Little Citizens of the World


Leave a comment

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.

IMG_0266

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!

IMG_0279

The village of Cobh coming into view.

IMG_0289.JPG

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!

IMG_0316


Leave a comment

“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.

IMG_9964

Map on the wharf

IMG_9999 (2)

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!

IMG_0067

Beautiful Pandanus Palm

IMG_0068 (2)

IMG_0072 (3)

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

IMG_0098.JPG

Ready to sail away.  Goodbye Bermuda!


Leave a comment

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!

IMG_0093

 


Leave a comment

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.

img_9382

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.

img_9398

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!

img_9452


Leave a comment

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!

IMG_9120

IMG_9123 (2)

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

IMG_9135 (2)

IMG_9150 (2)

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

IMG_9154 (2)IMG_9158 (2)IMG_9164 (2)

IMG_9176 (2)

I love my wild roses

IMG_9209IMG_9124 (2)

IMG_9153 (2)

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

IMG_9161 (2)

The Holly berries are starting to turn!!!

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

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!

IMG_3675IMG_3711IMG_3719IMG_3721IMG_3722IMG_3723IMG_3732IMG_3735