Friday, January 30, 2015

Franco-Fridays: A Southern Lunch

One of the things we most enjoyed on our first visit with Emmanuel International Church was eating lunch together outside on a Sunday afternoon.  We looked forward to doing that again, but I got slightly nervous when Parker had the idea that our team should cook a southern meal for the young adults who stayed to eat after the service.  Thankfully, our advanced planning paid off, and it went swimmingly.  It was a perfect day, and these pictures make me look forward to summer in a big way.

KJ took a nice aerial photograph from the third floor, I'm guessing.

We served Poppyseed Chicken, green beans, salad, and bread, followed up with Banana Pudding.

It seems impossible to find Cool Whip outside of the United States, so we stuck with the whipped cream from a can.  I think everyone enjoyed their southern-style meal, complete with Parker's sweet tea.
It's such a unique and lovely experience to sit at the table with people from so many different nations and backgrounds, but because it's an English-speaking church, being able to communicate with them all.  It's a bit of a taste of the wedding supper of the Lamb, not that we'll all be speaking English, but the rest of it, of course.

We greatly look forward to your return, Summer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The State of the Union...of the KJ Pughs

I never intended for the recording of our daily lives to slow down so much when we moved, but I guess it's not surprising that it did.  There are so many things you're trying to take care of in moving to another country, especially when you're like us and came with only eight suitcases.  And then there's the settling-in to new routines and processing all of the changes that are occurring in your lives.  All of these things together have made for sporadic time for sitting at the computer.  It's become much easier to use Instagram for quick pictures and glimpses into our lives.  Despite less time at the computer processing pictures, I do still grab my camera from time to time when I head outside, and I spent some time last night uploading 300 photos.  Don't worry; I won't share them all at once.

Two weeks ago we woke to a little dusting of snow, not enough to play in but enough to make the sidewalks (pavements here in England) icy and slick and for me to want to go for a walk with my camera.  Every time I go for a walk out our front door I try to walk in a different direction or explore a different path.  This usually results in me getting muddier than I intend.
part of the back garden at Capstick Cottage

We'll have a newsletter with specific prayer requests going out in the next three days, but it seems appropriate to give a few little updates here.  Sunday will mark 3 months in Boroughbridge, and I think by God's kindness through answering your prayers we are all really adjusting remarkably well. 

The kids are doing amazing. They have made lots of friends with kids at church, and this is their third week going to school 2 1/2 days of the week, which has really been so wonderful thus far.  It gives a good routine and rhythm to their week and mine.  They love going to "real school," and it still gives me time to teach them and connect with them on the days they are home and for us to make some impromptu memories as a family as we did last Wednesday in the snow.  Also, James learned how to count by 2's at school.  He loves his teacher and his class; most of all he loves getting stickers for his achievements.  He came home yesterday wearing a sticker that says, "Smashing."

Ella also really enjoys wearing a school uniform and being in the classroom environment.  She's also  loved taking ballet lessons.  I'm really thankful for these new routines that have started to make this feel like home for her.

We've hit a pretty settled place in buying things we need to set up house here.  I really need to take some pictures and show you around Capstick Cottage.  I'm not sure how long we'll be in this house, but we are really enjoying it.  It's been a great place for church meetings and playing with friends, and lately I've been so thankful for little things like having a driveway to park our car.  Most parking on our street is on the road, and I'm really glad I don't have to parallel park every day.  It's also nice to walk out the door and be at the center of town in 45 seconds.

Speaking of driving, being on the opposite side of the car is finally feeling more normal.  I was actually watching an American commercial the other day and seeing the steering wheel on the left threw me off and looked weird.  I think KJ and I are experiencing the strangeness of living between two worlds at the moment, where we're starting to understand a little more about the way people think here.  It is a strange feeling to step out of your home culture and view it from a distance. 

While enjoying English life, there have been a few moments where I have laughed and wondered if it meant I was subconsciously missing America when I would spontaneously burst into singing The Star Spangled Banner along with several other patriotic songs.  Even now the words to You're a Grand Old Flag just started bouncing around in my head.  Have you ever thought about how many patriotic songs we have?  Stepping out of your home culture makes you more aware of the distinctiveness of it, the things that are just the way things are and you never think about why.

As somewhat of an afterthought, I've heard several English people say Americans have the best National Anthem, though I would say I quite like God Save the Queen, too.

So, I would say, we're all doing really well.  Our church family has been so good at loving us, praying for us, and helping us to begin to understand cultural differences.  We are really thankful for them.  We are really thankful for our family and church family in Alabama, for the continued love we feel from you with your gifts, prayers, and encouraging messages.  In the midst of developing new routines here, I still feel like I've yet to figure out the best way to communicate regularly with people back home.  The time difference, while not vast, does make it difficult.  So, we are definitely still trying to figure out a lot of things.

