Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Independent

Before we begin, welcome to Spring!


In case anyone has figured it out yet from my experiences, being an expat is hard. It's one thing to study abroad as a student, knowing that you're in a temporary experience and will soon return to the familiar. It is something completely different to make the conscious decision to make living in another country your reality. It is exciting to start from scratch and learn an entirely new system of living and working. But that's not to say it isn't one of the most challenging things you'll ever do either.

I am so blessed to have the Scarecrow in my life. As much as I've always been fascinated by Ireland I don't think I would have ever made the decision to live here permanently if it weren't for him. He makes living here infinitely easier for me. He understands our insurance. He knows where to go to get the car fixed. He understands jokes, slang, and hot topics that would fly over the head of anyone who hasn't lived here their entire life. And I have finally realized that I have come to use him as a crutch. Sometimes I worry that I won't get it right; that I'll say the wrong thing. And so we go together. Certainly that's what marriage is about, working together as a team. But we need to learn that I can handle it.

A couple of weeks ago the Scarecrow heard about a meteorology and monitoring symposium to be held in Galway on the radio. Since I subscribe to the list serve of the Irish Meteorological Society I'd heard about it but hadn't thought much of it. He asked me if I was planning to go. I had assumed when I first heard that I would have to work, we would have some other activity planned, etc. But when I realized my weekend was free I decided what the heck!

We had toyed around with the idea of the Scarecrow coming along, hanging out in the city or maybe golfing with a friend. But when none of those ideas panned out we realized how silly it would be for him to tag along when he would be much happier at home. This seems a little ridiculous given that I'm a grown and capable woman, but I was a nervous to DRIVE by myself, navigate the city, figure out where to go, and be comfortable in a setting where I knew absolutely no one. And I think the Scarecrow was nervous too. That's when I realized that I have allowed him to become my security blanket. Of course I need to rely on my husband. Naturally he is my greatest support and cheerleader. But I can't be afraid to do things on my own.

I have no idea how people make such a transition on their own, without a "native tour guide" like I've been blessed with. These people are certainly braver than I can ever be. But my new goal is to take more opportunities to stretch and do my own thing without the Scarecrow there to take the lead.

I leave you with your Irish tid bit. Everyone loves a good flash mob, especially when it's local! For some perspective, the Scarecrow works just next to this airport.




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Readjusting

This is more of a plea for help/advice post. You may recall from my last post that I was most worried about the Scarecrow and Toto adjusting to the new flat. Turns out that it's Maybelle that I should have been concerned with. She has NOT been adjusting as well as I thought she would have. I thought that she would have been happy anywhere, as long as she was with us. She'd been pretty mopey apparently when she was left at our previous residence. But now she's developed all sorts of nasty habits.

For example, the first night we brought her over she whimpered, whined and barked in the living room from her bed and wouldn't relax unless I was in the room. So I spent her first night sleeping on the couch. I've had to do it one other night as well. She's gotten better about that the past few nights so I've been able to enjoy the comfort of my own large, luxurious mattress.

Next, Scarecrow walked in and found Maybelle chilling on the sofa that is not strictly ours. No good. I went into town today and experimented with the good ol' tin foil on the couch trick. And I can verify that it did indeed work. So for extended trips outside the house there is now a long strip of tin foil that will be gracing our sofa. So there's 2 bad habits knocked out of the sweet pup.

Bad habit #3, taking food off of the counter. She has a track record with this from her half-starved rescue dog phase. She once ate an entire loaf of bread and half a tub of butter. No wonder she's on a diet now. But today Toto forgot her breakfast on the counter and let's just say it wasn't there for long after. I think the only thing to really do here is for us to not leave appealing foods for her on the counter.

The habit that is currently distressing me the most is her inability to do her business outside during her walks. She's had a couple of major accidents inside and it seems as though she's just holding it in until she can't wait anymore. And that seems to generally occur when we are out of the house and she can't be taken outside. We walk her at least twice a day, generally along the same route in order for her to get comfortable. She has done the deed in the pebble half of our patio and so I was hoping that it would become her "spot" where she could smell her territory. Today I even took some of her, ahem, presents and put them outside in the pebbles in the hopes that she would realize that this is where it should go. I generally think that she'd much rather be inside with us or walk with us that she's putting off this basic function.

So besides getting her to go where she's supposed to go I am also wanting to find ways to keep her entertained during the day. Between Scarecrow, Toto and myself we are generally out of the house anywhere from 6-8 hours a day. I feel terrible that all she's doing is lying around all day long. And so I'm trying to research ways to keep her somewhat occupied during the day.

