Thursday, October 29, 2009


Well, it's official. WE OWN A HOME! Tim did the final walk through yesterday and everything was beautiful as expected. The seller actually left us a couple of notes - one welcoming us and hoping that we loved our new home, and one telling us about the birds that nest in the bird house (she also left us some seed for them.)

Today escrow funded and we closed the loan. The place belongs to us, and we make our first mortgage payment in December (until then, I am going to throw money around like it's water, of course.) I had been texting with Tim and our realtor while at work (more on that later) and Tim called me at 5 to say that Rita had called and we were all official. I burst into tears, and then my boss goes, "look! She's crying! We should take a picture of this!" Thanks, Anja. Very comforting. Then apparently I looked weird in her cell phone photo, so she told me I looked demented.

Today has been a stressful and fun day all around. Our Gala is tomorrow, so I've been at work late every day this week, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. We spent today in a conference room at the Hilton putting together our gift bags. We got a lot of really fabulous donations to include, so we were there at 6am setting up so that when the volunteers arrived, we could just send them around the room, stuffing bag after bag (mercifully, I was able to make a deal where I didn't come in until 7, but I had to show up with everyone's coffee order. I also made carrot cake muffins before packing up the bones of the kitchen - yes I am insane.) My job all day was the break down the boxes, which in the beginning wasn't that much, but by the end, I was buried in cardboard, because they unpacked things way faster than I could cut and smash. My arms are also covered with angry red welts from getting scratched by the cardboard. I look like I self-mutilate. We had some down time after 2pm, and that was when I began frantically texting everyone involved in the closing process to see how it was going. And then I got the happiest call in the world as we were getting ready to pack up our stuff and escape for the day.

We are pretty good to go for Saturday. I will probably pack the rest of my pretties tonight and my clothes, and then I have a list of things for Tim to get done when he gets up here tomorrow night. I am feeling much less frantic than I was earlier in the week. I've had a pizza and a beer, and now I am off to fill out change of address forms online! Also, I will be going to bed at 8pm, most likely. Because I am one tired little homeowner!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Final Weekend in the Apt!

We got a lot more packing done this weekend. The closets are cleaned out and Tim has his suitcase full of clothes for the next couple of weeks. Everything else is in bags and boxes. I still need to pack our pots and pans in the kitchen, and clean out the medicine cabinet, but everything else is pretty much finished, or is something that can just be stuffed in a box on our way out.

Speaking of stuffed in a box, Tim just now left with the cats. I've been sad about it all day, but it's really the best and easiest thing. They are all three staying at Jake's (thanks Jakey!) and I figured it would be smoother if Tim just took them down tonight, rather than me needing to catch and stow them by myself and drive down and back to Fountain Valley in one night. It was still really sad. Thory was born in a feral colony and trapped with his mom and his brother and sisters when he was only a wee nugget. They intended to release the litter back to the feral colony after giving them the snip snip, but someone at the rescue league thought Thor and his siblings would make good pets, so they went to a couple of adoption fairs and spent a lot of time in cages before we adopted Thor for my 24th birthday (let it be known though, I had to write the check for my own cat-present.) Sometimes when Thor gets scared, he reverts to his feral self. And since he is not very smart, he can become scared and feral quite easily. He's especially terrified of his cat carrier, so I had to get him and bring him into the bathroom, and then Tim came in with the carrier. Poor Thory made horrible, terrified noises and struggled, but we put one of their cat blankeys in with him and hoped for the best. Lulu, who is smart and curious and generally a good girl, just strolled into her carrier, and then was surprised and miffed when we closed the door on her. We put them in the backseat of the car so that they can see one another, and hopefully Tim is having an easy drive. I feel terrible though. Thor's plantiveness made me start crying, and then Tim felt bad because Thor was sad and I was crying... we are a messy family.

Other than feeling like a total meanie, this has been a good weekend. Tim and I went and had our last LA-based date for awhile on Saturday. We went and had sushi at the Bridge and then watched Paranormal Activity, which was totally scary, and made me almost vom (it's done using hand held video cameras, and the movement made me queasy.) Tim spent today using a software program to build our house and arrange our furniture. I joked that he spent longer trying to get the program set up correctly than it will actually take us to move the furniture into and around the house. I spent today on the couch watching football. The Steelers are my second favorite team of the week.

