First a wedding dress, then a maternity dress, now I'm just trying to fit into ANY dress.

Son of a Nutcracker! The Ginormous Christmas Charity Guide

NOW that it’s Toy Show Day I can officially talk about Christmas!

While Christmas is the season of presents, selection boxes for breakfast, the Toy Show and an overdose of turkey, it’s also a time of year when many of us like to make a charitable donation. There are approximately eleventy billion charities in Ireland so it would be impossible to list them all but below you’ll find a selection of 50 charities ranging from international charities working in developing countries around the world, to small local charities, to individuals raising money and animal rescue groups. I suppose this is a ‘Christmas Gift Guide’ but with a difference – instead of a list of lovely things that you can buy for yourself or your friends (which I am totally on board with by the way), it’s a lovely list of charities you can donate to. Obviously I’ve left out loads and loads – unintentionally I assure you –  so would love if, in the comments, you could link to any I’ve missed.

So, are you ready? Let’s dive in!



Let’s kick off with the international charities, many with a base in Ireland, working in developing countries.

You could donate to Plan Ireland, an international children’s charity working with young people living in poverty or how about donating to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) which provides emergency medical care around the world, wherever the need is greatest, including in warzones and during natural disasters.

This Christmas UNICEF is focusing on its Winter in Syria appeal, providing for children both in Syria and in the surrounding countries. The organisation has also launched its Survival Gifts campaign where donors can purchase actual lifesaving items – such as blankets, warm clothes and educational supplies –  that will be shipped directly from UNICEF to help children around the world.

The Red Cross is also looking for donations as are GOAL and Trocaire.

This Christmas you could give the gift of sight to a child in a developing country by supporting Sightsavers or you could donate to World Vision  and help to give refugee children a better future by providing them with toys and special play areas.



Moving on to national charities then, you could give a virtual gift to a needy family with the St Vincent de Paul in association with Aldi, or you could donate to Barnardos’ toy appeal, a group working with vulnerable children and their families.

The Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland has launched a toy appeal for children living in Direct Provision and if you can spare some cash, the Irish Refugee Council, which works with those going through the asylum process, always welcomes donations.

Perhaps Enable Ireland is close to your heart, (if you’re in Limerick city centre on Thursday December 3 from 1-6pm, there’ll be carol singers entertaining shoppers in aid of this organisation) or you might like to donate to the Post Polio Support Group, a group which aims to create awareness and provide information on Post Polio Syndrome; support polio survivors and advocate on behalf of polio survivors.

Focus Ireland works with people who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless and has launched an Urgent Christmas Appeal to help the 5,000 people who are homeless in Ireland at any one time. If you work at a large company or if you’re the bossman/woman at a large company you might consider sponsoring a star, instead of sending Christmas cards to your clients this year.

How about donating to the RNLI, the charity which saves lives at sea, or you might consider the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organisation which aims to assist people who are blind or visually impaired – as well as children with autism – to achieve improved mobility and independence.

There probably isn’t a household in the country that hasn’t been affected by cancer, but you can help beat this disease by donating to the Irish Cancer Society here. As well as helping those affected by cancer and their families, the ICS also engages in cancer research. This year the society will host a Christmas Candle of Hope Ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral on Tuesday, December 15 at 6pm.

Women’s Aid helps thousands of women affected by domestic violence every year. It operates a freephone number as well as offering one-to-one support services and referrals to refuges. You can help continue this vital work by donating here.

You can support Age Action, an organisation aiming to improve the quality of life of all older people and in a similar vein you could also click here to support Alone, a voluntary organisation helping elderly people in need.

This year’s Alone Christmas campaign however reminds us that it’s not just financial support that’s important, we should also give our elderly relatives and neighbours the gift of our presence by spending time with them this festive season.

Finally then for this section, the fantastic Christmas FM is back on the airwaves again, broadcasting all your favourite festive tunes from tomorrow, November 28, with all donations going to its charity partner. This year, that’s Make a Wish Ireland, an organisation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

Phew! That was a long one. Hang in there, we’re getting there. Have a little break for yourselves, get a snack, and we’ll continue on then.


On Dasher then, to local charities, of which there are gajillions dotted around the country. Here are just a few.

The Dublin Simon Community works to address and prevent homelessness in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath and strives to empower people to access a home of their own. This Christmas they have several ways to contribute, from buying a Simon Gold Star to participating in a sing-a-along.

