Friday, 31 August 2012

Big Bird. Week Five. Food for Thought

“I would exercise but it makes me spill my drink”
You know when you just know something without seeing it written down, without being told about it?  You just know?  Kind of like, don’t touch that boiling hot thing, you’ll get burned.  The same as knowing if you don’t put the milk back in the fridge it will sour.  Being aware that if you don’t feed your kids, they will be taken from you.  That kind of stuff.  Well, my eureka moment this week was a little bit like that.  I knew it already, everyone does, but I still wasn’t doing it.  It’s the whole “if you don’t buy the bloody chocolate you won’t be able to eat it” theory thus it will naturally follow that extra weight will not be gained.  See?  Simple.  Everyone knows this. Simple yet so dreadfully hard to actually do.  Now, I can’t walk past Penney’s.  I am physically unable to do it.  It’s my idea of a pound shop that sells clothes. I even get a slight quiver about my person whenever I enter its hallowed ground.   Equally I am without willpower when it comes to ignoring those large I-will-in-my-arse share bags of giant chocolate buttons.  When the supermarket has them on offer at two for €4, well, damn, I have to be held back from loading up the trolley.  Once upon a time our weekly shop came in at just under €100.  Over the last six months or so it has been creeping up to €150.  This increase would have a lot to do with being shadowed by four kids and a Mister Husband.  Screecher Creature No. 4 has rapidly reached the age where he screams blue murder when he sees his older brothers get something and his isn’t forthcoming.  So he has to be included in everything now.   It’s usually a useless piece of brightly coloured plastic which is utterly and inextricably linked to their very existence and they simply must have it.  Mister Husband’s weekly toy treat alternates between yet another set of headphones and a manly tool of some description or other.  (If he would put away his many, many, many headphones after he is finished using them, the kids or Juno wouldn’t get their collective paws on them and eat them!) And one of the biggest expenses, it has to be said, are the treat items.  I buy treats for me, treats for Mister Husband, treats for the Screecher Creatures, treats for treat Friday in school, treats for group and oh look, I’ve never tasted those before treats.  So naturally the cost of our weekly shop was on the increase.  It was, in the words of all the best and Oscar winning drama queens, getting out of control.   So I decided to drastically curtail the junk food that liked to bungee jump off the shelves and into the trolley. Bring on the eureka moment:  if it’s not in the house, it cannot be eaten.  Ok, so I was climbing the walls looking for some chocolaty goodness to have with a coffee on Monday afternoon, but because there was none to be had, I just had to suck it up.   I did buy some chocolate.  Two things I definitely am not are (a) a lady and (b) a saint.  My beloved giant chocolate buttons came home with me but I also discovered the true meaning of the expression “puppy dog eyes.”  Not only am I in full on sharing my chocolate mode with the Screecher Creatures, Juno loves me to death. I accidently dropped a chocolate something or other on the floor and she pounced before I could.  Queue full on puppy dog eyes.  Every time I go to the fridge.  She knows this is where the melty stuff lives.  She’s only been in the house a couple of months and already she knows why I go to the fridge so often. It’s all good.   I’m thinking when the boys are back in school proper and all nicely settled down, I’m going to hit this potty training lark full on.  Me and a giant bag of Maltesers.  I’ll have her peeing in the garden and not all over the house in a week. Heck, I’d pee in the garden if someone was going to reward me with chocolate. 

01 August - eleven stone three and a half pounds.                                                                09 August - eleven stone.                                                                                                         16 August - eleven stone and half a pound. 
23 August - eleven stone and three quarters of a pound. 
30 August - eleven stone and half a pound.  (Smiley face!)



Monday, 27 August 2012

Well Holy God! Back to School!

I woke up this morning and I swear to god I could hear the theme tune from Glenroe1. It was really weird.   

A really, really weird soap opera set in Wicklow, outlining the shenanigans of a curly haired farmer and his missus. Or was she the one with curly hair?  

Anyhow, a few hundred deprived Irish people, with nothing better to do, used to turn on their tellies of a Sunday evening to watch the shenanigans of Miley and Biddy.  The farmer and his wife.    Two monikers, I’m sure, that will never reach the top five most popular names in Ireland.  Oh, wait.  Isn’t there a Miley Cyrus somewhere?  Fancy that!  Also quite possibly all the bales of hay in this god only knows why, popular Irish soap were the inspiration for many a Mills & Boon backdrop. 

 Didn’t Miley do the bold thing with a relative of his missus in the barn once?  I suppose even 50 Shades of Grey had to start somewhere.  Anyway, back to what I was saying. I definitely heard the theme tune of Glenroe playing this morning.  Straight away I was flung back to secondary school on a Sunday night.  In a mad panic because my sums weren’t done, hadn’t learnt my chapter on Peig Sayers2 and the next day being Monday, meant I had Home Economics and fekin PE.  Both double classes.  

