Category Archives: Mom Camp 2013

These are posts related to the exciting happening from mom camp!

Ireland Day 4: Things go sideways

Mom Camp Day 4: This was one of those days when things just seem to go sideways on you. We spent the night at a rather odd hotel in New Ross (a town founded by the Marshal) and we overslept.  We had a full day’s agenda that had to be majorly altered.  We skipped the Dunbrody Famine Ship as well as Waterford and made our way to the Irish Tintern Abbey.  

We made a trip the parent Abbey in Wales last year, (for those interested in the original Abbey).  For those of you who don’t know, the Irish Tintern Abbey was founded by the Marshal.  He had a pretty rough sea crossing to Ireland.  He pledged to found a new Abbey if he made it to shore.  Thankfully he made it and he was as good as his word and founded the Abbey.

Personally, having been to both, I prefer the Irish Abbey.  The grounds at the Irish Tintern are far more lush and evocative of the past.   Unlike it’s parent abbey in Wales, the Irish Tintern is surrounded by lovely forests and walking paths.  It also features a lovely bridge that crosses over a small river near the abbey.  It is very picturesque!  My only complaint was that we didn’t have more time to spend there!

inside the abbey 

Next, it was off to Kilkenny another Anglo-Norman city. In Kilkenny we stayed in the castle’s old carriage house that has been converted to a hotel.  Very nice.  It had an English style garden between the carriage house and the castle across the way.

Kilkenny also prides itself on maintaining a lot of its medieval history.  They have the medieval mile you can walk and imagine what the city might have looked it. In town there is also a pub that date backs to the 1300s.  Back in the day it was run by a witch!  Of course it’s a tourist trap.  But with two kids, who could skip it?  We were treated to an Irish drum circle lesson.

The Captain also discovered Kilkenny is where Smithwick’s Beer is brewed.  So we stopped into the shop for a t-shirt.

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Out of Dublin: MCD 3

Day 3: By day 3 it was time to leave Dublin. We drove down the old military road and the Sally Gap on the way to Glendalough.

We stopped road side to explore a stream and the poor Princess fell in! We had to do a roadside outfit change… It was horribly cold for a Vegas kid with soaked pants and all… Then it was get back in the car for another bit of driving. 

At Glendalough we walked the grounds and forests. It’s easy to see how the Irish folk tales started about various bad fairies. The woods were far more lush than our trip to the 100 acre woods in England. Darker and certainty more mysterious! 

There we also a high number of ferns!!! This of course was very exciting for us because we love the Incorrigible books (See our reviews: book #2, book #3, book #4.  We are still reading #5.  But, look for a review of it soon!) In the books, there are A LOT of side bars on the different types of ferns.  The desert kids loved seeing them in their natural environment.  

And speaking of ferns leaving Glendalough it was time to rush to Ferns! Okay, why Ferns you might ask?  Well, it was the seat of power for the kingdom of Leinster.  The castle there was built by none other than William Marshal (Shameless plug for my book here!).  

Ferns Castle built by William Marshal


Two fire places at Ferns. The lower more primative fireplace may have been built by Strongbow


We made it to the castle just in time for the last tour of the day.  Our guide was a delightful young man who was pleased to see we were interested in the Marshal, Strongbow and Diarmait Mac Murchada (Modern Irish: Diarmaid Mac Murchadha), anglicised as Dermot MacMurrough or Dermod MacMurrough.   He spent a long time with us discussing the castle history and the history of those men. 

Dry moat at Ferns

We also made our way to the Abbey founded by Strongbow as well as the place thought be be Dermot MacMurrough’s grave site.  After visiting the grave a small lady bug and we took it as sign from the warlord himself. 

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Mom Camp Goes Abroad, Again  (Part One –The Dublin Days)

This year Mom Camp set off across the pond one more time.  This year we took advantage of the cheap Euro and made our way to Ireland. 

Hello cold weather and shamrocks!  

Day 1: On arrival, it was off to the races.  I am a believer in never giving into jet lag.  No rest for the weary! 

We hit Dublin Castle and saw the underground Norman Castle section of the old place. 

We went to Christ Church as well as St. Patrick’s and walked the old Viking portion of the city. 

Next stop was a little shopping for father-son matching Irish caps. 

The final experience of the day was a visit to the book of Kells. 

Day 2: We took a walk to the famous Kilmainham  Goal.  The jail held prisoners who stole nothing more than a loaf of bread during the famine as well as the Irish rebels from the 1916 rising.  We saw their cells and the place they were shot. 


Next, we had lunch in Temple Bar and walked around the area.  A stroll through St. Stephen’s Green followed.  Cinco made the observation that it seemed a lot like St. James Park in London.  I had to agree.

At the National Museum of Archeology we entountered ET… 


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Mom Camp 2015 is back!

I know many of my loyal followers were concerned that this might be the summer that  I ended Mom Camp.  No such luck.  It’s just that we took a quick trip to Ireland as soon as school ended and Mom Camp got a slow start.   

