Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labour Day Weekend

In America, this Saturday, Sunday and Monday constitute Labor Day Weekend.  This typically means a three day holiday.  The Smith family is lucky enough to be spending time with my England relatives in Woodland, which has meant swimming, hiking, snacking, chatting and peace.  All of today's relaxation left me with one question. Why do we celebrate Labor Day?  I hopped onto the US department of Labor's website and found the following answer.

"Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

That sounds reasonable, but is it true?...

My feet.  The kids playing in the pool.  That rock party to the right is a beautiful waterfall with a slide and there are even some ledges for leaping off of.

Lunch at one of Jeannette's favorite restaurant's in Park City. Viva Mexico!

Good looking family members.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Wolf

Some times daily events happen that bug me. Let's use, just as a hypothetical example: finding blueberry muffin mix in it's opened bag, spilled out onto the counter, being used as a sweet powder snack, with it's box missing... At this point I have two options: I can get mad, and then that mad makes me more mad at other things until I am just so mad that I might explode, or I can remain calm and take deep breaths, and say a prayer for peace, and count to twenty to relax my pulse.  One route is easy and usually causes dissapointment in myself, and the other route requires much more effort but usually yields far superior results.  Thinking things over today reminded me of one of my favorite poems:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 
He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance

self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, 
benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

"The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 
"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Which wolf did you feed today?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Missing Edinburgh

Tonight,  Edinburgh keeps floating in my mind.  Here are a few items that I am missing:

- Tiger Bread.  The cheap french bread style loaf here is rubbish.  It is soft and pillowy and entirely unsubstantial.  It makes me sad to eat it.  Yes, I know how to make french bread, but I sure enjoyed grabbing excellent bread at any Scottish supermarket, and banking on the fact that it would be worth every pence it cost.

- Walking along the canal.  How close it was to our home! How peaceful it was watching the ducks eat the bread that Owen and I used to feed them.

- Renting.  Now, don't get me wrong here, the owner of our flat was politely overbearing, entered a few times while we were home by using her key (crazy!), and added a little bit of nuts to our time in Scotland, but I miss the rental lifestyle of being at peace with all parts of the house. With only suitcases to unpack and being able to call it home.  I miss no pining to paint or repair or refurnish.  It was lovely just living there, without the distractions of being the owner.

- My printer.  I can't find the printer cable that will magically convert that waste of space on my kitchen desk into a thing that homework requires.

- My friends.  Over the year, I made some lovely friends both in the church and mums of my children's friends. Some people I got to know pretty well, while others I just ran short on time and our paths crossed too late for me to fully discover their awesomeness.

- My husband.  Ryan is back in Edinburgh to tie up some loose ends at work, finish out his contract, work on his PHD, etc. I miss him... and tiger bread.

Here is what tiger bread looks like.  I love the name. I love how it looks. I love the taste. It is bril.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The College Drop Off

Two family members were dropped off today. Ryan/ Dad is on a plane as we speak headed to Edinburgh to finish up some work before returning in the not so near future (October - Yikes!) I know that his absence will make our hearts grow fonder, certainly not forgetful.  A Ms. Jordon Coleman was also dropped off at the BYU student dorm, Carrol hall.  I am excited to hear about all of her adventures.  All day, I couldn't help but have the book "Oh the Places You'll Go" stuck in my mind.  Jordon Coleman... you're going to do great!

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the gal who'll decide where to go.

Right in front of her new BYU home.

They had the all the girl's names on the door.

A little back to school shopping.  You can see the fruit, but I promise we also grabbed raman and mac n cheese.  This is college after all.

Shopping makes us hungry.

