Galway Girl

This is post #6 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts:

#1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,

#2, Ireland: Dreams Come True,

#3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland,

#4, Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, and the fairy village, and

#5, The Gorgeous Cliffs of Moher.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“Your feet will bring you where your heart is.”–Irish Proverb

beach in Galway, Ireland
beach in Galway, Ireland

One of my favorite romantic “chic flics” is PS: I Love You, starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank. Shortly after Gerry (Gerald) first meets Holly (Hillary), he plays his guitar in a bar and sings to her the fun Irish song Galway Girl.

Gerry & Holly in PS: I Love You
Gerry & Holly in PS: I Love You

I love the song and I couldn’t wait to go to Galway on my and Leah’s first trip to Ireland. I just had a feeling it would be a fun place, and it was! Galway was Leah’s and my favorite city in Ireland!

Leah, being a violinist, loved all the street musicians. We are definitely a “Galway Girl”!

One young man played the guitar in the town center and he was amazing. We stood and listened for awhile. He reminded me of the musical prodigy in the movie August Rush.

Galway guitarist
Galway guitarist

Unfortunately, when Leah came home and tried to transfer her pics and videos to her computer, she lost all her street musician videos! She was so frustrated with herself (thank goodness, she didn’t lose her photos! She took over 600!). I told her we’ll just have to go back so she can video them again. We both want to return to gorgeous Ireland!

We stayed at the lovely Abbeyville B & B in Freeport Barna, Co. Galway, owned by Bernadette, who is an artist. I deliberately chose this B & B, as our daughter Leah is an amazing, self-taught artist. All the B & B’s we stayed at in Ireland were very clean and neat, which I loved and was so thankful for!

wall art
wall art

 

art from B & B owner in Galway
art from B & B owner in Galway

 

Abbeyville B & B, Galway
Abbeyville B & B, Galway

 

Abbeyville bathroom
Abbeyville bathroom

When Leah was three years old, she would lay on her tummy and color and draw with crayons. When she was older, my husband Ray bought her a graphic art tablet. I homeschooled her throughout the twelve years of her education, and Leah honed her craft and now is enrolled in a digital art, online college program to achieve her Bachelor’s degree.

Leah enjoyed talking with the owner Bernadette about her art, some of which she has displayed locally. I believe this was a Divine appointment from God, as Bernadette encouraged Leah to pursue her art interest and to display and sell it online! Leah does have her own online store here.

Driveway at Abbeyville
Driveway at Abbeyville

One unique technique that Bernadette enjoys painting with is melted bee’s wax. She showed us some of her projects, and they were beautiful, textured with vibrant colors. 

I was so proud of Leah doing her classwork even as we were vacationing in Ireland! While she worked on her homework, I sat outside at a glass patio table. I admired the gorgeous blooming flowers and the lush, green plant life and trees everywhere, journaled, and created my first video in Ireland. I’ll upload it later and add the link here! It felt surreal to be in Ireland!

Beautiful fresh flowers
Beautiful fresh flowers

 

Journaling outside
Journaling outside

All the B & B’s provided coffee pots/tea makers in the room. Leah made us tea, with our cookies. One way we saved money in Ireland was to buy groceries sometimes, instead of eating out at restaurants.

At the grocery store, Leah bought a sandwich, sour cream and onion potato chips, and a chocolate mint bar, and I got a salad, salt and vinegar potato chips, and a Galaxy chocolate bar, which was delicious Irish chocolate!

Pubs are often more reasonably priced than the restaurants, so we frequently ate lunch at the pubs. This was fun. You’ll find pubs in almost every town, even the remote places. Some of the pubs play live music. They all offer alcohol, including the infamous Guinness beer (which neither Leah or I tried! I hate beer!)

The King’s Head is a famous, 800-year-old historic pub in Ireland.  It is supposedly the building given as payment to Richard Gunning for beheading King Charles I. No, we didn’t eat there!

