Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

An evening drive along the Dingle Peninsula leads to a spontaneous stop at Coumeenoole Beach. We were totally unprepared for this. No swimmies, no towels, no real plan to take on the ocean. But it was such a lovely sunny evening. The beach was secluded amongst the cliffs and the kids were hungry for adventure. Preparedness be damned! Lets go get wet kids!

Coumeenoole Beach. A hidden gem along the Dingle Peninsula.

Keane, my little adventurer. All rocks must be climbed.

No swimmies? No worries. We’re in our underwear and we don’t care.

Pure joy!

Not sure who’s sand castle this was. But it is no more.

Hello there pretty lady!

Keane & Dafne v’s Atlantic Ocean.

My little jellyfish hunter is at it again.

Dafne is impressed by Cullen’s hunting skills.

Returning each and every jellyfish found, back to its ocean home.

Keane is off and climbing again.

It takes a lot of parental restraint not to scream at Keane to “get the hell down”. As a mother I absolutely see the risk and danger, but at the same time, I don’t want to alter his curiously and willingness to take on a challenge. So I watch, my insides in a state of total fear and anxiety, but on the outside I do my best to be act completely calm.

Meanwhile in a rock pool below.

Praise Jesus he’s down. Safely.

Bare in mind we are here, on the beach, with no towels. And Cullen is wet and looks like this.

We spy a cave!

Off for more to explore.

We found a tiny tunnel under the cliff.

And of course we had to go through it.

Cullen is not sure about this.

Dafne is and away she goes.

It was challenge, but we finally got the 3 of them to stand still for 30 seconds for a group shot. I love how Dafne is looking up, pure excitement and joy at her new best friend, Cullen.

All 3 looking AND smiling. Its a photo capturing miracle.

Look what Derval found. 1 random towel in the boot of her car. So we took turns rinsing the kids off in the rock pool and drying them off with this 1 towel.

We’re not wearing any underwear and our t-shirts are soaking, but we have our pants and our sweaters, so life is good.

Some of the Dingle Peninsula where parts of the latest Star Wars movies were filmed.

Traveling with the boys now that they’re older, has become more fun and exciting. They’ve started to notice the difference between where they live and the places we travel. How different the people sound, the words they use. When momma drives in Ireland, she sits on the other side of the car. Some of the foods are less familiar but very quickly they figured out that the chocolate tastes a lot better in Ireland. On top of fueling this heightened awareness and opening them up to the opportunities and new experiences that come from traveling, I also want the boys to understand and appreciate their Irish side. To use our summer trips home to explore other parts of my/their beautiful Island. So this visit, my best friend Derval and her little girl, Dafne, me and my two little fellas, took off to the small town of Dingle, Co. Kerry, in the Southwest tip of Ireland.

Within an hour of our arrival, we’d unpacked, changed into our swimmie and hit Inch Beach. As a native of Irish beaches, Dafne in her wetsuit was well prepared for the chiller side of the Atlantic.

Me and my Americanized ways, sent my part-American, part-Irish boys out in their simple swimmies.

Cullen, my ocean loving child, went at it full throttle.

There’s something so nice about watching your kids and your bestfriends kid, build a friendship.

Dafne was days away from her 3rd birthday, and she loved hanging out with Keane & Cullen, copying everything they did and trying her damnedest to keep up.

Being that the are close in age, Cullen and Dafne became tight little buddies.

Jelly fish! Cullen scoured the beach for as many as he could find.

Crab and clam hunting.

Joined by his little friend.

Baywatch, the miniature version.

It wasn’t long before my non-wetsuit wearing boys began to feel the chill of the Irish coast. That was the cue to leave.

Bright and early the next morning, we took the short walk from our Air BnB to the marina, to catch a boat out onto the high seas to see if we could spot Dingle’s resident dolphin, Fungie.

En route we stop off to play on statue Fungie.

Walking the plank to our boat.

These 3 cuties (and Derv) are ready to see Fungie.

The lovely Dingle.

Dafne is stylin!

Some of the coastal views.

This is Fungie’s friend, Paul. He comes out every day to visit Fungie.

All eyes on the ocean, waiting for Fungie. And you can always trust a friend to make sure your visual presents as a member of the trip gets captured.

There he is! Fungie!

Happy little dolphin spotters.

Views of Dingle Peninsula.

A couple hours on the open sea and we’re headed back to harbor.

Another shot of Dingle.

Visiting my friend Nicola is always a highlight of trips back home. Nicola and I have been friends since we were 16 years old. We met at our first international track meet competing for Ireland and all these years later, despite the physical distance, we remained good friends. The boys also love Nicola, because Nicola has horses and every time we visit, she spends a couple of hours teaching them how interact, care for and ride the horses. She’s amazing and the boys look forward to this experience every year.

The heatwave was still in full effect. So a nice sunny afternoon to ride some horses. But first we took a walk across the fields to round them up.

There they are the gorgeous creatures.

The one in front is Henry, he’s the one the boys will be riding.

