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On the eve of becoming a big brother

18 Jun

Dear Turtle,

Tomorrow you will become a big brother “and I’m is very ‘cited about that, amn’t I Momma?” Yes son, you are. Even if you’re worried about the baby “slobbering on my toys”. Apparently babies slobber a lot (yes), drink milk from Momma’s boobies (yes) and like being tickled (um, not so sure).

Sometimes you think you’re getting a sister, sometimes a brother. Most of the time you say you want a brother and a sister. Erm, not right now. Although I can’t make any promises.

I think you are going to be an absolutely brilliant big brother (if I can keep the tickling to a minimum!) You are kind, thoughtful and helpful. You seem to love babies (how you’ll be when s/he is mobile may be a different story!) and gravitate towards them whenever they’re near. Hopefully the novelty won’t wear off (or hopefully it will, I’m not sure yet).

I know that this will be a bit of an upheaval for you. For us all. But only for a little while. The day will come when we won’t remember the baby not being here.

Won’t that be something?



21 Sep

I suppose the hardest part about being an expat is that “home” is always elusive. It is that place in your mind’s eye, idealized by the mere passage of time. The word “home” for me evokes an image of the place where I grew up, green grass, long summer evenings, (even dark winter nights), and everyone knowing my name. It is undoubtedly my parents’ house. The place where I grew up. At least for a moment.

It is slowly getting crowded out by our home. The place where we live.

A funny thing happened when we were “home” in Ireland. I realized that I wasn’t actually home. I longed for my own space. The place where I am in charge (small boys permitting) and can come and go as I please. And dinner doesn’t involve potatoes and livestock every, single, solitary day. I thought I was going to turn into a potato. I just wanted to sit on my own couch, cook in my own kitchen and sleep in my own bed. A month is a long time. Especially when it rained. And it rained. And rained. Every day without fail. We went to theĀ  park twice. Twice in a month. And got rained out. One of those times, my brother (the most heedless man on the planet) took it upon himself to come and rescue us. That is how bad it was.

The relief in getting home was enormous. Just to see the sun was something. And go to the park. And the beach. And eat something that wasn’t a root vegetable or an animal.If my parents’ house were a meal, it would be bacon and cabbage. But Heidi Swanson’s Summer linguine is more how we roll in this house. Tastes like home.


21 Feb

On Friday morning I had a “conversation” with my Mother. I say “conversation” because talking to her these days involves running around the house after a small boy who has kidnapped the phone, and shouting. All calls must be on loudspeaker. There are no deep and meaningful conversations. I don’t even get the gossip. The Turtle is too busy telling her his news and putting her “to bed” behind the couch cushions.

So our conversation went like this:

Mam: “I was talking to Martin (Da) ….” fades out

Me: “To who? What? Turtle? Where’s the phone?” (It was in his little car).

Mam: “Hello? Hello?”

Me: “You were talking to who? What? … Hold on a second Turtle”

Mam: “To your Father. And I told him I was going on Tuesday.”

Me: “Going on Tuesday? …Hey, come back with the phone!”

Turtle: “I NEED to talk to Granny. Granny?

Mam: “What Loveen?”

Me: “Going where?”

Turtle: “Granny? Granny?”

Mam: “Over to see ye.”

Me: “Who?”

Mam: “Me childeen. He said grand.”

Me: “Who? Da?”

Mam: “Yea. I didn’t book it yet.”

Me: This Tuesday?”

Mam: “Yeah.”

Me: “Oh right.”

Mam: “It’s only E600”

Me: “Oh right.” (Thinking “What will the Hubby say???”)

Turtle: “I NEED to talk with my Granny!”

Mam: “Will I book it?”

Me: (shellshocked) “Grand”


So Mam is coming to visit on Tuesday. For 3 weeks. The Hubby doesn’t mind, thank goodness. He is slowly coming around to our last minute ways, but I doubt he’ll ever adopt them. The Turtle doesn’t know she’s coming. It’ll be a surprise!!


When other people stay…

5 Nov
  • Things are always slightly out of place.
  • There are weird things on the telly.
  • There are always dishes in the sink.
  • Nothing is ever clean.
  • You can find nothing.
  • You’re always wondering what to cook.


  • You have babysitters! You can spend a night in Santa Barbara. With your husband. Alone. And you can go out for dinner. With your husband. Alone. For your birthday. Hurrah!
  • You also have an on-hand handyman. To look into the weirdness that has been driving you a little crazy.

Surely that makes up for having to remember to close the bathroom door! You are not at home alone with a small boy that follows you everywhere anymore. Close the door. Ahem.

Hanging in there

12 Oct

I am. More or less.

Usually I would characterise myself as rather easygoing. A “go with the flow” type. At the moment though I’m not sure that I am. Everything grates. Every little thing. It’s because I have to let the big things “go”. And I can’t. So the little things are driving me a little bit insane.

