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.

Advertisements

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

On having twins

Dear everyone who remarks, “Having twins is the way to do it! Just get it done and out of the way!”

Having twins is actually, to quote another twin parent, better put as: having two effing babies. AT THE SAME TIME.

Convenient? Heck no. Economical? Nope. The easy way to do it? Are you joking?

Having twins is not like bulking up on toilet paper so you don’t have to go out and get more for a long time.

And please don’t tell me, “Mine are so close in age, they’re just like twins!” It makes me feel stabby.

I feel incredibly lucky to have two healthy sons. I can’t imagine not having them both, and them not having each other. I feel privileged that I get to watch them develop their own relationship with each other, and for my extra moments of morning dozing courtesy of their morning “chats” with each other. I also adore the ringside seat of their nightly WWF bouts. At times their twin relationship is loving, and at other times, it is a terrifying glimpse into Darwinian principles in action.

But it is not some great shortcut into parenthood. It is really, really hard. I was lucky enough to meet two women at an expectant parent of multiples group who were due around the same time. This is us at a Mommy and Me movie in Los Feliz. We texted each other all throughout the first WTF months. You need other parents of multiples friends because you will not be doing Mommy & Me yoga or going to grab coffee with your baby in the freaking wrap which takes like twenty minutes to put on but which everyone said was so great.

Once when we were out together, some guy asked us which one of us was the mother! As if one of us was the mom of six newborns and the other two were just nannies.

At times, I question our sanity leaving the safety net of my parents being around the corner during this stage in development when the boys are not listening to anything I say asserting their wills. I used to be able to corral them fairly easily by myself, simply by saying, “Come on, it’s time to go inside,” or “It’s time to go upstairs for a bath.” And like little ducklings, they’d follow behind me. Around 17 months old though, my boys started understanding that they had a choice. I read somewhere that toddlerhood is like a mini-adolescence. It makes sense. They are sort of like two extremely short, moody little teenagers.

If you have twins (or bless you, supertwins), you know that life must be about schedule and routine or else there will be a complete and total collapse of the world order you need to simply get through the day. Parenting twins of this age is a lot like running relay: Sascha taps me to run the next leg after he’s had them so he can go nap/shower/eat.

The books will not apply to you. (And I say “the books” in a collective sense meaning the bougie tomes parents like myself read to feel like they are doing the right thing or because they expect somehow, somewhere, there will be a way to Google an answer to some inevitable parenting conundrum.) For example, when one of your toddlers takes a dish and throws it on the floor in a restaurant, the books will suggest something like removing the child from the restaurant, either by taking him outside until he can behave better or simply going home.  If you have twins however, one of you may do this with Twin A, and then Twin B, who had heretofore been eating and behaving just fine, will suddenly start screaming  and crying, “Daddy! Daddy!” and frantically try to run out of the restaurant, afraid he is missing some amazing experience or being left behind. Or, when one has a protest tantrum, where he simply sits down in a park because you won’t carry him, you cannot do what “the books” say, which is ignore him, unless you have back-up. If you are alone, your other child is likely running off in an entirely different direction.


It means that even if you get the EXACT. SAME. TOY. for each of them, one will inevitably scream, “I need THAT!” and try to tackle his brother to get the identical fire truck to the one he is holding.

Never, ever believe a parent of a single child who recommends doing something and says it will be “so relaxing.” Exhibit A of our “vacation:”

Sincerely,

A mom of twins

I jump

We used to rise when the boys would cry, and I was sure it was the middle of the night because of the blue light leaking in around the edges of the window shades. Daylight savings happened a week earlier for us than it would have in the States, and now we rise with more light, but the park closes at 5pm. At 4:30 in the lane, the amber streetlights come on. Often the boys point out the moon before I’ve had a chance to think of dinner. The sun moves away from us and goes quiet. We wait for winter to begin in earnest, wondering if it is true that the arctic winds will blow down and wreak havoc with snow in a place that is not used to it. We must find more and more indoor activities—short days, but extremely long afternoons.

We’re in a tangle of wills. Theirs and mine.

C is my accident-prone child. His forehead has a near perma-bruise, because he looks to see if you are watching him instead of paying attention to what he is doing, then he runs into a wall, or trips and falls. He has an agile little body and likes to climb things, without any real sense of danger. He is also ferociously independent. He will run off down the lane, around the corner in the park: out of sight. He is testing my limits and his own.

Of bloody lips and bruised foreheads

Yesterday, I sat on the stone steps between the living room and the office area of the house. It is a treacherous area for them, though they adapted to it more or less fairly well. “I jump!” C said, standing on one step and looking eagerly at the floor below. I shook my head. I picked him up and said “Jump!” lifting him high into the air before planting him safely on the floor. He climbed back up and shook his head.

“I jump!”

