Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just an Update

Things have been super crazy lately and I feel so out of the loop! It's mostly due to me starting work. I'm subbing! I subbed about 5 years ago before I got my first job in marketing and found it to be a great transitional "for now" job. Now the added bonus is it's flexible and the hours are great - I get to be home with Liam for the second half of the day! Another contributing factor to my busyness is the fact that we're temporarily living with my mom - so I've been accompanying her on a few little excursions here and there - appointments, dinners etc - I'm not used to having so much time with family - it's very nice to be so close (too close?!) for a while. It's going to get a little crazier too, because my sister and her little family are moving in this weekend. Are we nuts?! Yes, I think we most definitely are. Kelly graduates from nursing school tomorrow (congratulations, sis!) and Joel starts seminary across the state in January, hence the move. Until they find a house to buy, we'll all be under the same roof! Oh - and Kelly is due to have baby Patrick in early January! Let the madness begin....

My dad's Iraqi friend, "Jimmy" has been on my mind a lot too. He's currently in Syria and just sent the rest of his family back to Iraq because it is so dangerous there right now. He can't go with them because there are people that want him dead in Iraq. We've got our senator working on finding out what the delay is in moving them to the US, but the process is painfully slow. I'll post the back-story sometime soon. For now please just pray for Jimmy's family's safety.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Where-ever you are, have a happy day! We're off to Chicago to enjoy the day with Justin's side of the family. Updates when we return!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

As the years go by it's natural for birthday to get less and less important. In college I think I used to celebrate the whole week long! Now it's easy for me to forget my birthday is even drawing near. Also, I think we start to think about birthdays differently as we get older. I, for one don't mind getting older... I enjoy learning more, and knowing more about myself and my family - only time can do that. I see smile lines as gifts... memories of joyful times past. frown lines remind me that I've experienced pain and sadness, and that's okay too.

Since I had Liam, I think about my parents much more on my birthday. They did give me the gift of life, after all. And did a pretty good job raising me (if I do say so myself!). It's a special day for moms and dads too. This year I won't get to see or call my dad and thank him, but I'm pretty sure he already knows.

Proud new parents!

My mom and I

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I was informed today that I missed a very special someone by just a few days in Dublin. Apparently, my boyfriend, Michael Buble made the trip to switch on the Christmas lights on Grafton Street and unveil the Brown Thomas window display. Why our managers didn't coordinate our schedules, I have no idea.

Photo from rte.ie

I guess I'll still buy your new Christmas CD, MB.... 

Friday, November 18, 2011

We're Back!

We returned Monday night after 12 days away from our little love. I knew it would be hard to be apart for so long but I had no idea how my heart would literally ache to see him and hold him! Towards the end of the trip I felt a physical void - I need my baby! That said, we did not spend our precious alone time pining away for Liam... we made the most of our time by waking up late, holding hands as we roamed the streets of Paris, and going to late dinners that were not rushed. It was so good for our relationship - we needed a rejuvenation.

Oh and Justin's paper went wonderfully at the conference and was very well received! His doctoral commencement was incredibly impressive, too. I am so happy we made the trip, I think it made us realize that our time in Europe is not over - if the opportunity presents itself, we would go back in a heartbeat.

A few favorite snaps:

The gardens outside Notre Dame

Apparently the pinot made him angry!

Anxiously waiting entrance to the Louvre! (we went on the first Sunday of the month so it was free! Yes!)

The Tower at night

What's up Doc?

Proud wifey!

Dear friends Jen & Kara (fellow members of the missing parent's club :-( )

Glendalough on a lovely day with lovely people!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back to Dublin

Tomorrow we head back to Dublin for Justin's commencement ceremony! Actually, we fly into Dublin and leave for Paris the next day. J is giving a paper at a conference. Did I mention we are going ALONE?! Last time we were in Paris we had this little guy tagging along. 

It was amazing, but as you can imagine our sightseeing (and romancing) was limited. I didn't even get to see the Louvre! Though I'm very anxious about leaving my darling boy [for 12 days] I am looking forward to reconnecting with J in the city of love (we arrive a few days before the conference!). 

