The Jersey Shore of Ireland

We have found the Jersey Shore of Ireland.

Just a 20-minute drive through bucolic green hills of sheep and cows, and distant, shimmering water, lies a fantastically tacky seafront with rides, arcades, souvenir shops, and tragic teens called Tramore. (On rainy days, it also has a warren of corrugated metal buildings known as an industrial park, where one can find such offerings as a paint-it-yourself pottery place, and two different indoor play areas for children staffed by surly teens.) I love it, in the way I loved Coney Island before most of it was razed to make way for luxury condos and hotels, and in the way that it reminds me of preteen summers in “The Sound.”

The morning started off well enough. This is the view from People’s Park in the village of Dunmore East

C in training to be a polar bear with his Gramby. The cold water did not deter him at all.

Based on the 12-year-olds with thigh-grazing hair, severely drawn-in black eyebrows and terra-cotta canned-tan skin that made them look almost forty, there is a reality show opportunity here. One appeared to be wearing a peach toga she clutched at nervously while on a ride. I wanted to scrub their faces clean. “You are my pale people,” I would say. And I would promise they would find someone to love them.

How can you not love such a defiantly summer place even when there is no real summer at all? (Yes, I should have brought my wool coat. In August. To our beach vacation. I am paying for my psychological block against doing this.)

We discovered Tramore out of desperation. Following a morning where we had already gone grocery shopping, eaten two breakfasts, gone to the playground, and the beach, we thought the boys would nap. The rain had started and so we went back to the place we are renting to put the boys down. Thus began the games: G hurled himself out of the pack ‘n play with the skill and body torquing of a pole vaulter. For an hour and a half, we tried threats and low voices. We had throbbing headaches from not enough sleep ourselves. Finally we took them into our bed, and when they still wouldn’t sleep, we put in a DVD. Fear not, American Academy of Pediatrics. TV is no opiate for my children.

We had to get out of the house.

C started having an epic meltdown out of sheer exhaustion. I think the trigger was putting his jeans on, or maybe his socks, but whatever it was we had to carry him, rigid and screaming, to the car. They were out within four minutes.

It is clear that when away from home, we need to be either: 1. Out walking in the stroller during their nap time or 2. In a car driving. It means there is no napping for us, no real downtime, until they finally crash at night. Of course it was too late now for them to have any real nap, so we needed a massive distraction.

Some may call Tramore a blight. For us the blinking, garish lights and din of shrieks and pumping bass arose from the Southeast shore of Ireland like a beacon of hope in a desert afternoon of parenting. The boys drove remote control trucks, rode fire engines, bounced in a trampoline.

G asked: “Are dere mans up there?” Somehow it rained 20 minutes away, but not here

Today we went back for the circus.

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Are you bored of this yet? I am.

Blog silence on my end wasn’t planned, but the transition to toddler beds has been a major upheaval in our lives.  Things actually deteriorated since the last post. And I haven’t been writing about it because it is so banal.

According to the internet of crazy, desperate Googlers like me, “Twin Escalation Syndrome” is a major factor. In other words, the fact that there are two of them means they do not get bored with quiet time and lack of parental attention and just fall asleep. Oh no.  Case in point: one day, during nap time, I went to check on them (our video monitor is in storage in the U.S., with the rest of our belongings) and discovered that they had pushed over their beds, climbed up on the dresser (thankfully this was bolted to the wall), and pulled down all the diaper ointments. They opened the can of Sudocream, and had smeared it all over the floor, themselves, the sheets, and the curtains. They also emptied the dresser drawers. Sudocream, in case you aren’t familiar, is kind of like white grease paint. Here are some pictures from that afternoon.

In Galway, they climbed out of their pack ‘n plays every few minutes until about 9:30pm, launched themselves into the tub, ran into our adjoining room, etc, and then had complete tantrums by day out of sheer exhaustion.

It has been very discouraging, because before this the boys were good sleepers on the whole, and we worked hard to achieve that.  But I don’t want to keep blogging about it. “This too shall pass,” we tell ourselves. It must.

