View From an Irish Back Yard

The Unpredictable

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”  – Woody Allen

It’s been over a month now, since we picked up our life and moved out of Indianapolis.  We crossed 2300 miles of open road, and passed through nine states. It was a real adventure, and one that continues! But more on that in a moment.

Devil's Tower Rear View (c) Frank Kelly

Devil’s Tower Rear View (c) Frank Kelly

I’m happy to report that the kids were real troopers.  There was the occasional whining around nap time, but mostly they adapted surprisingly well.  Even Georgie, the dog, acclimated herself to the cramped quarters of the minivan.  And the minivan herself ran remarkably well (now at 14 years old, 192,000 miles and counting!), the only mishap being a rock chip in the windshield 30 minutes outside our final destination! So we drove, both Frank and I, through wind and rain, mountain passes, flat prairies, through forests and over rivers.  We listened to all kinds of music and books on CD, and we had silent times, too.  We visited friends and family and we made lots and lots of memories.  There were tears of joy, and of pain.

Hyalite Reservoir

Hyalite Reservoir

I’d like to tell you about every moment, but I must confess, the two parts of our trip that stand out the most are The Disaster and The Unfinished Sequel.

The Disaster
Our trip went like this – Day 1: Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin.  Day 2: Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota.  Day 3: South Dakota, Wyoming. Day 4: Wyoming, Montana. On that fourth day we arrived in my hometown of Bozeman.  We had planned to stop and stay a day or two with my parents, rest up, and get back on the road in order to arrive in Seattle on Friday or Saturday.  It was sunny and lovely, we arrived at about lunchtime and set about catching up with my folks.  I had a bit of heartburn that evening when we went to bed, but I didn’t think anything of it.

By lunchtime the next day (Thursday), I was in a lot of pain and the usual remedies were not working.  I went to Urgent Care and expressed my concerns that this might be a reoccurrence of the Pancreatitis that plagued me when I was pregnant with Shea (and forced me into an early induction). The doctor took some tests, and while I waited for them to come back, my condition quickly worsened.  I had walked in on my own, but within an hour or so, I was laid out on the bed in the examination room as the nurse tried to hook me up to an IV for the pain.  I was then sent to the ER, the suspected prognosis, Pancreatitis. I don’t remember much of being admitted to the hospital, but I know that I spent four miserable days there.  This is in no way a slight on Bozeman Deaconess – the staff were truly awesome andI can’t think of a single person who deserves complaint.  But I was not in a good way at all.  Once in the hospital, I was hooked up to one, and later two, IVs of fluid, strong pain killers and anti-nausea medication.  The doctor also put me on antibiotics and iron supplements.  After that, all I could do was wait and try to rest, until the inflammation went down.

Bruises, Needles, ID Bracelets

Bruises, Needles, ID Bracelets

It’s kind of amazing how quickly a body can deteriorate. I mean, I’m not a fine specimen of fitness, but I’m 32, I eat pretty well, run around after my kids and can’t complain of too many ailments, aside from various aches and pains associated with my age and lifestyle.  I don’t smoke, rarely drink, eat my fruits and veggies, etc. Yet, within a matter of about 6 hours of feeling the dreaded familiar abdominal pains, I was confined to a bed, unable to stand, eat, drink, or even use a toilet.  My lipase levels were up over 5000 (when normal levels range from 10 – 140 U/L) and my blood pressure kept dipping very low.  I had two IVs of fluid and oxygen at times when I was struggling to breathe.  It was scary and miserable and I was totally helpless.

Of course, our insurance was good through the end of September… and I got sick on the 2nd of October.

But, with the help of my family and a great team of healthcare professionals, I made it through.  I had a couple days without food or drink and started retaining water really badly, so as I gained my strength back, I tried to slowly walk the halls.  On the third day there, I was allowed to go back on a liquid diet, which was music to my ears.  By Sunday, I was able to go back to my parents and continue recovering there.  I did have to go back to the ER two days later with a subsequent infection, and we stayed in Bozeman a total of 10 days so I could rest.

At that stage, we got back in the car and split our final leg of the journey to Seattle in two, stopping to spend the night in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho between. We finally arrived in Seattle, Washington, on Monday, 13th of October, just two and half weeks ago.

Montana Rainbow

Montana Rainbow

The Unfinished Sequel
While all this was going on… Frank had another curveball thrown at him.  Or to him, perhaps.  We had, of course, been putting all our eggs in the Seattle basket for weeks, months, doing research, getting excited!  Just read my last post!!! We’d been applying for jobs and making contacts all summer and were all set to live with friends in Kenmore when we got here.  Then, while we were in Bozeman, Frank unexpectedly got interviewed for a job with a company called Shawk, which works for Apple, is based at Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA.  He had been interviewed by them about six months ago and did not get the position, so we had abandoned the idea of it at that time. Well, they were looking for someone again, and were really interested in talking to Frank again.

