Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Get on with the bloody play"- Sean O'Casey

The boys are really into taking pictures. I've named this one "tired mom with potty seat"

In an effort to remain focused, Sean O'Casey pinned a note over his desk with the words in the above quote. I read about this a month ago when Tom and I went to see "The Plough and the Stars" at the Abbey Theatre. As some may have noticed, I have not posted to this blog in 3 months, and Mr. O'Casey's motivational strategy has been pecking at my brain for the last few weeks.

After the mid-July posting, we spent August in New York. It was wonderful to see friends and family and by the end of the trip, we were all anxious to get back to our life and our routine here in Dublin. It really does feel like our home now, the boys have lived a large percentage of their lives here.

Last year at this time I was determined to get settled in. I found a school for the boys, set up the house, learned to drive on the left, invited potential friends out on coffee dates and discovered some familiar food (or at least good substitutes). This year, I seem to be moving at a much slower pace. I am exercising, but only when it's something I have committed to in advance. It took me 5 weeks to invite friends over for a playdate. You may read this and think that I am being too hard on myself. Perhaps I am. But if laziness begets laziness, I want to start doing some of the things that I have been wanting to do, but have been avoiding. Getting on with the blood blog is a great start. I feel better already.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

“Maybe it’s bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of heaven to some of us.” — Nancy O’Keefe.

There was a time when the mere survival of Irish traditional music was not at all a sure thing.

In January 1951, representatives of the Thomas Street (Dublin) Pipers’ Club went to Mullingar for a meeting with traditional music enthusiasts from County Westmeath. Two ideas which had already been mentioned amongst traditional musicians were discussed at this meeting; the first was the founding of an organisation to promote Irish traditional music while the second was the organising of a great annual festival of Irish traditional music, song and dance. A further meeting was held in February, and at this meeting it was decided that, in conjunction with Feis Lár na hÉireann (a Gaelic League Feis which had been held in Mullingar for many years), a Fleadh Cheoil would be organised in the town in May over the Whit weekend.

In the years before the Fleadh, although the ordinary people of Ireland loved traditional music, the hundreds of traditional musicians in the country were largely unappreciated in popular social and intellectual circles. The aim of the Fleadh was to promote traditional music and to arrest the decline in its popularity. The cream of traditional Irish musicians attending the Fleadh played a major role in furthering this aim.

Fleadhanna Cheoil gave traditional musicians a platform where they could play to an appreciative audience and where traditional style was the criterion. That first Fleadh Cheoil in 1951 attracted only a few hundred patrons - a small but enthusiastic crowd. Within five years, however, this annual gathering had grown to become a great National Festival attended by traditional musicians, singers, and dancers from all parts of Ireland and overseas.

On October 14th, 1951, at Árus Ceannt, Thomas Street, Dublin, the first standing Committee of Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann was elected. At a meeting in St. Mary’s Hall, Mullingar, on January 6th, 1952, the title of the organisation was changed from Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music. We’re a non-profit cultural movement with hundreds of local branches around the world, and as you can read in our history we’ve been working for the cause of Irish music since the middle of the last century (1951 to be precise). Our efforts continue with increasing zeal as the movement launches itself into the 21st century.

(Above text taken from

Thanks again to Catherine and Damien, we were able to experience this wonderful look into Irish music- a huge part of Irish Culture. Irish music, as well as the language, sports and literature were great sources of strength and unity for Irish Republicans during each of the rebellions and the Anglo Irish War in particular. This music center teaches and performs Irish music and dance. Another must see if you are living here. It was great!

Uilleann Pipes

Monday, July 12, 2010

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy. ~Anton Chekhov

Summer in Ireland is not what we are used to, and certainly nothing like they are experiencing in New York this year! We have had some really beautiful days. At times it can get quite warm, but never too hot. That doesn't mean that I don't overhear people talking about what a "scorcher" it is! On most days, you could wear a jacket, or not. We haven't had much rain but as always, you never know.

The kids have been in camp everyday. It's almost the same as school in that it is at their school and they are familiar with many of the other kids. The big difference is that the big kids and the little kids are together for the day. For the most part, being with older kids is great. I have heard some new words like "idiot" at home. (Sigh.) More infiltration of our little bubble!

We try to do something everyday after school. but some days the kids are just too tired! They have quite a little 3-year-old life!

Digging in the "good" sand at one of the nicest beaches around here

The waves are not bad!

Painting pottery- a little change of scenery

Taking the train is still a fun thing to do

They will go to any playground, but I need to change it up once in a while!

Spinning is the best

Having a snack on the patio with the ladies

I guess you could call this homework

We brought some American sports to Ireland

Painting with painted faces

Being 3 is Exhausting!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.”- Albert Camus

When talking to American friends and family this week, they all asked "what are you doing for 4th of July?". "Well, nothing" I said, "we don't have that here". We didn't have a 3-day weekend, with beaches and barbecues planned, but we did have some friends coming for dinner. And I did manage to pull out some red, white and blue napkins.

The O'Connors are a great family who have been so amazing and welcoming to us since our first visit to Ireland. We were so glad to have them over and it was a great July 4th!

On a serious note, I really have to say that learning so much about what Ireland has gone through in order to gain the freedom that they have today makes me feel even more appreciative of what we have in the United States. There is something about the fact that the events in Ireland happened less than 100 years ago, and in fact, are still happening that makes it more... relatable?

I also happen to read a story about an Iranian woman who was caught in a miniskirt at a party by the religious police at age 16. She was sentenced to 40 lashes. Many of people don't even have the most basic things that we have. God Bless America! And God Bless Ireland!

Friday, June 25, 2010

When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme, when you wish upon a star" - Jiminy Cricket

In the weeks leading up to our trip to Paris and Disneyland Paris (it is no longer called Euro Disney), I was very excited. Disney was always a special place for my family while I was growing up. My first trip was to Disneyland in California, and it was my first plane trip. I was five years old, and my cousins lived in San Diego. My parents always planned great Disney trips. My Dad was especially famous for his trip planning. He always researches what to do, where to eat, what to see and makes sure that we take advantage of everything there is on offer.
My memories of Disney have always been that it is a very special place, and I always felt special there. I know that my siblings feel the same, my brother Kevin was practically jumping through the phone telling me how anxious he was to take his baby to Disney!

Ah, it's just like a fairy tale- except for that dude with the rifle.

Six years after our honeymoon, I am back with these silly boys.

French Brasseries are right up their alley, anything in the bread family is usually a hit.

They couldn't care if they were in front of the Arc de Triomphe or a tree.

We had the nicest weather on this trip


Tom took this picture of me. I was so excited and happy that I was crying.

D-Man checking out Snow White

Dinner with the Disney Characters- a must.

Goofy was like a Rock Star to them!

Classic Main Street photo with the Castle in the background.

Ahoy Mateys!

Arriving home after a long day of travelling

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Growth is the only evidence of life." ~John Henry Newman

When we arrived in Dublin, I was not sure what I was going to do with the kids. If we had stayed in New York, we were going to do a 2's program, where I brought the kids to a preschool- ish setting and they stayed for 2 hours, 2 days a week. I would stay with them for the first few (or more) classes, and then start to leave.

I tried to research online, but it really is not easy to get perspective when you don't have your bearings yet. It seemed that most of the Montessori preschools required the children to be 3 by December. I was thrilled to find this school that had a class for 2 & 1/2 year olds. We all found our friends there. They went from 9am until at least 12:30, usually 1pm and they loved it.

The only one who wasn't ready for them to go to everyday school was me. But I really came around.

They are off to a new school next year, but we will always remember this first year of school. On the last day, there was a barbecue for everyone.

The moms and dads had fun at the barbecue while the kids were inside howling at a puppet show.

That's their teacher in red. We all loved her. We would not have asked for a better first teacher. I have a lot of teachers in my family- you are all amazing!

Walking in on the first day

Strutting out on the last day

Sunday, June 13, 2010

" Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young." Paul McCartney

We went to see Paul McCartney last night. I would not have said that I was a huge Paul McCartney fan, but I definitely wanted to take the opportunity to see such an iconic, enduring performer. The crowd was very interesting. There were a lot of people in their 60's & 70's. There were young people, and even kids. I took a shot of the crowd before the concert to show the range.

Here he is walking out. He sounded really good! He was even greeting the crowd in Irish!

My parents were not Beatles fans at all, so I did not hear it growing up and could take or leave a lot of it. But, I have to say that the Wings songs were very prevalent on the radio when I was little and they brought back great memories. I am more of a Wings girl. But that is the thing about Paul McCartney- he really reached so many. I am glad that I got to see him live.

As the concert was coming to an end, I began to feel intimidated by the crowds. I wanted to be sure that we got a cab home. Granted, most of these people drove to this concert, but I did not want to chance having to get on a cramped train or roaming around for a cab. We left during the last song, Hey Jude, but before both encores. I hope that my husband will forgive me.

Unflattering Self Portrait

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate." -Carrie Bradshaw

Girls Night Out

My friend Jackie, who is sort of involved with the International Women of Dublin, (I am just a delinquent member of the American Women of Dublin) invited me to an event that they were having to see the Sex and the City Movie. It was my first outing to "the cinema" since moving here, and I was excited to get a little dolled up and indulge myself in a bit of fantasyland.

We met at a the bar of a restaurant, beforehand. When we walked in, it was difficult to spot our group because the place was packed with women dressed up to see this movie. I actually ran into a few girls that I did not expect to see.

I love to watch Sex and the City. Well, I don't like the first couple of seasons but I feel that way about a lot of shows (Seinfeld, Friends). I really do like how New York is sort of a character in the show and the movies. In fact, it appears that Mr. Big works in the first building that I ever worked in, 875 Third Ave. That was slightly exciting. In this movie, they spent a lot of time in Abu Dhabi, so I felt a little gipped on the NYC scenes.

It took a few years for me to get into the show, but there are things about it that I really do enjoy. Admittedly one of those things is watching these dysfunctional women navigate their lives. Part of me can identify with them, part of me feels better about myself because "wow- I am doing pretty well compared to these crazies!", but mostly, I am fascinated and a little irritated with the way they glamorize the unrealistically selfish, immature and irresponsible aspects of their lives. Now THAT's entertainment!

With my good friend Jackie

This movie was actually much better than I thought it was going to be, though there was one part where it turned into a kind of zany caper where the girls had to disguise themselves in the traditional Abayas (I had to look that up) in order to escape a mob of angry men and make their flights back to NY.

Well, Carrie and Big are still married. The fact that they are together in the first place is such an improbable, unbelievable scenario that it is a little distracting. I think Carrie is still as misguided as ever and her priorities are just as backwards. Charlotte is the same as she always has been, neurotic but likeable. Miranda, however, is one of the best character evolutions that I have ever seen. She has evolved in a very realistic and endearing way from a terrified, bitter, angry woman to a much more secure, connected person.

Now Samantha, who has been so overtly sexual that it completely defined her character, seems to be ramping it up as the series goes on. I have definitely found her funny and likeable at times. She is certainly very loyal to her friends, they all are. But the in your face explicit and constant sexual theme to all of her action and dialogue is, well, boring! Anyone who talks so much about one thing, be it money, dieting, whatever- boring (reminder to self). The other thing is if I could look nearly as good as Kim Cattrall in my 50's I would be thrilled (and very surprised). But I have to say, even though her character has always been periodically offensive, it seems even harder to watch now that she is older. Her character has not progressed in a positive way at all, and if I think of her as a real person, I think that she is very sad. But I would love to be her therapist!

My favorite part of the movie, because it was the most relatable to me, was the mommy conversation between Charlotte and Miranda. I would also love to have been invited to Stanford and Anthony's wedding. It looked like lots of fun and the ceremony was very nice.

All that said, I had some strong thoughts and reactions from the movie so I would have to say that it was good. But in a very different way than some other movies are good.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible. " Charles Haughey

Well, I guess it's goodbye Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends, but hello bank holidays in May and June! We don't really have the rhythm of the calendar here yet, so the June bank holiday snuck up on us a little. We really want to take advantage of all of Tom's days off, and we decided to head over to Clare. So far, it is my favorite place that we have visited in Ireland. My overall favorite is of course where we live. I am always marvelling at the beauty of this place.

But Clare is Ireland. It's the Ireland that you imagine when you only have references that you can't even place.

The view from our room

O'Brien Tower at the Cliffs of Moher. That's Mow-her. Not Moore.

We stayed in a B&B that was a Manor House to Ballinalacken Castle which was historically owned by the O'Briens (they seem to have ben dominant in this area). The boys are running toward the Castle ruins.

We took a boat over to one of the Aran Islands, Inisheer. It was an AMAZINGLY beautiful day!

There are very few cars on the Island and this is a great way to see the Island with 3- year- olds.

These walls were built over 200 years ago. The stones covered most of the Island and the Islanders built walls to clear and divide the land.

See- thatched roofs. Real Ireland.

It might not be the most modern and luxurious, but what a view it has!

Tom on Inisheer, looking up at O'Brien Castle.

The Sunset out of our window. Of Course it was about 10pm.

The best beach I have seen so far in Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher. Go if you can, try to make it on a nice day, and do the boat cruise.