Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ireland 2013: Powerscourt

From Dublin, we (Miriam, Brahms and I) traveled by train and bus to Enniskerry in the county of Wicklow to see the estate where scenes in the movie "Count of Monte Cristo" were shot - like the part where he arrives through an air balloon to introduce himself as Monte Cristo to his elite guests. 

Tim was not with us since he was attending the conference which is the reason we were in Ireland and of course Shannon was back in Irvine.  Wished the whole family was there but we took pictures to share.  But as I always say about places that we visit: who knows we may still have another chance to go back.

The Powerscourt is a very large estate.  As much as I was very interested to see all that it had to offer, I didn't have the energy to do just that.  We spent a lot of time sitting on benches - thank goodness they were many of them.

Something is supposed to be funny about this picture - something to do with traditional Chinese family portraits.

She was trying to pose for Brahms but I caught her in another angle.  

Taking a rest at the Japanese Gardens.

Aerial pose

They sat there while I inspected the roses.

The rose garden was situated against one side of the building.  

There is a tower in the garden with a small entrance and as you duck to get in, you see a sad-looking doll tucked in one of the alcoves.  A colorful object against the old stone brick wall is very unexpected which makes it spooky.  Whether it was part of the design or some girl forgot it there is not clear.  That, however, did not deter Miriam and Brahms to climb it all the way to the top.  

After our garden tour was over, Miriam and Brahms frolicked back to the cafeteria where we had lunch.  There are many gift shops but there was nothing that tempted me.  Everything seemed touristy.

Of course, there is always an ice cream at the end of every tour.

This is the entrance to the estate but to me it is more memorable as the place where my kids and I sat there for a long time waiting for the bus to come until we decided to walk to the village. We found out later that the bus was not scheduled to go to Powerscourt after a certain hour of the day. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Complete Home

The Lewis house was complete all of last week as Shannon was back for a while.  For us to be all together is something that I took for granted when the kids were all still at home.  Our children were always part of the things that Tim and I did.  Rarely did we leave them with babysitters - maybe a couple of hours at most.  Even our wedding anniversary celebrations were brightened with the presence the kids. There were only three occasions when our anniversary was without a child with us: two years before we had kids and the one year (nine years ago or so) when Tim surprised me with a trip to Seattle.  I thought we were going on a lunch date until we were already at the airport parking lot - I was helpless at that point.  I spent the whole first night in the beautiful Edgewater Hotel sleepless, staring at the water thinking about my children.  In other words, we love our kids and we like being with them.

When Shannon went to college, it was the beginning and the end of many things.  Not only Shannon will be gone again but come September 22, 2013, Brahms will also be out of the house. What's the world coming to!  How will the three of us (Tim, Miriam and I) make this huge house feel lived-in?  Already Shannon's room feels like a ghost-room and soon Brahms' will be too.

Miriam worries about not having her siblings with her.  The thing is she is not remaining young or small - in fact she's also growing up.  Earlier this month she traveled alone as a young adult to go visit her sister in Irvine.  Soon she'll also be able to go see her brother alone in the not-so-far-away Davis. What will Tim and I do when they will all be gone?  But we're not there yet. Whew!

In the meantime, we thank God and celebrate the less-frequent times when we are all together in one place sharing jokes and stories that we all can groan or laugh at.  With the few times that we are all together I feel warm in my heart.  We play games, eat comfort food and fast food, watch old episode of Warehouse 13, murder mysteries, and even Adventure Time.  This time Tim also played Jedi Outcast with the kids when he succeeded in having the four computers to talk to each other.

Yesterday, we drove once more to the airport to drop her off.  Now we will once again set the table with four, not five, place settings.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Old and Grand St. Patrick's Cathedral

An Irish taxi driver once told us that in Ireland there are two things that are plentiful: churches and pubs. We didn't have to do anything but open our eyes to see that this was true.  Both churches and pubs were easy to spot.  The churches come in tall gray stone buildings while the pubs are lined along the streets in dark strong colors usually with hanging beautiful flower baskets.  As if Ireland intended it to provide both the worldly and and spiritual avenues in life.   

To me Saint Patrick's Cathedral would have been an ordinary old cathedral were it not for the history that passed through its gates.  And although it is now a tourist destination, it remains a functional cathedral to this day.  

The floors tiles have very intricate designs - very Irish!  I'm not sure whether they are the original tiles but they sure look old and classic.

One of the things that surprised me in terms of furniture are the chairs or pews.  They are made of wood; they are not padded at all and they have straight backs.  The seat and the back rest are at 90-degree angle.  There is no slouching in these chairs.

The most prominent person buried in this cathedral is probably Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver's Travels).  Several important people in history have either visited or served in this cathedral - Cromwell, William of Orange, King James I, etc.  The one that surprised me the most is that Robert Boyle (founder of Boyle's Law)once served as a priest in this cathedral.  It makes complete sense because churches in the early days were not only a place of worship but also the seat of education.

For anybody visiting Dublin, I highly recommend visiting Saint Patrick's Cathedral. My opinion about Saint Patrick and the color of Saint Patrick's Day has changed. The color green will just be one of the many colors that I will think of come March 17.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A New Teenager

My little baby turned thirteen this year.  It's hard to imagine that it has been that long ago since she was born on that one hot summer day.  She remains to be the sweet little girl that she has always been - just smarter and now taller than me!   

Thirteen candles on a Lemon Meringue Pie

This year, her birthday celebration was spread over the course of a week.  First, she had some of her friends over - they played games and went to see a movie.  The next day she got her requested breakfast (crepes and bacon) made by her daddy and received a bunch of balloons from the Lippuner family. Then we got her an airline ticket so she could to travel to Irvine to see her sister.  Traveling alone for the first time as unaccompanied adult was surely an appropriate way to punctuate her arrival to teenage-life.   

Lots of love from the Lippuners!

Gestures with friends.

Her sister, Shannon, continued the celebration by surprising her with a red velvet cake upon her arrival.  The two of them spent such a special time bonding away from the walls of the home where they have parents and a brother.  And during that whole extended weekend they spent together, Miriam experienced things like living in a college dorm, mingling with them playing games, watching TV, eating, eating out or just hanging out.  I was so glad we thought of doing this thing for her.

Strawberries and watermelon prior to her choice of food: In & Out Hamburgers and Fries.

Opening presents is always fun.

Miriam with her friends: Will Leszinske; Jane Bonnell; and Becky Carmichael.  Not in the picture is Sharon Cha.

Big brother lights the candles.

 God, let her light shine brightly.

Another year has passed...I want to thank God, now and always, for the way He has protected this gift that He has added to our family.