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Living The Road Not Taken

I was currently on holiday in Northern California. My brother has lived there for over 20 years and my sister in law, Simon’s sister, moved there late last year.

I also lived there for about 10 years and was living there when I met Simon and moved to Belfast.

When I emigrated, the hard part wasn’t leaving my country, it was leaving my family. My oldest niece was three, her sister just a baby, and I had been a part of their lives since they were born. I more or less saw them everyday. In fact, it was the elder who named me Tee!

And then I was 5,000 miles away.

And now the three year old is 15 and taller than me and the baby is 12 and my height.

And every two years or so I get to experience the road not taken as I come to visit with my family and my mom hires us a house (with her and my step dad) and for a week or two I’m a local.

This year the house is right around the corner from theirs and so there has been a lot of tooing and froing and friends of nieces’ to be fed and engaged with.

And things like this text conversation between the eldest, her mom, her dad and me, as she was coming to our house for dinner after Ballet:

 

conversation

 

Do I have regrets? A few.

I would love to be part of more text messages like that. Having my nieces, either, both, I don’t care, over for dinner because Mom and Dad are out. Have them over after school because they don’t feel like going home and have a key. Have them babysit Adam occasionally, pick him up from school, maybe, on their way to mine.

Have monthly or so R and Tee days and S and Tee days rather than every two years.

And have, as my brother said, our kids know each other rather than know of each other.

As I was hugging her good-bye, our typical so long, don’t want to let go hug, my niece said ‘Are you sure you don’t want to move back?’

She knows the answer, really. It’s not a want. It’s a fact. We can’t afford the Bay Area. And our lives are here in Belfast.

For the first time I was missing my Belfast friends almost as much as I miss my family when I was there. Adam’s mates mum’s were putting all sorts of things up on Facebook and I was sad he missed A’s birthday and the Superhero day at the park and all that.

Even though I ache to see more of this:

Sara and AdamI made my choice 12 years ago.

And I’m usually  okay with it.

 

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After Slipping And Sliding To Adam’s School Today

I headed to City Centre to run some errands.

I have what is know as Mummy’s Never Ending Shopping List. It gets added to all the time and never completely goes away. Today it included stuff we needed from Boots and some groceries along with a handbag, a sauce pan, a train, modelling glue, wine glasses and an ice cream maker.

Interesting list, no?

The handbag has been on my list since The Great Banana Incident of 2012. You see, one day on the way home from school Adam handed me his half eaten banana. Which I stashed in my handbag. And found four days later. I had been using my Fossil Cross Body bag, as I usually do, which is 100% fabric with leather trim. I contacted Fossil to see if it could be cleaned and their answer was yes, but no. In other words, sure, try it, but they sure as heck don’t recommend it!

So I turned it inside out, put it in a pillow case and washed it in the machine while spinning my prayer wheel and praying.

It actually came out usable, but hardly in the best shape and the seams started to wear away. So the hunt for a handbag began.

It should be noted that I am picky picky picky about my handbags. For one thing, I won’t spend more than about £60 on one. For another it has to be a cross body bag as I hate shoulder bags. It has to have at least one inner zipped pocket for my passports (yes, plural) and these days my Kindle Fire HD must fit into it. It has to zip closed. And it would be nice if it was water resistant, if not waterproof.

So The Great Banana Incident of 2012 was in October, I think it was. My mom came to visit not long after it and she gave me my birthday money (even though my birthday isn’t until two weeks from now) and I knew I would spend it on a new handbag.

So I started looking. And looking. And looking. Too small, no pocket, only a snap closure. Handbag after handbag.

Well today I bit the bullet and headed to House of Fraser (no relation) and Handbag Mecca. And lo and behold it’s their Blue Cross Sale and up to 75% off.

So I’m wandering Handbag Mecca and looking and peering and feeling and zipping and get to Radley.

Now anyone who knows me knows I couldn’t give two figs about brands, fashion or otherwise. I buy what I like that I can afford. But it did occur to me that I bought a Radley purse about a year ago because I loved the way it was designed. So I started to look at their sale rack. And found it:

New Handbag
My new handbag, by Radley. Ya know, the ones with the dog? Them.

