Tuesday, October 02, 2012

An everyday tragedy

Spring and summer have passed quickly from Scotland (if they had ever actually arrived) and we are already experiencing the precipice between fall and winter.  Despite the chilly weather, our little family has had a few consolations to get us through the long days.  One of those are the brambles or blackberry bushes that we pass daily on the way to and from Lawhead Primary school.  The bush is located at the entrance to the Lade Braes wooded path that leads to the duck pond, over the bridge, and up the hill to Lawhead's gate (which I might add is regularly guarded by some P4 girls who simply refuse to open unless you utter the beloved password of, yes, you guessed it "open says-a-me".  Claire despises them and mentions each morning that she would like to tattle their mischief to the headteacher).  The blackberry bush has become such a delight to our tastebuds that Autumn now grunts and puts forth her best effort to say "berry" each time we pass it even at 20mph on our bike. 

Sadly, tragedy has hit.  On a leisurely walk back home from dropping Claire off my friend Jenn and I turned the corner to find a bush that once spanned 10yards hacked down to wooden stub.  The culprits, local Fife council workman (half construction worker-half parks and rec type guys) were just up at the end of the path looking annoyed to be alive and more than ready to rush to the next place that needed hacking.  My friend's sweet three-year-old son stared blankly at the now lonely fence that once supported the sprawling bush and said "mommy, where did the berries go?".  As if it wasn't horrific enough to see his favorite bush gone, the last of the workman came around the corner with his sharp cutters and took off what little was left of the bush.  Kind of like watching someone shoot an injured horse in front of your face. Or knowing your chocolate chip cookie was just stolen and someone ran by to grab the last chocolate crumb.

So much can be said about this incident, but I must first just state the grief that has hit.  Claire will be sorely disappointed and shocked to find her sweet berries gone.  Autumn will be angry with mommy for no longer providing the sugary bliss she craves each morning and afternoon.  To make matters wose, the bush was at the height of yeilding its harvest and almost seemed to have miraculously replenished itself just for us each day.  Many a taste, smile, stain, conversation, finger prick, and childhood memories were owed to the blackberry colony that has been demolished.

As I was thumbing through Scripture today, I came upon a passage in Isaiah about God's planting of a fertile vineyard in Jerusalem that he was going to make a wasteland because it did not yield good fruit. I had to agree that there is some justice to taking down a perfectly healthy plant that only produces bad fruit.  What struck me, though, is how UNjust it is to take down a plant that yeilds RIPE fruit!  The injustice of violence, theft, rape, genocide, even environmental exploitation that all of humanity is responsible for seems somehow closer to home through the simple cutting down of a delightful bush.  Why must we lazily, greedily, and enragingly hack away at one another, at the good things God has provided? 

If I have been so distraught over the loss of a prickly plant, how much more much it anger the Heavenly King to watch one of his little ones or one of his weak ones be taken down by the everyday evils of our world?

I'm not sure yet how I will explain this tragic incident to Claire or Autumn.  There is surely a lesson in it for us all, perhaps a different one for each of us.  For me, to be careful not to squash the ripening berries that my husband and daughters may be growing.  For Claire, that the world will take our hearts and break them if we trust in its pleasures to satisfy us alone.  For Autumn, that good things pass, but with hope they will grow again. 

In fact, it just so happened that last year about this same time, the local garden company visited our yard at our previous residence.  Within a matter of 20 mins they had not only mowed the lawn, but somehow managed to hack away any other pretty bit of creation left in the run-down lot.  A few bushes here, a few trees there, take off some flowers, and we'll leave you some dirt to look at for the winter...The garden had never been much to look at, but they left it utterly desolate- and in a time when we felt desolate ourselves.  With remarkable endurance and creativity, though, Keith spent many a Sunday outside taking the rocks that had been uncovered in the desolation and building a remarkable stone wall in our yard.  He bought and pruned a few plants to replace the
ones that had been hacked.  By spring, the wall was finished and the yard produced some unexpected flowers and young bushes.  Hope put into action sustains the earth when combined with the strength of a Daddy.

For now a school holiday and family trip to Paris will have to be consolation enough for the strong winds of a Scottish autumn which apparently also brings out the annual Hackers.  Claire is patiently awaiting the view of the Eiffel tower (that she also demands must be accompanied by a toy model).  Maybe a surprise trip to Disneyland will bring a smile to puffy Jagger cheeks, however short lived the high of Disney might be...

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A British Spring

So Spring in the United Kingdom is really just another term for "winter".  Aside from a week long heat wave of 60 F (which was probably the entire British "summer"), it has been in the 40's and 50's this entire spring and I still wear my winter hat most mornings and even some afternoons.  The wind is chilly and we still have the heat on at home most nights.  It's better than unbearable heat, but a bit depressing I must admit.

Aside from feeling constantly chilled to the bone, the spring has been good for us.  Much less hectic than the transition we faced moving here in the Fall.  We are used to long walks, grocery hauls, hanging clothes on a line (inside and out) everyday, and being isolated from most friends.  Fortunately, 2 families we are close to have moved much closer and we have already seen much more of them.  We are ourselves moving in September, just a block away, but a much cheaper and nicer place within a few houses of Claire's best friend Elisabeth.

