Monday 25 February 2013

The Reunion

Everything about me at my school Debs back in 1990 screamed self-conscious, awkward and out of place.  I’m still a little uncomfortable looking at the pictures.  My body language in most of them says it all really.  My arms were folded self-consciously across my chest.  I just wasn’t comfortable with the whole dressing up aspect of it, the hair, the make-up and the bloody shoes.  

I hadn’t seen my classmates for the guts of three months and everyone, it seemed to me anyway, had morphed overnight into these supremely confident, gorgeous people and I was still the awkward, stay at home schoolgirl I had always been.

I was taking a year out and completing a secretarial course because I wasn’t organised enough to decide what I wanted to do with my future.  I wasn’t studying in Dublin and enjoying the nightlife while I was at it.

The future you see had crept up on me overnight.  I honestly believed 6th year was going to last forever.

At my Debs, the table across from the one I was sitting at had one of those champagne buckets with a bottle of bubbly cooling in it and my ex classmates were drinking it like it was something they did all the time.  I was clutching a glass of fizzy something or other.  On the rocks. 

I was shocked and completely thrown to see someone I had “hung around” with in school lighting a cigarette and puffing away on it.    This was crazy shit!  I felt so out of place, hopelessly unsophisticated and na├»ve.  I still lived at home, had yet to meet the love of my life and decide what I wanted to do with him.  I needed to get some kind of job.  I’d never even been drunk for crying out loud!

I just wanted to go home and forget all about the Debs.  It was proving too much for me. 

Well, fast forward twenty-two years.

I am returning to the scene of the crime and I cannot wait!!

Twenty two years would make their mark on anyone.  We’ve all done something with ourselves and it doesn’t matter what went before or came after, we’ve all made our own journey. 

I can’t wait to meet up with my classmates, again, some of whom I haven’t seen in those two decades.  Will I recognise them?  Will they recognise me?

I see the odd person up and down; at the school gates, in the supermarket or on Facebook.   
It’s mad how life happened and we lost touch with each other. 

But life has come full circle and meet ups in a school environment are regular again.  Except this time we are dropping off or collecting our own kids. 

I’ve got the frock, the eyebrows are done and my dancing shoes are all lined up, waiting to go.

Friday 22 February 2013

Blackboard Jungle

I seem to have a strong pull lately, towards making stuff.  The trouble is; I’m not good at making and doing unless it involves copious amounts of flour, sugar, butter, chocolate and eggs. 

I see beautiful creations all the time and I experience a mad rush of jealousy.  I want that and why can’t I make that?

Time and knowledge, usually.

But this time I took that can’t and I made, well, I made two blackboards.

Okay, I had help.  A lot of help.

If you are of a mind to try it yourself, here is a list of the ingredients and our method. 

You will need a large sheet of plywood cut in two.  Mister Husband is a great fan of a timber yard in Carlow so he went and bought one for €23.  On the way home he stopped off at a *DIY store and picked up a tin of black board paint.  This cost €19.29 and something to paint it on with.  The paintbrush cost €6.29.   The total of this shop was €48.58.  Some miscellaneous but equally important stuff handy to have include fine sandpaper, a sanding block, some filler, screws and a drill.  Oh, and a man.

You know, to make the tea!  What did you think I meant?

Girl, go get your equality groove on!

To make it a bit more interesting and because I want to show off a bit, I am going to provide some pictures.

This is the warmest, brightest, most welcoming room in the house, despite the clutter.  Or maybe because of!  The boys converge here all the time to use the computer, to play, to fight  and I use it as my downstairs baby change area!  It is also where I reckoned the blackboards should live.   

It doesn’t look like it but this is going to be a blackboard.

Mister Husband used his tools and his know how to cut the sheet of ¾ inch MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard.  Well, you asked!) in half.   

The frame was made by cutting a two inch strip off each side and screwing these to the board. 

Screw to the wall and use filler to fill in the bits where the screws were drilled in.  Sand everything down when these white spots are dry.

Apply blackboard paint.  I painted on two coats. 

We opted for a nice red gloss to paint the frame.  This really brings up the black.
Supply your charges with a box of chalks and a duster, then stand back and watch them have the time of their life.

Ta Dah!!

I haven’t done it yet, but I plan on getting them some of those sidewalk chalks, you know the chalks that are as thick as your thumb.  It means they won’t get lost as easily but the dog will have a great time. 

*The equivalent of Smyths Toy Store for Daddies.  There is a strange magnetic force surrounding these buildings, and it draws daddies in.  He even said himself on coming home that, “it was not a rubbish day!”

Tuesday 19 February 2013

A Good Day to be Seven

I was about 10, possibly younger, when I saw my first nosebleed.  It wasn’t mine.  But it frightened the life out of me all the same.  So much blood.  From one nose!  My poor cousin.  I remember feeling pretty glad that it wasn’t my nose. 

