28 December 2009

Packing...

Tomorrow we are heading off for a holiday in Chicago. One of my closest friend's who hails from the 'Windy City' is getting married on Saturday and Cupcake and I are part of the wedding party. It should be an interesting trip to say the least because while I am back walking, I can't walk for long periods of time (not that I would expect to in that weather...) and I am still using a crutch. For safety's sake I am bringing both crutches as I wouldn't be entirely certain of my footing on icy sidewalks. We are really looking forward to just relaxing and taking Cupcake to the fabulous children's museum at Navy Pier.

But before we can even think about what we will be doing that dreaded thing known as packing must commence and be successfully completed. As usual I am accused of 'overpacking' especially on the shoe front so I have made the decision to generously cut out one pair of shoes and they are actually my uncomfortable snow boots - will I live to regret this decision? I am bringing my trail runners and they have pretty good grip so hopefully they will suffice. I've been to New York twice during winter and managed both times with flat non-water proof boots so not too worried.

Now to keep a near two year old occupied on a 8 hour flight (and we are expecting delays due to the recent security incident over the weekend)... Any advice?

26 December 2009

Stephen's Day

Ah the day after Christmas... A time to relax and sit around in my bathrobe for hours and hours on end.

On Christmas Eve we had husband's family over for some food and fun. This year has been very special as Cupcake's Spanish cousins are visiting over the holiday season. The cousins are nearly 4 and 2 years respectively. This was the first time that Cupcake found herself well and truly fascinated by her 2 year old counterpart. We are, however, still learning to share we have heard many screams of 'mine mine' or 'no me me'.

Christmas was spent down at Nana's house with a food marathon and several games of Scattegories and Boggle. Cupcake was delighted with her new trike and magna-doodle from Ho ho (I am referring to Santa not some crazy present giving prostitute or the hostess baked good). We skyped my family in California when they had managed to rouse themselves after what sounds like a fun night of partying at their blow-out Christmas Eve party where even my Dad was helping himself to shots of Hot Damn. Dad was apparently on a roll, especially after my brother posted pictures of him wearing a metallic shirt that had him looking like a 'Guido' off of Jersey Shore. While I was disappointing not to have been there to celebrate with my family I have promised myself that next Christmas we will be heading over.

Today we went back over to Nana's house to meet up with the extended family. It was nice, although not a surprise to see that the two girls were verbally advanced in comparison to the same age boy cousins. Although I don't necessarily think this relates to gender as I think it really is about how much you read to your children and work with them to learn different words. Cupcake has a huge fascination with books and is constantly reminding us that she requires them all times. A couple nights ago she refused to go to sleep without a book by her side. I think it is cute that she is so demanding (!) but occasionally do get a fright when I hear something fall out of her bed in the middle of the night until I realise it is just a book and not my girl!

09 December 2009

The Holiday Season






Well the holiday season is upon us. It seemed to come faster than usual this year, although I am not really sure why since I have spent the last 9 weeks house-bound! Right now I am laying in bed, staring out at a gloomy rainy afternoon and all I can think about are these delicious biscotti that my grandmother used to make. That is how I really knew it was Christmas, these delicious twice-baked cookies would make their appearance once a year in our cupboard next to this lethal fruit cake she also would whip up. Incidentally my Dad swears her fruit cake kept him and his fellow sailors warm and happy while stationed in Adak, Alaska during Vietnam as apparently she put enough alcohol in it to keep the US Navy afloat. Strange, all of a sudden this memory of her biscotti has pierced my consciousness and I miss her so incredibly much.

On a holiday note, I was just browsing on food network, my food bible website for interesting holiday goodies. If there is one thing I love about the holidays it is baking. Every year my Mom would put together these fantastic plates of treats to give to all of our family friends. It was a great activity to be involved in over the Christmas holidays as Mom always needed her special kitchen helper (i.e. moi). It is a tradition I've said I'd like to continue with my aptly named 'Cupcake' as I thought it was a great way to spend time together. There is something about the sentiment attached to giving food, something you had spent the days pouring your love and good thoughts into, that puts me in the 'real' Christmas spirit.

When it comes down to it, Christmas for me isn't a time for going crazy and breaking the bank, rather it is a time for giving things to people that I've actually put effort into making. That being said it has been extremely difficult not to go hog wild buying things for my niece and nephew, especially when I keep seeing cool things I think they would LOVE. So I have made it my goal to try to make one thing for them this year - which involves embroidering as it is the only thing I can accomplish in a minimal amount of time and still feel it looks good. My niece will be receiving a little tote bag with her name and some ice cream cones on it while my nephew will have a personalised 'space' bandana. I just love looking back at all the cool things people made for me as a kid - my desk, a mini rocking chair, a sandbox, a handmade jumper with my name on it - and remembering all the love that went into those things.


