Friday, 29 April 2011

Happy Happy Happy!

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. It's been crazy busy. Also life is more "normal" here in the states and I'm not going to exciting places that no one else has gone to. We are having a great time. I didn't think that when we came back to America for a visit that I would be this happy. Well, I was kind of hoping I wouldn't be this happy. It has been wonderful being able to drive around, shop, and even grocery shopping.  My husband has been working like crazy doing different jobs to help save up for the next year of bills we still have here in the states. We've been able to see more friends and the great grandparents are up from Florida so we've been able to see them. Now we're waiting for my mom to come from Colorado in a few weeks.

The visa has been processed. I can't tell you what a relief it is to have it all done. I sent it priority mail to the UK Home Agency last week and had it in my hands by the end of the week. The only thing that is really weird is that they didn't give me any other paper work except for the visa that is pasted in my passport. I'll have to call them when we get back to figure out how much I can work and how much. But it's DONE! Months of worrying and it's all done. The visa is for two years and after those two years I can apply for it again and hopefully get it for an indefine time.

We have a nice quiet weekend ahead with friends and then another busy week hanging out. Now I'm watching the wedding and enjoying watching  part of history. We have been taking loads of pictures, but my husband forgot the card to put them on our computer, so I'll have to wait until we get back to Ireland to post more pictures. However, I did get an iphone from R's uncle L to use as an ipod so I was able to take some pictures of us hanging out.

Walking around in the backyard in her wellies!

Enjoying Sabbath School

Watching some hockey

oíche mhaith

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Thoughts on "home"

I thought that when we flew into the States I would feel right at home and back to normal. Nope. When we were flying into Portland and especially Newark I already missed the green fields and small towns. Can someone who has lived in one place for 29 years and another for 5 months really get that attached to a new place? Maybe it was because I had told my brain that, "no,we're not just visiting Ireland, we're living here" that it started to replace the familiar with the foreign.
We've now been here a few days and I'm hoping these feelings start to go away. I'm also afraid that if I enjoy my time here to much and get comfortable it's going to be even harder to go back to Ireland and I'll have to start over mentally again.  You just don't realize how much you really miss "home" until you've been welcomed back with open arms.
We've also hit the ground running. It's been nice to be busy everyday.  We haven't been at the house at all during the day. We arrived Saturday and tomorrow will be the first day we don't have any plans, well during the day anyways. It's been so nice to see my friends again and to talk and socialize like a normal adult. One thing I do worry about is that I'm bitching too much to my friends. I'll probably get it out of my system after this first week, it's been building up for 5 months (ha ha). If I do please let me know. However the worst experience so far of this whole trip was my first trip back to Wal-Mart. Now I hadn't thought I had gained any weight since I left, just stayed the same. However an older woman at Wal-mart decided to ask me when I was due. This has never happened to me before (while not pregnant) and I thought I was going to burst into tears right there. However I laughed it off and made her feel really bad about asking. Yes, I haven't been gung-ho about exercising and I'm not what I wanted to look like when I got back to everyone, but no reason to ask if I'm pregnant. Why is that older woman feel the need to comment on other people. While I was pregnant older women processed to tell me how "big" I was and didn't believe I was only have one child. You won't get that in Northern Ireland thats for sure. (Well here's hoping)

Enough of my rant and ramblings. It's been great being "home." Can't wait to see more of you! O has fallen right back into the swing of things. In fact she's been awesome. We've had her out and about everyday with little to no nap and she's had such a great time. I am going to feel awful when we take her away from all her friends here. But we won't talk about that anymore.

***Pictures to come once I can get them off my camera.*************
oíche mhaith

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Yes, that is my baby crying on the plane. (Back in the USA)

Well I'm here, safe and sound. After our visitors left last week, we were in full pack mode. I also was fully consumed with filling out the visa form. Let me tell you that it was not a fun process at all and I'm still working on it. The worst part of all of it was they don't tell you what you need for supporting documents until you submit the application online and you can't set up your appointment for the biometrics until you also submit online. Both of these could have been a huge problem because I had to submit in America when all our documents were in the UK and who knows if I'd get a biometric appointment soon or even in Maine. All of this was a complete stress while we were packing.

