Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday's Flashback: The Rutland Arms

One week before we left for England we were at my parents' house for the weekend, preparing to go to a family wedding in Athens, trying to line up lodging for the second half of our journey.  I looked at a few places around Chatsworth House in Derbyshire but knew I wanted to stay at The Rutland Arms as soon as I came across it.  It was a little splurge on our pocketbook, but it seemed worth a little extra money to stay in the inn where Jane Austen is said to have stayed during the year she was revising Pride and Prejudice.  

 Please forgive these not-so-great pictures.
Perhaps I was getting lazy with photography at this point?

Oddly enough, and I hate to say it, but this was the one place we stayed that I was unsatisfied with, and I probably should have reviewed it on Trip Advisor...but since I hate conflict I didn't.  I really appreciated and utilized customer reviews while planning our trip, but since I didn't get a chance to talk to the management about our problem I decided not to publicly defame them.

Our first little disappointment was not being in the main part of the hotel, but across the street in the renovated stables, where we were unable to pick up the hotel's internet.  Since we wanted to contact our children back home we brought the laptop over to the hotel lounge and restaurant and set up shop in a comfortable corner.  The restaurant was kind enough to serve us there, bringing our dinner of sandwiches and crisps, but I felt like they saw us as uncouth Americans.  This wasn't a big deal, but it was just this vibe I was picking up.  The man at the front desk seemed a bit snobbish to me. 

Those things were nothing to what I found when I went to shower that night, though.  The shower curtain was absolutely COVERED in mildew.  It was so gross, and I should have complained, but since we were across the street, and it was late, I cringed, put on KJ's flip-flops and went on with it.  It really was unacceptable, but I guess I accepted it. 

But we slept well enough, got a free pen, and enjoyed a delicious English breakfast in the hotel dining room the next morning after our sunrise adventure.  

After breakfast we walked up the wide stairs to the "first" floor to see the room where Jane Austen stayed.

I suppose it was worth our little inconveniences to look out the window at the "same" view Jane Austen enjoyed, the view that she gave to Elizabeth Bennet watching Mr. Darcy arrive from Pemberley to invite her to dinner.  He just couldn't stay away.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Centennial Celebration

We went home over the weekend to join my family in the 100th anniversary of my home church.  It was a very special time, and I am always thankful when I go home for all the people who have invested in me and been faithful to the gospel year upon year.  It is good to see familiar faces who are still there.  

I wasn't able to take as many pictures as I would have liked on Sunday.  There were a lot of people, and parenting and making sure James didn't slip out the door took up a lot of my attention, but I took a few Saturday at the Centennial Picnic.  KJ did an amazing job preaching that night, and I got to meet a best friend's first-born daughter.  Ella was a big helper to Debbo in the kitchen, wrapping barbecue sandwiches and putting silverware away.  It was a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Surprise Visit

Kameron and Olivia are known for making surprise trips into town, which we always love, but it is especially fun now that Haddon is here.  Babies change so quickly so it was good to see the Had-man on his 6-week birthday.

Here's my own little blue-eyed boy when he was six weeks.

See any resemblance?

There might be just enough Pugh in there for a little bit of resemblance.  James for sure got his blue eyes from KJ.  There are no blue-eyed Murphy's that I know of.  

 I love Haddon's wrinkled brow above.
It reminds me of KJ and Ella when she was a baby.

 Happy 6 weeks, Haddon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anne on Fashion

A couple of days ago I was searching through my closet for something fashionable to wear when this Anne of Green Gables quote popped into my mind.  I'm sure women of all ages feel this way and not just 11-year-old girls.

"I'd rather look ridiculous like everyone else
than plain and sensible all by myself." 

Am I right, ladies?

I know I must be right. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

All We Do Around Here

Today turned into an unexpectedly long and exhausting day.  Disciplining my children wears me out emotionally, and James required a lot of discipline today.  As I was bidding Ella good-night she asked, "Mom, what are we going to do tomorrow?"  She is ever like me...wanting to do something exciting.  But striving-for-discipline me responded, "Well, school...".

Big sigh.  "Well, I don't really like doing school all the time.  All I do is listen and's kind of boring."

Seeing the tired and dejected look on my face, "But, I still love you."

"Thanks.  Good night."

It suddenly occurred to me, as it so often does, how much we can learn about ourselves from children.  We're not so different than they.  Children have no idea of all the work going on behind the scenes in parenting, the parents' desires for them to be happy, healthy, have everything they need, and grow into mature, God-fearing, happy, healthy adults.  They so easily forget the gifts that came before.  And so do we.  So do we.  I so easily forget all of God's good gifts, the lengths He went to to make me His own.

All we ever do around here is listen and write.

