Tuesday, November 13, 2012

more autumn happenings

At the end of October we experienced our first Halloween here in Scotland.  In years past we've attended or worked at some sort of church sponsored "harvest" festival and so our kids have always seen Halloween from a sanitized view.  This year was different!

We had a pizza dinner with our friends then visited a few of their neighbors for some "guising".  When the kids knocked on the door to trick-or-treat they were invited inside to perform a joke or song before they were given candy.  I thought this was great fun and was really impressed with the kindness of the people we met.

Here the little princesses are examining their loot.

The leaves have nearly all fallen to the ground by now and the city is a slimy, leafy mess!  It was nice to experience true autumn colors and be overwhelmed by the beauty n the midst of the city.

The girls and I have been caught up in the dancing competition, "Strictly Come Dancing".  Its the same idea of the US version, "Dancing with the Stars".  At the start of the series we had no idea who the celebrities were, but as the weeks have gone on we have grown to love Denise & James and Kimberly & Pascha.  

 This weekend we did a little hiking at Loch Lomond.  At first the kids were a bit whiny because we bundled them up and pried the electronic devices out of their hands, but after a few minutes on the trail they were happily exploring.  The girls came home with special rock collections and Jason established himself as our scout, always in the lead on the trail.  It feels like every time we go out for an adventure we discover another need for keeping the kids protected from the elements.  This time it was discovering the holes in the girls' boots.  It seems like things were so much easier when we lived in the land of flip-flops!

We are entering the dark days now, as the time change happened and we are marching toward winter.  On days when we see the sun it only skims across the horizon and never reaches the top of the sky.  When the cloud cover is thick our whole day is gray and 2:30 in the afternoon feels like dinner time.  The days are short!  We drink endless cups of tea, hot chocolate & coffee, sit by our fireplace and play board games.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

autumn is here!

Hello world!  I'm back!  I know it's been a while, but my computer has been flashing the white screen of death for months now and every time I sit down to write I get the not so subtle reminder that's its time to put this baby down for good.  Ah well, today's a good day, so let's review a bit shall we?

After the Olympics ended the kids were bouncing off the walls of our flat with sporting fever so I ventured out and signed them up for sports at our local leisure center.  Cameron is springing into shape as a rising gymnastics superstar and Jason is chasing his Andy Murray dreams onto the tennis court.  Both kids are having a blast in their respective sports despite not knowing anyone in their classes (at first) and barely being able to understand their coaches accents.  Over the weeks they've made huge strides and now they feel quite at home in the gym.  They're still a bit conflicted, should they compete for the USA or go for gold with Team GB.  It's a tough call, but we have plenty of time to decide!

Also, this autumn, the kids started school.  Jason and Cameron continue to homeschool with our beloved Sonlight curriculum.  Hayden is venturing out to our local nursery school (preschool).  She goes Monday through Friday, from 9 to 11:30.  She and I walk to school every morning and we hang her coat & backpack on her peg.  She has to change from her outdoor shoes to her indoor, soft shoes.  Then she joins the rest of her class in their room.  She loves to paint and play outside.  She is also a very good helper at snack time when she helps serve the children.  She had a difficult time going to school after her sweet friend Hazel moved back to the States, but she has made new friends.  I think my favorite part of the day is picking her up from school and walking home together.  She loves to chatter on about her morning and tell me all about what she did at school.

In the mornings while Hayden is at nursery the big kids and I study together.  They just finished a 6 week study on China.  Here they are learning to make Chinese characters with their calligraphy pens.

We all continue to love serving at re:hope church.  The kids feel quite at home and have resumed their church rat status, which includes food privileges but also cleaning responsibilities ;)

Here is Hayden, off to nursery for the Teddy Bear Picnic.  Jason was sweet and let her borrow his Mickey bear from his kindergarten field trip.  She was proud to bring her big brother's bear to school.

At the end of September we had a fun feast & open mic night at church.  Hayden is above with her friend Hazel (just before she moved) and Jason is enjoying his friends Owen and Ethan.  

In October we were able to spend a little family time with Nanny and Pops, we had a weekend getaway with just the Rusco 5 and we spent a little time away with friends.  It's a beautiful time of year here with gorgeous fall colors everywhere you look, but also loads of activities and needs to fill.  We are busy, but happy, finding time to rest amidst the work.  Thank you for sticking with us, reading the blog and sending encouraging notes.  We are blessed and truly ready to celebrate a season of thankfulness and joy.  We look forward to November when we can host a Thanksgiving feast and then shortly afterward welcome my brother and his family to Scotland for a visit.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

my apologies

Honestly, I apologize.  I apologize because I don't want to be one of those moms who can't stop gushing about their amazing kids.  The fact is, my kids are normal, quite normal.  I have a typical first born, so he's a rule follower, advanced at school work and all over nice kid.  He also has a video game obsession, so he has been known to sneak in time with his DS when he's supposed to be reading.  We have 2 girls, who often love to be girly sisters.  They also love to push each other's buttons, pull hair, scream and fight over toys and clothes.  We have it all here, the good and the bad, the extraordinary and the ordinary.