On Christmas Day when you’re plating up your dinner, consider putting aside an extra portion and dropping it off to the Hope in the Darkness group who are hoping to offer a turkey dinner to homeless people on Christmas night. The group will be setting up a table outside the GPO on O’Connell Street from about 6pm and every plate of food counts.

Over in Galway on Christmas morning, the local branch of Down Syndrome Ireland is organising a Fun Swim at Blackrock, Salthill at 11am. To register visit here or email or telephone: 087-6448277. Sponsorship cards are available or you can donate on the day or online, here.

In Cork, you can support Cork Penny Dinners which aims to ensure that everyone who calls to the centre gets a hot nourishing midday meal. As well as donating financially you can donate non-perishable food.

The Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin provides breakfast, lunch and dinner daily to people in need and also provides a medical service, chiropody clinic, optical service and advice and information clinics. The centre also offers shower facilities and fresh underwear and clean clothes, so is always in need of financial support.

The Milford Care Centre in Limerick is a voluntary not-for-profit organisation providing specialist palliative care and Older Persons Services in the Mid West. This Christmas they’re selling Christmas cards to raise funds as well as hosting their annual Light Up A Memory Tree event on December 13 where people sponsor a light on Milford’s tree as a unique gift for a loved one. Further details are here.

Cairdeas Homeless Action is a volunteer group that offers food, clothing and bedding to homeless people in Dublin. More information here or you can contact 085-8241081.



Bumbleance caters for the sick children of Ireland from rural and urban areas who have long-term illnesses or who are seriously disabled, providing unique child-centred professional ambulance transport services to and from principal centres of care. It was established, as part of the Bee for Battens organisation, by parents Tony and Mary Heffernan who lost both of their children, Liam and Saoirse, to Batten Disease. There are loads of ways to donate here.

You can support Aoibheann’s Pink Tie – a group established by father Jimmy Norman after his daughter passed away from cancer just days before her eighth birthday – supporting families and children battling childhood cancer, by purchasing any of their merchandise here, or making an online donation here.

The Rainbow Junior Arch Club is a Saturday social club for children with special needs based in Glasnevin in Dublin. You can find out more information here and donate here.

Ireland’s Children’s Hospice, LauraLynn, provides hospice services for children with life-limiting conditions and residential care for young adults with disabilities. There are loads of ways to help listed here or you can donate directly.

You can donate to Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland to help fund the provision of highly trained assistance dogs to children with autism and their families; also the ISPCC a children’s charity advocating for children and which runs a 24-hour Childline listening service always requires additional funding. And the Jack and Jill Foundation is a fantastic organisation that provides direct funding to families of children with brain damage, up to the age of four, and also provides end of life care to all children up to the age of four. They have a plethora of fundraising events on over Christmas or you can donate directly here.

Spun Out is Ireland’s youth information website created by young people for young people providing information to around 80,000 active readers each month, on a range of different topics including education, employment and health. You can support these efforts here. BeLonG To is the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) young people, aged between 14 and 23 and you can donate and help change lives here.

Another idea to make a child’s Christmas a little brighter this year is to donate toys to your local children’s hospital. Sadly many kids have to remain in hospital over the festive period so some new toys would really help to cheer them up. Contact your local hospital to check out the protocol.

Ok, we’re in the home stretch now, keep reading you’re nearly there.



Next up are the individuals who are hosting charity events themselves around the country.

Aaron Patrick Cowming is launching a charity calendar on Sunday, December 6 between 4pm and 8pm in the Dungarvan Soccer Club. Aaron is hoping to raise €10,000 in aid of Mental Health Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association and Dungarvan Community Hospital. The calendar isn’t available online but you can message the FB page to find out how to get your hands on one.

On Christmas Day Linda Corcoran will be taking the plunge by doing a Christmas Swim in aid of A Little Lifetime Foundation, a support group for families bereaved by stillbirth or neonatal death. This charity is very important to Linda having offered her and her husband huge support in dealing with the loss of their beautiful daughter, Emma Rose. A Little Lifetime is a non-profit organisation and relies entirely on donations so every single penny helps. You can sponsor Linda here.

