Ireland 2009, Part Three: The North

After Galway, it was time to head up to dear old Donegal. We stayed at a cozy little B&B just outside of the town, and our hosts were just the prototypical Irish B&B owners. The gentleman owned a store in town that sold all sorts of wool products (we bought new winter hats for the kids and socks for me), and he was more than happy to sit down for a quick pint and a chat. The lady of the house was fully in charge of the place, including all the wonderful cooking we enjoyed for breakfast. I can't believe I haven't mentioned the wonders of the "full Irish" breakfast yet: bacon rashers (thick slices of bacon not seen in the US), sausages, eggs, white pudding, black pudding (I am a pudding fan, even if others are grossed out by it), toast, potato, fried tomato, baked beans and sauteed mushrooms. It took me a long time after returning home to adjust to boring old bagels and cereal. Unfortunately, I never did get a good picture of the full Irish, since it seemed rude to bring a camera to table.

Here's the best view from a B&B that we had our whole trip, the beautiful Lough Eske there, complete with sheep noises drifting across from the neighbors (surprisingly little smell though).

Our cozy room.

Ardeevin Guest House, from the outside.
From Donegal, it's a short drive over to Northern Ireland and the home of Belleek Pottery and China. Amazingly enough, we managed to keep both kids from breaking anything, though there were a few close calls. After buying a bunch of china (conveniently packaged and shipped to your home direct from the factory store!), we headed down the road to Enniskillen, stronghold of the Maguires, my mother's side of the family.

Maguire Castle, which we fully expect to inherit one of these days....

The kids particularly enjoyed the Easter themed "duck hunt" the castle ran. They had to find all the ducks hidden in the displays and write down all their names while Lisa and I tried to actually learn something about the ancestors.

One of the many times we stopped for tea, this time at The Sheelin in Ballanaleck. Irish place names are so fun to say. Ballanaleck.

Back in Donegal, we visited the Franciscan Friary ruins. Plenty of "fairy gardening" going on here, much to Ellie's delight.

Killybegs is a real working fishing town up the coast of Donegal Bay.

We were on our way to see Slieve League and took some pictures along the long hike up the road.

The Giant's chair and table at the bottom.

Just show this picture to anyone who thinks Ireland just has hills of green. Slieve League is 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and truly an amazing sight.

Ireland 2009, Part Two: Galway

After leaving Doolin, we drove up to Galway. A bit of a contrast, since Doolin was tiny, barely even a town. But it had a pub, so I guess that qualifies as a town. Galway is a small city though, and it's thanks to that fact that I got to watch my Spartans play in the Final Four at 1am just around the corner from our B&B. Luckily, the championship game found me in another tiny town with no TV or pub, so I was spared the agony that followed.
Moving on....

There is no better way to immerse yourself in Ireland than to go to a hurling match. That's hurling, played on grass with a small ball and sticks, not curling, with ice and rocks. Just make sure you bring cash, they don't take credit cards.

Just like the hockey games back home, they had pee wee hurling at halftime.

PJ Flaherty's, such a friendly place. They set me up at the end of the bar with a great view of the basketball game, right next to the loudmouth from New England. Many pints consumed that night.

After some shopping and a few other detours into the countryside, we headed up to Donegal.  Along the way, we had to stop at Westport House, home of Ellie's middle namesake, Grace O'Malley, aka the Pirate Queen.

Another beautiful place.

Grace O'Malley, herself.

Westport is also home to the Pirate Adventure park, featuring a miniature train, and the "Cannonball Run" slides. Those slides were good for a solid hour of entertainment.

Donegal was a bit of a drive from there, but the scenery, including Croagh Patrick was stunning.

Ireland 2009, Part One

After the biggest lapse in 2009, forgetting to post about Ireland, I figured I should probably make up for it, and how better than to actually do the long awaited Ireland blog post? So without further ado, here it is.

After the long flight across the Atlantic, the kids munch on, what else? Chocolate croissants. We still had another quick flight over to Shannon to begin our horseshoe tour of the island, up the west coast, across into Northern Ireland, and finally south to finish in Dublin.

After landing in Shannon, we picked up our manual shift Volvo S60. The interior was plastered with stickers everywhere to remind you to drive on the left, as if the steering wheel being on the opposite side wasn't reminder enough. I'm proud to say that, aside from the minor mirror rub, I did pretty dang well driving on the wrong side of the road. The harder part was using the left hand to shift gears!

A dad and his son. Dad secretly holding son for dear life. Reason? See that little sign in the lower right hand corner?

Beautiful, but don't get too close to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher.

Gus O'Connor's, location of the first of many pints.

The Burren: "place of rocks." Aptly named. The big rock in the second picture is a "giant's football," the first of many references to giants and fairies.

Bunratty castle, again, the first of many to come.

The Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb in County Clare.

We decided that we should check out the Cliffs of Moher from the water. But that water looks... choppy.

An awesome view!

Do not adjust your monitor, we were in fact pretty green from the chop! The salty captain even gave Lisa a bag, just in case, but luckily it wasn't needed.

That took us to the end of our time in Doolin, County Clare.  Next, it was on to Galway!

The Blizzard of ’09

When we woke up Saturday morning, there was already a good layer of snow on the ground. In DC, this is about all we usually get from a good snowstorm. This one, however, was just getting underway.

