Living Abroad, Love Ireland, Visit Ireland

Irish Cold

November 9, 2013

One thing that I never seem to get used to is how cold it actually is here…..says the girl from New York.

I mean temperature wise it doesn’t often get below freezing but it’s FREEZING!!!!!

I grew up in negative degrees Fahrenheit so it still amazes me that it can be 9 or 10 Celsius and I am freezing!

What you need to know if you are coming to Ireland anytime November-March is that regardless of the temperature reading, it is cold. It’s like a damp cold that you can’t shake. And sometimes in some buildings, you might as well be outside.

Sometimes my job requires me to visit various schools and I always wear at least two pair of socks and even then I can’t feel my feet. I often see teachers teach in heavy jumpers and scarves!!! The kids don’t seem to feel it though.

The Irish also have a thing about not wearing your coat inside because you won’t get the maximum out of it when you actually do go outside, but sometimes I am too damn cold inside to take it off.

All is not lost though, I have some new Irish winter time habits that I absolutely adore.

HOT WATER BOTTLES

Hot Water Bottle Cover

Hot Water Bottle Cover (Photo credit: suziesparkle)

 

Amazing. My grandma used to have one of those red ones that had a rotten rubbery smell, but here hot water bottles go inside cozy, furry cover that just demands cuddling up with.  And of course with an electric kettle the water is hot in no time! The princesses both love going to bed when it’s been pre-warmed by a hot water bottle.

ELECTRIC UNDER-BLANKETS

It’s an electric blanket that goes under the fitted sheet! LOVE! (sometimes I take my hot water bottle to bed with my electric under-blanket…not sure how safe it is but so comfy).

SCARVES & BOOTS

O.K. this isn’t anything new for me since moving to Ireland.  Give me boots over flip-flops any day and I don’t believe you can have too many scarves.

To be honest I pretty much love winter both here and in NY despite the cold.  I do long for the snow back home (which started snowing this week apparently) though.

It makes me giggle when I see the Irish freaking out over the winter weather but to be honest, when it gets below freezing in this damp country quite often things are covered in a sheet of ice.  I however have yet to see a New Yorker wear socks outside their shoes for safety…..

 

Being Mommy, Love Ireland, mixed culture family

Maternity Leave Bucket List (Up-date)

November 8, 2013

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. 

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√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!!!

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√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!!!!!

Love Ireland

Rainbows

November 7, 2013

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The kids and now the King are all sick- I have that feeling of impending doom for myself…it’s only a matter of time.

So I’ll save my sanity today & share one of my very favorite things about Ireland…

rainbows.

There really are a lot of rainbows here…more than there were in NY anyway. Enough in fact to become blasé about them, but I still haven’t. Every time we see a rainbow one of us will shout it out excitedly & we always take a second to soak in the beauty around us.

Love Ireland

Irish Skills- The Art of Fire Making

November 6, 2013
Co. Cork

I knew when I made the decision to live abroad a whole world of opportunities would be open to me and that I would now doubt learn many new things.  Some things are obvious, of course I learned to be more flexible, be more understanding and tolerant.  But there are some skills living in Ireland has taught me that I have surprised me, so I thought I’d spend some time posting on these new skills in a bit of a series.

The Art of Fire Making

coal fire

coal fire (Photo credit: see like click)

Growing up we never had a fire-place…Santa used the front door.  Of course there are plenty of homes in Upstate NY that had some sort of fireplace we just weren’t one of them.

When I first moved to Ireland I was fortunate to live in a house share with three other girls.  There was a fire place but I never had to bother with it.

My next place had a gas fire and sure anyone can learn to flip a switch.  Not that I bothered much, it really didn’t give off more heat than the radiators so I didn’t see much point.

It wasn’t long before the King then convinced me to move out into the country where we lived in an idyllic 200-year-old farm-house.  Idyllic and cold as hell.

Co. Cork

Fire building was survival, it was impossible to keep the whole house warm and most of the radiators were turned off in rooms we didn’t use.  There were days I saw my own breath in that house.  We spent most of our winters there huddled in the sitting room by the fire.  It was cozy and freezing.