There is a Christmas Craft Fair planned for December 6, from noon, in St Mark’s GAA Club Tallaght, to raise funds for Hollies Hopes. Hollie Hope O’Keane was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and attends the First Step Therapy Centre in Limerick for intensive therapy to help her walk. Through great determination and hard work she is making great progress but she needs to continue to attend the therapy and this costs upwards of €10,000 a year. Admission to the Craft Fair is free but there is a small charge to see Santa and do some crafts, with all the proceeds going to Hollies Hopes. If you have a couple of hours to spare, it would make a great family day out.

If you’re looking to ring in the New Year in style you could attend the Ava Fallon New Year’s Dinner Dance on December 31 at the Oakwood Arms Hotel in Shannon, in aid of the Ava’s Waves fund. Tickets are €50 and the night includes a drinks reception, a delicious dinner followed by music from ‘Sticky Fingers’. Ava was diagnosed at 20 months old with an inoperable brain tumour and hydrocephalus, a diagnosis which has had an impact on all areas of her development. Her family wants to raise funds for her so that she can receive additional supports in the form of therapy and equipment that will enhance her life. They also hope to send her to Brain Waves in England, a clinic that works with families on individual based therapy and exercise programmes.



Finally then, here are some details of animal charities around the country that you might like to support. Around this time of year donations to animal charities typically tend to die off but then unfortunately after Christmas there is usually an upsurge in the number of abandoned pets being left into centres. Most of these groups receive no Government funding and rely entirely on donations from the public as well as practical support such as food and bedding.

In Galway you can support the Galway SPCA. Contact Emma at the dog sanctuary on 087-2765690 and visit their Facebook page here. You can donate €4 by texting PACO to 50300.

The Clare Greyhound Project is contactable through their FB page here or by contacting Eileen on 087-2955682 or you can donate via PayPal to

In Meath you can contact Ramona and Chris of the Coolronan Dog Rescue by calling 086-3209842 or visiting their Facebook Page. You can also donate via PayPal, here.

Dogs Aid in Dublin is available on Facebook here or you can call Maggie on 087-2944310 or Brenda on 087-2784135 and you can also donate via iDonate here

In Laois you can support Cara Rescue Dogs. Further details on their Facebook Page, by calling 086-0594375 or you can donate via PayPal with You can also text Cara to 50300 to donate €4. If you have any bedding donations they can be left into Vet Care Portlaoise, or PetMania Portlaoise or PetMania in Tullamore.

The Irish Blue Cross is an animal charity assisting pet owners by offering low cost services such as vaccinations, check ups and surgeries to those who cannot afford private vet fees. It also runs a mobile clinic which provides more than 18,000 treatments a year around Dublin.

 If you’ve got this far, congratulations! You did it! That was a long read but hopefully it will give you some ideas for where to donate this Christmas. Remember as well that often practical support such as volunteering your time or warm clothing/bedding is just as important as financial donations.

If you prefer to donate by text, check out Like Charity, which features a list of hundreds of Irish charities who all accept text donations. It couldn’t be simpler to give a few bob, have a goo here.

Finally then – I mean it this time – it’s important to note that by rights the vast majority of these charities shouldn’t have to exist. These services and supports should be fully Government funded without any need for charitable donations. No individual or family should be left in limbo, or should have to rely on charity, when it comes to their basic needs and their basic rights. That’s worth bearing in mind in the run up to next year’s General Election. When the politicians come a-knocking for GE 2016, ask them where they stand on the provision of services such as those listed above and ask them what they intend to do about this abysmal and very obvious gap. Our Government can and must do more.

Toddler Life


Toddler Life

ALL the people.

So many people.

And they all go hand in hand, hand in hand through their  – toddler life.

I get up when I want except on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays when I get rudely awakened by The Beast shouting at me.

(Toddler Life)

I stumble into my slippers and dressing gown, wrestle a three-foot ninja downstairs, strap him into his high chair, prepare a precise breakfast for him – No Mama, on the GREEN plate, not the blue one – make a cup of tea and never get to drink it.

And I think about leaving the house. [Just leaving, walking out, never coming back. See yis, bitches.]

(Toddler Life)

Here's the tea I never get to drink

Here’s the tea I never get to drink

I’ll stop with the Blur reference, cos I’m not clever enough to come up with a toddler version of “John’s got brewers droop he gets intimidated” so I’ll park (life) that for now.

