Monday, August 31, 2009

"Some think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's letting go." - Sylvia Robinson

Off they go, out into the world! Well, the world of preschool, which is a whole new world for them. It will be a new world for me as well. As the boys begin to do their "own thing", I will be doing my own thing as well. It's strange, you do get used to doing everything for your babies, anticipating what they need, planning activities so that you can all enjoy the days instead of driving yourself crazy. I will still be doing all of this, but I will have some time without the boys for the first time in a while.

There are plenty of things that I want to do, go to the gym, set up the house, meet some friends, start cooking, etc.. I want to ease into it rather than take it all on and burn out. Until we move, I will be hanging around the towns near school since I don't yet have a house to return to. It will be nice to get the lay of the land by myself.

Maybe I will sit at a coffee shop and read my book for a while. It's a pretty interesting and true story about the raid on Baltimore, Ireland by some pirates from Algiers in 1631. They took almost the entire village prisoner and held them as slaves in North Africa. It's called "The Stolen Village" by Des Ekin. The book talks a lot about piracy, and just how precarious life was for most people in the 17th Century!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

No matter how tall your grandfather was, you have to do your own growing. - Irish Proverb

Tomorrow is the boys' first day of school! I am excited, but as usual, I have a little resistance to each new stage. Tom and I went to the orientation night last Friday, which means that we also had a babysitter- excuse me, child minder- for the first time in Ireland. She was very nice and we felt comfortable with her, as did the boys. We have made a lot of progress on the external forces of happiness, which seem to have impacted my internal happiness. Car: outside. GPS: installed. Preschool: determined. Naps: resumed!

I am thrilled to have some structure on the horizon and I know that the boys will love going to school. They are primed for some friends! Even though I have driven by myself and feel OK, we will take the train to school until I feel more confident. I am surprised that driving on the left is not what throws me. It's the narrow roads. You often have to pull over to let cars pass. I am going to drive every day. I already feel much better about it than I thought I would.

This morning we went to the Dublin Zoo, with some new friends that we know through some friends in New York. We had a great time. My favorite animals are the elephants, and they did not disappoint. They are amazing! The video that I took reminds me of Tommy & Danny. Tommy doing what he wants, and Danny trying to boss him around!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are."- David C. McCullough

Thomas Francis Meagher

Eamon De Valera

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been reading books written by Irish Authors in preparation of our move to Ireland. Although I began with fiction, I had always intended to learn more about the true history of Ireland. As a descendant as well as a new resident, I felt a responsibility to know at least the basics. As I began to read, I noticed that the threads of history were woven throughout all of the fictional stories. It is almost as if it is difficult, if not impossible, to write a story about Irish people without at least some subtle reference to the history.

Now that I am here, I have begun to investigate the actual events that occurred here, the people involved and the impact that they have on life here today. The more I learn, the more that I regret not knowing these things before. I am also reminded that all nations and peoples have histories and how little I really know about those. But I will stay focused for the moment.

Before I left, my Uncle Brian called me with some guidance and advice. He has spent lots of time here and has made many connections. He is also the most knowledgable person on my mom's side when it comes to our ancestry. One of the places he told me that I had to see was Kilmainham Jail. I have not been yet, but I have read an interesting book about Kilmainham which was written by it's former archivist. It is called "Every Dark Hour" by Niamh O'Sullivan.

Ms. O'Sullivan tells the story of the Jail through the prisoners who were detained there, many of whom were political prisoners. One prisoner, Thomas Francis Meagher, was an Irishman who fought for Irish Independence, and was eventually exiled to Tasmania. After an escape, he fled to the United States where he formed the Irish Brigade, made up of predominantly Irish immigrants who fought in the Civil War. Meagher and the Irish Brigade had a huge impact on major battles in the Civil War, as well as improving the perception of Irish Immigrants.

Another Kilmainham prisoner, Eamon De Valera was born in New York to an Irish mother and a Cuban father. He was raised in Ireland and attended Blackrock College, which is close to where we will live and still has a great reputation for education as well as sports. De Valera or "Dev" was spared execution at Kilmainham probably due to his American citizenship. His political career began in 1908 and ended at his death in 1975.