After the conference we fly back to Dubs for graduation. J's mom will be there waiting for us. We have a weekend full of fun planned with friends. I am looking so forward to seeing everyone! Updates upon our return...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Grief Post - Sorry!

I haven't written in a while. I've really wanted to but I really don't know what to say. I feel like grief is a never-ending, always evolving process. I've mourned the loss of my two week old brother (when I was 7), my uncle, grandpa, and great-grandparents - and every one of their deaths were sad for different reasons. But the loss of a parent is completely different. It's a feeling that I find very difficult to explain. I almost feel unprotected or insecure. My dad played the role of hero and protector well. He always made sure my car was tuned, gave the best hugs when I was sad (or not sad!) and wanted to kill anyone who ever did me wrong.

Did I mention that he died four days before we were set to move home? Four. Days. He and my mom were going to surprise us at the airport. His retirement party was the following weekend. Four days. I repeat that a lot in my head.

On the outside, I look normal. I seem happy to anyone I meet, I'm sure. And I do have lots of happy moments. Having a one year old is great for lightening the grief load! But when it gets quiet at the end of the day and I'm left to my thoughts, they wander to Dad. I miss him so much. It's really hard to be here without him. I don't just miss him for me though, I miss him for my mom and for Liam, for my sister, for Jimmy. For everyone's life he touched - and he touched many lives.

I'm sorry my posts have been downers lately. You can totally stop reading if you want. This is just a good outlet for me. I will start posting about what we've been up to more regularly - I was on such a roll for a while!

We planted a tree for my dad last weekend at my in-law's home. It was really touching and beautiful. I am truly blessed by Justin's (my) family. Here are a few pictures from the day (the kids dressed up for Halloween - so cute!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We're All Okay

I still can't believe dad's gone. I saw him in a coffin, know exactly what happened, and still feel like I'm waiting for him to walk in the door at any moment. He still seems so alive to me. I hope this feeling stays - I don't ever want to forget him, for my sake and the sake of his grandchildren, his legacy will live on.

We're all hanging in there and holding on tight. We have hope. Hope that we'll see him again after this life. Hope that he's in heaven right this minute catching up with all that have gone before him - my baby brother James, Uncle Jamey and GrandBob. We probably have the best guardian angel ever.

The support we've received from the community has been unreal and humbling. It's all because of my dad. He touched so many in this town (and beyond). He was the kind of guy that made every person feel like his best friend; would give you the shirt off his back. The inmates at the prison he worked at made us (My mom, sister and I) a card, some with a note. One of them reads:

"To the family of such a fine man: He was a well respected man of honor and integrity, firm and fair. He will be missed. I send my condolences and may God less you all at your time of grieving" - Name withheld

He was a stand-up guy. I miss him so much.

My dad with Iraqi children at Abu Ghraib in 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eye of the Storm

I have a feeling that I am not fully processing my dad being gone yet. It's not real until I go home and he's not there. I have an intense sense of dread. I've been going over and over in my mind the simple act of walking into the house. Will I walk through the garage where it happened or will I avoid that space and walk through the front door. We never use the front door. It would be weird, but I don't want to think about where it happened, and being in that space seems like it would be too hard.

Justin has been tying up loose ends here and packing up the rest of the stuff in our apartment. Liam and I have been with K, T and H pretty much non-stop. I honestly have no idea how we'd be getting though all of this without them. I think it comforts my family to know we're being taken care of here.

This is our last full day in Dublin. Our flight to Detroit (with a lay-over in Chicago) leaves tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for a safe and smooth journey for my little family.

Dad, Jude, Kelly, me, Mom & Liam, summer 2010

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rest in Peace, Dad

It doesn't seem real. Can't be true. He was a month away from retirement. Would have celebrated his 53rd birthday this Wednesday.

