One year ago…

2 Feb

A year ago, we were packing up our house to move to Ireland…in the middle of a blizzard.  And then flew out…in the middle of a snow storm.

And you wonder why I hear circus music in the background of my life…

It’s been a year since we made this crazy move, and I feel like we’re still adjusting to things and learning the ropes.  But I also have learned a lot.  Like patience, and taking things in stride, and learning how to build a peat fire (which is currently burning in my fireplace because it’s cold outside!)

For instance – I still don’t get the grading system here.  It can go by just one test, or it can be a combination of tests and assignments.  Sean’s getting a 52% in English – yet his teacher glowed about him, how well he’s doing, how he’s improved since the Christmas exam and how she expects him to be in all honors classes – including English.  Turns out the high grade in the class is a 77%.  The low grade?  35%.  So Sean’s actually right there safely in the middle.

And as we were still trying to wrap our brains around this, another parent at the teacher conferences stated how he feels that if all the students are getting 90+ percentiles on their tests, that the teacher isn’t doing a good job challenging them, and the work is too easy.

So we’ve told the boys to find out what the other grades are in their classes – because if they get a 70%, and the highest is 77%?  Then we’ll say “Wow, great job!” instead of “Oh, you are so grounded from video games, etc.”

In the realm of patience, I am beginning to lose that and possibly all hope in ever getting a bank card.  It’s a bit hard to believe I’ve gone a year without my own bank card.  That has been made easier by the fact that there is no Target for me to use one at three days a week minimum.  But it’s getting really inconvenient.

See, we started out at one bank, which wouldn’t allow me on my husband’s account without proof of residence – like my name on a bill.  You know, to make sure I wasn’t his young, hot mistress or something like that. But then Josh decided “Well, we were considering switching banks anyway…”  So he switched, got the account open, I brought in a bill that had my name on it – only to find out that the waste collection bill?  Didn’t count.  Despite what their website said.


So I eventually got on the cable/internet account, but then had to wait on that bill.  Eventually, I got around to dropping it all off.  That was November.  I was told 3-5 days, but give it up to two weeks.  Fine.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Then I called.  I was told they’d call me back.  So I waited.  Then called again.  Was told again that they’d call back.  So waited.  Finally I went into the bank, explained the situation.  The man went into The Back, came back out and said “Two days.”  Huh?

Turns out someone forgot to sign something on the form – obviously not Josh or me, as we weren’t asked to sign anything.  So it was another “Two days….but if you haven’t heard anything in a week, come back.”

Two weeks later?  I’m on the account, I’ve got a “credit book” which is some sort of convoluted check book that makes no sense to my American eyes…and still no bleeping bank card.

On the flipside – we’ve had nothing but good luck with the health care field.  We’ve gotten appointments quickly, no real wait times except the EEG (which was just a standard check and not an emergency), the doctors have all been great, the pharmacists in this country are fabulous, the dental group we see has made Miriam like dentists again, so really?  I can deal with the backwards banking system as long as my kids are kept healthy.

Yes there are things I miss – I miss wide American roads and parking spaces.  I miss our big washer and dryer.  And yes, every so often, I wish I could go to Target, get a big red cart, and fill that sucker up without a second thought to “Do we need this?” and “Do we have anyplace to put this?”  But I still get a kick out of kids in school uniforms, and looking out at the Dublin mountains, and am still contemplating getting a Vespa.  With a side car.  How fun would the girls and I have in that?

I still don’t know how long we’ll be here.  Sometimes, I can’t imagine leaving.  Other times, I’m homesick enough that I’d deal with the snow and cold to be able to sit in the coffee shop with my friends again.  Two weeks ago, we still didn’t have a secondary school lined up for Miriam for fall of 2013 and my plan was “Well, I guess we can always go home before then.”  This week?  Mim was accepted to a secondary school, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Which probably guarantees we’ll move back to the U.S. the summer of 2013.

This past year, we’ve spent so much time settling in, learning the ropes, learning how to live in Ireland.  This year though, we’re planning on doing more traveling.  Get off this island and see more of what’s out there.  Which should be interesting.  Maybe we’ll go to Spain and test Sean’s knowledge (he’s actually the top student in his class – Josh peeked at the other grades.)