Evan's unique way of "helping": mowing the already plowed path. If only his lawnmower was a snowblower....

Ellie actually did help out with her shovel, for a little while anyway.

You can see how hard it was coming down: once you shoveled one bit, it was quickly covered with more snow.

This was the only depth marking I was able to use the ruler for. We had to move to the yardstick after this.

Yardstick measurement: 17 inches.

Morning measurement: just over 18 inches.

The first of a series of Saint Francis depth photos. You can still see him in this one. (That's called foreshadowing.)

Saint Francis is indeed under there somewhere.

A bit later, we swept the snow away from Saint Francis' face. It was easily over his head.

Here's what our front door looked like at sundown. I didn't shovel that area at all, unlike the driveway, which had already gotten two or three passes.

The house looks so pretty with the Christmas lights and the snow.

Saint Francis is under one of those lumps somewhere the next morning.

How bout that good lookin' driveway? My helpers are ready to play now though.

I keep telling Lisa that I don't let Evan watch pro wrestling, but he must be watching it somewhere.

Dragging the kids to the sledding hill.

Well worn paths make for good sledding.

Ellie sledding.

Evan sledding.

Dad about to go off the jump he made.

Ellie's looking festive.

First Day of School 2009

Hard to believe, but we now have two kids in school!  Wow.  Ellie started the first grade, and she's already an old pro.  She's in the same classroom as she was in last year, thanks to a fluke in scheduling, so she didn't even need us to walk her to class.  Evan started two days a week of preschool.  He had a harder time of things at first.  He eventually warmed up though, after seeing Ellie's picture on his classroom wall (she had the same preschool teacher her first year), and especially when his buddy Abby showed up.  He's got a little crush, and who could blame him?  Now, the important stuff: pictures!

Ready to get out the door.

Say cheese!

Ellie was obviously ready to go, in spite of the rain. Why does it always have to rain on the first day of school? I guess we shouldn't complain as long as it's nice for outdoor birthday parties.

Evan wasn't too far behind. A little slow, but he'll get used to it.

Crossing the busy street.

The "clique" is ready to terrorize first grade.

She knew right where her seat was, and waved me off after sitting down and immediately started reading her book.

Evan had just said goodbye to Mom when I showed up to take pictures. He was having a tough time. But I brought with me the magic solution: his ever-cheery buddy Abby! He toughened up after seeing her immediately get down to playing with the blocks. Seriously, is she not the cutest? I'd be trying to impress her too!

Obviously he was okay, because when we came to pick him up, this is how we found him: still playing with the toys, no trouble at all.

Walking home after the first day with their ginormous backpacks. Too cute!

Mac and cheese for lunch, post-first day.

A happy reunion at the end of Ellie's first day.

Ireland Pictures

No commentary yet, but you can view all of our raw, unedited, 487 pictures from Ireland on our Picasa web site.

Snow Day!

After trying to shovel the driveway twice yesterday morning, I finally gave up and decided to stay home for a snow day.  It was totally worth it.  We made a snowwoman just at the right time, since the sun came out for a little while and melted the snow just enough to allow us to pack it properly.  Then after warming up and having some lunch, we headed back out to go sledding.  Would you believe this was the first time Evan had ever gone sledding???  Thanks to our neighbor Jennifer for taking the pictures for us.

Ellie in the snow

Ellie shows Evan how it's done.

Evan in the snow

Evan went down on his back like this every single time.  He looked hilarious in his elf hat.

snow-angels

I made snow angels with our neighbors' daughter.  See how deep it was?  Our own measurements came up with about 8 inches!

me-lisa

Good looking couple.

ellie-stella

Ellie and Stella make the little sledding hill look a lot more thrilling than it probably was.  But it was just right for the kids.

Switch It Up

For better or for worse, I officially moved the blog to WordPress.  Feel free to comment, because you (hopefully) can.

Update: It's worse apparently, for now.  Seems that all the images and videos are not resolving like I thought they would be, so I've got some fixing to do.  Sorry about that.

Update 2: I think that I managed to hack a fix to most of the stuff that was broken.  Still a lot of work to do, but I think it's mostly done.  Please do let me know if you find broken stuff.  I imagine the Google will take a few days to get things indexed back properly too.

The New Place

Welcome to the new edition of The D's!  Let me know if you have any problems.  I'm already trying to fix the aggregator that is supposed to be feeding this page and was not mixing the various blogs in correctly.  Very frustrating.

Rain Everywhere

We survived the rain of Hurricane Hanna. Unfortunately, not entirely unscathed. After the rain stopped, I was outside trying to put my new bike lights on my bike, and went downstairs to the workshop to get a screwdriver. Walking in, I was greeted with a big puddle. Oddly, it didn't seem to come from above, but appeared to seep up from underneath. The water soaked mostly just the stuff on the floor in the workshop, prodding me to finally get around to cleaning that place up. Some of the water also seeped into the basement living area, but we stopped it before it hit the carpet. Not bad, since the worst side effect was that we didn't have time to go grocery shopping and instead went to Glory Days Grill for dinner, where I had the Glory Cheesesteak, topped with queso and fried onion rings. Evil and delicious, and so worth it.
Aside from a few small branches down around the place, the 8 inches of rain were the worst of the storm we got, and naturally we got the most rainfall in the area.

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