We’re going to be friends

 

After the first week or so of the whirlwind of tea and relatives and more tea, the kids and myself realised that we were a bit lonely for our friends.  We went from having people that we could pop in on without a thought and be ourselves totally to, well, not.

As an adult, I rationally knew that friendships come with time but the children and my heart weren’t listening.  There just may have been a rainy day where I could have been found crying in my car in the parking lot of our parish chapel.  I had my cry, dried my eyes, and drove back to my father in law’s home with my chin up.

My father in law was as gracious to provide us with a home for the first three months of our time here as we got settled and to give us time for the home that we were going to be renting to be available.  I loved being able to have that time with him for myself, my husband, and the kids. Even so, there were times that I needed to get away to deal with my emotions.  I needed a girl to hang out with to have the craic with.

One afternoon I was making the dinner at Dad’s home and the kids were outside playing in the field behind us.  Suddenly Molly burst inside excitedly and said “Mum! Mum! MUM!!  The girls I saw playing outside the last day just called over and asked if I could play with them!” I said of course you can but I will have to walk you down to make sure that it is ok with their parents.  Turns out, they were cousins of ourselves.  The girls loved that we share a surname.  The one sister was going to be in Molly’s class and the other was in the class behind.  To say that they all got on like a house on fire would be an understatement. With a sigh of relief I noted that their mum was funny and kind.  Someone that I could have the craic with over a cup of tea.  At the time I didn’t realise that my new friend, Leanne, had a bit of a cuppa problem  I may have to stage a Lyons intervention on her behalf one day. 😉

Through the girls’  friendship and numerous activities ranging from Gaelic football, hip hop (which I initially thought that I was going to have to participate in much to Leanne’s horror or humour?), and tin whistle classes; my husband and my friendship with the girl’s parents has been cemented.  It may have even survived a recent dubious movie choice of mine for our double date. (side note, you may want to take a pass on seeing Zoolander 2, just sayin’)

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This was all well and good for Molly but my Malachy was finding this all a bit girly.  There’s only so much playing with wee princesses that a boy can take.  Thankfully, through the power of Facebook, I connected with one mum who lives down the road from where our rental is who has a son around my Malachy’s age.  We also were fortunate to reunite with a boy who we had met when, well to be honest when his mum and myself were pregnant over 13 years ago.  Those two boys are but a few weeks apart in age.  Once Malachy connected with Odhran and Alexander, this island has not been the same.  Any chance they got, the three of them or two of them depending on the day were together.  There was computer gaming, kayaking, and a bit of farm work as the case may be.

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This gorgeous shot of Malachy and Odhran kayaking was captured by Patrick Higgins photography early in the Fall 2015

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Not a bad life for the kid.  And as it happens, I also got to know and really enjoy the company of Odhran’s mum (I’ve already been friendly with Alexander’s mum for years).  I know that I can depend on them to help out and they know that I am there for them as well.  The foundation of friendships started.  And man, the craic can be mighty!

 

Since the first weeks I’ve made more friends as have the children.  School started and boom instant social life!  I have dear fledging friendships with girls from our church (yeah I’m looking at you Anne!), ones that are cousins (wait, that’s most of the ones here 😉 ), and the ones I met in the initial weeks when we were home in Ireland.  Friendships grow over time and while they are not replacements for my loved ones in Maryland, there’s no doubt that we’re going to be friends …

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No matter where this path may lead my family will always keep me strong and joyful.

 

A day in the life

 

The first few days of living in Ireland are a bit of a blur.  I remember mostly a lot of tea, quite a lot of tea.  It was exciting, scary, daunting, and fabulous. Did I mention the amount of tea that was drunk those first days?

 

My days were spent mainly going from home to home meeting all of my husband’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course having a cuppa at Granny’s, Mum’s, or Dad’s home.  There were so many faces and names to learn and, frankly, I was exhausted despite my gratitude for the opening smiles and hugs.

