Posted on

Tybee Island

Tybee Island GA

Ooh, adventure awaits us at Tybee Island, GA!

Tybee Island GA May 2017

I can hardly wait! THIS is what all of the work was about – a spectacular life!

Tybee Island GA

It’s a beautiful sunny day – hot, but not too hot… PERFECT!

There’s my girl, excited for our first day on the beach in our new home!

Tybee Island

Well, come on! Let’s get in the water!

Tybee Island, GA

While I wait for the rest of the family to catch up (I ran on ahead), I’ll take a few pictures… ooh, a flock of pelicans! (or pelican-like birds, I don’t know)

Ah, here they are… the rest of the family is here.

With my husband Brent and daughter Cassie here to oversee our beach towels, yes… get in the water, Nicholas and Savannah! WOOT!

Son Nicholas…. wearing his Doctor Who T-shirt over his white Irish skin. Smart idea, sounds like he listened to his mom.

Ah, my son and my youngest daughter Savannah… she’s been waiting for beach day – hard to believe she will be 16 this year. UGH – boys STAY AWAY! (that’s the age I was when I met my husband!!!!)

Pure joy!

I love this shot! Their body language speaks for itself – it’s like I can hear their voices when I see this picture. Savannah giving a whoop, Nicholas chuckling.

What fun! There’s nothing like God’s oceans to bring absolute overwhelming delight. Everything we went through to get to our new life… all the detours and failures… this moment reminds me why it was all worth it.

My husband Brent (apparently taking a picture of me? Probably forever lost on his phone) and daughter Cassie (collecting shells). So… can you keep my camera for me? I want to get in the water! Why am I still standing on the beach???

Brent took this wonderful photo of Cassie… when I asked him to keep my camera, he decided to use it. 🙂

From left to right… Savannah (head barely above water), me (arms stretched out for reasons unknown), Nicholas…. Cassie picking up shells

Savannah, me in the middle, Nicholas – oh WOW this was sooooooo much fun!!!!! I can’t wait to go back!!!!!!

Natalie Buske Thomas with husband Brent on Tybee Island GA

Me and my husband ~ Looks like we made it! Coming up on 30 years of marriage next year

Miss Cassandra and me… yeah, I’m the shortest one in my family. At least there are plenty of roommates to reach the top shelves for me.

I love when I capture a father-son moment… don’t know what they’re talking about here, just love that they enjoy talking to each other.

Savannah built a sand castle while we waited to dry off some before leaving the island

Aww, our day at the beach is over… we are some of the whitest people on the planet. Even with sunscreen we have to limit our time in the sun. Well, that’s OK, we’ll come back soon!

The family, walking slowly… tired from our day at the beach

Our first day at Tybee Island is over, but before we go… let’s grab a bite to eat at The Crab Shack! We’ll feed ourselves AND the alligators. Yep… real ones. I’ve only seen them at zoos. This will be interesting!

The day at the beach cost us only $4 for parking. My aunt Ann had sent us money for our anniversary this past February. She prefers that we spend it on dinners out instead of bills or errands. I saved it for a special occasion. And here we are! Her gift will cover the Crab Shack and part of another meal out too!

So, onward to The Crab Shack!

Posted on

Home in Georgia!

On the road to our new life!

We’ve finally made it to Georgia by way of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ireland, and Indiana! We went through Kentucky and Tennessee (Hello, Nashville!) to the Georgia state line… but we’d have several hours’ more driving left… including driving through Atlanta just after rush hour.

Signs I thought were worthy of a blog mention:

I don’t think they meant for those two signs to go together, but… interesting, huh? Trust Him from the mountaintop?

As you see, we’re coming into Atlanta now… I hope it’s not too crazy. Last time we were here it was a hideous din, like a million bees buzzing. The cars were swinging across several lanes of traffic from both sides, all at the same time… reminded me of motorcycles in a cage at a circus. This time, it was nothing like that. It was fairly easy. We stayed in the fabulous carpool “diamond” lane and sailed through!

Atlanta!

More Atlanta…

Here’s another billboard for you…

I thought that was a cool vintage looking sign

This amused me to see Trump on a tower

Ah, we’re almost in Macon, whew! We have hotel reservations there. We’re sick of being on the road. Everyone’s ready to get out of the van.

Our hotel is behind the Outback Steakhouse. Glad to be calling it a night.

Yea, it’s the morning of our move to the new house! We’ve left Macon for the Savannah area… Port Wentworth. I took this picture for Marie. Look, Marie, I’ve gone back to Ireland!

LOL, figured you’d get a kick out of seeing this. Well, no, I’m not back in Ireland, but I’m back at the coast, near an island and dolphins! Oh, and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world, huge love for the Irish in Savannah.

What would Georgia be without peaches?

Ooh, look, we’re getting close!

Not long now!

I’m getting nervous butterflies!

HOME!

 

 

Beautiful flowers by driveway, walkway

 

Look, sand! Sand in the backyard! (Hey do you like my cute sandals? Seriously cheap from Kmart!)

AND… wow, totally didn’t know about this! There’s a lagoon at the end of the property, just yards from our patio door! That’s a crane. I took many pictures of it. Figured you only needed to see one, LOL. There’s fish in the lagoon and we’re allowed to fish! There are turtles too. Savannah is on cloud 9. She spent hours out there… did not have sunscreen on. Yep. (Oh, if you are new to my blog, my youngest daughter is named Savannah… coincidence, nothing to do with GA. She was named after the adorable child character in Savannah Smiles, a movie. But… my Savannah LOVES that people don’t get her name wrong anymore, and she’s loving seeing her name on everything. Already bought a hat with Savannah on it.)

