our new home

Old homes are charming, and ours is full of the good stuff, complete with crooked floors, creaking doors, and water in the basement. I guess I’m just a sucker for that kind of charm. We moved in a  few weeks ago and have been busy getting this place together.  Some days I still feel very much out of sorts, but maybe that’s just part of the adjustment. Most days, though, I just love it here. It’s kind of my dream starter home, and my sweet family makes this house so warm that I catch myself wanting to have a hundred babies and wake up every day at 5am to bake bread and milk the cows.

Right now, even though we’re still living with empty rooms, blank walls, and tons of projects added to our to-do list each day, it feels like we’re home, finally. I almost don’t want to post pictures yet, because I see everything as it will be, eventually. I’ve got plans that include replacing floors and countertops, tearing down walls, moving the driveway, and building porches. My husband keeps reminding me that we need to replace the roof first, but a girl can dream, right?

Until then, though, it’s still our place to call home, so here’s some of the touches I love most.


my silly monster. we don’t worry about shirts when we have super awesome frog boots.

 

kitchen with a peaceful view of our yard & deck

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the living room sold this house for me – a big wood burning stove and lots of light

family room & our bedroom. my man’s gonna build me a reading nook with window seat this winter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

first purchase for the house was a hammock. feels like we have a billion trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ps please forgive the pool quality of these photos. i’m posting from my back deck, enjoying the sunshine, and using pictures I had on my phone. thanks!

Kiss Me, I’m Irish

Just kidding, please don’t kiss me. But I am Irish, half anyway, although they say everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Today’s holiday is usually observed lightheartedly by wearing green, eating corned beef, bar hopping, and maybe watching River Dance. It makes me smile to think of so many people celebrating their Irish heritage, even those who aren’t officially of Irish descent. Today also serves more seriously as a reminder for me to reflect on my Irish roots and appreciate those who paved a way for me and my family here in America.

My grandmother and grandfather were born in Ireland, each a child in a large family. Grandpa Fin was born in Cork, one of eight children; Grandma Bridget in Mayo, one of fifteen. Their parents were strict Catholics, farmers, and very poor. With little opportunity for employment at that time in Ireland, my grandmother left for America at the age of 21. My grandfather left at just 17. I imagine them so young, saying goodbye to their families, not knowing the next time they’d meet again would be almost ten years later. I picture them anxiously boarding planes to come to a place they’d never physically been to before, realizing an entire ocean would be between their old and new homes. I imagine they probably experienced emotions of hope, loss, excitement, and fear that I’ll never really understand.

My grandfather arrived in Boston and spent a year at a relative’s farm in upstate New York working off his travel debts. He joined the Army and eventually earned his US citizenship. My grandmother came to New York to work as a housekeeper, a job a family member had helped secure for her. They met at the Irish-American Club, got married, and quickly started a family of their own. My mom was born in 1964, the first of their seven children. Grandma used to joke that she should’ve stayed home the night they met. 

Grandma was a homemaker; Grandpa remained in the Army Reserves, worked as a mechanic, and eventually owned his own diesel repair business. They seemed content that they had fulfilled the American dream together: marriage, employment, homeownership, financial self-sufficiency. I have such fond memories of  their home, especially Grandma’s simple meat and potato dinners around her gigantic dining room table. She seemed to always have a teapot on the stove ready to make a cup for anyone who happened to stop by. Grandpa would chase us kids around when he got home from work, trying to catch us and tickle us. I used to try to copy their funny accents.

My grandparents both died at young ages, so they didn’t get the opportunity to know what all parents want assurance of: that their children will be happy and their lives secure. I sometimes think about what they’d say if they could see their children and grandchildren today. I know they would take pride in their educational achievements and financial stability, but mostly in their strong character and the success of their relationships. They might be stunned to know that all of their grandchildren have had the opportunity to attend college easily within their grasp, something that certainly was not available to them. They would have three great grandchildren today who they would’ve loved to watch grow.

