Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Cheer.

For our family Christmas Eve is officially tonight.  This is my favorite moment of Christmas - the time just before the night sky darkens the day leading to Christmas Eve.  Tonight we'll be cuddling together to watch a new Christmas movie, drink hot chocolate, open a few presents, and share in a traditional shepherds supper.
For the last two days I've been putting together this clever (or so I thought) card to send to all of you, when my husband informed me moments ago that it was incredibly hokey and he would roll his eyes at it if he received it in the mail.  After much contemplation over what exactly was wrong with "hokey" things, and thoughts around when my husband turned into such a critic of Christmas cards, littered with thoughts of muffled bitterness at his lack of help in the matter, I decided to just share a digital version of it with you all rather than pay to send out a card my husband wasn't 100% behind.  I hope you all have a wonderful new year and holiday season.  And I pray that your eyes don't get stuck in the back of you head from rolling them too hard.

p.s. If you point out that this is actually a week late, I will not be your friend anymore.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Things have been quiet here.  Well not here in Northern Ireland, but here in my heart.  It was a snowball effect really; starting off with no time to post about Liam's birthday, then escalating into this idea that I couldn't possibly post anything else until I had done my motherly duties as a blogger, and finally bulging into this silence situated between sadness and busyness.

I wanted this December to be different.  I even read a book called Doing December Differently.  I was going to focus on the things that matter at Christmas, and I was going to emphasize them to my children.  What started out as good intentions turned into exactly what I didn't want - lists, which turned into working too much, which turned into days where I would only see my children as I was running home for 15 minutes to nurse my youngest.  I did exactly what I promised myself I would never do again - I did too much. And in the midst of the busyness I lost a lot of things.  I lost my Christmas spirit.  I lost time with my children.  And I lost myself. 
What I found was sadness.

I've never associated Christmas with sadness, but this year it has crept up on me.  If you think about it, the Christmas story is so so sad.  A young teenage girl told that she will have a baby.  Probably ridiculed and rejected by society because of her pregnancy out of wedlock, giving birth in the worst of conditions without her mother or any medical doctor there to hold her hand, so in love with this tiny being that it scared her.  Knowing that he wasn't hers to keep.  As an adoptive mom and a birth mom, I suddenly find it all so somber.  I'm sad for Mary. 

I'm sad for the children and parents affected by violence in my home country.  I'm sad because my country can't figure out what to do, and no solution seems adequate.  I'm sad because I'm trying to figure out how I can move back to a place that disappoints me so much.  I'm sad because I also miss and love that place.

I'm sad because today I had to say goodbye to people I love.  I had to say goodbye...again...and it made me so sad...again.

I'm sad because I'm homesick for the people I love from the places I've called home.  Yes, that still happens.

I'm sad because lately I haven't had the patience my children deserve.

I'm sad because I can't catch up with emails I need to send to friends I miss dearly.

I'm sad because Christmas happens in just a few days and I have haven't had a chance to enjoy it.

I'm sad because, with the overseas travel time, we haven't received any Christmas cards from home yet.

I'm sad because I've wasted so much time being sad when I have so so much to rejoice in.

So I'm done.  I'm done being sad.

Tomorrow I'm getting on a plane with my little family and flying to a country I've never been to, on  continent I've never been to. 
I'm going to see my mom and dad, and my brother and sister-in-law.
I'm going to hit the calendar "pause" button until we get back next week. 
And when I return I'm going to start counting down to our Christmas.  We're going to pretend like Christmas hasn't already happened, and we're going to do it right.  We going to take the pressure off, and we're going to be what we need to be to make our family happy.  I'm pretty sure Jesus won't care the it's not on the 25th of December. 

And in the meantime I wish for all of you happiness this Christmas season.  I hope you've been better at it than me this year.  I hope that you are sharing it with people you love.  I hope you are figuring out a way to shine in a world that makes it so difficult sometimes. 

And I hope you'll share your light with me.  Because it only takes a spark to see what's around you.

We can be one another's light.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

This is my confession...

