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Sometimes the sun does shine in Ireland. And sometimes it shines so bright that it even warms up enough to get out the water hose and go crazy. Despite waking up with a migraine-like headache and scratchy throat yesterday, I manager to recover by 3 and got a chance to enjoy the sun with the kids…

For the record, Reagan has grown 7 inches since we moved in March, 2011. I think Caitlin has grown 4 inches, 1 of them in the past two months. My two and four year old look like they are 3 and 6!

Sunshining again today, let’s see if it reaches 70 again…

~L

This evening’s activity found us writing a letter to Santa. Or rather, mommy doing all the writing and Bug/Muffin dictating what needed to be said. Well, mommy had to ask some question as well, so a little investigative journalism perhaps?

The letter went something like this:

Dear Santa,

We have been very good girls this year. We also moved to Ireland, we hope you can find us. Bug would like a dolly with a yellow shirt. Muffin would like a Winne-A-Pooh. Mommy & Daddy would like some peace and quiet.

Please tell Rudolph & Frosty “hi!” for us!

XO, Bug & Muffin

Letter to Santa

Let the activities continue!

December 6th found us coloring holiday themed pictures. I was able to find online pictures from ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’, and they were a hit. Bug selected her colors quickly (red/green and then shades of purple/pink) and went to work. Muffin was busy trying to figure out how to color with two hands at once. Both had an immense amount of fun.

While catching up on blogs via Google Reader yesterday, I came across an idea I just love, an Activity Advent. After telling Jack about it, we agreed that we wanted to have our own activity advent with the girls this December, even if we are starting a few days late. So today we begin and I will try to post daily what our activities are.

Today found us heading over to Hanley’s at the Kinsale Roundabout to see what they had for festive decorations and to see a man about a live tree. We went into the main shop first and Bug immediately tried to mount a large polar bear that was in the window. Sorry, kiddo, not spending 400 euros on a fake polar bear for the play room. She and Muffin were were soon distracted by the lit trees and other ‘decorations! as she loves to declare. Of course they also tried to pick up every fragile item in the shop.

At the back of the shop we discovered aquariums and live fish! The girls spent 15 minutes exclaiming that they had found Nemo and pointing out which fish they wanted. It was quite a task to pull them away to head to the seasonal shop.

As we approached the seasonal shop we saw many live trees outside. Unfortunately the top half of most of them looked much like Charlie Brown’s tree. Thin and sparse. So inside we went to evaluate fake trees. We finally settled on a skinny, but full tree that we think will fit perfectly within our limited space in the living room. The kids then proceeded to try and take apart the store, along with every other child in the shop. Much excitement was had.

We left the shop with a few ornaments, Pooh for Muffin and Princesses for Bug, and some Winnie the Pooh lights that they can add to the tree.

Jack will actually pick up the tree tomorrow, when the kids are not running circles around us, and tree decorating will be our next activity!

I hope you enjoy following along with us during our 24 days of Christmas 🙂

XO,
~L

Oops! Took a bit of a hiatus there. However now checking in from Columbus, Ohio. We are now home for two weeks visiting family and friends. It’s a nice break to be around all things familiar, although driving is bait weird for me, I truly am used to driving on the “other” side of the road now.

Before we left Cork, Caitlin met Angelina Ballerina:

So happy!

She’s been in the class for about 2 months now and just loves it. When we head back the next semester starts and we continue through until her birthday. Then she moves up a level!

Reagan is still a bit young for such classes, but enjoys the alone time at home without a big sister in her way 🙂

Speaking of Reagan, she does everything Caitlin does, or tries to, whether it be good or bad. It’s cute, but also means sometimes we have TWO crazies running around the house. She speaks in many sentences and is picking up new words daily. We have to watch what we say around her more than I think we ever did with Caitlin. She is a sponge.

And perhaps my most exciting news, just before we arrived on Wednesday, I became an aunt! My brother and SIL had their first on Monday. I was so excited to meet little Calvin on Thursday afternoon. He is just adorable, despite being a spitting image of my brother 😉 We really look forward to moving back early in 2013 and getting to spend more and more time with him. I am hopeful that he and the girls grow up to be very close. They’ll all be fairly close in age, which I think will help. We’ll move back at just the right age for him to learn all the bad habits for Crazy and Crazier!

OK, kids are restless, must find breakfast soon.

