Tag Archives: family

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?

9 to 5

15 Oct

On Friday we left the house at 9:30am and didn’t get back until 5:30. Just the two of us. Adventuring. God, but it was exhausting. Fun, but exhausting.

Our first port of  call was the mall, to pick up my contacts. Of course there was a potty emergency and he didn’t quite make it to the loo. Not to worry. I had an emergency set of clothes. “Now would be a good time to get his hair cut”, I thought. There’s a kids’ hair salon in there. And his hair was starting to get into one of those knotty messes that are embarrassing and may or may not signify a “bad mother”. Negotiations were entered into. Fifteen minutes outside the salon. He was insistent that he did not want/need a hair cut. Waaahhh! Despair. Time to carry him in. He became comfortable in his surroundings within seconds. And the entire thing was painless. Bribes, in the form of lollipops are the way to go, if you’re wondering. He did baulk a bit when the clippers yoke came out, but I hugged his head and he was grand. He wouldn’t let the stylist blow the hair off him with the blow dryer, so he was covered, completely covered in hairs.

Emergency pants had already been dispatched. What to do? To the shop. To buy some shorts. Now, I don’t know about your child, but I don’t bring mine to the shop when I need to buy things. We generally hang out in the toy section, making a nuisance of ourselves pressing buttons and whatnot when it’s raining. “We” are incapable of going into a shop, buying xyz and leaving without some kind of madness. This time though? Success! Three pairs of shorts at $2 each. Score! And no one got lost. No fixtures and fittings were damaged. Whoop!


Kitted out with hair-free shorts and we were off. Let the adventuring begin! To the farm! Of course he fell asleep on the way there. But I had a book and sat in the car for a half an hour and let him rest. He woke up delighted. We had some lunch and headed to the maze. It was as hot as hell in there. Thankfully, I have the most outgoing kid on the planet. He found a 7yo boy and said “Will you help us get out of here? Us is lost. Look, my Mom is here to keep me safe.” (I laughed inside at that). So following the two of them at the speed of light, I made it out. Of course, he wanted to go back in. I did not. “My boy will mind me” he said and ran like the wind. I was torn between following him in (and getting lost myself) and staying out, heart in my mouth.   It was over 6 feet tall and very confusing in there. He was in and out in minutes. Three or four times. He started to turn a bit pink. Thankfully, the tractor appeared. Pumpkin time!!

We picked out the one he deemed “perfect” and toted it back to the farmstand where we picked out a lot of random fruit and berries. The phrase “kid in a candy store” comes to mind. I have never met anyone to get as excited over fruit. We lugged our haul to the car and headed back for an apple cider (not the kind with alcohol). Things started to get a bit mad and crowded then, so we headed to the park.

There’s one just down the road, just off the beach. He had great fun for a little while. Some older kids showed up though, and started picking on him a bit. He was trying to play “Superheroes” with them, but for some reason they started throwing sand at him. And the poor fella, he has a very strong sense of right and wrong, so he was indignant more than anything. I thought it best for us to go. He had taken “agin” those boys, so anything they did was “bold” as far as he was concerned.

Homeward bound, it’s just past 4 and traffic is mental. A mere five or so miles down the road and I hear “I need to wee”. Off the highway I go. Looking for somewhere to stop. We had passed a park about a mile back, so I head in that direction and wee make it to the loo in time!! (It’s the small things). And we can’t stop at the park without actually playing, so play we did.

Then it was really time to head home. And we missed the traffic! Bonus!

Luckily, dinner had been cooking away in the crockpot all day and was practically ready for us, as soon as we got home. Because everyone knows you can’t haul home a pumpkin from a farm without decorating it within the hour.  Which is what we did.


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 the  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 😉

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 broken  (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?

Toddler travelling tips

9 Jun

Now that the dust has settled (a bit) on our mad journey across country, I feel confident enough to offer tips for when you are taking your toddler on a long trip. I’ve forgotten most of the awfulness you see, and the good ideas are like shiny beacons in the distance. So, here goes.

  • Try and stop at least every 3 hours. If you would do it for a dog, you definitely should be doing it for your child.
  • Pick out interesting places to stop. Interesting to your child, not you. Parks, childrens museums, science museums, zoos, aquariums etc. You can go shopping, but that defeats the purpose of stopping. You’ll likely strap him or her into a buggy and they’ll have to sit, so they may as well be in the car. Everyone will be miserable if you stop just to eat or shop. Tack the eating and shopping onto an excursion and you’ll be set.
  • Invest in some of the less obnoxious childrens music out there. It can be a life saver. Especially if you have a small boy who gets carsick when he watches DVDs in the car.
  • Forget rules about no eating/drinking in the car (for small people). And if you’re me, be prepared to sit in the back seat (in the uncomfortable middle one) while the eating and drinking is going on. Because paranoia about choking will never go away.
  • Learn some fingerplay games. They’ll whittle away the time for you when you’re sitting on the lumpy seat in the back.
  • Magnets. Magnetic books, balls, activity sets, whatever you can find.
  • Stickers.
  • All food and drink “rules” should be relaxed.
  • Try and make it fun. This can be part of your holiday too.

Oh and you can never have too many nappies or wipes and other essentials.

And this guy is a genius. You need some of his music in your life, whether you’re spending hours upon hours with a small boy in a car or not.

Tips for travelling with my family

2 May
  • Take some kind of sedative
  • Wash it down with alcohol. Perhaps vodka.
  • When the car conks on the dual carriageway 2 hours from the airport, do NOT panic.
  • Do NOT ask questions.
  • Presume that it will all be fine.

(Panicking is detrimental to your health. Questions will get you eaten. And whatever “answer” you might get will sound like this “Huff puff huff huff f*cking huff huff!” So say nothing, even if you are worried about the crazy gesticulation that was going  on when they were outside looking at the engine.)

  • Bring Rosary beads, so that when you meet truckloads of traffic on your magical mystery tour to avoid the tolls, your heart doesn’t palpitate out of your chest.
  • Remember that they are not avoiding tolls out of meanness, but out of some skewed sense of righteousness. And you love them for it, you really do. Ahem.
  • Take a deep breath when you get to the airport, even if you are on time, because you are less than half way there.
  • Don’t get too complacent when the flight passes without a hitch.
  • Don’t be surprised that their immigration forms are filled out incorrectly. And will have to be filled in again. Even though you offered to look them over. And were told they were fine.
  • It will take over half an hour for them to fill in the forms again. Breathe deeply. Try and get the luggage while wrangling a small toddler.
  • You can NOT relax on the drive home. Da will be moithered  by having to drive on the right hand side. He will make a left turn into the wrong lane if you’re not paying attention.
  • Arrive home. Have a few stiff drinks.

You have survived!


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