In those days I travelled to school by bicycle so I had a school bag the size of a 6 man tent strapped to the carrier on the back and on the handlebars because it was Monday, a bag of Pyrex dishes3 and flour swinging out of one handlebar, a sports bag with a grungy tracksuit and pair of manky runners on the other.

For me, the theme tune of Glenroe, straight after Where in the World (remember that?  With the Farah Fawcetty hair on Theresa Lowe) whipped me into a frenzy.  I would approach my mother holding a notebook and pen with the instructions to write a “please excuse Herself for being late,” note in an effort to save time in the mornings.

We were supposed to be in school for 9am but typically we would just be leaving the house at that time.  My mother cottoned on to my time saving scheme and after a while I found myself writing the notes, one for us all, and she used to sign them.  The stress of it.  As a result I have to be three hours early for everything these days. 

And now there is worry of a different nature as my kids are off to school in a matter of days.  I find myself fretting about one of them in particular.  As I’m stooped over him and wiping his arse, I wonder who is going to do this for him in school.  I shudder at the thought.  He also has a huge propensity for removing his shoes. The souls of his feet are black, stained with dirt.  Dirt that cannot be removed.  The skin will have to regenerate and rejuvenate to make them clean again.  I’m thinking about painting his feet, with permanent body paint so it looks like he wears shoes.  Would he get away with it I wonder? 

But there is his other fondness too.  The one that is not so socially acceptable.  He likes to get naked. I can see my note writing days starting up again. Let’s see.  “Dear Muinteoir4 Maire Dolores, this is Iarla’s mammy.  He likes to get his kit off on occasion and get comfortable. Apologies in advance.   Please don’t get a fright.  P.S.  Isn’t his farmers tan lovely?”    

Because I am lucky enough to have 3 readers in America, 7 in Australia and a few others dotted around the globe, the following Glossary is for your benefit.  

Glenroe1: as briefly mentioned above, was a dreadful, beyond awful, full on Irish accented soap opera that ran for too many years.  I believe the priest on the pulpit one Sunday morning may even have mentioned the car crash in which poor Biddy, the farmer’s wife, bought the farm. Like Dallas, when Bobby died, ratings plummeted afterwards but unlike Dallas, Biddy did not show up in the shower a year later.  This is because they didn’t have showers on Glenroe farm.  A re-incarnated Biddy in the bath would have killed off the elderly viewers so they scrapped the soap shortly afterwards and these days people are glued to another one called Fair City.  Or Fairly Shitty if you want to know the truth.  

 Peig Sayers2.  Another Irish myth/legend/battle axe.  I can’t remember much about this old Irish lady.  I studied her (loosely, mind, very loosely) for about five hundred years in school and I think she came from the West of Ireland.  Her life by all accounts was considered fascinating enough to put on paper.  She bored the hell out of everyone in school and we all wished her dead.  Sorry, but we did.  I also studied Shakespeare and I enjoyed this very much but Peig Sayers, I would have paid good money to have shoved off the cliffs and into the sea.  

Pyrex dishes3.  These are I am led to believe, an Irish phenomenon but I doubt it.  A heavy duty, thick as your skull type of glass that can withstand sarcasm and heat of a fierce temperature.   When I was growing up we had a particularly large and heavy one, complete with lid.  It managed to survive my bicycle for my secondary school career, plus the cooking.  
Muinteoir4:  the Irish word for teacher.  My boys attend a lovely, lovely school.  There is no Yessir/ Yesmiss here.  It is all Muinteoir Daithi, Muinteoir Sinead, etc.  God, school.  Eight short weeks ago I was wondering how on earth we were going to fill the summer holidays.  It is now early Autumn and for Screecher Creatures No. 1 and 2, the school gates will be open in three more sleeps.   

Well, holy God!    5Well Holy God was one of Miley’s daft catholic utterings.  He didn’t say much else. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Big Bird. Week Four. Smoke and Mirrors

