Closing Down

Many thanks to you faithful people out there who have checked this blog regularly hoping for an update. It has become clear to us for a variety of reasons over the last several months that maintaining this blog is no longer a good option for us. And, rather than stringing you on indefinitely, it seemed best to let you know that we’re officially closing down shop.

As an alternative for any who would like to keep up-to-date with us, we hope to produce an occasional (fingers crossed!) email/picture update. We realize it’s not quite as convenient, and maybe not as fun as checking a blog, but if you’re interested in receiving these updates, please either let us know by leaving a comment here on the blog or emailing us directly at cjbechtel04@yahoo.com.


Well, despite how it appears (since we haven’t blogged for almost three months) things are going remarkably smoothly around here with two kiddos. Smooth, if you don’t count the fact that we’ve been struck with one virus after the next almost consecutively for the last two months, which would probably account for why blogging has fallen to the bottom of our priority list. (Let’s face it, though, it was never very close to the top! :))

Anyway, for those who are anxious for an update, Eliza is doing very well–she’s a happy and generally really easy baby which has made for a very smooth transition into to the family. Julian continues to be ecstatic about her. We couldn’t be more grateful for God’s kindness to us in giving us these children.

Our days are very full with Christopher working hard on his thesis, doing bioethics one day a week and preaching occasionally. I am, as you might expect, a little busier at home. I was recently thinking to myself that I used to clean my house in order to have it clean, but right now, it feels like I clean my house so that I know it has been cleaned. I guess that’s important, though, right? 🙂 Despite having more to do on the home-front, I have still found time to keep up with some of my little jobs. I really like being able to break out of mommy-mode for a little bit each day/week and use a different part of my brain for a while.

Here are a couple of photos as proof that we still exist:

Not sure why this picture is quite so large, but I don’t have time to fix it now…

Self-Taken Family Shots are getting harder and harder!!

Eliza Rose

Born at 1.52pm on 16 Aug 2010, only four minutes after we arrived at the hospital.  We thank God for his kindness.

Catching up on rest, three hours after birth

Heading for home, six hours after birth

One day old

Holiday Part 2

After our western Scottish holiday, we managed an equally short but sweet trip to the north of England.  When Enterprise has rental deals cheaper than what you’d pay to own a car for three days and when relatives have traveled over 6000 miles, what else could we do?  Again, thanks to the hospitality of people we’d never met (relatives of relatives), we enjoyed one night in the seaside town of Whitehaven.  The next day we poked around the iconic Lake District and stayed the night in the 18th century Barton House B&B where the caretaker seemed about as old and full of character as the B&B.  Our little jaunt concluded with a scenic drive on the backroads of Northumberland where we met the longest, straightest, hilliest stretch of road any of us (Julian included) had ever seen.  It’s really too bad this blog can’t share the thrills of those hills. They were roller-coaster caliber, the kind that throw your stomach into your throat as you unexpectedly crest one hill and plummet down another.  And, yes, we were safe.

The view from our first night's lodgings. That's the Irish Sea in the background.

At Whitehaven Harbour with Uncle Aldie and Aunt Bev

First stop in the Lake District was Keswick, home of the Cumberland Pencil Museum. Not sure we'll ever use pencils again, chum.

Traffic stopped for several minutes because ol' Bessie and her family tried to cross the road.

Typical scenery in the Lakes...when the sun was out

Our water taxi on the lake called Ullswater. Not 'Ullswater Lake'; just Ullswater.

From the boat

In front of Barton House, our B&B. Looks like Uncle Aldie has assumed the professor's stance. And, it also looks like Julian is a delinquent student.

Lingering over the full English breafast...it wasn't IHOP, but it wasn't bad either

On the journey back to Scotland we passed this 12th century church.

A 14th century castle turned posh hotel with peacocks (!) roaming the grounds. See http://www.langleycastle.com for more.

This hut is not very old, but it stands on the site of a Celtic settlement dating from about 300 AD.

Yep, those hills in Northumberland were a blast.

At the Scottish border looking toward Edinburgh. Looks a bit ominous!


