Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day at Cabela's

Yesterday, we had a little outing with my mom and the kids at the new Cabela's in my parent's town. Very cool store! I'm not really into the world of hunting and outdoor sports, but this place is amazing.

We had to take some pictures. Joshua was thrilled with this lion behind us. It was posed attacking the nearby water buffalo.

The store also has a fishing department, with large fish covering the walls. The kids like the tunas and the swordfish. We also had to check out all the boats and fishing polls. I was interested to see all the Disney princess fishing and camping equipment.

There was an entire safari section that included this huge elephant and a rhino, along with the lion and several antelope-like animals.

The hunting section had an impressive display of birds, geese and ducks.  They also had beautiful display animals for ponds and yards (and probably for target practice).

The center of the store is a two-story mountain covered with animals. It also has two waterfalls and a pond. Under the mountain is a tunnel you can pass through. In the tunnel are three aquariums with interesting fish from Washington state.

The back of the mountain has the cold weather animals, including this sea lion, a musk ox and a polar bear. They also have a desert region with coyotes, prairie dogs and more.

The front of the mountain had waterfalls and this beautiful pond. The kids loved watching the big fish that filled this pond. This region included the elk and mountain goats and more.

I'm sure I took too many pictures, but we were not the only ones with our camera out. Check out additional pictures of the fish, prairie dogs, polar bear, tents, and more on my Facebook album.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our attempt at Gingerbread Houses

We had such a fun time last year making Gingerbread Houses that I decided to try it with my sister, Rebecca, and her little boys. Let me start by saying... Jenna made it look way too easy last year.

Let me share a few tips of what NOT to do:
  1. Find a good recipe. Try this Ginger Snap recipe that worked great last year. I tried a new one this year because I didn't have a kitchen scale to use. In hind sight, it would have been worth the investment.
  2. Don't pull the dough out of the refrigerator too early. I let it sit on the counter too long, and it was too soft.
  3. Don't roll the dough too thin. Our pieces warped as I transferred them to the pan, and they were too thin to support the weight of the decorating.

Here are a few tips of things that can help the process:
  1. Make sure you have everything ready before you call the kids to come decorate.
  2. Give a few pointers to the kids before starting, such as "be gentle" and "don't poke holes in your roof with a candy cane."
  3. Release control. Don't let your preset ideas or need for order to limit the creativity of your little ones.

We had a great time decorating our houses, in spite of a few mishaps. One of the roofs collapsed and needed a quick repair job and I only made enough dough for three houses between four kids.

Joshua and Abigail shared a house, each decorating one side. It was fun to see their different styles on the same little house.

And here is the finished house! The little snowman peeps were the perfect touch to our festive gingerbread house!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Read the Bible in 90 Days

This summer I read through the entire Bible in 83 days! I had joined the 90 Day Challenge hosted by Mom's Toolbox. This was quite a commitment, but well worth every minute. You should seriously and prayerfully consider joining this incredible challenge starting again January 3, 2011.

I have had several people ask me what I thought about this challenge and style of reading. I want to share some things I have been thinking about, including reasons why I strongly recommend this crash course to everyone, at least once in your life:

  1. Reading the Bible cover to cover gave me an incredible perspective on salvation history and flow of God's action through Israel. I could see so clearly the chaos and rebellion of Israel, and God's incredible patience and His unspeakable holiness. This view of the old testament strongly affected how I read about the revelation of Jesus as the fulfillment, the discipline of the church and the final wrath of God in Revelation.

  2. The rapid pace of this reading schedule kept the recently-finished books of the Bible so fresh in my mind that I began to see patterns and repetition I had never noticed before, adding to my understanding of scripture and of God -- beautiful patterns of forgiveness and redemption, and horrifying patterns of man's sin and rebellion.

  3. Reading through the entirety of scripture (whether in 90 days or over the course of a year) gives a better perspective for understanding the context of smaller portions you may read or study. I have noticed this especially in my recent study of 1 Peter. As I read this book more carefully for a Bible study group, I recognized references to the law that helped me understand the author, his purpose in writing the letter, and its recipients; deepening my understanding and appreciation for this book.

