France is our Florida

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Well summer is almost over and we had a good one. Ireland made its way over to my good side with the great weather.

We finished up our summer with a vacation in France. I have never been to France until a few years ago. A trip to France with our three kids was never at the top of my list. When we lived in the states our family vacation destinations were Florida, Hilton Head and my Lone Star State of Texas. We didn’t just pop on over to these places. We planned and we budgeted. But when we moved to Ireland our vacation choices changed.

This year we took the ferry to France. This is our third year and I have to say its not bad. There are five of us so of course we booked a cabin for four. The plan is always for the kids to double up but that never works. You sail all night and then arrive in the morning. It works for us. We have explored some great areas in France. This year we were in Provence. It was beautiful. My sister and her family joined us. It was sun, cousins, wine, bugs, food, laughs, trashy reads by the pool and lots of band aids. It was all of those things not exactly in that order and so much more. It was sad for our trip to end but we will see our family soon.

So now we have ten more days of togetherness until school starts. The kiddos go back on my birthday. Happy Birthday to me!

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Walking on Sunshine

It is hot hot hot and I love it. Since we moved to Ireland this is the most heat I have felt from the sun. The beaches are crowded, the inflatable pools are filled, there are sunburns galore and lots of grill action at our house. The only downside of all of this heat is no air conditioning. I miss my air conditioning! But a girl can suffer for a few days of sunshine.

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So that’s what the Sun looks like…..

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The sun is shining! When the sun shines in Ireland and there is a small bit of heat it really is a different place. People are smiling, the kids are pushed outside, we contemplate putting out the garden furniture, the flip flops come out and we enjoy it. I think my enjoyment will be short-lived. The talk at the school gate was it will be cold this weekend. A girl can only hope!

I have been glued to the TV watching everything happening in Boston & Texas. CNN & NPR have been my friends. We have talked to our kids about everything that has happened in Boston. They asked questions and we answered them to the best of our ability. What we tried to tell them is that for all the bad out there in the world there is so much more goodness. On TV we saw people helping right after the bombing. They ran towards the injured without knowing if there was another bomb. They didn’t even think twice. They opened their homes and their hearts. People across the US started fundraising for the victims. They are the goodness.

My thoughts are with the people of Boston & West, Texas.

Hey Good Lookin Whatcha got Cookin

Since moving to Ireland I feel I have picked up a few new habits (Irish ones that I just do without thinking), improved a few skills of my own and tried very hard not to lose my American ways.

Just a few of my new habits ( if you want to call them that!?! )……
I say good bye at least 5 times at the end of a phone conversation..
I often wonder if rain is in the forecast..
I drink quite a bit of tea..
I always make sure I have cookies (biscuits) in the house..
I enjoy a good takeaway at the weekends..

Just a few of my improved skills….
Cooking..
I have always loved baking but I have never made my own bread. I now make some pretty good brown bread.
I loved the availability of El Milagro flour tortillas in Chicago. I know make flour tortillas like my grandmother makes and the family loves them.
The Barefoot Contessa is my new best friend, my cook books are my bibles and my cooking magazines on my IPad are golden.
Driving..
I don’t honk my horn or shout at people.
Exercising..
Running is new for me.
Meeting up with moms for 1 1/2 hr walks is a normal thing now. Walks on the beach and seal sightings are a normal thing now too.

As far as my American ways….I make it a point to include them in my daily life. Like right now I am going to have a glass of ice tea, listen to NPR and make dinner (not tea!)

And if your wondering it is raining….

Sweet Home Chicago


Okay, I have been absent on my blog for way too long. My last post was in October and it is now February. My Oh My how time flies.

We are just back from our trip to the states.  We had a great time!  It had been a year since our last visit.  It was long over due. Our first stop was NYC for my brother’s wedding.  The plane landed to applause.  The applause was not to welcome us home but because the pilot made a smooth landing.  I have to be honest a little part of me pretended the claps were for us. I love New York and I knew the kids would have a blast.  They loved every moment.  It was great to see our family. I enjoyed every meal and every drink I consumed.  I loved hearing American accents.  I was not the odd man out in the accent department.  The wedding was wonderful.   After saying our farewells to the newlyweds we hopped a plane to the Windy City.

Touching down in Chicago felt ah-mah-zing!  We were all happy to be home.  The kids had a list of things they wanted to see, eat and buy.  I missed Chicago but being there felt a little strange.  We saw so many people.  It was great to catch up with friends. Our kids reconnected instantly with their buddies.  It was like they just picked up were they left off. I feel like we ate and ate and ate.  We went to some of our favorite food spots and stocked up on food items to take back with us too.  We were able to spend more time with our family.  I soaked up every minute.  I felt like our time in Chicago went by so quickly. We got there and then suddenly it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes with tears, hugs and promises to see everyone very soon.

We have been back almost two weeks.  The tears are still coming.  Our first week back was hard.  I think we are  all homesick. We are all back into our routines and we are looking forward to Spring and Summer.  Word on the street here is that April will be our summer.  Let’s hope that is not true!!!

