Monday 30 April 2012

Money Maker

Mister Husband has invented something that is going to make us an absolute fortune.  I am so excited I can’t wait.  It’s going to be brilliant!  When I was younger I was a big fan of Enid Blyton and I think there may have been one in her stories.  I am not familiar at all with the Harry Potter phenomenon but quite possibly he had access to one as well.  But that’s all fiction.  This is Real Life.  I’m going to have to research patenting so no-one else can steal his invention.  What is it you ask?  Well, we’re all sitting here, the way we do of an evening.  Screecher Creature No. 4 has just retired for the night.  The telly is on but the Screecher Creatures are ignoring it, more intent on bouncing around the place and generally making very good use of their second wind.    The noise levels are pretty high.  Mister Husband is reclining on the couch reading his nerd book.  Sorry, very important work book with lots of very big and technical words in it.  He hasn’t turned a page in about ten minutes so I don’t know if he is learning it off by heart or just pretending to read.  He always accuses me of reading too fast and wonders how I can remember anything of what I have just read but I can.    So maybe he is really reading it and just having to concentrate that extra bit harder due to the noise.  I’m sitting here typing away; alternating between a parenting website and checking my messages on Facebook.  The Screecher Creatures are flinging cushions around the place and there have already been a few requests for something to eat.  I instructed them to finish the pancakes that are on the countertop.  A short time later I am informed that the water bottles are empty so I hop up to fill them.  Literally hop up.  I was out for my run earlier on but my ankle is in contrary form since the 5k in the Phoenix Park and I am limping somewhat.   Back into my chair and prop up my foot.  Answer a message on Facebook, accept a friend request.  Love doing that!  A jumping competition begins to see who can leap the furthest from the armchairs.  Mister Husband is keeping awfully quiet behind his book.  Stay with me, it sounds like I’m rambling but it’s all connected.  The invention you see.  The invention.  And then the first casualty happens.  It was only a matter of time really.   Screecher Creature No. 2 miscalculated his jumping distance and half landed on, half fell off the chair.  More pissed off than hurt but it doesn’t stop the fire engine shouting and roaring that ensues.  I’m in the same room as him, literally feet away and he comes running over to tell me what he thinks I didn’t see.  Saying I told you so would only aggravate him further so I do a fumbling “there there” pat on the head, give his cheek a kiss and he’s back off to join in the Armchair Olympics.  SpongeBob Square Pants kicks it up a notch on the telly, the washing machine begins its annoying spin cycle in the background and the lads are laughing manically at something one of them has said.  Pardon me whilst I take Screecher Creature No. 3 to the bathroom.  I’m still trying to get him to go by himself but I think he likes the company.  While we’re in there, something whizzes past my head and hits the wall behind me.  It’s a plastic duck.  It seems the games have changed.  But Mister Husband’s position on the couch hasn’t.  This invention is definitely going to yield us a fortune.   And now for the grand reveal.  Mister Husband’s invention is ……………………an invisible cloak!!!!!!  And next time I get to wear it!!!!  I am also seriously thinking about swopping sides of the bed with Mister Husband in an effort to confuse the Screecher Creatures when they come into our bedroom in the middle of the night.  But I know in my heart and soul they will take one look at Mister Husbands sweetly slumbering face and just come on over to the other side.  Back to me.  I have it on good authority though, that revenge is a dish best serve cold and I will be able to extract mine when they are all teenagers.  That’s if I have any energy left!

