Ireland, Part One

We got to New York just fine and went out on the subway during our very long layover. We visited the 9/11 Memorial.

While we were out in the city, we got notification that our flight to Shannon was delayed 3 1/2 hours. The plane coming to the US never got off the ground due to technical issues. When we got back to the airport, it said the flight was on time. That seemed weird so Jamie went to the counter where a flight to Dublin was boarding to ask what was going on.

That’s when things went kind of crazy. Chances were, our flight would ultimately be cancelled (it was) so the guy at the counter (shout out to Emmanuel!) got us on the flight to Dublin that was boarding. He even got our luggage pulled and loaded on the flight to go with us. They rearranged some seating and got us in seats together. We buckled up and three minutes later pulled away from the gate.

I had ordered gluten free meals, but, of course, with how crazy and last minute that all was, that wasn’t transferred. The stewardess (shout out to Caroline!) bent over backwards trying to get me safe foods for my dinner. Crazily, it turned out that one of the people who didn’t show up for the flight had ordered gluten free, so when that was discovered, I got that person’s meals. So that was pretty cool.

We made it to Dublin, exhausted, before 5 in the morning and got nice little stamps in our passports allowing us to enter the country.

The restroom at the airport had a Tic Tac machine. Like, welcome to Ireland. You’ve been on a flight all night. Freshen up that breath before you go among our people.

Aer Lingus put us in a taxi to head toward Shannon where our flight was supposed to have ended up (shout out to the customer service guy we were too exhausted to get the name of). The driver was happy to drop us off in Adare, kind of meeting in the middle, where Jamie’s mum picked us up.

So that was all nuts, but we made it to Ireland on the day we had planned and the scenery (the second day, when we went to Tralee and did some shopping and caught Mr. Mime on Pokemon Go) made all the difficulties worth it.

The third day we went to the River Shannon.

We stopped at a random stone tower. There wasn’t much in the way of marking what it was. Pokemon Go to the rescue. Loghill Tower, a Protestant church that was partially torn down leaving the tower to provide a guide point for boats on the river (it’s a PokeStop).

We went to Askeaton where we looked at the castle ruins. It’s just amazing the way they’ve crumbled.

This gentleman, Anthony Sheehy, volunteers giving tours at the castle and friary. He’s pretty passionate about them both and super funny so he really made our time at the friary quite interesting. We learned a lot that without him we never would have known.




Every time we go in or out of Jamie’s mum’s garden, we have to walk through a lavender patch that always had adorable little bees hanging out on the flowers.

So that was Wednesday through Saturday.

Magical Magic Birthday

Today Fritz turned 11 on the 11th making it his magic birthday. We always try to make the magic birthday extra special for our kids and it looks like we totally succeeded with this one. Fritz said no day can be perfect, but today was almost perfect.


The 11th birthday is extra magical because, as JK Rowling taught us, that’s when kids learn they are a witch or wizard. Ever since Fritz read the Harry Potter series, he’s been hoping the magic world is real. For a while, there was an owl hanging around our house and he was pretty sure it was scouting out where we live for his upcoming birthday. Just like we did with Cameron almost 5 years ago, Fritz’s owl and letter were waiting for him when he woke up this morning.


He was so excited about his owl and letter. I was a little concerned beforehand that he might think it was real just because he wants magic to exist so badly. I needn’t have worried. He loves his owl. I hope when he’s about to turn 16, he’s still got it in a place of honor in his room just like his big brother and his owl.


Fritz got his big present a few weeks ago when he went to Houston for the Markiplier tour. Today we gave him his other present, a Harry Potter Pop Figure. He got a Dobby last year so his collection is growing.


We played a bit of Pokemon Go. Jamie, Fritz, and I joined together in a raid battle and all defeated, and then caught, a Muk (none of had one before today). We defeated a gym and hit a bunch of PokeStops, too.


We spent the day at The DoSeum. I was a little hesitant to go there, but Ani was bringing the girls she’s been nannying there today and convinced us to join them. I wasn’t sure there would be enough stuff to entertain kids as old as Fritz and Adrian. As it turned out, there was plenty for them to do. We visited every exhibit, but, honestly, we could’ve spent the entire time doing just one or two. The boys loved it and want to go back. In fact, we’re considering an annual pass because they loved it so much.


The first thing we did when we walked in was customize some fish using our phones and then added them to the virtual fish tank on the wall. Then we played in the wind tunnel and with some pulleys.


We spent a couple hours in the spy room. There were lots of activities to do. The first thing they had to do was complete specific activities in order to get an access code. Once they got the access code, they could make their spy badge and then do more activities in order to become a master spy. One section was set up like a room in a house with clues hidden all over the place. It was a lot like an escape room. Adrian thinks we ought to build a room like that in our house. He spent a really long time working on the clues in there.


The other exhibits inside included light, sound, color, and building activities. The kids really enjoyed playing with the green screen. Adrian was wearing a green shirt which made the green screen a little more fun. Fritz played with a green sheet to make himself disappear like he was under an invisibility cloak.


We went outside on one side and played in some water activities and climbed on a huge climbing set. It was hot today (in the very high 90s), but the humidity was low (less than 30%) so it wasn’t so bad out, especially in the shade.


Outside on the other side, we discovered a bamboo forest, and eco-pond, a treehouse with a fairy village underneath, and a fun little river to play in. The pond had quite a few red eared sliders in it so now we know just how big Ani’s hatchling, Venus, will get when she’s full grown (huge!).


