What I’m…

Doing: 

  • Just working. Surely it’s the end of the school year by now, right?
  • Halloween prep including finding a costume for Rolo, putting school events in my calendar so I don’t forget, and holding a pumpkin at odd angles so Rolo could execute her vision for the school’s Spooky Pumpkin Painting Contest.
  • Visiting with family! Sergio’s parents came to visit and while the Balloon Fiesta did not quite achieve liftoff on the day we attended (wind), we still had a nice visit. Sergio and his dad fixed the light fixture for the guest bathroom, so that has been an excellent development.

Watching: 

  • Designing Women on Hulu. I loved this show as a kid. When it never streamed over the years, I worried that it didn’t hold up well. Turns out, it mostly does with just a few exceptions. I still love a good Julia diatribe.
  • Did I ever come back and offer an opinion on the V. Mars reboot after the last “What I’m” update? No? Well, I’ve never felt more let down by a show and frankly, betrayed as a loyal fan. I will not be watching if it comes back again, but I wish the cast the best in all future endeavors (but NOT the creator). I would expand on my opinions, but I know I am taking it all too personally, so I better stop while I am ahead.
  • Stumptown
  • Starting up the Halloween movie marathon with Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. Oh! I haven’t watched the latter since I first saw it because I remember feeling really sad about it. Rolo LOVES Tim Burton movies, so we decided this was the year to give it another go. Yup, she fully snot-sobbed for a half hour afterward because she found the story/ending so sad. So….I was right. Too sad.

Eating and Drinking: 

  • Momofuku Eggs in our lunches except Sergio alters the recipe slightly. He replaces the sherry vinegar with Mirin, and it’s yummy!
  • I have had an Apple Whisky/Honey/Lemon toddy almost every day for a couple of weeks. I don’t know if I am always on the verge of a cold, or talking too much at work, or something else entirely, but I have been fighting a chronic sore throat and the constant threat of losing my voice.

Reading:

Listening to:

  • Well, nothing new yet, but I plan to listen to the Office Ladies Podcast with Rosalind and Sergio soon.
  • Rosalind practicing the trumpet. Rosalind making up a lot of lyrics to songs. Etc.
  • Sweet, blissful silence when the opportunity arises.

Birthday Fun

Last weekend was Sergio’s birthday, and we celebrated in a couple of ways. Nothing crazy because we are old and sleepy, but we still had a fun weekend. First, I found that there was a New Mexico United soccer game happening on the Friday evening before his birthday, so I bought tickets. This was a bit chancy because Sergio doesn’t enjoy activities that are overly hot, and as a family, we often go to bed around the time Friday evening activities begin. We managed to get our old, sleepy selves out there anyway, and we had a great time. I think it was Rosalind’s first semi-professional sporting event of any kind, so it was completely novel to her to attend a stadium event full of loud noises, snacks, flags, and cheers. Sergio and I were enamored of the food stall options, in particular, the Chamoy and lime juice doused duros. YUM! It is nice to live in a city with a strong cultural identity. Somos Unidos!

(I feel the pictures might be confusing if you don’t know that our stadium/minor league baseball team were named Isotopes after the fictional team name in The Simpsons cartoon. We were like, “Hey, that’s our history and industry! Let’s actually use it!” I think that’s adorable.)

The game was fun to watch too, of course, but after a great start, our team lost by a bit. We managed to be back home by 10:30 and we somehow still had to sit on the couch doing nothing all of Saturday in order to recover from our late night. Old. Sleepy.

On Sunday, we decided to drive out to Jemez Springs to check out a new-to-us part of New Mexico. We’ve always heard we should camp there because of the easy proximity to Abq, and because it has water. Water fun is a little hard to come by around here, so it was nice to go hunting for springs and rivers for a day. We’ll definitely be going back to hike and camp some more.

Rolo and I bought Sergio a Gimbal for his birthday which is a camera stabilizer. We tested it out during our hike. The below video was me messing around to edit the Gimbal videos together. I clearly could not remember how to cut the videos down, so don’t judge the quality, but DO notice how stable the videos are!

