* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Will we have rainbows, day after day?*

*Quote from Que Sera Sera

For those who are wondering, there are at least a couple more Ireland posts coming- most notably one about the Cliffs of Moher.

Today is my 36th birthday and my 13th Anniversary.

Allen and I got married on a very sunny, rather hot day in a truly lovely morning garden wedding.  It was my 23rd birthday and we do indeed have a picture of me blowing out my candles on my wedding day but it's in a cabinet in America so, no dice on seeing it today.

Today, my life is likely about a 1/3 completed and, with any luck, I still have a whopping 2/3rds to look forward to.  Now that the children are getting a little older (that being 2, 5, and 6- ancient, really!), I get asked somewhat frequently what I plan to do with myself.  This question always takes me slightly aback.

First, I think what I am doing actually is a career of it's own.  It takes time and energy and skill to keep a home and keep it well.  I know some families manage to make it all come together (oftentimes, well) with all the bits and pieces crammed into their lives every which way but I just can't pull it off.  There was a facebook discussion that sprung up and I shared that I thought the end goal of feminism should be that you could get a degree in the home arts; that it would be considered just as rigorous as any other; and that men and women completed it in fairly equal numbers.  Keeping a home will never be of great monetary value, it simply won't work that way but it could be given intellectual worth.  My thought is that when the traditional tasks of a woman are as valued as the traditional tasks that were the realm of men, and, perhaps, most notably, the realm of wealth, then I will consider myself and my ambitions to have equal value in our culture.  I should however note, that over time, I've drifted away from self-identifying as a feminist, instead advocating a new paradigm where people are simply valued as a part of a larger unit- a familiest is the closest I can get to a label.  Feminism tends to be too adversarial for my taste with the functional result being that women are either left identifying themselves relative to men and/or in direct opposition to men.  I'd rather look at a family as a unit with an option for men or women who strike out on a different path to still have value, as well.  It takes all sorts...

Leila puts it well in this post when she says:
I don't know why being the manager of the home (leaving aside being its heart, and just purely looking at things job-wise) is considered... nothing.
Have you been to a hotel recently? Maybe to stay, or for a reception? Can you imagine even thinking, "This hotel is great. It's comfortable, welcoming, clean, and refreshing. The food tastes homemade. It's wonderful that this hotel has no manager." 
Laura says it even better:
Just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women's work at home, while only the doing of little things, is just like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens the whole fabric of civilization." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Second, there is the fact that my main career goal was really always to be a wife and mother and keeper of the home. (Try saying that on career day!)  I went to college to get a degree, not to find a husband, but, those degrees are in Social Studies, Special Education, Early Childhood Education, and, the capper, a Master's in Early Childhood Special Education. (taking a moment to toot my own horn- I completed all 4 courses of study within 5 years- it can be done!)  It's not like they are "wasted" while I'm raising and educating and socializing these children.  A typical day leaves me feeling more as if I wish I had gotten even more education.

Mothers must know an impossibly much.  I must know the difference between a toad and a frog and a tortoise and a turtle.  I need to know what is sleet and what is freezing rain and why they aren't hail.  I must know what color shirt the planet Mars would wear and which planet would float in a bathtub (Saturn).  I must know how to count to 10 and then 20 and then 100 and then to infinity and beyond and within all that I must find a good spot for eleventeen.

I need to know why "know" has that pesky k and looks nothing like it sounds and offer up the reassurance that no other word will be quite that contrary.  I need to know why the sky is blue and why it's the dark clouds that make the rain.  I need to know where the puddles go and where streams end.

I need to know where fairies live and what leprechauns like to eat.  I need to who Wee Willy Winky is and why he cares if Jon is asleep.  I need to know why the moon is out when the sun is still up and why we sometimes go to bed when it's bright outside and sometimes wake when the sky is dark.  I need to know just the right mix of frown and hug.  I must know how to cross a street and count the stars and make a very long wait not quite so bad.

Most of all, I must know we haven't even gotten to the hard questions.

