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!
IT appears I have given birth to a Kardashian.
Leaving the house is no longer a simple exercise, something we can achieve in a few minutes by throwing a bag of rice cakes in a pocket and closing the door.
No, now we have piles of
shite stuff we have to bring with us. PILES of it. Allowing for every eventuality. The Beast does not travel light – eat your heart out Kim and Kanye – and at this stage I’m about one excursion away from full on curvature of the spine.
We went to a Christening at the weekend, which was scheduled for around The Beast’s lunchtime, so as well as nappies and spare clothes and the like, we also had to bring food with us.
And therein lies the start of the problem. I don’t know if it’s just my kid, but he does this thing where he’ll survive for a fortnight on air and the dirt on the wheels of the buggy, but the minute we go anywhere he develops a ferocious hunger that cannot be sated.
So we need to bring food. Piles and piles of food. Snacks for before lunch, lunch itself and then leftover snacks for after lunch. And then an extra lunchbox of food, just in case.
On Sunday I packed up a lunchbox with cheese and cold meats, crackers and fruit, rice cakes and breadsticks. And then a separate bag of rice cakes and cereal hoops to keep him occupied in the church. And yet another separate bag of snacks for that post lunch peckishness eventuality. We were bent double under the weight of food we had with us. Every pocket of my bag, every pocket of my clothes, of Yer Man’s clothes, every side pocket of the car was filled to the brim with food. And he ate every single bit of it. There wasn’t a crumb left. And in the car on the way home he started asking for his dinner.
This particular weekend, The Beast was also going to stay with his grandparents after the Christening so we had to pack an overnight bag for him – along with his favourite toys – as well as a day bag. That bag contained spare clothes, his sleeping bag, his jammies, spare soothers, the first aid bag with
Mama’s Pink Medicine Calpol (for use only in an emergency you understand, he doesn’t smack his lips when he sees it coming) and a pile of his toys.
Oh Jesus the toys.
The Beast is a funny little fella – he never formed an attachment to one particular toy or lovey that he has to have at all times. That’d be too easy. No, he formed a deep and passionate attachment to ALL of his toys. Every single one of them. ‘My fellas’ he calls them. His Buzz Lightyear and Woody toys. His Thomas the Tank Engine set of trains. His Boots and Dora. His Peppa Pig. His books. His diggers. His fellas. And he travels nowhere without all of them.
So we had to lug Buzz and Woody, his trains and his soft toys in the boot of the car, several other toys in another plastic bag and then his diggers, trains, books, stickers and crayons in my handbag. Just in case he needed them. We thought we might get away with telling him that some of the toys were in the car, and then sneakily leave them at home. But he’s wide to us at this stage – he insisted on inspecting the boot before we left.
“My fellas,” he said approvingly, patting my face in a benevolent fashion. “Good Mama.” I felt like I had dodged a bullet.
Finally packed up – including his buggy, coat, hat and scarf – we trundled off to the Christening, the car scraping the ground, so overloaded was it by The Beast’s essentials.
It was worth it in the end though – the snacks kept him quiet in the church while the important stuff was going on, the lunch kept him going while we got our own bite to eat, the toys amused him while we chatted with family members and he was so tired after all of it that he conked out on the way home. So in the end it was worth the four solid hours I put in packing it all up.
There are two ways this could go in the future – we could pare it right back and insist that one lunchbox, one toy and one nappy is more than enough for one small boy. Or we could upgrade our car.
To an artic.
On a separate note, last week I set up a Facebook Page for Beating Myself Into a Dress and have been overwhelmed with the reaction so far. So thank you to any of you who have ‘Liked’ the page, I really appreciate it. If any of you would like to follow me on FB, there’s a little ‘Follow’ box up on the right hand side of this page.
SO now that The Beast is two, I decided it was about time I
got off my hole found a couple of hours to bring him to a soft play centre.
I know. Seriously. I’m pretty much the worst mother in the world, I haven’t brought my kid to a soft playcentre yet. I genuinely believe he’s the only child in Ireland who hasn’t been to one.
