Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ireland–Day 3


(This was the road to our rental house.  It was beautiful!!)

On our third day in Ireland, we decided to go check out a few of the castles.  It started out a little hazy, but on our drive by Lough Derg the sun came out and it was beautiful all day.  I got some great shots from the car as we were driving to the castles.


We passed this park every time we went anywhere, but this day, since it was so pretty and we had a little time, I jumped out and took a few shots.  The fall colors were just gorgeous in Ireland, and when you added the blue sky…  it was perfect.


We also passed through Killaloe every day, but this was on of the best shots I got of it.  The sun just makes everything better!


Up first was Cashel, Ireland.  It was actually in Cashel that Mark got the phone call from his commander telling us that we were going to Phoenix next.  We were sitting in a little pub, next to a fireplace with burning coal.


After lunch we headed out to find the Rock of Cashel.  We saw signs and just started following them.  We passed this church on the way, that was missing a roof.  I love the picture on the right below.  And I also love the mailbox picture.



The Rock of Cashel is on a big hill overlooking Cashel and the gorgeous Irish countryside.  According to mythology, the Rock of Cashel landed here from a mountain 20 miles away when the devil was banned from a cave by St. Patrick.  The oldest part was built around 1100 A.D.


The views from the Rock of Cashel were just breathtaking.  I’m definitely glad we stopped to see this.


Next we drove a little further south to Cahir to check out the castle there.  We decided not to get out, so I just took a few pictures as we drove by.  Cahir seemed like a cute little town.


Lastly, we went to Kilkenny to check out their castle and have dinner.  I loved Kilkenny.  It had a really cute downtown area and the people were very friendly.  We also went to an “outdoor mall” there and checked out Penney’s, which is the Irish version of JC Penney’s.  Cute clothes for really cheap.


I love these pictures of my boys.  And I love that hat on Ben!




We headed back to the house earlier on this day, since we wanted to get an earlier start to see the Cliffs of Moher the next day.  More on that soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tis the season….

…..of stress!!!  And no, I’m not talking about the holidays.  As far as the holidays are concerned, 95% of my holiday shopping is done, all of my packages are already wrapped, packed and mailed off to the States and only Mark’s brother is coming up for Christmas.  Since he’s super laid back, I don’t stress at all when he visits.  And I already have a good start on my 155 Christmas cards I’m sending out this year.

It’s the season of stress because another military move is rapidly approaching on us.  March 2013 is our DEROS date (move month, for you non-military folks) and we are moving to Phoenix where Mark will be an IP (instructor pilot) teaching people how to fly the F-16.  I am VERY excited for Mark since I know he will be a great instructor.  I think he has the perfect personality to teach since he’s almost always calm and collected and I think it will be good for students to see a non-traditional “fighter pilot”.  Plus this keeps him in the jet for 3+ more years, but he’s not at an operational base and instead a teaching base.  So the pace of his job should be much slower at Luke than it is here in Aviano, and we’re both excited about that.  This also sets him up well to apply to TPS (test pilot school), which is what he really wants to do in the long run.

Mark and I have decided that we’re going to look in to buying a house near Luke instead of rent.  We have never owned a house before and it just seems like now might be a good time to buy, especially in Phoenix where the market is just starting to come back up.  Hopefully we can get in while the market is low and sell it a few years down the road when the market is higher.  We would like to rent it out for a few years after we’re done living there, but we’ll see.  It’s all a pretty big gamble and it does make me very nervous, but we are so ready to actually own a home.  And the way I look at it is even if we do end up losing some money in the end, if we rent a house we’ll be paying someone else’s mortgage to the tune of around $1500/month.  Over 3 years that’s around $54000 that we’d never see another penny of if we chose to rent.  At least if we buy, we have to possibility of getting all of that money back, plus some.  So Mark and I have been having fun looking at houses online and working with a realtor in that area.  It’s fun, but it is stressful thinking about owing that much money to a bank.