Someday I might go to Divinity School or get a therapy licence or even write a few children's books in which the Princess of Books and Princess of Geometry consult with the Princess of Botany, but, for now, my dreams have indeed come true and I am, in fact, doing the very work I once aspired to.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Run for the Cheese

There is a saying to the effect that "the only time you'll ever find me running is if the police are chasing me."  I have been of the school of thought that says "perhaps being arrested wouldn't be all that bad."  Then I had 3 children in slightly less than 4 years and discovered that by the time Allen got home from work, at least part of the time, all I wanted to do was run away.  Happily there is a socially acceptable form of fleeing your teething, tantruming, napless wonders called the "Couch to 5k."  I wasn't running away from responsibility, I was harnessing my stress to work towards fitness!

I landed on the Kiss My Black A** podcasts.  (I have untold layers, people.  Did you know Jen gets transcendental to Tupac?)  There was something deliciously sinful about listening to music I would never listen to around the delicate ears of my dear, sweet, children that was highly motivating.  The only problem is that I tend to run too fast to dance/pop sorts of songs so I tend to wear myself out in the first couple of minutes and then plod through the rest of the run.  Even when I did run a full 30 minutes, I tended toward a sprightly 12:30 minute mile.  Between illness, weather, and short days I had a lot of trouble keeping up a running program but I did what I could.

Then we moved to Dublin.  Dublin (when not in sleet season) may be the ideal home of runners.  Once you get over the hump of sleet and ridiculously short days, you get weather than is consistently 10-15 C/50-70 F, reasonably flat land, and a light to gale force wind to keep you pleasantly cool.  There is often some sort of precipitation but it tends towards drizzle rather than downpour and it's relatively simply to line up daylight and childcare since, for example, the sun currently rises at 4:58 and it gets full dark around 10:30.

I found myself, for the first time in about 7 years, not pregnant and/or breastfeeding which had been my previous form of fat burning activity.  (The nurse nearly wept with joy when I told her Noah weaned at around 25 months- breastfeeding is struggling a bit in Ireland)  There is also that miracle known as the the Irish dairy product.  When you pair any Irish dairy product with the second wonder known as Irish breads and pastries, you discover that you should really take up running again.  (I have decided that butter will have to be a line item in our budget upon return to Blacksburg.  I'm going to taste test the Amish stuff against the Kerrygold and ignore generic butter sales with wild abandon.  Ireland, what have you done to me!)

I developed a new running plan called "Run for the Cheese!"

This time I decided to follow the Doctor Mama strategy which is run in as long a stretch as you can but run really, really slow and make sure you can sing along with your songs.  This brought me back to the pop issue.  80s pop is great running music since the songs are short (nothing is quite as bad as promising yourself you can stop at the end of the song only to realize Fergie will be discussing her Fergaliciousness for another 3 minutes) and quite singable.  But, the peppy beats that motor you through the first few minutes, kill you in the second half.  I decided that the perfect music to both sing along with and encourage you to run just a little slower is country.

Country music is ideal for people who think that being arrested might not be so bad but have an abiding love of both their current pair of jeans AND Irish dairy products.  The songs are short, they are supremely singable, and, the story lines often offer up intriguing lines of thought.  For instance, there is apparently a whole school of thought that considers access to a particular biscuit recipe grounds for marriage.  I need this biscuit recipe!

Another note, if you participated in marching band for, perhaps, 6 years, you will likely find it a supreme struggle to not run to the beat (stepping off on the left) so, pay attention to the beats per minute or prepare for some mental hardship during your run.  Multiples of the same root seem fine- i.e. my sweet spot is around 160 bpm but I can adapt quite happily to 80-90 bpm.  The ones between 110 and 130 throw me off a little but are useful to help me run slower in between "fast" songs or at the end.

The gist of Run for the Cheese, should you choose to try it, is to start by running to around 3 songs.  Try to add a song a week until you are happy with your total time running.  I'm aiming for a consistent 30 min run and I'd like to do 9-10 minute miles but I'm not worrying about speed until I can run a consistent 30 minutes.  I fully expect to backslide when we return to the land of heat, humidity, and hills.  :-)  I find that a rice cake with peanut butter (and maybe a dab of nutella) and a big glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or lime is a good post workout snack.  Plain water tends to make me feel queasy post-run.  If feel completely exhausted after your "run" and snack, consider adding a snack and/or glass of water pre-run, run slower, run for 1 song fewer and/or look into hiring a night nanny.