She was in a terrible state, as you would be, blood everywhere, least of all on the floor.  And it wasn’t stopping by all accounts.  I know this because I heard someone say it.   
The words were muffled because my hands were covering my face. Or maybe I had my back turned and it was the blood rushing through my ears that deadened the sound.  I’m still not sure.

“Stick a cold key down her neck.”

I almost fainted on the spot.  They were going to make her swallow the key of a door.  Back then those keys were massive yokes altogether.  And they were going to force feed her one.

I looked at my Auntie Sue and her friend in horror.  I fervently hoped I would never have a nose bleed.  And definitely not in my aunt’s house.

Of course, they meant press the cold object to the back of her neck and not ram it down her throat.

But I didn’t know that.  I was but a child and took everything literally. 

Another time, I split open my own face on the side of a school building.  I couldn’t see my injury but sweet Jeebus, everyone else could.  My lip needed its own passport.

Blood everywhere. I remember following a couple of teachers around the corridor as they discussed what could be done with me.

“The doctor.  She’ll need to go to the doctor.”

I was about 8 I think and the word “doctor” was enough to make the blood turn cold in my veins.  I wasn’t aware of it, but I hatched a dastardly plan.  I was going to kick the evil Doctor Pork Chop as hard as I could, into the shins, the first chance I got.  That would teach him to sneak up on me with his silver kidney shaped dish, containing shiny, sharp, torturous looking implements and daring to mention the word stitches. 

Again, I was but a child and to me stitches meant a darning needle and thread.  No-one was doing that to my face if I could help it! 

Another Fred West cellar moment happened when I was still in primary school.  Noticing a theme here?  Yeah, me too.  Don’t go to my childhood school.  Good things can’t come of it. 

This time it was at the dentist and my poor sister had the misfortune to be the first one up on the chair.

They tried, I’ll give them that, they tried to get me up next but my feet suddenly rooted themselves to the floor and nothing short of a boot up the arse was going to make them move.

I managed to get through the rest of my pre-pubescence and most of my teens without drama or trauma. 

Until two days before my 18 birthday when I was knocked off my bicycle and carted off to hospital in an ambulance.  With the nee-naw going and everything.  This one doesn’t really count as I have no memory of it at all.   But I do have the scars as proof.

And then I was back in the hospital.  This time to have a baby. 

But here’s the weird thing. 

I had been in full blown labour since 11pm the night before.

I’d had a lovely little snooze for myself courtesy of some numb from the waist down drugs, the mid-wife was looking up at me from Down There and asking was I ready to have this baby.

And only then, after 10 months and 8 hours of labour, did it hit me. 

I was having a baby!  Now.  Holy shit!  Really, really now.  This was really happening.   Even when I had been admitted the previous day for induction, it never crossed my mind that I would be walking out of those hospital doors a couple of days later with a real life honest to god, ready to take home, baby. 

I think it’s fair to say fear of the unknown prevented me from thinking about how my life was going to change.

It took that midwife and her innocuous query to snap me into reality.

That was seven years ago today. 

Conor at 3 hours old

These days I know how to stop a nosebleed.  Steri-strips are a much kinder way to treat a split lip. I am secure in the knowledge that dentists and their chairs are not to be feared and I make damn sure I look before crossing the road.

Conor Dooley came into the world at 6.20am on 19th February 2006.  It was a bright, Sunday morning in spring and I fell in love with him immediately. 

He is my first baby, not my last and one quarter of the whole that completes my everything!

Happy birthday, Con Shine!

Monday 18 February 2013

Mini Mid-Term Break Slow Living Experiment.

It’s not very often I agree with everything I read, or discover a gem that makes me laugh out loud.  Indeed, sometimes I laugh when I am not supposed to.    Other times I see something that I really, really like and I get cross because I wish I had written it.  Then there are the ideas that anyone can follow and generous people put them out there for that very purpose.

This is one of them.  I would like to give full and proper credit to a fellow blogger for the inspiration behind this post.  She writes at and she speaks the truth!

Niamh has blogged about what she calls a slow living experiment and I like her way of thinking.  In a nutshell, she shuts down.  She retreats and just “is.” 

She takes proper time out to “be” and to chill with her young family.

Having been licked good and proper by a good old fashioned case of The Guilt’s lately concerning how much time I spend on Facebook and the computer, I decided to take a leaf out of The Mama’s Hip and have a go at a slow living experiment myself.

The rules are easy and as follows:  Be with your kids.  Do stuff with them like baking, reading stories, or drawing.  Get out of the house but most importantly, do not sit down at the computer, lay off your phone and I suppose, pay a bit of attention to them.

So over Valentine’s Day and Friday of last week, we took it easy.  Ish.

I was wrecked though!

Late wake ups in our house just don’t happen but I still clung to a little shard of hope that Thursday morning might start at 8am.  It didn’t of course and we had just four hours to kill before we went to the pool at 10am. 


The swimming idea ticked all the boxes.  It would get us out of the house, away from the television, Facebook and hopefully, we would all enjoy it.

