Monday, October 26, 2009

"I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones." Oscar Wilde

Well old friends, I am certainly interested in knowing anything new that you would like me to know! But there is something about meeting new friends, an unpredictability? Whether we realize it or not we seem to work harder at new friendships than old because there is no foundation. Yet.

This week We had some new friends over for a playdate. One of the little girls from the boys' class, her baby sister and her mom. What nice people! The little girls are cute and sweet and polite. And their mom is lovely. It is fun getting to know new people, especially when you are in a new place! Our next door neighbors invited us to go trick or treating with them next week, and another mom from school has really been so welcoming and helpful. We are building a life here, slowly but surely.

Luckily, through the magic of the Internet, we can make calls as if we were back in the US and we can SKYPE. The occasional communication with my old friends and my family are what make this whole experience do-able.

Finally, My friend Jen from New York (another shout out!) has a friend who relocated to London as we relocated here. We have never met, but we follow each other's blogs and it seems that we do know each other. Mary, the London Blogger just had her second son. This is a huge thing in itself, but even more now that the little guy has been born in London. Congratulations to the whole family!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" - Dante

Yesterday, Tom and I went to visit Kilmainham Goal, otherwise known as Kilmainham Jail. This was the place that I most wanted to visit in Dublin, and one that I was urged to visit by my Uncle Brian, the family expert on Ireland. I am almost intimidated to write about it, as there is so much to say. So much to say about things that mean so much. Let's see how it goes.

First, I want to mention that Tom took the day off yesterday, and we had a "date day". It went by too quickly, but it was really nice.

Kilmainham opened in 1796, and closed in 1924 and "more or less coincided with the making and the breaking of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland" (Kilmainham Jail publication). The prisoners included the poorest of people, the bravest of revolutionaries and the youngest of children.

From 1845-until 1852 during the Great Famine, many people found the deficient shelter and paltry food a better option than what they were experiencing and committed crimes to land themselves in Kilmainham.

Robert Emmet was jailed for high treason for his part in the 1803 rebellion. He famously declared: "When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth. then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written". His cell is marked and remembered in the jail today.

After the Easter Rising, the 6 day rebellion organized by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, 16 of it's leaders were executed by firing squad in the stonebreakers yard of Kilmainham Jail. Two Crosses mark where the men stood.

I am so grateful that this jail is maintained so that I can have some very small idea about what happened here, and why, and what it must have been like. The associations between the Jail and the Irish Rebellions are remarkable, and a wonderful way to learn about them. I have included just a couple of tidbits, but be sure readers of this blog, you have not heard the word Kilmainham for the last time!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation." - Mahatma Ghandi

While driving back to our house this afternoon, I said to Tom, "Ireland is really nice". I said it as we were driving through a neighborhood that we hadn't seen before with some families chatting outside their houses with neighbors, kids playing outside. True, we live in a very nice area, but there are many of them. The mountains, the green, the sea, the oh so many parks. We discovered another one today, and it was beautiful.

There really is so much to do around here, and we have been doing it. And we have been really enjoying it! But I have to admit there is still a tiny part of me that just thinks that it was so much easier to navigate NYC. I know it's because I lived there for a long time and it's what I was comfortable with. The way I could get ANYTHING delivered, walk to lots of parks and stores, and there were tons of classes for the kids! Though my friend Jen, who moved to the city with her twin boys when they were almost 2, thought that it was much easier in the suburbs. Just throw your kids in the car, head out to wherever you need to go, and have a back yard for them to play.

It's really just what you are used to I guess. Will there soon come a point where I won't be able to imagine shlepping around NYC? I can already see how it might be hard to move back into an apartment! Adjusting to new surroundings can sometimes be difficult, particularly for someone who can be a bit stubborn like me. But let's face it, it is a lot easier to adjust from something great to something else that's great!

One of the big kids shows over here is called Peppa Pig. She lives with her brother and her parents, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Tommy just started calling me Mommy Pig. Lovely!

"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life." - P. D. James

And I thought that there was nothing like New York in the Fall! Well, maybe there isn't. But sure was nice here yesterday! I think that the author of today's quote is right, that these cool, crisp sunny, cloudless, sweater inspiring, colorful days are elusive. They are a gift that we can't help but appreciate. I find myself enlightened, wanting to make the absolute most of the day, and recalling beautiful Fall days in years past. Tom said that the only thing missing was College Football!

The weather in Ireland being as unpredictable as it is, a consistently beautiful day like yesterday was such a nice surprise. Although, as I have said before, we have been very fortunate in that respect. We took the boys on the Dart (Dublin Area Rapid Transit). They love the train, so it was a nice treat for them. We went a few stops and walked back along the coast. Along the way, we stopped in a park and had a picnic and spent some time in the playground.

People swim in the Irish Sea all year round, and yesterday there were quite a few people swimming and sailing. We are not ready for that yet, but it was sure great to watch!

My cousin Patrick got married yesterday. We are sorry that we couldn't be there. Despite their very rainy day, everyone tells me that it was a beautiful wedding! I am looking forward to seeing pictures! Congratulations Patrick and Lindsey!

Friday, October 16, 2009

God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change he things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

This is really the ultimate prayer. At least it is for a control freak like me. I understand and believe that I am not able to control much, but it usually doesn't stop me from trying. I am constantly plotting and planning. It's the way I try to manage my anxiety. Most of the time, I am even OK with the plan being changed, I just have to have a plan.

The serenity prayer reminds me that I need to ask for guidance. And that even if things are going my way for a while, it's has much less to do with me than I would have myself think.