The terrible, awful, very bad confessions of Miles', Liam's, and Ollie's mother...
  • I tried to get on board with the "bugs deserve to live" stance like your dad and Nana, and to gently put the little creeps outside to be amongst their native environment.  However, all bets are off when you're not there to see it, and the little buggers don't stand a chance against the closest shoe/book/magazine/insert heavy object I can find.
  • I ate 88% of your Halloween candy.
  • I don't think that other mothers typically make their non-napping son stay in bed for the entire 2.5 hours the other son is sleeping so that he can have some "down time".
  • Although I LOVE the 36th truck coloring page that you've just handed me this week, I can't keep them all.  And I don't have a growing file folder anywhere or a fancy binder.  The 126 others you can't seem to find from this month? They aren't going to show up in some box I've been keeping for your graduation day when we can pour over them together.  They're in the recycling bin babe. Keep up the good work though.
  • I sometimes make really nice, fancy desserts and don't let you have any.  It's not that I don't love you, but I know that you would be just as excited about a sandy half-eaten Twizzler you found under the picnic table.
  • I hate don't love playgrounds.
  • I used to get super anxious about taking you to birthday parties of friends I don't know.  In fact, until earlier this week, I always just pretended we had a "previous engagement."  We appeared to be very busy people.
  • Bathtime is not my favorite part of the day.  In fact, I myself find showering to be an inconvenience that I only do daily so my own mom won't scold me.
  • Your father and I decided that you weren't going to get any presents from us for Christmas this year.  I'm sorry we suck so much, but we are taking you on a very exciting trip over the holiday.  Haven't you always been bugging us to take you to Morocco?  No? Someday you'll thank us.  Also, most likely anything we got you we'd have to leave here. 
  • Which reminds me....a lot of your toys will not be coming with us to the U.S.  Which means they may be gradually disappearing over the next few months.  Not the toys that other people have been giving you as gifts, but more likely the "previously loved" cheap toys your mom and dad have wrapped up and given you over the year.
  • I have a chocolate stash in my bedroom you don't know about.  It's even down at your level.  
  • Liam - you have two identical blankies.
  • You all three wore the exact same cloth diapers.  I know that seems gross, and they are on their last leg, but trust me when I say you didn't know the difference.
  • I'm trying to groom one of you to be a hairdresser so I can get free colors and highlights from 18 years onwards.  
  • I despise the movie "Flushed Away" and I can't even tell you why.  Maybe it's the idea of an entire city of rats living down in a sewer.  Maybe it's the poor story-line.  I think it's the disgusting giant belch let out by the slightly overweight rat at the beginning that is so powerful it includes gas ripples and the other rat's hair flapping in the the terrific wake of disgustingness.  I feel nauseous just writing about it - and I'm no prude.
  • I sometimes don't eat all of my vegetables and I still get dessert.  When you're thirty plus you can do the same.
  •  Sometimes when you're in trouble you say really funny things and I have to leave the room so I can laugh.
  • The reason you probably won't get all of those really super cute crafts that all of the other kids in America are doing, or won't have kick-ass handmade party invitations, or other cool things is because I swore off Pintrest's ability to make me feel inadequate.  I no longer pin those sorts of things because I just can't keep up with them.  Other mothers are awesome at it. I tried it.  I really did.  We'll just spend a lot of time admiring everyone else's cute stuff and congratulating them on their hard work. 
  • When you go to bed your dad and I eat delicious foods that we don't share with you.
  • When they say you've been naughty or "overly active" at school I only pretend to side with them.  In truth, I'm dreaming of how those "qualities" will someday make you amazingly talented individuals, and we'll all sit around laughing about your crazy ways and how they led to your amazing careers as stunt doubles or playwrights or whatever it is that "overly active" little boys choose to become.
Forgive me.  I wish I could say I'm sorry....but that would be yet another lie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanks for Thanksgiving...

It has taken me being completely out of the country for two Thanksgivings in a row to realize that it may be my favorite holiday in the whole wide world.

What other holiday has yet to be taken completely over by commercialization and  allows people to just sit around spending time with one another and being thankful.

**I'm not sure how much longer it will last as I read from afar about the stores that open their doors as early as Thanksgiving day, while bellies are still stuffed and the turkey is still warm - making their workers come in to work when they should be spending their days with family and giving thanks.  But for now I will pretend that this too will end so I can remain under the illusion that Thanksgiving will continue to be magical.**
My family has rarely had a very traditional Thanksgiving with all of the traditional foods.  I can't really remember one as I try to think back over the history of Thanksgivings.
Yet, for the past two years I've spent in a foreign country, we've had the most traditional Thanksgivings so far.

