A Simple Resolution

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I realize we’ve not yet addressed our self directed label of a minimalist family.

As the new year begins, I thought it was as good a time as any to set down a bit of back story as to how we came to be part of the minimalist crew.


A simplified life was my 2015 resolution.

As of 2016 our life is indeed much simpler.

A simplified life is again my 2016 resolution. And likely again in 2017….Which doesn’t sound so simple, however it’s a constant process, a way of life, not a destination. And as the years roll on the simple thing is staying the course. It’s difficult to think of ever going back!

It’s been a year of hard work, and busy weekends filled with projects, where we felt every step forward was matched with two steps back, but this week, my husband and I felt the fog start to lift – life finally seemed easier.

The house remained virtually spotless throughout the week, we had easy meals prepared, made more mindful choices regarding our health and environmental footprint, and soaked up lots of quality time with our son. We even took down the Christmas decorations (a dreaded task each year) in record time.

In desperate need for new artwork for our kitchen (but refusing to purchase anything at this point) we also found time to sit down and paint for a half hour or so, coming out of it all with the project completed, and a few silly paintings and sketches just for fun.

Fun – remember that? We’re having much more of it these days. How did we do it all?

Minimalism. Shock, gasp.

Minimalism is not something new. It’s been tried and tested for centuries. Monks, Ancient Greeks, The Amish, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau to name just a few, are all members of the minimalist tribe – eschewing worldly possessions in exchange for freedom of mind, self knowledge and the time and luxury to focus on their meaningful work and vocations.

While we are hardly going to be packing as light as Gandhi, or styling our home in full Shaker style anytime soon (though it seems the height of vogue believe it or not!) this simple quote from Joshua Becker at “Becoming Minimalist” perfectly highlights the complicated and unhealthy relationship our society has developed regarding the correlation of possessions, happiness and success – and rings so strongly for us.

“Nobody says, ‘My goal in life is to own a lot of stuff,’ and yet most of us live life that way. We try to find jobs that pay a lot of money, and buy bigger houses and faster cars, and that’s not really what we most want out of life. We want to make a difference. We want significance. We want to be good fathers and husbands.”

It’s crazy how many of us fall prey to this sad cycle. Cuckoo Bananas.

Last year in 2015, a new baby, a new year, a disorganized (small!) house, my return to the 9-5, and an overall chaotic life had us scattered, unhappy and scratching our heads and feeling like we had gotten it all wrong. We had everything going for us, (#blessed even), but sometimes we didn’t feel that way, we felt burdened. There was so much to organize, look after and plan, and we just plain didn’t have the time for it, let alone the energy.

What came last in all this? Time with our family, time with our son. Not any ol’ time, but quality time with uncluttered and present minds.

We felt trapped, which was especially difficult for a family with relatives on either side of the Atlantic. Our life could dictate a move to America at any point, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to figure out how we would ever manage it in an easy and affordable way.

I started stumbling around the web for answers, and eventually wound up with lasting inspiration.

Marie Kondo, Zero Waste Home, Becoming Minimalist, Zen habits – these authors, books, and blogs were a god send to someone searching for some common sense in our consumer driven world.

Tiny houses were popping up all over the web, with inspiring testimonials from the residents who were using the precarious situation of an economy gone bad/a volatile housing market, and combining it with their modest salaries to still carve out homes and lives for themselves utilizing creativity, ingenuity and resources at hand.

It showed us you really can design the life you want. People were doing it, and coming out the other side happier than ever. Pressure does indeed create diamonds.

Suddenly we were riding the wave too and began to realize that money and “stuff” were no longer markers of success. Time and freedom were the new currency, the new indicator of real wealth.

So we purged our life and edited everything back to our most loved and basic possessions. As we unloaded closet after closet, sent off bags of clothes to various charities, and packed off useless items to be taken to the landfill, the sheer waste became staggering.

Our thoughts began to shift to our carbon footprint.

There is only so much trash the earth can take! And if this was the output for a small, young family – the thoughts of multiplying this by the entire global population was unfathomable and unsustainable.

