Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rainbows in the UK

I've been staring at my calendar for most of today trying to figure out what in the world I was missing. A nagging feeling of forgetfulness loomed over me. Finally, after lunch, I realized the importance of today: the anniversary of my mom's death. I sat stunned for a bit, then relieved and happy. After 12 years, I don't dread this day, and I miss my mom less, but not because I don't think about her, but because I'm finally accustomed to interacting with her in a new way. She is still very much a part of my life and still very much a part of Little Clover's. We still talk about her and tell her story, and in little ways, we still include her. In fact, in this installment of our vacation recap, you'll see how she was a part of our Ireland vacation.

We tackled London with an intensity for our two and a half day stay. Because Little Clover is a future zookeeper, we visit zoos, and London was no exception. At the zoo, we visited the location for the zoo scene in the first Harry Potter film:
From Ireland Trip 2011

After spending most of the day at the zoo, we rushed back to London and walked through the Westminster Abbey cloister.
From Ireland Trip 2011

We also had the good fortune of attending a prayer service the next day and seeing the graves of some of our favorite authors in Poet's Corner. Praying in a chapel built in the early 1200s fills one with awe.

After visiting the Abbey, we stumbled upon a London food festival where Little Clover had a dinner of ox tongue with salsa verde and a chunk of foccasia from a Northern Italian farm. Yes, ox tongue. He loved it. Italian and I opted to peruse the vendors from mainland Europe and the UK for local beer, cured meats, and cheeses, then dine al fresco.

The next day, we left London and had a frantic episode on the train to Wales. For a brief instance, even though there were only two trains in the station - the one we deboard and the one we boarded- we believed we boarded the wrong train. The panic spread to the two ladies who boarded after us. Little Clover, the two ladies and I scrambled to pull our luggage as the doors shut and the train pulled out of the station. The train announcement came on in Welsh, then English, at which point, we realized we were on the correct train afterall! At that point, all we could do was laugh! Once in Wales, we fly fished on the River Dee in the traditional way. Although the fishing was tough, it was beautiful and we had a most brilliant time.
From Ireland Trip 2011

The next day found us on the way to Holyhead to catch a ferry. In Holyhead, my mom and Little Clover's recently lost guinea pig said hello in the form of a rainbow.
From Ireland Trip 2011

It has become quite natural for me now to reply "Hi, Mom!" when I see a rainbow. I had actually begun to notice the lack of rainbows when this one appeared while we walked back to our hotel from dinner. The best part, it hadn't rained. Instead, we stopped to cross the street, looked up, and saw it over the chimney of the house across the street, as if she just wanted to let us know she was with us, and she was. I love you, Mom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home again

Summer is officially over, and not just because we returned from vacation, but because of this:

From Family

The annual first day of school picture.

This year, when I completed registration, I realized there is only one grade ahead of him at school. Just one. At parent orientation, the teachers spoke of preparing for high school. High School!!!! Don't they realize he's way to young to go to high school? I had a hard enough time dropping him off at the welcome back dance; I'm not even remotely ready enough to discuss high school. At least he still gives me hugs, as long as none of his friends are around, especially any of the girls. Oh, I'm so in trouble.

Since returning home from vacation, we've been busy reestablishing our routines. School was relatively easy to pick up again, in spite of the change in grade and the addition of honors classes. Work also hasn't been to difficult. What has been hard is leaving Ireland behind. We miss the sites, we miss the pubs, we miss the music, and we even miss the food. Since I miss Ireland terribly and I haven't had a chance to catch everyone up on the vacation, the next few blog posts will include vacation recaps at the end. Grab a cuppa and come along.

Rocking in the UK
We learned a lot with our first international flight as a family. We learned to avoid Atlanta if one can because the length of delays almost make it worthwhile to just drive to Atlanta (and oh, I wish I was kidding). If you do have to fly to Atlanta and get delayed, change your connecting international flight while still in your destination airport. Bring an eyemask, a blanket, and noise cancelling headphones, and try to land at your destination around noon. Those headphones are handy when the flight crew starts feeding people dinner around midnight.

We also learned that the train stations are beautiful.
From Ireland Trip 2011

In fact, most of London is beautiful.

Especially at night:
From Ireland Trip 2011

From Ireland Trip 2011

We rode the London Eye at sunset at the recommendation of a co-worker. If you ever have the chance to ride the eye, try to time it at sunset. The view was amazing.
From Ireland Trip 2011