Tuesday, August 26, 2014

7 More Days to Be 7

Last night Ella informed us that it was only 8 days until she was 8 and that today she'd only have 7 more days to be 7!  I told her we'd try to make this last week of being 7 a fun one.  I hope seven has been a good year for her.

September 2

October 1

Boy, in a month's time she lost her two front teeth.

  November 2

December 7

She beat her daddy at Rummikub, not an easy feat to be sure.

  January 4

 February 3

 March 2

 April 1

May 2

June 4

 July 2

 August 2

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Little Bit of Everything

This weekend was just plain fun and chock-full of good things.  I spent a lot of time with my mixer and rolling pin.  

Some of our college students invited us to watch the season premiere of Doctor Who, and I wanted to make something special because sometimes I get really into parties, and it's fun to create.  I think KJ was a little skeptical when I showed him the picture of the cake I wanted to emulate. My cake looks decidedly amateurish compared to the professional, but she had written such a good tutorial on how to put the cake together I thought it was worth a try.  I learned a lot of "cake-decorating things" so it was worth it.  

I did, however, forget to put handles on my TARDIS, so you can't actually get inside and go anywhere.

It's bigger on the inside of course.
You could also say it's smaller on the outside.

The tutorial had me make an entire recipe of marshmallow fondant, but all that it was needed for was the windows, so while KJ and the kids kept tearing off pieces to eat I rolled some out to lay across my second layer of cake.  That was the easiest icing job ever, and KJ likes the marshmallow fondant so much he'd be happy if I never used traditional frosting again. I happened upon the candy glasses and bow ties at Target, and I thought they made a good ode to Doctors 10 and 11.

Our fun night out was sponsored by the Kizziah family who kept our kids, making all kinds of fun memories.  We took some pictures for them to put on a prayer card yesterday evening before church. I don't know if I should share any of the pictures they want to use yet, so I'll settle for an underexposed shot.  I think the properly exposed shots turned out really well.  Maybe this is what their prayer card might look like if they were going to a more dangerous area. 

I've been rocking this kid in this chair like this for almost 5 years.  It's our special spot, so I asked KJ to take a picture last night.  James said, "This can be me and your passport picture."  I think it's the perfect shot for a government document, don't you?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Franco Fridays: We're back!

Just being able to write, "Paris, Take 2," is such an incredible gift.  It also seems rather wild and crazy to have had the opportunity because in my everyday, normal life, there can be a run of days when I don't step one foot out of my door.  As I wrote yesterday, that's changing with James needing a nap less frequently, but with 5 years of my life spent rather homebound, the opportunity to go on trips with KJ still astounds me.  

We flew into Paris from Manchester with plans to meet up with our team that night.  One of the best parts of this trip was reconnecting with people we grew to know and love last year, and through God's kind providence we were able to spend some time with our friend Cedric at Charles de Gaulle.  We knew we weren't going to be able to see him in Paris that week because he had a summer job, but it so happened he was flying out to the Ukraine a few hours after we landed.  It was so great to see him and catch up for a little while.  He also helped us navigate buying our train tickets.

Hanging out with Cedric combined with train routes being a little funky because of strikes made us about a hour late meeting Parker and Cedric's brother, Yann.  I stepped out of the darkness of the Metro into the beautiful dusk of Paris for just a moment before we enjoyed a quick fine dining experience at McDonald's, KJ and Parker headed to Polyglot, and Yann escorted me to the church where I was able to see our team before turning in for the night.  It had been a long day for us all, but we were excited about the week ahead.

P.S.  Nothing makes me wish I packed lighter like carrying a 50 pound suitcase up and down stairs in the Metro.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Right in Our Own Backyard: The Alabama Natural History Museum

One of the exciting things about our move to England is all of the exploring to be done in a new place.  When everything is new it feels natural to explore.  Our first few years of living in Tuscaloosa were marked by having a baby who needed and wanted to sleep a lot, but now that we're slooowwly growing out of needing a nap we're able to do more exploring in the place we live now, and it has been fun.

I knew as soon as I saw a picture of this room online that it would be fun to take the kids to the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

Ella and I have been studying dinosaurs for Science so it seemed an especially good time to check this place out and invite the cousins along for the experience.  The museum's rates were unbelievably inexpensive:  $2 for adults and $1 for kids.  With Katie being an alumnus and two children under the age of five,the six of us only had to pay $4.  

All of those teeth!

I don't know about you, but we called these arrowheads.
Did anyone else love studying Alabama history like I did in 4th grade?  I loved that class.  My parents probably wanted to die through it, though, because of the extraordinary number of dioramas we were required to make.  I'm sure they still shudder at the word.

When you study Alabama history, you'll always learn about the only recorded instance of a meteorite falling from the heavens and directly hitting a human being.  It happened right outside the little town where my father and husband grew up, so Katie and I were really excited to find out this much-famed piece of Alabama history had been donated to the museum!

