Category Archives: lists

New obsessions, December

Every now and then I post about whatever I’m loving at the moment. I haven’t done one for a while, so I should have plenty of new obsessions to update you on. Surely. Well, maybe a couple.

  1. Scarves indoors
    I feel like a grown-up now, because I wear scarves indoors. I was given a really big, but fine, scarf for my birthday in the summer, by my friend who has excellent taste, and now that it’s finally not the summer any more I’m wearing it constantly and loving it. I can wear it like this, or like this, or even like this, because scarves are so wonderfully versatile.
  2. Chili.
    It’s chili weather! Yay! I made chili on Tuesday and we had it three days in a row and didn’t get tired of it because it was yummy. The trick is to layer the heat from different sources: I had a fresh jalapeño (no seeds, because I’m a wimp), some chili powder, a can of chili beans, a can of tomatoes with zesty jalapeños and also a little slice of chipotle pepper (originally from a can) that I keep in the freezer. Sometimes I put in a few spoonsful of salsa too. B looked at me askance when I tried to explain that this is not in fact redundancy but good cooking; but he liked the results, so ya boo.
  3. Minecraft.
    Experiencing a resurgence in the household since a playdate where the kids’ friends were playing. I like when it’s a collaborative effort, actually, because then they’re not just staring at a screen but also cooperating while deciding what to do with the screen. That’s practically good parenting, that is. I even made a minecraft world of my own, which scored me many coolness points with the 7yo. Then I had to ask her to fix my roof because it was leaking.
  4. Flossing.
    Mabel needs two fillings. And an orthodontist consult. When your child has a small mouth so her teeth are very close together, you really should pay more attention to flossing than we’ve been doing. (In other news, Dash’s braces come off next week. He’s been saving his Halloween candy to celebrate.)
  5. My Divacup.
    I’ve finally crossed over to the hippie side. Extended breastfeeding, tandem nursing, co-sleeping… they’ve got nothing on reusable menstrual products, right? That’s where you really draw that line in the granola. I’m still getting the hang of it, but the smugness factor when I use barely any paper products at that time of the month is totally worth it.

What are you and yours into lately?

Things my children have recently talked me into

1. Accepting a very large toy dinosaur into the house, unwanted by neighbour child. “For at least a year,” said Mabel, refusing to budge on the matter.

large toy T-Rex watching TV with Mabel and Trixie the slightly smaller dino

2. Financing a lemonade stand. Going to Aldi specifically to buy more lemons. Sorry, lemins.

"leminade" stand

3. Two popsicles in one day. Maybe three. Silly freezer-on-the-bottom fridge.

4. And an ice-cream from IKEA.

5. Being allowed to use a box cutter. (The 9yo only. He’s very handy.)

6. Being allowed to use my camera. Selfie city.

Selfie by Mabel

7. Luminous yellow trainers.

8. Luminous pink trainers.

Mabel with new pink shoes

9. Turning the TV back on. Again.

It’s the end of summer. My defences are weak.

The A-Z of me

I was tagged by Andrea at Office Mum, so I have to do it. It’s pretty random, I’m warning you right now.

A is for accent
Wherever I go, I have an accent. In America I sound Irish, in Ireland I have a distinct drawl, apparently, at least until I’ve been back a week or two.

B is for B the B
To whom I am married. He runs marathons and does the washing up, and I love him to bits.

C is for chocolate
I like chocolate. Next question?

D is for Dublin
Where I’m from. The place that’s still home, no matter where else is also home.

E is for emigrant
I left Ireland in 2003, not meaning it to be for ever. I still don’t know if it’s forever, but I have to admit it’s starting to look more and more like that. Yes, I miss it; but no, I can’t just move back and stop complaining. It’s not that simple. Life rarely is.

F is for feet
I have crappy feet. They’re short and wide and they have a tendency to do things that make running painful. My mother’s first question on the each of my children was “Does he/she have your feet?” to which I happily replied No both times.

