Diary of An Irish Woman

musings of an irish lady now living in America.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years and Christmas

So we stayed here for Christmas and my new job gives out Christmas Day and day after. Its amazing what the extra day does, I feel like I'm back in Ireland and have a real family holiday. We tried to give thoughtful small gifts to each other and wee lad, knowing that we have extra bills coming with a house and we already have everything we need with each other. I got an electric blanket and books. I asked for the blanket of love as I call it as my feet are normally cold in bed and we have always said that was the unwritten vow, that hubbie has to warm my feet. Its wonderful as its a large blanket so gets all of me toasty quicker. A hot Irish woman indeed.

Himself got a lot of DIY gifts (Do It Yourself), a drill, saw, nail gun, sander and safety goggles and gloves. He is raring to go and do something with them. We have a great handyman at the house so I think himself will have to make us chairs as everything else is taken!

The books were some of the twilight series which my pal Tanya has been drooling over like a tween. She was not into fantasy books but then introduced her to the silver dragon chick books and she and her pals drool over Edward from twilight in a way that even tweens would be hard to copy ;-) They have seen the movie 4 times and she has read the books several times. Not my 26 times for Lord of the Rings but even I know that's a geek fest. She has offered to go see the movie again with me if I want. What a great friend lol. In fairness the books are good but I actually prefer the writers latest adult one The Host. I'm listening to it on audio book and the other day had a wee cry as I drove from work when one of the characters died. A good book will always do that to me. Its one of those that you love reading but hate to finish..

Anyway Christmas Day was fantastic and wee lad was excited on opening more presents but not sure why. We went to our pal Tanyas for Christmas Dinner which was brilliant as we flew out next day to Florida to see our inlaws for the New Years. A good dinner with good friends and no cooking from us. Perfect! We already went to mass night before (I know Lutherans don't call it that but 20 odd years as a Catholic are hard to erase.) I will also probably call pastor Jim Father more times then he is used to but sure he doesn't mind what he is called as long as its not too early in the morning. We had a great time at the service with wee lad sitting so nicely for first half on our knee. Then he saw that there was boys beside us and he started to run over to them and shout boy, laugh and run back. He also showed off his yoga moves for watchers nearby. It was a wonderful service with a gospel singer who put magic in your soul.

Christmas Day also brought a new addition to my family and my brother Col and wife Caro had a baby girl on Christmas Day. Magical and even more funny when you realize their oldest girl was born 6/6/06. So now balanced....

Day after Christmas (boxing day in England and St Stephens day in Ireland) we went to Florida. This was first flight where he was mobile. We did the first flight in two parts. He slept first leg for two hours and second leg he watched some wiggles minus the music as he is too young for headphones, sat on my lap, hubbies, discovered opening and closing window blind was fun and slept of course then only as we were getting off flight. Southwest was great and we had a spare seat for him we bought which was great as flights were packed. They lost our car seat as never made plan (we gate checked it!) but they gave us a loaner and after several days they found it and we said send back to San Jose and we will get there. We had it strapped to a trolley that you pull it along and was wonderful as a mini buggy in airport. They gave us $75 credit for losing it and were very nice about it. Thankfully they had a toddler car seat on other end so we didn't mind much. They also managed to crush hubbies golf bag at one end. Its made of steel and looks like spocks coffin on star trek movies. Hard to see how they did that but they said go buy a new one and bring both in and they gave him money for the new one. Cant say fairer than that.

So all that excitement over we got picked up by his parents and using our google maps found a diner on way home as we were all hungry and couldn't decide where to eat. Also google saved us as we were stuck trying to think of Philip Hoffmans name while driving so saved us a couple of hours of Oh God whats his name again? I even remembered his role in scent of a woman but couldn't remember his name.... The diner was fun and had 70's music playing. We discovered that our wee lad loves to dance to 70's and in the high chair he started moving his shoulders and waving his head side to side. New one for us and loves the attention of course.

