Monday, November 18, 2013

New Challenges

So, I just reread my last post. Fail me. I still have those lists and need to be more proactive with it. However, that now combines with a new challenge in my life...

I GOT A JOB!!!!!

Sorry for the unnecessarily large amount of exclamation points. But this was a very big deal for me. A very big deal for us really. I wish I could say it was in my field or that it was something that would start me in that direction. But unfortunately, it's not.

As usual this opportunity taught me some extremely valuable lessons, not only about myself but in how Heavenly Father blesses us. First, I did not want to apply for this job to begin with. I was devastated by the idea of not working in meteorology or even a related field. After several close encounters with jobs I would love I was broken and beaten up. The last thing I really wanted to do was apply for something so outside of my training. And so lesson number one was how to be humble. We were no longer in the position to be choosey. It was either me get a job, ANY job, or face some serious financial consequences.

Which brings me to the second valuable lesson from this experience, and that is that we rarely see the full picture. Scarecrow and I had been limping along financially on his paycheck. It's good, but not great. It's enough to cover our basic expenses each month as long as we don't use the car except for the bare necessities, don't allow the grocery bill to exceed our weekly limit, or actually go and do anything that costs any amount of money. You can imagine how easy that was to maintain. I got this job and then later in the same week all of our monthly bills came out of the account. That's when we realized how bad things would have been. And then we realized how blessed we were that I got this job. One more month would have literally been the end of the line. But Heavenly Father loves us enough to A) help us to know which opportunities to take and B) keep us somewhat ignorant of our plight until the crisis was averted so as not to have us completely fall apart. And so we are to take advantage of opportunities and know that Heavenly Father will bless us in His time, which happens to be exactly when we need it.

So the new challenge is to juggle. When I was a stay at home wife there was a small amount of that. Now that Scarecrow and I are both working full time, he's taking a night course twice a week, I have an assignment with the youth at church, he has TWO assignments with the youth at church, I'm desperately trying to finish my thesis, and Amy is here there and everywhere, juggling is becoming a skill I have to learn.

So, I'm looking for advice. Ladies and gentlemen, how do we do it? How do we make sure our family eats more than crisps and Coke for dinner (yes, that's happened an embarrassingly large number of times)? How do we make sure the laundry doesn't spill over the top and the dog gets walked? How do we do those things that are necessary for our own emotional and mental well being despite the huge demands on our time?

Any and all insight on this would be more than appreciated.

Note: no Irish tidbit. Clearly I've had no TIME! But here's a cute picture of us on a recent trip to Dublin. Toto took it, isn't she awesome?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who am I?

2 posts in one month! Woo-hoo! We're making progress, slowly but surely. It's certainly been awhile since that has happened. And it ties nicely with what I've been working on personally lately; goals.

The Scarecrow and I get up anywhere between 7 and 8am. He's out the door around 8:20 or 8:30am. I then try and fill my day. Some days more successfully than others. This is EXTREMELY frustrating for someone who has consistently held a job since they were 14 and thrives on completing tasks. And while I do consider folding the laundry and cleaning the kitchen important tasks, I have yet to find them enough to satisfy my need to be productive. Hence, The List.

I've always loved writing. I remember filling notebooks with song lyrics (don't ask), poems, short stories, and even a novella. Combine this with my love of being productive and it'll come as no surprise that I love making lists. There are the typical "To-do" lists, lists of potential character names, places I want to visit, books I want/need to read along with a host of others. It is completely cathartic to try an idea, go somewhere, or do something necessitating taking a big black pen and striking it out on a crisp page. Awww, sweet bliss. Beat that, chocolate.

I have realized that part of my problem in filling my day was that I no longer had any real direction. There are things that I need to do, but I haven't focused on those things that fill me and give me real purpose. I haven't even been doing the "must do's" with any real drive or conviction. It's a scary, empty feeling. And frankly I'm sick of it.

