29 November 2007

I've Been Tagged...

In this wonderful world of Blogging there is even tag--what could be more fun?! I will humor you all and play along....since both Ronnica and Jennie have tagged me in a "7 Random/Weird things" meme (meme... What's a meme? I just found out that it's something that's passed from blog to blog).

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share seven random or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So there you have it...let the randomness begin....
Seven random/weird things about me:

1. I was born on the date the Constitution was signed...well, not THE day, but the same month/day -- Sept. 17!

2. I sleep with a pillow over my head. I know it sounds suffocating, but there is something warm and cozy about it. Don't worry, I leave a breathing hole so I can breathe. Since our room is usually about 55F this has been coming in very handy so I can stay warm while sleeping!

3. I have been to Niagara Falls 8 or 9 times. Since I grew up about 3 hours away we often went even for a day trip, especially when family was visiting. I love the Maid of the Mist!

4. I despise nail files. Using them gives me goose bumps....I am a little better now that I am older, but I still only use them when I absolutely have to. I can't stand others using them either. It's the whole fingernails on a chalkboard thing...ahhhh....make it stop!

5. Between Mark and I (and including us) we have immediate family living in 5 countries (Scotland, England, US, Cayman Islands, and Israel).

6. I almost always drink water. I honestly don't care much for other beverages and can't drink most of them because of my food allergies. When I do want something different, especially warm, I am hooked on freshly boiled ginger in water and then a green tea bag thrown in (and then taken out, of course), with a little honey. Delicious! Also good for the body's immune system and inflammation. If you ever feel a cold coming on, try this first thing and often you will feel better!

7. I learned today that I work at the UK's 5th oldest university (University of Aberdeen) (after Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrew's and Glasgow), which also happens to be the 137th highest ranked uni in the world (although they are striving for the top 100....can you tell I had New Staff Orientation today?) :) What a privilege for us to be here for this season in our life!

So there you have it...fun facts about Rachel. Let's let others join in the fun too!

I tag: Kate, Allison, Rachel, Corrie

I think everyone else I know in the blogging world has already been tagged.

27 November 2007

Fun Filled Weekend!

Saturday was our official "real" celebration of Thanksgiving at our friends Kate and Brannan's
flat. I had prepared by making one turkey Friday night and another Saturday morning. (I had originally bought one and realized it might not be enough to feed 8 adults, but turns out it would have been just the perfect amount....but then we wouldn't have had leftovers for the past few days!) I also made homemade cranberry sauce (I was very excited I finally found fresh cranberries) and a few things for me to eat with the big meal. So we arrived at Kate and Brannan's a little after 11am with a whole bunch of food and whatnot to help celebrate the day.

We met Kate and Brannan's friends, Ian and Corrie, who they have known from when they all lived in Indiana together several years ago. Ian is studying at St. Andrew's so they took the train up on Thursday night to spend the long weekend in Aberdeen. Our other friends, James and Allison (you might remember them from the Jenga picture awhile back) also came along for the celebration.

There was a huge spread both for appetizers and the usual Thanksgiving Day feast. The men chatted it up about theology and such (what else?!) and Ian also helped keep Lily (Brannan and Kate's adorable daughter!) busy while the ladies tried to not run over each other in the tiny galley kitchen.

We somehow finally managed to get all the food cooked in the tiny oven too!

Mark got the special job on carving the turkey. Guess that was because I brought the turkey, he offered and maybe had the most experience. It would have been easier with an electric knife, but what fun would that have been?

After stuffing ourselves as is Thanksgiving Day tradition, we went on a brief walk and then enjoyed a combination of episodes of The Office and various You Tube videos. We didn't have The Macy's Day Parade, football games, or Home Alone to watch so these were our substitutes! We even laughed so hard our faces and stomachs hurt. It was fun to be around Americans and be reminded of American things throughout the day!

Sunday after church we did more eating :) A 4th year university student who attends our church and Mark met when he went Hill Walking (back in Oct's posts), Duncan, had invited us and others over for lunch on Sunday. He made an impressive meal! We couldn't believe all he put into the meal, especially trying to find things I could eat as well. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more people in our church. There was one other single guy 1st year student, 3 female students of various years and one widowed lady who loves hanging out with younger people. We learned more about Scottish culture and they probably learned from us about American culture too. Pretty soon we will have to put together a dinner party to repay some of these kind folks who have had us to dinner.