That’s what we do when we become parents: we jump, into an expansion of the heart and the world as breathtaking as it is terrifying, a wilderness of sleepless nights and repetitive days, emotional depletion and rapturous fulfillment. We figure out one developmental phase at last, only to find out they’ve moved onto another, more bewildering than ever.

The morning after my emergency C-section following 11 hours of labor, I woke up with something like existential terror: the responsibility. The weight of it sank into my ruined body, as if somehow during the whole getting pregnant and nine months of gestation, the enormity of what we were doing by becoming parents had not occurred to me.

The recent tantrums have their root in many things—and at least it appears that the week-long nap protest has ended–but as a catchall they come from frustration. Both of them want their growing independence and fear it, too. They push me away only to scream if they think I’ve left. C throws himself onto the floor when I deny something he wants, but later scrambles onto me like a monkey, so much like he did in the very beginning, when he seemed a tiny kitten, a hungry little animal. Now he puts his head on my shoulder, plays with my hair, and coos, “Mommy.” He holds onto me like he never wants me to let go.

The responsibility plants the scenarios in my head (the fat lips, the skinned knees, the car coming around the bend). It plays out in our daily battles: the need to civilize, to teach them to say “please” and “thank you” and learn how to wait, to know that they are not entitled to anything they demand, when to let them cry, when to pull them close. Basically not to screw them up, because you know the first three years are so important, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says no TV before two, and there’s sugar hidden everywhere and chemicals, too, and blah blah blah–all sorts of things that will make me a terrible mom if I do or do not do.

Most of all, the responsibility means I must juggle trying to protect them while letting them go, tiny step by tiny step. I would not always be sitting nearby where one wants to jump, to stop him from the fall I am worried he will suffer. Most of the limits I must set for them. Some they must discover for themselves.

So I swallowed my own fear and let C do his thing. He swung his arms with momentum.

“I jump!”

And in the last moment, he reached for me to catch him.

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.

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

Special Guest Post: Sascha on not so super-supermarkets

As promised, our very own Sascha is here to regale you with his tale of shopping while I have a night off to wander around Grafton St:

Life with twins is great. Dublin is great. And grocery shopping can, under the right circumstances, be great.

However, grocery shopping with twins in Dublin is most definitely not great.

Exhibit A: Last Saturday morning. I volunteered to take the boys to the supermarket, optimistically thinking I could accomplish three major things in one fell swoop:

1. Get some much-needed groceries for our Hobbit-sized fridge.

2. Bring the boys out to get some air.

3. Be a good husband and son-in-law by giving my wife and mother-in-law some quiet time after being with the boys nonstop for days.

I can report that I did achieve those three items, however there was a great human cost involved. The boys and I survived, but barely. And things will never be the same.

The scene of the actual incident. Looks spacious according to this photo from Daft, but don't let it fool you.

I arrived at our local grocery store, the Superquinn, around 9:15am, knowing that I had a challenge ahead of me. Since I had the double stroller, I had a choice of two maneuvers:

1. The Two-Handed-Backwards-Shopping-Cart-Plus-Forward-Facing-Stroller Roller

OR

2. Balance-the-Basket-on-Top-of-the-Stroller-and-Try-Not-to-Drop-Groceries-on-my-Sons’-Heads

I took one look at the aisles of that supermarket and knew that option number one wasn’t happening. There was barely room for a cart, let alone a double stroller and a cart. That must be why they charge you a Euro to use a shopping cart – as a deterrent.

So, I had no choice. Balance-the-Basket. I rolled my extra large, Americano double stroller down the super narrow, dainty European aisles as I balanced the empty cart on the handles. Look, I appreciate that things in Europe are smaller than they are in the United States. There is less waste here and that’s good. But why cut corners on supermarket aisles? That just isn’t right.

I admit that when it comes to grocery shopping, I am an overachiever. I like to get everything on the list, and plus it out so we don’t have to shop again for a while. That basket was full in no time, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for not dropping any plums on my sons’ heads. They were pretty mellow, too. But then it was time to check out.

The cashier was ringing me up when it happened. I tried to push the stroller through the aisle so I could bag the groceries, and then…creak. The stroller was stuck. I couldn’t push forward. I couldn’t pull back. Behind me, the line started to grow, people started looking impatient – this was the only aisle open. My formerly mellow sons started to cry, no doubt fearing that they would be stuck in a Superquinn check-out aisle for months. I was suddenly the center of attention. Friendly Irish people didn’t seem so friendly anymore. I apologized meekly. The crying got louder, the stroller wouldn’t budge. What would I do?

When Erin talks about worst-case, nightmare scenarios of living in a city with twins, these are the pictures she paints: being out in public, the twins screaming, causing a scene, being the center of attention. I realized at that moment: I was living her nightmare.

