Pox Mam lives in the Family Tree
With her Pox Husband Love and her Pox Beasty, wee.
One day she wakes early, for a bagel and lox.
Pox Mam, oh Pox Mam, beware of the Pox.
A Mam! Cried Chicken Pox. A well rested Mam.
Let’s change all that, I don’t give a damn.
I’ll push up the temp and bring out a spot,
Why stop at one, I’ll bring out a LOT.
I’m not just a Mam! Why can’t you see,
I’m Pox Mam, I’m Pox Mam,
I’M POX MAM, that’s me
And I want to burn down the family tree.
I’m not a Mam who needs sleep at night,
Sleep is for the weak,
I’ll stay up and fight.
I can go on, who needs a rest?
I’ll stay up with Pox Beast, it’s for the best.
He’ll scratch it and pop it and scratch it and then,
He’ll scratch it and pop it and scratch it again!
Pox Mam is lonely. Pox Mam is lost.
Pox Mam forgot her slippers, at her own cost.
She sits by the bed, stroking a feverish nose,
Trying to comfort, but dying to doze.
She cuddles the Pox Beast, wanting to cure
Then suddenly remembers, Calpol for sure!
She checks the time and sees it’s ok,
He can have another dose, hip hip hooray!
She squirts and she spoons and she gets it all in,
Another smear of Pox cream, why not, for the win.
The Beast’s breathing slows, he’s sleeping at last
Pox Mam, oh Pox Mam, get to bed fast!
Early next morning, after sleeping a while,
She checks on the Pox Beast, there’s more spots, by a mile
She thinks it might be a very long week,
Chicken pox really is not for the meek.
Still, Pox Beast is smiling, he’s really alright,
These pox won’t last for ever, a few more days (and a night!)
Pox Mam will get through, the best she will make
But also, fuck it all, she’s making a cake!
Because it’s her birthday, yes really, today
Chicken Pox bedammed, what do you say?
Chocolate or lemon or vanilla, oh my,
And coffee too, obvs, so she doesn’t just die
I’m Pox Mam, I’m Pox Mam,
I’M POX MAM, that’s me!
And I’m baking right here, in the family tree.
(This is ripped off from the wonderful Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book, ‘Stick Man’ which is available here if you haven’t already got it. It’s one of The Beast’s favourites!)
ABOUT five hundred years ago I started a ‘local restaurant reviews’ section on the blog, wrote two reviews and then promptly forgot about it.
I’m dedicated like that.
Anyway, it was Yer Man’s birthday this weekend and I brought him out to dinner so I thought I’d blow the dust off the reviews section here and include some details on our night.
Being the seasoned travellers that we are, we went all the way to the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre (about ten minutes from our house) to see a film and afterwards decided to drop into Prezzo right beside the cinema, which opened a couple of months ago.
Prezzo is an Italian style bistro and boasts an extensive menu, featuring among others pizza, pasta, fish, chicken and meat dishes as well as antipasto platters and the Liffey Valley branch is the chain’s first outlet in Ireland.
We arrived around 6pm to find the restaurant about three quarters full, but we were seated promptly at a table for two and had a look through the menu, deciding this time to only have a main course as we had eaten our body weight in popcorn in at the flicks.
I was tempted by the pizza but in the end went for the pork belly with a Marsala sauce, while Yer Man had the Fusilli alla Rusticana which was a chicken pasta dish in a tomato sauce.
Service was friendly and efficient – it took about 20/25 minutes for our food to arrive but personally I don’t mind that as it shows the food is being cooked fresh and also we didn’t have starters so the wait seemed longer.
My pork belly was soft and tender and melting, though the skin could have been a bit crisper. The Marsala sauce was subtly and nicely flavoured, if a little thin and the accompanying veggies of green beans,mushrooms and broccoli were crisp and fresh. I had a tasty side salad also which was a generous portion of mixed salad leaves with cherry tomatoes, peppers and red onion and I chose an oil and balsamic dressing.
Yer Man’s pasta was enormous, a truly huge portion, nicely cooked with a light, fresh tomato flavour that was zingy and satisfying.
We were only there for an hour, so this is only a first impressions review but overall we were impressed. It was a lovely meal and we’ll be back to sample other dishes and we’ll bring friends too. More info including menus are here.
