Little Citizens of the World


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March Madness

It’s been crazy around here lately!  We’re getting ready for our cruise back to Ireland, getting our house completely packed up so we can rent it, trying to get a rental in Ireland, and preparing for a feis (an Irish dance competition. pronounced – fesh).

I’m pretty OCD about everything, so I’ve been non stop for the last 3 months.  I’m exhausted!

There was a slight problem, when the cruise consultant noticed the girls passports would expire before the ship left.  I knew it was 2017, but that seemed so far away!  So I had to rush both applications because we were requesting special permission from customs to get off the ship in Ireland, rather than complete the cruise and disembark in another country.  We were approved, that was a huge relief.  The cruise terminal is directly across from the Cobh Heritage Center, and only about 20 minutes from Cork City, where we’ll be staying.  It would have been so stressful (and extremely expensive) if we had to disembark elsewhere and travel across other countries to get back to where we had been only days earlier!

As for our house, I had always planned on using it as a summer rental, fully furnished and ready to go.  After thinking about it and going over and over it, I decided it would be too much to monitor from outside the US.  Although I would have used a property manager, who’s to say things wouldn’t be missed or broken and then what do you do?  Especially when the turnover is weekly.  It was too much for me to think about.  So I’ve decided to rent out on a yearly basis, which will be less money, but a lot easier on my nerves.

Year round rentals are unfurnished, so I’ve been furiously trying to get everything packed back up.  We’ve been here less than a year, and  I can’t believe how much crap I have!  Where did it all come from?  I’ve purchased some industrial shelving for the basement, and lots of storage totes.  In fact, I placed an order for what I thought was a reasonable amount of totes back in January.  Then I placed another order for the same amount.  Then another!  Finally, I went to the store and bought 3 times what I had been ordering.  I think I’ll have enough smaller sized totes, but I’m probably going to need at least 5 or 6 more 50 gallon totes for bedding and towels.  We love pillows in our family, so yeah, we’re gonna need more totes!

We’ve just, in the last few days, not only been accepted for a rental house in Ireland, but it’s in the neighbourhood of my dreams!   I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find something in this area.  Openings are very, very rare.  When I was speaking with the letting agent, he mentioned he had spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard, and when he heard it was my home town, he said he wanted to help me out if he could.  Everyone had been so kind to him when he was there, he wanted to give back.  Serendipity.

Sky and Sparrow, who have been Irish dancing for a few years now, are dancing several times a week this month as we celebrate our Irishness with the insanity that is March Madness.  It’s like St. Patrick’s Day every weekend around here!  Lots of pubs, hotels, etc are having celebrations and what’s an Irish party without Irish dancers!

They also had their final American feis this month.  They did great, there were medals all around and I’m so proud of their hard work.  From now on, they’ll be feisin’ in Ireland!

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Fostering Puppies

The kids have always wanted a dog, what child doesn’t, but because we travel, a pet just isn’t a possibility right now.  However, the idea that we could foster was a revelation, and I immediately called a local rescue on the Vineyard to see if there was any need for foster families.  There was!  After a very impatient week, we took in a mama and her 2 insane puppies.  Mama was brought to the Cape from a high kill shelter in Arkansas, and was absolutely terrified.  Her puppies were typical licky, jumpy, pee on the floor, crazy.  We had a pen for the puppies, and Mama had a bed nearby so she could get some peace.  It was tragic to see Mama with her tail tucked and her head held low all the time, but after a few days, she did start to relax a teeny bit.

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Walking the 3 of them was like some kind of nightmare I can’t even describe.  I had Mama’s lead and the girls each had a puppy.  Within seconds of walking out the front door, the puppies had crossed paths, gone behind the kids, between myself and Mama and thoroughly tied everyone in a knot.  Oblivious to their predicament, they continued to try and make a run for the driveway.  This continued for the entire walk down to the beach (approx. 15 minutes away) and back.  The girls tried their best to swoop and dive over and under each others lead as the puppies ran back and forth.  We managed to get there and back without any major injury and I concluded that, in future, the puppies would be walked separately.  This was also a plus for Mama as she could go alone with the girls and walk without tripping over leads, and pee without one baby jumping on her face and the other trying to sniff her bum.  I honestly felt her pain as a mother on that first walk.