I hesitated to mention any of these figures in my blog, knowing that a few short sentences could never encompass their contributions. But I decided to write what I did because I only learn history when I discuss history, and because maybe a reader might just be intrigued enough to learn a little more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation." - Don Draper

This is just my little homage to the lead character on my favorite show, Mad Men. It airs on Sunday nights at 10pm on AMC. For you fans out there who just moved to Dublin, you can buy the episodes on itunes about one week later. I just watched the first two, and I am already dreading the season being over. As soon as something I want is realized, I start worrying about it going away. Not the way I want to be, and have made great strides, but it recurs.

Mad Men is sort of the perfect TV storm for me. It is set in the early 60's, a time glamorized for me by my mother, and is centered around an industry that I used to be involved in: advertising. That said, the reason the show is so amazing is because the characters are interesting and wonderfully cast, and the writing is superb.

I guess that is why I also love "In Treatment" on HBO. It is written in a creatively authentic way and very well acted. "In Treatment" is also about psychotherapy which greatly interests me, and which I think should be mandatory for most people. I jest.

Perhaps I have not given these Irish and British shows a chance. I am sure there are some gems on the air here, but Tom and I frequently find ourselves watching American Movies that we would probably have never watched in New York. Some of these include "Miss Potter" (about Beatrix Potter with Renee Zellweger), "Coach Carter" (basketball movie with Samuel L. Jackson) and "School of Rock" (with Jack Black). If you know my husband, it probably surprises you that he watched these movies, and somewhat enjoyed them! Particularly "School of Rock", we were both laughing at that one.

It won't be long before we find a way to watch our old favorites: "The First 48", "Intervention" or "Any show where people are playing or discussing sports". Until then, I will try to live a life worth blogging about.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"The holly green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you've ever seen"- J. Redmond, J. Cavanaugh & F. Weldon

Those are, of course, some lyrics to "Christmas in Killarney", a song I feel I have always known. That song certainly leaves you with a magical feeling about Killarney and there is a reason for that! What a weekend we had!

Miss Mary & John, our dear friends from New York, are vacationing there for the month, so we hopped on the train and went out to see them. We all loved the train- it was so easy, and our seats were facing each other, two seats on each side with a table in the middle. Our names were even electronically displayed above the seats reserving them for us. As we passed through the Irish countryside, we saw cows, sheep, horses, farms and lots and lots of green! The boys were looking for elephants, but we didn't see any of those.

Miss Mary arranged for us to take a "jaunting car" (that's a horse and buggy) around the park which was so beautiful. We stopped at Ross Castle and saw the Lakes Killarney and even spotted some deer. The boys loved it, and so did we.

The first night that we were there, Miss Mary asked her niece to take Tom and I up to the Gap of Dunloe which is one of the big sights to see in Killarney. Unfortunately, we did not make it all the way up. Tom's motion sickness demanded that we abandon the curvy roads. It's OK, we will be back. If Tom is the driver he will be ready to go, and we can bring the boys too!

It was a perfect mix of visiting friends, seeing the beauty of Killarney and toddler fun. The key to our travels will be balancing the things that Tom and I want to do with the things that the boys need to do. I think we got it right this time.

While we were there, I also finished "Secret Scripture" by Sebastian Barry. A truly excellent book. I just started a book called "Every Dark Hour" by Niamh O'Sullivan. It's about the history of Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. I have not visited yet, but this book should make it even more interesting!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"There is nothing better than birthday cake. It's like a slice of concentrated love with buttercream frosting."- T. Ikkaku, A. Hosaka and T.Kawabata

Breithl√° shona duit! That is Irish for "Happy Birthday". Though I cannot pronounce it, it certainly was my wish to my husband on his special day yesterday. It was Tom's first birthday in Ireland, and I decided to mark it with a sports theme. That is kind of a go-to theme for him, and I know it does get old, but there is a whole new world of sports here.

Since he is just becoming familiar with all of the rules and regulations of Hurling, Rugby and Football and has not pledged allegiance to any teams yet, I went for the Rugby team of our region. The above shirt represents Leinster, which would be the Rugby favorite in the region we live in. I am not going to describe this any further for fear of sounding as unknowlegable as I truly am about this. It's a nice shirt though!

We celebrated by going to the immigration office and letting the Guarda know that we are here. I won't go into the details, but you can imagine. Think DMV. Then we came home and sang Happy Birthday and had some chocolate supermarket cake, which was actually pretty good.

Tomorrow we are off to Killarney for a few days to See Miss Mary & John, our very good friends from New York who are there for the month of August. We will be taking the train, and look forward to seeing the country as we pass through. I am really looking forward to three days away with my three boys!

