We’re going to be friends

 

After the first week or so of the whirlwind of tea and relatives and more tea, the kids and myself realised that we were a bit lonely for our friends.  We went from having people that we could pop in on without a thought and be ourselves totally to, well, not.

As an adult, I rationally knew that friendships come with time but the children and my heart weren’t listening.  There just may have been a rainy day where I could have been found crying in my car in the parking lot of our parish chapel.  I had my cry, dried my eyes, and drove back to my father in law’s home with my chin up.

My father in law was as gracious to provide us with a home for the first three months of our time here as we got settled and to give us time for the home that we were going to be renting to be available.  I loved being able to have that time with him for myself, my husband, and the kids. Even so, there were times that I needed to get away to deal with my emotions.  I needed a girl to hang out with to have the craic with.

One afternoon I was making the dinner at Dad’s home and the kids were outside playing in the field behind us.  Suddenly Molly burst inside excitedly and said “Mum! Mum! MUM!!  The girls I saw playing outside the last day just called over and asked if I could play with them!” I said of course you can but I will have to walk you down to make sure that it is ok with their parents.  Turns out, they were cousins of ourselves.  The girls loved that we share a surname.  The one sister was going to be in Molly’s class and the other was in the class behind.  To say that they all got on like a house on fire would be an understatement. With a sigh of relief I noted that their mum was funny and kind.  Someone that I could have the craic with over a cup of tea.  At the time I didn’t realise that my new friend, Leanne, had a bit of a cuppa problem  I may have to stage a Lyons intervention on her behalf one day. 😉

Through the girls’  friendship and numerous activities ranging from Gaelic football, hip hop (which I initially thought that I was going to have to participate in much to Leanne’s horror or humour?), and tin whistle classes; my husband and my friendship with the girl’s parents has been cemented.  It may have even survived a recent dubious movie choice of mine for our double date. (side note, you may want to take a pass on seeing Zoolander 2, just sayin’)

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This was all well and good for Molly but my Malachy was finding this all a bit girly.  There’s only so much playing with wee princesses that a boy can take.  Thankfully, through the power of Facebook, I connected with one mum who lives down the road from where our rental is who has a son around my Malachy’s age.  We also were fortunate to reunite with a boy who we had met when, well to be honest when his mum and myself were pregnant over 13 years ago.  Those two boys are but a few weeks apart in age.  Once Malachy connected with Odhran and Alexander, this island has not been the same.  Any chance they got, the three of them or two of them depending on the day were together.  There was computer gaming, kayaking, and a bit of farm work as the case may be.

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This gorgeous shot of Malachy and Odhran kayaking was captured by Patrick Higgins photography early in the Fall 2015

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Not a bad life for the kid.  And as it happens, I also got to know and really enjoy the company of Odhran’s mum (I’ve already been friendly with Alexander’s mum for years).  I know that I can depend on them to help out and they know that I am there for them as well.  The foundation of friendships started.  And man, the craic can be mighty!

 

Since the first weeks I’ve made more friends as have the children.  School started and boom instant social life!  I have dear fledging friendships with girls from our church (yeah I’m looking at you Anne!), ones that are cousins (wait, that’s most of the ones here 😉 ), and the ones I met in the initial weeks when we were home in Ireland.  Friendships grow over time and while they are not replacements for my loved ones in Maryland, there’s no doubt that we’re going to be friends …

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No matter where this path may lead my family will always keep me strong and joyful.

 

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A day in the life

 

The first few days of living in Ireland are a bit of a blur.  I remember mostly a lot of tea, quite a lot of tea.  It was exciting, scary, daunting, and fabulous. Did I mention the amount of tea that was drunk those first days?

 

My days were spent mainly going from home to home meeting all of my husband’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course having a cuppa at Granny’s, Mum’s, or Dad’s home.  There were so many faces and names to learn and, frankly, I was exhausted despite my gratitude for the opening smiles and hugs.

I loved being with my in laws (and not just for the massive amount of tea being poured) but it was a definite shift in our relationships.  We went from a friendly and party manners family who were to be honest a peripheral part of each other’s lives to now being full time in your face family (or rather FAMILY in all caps).  Things just got real!

When a break from all of the reality was possible, we spent our time exploring the rugged landscape and beaches of Donegal.  We wanted the kids to see what a glorious playground they had at their doorstep.  They were duly impressed.  Honestly, what a child wouldn’t love unspoiled beaches, sand dunes, and freedom??  I may be a *ahem* grown up, but feel the thrill of freedom when I am here.  There are a handful of places in this world that I feel completely at peace; I am now blessed to live within walking distance from one of those locales.  At the white strand the power of the wind and waves makes me feel small and yet content and whole at the same time.  When I felt (feel) uncertain of my place in this country or how I am fitting into my family all I had to do was just stand, let the wind whip through my hair, and just breathe.  I knew that everything would be ok, actually more than ok things were going to be fantastic.

