"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Go, Bears!

I haven't had any football posts yet this year :-(  Football season began while I was in Scotland and I just haven't gotten around to updating you all on Aidan's football experience this year. That is, until NOW.

This year, instead of naming the teams after pro teams they have named them after college teams, so this year Aidan is on the Baylor Bears :-)  Very cool since Baylor is in Waco, which is where Aidan is from!  Go, Bears!

Anyway, they had their first game tonight and it ended in a tie.  Their defense looks pretty good, but their offense will need some work.  It should be a good year :-)

No one can accuse me of not having team spirit!  Don't you like how the color matches their jerseys?
This is why Aidan was frustrated after the game.  Can anyone say "holding"?  Apparently the ref couldn't :-(, but alas, it's all part of the game.
That would be Aidan flying through the air in the middle of the picture :-)
Go, Bears!

Camping, Finally

We'd been trying to get out camping with the whole family all summer and it just hadn't happened, that is until this past weekend.  Finally, we found a weekend when most of us were able to go camping and we had the added  benefit of having my sister Deb and her family with us!

We spent two nights at St. Croix State Park.  Aside from the numerous gnats, multitudes of mosquitoes and tropical temperatures we had a nice time.  Aside from swatting bugs and spraying bug repellent we also found time to hike, climb, and swim.

And now for some random camping pictures...

Here we have Deb, Raelea and Peter spending some time in the BFZ (Bug-Free Zone).

The hiking was fun, if you had on enough DEET.
Raelea, looking as cute as ever.
Marcus spent a lot of time doing this...
And, not to be outdone by her big brother, Zoe also found endless fascination with these two trees.
Raelea, on the other hand spent most of her time here...
Aidan decided to just attach the bug repellent fan directly to his hat.
As we always do on these camping expeditions, we managed to find and climb the fire tower in the park.  It was very windy up there but, NO BUGS!

Despite the annoyances, we had a nice time and look forward to going again, preferably after the first frost when all the bugs are DEAD.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Go, Go, Go

Yikes!  I don't think I've stopped moving since we returned from Scotland.  I had to hit the ground running and I haven't stopped since!

For years people told me that parenting older kids is more challenging than parenting little ones, but no one told me how BUSY life gets with older kids!  So, for all my younger mom friends, I'm here to tell you, "Life gets busier when your kids get older!"  There.  Now YOU have been warned. 

You're welcome.

Between kids working - Evan at Wendy's, Nina, Molly & Emily babysitting, and Aidan mowing lawns and dog-sitting - teen and pre-teen social activities, family commitments, church activities and everyday LIFE, I barely have time to breath, let alone eat and sleep.  Oh, and then there's school starting up again and we are in the throes (or should it be throws) of football season.  When is a girl supposed to blog, anyway?? 

Methinks it is a good thing that I have a degree in Industrial Engineering.  How else would I manage the work flow around here?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

While I Was Away

I'm finally getting around to looking at the photos of what the family did while Evan & I were away.  Apparently that had a lot of fun, which could explain their boredom now that Mom is back.

I know Grandma & Grandpa came out to watch them for two afternoons in a row!  That, in and of itself, is quite a treat and then to top it off Auntie Deb and & Rachel came out also!  Let's just say they weren't missing Mom much :-)

I know Nina & Molly spent a couple nights at their friends' house - not sure they would have given that up to have Mom back either :-)

On top of all that they went to the county fair.
And the sculpture garden...
And they still had time for a little bit of football practice in the dining room.
I'm glad to be home, but I think the kids miss all the fun things Dad does with them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thoughts on Old Cathedrals and Cemeteries

It is inescapable in Scotland - history!  It is everywhere you look.  The buildings are old and some of them very old.  I spent a lot of time pondering history and those that have gone before us.  I spent a fair amount of time in cemeteries while there.  I love cemeteries!  They are a reminder that our life here is fleeting, that we too will depart from this earth as others have before us.  They are a reminder of how "easy" we have it now, as I read stone after stone listing the many, many children that died before reaching their prime.  I can't help but imagine the grief of their parents as they bury children every year, or every other year; some as infants, some as teenagers.

