Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"I go off into Dublin and two days later I'm spotted walking by the Liffey with a whole bunch of new friends." - Ron Wood

When I first knew that we were moving to Dublin, I immediately began to try to translate New York to Dublin. We lived in New York City, so I wanted to live in, or very close to Dublin. I envisioned myself taking the boys to the museums like I did in New York. The more I tried, the more I realized, that I had to think differently. There is no place like New York. And there is no place like Dublin. I am very happy that we settled in a suburban area, even though it has been the biggest adjustment. I just don't get into "town" as often as I imagined that I would.

Having visitors is a great motivator to see the sights. Tricia and I saw a lot, and had a great time!

With my sister at the Brazenhead Pub. Thanks for the suggestion Uncle Brian!

The Brazenhead. Ireland's first Public House or "Pub" dating back to 1198. James Joyce is said to have written "Ulysses" here, and Van Morrison wrote "Brown Eyed Girl" here as well.

Windows at Christ Church Cathedral, founded by the Vikings in 1030.

Underground at in a tower at Dublin Castle. It once was above ground, and you can see where the bridge was filled in to prevent people entering the castle and spreading the plague.

St Patrick's Hall at Dublin Castle. The Presidential Inauguration is held here.

Sitting room at Dublin Castle.
The one remaining of the four towers at Dublin Castle.

Tricia at Kilmainham Jail.

In Dublin's fair city,
where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

(Lyrics to "Cockles and Mussels" taken from Wikipedia)

One of Tom's Christmas presents was a pair of theater tickets. And the my brother and his girlfriend are coming to visit. I am glad to have more plans to go to town!

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling."- Edna Ferber

This year I downloaded a lot of Christmas music on itunes. The majority of the songs that I chose were old ones, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Elvis. There is just something about those songs that bring back not just memories, but feelings of Christmases when I was growing up. My mom was always really into Christmas, and it was such a special time. These memories involve the anticipation of Christmas, and things that we did together, and the decorations and the smells that surrounded the house (pine needles, mulled cider).

For many years my whole family spent Christmas Eve in New York City to see the Radio City Show, have lunch, and see the tree. Later my parents began having a Christmas Eve open house where they invited friends to stop by on their way to or from seeing their families. We would end up with 200 people coming over throughout the day, many made that party their primary Christmas Eve plan!

Christmas as always a big deal for us, because my mom always made sure that it was. My idea of Christmas is made up of the wonderful traditions, memories and events that my mom created. I hope my boys have the same feelings about Christmas as they grow up. Thanks mom!

Having my sister here made Christmas extra special! We had a nice Christmas Eve dinner out, and everyone behaved very well (including Tom!). Then we went to mass. The processional hymn was "Oh Come All ye Faithful" sung by the congregation without a choir. Tricia said she felt as if she were in a movie. I did too.

We finally had the chimney sweep over and Tom has been building great fires ever since.

The Fireman Sam trucks were a good call Santa! If Santa finds out what generous Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and child minder and friends we have, he may skip our house next year!

The boys helped us all open our presents!

The stockings were hung by the staircase with care. (I didn't want to disturb the decorations or the fire!)

South Dublin Christmas tradition: jumping off the 40 foot.

We participated as spectators.

It was a beautiful Christmas morning and it was great to take a walk by the sea.

And of course I had to use my Christmas dishes!

I am grateful for such a nice Christmas. We missed being with all of our family. It was nice to skype the bros on Christmas Eve at Jimmy's, and Aunt Jane & JP on Christmas. We also spoke with Joan, Ted , Kem & the kids on Christmas. I would have loved to have seen my nephew Patrick open his presents too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers." - John J. Plomp

Here is a picture of one of my "babies" with his scooter. From moment to moment I think of them alternatively as babies and big boys. They are beginning to become much more inquisitive. "Mommy what is interested?" "what is lightning?" "what is die?"

Danny's affirmative answer is currently "of course". Both boys will tell me "I don't like that", "will you get me this?. They will argue and yell, "don't touch me!", "stop bugging me!"

I realize that in some ways I may always think of them as my babies . But they are at an age where they sometimes really look and act like babies. But they are noticeably growing up everyday, and it is amazing to see. My heart melts when I look at their baby pictures, but hearing "I love you Mommy!" or "I so missed you Mommy!" is tough to beat.

