And so ends the summer of 2016

And so ends the summer of 2016

Labor Day marks the end of my first summer in the USA. And what a summer it has been, Robert over for 6 weeks, started my first job here, went on a road trip to Michigan, survived over 70 days of temperatures over 90° and generally have settled into life in Atlanta. 

Ten months ago I stepped onto a plane to no start a new life here with Leanne, get married and open up a whole new world of opportunities and a new chapter in my life. Turning 49 only in July and getting to spend my birthday with Leanne, her parents and Robert has to have been a highlight of the summer even if it was tinged with sadness at the passing of my Dad two days earlier. 

And so we start to enter autumn, or Fall as it is called here. This will lead to its own challenges, especially in the back garden which will soon be covered in pine leaves and cones. Last spring I took 100 bags from the garden but this year I hope to be able to stay ahead of it by a weekly trip out back to keep it clear. 

On the professional front my photography business is starting to see some dividends but it is a slow process growing a business in a new city and country but with hard work and a slice of luck it will be okay. 

As a couple we are heading into a busy few months socially, 2 weddings in a few weeks, a weekend away in Charleston, Thanksgiving, a trip home to Irelans as well our first wedding anniversary and my first anniversary of the day I left Ireland. I will endeavor to keep posting on at least a semi regular basis as I settle into life and look forward to the future. 

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Weekend in Michigan

Weekend in Michigan

So this weekend past was my first time to visit Michigan and to stay at my parents in law with Leanne, her parents and her sister Melissa. It’s the first time we have been together since our wedding back in December and even though it’s for a somber occasion it’s good to spend time with my in laws.

They are really good people and my new mother in law, Terri, recently lost her mother and the funeral was this weekend. I was honoured to be able to give my support to my new family at this sad time, especially Leanne as she mourned her grandmother.

This post is a gallery of images that I took over the weekend, from the time we boarded our flight in Atlanta on Thursday to our return flight on Sunday. I have included images from our flights, the house in Oscoda, MI, a couple from the funeral as well as some from our activities over the weekend. Michigan is very different to Georgia especially the area around Flint and up towards Oscoda by way of Saginaw. It’s very flat and and the roads seem to go on forever. One thing I did notice is the amount of US flags outside houses and businesses.I hope you enjoy the gallery of images and all photos were taken with my smartphone but in July I will be back in Michigan and will have my trusty Canon DSLR with me.

Exciting times ahead

Exciting times ahead

This post will be a small bit all over the place as I have lots of different bits of news. Let’s get the biggest bit out of the way first. Last week I celebrated 6 months in the USA and on Tuesday night we got confirmation that my application for a Green Card was approved and I am now a legal permanent resident of the USA. USCIS have been quick and efficient all the way through this process and even with a few hiccups it went smoothly. It’s only 13 months since our first application so to be at this step already is good as we weren’t expecting to get here till around September.

Moving on the job hunting is going ok, have had a few interviews and all went really well but as I am away this weekend they have been put on hold till Monday so hopefully something will come along then. On a more professional level I have registered my business trade name for my photography business and next week I will also be registering my business for a Georgia business license.

As I said I am away this weekend for a personal reason, visiting the in laws for Leanne’s Grandmothers funeral in Saginaw, MI. We took our first flight together yesterday, flying from Atlanta to Flint, MI arriving into a lovely thunder and lightning storm and this morning woke up to a lovely blue sky and sunshine. The view here is fantastic and I can’t wait to come back up in July for a happier occasion.

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Oscoda View

Our visit this time is as I have mentioned is for a sad occasion and a funeral but I am glad I am able to be here to support my wife and here family on this sad time. I have already had a walk around this morning and it is absolutely lovely, my new parents in law have a lovely home in a lovely area of Oscoda. I have mentioned I never met Leanne’s grandmother but I had spoken to her once and I can see the influence on Leanne.

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The house in Oscoda

Tomorrow is the funeral so there want be any post from me till at least Monday when I get back to Atlanta. It will be back to job hunting and getting my business up and running. You can check out my business website at www.amanwithhiscamera.com. That’s all for now so have a good weekend and I will be back early next week.

Travelling to Michigan

Travelling to Michigan

Tomorrow I will be travelling to Michigan with Leanne for not only my first visit to Leanne’s home state but it will also be our first trip out of Georgia together and our first time on a plane together. I had hoped that my first trip to visit my new parents in law was for a happy occasion but unfortunately it is for a funeral for Leanne’s grandmother who passed away recently. I never did get to meet Leanne’s grandmother but we did video chat once before I moved over to the states last year.

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Leanne's Grandmother who passed away recently

We will be visiting Oscoda, MI and my introduction to where anywhere is in Michigan is to use your hand and point to it at roughly where the location is on your hand and that will be roughly where you are heading in Michigan. We will be making a return visit to Michigan in July when Robert is over and that will be a road trip from Atlanta with not only Robert but the 2 dogs as well. I am looking forward to driving through the US countryside and visiting a few more states.

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Oscoda, Michigan

So a visit to Michigan will be preceeded by getting through security at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta. Recently this has been in the news due to long queue times, some over am hour, and the closure of one of the security screening areas. The days of turning up for a flight like getting on a bus are long gone.

