Category Archives: Random Katness

Mayo, Day Twelve

Gorgeous, gorgeous day. Breezy, brisk and blue. BW and I take a nice long walk around, through the forest, down the paths, around the gardens. The trees here are beyond magnificent, huge and fantastically shaped, some with branches I couldn’t span with both arms.

We head back to see the horses, and one’s by his lonesome in the stall. He watches us come as if to say: Come keep me company for a bit.

Keeping company. Photo by Nora

So we do.

Across from the stables spreads an island of rusty red hydrangea. I’ve never seen them this color—not pink, not rose, but red. I think they came out pinkish in my photo, but they’re red. 

I want some for my own!

A mare and a gelding—a white, a bay—munch, munch, munch grass in the pasture. Very focused on it. The bay stops only to scratch his back against a pole.

Photo by BW

We circle around back and spot a hawk walk group. The two falcons soar right over us, one low enough to just brush BW’s hat. They’re magnificent. We’ll be having our time with them Monday.

Jason’s got a night cough that’s kept him awake, and Griffin finally hit the I’m-really-tired wall. So while they take a serious morning nap, BW and I have a drink in the tea room. I order a mimosa.

It’s, hands down, the most amazing mimosa in the history of mimosas. Orange juice so fresh it deserves a good slap.

I enjoy every leisurely drop and wonder how I’ll ever drink another now that I know what I know.

Since the boys are still down and out, BW and I head to Cong. It’s such a pretty village, so proud of its The Quiet Man heritage. Steep, steep, narrow sidewalks take us up and up, and around to where a shop I loved sat. But it’s there no more. I’m so sorry about this as they had lovely things, interesting art, wonderful crafts.

But around we go again, and Kat texts they’re on their way. So it’s lunch, and we let them know where—at a very fine bar on the main road.

By the time they join us we’re ready to dig in. A high chair for the baby—Jason had said he didn’t think they’d have one because bar. I said, Ireland—and a colorful high chair is provided for the hungry boy.

A fine lunch, then a little shopping—and I spot ice cream. The boy and I will have some.

Up the steep, narrow sidewalk we go with Griffin sharing my ice cream and his mama wiping his mouth.

Then it’s back up the pretty, road, by the water—where we stop for Griffin to have his water fix. Happy! And on and up with those wonderful trees lining the road, past the curve and the stone church, and up and the land opens for the castle view.

Along the river. Photo by Kat

What a sight it makes.

On by the gates and in. The boy wants another nap. He’s had a busy couple of weeks.

So a lazy hour or so until he wakes ready to play.

We have a fire in the parlor which interests him—so I have him sit with me for safety. He can watch it from my lap, and since I solved the Beach Body issue, enjoy some mash ups.

We’ve decided on room service—give the boy an at home dinner.

We have it in K&J’s room as they have a bigger table. The waitstaff proves wonderful, cheerful as they manage to set up a dinner for five, entertaining Griffin.

A nice easy—delicious meal—quickly and efficiently cleared.

Griffin and I must have our nightly game of tickle and chase.

I decide to turn in early as today’s a big day. Slept like a rock for nearly eight hours. That’s seriously sleeping for me.

Hope my bigger boy got a solid night, too.

Up and about ready for the Little Brown team, and the tea. So looking forward to meeting the readers who’ll be there.

Looks bright and breezy out again. So happy with the weather.

Nora


#Randomkatness goes to the dogs

Kerry to Mayo, Day 11

We start out right on time and in wet weather. Wet or not, it’s a pretty drive. Griffin takes a ten minute bat nap, then enjoys the ride. Into Cork and in and out of rain and brightening skies. 

Lovely green hills dotted with sheep and cows and horses, divided by lines of clumpy green shrubs. Windy roads. Ooh, a big hay lorry, but Kat’s doing just fine.

We stop for diesel, and find a friendly orange tabby sleeping on the roof of a car for let. She wakes to greet us—thrill the boy, and ribbon through my legs for a pet and stroke.

Is it #randomkatness if Kat takes the photo of a cat?

Fueled up, and off we go. Now Griffin sings himself into a solid 50 minute nap while we weave our way into Clare. We’re heading for Tulla—Jason with navigation on his phone, BW with a map. Rising, rising, rolling hills, lovely farms and wide stretches of pasture.

I adore Clare. It’s the first place I visited in Ireland so long ago, and it woke that sense memory instantly. Ah yes, of course, this is one of my places. I know the light, the air. 

BW and I have been in this area often, but not on this particular route. We recognize the names of towns, remember time spent in them. It’s brighter now, that sweet luminous light. 

The boy wakes as we come into Tulla, and with Jason Googling find a stop for lunch at a place called Flapper’s.

Lunch spot. Photo by BW

It’s just right.

Irish veg soup and chips for me with a glass of house white that’s very nice indeed. We eat very well, stretch our legs a bit, and grab a few provisions from the market next door.

We made this detour to go by the land we bought years back—and Jason’s nav takes us right down the skinny road between the high hedgerows and bright orange flowers to the gate.

Hedgerows and skinny road. Photo by Kat

We have about five acres of green here on a lovely lake we lease to a farmer for pasture. It’s great to see it again, to show Griffin, and remember closing the deal with a handshake on the side of the road.

Family portrait by the land in Tulla. Photo by BW

Then we’re back in the car—another nap for Griffin, and into Galway.

Softer here, I always think, pastoral and peaceful, with those fields divided by gorgeous stone walls. It’s definitely brighter with blue pushing into the sky here and there, and actual sunlight burning through.

And now Mayo, and signs for Cong at last. 

Griffin wakes in time for the stop at the gate at Ashford and the drive through the deep forest. The castle stretches and rises up ahead, facing the water with its little green humps of islands.

And we’re home.