I’ll end our moving day with this closeup of the gorgeous flowers I showed you earlier. Welcome to the South. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.

Flowers in Port Wentworth GA

 

 

 

Posted on

Coastal Again!

Tybee Island GA

I’m Coastal Again! WOOT!

I know, this blog post is coming to you out of nowhere, after a long absence. I couldn’t find the words to describe all of the miserable things that were happening to us. Besides, most of it isn’t wise to post on the Internet.

Evansville, Indiana didn’t like us. After that city was through chewing us up, the feeling was mutual.To say that things didn’t work out would be a vast understatement. But let’s just focus on what’s most important.

Teaching wasn’t the right career for Brent. I won’t get into the reasons why, but it was clear that this wasn’t the life that any of us wanted. So, even though he’d put years into going back to school for his masters degree, a semester of unpaid student teaching, and so much more… well, it was best to cut our losses and move on.

Meanwhile, Brent’s part time job at CVS led him to his new career. He had become a licensed Pharmacy Tech, and was recently offered a slightly better position as a Shift Supervisor Rx. We’d be moving again, but to somewhere special! Before I get to that: There’s a college nearby where he can go back to school—yes, again!—to become a PHARMACIST! This direction makes sense. Brent has always been a scientist type. I thought he’d be teaching middle school science, which seemed to fit, but one thing led to another and he ended up in primary school, hmmm. Anyway, life feels very much back on track now. WHEW! That was quite a detour! (and pharmacy pays much, much better than teaching, WOOT!)

The Pharmacist plan does mean more “starving student” years ahead as Brent goes to school for his Pharmacy D, and he’ll have to do an unpaid internship at the end (UGH!). Pressure is on to rev up my career as an artist and an author. Please share my work with your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to help me in any way that you can think of. If you have extra dollars, you can buy my books for your local library, school, dentist office, etc. Well, there’s that promo out of the way. Now… back to our big news:

WE’VE MOVED TO GEORGIA!

My father visited Savannah, GA on his assignments with the Air National Guard. He brought me a beautiful sand dollar. He had another one that he cracked open to show me the “doves” inside. He told me the story of the sand dollar and said that Savannah is a special place that I should go to one day. I never thought much of it. The ocean was something I’d only seen once, when I visited my aunt in North Carolina. It just wasn’t my world, although my heart longed for it to be.

Well, before the Ireland dream, we’d hoped to move to Savannah, but when we lost our health insurance and had a whole host of other miserable set backs, we chose Ireland instead. I worked for four years to raise the money to move to Ireland. And, if you’ve been following my story, you know that we could only stay for five months (visa issues). But… it was a life changing adventure and our family will never be the same. My dream of seeing a dolphin in the wild came true, and I have the beautiful dolphin figurine from Dingle to remind me of it. It’s sitting in my mom’s hutch right now.

Back to my story… here we are, about ten years after we first decided to make a big life change. After moving from Minnesota to Wisconsin, to Ireland and Indiana… we are now back to our original wish, the one that we thought we couldn’t have: a move to coastal Georgia, in the Savannah area.

After Ireland, big dreams were over. Indiana was back in the Midwest, we’d lived there while growing up, and we knew people. It made sense… until it all went wrong. There were times when I looked at my beautiful dolphin figurine and I’d struggle not to cry. I knew if I let one tear loose I’d sob for hours, days even. (a bit of an exaggeration there)

Well…. did you know that Savannah has easy access to places like Tybee Island and there are dolphins there? Did you further know that I already have good news to share about my new author/artist connections? And did you also know that I’m typing this from my new house right now?

Ireland proved anything was possible, and Indiana proved that failure isn’t the end of the world. Why fear it? It was time to dream again! I’d have a fabulous life as a coastal author and artist. I will! I am!

OK, OK, time for me to stop talking and show you the pictures!

 

Posted on

Old Town

Pretty walk to Sunday Market in Old Town, Evansville, Indiana – a street fair with interesting and eclectic vendors – on June 12, 2016

IMG_4302

We need a closer look at those flowers!

IMG_4303I had these (hydrangeas) when we lived in Wisconsin. They turn blue or pink depending in the Ph levels in the soil. You can add aluminum to the soil to get hydrangeas to change colors.

IMG_4304

IMG_4306Wow, look at the stained glass windows on this church!

IMG_4307

IMG_4308Looks like a fun place!

IMG_4308 (2)

IMG_4309Another interesting building… and more flowers

IMG_4310

IMG_4311

Oh come on, stop and smell the roses… we’ll get to the street fair, don’t worry!

IMG_4312

IMG_4313

Doesn’t a city look much friendlier with flowers growing on every street? Attracts butterflies too!

IMG_4314

See? We made it to the street fair just fine! Brent parked farther away than he had to, oops, didn’t know – but the walk was pretty. No harm done, a bit hot is all.

IMG_4319

IMG_4318“Mystic Hand”. It’s fun reading all of the creative vendor names.

IMG_4315This vendor, called “Bang Bang Ballistic Jewelry“, makes jewelry and custom items by stamping on brass. They also receive orders for memorial purposes (such as 21 gun salutes).

IMG_4316Miki is buying an ankle bracelet

IMG_4317

IMG_4320I got a kick out of this vendor’s name – “Dharma Cowgirl

IMG_4321Dharma Cowgirl jewelry is created by local artist, Tiffany Piazza, inspired by favorite books, nature, and animals

IMG_4322Tiffany Piazza of Dharma Cowgirl with her husband

IMG_4324The Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden was well represented. This friendly Zoo contact gave us a compelling pitch for why we should visit the zoo. We picked up the brochure. 🙂

IMG_4325These cookies in the shape of the state of Indiana amused me.