First things first, Henry needs a brush down.

Protective gear on and Cullen is ready to rock.

Looking good.

Leading the way into the arena, Keane.

Nicola, talking Cullen through a few drills and instructions.

Happy boy.

Next up, Keane.

More drills.

The little girl helping Keane and Cullen is Aishling. She takes riding lessons from Nicola and also helps her with the younger kids .

No idea what Cullen’s up to here. I’m guessing the ground feels good??

Riding done for the day. But there’s jobs to be done. Bridals to be put away.

Horses to feed.

A yard to tidy.

Always making friends.

Bright and early the next morning and the rain had moved in. But there were still jobs to be done.

Henry needed to be fed.

Morning Henry!

Prepping to ride.

Henry is fed and ready and so is Cullen.

Considering the big jumps.

Foundation work for jumping.

Look! Its me. Cullen trotting for the first time, so momma is providing some additional support.

Keane’s turn and he is joined by James and his horse Diesel.

Keane in awe of James and Diesel.

Best buddies.

And I’m back, for Keane’s trotting this time.

Another fun morning of riding.

Lovely to watching Aishling during her lesson. She’s only been ridge a couple of months.

Hey, hey, finished out the day with me tsking Diesel for a walk.

Killruddery Adventure

August 6, 2018

People of Ireland, specifically moms or dads looking for something different and fun to do with your kids, let me recommend to you, Killruddery House & Gardens. One of Irelands great historical estates this place was tried, tested and given a big seal of approved fun by both my kids and my niece and nephews. Ireland was in the midst of a heatwave during our visit, so the kids literally spent the entire day exploring the amazing gardens full of hedged trails, hidden ponds, climbable tress and giant rocks. There was the option to take a guided tour of Killruddery House itself, but the idea of 5 energetic and curious kids, moving through a house full of rare ornaments, antique furniture and priceless art pieces, paralyzed me with fear. So we opted to enjoy all of the available stress free outdoor fun.

In a secret corner of the estate, tucked away in the forest, we discovered the ultimate tree adventure, Squirrel Scramble. This is a climbing, zip lining, ropes course I can’t say enough positive things about. The kids (and momma’s) LOVED it. It was challenging for sure. There were definitely some fears to overcome along with a couple of rope slips (thanks goodness for safety clips) but overall these kids found their brave and beamed with pride after each conquered challenge. So people of Ireland, there is still a lot of summer left. A lot of days to be filled before your kids are back in school. Spend one of those days here. And then thank me after. You’re welcome! :)

The backside of Killruddery House.

Maps in hand and ready to explore.

Behind a wall of tress, a hidden pond.

My nephew Evan is currently expressing an interest in cameras. So I gave him a brief lesson and let take a couple of shots. He grabbed this moment of me showing the littles how to read the map.

Nathan and Cullen headed for the Big Rock.

Hot on their tail, Keane and Emily.

Off they go.

They made it. Look closely to see 3 tiny waving bodies at the top.

I followed them to the summit and grabbed this shot.

4 adventurers.

A shortage of water in the water features due to the heat.

Time to rope up and hit the Squirrel Scramble.

So many clips. So confusing.

Here we go.

Keane loves this stuff.

Cullen’s a little more cautious, but he was ready and willing to take on the course.

Emily started off a little nervous, but eventually found her brave.

Evan’s no fear approach.

Cullen still going strong.

Evan ready to grab his sister to safety on her first zip line.

Wahooo! Nerves of steel Keane is gone. Zipping off into the distance.

Followed closely by Evan.

Nathan didn’t want to be part of the rope course challenge, so he followed everyones progress from the safety of the ground. And after completing 20 of the 40 challenges, Cullen wanted to put both his feet back on the earth too. And eat snacks.

Keane powers on through the course.

Evan also on a mission to finish.

Emily has joined the support crew.

Final zip line to the finish.

Well done to all.

Post adventure snacks.

Kilkea Castle

August 4, 2018

This trip back to Ireland The Husband and I took the boys to visit the place where we were married. 13 years ago. That place was Kilkea Castle. We wanted to give them a little history to our story. They’ve only ever known us as Mom & Dad. In their mind that’s just the way we showed up on this planet, middle aged and together. They have no idea that we use to be young, carefree human beings, moving about the world doing our own individual thing, each of us on a different side of the Atlantic. Then we met. Then we dated. Then we married. Then we had kids. Those are the bullets points obviously. There are of course lots of in between details, that for now we choose not to bore them with. They showed a little interest in the talk about our wedding day, but mostly they wanted to hunt for ghosts, play King of the castle, run around the gardens and listen to stories of the castle being attacked by foreign invaders. And while our wedding was fun, it definitely cannot compete with the blood bath that is a medieval invasion.

The fabulous Kilkea Castle.

Exploring the gardens.

Ah yes, the cooperative child photo.

The gardens.

Of course there had to be a group shot, captured by one of the gardeners.

Over it! Thats what the boys were. Not with the castle, but with momma’s requests for them to be in photos.