G is for Good Grief
Which I say a lot, because For Fuck’s Sake sometimes offends.

H is for home
See D.

I is for Ireland
See H.

J is for joke

K is for knitting
I went through a phase of knitting last year. I knitted a scarf for me and a multitude of hats and mittens, and then I suddenly stopped. Maybe I’ll start again in a while.

L is for Lyme disease
We live in a high Lyme-risk area, because there are lots of deer with lots of ticks. If you find a tick on you and pull it off within 48 hours, you’re probably fine. If the first you know of it is an itchy bite with a suspicious target-shaped rash around it, you go to the doctor and get three weeks of antibiotics for your trouble. I’ve pulled more ticks than you’d like to know about off my kids, and I did the antibiotic thing last autumn.

M is for Mabel
Mabel is six and a half. She wants to be a teacher because teachers get to choose the snacks. She enjoys playing with everything we own and never tidying up.

N is for novel
I suppose it has to be. I’m trying to write one. I am writing one, actually, and it’s a sequel to the one I just finished. If you’re a publisher with lots of money who would like to talk to me about this, please do contact me.

O is for olives
I hated olives for years. Then I spent time in Spain and moved slowly from not minding them, to finding them oddly tasty with a cold beer, to actively asking for them on a pizza. I still get to eat B’s olives, though, as he is not similarly enlightened.

P is for peanut butter
Dash, the nine year old, lives mainly on peanut butter sandwiches. He has done for years now. It’s amazing, really. But tedious when we go on holidays, because other bread and other peanut butter does not taste the same and then he lives on toast and peanuts instead. And a lot of milk.

Q is for quiet
which my children are never. It’s very hard to get a word in edgeways around here.

R is for recorder
The sins of my past are being visited upon me, because Dash has started learning the recorder at school. As I played – and practiced – recorder for a very long time, and I’m sure much of it was not tuneful, I’m probably only reaping what I sowed now.

S is for sister
I don’t have one. I’m glad I was able to give Dash one, even though he thinks she gets all the good stuff.

T is for tea
One of the worst things about hot summers is that you don’t want a cup of tea. And then how are you supposed to enjoy your muffin/cake/cookies to the fullest extent?

U is for USA
Where I live, whose citizenship I got last year, though I didn’t really want to. I have two passports now, just like my kids.

V is for vision
Dash has some vision issues, which we tackled last year with vision therapy. It was helpful, though it didn’t seem to get to the root of his reading difficulties. If you want to know more about this, put “vision therapy” into the search bar.

W is for weaning
For a long time, a lot of my blogposts were about weaning – in the American sense of giving up breastfeeding, not the UK/Irish sense of starting solid foods. (They are not the same thing, though to the uneducated eye they might appear to be.) I weaned my babies for a long, long time.

X is for x-ray
Obviously, because I have nothing to say about xylophones or xenophobes. I had a chest x-ray to get my green card, to prove I didn’t have TB. Last year I had a back x-ray which revealed my bulging disc. But I’ve never broken a bone, so I’ve had no other x-rays at all, apart from the dentist ones.

Y is for you
Beloved reader, without whom a blog is just a blargh.

Z is for zoo
The National Zoo in Washington DC is really good. For one thing, it’s free, so if you take public transport or score on-street parking, you don’t have to feel like you need to stay all day to get your money’s worth. You can just treat it like a stroll where you see some animals. On the other hand, it’s on a hill, and by the time you’ve got down to the lions at the bottom, everyone wants a piggyback back up again. Plus, pandas.

Lion, asleep, in the zoo

Can’t find a panda, but here’s a lion I prepared earlier

I’m tagging Jill at Proper Fud and Aedín at Minis and Mum, because they’re only dying to jump on the bandwagon and I’m amazed I’m not the last.

6 reasons I know it’s summer

Whatever the calendar says – and you might be surprised; seasons don’t just fall differently depending on the hemisphere* – there are certain ways I can tell for sure that we really have made the leap to summer.