Monday's Memories: A Derbyshire Sunrise

I knew from the beginning of our trip that I wanted to be out in the English countryside at sunrise one morning, and what better place to do that than in Derbyshire?  After a Tuesday night watching the British History Channel, we woke up early, bundled up and drove a little way outside of the village of Bakewell.

If you're familiar with Pride and Prejudice, this is the village that is the pattern for Lambton, where Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are staying when they decide to visit Pemberley. 

Maybe it's just me, but these pictures take my breath away.  Derbyshire is so beautiful.

 I love the look of the green patchwork quilt on the hills.

 I love those old rock walls.

 More green patchwork...isn't it wonderful?

 My Cow Friend: He kept his eye on me,
wondering what I was up to.

 He came to get a closer look.

We drove up above the other side of the village, and I love this shot looking down at the church.  It's a perfect little place.

After our lovely, brisk and cold morning start we went back to our hotel for breakfast and to load up the car.  I made it my first order of business to buy a coat because I was freezing.  I found a nice fleece made in Scotland and felt instantly better.  On a side note, we had meant to bring along a cd of soundtrack music from our favorite British movies for the car and forgot.  While I was picking out a jacket, KJ bought some Welsh music as well as some music from musicals.  When he put it in the car and Oklahoma started blasting out, I had to change it.  We can't listen to that one here.  

We explored the streets of the village and a book shop where I bought Ella a copy of Winnie the Pooh, which I've probably enjoyed reading aloud to her more than she has.  I never knew Eeyore had so many hilarious one-liners.  

After exploring Bakewell at bit we got in the car and drove to Chatsworth House, otherwise known as...Pemberley

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What Mothering Felt Like: 9.19.12

I wanted to record and remember so many things from yesterday.  I want to remember them for myself, to remember what all the wonderful craziness feels like when these years are over.  And when I'm brought into relationship with younger women in later years and I'm one of those older women that they think can't possibly understand or remember the things they're experiencing, I have a written record, the things I thought and felt when "I was right there in it," as Ernest T. Bass so aptly put it.

There are so many steps you have to go through just to get out the door, and it really never pays to announce that you're going somewhere before all the steps are completed.  If you do, you'll trip over one of your children every time you turn around as they dog your every footstep, asking if they can go ahead and get in the car.  

As we drove down the road yesterday morning, James sang along to the Seeds of Praise cd.  It's the sweetest thing, hearing him sing scripture, and it makes my heart so happy.  It's always so surprising how much young children are taking in from the world around them.  It makes you hope and pray God protects and spares from those times your patience wears thin.

Turn it down!

After I turn the music down...

Where's Da-da?

He's at work.

Okay.  Turn it up!

James is growing and maturing so much lately, and he waited patiently and with perfect obedience to instruction while I made copies at the FedEx store.  I was so proud of him, but know this, young parent.  It is a hard thing for toddlers/preschoolers to make it through more than one stop in a single outing from home.  Target started out well, but by the end, the boy who woke up a little earlier than normal was throwing pint-size fits.  Mild stress levels commenced for me, and seeing as it was lunch time, a bag of crunchy Cheetos came off the shelf.  Oh, yes, you'll be surprised what you will allow your children when you're trying to focus on the task at hand, and you have a preschooler who doesn't want to stay in the buggy...unless given a snack.  Ella's always so sensitive to my moods.

Mom, I know you're distressed...

The afternoon was short and crazy, with James' nap being interrupted by his trouble with bowel movements, preparing for church, catching up on missed morning school time with Ella.  But Ella's a sweet grown-up girl, and James was precious even without a good nap, so excited to play with his new flashcards.  Flashcards.  James loves those things.  I'm always so surprised at how much he loves when I sit down with him in my lap for something educational.  My busy boy loves to read books, and maybe it's because Ella and I do addition flashcards every day, but he loves them now.  Shapes, colors, numbers, I'm so proud of him when he identifies the "bue scare." i.e. blue square

Getting ready for church, Ella came in to my bathroom, a pink sparkly shoe on one foot, a black flip-flop on the other, to ask me which shoe looked better with her outfit.  We made it out the door with 3 drinks, snacks and drinks for Awana, Bible-story cards, Sparks vest and book, diapers, wipes, extra shorts for James just in case, purse, phone, dish to return to T...never underestimate just how many things you have to carry with you when you go out the door.

Stress levels disappeared when the kids started jamming out to The Parent Trap soundtrack, and I look back and see James' twinkling blue eyes and happy face singing along, Ella with her expressive brown eyes.

Driving home from church with the music blaring, the kids carrying-on loudly in the backseat (thankfully, having fun together and not fighting!), I marveled that I didn't lose my mind and have a wreck.  Grace of God.  I'm tired by the time we get home, and James must be, too.  After requesting me to take off his jeans and commanding me to clean up his new flashcards (in a really cute voice, of course), he inquired if it was nighttime.