We were totally dumbfounded, confused and excited all at once.  Should he go for it?  Should he not?  We’d made plans!  And to be honest, we had our hearts set on Seattle, sight unseen.  But the Lord works in mysterious ways, so they say, and we figured it would be foolish for Frank to not at least consider the possibility.  Long story short, he went through five more interviews, the last of which was in person in California.  Then, a week ago, he heard from them, and was offered the job.  By Monday morning, he had flown back down there to start work on Tuesday.

So! Yeah.  Here I am, still in Seattle, still living off the goodwill of our friends, with the kids and the dog!  And I guess we’re moving down to the San Francisco Bay Area!  I’m not sure when, or how, but hopefully by Thanksgiving at the latest.

Sunset View From the Space Needle

Sunset View From the Space Needle

I never, ever, in a million years, would have, could have predicted such a turn of events.  Never.  Ever.  I am still sort of in shock.  And a little unsure.  But happy! And anxious.

It’s incredible, I guess, what opportunities await you around every corner, if you’re willing to give it a try, and take the risk.  I am not even going to guess at what our future holds, not even for the next week, but I have to admit, I don’t know when I’ve felt so intrigued by life.  If all this can happen in the span of a month… what do the next 50 years hold?

I’ll do my best to keep sharing as we journey on. :)

In the meantime, if you have any recommendations (including jobs, blogs, books, mummy groups, etc.) for the SF Bay Area, please do share.  I’m sort of at a loss for where to start.  Again.

And do keep us all in your prayers as we figure this out. ;)

Click Here To Watch: The Kellys’ Great Western Adventure – Slideshow

In Search of Home
September 20, 2014, 5:48 am
Filed under: America, Family, Home, Indianapolis, Seattle, travel | Tags: , , , , ,
Indianapolis Skyline from the War Memorial Mall, on Indy 500 Parade Day.

Indianapolis Skyline from the War Memorial Mall, on Indy 500 Parade Day.

It’s been just over a year since we moved, immigrated, back to the USA from Ireland.

Evelyn is going on 5 years old.  She’s started forgetting things, like how her Nana’s house looked, or what her little cousins’ names are, or who our doting neighbours there were.  She remembers a lot of funny little things, but not always the details and persons we so wish she’d recall.  Shea, on the other hand, was just 6 months old when we moved, now 19 months.  He remembers nothing from our former life, and only knows his Irish family from waving and blowing kisses to them over Skype.

Moving so far away from the people and places you love has to be done for a lot of really solid reasons.  And, once you’re gone, and homesick, and looking back and questioning why, somewhere along the lines you better feel, in your heart, that it was worth it.  The sacrifices led to something better.

Springtime, tree in bloom.

Springtime, tree in bloom.

My earliest personal memories come from the summer I was 3 years old.  I remember that summer in very vivid bits and pieces because it was my family’s first big road trip, from Bozeman to Seattle. My parents packed up our little black Buick Skylark, buckled my sisters and me into the back seat and headed  off, nearly 700 miles West.  I remember being afraid of everything on that trip – The Space Needle, the ferries, the shower in our motel!  I remember playing with my cousin, Paul, and I remember my Uncle Mac dropping an ear of buttered corn on the cob onto the floor and all of us laughing.  I remember my mother getting a bee stuck up her pants.  I remember posing for a lot of boring pictures. I remember the Sees candy shop with its little playhouse.  I remember my dad prying starfish off the rocks in a tidal pool and leaving them in the trunk of our car until the smell became unbearable. I remember rain forests, and my hooded rain coat and miniature villages on display in Victoria, BC.  And, perhaps the strongest sensory memory of all is simply the one of sitting in that back seat, in traffic, the rain drops racing each other down the widows, and listening to a Simon & Garfunkel tape over and over again.  “I’m sittin’ in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination, Mmmmhmm…”

I could be anywhere in the world and hear the first few bars of that song and be instantly transported back to Seattle, and my 3 year-old self.

I don’t know if it’s irony, or destiny, but by this time next weekend, our little family will be homeward bound to Seattle.  Yes – you read it right – after just a year, we’re packing up our things, selling what we can, saying goodbye to friends, and moving again.  And adding another 2300 miles to the distance already between us and Ireland. Continue reading

Leaves, Rain, Love
November 11, 2012, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Dublin, Food and Drink, Ireland in General, Irish Sea, travel, Weather


Any seasoned spouse will tell you it’s important to spend quality time alone with your significant other… be it a weekly date night, a shared hobby, or even a night away once in a while.  It seems Frank and I don’t get enough time to do this (probably most people would say the same), but when we do it’s all the more appreciated.  We had a short getaway for our 4th Anniversary last week and I have to say – as much fun as it was to fall more in love with Frank, it was equally fun to reignite my fondness for Ireland, too.

There are so many places we’ve never been together in this lovely country – Cork, Galway, Kerry, Donegal, Clare… time, money and lack of transportation has really stifled our desires to travel for the present.   That’s why I am so happy to tell you we spent a very quick, very lovely day in Wicklow, the mountainous county just south of Dublin.  Our destination was the Glenview Hotel, situated in the lush forested hills west of Greystones.