01 December 2009

3 Year Old Wears High Heels

It isn't very often that I post about pop culture but I just couldn't help but link in to this story. Apparently Suri Cruise, daughter of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise has been spotted wearing high heels. Yes that is right a 3 year old wearing high heels (and drinking a Starbucks but that is a different matter). What is even more crazy is that Holmes defends her decision to let her dress up doll, er... I mean, child wear the shoes because it is what every little girl dreams of doing. Uh really? Well what little girl planet were you raised on - oh right the one where you married Tom Cruise. I was raised on the one where my parents didn't think it was ok to allow a child to be sexualised from a young age. My mother had down to earth, realistic expectations of me - i.e. that I might grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer ... not a fairy princess. I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 10, I wasn't allowed to wear nail polish to school until I was in high school, nor make up for that matter. And I certainly wasn't chomping at the bit to stick my delicate little tootsies into heels. I guess what is so disturbing is the natural assumption that dressing up is what every girl wants to do. Yeah I guess you would want to be like your mom if she was dressed up all the time but perhaps it is not so much about a 'fantasy' life it is more about what kind of role model you want to be for your daughter. I for one will not be letting cupcake swap her high tops anytime soon.


26 November 2009

(Nearly) Back in Action

Now I know this might now seem like a big deal to you but... I am happy to report that I can see my legs again - both legs! My heavy, ugly restrictive cast was removed today and with it a proverbial weight lifted off my shoulders (or lower limb... whatever). I was a bit nervous going into the hospital today, and not because they had giant warning swine flu pandemic signs everywhere (I am technically immune now that I have been vaccinated). It was because I couldn't bear the thought of wearing this cast one more second longer. What if they told me that I'd need to keep it on longer, I would DIE. However my prognosis was good and after being there for nearly 3 hours (hey I am a public patient ok) that sucker was removed. I nearly screamed 'FREEEEEDOOOM' al la Mel Gibson in Braveheart. I stared down at my shriveled limb in trepidation, now how in the world was I going to protect it from knocking off doorways or from an active toddler who wanted to play horse on it? That my friends I have not yet been able to answer. Cue screams of pain... All I know is I came home and took the most glorious hour long shower of my life. I can't shave the 'cavewoman' leg for two days while the skin sloughs its way off, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying the weightless feeling of my cast-free leg. Now the tough part, for the next week I still have to keep off it until I have my 'procedure' done. I am charge with moving my foot up and down, side to side and rolling it around at the joint. So far the movement has been stiff and painful but if this will make it easier to walk I am going to do it in my sleep!

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 November 2009

Thanksgiving Conundrum...


It is not very often I am puzzled by food. But the arrival of my Thanksgiving turkey has me very puzzled indeed.

We are planning to have 22 people over for our belated Thanksgiving meal on Saturday. I am going in to have my cast removed tomorrow and I wanted to make sure that I would have enough time to brine and prep. I managed to secure a very moderately priced FRESH turkey for this occasion. When I spoke to my 'dealer' on the phone I said I needed something about 10kg. Today he delivered into my care a 30lb monster.

Imagine this scenario, I am zipping around in my borrowed wheelchair. I go over to where I have carefully place this roasting monstrosity in my small roasting tin. I attempt to lift this whopper and place it on my lap. I open the oven door with my food (my good one) and try to put the turkey into the oven. I realise from my back-breaking bent over position that this sucker is not going to fit. OH MY GOD, my turkey is too big for my oven.

I call my mother- in- law and we troubleshoot the situation. What about cutting off the legs? It appears like it will fit then but how will that affect my projected cooking time of 4.30 - 5 hours? Also I was going to brine this baby so what will the implications of 'legless' mean? Will I need to roast the legs the day before? So many questions. Who will answer them all?

Then I get a brainwave and I call 1800 Butterball. They are one of the largest and best known suppliers for the traditional Thanksgiving turkeys in the US. A friendly home-economist suggests that I cut that baby in half and roast it in two parts. Hmm not sure will it fit that way either. But this is one of the joys of cooking, hopefully I will successfully feed all my hungry guests on Saturday. I have a feeling that we will be eating turkey leftovers for the next three weeks!

21 November 2009

Wedding Shower

Yesterday I hosted a wedding shower for one of my best friends. As we are both originally from the States, and her wedding is taking place in Chicago, it seemed the appropriate thing to do. To my knowledge wedding showers (and baby showers) have yet to catch on in the emerald isle. Usually the duty falls to the maid of honour and the other bridesmaids. As I am the only 'Irish' based bridesmaid I decided that I could handle the lot of it. Yes I do have a problem delegating, something I readily admit - perhaps it is because the age old adage "If you want something done properly - do it yourself" is a mantra I am unwilling to let go of. I had visions of my normal cooking and baking activities. Once my father and I managed to cater a full dinner for the 90 people that attended my father-in-law's 50th birthday! However, the broken limb has thrown me off course, so I was left with no chance but to accept help from some other friends. Our theme was home, and this is totally appropriate as my friend is writing her PhD on concepts of home and diasporic experience of migrants in Ireland. She is also a first-gen American so her own ideas of home are very important in figuring her cultural identity.

So how does one have a theme of home? Well firstly the shower was held in MY home. Ha ha. I decorated the house with flowers and different size heart cut-outs that read phrases like "Home is where the heart is", "Home follows the family", "There's no place like home", "Love makes a house a home" and "Home is where you make it". Then I asked all the guests to email me a treasured family recipe to construct a book of food. Naturally when we think of home we often recall certain comfort foods or meals that trigger specific memories. I thought it seemed appropriate that food and home are linked. I have also baked a selection of goodies - oreo cupcakes, bacon chocolate cupcakes (SERIOUSLY YUM) and brownies with cranberries and pecans.