The other night, I received a text message (everybody texts like crazy here!) from my neighbor that said that I was becoming a real local. A pharmacy in the Village posts photos from local events, and we made the window this week. It's not really a big deal, but it certainly seemed like one when I heard about it. It made me feel just a bit more included. As time goes on, it seems to be a collection of these tiny things that help me feel more connected. And that makes me feel like this is becoming our home. For now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."-Dwight D. Eisenhower

I don't intend to liken Christmas to a battle. I only selected this quote because I identify with it so heartily. The act of planning or preparing helps me to feel organized, more confident and more comfortable. Admittedly, I get carried away from time to time and I forget the importance of living in the moment.

When it comes to Christmas, preparing can be some of the most fun. The sooner I get started, the longer it lasts. I try to make sure that part of the planning includes time management, so I don't get exasperated.

This year, I decorated the house just enough so that it looked festive and I enjoyed doing it. I also made a few different kinds of cookies to give to some neighbors, babysitter (childminder!) etc.. The selection is pictured above (they sure do look home-made!)

When my sister arrives next week some of the plans that I have made may seem to be useless. The weather may not cooperate, or the boys might be tired, but I certainly enjoy the anticipation of her visit. I imagine that we will all find our way to a great first Christmas in Ireland. An the preparation will be part of the memories.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive- the risk to be alive and express what we really are." M.Ruiz

The boys didn't have school today. Tomorrow is their Christmas pageant, and the other classes have theirs today so they needed the extra space. When the teacher told me about this unexpected day off, it occurred to me that I should invite the some of the moms over for coffee and a big playdate. Maybe I should invite all of them and see who can make it?

Then I thought: what if nobody comes? What if they feel obligated and don't really want to come? What if EVERYBODY comes?

Sometimes thoughts will occur to me and I will follow through with them even though I am afraid. Sometimes I just take the safe route by telling myself that I can easily get away with not doing it, I am too busy or I find some other fantastic reason to put it out of my mind and get on with my day- to- day life.

I remember when I was a freshman in college and I saw a sign advertising a meeting for people who wanted to run for Freshman Class Representative. Something inside me said: "you should do that!". It scared me, but the thought of regretting not doing it scared me even more. I went to the meeting, and realized that running and losing was the scariest part of the whole process. So I went door to door in the dorms by myself, talking to people about why they should vote for me. I won one of the 2 Freshman Class Rep positions. I learned a lot from that, but I realize now how motivated by fear I was. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I can't think of one thing that I did on behalf of our Freshman class. I was not passionate about student government, I was afraid to miss an opportunity to win an election and have a title. To be known for something.

I have a few friends that are doing things that really inspire me. My friend Susan just published a video on her web site, http://downtownsusiebrown.blogspot.com. She writes a shopping blog about Saratoga, NY where she lives. Susan has cultivated relationships with the local store owners and her blog encourages readers to patronize the shops in town by featuring great items that are available, sales and promotions and giveaways. DTSB even has shopping events that bring shoppers to the stores and raise money for charity. She is doing something that she loves and is good at, and she is helping people as she does it. Susan isn't even exactly sure where she wants to take DTSB in the future- but that is what is most inspiring!

My friend Elizabeth discovered that she had food allergies a few years ago. Already a talent in the kitchen, she created recipes that do not include dairy, nuts, gluten, wheat etc.. She just published a book: Allergy-Free Desserts: Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Nut-Free Delights. Elizabeth turned a challenge into a business and she is helping other people at the same time!

I am so proud of Susan and Elizabeth for taking risks and working towards a dream. The don Miguel Ruiz quote above encouraged me to look again at The Four Agreements.

Five of the moms came over, and we had a great time. But I know that it was a good idea even if nobody had come, and I am so glad that I did it.

Notice all the girls that my boys are friends with- just like in NY!

They all played so nicely!

Moms Chatting

Such nice girls!

The aftermath

(Section below taken from http:/miguelruiz.com)

The Four Agreements®

The Four Agreements

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall."- Larry Wilde

Yeah OK, but what about the shape? This week I was over at a friend's house and she had just gotten her tree. It was very big and she was very happy with it, but I have to say that it was not, um, what I would expect. It had a few big gaps along the stem. Let me also mention that my parents, particularly in recent years, have gotten the most gigundo (mom's word) tree. Seriously, from floor to ceiling and just as wide. But always very even and filled in, a criteria that I always had for selecting a beautiful Christmas Tree.

