from our home church came at Easter to help us with a Holiday Bible Club for the kids here. Both visits were fabulous.

The part about people visiting that we love the most, is getting to share with them what our lives are like here. We want them to meet the people who are such a big part of our lives who've been an incredible support to us. We want them to see the town that we spend our days in. We want them to get to know the kids of Dornoch who we love so much.

We've already had our first visit of the year. A lady from Florida came to Scotland on a holiday and wanted to meet and encourage people like us who do volunteer work. We had the privilege of hosting her for a few days and getting to know her and all about the work she does (she's a counselor). It was very encouraging for us, and a great way to kick off the new school year, when lots of the events we lead start up again.

If you're coming to visit, we can't wait to see you, get excited because we're stoked! We can't wait to share our life in Dornoch with you and show you how fabulous of a place it is.