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Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 1.59.25 PMI’m not sure how it started this morning, but as I came into the kitchen, our two teenage daughters were screaming at one another at the top of their lungs. “You took more than your fair share!”, shouted one with clenched jaw and angered face. “Yea?! Well…why can’t you just MIND YOUR OWN business for once?!”, responded the other who then stomped out of the room in a huff. What were they arguing about??? How much scrambled eggs one had put on her plate and whether or not there was enough left for the rest of the family.

So, tell me…how is your family doing?

A week ago, when our eldest daughter suddenly returned home from college, our house went more topsy turvy than normal. We still have a teen daughter living at home…so we’re still used to drifting from one drama to another…but I digress. Our eldest, in her defense, has been on her own for nearly two years, living in college dorms on the west coast of America, and has, more-or-less, been running her life like the emerging adult that she is. Then, last week, her life was completely upended thanks to Coronavira.

Like so many other college students, not only is she having to get used to classes being cancelled or taught online, she’s been quarantined from friends and, almost more importantly, she cannot see her boyfriend. To add insult to injury she, like most others, is being told she can’t go outside unless she’s social distancing, she should keep her bedroom clean and can’t leave stuff all over the house, she should create a schedules for herself and, oh yes, she needs to workout.

Settled into Dorm

Here’s our eldest the day we settled her into her college dorm in America.

If you have a college student who never left home, maybe he or she is used to living with “courtesy” rules, as I like to call them, but I wager a bet that things aren’t going smoothly in your home either. You’re probably finding your young adult is spending way more time then you think is healthy on Netflix or Playstation, staying up late into the evening or sleeping half the day away. Maybe they’ve got pizza boxes up in their bedroom?! My friend, we’re going to have to face the facts, none of us with teens/young adults in our home are going to get through Coronavirus unscathed.

Only five days at home, my oldest daughter was asking if she could p-l-e-a-s-e move out. “I can’t live with you guys…you’re making me crazy!”, she’d say in her more frustrated moments. Said daughter and a group of equally frustrated friends were hoping we parents would all get together and rent them an apartment!!!

My husband, ever the peace keeper, considered, for a split second, that the idea might be a good one. I, on the other hand, just couldn’t see my way past the “entitlement” such a decision would profer. The truth is that many of today’s teens and young adults, have lived a life without much discomfort and this Covid-19 crisis is the first assault to the comfort and freedom.

It took me 24-hours to cool my jets after our eldest daughter lambasted me for trying to set up “house rules”. But, in that 24-hours, I had time to reflect. God didn’t create the universe in a day and we’re not going to teach our teens/young adults that 1) struggles are real and 2) you don’t give up or quit when times are tough. Instead, we find inner reserve, change the things we can change, accept the things we cannot change, and we pivot towards what will work for the greater good.

So, what can we do to help our young adults with the current new normal?

After a day or so, I sat down with our eldest daughter and calmly talked about what was happening for her, us, and the world right now. I asked her to outline what the ideal situation at home would look like. I took notes and we negotiated what feels like a workable solution for her and us. It was good to listen…really listen..to what she had to say. Mostly, she expressed anxiety and asked for compromise. And, in the days since our blowup and chat, things have been better for all of us.

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I’m no expert in parenting nor do I pretend to know how to navigate the return of college-age kids, but here’s some things that are working for us:

  1. Outline the current house rules. Young adults who’ve been away from home or who are more or less used to running their own lives need to know/be reminded how the house operates. In our home, for example, we talked about our need for public spaces to be kept tidy and our daughter talked about her need for us to let her bedroom be whatever it is {messy!!}. The compromise was that both could happen WITHIN REASON. We’d give in to our need for the kitchen, sitting room and dining room to look like something out of an interior magazine…so long as she picked up after herself within an hour or two of being in said spaces. And, we will stop expecting her to make her bed or hang up her clothes every day, BUT she is not allowed to leave food on the carpet {I know…I know!} or have dirty dishes/cups/water bottles in her bedroom for days on end.
  2. Listen to their fears, anxieties, concerns and validate their feelings. As I like to say, “Shrek always says better our than in”. Young adults, like little kids, need to talk…get their feelings out. We need to let our older teens know that it’s ok to talk and cry. We need to acknowledge that “yes” their lives are uncertain right now, but things will get better in time. All kids lack life experience to understand this just yet.
  3. Carve out places for them to study. If the kitchen, for example, is a communal space for eating and conversation, find someplace else in the home that can be used as a quiet study space. A conservatory, unused hallway or guest bedroom, for example, will work in a pinch. If possible, set up a desk (Ikea) and let them have the space they need to study.
  4. In addition to game time, shared workouts, and tv/movie watching together, involve our young adults in watching the news with us. Why? Because if our older kids sit and watch the news with us, it gives them a chance to be informed of the latest happenings in this global pandemic. Knowledge is power. If they hear the same messages we are hearing, they are more likely to understand why “we’re all acting so crazy” {our younger daughter’s comment!}.
  5. Encourage them to use this “gift of time” to do things they’ve talked about/wanted to do or help them find ways to safely help others in the community. I’ve talked with my daughters about doing more cooking and baking, knitting {we’re making prayer shawls}, picking up musical instruments we’ve allowed to gather dust, online scrapbooking, and learning new languages. Hey! You’ve got to find the silver lining in all this…am I right?!
  6. Not get involved in disagreements. My kids argue. They always have. Period. They’re what we call in Ireland “chalk and cheese”. What’s important to them is that we stay out of those arguments…and we don’t pick sides. The compromise for me was that if they start to get loud…I get to say “Girls…take it down a notch.” And that’s what i practiced this morning when the screaming match started about the scrambled eggs. It wasn’t easy but it was kind of nice not to “parent” them through the disagreement. In the end, I was pleased to hear they’d texted one another to apologise.

So, what are you doing in your home to make the transition easier for you and yours? I’d love to know. This is a scary and unknown time. None of us are holding it together all the time. But, you know what, we’re stronger when we work together. Hit me up…let me know what you’re doing that works. Or, if you need to let off some steam, please feel free to do so here. We mums and dads need safe places too.

I’m sending love and prayers for good health and strength to all of you. If you have some free time, drop me a note on this blog or on my Instagram: Inanirishhome.

~ XK

 

 

 

 

 

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A few weeks ago, I participated in a Joy workshop. It was exactly what a full-time mom (or dad) needs heading into the holiday season.

The gathering started with a meet and greet cocktail hour on Friday evening and then, over two days, became a thoughtful consideration of:

  • what zaps us of joy?
  • are we choosing emotions other than joy?
  • how to connect with our own joy
  • rituals for creating and keeping joy

There was conversation, teachings, things to read, skill drills, time for journaling, laughing, crying; it was deep and messy and wonderful all at one time. Most importantly, it was a reminder of how and why we lose our joy and what it takes to find it again. Woven into the workshop was yoga, delicious food, and the chance to meet like-minded women who want to connect with themselves and each other.

 

What came up for me during the workshop was the profound loss I have felt the last eight years since my mother and grandmother passed away. My life changed instantly with their passings. My mother’s sudden death was particularly hard. She and I were not close, but we loved one another. When she died, I truly did not know what hit me. More importantly, I did not know how to grieve.

 

My grandmother’s passing was quite different. Her dying took place over many months. We were close and her slow exit from this life brought us closer. I am incredibly thankful for the time we had together and for the wisdom and guidance she shared with me in her life. With her last breath, she was teaching me something.

Two back-to-back deaths however, left me lost…and I didn’t even know it. What I realise now is that I was living in a haze colored by loss. I compare myself, pre and post their deaths, to being severely concussed. In my sorrow, I walked through life unable to feel, think, participate or do anything fully. That phrase “the lights are on but nobody is home” says it all. In a textural point of view, it felt like I was walking in a sticky web and could not get free.

I am a fighter, so to be sure, and I struggled against the darkness but it always pushed back hard.

 

Slowly, the stickiness of loss has lifted. Last year I noticed that I was finally coming back to myself. I was feeling joy again. In a moment of absolute “what the heck happened to me”, I saw a therapist who explained that it can take one to three years to fully process a loss. Two losses, one right after the other, may take twice as long or longer. And grief comes in waves…you’re fine and then you’re not…you’re fine again and then you’re not…again.