These next two months are going to FLY by.  We are pet sitting for friends from now until Sunday and then pet sitting for another friend for the week after that.  Mark is going TDY to Germany in early December for a week and in December, I have a minimum of 3-4 commitments every single week.  We’re going to Austria with the squadron for a weekend in December, Mark’s brother, Ryan, is coming to spend Christmas with us (yay!!), Abbie has a dance recital, and we’re taking the Volvo to Munich to be shipped back to the States in late December.  It is possible that Mark will be TDY for a GOOD chunk of January, although I am praying like crazy that that doesn’t happen since I REALLY need his help here.  If he goes on the TDY, the day after he gets back (provided he gets back on time) we’d have the packers and movers come here to pack up the majority of our house to ship our things back to the States.  (They’ll take about 2 months to get to Phoenix, give or take 2 weeks.)  And the day after the movers leave, Mark and I are going to Phoenix for 5 days to meet my parents there to house hunt.  We’re hoping to look at a bunch of houses and make an offer on our favorite within 4 days.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip, but I’m excited.  Brittney is keeping our kiddos for us, and once again, I owe her big time.  I think she’ll have fun with them though, and I trust her 100% with my kids.  I’m so thankful to have friends like that that I actually feel comfortable asking to watch my kids for a week while I go out of the country.  I haven’t figured out how I’m ever going to thank her enough for doing this for us.  In the meantime, apparently all I keep talking about is having like 17 hours of travel WITHOUT KIDS to do whatever the heck we want.  Mark keeps making fun of me for it.  Seriously, I am SO excited about that plane ride.  I can sleep, or watch a movie, or read a book, or sleep, or eat in peace, or go to the bathroom by myself, or sleep, or write letters, or talk to Mark UNINTERRUPTED, or sleep.  I won’t have to entertain 2 kids and try to keep them from disturbing people around us, or get up to go to the bathroom 15 times an hour, or worry about them bumping those little trays and having food or drinks go everywhere, etc.  If you’ve ever flown a trans-Atlantic flight with kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  And my kids are relatively great travelers, but they are 3.5 and almost a year old, so that speaks enough for itself.  How much do you want to bet we get sat next to a 2 year old on the flight…  I’ll cry.

In the meantime, January is going to be insanely busy for me, ESPECIALLY if Mark is gone.  Somehow I need to go through our ENTIRE house and figure out what we need to keep here for the month between when they’re picking up the majority of our stuff and when they’re picking up our unaccompanied shipment – so what we need to live in this house, without the majority of our stuff, for one month.  Towels, dishes, cooking utensils, toys for the kids, etc.  I also need to set apart all of the stuff we want to sell – all of our 220V things that won’t work in the States – lights, vacuums, hair dryers, adapters, DVD players, etc.  If I don’t set them apart, the packers will pack them.  And then I also need to pack our suitcases that we’re going to be taking with us on the plane and living out of for about a month between the TLF’s here and a hotel in Phoenix.  And it’s going to be in the 40’s here and the 70-80’s in Phoenix.  I need to have all the dogs stuff packed and ready to go, all of our stuff packed and ready to go, and I need to go around and videotape and photograph all of our “big ticket” items to prove that they are in great condition before the packers get here.  That way if they don’t make it back in the same condition they left here in, I have proof.  How I am going to do this with two kids, by myself, is absolutely beyond me.  Did I mention that Ben is mobile now?  Oh, and I’m helping co-host two baby showers for two good friends in January also.

Moving is such an exciting time, and we are ready to embark on this new adventure, but it is a LOT to think about and a lot to organize and a lot to keep track of.  We’ve heard from many friends who have PCS’d before us that people at Aviano act like you’re the first person to ever move from this base, and if you don’t watch the packers like a hawk, most of your stuff ends up damaged in the move.  I will be really upset if that happens since we’ve gotten quite a few things over here that won’t be replaceable in the States.

