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.
If you live in Ireland, any European country, or at least for me, if you live with my King, a love of soccer comes with the package.
I knew early on there were three beings in this marriage, me, the King and sport.
Not willing to be fooled I did bring my own sports to the house. We’ve got hurling, basketball, hockey, american football, GAA, baseball and rugby.
But soccer…which will never be football in Ireland because that would only be an insult to the GAA….soccer continues to allude me.
I am quite content to sit by and potter around on the iPad jumping from time to time as my gentle Irish husband yells profanities at the ref over some off-sides rule. But really I’m not paying attention.
It’s taken me 10 years to get that there are really 5 major leagues that matter in European soccer but don’t ask me to name them. Every year I comment on the anti-climatic end to the English Premier League (give me a good championship of any sport and I am hooked).
So given my ‘vast’ array of knowledge and experience with soccer, there wasn’t much choice as to which team I would back.
I unwittingly became a Manchester United fan long before the King put a ring on my finger, and despite my insistence that the children will one day ‘choose for themselves’ let’s face it their fate is already sealed by the King.
But then every four years it happens….
I can’t help but get utterly consumed by the World Cup. It’s the patriotism and pride in each country. The differences of race and culture all coming together for the GAME. The drama & excitement once we’ve moved beyond the group stages. The nail biting endings in a penalty shoot out. But most of all the images like this…….
the obvious solidarity of team USA is palpabale. The pride and honor of representing one’s country get’s me everytime. A nation backing a team who stands together as one under one flag….
And if soccer can do all that…then maybe it’s time I learn the rules
4 family members.
4 doctor visits.
4 doses of antibiotics.
4 days spent sitting in the hospital (A&E to be exact).
Mommy has held it together. Administering meds, bleaching the house, a mountain of laundry.
Yesterday I surrendered.
5 doctors visits.
5 rounds of antibiotics.
The house needs cleaning.
The laundry is mounting.
Daddy has escaped to work.
There will be an insane amount of screen time today.
And if I can find the energy, a big pot of chicken soup and a hot toddy.
That is how this American in Ireland is going to shake this.
Anyone else have cures for winter’s illness where they are??
This is what has been happening in my house lately…
The King goes off to work in the mornings and its hugs and kisses all around.
We say “Have a good day Daddy!”
and he says
“You too, I’ll see you at dinner.”
And it’s all smiles and happiness. We usually have a quiet morning playing, baking (and yes sometimes t.v.) or whatever in the house because the Prince goes for a GREAT nap mid-morning.
All is happy and for the most part calm in our little corner of the world until around noontime when this happens:
Me: “Are you hungry Princess?”
Princess: “Yes Mommy”
I then proceed to make a mostly nutritious lunch when all hell breaks loose and I get this:
“I’m not hungry!!!!”
“I don’t want that”
“Daddy, daddy, ….DAAAADDDDDYYYY!!!!!!!!!”
“Where’s DADDY?!?!? I WANT DADDY?!?!?”
And the battle begins and continues (albeit intermittently) for the next 4-5 hours depending on the day and when Daddy is due home. Of course she does manage to eat…she has to refuel for battle right?
I am ashamed to admit that by 5:00 I sometimes find it hard to find any joy in my darling daughter who up until recently has brought me nothing but joy. Ashamed, I look forward to the days she goes to pre-school and I am most certainly now looking forward to returning to work myself.
But most of all I feel like a failure. What happened to all the fun we were having?
Since she has turned three she has becoming increasingly independent and strong-willed. For the most part I can roll with it & keep reminding myself how much this will stand to her as a young woman some day. But this lunch time crap is a whole new level.
However today, in a major “A-ha” moment, I think I might have discovered the root of all this drama (and trauma to be honest!!).
In Ireland the main meal of the day is called dinner (like most places). But the thing is, dinner can be very interchangeable.
For example, sometimes our Sunday dinner is at 2:00….most always it is when we are visiting the King’s family for dinner. Sometimes we have it at 5 or even 6 if we have plans during the day.