Annie's first soccer practice.  Her coach is fab and she knows many of the girl's on her team. Lucky!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Temple Video

Ground Breaking News! (at least for me due to my recent adventures in Scotland): The new LDS Temple audio visual presentation (aka movie) is totally awesome, fantastically amazing, and such a welcome change. I, along with others that I know, have been praying for an updated version of  the audio visual that was made in the 80's.  I know that I might be carrot dangling to individuals who have not seen it yet, or haven't been to the temple in a while for personal reasons.  But seriously, make any effort necessary to partake of the goodness that can be found inside the House of the Lord.  As most of you know, the goings on inside temples are considered sacred (not secret, as some might think.) But because of it's sacred nature, the best way to discover what happens inside the temple is to join the team (aka, baptism :~) and then check it out for yourself!  I welcome any questions, comments, and /or concerns about the temple.  What I lack in information, I can make up for in sincerity.  The new presentation is a game changer, a giant leap for man/woman kind.  It was basically epic.

There are 141 operating LDS temples, 15 under construction, and 14 new temples have been announced. Because heavenly Father wants all of His children to have the chance to go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School

Today all 5 of my children went to school today. It was a day.  Many of them had a wonderful day.  As for me, my day started with a dropped cell phone (screen looks like a spider web!) and ended with 5 stitches (pictures below.)  Today got two thumbs down.  It makes me sad that some of my kids had a crummy start to this year.  The best thing about tomorrow is that it won't be today.

Calvin - 6th, Simon - 4th, Annie - 2nd, and Owen - Kinder, at Muir Elementary School.  We talked Simon out of the Hawaiian shirt, but think the kilt, sporran and basketball high tops went nicely.

Owen's first day of big-boy school, pictured with his great pal, Cedric.  Peas and Carrots.  
Preston snuck out of the house before the camera emerged, but he also went to school today.  Hello to 9th grade for him!

Here come the stitches.  
Weapon of choice: butter knife. Task: cutting through cardboard.

5 stitches. Too bad it isn't close to Halloween.
Lindsey out.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stair Way to Heaven

A member of the bishopric announced that the intermediate hymn would be a solo sung by a young woman in the ward.  He said the song would be "Because I Have Been Given Much, which is basically the equivalent of "Stairway to Heaven" for hymns"... my goodness, it's nice to be back!

Owen brushing his teeth before church.

We had dinner tonight at the England's.  Uncle Todd was kind enough to show the kids his sweet cars. Owen looks so happy... it probably reminds him of the minivan we just bought:~)

Calvin is about to check on the flux capacitor. 

So wondrful to see my grandpa tonight. 


Today was started in maybe the best way possible: a kind neighbor welcomed us back with some Einstein Bagels. I love me some great bagels! Today went well (albeit slowly) from there.  We did indeed find a car and are now the proud owners of a charcoal grey Honda Odyssey. Buying a car is certainly not fun, but I am so very grateful that our hunting was successful.  A trip to Ikea finished the day for us.  When we left Utah last fall, we pitched, sold, and donated loads of furniture.  Now that we are home, low quality, price-is-right furniture is just what the doctor ordered.  Seriously though, I am super excited to have it all assembled and ready for use.  Only 1 more day till school starts, and only 4 more days with Ryan in the States. Boo-hoo.

My new car!  I wanted to lay on top of it in a bikini, like all of those legit car magazines,  but I don't own a bikini and the car was hot as it's summer.

I kea with Jordan!

Ryan loading "DIY" furniture into the van. 

The bunk bed for Owen and Simon.  We opened the boxes up and were like 
Q:   "!@#$%^&*()... how long is this going to take to assemble?!
A:  About 2.5 hours.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Car Crazy

All I really want is an SUV with the trunk space of a minivan without the 3 foot extension that makes me a bus driver (not a mom) but with the sliding doors of a minivan, 8 passenger... Or... a minivan with the roomy space and comfy seats of an SUV. Some dealer actually started attempting to discuss the logistics and costs associated with manufacturing my ideas.  "Don't sidetrack me with logic!", I declared. I can go into Burger King and get a burger for $.99, and have it done "my way" as their motto states. But when it comes to paying thousands of dollars, now I need to make concessions?  That doesn't make a lick of sense, and we all know it. Even, and maybe especially, that car dealer dude.