I decided to create the ultimate list, the one to top all others. I listed myself. I went back to 6th grade English class and I completely Venn diagrammed who I am. I broke myself into all of the components I could think of and my life into all of the pieces that do/I want to have make it up.

But I didn't stop there. Oh no, my friends, I then outlined each of those components, focusing on the things I want to achieve in each of those aspects of myself. Before you all start (OK, continue) to think I'm a little crazy and compulsive, let me clarify a couple of things. 1) I am a VERY fast writer. Plus I am an experienced list maker as previously discussed. This really hasn't taken me long to do. 2) I don't plan on focusing on EVERYTHING on The List, not all at once. Despite the amount of free time I currently have I also don't want to completely ruin any chance of productivity by trying to be productive in more aspects than I have hands to juggle. I am going to focus on 2 or 3 specific GOALS, not total ASPECTS of my life. Come on people, be serious.

What are your goals? What is that thing that gets you up and out in the world every morning? Sharing goals with someone else can help us to stay on target. Let's all take a deeper look at ourselves and strive to be more. Not for anyone else, just for ourselves. 

Oh, your Irish tidbit for the day is to watch this video and fall in love with the Irish language.  Who says Irish is dead?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Lovin'

The Scarecrow has been reminding me that I have almost managed to blog at least once a month since I started and that the end of August is fast approaching. I have A LOT that I've needed to post and, as usual, I have more pictures than anything else. That's mostly what you people want anyway. But I am hoping to amp things up around here and have more posts on my DIY endeavors (a tricky thing around here), and various other pursuits.

So consider this post the catch up, summer in review post. In the next day or so I have plans for talking about goals, back to school madness, and crafting in a country that is not conducive for it.

Girls Camp fun! Top of the hike.

Sligo fun with friends

4th of July in the People's Park

Happy 1st Anniversary to us at Dromoland Castle!
Movie date night with Toto & Co.
Cannonball Run free car show. 98 million euro worth of cars!
Happy boy with a REAL NYPD car! Only one real cop though.

Childhood dream fulfilled

Yep, that's true love

Keep coming back over the next week for a format update and new blogging adventures!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why hello saddle

Confusing title? Maybe, it's actually pretty descriptive of the way I've been feeling lately. More on that momentarily.

We'll start off with some pictures to detail what's been happening lately. You'll remember that Scarecrow has a sister living in New Zealand. She came with her munchkin to our wedding party last September. This time her hubby came along and spent a few weeks here. It was a real trip to ACTUALLY have the ENTIRE Hogan family in the same place at the same time. It was a first and here's to hoping it won't be so long in happening again.

I was given the ridiculously depressing task of helping take them back to the airport. It was terrible, first, because they're leaving and live so far away. Second, I was reminded of just how many people I love who are a long and expensive airplane ride away. When will they hurry up and get on this whole teleportation idea? We can't be that far away from it, right? It's been hard establishing a life over here with so many of the most important people in my life an ocean away.

And that hits home.

It has gotten easier. I don't want you to think that I sit around pining for all of you. Things have been so busy lately that I haven't had time to miss people. But with the NZ crew leaving and having a bit more time to think on my own it's creeping back up on me. Must mean I need to get busy again.

Now with family headed back home and things settling back down again I've decided it's time to get my butt in gear on a few different things. I've been working on a few leads for a job and really hope that one in particular pans out, and soon. I had applied for the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) Air Traffic Controller training program. That was the reason for the random trips up to Dublin, to take various tests. I made it to the 3rd round of testing but wasn't moved on past that. I was disappointed because a) it would have been a really interesting, rewarding career and b) the money would have been AMAZING! There were several aspects of the job the Scarecrow and I were worried about. The hours can be what the IAA themselves refer to as "unsociable". Not to mention the 2 year UNPAID training period with an additional 7 year commitment in order to repay training costs. I'm almost glad in a way that I didn't have to make the decision myself. The long term affects of the job would have been brilliant with a difficult short term. But the rejection hurt, especially after so much of that in recent months. The positive lead I am going to be mildly vague about until it either works out or doesn't. But let me just say it's local and it's in my field. Two VERY rare things to have overlap!

