Friday, April 27, 2012

September 2011…IRELAND!!

We rushed home from California just in time for Reese to start preschool again.  It was her second year at the CDC enrichment program and she was excited to get back to school and Finn and I were excited to enjoy some one on one time with each other.

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I think Reese was all of 2 weeks into the school year when we had her take a week off so that we could go on a family vacation to Ireland.  Nate and I had been dying to go back since we went on our first trip and we found ticket prices that we simply couldn’t pass up.  We drove over to Brussels on Sunday night, since we were flying out of the airport there, and stayed at an airport hotel which worked out perfectly since they offered a free shuttle to the airport.  The kids had fun playing in the hotel that night and then bright and early the next morning we were on our way to Dublin, Ireland.  We had a perfect flight there and when we were going through passport control the officer noticed Finn’s name and smiled, after all Finn is our little Irish boy.  We had a little trouble at the car rental counter but once that annoyance was over we were in our hunk of junk Kia and on our way to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway.  Now I have to add that one of Nate’s favorite things in Ireland is the full Irish breakfast and he was dying to have one as soon as possible, also we were all starving because it was about 10am and we’d only had a very small breakfast a long time ago before our flight, so we pulled off the highway just outside Dublin and lucked upon this awesome breakfast place that had an amazing full Irish breakfast.  Nate was in heaven and I was enjoying myself too.  After we had had our fill we piled back in the car and made our way up to the Giant’s Causeway.  There are multiple legends about the Giant’s Causeway so don’t sue me if I don’t quote the one you’ve heard, but basically there was a giant in Scotland and then there was the giant in Ireland who was Finn McCool.  Apparently the giants wanted to fight each other so they built the Giant’s Causeway as a path to get to one another but then Finn McCool found out the other giant was larger and ended up out smarting him by pretending to be his child which freaked the other giant out and he ran back home.  Long story short, we were eager to take our giant Finn to see the Giant’s Causeway and it was amazing.  We took this little hiking path from the parking area that dropped us off near the organ and then we walked past the Giant’s boot and wandered out on the stone steps before we headed back.  It got quite windy and cold while we were there but it was beautiful and we were glad that we were able to work visiting there into our trip.  After we were done we were all pretty tired so we drove to Portrush, which wasn’t far, and checked in to our cute little bed and breakfast.  We went out to wander the town for awhile before dinner but we were so tired from our day that we ended up just having an early dinner at an awesome restaurant and then went down to the beach to play for a little while before we headed back.  Reese loved running around in the water and even though it had started raining it was fun to dabble our feet.

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We woke up Tuesday morning to start another long day in Ireland.  We had another amazing Irish breakfast and then loaded in the car for the extremely long drive down to the Dingle peninsula.  Just to give you a sense of the drive, the Giant’s Causeway is in the very north of Ireland and towards the eastern side whereas the Dingle peninsula is the very southwest of Ireland.  I think it took us about 10 hours with our stops to make it down there and as luck would have it the kids were fine all but maybe the last 30 or so mins of the drive.  We didn’t do very much that day, just drove and drove and drove until we got there, but when we got there we were so excited to find that our B&B was everything we were hoping it would be.  There was a farm with goats and sheep and our room was huge! plus we had a huge closet and a huge bathroom, it was exactly perfect for us.  Once we got in and got settled we wandered in to town and had dinner at a fish restaurant that was recommended to us, I was a little overzealous and had the squid which ended up making me feel a little ill but other than that it was fine. 

After breakfast on Wednesday, Reese got a tray of scraps for the animals and ran out to feed them. This was by far her favorite part of the trip, every morning and sometimes again in the afternoon, she would run out and feed them all the peels and leftovers from the meals. This farm was why we picked this place to stay at in the first place and she was just as excited by it as we thought she would be. Since we’d spent all day in the car on Tuesday we didn’t want to force the kids to be in the car again so we decided we’d just spend some time wandering around Dingle and exploring the town.  There’s an aquarium there that we went to and we made it inside just as the rain was starting to pour down.  Reese always loves aquariums so it was fun for her to watch the fish and do something she enjoyed.  After that we just wandered around town looking in shops and seeing the ships.  They were feeding the sharks at the aquarium later in the day so we went back to see that since our tickets were good for all day and then we decided just to head back to our room and relax for a little bit.  As we were walking back we got caught in a rainstorm that just dumped water on us.  Nate used his raincoat to wrap Reese in because her pants were getting so wet and by the time we made it back to our hotel we were soaking wet, well all of us except Finn who was nice and warm in his stroller.


