View From an Irish Back Yard


East Side Indy
April 11, 2014, 3:35 am
Filed under: America, Crime, Family, Indianapolis

My head is throbbing.

I am jumpy, skitterish, probably unnecessarily anxious.

Today was a long day – getting Evelyn off to pre-school at 8:30, coming home to catch up on dishes and try to work on an article, then work at Starbucks 12:30, taking Frank to work at 5:30, then getting a babysitter and going to do a film review this evening.  I missed dinner and didn’t have much of a lunch.  I felt almost jovial coming out of the movie, stopped in to Trader Joe’s and headed for the highway home.

At the stoplight just before I69/465, I clicked on the little indicator that says how much gas I have left – oops, only 7 miles until empty.  And I was in the wrong lane to turn around.  So I got on the highway, nervous and scanning the exits for a gas station.  This wouldn’t do – I had to get off at Lawrence.  I wasn’t going to end up stranded at night on the highway with one headlight and no one to rescue me.  I drove down a street that, while well lit, was not where I wanted to be.  I had to pull in to the first gas station – really the only gas station – I could see, and as I did, I noticed there were police cars parked askew in the lot and a couple officers having heated debate with some young girls.  I tried to stay nonchalant, but a voice came over the speaker and told me I’d have to pre-pay inside.  So I locked the car and walked through the police cars and in to the station.  I waited in line, listening to the shouts and curses of people in the store.  I could feel my face flushing, a rushing sound filling my ears and a sort of desperation as I willed the line to move faster.  I paid a polite cashier and quickened my steps back to the car, where I put $20 worth in my tank.  A well-dressed man on the other side of the pump filled his car and shook his head at me, saying, “I’m just dreading this summer, when those crime rates are gonna climb even higher.  A few months from now, I don’t even want to see.  It’s already started.  These young kids, they just don’t care, don’t even care about living.”  I nodded soberly back at him.

I finished pumping my gas, wished the man good night and safe home, and got back in my car, locked the doors and got back on the highway.  But the more I thought about it, the more I began to feel the chills of reality.  He was right, and I knew it.  Everyone around here knows it.  This summer is going to be bad, unless something changes. Continue reading



Kiddos – the hardest job on earth.

I love kids. I always wanted kids.  Yet, every day it seems I ask myself, “Am I really cut out for this?”

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“In The Night Garden” always works magic.

I started babysitting at 11, was a camp counselor as a teenager, volunteered in the church nursery in my 20s and was even a nanny for a stint in Ireland, so I know all about changing diapers, giving baths, making babyfood and bottles, playing games, calling time outs, and all that stuff. But it’s the bigger stuff, the life training stuff, that really throws me curves with my own kids.  Like I said to Frank just yesterday, with any other job, if you’ve tried your absolute best and still failed, the world won’t stop turning.  But with your kids, if you’ve tried your hardest and failed, that’s not good enough.  Frank says everyone has frustrations and stresses with life, and kids, and he’s right – but sometimes I wonder if “everyone” has better coping mechanisms than I do?

It’s Saturday morning, just before 7 a.m.  Evelyn has woken me up (and subsequently, Shea, too) with a cheerful, “Good morning!” I get up and go about turning on cartoons and getting her breakfast.  Shea is grouchy and smells sort of sour behind the ears, like he spit up during the night.  He was whinging all night long anyway, probably too hot sleeping in the bed between Frank and me.  I rearrange dirty dishes in the kitchen and find some clean ones so I can bring Evelyn her cereal, milk and juice.  She is drawing at the coffee table and politely says, “Bank you Mummy!” I put Shea down so he can crawl while I check my email.  He crawls over to Evelyn and pulls a piece of her drawing paper off the coffee table – of course the piece of paper her breakfast was sitting on.  So cereal, milk, paper, all over the carpet, wet and stinky and soaking in.  I get cross at Evelyn for not watching Shea, even though I know I should have been watching them both.  I call the dog to clean up the first layer of mess, then I come in with towels and cleaner to try and soak up the rest of the milk.  Throughout my cleaning, I have to keep moving Shea so he won’t crawl into the mess he just made and I scold Evelyn for not playing with him as a distraction.  When the mess is sort of clean, I put Shea in his high chair and proceed to toasting some bagels for our breakfast.  I look over and he does his beamy chin-in-the-air smile at me while eating something he found stuck to his high chair.  I thought I cleaned it last night??? I wait for his bagel to cool and hand it to him.  He throws it on the floor.  I scold him, pick it up and examine it for dog hairs, in which it is covered. Guess Georgie gets to eat his breakfast, too.  I pull the shade on the kitchen window and sit with Shea to watch the sun rise.  And even in this sweet moment, I sort of want to restart the day.  Actually, I feel like I’m not ready to begin the day at all.  But there is no mountain of covers big enough to hide me from my needy, lovely, children.  Continue reading



Reverse Culture Shock
February 6, 2014, 3:37 am
Filed under: America, Family, Indianapolis, Ireland in General, Parenting, Writing | Tags: , , ,

Well, seeing as you’re still reading, I guess I’ll keep writing.  For now. :)  I’m happy with a lot of the posts I’ve achieved with this blog over the last several years, and I don’t really want to give it up.  So if you’ll just be patient with my few, sporadic, posts, I’ll try to focus a bit more and put stuff up more often.