It seems as though people from all countries love a good excuse to eat delicious buttered foods and to sit at the table for extended periods of time to give thanks for their many blessings.

I've had so much fun cooking for our giant "family" with my fellow Americans who want to spoil all of those invited with the best of the best in American traditions. 

littliest pilgrim
There were many times that day as I worked in the kitchen and had to absolutely hold back tears.  There were moments when I soaked in the laughter coming from my cooking partners, Desi and Kathleen and thought I was going to lose it.

I have a feeling a lot of the what remains for our time here is going to be like this.  Me being reminded that this is the last of everything.

Kathleen flies home to the States in less than a month.

We leave in nearly seven.

I have to start getting used to the idea of saying goodbye to some very important people. 

But until then I will enjoy these moments, like this day in the kitchen....when everyone around me was giving Thanks.

Today I'm thankful for heartbreaking goodbyes.... because it means that at one time my heart was whole and the love was strong enough to break me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rage Against Movember

We all know it's Movember.

I'm so excited.

Talk about predictable - this celebration of a furry upper lip started like so many popular man things do....with four friends sitting around drinking, and deciding they were going to bring the mustache back.  The prostate cancer awareness didn't even start until the following year.  THAT IS SO AWESOME.

I am beyond thrilled that my husband's utter devotion for a good cause has been carried to a new level this year.  He has gone above and beyond by shaving every bit of facial hair he owns besides the trash 'stache that has set up residence on his ever-disappearing lip.  I thought last year was exciting, but I had no idea how much last year's additional chin hair made a difference in retaining my husband's dignity - something neither of us really needs him to have anyways.

I am constantly humbled and wowed by the outstanding comradery behind this cause.  I love the image of everyone sitting around at lunch stroking the eyebrow they've successfully grown between their nose and mouth; congratulating one another on how far they've come - you know, because it is such hard work to stop shaving.  All this is happening around me while I try my best to keep my lunch down.  You have to hand it to them....even the lamest attempts at growing something are met with pride and high fives.

Lately I go to restaurants with my husband and waiters ask him about his Mo.  I've never been more proud - except for maybe when he passes gas in bed.  These two characteristics are currently tied for the coolest and most sexy things about my husband.

Actually, I'm relieved that people ask him about it when we're out in public.  Otherwise I'm afraid they would think I've purposefully married someone that resembles famous personalities with the name "Ron".
Ron Burgundy

Ron Swanson
Ron Jeremy
And the near heart attack that hits me at around 3:00 a.m. every morning when I roll over to find what appears to be an ex-convict lying in bed next to me?  Love that.  It keeps me on my toes.

And alas, I'm so relieved that I don't have to kiss my husband for this entire month.  I think that's the best part! Besides it being a safety hazard - whisker burn and all that, there is no way I'm going near that bushy thing formerly known as his upper lip.  Kissing my husband was getting old anyways.  Honestly, I'm ecstatic.

In fact, I am so on board with the awesomeness known as "Movember" this year, that I have decided to participate.  That's right.  I informed my devoted-to-the-stache husband that I'm also retiring my razor for the month of Movember.  I've decided to call it "HarryPitember"  or perhaps "Furrylegember".  I don't know.  I'm still playing with the title.

I'll just say this. If there was a contest for whose hair grows most rapidly..... I'd be the winner.

Until December...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

3 months

He's officially three months old and this busy guy is doing all sorts of stuff, like predicting the stock market, solving sectarianism, and eliminating world hunger.
Oh yeah, and yesterday he rolled over for the first time.

We couldn't be prouder.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Jack Johnson and John Mayer (except cooler)

Proof that October Happened....

because I can't seem to remember it beginning or ending, and now we're halfway through November.
This was a pretty good way for it to start out...

We've found a church (finally) that we feel really comfortable in.  Hence the dressy outfits. In fact, I like it so much I'm already dreading leaving it this summer.  

Then there was this...
 It was the official opening of our new building, The Davey Village.  It's a beautiful building, and we've actually been using it for over a year, but this was the day that all sorts of important people came out to see it and bless it and talk about all of the amazing things that this place we are privileged to work at has done for peace and reconciliation. 
 I didn't actually know any of these important people, but as the pseudo "official" photographer, I got to meet them.  Surprisingly, all of the "important people" would also qualify as "really nice people".   

