Hallmark?

In this day of the internet, social media, texting and even emailing, how is Hallmark even keeping afloat? Due to the expense of cards (I have been hard pressed to find a card under $4-5) and time, I have taken to sending most birthday wishes and thoughts by way of text. Adding emojis and confetti make it fun and immediate.  When my boyz were first born I remember my mother-in-law saying ‘Oh Suzanne – you have a year off – no one will expect you to send a card for anything when you have 3 babies to take care of’.  Well that year I was great at sending cards – the boyz were good sleepers so during their naps I could take care of any business like that.  But after that year, I was back to work, naps were shorter, the boyz were on the move….you get the picture. Since then I have had a mental block about getting cards out – I have a belief that I will always be late so naturally …I am always late! It feels like each step of the process is significant…there is :

1-buying the card (which I have to remember when I drive south because there is a limited selection in my town)….

2-writing the card out and addressing it (and potentially having to search for updated address)….

3-stamping the card and getting it to the post office (a mile away but somehow never convenient).

This is how a simple task becomes complicated in my little mind!

So cards have been reserved for some birthdays, sympathy and graduations/special occasions if we attend an event.  But I recently started buying some cards since Seamus started Plebe summer and I thought it would be a way to cheer him up (I can only say so much in letters without boring him to pieces!).  I have sporadically sent some and then to Brendan as well.  I have some for Casey that I will send as a pick me up when there is a stretch where we do not see him.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I called my friend Laura last week when I was feeling particularly sad about the boyz being away.  I received this in the mail the other day and it was such a light for me….

 

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There is something about a physical card, a personal note which is handwritten, not typed, and mail that is a fun surprise (not bills or junk!) that just brightens the day.  So while I am still going to be savvy with my card purchases, I will be aware of the impact they can have on what might be an otherwise down day for someone I love. As frivolous as Hallmark can be…it does feed the love 🙂

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Bear in Dublin

I was finally able to see Brendan in Dublin over the weekend. My sister-in-law (and Brendan’s godmother), Eileen, graciously agreed to accompany me so we could see how he is doing and what life is like so far for this international college student.

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On our way!

When Brendan came over initially, Steve went with him and saying goodbye at the airport was incredibly heart wrenching for me.  Just knowing how far away he was going, how many challenges he had ahead, and that I would not really know his day to day in any way close to what I have known for the past 18+ years, was hard to conceive of and scary.

Thanks to modern technology, we have had regular contact with Bear since he arrived in Ireland in the beginning of August.  He was there early to get accustomed to things, start rugby practice and settle in a bit before school started.  We are grateful he was able to do that as he has met some wonderful people, spent time with his dad (only a few days) and Granddad (stayed on an extra week) and met some friends of friends, the Gaffneys who have basically adopted him as their own. He also was able to visit our very close friends, the Ring’s, who are there for the year in Killarney.  Of course even with arriving early, some things still are not settled (immigration, school financial details…). The Irish definitely are on a different schedule than we are!

We arrived earlier than expected – 11pm as opposed to 11:45pm.  We caught a taxi to our Air B&B (the owner called that morning saying our room was no longer available and he just had a room with a double bed – we reluctantly took that and he reduced the price for us) and upon arriving entered a room that was pretty small.  The sink in the bathroom looked like the little dentist’s sink that you spit into when they are cleaning your teeth, the shower had NO hot water (eek!) and there was no toilet paper!. I mean really – none? at midnight? Thankfully Eileen had tissues to get us by, the room was clean and warm and the bed felt fine for the 2 of us to share.

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Our first cafe –  there are SO many in Dublin but there are also lots of people to support them all

We met Brendan at lunchtime on Thursday – I cannot express how great it felt to see him. He is my most affectionate boy and big hugs were an absolute! So I will tell the tale of the visit through photos and then recap my emotional journey while there.

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Oh so happy to see my second born 🙂

Exploring Trinity’s campus

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The library is incredible and Harry Potter library was based off of this one…The Book of Kells was not available to view that day but still amazing to see everything this inspiring library full of history

 

St Stephen’s Green is beautiful and just down the road from Trinity…lunch at a local Pub

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With a little time before his next class, we squeezed in Bear’s first Irish haircut. Not quite like the boyz India cuts (amazing and only 50 cents each!) but still good!

Aunt Eileen (GeeGee to her littles) found the Disney store – uh oh!..Bear enjoys some dessert to fuel up before a long wet walk home Thursday night

Friday was the best day by far….a little windy and very short sprinkles and then just cloudy and chilly but we were warm enough to be outside for extended time in our coats. Brendan seemed happy..we had more time together than we had planned (his class was out early and he unfortunately got a concussion last weekend so could not practice Friday night – not good but a bonus for us with time together and he is really fine they are just being extra cautious.) He was relaxed, enjoyed all of the things we did, ate well and said how much he loves doing things like walking on Grafton St, watching street performers, exploring… He much prefers that speed to the party/club scene.

We started the day meeting Brendan’s rugby coach for coffee at ‘The Honey Truffle’ (how cute is that name?!)