  4. Reading in only 90 days requires a serious commitment and significant sacrifice. In addition to the benefits listed above, the discipline, sacrifice and faithfulness required to complete this goal taught me a lot about myself. I quickly saw the many things I spend my time on that I really don't need to do. It put a spotlight on areas where my priorities are not what I want them to be, or what they should be. But this also taught me that God desires sacrifice and faithfulness in our lives as we seek to know him better.

I understand that this challenge is not everyone. But I encourage you to playfully consider committing to this, or some another program that will challenge you spend daily time reading Scripture. This "Bible in 90 Days" / "Blogging through the Bible in 90 days" challenge also has a great online community for support and accountability. But I recommend you find a friend who will read with you and help keep you faithful.

This short, three months commitment will take a lot of your spare time and then some, but it can be a life-changing experience. I am still seeing the ways God used this challenge to change my heart and mind -- to reveal things in me he wants to change, but in the big picture, to know and love HIM more.

On Monday, November 29, Mom's Toolbox will be posting a link to the official sign up for the next session of Bible in 90 Days/Blogging Through the Bible in 90 Days.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Snow Days!

Aberdeen received the first big snowfall early this year. By Thanksgiving Day, we had already received six inches of snow, and it continues to fall as frequently as we would normally receive rain showers.

The kids have been thrilled. They are convinced that it must be Christmas, if we have so much beautiful snow.

Abigail loves this cute little snow suit we were given. I have been stopped on the street multiple times with people asking where I found it. Sorry everyone, its Old Navy, from the States.

Abigail loves the idea of snowballs. The last several walks we have take, she starts by carrying a little snow ball and stops every half minute to grab another hand full to add to her snowball. Then she displays her snowball by the front door for Daddy to see when he arrives home!

Joshua has still had school each day, though they normally let the kids out early so teachers can be on the road before the sun sets at 3:30pm.

On our walks home from dropping off Joshua, Abigail is normally ready for me to carry her. We tried the stroller once, but that was too hard on my back.

We spent some time playing in the garden with some friends. We shoveled, made snow balls and tried to knock the snow off the roof (without much success, I might add), and just had a great time.

Check out the rest of my pictures at Snow - November 2010.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Elcho Castle ... sort of ...

Last weekend we drove down to Perth to see Elcho castle. We have wanted to stop here several times on the way through, but have always been short on time. Well, I forgot to check the open times ... and they were closed for the winter.

But it looks like a lovely place to visit. It is off the beaten path, however. It is close to the motorway, but it is quite a windy drive down to the river from the exit.

We drove through farms on a little one-lane road. We had to pull way over into the bushes to pass a car (not to mention the big tractor / backhoe that was digging ditches). And you have to go directly between some large barns before you reach the castle road.

But the fall colors were beautiful. We got out and stretched our legs...

I was sorely tempted to use this little gate and tour the grounds around the castle, but eventually decided that was probably not a good idea. Abigail looks to have had the same idea!

We did get a family picture from the car park! 
There are a few more pictures in the Elcho album on Facebook.

Monday, November 22, 2010

AWF Thanksgiving Dinner

Since moving to Aberdeen last year, we have been so blessed by the Aberdeen Women's Fellowship. The ladies of this group welcomed us and have helped us settle into our new home in Scotland. This last year I joined the leadership team and have enjoyed helping in the planning and execution as we welcomed new families this fall.

This weekend we celebrated our AWF American-style Thanksgiving dinner, as many of the families here in Aberdeen are expats from the US and Canada. What a great time!

Here are a few pictures from out time together. The rest of the photos on are Facebook.

Rachel was the mastermind behind out celebration event. I love planning events with her. She is so low stress and has such wonderful ideas! Lovely!

For the last several events, Rachel has drawn a fun mural for the kids to color, including all their favorite cartoon characters. The kids always look forward to these wonderful pictures.

 We had a bunch of little tables and chairs for the kids. They loved sitting in their own little eating area. I was amazed and surprised at how much food Joshua and Abigail ate.

Joshua enjoyed the paper tablecloths and drew wonderful pictures after dinner. We also used all our Halloween pumpkins as decorations. The kids loved pointing out their pumpkin to everyone.

Amazing food, wonderful fellowship, lots of fun! Happy Thanksgiving!

