OK, here’s what you need to know.

1) Exam periods, like May and December, are sacred to exams. To studying. To freaking out about exams. When he’s not studying for exams, he will need either food or sleep or clean laundry. Pretend that, instead of a husband, you have a room-and-boarder for a month; it’ll be a relief to both of you.

2) When your husband gets to grad school, you will be proud of him and will enjoy telling new acquaintances that “my husband is in so-and-so college studying such-and-such.” Dear sister, instead of boasting you should begin praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

3) When he gets to rotations or clinicals or anything similar, you will be excited because you will see this as the beginning of the end. It is, in the sense that it’s like the time you were in labor (sorry) (it’s the most relevant example I can think of) and they said, “It’s time to push,” and you were relieved because you thought it was the beginning of the end. And then you pushed for three ever-loving hours that later made you think, Never again. So help me. That is how excited you should be about rotations.

4) Which brings me to the next thing you should know: Children. If you have kids while your husband is in school, plan them so that they aren’t born during exams. Because if you have a new baby or go into labor during exams, even the peace of Jerusalem isn’t going to give your husband time to study. (Kind friends and family members will help out, though, enabling your husband to stay in school and both of you to stay happily married to each other.)

5) You can raise kids while your husband is in rotations. Just know that rotations are like exam periods times two, and they last a lot longer than one month. You will be responsible for most of the diaper changes, mealtimes, snotty noses, bedtimes, baths, spankings, stories, snacks, potty breaks and questions a toddler and a baby can generate or require. They will be all yours. For WEEKS and WEEKS.

6) Someday your husband will graduate from school (this bit of advice is given in faith at this point). Both of you will be happy–and a tiny bit sad–when that day comes. Make him go to the graduation ceremony if for no other reason than that you stayed married to him through school and you are! going! to watch him walk across that stage in his cap and gown while you cry because you are so relieved but mostly just so proud of him.

There. NOW do you still want to marry a student?



Two weeks ago, we went to Powerscourt Gardens for the day. It’s only thirty minutes from our house. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that we live near so many beautiful spots.


Powerscourt Gardens is an old estate owned by a wealthy family who has opened it to the public. Can you even imagine taking your tea every day on this terrace?

There is an Avoca cafe and shop inside the castle. We ate lunch here and felt spoiled. Look at that view.

That’s Sugarloaf Mountain.

This is our Sugarlump. Ha.






He napped for most of the afternoon. She had a blast exploring.


The gardens are extensive and gorgeous.


Sigh. What happy memories of a beautiful place.

The other day I had loads of things to do. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, getting the guest room ready for much-anticipated guests (Gabriel’s brother and sister-in-law who arrived yesterday — yay!). But the sun was shining, the children were grumpy, and I decided the only thing to do was take them outside while I did some work on the roses.

I snipped off old blooms and tied up new branches to the lattice. The sun shone warm on my back, and the children cheered up immediately. In the middle of smelling a new bloom, I thought of our dear pastor and the threatening storm he and his family are facing. And I thought, How is this fair? That I’m smelling roses in the sunshine with my happy children, while he and his family are facing such a trial?

I think God whispered to me what came next: “It’s not fair. But you are called to care for your family here, for my glory. They are called to face those storms there, for my glory.”

You better believe I smelled those roses as deeply as I could. And prayed as hard as I could for the ones facing that storm in Vermont.

All for God’s glory.

We have a big weekend coming up: the annual Family Conference at our church in Co. Waterford. A bunch of families from different parts of Ireland and UK come together for fellowship and special topics relating to family. We’re looking forward to it a lot. Gabriel is in charge of the music throughout the weekend. I’m excited about learning from the guest speaker, John Coblentz. What helps the anticipation is knowing there is childcare provided throughout the sessions for adults. 🙂 (Do I even remember how to take notes?) So. We’re looking forward to it.

The struggle I face is this: the conference hasn’t even started, and I’m already feeling prickly. Irritated at rubbing shoulders all weekend. Sure that my buttons will be pushed in all kinds of ways. Knowing I’ll feel overwhelmed by the crowd after about two hours.

This is annoying because, folks, these are wonderful people who attend the conference, and I would like to enjoy fellowship with them. Why in the world am I feeling irritated at spending a mere two days with them? Does it mean I’m an intelligent introvert who needs lots of alone time after being in crowds? (I like that one.) Is it the devil trying to take away God’s glory from the weekend? Is it just my inherent selfishness? (Probably.)