So in order to pass some time, the boys watched an oddly dark yet charming kids film by Tim Burton called Frankenweenie. 

A lot of coffee later, we all went for our wash swim.

We practically had the place to ourselves which was great as Lovely Liam was able to complain loudly about the cold and how he was going to sit on the side and wait a little while until it cooled down. He meant warm up.  He is temperature sensitive (or something else) and gets his hot confused with his cold. 

After forty minutes or so I ordered them all out for a shower.  With 4 small kids, this takes longer than the swim itself. 

Talk of pancakes and hot chocolate afterwards got them hauling ass fairly quickly. 

That afternoon as Smallest Boy slept, I stuck to the gone to ground rules and brought out large sheets of paper, the colouring box, some scissors and a glue stick.

The boys morphed into town planners extraordinaire and created a paper Lego wonderland for their Lego figures. 

I managed to sneak away to the kitchen and bake chocolate banana bread which they demolished after spending a couple of hours outside with the dog.

It was all going very well indeed and when I was making a pitcher of Monkey Business smoothies, Conor gave me a hug and told me he was having a lovely day.


I didn’t have time to let it go to my head as very shortly after that another one was telling me he hated me when I asked him to clean up a mess he had made.

Swings and roundabouts, folks.

Friday dawned the usual way – not very bright at all but early.  Keen to keep me on my toes the questions about what the plans for that day were began.

My plan, again, was to get us all out of the house and kill two birds with the one stone.  So we went grocery shopping.

Slow living experiment or not, we still had to eat.

And I was craving a cappuccino. 

I often go to the supermarket with the four of them in tow.  I kind of like it.  I’m a bit hammered out like that.  Yes, I stress.  Yes, I say, “no, put that back” and “watch the lady!” a lot.  Yes, they get treats.  Edible treats to keep them quiet.  But I think they enjoy it too.

I send them off to get the baby wipes and treats for Juno. 

Then I silently freak when one of them doesn’t come back quickly enough.  But usually it ends well.  None of them have overturned the trolley.  I saw this happen once.  When I was younger.  Food and yogurts everywhere, the frightened child and the horrified mother.

The biggest hurdle I encountered in the supermarket was trying to persuade Lovely Liam to have a bag of Organix carrot sticks instead of a tiny skateboard thingy that cost €7.99 and could fit in his mouth and would definitely end up in the dogs.

After a fashion I got the trolley safely to the check out and the boys went to assemble their Lego figurines on the benches in the shopping hall.

We had a home to get to where the lads were planning on playing Lego: The World is 
Ending swiftly followed by Attack of the Killer Humans.    There was also great chat about continuing on with the paper road works.  This slow living experiment was catching on!

But first a take-out coffee for me.

The afternoon passed fairly uneventfully.  Hotel Transylvania kept them more than amused in between drawing parks and hotels and eating roast chicken sandwiches. If you ask me, gone to ground day also means no cooking.

It wouldn’t be a proper slow living experiment without planting spring bulbs followed by pancakes for tea. 

Broadly speaking that is what we got up to.  Of course there was the usual minutiae of day to day life like breaking up fights, picking up after them, endless, endless snacks, drinks, nappies, copious clothes changes, bathroom visits, retrieving items of clothing and filthy, muddy shoes from various locations.  

I cheated a bit and checked in with Facebook a couple of times but kept it brief.

Did I mention I was wrecked after it?  Oh, I did?  Well, that’s worth repeating.  I was wrecked. 

And that was just Thursday and Friday. I still had the weekend to get through.

So why did I do it?  Like I mentioned earlier, an attack of the guilt’s was a major factor.  I was also curious to see how it would pan out. 

I expected it to be hard.  And it was. 

Usually, whenever I sit down, it is with one or two of them hanging out of me, fighting over perceived rights to my lap while I use contortionist moves to swig a hot drink. 

Their delight at having two free days from school and me there to entertain them was undeniable.

I always welcome bedtime and with them being on their school break, they stayed up a little later than usual.  It all adds up. 

For me.

I didn’t sit down much and I certainly didn’t “write down any of my ideas” and to be perfectly honest, not having those little breaks, made a difference.

I snuck off to the bathroom a couple of times just to look out the window.  The clack clack of dog nails on the floor or the bokkity wheels on a Little Tykes Cosy Coupe alerted me to having being discovered.

Would I do it again?  Probably.  In fact, with the Easter holidays just round the corner, I will have to.

It wasn’t all bad.  Facebook survived without me.  And I without it.  The lads had a great time.  They spent loads of time outside.  As a result the washing machine was on twice a day to catch up afterwards. 

I got out for a couple of runs which was heaven.  In fact those runs deserve a blog post all of their own.

We made blackboards.  From scratch.  This does get a blog post all of its own.  Tune in at the end of the week for the how to.

Then it was Sunday morning and guess what?  They all stayed in bed until 8am!!

Holy crap!!!  A first!

P.S.  Thanks, Niamh!