Saturday, September 30, 2017

Beautiful September

Julian showing off his rocket Hyrum helped him build for the Cub Scout rocket derby.  These little suckers shot way up in the air!

Took advantage of a sunny day and picked some fresh peaches.  It took me only about 5 minutes to pick all these peaches.  They were SOOOO delicious!

Hyrum took me on a date for the season opening of the Oregon Symphony.  They played some beautiful pieces and the guest narrator was George Takei.  We had great seats, just about 7 rows from the front.

I coached Julian's soccer team this year... was a bit crazy!

Julian's class dressed up like ducks for the annual "Panther Dash" at school.  They were so cute!

It started to sprinkle, then rain, then pour down rain!  Poor kids were all soaked after running for 15 minutes.  I was so proud of him that he ran the whole time, even wet and cold.

We took advantage of a sunny Saturday to go for a bike ride at Champoeg State Park.

Hyrum's brother Jason joined us for the ride.  Also, the little dog Hyrum is holding in the family picture is Jason's roommates dog that he was babysitting for the weekend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hike up Saddle Mountain

Kids are in school, weather is beautiful, what should I do with my time?  How about a hike in the mountains?  Not usually my first choice of activity but my friend Hannah Holt sent out an open invitation to anyone that wanted to join her on this hike.  I have to admit, I'm not a great fan of hiking but the beautiful day made up for the fact that I couldn't breathe and had to take it pretty slow on the last 1/4 mile because it was so steep and I'm so out of shape:)  The trail was 4.5 miles long but was very steep in some places.  I'm glad I went with ladies that didn't mind stopping a lot;)

Our view from about halfway up.  It was super foggy and clouded in down below but just gorgeous blue skies once you got above the clouds.

Taking a break at a scenic point.  You can see how cloudy it was just below us.  It actually made for a fun "walk in the clouds" sort of feel.

I'm on top of the world!

The view from the top.  You are supposed to see all the way to the coast and some of the surrounding volcanoes but it was too cloudy.  I guess I'll have to come back:)

Group shot of the 4 of us that went on the hike.  Me, Elizabeth VanHorne, Cynthia Greathouse and Hannah Holt.  Such a fun group of ladies to spend the day with!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Back to School

Julian started 3rd grade on Tuesday September 5th.  The boys didn't have to start school until the next day so I took them and some friends bowling.  I'm such a nice mom:)  The next day when all my kids were in school I went for a motorcycle ride with a  friend out to lunch to celebrate my freedom:)

Julian at his desk on the first day of school.  Hyrum and I walked him to school and he seemed excited but a bit nervous.

Bowling with some crazy 13 year olds while Julian was at school

I brought Julian his schultuete after school.  He was super excited.  This is his 3rd grade teacher Ms. Marshall.  She was also Townsend's 3rd grade teacher:)

Back to school for the twins...8th GRADE!!

Freedom!!!  Celebrating with my friend Karen Rust.

I had to take a photo of these before I threw them away.  These are the lunch bags my twins have taken to school every year since kindergarten.  They had a good long run but I finally decided it was time to buy the boys new bags.  These ones were quite dirty and the velcro was coming off.  Still impressed they lasted 8 years!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ward Campout

August 24-26: Each year our ward heads out to Cape Lookout for a night.  We always end up going for 2 nights because it's nice to spend more than one night once you get all your camping gear together.  We let the twins invite a few friends to come with us this year which was fun for them.  We had great weather.  I didn't get any photos but Hyrum and I were in charge of the breakfast fort the whole ward.  We had muffins, cereal, yogurt and hot chocolate.  Everyone said it was perfect.

The boys enjoying a sunny morning at camp.

We took a trip out to visit the Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Julian and Little Sammy inside the lighthouse

From the lighthouse you can hike up to the "Octopus Tree" which was pretty cool.

On the trail back to our car.  Such beautiful weather!

Julian with Landon Child.  This live crab reached around and pinched Landon right after I took this photo...poor kid was bleeding.  Nasty old crab!