The King's Head pub
The King’s Head pub

 

Deli/grocery
Deli/grocery

 

Chips and chocolate
Chips and chocolate

Bernadette served a wonderful, full Irish breakfast, which included delicious home-made scones with jam. Leah and I enjoyed having a French press coffee maker just for us at our table.

Fresh fruit & yogurt
Fresh fruit & yogurt

 

French press coffee maker
French press coffee maker

Bernadette was such a friendly, welcoming hostess. She encouraged us to go view the Atlantic Ocean on Salthill Promenade. I’d already read before coming to Ireland that parking was a big problem, especially in big cities, but on this busy street there is free parking on the side of the road! 

The Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean

 

Galway beach
Galway beach

 

The Atlantic, Galway
The Atlantic, Galway

It was overcast and windy, and it began to sprinkle, so the cute, comfortable, and practical raincoats I’d bought me and Leah came in handy that day. I found my blue, gently used one for only $7.99 at a thrift store and got Leah’s navy blue one on sale at Amazon. We got some great pics of each other by the ocean. It was very peaceful there.

The Atlantic Ocean beach
The Atlantic Ocean beach

 

big rocks on Galway beach
big rocks on Galway beach

Leah couldn’t believe that people were actually swimming in the water and said the water must be cold. 

In the pic below, you can see a swimmer behind me in the water, staring at the camera. Leah gets upset with me for taking photos of random people, but they often make the best pics!

In the other pic, I love how the woman’s sneakers made footprints on the wet sand as she walked. It reminds me of the poem Footprints.

Swimmer in ocean
Swimmer in ocean

 

Leah at beach in Galway in her rain jacket
Leah at beach in Galway in her rain jacket

 

me in my blue rain jacket in Galway on the beach
me in my blue rain jacket in Galway on the beach

 

Random woman walking on the beach in Galway
Random woman walking on the beach in Galway

I thought these pictures of Leah looking out at the Atlantic Ocean were poignant and powerful. She also took one of me, without me knowing about it. 

Leah looking out at the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland
Leah looking out at the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland

 

Leah looking at the ocean on Salthill Promenade
Leah looking at the ocean on Salthill Promenade

 

Leah walking on the beach
Leah walking on the beach

 

me looking out at Atlantic ocean in Galway
me looking out at Atlantic ocean in Galway

The beach is my place of peace and refilling. Leah liked the seagulls on the beach; she loves any kind of animal.

The ocean is my place of peace.
The ocean is my place of peace.

 

seagull on Galway beach
seagull on Galway beach

Leah and I saw a telescope on the sidewalk and looked through it to see a ship and an island across the ocean, which had houses. The telescope cost a couple of Euros coins, like parking does in most places. 

Leah putting Euro coins in telescope
Leah putting Euro coins in telescope

 

Leah looking through telescope
Leah looking through telescope

We ate a delicious sidewalk cafe in Galway called The Quay Street Kitchen that I’d read great reviews about, where Leah tried her first Irish fish and chips (she liked it). This was one of the funnest, most peaceful times we had there, eating delicious food and people-watching in Galway.

Our waiter was brand new, and did a fabulous job waiting on us. At the table right next to us, a young couple dined together. In the background on the sidewalks Irish music played, which Leah noted. 

It again felt surreal, to be eating at an outdoor cafe in Ireland! I felt so happy sitting there with my sweet, beautiful daughter Leah. God is so good!

The Quay Street Kitchen
The Quay Street Kitchen

When I visit Ireland again (I am praying to go back!), I would love to stay in Galway several days. I wanted to stay in Galway much longer, but it was beginning to rain so Leah suggested that we leave to drive to our next B & B.

In my next post in this Ireland blog series, I’ll share more about Galway’s town center.

