Monday, 28 February 2011

I'm am free!

This is going to be a very personal post. This is also going to contain some information about me that some of you may or may not know about.  As I mentioned in my first post, please do not judge me.

I have had my last cigarette!!!!! I am free from the horrible habit. I have been smoking off and on for the last 10 years. Some years were better then others. I have made countless promises to my husband to quit smoking. "I'll quit when we get married. I'll quit before our honeymoon. I'll quit when we have our baby" I did quit when I found out I was pregnant and never wanted a cigarette the whole time I was pregnant and didn't even think of them when we got home from the hospital. However that only lasted 4 months and I started smoking again. Never around my baby and never while she was awake. The guilt has tortured me. I have always told myself I would quit tomorrow or next week, but when it came down to it, I got scared and stressed about it and would start more fervently then ever. I then promised I would quit before we moved to Ireland cause the cigarettes taste different and we wouldn't have any money. I brought two American packs with me and blew through those in about 2 weeks because of all the stress. Then I had to start borrowing money from my brother-in-law to help pay for the habit. But it was him that helped me quit. See he too had been a smoker, but his boss gave him a book by Allen Carr "Easy Way To Stop Smoking" It worked for him and he hasn't looked back since. He got the book for me and I started to read it a few chapters a day, but then it came down to making the decision I just couldn't do it. "I'll finish it next week after this last pack." Well there was never a last pack. I just couldn't do it.
I have made the decision tonight and finished the book and had my last cigarette.I am no longer going to need the crutch of the "nicotine monster". Allen Carr was a 100 a day smoker and could never quit. He quit using his method and has never looked back. The book has sold nine million copies and has countless  testimonials. What he tells you is that you have nothing to fear about smoking, but the complete opposite, you have so much to gain. He runs through the different types of smokers and the different ways people can quit. The willpower method doesn't work, cause you just tell yourself that you are depriving or sacrificing, but what that does is tell your brain that you really want it. Also using the patches, gum or any other nicotine filled step down drug doesn't work either because you are still feeding the monster inside you. What you get is freedom and all the reasons people smoke in the first place (social occasion, stress, boredom) you will only be able to handle better as a non-smoker. (I know many of you wouldn't say it, but please no "well we've know this all along" comments.) Quiting smoking is not quiting a nicotine habit, but beating the psychological monster in your brain. I have vowed to myself that I've had the last cigarette and so will it be.

 Why am I telling you all this? If you didn't know I smoked I could have happily hid this from you and not felt the guilty about what I was doing, especially to all my church friends. I am telling you this cause this is a very big day for me and my life. I am very proud of what I have decided tonight and I know I will be proud the rest of my life for making this choice. I am also telling you because I feel it will make me more accountable and I can reread this post whenever I am feeling down and remind myself about how wonderful I felt the moment I put out my last cigarette. To be honest my feelings are very all over the place. I feel like I could cry I am so excited/anxious and happy. I know I can do this. I am a stubborn individual when I want to be. I am not making this choice for anyone else but myself. I am tired of feeling ashamed of smoking or hiding it from people. I want to start feeling better not only physically but mentally.I want to feel better about myself and about who I am. I am ready to start a new life not only here in Ireland but as a non-smoker.

Thank you all for reading this. I hope you are as proud of me as I am!

oíche mhaith

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A whole mess of things

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, there really hasn't been much going on. Well, enough to write about so I'll give a brief overview of what's been going on. O is on a walk with the grandparents so I get a nice quiet Saturday morning to myself for a wee bit.

We are still working on the temper and that battle of the wills with Miss O, but she at least has started saying "daddy" again. In fact it's the cutest thing as she follows R around like a puppy dog saying "daddy" over and over again. She loves her mommy, but when it comes to getting attention she seeks his approval all the time. If she does anything funny she'll stop and wait for him to notice her and then continue on.

