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 :)