I go to bed.

James in bed, Ella playing with her new Barbie doll bought with birthday money that day, I sit.  For a moment.  Then brushed teeth for the Ella-girl, too, and in the bed she must go, and I sit for a few more moments and feel thankful for a time to feel the peace of God's grace over our lives.  Because there are moments when I don't, when I feel "distressed" as Ella says.  

And that's what a day of mothering is like.    

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ella's Blog (and lots of links)

Ella started a blog this past summer.  The postscript of THIS POST gives the background on her idea.  I didn't publicly link to her blog at first because I wanted to keep her readership to family, but since mostly family and friends (and a few friends of family) are my main readers, I wanted to link up to Ella today because she blogged for the first time in a couple of months.  I didn't want you to miss out on her burgeoning writing skills!

As a very brief background, KJ loves Tolkien, and this week, September 22, is the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.  As I learned from having Peter Jackson in my Facebook feed, this week is dubbed Hobbit Week, celebrating the 75th publication of The Hobbit on September 21.  Ergo, because we like to celebrate the things we enjoy, I decided to make it fun and incorporate it into school this week.

Ella's Post

I forgot to add that the reason for Ella's return to blogging today was because she was supposed to write a journal entry for school.  I felt like her journal entry should take a blogging format today and give everybody a treat.  Leave her some comments to make her smile.

A few shenanigans from KJ's Instagram:  Reading 

He's got opinions.

James just requested that I dress him for the day (I thought rainy days were reserved for pajamas?).

What about this shirt with the penguins?

I don't like animals; I like stripes.

Stripes it was.  I dressed him in the orange tee with blue stripes that I bought because the colors were pretty, but if I allow him to wear it outside the house this time of year, Alabama fans everywhere would be appalled.

James-boy also has opinions about his birthday party.  He is now talking quite frequently about turning three and his Thomas birthday party.  Here's a peek inside his Thomas photo shoot last Thursday.

He was so cute and so excited when we got to the railroad bridge.  He stood in the exact spot I told him to stand, smiled agreeably, and after I clicked the shutter, said, "Okay!" and started to walk away.  Come back, James!  We want to take more than one picture.

KJ stood behind me, jumping up and down and laughing.  James followed suit.

 Thomas and Percy, how he loves them.

 What a big boy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday's Memories: Derbyshire at Last

We arrived at the county line entering Derbyshire right at dusk, and it was so supremely cold that I stole the fleece jacket KJ bought in Wales.  You can tell how hard the wind was blowing and how cold it felt by my hair and our faces.  But we were in Derbyshire!  I still couldn't believe it.  I still can't, actually.

The countryside was everything we imagined but somehow even more beautiful.  We took as many pictures as we could stand before being driven back to the warmth of the car.

 Grazing Sheep

 Grazing Cows

 Rock Walls

 Sunset Glow

We couldn't wait for Wednesday morning and a glimpse of Pemberley itself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Flashback: Into the North Country

After our stop in Kidderminster with Richard Baxter we turned our little traveling car toward Derbyshire, a place which had lived in infamy with me since my first reading of Pride and Prejudice at the age of twenty-two.  

I think KJ took the above picture when we stopped at a public toilet.  I kid you not, you absolutely had to take advantage when you saw such a sign.  It got to the point where when we'd drive through a village and see a "TO LET" sign, we'd get excited before realizing our mistake:  a crucial letter was missing.

Our first views of Derbyshire did not disappoint.  The green fields and rock walls were just as I imagined, and the air was bitter cold.  So, so cold, that it was painful to get out of the car, but when we rounded a bend we saw it, our second rainbow of the day.  It made my heart full.

It was so cold that after my rainbow shot I contented myself with taking pictures from inside the car.  KJ braved the cold a bit longer to bring you this panorama.

 And off we went.  Derbyshire awaits.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Sweetest Boy

We took James out for a birthday photo shoot this morning on a whim of mine.  I was holding him in my arms like a baby while we watched Popeye (Ella's cartoon of choice this morning), and I asked him what kind of birthday party he wanted.

"Thomas the train bithday paa-ty."  

My mom had just gifted him with a new Thomas t-shirt, and I suddenly envisioned him in it down by the old railroad bridge.  KJ accommodated my whim, and James was the most grown-up he's EVER been about having his picture taken.  He seemed to understand it had something to do with his birthday party, and he was super-obliging for the first few pictures.  

Then at the end he said what he's been saying quite a lot lately.

"Hold me!"

I love that boy.  I can't believe he's almost 3.  I'm savoring 2 today.