Thursday, May 6, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We finally made it home! We must have had luck on our side, because we flew out of Dublin when they reopened the airport at 1pm right on time. Our flight was great--those tvs in the front of your seat are fantastic. Two movies and a couple tv shows later we were in Chicago. It all feels like it was a you woke up and nothing had changed while you were away. The cats want to be fed, the dog needs to go out, and the kids are asking, "What's for breakfast?" I tried going back to sleep but that wasn't happening. It feels really good to be home. The girls are so happy to see everyone, including all the animals. I wonder how long it will be before the bottoms of my feet start itching. I love to travel but now I love it even more that the girls like it too. They were fantastic on the entire adventure. I want to say a HUGE thank you to a few of you. Without you we just couldn't have made this trip possible--my mom and dad, for watching the house and running little errands for us, to Heather and Aaron for taking on Raisin for those long months and to Lynn and Aaron for babysitting our two kitties. Thank you so much.
Lucy waiting so patiently at the airport.

Finally, she's complete. Lucy and her hens.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kilbeggan Races

We drove down to Kilbeggan tonight for the first race of the season. You wouldn't know it by the looks of the sky, but it rained all day today. I thought we'd be out in the miserable rain to watch the races, but it stopped about 15 min. before we got there and the sun came out. How lucky is that?

Does this picture even need words?

Wow. That's all I can say. Wow again.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Riding Lesson XIII

Sofie in the lead on Pele. She's gotten a lot more confident out in front. She's so darn cute on that horse!

They had to canter with one hand on their hat. To just let you all know, Sofie used to be pretty scared to canter. I think I remember some screaming?.... and now to watch her canter with one hand on her head is just amazing.

Could she be any happier?? This is what makes Lucy happy. She had such a fun lesson. She kept dropping her stirrups and riding without them. She even cantered with out them! The girls both had an amazing lesson--they jumped the highest this afternoon too. They've learned so much these last few months at lessons. The weather was gorgeous, lessons were great..... and then we had to say goodbye. Such a bittersweet goodbye too because today was their last lesson! We are heading home next week. Riding lessons really gave the girls something to look forward to every week and they worked hard during that hour too. I'd hear about the sore legs on Friday! Big thanks to Claire and Lily for having the girls and making us feel so welcome!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Irish National Stud

With two horse lovers in the family, we couldn't avoid the Irish National Stud farm! We drove down to Kildare this afternoon and took the tour of the farm. Before we did that, we walked through the world famous Japanese garden. The garden tells the story of life--birth through death.

After we walked through all the aspects of life--birth, ignorance, gathering intellect, love, success and failures in marriage, old age, and finally death--we made our way over to the Sun Chariot Yard for the timed tour. We saw the stables where the mares birth foals, the forge where the horse shoes are made, the saddlery, and the round barn where the stallion is brought in to meet his mare. There are eight stallions at the farm. The most valuable one has a stud fee of €45,000. He's also insured for €60 million. All the Thoroughbred horses here are bred just for flat racing. We finished up the tour and got to walk around and see all the stallions, the mares, and foals! April is a great time to visit the farm because it's foal season!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Riding Lesson XII

Nope, there's nothing wrong with that picture It's dust. I didn't get too many pictures. They'd all ride by and I'd have to turn my back to keep from inhaling two pounds of dust. At least it wasn't pouring rain! Dry is good.

Spring is Here!

The weather here is gorgeous! The girls and I went out to Birr Castle with a picnic this afternoon. The gardens are beautiful in the winter but in the spring? Wow. The flowers were blooming, the grass is green, and we even saw a few butterflies.

First came the ducks, then came the swan. He was almost as big as Sofie! His mate was sitting on a nest not to far from us on an island out in the pond. Sofie picked the cheese off her sandwich and fed it to him. Swans like cheese. Who knew?

I had to put this photo of Lucy up here. This is one of the best shots I've ever taken of her. She's tough to capture. Photgraphing kids is like trying to photograph your dog. They move unpredictably, make silly faces, or just run from you! It's the easiest when they're sleeping. The girls say I'm their paparazzi. It's true. It's even worse now I don't have to take a break and change film!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cork and Kinsale

We headed down to Cork on Saturday. Looking at the map, it didn't look too far so we left about 11 a.m. It took us 3 hours to get there! I don't know if we were spoiled by Germany but we were left feeling a little let down by Cork. The town center is fantastic but as soon as you walk away from it you feel like you're in a ghost town. There were no people, the buildings were boarded up and it was strangely quiet. The one thing to see when you do go to Cork is the Covered Market. It has a small doorway to enter but once you go in it's a maze of fresh fish stalls, fruit and veg., chocolates, fresh pasta and meats. Anything you could possibly want for you dinner was there. I'm not that into food so much--I don't really like to cook. Heck, I don't even grocery shop at home! (Tim does that) But if I had the Covered Market to shop at, I'd take over. That's how much I loved it. Street performers are big in Cork. We came across this guy laying on a bed of nails.

When he stood up, his back looked like a pin cushion. Ouch.

Then he showed off how flexible he was. Ouch again.

My dream grocery store! Fresh pizza dough? They had it. Fresh whole cod? Done. Fresh ravioli? Yeah, that too. I even saw a whole cooked turkey. Cooked! Could it get any better? Should I go on and on about the wine? the chocolates? the cheeses? We had to get out of there before I hid in some stall, begging to work for food.

The Covered Market

After walking around the town center in Cork we decided to follow Rick Steve's advice (he said Cork isn't worth seeing) we headed down to Kinsale. What a gem of a town. If you need to go to the south, this is a town worth staying in. It's small, very walkable and so charming--like a postcard. We grabbed a few pizzas and had a picnic in the park. I think the girls (and Tim!) are getting tired of sightseeing. So we ate our pizza and slowly walked back to the car, dreading the now 3 1/2 hour drive home.