Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Don't Stop Believin'
I HAD a brief internal struggle with something recently.  Nothing too major, life altering or important but for me it was the principle of the thing. 

I was caught up in a will I or won’t I debacle? I knew I should and that I’d be raging with myself if I didn’t.  But at the same time I was fearful of appearing greedy and needy.

So I let it sit for a while and mulled it over.  I have a habit of acting on impulse.  I get a message from someone and I answer immediately – “that sounds great!  Let’s do that.”  Or “sure, I can do that,” and then discover it doesn’t suit either me or my timetable and I’m suddenly caught up in something that morphs from something enjoyable and into a complete stress fest.

So I try to rein myself in a little.  And I’m glad I did because I managed to compose a short, to the point request without appearing whingey, needy or “gimmie goddammit” and sat back to see what the response would be.

I suppose I should explain a bit. I’ve been working at something for a while now and it has, for the most part, been positively received but with no real [monetary] value placed on it.  

For me anyway. 

That had always been the understanding between parties and initially I was okay with that.  We all have to start somewhere.

Then things picked up a notch and in times of drought, I was asked to contribute a bit more.  I was pleased to have been asked.  I can deliver.  I’m good at meeting deadlines and I enjoy it.

But it started to rankle.  A little at first and then a lot.

If I can come up with the goods at the last minute (and before deadline) surely I’ve proved my worth.

So I took the bull by the horns, gently, sent off that message and waited.

Guess what?  I got a lovely and favourable response that made me very very glad I had stuck my neck out there, took the bull by the horns and just went for it.

If you don’t ask you won’t get, as the saying goes. 

So I asked and I got.  Not a lot but it’s still more than I had in the first place.

And it has also given me a little boost and encouraged me to quit the quitting thoughts and keep going for another while.

That in itself has to be something.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Jack & Jill Foundation
I GIVE OUT.  I give out a lot.  I could say, “Doesn’t everyone?” and throw in, “so do a lot of mother’s,” but I am not using my “position” as a parent to get out of this one.

I try to see the good in every situation, in every day and in people.  It’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s downright difficult if a tad impossible. 

But I try. 

At the back of it all, however, I am always aware of one thing; I’ve got four fine, healthy, hale and hearty boys.

Countless people, those older and wiser than me, have often commented whenever I complained about my boys wrecking the house or running riot somewhere they shouldn’t.

“Wouldn’t it be worse if they weren’t able to?” they say.

Yes, it would.  It would be unimaginable.  I cannot imagine it.

Yet there are parents out there who are not imagining it but living it.  Their kids are not so hale, not so hearty.

Their kids are sick.  Perhaps terminally so. 

My hale and hearty kids have never known an honest days illness in their lives.

For this I am eternally, absolutely grateful.

During the summer I entered a competition in conjunction with the RTE Guide and Poolbeg Publishing House inviting parents to submit a 500 word original story.  Twenty of which were to be selected and compiled in a children’s book entitled Once Upon a Bedtime with all proceeds from sales going towards The Jack & Jill Foundation.

I was delighted to learn that my story, Declan the Fire Breathing Dragon, was one of the winning entries.

I was always aware of The Jack & Jill Foundation but on a peripheral level only.   Thanks to my healthy kids.  Parents at the school gates mentioned how they would have been lost without the respite they received.  The care and support offered to and provided for those children with severe neurological and developmental issues.

That’s the medical bit.  But there’s more. CEO Jonathan Irwin highlighted how truly heart-breaking illness can be for families on a radio talk show recently.

“It’s a desperate world.  You cannot be in it.  You’re exhausted, you’re traumatised, you get no sleep.  An awful lot of partnerships and marriages that might have had a little crack in them break up.  It completely destroys the childhood of the siblings, and it doesn’t stop there; it ripples into the grandparents, the uncles, aunts, friends.  Everything.  It is a most negative influence all for this little person who means you no harm at all.”

And still I did not fully grasp the extent of their reach. The medical support provided is vital for the families of sick children.  But there is also the emotional side of it.   Most of us expect and take for granted the fact that we can escape every so often.  Even if it is only a quick catch up at the school gate.  What happens when you can’t even snatch those few minutes to yourself? 