Still but, toddlers eh? Inspired by a conversation this morning with other ‘just give me the coffee quick’ Mams, here’s what life with a toddler is like:

  • I now spell at other adults, instead of speaking to them. “I’m thinking of going to the P L A Y G R O U N D later” cos if Mr Ears of a Bat inside there hears me he’ll immediately start putting on his shoes and asking ‘Are we going to the playground now’ on a loop for three hours. (Actually, I don’t think bats have ears? But you know what I mean, their hearing is good. Ah shut up.)
  • I have more plastic multicoloured plates, bowls and cutlery than I have actual plates and cutlery.
  • I no longer have a floor. It has been replaced by a sea of Lego. Floor no longer exists, only Lego. There is no world any more, only Lego. When the Rapture comes, nothing will be left behind, only Lego.
  • I have no privacy any more. My ‘nudie bum’ is a great source of amusement as are my sanitary towels – “Oh look what I found Mama! [brandishing aloft an Always Ultra Long in its bright purple packaging] A present!” He talks with great enthusiasm about ‘nudie Mama’ all the time. Loudly. In public. In TESCO. The butcher is familiar with my menstrual cycle. The poor bastard.
  • I’ve become a cupboard rustler when it comes to sweets and cakes. They’re no longer eaten in the comfort of my sitting room or at the kitchen table. Instead I stand, like a thief in the night, half inside the cupboard, cramming sugar into my mouth at lightening speed, so that The Beast doesn’t see me and demand some. Share? Fuck that shit.
  • My countertops are clear, not because I’m a domestic goddess, but because if anything is left out it’s immediately pulled down by an inquisitive Mr Grabby Hands with increasingly louder demands of ‘What you got there, Mama? What is THAT? What IS it Mama?’
  • I can’t relax until the post man has been. If I’m not quick enough, The Beast dives on it yelling ‘Look Mama, post! I OPEN IT!’ and immediately starts ripping open envelopes and wrecking the contents. My Clubcard vouchers were defiled a few months ago. I’m still not over it.
  • I find food in the most unlikely of places. I found some rice in my ear one time. IN my actual ear. And every night when I take off my bra a veritable tsunami of toddler snacks fall out. I thought my bra was getting too tight one time, only to discover The Beast had somehow shoved an entire cheese and spinach muffin down there.
  • I’m overly familiar with every single character in Thomas the Fucking Tank Engine. I loathe him and his smug little counterparts, but to The Beast, Thomas is a God. A God who must be obeyed at all times. There is no world, only Thomas. (And Lego. And Lego Thomas)
  • Poop. SO much poop. All the time with the poop. ‘I got a smelly bum Mama! [said with delight!] You change it now! It smells wotten!’ There is no world, only poop. [And Thomas. And Lego. And Lego Thomas]

Sing with me now:

It’s got nothing to do with CBeebies and RTE Junior, you know

(Toddler Life)

And it’s not about you bloggers, who go round and round and round

(Toddler Life)

Awwwwwlllll the people. So many people. And they all go hand in hand. Hand in hand through their …

Toddler life.

Threading: You’ll wish you were dead

I’ve never really been a beauty treatment type of person. I love a bit of make-up and skin care products but when it comes to treatment I’ve just never really bothered.

I’ve never had a wax or a massage, I don’t use fake tan, I’ve only ever had one facial and I’ve had a manicure about four times in my life.

But over the last while on social media and even just among my friends in real life there’s been a lot of talk about eyebrows. First thin eyebrows were in, then fuller ones, people pluck them, wax them, thread them. But I’ve only ever had my eyebrows ‘done’ once before, for my wedding four years ago.

Since then, nothing. I’ve just left them to their own devices. But all this eyebrow talk got me looking at mine more critically and wondering if getting them shaped would be really so bad.

I had a childfree day on Sunday and have been saving for the past few months for a winter coat, so I decided while I was out shopping that I’d get my eyebrows done while I was there.

I made an appointment to have them threaded at The Body Shop after hearing great things about the technique, the main selling point (for me) being that it was cheap and really really fast.

Before the appointment I asked a few friends if it hurt getting them done and most people said it was a bit sore and ouchy but nothing to write home about.

They lied.

I went in to the shop at my appointment time and was met by a smiling therapist who almost immediately sat me down in the chair, with a sympathetic glance. I think she knew she had a runner on her hands.

