Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini Posts

  • I haven't had internet for DAYS...seriously.  And not just in my house.  I haven't had it in my office, in other people's offices (because I've tried), or anywhere within a 2 miles radius of me.  I finally walked into town today and am sitting in a cafe on borrowed time.  Hence the build-up of a slew of mini-posts that I am about to spew out of my fingers.
  • On Friday Miles dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween.  It was super super easy.  We hot glued (if you can't hot-glue it, you should do it) spurs onto his wellies and got him all dressed up.  He kept saying "Heehaw!" all morning (think more donkey than cowboy), and when Dustin went to pick him up his spurs were long gone.   I will post photos soon. Like I said...borrowed time.
  • Halloween is a big deal here.  This entire week Miles has off school and we are taking part in a big parade tomorrow evening.  All of us (including the volunteers) are dressing up as Alice in Wonderland.  I'm the caterpillar.  So far I just look like a green condom.  Hopefully we can work on that a bit before I parade in front of the town.
  • Alright, I just wrote out a TON of mini-posts and then the internet went down HERE as well, and I lost everything past this point. AHHHhhhh!  (I might go crazy - but I'll try to remember what I wrote)
  • I'm constantly surprised by what has changed here in the last 11 years.  From language, to the cars (there are a lot more SUV's than before), to the violence (there is now very little).  I guess it has been over a decade.  It just doesn't feel like it to me.
  • These people put fresh cream on everything.  Hot chocolate, scones, name it.  It definitely makes up for the lack of ice cubes and decaffeinated products if you ask me.
  • Today I was hanging a picture up in our living room and Miles kepting saying I was hanging and "greengraph".  I thought he was mispronouncing it, but Dustin informed me that it is the Gaelic word for photograph and Miles' teacher told him that Miles has been saying that word everyday.... about what, I don't know.  In my dreams he is telling his teacher that his mom is an awesomeing "greengrapher", but I doubt that is the conversation context.
  • I think we figured out the secret to going on successful adventures with our boys (knock on wood).  Yesterday we made a big trip (to be posted soon) and we made the boys eat an early lunch and take naps, then left around 2 pm.  They did so well.  There was no whining and we didn't get home until about 9.  Much better than when we try to go in the morning.  Who knew?
  • On Tuesday I went with some friend to try out the latest craze...Zumba...  in the back of a pub...  on a sticky dancefloor... with no heat.  It was a good time.  Some of those ladies have got moves.  Their hips don't lie.
  • Someday I do plan on posting about what I do all day, what we've been working on, and of course PICTURES.... but like I said before... borrowed time. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

If Liam was a blogger.

Hi.  I love everything about this place.
 Every morning I go to worship with mommy and daddy and then to the office with them to work.  It's hard work to roll around on the floor, play with toys, and constantly ask if I can play a game on the computer (even though I don't really know how to play any).  I usually hang out in there with them until it is time to go get Miles and then we split.  Picking him up is lots of fun because I've usually missed him quite a bit.

Things I love: I love to talk.  I will say anything.  People tell me everyday that I talk way more than I should for my age, but I say....if you got it, use it!  So I do.  I use it to tattle on my brother, to copy what my brother says, to tease my mommy and daddy, to play tricks on the volunteers, and even to scold Miles when he does something I don't like.  I also like to ask for things....mostly food.  Luckily the fridge is right at my height, so I can go get yogurts anytime I want....which is often. I also love "toasht".  Like, I LOVE it.  And apples.  I still love apples and eat one everday when I go with mommy or daddy to their office.

When we got here someone left us big stuffed bears on our beds.  Mine is as big as me and I love it so much that I carry it all over the flat. 
Oh, and I love baths now.  My mom and dad can't get me out of them.

My favorite thing to do right now is to follow my brother around.  That guy is so funny.  I want to be just like him.  He really cracks me up, and gives me all sorts of ideas of things I can do.  I don't know what I'd do without him.

If Miles was a blogger.

Hi. Miles here.
Lately I've been very busy jumping in mud puddles and eating chocolate biscuits, but I thought I would take a moment to tell you how life in the good ol' UK has been from my perspective.

