Saturday, December 31, 2011

My 29th Year

My husband will be 29 tomorrow.  When I turned 29 last January we discussed making it my best year ever and a really fun one.  I think the last year in my 20s was definitely that.  It was filled with wonderful adventures.  KJ asked me yesterday what we would do for his 29th year.  To which I replied, "I'd be up for England again." :)

Highlights of 2011?

                                  Birthday Movie Night                                                 KJ painting our kitchen

                                   Valentine's Day Date Night                                                  Snow!

                                 A First Date                                   Tulips in my flower bed and a new camera

Best Friends from the Past
A Trip to the Beach

7 Years
A Magical Photo Shoot

Summer Fun in the Backyard

                       Sunflowers                                                                         Six Flags

                                Kindergarten                                                         A Family Visit

5 Years
the last month of Year 1

Sunrise in Derbyshire

       Fall Colors                                                

All our family for Christmas

I get to spend the last day of 2011 with a best friend and college roommate, and I couldn't be more excited about that.  And tonight I'll ring in the new year with my almost-29-year-old husband and celebrate his birth with family.  Not a bad day.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday's Flashback: By the Sea

We left the Royal Pavilion about lunchtime on Wednesday, stepping into weather that was alternating between a drizzle and the sun peeking out behind the clouds.  I suppose that's typical for England.  We walked back to our car discussing the various lunch options we were passing.  I was all for stepping into a little pub and having some Irish Stew or something else traditional and warm, while KJ was eyeing the Japanese place.  Japanese?  On our second day in England?  Our first day we had dined at Pizza Hut and Subway, so I was ready for something a bit more British.

Since we couldn't quite agree, and I was worried about the time running out on the parking meter we decided to go ahead and find the oh so famous Brighton beach.  And there we found the perfect option for lunch by the sea on the boardwalk.

Fish and Chips
This was British enough for me and tasty enough for KJ.

Brighton in the summer stays crowded with people lounging on chairs on the rocky beach, but we had the place pretty much to ourselves.  I could smell/sense/taste? the salt in the air, and I wondered what sea-bathing would have been like for Lydia Bennet.

You can see what kind of day it was.
Blue skies, followed by gray skies, followed by the rain quickening up
and us deciding we couldn't risk my camera getting wet.

So we gathered a few rocks and shells to take home and 
hurried to the car and the adventures that awaited at Arundel Castle.

There is one more memory I have of Brighton...their public restrooms.  They were so kid friendly.  My mommy brain couldn't help but register the brightly painted stalls with small toilets and the changing tables.  I'm sure it's because they're outfitted for all the beach-goers.  Also, Brighton was the first place I got to pull a chain to flush the toilet.  These are the important memories, folks. :) 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Music for Your Car

If you've ever wanted a CD of Scripture songs for your kids that wouldn't drive you crazy listening to it in the car, I have a quick recommendation for you.  Check out Seeds Family Worship.  Someone gave us Seeds of Courage, and Ella got Seeds of Purpose for Christmas.  All the songs are a couple of verses of straight Scripture, and God's life-filled Word is the perfect antidote to whatever anxiety a mother of young children might be feeling.  Not to mention that my just learning to talk 2-year-old is now singing phrases of Scripture.  They're his favorite songs.

A few weeks ago I was leaving church after James ran head-long into the side of a door, and I was wondering if he might have a concussion and how I could tell and what I should do, and was I really going to survive this boy?  But James always demands his "song" now, and the words I hear booming out of the car speakers are, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  And it was repeated a few times, and it was the perfect antidote to my fears and anxiety.  Thank you God for James.  Please let him be okay.  Please keep him safe.  Please help me to take care of him rightly.  And then..."the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  

Last night was the first time we opened Ella's new CD.  We went to McDonald's before church to let the kids eat and play, and as we were leaving, KJ took the kids out, and I was cleaning off the table.  I grabbed the top of KJ's cup of water, not knowing he had left the top slightly off.  It was full of water, and when I grabbed it around the top it buckled and water spilled everywhere, including on the knee of the little boy eating dinner beside us.  I felt so bad for getting him wet, and of course there was nothing I could do about it at that point.  After alerting an employee to the mess we headed to the car where the music came back on where we'd left off:  "Each day has enough trouble of its own, each day has enough trouble of it's own.  So do not worry, do not worry..."  Well, then.  KJ and I just laughed.  Each day does indeed have enough trouble of its own.  I'm glad Jesus commands us the freedom of not worrying.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I've been editing Christmas pictures tonight while watching a little BBC television with my husband.  I couldn't help but want to share these.  They make me smile.

If that doesn't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will.

Family Christmas Picture

My side of the family
sans my father who was manning the camera.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our "Christmas"

We began our family celebration Christmas Eve morning with Belgian waffles on the Christmas china.  We've really enjoyed the Rudolph and Clarisse mugs I snagged from a college group Dirty Santa game.

KJ then gave the kids a quick Christmas morning bath while I cleaned up from breakfast.  I heard him telling the kids that he was washing them clean on Christmas morning just like Jesus came to wash us clean from our sins.  To which Ella replied, "It's not really Christmas morning."  She takes things very literally.  