I’m doing my best to keep this blog up and running, mainly for me, since I really want to have this to look back on someday, as a record of our lives.  But it is also stressing me out right now since I feel I have lots to write about, but I just don’t have the time to blog.  My blog used to be my “release”, but it’s more of a burden at this point, just because I am so busy, and have been since August and will be until at least February, and then again in March and April during the closing on a house and moving in and all that fun stuff.  I’m trying my best to keep up with it and I’m sorry for those of my friends and family who wait for my blogs.  I know you’re having to wait a lot of time between blogs now, and I hope I can get back into the swing of blogging soon, but if I don’t, now you know why.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by your families!  I definitely miss being with family during the holidays but hopefully next year we’ll be able to spend them with family!!  This year we’re spending Thanksgiving with our good friends, so I can’t complain.

Until next time…



Friday, November 16, 2012

Ben at 11 months


One more month and Ben is a year old!!  And he is changing by leaps and bounds this month!!  He’s still pretty darn laid back, although he’s getting a bit more fussy since now he wants to hold on to your fingers to stand up 95% of his time awake.  As Abbie did, in one week, he went from just rolling to being able to sit up from laying down by himself, pulling himself up and moving his feet when he holds on to your fingers, pulling himself up to his knees on his own, and getting in to the crawling position and moving forward a little bit.  And he spins on his butt all the time now – just twirls in circles in the middle of the floor.


This little guy eats more than Abbie does.  He can pack food in like none other!  For example, last night he ate one slice of cheese, 2 slices of thin sliced ham, a handful or two of yogurt melts, 3 cracker sandwiches, a jar of baby food, about 15 spoonfuls of fried rice and one of his baby mum-mums.  And he would have eaten more but I cut him off.  He is a little oinker!!  I pretty much feed him little bites of whatever I’m eating, and he LOVES meat.  He hated baby food meat (who can blame him) but he loves “real” meat.


I moved him up to size 4 diapers at night since he was leaking through size 3 ones.  As soon as I run out of the size 3 ones, he’ll be in only size 4.  He’s still in 9-12 month clothes, although I’ll probably be switching that over to 12-18 month stuff soon.  I’m also going to have to move him out of the infant car seat soon because he’s getting really long.


Ben LOVES Abbie.  When she actually plays with him instead of just taking toys from him constantly, they have SO much fun together and he laughs so much at her.  It’s really neat to see their interactions together.  She wants to “spot” him by herself when he’s practicing his standing, or she wants him to hold on to her hand when he practices walking.  I’m sure soon enough he’ll be chasing her all over the place and she’s going to miss the days she could just move away from him.  Although right now he’s pretty darn good at following her around and he loves to get into whatever she’s playing with.  (So they don’t ALWAYS get along….)


He’s still drinking around 24 ounces of formula a day, and he can feed himself a bottle now when he’s laying down, which is nice.  He kind of uses sippy cups although he’s still figuring that out too.  He’s usually in bed by 8:30pm and up around 8am.  He seems to be almost to the point where he could do one nap in the afternoon, but if we put him down for a nap in the morning, he’ll sleep for about an hour and not have any trouble falling asleep.  And he sleeps for 2-3 hours for his afternoon nap too.  He also has 2 of his molars on the bottom!!  He has his 2 middle teeth on the bottom and then his 2 molars, but nothing in between the 2.  He’s had a rash around his mouth for MONTHS on and off now, and I have no clue what’s causing it.  It comes and goes about once a month, but gets really dry and flaky at the worst of it and then goes away.  He had it last week when I took these pictures, and now it’s completely gone.  But it’s been going on for quite a while.  I’m going to ask them about it at his 12 month appointment, although I already talked to them about it at his 9 month appointment and they just said to keep putting stuff on it.


Everyone that watches Ben for us comments on what a good little boy he is.  He really is just a joy to be around and such a happy little guy most of the time.  He is just SO different than Abbie was at this age!  You would tell Abbie no at this age (well, and still, I guess), and she would look you in the eye and do it again.  If you tell Ben no, he actually stops doing whatever he’s doing.  He doesn’t really have any separation anxiety, but he doesn’t like it when you walk away from him so he cries sometimes.  He gets SO excited when he sees Mark or me come in the room – especially Mark when he gets home from work.



