Dublin Days

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Cup of Ambition

I'm not the sort of person who owns a lot of videos (I don't really see the point because once you've watched something once, why have it hanging around cluttering the place up?). However, I do own this on DVD, because it's simply my favorite movie. And I watched it today, for the trillionth time, and it's still brilliant. And anyhow, how can you not love Dolly Parton?

Please go out and rent it tonight. The world will be a happier place if you do. But if you simply can't wait that long, check this out...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I got the question...so now ya'll can sit back and listen to my long winded answer

Well, I finally got "the question" last week when I was out for dinner with people from work.

"But...you're not still breastfeeding him, right?"

The look on my face must have answered her question, but she followed it up with this smart remark:

"But only a little, right?"

Again, my face answered that one, too. But I did offer the response, "Well, is 3 or 4 times a day 'a little' ?" I guess not, but that was enough to drop the subject, despite a few bottles of wine being consumed already.

The whole thing about breastfeeding, and how long a mother breastfeeds is such a loaded conversation. Even though I feel so passionate about it and sure of my decision to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed, I still get all worked up when I see or hear people's reluctance about it. And it's not just about folks "doing what's right for them." I really think the whole question comes back to how we see ourselves as women, and what we see as our roles at home and in the world. And it really brings into focus the whole question of us "having it all."

One thing I've learned about successful and fulfilling breastfeeding is that you have to give yourself completely over to motherhood. Not forever, but for a while. Those first few months are all about feeding your baby, and learning to understand how he or she is communicating his/her needs. Trying to do that successfully while keeping the house clean, meals cooked and guests entertained ('cause you know folks LOVE to stop by just after you've had a baby and are more in need of rest than ever before in your life) is IMPOSSIBLE. Throw in holding down a job outside of home and you're setting yourself up for serious let down (and I'm not talking about tingly milk let down!). This idea of giving yourself completely to caring for your baby seems scary (I remember thinking in those early days "Oh my god, what have I done? I will never go out for a cappuccino again??!?!! How will I ever get my haircut?!?!?!). But it doesn't last forever; in fact, that time with a tiny baby is so short and sweet we need to cherish every minute of it.

Another thing I've realized is that breastfeeding women need support, and I ain't talkin' about a good bra. We need to talk to other women breastfeeding their babies, and we need to draw on their knowledge and experience. We need to be reassured that yes, our babies ARE getting enough to eat, even though we can't see and keep an account of how many ounces they've downed. And we need to be able to vent our feelings and frustrations without being told how easy life would be if we'd "just give that baby a bottle."

Now, before you get your knickers in a twist and think that I'm calling you a bad mother because you didn't breastfeed, or you had to return to work when your baby was still young or breastfeeding didn't work out for you...chill. I don't think that. I think all mothers love their children wholly and completely. What I do want you to think about is how you respond to the next mother you see who is breastfeeding her baby, or her toddler...or her 4 year old. She's doing it because she believes in it and she knows what's best for her child. So give her a smile, or even a word of encouragement. She's doing her child a favor, and the world a favor by that act of giving.

So there...I'm sure there may be someone out there pissed off at what I've said, but fuck it (excuse me Mom, if you're reading this, but you know my language has gone to heck since I moved to Ireland). You're all welcome to comment and tell me to go to hell (all 5 of you that read this).

This is what I've learned and this is what I believe. I've graduated from feminist to activist to lactivist!

Baby Siofra takes a sip of the good stuff

Monday, March 26, 2007

Decorate the Patch

Freak out!

We had to take Siofra to the doctor last week after her playschool teacher noticed that there was something wrong with her eye. While they were doing circle time, Siofra's right eye drifted off to the side, while the left one kept on looking at the teacher! She rubbed her eye and it went back after a few seconds. I was kind of freaked out, but as it turns out it's "not uncommon." Our doctor took a look at her but her eyes were fine and centered. As I've never noticed this before, and the teacher has only seen it once, he recommended that we just keep an eye on it for the next year. It may resolve itself, but if it becomes a regular occurance, she would wear a patch on her good eye to strengthen the muscles in the other one.

My niece Dr. Brie wore a patch when she was young, and she turned out good, so I'm feeling more reassured about it all. Her patches were stick on, and my sister had to decorate the patch with markers every morning so that it coordinated with her outfit. When I first contemplated Siofra wearing a patch, I actually thought, "Jesus Christ, am I going to have to be drawing flowers, polka dots or hearts on a frickin' patch every morning so Siofra feels positive about her eyes? I can hardly find time to get showered and sweep up the rice crispies off the floor, how am I going to manage an art project, too?"

But I guess you find time to do this stuff when you love your kids, huh?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Recipe Time

I made this Sheperd's Pie tonight and let me tell you it was goooooood. I used this stuff called Quorn mince, a vegetarian ground beef substitute. I don't know if that brand is available in the U.S., but I believe Morningstar Farms does a good version. I suppose that soaked TVP granules would work, too, but they may not have the best texture. Of course, if you're a meat eater you could use mince (ground beef). But you don't really want to do that, do you?

Vegetarian Shepard's Pie

what you need:

1 red onion, minced
2 carrots, diced
8 small mushrooms, chopped
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 package Quorn mince
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp tamari (or regular soy sauce, if you don't have tamari)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sugar
2 large sweet potatoes
3 potatoes (or an equal amount to the sweet potatoes)
3 medium parsnips
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
salt and pepper

what to do:

Heat about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the red onion, cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Then add carrot and red pepper, cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Add the Quorn mince and stir.
Add the can of tomatoes, stir.
Add the water, the sugar and the tamari. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn't stick or get too dry. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut up the sweet potatoes, the regular potatoes and the parsnips into similar sized chunks. Boil a pan of water and add both kinds of potatoes. After about 10 minutes add the parsnips. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, until all the vegetables are tender. Drain, add the butter and milk and mash. Add a little bit of salt.

