Monday 31 March 2014

Some Stuff I Don't Do or Have

I do a lot of things and by the same token I don’t do a lot of things.  Once up on a time of madness and a tiny bit of but-maybe-I-should-itis, it may have bothered me.  Not anymore.  Oh ho no.  Life is too short.  There are fun things to do and places to go and all of that jazz and frankly not enough hours in the day.

That is my half arsed argument and I am sticking to it.

These are the things I don’t let life, magazines or other people tell me I should have or spend time doing.

Make beds
I’m slovenly like that.   Some people think doors were invented for privacy.   Wrong!  Doors were invented to shut out and hide the mess within.  Why make a bed when you are just going to crawl back into it in 14 hour’s time?  Also, throw this at those who go “yuk. You lazy bint!”  Tell them dust mites thrive and multiply in warm conditions.  Making your bed when you get up means you are literally making all of those little dust mites that eat your dead skin, warm and cozy.  They get all excited in a let’s make more dust mites kind of way.  And well, you made your bed.  Now go and lie on the baby dust mites.  And their mammies and daddies.

Once upon a time a mother (me) took a notion to iron something.  She decided to press non-existent creases out of a school uniform.  She felt she’d better make an effort, this being her firstborn and all.  It took her a while to locate the iron because it was rarely used.  Next conundrum was what to iron the uniform on.  She didn’t own an ironing board either.  That first world problem was solved by putting a few towels on the kitchen table and she was good to go.  Her school goer and his little brother wandered into the kitchen.  Pulled up short by the unfamiliar sight of their mother (me) standing behind a table draped with towels and pushing a triangular object back and forth, they asked her what that thing (the iron) was?  Apparently nana has one.  Who knew? 

Cook from scratch
I should.  I know I should.  But I also reckon there should be an extra five hours in a day.  And speaking honestly, I would not be using those on cooking and cleaning.  Cooking from scratch also requires a certain set of skills, ones I do not have.  I reassure myself that at least I grate my own cheese, crush my own garlic and never, ever buy vegetables in jars of brine.   Not cooking from scratch is one of my guilty “I really should try harder’s” but I do my best.    Pancakes anyone?

The following are the things I don’t have.  Through no fault of my own, someone else’s fault or just out of plain disinterest.

A steam genie or Slow Cooker                                           
Amongst other things but I have heard all sorts of adulation heaped upon steam genies and what they can do.  It’s only marvellous altogether by all accounts and seemingly I am missing out on this phenomenon.    Also I believe slow cookers are the bee’s knees.   It’s practically like having a cook in the house.  You pop the ingredients in there, head off to work and when you come home, hey presto, a perfectly cooked meal ready and waiting for you.    Oh!  Oh, I see. I see!                          

A Bank Balance
Funny thing happened.  I got kids.  Some people have an expensive shopping habit or a jet setting lifestyle that needs funding.   I got kids.  Four of ‘em.  Funny thing about kids.  They need to be dressed.  And shod.  And fed.  And educated.  And brought places.  And bought stuff.  And taken swimming.  And on cinema trips.  And to parties.  And other stuff.  Hey, who needs new shoes every once in a while and the odd set of undergarments that actually match?  Not me.  I got kids, see.

Size 10 clothes
Technically speaking I do own some but they don’t fit.  I still hang onto them though as a reminder of my former whippet thin self.  I try not to mind too much when one of the boys sees that white dress and tells me he likes my t-shirt.  It’s not a t-shirt!  It’s a teeny tiny dress that I wore when I had a washboard for a stomach! Gah!

kinda.  not really.

I am still desperately trying to hang onto my sanity and what’s left of my sense of humour but I suspect they might leave soon as well. Just like everything else.



Thursday 27 March 2014

Mother's Day

If you could ask for one thing, just one thing, on mother’s day and get it, what would it be?

I am trying to decide between a pile of cash and five hours alone to spend it in Penney’s. Or taking that pile of cash and buying a year’s membership for our family of 6 in the leisure centre. 

Would you fancy having the house all to yourself?  Or even going out for a few drinks and getting to stay in bed until dinnertime the next day.  Then watching TV for the rest of it.

What about a massive make-up hamper full of quality products and not your usual recession friendly dupes?  Maybe being taken out for a nice meal where all you have to do is cut up your own meat, pour your own drink/s, (alcoholic) and look after your own self in the bathroom as your other half looks after the kids so you can eat and then digest your meal without leaving your seat eleventeen times.

