Category Archives: parenting

Sleepy smiles 

Enjoying a rare Saturday off. Lying in bed with no where to rush to is bliss :)Instead of the constant go go go run run run of our morning rituals, I lay in bed and watched my baby wake up slowly. First the face scrunch, the pouty lips start to move, rooting maybe. The arms go up and the little back arches, face scrunched up, three chins on the go. Then the wee noises, the snuffling and the grunting. And then suddenly, the big crazy eyes adjusting to the light! And the slow smile that says hello, you’re here. Heart melt.


Good morning! 

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365 days later

What a difference a year makes!

#DIL2014

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A year ago, I was training for #hellandback and #DIL Darkness Into Light was introduced to Donegal for the first time. At the time, we did it because a good friend was organising it and it was a good “public” run as it were. It was fun, I made good time, I did it on my own.

One year later it was being staged at home and it wasn’t just a means to an end. It was an experience as opposed to a run. The whole point was going from Darkness INTO the light, to experience the camaraderie, the feeling of being part of something, that we aren’t alone. And no, that’s not just an excuse for taking twice as long to do it than the year before. Although circumstances have changed greatly since. I’m not running as much following an ankle and calf injury 6 months ago. I’m 5 months pregnant. The list could go on and on.

#DIL2015

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I forgot to turn my MapMyRun (too busy chatting) on but someone said it was about 5.37km.

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I am very lucky that no one close to me has died from suicide but I have close family and friends that have. I know the depression that lurks deep, that can spring from a slow drip to a gushing flood. That it’s paralysing and unstoppable. And for whatever reason people did or didn’t do it, i hope they take away the simple fact that there is someone out there to reach out to.

I want my kids to grow up in a house where we can talk and talk about anything. That depression and suicide aren’t dirty words, a whispered secret. That there is an illness that is so consuming that there is no light. So they can recognise it, they can be aware of it, they can ask for help.

It is difficult to approach in an age appropriate way but I got them a book a few years ago which very gently touches on it and I think its a good spring board for more mature material later on.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Huge-Worries-Virginia-Ironside/dp/0340903171

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It’s another one of those things that I endlessly worry about as a parent. But I guess, time will only tell.

Still I Rise.

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As i walked down the Main St last night, after a lovely family dinner, son in hand, someone drove past and shouted racist abuse at me. Unprovoked, out of the blue.

I won’t lie. It shocked and upset me. I have thick skin, sticks and stones and all that and usually, it just rolls over, forgotten. But sometimes, sometimes, it does stick. It does hurt and most of all it does worry me. In the fifteen years i’ve lived here, it would be miraculous if i’d never experienced it before now. But in all those years, all my experiences of racism have been from children and teenagers.

Kids in their school uniform who shouted awful slurs, kids who came in to where I worked and called me derogatory names, teens in their sports kit who were waiting for a bus on the diamond who thought it was funny to make sexual gestures and generalise a whole nation of people through me. A boy who called out hateful words as I walked past with my toddler daughter, who turned out to be the child of someone who worked closely with refugees. Teens who attacked my brother on the first day of his visit to Donegal last christmas, again while he was with my daughter. A boy who shouted vile things at me and my two kids as we walked home from the graveyard who I now know to be the son of well respected business people. Kids from the tech, again in their uniforms, who called me foreign scum. Children of local, law abiding people. I could go on. Because every last one of those experiences weigh on me and live inside of me.

It makes me wonder if adults know better or if they just get more adept at hiding it. And that’s the thought that scares me the most. I don’t think people are inherently racist or bigoted. This is learned, from the actions and words of others. And it makes me fear for my kids. I teach them to be proud of who they are, of where they came from, to be strong. So if the time comes that they experience this, that they can stand tall and rise. But i know it will still hurt.

There will be people who tell me to get over it, or worse, if i don’t like it to go home. Herein lies another quandary for me. I have lived in Ireland longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. Longer than the country I was born in, longer than the countries where I grew up and went to school, longer than the countries I travelled to and worked in. Most days, it does feel like home and yet, as you can see, some days it doesn’t.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise. -Maya Angelou

Cheesy goodness

Surely, given half the chance, I’m not the only person in the planet who would love a mac and cheese bath? Look at all that creamy goodness!

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#tbt #throwbackthursday

I know the whole concept of #throwbackthursday is to reminisce on days gone by and bla, bla, bla.

But this week, it gave me pause.

The other day, Arjay sent us a package from Sydney. A few presents for the kids (if you have reading age kids- check out Anh Do’s book WeirDo- the kids love it, it’s HYSTERICAL), a present for Justin, an Aussie cookbook (Australians have indigenous food? ;)) and a pack of old photos. The photos were from schoolies week and it was a real kick seeing them. We graduated the day before, mom and I got mugged and traumatised for life and the next day, I got on a plane with my best buds and had a week I hardly remember because, hello, that was the whole point of schoolies week! I’m still friends with the people in the photos, albeit mostly on facebook, and it really brought me back. It also made me realise that there are photos from decades of my life that I can’t show my kids until they’re at least 16 lest I need to answer awkward questions like, why are your eyes like that? what’s the green stuff? Why are you on the floor/hugging the toilet/passed out on a bench in the dark?