Hello Great Pacific Garbage Patch for a start!

These are not new ideas, but to quote Oprah, we had our “Aha moment.”

Sure, turning a blind eye to these nagging feelings, could restore our peace of mind albeit temporarily, but it would be no help to our son, and his children some day when they face a dying planet, too far gone for change to make any real impact. Granted we can’t change the world ourselves, but our habits are the only thing we can change, so we’ll start with that.

To be human is to consume. We still do it, but we can be choosier about it. To choose quality over quantity. To exercise self control and slowly cultivate our wardrobe and our home – thinking long and hard and saving up for special pieces that are worth the time and energy to maintain. We can choose sustainability and those items that are made and disposed of in a responsible way.

We are far from perfect. This Christmas saw unending, wrappings, clothes, knickknacks, tchotchkes, toys and gifts enter our lives from generous family and friends (and each other. Oops!), and that’s a great thing! We are so fortunate.

It also poses a challenge to this uninhibited way of life.

The opportunity we are now presented with is that we are able to donate some items that we’ve outgrown, to make room for our family and friend’s generosity. We are also afforded the luxury to refresh our home with thoughtful gifts and enjoy the delight that comes with discovering that someone knew the perfect item that would add value to our lives, (better than we could envision)!

Next year we will continue to strive for a simpler Christmas, renewing the focus on family time and experiences. We plan to avoid the pressure that “we need to have enough to open or to give”- sending us in a scramble and robbing us of time to welcome the holiday with open arms and give more of ourselves, instead.

Playing on my mind lately has been an old Shaker tune, that sums up my wishes for 2016 and beyond. It’s wise and true and I can’t wait to see how these simple thoughts continue to transform our lives in big ways.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

 

Any Nice Plans for the Weekend?

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It’s finally here Milo’s first visit with Santa! We’re heading to my office tomorrow for our annual Children’s Christmas Party and I’m a little nervous about how this is going to go over. We gave it a miss last year, as he was only a year old and was suffering with a terrible cold at the time. I’m wondering if by giving it an extra year, we might bypass the angry screaming child with Santa picture? Maybe it’s just inevitable? I’ll report back on how it goes! After watching the Polar Express this week, he’s really starting to grasp the whole Santa/Christmas concept. He’s also taken to running around the house  while singing jingle bells with great enthusiasm. So cute.

With  hibernation mode in full swing. We are also thinking about food!

This weekend I’m hoping to do a bit of baking. These cookies were a big hit the last time we made them and are full of goodness! It’s great to have an easy foolproof recipe the whole family can enjoy!

Below are a few links that are making our tummies happy.

A new luxury grocery store just opened around the corner from our house. The most exciting part is that it is open until 10! Late night shopping without baba! Hooray! I’m hoping to round up a few specialty items for the holidays.

Have you watched any of the Story Hopper videos yet? Oh gosh, they are amazing. I watched them all in one sitting. This one has totally changed my view of the office lunch. I was getting a little sick of throwing random salads together, and was looking for something warm, sustaining and most importantly – fast! – to get me through the afternoon. Perfect.

Daryll has been raving about these cookies all week after tasting them at the CHQ Christmas Market. Might be a great buy for any Cookie Monsters you might have on your Christmas Gift List.

Also spotted at the CHQ was this cool cookbook. How luxurious – to have your favourite restaurant recipes to cook whenever you fancy them! A really nice testament to Dublin and its delicious food scene. Even better is that it is only€15 euro, with part of the proceeds going to Temple Street Hospital.

 

Milo Quotes this Week

Random request for food through hysterical crying when we strap him into his car seat (a fun new development) “mama sausies!! Mama chocolate!! He suddenly thinks the car is a 7-11!

“Oh no! Bird Farted! (pointing to bird poo on the kitchen window).

“Milo good boy” (Ah! Would melt your heart!).

 

Cheers!

Any Nice Plans For the Weekend?

