Three Years

danishamericanirishIt’s not exactly a tale like Brad Pitt’s ‘Seven Years in Tibet”, but I can’t believe it has been three years since we arrived to the US and were greeted by the gorgeous Lady of Liberty.  Greeted by 36 degrees celsius (95+ F) as we disembarked the plane.  Not too sure why we had to get off the plane a mile from the terminal, but I suppose Aer Lingus was either late on arrival or hadn’t paid its fees.  I’m sure it was just due to the delay, and we had enjoyed our first flight ever on business class.  It makes travelling so much more comfortable 🙂

The first 18 months had many ups and a few downs.  I suppose that’s what to be expected when you rip up your life as you know it and move lock stock and barrels to another country.  You don’t realise how comfortable you were until you start over.  And, the US has so much to offer, but sweet lord, it has so many interesting challenges for a new family.

It’s amazing how quickly our kids settled into their new life, gained new friends and improved confidence in the speed of light.

My oldest girl amazed us by quickly adopting the American life style and accent.  She no longer has her Irish twang, other than when she says bollocks, Dublin, Tayto, deadly and a few other expressions.  But, as soon as we meet up with our new friends (from Ireland) in the US, she reverts back to her cute Irish words.

My son has jumped leaps since arriving here.  Born with Down Syndrome was not ideal in Ireland.  Although the Irish health system tried to do as much as possible, resources are fairly limited, and what he received in services in a year in Ireland, he receives in a few days in the US.  For that alone the move was well worth it.

My youngest adventurer is American.  She was born in Ireland, but learned how to talk and walk here, so for her Ireland is just a distant memory.  I doubt she would even recognise the homeland if we went home to visit.

We love it here!

The home of the free, the brave and other amazing folks have truly made our life better and helped us along this journey.  We have met so many wonderful people in this country, and they have mostly been welcoming us with open arms.

We have our green cards, which are actually green, and look forward to when we can apply for citizenship.  This is absolutely our home and country.  We are prod being residents in this wonderful land of opportunities.

I still haven’t adopted NFL, MBL and MSL – I still support my might Chelsea and love the fact that I can see most games … KTBFFH (keep the blue flag flying high).

Thank you America, for taking us in and making our move feel easy – we love you!

The curse of my mother-in-law

MotherInLawThis is not a post about my mother-in-law per say.  To be fully transparent, I actually like my mother-in-law.  This might sound surprising to other husbands out there, but the myth that mother-in-laws are evil is not entirely true.  Well, we do have our differences when it comes to who can mind the kids and how to raise kids, as she claims she’s the only person in the universe capable of minding her grand-kids and that kids should be allowed to do whatever they want.  And, most things that I attempt to cook for the kids, how to approach homework, getting clothes and selecting after-school activities are not approved by her!

No, this post is the curse that has been placed on our family whenever she visits from the homeland, and stays in our house for 3-5 weeks at a time.  I wonder if she actually placed the curse on the family as she was clearly unhappy that we moved far away and that her ability to be with her grandkids have been severely curtailed.  During every visit, something has broken, and she not-so-secretly rolls her eyes at her failing son-in-law aka me.

In no particular order, here’s a list of some of the major things that have caused her eyes to each for the heavens, doing the “hail Mary” and throw a few Spanish curse words at me.  I’m sure she does it to show her appreciation for me and has no ill intend.