With mixed emotions we had to leave our farm house when I was pregnant with Princess M…we just couldn’t have a baby there.  If it had been warmer and drier though we certainly would have stayed.

Now we’re living in a much warmer house that is right smack tucked into the middle of two other warm houses.  Warm is still a relative term though. I am certain anyone who visits from the US would not use warm to describe my house.

I have come to appreciate and enjoy a warm fire after a long day.  Or in fact on a very dark afternoon.  It’s like lighting a fire forces you to be still and relax.

It has taken me years to learn to build a real fire.  For a long time I cheated with those ‘fire in a bag’ things that you just threw in the fireplace and put a match to.  But finally after 9 years,  I feel confident that I have learned the proper sequence of firelighters, kindling, coal, wood and even peat.  I finally have the proportions right.  I have learned to practice patients and wait until the coals are burning orange before packing more on the fire and tucking myself in on the couch.

Our house currently has the added bonus of a back-boiler which when turned on takes heat from the fire-place and heats all the radiators in the house including the hot water tank.  With a good fire going we can heat the whole house.

I am sure there are a million down sides to a fire, its dirty, probably not the best for the environment etc etc.

But I do think the skill of making a good fire is handy to have…and if/when we leave Ireland fireplaces, the smell of fire and burning turf on a cold winter’s eve will be something I will undoubtedly miss and long for.

Blogging

Late to the Party- NaBloPoMo

November 5, 2013

So last week- when things were a million times calmer in our castle- I registered to participate in NaBloPoMo or for those of you who don’t know National Blog Posting Month it is committing to posting every day for the month of November.  Every day.

NaBloPoMo November

And here we are November 5th and I have yet to publish a single post!!!!

So as I lay in bed last night beating myself about it I got to thinking….

I know I’m pretty new at this blogging thing but I am pretty sure the kind people over at BlogHer.com didn’t create this event so people could feel inadequate or like failures…in fact I’m pretty sure their intent was the exact opposite

It seems since I became a mom I find myself feeling inadequate about plenty of things and that needs to stop…or at least I need to vow not to let blogging become another one.

So I began to think why I initially thought signing up would be a good idea in the first place. I was all for it last week.

On reflection I realized the reason I signed up was to make a commitment to myself (not some blogging gods somewhere on the web) to just write.  That for the month of November I would just commit to writing more.  I’d ignore all the other stuff like widgets, and themes, and social media and just see what happens when I write.

So that’s what I intend to do.

I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, maybe I can start my month today and post every day until December 5.  Or maybe (probably more likely) I will miss a few days because who knows what life’s going to throw our way next.  But I’m just going to commit myself to writing more and see where it leads.  And if I go to bed at night not posting, well I am not going to feel bad about that or feel like I have let myself down because those feelings are pointless and not helpful at all. Whether they be about blogging or whatever…

So I may be late to the party…I might not stay for long…but I am here and I came for myself to have fun and maybe learn something and meet a few new people along the way.

Living Abroad, Love Ireland, mixed culture family

Making Halloween our Own

October 31, 2013

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

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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.

Making the chocolate apples

Making the chocolate apples

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?

Living Abroad, Missing Home

Nomophobia

October 30, 2013

Today’s word of the day is……nomophobia.

Nomophobia: the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, or without your phone.

Apparently it’s actually short for no-mobile-phone phobia.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is an irrational fear…most phobias are irrational fears anyway right?

Some people have phobias about the dark, spiders, being alone.  Not me, I am certainly suffering from nomophobia.

At least once a day I have this heart racing moment where I think “I’ve lost my phone!!!!!” only to realize I didn’t dig deep enough in my bag, or it’s in the other pocket of my jeans.

photo courtesy of http://cuboiart.blogspot.com

I am always feeling that loss of breath when my phone slips out of my hands and lands face down on the concrete and I think “oh no it’s shattered.”  It’s kinda like that feeling when I look at Princess M and know she is going to face plant and there is nothing I can do to stop it from happening….

Yep I just likened my feelings for my phone to my feelings for my child.