23 November 2007

Catching Up

Now that we have internet at home, I have been able to start catching up with other people's blogs. That has been fun and I'm now inspired to write!

We enjoyed our pumpkin and pecan pies. Pictured (by request) is the wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, corn free, soy free, and nut free (just kidding!) pecan pie I made for me - well,I did share it :-) Not too shabby, huh? I was bummed the inside didn't set up completely, but it was still the same sickly sweet treat we all know and love at Thanksgiving. The pumpkin pie wasn't quite so pretty to look at but I hear it tasted just fine.

I forgot to take a picture of our friends who came over, Jack and Ann. We were rather amazed to hear them describe their missionary experiences in the remote mountains of Mexico and middle of nowhere Sierra Leone (think Blood Diamond and worse). Talk about missionary stories! I know I was personally convicted of complaining about no internet and other minor inconveniences here when they had no electricity or running water in Sierra Leone and most of the time no fresh meat (their diet regularly consisted of canned tuna, twice a day)! Can't even fathom. They arrived here about 5 weeks before we did so we were able to relate to their settling in stories as well. I think we all feel our paths have crossed for a reason and we are excited to see what the Lord will do with us all during our time in Aberdeen and at Gilc (our church).

Darkness is setting in earlier every day. This picture was taken at 4pm today. Sigh. I noticed yesterday on the web that the sun is already setting here at 3:45pm. Are you kidding me?!

We've been wanting to share some pics and stories from when Mark's sister, Kim, came to visit us. She flew up from Reading (near London) where she's getting her Master's, two weekends ago. We enjoyed seeing her again!
On Friday afternoon we ventured out to the Maritime Museum in the City Centre. It was surprisingly large and well put together. In the middle of 4 stories was a model of an oil rig. Aberdeen is a huge oil center (comparable to Houston) so we learned a lot about the oil industry, as well as the history of the harbor.

Part of the building was built in the 1700's...this is Mark going through one of the doorways of the original building. The sign above his head says "Mind Your Head" and is the first in our series of fun signs in Scotland (see below for more). Seems to me they might also want to include in that "Mind Your Elbows and Other Limbs."

Saturday, we ventured an hour and a half west to Balmoral Castle (the Royal Family's holiday home). The day was dreary, but cleared a little once we got to the actual castle. We were sad that the only part of the castle they let you see is the ballroom. That was neat to see, but I wanted to see more of the actual residence. Oh well. Here is Kim and me outside the part of the castle where the Royal Family resides when they are there. Interesting side note, they can't tell you which is the Queen's room for security purposes. Even the tour guides don't know!
The disappointment with the actual castle tour was made up in the spectacular scenery (despite the rain). The drive to get to the Balmoral Estate takes you through the beginnings of the Cairngorm Mountains . The roads were rather curvy, with no shoulder and would at random times drop down to one lane. We were glad there weren't many cars on the road!

If you have seen the movie "The Queen" you will remember the Larder House (or something like that?) where they store the stags they have killed. This was the original one on the property, but is no longer used because it isn't "up to code" any longer. We were trying to figure out if it was the one they used in the movie (it sure looks like it). We also saw several green Land Rovers like the Queen drove. Kinda funny to think of the Queen driving a Land Rover!

And finally, my two favorite parts of the trip: 1. The hysterical signs and 2. The Christmas Sheep.

There are "No Dog Fouling" signs many places here. I am not quite sure where the dogs can foul, but on this golf course near the castle is not one of them. All I know is that I need to put up a sign like this in our shared garden area because our neighbor always leaves his dog's foul out there for me to step in when I put the laundry on the line...

I also burst out laughing when I saw this sign. I didn't get it at first other than it was funny. I said "What in the world is a naked light?!" Mark had to explain it was things like matches, lighters, etc. That made sense, but do they have to call it a "Naked" light? I think not.

Perhaps my favorite part were sheep already donned in their Christmas attire. It was so good of them to show their Christmas spirit early :)

22 November 2007

A Very Happy Thanksgiving Indeed!

As if one big blessing wasn't enough, the Lord decided to give two! Yesterday afternoon Mark got the internet up and running at home!! :) HURRAY! Very, very nice to have it. We are using a borrowed router for now, but I'm just grateful it works!

We immediately put the new internet capabilities to work by looking for plane tickets for my parents to come for Christmas. We have all been discussing the possibility of them coming and they decided they'd like to do that if they could find a reasonably priced plane ticket. Most of what we found were too expensive, but there was one website with what looked like cheap tickets so I passed the info on to Mom and Dad and went to bed.

