Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tough choices

Alex, Nathan, and Jared went to a Premier League soccer game the end of April.  It ended up being disappointing because Newcastle lost to West Brom 1-0 (so they didn't even get to experience Newcastle scoring a goal).  They were supposed to go to the Newcastle vs. Manchester game in February (the day before Alex left for Antarctica).  Nathan got tickets for Christmas (and they were really expensive too - about $300 each).  It was a Saturday game and supposed to be one of the best games of the season.  However... about 2 weeks before the game, we found out that they moved the game to Sunday.  That presented a couple of problems: (1) Alex wouldn't be able to make it, since he was headed out that day to Antarctica  (2) We don't usually attend things like this on Sundays (not keeping the Sabbath Day holy).  

In the past, on rare occasions we have attended a game or went out to eat or something on Sunday.  But it's not considered an appropriate activity for Sunday in our faith, so that presented a tough choice.  Should we go to the game or not?  In our minds, we were trying to justify that since we spent so much money, we should just go to the game.  We asked some family members what they thought - we had some thinking along the same lines as us, that it would be okay this time.  My nephew Nicholas said we should just not go to the game and we would be blessed.  

We decided to try to sell the tickets, but we had a deadline on that before they shipped the actual tickets to us.  By the evening of the deadline, we hadn't received word of a sale from the vendor, so we still had the tickets and the same dilemna.  I kept thinking about what Nicholas said, and I also had recently read a talk about keeping the sabbath day holy.  In that talk, it pointed out how someone began to justify behaviors by past experiences, rationalizing that it was okay because of the times in the past.  And we found ourselves in the same situation.  We thought about when we went to the World Cup Final in Germany on a Sunday evening.  We were justifying based on a past not-as-good choice.  As we kept thinking about it, I felt like we should just chalk it up and not go to the game, that the Lord would bless us for making a better choice.  So we decided that we wouldn't go and would keep the Sabbath Day holy.

After we made the decision, the next day we learned that 2 of the tickets DID sell, so that was a blessing.  We weren't able to sell the last ticket, but maybe it will serve as a reminder of the choice made to keep the Sabbath Day holy that day. What made it even harder was learning that it was a great game and Newcastle won 1-0.  Missing a great game and $300 wasted, but can you really put a price on choosing the right?  Nathan will be able to remember that experience and the sacrifice he made. We don't know how, but I know he will be blessed for making that choice.  

The expensive souvenir ticket:

 (disregard the price and the generic name - we did pay much more than 48 pounds for it!)

Adventure Valley

We took an outing to a nearby play place in April, which had lots of things to do:  mini golf, giant air pillows to jump on, animals, cars, pony rides, and several play areas.  Perfect place for kids!  The weather was great that day too.  


When we had a nice sunny day in April, Savannah set up her area outside to enjoy the sun.  Books, drink, side, table, blanket, and pillow.  Just soaking up some rays.  Funny girl!  

Monday, November 19, 2018

Beautiful day

Our April visit to the temple was one of the most beautiful of the year.  The sun was out, with a bright blue sky and beautiful red flowers!


We got in about 1:30am on Sunday morning following our week with Jane (we had to return our rental car to the Newcastle Airport on Saturday night).  We went to church in the morning and then came home to do laundry and pack for our week in Scotland.  We didn't get out early on Monday because we had to wait on new brake pads for the car.  Our accommodation in Scotland was about 4 hours away.  We stopped at Stirling Castle along the way, and we also ran into an obstacle, so it was late when we got in.  

We got stuck in the snow about 3.5 miles from our destination that first evening.  We were driving on a one-track road up over a mountain.  We came to this snow patch (first picture below), saw car tracks in it, and thought we could make it too.  We tried to clear a little more of it before we went through it (there was a lot of mud on the side, so you couldn't go around the snow).  We got partway through and then got stuck.  We couldn't go forward or backwards - our wheels were just spinning.  We sat out there for a while, wondering what we were going to do.  We were out in the middle of nowhere.  We said a prayer for help in getting out, but weren't very hopeful since it was getting dark and we hadn't seen anyone on that road.  Any of our own attempts were useless.  And then... someone did come up behind us.  We were blocking the path, so they had to try to help us so they could get by as well.  They were able to help us get out and then we followed them.  It turns out that was just the first patch of snow, with more along the way.  They made sure that we made it through each snow patch.  We easily got through a couple more patches because we were going downhill.  And then... we came to a place where it was too deep for anyone to get through.  We were going to have to turn around and go the way we came in, back through the 3-4 patches we had made it through.  We got stuck a couple more times, because then we were fighting to go uphill through the snow.  The people stayed and coached us through every spot until we were safely on the main road (and off another way to our destination).  It turns out that they trained people to drive in conditions like we were in AND they had no real destination for that evening.  They were just out for a drive.  We know they were the answer to our prayer. 

