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