Then, as I mentioned in other posts...there was Halloween.  A BIG deal here.  Although, some of the things that are super popular at home, aren't as popular here.  For example, pumpkin carving...

We took some pumpkins to the volunteers who loved doing it.  We also carved the insides out as much as we could from all 17 pumpkins, so I've been baking pumpkin goodies nonstop for about a week now - also something that isn't popular here since you can't find canned pumpkin.  We've had pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin roll (my favorite), and pumpkin muffins.  Like I said, I had a lot of pumpkin.
We went trick or treating this year, although they don't call it that, because they actually believe in the origin of trick-or-treating, which is that you have to do some sort of "trick" in order to get some sort of "treat" - which is usually a piece of fruit.  Luckily, one of our family friends invited our boys to join their boys for some neighborhood candy collecting.    Afterwards we got to watch and walk in the Halloween parade.  People take dressing up up their children really seriously here.  There are no cute baseball players, or nice friendly nurses.  There was, however, a bloody bride, two zombies, and five witches - face paint and all - when I dropped Miles off at school.

And that brings us to Ollie's (and my) least favorite month....Movember.  But more on that later.  
How long until December?

Friday, November 9, 2012


I've mentioned before that this is my second time living in Northern Ireland for a period of time.  The first time was twelve years ago and what now seems like a short period of time - four months.

I was twenty and in love with a boy I had only started dating three months before I got on the plane to start that adventure. He got on a different plane for Costa Rica.  I thought my life would end.

Of course that's not true...I knew I'd be fine and I like to think I knew I was going to marry him before I even got on that plane.
I learned a lot about myself during that adventure.  I learned that I was independent and that I actually loved the place I was from - Middle America.   I learned that I needed to be more patient with people and to allow grace in my life. 
The diamond

I learned how to do things by myself.  I learned how to spot a rainbow coming and how to keep your jeans dry in the rain.  I learned what Corrymeela was, and about conflict that was still so fresh.

 The things I learned during that season of my life are so dear to me that it has taken me until now - over a year since the day - to return to the city I called home while I was here.

I wasn't scared of what I would find.  Rather, I had this preserved memory held close to my heart and I just wasn't sure I was ready to share it.  To be honest, I wanted to come back to the city on my own, or with the people I had come here with many years ago, and are still dear friends of mine. 

 But time finally won out and I made my big homecoming journey.

It all began because I was looking for fun Halloween-related things to do with the boys and I stumbled upon an amazing dinner, breakfast, and hotel deal for one night.  I told myself, "Self, it's time to suck it up."  I packed up my kids and husband after work on Friday and made a beeline for Derry.

There were no bells or whistles.  Nobody even noticed I was there.  In fact, my kids got more fanfare than I did.  We spent a lot of time in the hotel room, because for some reason my boys LOVE a good hotel room.  There was swimming (which is a rarity in hotels here), movies, and delicious food to be had.

When we finally mustered up the gumption and the wits to leave our hotel room, we walked the city walls I had walked 12 years ago.  I talked about all of the millions of things I remembered and forgot.  I kept remarking on how things had changed.  12 years is a long time in the life of a healing city.
The Bogside as seen from the walls.
There were times when I felt as though the city had changed while I had stayed the same.

And then I remembered what I was like when I was 20, and I knew that was just crazy talk. (I prayed it was crazy talk.)

 When my husband finally got tired of me talking mostly to myself about things he didn't care about, we finally made our way into the mall for the kids' festivities that had drawn us there in the first place.  (Strangely, the mall I had remembered quite well.)

  There was face painting, and games, and in the midst of all that, an epic tantrum, but I will remember the experience as full and lovely.  I will remember how Liam knew immediately, before we even saw the face-painter, that he wanted to be a tiger.  I will remember Super Miles' brief identity crisis when he decided he so-desired the face of Spidey-guy. 

When it was time to leave I wanted to make one last stop.  I wanted to see Nelson Drive and the house I stayed in.  My husband slowly made his way across the bridge following my directions - based completely on memory.  As he navigated the streets I slowly took in the route that was so familiar so long ago.  I pointed out places that meant nothing to him, but so much to me.  As we got closer I grew anxious for no reason I could identify.