Thursday started just like Wednesday with feeding the animals and when Reese was done with that we loaded in the car for our trip around the Dingle peninsula, we had driven the ring of Kerry on our previous trip so this time we were doing Dingle.  Our first stop was a beach that we saw a parking lot for, it was a fairly nice day so we spent some time gathering seashells and just wandering around on the beach.  By the time we got back in the car Reese has a whole pile of seashells to take home.  Our next stop was Dunbeg Fort which was just a little ways down the road. My favorite part about Ireland is that even though things are historical there’s still a lot of fun to be had and Reese enjoyed walking along the rock walls and climbing the hills while Nate and I enjoyed the amazing coastal views and Finn, well Finn was just as happy as always.  You have to love a little boy that’s that happy all the time.  After we had had our fill of the fort we went on to the Beehive huts and looked around for awhile and then it was on to another beach.  Finn was asleep in the car so Nate stayed up with him while Reese and I went down and wandered on the beach for awhile.  By the time we were done there everyone was getting hungry so pulled over at a pub and had some quick sandwiches and then we had some tired kids so we decided just to head back to our room and take a nap.  Once Reese woke up she was a little bit happier so we went back to where we left off and viewed the Gallarus Oratory and the ruined church of Kilmalkedar which was better than the oratory and a nice way to end our tour around the peninsula.  After we got back we went to an amazing pub and had some delicious Shepard's pie and Guinness stew which would perhaps rate as our best meal on the trip it was so good, and then we wandered over to Finn McCool’s surf shop to take some pictures of Finn and get some ice cream for Reese at the shop across the street.  It was a long day but we had so much fun exploring Dingle.

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Friday morning it was time for us to head out of Dingle but not before we made one more stop in town to take some pictures with Funghi the dolphin since we had neglected to do it previously.  After that we were on our way to Kinsale to see Charles Fort.  We made pretty good time getting to Kinsale just stopping at a McDonalds in Killarney to get some food on our way. Once we got checked in to our B&B we drove over to Charles Fort to do some exploring.  It was a huge fort and It was fun just to wander around and see the views and watch Reese try to man the cannon, it wasn’t our favorite stop on our trip but Reese had a ton of fun running around playing hide and seek and climbing up the stairs onto the walls to look out.  When we were done at the fort we went in to town to get something to eat and then found some ice cream for Reese to eat while we wandered around town. 

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Saturday was our last full day in Ireland and we were back on the road again.  First we drove from Kinsale to Kilkenny to go to the Rock of Cashel.  We kind of started out on a guided tour of the cathedral but then just decided to break off and do our own thing because it can be difficult to listen to the tour guide while not letting the kids disturb other people.  It ended up being better for us anyways because we had the guide book and then we didn’t have to deal with being in a huge group.  After the Rock of Cashel we decided just to head straight to Dublin instead of delaying our journey with other stops, I think we were all getting ready to be back home.  We stayed at a hotel near the airport in Dublin and we contemplated taking the bus in to Dublin that evening but there were a bunch of stores across from our hotel so we just wandered over there and had fun looking at the pet shop and the toy store, it was easier and I think the kids were ready to be done with traveling around, as good as they are at traveling sometimes they just want to do normal activities.  After dinner we called it an early night and we were off to the airport way too early the next morning for our flight back to Brussels and our drive back to Germany.

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August 2011…Trip to California

Just before Aunt Kendra left for home, the kids and I headed off to Sacramento to show Finn off.  Of course the flight was full so there was no extra space for Finn and it made for a long flight to California, but we made it and it was well worth it.  The kids enjoyed spending time with Ava and just getting to play in Nana and Papa’s backyard.  One day my aunt and grandma took us all to Funderland which Reese was in love with.  All the rides there are just her size and she was running from one to the other while Finn rested in the shade with his Great Ma, which I think both of them enjoyed. 

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While we were visiting my parents took the whole family to go to Gilroy Gardens which is a fun little theme park a few hours away.  It was nice to get to spend a whole day with everyone accept Nate and to get to know my soon to be brother in law David a little bit better.  It was a hot day so we went to a little water area and Reese wanted nothing to do with it, but Finn enjoyed getting a little wet with Aunt Lissa and Uncle David.  It was so hot later in the afternoon that I had to coax Reese into one of the little splash zones with candy just so I could get her to cool off and we kept getting Finn’s hat wet to cool him off as well. 


We also spent some time on the river with David and Melissa’s boat (but I have no clue where those pictures are at the moment) and made a trip up to Grandma’s house to introduce her to her great grandson.  We always have such a great time in Sacramento and it gets harder and harder each time to leave.

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August 2011…The rest of Aunt Kendra’s visit

I’m behind, way behind, like almost a year behind…where do I even begin.  I’m thinking the best route to take is to just rush through the past so I have it written down and then start fresh at the present and try to stay up to date.  So here it goes, the next few posts will be the last few months in a nutshell (and it was a busy few months).

August was when Nate’s sister Kendra had come to visit us and we tried to do some fun things with her.  We took her to Cologne to tour the cathedral and then we also went over to the zoo there because we think it’s one of the best zoos.  We climbed the spire at the cathedral which was quite the accomplishment, Reese walked the majority of the way up and needed a little help at the end but then again I wished I could have someone carry me up those last few steps.  Nate had to be careful carrying Finn in the backpack so that Finn didn’t hit his head and he kept grabbing the walls as well which made it a little more difficult, but once we got to the top the view was worth it.  We’d been to Cologne so many times without climbing the spire that I was glad we finally did it. This was Finn’s first trip to the Cologne zoo and it was fun to see him enjoy the fish, he didn’t have quite the fascination that Reese did on her first trip but he still liked them.