Saturday, May 19, 2012

Idaho or Bust!

Since we moved back to the US from Ireland in September (8 months ago!), we had no idea where our next step would take us. We were hoping to return to Dublin, or make a jump to England. Justin submitted about 45 applications for post-doctoral fellowships and lectureships in America and back in Europe. Completing these applications was a full time job in itself; each had to be specifically tailored to the position. And as the rejections started rolling in, he kept applying for new positions that cropped up. I'm sure many can relate to the stress of not knowing where you're going to be, or where the money will come from when it runs out. It takes a toll on a person, and a family!

But(!), the waiting and persistence has finally paid off. A couple of weeks ago Justin was called to interview for the position of Lecturer in Modern European History at Idaho State University. He got the job! The paperwork is signed and we'll be shipping off to Idaho Falls in mid-August. It's amazing the life that has been breathed into us since we've received this news. Only now do I realize how downtrodden we felt, and probably acted. I have to say, though, that through the 8 months I knew in my heart that something would work out. I got so used to the not knowing that the only time it bothered me was when someone pointed out how difficult it must be to be living in limbo-land.

Idaho Falls

With Justin going to Manhattan for a fellowship for the month of July, we've got our work cut out for us with this big move in just a couple of months. It will all be worth it! So looking forward to our next great adventure!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Liam's Two Year Stats

We'll start with the measurements:
He is 36.5 inches tall (90th percentile)
25.5 lbs (25th percentile)
Head circumference: 19 in (50th percentile)

Taking a swim in the Lake in Lewiston, MI (June, 2011)

So, he's tall and slender, no surprise there! He is like the energizer bunny all day long and is a great (though VERY messy) eater. I think all that nutrition is going into making him grow up and not out! He has these adorable little chicken legs, which he certainly does not get from my side of the family (I wish!). His hair is starting to curl and he's got a light dusting of freckles across his nose.

Grandpaddy & Liam at cousin Shelley's Wedding (June, 2011)

He can count to ten (skipping a number every now and then, mostly because he wants to say them to fast). And though he doesn't say his ABCs all the way through he recognizes each letter and a word or two that start with it. He's very good at classifying colors, and has been since he was about 18 months old. He's talking in full sentences, though he kind of sound like a robot when he talks - like there's a period after each word... "Daddy. Go. Downstairs!" or "I. Make. Mommy. Coffee!"

A Visit to the local dairy farm, on a very warm March day (2012)

He loves pretend play now - likes to pretend he's a dog or a cat and asks us to pet him. Makes us food in his kitchen and gives us bites. When he's busy doing something he makes the funniest commentary... Like "Hmmm, um, yes." With a look of complete concentration - it cracks us up! He'd rather be outside than anywhere else. A favorite activity is walking on the trail behind the house (which is actually a road with undeveloped land). There are a few sewer drains and he could spend forever throwing rocks down the holes. He still loves to read - loves cuddling up to mommy or daddy at bedtime for his three stories. His favorite show is Super-Why (he is OBSESSED!) I think Peppa Pig has been replaced - he still loves the show but doesn't ask for it as much.

Easter, 2012

We're currently co-sleeping. When we moved back to the States it was such a big change for all of us, we just kept him in our bed. It's been fine so we haven't made an effort to change it yet. But when we move again we're going to introduce the toddler bed and make the transition. I have a feeling it could get a little ugly - he relies on us to fall asleep so he's going to have to learn how to self soothe. I'm sure the process will take a while, since I'm not interested in letting him cry it out at this point in time. I'll probably write a post about how it goes when it happens.

With new pal, Woody

Potty training will probably be happening soon, even though I wouldn't mind if he were in diapers for a while longer! He's showing the tell-tale signs that he's ready so that'll be another project after we move.... boy what a fun summer we have planned! Ha!

Enjoying his birthday cake!

I have to say, I am so proud of him to adapting to all the change in our lives - one thing has remained constant - his parents are always there, which I think it the most important thing right now. There is more change to come... moving next week across the state to the burrow and then another move at the end of the summer. Hopefully at that point we can lay down roots for at least a couple of years. I think we would all benefit from a little consistency!

