Thursday, 31 March 2016

A Zootropolis Review
We don’t go to the cinema a whole lot.   We tend to keep it for mid-term breaks, Easter holidays, birthdays, that kind of thing.  Which is enough when your entourage is four children.   Cinema ain’t cheap after you factor in treats.

However, it seems to me that I have been looking at the advertisement for Zootropolis for the last year and if I am to be completely honest, it didn’t spark joy in me.  

So when Easter loomed I knew a cinema trip was on the cards and when Zootropolis was requested I shuddered a little bit and prayed it wasn’t going to be Minion like.  (I fucking hate the minions.  Sorry for the fowler, but I do.  There. Are. No. Words!)

But then I discovered Jason Bateman was in Zootropolis and I cheered up a little.   When I say “in Zootropolis” I mean he lends his voice talents to it because in case you aren’t aware, Zootropolis is an animation.  

I’ve harboured a little crush on JB ever since his Valerie days.   There’s not many of you out there who remember Valerie. I’d wager.  Google it.  Actually, here’s a link.  

Then he showed up in Teen Wolf Too and dormant fondness was re-ignited.    (I had great fun explaining to my oldest why it’s cleverly called Teen Wolf Too and not Two)

So we went along to see Zootropolis.  The boys knew who all the characters were and kept talking about them a while two weeks before we went.

Me: “How do you know this?”

Them: “Zootropolis is everywhere!” Insert suitable scornful emoji’s here.

And I was more than pleasantly surprised.  In fact, I might allow them to buy the DVD when it comes out.  Unlike my frantic head shakes of “No! No! No!” when Mister Husband discovered The Good Dinosaur in Penney’s lately.  

“It’s like Frozen!” I may or may not have roared at him “Let it go!  I’ll never get that hour and a half of my life back.”

I laughed at all the appropriate places in Zootropolis.  I even figured out who the real bad guy was.   I loved how Nicholas P. Wilde (Jason Bateman.  Swoon!) the fox managed to look like his human counterpart especially when he stuck his hands in his pockets.  I’m still struggling over the Breaking Bad references.  I’ve never watched it but I reckon the meth lab has something to do with it?  Yes?  No?

For what it’s worth I thought I would ask my boys if their cinematic experience was worth it. There may be one or two spoilers within.  

Did you like Zootropolis and why?
10-Year-Old:  Yeah.   I don’t know coz sometimes I like animations like that one.  I liked it because there was a mix of everything.  It was funny and kid of creepy at some points.  I liked the colours in it too. 
8-Year-Old:   Yes.   Because they had horror bits like when the otter jumped up and stuff.  The clouds and stuff around the panther made it look really scary.  And creepy. I also liked the victory toot toot.
6 ½ year Old:    Yeah.  I liked the way Mr. Otter jump scared the panther. 
5-Year-Old:  Yeah!  Coz I liked when Judy Hopps went so fast.  I liked the fastness of her.   I liked when Judy Hopps was in the guard car.  She stopped it really fast.  I liked when the fox actually got caught with the polar bears in the car.

What do you like most about the cinema?
8-Year-Old: It’s loud and it feels like the world is shaking when it starts.  
6 ½ Year Old:   I like the cinema because we get popcorn and there’s treats. I like the dark.  I like the way it’s loud at the start of the movie.   Lot’s like KABOOM
5-Year-Old:  I like the way it’s nice and dark coz there’s no windows except a door.  I like the booster seats.  The whole pack of them is different colours and you can pick whichever one you want.  I actually like everything about the cinema.  And that’s all.

Who was your favourite character in the movie?
10-Year-Old:    Nick.   I like foxes in real life and he was funny.  He was smart the way he thought up hustles and then he turned good and he helped Judy Hopps.  He became a junior detective in the end. 
8-Year-Old:  Judy Hopps.   Because she was funny.
6 ½ Year Old:     Judy Hopps. Because she’s a cop and she’s brave and she got scraped close to the cheek.  But it wasn’t bleeding.
5-Year-Old:   I liked when Judy Hopps was a little little bunny and she was hopping.  She was really really cute.  And that’s all.

