Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Transplanted Life

I originally drafted this post for a guest starring role on Megan's blog when she asked me to be one of her "Saturday Squatters". That didn't quite pan out, and now Megan is nowhere to be found so - it's going in here instead!

I'm prompted to dust this post off because I've been reading about the transitions made by an American into life in the UK, and so many of the adjustments she's had to make echo my own, only in the opposite direction. I've been fascinated following her story of how she'd left all that she knew behind in the US, and had to try and make herself comfortable in England.

Making myself comfortable doesn’t come easy for me at times. Uprooting your life and moving across the world sounds like an adventure to be embraced by many, envied by others, and feared by some, like me!

You see, I love me some comfort zones. Familiarity, security, predictability – these are the things that make me breathe easy, and sleep well at night. Someone (my husband!) threw a spanner in those works a while back and all of a sudden I’m moving from Ireland, to Florida, USA! (A spanner is a wrench for all you American English readers – one of the many word substitutions I’ve had to embrace, more on this later).

Now I’m living life as an Irish bud transplanted, and after a while of feeling unsettled I am now ‘Blooming Marvelous’.

I felt sorry for myself for a long time. Love brought me here to the states. But love was also pulling me back home to Ireland, to my family and friends that I missed. Many times after moving here, my then fiancé was worried that I was going to bail and head home, leaving him to choose if he wanted to come with me. I asked for his patience and understanding which he gave unfalteringly, as I found my feet here.

With very few exceptions, American people have been overwhelming in their welcoming outreach towards me. Friends and strangers alike have warmly accepted us here in the United States, and are tickled to find out that we are Irish. I have certainly found that old adage that ‘half the world is Irish, and the other half wishes they were Irish’, to be true.

But Florida wasn’t Ireland, it wasn’t where my family was, and it wasn’t ‘home’.

After the ‘busyness’ that surrounded our wedding settled down, and I found myself pregnant with our first child, I did start to find my way here. I fell into that familiarity, security and predictability that I craved through my ongoing OB/GYN visits, and meeting and chatting with other pregnant women, the nurses and my doctor. Aside from friends I’d met through my husband [I kind of viewed them as 'friend's once removed', since they were his friends really, not mine] – these were the only other people I’d met and become familiar with.

When my baby arrived, and I started to take her along to ‘Mommy and Me’ groups, I made real friends of my own. I met people with kids my daughter’s age and found common ground with many of them. These women taught me a lesson. Several of them came from far flung States across this vast nation. Far from their families and friends, and settled themselves in Florida. For some, this wasn’t the first place to which they had ‘transplanted’ and with the realization that they were doing this so smoothly came the wake up call to myself that people uproot themselves and move all the time! They survive, and more than that they thrive!

I gradually adjusted my thinking and opened myself to the possibility of feeling comfortable here. You see, I had resisted the temptation to settle because I felt like I would in some way be betraying myself, and my family by admitting that I could feel settled in Florida. After all, am I not supposed to be devastated that I am so far from family? I am very sad at times that we aren’t geographically closer and goodness knows there are times in the last while that I could have used the physical and emotional support that would have been there without me ever having to ask for it, if we were physically closer.

In trying to stay true to myself and my identity as an Irish person I also resisted vehemently the need to use American English vocabulary and spelling in many situations. All this did was cause confusion and I’d look at puzzled faces as I’d talk about putting nappies in the changing bag and hanging it on the handle of the pram, or mention that in this cooler weather I’d be pulling on a jumper and trousers instead of a sweater and pants.

For the sake of my kids I have started to use American vocabulary like diapers, stroller, pants, stove, sidewalk, etc more frequently, so that they do not need to encounter the same puzzled faces. It’s hard enough for other people to understand kids as it is, I don’t need to make it more difficult!

I’m still resisting the US spelling though – even though phonetic spelling makes a whole lot more sense, I just can’t bring myself to change how I spell things like honour, colour, centre. It may make me seem illiterate, but for now you will just have to forgive me.

Blogging itself has helped me feel more settled, and it has given me a sense of belonging as it is a great leveler. I tend to blog about my life as a stay at home mother with two small kids, and garner great support and friendship from other bloggers in the same circumstances. I have been known to touch on the odd serious issue, too which gives my brain some much needed exercise, and helps me engage in a certain level of debate, at times. I have also encountered other bloggers who are far from ‘home’ and reading about their experiences, and sharing my own with them as a ‘transplant’ helps, a lot. Who knew you could find virtual support groups for every need – right here literally at your fingertips? A veritable kaleidoscope of good reads, that with each click brings a new group of snapshots into other people's lives. These help reduce the feelings of loneliness when they crop up because you can always find someone who’s ‘been there, done that’ and survived, sometimes stronger because of it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Note to self....

...check weather forecast before embarking on 3 mile hikes around lakes.

My resolution - way back in the autumn, to regularly walk around this lake stumbled somewhat, but has been gaining momentum in the last couple of weeks. I have been enjoying the walk a few times a week in this beautiful weather, and intend to keep it up in these early spring days, because come the summer you won't see me out there for a pension!

Miss E is off preschool today for President's Day - so off we set with the double stroller, water, and some stale bread because she wanted to feed the ducks (a determination she backs down from every.single.time when waddling wildfowl flock around her and freak her out!)

I shoved the kids' coats in the basket of the stroller 'just in case' since the sky was dull, but not threatening at all.

Good move!

Half way around the lake I feel moisture on my face - brushed it off as being mist blowing off the by now choppy water on the lake, (where I thought the mist suddenly appeared from I don't know, meteorology is clearly not my strong point. Nor is checking in with those for whom it is a strength, evidently).

