Archive for the ‘Irish Culture’ Category

Halloween 2011

Halloween is always a big deal with us. We love to decorate and always have a big party Halloween night. We invite all of our friends and their kids over for dinner and trick or treating. Last year, we had such a big group, we had to split into two groups of about 20 each. Then we go back to the house for pizza for the kids and homemade chili for the adults. We also always put out these huge inflatable decorations. We have done this since we lived in L.A. and they have changed through the year, as the inflatables only last about 5 years. But one has lasted from the beginning…..a big purple spider that has a light in it that
makes it glow on and off. We usually hang it off the side of the house, like its crawling up the side trying to get in. Good stuff. I even had a friend tell me that someone she knows, who doesn’t know me, asked her “What’s up with that house on your corner? They always do the balloons for Halloween and there are none out yet. I want my balloons! We look forward to driving by every year.”. I loved that.

So as Halloween approached, I started to ask people what Halloween was like in Dublin. Was it a big deal or kind of a non-event. The answers varied wildly depending on who you ask. The Irish would say, Oh, its huge, a big deal. The Americans living in Dublin would say, Ehh, not so much. I started to realize that it was all relative. The Irish felt like it was huge, because it has
become bigger in years past, basically because of the influence of American culture through tv and movies. But compared to how it is at home, with whole Halloween stores popping up and pumpkin patches all over, it just isn’t a big deal. I even had a hard time finding kid costumes. Several places had them, but the selection was very limited and the same at each place. Basically, the boys
could be vampires and the girls could be witches. (Unless you were an adult….there was a plethora of slutty adult costumes. Apparently, it’s a bigger holiday for getting drunk and making bad decisions, dressed as a slutty nurse or convict.) I finally found a fancy dress store on the outskirts of Dublin. They called costumes “fancy dress”. John’s client suggested that they should throw a fancy dress party and he got very concerned, until he figured out the translation. Anyway, at the fancy dress store, I did find the only Spiderman costume that I had seen in six places, for Lincoln. It was €35. That’s over $50. Then Sophie’s only choice really was a cute red and black witch costume, which I knew she’s be okay with because it was labelled “teen”. So it wasn’t even on her radar as a choice (she wanted to be Sharpe from High School Musical) But she was sold on the teen part. John John wanted to be a ninja for the second year running. This store had the only ninja costume I had seen. But it was an adult. Medium. I bought it. I figured he could just wear the top and I would cut the sleeves. All in all I was out about $120. Yikes. For crappy nylon drugstore-style costumes. But the kids were happy, so I was happy.

I was already uncertain about how good of a neighbourhood ours would be for trick-or-treating, since its pretty busy and right in town. Then the flood happened. By Halloween, the majority of our street had been forced to move out while their homes were gutted. Each house had a construction skip in front of it. Frantic to keep the Halloween ball rolling, I threw myself on the mercy of
an American Women’s group that have kids, on Facebook. Several people immediately offered for us to come over and go trick-or-treating with them. I took Mimi up on her offer, as I had just been to her house for a trunk show and had noticed how kid friendly her neighbourhood was. Come Halloween night, we headed over there for the goods, with the original Mimi (my mom) and Grumpy (my dad) in tow, who were in town to visit. It was a huge hit! Almost every house was decked to the nines in Halloween gear and even the adults were often dressed up. Kids all over running from house to house. It looked like a scene from a movie. I was so relieved. I know it sounds stupid, but part of uprooting your whole family to a new country it helping them feel comfortable in the new place. Everything is already new and every day they are trying new things and expanding their lives. So, sometimes, they just want something familiar. And I want to give that to them. I had wanted it to be a big hit with the kids. And
it was. But that night, as I tucked them in, Sophie got teary eyed. When I asked her what was wrong, she said “I don’t know. It was fun. It was just different. I missed everyone…..”. I know exactly how she feels. It is fun. ButI just miss everyone.

