Friday, September 30, 2011

Goodbye Ireland

As an expat, you can easily get in the rut of complaining about your new residence. Living in a different country is a new experience around every corner and not all of them are positive. Also, even little inconveniences can seem huge when you are far from familiar faces and customs. I'm definitely guilty of doing my fair share of expat complaining. But the truth is, I wouldn't trade a day of it. Okay, maybe I'd be alright losing a couple of the snowed/iced-in days while being 8 months pregnant. But even those challenging days provided an opportunity to experience a different way of life than what I have always known. Moving to Ireland has been a traveling opportunity, an adventure for the early years of my marriage, and, I hope, most of all a growing experience.

There are things I won't miss. The cold, biting wind of winter being at the top of the list. The unjustifiably high cost of living is a close second. However, Ireland has given me such great memories. I will never forget my first visit to my Irish cousins and seeing the house and countryside where my great-great grandmother Alice grew up. I am thankful that my grandmother and great-grandmother managed to maintain relationships through the generations with "the old country" though neither of them ever had the opportunity to make the trip back themselves.

A part of my heart will always be in the rocky fields and sheep-filled hills of Connemara. The love-inspired chapel at Kylemore Abbey stands out as well. I will never forget our delicious seafood dinners on the Cork coast in Kinsale or the Kerry creamery Murphy's ice cream in Dingle. I loved living mythology at Giants Causeway, seeing ancient wisdom at Newgrange and bog-jumping with the mummies in Wicklow. And even though I never got the chance to play the great links courses of Ireland, just seeing them is enough to inspire me to keep learning the frustrating game.

Of course there are the little things that make Ireland irresistible to visitors worldwide. There is the velvety black stuff flowing freely at all of the hundreds of tiny character-filled pubs, little old men in mismatched tweed suits, and the never-wanting-for-conversation people who welcome all visitors with open arms. It is all these things, great and small, that I will remember and cherish about my time in Ireland. Ireland isn't a large place, but it is full of beautiful places, unforgettable people and many histories. As much as we got to do and see and the people we got to know and love, I will always feel there is more of Ireland to discover.

And, of course, Ireland is where Harris was born. Without our Irish adventure we wouldn't have been blessed with such a joyful child. So Ireland will always be a part of us. We will always be the Irish Taruns.

Sláinte, Ireland!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

8 Months!

As we finish up our final days here in Ireland, I have to stop and wonder where all the time has gone. Harris is 8 months today. This month has been a lot of fun. Harris never stops clapping. Never. He proved what a great tiny traveller he is once again, this time in Italy and London. Harris has really gotten mobile, crawling just about anywhere he wants to and pulling up on anything he can find. He's definitely testing the definition of the word "no" as he crawls about our less-than-baby-proofed late 1800s home. We are all looking forward to being in a baby-safe home back in Texas.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Arthur's Day

To Arthur! We celebrated our last Arthur's Day in Ireland at a local pub. If you're reading this in the US, it's not too late for you to celebrate. Get to a pub by 17:59 (5:59pm) today (September 22) and raise a pint of Guinness to Arthur Guinness himself.

What do Italian babies eat?

I spent a good 20 minutes in the baby food aisle of our local grocery store while in Italy exploring all the options. They had the usual assortment of purees - vegetables, fruits and meats. But then they had a few unique offerings. Some of the baby food I thought was adorable, some a little funny and some downright surprising.  I photographed my favorites.

Yes, that is horse.

Baby olive oil

an assortment of baby cheese purees

also an assortment of fish purees

and many variety of pasta!

A Birthday in Tuscany

Richard had a birthday this month. And he wanted to celebrate in Italy. So after our last-minute London trip, we headed to Tuscany. It was a lovely week of sunshine and pretty scenery and good food as well. Harris is such a good traveler and even put up with the bumpy streets of Florence for a day. Richard got to have his bistec florentine - a specialty cut of beef from the region. And I really enjoyed each and every little "caught in history" town the region offers.

View of San Gimignano

Siena Duomo

Florence Market

Florence Duomo

Richard's birthday dinner at the villa

Buon Compleano Richard!

Pisa on the way to the airport

Truffles everywhere! - I actually got truffled-out the last day.