Anyway, this is my #tbt photo this week.

TBT

Mom was 39 in this photo. 39. That’s 3 years from now for me. At that time, I was already 18. When I turn 39, Gabriella and Max will be 10 and 7 respectively. I remember when that was still a lifetime away.

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Most days, I still feel like this is me. Obviously not on the outside (that was about 30 pounds ago), but i’m still waiting to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

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But these monkeys won’t wait until then.

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I guess we never really gave much thought to our parents then. About who they were when they weren’t our parents cos really, that’s the only thing that defined them for us (and face it, kids, especially teenagers are selfish). I have a great relationship with my mom, I like to think so anyway. But back then, I never gave a thought to who she was besides my mom. What sacrifices they made, the struggles as well as the triumphs. I guess, as a child, it’s just way out of our sphere. Everyday I worry about my kids, how we are raising them, if the choices we make will help or hinder them when we send them out to the big bad world. But when I see a photo of her at nearly the same age I am now, still so unsure of what I’m doing, it really is terrifying.

Obviously, we turned out AWESOME so they’ve done something right.

I only hope my kids will be as forgiving and understanding (and don’t forget well adjusted). Eventually.

Sleeping beauty

Let me preface this post by saying that I am by no means referring to myself as beauty! Or sleeping for that matter.

Well, what’s the point then, you ask?

Do you ever get stuck in a rut and think, I need a change. I need to do something! And then you do and you think you are being so brave and adventurous doing this new thing and then you think one day, about 10 months later, hmmm, lets see if this old thing ever worked for me. And all of a sudden, you are transformed! Shazam! You are that person you had been looking for all along!!

And it’s like waking up from a deep sleep, a revelation. You were there all along. You’ve found the self you were meant to be.

Well, let me tell you. I had one of those moments yesterday.

Everything in my life is a big round of firefighting. I just can’t seem to get ahead of myself so I’m chasing my tail. With my husband, my kids, the house, work, etc etc etc.

But yesterday, I tried on some red lipstick. I’ve always known that I’m a red lipstick kind of girl. I’ve even sung it’s praises on this blog. It was my secret weapon. But a while back, I needed a change and I listened when someone told me to try something else. Try this rose lipstick, they said. It’s different but it’s you. And so I did. And it was great for a time, a long time. Until yesterday when I put the red lipstick on again and BOOM! I was a different person again.

And I KNOW I’m talking about lipstick, ffs. But it made me realise a bunch of things.

– You can have more than one lipstick at any given time! Yes, this is obvious. But I’m so lazy and complacent that I tend to stick to one thing all the time. So this needs to change. It’s not about changing one thing forever amen. It’s about developing and realising that maybe you were there all along. And incorporating the new colours with the old. And changing it up now and again.

And not losing sight of yourself in the meantime.

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This is probably the most ridiculously convoluted post I’ve written in a long time. But it just had to come out.

This morning, after putting my face on, I turned around to Gabriella and asked her what she thought, not really thinking she’d notice. And she said, “Mummy! You’re you again.”

Bzzzzzzzz

I was sitting at the computer, half working, half telling the kids to turn off the tv and go to bed but I wasn’t paying much attention though it was way past their bed time, so engrossed was i in my work.

Gabriella came up and it didn’t occur to me for ages til I started to get annoyed that she was hovering around me buzzing in the most irritating fashion. I turned around to snap at her when she suddenly said, “that’s how annoyed I was earlier, mummy”.

I burst into laughter. She was referring to a conversation we had earlier that evening when I scolded her for not eating all her lunch at her field trip and she said it was because the wasps were annoying her.

It also made me pause, so often I get frustrated with my kids for “not listening” when in reality it’s because I’m the one whose not paying attention. Just a note to myself.

Digging for treasure

I am equally delighted and dismayed by yesterday’s unintentional discovery.

I had a rare half a day off yesterday. Had an awesome shoot in the morning followed by what was meant to be mommy and gia day. Then we got a letter in the post to advise of Max’s last developmental health check with the PHN for that very same afternoon! (Eeek! Where did the time go? But that’s a story for another day) So I got to hang out with my kids anyway.

Their cousins are over from England so we headed out to see if they were home to say hello but they weren’t there so we headed for the beach.

After a showery afternoon, it was a gorgeous evening. Warm and sunny with a cool breeze. It was low tide, the beach felt eerily deserted after the weeks of local crowds descending on it with the good weather. I had emptied the beach gear out of the car just that morning to put in my photo props so we didn’t have a single bucket or spade.

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But we weren’t stopping long, just a quick walk before we headed back to see if the cousins were home.

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We foraged for unusual shells to make a beach collage which kept them occupied for a bit.

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Then Gia headed off on her adventure while max was extremely whiney about the green sand. The tide was so far out and the sand had mossy pockets which he thoroughly disapproved of! He kept demanding I pick him up and walked on his tippy toes the whole time cos he didn’t like the dirty sand. He was driving us bananas so we headed back and I noticed a man with a bucket and I was instantly intrigued. What is he doing? What is he collecting? Can I eat it?

