Monday, 29 July 2013

Going on Holidays with Kids

It’ll be fun, they said.  They’ll love it they said.

Family holiday No. 1.    A midweek break in a hotel in Birr, Co. Offaly with three boy children.  Total success.  100% delightful. Bunk beds.  Birr Castle.  Date night with Mister Husband.  Lovely food.  A great kids park down the road.  The boys loved the hotel pool.  We returned home feeling refreshed and delighted with life.

Family holiday No. 2.  Another midweek break in Clonakilty, Co. Cork with four boy children.  Not a total success.  In fact, a total stress fest.  100% stressful.  Too small a hotel room.  Too many Coco Pox and not enough Weetabix.  Rained.  All.  The.  Time.  No date night.  Back to hotel room at 8pm each evening with cranky, tired and constipated kids.  Early wake ups.  We returned home feeling hard done by.

Family holiday No. 3.  A whole 7 days in a rented house by the beach in Co. Wexford with four adults and six children.  Total success.  100% delightful.  That year would become known as the worst summer in Ireland.  Ever to date.  Yet we had a week of glorious weather.  There were bunk beds.  Wine every night.  Day trips.   We returned home delighted with ourselves and swore this would be the way to go from now on.

We are just back from family holiday No. 4.  A whole 7 days in a rented villa by the beach in Rosslare, Co. Wexford with, at one stage, 9 children and 10 adults.  Another total success.  100% fantastic.  Idyllic. Despite the Spanish student who managed to smuggle searing heat into the country, returning home and bringing with him or her, said sunshine, we had another wonderful holiday.  Sand sculptures.  Wine every night.  BBQ’s.  Wonderful coffee and fresh bread daily in the shop across the road.  Wet suits.  Reading something every day.  Frisbees.  Crocs.  Two small boys celebrating their fourth birthdays and a not so small boy celebrating his 33rd.      

I have a small confession to make here.  I slept for the first two days.  More or less and the earliest I rose was 9am each morning. 

Mister Husband did all of the mothering, all of the dressing, all of the breakfasts, the early morning beach visits, most of the afternoon visits and looked after the very necessary showers on returning.

All I had to do was make sure there was a bottle of wine cooling in the fridge each day, go on cappuccino runs for me and buy chocolate twists for the boys.  

It was Thursday before I felt human again, before I felt refreshed and not so bone weary.    

On our second last morning, I rounded the corner in the cafĂ© to see a friend and her husband, plus their youngest, finishing breakfast.  They had been there all week.

Maybe if I hadn’t been sleeping so much I would have bumped into her sooner and we could have gone for a coffee.

I am leaving this space blank for Family Holiday No. 5 2014. 

Bring it on!

Friday, 26 July 2013

You Know it's Holiday Time When......

I'M AT IT AGAIN.  Another linky link-up and this time the hostess with the mostess is the lovely Patricia from Colorines Wonderful.  Her of the gorgeous handmade mug I received in June.  Make yourself a cup of tea and check out some some other great blog posts with the same theme.

You know it’s holiday time when:

You purchase some holiday reading.

Your whole life gets packed into several weekend bags.

You ring the boarding kennels.

The kids can’t sleep for excitement.

“How many more sleeps?” quickly turns into “Are we there yet?”

The kids are in the car for an hour before it’s time to go.

Sun block has gone up in price.  Swizzers!

Sand. Sand. Everywhere.

Sand sculptures.


Late nights with the kids running round.  Lovely, lovely 8.30am starts the next day.

Forgetting to brush teeth!

Day trips.

Buckets and spades.

Pretty sea side holiday homes.


Collecting sea shells. 

The kids demanding to know why there is seaweed on their plate.

The smell of evening BBQ’s at the holiday resort.

And too soon, all too soon, you’re packing your bags for the return journey home.  Lovely memories are downloaded from the camera onto Facebook and the computer.  There is a big black bin bag filled with dirty laundry.  The kids are still covered in sand, despite being showered several times a day.

There is a distinct need to eat something that is not picnic based.  It’s lovely to sleep in your own bed but you miss the holiday home and the sound of the sea at night.

The kids start to argue with each other again and complain loudly about how bored they are.  It’s lovely to return home when the sun is still shining but you’re not really bothered.   
Now that your holiday is over, who needs the sun?    

And more tellingly, you need another holiday to recover from the one you’ve just had. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Dave's Jungle

Dave’s Jungle came to Athy Community library on 5th of July.  The boys had me mythered all week about what kind of animals he was going to have and if they would be able to touch them.

Having no idea myself what Dave’s Jungle entailed exactly, I told the lads to expect spiders and some lizards and I was almost certain they would get to touch some of them.


It was better than that!

Way better than that.

I am glad I didn’t follow through on my threat at approximately 10am Friday morning to leave them all at home after a kneecap made direct, deliberate and very painful contact with a tender groin area.  Where do boys learn these skills?

I scorched into town, skidded into the one and only parking space left in Emily Square, poured a handful of coins into the parking metre and dragged the lads across to the library where Jungle Dave’s show had already started.

Kids sat on cushions and chairs, rapt and not so quiet as Jungle Dave stood before them with a snake wrapped round his neck.

We were introduced to Seamus. In fact all of the animals had human names. 

Jungle Dave walked round the room with Seamus held out to be touched by whoever wanted to. 

As he walked round I got my first glimpse of the table Jungle Dave had been standing in front of.  On top of the table was a huge piece of hollow bark and perched on top of that, positively bored looking, was a massive iguana called Eddie.  Every so often he would open his eyes, yawn lazily and lick his chops.