Did it make you laugh?
10-Year-Old:     Some bits were funny but it wasn’t like the funniest thing in the word.
8-Year-Old:    Yes.  I liked the toot toot bit and the tiny Chihuahua when he got the jumbo pop.
6 ½ Year Old:   No.   Because there was a lot of horror and jump scares and stuff like that.   I thought it was really scary.
5-Year-Old:     No.

What was the best part?
10-Year-Old:  I think the end when they figure out the night howlers.  I felt that they had to go to Zootropolis to find out the cure and that was really good. 
8-Year-Old:     The bit where Judy Hopp discovered the night howlers weren’t the wolves and the mayor sheep was found out.  I loved the bit where it was tense when the panther was chasing them.   When they thought Nick went wild and the way he grabbed Judy around the neck and she was all “blood! blood! blood!” the way the movie started.
6 ½ Year Old:    I liked the way Judy Hopps went to Zootropolis.  I thought Nick was a little bit too mean at the start but by the end they were great friends.
5-Year-Old:    eeemmmmmm I liked when the night howlers caught the tiger. 

Would you recommend it to your friends?
10-Year-Old:     Yes.    It’s really good and I think they would enjoy it.  
8-Year-Old:   Yup!  I hope we get it on DVD when it comes out.
6 ½ Year Old:    Yeah.   I don’t think they would be scared.
5-Year-Old:   Yeah.  When I see them again.

So there you go.   But don’t just take our words for it.   Go see it yourself.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Thursday Thoughts

I had separate posts written for each of these meanderings but even I was bored to tears so I condensed them down into a quick read instead.

Easter SundayFor the love of Christ please think of the children.  A recent report has claimed that Irish children will consume more than 1.5 million eggs this weekend.   That at the very least each child will receive two eggs with the most being a whopping ten to fifteen eggs each.
That’s insane.  So instead consider giving some of the following:   a cinema voucher, a book token, a day trip to a park or the zoo, a swim, their favourite magazine or an Easter camp.  Believe me, their parents will really thank you for it!

Anti-biotics.   Or as Smallest Boy calls them “antic biotics.”  They rock.  They really do.  I did not give him his “antic biotic” lightly.  On the doc’s recommendation I was to wait “a day or two” then I’ll know if it’s a bacterial infection rather than viral.   In other words, if he continues to complain about pain in his ears, lash the stuff into him.    I did.   Night sweats coupled with a spiking temp and scary ass hallucinations are not fun!    He’s right as rain now.  In fact, he was “extremely half better” within 12 hours of the first dose. 

Opinions.  On parenting that is.  My news feed seems to be a bit clogged with articles these days.  I enjoy a good parenting article but sometimes I’ll get halfway through and realise it’s not the article I thought it was and I’ll jump onto the comments.    Sometimes these can be quite entertaining.  Sometimes, indeed oftentimes, they can hold more merit than the article itself.    They can be eye opening in an eye watering disbelieving kind of way.   Sometimes I wonder what sensitivities and insecurities the articles have roused in some readers to make them comment so vociferously.  

But I always, always try to remember that most of these articles are exactly that; someone’s opinion.

Just like this one. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Talking to Myself

My captive audience
So I talk to myself.   Always have done.   I will also chat to inanimate objects.   I’m not fussy like that.    The other morning, I had a fascinating conversation with the coffee machine.  Before coffee and everything.

I have little or no memory of what I actually said to it but I do recall in my mind, it held onto every word.  What’s more there were no interruptions and once I think I saw it nod ever so slightly.

Then Smallest Boy stuck his head around the door and asked was I talking to myself again.


It has just occurred to me that maybe the reason my boys never answer me is because they just assume I am deep in conversation with myself and not them.