The last few minutes of the interview brought it home for me.

“We [The Jack & Jill Foundation] bring the gift of time to get your hair done, to go to the supermarket, to take the children to a match or to a pantomime or on holiday because without it [time] I don’t know how people survive.”

Neither do I.

Once Upon a Bedtime is on sale now in bookshops nationwide RRP €14.99

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Today I am Grateful

ON A DAY when a small four year old warrior lost his battle against cancer, I am grateful. 

On a day when there is usually a good chance I will let a few roars at the boys and issue the usual empty threats, today I will give hugs and smiles.

Today I will let them jump in every single puddle they meet on the way back to the car.

Today I will let whoever has the tap on full blast in the bathroom, enjoy the hand washing without stressing about the mess.

Today I won’t care about dirty faces and hands and how it will get rubbed onto school uniforms.

Today I am grateful that the seven year old went swimming this morning and his older brother will be playing football after school.

Today I am grateful that my smallest boy opted to eat only his Yorkshire pudding at dinner and two small pieces of chicken.

Today I am grateful that my house was too warm and I needed to turn down the heat.

I am grateful that my Junior Infant still wants me to walk him into his classroom each morning. 

Today I am grateful for the large pile of toy cars and wooden building blocks that litter the floor.

I am grateful for the rain.  For the roast chicken dinner in my belly.

Today I am grateful for my hale and hearty boys who run and shout and fight.  Who hug and kiss and thump and punch.  I am grateful for their noise, for the constant demands.  I am grateful for their washing, for their laughter.

Today I am grateful for life.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Over the Hump

My 5 year old looks older than his years.  A lot older.

Last September I was bombarded with people asking him was he all set for Big School.  He had just turned four.

In the supermarket his health was regularly asked after.  I made the connection after the fourth “is he sick?”  People assumed he wasn’t well and was off school.  He had just turned four.

Now that he is in Big School, last week a mum thought it was lovely he was in the classroom checking on his little brother.  Anther wide-eyed and taken aback reaction when I said that he was the actual Naíonán Beaga (Junior Infant).

My 5 year old could pass for a 7 year old.

He is in school as I write this.  Sitting at his bord (table) with the other paistí (children) learning how to count as Gaeilge (in Irish).

He cried a little going into his seomra ranga (classroom) this morning.  And Monday.  And Tuesday.  His hugs are getting tighter.  More frequent. 

He tries to hide his upset from his múinteoir (teacher) and classmates but doesn’t quite manage it. 

Today might be Wednesday, mid-week, but my 5 year old is not over the hump yet.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Unsolicited Advice

Daithí O Sé made headlines earlier on this year when he expressed his annoyance over the deluge of child-birth advice he and his wife, Rita Talty, were receiving pending the arrival of their first child.

The verbose Kerry man is not the first and he certainly will not be the last new parent to be on the receiving end of unwanted pearls of wisdom.

It is practically impossible for an “experienced” parent to keep their lips zipped when they see a gloriously heavily pregnant person about to give birth.  They feel the need to educate others about what is ahead and regale them with all they should or should not be thinking of doing.

I admit to being guilty of this crime at times too.

But I try very, very hard to keep my thoughts to myself when I see the glowing parents of a new-born.  I say glowing because we all know the grey, ashen pallor appears approximately 7 days following the birth shortly after the euphoria has worn off, beaten into whimpering submission by sleep deprivation, constant crying, leaking body parts (sorry!), the lack of showers and food, time for yourself and not to mention worrying about the baby.

Because I’ve been there.  I know.  Let them, the new parents, stay on cloud nine for as long as they can.  Try not to inform them it won’t last; that new-borns don’t sleep forever.  Resist advising them to take a photo of their beautiful showroom house as it stands because before long their peacefully slumbering baby boy will be running around trashing it.

Don’t tell them teething will be hell.  Hold back on what can be the nightmare surrounding introducing solids followed by constipation and more food splattered on the walls than is ingested.  Stay schtum on the pain of immunisations.

Refrain from insisting the enrolment of their baby in the nearest school first thing because current waiting lists are unbelievable.

As a mother of four boys, very different boys I might add, there are only a handful of things I have taken from my 8 years of parenting. 

