Sunday, December 29, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
This Christmas felt different from all the past Christmas' because the people don't celebrate it here. There are no decorations, nor crazy shopping in stores and malls.
The few days prior and day itself felt more centered around it's true meaning and less about the superficial which was a nice change. Instead of worrying and stressing about having the "perfect Christmas", having the house all decorated, and what will be the perfect gift for so and so, or dinner has to be just right, and treats to drop off at neighbors.... I/ we focused more on each other and the reason behind the celebration. It felt more relaxing and calm.
Of course there were gifts! I had done some shopping before leaving the States, and my friend Nicole let us borrow their tree since they were leaving for the holidays.
It was Eden's first Christmas!
Kiki just had to try out his car!
One of my absolute favorite things about Christmas morning
is seeing the kids faces as they tear the wrapping paper!
Thank you Mami for Kiki's favorite gifts of all, her doctor case!
And Thank you Auntie Maruia for the lab coat!
After opening all the gifts we headed to the health clinic to do our medical for our iquamas.
Kiki insisted on bringing her coat and doctor case. All the nurses and doctors thought she was so cute walking around the clinic. When it was time for her to get her blood drawn however, she no longer wanted to be a doctor. Kicking and screaming all over the place!
I guess it is more fun to play pretend!
Princesses princesses princesses
Eden hanging out while everybody is opening gifts
Logan got an flying sphere from mani and papi,
legos and a razor scooter!
He was a very very happy boy!
Julien got several legos and some Jaseboards gear and helmet for his new
Jaseboard long board thanks to Uncle T!
I didn't have time to get Jon anything so wrapped up some magnets I got him for his office and extra ram he had bought himself for his computer.
My mom got him a BYU money clip!
just what he wanted
Elberskiver pan and cook book for me! I love it!
I have already used it 3 times to make some yummy treats!
Audrey and Joey got us a very cool game called Headbanz.
We had fun playing it! It is actually kind of hard!
Saturday, December 21, 2013
We left our hotel very early Wednesday morning (like 4 am) to catch our first plane. It took them so long to board that we set up camp and the boys played card games.
Etihad Airlines had some pretty yummy kids meals for Kiki and Logan. They loved them.
It was a long long trip. We arrived that night around 11:00pm and had to go through security and get registered (that took a few hours). Eden was crying and hungry and he only wanted his mommy, Kiki was tired, ornery, crying only wanted her mommy, Julien and Logan were tired too, Jon and I were both exhausted and there we were waiting to get discharged. THAT WAS TOUGH!!!!!
Home sweet home! We arrived home around 1 or 2 am. All the kids were asleep and Jon and I were pretty beat too. My good friend Nicole and her husband were waiting for us in front of our house. She was so excited for us to get there, and us to see them again. They helped us unloaded the car and then we went straight to bed.
My awesome friends Nicole and Stacy had decorated our door and had a few groceries and water waiting for us.
After unpacking our suitcases, and a quick shower we were off to the store (Lulu's) to stock up our pantries and out for lunch for shawarmas (a wrap made with flat bread filled bbq-ed meats, vegetables, hummus/ garlic mayo....whatever you like).
Jon had been talking about shawarmas ever since he got there
so I was very eager to try one, and indeed it is delicious.
The next day Jon and I loaded up the BOB with Kiki and Eden and took a walk to Hyper Panda (another grocery store not too far from the compound) while Julien and Logan were free to play in the clubhouse and ride bikes! More freedom then they have ever had!
Thursday, December 19, 2013
After many months of waiting and waiting. After soon, not now, and maybe's, the time for us to be reunited as a family once again arrived. Jon and I both agreed that having him come back to the states to pick me up just to turn around and leave again was not the best option (too much money, too much wasted vacation time, too much traveling for such amount of time. And having me travel alone across the world (25hrs) with 4 kids was well.....not fathomable! So we decided on meeting half way! And Ireland seemed like the best option!
Flying to Dublin:
1 adult + 12 year old + 10 year old + 3 year old + 3 months old + 2 car seats + a jumbo double stroller + 6 carry on's (including 2 laptops, 1 ipad, 2 kindles, 2 nintendo DS, 1 portable DVD player, and a new iphone 5) = MUCH STRESS!!!!!!
I was so worried about loosing something including one of my children, I broke out into rashes and must have lost about 5 lbs the week prior to leaving.
