Friday, 26 July 2013

Giving Thanks

I wanted to share with everyone a few things we're thankful for right now. Some may seem silly but I wanted to give a wide spectrum of things that truly make our lives a bit brighter!

Letters of encouragement from dear friends! <3

These lovelies:
Hidden Valley Ranch packets and Good Seasons Italian dressing packets. I can pretty much rule the culinary world with these. Amen.

Fresh flowers:
They're super inexpensive here and my husband keeps me in fresh supply!

Packing boxes and boxes of books: 
The kids love to read and the bottom shelves here at home hold most of our children's library. Mark's books have to live at church in his office :)

This masterpiece: 
I despise potty chairs, there's nothing worse than having a non-flushing mini toilet you've gotta take care of after... 
This, my friends, is a potty training mummy's bestest friend. 

I did warn you, it was a random list. There you have it, I'm off to find other treasures for next week's thankful post!

-Have it mentioned to anyone where I carefully placed my Kindle last fall? I packed it in a great spot and it seems to still be hiding there...

Monday, 22 July 2013

Our Toy Story

Today I have tackled boxes. 
Boxes of clothes. 
Boxes of books. 
Boxes of toys. 
That's right, boxes, folk. 
It appears our children's playthings have all given birth to multiples on their Atlantic voyage.

Where. Did. They. Come. From?
How. Did. They. Multiply?
Did you know Caithness and Aberdeen have TWO castles and TWO dollhouses in their room?!
Did you know Caedmon has TWO ships (battle and pirate) a space shuttle and gigantic dinosaur in his? 
We don't have enough room for children in the children's rooms!

I'd like to blame the grandparents: their money bought most of it. I'd like to blame the kids' father as the "messy gene" is directly from him. I'd LIKE to blame the toymakers and their fabulously irresistible products and marketing.
But the blame must go solely on the one responsible: someone really needs to talk to the lady in charge of separating in the proverbial sheep from the goats in sorting toys to take because she did an awful job.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Our Home Now Home

Yesterday we received our shipment of household items we had packed in May! It was an unexpected surprise and is SO fun to go through and see it all!
The items we had shipped were the cream of the crop, if you will, because space was a premium. We actually haven't seen these things since last fall when we were packing up and selling our house in Missouri. I had to make decisions then of "sell, store, or ship" with our entire household.
We purchased a large storage shed and have it at the house of dear friends in Cabool (thanks, we love you Nick and Faye!) and it contains all the items that were not practical to ship but yet we will not want to replace in the next 10-15 years. Things like our furniture, washer and dryer, electronic appliances, Mark's large power tools, Christmas decorations (don't get Mark started on the amount of those lovelies I have) and so forth.
Back in September we had the mother of all yard sales and we sold a good bit of our belongings that were either in need of being sold, or not practical to ship or store--things like the kids' Power Wheels, their large toys, our generator, etc. So that left us with the cream of the crop. These items we packed carefully and moved down to Houston with us in October where they sat in my parents garage for the next 8 months (as soon as our things were shipped, though, my mom's 1963 convertible Volkswagen beetle was back sitting pretty in that bay of the garage!).

The kids digging into long-lost toy boxes!
The kids have been in heaven the past 2 days as we unpack. They each only had their carry on suitcases loaded with the bare essential toys and they have grown quite tired of those in the past month here. When the boxes opened and My Little Ponies, a doll house, play kitchen, Little Tykes football toybox, Imaginext sets and Legos came out the kids thought it was Christmas! Caedmon has fond memories of every single item from his room. Caithness remembers she loves toys and it's ALL new to Aberdeen who was but 18 months when we moved! So fun to watch them!
Mark loved opening all his tool boxes (after being a month here without a pair of pliers!), opened his self-taxidermied turkey fan and beard mount and his fly rods and self bows. I'm excited to see my craft bins of paints and supplies as well as my knives and aprons (Mark will comment on that, because we both know full-well that those knives are his from his head-chef days in Branson!) We were also careful in packing most of the pictures from our walls as these things are familiar and comfortable to us all.
Our living room at the moment.
It's so good to see all these things again! I know very well they are in fact "things" but I made careful decisions as to what would make our house here in Buckie be "home" and already it has a great impact on our flat. I tried to make a large effort on the transition for the kids. I have their bedspreads, curtains, bicycles, even their favourite plates, bowls and cups here with us now. We know we are here for the long haul and really wanted to make Scotland home. Without being materialistic we are very grateful for these items that surround us, but knowing it's family that makes a house a home.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Week 1 in Scotland

Wednesday we left Houston, Texas directly after our children participated in VBS at Providence Christian Church. In the past 8 months we have grown to love our extended family at PCC and are continually encouraged by their fellowship and friendship!

We flew 9 hours directly to London's Heathrow airport. We usually try to avoid flying through London at all costs, but we couldn't resist the savings of that route! With the 6 hour time difference what was a bustling 7 am Thursday to locals was a dragging 1 am for us! Mark had allowed plenty of time for us to maneuver through the airport, customs, and potty breaks with 3 children so it was pleasant and left us with plenty of time to catch our second flight up to Aberdeen, Scotland.