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It is birthday palooza in the Whyte family during the Month of December! Our nieces birthday party is tomorrow at an indoor play centre which will be so fun for the kids. Jumping, climbing, sliding! And after – fingers crossed – sleeping! Someone has been stalling bedtime this week and we are wrecked!

It’s supposed to be stormy over the weekend, but I’m hoping we might be able to get in a quick family walk at our local park and do some scouting for pinecones. They are great to have around the house for natural Christmas decorations, to use in crafts, or as firelighters. I’m planning on using these instructions to preserve and debug!

Here are a few other links we’ve rounded up that we thought you might enjoy – and some of our favorite Milo quotes this week.

Recommended by Caitlin

Master of None, a new series on Netflix staring Aziz Ansari, is making us laugh out loud and miss New York.

Earlier in the week we talked about 5 tips to make winter more enjoyable. This article visits extreme locations that have virtually no sunlight for months! The sauna to snow ritual sounds amazing, though.

Speaking of the dark days of winter –  I’ve long suspected I suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I used to struggle through each New York winter, but after fearing Postpartum Depression following Milo’s birth in 2013, our local doctor gave me a light therapy lamp to try for a few weeks, and bingo – the haze started to lift. Then this Monday I suddenly went from “sleepy in the morning” tired to – “hit by a Mack Truck.” I literally could not get out of bed. Today the sun is out and I’m finding it much easier to get though the day! I’m prioritizing getting a sad lamp asap and this one looks simple, versatile and portable! Has anyone tried it? Do you suffer from SAD as well and have you tried light therapy? Also, apparently you can buy light therapy bulbs on their own for your regular side lamps, and they are very inexpensive.

Recommended by Daryll

There are a few Christmas Markets around Dublin coming up that I’m looking forward to exploring with the family.

The Malahide Magic Kingdom Christmas Market is now open after much debate. It looks very impressive and it’s nice to have a market that you don’t have to go all the way into the city for.

Unfortunately it looks like they aren’t doing the Market at St. Stephen’s green this year. We visited last year, and had a nice time, but perhaps it was too congested? We found it difficult to spend more than a few minutes at each stall before we started blocking the flow of traffic.

Here’s another link for further details on various Christmas Markets around the city.

Just for fun. Have you seen this video of the Family Guy cast, doing character voices live? Mind blown. (A bit crude towards the end so NSFW! It is Family Guy after all)

Milo Quotes

“Nemo, Nemo  – it’s me Milo!” – Trying to get his buddies attention while watching the film. They go way back.

“Milo no like” for everything now! He’s also taken to calling himself Lolo.

When I asked him the best part of his day – “Toby licked Nanny” – Toby is the neighbors dog. It’s the simple joys….

Advent Day 1 – Milo’s Birthday

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This weekend we had Milo’s 2nd birthday party for our immediate family, and he had a ball. He was so excited running around with all his cousins, ate his fill of his favourite treats – tortilla chips, potato crisps and hummus – and was amazed at all the balloons and baby pictures of him we had hung around the house to celebrate the occasion.

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When it came time to sing Happy Birthday I was shocked! Last year he barely batted an eye and seemed intrigued by all the attention. This year he moulded his little body into mine and hid warily, as we began to sing. It was actually very sweet to see the last bit of babyishness linger in my little boy, as he is usually fiercely independent and has no fear in social settings.

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Daryll was a star and whipped up this Deliciously Ella Strawberry tart in record time. Milo is suffering with eczema issues at the moment, flared by diet, so this tart was a godsend for a little boy who is often restricted with conventional sweets. He kept rubbing his tummy and exclaiming “Mmm yummy cake!” and “Birthday again? More cake?!” The ingredients are 100% wholesome, and you can feel good about treating nearly any child to this dessert – no matter the occasion! (Dairy Free and Gluten Free, but not Nut Free).

Yesterday was his actual Birthday – December 1st.

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It is such a special way to kick off the Advent countdown each year.

We took the day off work to celebrate, just the three of us, and give Milo some extra TLC. Since both Daryll and I work full-time, it’s really important to us to be there for Milo on special occasions, especially since we miss so much of his day-to-day life. It was nice to have a chance to switch off and be totally present tfull timeogether, with the luxury of rare mid-week family time.