Growing up the King most certainly came home to a ‘dinner’ after school everyday with an evening tea or light meal. Come to think of it my Dad always talked about growing up similarly and had a light supper most evenings.
I grew up in a house where dinner was almost always at 5:30. Dad worked and we had our dinner when he got home and we ate it all together.
Now, while I am on maternity leave, if the King finishes at 1:30 I almost always have a ‘dinner’ ready at 2:00 or 3:00 even during the week. That is if Princess B has no after school sports. We usually then have a light tea or supper then at 6ish (I still struggle to call a light evening meal tea. To me tea will always be a hot drink). In our house we try to always have dinner together.
At pre-school Princess M has “small lunch” or what I would call snack at 10:30 and “dinner” at 12:30. The pre-school dinner is indeed a well balanced, 4 food group, hot meal. So yes, it’s dinner. But even on those pre-school days she still comes home and we have dinner together as a family at 5ish. We always call it dinner because the King and I have only eaten a lunch that day.
Today, when she asked me at about 10 this morning what was for dinner I told her chicken because that is what I am making this evening. When I put soup and a sandwich in front of her at noon. She ‘lost the plot’ as the Irish say, and screamed she didn’t want lunch, where was dinner. WHERE WAS DADDY??!?!?!?!?!
And I finally got it…to Princess M, dinner means Daddy is home. Because the only thing that is really consistent about dinner is we are usually eating it together. And sometimes this dinner in the middle of the day.
Even though I was feeding her a lunch she liked. It wasn’t good enough because in her little world it should be dinner, right now so Daddy would be home.
And it is traumatic when your king isn’t there when you are expecting him to be.
So after an afternoon of frustrated tears and me trying to explain the whole three meals of a day thing, things are calmer. For today anyway she is ok knowing that dinner will be served at 5:00 and King Daddy will be here for it. She was even ok to eventually have lunch with just her and Queen Mommy (and the Prince).
So now the King and I will have to regroup and decide on if we are going to change our semantics or what.
Just as I was thinking my kids wouldn’t grow up feeling like third culture kids since they are Irish and will be able to identify with the Irish culture, perhaps having two parents of different cultures really will pose its own challenges for them…..
At the beginning of the summer I wrote about my maternity leave and how I had every intention of making the most of my time off since I am so lucky to get so much of it.
My mat leave is officially over, and I am now on un-paid leave for the next little while. I wish I could be taking the full 4 months I am allowed but it’s not in the cards and I’ll be heading back at the end of January.
Since things haven’t turned out how I expected/hoped during my time off I wanted to look back and think about the positives and the highlights of my time off so far because there have been many. And I hope that revisiting our bucket list might inspire me to make the most of what’s left. I know the holidays will be hard for me this year. But it’s still our first holiday season as a family of five. I figure we have a limited number of Christmases when the kids are really young and I just am not willing to let a single one slip past without joy.
So it’s time to remind myself what we wanted to do and to either continue with that plan or adjust.
Our Maternity Leave Bucket List
√ 1.Pick strawberries. While fresh strawberries are abundant in Ireland there are few places to pick your own, however I hear The Apple Farm in Tipp will have pick your own in a few weeks. Strawberry Picking for my birthday was an absolute highlight of the summer!
2. Manis or Pedis with the Princesses now that there are two men in the house it’s time us girls start sticking together. While we’ve done the at home kind I have been keeping this for the winter since it is not weather dependent.
3. Lunch at The Pink Elephant on a sunny day. With a nice beach walk and shell/rock hunt after. I had really hoped for this to be a summer day with a walk on the beach but we never did make it. We were however lucky enough and blessed with the sunshine to make it to the beach lots this summer.
√4. Paint Rocks We spent an entire summer painting and selling rocks when I was small. My dear Princess M loves painting rocks!
√5. Homemade popsicles/ice lolls
√6. Visit Dublin Zoo and FOTA Wildlife Park in Cork. Well FOTA at least anyway. But we did TWO zoos while we were home in NY over the summer so I think we are all had our fill of animals, I am sure we will make it to Dublin some day.
√7. Have a sleepover with Princess M on the futon in the play room.
