Friday, September 18, 2009

Graham Stats

"Well Child" doctor appointments don't happen here, so I hadn't gotten the official height & weight for Graham when he turned four. But he had a recent medical appointment, & here's the news.

Height: 109 centimeters/ almost 41 inches.

Weight: 18.2 kilograms/ 40 pounds.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Valley of Desolation

Tuesday, 15 Sept. 2009.

Jason and I dropped Cami & Graham off at school & then headed for Bolton Abbey. I was determined to see the Valley of Desolation. With grouse hunting scheduled for every weekend in September, it had to be on a week day. Jason had offered to stay home with Rose, but I wasn't sure how ready I was to go exploring the valley alone -- just in case.

So, Rose went along from her usual perch in the hiking backpack. It was best that the big kids didn't come on this hike. We wouldn't have made it. The Valley earns it's name, but not in the way I would initially have thought. It's lush. It's dramatic. It's gorgeous in it's sadness.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Well, my grandmother was a Pidgeon

Jason came in from finding his mislaid cell phone (it was the car) & I kissed him. "That was interesting," he said puzzled.


"Well, you walked up to me like this [demonstrates a waddling sort of walk] and kissed me."

"Oh, 'my wife is a duck' interesting?"

"No. Penguin."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

But Will We Come Back?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

I posted photos from the Kettlewell Scarecrow Walk a few weeks ago, but didn't report on the rest of the day. Jason got out the map & we went on a spontaneous drive up to Bolton Castle.

Frankly, we were already overdrawn for the month & shouldn't have spent the 18 pounds to tour the castle. But I'm a believer that you can't really afford to miss out on cool opportunities. When we debated the pros & cons, the tipping point was when we considered if we'd be able to return anytime soon. There are only two things I regret not buying. There are many experiences I should have afforded. I'm glad we didn't miss this one.

(Views from the roof. Jason went up first with Graham & called to me that there was something I had to see. The camera batteries were dying & I almost didn't these shots. So glad I did.)

The ground floor. Just to the right of Graham is the entrance to the main courtyard.

The kitchens & bakery.

The mill stone. Cami was fascinated to learn that this is how flour was made. She used to help me use our wheat grinder, but the concept of oxen moving this huge rock was mind boggling.

Just to show I was there too.

Through the gate in the fence is the formal gardens. Cami's favorite part of Bolton Castle was playing in the maze. It was a totally different experience for her than for me. She couldn't see over the hedges, while the path was clear to me. I think she had a lot more fun as a result.

In the upper levels, in a dining room, I believe. I'm inspired by the stark simplicity -- medieval modernism.

There's something pause-worthy, even when chasing children, about walking into Mary, Queen of Scots, bedroom.

High Contrast

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Returning from Hawes, we drove over the moors of North Yorkshire into West Yorkshire. Moors are essentially ancient ecological disasters. They were forests that were deforested & then over-farmed. They are bleak, wind-swept, desolate. Jason commented that it was necessary for us to see them on a rainy, dreary day. On a sunny, bright day you couldn't appreciate them properly.

The drive through the moors is steep. Three cyclists won my admiration for biking up a mountain that I wasn't sure our car would top. I wish I'd had a hand free for photos, but I was driving. But we stopped at this point, because Cami wanted to "touch the clouds."

On our way back to Leeds, we stopped by our friends' house to pick up veggies from their allotment. We ended up staying for hours, which included a walk past Kirkstall Abbey as the sun was setting.

And a walk back at twilight.

A Mormon Moment

Age titles are used a lot more here than they are in the US. "Elder" is used correctly, rather than the less graceful "older."

But Cami is still an American. I was teaching the Primary Sharing Time lesson today & asked for the names of a father & son in the Book of Mormon. Cami answered excitedly, "Alma the Old and Alma the Young."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vintage Rose

I love vintage clothes. My favorite outfit is a 1940s suit I bought in Brooklyn four years ago. In July, my sister-in-law Cindy brought a bunch of darling clothes with her that were made by various relatives for babies which now are adults. Rose gets compliments on how cute she looks in general, but I think she looked like a baby model today.

Rose found this doll & wandered around loving it. Even my baby girl pretends she's a mommy.

YES! I'm Right

Cami just told me & Jason: You are both wrong, except for Mom.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Before I Forget

The last time Cami had her own bathroom, she wasn't yet toilet trained. We haven't had a two-bathroom house since we moved from Florida five years ago. It creates some interesting situations. Take this morning, for example. Jason was in the shower & Cami started pounding on the bathroom door.

Jason (yelling over the sound of the shower): Who is it?

Cami: It's Cami.

Jason: What do you need?

Cami: I need in. I'm desperate to brush my teeth.

Jason: Needing to use the toilet is desperate. You can wait to brush your teeth.

School Daze 2009, part 2

Monday, 7 September 2009

Did you know that reception (aka kindergarten) starts when British kids are four? Being one of the very youngest, Graham started with the first group on incoming students. How handsome my little man is!

Hanging out with Dad.

In the schoolyard before class.

Already comfortable -- he told me to leave.

School Daze 2009, part 1

Thursday, 3 September 2009

September brings school. Cami was one happy girl. My social butterfly got ready for her first day of Year 2. Because she's at an infant school, she's one of the big kids. Next year she'll attend a different school, but for now she's cute in her blue & gray.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cheese, Gromit, Cheese!

Do any of you like Wensleydale? I can finally say I do. Both the cheese & the place.

(Not much to look at, is it? Although as far as factory sites go, that barn adds a lot of charm.)

(A view of Hawes.)

Last Saturday we had good intentions of going to the Valley of Desolation (again), but it was closed for the grouse hunters (again). So, we made a call & found out that the Wensleydale Cheese Factory was in production & we drove the extra hour to Hawes in North Yorkshire. The museum was filled with fun artifacts, but the best part for me was watching (and explaining to the kids) the production process. The year I spent working at the WSU Creamery in the direct marketing department came in handy. I gave the kids a play-by-play as we watched the milk being churned, cheddared (that's a technical term), and chopped before pressing. They put that into the "Mom knows all sorts of stuff" category, but an eavesdropper enjoyed my knowledge -- another mom there with her kids. I'm glad somebody thought I had something interesting to share.

Factory tours & cheese-artifact museums can hold one's attention for only so long, so we started to head home, but got sucked in by this river 1/2 mile out of Hawes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Rose has figured out "Up!" The word was communicated with confidence a couple of days ago. But after weeks of practicing on our backyard steps (just two leading from the kitchen to the backyard), yesterday she made it around the corner stair inside -- and now I often find her playing in the bathroom. Or calling me from an upper level, because she hasn't yet figured out how to safely go "Down!"