Saturday, June 09, 2012

Ireland 2012: Family Time

We went to Ireland again, because we wanted to take advantage of the relative proximity of Bulgaria to the lovely Emerald Isle.  We went this same time last year, because of a combination of Bulgarian and American holidays, and it was quite ideal timing.  So anyway, here is the long-and-awesome "Family" post.  We stayed in Dublin the night we arrived, went by Newgrange the next day (Saturday) (but that will be in the "non-Family" post ;), and then headed up to Ballinamuck.  We stayed with Shane and Louise again, but stopped by Uncle Padraic's house as soon as we arrived.
Bran was thrilled to see him, and his guns.
Susan was there!  She took Maeve all around and showed her fun things, like chickens and dogs. :)  Isn't her hair just gorgeous? Yes. Yes, it is.
Michael, Aunt Bernadette, Leann (Michael's girlfriend), Susan, and Uncle Padraic... hanging out while balloons were being shot at.  I was so glad that Michael and Leann were there! I haven't seen Michael in many years, so it was wonderful to see what a nice, friendly, handsome, smart young man he'd become.  I mean, he always was, but... you know... now he's an older young man.  Leann was fun to talk to, and is a great young lady, too.  We missed Mary, again, though! Darnit.  Guess we'll hafta go back.
Michael and Bran, shooting the pellet gun at Uncle Padraic's BIRTHDAY balloons.  You see, it was no ordinary Saturday that found us at their house... we were there on his birthday Saturday! The place was well-decorated (even the dogs had balloons tied to their collars. It was great.) and Uncle Padraic graciously allowed some of his special balloons to become targets.  We went back a couple of days later, and shot some more (poor balloons thought they were safe...ha!), but since this is in chronological order, we'll revist that visit later.
Then, it was on to Uncle Seamus's place!  It was feeding time for the cows.  They didn't mind little people watching them closely.
 Patrick was hard at work, and drove up in the tractor right as we arrived.  Perfect timing.  Bran and Nuala all too-excitedly hopped in the tractor and THEN...then Patrick let them help drive it!  And Bran got to control the little claw thingy and pick up the silage the cows were eating.  They just kept munching as it was being lifted up.  And I know it's not a "little claw thingy," but despite my vast stores of knowledge, and what should just be instilled in me by blood, I don't know what that attachment is called.  I guess it should at least be the "BIG claw thingy."

 See? Lifting it up.  Very cool.
Then Patrick had to get back to work, and Uncle Seamus took us down the road to see how Patrick's new house was coming along.  This is Maeve going down the road. 
 The tour of the new house was lots of fun! Not only is it a gorgeous, big, quality place, but there was a pile of sand in one of the rooms that the kids threw themselves into (more-or-less literally and definitely figuratively), lots of places to explore, and a ladder to climb.
 They had a lot of fun with Uncle Seamus.
 Going to look at more cows here... Maeve was pretty fearless.  Of course, it's not like a cow is a crocodile or anything, but they're pretty big. Especially when you're pretty little.

 See that girl who is not (yet) related to us?  That's Claire.  Patrick's fiancee.  She's lovely, too, and it was a pleasure getting to know her more.  She and Patrick are getting married next July. Good stuff!

 The cemetery is just down the road from Uncle Seamus's place, so on the way back to Shane's we stopped by.  Nuala had picked a little containerful of dandelions and buttercups just for this purpose while walking at U. Seamus's, and we spent a nice little while talking about Granny and Grandad and Aunt Rosaleen and little Nancy there.

We turned in kinda early (um...10-ish...) that night, and Sunday morning went to church at the little branch in Mullingar.  Some of the folks remembered us, and we had fun talking to a member of the stake presidency with whom we shared mutual friends, AND we met a Latvian girl who is friends with the Latvian girl who is in our branch here in Bulgaria. And she also knows some of our other friends from Virginia.  It's such a small world in the church!  Afterwards we went to Auntil Eliz's house.  She had a very nice spread for us, and we ate and ate... and ate.  There she is, up above, and Uncle Pee on the other end.  It was so fun visiting with them! 
After a little while, Jenny, her youngest, came home and took us all out to explore.  The kids had a blast playing on top of the silage.
Jenny showed them her horses, Lucky and Beauty, too.
Auntie Eliz with the tykes.
Laura and Shannon came by before we left, and it was so great to see them, too! I know everyone sees her pics on facebook, but Shannon is just so grown-up looking and lovely, and is really just a nice girl, too. Which is good, since it's more important to be beautiful on the inside than the out! But she's both. She and Laura just look like sisters. It was wonderful seeing them all and catching up a bit.
THEN, we went to Tanya's new house.  What Bran had been waiting for all day... he got to see JOSEPH! And the visit did not disappoint. Not one bit. Joseph is a great little fellow, and loves Transformers and puzzles and guns and running around, so they got on quite well together. Bran absolutely loves him.
Tanya and Joseph, and us.  Nuala is sleep walking. Not really.
As an awesome bonus, Mary, my cousin James' wife, came by with their beautiful little baby, Amira! Yay! We had missed them during the day, and didn't think we'd get to see them because they had gone on a day trip with Mary's mom, but everything worked out just perfectly so we got to see little Amira for a while. Maeve was in love.  Amira's a gorgeous little thing.  And Maeve is huge now. It's never more apparent that your baby is not so much a "baby" as when she's standing right next to an actual baby. Sigh.