Cemeteries also remind me of how insignificant so much of our earthly life is.  As I look at the tumbled tombstones that were inscribed with the worldly accomplishments of the "great" people of Glasgow - the merchants, the authors, etc.   Now, hundreds of years later, most of their names are meaningless to me and many of the tributes to their lives are unreadable, worn away by time.  This actually did not depress me; it reminded me that only things done for God, with my eyes on eternity, will remain, when it's all said and done.

Throughout the trip, I was also reminded of the great cost that our fore-bearers paid to serve Jesus Christ.  The Reformation in Scotland, as elsewhere, cost people their lives, yet still many spoke the truth, lived the truth and did not turn back when counting the cost.

Then there were the cathedrals.  The many, many cathedrals!  When I walked into the first one, in Glasgow, it gave me goosebumps and I almost started crying (no great shock there to those who know me).  It just struck me how in that very building for hundreds of years (400+) people had come to worship Jesus; no doubt thousands and thousands of people over the centuries, and there I, who also love Jesus, stood to take my place with them.

The other thing about the cathedrals that struck me was their magnificence.  I don't think you need to have a massive, beautiful structure to worship God; however, it does indicate how awesome and worthy of all honor the people who built these structures believed God to be.  They wanted to build a structure worthy of an almighty, all holy, all powerful. all beautiful God.  Of course they failed, but they came much closer than we do these days.

So, there you have it.  I love both cemeteries and cathedrals because they point me to the One who is of the most importance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back On-line

After 24 hours of no phone and internet service, thanks to Charter Communications, I am back on-line.  Let's just say that I would never, NEVER recommend Charter to anyone.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

There's No Place Like Home!

I loved Scotland, but there really is no place like home.  It is so nice to be sitting at a computer in our office instead of taking care of all my on-line needs from here....

It was great to sleep in my own bed last night, instead of this...

And it's great to look out my window and see my own yard and woods, instead of this....

It is also nice not to have to THINK really hard about which way to look before crossing the street and not to have to read the coins before paying someone :-)

The trip will be forever etched on my heart, but I am SO, SO very glad to be home with my family!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Barb in Scotland - The BIG Day

All big events should be preceded by a pasta feed and the World Pipe Band Championships are no exception.   Being limited in many ways, our pasta feed consisted of penne pasta and tortellini in sauce and bread.  We were big on carbs!

Being the band groupie that I am, I needed to show my spirit.

Then game day arrived!  200+ bands, 8,000 pipers and drummers, 40,000 spectators.  This is a big deal!

As you know, the band cleans up rather nicely.  Don't you like the new blue socks?

Aside from piping, many members of the band took time to give interviews with the BBC and other news organizations that were in attendance.

Then came the competition.  Unfortunately and sadly neither our grade 4 nor our grade 3 bands qualified to compete in the finals.  It was a very sad time for the band and so here you can see the agony of defeat as the score sheets are read.

The band played well.  No one got cut.  They did their best, but not everyone comes away winners.  I am so proud of our band.  There's always next time :-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Barb in Scotland - Thursday

Greetings from, gasp, sunny Scotland!  The sun is shining very brightly today (meaning for the time being).

We went to Edinburgh yesterday (Thursday) and I don't think I can adequately describe that city.  It was amazing!  Beautiful! Old! Crazy (the Fringe Festival is going on there)!  Did I already say beautiful?

Anyway, I won't try to describe it all because typing on my iThingy is really slow and laborious.  Anyway, here are a few elect photos of our day.

Here is a pic of some of the finest young people around.  I love these kids!

This is Holyrood, where the queen stays when she is in residence in Edinburgh.  She wasn't there now, but we got there too late to tour it.

This is the path to Arthur's Seat.  Only a few of us brave souls ventured up, you might guess why...yes, that is a muddy stream of water coming down the hillside...

Her are Sir Evan and Lady Abby who were knighted for their ascent of Arthur's Seat in a torrential downpour.

Here is a typical street shot of Edinburgh. It's amazing!  History every block.  If you're not paying attention you miss all the plaques on the walls that give you historical reference to what you're seeing.  Even in the streets themselves, there are historical things right in the cobblestone...

The Edinburgh castle.

The castle from another more imposing point of view.