  • Heater stopped working; shortly after the visit of one of the major North-Eastern storms that hit the area, the furnace decided to give up its spirit.  It would kick in, but not heat the house, which unfortunately resulted in me handing out fleeces and sweaters + extra blankets to all family members.  I would’ve offered to place most family members in the same beds, but felt it might have been slightly inappropriate 🙂  To make matter worse, our lovely landlord wasn’t overly concerned fixing it, and made me shop around.  This also meant that we had no heat for almost 2 weeks!  Talk about being out in the cold.
  • Fridge stopped working; during the recent summer months, I noticed the overused fridge refusing to cool the much-needed water, drinks and foods, resulting in some food being spoiled and the kids drinking lukewarm water/drinks.  It turned out the motor had decided to go on summer holidays, left me (the-not-so-great-DIY-guy) in charge of getting the darn thing repaired.  Thankfully it only took 6 days for the engineer to assess and repair the unit.
  • Oven caught fire; my dear 4 year-old daughter wanted to make a special dog food with Gold Fish pie for her imaginary friends, and decided to fill up the gas oven with said ingredients.  The ovens wasn’t overly pleased and took the opportunity to char these ingredients and this created unnecessary heat, flames and smoke.  So, we couldn’t rely on the oven for food, but thankfully the BBQ unit was more than happy to accommodate our cooking requests.  Read more here.
  • Shower leaking; one morning, while taking my mandatory morning shower, I noticed the shower was dripping – even while turned off.  I called in plumping reinforcement who were not comfortable with tightening the valves – even if it was obvious that was all it would take to fix it.  Instead they wanted to charge us $1200 for a new shower, which I kindly rejected and tightened the valve myself.
  • Washing machine floods; lastly, and by no means less important, the washing machine was sick and got sick all over the floor.  This meant we couldn’t wash clothes and my mother-in-law had to show us how she washed clothes when she was growing up.  No, we didn’t go to the local river or lake to wash, but filled a bucket with water and worked through the piles of clothes left by the kids.  It’s amazing how many blisters one gets when washing clothes.  In the end, the landlord agreed to replace the washer and we were saved.

showerAs you can see, we’ve had our fair share of unfortunate events, all while my lovely mother-in-law were staying with us.  Is it just me, or does it not seem as if a curse is placed upon our residence?

I know my wife’s family can trace their roots back to Mayan indians, but something tells me my mother-in-law has retained highly powerful shaman skills, casting curses at her awesome son-in-law.

Thankfully each of the events were resolved without too much pain, but I could’ve been without these challenges while she was visiting!

In case she’s ready this, this post is written full of love and appreciation 🙂

House hunting games

If you have ever gone Christmas shopping with your kids, or just normal grocery shopping, you will easily agree that it can be a most trying challenge, testing the boundaries of your sanity and many times the sanity of your fellow shoppers.

The most common scenario is when your kid drops to the ground screaming, just because you refuse to get another brand of cereal or ice creams.  All nearby shoppers are instantly froze, all staring at you to determine what your decisive super parent skill is to calm this bundle of horror down.  Many probably wishing you would just leave the shopping area, and you wishing you could hide in a box of Mac ‘n Cheese.

Now, imagine going shopping with three kids!  AND shopping for a house.

Well, that’s exactly what we did recently.

Like so many families, we want to make sure our kids participate in major family changing events, and choosing your future family homestead certainly qualifies for such an event.  So, we found a few tempting places on Trulia and Zillow, engaged a realtor and planned to meet the following weekend.

Trulia and Zillow are excellent property search engines

We had to inspect six potential houses that warm summer afternoon, and packed the car with snacks and plenty to drink, and set off on yet another family adventure in the trusty old family tank.

I had carefully planned the route with the realtor, preventing a zig zag tour de New York experience, as that would be absolutely killer on the kids’ mood.  The last thing we need in a confined space is a revolution.

HouseHuntingWe pulled in at the first house, and the kids were in shock – positive shock.  They thought it was absolutely stunning and immediately jumped out of the truck to explore (in their opinion) the new stomping ground.  They ran up/down the stairs.  I could hear voices in the attic and the basement.  Then suddenly all three kids had to use the bathroom.  All while the realtor stood silently with an awkward smile and not too what she had witnessed.

My wife and I had very little time to explore the houses as we were too busy running after the kids, making sure they didn’t jump into the pool, started to play with the house owner’s pet or picked up toys.

On to house two – a beautiful house that the kids fell in love with.  And, same strange wild behaviour from the kids; running around like if possessed, and insisting on using the bathroom.  We hadn’t even driven for more than 10 minutes, and no beverages, so how could their tiny bladder be full already?

Toilet Stories; shitter and in the wild

On to house three.  Again, this was the new dream house according to the gang of three.  They ran riots in the garden.  Up/down the stairs.  Suddenly I heard voices from the hallway closet, only to discover the two youngest laughing as I opened the closet.  They had been playing in the darkness.  And, the mandatory toilet visit.

