Monday, February 13, 2017

Scotland Story: First Impressions

We were so excited to hit the road and see the beautiful country of Scotland as a family. A fun vacation to CC is to be behind the wheel of a car, finding his way, navigating us from place to place.

We were all just overcome at the beauty and age of the buildings.

And then we made this turn down a small country road (according to the GPS) and spotted this fine fella. Evidently the grass was greener on the other side.

He had a found a hole through the fence and was chomping away.

My picture is blurry, but isn't he lovely? We just laughed and laughed at his bangs.

Literally. Everywhere you turn is beauty. This was just "a house." We were enjoying every minute of everything we saw.

Scotland is place of magic to me.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scotland Story: Getting There

Our Scottish adventure had begun! An early morning flight launched us to our first ever vacation in Europe as a family. I proudly wore my Campbell tartan scarf, my gift from my Clansman for Christmas.

Did I mention our flight schedule was long? We are REALLY close to Scotland, but it took a REALLY long time to get there. We were just happy to go.

Finally, in the wee hours of the night, we arrived in Edinburgh. We were so tired, but giddy to be there! We got there so late, CC planned for us to spend that first night somewhere near the airport. We got our rental car, which was SO much smaller than the picture. To fit 7 people in a car in that price range, there ended up being basically no trunk. So, we all had duffle bags under our feet and in our laps. I couldn't even see two of my kids. Then there was CC driving a stick shift on the "other" side of the road. We had absolutely no idea how to get to the hotel from the ever-intersecting highways (though we had downloaded maps and had a GPS in the car). Finally, he figured out the maze, we took the right exit, and we drove right up to the hotel. It was at that point that CC realized he had no idea how to get the car in reverse. I am grinning as I type this, but it truly wasn't funny at 2AM. We went inside the hotel, and the man at the desk said he had no idea how to put it in reverse either, but to just leave it where it was. Then Sweet Cheeks, who does this when she gets overly tired, vomited. We got into our rooms, which were about the size of office cubicles and absolutely crashed.

The next morning, I woke early and crept downstairs to read my Bible and have coffee while waiting on the others. Soon, my sweet husband and kids trickled down. We paid a nominal fee for a continental breakfast just so we wouldn't have to try to find breakfast (and put the car in reverse). I am certain we left the continental buffet completely stripped. My kids can put away some breakfast. Everyone was perfectly fine and happy after some sleep. And even cute! CC had gone online and searched for how to put the car in reverse. It seemed the search engine popped right up, indicating we weren't the first to misunderstand. We backed out and headed down the road to beautiful Inveraray!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Christmas in February

Merry Christmas! in February! I miss blogging. I miss hearing from my readers. I've just got a very full plate right now, since my work load shifted to full time. But I just don't want to give this blog up! So, here goes.

We finished school on a Thursday. Whew. Christmas parties were done. Classrooms were shut down for the break. CC and I had planned for this last Christmas before sending Firstborn to college that we would travel somewhere fun. We'd keep the budget small, which would mean awful flight schedules and basic hotels, but we wanted to do it. He desperately wanted to show them Scotland. And after seeing it for our anniversary, there was no place I'd rather go! Our flight left the Sunday after we got out of school. So, we had the little tiny window of Friday and Saturday for Christmas to celebrate before we left.

I have this very happy memory of this little day preparing for Christmas. Everyone needed presents for everyone. We'd been so busy with school and basketball and everything else, we had not really had time to prepare. So, CC drove us all down to the closest little mall. After shopping for about an hour, we left with just a few small things and a few big promises that, "I'll buy you a gift in Scotland!"

But it was so fun to see my kids thinking of each other. Sweet Cheeks and I only managed to find a giant Toblerone chocolate bar for CC. We just found nothing else for anyone. So, we went across the street and bought coffees!

...and she got something wonderful called a "New Year's Cake." Looks awfully Christmassy to me!

And on the way home, Firstborn mentioned she didn't want to leave Turkey without a Turkish teapot. So, her sisters had me stop in the grocery store and bought her one. No one spent too much, but they were just so thoughtful of one another.

Saturday morning, we had Christmas breakfast with egg casserole, birthday cake for Jesus (cinnamon rolls), and cheese grits. With wassail of course. I've been making that for Christmas all 20 years I've been married to him.

That theme of thoughtfulness carried over into our Christmas day. Twinkle had stayed up late the night before creating a hand-painted card with a beautiful letter for each of us.

The girls found their papa a lion mug, our school mascot.

Firstborn spotted some hedgehog house shoes. You do remember we had a "pet" hedgehog for a few hours. He ran laps on our balcony all night. We set him free...

And she made her sisters a shadow box collage of all their ticket stubs and souvenirs from their summer trip to NYC.