Some of the gems that made things a tad easier for me are as follows. 

This too shall pass

It might not be a welcome statement, seem very helpful or even make a whole lot of sense when you are experiencing temporary insanity from lack of sleep, but it really is true. Even the worst day is only 24 hours long and taking that day one five minute segment at a time, will see you falling face down back into your bed in no time. Albeit perhaps for just three hours before you are forced out of it again, but before you know it you will be helping your child blow out the candle on their first birthday cake and marvelling at how fast time goes.    

Striking a balance

I’ll be completely honest.  This one flummoxed me and I felt inadequate for not having found mine so I decided it was another one of those media makey-uppey catch phrases. With four small boys running me ragged and no child care, I realised all I wanted was ten minutes to have an uninterrupted cup of coffee not half a day to have my highlights done.  Finding your balance can be reading a book, taking a shower alone, or even just pushing the trolley around the supermarket at your leisure without a little one keeping you company.  As long as it’s your time off and it happens regularly that’s balance enough for the moment.

What works for one child will not necessarily work for the next

A friend recently expressed her shock when neither of her children were born a blank canvass, as she had expected.  Like adults, children are hard wired in their own unique way, all of them possessing little quirks, likes and dislikes.  Two of my boys were dreadful sleepers and one gifted me a full night’s sleep at just 6 weeks old.  Three of them refused to nap in anything except the buggy and the youngest demanded zed’s in his cot.  One ate cardboard as if it was top of the food pyramid whereas his three younger siblings wolfed down vegetables.  Wouldn’t it be a boring world, after all, if everyone was the same?

Pick your battles

With my first son, I was a tad obsessive about his daytime naps.  They absolutely had to be at the same time each day and in his cot.  Upstairs.  When I finally relaxed and admitted a spell in the travel cot downstairs wouldn’t make me a bad mother I realised how miserable we both had been as slaves to a regimented routine that wasn’t working.  Once I allowed my son, not the clock, decide when he was tired he fell into his own routine.  And began to sleep at the same time every day.  When my second son developed a strong attachment to his Spiderman costume I told myself at least he was dressed and the padded muscles would keep him warm.

The days are long but the years are short

It is the end of yet another 15 hour day and all you’ve eaten is a banana, 6 Haribo jellies and tanked up on two gallons of coffee.  You didn’t get near the overflowing laundry basket.  Again.  The slice of toast that landed sticky side down is still under the table and the bathroom beggar’s belief.  Will it ever end?  On days like this I look to my own mother for strength and to increase my morale.  She had twice the number of children I do.  She didn’t drive, was without a telephone and the internet hadn’t been invented yet.  She got through it and I believe, because I have to, that I will too.   

I am still learning to keep my mouth firmly shut even if I am not always successful in this department.  For this lapse I apologise, I really do because there is nothing worse than a “been there, done that” parent telling you stuff.  Because it is always their stuff and their stuff most likely will not make even the tiniest dent in your parenting experience. 

I offer you my final, and perhaps truest, piece of advice. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

I like to Break Shit

ANOTHER lovely ceramic bowl, one I had been using as a fruit bowl, died this evening.  I’ve had it a long time.

There are little ramekin bowls to match but they don’t get used much.  I like to store loose change in those.

Sometimes cups and the odd plate die in our house too.

This is not unrelated but I like to swear.  When I say like to I mean I can’t help it.

*yes, you can*

No, I can’t.

*yes. You. Can.*

Oh shut the fuck up!


I experience a feeling of such release when I let loose with foul language.  It really takes the boil off my pressure cooker. 

And yes, the odd time I swear in front of the boys.  I am aware of this and working on not doing that at least. 

But something is well and truly lost when you just mouth the word or say it in your head.

Not the same thing at all.

See, I suffer from frustration. 

*Don’t we all, dear?*

Piss off you!

I get frustrated when I don’t get “me time.”  Who invented that anyway?  Weren’t we a much happier bunch without it?

But I need my “me time.” My downtime.  Alone.  With no-one at me, touching me in the slightest way.  If I see one of the boys even walking in my direction, my skin crawls with the need to be left alone.