Seconds later, with not a tree for shelter in sight, the skies opened and as only in Florida it can, dumped a monsoon right on top of us.

I scurried to get the kids' coats on - Miss E shrieking that her underpants were getting wet, a testament to how fast and how hard this rain was falling.

With a good mile and a half to go before we got back to the car my options were:

1. Run like a crazy lady, half pushing, and half leaning on the double stroller (with nearly 60 pounds worth of offspring strapped inside),

2. Find a tree and stand under it and wait for the worst to pass,

3. Give in, decide that we are thoroughly soaked, a little more rain won't hurt us and saunter back to the car enjoying the soothing tones of Tim McGraw in the iPod in the process.

Which did I choose?

All of the above, in that order!

At this point I should confess that I had to repeat options 1 and 2 several times, since option 2 was necessary to recover from option 1, and avoid emergency medical intervention.

We eventually got back to the parking lot, and I offered Miss E the option of getting into the dry car - or feeding the ducks.

She opted to feed the ducks.

I half thought the ducks wouldn't be interested and I was right. They were a lot more sensible than us, finding whatever shelter they could from the battering rain.

The geese however were a completely different story. They sniffed out our stale wholewheat from somewhere far away as I hadn't even seen them. Those things can move fast, they're loud and not a bit shy. Suddenly here I was with a gaggle of white geese, which look all white and fluffy and cute from far away, but loud and up close ? Not so much.

Let's just say - Miss E didn't even want to touch the bread. And rather than break off pieces, I threw whole slices of bread as far as I could to get those creatures away from us! The only sliver of pride I had left stopped me from throwing the whole loaf, bag and all at them and letting them duke it out among themselves, lest I make myself out to be a complete chicken in front of bystanders (all two of them stupid enough to stand in the open in this rain).

Lesson learned - future walks only to be undertaken after extensive consultation with the weather forecast. And, you can bet I'll be packin' a brolly!

Friday, February 15, 2008

M&Ms are the way to go!

Further to my Valentine's post yesterday, I read today's local newspaper and decided that a couple of measly packets of mini M&Ms were at least safe!

Local kids giving out Valentine's lollipops got more than they bargained for when metal fragments were found in them - thought to be pieces of cutting blades.

You can read about it here.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Slacker Mom

Boy, do I have a lot to learn in the world of Preschool!

Miss E had her school 'Valentimes' party yesterday. She was so psyched to bring her little valentine's cards in, complete with the little bags of mini M&Ms she had in each envelope - two little packets for each kid.

Here I was naively thinking this was a nice little token gesture.

Imagine my embarrassment at seeing the bounty that Miss E came home with from the other kids! Cute little cellophane bags with co-ordinating twistie ties, filled with heart covered candies, pencils, stencils, art stampers etc!

I guess this post at Mommyvents should have given me a heads up.

Hmm - bang goes my quest to be the Martha Stewart of Preschoolerville!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Markers? What Markers?

Wordless Wednesday

For other Wordless Wednesday participants click here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

100th Blog Post!

How appropriate is it that I was coming in to write a post about my 'in real life' meeting with a fellow blogger?!

Blooming Marvelous (and Jay!) met Flamenco Mom last Friday.

We have 'known' each other for a couple of years after being involved on a stay at home mommy message board (you know the kind, don't worry I've seen the light!).

Flamenco Mom's husband works in my city and she and her two adorable kids came into town with him and met up with Jay and I at a wonderful local lake.

This wonderful lake!

It was great to meet up in person. We walked around the lake and chatted. It felt so strange in a way, here I was chatting to someone I'd never met, yet having read her blog for a while now, I felt like I knew so much about her.

Flamenco Mom is a very mellow person and I'd say I could learn much from her relaxed approach when both her kids, curious to explore the water's edge, got quite close. Miss E could learn a lot from her equally mellow kids, like a lesson in how to listen to and obey your mother! Miss E was in school that day, so this lesson will have to wait until we meet again.

Flamenco Mom was one of the bloggers I plagued with lots of questions last year as I was thinking of setting up my own blog and here we are at 100 posts already.

Here's to meeting fellow bloggers, making new friends, and the next 100 posts!


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Three year old logic.

A conversation between Miss E and myself yesterday morning.

Early yesterday morning.

Miss E (in a loud whisper): Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY!

Tired, half asleep me: Whaaaat?

Miss E: I didn't slush the toilet.

Me: Why not?

Miss E: I didn't want to wake you up!

My disgruntlement at being woken so abruptly melted instantly amidst my giggles. Not a bad way to start the day.

Friday, February 1, 2008

EMS lady will be gunning for me!

If you haven't read my last post - you might want to do it now so that this one makes sense - we'll wait....

So, I have been in email contact with the director of our County's EMS! I stewed and stewed over the EMS lady's attitude toward me in the middle of a medical emergency. A situation that she is supposed to make better, not worse.

I wrote two emails, one thanking the ER for their help, and another to the Fire Service Paramedics thanking them for their prompt assistance. As it happens, the fire service email arrived at the Director of the whole County's Emergency Services, Ambulance and Fire service, so I had the opportunity to raise the not so good part of my experience with them this week.

As a friend put it to me, I was 'diplomatic' in my explanation of what happened, and I made it clear that I wasn't pleased at the interaction I had with this woman. I said that I contacted them not to complain, rather for my experience to serve as a reminder to anyone answering a 911 call, particularly one involving a child, that a little compassion and understanding for the parent's position would perhaps be more helpful.

I feel better having got it off my chest, but here's hoping I don't need 911 any time soon - I'm not sure EMS lady will be in a mood to help me if she happened to be the paramedic on duty!