Then it was time to open presents.  I love the excited present-opening smiles.  James really liked his bucket of animals, and Ella was obviously quite excited about her new shirts.

Ella's big present this year was a scooter.  She really loved it, and we went on a family walk around the block so she could ride it for the first time.  The funniest part of our journey was James "riding" Ella's tricycle.  He very happily walked it down the street.  He was so proud of himself.

We had a very nice day.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas from us!

We were all glad to get to go to church with my entire family this morning.
James had a good time sitting in the balcony.
It's been a good day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Bokeh

I'm not a crafty person (i.e. I'm not handy with scissors and glue.),
but my husband graciously put in the effort needed for me to
create this last night.

And it finally worked!

We were finding it easier to create hearts rather than stars.

Maybe I can coax KJ into cutting out a star for me tonight.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday's Flashback: The Royal Pavilion

Once we picked up our car Wednesday morning, we took the A23 to Brighton.  My main reason for wanting to visit Brighton stems from Pride and Prejudice.  Granted, it was the scene of much immorality, both in the book and in real life, but I always hear the BBC Lydia Bennet whine in my head, "Oh, I long to go to Brighton!"  I also hear Mrs. Bennet chime in, saying, "A little sea-bathing would set me up forever."  And so to Brighton we did go.  

I knew from various books that the Royal Pavilion was the home of the Prince Regent and that he spent his time seeking pleasure in all the usual places.  He was the son of King George III (who received that famous letter from our founding fathers and later went mad).  He was called the Prince Regent because his father was was still living when it became clear he was incapable of ruling, so he ruled the country as Regent until his father's death when he was crowned King George IV.  

The Pavilion is lavishly decorated in various styles.  The long room near the entrance had a Chinese motif.  I remember thinking as we walked through that it was sad what happened to a man when he had nothing to do.  The Prince built this palace in the years before he was crowned Regent and spent his time becoming an "expert" on decor, fashion, food, drink, and women.  And for what?  At the end of his life he stopped throwing lavish parties because he had grown so large, and his health had deteriorated from his life of excess.  It seemed rather empty.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but here are the things I want to remember:

  • The long Chinese hall with the twin staircases
  • The French students  We caught the end of their guide's talks as we walked through the palace.  
  • The Kitchens  The kitchen really was innovative for the time period.  The prince liked his food, and he made sure he had the latest technology.  He had a spit that turned by itself over the fire.  The room was huge with a stone floor and lots of "counter" space.
  • The ballroom  This room had deep carpet that the slipper-clad feet of ladies would have sunk into.
  • The servant's hall  The servants had their own hall way that connected to various rooms so that guests wouldn't see them.  There were a lot of hidden and disguised entrances to the rooms used for entertaining.
  • The bedroom King George IV used at the end of his life  Even then the Brits separated the toilet from the bath tub.  There was a concealed door beside the bed with a toilet, and his bathroom had water from the ocean pumped into the tub.  It was supposed to be healthful.

The second floor had a tearoom where I was able to procure a Diet Coke.  Praise be!  My English tea had not the caffeine strength I'm accustomed to in the morning.  We were also able to walk out the french doors to this stone parapet.  I think there was a man playing what seemed to be Jamaican island music out on the lawn for a group of school children?  

I think this was our first time to set up the tripod on our trip.

I'm just remembering the dining room and its magnificent chandelier.  
I wish I could show it to you, but I suppose you'll have to use your imagination.
It was fit for a palace.

My favorite part might have been a painting of Queen Victoria sailing into Brighton.  It was beautiful.  They had an exhibit dedicated to her Majesty there, and I enjoyed what I read about her.  I think I remember that she, Albert, and their several children spent a good bit of time there periodically. She had to convert a lot of the rooms into bedrooms for her children.

 It was also interesting to learn that the Pavilion was used as a hospital for Indian soldiers during the first World War.  

Little bits of information like that are popping in and out of my  head now.
This isn't a complete history lesson about the Royal Pavilion,
but I'll wager you know a little bit more now than you did before.

* * *
One more thing!
They had the coronation robe of King George IV.
Can you imagine? 
That is OLD.

But not that old for England, I suppose.

* * *
KJ suggested I leave you with a link of images from the Pavilion.
You can see the dining room after all!

I love seeing the old photographs paintings of a place I've been.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Once upon a time Katie sent an e-mail.

I took a few family pictures for KJ's sister for their Christmas card when they were here a couple of weeks ago.  After we got a few smiles from the kids, we let them run free and took a few pictures of Katie and David.  Mamas like having romantic pictures made with their husbands.  After all, once upon a time it was how the whole adventure of raising a family began.

Long before there was Facebook, a young lady sent an e-mail to a young man serving the Lord in Africa.  She reminded him of her relationship to his friend KJ and told him she had been reading his newsletters and was praying for him.  E-mail begat e-mail begat longer and longer e-mails, and David put a ring on her finger not long after his return home.  