If I have any stress in me, it always fades off at Ashford.

Iron Dog/Delighted Boy faceoff. Photo by Kat

It’s beautiful, the staff wonderful and warm.

We’re taken straight to our rooms, and though we don’t have that family cottage here, we have a pair of suites that basically adjoin, so our own little enclave. 

There’s champagne on ice—and thank you more than words for that!—gorgeous flowers from the Little Brown team.

Unpacking to do. I’ve bunged up my wrist—likely lifting a certain young man—so that’s mostly on BW. Better today with some pampering, and that’s a relief.

I find a gift from the Little Brown team, and am simply thrilled. I have a beautiful bespoke scarf made just for me. I adore scarves, and this one’s stunning and soft, and will be worn often, treasured always.

Scarf designed by Lou Brennan. Photo by BW

We settle in, orient ourselves and change for dinner in The Dungeon. 

I have to say I’m amazed with Griffin. I’ve never traveled like this with such a young one, and he’s so easy, so cheerful. I have to think he must wonder now and then: Where the hell are we now? But he rolls with it.

And finds, naturally, another pretty waitress to flirt with, other diners to charm. He still manages to eat hearty. As do we all.

There’s live music tonight, and BW’s up for it. I’m simply not, so I turn in as he goes off to listen.

He’s full of the band this morning, so it was time well spent for him. As the eight hours sleep was for me.

Ready to go, Nana! Photo by Kat

Workout done, though I had to dig into my vid library and my Beach Body app won’t let me in today. We’ll deal with that later.

It’s a blue sky, sunny day. The water’s blue in response, and I watched landscapers planting more flowers early.

Going to clean up, walk around, hopefully down to Cong.

It’s a gorgeous day in a gorgeous place. 

Don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness — more Dog/Boy!

Such a cheery list of services!

Kerry, Day Nine

Time to venture out, and to one of my favorite spots. Since the road to Torc Waterfall is especially windy, BW and I switch positions—so I avoid car sickness.

Both Kat and I suffer from it, so she’s behind the wheel, and I’m front seat passenger.

It’s a gorgeous drive. Some rain, some sun as we wind along with Magillicuddy Reeks rising and spreading, the land below vivid green, dotted with sheep—and goats. 

The hills go rockier and rougher for a wonderfully wild view, and at a view—Ladies View—we pull off for a look.

The view. Photo by BW

What a look, there’s miles and miles of green and rises, the spread of steel blue water below clumped with green knuckles of tiny islands. It’s all windswept, managing to be dramatic and pastoral at once.

What catches me is a huge old tree with big, curved branches spreading low, dipping over the ground and the rocks it grows out of. Or the rocks grow out of it, that’s the beauty.

I know immediately this will find its way into the next trilogy I’m mulling. We take pictures as the boy sleeps in the car with Jason and Kat taking turns sitting with him.

And now we wait for the book. Comment by Laura/Photo by j a-b
The sweep of land. Photo by j a-b
Yes, BW is really that tall. Comment by Laura/ Photo by j a-b

Back on the road and we pass another spot that grabbed me years back and became The Valley Of Silence in my Circle Trilogy. That wide, deep dive of land, the spears and tables of rock inside it, the majesty and grumbling desolation of it still grabs.

And on we go. The road narrows, narrows until it’s as skinny and sinuous as a snake. In and out of tunnels carved into the rocky cliffs—and the drop on my side is pretty forbidding.

I’m amazed how Kat manages it, skimming the low rock walls on the right, slipping by with a breath between the cars, coaches, lorries coming on the left.

We agree it’s like Mario Cart.

There’s heather and gorse pushing out of rocky hillsides, and tall, tall, thin pines thickening into forests.

When we get to Torc inside Killarney State Park, the lot’s packed.

The stalwart Kat weaves through, circles around, creeps and maneuvers, and we find a spot where someone handily just left.

Time for rain gear as it’s drizzling a bit.

Inside the magic of the forest where the faeries live, the light’s a quiet, luminous green. Those tall, wind-sculpted trees are coated with moss, and the whiskey-colored river runs fast.

Flow. Photo by BW

Here, Griffin decides Nana should carry him, so I haul the boy while he laughs, babbles, points. We discuss the faeries on the way through and to the falls until my arm gives out, and I do a pass off.

See Nana? See? Photo by Kat

The waterfall rushes down the rock cliff, full of sound and hurry as it spills white into the river. Little falls leap along and create small pools where I’m sure the faeries swim.

The boy is thrilled, can’t say enough about the water, the sound, the river. He must share his thoughts with Nana whose arm’s recovered enough to hold him again. 

Note: I do no upper body lifting other than Griffin these couple weeks!

It’s a beautiful spot, well worth the snaking drive.

Bending to the river. Photo by j a-b

Back through the forest where a tree reclines over the river. Griffin walks, delighted to do so, holding Mama’s hands.

We go through a tunnel, watch a few jaunty carts with their pretty horses, say hello to a big friendly dog.

Happy, happy travelers. Photo by Kat

Into the car to drive back to Kenmare for a late lunch. We’re behind a little white car packed with people for a bit—a car that started out driving on the wrong side, made its shaky way back to the left. We’re concerned about them as the driver’s obviously new at this, and likely terrified.

When we turn off, I hope they get where they’re going without incident.

There’s a street fair in Kenmare—and apparently it’s also Donut Truck Day. We wander by the white canopied stalls. I buy two very nice wooden spoons. I can’t resist a good wooden spoon.

Lunch time where the boy goes starry-eyed over our waitress. She’s sweet with him as he flirts—and he offers her his prize squid or octopus—we’re not altogether sure. When he offers her the second squid, I tell her I think they’re engaged now.

He eats heartily, as do we all, and pauses once when he spots his current love way down the other side of the restaurant.