We did try in his first year, but The Beast is a little timid and a little noise sensitive and he just really didn’t enjoy it the one other time we brought him, so that, coupled with my anxiety and PND over the last while meant we put it off.
Just for a few months. A few long months. A good few long months. Two years in fact.
Now that I’m better however I have no excuse and The Beast has really come out of his shell lately – “I go outside to play with my boys” he regularly informs me, grabbing his coat – so on Tuesday when I woke up to find it was pissing rain I decided today would be the day.
I threw lunch and a nappy into my bag and off we went. I won’t lie, my heart was in my mouth.
For some reason I had built this up to be a massive deal. I’d be there by myself, with The Beast. What if he had a tantrum and I couldn’t calm him down? What if he got sick? What if he slapped another child? What if he got stuck up the top of the big slide but I was too fat to fit into the equipment to rescue him? What if the Other Mothers looked at me? And, God forbid, what if the Other Mothers actually TALKED to me?
Shaking I handed over the moolah at the door and struggled with the gate keeping the
inmates children in, pushing the buggy into the abyss. We were in. Alone. In a playcentre.
Sweat dripping into my eyes I found a table to leave our gear at, took off The Beasts shoes and let him loose.
Jesus, but he adored it. He. Had. A. Ball.
I was a nervous wreck. I actually had to have a sit down for myself in the ball pit as I went a bit weak at the knees and then had to coerce the child into hauling me out (“Ughghhhh Mama too big …pullllllllll …. Mama too big … pulllllllll”) but it was really really great.
He played solidly for 90 minutes, in and out of the ball pit, up and down the slide, building blocks with other little ones and generally just running about. While I just sat there with a goofy insane grin on my face. I felt like I had climbed a mountain. It sounds like such a normal run-of-the-mill thing, but for us it was huge.
The Other Mothers did in fact look at me and indeed they talked to me too. But guess what? They didn’t bite. We exchanged pleasantries and it was good. Normal.
After playtime we had our lunch together (playcentre food has no calories, btw, like broken biscuits and food eaten standing up) and then it was time to go home. All in all it was the perfect playcentre experience. There was even a germ ridden green-snotted toddler there, hacking all over everyone, like something out of a storybook. Ah lads, it was brilliant.
The Beast was so wrecked that he didn’t complain when he had to get his shoes and coat back on and he slept for two hours that afternoon so there was really no downside to the day. (Apart from the cold he has now, courtesy of the be-germed one, but lookit, you can’t have it everyway.)
You know those inspirational quotes you see on Facebook, the Keep Calm and Carry On type of ones? Well, I hate those, really, twee badly written over sentimental shite – but my point is just this once I’m going to reference one:
I felt the fear and I did it anyway. And God it was good.
It’s your birthday this weekend and you’re going to be turning two years old. If you could stop growing now, that’d be great. You’re eating us out of house and home and bursting out of your clothes. It won’t be long until you’re heading off to college and then I’ll feel really old.
Anyway, your cousins are coming up for your party on Sunday and we have games and balloons and surprises but before all the madness starts, I wanted to give you your present.
I wanted to give you me.
Don’t worry, I have a noisy shiny toy for you as well – it’s Buzz and Woody! (Your Dad said they were too dear, but I forced him to buy them, so remember that when you’re deciding which one of us gets to go in the good home.)
Anyway, on top of that I’m also giving you back your Mam. You might not have realised it, but for a while there, I was missing.
When you were a few weeks old, we had an unwelcome house guest come to stay.
His name was Depression and He tried to steal me from you.
He slithered in, inconspicuous at first, and took up residence, really making Himself at home. He started slowly, telling me that I wasn’t a good mother. That I didn’t know what I was doing. The fucker.
He told me that you would be better off without me, that I should just pack my bags and go. Anywhere. Away from you. He told me to divorce your Dad.
He even told me that you didn’t love me and that you never would. Big smelly liar.
One night He told me that I could get rid of Him, and myself, if I just stood at the top of the stairs and simply … let go.
And then one afternoon he told me to put you safely into your Moses basket and then to go into the bathroom and swallow all the paracetamol in the medicine cabinet.