I'm sorry if this seems like rambling, but I am really worried about this sweet girl. I don't see the point of having a pet unless you're going to responsibly take care of that pet. And so, dear pet owner friends, I'm appealing for any tips, suggestions or advice. How can I help my country dog become an apartment dog and be happy about it?

Maybelle was a great comfort to me when I first moved here. She gave me someone to love when I felt alone during the day when the Scarecrow was at work. I want to be a comfort for her now.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Return of the Twister

The Twister has come again. This time it's swept the Scarecrow, Toto and this ruby slippered girl into an adorable 2 bedroom flat right in the area we wanted to be. I can hardly believe it! From viewing the apartment to moving in it was only about 2 weeks. We've since been moved in for 1 week. I'll be honest, it's not the cute little house I imagined our first place would be. But it's adorable and I love it. It's about a 20 minute walk home for Amy from her bus through a residential area and about 25 minutes walk for me to work. It's a ground floor flat which is perfect for Maybelle and even boasts a little patio area. Let the projects begin! (Caution ahead, lots of pictures. Yep, I'm excited!)

Our Target bedding that we still love. Our room came with two bed side lockers, a dresser, and a BIG, BRAND NEW MATTRESS! We opted to swap the bedside lockers and dressers for our own. Definitely kept the mattress!

The master bedroom is really big. The space from the wall to the wardrobe is thankfully big enough for both of our dressers to fit. I was worried we'd have to try and share. Yeah, that wouldn't have worked at all. Scarecrow has way too many clothes.
Oh, and the wardrobe is massive. I can finally see my shoes!

En suite shower! Praise the Lord! It also just had the shower head replaced given that for about 4 days we thought it was broken. Turns out there's just a pump that has to be turned on for it to work. Never mind that now we have to turn on the sink first in order for it to work. Call it a quirk. Also, check out the super cute bathmat. Only Penney's finest for this crowd.
The other side of the en suite. Why yes, that is a giant blank wall that I want to fill somehow. And yes, I did have to stand in the shower to get this shot. No shame here.

We waited about a week before bringing this sweet thing over. She's been a little anxious but hopefully she'll learn just as when we first got her that we aren't going to abandon her or forget to feed her. She wouldn't stop whimpering from her bed in the living room last night so I slept on the couch. This too shall pass...hopefully.

You thought you'd seen all the bathrooms? Oh no, my dear friends! Main bathroom sports a lovely bathtub and an eclectic selection of tiles and a stenciled mirror. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work.

Don't mind the dog collar. Madam Maybelle had herself a bath today. Managed to spray all the walls pretty good. Thankfully each bathroom comes equipped with a smaller HEATER to remove all water spots from the wall. This is going to be mainly Toto's bathroom. She has an adorable little room that she's decided to give a French theme. No pictures of that, no way I'm breaching that privacy agreement.

There's a really good sized open space right when you walk in that then branches off into all of the separate rooms. Seems a little unusable/wasted. I can't decide exactly what to do with this little gem of an alcove. Toss up between book shelf or coat area. There's also a LOT of white walls in this area that will need some TLC. Currently the only piece of art in here is a Van Gogh poster that was in the back of Toto's closet. Hey, it was framed and is well proportioned. Not my favorite of his but it'll do for now.

I have felt so terrible that we haven't been able to use hardly any of the beautiful wedding presents that we were given a year and a half ago. Ask the Scarecrow, the pile of wedding presents outside our bedroom was a constant source of frustration to me. Now to try and figure out how to appropriately show them off.

Our main space consists of a living room/dining room/kitchen arrangement. The couches are pretty new and so is the coffee table. The only additions we've brought to this so far are a corner TV unit and a bookshelf currently stuffed with DVDs. Oh, and Grandma Pat's beautiful, handmade afghan along with some cute pillows we picked up in Heaton's. We only went for glass jars for flour and rice. Left with just a bit more. OK, more than a bit.

See, giant bookshelf of DVDs. I think the majority of the boxes we brought had DVDs in them. They are the Scarecrow's vice. Better than drinking I guess. See second adorable little couch by the door and awesome little corner unit for the TV. Also note the LARGE amount of WHITE wall space. Trying to come up with apartment friendly projects for this. I found where they sell Command hooks. That will definitely help.