I've posted the playlist to where you can listen on spotify or buy via itunes or Amazon.  You should be able to access the list without any sort of registration but let me know if it's a problem.  I've added a link to the playlist on the sidebar of the blog if you want to get at it later because who wouldn't want to:





Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real

round button chicken


The daffodil days have gone and now we are watching sunflowers and lilies.  Sadly, Allen is apparently allergic to lilies and we can only accommodate the sunflowers in the umbrella stand but we still enjoy the pretty as well as the excitement of watching the blooms open.

In a pretty is as pretty does moment, I've think I've decided on my 1st homeschool high school english unit.  We'll spend a term or two on the great romantic poets and then have a verse-off to decide who would be most likely to steal a heart.  The idea sprang from a twitter discussion with National Library of Ireland (NLIreland):
WB Yeats - good or bad roomie?
My response (craftybecky):
I think it could be dicey... What if he started reciting his verses around your girl?

Naturally, that led to wondering who would be the bigger heart breaker: Dunne or Yeats.  

And, really, what could possibly be a better life skill than being able to quote romantic poetry at the drop of a hat?  I will be such a homeschooling maven!  ;-)


One of the idiosyncrasies of European life is the obsession with reflective vests and dark coats.  I get a number of curious looks for my yellow rain coat which is, in my opinion, the ideal outer covering for a dark and drizzly climate.  My red coat is considered eccentric but passable.  But when I put on my yellow rain jacket, everyone is pretty sure I'm on the train to crazy town.  The ideal solution, according to the locals, is to own a black, brown, or, if feeling rebellious, dark blue jacket and the throw on a reflective vest whenever it's dark or dreary (which is sort of all the time).

In other funny news, Noah found a coin on the playground.  Our children have decided that this portends great luck.  Noah proudly declared "I found a lucky coin!" So, I replied, "Aren't you a lucky duck!"  Noah felt the only appropriate response was to quack the whole way home.


We had a picnic in a public garden/park on Monday.  It was a Bank Holiday so the children were off school and Allen decided to stay home as well.  I believe there is one a month for June-August.  The upshot is the same as our named summer holidays with lots of 5ks, barbeques and family outings on the long weekend.  The advantage is that it always is a 3 day weekend instead of the periodic 4th of July on a Wednesday dilemma.  They do various memorial days at other points in the year.


Continuing attempts to take a selfie in which
I don't have a double chin and my eyes aren't doing
anything weird.  Mamas have to have a hobby...
We're getting ready to return to the US.  I feel like I have most things under control.  We have started the process of giving toys away.  I made inquiries to the church about giving away the children's loft, Noah's crib (known as a cot), and the linens since those don't belong to the house.  We are eating through the cupboard.  I've made the monster list of items needed to gear a household back up to the full throttle living requirements of a family with young children.  I went through and figured out which things can be delivered from Amazon, which from Walmart, and then made a detailed list of things I will be buying while slightly comatose from Target and the grocery store.  I've even gotten a start on my meal plan for the 1st week!  We have a going away party in the works and Allen went on his last work trip.  Things are clicking along.

But, the thing that strikes terror in my heart is the move-out clean.  I embraced the hired cleaner mode for our move-out clean in US and I am so glad I did.  While I can pack up a home and move a family across an ocean with something akin to sanity, managing to do that and have sparkling toilets is apparently just one step too many.  But, move-out cleaners are neither in our Irish budget or the Irish custom, so, marathon clean it is!

We plan to stay in a hotel our last night and I've found friends to host play dates and Allen is aware his main job on move-out day is to keep the children Out Of The House but, still, getting the house to move-in clean is a daunting task.

Noah has no memory of the US and our home there.  I have to keep assuring him that, yes, we have legos in America and yes, we have bubbles in the US.  This morning, we had a long discourse about the fact that he can take a bath in a tub rather than a shower and later we talked about playing in grass in the yard- the highlight being that the yard will be be simply full to bursting with dandelions to wish on!  Megan and Noah watched a dealer video about our minivan on youtube a couple of months ago, completely entranced.  Megan was moaning about the heat and fondly discussing playing in paddling pools when it hit about 17 (70) on Monday.

Re-entry will be an adventure.