Friday 27 April 2012

The Running Game

So I believe I can officially call myself a runner.  No more, “yeah, I do a bit of running, you know.” Rather I can now stand up and be counted.  I run.  I am a runner.  I run close to a 5k circuit at least three times a week.  Holy Jesus, when I see that written down, I’m pretty impressed myself.  This time last year, 1st April 2011, I was still pregnant with Screecher Creature No. 4.  He would arrive into the world exactly 8 days later.  I was still pregnant big but I remember being delighted with myself in the hospital because I could get through a door without turning sideways.  I was big.  Oh, I was big!  I didn’t let myself go to seed; instead I took off and flowered only it wasn’t the kind of flower anyone would want in their garden.  I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and this was usually chocolate.  Lots of it.  Heaps of it.  Brendan was born at 8.40pm and I’d been fasting since 11am that morning.  I didn’t hesitate to ask the midwife for a double helping of toast and while I was waiting for it I inhaled the biggest bar of Turkish Delight you can buy.  Followed by three Mars bars.  Another night I ate a whole box of Thornton’s chocolates in one sitting as I fed Brendan.  The large box.  I was unstoppable.  I have heard that chocolate cravings can indicate low magnesium levels but mine must have been non-existent!  I was in dire need of Chocoholics Anonymous.  But in true addiction style, I neither cared nor admitted it to myself.  My milk was yellow, butter yellow and I still believe it was because the fat content in it was so high.  It was always nicely milky coloured with the others.  I don’t know how it wasn’t a rich, chocolate brown this time.  It was only when I stood up on a scales to weigh Brendan one day that I decided something had to be done.  Cutting down drastically on the chocolate intake alone saw me loose a couple of pounds each and every week.  Then I started to walk in the evenings and losing weight became even easier.  Pretty soon I was over a half stone down but the days were closing in.  I invested in a work-out DVD and continued to regularly loose anything from a pound to two pounds a week and I reached my first stone.  I continued to walk at the weekends. I was really enjoying it and started to push myself to knock a few more seconds off my time every other day.  Running never entered my head though.  It wasn’t on my radar at all.  In fact, I still cannot remember the first time I decided to “run a little bit” just to see how I got on.  I have absolutely no recollection of it.  But I did and, according to my calendar, I ran without stopping for the first time in January of this year, covering just under 4k.  Strictly speaking, I have only been running for four months now.  I am also close to being two and a half stone lighter than I was last June.  If I can do this running lark, anyone can.  I found a book called Run Fat B!tch Run by Ruth Field to be really inspiring, helpful and just dam funny in places.  I still pull it out to flick through it.  I am finding that running is a funny business in that it can be quite personal.  I have spoken to people who will only run with someone else.  I am a solo runner.  Others like their own thoughts whereas I’m a big fan of a stonkin’ radio station to push me onwards. Some people run for weight loss and I think it helps keep me sane sometimes!  I like to outrun the frustration and trivialities of everyday life.  It’s also a great way to think.  I heard a lady on the radio talking about how she took up running after having to make a horrific decision about her pregnancy.  I salute the runners who are running through such pain and heartache when it appears that I am just running for shits and giggles; to see if “I can do it.”      If you’re thinking about it, even just a little bit, here are my top tips to get you started.  In the beginning just get out there and do it.  Leaving the house is the first step.  Even if you’re just walking, walk it quicker. One step at a time.  Literally.
A good tip is to run a lamp post, walk a lamp post etc.  That is if there are lamp posts on your route.  I used to try and run half a song and then walk until I caught my breath.
For a while, don’t tell anyone what you’re up to.  You can if you feel you need the extra pressure to keep running but otherwise, keep quiet about it.  When you’re able to run for 15 – 20 minutes without stopping, then tell the world.
Find a couple of routes that you like.  Make sure they are safe, that you are not running on terrain that will cause you an injury or in an area that could compromise your personal safety.  Use common sense.  Be sensible if you run in or near traffic.  You’re a lot softer than any vehicle despite how hard you may look! Wear high visibility clothing.  I’m in search of a vest with reflective stripes for the good weather. 
Don’t run every day.  Give yourself a rest in between sessions.  Try not to take two consecutive days off. 
On the days that you couldn’t be arsed, go for the shorter run or walk.  Trust me, you will feel great that you did it and it removes the guilt that you will feel if you don’t bother going at all. 
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  It’s all well and good to have a goal in mind but make it a small one.  Start by trying to knock a couple of seconds off your time each time you go out. 
Do this for you and you alone.  Make it your “thing.” 
Make sure you warm up before heading out and cool down when you return.  Even for just two minutes. 
Eat well!  You will be pleasantly surprised, as was I, to discover that even though your appetite will increase, you can eat more and still loose/maintain weight.
And don’t fear looking silly or stupid.  Think how you’ll feel (and look!) in a month’s time when you’ve mastered your art!
When you get into your rhythm, don’t break it. Never stop.  Don’t break your momentum.  Slow to a fast walk but keep moving briskly. 
Another thing I was very sceptical about was signing up for a run somewhere.  I was enjoying myself, going at my own pace and then I was gently bullied into the 5k in The Phoenix Park.  It really did give me something to aim towards.  But give yourself a good 6 weeks to train.  
Some runs will be glorious and some will be shite!  Funnily enough, when you know the end is close, it gets harder.  I am practically on all fours at this point sometimes.  Thoughts of what I’m going to eat when I get home usually propel me forwards then!
We all have our reasons for running and whatever they are, may they stand to us and fuel our drive.  Go on.  You know you want to.  You never know.  You might surprise yourself.  I know I did!   