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For the day’s activities we took his lead. He typically has gluten-free porridge for breakfast, but was delighted to choose a new GF cereal yesterday instead, and promptly devoured 2 bowls!  We played with his Elmo Play-Doh set, took a walk (he rode his tricycle) to the playground, and had a nice visit from Nanny and Grandad.

After supper we took and impromptu (and ill prepared!) trip to the movies to see the Good Dinosaur. A beautiful film for adults and pre-teens, but quite SCARY for kids! He eventually settled in after a few tense moments (I think I was more frightened for him) and we decided not to leave, but it was close! He actually was fine, and when we came out, said “Good movie! Silly Spot!” (Spot is one of the main characters.) Go figure!

This review about the film is still cracking me up.

Just before leaving for the cinema, Milo befriended one of our Christmas Decorations – a Wooden Nutcracker. Classic choice buddy!

Milo and Nutcracker

It was adorable to spy on him from the front seat of the car while the two of them were having a chat/argument during the drive to the movie.

Thanks Milo for kicking off the festive season with such fun!

We’ll be sharing more of our Advent Activities over the month of December here on the blog, but you can follow each day of our Advent journey over on Instagram and Twitter.

5 Tips to Enjoy (Irish) Winter

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Winter has arrived in Ireland. The climate here is very mild and relatively consistent year round, with 40 – 50 degrees Celsius the most common zone. We rarely get any lingering snow, but the rainy summers give no respite to thaw us out before we plunge straight back into short days and chilly nights.  There is now a distinct bite in the air and it’s time to hunker down and surround ourselves with all things warm and cosy.

 

The last few years –  before learning of Norwegian hygge – we naturally developed our own rituals of cosiness to help us cope. Here’s a few things that we are looking forward to this winter.

 

1. Lighting candles each night  

 

All the candles. Everything is better with the cosy glow of candles filling your home on a cold winter’s night. We find ourselves spending more time in the sitting room when we’ve made it pretty and inviting, and no longer dread the endless nights. We’ve also placed a candle in every window in the house for the holidays and I’m thinking of extending that through the winter! I can vividly remember falling asleep as a child during the Christmas season to the soft light emitted by the candles my mom always placed in our room. Remember those classic old fashioned ones with the pointy bulb and the cream coloured plastic base? Pure bliss.

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2. Making a fire

 

Like candles, there is something so heartening about a roaring fire after a long day. (Especially a peat/turf one). The wild and windy nights can chill you to the bones here, but the silver lining is that it makes sitting in front of a toasty fire all the more luxurious. Sometimes we cover the floor with pillows and blankets and camp out for the evening while watching Christmas movies, or catching up on the latest series on Netflix, other times, a few minutes staring into the hypnotic flames while warming our toes on the hearth melts away the stress of the day.

 

3. Drinking something warm

 

Camomile Tea, Hot Chocolate (healthy hot chocolate- addicted to this version!), and even the sneaky Hot Toddy (apparently a cure to the common cold!) have become part of my night time ritual, and give me something to look forward to in the evening, after Milo has gone to bed. They have the added benefit of warming my hands and my tummy simultaneously, while preparing me for a good nights sleep.

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4. Embracing the romantic landscape

 

We are fortunate to live in a beautiful place, summer and winter – though sometimes daunting to explore due to the constant threat of rain. This year we are embracing the weather and dressing for it instead of fighting it. We bought Milo wellies this year and his first all in one winter play suit and are ready to go! With the wild vistas of the Westeros, Braveheart, and Harry Potter at our doorstep, it’s easier to cope with the grey skies by escaping into our imagination while we hike, walk, or just enjoy the view.

 

We love Fáilte Ireland’s new campaign to promote Ireland’s Ancient East. Many of these amazing sites are only minutes from our house, and I can’t wait to share some of our adventures exploring the rich history of this area.