The day was a total success, we played the toilet paper bride game, where each time dresses up a 'bride' with toilet paper and sello tape. We also played a hysterical version of mad libs called wed libs and we opened presents. I actually LOVED hosting the shower, even though I am dead tired today. Pictures to follow!

update: No sign of Lulu yet... heart is still breaking here. : (

19 November 2009

Houdini the Amazing Escaping Dog

When I first moved back to Ireland (after moving home to CA to decide if I really wanted to live in Ireland), we had agreed as a couple that we were ready for a dog. I have always been a dog lover and I had wanted a miniature dachshund for sometime. We got our first puppy Oscar in November 2002. Cute, messy, at times total aggressive male we absolutely feel in love with him. But it was clear in my mind that we really needed to get a second dog because despite our lavish attention, Oscar was lonely during the days when we were in work. Plus, I had always wanted a female dog as I had read that female dachshunds had a great disposition. We searched and search and finally decided that a puppy would be too difficult to rear so we found an 'adult' female (she was 18 months when we got her. Originally named Aura, I instantly decided that she looked like a Lulu. Little did we know that Lulu was crazy, 100% certifiable. But nevertheless she is a total sweetheart, super-friendly and very affectionate.

Why am I giving you this background? Well on Monday Lulu went missing. She had run out the front door and the garden gates were open. I was totally overcome with grief. Then the next morning brought good news, the pound had picked her up no more than two streets over about 40 minutes after she left the house. When I went to collect her at the pound, which trust me is no doggy day spa, we both cried with relief. Then yesterday evening the unthinkable happened again. Houdini has disappeared, AGAIN. This time the garden gates were closed and we have no idea how she escaped. A day later I have flooded the pound with phone calls, talked to the DSPCA, my local vets, even put adds on the internet. My fear is that this super-friendly nutty dog will be run over. The most heartbreaking thing is that Cupcake keeps looking at Oscar and asking for Lulu. Then she will occasionally say, Lulu all gone.

Lulu come home! I don't know what I will do without her.

07 November 2009

Back on the bandwagon

The worst thing, the absolute worst thing about having this broken ankle is that I home all the time. I mean like I haven't gone out of this house since last Saturday!!! I have been constantly in the kitchen finding terrible horrible fatty food to devour. I have really fallen off the weight watchers wagon. What is that you say? It might not be as bad as it sounds? No it is really bad, worse even, there is this thing that accompanies me everywhere. I have been thinking of it as the 'blob' but I suppose you might call it my middle section. The reason I am writing this blog post is because I actually need to start holding myself accountable for the food decisions I am making. i.e. I simply cannot use the fact that I can't walk to eat chocolate on an hourly basis. Starting tomorrow I am going to get back to weight watchers, even if I can't go out to attend the meeting I am going to start tracking again.

03 November 2009

Catering for the golfing needs of men...

Oh those men with their ravenous, insatiable golf needs. How can a simple [minded] woman like myself keep up?

What, might you ask, are the golfing needs of men? And how might these golfing 'needs' differ from the golfing needs of women?

The Irish Times has just reported on the outcome of the Equality Authority appeal to the Supreme Court on the case involving the discrimination of women from membership at the Portmarnock Golf Club. The Supreme Court has upheld the decision that the Portmarnock Golf Club is not discriminating against women because it was a 'gentleman's golf club, a golf club for gentleman'. 5 euros says that the two male justices that upheld the district court's previous decision are members of that club.

POPPYCOCK I say!

This makes me want to take up golf and bust my way onto that golf course. Any takers?

The last laugh

While talking to my father this past weekend he started baiting me.

"I thought you had a strict no sugar policy, so how come every time I get a picture of that kid [Cupcake] she is eating ice cream or chocolate?"

"Oh Dad, come on I did my best, she was sugar free for, like, 14 months."

"Yeah you sound just like your mother, she tried that kind of mumbo jumbo with you kids. Ha she even tried to buy you guys gender neutral toys. That was a failed experiment. I had the last laugh, I told her it wouldn't make a difference that you guys would turn out to be whatever sex you were born with."

Oh GOD! Classic case biological determinacy syndrome... "Um Dad, I think you should attend a couple Women's Studies classes, we'd love to have you... really."

When I thought about it afterwards, I did have the last laugh in this conversation! Perhaps one might say the ultimate last laugh goes to my mother... If she hadn't thought that gender neutrality could possibly make a difference in how her two girls and one boy were socialised and more importantly, that gender equality weren't something to strive for maybe I wouldn't have turned out to be so committed and focused on feminism.

01 November 2009

Back to bed

Or perhaps this post should be titled, "Back to my bed". Yes I have made the move back upstairs after three long weeks of sleeping in the kitchen. It has been wonderful to sleep on a decent mattress and not have some wayward spring digging into my back. The only problem now is that I have to plan very carefully when I will descend the stairs and when I will make my way back up, because it takes a lot of effort so I can only manage once a day for each. Now my 'homecoming' wasn't celebrated by all parties. Of course cupcake is overjoyed to have Mama back where she belongs, but there is someone else who put up some unusual resistance. Yes you read that correctly my own husband wasn't so keen on me returning. It seems that Mr. Sprawl has enjoyed his time alone in our bed. Really I can't blame him, with the exception of the annoying spring and sleeping next to my kitchen table, I rather enjoyed the luxury of not having his legs thrown over me in the middle of the night. I suppose he can't help himself, I mean the poor guy is over six feet tall. I don't however think that gives him the right to infringe on my side of the bed! Even when I was 9 months pregnant I would wake up in the dead of night to find his legs thrown over my stomach. So the natural solution to our problem is to get a bigger bed. I was informed the other day that we could buy the bed but when it arrives he would like just a week or so to sleep there by himself! This is what I can't understand, surely I am the delicate party in this matter, therefore my rest and comfort should be of the utmost concern. Unfortunately we have not come to an agreement and I am desperately awaiting the arrival of the new bed. At least I am out of the kitchen, there is nothing like waking up to the smell of last night's tacos...