I also ran my last set of Culver City walking errands. I returned my library books, and then went to the House of Return, which is THE best thrift store around. I don't quite know who supplies the place with their donations, but they always have beautiful, vintage, DESIGNER merchandise. Armani, Valentino, Carmen Marc Valvo... today there were four St. John knit suits. And all of these fabulous items are usually under $100. I am a discount label whore, and so the House of Return is like heaven to me. I bought a bead necklace and a pink jacket. I also found a copy of Singing the Rain on laserdisc. i am trying to find a copy of the vinyl record so that I can frame it and have it with my Sound of Music, Cabaret and King and I. The Laserdisc will work in the meanwhile, but if you know anyone who has a vinyl copy of the Singing the Rain soundtrack that they will sell me for less than $15, it's a DEAL.

We had take out Mexican from our favorite hole in the wall place. Oh Pepes, I will miss you so. As our days in Culver City grow shorter and shorter, I feel torn. I am so excited to go, but so sad to leave. I'm actually glad to be crazy busy this week at work - I won't have time to come home and feel sad about Tim and the cats being gone!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered...

Six more days and it's ours!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming Together.

We will most likely sign our lives away to Bank of America on Friday morning.

The seller is hoping to have all of the remaining items in the house picked up by a charity next Wednesday. And if that doesn't work, her realtor has a dumpster company on standby. Word is that she is considering leaving some of the furniture and the washer/dryer for us.

If all goes according to plan, Tim will do the final walk through on Wednesday night and we will push to close Thursday.... A WHOLE DAY EARLY!

Moving day is still Saturday morning. I am hoping that Tim and I can hand out candy to the neighbor kids (and steal Jonsey, of course.)

Tim has graciously agreed to move back in with me for the next couple of days. I have thrown my hands up and admitted that I can't handle all of this, especially not with the schedule I have going on at work. We'll definitely be packed and ready to go by Saturday morning, but I am so tense that my jaw aches. And the best thing to relieve my tension is to be able to sit on the couch and watch baseball and talk to my boyfriend. He is a good egg. As a symbol of my gratitude, I am making him some cupcakes to bring to his coworkers tomorrow.

In other news, our house is full of boxes. I packed all of the living room pretties and picture frames, and emptied out the linen closet. Now we just have our clothes, and whatever junk is in the hall closet (and it's mostly junk - a sleeping bag, fondue pots, board games...) Here is a funny - I came home yesterday to find Lula on the bottom shelf of our book shelf. I was talking to her, trying to get her to come over for a pet, and then I realized that she was stuck down there - she slinks over the subwoofer to get down, but is too fat to squeeze her lard butt back up. With the boxes of books stacked in front of the shelf, she was essentially trapped. I moved the subwoofer for her, and in her gratitude, she licked my face. She has already expressed how much she can't wait to investigate Uncle Jakey's furniture next week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tidying Up.

Newsflash from the "house hunters" (ie my stalkerish parents, who drive by our new house all the time, and sometimes get out of the car and talk to the neighbors) - there is a dumpster out front today, and Dad spotted a lady bringing trash out to it. So, hopefully she is on her way to be cleaned out in time for us to move in.

In the meanwhile, I cleared off our bookshelves. The books take up 15 bankers boxes. And don't blame me - I packed a ton of gigantic textbooks on physics, engineering and AI. BORING. Why would you read that when you could have two different translations of Beowulf and the diaries of Sylvia Plath? I ask you.

MEANWHILE, as I am packing the living room and cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, Timmy is being taken out for sushi dinner by his parents. He is probably going to come up and help me pack on Wednesday. I may or may not smother him in his sleep. (Just kidding, I need his job and salary information to close on the loan - I am not going to kill him until after I get him to move the 1,000 pound cat couch into place in our new home.)

We are hoping to sign docs on Wednesday, and I emailed our painter with the paint colors this morning. He said he will do some test swatches on the walls for us, so we can decide if our parents are right and our colors are ugly. We might change our minds, but I am dead set about putting the family room furniture in the blue room, much to dad's chagrin.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Walk Through!

It's been a busy and exciting weekend. Friday night we drove out to Buena Park and met up to do Knotts "Scary" Farm. I'd been once before in college, and had a great time. I figured, since we pushed back the baby timeline, I might as well take advantage and do the sort of fun things that I can't do when I'm preggo or nursing. Like... ride roller coasters and drink. I also hope we can go skiing once this winter, and I can totally show Tim up.