You know you’re not in Kansas when a) you go to T.K. Maxx to buy a muffin tin and b) you leave T. K. Maxx with a Yorkshire pudding pan because it was half the price and slightly better quality than the muffin pan.

What's the difference?

Loch Fyne

They say it’s all about whom you know. We’d humbly like to disagree.  We recently spent a brief holiday, er, vacation, on the shores of Loch Fyne thanks (in part) to people we’ve never met.  To prove the truism, though, if it weren’t for people we know who know people that we don’t, we never would have made it.  As it is, after three hours on the road, including a good twenty minutes on a single-track road with the occasional pull-out, we arrived at a whitewashed cottage with an unobstructed view of calm water and relished two days of no email, no buses, no diesel fumes, fragrant roses, time to read, friends, savory food, and so on.

The route

The cottage

The view

After crashing his car, Juian tries to escape. That top wire is barbed...talk about desperation!

A brief jaunt to a nearby town.

Doesn't the smiley-face utterly compel you to keep the sidewalks clean?

We do things differently in Scotland...

In mid-May we enjoyed a weekend visit from our friends Wes and Steph up in St. Andrews.  The weather was particularly lovely so we decided to take a little trip down into the Borders for a day hike.   As always, it was wonderfully refreshing to get out of the city and enjoy a bit of nature.

This backpack shot is getting quite popular.

It took Julian a while to get used to this pokey pasture grass, but he eventually came to terms with it.

After our hike and a little drive around the countryside, we stopped in the little Borders town of Peebles for some ice cream cones.  It was a first for Julian who wasn’t sure at first if he liked ice cream and ultimately decided he preferred the cone.  Whose son is he, anyway?!?

The aftermath

We decided to kick off the month of June with a celebratory picnic in a nearby park.  We had enjoyed gorgeous weather all week and decided on Saturday night that a good old-fashioned picnic was in order.  I spent most of the afternoon preparing barbecued chicken, baked beans, tabbouleh, corn on the cob, etc.

About half an hour before we headed off on our excursion, we were a little chagrined to see some rather ominous looking clouds move in from the west.  Not to be put off, however, we ventured forward, wishing the clouds away all the time.  We were encouraged when we got to the park, to find it packed with other picnickers–surely there is strength in numbers, right?  I felt confident that our collective will would be sufficient to hold off the rain, at least until our picnic was over.  My confidence quickly melted as we sat down on our blanket and instantly felt the first large, full drops of rain.  Thankfully, I had thought to throw some umbrellas in our bags and we quickly pulled them out to help us stay dry.  The rain got heavier and heavier.  Apparently we were the only picnickers that evening who had thought to pack umbrellas amongst their picnic items and the park quickly cleared completely.  We were the lone survivors in the field, sitting stubbornly under our umbrellas, determined not to let even the worst rain storm ruin our picnic.

Christopher kindly shared his umbrella with Julian which also meant he had a steady stream of water dripping down his back.

I stayed nice and dry under my umbrella. The trouble is, it's a bit of a challenge to eat picnic food with one hand.

After twenty minutes or so of steady downpour, we finally realized that maybe this wasn’t just a passing cloud and we reluctantly began to pack up our lovely picnic.  We rung out our picnic blanket and packed up our Tupperware containers which had become efficient little rain collectors–our chicken bones were now swimming.  On our walk home, the streets had sprouted veritable rivers and by the time we reached the front door, we were all thoroughly soaked.

Arriving back home, dripping wet.

Julian was determined to enjoy his first corn on the cob, which he gnawed on all the way home.

Our picnic ended with Julian in the bath while Christopher and I finished our salad from the dry comfort of our home, watching the rain continue to pour down.


On Thursday we said goodbye to Christopher’s mom after a wonderful week-and-a-half long visit.  We had a great time together with lots of site-seeing, talking and “grandma-time”.  Julian was, of course, thrilled to have a real-live grandma (as opposed to a Skype-grandma) to play with him and read to him.

The highlight of her time with us was probably the trip we made up to the Isle of Skye for two nights at a B&B.  Not only was the six hour drive thoroughly enjoyable as we viewed the wild and varied scenery of the Scottish Highlands, but the Isle itself is breathtakingly beautiful.  Here are a few shots of our time there–if only pictures could do it justice!