My mind says I’m in my twenties but my body says, “Yeah, you wish.”
Is it just me or does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with mirrors in changing rooms.  Especially the ones that have the three way mirrors.  You go in with your selected “this is gonna make me look skinny” outfit, try it on and then get a load of your rear end/hips/tummy/bust or indeed all five (yes five!!!  I still haven’t figured out where the fifth bulge comes from but it’s there!) And want to put your foot through the image in the mirror.   This is the hate mirror.  I hate the way it makes me look when I felt alright about myself before I tried on that damn outfit.  Sometimes this mirror also reflects three small children by my side and I hear the fourth one laughing away in his buggy as Mister Husband distracts him.  I seldom get into a changing room alone; it’s as if the boys are making me face up to the fact that it is because of them, because I am a mother, my body will never be the same again.  Making me realise I should be realistic and put down the size 12 and pick up the size 14.  I have a healthy body image.  I reckon I do, at least.  Yes, sometimes when I remember I’ll suck in my tummy.  Most times though I have a small child on my hip and I can shift him around a little bit so he hides that nice soft area for me, thank you very much, Screecher Creature.  I do not intend to spend the rest of my life struggling with my weight, I refuse to count calories.  In fact, I haven’t got the first idea about them, or “sins” or “points.”  I pretty much eat what I like but I do try to be sensible about it.  Yes, there are days when I give the finger to “sensible” and eat a small child’s body weight in junk food.  But if I want to have that slice of cake after dinner, I usually go right ahead and have it.   Back to those funfair mirrors.  The love part of the mirror relationship is when they make me look lovely, slim me right down, some of them even give me high cheek bones, but when I get home it’s a different story.  The cheeks are back to their usual roundy pudginess and the ones that I could have sliced cheese on are left behind in the shop. Where I should have left the outfit as well.  Is it the lighting in there or what because those trousers sure didn’t look like that in the shop. Mannequins have a lot to answer for.  I see something on a plastic, unrealistically proportioned androgynous thing in the window and for some reason I reckon it’s going to look like that on me.  I know immediately when something isn’t going to fit.  With trousers, my thighs are the telling point.  Midway up I know by the hesitancy of the garment to go any further if I need to abandon the mission.  Similarly when trying on something that needs to go on over my head.  My head is never the problem; it’s getting it down over the tops of my arms that can cause major panic.  I remember trying to try on, or attempting to try on, a dress.  It reached that point of no return on the tops of my arms and I should have listened to it.  But I didn’t.  I thought if I could just pull it down a tiny bit more, I’d be home and dry.  I wasn’t.  I got stuck.  Arms held rigid over my head with the dress handcuffing them in place.  Half of it covering my face.  I couldn’t see, I found it impossible to move and suddenly, increasingly difficult to breathe.  I thought I was going to die and my thoughts immediately turned to what kind of underwear I was wearing.  Were they clean?  Did they match?  Did they match?   I am the mother of four kids, my underwear never matches!  I had to borrow my labour breathing technique.  This is different from regular breathing.  With regular breathing, you just, well, you breathe.  But with birth breathing, you kind of huff and puff and pant a little bit.  And try not to hyperventilate.  I could feel beads of sweat starting to break out on my forehead and the tops of my arms were starting to go a bit numb.  It was only about a minute but it felt like time had stood still.  Not only was I going to die from suffocation by a dress, the event was going to end up on YouTube.  I have this little paranoid fear that a perv has stashed a camera into the ceiling over the changing cubicles and is recording women in various stages of undress.  I usually tell myself that I’m no-one’s demographic but dying inside a dress might earn him some money if he sent in his video tape to one of those Candid Camera TV shows.  Well, stranger things have been known to happen.  I forced myself to calm down and managed to shoehorn myself out of the dress.  Anyone in the cubicle next to mine would have been forgiven for thinking I was giving birth with all the grunting and groaning I was doing.  I also managed to tear the dress a little bit.  Just a little bit.  As all the best midwives say, “just a stitch or two and you’ll be as good as new.”  Same thing with the dress.  You should have seen the state of me, however.  A lovely red line gouged into my forehead from where the dress got stuck.   I make sure I listen to my arms, and my thighs, these days whenever I am trying anything on.  You will see from my log below that I seem to be going backwards instead of forwards.  ‘Tis most annoying.  Looks like I may start getting strict with myself or I’ll never shift that half stone.  But, the odd thing is, my shape seems to be changing.  I managed to fit into a size 12 trousers this week.  I had to put it back though as despite being able to close it up and move (a little bit) in it, I knew even a sip of water would make me regret wearing it.  Nearly there but no dice.  I’m still doing my weights in the mornings and evenings and I think next week I will up the reps a bit to make it more challenging.  The evenings are closing in now too and pretty soon my runs will be weekend events only.    I am trying to make the most of them while I can.  Stay good!
August 2012 - eleven stone three and a half pounds.                                                                                     9th August – eleven stone.                                                                                                                                   16th August - eleven stone and half a pound.                                                                                                 23rd August – eleven stone and three quarters of a pound. (only a quarter of a pound but still)                                                                                                                                               


