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

15 from ’15 – a linky Review of the Year

MANY moons ago when I worked in journalism the end of the year would roll around and with it the obligatory Review of the Year pages in the paper.

God, I hated them with a passion. I worked primarily for local newspapers and trade magazines so my reviews consisted mainly of headlines like ‘Council sells land’ and ‘Man saves cat’. Really. It was painstaking, tedious work and by the end of it you wished simply for the sweet release of death.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in papers but each year around this time I raise a glass for all those journos still tied to their desks trawling through back issues of their paper trying to find something interesting that happened in June. I always swore I’d never write another Review of the Year as long as I lived, but then Sadhbh from Where Wishes Come From came up with a fun linky ’15 from ’15’ where you look back at 15 great/funny/thoughtful/whatever things that happened during the past year on your blog and I thought why not? Plus, I’m a big ol’ narcissist so any excuse to talk about myself and I’m in like Flynn. SO without further ado here are my 15 from 15.

1. Most Popular Blog Post: This year’s most popular post was from April and it was a letter I wrote to The Beast on the eve of his second birthday, detailing how I had taken my last antidepressant tablet and finally knocked post natal depression on the head. It was a hard post to write, I shared some personal stuff, but it was celebratory as well. I’m glad I wrote it and I’m really glad it was my most popular post, mainly for this reason: whenever I write about PND or anxiety I get dozens and dozens and dozens of comments, emails, PMs, DMs, the works from women all over Ireland saying ‘me too’. Me too, me too, me too. Mental health is still, despite excellent strides over the past few years, something that is seen as taboo, something that isn’t talked about or is talked about in hushed tones. And in particular post natal depression is something that is often brushed under the carpet, not talked about or seen as something to be ashamed of. You have this beautiful new baby, what have you to be depressed about? I love that every time I open up about having suffered from depression, others speak up too. I love that reading about other people’s experiences of depression, helped ME to speak up. I love being part of this conversation and I hope in 2016 that conversation continues and grows.

2. Favourite Post: My favourite post this year was this one I wrote about having my eyebrows threaded for the first time. Mainly, I love the headline!

3. Favourite Photo: I’ll admit it. I’m one of those mothers. I take endless pictures of my kid. And of myself too. I’m the selfie queen. (Lissen, I told you at the start of this I was a big ol’ narcissist.) So this is a hard one as I’ve roughly eleventy billion favourite photos, but if I had to choose one, I’d pick this, of Seán and I feeding a sheep on our holidays.

15 from 15 fave pic

4. Best Adventure: I think this year it’d have to be parenting a toddler as opposed to a baby. The bottles are gone, the nightfeeds are gone, the naps are gone, we’re having full blown conversations. It’s beautiful and terrifying all at the same time!

Favourite swearword: I’ll level with you. In the original this was supposed to be ‘Favourite Craft’ but I’m not crafty, unless you mean in the ‘like a fox’ sense so I went with swearwords instead. DON’T QUESTION ME! Anyway, my favourite swearword is geebag. It’s so versatile, it can be both negative – ‘You’re only an oul geebag’ – or positive – ‘Ah howaya geebag!’ and it’s quintessentially Dublin.

6. Most Common Theme: Yeah, here’s where the ol’ narcissism comes in again. This is very much a personal blog so the vast majority of the posts here have been about me and/or my son. Occasionally my husband gets unfairly slagged off but mainly ‘me’ and ‘parenting’ have been the themes this year. And will probably be the themes for 2016 as well. Soz!

7. Favourite Comment(s): This is a really tough one, I treasure all of the comments I get here, I really do, they’re always so supportive and positive and I love that when I mess up and blog about it, I get loads of people commenting saying they have done the same thing and they relate. I love that. My top commenter this year was Sharon from Behind Green Eyes who is a fantastic, hilarious, sharp-as-a-whip blogger and if you’re not following her blog, then rectify that immediately.