Sir Walter Scott monument

Okay, there's tons more.  Like 122 pictures just from Edinburgh, but that's all for now

On another note, you can stop praying for my driving as I have returned the car :-)

Please pray for tomorrow though. It is competition day and, as you can imagine, the stress here is mounting.  Please pray for the young people in the band.  There is a chance that some of them may be cut at the last minute.  They have worked SO hard to get here and to be cut on the day of World's would be REALLY hard!  I think its hard for "outsiders" to understand, but these kids are passionate about piping. They eat, sleep and breathe it.  They practice hours EACH day. Anyway, you get the picture.  Pray their pipes work well tomorrow and they are at their best.  Thanks!

Oh, btw, Grade 4 competes around 10:00 which is 4:00 am in MN, and Grade 3 (Evan's band) competes around 1:00 (7:00 MN)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barb in Scotland - Tuesday

My dear, sweet, wonderful hubby (whom I miss very much) figured out a way for me to post pictures from across the pond!  Thanks, dear!

We'll start with Tuesday.  Here we go....

Tuesday started out like this....

 But later it looked more like this....

As you can see, the weather around here changes, drastically and frequently.  After band practice we went to Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis.  Here are some random pictures of that trip (it's only a block away from our dorm, so it wasn't really a trip).

Here's David Livingstone.

Here are some boys who were bad and needed to be locked up in a cage.  Thankfully, there were lots of cages available.

 And then there's the cathedral.  It's quite amazing!  The pictures don't do it justice.  I believe this cathedral dates back to the 1500's. Oh, the history!  I LOVE it!!!!

Behind the cathedral is the Necropolis which is basically a really big, really old cemetery on a really big hill.

Here is a statute of John Know ( notice the lovely blue sky in the background)

Not only are there really cool tombstones at the Necropolis, it also affords the best view of the city

After all that fun in the churches and cemeteries, the kids went off to a bagpipe concert...

And the mom's went downtown window shopping.  Window shopping because all the stores close REALLY early.  While downtown, look what i found, Chris!  It was the nicest, oldest Apple store I've ever seen.

And here are my shopping pals.  Notice the wet streets and rain poncho :-)

That's all for now.  I'll send Wednesday pictures soon and you can look forward to exciting adventures driving around Scotland and more churches, but this time with castles as well.  Night all!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday In A Nutshell

Oh, bummer! I was going to post some pictures, but apparently I can't right now. I'll try to figure it out though. Be patient, as I am sitting outside by a busy street in order to get wi-fi. This means I can only be online when it's not raining :-)

Well, Tuesday was very nice. It started out sunny, but by the time we needed to walk downtown it was pouring. When we got back to the dorms it started to clear up and the band was sweating during practice because it was so nice and sunny. After band practice we went out to eat and then off to Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis (think " really big, really, old, really cool cemetery"). I wish I could show you the pictures :-(

Last night the "young people" went to a bagpiping concert at the concert hall while the moms took a walking tour of the shopping district of downtown Glasgow.

I'll post more later, but I'm shivering out here and need to go put mire clothes on.

Oh, here's what I learned this morning- when your electrical convertor stops working and you plug your hair dryer into it it causes the electricity to go out on the whole floor of your dorm. :-(

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm Here

We made it to Scotland without any delays! We did learn a few things on the way though.

Here's what I learned today:
Icelandair has NO free food or snacks on their flights :-(

The Iceland airport has almost no food in their terminal and the food they have is outrageously priced and quite nasty

Even though your plane is only stopping in Manchester and then continuing on to Glasgow, you must still de-plane and go through security before getting back on the same plane and continuing your flight

University of Strathclyde does NOT have wi-fi, but a nice little restaurant a block away does

It's a long walk from the Buchannen (sp?) Street station to the U of Strathclyde when you are pulling and carrying all your luggage

They have Aldi's in Glasgow! Very good news indeed

You should NOT pack powdered chai tea mix in your suitcase in a Tupperware container whose lid may come off during travel and get chai tea powder over all your clothes

Sixty-two degrees is quite warm when you are in Glasgow and walking everywhere, particularly up four flights of stairs with all your luggage

