Thursday, November 24, 2011

Two Little Turkeys

and their bounty from a recent care package from their grandparents.  Today they are most definitey thankful for goldfish crackers. :)


Today while my friends and family are gathered for their giant Thanksgiving feasts and are indulging in some of my favorite comfort foods on the planet I will be working.  Don't get me's not hard work I'm doing.  In fact, at one stage I get to help decorate the center for Christmas.  That's not all bad for this Christmas-loving girl.  I envision it like decorating my house...except bigger and better.
Which makes me think of  my house, and all the warmth it exuded this time of it was my favorite place to be between now and January.  Which makes me think of my other home in Ohio...and my brothers on the east coast...and all the people back home that I love.  Which, in turn, makes me homesick.  For the first time since being here I am hopelessly homesick.
How does one counteract the glorified thoughts of her family stuffing themselves and watching American football at her home while she ignores the holiday in Northern Ireland?
By writing a list of things she is Thankful for of course.

I am thankful for my job
The other day I was talking about the affect this would someday have on my children, and someone told me they thought it was awesome that I "brought my kids over here to watch us work towards the peace process in Northern Ireland."  It reminded me why I'm here.  At times it feels like I get caught up in planning events and organizing folders...I forget what it all leads to.

I am thankful for my kids
Sometimes I have bad days and they remind me to laugh.  They're excited to see me every day.  And there are times when they follow me around whining for me to pick them up.  And even at moments when it isn't convenient, I will always pick them up.  Because I have friends that will never get to do that.  I do it for them.  And I do it for myself.  Because soon no one is going to ask me to "carry you!"

I am thankful for my husband
Who is pretty all-around awesome.  
I'm also thankful for razors
So that he can shave off that ugly thing growing on his lip at the end of "Movember"
I'm thankful for my health.
I take it for granted every day, yet I am so lucky to have such a healthy family.  And I have friends that have taught me that nothing should be taken for granted.

I am thankful that I have people back home to miss.

I'm thankful I have many places to call "home."
I am thankful for the friends I've made here.

I am thankful for the cliff I live on the edge of, and for the city that looks magical at the tip of dusk and dawn from this cliff.

I am thankful for a warm house and delicious food that just shows up in my life 7 days a week.
And finally, I am thankful that I can officially start streaming in Christmas music.
Because I tried to do it yesterday, and it just felt unnatural.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don't Hate.

On Sunday night I went with some volunteers/friends to see Twilight's Breaking Dawn.  One of my first questions when we moved here was whether I'd be able to see the movie, and if I'd have anyone to see it with since Dustin has already promised me that he will never pay for a ticket to see it in the theater.  Luckily people all over the world love Twilight as much as I do.  And even luckier....people from other parts of the world know how to score VIP theater seats.
The group in the Directors Lounge, getting our free cappuccinos and lattes before the movie.
The best part of the whole experience was the seating.  We each got our own personal reclining overstuffed chair.  If the movie hadn't been so absolutely awesome, I would have fallen asleep because I was so comfortable. :)
Aileen and Jack - the one "other half" that actually tolerated coming to the movie for the sake of his love.

Anna and me getting ready for the movie to start with all of our terrible food.

Kathleen and Andre practicing their elated facial expressions before the movie starts.
I have to admit.  This was more comfortable than watching a movie in my own flat.  I even took my shoes off so I could get the full movie-watching experience. :)

My view.

I promise you I actually am working.  I just think these types of things are more fun to write about.  I promise the very soon I will fill you in on all of the awesome things we get to do for our jobs these days. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

American Thanksgiving in Northern Ireland

 Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving at the Center.  I roast a proper turkey, made a million proper pies, and served it to people from all over the world.  Well, not just me...there are a number of Americans on staff and we all put our heads together to fix a fantastic Thanksgiving feast. 

everyone pitched in.

decorating the tables to look quite festive.

my two little turkeys

 Once the food was prepared we all ate too much, laugh plenty, and then went around and all shared what we are thankful for. It may have been the most traditional Thanksgiving I've ever had.  And I had to travel halfway around the globe to find it.
Breaking into the Christmas crackers early!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Art of the [{Hug}]

I am not a hugger.
I wish I was.
Of course, this isn't a blanket rule for me.  I would hug and cuddle my kids all day long if I could.  I hug Dustin (usually willingly) and when I moved away from home I started hugging my family when we said "hello" or "goodbye". 
But as for everyone else...let's just say it isn't my first instinct to hug someone at the first flood of gratitude, or love, or even sadness. In fact, I've been known to stress out in certain situations over how others feel about the fact that I just can't bring myself to physically touch them when they are grieving.
I'm not a germaphobe - actually quite the opposite.  (I don't think a germaphobe would share water glasses with a two year old or eat food that has fallen onto the ground in public places - both of which I am guilty of.)
I'm not scared of people not wanting me to hug them.  If I'm honest, I'm more scared of them  wanting  me to.
I don't really know why I'm like that, but I'm pretty certain I've been this way since I was a toddler.  My parents didn't hold back affections from me, and all my life I've been surrounded by friends that LOVE hugging.  In fact, I'm married to a man that would be surgically attached to me in a hugging position if I would just sign off on the forms. 
I've tolerated it, and even appreciated it for what it is.  Yet some would joke that they can feel me physically cringe when they hug me. 