I am looking so forward to watching Liam grow and learn in his third year of life :-)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Props to the Husband

I just read his latest publication. Chapter 13 in the book: Terror in Ireland. And it was gooood (five 'o's' in good, good.). I'm a girl that appreciates history and admires the heck out of my husband for making it his life's work, but I wouldn't pick up a history book to read for fun. Unless it's historical fiction - but Justin says that doesn't count - ha! Here's the cover:

J's portion of the book covers prison violence during the Irish Revolution, and the nasty stuff that the political prisoners initiated. The men who were imprisoned wanted, needed the title of political prisoner. What's better than being a martyr for your cause? 

The research JDS did for this chapter was actually inspired by my dad, who started out as a prison officer and over 25 years, worked his way up to lieutenant and master weapons trainer. I know my dad would have been the first (behind his mom) to read, and congratulate him on a job well done. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Blog: Golf on Liam's Birthday

With Mom at work Liam and I headed across the road for nine holes at Rolling Hills Golf Course. It was a windy morning, but Liam managed to instruct me on the proper clubs and approach to my shots. He was also interested in the different colored starting blocks, and the flagstick.

As you can see he helped driving the cart and was not shy about putting. I would like to say that Liam's putting contributed to our terrible score, but I must take full responsibility for that.

 A great morning, and excellent start to a second birthday. Now off to our special birthday dinner. Love you Liam!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rainy Day Drawing

Complete with cotton rounds for storm clouds. There's 15 minutes of a rainy day covered! Now for the rest of the 12.5 waking hours...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bunny & Liam: 2 Years On

Left to right: 1 month old, 5 months old
10 months old, 2 years old.

Where did my baby go?!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Liam's Top 5 Favorite Books

Liam loves to be read to, which I love, too! I thought I'd share a list of his current favorites. These are the books he requests all the time, and knows most of the words to.

This book is so funny and has us both laughing out loud. I was a birthday present and we've read it about a million times already!

He LOVES the Little Critter series. This is one of the books he has pretty much memorized. 

Such a funny book! Simple and funny. Great for all ages. We actually don't own it yet but checked it out from the library - I hated to return it!

Liam loves the big red dog!! I get pretty tired of reading these books but Liam sure doesn't.

About a llama that doesn't want to go to bed and keeps calling for his mama. Reminds me of someone I know....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Birthday Party!

Yesterday was such a whirlwind! From the time we got up until 3:30 when the party started we were running around getting the house in order. And then when the party started it seemed to be over in two seconds! I guess that's just the way these things work lots and lots of prep for such  short amount of time. But it was totally worth it, and everything turned out well. I could not have pulled it off without the help of my mom & sister, though! I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking...

My rainbow cake with Pennant banner topper. I was pretty proud of it!

The pennant banner I made... this will be coming out every year!

The birthday boy, himself!

Opening presents!

"Happy Birthday to you!!"

The inside of the cake

Digging in to his very big piece of cake!

So, it was a success!! I know every mom says this, but I'll join the chorus... can't believe he'll be two in a little over a week (April 23). A huge thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us - it meant the world that you were there. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Weekend

We had a wonderful Easter weekend at the Burrow (my in-law's home). We so enjoy our time there, and no one enjoys it more than Liam! He and his Pop Pop are BFFs. And it's no wonder why... Pop Pop entertains Liam's every whim. They spend the day driving Pop Pop's truck and beeping the horn, riding the mower, and trekking to the red and blue play houses in the Hundred Acre Woods. They just exhaust each other! They are quite a pair and it's downright adorable. This adorable picture was snapped by Kate and is a perfect representation of their bond...

Justin's sibs were there for the weekend, too, and it was so fun catching up. On Sunday we all woke up early to attend Easter breakfast at the church and participate in the egg-hunt before the service. I think Liam was so exhausted from all the fun he had that he tuckered right out in the beginning of the service! That said, we all were able to sit through the whole thing - yay!

Liam found his Easter basket when we returned and was very excited about the "yummies" that the bunny brought (bunny shaped marshmallows and coconut nests with jelly beans). He also got jammies and a couple of books, an Elmo "nope-pad" and crayons.