Would a half day at a beauty spa float your boat?    How about a simple flower arrangement, some chocolates and that book you’ve been waiting for to come on general release?

Maybe it’s a lie-on you’re after.  Even for an hour.  To take a shower or a bath without company.  To read the papers, uninterrupted, with a cup of coffee. 

If I am asked, and I say if because my boys are still quite young, but if I am asked what I would like, this is what I will ask for: a big hug from each of them.

And then maybe the house to myself for the rest of the day.

How ever you are showered with love on Sunday, remember you are doing the hardest job in the world.  Pat yourself on the back every now and again.  And pass it on!

Monday 24 March 2014

A Versatile Nomination

It is the last week in March and to say I have been a tad stressed is an understatement.  There just seems to be so much to do and I have not yet been cloned and the kids take up so much of my time and I haven’t washed my hair and maybe one night I drank two cans of a delicious and refreshing ready mixed gin and tonic and went to bed drunk and maybe another time I had a teeny tiny cry in the car on a school run and maybe I ate too much chocolate and stop the world I think I want to get off for 24 hours!!!!

I realise and absolutely know I am not the only one who feels like this.  I know I have it easy compared to others and I really do appreciate everything I have even if I forget that a lot.  But feeling stressed isn’t nice.  Even if it is desserts spelt backwards.    

In the same way every action has an opposite and equal reaction, for all the ka-BLUE-y moments, I have had some wonderfully uplifting ones too.

Every week I meet up with my lovely breastfeeding support group; a room full of like-minded mothers and we have a chat and a laugh and the odd brainstorming session over coffee and biscuits as our kids play nicely, loudly, messily, play together.   It is my lifeline.  I know I am in excellent company there.

Over the weekend I received a lovely message from a friend to say she spotted someone chatting about my blog on a parenting website.  Little old me, getting a mention on  That was lovely let me tell you. was my old lifeline back in the early, dark days of parenting.

There was a wedding.  With dancing.  And Guinness.  And more dancing. And laughing.  It was exactly what I needed.

Discovering we are going back to Rosslare for our holidays again this year.  I am really excited about that one.  I mean really!  I have already started to compile my holiday reading list.

And then this little bit of fun; being nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award.  It is not a real award rather a blogging version of receiving a chain letter.  Remember those fekers?  I never got a chain letter in my life and seeing as I am prone to stressing out over ridiculous things, I am thankful for small mercies as I doubt I would have been able to handle the pressure of it.

For one thing I wouldn’t have been able to afford all of those stamps.

This one I didn’t mind getting.  Like I said it’s a little bit of fun and proof that someone out there actually reads my ramblings. 

There are a few rules associated with The Versatile Blogger award.  These are:

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
Share 7 random facts about yourself.  Who doesn’t love talking about themselves?
Then pass on the award to 13 other versatile bloggers.

Thank you to The Airing Cupboard (a little place to vent) for the nom!  Sometimes I hide in mine!  Oh, did I just waste a perfectly good random fact?  I’d better get started.

I don’t make beds.  There.  I’ve said it out loud.   The very odd time, I will make mine and the boys properly.  But this is only when I change the bed linen.  Every other morning I don’t touch them.  I will readjust when they get ridiculously crumpled and askew but it is not something I normally do.

I enjoy my own company a lot.  I mean really, really, really, really, really enjoy my own company.  Other people complain that their kids sent them on a downward spiral into financial ruin, stole their freedom, drove them to drink or destroyed their core strength.  Mine keep me from me. 

I’m not too fond of being touched.  That sounds weird but I kinda like my personal space.  Nothing beats a rugby tackle hug from your kids but sometimes my skin crawls if they even start walking in my direction. 

I don’t watch television.  I very possibly might if the boys weren’t so territorial but as there isn’t anything I feel the burning need to watch anyway, that’s ok with me.  Sometimes I keep one eye on The Big Bang Theory and I like to watch Home and Away back to back as I chug sip wine in a ladylike manner but that would be it.  I much prefer a book.

I detest, with every fibre of my being, cooking.  I do it because I absolutely have to and I can do it.  But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.  And I so don’t.  It is time consuming, boring and I resent it so much.  If I had a cleaner I would ask them to cook the dinner instead and I would mop the floors.  Every time!

