Archive for August, 2018

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.

First Days, Again

August 2, 2018

That time of year has rolled around again. The first day of school. Yes, for a lot of you out there its still summer break, but for all us Southern living kids, its “back to school” time. And honestly, it never stops being emotional. For me. The boys were fine. Better then fine. They were so excited to get back, to see all their friends and share all of their summer adventure stories. I smiled bravely, nodded along happily as they talked and talked about their new classes, their teachers, friends they had recently seen and friends they hadn’t seen all summer. But as they bounced from the car, rushing to get inside, yelling “bye momma” without looking back, I was hit with a big wave of emotion. While I’m relieved they love their school, that they are becoming smarter (we hope) more independent little boys, it doesn’t change the fact that this growing up thing sucks ass. And its irreversible. Not that long ago they were babies, now this week Keane went into 1st Grade (thats Senior Infants for my Irish friends) and Cullen went into Pre-K (there’s not real Irish equivalent for this. It would basically be Pre-Junior Infants, if Ireland had that). But on the plus side, this year I resisted the urge to step into any kind of psycho mother behavior. Least we forget last year, when I went all steak out in a Church car park overlooking the school playground, only to be busted by my own kids. Not my most rational thinking moment I’ll admit. But live and learn.