My sweet Scarecrow's contribution to decorating thus far. I worked late nights this past week and told him I was feeling slightly overwhelmed with unpacking and organizing everything. Came home to dishes done, laundry folded, and perfect little touches like this. That painting of the Kansas City Temple was the first thing we hung (there was already a hook there). I thought I wouldn't leave it since it looked so small and lonely on that big wall. But I think next to everything on top of the shelf it's perfect now. Perhaps we'll get a copy of the Family Proclamation to accompany it.

The view from the door of our "living room". Maybelle's bed is the latest addition though she much prefers laying exactly behind you when you're working in the kitchen.

One entire wall of the "main room" makes up the kitchen. You've got to hand it to the Europeans, they know how to get a lot out of a little. The appliances include a freezer unit (far left corner), washer/dryer (left of center), oven and stove top (right of center) and refrigerator (far right). No dish washer, but it's worth if for having a full size freezer instead. Loads of storage too.

Perhaps one of my favorite things. Lovely wedding gifts on our table including our I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha butter dish from Grandma. She just gets me.

She's been following me EVERYWHERE. Poor thing, she's just so confused.

We bought ourselves a big Le Cruset pot with some wedding money. I love it against our hunter green back splash. Here's to years of stews and crusty bread with this bad boy!

A mix of wedding presents, Christmas presents, and moving out presents. I don't know why but this cabinet makes me really happy.

Why is there an adorable box sitting on a table behind our couch? It's holding a wonderful little secret.

Yep, the modem for our 50 M BROADBAND!!!! This blog post is brought to you by UPC, giving me the fastest internet I've ever had in my life. And a big shout out to Pinterest for the cute way to hide the ugly modem and assorted cables.

And the box of magic and phone sit atop a gift from Scarecrow's aunt and uncle. I wasn't sure if we'd have space for the pair of them but I'm glad we did. Now to jazz this glass topped, gold legged beauty up. I feel a project coming on.

Yep, still watching. And not laying in her bed. Such a funny creature.

How we've managed to fit so much into such a small space. Suitcases and under bed storage bins. 12 euro in Dunnes but absolutely worth it. The bin with the red box in it contains all of our current holiday decorations. Gotta love smart storage solutions.

Large window and glass door leading out to our patio. The place feels so much bigger thanks to this gem. There is SO much light thanks to being a ground floor, corner apartment. And yes, another project. This bad boy definitely needs some curtains. Hoping to hit up Guinney's today and praying they have something good.

Our patio! The clothes horse will be leaving soon. Planning to have a small container garden. There's someone that lives in the same unit as us in another one of the apartment buildings who has totally pimped their patio. I'm talking mosaic tile on the ledge, gate leading to the parking lot (very jealous) and a retractable awning. Hopefully we'll be moving into a house in about a year but I'm still hoping to make this feel as much like home as possible.


It has taken some adjusting, I think for Toto most of all as she was with her mom this past week (our first full week). I'm hoping she'll be happy. I'm hoping Scarecrow will be happy. They've both lived most of their lives in Scarecrow's parents house. It's new and different, but here's to making this little place our home.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rolling with the punches

Or a second title, The one that never was.

Life is full of disappointments. It sucks, but it happens. We learn to deal with them and then have to move on. That's just the way it goes. I perhaps set myself up for the most recent disappointment. I treated an unknown as a sure thing. I jumped up and down, got excited, and in general got my heart so set on it that when it didn't work out I was devastated.

We thought we had a place to move to. It was in the perfect neighborhood. It was the perfect price. It allowed for pets. It was a solid, good house that we would have loved and taken great care of. Unfortunately, the previous tenant did not take such great care of it. And as we put in our repair requests to the landlord we learned that he didn't care about taking care of it either. He was unwilling to do ANY of the things that we requested, all of which were entirely reasonable. Even the owner of the leasing agency says that he was out of line and she hoped that they never rented the place. I'm talking about things like taking molding carpet out of the bathroom and removing stickers from the wall. And so we walked away.

Yep, pretty stinkin' adorable.

I had imagined where we would put our Christmas tree. I'd already had ideas for a couple of projects that I would do. I mentally prepared for friends and family to come and visit. And now I have to forget all of that. It was probably too good to be true if it had worked out. I know that good things do happen to good people, but lately it seems that good things happen to Scarecrow and I only through extreme diligence and humility. Perhaps that's what is required here...again.

One of my favorite quotes from Mother Theresa: "I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much." It's safe to say I feel like it applies here.

But it's not all sadness and gloom on the Emerald Isle.