He died suddenly and unexpectedly on Tuesday. Justin and I had just gotten home from a lovely going away dinner with our friends and Liam was being put to bed while I checked my email and facebook. I got a very urgent message from my mom saying to call her as soon as possible. I did so immediately thinking maybe mom and dad sold the house! It didn't cross my mind that she would have bad news. Devastating news. her voice was shaky. She told me to put Justin on the phone. Something was wrong. Very wrong. I asked her to tell me. She repeated to "put Justin on the phone." I took Liam and Justin went into the living room to talk to my mom. I was shaking as I was trying to get Liam to sleep. Racking my brain for what horrible thing could have happened. I could hear Justin speaking in a hushed voice in the other room. Not a good sign. He came back into the bedroom and sat next to me saying, "Something bad happened." I told him not to tell me. I didn't want to know. I wanted to live in blissful ignorance for a little while longer.

The initial shock of hearing your father is gone is unbearable. You resist the news with your whole being. I've been told there's no one or right way to grieve. Everyone does it differently. Distraction is good for me. I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking about my mom, sister, grandma, grandpa,  aunts, uncles. Everyone left behind. There's a huge hole in my world now. Nothing makes sense.

 He was an amazing man. He had a heart of gold. He was so passionate about his beliefs. He was my hero. He touched so many lives and was taken too soon.

Mom & Dad meeting Liam for the first time

Dad at Howth Pier, feeding the seals

With his two favorite boys

Mom & Dad in Italy - so in love!

I miss him so much and this distance is killing me right now. We're still in Dublin, heading for Michigan on Monday. I'm really not looking forward to going home, and him not being there. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I belatedly picked up a pair of rain boots (better known as wellies here) for Liam, thinking he might like to take a page out of Peppa Pig's book and give jumping in muddy puddles a try. Well he certainly likes it! In fact he wants to wear the boots all the time! He thrusts them into my hand saying "boo, boo!" I think these boots might be the best €7 I ever spent.

Have I mentioned his obsession with tractors and trucks? This kid is ALL BOY.

With Weather like This

One needs a cheerful umbrella. 

My umbrella from H&M does the trick!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another Good-bye

I feel like every day whatever I do, I try to soak it up, remember every detail. Will this be my last trip to Tesco (no way, I go every day!) The last time I go to dear Herbert Park? And so on... and every time I see a friend I put off saying the horrible, awful, good-bye. In fact, I haven't actually used that word in any of my goodbyes. I like to think of it as a "see you later" - just pretend we'll see each other next week. It's easier that way.

On Sunday I met my friend Liz in the middle (Blackrock) to see her for [probably] the last time before we go. She's another one of my American friends with an Irish husband and very cute little boy, Mister Man. She's from New Jersey and tells it like it is - it's one of the best things about her! Funny, funny girl she is - I get a good laugh every time I'm around her.

The night after Justin left for Paris Liam got his first high fever and scared me senseless. Read about it here, I don't want to relive it again! So Liz swooped in and saved the day. I was in awe of her confidence and so thankful for her that day. It's something I will never forget.

Another memory that makes me chuckle is the sight of her walking into our "friend" Christmas party at the other Liz's house with glitter eye-shadow and a Santa hat. She is awesome!

I'll miss you dearly, friend.

. Liz looking wonderful and me with weird hair 

Typical Irish Weather

I went to Blackrock on Sunday to meet my friend Liz, for coffee (more on that later). My feet (and jeans) got soaked on the walk to the DART, and more soaked from the DART station to Starbucks. This is what it looked like when I arrived in Blackrock:

And about an hour and a half later as I was leaving, this was the view:

Doesn't even look like the same place does it?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bye Bye, Baggot Street Boobies

Friday night I had a fantastic girls' night out with a few ladies I met at my local breastfeeding support group. I've only known them since Liam's been born but I think you tend to get quite close to people going through the same big life events right along with you.