Post again soon 🙂

~L

Someone stole her big sister’s jean jacket…

As we rapidly approach the three month mark, it seems we have finally hit our stride to some extent. The first 4 weeks were clearly the hardest. We were living with rented furniture, not TV, no internet, and just what we were able to cram into the 11 suitcases we brought with us. And while 11 sounds like a lot, when it’s a family of 4 and includes kids clothes, parents clothes, 2 suitcases of toys and then bed linens that are familiar to the kids… well, you run out of space in those suitcases quickly.

We had Sky satellite TV sometime around week 3, I believe, using a leased TV. That made us feel somewhat normal. Then exactly 4 weeks to the day after parting way with our personal items, they arrived here. We were never happier to see our own beds and furniture. It did take 6+ weeks to get internet, and that is a fiasco I hope to never relive. Anyone that ever complains to me again about Time Warner or Cox needs to go live outside the US for awhile. The sales VP here told me it took him 9 or 10 weeks to get TV and internet, apparently this is not uncommon.

The car was another fiasco and we had 3 other cars before finally getting the car we were supposed to have.Leasing is not common in Ireland these days, especially not to individuals and not after the economy crash. I was finally able to get a long term rental for our time here, but we were given a lemon, followed by a loaner for a week that we had for something like 3 weeks, and then finally the car we have now, a Hyundai Santa Fe. This is a large car for the area, but I am finding that given the average family size around here, larger cars are not uncommon. I think every other person drives a Nissan Qashqai (bet you had ot go look that one up!)

Grocery shopping and lack of convenient food has probably taken the most getting used to. I know of 2 drive-thrus in the entire Cork area. They are not even on opposite corners of an intersection, they are probably 15 miles apart (I know, I should have calculated in kms 😉 ). I suppose this is a good thing, one more step closer to healthier eating. Pizza can be delivered, and Dominos is clearly a presence (just look at our Flickr from the first days here), however most people prefer 4 Star Pizza locally. And while it is good, none of them are what we are used to from the US. That said, when it’s Friday evening and we don’t feel like cooking we don’t hesitate to call. All in all we are cooking more. Jack is cooking all day long since he is still home with the girls. It is pushing us ot look at more meal options and healthier living. The problem is getting to the food before it goes bad…

People in Ireland shop daily it seems, or every few days. We learned quickly to check the ‘use by’ date on everything we were buying because after the first or second trip we were realizing the food was spoiling quickly. Preservatives are not used as liberally as it is in the US and neither is high fructose corn syrup (real sugar for the win!) And while I don’t object to either of these things by any means, it takes a bit of adjustment. I now find myself at Tesco on the way home from work quite often grabbing something for dinner that night or lunches the next day. We also find ourselves cooking from scratch more as things we take for granted (Bisquik) do not exist here. Honestly, I want to take every one that visits grocery shopping with me just so they can experience it and how different it seems. Don’t even get me started on the lack of freezers and how small the refrigerators are… adapt, adapt, adapt.

Despite all the differences, we find so much that is like well as home. We just can’t get hung up on the change. That would be a recipe for disaster. Having the amazing neighbors we do has really helped us settle as well. They all have kids between the ages of 2 and 5, which works out great with our two. Weather permitting, which was more often than not when we first arrived, you will often find 3 – 7 kids out front of our houses running around like crazy, parents looking on, talking away, occasionally running off to catch a kid. It’s pretty fantastic.

I’m sure i have more to say and share, but wanted to give a little insight to our stay so far. Now that life is normalizing I hope to post more often, as does Jack, but you have to go find him at . trust me, that is worth a visit.

Until next time, go check out our Flickr site! If you can’t see our pictures, just add me as a contact and I will more than likely approve you (Flickr, free and easy to sign up!)

xo,
Liz

TALES OF DANGER BABY: Chapter CDLXXXIX: Today Danger Baby decided that everything Princess Crazy Preschooler tried to play with was in fact, property of Danger Baby…items that included all toys, diapers, clothes, and Daddy.

In addition, Daddy’s two precious little angels have not stopped screaming at him all day. I’m going to record them and then start a speed metal band called Stereo Temper Tantrums.

It has been decided that the 14 month old’s new name is…Danger Baby. We have to make her a red, white, and blue jumpsuit before she attempts to jump any gorges. Right now, she’s content with simply trying to kill herself via leaps off the couch and standing upright on wobbly chairs.

As Danger Baby attempts to maim herself, I will do my best to chronicle her exploits in a fashion worthy of my decades of comic book reading.

TALES OF DANGER BABY: Chapter CDLXXXVII… picture a father, one man, alone. Picture this father who has just changed a diaper, a man who has washed his hands and is now grabbing clothes to place on his child. Picture this father returning to the room where he left the baby a mere 27 seconds prior only to find… NAKED BABY waving her diaper in the air like Wonder Woman’s golden lariat before initiating a 5 minute chase all over the house. Danger Baby strikes again.

