Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same."- Anne Frank

We probably couldn't have moved to a country that is more similar to the United States, except maybe Canada. I say this primarily because there is no language barrier. I can't imagine what it would have been like to move here and also have to navigate a new language, though I know that people do it everyday.

My biggest anxiety about moving here was having to drive on the other side of the car, and the other side of the road. As I have mentioned before, I am feeling much more confident about that. Because we were living in Manhattan, I haven't driven on a regular basis since college! Driving in general would have been an huge adjustment even if we had moved to Westchester.

As many of the roads here are very narrow, you always have to drive as if a car could be coming towards you at anytime, and one of you will have to pull over. When you pull over, the passing driver will nod, simile or wave, or maybe flash their lights as a thank you. It's all very genial. True, I have had 2 instances where another driver seemed impatient, but for the most part, people around here seem to drive with a very nice attitude. It's not as if they don't seem to care, or have no sense of urgency. They just do what they have to do, deal with each situation as it comes, and they don't let it ruin their day. Now, I should add a reminder that I am outside the City Centre. For all I know it's the Belt Parkway everyday.

Luckily, we found out that you need to buy a license to watch TV, the fine for TV without a license is 635 Euro- that is A LOT of dollars. Speaking of TV, we have no idea what the new shows are in the US, but I have been able to catch up on old episodes of Ally McBeal, the Practice, Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica and Falcon Crest!

Also, there are no vegetables here. It's just veg, as in "eat all your fruit and veg", both of which are very good here. It's pretty difficult to find maple syrup, which my boys love a drop or two of on their waffles. I am not crazy about the waffles they have, so I am searching for a waffle iron. They do exist, but I am having a hard time finding one. It took me a while to venture into the non refrigerated egg world. I buy them and put them right into the fridge!

I know that they were talking about doing this in New York too, but if you don't bring grocery bags to the store, you have to by them. It's a great idea, but I am finding it very difficult to remember to bring the bags! I always leave them in the car and remember as I get to the check out.

These are all pretty minor adaptations, and I realize that this post is a bit of a babble, but it might be interesting to look back on this and revisit what I perceived to be the differences worth mentioning!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." - Jane Howard

Oh, I have one alright. And it is about to get bigger! Yesterday I heard some wonderful news: my brother Brian and his lovely Kerry are engaged. I am so happy for them and for all of us. She is sweet and funny and seems to make my brother very happy. I love when there are family events in "the hopper".

And while I am on the subject of family additions, I have to mention that before I started writing this blog, I heard some other wonderful news: my brother Kevin and his wife Megan are having a baby in February! They will not find out if the baby will be my niece or my nephew, but the early sonograms showed them a little snowman-looking cutie, so they are calling the baby Frosty for now.

It's difficult to be so far away with these great events coming up, but I am really looking forward to both of them. How lucky am I to have a great family to begin with, and then to also love all of my in-laws as well? I really like being with my brother's wives, and my husband's family too.

By the way, since I used the phrase, "in the hopper", I decided to look it up for origin. I'll share:

Word Origin & History
"container with narrow opening at bottom," 1277, perhaps fromhop (v.) via notion of grain juggling in a mill hopper.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary
in the hopper
  1. mod. in process; in line to be processed. (A hopper is an in-basket for incoming work.) : Your job is in the hopper, and your turn is next.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

"I find that it is only when the people we love are silenced that we really begin to listen." - Margaret Ward

Page from SHA yearbook 1986

I love this quote. It was written by a friend of mine from High School in an article that she published in the Irish Times in 1996. She was writing about her grandmother who was imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail at the age of fourteen.

I haven't seen Margaret since High School, but I heard that she lived in Dublin and I tracked her down. We met for coffee yesterday, and I felt like I could have stayed there for a few more hours. She was cute and friendly in High School. I remember her as smart, one of the "Garden City girls" and in the Defenders Society. It was great to reconnect with an old friend from school, but it was really great to discover a smart, accomplished interesting woman who knows a lot about the things that interest me.

Back in 2002, when it occurred to me that I knew very little about my family ancestry, I decided to start asking questions. It was as if some of my history was on the verge of slipping away, and the longer I waited, the more people would forget. When I learned that Margaret had 50 hours of taped interviews of her grandmother, I thought of how precious the opportunity to get to know someone really is. There are definitely some people that I would really love to sit and talk to a little more about how they remember their lives so far. Hopefully I will remember to do this with my children as well, for I do consider it a gift.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. " - Erik Erikson

This reminds me that I want to re-focus a little. Yesterday, Danny was laid out on the sidewalk screaming in our way to school, and then Tommy shoved a little girl off the couch at school. OK, I can't say that Danny has never thrown a tantrum (he has, by God, he has) but Tommy shoving anyone besides his brother? I was very surprised to see that rage.

