Halloween

All of our constant moving has made me anxious about the idea of traditions. I am coming to accept that our life will be peripatetic, so it seems even more important that as a young family we create traditions. Last year, we took the boys to a pumpkin patch on one of those glorious, sun-warm fall days. We got lost in a corn maze and frolicked in a pit of corn kernels.

Corny

On Halloween, we dressed them up in adorable animal costumes and hit the party at the local library with our playgroup. Here’s a bit of time travel (photo by my friend Colleen):

C one year ago as a lion

Halloween is our first official holiday in this new country, so I really wanted to dress up the boys (for some inexplicable reason, they call costumes “fancy dress,” as in, we’re going to a “fancy dress” party). And though I wish I could upload some photos of them as a dinosaur and a shark, they lasted about 30 seconds in them and then demanded “Off! Off!”

So pumpkin-carving became extremely important. We got a pumpkin last weekend and went out into the lane to carve it before the flooding rains came.

I sketched a design on the front, then Sascha cut off the top. I wanted to save the seeds so we could roast them

The boys put on their "work" boots to help

Soon we attracted an audience, one of the neighborhood cats.

Sascha did the face carving, and voila! The roasted pumpkin seeds were not as successful. Let's just blame the damn fan-assisted oven.

Later in the week, we went out to the Halloween party at their creche. We thought perhaps if they saw the other children in their costumes, they might put on theirs. Each time I suggested it, I was met with “No, no.” It goes with the territory, I suppose. I read somewhere that toddlerhood is a kind of mini-adolescence. They are like little teenagers sometimes.

They did show us some of the things they made for the party.

Sascha’s office was pretty festive. Everyone dressed up on Friday. One of his coworkers was Sascha. Sascha got some Brylcreem, a cigarette and lighter, and made business cards that read, “Womanizer, Alcoholic, Sometimes Ad Exec” and was Don Draper.

That night, Sascha got some good news and we asked our sitter to babysit last minute so we could go out and celebrate. I am happy to report that after many “eh” meals in restaurants that were highly recommended (posts on dining in Dublin with and without the wee ones forthcoming), we had a fantastic dinner at Eatery 120.  Best burger I’ve had since being in Ireland.

And I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see if for myself on Skype, but I guess it will be a snowy Halloween on the east coast of the U.S. So much for tradition!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Daytripping to Malahide

Gallery

This gallery contains 35 photos.

In the space of 24 hours, a month’s worth of rain has fallen. There is flooding on certain streets but we are all fine. Yesterday, sitting in some areas of the house where the skylights are above us, I felt … Continue reading

Time, time, time

When Gramby and Papa P. visited, we all went to the Natural History Museum at the National Museum of Ireland, or as locals call it, “The Dead Museum.” Things there are preserved in all sorts of ways—in sealed glass, in jars of liquid, pinned to panels, stuffed and mounted.

For kids–even toddlers like G & C–it’s a fantastic place. Not only is admission free, but also the guards were very relaxed. I am used to hovering museum guards telling me, “ma’am, behind the line” as I inch closer to examine something. Even the grounds were open to run around.

The boys are now 21 months old, marching rapidly toward two and the time we will no longer measure their age by months but instead by years.

The boys loved kicking up the fallen leaves, gathering bunches and tossing them, and trying to mount the topiary reindeers. They also enjoyed rapping (bang! bang!) against the oxidized copper on the statues to hear the vibration.

Inside, the museum is like an impressive relic of museums themselves. (Sort of the way The Museum of Jurassic Technology harkens back to another time in museum-going.) It was built in 1857 by the Royal Dublin Society and Sascha and I thought it seemed almost exactly like the Natural History Museum in Paris, though somewhat smaller in scale, that we visited with Joey, Marion, & N.  (Speaking of which, I have to add Joey’s Dad’s book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, to my “to read” list.  Have any of you read it?)

The lower floor is dedicated to all creatures found (or once found) in Ireland—so many insects! I picked up G so we could peer over a student’s shoulder as he sketched a beetle. We gently folded back leather covers over the glass to look in the cabinets, and there were many drawers for the boys to pull open and close. Having done my battle in various cities with cockroaches, bees, and spiders, I prefer the insects motionless under glass. The sea life in their aqueous tombs (some specimens dating from the early 1900’s) were a bit disgusting, and make me question whether I would ever enter the waters around Ireland.

Up a tough flight of stairs was the impressive hall of mammals, and looking at animal anatomies without skin and fur and eyes, you see just how similar mammal-kind is when you are down to bones. For the preserved animals, you could see the stitching on their bellies, and touch their leathered skin. Across an aisle: a giraffe and then its skeleton with magnificent leg bones towering above you.

According to brain science, the boys won’t be able to access what they experience here. Though each moment is filled with a hundred new discoveries, and every day they lay tracks through their brains as they orient themselves in the world, we will function as their memory of what their time here was like.

We have bits and bytes of so many moments—cell phone videos, video camera videos, cell phone pictures, voice memos, camera photos—we are doing our best to capture and hold on to these fragments of time.

If you could preserve memories--suspend moments in time--what would you house in the museum of your mind?

Just so you know

“It looks so lovely, your life,” my friend V. said when we Skyped the other day. “When I read your blog, I think ‘it looks lovely.'”