And for comparison, here’s Abbie at 11 months and Ben at 11 months.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Abbie’s bad luck

Our poor Abbie can’t catch a break lately!  I feel like the Pordenone Hospital is our second home.  It seems like within a week of us getting back from a trip, we are in the hospital with our little pippers.
Friday, November 2, Abbie was outside riding her bike (with training wheels) and managed to tip it over causing her to fall off the bike.  I wasn’t outside to witness it, but I was told that she didn’t fall very hard and she also had a thick winter coat on.  She did some of her normal screaming when she gets hurt, but when she was still whining/crying about it 20 mins later, I knew something was up and I called the base clinic to see if I could get her seen, but of course, that wasn’t possible.  So then I called the nurse advice line to see if there was some way I could help her at home, and they basically said to have her seen by a doctor immediately.  So that left us with the only option of heading to Pordenone.
My mom and I took Abbie to the hospital, and Mark met us there, while my dad stayed with Ben.  Abbie was doing very well considering her last experience there.  She got upset when the doctors wanted to get near her and she didn’t want to sit on any of the tables, but other than that, she did really well.  We waited about an hour or so to be seen by the peds doctor, who immediately sent us down for x-rays.  Mark was able to go back with Abbie while her arm was x-rayed, and she screamed bloody murder during that part for a minute because they were trying to move her arm, but then she was okay.  The x-rays showed that she had what they called a very minor fracture on the humerous bone of her right arm, above her elbow, so they put a cast on it.  It took 2 doctors and 2 nurses to put this cast on her, while she sat in my lap.  She was really nervous at first, but then she calmed down when she realized that it wasn’t going to hurt.  It took about 2.5 – 3 hours from the time we got to the hospital until the time we left.
Abbie was exhausted when we got home, and even though it was 6pm, I let her go to sleep for a bit before she ate dinner.  I’m fairly certain she would have gone to bed at 6pm and slept until the morning, but I didn’t want her waking up super early, so I got her up and made her eat something.  The first few nights she woke up 4-5 times saying her arm hurt or it itched, so I was up with her a lot.  But after 3-4 days of keeping her on pain meds, her arm wasn’t hurting as much, although it was itching quite a bit.
I had called base on Monday morning to see if we could get the follow up appointment to have the cast removed and they told me that normally the base wants to see people as soon as possible after they get casts in Pordenone.  I was thinking that we would just get the cast taken off on base, 2 weeks later, since the Italian doctors said she needed to keep it on for 2 weeks.
We ended up going to see the orthopedic doctor on base on Thursday morning.  They took more x-rays of her elbow/arm and the doctor told us that her bones were now 1mm differentiated now, and that if we had brought her in there originally, he would have put pins in to set her arm, instead of just a cast.  Since she had had her original cast on for almost a week though, if he had fixed it then, he would have had to re-break her arm in order to “fix” it, so he didn’t want to do that.  He said that her bones not lining up perfectly now wouldn’t cause her any issues later on, so he left it like that.  They put on a different, much lighter and thinner, cast though.  And the doctor and the tech who put the cast on were SO good with Abbie.  She actually enjoyed being there and talked about how nice the doctors were and how they didn’t hurt her at all for 2 days after the appointment.  I’m annoyed that they don’t make exceptions for little ones and get them seen by an orthopedic doctor immediately, instead of sending them to Pordenone and then redoing everything.  The doctor said that the Italian doctors tend to not be as thorough as US doctors are since they don’t have to worry about lawsuits, and also they don’t have as advanced equipment in Pordenone as they do on base, so it’s possible that they couldn’t see the break as well as he could on the x-rays taken on base. Oh, and this cast has to stay on for 4-5 weeks, making the total time 5-6 weeks, not 2… The situation is frustrating.  I am SO thankful we’ll be back in the States in a few months.
Abbie is doing great now.  She can’t do ballet for 4-5 weeks, but other than that, she’s using her arm fine and since this cast is much lighter, she’s more comfortable with it.  She told Mark that the other cast was too tight and that this one is much better.  We have a follow up appointment on base on Wednesday where they’re going to take more x-rays, so we’ll see what they say then.  I REALLY hope that was our last encounter with the Italian healthcare system!
Oh, and Ben was there for the appointment too.  He was a good boy, as usual!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ireland, Day 1 and 2

We (my family and my parents) went to Ireland for a week at the end of October.  I took about a bazillion photos, so I’m going to do the day by day replay of this vacation since it would end up being a 15 page blog post.