31 October 2009

It is that time of year...


The days are getting shorter, and rainier. From my kitchen bed I can here a symphony of bottle rockets, m80s and other wonderfully illegal firecrackers. The smell of burning couches, old mattresses and scrap wood from nearby bonfires gently invades the atmosphere, burning the lungs of your average environmentally friendly American. Yes folks, Halloween in Ireland has come again.

This year will be my daughter's first 'real' Halloween. I don't necessarily mean trick or treating but the first Halloween we purchased a costume for her and put up a couple decorations around the house. I had trouble deciding what to dress her up as, firstly because my mother made all of my costumes until I got to a certain age and I had always expected to make Cupcakes. But the ankle/walking situation rules that out so I had to shop online and have something delivered. The selection was fairly limited AND expensive, so I settled on a hairy spider. Mostly because I figured that it would be the only thing she would be remotely familiar with. So in preparation all week we have been singing the itsy bitsy spider while she parades around the kitchen in it. Yesterday was our test run of the costume as we dressed her up for creche. She made the most adorable spider ever! If I had some face paints I would have put a little web or a tiny spider on her cheek. I might make an attempt at dressing up as Frida Kahlo just so cupcake has some company... (Anyone can draw a unibrow right?) Watch this space for more adorable photos.

28 October 2009

Adventures in Showering


Our upstairs shower is not exactly friendly toward those with limited mobility. We have a large bathtub-shower combo. The sides of the bath are approximately 3 feet high and it is quit difficult to swing your legs over when you can't evenly distribute your weight. Thankfully I have a very inventive husband who decided it would be best to place a plastic garden chair in the tub for my showering enjoyment. What we hadn't realised before it's first use was that there were no grips on the chair legs, probably due to the fact that it was indeed, garden furniture. After several minutes of maneuvering, muttering, and a few yelps of pain I was seated in the chair. Then my weight shifted and the chair slid down to the end of the bath. I was in the most uncomfortable position of leaning back in the chair with one leg in the air. Covering my leg was the 'Limbo' devise that my darling other-half kindly purchased for me. It is a plastic cover that is water-tight and keeps the cast perfectly dry. Unfortunately the Limbo that he purchased for me was 44 inches long, one that is meant for people with a full leg cast. So after some dragging on the ground and a near face plant that almost threw me off my crutches we got the brilliant idea to roll the bottom up and clip it with a clothes pin. So resourceful! By the way I am going to have a rocking thigh muscle on my right side after all this brouhaha. Cupcake was a little confused as to what my exact purpose was in the shower but clapped with delight when the shower hose was handed to me and proceeded to wash myself. She couldn't understand why I wasn't able to invite her in (she does love showering) and soon it became evident that both of my family members were thoroughly enjoying the hilariousness of my precarious seating in the shower. I quickly sent them from the room to enjoy some soakage time without an audience. It was perhaps the most wonderful (and wonderfully uncomfortable) shower I have ever had.

Recently someone posted this picture of me on facebook and I'd love to share it with you. It is from my 5th grade trip to Jones Gulch, an environmental camp in the California Coastal mountains, one of my favourite places on earth. I am the one on the far left (your far left) wearing a red sweatshirt, pegged pants and a red bandana in my hair. Proof that even if I was a nerd as a child, at least I wasn't the biggest nerd...

21 October 2009

Bold


Cupcake has a new favourite word. We are not really sure where it came from except we do know that her father said it to her months ago when she was doing something she shouldn't have been.

Imagine this: I am newly installed on my 'kitchen bed', lazing around like Jabba the Hut in Return of the Jedi. Cupcake cautiously approaches Mama and her purple casted leg. She hands me a hair barrette to put in her hair. I am attempting to gather her hair into a neat looking style when she turns and messes up my handiwork. "Darling, you can't move otherwise you will mess up your hair." She turns to me and smacks me lightly on the arm. "Bold, Mama, bold." Husband and I turn to one another with slight incomprehension. Did she just tell Mama she was bold? Where did she learn that word? Oscar was the next target of her annoyance. He was told he was bold, and justifiably so, after he trotted over and stole whatever bread item she was waving around.

I conferred with Nana, who incidentally was similarly puzzled at the appearance of this new word. She had notice Cupcake shouting at the couch in an authoritative fashion, waving her arms and squawking away when she identified she was shouting "Bold, bold!"

Now everything is bold- Mama, Dada, Lulu, Oscar, the table, Mama's bed, the floor, toys, etc. But the worst part is I think it is hysterically funny. Especially when she pairs it with her narrowed eyes "Grandma-Marge-I'll-get-you-later" glare. I do tell her not to hit when she says it and then I ask her why (fill in the blank) is/has been bold. She doesn't really answer that but rather just keeps repeating it like a little parrot.

