Friday, November 16, 2012

We'll always have Ireland

Almost 11 years ago, Nate and I were frolicking around London visiting his brother when we hopped on a cheap flight over to Ireland for a quick weekend. And there, on the cliffs of a tiny seaside village, he got down on one knee and we decided to do life together. We always said we should come back to that spot for our 10 year anniversary. So........we did!

Now, to leave the country for 9 days, in this place in our lives is complicated. We saved up. We enlisted family to watch all the kids, friends to feed the dog. Finn's school has this weird October week off every year so that was perfect. The week before we left, I was swimming in anxiety.  I was very nervous to leave Serin at only 18 months old. I hadn't even left her for a whole night yet, and I was about to leave for over a week! But I knew she and all the kids would be in good hands. They were with my sister and her husband, Nate's parents and my parents, 3 nights each. The kids had their own adventure, as did all the adults watching them I'm sure.  :-)

Now, back to Ireland.  It was awesome! Just what the doctor ordered - alone time together. Ireland is just as beautiful as I remembered.

This time we got to see so much more of it. We did it road-trip style. We rented a car and tried to see as much as we could, taking the smallest roads possible, as to see the cutest little towns and scenery.
Our driver
Our navigator

What do the Irish do when they need to pull over? I don't know which seat was scarier, the driver's seat with oncoming cars, or the passenger with the road-side hills threatening to smack into your face.

I loved seeing all the old structures, many of them thousands of years old.

The Rock of Cashel

Our first couple nights were at this B&B, in Dingle with an amazing view of green hills and the bay.  There was live music every night in every pub here. We ran into several American travelers here, including a couple from Jackson and Davis, and one backyard neighbor of Nate's cousin in the mid-west.  Small world.

 We saw the coolest stuff just driving around. Rick Steve's guide book was handy.

This old structure is more than 2000 years old. This pole thing with the small hole in the middle, they say, was used in marriage ceremonies. People would touch thumbs through the hole and say their vows, and then -  poof! -they were married!

The Cliffs of Moher are huge and amazing to look at, if you can get past the new huge visitor's center, the parking fee and the the crowds of people.  Very different than 11 years ago :-(

Next stop, Delphi Lodge in Connemara.  This place was awesome! It was gifted to us by some very very generous friends. It was an English-style manor tucked into the mountains, way out in the country. We just kept walking around it pinching ourselves because it was so beautiful and so classy.

 We hiked up one of the mountain ridges around the lodge.

The view at the top

The honor bar.
Cozy game of chess by the fire.

 Next stop,  the top reason for the trip Glencolumbkille!

When we rolled into  Glencolumbkille the first thing we saw was that tiny tower at the top of the cliffs. That's where Nate proposed 11 years ago!

The only place to stay in town, the Dewey Hostel, ,built right on the side of a cliff.

The same lovely Mary was running the place!
I love this place. The peoples' accents are a little stronger, if they decide to break out of Gaelic and speak English to you, and the whole place seems like you've gone back a couple hundred years. We enjoyed a pint or two of Guinness with some fishermen at the local pub....discussing the US presidential election and the differences between  Gaelic Football and rugby.

 Back in 2001 Nate and I looked out the window from the hostel and saw this view and decided to hike up to it early in the morning. So naturally we decided to do the same this time.....but we are older and wiser and lazier now, so we cheated and drove as far as we could.

Here's the exact spot where it all went down in 2001!







It was so surreal to be there. It seems so untouched. I doubt that anyone ever goes up there, even the locals. I just wanted to soak all of it up, like it would all disappear when we left, like Brigadoon.

After our blast from the past, we made our sad goodbye  Glencolumbkilleand made our way across the country to Dublin for the last couple days.

I love all the old architecture in Dublin, the cathedrals and the's so amazing.

The cobblestone streets of Temple Bar.

This spire built only a few years ago (for no reason) is affectionately called the "stiletto in the ghetto"  and some other names that I shouldn't write here. :-)
An Irish rainbow! Now we just need to find that leprechaun and the pot of gold!

Well Ireland, maybe we'll see you in a another ten or twenty years. Take care.

(We couldn't get back to our kids fast enough! I don't want to leave them again for a long long time. The smile on Serin's face the morning she woke up to find us was priceless.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

sweet summer

 I've totally neglected this blog it seems.  But here are my reasons:  1. My camera was totally on the fritz a lot of the summer. Not that I take awesome pictures, but it's fun to share something...anything with a visual. 2. I've been busier since school got out, babysitting my sister's kids, working at the gym, gardening and of course taking some vacations with the family, which let's be honest.... is a lot of work, but fun too. 3. I'm slowly moving away from my night-owl ways and getting up with the sun. I blog at night.  So I need to find a new system to share my Monley moments with y'all and with my future self.

Here's an ultra-blog-entry to sum up the summer of 2012. It all started with a preschool graduation....

I love these kids

Then came that kindergarten graduation....

Then Nate started a new job! He is no longer the principal. But he does still work for the same charter school organization. Now he's the Director of the teacher residency program and a teaching coach for schools in the valley. Even though he travels a bit, we see him much much more often! He can work from home once in a while too! It's a great fit for him, and our family. :-)

With his new job came a busy summer where normally there is much more of a break for Nate, so in true Monley fashion, we crammed as much on the weekends as we could.
Kind of a wonky family photo in Shingle Springs

Smores tutorial

Catchin up with some kid friends

And adult friends

Also this summer two friends and I shared a 80's birthday bash.  Costumes were awesome. Nate didn't have to look far to find this gem.

Girls just wanna have fun!

 Backyard summer fun!
This is our volunteer garden. We have a ton of pumpkins and butternut squash this year, just from our compost!

Trying something new


The first of the harvest

It was love at first bite.

rainbow laundry!

Selah enjoying the new lawn!

Playing catch with Dad.
And then.....vacation to Monterey!
We had this weird ear phones with a mic attached. It makes Selah look like a telemarketer.


And then the annual cabin trip with the old Santa Barbara gang.