Here is the last I will say on the matter–I know the next sleep hurdle is the loss of the nap, but I cannot bear to think of that now. I don’t want to call them tips, but learn from our mistakes:

1. If you have rambunctious, very curious children, consider a mattress on the floor. Otherwise the junior bed may seem like little more than a climbing apparatus. C got two black eyes from jumping on his bed and hitting the edge of it.

2. Bolt furniture to the wall. I always thought this might be an over-the-top move as far as baby-proofing goes, but if we hadn’t done that, the dresser would have fallen over when they were climbing up on it to reach their diaper creams.

3. Do not expect this transition to happen in three days, or a week. Expect a massive disruption, especially with naps. Expect to feel as underwater from sleep loss as the early months.

4. Toss all parenting books. In your sleep-deprived state, inane advice such as “Set the ground rules: tell them they must stay in bed until it is light out/Mommy and Daddy come get them,” will only enrage you.

5. If you have twins or other multiples, you’ll probably need to separate them. We bought another security gate for the guest room. At first just putting one in there for a few minutes was upsetting enough that he would decide he would return to his room and stay in bed. However, if the other one was up as well, it presented a big problem. Basically they just chatted through the gates to each other and threw things out into the hallway. So, the next step was me saying I had to “lock” the doors (the doors don’t actually have locks, so this required me to stand in the hallway holding both doorknobs)

My beautiful boys. They don't look like they'd tear a room apart right?

We shall return to our irregularly scheduled programming shortly. Things to look forward to:

-A visit to Newbridge Farm

-Passover and Easter in Galway, Kinvarra, and Ballyvaughan including the not-friendly toddler activity, the Ailwee Caves at the Burren

-A trip to Paris…city of lights, city of romance…with toddlers…and my parents, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary

An update on our toddler bed transition

For all of you who are fearing for us, or for the boys, a little update. We stayed the course, though we wanted to crack on Day 5 and revert to cribs. It was already too late; they were propelling themselves over the side of the remaining crib and onto the toddler bed. No cribs would be safe anymore, and I don’t love the idea of crib tents. I imagined little hands and faces pressing and pawing against mesh for what? We would only prolong the inevitable.

This particular milestone is certainly made more complicated by the fact that they are twins. G suddenly understood he had a playmate for his antics. You would have thought we installed a jungle gym in their room. Opening and closing the door, jumping on each other’s beds, throwing any object not too heavy or bolted down out through the safety gate into the hallway. And for all his fuss, C seems to have made the transition to the bed faster. Then again, perhaps he is staking out the opposite position from his brother, as he often does. S spent one night on the tiny extra crib mattress in their room, gently chiding them to get back into bed every few minutes. It took two hours for them to settle down.

Naps are the worst, likely exacerbated by having to move the clocks forward an hour. Many days they have not napped at all, and I have been really, really worried that perhaps this switch would mean the end of the nap.  It was complete mayhem for several days. I would leave them and go and check and find varying scenes:

1. G asleep on the floor, clutching one of my shoes that I had kicked off before getting into bed with C. The top dresser drawer is open and all the socks are strewn about.

2. The two of them sitting together quietly, utterly destroying the push-and-pull board book we read before nap. Shreds of the book surround them.

3. G asleep in the bed, C sitting next to him, watching.

4. The two crib mattresses we have on the floor near the beds as cushions have had their sheets removed and thrown into a ball. The beds are askew. G partially under his bed.

We are all suffering the cumulative effects of lost sleep. When I picked up the boys at creche earlier this week, their teacher told me one day that mid-way through lunch, G stopped eating, pushed his chair back from the table and fell asleep sitting up. S told me he fell asleep sitting at his desk. Another day, C fell asleep on our walk home, and he was so out, I easily moved him into the bed. C is actually sleeping much better at this point. He drops off faster for naps and bedtime and he tends to sleep through the night. G wakes at 2 and/or 5, and we sometimes lay down with him or take him to keep him from crying and waking up C. Last night he was in our bed and he fell asleep with his head in the opposition direction from ours, and we were regularly pummeled by his little feet.

But there has been progress. S-L-O-W progress. The amount of time they are up before bedtime is getting shorter. There is no big battle over being in the beds. The other day they fell asleep before 3pm. The biggest issue to conquer is the night waking. I think what it boils down to is sleep training all over again, now that everyone has adjusted to the idea of the beds.