I don’t even know where to start as I begin to blog again, so how about day 1 in Ireland. Or even the travel on the way here? I would certainly love to brag that my children behaved better than I ever even could have wished on all three flights.

We left Columbus around 3 in the afternoon and took our first flight to Chicago. Caitlin mostly watched a movie on my iPad, Reagan slept on daddy. Any adult on the plane concerned about screaming children were quickly assured that our children would not be their issue. It was a fantastic feeling. Caitlin sipped her juice and told me all about Horton. Arrival in Chicago was on time (!!!) and we had more than enough time to find out gate and grab some food for the kids knowing they would not eat whatever was to be served on the long flight. You know, the flight I feared more than anything with two kids 3 and under.

Chicago airport itself took its toll on my patience. Caitlin and Reagan wanted to run around, and who could blame them? Lots of space and, unbeknownst to them, they were about to be on a plane for 7 hours. Jack and I did our best to manage them and not lose our minds. Once again fearful adults about to board the overnight flight with us were looking a bit concerned. Even more so when we got on the plane and Caitlin had a little meltdown. She didn’t want to be on another plane. The woman next to us gave me a “look”. Fortunately they had screwed up Reagan’s seat and Jack ended up with three seats in a row and I managed a trade to be across the aisle from him. He sat with the kids initially and then “Woody” the flight attendant brought Caitlin snacks and talked about Toy Story. All was well in the world again.

We took off, had a drink, watched Horton again and soon the girls were fast asleep… and that was that. For 7 hours the girls slept and we dozed. Food came and went and the girls never stirred. We arrived in Manchester and then endured airport hell again. Maneuver through one terminal, catch a bus to another terminal, walk through a maze, stop at a desk to check in for security, wait the waiting room for security entry as they would only take 6 people at a time. Go through security, go through customs in the UK for Ireland (confusing) and then go to the gate and walk directly onto the plane as it took the entirety of the layover to get there. While Jack and I were a bit irritated again as waiting around in lines at security with small children is no fun, we did walk straight onto the plane and headed right off to Cork. Once again I sat with Caitlin and watched Horton (yes I have it memorized), Reagan slept on daddy yet again. Clearly daddy is her sleep number (oops, stole Jack’s joke!)

Such a quick flight, we were there before we knew it and ready to collect our 12 suitcases, pack ‘n play and car seat (the other car seat was with us on the plane). Fifteen pieces of luggage no problem… or was it? The good news was immigration was expecting me, the man at the desk was extremely pleasant and knew who we were so we were through quickly. What we didn’t realize is that customs (duh!) was after the baggage claim and therefore we had to get two kids and 15 pieces of luggage rolled out before the taxi driver could meet us. Thankfully a customs agent came to help us (since we can’t leave bags unattended) and we somehow made it using a series f what felt like circus maneuvers.

The taxi driver was told we had many bags, but I’m not sure he believed it until he saw us. He couldn’t believe we had 4 trolleys of luggage. That said, it all fit fine in the vehicle we bought and we were soon on our way to our new home sweet home.

Moira, my contact from Irish relocation, met us at the airport and then at the house to check us in and get us settled. She was a godsend. She had even bought us some initial groceries knowing it was lunch time and we were likely all starving (did I mention it was now 11am the next day in Cork). We fed the kids, let them explore the house (as did Jack) and then I tried not to panic as Caitlin locked herself in a room. What’s the first day without an adventure?!

All the rooms in the new house have skeleton keys that lock and unlock them and each room as its own key. They were all in the doors when we arrived and now are not 🙂 Caitlin had walked into a bedroom, discovered the key in the door on the INSIDE, closed the door, locked it and took the key out. Jack spent what felt like an eternity coaching her to get the key back into the lock and turn it. She kept only putting the key half in or not turning it the whole way. I was sent away so that she would listen and not hear me freaking out and think it was a game. Fair enough.

After the adventure I left to attempt to open a bank account with Moira’s assistance, Jack and the kids stayed home and took naps. Yes, I was very envious. After an hour of trying with eth bank to open an account (more drama than worth noting) Moira and I called it a day so |I could get home and relax. It was 4pm and I was exhausted. I quickly contacted people to let them know we’d arrived safely and then immediately started looking for food delivery options so we could have food brought to us that evening. Pizza it was!

Pizza and sleep. Just what the doctor had ordered and a great way to wrap up day 1. Especially since the next day found me picking up a car, in the snow, and driving on eth left hand side of the road!

More soon…

~Liz