 

As I intimated already, there were growing pains those first days (at least on my part) whilst I learned what these relationships truly were going to be.  Imagine my moving to a land where I knew no one excepting my nuclear family and my in laws.  Up until this point we only knew each other on a holiday basis.  There was an automatic intimacy expected but we truly didn’t know each others’ every day personality and quirks.  Thankfully, my in laws were willing to work to get to know me too.  Relationships can not be one sided and I am as lucky that they wanted something real with all of us as well.  Over the months and a gazillion cups of tea (and several walks on the beach!!) sense of humours and personalities were figured out and appreciated.

Growing pains are what make a relationship real and I would not trade in the initial awkwardness if that meant that I wouldn’t have truer friendships with my Irish family.  After all, no one ever said that anything worth while was easy to obtain.

 

Lasts leading to firsts: Play ball! Our first day of our last season of baseball and softball

Play Ball!  In the States, it is that time of year that reminds me of green grass, lines of lime on a clay field, eye black,  peanuts, soft pretzels, and cow tails. You can never forget the snow cones! Grape’s more favorite but Cherry’s favorite too! (click the hyperlink please 😉 )  There’s chatter in the fields as well as chatter at the fence line. No matter how in depth your conversation with your fence line BFF may be , you always saw your kid’s great play.  In summation, it’s the best time of the year.

Today was our local littler league baseball and softball organizations try outs.  I love seeing the parents and children again.  The exclamations of “I can’t believe how much they’ve grown since last season” are heard on repeat.  The time waiting for your kids age group to be up is just extra social time with friends enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere together. I love it all.

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Odd to know that this will be our last season here.  I am excited to get involved in Gaelic Athletic Association’s various sports.  I look forward to my kids being involved on the field and me on the sideline.  No quicker way to make friends than on a football pitch!  Be that as it may, there is no doubt that we will also play baseball/softball when we move. But it won’t be the same.  Baseball is such iconic americana that has not quite caught on as well in Ireland.  Ah well, that’s what back yards and satellite tv are for, we will just have to make sure that we have plenty of peanuts and Cracker Jacks on hand!

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Little boxes … are taking over my life

Ok, so this song is actually social protest against suburban conformity and morals.  In my own life, my little boxes are quite literal not symbolic.  In a short 14 weeks we will be on a plane  flying towards our new life, but right now my life is packing little boxes.  

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Help! They’re taking over!!!!

This box is my tea times that I am looking forward to having with my family and new friends. The sheer luxury of waiting on the water to boil, adding the tea, waiting for it to be just the right strength, pouring the tea, and slicing cake or serving cookies err I mean biscuits to my friends.  I love the conversations that can ensue over a good cuppa tea.  You know that is when you get the best gossip: I mean local news!  I swear that I am not a gossip, unless you have something in particular that you want to tell me. 😉

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I am looking forward to warming this pot, and my other ones, with my family and friends.

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This box here is for when I need solitude and escape into my own world, after I have caught up on all of the local news of course.  Have I mentioned that I am a bookworm? I just love the feel, smell, and look of books.  There is a chance that I missed my calling in life as a librarian. 😉  I have given away more of my paper friends than I have kept.  Ronan, my dear husband, is impressed that I have kept it to 3 small boxes of books.

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I do so love my books. I am loving that i am able to bring over my Terry Pratchett novels, may he RIP. I am a bit sad now.    😦

This one, well, it is just silly little things that make me feel like I am home no matter where home may be.  Isn’t it funny how that odd tea-cup, blue bird figurine, or shot glass can make you feel right?

Old Bay will ALWAYS be a taste of home ;)
         Old Bay will ALWAYS be a taste of home 😉

Even with what I have aforementioned, the thing that becomes more and more evident as I pack up my little boxes is that my boxes are not my life.  I only need a few things …

Lasts leading to Firsts : Malachy’s (not Malachi’s) last stateside birthday

My poor middle child has been saddled with a name that he has had to constantly correct people’s pronunciation on, politely I must add. I blame Frank McCourt. If I hadn’t read Angela’s Ashes shortly before he was conceived, I would not have been charmed by the name. If not for this twist of fate, he would not have had to, from an early age, learn to say “Actually my name is Malachy, like a key, but you can call me Mal”.