Grandparents were thrilled to see him and so were the two small dogs. They have one tiny Yorkshire and one miniature so small small. Not small enough for wee lad who was scared of them for a couple of days and finally warmed up to them by end of week putting his hand out so Jack the 4 pound 4 year old could lick his fingers. Although wee lad kept calling Jack a kitty. He didn't get how a dog could be that small. It didn't help with his fright of them that hubbies Aunt arrived with her three small dogs next day after we came for dinner. Seriously 5 dogs running amok. They came again by end of week and although wee lad was wary which is a good thing, he wasn't throwing himself against us to be picked up.

We had a fantastic relaxing week surrounded by good food his Mum made, to good weather to sit by the pool. We got wee lad a green turtle pool alarm and made sure he didn't go near pool except with us. He went swimming twice and first time not a fan but second time got into it again. Have to get him swimming again in summer. He stayed on California time for night going to bed late but up early with Florida sun. So he went down for more naps during day to make up. We went to the park and beach and was brilliant to just unwind. Work had forced a close for 4 days and most companies had in Bay Area so we were very lucky to just relax and have a great family vacation.

We had some paper chasing fun on holiday when our loan brokers called and told us we needed to get a whole selection of items in one day for our loan before the next day end of year. So a scramble on phone, email, fax and at one point taking a photo of my drivers license on ground on patio with iPhone so that the bank could send copies of all our of checks to our broker for a year in rent. My boss even did the verification of employment from not only his house but up to Kinkos as his fax was broken. We got it all in and thankfully we have iPhone, email and fax to get items in no matter where we are.

Flight back was grand with wee lad still not discovering you can run up and down the aisles. We figure hold that one for March when we go to Ireland. My folks are heading over here and back again on way to and from New Zealand so we will use those extra hands on flight back with them :-) Also good time for wee lad to meet all his cousins as last time he was 3 months and couldn't run around like he can now. Sure he will love and be completely overwhelmed like most kids.. We will do a night at the Glendalough Hotel and celebrate our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. Cant believe its been 5 years this year since I met hubbie. Its just whizzed by.

So we came back to hear we did have a new house that should close by Jan 15th (closed Jan 16th but since that's the night Battle Star Galactica came back on keep that as a sign!) and everyone nice and relaxed. We look forward to adventures in 09 and wish you and all your loved ones a very happy blessed New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rubix cubes

So hubbie has a collection of rubix cubes. So much so that at our
wedding we gave keychain ones out as favors. Also I got my poor Mum to
get a Dublin bakery to make a rubix cube grooms cake for Hubbie.

Hubbie has even been known to solve rubix cubes when he sees one in
the store.

Looks like apples don't fall far from the tree.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Handy Hubby

Hubbie heading off to the house to take off a room door and make a
closet not a closet. Why? Because rules re when a bedroom is not a

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hello Mrs President

So two weeks ago, I was very honored to receive an invitation for myself and family from the Irish Consulate here in San Francisco to attend a shindig they were having with the Irish Cultural Center for Irish President Mary McAleese. So thanks to my nice boss and hubbie's we left work early and picked up munchkin and went to the reception.

Friends of hubbies had given us this little suit for a boy outfit when he was born and we decided to see what it was like on. The jacket was a bit overkill but the trousers, red dickie bow and shirt were very cute and sure every kid needs some photos in outfits we can make fun of later in life. (At least his, isn't him taking a pee on a stone beach age 4 with knickers in hand and jacket still on which someones Dad kept showing all your friends and new boyfriends... but that's another story)

So huge crowd there and we ran into a few other San Jose folks. It was fantastic and she's such an inspirational speaker. (I loved her comment on could be lucky enough to be Irish or married to one.. ;-) Also she talked about this economy and how Irish folks have hardship wired in their DNA and would come out of it the better all around. President Mary McAleese was first raised to office in 1997 for a 7 year term and won again without contest in 2004. We're proud that we have now had two women presidents back to back in Ireland. (President is not the same as role here in states - that is covered by a Taoiseach who would be called a prime minister in UK). The president is the head of state in Ireland as we are a republic.

