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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ireland - Day 2, Part 2

Dan got back from the office at 6:45 but he won't just have dinner and call it a day when he is in another country.  There's too much to see and who knows when or if we will every be back together.  So we set off on another adventure.

Here  I am standing in front of St. Patrick's grave (which is located in the cemetery at Down Cathedral in DownPatrick).  A cross as well as "Patrick" is engraved on the top of the big rock.  It is fading away so it's hard to read. But considering he died in 461, I guess that's not bad for a gravestone that is 1,550 years old! 

Next we drove to Legananny in search of the Leganany Dolmen.  We drove on lots of secondary two lane roads that would be considered a one lane road in the US.  After driving through the hills, past lots of sheep and walking up a stone footpath, we finally found it!

The Legananny Dolmen is 5000 years old!   Dolmens would have been covered with earth or small stones but in many cases the earth has worn away leaving just the large pillar stones and the capstone.  

I think all of the dolmen (dolmens?) are cool.  They sort of have a Stonehenge feel to them.  

Luckily for us, the days in Ireland are very long right now and it doesn't get dark until 10:00!  The pictures above were taken around 8:00pm.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ireland - Day 2

I had breakfast with Dan this morning before he left for the office and then I headed to the fitness center here in the hotel.  I ran 3 miles on the treadmill.  When I got back to the room, I got dressed and then took a teeny-tiny nap. 

Dan said the second night is the night that he has a hard time falling asleep but I don't think that will be the case for me tonight.  I am already ready for bed!  I guess I'm a light-weight when it comes to adjusting for time differences.

Dan was able to come back to the hotel to pick me up for lunch but it had to be quick because he had to be back for a meeting at 1:30.

After lunch I walked around the town of Newcastle.  My first stop - the drug store, to buy pony-tail holders.  It is so windy today that I had to put my hair up and I normally only wear my hair up when I'm running or when I'm at the pool.   But this morning, I took a few steps out of the hotel and literally had to fight my way down the sidewalk.

And while I was fighting my way down the sidewalk, I realized that I couldn't see anything because my hair was covering my face.  So I had to give in and put my hair up.

In addition to being windy, it has been very cloudy today. It has also been rainy but I managed to do my touristy walk around the town between little rain showers.  Here are some shots from around Newcastle:

This is the Percy French - the restaurant we ate dinner at last night.

This is Villa Vinci - the cafe we ate lunch at yesterday.

This is "Around A Pound" - and yes, it's like our Dollar Tree!  Everything in the store was "around a pound"!

It's almost 6:00 pm now and hopefully Dan will be back here by 7:00.  He is supposed to be meeting with people from Germany and China tomorrow but the ash that is being spewed out by the volcano in Iceland was causing them to have trouble getting flights out of their respective countries on time this morning. 

I hope they get here so Dan's meetings don't have to get rescheduled to Friday - or even worse next week!  He does not need to be here 4 weeks in a row.  When we checked in on Monday a woman at the reception desk said, "Are you back?  Again?" 

Tomorrow I'm going to get adventurous - I might eat the black and white pudding from the breakfast buffet and I'm definitely taking a bus to Belfast! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ireland - Day 1

We arrived safe and sound in Dublin, Ireland around 6:50am Irish time. (Which is 1:50am Eastern time) We got about 3 hours of sleep on the plane last night which means I am running on coffee today.

We drove from Dublin to New Castle, County Down.  We made several quick stops along the route.

Our first stop was to see the historic ruins at Monasterboice which are of an early Christian settlement located in County Droth, north of Drogheda.  The site houses the ruins of two churches which were built in the 14th century.

I am standing in front of a high cross which is standing in front of a round tower.  The round tower was built in the 10th century.

Here we are standing in front of Muiredach's High Cross.  This cross is the finest example of Celtic stonework in existence today.  It was built in the 10th or even possibly the 9th century. We have this cross (well, a small replica of it) hanging on a wall in our entry hall.

