Monday, November 21, 2011

Halloween and Birthdays

Still trying to catch up.

Halloween was great. Lots of fun, tons of activities. First off we carved ourselves a proper Jack-O-Lantern. Andrew said his name is makes sense.

Andrew has been really into Peterpan lately so, naturally, it was a perfect choice for his Halloween getup. (Mrrmmmm, or perhaps it was because we found a £6 Peterpan costume at ASDA in July and I just happened to introduce him to Peterpan a few weeks before Halloween...we'll never know.)

Regardless, our house was inspired by the Scottish imagination of J.M Barrie and we were set to be a Peterpan clan. Mike was to be Captain hook, I was to be Mr Smee, Abby was Tinkerbell and Andrew...well, you already know.

Sadly it didn't all work out exactly as planned.A day or so before the ghoulish festivities Mike's costume fell through and he went as a ghost. (Why? Because we had a spare sheet and some clown paint, that's why) So, I was a pirate, Mike was a ghost and the two wee ones were just cute. Check it out:

The above pictures were taken at the ward Halloween par-tay. The below pictures were taken at Andrew's school. Oh...they were a cute bunch!

Oh..and P.S. I made Abby's wings using old tights, coat hangers, finger paint and fingernail polish. I am NOT crafty, but it's amazing what a student budget does for a persons creativity! (The skirt was one my mom made during our summer visit to Utah--OH GREAT, I just remembered I haven't posted about that either)

ALSO, speaking of getting dolled-up and such, wanna see what I can do with Abby?!?

So excited about pigtails!

The beginning of November ushered in 29 years of life for Mike and I. Fantastic, one more year until 30...not so sure how I feel about that. But we had tons of fun nonetheless. For Mike's big day we made him lots of special food, played lots of games and slept. It was lovely.

For mine, my only request was to go for a walk. I love walks. So we did and Mike even surprised me with some fireworks.

Abby was amazed.

It was a great time and I was (AM) so happy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some news that ought to be shared...

In October Mike finished his thesis, in November he finished his research proposal. If all goes according to plan he will finish his last placement in December. Then what? Well...that is the question of the century but I can say that in the short term it involves us spending Christmas in England followed by another international move back to Utah. Yep...we are moving back and leaving my beloved Scotland/England. This is very bittersweet.

I have lots more to say but until then, for those that care, our biggest news: MOVING BACK TO THE UNITED STATES.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Inverness Trip

It's been a few months since this happened but I am determined to catch up. In September Mike had a couple weeks off and instead of sitting around and relaxing Mike was kind enough to take me on an adventure and help me cross a big ol' line through a long standing item on my bucket list.

We went to see Loch Ness!

Right, some of you may not think this is very exciting but for me it was a lifelong ambition fulfilled. I have had a fascination with Scotland for as long as I can remember--the green ancient looking hills, the old houses, the history, the castles--it just seemed like such a magical place. So, of course, when we originally got this opportunity to come I was like SIGN ME UP and couldn't believe I was actually going to live in Aberdeen SCOTLAND. My sentiments haven't really changed. Even now, nearly two years later, I still walk out the door and feel amazed by the beauty and tangible magic that seems to live here. Well, amongst all my childhood wishes to visit Scotland, the desire to see Loch Ness was the most pressing. This is for several reasons: 1) it's in the Highlands...properly in the highlands which are PHENOMINAL and whenever I looked at photos as a young girl, I would get most intrigued by the beauty of the Scottish highlands and 2)it has a monster in it, right? The idea and mystery of Nessy, the Loch Ness monster has always fascinated me and so for many, many years I have wanted to go and search it out myself. You know, so I could say something cool like, "High-ho, is that a sea monster ahead?!?!"

So...that leaves me here.

We live in Aberdeen which is only about four hours away from Inverness (the city built around Loch Ness). Inverness is in our stake, I know many people from Inverness but with Mike's busy schedule in addition to the constraints of student life and wee children I wasn't sure if we were ever going to have the chance to get over there. I told myself it would be alright, at least I was in Scotland after all...but then (as I mentioned) Mike planned this trip and made it come true!

Heaven. I was so giddy the whole way up. We decided to take the scenic route which made us drive up and down...and up and down, and twist and turn through the Highland hills. It was quite a misty, dreary day but it was the most fun I have ever had in a car...seriously. Yes, kids were bored, no it's not fun sitting down for almost four hours straight, but I couldn't help from bursting with excitement at the views--the castles dotting the landscape or the low hanging clouds making it feel as if we were driving through the sky. Sigh. I had my pen and paper handy and wrote down my thoughts as we traveled and I also collected some of the fun and unique names of little towns and villages we passed through. Some of my favorites include:
-Clachan Clas and... name a few...
(Don't you love the way the names look?)

We managed to take just a couple little snap shots:

Anyway, we had several things planned upon our arrival. We were to visit Culloden battlefield/museum around noon and then we had booked a cruise of Loch Ness at 4pm.

Culloden was fantastic! It is the battleground where the last stand of the Jacobites took place. No, not like from the Bible...Jacobite in this context refers to the supporters of "bonnie prince charlie" (i.e. Charles Edward Stuart) who had rightful claim to the throne. The battle occurred in the late 1700's and was unfortunately lost keeping the House of Stuart in exile forever. (Wickipedia is a great thing if you want to know more about all that.)

Here are some photos:

A headstone marking the clan names of those who bravely fought.

Next up: Cruisin' the Loch. Oh boy, oh boy was I excited! We had organized a little tour lasting approximately an hour where we motored around to catch the phenomenal views of Urquhart castle and back. I honestly can't describe it, it was the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery I have ever witnessed (and I have been to A LOT of pretty places, mind you!) And to be honest, pictures do not to it any justice. Nevertheless, here is what we got:

(NOTE: The pictures are in no particular order..I couldn't be bothered with organizing them once they post, I can only view them in HDML garbeldy-gook so I couldn't really tell which picture was what. This happen to anyone else? Know how to fix it so I could actually see the picture I am posting?)

Our fine vessel

Yep....pretty wonderful!
Now, one thing I have failed to mention is that we were super lucky to have Mike's parents come with us and it made the trip all the more special! We sure had fun with grandma and grandpa!

When we organized this trip we had originally planned to do it all in one day and just exhaust the kids. However, once we were there we decided to throw caution to the wind and stay over night so we could pack in a little more. So we searched around and finally found a little bed and breakfast in Drumnadrochit(a local village) which was beyond charming. We ate dinner at Fiddlers, the local pub, which is renowned for it's fine whiskey... :-) You could tell as most of the food contained it in some way but we all managed and I ended up enjoying a delicious venison burger, probably one of the best burgers I've ever had! After that we stopped at the shop and got a few essentials (milk and nappies, mainly)and we were lucky enough to have a few random bits of clothing in the car that worked as pajamas for the kids. All in all, not too bad for being totally unprepared to spend the night.

The next morning we had a lovely breakfast and got to know the Danish couple who owned the B&B. They were super nice and, in fact, even had their on account of a Nessy sighting. Yep...apparently ten years or so earlier when they were looking to move there, they caught a glimpse of something playing in the water. It was apparently too big to be a seal and swam very fast. She said they didn't have the best views as they were far away, but she thinks it was good ol' Nessy herself.

Ahhhh...what a perfect way to end such a fantastic trip!!!

The way back was great. We stopped and looked around Inverness city and also took in a couple of castles off the main road. Here are some pictures:

The B&B

Downtown Drumnadrochdit


Stops along the road

LDS Chapel in Inverness
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