As an adult, I’ve been able to visit the farm my grandfather grew up on, still owned and worked by his brother today. Not many people get an opportunity like that, and they are moments I truly cherish in my heart. What a feeling to step into the home he left for the promise of a better life. I think he and Grandma would judge their sacrifices worthwhile for the opportunities they helped provide for the generations after them. I feel so blessed to have benefitted from their decisions and hard work without actually having earned it myself, and I think of how different things could have been for me had they chosen different paths. I feel so inspired to continue their legacy, working to provide better for my children and their children. America is filled with immigrants and their descendants, and I hope we each take time to remember and appreciate their journeys. I so appreciate my Irish immigrant grandparents, especially today.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

196320 years later at my Mom & Dad's wedding

First Year Mom

Hubby & Baby in the hospital <3 1 Year Later

It blows my mind how the entrance of just one new person in the world can completely transform someone, but that’s exactly what’s happened this year to me. The day I met my child life as I knew it changed forever, just as I expected it to. What I didn’t expect was that his birth would change more than just my life, it would completely change me.

This year has brought me both personal challenges and triumphs, each working to stretch my heart and mould my understanding. How great is our God that he reveals His knowledge to us gradually through life experiences and contexts our small minds can understand. I’ve been able to understand God’s word and the themes of His love, sacrifice, and mercy for us in a new or deeper way than before. He’s allowed me to see with a little more clarity what love He has for us to allow His Son to leave glory, entering into our sinful world to walk among us, gifting us with his presence. What sacrifice to take away the suffering and punishment due to me, instead allowing His Son to the bear torture and death as the necessary payment. What mercy to forgive the disrespect of that precious gift when I disobey with spite in my heart, then return meekly again to ask forgiveness.

Every person in this world serves to bring God’s plans to completion. When we go about our daily lives, we are fulfilling what God planned before the earth was even created. Joshua, please know that in your very first moments on earth and through your first year of life, just merely by existing, you have helped to fulfill God’s work in me. I have already become a very different person, capable of more understanding, love, selflessness, endurance, patience, and commitment, because of the relationship I have with you. Know that you have already taught me and helped me in ways I will never completely be able to express in words. I praise God for giving you to me for so many reasons, but especially for the blessing parenthood is in this way.

I am still certainly nowhere near to the person God expects me to be. In fact, when I reflect on the last year and on my past in general, I consider to have handled many situations as a complete failure. I won’t list them here (mainly to save myself from reliving the embarrassment), but there is definitely an overarching theme to my shortfalls as a mom and as a human. Here it is, plain and simple: I don’t trust God enough. It’s so easy for me to say I have faith, but where is that faith, backed with a pure desire for God’s will, when things are difficult, confusing, frustrating, or just don’t go the way I want them to? I fall short over and over again. As I continue on parenting, fully expecting life to get more complicated and demanding, I am challenging myself to change this.

So here’s another blogger talking about their new year’s resolution, just when you thought you wouldn’t have to hear it again until next year. I’ll make this my 11/12ths of a new year’s resolution, but mainly a goal to pursue the rest of my life: That my desire would be to find only God’s will, thankfully moving toward sanctification, wholly trusting that He will continue to work all things for His glory.

Picture Perfect

Since even before my son was born, people began advising me, “Enjoy every minute, because it goes by too fast!” I would smile politely when I heard this, responding that I would certainly try my best. The better part of a year has gone by since his birth, and it’s starting to hit home that this advice is just too true. To help ease the heartache of this realization, I’m trying to take more photos and videos of him lately. This is a sort of desperate attempt to record exactly how his voice sounds when he laughs or the silly face he makes when he smiles his toothless (yes, toothless at 10 months) little grin. I love how he plays so sweetly, babbling to himself while pushing the buttons on his toy truck or climbing to empty the basket filled with blocks. If I can record all of this, then even though time is moving far too quickly, I won’t be able to forget it.

Today I grabbed my camera and spent about a half hour trying to pose him while he played so I might capture some of those sweet, candid moments that I love so much. I had in my imagination the idea that I could freeze in time the precise second when, sunlight shining on his face from a nearby window, he gingerly holds a toy, glances up at me across the room and flashes me a quick, tender smile. Unfortunately, my 10 month old son is 10 months old. This means that he crawls when I’d like for him to sit, completely refuses to look up even when I call his name and dance around foolishly, gets fixated on putting something in his mouth once he sees it (example: the camera’s lens cap), and greatly enjoys the sounds of two hard plastic toys hitting each other in his hands.

I was a little disappointed when I didn’t get the photo I had envisioned, although I did get a few cute ones. It wasn’t until later, looking through the many pictures I initially thought were throw-aways, that I realized I had captured exactly who he is at this very point in time. He is a distractible, silly, sometimes fussy, energetic, beautiful little boy. No posed picture would ever really capture that.

