Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AHHH, Ireland (August 16, 2009)

OUR DAY IN PICTURES....and yes, a few quips...
Ready to head out.  It was quite chilly/cold.  Perfect Irish weather. Here you can see down O'Connell Street.
And yes we eventually got a jacket on Sophia.

Our drive through Dun Laoghaire (pronounced "done leary").
Our car....hardy har har.  No way, but this was a darling Mini Cooper that provided a photo op.
AHHHH.....Powerscourt Estate just south of Dublin ('bout 30 minutes) and gorgeous.
"David, can you get a close shot of us and the fountain? " I asked.

Okay....not close, but the awesome Sugarloaf Mtn. is trying to get in the shot too.
"No, David, I don't want to be in the pictures." 
Our sweet flowers in this beautiful garden
Sara ponders Powerscourt...ahhh.

Anna is growing so fast.

Bam ram ewe!  (she was eye ballin' me). 
On our way to our next stop, I made David pull over many times.
My camera just couldn't get enough.

The Glendalough Ruins in Wicklow County Ireland.
It was all very "Oooh Ah" worthy...the buildings, this history and the wild greenness all around.

Lou in the chapel ruins.
The long stones on the ground are ancient tomb markers.

The Wicklow Heather Restaurant. Our delicious unplanned stop. 
In the town, just by the ruins...we stopped at the first restaurant we saw and it was the best of our entire trip!

Cozy wood interior, with lovely upolstered high back chairs.

My Irish Stew....ummm, all mine.
The sippee....not mine....Mommy had the delectable champagne that is nearly finished in this shot.
Everyone's meal was wonderful.
Notice the stream gliding down the hillside....this sound, with the gentle chill breeze,
and the sloping valley...we love you Ireland

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our first Irish day (August 15, 2009)

We awoke Saturday ready but a little forlorn about leaving London (not Lou though). We had enough time to have a snacky breakfast of leftover items that we couldn't stuff in our one allowed Ryanair carry on pack. I was the official packer for all of us, especially with the strict, strict, Ryanair limits, but Lou had gotten up super early and packed all her goodies away before we were up.

Mark ("London's best cabbie" ....so he told me) proved to be just that and more. The almost hour ride was filled with lively talk about London, his beloved East Hammersmith neighborhood (future home of 2012 Olympics), favorite TV shows, politics and favorite vacations spots (who knew Las Vegas, and Florida were so popular with the cabbie set?). Once we arrived at the airport I noticed that the cab total read 120GBP (yikes) and as I handed him the cash, he cheerily counted it to 100 pounds and handed me back the rest saying he would be as good as his word, and that he was glad to drive a nice family to the airport and have a good chat. What a dear. If we were not in a hurry (my constant travel state of mind...my poor, poor, family) I would have been so glad to have taken his picture with our crew.

Then a glitch. We actually had plenty of time and as we were orderly going through security I was called back (double yikes!) in an assertive tone. "Is this your bag ma'am?" Me: "um, uh, well it is my family's bag but my mother-in-law packed it." (yeah, I am such a fink) Then he showed me the industrial size shampoo and the way too large specialty lotion bottle packed in her carry-on and Lou said, "Oh, no, I wanted that to go in my checked bag" And in no uncertain terms the man let her know that those items were no longer hers and asked her a few more questions and briskly sent her on her way.  "Oh, no" thought I. Lou was very glad to be traveling, but these small hassles were mounting and I could sense they were starting to snowball in her mind. 

Ah, Ryanair what should I say about thee. Well, it is most definitely the least expensive for us. But the luggage restrictions were in the extreme and outside of the shampoo debacle, we made the cut! I even paid extra for our priority seating and noticed that we were not at the front of the line, but of a mob that pressed us forcefully onto the stuffed small plane. Then there was some kind of ticket mishap (thankfully not any of us) but it had us waiting on the plane, parked for almost 2 hours.

So when the mood of our group should have been refreshed by our arrival to the coolness of the Emerald Isle, we were all a bit quiet and edgy.  What a shame.  At the airport, I bought our bus passes for our ride into Dublin and for our transportation for the next two days.  But after our ride into Dublin and problems "ala me" not exactly knowing the Bed and Breakfast's location...well, Lou stated again that she did not want to take another bus. 