He wants to walk off the meal, so I’m happy to walk him around the place, outside, back, and to a table of teenage girls having a lively time of it. They give a communal AWWW! 

He talks and flirts and charms, but his heart is taken by our waitress.

After lunch we walk the short distance to a stone dance. It’s every kind of wonderful, with two faerie trees for hanging wishes.

The stone dance and faerie trees. Photo by j a-b

The place makes my skin hum—and Griffin is an instant fan.

The stones are humming, Mom. Photo by Kat

Home again. A nap for the boy. I catch up on emails, do a little work.

I think to take a walk as the evening’s pretty gorgeous. A light drizzle, but that’s no problem, not when the air’s so fresh, the flowers so pretty.

I don’t get a quarter mile before the drizzle turns to actual rain.

So back I go.

Now that I have your attention Grandda, let me show you what to do. Photo by Kat

More play time with a happy boy who’s so easily amused and entertained. Mama feeds him, Nana walks him.

I show his parents how you can hold one of his hands, reach your other out in front of him. He’ll take several steps forward.

Bedtime.

Another pretty morning. BW joins me for the last thirty minutes of cardio, and a ten minute core session. Good for him!

Some packing up to do today, maybe some laundry. And maybe I’ll get that walk in before we head to Mayo tomorrow.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness: Be Ware


Bonus Griffin photo:

I’m still a cowboy, Dad! Photo by Kat

Kerry, Day Eight

With the weather undecided, I take an at-home day. Some play time for Griffin where he shows his brainy skills stacking cups. His mom and I are duly impressed—with applause—when he discovers he can also insert them into each other.

Smart boy!

Of course earlier he manages to find a tiny piece of gravel just inside the door and gets a good taste of it before he’s caught.

He goes into town with Mom and Dad to get some supplies, check on my goddess (all good!) and have a car nap.

Though some tempting blue sky peeks through, I set up my little office and write. Housekeeping’s here, BW’s settles down with a book. I get in a good three hours, just as I hoped, hit the point I want to hit.

As I reward myself with a glass of champagne, housekeeping finishes up, BW emerges and the little family returns.

Perfect timing.

We plan a spaghetti dinner.

Griffin spies my tablet and insists on a mash-up session. 

Then he plays with Daddy while Kat does some laundry, and I get the red sauce on.

The red sauce. Photo by Nora.

The stove requires a group effort to fully figure. I show BW a bush of rosemary out the kitchen window, send him out to get some.

Red sauce simmering. Kat goes off to finish a painting she’s working on.

Griffin must walk, walk up and down, in and out, check on the laundry. Busy, busy boy.

I plan to make some garlic/butter paste for the lovely round of bread Kat and Jason brought back. Jason takes on that duty, and we toss a salad together.

Prep. Photo by j a-b

Smells good in here!

A break from walking for some under-table time (and spaghetti). Photo by j a-b

Kat’s back, painting finished. It’s wonderful—of course!

Baby’s hungry, and lets us know it.

So we eat—and yum. The perfect cozy, comforting meal for an at-home day. There’s dessert for those who want it—I just can’t—but the pastries K&J picked up in Kenmare are well appreciated.

My toy matches my food! Photo by Griffin’s Nana

Kat handles the dishes, Griffin works off the meal with his running walks and Daddy swings. He seems tired so we try a bottle. But no, he clearly lets us know we’re very mistaken, he’s not a bit tired. He catches his second (or it might be twelfth) wind, has a laugh fest, lots of running.

It’s suddenly the best game to run down the second floor hallway gripping Daddy’s fingers, into Nana’s room so she can jump out and tickle his belly. Squeals echo as he drags Jason back and forth, in and out.

Daddy definitely runs out of steam first.

I’m hoping the evening activity tires him out so his parents get some sleep.

During my morning workout I watch the sky and water change again and again. Everything flat and gray so the water’s as still and flat as a plate under a thin mist.

The mist rises, spreads up like smoke, and the sun sneaks in adding glinting light. The water goes blue as bits of sky clear, and it ripples in the wind.

Back to gray again, quiet and pale as the wind dies.

It’s a show that keeps me entertained as I work out.

I top that off with some yoga. And ahhhh.

Haven’t yet heard a peep from JK&G, so I think all that running, laughing, squealing knocked them out.

We’ll venture out later if everyone’s up for that. If not, I’ll take myself a long walk. Left-overs for lunch or dinner depending. 

I have the bedroom door—the outside one—open as I write this. It’s currently dry, with a light, fresh breeze. BW’s must be making some breakfast because I smell bacon!

Nora


In today’s Not-so #randomkatness, the finished painting.


Production notes: All videos in the post courtesy of Kat. I didn’t like the way the captions looked. ~L

Kerry, Day Seven

The morning’s beautiful and bright, and off we go. With Kat at the wheel, Jason running GPS through his phone, and BW making sure Kat doesn’t get too close to walls or hedgerows on the right, Griffin and I get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

All those narrow, windy roads with the hills rolling up, the fields spreading out. Mountains of hydrangeas in gardens of tidy houses. Horses, cows, sheep enjoying the sunshine. 

We climb up and up into those hills with their outcroppings of gray rock and steep folds of land, and all in dozens of shades of green. And into Cork.

Carriganass Castle. Photo by BW

We’re heading toward Corriganess Castle—an old stronghold set above the river. We wind and climb our way there, hitting a couple little pockets of rain, then sun again.

It’s a glowering old keep with spreads of green fields and lovely flowers. 

We walk to the river first, with its energetic little falls that has Griffin squealing in delight. The boy loves water.

Around the road and over the bridge to the keep where a trio of workers sit at a table having their lunch while we explore. Apparently during some attack a few hundreds years ago, the invader killed the castle holder’s wife. He retaliated by tossing the guy off the parapet and into the river.

