Dear Friends and Family,
Every year as I read through the Christmas cards and letters we get, I think I’d like to put our letter on some neat Christmas paper. And every year I write our Christmas letter, there’s so much happening that there’s no space left for decorated margins or pictures. Yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone, and yes, again, it’s been a very busy year at the Cross house.
Maxing Out the Vacation Time
Exxon’s vacation policy is “use it or lose it.” The Cross vacation policy is “use it to the max!” This was the year that we took separate vacations. (No, everything’s fine!) John’s idea of vacation this year was Scouting, Scouting, and more Scouting. Although Scouting is wonderful, my ideas for vacation were different. The kids were part of everything, so they got double the fun time.
The summer was chock to block. One way or another, someone was coming or going. Fortunately for the fish and the gerbils, someone was always around to feed them. Between the comings and goings this summer, John and I saw each other about a week. The summer vacations started the end of May, just after school was out for the kids. Robert, David and I set out for Ireland for 3 weeks. Before we got back, John and Richard took off for Philmont Scout Ranch for 2 weeks. After I picked John and Richard up at the airport, I took Richard directly to Camp Strake Scout Camp. We had one week together before John took a business trip for a week. Then he took David to Camp Strake for 4 days, came home to change gear and headed off to National Scout Jamboree with Richard and Robert for 2 weeks. They got back on a Friday, the week before the kids had to head back to school on Aug. 13th. It was a whirlwind summer.
Ireland and Wales
Richard and John wanted to Scout all summer, so Robert, David and I headed to Ireland where my sister Theresa and her family are on a temporary assignment with H-P for 3 years. We got into Dublin on June 1 and Theresa showed us the sights around the Dublin area, including the beautiful Powerscourt Gardens, Malahide Castle, Glendalough, and the ancient mounded burial grounds of Newgrange and Knowth. With Theresa’s girls, Janiie and Shannon, we spent several days in Wales touring the outstanding coastal castles of Edward I. They were incredible castles, especially Caernarfon, where several Princes of Wales, including Charles, have been invested. We also visited the Llechweld slate mine, which is still in operation. After Wales, Robert, David and I spent a few days exploring Dublin on our own. The boys really liked riding around on the top floor of the double decker busses. At Trinity College, we saw the famous Book of Kells, which is incredibly well preserved and especially rare, since Henry VIII ordered the mass burnings of religious articles during his tenure. Of course, we had to check out the Guinness Brewery. The kids could go into the pub and school groups were even taking field trips there. (I bet there would be opposition here if a school field trip was planned to the Budweiser plant!) To complete our stay, Theresa took us on a grand road trip around the southern half of Ireland, where we saw some of the most notable sights, such as the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, Clonmacnoise, Killarney, Bunratty Castle, the Gap of Dunloe, Waterford crystal factory, the Dingle Peninsula, and the rocky, moon-scape terrain of the Burren. The boys almost gave me heart failure as they slid on their bellies and looked down the side of the awesome Cliffs of Moher - straight-down 600 feet! I got a bit tipsy being an Irish Whiskey taster at the Jameson Distillery, but luckily, Theresa was an excellent “wrong side of the road” designated driver. We all tried our spade at digging peat at a working peat farm and, yes, we all kissed the Blarney Stone. No trip to Ireland is complete without rain and we had our share, but for the most part, our weather was nice. Although to us Texans it was sti
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