I’ve been working like crazy on lesson plans for next school year. I’ve got almost everything printed. My parents brought an awesome GBC binder with them so the workbooks are nicely bound and waiting in the utility carts I got for the boys (red for Cameron, blue for Fritz, and sand for Adrian).
I’ve got ten of the twenty year three Layers of Learning units all planned and I’m working on the last book that I need to pre-read for unit 10. The printables for the first ten units all ready in the filing cabinet. I’ve got lists of supplies I need to get/assemble still.
I’m on a bit of a time crunch, though. In a month Jamie and I will arrive in Ireland to visit his mum. We’ll get back the weekend before school starts so I want to have everything for school as ready as possible before we leave.
The second two weeks of school we learned about Ireland using Layers of Learning, year 2 unit 2. Since the kids have a grandmother living in Ireland, it’s a place they hear about a lot. Cameron remembers a lot about the month we spent there in 2013. Fritz and Adrian have vague memories of it.
We found places, including their Nan’s house, on the map of Ireland.
We looked through the book I made of pictures from our trip to Ireland.
We watched a video of a Riverdance performance.
We learned about the Aran Islands and watched a video about them.
We had a feast of Irish stew, Irish flag veggies, and (gluten free) soda bread.
We learned about the annual Puck Festival.
The boys each learned about a famous Irish person and taught what they learned to their brothers. (Cameron chose John B. Cosgrave, Fritz picked Jonathan Swift, and Adrian learned about Ernest Shackleton.)
We’ve made it to yet another year. This year Ani will turn 17(!) in February, Cameron 16 in October, Fritz 11 in July, and Adrian will be 9 in June. I will be 39 in April, Jamie will turn 42 in November, and we will celebrate 19 years of marriage in June.
In the fall, Cameron will start 10th grade, Fritz will begin 6th (middle school!), and Adrian will be in 4th grade. Ani will graduate in June. Hopefully, she’ll be healthy enough by the fall to take at least some on-line college classes.
Cameron will test for his second degree black belt in June and with any luck (and some better health) Ani will test for hers in December.
Ani will be seeing an endocrinologist the end of this month. We’re really hoping for some good, solid answers, a diagnosis, and a plan for treating whatever the heck is wrong with her.
Jamie and I are planning a trip to visit his mom in Ireland at some point this year. It’s been almost four years since we’ve seen her in person. If all goes well, my parents will finally sell their house and move in with us… in 6 months to a year (it’s always 6 months to a year).
During Family Home Evening last night, we all set some goals for the new year.
Jamie: Grow food we regularly eat rather than what he things sounds cool
Me: Tell the kids what chores I want them to do rather than expect them to notice things that need to get done and get annoyed when they don’t notice or do it
Ani: Get diagnosed with what is wrong with her
Cameron: Do more stop motion animation
Fritz: Play with the sugar gliders more often
Adrian: Start a YouTube channel
Maddie, an almost 17-year-old who collects mothers because hers passed away and spends a lot of time at our house: Get a job
Whole Family (Maddie came up with this one): Go on a family date every other month
Between the things we know are going to happen and the goals we’ve set, it’s going to be a great year!
And here we have the last installment of our trip to Ireland. We left ridiculously early on March 19th from BWI airport on a little JetBlue airplane.
When we arrived in New York City, the pilot let the kids check out the cockpit.
We had a 9 hour layover before our flight was to leave for Ireland. We ventured out to the subway and found a nice pizza place to have lunch. Then we headed to Central Park. I have always wanted to go to Central Park. I just imagined going there when it was a little warmer and no snow on the ground. We spent a few hours finding places where the Doctor Who episode Angels Take Manhattan was filmed.
We arrived in Ireland very, very early in the morning. I didn’t have the energy or brainpower to take pictures of the band and dancers who greeted us at Shannon Airport.
We spent the month (minus short trips to Dublin and Cork and a week in Clare) with Jamie’s mom. Jamie’s parents moved to Ireland when Cameron was a baby. This was the first time Fritz and Adrian ever saw their “Man” (Nan) outside of a computer screen (Jamie’s dad died while I was pregnant with Fritz).
On April 18th we headed back to the US. This time our layover in New York was a much more reasonable two hours.
We went to Tralee is County Kerry on April 16th. First, we went to the Kerry County Museum. They had a section on the history of Kerry with lots of things to look at and touch.
Downstairs is a sandbox kids (and adults) can dig in to find the bones and things that are buried in it.
Ani really enjoyed the archaeology exhibits.
There is a walk-through re-creation of a medieval village including all the sights, sounds, and smells (yes, smells.. including sewage running through the street) that would have been typical of the time.
After we left the museum, we walked to an incredible candy store. Wall to wall European candy (plus a small section of ridiculously expensive imported American candy). Among other things, we got Black Death, balls of the sourest candy you have ever tasted (think warheads, but 100 times more sour). Two of these things could burn your tongue. And so we all tried them with varying reactions. My salivary glands hurt just thinking about the one I ate!
Then we went to the the Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre. This included an exhibit about the animals and birds that live in the area as well as a boat trip around the wetlands out back.
Our tour guide had certainly made an excellent career choice. He was downright excited about everything having to do with the wetlands.
Before we left, Jamie, Ani, Cameron, Fritz, and Adrian went out in the pond in front of the centre in a paddle boat. Ani started out as one of the paddlers (along with Cameron), but after one trip around switched places with Jamie.
When Jamie was little, his family lived in Wales and he has fond memories of playing in tide pools (turns out… he still enjoys it). So, on April 12th we headed to the rocky beach at Kilkee. It was pretty chilly that day, unlike when we went to Ballybunion, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Not far from the beach are huge rocks out in the water. The tide was coming in while we were there and it was just beautiful to watch the water crashing into them.
We visited three playgrounds while we were in Ireland, too. One in Ennis, one at Blarney Castle, and one in Abbeyfeale.
The very old churches and monasteries and abbeys that have been turned into burial grounds absolutely fascinated me. I wanted to stop at all of them, but eventually the kids insisted I had seen enough. They were probably right.
I don’t know what this place is called, but it’s a very old church not far from the Cliffs of Moher. Many of the gravestones were so old they were unreadable. It’s right on water and the closer you get to the water (and outside the church grounds), the newer the graves. Inside the church appeared to be the oldest ones.
(The slightly different colored slabs on the floor mark graves.)