Julian and Daddy enjoying some time at the beach.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse

Oregon was lucky enough to be in the "path of totality" for the solar eclipse.  If we had stayed in Hillsboro we would have been able to see the eclipse at 99.6% of totality.  I thought this would be good enough and wasn't going to worry about the traffic and driving south 2 hours just to be in the path of total eclipse.  But, Katrina and Steve Doxey convinced me it would be worth it so I decided to drive down with them.  We left at 4:00 AM to miss traffic.  It only took us 1 1/2 hours to drive to Monmouth, Oregon and we didn't have any problems with traffic.   We parked our cars at a nice spot and all took a nap.  By 9:00 AM you could see a sliver of the moon as it moved in front of the sun.  It took until 10:15 for the sun to be completely covered by the moon.  At that point we could take off our cool solar eclipse glasses and look directly at the sun/moon.  It was amazing.  The temperature dropped, there was a 360 degree sunset in all directions, the sun looked like a glowing circle in the sky.  It only lasted 2 minutes but it was amazing!  Poor Hyrum had to work and so only got to view the eclipse at 99.6% and what a difference that made!  He wasn't able to take off his glasses because that tiny sliver of sun that was visible was so super bright.  He did get to see some cool effects of shadows from the eclipse but nothing like being able to take off our glasses and gaze into the sun...simply amazing!

Most of the group that drove down for the event.  Oma was with us as well as Steve's brother and some of his kids drove up from California.

The twins waiting for the total eclipse

The cool shadows the trees made during the eclipse.

Not my picture but this is what it looked like as the moon slowly moved in front of the sun.  It looked like Cookie Monster eating the sun:)

Also not my photo but this was what it looked like during the total eclipse.  So amazing and cool and fantastic.  I can't wait until I get to experience this again, it was so wonderful!

A friend of mine (with an awesome camera and great photography skills) took this photo of the entire eclipse.  She is amazing and the eclipse was amazing.

It did end up taking us about 4 hours to drive home because of traffic but I am so happy Katrina and Steve convinced me to go!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

And We're All Off to Dublin...

Our big family vacation this year was a trip to Ireland.  For some reason Julian got on an Irish kick some time last Spring.  He studied up on the Irish flag, music and legends.  He would quiz me with questions like, "What is St. Patrick known for?"  So, it put Ireland in our minds and so we did a bit of planning and came up with 2 weeks of amazing Irish fun!  With the 4 years we spent living in Germany we had never made it over to Ireland so it was a real treat to have somewhere new to explore.

August 3:
Julian on the airplane.  It was a very long flight and none of us slept at all...

...which means when we arrived in Ireland this is what Julian was doing while we were waiting for Hyrum to get our rental car.  We were all exhausted!

Hyrum was a pro driving on the left side of the road.  It took a bit getting used to but in the end he was driving like a local.

All the kids were really tired when we got to our apartment around noon but we didn't want anyone to go to sleep too early.  So we agreed the kids could stay at the apartment on their iPads and Hyrum, Oma and I took a little walk around Dublin.  We enjoyed walking around the beautiful gardens in St. Stephens Green.

Then we wandered around the Temple Bar district.  I loved how all the pubs had live music and you could just pop inside for a few minutes and then move on when you wanted.

August 4:
We took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol (Jail).  This jail was in use from 1796-1924.  It has an amazing history but is mostly remembered today as the final holding cell for the leaders of the 1916 Irish uprising against their British rulers.

Cool old door in the oldest part of the jail.

This was the most recent addition to the jail.  It was thought to be very modern thinking at the time to have so much light and open space inside a jail.  

The yard where the 16 rebel leaders were executed by firing squad.  We found reference to the 1916 uprising all over Dublin and Ireland.

Group photo outside the entrance to the jail.

We took a tour bus around Dublin to rest our feet and to see some sites.  We got off at the National Museum to see some neat treasures from the Stone Age to modern Irish times.  This is the beautiful Tara Brooch from the 8th century.

Super creepy but very interesting were the "bog bodies" that were on display.  From Rick Steves, "When the Celts arrived in Ireland (around 500BC) they brought with them a mysterious practice:  They brutally murdered sacrificial slaves or prisoners and buried them in bogs.  Several bodies--shriveled and leathery, but remarkably preserved--have been dug up from around the Celtic world.