So large crowd and the President had already passed us by in the 4 deep throng of folks waiting to shake her hand, when she saw Gandalf and came back to meet us and shake his hand and mine. I was so touched that she did that and wee man of course didn't know that he had met the Irish President but he beamed at her anyway and she spoke to us for a couple of minutes.

We walked to the beach, where we had parked the car and made our way home, all grinning at a wonderful night we're sure to remember for years to come.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

whens a bedroom not a bedroom

So whens a bedroom not a bedroom...

The question we are asking as turns out the bonus sun room aka den which we love means that the 4th bedroom doesn't have an egress to the outside although it does to the sun room. So how do you make a room then a non bedroom that it then meets the building code. Some sites say its no closet which could be tricky to remove

Bob Villa says its a matter of having no door so to the room and calling it a bonus room. Since we mean it to be an office anyway that would work for us. Lets see if it works for the bank.

And to think all I was thinking about was how do we change the horrible colour of the pathway to the house thats painted a sickly sea blue green....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


So all full speed ahead now. We go and do inspections on Friday, house inspection, termite inspection, roof, chimney and we follow the nice house inspector around so he can show us things like where to turn off gas and water etc in this house. We're so excited!

Being the geeks we are - himself has already started an excel spreadsheet of to dos.. and put the photos of before on flickr. We have a short list of must do's at moment but sure that will grow

For anyone interested here's the pics!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008


So all the inspections etc to do and paperwork but the good news is...

The bank accepted our offer on the house!

So we saw it Saturday, put in offer Sunday/Monday and heard back this morning!

Yeah!!! I've never been so happy to be in debt ;-) - Its in San Jose in the Cambrian area which is really nice, great schools and about 4 miles from where we live now and 2 miles away from our wonderful day care lady!

So himself wants gloves and sanding equipment now for Christmas. Guess we'll be doing a lot of stripping paint, sanding and painting ! When I asked my Dad how his paint skills were for their upcoming visit (about a week after we are supposed to close) he says he paints like Picasso. So guess he'll be doing the guest room then ;-)

Monday, December 08, 2008

opening first Christmas Cards

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Sunday, December 07, 2008


So Friday night we got to go to the pub while wee man was at the Y. We love the Y. For folks like us who have no local family or who know a ton of babysitters, the Y is great for that once a month and after the day I had Friday at work I needed it. We also ran into our friend Isobel in the pub as well. Was great to see her and relax some. Wee man had a pretty good time. He got grouchy for a wee while but when I went in he was rocking in a bouncer and clapping his hands. So he had a grand time and so did we.

Saturday we went to music class and loved it. Wee Gandalf had so much fun and really got into all the songs. There was a wee boy about age 9 and he kept running over to him shrieking topher (Christopher - the son of lady who takes care of him and who wee man ADORES!). So I said its not Christopher its a boy - and he ran over - boy boy boy!

Then we did our Saturday thing and went to a few open houses. One was OK but I got a weird sense from the owner. It was a backup one that himself had thought might be OK if we didn't see another one.

Then the last one was great, needs some work in kitchen but looks great so we put an offer in. We'll find out this week hopefully if we get it. Fourth times a charm right!

However when we were filling out paperwork I took a look at Megan's law website on a gut feeling and the one we are putting an offer in is fine - seems to be a pretty clear area, the one with the weird man that we saw earlier though - turns out that was a reported sex offender. Not even just that street - it was that house and that owner, so wont be putting an offer in that house anyway. I'm glad that they have the Megan's Law site - I know that the reported offense isn't always the full story but rather know than not know.

Anyway we don't know till next week if our offer will be accepted but it has us watching DIY channel all Sunday. I've discovered that you can put granite tiles in at lower cost to a kitchen that looks lovely but lot cheaper than granite slab. How to grout various tiles and that kitchen remodels are very expensive and we may be doing more of a surface job if we do get that house to start. So cross fingers and toes for us that we are fortunate enough to have our offer accepted. Of course would be a mad dash before holidays with inspections etc but lets hope we get it!