It is perfect, cross body, inner zipped compartment, holds my Kindle (of course I had it with me, don’t ask silly questions) and water resistant. I’m also pleased because it’s not obviously a Radley as the dogs are just a part of the fabric pattern and it has no hanging dog that needed to be removed.

So what else did I get from my list?

A train – Adam’s reward for going without his dummy during the day for 10 days. It’s Percy from the Mega Blocks Rail Road and also has a piece of track.

Wine glasses – Simon keeps breaking ours. It’s either a ploy to get out of doing the washing up (which isn’t going to work) or we had very fragile glasses. The new ones have titanium in them. No joke. They are also huge.

I did not get a sauce pan (because I forgot to put on the list what size I wanted) an ice cream maker (we aren’t exactly sure we want one) or modelling glue (the girl at the shop said the stuff we already had should fix the broken Lightening McQueen).

Also?

A haircut:

My haircut
I’ll be 44 in just about two weeks. I think the grey suits me.
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Everyone Else Seems To Be Getting Snow

This is Belfast today:

1100: raining so hard I start to dread the school walk.

1130: leave the house to blue skies

1215: comment to fellow parent waiting for playgroup door to open that it was suddenly a lovely day, if cold.

1220: skies open. The aforementioned blue sky is now grey from horizon to horizon in all directions.

1245: Sunny.

1315: Bucketing.

1345: fair

1440: aka right now? Bright sun and blue sky.

It’s a good thing I love Belfast.

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Proving One More Time Why I Will Never Be A Citizen

Of the UK…

So yesterday PM David Cameron was on Letterman, who hit him with a few choice questions about British history, most of which do actually appear on the Life in Britain test as required to become a UK citizen or, apparently these days, get the Visa I have.

Cameron failed spectacularly.

As does my husband.

As would I.

And therefore I will never ever be a citizen of the UK. A citizen test that not even citizens can pass? Is not a citizen test.

Luckily I got my Visa before they required the test otherwise I would have, obviously, sucked it up and taken it.

But until they tell me the UK and US is at war and they are revoking all Visas?

I’ll stay as a Legal Residence Alien.

Thanks.

 

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Only In Belfast…

Posted as part of One Topic / Forty Opinions via The Belfast Bloggers Network.

Only in Belfast can you overhear someone in the office talking on the phone, cancelling a meeting as one member can’t make it down from Derry today due to a bomb alert and closed streets.

And no one blinks an eye.

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Obesity Epidemic?

Before I start this, let me just state; I am fat. I am, in fact, borderline obese. I have been for a good portion of my life, off and on. I am currently watching what I eat and trying to lose weight.

That being said…

As part of my bid to lose weight and get more exercise, I try to walk home from Adam’s nursery drop off at least twice a week. My walk takes me along the Malone Road and I often pass mobs of school aged children waiting for the bus to take them to their various institutions.

And I see maybe 1 or 2 obese children out of 10 or 20.

Adam’s nursery class is another place I don’t see it. I wouldn’t call a single child in his class fat, never mind obese. Chubby, sure, but they are at that age where they are still losing their baby fat.

Adam himself still has a bit of a belly and slightly chunky thighs, but no one would ever call my son obese. Or even fat, really. He’s wearing T-3 and T-4 not because of his waist or belly but because of the length of his arms and legs. All of his trousers, for example, are cinched in as tight as possible at the waist and on occasion they still slide down! But at least he isn’t wearing floods! 🙂

So where’s the epidemic?

Even as I walk around City Centre I can’t say I’m seeing millions and millions of obese people. Just a mix, as I always have, no matter where I’ve lived.

So, is it just me? Is it just Belfast?

Or is the obesity epidemic made up?

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The Strike Tomorrow…

So tomorrow most of the UK will be on strike, including my husband. Usual reasons, pension contributions increase, less pay out at the end, retirement age being risen. The 1% not getting how the rest of the world lives. What’s pretty much going on worldwide at the moment as the haves once again punish the rest of us.

But how do I feel about it? Unhappy. For one thing, we can’t get Adam to daycare due to the Belfast Metro joining the strike without paying about an equal amount in taxi fares as we do for a day there. But we still have to pay daycare for the day. So there’s a day’s fees wasted.