Once again the boys opted to stay at the apartment that evening and so Hyrum, Oma and I went to see a show at the Abby Theater.  It was well done and had some fun Irish music.  It was a story of a young man that had to flee Ireland because he was seen as stirring up his Irish neighbors to fight for Independence.  

August 5:
We started our day off with a tour of the Book of Kells.  This is a 1,200 year old version of the 4 Gospels, the first 4 books in the New Testament.  Each page was elaborately decorated by faithful monks.  It was simply amazing to see the pages close up and wonder at how they were so meticulous in a time without magnifying glasses or special inks!  It was also wonderful to see how preserved it was...simply amazing!  You weren't allowed to take photos of the book so I just pulled this photo of the internet as an example of the intricacy of the work.

After our tour of the Book of Kells we went upstairs to explore a bit of Trinity College's super awesome library.

The oldest surviving Irish harp, from the 15th century!

Since we were already at Trinity college we decided to pay a small fee to go on a guided tour of the campus.  The student that took us around was very knowledgeable and it was fun to learn about the history of this college.

From the college we took a walking tour of O'Connell street.  This is the General Post office.  It was from here that Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of Irish Independence in 1916 which started the uprising.  You can still see bullet holes in the pillars from where the British soldiers were shooting at the rebels.

Another stop in the O'Connell street tour is the Garden of Remembrance.  Once again, this garden was dedicated to the memory of those that died during the 1916 uprising.  It was opened in 1966 to mark the 50th anniversary of the uprising.

We stopped by to say hello to Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square.  I really wish I would have taken a video of the kids playing at the playground here.  The boys were pushing Julian on a swing (one from the front and one from the back) and he was swinging so high and everyone was laughing and smiling.  I'm glad they had that moment of fun.  For the most part we got some complaining about walking around old buildings and museums!

The houses around Merrion Square are famous for their beautiful, old doorways.

Our final stop of the day was to visit the Dublinia museum.  This museum talked about the history of Ireland from the early Viking and medieval past.  There were lots of great exhibits that showed what life would have been like in Dublin during these times.

That evening Hyrum, Oma and I took a walking pub crawl/music tour.  It was led by two guys, one playing the violin the other guitar and bodhran (Irish drum).  It was so much fun!  There were about 20 of us on the tour so it wasn't super crowded.  Our guides were funny and full of energy.  We learned a lot about Irish music and how it played such an important role in Irish culture.  It was a fantastic way to spend an evening!

August 6:

We left the fun city of Dublin and headed south.  We made a quick stop at the Gardens of Powerscourt.  This beautiful garden was started in 1731 as the backdrop for a wealthy estate.  It's so neat to walk around a place like this and just imagine the parties and formal gatherings that took place over the many years.

Julian in front of one of the fountains.

Hyrum and I in front of the pond with the grand house in the background.

The garden had a pretty cool pet cemetery with all sorts of animals.  Here is the tombstone placed in remembrance of Eugenie the Jersey Cow:)

Our next stop was to see the German cemetery in Glencree.

Germans from WWI as well as WWII are buried here.  Most of these men died at sea and their bodies were washed to shore in Ireland.  It was a beautiful little cemetery and I thought very touching of the Irish to set aside a plot of land for the Germans.

Our final stop for the night was Glendalough.  It was pouring down rain and very windy so you can imagine the boys response when we said we wanted to hike to the Upper Lake.  They opted to stay nice and dry at the hostel while we went for a walk:)  This lake was were a monk, later known as St. Kevin, founded a monastery in the 6th century.  The monastery of Glendalough became one of the most famous in Ireland and is a site to some spectacular ruins.

Walking around the cemetery of Glendalough in the rain.  It was nice because there were no other tourists there at that time of day but it was cold and rainy!

August 7:
Waking up in our hostel in Glendalough.  The beds were not at all comfortable but it was a cheap and convenient place to stay:)

Walking around Glendalough the nest morning was so gorgeous.  The sun was out and everything was fresh and green.