This morning I checked my e-mail around 8am and found a message entitled "Merry Christmas." I was very confused (still asleep, I guess) because I was like, don't they know it's Thanksgiving today, not Christmas? There was something attached to the brief message and it turns out it was their plane reservations arriving the night of Christmas! I was thrilled! I know for sure they love us because they will be traveling Christmas Eve and Christmas day to come to see us during the shortest (darkest) days you can possibly come to Scotland. Thanks Mom and Dad! Can't wait to see you!

It was a good thing I was smiling from ear to ear because the walk to work was MISERABLE! Those of you who went to Cedarville will remember the horizontal rain. Think 7 degree temps (just kidding, that's Celsius, so 43ishF) and 30 mph winds....so I am surprised that I and my umbrella made it in one piece to work today! I had the umbrella in front of me and I kept having to peek around it to make sure I wasn't going to run into anyone. I arrived with very wet pants and cold legs but managed to dry/thaw out before leaving a few hours later. I was sooo glad it wasn't raining any more on my way home, though it was still windy.

Mark's coming home a little early tonight to help me get our placed cleaned up for our friends to come over tonight. I am excited to make the pumpkin pie and might even attempt a pecan pie for me too :)

We hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! We are grateful for each of you and your friendship to us. We are so blessed to have such great family and friends supporting us during this time. We love you!

19 November 2007

Sorry for the Silence

As you might have guessed from the silence the past week and beyond, we still don't have internet :( AOL has repeatedly told us (and we believe they aren't lying!) they sent us our wireless router 10 days ago. I guess we've actually had access but just no router to use that access yet. Anyways, wouldn't you know that the router is either lost in the mail or swiped by someone else in the building (?) (unsecure mail -- everyone's mail in the building is dumped in one place). Mark finally convinced them on Friday they need to send us a new one. We are praying that will go more smoothly and is going to his address here at the school for security reasons, just in case. That could arrive any day. We pray it is sooner rather than later, but at this point are trying not to get our hopes up.

Between that (partly because of that) and other things going on there have been multiple disappointments at least in my week last week. I am grateful for the Lord's patience and lovingkindness (and Mark!) during my "losing it" emotionally several times last week. It was a good day in the Lord yesterday and I think my upward perspective has been restored. Please pray with us that we can continue to adjust to our new surroundings. We continue to feel more and more at home here, but there are still those various things that drive you crazy and make you miss home more when things don't go as you think they should and in the time frame you think they should. It's hard to feel like you just want something done properly and all you get when you try to accomplish them is the feeling of banging your head on the wall repeatedly!

A couple weeks ago it hit me that I would have to work Thanksgiving Day! That was a weird thought. At least it is only in the morning and we are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving in part Thursday night with a missionary couple that just moved here right before we did (and incidentally have family at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, right down the road from where we lived in our house!). They also attend our church and we have been trying to find a time to get together. Thanksgiving night seemed appropriate! They will come for pumpkin pie if I can manage to make pumpkin pie out of pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin doesn't exist in Aberdeen). Well, whether or not I make pumpkin pie, I think they will come! We are also very much looking forward to celebrating all day on Sat. with some other couples who have just arrived this year. Sure you will hear more about all that later!

We hope you all have great Thanksgivings no matter what you do!

07 November 2007

Good to Know!

In case you missed this on Yahoo today, here's some British entertainment. I am glad to know Law #5 for two reasons: 1) So we don't illegally deny someone access to our house! 2) In case I ever need to take advantage of the law and use the "loo" when I'm out and about! It's good to have Law #6 stored away in my memory should I get pregnant while I'm here. You might find it odd to have these two laws about using the "toilet" but it really does make perfect sense. When we first arrived we were out shopping and Mark asked in the TK Maxx (like TJ Maxx) if they had a "Gents Room." He was informed that they didn't nor would any other store in that shopping center because a store can only have a public toilet if they are licensed to sell food/drink. This is okay if you are making quick trips to stores, but if you are out for any length of time it can really pose a problem! I really might have to knock on someone's door the next time I get stranded...I wonder what would happen! Enjoy the article...

LONDON (AFP) - Queen Elizabeth II's speech in the British parliament Tuesday may have been routine but at least nobody got bored to death. That would have been against the law.

Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.
And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. Illegal.