Oh sorry, I got a bit distracted because a 2008 black Peugeot just drove by our window.
So anyways, things here are pretty good.  My crazy parents sent me to an Irish language school because it was the only place that had room for me.  It's great and all, but I have a really hard time understanding what they're saying because they keep saying a bunch of jibberish and then mixing in English with it.  I thought it was just me until the other day when my mom dropped me off and couldn't even decipher what they were saying.  She didn't say that, but I could tell by the deer-caught-in-headlights look on her face when the teacher tried to ask Liam what was on the cover of his book. psh. amateur.

Right now my days are broken up into three sections (not counting school).
Morning: My favorite morning activities include a brisk sprint around the flat at around 6:17 am.  I like to challange myself by turning on every light in the place while I'm running past it.  Sometimes I can even get all of them in the first lap.  I then wake up my brother, because I really don't want him to sleep longer than me...that's just lame.

This time it was a 2009 Toyota with alloy rims.
Back to my day...
Afternoon: My mom usually picks me up from school where I usually make my grand exit with paint all over my clothes, snot on my sleeves, and shouting "goodbye!" to Slan* who must be this kid in my class, but I haven't figured out who yet.  All I know is that everyone else is saying goodbye to him as well.  Then on the way home I tell my mom all about my day playing with Gaelic.  She keeps saying Gaelic is a language, not a person, but she obviously hasn't ever met him.  Then I eat a nice lunch with Liam in our flat and lay down for a nap.  I am completely zonked after a tough day of playing hard.  Now that we have the training wheels on my bike, I get to ride around a bit as well.

Evening:  We usually eat dinner up at the Main House with all of the volunteers who LOVE ME.  In the evening Mom usually lets us watch a tv show or movie if we're good - especially if it's the weekend.  My favorite right now (as in yesterday and today) is Bolt, although I love a good Toy Story or Despicable Me as all time go-to movies.  My mom and dad also let me fast forward through the "kinda scawy" parts, which usually include anyone that looks even a little bit cross.  I also like to use this time to hijack my parents' laptop to send out emails to all my peeps and tweet a bit.  Today my mom came in and told me (like always) that I had to get off (she's such a buzz-kill), so I told her "That's okay, I done working."  We also have this cool phone that's actually attached to the wall and right at my level, so I can pick it up and call people whenever I want.  Lately I've also been able to go to sleep in the same room, and even fall asleep with my brother.  You see, ours is a love-hate relationship, although it is becoming a little more loving everyday.  I don't really know what I'd do without him.
 Come to think of it, I'd probably get lots of work done - he's always giving away my location and naughty deeds to the 'rents.

*"Slan" is actually the Gaelic word for "goodbye".

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glenariff Forest Park

On Saturday we went on adventure along the cost to a neighboring village and a forest park with waterfalls.  We opted for the 3 km hike that took us down past, and over, the waterfalls.  There were a lot of steps down to the bottom, but the boys were troopers, the view was absolutely beautiful, and there was a cute little cafe down at the bottom.  Unfortunately the cafe didn't open for an hour, and what goes down, must come back up again.  And in this instance what had gone down were two happy little boys with two well-rested/pleased parents, and what came up was quite the opposite.  But if everything here was perfect no one would want to read my blog anymore. (Because who wants to read about things working out perfectly all the time anyway?)

The forest itself was gorgeous.  I had just watched Twilight two nights before (some of the volunteers and I bought VIP tickets to the release of Breaking Dawn in Belfast, so we are gearing up) so I felt like with the moss-covered trees and lush wildlife that this would be the perfect place for some good-looking vampires to make an appearance.  Unfortunately, that was the only thing missing from this adventure.
The nearby town of Cushendall

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Crash into me.

This morning we went on a walk to the beach, much like we have other weekend mornings since we've been here.  We stumbled down the steps to the beach in our usual single file manner and stepped out onto the rocky shore.
I've seen beaches before.  I've seen this beach before.  I've laid out on beaches, fallen asleep on beaches, played catch on beaches, made sandcastles on beaches, and have had cool tropical drinks with little umbrellas on beaches.  But I've never before fallen in love with a beach.
Have you ever watched a wave - a Large wave - a Beautiful wave - overtake the beach in front of you?
I mean really watch?