You could take about 1,000 photos at Glendalough and still not be able to capture the beauty of this place.

The boys thought running around the old ruins was pretty cool

All different sorts of stones and crosses are found in the cemetery...which is still used for burials to this day.

Sadly we had to leave the beautiful Glendalough and travel on.  We made a stop at Jerpoint Abbey.  Founded by monks in the 12th century, this Abbey is well known for its well preserved stone carvings alongside it tombs.

An example of a tomb carving showing some of the apostles.

The columns around the cloister arcade are also carved

They had no interest in listening to the tour but they did enjoy exploring around the Abbey on their own.

We finally got to our destination, Kilkenny.  We found our hostel and got checked in and grabbed a bite to eat at a pizza place.

Then we headed up the hill for a tour of Kilkenny castle.  This was the seat of power for the Butler family for more than 500 years.  It is now restored to its Victorian era splendor.

In the dining hall of the castle.  This was one of the first rooms on the tour.  After this room the boys sort of did their own "abbreviated" tour which means they went through every room as quickly as possible.  

Inside the beautiful portrait hall.

The view of the street from our hostel window.

Hyrum and I went to a pub across from our hostel for some late night music.  This was a family of musicians and the pub seemed to be full of locals enjoying a night out.

August 8:
The cathedral in Kilkenny has one of the few round towers that is actually open to the public to climb.  It was a bit freaky up there.  As you can see the tower leans quite a bit to the left and once you are at the top it feels like it's REALLY leaning!

Julian was technically too young to go to the top but we sort of snuck him in!

Townsend emerging from the ladder at the top of the tower

Wonderful view from the top!

Our next stop was the Rock of Cashel.  This was the seat of the ancient kings of Munster and where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in about 450 AD.  Because of the great location this spot was fought over by local clans for hundreds of years.

It rained on and off for the whole time we were here but you could still see the beautiful land surrounding the castle.

A tomb inside the ruined cathedral

Such a wonderful place to walk around and enjoy learning about the early history of Ireland.

After walking around the Rock of Cashel we took a beautiful drive around the scenic road known as the Ring of Kerry.

We made a side trip to the Staigue Fort.  This fort is just in the middle of some farmers field so there were cows wandering around outside the fort:)

Inside the fort.  The boys had so much fun climbing on and around those rock walls!

More beauty on the Ring of Kerry

I like this shot because you can see the cute little mini van we drove around Ireland in.  We drove all the way to Portmagee where we were staying in our 3rd hostel.

August 9:
On a boat to Skellig Michael.  The island is 7 miles off shore but it took about 45 minutes to get out there.

You can see the island in the background.  The monastic settlement we were visiting was on TOP of this island!

Heading up the 500+ steps to get to the top

Very steep stone steps!

I was very impressed with Oma.  She is afraid of heights but made it to the top!!

Skellig Michael was first inhabited by 6th century monks looking to get closer to God by separating themselves from other people.  From Rick Steves guide book, "Chiseling the most rudimentary life from solid rock, the monks lived a harsh, lonely, disciplined existence here, their colony surviving for more than 500 years."

Group photo at the top

The boys had fun exploring this old settlement.  These beehive type houses were fun to look inside and there were a lot of old stone walls to climb on.

This place was fantastic!  My favorite spot in Ireland.  And the weather was beautiful for us, which was great because I'm sure those stone steps get slippery in the rain!

Hyrum took about a million pictures.  It's just so beautiful

Heading back down to the boats.

Back on the boat ready to head to Portmagee.  Unfortunately the wind had picked up by the afternoon and so the waves were super choppy and it took us an hour and a half to get back to port.

After our fantastic morning we started heading for Dingle.  We stopped by two more forts, Leacanabuile stone fort and...

Cahergall stone fort.  This one was the biggest of the ring forts we had explored with one of the walls standing 25 feet!

The height didn't stop my boys from jumping around on the walls!!

Yes...this is a 2 lane road!!!  I'm so glad Hyrum was driving:)

August 10:
We headed out in the morning for a drive around the Dingle Peninsula.  We stopped at a fun farm where the kids got to feed some of the animals and we saw an amazing sheep dog performance!