I loved being with my in laws (and not just for the massive amount of tea being poured) but it was a definite shift in our relationships.  We went from a friendly and party manners family who were to be honest a peripheral part of each other’s lives to now being full time in your face family (or rather FAMILY in all caps).  Things just got real!

When a break from all of the reality was possible, we spent our time exploring the rugged landscape and beaches of Donegal.  We wanted the kids to see what a glorious playground they had at their doorstep.  They were duly impressed.  Honestly, what a child wouldn’t love unspoiled beaches, sand dunes, and freedom??  I may be a *ahem* grown up, but feel the thrill of freedom when I am here.  There are a handful of places in this world that I feel completely at peace; I am now blessed to live within walking distance from one of those locales.  At the white strand the power of the wind and waves makes me feel small and yet content and whole at the same time.  When I felt (feel) uncertain of my place in this country or how I am fitting into my family all I had to do was just stand, let the wind whip through my hair, and just breathe.  I knew that everything would be ok, actually more than ok things were going to be fantastic.

 

As I intimated already, there were growing pains those first days (at least on my part) whilst I learned what these relationships truly were going to be.  Imagine my moving to a land where I knew no one excepting my nuclear family and my in laws.  Up until this point we only knew each other on a holiday basis.  There was an automatic intimacy expected but we truly didn’t know each others’ every day personality and quirks.  Thankfully, my in laws were willing to work to get to know me too.  Relationships can not be one sided and I am as lucky that they wanted something real with all of us as well.  Over the months and a gazillion cups of tea (and several walks on the beach!!) sense of humours and personalities were figured out and appreciated.

Growing pains are what make a relationship real and I would not trade in the initial awkwardness if that meant that I wouldn’t have truer friendships with my Irish family.  After all, no one ever said that anything worth while was easy to obtain.

 

Take me home … well, let’s find one anyway ;) .

Ronan, you need to see this property. It is absolutely gorgeous. Ah yes, Karen, That’s Laura Lanty’s mum’s house .

That is a fairly typical conversation start in our home as of late.  I attempt to navigate the local Irish estate agents websites, they don’t seem to have one central one like in the states, and harass him with real estate links to the homes that I think are nice.  During this process I have determined that my husband knows who owns every home in County Donegal.  He either was friends with the ones, went to school with, or it is actually a family member’s home.

That he knows the property owners, or his mum or dad knows them, is not a bad thing. To be honest it is to our benefit that we are known, or at least that our people are known, when we go to rent and then eventually buy a home.  We will be renting a home for the first several months that we are living in Ireland. This will give us a chance to save money post international move for a down payment.  It will also give us time to decide what exactly we are looking for in a home when we are ready to purchase.

His mum, Ann,  currently is putting the word out that we will be moving home in 20 odd weeks and that we are looking for a place to rent.   Especially for rentals in our (soon to be)  area, word of mouth is much more accurate and helpful than any website that I can find. I have to add, bless our mum, she is putting a lot of leg work in for us as we can not physically be there to look at the homes.  I am looking forward to video chats and pictures forthcoming from herself.

Twenty weeks ahead of time may seem a bit daft to already be looking at real estate, but I am trying to get a head start on securing a home.  For one thing, where we rest our feet will determine to which primary school our Molly-Ann goes.  Secondary school is set for our Malachy, but the primary school is a bit more determined by general area.  I don’t fancy the idea of starting Molly in one school while we are staying in dad’s home and then having to change if we find a home out of her school’s area. 

The other reason for starting the search now, if I am being honest with you and myself, I am one that likes to know what is what.  I want to be able to say “right. State Side friends we are going to live here.  Oh, you want to see pictures? Here you go. 🙂 ”  It helps me feel more settled in this unsettling, but happy and exciting, time to have an address to put in if I pledge to a http://www.kickstarter.com campaign or, more importantly, so I can start to make  “don’t forget me” cards for my friends with our new contact information.