There was enough there to do the job. He had checked. That one scared me. I’m well used to dealing with fuckers and liars but standing in that bathroom, He scared me.
What He didn’t know though was that I lived with a superhero, one who was already on to Him. Yer Man might not wear a cape (or his underpants outside his trousers), but Seán, your Dad is a superhero.
He threw himself bodily between me and Depression – at times it was like he was ten feet tall. He comforted and reassured and hugged and talked and then he sat me into the car and drove me to the doctor.
It turns out your Dad knows lots of other superheroes too. The doctor – who was wonderful and who prescribed a course of antidepressants to help – was just the first.
There was also your Nana and Gaga who swooped in to look after you, day and night. There was Granny who cleaned the house until it sparkled and who forced me to bring you for a walk and to get some fresh air, even when I didn’t want to. (“Come on now, it’s not really raining anymore and they’ve downgraded the weather warning to an amber alert, be grand.”
There were my friends who were always there in person or on the phone to talk to, to tell me I was normal, that Depression was the problem, not me.
There were even strangers on the Internet who shared their stories, who listened, who told me that I couldn’t look after you until I looked after myself first.
Between all of them, they helped me to fight Him. Gradually he stopped taking over the whole house. Gradually He moved upstairs. Then into His own room. Then into the attic.
But He was still there and from time to time He’d reappear, grinning, to taunt me again. With that little swagger that said ‘I’m here now’.
I was determined to beat Him though so I just continued on day after day, never giving Him the satisfaction of crumbling, cushioned by the support around me. It took a long time, longer than I had expected, He really wrapped Himself around me, determined not to let go.
Two months ago however, quite suddenly, I just decided that I’d had enough of Him. Really, enough. It was time to show Depression the door. I needed a repeat prescription for my meds and in order to get it I had to see the doctor. I felt that by that stage I was almost using the medication as a crutch and that if I could get off it, I could show Depression who was boss.
I sat in the doctor’s office, you on my knee, and blurted it all out. How tired I was of giving Depression space in my head and my heart. How much stronger I felt, how I didn’t want to have to take meds for the rest of my life to feel normal.
The doctor agreed with me. Doc had met Depression before and knew Him of old and knew the only way to beat Him was to meet Him head on and to be strong.
So we agreed a plan whereby I’d wean off the antidepressant medication as I didn’t need it anymore. The doctor gave me some counselling information to have in my back pocket, should I need it, ensured the superheros were still available to help and then told me to go for it.
I lowered the dose for a month, weaning off the meds, and then went off it completely. I started to practice some mindfulness, where I would focus on the positive things (and there are so many, I mean, come on, peanut butter) and each day count my blessings. I felt good and Depression didn’t like that one bit, He didn’t like that he was losing his grip on me.
But tough. Because He did lose. The withdrawal went well, it was physically hard, but I handled it. And now seven weeks later I’m completely free of medication and free of those negative thoughts.
So today, I kicked Depression out.
I wanted Him gone by time your party came around as your birthday is a joyous celebration and He has no place here. So this morning I just got up and threw his clothes out of an upstairs window. Fucking gleefully. He hasn’t won, He didn’t beat me. I won. He’s gone.
Depression, however, is like a bad smell that you can’t get to the bottom of. He hangs around, He lingers. I can’t guarantee that He won’t be back. He’s only moved into the hotel down the road and in the future He could come knocking again.
But at least this time I’ll be prepared, I’ll know where to go for help, I’ll know what to do. If He returns I have so many people on my side that really He doesn’t stand a chance. I may not have won the war, who knows what the future may hold, but right now, today, I’ve won the battle.
You’re too small now to read this but I’m writing it to keep for you in the hope that in years to come you will read it and you’ll understand. I wasn’t there for you in the beginning as much as I would have liked; I had to call in other arms to hold you, other lips to kiss you, other hearts to love you. But I did that FOR you. And I’m here now, all of me, so I hope that counts for something.
Happy Birthday my beautiful, sweet, precious, clever, funny, charming little man. To infinity and beyond.