When he turned onto Nelson Drive I was silent.  He finally asked me questions and I didn't feel like answering.

I don't know what it had been through since our lives had last intertwined, but I hoped desperately that I looked to be in better shape than this place I once called home.  I wish I could say it was exactly how I remembered it, but it wasn't.  I wish I could tell you that I knew exactly which house was mine, but I can't.  I wish I could tell you that in these more peaceful times it has flourished and blossomed, but it hasn't.

It's funny how anti-climatic it all seemed at the time, but in the days since I can't get it out of my mind.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Day I Looked for Fall

 Last weekend the sun was shining, the leaves were turning as close to bright fall colors as they get in this country. My family was antsy for adventure. 

So in the spirit of adventure, we packed a lunch, a camera, and three little bodies into the car and headed out to a part of the coast we had never been.

I'm growing very aware that we are on the other side of this two-year adventure - the downhill, easy part.
 And I am very conscious of the fact that I don't just want to coast through it.

Otherwise I might miss this...
And this...

And the next 8-9 months could go by with me sitting on my computer planning our future instead of ever seeing this...

It is easy to be comfortable with this place now - it is like being home - so much so that I could become paralyzed by the fear of leaving to start our next adventure.

 And that could make me look more like this...

So lately I've been trying to create adventure in this place that has become so familiar to us that it would be easy to assume no more adventure exists.  

I still miss my friends of the Midwest, the dinner parties, and the pumpkin lattes of "home", but for now I'm gulping up the warmth and rooting myself in this other place...

Our Now Home.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lessons Learned

Being a parent is damn hard.
I know - strange that I'm just now acknowledging this.  The truth is that I'm just now realizing this.

I've always prided myself in being a very laid-back parent.  Until this past year, there were very few things in my life I could honestly say I was "laid-back" about, but parenting was one of them.  I thought my less-is-more approach would teach them independence and creativity.  I even thought it would allow them to broaden their social skills.  I've always thought that I could have 4+ children and still have time for hobbies and businesses that would nourish my soul creatively.  I thought I would be able to take my small army of children out to restaurants or to other countries and expose them to all sorts of experiences.  I assumed learning would come naturally for my kids, and that I could just nurture their creativity because the rest would come automatically.  I thought my children would share everything, and own nothing - becoming best friends, roommates, and the best of playmates.
I tried very hard to do all of these things.
But friends, I was wrong.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've tried even harder to make sure my role as "Mom" didn't interfere with the rest of my life.  

I'd like to assume that there are parents out there that can be laid-back and it totally works for their kids.  There must be people who have a zillion children and still manage to keep a life full of adventure completely apart from being a "Mommy". (Although I grow less certain of this everyday.)
I hope these things are true, but I am unsure of them.

This is what I know for sure:
  • I know that my oldest son needs a mom who will walk and talk him through appropriate social situations and reactions to social situations, rather than just allowing him to figure it out on his own.
  • I know that my children need their own space.  And their own things.  And when they can take ownership in the above, they also learn to love and play together more like friends, and less like forced siblings.
  • I know that my children gain nothing by being forced to go out to a restaurant as an entire family.  Those social skills I thought I was teaching them in these situations?  They are much better learned one-on-one during special times out with one of us, or just as easily in our own dining room at home.
  • I know that to live the life I want, and pursue the dreams I have, then my new dream is going to just have to be a family of three boys - and I am completely and totally okay with that.  In fact, the idea of it makes me smile.
  • I know that I can't just take my kids to the park and sit on a bench, like I want to.  Some parents can.  However, I have a son that needs me up in his business and teaching him the tools he needs to interact and play with other kids - including his brothers.
  • I know that for the time being, playdates won't just be me having coffee with another mom while our kids play off somewhere unsupervised. I know that I actually am scared of playdates as it stands now.
  • I know that moms (or dads) that make the conscious decision to have many kids, and to raise them well, also make the conscious decision that it will be their full-time jobs for a bit of time, and other things may have to be put on the back burner the first few years.
I know these things now.  You could say I'm a slow learner.  My dear friend Tiffani would say I'm too hard on myself.  I don't think I'm harder on myself than any other mother out there - I'm just willing to broadcast it, which someday may lead to regret.