For another, it’s nearly Christmas. What I really need is for Simon to lose a day’s pay.

Thirdly, *I’m* not on strike and I have meetings at my largest client’s tomorrow. Which means taxi fees. Yes, they go on my company’s accounts but it’s still cash gone from our accounts, again, right before Christmas.

Finally, I don’t think one day strikes do much. I just don’t. Yes, it’s a pain for all of us for one day. But a person can handle anything, if it’s only for a day.

We’re handling it by Simon and Adam having a fun day together and me going off in a taxi to my meetings.

But I am not happy about it. And really wish the haves would figure out what they are doing to the rest of the world.

Before this revolution gets very very bloody.

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Why I Like Not Having a Car

As I was walking home from taking Adam to nursery this morning it occurred to me how much I like not having a car. How much I would miss if I was zipping down the road instead of walking.

For example, if I had been driving, I wouldn’t have been able to spend a part of walk watching, fascinated, as a pair of men changed the billboard on the corner near my house. It’s one of those billboards that flips between adverts and I watched as they worked from opposite ends, obviously from numbered strips, inserting the boards in. They weren’t going in order so I have no idea what the advert was, but it was very cool to watch them work.

Also, if I had been driving, I would never have noticed that they were painting the fence around the Ormeau Bath Gallery. It’s a nice fence, with gold finials. Now the rails are red, instead of black. I would bet not one of the people in the cars going by noticed that they were changing the colour of the fence.

If I were a driver I never would have noticed that the Worst Burger King in the World (TM) was becoming some other restaurant. Finally. It’s been closed for around 4 years. But now there are workmen going in and out and something is happening. There was a sign saying what it was but it’s gone now. Probably lost their funding like so many others these days.

So I like not having a car. As I can see what’s going on in my neighbourhood. Soon to not be my neighbourhood!

M-Day minus 9…

 

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The Application Has Been Filled Out…

the deposit has been paid…we are moving to a house!!

Not just a house, but a perfect house. So perfect I am still half feeling like I dreamed it and it can’t possibly be true or ours. Kind of like the way I felt about this flat when we moved here.

But they’ve taken our money and Simon and I are meeting the Estate Agent again tomorrow so Simon can see it. He couldn’t come today and houses to rent in the area we want are being snatched up in hours, so I took it and he took my word for it.

It’s 4 bedrooms (I get an office!), 1.5 bathrooms, has a huge garden and a garage. Oh and it’s detached, a rarity in our price range in the area we’ve been looking. There’s a living room and a dining room and enough space in the kitchen that there is a table in there as well. The neighbourhood is lovely, quiet and full of families.

There is a public library just down the road and a fairly high ranking primary school as well. Not sure if Adam will go there, but it’s a possibility at least.

It’s a bus ride to nursery rather than a walk, but that’s okay. It is walkable, if we really want to, but is about 2 miles. So will probably take the bus.

There is a train station not too far for Simon to get to work.

It’s walking distance to a shopping area with a Co-Op, butcher, off license and the like.

Still pinching myself and not sure I’ll believe it’s really ours until we sign the lease.

Now to pack!

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8 Years Ago Yesterday…

my brother drove me to SFO and I permanently left America for good.

8 years ago today I arrived in Belfast. For good.

I’ve been back, of course. But for never more than a month or two. Northern Ireland is my home now.

When people ask me if I’d go back my answer is always no. Of course I miss my family. And some of the familiar food. But I married a Coleraine boy and gave birth to a Belfast one. Here we will stay.

Adam, of course, can go to America when he grows up, if he wants. He is a full citizen of both countries, with 2 passports. I wouldn’t want him so far away, of course, but if that’s where his life leads? More power to him!

I used to dream about retiring to the coast of Maine and getting snowed in all winter with a pile of books and plenty of food.

Now maybe I’ll retire to the North Coast of Northern Ireland. I won’t get snowed in, but I can still lay in a pile of books and pretend I am.

I haven’t decided yet if Simon is coming with me. 🙂

PS 7 years ago this Sunday, Simon and I were married. More on that soon!