We all need that space.  And if we choose to spend it looking out the window, so be it.  We need to do what works for us.

So when I am on the go all the time I get antsy.  I become short tempered. Cross.  
Miserable and I feel trapped.  I feel like I am being swallowed alive and I need to do something to release that feeling. 

Something for me.

So I swear.

And sometimes I break stuff.

Like ceramic fruit bowls.  Cups, the odd plate.

Not this one.  This one makes good coffee

I do not have butter fingers.  I am not clumsy.  I am human.  I am a mother who sometimes feels broken with the constant demands of her children.

I am a mother who swears and breaks her crockery.

And I fucking enjoy it!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


IT’S like that old expression; troubles come in three’s.  I’m not a bit superstitious and mostly I believe we make our own troubles.  I know there are some unavoidable hic-coughs like receiving the school books by courier and discovering the order is not complete.  Like your dog getting sick three times in two months.  And your car receiving its death knell.  (It is a teenager after all)

But have you noticed that nice things happen in threes as well.  And fives. And sevens.

They do. 

And they may not be mad, crazy epic things either.  Just the small things that make you sit up and take notice like the rainbow that stretches over the roof of your house and it is so clear, so bright it takes your breath away.  Like the seven fluffy little Wagtail birds that like to hang out in the garden.  Like that random chat with the lady in the supermarket/coffee shop/newsagents that was about nothing and everything but stayed with you for the rest of the day.  Like when your child tells you “you’re the best mammy in the world” as you say goodnight to them.  Like when your small boy brings you imaginary cappuccinos on a daily basis.   

Stuff like that. 

Today seemed to be teeming with feel good titbits starting with a lovely walk by the river with the boys and our decidedly perkier Juno dog this morning. 

Ours is a heritage town located on the River Barrow with a well-worn track that goes as far as you feel like walking from the centre of the town.  And indeed there were loads of people using it from joggers to cyclists and a random family with a dog.

After that, guilty conscience appeased because the dog had a walk, we dropped her home and drove to the glorious Delta Sensory Gardens, Carlow

Health & Wellness Garden
Giant Jenga anyone?

This place is amazing.  It is a veritable delight with something for everyone. We don’t go often enough.  Our last visit was approximately the same time last year and if it was possible, the gardens looked lovelier with a couple of new features.

The thistle fountain.  Bring a change of clothes!
The Music Room.  Also bring a change of clothes!

The boys loved it.  “Double thanks for bringing us here!”  “This place rocks!” and “I want a garden like this!” *that may have been me!*  

But the best feel good part of the day, for me at least, was bumping into one of my very early primary school teachers in the gardens.

I recognised her straight away and before I knew it, I was re-introducing myself.

This lady had a huge impact on me in school.  I couldn’t have been more than ten years old and I can still remember her lessons.  She favoured talking to her students instead of reading from books.  She didn’t sit behind her desk, but liked to lean against it as she chatted to us.  She engaged with us all and I feel that was the secret of her prowess.

I still remember her telling us all to express our dissatisfaction with service or an item in any shop because if we didn’t “things will never change.”

Like my time in primary school, I could have stayed there today chatting to her well into the afternoon.  If it wasn’t for a pesky child demanding that we go now, I probably would have.

It has been a week with definite signs that summer 2014 is closing its doors.  It is now autumn. 

School is back next week.  Already there are yellow, red and orange leaves on some trees.  I have started my take-out coffee cup collection for our annual conker, acorn and beech planting.

The boys have mentioned Christmas more than once.  I have packed away the shorts and t-shorts as they boys have requested long sleeves and pants.  I may or may not have wrapped a scarf around my neck a few times these past couple of weeks.

And we’re making the most of it.  Making the most of the last few days before the school gates open for 2014/2015.

Thank you for reading.  If you enjoyed this post, you might take three clicks out of your day to vote for me in the Irish Blog Awards 2014 for Best Blog Post.

To see what you are paying for, as it were, here is a link to the post that is up for nomination. You can vote by clicking here scrolling to Wonderful Wagon, clicking that and then clicking vote.    I hate asking but I'm a cheeky devil!  And thank you!  Very much.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Nanoo nanoo Robin Williams

He must have been so tired.  He must have been under so much unwanted pressure.  He must have felt so burdened.