My “Irish” State Fair of Texas

Two weeks ago we attended the The National Ploughing Championships. The festival is the largest ploughing championship internationally and Europe’s largest outdoor event relating to agriculture. The name pretty much says it all. We took all three kids. I don’t know if they were more excited to miss school or for the championships. It was not what I expected. Everyone recommended they we take our wellies. They were right. I think most people were wearing rain boots. I bought a pair of nice Hunter rain boots before we moved. I have gotten my money’s worth. We did not mind the mud, crowds or animal smells. The kids loved all the free loot (which now is all over the floor of my car). Everything a farmer could need was showcased. There was everything from tractors worth 250,000 euros to walking sticks for 3 euros. The ploughing competitions were serious stuff. We saw all the livestock. In many of the livestock sheds you could buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win a heifer. We did not buy any raffle tickets because with my luck I would have been the proud owner of a heifer.

I was not looking forward to chowing down at the championships but I was pleasantly surprised. The Gourmet Burger Co. from Dublin had a stand and the burgers were delicious. We all enjoyed our lunch. The kids also got their fill of cotton candy and ice cream because that is what you eat at a fair.

I think the Ploughing Championships will have to be my State Fair of Texas for the year. The wellies replaced the cowboy hats, the chips(fries) were my corny dog, the wellie toss was my midway and the tough Irish woman over the PA system replaced my Big Tex.

But everything is done, with a southern accent Where I come from….

I lived in Chicago for many years and I think I have lost a bit of my Texan accent. My husband and kids would disagree. Every so often when I am in a restaurant, shop or just talking to someone on the telephone I often get “You are not from around here are you?”. I just smile, nod and say “No, can’t say that I am”. I then get a little smile or a nod. Then people often ask me why I moved to Ireland. I then find myself giving a stranger my life story. I am often asked to repeat things. My name for one. I ordered Thai take away last night and the nice girl on the phone asked me to repeat my name a couple of times. She still got it wrong. It is funny but I really miss hearing other American accents. Every once in a while with my kids I hear them speak with a bit of an Irish accent. I think to myself please don’t lose that Chicago accent. I love it too much! I wonder in a couple of years if I will be the only one in the house with an American accent. All of this accent talk made me think of that great Johnny Cash song Southern Accents. Hmmm all I need now is a Shiner Bock!

Eau de Pig Manure

Living in a big city there are lots of sounds and smells that surround you. Some of those sounds and smells you become familiar with and enjoy. There are also the sounds and smells that you could do without. That same experience can also be said for living in the country. We live about 10 minutes outside of Wexford town but in reality I would say we are country folk. We are set back from the road and about 15 acres surround our house but we still live on a busy road with other houses. There are a few fields behind us. This is where the new sounds and smells come into play. It is that time of year when all the farmers are spreading pig manure. It is HORRIBLE!!! I can sometimes smell it inside the house. You only catch the smell during certain parts of the day and I think most of the farmers are almost done spreading their manure. I hope! Last week I was getting ready for bed and from my bedroom window I watched three tractors at night working away like speed demons. There are ads on the radio telling you to watch out for tractors. Lately I meet large tractors about 3 times a day on the roads. You pull to the side of the road or they pull in so you can pass them. They always give you the little nod and a wave of their finger not the middle one but the index. You nod back and return the finger. So lately there has been a lot of bad smells, nodding and pointing of fingers. I guess it’s a country thing.

Even Don Henley would be sick of “The Boys of Summer”

We have been on a lucky streak with our weather here in Ireland. We saw so much of the sun in April. I heard from many people that April could be our summer. Really?!?!? May is here and we have had a few rainy days but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

There are many signs that summer is around the corner. The wet suits are appearing in Dunnes(my mini mini Target). Every DJ seems to play “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley at least once a day. Yes, I think it is a summer anthem in these parts. The strawberry stands are starting to appear on the side of the road. These I don’t mind a bit. Wexford is famous for their strawberries. I swear you can be out driving and you will not have to look far for a stand. You can guess what will be a staple for us this summer.

The kids enjoyed a two week break for Easter and are back into their routine. Thank God. School is in session until the end of June. My children are counting the weeks, days and minutes until summer break. I have to admit I am too. We had a pretty relaxing Easter break and I am hoping our summer is the same. We filled our time with exploring beaches, play dates and sleeping in late.

I have started running. Yes, that thing I always rolled my eyes at that many moms do on a regular basis. A friend asked if I wanted to start training with her and I thought “What the Hell!”. Well I have one 5k under my belt and I am still going a little strong. I mean I have to make good use of all my new Nike running gear.

Mammy Dearest

 

 

 

 

Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the land of 40 shades of green.   The shops were all filled with cards/flowers and restaurants were advertising Mother’s Day deals. I wondered if my party of five would make plans. They did! I got great cards from the kids.  Eoin’s card was addressed to his “Mammy”. Let’s just say that when I think of a “Mammy” I don’t picture myself.  He thought it was very funny. Malcolm made reservations for us to have lunch at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny.  Mount Juliet is a beautiful country estate in Thomastown, Kilkenny. It was very pretty. It even has a golf course designed by The Golden Bear himself. Our lunch was delicious.  The restaurant was nice and a little fancy for the kids but Miss Manners would have been impressed.  The kids did great.  We all enjoyed our fine dining experience.  The food was yum. We may have to make Mount Juliet a Mother’s Day tradition.