Maybe I should have sat myself down awhile ago and given myself a stern "talking to".

Maybe better late than never. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ten Things I Know to be True on Tuesday... or Wednesday

  1. When you have a baby here everyone says to you, "well done!" after they've had a peak at the little guy.  I love this.  Mostly because it makes me feel like I've seriously accomplished something.  And I did.  I had to put up with a lot.  I should get some sort of "well done" for that.
  2. The best part about being in Northern Ireland right now?  The fact that I can ignore all political ads, and watch the debates only when I want to.
  3. The worst part about being in Northern Ireland right now?  I totally miss fall.  I'm homesick for all things apple, pumpkin, and orange.
  4. Ever since our one-year mark came and went I suddenly feel panicked about leaving - like it is just coming too quickly.  I know this year is going to fly by.
  5. After being followed around repeatedly by whining and demands, I decided that my children needed to have better manners.  Although I have always encouraged them to say "please" and "thank you", I read two weeks ago about a mom that claims her children are so polite because she models by example.  After audibly scoffing at the idea that I wasn't already doing that, I made the conscious decision to be overly polite to them - saying "please" and "thank you" even when it doesn't feel very natural.  I'm shocked to report that the woman might have been on to something.  Both Miles and Liam's manners have improved greatly.  Oliver, on the other hand, still has a way to go before he stops demanding things of me through little mini tantrums.
  6. Everything is easier at home.  I do love it here, and I love Belfast - the closest city to where we live.  However, I find it incredibly difficult to find anything easily in a city I'm not familiar with.  I need to pick up a pack of Mod Podge?  I can tell you exactly three stores in Peoria that carry it.  In Belfast?  I have no idea - and trust me, I've done my homework.  I find trips into the city to be somewhat unproductive and frustrating.
  7. Yesterday I had to pleasure of meeting many important people in Northern Ireland - from politicians, to hotel financiers, to Liam Neeson's mom.  It was great fun, and I got to photograph everyone.  When I finally introduced myself to Kitty Neeson I was so star-struck that all I could say was, "I also named my son Liam!"  Her response?  "Oh, that's nice dear..."  I could tell she was super impressed.
  8. I love Liam's stories.  He has so much to tell me.  He also has all sorts of scenarios going off in his head. I wish I could find a way to capture his words and hold on to them forever.
  9. I don't spend enough time telling Dustin that I think he's an awesome partner in this adventure.  I do, however, spend too much time telling him how I would have done things differently, or why he's wrong. Oof.
  10. This is my favorite picture today...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ode to Fall

^ How I recently found a little piece of autumn in N. Ireland ^

Dear Autumn in the Midwest,
I miss you.  I miss your pumpkin festivals and brightly colored leaves.  I miss the football games I never went to and the sound of the marching bands off into the distance.  I miss the sight of pumpkins and dead corn husks on everyone's front porch, and the awful Halloween decorations that adorned the front yards of my neighbors.  I miss the sound of rustling cornfields and of campfires on a cold night.  I miss apple orchards and hayrides.  I miss apple cider and anything with pumpkin in it.
Oh how I miss pumpkin. 
I miss pulling out my fall sweaters for the first time, and those few weeks when it's too cold for a t-shirt, but too warm for a jacket.  I miss the anticipation of Halloween and everyone dressing their kids up in age-appropriate and not-scary costumes.  I miss Homecoming games...(did I just say that?).
I promise to never take you for granted.

Sure, here I have the sea and cliff.  I have a beautiful mountain to the west and a patchwork quilt of green fields at every turn.  Don't get me wrong - it's beautiful.
But YOU'RE beautiful.  And I will never again take for granted how you make me feel.  I promise to love you and your brightly colored leaves for as long as I live.  I promise to never down-play how amazing you are.  I promise that you still hold my heart cupped gently in the smell of harvest.

I promise next year I'll be back.  I'm not sure yet where, but I do know it will be somewhere with plenty of canned pumpkin just waiting to be made into every edible pumpkin concoction I can think of.

Until then, this crappy pumpkin latte I found will have to do.  (I know what you're thinking, how can you mess up a pumpkin latte, right?)

Yours truly,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

a prayer...

and a reminder of what our children can teach us:
O God, you have called us
to be like little children.