It does glower, doesn’t it? Photo by j a-b.

Can’t blame him.

We walk about, take pictures, Griffin enjoys the grass and likes feeling the old stone walls. 

Stones! Photo by Kat

Me, too!

Family shot. Photo by Kat

Around and out again, and BW asks one of the workers what this large crab appley looking thing is. Rose hips. I’ve never seen such enormous rose hips. 

Rose hips. Photo by Nora

And it’s off to Killarney—and the weather begins to change. Clouds roll in, the rain falls. None of us brought rain gear—except Griffin! Clouds blur the hills, turning everything soft.

Now and again the sun peeps through giving everything that luminous pearly light.

Kat navigates the very big and busy town of Killarney, finds a car park. And as the rain’s heavy now, we out to sit in the car a bit. 

Jason checks his weather app which claims there’s no chance of rain. Well, that’s what we thought, too.

When it slows enough we head out. We want some lunch, had thought to take in another site.

We hit a couple stores, more for shelter as the rain’s come back than shopping.

And find the Wild West (American style) for lunch. It’s a fun place, decorated cowboy style, wanted posters, a big cowboy, a big Native American, a saddle. And an expansive menu that’s going to hit the spot for all.

Nachos for the table—guacamole for Griffin. And enough food after that to satisfy.

Griffin wants to walk, and since it’s there, Nana puts him on the saddle. He must’ve been a rodeo rider in another life because he knows just what to do.

I’m a cowboy, Nana. Photo by Kat

There’s another little boy, so we have to go say hello. They have quite a conversation, and the mama says she’d love to know what they’re saying to each other.

Another break in the rain when we leave—and hit the shop with Irish gelato and enormous donuts. Griffin and I go for the gelato, and leave the donuts to the rest.

Since I’ve had experience with Griffin and ice cream, I get two scoops. 

Cowboys need their sustenance, Nana. Photo by Kat

More rain, so it’s back to the car. We’ll see more sights another day.

We drive right out of the rain into the sun. The afternoon towards home’s as gorgeous as the morning had been. We have the time and weather to play outside a bit, take one of our traditional panoramic shots.

Home Pano. Photo by j a-b

Griffin and I walk around after he plays in the grass. He’s very interested in the gravel, plops down to play in it, decides to taste it. 

That’s a no, says Nana.

Walk a few steps, plop, play, attempt to taste. No. Repeat but instead of tasting, hand Nana some gravel to distract her while you try to taste the next.

Nana’s not so easily fooled.

After a full day we opt to stay in, cook some pizza, warm up leftovers, and just chill out.

Rainy this morning, but that’s already passed. Workout’s done, and Griffin has his morning dose of mash-ups.

Kat’s heading into Kenmare later. I may hole up and work a couple hours. No set plans yet. 

If the weather looks promising, we may drive out. Or it may be a day for Griffin to try out the indoor pool.

Plenty of time to decide.

Nora



In today’s #randomkatness

Was the mason lazy and wanted to fill a gap quickly?? Photo by Kat

The saga of Griffin and the grass, in photos by his mother and Grandda.

This looks delicious, I’m off!
OK, maybe not the best idea. Photo by BW

Kerry, Day five

On a cool, misty day, we head out with Kat at the wheel.

Brave, brave Sir Kat!

She handles it while BW navigates and Jason and I share the back seat with Griffin. And handles is so well I can relax and enjoy the view on the short trip into Kenmare.

Narrow, shop-lined streets, streams of cars and people, vivid flowers hanging in lush baskets. Minutes after we park the car, I spot what I want for the first stop. Kat’s on a mission for wool yarn, and I’m on the hunt for Christmas gifts. We hit a bonanza of both!

In town. Photo by BW

Gorgeous yarn, saturated colors, soft colors, vivid, neutral, whatever you could want if you’re the crafty sort. And I find another chunk of gifts to cross off my list. The shop will ship free if you spend a hundred Euro. This turns out to be no problem at all. 

Kat and I both find everything we wanted, and more. And can walk out without passing a load of bags onto the men.

Lunch!

We find our place, and another pretty waitress for Griffin to flirt with. Fish and chips, Cajun chicken, big salad, and we don’t forget the chips. 

A little post-lunch wandering—I’m still hunting gifts, and Kat’s hunting something (can’t remember the name) for spinning wool. Yes, Kat has an actual spinning wheel.

But our men are bored—all three—and Kat and I will come back at some point. I do spot a sculpture I fall for, but the shop’s closed at the moment. We need a few supplies for the cottage, so head to the super market.

There are three to choose from, all basically within steps of each other.

I love that the carts offer infant seats, and other carts have double toddler seats. The Irish love their children, and find ways to make things easier on parents. [See note.]

No need for a cart – I have Dad. Photo by Kat

People smile and talk to Griffin everywhere.

We buy gorgeous bread, some Irish cheese, some crisps and so on for those snacking urges. 

Fish still life. Photo by BW

There’s a craft shop inside the market—and they have what Kat wants. She wants to come back, take a better look before buying it.

Griffin spies another baby in a cart—and said baby spies him. They launch into an excited conversation. 

Back home for some to nap. I take a walk around with my tablet to visit the flowers, take some pictures. The air’s damp and cool, but the rain’s holding off. The river’s steel gray, the mountains muted behind the gauzy curtain of gray. When the wind blows, it surges through the trees like a high surf. I walk over thick, spongy with wet green grass.

Pops of color. Photo by Nora
Fascinating river. Photo by Nora
Home. Photo by Nora

We have a reservation in the main restaurant for dinner. Griffin seriously suits up, and breaks the cute meter.

It decides to pour, but we have an umbrella, rain gear—and the car.

