Celebrating and Going On Holiday

It has been too long since my last posting, looking back over the last month it feels like a lot has happened with Christmas, Grandma and Papa’s visit, and Ireland I don’t know where to start.
Christmas this year was a very different experience then usual. It was our first Christmas abroad and there were some new traditions we tried to incorporate, we made a trip to Harrods and Christmas Markets, tasted Christmas puddings (no thank you they are just warm fruit bread from what I can tell), has mince pies on Christmas day (again a lot of dried candied fruit) and I hit the Boxing day sales. We ordered our turkey from the local butchers and I spent the week before Christmas planning our menu, watching Jamie Oliver’s Christmas specials and going to the grocery store, 4 trips was my final count.
While both Christmas Eve and Christmas day were spent cooking on my part they were also full of Christmas movies, playing and board games around the house. The family was also treated to Kellen and I signing Christmas carols. Back in Seattle we spend a lot of time traveling from house to house, sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough time in the holiday to really spend enough time with either side of the family so while we missed everyone it was a nice change of pace. I also had a good excuse to use our wedding china which only happens a few times a year. On Christmas Eve only Jamie, Ella and I made it until midnight and even then I think we were in bed by 12:30 so it was much mellower then years passed. Christmas morning was a lot of fun as Patrick was rushing us all down the stairs and Kellen was starting to get the whole concept. Each time Kellen opened a gift he would want to go play with it and we would have to force him to move on to the next gift and it would start all over again. At 8:00am our time we did call home to say merry Christmas and that was the hardest moment. Hearing everyone together celebrating midnight, obviously a few glasses of Champaign into the celebration, made me wish I could be there too. All in all we really enjoyed our quiet Christmas together.
Grandma and Papa got here on the 27th and I was more excited for them to arrive then Patrick was on Christmas morning. Jamie, Ella and I went to the airport while the boys waited at home. We got there early and got coffee, the plan was to sit and wait patiently; instead I think I paced up and down the arrival area for 30 minutes until they walked out. Having them here made me realize how much I really do miss them each day. I’ve been surprised how easy it’s been so far, between Skype and unlimited long distance on the home phone we talk a few times a week and Skype at least once a week, but seeing them in person was so nice.
We packed the two weeks they were here as full as possible. We did a variety of day trips around the country side and days in London. I even got a few days out with just them as Jamie stayed home with the babies. Our big plan for their visit was a trip to Ireland for New Years. Mom has always said that she’d like to see Ireland; it was really fun to get to experience it with her.
We flew into Dublin on the 30th and spent New Year’s Eve touring the city. Before going I had heard about the economic issues they have had over the last few years, including the austerity measures being adopted, so I was pleasantly surprised by how great Dublin was. It seems like such a great city. It’s small enough that you really can walk around; we made it from the Jameson distillery to the Guinness Factory with just a 15 minute walk. The buildings have character and are many are obviously historic but inside they were modern and updated. The Guinness Brewery was amazing in itself, it is huge and they have a full museum inside. There were multiple restaurants, a tour and a sky bar that overlooked the city. Overall the city was very charming and I look forward to hopefully spending more time there. Then on New Year’s Day we drove out to Cork stopping along the way to view old castles, cathedrals and the town of Waterford. The villages had a very different look and feel then English villages but there was the same emphasis on tea, sweets and pubs.
I’ve also had some learnings over the last month. The biggest one would be that coming out here has brought our family unit closer. We love our extended family and miss our extended family but we often end up spending a lot of time worrying about everyone else’s plans and schedules and it was really nice to focus on just the 5 of us this year. My second key learning is that you must be equally prepared for a day out with your parent as you do with your kids. With kids you must always have wipes, sippy cups and backup clothes. With parents you must always have tissues, Actifed and splenda.
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