Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Year of the Visitor: Numero Quatro

Tim & Jenna! (The spanish is in honor of Jenna who spent some time working with street children in Mexico. What a gem!)

The year of the visitor continued last week with a rejuvenating visit from some very dear friends. The excitement began July 18th when we were in Richmond at Tim & Jenna's wedding. Their photographer managed to catch the moment when they announced that they'd be visiting us in Scotland! I was slightly excited, wouldn't you say?

I'll explain the origins of mine and Jenna's friendship. In the fall of 2005, James received a phone call from a man asking if we could call this girl who was the daughter of his uncle's, friend's, cousin's, father (or something like that) and invite her to church. We had no idea who this girl was, or if she even wanted to be invited to church. So I called and did the inviting. Turned out she sounded super nice and did want to be invited to church, so I set up a time to pick her up. But, she lived in a hotel, which seemed weird at first, but I soon found out it was just because her new apartment building wasn't completed yet.

Now we're the best of friends, and our husbands became friends too. It's so great when both halves of two couples mesh!

We picked up Jenna and Tim from the airport on Thanksgiving, Jenna and I definitely made a scene with some shrieking and jumping up and down.

First stop: Tesco. Saturday would be the big Thanksgiving dinner and since Tim is a professionally trained chef, we needed his help. And boy oh boy, did he ever help.
That's Tim on the right, the blurriness helps to accurately display the speed at which Tim moved around the kitchen, teaching us how to bake a turkey as well as making lots of delicious sides.

We introduced Thanksgiving traditions to some Scots and English families, and had an American family join us as well. There was a ridiculous amount of yummy food consumed. But, it was Thanksgiving. We explained to our UK friends that if you don't feel uncomfortably stuffed and need to take a nap after the meal, you haven't had the full Thanksgiving experience.

After it was all over, Tim needed a nap, understandably.

Friday, they were a huge help at Scripture Union and Youth Club. The kids absolutely loved them, which I totally expected. In between the two events, we took them on the walk to Big Burn. It was just as beautiful as the time James and I went. We took a different route, so we saw some new stuff, like another interesting tree:

Sunday we took a walk over to the Dornoch golf course and along the beach, it was an especially beautiful day.

Tim is a golfer, it's too bad he wasn't able to play here, but at least we got a photo!

At Youth Fellowship, Jenna taught some girls the cup game. They loved it! It took me back to my middle school days.

Monday we took a trip to the west coast. Here we are at some ruins.

Almost a year ago, my dad took pretty much this exact same picture of us at this exact spot. It definitely doesn't feel like a year ago.

A little ways down the road, we got stopped on the main road for about 15 minutes as some shepherds and sheep dogs herded 100's of sheep from one field to the other. It was so cool to see (mom, I'm so sad you weren't there to see it!)

Tuesday we left super early for Glasgow so we could spend the day sightseeing before Tim & Jenna had to head over to their hotel, they were flying out the next morning.
Glasgow has a beautiful cathedral

Whaddya think?

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this bridge is curved. Locals call it the "squinty bridge." Scots use the word squint where Americans would say crooked.

Jenna had the fabulous idea to take one of those "hop-on, hop-off, open top" bus tours. It was an awesome way to get an overview of all the popular spots in the city, since we had a limited amount of time. We saw some beautiful old buildings, as well as some modern ones. James got a great shot of the white building.

That's James's "I'm cold" look. Tim and Jenna were smart and went to the bottom level of the bus.

There was a Christmas festival in George Square

Jenna and I really wanted to go on the swings, but decided against it when we realized how bitterly cold it would be.

I realized we have hardly any pictures of Tim and Jenna and none of the four of us. But that's no reflection on how much fun we had together, we're so grateful they could come. Now we miss them more than ever and are even more excited to be back in Richmond to spend more time with them. Thanks for coming guy's!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big Burn

Contrary to what it may seem, this is actually not about fire, but this kind of burn.

James and I took advantage of a recent sunny saturday and went for a hike on a trail called Big Burn to see some waterfalls. It was in a local town called Golspie, about 15 minutes from Dornoch.

Here are pictures of the biggest waterfall from 3 different perspectives, starting with a bird's eye view.

And of course no outing is complete without at least one self-taken portrait.

We met a nice french lady along the way who took this one for us. I felt for her because she didn't speak a word of English; it reminded me of how helpless we felt when we were in France this summer and barely got by with our rudimentary French words.

We saw some great trees too.

It was a fabulous day!

Guy Fawkes, Year Two

It's crazy to think we've been here long enough to see a holiday twice. Last year was our first experience with Guy Fawkes Night, and I went again this year to the annual Bonfire Night in Inverness with a few of my girls from Dornoch Academy.

I'm still amazed by how huge the bonfires are. Here it is at the beginning.

And as it was dying down at the end, they stoked it a bit more.

On the drive home we stopped by another town when we saw the smoke of their bonfire.

I'm going to miss Bonfire Night next year.

You too will die from the cuteness

If my godson Jackson continues to increase in adorableness at this rate, I don't think that my heart will ever stop melting into a puddle like it is now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

about to die from the cuteness

Congratulations Ross and Val!

Jackson is absolutely adorable and he's got a wonderful life ahead of him with parents as amazing as the two of you.

