What’s that strange glowing ball in the sky? Ireland has lately been graced by the sunshine, the heat, something that actually resembles a summer. While we’re being told by meteorologists (who may know a thing or two about weather) that we aren’t actually going through a heatwave (apparently that’s FIVE consecutive days of temperatures over 25 degrees), it’s undeniable that we are getting to enjoy some rather lovely sunshine. People are smiling, sales of ice creams are going through the roof. Snapchats are being sent left right and centre with temperature filters over them, and people are baring a whole lot more skin than they have in months. Aside from the glow in the sky, we’re also facing the glow of pale Irish skin in the sunlight. This means it’s time to ensure that skin is being looked after from the potentially harmful UV rays. Being sun safe is something often neglected by us here in Ireland – especially when we’re still at home, not off on holidays elsewhere.
If you missed it on Wednesday night, a rather incendiary debate kicked off on Brendan O Connor’s new current affairs show “Cutting Edge”. In response to a rather thought provoking piece from writer Louise O Neill, which spoke about how being a woman did not necessarily mean you wanted kids, Niamh Horan added her two cents. The piece from O Neill had put forward the idea that women who choose not to exercise their womb are thought of as selfish. In response to this, Horan, who is of the same age bracket, commented that in her opinion it is the parents who have their children but leave them in childcare, creches, while they head out to work, who are the selfish ones. It is, she said, the children who are suffering for their mother’s need to “have it all”.
I’ve described my son as a walking ear infection in the past. The poor pet, he seems to go from antibiotic to antibiotic, frequent flyer in the doctors office, coughing like a 50 a day smoker but a trooper throughout. I remember ear aches from childhood – there are few pains like it, and I look at him, happy and active while according to the doctor he’s suffering from a bad infection. Recently it became obvious that something would need to be done – likely grommets, and so the path to getting them done was begun. It starts with the hearing test.
I come with a tiny entourage, all 3ft of him, my two year old toddler. I spend most of my days trying to teach him right from wrong, good food from bad food (i.e., leave the stuff in the bin IN THE BIN and come back and eat from your plate) and to say please and thank you to others. Trying to bring a child up is a massive learning curve. I’m a wholly different person to who I was three years ago, before I fell pregnant and my life changed. He’s taught me so many things (yes, I know that sounds cheesy). Here are just some of them…
As parents, we want to make our child as happy and as secure as they possibly can be, every hour of every day. There’s only so much we can do, aside from keeping them warm, fed, clothed and loved. Some things we can’t quite control. Recently E has started having night terrors, which are definitely out of our control, and definitely make me feel like an absolute parenting failure for not being able to prevent.
I’ve never been very good at this hair and beauty thing, it’s not something which came naturally to me as a teenager, or through my college years. After having my son, I felt it became more important to appear to the outside world that I had it all together, and so I started to focus on my appearance more. As any mother knows, a baby/toddler can wreak havoc on the amount of solo time you’ve got – going to the bathroom alone is considered a luxury so spending an hour on hair and beautyÂ isn’t exactly an option. However, I’ve discovered a few products in the last while which have been game changers – quick, easy and effective – what more could you want?
It isn’t something I write about often, my pain. Mostly because I don’t want to make this blog about my parenting journey into an eternal journal of whinging, but also in a slight denial aspect that if I don’t say it exists then it might go away any day now. That’s not been a successful venture yet, so I’m led to wonder what can be the harm of being honest in this, my little spot of the Internet. For the past two years, I have been parenting with chronic pain.
I officially have a two year old. I’m in a little bit of shock how quickly it’s come around – he’s no longer my teeny tiny baby, dependent on me for absolutely everything. Still a short arse, just one with a big personality and an independent mind. It doesn’t feel like a whole two years have passed since the day he was born.
Last month I got an email which excited me greatly – I was being asked to be part of Irish Country Magazine’s Women of Ireland 2016 series, in a piece about motherhood and parenting in modern Ireland. Never mind that, there was mention of hair and makeup and getting dolled up for a glam photoshoot – I was sold! It’s now hit the shelves and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
The child will be two on Thursday, full on toddler mode, though on any given day he’s going on 15. He’s become a lot more vocal in the last few weeks, definitely a lot more assertive about what he does and doesn’t want, and knows how to communicate these needs to you. Loudly. Repeatedly. Alongside a chorus of “Mam. Mam. Mam”. Family have been asking for ideas for birthday gifts for him, to which I’ve really been drawing a blank (what do you give the toddler who has a tonne of toys he likely forgets he owns?), but then I started thinking about all the things he’s made sure I know he wants over the last week…
Are you familiar with Paw Patrol? Chances are, if you’ve got a child under the age of five who has been introduced to a television or Netflix account, you’ll at least be familiar with the theme tune. By familiar, I mean it’s stuck on a loop in a part of your brain that nothing else can quite reach to get it out of there (I’ve contemplated bleaching it out. Surely that will work?). For those of you who haven’t become familiar with the show that has taken over our lives as we know them, Paw Patrol is a Canadian animation broadcast in 126 countries, based on the premise of a pack of dogs who, under orders of the questionably aged boy with lots of technology at his disposal, go about saving the rather questionable townspeople from themselves. In our house, the combination of dogs plus fire engines (that would be the aptly named Marshall) was fated to be a winner.
I, like the rest of the Nation, was heartbroken to find out that the series of Room to Improve ended last Sunday night after just four new builds. I’d grown used to watching unsuspecting couples see their homes turn from ordinary, unsuitable for their needs houses to complete money pits with problems up to their ears, and then into magnificent mansions with ALL of the light. He loves a good window, does Dermot Bannon.
