Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Water of Leith

Last Saturday we set out to discover the Water of Leith Walk. This is a path that follows a river named the Water of Leith all the way from the mouth of the river to a little village callled Balerno. All in all, the Walk is about 11 miles, I believe, so we didn't walk the whole thing, but did enjoy part of it.
Here's the entrance to the walk from our road.

These next pictures are mostly for Micah . . .

Monday, 22 October 2007

A day in the life of Z

Take a walk with Dad.

Hang out in the swing.

Have a few laughs.

Take a bath.

Read the evening paper.

Go to sleep.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Corstorphine Hill

Aside from the little luxuries near our flat - walks along the Firth of Forth, a system of nearby trails, verdant parks - we can easily catch buses to various natural habitats in or near the city. The Royal Botanic Gardens are within walking distance, but today we took the Lothian Bus 21 to Corstorphine Hill, a fairly steep hill in the middle of the city, one that has been set aside for hiking and biking.

There's well over 100 plant species in this little space, and it's quite remarkable to see how changing just a few metres elevation can change the foliage one sees. One moment cedar, the next moment purple-budding plants, the next all ferns. Much of it looks like something out of a Tolkien tale. We had a jolly ol' time, then stopped at Morrison's (one of the few "superstore" grocery stores in town) to get our hands on raspberry-filled donuts and veggies and (O! Beauty itself!) Ben and Jerry's half-priced (it's normally $8-9 a pint). We're a happy family.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Entertain Me

Last week we got the internet in our apartment -- yay! We've been contemplating what we've learned during three weeks without outside entertainment (no TV, movies, or internet). I know it's the cool thing to say that we learned to reconnect through deep conversation, we learned how beautiful it is to take a walk through the park in fall, or we learned to appreciate a good book again, but here's what I really learned -- I like TV and movies and internet. Yep, I'm afraid so. The thing is, we already knew we liked good conversation, and without a car, walking is as much a way of transportation as it is a leisure activity, and I've been a bookworm since I was five. So yes, we miss our TV and movies, but we are very glad to have the internet back so we can communicate with all our friends and family again.

Oh, and I learned one other thing. I learned that the male of the species has an apparently infinite capacity to take his game up a notch when it becomes clear that a girl might beat him at said game. This, I believe, is particularly true if the girl in question is his wife. Allow me to give an example. During our three weeks without our normal forms of entertainment, we took to playing various games on the computer. One that became a favorite was pin ball. I had never really played pin ball before, so Nathan was beating me quite handily every night. However, one night I got lucky and got a score of over 4 million. Yeah, wow. Nathan had already informed me that he had never broken the 3 million barrier, so, as you might imagine, I was a little trepidatious about how he would respond to my incredible game. He was, of course, very happy for me.

However, the next morning he suggested, with a gleam in his eye, that we have a casual game of pin ball. I, as the winner and still champion, graciously accepted. He then proceeded to play a game of pin ball which lasted approximately 48 minutes as he collected over 5 million points. My stint as champion had lasted exactly 13 hours. I'm claiming partial rights to the 5 million points since without my 4 million to spur him on, I think he'd still be stuck in the 2 million range.

Monday, 15 October 2007


We miss our stupid dog. We're really an incomplete family without her. Our sink gets clogged now, because we've forgotten how to clean our own plates before washing them. We miss how she growls and hisses like a demoniac when we tickle her belly. Sigh.

We know it's uncool to get homesick while in a town like Edinburgh. Truly, this city here should trump anything in Sioux Falls. But as it is we're all sentimental about things back home in the Dakotas:

- real ice cream, not this crappy flavored cool-whip stuff.
- thunderstorms
- second-hand baby good stores
- date nights out, especially at Spezia and Cafe 334.
- our king size bed
- USF and Sioux Falls Seminary and all the people there
- family-size food packaging (this 3oz of sour cream for $2.00 ain't cuttin' it)
- a backyard
- customer service
- having a car, a bike, any kind of personal transportation
- a guitar
- all our church peoples
- walking around the central neighborhood, talking about houses for sale, watching leaves fall, then sitting on our porch swing and watching the world go by
- all our books

Geez. What losers. But that's how the idea of home works - you can't quite get it out of your head, even when everything else is going merrily on.