IMG_4326This is the vendor who sells the Indiana cookies, Sweet Bettys Bakery

IMG_4327

LOL! Pizza sold out of a double decker bus. The bus was imported from the UK for The Pizza Revolution, Wood Fired Pizza.

Well, time to head back to the car. Let’s linger a little bit to enjoy the pretty scenery.

IMG_4328Doesn’t this porch look inviting?

IMG_4329Remember to look DOWN… you may see something interesting, like this intricate manhole cover. I wonder how many hours it took an artist to create this?

IMG_4330

Ah, back to where we started with the hydrangeas. It was a beautiful sunny day, although steamy. Thank you to Walter and Miki for inviting us to go and for buying us lunch afterward. Much appreciated.

I love indie events like this!

Posted on

Nashville, Baby!

Nashville (1)THIS is what I was looking forward to from the first day when I realized that we were moving to Indiana by way of Ireland… NASHVILLE, baby! The appeal of living near the Indiana state border is that we can drive to several other states in two hours or less. Kentucky is just a stone’s throw away (perhaps literally, if standing in the Ohio river, where the border lies), and beyond Kentucky is Tennessee. It only takes 2.5 hours to drive to Nashville from our home in Newburgh, near Evansville, Indiana. We can also visit St. Louis, MO in about 2.5 hours’ drive. Southern Illinois is also an easy drive. If willing to add a bit more drive time… it’s about 3.5 to Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m absolutely thrilled to have so many interesting places to visit without having to travel far to get there – these are all inexpensive day trips! I’ll be photographing and blogging – come with me! 🙂

Today’s trip – NASHVILLE! This was a gorgeous sunny day on June 7. We’d had a highly stressful week and today was no exception. The air conditioning unit had stopped working, Brent found out that he didn’t get a job he’d interviewed for, and… well, I won’t share all the miserable details, but we had a choice to make. Do we sit at home and sulk, waiting for the A/C guy to call? Or do we make a different choice?

Well, I know what “Irish Natalie” would have done! I would have packed the family up for a trip to the coast. Now, we can’t do that here… the Celtic Sea may be calling me, but it’s too far away now. That doesn’t mean that we should resign ourselves to our former vacation-less adventure-less life of waiting, waiting, waiting, for permission to LIVE. I found plenty of free things to do in Nashville. All we needed was gas for the car.

Nashville (4)We crossed the Indiana state border within minutes… We were soon in Kentucky.

Nashville (5)WOOT! It didn’t take long to reach Tennessee! I couldn’t believe it! I’d never been to Nashville before. I’d been using the anticipation of this day as an incentive whenever I felt upset about leaving Ireland. I promised myself that we’d go to Nashville as soon as we could. Just because we were living Plan B, it doesn’t mean that everything I’d worked for was gone. My family was still together. What will we do with this time? Everyone had already gotten into a habit of squirreling away with their various gadgets – online talking to others while in the same house with the people we love. Lightning-fast Internet made that possible. Gone was the unreliable and worthlessly slow satellite connection we had in Ireland. In its place was fabulous speed to connect, connect, connect – with everyone but each other. Well, well… let’s unplug, shall we?

Irish Natalie is also a bit more… assertive…. passionate… and VOCAL than the old me. I had a proper meltdown and off we went. Some things are worth fighting for. As matriarch of the family I need to recognize when it’s time to get up in everyone’s grill. Oh, they were all smiles before we were even halfway into the trip. See? 🙂

Nashville (6)

Nashville (7)Brent was feeling too tired… but look at him here, having fun already. He pushes himself to do work related things. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to do what’s even more important. Work and errands… who remembers what happens on a regular day? But when will we forget our first trip to Nashville? NEVER.

Nashville (8)

Apparently we’ve reached “The Gateway to the New South”. Hmm, the more you know…

Nashville (9)It sure is a pretty drive through Tennessee!

Nashville (10)Almost there!

Nashville (15)WHEE! It’s NASHVILLE!!!! What a feeling, to see a place I’ve always heard about but have never been to. It’s like when I saw Tinkerbell at Disney World. Fairies DO exist! Wow.

Nashville (18)Oh yeah, it’s Nashville!

Nashville (19)We have arrived at our destination! It’s right up there… See the brown sign?

Nashville (20)

Nashville (175)Nashville (176)There, you can see it now – Centennial Park… and YES, we are definitely seeing the Parthenon! This is supposedly the only real Parthenon in the world… (Why does it exist, and why is it in Nashville?) I’m excited about immersing myself in the beauty of this park. There are gardens to explore and the weather couldn’t be more gorgeous!

Nashville (21)First, let’s go on an adventure! The Parthenon awaits!

Nashville (23)Nashville (24)Nashville (25)Isn’t it magnificent? Let’s get closer, shall we?

Nashville (26)Nashville (29)

This is a photo op if I ever saw one…

Nashville (30)Oh dear, my legs are whiter than the concrete. And ditto for Cassie’s legs… sitting on the right. Hey, we fit right in when we lived in Ireland. Now I’m back to blinding people.

Nashville (34)Ooh, there it is!

Nashville (36)The art on the building is just amazing!

Nashville (40)This really IS Nashville! Ran into a young hopeful staging a photo shoot at the Parthenon… She plans to shoot me her promo details so I can give her a plug (I invited her to). Sweet girl, and certainly beautiful – I wish her all the best!

Nashville (41)Ooh, now this appeals to me! I wonder how many movies have been filmed here…

Nashville (42)Look at the ceilings! This is still outside the building. There are (paid) tours of the interior, but we didn’t plan to do that, which is good because we’d arrived after it closed anyway.