Happy birthday to all my favorite September peeps! Let’s not forget this special guy that turned FIFTEEN sometime over the last few weeks. He got a fresh haircut to celebrate.

(Pretty sure he is the actual definition of old and sleepy, but other than a new talent of farting every time he coughs or sneezes, he is in better health than he was two years ago! New Mexico has been kind to him.)

Just Add Mud

After accomplishing the half-marathon, we wanted to find another race to keep us from going completely stagnant. This race, though, needed to be shorter. Significantly so. We also hoped for a little FUN this time around as well. So that’s the story of how the entire Barron clan signed up for The Dirty Dash back in August, Rolo included.

I know you’ve seen the pictures of these, but it’s a 5k with mud pits, bouncy castles, slides, and obstacles along the way. And yes, we paid good money to throw ourselves into cold, muddy water repeatedly while also completing other obstacles. We 100% recommend that you do as well! It was the MOST fun! Rosalind told us that this will be her new sport, and was legit upset to find the course coming to an end. Luckily, they provide a giant bouncy castle slide into a final mud pit as the very last activity, so she rallied.

Things that our run included: multiple knee-deep mud pits in which we (mostly me and Rolo) frequently fell, short walls that we heaved ourselves up and over, walls that require the aid of climbing a rope, crawling through tunnels of mud, crawling under fake barbed wire in mud, flinging ourselves over multiple…ugh…inflated and slippery obstacle things (I slid to the ground HARD on this one), running and sliding down long slip n slide-type slides, going down a really big inflated slide, being shot with powerful water guns, being hit with water explosions, a foam pit, and MORE! Maybe not more. I can’t really remember everything because I’ve taken so long to get around to this post. All I know is that just when you started realizing you were in the middle of a three mile run, a fun obstacle would come along and distract you! It’s a good way to run.

We did not take our cameras into the mud run because we didn’t trust the plastic baggy method of keeping our devices safe. We went ahead and purchased a few from the event organizers though, so you can still get some idea of our day.

We can’t offer any actual advice on doing a mud run, really, because we are novices, but here goes anyway. I thought duct-taping my shoes felt really good, but Sergio didn’t do his and said his shoes felt secure anyway. Wear your old shoes! Maybe don’t wear your glasses if contacts are an option? Take a bag for your dirty clothes that is easily thrown away or washed. Absolutely do it with a group because running as a family was so much more fun than just running that race solo would be!

 

Burn Zozobra!

The Labor Day weekend gave us the opportunity to try for a little teensy vacation. Our first thoughts turned toward camping, but we found that most campsites were first come/first served. It was hard to get all organized for camping when we didn’t even know if we would find an available campsite. Sergio saved the day when he realized that it was Las Fiestas de Santa Fe time again! In fact, it was time to BURN ZOZOBRA!

So what is that? Well, it’s a festival involving a 50 foot puppet representing Old Man Gloom that gets spectacularly burnt to the ground. After a party, of course. He’s quite literally filled with gloom. You can submit your gloom online and in locations around Santa Fe leading up to the festival. They print them up, stuff them in there, and then your gloom burns up! This was the 95th year of burning Zozobra. They really seem to have it down to a science. He eventually collapsed so precisely.

We had the best time. The weather was gorgeous after nightfall. Rosalind danced her little heart out to the band, we had excellent food from the Jamba food truck, there was a massive beach ball mosh pit sort of thing, the actual show and burning of Zozobra, and finally, a fireworks show. Our photos and videos probably do more to express an understanding of this event than my words can, but it was a surprisingly moving experience. I think because it felt so very New Mexican. I can’t even really explain it, but it just felt very unique. I think there is also something to the ancient practice of gathering as a community to burn something in effigy. People have always had a soft spot for that activity, if not always for such wholesome reasons. Definitely makes you feel part of something.

I was a little worried at first that I would feel bad about burning the big puppet because he is really a work of art. It didn’t help that our little station by the band stage was exactly where he spent all of this time looking straight at me with sad eyes. In the end, you get into the spirit pretty well though.

