Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Words in the Wild

As part of the Word Festival here at University of Aberdeen, we attended Words in the Wild at the Woodend Barn in Banchory (about 40 minutes outside of Aberdeen).


Behind the Arts Center, they have a "wild" garden where they often host children's events and exploration of nature. We were given bags to collect pieces of nature to use in our art project.


Abigail was most excited about the buttercups, though she also found some red leaves and purple flowers to include in her bag.


The kids loved exploring the garden. We enjoyed the plants and rocks, the flowering trees and bushes.


We checked out the pond to see if we could find some newts or other little creatures. There was also a wonderful bridge across the end of the pond that Joshua ran across repeatedly.


The kids loved the old boat set up by the shore of the pond. Joshua asked a million questions about how the boat would work, where the oars fit, and how it would float with the holes in the bottom.


Following our tromp through the garden, we headed inside to make bookmarks out of the bits of nature we collected. Then we gathered for story time, and enjoyed a playful reading of The Gruffalo, one of our favorite stories of the wild, "deep dark" woods!

Wonderful family day out in the wild, expanding our view and understanding of the stories we love! Check out more pictures from our adventures.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Menu Plan Monday


After a weekend of the stomach bug, I am ready for some good food. Everyone has been sick to some degree, except Joshua. This bug has spread very rapidly through our entire group of friends because there is no warning and you don't know you are sick until its too late.

Thankfully the weather was sunny and windy, perfect for drying all the sheets and blankets. It was also nice to get out in the back garden / yard for some fresh air. The wind, combined with the low relative humidity (lowest since we have been in Scotland), dries the laundry very quickly, as long as it is pinned on well enough not to just blow off the line.

But it is now a new, healthy week, with a great menu planned...
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Menu Plan Monday


Busy weeks.... things never really seem to slow down.

Here's the upcoming menu...

  • Monday -- Chicken fingers and homemade fries
  • Tuesday -- Spaghetti with meatballs
  • Wednesday -- Tacos
  • Thursday -- Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein 
  • Friday -- Jacket Potatoes
  • Saturday -- Pizza
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Menu Plan Monday


Wow, I can hardly believe a new week is beginning again. The days seem to be flying by so quickly. Joshua and Abigail are excited about summering coming. They may not realize that it really doesn't get much warmer here in Aberdeen, but maybe we'll get a summer this year.

This coming week will be another busy one, especially for Darren. He is preparing a paper for the Theology Retreat the following week. The kids and I will work hard to keep busy while Darren writes away...

And now to the menu...
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Auchindoun Castle

On one of our family weekends, we took a little drive out to Auchindoun Castle for a tour. This is an unmanned castle managed by Historic Scotland, so we hit it at the end of the day. But it was still beautiful and, because we were further inland, it was also warm.


You have to park down at the road and walk in on the farm access roads up to the castle. It is a beautiful location. I love these hills on the edge of the Cairngorms Mountains.


After rounding a corner, we caught our first view of the castle up on the hill behind the trees. Just a warning if you plan to visit here, this next road had some pretty good mud on it ... and it hadn't rained in at least a week prior to our visit ... so bring wellies (boots).


This is a small castle, located in the middle of sheep and cow pastures. There isn't much climbing, although had we not been with kids I might have scaled the walls to check out the upper floor (not a hard climb). I love the look of this castle; it is almost like someone just removed this outer wall to give us a view of the inside.


The kids did attempt a climb of the old stair case, though now it is just a pile of rocks. There is a back fallen stair that can give access to the upper floor, that is currently intact. It looks like they are doing some repair and maintenance work on this site that may open up more areas to explore.


We had a nice time wandering around, and I thoroughly enjoyed the view of the river and surrounding hillsides. You have to check out the pictures in our online album to see the rest of the sights. It was early in the spring, so the hillsides were still dark brown with bloom (or Scotch Bloom, as you may know it in the States) before the yellow flowers burst out a few weeks after our trip.


On the way back to our car, we wandered through the sheep field (we had gone around the long way on the walk in). The little lambs were so cute, but also scattered very quickly before we caught any pictures. We also got a lot of attention from the field of cows; they all stopped to look at us and moo!


The walk back to the car was beautiful as the sun started to set. The end of a wonderful day! I'm pretty sure Abigail fell asleep on the way home.

There are more online pictures of Auchindoun Castle in our FB album.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Balvenie Castle

During one of our sunny weekends, we headed out for some more castle exploration. We decided on a visit to Balvenie Castle about a hour northwest of Aberdeen.