Monday 23 April 2012

Sweet like Chocolate

The wagon is back on the wagon!  I am once again, turning my back on chocolate.  Well, not completely, that would be silly, but I am seriously cutting down again.  Saturday morning I bought two (it’s a treat!) large packs of those giant chocolate buttons.  One of them was free; there’s will power and then there’s martyrdom.  I put one bag in the veggie bin of the fridge and “hid” the other one. And for the first time in my life I used that once laughed at, handy re-seal thing all the chocolate manufacturers think is the best thing since sliced bread.  It does work.  Well, it sticks to the bag, whether or not it will keep me out of it for the rest of the day is an experiment too big even for Einstein I reckon.  But I’m on a mission. This just has to be done.   And I’m also cutting down on the coffee.  Once upon a time a jar of coffee would last the best part of a month in our house.  I used to be a tea drinker.  Still am but having a cup of coffee was easier to drink as I didn’t need the chocolate treat to go with it.  It was impossible to sink a cup of tea without sugar and I take my tea and coffee black so the sugar had to come in the form of chocolate.  Then I grew fond of the coffee and pretty soon it was more than one cup a day.  There was one really cold day this week and if I had one cup I had 15.  I emptied the jar by three quarters.  (Dam!  That proves it.  I always suspected I was a jar half empty kind of person!)  Add all that coffee to the mountains of chocolate I consume and there’s a whole lot of caffeine going on.  It can’t be good.  It just can’t.  So I am cutting back.  I didn’t do too badly over Easter, only put on a pound.  And last week managed to stay the same, I didn’t gain and I didn’t lose.  But I could do so much better.  At least most of the chocolate from Easter has been consumed.  However, there is a new enemy in town.  I’d say it’s bigger than an ostrich egg.  The Screecher Creatures were delighted to be informed that they won the Easter hamper in J-One, Emily Square.  Paws, the Easter bunny teddy underneath all that cellophane, was clutching two chocolate bunnies, one white, and one milk chocolate.  Not very threatening as chocolate bunnies go. The little kinder sized gold wrapped eggs in the front were just plain old cute.  It was the rugby sized, extra thick, larger than life egg the bunny rabbit teddy bear was trying to hatch that whipped the lads into a frenzied state.  On taking it home and freeing it from its plastic confines, it was clear that a hammer will definitely be needed to crack that shell open.   One half could be shared between the four of them and there would still be some left over.  I saw 6 month’s worth of Rice Krispie buns flash before my eyes.  Screecher Creature No. 1 didn’t get his sweet tooth from the ground as I spent Saturday afternoon answering the “when are we opening it?” question and trying to distract him from the dinosaur egg under the stairs.  Chocolate clearly talks to him too!   Seemingly it talks to us all.  I do this “thing” where the Screecher Creatures aren’t given chocolate until they were at least a year old.  I have mellowed with Screecher Creature No. 4 on certain issues but I held my ground on the chocolate.  This Easter he was given his first taste of white chocolate buttons.  Just one or two.  A miserly couple of weeks later, he now goes into a semi hypnotic sway when he sees the packet coming out of the fridge.  Once he even clapped his hands and said something that wasn’t unlike “nom nom.”   He has also made a lunge at a Screecher Creature who was silly enough to under estimate their little brother’s determination, and didn’t pay enough attention.  They paid the hefty price of having their treat snatched out of their hand.   So, you see, the chocolate embargo has to be implemented for my kids’ sake.  I have been guilty of opening the fridge door at 8 o’clock of a morning, sticking my head inside and keeping it there to scoff chocolate unbeknownst to the Screechers.  Now that’s bad.  Mister Husband has asked me if I keep the stuff in the cistern.  It’s not for my good, you understand.  It’s entirely for theirs. It is important that they see me gearing up for a run every other day of the week and equally important that they don’t see their mother stuffing her face with junk.  The spirit is strong and the body is weak but in my case, piss poor would be a better description.  But I’m going to try.  I am going to try and keep the chocolate binges for when they go to bed!  Dontcha just love it when a plan comes together?