House four and five were pretty much the same as the previous three houses, expect house five had no running water, so couldn’t visit the toilet.  I fully appreciate that a working toilet is essential for any household, but there’s no need to test every single toilet until we actually move in.

House six was a wash out – none of really liked it, so we didn’t even bother testing the toilet.  That said, the garden was phenomenal; massive potential for a personal maze, with  wilderness trails we could practice our survival skills.  Plenty to offer for the outdoor family and even more for the adventurous DIY dude … not us then!

All in all we saw six houses, but I have still very little recollection of what each house looked at, and have to visit Trulia or Zillow to see pictures.  Perhaps bringing the kids weren’t the best of ideas.  We do love exploring with the kids, but this is one of those adventures were kids might just make you buy something, just because it had an awesome pee experience.

The poor realtor never knew what actually happened.  She was completely bewildered as we left her standing at the last house, probably looking for a bottle of Jack D while downing a few Prozac’s and crying softly and yet anxiously.  Funnily enough, she hasn’t returned my calls or emails!

It’s safe to say that we’ll inspect the next future family homestead without kids 🙂

Balloon Wars

Summer just got serious with this amazing invention “Bunch O Balloons” over on Kickstarter.  From looking at the profile, it seems like we might be able to get our hands on these suckers in the coming weeks, just in time for the summer and before school ends.  Josh Malone was only asking for $10K, but clearly many people thought it is a fantastic idea and have pledged $250K.

Balloon fight was just brought to the next level – I can’t wait to dominate my block’s water balloon war.

The evolution of cave drawings

cave drawingsIn the beginning there were walls that looked innocent and clean.  Man (and women I presume) decided to use these blank canvasses to express emotions and tell stories.  Bingo, we have wonderful ancient graffiti sharing their daily adventures, from killing animals, chatting with aliens, hands, animals and many more amazing drawings.

Just to be clear, this is not an archeology lecture or some other elaborate tale to explain how cave drawings appeared and what they might mean.  No, this is to illustrate that even in today’s technology driven society, cave drawings still haunts us – especially us parents as our kids evolve.

As you know, we have three beautiful kids; two girls and one boy.  Each child have unique skills and various levels of energy, and we fully support our kids in growing their skills further – unless it’s their ability to watch endless TV shows on Netflix about annoying ponies or playing ‘Temple Run‘.

But one of the kids is much more creative than her siblings.  And, she has hell of a lot more energy than the others which is most likely because she’s the youngest and wants to keep up with the older siblings.

The older siblings also expressed their artistic skills, but only on the paper they we using.  Yes, it did happen that they drew on the table, but nothing remotely as severe as the tiny artist.

She has taken drawing to a new level, which includes selecting new canvasses and expressing her emotions on walls and furniture.  Nothing beats coming home seeing a new creation on the family sofa, bathroom wall, dinning table or stairs.  Most times these can be “easily” removed with water and soap, but since she has moved from water colours to permanent markers, it has become increasingly impossible.

She has also taken her skills on the road, and we have now some drawings in the car and on her clothes.

When I catch her in the act, and demands she stops, I get the 1000 yards stare and being told that she hasn’t done anything.  It was her brother!  That is despite her standing with the marker, on the wall, drawing a long line.  Even the CSI team would support my accusations!

Although it is rather frustrating, it can be covered up with wall paint, which we will do once she stops using the walls as her canvas – if she stops!

From an artistic perspective, you have to applaud her skills and if you study her drawings in more detail, you can see how she is enhancing her abilities.  The earlier stages are simple lines, then X’s, faces and people.  I would perhaps go as far to state that some of her art works are more impressive than some of the new modern artists who pains a black dot on a white canvas … or nothing on the white canvas!

Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, and other artists of the ancient World would most likely look at my daughters paintings and discover her hidden talents.  In the eyes of (in my opinion) VERY suprematism artists, our kids are completely wasting their time actually learning the craft of painting or splash paint about like the great Pollock, or painting three stripes endlessly like Rothko.

Long story short, as a parent and house owner, I dread seeing my house covered in cave drawings, but I cannot spend too much time getting upset about it.  It’s only a few lines and we’ll be pairing the walls soon.  Anyway, judge for yourself 🙂

How are your kids expressing themselves?