And I think they're going to live happily ever after for sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday's Memories: Picking up the Hired Car

I tried to post this video last night, but YouTube was experiencing technical difficulties.  Now you have some Monday's Memories on Tuesday!  

The first Wednesday morning of our trip I got up before KJ and went to the breakfast room to fix my continental breakfast, British style.  I ate a bowl of cereal and some crusty brown bread with jam.  I even fixed myself a hot cup of tea in the absence of my usual Diet Mountain Dew.  I carried the laptop with me so I could post a few pictures and enjoyed a conversation with a man who was heading off to an African island with his wife for their holiday.  I loved the conversations I was able to have with people.

The owner of the Bed and Breakfast helped us load our luggage and drove us to the Holiday Inn at Povey Cross where we were hiring a car.  The following video is of our first little cruise around the parking lot with KJ testing out his left-handed stick-shifting abilities.  It ends with me freaking out that we're about to be the cause of death for a Brighton bicyclist.

KJ and I laughed and laughed at my voice on here last night.  But you tell me what you would have done.  KJ was barreling toward that unsuspecting rider, and it did not look like he was going to slow down.  There was traffic on his immediate right and nowhere for him to go.  Enjoy a little glimpse into our first day on the road.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Weekend

Over the weekend we...

stopped to notice the loveliness around us.

KJ left for work Friday morning, closing the front door and locking us in,
but then returning a few seconds later to say,
"If you want to take some pictures this morning, the water on the poinsettia
is really pretty."  

I was thankful for a husband who noticed and then made sure I noticed, too.

We went to a Christmas party...

where KJ enjoyed his favorite food,
chicken in a jalapeno pepper wrapped in bacon.

Ella decorated Christmas cookies...

and we came home with a plate of deliciousness. 

James and Ella were introduced to Nerf guns.

I'm sorry to say that Elmo's nose was used for target practice.

I designed a Christmas card.

And we went to a movie and stayed up so late last night,
and I thought it would be okay since the kids are with grandparents,
and we could sleep in today, but...

I guess I lost the ability to sleep in somewhere along the way.
I wake up at about the same time every morning no matter what time I go to bed.

I told KJ this morning he was in charge of making me go to bed on time tonight.
No matter how much I beg to stay up and have a little more fun, 
he can't give in to me.

You know what's funny?
Ella is just like me.  
She hates going to bed.  She'll cry and say,
"I just didn't get to do everything I wanted to yet."

I say the same thing to KJ on occasion.  

But it was a good weekend, and I'm excited about the week ahead
and so thankful for the people the Lord has placed in our lives.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday's Flashback: The Close of Day

Can you believe it?  In my recording of all that we saw and did in England, we are at the end of the first day.  I could drag this out all the way through 2012.  I've already shared several pictures of sunset over the Thames, and it truly was the perfect way to end our day.  We were tired, we hadn't seen it all or made it to every place, but there was only one more thing I was insistent on experiencing.  I really wanted pictures of Parliament and Big Ben from across the water at night.  There was supposed to be a nearly full moon, and getting a picture of THAT would be amazing, but I would settle for the sunset.

We arrived at Waterloo Station, which KJ reminded me was the place where it was proven once more that you should always listen to Jason Bourne.  The after-work foot traffic was pretty intense at this time, and we were in a hurry not to miss the sunset, so this is the only shot I got there.

KJ was a wonderful navigator through the London streets and making sure we made it to the right station, but alas, we did take a wrong turn leaving Waterloo.  We were walking down a road that didn't seem to be leading to a very good part of the city.  A helpful man on his way home from work redirected us, and we made it safely to the Golden Jubilee Bridge, which wasn't the exact angle I had envisioned but ended up being the perfect place.  

My tripod was packed away in a suitcase that we were hoping would be waiting for us at our BandB.  I took the best shots I could using KJ's shoulder, and next time around, I hope to learn how to pan more slowly with the video camera.  Despite my poor skills, I'm glad I shot video, because I love the sight of the boats slipping quietly through the water.

We then gave the passing man out of work a few pence from KJ's pocket 
and continued with our do-it-yourself photo session.

And then, being so very, very tired, we decided to say farewell to London.

Oh, wait, KJ, one more picture.
I can't get enough of Ben.


We moved our weary feet (that according to my pedometer traveled about 24,000 steps) back in the direction of Victoria Station where we paid 30 pence to go to the bathroom and paid extra poundage to take the fastest train back to Gatwick Airport.  There we huddled close in the cold and waited for a cab.  I just realized that my one and only experience with a taxi was in London.  Yes. 

We arrived at The Manor House where our luggage awaited.  We were so thankful as went up the two flights of stairs and up a little step on the landing and down the hall to our room.  Locking the door with a big skeleton key we surveyed our room with the twin beds and pink coverlets with great relief.  A hot shower never felt so good as the one that washed off the 31- hour grime.  After figuring out how to turn on the telly (power button, then one push up of the channel button) I found Agatha Christie's Poirot playing.  I looked out the window to the darkness of a British pasture and felt so happy and expectant about what was to come.