I would write it off to the "terrible two's" if the timing of their behavior changes did not coincide so precisely with all of the external changes. It's got to be the perfect storm of frustration. For the most part, I have been really tuned in to what I think they are experiencing. I try to maintain as much consistency as possible and I am working hard to set up a nice environment for them. Maybe I have been a little too distracted working on the house lately and need to pay extra attention to the boys. It's really about the day to day, right? They are going to melt down from time to time, and I am going to try to be patient.

Thankfully, they had a much better day today and went to bed at 5:30pm. Sleep management has always worked well for us in the past.

Oh, And I got a ticket! Everyone has told me that the meter guys are all over the place, but I guess I had to figure it out for myself. We had a ton of dry cleaning and I pulled up in front of the cleaners to drop it off. When I came out, there was a guy in a uniform taking picture of my car after giving me a ticket. I had flashbacks of our crazy neighbor in NY who took pictures of our garbage.

The good part is, I am really starting to feel like I live here now. Next week, another mom from school and I are going to the big mall. I am really looking forward to that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Anyone was a candidate to be his friend" - Tom O'Brien

Hello from our house! Yes, as I posted eight days ago, our shipment (our stuff) came in and we were able to move. Moving is such a mixed bag of excitement, accomplishment, menial dreadful tasks, disorientation, hope, frustration, and in our case, a small flood, a broken refrigerator and a bunch of unidentified beeping noises. The house that we rented is very old, but renovated. It is obvious from the appliances, floors, light fixtures etc., that the owner of the house put a lot of thought and money into it. And so far, he has been great, very concerned and responsive. He even brought in a guy to teach me how to use the "cooker". The biggest challenge has been the technology. I have to admit that I am desperately attached. The TV was up and running yesterday, and I used the house phone for the first time today. We were literally on the phone in the garden (backyard) so that we could get reception, trying to set up our Sky TV. Turnaround time is a little slower here, and my sense of urgency is a little stronger.

Through the distractions I have managed to get the kitchen, playroom and the boys room up and running. I have been driving the kids to school everyday, and I am feeling much better. As long as I know where I am going, I am OK. The Director of the boys' school called me Karen and I didn't correct her. I told myself that I wasn't sure if I had heard her correctly, but she clearly thinks my name is Karen. As I walked away I thought, "Could I be Karen here? I kind of like that." I could probably pull it off if Tom was willing. The boys think that my name is mommy. Alright I am not serious. But if you get a Christmas card from Tom, Karen and the boys, you will know who it's from.

We lost our friend Peter this week. He was Tom's roommate in High School and a very close friend. Tom was talking to me about Peter and telling me that he had always loved interesting characters. Peter was very well put together but was happy to be a friend to lots of different people, no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, if they were like him or not. Tom said that anyone was a candidate to be Peter's friend. I thought that that was a quite a compliment, and I felt inspired by it. We will miss you Peter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Here comes the Sun and I say it's alright" - George Harrison

This is actually a sunset, a picture that I took with my phone on our way home from a restaurant last night. I kept asking the boys to look at it, and they did, but I know that they didn't understand how beautiful it was. The reason that I quoted the lyrics to "Here comes the Sun" is because, WE ARE MOVING ON FRIDAY! I was just telling Tom on the phone this morning "yeah, I want to get out of this temporary apartment and move into the house with all of our things, but I am even more excited to move into our new town!"

Today was very sunny and while the boys were at school, I walked around town doing errands and became more and more anxious to move. And then the moving company called. Our shipment cleared customs. Of course since we just found out the moving date, it feels like a last minute scramble which is hardly the case.

We have been here for almost 6 weeks, which feels like both a very long and very short time. Actually something great happened at the grocery store the other day. I was shopping around with the boys and someone that I had met called out to me to say hello. That feels so nice when you are in a new place.

I should mention this while I know I can- we may not have Internet access for a while. It takes longer than I am used to to get things done here. But guess what? I am getting used to it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Education commences at the mother's knee, and every word spoken within the hearing of little children tends towards the formation of character."- H.B


This posting is dedicated to: MY MOM! It was her birthday yesterday, and although we were not able to be with her, we celebrated by taking a trip to Bray. I love you Mom! We miss, you, and we can't wait to see you!