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The gift of dreaming

“If God cares about us and delights in us and therefore cares about the things we care about as a Father cares for the joy in His children, then we can exhale…He put the very ability to long in my soul. He gave me the gift of dreaming so I could have vision in this life.”–Sarah Mae, Longing for Paris

woman on beach
woman on beach

Summer is in full swing here in Missouri, with 3-digit temps some days, making even my husband Ray who hates snow long for cooler days. I look longingly at my friends’ beach pics on Facebook, their pretty painted toenails in the sand. The beach is my place of peace and refilling, and I miss and crave it in my soul.

When I was a child, every summer our family took vacations at the beach in Florida. My home town of Valdosta, GA, is about the last stop you can make in Georgia before you see that “Welcome to Florida” sign.

Several times we went to the idyllic Jekyll Island in Georgia, as my dad’s Civitan Club conventions were held there. But we also tried other beaches in Florida, such as Daytona and Panama City, where the current is so strong that you feel as if you’re going to be sucked right under the surface of the waves and carried out to sea, forever lost.

purple sky and ocean
Ocean

At the beach, my usually reserved father, a workaholic in his home business as a CPA, finally relaxed. He’d drink some beers, looking out on the ocean at night under the moonlight, and he’d actually laugh–a rare event. And when he relaxed and laughed, my mother–an overweight, stressed-out, usually screaming woman on the verge of madness–would laugh, too, and they might even hold hands on the patio. One time we kids actually saw them kiss, and I was shocked as they never did this at home in front of us. We all giggled. 

During the day, we’d head for the beach, my mother making us slather our bodies with sunscreen, and my older brother Greg yelling, “Last one in is a rotten egg!” as he dove with exuberance in the waves. One year on the beach, Greg got stung on the foot by a jellyfish; they seemed to be everywhere in the water and on shore that year. While the sting was painful, he recovered and was okay.

jellyfish Image source: Pinterest-gacpr.com
jellyfish
Image source: Pinterest-gacpr.com

Another year, we thought that Greg had drowned to death, as the strong current and a giant wave suddenly snatched him underneath the sinister surface. I recall the frightened calls of my parents, “Greg! Greg!”, as they frantically searched for him, and suddenly he reappeared out of the ocean like a Loch Ness monster, looking larger than life, but red-eyed and sputtering salty water. Thank God he was alive!

It wasn’t the only time that God spared his life. Years later, he was hit by a drunk driver when Greg was riding a motorcycle. He was in a coma for days, doctors unsure if he would ever wake up and not knowing the extent of any brain or internal injuries. 

Motorcycle accident
Image source: Google

When Greg was in the coma, it was one of the few times in my life that I remember my dad, a strong, prideful, independent man, ever crying. I was at our high school’s prom when the accident happened; or at least, I was supposed to be there. My boyfriend and I were doing what was called “parking” back then, in a dark driveway by the town’s football field, when my boyfriend’s dad drove past us and spotted his son’s car. He’d been driving all over town to find us, to let me know about Greg’s critical accident; my parents had called him to find my whereabouts when I wasn’t at the high school.

Remembering his own high school days, he had a hunch what we might be doing, and found us just by a fluke. Imagine our surprise when he parked on the side of the road, got out of his car, and tapped loudly on the car window, interrupting us!

When he told me that my brother had been critically injured in a car accident, we rushed to the hospital. As I walked frightened into the ICU room, my father was furious with me, demanding to know where I’d been instead of at the prom. At the moment, my “activities” with my boyfriend (which were innocent enough as we’d only been kissing) seemed to be more important to him than my brother laying on his possible deathbed.

IV needle Image source: Google
IV needle
Image source: Google

But then the doctor came in, and my father’s and my mother’s attention turned back to him and their oldest son, Greg. I stared in shock at my pale brother, with whom I was close friends back then. He was hooked up to a lot of machines that blinked and beeped ominously, the IV needle stuck in his vein and the fluids flowing into his limp body. Yet he looked peaceful and asleep. 