I’m talking about Robin Williams and his tragic death.  Death by suicide as was reported by the media and as a result splashed all over Facebook, the television and internet.

Robin Williams never made any secret of the fact he struggled with depression. 

With that comes a deep knowledge that everyone else is affected by it too.

Imagine the stress of that.  Depression affects family, social groups, the workplace, the economy, everything.  Those who are depressed are cognizant of this; of being surrounded by people watching, asking after them all of the time, being concerned and worrying incessantly.

It can become a burden.

Imagine the strain of that.

Every time Robin Williams was interviewed he was lauded as a genius, an amazing person, the funniest person alive, a force, inspired, and a brilliant artist, gifted. 

Maybe Robin Williams didn’t want to be all of those things.  Maybe he just wanted to be.

Every time he was interviewed it was mere minutes before he morphed into one of his characters.   He was never himself.  For long anyway.

Maybe he felt he couldn’t be.

Good Will Hunting saw him act in a state of unusual sobriety, a less manic, less crazed persona.  It was a different Robin Williams to the one we had become used to; the fireball of energy, unable to sit still and relax.

It must have been so tiring having to live up to his name all of the time.  Feeling like he had to prove himself to everyone, to always be the funny man, the life and soul of the party.

Robin Williams was also a husband, a father, a work colleague, a friend and last but not least, an actor.

It was said on social media he had reached an unbearable level of sadness and couldn’t deal with it anymore.

The opinion of one in thousands of people discussing his demise.

This is mine; I think Robin Williams was tired in the end.   Of it all.

RIP Robin Williams. 1951 - 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Day my Dog Cried

IT WAS AS IF she knew.  Bags were being packed.  Running gear was driving her crazy with the prospect of a run but then it was being put away.  Toothbrushes were flung into another bag alongside mobile phone and DS chargers.    But she wasn’t interested in any of that.

It was the suitcases and the harried activity that had piqued her curiousity.  Something was afoot and she wasn’t sure that she liked it.

Probably the most disconcerting thing of all was when her food and a large blanket were put in the car.

Then her lead was plucked from under the stairs and she could hardly contain her excitement.

She knew it!  Something was definitely afoot.  Still not sure what exactly but the lead always meant a run somewhere.  She jumped into the car without a backward glance. 


She was off to doggy camp for the week.  Because her humans were going on holidays.  

Without her.  But she was oblivious to this.

The boys had expressed mild distress about their pet going to the kennels.  Would she be okay?  Are there other people there?  Where will she sleep?  Who will feed her?  Will she be fed?  What will she do all day?

I was glad I wasn’t the only one with concerns.  The dog had been sick – a kidney infection – and was very out of sorts.  She perked up considerably after three days and some anti-biotics.  She had been glued to me that week.  Even slept by my side of the bed.  I couldn’t go upstairs or to the bathroom without her shadowing me.

But now she was going to a strange place because her humans were off to the beach. 

It was time for her to go and on Mister Husband’s return I asked him how she went.  What’s it like down there?

“Oh, a proper Auschwitz,” was his reply.  And when he saw my face he said, “She’s grand.  It’s fine.”

I told him his back pedalling came too late.  “You wait till you’re in your nursing home.  You’ll laugh then, I tell ya.   If you are on an anti-biotic I’ll tell them they have my full permission for one person to hold your nose and another to force open your jaw.  How about that? And I’ll tell them you love suppositories, too.  Yes, I will.  Plus you reckon ammonia is great for softening the skin.  No need to change those incontinence pads.”  I pointed my finger at him.  “You. Just. Wait.”

And then we drove off to our rented holiday home.  Smallest Boy got upset a couple of times and asked to come home and to get our Juno girl. 

We assured him she was okay at her doggy camp and he would see her soon.  I sent a text to Dougie in the kennels on Monday morning and his swift response assured us that she was indeed fine.  She had made friends with an identical twin – the only way to tell them apart was by their red and blue collars.

That seemed to put their minds at rest and they proceeded with the job in hand which was to enjoy their holidays.

They did and before we knew it, I was telling them tomorrow was the last day. Lots of “aawwwws” ensued but there was no denying it.  All good things must come to an end and then we were at the gates of the kennels and she was at the other side.