1. My coconut oil is liquid. I know this because I keep some upstairs in my bathroom for moisturizing purposes and this morning I opened it carelessly, expecting some sort of soft sludge consistency, and found I’d sloshed half of it out over the countertop.

2. I’m hanging the clothes on the line. Many Americans don’t line dry at all, because we have those lovely big tumble dryers that work so well. In the colder months, even in the sort of weather when all of Ireland would be busy hanging out the washing (because it’s not actually raining even if there is a fine mist in the air, and sure there’s a fine bit of a breeze), I give myself permission to use the dryer, because I have Reynaud’s and my fingers really hurt when they’re cold and damp even if it’s not actually cold cold outside. But yesterday I was actually legitimately disappointed when the washing line broke and I had to resort to electricity. I think it’s because I really enjoy the smug feeling I get from singlehandedly saving the planet every summer.

3. I have been overtaken by a strange urge to eat healthily and get more exercise. I’m even drinking water instead of tea. (Which is good because I’m less likely to need a muffin or seven to wash down my water.) This is not entirely unrelated to my recent doctor’s visit where I saw an unwelcome number on the scale, but let’s not dwell on that. It’s not about the number. It’s not about the vanity. (It is totally about the vanity, what there is of it left to me.) It’s about being fit and strong and healthy and getting my five a day. I keep looking up salad recipes. I bought a cabbage yesterday.

4. There are insects. Nobody has had a tick pulled off them yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I have yet to see a mosquito either, but I keep meeting an ant in the house. I”m convinced it’s the same little fecker every time – he’s about the size of a small puppy, and every time I put him outside I tell him not to come back, but a few hours later there he is again. Even when I squash him and put him in the bin, he gets resurrected. Fecker.

5. I want white wine, not red. A nice cold Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Grigio, maybe a vinho verde. I like my whites crisp and refreshing and tasting of almost nothing, but in a good way. No Chardonnay, thanks.

6. We have all stopped caring about school. Homework, schmomework is my new motto. I have to remember not to say it in front of the kids.

Washing hanging out to dry

Baseball mom laundry

*In Ireland, it’s already officially summer. Summer runs from May 1st to the end of July. Yes, August is technically an autumn month, though I never understood that. If you’re on summer holidays, it’s still summer. Weatherwise in Ireland, September is often much sunnier, and maybe warmer, than July, too.

In America, as I have mentioned before, summer doesn’t start until the solstice. Yes, even though it’s called Midsummer’s Day and you’d think there’d be a clue in there somewhere, they say that June 21st is the beginning of summer. And then it goes all the way to the equinox, in late September. Weatherwise, mind you, that makes a lot more sense, as it usually doesn’t start to cool down till October.


Things that are giving me quite a degree of satisfaction these days, smug or otherwise:

– Since school started, I have been to two yoga classes and plonked down actual money to pay for nine more in advance, so I have to go. And they feel really good.

[I have no photo to go here. Imagine me looking fabulously strong and bendy.]

– I took some photos that were in the kids’ rooms in little frames that were always falling down and being off kilter, and put them in one big frame per child. It’s a ginormous improvement, even if I’m the only person in the house who appreciates this.

Two sets of framed baby photos

– My children clamour to hear Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up“, so we must be doing something right. (You’re welcome for the earworm, by the way.)

– Remember that scarf I diffidently began knitting during a brief rush of blood to the head in June? I’m still knitting it. I’m onto my second ball of yarn. I have never in my life knitted something this large, and the last time I knitted anything even approaching it was when I was 12. I really think I’m going to finish it.

long scarf, half knit–  I have new glasses. While my internal jury is still out on how much I love the frames (yes, I picked them, but I might have been momentarily deluded or something), being able to see through unscratched lenses is a wonderful novelty.

