Saturday, 30 October 2010


On the 5th of September, Ethan was confirmed at All Saints Episcopal Church, Bearsden, Scotland. He stood before his family and his church community to profess his faith and his willingness to dig deeper in his relationship with God.

I know we are suppose to be humble, but this mama was PROUD. And tearful. I can remember my own confirmation so it seems surreal to me that Ethan is old enough to be confirmed. Our new bishop is extremely warm and he made the service one to remember.

Ethan, you stand firmly in your faith when the world challenges you otherwise. You love others as Christ loves us and you always stand for the Truth. May God continue to bless you in this wonderful journey we call life.

Friday, 29 October 2010


So birthday season at our house is always busy. Because beginning on August 3rd, we have a birthday every two weeks until the first of October. So it's parties, cake, dinners, special outings, and more cake! Fun, fun and more fun! This year we even squeezed in one more special thing that I'll tell you about in my next post. But for now, it's the birthday pics!

I've already told you about how special Christopher's day was! Man, what a thrill to go to the Porsche races on your 9th birthday! We are so thankful it was such a fantastic day!

Christopher, we are constantly amazed at you sweet boy. You are tender, funny, smart, intuitive, kind, sporty, hard working, an adoring little brother and a thoughtful big brother, and you are always there with a hug. The sparkle in your eyes could light up a room and we never tire of seeing your smile! We are so proud of you and we love you. Happy Happy 9th Birthday!

I happened upon a box of Lucky Charms at Lupe's Deli and thought I would splurge for the 4 birthday boys (it was 12 dollars)! Even the big boy had breakfast that morning. And I was surprised to see that the box was not finished for at least a week. (Sometimes I think the idea of sugar cereal is better that the real thing!)

And Ethan. How can it be? 12 YEARS OLD. Seriously, how can it be? We celebrated your birthday at Jamie Oliver's Italian Cafe and you loved it! You want to be a chef and so food and it's source and preparation are your passion. AND I LOVE sharing the kitchen with you! What a treat that is for this momma that spends most of her time preparing food!

Ethan you are patient, kind, generous, smart, interesting, a leader, focused and you are a fantastic oldest brother! You are a good friend and a pleasure to be around. You are loved and we are so very proud of you too. Happy, happy 12th birthday!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Clan Nicol

While the boys and I were in the USA this summer, Scott decided to do a little exploring. He'd recently learned that the Nicol Clan originated in the NW islands off the coast of Scotland; a place called the Outer Hebrides. It's remote, and a bit of a challenge to get to. But it was worth it and he did it on crutches!

As you can see from the pictures (which Scott says do not do the islands justice), the scenery is stunning. The beaches are wide, the ocean is clear, the grass is so vividly green and the houses/villages few and far between.

Scott spent a long weekend driving around, taking in the sites, visiting with his pub mates and he also stopped in at the Nicolson Institute. Because this trip was last minute, he'd not done any research on his family tree and therefore did not find out much information about his specific family. Nevertheless, I think he enjoyed the time away and this is a part of Scotland that he highly recommends.

For more info on the Nicol Clan, see the following:

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Best Birthday Ever

On Christopher's actual birthday, Scott took Chris and Ethan to a Porsche race that he'd been invited to by a vendor. Little did we know that this would prove to be such a family friendly day. The race car driver, George Richardson, is 18 years old. He is super friendly and he had all the time in the world for the boys. His little brother, Jack, is Ethan's age and is George's personal assistant. Christopher and Ethan spent lots of time with Jack while Scott was in the pits. What a cool job he has!

The boys and Scott ate breakfast and lunch with George and his whole family and they were made to feel a part of the team. They had the opportunity to see every part of this sport and they couldn't have had a better day! Christopher told Scott at some point during the day, "this is the best birthday ever!!"

George sent the boys official shirts that he autographed and they are forever fans. Go #28 go!!!

School Days

Well, we are way past the first day of school for the 2010/2011 school year; so I guess better late than never with this post!

Ethan started senior school this year and absolutely LOVES it. He loves the flexibility, the change of teachers and classes, the mix up of students in each class, the clubs (Debate Society, Cooking Club, Brass Group, Concert Band, and Sax Ensemble), and the sport. There is much expected of pupils in this school and he has risen to the task. Long may it continue! Ethan is also fencing 2 nights a week and so he stays very busy.

Christopher is in Prep 5 this year. Prep 5 is the year that the students from the other 2 campuses join the main campus and therefore the classes mix up and there are many new students. It is also the beginning of the second half of prep school when the children are given a little more responsibility. He continues to study hard and to develop his friendships. Prep 5 is also the year that required games begin and Chris was surprised at how much he likes rugby! He has joined the sports club, plays guitar and soccer after school.

Charlie is in Prep 2. He has the same teacher that Ethan had our first year here and so that has been fun. (The teachers at the academy move around throughout the prep school from time to time) Charlie loves to do his homework and he concentrates very hard at school. He plays tennis after school and he loves having his "own" activity.

This school has been such a blessing and we are thankful everyday for this foundation.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Scottish MacNicols

According to Wikipedia, an expatriate is "a person temporarily or permanently residing in country or culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence." Expatriate - also known as "ex-pat."

When Scott accepted the job in Scotland, people often asked how long it would be. His contract is open ended but we always replied "3 to 5 years." This was a stab in the dark really. We had/have no idea how long we'd live abroad.

It's been three years. Three years of THIS adventure. Three years of learning, stretching, settling, expanding, laughing, crying, and LIVING.

