Me & You (July)

meandyou_july3BWThese photos are from the elevator of the g (where we stayed last weekend). It’s only 3 floors, so it’s a super fast selfie session. I like that they succession of photos looks like a photo booth with Chris nearly, but not quite, managing to smile all the way. He’s holding on tight to those teeth in the last photo.

We really did have an amazing weekend and it did a lot of good to be without the children. As much as we adore them and love being parents, we needed 1) a good night’s sleep, 2) to be able to finish conversations without interruption, and 3) to reconnect with the part of our relationship that’s not mom and dad. We needed this weekend to remember that we are great friends and partners because we’re both interesting people (to each other at least) with ideas, passions and thoughts that are not related to Lego building and the impracticality of the public transportation system in Dinosaur Train. Finding comfort in this (that our initial spark is still burning) made me all the more grateful that I could fall in love with Chris again because of his awesomeness as a dad. We spent a great deal of time in a kids toy shop contemplating buying a toy accordion and I love that. Of course, we were checking out toy stores long before kids. I love Chris for being fun and interesting and adorable in so many different ways and for complementing my interests so well. It was good to get away from domesticity for a while, but also so good to know we had our little life to come home to.

I brought along Mindy Kaling’s book and there was a quote that I thought very fitting for the weekend that was in it:

Married people, its up to you. It’s entirely on your shoulders to keep this sinking institution afloat. It’s a stately old ship, and a lot of people, like me, want to get on board. Please be psyched and convey the psychedness to us. Always remember that so, so many people want what you have. You’re the star at the end of a Shakespearean play, wearing a wreath of flowers in your hair. The rest of us are just little side characters.

 

2014 Project (week 29)

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These are the lazy days of summer. Our last 6 weeks before Nate starts pre-school and we have obligations during the week. I think I may have been slightly uptight in the beginning of motherhood, signing us up to lots of classes and playgroups and feeling incredibly guilty if every minute of everyday wasn’t filled with something enriching organised. Gradually it became overwhelming and expensive (especially once Alex arrived) so we started slowing down our out-of-house activities. It dawned on me a few months ago that once Nate starts school he will no longer having the mornings to play and be lazy and maybe not even change out of his pajamas. He’ll have to be somewhere by 9am every weekday morning for the rest of his life, so my little gift to my children (that they won’t remember, but will hopefully feel in their happy little hearts) is an unstructured summer full of fresh air, “jamma-days”, picnics and free time to play without expectations. (If I’d passed my driving test, it would also include beach days. Fingers crossed that will be on the agenda next summer!)

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Glasses Geek

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I’m a girl who wears glasses. I have since I was about 10 and my relationship with glasses has never been great. We had a rocky start. My first pair were purple with pink hearts and rhinestones in the corner. While this might be pretty kitch and cool now, it was totally not then. I moved on to more sensible, giant metal frames and always felt totally square in my specs. As soon as my parents would allow it, I got contacts and played fast and loose with my eye health (as I’m sure every teenager before the era of disposable contacts did). I’ve never quite felt comfortable in my glasses and never had a pair that I really liked until these babies (I got them just after Nate was born). My eyes are slowly and surely rejecting contacts. Post-baby my eyes have dried out a lot. (I used to wake up for night feeds with horrible daggers in my eyeballs. Try putting eye drops in your eyes while carrying a crying, hungry newborn baby at 3am. It’s a skill I’m not so happy to know I possess). So here I am, trying to fight against my general insecurity at being a huge geek. And seriously, at 30-something I should totally be embracing my geekyness. It’s obviously not going away.

I don’t want to be one of those people who damage their eyes out of vanity. After all I’d rather see my darling children and handsome husband than damage my eyes just so the world has an unrestricted view of my flawless face. After reading about cornea eating amoebas and having a couple days of seriously uncomfortable eyes, I’ve decided to wear my specs more. I really like glasses on people. There are a ton of bloggers that I read who wear glasses and I always think they’re supper cute, I just never feel cute myself. I feel totally self conscious and greasy and have never learned how to wear make up and glasses. After over 20 years of wearing glasses, I should have sussed this out by now.

So, dear readers, do any of you have tips on how to look cute and not geeky in glasses? I know they’re totally trendy now so that’s one thing to thank hipsters for (the others are craft beer and burrito joints). I’m also in the market for some new, affordable glasses to give myself some variety. I wish we had awesome home try-on services like the US and UK. Anyone know if there are companies is offering online glasses to Ireland?

Grown Up Galway

Last December I won a radio contest with Phantom (RIP) and 7UP. I got some cash, a hideous 7UP Christmas jumper, Christmas crackers, a case of 7UP Free and an all-expenses paid trip to the g Hotel in Galway. After decades of dialling into radio contests, I actually won something! Hooray for Santa! We decided it would be better to go west in the summer when the weather would be nice (yeah, right!), so last weekend we shipped off the kids and hit the road for our first trip away since Alex was born. It was amazing! (By the way, we had such a great time that I completely forgot about my DSLR so all these are iphone shots. Who cares? I’m sharing anyway!)
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After getting my hair did (and going a little more blonde than intended), we hit the road around midday. The drive is quick, but pretty boring (Irish people, build some random roadside attractions please) luckily I am a great passenger, entertaining Chris with my best of 90s CDs and introducing him to some awesome classics like Naughty by Nature’s OPP and Arrested Development’s Tennessee (both of which I still shockingly know all the lyrics to). By the way, the Sunjellies Jelly Bag makes a great car companion. I stored everything I needed for the road trip in it (and then some)