Last but in no way least- we have a car! Well, we will get it next week, but yippie!!!!!!! Still trying to nail down plans for the boys, this Fall, but we are making progress. Here we go, it's starting to get exciting!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."- Henry David Thoreau

I was getting ready to re-name this blog" The Sad-Sack Chronicles". Luckily, I was able to accept a few things that I cannot change. If the boys will not nap here, then I guess I must re-structure the day. We are in Dublin! A new city! I decided that we should head out and see what we could see.

We went to the beach, the park, shopped in a few new stores, and went to St. Stephen's Green. It was really fantastic. The boys are just happy to be together, dig, pick up sticks, splash in puddles and be outside. Taking action was the best medicine for me.

The locals here say to dress for all four seasons because you will see them all in one day. I am finding this to be true. You can't stay inside because there is a huge black cloud covering the sky. It might rain, or maybe the cloud will just go away. Not a bad metaphor for life.

Soon I will be driving on the left. We found a car that we liked, and the salesman drove the car to our apartment so we could look at it. Then he came upstairs to discuss the sale. Barring any snags due to our lack of history in Ireland, we will have a car very soon. Oh, and they pick it up for service and bring you a car to use while it is being serviced. Very nice.

Tomorrow is my hubby's birthday. I hope I can scrape together a nice little party for him. He really deserves it this year! Thanks honey, for loving me when I am behaving in a way that is unlikeable.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Everything troubles you and the cat breaks your heart. - Irish Proverb

I really don't know what this means, but it seems to make sense to me. I just can't seem to push through the wall of discouragement! Just when I think I am levelling off, I discover that it is still there. Lurking.

I am astonished at how quickly my outlook changes, and what causes the changes. Tonight Tom handed me the computer and the lower half of the screen disappeared, went blurry. Crestfallen is the word that best describes how I felt. As soon as "Akeehlah and the Bee" was over I was going to bed. What is the point of staying up? The most trivial things can send me into a downward spiral.

My husband is very tuned in to my fragile state. He is trying very hard to take care of me, which alone is a boost. As I was plotting my retirement to bed, he went to find his work laptop and diligently figured out the very complicated wi-fi system that we have going here. Now I am back online, emotionally stable and hoping that I am as thoughtful to Tom as he is to me.

This afternoon we took the boys to the park and noticed how social they are becoming. Danny was playing ball with a little girl and said, "Isn't this great?". I believe that Tommy thinks he is 11. He went over to some older boys with a branch in his hand and said, "I have a stick!" with all the confidence that they would be a psyched about it as he was.

Finally, I want to mention a book that I am reading. It's called Secret Scripture by an Irish author named Sebastian Barry. In preparation of our move to Ireland, I began to read books by Irish authors. It's an incredible way to learn about our new home, the culture and the history of Irish people. Stay tuned for some great book suggestions by Irish authors!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Abundance is, in large part, an attitude." - Sue Patton Thoele

Today, we were planning on visiting some friends of a friend of ours in New York. This family moved to Dublin a couple of years ago, and they graciously invited us to "tea" this afternoon. Right before we were to leave, Danny cut his finger and it was bleeding pretty badly. I guess this is my week to figure out the healthcare system in Ireland. We went to the Doctor earlier in the week for false alarms on ear infections.

So, off Danny and I went to the A & E (accident and emergency room) at the hospital. Thankfully, Danny's finger is OK. He has a big bandage that he is very proud of, and no stitches were necessary.

This afternoon certainly did not go as I planned, but I was able to spend almost 3 hours of one-on-one time with Danny. Tom and I want to spend regular one-on-one time with the boys, but we don't do it nearly enough. Tom took Tommy to meet our new friends, and they had a great time. Tommy discovered the trampoline, and Tom learned a lot about how to live in Dublin. Danny was brave and silly and patient at the hospital. We had a nice time together. The boys were so happy to be reunited, they ran to each other and hugged (the above photo is from a different time).

I hope to get together with the new friends this week, and maybe take a driving lesson if I can find someone to teach me in an automatic. Tom had a lesson this morning, and he found it to be "educational"!

Not much externally is different from yesterday, but I feel much better on the inside today. I am a lucky girl.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." - Sir Winston Churchill

I did not post yesterday intentionally. I was feeling so overwhelmed, negative, frustrated, and frankly, depressed. On the one hand, I thought it would be a great "down and dirty" honest account of how I was feeling at the time. But I decided against it because it scared me. If I write it down will it make it more real? Will my friends and family read it and start worrying? And it is very hard for me let go of my fantasy of how great it will be here. I believe that somehow the struggle and loss of enthusiasm taints the experience. Intellectually, I know that this is not true, but that is how I think, especially when I am down. And boy was I down.