Now confession time: I have been bold. This broken ankle really got me down last week. I laid around on my kitchen bed with my leg elevated feeling sorry for myself. This week I am trying to change my attitude, after all I have a ton of work to do. Yes this is a weird, random, freak thing that happened to me. And yes I will be spending the bulk of my time at home with my leg elevated. And finally yes it is painful and I have some physio ahead of me. But if I don't stop feeling sorry for myself I will let that attitude infect my whole outlook. I keep saying that when life knocks me down I pick myself back up. Now I have to do just that. I guess cupcake was right, I have been bold!

10 October 2009

You are not going to believe this...

So I know you think that I am terribly patchy with my posting lately but I have a brilliant excuse. I have just been discharged from St. Vincent's Hospital after 3 days with a wonderfully painful broken ankle. I was rushed to ER on Wednesday at noon after breaking my ankle at UCD. It was broken in three places and dislocated. Oh the horrors of it all. I have never broken anything before and this was surely a freak accident. I was simply walking down some stairs and stepped onto my left leg, I then shifted my weight onto my right and stepped on that leg. While standing I heard a crack and I realised, "Oh my God, I just broke my ankle". I then realised it was probably in my best interest to fall to the ground screaming. My ankle was contained by my boots and was at a 70 degree angle from my body (now this is not my foot but actually slightly above my ankle). To make a long story short I had a metal plate and several pins inserted permanently into my ankle and have one big screw to be removed after 8 weeks. Until that time I am not allowed to put any weight on that leg. So I am in effect house bound because my job entails an hour commute on 2 buses in each direction. There is no way I can manage that. I am even tired just coming in from the front room. My new command post has been installed in the corner of the kitchen. Now I can dine and then roll over and sleep. All in one! Ok will fill you in more later, I am in pain now and have to rest.

05 October 2009

My work is never done

On Saturday himself and I were in the Stillorgan Bicycle shop looking at a new bike. I was wandering around with my little pumpkin when I happened across some horrible little car air fresheners, you know the kind with nude women on them. Now I am not a prude, but as a feminist I am fighting for gender equality. So I approached one of the sales associates. "Excuse me but do you actually sell a lot of these? Because as a customer in your store I find them offensive." He didn't really know what to say and mumbled something along the lines of oh yeah well it is the boss that stocks those. "Well tell your boss that this is offensive." I then held up the male counterpart, who was clothed appropriately in baggy swim trunks with a jacket flung over his shoulder. "How come this guy isn't naked?" He looked at me like I had two heads. "I think it is only fair if you are going to have naked women that you have a naked man. Maybe women want to see a penis." At this point the 13 year old assistant fixing a bike in the background laughed and rolled his eyes. "Ha I don't think you would be laughing if this was your mom." Wow that sure shut that kid up.

Later, himself gave out to me because he was slightly embarrassed about the whole thing seeing as he was buying a bicycle. What happened to the customer is always right? Seriously though if we don't continue to challenge these kind of things how is anything ever going to change? Well despite what my other half might have thought I am glad I spoke up, I wasn't embarrassed to point out something that I thought was wrong. Furthermore what kind of role model would I be for my daughter if I didn't practice what I preach?

04 October 2009

Awards...



Many thanks to Mammydiaries and Irish Mammy on the Run. Both of these inspiring women have kindly passed on awards to me. Mammydiaries, my favourite Canadian transplant mom in Cork has her hands full with two feisty little daughters, although from reading her posts closely for the 9 months it is clear to see where they get their spirit from. MD has given me the "I love your blog award' which I am to pass on to 15 (er do I read 15 blogs) other bloggers. Let's see how far we get...

1. I am counting Mammydiaries as 1. (For reasons above) but also because I always loved all of her posts on the Rollercoaster discussion board which I am no longer on because it took up too much of my time. And finally because MD is editing a book and has put huge effort into writing, compiling and putting the finishing touches on women's birthing experiences in Ireland. It has been a monumental task that she has dedicated herself to because she feels that there should be more transparency surrounding birthing and early parenthood experiences. (Wait seriously are you telling me it is not all a bed of roses?)

2. Jen's Rantings - Another Cork-based Mama with two little daughters (I am sensing a trend here), her eldest is the same age as my cupcake and I love reading all their exploits. Jen is both thoughtful and intelligent and pretty hilarious.

3. Irish Mammy - A wonderful mother who has actually managed to get mainly apathetic Irish parents off their asses and into the street to rally around the potential cut to the child benefit. Also I love that she is one half of an Irish/'Foreign' pair and I can see several similarities between my own relationship and experiences of living abroad.

4. Sorry, wrong blog - A blogger near and dear to my heart who hasn't blogged in AGES and I want to hear her witty take on the current state of American politics - so Midge get back on your soap box.

5. Yummy Mammy- how can this woman be so damn witty, sassy and have all of this drama? Well she just can and she manages it with a cool calm that amazes me.

Hmmm... I think that exhausts my lists of blogs that I read regularly. Otherwise I am a bit of a lurker....

Irish Mammy has given me a Meme Award and I am to describe 7 of my personality traits and then pass on to 7 other bloggers.

1. Strong-mindedness : I think this is the single most important thing that I as a mother and feminist can draw upon in my day to day life. It is something that allows me to hold firm in the face of adversity.

2. Strong-mindedness: part two. Or maybe that is stubbornness. This is also my downfall - sometimes I really like being right and I will not listen to others even if I am clearly wrong. Ok well by others I mean my husband.