Lucy the Burmese Albino Python was a huge success.  Jungle Dave took her to the back of 
the room and allowed her to stretch out to her full and impressive length as the kids swarmed all over her.  Checking her out, rubbing and touching her.  A massive, thickly muscled coil of yellow rope, Lucy lay there and took it in her stride.

It was time for Lucy to have a rest and Gary the lizard was next.  I’m sure Gary has a more worthy title than just plain old lizard but I was too busy watching Jungle Dave trying to tempt Gary to eat a tasty live locust to catch his full name.  The locust liked to take the odd random jump at the kids.  I’m sure I would too if I thought I was about to become dinner.

It turned out Gary wasn’t hungry but Jungle Dave claimed to be and he popped the live creature into his mouth amid much screeching and laughter from the kids.

It was time for Gary to have a snooze and he was flipped over onto his back and rocked gently until he fell into a gentle slumber and was placed very, very carefully into his tissue bed.

Charlotte the tarantula was next up and Jungle Dave tried his best to produce a length of web from her nether regions but Charlotte wasn’t having any so instead Jungle Dave invited some of the kids to stroke her.

Tarantulas have hair that can be very irritating but this had been removed by means of a toothbrush so there was no sneezing or complaints from the kids.

The show lasts for about an hour to keep stress levels for the animals to a minimum and just when I thought there couldn’t be much else to see, Kevin the crocodile made an appearance.  His jaws held together with a rubber band. 

It didn’t stop him from losing two teeth as he was on display though.

Spike alligator snapping turtle was the most ferocious of the lot; chomping his way through carrots like there was no tomorrow.

And then finally, the piece de resistance as far as I was concerned was a black throated monitor lizard, a close relative of that amazing creature the Komodo dragon.

He was hard to see against the rug he was placed on but again the kids swarmed round nevertheless.

Another great event at Athy Community Library.  This guy was amazing.  His creatures are amazing. 

Eddie the Iguana.  Seamus the snake.  Charlotte the Tarantula.  Kevin the crocodile.  Black throated monitor lizard. Spike the snapping turtle.  Gary the lizard and Lucy the Burmese albino python.

A veritable miniature zoo in your classroom, at your birthday party or local library.  Check out Dave’s Jungle website here to make a booking.

It is well worth it and you won’t be disappointed.

All the kids received their very own certificate of bravery at the end of the show.  

And it wouldn't be a proper trip to the jungle if you didn't get a snake to wrap around your neck!   

This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, 19 July 2013


Conversations with a two year old can be the funniest, craziest, most frustrating things.   

These are some of the chats I have had with Smallest Boy.

Me:  Don’t drink from the dog’s bowl!

Him:  Why-eee?

Me:  Brendan!  Don’t lick the floor!
Him:  Why-eee?

Me:  Would you like a bath?
Him:  Yesh! Yesh! Go. Now.  Up. Stairs.  Get. Towel.

Me:  Would you like me to help?
Him: Me. Do. It.

Me:  Would you like something to drink.
Him:  Yesh. Waw waw. Daddy’s. Cup.

You get the general idea. 

Conversations with a two year old pickled with chicken pox are a different matter.

Me:  Would you like a drink?
Him:  No! No! No!

Me:  Let’s go for a snooze.  You’re very tired.
Him:  No!  No!  No!

Me:  Would you like to sit in the bath to cool down?
Him: No!  No!  No!

Me:  Will we go for a walk around the garden?
Him:  No!  No!  No!

Another thing that proved very difficult was keeping him entertained in Isolation Chamber B in hospital for 38 hours.

It was very trying once he perked up.

Very trying indeed.

So this is what we did.

I allowed him to climb onto the window cill in our room.  Actually I had no choice; it was help him onto the window cill or watch the child kill himself trying.

It was 4am and dawn was breaking, the birds were singing and there was the unmistakable sound of the ambulance outside.

Smallest Boy spent, for him, a riveting and most enjoyable half hour shouting down at the ambo drivers.  To be very very fair to them, they waved back up and even stuck on the flashy lights.

We drew on a ripped open Daybreak carrier bag.  So what if some of it got all over his legs and arms? 

He asked to see Shy Boy playing the guitar on my phone over and over again.

We took pictures of our feet.

There was a most enjoyable hour (it could have been longer) where he sat on my knee and had me scroll through Every. Single. Picture. On. My. Phone. And. On. Facebook.

We burst each other’s spit bubbles.

He played in the shower.  And did his wees on his toes.  Told me before he did it.  I toyed with the idea of having a child who might be fully toilet trained in 24 hours.

He wanted to watch this 12 second video of his brothers playing with home-made magnet cars.


We spent more time on the window cill watching the army jeeps circle the hospital. 

We spent hours watching Dora, Blue’s Clues and SpongeBob on my phone.  I ended up receiving the Data Usage Warning message.  I now cannot use Facebook or Netflix on my phone till the middle of August.  Netflix I don’t care about – the hospital was a one-time exception.  But Facebook!!!!!!!!

He had fun with five various toilet roll and tissue paper dispensers in the room.  And I let him.

We made a tent with the sheet on his cot.

We found a blue coupe car down the hallway one time when we snuck out!  And we stole it.

He drenched himself and the place having water fun in the fantastic Belfast sink beside his cot.  I had some plastic balls in my bag and they came in very handy indeed.

He ate a few lollipops.  

He slept. 

He talked a lot about going home.

He said “no!” a lot.

Every time my phone beeped with an update he thought it was his daddy calling to say he was coming to get him.

And then finally he did.

We were getting our walking papers. 

Hospital was great while it lasted and I am eternally grateful to the professionals there who made Smallest Boy comfortable and got him on the road to recovery.

But as a lady in red shoes famously said “there’s no place like home.”