I hate butter.  With a vengeance.  Cannot stand it.  On anything.  Even the butter dish being near my plate gives me the heebie jeebies.  When I make pancakes and use maybe three pinheads worth of butter to oil the pan, I breathe through my mouth so I can’t smell it.  Milk doesn’t float my boat either.  Which is odd as I rather enjoy a cappuccino.

If I am wrecked tired, a bit hormonal, having a bad day or all of the above and you are nice to me, I might cry.  I much prefer people to be mean when I am feeling delicate.  I can feed off that and build up my strength on it but holding a door open for me or asking me if I am ok, will be my undoing.  So if I ever leave your company in a hurry know it is because you have upset me greatly by being nice to me and I am not able for it and have run off to cry in my car on the way home.  But please don’t stop because when I recover and get over my mortification, I always think of you in the most blinding of healing lights.

And now it time for the nominees.  These are the blogs I nom for The Versatile Blogger Award. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is entirely up to you what you wish to do with your award.  Keep it in the bathroom (isn’t that where all the best Oscars live) pass the conch or ignore it.

Tis only a bit of fun.    

Monday 17 March 2014

Random Facts about our Patron Saint

So today is St. Patrick’s Day or Lá Fheile Pádraig and all over the world communities are celebrating with parades, a day off work, wearing shamrock on their lapel and downing a pint of the black stuff.

This morning Oldest Boy asked me why 17th March was picked to be St. Patrick’s Day.  Was he born today?  Did he die today?  Was today the day he drove all the snakes out of Ireland?
I couldn’t answer him despite having celebrated his feast day all of my life so realising I knew nothing about the man, I made a swift appointment with Dr. Google. 

I discovered, amongst some other interesting facts, St. Patrick is reputed to have died on 17th March, hence the birth of St. Patrick’s Day.

Some other 9 things you may or may know have known about the patron saint of Ireland are:

He’s not Irish
Shock!  He was born in Britain.  His parents are believed to have been Romans of some means complete with slaves.

The snake myth
Ireland was water locked thus making it impossible for snakes to have ever been here.  Maybe they confused them with politicians. 

He enjoyed his whiskey
Going so far as to encourage people to indulge on his feast day.  Rumour has it he gave out to an inn keeper who was a bit mean with his measure.  Maybe he was Irish after all.

Blue and green should never be seen
Apparently he favoured blue clothing and not the ubiquitous green we see on his feast day.

He was a slave   
Captured when he was a teen he didn’t turn to god until he was an adult.  Tending sheep all day in the Irish countryside might just do that to you.

Voices in his head
The voice urged him to make his way to a port where a ship waiting for him would take him back to Britain.  The unlucky soul was captured during the attempt and was taken to France where he spent 60 days and was introduced to the monastic life.

The Great Escape Part Deux
They say god loves a tryer and it obviously worked for Paddy who made another run for it.  This time he was successful and became a priest eventually becoming a bishop.

Missionary Position
It appears things took off for Paddy in his thirties.  He returned to Ireland where he successfully converted Celtic pagans to Christianity. 

He invented the Shamrock
Not really but he is responsible for it becoming an Irish symbol.  As a preacher St. Patrick used it to represent the holy trinity: the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.  

BC (Before Childers) St. Patrick’s Day was a very important day for me purely because it meant extra time off work or school but since becoming a parent, like the weekends, it is now just another 24 hours.  A day spent inventing excuses not to take four small boys into a bustling town to stand behind scores of people and look at their arses because they are too short to see anything above that height.  I possess just one pair of shoulders and they are reserved for my bag so learning from previous years of, “I’m bored,” “I’m cold,” “I’m hungry,” “When can we go?” “I can’t seeeeeeeeee,”and usually in wet rain, this year I took a different approach to our public holiday.

We had pancakes for breakfast and one of them was coloured green for the day that was in it.  I made only one because I knew it would be received with strong suspicion and slight disgust.

I was right.

“That looks like someone sneezed on it!”  The other pancakes were greeted with great enthusiasm and hovered up.    Then we went for a family swim which was lovely.

Home for a quick snack and the afternoon stretched before us.  Sometimes kids have great ideas and one of them suggested bringing the pooch to the woods. 

This beat my unvoiced idea of the playground hands down.