Santa Fe pretty much doubles in size for this event, but we were able to get to and from the park with relative ease. We spent the night at a hotel and had excellent pastries the next morning before returning home. We spent the remainder of the three day weekend just doing normal weekend stuff. I think this is how I will approach three day weekends from now on. Go out of town the first night, get home before lunch on Saturday and have a long weekend still in front of you. It felt so much more luxurious than a normal three day weekend!

I know September is a rough time to travel very far, but if you want to spend a long Labor Day weekend with us in the future, Zozobra is a unique and fun time to visit!

Summer Trip Wrap Up

So there were actually two additional legs to our summer trip that deserve at least a quick revisit if only for ONE MAJOR thing we finally got to do. After Ireland, we flew back to London for another couple of nights. It was really only enough time to have a couple of good meals, a tiny bit of sightseeing, and a visit to the West End.

If you were spying on my family on a random Saturday about four years ago, you would have seen us sitting quietly in our car in the Sam’s Club parking lot in Fairbanks, AK. We would have sat there a suspiciously long time and you might have wondered why. Well, we were finishing our first ever listen to the Hamilton cast album. Pretty much since that moment, we have been waiting to see the play in person. I’m not overstating when I say our family (and pretty much everyone, I know we aren’t unique) LOVES this musical. Rolo was going around at six years old singing every line of the songs, and we would proudly grin even as she sang the parts that are entirely inappropriate for a six year old. You can imagine our joy when the London show kept extending the run dates until it finally matched our trip. We snatched up tickets as quickly as we could and even then they were flying out from under us while we futzed with the international address in our phones while paying.

We ended up at an evening performance and sat on the second row a little off to the right. We made regular eye contact with the performers and were ideally situated to SEE them spit without having to FEEL them do so. It was exciting. I hope to see it again one day from another vantage point just to experience it in a variety of ways, but our seats certainly gave us an even more memorable time. It, of course, did not disappoint. I know a lot of people cry at later points in the show, but I’ve had years to steal myself against that part of the story. I was surprised, however, to find myself tearing up at the very first song from sheer excitement at finally being there and taking Rolo to her first real show.

Now that Hamilton is traveling, be sure to see it when it comes near enough to you. It’s so good.

The other bit of time in London allowed us to finally go to the Harrod’s Food Hall. I don’t know how I’ve missed this area on previous trips, but going here was new for all of us. We also took Rolo through the toy store portion later. The food hall is amazing to look at, but we found ourselves a little confused about how to enjoy the food. We finally decided to get a bunch of pastries from the bakery section, leave the building, grab coffee at a Starbucks down the street, and then plop ourselves across the road at Hyde Park. This turned into the sweetest little outing when we were visited by pretty much every fowl in the vicinity, and then got to watch the, I dunno, cavalry drill their horses before returning to Harrods.

The other thing I should mention is that we got a cronut to split because that’s another thing that just doesn’t make it to any neck of the woods we’ve chosen to live in for the last five years. I would love to say that the cronut is overhyped, but the one we got from Harrods haunts me. It was so. damn. good. I can’t think of anything to compare it to. You should know that I’m not even a pastry person, and I still have to rave about this thing. Take all the best parts of the best pastries you’ve ever had, and it was that cronut. I have to take a moment right here and just think about it.

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Okay. I’m back. We also ate at this little dumpling and noodle shop. Completely wonderful. Just be warned that their hours are subject to change with no warning if they run out of food. Ask us how we know. Yeah, it took us two tries to eat here, but I’m glad we made the extra effort to go back.

Then we were back in LA for a couple of days. We stayed nowhere special on this last leg, opting instead to be near the airport. We took an extremely long Lyft, ate some In N Out, and let Rolo have a good time in the Pacific Ocean. This kid played in both the Atlantic and Pacific in under three weeks and didn’t mind the cold a bit. You need only observe my beach outfit to see that she and I were not of the same mind about the weather.