The most difficult part is trying to keep it together as a mom. In some ways the boys are adjusting very well, but without naps the good parts are overshadowed by the crying, whining & fighting. And they really have nothing to play with. I bought a few toys at a bookstore, and we were expecting some toys in our air shipment- but that has yet to arrive. I feel so bad for them, they are crying more than they ever have, and that makes me want to cry. And it also makes me feel like a failure.

We get out to the parks, and playgrounds, etc., but I feel like I should be doing more, and enjoying it. I feel guilty because I wish that some days would just go by faster. The quicker the days go by, the quicker we will get our shipment and get into the house.

As low as I sound in this post, I am doing much better today. And I believe that I will be much better tomorrow. I am grateful that throughout this, I have always believed that it will get better soon. Hopelessness is a killer. I hope to always have hope, even though I sometimes lose my enthusiasm.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." - Frederick Douglass

Energized by the great time that the boys and I had at our first playgroup yesterday, I was inspired to make some calls to the local schools to get some information about our options for this fall.  I have already done a lot of research, but things are just so much clearer now that we are here.  This was only possible because the boys FINALLY took a nap!  The first since we have been here.  There is a school that sounds perfect and it looks like we can get them in for a couple of days a week- perfect.

The girls at the playgroup are mostly American, and they are either married to Irishmen or their husband are working here.  There is nothing that makes you feel less alone than being with people who are going through, or have gone through things that you are experiencing.  I learned more about the driving situation, where to buy toys etc.  And I left the boys coats there. Was that some subconscious, desperate, pathetic ploy to make friends?  A reason to email the hostess and pick up the coats?  Probably not.  But they were all very nice.  And I will pick up the coats tonight.

Today we went down to the house to check for the much awaited mail.  You really can't get anything around here without a bank account and utility bill in your name.  Some of those things have arrived, and Tom is purchasing a cell phone for me as I write.  I am really becoming someone around here- I have a phone!

Now, we move on to cars.  I have set up a driving lesson for Saturday.  I do not want to put it off, I think I just need to dive in and drive on the left.  After my lesson, we will be going to a Tea.  My friend Kathryn from New York has a friend from College who is over here with his family.  We are really looking forward to it!

There you have it, we are moving right along.  There are times when I rely on "Little Bear" videos to entertain the boys while I research things or make calls.  It also improves my quality of life when they are whining and crying because of the naps they are not taking.  It's amazing how they laugh and smile at that show!  I plan to return to the minimal TV watching system when we get to the house.  We will see.  After all, it's about progress and not perfection right?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"Don't buy the house; buy the neighborhood."- Russian Proverb

Ok, so we are renting, but this Russian Proverb is oh-so-true.  Today we were reassured that we "rented" the right neighborhood.  We took the boys to the house for the first time.  It is empty, but the washer and dryer work so we did some laundry while we were there!  

Tom and I took the kids to a little restaurant that we had been to once before.  The owner was so friendly and helpful, and she said that she would look into some information for the kids and email it to me.  She actually told us that the waitress had said that we looked familiar.  Amazing because we were there about two months ago!

While playing ball out in the garden (backyard), the little boy who lives behind us popped through the hedges.  He is 5 years old and the boys were so happy to see him.  They kept talking to him: "I'm  Tommy" ,"I'm Danny"  , "What's your name?", "Is that you live? (where you live)", "I'm 2!" , "That's Mommy". This little boy was just laughing, knowing he was the cooler, older kid.   He was sweet.  Hope his parents are nice!

I am REALLY looking forward to getting into the house.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"No one goes there nowadays, it's too crowded." - Yogi Berra

Yes Yogi, I know what you mean!  We went to the Dublin Horse Show today. (It was Tom's idea, he will love the credit.) What an amazing time we had! Here is what struck me:  It was very manageable. The decision to go was not made until this morning.  We arrived at the RDS (the venue) at about 11:30am.  We walked in and bought tickets.  We were able to find a place to sit right outside the ring to watch the Horses. Sure, there were lots of people there, but not so many that it was not worth going.  That is what I am used to and it does not seem to be the case here.  I love it!  