Let's start with the color.  I don't know if it was the way the sun was shining just right this morning, but the ocean was a color different than any I had ever seen.  A few years ago when I was in San Francisco I was looking at beads with my friend Stephanie when  I picked up this string of grayish/greenish/blue beads that I thought were beautiful.  She saw them and instantly commented that they were the color of her ocean.  Her ocean - as though taking ownership of it.  I had seen the ocean...the San Francisco ocean that looked grey like the sky it met on the horizon, the Caribbean Ocean that was a tint brighter than any turquoise I had even imagined, and even the North Carolina ocean, with its deep blue/grays.  But today I saw the color of her ocean, now my ocean....which matched perfectly with that string of beads.
My family and I stood there silently staring at the ocean for at least 15 minutes.  In Miles and Liam years, that is like 2 hours. No one spoke.  No one ran around restlessly.  No one whined or said they wanted to go home.
Each wave began as a swell that grew into this towering wall.  Consider just this action.  There is something so agressive about the way a simple wave approaches the beach.  It feels like a group effort - so powerful.  As it falls forward and takes over the studded beach, tiny pebbles literally jump up in the air...willing it to slow down.   The sacrificial lamb...the way they pop up over the crashing wave; each at a different moment, begging it to stop.  It seems fruitless and silly, until the wave reaches our toes.  By that time it is this gentle cloud of white foam.  The aggression is gone, but the life still exists.  And then my favorite part...the sound of it retreating.  As is falls back into the ocean it makes this the light, gentle popping you hear when you turn over an American Indian rain stick.  The sound of the foamy bubbles running over the rocks and pebbles as they are pulling back to the sea.  A deep exhale....a release

Everything about it was beautiful...and calming...and perfect.  I wish I could package up the experience into a tiny little box and send it to everyone I love back home.  I wish I could have shared it with others that will never understand how amazing it was.  And I hope I remember it for as long as I live.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Life as we know it.

Sitting in very close proximity while grocery shopping. :)

 How long do you think that lasted?   (I'm referring to the smiling faces in the above picture of course.)

Life has been good.  There are lots of good things going on here that I'm excited to of which is that we finally have internet in our flat.  Can I tell you how excited this makes me?  I really didn't think I'd miss it that much...because I can totally go without email and facebook - no problem.  But planning excursions and finding recipes proves much more difficult with the internet at your disposal.  And I won't even begin to bore you with how much I've been dying to watch the first few episodes of this season's Grey's Anatomy.....

About two weeks ago we made our first trek out of town to a nearby town called Coleraine.  Everyone kept talking about how small it was, how we won't be able to find anything there, but the truth is that it actually surprised me with how large it was for a "small" town.  They must think we're from some crazy metropolis.  Boy, we have them fooled.
Last weekend we stuck close to home and decided to explore Ballycastle (about 2 miles from Corrymeela and within walking distance) on Saturday.  Since it was nice out, we decide to walk it, and I took a few pictures.

Walking on a trail between the golf course and beach.

The nearby golf course.  Always busy....rain or shine.

A view of the marina.
That night we had family movie and pizza night.  For the first time we let the boys eat their dinner in front of the tv.  I know this seems like bad parenting, but the truth is that I've been waiting for them to get old enough to enjoy the American past-time of dinner (namely, pizza) and a movie. :)

Last night we went on our first "date night" since being here.  I was beginning to get worried about being able to have time together as a couple.  And although I deeply miss my go-to babysitters from back home, the volunteers here are awesome and seem to be up for the challenge.  (Especially if I provide them with a quiet space, some chocolate, and a host of other treats that are hard to come by in a group-living setting.)

I am starting to feel like this is turning into home.  I did the math the other day and realized that we could've moved to places within the United States and we would still be just as far as we are now from our family and friends.  For some reason that made the world feel like a much smaller place. :)
Some things I plan to blog about this week:
What we do all day.
The amazing waterfalls we saw today.
Being "fed".
Some photos I've been working on for a potential portfolio.
And, if I'm honest, probably more about how much I LOVE the internet. Welcome back, my long lost friend. (sigh.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The story of a girl, her hair, and the magic mirror.