We recently took a family trip to Perth and visited Scone Palace (said "skoone") which has free roaming Peacocks throughout the garden as well as a star shaped hedge maze.  Claire had her face painted like a pink rabbit at a local arts festival and we enjoyed a family indoor waterpark there, too. 
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee- a celebration of 60 years on the throne- was an interesting cultural experience for us.  We watched a great deal of the London festivities on the TV, had our own Jubilee Tea Party with Claire's friends, and enjoyed having a non-paritsan, 90 year old, frumpy but full of intergrity, Queen as a ruler for a change;) I really do love seeing a woman with so much power (at the head of govt and church!), yet so much humilty, wisdom, and poise all in one.

 Claire will have summer break June 29-Aug 16 or so- a good 6 weeks.  I've got her signed up for gymnastics one week, but otherwise I think she'll be playing outside with friends or helping me chase Autumn around the house.  She loves school, loves her friends (especially little Aimee), and has done well with a number of substitute teachers these past 2 months.  Her amazing teacher, Miss Halkett, has basically disappeared, and it was a last minute notification. 

Autumn is now a toddler. Roams about the house and yard all day and is quite loud- and I am comparing her to other kids her age.  She is beaming with confidence for some reason and loves getting right up into people's faces and babbling at them with excitement.  She is vibrant and maybe even a bit bossy for a 1 year old.  She now signs milk, eat, bath, all done, hi, bye, up and can say mama, dada, tickle-tickle, and I think dog.  Let's just say if she was the toddler in "Honey, I blew up the Kids", St. Andrews would be in for a host of trouble!

Keith is finishing up his first and stress filled year of PhD, but he has survived and has more character and, hopefully, knowledge for it.  He has a lot of German under his belt and soon to be starting French. 

I have finished coaching until Fall, but am on level 3 of some coaching education courses.  I'll probably stop at this level for a bit and look forward to having some new skills and strategies come Fall.  For now, I am actually playing a bit of football (UK that is) with some men's teams at the University.  Talk about a stress reliever after being a stay at home mom all day!  My team, "The Whip Inn" boys are a nice group of lads (mostly PhDers) that have done well holding back any sexism they might feel and letting me join their "six a side". 

Funny things Claire has said lately?
-When wrestling with Keith "Ow, Daddy, you hurt my nuts!".  Apparently something she heard from the infamous Callum at school who also taught her to call it a "willy" and "I'm sexy and I know it"

- Oy oy oy!  (all day long was saying it so much we had to scold her to stop"

-When I was praying with her at bed time, I explained we were going to take a moment to be quiet and listen to what God is saying to us.  She says a few seconds later: "Uh, Mommy?  My brain won't stop speaking"

-At the breakfast table the other morning, she was singing and making up her own lyrics which went something like this "I loooveee you,  I say I dooo, but I reallllly don't....And there are peoppple  rotting in the streets...".  She then preceded to sob when Keith told her he wasn't sure he liked her song. 

-At dinner, "I think Aimee is so cool, she always has stylish clothes"  along with "I love this tatoo I got from Audrey's party...it's so girlie... you know, so Barbie-ish..."  YIKES, did my daughter just say that?  I hate Matel!

And, apparently, Claire was kissed at school by a certain boy who was dared by a certain other boy to kiss her twice on the lips and try to pull her trousers down while in line.  Mommy and Daddy gave her permission to yell AND push if that ever happens again.  I am currently babysitting her pet slug, Mickey Mouse, who is trying to survive in a glass jar with 3 whispy peices of grass.  She insists on keeping him and sobs if we mention releasing him back to the garden. 

Hope you enjoyed the mini update, not much to report as we haven't traveled much or had any visitors.  We are just taking life day by day often fighting exhaustion and cold.  We miss you, KY summer, more than I ever expected I would!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A life filled with Autumn Leigh

Happy 1st Birthday to our Autumn!

Claire was quite excited for her sister this morning.  As soon as Autumn was downstairs with her, Claire took her to the couch and brought over one of her 1 year old birthday cards with a teddy bear on it.  Autumn looked at it with delight!  Claire said "I want to hold my one year old, I want to hold Autumn".  I teased "But I gave birth to her, so she's mine and I get to hold her".  Claire reminded me quickly, "She is not yours, Mommy, she is ours!".  Yes, she is ours.  All of ours- she belongs first to the heavenly Father and second to all those to whom she has brought joy.  Her sister, her friends, her grandparents, her neighbors, her church community, her elderly friends on the bus....She is well loved and, it would seem, extremely filled with love for others.  To all those who prayed over her in my belly, I believe the Lord is going to bless many lives through this little one according to your faith;)

So, the panda cake and cupcakes are all ready to go...pictures to come this evening I hope! After Claire and I finished the cake yesterday, Autumn saw it for a moment and smiled, almost as if she believed the panda on the cake was smiling at her.  Can't wait to see her dig in;)   Autumn is taking a nap, then will need a bath.  Teething and a cold are leading to dried snot all over the face and often.  Claire is more than excited for the party.  White, pink, blue, and purple balloons are bringing the living room to life already. 

At one year, Autumn is crawling with pace, moving around furniture, walking alone with her walker, pointing at things, reaching out to touch leaves and flowers, saying and waving buh bye and even night night, has a least ten teeth, is feeding herself with her hands and is mostly turning away baby food or anything that arrives in a baby food dish, learning to sign "more" and "hi" and "all done", splashing in the bath, despising diaper change time, sneaking into cupboards, climbing stairs alone, and starting to cry at men she is not familiar with.  She has been to America, the United Kingdom, and even Germany!  We are so proud of her and deeply thankful for all that she has added to our family.  So, as Claire would say, "Happy Birthday, Auty booty booty boo"!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012