We hope you had a joyful and peaceful Christmas! I had so many moments during the past week when I felt overwhelmed with love for my little family and for all our extended family and friends. Thank you!
Gabe with his little brother Rob
Persy with a cousin and Aunt Rachel. Everyone is wearing the snugly PJs.
Every year we gather with extended family to reenact the the nativity story and sing Christmas hymns. It is always a memorable night, but this year we were thrilled to have my brother and his kids visiting from Texas. Merry Christmas everyone! What are your favorite holiday traditions?
This year's Troupe. Persy played the roll of Mary, but she still wanted to wear an angels halo to jazz up the costume a bit!
What a fun month we've had in preparation for Christmas! Last year, we started the tradition of an advent calendar with daily treats and an activity. It was something my mother did with me and I loved as a child. Some activities are just plain fun, and others center on service projects or things to remind us of the Savior. Here are a few highlights:
We used Dublin as a home base during our trip and took a few day trips out of the city. We stayed at a charming Bed and Breakfast called The Adare House and I highly recommend it.
The row houses in Dublin had brightly colored doors. They added a touch of whimsy to the city.
Melinda and I went outside the city one night and learned how to do traditional Irish set dancing with a local group. It is similar to square dancing, but without a caller. We spent nearly every night during our trip listening to the music in the pubs. It is common for musicians to show up at pubs for their own enjoyment and begin improvising off one another . Listening to such lively music was one of the highlights of the trip.
Our first evening in Dublin we went to a memorable Evensong service at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
This is Kilmainham Gaol, an interesting jail that had historical significance during Ireland's revolution. The citizens involved in the Easter Uprising of 1916 were housed here before they were executed. It has also been used as the set for numerous movies.
Melinda and I inside one of the jail cells.
Grafton Street is a lively shopping district. It was festive place to get some Christmas shopping done.
St. Stephen's Green, a pleasant public park with statues of Dublin's literary giants.
Home again from a delightful trip to Ireland. The people we met were so warm and friendly, the food was a delicious surprise, and the music kept us out until the wee hours.
Standing outside the 5,000 year old burial tomb of Newgrange with Melinda, my sister in law and fellow explorer. She was an ideal travel companion with a good sense of direction, a taste for adventure, and an interesting intellect. The construction of these burial mounds is mind boggling. Stones were acquired from all over the country and it would have taken considerable man power to bring them to the mound.
Notice the symbolic swirls featured on this rock outside of Newgrange. The interior was decorated with designs as well. During the winter solstice, the morning light comes in through the entrance and lights up the passage for 17 minutes.
Not far from Newgrange, is the lovely Trim castle. We had a great tour here. Many of the guides we met had a knack for story telling.
My Ireland guidebook offers a list of English and Irish specific words to help the confused traveler. I hope that at least a few of the people I chat with have accents so thick that I am utterly flummoxed. Here are a few favorite translations:
Beer Mat = Coaster Boffin = Nerd Candy Floss = Cotton candy Fiddler's Fart = Worthless thing Gasman = Life of the party Jacks = Toilets Knackered = Exhausted Smalls = Underwear Starkers = Buck naked (Tee hee :)
Have you seen this library?? As you may know, I have an obsession for good books and libraries. This is a picture of the "Long Room" at Trinity College in Dublin, and in just a few short days I will be there! I am headed to Ireland for a week with my adventurous sister-in-law. We are going to explore Christmas markets, do set dancing, see ancient burial mounds, listen to music in the pubs, and explore an ancient monastic settlement. Somebody pinch me! We are going to have a blast together. (Gabe will be taking over at home, and he will do an awesome job. He also has some outings planned with little Persy. They will be a cute duo!) Bon Voyage!
We had a festive and fun Halloween season. Persy was so excited about dressing up and knocking on houses. She ran around for nearly 2 hours gathering treats. We also had a blast doing hay rides, pumpkin picking, decorating, and other Autumn activities. We spent an afternoon at Cornbelly's when my brother came to visit from Vermont and we had a blast!
We just finished up the paperwork towards getting approval for another adoption. Gabe and I both had our interviews with the case worker this week and I couldn't even talk about our previous adoption without getting all mushy and choked up. Honestly, adopting Persephone has been the greatest blessing of our marriage. We are both madly in love with this little girl and when I think about Persy's birth mother I am filled with profound gratitude and awe. We have begun to pray earnestly that another child might come to our family. Wish us luck!
We've had a flurry of fun and festive fall activities the last week. There have been hayrides, pumpkin picking, farms, and farmer's markets. Last week, we saw the witches at Gardner Village together. Persy thought they were pretty hilarious. Persy is very excited about Halloween this year and keeps asking everybody what their costume is going to be. Last night she said to Gabe, "Daddy, what are you going to be for Halloween?"
"Um, I'm going to be an attorney," replied Gabe. "Ooooooh, that is going to be SO scary!" Persy exclaimed. We both cracked up. I just love having a three year old.
As many of you know, each year I try to grow a little by doing new things. I try to do one new thing for each year of my life. Here is the list from my 30th year. What have you been doing to challenge yourself?
1. Read the Old Testament cover to cover 2. Knit a hat, fingerless gloves, and a sweater 3. Heard Hilary Hahn play her violin live with the Utah Symphony 4. Traveled to Turkey and Asia 5. Visited a mosque 6. Toured the famous Hagia Sophia 7. Bought a black truffle and cooked with it 8. Finally moved to the intermediate level of my Pimsleur Spanish study 9. Ran the Halloween Half Marathon with a 10 minute personal record 10.Cancelled our cable in favor of just Netflix and Hulu 11. Swam with Dolphins off the shore of Honolulu 12. Pulled off planning my first ward Christmas party 13. Threw up on an airplane 14. Had a Bunny predict my fortune (This is a popular tourist thing in Turkey) 15. Started doing hill training as part of my regular running routine 16. Visited Old Town San Diego and Coronado Island 17. Read 54 books in one year 18. Started running with a training partner 19. Learned how to do a rib stitch, cables, mattress stitch, sewn bind-off, kitchener, blocking and how to read a knitting pattern. 20. Started a pre-school co-op with a few other mother friends. 21. Saw Hansel and Gretal the Opera 22. Used a Bidet 23. Ate Turkish delight, fried muscles, authentic Baklava, and Lotkma 24. Partied with Gabe at a famous Vegas night club overlooking the strip 25. Played and won my first black jack game in a casino 26. Saw David Copperfield and he made me "disappear" as part of his grand finale. 27. Learned how to play Texas Hold 'Em 28. Got on a road bike 29. Pet a baby llama 30. Ran the Park City Half Marathon
I have been doing a lot of swimming for my triathlon training. I am still a weak swimmer, but I am so excited to say that I no longer feel panic when I put my face in the water and that alone has been worth signing up for the race! (Biking on the other hand has been a bigger obstacle than I had anticipated. Cycling through traffic makes me fear for my life!)
Best part about living in Utah? We are just minutes away from mountain paradise. Hiking season came a little late this year because we had a cold, wet Spring, but now we are heading into the mountains nearly every week. We let Persy do some of her own hiking, and despite falling and looking like she had just completed a Tough Mudder, she could not be happier.