Little Citizens of the World


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Cobh, Ireland

Cobh is pronounced ‘cove’.  It was once known as Queenstown, in honour of Queen Victoria.  It was the last place many Irish left from when they came to America in the 1800’s.  It was also the last stop Titanic made when it set off on it’s maiden voyage.  2,206 people were onboard Titanic when she left the docks.  1,517 would never reach New York.

I was up at 4am to see if I could get my first sight of Ireland.  We were just coming up to the mouth of the harbour and you could clearly see the light at Roches Point.

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When I whispered to the kids that I could see Ireland, they actually jumped up out of bed and ran out onto the balcony with me, they were so excited!  I was so glad they were as excited as me, but also surprised as I figured I’d be trying to drag them out of bed in time to meet customs at the designated 6:40am time slot!

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The village of Cobh coming into view.

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By the time we were through customs, had some breakfast and got our luggage lined up in our room, it was about time that our friends were to be meeting us at the train station, literally right in front of the ship.  We went up onto the top decks and saw the 8:24 train just pulling in, and we could actually see the blue coat of the girls little friend, Sula (Soo-la), sitting in the window!

When they got to the gate, we shouted down to them, and they looked around but didn’t look up at the ship. So we counted to three and altogether yelled “SULA!!” and they saw us!  We all waved like crazy, then hurried down to get our bags and disembark.  It took 15 minutes for someone to come get our luggage, which felt like forever.  The girls were so bulked up with their fleece and down coats, etc that they waited on the balcony.  Finally, we were off the ship and it was hugs all around.  Ahhh, welcome home!

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“You can go to Heaven if you want, I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” ~Mark Twain

Our first, and only, stop on this cruise is to Bermuda.  We’ve never been there before, so we were very excited about it.  I had gone on Google Maps to find out what the terminal looked like, and it was a gorgeous spot for photos of the girls.  I had it all planned out, the walking trail around the town and then back on the ship for late lunch.  The night before we arrived, I got the program for the next day in our door slot and realised I’d been googling Grand Bahama!!

Even though I was a bit disappointed by the difference in port (the port on Grand Bahama is picture perfect), it still was very lovely.  It was a little overcast and there was a tiny breeze, but it was perfect for pants and a tshirt.  I had, however, planned on getting good Christmas pictures while there so, unfortunately, every photo I took has the girls faces front and center.  Really, there wasn’t that much to photograph unless we had taken the bus out of the port area and into the town, so you’re not missing much.

We didn’t do any shore excursions, we just spent a few hours walking around the town.  The port area is pretty small and the Clocktower Mall is really the only place to visit.  We went in there and bought a few little souvenirs, then walked back to the ship along a different path.  It was a nice day out and a cute little port town.

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Map on the wharf

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Walking back to the ship past the Clocktower Mall.  You can still see the line in Sparrows hair from when I dyed it blue, when they went to see DanTDM last month!

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Beautiful Pandanus Palm

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This is the only place I was able to get a photo of the whole ship!

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Ready to sail away.  Goodbye Bermuda!


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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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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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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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Trick or Treat!

Halloween was such a blast!  I just love this whole time of year, gearing up for all of the holidays.  We all met up at a friends house and went trick or treating as a group.  What a wonderful night.  When it got dark, we all headed out around the neighbourhood knocking on any door with the front lights on.  I would say about 65% of the neighbourhood had their lights on.  We were out for about a hour and a half before heading back to gather our things to walk back home.  Of course, we trick or treated all the way home, as is the rule.  When we got home, the kids emptied their goodie bags onto the bed to check their haul.  They had tons!  I have to tell you though, I did not recognize a single candy.  Not one.  Europe has it’s own deal when it comes to candy.  They don’t have Hershey’s and the like.  You want m&m’s?  You’re not getting them.  You want a snickers?  Good luck with that.  And besides the differences in candy brands, when it comes to Halloween, they don’t do chocolate.  Nope.  Everything in the girls bags was candy candy.  Gummies and sugar coated lips, gumdrops and little bags of what looked like skittles but weren’t.  There were no “fun sized” butterfingers or kit kats, no reeses cups or milk duds.  Nope.  Nary a one.

It turned out to be a good thing though, because we eat as organic and clean as we can but on Halloween, I always let them go at it.  Well, they had several treats but didn’t like most of them.  They weren’t bothered by it either which was great.  When you’re a kid, Halloween is all about the costume and getting to walk in the street at night!

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Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat!


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Halloween is just 2 weeks away!

We are looking forward to Halloween in a few weeks!  Did you know the Irish invented Halloween?  Not the commercialized American version with costumes and candy and spooky stories.  In Celtic Ireland, it was called Samhain (SAH-win) and marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark, winter months.  It was in these days, that the dead were thought to come back into the world.  Not like the zombies in Walking Dead, no.  We’re talking friendly ancestor spirits here.  They would welcome their spirits back by leaving food out for them and having feasts from the newly brought in harvest.  They also lit bonfires to keep the evil spirits away, hence the modern idea of lighting candles in jack o’ lanterns and leaving them on the front porch.

When Christianity came to Ireland, the church leaders tried to draw the people away from their traditions.  Try as they may, however, they could not do so.  As a result, they did what they always did in those situations, they created a new Christian holiday and put it on top of the pagan one.  I suppose this was a way of making themselves feel better.  So November 1st became known as All Saint’s Day or Hallow’s Day, a day to honor past saints. This made October 31st, Hallow’s eve, eventually becoming Halloween.

Now as much as I love a good history lesson, I’m all about the commercialism when it comes to holidays.  I know, it’s terrible, I should be embarrassed!  As a citizen of the world, I shouldn’t be so material, but when it comes to holidays, I’m as American as they come.  I just can’t help myself.  Any holiday.  Admittedly, the Fall and Winter holidays are my absolute favorite, and Halloween is the gateway.  ) It is the beginning of the whole crazy decoration frenzy that lasts from October to New Years.  In fact, I’ll bet Walmart already has it’s Christmas stuff out!  (I can’t confirm that, but it’s a heck of a good guess, don’t ya think?  I love everything about Halloween.  All the decorations, the dressing up and walking around the neighborhood in the dark with tons of giggling kids.  I love the candy corn and jack o’ lanterns.  I have ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween schedule printed out and ready to go.  I just love it.

Halloween in Ireland is no where near as commercialized as it is in the US but at least they have Halloween.  As much as I loved Australia (and still do) they didn’t have anything to do with Halloween so it was a bit of a let down.  So here in Ireland, there’s a chill in the air, costume shops are opening up in vacant spaces and kids are getting excited.  We are trick or treating with some friends in their lovely little neighborhood.  In the meantime, why not try out a few costumes to see which one will bring in the most sweets!

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Main street shop that recently opened up

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Practicing

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And more practicing