I have grieved for my beloved mother, grandmother and myself. I include myself because I have lost precious momentum and time: eight years to be exact. I forgive myself for not being able to see my way clearly.

Sadly, I acknowledge that I can’t get back those years. I can’t change what I did or didn’t do…did or did not say. I can only be aware of what happened, love myself, acknowledge my pain, and the hurt my emotional absence may have created in other people’s lives, and move forward.

Love

This past year, my intention has been “Love”…love of self, love of others, love of work, love of learning and travel and so much more. Love and time have brought me back to myself…brought me back to today. And the Joy workshop I did last weekend helped me to look at what has been holding me back from having as much joy as I had before my mother and grandmother died. That information I’ll save for another blog post!

When I woke up this morning the phrase “Today, I Begin Anew” popped into my mind. I wrote it down on a sticky note and put it on my mirror as a reminder of the new awakening I feel for my beautiful, complicated, messy life.

This is my journey. It is perfectly imperfect.

Maybe God, the Universe, the Powers that Be are molding me for something I do not yet know. Loss is part of being “molded”. And, with grace, I am open to the possibilities of the journey. So, today, I begin anew. Perhaps this post will help you in any loss you are experiencing. Today, please know that you are not alone.

~XoK

 

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

The world is feeling so polar these days and with our eldest daughter way over on the west coast of America on her own…it feels a little bit unsafe to this mama…though I know, in reality…if I take a deep breath…it actually isn’t.

Regardless of where home is, what anyone does for a living, or what our political leanings are, I hope you/me/we, will make more time to create or pass on a tiny bit more gentleness, patience, and love. It is, after all, up to us to how we interact with one another. If someone treats you poorly today, let me be the first to say I am sorry for the hurt. It’s tough out there…so many demands…so much negativity…everyone in a rush…shouting…honking…bustling…doing…making noise. It’s exhausting and grating on our central nervous systems and hearts.

The world is not meant to be what it feels like it is becoming…what it has been for a while now. I’m a hopeless romantic, so with Wonder Woman in mind, I am shouting out today: “ONLY LOVE CAN SAVE THE WORLD”. And, if that doesn’t work…maybe biscuits {cookies} will help.

Which brings me to today’s post for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. These tasty little treats are perfect this time of year.

Bowl of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

The pumpkin and chocolate flavours work really well together {wouldn’t it be nice if we could say the same about American politicians ~ cheap shot, I know!}.

Drop scoop pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Unlike many biscuits, these are cake-like and chewy. They are incredibly satisfying with a good mug of tea in the morning.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies on a baking tray

One thing to note, they do not freeze well…nor does the dough refrigerate well. So, when you make them…you have to make them all. Depending on what size spoon or dough scoop you use, the recipe yields between 3-5 dozen cookies.

Tray of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Which is why I sent a batch of them to my daughter and her lovely new roommate at college. Here’s how I packed them up.

How to send homemade cookies in the mail

I packaged them in cling film (plastic wrap) and placed each cookie back-to-back.

Homemade card from fall printable

I tried to find an “Autumn is in the Air” printable…but this one was so adorable!

red, yellow, green autumn leaves

The autumn leaves in our garden are so beautiful this time of year.

Sending cookies in the mail

Some tissue paper, ribbon, and a few stickers and it’s ready for shipping!

You can buy American canned pumpkin in Dublin at Candy Lab in Temple Bar or  Fallon and Byrne. Sometimes, I have also seen it at Avoca in Kilmaconogue and at Cavistons in Glasthule…but this is hit and miss. I’m a Dublin girl, so I apologise for not being able to speak for the rest of the country. Happy Autumn!

~ XoK

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscuits

Makes 3-5 Dozen

Ingredients

½ cup/4oz vegetable oil

1 cup/8.3oz/236g pumpkin puree

1 cup/198g/7oz sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon bread soda (baking soda)

1 teaspoon milk

2 teaspoons mixed spice (pumpkin spice)

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup/142g/5oz whole wheat flour

1 cup/142g/5oz self-raising flour (all purpose flour)

2 cups/400g/14oz chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Spray baking sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper or silpat sheets.