Poor Mrs. Hodges was napping on her sofa when this rock came crashing through her roof hitting her radio and then her thigh.  Yikes. 

Ella orchestrated this shot; I don't think John David was very into it. :)  

I'm not sure you were supposed to sit inside this dinosaur track, but I turned my back, and James was in it.

The amount of crazy sea creatures and whales found in Alabama was really eye-opening to me, like maybe there was a world-wide flood or something.  It was so fun to see.  I think our other favorite thing was this big mammoth skull found in Wisconsin.  No, James, you may not climb on the tusks.

We really like Phineas and Ferb around here, so it was a little disconcerting to see the bones of this platypus...PERRY THE PLATYPUS?!?

We had lots of fun, and if you ask James what his favorite part was he'll say, "The goggles," by which he means the binoculars set up at a window where you could do some bird watching.  

A frozen treat on a hot day was the perfect end to our Saturday outing.  Here's to exploring and enjoying the place where you live.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cleaning Out My Closet

I learned a new word several months ago:  ephemera.  I think I read it in connection with scrapbooking.  Ephemera is defined as things that are only useful for a short time, mainly paper items that were only meant for one use but then become collectibles.  Think ticket stubs, wedding programs, and that fortune you saved out of your cookie at the Chinese restaurant.

I spent some time going through my boxes of ephemera in my closet last week.  There were wedding programs, birthday cards, letters from my little brothers, and lots of cards from my mom from my college days.  

There were letters of encouragement from sweet sisters in Christ, and an e-mail I printed out from KJ the summer he was in China with a list of 70 things that we could do together when he came home.  Apparently when you're young and in love, "getting lost" is something you plan to do.

I threw away some things but kept a lot.  There will probably be more things I need to throw away, but I like ephemera.  Sure, it's been 6 years since I last took it out to look at it, but it reminded me of all the many seasons of my life that are in the past, people and places and ways of life that are gone now.  For instance, I found a stack of papers, engagement stories from couples from our church in Kentucky from a Valentine's dinner we had.  That was a precious season for us.
Sweet friend, Breck, in our old Kentucky Home

And those past seasons used to be future ones.  They are reminders to me of God's faithfulness, of how wonderful it is to be a part of His Body, the Church, because there are friends and family wherever you go.

Be still my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
- Katharina A. von Schlegel -

Friday, August 15, 2014

Franco Fridays: The Last Day

First, Ella asked me to share her newest blog post, and I forgot on Wednesday.  She loves it when you leave comments on her blog.

Second, this is the last day of our anniversary trip in France last May!

We began the day with lunch in Reuill-Malmaison. I guess beginning the day with lunch means that we were pretty tired at this point.

I feel like French dining is such an experience.  They relax and go slow at the table, and nothing beats their food presentation.

After lunch we went in to Paris with no big plans for the day.  We did a little last-minute purchasing and walking by the Seine one last time.  It's a pleasant and relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

I told KJ yesterday as I was looking through pictures that when I saw the photo of him in front of the bookseller I thought, "I like Paris KJ's style."  Then I saw the gray New Balances in this picture and realized the style transformation didn't make it all the way down to his feet.  They say you can always tell Americans by their footwear.  They are generally correct.

I can't remember where I read it, but I read some funny thoughts on American travelers recently, about how we look like we're prepared for a day hiking through the jungle instead of a civilized western city.  We wear our hiking gear, carry our backpacks with snacks and bottled water, as if those amenities can't be bought as needed along the way.  It was a startlingly accurate and hilarious depiction.  There are probably many reasons for this, maybe one of which is when Americans come to Europe, they're not usually there to relax in one place, they are on a mission to fit in seeing as much as they possibly can.

We couldn't decide what to do next, but after I bought a made-to-look-old map with the monuments of Paris on it I got an idea.  Oddly enough, we used our vintage tourist map to guide us on our way.

We walked all around the river near Little Lady Liberty.

You can't get away from that tower; it was a constant reminder to me that "Hey!  I'm in Paris!"

I didn't expect to see a boat named Mississippi floating on the Seine.  I think the views on this dinner cruise are just a tad bit different than what you'd find on the Mississippi River.  It made me wonder, "Who comes to Paris to experience a Mississippi-like paddleboat cruise with Southern style cuisine?"

After Lady Liberty we met Cedric at La Defense and did a little more work for our timelapse video, followed by dinner and Bible study with the young adults of EIC.  And then it was farewell to Paris for 2013.

It's a pretty amazing thing to look back over the past year and realize that our partnerships and connections with believers and churches in Paris was only just beginning. It's exciting to get small glimpses of what God is doing in different parts of the world.  We have so enjoyed getting to know the people of Emmanuel International Church and hearing their stories.