Friday, June 19, 2015

On Fatherhood

I won the lottery of life with the man who is the father of my children.  As I look at this incredible life I have with this incredible partner to walk through life with, I feel nothing but blessed.  Before we married, I didn't know exactly how Peter would react to fatherhood as he had very limited experience with children.  But for some reason he agreed to marry me, knowing full well that I wanted a house full of kids!

What I find so amazing about this guy, is how he values and makes time for his family.  He works very long hours and heads out the door by 5:30 AM each day so that he can get home to the family at a reasonable time.  He walks through the door and plays with the kids and helps around the house until the kids are tucked into their beds and the housework is done.  He never complains either.  

  He was right by my side in the calling of adoption for our family.  I don't know if everyone understands this, but the adoption process makes women, well a little bit crazy!  Our mama hearts are tender during the wait.  But he was by my side and tried to help me as best as he could.  I will never forget those first days of fatherhood with him.  He was nervous going into it, but took to it like a pro and Mal and him bonded in a special way!   He took on way more than his share of the duties as I was quite sick, being in my first trimester at the same time.  I fell more in love with him, watching him fall in love with our son and our son's country! 

I will never forget driving to the hospital after my water broke with Eli.  I was scared and you could tell Peter was a bit nervous too, but he was holding us together.  He was our rock through the moments after Eli was born.  He never hesitated as I was a wreck to take control of the situation.  He was by Eli's side the whole time and I fell more in love with him because of that!  He took such good care of all of our little family in those days!

And then there was the Princess. Who has had her daddy wrapped since the day she was born!  I don't think many men could handle growing as quickly as we grew.  But he has been by my side every step of the way. The days were so hard back when we had 3 babies but we made it through and I owe it all to him for picking up more than his fair share of the responsibilities. 

And then we've grown again since last Father's Day.  Again, I don't understand why he signed up for my crazy, but I'm glad he did.  He never once hesitated when I told him I was ready to adopt again. His love for those who need loved is inspiring.  Not only did I fall more in love with him as he loved our newest daughter, but I fell in love with him as I watched him tenderly show love to her birth mama.

Yeah, my man is pretty impressive!  I am so grateful to go through this life with a man who loves me and loves our children and works diligently to take care of and provide for us.  I love that the first thing all the kids do when they hear the key opening the front door is run to get hugs and kisses because they adore him!  He wrestles and does things with them that I never would, but he also tenderly tucks them into bed at night after reading the Bible, prays over them, and gives them hugs and kisses.  My children fully know a father's love and for that I am grateful!

"He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." ~Clarence Budington Kelland

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ireland Day 9

I seriously just want to pinch myself!  This trip has been so amazing!  We have been able to see and do so much and I completely understand why Peter loves this country so much! We saw all the highlights of Dublin today. I know there is so much more to see and do, but we hit the big one's at least!  

We woke up to another day of just incredible weather here! I don't know how we've been so blessed!  I truly never would have thought we would have even thought a 10 day streak of nothing but sunshine was possible in Ireland!  Our first stop this morning was to Trinity College!  What a beautiful campus in the heart of Dublin!

Of course Trinity College houses an amazing part of history in the Book Of Kells.  We are not allowed to photograph the book itself but learning the history and seeing how intricate it was put together was truly amazing.  It is also amazing to see how many times in history it was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yet it was never destroyed. It stood the test through wars and battles and even thieves.

The Book of Kells is housed inside The Old Library at Trinity College.  An added treat to seeing the Book of Kells is getting to tour the Old Library.  You may recognize that it looks a bit familiar, because it was also in the Harry Potter movies.  It is a beautiful place to get to see and I can only imagine all the incredible books within these doors!  

After our tour of the campus we walked over to St Stephen's Green to tour the park.  It was very pretty, especially in this weather! 

There was a cute little swan family hanging out with all their adorable little babies! 

Then it was a nice little walk over to St Patrick's Cathedral.  This was our hidden gem of the day.  We had to wait a few minutes for the church service inside to end before we could tour it.  I love that these cathedral's are still very active to their purpose even today!  The outside of this building alone was just beautiful to see!