√8. Splash in muddy puddles….this is Ireland after all
√9. Eat chocolate/vanilla twist soft serve ice-cream in NY. Twice…and also in Canada.
10. Swim in a lake in NY. we never did make it to the lake, we opted to take the kids up to Niagara Falls instead so the only swimming there was the hotel pool!
11. Have a fondue party. My sister and her family gave us a fondue set and we don’t use it enough.
12. Picnic in Fitzgerald Park, Cork. We love picnics and Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork is a special place. How did we miss this one? We picnicked A LOT this summer but it was mostly at the beach because the weather was THAT warm.
√13. Wash cars with Princess M.
14. Visit the M.O.S.T. in Syracuse.
√15. Visit a farm.
16. Spend the day in Cobh, Co Cork when a cruise liner comes in. The cruise season might be over but Cobh is pretty in the Christmas so maybe we will still get down there.
√17. Participate in World Social Media Day.
√18. Have an indoor picnic on a rainy day.
√19. Water gun fight.
20. Fly kites.
√21. Take family photos. We did this in NY and if you are in the Syracuse area there is no one as talented as Lisa Rossi Photography for maternity, new-born, and family shots. I swear.
22. Visit the Ewe Sculpture Garden
23. Afternoon tea with the princesses. This is one of my favorite treats that I do with my girlie friends and it will be a nice treat to introduce the girls to. I’m waiting for the Christmas decorations to go up around here because Princess M will love it. The King actually took Princess B for afternoon tea. He didn’t get it. She loved it.
√24. Library story time.
√25. Enroll Princess M in a class.
√24. Try a new park.
25. Go to the drive in
√26. Go to a concert with the King…like Bruce in July!!!!! If I actually had a real bucket list seeing Bruce live would be on it. We were so lucky that he came to Cork this summer and the King and I had a great date night!!!
√27. Plant flowers
√28. Take a road trip somewhere new.
√29. Make sundaes
√30. Have a make your own pizza party. Is it possible to do this TOO much? I like to think this is making pizza a ‘healthy dinner’ since we are making it at home….I’m not so sure our Make Your Own Nacho Parties are remotely healthy though.
So that’s where we’re at. All things considered I think we did a good few Irish and American things on our list. We’ve done so much more over the past few months and I am really looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and the month-long celebration that is Christmas over here! I love Christmas in Cork and I can’t wait to talk about it all through December! Our first Christmas party is actually the day after Thanksgiving. That whole weekend we are doing Christmasy things and I can’t wait!!!!!
Happy Halloween from Ireland. The kids are on midterm break so we have been celebrating all week-long!!
It was about 8 years ago that the King carved his first pumpkin. I remember explaining in detail that he had to clean out the insides first….around that time I ate my first slice of Halloween brack and he gave me careful instructions to not choke on the ring if I found it.
Ever since then we’ve been trying to combine our two cultures to make traditions of our own family.
His pumpkin carving has gotten significantly better, but I still haven’t bothered to actually make my own brack though.
Pumpkins 2013 by the King
I didn’t realize it until this year, but I guess I try to get the kids costumes back home if possible. In Ireland Halloween costumes tend to be on the spooky, bloody, evil side. This year Princess M spotted a puppy costume in Target when we were home last month…the upstate NYer/mother in me couldn’t help but notice there was plenty of room to layer warm clothes underneath…the King noted it was the very opposite of spooky. We bought it.
We decorate, we read Halloween stories and watch spooky(ish) movies all in the lead up to the big day. And while I still have difficulty finding It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown we manage.
And even though there is sadly no pumpkin patches or corn mazes near by, we find an autumn Halloween party somewhere in the community and pick our stemless pumpkins from the grocery store. And we come home and make chocolate covered apples and toast pumpkin seeds.
Tonight the King will light a fire in the fireplace and remind me that the origins of Halloween came from Celtic Ireland. I will make last-minute adjustments to costumes, get ready for trick-or-treaters and politely remind him that America does Halloween best. We’ll both laugh and toast our family with a Guinness or even a hot whisky because hot apple cider is hard to find….
How do you make Halloween your own?