2. In a bowl, combine oil, pumpkin, sugar, egg, and vanilla.

3. In another bowl, stir baking soda and milk well. Add to the pumpkin mixture.

4. In a third bowl, stir mixed spice, baking powder, salt, and flour well. Add to pumpkin mixture.

5. Fold in the chocolate chips and leave batter to rest for 15 minutes.

6. Using a scoop, place batter on a baking sheet, approximately 2-inches apart, and bake for 9-12 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned.

7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the biscuits rest for 2-3 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer to a wire rack to fully cool.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* These websites were particularly helpful in figuring out the best way to pack the cookies for shipping: Land-O-Lakes; Kitchn;  Sally’s Baking Addiction;

** Here is the link for the printable I used, from On Sutton Place, to make the card.

*** If you can’t find the canned pumpkin puree in Ireland, here is a recipe from Alton Brown over at the Food Network. You can watch a video of the process too.

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Good morning and happy Monday! I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately. I took the last few months off to spend with my sweet family…especially my eldest daughter {photo above}, who graduated from secondary school in June and then recently left for a college on the west coast of America.

As you can imagine, the past few months have been filled with lots of emotion in our Irish home…and by that I mean way more than would normally be the case with one mother and two teenage daughters living in the same house!

With each passing day, we held on to one another a little bit tighter and squeezed as much fun out of life as we could. Here are a few snapshots of our recent memories; I’ll write about some of them in greater depth in the coming weeks.

First up, for mid-term break, we flew to Hawaii with dear friends to soak up some sunshine. This was our first trip to Kaua’i. The weather wasn’t much better than it was back in Ireland at the time, but we loved the relaxed feel of this gorgeous island.

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Then there was a sweet event at which my husband walked our daughter “down the aisle” so to speak. Oh my goodness…it was a vision of what her final “white dress” occasion might be like!

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Next up, a girls trip to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. If you haven’t visited Moab, do consider it for your bucket-list. From Ireland there is no direct flight to Salt Lake City, but don’t let that stop you. Utah has a number of state and national parks that are amazing {and if you are going that far, I suggest you check out Colorado too}. The Delicate Arch, under which we are standing, is an 18-meter, 60-foot-tall, freestanding natural arch. Hiking out to this point at sunset was just one of the highlights of this quick girls trip.

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Then there was a best-friend graduation trip to Rome. How cute are these two? They’ve been friends for twelve years!

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And the Debs…!

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And, finally, before we knew it…it was time to say goodbye.

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Letting go of this sweet girl wasn’t incredibly hard…it was just incredible AND hard. She was ready for her next adventure and we are happy she has more room to grow.

Through the tears and the hugs and the laughter and the heart-ache, we’ve had an amazing couple of months. Now each of us is adjusting to our “new normal”.

I’ll end today’s post with some wisdom passed along from both my grandmother and my mother-in-law. Their advice has served me well recently. Maybe they will be helpful to you too either now or some day. From Mama I learned, “a mother’s job is to let her children go”. Spoken like a true Irish mammy. From Gma El, I learned, “You GO Girl!

~ XoK

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* We love Utah as a destination: it’s clean, safe, and full of outdoor activities. Click here to go to the Visit Utah website.

** Moab, Utah is home to two national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Click here to jump to Visit Moab’s official website

*** Go Hawaii’s official website was really helpful to us as we planned our holiday.

**** Did you see the gorgeous meringue cake I baked for my youngest daughter’s birthday party? You can learn to make it here.

***** And last, but not least, if you’re considering a holiday to Rome, check out Rome’s official website here.

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Pancake Tuesday 2014

Happy Pancake Tuesday! Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday, is today and if you’re on some “healthy diet” regime…you’ll have to give yourself a special dispensation so you can partake in this festive tradition that we love so much in Ireland.

If you’re not familiar with the tradition of Pancake Tuesday, it falls the day before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. {Don’t forget to get your Ashes tomorrow!} You can learn all about the tradition of Pancake Tuesday and find my tried-and-tested go-to recipe for traditional Irish pancakes here.

This year, in our Irish home, I am shaking things up. I’m not sure how my kids will feel about this, but I am making Korean-style pancakes in honour of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. I’d love to show you a Korean pancake I made earlier…but since we haven’t had dinner yet…I’ve got nothing of my own to show you just now*. But, what follows are some Korean pancake recipes that I’ve saved over the past few weeks to make tonight. I hope one of these appeals to you and yours!