But I kind of stood in awe as we entered!  It was just incredible! And the history of St Patrick and all that he did for this country (as we learned some of it yesterday) is just amazing.  Many attribute him fully to the conversion of Ireland to the Christian based country it is today.

The stained glass was amazing to look at! 

A picture cannot do this stained glass justice but I just loved these panels!

We also did a visit to Christ Church Cathedral.  This one is under a bit of renovation so we couldn't enjoy it in all of its glory. And the church service was just about to begin so unfortunately we couldn't tour the building.

We also saw Dublin Castle.  It was a pretty building, but after visiting the nearby Cathedral's it was a bit of a letdown.

And we waivered back and forth on this one but Guinness is such a huge part of this city, that we decided to do the Guinness Storehouse Tour. As our cab driver brought us into Dublin, he showed us all of the buildings that Guinness is made in and let me tell you, it is a huge operation in this downtown area and you wouldn't even realize all those buildings are actually Guinness buildings.  As we were about 10 minutes from Guinness I told Peter I smelled something good in the air, it kind of smelled like sour dough bread baking but slightly different.  I remember our taxi driver mentioning that you could smell the Guinness in the air if you were close to the production area.  Sure enough, the closer we got the more I realized that this city does in fact smell like Guinness. 

The tour was a bit hokey, and there were numerous moments as we went through it that I felt a bit like we were in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  They eventually sent us off to this bright white room with some funky smells coming out of these pods.  The pods had 4 smells that are essential to Guinness.  The room was made specially with the lights and such to awaken our senses and prepare us to fully taste the Guinness the way it was meant to be tasted. 

View from the Gravity Bar. Dublin definitely wouldn't win any prizes for being the "prettiest" city in the world but it has some really cool buildings. Some fun little things:  Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease in 1759 for 45 euros per year on the grounds where the Guinness Storehouse now stand. Some of his employees are also responsible for the development of the Guinness Book of World Records.  And interestingly Arthur's 3rd son (of 21 children) who inherited the factory (and became the richest man in Ireland) paid all the money out of his own pocket to rebuild and restore St Patrick's Cathedral way back in the day and he is the reason that amazing building is here!  Pretty cool!

Before heading back to our room to rest prior to our last dinner in Ireland, we had to hit the number 1 ice cream spot in the city.  This place is so cool and so yummy. So what is fun is that you combine any 2 flavors on their menu to make your treat.  So I had a scoop of caramel and a scoop of something I've never had before - sea salt ice cream.  So yummy!  I really hope that flavor makes its way over to America!  Peter mixed Irish Cream with Sea Salt and I think that may have been one of his most favorite treats ever!  

Well that wraps up my trip reports of Ireland. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to come over and spend this time with my hubby and see this amazing place.  I truly don't think this trip could have been any better and I am sure the next time I am here the weather will not be able to compare.  I miss my babies so sooo much and I can't wait to see them but this is a trip that I will not soon forget!  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ireland Day 8

Today was one of those days I am going to remember for a long time. It was just incredible. After a wonderful weekend at Cliffs of Moher last week, I had no expectations that we would have nice weather, especially as Northern Ireland has a reputation to always be a bit drizzly even if it isn't full on raining.

Our driver picked us up right at 7:30 and we were on our way. We knew this was going to be a very long day of sightseeing but so worth it.  He kept commenting right from the beginning that we were going to have a truly rare and special sightseeing day with this weather.  He said they have maybe 1 out of 100 days with weather this nice up there.

After quite a drive we found our way up to Northern Ireland. Our driver was so full of information and history on the conflicts between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  It has been a crazy history between these two countries but they seem to be on good terms for at least the time being. Although Northern Ireland was full of towns where you could still clearly see based on the flags hanging that they aren't in support of Ireland.  We would drive through cities and he would mention how terrorists are still a huge part of that city but at least they've put the guns down.  Just some crazy, crazy stories shared with us today, covering the entire history of Ireland and Northern Ireland and they've seen some tough days!

But after being on the bus for a couple hours, we arrived at our first destination. Now, I seriously booked this specific touring group because they were the only ones I found who stopped at the Dark Hedges.  I saw these when I was researching Ireland and I really wanted to see them for myself.  They really are quite amazing and mysterious.