When you talk to yourself or to inanimate objects or the presenters on the radio, you have a captive audience.   It’s very pleasing.  They are going nowhere.  They are also less likely to laugh at you and inform you in an unkind or scathing way that you are talking shite.

But there are other reasons why people talk to themselves.   They go as follows.

You might be lonely.

Self-esteem may be low or there is some kind of disorder present. (Thanks, Google)

You are a genius (thanks, Google)

Talking to yourself helps your brain work more efficiently by helping you focus on the job at hand.

It can help you achieve your goals.  By sounding out each step, things seem more concise and approachable thus making everything seem more doable. 

It enables you to syphon off stress.

Memory can be stimulated.  

We all need a pep talk every now and again so talking ourselves through something can be encouraging. 

Your attention span and concentration can be improved.

And the most interesting one of all is that everyone does it with kids being the most common offenders but as they grow up they tend to stop.   Popular belief is that small children are encouraged not to talk to themselves and are therefore trained out of it.  

So the next time you see a little kid talking to their stuffed toys or pushing around a truck filled with sand and engaged in a lively conversation, let them on.   They are playing and learning.


Same goes for the grown woman conversing with the coffee machine or arguing out loud with the trolley coin when it refuses to go into the slot.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

How Do You Stop?
Some years ago Mister Husband almost met his end courtesy of a (cloth) wardrobe collapsing with an electric guitar on top of it which could have rightly killed him (had he actually been in the room and near the wardrobe at the time.)  But I digress.

Something similar happened to me recently except it was the contents of a cupboard, avalanching down on me.  I was almost buried.  Underneath 10 year’s worth of scrapbooks.   Piled high in the storage cupboard upstairs.  

Afterwards I asked myself, how do you stop?  How do you stop collecting the bits and pieces of tat your kids bring home from school?   When do you stop collecting birthday cards and sticking them into scrapbooks? 

Do you ever?  

We celebrated a 10th birthday last month and I have strong stirrings that I won’t catalogue another of his cards until he hits the dreaded teens.

But I’m struggling with it.   Do I really want to bin the cards that celebrate his 11th and 12th birthdays?  Wouldn’t that imply those birthdays aren’t important?

I feel it would.

But I have the fear that if I don’t stop now, I might not be able to.   Bearing in mind I have four kids. 
Already I have been almost concussed under the weight of 368 scrapbooks. 

That’s only so far.   What happens when I get to the 10th birthdays of boys numbers two, three and four?

I’ll need a new cupboard!

I haven’t a single baby item left in the house.   I got rid of all baby clothes except the vest and Babygro they each wore when they were born.   The buggies were dispatched to their forever new homes some months back.

I have a cot waiting to be collected any day now.

I threw out all of the cuddly toys.  I came across four little pairs of first shoes recently and binned those too.  Not a single regret.  Not a one. 

I have locks of hair from the first haircuts.   There might be the first tooth in one of the memory boxes.  And then I grew lax at that as well.  Recently I put my hand into the pocket of a dressing gown and discovered four little pearly whites the tooth fairy had left there.    I had no idea whose they were so I flushed them.

I religiously and systematically took a photograph of each child on their birth date every month for the first year of their life and catalogued them into individual photo albums.  I wrote them all a letter on their first birthday and the first day they started Big School.

They have loads of memories both in their heads and on paper. 

But I really think it’s time I stopped collecting birthday cards in scrapbooks that no-one will ever want.

Monday, 21 March 2016

A Big Fat Sweaty Guilty Confession

Here's some socks
I have a big, fat, sweaty, guilty confession to make.  I can’t contain it any longer.  I’m bursting with the magnitude of it.   I’ve given it a lot of thought and many many times I told myself not to give in.   “Don’t go there,” I said.  “Keep your trap shut.”  But similar to the way the eff word bursts out of me in mad bursts of rage and disbelief, sometimes I have to warn people, this is the time to admit that I really really don’t like something.

It’s a book.