However, there are quite a few odd ball activities in store…  HONG KONG HANDOVER DAY!  We will also be revisiting our old favorites—  Dino Days, fairy houses…  And more.  So start tuned for all the Mom Camp glory! 

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Book Review.

A History of County Wexford: A comprehensive study of Wexford's history, culture and peopleA History of County Wexford: A comprehensive study of Wexford’s history, culture and people by Nicholas Furlong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A History of the County of Wexford is clearly not a book for everyone. It is about a county on the East Coast of Ireland. However, if you have a reason to read it you will certainly enjoy the text. The author takes a lot of time to go through the history of the area and places in the context of the greater history of Ireland. If you want to know who was involved in the 1798 Rising or which men ran the IRB in Wexford this is the book for you.

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Michael Collins

Michael Collins: The Man Who Made IrelandMichael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland by Tim Pat Coogan

Yes, it took me forever to finish this book. But now it is done. In my defense, the book is rather dense and the author writes with the expectation that the reader has a more intimate understanding of Irish history than I possess. The book has TONS of information about Collins. I would suggest you read a basic book on the history of the 1916 Rising and the Civil War and then move to this more detailed account of Collins’ life.

I also suspect the author is white washing a few elements of Collins’ character. He hints at Collins drinking and his potential affairs with women. But, Coogan dismissed many of the stories.

All and all I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.

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Maze Runner: Starts Slow but Keep Reading!

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maze Runner is another book from the teen dystopian genre. A group of teen boys have been placed in a glade inside a huge maze. They have no memories of their lives before the maze but they know they need to get out! Instead of reverting to a Lord of the Flies society, they build a community in the glade and work together. While this is happening, the boys are also menaced by strange half organic-half machine monsters!

Things go side ways when a young women is sent to the Glade and the craziness begins.

I liked the book as you can see by my 4 star rating. But, this is also a genre I favor. The plot is good, but it does take the story a while to get moving. I almost gave up on it about a third of the way in. After checking online at a few other reviews, I decided to stick with it and I was happy I did!

One negative, the writing is a little weak. Some of the dialog seems contrived and a few places the book is worth a quick skimming over.

If you like this ‘type’ of book go for it! If it’s not your genre skip it. Unlike Hunger Games, I would not qualify Maze Runner as a cross-over book.

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China Dolls Lisa See’s Newest Book Isn’t Her Best: A Bookymom Review

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really loved Lisa See’s other books so when this came out I was eager to give it a try. Sadly, the book did not meet my expectations.

China Dolls follows the story of three women– one of whom is NOT Chinese– during the depression, through the war and into to the post-war period.

For me, the characters never really gelled. In other Lisa See books, the characters really came alive. They pulsates with individual spirit and emotion. Even when I read Dreams of Pearl and found Pearl to be obnoxious, she seemed like a real person. In China Dolls, the women are just that dolls, rather lifeless characters following a plot without believable emotion.

If you want to avoid spoilers stop reading now!!

They go through so many things– dead husbands and children, love triangles, Japanese interment, out of wedlock children, marrying gay men, murder, jail! It’s more of a soap-opera than a meaningful picture of their lives. So much happens and so much is revealed that your head is spinning from minute to minute. And, all the drama the emotions and experiences of the characters are either over done or incredibly shallow!

See also doesn’t paint the picture of time and place like she has in her previous novels. In her past works, the location and time period are so well created they almost become a character. She allows the read to be immersed in the period. That did not happen here. What was pre-war San Fransisco Chinatown like? What about post war Miami?

All and I all I recommend skipping this book and reading Lisa See’s other much better novels.

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Tangled: The Junior Novelization (Disney Tangled)Tangled: The Junior Novelization by Irene Trimble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the Tangled novel driving my daughter around town. I refuse to let my kids watch movies or play video games in the car while we drive to and from various activities. Maybe audio books aren’t much better. But in my mind they are a slight improvement.

I didn’t think this would add much to the movie’s story. But, I was pleasantly surprised. As a mom who has seen the film more than a few times, I figured I knew the story down pat. But, the author managed to add a few details and elements that really added to the story telling experience. The emotions of the characters are built up throughout the story and there are several details are added to the story.

I enjoyed listening to the story and it has made me think, I might try another novelization with the kids driving through town!

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Outrage (Inspector Erlendur #9)Outrage by Arnaldur Indriðason
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you follow my blog, you know I typically don’t read books that fall into the Mystery/suspense genre. So how did I find my way to this book?

My husband, The Capt., was threatening to take the family on a vacation to Iceland. So I randomly looked up books using the keyword Iceland at our local library and somehow or another this one popped up. I decided to give it a try.

Translations can definitely be tricky reads. But I found this one to of been translated well.

The story is a pretty typical suspense novel where the readers follow a few red hearings until the real murdered is discovered almost by accident.

All and all, it was an average read. Nothing special.

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