Honestly, I don't know what I would have done without these wonderful women. I started going to the clinic when L was 3 weeks old and in a sleep-deprived haze (me, not him). I continued to go to the group on the first and third Wednesday of every month and would look forward to seeing my new friends. Eventually (when we got braver) we started going for coffee after the group. Our favorite spot was a posh hotel just behind the clinic (The Dylan). They made a great mocha (and didn't mind us nursing in public)!

When L was 3 months old JDS left for a fellowship at the Irish College in Paris; a three month obligation, where our new little family would be split apart (what were we thinking!?). During this time these friends were invaluable. They had their own babies to worry about but would still lend an ear when I was having a particularly difficult day. I swear Liam and I wouldn't have survived without them!

Many of them returned to work after the new year and I hoped we'd still manage to stay friends. I am happy to report that we have, and I truly believe I will count these women as some of my best friends for a very long time. I look forward to watching their children grow up, as I've come to love them like nieces and nephews.

Saying goodbye to friends like this is not easy. We've been through a lot together! Seen one another at our worst. Seen each others boobs! How mush closer can you get? I sincerely hope to keep in touch - through facebook, email, whatever.

Thanks for the support, and most of all, thanks for the memories.

L to R: Sinead, me, Una, Catherine, Alison. 
Not pictured: Jenny, Melissa, Aoife & Paula

Sinead, me & Una

Catherine & Alison

P.S. We totally had a cocktail at The Dylan before we went to out to dinner. I have to say it was nice not to have a screaming baby to tend to!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One thing I will not miss about Dublin

Wet feet.

You'd have to wear wellies non-stop to avoid this inevitable fate. My poor shoes!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Next Week

Next week is our last week in Dublin. It's chuck-full of many farewells to the wonderful people we've met over the past three years. The blog is going to reflect that so get out the kleenex.... I hate good-byes. Tonight I'm going out with the girls I met at the Breastfeeding Clinic. We've become so close over the past year. These girls are amazing and I'll miss them so much. I'll give a proper write up on Monday.

Until then, will you send up a few extra prayers for my good friend Jennifer who lost her mother to a stroke very suddenly on Tuesday night? And also for our friends who had an explosion in their home, which consequently burned to the ground. Thankfully they escaped (along with their three dogs) unharmed. Read about what happened here.

Have a great weekend xx

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Budding Artist

I saw a cute idea for finger-painting on Pinterest and wanted to give it a go with Liam. He's still a bit young to understand what he's actually creating so honestly this was more for me than him! That being the case I let him do a little abstract freestyle when we were finished with the main project.

Birdies on a tree branch, by Liam (and Mama) 16 mo. old

Lovely artwork by Mr. Liam 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurry up! No, slow down!

With two weeks to go before we make the big move I find myself of two minds. One moment I am saying "Come on, time, go faster!" and the next I think "I'm not ready yet, please slow down, time."

Change is hard, there's no way around it. We have embraced our time here and though we've had our share of struggles, I know I will look back on our time in Ireland fondly, grateful that we had the opportunity to see a bit more of the word. When we first moved here, I found myself enthralled with being in a new and different place. I walked my butt off those first few months, exploring my new city and taking the Dublin culture in stride. Here is a post I wrote upon our arrival in Dublin. This post is so funny to me now. The park I was looking for was none other than Herbert Park! And I leaned more about the legal aspect of living in Ireland and becoming a citizen (when Liam was born) than I care to admit! Reading those posts from two and three years ago makes me realize how much I've grown, It's so funny the silly things I point out as being different.

Moving here was a change. It was hard at first. Then I got a job. Then I made a few wonderful friends (the life-long sort). Then I had a baby and met more wonderful friends. And JDS got his Ph.D. (Not to mention my and Justin's relationship blossomed here back in 2006)! I feel that we've laid roots in this city

But. And this is a big but (trust me, I know big butts, since I have one, myself. Thanks for the genes, mom. Kidding!).  We get to move back to a wonderful, amazing, supportive family. One that can't wait to get their hands on our little boy. And, more than that, they deserve to! They have been so patiently waiting while we've been off gallivanting in Europe. I am excited to be able to attend birthday parties and hockey games and plays. To go on dates with my husband. For big Sunday family dinners. For Thanksgiving! Yes, my friends, we have a lot to look forward to and be thankful for. This period in our lives is a transition, while we look for jobs and decide where to settle. But also, we're going to put our feet up for a while, and enjoy. This is our life and as they say, "It's not about the destination..."

