Thursday, August 31, 2017


It's the end of another month, and I always like to look back at all the daily happenings, small and big alike, before moving on to a new month and a new season.  The month of August means summer holidays in England, and this year that included a more than expected share of sunny days, afternoon outings and evening walks, and vacation in Scotland. 

I always feel so grateful for having such a good little camera phone in my pocket, because like it or not memories do fade, and the picture helps me remember the moments I would otherwise forget.  Some of my most vivid memories in childhood are the ones recorded in the family photo album.  I loved looking through those hefty volumes with the pictures safe behind their sticky plastic covering!  I'm glad my dad took lots of pictures.  

As we were filming a bit with our phones in Scotland last week K.J. recalled his mom with her giant camcorder on her shoulder, "recording our lives before it was cool."  I'm glad we get to be another generation of memory-keepers for our family.

August 1 - Shoe-shopping in the city requires a Starbucks stop, of course.

August 2 - I made some impromptu s'mores in the oven for the kids in our Wednesday night church gathering clamoring for dessert (or pudding as they say here).

August 3 - We were invited to an outdoor pizza-making party in the loveliest of back gardens.

August 4 - Solving puzzles for the summer reading challenge at the library

August 5 - a pineapple jalapeno salsa that was SO good

August 7 - Monday mornings in the holidays mean time for pancakes.

August 8 - Two Little Writers

August 9 - Super-Fun Charity Shop Find (1 Pound!)

August 10 - Little Family in a Big World, an after-dinner walk

August 11 - Family Bike Ride in the Rain 

August 12 - Game Night

August 13 - Hide-and-Seek amongst the Ruins with Friends

August 14 - James has been bringing me wildflowers all summer from walks he goes on with K.J.  This is a snapdragon.

August 15 - Autumn is coming.

August 16 - The days really have been overwhelmingly sunny this month!

August 17 - We found Ella some new socks.

August 19 - Speaking of memory-keeping, the kids love watching their annual birthday videos from years past, especially after making an international move.

August 20 - Morning Light

August 21 - Packing her doll's backpack for vacation

August 22 - Traveling North

August 23 - The prettiest apples growing beside our holiday cottage

August 24 - The most quiet and beautiful sunshiny wood

August 25 - We're all missing this view.

August 26 - I rubbed Skin So Soft all over my face to repel the midges and cycled down a quiet road on the Isle of Skye.  

August 27 - I was feeling all the romance of the Bonnie Prince Charlie story and Scottish patriotism.

August 28 - This is what it looks like when James asks K.J. if they can go on a walk.

August 30 - Raindrops

August 31 - I don't have a picture of it, but today you can imagine me in front of my computer, resting my foot and putting together a birthday video for my daughter's 11th birthday.  Here's last years:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Road Trip

On Tuesday we drove north to the Scottish Highlands.  We've never been this far north into Scotland before, and I don't know why, but I was surprised by how beautiful the drive was. We had a couple of bathroom breaks along the way.  Because this is the island of amazing beauty those bathroom breaks included a castle and the banks of Loch Lomond.  Truly we are getting spoiled by such scenery in the background that makes life's mundane moments seem like adventures.

We're enjoying slow mornings with an overall good amount of sunshine, which you can never count on but is always welcome.  The only bummer is the acting up of my plantar fasciitis after walking up a hillside in my wellies instead of my good-support tennishoes.  I'm trying to be thankful for all the good and just accept the enforced slowing down of my body, for indeed, "The Lord's lovingkindnesses never cease."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top 3 Girl Detectives from My Childhood

Summer feels made for reading, doesn't it?  It's what I spent most of my time doing when I was a kid and the days stretched long and hot before me.  There was no Netflix where I could watch anything I wanted on demand.  (I can still remember some of the line-up on WTTO Channel 21 that included The Beverley Hillbillies and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. )  There were no iPads for playing games; my parents had to drive me to the city library where I would go to the circulation desk and ask for the floppy disk box containing Oregon Trail.  That was always so exciting, even though most of the time I never made it to Oregon, having lost all of my possessions crossing a river along the way.  

