Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Thinker

Whenever KJ solves one of my problems he likes to remind me that he was a "Future Problem-Solver of America" in high school.  I think Haddon might follow in his footsteps.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's Memories: Richard Baxter

Our first stop after leaving Wales was made for KJ in the city of Kidderminster, where Puritan pastor and writer, Richard Baxter, lived for many years.  St. Mary's wasn't open at the time we stopped, and they were doing some work in the drive so I took some interesting angles trying to crop out the truck ruining my scenery. :)

If my husband had time for such things I would ask him to write his summary and thoughts on Richard Baxter because I only remember bits and pieces of what he's told me.  Mainly I remember KJ talking about how his pastoring and caring for his flock changed the entire village of Kidderminster.

I know it's hard to read the words on the statue, so I'll translate:

Between the years 1641 and 1660
this town
was the scene of the labours
Richard Baxter.
Renowned equally for 
His Christian learning
and his pastoral fidelity.

In a stormy and divided age
he advocated unity and comprehension
pointing the way to
The Everlasting Rest.

Churchmen and nonconformists
united to raise this memorial.
A.D. 1875

My knowledge of nonconformists comes from KJ's history lessons...the nonconformists were those pastors who were kicked out of the Church of England after the Act of Uniformity, which required their complying with a lot of rules that over 2,000 pastors refused to comply with.  I write that because I think it's a testament to Richard Baxter's character and faithfulness as a pastor that caused people in two camps, official churchmen and the nonconformists, to unite in honoring him.  

Whew...history lesson over.  Although I will add that after hearing KJ's explanation of which king issued the Act of Uniformity, I understand his point of view.  It came after the British Civil War when the monarchy was deposed and exiled.  Oliver Cromwell led.  King Charles issued the act when the monarchy resumed power 10 years later.  I can understand why he would have been anxious to re-establish power and uniformity.  Though I think it did the caused a lot of problems and unrest...and I can understand why the pastors refused to conform, I think.  Ahh, history.  This made me think how history could have been very different.  What if the monarchy hadn't come back into power?

I hate to jump from church history to our search for a public toilet, but so it was.  It's not as simple as stopping at a gas station; we found their toilets were not for the public, which makes absolutely no sense.  Using our trusty GPS we ended up trying our luck at a hospital, which was completely packed with no parking.  KJ drove around while I most thankfully found success in the dining building.  I was so afraid the entire time I was in there someone would scold me for not being there lawfully.  They're so possessive of their toilets.

Our next stop was about 20 miles further in Bridgnorth where Richard Baxter served as a young curate (kind of a training period where he worked under another vicar). The house where he lived still stands and is quaint as quaint can be.

I just love that epitaph. 

I stayed in the car, fretting about how we were illegally parked, while KJ ran in to the church across the street where Baxter served as curate.  I was seriously afraid of breaking British laws.  Here are KJ's photographs of this lovely old church.

KJ definitely enjoyed standing in every pulpit he could.

Can't you see KJ as a vicar in England?

Friday, August 24, 2012


Since we've been on the subject of nephews for the past couple of weeks, I just wanted to post this link to my sister-in-law's blog.  John David says some pretty fun things, and this made me laugh the second go-around, too.

John David on Robert E. Lee

Friday's Flashback: Over the Rainbow

We prolonged our stay in Hay-on-Wye Tuesday morning as long as possible, but by lunchtime knew we needed to be on the road.  We picked up a sandwich and a pasta salad from a little shop to take with us (deli food became our staple from this point on), and started down the little road that led out of town.  As we crossed the bridge over the River Wye, I yelled out, "Stop, KJ, stop!!"  (Kind of like at the end of Miracle on 34th Street, you know?)  He stopped, heart pounding from my scream, and obligingly parked the car.  I ran through the frigid air because look what was over the River Wye!  Our own personal farewell.

 It was so lovely, wasn't it?  
It hadn't rained where we were...maybe a drizzle...
I don't remember.  Maybe it's always on the verge of drizzling 
in the UK...

I took pictures until the rainbow faded, and my hands felt like they would freeze off, and then we had to say good-bye to Wales.  We were thankful for the beautiful send-off.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Busy Days

Lately I find myself working hard from dawn to dusk.  Is that what I'm supposed to be doing?  Probably.  Between teaching Ella, disciplining and parenting both she and James, keeping up with my new housekeeping schedule, and planning for Ella's birthday party (as well as normal stuff like talk to my husband, exercise, shower, fix meals, grocery shop, etc.) life has been BUSY.  Good but busy.  And fun...because Hillary's back in town!  That needed to be said.  Also, it's back to school for college students, and KJ has several events this week related to that.

So...Ella's birthday party?  For the first half of the year she wanted a Tangled party, but for the past couple of months she switched to Brave.  KJ and I took her to see the movie in June, and we've been listening to the soundtrack, and we got excited about doing it.  Back in the day I probably would have bought Brave cups and plates from Wal-Mart and been done with it, but this is Ella's first party to invite friends to, and I decided to do some looking around on Pinterest for some party ideas, and WHAM-BAM.  We are planning quite the fete. (We hope.)