A book written by someone I really really admire.  Someone I have been following since the beginning of their career.    For years now.   I even have bits of newspaper interviews and sound bites from them sellotaped into the backs of their older novels.

It wouldn’t be a lie when I say I love this writer.   I admire them greatly and I adore their work. In short, I think they’re great.  

But I am struggling big time with their latest book.

It’s been in my possession since its release such was my haste to get my hands on it and I have been reduced to calling it my bathroom book.

You do so know what I mean by a bathroom book.  Everyone brings a book or a magazine into the bathroom with them on occasion.

Don’t they?

Anyway, I still have it and I’m still reading it.   Almost a month later.   Usually I stock up on digestive biscuits, tins of beans and loads of apples for the lads when I have something new to read and then I just point them in the general direction of the food piled up on the counter top and say, “food.” 

Then I point at my book and say, “fek off.  Give me two days.  That’s all I want.  I’ll be finished in two days.”

But this time round I am bitterly disappointed with my new book.  Maybe I’m having a bad day.   Maybe it’s the Easter holidays and I’m a bit emotional.  I don’t know.  But I do know I cannot get on board with this latest tome.

And here’s part two of my confession.

I know!  There’s more.   Now I really am crying.

The last book was only okay too.   Much better than the previous one and heaps better than the (forgive me!) absolute pile of shite prior to that.  I remember thinking the only reason that one was published was because it’s INSERT AUTHOR’S NAME HERE work.

Oh god, I’m not able for this.  I’m really not.

I’ll just have to go and find some rushes somewhere near a body of water and whisper my disappointment into them.  

Don’t follow me now. 


Monday, 14 March 2016

Playdates. There's a Wine For That

*This article previously appeared in Mums & Tots parenting magazine. They never mentioned wine in the title.   But I did.

Playdates come in for a very bad rap.  We’ve all heard the horror stories either courtesy of our friends or through reading our favourite blogs. Sometimes I wonder how much of these recountings actually happened; surely they have all been exaggerated a little bit.  After all no-one is going to laugh at a playdate that didn’t have drama attached to it, something that makes us half laugh in thanks that whatever has taken place was in someone else’s house.

No-one likes playdates being really honest about it, but sometime we just have to suck it up for the sisterhood.  We all need that friend who says, “I’ll pick them up at lunchtime and give you the afternoon with the new baby.” 

With four children of my own I have been pleasantly surprised to find the group dynamic can be changed, and often for the better, by adding another child to the mix.  I call it the novelty factor.  I am also discovering, the older the child the easier the playdate and dare I say it, more enjoyable for everyone concerned. 

These meet ups don’t have to be micro-managed.  A little forward planning can make things run more smoothly. 

A few pointers to remember. 

Feed your charges.  Kids like to eat.  Blood sugar levels that are allowed drop can only go one way fast - towards mini meltdowns complete with large disagreements and tears.  A large feast isn’t necessary, keep healthy snacks handy; fruit and popcorn always go down a treat.  You could incorporate baking as a fun activity. A basic cookie recipe with smarties or chocolate buttons for toppings. Make the dough beforehand and leave the fun part, the decorating, to the kids. 

You kind of are the unpaid babysitter.  This doesn’t mean you have to hover all of the time but a certain level of supervision is required.  Silence is not always golden.  Go about your regular day but keep a watchful presence.  This lets the kids know you are there if they need anything and also makes them aware you are being vigilant.  A bit sneaky with a touch of benign Big Brother about it but also a necessary tactic.  

Don’t let the playdate run too long.  This one might seem like a no-brainer but I’ve had tears at the end of even slightly too long playdates. They can be great fun but overwhelming and kids can crash and burn hard following the excitement and build up beforehand.  Decide a time and stick to it. Even better if you can do the pick-ups and home runs.

Set ground rules.  It’s perfectly ok to outline one or two expectations such as no playing in the adults’ bedrooms, don’t be mean to the dog, no ball games in the house and ask before you open the fridge.