November 24, 2011 - Posted by gothamfamily

view to the flooded basement, down the stairs

It rains a lot in Dublin. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. That’s true of all of Ireland, hence the reason it is so green all year round. The Emerald Isle. Or as my 8-year thought it was called, The Emerald Eye. So, it wasn’t a big deal at first when it rained constantly throughout a recent Sunday and then into Monday. Granted the rain was heavier than normal. The rain is normally light, even if it is constant. Come Monday night, I had decided to make a really great dinner, partly to combat the rain emotionally and partly because I knew John had had a rough day. He texted me and said that it sounded so good, could he invite a co-worker and his wife, who live only a few blocks from us. No problem. But this would require placemats and hand towels in the guest bath. For some reason, Sophie had been playing with the towels down in the playroom, so I sent her down there to retrieve them. This was about 7. John and friends arrived and dinner ensued. Towards the end, John excused himself to the restroom. He quickly returned and announced, “there’s water flowing in under the door from the outside and its going down the stairs into the basement. It’s all flooded.” In about 45 minutes. We go look….sure enough, the whole basement was covered in about six inches of water. As the night wore on, the water keep rising. The rain kept falling, the sewer drains backed up, the tide rose to high and the Dodder River, which runs behind our house, breached its banks. Now, before this night I didn’t even know the river’s name and would have thought it rather grand to even call it a river. It was more of a creek in my mind. It showed me. The basement filled with water to the ceiling, then came up the stairs to the next landing. The tv room at the back of the house flooded, with water spewing in from one of the glass doors’ seals that was not able to hold. But we did watch the water rise outside all the glass for several hours before it started coming in. I rose from the sunken tv room into the kitchen finally, reaching about 3-4 inches high. High enough to disable all the appliances. The other distressing thing was that all the home’s utilities were located in the basement. Water heater, which also provides the heat for the radiators, the controls for everything. While this was a HUGE bummer, it turns out we were lucky.

Flooded kitchen & family room

Friends one house over were flooded up to their kitchen counters and now have had to move into a small sublet for several months. With a 3 year old and 2-year old twins. They had only been in the house a month when this happened. Another stroke of luck for us was that our landlord, who lives right next door, was ON it. He had the insurance people and the workers at our home at 9am the day after the flood, assessing the damage and pumping out the water. The last time this happened in Ballsbridge (our hood) was over 30 years ago and was much worse. But it certainly made me feel lucky. Lucky to have a great landlord and lucky that we didn’t own this house. It’s kind of great to be able to call someone else to sort it all out. Now, does anyone know where I can get a used ark cheap? You know….just in case.

- Posted by gothamfamily

In case you haven’t noticed, John snuck in a post the other day. But he wanted to keep it on the DL so he made a separate tab. Look for “John’s posts” on the top of the home page. Now I have outed him.


John gettin' ready to bog snorkel



Our latest Ireland adventure involved bog snorkelling, which is exactly what it sounds like. Someone got an idea a few years ago to start this competition as a way to promote tourism in County Meath. Now we had the 3rd annual Irish Bog Snorkeling Championships. It sounded utterly pointless and ridiculous. So of course, I convinced John that we had to go and he had to participate. Not a hard sell. We packed the kids into the car the next Saturday and headed inland towards Meath. The bog itself was really more of a trench, but why quibble? There was a bouncy house for the kids, beer for the adults and grilled hamburgers for all. Who wouldn’t like that?


The Bog








Each person swims individually with their efforts being timed and then compared to other in their group. The groups were men, women and youth. John was set to swim about 12th out of all the men scheduled. He was the only one to not swim in a wetsuit. After his turn he was in the lead! And he stayed there until the bitter end, only to be usurped by the German bog snorkelling champ and last year’s Irish 1st and 2nd place. For about a week after, he kept lamenting that if he had known he was a contender, he would’ve put more effort into it. He had just not wanted to make a fool of himself. So, now we are in training for next year! While I was stoked when he was winning, I was glad that the last few people knocked him out of place. It was already 5:30, with an hour ride back to Dublin and the “awards ceremony” wasn’t until 9pm that night at some Meath pub.( I don’t have any pics of John actually in the bog, as I was totally focused on filming the video, which I will upload here.) On the way home, we saw the most amazing, brilliant rainbow. When we pulled over to really gape at it, as second, lighter rainbow appeared and made a double rainbow.

Another weekend, we decided to head to Glendalough (pronounced Glen-da-lock). It’s a picturesque area in the mountains that has some famous ruins. When we left Dublin, it was raining. But if you let rain in Ireland keep you home, you’ll never leave the house. So we pressed on. By the time we got there, it was torrential, with no signs of stopping. After waiting a bit, we drove off the main drag and ate our picnic lunch in the car. We parked in front of a much smaller set of ruins. After eating, the kids decided to get out and tromp around, rain be damned. John got a picture of Sophie that should be submitted to the tourism board, “come visit our ruins!”. Ha!

Sophie "enjoying" the ruins


Headed away we noticed a dirt road that no one without a 4-wheeled drive would attempt. So, we headed down it. It was good and bumpy and great fun until the road literally ended into a hiking path. So, we headed back. But happy to have an adventure even in the rain and certainly one we wouldn’t have had sitting at home on the Ikea couch.

September 20, 2011 - Posted by gothamfamily