We had a really fun night. The whole point of the park is that they have mazes and people in costume whose job it is to jump out at you and make noise and be scary. If you are like me and startle easily, there is a lot of squealing. If you are a boy and like Tim, you get to take advantage of laughing at your wife. You can also be a big dork and suggest the log ride when your wife is wearing a white shirt - I spent that ride being more worried about the water than the guys dressed up like zombies. We got to go on a few big roller coasters, and also the swings and the mexican hats (like the teacups.) It was a full night of fun!

Saturday morning we spent packing the apartment. I got the entire kitchen boxed up, which was sort of crazymaking. Oh, wedding presents that I unwrapped 4 years ago and never used... I wish I had left you wrapped! Tim got the entertainment center cleaned out and tidied up, and I also went through the closet and sorted out things that should stay hung and not get packed.

Saturday night we went to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the first time, to hear music inspired by the City of Angels, conducted by John Williams. It was songs from famous movies, including some of John Williams' finest. I really enjoyed the love theme from Vertigo, and it was pretty awesome when they came out and did the march from Empire Strikes Back as the encore. I'd been inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a function, but not inside the hall itself - it's really beautiful and striking. Hopefully we can go again!


This morning we packed the cars and drove down to the OC. The entire back seat of my car was covered in coats and dresses and costumes that need to stay hung. Tim is kind of amused as to how much stuff I have. I have some seriously great dresses though! We stopped by mom and dad's to dump our junk, and then went over to historic MISSION VIEJO to walk through the house.

We were greeted out from by Jonesy, the local cat. Apparently he was owned by an older couple, and when the wife died, the husband let the cats out because he couldn't care for them. One got hit by a car, but Jonsey has managed to survive, by being half-adopted by the people across the street from us. They already have four pets so can't take him full time. I strongly suspect that once we get settled into our house, and once the cats adjust, Jonsey and I will be making a trip to the vet for some shots and a flea bath, and then he will become my newest cat child. Just sayin'. I have already told Lulu and Thor about their new brother. Right now they are laying on our unfolded boxes, caring not a whit.

Our parents were able to all meet us, so Eileen got to see the house in the flesh for the first time. It's still in a state of disarray. Some of the furniture has been removed, but some has not. The garage is still stuffed with junk and there is food in the cupboards. The sister (it's a brother-sister team selling their parents' house) is staying there and trying to get things cleaned out, but she's going to have a hard sprint trying to get it all done before they tent for termites on Friday. Thankfully, Rita our realtor is pragmatic and awesome, and is like, "well, if worse comes to worse, I know some guys we can bring in to clean this out." Rita is so amazing. In the meanwhile, I am trying to only stress out about two or three things at once, so I am just assuming that we will not close early, and that we will not be able to start painting until November 2nd. It's only a matter of a couple of days delay - it's not worth pitching a fit over. Plus, I feel for the poor woman. Her parents were obviously a little packratty (there are old high chairs and broken lawn chairs in the garage that should have met the dumpster 20 years ago) and it's a lot to shift through, especially if you are still mourning the passing of your parents.

Still, I CAN'T WAIT TO MOVE IN AND LIVE THERE. The house is so stinking cute - even better then I remember. I love the wood floors, I love all of the sliding glass doors, I love the 70s retro character and I love the little picture window in the family room.

Tim and I brought paint colors to look at, and are beginning to decide where the furniture is going to go. We finally figured out the difference between family and living room. Family room = the blue room with the cat couch and the picture window next to the kitchen, Living room = room with TV, and big slider out to the backyard. The family room is the one people traditionally just furnish and never use.

Here are some shots that I took today, featuring rooms that Tim neglected to photograph last time.

The master bedroom. It has a large mirrored closet, and then a slider out to the yard, which I LOVE.

Here's the crew looking out into the yard.

Shot of the backyard, from the slider.

Our little red master bathroom. You can see here the random beam going across the bathroom. The bathroom was apparently redone at some point, and they didn't take the beam down. I guess at one point the bathrooms were set up with a little atrium? No one really knows, but I like it.

Shot down the hall to the family room.

Another shot of the little doors between the foyer and the family room. I just think they're so cute!