When we did arrive at our accommodation, something was broken in the one we reserved, so they put us in another place that was even nicer than our reservation.  Unfortunately, we only got to stay there one night.  The rest of the week we stayed in a house on the Isle of Raasay, near Isle of Skye.  It wasn't what we expected - it was pretty old and small, and it was also cold.  We had to keep a fire going, which circulated warmth to the place.  So Alex and the boys had to keep putting more coal in the fire.  It turned out okay, but it definitely wasn't anything luxurious.  The owner of the house was the parents of a friend, who let us stay in the place for free.  So we were really grateful that we were able to stay there for free.  To get to the Isle of Raasay did require using a ferry, which was about $30 by car.  So we didn't leave very much that week. 

 The main purpose for us going to Isle of Skye that week was that Alex had work there, so he left during the day.  I took the kids over to the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye one day.  The weather was great that day, and we had a nice hike.  The rest of our time we spent watching movies, doing a puzzle, playing games, throwing rocks at the beach, or at the nearby playground.  I read 3 books in the 4 days we were there.   

The disadvantage of the ferry was that we weren't guaranteed to get out when we wanted to.  We tried to catch the 9:00am ferry on Saturday morning, but it was full and we had to sit there and wait another hour.  What was particularly unfair was that a big utility truck pulled in a couple of cars behind us, and then got to go in front of us.  It took up spots for about 4 cars.

 We stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct on the way back to Durham.  That bridge was the one in the Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets movie. (I found a movie clip), with the flying car and Hogwarts Express.  Apparently the kids have their "wands" out in the first picture below.

Scotland is beautiful!  

Jane's visit

Aunt Jane spent a week with us.  Unfortunately, it was really cold in Durham.  We took a cold outing to the Cathedral and Castle on Monday.   

            On Tuesday, we went to part of Hadrian's Wall and tromped around in the rain and mud. 

The kids got to search for dragon egg signs at this place.

On Wednesday, we drove down to Trowbridge, near Bath and Bristol, to look at some family history sites.  We went to Stonehenge first on Thursday morning, and then went to wander around some graveyards in the afternoon. 

We got to see the church where Alex's great great great grandparents were married and find a grave of one of our ancestors.  Owen and Weston wanted to pray by the grave - not sure what they prayed for, but it was sweet to see them praying by their ancestor's grave.  I was surprised at how much they liked wandering around the graveyards searching for names.

Savannah liked all the flowers.  We got to meet a distant cousin, Stuart, a relation through Alex and Jane's family line.  We had dessert with him on Thursday evening. 

On Friday, we drove into southern Wales and did a short walk on the bridge headed in to Wales.  We didn't stay very long there, but headed over to a farm in Bath.

On Friday evening, we let the younger kids play at a park, and then we all enjoyed dinner and dessert at Frankie & Benny's.  They have good hamburgers and shakes there. 

On Saturday, we headed over to London, where Jane was flying out of on Sunday.  She wanted to rest (I can't imagine why, after having traveling around in the car with our family...), so we left her at her hotel and then spent a few hours in London that afternoon.  Alex and I split up, since we didn't think the younger ones would do well standing in line at the London Eye.  That was what Jared really wanted to see while we were in England.  I took Nathan and Jared and went on the London Eye, which was an amazing view of the city.

Alex took Owen, Weston, and Savannah back to the Natural History Museum (we didn't get to see all of it when we went in December).  Unfortunately, the line there was really long, so they found something else to do instead.  Alex took the kids to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens - they enjoyed playing on the pirate ship playground. 

I was a little bit worried about splitting up in London, but we all made it back together.  We even ended up on the same train back to our destination.  We started on different lines that merged before we met up.  We discovered that Alex got on the train a little bit earlier and was sitting a few cars ahead of us.  It was fun to step out of the same train and meet up again. 

The second picture below was one we took while buying tickets for the London Eye.  We knew that Weston really wanted to see the Queen of England, so we snapped this photo, trying to make Weston jealous that we had seen the Queen!

We had dinner with Jane before we parted ways and then had a long drive back to Durham that night.  

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Easter weekend

Easter weekend was cold!  We walked around the beach, played at the park, and ate fish & chips with friends on Good Friday.  The kids opened goodies from the Easter bunny on Saturday morning.  We watched a worldwide broadcast (General Conference) at home on Saturday evening.  Alex, Nathan, and Jared went to the church on Sunday morning to watch the priesthood session of conference (which is live on Saturday evening in Salt Lake City, UT).  They gather to watch it on Sunday morning in England due to the time difference.  So we didn't have normal Sunday services on Easter this year (thus no nice Easter pictures).  

Aunt Jane arrived on Sunday afternoon.  She got to join us for Easter dinner (roast, scalloped potatoes, green beans, rolls) and cake for dessert.  

The first picture below represents how they decorate Easter eggs in England (I think they dye them too, but this was what they do at school).  I went to the school and helped the kids decorate their eggs by gluing tissue paper all over them.  Savannah made a chick, Owen did a bird, and Weston did a hedge hog!  We tried anyway...