Just a quick post to update the blog on what’s been happening recently. So I arrived back in the USA on December 30th after a wonderful 2 weeks spent with Leanne in Ireland visiting my family. So much has happened since I left Ireland in November 2015 it was great to get home and spent some time with my Mam, brother, sister and friends. 

The goal of our trip was to spend time with my Mam, especially the first Christmas since my Dad passed away last July. I got to say my farewell to my Dad and to spend the time I needed to with my Mam. There was plenty of time in our trip for quality ‘Us’ time for me and Leanne, and the highlight of that has to have been our 3 day trip to Rome. A city thst has the Wow factor around every corner and well worth the visit. 

And so our trip came to an end and a s a surprise for Leanne I managed to get us upgraded for business calls for the transatlantic flight back to America. But before we could enjoy the flight I had to go through US Customs and Immigration. Leanne, as a US citizen, is able to go through US customs and immigration really quick while as a green card holder, it takes me a little longer. But as usual the staff at customs were efficient and even though it took an hour, I was cleared and ready to join Leanne for our return trip. That bit was always going to be a bit nerve wracking but it has to be done and I am thankful it went smoothly. 

And so we are back stateside and life continues. When I look back over the last 12 months and 2016, it has been a momentous year, a 1 year wedding anniversary, my Dad passing away, Robert coming to visit, travelling with Leanne to new cities and counties, starting my career here in the USA, and generally really settling into life here. Being home did remind me of some of the things I missed most beside family and friends, a decent Irish pint of Guinness, a packet of King Crisps, a roast beef carvery dinner in the pub and most of all, proper chipper chips with yummy fried chicken! 

There could be some exciting news coming my way soon so keep an eye out on the blog for the latest as I continue my journey in America with wife. They say hone is where the heart is, and mine is firmly based here in the USA now even though I will always hold Ireland and everything Irish very close to me. Being Irish is what defines me, what made me who I am today and mixing it with my American life can only make it more interesting. 

Happy Holidays? Sorry it’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Happy Holidays? Sorry it’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

If the words Happy or Merry Christmas offends you well I am very sorry for you as you probably need lighten up a little. As an Irishman living in the USA I am hearing Happy Holidays everywhere I go and it’s funny as a lot of workers get one day off, Christmas day, and that’s not much of a holiday. So call it what it is, Christmas. Or even Happy One Day Off work. Can just see Hallmark making the cards already. And I know people call it happy holidays for different reasons but it’s up there with Y’all and awesome as phrases I won’t be using for a while yet. 

Anyway, I am posting today to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as this day week I fly to Ireland with my beautiful wife to spend Christmas with my family and friends back home. There is a saying ‘home is where the heart is’ and there is no doubt mine is here with Leanne in the USA, but there will always be a part of it back in Ireland. 

So be kind, be nice and be safe. Have a lovely Christmas and holiday and don’t eat or drink to much, well that last bit is a bit tongue in cheek. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I will be back in early 2017 posting on the blog. 

8 months and counting 

8 months and counting 

Just the other day I celebrated my first July 4th as a US resident. The whole weekend was fun and we went to 2 firework displays, one in Stone Mountain on July 3rd and tge other in Decatur on July 4th itself. The day of July 4th was spent at Briarcliff Pool and Tennis Club, of which we are new members, and it was fun. The sun was shining, the sodas and  beer were cold, and the burgers and hot dogs tasty. 

But back to the fireworks in Stone Mountain, I was impressed by the whole event, from the car parking to the actual lasershow and fireworks. During one part the crowd stood to applaud the US Military and the goosebumps part was when the US National Anthem was played to a crescendo of fireworks and everyone standing a singing the anthem. As a recent immigrant, this even made me proud too and one day it may be my anthem  as well as the Irish one.  

Stone Mountain Fireworks for July 4th

The exit from Stone Mountain took a while as there was 3 different car accidents, all probably caused by following to closely or lane changing to quickly. Both of these things are lethal on the roads around Atlanta but especially when it’s dark and traffic volume is very heavy. And it’s all down to impatience and bad driving habits. Oh and automatic cars don’t help as drivers think they can accelerate like a Formula 1 race car! 

Anyway, onto the July 4th celebrations last Monday. As I said we spent the day at the pool, just relaxing and enjoying ourselves. It was great to have my son Robert here to share my first July 4th with. In the evening we went into Decatur to see the parade and fireworks. Well they called it a parade, but realistically it was juat normal people jaywalking down the street with no traffic! We settled down onto the Square to watch the fireworks, and though not as impressive as Stone Mountain, they were good. Maybe it was because the music to accompany the fireworks wasnt amplified enough to be heard but it lack a bit of punch. 

Decatur Fireworks on July 4th

And so after 8 months in the USA I got to celebrate one of the special holidays for Americans, one thst is full of pride, Nationalism and fun. I will always remember my first July 4th, as it was spent with my wife and my son, the 2 most important people in my life.

Waiting on the Decatur Fireworks to start

The weekend ended with an alarm to head to work on Tuesday morning, and after so long waiting on the paperwork to be able to work it was actually nice to be able to go to work. So within 8 months of arriving here, I am driving with a full licence, I have celebrated numerous American holidays, including Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and July 4th, I have volunteered at Hospice Atlanta Camp Stars, done my first official and paid photography jobs, got a 9-5 job, visited Michigan and the parents in law, got my Permanent Resident Card, and so many other things thst are too numerous to mention save one more, I married my best friend and am sharing a wonderful life with her. 

Presidents Day and other holidays

I have been here three months now and have been able to see how the USA celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year as well as lesser observed holidays like Martin Luther King day and today’s holiday, Presidents Day.

Thanksgiving is definitely the biggest family occasion with Christmas coming in a close second. The traditions of Thanksgiving seem to get passed from generation to generation while Christmas, even though will still hold family traditions, new ones are made as families grow up and spread their wings throughout the USA. This is just a simple observation from myself, a newcomer to the whole Thanksgiving holiday as we don’t celebrate it in Ireland.

Anyway, back to today’s holiday, one that is observed by Federal government and their employees. So schools are closed, federal offices are closed but private companies are all at work. This isn’t a new phenomenon to me, back when I was the Defence Forces in Ireland we had a 3 holidays that no knew else in the country received.

Presidents Day

So what is Presidents Day?  Originally it was supposed to be a celebration for George Washington’s birthday which falls on February 22nd. In what seems a smart move by a government, in 1971 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved nearly all holidays to a Monday to allow more 3 day weekends for workers. Off course as most employees don’t get Presidents Day off work, it’s a kinda pointless thing. But it does help for other holidays throughout the year.

US Presidents Seal

Nowadays Presidents Day is to celebrate all Presidents, not just Washington. There are four living Ex US Presidents, George HW Bush, Jimmy Carter, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, with the present President, Barack Obama, making it five. Here in Atlanta, the city has the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum so maybe Presidents Day is a good day to visit, or definitely soon after. It is on my to do list in the summer when my son comes to visit.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

USA Holidays

I am looking forward to celebrating some more US holidays like July 4th but for me March 17th and St Patrick’s Day will be my big holiday. I am also interested to see how US citizens celebrate Easter, is it all about Easter Eggs, or is there a religious aspect to the whole time around Easter.