Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve, new beginning.

We arrived in Dublin this morning at 9am. Our arrival was much smoother than our departure from Los Angeles. The flight was the smoothest, least turbulent flight we've ever had. As the kids get older, they are definitely getting easier and easier to fly with. Our 9 monstrous bags (including one bike box) actually fit onto two baggage carts and into the back of my dad's commercial compact SUV. We picked up our rental station wagon very quickly and were soon across town and unlocking the door to our new home. The house was remarkably warm considering the heat had not been on for two weeks. Of course, the photos online definitely made the rooms seem bigger, but the house is lovely and cozy and perfect for us and our current needs. The kids were excited because they knew Christmas presents from Grandma and Grandpa were awaiting them (we strategically planned to have these waiting, knowing they were special and big and would keep them occupied the whole day. These big lego sets would also have been hard to pack if they were already built). I was excited because the location is AMAZING!  My dad met us at the airport and had already picked up some brown bread, tea and sausages. So the day was off to a great start.

The stress of the last few hours, few days, few weeks, few months (few years) already felt quite far behind us. (Though I can't shake the guilt about all that I left for my mom to deal with and clean up because we were not on the ball enough to have it together before leaving.) The amount of "stuff" we had to abandon, even though we thought we had whittled it all down to 5'x5'x8' was quickly becoming "what stuff?" 

Note* I didn't have time in the last frantic few hours to post about DH arriving at Uhaul, 3 hours behind schedule, with our carefully curated Ubox only to be told it was over weight capacity, WAY over weight capacity. So, he had to completely unpack the Ubox, that we had spent 4 days carefully packing and open box after box to see what could be eliminated. First to go were all of our books (what? NO books?????) because they are so heavy, and then some furniture. During this time, the kids were on the verge of major dys-regulation from boredom, hunger, frustration, nerves, etc...  and I was ready to join them. So we headed out to find food and to buy some extra luggage because it was becoming very apparent that what we were planning to take on the plane was also exceeding our current baggage capacity. A trip to Target with two unraveling children, and one over-extended mommy is not a fun time. So when DH and I got back to the house after our separate ordeals, we jammed what we could as quickly as possible into the 9 bags we had now allocated and again had to whittle our "stuff." (Even accidentally leaving "essential" items behind). We made it to our hotel, again with the help of my mom and brother-in-law, after delivering our two cars to their new home. Seven hours later it was time to wake up and make our way to Dublin (via Chicago).

Picking up Pepper (our dog, who is joining us in Ireland. You can read about that ordeal here) was relatively easy, considering.... Even though we had previously been told to pick her up after 2pm at the Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital in Swords (about a half hour drive from our new home), we received a call at 12:15pm saying that the facility was closing in 15 minutes because its New Year's Eve and "were we coming to get Pepper?" DH turned on the charm (for those of you who know DH, you might be as amused as I am) and we jumped in the car and drove as quickly as possible towards the hospital, though we had no Euros to pay the tolls on the bridge and through the tunnel (*NOTE: don't arrive in Ireland with no Euros!) But we made it, albeit a little past closing, and the lovely people at Lissenhall turned a vociferously whimpering Pepper over to my tardy charge.

The afternoon was lovely. The kids built lego, I had a much needed nap. Pepper snuggled up to each one of us in succession. We walked to a local gastro pub called The Chop House and had a nice dinner. My dad arrived again with libations and housewarming gifts. DH crashed, the kids kept building and I am blogging before we all turn into bed to face a new year, in our new home with so many new adventures waiting for us all. Bring it on!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our last night in this house

Tonight is our last night in this house. We have been here 6 and a half years and I am very happy to be leaving. Its a beautiful house, but it has not been good for me. As my BFF (yep, I just used that abbreviation) Nicole says, "it's like the beautiful dress in your closet that you never want to wear because its not comfortable." Such an astute observation. This house was not comfortable for me. I am not happy to be leaving the wonderful friends that I have here in Los Angeles, but I am hoping (assuming!!!) they are going to come and visit us in Ireland and we are going to show them all that we love about being there. We are also excited about meeting up with anyone who travels to Europe. My fantasies may exceed our budget (surprise, surprise), but one can aspire (I do not say dream), right? RyanAir, we are there!

Our goal is to eventually find a cottage down the country, where we can escape the city on weekends/during the summer and spend some wonderful times with visiting friends and family. I am even excited about exploring the diverse countryside in hopes of finding that hidden gem. That will be part of the fun- exploring Ireland to find where we might actually put down a permanent (gasp!) base.

This week has been insane and I was having the most intense heart palpitations yesterday morning. I have been continuously emptying this house for the past 4 months and yesterday morning it still felt full. There has also been the issue of Pepper's travel. In order for Pepper to travel to Ireland, I was at the vet on Monday for health clearance and paperwork, a one hour drive and 2 hour wait at the USDA on Tuesday (where they turned me away, because the vet on Monday had not filled out my paperwork correctly). Back to the vet on Tuesday, to get the papers fixed. But could not return to USDA til Thursday because they close at 11am EVERY day, and were obviously not open on Christmas day. Back to the USDA on Thursday, with success. YAY! Then vet again on Friday for deworming. Pepper gets picked up at 9am tomorrow morning, by her driver! She will go to the airport for check-in and fly to Frankfurt. She arrives there on Monday. She will stay overnight in Frankfurt, be allowed out of her cage and then fly to Dublin on Tuesday, where we will pick her up after she has gone through customs in Ireland. I feel horrible for her, because I can not explain what is about to happen and I think this will be quite traumatic.