So nice Sunday with us at church in the morning and cleaning the house in afternoon. I cleaned three of the rooms but office is still too scary! Have a great week and this week we're putting up the decorations. Tree went up last night and we're doing it in stages. Wee man is still a bit baffled why theres a tree in the kitchen...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


So a wee light came on my SUV. I saw it come on then go off, then come on. So I ignored it of course till I got a nudge from that angel on my shoulder saying you should get that looked at, what if its important. Unlike a noise where you can turn on the radio to drown, you cant ignore unless you use masking tape......

So brought it to my Midas guys who said they couldnt get the code off the engine and to bring it to the dealer. Being allergic to being ripped off I brought it to a mechanic that had lots of great recommendations on www.yelp.com. Mike from Larsons Mechanics was fantastic and no he didn't fix my car. He checked it out, said he had a similar problem on his trail blazer and that after 10 hours and a new part the light didn't go off and this was one he recommended going to the dealer... he didnt charge me for checking it out either. I'll be going there again!

So after all that I dropped it off at the dealer. I'll be a weeks paycheck hit for fixing it but at moment cheaper than new car payment (and when you are house hunting they warn you not to get a car loan in middle of it..) so string and tape I'll be fixing this baby as long as I can.

On plus side my boss recommended looking up for coupons and I found one for 5% off service so I save $45 from what I would have paid. Which will pay for a couple of weeks gas now that prices of petrol are $2 mark.

So cross fingers toes and all that I can that be a while yet before she needs another mechanic visit.

Watch the pea

So we are still waiting to hear about the house we put an offer on

Its a short sale which means longest sale ever...

We finally got the assessment done by bank and were ready to start rocking

when the bank who owns the mortgage went under same week


so at new bank now who at least are communicating, even if they are saying wait 6-8 weeks before they get back to us

maybe we're getting a sign we should be moving to North Carolina....

thanksgiving feasts

So Thanksgiving is a holiday that I obviously didn't grow up with not being American. (Although would surprise you how many folks ask me is Thanksgiving the same in Ireland...seriously!) I tell them we celebrate as hard as we can for a normal Thursday..

Anyway Thanksgiving for me is a time to be thankful for family, for 4 day weekend and to eat meals that remind me of Christmas in Ireland but none of the other parts...

This year we decided to keep in low key and I decided not to cook a big dinner or host one. We had got a free turkey from the nice folks at Safeway week before and since we don't have freezer room (ahem freezer is full as there's a siege coming soon!), I decided to cook it and we had a big turkey week before Thanksgiving.

So Thanksgiving day (and the other 3 days!) I got to sleep in till 10am. Wonderful hubbie! I'd get up at 6-7 feed wee lad and then pop back to bed and he would get up with Gandalf and Mammy me got to have a couple of hours more sleep yeah! So Thursday we went to Effies our local restaurant and had a great dinner (lamp chops) and a lovely relaxing at home night.

Then Friday we went to our friends Audrey where she had at least 30 people over and cooked - a Turkey (size of an ostrich really!), lamb, pork, salmon, cranberry salad and more delights. It was wonderful and the company even better although a tight call as the food was that good!

The best was wee man chasing their dog butter who is a huge yellow lab and well named as butter in nature. Wee man shrieked when he saw him and said Kitty Cat which we laughed and said nope its a doggy and then he would run after the dog saying oof ooof. The dog was that bigger that when he walked away from wee man wagging his tail he knocked wee lad over.. He had a ball and was so happy.

I can only imagine what hes going to do to poor Gram and Grandpas doggies in Florida over New Years. They have a toy and miniature Yorkshire - like one is 4 pounds and the other is 10 pounds and our lad is 26 pounds... Should be interesting..

So hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving for those who celebrate and for those who don't hope you had a wonderful well Thursday!