After the last post, a kind woman who has been through a similar situation expressed the feeling PERFECTLY as “reverse culture shock.”  Yes, I’d say that’s exactly what we’re feeling after this most recent move back to the USA. I know it’s what I’m feeling for sure.

It’s been a little crazy. :)  We were so worried, and anxious, and upset, when Frank didn’t find work for so long.  And health care (or the lack thereof) really, really got to me.  I wasn’t even thinking about President Obama or all the debate or even where we were going to find the money – I just wanted the security of knowing we’d be taken care of!  And after being turned away and hung up on and treated like dirt when I just wanted the basics for my family, I was very, very upset.  Finally, as you know, Frank found work and the benefits are really good.  In fact, they just went into effect for us, which is good because Frank and I were turned down twice for Medicaid for “lack of paperwork,” even though we provided everything and more that they requested.  The kids, however, were covered by Medicaid for some reason, so they’ve been “safe” for the last few weeks. Whew.

Then, just as we prepared to celebrate, I got very sick all Christmas week.  Explosively sick.  Was it our Dec. 23rd Chinese take-out, or was it an evil predatory virus?  We will never know.  As soon as we’d gotten back on our feet from that one, the weather came in to play.  As you probably also know, it’s been an insane winter for the Midwest.   Continue reading



Out with the old.
January 1, 2014, 2:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello friends – Happy New Year to you!  They’ve already celebrated back in Ireland and we have another 2 hrs or so to go here in Indianapolis.  So, wherever you are, I wish you the very best for 2014. 

Here’s a very abbreviated update of what’s up with us – I hope to write more at another stage, but it’s just not coming to me at the moment… and I’m not not sure how or if I will be using this blog in the New Year, for while I write about a lot of things, the main theme of “View From an Irish Back Yard” isn’t as pertinent now that I’ve moved back to the States!  On the flip side, however, you can certainly read my husband’s new blog, which details his feelings on moving over here! 

We are settled in a bit more, though still finding our way.  The biggest, best news is that Frank was hired on as a night shift supervisor in a local warehouse.  We had just sent the last of our savings for December’s rent and had no idea what we were going to do… and out of the blue, Frank was interviewed and hired on the spot just a few days later.  It was like something out of a Christmas movie, I swear to God.  So that has been an enormous sigh of relief for us, and we hope in the coming months to figure out just what this income allows us to do and how our lives fit around the unfamiliar schedule.  

We HOPE to do a lot of things in 2014… pre-school and then Kindergarten for Evey… some dance and swimming lessons for her as well… driving lessons and a driver’s license for Frank… travel around the area for some fun day trips with the kids… visit friends and family we haven’t seen for years… more freelance writing for me, if at all possible… paying back  A LOT of people… and basically finding our way as an independent family, learning what we like and where we want to be and what dreams for our future are most important (and perhaps most realistic).  This last year was certainly a stressful one, but I hope that we continue to grow closer and dearer to each other as a family.  Sometimes daily frustrations feel like they’re pushing us apart… but I pray that we will always come back to one another, love and forgive and support each other, all four of us, and Georgie, too!

Thanks for reading along, as always.  I know this isn’t my typical posting style.  If you have any thoughts or ideas that might help me find a new blogging path, I welcome them!  I’m feeling a little bit lost, truth be told, but my fingers are still itching to write.  So tell me what the people want!  I’ll try to accommodate. :)

Until then, Blessings, and Happy Holidays, to you and yours. 

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The Kelly Kids wish you a Merry Christmas



Here. Now.
October 26, 2013, 3:55 pm
Filed under: America, Family, Friends, Home, Indianapolis | Tags: , , , ,

It’s been nearly seven weeks since we made our great move back over to the USA.

Every one of those weeks has presented its own unique challenges and blessings.   Some days are filled with hope and others, defeat.  We always knew it wouldn’t be easy, yet even I have to admit, I never knew it would be so exhaustingly difficult.  We are ALL homesick for Ireland, and all probably wondering at times if we did the right thing.  Frank feels the strangeness of this place very acutely, and I struggle to grasp any sort of sense of belonging here.  I guess this is what it means to be nomadic?

Sometimes I feel a bit like this shattered glassware we (unsuccessfully) shipped over from Ireland.

Sometimes I feel a bit like this glassware we (unsuccessfully) shipped over from Ireland… shattered and wondering if we did the right thing?