Here's the picture window in the family room. When I was a little girl, I wanted a picture windo so bad - now I am actually going to have one! I am going to curl up and read there every day like Emily of New Moon.

Can you believe that they're giving us to yahoos the money to buy a house? Yeah, me neither.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Approved to move!

So, I guess I am a big jerk. I tell everyone to stay tuned, and then don't write anything for you to tune in to.

It's been a full week back at work - a little crazy but good. Tim is back to living at his mom and dad's, and I am a full time single parent to the cats. I also went alone to see a movie on Wednesday night, which Tim thought was worrisome, but which I thought was awesome. I didn't have to share my popcorn with anyone!

The good news is that we're formally approved for our home loan. The underwriters have signed off on everything and they are prepping the documents. Once the termite work is done, we can sign, and then close, and then start the process of moving in. Since we're going to recarpet and repaint, it's going to be awhile before we're 100% settled in and living there, but as Grandma says, it won't be long now said the monkey as his tail got caught in the meat grinder. I'm glad the process has gone so smoothly - when we started this adventure, I was worried that Tim and I would be living apart and house hunting for months on end.

When I got the email from our mortgage person, I replied "HOORAY! I just threw my arms up and did a little Rocky-esque victory dance. Let me know when we should schedule the great loan signing of 2009." Her boss, who is the guy that we worked with to lock down our interest rate and loan amount replied, "duh du duhdudududuh duhduduhdadududa dudu dudu du du duhhhhhhh duh duh duh, duh duh duh." I so appreciate when people laugh along with my jokes.

We've got our moving crew conscripted and the moving date set, so now the only big hassle left is packing. I'm going to do most of the kitchen on Saturday, and also clean out the clothes closets. The good news is that we don't have a lot of stuff, and it's pretty well organized. I know the moms are worried about our ability to execute this task, but trust me, I HAVE A PLAN. Plus during my academic career, I did move in and out of 6 different dorm rooms/apartments in six years. I know how to efficiently stuff an entire closet's worth of clothes into a garbage bag, and how to use dirty laundry to pad around glass figurines when shoving them into a box. There will be no tricks on Halloween - just the treat of finally leaving our dumpy little apartment behind!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

End of the Travelogue!

We made it home, safe and sound, despite having to hustle quite a bit to get from the international terminal to our gate in roughly an hour. Thank goodness in Chicago the security people let us peons slip through the priority line with our business class passengers (in Dublin, they made Tim, Jake and I hike it back to the hour long loser line. We reported them, of course!)

So now back to our story. When we last reported, we were Drogheda, on our way to North Ireland and the Fitzpatrick family farm.

The house is up a narrow little lane, and has an absolutely beautiful view.

Here is the house itself, along with our Uglymobile. The house is now owned by the neighbor's daughter. The neighbor John showed us around the house and the little neighborhood. He's a sweet old man and a total packrat, who seems to know everything about the area. His daughter Louise has fixed the house up quite a bit since she bought it, and it's very nice on the inside, with new carpeting and wall fixtures and windows. It's still got a very sweet little cottage feel. It sort of blows my mind to think of all of the family members that lived in it at the same time. When Grandpa Fitzpatrick lived there, it was two rooms downstairs, two rooms upstairs, and a little kitchen hanging off the back.

Here is John showing us the old kitchen "appliances."

We can assume that Tim is taller than his great-grandpa.

John also took us up the hill to another little cottage, which he owns and rents out to visitors. I totally want to live there. The scenery up there is absolutely gorgeous, and pictures don't even come close to doing it justice.

You walk up this little lane (about a three minute walk. John knows its exact length because he had to pay to run pipes and cable up to the cabin so that it could have electricity and running water.)

Here's the cabin itself. John has modernized it, but not fixed it up too much. What was the barn is now the kitchen area, and then there's a little sitting room, a room with bunk beds and a room with a double bed. Very cute. It's sort of like the cabin in Door County back in the day.

And here are the views. Try not to die your guy with jealousy. If it makes you feel any better, it totally smells like manure up there. Oh, nature!

And here's blondie and I. You may notice that this is the day that I couldn't bear wearing either pair of my jeans again, and decided to freeze in a skirt (and yes, flipflops. And now I have a bad cold.)

We tried to have lunch in Dundrum, but most of the places were closed. One said they would seat us, but they couldn't get food to us for 45 minutes. I pointed out that we could be in Belfast by then, so we got in the car and told our rumbly tummies to shut it. So glad we did! We checked into our hotel in Belfast - the Hotel Europa. It's notorious for being the most bombed hotel in the world. Let me tell you, when the fire alarm goes off, you get ready to leave. We had lunch across the street at the Crown Bar pub, which is over 150 years old and now a national landmark. We got in ten minutes before the kitchen closed, and even managed to grab a fancy booth. It was a great bar, and the meal was delicious.

Here is the beautiful bar!

Eileen and her Irish coffee, and the boys and their beers. I learned in Ireland that my husband enjoys DISGUSTINGLY bitter beers. They hurt my mouth.

Another shot of the bar.

Here is my delicious chicken and mushroom pie. I LOVE YOU. It was not, however, quite as good as my chicken pot pies (looked better though, definitely.)

We spent the rest of the day taking a taxi tour of Belfast. First we stopped and saw where Titanic was built, which was fun.

Here's the drydock.


The rest of the tour was very sobering. Belfast was basically a war zone until 2001, with Catholics and Protestants bombing each other's homes, burning down each other's neighborhoods and killing one another in the street. Joe, our tour guide, grew up in Belfast, and said that though he spent his Catholic childhood throwing rocks at police tanks, he also grew up with a Protestant man as his best friend. He says that the downtown center (where we were staying) was someplace that he would have not visited past 6pm years ago, and that there are still areas that are locked down around sunset, to prevent people from driving in with bombs.

This mural is dedicated to all of the places where the government oppresses its people (notice Frederick Douglass.)

This park is dedicated to all of the Catholics who were killed during the Troubles.

These are houses along the side of the peace wall, which separates some of the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. The houses have cages on the side of the them so that bombs thrown over the top of the wall won't land directly against their walls.

Another mural, to the IRA. There are a lot of these murals in both neighborhoods. Some are apparently being painted over and changed to less politically charged murals, but a lot still stand. The neighborhoods in question are mainly poor (and were back at the beginning of the Troubles) and drugs are a problem. Joe pointed out that a lot of the fight was not caused by differences in religion, but by struggles to get by in poor circumstances. It was really an amazing, and sad experience.

We spent our last day in Ireland driving up the east coast to visit the Giants Causeway, way up North. The drive was absolutely beautiful. We even got to see our friend Scotland off in the distance.

The Giants Causeway is the site of an old volcanic eruption. The rocks look like a staircase. The legend is that the Giant was building it so that he could get over to visit his lady friend in Scotland.

Here we are! It was a really nice walk - the smell of the sea was wonderful, and it wasn't that cold (especially walking up the huge hill back to the visitors center.)

Here's all of the rocks!

Here's where we climbed up like monkeys!

Here's the other side. If you can see, about midway along the ridge are the rocks that look like a pipe organ.

Here's the Giant's Boot. In Tim's BUTT!

Our last stop of the day was the ruins of a castle along the ocean. And when I say along the ocean, I mean right on the ocean's edge. At one point, the whole kitchen fell off into the water, while they were having a party. Not good. It was occupied by a Scottish clan until the 1700s.

Here's part of the ruins. This is the main house, where all of the entertaining went down.

You know, the usual bruddah cuddling.

It was pretty chilly out by the ocean. Jacob was nice enough to let me borrow his pocket, since my sweatshirt only has a pocket for my right hand.

And here's me being a bridge troll.

Despite the cold, and the propensity of rooms to fall into the sea, and the fact that the Scots who lived in the castle were constantly fighting the Irish, and the English, and each other, and then the English again, it was a really beautiful spot.

After touring the castle, it was time to head back for the Republic of Ireland, and SWORDS. We drove back through the middle of the country and saw a beautiful sunset on the way.

We had one last good meal in SWORDS and then headed to bed. Before we fell asleep, Tim and I watched Jig Gig on Irish TV, which is like the traditional Irish step dancing version of "So You Think You Can Dance." Only, most of the dancers seemed to have been pulled from local bars. They were not that great, and the comments from the judges were hilarious. Tim and I busted ourselves up laughing over it.

