Friday, September 28, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mr. Photogenic

 Miles' school had school pictures the first week he was there and we just got the proofs back.  There were three poses to choose from.  I was innocently looking through my options when I came face to face with this:

First of all... I love that kid.  Second of all... if that doesn't make you laugh out loud then I don't want to be your friend.

Then a friend of ours gave us this newspaper cut-out of Miles' class, which they do for all of the P1s in the area.  

She tried to make me feel better by pointing out that other kids weren't looking either, but upon further inspection I realized she was actually mistaken - he is the only one not looking.  I think a car must have been driving by at the time. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

When Nana comes to visit...

Last week we said goodbye to the second grandma to come visit in one month.
Dustin's Mom/The boys' Nana came to help lend an extra set of hands for 10 days, and we were thrilled to have her here.  The boys were on cloud nine and Ollie went through some sort of crazy growth spurt while she was here.  

He barely seemed like the same baby between when she got here and when she left because he had grown so much.

And I'll leave you with this final gem... a picture I snapped after someone had set Ollie in the corner quick.  I laugh every time I see it.
Poor guy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

One Year Move-iversary

Today marks exactly one year since we stepped off the plane, wrestled two lifeless pajama-clad children through immigration, collected our 7 suitcases, and walked out into the brisk Northern Irish air.
A lot has changed - For starters: the size of our family.

To be honest, I can't really think of anything to say about the last year.
Well, that's not true.  The truth is that I find it difficult to think of just a few things to say about the last year.
I could say the generic phrase that almost always automatically comes out of my mouth - "I can't believe it's already been a year.  The time has gone so quickly!"

But that's not really the truth.  There were times that seemed to last forever.  It feels like I've been gone a year.

I think when you go through so many new experiences and so much change, the time does feel like it is crawling along more slowly.

I would be lying if I said I'm a different person than I was a year ago.  I'm the same person.  Tiny parts of me have changed, but I am the same person.

What has this past year taught me?
  1. I've learned how to give a proper hug.  I mentioned it here back in November.  And now, after a full year, I can say that I appreciate a true hug.  I think I've even improved my own embrace to the point that people might actually enjoy my hugs.  It's a work in progress.
  2. I've learned that I can live without Miracle Whip, Mexican food, watermelon, Michigan summers, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, the fancy salts you get in movie theaters for your popcorn, ice in my drinks, and free refills.  I don't like it, but I can live without it.
  3. I've learned a little about being a conscientious consumer.  I'm not perfect, and I'm not sure I will ever be, but I do want to be more intentional about what I buy and where I buy it.  However, this is also a work in progress since I am a sucker for good deals and cute things.
  4. I've learned how to be perfectly imperfect.  Never again will I work only to score in the "exceeds all expectations" category, instead I hope to score more highly in the "she loves what she does and it shows" category, or the "she is obviously incredibly happy and well-rested" category.  I've learned to set boundaries and I believe it has made me a more lovely and generous person.
  5. I've learned how to make croissants, and that I actually love to cook.
  6. I've learned how much fun it is to dream big.  I spend a chunk of my day envisioning the life I want to have when we take the next step.  Of course I'm also busy living in the moment, but I'm also planning life after this without limitations.
  7. I've learned how to be hospitable.  Before coming here if someone offered me a cup of tea or coffee when I entered their house I would have said "no thank you" because it seems to be the polite Midwestern-American thing for my generation to do - to not put anyone out.  But now I realize how good it makes someone feel when you take them up on it.  It gives them a purpose.  It's meeting them halfway.  It's a way of saying, "I need you as much as you need me."  At least that's the way it makes me feel.  
  8. I've learned that terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and nationalities.  I've also learned that peacemakers and peacekeepers come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and nationalities.  From my experience there are more of the latter in the world - we are just a little less scary and have less literal weapons. 
Of course there are other things I could mention - the tiny things that latch onto a person - the things I or you may not even notice.  But they're there.

Here's to looking forward to the learning that the next year brings....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ollie turns one month.

Nearly 2 weeks ago - but who's counting?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Series: City

I've mentioned before that the Center asked me to do a series of photos for the new building.  I was honored to be asked to do this, and I finally finished two series, for two separate wings of the building in June.  This first series is titled: City.  Perhaps you'll recognize some of them:











Friday, September 14, 2012

Photo Friday: Do you remember that one time it was summer?

I was looking through pictures the other day and realized we had a whole lot of fun this summer that I didn't document.  I know that back home in the States it feels like summer ended a long time ago, but here schools don't actually start until the first full week of September, and don't get out until the end of June.  So here you go....a tribute to our summer - not in chronological order.

Building trains on rainy days

Ollie's first outing at the Ol' Llamas Fair

Our make-shift triple stroller.  Can you guess where the baby is?

In Portrush on a sunny Saturday.

Playing the violin like Quincy from Little Einsteins

Our version of "eating out"


Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to be a real jerk.