Here are Tanya and Maeve outside Tanya's house.  It was so fun seeing her, and seeing her place. It's in a perfect spot, and is just lovely.  I wish we could hang out more often!

Next morning: Monday... We went to Auntie Margaret's house for breakfast and a visit.  I wish, wish, wish I'd taken a picture of our breakfast! It was a traditional Irish breakfast -- rashers (bacon!), Irish sausages, boxty, mushrooms, tomatoes... it was gigantic and delicious. DELICIOUS. We were full for ages.  Here is Auntie Margaret and Nuala standing by some of my granny's flowers that she gave to Auntie M.
In a tractor again! They never get tired of it.  Uncle Paddy started it up for them, so that was even extra-thrilling, of course!
Also exciting was this pile of rocks.  Even Roxy, the dog, went up there. Maybe she was wondering "what in the world is so interesting? They've been up here FORever! I need to go sniff something..."  Well, Roxy, keep wondering.  Children + Rocks = Love.  Maeve was even making little "rock sandwiches" for us to eat by stacking them up on top of each other.

Finally we moved on and went down the lane to see this little calf.  He's an adopted calf.  His new mother had her little calf die, so the owner (Auntie M's neighbor) got her a new one. Their relationship is slightly strained, apparently, but they're getting along well enough.  Poor things.  Cute picture, though.
Linda! I'm so glad that both times we've been these last two years Linda has been there, too! She's fun to talk to and the kids love her.  She painted Nuala's nails for her, and told her all about Bunratty Castle, and was out there playing with them, even with a very sore neck from a car accident, poor girl.
Annnnd, Roxy.  Roxy almost deserves her own post.  Roxy is a rockstar in the eyes of Nuala, Bran, and Maeve.  In fact, as we were pulling up, Nuala yelled, "this is where the black dog who jumps really high is!"  Good memory, kiddo... good memory...
Roxy is the highest-jumping dog I've seen. She's full of energy and the perfect match for three energetic kids.

This is just cute. Obviously.
Auntie Margaret with Maeve (a Bran pic. Good job, little man!) and Roxy. She's just a-waitin' for a ball to be thrown.
Bran and Nuala climbing the turf pile. Z wanted to, also. I could tell.
And we've gotta throw good ol' Toby, the turf dog, in there! The poor guy spent much of our visit locked up, because he was so excited to see the kids that he wanted to flatten them with love.

And the gang, minus Z.  And James, Laura, and Padraic, but maybe we'll catch 'em next time. Well, we did get to see Laura, but later.

Nuala and Roxy.  Poor girl cried when we left.  Not because we were leaving Auntie Margaret and Uncle Paddy, who they loved and were so good to them, or Linda, who Nuala had fun hanging out with, but because of Roxy.  She loves that dog.  We left Auntie Margaret's house with her in tears last year, too.  At least she's consistent.  Again, we had so much fun there! Everyone is so good to us and we feel right at home wherever we go.

We dropped by Uncle Padraic's afterwards because he had gotten everything ready so the kids could shoot his gun.  I don't know what kind... I think I heard "22" at some point. A .22 gauge? Is that semi-accurate? Well, whatever it was, the kids had a blast. (Haha... A blast... with the gun...) Especially Bran.  Oooh, tractors and guns and dogs and cows and piles of things to climb... heaven!
Yep, it was lots of fun! 
Anyway, from there we zipped over into Drumlish to rich, beautiful, young Auntie Helen's!  AKA, "other Granny." There's recently-retired Uncle Seamus, taking Bran and Nuala on a walk to see the cows. I really like that picture. He's sooo, so good with kids. They really enjoyed being with him.

