Sunday, August 21, 2011

Settling In

I plan to do more posts on our Ireland trip that includes lots of photos, but when our cable and internet was finally connected at the new house I clicked "yes" on the update for iPhoto and it wiped out my entire photo library with all my photos from the last 5 years.  We do have it backed up - thank goodness! - but for some reason it won't restore and after spending many hours working on it Chris is finally taking the computer into the Apple store to see if they can get it resolved.  I'm antsy to get back to editing my photos and want to create a photo book of our vacation so I'm looking forward to having all my photos back and available to me.  Once that happens I'll post more photos and for now I'll give a bit of an update on our new house.

Moving is a lot of work.  It's not just the packing and moving, but also the changing your mailing address, getting all the utilities scheduled, working with a new school district, learning a new neighborhood, meeting new neighbors, finding a grocery store, etc.  It had been a very long time since I moved so I had forgotten how much changes with a move.  Add in moving states with a special needs child and it adds an even bigger dimension to our move.  But, even with all the work involved I think we made a great choice for our move!

The house we are renting is about the same size as our other house but it is laid out better for us.  All the floors are hard wood making it super easy for Emma to navigate around in all her rolled equipment.  There is also a play room on the main floor with the living room and kitchen and the girls love playing in there and I love not having to pick up all the toys from our living room at the end of the day.  And since the three bedrooms are all on the same floor the girls have their own room and have settled in nicely to their big girls beds!  Julia picked out princess bedding (of course!) for her twin bed and Emma is using the purple bedding we had for her full bed while spreading out and enjoying all the extra room she has to roll around at night.  We were nervous about giving her a bed but she seems to be making the transition just fine and I have a video monitor that I can use when I feel the need to "check" on her.

Our neighbors are super friendly and mostly around our age - and Phillies and Eagles fans to boot!  There are kids galore on our street for the girls to play with and they are playing like old friends already.  The girls are even invited to a birthday party in a couple of weeks for some of the kids on the street.  I cannot really express how wonderful it is to have children on our street for the girls to play with!  It lets me have a small bit of down time from chief entertainer of the girls and they are having a ball learning to navigate relationships with their peers.  Emma is also included in all the playing and the kids and parents just roll with the flow with Emma - not making any deal at all about her disabilities and going out of their way to make sure Emma is included in the conversations and play.  It is such an inclusive environment and I haven't really found that much when put into a group of strangers.  It so warms my heart!  Chris or I usually navigate Emma around with the kids, but she is showing more interest in walking in her walker and riding her bike when the kids are around.  I think all the activity and Emma's desire to keep up with all the kids - who move about at the speed of light! - will have her working that much harder to gain more independent movement.

Chris' commute was cut by a little less than 2 hours per day.  Yes, his commute was 3 hours round trip per day and is now about an hour per day.  He has been getting home before 5 pm and taking Finnegan and the girls for a walk so I can make dinner without all the 5pm whining.  For some reason, the whining in our house hits full throttle right when I'm making dinner - it's something about the 5 o'clock hour that has the girls cranky since they were only a few months old and has stuck around for all these years.  Needless to say, I'm totally thrilled that the girls are actually outside having fun instead of inside bored and whining even when I try to include them in my dinner preparations.  Chris also has a lot more energy since his commute was reduced which makes it easier for him to continue training for his next marathon in November.  He can get some runs in before work or after work since he has more time on both ends now.

Finnegan has adjusted to life without a large fenced in yard better than we expected.  Since she is 9 years old now she doesn't have as much energy as she had in her puppy years.  She is enjoying all the walks she gets throughout the day and smelling all the new scents on the various walks.  She is even navigating all the hard wood in the house, including the stairs, much better than expected and it seems like she doesn't mind the wood or change in flooring as much as she does in all other houses.  There is also an 8 month old black lab next door to us and Finnegan and Buddy like to "talk" to each other through the driveway.  I'm glad Finn has a friend at our new house because she had several dogs she played with through the gates at our old house.