Irish Sea Views from the DART

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There and back again.
August 9, 2012, 9:06 pm
Filed under: America, Family, Food and Drink, travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Where to start.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that we’ve been working on getting Frank a visa to live and work in the States.  As much as we love Ireland, we’ve felt the call back to America for several years now, and we’d love to go back there with Evelyn and embrace certain opportunities that are easier to find there than here.  About the time Evey was just a few months old, we started the application process.  This entailed massive amounts of paperwork, locating old documents and records, doctor’s visits, immunizations, and lots and lots of money.  Every hurdle we jumped only led to bigger, more confusing challenges.  So, we’ve been ticking away at it for over two years.

Rose of Sharon in full bloom.

About three weeks ago, Frank got a call from the US Embassy in Dublin.  They told him his visa had been approved! This was wonderful news.  Except that he had to use it by August 3rd.  At that stage, we were looking at having to be Stateside in 2 1/2 weeks’ time or start over, including paying the fees again.  We were also told there was one additional paper we had to have renewed, one that usually takes several weeks to get.  So we just kind of kicked into high gear, asking favours of family and friends and strangers, started researching flights and frantically running around trying to figure out what might happen in only a few days time.  I was saying a lot of prayers, but I was also practically having heart palpitations every day over the instability of our immediate future.

This plaque at the Irish Famine Memorial in Boston included the poignant words of local Irish poet, John Boyle O’Reilly.

Thank God – it worked out at the last minute, as these things usually do.  Frank got the extra papers sorted and we found out more information from the Embassy.  We learned that he could fly to the States and activate his visa and then come back to Ireland for a few more months to tie things up here.  We also learned that I had to go with him as his main sponsor.  On Thursday morning the 28th of July, the Embassy called and told us Frank’s visa was ready and waiting.  So, while he took the train to Dublin to collect the papers, I booked the cheapest flights I could find – to Boston, of all places – and by Friday morning the 29th, we were on a plane headed West to the USA.

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Pen Pal
June 21, 2012, 11:42 am
Filed under: Friends, Ireland in General, travel

One of my best “dinner party stories” is a few years old, but it goes like this:

In the spring I turned 15, my family took a long road trip as we often did back then.  All six of us piled into the minivan and we set out on a journey that would take us down through Zion National Park in Utah, The Grand Canyon in Arizona, and up through Los Angeles, San Francisco and Eureka, California, into Oregon and Washington state and home again.  It was a trip of many “firsts” and some beautiful memories, but one in particular has made history.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

It was while we were admiring the view at the Grand Canyon that I noticed a business card caught in the weeds.  It was that of an Australian cardiologist, Mr. Michael Davis.  I kept the card and when I got home, I sat down and wrote a long letter to Mr. Davis, telling him all about me and my life and how I had come to find his card.  I think I even sent a picture of myself – perhaps this man was young and handsome, looking for an American girlfriend? (I was quite boy-crazy in my teen years. :))

A few months later and my mother was bringing in the mail when I spied a handwritten letter with an Australian postmark!  I turned beet red, grabbed the letter and clutched it to my chest as I ran to my bedroom and slammed the door.  Mr. Davis had written me back.

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Milestones, Memories and Meals
May 27, 2012, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, travel | Tags: ,

So, the news is out – it’s my birthday.  And, well, it’s kind of a big one.  I’m not depressed about turning 30, not really, I just sort of worry that maybe all the fun is over?  Ah well, I’ve tried not to give it too much thought.

However, I have found myself thinking over the last few weeks about the milestone events in my 20s, and wow, there were a lot of them!  I could list them all out for you, but I don’t really need to.  There is a particularly happy one I’m happy to tell though, and as you will see, it is one that has also shaped my low-key birthday celebration plans.

Me and a few of the girls from our TRI-S Italy 2004 group posing on the Ponte Vecchio in Firenze

In my senior year of college, I took  a TRI-S trip to Italy with a group of about 20 students and faculty from AU.   During those 10 fabulous days, my friend, Katie, and I were lucky enough to stay with an Italian family on the outskirts of Ostia.

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April 11, 2012, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Ireland in General, Irish Outdoors, travel

On our last full day with The Car, we took a drive through counties Louth, Meath and into Cavan.  Frank’s dad, Anthony, is a great cyclist and told us this was a pretty part of the country (though really, what parts of Ireland aren’t gorgeous?), so we took his advice, packed a lunch and headed off to someplace new.

Ireland Map for Quick Reference

We got caught in a Spring rainstorm in Kells, had tea and cake in Cavan (the town), drove around some of the lakes (including Lough Inchin, pictured below), walked around the bright green countryside a bit, and stopped off to buy some of my favourite wine in Navan on the way home. All-in-all, a laid back and lovely day.

First off, some pictures of the famous graveyard at Kells, Co. Meath, with its incredibly old and significant High Crosses and Round Tower.  If you want the fun version of the story, you should watch the brilliantly animated The Secret of Kells, which was nominated for an Oscar a couple of years back.  Unfortunately, Kells did not seem to have much else going on, at least not yesterday, and we were drenched in a downpour, so we got back in the car and headed down the road to Cavan.

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