Lest you think I'm the parent getting carried away, let's just say KJ scored a kilt at college Bible study last night.  I mentioned to him about how it would be fun if he were dressed up, and he said he'd ask the college students if any of them had a kilt.  "You think someone will have a kilt?"  "Definitely."  He was right.  I'm excited, but my mind is spinning.  I'm also trying to pull together Ella's annual birthday party video, which is a little harder this year with James' new activity level.  Plus, you moms know how you sit down to do something, and then everyone needs clean underwear, cup re-fills, snacks, etc.  

All of the above was said because I was really hoping to have more time this morning to edit more pictures of Haddon, but since the whirlwind of the day is beginning, I think I got through three more pictures.  Here's some Pugh preciousness, though.

Now the day can begin.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And Then There Were Two

Two nephews born in one week makes for a very happy aunt/photographer.  KJ and I got to visit sweet little Haddon on Saturday.  Look at that little blonde head.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday's Memories: The Old Black Lion

We spent our night in Hay-on-Wye at The Old Black Lion, a 17th century inn, parts of which have been around since the 1300s.  Its biggest claim to fame is that Oliver Cromwell stayed there during the British civil war, which we read a lot about in Dickens' A Child's History of England.  We also watched a lot of the British History Channel while we were in the UK so I became more familiar with a lot of British history.  

The Old Black Lion was a really fun place to stay.  17th century means low ceilings, short doorways, crooked stairs, in a word:  charm.

We ended up eating here Monday night after our fruitless walk through the town looking for food before 6 p.m.  I can't remember exactly what I ate, but I do remember that it was beautifully and elegantly displayed on my plate, tasted divine, and was very expensive.  What I also remember about our dinner that night was overhearing the table conversation of some fellow travelers.  Their accents betrayed them as being British, and it caught my attention when this one lady started talking about Matt Damon and how good his political views were, how he really knew what he was talking about.  It made me laugh because I've definitely never heard anyone else say that.  

 Number 4

We found the portable heater in the wardrobe and plugged it in when we got there.  Remember how cold I said the weather turned?  Cold.  We watched a really interesting British reality-ish show on our little telly.  It was about a family who had this huge estate, but because of the huge amount of taxes (duties?) they have to pay they couldn't afford to keep it up anymore.  It had been in the family for so long they hated to lose it, so this lady came in and helped the son turn it into a flourishing wedding-venue.  Those are the types of problems those British have.  All of those huge estates and no money for the upkeep.


The little bathroom had a landing with a shower, then two steep steps with the reminder, Mind Your Head!!  Of course I promptly hit my head on the doorway.  You really do have to mind your head.
Monday morning we enjoyed a delicious hot English breakfast in the dining room.  KJ tried a bite of black pudding and said it tasted a little like bacon.  We were wondering, just what IS black pudding?  We leaned over to reveal our American-ness and ask the gentleman dining next to us.  I think KJ felt like gagging when he was told it was sausage made with pig's blood.  Oh, my.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homeschooling + James

I wanted to write a post about how homeschooling was going, and then I realized that I've taken the most pictures whenever James has gotten involved.  It makes me really happy when I'm able to teach both Ella and James at the same time.  So far I've let James choose his level of involvement, and I haven't tried to keep him on any kind of regimen.  I think this fits his needs right now, but I have always been pleasantly surprised at how much James enjoys sitting in my lap reading a book or doing some other "educational" activity.  I'm pleased he has this side to him as well as his more active side.

 Ella's first short story
(based on the story of Henney Penney we read)

As far as teaching Ella goes, everything has gone so well.  I absolutely love what I'm learning, and she is a great student.  She soaks up what we read, and we continue to talk about things as we go about our days.  All the thunderstorms we've been having recently have been a great way to reiterate what we've studied about clouds, thunder, and lightning.  We've also studied the water cycle, so when we're driving down the road, and it comes a gullywasher, I ask, "What happened up there in the clouds?" and Ella replies, "The water droplets in the cloud got heavier and heavier until they fell."  I love teaching.  And science.  Who knew?

In math we've been learning about the tens and ones place, and we had these handy tiles that James used to sort by color and then to practice counting.  I think this was the first time he participated with us, and it was so fun.

 And c'mon, Mom, stop taking my picture.

Ella and I have been getting dressed each morning for school, but James kind of stays in his p.j.'s and doesn't wear pants for the most part.  He makes so many trips to the bathroom it just seems easier.  If I'm going to take cute pictures though, we should probably put him in pants more often.

The math curriculum we're using also has me spending 5 minutes at the beginning of the lesson drilling Ella with addition flash cards.  I wouldn't have done this on my own, but Ella has impressed me as she always does.  She gets so excited when I pull out the flash cards.  We've been working on addition facts up to 10 this past week.

Flash cards turned out to be another good way to include James.  He tells me the names of the numbers, and then Ella tells me the answer.

This past week we played a phonics game that both kids really enjoyed.  I pulled out several letter cards, called out words, and Ella put the cards together to spell the words.  James wanted to play, too, so I say the word, and Ella tells James which letters to find.  It's turned into a good way to introduce James to lowercase letters. 

Phonics was my favorite subject in 2nd grade.