Put away the good stuff.  This applies to your breakables and more importantly your own child’s favourite possessions.  If there is something they are a tad obsessive over and really don’t like sharing, put it away.  It’s also a good idea to remind your child not to swap belongings.  It might be considered “a loan” but kids are notorious for waking up at 2am and wanting the most random of things.  Like that DVD they gave away or their favourite Lego set - the one they suddenly cannot live without.

Expect Revolt.  It’s not uncommon for your child to up the ante during a playdate on home turf.  Kids like to test their powers when entertaining on their own territory.  So there may be fights.  Lots of fights.  But if the get together ends while they are having fun, this is what they will remember.

Great expectations. Sometimes people can view a get together with the kids as simply that and by default, forget to reciprocate.  It might be considered selfish or rude but playdates are totally optional.  After all social skills can be developed almost anywhere.  The park is a great place to put this to the test.  The best bit?  You don’t have to clean up afterwards.    

It’s also ok to allow yourself a treat at the end of the day.  Keep a bottle of wine in the fridge and make it your business to look at it several times over the course of the playdate.  Call it the carrot on the end of the stick.

Happy play dating!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

I Sat in a Chair

Yesterday I sat in a chair.

All day.   A nice comfy one.  Kind of.  Sort of.  If you call a numb leg and creases in your face comfy, then yes, it was a comfy chair.  But let me start at the beginning.

I felt like shite.   Utterly washed out.   Akin to the limp dish cloth analogy.   What’s that other one?  Oh yes, a boiled shite.  I also felt like a boiled shite.  Don’t we have great expressions?

I felt so awful my stomach lurched when I looked at my runners and running gear.  I love to run.  Love it.   So this sinking feeling rang all of my bells.  

I decided to take Wednesday off.  And I did.   By off, I mean no exercise at all, a nice breakfast and then I was going to sit on my arse for the rest of the day and read my book.

In my nice comfy chair.  The one that numbed my leg and gave me face creases.   Extra ones, I mean.

I got into my bed at 8pm, finished my book, turned out the light and slept a deep enough sleep.
I woke up this morning still feeling marginally shitty so I decided to take today as well.   I had things to do.   School runs, lunches, breakfast, uniforms, but I did not put pressure on myself to be in the dreaded kitchen any longer than I needed to. 

By 10am I felt a lot better.   I am still tired.  Still a bit weary and looking very much forward to the Easter break from school next Wednesday, but the energy levels, whilst still not 100% are slightly better.

It got me thinking.   But not too much because after all, I was on a break.

But this is how people suffering with depression and anxiety feel all of the time.   With my hand on my heart I can honestly say I was not having a blue this week.  I was just tired and needed to shut down and off for a while.  Just do what was absolutely necessary.

A few years back I did seek help for depression.   I was pregnant and recognised the signs.  Because I had been there twice before.   Post natally.  I decided to be a bit more pro-active about my state of affairs.

I had a chat with my GP who was wonderful and she arranged the necessary appointments for me.  

I had to wait six weeks for that counselling session. 

Thankfully I was much better by the time it rolled round and I went anyway.
Can you imagine someone who was not feeling better but decidedly worse and absolutely could not wait that length of time to speak to a professional about their mental health?

I can.    I try not to.  But I can.  I think about the family and friends they will leave behind.   Their children.  Perhaps parents.    

It’s horrendous.   It’s awful.  

I use the word “will” purposefully because it happens every day.

By “it” I mean suicide and self-harm.  

That is why I am appealing to anyone who reads this to sign up for the annual Pieta House Darkness into Light event.  It will be celebrating its 8th year on Saturday May 7th 2016 with over 100 venues across Ireland.

Pieta House provides a free, therapeutic approach to people who are in suicidal distress and for those who self-harm.  90% of their income comes from fundraising events such as Darkness into Light.  

One of their goals is to have a centre within 100k of every person in Ireland.  
They are getting ever closer to making this a reality. 