But speaking of my thesis, I'm getting back to it. Today I finally read the comments my committee had for me to work on. I breezed through it quickly, hoping that like a band aid the sting would be brief. And it was. I am working on making sure my computer is in shape to handle the forthcoming whipping it's about to receive as I pound away on it for hours on end. And tomorrow I'll do a little more. Then a little more the next day, and the next.

I am going to be busy, I am going to be happy, I am going to get things done.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's a beautiful day

My desire to be on my computer, even to blog, has significantly diminished. That's because it is BEAUTIFUL in Ireland! Who wants to be inside on days like today? The temperature this week has ranged from 20-24C (68-75). My fellow Americans may be laughing but for here this is WARM. It's been great spending the week in shorts and a t-shirt. All the indications suggest that this is going to be a warm summer for us so I really hope that's true.

All the exciting summer plans are starting to creep up. The New Zealand part of the family comes next week. Also, Friday week (that's how we say "a week from Friday" here) we're going up to Dublin for the day for various odds and ends reasons. And you better believe one of those reasons is to eat burritos! Then the following week a big part of the crew head off to Croatia for 6 weeks. Whew! Bring it all on!

I've lapsed on posting more of the things we've been up to over the past couple of weeks. so I decided this is going to be a picture post more than anything else. They are certainly worth more than the words that I could write.

Lovely green walk by the river Shannon
Castle climbing with Toto and our friends near UL
Bridge over the Shannon near UL

Beautiful Castle behind UL
The view from the top of said beautiful castle

10 pm at night. Ridiculous!
Maybell won't give the ball back! One of the munchkins many dirty looks

Bank holiday with friends in Killaloe
The Shannon in Killaloe

The Scarecrow wants to rent a boat and come through here someday

Hello summer, welcome to Ireland

Monday, May 20, 2013

Reviewing where we are

Sweet Maybell, doing what she does best.
 Things have felt busy lately. Nothing in particular it seems. We've just been consistently finding ourselves at the end of the day asking, "Wow, what did we do today?". And that's a good thing, trust me. I don't feel like anything substantial has changed. Maybe it's just the time of year or we've just found a groove and we're riding it. But I sure do love being busy.

I feel lately that I've been consistently getting the same message. Does anyone else get that? You can believe it's the universe or your subconscious.  Believing what I do I feel like it's God trying to keep me on track. And that message that I've been getting in various forms, from speakers at church to conversations with friends, is happiness. It brought me back to my 2013 "To-do" list and evaluate how I'm progressing.

We're just going to blissfully ignore #1 on the list for the time being. That still stings a little too much to get in to. But how to be happy, even joyful, is a subject that the Scarecrow and I have been talking about a lot. I have really successful moments with #2 on my list and some substantially unsuccessful ones as well. Happiness is a choice. Isn't that we hear all the time? There are a lot of things that I/we can't change right now, at least not quickly. And so despite these difficult circumstances we have to make the decision to be happy in spite of them. The internet is full of 5 easy steps to (fill in the blank). There's a reason for that. They're good and they're helpful sources of inspiration. This week, this is my list of what I'm going to personally do to be happier.