Not too far from the Dark Hedges, we found ourselves at Carrick-a-Rede rope bride.  I honestly did not have high expectations for this stop but wow was I blown away!  I think the most beautiful views we've seen this whole trip were from this location. Just gorgeous out there!  


The supposed highlight of this whole place is the rope bridge.  I told Peter I was going to have no part of that, but he made me by buying a ticket and it really wasn't too bad. Although it was a bit bouncy and windy out in the middle of it. 

And then we were on to the main event, The Giant's Causeway.  What a cool place to visit and see! And we were told that it is ALWAYS misting or raining here so the fact that we had dry weather was just incredible! 

I was so impressed with the beauty everywhere we have gone in Ireland.  It is mostly farmland and just a very casual lifestyle. And oh so beautiful!  I love the clouds in the picture below!

And we made a brief stop and learned some of the history of Dunluce Castle.
A local legend states that at one point, part of the kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the sea, after which the wife of the owner refused to live in the castle any longer. According to a legend, when the kitchen fell into the sea only a kitchen boy survived, as he was sitting in the corner of the kitchen which did not collapse. However, the kitchen is still intact and next to the manor house. You can still see the oven, fireplace and entry ways into it. It was only until the some time in the 18th century that the north wall of the residence building collapsed into the sea. The east, west and south walls still stand

It's still a pretty cool castle ruin to see! I think what I love most about Ireland is that you can actually imagine all the stories told and battles fought in the area.  It has such a rich and real history.

I feel like this is the perfect picture to represent most of Ireland.  Incredible views, so lusciously green, with cows or sheep grazing in the fields around the houses. 

Before making the long drive back to Dublin, we made a quick stop in Belfast.  Wow, what a history this city has.  It is still in the process of rebuilding after all the bombings that took place there.  But the city seems to be recovering well. Our tour guide pointed out some cool places that I wasn't able to get pictures of, like a clock tower that is leaning more than the tower of Pisa. A prominent university that moved away when all the unrest was happening but is now rebuilding and moving back to Belfast.  And a hotel that was bombed 33 times (more than any other building in the world) and yet is still standing and solid as ever! 

Unfortunately our time in Belfast was very brief, but it is definitely a place I would love to spend more time in.  It looked very beautiful and full of so much history! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ireland Day 7

Today was our last day in Ennis.  After a horrible night sleep in the tiniest bed ever, I was happy to move on today. Peter got up extra early today to try and get as much done as he could in his office. His employer has a fun summer program where they want you to only work half days on Friday's so that meant we could leave for Dublin a bit earlier in the day.

I stayed in the room as long as I could and then checked out and enjoyed my last little bit of time people watching and reading books on the streets of Ennis.  It was fun to see how everyone seems to know everyone in Ennis.   It definitely has some small town charm to it.

After a couple hours, Peter and his boss showed up. His boss was kind enough to drive us the 2ish hours across Ireland to Dublin.  His poor boss lives in Dublin and is trying to relocate back to the western side of Ireland but for the last several months has commuted back and forth from his family each week for work.  

We arrived into Dublin around 6 and settled into our hotel right in the heart of all the action.  We knew this was going to be an extra busy weekend in Dublin as it is "Taste of Dublin" and there is also a big soccer match between the Scottish brothers and Ireland tomorrow.  You know it might get a bit crazy when our hotel provided ear plugs for us.  

Man alive, can these people party!  I was truly not expecting just how crazy and busy the downtown parts of Dublin would be tonight.  It will be nice to NOT be in the city tomorrow and we're told things will calm down considerably by Sunday when we plan to sight see. I hope so! But we tried to enjoy the crazy excitement going on around town as we strolled the streets. 

Grafton Street, the huge shopping area:

The old buildings and especially the old churches everywhere fascinate me!

The Temple Bar area. This is the chaos going on all around our hotel. And this was early in the evening.  I've heard it is going to get much crazier!  But the bars seemed to be having their fun, lots of loud sing alongs could be heard out in the streets.

There were lots of cool musical groups set up everywhere.

And that was that for us.  Temple Bar is definitely not our scene but this level of partying is definitely a part of Irish culture. We were told things should settle down out there between 3 or 4 in the morning.  Fortunately I had already asked the hotel for their "quietest" room and we always have those ear plugs.