My Seattle Spring Bucket List

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Now that Hannah is 2, she seems to be learning new words every day. The cutest by far, though, has to be the fact that she has learned how to sing her first “song”: Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun. Whenever she catches a glimpse of the sun (which is quite rare during a Seattle winter), Hannah breaks into song: “Sun! Sun! Goooooooolden SUN!”(P.S. It’s absolutely adorable. P.P.S. We’ve missed you, Sun. –Yours Kindly, every Seattleite who has been Vitamin-D deficient since September).

And now that the glimpses of sun are becoming less infrequent, I’ve been longing for the longer, warmer days of spring. So as I sit here daydreaming of the next season, I’ll share a few of my “Seattle Spring Bucket List” longings with you:

  • Visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I haven’t been to this since Jacob was a baby, and I can’t wait to go back! The endless sea of blooming flowers, the equally endless rows of mud puddles and mud-covered children, the obligatory stop at Snowgoose Produce for a giant scoop of ice cream–I want it all!
  • Easter. Easter is my favorite holiday of the year, and I can’t wait to do all of the fun Easter-y activities with my kids. On the short list: Opening resurrection eggs, baking resurrection rolls while acting out the Easter story, painting eggs (Pro tip: Place your egg inside a wire whisk and dip into a bowl of dye–even a 2 year old can handle this without making a mess!), a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, and making a table-top Easter garden.
  • Plant a garden. I’ve never really done this before, and the only times I’ve tried have been epic failures. After all, I have enough to worry about keeping a husband, three children and a dog alive–adding plants onto that list is a bit too much for me. But I have empty garden beds in my new yard and they’re mocking me, so I think I’ll give it a go. Wish me luck.
  • See all the baby animals. I want to pet baby bunnies. I want to hold baby chicks. I want to see a baby lamb frolick in a field. Give me the farms, the spring fair, the neighborhood horse ranch–just give me all the cute baby animals, please!
  • Go puddle jumping. We have plenty of puddles in the winter, but they’re cold and I won’t let my kids play in them for too long because, well, pneumonia. But spring puddles are fun because you can jump and splash and soak your little brother and it’s not the end of the world (Unless you ask the little brother. Then it is definitely the end of the world.). Bonus if there’s a rainbow in the sky on puddle jumping day.
  • Find some frogs. We have a pond behind our house that is chock-full of frogs at this time of year, but we are yet to catch any of our amphibian friends for further observation. Jacob cries every night that he hears the frogs croaking outside his bedroom window because he wants to hold one of them. So basically, this is just so we can all get better sleep at night.
  • Ride bikes. So, none of my kids can ride bikes without training wheels. Hannah’s off the hook because she just learned how to walk 9 months ago, but the almost-6 year old and the almost-8 year old have no excuses. I’ve already made up my mind that THIS IS THE SUMMER. Yes, this is the summer that they will learn how to ride a bike. And I guess that means we need to start practicing. Pray for me.
  • Go outside after 3 PM. For the past few months it has been dark by the time David is getting off the school bus, and I can’t WAIT to get my afternoons back! Kids arguing? Send them outside! Too much energy? Outside! Need a change of scenery from our living room with the same pile of books and board games? GO OUTSIDE!!!!
  • BBQ. Speaking of going outside, I’m ready to revive the BBQ. Winter is for crockpots, but warmer weather calls for the grill. I’m ready to say goodbye to soups and stews and hello to burgers and brats. Yummmmmmm….
  • And speaking of yummmmmmm…I will be eating asparagus. Fesh, local, in-season asparagus. And lots of it. Yummmmm….
  • Run outdoors. I did most of my training for my last race on a teadmill at the gym because it was too cold and wet and miserable to go outside. I’m ready to just open my front door and say, “Yeah, this will do!” and then do it!
  • Buy shoes, not boots. With the exception of my running shoes, I have literally worn the same 3 pairs of boots on repeat every day for the past 5 months. I don’t even remember what “shoes” feel like on my feet. I would like to get a new pair of shoes to remind myself.

And now it’s your turn! There’s still time for me to add on to my list, so what are your must-do spring activities?

A Week In The Life of An Irish Summer

This was a significant week in Ireland: Summer finally made her appearance. For the past 10 days we have had nothing but blue skies and sunshine–quite the welcome change from the typical Irish summer, which is only differentiated from winter by the fact that the rain is warmer.

Like most people who have lived their whole lives in cold, rainy places I go a bit manic when the sun actually comes out. I feel like I have to spend every waking moment outside soaking in enough Vitamin-D to get make up for months of deprivation. I can not, will not let a single sunny moment go to waste (especially since the rain is predicted to return tomorrow). It’s difficult to squeeze a whole season’s worth of activities into a single week, but we gave it our best effort. Here is a little snapshot of how we spent our week of Irish summer.

Monday:
We started our sunshine week with a little hike. There is a wonderful trail, which we have dubbed “Blackberry Trail”, that starts right behind our house. The trail winds for miles and miles through the woods, along a stream, and up into the hills where you can explore the ruins of an old manor. As always, the boys’ favorite activity was throwing rocks into the stream. They will literally spend hours there just picking up stones and chucking them in the water:

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After all of our hard work hiking and throwing stones, we needed a little refreshment. Popscicles (called “ice lollies” here) were the perfect reward. Many, many Popscicles were consumed this week!