~ XoK

Hotteok, Hoddeok or Hodduk, 호떡

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These gorgeous Korean pancakes are stuffed with delicious brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts…which just sounds so fabulous right now! According to Sue over at My Korean Kitchen, they are one of the “most popular Korean street snacks and are popular in winter”. What I particularly like about this recipe is the ingredient list is pretty much the same as we use for our traditional Irish crepe-style pancakes.

Pa Jun

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Ok, so he’s not Korean and he lives in Paris, but recipes from David Lebovitz are always good…so for me this recipe for scallion, red pepper, egg on top, Korean-style pancakes made the cut. Again, I love that David’s recipe because it uses simple ingredients…and I can imagine throwing in a few prawns or other ingredient to make them even more interesting.

Scallion & Shrimp 

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Does’t this pancake look good? Nami, a Japanese home cook, based in San Francisco, offers this delicious recipe on her blog Just One Cookbook. You might say, “but she’s Japanese…not Korean!”…and you’re right. But, you know, my sweet grandmother was Chinese and she had a bunch of friends from so many Asian countries and she and her girlfriends would share and cook up each other’s recipes with such regularity that I am going to believe Nami lives the same way…it works for me!

Flourless Korean Pancakes…aka Potato Korean Pancakes

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I won’t be making these tonight…but I thought for any of you who are not eating flour…but are eating potatoes…this recipe might work. From the very adorable Seonkyoung Longest, this blog posted recipe for Potato Pancakes also offers an easy to follow video.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Busy mom note here: I meant to publish this post earlier in the day for my fellow Irish readers!

** For more delicious Pancake Tuesday recipe ideas please visit my previous post here.

 

 

 

 

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Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh at 2018 Golden Globes

Photo Credits: HFPA

It was a cracking night for the Irish at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Beverly Hill, CA last night as Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh took home top honours.

Ronan won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category for the film Lady Bird, in which she plays a headstrong high school senior experiencing a turbulent relationship with her mother. It has been praised in many circles for capturing the poignancy and craziness of late adolescence {something this Irish mother of two teens can relate too!}. The film Lady Bird also won the award for the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

McDonagh won not one, but two awards, last night: Best Motion Picture – Drama category and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture category for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. For McDonagh, there was additional success as actress Frances McDormand won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture award and actor Sam Rockwell won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for Three Billboards as well.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is both a wickedly dark comedy and searing drama that takes audiences on the journey of a vigilante single mom forcing the police department in her fictional town of Ebbing, Missouri, to investigate her daughter’s unsolved murder by buying ad space on three billboards. {please note, there is profanity in this trailer}

 

 

For Ronan, this year’s ceremony was not her first appearance at the Golden Globes as a nominee. In 2008, at the tender age of 13, she was nominated for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in an Motion Picture category for the film Atonement. And she was also nominated in 2016 for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category for Brooklyn.

 

As the mother of two, it was refreshing to see both Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh mention their mothers in their acceptance speeches. Ronan said this: “My mam’s on FaceTime over there on someone’s phone right now so hi!…I want to thank all of the women who I love so much in my own life, who support me every single day…my mother, who’s on FaceTime…!”

Not to be outdone in the humour department, McDonagh said: It’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow; she likes this kind of thing…So happy birthday, mum – even though I think she wanted Lady Bird to win!”

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* To read all full list of all the winners and nominees at the 2018 Golden Globe awards, visit here.

** Read more about Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn at the Sundance Film Festival 2015 here.

*** Visit the Lady Bird website by clicking here, and the Facebook page by clicking here.

**** Visit the Three Billboards website by clicking here and the Facebook page by clicking here.

 

 

 

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Wishes from In an Irish Home to You and Yours

I have so much to be thankful for today and every day: my sweet family {the inlaws and the outlaws!}, wonderful, supportive, friends, and you…the fabulous visitors who call-in to this blog every day!

From the bottom to the top of my Irish heart…THANK YOU!

Thank you for visiting In an Irish Home, for leaving your comments, and for sharing what you like with me and others.
Wishing you and those you love a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

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