We flew from Treviso to Dublin on Ryanair.  In general, I really dislike Ryanair because they nickel and dime you for everything.  You have to pay a bunch for your bags, and if you’re over on the weight at all (you only get 20kg – about 35lbs – per checked bag) they charge you a BUNCH.  But the check-in went smoothly and the flight wasn’t too bad, despite Ben being a bit crabby since it was his naptime.  We grabbed a quick lunch and then started the rental car fiasco…  I had reserved a van online for about $300 prior to us getting to Ireland.  We brought our car-top carrier to get our luggage from the airport to our rental house, but the van I had reserved didn’t have any place to hook it to, and was pretty small so we had to go one size up.  And the real kicker was that we found out our credit card that covers the insurance on rental cars, doesn’t cover rentals in Israel, Jamaica and Ireland.  So, our rental ended up being closer to $1000 than $300, which stunk, but oh well.

We found our rental house, which was located in Whitegate/Lough Derg (pronounced Lock Derg).  The people that owned the house were unreachable, which really annoyed me since we didn’t really know how to turn anything on, or even which house was ours.  But we figured it out.  The house was FREEZING though.  It was that damp cold, which made it worse and we were all wearing our coats and hats in the house it was so cold.  You could practically see your breath.  I was annoyed that they didn’t at least turn on the heat, but they make you pay for all of the gas/electricity you use, so I guess that’s why they hadn’t turned it on.  And I didn’t take any pictures of the outside or inside of the house.  Oops.

The first night I didn’t even get my camera out.  Sometimes it’s kind of nice to not drag around the huge camera and we only went to dinner anyway and then came home.

On Thursday, we headed to southern Ireland to drive the Ring of Kerry.  We stopped for lunch in Adare and had a good (but expensive) lunch at The Blue Door.



From Adare, we headed to Killarney National Park.  We just drove through it on our way to the Ring of Kerry, but it was beautiful and one of the most memorable things I saw on our trip, even though the weather wasn’t the best when we were there.  Just driving around Ireland was gorgeous though.  The fall colors were AMAZING, and even these edited photos don’t really do them justice.


These were all taken in the park.  I jumped out at a little pull off to take some photos and everyone ended up getting out because it was so pretty!


These shots are from Ladies View, which was named after the Queen I think.  It was gorgeous and I can only imagine what it would look like on a sunny day!  They said rainbows were very common in this area, though we didn’t see any.


There are more sheep than people in Ireland, I think.  They were EVERYWHERE, which explains why there was also wool clothing available everywhere.  Apparently they color code their sheep so they know who’s is who’s, which is good since we saw more than one outside the fences.


We drove through Kenmare, which is right on the southern coast of Ireland.  I guess I always thought the cliché “Irish buildings” were just America’s version of them.  Wrong.  They actually look like you see at Epcot and other Irish places in the U.S.  I loved reading all of the names on the buildings.  LOTS of O’____’s and Mc____’s.  It was fun and they were so colorful too!



On our way around the Ring of Kerry, we stopped by Staigue Fort, which is a really old fort kind of out in the middle of no where, and it was surrounded by sheep.  Pretty neat.  I didn’t take many pictures of the whole fort, but I took pictures of my kiddos in it.



We ended up cutting off part of the Ring because it was getting dark and we were hungry.  We stopped in Cahersiveen to eat and by the time we were done eating, it was dark out.  But I got a few more pictures of Ireland’s southern coast before we stopped to eat!