The upside? Such a rush of new sweetness and cuddling because we can get into the bed with them. And finding them like above.

 

Transitions: on switching to toddler beds

The truth about living abroad when you are a parent is that for most things, you could be anywhere. Details will be different (what kinds of diapers, what kinds of medicine, what size cribs, how often do you have to shop to stock the fridge) but all the rest is much the same. There is nothing exotic—nor particularly adventurous—about potty training or transitioning to a bed. Those days come whether we are in Dublin or Paris or Brooklyn or Los Angeles or suburban USA.

We talked about it, and rationalized how long we could put off switching the boys to beds. I thought age seven sounded good. At what point would they be cages and not cribs? We are hanging on to sanity by the thinnest of fraying ropes. We didn’t want bedtime to turn into bedlam any more than it already is. Twin behavior can be kind of contagious, meaning if one is amped up, the other one tends to get amped up.

So much depends on sleep (theirs, ours).

Last Sunday night, (of a bank holiday weekend), the day we feared for some time arrived. At 8pm, to be precise. We heard a distinctive ping! pop! crack! and then discovered the bottom of the C’s crib had completely broken. Our only solution for that evening: have them share a crib. G at first was really excited about this idea. He pointed to where C could sleep. His brother got in. The usual wrestling matches and giggling ensued.

When it came time for lights out, G changed his mind about the whole sharing thing and was furious that he didn’t have a choice. Screams and crying, “No!” “Don’t”  “Out!” dragged on for an hour and a half. At one point, I heard muffled screams and panicked, thinking one was smothering the other. I opened the door to check on them.

C: “Dajuta pushed me down! He’s steppin on me.”

Me: “G, did you push your brother down and step on him?”

G (breaking into a huge smile): “Yeah!”

Me: “We don’t do that.”

C: “I pooped!”

After I finished changing C, G announced he had pooped as well. Sometime after 10pm they conked out.  They woke up twice in the night.

DAY 1

Monday morning they were up somewhere before 6am. Sascha and I looked at each other with resignation. The day had begun, like it or not.  We were facing a trip to IKEA and flat-pack furniture assembly on poor sleep with two toddlers on even poorer sleep.

I asked G if sharing a bed was fun or hard. G said, “It was hard.”

By 9:30am, we were in the car and bound for IKEA. Inside IKEA, just as we were about to get into the lift, an alarm went off and the power shut down. I blanched. (IKEA, you may recall, triggers mental instability in me.) Would they shut the store down? I really didn’t want to get into the IKEA maze and daze if we were going to be cast out halfway through. A manager told us they had been having power outages. We looked at the perilous floating staircase and our massive double stroller. He helped Sascha carry it up.

Guess where families go in the recession on a bank holiday? By the time we hit the children’s section, there were swarms of families and poorly controlled children everywhere.

We made a really big deal about them picking out beds. I knew it really came down to the sheets (they picked cars over animals) so I told S whatever was in stock in the self-service was fine. Oh, and we had to buy completely new mattresses, because the crib mattresses are different sizes than the toddler or junior beds.

We arrived back just as it was naptime. The boys were exhausted and cranky but there was no way to get the beds set up in time, so they had to share a crib again. This time, they were enraged from the get-go and did not sleep at all. After an hour and a half of crying, laughing, singing, and chatting, I got them up and S set to task of putting the beds together, only to discover he had forgotten two essential parts. Back to IKEA he went.

It is early evening when he returns and the boys are predictably irritable. I try to keep them busy while S sweats out the incomprehensible IKEA directions. Pre-screwed holes were slanted, the materials shoddy. It was suddenly 8pm and I needed to get two over-tired children to bed.

It was probably a huge mistake to leave one crib in the room, but we were all exhausted. There was no time to deconstruct it.

G squealed with delight when he saw his bed. “My cars!” he said. We read books on them before C informed me he didn’t want to sleep in his bed. “Kib,” he told me. I decided not to push it. Everyone needed sleep.

G and C fell asleep pretty quickly. G in his bed, C in the crib.

DAY 2

I wake up at 7am to G calling. I am relieved. This went wonderfully! Phew. Why were we worried? We make a really big deal about G sleeping in the bed and he seems proud. We call it the “big boy” bed (I later discover this is a mistake.)