  1. Write in my journal EVERY DAY of the blessings that I have. Focusing on what we do have helps us to think less on the things that we don't.
  2. ACTIVELY work towards changing our circumstances. Work, strange as it sounds, has always made me happy. I like having a project, digging in the dirt, putting my back into it. This whole unemployed thing has not sat well with me. There's a potential future opportunity which I'm going to be annoyingly vague about, but for now I need to find ways to better our circumstances. Stay tuned for that.
  3. I've said this before, but the Scarecrow and I don't get out much. This is in part due to our financial circumstances. It's also because we don't particularly have many close friends here who we associate with regularly. We NEED this kind of association. We spent a lot of time yesterday with family and good friends. And we felt AMAZING afterwards. I need to find a way to make more of an effort in this department and surround myself with more good, supportive, loving people. 
  4. EXERCISE more regularly. 
    "Exercise gives your endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't kill their husbands." 
    Thank you Elle Woods. And the Scarecrow thanks you as well.
  5. I find I forget myself when I'm thinking of others. I need to get out and SERVE in some capacity. I'm so grateful for my assignment at church with the youth. Here's to looking for more opportunities.

They're a little strange. Love them anyway.
Oh, and I'm going to try and blog more. Stay tuned for upcoming format changes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wait, is that summer I just felt?

The beautiful Shannon river
Bank holidays are one of the special little treats of living in Ireland and the UK. Seriously America, we need to get on this concept. And no, Memorial Day and Labor Day are not enough as barely the banks close on those days. I love Scarecrow's work hours as we always have the weekends together plus they observe bank holidays.

We started off the weekend on Friday night where we watched a soapbox derby sponsored by Red Bull. It was one of many events lined up for the annual Limerick Riverfest. For the derby they blocked off Denmark Street (a block over from the Milk Market for those familiar) and started at the top of the hill. It's not a steep hill but enough to get the job done. They built in an obstacle with some hay bales which made for some interesting moments. Despite the rain it was fun to watch the teams and see the various creations. Sometimes you need to go out and do something silly once in a while.

Saturday was a BEAUTIFUL day. Sunny for the majority of it with highs around 16 or 17 C (about 61 F). We slept in as much as possible with the early daylight. Thank you northern latitudes, still not used to that yet. Did a few chores and then set out to spend the afternoon in the city at Riverfest. First we picked up Scarecrow's aunts who live in town to have them come for the stroll. They're both real characters and I love them to bits. We walked along the stalls for the BBQ festival and got to taste a few samples. It wasn't the American Royal in Kansas City but it wasn't half bad at all.

Mardie kept getting ahead of us and having to wait so myself, Scarecrow and Molly snuck past her and snapped this picture.
From there we wandered down what was called the continental fair. The street was lined with all kinds of different vendors and completely packed. I couldn't even count the number of stalls selling candy and treats. There was all kinds of different food and different goods. We settled on getting a 99 and having a little sit down to watch the people. A 99 is one of life's simple joys, just a cone of vanilla ice cream with a Cadbury flake stuck into it. Divine. The Red Viking tour company had a short, free bus ride of the city which we availed ourselves of. If anything else, after all the walking it was good to put our feet up and listen to a bit of history. It was pretty funny, the Scarecrow would point something out to me and no more than 2 seconds later the bus driver would start talking about it. It was so nice to see the  city centre so busy with people and with so much life happening. I could literally feel summer in the air despite the rain coat I was wearing. Just in case.
How fabulous are these hats!

3 goofy girls
It was warmer than it looks.

Monday we took Toto and a couple of her friends to Lahinch to jump in the ocean. It was a bit more grey to start but that didn't stop them. Let me just say that the water off of Ireland isn't quite as warm as the water, say, off of Florida. It's freezing! Thankfully the temperature climbed to about 18 C (65 F) and they had a ball. While the girls splashed the Scarecrow and I threw a baseball back and forth. I'd say we were the only 2 people on an Irish beach that day playing catch with a baseball. After about an hour the girls turned blue and got out of the water. They got dressed and we walked and played along the beach and played on the playground. After a large bag of chips each and another short walk we loaded back in the car for the hour drive home. Those were 3 tired little kitties, let me tell you! But it was so fun to get to go out and do something fun like that with the family. It made me long for warmer weather and more bank holidays.
This one's for you Christina! Remember?

Despite the shorter week it already feels long. These first couple of days of the week we're extra busy for some reason. Here's to an early bed time tonight!