I do have larger things to be thinking about. People at home sick and dying. Still though.

Here are the things I want to say, but can’t (and I realise some of them are petty but I can’t help it).

  • Don’t tell my son he can’t do something when I am standing right there. If he’s not allowed to do something I will tell him. If I haven’t said anything it is because he is allowed do it.
  • Don’t try and feed him your crappy cereal while I am in the kitchen cooking him breakfast (and you have seen me).
  • Don’t coerce him to eat. Or try and put things in his mouth. He’s 2! Conversely, don’t berate him for not using cutlery when he is actually eating.
  • Don’t wipe his face while he is eating.
  • How hard is it to understand that you can shower before he goes to bed or a half an hour or so after he goes to sleep? Not while I am putting him to bed. So there’s an hour a day when I would prefer that you did not shower. One hour. Out of twenty four. Why is that exactly the time you go into the bathroom? You may as well be doing the Macarena around his bedroom. He’s 2. He needs his sleep. And yes, his sleep is more important than your ablutions.
  • Do not rearrange the doodads on my mantelpiece. Maybe their arrangement offends you, but that is how I like them. I will put them back one more time, but if they are moved again I will put them in a box in the garage.

There’s more, but just thinking about it is apt to make my head explode. Hopefully getting this much out makes it less likely that you will see my face on the news with a big “Wanted” sign under it šŸ˜‰

Things done

7 Oct

I am absolutely useless when it comes to “To Do Lists”. I mean, I can make them with the best of them. Colour co-ordinate them. Decorate them with stickers and stars and what not. Beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. When it comes to doing things off them? Absolutely useless. Somewhere, in the deep recesses of my brain there are some cells that equate making a list with actually doing the task. So if I make the list there is almost a guarantee that whatever is on it will never be done. Ever.

But a good way to buoy my confidence? Is to list out the things I have actually done. It helps to consolidate all of the things left to do in my mind. Somehow. I’m not entirely sure how it works. But it does. So here goes:

  • the curtains are made and hung in the guestroom
  • the shower curtain and bathmat have been washed
  • the hoovering and mopping have been done
  • the nets have been washed and rehung
  • the insides of the windows have been washed
  • a modicum of dusting has been attempted
  • the toilets are clean
  • surfaces have been scrubbed
  • mirrors are sparkly (for now)
  • the kitchen tables have been freed from the random bits and bobs that always accumulate on them.
  • I’m more or less on top of the washing
  • I have bought more towels (and shampoo)

But there’s still so much to do. So much. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!

And I have about twenty people coming over tomorrow nigh for “kids’ movie night” – my attempt to get through the horror of the hubby working four nights in a row (arranged before I knew the in-laws were coming).


Homemaking, with a vengeance

28 Sep

It’s almost the end of September. And we’ve been in this house since the middle of June some time. So three months? Obviously (!) we have unpacked. We’re settled. This feels like “home”. But there are still one or two things. Niggly things. Pictures not hung. A guestroom full of things that don’t fit anywhere else. The garage still has boxes and your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what is in them. All these things can wait. There’s life to be lived. Figuring out where to hang pictures can wait. I mean, there must be an average number of walls in this house, as it is still standing, but there are more windows than average or something. I’m not sure. The living room has half a wall, the dining room too. The kitchen? Nothing. Almost all of the walls are white too, making it a bit bare (but as bright as can be). Anyway, back to my point, which is, we’re here, we’re home, we’re settled. Pictures or no pictures.

But…don,don,don(ominous music)…the in-laws are coming! The in-laws are coming! So there has been a frantically mad dash to get those niggly things done. One part of me is going “Thank God for visitors or nothing would ever get done” while another part of me seethes quietly about having to do things. Honestly though, would I have taken down the net curtains and watched the water turn to tea as I washed them if no one were coming? No, I would not. But the curtains obviously needed washing. And the windows needed cleaning. And if I can muster up the energy I really need to do the outside. Really badly. And empty a box or two in the garage. While I’m out there I really should empty the suitcase, which has been out there since our trip to D.C. (3? 4? weeks ago). It’s just clean clothes and random bits and bobs, but meh! (I thought the Hubby would finish emptying it, but he’s not as O.C.D. about these things as he used to be!)

Other than that, we’re ready. I even “gussied up” a pair of uninspiring brown curtains for the guest room (being in a strange bed and not being able to sleep because of a random sliver of light is a nightmare!) and made matching pillowcases that more or less coordinate with the quilt (but we’re having a heatwave and the big quilt may be unnecessary even if “old people are always cold”). Still though, it looks nice. I’m dying to show it off, but the camera is brokenĀ  (I suspect sand is the culprit).

So we’re ready. But there will be more mad dashes around the house. Many, many more. What is it about the imminent arrival of in-laws that makes you feel entirely inadequate?

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