Nashville (43)Beautiful! I love these colors together.

Nashville (177)

Nashville (47)Aww, me with my best friend… husband Brent Thomas. Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in February 2018. I’m planning to throw myself a party. I expect him to come as my date. 🙂

Nashville (49)Another picture of me with my husband… Notice my necklace? Those are shells from Ireland. I picked them up at the beach in Dingle and near Cork. The earrings are a gift from my daughter Cassandra, I think from last Christmas. Thank you, Savannah for taking these wonderful photos of us parents!

Nashville (51)Meanwhile, our regular photographer can’t be bothered… Nicholas is busy taking pictures of…

Nashville (52)Well, of course… it makes sense that if you are in Nashville, Tennessee for the first time in your life, and standing directly across from a Parthenon, the most compelling thing to photograph extensively is the skid loader at the construction area. His comment? “It won’t be there tomorrow.” That kid fascinates me.

Nashville (54)My two girls…. Savannah and Cassandra

Nashville (59)I love this shot!!! I should frame it.

Nashville (178)Savannah, your smile always makes me happy!

Nashville (62)Oh there’s the boy… I guess he’s finally decided to visit the Parthenon!

I’m ready to see the gardens…

Nashville (69)Oooh, ahhh! The flowers reinvigorate my soul!

Nashville (70)

Nashville (73)I want to drink it all in!

Nashville (72)Everything is so beautiful! I’m going nuts with my camera… I had to wade through hundreds of photos to pare them down to a reasonable stash for the blog!

Nashville (83)Do they pay the ducks to amuse the tourists?

Nashville (84)Pretty!!!

Nashville (87)

Nashville (88)Cassie enjoying the beautiful Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville (89)Brent and Savannah looking at the water… we saw a variety of critters: turtles, ducks, pigeons, swans, fish

Nashville (90)Passing by the Parthenon from the other side

Nashville (91)Nashville (92)Brent and Savannah leaving waterside area… our day trip is ending… but we haven’t seen the gardens yet

Nashville (94)Ooh, swans! (pretty, but I’m glad they’re staying over THERE… me and swans have a history…)

Nashville (95)Glad to see he’s enjoying himself… Just after he took these shots he spent a great deal of time photographing a squirrel.

Nashville (97)

I’m rather proud of that shot, with the bird perfectly framed inside the tree branch.

Nashville (99)

Nashville (101)

I love how the sun has cast shafts of light in front of the bridge.

Nashville (102)

Nashville (103)Back to the water front…

Nashville (104)

Nashville (105)

Nashville (107)

Nashville (108)

Nashville (109)

Nashville (110)This bird wasn’t cooperating with me… I was trying to capture the shimmery colorful area on the back of his neck.

Nashville (111)It was so bright and beautiful… had to wear sunglasses most of the time, and even then it was hard to take it all in

Nashville (112)

Nashville (113)

Nashville (114)

Nashville (115)Savannah shares my love for flowers… she can’t resist photographing them.

Nashville (116)Wow, she looks so much like me here.

Nashville (117)

Nashville (118)Happiness is seeing a single delicate rose, perfect in every way… knowing how hostile the environment can be and how greatly the odds are stacked against it surviving… Shouldn’t it have a torn petal, a stripped stalk, or a pitted leaf? Yet there it is, a beauty for us to discover. This pink flower lives by rising above the thorns, reaching for the sun.

Ah… getting out for the day was a very good idea! What a difference perspective makes!

Nashville (121)Be the roses.

Nashville (122)

Nashville (123)

Nashville (124)

Nashville (125)

Nashville (126)There’s my Cassie girl! She’s always loved a swing.

Nashville (127)Brent sneaking in a phone call… so busted.

Nashville (128)LOVE!!!!!! This beauty will get me through the whole rest of the month!

Nashville (130)OH MY! I’ve landed in Munchkinland! I’m half expecting adorable townspeople to come out and sing to me. Where’s my big lollipop?

Nashville (131)

Nashville (132)

Nashville (133)OK, this is getting outrageous! So much color!

Nashville (143)LOVE

Nashville (146)A bird flying over a perfectly idyllic scene

Nashville (150)Well, it just lacked a little something before…. Why not add a butterfly?

Nashville (157)Don’t keep your eyes on the ground…. remember to look UP too. This beauty is in a tree.

Nashville (159)

Can you tell that the sun is lower in the sky? We better wrap things up.

Nashville (165)

Nashville (167)

We can’t see it all… We never even made it over to the art gallery, or to the other side of the park! We’ll have to come back again a different day.

Nashville (170)One last lingering look…

Nashville (173)Goodbye, Nashville, we love you! We’ll see you again soon!

Posted on

A Dolphin in the Wild

Back when Ireland was just a dream, when it was a faraway fantasy world of rainbows and leprechauns, when it wasn’t a real place… when it was a mythical magical island that only existed in fairy tales… well, back then, I met Marie O’Halloran. She lives here. She could confirm that Ireland is a real place.

As if that didn’t rock my world enough, when I mentioned that I’d never seen a dolphin in the wild, Marie said that I must go to Ireland, where I will surely see a real dolphin in a real sea. In fact, I must go to Dingle, where I will meet Fungie, a very special dolphin who loves to chase boats.

It took me years to get here, years of hoping and planning, years of selling our possessions and saving whatever we could. I wanted a better life for me and my family. And… if God wasn’t too busy, I’d really like to see a dolphin in the wild. Just once. That’s all I ask.