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The babies have a bit of Jack Russell in them, so besides being energetic because they’re puppies, they are super charged.  My brother came over and fenced in a portion of the backyard so they could run, which was a lifesaver!  (I had expected the puppies to be only a few weeks old and do a lot of sleeping)  Thankfully, I didn’t have to get up in the night to take them out, they were paper trained, but when they figured out how to escape the pen, and did their business all over my new rug, then walked through it, climbed/jumped (?) over the baby gate and came upstairs, the fun was over.

Puppies went outside while I cleaned.  Mama, who had always been too afraid to climb the stairs, had followed her babies up, and was now stuck.  Sparrow and Sky took turns sitting with her on the landing for 3 hours until my brother could come over and carry her down.

I had messaged the shelter on the Vineyard at 6:10am, while scrubbing my carpet, to let them know, it just wasn’t going to work out anymore.  Once the puppies figured out how to jail break their pen AND the baby gate, it was too out of control for this OCD mama to handle.  So as sad as it was to watch them go after only 7 days, we brought them down to the ferry the next day, and they went to another foster family.  I still miss Mama a lot, but I know she’ll be happier with a true dog person.  I really lean more in the cat direction..

It was a great experience for us though, and I really think that anyone on the fence about adopting a pet, should foster first, that way there are no regrets!

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Third time’s the charm, right?

We are headed back to Ireland in April!  Our plan has always been to stay long term, but little glitches here and there have kept us from realizing our dream.  This time, however, I am hopeful that with a little extra paper work and several international phone calls we will be successful in our wild pursuit of Irish living.

We will be cruising, as always, but on a new line this time.  This time, we will be taking a Princess cruise.  As you may have read in my past posts, we absolutely LOVE Holland America Line, but they don’t get us close enough to the British Isles.  We have taken Queen Mary in the past and experienced the worst cruising possible, as you may also have read.  So although they are the most convenient to us, it’s not going to happen.

I am really excited to see what Princess cruising is like, but also apprehensive, as  I like to know what to expect ahead of time.  (Seriously, I Google Street Map my way through a new area before I go there, so I feel more familiar with it when I get there!)   I think I’m just a little wary due to our problems with Queen Mary II.

We’ll be staying in Cork City, our favourite place in the world, and we’re already planning all the places we’ll be visiting as soon as we get there.  The kids want to go to Fitzgerald Park and the city library, I can’t wait to go to the The Natural Foods Bakery (oh my gosh, their spelt hummous sandwiches!!) and Waterstones bookstore. And of course, we are desperate to see all of our friends again!

The previous two times we’ve been to Ireland, we’ve arrived in late summer/early autumn, and been back in the States by Christmas.  This time we get to spend spring and summer there!  I’m really looking forward to being there in different seasons, although the temperature in spring and summer is not much different than that of autumn!!

So we are planning and planning, I know it’s still 8 months away, but we have so much to do to get our house ready for rental season next summer.  Because we just bought our house, there are a lot of things we have to do immediately, rather than as needed, like we would do if we were staying in our home long term.  We’ve had to spend quite a bit at the garden center, so the yard will look nice come next spring.  I also have to consider having irrigation put in.  That’s not an expense I was anticipating.  Right now, we are going through a heat wave and everything is so dry.  Most of my neighbours have given up on watering their yards, which are now as brown and crunchy as overdone chocolate chip cookies.  Because I’ve got new plantings, I have to water everyday, early in the morning and after the sun goes down.  My sprinkler is on close to 8 hours a day.  I don’t want to know what my water bill is going to look like.

We have the last of our furniture being delivered early next week and, hopefully, that will be the end of big purchases for a while.  I’m hoping to spend most of September and October going through boxes in the basement, many of them have been packed up since before our Australia trip in 2012!

So that’s what’s happening in our lives right now, it’s all go as usual!

If any of you have taken a Princess cruise, I’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment, or a link to your blog post!  In the meantime, enjoy some photos from the garden today!

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The Butterfly Weed for the Monarchs is forming tall seed pods.

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Bees are incredibly difficult to photograph, they’re all over the place.  Busy bees indeed!

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I love my wild roses

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One of three resident bunnies that have been feasting on our new plantings.

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The Holly berries are starting to turn!!!

 

 

 

 


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Leaving Home for Home

Leaving the Vineyard is always a bit sad.  The girls miss it so much, and even though we are just across the sound on the Cape, it’s a world away.  We had a great time at the fair, but it’s time to head back to our house, and continue to unpack and sift though all the boxes I have yet to open.  It’s strange to now live on the Cape instead of the island, but we’re making it work, and enjoying our new neighbourhood.