We arrived with no problems as well as all 10 (TEN!) of our checked bags. (These bags were loaded to the gills with all our last minute essentials, as well as all those things I was kicking myself for not having sent over in the shipping container!) The church hired a taxi driver to come pick us up with his van and trailer to take us the remaining 50+ miles to Buckie. 
The kids crashed on the taxi ride from Aberdeen to Buckie.

Our first meal at home: fish and chips never tasted so good!
Upon arrival at the manse (parsonage) we were greeted by some good friends, who helped us settle in and gave us lovely gifts! It was the afternoon by this time and in an effort to adjust our body's clocks we stayed up and worked on getting the rooms set up for Caedmon, Caithness and Aberdeen. That evening we ate a lovely meal of fish and chips from Louis' across the street from us and went to bed early!

Friday the girls slept until after 10 am (unheard of in this 6-7 am household!) so Caedmon and I set off down the street to Cluny Primary School. We were able to meet the head teacher (principal) and many, many kind teachers and staff--many of whom referred to Caedmon as "Scott and Pam Middleton's grandson." (Speaking of my parents who served in Buckie as missionaries from 2003-2008. They now are established as Alba Ministries.)

Because the school term remaining is only for a fortnight (2 weeks) Caedmon will join the Composite Class, which is both Primary 1 & 2 combined. This will allow for better assessment and placement for him in the fall. He was so incredibly excited to begin this new adventure, and he isn't the least deterred by the “accents” that are all around him. All three of the children, in fact, have appeared not to even notice any difference in speech, I am the one who has to have people repeat things! 

Driving around the countryside. This is a "B" road in Scotland!
Later on Friday Mark took me up to Seaview Medical Clinic to be registered with NHS (National Health Care) and to set up the needed appointments for the baby. Please at this time pray for this situation as Satan is doing his best to thwart our every move in Scotland by attacking us at our true weakness--our precious children, and especially this new baby girl. The evening was spent with our good friends the Thains and we really enjoyed catching up with them.

Saturday June 22nd we slept in a bit and then after breakfast we headed up to Elgin to purchase some essentials and some School clothes for Caedmon (school uniforms are a must here). We ate lunch at Burger King, the kids enjoyed that because they have a play area. We have also been getting the full effect of Scottish weather, having a bright sunny morning then cloudy drizzle all afternoon and evening! The cool temperature is definitely a nice change from the 100+ heat in Houston!

Sunday we were in church with Mark having the “day off” as a lay minister had already been on schedule to preach. It was a good chance for us to visit and reconnect with everyone at church. Afterwards we had a “soup and sweet” where we enjoyed delicious tattie (potato) soup and homemade sweets (desserts). If you’re not familiar with the desserts in the UK, they are scrumptious. Not nearly as sweet as American desserts, they are over the top in richness--real cream, whipped and fresh Scottish was all lovely! The remainder of the day was truly a day of rest for us and the older kids enjoyed playing with their good friend, Evan.

Monday morning saw us all up bight and early as Caedmon got ready for his first day of school. His first day there was a school trip planned to the aquarium just down the coast in the town of Macduff. Caedmon was chuffed (excited!) and was looking forward to the day. After we all saw him off to school Mark and I took the girls for a drive down the coast to the “Spotty Bag Shop,” a store filled with any and everything, in hopes of finding a few essentials for the manse. The shop is in Banff, which happens to be literally just around a bend in the coast from Macduff, so we drove through the aquarium parking lot and took pictures of where our big boy was for the day! It was a great day and later on Caedmon reported loving school and all aspects of it. Maybe one of these days we’ll tell him we followed him around on his first day of school!

Caedmon is excited to attend his first day of school in Scotland!
Tuesday began our preregistration for Holiday Bible Club at the church. Mark walked Caedmon to school (which is not more than 100 yards from the church) and spent the rest of the morning in his church office in study. The girls and I went up to church later on to help with registration, meet new people and help paint scenery for HBC. With mammoth effort from Lorraine Thain, and a new friend, Elaine Cowie, we were able to get 90% of the drawing and painting done that day all while pre-registering over 100 kids! It was a great day.
Painting the scenery for Holiday Bible Club.

Wednesday we were able to have our first appointment with the midwife at the medical center and it was a blessing. The midwife we met with was kind, and straightforward with a great sense of humor. We appreciated that she didn’t offer any false hope, but her outlook was more optimistic than the perinatologist in Houston. While we were at the appointment it was again Lorraine to the rescue as she watched the girls for us (and has volunteered to for any future appointments). That is a real weight off of us as I know I couldn’t bear all these appointments by myself, yet having a 2 year old and 4 year old in the exam room with you is taxing, at best. The Lord is good to us in providing dear friends, close as family, even 5,000 miles from ‘home.’

All in all our first week was refreshing and filled with promise. We learned that our children are experiencing less of a ‘language barrier’ than we are; having a cup of tea when visiting and being visited is a must; we could sit for hours in our wide window sill watching the sea over the rooftops; there is a presence of God’s church here in northeastern Scotland; and the Fry Inn has the best chips with malt vinegar in town!

Thank you for praying for our family, the church here in Buckie and our new ministry as we begin to minister to the people in northeastern Scotland.
Reese's Puffs cereal, imported from America can be purchased for £7.99 (around $12.00) a box!