8. Favourite Celebration: The Malteasers one. Surely that’s everyone’s favourite?

15 from 15 celebrations

9. My Best Move: It’s not a physical move, not even a new job or anything like that, more a shift in my mindset. I’ve become, moreso in recent months, a big advocate of the ‘Good for her, not for me’ philosophy. Simply, I’m trying to live my life as best I can and leaving others to worry about their own lives. It means less judgement, less stress, less worry and I feel like a better person for it. I really hope to continue in this mindset during 2016, cos really, to quote the great Danny Glover – I’m too old for this shit. Sure, I still get annoyed by things, people can still be gobshites, but the vast majority of it is not my concern, so I’m just going to worry about myself and my own little family.

10. Favourite Freebie: Believe it or not, I don’t get a huge amount of freebies from blogging. (And those that do get them work damn hard for them, by the way.) One gorgeous experience I was offered gratis this year though was an invitation to the Elephant’s Birthday Party in Dublin Zoo where myself, Yer Man and the Beast went off to the Zoo with some other lovely bloggers to have a private viewing of the elephant family having breakfast before the Zoo opened to the public. It was lovely, a beautiful family day out and we just adored it.

DSCF2141

11. Best Blog Moment: I’m going to cheat here and put down two ‘best’ moments. The first was being a finalist in the inaugural Irish Parenting Bloggers (IPB) Blog Awards in the Entertainment category. I was SO chuffed to have been nominated and then voted a finalist, by this great group of bloggers. I didn’t win on the night but that didn’t matter, it was so lovely to have been a finalist.

My second favourite moment then was being part of the Virtual Coffee Morning and blog march established by a group of bloggers from the IPB in aid of the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign. A group of us got together and each wrote a blog post about the mounting refugee crisis in Europe, each of us touched and saddened by the impossible situations these families found themselves in. We then decided to try to raise a bit of money for those in need and set up a Virtual Coffee Morning, on Facebook, where people could have a cuppa in their own homes and then make a donation. The Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign was a national effort, bringing food and supplies to the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp at Calais in France and our coffee morning raised about €4.5k for this great cause. I was so proud to be involved with it and so proud of everyone who took part. My hands were shaking all day watching the money come in, knowing just how much it would mean to those stranded in Calais.

12. Worst Blog Moment: I don’t think I had one! I was disappointed alright not to make even the long list for this year’s Blog Awards Ireland but it wasn’t the end of the world. But other than that, nothing really upset me this year. I suppose you could say I had a few ‘dry’ spells this year where I couldn’t blog/had nothing to blog about so that was a bit of a pain, but nothing really bad.

13. Favourite Title: I suppose it’d have to be Holy Cheesy Orgasm Noises Muffins, Batman. It’s quite a boring post about cheese and spinach muffins (could I BE more hipster?) but the title makes up for it!

14. Favourite Blog-Series: I didn’t start any myself but I loved taking part in Bumbles of Rice’s Barefaced Beauty linky and her Barefaced dinners linky too.

15. What My Blog Did For Me In 2015: Mainly it kept me sane. It gave me a place to write, to vent, to rant and to enjoy myself. It brought me loads of laughs and it’s a little space on the internet just for me. No rules, only those I make for myself, no deadlines, no regulations, no stress, just fun. And I love it.

So that’s it, that was my ’15 from ’15’. Thanks as ever for reading. Thank you for all the likes, comments, shares and love this year, it means a lot. You guys rock!

If you’d like to read more ’15 from ’15’ articles click on the badge below which will bring you to our host’s blog. Scroll down to the end to the little blue ‘frog’ icon and you’ll be able to click in and read to your heart’s content. Happy New Year!

Linky-Badge-2015

Some days I do nothing

I’M a stay at home mother and some days I do nothing.

I almost feel like I should have started that by ‘confessing’ that some days I do nothing. It’s a cardinal sin to admit that sometimes when you’re at home all day with a kid, you do nothing.

But it’s the truth. At least it is for me. At least some days.

Most days there’s something on the agenda – we meet friends, we go to the playground or the play centre or the park, we go shopping. There’s arts and crafts and baking and colouring and enormous rolls of paper covering the floor for finger painting. There’s reading and building blocks and counting and singing and kitchen discos and elaborate train tracks and always, always, there’s Lego.