And it has flown by.

This has been an experience of a lifetime. It has not been without challenges but we are definitely better for the opportunity. We have made life long friends, we have learned to jump in feet first, we have become flexible in a way that is only afforded to you when you move out of every comfort zone, and we have learned to rely on one another. We are closer as a family than we were 3 years ago. And for that, we are truly grateful.

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." ~ Helen Keller

The other night during dinner, we asked 4 questions about our experience and here are the answers:

Things we've learned while living abroad:
  • Even though the Scots speak English, it's a whole different culture!
  • The weather is rubbish, but you just get on with it
  • Try new food, or go hungry
  • Flexibility
  • Value experience vs. things
  • I can go anywhere in the world and make friends ~ people are people
  • It's fun and interesting to learn about other people and their day to day
  • Our worldview has matured

Things we love about Scotland:
  • Skate parks
  • Being able to travel more
  • Countryside 10 minutes from our door
  • The people and their humour
  • Artistic culture
  • Kinder to the environment than we were in Texas
  • Organic Farming - accessibility of local meat, dairy, fish and produce! EAT LOCAL.
  • Amazing School
  • City living - lots to do
  • Appreciation of the US from a different perspective
  • Fencing, rugby, tennis, European football, cricket
  • Wellies
  • Country Parks
  • Brilliant scenery around every bend
  • Old Architecture

Things we find quirky about Scotland:
  • Glaswegian accents
  • New slang
  • Swearing
  • Banking
  • Football that leads to crime
  • Really bad radio
  • European Appliances - especially lack of a disposal
  • Lack of interest in creature comforts
  • Stereotypical British Food - Yuk

Things we miss in the USA:
  • Family and friends
  • Missy
  • Mexican Food
  • Sunshine
  • More space
  • Baseball and American Football
  • BBQ in shorts and t-shirt, not woolly knickers
  • Customer service
  • Convenience
As you can see, it has been quite a ride. Thank you for encouraging us and for coming along on the journey with us! Blessings flow.

"A man who carries a cat by his tail learns something he can learn in no other way." ~ Mark Twain

"Life must be understood backwards; must be lived forward." ~ Soren Kierkegaard

***Disclaimer: Get a cup of coffee, tea, or a glass of wine; this slide show is ridiculously long. It was hard to edit 3 fabulous years into something manageable. We do not expect you to watch but wanted to preserve the memories for the boys.

6 already? How can it be?

Charlie turned 6 a few days after we returned from our summer holidays. Really, how can it be that our baby is 6 years old? We celebrated on the day with a visit to one of our favourite places, the Cairnie Fruit Farm. And then Charlie had mini golf party a few weeks later.

Charlie, you are the exclamation point in our family. You are:
  • Full of life
  • Clever beyond measure
  • Funnier than funny
  • Cute as can be
  • Charming
  • Tender hearted
  • a leader in your classroom
  • a good friend
  • and an adoring little brother!
We all love you more than you know! Happy, Happy 6th Birthday.

Birthday Breakfast.

Cairnie Farm - picking strawberries and enjoying the outdoor park

Great friends and a fun morning whacking the golf ball!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Nicol Time

No trip to California would be complete without a visit with Great Grandma Nicol!

With tear filled eyes fter 2 fantastic weeks in Mammoth, we to the San Francisco Bay area for a visit with Great Grandma Nicol. Scott's paternal grandmother lives in Fairfield, California. And Fairfield is home to the Great American Jelly Belly! Yipee, Yahoo. Two treats in one day. GG Nicol and the Jelly Belly Factory.

Scott dropped the boys and I off at Jelly Belly Lane so that he could have a quiet visit with Grandma before we arrived. And the boys and I toured the factory, which we highly recommend, and bought our fair share of the treats! Loaded up on sugar, we then went to Grandma's house for pizza and a visit.

The boys always remember their visits to see her and to us, this time together is priceless. Scott measured the boys on the same door frame that he, his siblings and cousins were measured throughout the years. I love these simple family memories. And the boys love the tradition of the visit. Great Grandma and Aunt Mary Marcha, we look forward to our next trip to Fairfield.

Next stop, Danville, CA. This is close to Scott's surgeon's house and to Aunt Alison and Uncle John. So we spent the night in a hotel, and woke the next morning to have quick visits with Dr. Ian, Aunt Alison and Uncle John. Dr. Ian said Scott looked great and therefore gave him the OK to travel back to Scotland.

The boys also remember well their trips to see John and Alison. John always spoils them with tromps around his garden and Alison with treats galore. Such a fun time and a great tradition on our visits to California. Thank you again John and Alison. Now it's your turn to come and see us!

Our last stop in the good ole USA, San Francisco. Always a crowd pleaser. Ethan had requested clam chowder in a bread bowl so that was our main mission for the afternoon. We had a terrific lunch at the pier and then headed to China Town. The sights, smells and crowds are always something to take in.

Scott was such a trooper and the rest of us sure looked like dad/husband abusers as we dragged him all through the hilly neighbourhoods.

After China Town, we stopped in at the Cable Car Museum. I found it fascinating and I think the children learned from it as well. It is always nice to learn how something works.......

and then to immediately use it. It's well worth the stop if you are in SF. The cable cars are an institution!

Check out the above link if you are curious about how the cars work.

And to finish off our trip in SF, we met cousins Brett, Ashley and Janice for a seafood dinner. It was fun to catch up and we promise to let you pick the location for our next dinner! (wish I had photos from that night...)

Next stop, Glasgow.