Coach Smeeth is truly amazing – so generous with his time, kind, encouraging. It is such a comfort knowing he is there looking after Brendan. Kay is his office manager and is equally friendly and helpful. He treated us to coffee and bought Bear a sausage breakfast sandwich which he insists they need to start making in the States. (like a croissant with sausage in it). We loved the “Honey Truffle’ so much we returned there meeting Brendan for lunch – unbelievable salads with grains, sweet potatoes, beans…right up my alley!

We did lots of walking while Brendan was in class and then met up with him after class for the rest of the afternoon/evening…

Some sights in Dublin

Grafton St is one of those streets with no cars, lots of shops/eateries and street performers

Went to exhibition on Irish Famine – powerful. And this article speaks of missing people who had family in Troy, NY looking for them. Made it even more real

 

Walked through St Stephen’s Green again

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Eileen’s maiden name is Murphy so when we saw this across from our dinner restaurant (Cornicopia – delicious!), we knew it was a must! What different flavors they had! The mix of chocolate and raspberry sorbet on a waffle cone was phenomenal! Dingle Sea Salt is their most popular

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Street performers were amazing

We rounded out the night with a obligatory visit to O’Neill’s Pub for a Guinness. Neither Eileen nor I drink beer so a sip was all we needed and Bear finished it for us (he is legal there!)

My favorite was that they sold hot drinks everywhere – including the Pub!

Saturday was a little more difficult.  Brendan was tired and congested and I am now recognizing the ‘Sunday feeling’ like Seamus had on our 2 visits to him. The energy and excitement of the visit is coming to an end.  Also we went shopping for things he needed for his room and for food- but it was busy and chaotic which is stressful for all of us but particularly Bear who is not a fan of big crowds.  We were successful  in our purchases though and went back to his suite to clean, cook and eat.

We took a tour of Aviva Stadium where the Irish National Rugby and Soccer teams play..Brendan loves it!

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A display of some American teams that have played there….Notre Dame and you guessed it…Navy and Boston College!

Some sights as we walked through Dublin

 

The toy store…and …do you notice a theme here with alcohol????

We ended the day going back to Brendan’s suite to put all of his things away, clean a bit and cook up some food for him….But first – some kitchen cleaning was in order!

Six  18 yr old college guys makes for a messy kitchen space…before and after

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Aunt Eileen relaxes after cleaning…this is in the main room of his suite where the kitchen and dining are – very pretty with nice views.

Bedroom and bathroom cleaner and more organized 🙂

Saying goodbye was painful and sad. The only way I was able to is because I knew I would see him in another couple of weeks (Steve and I planned a trip for what we hope is rugby parents weekend which we had not known about when I planned this current trip).  I cannot even imagine how I will say goodbye after that one since it will be Christmas before I see him again.  Despite the fact that he is 18 and full grown, I think our kids always feel like our children – we can see them as they were as little guys so easily and adjusting to not seeing them every day, not hugging them, not knowing what they are experiencing – is a tremendous adjustment.

I worry about all that he has taken on. He absolutely has what it takes to make this work though and I know that.  Eileen kept reminding me  ‘he is doing great….I cannot believe how well he can navigate that city after only 1 month…his coach is looking out for him and would let you know if anything seriously wrong’.  I am happy for Brendan to be having this international experience that is providing him with ample opportunities to grow emotionally, academically, athletically, and interpersonally.   I am choosing to focus on that and am absolutely feeding the love by doing so.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

 

Feeling The Empty

I guess it is called “Empty Nest’ for a reason.  We have felt blessed to be feeling quite full since the boyz left – enjoying some calmer evenings after work, early bedtimes and getting a few things done around the house that normally would not have happened, (ie cleaning out a drawer or two) while still being busy with visits to the boyz on the weekends. The boyz all seemed to be doing well so far and I just felt blessed more than empty.

But this weekend it finally hit…the feeling we had been anticipating…the empty. This is my only weekend home during the month of September….we were looking forward to being with friends Friday night and then having 2 days to clean out Steve’s shop, relax a bit and pack up for my trip to Dublin (leaving Wednesday :)). I was not prepared to wake up  Saturday morning with that dull ache in my heart, the heaviness in my chest that is sadness and the sense of clouds overhead when it was actually a sunny bright day.  I think the beautiful day made it harder in some ways – I missed the boyz being home….long slow breakfasts outside, mowing the lawns, playing croquet before dinner and barbequing with or without friends over.

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Breakfast and later lunch on the patio

 

Yard work in action 🙂

 

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Chillin at 13th Lake after a hard days work

Steve ended up going up to Long Lake to meet up with some friends for the evening. It hit me even harder then…I was in the house alone (something I usually treasure) and did not even have any pups to keep me company. WOW – this is strange…this is sad…this is lonely…this is empty.

I did the things that I usually enjoy …went for a walk and talked with my mom and my friend Laura who were validating and empathetic, texted some friends, ate dinner without having to feed anyone else. But there was not joy in it, there was not relief in only having to think about myself. I looked at old pictures and wrote to Seamus, and Casey.  I went through some things that I am bringing over to Ireland for Brendan. I read. I had some ice cream. I meditated and wrote in my journal.