But sometimes, when you get caught up in the crappy world of grown-up stuff your kids will stop you in your tracks and give you a sweet reminder that they are watching.

The past week has been awful.  I won't go into the reasons here, but it has been a week to end all weeks.  In the midst of it all, Jason has been working on a school essay about courage.  Despite all my frustration with his less than stellar essay writing skills (poor kid has a former English teacher as a mom), the boy has produced something awesome.  The flow of the essay is rough, the thoughts are a bit underdeveloped, but the heart is there.  So if you'll just indulge me bit (well, you are reading MY blog after all), here is the essay:

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left..." Joshua 1:6,7.  These are God's instructions to Joshua before entering the promised land.  Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain, without fear (Webster's Dictionary).  I think courage is cool and awesome.

I think courage is trying something new.  If you have courage you can do a lot of new stuff.  For example, a trapeze artist would upset a crowd and the ringmaster if he didn't have courage.

My dad is very kind and nice.  He's a Christian and a good follower of God.  Overall, I'd say he's a very good man.

He's courageous because God called him and his family to the mission field and he listened.  So we packed up and left to almost an unknown place: Scotland.  He took very good care of us in such a confusing place.  The main point is that he is courageous for following God.

Both my dad and Joshua listened to God and brought others to a new land.  My dad brought us and Joshua brought the Israelites.  "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

The kid who wrote this essay is the same kid who started tennis lessons last week.  The boy walked onto the court to face kids he didn't know and coaches with thick accents.  He is incredibly uncoordinated when it comes to making contact with a moving target.  But he fought back fear and walked onto the court.  At the end of the hour, despite a lot of failure, he walked off the court with a huge smile on his face.  We went back again today.  He is improving, slowly, but he is still not the best on the court.  I don't care if Jason ever plays professional sports, college sports or even high school sports.  Honestly, I just want him to be courageous, walk onto the court, do his best, and walk off with a smile on his face.

So there it is.  Again, I'm sorry for raving about my kid.  But I think he is cool and awesome.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

bothwell castle

I had been looking forward to this day all week.  The weather channel had predicted a 0% chance of rain for today, and I was dreaming of sunny skies, shorts and flip flops.  Silly me, I live in Scotland!  Sure, there was a 0% chance of rain, but that doesn't mean the sun will be out.  GRRRRRRR.......

Anyway, we made the best of it by exploring the ruins of Bothwell Castle, just about a 30 minute drive from our place.

Here we are in the keep, looking up at what used to be the 3 floors of living spaces above.

Jason and Hayden recline in the great hall.

A tower overlooking the front of the castle and the remains of the chapel.

We found a few invaders.

Cupid, isn't he cute?

Run for your life!!!!

Jason tried scaling the walls of the former apartments.

Exploring the outside of the castle.

The kids attempted a siege of the castle.

It was a long way up!

I'm such a lucky girl.

Cameron picked out the girls' outfits today.  They wanted proper explorer's clothing, with the option of stripping down to shorts if the weather permitted.  She's gonna hate the picture someday... I'm gonna love it FOREVER!

We have found that ruins are the best places to take kids.  There's plenty of space for them to run, they're outside so they can yell and the best part is they can't wreck anything.  Plus, it's a Saturday in the summer and we have the place to ourselves.  We ate lunch in the castle courtyard and headed home, very satisfied with our visit to Bothwell.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

cruel summer

When we first kicked around the idea of moving to Scotland I had a small idea that perhaps we would be in for a shock in regards to weather.  I was a stupid, naive girl.  I am in a HUGE amount of shock concerning weather.  Take a look at this screen shot from our weather app:

At first I was trying to get used to Celsius but that was really messing with my head.  So that shot is from June and not much has changed in July.  We did get sun this week for a few short hours, so the kids and I did our best to get outside and soak up the vitamin D.

Despite the rain, life must go on.  So I was pretty excited this week when this finally happened:

I hit 100 miles!  I bought this app back in April (I think?)  and since then I've had a love/hate relationship with it.  It's pretty fabulous when I remember to bring it with me, turn it on and the GPS actually works.  All the other times, it's rubbish.  I don't know if I'll continue using it, as I'm pretty set in my routine of running 3-4 times per week, 3 miles per run.  Rain or shine it feels good to hit the pavement and clear my head.

We beat the rainy day blues this week with a trip to the Glasgow Science Centre.  This place is amazing!  The kids and I spent hours checking out all three floors of science experiments, illusions and fun stuff.  Here are a few pictures from our time there:

Today we took a day trip to Inchmahome Priory on an island in Lake Menteith.  The priory was home to Augustine monks in the Middle Ages.  All that remains now are ruins and a beautiful island.  We braved the scattered showers to explore this small beauty.

the kids are sitting in the cannons' stalls

the remains of the chapel

the grounds of the proiry

hiking around the island

climbing the ruins

Despite the weather, we have plenty of things to keep us encouraged.  Our weeks are full with work, friends and our own loud, happy family.  The locals say that this has been the worst summer in recent memory, so I think they're trying to give us hope.  Until it clears up we'll carry on, braving the rain, wearing raincoats and wellies in July!