Spoon the Quorn mixture into an oven proof dish. Top with the mash, spreading it out, and then flicking it up with a fork. If you were feeling crazy you could make a creative design on the top of the pie. But I'll leave that up to you. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is starting to brown. You may want to finish it under the grill/broiler to brown the top.

We had this with warm beets and a salad. The kids love it; in fact, Paddy ate more of it than I did! This made enough for two dinners for the four of us (2 adults, 2 little kids). It freezes well, too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Patrick's Day!

We celebrated by watching the Dublin parade along with 650,000 other people...and it was great to see Ireland's new found interculturalism reflected in the Paddy's Day festivities. A great day!

One of the many floats...

The Sikhs are enjoying the day...

And so are the Africans...

These Texan ladies kind of freaked me out...

And what kind of a party would it be without the musical stylings of Sticky Digit??

It was a great day in Dublin. A great day to celebrate Ireland; an Ireland that is constantly changing and evolving. A new Ireland that understands its history, can be proud of its place and influence in the world and welcomes people from around the world to come and contribute to life here. Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

City Kids

I love living in the city.

And raising kids in the city is something we feel good about, even though there are drawbacks. Like, we don't have a garden (that's a "yard" to the Americanos). And we live in an apartment. And sometimes it's noisy (but not too much). However, for us, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Neither of us have ever had to travel more than 15 minutes (cycling, or by train, 25 minutes walking) to work. In a city where more and more people are commuting 2 hours or more EACH WAY into town to their job, this is a serious bonus. We don't have a car, which may seem like a drawback. But when you consider that a parking place in our building's underground carpark cost 25,000 euro (that's about $30,000) and that the traffic in Dublin is a total nightmare, being car-free is the biz (not to mention all the carbon emissions we're not spewing out).

But by far, the best thing about living in the city is PARKS.

We go to a park every day that it's not raining (and we have gone when it was raining a couple of times because I was so desperate to get out of the apartment). We are so lucky to have 5 beautiful parks within walking distance, the closest being a 2 minute walk from our building. I love the communal aspect to parks; I love that all kinds of people-kids, parents, teenagers, older people-use the park TOGETHER. I love that Siofra has to wait her turn on the slide, and ask another child if she can join in on the round-about. I love that I've met parents from all over Ireland, Russia, Poland, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austrailia, England and Latvia in the little park down the street.

One of the parks near us was recently refurbished, and had two amazing playgrounds installed (thank you Dublin City Council!! Thank you Daithi!). It opened today and we went down to check it out. Siofra had a great time (Paddy slept through most of the action) and there was a great feeling of community and enthusiasm there. I think we'll be seeing a lot of it as the weather improves.

Hooray for parks.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

To Be a Girl

Happy International Women's Day!

I took the opportunity to reflect on the little woman in our house...and on some of her stranger antics of late. Namely, her obsession with all things pink. Not that I have anything against pink, and she looks really cute in pink. But the other day we were discussing getting her some new shoes and she said, "I want pink shoes...because I'm a girl." My feminist alarm bells began to sound. And then she continued, "And Paddy will have black shoes because he's a boy and you'll have pink shoes because you're a girl and Daddy will have black shoes because he's a boy." The bells are ringing, clanging, but I'm trying to keep cool because I'm sure that if I over react now she'll end up in a Miss Ireland/Miss America pageant in 15 years or something. Which would be my worst nightmare (aside from either of them joining the CIA).

"But, Daddy wears pink shirts, and he looks great in them!" I chirped. But she wasn't seeing things my way. "PINK IS FOR GIRLS AND I'M A GIRL." And this "pink for girls" talk has continued for the past few days. Where is it coming from???? It's certainly not from me or Daithi. She likes dolls and tea parties, but she likes trucks, too. And the only "Barbie" she has is this one from Dubai, which could be the subject of a whole other discussion on oppression and liberation. (maybe another day, another post).

She's almost three, and the world has already gotten to her and told her what is expected of her, what her possibilities are, what it is to be a girl. I knew it would happen someday, but I thought she'd have more time.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sorted, I think

Well, it seems like Blogger has finally sorted out whatever problem I was having. I guess all the Irish and British users were experiencing this; sorry those of you who tried to leave comments on my blog. It only took them 5 frickin' days to figure it out. As they say in Dublin, it was "wreckin' me head!" But hopefully now it's solved.

Not that much has happened in the past few days that I need to report. We had a fun night out for Dee's birthday, we attended the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, which was interesting and fun, as usual, and on Sunday we got the train to the 'burbs to visit our old neighbors (neighbours, I mean) who fled the inner city and now have a house with a garden. It was a good weekend.

I had to go to the dentist today to have a filling replaced, and this caused me much anxiety. I hadn't actually been to the dentist in a shamefully long time, since I gave up going to my old one in MI when we were back visiting. But I had a tooth that made me shutter every time I drank something cold, or even when the wind got to it (and you know I have a big mouth so this happens regularly) so I knew something was up. He was a nice guy, and I was reassured that he had a nice, modern office and high tech equipment. He made everything sound easy-peasy two weeks ago at my consultation visit, but this morning, before the actual treatment, I was filled with dread. I tried to reassure myself that if I can give birth twice without any pain relief I can surely survive a filling with loads of anesthetic. But I was pretty much freakin'. Probably due to a traumatic dental experience when I was 3, but that's another story for another day. Anyhow, he was not entertaining my nerves and basically told me that I needed to trust that he wasn't going to let me feel pain. And, I actually didn't feel anything. My jaw is sore now, and my throat is a bit sore for some reason, but my tooth feels fine and, boy, I'm glad that's over.

Maybe I'll even start flossing.