I knew I’d have get the boys out and fold up the stroller to get it unstuck. So as they continued to wail, I unbuckled them. Unfortunately I was stuck on the other side of the stroller from them. C. went limp like a ragdoll and slid to the floor as he does when he’s angry, and G. stomped off towards the ice cream case in a huff. The cashier dashed from behind the counter and tried to distract them with Superquinn super-saver circulars while I madly tried to fold up the stroller. It wouldn’t fold. The line behind me was growing longer. I tried to stay Zen. As a coping strategy, my mind took me miles away. I imagined I was in a nice, spacious, comfy, enormous Target in suburban Connecticut. The check-out aisle was the size of a football field. Bliss.

Things were simpler then. Our shopping carts were SUVs and the aisles stretched on gloriously as far as the eye could see. Target, how we miss ye.

I snapped back to reailty and somehow found the strength to fold the stroller, wrangle the boys, unfold the stroller, get the wriggling boys back into the stroller, bag the groceries in my eco-friendly reusable bags, balance them on the handle, and then promptly slam the stroller into a bucket of flowers, causing the water to spill out across the floor of the store. The last thing I remember is sprinting through the inch of water in my sneakers, pushing the double stroller out of the narrow doors as fast as I could as the boys’ cries rang throughout Superquinn.

From now on, we will be having our groceries delivered.

Windy

This morning the wind came pounding at the cottage, rattling windows and doors and trying to push in through any crack or breach. It was so loud that the boys woke up at 6am crying, from the noise, but thankfully fell back asleep. Mornings like this are when you remember you are on not-too-large island surrounded by the dark waters of the Northern Atlantic. And tonight I’m nursing some nasty approximation of Theraflu, and hoping I don’t catch Sascha’s cold.

I used to think people in New England were obsessed with the weather, what with the storm trackers and Doppler radars and week-long news cycles, but here it is a new kind of obsession. The weather changes constantly, so despite hearing from two different people that snow was expected as early as next month (! my out-of-date guidebooks said Dublin was more moderate on a whole, and that snow was rare), S pointed out that they could never really predict the weather for the day, so how could they know what it would be like in a month?

Friday was a beautiful, balmy afternoon and I became obsessed with seeing the sea before the season turned for good and artic winds bore down and snow piled up. I google-mapped the walk, which my mom worried was too ambitious because it was almost four when we were at Herbert Park, and the beach was a good 30 minutes or so beyond that. But Mr. Whippy the ice cream truck was parked outside, and I picked up cones for everyone and decided, fortified by ice cream, that we could do it. Worse came to worst, we would just have to see how far we got. Over the DART tracks we passed and negotiated a troubling crosswalk. Not only was there no blinking man to tell us when to cross, leaving us craning our necks to check stoplights and whiplash our heads about like two nutters, but the median was so tiny that with the double-stroller in front of her, my poor mom’s rear was sticking out a bit into oncoming traffic. (“I could lose a few inches anyway,” she shrugged.) We came upon a construction site, and turned the stroller for the boys just in time to see a truck lift a heavy load of dirt and drop it down into the road. If they could retain memories, I am sure this would rank among one of their top sights in Ireland! Then we were on a beautiful curving street that seemed to be unfurling itself toward the sea. There were beautiful Georgian-style brick homes all along this road. Suddenly, the air changed, turning briny and dropping several degrees as we heard the seagulls. We hit Sandymount Green, and then I knew where we were because we considered renting a house nearby. And though it was close to five and cold and windy on the beach, I was ecstatic to see The Strand, and as you saw in the previous post, the boys loved climbing the rocks and playing in the sand.

The next day, Saturday, we had planned to go to IKEA. But S has a story to tell you about that morning, which I think he would like to do as a guest post, so for now I’ll just say that it drained any of us of the mental and physical stamina one needs to even consider going to the twee Swedish-happy-but-made-in-China warehouse of our lives. I’ll also say at times that C behaves somewhat like the chick from The Exorcist, with his arms splayed out, head dropped back, and screaming. Later that evening, when all is quiet in the house, my mom ushers us out the door and we hit the pubs. The first one, Smyth’s, is quite a scene. Guitar rock pounding, young people preening. We sit in a corner booth and feel old, but I discover I do like Guinness. The only other time I had been in Dublin, for a weekend when I was studying abroad in England, I had tried it, as all tourists must, but didn’t like it. Then again, it wasn’t until I lived in Japan that I even had a taste for beer. This time the Guinness was smooth and velvety like good coffee, not too bitter. Then we went next door where the lights were on and hair (where it remained) was mostly white, and no music played. We feel too young.

For all of you who have asked, I think we’ve finally gotten a handle on the whole hot water thing. And in another American expat blog I read, she mentioned this YouTube sketch which may give you a (profanity-laced) idea of what I was talking about with regards to the heater you have to switch on, (but only sometimes, not in the “winter months,” whenever exactly those are:

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.