Friday 20 April 2012

The Play Date

For a while now, Screecher Creature No. 2 has had to watch his older brother attend birthday parties in play centres, hear his older brother talk about his friends in school and on Saturdays, watch his older brother attend a gym club.  Screecher Creature No. 2 is very hard done by.  He attends Montessori each day but at different times.  His favourite time is the morning; he gives out that he will miss his friends if he goes in the “ahernoon” but still kicks up blue murder when I rock up at 5pm to collect him. He gets upset if he has to leave his jigsaw puzzle or leave the impromptu disco.  He talks non-stop about his friends and likes to make cards for them.  When he is choosing a toy in the shop, he doesn’t pick the one he likes instead chooses one that his friend might like.  For the past while he has driven me demented looking for a play date. He asks me where do his friends live and why can’t he go to their house to play or indeed, when can they come to ours.  I feel sorry for him as he does seem to miss out on all of these little things.  When his older brother had a friend out to play, it was deliberately arranged for a time when Screecher Creature No. 2 was in school as the shouting and roaring (from him) about the unfairness of it all would have sent me shouting and roaring for the nearest refuge.  So tomorrow, Friday, I am doing something about it.  Oisin is coming to play.  Oisin and Screecher Creature No. 2 are firm friends.  Oisin is cool, Oisin loves Mickey Mouse, and Oisin wears beaney hats. Oisin rocks my son’s world.  I don’t know who is more excited about the play date; Screecher Creature No. 2 or me!!  Except I haven’t told him it is happening yet.  I won’t until the absolute last minute as the excitement will be too much for his little body to take and if, for some reason, the play date doesn’t come to pass, the disappointment will be too much for his little body to take.  I can’t and won’t do that to him.  I have more things lined up for them to do tomorrow than I had for the entire two weeks of Easter holiday.  I will bake Smartie cookies and let them shove the smarties into the dough.  I plan to make home-made play dough with them.  Pancakes will be made for tea as these are already a firm favourite in our house but also go down a bomb on Pancake Tuesday in school.   Weather permitting, I have three packets of seeds to be planted and they might like to “help” with that.  The trampoline is always a sure fire winner.  When they need a rest, (in other words when I need a coffee) I might make proper popping popcorn and let them watch a cartoon or two.  It is true that there was never as much preparation done for a play date.  I suppose I am anxious that it goes well for Screecher Creature No. 2.  This is something for him and him alone.  Screecher Creature No. 1 also knows Oisin but I am slightly wary that he will try to take over as is his wont.  It did occur to me to invite a friend out for him too but that would be taking from this treat that is Iarla’s.   So come on tomorrow and let the games begin!!
Friday.  D-Day!
I broke the news at breakfast that Oisin would be coming home with us at lunch time and spending the afternoon.  Immediately Screecher Creature No. 1 kicked up a storm, complete with anguished tears, and he complained loudly that he “never gets anything.” Strangely Screecher Creature No. 2 was silent.  Then he jumped up off his chair and disappeared into his bedroom.  He reappeared moments later clutching Buzz Light Year, a stuffed teddy, a book, The Incredible Hulk and a huge grin on his face.   The selection of toys, he informed me, were the ones he was going to bring to Oisin’s house.   “Eh, Iarla, it’s the other way round, chicken.  Oisin is coming here.  To play with you.”  His face fell and there was a big suck in of breath.  A foot lifted and made contact with the floor as he informed me none too quietly that he “never gets to go anywhere!”   Time to go to school methinks!   I was about 15 minutes late getting to Montessori to pick up the boys this afternoon.  Excitement was huge. Both of them barrelled past me and climbed into the car before I could say “are you ready?”  On the way home, the tyre iron in the back of the car was the focus of a very intense discussion.  They both reckoned it was something to do with taking a hole out of the wheel tyre.  Screecher Creature No. 4 was most interested in this new person and he did a fair bit of looking and shouting.  Screecher Creature No. 2 seized this as an opportunity to lay down some ground rules.  It was strongly advised not to put your finger into the baby’s mouth.  His teeth were not sharp enough to bite it off but he would give it a very good shot!  And then we were home.  The two boyos were out of their seats and at the front door whilst their belt buckles were still being sucked back into the loops. Then followed a brief tour of the house, a few toys were exhibited and they were off out to play.  It did my heart good to see Screecher Creature No. 2 having such fun with a friend of his own.  The others were made up as well.  Even the baby got in on the act and later on in the evening, when I was making the pancakes, he crawled down the hallway to the boy’s bedroom and played with them for ages.  I discovered a long time ago that if even just one of the boys is away doing his own thing somewhere else, it completely changes the group dynamic.  It’s much easier, quieter and the remaining two get on like a house on fire, regardless of the difference in age.  Today I found the same is true when there is a new face in the mix.  It’s not quieter but that is to be expected.  Rivalry is forgotten about; all they want to do is play with the new person.  Thank you Oisin for a really lovely day.  I hope you enjoyed is as much as all of my boys did.