The boys had fun racing each other around Dunbeg Fort.  The twins always let Julian have a 20 second head start and then they would race down the hill trying to beat him to the bottom.

Beautiful view along our drive.  We stopped at the Great Blasket Center museum which was a great museum.  The boys weren't interested at all so we didn't stay for long but it gave a great history of life on the Blasket islands.  Hyrum really wanted to take a boat out to the island but after a choppy ride to Skellig Michael the day before we didn't think it was such a great idea.

The boys exploring the ruin of a house.  We came to call these ruins "famine houses" because they were all over the countryside and we learned most had been abandoned during the great potato famine in the mid 1800's.

Our last stop on our Dingle peninsula drive was the Gallarus Oratory.  Built 1,300 years ago it is one of Ireland's best preserved early Christian churches.  This place was super cool.  It's made without any cement or mortar of any type and has stood this long!  The rocks are packed so closely together this building is still water tight.

This cute little hiking post was outside the Gallaurs Oratory to let hikers know they were on a "pilgrimage" route.

Back in Dingle Hyrum and I enjoyed some live music as we visited about 10 different pubs around town.  Some of them were so packed we could barely get in but the music and the atmosphere is so much fun!

Cool old pub in Dingle.

August 11:
We started our trip towards Galway by taking a quick ferry trip across the wide Shannon River.

One of the stops I was really looking forward to was the Cliffs of Moher.  I had heard such spectacular comments about how amazing it was to stand on the edge of Ireland with 600 foot cliffs and gaze out to the sea.  I was sort of bummed when we first got there because it was raining and super foggy.  We waited a while in the visitor center and when it cleared a bit we walked out along the cliffs edge.  The boys gave Hyrum a scare by getting too close to the edge...poor Hyrum

This was as clear as the view got for us on this day.  It would have been fantastic on a bright sunny day but I will take what I can least the fog cleared up enough to SEE the cliffs:)

Hyrum was excited to make a stop in the Burren.  This rocky landscape is 10 square miles of limestone.  It was amazing to see the little plants that could eek out a spot of earth on this desolate landscape.

The boys had fun playing "the floor is lava" on these stones.

Poulnabrone Dolmen.  Looks like a stone table but was built as a portal tomb.  Built 5,000 years ago as a grave chamber.  It's amazing this structure has stood for that long.  Only one of the perpendicular stones has had to be replaced in all that time!

Another view of the portal tomb.  We basically had this amazing site all to ourselves and the only thing stopping people from going up to the tomb was a small orange rope!

August 12:
Ready to board Aran Aer for a quick flight over to the island of Inis Mor.  That was as small plane!

All set on the tiny little airplane.  The flight was only about 10 minutes but it was a super fun experience to fly in a tiny plane.

We had a taxi drive us from the airport on Inis Mor to the Ring Fort of Dun Aengus.  Emerson and Julian exploring on the walls of the ring fort.

I got this photo from the internet but it shows how the ring fort is built right on the edge of a fence or guardrail on that drop-off either!   I like how Rick Steves wrote, "The Irish don't believe in litigation, just natural selection."

Julian was pretty brave and wanted to look over the edge...

...Yep!  It's pretty far down! 

We took a taxi up to the fort but decided to walk the whole way back to the ferry terminal...about 5 miles.  The boys were NOT excited but we did see a few beautiful sites along the way.

We stopped and played at this great beach for a while

The twins even took off their shoes and got in the cold water.

We met lots of friendly farm animals

Every once in a while we had to get off the road to let a carriage pass.  

Beautiful scenery along the road.  It ran along the coast the whole way back into town.

The farmers fields were broken up by stone walls built many years ago.  A very beautiful walk but a very hot day and we weren't really prepared for such a long walk back in the sun.  Needless to say there was much complaining by all 3 boys!

We flew to the island in the morning but in the afternoon we took the ferry back to the mainland.  While Hyrum fetched our car from the airport we waited by the ferry terminal and this very friendly dog came and hung out with us.  It was so sweet:) poor little sunburned Julian.  Should have had sunscreen!