Caitlin abandoned cottage Ireland

 

 

5. A closet full of knitwear 

 

Outlander – a fantastic new series on Starz, had us fixated for a month straight while we binge watched episode after episode and immersed ourselves in all things Highland! An unexpected star of the series is the costume design and more specifically the knitwear which has its own following outright! (Note, can be VERY Adult from time to time, so choose viewing companions wisely!)

 

Luckily for us the traditional Irish Aran sweater is making a big comeback in fashion as well – although maybe it never went out of fashion to begin with. Knitwear has never been so hot! (literally)! Chunky cowl neck scarves, and stylish shapeless sweaters are slowly overtaking our wardrobe, and thankfully can transition to work attire as well, making getting up and out in the morning all the easier. The thought of leaving the house in a silk blouse this time of year is enough to make me want to pull the duvet back over my head and call it a day! Added bonus – giant sweaters are the best at disguising all those roast dinners we’ll be tucking into shortly during the holidays.

 

Living on a tiny Island in the North Atlantic is hard! The weather is not forgiving and it can chill you to the bone day after day. Embracing these 5 things has helped us shift our perspective of winter from dreary to dreamy, allowing us to relish in the most romantic, wild and welcoming country that is likely to be found.

 

What is your favourite thing about Winter? I know there are even more extreme countries, weather wise, out there. I’d be delighted to hear your wisdom on welcoming the season.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thoreau Thanksgiving quote

“It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! …. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How are you celebrating today? What’s on the menu? As an expat, I try to keep up with the activities of the day as much as possible and It’s lovely to check in with family and friends throughout the day to see what everyone is up to. Last year we even played Scattergories with everyone over facetime!

My Aunt and Uncle have hosted Thanksgiving every year in their home, since I was around 2 years old. We missed a few years when we moved to New Orleans, but when I was living in New York after college, I was delighted to be invited to re-join the traditional celebration at their house.

The general itinerary including: Sugar Cookie Baking, 2 Turkeys (covered with bacon!), Sink Stuffing, Irish Brack in the morning with Chicory Coffee (in pumpkin mugs),  Watching the Macy’s Day Parade in PJ’s over breakfast, A specially set table with seasonal place cards,  Grandma’s Pecan Pie, an early meal followed by a family trip to the movies and Thanksgiving sandwiches for dinner!

Although we can no longer be there on the day, we are so thankful for the memories, love and laughter of Thanksgivings past.  These thoughts bring the spirit of the holiday into focus year after year, regardless of where in the world we may roam, and remind us how wonderful the people we are privileged to call family are.

Long after the last piece of turkey is gobbled up (or in our case turkey and stuffing sandwich on lunch break), we will strive to keep that warm glow alive in our hearts year round, especially as we lead into the Christmas season.

We give thanks this year for these wonderful memories, and even more so, for the opportunity each day  to make new memories with those we love. This gift is ours to seize year round, and it is a gift that will truly live on for generations to come, once we do.

Dad, Myself and “I”

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Our son turns two this weekend, and when I reflect on everything that has happened over the last two years, I’m amazed at what little advice is out there for new dads to be. So for any of you expecting a little bundle of joy this winter, this is one for you.

Happy Birthday Milo, you are so loved.


I’ve been many things in my life so far, including: Performer, Restaurant Manager and Sales professional.

The most rewarding role I have had however, is that of being a Father.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea that I would be married with a family by 28 was not what I thought my story was going to be, but I am so glad now that it is.

Although almost three years ago, like so many other men who learn of their impending bound in to fatherhood, my thinking was more like the following….:

  1. Oh my god, I can’t be a Dad I’m still a kid!
  2. How am I supposed to be a role model?
  3. What if I break the baby?
  4. How do I turn my son into a man?
  5. How do I protect my little girl forever? etc.

Of course then comes the “I can’t wait to bring him/her….” An exciting time when the news of your new arrival has settled in and the true feelings for your pending offspring grow.

You’re thinkin’ like a father.

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The thing is, it’s time for the I , which featured so heavily in the list above, to be removed. It’s not about you anymore, but your new child that will forever change your life.

So, what now?