We stayed at the The Charles Stewart Guesthouse (budget B & B), referred by our old friend Rick Steves
It was a good stay for the price plus location.  But being in such a historic and near central area it was compact, plain but clean, creaky but quaint, and a bit musty.  David, the girls, and I expected this and I was actually delighted (cleanliness goes far with me) but again Lou, was troubled by her room, on a separate floor from ours (it could not be changed but Anna was her roomie) and how decidedly different the room was from the luxury we had in London.  Ack! We needed some cheering and what we got was a dose of Irish charm in the being of our grandfatherly hotel manager, William.

Even for us twangy Texans, we craned our necks, and squinted in the effort of trying to make out his quick and lyrical welcome and information about our amenities.  He chuckled after we asked him kindly to repeat the times for the (excellent) price included FULL IRISH BREAKFAST.  I then wondered aloud if there were alarm clocks in the rooms...
William: "No there aren't dear, but what time would you be needin' the wake up call?"
Me: "Oh, there are phones in the room?"
William: "No, by way of wake up I think a quick toss of water should do the trick."
Me: "Er?"
William: "See there's where you should be sayin' that 'it's my husband needs the wake up.'"

Oh, you silly, silly William.  We chuckled and settled on a time and I knew I was in love with the Irish lilt.  Lou was slightly charmed too, but I was hoping our dinner stop and scheduled entertainment would set us to rights.

You silly, silly Jenny.  The evening was chill and breezy.  August and jacket weather....it boggles a Texan's heat scorched brain.  We moved along with the quick moving crowds on our way down busy O'Connell street's nice wide side walks across the River Liffey to the Temple Bar area.  But here is my silliness.  It was a Saturday evening! If we thought the walk to our eating spot was crowded well Temple Bar (not a building but a street and night scene area) was swollen with people chumming about, drinking, slowly pub crawling....and here were the Griswolds, eh, us, stroller and all trying to snake our way through the crowds to our stop, Gallagher's Boxty House (Boxty being a Irish specific dish).  Once we found the place(happiness!) they told us we could be seated in about two hours (despair!)  I whispered a prayer that inspiration would strike...and the Lord is so good. 

What the Lord sent David's way (as I was head in guidebook trying to find another option)was a pretty college age girl, dressed to get attention, handing out coupons to any that needed them to the nearby Luigi Malone's restaurant.  He pointed to our girls next to him and asked if it was family friendly and she cheerily announced "Of, course!" and walked us the half block to the door. 

Now for the Irish warmth, and friendliness. It abounds.  Ireland is beautiful, tortured and lush geographically with a hard history so that you would think that people that inhabit this territory could be hard bitten and, let's face it, cranky.  But what we encountered at each turn was open friendliness, willingness to help and listen, some kidding around, and smiles.  What a welcome.  So as we walked in the somewhat posh looking Luigi Malone's and the young woman called to the host to help us, I was hopeful.  I explained to him that yes, we were a larger party of 6, and yes, it was near 7pm and we hoped to be done eating and out by 8pm for a show....could they seat us?  (all this asked as I peered over his shoulder and saw the full dining area behind him).  The young man smiled, unfazed by the request, and looked over at the reservations and said, "That'll be perfect for us, as we have a table waiting for a large family at eight.  It'll be a bit of a rush dinner, is that alright?" "Yes!", David, Lou and I seem to answer at the same time. 
And dinner....well I can hardly remember who had what.  What I distinctly remember is just the sense of relief of the friendly timing of our meal, and thankfulness to the Lord for its provision.  We all remarked at how the demeanor of the Irish people we had encountered thus far was good for travel beaten spirits.  They were good to their word and we were in and out in great time and off to find our entertainment.
Now in Dublin there are plenty of nighttime possibilities for the over 21 set...but with our wee ones...well besides the movies, eh, cinema...there wasn't much else.  Through the always helpful Trip Advisor, I had found out about the less racy Irish House Party at the Lansdowne Hotel and Bar. 
There are a number of venues of Irish music, dancing and comic banter, but typically ages are restricted. This is what we needed to cap our night.  The chatty and audience involving entertainers taught us a few things about Irish music, culture and history.  Even the girls were grinning and Sophia caused the musicians to chuckle as she would giggle and clap loudly, tickled by the uplifting music.   

It was late when the evening ended, and I wished I could say that the last thoughts of the night were happy ones....but we got quite turned around about directions and a bit lost on our walk back and forced Lou on a bus to the B & B.  All I could do was cover us with prayers and give all our hopes for a better tomorrow to the Lord.  He is so very very capable and I was oh, so tired.    