And that pretty much wraps up the summer trip! I’ll try to get back soon to tell you how the three of us paid good money to voluntarily run through a lot of cold mud and obstacles a couple of weeks ago!

Here We Go

It’s the first day back at school for the Barron family. Here is our newly-minted 5th grader.

She biked herself to school this morning. I mean, Sergio tagged along to make sure she got there safely, but you get the idea.

I have been back at work for a week, and I spent three days of the week prior to that one working on my classroom. I’m no Pinterest teacher, but if you are interested in what a teacher generally walks into after a summer (especially when taking over a new room), then I’ve got some before and after pics here for you. Don’t look too closely or you’ll notice that most of my wall decor isn’t really related to US History from Pre-European Exploration through Reconstruction, but that’s what happens when you’ve taught a LOT of different topics over the years. Did I get a window? YES, I DID! And a bonus windowed DOOR!

Before:

 

After:

Ireland!

After the hustle and bustle of a city as big and well-visited as Paris, flying into Cork felt like a breath of fresh air. We really enjoy navigating big city subway systems like the Metro and wandering through markets shoulder to shoulder with the masses, but our ability to do this for long periods of time, especially post-Alaska living, is kind of limited. We tire out in much the same way attending a party can tire out my introvert brain. We chose the Dingle Peninsula as the opposite destination of Paris with this in mind, but I don’t know that either of us was prepared for just how acute the difference would feel. We flew in over Cork and it was just green farmland everywhere that I could see. For some reason, our one previous experience with driving in the UK had me imagining a fairly harrowing experience trying to get out of a city, but the airport sits right in the middle of one of those grassy areas and the rental car lot plops you right out on the highway you need, so our stress level plummeted to nearly zero from the air and stayed that way the rest of the week (with just a few exceptions).

So the next question would be did we take our rental car and go into Cork and check out the Blarney Stone? Nope. Despite having a much better hang of driving this time around, it’s still nice to just get where you are going. I’m torn on whether to recommend that you drive in Ireland (or Wales) because I NEVER would, but I think you SHOULD totally see the parts you can see mostly by driving yourself around. So…I don’t know. Sergio does all the driving. The scariest part this time was just how tiny the roads are, and the very frequent blind corners on those tiny roads. But again, such beautiful stuff to see by car and the freedom to enjoy it at your own pace.

We drove straight on to Dingle, passing by Killarney. This is notable only because I kept singing “Christmas in Killarney” the whole time. Our GPS took us directly through Killarney on the way home, so now I can say I’ve been there when I hear that song at Christmas time. Life goals.

Let’s go ahead and talk about Dingle. It’s one of the most picturesque villages you can find. The colorful buildings crowd each other gradually up a moderate hill and it all sits on the edge of the water. Boats line the harbor and green hills rise up around the town. Rock walls line the roads out of town and sheep dot the remainder of the landscape. You can literally look in any direction in this town, or on the drive around the Dingle peninsula, and see some of the best views of your life. It got to the point where I would just hold my phone up and click a picture without framing it or even being able to see the screen, and when I would check it later, I would have something beautiful with perfect light.

We did not stay in Dingle Town. We stayed a few miles out right along one of the gorgeous cliffs in a village called Baile na hAbha. If you drive in Ireland, be aware that your GPS will fail you once you reach beyond a bigger village. Most of the town names are used in every county and even if you pick the right county from the GPS, it will often putter out at some point. We overhead someone say they had only recently adopted a postal code, and I can’t speak to the truth of that statement, but it would explain a lot. If your landlord gives you directions, keep them, you’ll need them and they’ll be right even if they feel very convoluted at first. The absolute only negative to staying outside of Dingle Town was that we neither one felt comfortable driving into town at night to hear the Irish music that happens regularly at all the pubs. So we did miss that part. Just gives us a reason to go back one day though!