Our two main courses, plus two soft drinks came to €38. Prezzo is a mid-priced restaurant, starters are expensive enough varying between €7 to €9 while pizza/pasta dishes are around €12-€15 and meat courses average about €18. It’s not quite cheap and cheerful, but it’s not overpriced either, considering the generous portions.
This seems to be a family friendly restaurant – we counted about six tables with children on our visit – and there was plenty of space as well as several high chairs available. There’s a nice buzzy, energetic atmosphere about the place.
The dining room itself is bright and beautifully decorated and there’s loads of space between the tables. I abhor going to restaurants that squeeze you in like sardines in a tin so it was nice to be able to have a conversation without feeling like the next table was listening in.
The main feature in the dining room is the kitchen area with open pizza oven in the centre of the room – it’s a great visual but it does make the room really warm and when we were there the air conditioning didn’t seem to be switched on, so dress lightly!
There’s an outside seating area looking out on the newly refurbished plaza outside the cinema which would be lovely for a summer’s evening meal, so if it’s a nice day, see if you can nab one of those tables.
For food quality, menu selection and ambience Prezzo gets a solid 4/5. Next time we go, we’ll order all three courses and I fully expect that rating to rise to a 5/5.
For value for money I give a decent 3.5/5.
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 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.
THE thing about having a birthday party for your child at home is that you have to actually clean that home before you can let anybody into it.
Well, anybody not wearing a Hazmat suit anyway.
I don’t know what I was thinking. It started a couple of weeks ago when we went out to visit Mammy Dunne and in a fit of inspiration invited her to stay the night of Seán’s birthday.
His birthday is Easter Saturday, you see, and we were planning to have Mammy Dunne and the inlaws for their dinner on Easter Sunday anyway so it made sense for her to stay, rather than going home and having to come back out to us a few hours later.
“That’s a great idea now, if you don’t mind. I will stay, I’ll pack an overnight bag and all so I will,” she sez delighted with herself.
All was going swimmingly until we were driving home and I noticed Yer Man shooting me terrified, alarmed looks out of the corner of his eye.
“WHAT?” I eventually yelled when I could stand it no longer.
“Nothing, nothing,” he babbled “it’s just you asked your Mam to stay …”
“YES?” I roared “and what’s wrong with that? Not good enough for you is she? Don’t want her staying? You thundering bastard, I have to say, I’d never treat YOUR mother like…”
“KAREN!” he cut me off, mid-rant “it’s not that. It’s just – where is she going to stay?”
“In the bloody spare room, you big thick, where do you …”
I trailed off, remembering. The spare room. Or The Room of Death as it’s more commonly known around these parts.
The room where we open the door ONLY to chuck in more rubbish, closing it quickly lest our eyes be offended by the filth within.
The room that hasn’t been hoovered since 2010. The room where odd socks go to die.
I looked at Yer Man, horrified.
“We’ll have to clean it,” I managed, gasping for breath.
“I know,” he murmured comfortingly, patting my hand “I know.”
We drove the rest of the way home in silence. Thinking about the beast lurking within our home.
Today is D-day. It’s time to slay the beast.
WHEN I was a kid I never had a birthday cake. Not because I grew up in some grim orphanage or had horrible parents but because I had the misfortune of being born just after Christmas.
After the excess of the festive season the last thing anyone wanted – or more importantly, could afford – was more cake.
So every January my mother would slap some Royal Icing on a leftover manky Oxford Lunch and present it to me with a fixed smile, telling me just to be glad there was a cake at all. It became a running joke in our family and in fact when I got married, my Mam iced an Oxford Lunch for me for my hen night for the craic and we all fell about the place laughing.
It was no laughing matter in 1991 however, when I threatened to run away from home unless they got me an actual birthday cake from an actual bakery with my actual name on it. I was deadly serious and luckily the folks realised I was a woman on the edge and made with the cake. It was such a novelty in our house that they even took a photo of me with the cake. That’s me there below, wearing, inexplicably a jumper more suited to the cast of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Anyway, I always swore that if I ever had a kid, I’d make sure he or she always had a brilliant birthday cake – in fact I’d make it myself so I would. I made a promise to my future child that day that their birthday cakes would be creations of wonder, lovingly prepared by their doting mother. No manky Oxford Lunches for them, no Sir!