Whenever this journey felt impossible, whenever life was too hard, whenever I felt defeated, I thought of the dolphin. I will see him, I will. For inspiration, my daughter Savannah gave me a beautiful dolphin necklace. I tucked that special jewelry away, and I’d look at it from time to time. I saved it, but didn’t wear it. I brought it with me to Ireland, and I put it out where I could see it every day.

Finally, I wore the necklace. It was April 19, 2016 – the day I saw a dolphin in the wild. My life will never be the same, because I now I know the truth. Dreams do come true, and when they do, it’s worth all of the effort, the heartbreak, and the fear.

IMG_3713I can’t believe we’re actually here in Dingle, Ireland. This is the day I was waiting for all of these years!

IMG_3716We’ve booked the dolphin tour.  As you can see, the tours are inexpensive. Because Fungie is a wild animal, they can’t guarantee that we’ll see him. If he doesn’t show up, there’s a refund policy. But, we’ve come all the way from America, and at this point, I know that I’m leaving Ireland and may never make it back. I may never get another chance! No, that’s unacceptable. I won’t take no for an answer.

I’d call the dolphin to me with my positive thinking – oh, you may laugh, but I have a magical way with animals. Even though I’m allergic to anything with fur, animals are drawn to me. They stare at me and come right to me. This happens in zoos, in parks, and in backyards. Sometimes this attention from the animal world is unwelcome, but other times I’m blissfully like Snow White and all the beautiful little birdies and rabbits and butterflies gather round me.

Would this mysterious phenomena work on a dolphin? Possibly. But I left nothing to chance. I prayed. I prayed for God to show Himself to me. Send me the dolphin. Let me see him. Please… I’ve come so far. I’ve had faith. And here I am. Just as You’ve asked. Am I going back home without even seeing a dolphin? After all that we’ve been through to get here? No, no, no! You have to send him to me.

Well… you’ll see for yourself. Fungie not only appeared, but he stayed by my side, even when I went to a different section of the boat! There was a boat full of people he could have chosen, and yet, he went right to me.  Cassie was amazed. She liked standing wherever I was because Fungie would soon appear.

Funny thing, it’s like I knew where he was even when he was far away from the boat, deep under the water. I’d look in the exact spot where soon a fin would appear above the surface. The sightings were fleeting – if my camera wasn’t trained on the water where he’d pop up, I’d miss him. But I somehow knew where he was.

Nicholas stood near me and trained his camera in the same location. We have many, many gorgeous photos of this most beautiful and amazing creature. I can’t begin to describe how deliriously happy I felt when I saw him. It took my breath away.

IMG_5047Our boat – love the name! Reminds me of Doctor Who

IMG_5042IMG_5046We’re waiting for everyone in my family to use the restroom. I’m restless and impatient. We can’t miss the boat! I’m staring down at the boat, wishing I was on it already.

IMG_3719We’ve left the dock! It’s beautiful! It’s everything I’ve dreamed of!

IMG_5081IMG_3724IMG_3728Getting close to that lighthouse now!

IMG_3732Near the lighthouse there is also a part of a castle wall or some other ruin. Brent would know… he was listening to the tour. I was too busy taking pictures and looking for the dolphin. No sign of him yet…

IMG_3723IMG_3805bIMG_3806IMG_3734IMG_3735Still no dolphin… beautiful sights though

IMG_3736IMG_3737Praying to see the dolphin – still seeing nothing…

IMG_3738WAIT!!!! Look out there! See it? See it? I do!!!!

IMG_3738bA DOLPHIN IN THE WILD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IMG_3739Oh my, he’s coming right to me!

IMG_3739bI see him, I see him!

IMG_3740Aww, he’s going away already?

IMG_3741IMG_3742I see him! He’s coming back!

IMG_3743He’s right there, I know it!

IMG_3744THERE HE IS!!!!

IMG_3745Oooh, I see more of him now!

IMG_3745bI can barely contain myself!!!! This is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IMG_3746And back out he goes… he’s very fast!

IMG_3747IMG_3748He’s back!!!!

IMG_3749He’s there…

IMG_3750Just need a little patience…

IMG_3751IMG_3752IMG_3753THERE HE IS!!!!!!

IMG_3754IMG_3754bIMG_3755IMG_3756IMG_3756bIMG_3757IMG_5142IMG_5143IMG_5146IMG_5147Ooh, look at his sweet little face!!!!!

IMG_5148IMG_5149IMG_5167IMG_5168IMG_5169IMG_5170IMG_3758IMG_3759The tour guide warns us that he’s a wild dolphin and he might not be back to play. She distracts us by showing us beautiful places, but I’m still keeping an eye out for the dolphin to return.

IMG_3760IMG_3764IMG_3765IMG_3766Brent and Natalie in Dingle Ireland

In between dolphin sightings… my husband Brent and me… one of the happiest days of my life!!!!!

Brent and Natalie in Dingle Ireland

IMG_3767IMG_3772IMG_3773IMG_3774IMG_3777IMG_3779Ooh! Got up close to the Sea Arch – STUNNING!

But I haven’t forgotten about the dolphin, nice try Sea Arch…

IMG_3781IMG_3784IMG_3786IMG_3787Look who’s back!!!! I knew he’d come back, I knew it! OK, so I didn’t, but I’m thrilled he did!!!! WOOT!!!!

IMG_3788IMG_3789Hi Fungie! You make me so happy!

IMG_3789bIMG_3790IMG_3790bIMG_3791IMG_3792You have to be patient… he’s there!

IMG_3793IMG_3794He’s smiling! He’s happy to see me too!

IMG_3794bIMG_3794cIMG_3795OOH! He’s jumping! He’s really playing now!