This morning we set out to find this years' Yuletide Topiary. The plan was to have the boys' help us pick it out, and we have been talking to them about it all week. We got a very early start, so we stopped off at Homebase, Ireland's answer to Home Depot. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the Christmas Tree place the boys were asleep. So I ran out and picked one out by myself. I think it looks like a very nice shorter tree, with a UFO hovering above it. Tom keeps suggesting different ways to cover up the huge bald spot, while I am opting to try to accept our tree for who he is.

For me, the tree is all about setting the mood in the room and decorating it all together- which we did.

We got the tree at Blackrock College (google it), a secondary school for boys that has a long history and a very strong alumni network. Anyway, it was great to see a little of that campus. I jumped out the car and there were students all over the place volunteering at the tree sale. The school does it every year, and they raise money for St. Vincent de Paul. Two of them greeted me right away, and saw me through the whole process, from pulling out as many trees as I wanted to see, to putting it in the stand and tying it to the car. They were so polite and hard working and had a lot of enthusiasm for the school. It was very impressive.

If we lived here permanently, we would love to have our boys on the track for Blackrock. Since we are here for an undetermined amount of time, we found a great school for the boys and we just found out that they were accepted for the fall. Yippie!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Christmas! 'Tis the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial fire of charity in the heart." - Washington Irving

Happy Birthday BG!

Today is my brother Brian's birthday, and another brother Jaffe's is in a couple of weeks (they are 11 months apart). That means that it is almost Christmas!

The village looks beautiful, the lights are all the same above every store. I just started my decorations today, and we are getting our tree this weekend. The shopping has begun, although there is lots more to do. The kids are really aware of Christmas this year. They are singing all of the songs they are learning for their school Christmas concert next week! ere is one of my favorites:

(sung to Freres Jacques)

Father Christmas, Father Christmas
He got stuck, He got stuck
Coming down the chimney, Coming down the chimney
What bad luck! What bad Luck!

We had 2 great playdates this week. Hopefully, it will be a fun-filled Christmas in Dublin. My sister will be here in 2 weeks, and we are very excited!

Last weekend we went to see Santa in his workshop at a farm. They had a great set up, where we could see Santa privately, and he spent about 10 minutes with us. And the boys even got a toy. It was very cute.

We even visited Daddy's office. An annual Christmas favorite!

And a very Happy Birthday to my friend Lisa too!

Lastly, it is the end of an era. My family has had 3 Golden Retrievers over last 13 years, and yesterday the last one passed away. Riles, you were a beautiful sweet dog and we loved you! You will always be remembered!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine." - Mike Murdock

Now there is something to think about! And I have been thinking of that since we returned from our trip. Am I living the life I would like to live? Certainly, I have everything I need and just about everything I want. It is so easy to get distracted from doing the everyday things that keep me from living in the day-in the moment.

For example, I used to make my bed everyday. I had heard someone say once that they started making their bed every morning and, if nothing else, it made them feel more organized, and gave them a good start to the day. I found that to be true as well. When I was about 7 months pregnant with my twins, I stopped sleeping but for the 30 minute nap here and there. I didn't even bother getting into bed, I just stayed out on the couch. So, for a while, it became Tom's bed. Oh, and I couldn't fit between the wall and the bed. Then after the boys were born, I had fantasies about maybe getting back into bed for a nap at some point. Never happened. So the bed would be made once a week when the cleaning lady came.

There are many areas that I am pretty happy about. I spent a lot of quality time with my kids. I enjoy and value it so much that it is easy move other things so far down on the priority list that they disappear. I can do better (right? most of us can).

An important component that slips in and out of my routine, besides excercise, is prayer and reflecting on my day. I have so many wonderful intentions to live in this lovely, peaceful, centered, organized way, but I forget to just ask myself "what can I do today?"

I had a bumpy re-entry back into Dublin. First of all, we came back to this:

And we had just left this:

The end of our trip was just as great as the beginning. We had our annual dinner with our friends the day after Thanksgiving. Sadly, this was the first year without Peter who passed away in September. Amazingly, Sam and Nick were there. I admire them very much. It was so nice to see them, and to be there with them.

