Monday, January 31, 2011

A Jolly Fox

As we were enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon, Leah looked out the window and expected to see this...
Our typical view of golfers on the green
However, when she looked down at the roofs of the garages behind our flat she saw this...
A red fox!
We have seen foxes on the golf course before, but never this close. After watching him sleep for a while, we knocked on our window and tried to wake him up.
He was a little hard to wake up...and then he yawned and just looked at us as if to say,"why did you wake me up?"
If only Oliver was here, it would be a real life fox and hound!
See you later!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Christmas Continues

I know what you're thinking....Christmas is over!  Oh, but isn't it Christmas in your heart all year long? is in mine!  I received a Christmas present yesterday that came as quite a surprise.  As I walked into school, the secretary said that she had something for me.  Now, I'm still learning the ins and outs of a private school, so I didn't understand as she told me that I would be receiving extra money in my paycheck this month.  You see, I have yet to receive a paycheck since I've started working at the school in November because of dreadful English paperwork, so I just assumed she meant that all the money I had earned since then would be in this months paycheck.  She then handed me a slip of paper explaining that an anonymous donor had given me an extra sum of money as a "Christmas thank you for my contribution to the school".  I know I had quite a confused look on my face so she explained that a parent had given an anonymous donation.  I was floored...this is something that just doesn't happen in the public school world in the USA!  I mean I've gotten some wonderful gift cards at Christmas but never just cash...and let's me honest, never have we needed it more!  I was so grateful for the giving spirit of an anonymous donor!

Speaking of Christmas, I came across some pictures that I wanted to share.  I helped to organize a Christmas Baking Party for the Newcomer's Club.  Although many cultures revel in the joys of baking, licking bowls and eating the goodness that's been pulled from the oven, there are some cultures that do not have baking as a part of their regular kitchen activities.  It was so fun to watch them create their own creations for the first time.

Putting together gingerbread houses is a fine art.
Making gingerbread men
My friend Katherine and me posing while our cookies bake.
Baking is fun!  Look at those smiles!
Showing off my mad decorating skills!
Most of the group with our finished products.
We then packaged up the goodies and sold them at our Newcomer's Christmas Coffee.  Half of the proceeds went back to the club while the other half benefited a local charity.
Merry Christmas!...last time until December 2011...I promise!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Visitors, London, and a Plane to Spain (in the rain)

The past couple of weeks have been a blur.  After my mom left, we were visited by the Rossers...Wynn, Manda, Aubrey and Cotton.  I think we all had our doubts as to whether the six of us could cram ourselves into our little flat, but it worked perfectly.  I am convinced that Wynn and Manda are the only two parents in the world with enough organization and structure to pull it off, and we had a blast showing them around Oxford.

Aubrey was ready to have some fun after the long plane ride

Cotton (a.k.a. Mailman) had no problem making himself right at home in our luxurious furniture

Unfortunately, many of the sights in Oxford were closed during their visit due to the University break and New Year holiday.  However, we managed to visit a couple of museums, attend evensong at Christ Church and find a couple of fun parks.

Aubrey at the Ashmolean Museum

Manda and Cotton at the Oxford Museum of Natural History

Leah even found time to make a new friend!

Family photo at the park near our flat

Cotton had a long day

After a couple of days in Oxford, we all headed to London to take in the big city.  This was a great chance for Leah and me to see some of the sights that we had missed in our previous trips.  After four months in our flat the highlight was definitely the big, comfortable bed courtesy of the London Hilton Park Lane!

The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

While the kiddos napped, Wynn and I checked out the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms

Our Beefeater tour guide at the Tower of London

I think the highlight of Cotton's trip was when he fed me his leftovers

Aubrey (with her official Royal crown) and Flat Stanley

After the Rossers headed back to Texas, Leah and I took an impulsive trip to Spain to meet up with the Andersons for three nights and get away from the English weather (or so we thought).  Jordan and Katie are some great friends we have made here in Oxford.  They are both Auburn grads and, just for the record, I am not at ALL jealous of their recent Alma mater's football success.  Really, I mean it, I am not jealous one single bit.

We stayed two nights in Seville and then headed down to the Costa del Sol for one night in Marbella.  Upon our arrival, we discovered that our trip was perfectly timed around the traditional Spanish celebration of Epiphany (or Three King's Day).  As a result, all of the sights in Seville were closed on our first day there.  As one staff member at the cathedral told Leah, "this is probably the worst day of the year to visit Spain."  However, we made the best of it and had a blast with Jordan and Katie.  Basically, we just walked around the empty streets, laughed, ate (mostly ham), and took in the local flavor.

I think these were the only other people out in the entire city of Seville

Orange trees were everywhere!

The Harrells and the Andersons

Flat Stanley at the Christopher Columbus monument

In our exploration of Seville, we stumbled upon the Plaza de EspaƱa (which, according to Jordan, was probably just some type of "municipal building").  To be honest, I still have no idea what it was but the tiled mosaics were awesome.

Did I mention we ate a lot of ham?

Our whole purpose of heading to Spain was to enjoy some sun on the Costa del Sol.  However, it rained the entire day we were there.  Our "day at the beach" ended up consisting of (1) running to the beach in the rain and taking the photo below, (2) eating a hamburger with some local fisherman at the "snack shack", and (3) napping and playing cards in our five star accommodations (which was also empty).  Regardless of the weather we still had a great time with our great friends from Auburn (who, by the way, I am not jealous of).

Costa del No Sol (with Leah mustering the best smile she can in the rain)