I'm a master of the half-hug, and I'll sign on to a group hug any chance I get.  But the full-on embrace?
I guess it's just not my love language - ya know?
But that isn't an option here. 
Let me just say that our Mondays start out here with "Happy Mondays", which involve going around the room and hugging everyone in it while saying "Happy Monday."  And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.  You are safe from no one.  And safe side-hugs are prohibited.  People here time their hugs in seconds rather than milliseconds.  They belong to the "wrap your arms around them while rubbing their back and squeezing tight" camp, instead of the "stiff back-patting" camp I've bought into.
And every week gets easier.
And better.
And I think I might, by the end of these two years, become a hugger. 
A real life, "put your sandwich down and give me a hug" hugger.
Because if you allow it to, it does feel good.  And good things don't just grow on trees.  We are responsible for bringing them into our lives, and allowing them to flourish.
So hide your women, children, cats, and dogs.....because no one is safe from what is sure to become my signature embrace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giant's Causeway and Bushmills

Two weekends ago we took a short trip on a beautiful day to the natural mystery called Giants Causeway.  Not only did we have beautiful weather to travel by, but everyone was in a great mood, and fun was had by all.  To read more about the causeway click here.  

The shortened, non factual version...they are a bunch of crazy rock formation on the northern coast. 

Afterwards we decided to venture for a small snack/dinner in Bushmills, a small town near the causeway that also is home to Bushmills distillery.  It is also where I finally had my first proper pint since I've been here....2 months, can you believe it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Call me crazy.

A few weeks ago I posted this blog post....mostly leaving people wondering if that was me, and if I was crazy.  Yes and yes.  I was convinced by the volunteers to participate in what is called co-steering - also known as "getting in ice cold water and beat up by giant waves while pretending to look dangerous."  It ended up being much more fun than I had anticipated, and I've got the pictures to prove it. 

The whole group post-adventure....still smiling...still alive.

At one point one of the guides was swimming backwards and talking to us when a seal popped its head right up behind him.  After the initial fear of being attacked by a seal (for reals) I could enjoy just how cool it was to be in that moment and at that place.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The photograph

Three years ago yesterday I wrote this blog post.  Later that day I got to see this picture:
Yesterday - three years after the exact date of refferral - a copy of the above  picture arrived in my mailbox.  It was a copy I had ordered to hang up in my office, along with a bunch of other pictures.  The coincidence wasn't lost on me.  And tonight as we were reading stories to our little boys I studied their faces with extra supermom-power-intensity.  
I can't believe they're mine.  I can't believe I've been so lucky.  I can't believe I love them so much. I can't believe that the above little boy came home to us and started what has turned out to be a pretty awesome little family.  

I can't believe his cheeks were so darn chubby.
( them)

Friday, November 4, 2011

What did you do for Halloween?

Carving Pumpkins with the volunteers

Scooping out all the insides

All done!

Taking a break from serious pumpkin carving

The finished product!

Dressing up for school party - Hee haw!

Alice in Wonderland....and a scary guy on the end.

A bunny and mouse getting ready for the parade

A big Halloween parade followed by fireworks!

Bubye Pafifier

Dear Pafifier (a.k.a. Pacifier):

It's been a good run.  You've been deeply loved by a little toe-head boy who has had you in his clutches since the day he was born.  But this is your goodbye notice - your "dear john" if you will.  Oh, it isn't my choice.  Believe me, I didn't choose this.  You see, I loved you too.  I loved how you would easily make any terrible situation better.  I loved that the minute I pulled you out, my son was a magnetic cuddle bug - pulled by gravity to my shoulder, only to bend to the curve of my chest and arms....a perfect embrace.
But now I must bid you farewell.

On Sunday when we thought we lost you right before naptime I was devastated.  NOT NAPTIME! was what I was thinking, but when I went it to tell my little anticipating one year old that you were gone - never to be found - three things happened.

  1. He looked up at me and said "never to be found?"
  2. He shrugged his shoulders and said "okay."
  3. And then he fell asleep without a sound.
I know...I thought there would be more as well.  And when I found you during naptime while he was fast asleep it took everything in my power to put you up in the closet - keeping you close by for any night-time emergencies, rather than on his pillow next to his slumbering body.  And when he didn't ask for you for days after that?  What can I say?  It broke my heart as well.  And last night was the kicker.  When he was throwing up and crying and he asked for you.  Do you know how hard it was for me to say you were gone when all along you were only an arm's length away?  And he just accepted it - so trusting.  Letting that happen was one of the hardest things I've had to do.
I know there are parents out there that would give their left arm to break their kids of you, but the truth is that I wasn't ready.  It was just another reminder of how little control I have over my babies growing up.  A reminder that I won't get to decide when he stops sitting on my lap, or asking me to read stories, or giving me a big smacking kiss on the lips.  Or calling me "mommy."  Like you, these things will someday become things of the past, and you are just another reminder of that.  
So stop feeling sorry for yourself, because I'm doing enough of that for the both of us.  
Yours truly....The mom.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Deepest Fear

Today the volunteer leading worship shared this poem by Marrianne Williamson, read by Nelson Mandela at his 1994 inaugural speech.  I'm sure I've heard it before, but today it resonated with me, and I wanted to share it.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

That Mom

I want to be that mom.

that isn't afraid to take a silly photograph because she'll look bad.
that isn't terrified of taking chances.
that teaches her kids to have the confidence to try new things.
that tells bad jokes and funny stories that their friends will learn to love.
that isn't ashamed to squeeze into a wet suit that is two sizes too small.
that teaches them to say no to peer pressure, but yes to ice cream for dinner.
that can lift a couch up over her head (or maybe just one end of a loveseat) without breaking a sweat.
that can build a bookshelf with her bare hands.
that will skip mopping the floor to read stories (and maybe catch the most recent episode of Grey's Anatomy).
that fosters their creativity.
that allows them to be themselves, but doesn't allow them to interrupt adults.
that will admit she is wrong...or sorry...or thankful.
that will dance in public, even when I'm terrified.
that they can be proud of.