Today at naptime G was very excited about his bed but it took about an hour for him to settle down. He insisted on the door being open. When I went to wake them, I found G fast asleep.  On the floor.

Night time. Lots of protest, night wakings. How many? What day is it?

DAY 3

I try to prep C: “In a few days, we’ll have to say good-bye to the crib because there’s a baby who needs it.”

C fixes me with his enormous blue eye, purses his lips a little, crinkles his tiny nose, and drops his head to one side. This is the signal that we disagree.

“No buh-bye,” he finally says, shaking his head. “We need it.”

He clutches at my heart with this. We both know what he is really saying. I am not ready. I am still a baby.

And he is. He is 26 months old. He runs and tries to pump his arms, twisting side to side and looking more like he is doing some Jane Fonda aerobics move from 1990. He uses a fork and drinks from a cup and can take his clothes off before the bath. (In fact, another IKEA purchase is the boys’ own laundry bin, so they can put their dirty clothes in. C took this job very seriously, and began to take clean, folded clothes out of his dresser and dump them in. I explained that those were clean, and that only dirty ones went in the hamper. At which point C took the clean pjs, one at a time, and wiped his nose on them. He then pronounced them in his vaguely British accent,“DUR-tee.”)

Toddlerhood is so difficult because it is an in-between age, and at some level, they know. One minute they insist, “I do myself.”  The next it is “Up! Up, Mommy!” and you are carrying them. C ran out the open door the other day and halfway down the lane. They are both making leaps in development but they want to decide on the steps. The wild vastness of a bed without bars is seemingly too far out of C’s control.

S lays down with G for a long time to get him to go to sleep.

DAY 4

I get in bed with G at naptime. He is very chatty. Every few minutes he says, “Hi! Hi Mommy.” He requests songs. He grabs my wrist and asks what it is. C is sleeping the whole time. I try to get G to be quiet. We nuzzle noses. We pop each other’s puffed up cheeks. I am not helping him get to sleep but I sure am amusing him.

“I not a big boy,” he says. At night he points to the crib and says he wants to sleep there.

DAY 5

Things seemed to have gotten worse, not better. All our work sleep training in the early days is shot. Night wakings. Refusals to nap. We have not experienced this level of sleep deprivation since the early days of their infancy, but even then we didn’t have to spend our waking hours chasing them the way we do now. Last night they went to sleep some time after 9:30 and were up at 5:30.

I tried to leave the boys alone at nap time. The door would open and slam shut every few seconds for about an hour, and I just let them be, until I realized C’s voice sounded too close. I went down and found them both jumping on C’s bed, with one of the beds moved across the room. G had obviously pushed over the bed to help C climb out. Now the bed, which was pushed up against the crib, provided a convenient ledge up on which they climbed, and then would hurl themselves into the crib before climbing out on another side and running around the bed to do it again as if they were on a jungle gym.

At bath time, they both tell me they are “babies.”

S dismantles the crib. I check a sleep book. It recommends not switching them until they are closer to three, unless their safety from climbing in and out was a concern. (It is, as this afternoon demonstrated.) It also says to call it a “new bed;” do not label it a “big boy” bed. Oops. No useful tips for twins as usual. And it helpfully points out not to switch if anything else major was going on, like say, daylight savings time. Guess what tonight is in Ireland? We are losing an hour to jump forward in time. So many lost hours this week.

Christmas recap

Is it too late to recount our Christmas in Dublin? It’s halfway through January already and I think I’m only now nearly-recovered from the sicknesses that plagued us into the holidays.

I do not have cute pictures from the boys’ carol sing. I should have seen it coming, the high expectations and the inevitable fall. G had been spontaneously singing “Jingle Bells” all week. If I sang “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and left out key words, C would fill them in. So what if they thought you dashed through the snow in a “Norse-pen play”?

At the creche holiday party, the lights were dimmed and the kids were to stroll in carrying “lanterns.” Only before this could happen, our boys broke rank, crying “Mommy! Daddy!” and we had to pull them out. They wouldn’t wear the Christmas tree hats. They were very bah-humbug. So there we sat on the tiny classroom chairs, with them clutching us, and back into the pockets went the cameras. Apparently in public, G & C are wallflowers.