And OF COURSE they loved Auntie Helen. I mean, really. Who wouldn't? (Don't answer that.) Here she is with Nuala and Maeve out in the field. They had been watching a little calf suckle, and Maeve had been cracking up over it, Auntie Helen said.  I wonder if she thought, "do I look like that when I get meemees?!" Or she felt a kinship.

This little calf.  The cow was sending me this message with that stare: "Why don't you take a picture? It lasts longer..." So I did.

This is just a cool shot of Bran and a cow.  I really like cows.  I'd like to have a couple if we ever settle down... And I like Bran. A lot.  And all the pics of being at Auntie Helen's house are out in the field, but I promise we were inside visiting and eating a lot.  Again (broken record here...), we had such a great time there! My aunts and uncles are all really funny and very Irish (chatty and generous and, again, funny) and we just love being around them!

Ahhh, an inside picture! Not at Auntie Helen's house, but at Paul (my cuz, Auntie H's son) and Sarah's beautiful new house.  They live just down the lane, and wow! That place is amazing! Here I'm standing in the living room, the kitchen you can see part of off to the right, the dining area is behind it in front of the back door and LOOK at the wall of glass blocks. That is most likely not the official term, but you get the general idea. It was very lovely and modern.  And the rest of the house was just as nice. Oh, so that's Zachariah, then Paul, then cousin Laura (Auntie Margaret's other daughter), then Sarah, Paul's wife, holding Maeve.  Laura popped by while we were there, so I got to see her! Yay!  Anyway, then we went back to Auntie Helen's place for some MORE food, and a little bit more excitement...  I'm trying to think of a joke for Paul here, but I... seem to be all stopped up... Ahem. Yes. We got to visit with David, too, but I didn't get a picture of him! He's still good-looking and really nice. Close your eyes and conjure him up....

Then it was back to Shane's.  The kids went down a bit later than normal, except for Maeve. She went down a lot later than normal, but it was worth it because she got to see Uncle Seamus again. He dropped by for a last goodbye, since we were heading off in the morning.

Louise and Shane are always so good to us!  We really enjoyed staying with them, and they're so generous and get little beds ready for the kids, and Louise brings toys from her parents' house, and it's just a lot of fun.  We truly have such a wonderful family.

Here's their new couch. It's really comfy.  This is mostly for Mom, to see what I was talking about... See where the TV is now?  Yeah, that's what I meant. Looks good, huh?

Looking out the back window at Bran and Nuala playing with Cassie, and there's a pic of Granny and Grandad...
The house.  It's great craic (that's Irish. It means FUN.) to visit the family. I love it, and the kids love it, and Z loves it.  And there we have: the Family post.  So then we left and headed down south this time, instead of up north, and the adventure will continue in another entry. I know it's difficult to wait, but crying won't solve anything.


Tara Milligan said...

Fun! Your posts are so great and descriptive with such nice pictures, it makes us almost feel like we were there! So nice to see pictures of everyone. LOVE that pic of Maeve running with the dandelions...lucky Bran getting to shoot so many guns, and smart to use the balloons as targets, I'm sure they loved popping them. Poor Nuala, leaving the dog. Obviously y'all are going to have to get one in Japan. And seriously, Maeve and Nora could be twins, I can't wait til y'all get here to see them together in real life. Oh, and I love your and Nuala's cute short hair cuts, too.

zachariah said...

Always so much fun visiting the fam in Ireland! Probably the reason Maeve keeps asking everyday if we are going back to Ireland.

Rob and Erin Smith said...

Love this post! Look at everyone! They all look great! And Maeve is getting so big! What cute kiddos and what a fun time with all those doggies and cows. Not to mention the tractors and guns... Wow, what a great trip :0)

Aislinn said...

Such a great post! Everyone looks wonderful and you narrate it all so well! Looks like it was a children's much fun outdoor stuff to do and so many people being so kind and loving. Bran looks soooo thrilled with the guns...Nuala is so cute with Roxy...and Maeve and her grin, LOL, what a little charmer!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post, needless to say. Thank you for all the lovely pictures and the written parts too ... made me feel like I was home, and made me a bit teary too. I am glad you had weather that allowed outdoor activity... which is somewhat rare there. It is nice and green too ... you got to see a lot of the family ... nice that all live fairly close to each other. I enjoyed seeing the Whins (or Gorse) ... vibrant yellow everywhere... well, more so in April I suppose. It's funny how Roxy always seems to have a ball in her mouth! Oh, thank you again for a wonderful pictorial etc trip ... Love, Mom (Dad too) xox