Allergy free bird nests (recipe here)

We had such a wonderful weekend! Since then I've been working on all things birthday for the party on Saturday! Everything is coming together... so far I have made the banner, the layers for the rainbow cake, the cake topper, his 2nd year video (see his 1st year video here) and most of the shopping done. Still lots to do, but I definitely feel like I have a good handle on things. Can't wait!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

First Trip to the Cinema

Actually, that heading is not entirely accurate. I took Liam to a "mommy & me" movie in Dublin when he was about 6 months old, but that was more for me than him. I can't even remember the title of the film, it was a Spanish one, I think....

So, at 23 months old, Liam had his first big screen experience! Everything I read online said: "You're crazy - DO NOT bring a two year old to a movie, fool!" But... My sister and I were going nuts in the house with the kids on a very dreary afternoon so we said, "What the heck? Let's do it!" The worst that could happen is we have to leave the movie early.

So we packed everyone up (including the 2 month old baby) and headed to see the 4:40 showing The Lorax.

And guess what? They loved it! It was a great first film. It was amazingly vivid and colorful and had loads of silly songs. Liam loved the whole experience. He was wide eyed, chomping popcorn, and laughing at the funny bits the whole time. Definitely a success!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Coincidence?

I've been thinking about the few days before my dad passed away pretty frequently. My little family was getting ready to move back to Michigan from Dublin. We were stressed about the little details and packing up/throwing away/donating the what was left in our apartment. Gearing up for another long flight with a toddler.

The week before was beautiful. On a Wednesday morning I had plans to go for a walk with a good friend who lived in our development. At 10 am I walked over to her place with Liam in tow to collect her for our stroll to the park with our boys. I was greeted at the door by an unfamiliar face who informed me that her mother had passed away unexpectedly from complications of a stroke. This news took me by complete surprise, as I knew her mother to be in good health. The whole family had just returned from a lovely holiday in Spain. I left, and went for the walk anyway, my head spinning and heart breaking for my dear friend.

Later that day there was a knock at my door - she came to apologize for not being home for our scheduled walk. Isn't it silly the things we worry about while grief stricken? I remember just holding her hand and letting her talk about her mom; crying with her. She kept repeating, "it's just awful..." and is was. It is. When she left I couldn't help thinking about how horrible it would be to lose a parent. So incredibly sad for her, but relieved that I was fortunate enough to have still mine.

Crazy how life works, isn't it?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Visit

We've been meaning to make a a trip to see my Uncle Pete (my dad's brother) for quite a while now. He had back surgery earlier this week so it was a good excuse for us to finally get our butts over there. I am so glad we did. It was such a nice visit, though hard at times, because my dad and him looked so much alike. Not to mention they had the same mannerisms and diction.

My grandma, grandpa, and aunt were there too. Dad's whole family... as hard as it is to be around them, it's comforting and absolutely essential. I feel like Dad's going to come through the door any minute and slide right into the conversation, not missing a beat. On second thought, he was probably there all along...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Birthday Party #2: Inspiration

* Spoiler alert, for those of you attending!

The invites have been sent out, and my vision is in place (in my head)! We're having the party a week early as my mom will be out of town on his actual birthday. So, here's what I'm thinking:

I am keeping it simple, first of all - trying to make the party the best it can be on a budget. I just want lots of COLOR! Bright, vibrant color everywhere. Basically the theme revolves around the cake I'm going to attempt...

I don't think I'll do the purple layer though.
Isn't it pretty? Try not to think about all the food dye involved.

I'm really excited to try my hand at my first pennant banner. I've already picked up several sheets of colorful, patterned scrap book paper from Michael's (can I just say that crafting is a MILLION times easier in the US?) I'm going to use the dye cut machine at the middle school (where I've been subbing) for the letters.

My inspiration. Picture it with brighter, bolder colors and patterns. 

Other decorations will include those hanging paper fans, like the one below, and lots of balloons.

Colorful fans! Hung by fishing wire. I got the idea from my lovely sister-in-law.

