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.

 

Lasts leading to firsts: Play ball! Our first day of our last season of baseball and softball

Play Ball!  In the States, it is that time of year that reminds me of green grass, lines of lime on a clay field, eye black,  peanuts, soft pretzels, and cow tails. You can never forget the snow cones! Grape’s more favorite but Cherry’s favorite too! (click the hyperlink please 😉 )  There’s chatter in the fields as well as chatter at the fence line. No matter how in depth your conversation with your fence line BFF may be , you always saw your kid’s great play.  In summation, it’s the best time of the year.

Today was our local littler league baseball and softball organizations try outs.  I love seeing the parents and children again.  The exclamations of “I can’t believe how much they’ve grown since last season” are heard on repeat.  The time waiting for your kids age group to be up is just extra social time with friends enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere together. I love it all.

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Odd to know that this will be our last season here.  I am excited to get involved in Gaelic Athletic Association’s various sports.  I look forward to my kids being involved on the field and me on the sideline.  No quicker way to make friends than on a football pitch!  Be that as it may, there is no doubt that we will also play baseball/softball when we move. But it won’t be the same.  Baseball is such iconic americana that has not quite caught on as well in Ireland.  Ah well, that’s what back yards and satellite tv are for, we will just have to make sure that we have plenty of peanuts and Cracker Jacks on hand!

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Lunch duty, baseball, karate, pink hair, and Chinese food: just another Saint Patrick’s day or Kiss me I’m Irish (ish)

If I received a residual check for every time someone said to me “It must be Saint Patrick’s day every day in your home.  I can’t imagine what the actual day is like for you all.”, I would be a very rich woman.  Wouldn’t that be grand? 🙂

The truth of it would bore most people.  We are the parents of 3 children. We don’t go mad on the beer or whisky on Saint Patrick’s day.  To be honest, we didn’t do anything special at all this year.

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Kiss me I’m Irish ish!!

My day started at the elementary school as I had volunteered to help with lunch duty.  The school is in the midst of the dreaded PARCC testing, therefore the need arose for the parents to rise to the occasion and help out. The lunch room was a sea of green as children live in mortal fear of being pinched!! The outfits were from the mundane green t shirt to a girl who had a headband with green white and gold curls tumbling off of it!   My own Molly-Ann was in the mundane category but meh we are Irish she had nothing to prove 😉  She was thrilled to bits to see me at her school .  I received a lot of hugs and kisses while her class was in the lunch room.  It was fun seeing the neighborhood kids that I have known for years.  They really do get excited to see outside people in the middle of their school day.  You have to love the joy that they still have for being in school and greeting people.

From my youngest’s school I was off to my eldest’s first scrimmage baseball game of the season.  I must admit that I had to choke back tears as this is his last season.  How in the world is my baby almost 18 years old and off to university in a few short months??  It was a beautiful sunny, crisp, and rather windy day.  Perfect baseball weather.  It was so good to pick up baseball conversations with mums that we had dropped off last Spring.

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My favorite Warrior!

Time was short so I had to leave early from Tommy’s game and was off to pick up Malachy for his Karate class.  He had his first class last week and is loving it.  The discipline and self confidence he is gaining is already apparent.  Sure I may be running a lot between counties, but it is well worth it.  It helps that his beloved uncle, Dave, is a black belt instructor at the school as well as two of his dearest friends, Luke and Kendrick, are fellow students 🙂

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Malachy is all in black facing his opponent.

While Malachy was practicing martial arts, Molly and I visited with Gayle and Mari.  The girls were a whirlwind of activity.  They skipped from playing Halo to dumpster diving for flowers at the florist at the back of the property!  They were so pleased to present Gayle and myself with their beautiful finds ❤

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Molly-Ann had changed out of her green by this time to be a princess         warrior!