My brother Greg (middle), with his beautiful Russian wife (left) and my sister Maria (right)
My brother Greg (middle), with his beautiful Russian wife Ilona (left) and my sister Maria (right)

Miraculously, Greg awoke several days later from the coma, his life spared and although he was shaken, he was fine. He sued the drunk driver, and they settled in court for thousands of dollars. Today he is a successful business man, married to a beautiful woman from Russia with a grown stepson, and is a Presbyterian minister, preaching the gospel of Christ. God protected and saved him for a glorious purpose. 

But I digress…back to the beach vacation days! I’d walk on the wet shore, collecting sea shells to take home, wanting to forever preserve the memory of the beach. Why couldn’t we just stay here? I loved the beauty of the ocean and the sunset, smelling the salt in the air, and hearing the waves as I lay on a towel, warm sand on my feet.

At night, I slept restfully because we kids had played hard, delighted to wake up to the sound of the ocean the next morning and anticipating more fun swimming in it that day after breakfast. By lunch we were famished. Mama usually brought groceries on the trip so that we could save money, and we’d devour our sandwiches and chips. It was hard to wait the hour following lunch; mama claimed we’d “get cramps” if we swam too soon after eating. 

Daddy would usually take us out to eat at one nice seafood restaurant during the vacation, the highlight of the trip for my mother, as well as her being able to swim in the ocean. She had been an excellent swimmer in high school and swam effortlessly as a mermaid in the water.

Mermaid Image source: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-mermaids-realI
Mermaid
Image source: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-mermaids-real

Mama seemed to feel young and sexy again in her one-piece swimsuit, diving under the waves, and letting her greatly freckled skin dry in the sun–but not too long, as she and us kids seemed to burn so easily. We’d usually get burned anyway, and mama would rub Noxema or something to cool down our skin. The fun seemed so worth it!

Never stop dreaming

My dad and my sister Maria had olive complexions and would get dark, and I’d be envious of her, walking around in her itty-bitty bikini, sporting her new tan. But nothing could take away my happiness completely, because we were at the beach, our once a year, only, fun vacation. The stuff dreams are made of.

I’m reading a book right now by Sarah Mae called Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure–Right Where She Is. She’s a wife and a busy mom of young kids; Sarah dreams of traveling to Paris. Me, too–and of every continent!

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”–Susan Sontag

Sarah Mae still hasn’t gone to Paris, even after writing this book! I confess that I am frustrated about this. The reasons are never really clear–the expense? Because she has kids and we all know that moms can’t travel to exotic places? Who really knows why?–but I understand. I’d be traveling all over the world to many nations right now if only I had the money to do so!

Traveling woman Image source: Google
Traveling woman
Image source: Google

Still, what is stopping me from saving every single dime until we have enough money for me (and/or my husband and our kids) to go where we want? 

Sarah writes:

“We give our dreams and longings to God, trusting Him to do as He pleases, knowing He cares about us, our growth, and our total trust in Him…We recognize our longings are in us for a deeper purpose.”

“Use your imagination…go on, close your eyes and dream. What would you do if you could go to Paris (or another place that calls to your heart)? What would you want to see?”

 

I’ve actually been to Paris…twice. Once in high school with my French teacher and our class. It was the first time I’d ever tried champagne or any alcohol, and I confess that I got drunk with my classmates, because I didn’t realize how potent alcohol was! My French teacher, Mrs. Gandy, threatened to kill me if I told my mother and father. To this day, I hardly ever drink, except a glass of sweet, red wine over dinner with Ray once in a blue moon.

I was enthralled with the Eiffel Tower (it’s beautiful, fascinating, and so tall!), the gorgeous art in Le Louvre musem (especially the Mona Lisa; I stared for an hour at her), and I loved dipping the French bread into hot chocolate in the morning!