Cars, cars everywhere and not a car to buy.

This is what I would like to drive if I were headed to a hot stone Swedish massage.

Gettin It done!

Today much good was accomplished.  I didn't yell once.  I didn't cry either.  I showered.  I meditated on the complexities of life.  I registered my younger 4 for school at Muir, and all of them were placed into classes with fab teachers.  Calvin is in 6th grade and has a new teacher, Van Hofften.  Simon is with Mrs. Chritensen (who happens to be the mother of one of Calvin's best friends.) Annie is with Mrs. Campbell and has a Chinese teacher as well.  Owen is with Mrs. E and is also in a split class that will learn for half the day in English, and the other half will be spent with his Chinese teacher.  I can't pronounce their Chinese teachers names, much less attempt to spell them, but I believe it is going to be a good year.  No car yet (just driving around in a rental.) But we did get cell phones, which means that I now know the time, and can make calls.  In Edinburgh, we were using pay as you go phones, which meant that all of my calls were as fast and as efficient as possible.  Ryan called me today whilst I was doing school registration stuff just to chat. Can you imagine talking on a cell phone just for fun with your spouse?!  It was such a turn on!

Open house was tonight. This is Owen with his English kinder teacher.

Calvin and his friend Cody at Muir Open House.

I'm chatting with my twin on my phone during normal business hours.  I love being in similar time zones.

**** This post is for Thursday, August 22nd, 2013****

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Homeward Bound

Finally headed back home today. Not just to the United States, but to Bountiful, Utah.  In true Smith fashion, we didn't do a direct flight from Raleigh to SLC, but stopped in Arizona to catch a connecting flight to Zion.  I finally heard Preston admit that he is totally sick of flying and doesn't want to get into another plane for at least 10 years.  We'll see how long he sings that tune:~) I for one, hope to never fly with this much luggage ever again, and must give 17 points to Ryan for being the writer, director and producer of not only the travel agenda, but of the whole Scotland affair.  I could have never managed this year without his organization, vision and passionate kisses. We are SOOOO glad to be home!

Saying goodbye to our NC family at the Raleigh airport.  We are taking a niece, Jordan, with us back to SLC and in a week she heads off to BYU.

We like spending our time with our NC family, but the NC mosquitos loved spending time with us.  During the Phoenix layover, I found some anti-itch cream and slathered it all over our itchy crew.

Salt Lake International airport!  OUr dear friends Amy Engar and Amy Hunter picked us up, both with their minivans.  It was a lovely reunion!  The chauffeured is back to our home, and even had ready a tasty dinner of fish tacos, watermelon, and chips and salsa, and ding dong cake.  Even more surprising was that several neighbors and ward friends had chipped in to stock our pantry and fridge, just to get us through these next few days of chaos whilst we try to buy a car, get phones, etc. What a surprise! I love surprises! Loads of neighbors also showed up to welcome us back and to help us unload our shizzazz from our garage. 

A very well crafted and attractive welcome sign, 3' X 7'.  I will keep it up for at least a month.

Let the unpacking madness begin... tomorrow.

**** This post is for Wednesday, August 21st, 2013****

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The End of the Road

It looks like the roller coaster is coming to a stop tomorrow, 5:30pm Mountain Standard Time, when we land in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The year in a nutshell: Driving on the "other" (aka "wrong") side of the road, Edinburgh Napier University, missionary discussions, the Gooch's, Tynecastle Nursery School, Craiglockhart Primary School, Boroughmuir Secondary School, Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, 85 Colinton Road, Asda, YM/YW, Street Dance - Simon,  Basketball  - Calvin, Chinese - Annie, EFY and Temple Week - Preston,  Owen - Sylvia, Pageant, the baptism of a Ms. Jade Herriot, Stirling, Inverness, London, Holland, Italy, Tesco, Gorgie Farm, Harrison Park, Bar Italia Restaurant, Anne Runnals, haggis, neeps and tatties, Ironbru... and a few valleys amongst the peaks of the year that never made it to the blog, and most likely won't ever escape our lips.  Life can be very hard, even in Scotland:~)