The kids did really good on both flights. Julien and Logan were the biggest helpers. It was great to see them step up and do what I asked without complaining.
Before departure the desk attendant at United reserved a cart to help me make my connection in Chicago since I had to change terminals.
After leaving from Salt Lake City with 45 minutes delay I felt relieved to know that someone would be there waiting for me make my second flight with now only 1 hr 15 minutes to spare. Upon arrival I was thrilled to see the big cart in front of my terminal. Ticket in hand I approached the driver and told him how thankful I was for him meeting me here. He looked at me with eyes as big as softballs it seemed and said OH NO! I CANNOT TAKE CHILDREN!!!!!
That is when I started panicking! I went to a terminal attendant to see if she could help me solve the problem. Needless to say that after waiting 30 minutes yap 30 minutes meaning I had less than 45 minutes to walk to my new terminal, get new boarding passes, go thru security AGAIN, and walk to my gate with 12 year old + 10 year old + 3 year old + 3 months old + 2 car seats + a jumbo double stroller + 6 carry on's (including 2 laptops, 1 ipad, 2 kindles, 2 nintendo DS, 1 portable DVD player, and a new iphone 5, I decided to just go because I knew she could do nothing to help me. With now tears in my eyes, I strapped everything on, loaded up the stroller, and started running.
Well if you have ever been in the Chicago airport you know it is big. I landed in terminal 1 and had to get to terminal 5. It was a 25 minute run to the train, than about a 8 minute train ride to terminal 5. Boarding pass in hand I impatiently waited to go through security again. After explaining to a security guard my situation, she kindly put me in the front of the line. I had never gone through security that fast in my life. Everybody around me was helping me. People I didn't even know were helping, unloading my bags, holding children, taking off coats, unloading car seats... With 5 minutes left before departure the kids and I started running once again to our gate. As I got close to the door I started yelling HEY! Wait! Wait for us!!!! lol! I felt so stupid. But we made it!
Even though it was stressful and full of anxiety, God was there every step of the way sending people to help me, reassure me and keep hope in me all along the way. It truly was a testament that he is there, that he listens to our prayers, and helps us in time of need.
We were all excited to fly and finally meet up with Jon!
Day 1 (Sunday):
After not seeing Jon (besides facetimes) for more than 2 months! I felt a big load falling off my shoulder, and a great sense of relief. I was so happy!!! And so were the kids of course!
Kiki pooped out from the long long day of traveling!
The first day/ night we stayed in a hotel in Dublin called Bewley's.
Kiki so happy to spend time with her daddy!
Boys catching up on the pasts couple of months.
Even Eden got some daddy time!
We were all so tired that we just stayed in the hotel ALL DAY LONG,
and ordered room service for dinner.
Jon brought back gifts for everyone!
For Logan a soccer jersey from Saudi Arabia, Julien some scented oil in a nice Bedouin knife sheath, Kia Ora a Rainbow Rash sweatshirt, and for me a nice set of earrings, a shemagh and my abaya (borrowed from my dear friend Nicole).
Traveling is exhausting even if you slept the whole way!
Wheel and the right, drive on the left! Jon did an amazing job driving in Ireland. We rented a beast of a van (11 passenger van)! All the odds were against him wheel on the right, drive on the left, manual, huge van, narrow streets, country/ roads you don't know... and he managed to drive us around just fine with no more than just a few U turns for going the wrong way. Way to go babe!
Pretty church on our way out of Dublin!
Once we got out of the city we stopped at Lidl (a store I was used to since they have some in France) to stock up on water, food, and snacks. We did not want to go out to eat 3 meals a day for 10 days!
My honey and me!
Oh, I forgot to mention that we managed to have only lost one thing during the trip, sadly and luckily, it was only my winter coat (which I had for close to 10 years, which I loved very much, which cost me less than 30$ at ROSS), so we had to stop by a store on the side of the road and get me a new one.
It is way pretty but cost way more than I would have spent on a peace of clothing EVER!!!
But I needed one, and fast because Ireland was a bit chilly!
We decided not to stay in Dublin, but do a loop toward the West than South of Ireland.
Our first stop was a cute B&B in Bunratty, by Limerick.
Outing in Limerick
We headed to Limerick to visit St John's Castle. On our walk to the castle we stopped by an old Protestant church to visit and explore. It was very pretty.
This pretty building is no longer used for service, but for storage.
The grounds keeper let us go in and have a peek inside. It was very beautiful!