So now we are home. I am still way stuffed up, so I am working from home (or will be, once I finish this.) To what is probably my dad's horror, my office prefers us not to come in if we are sick, even if we're not running a fever, throwing up, or unable to move. I knew if I got up, got dressed and went in, the second my boss heard me blowing my nose, she'd send me back home to work. So work from home I will. Tim wasn't going to go in, but when he realized that I wasn't going to let him use my laptop all afternoon, he went into work for a bit (and will get his own laptop from his parents.) SUCKER.

We had such a great trip - I cannot believe it's over. It's definitely a place I'd like to visit again - I'd love to get a cabin in the countryside and just veg for a few days. It was great and wonderful and such a good family time.

Just a reminder - the blog is not over just because the trip is. While we were gone, our mortgage loan was approved, and we are ALL GO FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP. Don't leave now, or you will miss out.

Just remember, there are probably rats living in that ivy. Don't worry, mom and I have plans to rip that junk right out of the ground.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last Update from Ireland.

I have so many beautiful pictures to share and so many lovely stories to tell, but alas, not a lot of time, and not much of an internet connection. Last night we were in Belfast, at the Hotel Europa, which is the most bombed hotel in all the world. You know what's unsettling? Having a fire alarm go off while you are in the most bombed hotel in the world. Thankfully, a false alarm. You would think the most bombed hotel in the world would have better internet connection, but theirs was the worst wireless yet (and most expensive) and so this morning, I had to get my news from the concierge desk (the man was nice enough to let me use his computer for a moment... and ruin my morning. Now all of my hope goes back to my boyfriend Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.)

Tonight we're in Swords. That's right, you heard me, SWORDS. It's only 15 minutes away from the airport, so it will make our getaway tomorrow quite easy. The hotel has cheap (but not free internet.) The only real downside is that the jack in Tim and I's room is broken, so I had to borrow the one in Jake's room, and basically kick him out so that I could Skype. He and Tim are doubtlessly watching some ridiculous action movie in our room. Though they are probably enjoying themselves (or kissing, you never know with those two bruddahs) I don't want to bogart his room for very much longer. That is my long winded way of saving that the last few days of our travelogue will have to wait until we are back in good old American soil.

It's hard to believe the trip is almost over. It's amazing how much of the island we've seen - from the big cities to the little towns. From the Dingle peninsula to the northern most point (where we drove today.) We've seen a lot of castles and murals and ruins and churches, and we had a lot of good meals and some great company. The landscape has been absolutely beautiful and the weather has been amazingly good. And Don, despite a few scares here in and there, has not killed anyone (human or animal) or rammed the car into anything. Mostly importantly, we are all still on speaking terms after 12 straight days together. That's what family is all about!

I leave you with two quick pictures.

This is the view from the front of Grandpa Fitzpatrick's house. You can see why it would make someone want to move to America. OR NOT. I am totally going to move into the little cottage up the hill for the summer.

Here are the worldly travelers, at the Crown Bar in Belfast, one of Europe's best pubs (apparently.) The booth has a little door so you can get drunk and snuggle.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Time When We Skipped a Day

Yes, it's true. We've reached the point in the trip when I no longer know what day it is. Thank goodness my watch is keeping good time, because it's basically become the only reliable source for date, day and time. We've also reached the point on the trip where I'd pay $100 for a clean pair of pants and a new sweatshirt (the laundry isn't done in our hotel on Sunday, otherwise I'd pay whatever they charge to launder some stuff. In fact, it's too cold right now but I'm wearing a skirt because it's not a dirty pair of jeans.) I'd also pay $100 for a plate of $3 Sushi Mac sushi.

BUT ENOUGH WHINING. We are having an amazing trip.

Here's a parting shot of Dingle.

After our ring-a-ling-a-dingle day, we had to pack up and leave our lovely hosts at the Milton House in Dingle, and head over to Lisdoonvarna. Lisdoonvarna is famous for having an entire month of match making each year, where single people pour into town to try to fall in love. Unfortunately, it's the month of September, so Jake did not hook up with any single, toothy Irish lasses.

Instead of taking the land route, we took a ferry to Shannon. It's a car ferry and only took about 20 minutes. The weather was gross, but it was a quick trip. Here's the beautiful sea.