The pretty restaurant sets up a high chair. Griffin’s stance is, until there’s food on the tray, don’t even think about putting me in there.

Hard to blame him.

But there’s a pianist, and since the boy loves music, Kat takes him over to watch. Everyone takes turns walking him around when he needs it.

Doing a lap with Nana. Photo by Kat
Selfie with son. Photo by Kat.

I go for the bass and new potatoes—and it’s perfect. 

After his meal, Griffin wants to do some crawling, introduce himself to some of the other diners. They’re lovely about it, even encourage him to come say hello.

We head back in the rain so Mama and Daddy can put Griffin to bed.

It doesn’t take long before I decide that sounds like a fine idea.

Spots of rain, bits of blue sky and sun go back and forth this morning.

Workout’s done—some laundry comes next. 

And Griffin will help. Photo by his Nana

Kat and I may head back to Kenmare, or the whole gang may want to go somewhere else.

No set plans today, and that’s nice. We’ll just see when we see.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness

Goddess? Nora’s sculpture? I can’t decide. Photo by Kat.

Editor note from the Cranky Publicist: Before you comment, Nora doesn’t do the grocery shopping when home in the US so this is a definite revelation. I know there are stores here that offer similar carts. And I envy the upper body strength of the parents who push food and kids through the store. ~Laura

Edinburgh, Day 3

Lazy, late start today as we have some tired people, and a baby who wanted a morning nap. No problem because, hey, we’re on vacation.

Turns out to be a perfect summer day here, warm—bordering on hot!—blue, blue skies with puffy white clouds.

When we got out (Kat stayed back to catch up on sleep) we cabbed as close to Edinburgh castle as we could—lots of roads closed during the Festival. A nice walk, so nice, I took off my light jacket. 

The perfect day and those blue skies obviously brought out the hordes. The sidewalks are jammed with pedestrians. And in my short time here I’ve learned about what I think of as the Lost Tourist Zombie Walk. They’ll walk, in clumps, at less than a snail’s pace. Pretty much impossible to get around or through the clogs of tourist who obviously don’t know where they’re going, stop dead—in groups—to discuss, and routinely block everyone else from just moving on.

So you shuffle behind the wide knots of them until you see an opening, then go for it.

We eventually get to the castle, which is massive and stunning, and full of people. There are views from that high perspective of the city, the firth beyond, the wide green spaces. 

A boy, a castle and his minions. Photo by BW

The roads are steep and cobbled. It must have been a hard climb for those hauling supplies, and harder still in winter. Defensively, it’s a brilliant position.

We can’t wait over an hour in a queue to see the Crown Jewels, especially with a baby in tow, but wander here, climb there, into the Scottish Memorial Building with its lovely stained glass windows that fascinate our boy.

Along to the Grand Hall, more stained glass, incredible wood work, and weaponry. Seeing some of those swords up close you have to admire the sheer strength needed to wield them.

Griffin likes the armor, and so do I.

Griffin size? Photo by BW

We walk through the prison, and it’s a forbidding sort of place still. The air’s dank, the light’s dim.

Out again into the sunshine for the walk back—crowds of people coming and going, and more still when we hit The Mile.

There the energy’s much different, so festive. Crowds circling musicians, lots of LTZ walkers, and we’re in search of a late lunch.

Local color. Photo by BW

We find our spot in a bustling place where we can spread out in a booth. They have pulled pork! I’m sold. But as I see no actual veg, and the boy should have something approximating it, I ask if we can have a little dish of guacamole—which he loves.

He doesn’t want the high chair—he’s tired and hungry. So he sits with Nana, eats his guacamole, and some pork—and fries while Nana has a very nice margarita. He’s happy; we’re happy. The food is more than fine, the waitress delightful, and as we finish, Griffin falls into a post-lunch coma. 

More, please. Photo by j a-b

His daddy has to cart him back—with a stop to buy tickets for BW and Jason to see a show tonight. BW queues up, and we continue on. More LTZ walkers. 

They’re everywhere.

Griffin pops awake in the elevator. We think because we got on with a room service guy—and French fries. He eyes the fries, and I suggest the room service guy run for his life.

Back, and Jason takes a nap. Kat’s going to run some errands for all of us now that she’s fully rested, so Grandda and I play with the boy.

He’s happy, as he almost always is so we have a fun time. Grandda plays some Cajun accordion, and Griffin starts doing a little dance. Kid’s got rhythm already.

I have a light dinner with Kat, and Griffin gets some nice veggies and salmon. I don’t know where he puts it!

And for dessert, a tasty new brogue. Photo by Kat

He stayed happy all day, such an easy kid, and I hear him laughing as his mama gets him ready for bed.

Last night view. Photo by j a-b

The guys are back—the shows are short—baby’s sleeping. I’m pretty well organized as I write this right before I settle in for the night.

We’re leaving for Ireland—a week in Kerry to start—in the morning after a whirlwind couple of days in Scotland. A short flight—I’m grateful for that. Wet weather forecast, but oh well. I’ll be glad to really settle in, glad to spend time in the countryside.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness

View of the city penciled in.


Edinburgh, Day 2

Walking’s the word of the day. We do a lot of it.

Head out first to get cold meds for BW, then he and Jason peel off for a bit to check out the park while Kat and I hit a couple of shops.

View from a walk: Scott Monument. Photo by BW
View from a walk: Edinburgh Castle. Photo by BW

Griffin needs some clothes for his next size up. But we find his current size in a ridiculously cute plaid vest and pants—and bow tie. And tam. Irresistible.

Then there’s clan ties for the big guys. Fun stuff.

Into Marks and Spenser for Griffin clothes. The low level there has a kid department, and flower shop (gorgeous!) and grocery store. Fascinating.