We created a habit of going into town each day at some point. Often we would go in the morning before the tour bus crowds took over and we would have coffee at The Bean in Dingle. Good coffee, funny name, very popular. It also had free wifi which became important eventually. We would then wander around Dingle and look at the numerous stores. I wanted to buy lots of stuff like scratchy wool sweaters. Our other two favorite haunts in Dingle were the fish and chip food truck that has a sign out front saying “Voted Best Fish and Chips in Dingle” and the sign does not lie. We ate from here twice. We ate here sitting in the rain twice. It was excellent. Sorry I didn’t catch the actual name. Bad travel writing. Bad! And Murphy’s Ice Cream store which has also been voted among the best ice creams, but like, in the world? It offers flavors such as Irish Brown Bread and Salted Butter. Yes, we did usually get those two together, and while I wouldn’t say it tasted like eating brown bread with salted butter, it did taste uniquely excellent. They had other flavors as well, toffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream off the top of my head, but we just kept returning to our favorites. We ate here pretty much every time we came to town. Vacation is for ice cream! We would then end off our time in Dingle by going to the grocery store. We cooked at home most nights, often using the prepared foods from the store to make it easy. We took home steak and kidney pies, curries, pasta bakes, and sausages on different occasions. We made breakfast at home a time or two as well, but we did have a Full Irish out at least once.

We left a TON of Dingle Town unexplored, but like I said, we’ll just have to go back and stay in town next time which will be difficult because we found the most enchanting cottage to stay in, and it would be really difficult not to stay there again. I encourage EVERYONE to stay there. It still blows my mind that Ireland has all of this amazing coastline, and it is just minimally dotted with a few clustered homes and thousands of sheep. And they let us come stay there and see it? So crazy. American capitalists would have commercialized that coastline at the first chance.

Our cottage was built in the 50’s and it was just SO. CUTE. I think the pictures probably do it more justice than my descriptions can, but it was built with the views in mind. We would spend whole days sitting in the sunny window out back taking in the views or reading or both. It had a tiny fireplace that we used each night. It didn’t cast much warmth, but the atmosphere couldn’t be beat. Some days we wanted that warmth because Ireland was often rainy and cool, but there were days it was sunny and warmish as well. We had nearby neighbors that clearly have always lived there. Most people in this area spoke Irish first, so it felt a lot like Wales in that way. Our most frequent visitors were the myriad sheep that wandered freely. We had a large creek running right beside our house that Rosalind loved to play around in, but sometimes she had to wait for the sheep to have their time. We did try a hike to the top of the second highest mountain that rose up behind us, but it turns out that there is so much water saturating every square inch of Ireland that you REALLY need waterproof footwear to accomplish this. We had to turn back without finishing because our feet were DRENCHED. Another day we walked down along the country roads to the nearest pub for dinner. We visited with lots of sheep along the way and had some of the best buffalo wings we’ve ever had. So that was weird. If you want really good wings, go to An Bothar Pub in the middle of nowhere Ireland.

We thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of where we stayed and found it endlessly relaxing. EXCEPT. When we got there, we realized we had never been given the code to retrieve our keys. We sat for two stressful hours trying to contact the owner and having absolutely no luck. We had to pay international fees on our phones, we kept getting the wrong country, and for some reason, VRBO, when we finally made contact, had systems down so that we simply had to wait another hour before they were able to help us. That was stressful, but we finally got it figured out and the quaintness of the cottage did away with any lingering stress. Later in the trip, the wifi went out. When we attempted to get it fixed, the owner was apologetic, but basically his answer was, “Nobody works in Ireland on the weekends. Too bad for you.” So you can see why the wifi in town became important. Despite these two setbacks, I would totally stay there again one day. Just so lovely. No wifi also meant that we played board games and read books and napped and cooked meals for ourselves. Not the worst thing that could happen, ya know?

In Paris, you feel like you are racing to see all the important landmarks. Ireland does not have this problem. The peninsula is not covered in ruins or castles at every turn. We did see the Beehive houses, so we checked off that box. Otherwise, we just drove around and stopped wherever we wanted. Rosalind threw a pot at an artist’s studio, and we spent rainy and cold days and then warm and sunny days on the beaches. Sometimes we climbed rocks and sometimes we explored tidal pools and sea life. My absolute favorite time was going out to a long stretch of sandy beach on a day that proved bitterly windy and finding a great pub right there. We shared some pub food and a scrumptious sticky toffee pudding, and when I bailed on the windy beach, I went back in alone for a latte and watched Sergio and Rolo frolic. Great day!

