Exactly one year ago today our family moved to Ireland. Reflecting back, Lisa and I both agree it was probably the fastest year of our lives. It just doesn’t really seem possible that it has been a full year already. It seems like yesterday we landed in our new host country.

That day, travel-weary as we were, we made our way to Sutton to our new, but temporary, home on Burrow Rd. When we arrived and started to settle in, it all seemed a bit surreal, like, we were here, but, was all this really happening? Were we really in a new country, in a new house, on the BEACH! starting a completely new and different chapter in our lives? It didn’t seem possible, yet, there we were.

Our First Day!
Our first day living in Ireland!

I’m pretty sure that surreal feeling lasted a few months. Every day was a new beginning, a new learning lesson, a new experience. There was always something to be amazed by, something to be perplexed by, something to learn, and something to adjust to, in addition to just ‘being’, just living your everyday life.

It should be no surprise, then, that a year passed in the blink of an eye. When every day is filled with wonder, time just flies. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush, really. You no longer have a “normal routine”. Every day is filled with blazing new trails and finding new ways of doing things. It feels like being a pioneer exploring new frontiers. Your senses are heightened and your heart pumps a little stronger. The fight or flight instinct is never too far below the surface. And that’s a rush! And this went on for months.

A new house, new cars, new village, new country, new rules, new ways of driving, another new house, new schools, new friends…new new new. And then, at some point, maybe 6 months into it, it hit me: this doesn’t seem so new anymore. It seems like, normal life. And we all felt it. It’s the kind of thing that creeps in little by little over time and then, all of a sudden, you become aware of it.

That is a special and unique feeling. Someone once told us that moving to Ireland would be like going back home. That has stuck in my head for some reason, partly because it seems so true. Being here does have a home-like feeling. To think that in such a short time we could feel so settled says a couple things.

First, it says that the culture in Ireland is not too different than what we are used to in the States. Yes, there are plenty of differences, but they are minor in comparison to the differences we would notice if we moved to, say, Japan. Here, we speak the same language, we enjoy similar sports, we talk about the same things. Our similarities far outweigh our differences.

Second, it says that it was a good move for us as a family. Kenzey was already making changes as she was going to start the next leg of her educational journey at UCD. Not only was she starting a new school, but college…living away from her family…in a new country. It’s a lot to take on, but she had us just down the road backing her up, and she knew that.

First day at UCD
Leaving for Mekenzey’s first day at UCD!

The little girls had to leave their comfort zones and start new here in Ireland. Any time you disrupt your kids’ school lives there is a bit of risk involved. Suddenly, they are the “new kids” in town. We just happened to find a school where being the new kid is kind of the norm. Since it is an international school, kids tend to come and go and because of that, they all have a certain level of empathy towards each other which makes the transition just a bit easier.

First day at SPS
First day at Sutton Park School!

Straightaway all of our girls began making new friends who would later turn out to be extremely special to them. They are excited to go to school. They are excited to participate in cool activities. And because of their enthusiasm, they just radiate happiness and contentment. Watching them day in and day out I still am amazed at how much energy they put into everything they do. Yea, it’s a parent thing, but I like being amazed by my kids.

We have always been a pretty tight family, but without a doubt, this journey has brought us even closer. It isn’t every day that each person in a family has a new experience, together, at the same time. But here it happens all the time. If we are together, and we are out of the house, there is a good chance we are doing something that none of us has ever done or going somewhere none of us has ever gone…and that’s pretty cool.

Port Eliot Festival
Port Eliot – our first international festival!

It is probably not possible to summarize in words what this past year has added to each our lives. Each and every one of us has grown in ways which we didn’t think possible. The fabric of our lives has taken on new patterns and new colors, making it richer than ever before. Our eyes have been opened to new thoughts, ideas, perceptions, and more. It’s kind of like the opposite of losing a limb; it’s like growing a new one. All of a sudden we have a new appendage, a new tool, to help us through life. We have enhanced old skills and gained some new ones and I, for one, love new tools.

So at the halfway mark of this journey, I’d say things really couldn’t be better. We are looking forward to the next year here. We are likely going to be swapping houses yet again and we are all looking forward to it. We are trading our amazing location in Malahide for a house that is going to add to our lives in many other ways. And, we have plenty more adventures already in the works starting out with the motherland, Colorado, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and Greece! In the immortal words of Ronnie van Zant, here comes that ol’ travelin’ jones once again!

You got that right

In closing, here are some pictorial highlights of the last year…