And lest any of you get the idea that life is going to go back to "normal" shortly, Here's whats on tap for the next 7 days: Fly the seven of us (plus a niece, Jordan, who's headed to BYU!) and our 29 pieces of luggage into Utah. Unpack a house. Buy a car. Get cell phones, and internet.  Register the 5 kids for school. Do the back to school supply shopping.  Drive Jordon to Provo, and even return Ryan to the airport.  He's headed back to Scotland for two more months to finish up his contract. Normal? Normal is boring.

Brandon and Tassie live right outside this fantastic city park.  We walked along this lovely forest trail down to the lake to play on the paddle boats.  The walk was long enough that a drinking fountain was a welcome site. owen loved the short fountain, obviously intended for dogs.

A picture of many of the cousins that were there.

Safety first!

We had a great picnic lunch, and then played at the park after.

Grandpa, Preston, and Jordon decided to take a little nap whilst the littles played.
Our park venture was followed by swimming at our hotel pool, pizza and ice cream back at Brandon's, and lots of chatting and trying to maximize every minute together. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Traveling to North Carolina

Today we left DC and traveled to NC by Amtrak train.  It was a bitter sweet experience.  The scenery was wonderful from the windows of the train car, we got to talk with Ryan's parents and connect more, but the trip was 1+ hour longer than was expected making for a very tired, impatient group.  We arrived in NC safely to be greeted by family.  Brandon, Ryan's brother, and Tassi, his wife and their children live in Cary where we got off the train.  Tiff (Ryan's sister) and Todd, her husband, and their kids live in Burlington, an hour away from Cary and they came down to meet us as well.  Jaron (Ryan's youngest brother) and Shelly, his wife, are in town as well on vacation.  Tonight's BBQ at Brandon and Tassi's was wonderful.  We will have a mini-reunion tomorrow and then leave on Wednesday morning for Salt Lake City with Tiff and Todd's oldest, Jordan, with us as she prepares to attend BYU in Provo this coming term.

We love our family!

All 25 bags made it on the train departing Union Station in DC despite the restrictions such as no "cooking pans" and non-clothing items. ? What?  So we carried those on.

Kids eating a nutritious lunch of ramen noodles. One of their favorites thus far, go figure.

Preston and Cal had a bit more sense and ordered sandwiches and crisps (now we are in US, I meant chips)

Owen is not a dummy.

Ryan working on the train next to a hibernating lady who spent the majority of the trip under her shawl.

Ironically enough, the street our hotel is on in Cary, NC is Edinburgh Drive.  What the what!  We already miss Aul Reeky.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday in DC

I believe that what we spent on cabs today could fund a small country for a year. In reality, the church meeting house in DC and the DC temple visitor's center, are located in the middle of nowhere, and aren't especially close to each other, or close to our hotel, or close to any of the destinations we wanted to visit. That being said, we were able to tick off some of the last things on our to-do list because of those crazy cab fares: Sacrament meeting, DC temple, Arlington Cemetery, Lincoln Monument, Vietnam Memorial, and dinner at 5 Guys (we are on vacation after all, and have to eat somewhere:~) Today was fun, but we simply can't wait to see our NC family tomorrow. And no planes tomorrow, just a train: Choo choo.

Going to church in the nations capitol. 

Eating Subway at the visitors center, with the statue of Christ behind the glass.

We were lucky enough to view this fantastic art exhibit by painter Rose Dall about the early years of the Savior. The pictures were stunning. 

So lucky to have Ryan's parents, Ed and Linda with us.  Families are forever!

My five in front of the DC Temple.

Preston at Arlington.

The most famous JFK quote found at his gravesite.

We watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  It was beautiful.

Smith's on the bridge over the Potomac River.

Honest Abe!

Simon slurping down some evil fizzy drink. Blast, my kids love soda!