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So The g Hotel is amazing! We had a really lovely two night stay and made the most of everything the hotel had to offer. The room was really bright and comfortable and exceptionally clean. We had two little cakes welcoming us to the room, and you know cupcakes are the way to my heart! The décor is pretty fun, lots of bold colours and little Philip Treacy hats everywhere (in the door knobs, lights, chairs). It was a fun seek-n-find game. I was surprised by the location (in a retail park and attached to a cinema). Our room overlooked a Woodies, but they cleverly placed planters outside the window so it felt very private and secluded. Best of all, unlike our house, it was very quiet. You couldn’t hear anything from the rooms next door or the hallway. Peace and quiet is exactly what two tired parents ordered. It’s a small hotel with lounges on one floor, rooms on the other two. Each lounge was a little different–creamy white with bold bobble light fixtures and Charlie Chaplin films projected at night, hot pink with a hypnotic black and white spiral rug, rich jewel tones with ornate mirrors and pictures of supermodels everywhere. It’s very cool.

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The first thing we did after unpacking was go to Penney’s, like a good American tourist. It was only as soon as we pulled in the hotel that I realised I’d forgotten my jacket. It was raining and I was wearing a backless dress, which is a pretty cold combo. Actually, this was my second raincoat to buy in the Penney’s off Eyre Square. You’d think I’d learn eventually. It rains here.

When we booked the stay we realised it was during the festival season in Galway (this is either a great or terrible time to visit the city depending on what you’re looking for). Our first night we were lucky enough to get tickets for the extraordinary Ballyturk. This was one of the best performances I have ever seen and really rattled me. You really need to try to see it in Dublin, Cork or London later this summer. Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi are stunning in it. I can’t say more without giving it away, but it totally got under my skin and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I am now going to make a point of seeing anything and everything Enda Walsh puts his hand to.

Before and after the theatre we made a visit to the Pie Maker, a super tiny pie shop on Cross Street that has only pies, sweet and savoury and all absolutely delicious. The design was pretty much the opposite of The g, quirky and antique and wonderful (there’s a wall full of rulers with a slightly scary hidden door). It gets crowded (there’s only about 4 tables and some bar stools) but if there’s a free seat, it’s worth popping in! We then got a drink in craft beer mecca the Salt House (the Porterhouse chocolate truffle stout was incredible) and wandered around the waterfront until we found a giant metal scrapyard (you know you’re the parents of two little boys when a crane and scrap heap are super exciting to you!) galway4Day two we hung out in the hotel in the morning, with a great big breakfast and a trip to the thermal suite – a really cool part of Espa at the g. It’s not complementary for residents of the hotel and you do have to book in advance, but it is worth it. It’s a huge black room with sparse lighting and origami cranes floating from the high ceiling with a large heated jacuzzi/pool in the centre. There’s also heated loungers, a steam room, sauna, and thermal showers. I was suffering from a sinus infection, but felt so much better and so relaxed after hanging out in there!

In the afternoon I decided to pretend it wasn’t pouring rain and wore the summeryest outfit I had (ice cream dresses and jelly shoes totally perk up the unsummery west coast gloom by the way). We saw God Help the Girl, the soon to be released film by Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch, as part of the Galway Film Fleadh. I’m a bit of a B&S fangirl so I absolutely loved it. If you’re a fan of the group or if you like indie musical coming of age films, you’ll love it too. After the film we wandered up and down Quay Street a bit, buying wild flower bouquets and finding the most amazing children’s toy store, Wooden Heart. It was full of beautiful wooden toys and even had Radio Flyers. We may have been missing the boys just a little bit.

That night we had a three-course dinner in the hotel (part of my prize) and it was delicious. I had some crazy beetroot and goats cheese starter, sea bass and risotto for mains and chocolate fondant for desert. That’s pretty much all my favourite things (besides tacos). It was a lot of fun getting all dressed up for a nice dinner and then going back upstairs to tuck into our super comfy bed and read our books without any chores to do or kids to check on. We had probably the best and longest night’s sleep in the past 4 years.

Our last day, we made one more trip to the thermal spa and grabbed some lunch in town. The entire trip was topped off by finding the Reality Bites soundtrack in Oxfam for €2 (yay 90s!). I made Chris endure my Lisa Loeb impression several times on the ride home, and Chris dug it because he loves me.

2014 Project (week 28)

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It has been a while since I took a straight up portrait of the kids. They seem to both have grown up so much over the past month. We don’t have any babies in the house (that’s very hard to come to terms with sometimes), we officially have a toddler and little boy. Nate is so clever and sweet and full of stories. Most of them start “a long time ago, when I was a baby…” and then he goes on to tell us about how he woke up in a dinosaur’s nest and was forced to eat leaves or that he was friends with a Gruffalo as big as a house. He’s gentle and kind with younger children and likes to help around the house (most of the time). Alex is hilarious, always looking for a laugh (usualy with dangerous physical comedy). He has started acting like a horse, galloping around the house and makes some pretty ridiculous faces. His vocabulary is just astounding. My favourite thing in the world is Alex’s nightly routine of asking for a hug and a kiss. Always both!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can spend so much time dwelling in the past or looking towards the future. I sometimes say to myself, I can’t wait until they’re big enough to do xyz or I feel a slight sting in my gut missing their days as tiny babies, wishing Alex was still young enough to wrap up in a sling all day or that Nate (and I) still napped. But I am very happy to live in the present right now. Just look at those faces, I need to appreciate this stage, this day, this wonderful opportunity I have to know these two great little guys.

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