Even if you cannot attend on May 7th, pledge your donation to the fantastic work of Pieta House.  

Early bird tickets, available now, are only €20.

Have you ever had that dream where you are running but it feels as if your feet are stuck in tar?

That’s what depression can feel like.  That’s what hopelessness can feel like. 

I sat in a chair for the best part of two days.  There are people out there who don’t have that luxury.        

Thank you for reading.   May you always be well. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Mother's Day and I'm Worth It

Yesterday a newsletter from the local supermarket came through the letterbox.  

I wasn’t best impressed.     

Do you know what screams, “you’re not worth it?”  What yells, “I don’t care if you were in labour for two days and spent the next two weeks sitting on a rubber ring?”   (I wasn’t and I didn’t.  Meh, semantics.)

An annoying newsletter strongly alluding to the heinous notion, your mother, the one whose vajayjay was forever altered in order to give you life, is not worth the full price of a box of Milk Tray, is what!

And guess what else it had in it? 

Go on!  I double dare you!

Sliced pans for €1.50 is what!!!!!!

FFS!   It’s Mother’s Day!

Please, in case you need to be reminded of such things, please do not buy your mother a bunch of flowers from a petrol station.    Or worse again, avail of an offer where you get a free box of chocolates with the flowers.  At the petrol station.

Just. Don’t.

Ignore the cheap perfumes in the supermarkets.   Steer clear of bunny ornaments and the like.   She has enough plates.   A meal is a lovely, lovely idea but not with the kids.  

So what can you do?  What can you get her?

It’s really not that hard.   The biggest shove I can give you in the right direction is to get her something you know she would like but would never buy for herself.   That may be posh face creams in the chemist, a cook book she has been eyeing up but balks and squawks at the price tag.   You will never ever go wrong with a voucher.  Hairdressers are your best bet.

Everyone likes to read.   If you know her favourite author, problem solved.   Failing that, or the lack of a new release, a book voucher will save your skin here again.

Hint no. 1

You don’t have to spend a fortune and she probably wouldn’t want you to anyway. 

I had a little think about what I might like to receive for Mother’s Day and this is what I came up with.   Bearing in mind my lack of sleep days are now, thankfully, a thing of the past, so I have stopped looking for a lie-on.

I am a big fan of body moisturisers.  As long as they don’t smell like a strawberry, a bar of chocolate or any other food item, I’m happy.  I particularly like the Garnier Oil Restoring range and now, they’ve brought out another one!  Much joy.       These are gorgeous and stay very much under the ten-euro mark.

Hint no. 2

Have you heard the one about the Irish Mammy and her handbag?   Neither have I but this is another safe bet.  Especially if you’ve caught her picking one up more than once and doing any or all of the following. Opening and closing it.   Giving it a thorough once over.  She’s mentally considering how many yokes she can fit into it.   If she slings it over her shoulder or tucks it under her arm, she really, really likes it.   Then she will put it back down and say “sure, I don’t need another handbag.  I’ve loads already.”  Now’s your chance.   Buy   it!

Carraig Donn for Hint No. 3

Clothes.    Like handbags, mammies can never have enough tops and things.    And if you do make an error either in sizing or style, it’s not the end of the world.  If the item does need to be returned it means she can pick out one she really likes herself!  Another win.   I like this one.  

Carraig Donn bringing home the 4th hint

And this one is a bit particular because if you hand your mammy a bra for Mother’s Day you should have a very good reason for doing so.   In this case I am talking about a shock absorber.  These are wonderful, amazing and a surprisingly comfortable absolutely vital piece of sports attire if you like to run or take part in an exercise that causes your mammaries to move about in the figure of 8.  Not the cheapest in the world – this pretty one will set you back €60 but they are so worth it.   

Aiscs for all the brownie points

And so am I is she.        

In case you were wondering -  I’m covered.  This morning I was sent out with strict instructions to “get yourself something from the boys for Mother’s Day.”

So I did.  

Have a good one whatever you get do.