August 13:
Every vacation needs a day to rest.  We decided we would let the boys stay at the house while Oma, Hyrum and I walked around the very cute town of Galway.

We walked along the river... beautiful St. Nicholas cathedral

The gorgeous interior of the cathedral.  When we got back to our house Hyrum took the boys swimming and Oma and I got to relax at home and read a bit.  It was good to take a day to just relax and rest.

That evening we attended a great show, Trad on the Prom, which was an evening full of traditional Irish dancing and music.  It was a lot of fun, even if the boys complained it lasted too long:)  Sometimes we drag them to these things in the hopes it will help broaden their world view and they just have to be OK with that!

August 14:
We left Galway for our final destination, Ardee, but on the way we stopped at the monastic site of Clonmacnoise.  The monastery was built in 548AD.  You can imagine the boys were non too excited about another monastic settlement!  But I found this one to be particularly interesting with a lot of buildings and surrounding cemetery.  It was peaceful walking around.

Between the 7th and 12th centuries monks from all over the world came here to study and pray, helping to earn Ireland the title of the 'land of saints and scholars'  Basically while the rest of Europe was in the dark ages, Ireland had a thriving community of scholars through their many monastic settlements.

I liked how you could still see the pilgrimage path in part of the cemetery leading up to the cathedral.

Our last stop of the day was Trim Castle.  I thought the boys would find this a great site to explore because it is a ruined castle but opened to the public for tours.  Usually castles are either ruined and unsafe or they are totally remodeled.  This place was unique in that it was a ruin but they had installed catwalks and other ways to get around inside.  I was wrong about the boys being excited to see this castle.  They begged to stay in the car and play their iPads.  They were so grumpy and angry that I was "forcing" them to see this place.  I hope that some day in the future they remember their trip to Ireland as a fun trip, but I will tell you the truth, they made it pretty miserable some days!

Fun staircase inside Trim castle

Townsend and Hyrum on the 3rd level catwalk inside the castle.

Great views from the top of the castle

Family photo outside the castle...super grumpy kids pretending to be happy

Hatch's Castle
Our final house was in a little town called Ardee.  We got to stay 2 nights in a 14th century castle!  We had all 4 floors of the castle to ourselves.  The boys loved playing hide and go seek in this huge place.

The great hall as you enter the castle

The formal sitting room

Having rolls and cocoa at the old dining table

You could climb the winding stairs all the way up to the roof where you could get a great view of the little town.

Both nights we were in the castle we had a fire and watched an Irish movie.  We watched "The Secret of Kells" and "Song of the Sea"  It was such  cozy little room to relax in.

August 15: 
Our very last site in Ireland was a visit to Newgrange (Bru na Boinne).  This passage tomb was built around 3200 BC!  That is OLD.

The entrance to the tomb.  See the small square opening above the entrance?  Each year on the winter solstice the sun comes through that opening and lights the interior of the tomb.  The tour guide demonstrated what this was like by turning all the lights off and then shining a spotlight down the 60 foot passageway that leads into the tomb.  It was pretty amazing!  It really makes you wonder what the people who built this tomb were thinking and what sort of ceremonies they had during that short winter solstice day.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the tomb so I took these from the internet.  It gives you an idea of the narrow 60 foot passage that leads to the inner chamber.

Again, stolen from the internet.  This was the inner chamber that opened up at the end of the passageway.

There were 3 small alcoves in the chamber.  One of them holds a ceremonial stone where bones or ashes were placed.

Back outside the tomb.  What an amazing site!

August 16:
Checked out of our cool castle, returned our rental car and hopped on an airplane!

I thought the little shamrock out on the airplane wing was pretty cute:)

Back in Portland.  An exhausted Julian waiting for Aunt Katrina to pick us up at the airport.

What an amazing and fantastic trip!  There was a lot of complaining by tired boys who were done with old monasteries and castles but mostly it was a fun time.  I fell in love with the beauty of Ireland and the very friendly people.  I would love to go back some day and see a bit of Northern Ireland but I am happy for now that I got to experience such  wonderful place.  I love my family and even though it's rough sometimes I love exploring new places with them.