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Tuesday:
On Tuesday we stayed home and made use of our fantastic back yard. Inspired by the World Cup that started this week, David practiced his soccer skills:IMG_6108We also spent a good portion of the day splashing and playing in our new blow-up kiddie pool:

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Wednesday:
What is summer without a day at the beach? On Wednesday afternoon we met up with some friends at a wonderful beach called Garrettstown Beach, just past Kinsale in East Cork. Garrettstown Beach is a Blue Flag beach, a distinction given to the loveliest beaches in Europe. We had a relaxing afternoon visiting with our friends, digging in the sand and splashing in the waves:
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On our drive home after the beach we made a slight detour to view Old Head, perhaps the most scenic and exclusive golf course in Ireland (it’s a favorite of Tiger Woods, I hear). You have to be a registered guest to enter the grounds at Old Head, but the viewpoint overlooking the area was still stunning:

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That night as I was folding clothes on the picnic table in the back yard (why not?) the sky caught my attention. As the sun began to set, light was bouncing off the clouds–it felt like a slice of heaven (minus the clothes-folding):

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Thursday:
While David was at preschool, Jacob and I went on our usual Thursday morning jaunt to the Farmer’s Market. The market was full of local delights that are just coming into season: berries, rhubarb, peas, gelato, and bunches of beautiful flowers:

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After the Farmer’s Market Jacob helped me hang our laundry out to dry. He actually is a very good helper, and his favorite “game” is handing me clothespins (and then scattering the bag of pins all over the yard). He also loves running through the lines and playing peek-a-boo behind the clothes:

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On Thursday night I went out for a fun evening road race at our local pub. Yep, that’s right, a legit pub run. I was expecting a small neighborhood gathering, maybe 100 people, to be at the race. I was quite surprised then to see not dozens, but thousands of runners all turned out for the race. The race started at the Mount Oval Bar (next door to David’s preschool) and wound it’s way for 6 miles through the surrounding neighborhoods and farms. It was a beautiful course, I finished in my goal time, and there were beer and free burgers at the finish line. It was the perfect race, really:

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Friday:
We spent Friday at our local zoo, Fota Wildlife Park. Fota is one of our favorite places to visit–there are fun playgrounds, beautiful landscapes and, of course, plenty of animals to spy on! The park is laid out so that you feel like you are actually entering the animals’ turf. There are very few fences or barriers to the animals so you can get up close to them and see how they behave in a more natural environment. Our favorite animals are always the cheetahs, the monkeys, and the giraffes (including the babies that we’ve been watching grow up this year):

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We also got to view Dourga, one of the new tigers that just arrived at Fota a few weeks ago (thankfully for us, she is inside a proper enclosure–I don’t think any of us would want an up close and personal experience with a jungle cat!):
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On Friday night, I went out on a date with this handsome man:

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For our date we went into Cork City and saw Pulses of Tradition, a traditional Irish music and dance show. It was a wonderful performance with highly entertaining musicians who had us laughing and clapping and singing the whole night (we also picked up a few interesting tidbits about the history of dance and music in Ireland). After the show we stopped by our Local for some drinks before heading home. The pub was hosting a “craft beer festival”, which piqued Jon’s interest as he’s been on the lookout for a proper IPA ever since leaving Seattle. Unfortunately, the beers were not quite up to our (snobbish?) Seattleite standards–but we did enjoy a good bit of craic.

Saturday:
We lounged around for quite awhile on Saturday morning while Jon and I took turns catching up on our sleep. We did manage to squeeze in a little play time at the playground in Passage West before it was Jacob’s turn for a nap:

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While Jacob was sleeping, Jon snuck out to get a massage (his Father’s Day gift). After nap time we walked up to Mount Oval Bar (for the third time in 3 days) for a family fun fair they were hosting. The boys loved jumping in the bouncy house (and, judging by this photo, they also enjoyed bouncing on other children):

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There was also a see-and-touch animal show, face painting, a guy making balloon animals, BBQ…and the creepiest ice cream truck I’ve ever seen:IMG_6304

Since Saturday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, we celebrated in style. The kids were driving us crazy so we put them to bed at 7:30, then we shared a bottle of wine, and went to bed before the sun even set. Hey, nobody ever said parenthood was glamorous.

Sunday:
The last day of our sun week, Sunday, had arrived. Before church we went out in the field across the street from our house to practice our golf swings. Perhaps the boys were inspired by the Irish Open (the largest golf tournament in Ireland) that was happening right here in Cork this weekend:IMG_6311Before we went back inside, David wanted to pick some flowers to make a “centerpiece”. He found quite a lovely collection right in our driveway, and proudly displayed his pickings:

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After church we came home, ate lunch, and got ready for our afternoon. Our plans were set aside, however, when the boys fell asleep while watching Engineering lectures with Jon (not sure how they could possibly fall asleep during such a thrilling activity…). I spent my surprise afternoon “off” curled up with a new book–the perfect luxury to end our season-week of summer.

We had a memorable week exploring the treasures that are right here in Cork. And, I have to say, summer in Ireland is pretty amazing–even if it does only last for a week!