My dear friend, Gayle,  and I took advantage of the girls being otherwise occupied and dyed my hair.  Perhaps I am in the midst of a mid life crisis, but Radiant Orchid highlights seemed like a rather fun idea.  We talked about serious topics, came up with the plan for world peace … that would work if given a chance… but then all was forgotten when Gayle was rinsing out my hair.  Apparently she thought that my chest and shoulder was in desperate need of a shower!!  Goodness, I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.  I am quite sure that her teenaged daughter was questioning our sanity. My g-d it is good to really laugh with a dear friend.  Paybacks a b#Tch, Gayle.  It’s your turn on Thursday!  🙂

She looks a little Too happy!  This was taken before she attacked me with water, I should have recognized that glint in her eyes!!
She looks a little Too happy! This was taken before she attacked me with water, I should have recognized that glint in her eyes!!

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As grand as it was to have the craic with Gayle, all good things come to an end. The hair dying was completed and Malachy was ready to be picked up.  We came home to eat a very traditional Saint Patricks meal of … Chinese take away.  Traditions are wonderful.  Ronan and myself love preparing traditional meals that he grew up with and sharing with our children the customs of our culture.  Be that as it may there are days that our children our more important than our holidays.  Tonight I will make a nice Irish meal with Irish chocolate for desserts.  The day is not as important as is the importance of our family and friends.

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Ronan and I being Ronan and I 😉

Lasts leading to Firsts : Malachy’s (not Malachi’s) last stateside birthday

My poor middle child has been saddled with a name that he has had to constantly correct people’s pronunciation on, politely I must add. I blame Frank McCourt. If I hadn’t read Angela’s Ashes shortly before he was conceived, I would not have been charmed by the name. If not for this twist of fate, he would not have had to, from an early age, learn to say “Actually my name is Malachy, like a key, but you can call me Mal”.

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My sweet Malachy just had a birthday a few days ago.  His last birthday before becoming a teenager also happens to be the last birthday he will celebrate in the US.  We were able to celebrate at home with ice-cream cake, family, and a small group of his friends.  I must ask, when in the world did Middle school children get so loud?? There were only 3 of them over as guests but I was scared that the police were going to be called in for breaking several noise ordinances in our area.  😉

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The weather cooperated with us for the entertainment, thankfully.  It has been quite snowy in the midatlantic region of the US this winter, as you may have heard or experienced yourself.  While it was not snowing on the day of Malachy’s party, there was plenty of snow on the ground for a massive snow ball fight.  I wish I had pictures but we lived in the moment and enjoyed watching the kids and *ahem* some adults enjoy in the terror of snow!  I don’t want to say that this was instigated by my husband, but I would be lying if I said that he had not.  Not sure if my big fella will ever grow up completely, but he is great craic the way he is ( and a great daddy) so I don’t want him to change.  shhh! Don’t let him know, the head is big enough as it is already. ❤

It was such a joy to see my wee boy enjoying his day so much.  He doesn’t always know it but he has the key to my heart.

Look out! She’s got a ticket to ride (to Ireland)

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We couldn’t resist flying home on Aer Lingus. Bring on the 22nd of June!

Gulp! We purchased our tickets to Ireland this week.  Things are certainly moving quickly from a theoretical move to the magical land of Ronan’s childhood to the reality that we are really moving our family to Ireland in just 16 weeks time.  To say that we must be excited is an understatement.

Items on my to do list that seemed to be too far in the future to start checking off are now being completed.  It’s the items that still remain to be done that are giving me palpitations!

These next few weeks that we have left in the states will be packed full of to do list items, friends, family, cleaning, packing, paperwork, tears, and laughter. (Could it also include my losing approximately a gazillion pounds … sigh stress eater here! 😉 ) We are living the dichotomy of both wanting the next few weeks to fly by so that we can join our loved ones in Ireland (and England) while simultaneously wanting to hold on to every precious moment with the ones we love at home.

I thank G-d for my friends here and abroad.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

C. S. Lewis

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!