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100,000 +

July 21, 2015

Today the American Consulate travelled to Cork.  Such a convenient service.  They come every so often  (I suppose when budgets permit).  To be honest we were waiting for their next trip down to Cork to register the Prince’s birth abroad.  We just didn’t have a trip to Dublin planned and I didn’t see the point of making a special trip up…although it would have given us an excuse to go to IKEA…

Although US citizenship transfers to a child at birth, the official paperwork (which can be used as a birth certificate) is Consular Registration of Birth Abroad. It’s also required to get passports and SS# and all that jazz. So anyway when the Dublin Embassy emailed to say they were coming to Cork I jumped at the chance.  There is plenty of paperwork to gather of course.  To register a birth abroad you have to prove your own citizenship as well as your physical presence in the US for at least 5 years.  I provided highschool and college transcripts which were accepted.   All in all it was actually pretty easy.

Out of curiosity as I was chatting to the consuls I asked how many American’s they reckon are in Ireland.  They said that at least 100,000 US citizens are registered with the Embassy in Ireland.  And since registering with the embassy is not compulsory there are likely to be MANY, MANY more.  I had no idea there were so many of us here!!  But it makes total sense given the strong cultural and familial links between the US & Ireland.  But on an island of 4million it’s a lot.

Incidentally, it’s worth registering with the embassy as an expat living in any country.  It will make things easier should you ever need consulate support.  The Dublin Embassy send emails about things that concern expats in Ireland & they let you know when the consulate is travelling around Ireland!!  You can also like the US Embassy Dublin on FB!

Being Mommy, Uncategorized

The Great Doll Debate

September 17, 2014

Today is Princess M’s 4th birthday.  FOUR. That is a big, proper, kid age.  There is nothing childish about 4!!

Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion around the gift.  For her first birthday Mom & Dad bought her an American Girl Doll….and not just any AG doll, the MOLLY doll that has since been retired.  The doll had been safely stored at Mom and Dad’s house for about two years; waiting for the flight where we weren’t weighed down with hand luggage so that we could bring her back as a carryon.  Last Autumn when the King returned to Ireland on his own he gallantly carried the doll with him.  It has been hidden on the top of a wardrobe here ever since.

So as the birthday approached the King and I had much discussion of whether or not it was time to give her the doll….

The box says 8+.  Just about every parent of an American girl knows the cost of the doll and how precious the bloody hair is.

We have watched the Princess play endlessly with her dolls and babies.   We wondered for how long would she be truly playing dolls.  8 seems so far off.

I even did the ultimate in research and googled it….and it turns out there are two sides to the ongoing (sometimes heated) AG doll debate.

If we gave her the doll we agreed we would have to turn a blind eye to any throwing, tattooing, haircutting and general neglect/abuse that may occur.  We had to decide if we were ok with the doll being loved while all real collector value is  lost.  We had to vow not to be precious about the doll…and to be honest we weren’t so sure  we could.

Ultimately it was one last birthday gift from Grandma & Grandpa, after a long year of missing them and the hope that playing with the doll might offer a comfort to us all.

Tonight mom is either up there cursing us for giving a 4 year old such a costly doll, or she’s keeping a watchful eye over two new friends sharing one toddler bed.

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Either way, I’m sure Mom would agree in hindsight the pyjamas would have been a good buy!

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Who I am & Why I’m Here

September 15, 2014

I’m sure most people take a “Blogging 101” challenge within their first year of actually blogging, but here I am some 17 months later…

I guess the timing is right since I seem to be having difficulty sitting down and actually writing.  The truth is that despite thinking about blogging daily, when it comes down to it I have no idea which way I am heading, or even if I want to continue.

When I started this blog it was easy to identify who I was and what my little creative outlet was all about.  I was an expat mom trying to share my Irish experiences with whoever wanted to listen.  My original intent was to impart any ‘wisdom’ I had gained in my 10 years as an expat and in doing so perhaps provide that ‘gentle nudge’ for anyone who maybe was daydreaming of throwing caution to the wind and following their own expat dreams…

but then life took several turns and I somehow lost my way.

First I became a mom again….and it turns out being a mom of two is a game changer.  It was the best turn life could take for me in 2013 but it was a massive learving curve.

Then there was one and then another major losses and well my life and this blog couldn’t possibly be the same.

And then there was a return to work, a new job and a seemingly uphill battle to balance life as a working mom.

All of this while still being an expat who loves living in Ireland and is homesick each and every day.

So it remains to be seen what Both Sides of the Atlantic becomes.  But then again every expat knows it’s the journey that matters.

Uncategorized

Life: Some Highlights

February 23, 2014

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Today I was going through some old paperwork that I came across when I was last home. As my siblings and I began to go through things at the house we came across some random stuff.

Mom and Dad were both only children and we’ve begun to discover there are actually three houses of stuff crammed into every closet and drawer back home. Some items like the 26,800 toothpicks (no lie) we found are ridiculous. But most often we came across some real gems of our past. Mom kept so much stuff of ours as we grew. At first it was overwhelming and seemed like junk, but upon closer inspection I realized mom had through the years captured who we are in what she saved for each of us.

For me I found some of my early certificates and artwork but for the most part she kept my writing. She’d kept the best (and worst) pieces that captured my creativity and love for writing. Somewhere along the way I forgot or lost sight of that but going through my old stuff brought it all back.

I also found an essay written when I was 11…citing the highlights of my life so far. And ever since then I have been thinking if I wrote that essay today…what would the highlights of my life be?

Aside from the obvious i.e, marrying the King, creating a family with the Princesses and the Prince what other highlights have there been?

Getting my Masters

Learning True Lifelong Friends
Freshman year, a naive, homesick and scared college kid walked out of the elevator in the dorm lobby and slid and fell in front of what seemed about 100 people. Before I could pick myself up the guy next to me threw himself on the ground and made a huge distraction and that was the beginning of a life long frienship.

City Girl
Spending just over 3 years in Washington, DC where our local news was national news and I learned I had the strength to be on my own in a big city.

Phonecalls
Getting the phone call my first niece was born. And three years later standing with her when we got the call her sister was born.

The phone interview to Ireland with a glass of wine in hand….and the phone call when my would-be Irish boss rang to say I had the job.

Taking the Leap
Packing two suitcases and boarding a plane to follow my dreams.

Saying Thank You
The day before our wedding we had a BBQ rehearsal dinner. Since 80% of our guests were in fact out of town we opened up the BBQ to everyone and it was one of those amazing upstate NY Fall evenings when the world stood still for me and I was surrounded by people I love from across the world. I was so blessed to stand next to the King that night and thank and honor so many people.

Travel Champagne in France, Scottish roadtrips, a girls week in Tuscany, weekends away in Paris, Prague, London, Rome, Barcelona, Belfast, Amsterdam. Listening to the rain on a tin roof in Montagu, S. Africa, seeing natures beauty on safari. Learning that life is an adventure and there is something amazing to see everywhere you go.

But really my true highlights of life will always be feeling the arms of family hug me and hearing them say “I love you.”

That and those moments when you first reconnect with a true friend no matter after 5 minutes or 5 years….Hearing that love in their greeting.

I without a doubt have the best friends….including that pen-pal from long, long ago.

Living Abroad, Love Ireland, Uncategorized

5 Reasons I love Christmas in Cork

December 28, 2013

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Galway Continental Christmas Market 2013

I didn’t think I would ever get into the Christmas spirit this year but the past week has surprised me.  It has been hard at times but to be honest it has been far better than I had anticipated.  I enjoyed it….and of course felt guilty about enjoying it for a while but I’m not going to reflect on that.

The truth is I have always loved Christmas in Cork. 

There are so many reasons why Christmas in Ireland but today here are 5 of my top reasons.

1.  Finishing Up

At some point in November at my 9-5 we all start talking about ‘finishing up.’  Everyone wants to know when everyone else is ‘finishing up’ for Christmas.  When you get into the second week of December the evenings leaving work are filled with someone in the office wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas & New Year as they skip out of the office for the holidays.  Even though I wasn’t even in work this time I loved getting texts from my colleagues telling me when they were ‘finishing up.’   As much as I was up to it I tried to meet friends for a drink or a coffee as they finished. We got out our 2014 calendar the other day and the King and I are already talking about when I hope to ‘finish up’ next year. 

2. December 8th

As any good practising Catholic knows the 8th of December is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  In Cork it is traditionally the day the people in the country travel to the city to do their Christmas shopping (after mass of course).  It is the official start to Christmas time in this house.  While we always decorate on December 1st, the 8th is when we start to crack open the ‘Christmas press’ where we have stashed all the goodies (i.e., chocolates, biscuits, mulled wine, etc) when visitors come to call.  And they will call all month long.

3. The Gift of Time

We buy very few gifts for people outside the family.  Aside from teachers and a few people who went above and beyond for us, or just needed a special gift this Christmas we just don’t exchange gifts with our friends.  We do however make it a point to be with and see as many people as possible over this festive time.  The days are busy with visitors, lunches, coffees, and evening drinks but it’s connecting with people we love that the business of life sometimes keeps us from that this time is about for us.

This is a huge change from my Christmases back home….I would often give gifts and sometimes spend very little time with my friends.  I imagine this is because Americans tend to have less time off and are busy with their families of course. 

4. The Holiday Parties

I know that most places have the obligatory work Christmas party both in Ireland and the US but to be honest I love it here.  Although I didn’t attend this year either the King or I had a holiday party every week from the 29th of November.  There are work parties,  I have team parties for the teams I am on at the 9-5 and then both our jobs have kid friendly family parties. 

5. Santa is an Event

In Ireland you have to start early to do your research and book your trip to Santa.  There are countless Santa experiences around Cork that are amazing.  Although costlier (anything from 20 euro per family or PER CHILD) they usually entail a half hour to hour long visit to a Santa wonderland of sorts which of course ends with a visit to the Mr and Mrs himself complete with a photo and gift!  It hands down beats the mall experience of Santa back home.   Although  while we were home in November  we did visit Santa at Destiny, USA with the cousins and I have to admit in the eyes of my 3 year old Princess the only thing that matters is the man himself!!!!!!

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I miss Christmas at home.  Christmas dinner just isn’t the same to me here and lets face it as someone who grew up with White Christmases each year it’s never the same without snow.  The King and I have also worked hard to combine our traditions.  There are plenty of home baked Christmas cookies in our Christmas press, and our gingerbread house is made.    But the fact is, its the 28th of December and it is still very much Christmas time here until at least the 2 January.

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Mom

November 28, 2013

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When I wrote my last post, I was just getting into the idea of posting more regularly throughout NaBloPoMo.  I was just getting into the swing of things, using blogging to recover from the painful grief of loosing my Dad in September. We were adjusting to a new normal.

Less than 24 hours after writing that post I was on a plane headed for NY.

Within a week I was holding my mother’s hand asking her to always look after the kids as she went to be with Dad.

Two months to the day we laid Mom to rest with Dad.

There are no words.
No words anyone can tell me.
No words I have that can make any sense of this.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am in NY.
The whole family is.
Mom should be here.
They both should be here.
We didn’t have a single holiday mourning Dad and now we mourn them both.

And yet life is still moving forward.
We’re getting up and moving forward everyday.
The kids need us.
We’re adjusting again…somehow trying to figure it all out.

But the truth is I have no idea how to do it. How do you keep going when the two people who have been there championing you and getting you through your entire life are gone so suddenly?

And then in my mind I can hear them…and all the years of love and wisdom and I know that somehow I’ll figure this out.
Mom wouldn’t have left so soon if she didn’t know we’d be ok.
But that rational side of me is too overcome with emotion now and all I want is for them to be here to make pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving Mom & Dad. I miss you both.

Uncategorized

Dad

October 8, 2013

The last time I posted was the evening after Princess M’s 3rd birthday party.

I went to bed that night exhausted but content and happy with my life. Happy that all these years later I was making my life in Ireland work and still including my family back home.

It was craazy and chaotic that day but my mom and dad in New York were participating via FaceTime so much that when recalling who was at her party Princess included Grandma and Grandpa on that list.

What I didn’t know. What I couldn’t possibly have known was that would be the last time I would see Dad.

The next day he was to be admitted to the hospital for like the 5th time this year.

Having just gotten semi-good albeit not the best news the week before I was naive enough to think that this time was no different from previous admissions….he’d stay for about a week and then go home. I was thankful we had just traveled to see them in August, but confident we’d see him again soon.

By Monday night I had fallen into the all to familiar routine of being in constant contact with home, keeping myself as busy as possible in the morning to speed the agonizing wait for an update allowing for the time difference- daily phone calls to Dad’s bed sometimes brief because he was sleeping or being poked, prodded-texts and emails home-phone calls to my siblings that started with “everything is ok” instead of “hi.”

It was stressful and for sure I worried but I thought this time would be like the others.

Tuesday we even managed to mark the actual 3rd birthday for Princess.

By Thursday evening the situation had worsened and hospice was being considered. Deciding to waste not a second more we booked flights last minute and woke the kids at 4am with a surprise trip to America.

We thought we had time.
The doctors said it wasn’t imminent.
I just knew time was limited so we didn’t want to wait another day-we just wanted to go and be together for as long as was left.

Somewhere over the Atlantic after endless tears of what was to come a feeling of peace and calm washed over me.
We landed in Charlotte and the nightmare moment every expat fears became my reality.

Standing in a crowded terminal, walking towards our connecting gate, pushing the Prince in the stroller my world crashed.
We hadn’t made it in time to say goodbye. Dad went peacefully in his sleep as we flew over the Atlantc. We were now travelling home to bury him.

There are few details after that point that I remember. I remember carefully choosing my words to explain this to my just turned three Princess. I remember the King and I not giving a shit at who was looking at us in the crowded airport terminal. I remember a numbness and a feeling that my body was on autopilot for one more flight. And I remember collapsing into the arms of my two best friends who met us at the airport when we finally made it home.

As with all loss they days that followed are blur. And while I still have yet to leave home for my other ‘home’ I know I will fall into the arms of friends upon my return. My grieving process will be long. I’m sure it is for everyone.

Long before this tiny little blog ever got up and running, Dad was it’s biggest supporter.
Over the past year we have had countless discussions over post ideas, names and even technical bits….which neither of us knew anything about.

Over the past 9 months as his health deteriorated and I feared the end coming just before I was to give birth we talked about blogging.

With so few people in my inner circle knowing about my blog, mom and dad were my first followers.
In my 30s having built a life for myself abroad my Dad was my biggest supporter one final time.

With his failing health he stuck around long enough to meet his first grandson and to see this little blog get started. As the grief begins to really set in that is what I hold on too.

I love you Dad…

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Uncategorized

Remembering

September 11, 2013

I used to think it was only about America.
As if Americans were the only ones affected.
The only ones grieving.
The only ones with a story of that day.
That only our lives were changed.

I was wrong.

Everyone has a story. Everyone’s live was changed. Everyone is somehow affected.

The fortunate ones are of course those less directly affected. But it seems everyone still grieves.

The Irish have strong ties with America. You would have to work hard to find an Irish family that doesn’t have some family member no matter how distant having immigrated to America. The American dream from times of famine and economic hardship is still remembered by most here.

So for many Irish, the fallen Irish-American fireman were their own sons and brothers. Many innocent Americans in the towers were Irish too. The Irish remember with sadness and each year honor their memory.

As an American I often don’t want to remember.

I don’t want to remember the fear I felt that day and the days that followed as I lived in Washington, DC as a grad-student.

My stomach turns at the thought of my brother-in-law flying west that morning from Dulles International Airport and what might have been. Or for my family what almost might not have been when I think of my 10 year-old niece.

We have to remember though.

Being in Ireland has taught me how important it is to remember.

I have learned from the Irish that remembering, like time heals. That talking and sharing is healing.

By remembering, and giving those memories to generations to come, we can ensure it never happens again.

Love Ireland, Visit Ireland

We’re Still Hurling

September 11, 2013

Last Sunday’s All Ireland Hurling Final between Cork and Clare was no doubt the much anticipated sporting event of the year. There was great excitement in Cork in the lead up to the game. The match itself proved to be nothing short of exciting. I have since heard of at least one middle aged man spending the rest of the evening under observation in the hospital for chest pains following the stress of the game. By all accounts the final ten minutes were intense with everything to play for. After two minutes of added time it finally had ended….

in a draw….a TIE!!!!!

So what happens when the All-Ireland Hurling final ends in a tie? How many minutes of over-time is there?

The answer is 70 minutes of extra time!!! 70 minutes, an entire re-match will be played at the end of the month.

So for another few weeks the teams will train and prepare. The Cork colours red & white will continue to be displayed outside homes, businesses and on cars.

And once again the search for the coveted tickets begins because being at the match last week does not mean you get into the rematch. The tickets are hard to come by with every GAA club the world over entitled to a portion. The people of Cork and Clare will once again be reaching out to those in other counties…and even other countries for tickets.

So if you’re reading this somewhere back home and have any links with the GAA, I’m sure I can find a few people who would could put a few tickets to use!!!!

Love Ireland, Visit Ireland

The Hurling Tradition

September 4, 2013
Flag of Cork, Ireland

Flag of Cork, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Sunday Cork will play Clare in the All Ireland Hurling Final. Hurling is one of two gaelic sports in Ireland. For those unfamiliar with hurling it is the fastest field sport in the world and probably the closest American sport to hurling is lacrosse. The object of the game is to pass the ball (slioter) on hurleys down the field to score one point by sending it over the bar between two uprights or to score three points by getting the ball into the goal. The players, called hurlers wear no protective padding with the exception of a helmet which were only made mandatory in 2010.

MS Paint image to show GAA colours
MS Paint image to show Clare GAA colours (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most countries across, sport is a significant part of culture. Ireland is no different. Hurling is believed to have been played in Ireland for over 2000 years having been brought to the island by the Celts. During the times of occupation by England, while the Irish language was nearly lost, the gaelic games of hurling and gaelic football continued to thrive. Hurling and gaelic football continue to gain popularity among Irish diaspora across the world with international GAA clubs across the world.

The Irish games of hurling, the women’s equivalent camogie and gaelic football are played in schools and at local clubs within each county. Within Ireland there are over 2000 local GAA clubs (with Cork having the most clubs of any county and over 260). Although both hurling and gaelic football clubs exist in Cork, the county is for the most part known as a hurling county. However, the Cork footballers have been very successful in their own All-Ireland campaign in recent years.

Children start playing young and often dream of the honor and esteem of playing for their own county one day. Even my own held her first hurley before she could walk. There are families throughout the country that are associated with the sport having produced multiple county players across several generations.

This week, as the hurling season draws to a close with the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final the men of the Cork and Clare teams are preparing to battle. They are not professional players, most hold full-time jobs in addition to their commitment to the sport. They have trained hard since childhood. They continue to play for their club teams as well as being included on the county panel for selection. Over the years their families, wives and girlfriends have made many sacrifices for the GAA. The senior players are heroes and icons within their county. They are often seen making charitable appearances at schools, clubs and other community events. They are held in great esteem and have undoubtedly accepted this esteem with dignity and respect.

Across Cork people’s homes, businesses, even towns are decorated in the red and white county colours. Undoubtedly Clare is a sea of blue and yellow this week. Tickets to the match are like gold dust. While the entire country will be watching, this Sunday’s match will mean more to the people of Cork and Clare as it is the country you are born in that you will support for your lifetime.

And as an expat married to a Cork man we live the tradition. The house is decorated, we watch the match all our Cork jerseys are ready to be worn and we’ll be watching together on Sunday.

(Photo credit: just4you.ie)