Crying when she saw us.

Did you know dogs could cry?  I knew they could howl in anger, fear and excitement but up till then I didn’t know they could cry.  She didn’t shed tears or anything but she whined.  And whined and keened and licked whatever part of my hands she could get at through the wires.

Then the gates were open and she was jumping up on me, licking my face, my hands, still whining and keening. 

The car door was left open and she darted in to say hello to everyone else.

She spent the two minute drive home with her head stuck out the car window, sniffing the air and when we arrived home, she was the first one out of the car and up to the door.

We went in and she has remained stuck to my side ever since.

Dogs can cry.  Who knew?

I certainly didn’t.  

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Joy Pockets for July 2014

WE are smack bang in the middle of July.  Into our third week of school summer holidays yet it feels like they have been off much longer.  And not in a bad way.  I am really, really enjoying the time off.  So I thought I would document some of my joy pockets for July. 

The weather.  Isn’t it great?  Already we have been blessed with long days filled with hazy, warm, buttery yellow sunshine.  The water sprinkler got put through its paces so vigorously it is in a cracked heap on the grass.   We are a short and t-shirts house for the last 6 weeks or so and it is great.  Really cuts down on the washing and gets Vitamin D onto Irish skin.

School Holidays.  I love them.  It’s crazy but it’s true.  We seem to be busier than ever but in a different way and we still manage to get everything done because we are not clock watching.  The first person to wake does so around 8 o’clock.  It’s not me.  And by the time everyone else is up, pancakes are made, orange juice is poured and everyone is full and happy.  Ready to meet the day.

Verruca(s).  A strange one, agreed.  But my joy is we have managed to banish verrucas on two boys all within weeks of each other.  We began the gentle treatment in February of this year and saw great results.    

The swimming pool.  What goes hand in hand with good weather?  Besides ice-cream.  The swimming pool.  Or any kind of pool.  We have been going to our local leisure centre every day and loving it.  Such is our enthusiasm, we wore still wet swimming gear on a visit this week. 

Alex and Ani bangles.  Just click on this link for gorgeousness.  Be warned – I went in to buy just one and ended up putting another aside.  They. Are. Gorgeous. And I. Want. Them. All.

A certain inner calm.  Which is probably linked to the school holidays and kicking back a little.  I cannot tell you (because you probably understand) what it is like not to be tied to a clock each day.  Not to be cooking meals all the time.  We take each day as it comes and enjoy it. 

Summer reading.  I love a good read.  Our second boy has discovered the joy of reading lately.  He is reading for pleasure and not because it’s homework.  It’s great to see.  I have my own library for our week away but I am waiting on two more.  It’s hard when they are sitting there, looking at me and I want to keep them for reading on the beach. It’s like having biscuits in your press; you know they’re there but you shouldn’t.  You can’t!   

Pop Up Races.   A novel and fantastic idea, the brainchild of two brothers who take their 5k pop up race to a number of different towns each week.  You can register online  or sign up on the night.  They have been in Athy twice now with a fantastic turnout each time.  The 5k route takes place along the banks of the scenic River Barrow.

My boys. Not just a Joy Pocket for July but for all year round.  Yes, it’s hard being around them all the time.  Yes, it’s frustrating and boring.  *she said boring* Yes, she definitely said boring.  That’s because it is boring.  But I am aware of how lucky I am to be with them every day.  After all, no-one else can wipe backsides and serve up fresh pasta with an out-of-a-bag-sauce like I can. All joking aside, now that I am out  the other side I can finally see how quickly time really does pass.

And with that in mind, I am determined to enjoy the rest of the school break because after all, when else am I going to get a proper chance to just kick back and enjoy life as it happens?  

Friday, 4 July 2014

Five Friday Favourites.

HAS something shifted in your house since earlier this week?  Has a certain calmness descended, a new routine emerged?

With us it takes anything from a week to ten days for everyone to adjust to a change in routine.  Specifically the transition from school time to school holiday time.

I believe we have transitioned.  (Love that word.  So damn satisfying)

It’s been a lovely week.  I thoroughly enjoyed it so I thought I might list five nice things that happened on this, the seventh day of our school holidays and call them Five Friday Favourites.