Me with new glasses and Dash

– I have advanced to the Finalists stage of the Blog Awards Ireland. This, as you might gather, is actually the final stage in a fairly interminable process, and I’m mightily chuffed to be here as I stopped at “Shortlisted” last year. My category is “Best Blog of the Irish Diaspora” and I’m up against a bunch of gorgeous, enticing, and beautifully written blogs. It’s truly an honour to be included in that group. It would be lovely to have the night out and an opportunity to wear a posh frock, but I don’t get to do that because, well, diaspora.

blog awards ireland

There are, no doubt, plenty of other things that are making me peeved rather than smug, but let’s stop there for today.

Holy Crap I’m 40

I’m 40. Actually, I’ll be 41 soon, which is almost comforting, except for the way it’s not. But hey, I’m used to my forties now. I’m practically desensitized.

You know what the worst thing is? It’s the phrase “middle-aged”. I’ve made my peace with the fourth decade at this point, but I’m still very very much railing against any notion that I’m middle-aged. I think we need to ban those two words in that particular configuration. They have nothing but sad, dowdy, pathetic, or downright panic-ridden connotations.

My age is just a number, right? I don’t care that the number starts with a 4. Four is a nice digit, actually. Other numbers are much more important:

2: The number of children I pushed out of my ladyparts (also the total number I have).

1: The number of wine glasses right beside me as I write this, because I can refill it as many times as I like.

5: The number of cupcakes whose continued existence I have carefully shielded from my two (2) children today.

0: The number of fucks I give about what someone else thinks about how I look. (Most of the time).

10: Almost the number of years I’ve been married to the man who is exactly the perfect man for me.

30: The SPF I wear every day, because wrinkles are just laughter lines but skin cancer is no fun.

5: How many cheesegraters I own. (Just throwing that in there.)

I’ll survive. As my dad always tells me, getting old is better than the alternative.

Missing, because children

Certain things are missing, or disappeared, or not where they’re meant to be, or just all gone, never to return. These are some of those things:

Enough tissues (Mabel has a cold)


Functioning flashlights

Any tennis balls (which I need once in a blue moon for the clothes dryer)

The remote control

remote control on countertop

Ah, there it is. Sometimes I forget where I’ve hidden it. Other times the kids “lose” it.

Bubble wrap (because as soon as it enters the house it gets popped)

My dignity

Any semblance of tidiness

The big soft brown woofly blanket (because it’s a roof for the dollshouse now)

My sunglasses

My replacement sunglasses

Pens that work

Pencils without broken leads


Pencils, pencils everywhere, but not a one that works

The pencil sharpener

Black permanent markers

The other sock

All the band-aids except the tiny ones that are no use to anyone

The big hairbrush

The little hairbrush

My favourite yoga pants (I think they atrophied through lack of use)


What’s missing in your house?

Strengthening exercises

Step 1: Tell the chiropractor that yes, you do (probably, still,) have an exercise ball because you used it when you were pregnant (and in labor, for that matter). He is impressed, and gives you a sheet of exercises that you can do using it.

Step 2: Come home and find the exercise ball, deflated, in its original box, pretty much exactly where you thought it would be in the basement. Since you moved house 1.5 years after the last time you used it, this is quite an achievement.

Step 3: Find a pump and the plug right there in the box along with the deflated ball.

Step 4: Let the five-year-old help you inflate the ball.

Step 5: Watch the five-year-old bounce the ball around until you can finally use it for its intended purpose, briefly.

Step 6: Pick up the second-grader from school. Have the five-year-old refuse to go to dance class even though it’s dance class day and in spite of your best efforts, bringing her all the way there and making her tell the teacher herself that she’s not coming to class today.

Step 7: Suggest that the seven-year-old do his homework straight away when you get home, just as he would have done in the library while his sister was at dance class. He will agree, but he won’t mean it, and as soon as he comes in the door it will be mayhem times two with the exercise ball until you banish it to the basement, amid wails and gnashing of teeth.

Step 8: Wonder when next you’ll bother your arse to get it back upstairs and do your exercises.

