Friday, December 14, 2012

Journal: England Trip 2012 - Part VI

I know...I know...I lost track of time and haven't continued my UK-saga for awhile. But here we go.

Our final day in Keswick was spent on memory lane.

My day started at 7:30 when I went downstairs to find my father sneaking out of the house for a quick hike up Cat Bells. The morning had dawned beautifully--gray clouds had given way to blue sky. Although, typically, rain snuck up on us later. I found one of those moments of peace that stick with you...the fireplace burned bright, out the window I could see green ivy creeping up a wall, entwining between moss covered stone. I was given a few moments of solitude and reflection. Sad because of leaving the Lake District but excited to move on and see other places I love, people I have missed, and other adventures that await us.

Later in the day, after all were back and/or awake, we went to Crosthwaite church. Originally built in 1881 (so nearly 900 year old building), this was the church my grandparents attended for the years they lived in the Lake District. Resting place of poet Robert Southey, Crosthwaite is one of those typical old Church of England buildings seeped in history. I have many memories of services here with the traditional Church of England hymn books, organs, vicar, hard wooden pews, and chilly mornings. I can still see my grandmother kneeling down for prayer on an embroidered cushion of ancient day. One of those random, flitting memories of childhood that stick with you always.

After that we walked to where their cottage used to be. We were surprised to find the cottage looking very different, but we were hard put to figure out what was the change. Well, we ran across an old gentlemen in a motorized chair who stopped to find out what the strangers were doing wandering around the neighborhood. We started to talk to him, and turns out he knew my grandparents. Apparently the house itself was raised several feet to save it from being flooded out again as it had experienced several times in the past--thus the similar but different look we beheld. I think the saddest thing for me is not seeing my grandfather's roses all over the garden.

 Lane running along the side of the house. Very overgrown now compared to what I remember.

 Creek that runs by the lane. My brother and I used to build dams here. 
Apparently they worked as it is not running well any more!

The house itself. Similar and yet very different to memory.

Later in the day, after nap-time for toddlers and pregnant mommies, we drove a little ways and then walked up to Ashness Bridge (a very famous bridge in the Lake District--frequent hero of paintings and photographs). Christopher, of course, couldn't avoid a bit of adventure, and managed to attract a bee. Said bee whacked into the side of his head and was so upset by its own clumsiness, it stung Chris! So sadly he had a throbbing head for much of the walk.

 Derwentwater from Ashness Bridge
 My mum

 The clouds began rolling in as we looked over the lake.

 "Nana and Papa love me."

 Me and Baby Q

 Washing's cold!

 The fell Chris and my dad climbed up on seen from Ashness Bridge.

 Giving Nana a heart attack.

We then got back in the car and drove up one those typical English roads that are barely big enough for one car, never mind two. Gorgeous views but the everlasting question of where in the world does such a windy, tiny road take one? Well, this particular road goes to Watendlath. A wild, lonely area of the Lakes.

At Watendlath farm is a beautiful and very deep tarn along with the house supposedly lived in by Judith Paris in Sir Hugh Walpole's book series--The Herries Chronicle. Fantastic books, if you've never read them, which a lot of people haven't. Covers the story of a family (with a crazy story!) from about the eighteenth century to early twentieth. Also happens to be a farm where my mother and her family stayed when she was a little girl (trust my grandfather to book a vacation in a literary spot!).

All in all, a delightful, final day in the Lakes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes (vol. 27)

#1 - No more sick kids! No more! We have had nonstop sickness around here for weeks. When we've got a child sick, both of us have to be here for number reasons, so it makes it really difficult to get anything done. We just came back on duty yesterday, had one day of no sick children (although Blueberry has been coughing), and then we wound up with another sicko this morning--strep no less. Sigh. Enough is enough! Oh, and since we were going to the doctor any ways, we took Blueberry in and she has another ear infection. Need to look into ear infections some more and see if I can find some more natural preventative stuff for them. The really bad thing about her ear infections is that she shows no symptoms. Never complains of ear pain. Has no fevers. Just gets a nasty cough which eventually proves to be triggered by the ear infection itself. Hard to treat when you don't realize its happening.
#2 - In addition to the sickness, its been a dramatic few weeks here at the cottage. Between sicknesses, we had multiple court dates for a number of our ladies. One found out she will be staying here with us for a very long time, another two found out they are still stuck in limbo. That's so hard on a child not knowing if this is going to be home for a long time or if they are going back to whatever they came from before. And for some there is the tear of "I love my parent...but I know deep inside that this is safer for me." How do you balance those conflicts?

#3 - So isn't the "why" phase supposed to start at age 3 or 4? Either way, we're in full-blown "why" gear around here. It actually started with Butterfly but little Miss Blueberry picked it up right away. "Why" has become very old, very fast. Although, I admit, I did have to laugh when I decided to reverse it on her the other day and asked her, "why", and she calmly looked at me and said in the most matter of fact voice possible, "Because."


#4 - Blueberry has also begun saying, "Yes, ma'am" to things. As we do live in the south, it is a campus requirement to teach the kids to say, "Yes, ma'am" "No, sir," etc. Otherwise they are seen as disrespectful at school and other places. So she has heard it for the last year and apparently has decided it is high time to put it into practice herself. The most startling moment when I noticed it was when she was telling Doggie off about something (he's been a most disobedient stuffed dog lately) and she looks at him and says, "No, Ma'am!" very sternly.


#5 - Christmas presents and shopping are going pretty well. Not quite done yet, but we're on our way. Just a few more things to tie up and I can't write that off my list. For our cottage girls, we finally decided to do a mini picture book for each of them of the last year. Having a love of my camera, I tend to take lots of pictures, so putting all of them together into scrapbooks for each of the girls has been fun. Course it takes quite a bit of time, but I think the end result is worth it. And with all the good deals out there on photo-books, it ends up being relatively affordable (which is important when you're looking at 7 kids). Sure the girls get presents from sponsors and other people, but we like to give them something directly from us. Its just hard knowing what to get that isn't just another generic gift.


#6 - OK, I just had a laugh at a very apropos sight. I'm sitting at the computer eating my lunch, typing this, and I glance to my side and see my nativity set sitting up on the bookshelf. Its a very pretty set, complete with the typical wise men, angels, Mary, Joseph, the Lord Jesus, and, in our case, a cough drop. GAH! The sickness is creeping in everywhere! Make it stop!


#7 - Its my big brother's 35th birthday today. Somehow I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around this--he's 35? Seriously? I remember when 35 sounded so old, and while it feels young now, my ingrained perspective of many years is that 35 is ancient and decrepit!

Any ways, happy birthday big bro. I love you. You are amazing and talented in so many ways. I'm honored to have a big brother that I can look up to and admire so strongly after all these years. Take a break at some point today.

 "Unca Jon" and Blueberry

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...