For about a year now I have been cursing my iPhone and wishing phones never got “smart.”  I never felt this way about my old flip phone….the only fear then was that the antenna would snap off.

Not now though. I live in fear of being without my phone.  There are a number of reasons I fear being without my phone:

  • what if the wait in the doctor’s office is long and I forget my phone?  I’ll have nothing to do because you know I won’t touch those germ laden magazines.
  • what if I forgot my phone at home and get lost on these Irish country roads…my phone is my GPS.
  • what if I don’t have my phone and I decide to spontaneously stop at the ocean and go for a walk how will I know what the crazy Irish weather will be like for the next half hour?
  • what if I’m out for coffee with the girls and the Princess starts to lose it right when we’re getting to the good chat…what will I give her as a last resort?  (go ahead judge all you want but don’t try to tell me you don’t do it too).

Sadly the list is endless, but most of all there are TWO reasons I live in fear of being without…most of all losing my phone…

  • Pictures. The hundreds of pictures that chronicle the joy of my life, I simply don’t back up enough.  OK this is getting better, with the cloud but I just got IOS 7 over the weekend because I had to take all my pictures off to make room.  Taking some of those photos off my phone felt like cutting off my arm.
  • Being out of contact with home. For even one minute.

It’s a double edge sword.  I love being in constant contact with home if needed. For the important stuff but also for the random moments (like when I just need to text my college roommate to tell him that I tripped at fell on my face in the middle of town and then walked off like no one saw).  I love treating my hometown news like is still my ‘local’ news.  And I love that I can email Mom a picture of the kids doing nothing but doing it right now.  You see without my phone I can’t pretend I am still ‘there’ when I’m actually here.

So yeah…I live in fear about being without my phone.  I’m sure you could say I am an iPhone addict….what’s the word for that?

But show me an expat that isn’t…..

Are you addicted to your phone??? Why???

Being Mommy, Living Abroad

The Days are Long…..

October 23, 2013

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This quote by Gretchen Rubin has come to mean so much to me in the past few weeks.

My maternity leave is fast coming to an end and while I am gracious for the time I have had, the thought of returning to work in January weighs heavily on me.

I am dreading returning to a two parent in full time work household and am worried how we will stay on top of family, work and house commitments… which one will suffer?

For me one of the top reasons for living and raising the kids in Ireland is because I feel I maintain a better work life balance here than in the US. That balance made the trade-off of being far from home worthwhile. Now I am worried if that balance will remain.

And yet I have to return to work. There is the obvious financial reasons, but I know in my heart I will always need some sort of a career, something for me.

It took me 6 years and a lot of hard work to become a qualified speech and language pathologist. I’m proud of my career and I’m good at it.

The truth is, as much as I have loved these past few months there have been days where I knew going to work would have been easier. Days like yesterday when my independent Princess challenged me on every single decision….I didn’t butter the bread on the right side….She “SAID” she wanted to wear a different jumper (even though the words never passed her lips).

Yesterday was a long day for sure, but then at night she wanted to read me a bedtime story, and I remembered….the years are short.

I just hope I can find a balance and enjoy it while I can.

Love Ireland

Monday Morning Coffee

October 21, 2013
The Move to America

Molly from The Move to America is running a blog social/link up over on her blog. I’ve never done a link up before and figured this was a good place to start since it seems like pretty much anything goes as long as you are talking about your week ahead.

Here’s hoping I do it right….

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guinessjazzfestival.com

This week is the Guinness Jazz Festival in Cork. It’s also a long weekend since Monday a bank holiday. In years past we have put on our dancing shoes and soaked up the jazz until the wee hours. The great thing about ‘the jazz’ is that you never are disappointed. With nearly every venue in the city participating there is always something to choose from. I have to admit we’re not serious jazz connoisseurs but usually just head out for ‘the craic’ we usually go wherever the mood takes us and pub hop throughout the night. We’ve never been disappointed.

Like I said those are days gone by…this year…with little people in tow we will opt for one of the countless family friendly day time options. Which is also another reason why ‘the jazz’ is so great….it really is a family friendly festival.