As the final countdown toward Christmas began, I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker. (So you out there who is searching for the Dublin stomach bug 2012 and arriving at my blog, read on!)

Note the box of tissues and the red blanket covering one of the cushions, where we had to remove a cover that had been vomited on

I almost didn’t think we’d make Christmas — not that it wouldn’t come, because it always does, but that we’d be too ill to acknowledge it in any real way. On Christmas Eve, S was the color of Silly Putty and unable to touch his food. Earlier in the day, G had vomited, which I had attributed to the antibiotics he was taking for the ear infection after his month-long cold. I have been feeling a cold virus replicating into my bronchial cavities for days.

Sascha’s cousin from South Philly, whom we just call Aunt Giovanna, arrived into our den of sickness to spend Christmas with us before going on to Milan. Despite the transatlantic flight and the time change, she looks glamorous and well-rested, in sharp contrast to us in our various stages of viral takeover. She is bearing loads of fruit and gifts for the boys. G falls in love instantly with “Joe-Bonna.”

Christmas Eve with Giovanna.

Giovanna spent many years working for Luciano Pavarotti, and I think this anecdote illustrates her wonderful personality. Apparently, Pavarotti was so distraught at the end of one affair that he threatened to kill himself, phoning his manager to say he would throw himself out the window. His manager, frantic, got in touch with Giovanna. Obviously accustomed to histrionics, she responded, How could he fit? He’s too fat to fit through a window.

Giovanna is an original.

We had plans to spend Christmas day with Ciaran and Siobhan and family. They told us to come despite risking contagion, dismissing whatever we might have as something they surely already had. On Christmas morning, I have no real voice but I think I am getting better and I manage to make two pies. Pumpkin:

And this sea-salt caramel apple pie, which was a huge hit and well-worth making again.

This pie helped me get my pie confidence back

The finished pie

Ciaran had cooked such an amazing meal and we were so lucky to have such a warm Christmas celebration together.

We toasted to good health, and really, really meant it.

Sláinte!

The age of unreason (and what we’ve been up to)

As some of you know, I’m woefully behind in blogging because we’ve officially hit the Age of Unreason with the boys and my nerves are thrumming with anxiety. C is fighting his nap and seems to want to clamp himself onto me, even though he is so tired that the tiniest thing will trigger an enormous tantrum.

In light of this, forget any attempt at weaving a narrative. The center cannot hold. Mere anarchy is being loosed upon my world. No update on Sashi, but thank you for asking. At worst, as I understand it, she can come in January when the rules change in our favor, though she will have to be re-chipped (and checked to see that the chip comes up in the scan), and re-vaccinated in the meantime.

So here it is:

First frost. The Arctic air is edging in, but still we've had a succession of gorgeous fall days.

First fire. (That they are aware of.) Over here, we use peat briquettes

First art fair. Our neighbor Esme gave us tickets, so we walked up to the Royal Dublin Society to check it out

The Royal Dublin Society

The art fair ended up being a great place for the boys (as long as we held them). They were fascinated by all the paintings and sculpture on display and we enjoyed listening to how they interpreted them.

C did some performance art of his own

The boys found the art fair inspiring. (I hope our landlord is not reading this.)

Later that evening, we got a knock at the door and met another neighbor from the next street over. Her name is Maureen and she came bearing a bag of apples from her yard (which we made into applesauce, since you can’t find jarred applesauce here), and coffee (LOVED her for that), from her recent African safari. She told Sascha that our two little streets usually hold a block party in the warmer months, which Sascha was extremely excited about. East Williamsburg once inspired him, after all, to write a Blue’s Clues episode about a block party.

A few days later, we enjoyed chatting with Brian, who lives on the same street as Maureen. He was pulling out things from his recently flooded playroom, and gamely allowed the boys to try out some of the tantalizing toys:

On another weekend, we took the light rail south to check out the Dublin Children’s Museum, Imaginosity. It is essentially like Kidcity, but it is very new and is all eco.

No surprise that C wanted to be in front of the camera

Test driving an Audi with Daddy

Power struggle in aisle two

And now I must get to bed.

Goodnight, (full) moon.