So I guess my takeaway from Ireland is that it is made for relaxing. Peaceful agrarian landscape? Check. Dreary weather that makes you want to curl up by the fire? Check! Fireplace? Check! Warm and sunny weather to play on the beach? Check! Yummy comfort food? Check! Ease of travel and communication for English speakers? Check! Cozy cottages and country lanes? Check!

I would say long story short, but I didn’t keep this short, so long story long, head to Ireland at the first available opportunity!

What I’m…

Okay, so in this case, internet accountability didn’t work out for me. Putting a promise that I would come back and write a post soon did NOT actually motivate me to get back here quickly. It HAS been a busy week with birthdays and canine dental surgeries and theater camp and so on, but in reality, none of that is the WHOLE reason I haven’t written. I’m just being lazy. Work starts VERY soon, and I firmly believe that if you aren’t at least a little bored with summer, then you aren’t really ready to go back to work with the proper enthusiasm. So I’ve mostly been slowly cleaning the house and lying around with my convalescing dog.

And guess what? I’m STILL not here to write about Ireland. I don’t have the pictures together yet. Instead, let’s have a brief “What I’m” post, so that I can clear my brain.

What I’m….

Reading:

Radium Girls – This book has the unique ability to be non-fiction that is hard to pick up because you dread the inevitable horrors awaiting the radium girls, while also being extremely readable and hard to put down. Highly recommend so far.

Shades of Magic Trilogy – This is a YA magic trilogy, cuz I’m the coolest person you know. It was diverting and had some high points, but it hasn’t stuck with me.

Watching –

Veronica Mars!!! I have loved VM since I first binged it on Netflix when Rolo was a baby. Perhaps it might have had more seasons if more of us had discovered it while it was on network tv, but it was cut short. It has since returned once before with a crowd-funded movie that I obviously watched, and now it is back again with a 4th season. Yup. They are all in their mid-thirties now. I am still re-watching the first seasons so no verdict on the new season yet.

Spiderman: Far From Home – Very cute. It was almost a tourism video for European travel, and we kept leaning over to  Rolo asking, “Do you remember when we stood right there?” with each new scene. I’m sure she loved that.

Rolo performing her original character (Karen aka The One in Blue) during the original play that was created over the course of a two-week theater camp at the Albuquerque Little Theater. Seemed like a great camp experience (and indoors during the hottest two weeks of the summer so far), and she did a really nice job.

Doing –

We’re building a pergola! I’ll share pictures when it is all finished. Just a few finishing touches, but we mostly work on it during the late hours because it’s VERY hot right now.

Mixing antibiotics and pain meds into soft foods for Eliot twice a day because it turns out our nearly fifteen year old dog lost more teeth than he had cleaned during his recent dental cleaning. He’s very nearly toothless now. Hopefully this will make him feel better eventually, but it’s a rough road for him this week. And for us, frankly, as the antibiotic and soft food combo has wreaked havoc on his belly. Fun times!

Meeting some of my new coworkers. Already! Keys/tech/room assignments next week. Quick summer.

Pinning teaching ideas on Pinterest and pretending this is the same as planning for the new school year.

Eating:

Way more junk/drive thru food than intended but it’s hot and it seems stupid to heat up the kitchen until the weather breaks a bit. A lot of ice cream right out of the container too.

Drinking:

I don’t do a whole lot of cocktail drinking, but I recently discovered that you can get pineapple margarita mix and whir it up in the smoothie machine with some ice and then put a rim of habanero salt on it, and -kisses fingertips- yum. So if you crave a sweet and spicy frozen cocktail on a hot day from time to time, give this combo a try. And if, like me, you don’t drink much, the investment is worth it because it will last you FOREVER. Cocktails all summer basically.