Your partner, if female, (at least in my case) might tend to start researching every baby book under the sun in an effort to become a super-human, Mothering, all-nurturing being that will know how to handle every situation instantly. From: teething to nappy changing, feeding to bed time, grazed knee to….you get the picture.

Moreover, that’s what you think she’s doing. In actuality, she’s just as scared as you. So take the time to ensure that you’re both communicating and on the same page. If there’s communication, there’s a plan and a support system. Together, you can create the world you want for your baby.

Try not to shy away from this or procrastinate. Guys, I know (if you’re anything like me) you’ll put things off thinking “ah, there’s plenty of time for that” in this typical laid-back nature. Having gone through this stage for several weeks myself I found that this, more than anything else, was a key irritant to my partner. Even if you are not ready to discuss certain things- they may be ready, and therefore you should be open to discussion.

My mistake was thinking that I needed to have all the answers to the questions that were arising (while becoming overwhelmed at the idea of not actually knowing what to do) instead of just being part of the process. It’s a process of designing your family dynamic and defining what that means. To know each others views on parenthood and ideal lifestyles is half the battle. After that, everything will start to fall into place.

Here’s the secret, there is no wrong way to welcome this tiny being into your fold.  There are a million ways to be the parents/guardians you wish to be. There will be those that tell you, “You should….”, “Don’t do….” or “don’t do’s” Irish passive-aggressive cousin, “You wouldn’t do…x” . And each will be equally maddening.

These people, although thinking they’re being helpful, may in-fact impact negatively on your own plans. You may find yourself doubting your beliefs due to others’ experiences. Take these people with a grain of salt and remain respectful with quiet patience. As, at the end of the day, they’re just trying to help in their own way, and you may find yourself on the other end someday, gleefully distributing advice to clueless new parents, who are annoyed at you!

Personally, I got more from those who remained impartial and open with their views or opinions. These people can be recognised by statement’s such as: “You know, what we found helpful was…”  etc.

When the time comes, you will do great no matter the things you buy, books you read or advice you listen to. Just trust in each other and your instincts, work as team-mates, and it will all fall into place. The rest you will learn as you go.

I continue to learn. From my spouse, my family, my friends, and my favourite – my son.

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Don’t forget to keep that last little person in your mind as a teacher. They alone will teach you the most amazing things you will ever learn without trying, and you’ll love them all the more for it.

From the first time their whole hand fits around your thumb; to potty training onwards, be open to learning. This will keep you out of your head, worrying about what am I supposed to.

Take their lead, enjoy being with them, and you’ll know what to do. Remember: many before you and plenty after you will be in the same position and the world’s still spinning.

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Just keep doing what you’re doing Dads. Give yourself a break from being the hunter-gatherer from time to time and remember every day that family comes first. If you can do this, your life will start to change for the better.

You’re doing great.

Good job Dad(s)!

 

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list.

 

Our Engagement Story – Her side

Engagement ring
“A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.”
– Mark Twain, Mark Twain’s Notebook

I was cold, annoyed, and in the middle of central park waiting impatiently for my husband to tie his shoe when I heard him ask “can you help me?” I turned around a bit sharply, about to say something sarcastic or curt, something to convey that I was cold tired and slightly disappointed at the way the night was playing out. Thankfully I didn’t get the chance to. The words froze there on the tip of my tongue as I stopped, turned, and saw the box and the look in his eyes. “By marrying me,” he finished. From that point on, I have no idea what else he said. True to cliché, the world stopped, and when it started again, everything moved as in slow motion, as if in a dream. The only sound I remember from that moment is silence, as the snow fell quietly around us, alone on the Gapstow bridge.

I said yes of course! And the usual whirlwind of hugging and laughing and family phone calls commenced as we danced down the streets of Manhattan, bursting with the news, wanting to tell everyone, and no one at the same time. We were married on that bridge less than 4 months later, a prequel to a big Catholic ceremony the following year, in Ireland, to have our marriage blessed.

