Thursday 22 October 2015

But What Will I Write About?

You’d better write something, I told myself.  It’s been weeks and you’ll forget how to.                                                                                                      
But what could I write about?  Once upon a time I was able to pluck something out of thin air and make a kind of blog post out of it.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it kind of worked.

It’s been a quiet few months in a very busy way.  So I could write about that, I suppose.  

You know, fill the page with crap about school runs, dinners, homework (does anyone else let their kids do theirs in the back of the car on the way home from school?) how I’ve been watching my pennies by shopping in Lidl and thinking about buying tins of sweets in preparation for Christmas, decorating the house for Halloween, carving pumpkins, making lemon drizzle cake and granola for breakfast (yum!) and how the  kids (and me!) are dying for the mid-term which is tomorrow.

Which means dress up in school.  I could mention how two of the boys want to wear a simple black t-shirt with a glow in the dark Halloween picture on it and one boy wants to be a devil.  The smallest wants to be spider man. No, wait. Batman!  No, wait.  SpongeBob!  No, wait. Spiderman!  No, wait! Nothing at all.  He doesn’t want to dress up.  But wait! Definitely, definitely Spiderman.  With face paint!

I could write about chests that rattle and A&E.  And how it got him out of swimming two days later.  I could write about how bloody cold the swimming pool is at this time of year.  I am talking lethal.  I know.  I’ve been there.  In the water.  Shivering.  With other people from out of town asking me about the temperature when apparently the water temperature itself does not change from one end of the year to the other it is the pool side temperature that is to blame.  I could write about that. 

Maybe I’ll do a few lines about how I am still delighted with my three hours each morning and how I spend way too much time in my hallway going wheee after the school run.  Except I don’t.  I come straight home, go wheee and then take the dog for a run.   4 sometimes 5 mornings a week and loving every single step.  I could casually mention that I have also given up chocolate and crisps and cakes and biscuits and obvious sugary junk foods but that sounds a bit self-righteous and boring so I won’t.  Guess what I found out?  If you don’t keep your junk food in the press that you open 47 times a day, you don’t eat the junk food!  True story! 

The car door wouldn’t close at the school gate one day.  Do people want to hear about that?  We have slidey doors and the back one got all huffy and refused to shut.  Couldn’t be moved.    Eventually a nice daddy heaved it shut for me and we went on our way.  I have contemplated leaving it the way it is but I reckon having four boys swinging out of it up to 15 times a day could make it a more expensive repair in the long run. 

Would you like to hear about how the kids continue to murder each other?  I think we might have a resident robin in the garden. I’ve seen him a few times.  Would updated Christmas letters again be of interest even though I have told them to stop changing things around?   The dog needs her winter boosters and I’m still trying to take her in to get them. We’ve returned to the library and oldest boy is literally inhaling books.  The others are enjoying the DS games, audio books and DVD sections.

See? Nothing to write about.  I’ll go off and dry my hair instead.  Maybe bring a cup of coffee with me.    Or a beer.  Maybe a beer.

Friday 16 October 2015

Alternatives to Trick or Treating

My boys are getting better at planning ahead.  Naturally this does not extend to uniforms, school bags or lunch boxes.  I am talking about Halloween here.  Since they started back to school they have been asking how soon Christmas is.  In an effort to give them a time frame handle I stupidly told them Halloween has to come first.

“Oh! Can we go trick or treating?”
“Yes!  I want to go trick or treating.”
“And me!  Me too!”
“We won’t go.  We never do.  She won’t take us.”

I’m not a bad parent.  Usually.  And my boys speak the truth when they say they have never been trick or treating.  At least I’ve never brought them, but we do have a slight problem pertaining to that annual event.

We live in the countryside. 

To go trick or treating would involve a very very tedious car drive to several houses on our road inhabited by older people who are well ensconced in their grandparent days.    We could be really cheeky and head into town and join the gangs of kids that are traipsing around the housing estates but I draw the line at that.

My boys are not impressed.

They are still asking but this year I am also planning ahead and have decided to perhaps definitely maybe absolutely get them out of the house for the day that is Halloween, or trick or treat day or 31st October.  Which very conveniently (thank ye Gods) falls on a Saturday this year which makes it all so much easier.

The first alternative to trick or treating is to take them away altogether for the day. Treat them to such a bombastic mega day out they won’t be able to complain about missing out.  If I do it right, they will be so tired that’ll be the last thing they want to do.  So where are you going to take them?

Tayto park anyone?  Or Dublin Zoo even. 

Both places have themed events scheduled for the creepy season.  For example Spooktacular Boo @ Dublin Zoo are hosting what they call “creepy arts and crafts, spine-chilling keeper talks, spooky face painting.”  You are invited to join them for monster music on the Great Lawn as well as many other festive activities.   Full details on their website.  Some events require booking.

Tayto Park have a great selection of age appropriate themed events to choose from all rolling out on 24th October.  Their Lodge has been transformed into a terrifying and spine tingling experience.   Activities include face painting, arts and crafts and live shows.   

Kildare Maze.  This family friendly venue is based in Naas, Co. Kildare and we have yet to visit.  Closed since the end of summer but now reopened for Halloween with events such as a Trail of Terror, pumpkin weigh-ins and carvings.  There will also be fireside story telling at fire pits. 

Other online Halloween tours include Glasnevin Cemetery, Kilmainham Gaol and a pumpkin trail in Rathwood, Co. Carlow.

Another suggestion is have a small get together with some friends from school.  If you think you’re hard enough you could turn it into a sleep over.  But first things first.  Invite your guests to dress up.  It could be as elaborate as proper costumes or as simple as face paint. I like the idea of making a small pit in the garden, pouring in some barbeque charcoal and toasting marshmallows. 

Hands up those who remember bobbing for apples or the infamous flour and grape game?   I remember my kids reacting with a mixture of horror and complete dubiousness when they were asked to participate in a walnut race.  They were expected to push said nut around the floor with their nose.  I can’t recall it happening but you could try with your own kids.  A much nicer ending to the grape and flour game would be to have the person whose slice of flour causes the grape to fall, eat the grape instead of having their face pushed into the flour.

Consider a PG scary movie night with your kids.  Ask their friends over.  For a spook-tacular evening, decorate the house, make some popcorn, draw the curtains and settle down to family friendly movies such as Frankenweenie, The Goonies, Beetlejuice and Hotel Transylvania.    

Then there is the other side of the coin.  What happens if you have a child who is easily over stimulated by all the Halloween festivities and winds up very upset?

Maybe a crafting day with pumpkin carving would suit them more. 

If trick or treating is simply part of the ritual that is Halloween and you would still like to observe it, perhaps keep it for the houses of grandparents or aunts and uncles only.  That way your child will still experience the tradition but a lot of fuss can be eliminated.

Without being a spoilsport, please be careful.  Keep animals and pets safe.  Some get extremely distressed at this time of year.  Keep them indoors.  Make sure little hands don’t reach sparklers and the like. 

And last but perhaps most importantly of all – watch out for Freddy Krueger.  Rumour has it, he never did perish in that fire.