3. I am crafty: I love making things from scratch. I might not be the best at sewing, knitting, etc but I gain a huge amount of satisfaction when I complete a project. And I love making things for my daughter and my niece. I have always cherished things that people made for me as a child and I really want to pass that tradition on.

4. Disorganised: Oh the clutter. I just can't seem to declutter things and I hate HATE cleaning up. I always make excuses when people come over and see my house but I am telling you now world that I am really and truly a mess.

5. An awesome cook: A shameless plug for my 'chefing' abilities but I am actually really good at this. I chalk it up to two things: 1. My Italian grandmother, Marcelina, spent quite some time teaching me the ropes and 2. My hungry husband - seriously eats like a horse and is the most appreciative eater I know. I call him my best customer.

6. A great talker: Sometimes I will admit, I talk to fill silences - especially in my tutorials. God do I talk. No wonder himself stops listening to me sometimes. Really my family has honed this to an art form. As we say here... I could talk for Ireland.

7. Commitment. I have the best intentions but... I lose interest in things very quickly. I get really excited about ideas but if things are moving fast enough for me or I am just not willing to make a huge effort I will quit or drop out. Examples: Pilates, boring printmaking course, meditation, that course I took at California College of Arts my senior year of college, being sophmore class historian (I mean give me a break what did I really do?), my garden (this comes and goes), my card making endeavours, selling things on ebay... seriously I could go on.

I am probably not going to pass this on... I am so bad about this (see number 7).

01 October 2009

To the world's most wonderful best friend


Today you celebrate your 32nd birthday and I can proudly say that for 30 1/2 years we have been best friends.

Some of your funniest/best moments:

1. Kicking Stacy RPB (I couldn't spell her last name in my diary so I had to improvise) out of your house and our lives for good.

2. Convincing me to run over Judy L's newly planted flowers with my bike.

3. Your flashlight code when we could have just picked up the phone.

4. 'Stop Dancing Duffy' Messing with that painter Puffy Duffy over the intercom system.

5. 'Don't say much'... 'Don't got much to say' Your witty repartee with 'Slim' in Tahoe.

6. Throwing ice cubes in the Midgley's pool and harassing Kelson from your balcony.

7. Raiding the midnight buffet and throwing stolen rolls and biscuits at the people in the hot tub in Alaska on that cruise. (Throwing seems to be a theme here...)

8. Forgiving me for making an ass of myself when I went through that rough time my first year in college. You knew I wasn't myself and you didn't give up on me.

9. All your fun college parties - including doing crazy tequila body shots at some lecturer's house and your great apartment near the pie place in Davis. I loved visiting you there.

10. Always being on the other end of the phone/email when I need to pour my heart out to you. You have never let me down. I wish we lived in the same place, I miss you so much.

OK one more...

11. Seriously for being the smartest, funniest, most beautiful person I know. Oh thanks for having a daughter the same age as mine who will 100% without a doubt be my daughter's best friend because we will make them.




Just Say NO to the Misappropriation of the Female Body


Tomorrow is D Day. At least that is what yes and no campaigners to the Lisbon Treaty would have us believe. As I am not a European citizen I can't vote in European elections. Even so I am continuously bombarded on my way to college by these in your face posters. Let's discuss my most despised at the moment: The Libertas 'Irish Democracy 1916-2009?'. Sorry Declan Ganley but some of us who might know a thing or two about Ireland will agree that Irish democracy didn't start in 1916... But what I really object whole-heartly to the allegorical use of the female child with tears running down her face. Many literary critics have pointed to the blatant use of the female figure in colonial and postcolonial cartoons, literature, etc to symbolise the union of woman and nation. The Punch cartoons in the mid-1800s depicted Hibernian as a helpless young woman in need of saving from Fenians by her older sister, Britannia. Alternatively, W.B. Yeat's play 'Cathleen ni Houlihan' posited Ireland in the guise of an old mother who called her sons to sacrifice their lives for her. And the 'Irish Citizen' a newspaper run by certain members of the women's group Inghinidhe na hÈireann (Daughters of Erin - Maud Gonne was a well known member) represented women gaining their freedom (equality and the right to vote) as Ireland gained its freedom.

So why then am I so enraged at the depiction of this young girl on this poster you may ask? Because I think it smacks of the same patriarchal marlarky that posits woman as passive and helpless. Furthermore I think it underhandly draws upon the no campaign's (as espoused by COIR - rotten to the coir?) beliefs that ratifying Lisbon would cause Ireland to lose the right to life which is enshrined in its Constitution. This poster blatantly uses the body of a young girl and the image of a cloudy sky to depict that our future (and the future of our daughters) might be hazy. (Roland Barthes 'Rhetoric of the Image' anyone?) You know how I feel about that pro-life tripe. After all, let's not let women make decisions for themselves, let's have our Constitution make decisions for them. I wonder whatever happened to the idea of bodily integrity, you know that thing that was ruled as a Constitutional unalienable right. Don't we as women have a right not to have our bodies (or those of our children) used in some political battle? - And seriously shame on the parents of the girl who willing let her be a poster child for a campaign like this. But you want to know what really REALLY bothers me about this poster - is the accusation that the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan made about Libertas' only known financial backer being a London hedge fund. DISTURBING. I think that just brings the image of the woman rendered powerless and misappropriated by different political and patriarchal ideologies full circle. On a similar note has anyone noticed how most of the debates that have taken place have been between male representatives? Where are all the women?