And just as we left Moscow last Spring, she spotted a little frame in the outdoor market. She bought it and made me a tiny memory box of our trip. The gifts were small, but very much from the heart. Christmas in Turkey has always been simple. And I love it that way.

That night Aunt B stopped by to deliver some gifts. Can you believe she found me a tiered dessert plate in Stockholm with a Scottish castle on it? Now that's thoughtful!

In the afternoon, I cleaned out my fridge of the fresh produce and veggies that would not keep while we were gone. We drove over to our new friends' house to see if they could use it. This was a family that we met while my Bible class delivered gifts for an outreach. I was happy my kids got to meet them as well.

That night, we quickly threw things into our bags. Our plane tickets were cheap, so we didn't have any checked bags. 10 days in Scotland with carry-ons! The Campbells can do it!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Winding Down Around Oasis

Any teacher reading this knows how crazy school gets right before Christmas! I treated my elementary Bible classes to a little Christmas party celebrating Jesus' birth. They were so cute. Here's my Pre-K and K class. They are from America, Korea, Rwanda, France, Italy, Turkey. 

In fact, all the classes have a Christmas party. There the true Christmas story is shared and lots of fun is planned. Here's our 2017 Senior class and sponsors with Firstborn in the front left. 

Firstborn's class went out to the soccer field to play "blob," a game of chase where you become one giant amoeba trying to catch the outliers. 

And now it's time for a break for all. We will begin back in early January! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Outreach

It just so happens that in my order of posts, this is coming up on Christmas Day! Merry Christmas to you!!!

This is my Middle School Bible class. I assigned a project to them to earn cash (any way they wanted) and purchase something for some needy families living in the village behind our school. We then took an afternoon off of school to deliver them. 

This sweet lady just kept telling the kids how cute they were, how sweet. Her daughter was home from school, sick. We found that the homes were about 3 rooms, with only one room heated. They kept that room blazing hot with the wood burning stove to try to heat the rest of the home. 

This home touched me the most. This dear lady was so welcoming. Her little girl has Downs Syndrome, which is a very shameful thing here, with the assumption that somehow Allah is judging her. We were given permission to pray for her and several of us did. The mother cried all during the prayer. One of my students prayed for her in Turkish, which touched me deeply. She said her little girl had never talked, so we asked specifically for that. 

Some of the homes had towels and rugs thrown over bare dirt floors. They had pillows stuffed in holes in the exterior walls. One boy saw us and immediately put his little hand over his eye and held it. Later I saw him without and realized he had some sort of sickness in his eye he didn't want us to see. So many needs. We can't meet them all, but we can meet some. Merry Christmas! The blessing this day was all mine. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Staff Christmas Party 2016

This year we got to host the staff Christmas party in our home. Our den is the same size as our old house, but a different shape. It's an "L." CC got it figured out how to get everyone in there. We brought in extra tables and put all the food in the kitchen to have maximum seating in the den. This little sweetie went out and hung lanterns and lit them with candles in the trees. 

She created a candle-lit path for our guests. 

When you host a party in Turkey, this is what the front door looks like! 

We don't re-think the party each year. We have guests bring appetizers and desserts. Usually, they go all out and bring treats that can't even be bought here (like pork or gourmet cheeses). We eat first. Then CC assigns the Biblical Christmas reading to those teachers who will not be returning next year. Then we sing Christmas hymns. It nice. It's worshipful. Then we do the traditional gift exchange, which always brings laughs. It's a great time to connect with each other amid the busy week before Christmas Break. We had 48 this year! What a party! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Final Stop Edinburgh

We woke that morning early, ate our breakfast, then began the drive back to Edinburgh for our flight home. We followed the GPS in the car, trusting "she" would not lead us wrong. We feel like she took us through a little bit of a wild goose chase. At one point, we pulled off to double check. I looked up and here was this centuries old church. Sigh. Let me take a picture, I'll be quick!

Our final hope was to attend St. Giles' Cathedral, where John Knox once preached. Because of our GPS routing, we got there just past the start of service times. We so wanted to attend. Tourists were peeking in the front door. CC dropped me off and went to go find parking. I slipped in the back, where there was a cafe. I said, "Please, is it too late for me to go in? I want to attend the service." They ushered me through the door and in I went. CC soon joined me.

Though we missed the start, we didn't miss the gift God had for us that day. The pipe organ and choir loudly proclaimed, "Be Thou My Vision," one of the oldest hymns and one that was played at our wedding. I knew that God had one last gift for us that day, and tears streamed down both of our faces. Coming from Turkey, this service was a gift for us.

The flowers that day? lilies. My wedding bouquet 20 years after our wedding.

All Praise to God! (I'll spare you a post about our return.... landing at 3AM, getting home and to bed at 5AM, up for work at 7AM. Lots of coffee that day, but it was worth it!) Thanks for sticking with me through my Scotland journey!

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