During the last week we've all be fighting the cold. Runny noses and coughs have been the theme of the week. O has been pretty good with it, just a wee bit more clingy and grumpy then normal, but other than that it's been good. She probably handled it better then her daddy (just kidding hunny). He had it the worst I think out of all of us. The cold came from the mother-toddler group I'm sure of. I am dying to go in there with a big packet of bleach wipes and wipe every down. That is one thing I miss a lot is the disinfecting wipes. You don't see them out like you would in New England. Didn't realize how much of a germaphobe I was until you can't keep things out of your kids mouth. I swear every kid in the group has a runny nose which makes it worse. At least she hasn't gotten anything major or gross yet (knock on wood) and I'm building up her immune system, well I keep telling myself that.
You will be glad to know too that we've made headway with the mothers at the group. They have started including me in some conversations and I even had the guts to ask them all their names again since they all seemed to know mine. I found out that some of them aren't even mothers, but just child-minders that bring the kids they watch during the day to play with other kids. It seems that the popular thing to do in this area is to leave your kid with what we could call a daycare, but there are only 2-3 kids max at the house. Seems like a good idea.
What else has happened this week........Oh,R and I went out with our friend C and his brother K. We went to Mary's (another bar in Magherafelt). I don't know if I've mentioned this bar before, but it's an older crowd. Most of the people are in their early 30's and 40's. Mary's is more like a meat market then a club, but it has a good DJ and a nice dance floor. When we got there, no one was on the dance floor, so the 4 us took the middle and started dancing. Within 5 minutes the floor was packed. Nothing like being the brave ones to start the dancing to make you feel good. However, it got so crowded that we ended up leaving early cause we couldn't even move. I have learned something that is very important, never ever make eye contact with men around the edges of the dance floor. As soon as you do they take the opportunity to try and make conversation with you. I seem to attract men in their late 40's. I usually can't understand anything they are saying, but I have found the perfect out for talking to them. The conversation usually goes like this:
Man:"Hi, how are you? Having fun?"
Me: "Yes, it's fun to be out."
Man: "Where you from?"
Me: "America."
Man: "What part?"
Me: "Maine" They of course have no idea where that is. They usually ask "Canada?" I ask if they know where Boston is, then tell them 2 hours north.
Man: "Why are you over here?" I found that most people want to move to America and find it odd that I've moved out to the country when I could have lived in America.
Me: "Because of my husband and daughter"
This is when they smile at me and tell me to have a nice night. It works every time. R however usually gets the girl that is really drunk and leans in just a little too close. One even used the pick up line of "Have you been in a film? Oh no, well you look like should be" I thought men only used that line. It was funny.

Now that I've started writing again, I have more to talk about then I thought. Next time I'll discuss the joys of knowing the dates for a return visit to Maine. Right now I'm going to read a book I got from the library in Maghera. Its a very small library, but seems to cater to books for women, so I'll have a good choice of books. Then I'm going to get ready for date night with my husband. Hopefully we'll go to Belfast to see his movie. We're going to see Drive Angry 3D. Nothing like guns and fast old cars to make a romantic night, and I'm not joking. If you know the two of us, this will make complete sense.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

oíche mhaith

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Battle of the Wills

It has been an uneventful week except for Ms. O and her temper. They say babies hit their terrible two's, well we've hit terrible one and a half. O has been testing her limits to the extreme. If she doesn't want to do something, she fusses and fights you off. If you still insist on her doing something she doesn't want, for example a nappie change, then it's cries and tears that can be heard all over the house. Today's incident was me trying to clip her finger nails. We were in her room hanging out and I decided that since she was in a good mood I would try to clip her nails. You would have sworn I had cut off all the tips of her fingers. Tears and snot all over place. I had to wrap both my arms and legs around her just to sort of finish.
The temper is also starting to flair. She has lashed out with hits if we scolded her for something. After she does it she gets another scolding and we get more tears. She then comes for kisses and hugs so at least she acts like she feels bad.
The best/worst part of this is the dirty looks we are now getting if we ask her to do something or tell her not to do something. The look is "how dare you tell me what to do, I am a princess." She's really coming into her personality, as if she didn't have enough before. All the faces she has been making lately are hilarious.

So other than that our week has been very low key. We did finally book our tickets back to Maine to sort our my visa. We're going to be in Maine for 5 weeks. I'm getting really excited to see everyone again. I am also looking forward to a visit from our best friends A & D at the end of March.

Tomorrow we go to playgroup again. I'm hoping we'll have some more stories to tell .

oíche mhaith

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday Dinner

Our new decanter holding a lovely French wine

One thing I really love about being in Ireland with my husband's family is Sunday dinner. Every Sunday, his father, RG cooks all morning for a lovely, big meal. The great grandparents from up the lane always come and any other family that is in town. Usually, it is us, brother K, the in-laws, the greats and uncle L. Sunday dinner reminds me a lot of the Sabbath dinners we would have at friends houses after church. It's a chance for the family to come around the table and spend some quality time together.