I want to keep the food simple so that I can actually enjoy the party and not spend all of my time in the kitchen. We'll do some simple finger foods for when people arrive - my go-to's are usually guacamole and chips, hummus and veggies, etc. I'll be serving dinner too, penne with my grandma's famous pasta sause, and Italian sausage on the grill with sauteed onions and peppers.


Drinks for the adults will be margaritas - because how do you get through a child's birthday party without a little alcohol? And I think I'll have juice or punch for the kids. I haven't decided yet. There actually will only be a few kids, as the party will be pretty small - mostly family.

Is your mouth watering yet??

Ok... let the actual work begin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Suicide

I was completely blindsided the other day when suicide came up in conversation with an acquaintance. I brought it up actually, discussing a student who disclosed this information to me. After I relayed this information the conversation went something like this:

Me: I am not qualified to deal with something like this!!
Her: Yeah... especially after what you went through with your dad.

Wait. What?! I was caught completely off guard. I'm sure it's not her fault that she thought my dad committed suicide. I know about the rumor mill. And I know what people think about people who die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Well I am here to say that carbon monoxide poisoning can be accidental. First of all, my dad would NEVER kill himself. If you knew him, you'd know that. He would view that as giving up, and he NEVER gave up. Second of all, He was looking so forward to retirement and his golden years. Playing with his grandsons, enjoying his wife and family... Justin, Liam and I were going to be moving home four days after he died. He was going to surprise us at the airport. He told everyone that would listen about it, and how excited he was.

Just wanted to defend his honor. God, I miss him.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An (almost) Two-Year-Old, A Broken Computer & A New Baby

I am in disbelief that I will have a 2 year old in two months! This age is the best. The. Best. Liam makes me smile and laugh at least a million times a day. He is so affectionate (I'm still his favorite - hooray!!) and the things that come out of his mouth are pure awesome. I love seeing his mind develop and learn right before my eyes. Ever since we diagnosed his dairy allergy he seems happier, too, which has been wonderful. It's hard not to feel bad, though, about the year and a half he probably had an upset tummy. Poor little guy. It also makes me mad at all the doctors who brushed away my concerns. From now on I will be a bull for my baby when it comes to his health and my gut feelings.

I know I've been MIA lately - and I do really miss blogging! But the reason is that my laptop fizzled out on me and that's where all of my pictures are... so blogging will be sporadic until I get my new mac-book (I am so excited!! Hooray for tax returns!) I will be a much better blogger when that happens :-)

In other news.... I have a new nephew! Patrick Calvin was born January 18th and is now 6 weeks old. I wish I had a picture to share - he is gorgeous! He is a sweet baby and we are all positively smitten with him.

My sweet boy. That smile makes me melt!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Post all about Liam!

He's talking up a storm now - here are some of the funnier things he says:
  • He calls my sister "Mama Jo-Jo"
  • Exclaims "Oh me, oh my!"
  • Doesn't say "Grandma" but calls Justin's mom "Go Irish" (He calls my mom Mimi)
  • He loves his Pop-pop and asks for him ALL the time. He's been working a lot lately and when asked where Pop-pop is he says "working." 
  • He's amazed by pretty much everything and his favorite way to vocalize that is to say "oh, wowwww!"
  • Knows not to touch "Daddy's books"
  • Is happy to serve you "hot tea" and will top you up when it's "all gone" (good Irish lad!)
  • When we tell him that we love him he says "I know, I know"
What he's doing:
  • Loves his new kitchen from Santa!
  • Obsessed with building Lego towers and airplanes
  • Loves pointing out what colors things are (so far knows blue, yellow, green, orange and sometimes pink and purple. Refuses to say red for some reason!).
  • Counting... but only to two, ha ha! 
  • Reading... the kid loves his books! Especially Olivia goes to Venice, The Little Engine that Could and Moo, Baa, La La La
  • 20 months old. Currently weighs 26 lbs and is pretty tall - not sure of that measurement!
A few favorite photos from the last couple of months:

Harvest Party at the Burrow - with cousin, Jude



"Why aren't I wearing mittens, mom?"

Jude and Liam - Christmas 2011

 The fam - Christmas 2011