Eiffel Tower Image source: https://viralrang.com/5-reasons-visit-eiffel-tower/
Eiffel Tower
Image source: https://viralrang.com/5-reasons-visit-eiffel-tower/

And once, speed forward years, I went to Paris again on Ray’s and my 10th wedding anniversary trip. We traveled there briefly by train when we flew to Europe, renting a car and driving all over Switzerland.

We stopped for a couple of days in Italy, France, and an unheard of place called Lichtenstein, which borders Switzerland and Austria. There at a beautiful castle on a high hill, I boldly and secretly buried a piece of paper with a Scripture in the ground, proclaiming the word over the area.

Ray said we couldn’t walk around inside, since it didn’t look open to the public. (We found out later that the Princely family lives there!) After I furtively buried the Scripture in the ground, immediately a strong wind blew through, and I realized I had probably stirred up some demonic principalities of the air! But God’s word had been prophesied over this nation!

French bread Image source: Google
French bread
Image source: Google

In Paris for the second time, I cried seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa again, and I simply couldn’t get enough French bread baked with chocolate and French cheese. In many of our pictures from this trip, you see me standing in line for chocolate bread! Sometimes I’ll buy baguettes and French cheese to recreate the feeling of being in Paris again, an idea of wishing, which Sarah Mae encourages in her book Longing for Paris.

“Grab your kids and hunt for something French! Maybe you will discover the best croissant in your town together. Or maybe it will be the best macaron. Take a side trip to the library and check out The Little Prince or Madeline or The Story of Babar–adventurous tales with a French twist.”

For me personally, it’s not enough to pretend to go to Paris, eating the Americanized version of French bread (the baguette is actually much thinner and longer) with imported French cheeseI want the real thing.

Beth Jones- Jasper National Park, Canada
Me when I traveled across Canadian Rockies by train Jasper Park, Canada

I want to truly travel abroad all over the world! I believe dreaming is a gift from God and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, just like we as parents want to make our own children happy and laughing.

I believe it’s important to never give up your dreams and to go for them, as much as possible. God can miraculously make the way for them to become true!

woman in bonjour shirt
Woman in Bonjour shirt & skirt

Sarah writes, “When my son draws me a picture, he is so excited to give it to me, not just so that I can see his talent, but because he loves me and wants me to take pleasure in it. This is what God does with us; He wants us to take pleasure in the beauty He’s made and in the gifts He endows us with.”

Never stop dreaming; never give up. Be the girl (or guy) who goes for it!

Woman with camera
Woman with camera

What is your big dream? Remember that NOTHING is impossible with God? To be encouraged to go for it, check out my book, The Cinderella Story: The Power of Dreams, at Amazon, by clicking here.

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Leah riding the KC Streetcar for the first time

Earlier this summer I rode the Kansas City Streetcar for the first time with our daughter Heather. It was such a blast, and I wanted to do it again and take our daughter Leah, who had never ridden it.

Kansas City Streetcar
Kansas City Streetcar

Although summer is the peak time, especially for the Kansas City Market with its bounty of fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and vendor tables, the streetcar runs all year long. It is also free and so much fun!

When I asked Leah what she thought of the ride, she said in her calm, easy-going, non-emotional, Leah-like way: “It’s a streetcar.” LOL! But she said she liked it. 

Leah riding the KC Streetcar
Leah riding the KC Streetcar

Leah recently had her hair cut in a modified pixie. She said it took her a long time to decide to cut her hair short, but she’s so glad she did. Here’s a better picture of her than the one above. She’s so beautiful!

Beautiful Leah with her pixie cut
Beautiful Leah with her pixie cut

The KC City Market was surprisingly empty, compared to this summer when I went with Heather, although there was some fresh flowers, produce, and the international restaurants (Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese) open.

KC City Market looked bare!
KC City Market looked bare!

These giant daisy flowers were gorgeous and unique at one flower vendor!

Giant daisies
Giant daisies

 

Flower vendor
Flower vendor

 

These tall, colorful giraffes and big zebra at the flower vendor were unique! I asked Leah why anyone would buy these, especially since the smaller giraffe cost $150. She said, “Because it’s artsy.” (She’s an artist.)