Then came travel day. I'm going to everyone a word of advice, if you are flying with an infant on your lap that is over a year old and the flight is more then 4 hours, pay the extra money to get them their own seat. Not only was the day very long as we started traveling at 9:30 am GMT (4am here) and didn't finish until 12:30 pm GMT, but being with O on our laps for a 6.5 hour flight almost put me over the edge. She is on the constant move and gets bored very quickly. We had to wait about 45 minutes just to check into the Belfast airport and then run through security and do a quick grab of food before we boarded immediately. So O was already getting tired and bored while we waited in lines in her stroller. It was a completely full flight so no extra seat next to us. Luckily we had a nice guy about our age sit next to us that O kept flirting with the whole time. The plane did have the individual touchscreen TVs in the back of the seat in front of you, but that still wasn't enough to keep O entertained. Plus she got overtired so everything made her cry and she was very hyper. Finally about 3 hours in she fell asleep and we got an hours peace. After she woke it was just as bad. I would also like to mention that the flight crew on our flight to Newark was horrible and you could totally tell that they didn't like their job at all.

Once we landed in Newark we had to go through security and then collect our luggage just to give it back again. Then we had to check into airport security again to get back to our connecting flight. All this would have been ok, if we didn't have a bored, hungry, tired baby. They even make you take the infant shoes off. Again if you have to fly with an infant and you're flying on your own, I would practice folding up the stroller if you're taking, one handed holding the baby. Also pack lots of snacks or get food at the airport cause snacks are the easiest way to keep them quiet and happy for longer period of times.  Anyways, after the hour getting in and out of security we had another 2 hours to burn, so we bought expensive, crappy food and let O run up and down the powered walkways. Luckily the flight from Newark to Portland was just over an hour cause we were all at the end of our rope. She was the only baby so of course when she cried everyone I'm sure rolled their eyes. We did walk up and down the aisle about 5 times just so she could try and charm everyone. Everyone did think she was adorable so that made her crying not so bad.

Our friends, C & B picked us up and they are so happy to have us home with them and to see us. O has settle right back into life into their house. (We stayed at their house for 4 weeks before we left for N.I) They have two cats so she is constantly chasing them. I'm wondering when it's going to get old, but it probably won't. We've had a lovely morning. I was finally able to submit the visa so everyone please pray for a smooth process. Out of the two problems I mentioned at the beginning, I was able to make the appointment for biometrics early this week in Maine, so that's great. However, there are some random documents that I left in NI that R's parents will either have to copy or overnight them.

I am looking forward to seeing most of you very soon. I'll be at Brunswick church next weekend but have plans afterwards. We're going to try and get a cellphone number so you can contact us, but if you want the house number where we're staying, just let me know.

oíche mhaith

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Northern Coast

On Wednesday we took A & D up to do the northern coast tour. You start at Port Stewart/Port Rush and end at the Bushmill's Distillery. We had decided to do the tour Wednesday because it was supposed to be nicer of all the days of the week. It started out rainy, but the weather people told us that it would blow over and be sunny by early afternoon. However, that wasn't the case. The sun didn't come out until much later by the time we were all exhausted.

Port Stewart/Port Rush are small coastal towns that get very crowded in the summer. Port Rush has a small carnival park in it. A comparison would be a smaller Old Orchard Beach. We did a drive by and then went to Dunluce Castle. I love walking around the castle. It's all in ruines, but it's right up against the cliffs and you can just feel the history around you. After Dunluce we went to Giant's Causeway. It would have been nice except it was cold, wet and rainy. We took the bus down to the rocks, stayed for about 15 minutes and then left and went straight to Bushmill's Distillery. And of course the sun came out as soon as we finished the tour. R and D took the tour because we couldn't take little O on the tour. A and I sat in the small restaurant feeding O chips and hanging out. It was really nice to hang out with friends again. After the tour we went to Coleraine to walk around the shops for a wee bit and then headed home for dinner. Bed time was early that night for everyone.
Below are the pictures from the day. I promise I won't give too much history.
This is looking down on Dunluce castle. It is believed that it was built by an Anglo Norman and then it was occupied by a Scottish chieftain. 