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On St. Patrick's Day

The white patches are sheep, lounging happily in their Irish countryside
Dear Ireland,

I heard so much about you before I ever met you.  I read so much about your gorgeous greenness, your rolling fields, wonderful landscapes, and friendly people and it was all true.  Pictures don't do you justice...you are more beautiful in person.  But I barely got to spend the time with you that I wanted.  I miss you. And I will, Lord willing, see you another time.

Knowing we will meet again, Jenny

Happy St. Patricks day to all!  I was excited about posting on the second half of our August '09 trip, as our last 3 days were spent in Ireland....but I just couldn't do it.  You see I have the Yicks.  What do I call the "yicks"?  It is a blending of a cold virus, gray weather outside, dampness all around, and having a usually playful little girl, now sick and feverish and trying to make her feel better when I just want to nap. 

She is now napping, my head is a little clearer and I thought I would post some lovely images I tried to capture of Ireland and I will post on our trip later.
Powerscourt Estate County Wicklow, Ireland

Hills and horses of Ireland

How green

Glendalough Ruins, Ireland

Glendalough tombstones

Has a lovely entry today about the heart of St. Patrick himself.

Friday, March 5, 2010

For David, on his birthday

This is my husband:

He is turning 40.  Wow, 40 looks good. 

It is still a wonder to me after 8 years of marriage that he is in my life.  I may make an indulgent tale of our meeting and courting on our August anniversary but for now you are spared and I will just share a bit about him.  Because when I think of my husband I thank God for the man that he is and for the fact that I get to make a three strand cord with him. 

So, here we go, 40 things about a man of 40 years.  And as I type it I don't want to push the bragging envelope but I have learned so much from him as a husband and a friend, that I am simply proud of him.

1.  He loves the Lord. 

2.  Oh, how he loves me...dearly, everyday. 

3.  He loves and dotes on his three girls. 

4. He is a good engineer and enjoys his work.

5.  He is a rancher and would chose that over engineering if it brought in the bucks.

6.  He is a fantastic cook.

7.  He makes the best chocolate cheesecake I have ever tasted.

8.  He designed our home and did all the interiors.

9.  He enjoys gardening (especially vegetables) and has rounded us up for more that a few years of gardening harvests.

10.  He detests squash.

11.  He will watch Sense and Sensibility with me (or any well told chick flick really)

12.  He taught me how to make jelly.

13.  He is an Aggie (He will like that I said that, for those unaware, two rival Texas universities are THE University of Texas and Texas A & M....he went to A&M)  (I went to THE  University of Texas) Love ya David

14.  As a single Dad he made sure to always do his girls' hair up in ribbons and dress them in sweet dresses for church.

15.  Because of his sweet Texas twang, when he says "drink" it sounds like "drank". 

16.  He is a great two-stepper.

17.  He is a very good shot.  (We got lots of troublesome critters around these parts that he had taken care of).

18. He is color blind.

19. He still likes holding hands when we are together.

20. He can fix things (house, cars, tools, machinery...Thank you Lord!)

21. He takes out the trash.

22.  He reads his Bible each morning.

23. He loves camping and hikes.

24.  He fixes "his girls" a big breakfast every Saturday morning.  

25.  He hates horror movies.

26.  The mintyness of toothpaste makes him cough.

27. On cold mornings he cleans out the wood stove and starts a big fire for us.

28. He loves to play games (card games, board games, dominoes) and likes getting the whole family together for game night.

29.  He loves to travel.
30.  When we are on the phone and saying goodbye he always remembers to say "I love you". 

31.  His favorite beer is Shiner Bock.

32.  He took me to Prince Edward Island, Canada for our honeymoon because he knew I loved Anne of Green Gables.

33.  When my hand was bandaged for 6 months and I had to keep water exposure to a minimum last year, he gave Sophia ALL her baths, and washed many dishes.

34.  He likes the music of John Denver.

35.  When he was 8 he was hit by a car and came out with out an injury, external or internal.  David's dad said that was the first miracle he had ever seen. 

36.  David likes to cap his night with a cup of hot tea. 

37.  His favorite color is blue.

38.  Between beach, city, or mountains...David would always pick mountains.

39.  The soft friction of a cotton ball in his hands gives him chills. 

40.  David is my best friend. 


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