Now stepping off my soap box.

23 September 2009

MIA

I have been missing in action recently due to an upcoming deadline. I realise that makes everything sound so official but really it is my way of saying I am way over extended at the moment. I will hopefully have an interesting post for you sometime this weekend. I just need to get through this weekend...

14 September 2009

Language and Gender

When undertaking my masters in Women's Studies the discussion of essentialism vs social constructionism formed the basis of many discussions. I was all for social construction - meaning in simple terms that gender, as separate from biological sex, is asserted by social conditioning - i.e. a girl must wear pink the instant she is out of the womb so everyone knows she is a girl and will treat her as such.

I have really tried my best to counter this by dressing her in gender neutral and boys clothes (sometimes because they are just so much cooler - seriously who doesn't love blue?) You can imagine my surprise when the other day she pointed at this new music box we inherited from my aunt and said "Girl? Girl?" Now that word, girl, is not high on our list of words. Not because I refuse to use it, I accept that I am bound within the limits of patriarchal language if I want to communicate and be understood by other people. It's just I have been talking about horse and bear and Dora and chair. And I certainly never pointed to the dainty little wind up ballerina and said girl. I have used the word dancer but never told her a dancer is a girl. Where is this all coming from? Perhaps it is the little mirror that the dancer turns in front of, symbolising vanity? Or maybe it is the pink satin interior of the box or the little ruffle of tulle that clings to the dancer's waist? Perhaps himself used the pronoun -"She" when referring to the ballerina. I am finding all of this totally amazing and puzzling.

11 September 2009

If at first you don't succeed?

I was notified that I did not receive that scholarship I applied for in June. When I wrote that first line, yesterday, I was so upset I thought I would have a mental breakdown. You see sometimes it doesn't matter how much you want something, how dedicated you are, how positive and optimistic, or even how smart you are or wonderful your idea is. Sometimes when it comes to competition there is just someone who is better. A scholarship at this level is like gold; it helps you on your way, makes people stand up and take notice and importantly, buttresses the validity of your research.

I went and picked my daughter up from creche, I saw the pure joy on her face when she realised that I was there to collect her. Unconditional love. That is what they call it right? To her it doesn't matter that mommy has tried unsuccessfully for four different scholarships. She doesn't care if I theorise out my ass about contemporary Irish art. All that matters to her is that I am her mommy and that I love her. Remember that childhood innocence? That feeling of security you had when you knew that everything you needed in the world was your family? I think I need to revisit that and draw strength from those memories and from my current support system. I told someone today that I am a pessimist. This is not entirely true. If I was a pessimist I would have quit this whole academic life three years ago. But each time I get knocked down I tell myself this is what I really want and I will stop at nothing to get it. I suppose the lesson to be learned from this is that life might not be fair but I have to keep on chipping away at the things I want. Oh and I am incredibly stubborn.

I guess it is time to get back to work.

08 September 2009

And so begins my academic career...

Published. Yes one of the greatest words in an emerging academic's life. 

While on holidays I was notified that an article I submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal was accepted for publication. I cannot tell you the excitement that has kept me on a permanent high for the last two weeks since I found out. One of the reviewers suggested a few changes to make the article more theoretically sound, which I whole-heartedly understand and appreciate. After all this is my first publication and I want to make it a good one. It won't be a problem, I thought to myself, that is until I realised that one of the things I needed to do was discuss feminist deconstruction. Not exactly the piece of cake I expected, especially considering that I am not really even familiar with Derrida, much less the feminists critics that employ deconstruction (well aside from Judith Butler, but can anyone really ever understand her?) I have spent my last few days frantically reading, mentally scrambling for something that will fit the bill and not seem like a last minute addition. The only thing that I have managed to pinpoint is precisely what deconstruction is not - i.e. a critique, a method, an analysis. Whoever said editing was the hardest part was not kidding. Here's to hoping I make my two week deadline... glup.

04 September 2009

The Month of Mama

For the last month Cupcake and I have had an intense closeness. By this I mean an emotional as well as a physical proximity to one another. It started harmless enough, in the mornings she would call out "Mama? Mama?" The first few mornings I thought, "It is nice to be needed" and I smilingly went to pick her up out of her crib. Then bed time routines evolved to only Mama reading her a story, singing our "Nana Baby" song (a lullaby made up by my Grandma Marcelina) and finally putting her to bed by stroking her face or tracing circles on her chest. Occasionally I would say to my husband, "Oh leave this to the expert." 

This was all well and fine until we went on holidays and four new teeth blossomed. 

Then this loving, cuddly relationship morphed into Mama waking up several times a night to soothe a cranky baby because she didn't want Dada. "NO Dada" was a phrase we heard over and over as she screamed for "MAMA". In order to get some sleep I then started to bring her into our bed to cuddle when she woke up at 5 am and wouldn't settle in her own bed. But what was really getting to me was that during this time by semi-pulled shoulder injury returned and hours of rocking, bending and lifting did not seem as therapeutic for me as they did for her. Then she decided we should relive our breastfeeding closeness and she would sleep lying on top of my chest. I have big boobs but they are not made to support a 26 lb child. Since when did Mama become so cool? I will have to remind her of this during her teenage years, but for now I need to figure out how to get Dada back in the picture so I can get some rest.