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tayto Park

Screecher Creature No. 1 had been going on about Tayto Park in Co. Meath for ages.  Ever since Mr. Tayto himself showed up on all of those billboards, in his pyjamas, smiling down and waving at everyone, it was all he could talk about.  Tayto Park became “Crisp Land” in our house.  Even the three year old was at it, although he hadn’t a clue what he was talking about.  The day finally rolled round and on the spur of the moment, the announcement that we were going to Tayto Park was rapturously received at 7.30am.  The time frame is important here, folks.  Tayto Park is in Co. Meath, approximately an hour and 10 minutes as the crow flies from our house, so we had plenty of time to get ourselves organised and into the car.  Opening time for the family park is 10am.  We have four kids and a new puppy so in the wind up we were traffic marshalled into the already packed and very aptly named Cheese and Onion car park at midday.  Just to be clear dogs are not allowed into the park, although we did enquire as the guilt’s at leaving poor Juno behind were awful.  Right in front of us was a full and glorious techicolour view of one of the main attractions; the Zip Line Extreme.  A massive and very impressive looking zip wire thingy that held the boys enthralled as we unpacked the car and loaded up the buggy.  The entrance to the main park is only a short walk from the car and I was very impressed to see a more than adequate toilet facility conveniently located right in the car park to avoid the inevitable nuisance pit stops as soon as you get in to the main area.  All visitors are €12 and children under 3 are free. Two adults and three children, will set you back €50.  The same price as Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork.  There is a world of things to see and do at Tayto Park.  At the insistence of Screecher Creature No. 1 our first port of call was “the Indian Village,” marked on your guide map as The Potatonhtus Native American Village.  At midday, queues were already long and the boys spent a while in the first of 6 tepees listening to a story.  We opted not to wait for complimentary balloon animals, to have faces painted or sparkly tattoos applied. But we did wait forty minutes or more to have a caricature of the boys done in another tepee.  The first hour and a half gone, just like that.  It was time for a coffee so I left Mister Husband and the boys to explore a sprawling and busy play area as I lined up for take-out refreshments in The Lodge Restaurant.  It was a good opportunity to have a look around and see what our lunch options would have been had we not brought a picnic.  Prices were not surprisingly a bit on the expensive side with a hot meal coming in at €11.35.  But the helpings were generous and due to the large volumes of hungry patrons, hot, fresh food was being replaced very quickly which meant it wasn’t sitting there for long periods of time.  Back to the boys with an espresso, a cappuccino and four fruit juices, we went on to the picnic area where we had our lunch.  The park got very busy in the afternoon and even though it is a lot smaller than both Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park, small kids get tired walking around and we didn’t get a chance to see some of the areas.  Queuing times for the Zip Line Extreme and the Tayto Sky walk were an hour and 15 minutes and an hour respectively.  This also eats into a lot of your time there.  Height and weight restrictions also apply to both of these attractions plus a €2 and €3 surcharge.  Personally I would also be mindful of age here, for the Sky Walk at least.  Our boys were too small for the zip wire and our eldest was tall enough for the Walk but still too young.  He queued for an hour to be safety harnessed and climb up to what is essentially a massive climbing frame walkway made of ropes, high over the ground.  Mister Husband was behind him all the way and both were tightly secured but our six and a half year old panicked and had to be helped back down almost immediately.  It is quite high and extremely precarious when you’re up there.  Lots of little people were getting upset and wanting off.  Both of these activities are really only suitable for older kids and I would highly advise, given the waiting times, that you get to the park early, 10am, head straight for these attractions then spend the afternoon wandering about to look at everything else at your leisure.  There is also a Tayto Crisp Factory Tour which is self-guided but we didn’t get a chance to do this. Nor did we see any of the complimentary live shows in the large marquees. But our boys probably wouldn’t appreciate either anyway.  There is also an assortment of animals to be seen, ranging from the exotic to the farmyard variety.   If you don’t mind watching a leopard pace up and down in a too small enclosure, you will enjoy these too.  Although I am sure the leopard was just there temporarily.  We thoroughly enjoyed the day and of course the complimentary Tayto from the Tayto Truck in the car park on returning to your car.  Big share bags too!  It is a wonderful family day out and the most expensive part for us was the entrance fee plus the family rate of €40 for the boys’ caricature.  The drinks in the Lodge Restaurant cost €9.95.  There is a gift shop but we managed to avoid that.  Although I loved the Tayto t-shirts.  Another attraction that appealed to me immensely is the Teahouse in the Tree House which is exactly as it implies but impossible to get to with a buggy.  I would definitely go back there but personally I would prefer to do it when the boys are a bit older.  Less messing with a buggy and a tired three year old to boot.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check it out for yourself. Just be there for 10am and bring a picnic!