The building I am standing in front of in the picture is the Narrow Water Castle and Keep near Warrenpoint in County Down, Northern Ireland.  It was originally built in 1212 to prevent attacks on the town of Newry.

I wanted a picture in front of this strange tree.  It's shaped like an Evergreen, but it looks like it's made out of prickly pipe cleaners.  I wish I had taken an up close picture of the leaves.  It's quite an odd looking tree!

This is the view from our hotel, the Slieve Donard.  It sits at the edge of the Mourne Mountains and overlooks Dundrum Bay just two miles from the Irish Ocean.

It's been mostly sunny today but extremely windy and the highs are only in the low 50s.  Guess I won't be taking a dip in the ocean!

After Dan got back from work, we had an hour and a half to kill before he had to get on a 7:00 conference call so we did a little more sight seeing.

Here we are in front of Dundrum Castle. It was built in 1177 on the top of a hill with a beautiful view of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.

There are sheep grazing everywhere so we had to take a picture of one!

This is a picture of a dolmen.  Dolmen are thought to be ancient burial tombs.  You can find them everywhere in Ireland if you are looking for them.  
Dan is still on his conference call. I'm ready to call the kids and get dinner and go to bed!  We've only had 3 hours sleep in the last 38 hours and it will probably be at least 3 more until we get to bed!   That's one long day - I think I'm going to need more coffee!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'll be at the Walmarts later this afternoon getting an Icee. What about you?

1.  I just got back from my hair appointment.  I stood firm with highlights and a trim even though I saw Jennifer's cute short hair yesterday and loved it. 

My stylist said, "Welp (and yes, "welp"  is a word for those of you who don't live in the South.  I think it is a nice blend of "well" and "yep" - with"yep" being Southern for "yes"), looks like you are at the ends-flipping-up-stage."

And I said, "Yep.  Don't I know it."

And then she gave me a fresh coat of blonde paint and a tune-up and she sent me on my merry way.

2.  I'm in the middle of typing up a giant list of instructions for my mom - bedtimes, homework schedules, bus times, how to contact the teachers, foods they love, foods they hate, etc.  And no, it's not me being an over-controlling/over-protective parent, it's her being a super grandma and wanting to make sure she does it all right.  My feelings though, are that if they are both breathing when I return, her job has been done.  If they are both smiling when I return, her job has been well done. 

I fear, though, that they will be spoiled worse than they already are.  And she'll be the first to say it too. She has already told me a couple of times, "I don't won't them to be sad for one minute while you are gone and I'm going to do whatever it takes to make that happen."  Good thing the kids don't read this blog or they would be fake crying themselves all the way to Toys-R-Us every day.

3.  It looks like the weather in Northern Ireland next week will be typical Irish weather  - cloudy, partly sunny, rainy, partly sunny, rainy, rainy, cloudy...with highs in the low 50s and lows in the low 40s.  I have gotten quite used to my flip-flips this spring so it's going to be hard to go back to shoes, jeans and jackets....but, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.  Plus I bought a really cute yellow trench coat!

4.  Now that I think I know sort of what I'm going to pack for the trip, I need to figure out what I'm going to wear on the plane.  I know I've mentioned before that over the last year, I have turned into a little old granny that is cold all of the time and even though I'm wearing my flip-flops, I usually have a hoody on top of my short-sleeved shirt.   I have to be nice and toasty if I'm going to get any sleep on the red-eye flight.  So I'm trying to decide if  wearing a  sweat suit would be acceptable of if it would look like I've totally given up.

5.  What did we ever do without Google and YouTube?  I love that I can type into Google a random reference from a Seinfeld episode and 5 seconds later I can be watching it on YouTube.  Love it!

6.  I still miss Seinfeld. *sigh*  However, I think I love Modern Family just as much.  Although I don't think 10 years from now Dan and I will be throwing out random Modern Family quotes to see if the other can remember the scene and the episode.  Only time will tell...