This morning I woke up furious at my husband.
Let's revisit the many faults he had going for him, shall we?
It all started in the middle of the night when I was awoken every 1-2 hours by some little person that wanted to use me as a human pacifier.  There's no way anyone could be that hungry.  And trust me I've tried so hard (SO HARD) to get him to love his pacifier as much as I think he should, but he only will love it during daylight hours.  The boy is some sort of time-telling genius I tell you.  I know you are probably thinking, "Why get mad at your poor husband about that?"  Well, I ask you...why am I the only one with functioning mammary glands?  Why does he get to just lie there and sleep while I have to stay awake?  Did he just deep sigh because my ipod light is too bright for him?  (This is about the time I pointed it inches from his face willing him to wake up so I could burn off his retinas with my super-strong ipod light.)
Next offense: the other boys woke up at various other times throughout the night.  Sure, I could probably only hear them because I was awake anyways, but he somehow should have sensed that there was trouble when I got out of bed to see what the problem was, and "accidentally" kicked him on my way out.
And it continued: It escalated when the boys (who had skipped naps and gone to bed too late) woke up at 6:30 (SIX THIRTY!).  They didn't just wake up.  They threw things, fought loudly, and screamed their ways out of bed at 6:30.  So I got up.  While you-know-who acted like he didn't have a clue what was going on.
Could it get worse you ask?!  I decided I was going to put a movie on. (Because what better way to reward terrible behavior, than to give them exactly what they want?)  Only, there were no batteries in the remote.  How dare he take the batteries out of the remote right before I would OBVIOUSLY be using it at 6:30 in the morning?!  By this time I was livid.  I was shouting at my children through half-opened sleepy eyes, and I was on a rampage looking for some flippin' batteries. 
And that's when he did it.
Somewhere between me slamming drawers in our bedroom he actually had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to lay down.
So I told him as nicely as I could possibly muster:
He then had the nerve to get out of bed and insist that I get in it.
So with the huffs and puffs of a million wolves I slammed my body down into bed, but not without making it painfully obvious that I wasn't happy about the timing.  I think I even mumbled a "I'LLNEVERBEABLETOSLEEPNOW." as he walked out the door.
I was so mad.
And I really couldn't sleep.  But not because I was all worked up, or because I had already been awake for 20 minutes.
It was because I came to the terrible realization that I was a jerk.
A jerk that was being a jerk to everyone who didn't deserve it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dear Perfect Mom:

I've been watching you for years now.  I quietly wait on the sidelines as you shuffle your perfect children together into a perfect line.  I see the beautiful family photos you are able to take because you are all the picture of beauty and your kids never have snot caked on their sleeve.  I've long admired your dedication to working out, making healthy delicious dinners, and allowing your children only 30 minutes of "screen time" a day.  I've read your Facebook status updates about how much you look forward to spending the day with your tiny people, and I've read the blog posts detailed with pictures about the perfect birthday party you put together for your toddler that will never remember it.

I've been watching you.
And envying you.
And waiting you out.

I want you to know that I think you're great.  I thought you were great before you were a mom and you were oversleeping and missing class.  I bet your kids would have thought you were great even then.   I bet you would be great even if you didn't make the most amazing goodie bags that even I want to steal from my child when he brings them home.  I would even think you're great if your child's birthday party invitations didn't rival those of the Presidential Ball.  I'll still think you're great when you miss your child's doctor's appointment for the 2nd time.  Because that's what I do. 

I know that if I asked you why you do it, you would probably say that you really enjoy it.  At least I hope that's what you'd say.  I hope that you wouldn't tell me it's because you want to make all of the other moms jealous, or that you think we could all be a little humbled by your sheer creativity and awesomeness.

I would like to invite you to be unapologetically honest with me.  I promise I won't judge you for the extra movie you let your kids watch yesterday, or for the gummy bears they had for breakfast.  Save your excuses for someone who might need them.  I, on the otherhand, understand.  

 I think we should all admit that we're all just mediocre at this parenting stuff - that perfection is overrated and underpaid.  I want you to have a bad hair day, and to forget snack money every once in awhile.  I want you to at least act like it's okay if I do. 

I just want you to know that you can talk to me about your insecurities, and that you can admit when you feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated.  Please, tell me about the time you almost burnt your house down making scrambled eggs, and I'll tell you about mine.  I want to hear about the tears you cry because your children know the exact buttons to push that send you over the edge.

Please, I'm begging you to be honest with me.

I'll put the kettle on.
I'll pour you a cup of tea.
We'll be honest for just one afternoon.
And I bet we'll laugh about it.

Maybe we'll need red wine and chocolate.
Yeah, that's a better idea.

And I would tell you that You Are Enough.
And I think I'll be able to convince you to come over to the dark side with me.   You know the side.  The one with unkept hair, mascara smudges, and snot dried on your clothing.  The one where you read the parent letter wrong and don't send a lunch.  The one where you let your kids watch more than 30 minutes of t.v. so that you can have a moment to yourself. The one where you pretend to go to the bathroom so that you can lock the door behind you and sit in quiet solitude.

It's also the side where you can leave your house in the height of uncleanliness to go out for coffee with a friend, and where you will invite someone in while giving them a hard-hat and absolutely no apology or explanation as to why it looks like a construction zone.

It's the side with second-hand clothing, and a car that's too small for your family.

It's the side where you blow-off naps for an afternoon at the beach.  Where you let your kids strip down to their undies just to run into the ocean, only to realize you didn't pack any towels or extra clothes.

It's a beautiful side.  And you're invited.  Because I can already tell that I like you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I know now.

Things I knew four weeks ago:
  • That every time Liam went to hold Miles' hand he would ask "You won't bite me?" first. 
  • That Miles and Liam had both started saying "Ummmm, Mom?" whenever I had forgotten/lost/or done something that they thought was wrong.
  • That Liam asked me everyday to, "lay be me for ONE minute" - an easy request to fill.
  • That Miles liked to chase Liam around the house growling at him like a dinosaur when Liam ran away frantically screaming and sometimes crying.
  • That Liam had sprint into the "terrible twos" like a bat out of hell.

What I didn't know four weeks ago:
  • That these two boys would prove to be more loving, gentle, and kind big brothers to "Little Baby Oliver" than I could have ever imagined or wished for.