There is always some sort of meat, today it's leg of lamb, potatoes (of course), a couple vegetables and depending on the mood of RG, a dessert. All of this is paired with a great wine. Sunday dinner at the family house is not an uncommon practice here. We have had a great dinner every Sunday since we've gotten here. It used to be great granny who did the dinner, but RG has since taken over and dinners are at our house now. The smells from the kitchen on Sunday morning are so yummy. If you aren't a meat eater, you may not be as full as most since every dinner has a meat. And if you are a meat eater and are balking at the thought of eating lamb, it tastes alot like a really good steak and the lambs aren't the cute little babies you are thinking of. They look like dirty big sheep, just like the ones in my previous pictures.
Leg O'Lamb

The Irish have it right, a day with good food and family. I think Americans could take a lesson from the Irish, spend time in the kitchen and have the family come together once a week. Many families don't get a chance to sit down and enjoy a meal and discuss the week. Groups of friends should do this too. We would do this once and a while with our best friends in Portland, A & D. It was great to chat and catch up over good food and wine.  The food doesn't have to be anything fancy, as long as everyone is sitting down and having a good time. So if you have a family try to make a point to have a dinner together without any distractions. If you don't have family, get a bunch of friends together, each making a dish (entree, dessert, starter) and sit down at a table with a good glass of wine (juice) and chat. You'll find it is so much fun and addicting.
The plates are in the oven warming up. RG always makes sure his plates are nice and warm when they serve dinner. Still getting used to this habit.

Vegetable stir-fry

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Exploring the town of Tobermore

It's been a few days since my last blog and I wish I could say there has been loads of stuff going on to fill the time, but nope, not really. It's been a normal week, except with a little more sun. We went to the mother and toddler group Wednesday and Friday. There really hasn't been any headway with any of the moms. They still keep to themselves and have now started gossiping alot more about people they know. I have started to take a more aggressive approach with them, but I'm not sure if that is scaring them away or they really just don't like me or Americans. I am just going to keep going until either they warm up to me or a new group of moms come in. A lot of the kids will be leaving in September to go to preschool at the age of 3.

We also went to the playground on Thursday. If you want to have a better look at the town you can do Google street view of Tobermore, NI.,+Magherafelt,+United+Kingdom&ll=54.811914,-6.706038&spn=0,0.076818&z=14&layer=c&cbll=54.811791,-6.706013&panoid=T9e0CYI5n4XEfYlHpxZpGA&cbp=12,205.4,,0,1.75
It looks like they took the pictures of the town around July 12th, if you don't now why that date is so special over here I will share in the future. Since it was around that date you will notice there are British flags and red, white, and blue banner . It is because Tobermore is a Protestant area in NI. I still need to look up the history of the town to tell you why. It just means you don't where anything that has the Irish flag or certain teams, for your own safety. Now it may sound like it would be unsafe, far from it. You just have to know the social rules. It would be like walking into a huge crowd of Yankee's fans wearing Red Sox gear and a Yankee's Suck. It's just common sense. Once I learn more about the history of Tobermore, I will definitely let you know. I can promise you some history lessons coming your way.  Below are pictures of the local park. It's down the lane and in the town of Tobermore.

This is what happens when you ask O to say "cheese"

Looking alot like Daddy.

This is an example of the kind of graffiti you would see in an British supported area. U.V.F is the Protestant side of the conflicts. There is a lot more to it, but it would be a huge paper. As mentioned, Tobermore is a very Protestant area.

The small Tobermore playground. The ground is spongy rubber tiles.

Looking through the tunnel.

There were some city workers cleaning up the park and O thought that the man raking was very interesting. Kept calling him, "mama", but it's good to know that right now she calls everyone mama, except me, I get "Mommy".

The impish grin says it all

On the swings.
Hope you all have a good weekend!

oíche mhaith

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A walk in the countryside

It was a nice day finally, a wee bit chilly, but no rain until the evening. It started with me opening up the curtains to a male pheasant strutting around the driveway with his harem of 4 females. He would have been dinner, but the pheasant season is over so no go. It's funny how they've only come out after their season is over. After breakfast O and I went for about a 5 mile walk in the countryside. It's a nice loop that only has you on the a large road for about 10 minutes and then the rest is a really small lane with lots of nice houses and fields. It usually takes about 1.5 hrs since I make stops to show O the sheep, chickens and horses along the way. However, today it took almost 2 hrs cause she was very cranky half way through, kept taking her gloves off and screamed when I put her back in the stroller after letting her walk for a wee bit. That will teach me for not taking a dummy (pacifier) with me. Below are some pictures of things we saw along the way.