We load up, and he’ll be a fashionable boy this winter.

The guys not only checked out the park, but rode the Ferris Wheel, so they were entertained.

More walking, with clouds rolling in. So back to the hotel to drop off the bags and get rain gear. 

How about lunch? How about pizza?

We find a place right off the Royal Mile. Pizza, pasta, and a very generously poured glass of red for me.

While we wait for our order Griffin invents a new game. Kat offers him her wallet to fiddle with, and he sweeps it off the table to Daddy. Daddy slaps it back on the table.

Slap the wallet!

Griffin finds this hysterical, so the game begins. Maniacal laughter, sweep, slap. The waitress says: What a happy boy, when she brings the food.

Yes, he is. And more so when he spots pizza.

Good food, good wine, and a nice rest for the walking feet.

Right call on the rain gear as it drizzles again as we start to walk The Mile. Such energy, such movement. Music playing.

A drummer (from NJ, it turns out) has drawn a big crowd. He’s got a fun routine we all (esp Griffin) enjoy before moving on. 

To someone who mentioned it in the last blog (Editor note: a comment by Sue Towery on Facebook), we did slip into Thistle Do Nicely. Who can resist a clever pun? Not me.

There’s a group—three women and a guy, all in pink suits—just setting up. Performers can promo their show for about ten minutes on the mile. 

They’re the Sushi Tap Show.

 I can no more resist a tap routine than a clever pun. They’re fun, fast talented feet, crowd engaging. They draw a young girl from the audience, hand her a bell—like a front desk bell. The guy is miming conducting, and his partners do their thing on cue, and the girl hits the bell—right on the money, time and again. It’s petty damn adorable.

Raining a little harder now when Kat spots some stall tents. We can’t resist those either. Fortuitous, as it turns out, because the first one we check out has terrific gifts (can’t say what) for many of my girl pals for Christmas. 

We hit a jackpot!

Kat helps me pick out which for who—and that’s a BIG help to me. We’re having a great time, and while the lovely woman—who’s giving us much information on the gifts—bags them up, an heroic clap of thunder blasts. 

And the downpour follows.

We’re undercover—lucky for us. People are scrambling for their own, lots suddenly finding religion and rushing for the gorgeous cathedral right across from our stall. Some people crowd in with us, and are welcome. 

It’s a big one—lighting, thunder, torrential rain. But doesn’t last but ten minutes or so. 

It slows, allows us to start back. BW, Kat and Griffin head back first. Jason and I get about half way back when the rain gets heavier. A shout out here to my Azita for putting the lovely rain jacket in my sight line at Kat’s spree at Saks. It’s not only really pretty, it’s light and easy to pack. And it seriously works.

I stay dry except for below the knees.

We duck into a souvenir shop as I have things I want to get for my other grandkids—and I have a Sherpa in Jason.

He’s pretty well soaked when we get back. Heads to a hot shower. I head for the champagne!

…and a banana for Griffin

A busy, entertaining day, with all kinds of weather. We’re tired enough to stay in for dinner.

It’s Edinburgh Castle today.

My workout’s done, BW, Kat and Griffin are down at breakfast. Jason’s catching some extra ZZZs. Hey, up now. Good morning!

We’ll head out in a couple hours.

The sky looks promising, but yeah, it did yesterday, too. Good thing I love my new rain jacket!

Nora


Introducing #randomkatness #momedition

You’re interesting. I am suspicious. (Photo by Kat)
What the heck Mom? Photo by Kat

Holiday Hustle

We’ve been in the thick of it.

We had our annual Progressive Shopping night with any employees who want to participate. That’s Turn The Page, Fit, Gifts, the inn, Vesta. It’s fun to go as a group from business to business, enjoy the company, do a little shopping. It’s also a great chance to socialize and get to know each other as your own work, your own business can create a kind of bubble.

The Inn, dressed for Christmas

We all end at Vesta for dinner. So much food! But before the feast we announce our winners in the year’s fitness competition.

And the Inn BoonsBoro staff defend their title, and keep the (wonderfully tacky) trophy for another year. The team’s led by Head Innkeeper Karen, this year’s individual winner, who I’m told seriously cracks the whip.

IBB Wonder Women

And those girls at IBB prove to be clever pranksters. Part of the inn’s holiday decor is a full-size Nutcracker. He’s huge! And heavy. It didn’t stop them from hauling him across the parking lot, putting him in the doorway of a side room. And scaring the pants off Heidi, Fit’s manager, when she opened for the day.

Nice one, ladies!

Boonsboro’s decked out, and that makes a festive canvas for Turn The Page’s holiday booksigning. A busy day, and lots of fun–along with Griffin’s first booksigning. (He slept through most of it.) When he was awake, he enjoyed being snuggled by various TTP staff. I think the staff enjoyed the snuggles even more.

I get my boy through the weekend as we have another holiday event on Sunday, which includes our very special guest. Santa! (Griffin also slept through most of it, despite all the noise.)

Then there’s a work week, with some bits and pieces of holiday prep worked in. The week ends with a holiday party here for the managers. Some fun food, a lot of champagne and all the good cheer you can hold.

Back row L-R: Renee, Michelle, Natoma, Heidi, Janeen, Laura Front: JoAnne, Holly, Karen (the whipmaster), Nora

Oh and those inn girls left me a little nutcracker on my workstation. I see what you did there, ladies! Gave me a laugh–and Mr. Nutcracker will enjoy being part of my holiday gang.

For the weekend. Cookies! Lots and lots and LOTS of cookies. Logan skips this year, and Kayla serves as head baker with some assistance from me and from Colt. The girl’s on a roll. We dive in with cheesy Christmas movies on the kitchen TV–which Kayla and I agree are just silly fun. (I don’t believe Colt paid any attention either way.)