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Not an Ireland Post

So I came here with the intention of finally getting this Ireland narrative going. As you’ll see, I went off the rails entirely. If you still check in from time to time, I really appreciate it. I’m inconsistent lately. This summer has just been constant activity. Even when I have found down time (Ireland for instance), it hasn’t really allowed for easy blogging opportunities. We’re home for the remainder of summer and have a couple of weeks on the docket full of not a whole heckuva lot. I’ve also got at least … um…two post ideas. So maybe there is the tiniest shred of hope.

One of the reasons I’ve been a little out of pocket other than the traveling is that I have been quietly looking for a different job. This district is totally chill about transferring between the schools within the district, so I bit the bullet back in May and came clean with my admin that I would be job-searching through the summer. As much as I hate telling people I may not come back to the job they gave me, I am SUPER glad I was honest from the beginning. Always nice to not be a jerk!

The tricky part of this job search came down to the fact that I was only looking for jobs within a 15 minute drive of my home (as opposed to the 40 to sometimes 60 minute commutes I had last year). This left me with very few things to apply to and even fewer interviews. Even though I was glad to have a job still lined up, it was a bit disheartening knowing I wasn’t hearing much.

Until today! I snagged one! Pretty much the same gig as before, but 12 minutes from my door. No highway driving at all. I haven’t set foot in the building or met my new colleagues because it was a phone interview, but when I drove by today, I was encouraged by the amount of windows I saw. Did I mention I didn’t have windows in my classroom last year? Probably like 1000 times, right? I really appreciate natural light in a school building. Here’s hoping I can also snag a room with a window of some kind. Think good thoughts.

Now that I have that mental weight off of me, and the summer travels behind me, and even Rolo in an afternoon theater camp for a bit, I should be able come back very soon ready to rave about Ireland. And rave I will!

Until then, here is a photo story of Beau, my grandmother’s dog, in which I have popped him upside down in my arms like a baby for what might be the first time in his life. I don’t know why this tickles me so much. He was willing but clearly befuddled.

 

 

Rambling and Rambling…

So we have been back in the US for a little over a week…and tomorrow Rolo and I fly out again to see family in Arkansas. There hasn’t been much downtime yet this summer! Lots of good adventuring, but not a ton of just sitting around at home tackling summer projects. This accounts for some of why I haven’t managed a follow-up post about our travels. The other part is that I don’t have my computer, and I spent the early part of this week trying to track down my keyboard for the iPad with NO luck. I DID clean out the boxes my parents brought me from their attic to my shed (full of childhood “treasures”). That’s a story for another day though. Luckily, inspiration struck today when I remembered that my child owns a perfectly acceptable little laptop that she mostly forgot about after I got the iPad.

So here I am finally typing! Hi, everyone! Missed you!

How should we tackle this post? I think I mostly threw a bunch of pictures of our first few days at you last time. Maybe I should start there and give some details. Let’s see. We first went to LA, where it decided it should be cold and rainy on the day that we couldn’t check into our hotel for 7 hours. It was gorgeous the next day though and we wandered up and down Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier area taking in all the sites. Just so you know, a two minute Tilt-A-Whirl ride at the pier is $8. Silly. We watched skateboarders, street artists, and part of a bodybuilding competition. At one point, we all got our own ice cream, like literally each from a different store. I had Ben and Jerry’s. Yum. Rolo got something artisan from somewhere or other. And Sergio found some ice cream with real honeycomb in it. This was a favorite moment for me from LA. – each of us with our favored ice cream enjoying it all together. Oh, and we had excellent kebab just before this! I’ll try to look up the names later.

Our hotel was a very unique space (The Ellison) that was once owned by Laurel and Hardy. It was clearly residential at some point as our room was really a suite with a kitchen and living room. Rosalind’s bed pulled out from the wall like a drawer. It was very quirky and cool and comfortable. It was one block from the beach. After we finally checked in on the rainy day, we all curled up in bed and ordered FatBurger from Postmates. If you find yourself looking for a good, quirky, experience in Venice Beach, we recommend this hotel. Don’t mind the giant sign on the wall that says, “This is not a hotel.” It is a hotel.

