The last of our summer adventures. True my kids went back to school 3 weeks ago, but our Massachusetts cousins still have a few more weeks to enjoy before they’re back in the trenches of education. And one of the things on their summer list of fun, was a repeat trip to Camp Emerson situated in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. Rave reviews from Paul and James about all of the activities and adventures they enjoyed at the camp last year, and suddenly there I am filling out applications and making a deposit for my 2 Doyle boys to team up with the other 2 Doyle boys for 3 days of nothing but fun at their August Family camp.

The boys had been looking forward to this camp all summer. And wouldn’t you know the day we arrived, so did the rain. But shitty weather or not, these little Reservoir Doyles are here to play.

The relentless precipitation has Cullen all kinds of baffled. So far his summer has been nothing but rays of sunshine.

Rain or no rain, we are game on!

Bumming a ride to the evening campfire from camp counselor George.

VIP transportation for the boys, while the mommas walk the muddy roads.

Despite the wetness, they manage to get the fire going.

Bright and early the next morning and we pay a visit to the camp rabbits.

Cullen finds himself a shark rock. Or was it a crocodile?

With the rain on pause we are off to begin our day of activities.

First stop, the marina for tubing.

Mark runs through the hand signals before to take to the waves.

Paul, hanging in the boat, patiently waiting his turn.

There they go!

With less of an appetite for speed, Cullen wanted a more leisurely tubing experience.

Funny guys.

Cullen swaps out to let Paul in.

Excitement and anticipation.

These 3 were all about the speed.

Wave of encouragement from Cullen.

Look out! The mommas are about to have a go. First up, Dinara.

My turn! My turn!

When you pass your camera to a stranger to grab a group shot, and he manages to squeeze you all in, on the lower end of the frame.

These Doyle boys.

A 2nd attempt at a group shot. Much better.

After lunch are we are off on a wilderness adventure.

In the middle of nowhere and the challenge is to build a shelter.

Material gathering.

Keane takes on the role of project foreman.

Lots of direction from Keane.

When you need a break from your boss. To just sit.

Keane’s vision for his and Cullen’s shelter involved a lot of rope.

The team in back in action.

Coming together nicely.

James powering on with his wilderness home.

Keane’s checking out Paul’s finished product.

Yep! It works!

Cullen test drives James’s shelter.

The Rainy Day Plan

August 22, 2018

I know I dragged it out. It basically took me 3 weeks to share a weeks worth of posts from our trip to Ireland. But life people. Life. It gets in the way of all kinds of fun and all kinds of picture sharing from exciting trips to Irish places. But here we are, the final installment of photos from said Irish trip. And I have to say, this has been one of the fun’est trips home. As I mentioned before, the boys being older now means our visits back have become more adventurous and we have started to explore different corners of the country. What was also handy was the fact that our visit coincided with a surprise but very welcomed heatwave. This only helped increase the fun factor 1000%. Out of the 14 day trip, we had a total of 2 rainy days. Now that is some Irish luck right there. One of the rainy days happened during our trip to Dingle, but we were ready for it and planned some pretty interesting indoor activities.

A misty morning, but the kids don’t care. They hung out in the back yard of our Air BnB, Keane threatening everyone with an inflatable microphone he won the pervious night at the town fairground.

Keane’s face, the face of a violent attacker. But I assure you, he loves his brother.

Rainy day adventure no.1, off to learn how to make pottery.

The people at Louis Mulcahy pottery were amazing. Rules and explanations were kept to a minimum so the kids could enjoy lots of hands on pottery creating action.

A perfect little vase.

Next on the wheel, Cullen.

A perfect little bowl.

After lunch, for our 2nd rainy day adventure, we visited Dingle’s Oceanworld Aquarium.

Stopping off in the kids activity room for some fun puzzles and face painting before venturing in to see the sea life.

Keane, the only one who wanted his face painted.

The mesmerizing sharks.

Everyone loved touching the sting-rays.

Closing out the day with some group shots for the memory albums.

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.