Last weekend the Scarecrow and I were able to make one of our 2014 goals happen; visiting the temple. We went as chaperones for the kids in church on a whirlwind, overnight trip to the London temple. What a great 24 hours! I love spending time with the kids in church and it was great to get away from it all, even only for a short time.

Our little gang




Read the top, Ryan Air is so funny

For those unfamiliar, we believe that the temple is the house of God. We don't hold regular church meetings there but instead participate in sacred work both for ourselves and for those who have passed away. You may remember that Scarecrow and I were married in the Kansas City temple. Our kids participated in what is known as baptisms for the dead. Since we believe that everyone over the age of 8 should be baptized, this is a service where we can physically stand in for those who have died and be baptized on their behalf. We don't believe this forces those souls into anything because we know that even after we die we are given the ability to choose. And those individuals who are baptized even when they are dead have the choice whether or not to accept the work that is done for them in the temple. It's a great feeling to be able to serve.

Despite the downs, we certainly have some pretty good ups.

Couldn't resist this sweet picture

Not really an Irish tidbit, but a point of interest for you. Tomorrow is the Scarecrow's birthday! I won't give up his age (he is older than me if you didn't already know), but he has decided that he is "30-sexy" this year. Please don't kill me for sharing babe, I just think that's too funny!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ring it in

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a happy, happy new year! I can hardly believe where this past year has gone. Scarecrow and I were discussing our favorite (Side note, my computer at work is trying to auto correct the previous word to favourite. Sorry, not happening.) bits of the past 12 months and it was certainly eventful. And so, in keeping with tradition, I give you my...

2013 Year in Review

1. Watched one of my very best friends get married


Christina and I have been friends for a long, long time. Despite oceans and time changes we have still stayed extremely close during that time. Scarecrow and I were so glad we could be there for that fun day and to catch up with lots of old friends.  Stupid Atlantic, there is absolutely nothing "pond" like about you.

2. I got my Irish learner's permit


It involved taking a really obnoxious test asking questions like, "If you approach the scene of an accident, what do you do?" I'm sorry, I thought I was taking a driver's test, not applying for paramedic school. Now to take 12 professional lessons and another test and I'll be a full-fledged Irish driver. Not going to lie, I think having a drivers license in 2 different countries is really darn awesome. Cross that off the bucket list.

3. Got to explore a bit more of this beautiful country I live in


 
Sligo. In a word, beautiful.

4. And perhaps the best of all, I got a job.


I cannot stress enough how much we needed this job. It feels so good to have a reason to go out the door everyday and not feel like we're one step away from breaking the bank. We've got some big plans and dreams for 2014 that require funding. And now we're going to be able to make it happen. Hallelujah.

Looking back is only part of  what I like about New Year's. The other side of the coin is making my to-do list for this year. And so now we move to my...

2014 To-do List

1. Get my driver's license


This is not a goal at all. This literally must be crossed off the list or I don't get insured another year. Essential.

2.  Act on my creativity


I have so many things that I want to do or create. I have ideas all the time for this project or that. It's been difficult to act on those ideas. Part of that is learning to balance and carve out this time for me. The other is not having a great space to work on these ideas. But this year I plan on not only making it possible to create, but also acting on those impulses when I have both the time and the space.  Case and point, our Christmas stockings that I made this year.

3.  Become a Cirque du Soleil performer



Ha, kidding. But what I hope to have in common with a Cirque du Soleil performer is to practice balance. Not all the time. Heaven knows that life is surprising and you can't predict everything. But what I can try and do is those little things that I know make me feel more sane so that I'm able to handle the tilts and twists a little better. And by doing that I will hopefully not feel so pulled in every direction.

I really do love a new year. It's exciting and fresh. I love figuring out how I'm going to accomplish all these plans. And heaven knows I love making a good list!

What's on your 2014 to-do list? Let me know so I can cheer you on!

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Challenges

So, I just reread my last post. Fail me. I still have those lists and need to be more proactive with it. However, that now combines with a new challenge in my life...

I GOT A JOB!!!!!

Sorry for the unnecessarily large amount of exclamation points. But this was a very big deal for me. A very big deal for us really. I wish I could say it was in my field or that it was something that would start me in that direction. But unfortunately, it's not.

