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Double Rainbows

By this time we knew that we were in trouble. Immigration appointments hadn’t gone well. Everything was starting to unravel.

What do we do now? Should we sit at home, defeated, waiting until the inevitable happens? My advice to my three kids- ranging in age from young teen, teen, and young adult -means absolutely nothing if I don’t live the words I say. I’ve told them “bad things happen that aren’t your choice, but your attitude is up to you“.

I could have stayed home, sulking and fretting. My attitude was my choice. But the Celtic Sea coast was sitting out there, sparkling and free, costing nothing but a little diesel to visit – just waiting for someone like me who, with a little faith and a little luck, may just find herself under a glorious double rainbow.

As the Mom of the house, my attitude can drag down or lift up the entire family. It’s a heavy responsibility sometimes. I’m glad I chose the sea.

These pictures were taken on March 13 and March 29, 2016. Both locations are a short drive from Cork, Ireland. I know that there are many photos here. It was hard to decide which ones to share!

IMG_2813That’s a lighthouse, on top of the faraway hill.

IMG_2994Another view that puts the lighthouse into perspective – it’s quite far away, but still visible from the coast

IMG_2996Hmm, I’m thinking that I’d like to go out on that ledge. It’s not that high really, right? No one is around to stop me.

IMG_2997See my husband Brent and daughter Savannah? They don’t know where I am. I’ll go for it.

IMG_2998This is a bit higher than I thought, and slippery too. The moss is wet. Of course I’m holding the camera and not always watching where I’m going. This adventure may not end well.

IMG_2999Ooh, this is what it looks like at the end of it. I wanted a closer view of the waves crashing on the rocks.

IMG_3000Hmm, looks like I was wrong about no one noticing where I was… Nicholas took pictures of me when I was up there!

IMG_2789IMG_2792I took great shots from that perspective.

IMG_3001 Brent and Savannah – shots taken from the ledge

IMG_3002Oh, they see me now. They’re probably waiting for disaster, but I didn’t fall!

IMG_3003Well, I’m getting a little too close to the edge now. I shouldn’t push my luck too far.

IMG_3004That moss is slick… I’m lucky I didn’t slide off the edge.

IMG_3005I feel proud of myself for doing this. Somehow over the last decade or so, I began to feel old. I developed a fear of heights – or maybe a fear of falling. But I conquered this wall of rocks. I’m capable of more than I think I am. And I’m not old. I never will be if I choose to be young.

IMG_3006Just think of the view I would have missed if I hadn’t climbed the ledge!

IMG_2802Me, proud of myself for taking on an adventure all by myself. I know, it’s not “that” high, but it was high enough to put me in a bad state if I’d fallen. And I didn’t fall!

IMG_3007Savannah walking along the beach. Plenty of Irish locals were out that day, when the sun was out. Mums were pushing babies in strollers across the sand. The wet sand is so dense and compacted that it’s like walking on a sidewalk. There’s such a wide area to walk – very good place to get some fresh air and exercise.

IMG_3008Savannah, eating her packed lunch… if we bring our own food, these trips cost us nothing but gas for the car.

IMG_3009Nicholas with camera in hand – his photography is awesome! He’s learned a lot from the photography class he was taking through UCC in Cork.

IMG_3010I love the natural things that drift ashore – the girls have had a ball looking for treasures

IMG_3016There’s the lighthouse again… this time with a gull in the shot

IMG_3020Savannah between the lighthouse and the gull, just because

IMG_3021What a tender age… Savannah turned 14 a couple weeks before we left for Ireland. She’s listening to music and growing up a little more even as I take this picture.

IMG_3029Every soul leaves its footprints

IMG_3038Nicholas, absorbed in his photography, quickly becoming a man. Where did my little boy go?

IMG_3047Aww, he’s still here! Me and my son Nicholas.

IMG_3049Cassie, looking for shells – That’s why she’s not in many of these photos. She’s off on a mission!

IMG_3052Savannah running on the beach, wild and free!

IMG_3055IMG_3056IMG_3057IMG_3058IMG_3059And THAT’s how we do it!

IMG_3060Time to say goodbye to March 13. Our March 29th trip is next – ooh, that’s glorious!!! Don’t stop reading yet!

IMG_3436I asked the kids what souvenirs they wanted from Ireland. The girls said that they wanted a sweatshirt. Nicholas said that our photos are souvenirs. For Easter we surprised them with Ireland sweatshirts, European candy (some if it is delicious, but some of it is quite nasty, LOL – that’s a story for a future post!), and a plan to take a family picture of us wearing the sweatshirts (we bought one for Brent and me too!). So, everyone got what they wanted – thanks to Aldi who had a “special buy” on these sweatshirts! WOOT!

IMG_3445Easter morning…

Now for our trip to the coast on March 29. I brought my tripod to take family pictures. Brent was kind enough to set it up for me. Then he was kind enough to climb back over the rocks and go back to the car when I wanted another family picture in a remote area. I hefted it back over the rocks though, and I didn’t fall. Anyway, we pulled it off! We got our special family picture!!! And… a perfectly magical day!!!IMG_3470

Thomas Family photo on the Celtic Sea coast Ireland March 29 2016I love this picture! I’ll definitely frame this one. We took it a few minutes after we arrived at the coast. The wind was brisk and we were freezing! It was hard to get a shot without our hair blowing in front of our faces.