One of the gigs that has really grabbed our attention is the Pink Panther Kids and All That Jazz where Fintan O’Neill will jazz up Disney favorites.

And maybe if we’re lucky Nanny and Grandad might take the kids for the night…..

If you ever have a chance Jazz Festival weekend is the last weekend in October and is a great time to visit Cork.

Being Mommy, Travel

Flying solo….with the kids

October 18, 2013

From the moment I first found out I was pregnant with the Prince I knew that this day would come. That at some point soon I would be flying solo across the Atlantic with at least two kids.

I have been mentally preparing to make this trip forever. We simply can’t afford to all fly each time so I always knew this would be my reality.

One of my good friends flew from Cork to Vancouver in the Spring by herself with her then 5-year-old and newborn daughters. At the time I remember trying to build up her confidence on how easy it would be. But in my own mind I was still trying to build my own confidence for my inevitable journey from Cork to NY.

Well, this weekend it was time to put all my mental and practical preparation to use. Having flown over all together, the King left Upstate NY 10 days before us to return to work. On Saturday it was our turn.

In hindsight I now know there is actually no way to be prepared for three flights (one overnight, transatlantic) with two kids under 4 in tow. I feel the need to explain that we booked these tickets last-minute and had few options…generally we try to avoid two connecting flights but it wasn’t possible this time.

All started off well enough, despite my extreme edginess in the morning. The thought of leaving home and saying goodbye is always tough on me. Add to this, flying solo with two kids and throw in some side effects of Sudafed in my system and my heart was really racing.

Generally, I hate the way Sudafed makes me feel and stay away from it, but recent bouts of aerosinusitis- which I never even knew was a THING- have left me pretty debilitated in flight. If you’ve ever had it you know what it is and would probably agree that the side affects of Sudafed are far more manageable and certainly more preferable when flying solo with kids.

Anyway, the thing about being a mom is you sometimes just don’t have time to give into emotions much.  As soon as I turned my back on the family I was leaving behind there was no time for tears because two little people were both demanding my attention. 

We were traveling about 18 hours in total door to door.  Like I said there really is no preparation.  All-in-all we made it with only a bit for sweat & tears (mostly mine) but thankfully no blood. 

Aside from the Princess breaking out in hives somewhere over the Atlantic leading me to stay awake staring at her the entire flight while she slept soundly…and a late landing which forced me to sprint through Heathrow airport with the Prince strapped to me pushing the Princess in the stroller & her screaming “excuse me” to a packed terminal….we made it home sans luggage but on time to collapse in Daddy’s arms, shower and sleep.  In that order.

However there were a few lessons I will take with me next time…..

  • I was carrying far too much stuff.  Although it seems the little they are the more gear they require, I wasn’t making life easy on myself.  Sure having two connecting flight increases the likelihood of getting delayed somewhere but seriously when was the last time my son ever went through 17 diapers and four changes of clothes in a day or even two.  Even if we did get delayed I’m pretty sure wherever we were would have at least one store stocking the essentials.
  • Airports and airplanes are really entertaining for a three-year old….I thought the bag of tricks we brought was quite small but turns out it was completely unnecessary.  Aside from the iPad, a colouring book and her blanket she did not even open her bag of tricks so I was lugging it senselessly.  And yes I was lugging it despite my intent to keep it the size & weight a three-year old can manage…we all know how thatgoes.
  • Raisins are no longer enticing.  During one of our previous trips, the Princes once at 6 boxes of raisins and it kept her quite happy.  There isn’t much point into the big stash of treats (ok…bribes) that I was carrying.  Stopping to get an ice cream and some sweets from the shop was all that she needed to tow the line.
  • Avoid Heathrow at all costs.  I have said this before…that place will one day be the death of me for sure….but I keep going back!!  The security checks and biometric screening for everyone (TWICE) to not even leave the airport is ridiculous.  You try telling a three-year old just off an 8 hour overnight flight that she has to stay still and look at a camera for nearly 30 seconds.
  • Do whatever it takes to survive.

Anyone else have any fail proof tips while flying solo with the kids?

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