So, all of that dog travel stuff accompanied trying to empty the house, pack up what we consider essential AND the holidays with the kids off school. Yeah, I think I lost a few hours off my life yesterday morning. Sitting at the vet, I was fielding texts from craigslist about furniture "oh, uh, I am interested in your furniture, but I forget what piece it is, can you send me a photo, and how much is it?" and the emails from the people who had arranged to come and get something, saying they weren't coming and realizing that I don't have the time to go back through all the emails about that particular piece to find the next in line, but my house is full of furniture and it needs to go. Anyway, its been a stressful few days AND our house still feels full- though most of the furniture is finally gone. Phew. I think we have almost filled our 5'x8'x8' container with the stuff we consider most essential- for instance, my paintings. Oh did I mention that I finished a portrait this week too? Here is is:

Tomorrow we leave a big mess for my poor mom, who has been battling the flu for two weeks to deal with. She is her usual helpful self- never a complaint! There is lots of junk left, to be hauled away and much to coordinate and I know its in good hands. I couldn't be happier to be finally leaving this all behind and moving on, though its so  hard to say good-bye to so many wonderful people.

Friday, December 27, 2013

3 days and counting

We leave in 3 days. This morning as DH was talking to the people at Uhaul about our international move, they drop the bomb- oh you need to have each of your boxes numbered and a complete inventory of all the contents of each box. What???? We have been packing for four months and some boxes are just labeled "kitchen" or something general like that. Apparently, that is not even close to sufficient. Nor is it allowed to write "nik naks". Ugh. So, now we have to unpack and repack with a running inventory.

We had also originally planned to bring 2 Uboxes, but have decided that since we packed up a load of stuff months ago and are living just fine without it, we can probably get rid of most of what we already packed and just go with one box. When we originally packed, we had no idea what kind of living situation we would be going to, had no idea how much (or little) our house would actually be selling for. We did not know our new place would be furnished (even if I don't want the furniture that is in there.) With so much in limbo, it was hard to judge what we would and wouldn't need. Now that we know what we are going to, its easier to gauge and decide. So we actually feel we need even less than the little we originally thought.

So, we are whittling the contents of our overstuffed 3000 sq ft house (and two car garage, and crazy big attic) down to fit into a 5'x8'x8' box:

As has been the case for the last 4 months, no matter how much emptying I do, our house still feels full and I have 2 days to get it empty. Arghh. On top of that, I have just discovered after a long crazy day of USDA visits, errands and packing that the wine opener is packed. Double Ugh.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

our new home awaits

Today, DH signed a lease. I am elated. A big part of my elation is relief. I was very, very worried. We had a few things working against us. Firstly, the school that we will be sending our kids to (one which I am VERY excited about) is in a rather expensive part of town. Dublin is already expensive, without choosing the expensive part of town. But, we really, really want to be able to walk the kids to school. We are leaving Los Angeles, where you generally have to drive to everything (and I also picked a charter school across town.) So, we want to be able to walk to as much as possible, especially the place we have to go to twice a day.

Our second difficulty is that we are bringing our dog. (You can read more about part of that hurdle here.) That leaves very slim pickings as far as rentals are concerned. My dad warned me of the difficulties and we knew what we were getting into, but the kids are so attached to our dog. We feel the move is enough of a change. The dog is their living security blanket and we couldn't imagine putting them through this move and losing the dog as well. So, we have been scouring daft.ie daily. Of all the rental sites servicing Dublin, this site has a filter for "Pets allowed." So, DH has been viewing all of the places within walking distance that also show up in "Pet's allowed"  and of course, within our budget. They are expensive and TINY!!!! Mostly they are apartments, but some houses (they are not detached, so they are more like townhouses or row houses.) They may say 2 bedroom, but you have to realize that most houses in Dublin have what is called a "box room." This is a bedroom that's just slightly bigger than a single bed. So, 2 bedroom might sound big, but if the 2 kids are going in a box room, a bunk is mandatory and it is tight quarters! And don't let me start on the kitchens in these advertised spaces, in this part of town!!! If you can call them kitchens. They are tiny corners of the living room that have a stove and a sink, what you would see in a "bachelor" apartment here in Los Angeles. No room for my bone broth and pickle pot that's for sure. I know I should not be complaining, these residences are not designed for families. They are really for the well heeled, working professionals (who probably eat out every night). But, we want in!

After losing out on a house that we really, really wanted, we were feeling a little dejected and worried. So today, DH went to look at a house (a townhouse) that is a 5 minute walk from the school. Its small, VERY small, but not tiny. It has two bedrooms, each with a double bed though! The kitchen is more than a corner of the living room. It is it's own separate room, with quite a bit of counter space. AND this house was within our budget. This house did not show up under the "pets allowed" filter, so I was not optimistic. Then I received the text!!! They were OK with our dog and DH was signing the lease. I have not felt so light and jubilant in a LONG time. We have a new home!

It may be small, but I am excited about all that it entails (I just want to figure out how to get the "furnished" furniture out and something that I choose in.) It is in a part of town that is not only convenient to school, but walkable to the city center and so many places that I will want to go. Its a really beautiful part of town. I like that minimalism will be enforced (by necessity, not by me). There is no other option. Giant toys and excessive materialism will not fit. We need to learn a simplicity that has been seriously lacking for the last 10 years. Its kind of the opposite of what we have now- a big, complicated space in a not so great locale. I am excited about this tiny, simple space in a great locale (that includes our dog). Yay.

Now, we just need contingencies to lift this week and I will really be breathing a huge sigh of relief.