The weather was truly beautiful again, we have been very lucky in that respect.  The boys loved watching the horses and they even had a kids play area.  Both of them "queued up" to go on this huge inflatable slide.  We knew that Tommy would go right up but, surprisingly, Danny loved it too.  He went up the huge ladder and said "here I come!".    Tom & Danny even had some O'Brien's soft ice cream.  It was lovely.

Back at the apartment, or Ireland as it is called, I was hoping that the boys would have their first nap since we have been here. I was wrong.  I am not giving up though.  They really need their naps.  And I really need their naps too!

Friday, August 7, 2009

“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment” - Dale Carnegie

No that is not my laundry, but apparently even those who do have dryers around here, rarely use them.  Everyone that we have talked to hangs their clothes to dry and then irons them.  NO THANKS!  I will use my dryer everyday when we move into the house.

Since we only have the clothes that we flew with, we were badly in need of some laundry services.  The apartment that we are staying in for 6-8 weeks has a washer, but no dryer.  We immediately found a place to come and pick up our laundry, wash it and bring it back.  It was picked up on Wednesday at 9:30am, and returned on Thursday at 7pm.  Now, some of you may think that I am being a spoiled brat (go ahead) but at least you New York girls will get this.  It came back inside out, wrinkled, stiff and poorly folded!  And it was a lot of money! 

I have to admit that I am having some weak moments over here.  It has nothing to do with Ireland.  In fact, the people are generally so friendly and helpful, and even the weather has been amazing.  It's just the adjustment.  It's always hard to leave what you know and go to what you don't know.  Even when we moved from the West Side to the East Side I became frustrated as I tried to find my way around.  That was only made worse by the fact that I was 7 months pregnant with twins and starving all the time!  But I ended up finding my way and loving it.  I know that is what will happen here as well.  In the meantime, I look forward to getting a cell phone, car and the boys resuming their nap, which is more difficult than I thought.

It's hard not to think of my ancestors who left this country and others with much fewer resources than I have.  Or the decent, hardworking people today who are struggling to make it in a new place.  Tom's Great-Grandfather, Jeremiah Murphy, came to America by himself  in 1885 with nothing and started a harness-making business.  His oldest son was his apprentice, and the remaining 5 children all went to college- 3 of them to Ivy League Schools!

Don't worry,  I am not comparing myself to any of these people who have so many obstacles to overcome, but everyone has their own challenges.  I want give an honest account of our experience here, and besides, it's my blog and I will whine if I want to!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Youth does not mind where it sets its foot." - Irish Proverb

We spent a long time preparing the boys to move. We talked about moving to Ireland, saying goodbye to our apartment and the cribs, what we should bring, we looked at maps, read books about flying and Ireland and talked about how we will all be together.  It was all done casually and positively.  

I would really love to know what their real perception is.  They have stayed in hotels before, so they knew that when we arrived it was a place that we would be leaving fairly  soon.  As it turns out, they think that this temporary apartment IS Ireland.  Leaving the park yesterday, they were telling me that we were going back to Ireland.  And they are very adamant about it!

Oh well, they are happy to be playing in playgrounds, running on grass, wheeling around with Mom and Dad.  They wouldn't mind having some "syriup" for their waffles (they don't really do that here), but they seem to be riding it out very nicely.  So far, there has been only one early morning fall out of bed.  

I am really looking forward to getting in to our house and getting settled.  I am even anxious to hit the road on the wrong side!  Stay tuned for that. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"He who would travel happily must travel light."- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer (1900 - 1944)

Unfortunately, traveling light was just not an option for us this trip.  We actually had 5 suitcases and 1 box with a stroller that we checked and 6 carry-ons.  Oh, and 2 occupied car seats on wheels.  If I had seen us at the airport I would have asked myself, "what is wrong with those people?!".  Despite the fact that we were escorted to the front of the check-in and security lines (no doubt out of pity) it was not an experience that I want to have again soon.  

Additionally, the night before we left, we stayed in a hotel.  That was 2 days with no naps, and I was not surprised when Danny lost it.  My parents & brother & sister were in the lobby to see us off,  and Tom and I were getting the (many) bags ready for pick up.  Danny was screaming and crying and had taken his pants and diaper off.  He was going berserk.  I just carried him down to the lobby half naked, screaming and running away from me.  I confess that I was acting out in my own way by making the front desk guy rue the day he denied me a late check out! Not my best moment, but definitely not my worst either.

That all being said, the boys were great on the plane.  No ear trouble, poopy diapers or cries that lasted more than a few seconds.  And we arrived safely.  I consider it a success!