But some days The Beast is fed and dressed and kept warm and safe and loved and that’s about it. No structured activities, no outings, nothing. His toys are laid out on the floor and he’s told to knock himself out.

The scene of the crime!

The scene of the crime!

 

I keep him alive. And some days, that’s enough. Some days that responsibility is enough. At it’s very core, I’m mothering. That’s my job. And often I feel like that job is overlooked, the very essence of what it is to be a parent is dismissed as ‘nothing’.

Of course it isn’t like that every day, it couldn’t be. We’d both be bored, for one. Kids need fresh air and friends for another. So most of the time it’s a busy, noisy, action packed life. But some days we do nothing. And I’m over feeling guilty about it.

I often feel like I need to justify what I’ve done with the day – I need a list of accomplishments, or else the day has been a failure. If I can’t list off a least three things that we’ve ‘done’ that day, then somehow I’m not a good parent.

I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m not going to feel like that. Because it’s bullshit.

It’s ok to do nothing some days. It’s ok to hunker down with some toys and spend a lazy afternoon together. It’s even ok to enjoy it.

So here’s to staying in your PJs, long days playing with toys, and relaxing on the sofa; here’s to *gasp* two movies in a row, late lunches and lying out on a blanket in the back garden.

Here’s to doing nothing. Because really, when you think about it, doing nothing some days can be everything.

I’m choosing fun

I LISTENED to the Irish Times Women’s Podcast this week.

Guest presented by Marian Keyes and featuring Irish Times columnists Aisling McDermott and Laura Kennedy, it was one I was really looking forward to.

They were on to talk about their newly released beauty book About Face – Aisling being the co-founder of Ireland’s first and wildly successful beauty blog Beaut.ie which Laura also wrote for – and how make-up can be a powerful tool when you’re dealing with the horrors life can throw at you.

During the interview Aisling spoke bravely about her battle with an aggressive and progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis, something she had never spoken publicly about before.

She talked about how she doesn’t ask ‘why me?’ anymore because the answer is always ‘why not me’. How she isn’t bitter because being bitter takes up precious energy and how she didn’t want MS to define her, how she ‘wanted fun in my life’.

I listened intently, physically rooted to the chair, realisation slowly dawning.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have Crohn’s Disease, a chronic, incurable autoimmune disease of the bowel. For many years I have railed against it. Fought it and hated it and asked over and over again, why me? I’ve cried and screamed and written here and elsewhere about it, tweeted it, Facebooked it and almost without realising it, I’ve become defined by it.

It’s true that I hate this disease, it has taken and taken from me and it causes nothing but pain and illness and sadness and I’m angry about it – but listening to Aisling I realised I don’t want it to define me any longer.

I want fun in my life, too.

Of course there are going to be bad days. It IS ok to not be ok. It’s ok to talk about it, it’s ok to feel hard done by and to cry hot ugly tears. But I don’t want this disease to be who I am anymore.

As I listened to these incredibly brave women talking, I felt a real shift in my thinking. I’m done being bitter. That’s not to say there won’t be hard days, there will, but as Aisling so pragmatically said ‘Life happens, doesn’t it?’

Life happens and I feel ready to accept that now.

And I’m choosing fun.

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!

 

INTERNATIONAL CHARITIES:

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.

 

NATIONAL:

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.


LOCAL:

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 info@voicesforgalway.org 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.

 

CHILDREN/YOUNG PEOPLE:

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.

 

PERSONAL/INDIVIDUAL

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.

 

FURRY FRIENDS:

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 claregreyhoundproject@gmail.com

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 caradogs@hotmail.com. 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 …’

AGHGHGHGHHGGHGHHGGHGHGHGH!

Fuck!

AGHGHHGHGGHGHGHGHHGHH!

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

AGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH!

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.

ARRGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHH!

For the love of all that is HOLY!

ARRRGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH!

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

AIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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.

 


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