I crept closer and started to eavesdrop when I spied a bucket full of seaweed. He told the lady who stopped to chat to him that we was collecting it for his wife for a foot bath, there was chat about healing properties but I half tuned out and max was still whining, until he bent down, plucked something out of the sand and then ate it.

Oooh!! This was more like it. I asked him what he was eating and he said cockles! As if I should have known. Then he bent over again, found another one, opened it up and offered it to me.

And now you’re probably thinking, wtf? I read all this for cockles?

But I seriously cannot explain how amazing this was to me. He may as well have offered me ambrosia. This little raw morsel of bivalve was like gold. It was briny, like the sea. It was sweet and fresh and it evoked memories of my childhood and my dad. I wish I was as eloquent as Anthony Bourdain when he recounted his experience of the first time he ate an oyster. It was that kind of revelation. Joy, closely followed by utter dismay that I’d been coming to this beach for the last 13 years and was unaware of the treasure that lay just beneath my feet.

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Sure, I’ve eaten cockles before, but they came out of a jar. This was digging your fingers into the sand to comb through it to grasp these little molluscs to eat. Raw, on the beach, with the smell of sand and sunshine around you.

It brought me back to summers with my dad when he would bring home bushels of “butil” (a smaller, similar clam like food- I don’t know it’s real name) from cavite and we would sit outside eating it, just the two of because nobody else could be bothered cos it was so tiny and tedious. In fairness, most shellfish have very little ROI when you factor in how hard it is to pick it out of their shells, etc. But it was like “our” thing.

I promptly abandoned my kids on the shore while I had a forage for myself. He taught me how to open them, like turning a key. And my excitement must have been evident cos his wife made her way down to us to see what all the commotion was about. I was that thrilled that both my kids were enticed to try it. My kids! Gabriella with her clean fetish ate something that came out of the ground without disinfecting it to within an inch of its life.

My new friend told me not to tell all and sundry where it was lest the hordes descend on our wee beach but any local will know exactly where this is. I wish someone had shared it with me years ago!

I could wax eloquent for pages yet but this was truly a memorable day 🙂

So much so that I went back today, sans children, with a bucket and spade to dig out my dinner.

The beach was blessedly deserted, I didn’t fancy scaring anyone away with my enthusiasm if they made the mistake of asking me what I was doing.

I had a million things on my to do list today, but the hour I took for myself to dig around in the sand was nothing short of therapeutic. Plus, I got dinner to boot 🙂

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Again, the return on investment isn’t that great, but it made it all the sweeter. This is how cavemen must have felt. I get food. I feed family.

But, in this case, I kind of forgot to share 🙂

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I googled loads of recipes to try but in the end, I ate them standing up over the counter, fresh out of the steamer, no condiments, juice running down my arms. Heaven in a bowl.

Bad mummy

I’ve had a sick feeling in my tummy all day. I yelled at Gabriella (a lot) this morning. We were late, I couldn’t sleep so I couldn’t get up. She was up with the birds as usual and dressed and ready to go before I got downstairs. The usual what to feed my exceedingly picky kids for breakfast game started. She wanted boiled eggs, he wanted fruit trees. So I got breakfast ready and went up for a shower. She came up and asked could she have another egg and I told her to go ahead. She only eats the yolks and we don’t have it that often.

When I got downstairs, she had peeled and discarded all the white bits off all over the table and her tea set and had wiped her dirty hands on her clothes.

I lost the plot.

It seems so petty now but I was so cross and they weren’t paying attention cos they were watching cartoons and I freaked out more than I should.

A lot of it is my own fault. I should have prepared something the night before, I should have got up earlier, I shouldn’t let them watch cartoons in the morning, I should have stood my ground years ago and made them eat whatever I cooked, should have, would have, could have.

Max was delighted he wasn’t in trouble for once and started taunting her. Little @&3*%! So I yelled at him too.

Gah!!!!

So I apologised to Gabriella for yelling at her and rushing them but to be honest, I feel like it was a passive aggressive faux apology which she’ll probably remember in therapy years from now.

So I feel sick to my stomach and eaten up by guilt for being such a bad mummy. I’m working all day and I have a shoot this evening so they’ll probably be asleep by the time I get home. 😦

I need a day off from my two jobs, I need sleep, I need to stop chasing my own tail, but most importantly, I need to reconnect with my kids. To turn off my phone and all the other iDevices and just be. With my kids.

Just be.

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Summer time

Three weeks into the summer already!

My baby girl is 7! Seven! How can I have a child who is 7 years old? I am in awe everyday that I have 2 amazing, sometimes annoying, happy loving children.

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I was reading back on a post I made in March and four months later, the insomnia is still there, the house is an even bigger shambles and yet we are still doing the best we can. Making happy memories amidst the chaos of everyday life.

And even though I could cry with frustration sometimes, I wouldn’t change it for the world. (Not all of it anyway. I am still waiting for the magic fairy to clean the house and unblock the negative energy that the clutter has created. We need some good feng shui joo joo going on)

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So I need to make a never ending list to sort all out. Back in a sec (or a few weeks) 🙂