IMG_3795bIMG_3796IMG_3796bIMG_3797I LOVE YOU FUNGIE!!!!!

IMG_3797bHe says “I love you too”!

IMG_3798IMG_3799Ah, we’re both getting exhausted… it’s time for the final goodbye I think…

IMG_3800One last wave!!!!

IMG_3801I’ll miss you! Thank you for letting me see you!

IMG_3802And then, he was gone.

IMG_3803DolphinTourVideo

Brent took these pictures from his phone:

DolphinTour1DolphinTour2DolphinTour3DolphinTour4DolphinTour5

DolphinTour6DolphinTour7And here are the pictures that Nicholas took of Fungie – he got some great shots!

IMG_5209IMG_5211IMG_5212IMG_5213IMG_5220IMG_5221IMG_5222I love this shot that Nicholas captured!

IMG_5223IMG_5231This is my favorite. I will miss you so much, Fungie. You will stay in our hearts forever!

Well, back to the beautiful scenery… Fungie is tired, and so are we!

IMG_3803IMG_3807IMG_3817See my red purse? I hung it there and almost forgot about it. That’s where I was standing most of the time, but I moved around the boat some.

IMG_3824Brent and Cassie on dolphin tour boat

IMG_3820IMG_3820bIMG_3821IMG_3816IMG_3830IMG_3831IMG_3832Well, we are sad to be back on land, but it was the most exhilarating, amazing, and beautiful experience! I feel so loved by that dolphin. I can’t explain it. I had heard that it is magical to see a dolphin in the wild, but I didn’t expect to feel that way for real. I thought it was an exaggeration… it wasn’t. Wow… I just… I’m blessed.

And now it’s time to explore Dingle. Marie had told us about Murphy’s ice cream. It’s been on our list for years – it was second to the dolphin of course! But now that we’ve crossed something off my bucket list, it’s time for ice cream! (My family is enjoying my bucket list – the girls have tried to add something to it, LOL!)

IMG_3835IMG_3835bIMG_3837 - CopyYou probably noticed that it’s chilly. I’m wearing three layers (a heavy sweatshirt, my hoodie that’s crammed with stuff in the pockets–that’s why I look oddly lumpy, LOL!–and my trenchcoat). But… we have to try the ice cream. And besides, the sun is shining in Ireland! What a truly gorgeous day we’ve had!!!!

IMG_3838I chose one scoop of Dingle Sea Salt — made right there from the sea!!!! And one scoop of Irish Coffee. Oh yeah!

IMG_3839I asked Nicholas what he got and he had the most cheesy grin. He got the Dingle GIN! He reminded me that the legal drinking age is 18 in Ireland.

IMG_3842IMG_3843IMG_3840This one’s mine – Dingle Sea Salt and Irish Coffee – MMMM!

IMG_3841IMG_3844IMG_3845Time to go shopping! This is our last Irish adventure… We’ll be headed home soon. I said I’d get a dolphin souvenir if I saw a dolphin, but I’d go home empty handed if I didn’t… I also said that I’d know my special dolphin keepsake when I saw it. Wouldn’t you know, the very first shop window had my dolphin in it??? It was FUNGIE himself, complete with the scar on his fin! And it’s beautiful. Want to see????

IMG_20160419_143901Can you see him in the store window? He’s above the teddy bear and the mug… he’s to the left of the big green mug, hiding behind the little shamrock jar. I saw that as soon as we started walking past Murphy’s ice cream. There it was! That’s my dolphin!

But could we afford it? We’d been doing everything on a very low budget. Most of what we do is FREE. Dingle was a bit more for us, but not that much. We had to budget for the special ice cream and the boat tour. That didn’t leave much for trinkets. Well, if it was too much I wouldn’t get it. Then I saw the sign – Everything 50% off! WHAT? Was this one of those magic stores that will disappear as soon as our family leaves Dingle?

My beautiful dolphin was only about $8 and he’s such a treasure! I plan to display him in our home forever! Do you notice the little notch on his fin? That’s what identifies him as Fungie.

IMG_3903Here’s what he looks like when the sun from the window hits him… I didn’t know that this would happen. He’s even MORE beautiful than I thought.

IMG_3907I have this beautiful keepsake wrapped in bubble wrap, in a cardboard box, wrapped in my clothes… it’s in my carry-on bag, all ready to go home with me to the United States.

OK, back to Dingle, where shopping was in progress. My girl Savannah found a precious necklace… from the same mysteriously inexpensive gift shop where everything was 50% off. We said YES to the pretty necklace. She hasn’t taken it off since!

IMG_3846Nicholas also found a couple of treasures. He had his own money and he bought two interesting figurines – small, they can fit in his pocket. Cassie found a Murphy’s Ice Cream pencil. Brent said he didn’t need a souvenir. Besides, he’ll see my dolphin forever, and he’ll likely build a shelf for it… I’m finally understanding that he is happy when I’m happy. Life doesn’t need to be complicated. He likes to build things. I like what he builds.

IMG_3847This guy had a bird on top of a dog on top of a donkey.

IMG_3848Can you see the green bird there on the dog? I missed it when he was walking on his back, doing tricks I think. A crowd was gathered around so it was hard to see.

IMG_3849Stopping to take pictures along the scenic coastal drive… we’re headed to the beach – our last Dingle event before we head back

IMG_3850IMG_3851

IMG_3854IMG_3857IMG_3858IMG_3860IMG_3861IMG_3862IMG_3863IMG_3864IMG_3866IMG_3867IMG_3868IMG_3869IMG_3871IMG_3872IMG_3873 IMG_3882 IMG_3881 IMG_3880 IMG_3879 IMG_3878 IMG_3877 IMG_3876 IMG_3875 IMG_3874IMG_3885Cassie identified this shark egg

IMG_3883I found a shell that I want to make a necklace out of. It has a hole on the top.

