Friday, April 29, 2011

York: Saint Mary's Abbey

The ruins of St. Mary's Abbey are enclosed by the York Museum Gardens. The original building here was a Norman church built in 1088, but the current ruins are the primarily the restoration work in the late 1200's.

 The Abbey was dismantled by King Henry VIII's reformation of the church in the 1500's. Some of the stain glassed windows and other artifacts survived, however, when they were sold to private collectors and preserved through time.

These beautiful ruins are the prefect location for enjoying a picnic in the park on a sunny day. Which is exactly what we did before visiting the museum!

The kids were right at home among the fallen pillars. They have become quite accustomed to climbing the many ruins we have visited in the last two years.

These arched windows were backed by flowering cherry trees in pink and white. The entire area was bursting with the new life of spring.

We had a wonderful afternoon in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens before heading inside the museum to learn about the Roman's and the history of York. There are so many more wonderful pictures in our online album.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

York Minster Cathedral

The York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in the U.K. and the fourth largest in the world. This cathedral was built in the 1220's incorporating the Norman church that was built on this sight in the 1100's. There are still some portions of the Norman church visible in the current cathedral.

The beautiful spires and height of this church draw your attention upward, preparing you for worship. While we were touring, the boy's choir was practicing for evensong, so we were treated to incredible organ music and singing.

Joshua was enthralled by the stain glass windows. They actually removed the windows during WWII to preserve them during the blitz. Abigail was more interested in the writing on the floor.

The Quire and organ are so beautiful. In the midst of the cold granite, this warm brown and gold space was so inviting. And the heights, again, raise your attention and thoughts to God in awe and worship.

This beautiful, round room, called the Chapter House, is nicely designed for acoustics. They still use this space for meetings of the Dean and Chapter. Along the rounded walls are seats for each member emphasizing equality; by design, no one can claim a central seat.

The kids enjoyed the fact that they could talk to me across the room without needing to yell, although in their excitement they did start yelling. They also enjoyed the beautiful and inventive carvings along the walls (you have to check out the pictures on Facebook to see what I mean).

There is a quiet park behind the cathedral that provides an amazing view at least at this time of year, before the leaves fill the trees. More posts from York coming up soon. Check out more pictures in our album: York - April 2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

York: Clifford's Tower

There are only a few walls remaining of the castle defensive walls, so the kids were disappointed that there was no actual castle to tour. Ciffords tower, however, was the main defense (the keep) for the castle since the late 1200's.

The kids were thrilled with the climb up the big hill to reach the tower. The hillside was covered in fading daffodils ... it must have been glorious a week or two before.

The inside of the tower has so many windows and nooks to seek out. It was a fun location. We also enjoyed the little chapel that was set up with some educational materials.

It was quite a nice climb up the old stone staircase to the top of the tower, but it was well worth the view. We could see the entire city from up there. The York Minster's spires were clearly visible over the tops of the buildings (see in the furthest distance in the picture below).

Joshua was very quick to point out the fire station that was also visible from the top of the tower. You could also see our hotel just beyond the castle walls, but you will have to come back soon to see more pictures.

Everything is Sacred!

I love the song "Sacred" on Caedmon's Call's latest album Overdressed. It speaks of celebrating and enjoying every day life, even with its mundane tasks. Below are the lyrics. I have added some italics to the phrases that really echo my heart.
this house is a good mess
it’s the proof of life
no way would I trade jobs
but it don’t pay overtime

I’ll get to the laundry
I don’t know when
I’m saying a prayer tonight
cause tomorrow it starts again

could it be that everything is sacred?
and all this time
everything I’ve dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

the children are sleeping
but they’re running through my mind
the sun makes them happy
and the music makes them unwind

my cup runneth over
and I worry about the stain
teach me to run to You
like they run to me for every little thing

when I forget to drink from you
I can feel the banks harden
Lord, make me like a stream
to feed the garden

wake up, little sleeper
the Lord, God Almighty
made your Mama keeper
so rise and shine
rise and shine cause

everything is sacred
and all this time
everything I’ve dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

York: Beautiful City Streets

We had a wonderful train ride down to York. Joshua was quite thrilled about the train until about hour four when the novelty wore off and he was ready to be there.

York is a beautiful city with such history to explore. It is built at the junction of two rivers. The Romans founded the city in 71 A.D., though there were residents living in the area long before. The first minster was built in the fifth century and in 306 Constantine was proclaimed emperor in York. Much later the Vikings invaded in 866 A.D. and eventually established a colony here. Not to mention the medieval times and beyond.

We walked the streets and enjoyed the street performers. Abigail is joyfully dancing to the Irish sounding musicians across the street. There was just a feeling of energy and fun everywhere.

The kids also enjoyed the juggler, who was balancing on a big ball for his entire show, over 30 minutes long. The streets were packed with people all day long, but we had the place mostly to ourselves in the evenings on our walks home after dinner. Beautiful!

One of the fascinating old streets in York in called Shambles. The building above is at the entrance to the narrow, old street. The current version was rebuilt around 1400. It feels so magical and a little crazy the way the walls and windows lean at odd angles.

As you walk down the little street, the shops and buildings lean over you and draw you into their past. You also have to wonder how these crooked, leaning buildings have stood for so long. Most of them look as if they should have fallen long ago.

The kids loved looking in all the cute shop windows lining the streets of the old city. There really is an endless supply of amazing window shopping.