Nervously I lay back, enjoying the cooling gel she rubbed on before hand thinking ‘Now this isn’t so bad at …’




What the fuck is she … this is …sweet baby Jesus save me …


Midway through the torture a woman came into the shop and spoke to the therapist wondering about appointment times.

I tried to warn her, I really did, but all that came out was an anguished keening noise – I was helpless to save her.

If I had thought getting the top of my eyebrows done was bad, I had felt nothing yet. She started on the hairs under my eyebrow, closest to my eyelid and honestly, I wished for the sweet release of death.

Snatches of childhood prayers came back to me as I mumbled the Our Father incoherently, digging my nails into my palm.

“Are you ok?” the therapist asked gently, patting me reassuringly on the shoulder, before moving on to my left eye.

I wanted to leap up and leave but I couldn’t go around with half my face done so I bravely gritted my teeth and answered her: “Mmdmmmgmggllllll” It was the most I could manage.

She moved her gentle hands across my face and it started again.


For the love of all that is HOLY!


Sweating now, I dug deep into my reserves for the home stretch knowing that it couldn’t go on much longer.


And just like that, she was done. She wiped soothing cooling gel across my eyebrows to calm the pain and sat me up so I could see for myself.

“Oh!” I exclaimed “They’re lovely! Oh!”

She must be used to this reaction because she gave another gentle smile and nodded beatifically.

They were lovely. Neat, arched, shaped, nothing too mad looking. And they made my eyes look a little more open and bright – though that could have been the tears, too.

I felt like I had been in that chair for several decades, but the reality is that my appointment took literally six minutes from start to finish and that included paying.

So overall, threading hurts like a motherfucker, you’ll wish you were dead while it’s happening but it’s really fast, it’s cheap and the results are great.

Here’s a Before and After pic for you, for comparison. It’s nothing dramatic, but they look nice and tidy and shaped.

Eyebrows Before

Eyebrows Before

Eyebrows After

Eyebrows After


The boy on the beach

A PICTURE surfaced yesterday of a little boy washed up on a beach in Turkey after the boat he was travelling in with his family capsized.

His name was Aylan Kurdi and he was three years old. His family is Syrian and they were fleeing the war in Syria, a conflict which has already claimed millions of lives.

I’m not going to post that picture here – he was somebody’s little boy and it’s not my place to use his image. Instead I’m going to post a picture of another little boy on a beach.

My boy.

Beach blog Sean 1Beach blog Sean 2









Holiday blog S on beach

This is Seán. He’s almost the same age as Aylan and he associates beaches with sandcastles and seashells, with paddling and splashing.

By accident of birth and geography, Seán lives a happy, safe, sunny life. A beach isn’t a place of horror to him. It shouldn’t be a place of horror for anybody. Children shouldn’t be washing up on beaches, they should be playing on them.

I don’t have any of the answers. I don’t know the ins and outs of what’s happening in Syria or other devastated parts of the world. I don’t know the politics or the complexities or the details of treaties and regulations. I’m not a politician or an economist or a world leader. I don’t know how we’re going to solve all of this. I don’t know very much at all.

All I know is that when I saw that heart stopping picture of tiny Aylan, I saw my boy reflected in him. And I almost couldn’t bear it.

There are however some things I can do to help those in need; some practical things that might help to ease their suffering. And if you can, these are things you can do too.

I donated here, a nationwide campaign to get some supplies to refugees at Calais, with surplus being sent to other border countries such as Hungary.

There are local Facebook pages associated with this campaign for Dublin, Cork, Clare and Armagh.

I signed this, asking Enda Kenny to increase the number of refugees Ireland can take in.

Other organisations such as UNICEF and the Red Cross are also asking for donations to help refugees coming into Europe and also those still in Syria.

It’s not much, but it’s something and it might make a difference. Please give what you can.

Callais linky badge

Members of The Irish Parenting Bloggers network have come together in a blog-hop to share their thoughts on the current crisis and to let people know what they can do to help. Click on the blue button below to read our posts and please feel free to spread the word by sharing on social media platforms using the hashtag #ReadFeelAct.

Please share our posts with the hashtag #ReadFeelAct and do whatever you can to help.
As well as writing about this issue, members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers network have also organised a virtual coffee (or tea!) morning for next Friday, September 11, to raise funds for the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign. Details of the event are here. It’s a public event so you don’t have to be on Facebook to take part. And because it’s virtual you don’t even have to leave your couch. Please click the link, read more and take part.


