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.
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.
WE had The Beast’s Christening at the weekend. A bit late, I know, he was almost old enough to conduct the ceremony himself, but sure that’s just how it worked out.
Anyway, when we were planning the day and going through the guest list we realised we’d have a clatter of kids at it and felt the cold clutch of fear around our hearts when we thought about entertaining them for a whole afternoon in a pub.
It’s also no fun being a kid and being forced to sit quietly while the adults enjoy themselves so we decided we’d put on a bit of a show for our younger guests.
Enter Murf the Magician.
Murf is a professional full-time close up magician who also caters for adult parties and events. He performs a mix of card tricks and conjuring tricks, and engages the kids with some comedy along the way.
He was already set up when we arrived at our venue and quickly got the show under way, assuring the children that they could be as involved as they liked. If they wanted to help out with the tricks, they could, if they wanted to just sit and watch, that was ok too.
There were card tricks and wand tricks, cards that appeared in a puff of smoke, play rabbits that changed colour before our eyes amid screams of laughter and excitement.
There was a can of Coke that was emptied into a glass and then magically (seriously) refilled before our very eyes. I’m still trying to work out how he did that one and lots of other tricks too that the kids were able to get involved in, too many to mention.
I won’t give away too much but after the grand finale one of my nieces turned to me with eyes like saucers and ended her sentence with ‘and then the rabbit just appeared!’
Overall we were so impressed with Murf the Magician. He was professional and friendly and only needed to be told each child’s name once before remembering them for the rest of the show, never once mixing them up.
The children were enthralled, absolutely enthralled by him, and joined in enthusiastically. The sleight of hand stuff was just amazing, very impressive.
We give him a bit fat ten out of ten and absolutely would recommend him to a friend.
***Disclosure. I live close to Murf the Magician and know him in real life. However, I was not obliged to write this review nor was I paid or compensated for it. As always, with any review on this blog, all opinions are honest and my own.
IT’S Yer Man’s birthday this week.
I got him some CDs he was after and a few bits of shite from The Beast (socks) and that’s about it.
I know I should be making something home-made as well, something from the child, with his hand print on it or some poem that I lovingly made up myself but the truth of the matter is, that’s not going to happen.
I’m all out of ideas for hand-made gifts. The Beast is just two years old and already I’m out of ideas. Not only that, I’m out of fucks to give as well.
Bitch Wife has nothing on me.
But seriously, Yer Man and myself have been together for nine years. That’s nine years of birthdays (his and mine) nine years of Christmases. Nine years of anniversaries, of Valentine’s Days.
Then add in The Beast on top of that. Two years of HIS birthday. Of Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. I’m done.
This house is covered in fingerprint pictures and collages of hearts. There are hand prints and foot prints galore. We’ve made butterflies (badly) out of toilet roll holders. We’ve glued, painted, stuck, glittered and framed. We even have a Memory Jar for Christ sake.
Neither Yer Man or I are particularly crafty, so personally I feel we’ve done well to get this far, it’s a wonder there’s anything home-made in this house at all.
I could go on Pinterest I suppose and see what other people are making for their loved ones. Vast elaborate projects that require a kiln and years of patience, but like I said, my field of fucks to give is fairly barren right about now.
Sometimes I’d love to be one of those people who can pull an idea out of thin air and produce something beautiful and meaningful in seconds. Other times I’m glad to just be able to walk into a shop and pick up something already fully formed. Don’t get me wrong, I love presents and I love giving presents too. Nothing gives me more pleasure than wandering around town buying something nice for others, it’s just the making it myself thing that I have issues with.
While something homemade is obviously lovely and thoughtful, not to mention mercifully cheap, the agony that comes with trying to decide what to make and then pull it off with a reluctant toddler in tow makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a glue gun.
I think I’ve reached the point in my relationship with my husband where I can say cheerfully ‘Happy Birthday! I didn’t bother making you anything. Here’s a CD I bought at the last minute yesterday’ and he’ll be happy enough with that.
Much as he hands over a voucher for the local shopping centre to me on MY birthday and says winningly ‘Happy Birthday! I have no idea what clothes or other shite you’d like, so go and buy yourself something!’
As couples go, I think we’re fairly well matched. So it’s CDs and socks with other bits of tat thrown in for good measure from here on in.