Once we got outside the city, the temperatures were much higher and I was actually comfortable in my short sleeves for the first time this year. Of coarse the kids have been ready for short sleeves for weeks now.


This is a small castle that was originally a defensive fort but was converted into a palace of sorts. We enjoyed the towers and beautiful courtyard.


The kids found every possible wall and steps to climb. I enjoyed exploring the cave-like store rooms and servants quarters, though Joshua finds it a little unnerving to go into dark, damp rooms.



There are two round staircases on each side of the entrance leading up into the living quarters. We wound our way up one and down the other, enjoying the view from the upper stories.


We spotted some Highland Coo's in a field nearby. There was a walking trail through the middle of the fields, so we wandered up after our castle tour to check out he cows. I still enjoy seeing highland cattle!



Beautiful day! Amazing weather! Great castle! Fun family outing! Check out more pictures in our Balvenie Castle photo album.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Menu Plan Monday


I am looking forward to a 'normal' week, with a regular schedule again. There have been so many local holidays and other things happening that we are ready for some consistency.

After more than two weeks of constant sunny weather, the rain has finally returned. I already miss the sun, even though it has only been two days. Apparently we are experiencing a drought in Scotland, and there have been numerous wild fires in the Highlands recently because everything is so dry. Still, it was nice to have such wonderful weather. Maybe it is indicative of how great the summer is going to be, right?!

And now to the menu...

Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 6, 2011

National Railway Museum in York

I know I have given you so many posts on our trip to York. This really is the last one. There are about 200 pictures of our trip in our online album, and are so many great shots that I didn't post on the blog.

On our last day in York, we headed to the National Railway Museum, just behind the train station where we could catch our commuter train back to Aberdeen.


The kids were so excited about so many trains. We were at the museum for several hours, but could have stayed several more and still had things to do.


Joshua loved seeing the pistons up close and was amazed at how big the nuts and bolts were on a real train. They even had a cross-section split of a steam engine that showed how the coal, water, fire, water and steam powered the engine.


Joshua was excited about his visit to the driver's seat on one of the Japanese high speed trains that was visiting from Japan.


Abigail enjoyed all the hands-on exhibits and especially the story time about Queen Victoria and her travels to York in her specially-designed, innovative coaches.


The highlight of the visit for Joshua was our ride on a replica of one of the first steam engines. The engineer opened up the firebox to show us the fire while he shoveled in coal. Very cool!


What a wonderful museum and an exciting learning time with the kids! Our York trip was an incredible family time and the best trip they kids have done yet.

In addition to the destinations and pictures posted on the blog, our photo album also includes the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens, and more beautiful shots of the York Minster.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

York City Walls

The Romans built walls around the city of York for protection in the 1200's. Large sections of the walls still remain today. We walked on the section behind the Minster.


The kids were fascinated by the castle-like feel of the wall and often pretended they were defending against attack.




The hills below the wall were covered in daffodils. It was such a beautiful area. We also had some wonderful views of the Minster and several old, lovely houses (mansions).


It was a long walk for the kids, but they did a great job. Joshua carried his backpack almost the entire time. I was very pleased that they had such stamina.


These beautiful details were all over the walls and gate houses. Check out more York pictures in out FB album.

Monday, May 2, 2011

York Fire Station

The York Fire Station was one of the wonderful surprises during our York trip. We had walked past the fire station several times during the week, and Joshua was always excited to look at the trucks through the windows.


On Saturday morning when we walked past, the trucks were all parked outside and the firefighters were cleaning the garage. We took some pictures from across the street, when one of the firefighters invited us to come look at the station.



The kids were thrilled. They got to "drive" the truck and try on the helmets. Joshua had a chance to try out the new heat camera.


Then the firefighter opened up the sides of the truck to show off all the equipment. Below, the kids are standing right next to the "jaws of life". Joshua was very impressed at how big the jaws are in real life.


This unplanned, surprise visit to the fire station (including a good look at their fireman polls), was one of the highlights of the trip for the kids. What a fun day!

There are more pictures in our York photo album with Abigail driving the truck, the new helmets with gold-tinted visors and more.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Menu Plan Monday


I am finally done sorting through all the pictures from York. I published most of them at York - April 2011, and have been writing short excerpts here on the blog.

We enjoyed the Royal Wedding this week. The kids were fascinated by the Queen, who was not wearing a crown, and the new princess who was wearing white instead of pink.

Next week Joshua has several days off of school for May Day holiday, in-service days and election day. We'll have to come up with some creative ideas to keep the afternoons from growing too long. This last week has been quite sunny, not warm, but sunny. Hopefully the good weather will continue into next week.

And now to the menu...

Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

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