What time is it Mister Wolf?

MOST people set an alarm to get themselves up in the morning – in this house we’re starting a new experiment this week where we’re setting an alarm to remind ourselves to go to bed.

We’re a disaster when it comes to going to sleep, gobshites, the pair of us.

I can’t even blame The Beast – for whatever reason the Gods of Sleep smiled upon us and he’s a good sleeper, goes down handy enough for the night and sleeps through. So it’s not him keeping me awake or depriving me of my precious zzz-eds.

It’s me. And Yer Man. And Infomercials.

While The Beast is a good sleeper, he’s doesn’t go down until late (around 9pm/9.30pm) though he sleeps then until 8.30am the next morning. But by the time we get him down, half the night is gone and really, we should be packing up for bed ourselves.

But we don’t. After he goes up we take a bit of ‘me time’ – I’ll do a bit of blogging and social media, Yer Man will play a bit of Championship Manager and then before we know it, it’s nearly midnight and we haven’t said a word to each other all night.

So we’ll plop onto the sofa for a chat and end up staying up even later, flicking through the channels trying to find something to watch even for half an hour.

Enter Infomercials.

It’s become a bit of an obsession at this stage. I’m actually getting a bit afraid at how much we enjoy them and naturally, the shite-er the product, the more we like them.

There’s nothing we like more than slagging the arse off a product, mocking anyone who’d even consider buying one.

Yer Man’s current object of scorn is the Nutribullet – you can’t turn on the telly after midnight without seeing an ad for this magic blender yoke that claims to make vegetable water taste nice.

Alarm blog nutribullet

“What’s he putting in there now? Beetroot? With cabbage? Ah for fuck’s sake that’s vile,” he’ll gasp, eyes bulging, glued to the telly. “That’s a pile o’ piss so it is.”

“Isn’t it,” he’ll demand suddenly turning to me wild eyed, “Isn’t it a pile o’ piss?”

And I’ll have to agree and repeat “pile o’ piss” soothingly until he shuts up. (Though actually, secretly, I wouldn’t mind a Nutribullet.)

Another favourite is the garden hose that starts off really small but expands as you fill it. Phallic-tastic!

And don’t start me on the mineral make up that covers birthmarks and turns ordinary women into supermodels, I have to get me some of THAT. Or the steam mop that cleans everything from your oven hob to your floors to your fanny (not really). I’m obsessed with it. Obsessed.

We’ll reluctantly head to bed then in the wee hours aghast at how, yet again, we’ve let the time run away from us. It wasn’t so bad in the summer as Yer Man was off but now that it’s term time again, and he’s back to working his three jobs, something has to change.

So from tonight we’re pulling The Beast’s bedtime back slightly (even just 15 minutes) and I’m setting a first alarm for 11pm to remind us it’s time to turn off the laptops and actually have a chat and watch some TV on the couch; then a second alarm for 40 minutes later to tell us to go to bed.

http://go to sleep gif

The aim is to be in bed asleep by midnight every night during the week. That might sound really late to some of you but for us it’ll afford Yer Man 7.5 hours sleep and me 8.5 hours every night and hopefully we’ll see some positive benefits.

Operation Put Down The Infomercials And Go The Fuck To Sleep (OPDTIAGTFTS) begins tonight. We’ll see how long it lasts.

The kid is alright

This kid is alright

THE Beast has taken to smacking his lips and saying ‘Ahhh, that’s Bass’ whenever he takes a sip of his drink, in an uncanny imitation of our former Taoiseach.

It’s very unsettling.

He also says cheerfully ‘Down the hatch!’ and ‘Eat up everybody!’ whenever he sees anybody eating or drinking anything, even when we’re out in public.

If you’ve ever been in a restaurant and a small blonde boy has enthusiastically cheered you on throughout your meal, that was us, and I apologise.

I’m not really sure where he picked up these phrases, most probably parroting us or his grandparents or cousins, but I probably should be worried that he’s already an advertiser’s dream.

I worry a lot actually. Mainly about my own prowess as a mother. And hearing him rattle off advertising slogans for beer from the 80s doesn’t really help my confidence.