IMG_3472That’s better – hat and jacket on!

IMG_3473Get ready for some truly breathtaking views!

IMG_3474IMG_3475IMG_3478IMG_3479Savannah, wearing my hoodie over her sweatshirt. She didn’t expect it to be this cold. It’s the wind! Yi yi yi…. but, wait a little while and the weather changes in Ireland. It calmed down and warmed up some after we’d been there a while. We also found a gorgeous remote sheltered area that we enjoyed all by ourselves! First we had to brave the chilly winds though… and Cassie decided to sit some of that time out in the car. I’m glad we didn’t give up… the rest of the day was beautiful! Wait and see…

IMG_3480IMG_3481tut tut, it looks like rain… will my camera lens handle it?

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Oh yes, it’s looking like a good shower…

IMG_3488IMG_3489IMG_3491IMG_3492This guy is enjoying the weather! Great windy day for lift off!

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See how changeable the weather is? Misty, rainy, sunny, windy… repeat…

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I love these shots that Nicholas took of Brent and me when we didn’t know he was looking.

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IMG_3707   This next batch is also from Nicholas’ camera:IMG_3703 IMG_3702 IMG_3701 IMG_3700 IMG_3698 IMG_3696 IMG_3691 IMG_3690 IMG_3679And now back to photos from my camera:

IMG_3496IMG_3497Nicholas – couldn’t be happier!

IMG_3498IMG_3499IMG_3500IMG_3501IMG_3502IMG_3503Sun is starting to peek through… look for rainbows!

IMG_3507IMG_3508No rainbows yet… more rain!

IMG_3509Should we pack it in? Cameras are getting wet…

IMG_3513What do you think, guys? Call it a day?

IMG_3514IMG_3515Well, maybe just a few more minutes…

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If we stay long enough…

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Maybe we’ll see something new… What’s over here?

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If you wait in the rain long enough, you may just see…

IMG_3537IMG_3538IMG_3539Or…. maybe TWO!

It’s a double rainbow!

IMG_3540IMG_3541I’m calling Brent over – do you see it? Do you see it?!!?

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IMG_3550IMG_3551Me, running to catch the rainbow before it’s too late!

IMG_3552WHEE!!! I’m under a double rainbow in IRELAND!

Cassie didn’t see the rainbow from where she was sitting in the car, waiting out the cold/wind/rain. All she saw was me twirling in some sort of blissful state on the beach, LOL! To get an idea of what she saw, here are the photos Brent took in rapid succession. You have to imagine seeing all of this without knowing there’s a double rainbow in the sky!

The whole thing only took a few seconds, but… well, do the rainbow dance with me!

IMG_3553 IMG_3558 IMG_3557 IMG_3556 IMG_3555 IMG_3554Natalie under  rainbow on Celtic Sea coastDreams do come true!

Just like rainbows, some dreams appear only fleetingly… but they are glorious! And when the dream fades, it’s time to dream a new dream. Rebuilding is hard. But we are stronger than we think we are.

Shortly after the double rainbow, Nicholas disappeared around the bend, where those rocks were… Where did he go? What’s over there? I ventured over… and it was BEAUTIFUL! That’s when I begged for another round of family pictures!

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The kids on Celtic Coast March 29, 2016IMG_3625IMG_3619IMG_3618IMG_3617

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IMG_3631 IMG_3630IMG_3870IMG_3871Nicholas takes over the shoot… why are we using the self timer when he’s standing right there with his own camera?

IMG_3877IMG_3876IMG_3874Except that he takes forever, fiddling with the lens… he makes us giggle… and that’s a wrap. 🙂

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IMG_3816IMG_3827IMG_3838IMG_3839IMG_3857IMG_3858IMG_3859 IMG_3899 IMG_3898 IMG_3884  IMG_3881           IMG_3866 IMG_3860

IMG_3899IMG_3614 IMG_3613 IMG_3612 IMG_3611 IMG_3610 IMG_3609 IMG_3607 IMG_3606 IMG_3605 IMG_3604 IMG_3603 IMG_3602 IMG_3601 IMG_3600 IMG_3599 IMG_3598 IMG_3596 IMG_3595 IMG_3594 IMG_3593 IMG_3592 IMG_3591  IMG_3589 IMG_3588 IMG_3587 IMG_3586 IMG_3585 IMG_3584 IMG_3583 IMG_3582 IMG_3581 IMG_3580 IMG_3579 IMG_3578 IMG_3577 IMG_3576

IMG_3575 IMG_3574 IMG_3573 IMG_3572 IMG_3571 IMG_3570 IMG_3569 IMG_3568 IMG_3567 IMG_3566 IMG_3565 IMG_3564 IMG_3563 IMG_3562 IMG_3561I guess it’s time for this perfect day to end.