7.  Peter has a play date with a friend after school.  And according to Sarah, "Oh, goody Mom!  You and I haven't had any time with just each other lately!"  She has already informed me that she wants me to paint her nails...only she just wants me to paint just the tips and not the whole nail.  I can guarantee that this fun mother/daughter activity will end in both of us yelling at each other.  Maybe we'll just go out for Icees instead.

Welp, have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Highlights and a trim, please.

Last spring I got my hair cut short and as the spring turned in to summer I got it cut even shorter.  And I loved it.  I really did.  As I look back on pictures that were taken from that time, I think , "Look how cute my hair looked."

And then I look in the mirror now and think, "Blech."

You see, I'm letting my hair grow out again.  I decided in the fall that at the age of 41, I needed to have long hair again just one more time before I decided that I would have short hair for the rest of my life. 

Depressing, huh?  But how many middle aged women do you know that are growing their hair out?  I didn't want to be that one lone 50-year-old that was trying to grow their hair way down past their shoulders one more time before they hit menopause so I thought I would give it one last shot.

So here I am with my hair in that icky not-short, not-long stage and it's driving me crazy.  It is resting just above the top of my shoulders which means that it's not turning under and it's not flipping up and it's not laying straight.  Well, let me correct that - it's laying under on one side, it's flipping up on the other and it's laying straight and flat in the back.  And  it's driving me crazy!

I have a hair appointment Friday for fresh highlights and a slight trim before my trip.  Yesterday my phone rang and it was the BFF calling to tell me that she just got a very short and very cute haircut from our stylist.

And I screamed, "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.  Don't tell me that!!"  Because I'm weak y'all.  Weak.

I know that when I see her hair this afternoon I am going to want to tell our stylist to just chop mine all off.  To which our stylist will probably just chuckle knowingly and say, "I figured you wouldn't be able to grow it out after I cut Jennifer's." 

But I am going to try to remain strong.  I want my hair to grow past my shoulders again so it will bounce playfully around them.  I want my hair to blow in the wind. I want a long, playful ponytail. But the problem is, it's my hair.  So it doesn't bounce around my shoulders or blow in the wind.  And my ponytails have never been playful. 

My hair makes me look like Marcia Brady.

But I want it long just one more time before I'm too old to pull it off.

So I've got to remain strong on Friday.  "Highlights and a trim ,please," will be my mantra from now until I walk out of the beauty shop.

The only thing I keep thinking is, wouldn't my hair look really cute if it was short when I'm in Ireland?

I don't want to have dumpy clothes and dumpy hair when I look back over the pictures 30 years from now.

Highlights and a trim, please.
Highlights and a trim, please.
Highlights and a trim, please.
Highlights and a trim, please.

Say it with me, y'all...highlights and a trim, please.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stop worrying. Start packing.

So I leave on Monday for Ireland!  I can't believe I'm typing that.

We have been talking about this trip for months now.  I have hard a hard time getting too excited about it though and I couldn't figure out why.  But I think it all boils down to the kids.

Other than the 2 night trip to Charleston we took in September, I've never been away from the kids for more than one night at a time.  And other than Charleston,  the kids were just sleeping over at my  Mom's right next door or at Jennifer's house which is in walking distance.   Peter has been away for several nights at a time but that was at Boy Scout camp and Dan was always with him so that doesn't really count. 

I'm not worried about my kids safety while we are gone because they are going to be with Mom and Dad.  (Although I do worry about their safety!  The kids will wear them out for sure!) I guess all of this rambling is to say that the one reason I haven't been over the top excited is that I'm gonna miss my kids. 

But there is a nice trade-off for missing my kids.  I am going to have SEVEN nights and EIGHT days ALONE with my HUSBAND!  Yes, he will be at work several of those days, but the rest of the time it will just be the two of us. The more I think about that, the less I think about missing my kids and I am finally starting to get excited!