Jon and me
Bob (our jumbo double stroller) was so handy during the trip!
St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick
The boys were amazed to see how old the bible was
St John's Castle was very very cool, especially for kids. It was very instructive and interactive. They had many hands on things for them to do to understand more about the life and history of the castle.
Arch way and keystone building blocks!
It was a wonderful teaching moment! ;)
Kiki was so funny, she would pick up the phones
to hear the pre-recorded messages and talk back to it.
Eden and me!
The castle had shields, weapons, and helmets for the kids to pick up and play with.
There were even magnets to decorate shields with.
Most of them anyway!
After our visit at the castle we headed into the city center for some dinner.
We came into this cute little family owned for the past 55 years place called Mortell's.
The owner Brian and his wife Maggie welcomed us with open arms. They were so nice and friendly. Brian turned to each of us and asked us what we wanted to eat (mostly fish)!
He than headed behind the counter, showed the kids how to prepare fish and cooked it for us on the spot. He prepared 4 different kinds of fish for us.
Once our food was prepared and table was set. Maggie took the baby and said to me: "You eat!"
He was happy and content! It was a nice break for me and I was able to enjoy the fabulous food!
Even when customers came in, she took Eden behind the counter and was serving up and ringing people up. It was very cool to experience that. We really felt like their friends even if we had only spent an hr or two talking.
If you ever are in Limerick, you must go for a bite there! It is wonderful!
49 Roches street
Jon and Kiki relaxing on the massage chairs in the hallway of our bed and breakfast.
Eden chilling out on me after a long day!
Cliffs of Moher
Every morning of our stay in Ireland we had a traditional Irish breakfast, which is bacon (some of the best bacon I have ever had in my life), sausage, eggs, black or white putting (like a sausage meatloaf), grilled tomatoes, and mushrooms.
We also had toast, fruits, yogurts, cereal... the usual breakfast stuff.
Julien was too cute. The entire trip he kept calling B&B's breakfast in bed.
He kept saying something to the affect of: "So where is our next breakfast in bed at?"
On day four we wanted to explore the west coast. On of the most talked about attractions on the west coast of Ireland was the Cliffs of Moher, so we decided to check them out. On our way there we stopped of at Lanich which is apparently a pretty popular spot to surf at.
Julien and Logan hiking up the hill to see the ocean.
The grass was so soft.
Lanich beach! It was beautiful! There were a few surfers there.
We than headed to Doolin to see if we could catch a ferry around the coast to see the cliffs. Doolin was a very very small town. It wasn't even a town, more like a village. A very cute village. There was only one main road which took you to the shore. The only place open was a pub, and since we all had to use the restroom, we headed to the pub for a quick bathroom break!
The Pub in Doolin!
The Cliffs of Moher!
The cliffs were so beautiful!
Julien and Logan raised to O'Brien's Tower and back to dispense some energy.
Well when one's ears are cold, they will usually pull out a hat...
NOT JON!!!! He grabs his bandana!
3D movie of the cliffs
Jon really wanted a family picture with rolling hills in the background.
This picture was the best. When Jon looked at the picture after taking it he said to me:
"That's a good one! WOW I look REALLY happy in this picture!" LOL!
Funny faces from Mr. Eden!
On our way back from the cliffs we decided to visit the castle situated across the road we were staying at, Bunratty Castle. It was very fun to visit. A lot of the rooms still had artifacts and objects from the time period.
Kissing my little angel while the rest of the crew is exploring the castle grounds
Jon and me as King and Queen at our dinner table!
And Kiki and her daddy of course as King with his princess!
After visiting the castle we headed to a reenactment village.
The kids had fun going from house to house looking at how they were arranged. During tourist season, there are people showing you how to make butter, milk cows....
Kiki, Logan, and even Julien had fun chasing after the chickens
Logan sweeping up Mrs. Claus' house
Petting the wolf hounds
Meeting Mr Scrooge
The fam minus Eden and me in front of the village
After our long long day we stopped at Dirty Nelly's, a very popular pub across from Bunratty Castle.
Dirty Nelly's was cool! It seemed like you were walking right in the prancing pony from the Lord of the Rings movie. The pub itself was in the basement,
the main lighting in the dining area were candles.
The food was DELICIOUS!
Here is a picture of us with our host Dolores in front of the B&B we stayed at,
Bunratty Castle Mew's Bed and Breakfast!