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My sweet Malachy just had a birthday a few days ago.  His last birthday before becoming a teenager also happens to be the last birthday he will celebrate in the US.  We were able to celebrate at home with ice-cream cake, family, and a small group of his friends.  I must ask, when in the world did Middle school children get so loud?? There were only 3 of them over as guests but I was scared that the police were going to be called in for breaking several noise ordinances in our area.  😉

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The weather cooperated with us for the entertainment, thankfully.  It has been quite snowy in the midatlantic region of the US this winter, as you may have heard or experienced yourself.  While it was not snowing on the day of Malachy’s party, there was plenty of snow on the ground for a massive snow ball fight.  I wish I had pictures but we lived in the moment and enjoyed watching the kids and *ahem* some adults enjoy in the terror of snow!  I don’t want to say that this was instigated by my husband, but I would be lying if I said that he had not.  Not sure if my big fella will ever grow up completely, but he is great craic the way he is ( and a great daddy) so I don’t want him to change.  shhh! Don’t let him know, the head is big enough as it is already. ❤

It was such a joy to see my wee boy enjoying his day so much.  He doesn’t always know it but he has the key to my heart.

Look out! She’s got a ticket to ride (to Ireland)

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We couldn’t resist flying home on Aer Lingus. Bring on the 22nd of June!

Gulp! We purchased our tickets to Ireland this week.  Things are certainly moving quickly from a theoretical move to the magical land of Ronan’s childhood to the reality that we are really moving our family to Ireland in just 16 weeks time.  To say that we must be excited is an understatement.

Items on my to do list that seemed to be too far in the future to start checking off are now being completed.  It’s the items that still remain to be done that are giving me palpitations!

These next few weeks that we have left in the states will be packed full of to do list items, friends, family, cleaning, packing, paperwork, tears, and laughter. (Could it also include my losing approximately a gazillion pounds … sigh stress eater here! 😉 ) We are living the dichotomy of both wanting the next few weeks to fly by so that we can join our loved ones in Ireland (and England) while simultaneously wanting to hold on to every precious moment with the ones we love at home.

I thank G-d for my friends here and abroad.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

C. S. Lewis

Be the change that you want in your life / take a chance at happiness

Sometimes life lessons come from surprising sources.  No one was more surprised than myself that I was taught a lesson by Jim Carrey.  I urge you to watch his commencement speech, it is beautiful.  When he stated “I learned many, many lessons from my father, but not least of which is that you can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love.”  His words resonated deeply within my soul.

I think that anytime that you are about to make a big change in your life you are faced with the walls of No, You shouldn’t do that, you are too old to reinvent yourself, if you do this you are being selfish and the No wall statements go on. *edit It depends on the person’s intent if I consider it a no wall.  I know people love us and don’t want us to leave.  I love that people want us to stay. xoxo  end edit*  It goes without saying that we do have to look at the responsibilities that we have towards others but that does not mean that we can’t ever take a chance in life.  How often do we allow ourselves to be walled into paths in lives that we simply don’t want?

When I initially told people that I was moving to Ireland, I got a fair mixture of reactions.  For every positive reaction I was presented with at least four no walls.  “I couldn’t leave my family, won’t you miss your family here?  We are too old, Karen, to reinvent our lives, so why are you trying to do that?  Why would you want to move to Ireland, don’t they have a lot of unemployment?”   I have to be conscious and not receive the no walls while maintaining positive relationships with the people who are in my life.

The harder no walls to ignore are the ones that come from inside.  It can all be too easy to second guess yourself out of happiness.  Who hasn’t done that at least once? You would know that I was lying if I didn’t admit that it is scary to think about leaving my family and friends, who are my chosen family, here in the states.  It is a bit ironic that it is their love for me and my family that gives me extra strength to choose not to live in fear but go above it and truly live.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out every fear. 1 John 4:18

You will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart. Jim Carrey

Yes, we are doing a lot of research; I spend more time on my mac perusing Irish immigration regulations, employment, politics, and real estate than you would care to know about.  We are setting up our household budget, finding work, and have found a home to rent in Ireland.  There is a difference between doing due diligence and living in fear.  We are laying the groundwork to  increase our chances of being successful. As Ben Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  I have no doubt that we will reach our goal of being happy in Ireland even if I am not 100% sure what this path may show myself and my family or even where it may eventually lead.  Here is the fun bit: even if we are not successful in a conventional sense, we will have gained experience.  We will have gained friendships.  We will kindle relationships within our family.  We will have taught our children that it is ok to take chances even if the world says you have failed.  When you live in fear, that when you truly fail at life.  I choose love always!

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A view of the North Atlantic from the driveway of our, soon to be, home in Ireland. The view alone squashes any fear!

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Let’s be honest, these views are an even better reason to focus on love.