Is it possible to carry that much food in a wagon?

The kids and I walked to the library yesterday, and I walked away with a small stack of books to read over the next three weeks.  Ella borrowed a book she's already read and enjoyed once before, and it made me think of the young girls and ladies that I read about over and over growing up. These were my favorites, again and again.

I only ever owned three of these books, but I re-read them on a consistent basis.  Maybe I'll go on an e-bay quest to find more.  Trixie was the more relatable of the amateur female detectives I read.  She was certainly the youngest at 13, which still seems so grown-up when you're 9 or 10.  I learned so many useful things from these books, like how to use a tourniquet if you got bit by a copperhead and that there was a lot more to New York state than the city of the same name.

Of course I read this lady.  What a time capsule for what 18 can look like!  At 18 years-old Nancy could be trusted to stay on a budget with the money her father gave her for clothing, pay attention to the sermon at church, and she held the unwavering respect of Chief McGinnis of the River Heights police force.  She handled being chloroformed and tied up by ne'er do well criminals with aplomb.  Nothing that came her way could take away her desire for the next mystery to solve.  She was always doing exciting things like taking the overnight train to New York, a steamer boat to South America, or driving down to New Orleans in her infamous blue convertible.  She's still my hero.

There was a shelf full of these at my local library growing up, and I didn't re-read them as often as Trixie and Nancy, but Cherry was a good heroine just the same, pursuing her career sometimes as an army nurse and in other books as a house visitor.  And of course, there was always a healthy dose of detection on the side.

Who were your favorite girl detectives?  Is there someone amazing I missed?

"Ned said 'Nancy Drew is the best girl detective in the whole world!'
'Don't you believe him,' Nancy said quickly. 
'I have solved some mysteries, 
I'll admit, and I enjoy it, 
but I'm sure there are many other girls who could do the same.'"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Happy summer holidays to us!  Having a few weeks without our "regularly scheduled programming" is surely what the doctor--or more rightly--a kind providence ordered.

Summer is coming downstairs to your kids snuggled up watching Ninjago together.
Let's take a moment to celebrate having big kids that don't wake you up at the crack
of dawn needing your immediate attention and care.  Is this the pinnacle of parenting?

We began our summer holidays with a week in Keswick for the Keswick Convention with several members of our church family.  We had a really good time and enjoyed an especially sunny and warm day on Monday when we drove to Grasmere to visit the cottage where William Wordsworth lived.

What a happy fortune to live here indeed!

We joined a guided tour of Dove Cottage where we learned a lot about the poet and his life.  I'm just so thankful I am not living in such small, dark and damp rooms as the ground floor of this cottage had!

The main downstairs room they spent a lot of time in had this lovely window at least!  The windows in the dark kitchen were so small, and we were told they had been increased in size by a third to let in more light.  

This was a his and hers washstand Wordsworth and his wife, Mary Hutchinson, were given as a wedding gift.  The other side would come up as well, the precursor to the double bathroom sink!

This was a pleasant and beautiful room on the first floor (or second floor if you're an American).

This small case is all Wordsworth would carry with him when traveling as far off as France. He inked his name into the top of the case and ran out of room for the H.  It's good to know even great poets do stuff like that.

The garden was lovely and more on the natural and wild side than gardened with a heavy hand.  The Wordsworths would have had a clear view of Grasmere (the lake) when they lived here, but these days the view is somewhat blocked by some houses built in Victorian times.

Stones with various lines written by William and his sister Dorothy lined the upward path to a poet's nook where Ella sat and wrote a little piece of poetry of her own.

I noticed so many beautiful ferns growing in The Lake District.  Perhaps they thrive with all the water?


K.J. took the kids off to put the inflatable kayak in the lake where they had a small misadventure when they discovered a leak.  Meanwhile, I was sent to discover some nationally renowned gingerbread recommended to us.  It was indeed, the most amazing of gingerbreads.  I also found the Wordsworth graves.

 Oh, the smell of ginger emanating from this tiny room!

The rest of these pictures were taken out the car window as we drove the winding road back to Keswick.  What a beautiful place.