Bray is a seaside town that that, in Victorian times, was a vacation destination for Dubliners. It took us about 35 minutes on the train, and it was a very scenic ride along the coast. Luckily, it was a beautiful day and the boys had a great time running along the promenade.

Oh and there is an aquarium right at the seaside as well. The boys saw lots of sea creatures that they have been reading about in their books such as lion fish, stickelbacks and hammerhead sharks!

Can you see the cross on top of this mountain? Apparently it was erected in 1950 for the Holy Year. I am still trying to find out more about that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Sport is imposing order on what was chaos." - Anthony Starr

I am sure that Freud would agree with that, but I am not sure that I would classify Hurling as order. Tom and I went to the All-Ireland Championship Match this afternoon at Croke Park between Tipperary and Kilkenny. This game is a HUGE deal here. The father of a good friend of ours, a guy Tom has known for many years, was kind enough to give us the tickets. Our friend's Dad is from Ireland, and was a well known Hurler in his day! Lucky for us, he comes to Ireland from New York to see some matches and is here this weekend.

This is a picture that Tom took of a statue near Grafton Street. Just to give you an idea about how much people love Hurling here!

These are the players lined up before the match. From what I can see, Hurling requires the skills of lacrosse, baseball, soccer, football and maybe golf too. I have never seen fans like this either, everyone was so into it, and the noise level was unlike anything I have heard in a stadium setting or otherwise. It was fantastic to be among them.

The lady in the green coat is The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. It was very exiting to see her. Yeah, she is walking up to her seats that were behind ours!

Here they are preparing for the Liam McCarthy Cup ceremony, which was awarded to Kilkenny for the 4th year in a row. You can see the Stadium Security and the Guards (police) lining up to keep the area clear.

As you can see, they knew what they were in for- the Kilkenny fans stormed the pitch (field). Croke Park holds about 82,000 plus people and it was sold out. I must say that I was feeling an alliance with Tipperary and they really came so close to winning. But it was all very exciting. Thank you Mr. O'S. for this wonderful experience. We had a great time!

Friday, September 4, 2009

"May I never miss a sunset or a rainbow because I am looking down." - Sara June Parker

This is a real picture of a rainbow right outside our door. It was even more beautiful than this picture shows. I thought that it was worth sharing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Dear Lord, I've done my best. Please try to forget the rest." - Medieval tour guide at Dalkey Castle

Wow! Just three days at pre-school and Tommy is already reading! OK, I am just kidding. We read their books so much, they just memorize them. But they both seem to be loving school. When I pick them up, they get right into the little cars and bikes that they have outside and I have to drag them away. I am happy that they are happy. For you parents out there who are starting pre-school next week, be prepared for some tired children. They are so wiped out, I can hardly get them into bed fast enough for a nap.

Since I am still taking the boys to school on the train, I am on foot for the time that they are in school. I have taken this opportunity to get to know the roads before I drive on them. Today I planned to walk up to a gym that I am thinking of joining, and then maybe down into town for a coffee. By the time I finished my coffee, it was only 10:15. I had over two more hours to kill. Believe me, I know that once we are in the house, and I resume the errands and responsibilities of that life, the time will fly by. But today, I took a tour of Dalkey Castle.

Dalkey Castle is a 14th Century Castle that still stands and operates as a small museum and heritage centre. The tour guides are actors who welcome the guests in character. There was an American couple from Florida on the tour with me, and we were all diagnosed with terrible afflictions by the Barber Surgeon's wife. Before "extracting" a tooth from the Florida Man, she asked him to repeat the prayer in the headline above. We all had a giggle. When it was my turn, the Barber Surgeon decided that my humors were imbalanced, and I needed a blood letting. And a leg amputation. After the "blood letting" the Barber's wife explained that she would then bandage my wrists to stop the bleeding. When she was finished, she would then coil the bloody bandage around a pole and put it out to dry. Hence, the red and white coiled poles to signify barbers. I LOVE learning the origins of sayings and customs!

Even though the tour was fun, I was really able to imagine what it might have been like to live in Fourteenth Century. The Barber's wife had the real instruments that were used then, and she sort of realistically demonstrated how she might have sawed off my leg. Horrifying. We also went to the top of the castle (yes Tom, I went all the way up!). The archer explained that there would always be someone on guard to warn of attacks from enemies. He told us that the spiral stairs curve to the right to make it more difficult for right-handed attackers to use their weapons. The residents and guards of the Castle would have the upper hand- literally. It must have been pretty scary to live then. I appreciate the 21st Century. Oh, and speaking of hands, I need to make a nail appointment.