The Arts and Crafts module of our relationship is over. And thanks be to Jaysis for that.
IT’S the 27th of May and I’ve had the heating on for several hours today. I know Ireland isn’t known for its glorious sunshine but it’s like winter out there, it’s gone beyond a joke at this stage.
Watching The Beast banging his head off the back door this afternoon while dolefully repeating ‘Is still raining Mama, is still raining’ I decided I had better do something with him, so we broke out the baking gear.
As you know, I’m not a baker. I don’t weigh anything, I can’t follow a recipe to save my life and things usually end up like, well, this:
But, I have one ace up my sleeve, one recipe that never fails me, that always turns out lovely, my super dooper, healthy but delicious, cheesy, tasty Baby Led Weaning Cheese and Spinach Muffins.
Baby Led Weaning is a method of weaning distinct from the traditional style, where you wait until baby is 26 weeks to start, then skip entirely the puree/spoonfeeding part of it, and go straight to finger foods. Baby eats what you eat, right from the start. No purees, no blending, no mashing, no food processors, no ice-cube trays of food, no watching your dinner go cold as you feed the little one. You just plonk dinner down on the tray in front of them in the high char, and off they go themselves. It’s a method that worked extraordinarily well for us, in fact both Yer Man and I agree that it is the best parenting decision we’ve made so far. There’s a book that goes along with the method, which also includes some recipes that are suitable for babies and toddlers along with the rest of the family.
Enter the cheese and spinach muffins.
Containing no sugar or added salt, these muffins are packed full of iron and calcium and are a tasty, healthy treat, perfect for little hands to feed themselves. And, if we’re being honest, perfect for Mammy to stuff into her gob while making orgasm noises.
They’re that good.
Well, I like them anyway. Mainly because every time I make them they turn out right. I’ve yet to fuck them up and for me, that’s saying something. Also because you can make them in just a bowl with a spoon, you don’t need a blender or a food processor so there’s less washing up.
So this afternoon I decided ‘cheesy buns’ as The Beast calls them were the only way to go.
What you’ll need:
Spices – the original recipe calls for cayenne pepper but I found that too hot and overpowering, so I use a splash of paprika and a sploosh of chilli powder instead, along with some cracked black pepper. You can add in any spices you like, but these are the ones that generally work best.
Splash of milk
Spinach – I use the frozen stuff, two or three little cubes of it, microwaved and the excess water squeezed out.
Grated cheese. Any kind you like, though generally cheddar works best.
A willing helper.
You’ll notice I haven’t included any quantities above. This is because I don’t really weigh anything, I just kinda throw stuff into the bowl? It’s probably about 150/200g of flour, then however much spice you like and a couple of good handfuls of cheese? You’ll work it out yourself, trust me!
Microwave the spinach, couple of cubes in a bowl with a splash of water, for about two mins. Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.
Put the flour and baking powder in a bowl, then add your spices. Add in an egg and a splash of milk and mix thoroughly.
Add in your spinach and your cheese and mix thoroughly.
Voila! The mixture is now ready. That’s right, ready already, it’s pretty much just mixing.
Put a dessert spoon of mixture into a paper case and repeat. (If you have it, spray one spray of FryLight into each paper case to prevent the muffins sticking, or brush with a little melted butter if you have it.) I get about 12 muffins out of this. I have tried putting the mixture into a loaf tin to make cheesy bread kind of thing? But it wasn’t the same, the mixture tends to work better in individual cases.
Stick into the oven for about 12-15 minutes at about 200 degrees C. They come out warm and fluffy and cheesy.
The only thing with these muffins is that generally they’re only good for about 24 hours, 48 at a push, even in an airtight tin. They’re best really really fresh. So don’t make an enormous batch if you’re not going to eat them fairly sharpish. They do however freeze brilliantly. Just pop them in a freezer bag and then when you want one defrost in the microwave for a minute or two or leave on the counter in the morning, to eat at lunchtime.
Another great thing about this recipe is that little hands can help – shaking in the spices, mixing the flour, adding in the handfuls of cheese, it’s easy enough that babies can really get involved.
And just as a recap, here’s The Beast with a list of the ingredients you’ll need:
So there you have it, cheesy buns for a miserable, grey Irish summer day. Enjoy!