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Happiness is a Choice

Well, our first visit to immigration didn’t go the way we’d hoped. We have another appointment in about two weeks. We might be able to extend our stay here, but we might have to go back to the States. We might lose everything we’ve put into this leap of faith move to Ireland. We just don’t know.

But what we do know is that happiness is a choice. We could sit at home wringing our hands, turning on each other, and escaping each other through our computers, phones, etc. We could react to stress by wasting our time here in Ireland. Or, we can let go and trust that we’ll be OK, no matter what happens. We can resent that Brent is between jobs, or we can appreciate that he has time for us, and that all five of us are together.

We have had our bad moments, and our reaction to stress hasn’t always been pretty. There have been plenty of tantrums (mine). But after we calmed down we got it right. The coast is free to visit. There’s no excuse for missing out on the beauty of Ireland. We’re HERE! If we miss it, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We get one life, just one. We choose happiness!

Here we are in Ballinspittle, at Garrettstown Beach, Ireland on Friday, March 11, 2016.

IMG_2824Savannah was thrilled to see the Irish coast! We all were! SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited to finally make it to the sea!!!

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IMG_2830Cassie admiring the breathtaking view – yes it was raining – it’s Ireland 🙂

IMG_2851I’m so happy to be here!!!! (that’s rain on the lens, not snow!)IMG_2852

I’ve lost another button off my trench coat… oh well, no worries.

Natalie Buske Thomas in Ireland March 2016Rain is letting up! It comes and goes – misty. The air is so fresh. I was running in the sand, racing to get to the next view. It was like my eyes were thirsty and I couldn’t drink it in fast enough.

IMG_2854My daughter Savannah and husband Brent

IMG_2856I love this feminine picture of my sweet daughter Savannah, who is growing up into a beautiful young lady – too fast! Can we slow these days down?

IMG_2857Brent took off his shoes. 🙂

IMG_2859Love the sound of the waves, love everything!

IMG_2861Rain on the lens, but still captured this moment – Savannah running in the sand

IMG_2863Brent laughing – I think he got a little too close to the tide coming in

IMG_2865Love this shot of Cassie – her reflection is in the sand

IMG_2867Savannah couldn’t be happier to be at the beach!

IMG_2868IMG_2875IMG_2876IMG_2878IMG_2879IMG_2883Savannah found a heart shaped rock – what a treasure!

IMG_2884IMG_2885My husband Brent and son Nicholas

IMG_2887Nicholas, having a ball! He is taking a photography short course through UCC. He’s been snapping hundreds of photos. We have to watch out for him because he’ll lag behind or wander off, lost in his photography.

IMG_2888Happy, happy! My kids have been through a lot. They helped take care of my mother when she was dying. It was a hard life that we went through. It’s so good to see the big smiles and my kids being kids, making up for some lost childhood.

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IMG_2891The girls are looking for treasures. Nicholas has his eyeball on his camera.

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Stunning views! And we had the coast all to ourselves!

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IMG_2939Savannah and Nicholas exploring the coast

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IMG_2949Brent and Nicholas, Savannah on the end

IMG_2950So many beautiful rocks and shells to sift through

IMG_2951IMG_2952IMG_2953BEAUTIFUL! Ooh, this is the Ireland I longed to see!

IMG_2954Nicholas going as far as he can without falling in – I loved watching my kids exploring as if they were little again. Of course I was doing the same thing. 🙂

IMG_2956Pretty shells… still in use so I better not take them!

IMG_2959IMG_2960There were many striped rocks. They looked like someone drizzled icing over them.

IMG_2965IMG_2966My husband Brent and me (Nicholas took this for us)

Natalie Buske Thomas with husband Brent in Ireland March 2016Keep an eye on the tide rolling in while Nicholas is trying to figure out why my camera won’t focus (lens was wet & giving an error)

IMG_2969Are you watching that tide?

IMG_2971Keep watching…

IMG_2972Wait for it…

IMG_2973Water is already on our shoes/boots…more water coming

IMG_2974RUN!!! Yeah, my legs got soaked.

IMG_2975Cassie with her bag of treasures, admiring the view

IMG_2976IMG_2977Savannah enjoyed running barefoot on the sand

IMG_2978I didn’t know that Nicholas was collecting rocks. He put those in his pocket…I took them out for him later when it was time to toss his jacket in the washer. It was like he was a little boy again!

IMG_2979It’s about time to go, but everyone’s dawdling a bit

IMG_2980This is the view on the way back to the car

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IMG_2989Some of Cassie’s treasures, so pretty! She wants to make jewelry.

Well, our immigration problems are still complicated. Our odds of staying here are probably 50/50. Our finances are still stretched. But we have health insurance now (we had lost ours TWICE in the States and couldn’t afford it)! It feels so good to have that security back! We’re renting a wonderful house, we have a car again, the kids have both finished their applications for UCC, and Brent’s application has been received by the Irish Teaching Council. The food here is less expensive and absolutely delicious!

It’s really up to us whether or not we focus on the negatives or the positives. It’s up to us whether or not we give in to fear and stress, or look for treasures instead. Not everything comes easily and some things can never be ours. We can’t always get what we want, but there are some things that are entirely up to us.

It’s up to us to choose happiness.