We end up with a double batch of chocolate chip (a crowd favorite) snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Candy Cane Kisses, with the grand finale of painted sugar cookies. We include a lunch break so real food goes in tummies as well.

Kayla and her sous chef, Grandda

With Colt serving as taste tester, we deem all cookies delicious.

It’s always fun to hold a marathon cookie bake, but seeing Kayla take over so willingly, and so skillfully is the best part. One day she’ll bake in her own kitchen, and I hope look back on the years she baked in mine.

Logan has no problem eating the cookies when we have the gang for dinner. And a big bag of them go with the kids after dinner.

Today, after my morning workout I have a few little gifts to bag or wrap. I need to check the bread situation to see if I need to bake. And, at some point, sign four tubs of books. But compared to a solid eight hours in the kitchen yesterday, this is a day off!

All the traditions that weave their way into the fabric of our friends and family make a warm and colorful cloth. I love watching the cloth unfold every year.

I hope you all have your own warm and colorful cloth to cuddle with.

Nora

Note from Laura: the 2018 finale to #random Katness:

First family holiday photo

The Totally Magickal Griffin (Finally) Makes His Entrance

So I’ve been a little busy the last couple weeks.

On the day he was due for his grand debut–October 17– our excellent baby stirred around enough to poke a leak in his bag and get everyone excited. When we got the call, BW and I got ourselves together, headed down to Jason’s and Kat’s for what we all assumed would be the big event.

However, by mid-afternoon, he changed his mind, resealed his bag and settled down. BW headed home the next morning, and I stayed–as co-coach for labor and delivery–all assuming again things would get going any minute.

I can work anywhere, so that wasn’t a problem. It gave me time to help the any-minute-now parents finish getting everything ready, time to cook some meals for them. Even when minutes turned into hours, and hours into days, no problem.  Our Kat had on-and-off contractions and a lot of fatigue–and a couple more trips to see the midwife as the baby kept teasing his entrance.

Just after midnight on the 24th things start moving. Contractions coming close and pretty hard, so it’s a trip to the birthing center. Only to find out poor Kat’s having serious back labor (been there, done that. NOT fun.) No real progression, just pain as her boy’s decided to go spine-to-spine (like his daddy before him). After a couple hours, a homeopathic shot to try to help her sleep, and home we go.

I got about three hours, and Jason reported he managed a couple. Poor Kat didn’t get much at all. I hear my girl in the morning and go downstairs–I’m in the third-floor guest room. She’s on the phone with the midwife, pain is horrible, and she’s opting for hospital and epidural.

This is the right choice.

So we get dressed, feed the cats, move out. I let BW know.
I sit in the back seat, rubbing her arm or shoulder, see that Jason keeps taking her hand while we try to help her breathe through the pains–nearly all in her back.

When we park, she has another big one right in the lot. A nurse heading home after shift stops, gets her a wheelchair, and escorts us straight up to labor and delivery. So grateful to her.

Now she has her midwife and an OB nurse, the exam, and finally after another hour or so, relief. You just don’t dilate well with back labor, and they’re going to try to encourage the baby to turn from back to front, but first Mama needs to sleep.

And finally she’s able to for a few hours.

The room has a little sofa that expands so Jason gets some sack time, too. And the long day continues.

They have what they call a peanut ball–because of its shape–and as we go through various OB nurses–shift changes–and a shift change in her midwife–they have her try various positions with the ball.

She can eat broth and jello, but would like her own broth. BW and I make a trip to their house for that, some more supplies, and go back on watch. BW takes Jason off for something to eat; I catch some Zs on the sofa.

Day becomes evening–but she’s making progress now, and the pains are tolerable. We order pizza–and BW and I sit and have a slice in the waiting room so poor Kat doesn’t have to smell the pizza goodness. Then BW finds a place to sleep a bit, I go back to doze in the chair in the room with Kat sleeping and Jason conked on the sofa.

The night passes. I’ve actually coached before, helped out–and of course had my own labor experience. I’ve never witnessed such a long one. She’s passed 24 hours since that first midnight trip to the midwife. Come on, Baby, what’s the deal???

But as dawn breaks things are moving. Baby’s turned nearly fully around, she’s nearly fully dilated. Time for more broth, more jello, more shift changes.

Honestly, by now that room is pretty much the world.
I’ll add here, that my boy was a rock throughout. So proud of him. Of them, as they showed such strength, such endurance, such teamwork.

Then Kat spiked a fever–likely from being on the epidural for 24 hours. And the baby’s heart rate’s a little elevated. I admit that was the only thing that scared me.

By then we have our original midwife Joanne, and a completely wonderful OB nurse Allison on duty. Kat has to get antibiotics, and they have to tell her this means at least 24 hours in the NICU for the baby after birth–hospital policy.

My poor sweet girl just broke. She rallied because she is The Amazing Kat, but news like that during the last legs of a long, long labor took its toll. I know both Jason and I had to struggle to maintain so we could reassure her. Joanne and Allison were just wonderful with us all.

Now, fever down, baby facing up (almost), it’s time to push. Joanne’s predicted at least a nine pound baby–holy shit! I mean seriously!
Kat, as you might expect, is pretty damn tired by this time, but she is so strong, so brave. I would never take an actual picture of a laboring woman, but I still have one of her in my mind, so clear. She looked like an Asian goddess–powerful, beautiful, fierce–as she began pushing her son into the world.

Jason and I help–deep breath, hold it, hold it while you push. Suck in, hold, push. Jason was just magnificent.

I could see him crown–all that dark hair–and telling her that helps.
There’s his head, and oh my God, he’s gorgeous. Joanne explains that–big baby means big shoulders, so she’s going to have to do a little turn to help him get them out. But no–he’s ready, and with another fierce push, he just slides out into the world–and with a lot to say.