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?

Departures/Arrivals

I’ll have to be a bit backward and post about our arrival in Ireland before I recount our final days in the US and the traveling part, which I have to say, was worse than I even imagined. But thankfully we are done with that part. The boys did love the airport though, but getting through security, missing the pre-boarding, and trying to get the car seats installed properly made Sascha as sweat-drenched and tense as if he had been trying to defuse a bomb. I am already contemplating a crossing by sea for our return, whenever and if ever that is.

We're leaving on a hairpane, don't know when we'll be back again

C. now says "Cheese!" and hams it up whenever a camera is pointed at him.

Despite being the absolute last people off the plane, all eleven of our bags and boxes arrived on the baggage carousel first, and things were smooth after that. We had two taxi vans waiting for us. One van ferried the family, while the other transported all our luggage. Our lovely drivers suggested we stop off at a store en route to pick up some essentials: “You’ve gotta get some tea,” Gary said. So we stopped at a petrol convenience store, because it was just past 6am local time. As we drove along the streets and headed toward Dublin Bay, I was able to orient myself and realize how familiar everything looked because of all the hours I spent looking at real estate and doing Google Street View, “walking” virtually around the neighborhoods where various listings were.

Sascha wasn’t kidding when he said our house was down a tiny lane, one he wasn’t certain taxis would even drive down. Gary and Aiden, our fearless leaders, seemed to take it as a challenge (although I think they were also just kindly and trying to get a weary family home as easily as possible). They boldly turned down the street, causing my mother and I to flinch at the tight squeeze. Cars were parked on the right, and the houses were on the left. We were so close that the taxi mirrors scraped a few of the houses as we made our way through.(“Better to scrape those than people’s cars,” Aiden said.) If the windows were open, I could have knocked on the front doors as we passed.

Once inside, the boys got a second wind and were thrilled at the pile of boxes and suitcases that awaited us. Unfortunately, C. and G. were playing on one of the suitcases and C. fell and got a terrible-looking bruise right between his eyes. This matches the egg on the side of his head he got earlier in the week when he vaulted himself out of the crib. Our new house is beautiful, but it is tricky to baby-proof.

We made surprisingly good progress unpacking boxes and things before we all crashed for a few hours. I am so glad I had packed some stuff to go with Sascha ahead of us when he was here on previous trips; having clean sheets and towels made things easier in our exhaustion. We do need to purchase some kitchen appliances, most importantly a coffee maker. We had instant Nescafe, to which my mom, when asked how it was, remarked “it tastes somewhat similar to coffee.”

When we awoke, it was raining so we put on the boys’ new rainboots and went for a little walk to splash in puddles. After our second collective nap, it was like an entirely different day. The sun was brilliant and when I opened the shades in our bedroom, with the window box full of lavender, I could have mistaken it for California. Except of course, we left NYC in 80 degree weather, where it still felt like summer, and here it is brisk autumn already. As a marker of the difference in climate, my mom was amazed at the geraniums, so vibrant and fresh-looking instead of the heat-stressed, withered-looking plants one might find this time of year in CT.

We put the boys in the stroller and headed down to Herbert Park. It was so heartening to hear the laughter and squeals of the packed playground before we could even see it. It was just half five and there were so many parents and kids and wonderful playscapes for many different age groups. Seeing G. and C. exploring and meeting the other children and the walk itself did us all a lot of good. In the little chit-chat I made with other mums, I told them we just moved to Ireland as of 5am this morning, to which they said, “Welcome!” And we did feel welcomed there.

After the park, we figured we would head to a pub to eat dinner before going home. We went to nearby Ballsbridge, and discovered most unfortunately that pubs don’t serve food past five. I became a bit panicked, as I knew we were treading dangerous waters. The boys were overtired already, and if they got too hungry we would be in full-on meltdown time. Even worse, we are now urban and carless so it would be a very public meltdown. We circled back to Roly’s and got prepared foods that they heated for us, and had a picnic dinner back in the park, this time near the duck pond, until a man walking along the path ringing a bell informed us the park would be closing for sunset.

It is almost midnight here, and G and C just woke up crying. They seem a little frightened and disoriented. It is going to be a long night. I am glad we had a such a good day.