Maybe I should close out with some things we're enjoying:

  • The kids LOVE scooter-ing around town.
  • being outside more -- I was looking forward to this most, walking more than we drive, living a life a bit more connected with the outdoors, though the downside is mud.
  • being surrounded by historical places and very old things
  • the English wit - We laugh a lot.
  • seeing God's continued faithfulness to us
  • the beauty all around

The things we're missing:

  • our families
  • TARGET (Obviously, I miss Target.)
  • knowing what we're doing all the time (Not that we really ever knew what we were doing all the time, but when you're in a new place and don't know any of the rules, everything takes longer and is a bit exhausting.)
  • So yeah, knowing the rules and knowing where things are is a big thing, but all of these things come with time.

On another note, this time of year it always feels like the sun is low in the sky, so it makes the light lovely.

After a little walk off the beaten path (though not really because there are all kinds of walks on beaten paths here), I walked back into town.  The bulbs at the flower shop on the corner remind me that Spring, she is a-coming.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuscaloosa Tuesdays: Karis Turns 2

When a woman who is used to spending the bulk of her daily moments caring for children suddenly has the house to herself it can make her feel somewhat at a loss.  I have no idea why I wrote that sentence in the third person, but I definitely had to make myself stop and think:  What are all the things that niggle around in the back of your mind when you're caring for kids that you'd like to do? 

The kids are on their second full day of school today, and I have been left to my own devices.  And I remembered that one installment of Tuscaloosa Tuesdays and thought I should try that again because I never posted pictures from my niece's second birthday party.  It was one of the first days that felt like autumn was coming, which is always such a welcome surprise after an Alabama summer.

We started out with a prayer of thanks for the birthday girl. 

Karis has been a blessing to us all.  She is sweet, a great hugger, and we are all continuously amazed at her ability to speak in more complete sentences than most 4 or 5-year-olds.  She is especially fond of Uncle KJ and James.  They are very fond of her.

Katie made everything lovely, and it was a sweet time together.  We especially enjoyed watching Karis's birthday video.

Ella made Karis a Hello Kitty card.  I happen to think Ella-made cards are some of the best around.  Looking at pictures of Ella on this day make me want to freeze time.  Maybe it's something about realizing this was the last few weeks before a big life-changing move for her.  There really is something special about marking moments, marking who we are in each season of our life.  The next season is bringing new and exciting changes, and it's comforting to know God is using each season to make us more like His Son.

Later that afternoon a little outdoor time was required, and Uncle David showed us one of the best playgrounds we ever visited in Tuscaloosa.  These shots leave me marveling at Alabama sunshine and my kids in canvas shoes because there was absolutely no chance they'd be covered in mud after their playtime.  New seasons also bring new wardrobes.

Now Claire is wearing her boots here, but I feel like it's more of a fashion statement than out of necessity, kind of like most of the times I wore a scarf back home...though because I still follow James Spann on Facebook, I hear Alabama has had some extremely cold weather recently.
Cousins.  We're so thankful for you!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Boxing Day

Was it only two weeks ago that it was Christmas?  How quickly it all goes by... I wanted to share a few pictures of our Boxing Day, the first Boxing Day that we ever really recognized as a special kind of day other than being just "the day after Christmas."

Several people told us we should go out to watch the traditional hunt (that presumably isn't really allowed to hunt anymore) take off from the square.  As you can see, it's quite the affair!

It was fun to see children taking part as well.  I made the mistake of musing aloud that horse-riding lessons would be fun, which set James off on wanting to do that RIGHT NOW.  

We chatted with friends while we waited for the master of the hunt to call everyone to order. 

I wish my video of them leaving was better.  I'm not sure where the hounds were hiding before they left, but when the horn sounded, there was also a great yelping as they took off down the street with the clattering of hooves behind them.  We decided to walk along in the direction of Aldborough where they were riding across the fields.  I'm glad we did because I loved the few pictures I was able to snap of red coats in the mist.

A group of riders also came down the street where we were walking.  Trailing behind at the end was a little girl on a pony with her dad in running clothes jogging along beside her.

Aldborough is an old Roman town, established in the first century.  You can see a Roman column behind these riders.

It wasn't the loveliest of days but there's something nice even about winter skies.  It was good to be out together as a family; each time we go out we make new memories and new connections to this place, and that is a good thing.

The kids are becoming better walkers, though there are usually moments of what seems to be obligatory complaining.  We make sure to stop at interesting points along the way.

They got excited when we were back in the familiar streets of Boroughbridge.  As James has said a couple of times this week, "I think I know all around this city."