And maybe, I’ll finally stumble into Bono.  Because I refuse to leave Ireland without my own personal Bono story.

Flashback - kids at airport - February 2011




10 Responses to “One year ago…”

  1. Susan Holmes February 2, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I also remember your move…..I remember dropping the cat off at the vet and getting back to the house just as the blizzard hit. Then helping you pack for an international move and wondering if the moving truck could make it through the snow. They did two days and didn’t one day. Leon coming up to drive me home because he was worried about me pulling a trailer through the ice storm that hit further south, because we were bringing stuff home to store for you (or distribute). Your family getting stranded at the Chicago airport because no flights were going out. Then you arrived in Ireland on the first day of a conference Josh was suppose to help with. I have moved a lot, but your last move was the most “interesting.” My memory is that Sean got off the plane in Ireland to cold rain and said, “At least you don’t have to shovel it!”

  2. Katarina Hit February 2, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    The grading system sounds very French. They score 1-20, but 18-19 are for the teacher, and only God gets a 20. It’s interesting – doing a quick Google to find something to support that, I actually found a mention of Dublin! “Though it was similar when I studied in Dublin, it was a scale out of 100, but no one got above 70, and I totally freaked out when I got a 60 on my first test there then everyone was like, oh that’s so good! Weird. So it’s not just France at least!” and also, “70 is a First, 80 is for the professors, 90 is for the professors’ professor, 100 is for God”. So I guess really, it just sounds European!

    • phoebz4 February 2, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Yeah, Sean’s one teacher said “Oh, I threw a test at them, and it should have been really hard, stuff they didn’t know. Sean got a 96%! Which might as well be 100%.”


  3. Adriana February 2, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Thanks for sharing. My husband (hes is a professor) were talking about the possibility of moving abroad for a visiting position. I’m a Colombian-American citizen and i know how hard is to live in another country. I love America and have to admit am afraid to encounter another culture now with 2 kids.

  4. audreygjohnson February 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    What an amazing adventure for you and your family. I lived in Southeast Asia for two months and that was hard to adjust to. Moving to stay for several years with family in tow would be even more challenging. But the memories and experiences will hopefully be awesome, sounds great so far! Happy one year in Ireland!

  5. Kellie Wagner-Englund February 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    hard to believe it has been a year..I miss all of you now just as much as I did the first week. I miss Maura yelling “cookie and Kellie”. I miss the boys and there cool video games and Mim with her fashionable outfits and her dream of working at the coffee mill. I miss Josh and his fabulous back rubs, and I miss everything about you Phoebe!!! Please move back, but not until I get a chance to visit!!

    • phoebz4 February 3, 2012 at 6:44 am #

      Yes ma’am! 😉

  6. Isobel February 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Am for all the non-irish people, the grading system here is nothing like that (katarina hit). I’ve never heard of that before. You get up in the 90’s then you’re considered amazing…anything below 45 is a fail. 70’s is average but you’d want to be working harder. And we have exams at christmas and summer and then class tests during the year but we don’t have continuous assesment or GPA’s or whatever its called. The only exams that count are your Leaving Certificate in 6th year. They’re state exams and determine what course you get in college (its a point system). So unless Dublin’s education system is different to ours down here in Munster (which I don’t think it is) then that’s not how it works!

    • phoebz4 February 3, 2012 at 6:42 am #

      Well, our one son is doing the mock Junior Cert exams, which I told are a bigger deal b/c they will decide if he places at higher or ordinary levels for future classes. So far, he’s signed up for all higher level exams come June. But yeah, it does seem it’s all just working towards Leaving Certs.

      But if 90’s is amazing…then no wonder the teachers love Sean, lol! His one class got an 88% average score in history, which is the highest in years, so they’re all off to the movies to see “War Horse”, school treat. Of course, I also love that the note home also stated “To save time at the theatre, and to be more economical, we suggest students bring any treats to eat at the cinema from home.” The fact that you don’t have to sneak in your food items into the cinema still blows my American mind.

  7. Heather February 28, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    I saw your blog because of your post about your daughter. You might enjoy my best friend’s bog. She lives in china, but you avesimiliar adjustment struggles. I wish you the best of luck. You’re a great and funny writer. Here’s my friend’s blog.!/cover. Hope you enjoy!

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