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TSA queues at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta

I can only imagine if when I worked in Dublin Airport if we had queue times like Atlanta, someone would be losing their job. It is a pressure and a balancing act, deal with long queues safely, get people through quickly and efficiently but at same time doing the job of keeping everyone safe and secure while travelling. So next time you are in a queue, remember that the guys and girls doing that thankless job in TSA, are doing it for your safety and the safety of the skies so we can all travel in the knowledge that someone is trying to stop the bad things happening.

Little bit of Family

Little bit of Family

Well when I started this blog the intention was to have it tell the story of some of my life in Ireland, how I came to the USA, the continuing story of Leanne and I, the cultural differences I have encountered and really anything else that just popped into my head. As the blog evolves some things will change and as with my life that’s a good thing. Today though I am going to talk about my family, not only my own direct family but the family here who have been so kind since my arrival.

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My Family, including my sister and her husband and 2 children, my brother, my Mam, Leanne and I. Left to Right :John (Brother), Billy, Leanne, Mam, Sister (Anna) Paul (Sister's Husband) Sean and Hannah (Sister's Children in Front)

Above is a picture of my family taken when Leanne was over to visit Ireland in July 2015. We managed to get nearly everyone together so we definitely had to get a photo. Missing from the photo is my son Robert, my Dad and my brothers wife, Jane. We are a relatively close family but we are all also quite stubborn and independent. Like all families we disagree but we know we only have to pick up the phone and call if we need help, even if we are to stubborn to call at times. I do miss my family and it probably was one of the hardest things to do was say goodbye to my Mam and Dad.

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My Mam and Robert just before I left a Ireland

My Dad is in a care home since late 2014 with Alzhemiers and it’s very hard on my Mam. For 6 weeks before I left I lived with my Mam and it was nice to be able to share that time with her. She is doing great but she does miss her husband and partner and it can be difficult at times. They have both supported me through the difficult times I encountered during the 2000’s and my Mam supported my choice to move to the States. This support was very important because we are both fully aware that one of these days I will be saying goodbye to fly back to the USA and it could be the last time we see each other. That is hard but my Mam told me to go and be happy and love the girl I was to marry always. She seen how happy Leanne made me so she was right behind our decision to marry and be together.

Moving stateside and getting married meant I would have new in laws. I had spoken to Bob and Terri (Leanne’s parents) on the phone and we kept in touch via email, and we still do as they live up in Michigan. My very first conversation with my future parents in law was a little over a year ago and it was to ask their permission to marry Leanne. It obviously went well as 9 months later we got married. That being the first call kind of set a trend, as my first time to meet Bob and Terri was on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving in Atlanta airport when I had to collect them on my own as Leanne had to work. I then had to drive from the airport back to our house in Friday traffic which in Atlanta is crazy and I was only driving 2 weeks in the USA. Again it must have went well as the wedding wasn’t called off and I am still here.

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Bob and Terri with us at our rehearsal for the wedding

Leanne’s parents, just like my own, have been fantastic all the way through this process. From that first phone call a year ago to today they have taken me to their hearts and I am eternally grateful for everything they have done for me and us. Of course getting married extends your family as I now have a sister in law. I met Melissa just before the wedding last December and even though we had exchanged an email or 2 you never know how it’s going to go when you meet the sister of your bride to be. I need not have worried as Melissa also has been fantastic, and in my speech at the wedding I mentioned I had a new sister, and I echo that today. The in law bit can be removed as not only have Bob and Terri become family, so has Melissa.

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My newly extended family, Bob and Terri, Billy and Leanne, and Melissa with her fiancée Mickey

I haven’t mentioned my son a lot in this post because he deserves a post all of his own and I hope to write that in the coming days. Family means a lot to me, and I probably don’t tell them often enough, but they are my family and I love every one of them. I look forward to seeing my Irish family when we return there in December and to seeing my new American family when we visit Michigan in July with Robert.

Welcome to St Pats to Spartans

Welcome to St Pats to Spartans

This site will become my journal. But before I begin I must fill in some back ground. Why the title?…..well I am 48 and from Inchicore in Dublin, Ireland and St Patrick’s Athletic FC were and still are my team. In November 2015 I moved to Decatur, GA to move in with and marry my sweetheart, Leanne, who hails from Michigan. She attended Michigan State, hence the Spartans are now my team here in the USA. St Pats to Spartans.

This blog will chart our journey from when we met in 2001 to the present day as well as our future together as we enjoy our lives and any challenges it brings from my perspective.

Photo courtesy of http://www.zedzay.com  Gretchen Dzedzej10So who are we? Well I am Billy and I will be your writer and guide throughout this blog. As I have said, I am 48 and born and bred in Dublin, Ireland and have recently moved to the USA to be with Leanne. She is a Michigan born girl who moved to Atlanta a number of years ago. The blog will go through how we met, kept in touch and will bring you on our journey to our wedding and onward as we embark on our life together.

But the blog will also chart my new life in America as I embark on a whole new chapter, from learning to navigate my way through supermarkets, paperwork, re learning to drive, getting set up with a job and learning a whole new culture and way of doing things.

So please join me and us on this, Our Journey Together and America though the eyes of an Irishman

Follow on Twitter @PatstoSpartans