We then met our Alaska friends at LAX and hopped an Air New Zealand flight to Heathrow. We opted to try the SkyCouch offered through this airline with the additional fourth seat option. This means that you can fold out your three seats into a bed and sleep two people. The third person goes across the aisle and sits up like normal (except on our way home where NOBODY else was in the middle aisle and Rolo also got a whole row of seat on which to lay out if she wanted to. Alas, the flight home was a day flight, so the unused seats offered more in mental comfort than physical). I was pretty skeptical that the SkyCouch would work out for anyone other than a mother/baby combo, but I am now a BELIEVER! I’ve never arrived in Europe so genuinely rested.

We stayed at a chain hotel in Covent Garden for this first leg of London. It was conveniently located and perfectly nice. We took the kids to tea at the Park Room again because we enjoyed it so much last time, and the Grover’s Tea option (you have to call ahead and tell them you want this, but it still available despite being absent from the website) is so nice for children. What I didn’t tell you in the last post was that about one hour before the tea began, I realized that I had lost my phone. Day two of our trip and I had lost my iPhone. Not. A. Good. Start. We all did our level best to forget about the big OOPS and enjoy tea. Either my phone was back at the Caffe Nero near our hotel, or it was gone for good, and there was little to be done in the ensuing hours until we made it back to our part of town. Against all odds, Caffe Nero had it safely stowed away behind the counter when we returned to ask. Thank you kind stranger in London for turning in my phone! Later in the trip, we ran into a forgotten phone in a lonely corner of the Louvre, and we took the time to get it turned into the nearest authority figure. I hope everyone got back what they lost because my returned phone saved the whole trip for me.

We also revisited the Tate Modern and the Borough Market on this leg. We had a really nice meal at Dishoom. We obviously had the Full English breakfast offered in the Borough Market. Sergio, Rolo, and I took in the Freemason’s Hall tour because it was just up the road and we’ve done a lot of London stuff by this point. I think this was my 5th time to London? It never gets old. It’s kind of funny how much the three of us enjoy being in Britain no matter how many times we’ve been before. The Freemason guide was very adorable and enthusiastic and he made lots of Trump jokes because the British seem to have far more humor toward terrible politicians than I can muster.

Rosalind and Graham (the three year old son of our travel companions) became fast friends throughout the trip. He called her “Roland” the whole time, and if that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever heard, then I don’t even know.

We then hopped another flight to Paris. We stayed in some very cute and functional flats in the 11th. We very much enjoyed exploring our neighborhood, though as I mentioned, the further from tourist central you are, the more French you need to know. It’s not that we hadn’t practiced, it’s just that I totally freeze up.

My favorite part of our neighborhood was the large market along Richard Lenoir stretching from the Bastille monument. We had a sausage sandwich on a baguette here with a side of cherries from another vendor. We had lattes in paper cups. Rosalind had fresh squeezed orange juice and a Nutella crepe. We sat on a bench and watched people go by. It was lovely. It felt like the most authentic experience that we managed in France.

As much as I enjoyed everything we did in France, a lot of it felt sort of manufactured to get as many tourists through as quickly as possible. Because we WERE doing all the tourist stuff, so of course. We took Rolo to the Eiffel Tower (her only specific request), explored the Louvre, wandered one of the gorgeous parks and the Natural History and Children’s Museums. We had croissants and cheese and cured meats and bread and bread and bread ( and brains, and foie gras, and even McDonalds at the Louvre). We went to Montmarte and toured the Sacre-Couer. Rosalind got a beret. We toured the catacombs. We played at the adorable neighborhood playground often. It was good. It was busy. It was sometimes very hot with Paris reaching into the high eighties while we were there. We often rested at outdoor cafes for a light beer (for us) or a bottle of wine (our friends) to ease through the heat of the day.

Okay, I think I have to stop there for today. Back later with Ireland! And then London and LA AGAIN! I know! So many legs of this trip!

Here’s the rest of the Paris pictures.