Tall giraffe
Tall giraffe

 

Zebra
Zebra

 

A Marine (Navy corpsman) for over 14 years in the military and gifted in spiritual warfare, I thought my husband Ray would like the medieval knight. He’s always been fascinated by this time period in history.

Medieval knight
Medieval knight

The market had some fresh produce, although not nearly what there is the summer time, such as pumpkins, peppers, and strawberries. 

Pumpkins
Pumpkins

 

Peppers
Peppers

 

Strawberries & cilantro
Strawberries & cilantro

An animal lover, Leah enjoyed seeing a variety of dogs at the market. (You do have to keep them on leashes!) We both enjoyed talking with the funny, chatty streetcar security guard named Sierra, which is also the name of a calico cat Leah used to own. Sierra the guard is a single mom of a one year old daughter, and has a fiance’ in prison. She said she told him if this relationship doesn’t work out, she’s finding a new man. 

When Sierra found out where Leah lived, she told her about the Salvation Army store which has a 50 cent sale each Monday. She’s bought her daughter lots of clothes and toys there. She was so surprised to find out that Leah was almost 23 years old, thinking she was still a teen living at home. We laughed at Sierra’s expression of shock, and she reassured Leah that when she gets older she will “look good and much younger.”

Jazz player
Jazz player

 

Couple at cafe table
Couple at cafe table

You can see all walks of life in Kansas City, like this senior citizen woman with heavily-tattooed arms. 

Tattoo lady
Tattoo lady

There’s lots of international restaurants at the City Market and cute coffee cafes, but Leah didn’t want to try them. So we had Mexican for supper, which is a favorite for both of us. (I’m addicted to chips and salsa!)

We usually go to Jose Pepper’s for lunch every couple of weeks for a “mom-daughter” date, but this time we ate at another Mexican place in Raymore, MO.

I’m so glad we did this, as it wasn’t very crowded and it enabled us to talk (without having to shout to each other and we could hear). The salsa was also delicious!

Chips and salsa
Chips and salsa

 

As we ate, Ray texted me that the weather prediction was a severe thunderstorm with winds up to 60 mph and to be careful. He had just worked a rollover car wreck. Thinking of the recent hurricanes (although we don’t have hurricanes in the mid-west, but we do have tornadoes!), I asked our other daughter Heather if I could spend the night, as we were close to her house. I hate driving in storms, but it wasn’t a good time then for me to stay over.

My own daughter didn’t care if I was driving into a tornado? Just kidding. Heather thought I’d be okay if I left then; she wouldn’t really refuse if she thought I was in grave danger!

As I drove the 50 miles to my house, God encouraged me with a “sign” of His protection and promise: not only a rainbow, but a double rainbow, which I’ve never seen before!

It really blessed me. Thankfully, although there was bad lightning, I arrived safely home. It’s a little hard to see the double rainbow in the second picture, but I did get it on camera.

Rainbow
Rainbow

 

Double rainbow
Double rainbow

Then today, Ray went out of town for a dental appointment and brought me home Mexican wedding cookies and milk chocolate from the International Market store. The chocolate is divine!

I’m allowing myself just a couple of the cookies and sending them with him to his work for others to eat!

Mexican wedding cookies & chocolate
Mexican wedding cookies & chocolate

It was so much fun riding the streetcar with my daughter Leah on her day off work.

You can easily explore Kansas City riding it. It has 16 platform tracks and 2 miles of track. There’s plenty of places to park along the way, although in some places you have to pay to park. I don’t advise using the parking meters on the streets if you want to spend a lot of time at the market. (I paid $10 at a parking garage that day.) I used my iPhone’s GPS to get there, as I’m very directionally challenged!

You can find out more information about it here.

What is left on your bucket list this year? Keep adding to it and doing fun things! Leave your comments below.

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