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

Tag Archives: toys


I forsee a lot more of this in my future!

I’M no good at playing toys with my kid.

I can do activities all right. Going to the library, feeding the ducks, kitchen discos, baking, reading books together, arts and crafts.

Those things I do often and do well. But actual ‘down on the floor’ playing, not so much.

Particularly imagination games – the ones where I have to be the shopkeeper, or the space ranger, or the cowboy (though I’m not allowed to wear the cowboy hat), or one of the PJ Masks.

I’m particularly bad at being Thomas the Tank Engine, especially when the script is dictated to me and I dare not deviate from it.

More and more I find myself leaving the actual playing to Yer Man and making excuses to The Beast when he asks me to play. Even though I know the benefits of play and of one-on-one time with a parent and I know how important it is for a little person’s development, I find myself running in the opposite direction when the toy box comes out.

That sounds really terrible, I know it does. I just don’t enjoy it, playing bores me. I do it, I do try, but I suffer through it and gratefully escape once any opportunity arises. (On days where I’ve spent a full hour pretending to be Shimmer and Shine complete with genie dancing I’d actual welcome Jehovah’s Witnesses to the door. I’d invite them in. They wouldn’t be able to leave!)

I can’t help feeling though that it shouldn’t be this hard. I enjoyed playing myself when I was a kid. I had Barbie dolls and teddies and cash registers and a Fashion Wheel and all of that and I would play away. And my two best friends and I played elaborate outdoor games where we’d put on singing and dancing shows, or we’d follow innocent neighbours who looked ‘suspicious’ and we’d look for clues like the Secret Seven. We played rounders and kick the can and hide-and-seek and paths and the whole works, the same as most of you reading.

So why do I have such a hard time with it now – why can’t I play with my kid? I don’t know is the answer. I guess I’m not a kid anymore myself so there’s that. And also as a parent I’ve other things to do in the day so playing would be further down the list. Chances are though, that perhaps I’m just out of practice.

Maybe I need to just force myself to do it and eventually it’ll get easier and I’ll start to enjoy it? The way insufferable bores exercise fanatics say it happens for them. At first they don’t want to go out and do it, but before you know it they’re skipping along doing 10ks and push ups and lunges all over the place. Perhaps after all these years I’ve lost the art of playing, it’s a skill I no longer have. But maybe like riding a bike, if you try, it’s something you never forget?

So what I’m going to do is set myself a challenge. For Lent. Instead of giving something up, I’m going to commit to actively playing with my boy for an hour every day. No excuses, no pawning him off on unsuspecting passers-by. Just me and my boy in the sitting room or the garden, playing with his toys together.

And maybe by Easter Sunday I’ll have gotten so used to it that I won’t want to stop doing it. Just like how I no longer take milk in my tea or put sugar on my cornflakes, after giving them up when I was ten. Thirty years later and I’m still going strong on those!

So, we’ll see. Bagsie I the cowboy hat!

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.

This is what it's like packing up a toddler. Pic Credit:

This is what it’s like packing up a toddler. Pic Credit:

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.

The Fellas.

The Fellas.

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.

Like butter wouldn't melt. Tiny dictator.

Like butter wouldn’t melt. Tiny dictator.

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.

It's hard work being a dictator.

It’s hard work being a dictator.

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.

MAMMY Dunne is getting her attic insulated so needed to clear it out before the work began.

“Get over here and take all of your shite out of my way, it’s been here for ages, you’re thirty five years of age for God’s sake,” sez she, up the wall with the stress of it all.

So over I skipped today to sift through bags and suitcases and boxes to see if there was anything I wanted to salvage or if it was all for the bin.

Predictably, a good 80 per cent of it was pure rubbish – broken toys and stuffed animals and piles of paperwork, the usual stuff most of us have in our attic.

However, there were a few gems that sent me hurtling back in time to the 1980s. Like this doll’s house, which I got when I was about five or six years old (’84/’85).

Nostalgia post dolls house open

I. Loved. This.

It was bright and yellow and sturdy. You clicked the little people into different dresses and into their beds or high chair and it was just brilliant.