Image from inkstagram.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vintage Liam

Lately I've been dreaming about my baby, you know, since he isn't really a baby anymore.

Liam, 5 days old

Who am I kidding? He'll always be my baby.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday Funday

*First of all, thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post about the very rude woman I encountered. Believe me, I wanted nothing better than to tell her off, but after I let myself cool down I remembered that everyone is dealing with issues or fighting a personal battle. So instead I said a little prayer that she sorts herself out.

Now, on to Sunday Funday! Yesterday when JDS got back from his second home (6th floor of the Arts Block at Trinity College). Liam had just woken up from his nap and had lunch so we were ready to head to Peoples' Park in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun-Leary for my non-Irish readers) for the Dublin Bay Taste and Music Fest. It had been raining on and off all day summer, but you can't let that stop you from getting out of the house when you live in Dublin!

We arrived by DART (about a 15 minute ride) and it promptly started to rain. We hung out in the station until it stopped (in about 5 minutes). The park looked absolutely gorgeous and was packed. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Several well known restaurants had stands under this tent.
Lots of very tasty options! 

I tried the slow-roasted pork belly with apple chutney from 
Nosh. It was fantastic!

Liam enjoyed dancing to the music, we caught the 
Blues show, which was pretty good.

Getting shelter under a big tree from the rain!

We took a stroll down Dun Laoghaire Pier when we were ready
to leave. Lovely views here.

Another great family day out :-) We'll miss this place.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good vs. Evil

It was raining pretty heavily outside and I was enjoying a coffee and a book in a cozy cafe in town (by myself!). Diagonally across the table from me a woman who looked to be in her 60s was sipping coffee, reading a book as well. The rest of the cafe was packed with people taking cover from the crummy weather outside.

I noticed a couple trying to find seats and I thought if I move across from the woman (whose backpack was occupying the seat) I could let the two share the table where I was. So, I got up and said to the couple and the older woman, gesturing at the chair, "if I move here, you can take this table."

Surprisingly the woman had a scowl on her face, she said: "I paid to have my coffee here this is my seat" (the seat her backpack was in). She continued, "You got your coffee to go, why don't you leave?" While our coffees were indeed in to-go cups there is no price difference at this shop whether you are staying or taking- away. I always get my drink to go just in case I don't finish it and want to leave! The girl of the pair stated that they intended to stay in as well, but the woman reiterated that we could "just leave" and that was the end of the conversation - the woman was not letting her bag be moved to let these people sit.

So the couple moved to look elsewhere, and I was so disturbed that I got up, saying, "I seems as though you need your space..." and found a seat on a stool overlooking Nassau Street, next to two older gentlemen. Embarrassingly, I found myself a bit choked up at the whole scene. I tried to get back into my book, but couldn't. I couldn't stop thinking about why that woman was so mean. Was she going though a hard time? Bitter at the world for the hand she'd been dealt? Annoyed with tourists? I ended up just feeling sorry for her. That kind of negativity is so poisonous.

A few minutes later the couple came up to me and thanked me for my kindness and apologized for the trouble. I told them it was not a bother, and that I was sorry they couldn't find a seat. They handed me a bag with two treats from the bakery inside and said they "hoped she hadn't upset me, not everyone in Dublin is like that." I smiled and said "I've been living here for three years and have never come across anyone that rude."

The rain had finally stopped and myself and the gentlemen sitting next to me decided to chance the weather and leave. We shared a laugh about the rain starting again in five minutes as they opened the door for me. I made sure to smile at the woman before I stepped outside.