And, if you're reading this, chances are you're being missed too.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Z growing up fast

Amazing to think that Z was born in mid-July, a sorta scrawny little lad. In this picture, in Sioux Falls a few days after returning from Sanford Hospital, he could be palmed like a little basketball (don't tell Christina). He fed well after the first week, making him almost double in size since then.

After a couple of months his cheeks filled in, providing good occasion for baby harassment ("Say Gooba!"). Most stupendous has been his lengthening. He easily fits six month clothing at three months of age.

We couldn't get any smiles out of him through mid-September. Just the less-happy emotions. In which case, we turned up the TV. A lot.

But the little weed kept a-sproutin'. And sleeping like mad, which was nice, especially on our multiple flights to the UK and back.

Then lo and behold! Personality! Z is currently smiling at us from morning to evening, a few grouchy hours excepted. He loves people from what we can tell, as well as his mobiles. He's very interactive.

We think he's hilarious, and the feeling seems to be reciprocated. Christina has him laughing daily with a tickling routine, and Dad has all sorts of tricks to evoke funny faces from the boy. With the colicky stage out of the way (fingers crossed), we're anticipating fun days ahead.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

New College, University of Edinburgh

While Edinburgh as a whole is quite remarkable, the square mile around my institution, New College Divinity School, takes the cake. A stone's throw from my graduate wing lies Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile (the most historic of Edinburgh's streets), three museums (yes, three), and the whisky tour headquarters. You have to see it to believe it, but suffice for now a few pictures.
New College, where I'm working on my PhD in divinity:

The Royal Mile, replete with shops and pubs and bagpipers:

And the castle. I say "the," as it is really the premier fortress in Scotland. Here's about one fifth of the beast:

We anticipate getting internet at home later this week. Pictures of Z to come.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Our New Neighborhood

Behold, the Newhaven neighborhood of the Firth of Forth. A "firth" is something like a bay, and "Forth" probably comes from some famous dude. In any case, it's a tongue-twister, and we live beside it.

Finally Here!

Here is the beginning of my first blog. I have generally been a little suspicious of blogs, seeing them as a product of a culture that will do anything to be known. However, now that we're in Scotland and I'm missing family and friends, I'm finding blogs to be a wonderful thing! I love reading about what all of you are doing, and seeing your pictures, so I have changed my mind completely. I don't know that my thoughts will be terribly interesting, but at least everyone will stay updated, and you'll get to see pictures of Scotland and Z on a somewhat regular basis.

The details of our arrival are many and harrowing. We arrived in London on August 31 only to discover that our visas were not complete. The rules for visas have changed drastically since I was at Aberdeen, and rather than letting us into the country on a tourist visa, the British authorities decided to refuse us entrance into the country. We spent nine hours in detainment (along with two gentlemen from Africa and a couple from some Islamic country -- she was in full burkha!). After being fingerprinted, carted around in a caged van, having our passports confiscated, and generally treated like criminals, we finally got onto a flight back to the USA. We spent the next two and a half weeks at my parents' in Kansas while we got the visas straightened out. And finally, on September 19, we arrived in Edinburgh, much to our joy and relief.

Nathan's getting settled at the University and is reading tons (especially Barth), and I'm trying to get used to the stay-at-home-mom gig. So far, it seems to be going pretty well. Aside from a few colicky days, Z is generally quite happy. He's learning to go to sleep by himself (yay!) and is becoming very interactive with me and Nathan -- smiling and talking away. The other day he got hold of Nathan's beard and thought that was hilarious enough to break out into his first true laugh.

I'm at the library because we're finding it takes a very long time to get the internet set up in your house. But we should have that done next week, and then hopefully we'll regularly post thoughts and pictures.