Looking back moments after our engagement, I could have kicked myself for nearly ruining one of the most exciting moments of my life with my surly attitude. Why was I so grumpy on a seemly perfect evening that progressed from Ice Skating in Central Park, to this Romantic Engagement? It all boiled down to allowing my expectations to get the better of me – a terrible trap that is easy to fall into for men and women alike, during the rocky phase I like to call “pre-engagement.”

Not all relationships have this stage but ours did. It was the month preceding our official engagement, following a serious discussion about our priorities, life goals and ultimate future of our relationship. Daryll could propose at any moment, and my brain went into overdrive, imagining and trying to predict the way in which it would happen.

As Valentine’s Day came and went to no event, I noticed my mood shift from hopeful to slightly annoyed. Finally he asked me if I had plans one evening in February and that he had a surprise evening planned! I was able to deduce from a few conversations we had recently that he was likely taking me Ice Skating and onto Dinner (which I thought was just the two of us).

This was it – I was sure. I could see it all play out on the ice rink followed by a wonderful evening, just the two of us. As we skated, I waited with bated breath. We had fun, but I was jumpy wondering what he was thinking the entire time.

No proposal.

As we untied our ice skates and prepared to leave, he confided that he thought we might change our dinner plans and meet up with a few friends instead!? What?! The whole evening went right out the window in my mind and my mood slumped. Like many men before him he was of course trying to throw me off the scent, and like many women before me, I fell right into the trap and let my expectations get the better of me.

We had to leave the park by a different route, since the restaurant for dinner had changed (all part of his plan) brining us to stop for a moment at the Gapstow bridge, while he tied his shoe. This bridge – “my bridge”- was the one I took pictures of from Central Park South every season because it look so beautiful. The bridge that I told him an acquaintance got engaged on, which I thought was the most romantic proposal ever. The bridge that would then be ours because he listened to my stories and knew it was important to me – because he cared, he loved.

For a moment I let my expectations get the better of me and I learned what a dangerous mistake that was to make (a mistake that I’m sure I will keep making and reminding myself of for the rest of my life!)

After our engagement we stood on the bridge hand in hand and I saw the snow gently fall all around us, tempering the lights of the city so they glowed softly in the night. Beauty I nearly missed by not being present, but not appreciating reality and instead investing in a picture in my mind. In that moment I remembered the significance of the location he chose, the wonderful, thoughtful, kind person I chose, and the significance of what we were choosing, together.

We crossed over and haven’t looked back.

 

 

A Happy Halloween!

Milo and Mom Halloween

This year was Milo’s first proper Trick-or-Treat Experience. Last year he went as baby Batman and went from door to door with a big group of us. He was mostly up in our arms as he was just learning to walk. We had a ball but he probably thought Halloween was just a fun walk in the dark (which really, it is!).

You could tell this year was different though. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, we spent some time talking about, and trying on his costume (Donald Duck, so cute). And he had me plagued for 2 weeks wanting to wear it around the house.

It was definitely an eye-opening night for the little guy. He helped me welcome the first group of Trick-or-Treaters while we were still getting ready, and his little face went slack! He was just in awe/bewilderment of the strangely dressed kids in front of him. Of course true to form, a few minutes later when I approached him with his Donald Duck costume and announced with great enthusiasm that it was time to get ready, he looked at me and simply said “no? no.” Drat.

We persuaded him in the end with a mix of our great excitement for the event, and a healthy dose of good ol’ toddler distraction. luckily he warmed up to it straight away and was in a great mood. Big tip – a flashlight is the best incentive for little kids. He was delighted to get to use our big emergency flashlight, that is usually off-limits. Ah kids, you can never predict what will thrill them sometimes!

Milo on Tricycle in costume

This was the first year we had stayed in our village for Halloween as well. They were premiering  a new festival at the castle on the main street with fireworks and family activities, so we really wanted to check it out and show our support.  I was blown away by how generous and enthusiastic our neighbours were on the night. We had never met most of them, so it was nice to finally be able to introduce ourselves. Again Milo just stared when the doors were opened and he was warmly welcomed. We found the most comfortable thing for him to do was wave to show his thank, so that’s what we did.