I can park a car for free in a lot right next to campus

Most places in Glasgow take Visa

There you have it. A few of the things I've learned since leaving Minnesota 18 hours ago. I'm sure tomorrow will bring many more lessons :-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I'll Be Leaving Now

Well, not quite yet.  Actually, I will be leaving tomorrow evening for Scotland.  I hope I will be able to blog and Facebook from there, but you never know.  As a friend told me, Scotland IS pretty civilized :-)

While I am excited to go, I am sad to leave the rest of my family at home.  How I wish we were independently wealthy and we all could go :-)  Since Evan will be practicing with the band everyday and, of course, hanging out with his band friends, I will be doing some touring around by myself.  What I am most nervous about is driving.  It's not just the left side of the road thing, nor is it the driving on the right side of the car.  Its shifting with my left had that has me concerned!  I am EXTREMELY right hand dominant, so this should be....interested.  If you think of it, pray for safety for me while I drive :-)  and safety for all those wonderful Scottish people who will have to share the road with me.

Well, I may, or may not, be able to post again before I go.  If not, stay tuned for posts and pictures from beautiful, albeit cool and rainy, Scotland!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Miscellaneous Quotes

I finished reading my Crunchy Cons book (and thoroughly enjoyed it, I might add).  I found these two quotes and felt I had to pass them on...

"People long for God, and more of them than we might think are willing to accept the idea that getting close to him might be painful.  The church needs to worry less about coddling our superficial tastes and impulses and more about giving us the whole truth."
 -Maclin Horton, as quoted by Rod Dreher in Crunchy Cons

And the second one....
"If you really put yourself in a relationship with God, where you really sincerely are trying to conform to the wisdom of his plan, you have to be open to the fact that you might get answers about your lifestyle that you might not want to hear,"
- Tikva Crolius, as quoted by Rod Dreher in Crunchy Cons

And there you have it.  Some food for thought on this cloudy Wednesday.

National Night Out

Once again, we hosted our block's National Night Out party.  This year we decided to go all out and have a dinner together.  In the past, we have done an ice cream social sort of thing, but the neighbors all wanted to do dinner this year, so that's what we did.  It was a great time and, despite the sweltering weather, we had a good turn-out.  The kids, as always, thoroughly enjoyed playing in the street and running around after dark.  The visit by the city's police dog was a big hit, too.

Now that that event is out of the way, it's time for me to get to packing :-)

Oh, sadly, we also send Rebekah, Daniel, and Isabella on their way back home to PA.  We had a great visit with them and will miss them a lot :-(

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fall Clothes

I'm sitting here in my house sweating while I get out my fall clothes.  Because, it might be gorgeously hot here, BUT in Scotland it is 61 and rainy...EVERY DAY.  I kid you not, the weather forecast never seems to change: 61/55 and rainy....EVERY DAY.

SO, I need to find some long-sleeved shirts because, to me, 61 is not short-sleeved weather.

Whirlwind Weekend

Whew!  I'm exhausted!  We had more activities this weekend than we've had in a LONG time.  The reason for all this fun and excitement is that Nina's birthmom, her husband and most adorable baby (Rebekah, Daniel & Isabella) are all visiting us from Pennsylvania.  They arrived on Friday evening and are staying until tomorrow afternoon.

Let's see...here's what we packed into the weekend: Went to Como Zoo, Trader Joes (my first time there), and Famous Dave's on Saturday; church, Green Giant Days Parade in Le Sueur, pizza for dinner and swimming at the hotel on Sunday.

I'm wearing myself out all over again just thinking about it!

Here is the lovely Nina with her lovely first mom.

We went to the Japanese Gardens at Como Zoo.

Raelea got tired of walking around the zoo and hitched a ride on Dad.

Daniel got tired walking around the zoo and took a siesta on the grass :-)

I told you she was the most adorable baby...

She really didn't want water in her bottle, but I was thoroughly enjoying myself nonetheless.  I'm not sure it's a good idea for me to spend too much time around this little sweetheart...

My favorite pipe band EVER!

Nina & her little sister watching the parade.

Raelea, waiting in eager anticipation of lots of candy.

There you have it.  No pictures from Trader Joe's but I did get some nummy chocolate covered blueberries there :-)

Hope you had a weekend full of fun and good memories as well.