Sleep and Breakfast. A new routine in this department has definitely emerged. I haven’t been up before 8.30am most mornings then gotten dressed in a leisurely fashion instead of the usual cartoon routine of washing my face and applying deodorant at the same time whilst stepping over the dog on my way back to the bedroom.  It has been another half hour before the last person to wake up appears.  I have also gone from making pancakes twice a week to every flippin’ morning for breakfast.  It’s not a bad thing though.  I can make them in my sleep at this point and they are a firm favourite with the boys.  They never seem to tire of them and it means they are nicely full for the most part of the morning.

Swimming.  Every. Day.  This has been absolute bliss.  Lowering myself into the pool at 10am is nothing short of hedonistic. One morning there were two other people enjoying the water so we practically had the place to ourselves.  Oh, the lads love it too in case you were wondering.

Picnics. Well, we managed one so far but it was a spur of the moment decision and despite changing the venue at the last minute, it was a rip roaring success.  Full of “thank you for bringing us” and “can we come back?” and “that was amazing!” after two hours of tearing about.  And all I did was cook two pizzas, a marshmallow brownie type desert and throw an old curtain over the picnic bench.  Even the dog fell asleep when we got home. 

Journals. The older boys requested a journal each during the week in which to record their “hunts,” “hunger games challenges” and “stories.”  I broke into my notebook collection, (yes, I have one) gave them each a pencil and off they went.  Scribbling away and asking me how to spell all sorts for the day.  Great stuff to watch and isn’t the way kids spell everything phonetically really funny and endearing?


Decking.  Wine. Weather.  Bliss.  Bliss.  Bliss.  All three together.  Throw in a good book and I was in heaven for the first half of this week. 

In other news, I worse a beige linen trousers on our picnic.  Delighted with myself.  Walked the small wood with four kids and one dog and everything.  Delighted with myself.  Later on that same day when I took off the linen trousers I saw what I knew was a smushed lump of chocolate brownie on the backside of it.  But I know the 67 people who saw me between the hours of 2pm and 11pm thought it was shite!

Ah, well.  At least there’s sleep again, right?  Oh and wine. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

What Summer is for.
In the winter I sit at the computer most afternoons.  The boys do their homework, watch a bit of the goggle box, play with Lego and eat snacks.  I write.  Bits and pieces. Sometimes actually finishing something.

These days I am outside.  I sit on the decking outside the back door reading a book as the boys jump on the trampoline or play with the water sprinkler.  On the really, really hot days they stay inside watching TV, opting to wait till after 6pm before they go out.  Then it’s 10pm or after before they come in, filthy, happy and demanding cereal with cold milk or hot chocolates with loads of marshmallows.  They always, even at 10pm, take them outside to the garden table and eat out there. I know once they do this, I can say goodbye (or goodnight) to another half hour at least before they come inside.

I love the way rain feels on my face. I like the bite of an icy morning.  I feel calm when it’s the stillness of winter. But there is something special about summer sun.

Something encouraging, driving, happy and warm.  Something alive.

So far this summer we have eaten our tea outside.  A tea of pizza with a glass of wine for me.  Swam every day.  Bought water pistols.  Attended birthday parties.  Declined paddling pool invitations because it was too hot to drive and the boys were happy at home.  Baked brownies.

Discussed our own holidays.  Played football.  Washed school bags, lunch bags, and uniforms and packed them away.  Pre-ordered some books on line.  Lost two teeth.  Same boy.

Discovered what a bouncy castle burn feels like.  Went cycling in the evenings.  Ate lots and lots of breakfast cereal.  And pancakes.  Made home-made ice-pops.  Read books.

We aren’t even finished the first week of school holidays yet and I am already looking forward to the rest of the break.

There are fights and loud bust-ups followed by threats of treat embargos and an end to the swimming pool. Lots of loud complaints about being bored.  Until 6pm and then I don’t see them for dust.

When they ask why we don’t do anything in the afternoons I tell them it is because I want to sit at home, outside in the glorious sunshine, soaking it up and in.  Reading my book and relaxing.  

Just being.

After all that is what summer is for.