She was a wonderful host. She was so friendly and kind. She truly made us feel at home.
She even did my laundry, pressed, and folded at no cost!!!!!!
She was awesome! In fact, we enjoyed Bunratty and our B&B so much that we decided to stay longer than anticipated. Our host was thrilled.
Drive to Killarney
On the fifth day, we headed south to Killarney. It was a beautiful drive down where we saw many castle ruins, churches, cathedrals, rolling hills, and many many sheep.
Ring of Kerry
If you google Ireland top things to do, the Ring of Kerry will appear in the top 5 every time. So we decided to go on a 6 hr bus tour along the Ring of Kerry to see some of the best scenery Ireland has to offer.
Our first stop was The Bog Village.
The black stuff in the hand cart is called peat. It is what the people used to burn in the chimneys.
Winn's Castle Ruins
Apparently this castle was built and never lived it.
The cost it took to build it ruined the town.
Cat Nap for Eden!
Jon along the gorgeous shore line of the Ring of Kerry.
Kiki enjoying a nice little treat!
Ireland has a lot of castle. It seemed like there was a castle, fortress or tower every mile while we were driving. And not just on the ring of kerry, during our entire stay in Ireland.
I guess Charlie Chaplin's family had a vacation home in Waterville. A town along the ring of kerry.
'Tas a windy day but we got out of the bus for a quick family pic by the sea.
Julien in front the Valley of the Hidden Treasure
The rocky shore line reminded me a lot of Brittany, France, where my dad is from.
Logan found a hobbit hole!
I love this picture of my stud of a hub!
Julien at Lady's View!
Kiki loving her brother
After putting Kiki to bed, I sneaked up the the boys room with Eden to see what they were up to and talk about there day. I laid Eden down between Julien and Logan and could not resist doing a little photoshoot with them. They are sooooo cute!
Cork and Blarney's Castle
The kids in front of the dungeon entrance!
Julien and Logan standing below the Blaney Stone, The Stone of Eloquence!
The stone is the keystone at the top of the tower. The one with the opening.
It is said that if you kiss the stone, you will be gifted with the gift of eloquence!
Julien learned about it in school and wanted to kiss the stone.
Blarney's Castle grounds had a Poison Garden with actual poisonous plants.
It was a good time for a history lesson on why a medieval castle would have a poisonous garden.
Back home (at our B&B) Eden enjoyed a quick bath!
Day eight was Sunday, so we headed to church in Cork. We only made it to Sacrament Meeting not knowing they ended the meeting with Sacrament.
After church we headed to Cobh to visit the last Titanic port of call.
Each of us got tickets to board "boat".
I guess the tickets looked identical to the ones given on the Titanic
What is left of the dock
Puzzle of the iceberg
After visiting the exhibit we headed to the Titanic Bar for some dinner.
YUM! Loved that mushroom, steak and pepper sauce sandwich!
Jon and Me
Jon and Eden out like a log
Drive to Dublin, quick stop at Kilkenny Castle.
On our way back to Dublin, we decided to stop by this very cool medieval castle. It doesn't look much like a medieval castle anymore because the family that lived in it owned it for nearly 500 years and made many changes and upgrades to the castle to make it look more like a "chateau" and less like a fortress. The walls of the castle were more than 6 feet thick! That is a seriously strong fortress!
This door was the servants door, the stairs dropped down into the ditch surrounding the castle.
I just LOVE his sweet face!
The last two nights of our stay we stayed in Clontarf Castle.
That was way cool! We were all excited to stay there.
My name was on the phone! I had never seen that before!
All tucked in, ready for bed!
Breakfast at Clontarf
We starting out our day with a little photoshoot in the castle (to be used for our Christmas cards). Than headed downtown for some sight seeing.
Our Dashingly Good Looking Julien
Our Handsome Logan
Our Gorgeous Princess Kia Ora
And Our Sweet Little Angel Eden
Loves of my life!
Eden and Me!
I love this picture because it is such a good one of Eden!
He is looking straight into the camera.
Us at our best!
Enjoying a nice walk downtown admiring the beautiful architecture of Dublin.
Before heading back to the hotel we stopped off for some linner as Jon calls it (lunch/dinner)
at "The Church". A catholic church building turned into a restaurant.
Yet again the food was amazing!
The following morning we woke up bright and early (3:45am) and headed to the airport for our next adventure in Saudi Arabia!