And now that I am finally starting to get excited and the realization that I'm leaving for Ireland in five days is finally starting to sink in, I am now asking myself the question that every woman in her right mind would ask herself - "WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR??" 

Dan laughed when I told him I was worried about what I was going to wear and his response was, "Who cares?  You'll be in Ireland! You won't know anyone there."

And my response was "I care!  This could be my one and only trip to Ireland and when I look back on the pictures in 30 years, I don't want to being wearing some crappy outfit."

When I told him that he just looked at me strangely.  I am sure he was thinking that no matter how long he knows me he will never have me figured out. 

But the more I think about it, I guess it really doesn't matter.  Because if I pulled out any picture of anyone from thirty years ago, I would laugh and think "What they heck are they wearing?" 

So I guess I better stop worrying and start packing!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yes, I bought a new plunger and thought I would tell you all about it!

Last weekend when we were at the beach, the toilet got clogged.  We, as a family, tend to do that to toilets.

The place we were staying had the coolest plunger. It looked like this:
It unclogged the toilet in just a couple of seconds and it was easy to use unlike those hard rubber plungers. I have the worst time with those things. 

This weekend at home, our toilet got stopped up. I told you we tend to do that to toilets.  We used our old plunger but when we were out running errands, we got one of the easy to use plungers.

I am excitedly anticipating our next toilet clog so I can use the new plunger!  It shouldn't be too long now.

That was my excitement for the weekend.  What did you do?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reduced fat popcorn is just not the same.

Peter and Colton had been playing in the backyard.  Peter came bursting through the door and breathlessly said, "Mom!  We want to camp out under the stars sometime!"

"O.k., honey you guys can do that some weekend I suppose."

"Yeah, we really want to rough it with no tent and eat tree sap and stuff."

"Tree sap?" I slowly questioned.  What has he been learning in Cub Scouts??

"Yeah, tree sap and well, maybe we'll take Dad's camp stove and some bottled water."

Hmmm...wonder how long before this "camp-out" would become just a regular sleep-over inside the comfortable house watching a movie and eating popcorn?

The only roughing it part would be that it's reduced fat popcorn and not extra butter.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Even if I don't think I'm a great mom, they do.

My friend Jennifer and I were just lamenting about several things that our children had  done this week that made us feel like less than perfect mothers. 

And then I saw these Mother's Day cards on my dresser and I was reminded that while I may not feel like a great mother,Peter and Sarah would disagree!

I just love her 1st grade spelling.  And I  love that she put "On my side" and "Right in my heart". I melted a little when I read those.

And Peter, a man of few words, summed it up perfectly - I am the best mom EVER!

I guess I should keep these cards handy because I have a feeling we are going to need these reminders through the summer when the days are long and my yelling is loud.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ignore me. It's only PMS.

She left this morning wearing a white shirt, white pants and a white headband.  Her shoes were hot pink jelly thong sandals encrusted with plastic crystals. 

She said she looked beautiful.  They way she walked out the door said she felt beautiful too.

I love Sarah's confidence.  I love her ability to mix and match colors and styles or in this case, her ability to match and match and match. I guess I just plain ole love that girl.

And if I had realized that just the mere thought of her prancing out of the house in her white outfit would have made me miss her so much at 1:30 in the afternoon and caused me to pen a quick post about her, I would have at least taken a picture. 

That's what I get for readying a big pile of old toys and cildren's clothes for Goodwill at a certain special time of the month.

PMS and trying to get rid of anything my children used to play with or wear but have outgrown because they are getting so old and will be in college soon do not mix.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Of course we had a great weekend! We were at the beach!

We spent Mother's Day weekend at the beach with my parents and my grandmother.  The weather was beautiful except for a few clouds one afternoon and some rain that evening.  Other than that, we spent our time out in the sun and playing in the water.  (Let me correct that -  Dan and kids played in the water.  I chose to stay on the beach and perfect my "blotch".  I don't tan - I blotch.)  Here are a few of the highlights from our weekend.