What do you think? Are feelings like this legitimate or should they not be given consideration? I’d love to hear your thoughts, people.



P.S. Val Yoder, the former principal of Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute, used to say that those initials actually stood for Students Molded By Irritations. Ha.

This chookawookums is giggling, babbling, rolling, and turning us into balls of mush on a daily basis.

Some Greg trivia:

He sleeps about 11 hours at night and takes two naps a day.

He eats three meals a day now. Two months ago I thought he’d never like solids, but now he eats like the sturdy baby boy he is.

Still no teeth!?

Zero interest in crawling (his sister was crawling and pulling herself up at this age). He’s happy to sit and watch the world pass him by. I can’t say I’m in a hurry for him to crawl; that milestone will mean I’ll have to sweep the floors more often.

Anything stringy or ropy is the world’s best toy for him. A string keeps him occupied for ages.

He weighs about 19 pounds.

Still loves his doorway jumper. And loves his daddy:

And we love him.

All photos by Marylou.

Gabriel is enjoying rotations so far. He’s had two weeks of equine medicine at the hospital at the university, and now he’s in a week of small animal medicine at the same hospital. He says if they have an intern who takes his/her teaching responsibility seriously, they learn a lot and don’t have much down time. If they have an intern who doesn’t do that, the students spend a lot of time standing around (frustrating). This week he’s under an intern who is good at teaching.

There were only two students on this rotation, and the other one got sick. That means that Gabriel is down to work Saturday and Sunday as well, but hopefully they won’t be full days.

This week his hours are weird: 12:00 noon to 9:00 or 10:00pm. We like having him around in the mornings, but I miss him at supper and the children’s bedtime (why does everything get crazy from 5:00 until bedtime?).

He’s figured something out: if he cycles to school it rains. If he drives, it’s sunny. So he’s been driving lately, and everyone is happy. 🙂

In these warm(er) sunny afternoons, I’ve been taking the children to the park across the road. We stroll around, Bronwyn wearing her sunglasses and Greg soberly chewing on the straw of a sippy cup. We check out the fountains and the nature study room that has a big fish tank, crayons and paper, and stuffed animals. Bronwyn ducks into the courtyard cafe a few times to beg for ice cream, and her mean mom drags her out. We smile at other people out doing the same thing we are: soaking up the precious sunshine while it’s here.

Yesterday on our way out to the park, the neighbor kids came running down the sidewalk towards me. “Will you come to our sale?” When I got there, they threw offers at me like candy: ten cents for this, twenty for that, I think that’s free. They were selling their toys for charity, they said. I bought a set of really cute wooden people for fifty cents. When I came back on my way home, they had a sign taped to the tree that read: Please come to our sale, it is for charity so please come to our sale. Aww.

I went for groceries at Lidl this morning, and guess what I saw in the car park: a Tim Horton’s delivery truck. For a brief brief moment I was homesick for Ontario. 

Both of our next-door neighbors are on holidays at the moment. I guess tonight would be a good time to break out the ukulele and the campfire songs. 

If you want to, leave a note telling us how your summer is going so far. (Unless it includes swimming. Then you can just slink off.)

One year ago she looked like this.

Now she looks like this:

Excuse me while I find a box of tissues.

*** *** ***

Bronwyn turned two in May, and suddenly she’s not a baby anymore. Some big girl stuff she’s doing:

-We’ve been talking about colors and shapes for a few months and it seems like something just clicked in her brain because a few weeks ago she caught on. It’s so fun asking her the colors of balloons or the shape of certain objects. She usually gets it right.

-“I pee in toy-et.” She’s excited about the IDEA of potty-training, but she doesn’t really get the logistics of it. Yet.

-She loves when someone reads books to her. This week I heard her “reading” to her baby doll, and she was repeating the main parts of the story I had read to her earlier.

-Yesterday I was feeding Gregory and noticed that he’d spit up on the floor earlier. I asked Bronwyn to get a cloth and wipe it up–and she did it.

-When she wants to get around someone or something in her way, she says, “Coom-SEE.” (“excuse me”) It’s sweet and hilarious.

Bronwyn’s hip dysplasia story isn’t ended yet, as we found out this spring. Her right hip is much better, back in socket and doing its job, but the socket isn’t as deep as it should be. The surgeon is recommending a surgery called a pelvic osteotomy to correct that. She’ll have to be in a brace for about six weeks after that. The surgery is scheduled for August. This was disappointing news for us, but we know it could be so much worse than it is. We feel confident that our surgeon knows what he’s talking about, and that our God has good reasons for allowing all of this to happen.