Under two hours from first push to last, at 10:39 a.m. on October 25, and we have a new light, new life, new family with a now blissful Kat holding her son, a beaming Jason holding them both.

A little comic relief when they ask if Jason wants to cut the cord. A big, instant, resounding NO. Nana? A quick, delighted, grateful yes. So I make that snip–as I did with my oldest grandchild–to give my youngest his first independence.

They have to clean him up, and Daddy crosses the room with him, takes pictures while they do all the post-birth stuff with Kat. I hold her hand through this–she has pain with this part, wants it over, wants her baby. My girl hasn’t had an easy time of it, and this part isn’t any easier.

Finally done, and Allison wheels the baby and scale over so Kat can watch him be weighed. Joanne had it right. He’s nine and a half pounds, 21 inches of serious handsome.

Kat gets her baby back, he even nurses a little. BW can come in now, meet his newest grandson. (He brought something up during the early pushing. I met the poor guy at the door, grabbed whatever it was, and said: I don’t have time to talk to you! The baby’s coming! Closed the door in his face. )
The baby has to go to NICU, but can stay with his parents for at least an hour first.

I get to hold him. Oh, here he is–and he looks right at me. There you are, I think. Yes, there you are. And where have you been, what have you seen?
They haven’t picked a first name–they have a short list, but decided they wanted to meet him first. His middle name is Wilder, a gift that BW treasures. I’ve been thinking of him by a name for the last couple weeks–had to keep reminding myself not to–but this one name on their list kept sticking in my head.

They still don’t decide when Allison asks. Don’t know yet.
It’s while Jason’s filling out a form, and I’m holding the baby. Jason laughs, looks at Kat: I can’t finish filling this out because it calls for his name.
Kat says: He’s Griffin.

And holding the beautiful Griffin Wilder, Nana does a happy dance. Because that was his name in my head.

I give Griffin back to his mother, hug my kids. BW and I leave the new family alone. Jason will stay at the hospital with Kat and Griffin. BW and I will go back in the morning–then I have to go home for Saturday’s signing.

Kat and Jason look so much more rested the next day–and Jason takes us down to see the baby, who is doing really well, but has one test that’s inconclusive–so maybe a little longer in NICU. Kat’s doing some nursing and pumping so he has plenty of milk, and he has wonderful nurses looking out for him.

Still hard to go home. Despite that, I slept like a log Friday night!
Saturday’s signing is busy and happy–even with a soaking rain. Girlfriends at home after help everything smooth out.

I get a text they’re maybe letting Griffin come home Monday. So that’s when I’ll head back down to help the new parents for a few days–and get lots of Griffin/Nana time.

But it turns out that test–and what they were waiting for–means our boy spikes a fever of his own. Nothing dangerous, but he needs to stay in for a couple more days.

I keep the cat company, help get the house ready. I know how hard it is for them to leave the baby–though there’s a hotel attached to the hospital.
They finally decide to come home, just make the trip back and forth–so I go with them on a visit, get to cuddle that sweet boy again. He’s doing really well, but needs to finish the course of antibiotics before release.

I fix a pot roast with all the trimmings. They both need some red meat, some home-cooking.

At long last, a full week after he came to us, Griffin comes home.
He’s healthy, beautiful–and his parents can finally take that full breath out. Their baby’s home. He’s so beautiful–all babies are–but maybe cooking that extra week added more magick. His eyes are already brown–no newborn blue for Griffin–and he’s so alert–and so chill.

And apparently a night owl like his mother. <g> I slept just fine his first night home–not so much for the new parents. But that’s why Nana’s here. Give me the baby, get some sleep.

Fed, changed, swaddled he reclines in his little bouncer wide awake for a full hour while I sat at their table writing. Then he slept for another before he made any fuss that first morning.

Nana believe in the three S’s when a baby’s fed, changed. Swaddle, sway and a quiet Ssssh in the ear. Griffin responds well to this.

He also likes going outside. Put on one of his little hats, and–as the weather was gorgeous–step outside in their pretty yard, show him his domain. I tell him this is his kingdom, and he seems to agree, and be pleased.

Mama nurses and pumps, cuddles–looks so happy. Daddy changes, cuddles–and looks the same. They started reading him bedtime stories in NICU and have made that a sweet, sweet habit already.

Nana cooks, does laundry and all the things new parents shouldn’t have to worry about when they’ve had this long, incredible journey, and have their baby home.

He likes to look up to the sky through their kitchen skylights. It’s obvious to me he’s spent some time flying up there before this trip to Earth. He recognizes their voices–and looks you right in the eye.

Daddy took him for a walk in his stroller around the neighborhood, and–as that post-birth business was tough, and Kat’s not supposed to do a lot of walking as yet–Nana walks him now and then, too.

He’s had a couple of visits with friends and family, and seems happy to be admired and passed around. He’s also very content to sit with his Nana in the mornings while she writes–though I did my final spell-check on the last chapter of the book I finished during all this with him in one arm. Sweet.

Now the new family is settled in–and Griffin has his first check up with the pediatrician. It’s time for Nana to go home. I made sure to cuddle and rub before I did so I could take that incredible new baby smell with me.

My kids are an incredible team, warm, easy, loving parents–I’ve been privileged to witness that first hand. My girl is a warrior. My son is a rock.
They have a perfect baby–so relaxed, so laid-back and so beautiful. It’s been my joy to have all this time with him.

The only hitch? They refused to let me take him home with me. So selfish!
But they did send more pictures–of Griffin in the Chewbacca outfit Jason and I picked out on our NY trip. Cutest wookie ever. And the report that he’s healthy, has already gained a half pound–now an even ten.

So I guess they get to keep him. As long as they bring him to Nana’s soon.

Nora