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April and Colum at the McLean Avenue parade in Yonkers last year. Photo by: Handout

The Irish Homecoming: Marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade at home but thinking of New York

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April and Colum at the McLean Avenue parade in Yonkers last year. Photo by: Handout

Aside from all the celebrations coming up (and of course we have Easter two weeks later) life in Ireland has been busy.  It’s the middle of March already and I’ve not caught up with my to-do lists I created in January, but I guess that’s always the case, isn’t it?

The plan to lose 10 pounds is still just that, a plan.  I did, however, join the sports club at the University of Limerick, where I work Monday to Friday. I attend classes during my lunch hour or after work when I can, and if anything it has given me more energy and focus during the day.

It hasn’t helped me shed those few pounds, but then again in order to do that I would have to give up the sweet things I enjoy so much and that has been hard.

It was Valentine’s a few weeks ago, Mother’s Day was this past Sunday and now we have St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. There is always an excuse I guess!
We are still on the house hunt. We have seen over a dozen homes at this stage, and if I’m being honest nothing has jumped out at us yet. 

Some were above our budget but they were open to offers. Others were in our budget range but needed work.

I guess we have been spoiled where we currently rent.  We live in the countryside, have amazing views and extreme peace and tranquility (and a mouse according to John about five minutes ago, but I’m not going to think about that).

We are renting a rather large house (too big to keep clean and heat), but the space is fantastic for the kids and our entertaining nights.  The great thing about renting -- and we were advised to do so by so many people prior to moving back home -- is being able to test out the country living, the house size and the bills that come with it.

In this current climate we could afford a decent size house, but the question is do we want to tie up all our savings (and eliminate future savings) on an oversized home with great curb appeal, or do we want to scale back and buy something much more affordable, smaller and possibly in a housing estate.

We are of two minds, but at the moment we have been leaning more on the latter because we would still like to get away on our holidays every year and afford to be able to have a few nights out as well.

We will see. No doubt our minds will change over and over so watch this space.
One thing is for sure, though -- houses in Limerick are selling. Several houses that we have been tracking online (daft.ie) over the past few years have just begun to sell.

The banks are lending again, albeit cautiously and rightly so. It’s nice to see things moving, but it’s putting a little smoke under us also to get going.

In other day to day Irish living news, I registered the children in an Irish speaking school not too far from here last week. There are four Irish speaking primary schools in Limerick, but they all have waiting lists a mile long. Sadie is one and Colum is two. I was told by several parents that I’m leaving it very late to register them. 

We’ve also been in discussions about pulling the children out of the day-care and hiring a babysitter at home or an au-pair.

It breaks my heart to think about pulling them out of their crèche. They love the structure and routine. They have so much fun, learn so much and enjoy the company of other children.

But the figures are getting a little on the high side. It costs us €12,500 a year (about $16,000) to have them there. An au-pair is a little over €5, 000.

Several of our friends have au-pairs from Europe living with them for a year. I do not entirely love the idea, but again watch this space.

Okay New York and America, Happy St. Patrick’s Day and think of us all here in Ireland when ye celebrate over the next few weeks.

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