Maybe it’s my resolve that needs strengthening, just as much as my back muscles.

Exercise ball in basement

Glass containing some proportion of liquid

All the things I have not done that were on my to-do list for January:

  • Made the children write thank-you notes for Christmas [hangs head in shame; no excuse for that]
  • Booked the summer holiday. [Was just about to do this last night when Mabel wet the bed and all the information I had just entered and selections I had made timed out. Then when I tried again the flights had disappeared. I gave it up as a bad job and will try again tonight.]
  • Contacted my so-called contracting job to see if they might ever again need my services, for money, that they would pay me, that I could use to go to the hairdresser, for instance. Or pay for expensive summer holidays.
  • Planned dinners, preferring to continue to fly by the seat of my pants and make a lot of something-with-pasta.
  • Made muffins, because I need to do that today.

Things I have, however, managed to do, so it’s not all bad, you know:

  • Gone to the chiropractor, which is an ongoing adventure but I’m glad to have started it because I do officially have a bulging disc and it’s good to know about that so that some day when I accidentally bend sideways to pick up a dropped pencil and it suddenly agonizingly herniates, I’ll know what’s going on. Now do I have exercises which will “take the pressure off my spine.” Which is not all that reassuring when you wonder where else you can lean the rest of your body if not on your spine. And it’s nice, you know, when they tell you that it’s great because it’s not your whole spine. Just one little bit of it. So yay.
  • Acquired an audition for Listen To Your Mother, as promised, which was very easy to do once I knew it was a thing, because I wrote my piece and then when they said auditions would be happening I just sent an e-mail and they gave me a timeslot. So that will be this Saturday and I will tell you all about it afterwards so that if you do it you can be forearmed. (But not four-armed.)
  • Got anything done at all, such as keeping milk and cereal and toilet paper in the house, considering all the snow days and polar-vortex days and two-hour delays we’ve been running up against for the past few weeks.
  • Continued to make a renewed effort to, if not exactly prioritize, at least not let fall entirely by the wayside, writing that is not on my blog. By which I mean I have done a little of it and there are more words on the page than there were before. Chipping away at all that white space, I am, sentence by sentence.
  • Oh, and I did do that moving to WordPress thing I had planned for. And my stats are looking more realistic and yet not totally non-existent, so I suppose that’s good too.


Snow way snow how

Time for a bullet post to clear my head of the thoughts jumbling up in here.

  • Snow. We have it. Also coldness. Coldth. It is very. Tomorrow it will be less so and we are fervently hoping that there will be school. Also my MRI is tomorrow morning and I already rescheduled it once.
  • My favourite warm fuzzy brown cardigan that I like to wear around the house disappeared at new year’s. Three weeks later to the day I found it exactly where it should have been (maybe a little further over) in the closet. I think this is indicative of nothing except how rarely I actually hang things up where they belong.
  • Sometimes your seven-year-old isn’t just shouting random math questions out the bathroom door at bedtime, he’s actually trying to calculate how many inches long the roll of toilet paper is. For which you must give him some sort of credit.
  • When you tell that same seven-year-old to put on his swim shorts under his regular clothes while getting dressed, remember to check that he did so before you drive in the snow to the pool, because otherwise you’ll have to drive back home again to get them because he will swear that you never said any such thing.
  • If by any chance you’ve forgotten any of the words to Do You Want To Build a Snowman? from the Frozen soundtrack, I have a five-year-old here who will knock on a door/wall/window and sing it all, in a different voice for each verse as Anna gets older, wearing a specially selected dress, sitting down with her back to said door/wall/window with her legs out exactly as happens in the movie. So that’s comforting to know.
  • Also, if you’ve forgotten the names of the fifty states of the USA, in alphabetical order, I have someone here who can sing them for you, many many times, so long as you don’t mind some tunelessness to go with the belting out and the particularly dramatically drawn out last line.
  • Finally, if you have any aspirin I’d be obliged.