Give us the eyes of a child - 
curious and determined
to see what is going on.
Give us the ears of a child - 
sharp and attentive
to hear your word of love.
And give us the energy of a child - 
expecting a response
and confident that we can change the world.

Janet Morley

Thursday, October 11, 2012


John Donne, in his infinite seventeenth century wisdom stated simply that, "No man is an island."
I love and believe that phrase.
But I also believe it to be true only 90% of the time.
I also believe that throughout a person's life he or she will have various moments that allow their transformation into an independent land mass surrounded by waters that allow no one within close proximity.  I like to call this the "unvitation".  These are lonely moments in a person's life, and an island is she.
One can become an island by choice - choosing the safety of one's own company over the bat-shit crazy that is outside one's door.  Or maybe one simply can't stand the sight of one more unapologetic mullet. 
One can also become an island through sickness.  From what I understand, being diagnosed with a terrifying disease, or a terminal illness is one of the quickest ways to feel as though your life is being played out on a deserted island.  It is easy to assume that no one could possibly know what that kind of hell it feels like.  No one does know.  At this point no one would blame you for the moat you've created around you little mass of land.
Or one can imagine the existence of an island - at first having the appearance of other mothers ignoring you at the school drop-off point.  Later you hear that someone has called the school principal because of foul play in the school yard.  You imagine being scorned and judged.  Your shyness can be misread as distaste.  You choose to sit in your car instead of socializing with the other moms.  You're terrified of what they think of you.  You've created your own island.
It is of your making.
It's time to get in your boat and figure out a way back to the mainland - into the world of bat-shit crazy and bad haircuts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


  • Name: Ollie
  • Age: 2 months
  • Favorite food:
    • Anything out of a breast....and on extremely desperate days, a bottle.
  • Likes: 
    • Long walks on the beach (as long as he is bundled up in a carrier and no wind is hitting his face.  Come to think of it, there doesn't even need to be a beach involved.)
  • Dislikes: 
    • Sleeping.  YOLO dude.  You can sleep when you're dead.
  • Favorite inspirational quote:
    • "He's my best friend." - Miles (the big brother)
  • Can be seen doing:
    • Very little - he's only 2 months old.  sheesh.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Happy Chuseok Festival

A Day to Give Thanks...

We decided to share it with our Corrymeela family by making the tradition songpyeon (rice cakes) and delicious fruits that often accompany the family festivities.

I even tried my hand at making my own songpyeon.

You're totally impressed, aren't you?  Well don't be.  They were easier than I imagined once I got over my initial fear of steaming something on pine needles.  And they were tastier than I anticipated.

We took our festival foods down to the Main House to share at dinnertime with the volunteers who don't often get to see fruit that doesn't come in the shape of an apple, banana, or orange. 
The idea was to share, but I think Miles and Liam ate half of the fruit between the two of them.

Miles did the "Moment of Silence" and announced "Happy Chuseok" to everyone so we could explain what it means to our family.

즐거운 추석 보내세요.
Have a Happy Chuseok.
(Or, rather, we hope you had a Happy Chuseok.)

Love, Us.

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Year in our Flat

Well, as I wrote a few weeks ago, we've been here for officially one year now.  When we first moved here I posted a bunch of photos of our flat the day we got here.  A lot has changed in the last year, and they have been wonderful in letting us take some ownership in decorating the space in order to make if feel more like home.  You can see the transformations for yourself.

Our living room:
They actually let us paint this room and we did some other things to it just to make it feel more like our own space.  It has been a lot of fun to figure out how to decorate with no money.  It takes me back to when we were first married. :) 

This is the largest bedroom.  It started out as the boys' room, but we quickly took it over (they're little = they take up little space.  (And plus I'm a little bit selfish.))  You can see a guest appearance from Ollie in the second bedroom shot. :)
The bathroom:
Unfortunately I don't have a before photo, but trust me when I say that this is a VAST improvement.  We were able to paint the walls, which proved to be a challenge because of the already-green tile.   We also got a shower curtain and rug to brighten it up and bit, and painted the side of the bathtub (which was a wood color).
This is the guest room:
Pretty much the same except for a few basic things.

And finally, the boys' room:
It started out as our room, but then we switched, and it has worked out great ever since.