When he was a tiny baby and I was ill with post natal depression, I was forced to put myself first, to get myself well so that I could care for him. So beyond feeding, changing and loving him, I didn’t worry about a whole lot else. And I didn’t DO a whole lot else with him either.

Now though, it’s different. I’ve recovered (for now) from PND, I am well again and I feel strong in that sense – but now I have to actually mother him.

The responsibility has moved on from quite literally keeping him alive, to actually nurturing him. To actually teaching him things. To actually knowing what the fuck I’m doing.

And I often fear that I don’t.

He was ill recently, with a fever that rocketed to 40.9 degrees (105F) and in my utter panic I physically looked over my shoulder for a more adulty adult to help me.

An abstract part of my brain thought ‘God, poor little thing, his mother is going to have to do something about that temperature’ before realising with a start that I was his mother and it was I who was going to have to do something about it.

So I did. With shaking hands I administered Calpol, took off both our t-shirts so he could cuddle next to me skin-to-skin to help regulate his temperature and for comfort, and then laid him down to rest in his cool bedroom, sitting up holding his hand for the rest of the night.

The temperature dropped after a few hours and he slept and within a few days was right as rain again. I even managed to get him to the doctor and to get a urine sample out of him (The Beast, not the doctor, that’d be just plain weird). And ridiculous as it sounds I was proud of myself for managing to mind him while he was ill, something every mother in the world does every day, probably without thinking about it.

Having a baby is a huge responsibility and it starts the moment the baby enters the world; but for me, the responsibility hadn’t really bothered me up until this point when The Beast has started to turn from a helpless baby into a little person, a person I am responsible for, that I have to guide through life.

I even spoke to my GP about it, a few months ago, that while I felt recovered from the PND and ready to move on with my life that I still didn’t feel like a good mother.

He looked at me kindly from over his spectacles and told me my problem was simply confidence, that he suspected I was a “very good mother indeed” but that lack of confidence can hold anybody back.

He spoke to me then about possible counselling to come to terms with my new life now as a mother and while I don’t feel like I need that quite yet, I do have that in my back pocket for future reference.

For now, instead, I’ve been slowly trying to build my own confidence by focusing on the things that I’m doing right with my son.

Ok, so he winks and spouts 80s advertising slogans like a politician in training, watches too much TV, is stubborn as a mule and has an unhealthy obsession with Milkyway chocolate stars, but he can also count to ten, ream off his colours, name any animal in a farmyard and a fair few in the Zoo too.

I did that.

He knows all the words to the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song, can name all the trains and their associated numbers, and can recite most of his Thomas books off by heart. He says please and thank you and excuse me when he burps.

I did that.

He adores hopscotch, the slide, chalk drawing, stickers, examining leaves in the woods, collecting sticks by the stream and feeding the ducks and he’s never happier than when he’s digging in mud making up elaborate games for his toys.

I did that.

He’s happy and healthy and loved and smart and funny and crazy and full of chat and goes to bed each night knowing that he is the light of our lives.

I did that.

At least, I did some of that. I suppose that’s all any of us can do, isn’t it, keep moving forward, keep trying.

And for now anyway, the kid is alright.

We’re going to the Zoo, you can come too…


IS there anything better than a birthday party?

Well, perhaps a triple birthday party. For adorable baby elephants. That would probably trump your common or garden birthday party.

Dublin Zoo in association with the Natural Confectionery Company is hosting a weekend of celebrations this weekend (August 22 & 23) to mark the first birthday of Asian elephant calves Kavi, Ashoka and Samiya.

We were invited along this morning before the Zoo opened to get a sneak peek at the elephant family while they had their breakfast and their morning shower.


Following breakfast and some yummy jellies (I’m not going to lie, I scoffed the lot before the child could even blink) we set off for the Kaziranga Forest Trail to watch the adorable baby elephants while they started their day.



Zookeeper Gerry Creighton introduced us to the whole family before turning on the giant hose that washes and cools the elephants as well as giving them a much-needed drink.

After we had our fill of the elephants we set off around the rest of the Zoo where the activities for the rest of the day were just starting up. There was a live DJ, arts and crafts, face painting and giant board games like Jenga, Connect Four and Lego. The Beast was more interested in the animals and various playgrounds so we didn’t linger in these areas for too long, but the children taking part certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.


The birthday festivities continue tomorrow, Sunday, and they’re well worth a visit. Visit Dublin Zoo for more info.










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