Nostalgia post dolls hous figuresNostalgia post dolls house closed outside











Also, looking at it today it contains two women and a baby (though the little brunette doll is missing) so it also promoted same sex relationships! Excellent!

I also found my Fashion Wheel, which I got when I was about ten or 11 (’89) which I just loved. I thought it was the business.

Nostalgia post fashion wheel box closedNostalgia post Fashion Wheel box open















There was an inner wheel with a selection of heads, a middle wheel with a selection of torsos, and an outer wheel with a selection of legs. You mixed and matched to create outfits and then coloured them in.

I guarded this jealously, evident by the fact that it’s still in pretty good nick. All the parts are there and I made sure to write ‘Karen Dunne Do Not Touch Okay’ on the colouring pencils, just in case anybody got any bright ideas.

Nostalgia post fashion wheel do not touchNostalgia post fashion wheel KD is cool















(I was also very immodest as a child, as I’d also written ‘KD is cool’ on the front of the pack of pencils. In case you were in any doubt.)

I was pretty obsessed with not letting people touch my stuff, as you can see here from this box of Monopoly, circa 1972, as I had written ‘The Dunne children own this so don’t touch, K’ on the inside.

Nostalgia post Monopoly box outsideNostalgia post Monopoly box writing















I wasn’t, however, that particular when it came to my touching OTHER people’s stuff, as you can see here from the box of this Game of Jaws, where I had written ‘Karen Dunne age 8’ scribbling out my sister’s name underneath.

She turned her back for one minute …

Nostalgia post Jaws boxNostalgia post Jaws box my name











Top of the heap though today was my collection of Barbie dolls. I was OBSESSED with Barbie as a kid, particularly this Day to Night Barbie which I got from Santy around ’86/’87.

Nostalgia post Day BarbieNostalgia post night Barbie










By day she was a businesswoman, complete with briefcase and power suit. But by night, her skirt came off and turned around, into a pretty chiffon party skirt, perfect for a night on the tiles.

I lusted after that sparkly pink strappy top she has on there. LUSTED after it. And look at those daytime pink and white stilettos – sweeeeet!

There was also Dynasty Barbie (check out those elbow length gloves) and, um, Big Poofy Skirt Barbie. Those might not actually be their real names but you get the gist.

Nostalgia post Dynasty BarbieNostalgia post poofie skirty Barbie










I even found my Bridal Sindy and I have to say, bar the big poofy sleeves, I’m digging that wedding dress. It came complete with veil and fluffy slippers for Sindy to wear. No uncomfortable heels for her, no Sir. And unlike her Barbie sisters, Sindy wasn’t a cheap floozy, she boasted a pair of modest knickers.

Nostalgia post Sindy brideNostalgia post Sindy slippersNostalgia post Sindy knickers

There were also my Jem and Shana dolls from the Jem and the Holograms cartoon series. I was MAD about this cartoon as a kid, I thought it was just fabulous.

It tells the story of Jerrica who runs a foster home AND a music business who turns into her alter ego Jem, by touching her special earrings.

Nostalgia post Jem dolls

The doll has earrings that flash when you flick a switch on the back of her neck and get this, after TWENTY FIVE YEARS in my mother’s attic, those earring still flash. They don’t make ’em like that anymore!

I also found one of my most prized possessions from when I was a kid – my Sindy hostess trolley. I don’t think anyone uses hostess trollies anymore, but basically they were little contraptions you used to keep the food hot when you were transporting it from your kitchen to your dining room when you were hosting important dinner parties.

Nostalgia post hostess trolley

Everyone who was everyone had one, dahling

It comes with plates and plastic food and the tiniest most perfect set of cutlery I’ve ever seen, it’s exquisite!

Of course after 25 years in a dusty attic, the whole haul needs to be cleaned so they’re not fit to be played with just yet, but once I clean them up, I’m going to have a ball reverting back to being ten years old.

I might even let The Beast have a go. Maybe.

Did you have any of these toys? What was your favourite when you were a kid?