All in all we are settling in quite nicely, albeit with still some boxes left to unpack and some window treatments to make.  We rented the house for a year with the option to continue our lease if we are interested after the year is up.  I have a feeling it is going to be a good year - bring it on!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Travel logistics

Whenever you travel with children there is always a worry about how they will do with the actual travel time.  Our best option for getting to Ireland was to take a direct flight scheduled at 10pm from Newark, NJ to Shannon, Ireland.  Since we had some bulky items and special needs for going through airport security coupled with a good chance of hitting some congestion on the roads we decided to play it safe and leave ourselves plenty of time to catch our flight.

Everything went smoothly and we arrived at the airport about 4 hours early.  We used the porter to take our luggage from the curb and to check us in.  This was well worth his tip because all told it took about 15 minutes from our car to the security check-in and basically no effort on our part.  We thought security would be a hassle but were pleasantly surprised to find everyone very upbeat and accommodating and we got through without much hassle at all while they still managed to do a thorough security check.  And I was happy that they were so easy-going about the food and drinks that I packed for Emma.

We found a food court and had a bite to eat, explored the terminal a bit and passed the time pretty easily.  We were able to pre-board the flight and get settled only to find out that we were delayed on take off due to a passing thunderstorm.  We sat on the runway for over an hour and the girls were so good during the delay even though it was quickly approaching midnight and neither of them had a nap.  Emma fell asleep for a few minutes but when they put the lights on in the cabin to serve "dinner" sometime after midnight she woke up and wasn't very happy until I laid her on my chest where she slept for the majority of the flight.  Julia watched a few shows on the tv screen at her seat and I watched a few movies on mine;  neither of us slept much.

My parents were at the airport waiting for us when we arrived.  It was so nice to come out and see their smiling faces.  Thank goodness we had their help because the car we rented had just about enough room for Emma's jogging stroller with no room for suitcases so we put our stuff in my parents car and headed up to the farm.  The kids were happy to reach their destination and set about stretching their legs by climbing on the wall in front of the cottage we rented.  I have to say they look amazingly awake for traveling all night!

My parent's cottage has only one bedroom so there was not enough room for all of us.  Luckily two of the neighbors agreed to have my sister and I rent the cottages for our vacation so we were able to walk from house to house for easy visiting.  The kids loved the freedom of coming and going between the houses and most nights there was a sleepover happening.  We really couldn't have asked for a better set-up.  Here is a photo of me and Chris outside the cottage we rented - it is really a large house for the area and had 3 bedrooms.  

Since this post is on logistics I will add that on our return trip everyone was just as nice as they were on the way out.  Security and customs made it as hassle-free as possible for us, our flight left on time and arrived a bit early, neither of the girls slept but they were so well behaved on the flight that we got some nice comments on the way off the plane from others seated near us.  Outside of the two bad diaper changes - I'll spare you the details but just say that I have NO idea how we'll handle this at all as Emma gets bigger! - in the ridiculously small airplane bathroom it was an uneventful trip.  Just the way I like them :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We're Back!

It's been quiet around this blog for a couple of weeks because we were off having fun in Ireland - two whole weeks in the old country and what a blast we had!  For those of you that don't know already, my Dad was born and raised in County Clare, Ireland and came to the USA where he met his love and settled down.  My parents go back to the farm each summer and this year both my sister's family and our family joined them for a portion of their trip.  I still remember how much fun we had as children on our vacations to Ireland and I was happy to see that my girls enjoy Ireland just as much as I do!  What a treasure it is that all the grandchildren could experience Ireland with their PopPop.

I'm totally exhausted right now because we were up way before the crack of dawn and I sure hope that we will fare better tomorrow morning on recovering from the 5 hour time change.  I'm not going to post about our trip now but promise an update on our Ireland adventures shortly.  In the meantime, here is photo sneak preview of our travels.

Grandkids on the wall outside PopPop's cottage

Near the cliffs at the light house

Enjoying the beach at Lahinch

Road signs in Kildysart - our nearest town
The national beverage of choice is Guinness - for strength!

Oh, and we move in less than a week and still have to pack our entire house up so I'm not sure how frequent my posts will be for another week but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that packing goes quicker than expected and I get a couple of posts in....