For anyone who is planning an international move, it is in their interest to research the area schools and neighborhoods, see how the real estate market works, and most importantly look into what are the banking requirements to obtain a mortgage. In our preliminary research it seems that the banks are not concerned with what we have had in the States. Their concern is that we have resided in Ireland for a minimum of 6 months and in that time had a good debt payment history, the exact time frame is dependent on the bank.  On my to do list is to contact the banks again soon as mortgage regulations have changed quite recently in Ireland.  Minimizing any financial surprises would only be a benefit to my family.

Yes, there are a lot of headaches, paperwork, and financial hoops to go through for this move, but I am remaining joyful.  For goodness sakes, I am going to be living in Donegal, Ireland in just a few months!  Bonus for me is that I love looking at real estate, albeit via the web for now, it is one of my happy chores.  In this process I am determined that I will find at least one home that my Ronan does not know the complete lineage of. 🙂

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Ireland and Donegal forever!

Brick house or just a fat American??

Holiday cooking, decorating, baking, cooking and baking some more.  All of this merriment brings to mind one thing: By Jaysus  when we are moved over I don’t want to be that new neighbor, You know the FAT AMERICAN. Eek.  Please no!

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The flag hides a bit of the bulk. 😉

In an effort to combat this title my husband, on my request no one get cross with himself, bought me a bracelet of shame (read that as a FitBit) for my birthday last month.  I was, and am, thrilled to bits.

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The problem with my fitness overlord is that it doesn’t do the work for me.  Apparently I am actually meant to *gasp* exercise.  I am not overly fond of this concept.   Not only do I have to exercise, but I am meant to do this EVERY DAY!  Say it ain’t so!!   This being the new reality, along with our two pups, my husband is walking with me a few nights a week.  To be honest, I am enjoying the nights that we are able to walk together.  It is a time to decompress.  We talk about what to expect when we are moved over.  What we are worried about.  Sometimes, we just talk nonsense and enjoy being with one another.  It is nice to have this time, away from home and move stressors, to remember why we kind of dig each other.   I really appreciate that my oldest son is willing to watch the two wee ones so that we are free to walk child free.  Tommy may enjoy the peace of God while we are walking and M & M are upstairs “sleeping”.  That reminds me, why is the pay per view bill so high as of late?

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Step by step I find myself closer to my goal.  I will be a healthier version of myself: Brick house? Yes please!  The hills of Donegal won’t be climbed by themselves!!

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I best get my bum in gear before our Auntie Dee and Mum get a hold of myself in June!

This family loves the hills of Donegal: they mean home to us.

Anytime that we have been fortunate enough to go home for a visit, my husband is on a mission to get home to Donegal from the moment the plane is taxiing on the runway in Dublin.  One that can hardly be thwarted by a bathroom break, ok he does allow a break to buy some Tayto crisps and some Club Orange.  With these treats the six hours can be a bit too long to hold the bladder! 😉

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yes, this is an actual picture of my dear husband when we were last on the road home to Donegal.

Naturally, he finds it hard to be this far from his family.  When we are on his side of the pond, he wants to get to his family’s homes as quickly as possible so that he can have a cuppa with each of them and catch up on the gossip.  Not going to lie, I feel the same.  As soon as we are able to receive Highland Radio on the rental’s radio, He speeds up and the grin gets wider.  You can imagine that when “Las Vegas (the hills of Donegal)” comes on; he starts us all singing along and our moods all lighten up.

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Warming the bum near his Dad’s stove. ❤

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I can not believe that in a few short months we won’t be going on an Irish holiday.  We are moving to become a real part of our Irish family’s lives.  Adventures and adjustments will be plenty.  Some will be easy and some difficult but we will be doing this with an awesome support system.  Please join us as I share our continued saga from the States to Ireland.

The hills of Donegal, from Heaven n’ Hell to Mt Errigal, call to us.  We are anxiously awaiting for the the sand to the turf to claim us as the sons and daughters brought home.