Once upon a time, before I my brother’s wedding and my trip across the ocean, I decided to get my hair cut.  By this time I was living in my hometown with my parents and so I scheduled an appointment at the salon my mom’s gone to for years.  I knew it was chancy to cut my hair right before a wedding and right before I trekked across the globe to my new home, but I wasn’t doing anything exciting – just a highlight and trim.  Harmless, right? 
My first mistake was wondering outloud if I should try my hand at the full-bang trend that was hitting Hollywood.  You know the look – full bangs, straight across, very edgy.  I sat in my adjustable chair as my vocal musings turned into a very convincing argument in favor of said-bangs by an unbiased bystander, also known as the owner of the salon.  I listened as she talked about how easy they were to manage and straighten on days you were feeling up to it, and clip back on days when you were feeling a little less-than-edgy.  I hesitated – just for a moment – expressing my concern with doing something drastic just three days before I would stand in front of family and friends at my brother’s wedding, before hundreds of images would be taken of me to be preserved in history, before I would uproot my family and lose my many comforts of home to become emersed in a new culture and community.  I told her I was nervous.  But I thought…it’s just hair.

So she cut.

As she stepped away so I could see myself in the mirror I thought for sure it would be a little different. 

I had no idea. 

It’s just hair.
I’ve had bad haircuts.  I’ve even had REALLY bad dye-jobs (mostly done by myself).  I’ve always handled them with stride – usually because they were my own fault. 
But this time I lost it.  I told her I hated it – nicely.  I walked out and convinced myself it is just hair…hair that will grow back.

Never underestimate a girl and her hair. 

It’s now a month later and I still can’t wear my bangs down.  This actually wouldn’t be a big deal.
Except when you’re just the slightest bit homesick.  And you left everything at home.  And you keep thinking of reasons you don’t feel comfortable in your new home yet.

Then it is a big deal.  Then it’s more than just a story of a girl and her hair.

{Until you meet the full-length "magic" mirror in you flat that inexplicably makes you look 2 sizes smaller.  Then you can forget about your terrible haircut for just a few moments every morning when you mentally commit to yourself that you shall look in no other mirror for the rest of the day.}
The End

Monday, October 3, 2011

Great accomplishments

I decided to make a list of all of the grand accomplishments my sons had in the first week we were here.  There was no feeling sorry for themselves because they missed their toys, and there was definitely no talk of their dear beloved dog once we got here (sorry Coop).  In fact, I've been amazed at what they accomplished so quickly.  So here is a list of the top six things they conquered before I even had the chance to shake my jetlag.

#1.  Make the best of what they had.  Miles wanted cars everywhere we went, and there weren't always cars available.  On our first day here one of the innovative volunteers drew Miles a car, cut it out, and gave it to him....and he was totally sold.  Our lives have been filled with paper-made cars, cardboard ramps, and empty kitchen boxes since.

#2.  Make common activities as dangerous as possible.  


#3. Climb things that I never dreamed possible.  When we first got here I saw this GIANT slide and thought "well that's too bad, they won't be able to go down that for a few years".  Mostly because the only way up was this complicated and tricky robe thing.  Same thing with the rope ladder below.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Not only was Miles climbing up both by the end of the week, but his little brother was very close behind.  Now they're both ol' pros.

#4.  Kicking those "baby" swings to the curb.  Mostly since they no longer exist in our world.

#5.  Wooing the ladies.  These two boys have somehow convinced the female volunteers (and even some of the male) to answer to their every request.  They are powerless to the charm these two boys shamelessly exude.

#6.  FINDING EVERY. SINGLE. PUDDLE. in Ballycastle.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Nice Little Sunday Morning

When we lived in Peoria we used to spend Sunday mornings reading the paper, drinking coffee, and keeping everyone in their pjs as long as we could until it was time to load into the car for church.  I thought that was PERFECT.  I couldn't think of a better way in the whole wide world to spend my Sunday morning.  In fact, I wondered how we were going to figure out our mornings here with no paper and only instant coffee.....

Although I realize there are things just as beautiful in every corner of the world, this morning has taught me reverence - something I have lost in my older age and life experiences.  Somehow along the way I forgot how to be "wowed".

Until today.