Fastforward 20-odd years and it’s about ten days until Seán’s first birthday and the panic has set in. You see, I can’t bake. No really, I’m useless. I’m not a bad cook now, but I don’t have the light touch you need to make cakes.
I’m dreadful at following recipes, preferring to fling in handfuls of stuff instead of weighing out the ingredients needed. I can’t knead, I don’t own an electric hand whisk and I don’t even know the difference between bread soda and bicarbonate of soda.
I attempted to make fairy cakes a while back and this happened:
Then I attempted to make a sugar free apple cake and it turned into this wet, stodgy, tasteless mess:
And don’t even talk to me about the time I attempted pretzels and took these oversized misshapen penises out of the oven:
I’m not so bad at bread now, I made a tomato loaf once and it was good. But I can’t serve this at a one-year-old’s birthday party, can I?
I feel like such a failure but I know what I have to do. I’ll be letting down my 13-year-old self but it has to be done – now, someone pass me the Royal Icing.
SEÁN’S having a pirate theme for his upcoming first birthday party.
Not because he’s ever expressed an interest in pirates or because I have any particular interest in pirates, but because that was the choice available in the Two Euro Shop when I went in.
It was either cut price Paddy’s Day paraphernalia or paper plates and cups saying ‘On Your Communion Day’ or the pirates. So I plumped for pirates.
‘Pirates?’ Mammy Dunne – who was with me – said, doubtfully.
‘Yes, pirates. We’re having pirates,’ I said tightly, shooting her my patented Don’t Even Think About It look.
Arriving home, I produced the bag with a flourish to Yer Man. ‘Look, Seán’s having a pirate themed birthday party,’ I said brightly.
‘Pirates?’ he said, doubtfully.
‘Yes, pirates. We’re having pirates,’ I said tightly, shooting him my patented ‘Not In Front Of The Ma’ look.
Other mothers wouldn’t have panic bought the first thing they saw, they would have looked elsewhere for something more suitable for their still-tiny innocent baby’s birthday party. Cups and plates and banners covered in animals or balloons or rainbows.
Better mothers. Sensible mothers. Good mothers. Like my sister-in-law for example who offered me table covers and banners and balloons in both a Mickey Mouse theme and a Toy Story theme.
‘I have them all in the party drawer,’ sez she, like it’s no big deal.
She has a PARTY DRAWER. A drawer full of party stuff – SUITABLE party stuff – that she can pull out at the drop of a hat, effortlessly decorating a room in a flash.
I don’t have a party drawer. I don’t even have a party pile. Or a party plastic bag. I have pirates. Lots and lots of pirates.
This pirate business isn’t the only thing I fall down on. I’ve outsourced the food as well. We’re having a tea party in the afternoon of his birthday, just for family, for an hour. I’m serving sandwiches and tea. With some jellies and goodies for the other kids there, Seán’s cousins.
The more I thought about it, the more I panicked about the food. It’s only sandwiches, but when was I going to get to make them? I had, after all, to clean this bastion of filth [our house] before letting anyone in here and that was going to take days. Weeks even.
Eventually, after being awake all night, tossing and turning, Googling ‘Can you freeze a cheese sandwich’ I threw myself through the door of the local cafe and begged the lovely man behind the counter to help me. Covered in shame I was. Covered.
No problem, he soothed, like it wasn’t the laziest thing he’d ever heard in his life. One platter of sandwiches and some scones with butter and jam as well, how’s that?
I could have kissed him.
In my pirate buying frenzy, I also picked up some pirate ‘Loot Bags’ which you’re supposed to fill with treats to give to the kids attending the party to bring home with them.
I looked at them with horror. How had I let that happen? I had no intention of doing party bags. None. But now they were there, looking at me. Taunting me, even.
‘Fuck it,’ I exploded, when I could take it no longer ‘I’ll do poxy party bags.’
I know most people fill the bags with jellies and sweets and little trinkets from the pound shop. Bubbles and dinky cars and pretend jewellery and what not. Yeah, I can’t be arsed with any of that. I’m filling mine with Lidl buns and a two euro coin. They can buy their own plastic tat themselves.
So the date is set, the theme, food and party bags are sorted. All that’s left is the cake. Now that’s a story for another day.