As usual this opportunity taught me some extremely valuable lessons, not only about myself but in how Heavenly Father blesses us. First, I did not want to apply for this job to begin with. I was devastated by the idea of not working in meteorology or even a related field. After several close encounters with jobs I would love I was broken and beaten up. The last thing I really wanted to do was apply for something so outside of my training. And so lesson number one was how to be humble. We were no longer in the position to be choosey. It was either me get a job, ANY job, or face some serious financial consequences.

Which brings me to the second valuable lesson from this experience, and that is that we rarely see the full picture. Scarecrow and I had been limping along financially on his paycheck. It's good, but not great. It's enough to cover our basic expenses each month as long as we don't use the car except for the bare necessities, don't allow the grocery bill to exceed our weekly limit, or actually go and do anything that costs any amount of money. You can imagine how easy that was to maintain. I got this job and then later in the same week all of our monthly bills came out of the account. That's when we realized how bad things would have been. And then we realized how blessed we were that I got this job. One more month would have literally been the end of the line. But Heavenly Father loves us enough to A) help us to know which opportunities to take and B) keep us somewhat ignorant of our plight until the crisis was averted so as not to have us completely fall apart. And so we are to take advantage of opportunities and know that Heavenly Father will bless us in His time, which happens to be exactly when we need it.

So the new challenge is to juggle. When I was a stay at home wife there was a small amount of that. Now that Scarecrow and I are both working full time, he's taking a night course twice a week, I have an assignment with the youth at church, he has TWO assignments with the youth at church, I'm desperately trying to finish my thesis, and Amy is here there and everywhere, juggling is becoming a skill I have to learn.

So, I'm looking for advice. Ladies and gentlemen, how do we do it? How do we make sure our family eats more than crisps and Coke for dinner (yes, that's happened an embarrassingly large number of times)? How do we make sure the laundry doesn't spill over the top and the dog gets walked? How do we do those things that are necessary for our own emotional and mental well being despite the huge demands on our time?

Any and all insight on this would be more than appreciated.

Note: no Irish tidbit. Clearly I've had no TIME! But here's a cute picture of us on a recent trip to Dublin. Toto took it, isn't she awesome?


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who am I?

2 posts in one month! Woo-hoo! We're making progress, slowly but surely. It's certainly been awhile since that has happened. And it ties nicely with what I've been working on personally lately; goals.

The Scarecrow and I get up anywhere between 7 and 8am. He's out the door around 8:20 or 8:30am. I then try and fill my day. Some days more successfully than others. This is EXTREMELY frustrating for someone who has consistently held a job since they were 14 and thrives on completing tasks. And while I do consider folding the laundry and cleaning the kitchen important tasks, I have yet to find them enough to satisfy my need to be productive. Hence, The List.

I've always loved writing. I remember filling notebooks with song lyrics (don't ask), poems, short stories, and even a novella. Combine this with my love of being productive and it'll come as no surprise that I love making lists. There are the typical "To-do" lists, lists of potential character names, places I want to visit, books I want/need to read along with a host of others. It is completely cathartic to try an idea, go somewhere, or do something necessitating taking a big black pen and striking it out on a crisp page. Awww, sweet bliss. Beat that, chocolate.

I have realized that part of my problem in filling my day was that I no longer had any real direction. There are things that I need to do, but I haven't focused on those things that fill me and give me real purpose. I haven't even been doing the "must do's" with any real drive or conviction. It's a scary, empty feeling. And frankly I'm sick of it.

I decided to create the ultimate list, the one to top all others. I listed myself. I went back to 6th grade English class and I completely Venn diagrammed who I am. I broke myself into all of the components I could think of and my life into all of the pieces that do/I want to have make it up.



But I didn't stop there. Oh no, my friends, I then outlined each of those components, focusing on the things I want to achieve in each of those aspects of myself. Before you all start (OK, continue) to think I'm a little crazy and compulsive, let me clarify a couple of things. 1) I am a VERY fast writer. Plus I am an experienced list maker as previously discussed. This really hasn't taken me long to do. 2) I don't plan on focusing on EVERYTHING on The List, not all at once. Despite the amount of free time I currently have I also don't want to completely ruin any chance of productivity by trying to be productive in more aspects than I have hands to juggle. I am going to focus on 2 or 3 specific GOALS, not total ASPECTS of my life. Come on people, be serious.

What are your goals? What is that thing that gets you up and out in the world every morning? Sharing goals with someone else can help us to stay on target. Let's all take a deeper look at ourselves and strive to be more. Not for anyone else, just for ourselves. 

Oh, your Irish tidbit for the day is to watch this video and fall in love with the Irish language.  Who says Irish is dead?