O with her Daddy outside Dunluce Castle. We didn't stop and take any pictures of Port Stewart/Port Rush. But I know we'll be going there in the summer, so you'll see the towns I'm sure

Another view of the castle. If you want more information, you can go to the their website,

The coolest thing about this castle it is built flush to the cliff side. While the last occupants lived their the kitchen fell into the ocean.

The gate house

This is Giant's Causeway. The rocks are made up of basalt and have broken into perfect hexagons. There is a legend behind why it's called Giant's Causeway, but it would be a little too long to right and I can't remember the names of the characters, let alone spell them.

Part of the edge of the rocks.

A look down the coast line.

This is the Bushmill's Distillery. Built in 1608 it is one of the oldest whiskey distillerys. I have done the tour before, but since we have the baby with us, A and I decided to just hang out at the cafe and have a pint and some chips (french fries)

Me and the babe at Dunluce Castle.

oíche mhaith

Friday, 1 April 2011

Trip to Dublin and visitors

Well our American visitors are here safe and sound. Tuesday afternoon my husband and I drove down to Dublin. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there, well it would if you didn't get lost. We missed our exit because we did not trust our GPS or we like to call her GLADOS. (this is because we think she is out to get us). Luckily unlike Maine if you get lost you can always take the next road up and head in the same directions and eventually the roads will met up.

We stayed at R's aunt's house M and her husband X. (Yes his first name starts with the letter X.)  We got there much later then we had expected so we didn't get to hang out with the kiddos. Plus we had to get up at 4:30 in the morning so it was early to bed for us.

Breakfast cafe on the second floor

A & D arrived at 5:20 am. Of course when we got to the airport we couldn't find out which terminal they were at since they just built a new one. We parked at one and ended up having to walk almost half a mile to where they were waiting. We had planned to head into Dublin so that D could meet someone at Trinity College for his work. Now, I am going to preface this with R and I really don't like Dublin. It's too crowded, has a horrible one way system and is just like any other big city. So driving into the city at 6 in the morning with little to no sleep and getting lost was not a great start to the day. We did end up finding a parking garage, but of course it was an expensive one and off the beaten path. When we did try and walk down Grafton St to find a breakfast place it started pouring and we didn't have umbrellas.  We went into the first hotel we saw and it wasn't open and when it did open it was WAY TOO expensive. Finally we found a small cafe over a newspaper stand and got a good full breakfast for an okay price. Everything in Dublin is expensive: parking, food, and shops.  I would recommend if you ever come to Ireland, just fly into Dublin and head straight out of the city. The rest of Ireland is wonderful and beautiful. Also the people are much nicer when you get out of Dublin as well.

D was going to meet the person at 10, however, we finished breakfast at 7:30 and had nothing really to do until then. We did end up parking close to the college even though we had no idea where we were. We walked around the college and then sat down in a small coffee shop and tried to wait it out. The rain had stopped and the sun had come out, but we were really too tired to walk around the city. So by 9 am we were done. D just ended up emailing the college and explaining the situation. It was nice to leave the city. It was a quiet drive back with us getting home around 1 pm. We then all took a nap and just hung out at the house until we went to bed early.

A view of a Dublin street

One of the buildings at Trinity College

On Wednesday we went up North to the Giant's Causeway, Bushmills and Dunluce Castle. Those pictures will be coming tomorrow. Today we're headed up to Belfast to go shopping. 

oíche mhaith