Here's the pheasant male himself on the patio.

If you don't know what this is, this is a national speed limit sign. It means when you see this you would normally you go 60 mph. But if you see it on a motorway it means you can go 70 mph and other roads you would go 50 mph. Kind of confusing.

Here's the sign as you enter the village

Look, it's a Cialis commercial! Actually it's just an old tub left in a field for the sheep.

I love looking at the hills. It so beautiful.

More sheep! I took this picture cause this was the first time we were able to see the lambs.

Not sure if you can see, but there is some snow in the higher hills.

A road sign on the lane. It's not often you see signs in Gaelic and English in the north.

The lane.

A side view of the River Moyola. It's banks are swelled because of all the rain.

An abandoned barn.

We think this is an abandoned house with an old shed.

O enjoying her walk.

Happy baby!

Took this picture for all of you in New England, green grass.

Another road sign

oíche mhaith

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A walk up to the great grandparents

We were finally able to walk up to Great Granny and Granda's house yesterday. Here are a few pictures as we walked up in the drizzle.

O all tucked in and ready to go!

Here is looking up the lane towards the road from our house.

Can't have a walk in Ireland without seeing some sheep.

More sheep!

This is an old wall on the road/lane. I love that everything around here looks so old.

There are the gates to the front of the Great's driveway. You'll notice the bars on the road. That's to keep sheep/cattle from getting up into the house or from the fields. Their hooves get caught in the bars to stop them.

This is looking up the entrance to the front of the house. People in the country don't use the front entrances of their houses, they're mostly ornamental, much like New England homes. I love this picture because it makes me feel like I'll be walking into an Austen film.

An old tree with snowdrops growing just underneath it. Very fairy tale like.

The front of the Great Grandparents house. I am told it is at least 200 years old, in the early Georgian style. There was an older house built just down the hill, but that one was burnt down and you can't see the foundation. If you look at the left of the pic, next to the bench, you'll see what looks like a plant holder. Again, what I'm told is an early Christian baptism basin for the church.

Looking out into their garden. You can kind of see a gate in the ivy covered wall. Very "Secret Garden."
 I will hopefully have better pictures from their house and maybe if they let me inside the house when it's nice this week.

Hope everyone enjoys the Superbowl. Can't wait to see the difference of TV coverage on the BBC. I will discuss the game tomorrow I'm sure!

oíche mhaith

Friday, 4 February 2011

Rainy days and ramblings.

My next blog was going to be a walk up to Great Granny B's house to show everyone the old ring fort, the house and just the beautiful view. However, it has been rainy and windy here for the last 3 days, so you'll all have to wait for that.

So today's blog is just going to be a bunch of ramblings about things I would have normally talk to many of you about if we were on the phone or the like. I've got my headphones into my laptop sitting in the dining room/kitchen listen to Cee Lo Green "What part of forever" from the Eclipse soundtrack. I will say one thing about the Twilight movies, they have the best soundtracks.

Anyways, since it's been so rainy it's been hard to keep the mood up. We haven't been able to go for walks up to Granny's or anywhere for that matter, so it feels like I've been trapped inside the house FOREVER! Which I know is lie cause we even went out to the mother and toddler group today. (I'll get to that in a bit.) I think the weather is going to be one of the hardest things to get used to. I live for sun. If it's sunny, I'm happy, full of energy. When it's cloudy, I'm tired, need a nap and just really can't be arsed to do anything. Well it is Ireland, so you can only guess what I feel like most of the time. Top that off with not being able just to go to the mall or shops to get out of the house or go to a friend's house to commiserate about the weather. I know many of you are in New England and would take rain over snow any day, which I would as well. But for some reason snow and the white doesn't create such a depressing feeling as rain, wind, and clouds. I'm sure it's a case of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). But enough of that, overall it hasn't been that bad. If it does rain, it will be sunny for the rest of the day. It's only been this week that it's been crappy.

As for the playgroup today, it was okay. There weren't as many moms and toddlers today. O was in a better mood as well.   They introduced a wee stand-up sandbox and that was a hit with all the kids. I still haven't been able to talk to anyone. I try to make eye contact and smile. However, I think I am oozing a desperate "be my friend" vibe, which is probably very frightening.  It will get better I keep telling myself. To put this in a better context, many of these moms are older and have two or three kids in primary school already. It also seems that they have all known each other for years. It will take time, I've been on the other end of this scenario, but I am also a little more friendly than these moms. After reading this paragraph again, it makes me laugh. I should have called this blog, "PLEASE BE MY FRIEND! Chronicles of a mother trying to make friends."