03 September 2009

Tales from California






The trip home to visit my family was an action-packed adventure. Keeping in mind that my parents had not seen the little one since Christmas, we were hoping to spend quality time with them. First we spent several days at home; we went to my Aunt's house for a swim party (I guess it is what all the cool kids are doing these days- at least those with pools!) and my closest friends came over for a BBQ. It was great to see all the girls and the girl's girls. I was especially envious that my best friend has taught her daughter to kiss her fingertips in a dramatic flourish after finishing a meal when she says, "Magnifique!"

We went to Yosemite on the Wednesday and spent two nights in the tent cabins at Camp Curry. This is where the real adventures began. The first night saw an encounter with a small mouse in the little one's portacrib. I was surprisingly calm as I flipped on the light and this little furry rodent darted around her bed like it was on speed. I even kept my cool when through my drunken haze I heard a bear clawing frantically at our bear locker, which by the way I had only previously stashed Cupcake's cheerios in five minutes earlier. My sister and I hiked to the top of Vernal Falls after everyone else whimped out in the 95 degree heat. We also celebrated anything and everything with copious amounts of food and alcohol at the Awahanee Hotel, after which my husband, sister and I drank three bottles of wine in the back of my dad's pick-up truck. Real classy.

After driving through Tioga Pass at an elevation of 10,000 ft, we made a long four hour journey up through California and Nevada before arriving at my parents' cabin in South Lake Tahoe. The showers were a welcome sight for all of us, especially my darling dirt-encrusted daughter. Dad quickly tacked up the hammock and soon we were vying for our favourite napping spots. A surprise to all of us was the 10 year old boat that my father bought on our fifth day there. He had been talking about it for years but no one every believed that day would come. Nono (spelled incorrectly for you Italian buffs) decided it was proper order to name it after his most cherished, no not yours truly, but his beloved Cupcake. Our new watercraft will proudly bear the name, Nono's girl. In fact Nono's girl was the first to drive it aside from our new captain.

Time went by quickly and before we knew it our vacation had come to an end. As I sat in the front seat of my mom's car, my hand resting on the door handle, for the first time I felt as if I didn't have the strength to get out. I thought to myself, "I can't do this anymore, I can't say goodbye to my family again." Watching my mom take a private moment to say goodbye to her sleeping granddaughter broke me. I am not a carefree twenty-something, I want my child to spend more than two weeks every 10 months with her grandparents. I want to move home.



31 August 2009

I am back and mad as hell

Hello blog land. I have returned from my two week hiatus and I have tons of stuff to write. But first let me start with the very last thing. About 7 hours into our 11 hour plane journey home my darling husband turns to me and says, "Well, I have waited to tell you this but there is some bad news." My stomach dropped. "Remember when my mom texted in Yosemite?Someone smashed the back side window of our car." WHAT???!!! At this stage of the flight I was so tired and upset about leaving my parents that I didn't really process exact what that meant. Then it dawned on me, just before we left I went to renew our car insurance as I get a better rate now that I have my full Irish license. Darling husband told me to hold off until we get back so we could shop around. When we got home the entire plastic covering around the steering column had been removed. Another Eureka moment. SOME SCUMBAG TRIED TO STEAL OUR CAR! I'll admit once in a blue moon we get the occasional joyrider around the neighborhood but seriously I never expected this! Himself is now off to the Honda dealership to find out the cost of this failed adventure.

I'll post pictures later on after I calm down. Of my trip, not the car.

07 August 2009

One Week

I am anxiously awaiting next Friday. I am going home for the trip I have been looking forward to all year since Christmas, our last visit home. Allow me, for a moment, to tell you about all the wonderful things we will be doing. 

Friday: Arrive home and hug parents. Watch parents cry when they see Cupcake. Eat tacos.
Saturday: BBQ at my aunt's house, beer for mommy and daddy, swimming for Cupcake.
Sunday: BBQ for all my friends at my parents house. 
Monday: Visit 89 year old Uncle Cas and Go to Berkeley, eat pizza at Zachary's
Tuesday: Undecided, Eat tacos.
Wed- Friday: Yosemite with parents and sister
Friday- Saturday (week): Go to Lake Tahoe and hang out at family cabin, hike, swim, BBQ, sleep in hammock if we can get it away from dad, watch DVDs, play Rummy and Gin, possibly go to Virginia City so husband can experience the Bucket of Blood Saloon, eat ice cream at Snowflake Lodge, drink Rum Runners at Camp Richardson Beach.
Friday Night: Celebrate 5th wedding anniversary with love of my life.
Sunday: Leave for Ireland, cry eyes out. Cue parents crying eyes out. 

Let the good times roll!


06 August 2009

This house stinks

This household is having some bad breath issues. As I sit here on my sofa with my loyal dogs by my side I can't escape from this terrible smell. Today I tried, for the first time in a LONG time, to clean their teeth. They didn't mind it so much, I mean to say Lulu the most loving and loyal dog in the world didn't mind it and even tried to lick the poultry flavoured toothpaste out of Oscar's clamped jaws. Oscar, as usual was being his stubborn self and legged it back into the house when I called him to me. There is nothing worse than dog breath. The vet has been called and after I get over the shock of the cost for cleaning both of their teeth -(160 euro) I will ring back straight away to book in an appointment. The things we do for love.