Monday, August 27, 2012

Munchkin Land

First full week of semi-normal life in the Emerald City went reasonably well.  I've been enjoying being a little on the lazy side given the months of frantic running around and working to actually get to this point.  So it's 11am and I'm still in my bathrobe.  My sanity will only be able to do this for so long, but for now I think I'll enjoy the moment.

Last week did involve a new adventure for me...getting Toto (my step-daughter) ready for secondary school.  She's going into the American equivalent of 7th grade, otherwise known as 1st year.  I know, very Harry Potter.  Getting ready for school here has some similarities but also many differences.  Granny (my mother-in-law) and I took her into town with a mammoth to-do list.  First stop, uniforms.  Uniforms are something that have become more popular in the U.S. over the last few years.  When I was in high school they were just beginning to introduce them into the district.  Now I think nearly all of the schools have it.  Uniforms for Americans means khaki pants and polo shirts.  The only word I can think of to describe the uniforms here is "posh".  Each school has a different one.  In primary school (elementary) the girls wear shorter skirts, knee socks, collared shirts and a jumper (sweater).  Secondary school the shirt and jumper are still there but now the girls have longer, ankle length skirts.  Some schools even require ties for both the boys and the girls.  Toto was pretty excited that she doesn't have to wear one.  I was particularly grateful for the girl who helped us in the uniform shop, me knowing absolutely nothing and Granny not knowing that much more.  She looks like she was being stabbed with hot pokers, but I think secretly she thinks it's cool.
I sent this picture to the Scarecrow while we were out and I think it made him a little sad to think of his little girl starting secondary school.  Stop growing up!  Right now!

The other major difference is books.  For private schools and kids that are home schooled in the U.S. it's the same, but here the parents have to buy all the books.  This was another completely foreign concept to this public schooled Kansan.  However, once again we just walked into the shop, handed over the list, and they got everything together.  Now if only they would pay the bill.  It's a big expense, one I wonder how some people in these recessionary times can afford.  I rationalized it to myself by realizing she's going to get a couple of years use out of the uniform and the books will be used for the next 3 years until she takes her Junior Cert (kind of standardized tests).  After that it's a new set of books for the Leaving Cert.  It's been good to see how the process works and watch what "back-to-school" means.  It's several years away before Scarecrow and I have to think about putting another munchkin in school.  But if that happens here it's nice to get a feel for it now.

Saturday we did one of my favorite things in Limerick.  We went to the Milk Market.  It's a big farmer's market in the city centre, one that has grown exponentially over the years since I've been visiting it.

They even extended it to Fridays and Sundays.  It's fun to see the different vendors, taste the wide range treats and see the variety of people.  I got a chocolate-almond croissant that was out of this world!  We thought about taking this guy home but thought it'd be too much of a hassle getting him to the car.

I'm slowly making plans for what I'm going to do with myself to fill my days here.  I'm putting things on hold till after the family comes and goes (only one week left!).  I think that's when things will really start to get interesting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Twister

It wasn't a literal twister that swept us up and brought us here.  But it sure felt that way at the time.  Getting married in some ways does feel like your house has been picked up and and tossed around.  That has been quite literal in our case.  It's been about 2 weeks since the Scarecrow and I got married.  I'm not going to go into all the details, we'll just say that it was a perfect day with our family and friends.  One that we'll never forget.

  We left Kansas for Oz about a week ago.  We chose to use United as opposed to a twister to get here.  Better frequent flyer miles.  Although I think there would have been less worries about lost luggage with the twister.  Don't worry, it all made it here.  In one little Jetta no less, much to the Mr.'s delight.

The first order of business: get me legal.  Went to the Garda station and got my GNIB card which is just a horrible picture of me on a card saying that I'm allowed to live and work here.  After a little more running around in this part we headed off on our honeymoon to Killarney, Co. Kerry.  The hotel, in a word, amazing.  The weather, beautiful.  No, I mean it.  Really, it was perfect.  Stop it, I know.  But it was about 20 degrees C and next to no rain which made for some beautiful days in that Emerald City.  We visited my favorite part of the country, Dingle.  Picked up a couple of French hitch hikers and gave them a lift.  They were extremely nice kids.  We learned that Cul de Sac in French means Bag in Lord of the Rings.  The boy was so excited that we flipped a U-turn so he could take a picture with the sign.  Eoin and I laughed because he is going to see a lot of those signs!  Drove around the peninsula and saw where God began when He was creating the heavens and the Earth.  Wandered the streets of Killarney and met interesting characters.  Donacha and Dave in Murphy's ice cream shop; a sweet couple that we couldn't agree if they were speaking German or Dutch.  And we played are they American, Irish, or European/non-Irish.  Great game, highly recommend.  Really couldn't have asked for more.

The past few days have been relatively quiet with Scarecrow gone back to work.  We live in the country where we are a little bit isolated.  I'm practicing driving so hopefully I'll gain independence that way.  While the weather still "holds" I'm going to try biking the 2 miles to the nearest bus stop to hold onto some of my personal freedom.  I've got Toto (his daughter) to keep me occupied.  We have a great time together.  In fact, I'm about to introduce her to the joys of baking Gooey Butter Cake.  I know this is a big adjustment.  I know we have a lot to figure out.  But if I'm going to do it with anyone, I'm sure glad it's him.

On a side note, everyone should download whatsapp.  Send free texts, pictures and videos for under a minute.  Get it, text me, love it.