The day we left, we went to see the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular". It was so good. We were all so happy to be there, and then so sad to say goodbye.

After one week, I am happy to be back. The boys are thrilled to be back at school. We are getting excited for Christmas and my sister's arrival. We had 2 playdates and I had 2 coffee dates.

And I made my bed this morning.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."- Marcel Proust

November 25th, my 41st Birthday followed by Thanksgiving Day I felt so grateful. First, to be alive, healthy and loved with so many extras piled on top. I had many notes and email and calls with good wishes. My good friend Michele took me out to dinner for more Mexican (get it while you can!). I saw Terri on Wednesday and then had lunch with my boys, Mikey, KG & Meg. Tom gave me a beautiful ring with a blue topaz (my birthstone). The best part about it was that he picked it out a couple of months ago. He thought of my birthday way in advance. It's beautiful. I love it. That night we went to my future sister-in-law's family's house. They were all so nice. Her brother and I share a birthday and her Dad and my brother Brian are not far behind. We had a joint celebration. Celebrating many things.

Thanksgiving Day was one of the best ever. I was so glad to see us all together, healthy and happy. And there is more to come. We will be back in New York in March for Kerry & Brian's Wedding, and we will be able to meet Frosty. So exciting.

This year we spent Thanksgiving at a restaurant that was an old coach house. We have spent a few holidays there over the years, and we had a great time this year. It was a beautiful fall day, and we were there early enough to spend some time in the little "village" that they have. So nice!

Because we will not be together at Christmas, we decided to do our Christmas gifts at Thanksgiving. In past years, My sister, brothers and their wives/ fiances/ girlfriends would pick a name out of a hat and get one gift for that person- Kris Kringle style! This year, we decided to copy Megs family's idea of "Best Gift Under $20". Everyone did really well and it was so funny. I got a great Picture Calendar from Kerry that I love. Jimmy went all out with a survival Kit for Kerry which included a personalized "Fart Fogger" (pictured above). Brian won with a shadowbox filled with my Dad's High School Medals. Very Nice. All of the gifts were so thoughtful and that was the best part.

My Sisters-in-law- I love them all (whew!)

We had such a great time at the Milleridge Inn! Thanks Mom & Dad! I barely got to catch up with Joanne, but thankfully, she and Mike will visit in January.

I love seeing my kids having fun with their aunts and uncles!

And their Dad!

Snowman lollipops- another creative touch by Meg.

Two very special days, I feel so blessed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"These streets will make you feel brand new,big lights will inspire you. Let's hear it for New York" - Jay Z

Uh Oh. I didn't feel homesick at all until I got to New York. It really didn't help that the weather was fantastic and the leaves were still turning. Or that we got to see so many friends and our great families too. We didn't get to see everyone, but we covered as much ground as we could! The kids were great and held up so well (with 1 or 2 breakdowns). Friday we saw our friends from the East Side, we all have kids the same age. I miss them a lot, and it was great to see them. Thankfully, my awesome sister came in to babysit. That afternoon she and I went out for Mexican (scarce in Ireland) and a little shopping. It really was exhilarating.

On Saturday, went up to Providence to see Tom's Brother & Sister, and Sister-in-Law, and we were surprised by our neice, Molly! It was great to see them. We were also able to have a nice visit with Tom's Aunt Jane and cousin JP. The boys were so happy to be with them all, and Ted & Kem's dog Max too! Unfortunately, Tom lost his phone, and really unfortunately we had some nice pics on it of us with Aunt Joan at the State House. There were also pictures of the third generation of Tom's family at a local playground. But we had fun, and their old family friends came to join us as well. I did manage to take this though!

On Monday, we met KG, Meg & Mikey at the ESPN Zone. I got to see Meg's belly, and she looks beautiful. I can't wait to meet my new neice! Or nephew! Or niece! We really felt like tourists that night and we kind of liked it.

Tuesday was Miss Mary, John and Mary Ann day. It was really just like old (4 months ago) times. She took the boys to the park and made them a grilled cheese. Then we went to the West side and played in a playground with my friend Catherine and her son and new baby boy. I was beginning to say, "what Ireland?"

I am still grateful for the opportunity to live in Ireland, but I LOVE New York!!!!!!