Monday, July 24, 2017

Ireland, part 2

Caves are kind of another one of those Irish attractions that is somewhat a must.  We choose Aillwee cave - partially because its location worked with our planned path, partially because it sounded pretty cool.  Guided tour is a the only way to see it and it was our family and another couple – so semi-private.  The tour guide was super kid friendly and answered about 100 questions that Andrei had.  The cave itself is about buzzilion years old going back to Ice Age, it was discovered in 1940s, but nothing done with it until 1970s.  The stalactites and stalagmites are over 100 years old that we were able to see and even touch and an underground river and the waterfall at the end of the of the path were absolutely worth the experience.  

Corcomboe Abbey sounded really cool when I read about it - it was 13th century monastery that was built out of local limestone and located in the beautiful scenic mountains.  The beautiful scenery also makes it a bit hard to get to and it's also a bit out of the way so honestly speaking - it's ok to pass on seeing this particular attraction.
The road to the Abbey

Another off the beaten path attraction is Hook Head Lighthouse. The tower actually goes back to 12th century and was initially controlled by monks.  The walls are over 4 meters (13 feet) thick, it's about 4 stories high and it's pretty dark inside so it was hard to take the pictures.  On top of the lighthouse it's really cold and windy so we had to really bundle up even though it was October.  At the end of the tour all the kids got to ring the horn which was awesome but also oh so loud!  There were a lot of kids too :)



Irish story, part 1

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ireland, part 1

I really enjoy going back through our travels and hope that at some point I can stay on top of things but that time is not now :)

The plans for our fall break (nearly a year ago!) were a bit spontaneous as Chris saw sufficiently cheap tickets to Ireland and we just went.  We traveled around the island and while in 7 days you cannot visit every single thing, you can see a big part of Ireland.

We flew into Dublin, rented a car and went north where we spend our first 2 nights at a Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne that had a fitness center with a pool attached to it, 2 restaurants to choose from and a working wi-fi.

On the following morning we started out exploring Battle of the Boyne.  The battle was hugely significant in Irish history since it pitted Catholics (James II of England) versus Protestants (William of Orange) and as we all know that conflict lasted many years.  Funny enough (according to Wiki) most of the Irish people supported James because he declared freedom of religion in England and Scotland and promised that Ireland would have a right of self-declaration.  The other side, the Protestants, did not believe that and thought that Catholics would rule over them.  William won in case anybody is curious.  The battle field is a green grass field and a tiny but good museum especially for those of us that know nothing about Irish history which I knew very little about.  

It was a rather chilly morning so we made our way to next destination – Newgrange.  Passages that are at least 5000 years old – how can we not go?!?  The only way to get inside is with the guided tour but it was less than 30 minutes long and Anton could play with the dirt so it worked out.  The guide was not so informative - there is no information on how the massive rocks got to the middle of Ireland?  She did tell us that during winter solstice the light that penetrates the rocks is amazing and if you want to see it, there is waiting list to get in.  The boys said that it was definitely a highlight for them.  It was definitely very impressive that something that old is still standing still.

Our last attraction for the day was Hill of Tara – now think of a really really big hilly open field and that’s exactly what Hill of Tara looked like.  Hill of Tara is supposedly seat of High King of Ireland, and Ireland's history is a complicated so Wiki was my friend during this trip.  Hill of Tara was a great place for boys to run around and expand their energy, but there is not much to see.  However, both Chris and I agreed that it’s a bit creepy though with crows flying over an abandoned church and nothing else.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Festival at Andrei's school

At the end of every school year Andrei's school puts up a festival.  Festival is fun, kids put up shows, school provides games, book sale (where this year Andrei got a book for free), and bake/sausage/beer/prosecco sale. 

This year Andrei was in 2 shows - acrobatics and a fashion show.  We unfortunately did not take any pictures during acrobatics performance but Andrei did several somersaults and was really timid. Acrobatics is one of the programs that are offered through extended day at his school and Andrei has been doing that since January.

One of the games - throw a ball and if you hit the bulls eye, you get  candy flying at you which you have to catch.

We did take some pictures during the fashion show.  Andrei came up with his own "costume" and as you can see from his face, he was pretty funny about walking the "red carpet."   

Friday, July 14, 2017

One week in America

We've been in the States for a week now ...  no specific order.  We are on vacation but life is just easier here
  • The washers are bigger which means I can do laundry in under 2 hours instead of 5. 
  • The restaurants are bigger and the amount of food served is plenty.
  • It rained every single day and the humidity is horrible.
  • Air conditioning is everywhere and it's cold everywhere!
  • English is spoken everywhere - surprise, right ... Here is the weird part - people want to talk to me and chit chat.  I spoke to more people I've never seen and will never see again like at the playgrounds, stores, etc.  I guess people are just friendlier :)
  •  Kids need to supervised.  I love that in Germany I can send them to park on their own; here - not so much. 
  • Waiting for a school bus to arrive is not fun.
  • Stores are seemingly always open. 

2 out of 3 musketeers :)

Monday, July 10, 2017

School is officially done for!

As of about 10:40 last Friday, I officially have one 3rd grader, one 4th grader and a kid who is just going to continue his kindergarten journey!  The school picks up again on August 14 giving us exactly 6 weeks off but for now I am happy to turn my alarm off and sleep.  They do have some learning to do over the summer but nothing excessive (shouldn't be more than 30 minutes a day for math, English, German and Russian for Ilya).

Their report cards are good.  Or at least we are happy with their respective grades.  They are not perfect straight A students (and if their parents are any indication the boys will never be straight A students but it's more than OK).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

T minus ... leaving for US in 6 days

Andrei, Ilya and I leave for our American adventure in 6 days.  Chris and Anton are staying behind for a bit :)

What still needs to be done:
  • 3 dentist appointments
  • 3 speech therapy appointments
  • 1 reading therapy appointment
  • Russian consulate appointment (apparently my kids are not my own - our last names are spelled differently, boys do not have "K" in their Russian spelling and I do so that needs to be fixed) - DONE, ISSUE NOT FIXED
  • 2 regular pediatrician appointments - ONE IS DONE
  • 1 appointment at Health State Office with one of the boys
  • Birthday/July 4 celebration 
And pack!  It's going to be a busy week ...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chris and Russian poetry

Towards the end of the year, the school load increases and Ilya has had to memorize a significant amount of Russian and German poems.  Some are easier than others but overall it's not an easy task for him so he decided that Chris should join him in learning.  Enjoy :)