Saturday, April 30, 2016

Showers of April Photographs

If March was a month of sickness, April was a month full of activity to make up for the weeks spent lying in bed in March.  Grace Church put on an Easter Holiday Bible Club, I made a frenzied effort to paint the spare room, we drove lots of miles for extra ballet practices; there were birthday parties for the kids and late-night outings with friends for the grown-ups, and we started seeing more sunny days mixed with lots of rain and hail showers.  In short, it has been spring!

April 1 - I put a fresh coat of paint on the guest room walls.  I persist in calling it a guest room (I suppose that's the American way), but when I heard someone call it our spare room, I had Anne of Green Gables flashbacks and wondered why I wasn't calling it the spare room all along.

April 2 - We cleaned up James's bedroom in preparation for houseguests, and he was so proud of his newly organized "book area."

April 3 - I bought this milk bottle with some Christmas money when my mom was visiting.  I thought it was so cute.

April 4 - Still sewing...

April 5 - Freshly painted, hopefully soothing SPARE room

April 6 - I ate my first Jammy Dodger at Easter Holiday Bible Club, and as strange as jam and cream on a cookie is to American sensibilities, I found it astonishingly delicious.

April 7 - KJ took my camera on a walk with some church family.  There really aren't words to describe the glory of days like that.

April 8 - Beautiful Blossoms, You know you've taken at least one photo like this in the past month.

April 10 - Ella and I have enjoyed our Sunday night walks to Maypole practice.  There are lots of lovely doors along the way.

April 11 - Morning Jog, catch-your-breath break

April 12 - James was so excited about The Chronicles of Narnia after KJ read him the first two books.  He's embarked on reading them himself a page or two at a time, and it makes me so glad to see him learning to love reading.

April 14 - This little robin shows up in our back garden now and again and always makes me smile.

April 15 - The bright green paint makes me think of Hobbiton.  I had a nice cup of tea here while waiting for Ella to finish ballet one night.

April 16 - An Intense Game of Checkers

April 17 - Morning sun is always a welcome sight...except for the fact that it's waking me up around 5:30 these days.

April 18 - New Growth in the Garden

April 19 - Sunny Garden

April 21 - Southern Comfort Food night at The Grantham Arms - We couldn't miss that!

April 22 - We're starting to see lots of those golden fields as we drive through the country.

April 23 - We just appreciate sunshine so much more now.

April 24 - Little Red Riding Hood being chased by the Wolf

April 25 - Ella's performance flowers are spread throughout the house, and I'm diggin' it.

April 26 - One of about 7 hail showers this week - I had to stop and think about why I would remark on this, and it's because there are some things that don't happen as often in England weather-wise and some things that don't happen as often in Alabama, so we can't help but take notice of the differences. You rarely have thunder and lightning here (and I really miss it!), but we rarely have hail in Alabama.

April 27 - Ella and I made pizza for church Wednesday night, and we didn't hold back on the pepperoni.

April 28 - I did a little speed-walking to the ATM one morning but had to stop to admire the tulips.

April 29 - Ballet Flowers:  Ella's room edition

April 30 - One of the Queen's Royal biscuit form

2016 is really flying.  I can't believe it will be May tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Signs of Spring

In the 17 months since we've moved to England I've been paying closer attention to the first thoughts I have in the morning during my first moments of consciousness.  Sometimes they feel like the clearest thoughts I have all day where things that are true stand out in sharp clarity before getting muddled and forgotten once I get up to face the tasks of the day.

I think the reason I've paid them more attention over the past year is because of all the changes in our lives.  In the first few months of moving my brain felt so weary from thinking and analyzing new social cues, new vocabulary, new places and customs and habits.  All the new things made all of the old things, all of my old memories, stand out really clearly in those early morning moments.  Some mornings I would wake up with a crystal clear image of Ella as a baby or what the heat felt like on my skin during our last week in Alabama.  It felt really hot.

This morning I woke up with the crystal clear realization that I am not getting any younger, that this is my one life and that I will only continue growing older.  I can't get back 18 and going off to college, 21 and getting engaged.  I can't turn back the clock to 24 and my first smiley squirmy baby.  I know this is a very obvious truth, but most of the time I don't really think about these things. My second thought of the morning was:  Man, you really need to eat healthier because this is the only body you've got.  While that may be true for now (and it is), while writing these things down I thought of something Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that thankfully is more true than any clear thought I might have first thing in the morning.  "So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day."  Just like the flowers blooming and the trees budding, there are signs of new life being worked by Jesus in me.  So I will not lose heart.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Pretty Spot

I love the combination of this little bridge and the little stone church on the hill above it.  It sits in Little Ouseburn, a village just below Great Ouseburn, and lately we pass it weekly taking Ella to ballet the long way round, and it's part of what makes the extra drive time enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring at Newby Hall

My Facebook memories tell me that a year ago today we spent one of our first afternoons at Newby Hall, the estate just a few miles from us.  It's that time of year again because we were back for the first time this season last week.  It hasn't been as warm as last April yet, but we still had some sunshine, which makes things pretty perfect in England.

There were a lot of monkey calls coming from this tree.

The kids were excited to meet friends to play on the adventure playground.

I liked Ella's face as she caught KJ in the act of sneakily taking pictures of our picnic.

The big news of the day was that the ice cream stand now offers chocolate and strawberry ice cream, along with the vanilla that has been there in past years.  Both of my kids went for chocolate, obviously.

After ice cream we walked toward the Rock Garden, because that is always our favorite, and we saw lots of blooms along the way.  We also heard and saw lots of bee activity.  Spring has officially arrived, and it is wonderful!

There was some pruning work being done on a hedge, so the kids got to walk inside and see what it was like inside.  It was a little more spacious than you might think.