Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Trip to Ireland 2014

I recently returned from a trip to Ireland. I'm not much of a traveler -- just never have the time or money -- so this was really a once-in-a-lifetime event. It was also the longest time I've ever been away from my husband and boys.

My mom, who is 76, has always wanted to see Ireland. Since losing my Dad several years ago, she has had a hard time and struggled with loneliness. One day she just up and decided that she wanted to go to Ireland and there was really nothing stopping her. So, she told us we were going and that was that.

Planning the trip and the anticipation of traveling helped to occupy my mom and gave her something to look forward to. My daughter, Shelby, graduated from high school this year. She also celebrated her 18th birthday in Ireland. This trip was my mom's gift to celebrate these milestone occasions. Along with my daughter and mother, my older sister also went along.

Ireland was amazing! Seriously, it was like every single place you looked could be a postcard. We went with a small tour group and although I was unsure about that at first, it turned out to be a great experience. We had a total of 25 people in our group - folks from all over and all ages. The group was just small enough that it was easy to get to know everyone. Our tour guide, was an older Irish gentleman named Michael. He was simply stellar! His knowledge of Irish history and geography was impressive and he told the best stories - some of which were truly historical and others that were purely mythical folklore. Nevertheless, he was very entertaining and had us laughing all the time. His storytelling was one of the best parts of the trip.

I'm somewhat of an anxious traveler but everything went very smoothly with the exception of our last night. We were in Dublin being dropped off at our hotel. As we exited the bus to cross the street, my mom fell. She banged up her leg and knee pretty badly and was a little shaken up. I could tell that she was probably going to need stitches in her knee and the hotel manager agreed. He sent us via ambulance to a Dublin hospital, complete with a police escort. It was quite the spectacle! Other than a lot of discomfort and a little embarrassment, my mom was okay.

Here are some photos from my trip. I have LOTS so I'll be sharing more over the next several days.

Me and Shelby 

Me, my mom, sister, and daughter

Rolling fields

Ireland street

Cliffs of Moher - this was stunning!

Cliffs of Moher

Beautiful building

Old Irish cemetary, there were markers from many who died during the great famine in 1840s-1850s

Beautiful beach - the water was so blue!


Achille Island

One of the lovely hotels where we stayed

Another of our hotels

Ireland street scenery

The town of Kilkenny

Street scenery


Trinity College

Shelby's 18th birthday (18 is legal drinking age in Ireland)

Kilbeggan Distillery - the world's oldest distllery where we sampled authentic Irish whiskey

View from our tour bus - some of the roads were so narrow and winding and right on the edge of huge cliffs and of course, they drive on the opposite side of the road than I'm used to. That big tour bus handled it like a boss!

Country roads

I don't want to be one of those people who bores everyone with all of my vacation photos, LOL! So, if you're still here, thanks for looking. I will be posting more photos over the next few days. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

RIO 2 Free Activity Sheets and Coloring Pages #RIO2Insiders

I am sharing this information as a member of the Fox Home ENT Insiders Blogging Program. I will receive a free copy of this movie. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

In celebration of the Blu-ray and DVD release of RIO 2 on July 15th, I have several free activity sheets and coloring pages to share. They are all so cute and colorful and fun! Check them out and let me know which is your favorite (I'm loving the bookmarks!)

*Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure and enter my could win RIO 2 on blu-ray.


RIO 2 - The RIO Rainbow Feature (and Giveaway)

I am sharing this information as a member of the Fox Home ENT Insiders Blogging Program. I will receive a free copy of this movie. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

RIO 2 
Coming to Blu-ray and DVD on July 15, 2014 

 The cast of the animated hit comedy Rio returns — along with a new flock of all-star voice talent, including Bruno Mars, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia and more — in this high-flying sequel for the whole family. The party continues when Blu (Oscar® nominee Jesse Eisenberg1), Jewel (Oscar® winner Anne Hathaway2) and their three kids take a walk on the wild side and embark on a colorful, comical, music-filled journey through the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit into his new surroundings, he goes beak-to-beak with the villainous Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all: his father-in-law!

The Rio Rainbow
Get ready to shake your tail feathers! Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment takes you deep into the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest for the most fun you’ll have all summer, as RIO 2 debuts on 3D Blu-ray, on July 15th. In order to prepare you for this burst of color, and all these crazy characters, we have compiled a list that we like to call: The Rio Rainbow!

Here we’ll take you through all of the colors of the rainbow with a character for each color of ROY G BIV! Perfect for your little ones to learn their colors and have fun at the same time!

Red: Pedro: Pedro keeps up laughing the entire film. From his antics with Nico, to his constant entertainment efforts, he always steals the show!

Orange: Rafael: The toucan with the orange beak! He seems to always be the voice of reason for the group, but this guy knows how to go with the flow.

Yellow: Nico: The littlest bird, with the biggest voice!

Green: They are in the Amazon. You do the math. Trees!

Blue: This one is going to be really tricky… but, all the Blue Macaws!

Purple: Gabi, the so-called “poisonous” frog that loves to chat about her undying love for Nigel.

One lucky Alas 3 Lads reader will win a free copy of RIO 2 on Blu-ray.

*This giveaway is open to U.S. residents who are 18 or older. Entries will be accepted until 10:00 pm EST on July 16, 2014. At that time, one random winner will be selected from all eligible entries. Please make sure I have valid contact information for you in case you are the winner. Winner must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

Mandatory Entry: 
Leave a comment telling me your favorite color and with whom you'll enjoy watching this movie.

Optional Extra Entries:
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RIO 2 coming to Blu-ray/DVD July 15th. Enter to win your own blu-ray c/o @FHEInsiders and @alas3lads -

Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review - Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome

I received a free copy of this book for review. I was not obligated to post a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

 Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome
by Kathryn U. Hulings

Life with a Superhero tells the story of the Hulings family and their adoption of a baby boy with Down Syndrome (Michael). The circumstances which brought them all together are quite compelling and I think that they really were destined to become a family.

From the beginning, Kathryn Hulings stands out as a fierce and loving mother. She was staunchly committed to all her children but when it came to Michael, she always fought to make sure he was afforded every opportunity and lesson that any other kid might have. Even when it wasn't always the easiest road to get there, she was still up to the challenge. While some of her methods were a little unconventional and might have raised the eyebrows of others, everything she did was out of love and protection of Michael. For example, Michael had a habit of taking off and running away sometimes. Of course, this could be a very dangerous situation. Once when they were on a family camping trip in Wisconsin, Kathryn was worried about Michael slipping away and running off into the woods. He happened to be afraid of monkeys so Kathryn told him that if he took off and left the cabin, the monkeys would get him! I'm pretty sure there are no monkeys in the wilds of Wisconsin but Kathryn knew she had to find a way to keep Michael safe. I think she figured that her intentions were good so she would be forgiven for a few little white lies.

The Hulings family had a lot of unique methods for helping Michael thrive and learn about life. I was touched at how everyone, especially the other siblings, were always so committed to teaching and including Michael and showing him so much unconditional love.

Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome is about a real, ordinary family who did an extraordinary job of raising Michael.  Funny, heartwarming, and, at times, heartbreaking, this book shows what it's like for someone growing up with Down Syndrome. I enjoyed getting to know this special family and learning about not only the hardships, but also the joys of raising a special needs child.