Check out more pictures on Facebook at AWF Thanksgiving 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

What a busy week! Darren was gone for several days at a conference. Then I headed to Glasgow with some of the gals for a day out at the Country Christmas Faire. And to finish up the week, we had our AWF Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday with great food, fun and fellowship.

Now we have just 8 days until we leave for the States! And so much to do. This week's menu is based on using up everything we can from the fridge and freezer.

Here is the menu for this week!

  • Monday -- Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Tuesday -- Sweet 'n Sour Chicken - (scroll down to 'Chinese' for the recipe)
  • Wednesday -- Broiled Cod Parmesan
  • Thursday -- leftovers
  • Friday --Tacos
  • Saturday -- Chicken Tikka
  • Sunday -- Thanksgiving dinner - I'm making mashed potatoes and dressing (and maybe sweet potatoes and green beans)
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Darren is out of town at a conference for several days this week, so our menu is going to be very kid focused on those days.

Here is the menu for this week!
  • Monday -- Chicken Pitas
  • Tuesday --  Spaghetti and yummy bread
  • Wednesday -- Soup and Wraps
  • Thursday -- Sweet 'n Sour Chicken - (scroll down to 'Chinese' for the recipe)
  • Friday -- Chicken Tikka
  • Saturday -- AWF Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Sunday -- Italian Stew
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Castle Fraser in the Fall

Last weekend we took a spontaneous family trip to Castle Fraser, only about 30 minutes from Aberdeen. It is late enough in the year that the interior is closed for the season, but we enjoyed the autumn colors and the beautiful walled gardens. They also have an adventure play area for the kids, but we didn’t have much time to spend there.

For more pictures of our fun at Fraser, check out the album: Castle Fraser - Oct 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fireworks Night!

Last Friday the UK celebrated Guy Fawkes Night (also called Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) with fireworks and bonfires. This annual celebration held on the evening of 5 November marks the of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, in which a number of conspirators (including Guy Fawkes) tried to blow up Houses of Parliament in London.

Last year we didn't even know that Guy Fawkes Night existed, until we had to research why there were fireworks going off all night. This year we were more prepared. We met some friends for the Banchory celebration complete with a huge bonfire, a effigy of Guy Fawkes and fireworks.

The kids were thrilled with the bonfire. We didn't get close enough to the fire to see the effigy, but it is tradition to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes like the people of London did on the night in 1605 when the plot was foiled.

Both of the kids were looking forward to the fireworks, but they were a little unsure about how loud they would be. We watched some fireworks at a friend's Halloween party the week before and Joshua was quite disturbed by the ground fountains, but find with the flying, explosions.

As it turns out, the best way to enjoy beautiful, but noisy fireworks is with your ears plugged. Both kids put fingers in their ears during the entire display. Too funny! At least they enjoyed themselves. I would often hear a little yell about the color or beauty.

This last picture is for Joshua. He wanted to be sure I included a picture of the fireworks.

There are some more pictures of our bonfire night in the album Guy Fawkes Night 2010.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

The weather has officially turned to fall. We have had some nice sunny days, but it was deceptively cold. The last few days the wind is blowing full force. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like Aberdeen wind!

Here is the menu for this week!

Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Costumes and Candy!

We had great fun during this fall season of candy and costumes (fancy dress, as they call it here). This is the first year the kids were old enough to really be excited about costumes.

Joshua got to dress up for three separate parties during the past week. For school, he dressed like a pirate (as seen above), for Finlay's party (a friend from school) he dressed as a medieval knight, and for Halloween night he dressed as a firefighter (as seen in the Halloween 2010 photo album).

Abigail was not to be left out. When Joshua dressed for school, Abigail put on her new, yellow tutu and wore it all day. She was excited to also be invited to Finlay's party, and she wore her pink and purple faerie princess dress. And for Halloween, she wore the yellow and green Belle costume.

We had fun walking around with our friends to all the expat houses in the area. It was a chilly night, but we were happy it was not raining or windy.

We also had all the little kids come to our house for treats.

Our trick or treating route ended at Rachel's house for a big party and more yummy food. This shot of Abigail with chocolate frosting on her face, her eyes wide open and her arms waving around captures the fun of their sugar highs from the evening!

I posted more pictures in the Halloween 2010 photo album.

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