On our drive over we stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, where everyone was freezing. It's WINDY there, to say the least. Basically, we got out the car, swore, shivered and put on two sweatshirts each (I wore my pink one and one of Tim's, and he wore his UCLA hoodie and one of his dad's shirts. Sad and shivering.) The view is worth the cold though - it was absolutely beautiful.

Check me, I'm a fashion plate!

When we got to Lisdoonvarna we had possibly the worst meal ever (thumbs up to the Irish coffee and the fries, thumbs down to just about everything else, including the service. Note to fellow travlers: the Ritz in Lisdoonvarna is not as good as the Ritz in other places.) We went back to our B&B and I basically passed out for a nap. Sorry we didn't post yesterday - the internet was down in the hotel, despite Tim's best efforts to hack it.

The hotel owner recommended a restaurant at an inn down the street, the Wild Honey Inn. We headed over there and had a really fabulous meal. One of the things that I find interesting is almost every restaurant - including the dumpy pubs - lists where their meat, fish and veg come from. Usually in the states, you only see that in really fancy restaurants, or restaurants that tout their committment to sustainable farming. Here, everything has been really fresh and delicious (except for lunch at the Ritz, obviously.) From there, we went to a little pub and heard some traditional music. It was just two dudes, one with a fiddle and one with a flute, playing to suit themselves. We had a drink and listened for awhile before bed. There was another party going on in the town square, but they had a drum machine and were blasting 80s hits. We were worried that Jake would get led astray by a drunk, hard-looking Irish girl with a cig hanging out of her mouth. That's who seemed to be out there singing along when we walked by on our way home.

Here's the cute little town.

Poor Jacob.

Funny - last night around 3:30 we got to hear some of our fellow travelers arrive home. One girl was just BAWLING and yelling - something about how she got bad directions and it had taken her forever to find the B&B. And when I say bawling, I mean, crying so hard that you'd think someone she loved dearly had just died. She sobbed loudly for about a half hour while her friends told her to quiet down. They were in the room across from Jake's, and did not come down to breakfast this morning, surprisingly. I stomped around a little outside of their room when we checked out this morning at 9. They sounded American, so they win the Ugly American Award for October 3rd.

So today was our long day of driving. Along the way, we got to chase cows with the car. Funny - Don slams on the brakes and comes to a dead stop when he sees another car coming the opposite way on a narrow lane. But if there is an animal ahead of us, or a human being on a pedal bike, he totally guns it towards their back end. It's pretty amusing.

We made it to the Boyne Valley in the north of Ireland (but not North Ireland) around 3pm, and went over to see Newgrange. It's a monument built by Neolithic people, approximately 5,000 years ago. It's this huge mound with a doorway for people and then an opening above that lets sun shine through to the back of the tomb on the shortest day of each year. The chamber is made of huge stones, which were quarried in from miles away, and placed without mortar. The chamber has been mostly untouched since it was built, 2,000 years before Christ, and the entire chamber is covered with more than 200,000 tons of earth and stone. It's one of several burial mounds in the Boyne Valley, but this is the only one where the sunlight comes through its own opening. We were able to walk all the way to the inside of the chamber, and then they turn out all of the lights and show what it would be like when the sun comes in. It was a really amazing place to visit, and we had a great guide who obviously loves explaining the story of the monument to visitors. Francis had recommended we visit it, and I'm so glad she did. It would have been a pity to miss.

Here's the mound. They reglued all of those stones there - the mound was abandoned for thousands of years.

The space above that rock is where the sun shines through. The walk down the passageway is a leetle narrow and the ceilings are low. But I could still walk without ducking through most of it.

Here's the beautiful Boyne Valley. We had FANASTIC weather today for our drive across the land. See that little hill in the middle of the field? It's an unexcavated mound. It's a little baby one that they hope to someday open up when technology is better and funding abounds.

Tonight we are staying in Drogheda, which is a big city compared to some of the places we've been as of late. Tomorrow we're off to see Grandpa Fitzpatrick's farm, and then we're off to Belfast.

Lastly, a funny from dinner. As you may know, Jacob is a terrible Irish descendant and does not eat potatoes (except fries.) Tonight at dinner Don got boiled potatoes with his meal. Eileen goes, "do you want a boiled potato Jacob?" and he goes, "yeah, die." THAT IS NOT NICE. Eileen ate a boiled potato in honor of her ancestors, she will have you know.

Hopefully, more tomorrow.