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.
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.
They had a lot of fun with Uncle Seamus.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.