It seems that we have turned a corner as well. The house is pretty much set up, my parents have come and gone, and we are beginning to find our routine. Naps are officially done. That doesn't mean that the kids are not tired after school, or even that they don't fall asleep on the way home. But it has gotten to the point that if they sleep in the afternoon, they stay up late at night. So, now we have long afternoons together, and I am finding that an excursion right after school works best for now. I don't want to jinx myself, but the boys have been much more agreeable this week as well. Maybe they are feeling more settled, or maybe they have a less distracted mommy!

I had coffee with a really nice mom from school this morning. She is very nice, and they moved here around the same time that we did. Next week, our new friends will come over for a playdate. I think that the boys will love it, I know that I will!

God has already shown me that his plan for me is much better than anything that I could have come up with for myself. I am glad that I can remember that today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“Distance lends enchantment to the view” - Mark Twain

My parents have gone back to New York. We had a wonderful time with them, and look forward to seeing them again next month. It was so great to share with them the things that we have discovered about Dublin, and explore new things as well.

On Sunday we drove down to Powerscourt Estate, in County Wicklow. Its signifigance is described on the Powerscourt web site:
Powerscourt Estate History

Powerscourt is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland. Situated in the mountains of Wicklow, it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century. By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name. The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O'Tooles and the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare.

It truly was beautiful, and it was a lovely day. I love watching my kids and my parents enjoy each other so much. We definitely won't be seeing them as much, but when we do, it will be that much more special.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

“Don't forget your history nor your destiny”- Bob Marley

Yesterday continued. Although I had been to visit Dalkey Castle, Tom and the boys had not, so we decided to take my parents. I have written about my experience there and how it made me appreciate the 21st Century! Even though they do it in a fun way, with actors who portray the villagers of medieval times, it is a great way to learn about, and really try to understand history. Being in the Castle with the barber performing an "amputation" on my mother while describing each step makes me think about the people in those times and the fears they must have faced daily.

Reading about events and historical figures is fantastic, but nothing compares to visiting the places where these people walked and worked and lived. I really want to learn as much as I can by experience, and I want to share it with my kids as well. Just another reason that I feel blessed to have the opportunity to live here.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner. Kieran is a solicitor (lawyer) who my dad has known for a few years through a law association. When we told my parents that we would be moving here, my dad (of course!) wanted to introduce us right away. As it happened, Kieran was in New York for business soon after and we all had dinner. He couldn't have been nicer and after meeting him we ere more excited to come to Dublin. On our first visit, He and his wife, Brenda took Tom and me out to dinner, and the second trip, they had us to their house along with two of Kieran's brothers and their wives. We felt so welcomed. So last night, we finally had them to our house, and we had a wonderful time. Kieran and Brenda met our boys, and got to see a very special performance by Tommy. He played the piano and sang "Baa Baa Black Sheep" for everyone, un-coerced. Superstar!!!

“Genius of any kind is the ability and willingness to leave the known world behind and explore new territory.”- Karla McLaren

Today was a walking day. My parents wanted to see where we live, and we wanted to show them. The town is very cute, and close to the water, but it also has lots of hills and steep inclines, so I wasn't sure how thrilled my mom was going to be to hike for a couple of hours. But she did great! We actually explored a park up on a high hill with great views of the bay and the Wicklow Mountains.

We really had a wonderful time. And this is an amazing place. I am very happy to have my parents here, I am already looking forward to their next trip!

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children."- Alex Haley

Mimi and Chief are here! We have been anticipating their arrival since before we arrived, and we are so happy that they are in Dublin. I am not exactly sure what the boys think about this visit in that, they are so happy to see them, but they have no idea how far they have come.

The day that they arrived, it was a beautiful crisp, sunny day. Even though Mimi and Chief did take a short nap (the jet lag on the way over here can be a little rough) they were up in plenty of time to play with the boys in our "garden".

My plan (I ALWAYS have a plan) was to have them surprise the boys by picking them up at school. Unfortunately the the kids were coughing and sneezing a little, and I decided to keep them, and their runny noses at home. Since they were better the next day, they did go to school and my parents did get to pick them up and see their school. It was a good day despite the Irish buckets of rain.

Hopefully the rain clears up so that we can give them a great tour of our new hometown!

P.S. Tom is home after about two weeks away, and does not plan to travel again for a few weeks- yahoo!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

“If you don't like the weather, wait a minute" - Unknown

My parents are coming this week! We are very excited. My mom (understandably) has been asking me what the weather has been like, and I am sure that my answers are mildly frustrating. The weather changes so quickly here, it is just too difficult to predict. I feel that I sound like all of the Dubliners who have consistently told me, "dress for all four seasons". It can be damp and chilly in the morning, and then when the sun comes out in the afternoon, it is so strong it can feel like it is literally burning you.

Today however, was rainy. All day. In the last weeks if I had made a comment to anyone about how nice the weather was, many would respond, "Oh just wait".

There is a new girl in the boy's class. I was talking to her mom, and I found out that they also just moved here. They are British, but for the last two years, they have been living in Moscow! We talked about getting together for coffee soon. I can't wait to hear their story.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. " -Allan K. Chalmers

This morning Tom had an early flight out. He just returned Friday night, and has to be back out again. He will definitely be traveling, but these two weeks are a more little hectic than will be usual. The boys and I spent our day at a "Family Fun Fair" at the CUALA, a Gaelic Athletic Association sports and social centre.

The festivities were supposed to start at 12n, and in true Irish fashion, it began shortly after 1pm. In true New York fashion, we were there at 11:42, so we watched the Gaelic football game for a while. Very intense. These guys are SERIOUS, you can tell by their language. The boys were clapping and yelling yayyyy!!!!!!!! Though I didn't see anyone that I recognized, the whole day felt very small town and cozy.

We really had a wonderful day, though it would have been so nice if Tom could have been there too.