We took the freight boat back, and watched the Vineyard slowly drift away.

Until next time…

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Let’s go to the fair!

On the third weekend in August, on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard, the air is tingling with the thrill of the annual Agricultural Fair.  This year was the 115th fair and it didn’t disappoint. There are only 2 occasions where we have missed the Ag Fair, and that’s when we were out of the country.  I have pictures of Sparrow at her first fair when she was 3 months old!

Originally, the fair was 3 days, but due to the massive summer crowds, they’ve expanded to 4 days.  Friday night is fireworks night, so to encourage more people to the fairgrounds, and discourage deserters to the fireworks, bracelets are sold for $25 a piece, ensuring the wearer free, unlimited rides from 6pm – 10pm.  This is, of course, much more cost effective if you have children that go mental and ride everything they make the height cut off for over and over and over.  Most of the rides are $5 a piece, and when 2 kids can ride close to 70 rides between 6 and 10, the bracelet is a god send.

The organised chaos of the rides, the jubilant crowds, the sounds from the barn, the beckoning smells from the food booths, it all makes for an overwhelming feast for the senses.

We arrived clean, fresh and full of anticipation at about 4:30pm and left filthy, exhausted and completely satisfied at 11pm.  Everyone needed a shower before bed, you just can’t get 6.5 hours worth of dust off with a sponge bath.  Sky and Sparrow were both asleep before I got out of the shower.  All in all, another successful year at the MV Ag. Fair!

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Seal Release!

We went to Scusset Beach in Sagamore this evening to see 3 seals released.  The release was part of the National Marine Life Center of Buzzards Bay’s rehab program.   It was fantastic!  We went a few hours early so the kids could play and at around 7pm, the seals were carried down to the shore in large dog crates.  A huge crowd gathered around as close to the taped off line as possible, and everyone stood frozen with anticipation as the 3 staff members each opened the crates simultaneously.  Everyone held their breath, expecting the seals to take off towards the water, but they didn’t.  They sort of came out slowly, had a look around, gave each other a sniff, looked around some more, then tried to head back up to the beach.  The staff members held  boards to block them from the crowds and beach and, eventually, they wandered casually into the surf.  They goofed off for a bit a few feet offshore, then decided they wanted to come in again.  So the staff again got their boards out and tried to keep the crowd (that had thinned by now) back and let the seals explore.  We were there watching for about 2 hours after the release, and because the seals didn’t go far from shore, the staff had to stay until it was quite dark, just to make sure none of the spectators got too close.  I spoke with one of the staffers, and she said they will probably come up onto the beach for the night, and maybe go through the Cape Cod Canal towards Chatham.  It was a great experience, the kids really enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit.

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Ready for the release!

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Hundreds of spectators turned out.

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After a quick swim, they decided it was time to come back on shore.


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House buying

So, as soon as I wrote the title, I thought I’d better change it to ‘Home buying’, because it not only sounds better, it’s what people actually say.  It sounds more natural, more personal.  I left it the way I wrote it originally because, for me, this is just a means to an end and, subconsciously, I don’t think I’m feeling the attachment.  Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY happy to be buying a house for my family, and feel truly grateful to be able to do that, but my greatest desire is to get back to Ireland as soon as financially possible.

We have had most of our life in storage since 2012, when we went to Australia, and it will be wonderful to see all of those goodies again.  I’m sure most of it will go to donations as there will be tons of clothes that are years too small and toys that will also be long outgrown.  But it will be lovely to see our things again.  I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination.  I want, as Maureen O’Hara says in the film The Quiet Man, “my own things about me”.  I can’t wait to get all of those boxes out of storage and go through them, finding places to put them, it will be fantastic.

However, the house we are putting an offer in, is small at 1300 sqft.  That may not be small to some, but it is for someone who has, about 11,000 sqft of stuff!  I can’t wait to get settled and just take a huge deep breath.  It won’t last long though, I want to get it ready to be rented out by summer of 2017, so we can get back to Ireland.  Why did I buy a house on Cape Cod just to leave it for Ireland?  Because although my heart belongs to Ireland, my family live on Martha’s Vineyard, and this will give us the security of knowing there will always be a place for us close to home, if we need it.