Ella's Kindergarten teacher and the Abeka curriculum she used did an excellent job teaching Ella Phonics last year.  We've been whizzing through this first grade Hooked on Phonics book.  I figured it was good review, so we're working on spelling the words from memory since she's got the reading part down so well.  
So there's a lot of good things...any negative things so far?  Not really.  Sometimes James does talk really loud and school gets interrupted by potty emergencies.  And last night I tried to make a tornado in a bottle and failed.  Ella complains a little when it's time for me to read aloud to her.  She's actually a really good listener and enjoys the story, but she's too much like me and would much rather be the reader than the listener.  I've let her read everything to me this week except for our main read-aloud right now, The Boxcar Children.  

The first full week (in which KJ was also out of the country) was a busier schedule than I was used to having.  I didn't have the option to have a lazy day because there was always school to teach.  It took me a few days to get used to losing my morning cleaning time, but thanks to an introduction to The Fly Lady (whose website I still haven't checked out), I have a new cleaning schedule forming, so the house has actually been more clean and organized.  

Whenever I write about how well things are going, the next day usually brings disaster of some kind.  Oh, well.  Things are going great so far.  I did have to clean a lot of poop out of the floor last week, so you know, things weren't absolutely perfect around here or anything.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday's Flashback: Hay-on-Wye, The Town of Books

We drove into Hay-on-Wye in the late afternoon.  After getting settled in our 17th century inn (more on that to come) we thought we'd walk through the streets of the town of books and happen upon some dinner.  We were starving.  Well, I don't remember about KJ, but I was starving.  I don't think we really stopped for lunch but had only snacked on the road.  We stepped into a few bookstores, all so delightful, but quickly grew to understand that restaurants in Hay-on-Wye shut down in the afternoon, and absolutely none of them re-open until I think 6 p.m.  If you're hungry before six in Hay-on-Wye you're just out of luck.  And that we were.

But this is a delightful distraction from food, eh?

 I thought this was the absolute best name for a bookstore,
a bookstore containing nothing but mysteries that is.

There were a lot of British mysteries inside, which I expected, but also a lot of true crime books, which I'm not a fan of.  It was a small little shop with books stacked floor-to-ceiling, old wooden stairs, and a lot of charm.  They had a complete set of Sherlock Holmes signed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, too expensive and cumbersome for me to acquire.

 You know, just a castle full of books.

The above picture was taken the next morning.  While we wondered the streets, waiting until the town's dinner time the evening before, wind, rain, and cold blew into town.  A really nice cold wind.  When I packed for our trip, I was only able to see the forecast for the first week, which was highs in the 50s.  The UK was having a warm streak, and I packed for that, leaving my warm jacket behind.  It got so cold for a few days there, but as we were leaving one shop that night, the wind tugging at the door, the shopkeeper called out, "This is such mild weather compared to our usual Octobers!"  

Drizzly rain kept me from taking a lot of pictures in Hay-on-Wye, but we probably took a peek inside all 40 of the town's bookstores, finding a few treasures along the way.

 One of the more sophisticated shops, that also sold new books

KJ was the main treasure-finder in Hay-on-Wye.  We split up on Monday night inside a vast two-story shop, and when we met back up he had found John Owen's commentary on Hebrews, printed in 1790.  The Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1789 to give a frame of reference...and really, 1790 is not that old in England, but to us it was something.  Here's a picture.

The next morning I found the treasure for him.  He heard my gasp from across the bookstore.  Not quite as old, printed in 1810, but I knew it would make him happy.  It cost quite a few pounds, but when I asked him if he'd regret it when we were back home, KJ said, "Yes."  Then you should buy it, said I.

Hay-on-Wye clock tower

Did you know Charles Dickens wrote under the name BOZ?  A whole shop devoted to Dickens was fun to explore, and the prize under my arm?  The Half-Blood Prince, British style.  We were missing three Harry Potter books from our haphazard collection, and I was determined to bring home British copies of them.  I also found Chamber of Secrets in Hay-on-Wye and an old copy of Cranford.  We tried to control ourselves in the town of books.

I was trying to figure out why I was walking so far ahead of KJ, and I think it must have been when we were headed to the car to leave, and I was desperate to get warm.  I like it because you can get a glimpse of how these little villages are nestled in between green hills.  Hay-on-Wye is a definite treasure of a town.  It hit me this morning that I wondered what conversations amongst the townspeople are everyone a reader?  Almost all of the town's revenue comes from the sell of books.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Introducing Caleb

When KJ left the country last week he had no idea he'd come home to two precious nephews.  We hope to make the trip to meet baby Haddon soon, but I got to go meet my brother's first son on Saturday.  He's so beautiful and precious.  I love these images.

This was my first time to photograph a true newborn.  Caleb was 3 days old Saturday and slept soundly through wardrobe changes and maneuvering about.  Newborns are so sweet.

There are several more pictures I've yet to get to, but those are some of my favorites so far.  We love you so much already, Caleb.  I keep thinking of this verse and pray it will be true of you:

But my servant, Caleb, because he has had a
different spirit and has followed me fully,
I will bring into the land which he entered...
Numbers 14:24