She has a sweet personality, a strong will, and a feisty temper sometimes. She’s made us pray for wisdom more than we ever did before becoming her parents.

We can’t image life without her.

Happy birthday, little girl.

Last two photos by the lovely and talented Marylou.

Look who passed his spring exams and is now in rotations! A final-year vet student! Whee!

We are so pumped about this, y’all. It’s exciting for Gabriel to do some hands-on learning.

I’m happy to see the final year approaching even though it looks intense from a family life viewpoint. The schedule leaves a lot to be desired.  Gabriel leaves before the children are up in the morning and comes home usually an hour or so before their bedtime. He’s been home for dinner twice in the last two weeks. I don’t know how single moms ever, ever do it. At least our family knows this kind of thing has a deadline on it.

Before rotations started, Gabriel had two weeks off school, so obviously his schedule was a lot looser than it is now. When he went back, Bronwyn asked every morning, “Daddy home?” and kept asking it all. day. Now when she wakes up in the morning, some of her first words are, “Daddy school?” Aww.

With all the inconveniences aside, we are so happy to be heading into this last year of vet school. Gabriel is optimistic about rotations and is looking forward to the challenges of his last year of vet school. (Oohhh, those last phrases were fun to write.)

(I did not take this photo. Obviously.)

Yes, carrot salad. 🙂 Last week I made Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Lemon Basil Potato Salad for the fellowship meal at church. I had some of the dressing left over, and last night I was looking for a way to dress up cooked carrots. Creamy Lemon Basil Carrot Salad was born. I’ll give you the ingredients I used for the dressing. They differ slightly from those in the recipe I linked above because I didn’t have all the ingredients she used.

Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing:

Juice of two lemons
3 T. oil
1/2 – 3/4 C. mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
dried basil (the original recipe called for 1 T. basil pesto, which would be better)

Whisk ingredients together. Dice and cook some carrots until fork-tender. Allow to cool. Toss with dressing and fresh basil (chopped if using large leaves). Chill and serve.

Oh. my. goodness. I made an entire pot of carrots, and they disappeared in one meal. (Bronwyn ate them like candy!) This is a refreshing summer side dish and maybe even a bit healthier than potato salad. Enjoy!

The past month could be christened the Month of Guests. We were showered with overnight guests, y’all. I’ve been marinating a post about them, and now I have to write it or I never will — and our guests deserve to be written about.

One of the first ones to arrive was my brother Marcus all the way from Liberia. He was on his way home on furlough and stopped in for a few days to see us and meet our children for the first time. (Yes, you read that correctly. Isn’t that SAD? But it happens when you and your sibling live on different continents and your extended family lives on yet another.) We had a lovely five days with him, visiting a falcon show and touring the new Titanic museum in Belfast.

We had more overnight guests throughout the month . . . such as Hannah, Libby, and Quentin who came up to hear the King’s Singers perform in Dublin. (Did Gabriel and Jennifer go? No, we were tired. That, my friends, is what being parents, facing final exams, and getting old does to you.) Most of our guests were here for a night and flew out of Dublin airport the next day or vice versa. Roman and Ruth Kauffman’s family came up for a night, bringing birthday cake and ice cream for our dessert. (I turned 31 in May. (Now I know you’re wondering if Gabriel is that old. 😛 He’s three years younger–but he finally has a gray hair! Progress.))

Our last group of visitors was four ladies from America. Three of them were from Georgia, and I’d known them casually when I was growing up in South Carolina. Let me just say that their visit was like the proverbial balm in Gilead. The past three years in Dublin have been a lonely season for me, and these wise, gracious, kind ladies, three with SOUTHERN ACCENTS, were sent straight from heaven. In the two days they were here, they blessed us so much. The first night they made me sit down while they cleared away the supper leftovers and washed and dried the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, and all the while Ruby gave me the best head and neck massage I’ve had in years. And that’s just one example. I’m not even going into the family photos that Marylou took of us or the lovely and thoughtful hostess gifts they left. The last evening, one of them told me that in a sense (I can’t remember her exact words) she feels called to minister to lonely missionaries, and I almost cried because although we’re not missionaries by definition, I KNEW she’d been sent from God to us that week. Thank you, Lois, Marylou, Ruby, and Carolyn.

The ladies left us early on the morning of May 31. I stayed in my pajamas all day and did laundry, and it was a singularly satisfying way to end the Month of Guests.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 93 other followers