Check back tomorrow to read more of our adventures in York.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt

For weeks we have been planning and getting excited about our Easter Egg Hunt. Last year the weather was cold and wet ... it may have even snowed that morning ... so the hunt was held in a little building on campus. This year we were really hoping for better weather.

We awoke to a beautiful morning! And the hunt was held a on the amazing grounds of King's College. The sun burned through the clouds and warmed up the day perfectly.

The kids had a wonderful time hunting for eggs. The hunt was held over the lawns and across the buildings. There was even a coin hunt on the stones by the chapel.

Everything has come into to life all over Aberdeen. Spring is here! I loved this tree in full bloom in the middle of the field.

After hunting for eggs, the kids emptied the contents of their eggs into their baskets, consuming a good amount of candy in the process.

We opened the Resurrection Eggs as a group and enjoyed the story they told of the death and resurrection of Christ.

The dark clouds blew over, without dumping any rain, so we stayed out for a picnic lunch with our friends.

After lunch, there was a spontaneous game of baseball with all the kids. Joshua had the best fun, and it so excited to get his own bat and ball.

It was so sweet to see the boys giving the little kids a turn as well. I was surprised how long the game lasted. The kids would have stayed for another hour or two.

We are so thankful for the wonderful community we have here. There are some more really great pictures at Easter Egg Hunt - April 2011.  Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We had a wonderful Easter weekend. Pictures will be coming soon. And now we are heading into another week. This week

And with routine comes menu planning!
  • Monday -- Chicken Fajitas
  • Tuesday -- Homemade Pizza
  • Wednesday -- Beef Sesame Noodles
  • Thursday -- Garlic Salmon
  • Friday -- Chicken Tikka and Onion Bhajis
  • Saturday -- Pesto Tortelloni with broccoli and mushrooms
  • Sunday -- Jacket Potato Bar
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Huntingtower Castle

I know I promised pictures from York, but I still have over 400 hundred to sort through. In the mean time, here are some pictures from our evening visit of Huntingtower Castle down in Perthshire. We visited this castle back in November (our first castle outing with our new car), but I never got the pictures posted.

This castle was made up of two towers connected several hundred years ago by the family who lived there.

They have an interesting story about the time before the towers were connected... The daughter was enjoying the company of her visiting fiance in his room. A servant told her father and he rushed to the guest room. When the girl heard her father coming up the only staircase, she rushed up to the roof and jumped the 7 foot gap to the other tower and ran to her room. She easily convinced her father that she had been there all evening.

This castle is set up nicely for weddings. They were getting ready for one while we were there, so there were some portions of the castle we could not access. It would be a beautiful location to get married.

One of our favorite features of this castle is the roof access. The view is spectacular and the sides are high enough that you don't have to be afraid of the kids tipping over.

We were there right at sunset. The colors were brilliant, but hard to capture with our camera. Just picture the sky turning pink on the horizon, with the amazing view of Scottish fields of sheep and stone walls.

Another great feature of this castle is the dress-up options (or "fancy dress," as they call it here). We were here at the end of the day, so we only spent a few minutes dressing up, but they have some beautiful costumes from medieval times available to add inspiration to the visit.

What a fun family outing! If you have a membership to Historic Scotland, this is worth a quick visit when you are passing through the Perth area.

Check out more pictures in our album: Huntingtower Castle.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Road Works!

Over the spring break, they were working on the road in front of Joshua's school. When we walked home from school yesterday (the first day back after break), they were just finishing the last patch of work.

The kids were thrilled to stop and watch them paving the road. We watched the dump truck pour the rocks and tar. Then the workers shoveled and raked it into place. The most exciting part watching the big steam roller.

Joshua wanted a picture with the nearby, little roller. It was just a little too sunny to look at the camera.

Also nearby was the big front loader. It still had rocks and tar in the bucket. Very exciting!

Poor kids were disappointed that the construction equipment was all gone when we walked to school today. But, I may have seen some announcements about some other road closures. We might have to go check out the other road they are doing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was mostly spent preparing to travel, traveling and on holiday. Darren had a good time at the conference and did well presenting his paper. We had a wonderful family holiday in York last week. Pictures are coming so check back soon.

This week we are working to get back on schedule. Joshua starts back to school after two weeks on break. Darren gets back to his dissertation after spending a few weeks working on his paper for the York conference. Abigail and I will settle back into our routine.

And with routine comes menu planning!
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daffodils at Seaton Park

One of the best things about spring in Aberdeen is the incredible display of daffodils. They cover the parks, the yards, the sides of the highway, the center of round-abouts and even the wooded areas. Beautiful!

Last week the kids and I headed over to Seaton park to enjoy the sun and we were met with a full display of daffodils. Even the untouched, wooded area across the river was covered. I love the sight of the daffodils bursting with color among the trees that don't quite have their leaves yet.

We walked down by the River Don and enjoyed garden path and other spring flowers. The kids were quite energized by the intense feeling of spring. We are all quite ready to shed the coats and the gray skies for a little warmer, outdoor weather.

They were so sweet and joyful and moving-moving-moving, so it was hard to catch good pictures, but there were a few moments of stillness and rest to snap a few.

Joshua was especially enthusiastic about taking a walk. He wanted to walk the River Path around to the front of the park. So off we went to seek adventure.

Our walk was well over a mile long (not including the running around the park for 20 minutes before we started), but we had a wonderful time. Joshua actually walked the entire way; such a huge change over the little boy we brought here twenty months ago.

Beautiful day! There are some really great shots in our online album at: Daffodils at Seaton. Go take a look!

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