Tag Archives: travel

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Standard

I love to travel.  There is nothing better than zipping away to an exciting destination.  But my favorite time to step foot on a plane is when I know my family is waiting on the other end.

Everyone loves their family but many people prefer theirs at a distance.  I love my family just as much from Arizona as I do snuggled head-toe on Christmas Eve in Maine…. But much prefer the latter.  The reason being is that they add such an incredible richness to my life.  I find myself laughing more than worrying when I’m with them… and caring more about love and happiness than how much I weigh or my finances.

I worry a lot… it’s in my nature.  I worry a lot about the future, my “timelines,” what my legs look like in my bathing suit, what I eat, if my boss notices how hard I work.  But my family – the whole extended kit and caboodle – pulls me back to reality and reminds me that the best moments in life are ones where we really relish in the PRESENT; moments that are often immeasurable and unplanned.

I’ve just gotten back from a 30-hour trip to Massachusetts.  I left Friday night on a red-eye to Logan to make it to Steve and Whitney’s wedding.  When my entire family pulled up curbside at 7:00 am – meaning they were up before 5 am – I hopped into the cramped little rental care and the laughter and chatter began immediately.  I ADORE morning people 🙂

After arguing over directions and almost being run off the road twice by the ever-loved “Massholes,” we settled into a booth at IHOP, filling our bellies with yummy breakfast and coffee – and I didn’t calculate calories in my head once.  After a three hour cat nap at the Homewood Suites in Peabody, 4 girls and 1 poor, poor man scrambled around, attempting to shower, flat iron, curl dress and make-up faces (with one bathroom) for a huge Buckley family wedding.

When we got to the beautiful stone manor venue, overlooking the rocky, Atlantic coast, I was engulfed in a fury of hugs and booming personalities.  It felt so good to feel that warmth and energy on a warm September afternoon.  If you are from a big, loud family, you know that this energy is always welcome and never overwhelming.  It feels more normal than anything else.  This is hard for people from quiet, more calm families to understand – I always think back to My Big Fat Greek Wedding as the perfect analogy.

When the ceremony began in a simple, outdoor setting, I couldn’t help but smile at how relaxed and happy the bride and groom looked.  They worked hard for their special day and the important piece (having found a soulmate in one another), was obvious.  This type of love always makes me happy to witness because it is so rare and beautiful; that kind of love that seems unencumbered by the unimportant things in life.  Everyone in the wedding party was stunning and when my sweet little cousins (ages 4 and 2) filed down the aisle as flower girl and ring bearer, so so excited to see their uncles and dad at the altar, it made me love even more how big and close my family is.

The reception was to die-for… no formal fussy dinner, but rather an open bar, beer trough, and stations set up with the likes of fried clams, scallops, french fries and sliders… even mini ice cream cones for dessert!  Truly the best wedding food EVER.  The venue was enchanting and frozen in time –stone walls, twinkle lights, crown molding, hardwood floors and rooms full of quintessential New England charm.  I love old houses, beautifully crafted wood details, rooms overlooking the ocean – so much more interesting than the Pottery Barn copycats you see today.

When the dancing began, no one could keep their feet still and though my toes are now completely numb from new heels, we never sat down once.  At one point (my favorite point), the skies opened up and it started to pour.  Most people would’ve been very distraught – what did my cousins and I do?  Immediately threw off our shoes and ran into the rain, laughing and dancing together, toes squishing in the warm mud.  And then a few uncles joined… and aunts… and my parents… and the bride (in her white dress!) and groom.  I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live.  I’ll never forget feeling more blessed and thankful to have been born into this big, amazing family where no one waits for the ideal conditions to kick up their heels and enjoy a moment.  That is truly a gift and an ability that many never develop.

The end of the 30 hours of fun took place at family brunch this morning at my aunt and uncle’s cozy house in the woods.  With plates filled with bacon, eggs, fruit and donuts, we all continued catching up, sharing stories, and giggling as sweet little William and Neila ran through the house playing make-believe, stopping now and then for an impromptu hug.

Getting back on the plane to Arizona is never easy for me, but this time, I tried to sit down on the plane and just let the joy I experienced this weekend wash over me from head to toe.  I hate with every fiber of my being living so far from family and always will (sorry, friends, this is something most people in my shoes simply don’t ever get used) but I do know that I have been given so much by being born into this family and no matter how far apart, we are always close in spirit.  No matter how long it has been, it’s like it was just yesterday.  And luckily for me, although the throes of adulthood have made it harder to see each other often, no one can take away the most magical childhood and incredible memories I have locked in my soul growing up with these people.

These people with the likes of a groom who refills the beer at his own wedding to make sure his guests have fun, cousins who set off fireworks from the ocean for their brother during a reception, cousins in the military who are not always able to attend these events because they are fighting for their country, uncles who still meet at 6 am on Sundays to fish down river and can fix anything with their bare hands, and aunts who have brought up some of the kindest, most thoughtful, funny and interesting sons and daughters you will ever have the pleasure of knowing.

I hope my own kids are blessed like this someday.  I often worry that I will never be able to replicate the life I had growing up.  BUT, I’m going to try really hard – because it was from these people that I learned that there is nothing in the WORLD more important than family and love.  You can die with a million dollars in your bank account or $1, but if you do not have warm, beautiful memories in your heart of the people you love, none of it matters anyway.

Slainte, my big crazy Irish family… until we meet again ❤

Revolving Doors.