Neist Point Lighthouse in the background

We saw LOTS of these

Julian at the Neist Point Lighthouse

"Excavating" a 2000 year old dwelling on the northern coast of Skye

Boats at Portree Harbour

After a satisfying dinner of fish and chips

We have welcomed spring into our lives with open arms.  Edinburgh has erupted with vast expanses of beautiful daffodils.  And, we in the Bechtel household have been busy.  Last Saturday we bid farewell to our cozy, fourth-floor home of the last 19 months and moved into a new ground-floor flat with a little more elbow room and leg room for the budding walker in our midst.  The new flat has been wonderful and we’re starting to feel at home here now that most of our things are unpacked and (roughly) in their proper place.  To be honest, we’ve felt a little lost in here at times–not that it’s so very big, just that it’s so much bigger than our last place!

The only thing that is not an improvement on the last place is the fact that we have downsized our refrigerator size.  We were lucky in our last flat to have a fairly large refrigerator/freezer for this part of the world.  Nothing like an American sized-fridge, mind you, but roomy all the same.  Now we have traded that in for a true dorm-sized fridge that fits under the counter.  That I can certainly deal with.  What I was not sure about was the fact that the flat came with NO freezer.  I realize, again, that’s not that strange for this part of the world, but I just wasn’t sure I was ready to adopt this culture quite so completely.  As idyllic as it may sound, shopping every single day for the food one needs just for that day, is not my idea of a fun way to spend time, energy or money.  I really like being able to plan ahead, prepare food ahead and stock up on sale items to store in the freezer.  So, after nearly a week of experimentation, I decided a freezer was not a luxury I was interested in living without.  I had a little box freezer delivered yesterday from our local used furniture store and it is now humming away happily in the corner of our bedroom.  (No, it doesn’t quite fit anywhere in the kitchen.  Oh well.)

In slightly over a week in our new home, we’ve already enjoyed visits from many people, not least of whom were a group from the Covenant High School tour group last Thursday including friends, one family member and some former high school teachers. 🙂  We had a lovely time reconnecting with them.  Now we just hope this volcano lets up so they can make it back to the U.S. one of these days!

Speaking of that volcano, one of the visitors we had hoped to enjoy last week whom we’ve now had to put off seeing was Christopher’s mom who was scheduled to arrive last Friday.  Sadly, the volcanic ash caused her flight along with thousands of others, to be canceled.  We currently hope to see her early next week, though some are warning this volcano will be erupting for the next two years.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long to see her!

19 months ago we moved here with 2 suitcases each. Last weekend we moved this pile plus some to our new flat. How did that happen?

A "springtime" walk on the beach

Julian enjoying the playground under the shadow of Edinburgh castle

Julian enjoys the playground under the shadow of Edinburgh castle

Enjoying that springtime weather with a family picnic. Julian and I walked up to the Princes Street Gardens to meet Christopher for lunch.


So, Jackie apparently resembles art done by 19th century artists who were trying to recreate a pre-15th century look.  Who do I resemble?  Before you smart alecks answer, check this out.  On Saturday, as we peacefully strolled along the harbor of Newhaven a woman with a shaggy, drooling dog interrupted our reverie.

Newhaven Harbor

First, it was ‘oh, how cute’ (or something to that effect) referring to Julian squished immobile into his stroller.

We stopped to chat briefly, showed Julian the mangy mutt, wished her happiness, and resumed our stroll.  Then, three steps later, she called out to us. Jackie graciously returned only to hear, ‘Is he part of the royal family?’  Sensibly, Jackie offered the only logical response, ‘What!?’  ‘You know’, the lady enthused, ‘the tv show, The Royle Family. Is he that guy that’s always going on about having a cup of tea? I’d love to get his autograph.’


The dog-lady is/was somewhat disappointed to learn that my career aspirations–let alone successes–have not ventured into the netherworld of British sitcom.  But, now that it’s been mentioned, maybe I’ll give it some thought.