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Meditation spot/puja table

So I got through, though I do not feel a whole lot better yet. It is part of the journey. Everyone asked ‘what are you guys going to do when the boyz leave?”.  My response was always the same ‘we have lots of things we want to do. We are looking forward to having some time together, but nothing can prepare us for the feeling that will come with the total shift of energy in our house’.  So that shift of energy is what I am feeling. No hungry mouths to feed, no big piles of laundry to do, no bickering to listen to, no ‘time to get up’, no ‘what homework do you guys have this weekend?’….and no laughter, stories, teen energy, hugs, and just family connection with the 3 boyz I love most in this world.

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I remind myself that they are where they need to be right now. We have had a blessed, full life with them at home. It was messy at times but it was our mess. And always it was filled with love….as is this next phase…filled with love but in a different way. That love travels through the miles to Annapolis, Dublin and Boston.  Love knows no distance, it is eternal and it is ever present.

Even in this distance we can feed the love to each one of them.

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne

USNA Visit

Well certainly lots has happened since my last post….graduation…I Day….Brendan going on rugby tours….going to Casey’s orientation weekend….Casey going to Montana for a wilderness trip…college preparations….Steve and Brendan going to Dublin to get Brendan somewhat settled….Plebe Parents Weekend ….Moving Casey into school…a short trip to Maine to see friends before they head to Ireland for the year….first BC football game….first Navy football game….so needless to say it has not been dull over here and we have barely been able to feel the ’empty nest’ yet.  I will post more of a recap as I want to have some time to recall the summer and all that flew by for us.

Most recently though was our trip to Annapolis to visit Seamus, see our first Navy football game and see our friends from Garrett County Maryland who we have only seen a few times since we moved away 16 years ago.

Steve and I arrived early to catch some of Seamus’s crew practice.  It was fun to see him in his day to day routine.

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Crew team stretching out after rowing and before running 🙂

Seamus brought us in to the boathouse to tour around and we went to the Mid Store so Bill could buy a new Navy hat to support the team through the game.  The forecast was calling for cloudy skies but no rain in the afternoon so we thought we were all good…Ha! We should know better than to trust a weather report!

 

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They decorate this Tecumseh statue before all USNA events

Seamus went back to his room to get ready for the March On (when the brigade marches onto the field prior to the game starting). We were in traffic a bit driving to our parking spot so our tailgate was brief but yummy (albeit with way too much food!)

 

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Sue and Steve getting lunch ready

The game was ….WET….it rained pretty much the whole time…and not little sprinkles – we are talking FULL-ON-RAIN!  I struggled a bit with my perfectionist mind – wishing it was a nice day where we could really enjoy the game and being outside (& later enjoy the pool at the B&B!)  It is a challenge for me sometimes to release the ‘if onlys’ and accept what is.  So I reminded myself we are there, seeing Seamus, visiting with our friends and that those things are blessings.

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I need a bigger hood (or smaller head/ponytail!)

We watched the first half which was great as Navy scored a touchdown in the last seconds before the half – making the score 9-7 Navy.  Bill and Sue had headed back to the car so we followed suit after watching the halftime performance of the drum and bugle corps. We went to the Air B and B where we quickly jumped in the hot tub to warm up. Steve went back to the game to pick up Seamus who was supposed to have liberty (be able to go off the yard) til midnight.  He watched the end of the game which was incredible – navy scored 2 touchdowns at the very end – with final score 22-21. The Commandant announced that since the class of 2022 cheered the team on to victory with 22 points, he was granting weekend liberty (meaning they could be off the yard until Sunday at 6pm! Whoo hoo!).  The plebes were so excited as they have only had hours of liberty since June 28 and even that was only  a few times so far.

Steve brought Seamus and his two friends, Hill and Justin to the B&B. They enjoyed a tremendous steak dinner, hot tub, sleeping in, huge breakfast of french toast with bananas foster, fruit, yogurt, eggs, quiche…and just chilling lounging on couches, napping, scrolling….

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Hill, Justin and Seamus chillin in the hot tub

Sunday the enthusiasm was a bit lower as they were tired and anticipating a return to the yard with lots of homework waiting for them….and of course, returning in the dress whites…

 

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Seamus, Hill & Justin ready to return to the Yard

We feel so blessed to have been able to see Seamus, enjoy listening to him and his friends chat on about USNA life in the language that is still unfamiliar to us but connects them, see our friends Bill and Sue who we treasure as they were our ‘family away from family’ when we lived in Maryland, and to stay at John and Linda’s Air B&B – incredible hosts – like I cannot say enough about how much they went above and beyond, fed tons of people like it was no big deal, adjusted to us having 3 extra people for the night, shopped for and cooked our steaks which is not part of the deal….just amazing!

Though I was very sad to say goodbye to Seamus (it was a quick goodbye since it was raining and he and his friends had to run inside ), I feel so grateful that he is thriving there and has such wonderful friends to share and support each other on this challenging path they have all chosen.

Yes – the weekend did feed the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne