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Expat Life

New Years Eve in Ireland

December 30, 2015

After over a decade living in Ireland I have concluded that my least faveorite holiday to celebrate here is NYE.  In my early twenties back home NYE was usually marked by a killer house party often in some rented house at the beach or in the mountains.

OK so I’m at the point of my life where NYE house parties would have to include a noise threshold to not wake the little people…maybe I can’t blame that on Ireland.

But I have to admit, after years of thinking it was overrated it turns out I miss the ‘ball drop’ back home.

I had high expectations for my first NYE in Cork. I found myself in an overcrowded (but favourite) pub ready for a new way to ring in the new year.  Somewhere in the vicinity of midnight free bubbly was passed around and then suddendly Auld Lang Syne was being played by the house band and it was 3 minutes past midnight!  No countdown! No timely toast or kiss, a whole lot of mass texting from everyone and NO BALL.

Fast forward ten years and a few kids later and I like NYE in Cork even less.  If there is little sense of occasion in Cork for adults on NYE there  seems to be far less for kids and families.

The lack of family friendly NYE events is a missed opportunity in my beloved city.

I’m used to day long First Night festivities back home pretty much all of which are geared towards families.  Now it seems if we want any sense of family festival you need to head to Dublin.

So we decided to take matters into our own hands.  Through the help of Pinterest I came across the idea for Countdown Bags  from Amy at The Idea Room…and our NYE tradition was born.

Now the Idea Room activities and craftiness were great but I was working pretty last minute and wanting to create a holiday atmosphere for a toddler.  So we created ‘Countdown Envelopes’ (with no crafting involved) and started at 2:00 so we could still make bed time at 7:00!

 

It doesn't get LESS craftier than blank envelopes!!

It doesn’t get LESS craftier than blank envelopes!!

 

The past few years our activities have changed and we have started to introduce times onto the envelopes but the kids love the anticipation of seeing what’s next in each envelope.  As they grow we can add all sorts of fun “Year in Review” & “New Years Resolution” activities.

Our only rule is mandatory participation in all activities for the whole family.   We’ve kept it simple with our activities:

  • Paint our nails
  • Play dress up
    Mandatory participation for the WHOLE family!

    Mandatory participation for the WHOLE family!

     

  • Dance Party
  • Bake brownies
  • Order take-a-way and go get it!                                                                                                       IMG_0498
  • Indoor picnic
  • Make a gingerbread house

    Know any good roofers?

    Know any good roofers?

  • Play a board game
  • Make a fort
  • Pillow fight
  • Movie Night                                                                                                                           IMG_0501
  • It’s Midnight somewhere!!  (We always end on this one which involves watching NYE celebrations on the news or YouTube, playing Auld Lang Syne and ‘midnight’ kisses before bed).

Our tradition travelled with us last year to the US when we celebrated with the cousins, and this year the kids are pitching in their own thoughts on what activities should be included.

We’ve managed to create a pretty killer family NYE party in our Irish country home!

 

Expat Life, Uncategorized

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!

Expat Life, Living Abroad, mixed culture family

Bringing my Easter to Ireland

March 29, 2015

Easter has always been  one of my favourite holidays.  I have such memories of dying Easter eggs and searching for countless eggs.  Of eating chocolate for breakfast and watching the Disney Easter Parade.  I remember singing “in your Easter bonnet” around the house with a straw hat on my head.  As  a teenager I insisted we go through the traditions for far longer than was necessary.  Even in college I would break out the egg coloring kids and baskets.  I love Easter.

My first few Easters in Ireland were particularly hard for me. There was no egg dying, no Easter Bunny and certainly no baskets.  I knew damn well if I was going to stay here and make this work easter had to change. For years mom sent me Spring care packages filled with  Paaz kits and jelly beans.  I’ve filled luggage with plastic fillable Easter eggs and pastel colored grass.  I’ve shopped Michael’s and Target for the perfect baskets and brought them back as carry on luggage.
Easter became one of our first family holiday traditions here.  It was a holiday that seemed to be all our own…. I introduced my American traditions or  Egg colouring & baskets to the King and Princess B.  I filled the eggs for them to find & we ate chocolate for breakfast and Princess B loved searching for her basket almost as much as I did long ago.  We’ve held egg dying parties and made easter chocolates every year.   It was something truly unique to our reconstructed family here and I secretly love that all her Easter memories are here with us.
Although it is getting bigger here,  Easter still is pretty much a non-event in our little predominately Catholic country.  I still get crazy looks when I tell people how much I love Easter or suggest some Easter activity.
I don’t care.
This year my brother has kindly posted the Paaz.  I’ve managed to source some more fillable eggs from the Euro Shop….after all the Prince will be well able to hunt this year so we’re gonna need more eggs.
For the most part in Ireland Easter means two weeks of school holidays and giant store bought chocolate Easter eggs that get handed out to every child by practically every adult they know.  Sure the Easter Bunny is catching on, but it’s a bit too ad hoc to give Santa any cause for concern.
But for our house Easter means a weekend filled making memories together. Of Princess M leaving jam sandwiches and carrots out for the Easter Bunny…an Early morning wake-up call by two eager smallies ready for their chocolate breakfast.  We won’t have a parade but we will have a day together as family.
And we will as always be the American-Irish family we are.

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Expat Life, Love Ireland, Missing Home

TEN

June 30, 2014

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This October will be my 10th Irish birthday or as some expats in Ireland like to call it- my 10th Eire-versary. There will have to be some celebration to mark the occasion, I just haven’t figured it out yet.

It seems impossible that it will be a whole decade since I landed here with two suitcase and not even a rain coat.

I remember telling my mom they day I left I would be back in two years.
She simply said “You won’t.”
Moms are always right.

What started out as a two year stint to have Europe at my feet has become…..life.
An unexpected, far from perfect but joy filled life.

I have without a doubt lived more of my adult life in Ireland.
I have owned more cars in Ireland.
Lived in more houses.
Had more hospital admissions.
Had massive successes.
Experienced great saddness.

Ireland is home…..Syracuse is home.

Is it possible that as an adult I am more Irish while my inner child/teenager remains American at heart?
With every passing day I become more at home in my new country, but I still hold on to my native identity with all my strength.
I catch myself correcting my language…it is NOT ‘rubbish’ it is still ‘trash’ and some days I am making it a point to teach my dual passport holding children to be more AMERICAN. I wonder if it’s all in vain. Should I somehow learn to let go and just be?

Ten years is a LONG time.
I mean it’s a significant amount of time in my life thus far.
And yet I’m still not ready to leave (although I do reserve the right to change my mind).

As I reflect back on the past decade I can’t help but wonder what the next decade will bring. And in another ten years time will I still be lucky enough to have the dilemma of having two homes?

What have you been up to the past ten years?

Expat Life

Why Everyone needs Expat Friends..

January 30, 2014

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wordsonimages.com

Obviously being an expat leads to endless opportunities and experiences that aren’t available to you in your native country. Personally for me the opportunity to meet and form relationships with people from all over is the best part of living an expat life. Upon reflecting on my expat relationships it struck me that everyone, expat or not, needs to have expat friends.

Expats have an open mind.
To leave your comfort zone and truly embrace things that are different requires an open mind. Expats often choose to live an expat life with a desire to understand others. We tend to be curious about other people/cultures. While we may at times disagree, a successful expat does so with an open mind and accepts differences.

Expats are dreamers.
Expats have had the audacity to dream big and take action. They put fear aside and took a leap. If you have a dream-no matter how crazy it may seem- tell an expat. An expat won’t shoot you down, they may just be the push you need.

Expats are optimistic.
Expats tend to see the good in their surroundings before the bad…it’s a survival tactic. If an expat lives in a perpetual state of negativity their new home feels like a prison and their expat life is at threat of an end. Sure we all have bad days, but expats can’t allow themselves to wallow for long. An expat learns to focus on the positives in their life to outweigh the negatives (like home sickness and missing family). If you are in a rut and feeling down, find an expat to help you get reacquainted with the beauty around you.

Expats are rarely idle.
Part of being an expat is living with the knowledge that the current life may come to an end. Expats know all too well that one place may not be home forever. With that in mind expats are keen to take in and see as much as possible in their current location. If you ever wanted to experience something unique about your own home town or area, an expat is great company and always up for a weekend trip or local adventure.

Expats never say goodbye.
Well maybe it’s the exact opposite. Expats are always saying goodbye. We move on, we see our other expat friends move on, but’0l living an expat life teaches you that friendship knows no boundaries. We really do keep in touch. A true expat friend will always stick beside you no matter where in the world they are; and they are excellent at long distance friendships.