I can't wait to meet him!

Required Reading

Val and Ross's baby is almost here! And due to the wonder of technology, and the Catrow's generosity, you can be there every step of the way!

You'll want to read the last 27 posts (don't worry, it won't take long they're all really short) to catch up on Val's journey through labor, and Ross's commentary of it.

And guess what! Yours truly is incredibly blessed to be one of the glowingly proud godparent's (along with James) of the soon-to-enter-this-world little Catrow! I can't hardly stand the suspense of whether it will be a girl or a boy!

There are so! many! exclamation! points! in this post! Yes, it's that exciting!

Now get to reading!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why didn't anyone tell me...

That if I started watching 24, I wouldn't want to do anything else until I've seen the entire season?

If you don't know the premise, (but you probably do, because apparently I'm the last to know about the wonderfulness of this show) there are 24 episodes in each season, and each episode represents one hour in one of the most intense days of the main character's, Jack Baur, life.

We borrowed the entire first season from a friend a while ago and never had the time to sit down and watch it...until last weekend. Since then we've watched the first 14 episodes. FOURTEEN. IN ONE WEEK. You just can't watch one at a time. Needless to say, we've had some late nights this past week.

I think I'm going to need a break from the intensity before we start watching season 2.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"What's it like living in Scotland?"

I've tried to answer that question more times than I can remember. It hasn't always been worded exactly that way, there are several variations, all of which are equally difficult to answer succinctly, which is what most people are looking for.

Recently a friend used an analogy that I think might help to explain why it's so difficult to sum up my life here to people who don't live here:

It's like living in an upside down house: everything is exactly the same, but it's so different.

Maybe that doesn't make any sense either. Oh well, I give up.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Just a few of the traits that prove my husband's awesomeness.

Awesomeness proving reason #5,347
He's passionate about things he loves.

Reason #5,348
He's no fair-weather fan. That kind of commitment shows in all areas of his life: sports, relationships, work, you name it; if he's committed to it, he'll follow through till the end.

Reason #5,349
I have always known that he will be an incredible father, this is just another confirmation of that fact.

Below is something my husband wrote right after his team won the World Series last week. To help you understand his dedication, you need to realize that here in Scotland we are 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Starting with the playoffs, he watched every single game (he would've watched more during the regular season, but the games weren't broadcast here)and most of those games didn't start until after midnight. So that meant he was up until anywhere from 3-5am for tons of nights (I would know exactly how many nights if I were a better sports fan).

Due to the timing of my mom's departure, we had to be in Glasgow the night that the Phillies would clench the title of World Series Champions. So while my mom and I were sleeping, he had to spend most of the night alone in a hotel lobby. If that's not dedication, I don't know what is.

Enjoy some of his thoughts that he posted on Facebook, and get a tiny glimpse into my world of being a happy wife.

On Wednesday, October 29, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. This was a monumental occasion in my life. At the age of 10 I began to follow the Phillies. My father is from South Philadelphia, growing up in one of its roughest projects. I can remember him taking us to his childhood home when we were young, and thinking that it looked like a war zone. The projects in Richmond look like paradise compared to this place. We used to go to my Grandmothers in one of the better neighborhoods in south Philly. My parents would let me walk around the neighborhood by myself, and I was just mesmerized by this city. We would walk to the local pretzel vendor on the corner and buy pretzels at 4 for a dollar. We could walk to Modells sports, where all the coolest Phillies and eagles gear would be. My grandmother worked at the local toy store, where she earned very little, but would always have gifts for me and my sisters. I think my love for cities came from these experiences.

In 1993 the Phillies went to the world series. On the night that they were to clinch the pennant, I went around the house, got every television I could lift, and put them all in one room, where my dad and uncle would watch as they made there way to the World Series. The night that they lost the world series, I cried my self to sleep. Now fast forward to 2008, myself sitting in the Holiday Inn lobby in Glasgow, Scotland. Brad Lidge strikes out the last batter. I do a fist pump and shout a big "YES!!!!!!!". I then began to cry like a little baby. As many of you will know, Jennifer and I lost a child this summer to miscarriage. It has been a hard last couple of months to say the least. I started to think about what I would have told our kid about the Phillies winning the world series in 2008, how this team was behind 4 games with a month to play. I would talk about Cole Hammels and how he was almost flawless in 5 starts. I would talk about Ryan Howard and his slump, but then how he broke it with two home runs in one game. I would tell of Brad Lidge and how he was perfect for a whole season. I would talk about being able to see the Phillies that summer, watching them in D.C. with our friends from Dornoch, Scotland, and how amazing it was that the two weeks that we were home from Scotland, the Phillies were playing in D.C. I then began to think that I will be able to say these things to the children that God has yet to give us. How great that will be.

My grandmother gave me a pin in 1999, that says "Lets go Phillies". It was my dads as a kid and Its one of the best presents I have ever received. My grandmother passed in 2000, when I was on a mission trip in West Virgina. Her memorial service was at a parlor on Broad street, where as I write this the Phillies are passing by with their victory parade.

God has used all of these experiences, to draw me closer to him, and most importantly show me of my need for my savior. These have also made me into the man I am today, and for that I am truly thankful.