Other rules deemed utterly stupid included one that permits a pregnant woman to urinate in a policeman's hat and murdering bow-and-arrow-carrying Scotsmen within the city walls of York, northern England.

A law stating that in Liverpool, only a clerk in a tropical fish store is allowed to be publicly topless, was also ridiculous, said a poll of 3,931 people for UKTV Gold television out Tuesday.
Nearly half of those surveyed admitted to breaking the ban on eating mince pies on Christmas Day, which dates back to the 17th century and was originally designed to outlaw gluttony during the rule of the Puritan Oliver Crowmell.

The laws and other regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed although subsequent statutes have rendered them obsolete.
Respondents were given a shortlist and asked to vote.

Most ridiculous British law:
1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27 percent)
2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (seven percent)
3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (six percent)
4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (five percent)
5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (four percent)
6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (four percent)
7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen (3.5 percent)
8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (three percent) (HUH?!)
9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour (three percent)
10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (two percent)

05 November 2007

Some New Firsts

I personally would like to announce that I have now driven by myself on the left side of the road! This may sound like an easy feat, but it did make me feel a bit uneasy. I was just excited that I only got honked at once :) I feel like a brand new driver trying to remember all the important things while driving. I think the three hardest things are remembering to watch out for the left side of the car's boundaries since I am not sitting there and it would be best to not sideswipe cars parked on the side of the road. Mark has gasped only a few times because of this retraining of my brain. Let's hope I catch on quickly and we can quit having close calls! It is also difficult to remember my left hand uses the gear shift, not my right. A couple times my right hand ran into the door trying to grab for the shifter! I have yet to attempt a big round about and will avoid them as much as possible because they are rather chaotic. The other part of driving here that I do not care for is all the parallel parking on the streets. For some reason I never really had to learn this skill when I was learning to drive way back when. Mark has been trying to teach me and hopefully one of these days it will stick!

Unfortunately, we also had a first with the car yesterday as we came out after church to a parking ticket. We have concluded it would be good to learn more of the rules of the road here :) We really had thought we had picked a legal spot to park since other cars were parked there and it followed the parking guidelines someone else had given us, but somewhere in the rush to get to church we missed the sign that said no parking Mon-Sun 8am-6pm. In any case, we hope to not repeat that costly mistake again.

This morning I arrived unannounced to my first day of work! I had agreed with one of my new bosses (I think I have 3 or 4 and don't know exactly who is most responsible for me most....) that I would start today, but we hadn't set a time. I called HR and asked to have someone call and let me know but I never heard from anyone. I decided showing up at 9am would be better than going later so I did just that and brought my "flexibility" with me as I figured I would catch them off-guard. They were a little surprised, but they recovered nicely! I spent the morning trying to grasp what various people in the different departments do and how I would be helping all of them. There are 3 departments that work closely together in Admissions and they will all share me based on who needs me most at that point in time. I also got to have an official tour of the campus which was nice since Mark and I never did that. It filled in a few gaps and will probably be useful to me as down the road I may have future students or tourists asking me the same questions I was asking!

In other exciting news, we should have Internet by the end of the week! That's the goal and plan and we will all wait to see if it happens! If it does we will both be beside ourselves! We've been so grateful to have a phone this past week and know we will feel the same about Internet. Hopefully we'll never again take either of them for granted! Oh, and one other little follow-up to the phone--Mark "encouraged" the phone company to compensate us for the troubles they caused, taking so long, etc and they agreed to not charge us for our "line rental" the first 3 months! This is a decent savings (in fact, thinking about it now, it should pay for the parking ticket!) and we are grateful for this added blessing after all the hassles! God is good!

01 November 2007

Green Nelly!

We are proud to introduce you to Green Nelly, our new Ford Escort :) Mark has stated we don't need a name for our car, but I couldn't help it! I thought of Green Nelly and it has stuck. Hopefully she'll be good to us. This picture also has our building door directly behind the car.

Yesterday I finally undertook the task of opening our old washer that was full of water, catching what I could in a bucket, and then scooping the rest out with a cup. I guess it was less painful than I thought it would be. The thought of a new washer was good motivation!

Today the new washer arrived. I felt bad for the guys who had to carry it up 4 flights of steps, but at least they are half the size of the ones in the States (I didn't say that to them, though!). I have done one load that went on for over 2 hours. Guess I won't use that cycle any more! I hope I can get a couple more loads done tonight in an attempt to put a dent in the dirty laundry.