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We are lucky that we can walk from our house to main street in only a few minutes, so we took his trike and made our way to the festivities a few houses later and bags bursting with goodies!

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The fireworks were set to ignite over Swords Castle. They were some of the best (and loudest!) fireworks we’ve ever seen. Poor Milo was not a happy camper, so we quickly began the walk home and caught the rest, thankfully, out of earshot.  Of course now he can talk of nothing else but fireworks, and “whoooosh,” the sound they make (complete with hand motions).

Jack-o-lantern

We hope everyone had a very happy and safe Halloween and would love to know what your favourite  Halloween costumes were this year!

 

Becoming a family

wedding altar

Each family story is unique. Some stories are very exotic and unexpected, reading as a great novel come to life; while others are more subtle and elegant as every day moments slowly transform into a meaningful testimonials of fidelity, love and endurance.

Our story is no different. When we tell the tale time and again of how we came to be in Ireland, and going back further to how we met, it strikes as grand and exciting to both Americans and Irish audiences alike. These days looking back at the circumstances of how we met and fell head over heels, now ring a bit strange – like reflecting on a story we have heard, rather than shared. Who were those crazy kids?! And who are these tired, settled, but content parents we have now become!? As hard as it is to reconcile the two versions of ourselves from time to time, it is in fact our story. A story of a family founded on youthful adventure, a little bit of luck,  and incredible determination.


Fools Rush In

dublin st.patricks day parade

It’s hard to tell, but that silver bird is my husband, although I had no idea at the time. This photo was taken (by me) on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. We met two months later in May 2008 in Nantucket, Massachusetts and discovered our “ships in the night” moment by chance, when I shared photos of my recent trip to Dublin with Daryll, shortly after meeting on the island, and were shocked by the coincidence. What are the odds?!  (I also unknowingly took several photos of the church we were eventually married in! Crazy!)

brant point lighthouse nantucket

Daryll found himself in Nantucket the summer of 2008 on a student visa called a J1. It’s very common for young adults in Europe to take what is known as a gap year after University, to travel and discover life on their own (as it is not popular to live on campus at college like we commonly do in America) and Nantucket was a popular choice. He applied on a whim to work at the box office of a local theatre company, where I was spending my second summer working as an actor and manager the box office (yes I was his boss, yes he vehemently denies this fact).

subway-photo

My first impression of Daryll was that he was all smile, with wild hair and a bohemian vibe. He virtually bounced when he walked, glowed with positivity, and I could listen to his soft lilting accent all day. I was a moth to a flame and we clicked instantly. The summer was spent enjoying great friends, inspiring theatre, beautiful beaches and delicious . Just as we were really getting to know each other, he received a call from home. A lucky break, as he was offered a role in an upcoming production at the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Lucky for him, but unlucky for us as it meant he would immediately need to leave for home only a month after arriving. We were caught off guard by how deeply sad we were to go our separate ways so soon, but vowed to keep in touch as much as possible.

After a long year apart, maintaining our relationship over Skype and with quite a few air miles logged between us, we finally decided to give “us” a real shot. The summer of 2009 Daryll moved with 2 huge suitcases, to New York City where I had been living for several years. We. had. a. ball. It was the perfect time in our lives to live in such an exciting city and at times we probably worked and played too hard.

gapstow fallAs his extended visa drew to a close, we had a decision to make….what now?! We had done long distance, lived together in New York for a year, was I to move to Ireland? To do what, and would that even be possible on the American visa system? What did we want at this stage in our lives and did we both share the same vision? It was a complicated and easy situation all in one. We were partners, and that wasn’t going to change. It wasn’t a matter of if we would get married, but when and where, and what better place to start our married lives than New York. Yes we decided, not only did we have the same outlook on life, views about family and all the rest, but life as we knew it had ended. To be separated again was not an option, so we would go forward together. Once the decision was made, the rest of the pieces quickly fell into place, and we were well on the way to an official engagement. Both versions of our engagement story to come. (It’s amazing how different these types of stories are depending if you ask the engager or engagee!)