We had a lovely hour and a half of aimless wandering around where small voices asked “are we lost?” once or twice. When one of them wanted to know, “are we going to die here?” I thought it was time to “find” the correct trail back to the car and go home. 

The secret, dear reader, to a successful bank holiday weekend with kids, is to run the collective backsides off them.  On returning home one of them will inevitably fall asleep in the car.  On getting into the house, the others will sit, silently watching the goggle box. 

It was a minor St. Patrick’s Day miracle in itself.  Three of them sat side by side without killing each other over remote control rights and couch space.  They were too tired to do anything else except talk nicely to each other and watch television in agreeable companionship.

Me?  Back in the kitchen making my second large batch of pancakes of the day.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig gach duine!  

Thursday 13 March 2014

The Running Game Revisited

Recently I have had a few people ask me about running.  It goes from “are you still running?” to “any tips on running?”

Yes, I am still running.  Albeit very little in the winter but once the evenings lengthen again, I enjoy a run three to five times a week.

Today I thought I’d share with you my thoughts and tips on running.

In a nutshell I love it.  It clears my head, keeps me sane, it’s my “me” time and it also allows me to eat a little bit of what I fancy a little more often than I should.

I still have a jelly belly thanks to my four boys and unless I drop and crunch a thousand times a day, I’m probably always going to have that soft middle.  And that, I believe, is what high waisted jeans and panel support underwear is for.

For me running is more about my mental health.  I get antsy and blue without it. I am not a fan of the gym or exercising indoors with a DVD although I have done the later.

In fact I credit Davina McCall’s 3 x 30 Minutes Workout DVD (brilliant by the way) to helping me shift that first stone and a half.

But I prefer to get my exercise out in the fresh air.

Anyone can run.  Believe me, if I managed to do it, it is perfectly doable.

When our youngest son was four months old I decided to take myself in order and do something about the lingering baby weight.  I hadn’t let myself go to seed exactly; it was more like 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. 

I am led to believe 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.

I was breastfeeding my new-born and my milk was a gorgeous buttery yellow.   I still believe it was due to the fat content being so high.  It had always been nicely milky coloured with the others. 

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.

Running never entered my head; it wasn’t on my radar at all.  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 now, over two years later I am a regular runner and three stone lighter.

I have found 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 that is certainly an added bonus but 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. 
If you are thinking about taking up running, even just a little bit, allow me to share my top tips to get you started.

What to wear

  • In the same way you might wear a suit to the office or pyjamas to bed, a whole new world in rutting attire will be opened up to you.  The array can be bewildering but take a deep breath and embrace it.  If you’re not sure, ask!
  • I wouldn’t bother investing in expensive footwear at the start.  But it is important to wear something that fits properly.  Your ankles and knees will thank you for the support.
  • Wear a decent sports bra!  Get properly measured. I highly recommend a Shock Absorber.  Nothing moves in that baby.  They cost €40 in a high street sports shop and I would suggest you buy two for when one is in the wash. 
  • Cheap and cheerful running garb can be picked up anywhere now.  You will warm up pretty quickly as you begin to move so a base layer covered by a loose fitting t-shirt is ideal.   

Getting Moving

  • There are many running apps such as Couch to 5k available. Choose one that suits you but if you are winging it the following may be of assistance.
  • Leaving the house is the first step.  Often it is the hardest one!  Try and get your exercise time in early so you don’t spend the rest of the day thinking about it.
  • Drink water before you go.
  • Even if you are just walking, walk it quicker. One step at a time.  Literally.
  • Lots of people walk briskly for the first couple of minutes, using this as their warm up.
  • Start running slowly initiallyMore like a fast walk.
  • A good distance target is run a lamp post, walk a lamp post etc.  That is if there are lamp posts on your route.  If not, use your listening music and try to run half a song then walk until you catch your breath.
  • When you get into your rhythm, keep it slow and steady. Don’t break it and don’t come to a complete stop. Slow to a fast walk but keep moving briskly. 

Street Smarts

  • It goes without saying but I am going to say it anyway, pain is a sign that you may have done too much or pushed yourself too far so stop.  Give yourself a chance to recover before you put on the runners again.  Here are a few safety pointers to take note of.
  • Find a safe route in a public area that will not compromise your personal safety.  Let someone know when you are going for your run and your estimated time of return.
  • 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. 

Be Good to yourself.  For Goodness Sake.