Good: 2 Evil: 1

Good prevails.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mama's Little Helper

Yesterday afternoon I was doing the dishes after lunch and Liam was bored of playing with pots and pans. I was nearly finished so I drained the water, filled the sink again, half way, and pulled a chair up so Liam could "help." He thought this was the greatest thing ever! I gave him a few plastic cups and bowls to "wash" and he had a grand old time. And also made a grand old mess. Oh well, at least it was a clean mess, if you know what I mean!

Free Polish!

Lately I haven't been splurging on my favorite glossies just to cut down on frivolous money suckers. But in this month's UK edition of (September '11) Marie Claire you score a free Ciaté Paint Pot in "My Fair Lady" or "Wait until Dark." Valued at £9 I couldn't pass it up!

Yes, I have a freckle on the inside of my hand. 
Weird, huh?

I really love this color! It reminds me a lot of Essie "Mademoiselle." And isn't the bottle the cutest? Normally I'd go for bright or super dark shades but I don't have time to keep up with color like that anymore so shades like this are my go-to now - much more forgiving! 

Now off to read the magazine while Liam naps (cleaning can wait!).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zombie Mom

I think it goes without saying that new parents are sleep deprived. I also think that parents generally expect this in the beginning (though nothing truly prepares them for it!). Sure it's all we could talk about for months on end... Conversations would go like this:

Mom A: "How did little Sally sleep last night?"
Mom B: "Ugh, she woke at least 5 times, I'm wrecked!"
Mom A: "Oh you poor thing, I completely understand, Bobby woke at 2 and just wouldn't go back to sleep!"

So, conversations like this were pretty typical until about the babies got to be about 6-8 months old. Then one of two things happened. Either your baby had started sleeping though the night and you didn't want to jinx it or make anyone jealous, or your baby was still not sleeping thought the night and you just learned to deal with the sleep deprivation (and you were sick of talking about sleep all the time).

I'm one of the lucky ones who hasn't had a full night's sleep in well, 16 months (actually more than that - if you've ever been pregnant you know what sleep is like near the end). I think it's starting to take a toll. I look older and uglier than ever. My body constantly aches. I eat whatever's easy and within reach so my diet is crap. (Don't worry Liam eats like a king!) I crave sleep. I just want to lay in bed for two days straight - make that a week, it's my daydream!

Does anyone else have a toddler that's still waking at night? Let's break the silence!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: The Slap

I finished this book a few days ago and am still trying to decide how I feel about The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. The plot revolves around a man who slapped a child who was not his own at a barbecue. The author gives you insight and stories of the people most effected by what happened: the child's mother and father, the hosts of the barbecue, and the teens who mind the child (who also attended the party). I felt the book was kind of depressing. I didn't really like any of the characters. It certainly highlights the fact that we're all human and make mistakes. Some realize those mistakes and try to rectify them and others willfully defend their actions. I don't recommend  the book if strong language makes you uncomfortable - it can get a little vulgar at times using the ugly c-word and every other swear word known to man. I got used to it after a while, but I have a friend who had to stop reading because it bothered her.

I do have to say it was an interesting read. But is this really an accurate depiction of the modern family? I'd say it's a bit extreme.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It is well written and the story itself is different enough to make you want to keep reading. Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday Funday

JDS has been burning the candle at both ends (and thus, so have I!) so though we're exhausted we are still trying to squeeze some fun in. Yesterday our very favorite park (yup, Herbert) celebrated it's centenary with a family fun day. So of course we went to join the festivities!

Someone wants to get out of the buggy!

A decorated Herbert Park

It was a gorgeous day and the park was filled with free activities for kids of all ages. There was a hot air balloon, rock climbing wall, fencing, karate, and for the littlest ones, lots of trucks, tunnels and giant connect four games.

Playing with the giant connect 4 

The local mini boat enthusiasts were there with their scale models, and there was a race on the pond (we didn't see Stuart Little, though!).

Cool boats with motors and remote controls!

Cute ice cream truck!

We manged to have a wonderful time without spending a dime. I love that! Happy 100 years Herbert Park!