After we left The DoSeum, we went to Big’z Burger Joint for dinner. They have some of the best burgers and we can get amazing gluten free buns there. Fritz was pretty much in heaven eating his burger.


We went to PetSmart partly because the boys love to watch the fish and partly because we needed to get a basking platform to go in Venus’s tank. We also got some ghost shrimp to help clean the tank/be food for the turtle (we also have minnows in there both to be fun to watch and also to be turtle food).


When we got home, we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’d been meaning to buy it since it came out on video (we saw it in the movie theater), but hadn’t gotten around to it. My procrastination came in handy because the digital version (we only buy movies/TV shows in digital) was on a great sale today for Prime Day.


So that was Fritz’s truly magical magic birthday. Adrian said Fritz’s birthday was way better than his own last month and I told him it’s because this was Fritz’s extra special 11 on the 11th birthday. So now Adrian is expecting a truly epic 19th birthday. Guess we better start planning!

We’re still playing


We’re still playing Pokemon Go. Pretty much every day Fritz and I go for a PokeWalk. We have three PokeStops and a gym within walking distance of our house. We hit the PokeStops and if we can take over/train up the gym (if we’re not already on it) we go there, too. Fritz really likes the time spent just him and me getting exercise (which he definitely needs) and talking one-on-one. Plus we’re playing a fun game at the same time. That’s a win-win if you ask me!


We love Pokemon Go

We’ve been playing Pokemon Go since a few days after it came out. We have so much fun PokeHunting all together. Sometimes we stay in the comfort of our van’s air conditioning (we do live in Texas after all), but sometimes we brave the heat and walk (gotta hatch those eggs).

Of course when we first started I apparently made a terrible mistake. I made it to level 5, went to a gym, and chose Team Instinct. I had apparently not gotten the memo that our family would all be Team Mystic. After some minor intense pressure from two of the kids in particular, I gave up my progress all the way to level 6 and started over completely. This time I went blue and one of my children who shall remain nameless actually hugged me and told me he loved me again. I’m up to level 15 now, and that child still loves me, so it’s all good.

On Fritz’s 10th birthday Cameron got his first lure module when he hit whatever level it is when you get one of those. It was like 10:30 at night, but the six of us loaded up in the van and headed to the church (our church, conveniently enough, is a PokeStop). On the way we picked up a friend and his teenage daughter. They had been out PokeHunting, but her phone died so they were walking home. We were prepared with charging cables and external batteries so they jumped in the van with us. We got to church and Cameron set off the lure.

Within minutes 30 people had showed up on foot and in cars. When our friend’s daughter learned it was Fritz’s birthday, she started singing Happy Birthday and all those random people joined in. We met a guy, a vet who fought over in the sand, named Adrian. That’s the first Adrian our Adrian had ever met. Adrian was a really nice fascinating guy. We still get happy when we see his username with a Pokemon defending a gym. Once the lure ended, we went next door to another church that is a gym. We worked together, along with Adrian, to take over and level up the gym. We never would’ve met Adrian if it wasn’t for Pokemon Go. We got home after midnight. Fritz said it was the best birthday ever, largely because of those memories we made late that night.

Ani and Cameron and a friend of theirs sat at the gym for a long time one night going back and forth with two girls, a set of twins, who are on Team Valor. In between the fighting, they chatted. They exchanged Instagrams and Snap Chats. Saturday Jamie and Ani went to Sonic and one of those twins brought their milkshakes out to them. That was fun because a friendship had already been made thanks to Pokemon Go.

The other evening we noticed the gym was easily beatable so we all headed over to battle. We took it over and then spent some time leveling it up to level 5 (Adrian doesn’t actually play since we only have 5 devices it works on, but he’s always with us when the rest of us are playing and sometimes we let him catch Pokemon on our phones). And then we all added a Pokemon. Jamie, Ani, Cameron, Fritz, and I each had a Pokemon defending that gym for a few hours. It was really cool having a family gym for a bit.

We were tipped off that the library is an especially fun place to play. There are 6 PokeStops and two gyms. Three of the Stops are right together and at least one pretty much always has a lure going. You can walk in a circle and hit all six Stops one after another and get some egg hatching time in at the same time. We’ve gone there several times (including just Jamie and me on a date). It’s so fun to watch the groups of people playing together. Friends, grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children. There’s a playground by the grouping of three Stops. Little children (including Adrian when we go there all together) run around playing happily together while their siblings and parents play Pokemon Go.

It’s not uncommon to see a child teaching their parent or grandparent how to play the game. Adrian is one of those children. He has been watching Pokemon for years and has an encyclopedia of knowledge in his brain. He can identify Pokemon by their outlines, he knows the evolutions of them all, and he can tell us which to use in battle since he knows what type each is and what fights what best. It’s so neat to see the adults really listening to what the children have to say as the child becomes the teacher.

Pokemon Go is a silly game. On the surface, it’s nothing more than a distraction. But from what I’ve seen, it’s also seriously awesome. I’ve heard of people losing weight from walking around hatching eggs. I’ve heard of parents connecting with teens in ways they were unable to before. I’ve heard of so many people making friends with people they’d never have met otherwise. There’s a camaraderie to playing a game so many others are.

Of course I’ve also heard of the dire warnings about how dangerous Pokemon Go could be. Well, life in general can be dangerous (and the number of people using the game for nefarious purposes is minuscule compared to the number playing). What it comes down to is if a silly game is giving families – mine included – and even random strangers a reason to spend time together talking and laughing, I’m in.