IMG_3884

IMG_3886 IMG_3891 IMG_3890 IMG_3889 IMG_3888 IMG_3887IMG_3893 IMG_3898 IMG_3897 IMG_3896 IMG_3895 IMG_3894Aww, our day in Dingle is coming to an end. We have one last stop through Killarney… where they have another Murphy’s Ice Cream! Here, we have to try the Sticky Toffee Pudding – Brent’s teacher friend Jen recommended it. She was student teaching here in Ireland. We were able to visit with Jen and her husband when they came through Cork and made the long detour to our remote house in rural Grenagh.

IMG_3900IMG_3899Sticky Toffee Pudding is.. hmmm… it’s like a soft cake type of thing with toffee bits in it, with a creamy ice cream on the top, with a syrup? Not sure if I described it well, but it was sweet and delicious. I’m glad we got a chance to try it!

I’ll wrap up my Dingle story with this beautiful picture of the three shells that Cassie found. They are tiny and fragile – see them compared to drops of water. She wanted one for each of us girls… She gifted the large reddish orange one to me, saying that the one with the “blush of color” seemed like me. She chose the smallest one for Savannah, and kept the third for herself. She wrapped them up delicately to bring home. I hope they make it! Surely we can glue them if broken? I thought of butterfly wings. Cassie thought of angels. They’re both!

IMG_3902

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

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?

IMG_3482IMG_3483IMG_3484IMG_3485IMG_3486IMG_3487

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!

IMG_3493IMG_3495

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

IMG_3839 IMG_3838 IMG_3829 IMG_3828 IMG_3827 IMG_3816 IMG_3808 IMG_3801 IMG_3776 IMG_3729 IMG_3720 IMG_3719 IMG_3718 IMG_3708

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

IMG_3705IMG_3706

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…

IMG_3516IMG_3518

If we stay long enough…

IMG_3522IMG_3524IMG_3528

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

IMG_3529IMG_3530IMG_3531

IMG_3533IMG_3535IMG_3536

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?!!?

IMG_3542IMG_3543IMG_3544

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!

IMG_3883IMG_3869

IMG_3868

The kids on Celtic Coast March 29, 2016IMG_3625IMG_3619IMG_3618IMG_3617

IMG_3629IMG_3624IMG_3623IMG_3622IMG_3621

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. 🙂

IMG_3872

 

IMG_3616 IMG_3615

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.

IMG_3675

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

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!!!

IMG_2825

IMG_2826

IMG_2829

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.

IMG_2889IMG_2890

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

IMG_2900

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

IMG_2901

IMG_2902IMG_2903IMG_2907

IMG_2914

IMG_2916

IMG_2931

IMG_2932

IMG_2933IMG_2936

IMG_2939Savannah and Nicholas exploring the coast

IMG_2940IMG_2941IMG_2942

IMG_2943

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

IMG_2981

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.

 

Posted on

My Blarney Valentine

We’re giving our new life everything we’ve got, so that means skipping holidays that don’t really matter, like Valentine’s Day and an “off year” wedding anniversary (our 28th on February 20th). But we’re in Ireland, and we can get out and see plenty of things for free, right?

Yes and no… it turns out that it’s no longer free to visit the grounds by the Blarney Castle. There’s always been a charge to go inside the castle and kiss the Blarney Stone, etc., but it used to be free to view the outside of it. I planned to take pictures of the castle. I didn’t want to go inside it anyway, as it is very tight in there and I hate closed in spaces. Anyway, bummer, the castle grounds cost the same fee as the inside-castle ticket price. It would have cost us more than $60 for our family to see the castle. No thanks… We saw a bit of it through the fence. So now what?

On to Blarney Woollen Mills, another tourist attraction. The Woollen Mills is free to enter, but very expensive to shop in so I didn’t expect to buy anything. It was fun to see all of the creations though. The clothing was beautiful! (you can shop online, or browse the Irish gifts and/or clothes)

It was a pretty area, downtown Blarney. And I found something I really, really wanted in the Woollen Mills lobby for only 5 Euro! It was something that Brent had given me for Christmas a couple years ago. He found it in an Irish store in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and had to pay much more for it in the States.

I was thrilled to find it and I basically said it’s mine, buy it for me. He called it a Valentine’s Day present. I said, “No it doesn’t count since I called it for myself.” And then I counted it for an anniversary present. See, I’m fair that way. 🙂

Scroll through our Blarney pictures to find out what this mystery present is. Can you guess?

IMG_2774 IMG_2775 IMG_2776 IMG_2777 IMG_2778 IMG_2779 IMG_2780 IMG_2781 IMG_2782

I took the photo below for you, Aunt Ann! 🙂 Here’s to the Murphy ancestors! I don’t know how I can ever find them though… with a name like Patrick Murphy! That’s probably the most common Irish name, ever.

IMG_2784 IMG_2785Ooh, aren’t these Irish sweaters pretty? (photo below) No, I didn’t get one of those…

IMG_2787

OK, this is it… THIS, I want THIS! (photo below)

IMG_2786  IMG_2788 IMG_2790

Happy Anniversary to me! Or Happy Valentine’s Day… whichever gets me the truffles! I like chocolate, I like whiskey. It’s a no brainer really. (These are already gone, by the way)

Nicholas took this picture of Brent and I (photo below). We’re squinting because it was a GLORIOUSLY sunny day. The sun is reflecting off my box of chocolates, creating a magical glow, which is how my eyes saw them even without the sun shining on them!