I hope you have all like my ramblings. I wish I had more exciting things to discuss or pictures. Once I can get my licence and R gets a job, I'm hoping to do wee day trips to castles and the coast. Then I will bore you all with history : )  Itunes on my laptop has me now listening to Gerald Butler sing as the Phantom of the Opera. (sigh, thought of you J in CT!) I think I'm now in the mood for a sappy Jane Austen flix. Which one should I watch?

oíche mhaith

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Mommies and snotty nosed kids.

Today was one of our days to get out of house. O had a runny nose and woke up grumpy so that set the mood for our whole day as we head to our second visit to the mother and toddler group.

 The group is held at St. Mary's primary school in Maghera. It's in a mobile classroom. Below is a picture of the front of the classroom. It's full of toys, a wee table, and little chairs all around, like a kindergarten classroom. It's a nice space, but they always have the heat cranked up to 1000 degrees. There are about 5-7 Irish mothers with a kid each, I would guess about 3 years old. There is also a small group of Polish mothers that can speak a wee bit of English and then there is me.

As many of you know I don't normally have a hard time making friends, well this is one of those times I feel I just can't make friends. Not only am I trying to keep O from stealing toys from the kids that are playing with them and then try to make small talk just doesn't work. Now, I've never been to a Mother/toddler group in American so I don't really have anything to compare it to, but they are NOT New England moms. I'm used to everything be sterilized to the death, no juice, no sweets, no cookies (biscuits) and defiantly no pancakes with loads of butter. Everything at the play group is completely opposite. All the kids get juice, (to note: one mom did say that it was the only times her son got juice) and pre-made pancakes with butter. Biscuits are then passed around after for the moms, but I think the kids eat more of them than we would. Talking to my father-in-law I guess a lot of kids here get loads of sweets. I'm making an assumption since I'm only an outsider. I'm dying to get my hands on a parenting magazine from the UK to see where it would differ from US ones.

One of the moms did talk to me (high-five) and so did the girl that runs the group for the school. Other than that no one else talked to me, even when I was prying O off the toy their kid was playing with. Now this is going to sound like a small pity party, but I feel the loneliest when I'm at the group. It makes me miss all my friends. I have no one to talk to about what has gone on in my week while I chase O around. It's swapping "war" stories with other mommies that I miss so much. Hopefully after a few visits I'll be able to talk to more people, especially when O is feeling better and not so crappy and grabby. I was hoping this was going to be a way to make friends in the area, but we'll see.  As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.

oíche mhaith

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Daddy seems to be the hardest word.

My daughter, O, said "daddy, daddy, daddy" for two months without saying "mommy" once when she was about 13 months. However today is a very different story. All she says is "mommy." You ask her to say daddy or ask her where Daddy is, she still says "mommy." I think the funniest part of all this is her little personality is no longer little. You can see a glint in her eye that she knows she's being cheeky. The other day we asked her to say daddy and she would immediately say "mommy!". This went on for about 2 minutes and at the end she would look at us,crinkle her nose and say "mommy" really loud as if to say," you can't make me do anything I don't want."
Here's the wee impy grin

Her attitude is growing by leaps and bounds. She's already very definant. If you tell her "No" for anything that she shouldn't be doing, she'll get really mad and either throw what she's got in her hand on the ground, or worst case, she tries to hurt either me or my husband. The worst case has happened twice and I never thought I would have to give a 17 month a "time-out." This wee girl is to smart for her own good. If you've had similiar issues, please comment. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

The other side of this is we've gone back with seperation anxiety. It used to be that I could leave the room and she would just wave good-bye. Now if it even looks like I'm headed anywhere without her, it's all tears and crying. Many of you may say that it's because of the huge changes we've made in the last few months. This new development has only started happening in the last 3 days. I think we're on the verge of talking. According to the parenting magazines, this is a sign that something big is about to happen such as walking, talking, and the like. I've linked a wee article that summarizes what's going on with our life.
I'm hoping the talking does start soon, because R and I are getting really tired of "ehhh" for everything she needs or wants. Even with all this going on, she is the happiest baby. Here are some pics of O in the last few weeks.

This is after she fell on her face in the driveway. Her poor little nose.

Looking alot like her Daddy when he was this age

Monster toes! Thank you Granny P!

O eating grapefruit. Lord knows why. I think that habit comes from both Grannies.

Tomorrow we go to the Mother-Toddler group in Maghera. I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about them.

oíche mhaith