We brought our petite trash bin dutifully outside. These days, I look forward to trash collection very much, because it only happens every other week. Have I mentioned we have twins? In diapers?

Yes, on our lovely street, we have a tiny bin that Sascha gets in to stomp down the trash and get us to the exalted day when trash gets collected and we can begin again. But yesterday, we dragged the bin back, still full. I was deeply distressed. I double-checked online that we had the right date for collection.

After starting at “position 29 in the queue” on the phone, I finally spoke with someone at Dublin City Council who told me that the trash bin was purposefully left behind with our disgusting diapers and rotting meat and such because the account was in “arrears” from the previous owners. We would need to set up a new account under our name. I knew we’d have to pay for trash collection, but the owners neglected to mention we’d have to set up an account. They made it sound like we’d just get a bill.

So here it is, my breaking point in loveliness. I don’t want to do this often, but I’m going on barely any sleep (the boys have been on some night-waking bender the past week), and we are talking about rotting garbage. In America, (yes, Dad, I said it), I would have just recited numbers on a credit card over the phone, she would have taken some info, and bam! instant account with a paying customer, no interruption in service. Here in Ireland, however, they do things a bit more slowly and a lot more verbosely. Everything you do requires various letters: ones you write, ones you wait for. Not emails. Not forms you download and print out. Letters. We get a letter informing us the gas company has added our email to the account. A letter telling us to send a letter to immigration. Lots of mail, but I guess at least their post isn’t nearing bankruptcy like ours.

My instructions to set up a new account are as follows: send a copy of our lease (1st and signatory page) along with a letter requesting that a new account be set up. And then I guess we wait for a response as to when we are good to go with leaving our trash curbside.

So tomorrow, these are on our “to do” list:

1) Walk with boys and strollers and bags full of glass bottles (clank-clank through Ranelagh Village) to the “Bring Centre,” where, you guessed it, you have to bring your glass recyclables because the regular recycling pick-up does not collect them.

2) Take a taxi stuffed with our hideous refuse several miles away to the only center that will accept our trash. (This is Sascha’s idea. Mine was to surreptitiously throw away smaller bags of trash under cover of night at various public bins until we had a manageable amount in ours that might tide us over to the time where we can have our trash collected.)

3) Compose an epistle to the Dublin City Council on behalf of our rejected bin.

 

This is the glamorous life I lead. On very little sleep. Jealous?

Making mum friends

Hard to believe it, but yesterday marked a month since our arrival. This week, my mother will return to the States, and so our settling in phase will make way for real life here, on our own. Which means: I probably have to make some friends. Otherwise, when G or C have those fun times where they lie down on the floor screaming, I may just get down and join them.

Usually, groups of women make me extremely uncomfortable. This is either the lingering effect of having grown up with all brothers and mostly male cousins, or some leftover high school trauma I still haven’t sorted out. And I like the friends I’ve had since before babies, because how can you form sentences or get to any interesting conversation when you are constantly dashing off to make sure someone doesn’t hurl themselves off the playscape? Plus, these friends knew me when I didn’t wear bad clothes, supportive shoes, or my hair in a bun on a daily basis. They knew me when I had a job and talked to adults.

But if you move, you have to leave people behind. The last place I lived in —after tearfully departing L.A. and the friends who nursed me through pregnancy and whose babies I was among the first to hold– had a mother’s group. Reluctantly, I joined. Through it I met C., and also S. C. had organized a group of moms with similarly-aged children. C, L, J, and D were the core group of us that tried to meet up on Thursdays and do something. Bit by bit, we got to know each other, and I left feeling sad. If we had stayed, perhaps some would have deepened into real and lasting friendships.

Here, though, it’s like I am thrust back into the awkwardness of dating: You catch someone’s eye in the playground, smile casually, and then maybe strike up a conversation while pushing the swings. But if it feels like you are clicking, how do you take it to the next level? I don’t want to seem too desperate, making the first move, “Can I have your phone number?”

One day I actually re-met the woman I wrote about on our first day in Dublin, in Herbert Park. She was the one who asked when we had moved to Dublin and I responded, “5:00 a.m. this morning.” To which she shouted, “Welcome!” while also, I think, trying to conceal her shock that we were not at home sleeping. Anyway, after chatting again, she asked for my number! She said she would text me about getting together! I was pretty excited. But a few days passed, and I grew increasingly insecure, waiting for the text. I should have asked for her number in return. But then if I texted her when she said she was going to text me that would look sad. I picked up my phone in that annoying, illogical impulse that holding it and checking it can will someone into responding.

Recently I met up with another mum, because her son attended a crèche/pre-montessori we were considering for the boys. (More on the process of “detachment” in another post.) She was awesome. Laid-back, even though she has a two-month old and is on maternity-leave from Google. We chatted for an hour and a half. She suggested getting together again, some afternoon. This one is promising, though she did decline my invitation to get together last week. Sigh.

As for the Herbert Park woman, she’s toying with me. I got a few text invitations, but when I can’t show up to the thing she’s proposed (group activities that would require a car), I don’t get a response back to my texts suggesting another meet-up. I think she’s not ready for the one-on-one, and is doing the group invitation. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much how Sascha and I started “dating.”