Our biggest hurdle  is finding work for Frank.  When I was in Ireland, I kept in touch with friends and co-workers here in Indianapolis, so I was lucky enough to have a part time job waiting for me at Starbucks.  Not ideal, but imperative in terms of insurance benefits and a small amount of income.  Frank is still looking under every stone!  He’s had a couple of interviews, but so far, his search has been fruitless, and very, very frustrating for him.  My heart hurts to see him feeling so lonely, and isolated, and “unwanted” by employers thus far.  I know that feeling – I went through it myself about six years ago in Drogheda.  And to top it all off, a care package from his mam got lost in the mail – after a week of hanging on to the promise of Lyons tea and Cadbury’s buttons, this news was just really sad!!!  So we’re worried, and anxious, and probably a little too impatient with the kids!  But we won’t be broken – we aren’t giving up.  I married a lovely, strong, hard-working, sensitive, kind, Irishman – the kind who says, “the glass is half empty, but there’s another pint on the way!” :)

In the meantime, I am thankful.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to be so – OK, nearly every day I have to remind myself.  But I am, truly, truly grateful for many things here, even while I’m missing all that we had before.  I am delighted with the pumpkins, spiced cider, and changing fall leaves of the American Midwest.  I am thrilled with the local libraries and parks for our kids (and us!).  I am thankful to be able to watch the World Series on TV again.  I so treasure our friends and family and the incredible generosity and empathy they have shown us.  At one point I felt like we were experiencing a real life “loaves and fishes” scenario:  we started out in our home with very little, but by the end of the first week, we were surrounded with so many gifts of furniture, kitchenwares, kids clothes, bedding, towels, food, and more, that we actually had more than we needed.  And at the end of the day, we may be worrying about where the money is going to come from in a few more weeks, BUT we are well cared for now.  We have a nice home filled with comforts.  We have food in the fridge.  We’ve had our little bouts of colds and infections, but we’re healing.  We have a minivan that we bought from friends and was exactly in our limited price range.  We have each other.  We have love.

If you’re thinking of us anytime this week, please say a prayer for our family and for Frank’s job hunt.  And if you’ve been helping us out all along, as many of you have, THANK YOU, once again.



30 Days Remain
August 10, 2013, 5:22 pm
Filed under: America, Ireland in General, Irish Outdoors | Tags: , , ,

I’m a bit in denial, even as I sit here surrounded by half-packed boxes.  After 5 1/2 years of Irish adventures, my family and I are moving back to the USA on the 10th of September, just 30 days away.

It has been a bit crazy, trying to plan out the whens and hows, and I am desperate to cross things off a list of endless details that must be organised.  But, deep down, I know this is going to be a lot harder than merely getting to the airport on time or finding the right car when we get there.  It’s going to be really, really difficult to leave.

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Magdalene’s Tower, part of a 14th century friary, just a block or two away from our house.

People keep asking me if I’m excited, and yes, of course I am!  In my stacks of lists, there is one near the top for the first precious groceries I will buy when I’m settled back in Indiana – it includes things like cornmeal, applesauce, spicy salsa, Italian sausage and coffee-flavored ice cream.  I can’t wait to see my friends and family again, and introduce them to my kids.  And I’m really looking forward to making a fresh start and building a new life with (hopefully) more promise.

But Ireland has been a very special place for us, for me, as well.  I don’t think I can actually put into words all the moments and places and people who have forever stamped this country on my heart.  And really, I’ll forever be a transplant here – Ireland was never really “mine.”  But there are bits and pieces of her I will carry with me from now until we return, which will hopefully be soon and often.

Continue reading



What I’ve Learned About Grandmothers
August 1, 2013, 11:57 pm
Filed under: America, Family, Ireland in General, Parenting | Tags:

My grandma Evelyn always used to have squirty cream in her refrigerator and Breyer’s Ice Cream in her freezer. Even if she wasn’t hungry for dinner, which was often in her later years, she’d still have a bowl of ice cream with a generous flourish of whipped cream on top.  The older I get, the better that sounds to me, too.

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My grandparents’ New York of the 1930s

It’s easy to idolize people after they’re gone.  I’m sure my grandma would love to think we were all nominating her for sainthood down here on earth, immortalizing her in cloudless, pink-tinged memories.  And there are a lot of those memories to share – long Sunday picnics at her condo in the summer, comfortable afternoons spent learning how to quilt, or crochet, or bake or play Skip-Bo.  There are funny stories we share, times when she embarrassed us as teenagers or brought down the house with her New York-accented comments in public places.  We loved her dearly, and we keep her with us this way.

It’s important to remember, at least for me, that she wasn’t perfect, either.  There were times when she hurt my feelings, usually with a sharp opinion on my wardrobe or weight.  And, like most grandmas, she complained that I did not visit her often enough.  Like most kids, I ignored this annoying little reality, telling myself I did enough and that my life was very busy.

Now, years later and living in Ireland, I have seen firsthand that she was right.  Continue reading




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