You might think I’m a little nutty for posting these funny photos of my child, but the things he does sometimes, however silly, just melt my heart. I’m sure that all of us moms feel the same way about our kids. Parents get to have this fascinating view into our child’s spirit, and create our own special memories of them that no other person will ever think are quite as amazing as we do. No one will think my son’s giggle is as absolutely incredible as I do. I doubt I’ll ever be able to catch him on camera to get the photo I first wanted, so the next time he gives me a beautiful look in a fleeting moment, I’ll just store it in my heart and pray that I never forget exactly what it looks like. And in the meantime, I have these sweet, hilarious photos to make me smile.

 

counting my blessings

As a parent, I try to be intentional about the life I’m modeling for my son. So much of who we are is due in large part to our family, so naturally I want to be a good example. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wonder, how do we teach gratefulness to our children?

This year, I have lots to be thankful for. I’m a mom to the sweetest little boy! I have a husband who loves me and who works hard to care for our family. Most importantly, though, I have a living hope through a graceful Savior. With so many blessings, why then, do I spend so much of my time grumbling? It seems I can find pretty much anything to complain about – my aching back, interrupted sleep, our noisy neighbors, the cost to repair my car, lousy service at a restaurant, or the long line at the bank (can you tell it’s easy to make this list?). But what will my attitude teach my son?

Maybe reserving just one day per year to count our blessings is actually teaching kids that this isn’t so important a virtue the other 364 days. Sure, we say thanks to each other for a birthday gift or for holding open a door, but good manners aren’t a substitution for actual appreciation. Many families, including my own, take a moment during Thanksgiving dinner for each member to mention one thing he is thankful for. Don’t get me wrong – any time you take a moment to be appreciative and share that thanks with others, it’s a good thing. For many coming through hardships and struggles, finding just one thing to be thankful for is difficult enough of an exercise. For those of us who are blessed in many ways, it’s a nice tradition, but we do this literally hours before storming big box stores to fill our shopping carts with televisions and toys. Could this be sending mixed messages to our kids? Or worse, could it be negating the message of thankfulness that this holiday is all about?

True gratitude isn’t easy to teach children. Parents try to shield them from financial worries and emotional stress, but without exposure to the reality of loss, we just don’t know how much we have. Maybe to help the little ones “get it” in a kid-friendly manner, we could start new traditions to add to our holiday celebrations and year round routine. Let them see you volunteer your time throughout the year, and include them in it. Visit a neighbor and rake the leaves on their lawn. This holiday season, take the kids to a food bank, and stock shelves with them for a few hours. Invite someone over to share in your Thanksgiving dinner who would otherwise spend it alone. Let your child choose a toy to donate and explain its significance when you deliver it to the toy drive. Don’t let the routine and business of life get in the way of joyfully serving all year.

What my son will learn about appreciation starts with me: my attitude and my actions both need a makeover. It is my responsibility to model gratitude not only on Thanksgiving, but each day. Keep perspective. Choose to see the bigger picture, remaining grateful for what is most important in life. Today, right now, I have to appreciate what I have, and I want my child to know what that really means.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

I’m a Cook at Home Mom

Welcome to my first ever blog post! You’ll soon get to hear about all my adventures in cooking, parenting, and life in general. Get excited, people.

Food is in so many ways connected to the heart of a family. It’s tied to special memories, like fancy holiday meals that mom spent days planning and preparing for. Much more often, at least for me, it’s connected to simple ones like sitting around the kitchen table with loved ones drinking coffee and eating bagels. Whenever I feel sick, chicken soup won’t make me feel better. Only Grandma’s chicken soup can do the trick. It’s more than just soup; it’s comfort and care and love, all of it there in a bowl somehow mixed in with the carrots and celery. That’s what I love most about food.

Here’s the thing – I’m not that great of a cook, but I’m pretty good. I try my best to always choose the healthier option, but some things just can’t be sacrificed (yes, I can believe it’s not butter!). I’m hoping to share with you both the good and not-so-great experiences in my kitchen. It gets messy, for sure, and it takes a lot of practice, but I really love those times, too few and far between, when a delicious meal is set on the table, and I get to enjoy it while laughing and spending time with family and friends. I’d like to share what does and doesn’t work, so that you can make some of these memories with your families!

My first project will be tackling some of of my favorite family recipes. Wish me luck!