Standard

Well, after a week in Maine, a week with Mimi visiting, a few fun evenings with Erika, Mitchell and Taylor and four days with Ashley, I think our revolving door has stopped (if only for a moment).  It has been so wonderful to have so much time with friends and family over the past month – it certainly helps to bridge the distance between Arizona and Maine/Massachusetts!  And Chris has been a real sport – it isn’t easy to have other people’s friends and family in your space constantly but he has done a wonderful job helping to clean and re-clean the house, act as a tour guide and host and patiently sit through hours of the Bachelorette.  For that I am grateful 🙂

Another thing that I am grateful for is the chance to show other people where we live and introduce them to our favorite places and spaces. We have been loyal patrons at 5th and Wine, Jade Bar, Kazimierz, the Mission and most recently, Praying Monk (YUM!) … we have also enjoyed trying new bars like Distrito and Old Town Whiskey!  I even got up to North Scottsdale with Ashley to see Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arizona home.  I’d post pictures and links, but I think Ashley’s blog will do all of this much better justice than mine will.  The bottom line is, the more you are able to bring friends and family into your new space, the more it feels familiar and that is a definite step in the right direction when it comes to adjusting to a new place. 

In my mind, this is how we celebrate an almost one year anniversary of a Maine girl in AZ.

Now that we are moving into the second half of the summer, I am excited about Jon and Shannon’s upcoming New Hampshire nuptials, getting to know the rest of the Board of Directors at Singleton Moms during our July happy hour and board meetings, diving into some fun event planning and AZ Vocal Project rehearsals (this group seriously gets more fun every week) and maybe even sneaking into the lazy river at the Westin Kierland!  So sad it was closed when we were visiting Erika & co….

Oh, oh and before I forget, Chris and I did find a fun way to ring in the fourth – at Tempe Beach Park!  We watched the fireworks, listened to live music and had some late night beer and apps on Mill Avenue afterward.  Very happy we were able to find some great festivities.  I would certainly recommend it to Arizonans – especially ones who are not intimidated by a fairly overwhelming crowd of people in the dead of summer in the valley.

Though life has been wild and fun lately, I’ve still been wrestling on and off with feelings of homesickness BUT I will say that between the great family and friends around me and some wise words of wisdom I received recently, things are looking up. 

One last quick question for anyone who cares – where in the world are Ice and Coco?  I’ve been scheming on how to run into them since we moved out here and so far, no dice.  If any of you have been keeping tabs on their show and can give me any leads, I’d love it!

XO – stay cool!

Sleepless in Scottsdale

Standard

Profound thought for the day: What’s it like when a beach baby becomes a mountain woman?  I will tell you what it’s like.   The ocean for me has and always will represent vast tranquility, comfort and an escape.  It represents warm Maine summers and sunset swims and cold Maine winters bundled up in Bean Boots and a scarf.  It is the one place from home that goes unchanged and does not become overdeveloped, sold or torn down.

The mountains, in contrast, represent a new kind of comfort.  They are different and exciting and challenging.  They surround you and make you feel small and insignificant… until you climb to the top of their peaks and feel larger than life again.  When I think of the ocean and I think of the mountains, it feels like a direct metaphor for life as I know it.  The cozy, familiar comfort of the Atlantic blue versus the exhilarating, challenging and rewarding climb to new heights.  I digress….

…It’s been a busy few weeks for M & C.  After getting back from our wonderful trip to Sedona, we’ve been taking time to get to know our own backyard better and rest our suitcases (and our wallets) from all of our holiday travels.   The greatest accomplishment (for me at least) was hiking to the TOP of Piestewa Peak!  {See profound thought above.} It’s a little crowded and overstimulating if you are looking for a peaceful morning out in nature, but there is a great energy of hungry hikers and a beautiful view at the top. The first time we tried to hike it, I quit halfway through and was horribly disappointed with myself.  But on Presidents Day, I gave it another try and was so happy that I completed the trek.  Definitely check this one out.  Takes about an hour to hike round trip (if you are moderately – or barely – athletic like I am).

A few new restaurants to add to the list as well!  The top of the list belongs to Hiro Sushi (which I was taken to on Valentine’s Day…. so fun!).  Oh my word, I grew up in an Irish Catholic household in Maine so to say I know what authentic Japanese food should taste like is a big fat lie.  But trust me on this – it is AMAZING.  Hole in the wall in appearance and hidden within a strip mall in Scottsdale, it’s not a place that you drive by and notice.  But hunt it out and give it a whirl; your taste buds will NOT be disappointed.   By far the best sushi I/we have had in Arizona!

Two other restaurants to try out:  Grazie, an Italian pizzeria in Old Town with a Nutella/Banana desert to DIE for and Scratch, a healthy, gourmet bakery and restaurant.  I loved my seared tuna sandwich, but the Mogador dark chocolate mousse with raspberry was the highlight of my experience.  Do yourself a favor and throw calorie counting out the window when you have the chance to visit these two hot spots.

One place I would not recommend for those uninterested in reliving their WILD college nights is Martini Ranch.  Chris and I popped over there last Friday for a G Love & Special Sauce concert and it took 45 minutes to get inside (with pre-purchased tickets, mind you) and was one huge drunk fest.  Concert was musically fabulous, however.  Way to go G Love!  AND, the Strong Beer Festival in Tempe that we hit up the next day was tons of fun… nice and warm and PLENTY of beer to drink.  Except be careful – you get 14 tastings and we each only completed 7.  And THAT was pushing it.

Next on the list is going to have to be Spring Training…. Can’t wait to lie on the grass with a hot dog and beer and bask in America’s favorite pastime.  More to come soon!

XOXO

Sleepless in Scottsdale

This slideshow requires JavaScript.