  • Running in the beginning is hard work.  You will become an expert at finding excuses not to get out there.  You owe it to yourself to experience what it is like to run in the rain.  Especially summer rain.  Bliss!  Here’s how to look after yourself.   
  • Don’t run every day.  Give yourself a rest in between sessions but 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 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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!

Miscellaneous Stuff

If you feel the need to read a book on running you could do a lot worse than purchasing “Run Fat B!tch Run” by Ruth Field.  It is inspiring, helpful and just damn funny in places.  I still pull it out to flick through it. 

I am far from an expert at this running lark.  I speak only from my own experience and what worked for me may not, of course, work for the next person.  For example, all the experts advise to sign up for a run somewhere.  I admit to feeling very scared about this.  I was enjoying myself, going at my own pace and then I was gently bullied into a 5k in The Phoenix Park with Ray D’Arcy.  It really did give me something to aim towards and it was brilliant.  I loved it!  It’s a great idea to do this but give yourself a good 6 weeks to train.

I will let you in on a little secret; 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. 

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 10 March 2014

Spring Has Sprung

It being March there are lots of pretty obvious flags that spring has sprung.  A lovely, heart-warming sign like daffodils and crocus’s bursting open to turn yellow and purple faces to the still cold sunshine.  The other day I saw a bird flying off with a stick in its beak; house prices might still be at an all-time low for humans but the construction industry in nature is about to go through the roof.  Followed thereafter by a baby albeit animal boom.  There are little spring boy and girl babies springing up everywhere.  Rabbits are showing up on grassy verges.  Easter eggs are taking up space on supermarket shelves.  There are bikinis in the shops.

The list is endless.

But there are other signs that winter is finally behind us.  For me at least.  

There is a gloriously welcome stretch in the evenings now and if Mister Husband is home for 6pm I will be out for a run and back before the dark settles.  Bliss!

Interesting smells
There is the distinct smell of, there is no other word for it, shite in the air.  Slurry is flying as I type.  It is being spread in the field across from us.  The odour travels far and wide.  It gets in my mouth.  On my clothes.  On the dog.  In the house.  It. Is. Everywhere!

The Hunger Games
The kids won’t stop eating.  I think their bodies know spring is in the air and they are tanking up for a growth spurt.   It is day three and their jaws haven’t stopped.    Weetabix for breakfast followed by homemade pancakes.  In the afternoon there is dinner, then sandwiches, fruit, cereals, smoothies, scones, hot chocolates and more sandwiches.   This morning the youngest two had spag bol for their dinner.  At 11am.

A strange one perhaps but in light of the mad, crazy storms we experienced lately, these machines are everywhere at the moment, dealing with fallen trees.  But I am not thinking about chainsaws in terms of tree surgery.  No.  I have them in mind for this.

Always a dead give-away that spring has arrived.  One of the most miserable events in the Roman Catholic calendar.  As if it’s not bad enough that we were born feeling guilty now we’re banned from chocolatey goodness and drowning our sorrows at the end of the week in a tipple or two.    

Going swimming is not an unusual event in our house.  We have been going to our local leisure centre once a week for the last 18 months.  During the mid-term break however, I was mortified to realise not one single droplet of water had touched my boys for 8 days and counting.  So I packed them off for a Different Day Swim.  Now that spring has poked her nose outside her nest the boys are also spending a lot more time outside of our nest.  Cue filth and dirt and dust and general mucky puppy-ness.  Cue lots of baths.  Lots of baths.

There is something about good weather and warm sunshine that brings out the best in people.  Even a bit of flirty-ness.  The appearance of bare ankles, short sleeves and hems plus loud music has already been noticed in certain quarters.  This might have a little something to do with the emergence of spring time amour.  My almost three year old is no exception.  “Like that lady.”  We were at the school gates and he was gawking at a girl several years my junior and several decades his senior.  “Pretty lady.  Me love pretty ladies.”  And I thought he was the one destined to mind me in my dotage.

Our trampoline is well travelled.  Been all over the garden this last winter.  Then it decided to take an all-expenses paid spring break at the neighbours place.  As punishment it spent the last month on its netted back.  Not unlike like a beetle.  Recently it has been forgiven and put upright.  The boys are in seventh heaven and despite half a dozen missing springs, taking their chances and putting it through its paces again.  It’s great for a spot of exercise and working up an appetite.  Not that they need one.    

And now we’ve got summer to look forward to.