Natalie Buske Thomas with husband Brent Thomas 28th wedding anniversay in Ireland Feb 2016

IMG_2791 IMG_2792 IMG_2794 IMG_2795 IMG_2797 IMG_2798 Savannah bought a postcard to send to her friend Lucy. Yes, those are medical symbols on her tights. Savannah wants to be a nurse, specifically a midwife. At least that’s the plan at age fourteen… however she’s been saying this since she was twelve so it might be for keeps.

Ah, what a beautiful day in Blarney, Ireland! There was sunshine, flowers, and my family having fun. So we had to skip the castle, no biggie. We had a great time anyway. And wow, what a difference a year makes. This was where we stood last year: Valentine’s Day and Anniversary. Besides, someone got Irish Whiskey truffles. What could be better?

Posted on

Mallow and Grenagh

This is downtown Mallow, Ireland, a good sized town (or small city). It is located in Co. Cork.  I took these pictures in January and early February. This is the bank where I opened an Irish bank account after jumping through a few hoops. We’ve seen a lot of this building over the past couple of months. IMG_2560 IMG_25593Directly across from the bank are familiar golden arches (photo below). Yes, of course we had to try the Irish McDonald’s. It was quite good! It reminded me of McDonald’s in the 1980’s before the burgers became smaller and of questionable flavor/texture.  There are a few differences in the menu. For the holiday season they offered mince pie. But mostly, the Irish McDonald’s is the same fast food chain as the United States version. So, if we ever miss home too much, we can always go to McDonald’s and it’ll feel like we’ve never left… sort of. We’ll still have to pay in Euro and it’s a good thing that we’ve learned how to navigate the Irish accent. 🙂IMG_2558

Other shots of downtown Mallow:IMG_2557 IMG_2556My son Nicholas in the photo below, in downtown Mallow. He loves thrift shops and finds one in every town.

IMG_2756 IMG_2755 IMG_2754This church in Mallow is gorgeous (photo below). We walk by it every time we go to the bank.

IMG_2753 IMG_27524 5There are gates in front of the church. I wish I’d taken another photograph that shows the fence and gate. I’m sure I looked like a tourist taking these pictures, but I just had to share a picture of this beautiful church! The courtyard is so pretty… I’ll have to look later this spring to see if there are flowers in there.

IMG_2751 IMG_2750 IMG_2749 IMG_2748 IMG_2747I need to get a better photograph of this statue (in the photo below)… but it’s tricky to get a shot of it because it’s in the middle of a busy street.

IMG_2746

The Market Square (photo below) is on top of a hill. I forgot to take pictures that really show it off…. maybe next time! We enjoy that area. It’s a contemporary cobble stone type space with flower beds. There’s a coffee shop, a Dunnes Store (large department store + grocery), and a parking garage (we park there because parking is free – the street parking is paid parking and hard to squeeze into). We walk through the large stone gate and down to the city blocks below to do our banking and other errands. This is good exercise, especially when it’s time to go back UP.IMG_2745 IMG_2744 IMG_2743Here are some photos outside the village of Grenagh, in a rural area near our house:IMG_2543 IMG_2537 IMG_2536 IMG_2535 IMG_2534 IMG_2525 IMG_2524 IMG_2523IMG_2740 IMG_2739

My husband Brent in photo above… another rainbow in photo below. We see rainbows every week, double ones too!IMG_2738 IMG_2737 IMG_2736 IMG_2732 IMG_2730

Savannah likes to do rock art. She has an engraving pen that she uses to make designs on rocks. She was happy with some great finds on the boreen.IMG_2729 IMG_2728 IMG_2727 IMG_2726 IMG_2725 IMG_2723 IMG_2722 IMG_2721 IMG_2720 IMG_2719 IMG_2718
You never know when and where you’ll make friends here in Ireland. I was out taking pictures for oil painting inspiration and I ran into a couple of guys who are often working on the side of the road, clearing brush and cleaning up the area where one of them plans to build a house (currently there is an old shack on the land). They stopped me for a long chat. When Brent caught up to me, I turned the conversation over to them while I took the rest of my pictures. They were STILL talking about half an hour later!

1
Brent and his new friends… The guy in the middle is Timmy. The other day Brent took Savannah out to find a newspaper (the reason why will come up in a future blog post). Timmy flagged Brent down to talk to him. Savannah timed their conversation to exactly 45 minutes. Good thing she thought that Timmy was hilarious. It made the wait to get home worth it. 🙂

2More pictures of the road near our house:

IMG_2717 IMG_2716 IMG_2715 IMG_2714 IMG_2713 IMG_2712 IMG_2711 IMG_2697 IMG_2696 IMG_2695 IMG_2694 IMG_2693 IMG_2691 IMG_2690 IMG_2688 IMG_2687 IMG_2686 IMG_2685 IMG_2684 IMG_2683 IMG_2682 IMG_2681

I was trying to show you how tall these trees are.  To put this into scale, the weeds on the side of the road are almost as tall as I am.  This is the forest we live in. IMG_2680 IMG_2679 IMG_2678 IMG_2677 IMG_2676 IMG_2675 IMG_2674 IMG_2672 IMG_2671 IMG_2670 IMG_2669 IMG_2668

I was enchanted by flowers growing in the dead of winter!IMG_2667 IMG_2666 IMG_2665 IMG_2664 IMG_2663 IMG_2662 IMG_2661 IMG_2660 IMG_2659 IMG_2658 IMG_2657 IMG_2655