The show has gotten me inspired though, as to what kind of things I’d like to have in my dream house. Much as I love our apartment, as modern and insulated as it is, the dream is to have a house with more than two bedrooms, with space to fit everything we own into that doesn’t look like a mess of clutter. Not much to ask for, right? I may have resorted to Pinterest of late, inspired by the huge amounts of light, beautiful mezzanines and kitchens to die for (maybe not the concrete wall though. That’s a step too far). Here’s what I’ve had in mind. (This may have taken up a lot of hours of dreaming about the house that could be. Oh yes, that’s why it’s not exactly gone up on Friday…)
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these – lots has been going on, and without my MacBook handy and ready to go I’ve found it more difficult to get blogging stuff done – much as I love my iPad, it just isn’t the same to work from! Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get sorted out with a replacement but in the meantime, I’ll soldier on with this Bluetooth keyboard! February was a bit of a mad month – we had a very unwell toddler for a few weeks of it, which made life a little bit more difficult and also meant I wound up not doing a few things I’d planned to do. Thankfully he’s on the mend now, so we can get back to normal!
So, what have we been up to and loving lately? Here are my February Little Loves! (more…)
Every day is the same around here, we’ve gotten into somewhat of a routine, dependent on whether or not it’s a crÃ¨che day. This is the kind of thing all the parenting books tell you to do from the second the child’s umbilical cord is cut, and I acknowledge we’re a little late to the game since his second birthday is next month, but I digress. Routine is one word for it, Groundhog Day is another. Every single day I get to bedtime and am relieved when I’m allowed to collapse for it all to start again at the crack of dawn the following morning. You know, if the crack of dawn time is set on the 21st of June like it is in my toddler’s head, and not the darkened sky version of Dawn we’ve had in recent months.
What’s that they say about making plans and the gods laughing at you? I’ve definitely had a few tastes of that over the last few years, and this last week was no exception. See, my blog turned 2 last week and I had been thinking of different things I could do to mark the birthday. Then my toddler decided otherwise, and mid tantrum knocked over a glass of water, onto the table where my MacBook Air, my first baby, was sitting.
The internet is full of lists of absolute essentialswhen it comes to new babies and baby products. From some of those lists, it seems that unless you’re in possession of every one of them, you’re next on a list for child services to be checking out your home. When I was pregnant and newly Mammied up, I read all of these lists. I allowed them to colour my purchasing choices. Jaysus, some of them were diabolical choices.
I did have common sense to avoid some of the “essentials” – take that, tummy tub (it’s a bucket, for crying out loud) – but a lot of them were definitely trial and error and trying to ignore the receipts for the things which just weren’t worth the money or the effort. However, there were some baby products which I absolutely couldn’t have done without, and would recommend to any new parent to make life a million times easier (or, you know, a little bit better) during the early days and up to the toddler years. Here are my top 5 baby products that I couldn’t have done without.
I like things which make as little mess as possible – living with a toddler tends to use up all love for mess makers in one fell swoop. Since having said toddler, quite a lot of time seems to be spent in the kitchen, making copious amounts of tea, preparing snacks for the eternal snacker (but sparrow eater) and trying to figure out different ways to try fit more healthy food into our diets (this one is a work in progress). All those snacks (fruit in particular) and teabags do add up and can make up quite a lot of mess. In fact, since we moved into our new apartment which has a dishwasher, it’s the only part of mealtimes which can really be complained about. Between messy liquids and smelly Â leftovers, if it took more than a day or two to fill the bin, we could be left with some really unpleasant hang-ons until bin day. This was even without having a designated caddy like I’ve had in other houses, which was generally dreaded if the weather got in any way warm. So when I got an email last week asking if I’d like to try out Obeo’s compost bags to see if they’d improve our kitchen fare, I was thrilled to try them out.
Moments that aren’t your proudest as a Mammy? I’ve had a few of those. My most recent being the realisation that the only possible solution to my screaming toddler, in pain, grabbing his ear at 9pm on Sunday night was to shake that bottle of Calpol (like it was a polaroid picture) to get the remaining almost 3ml out of it and praying to all and any gods out there that it would ease his pain and that it wasn’t another blasted ear infection. I wouldn’t mind, but the chemist below my doctors knows us by name and I’ve a strong feeling would nominate me as customer of the month. But, in times of need (and after closing time of any shops or chemists that would sell infant painkillers) it seems that the mountain of bottles of Calpol or Nurofen that we’ve purchased over the last two years has vanished into thin air, leaving only the dregs at the bottom of one bottle, and thankfully (mercy of all mercies) one purple syringe to get the stuff into him.
It’s getting ever closer to the tiny man’s second birthday. The fact that I’ve an almost two year old is stranger to nobody than me. He’s a proper little person now; independent and wild (just a few steps back from feral, we’re doing okay). I’ve been looking back at the earlier update posts which documented my very tiny baby getting very slowly bigger, and it’s like it’s a different child – the time has absolutely flown. I didn’t believe it at the time, but the saying “The days are long but the years are short” is definitely a quote to live by for the infant years. That, and “This too shall pass”. At 22 months, we’re hitting head on into toddler-dom, tantrum first, but it does have a lot of rewarding moments too.
When I was pregnant, I saw a lot of my doctors thanks to my blood pressure and I not getting along. In the later stages of my pregnancy, the words “pre-eclampsia” were bandied about a bit. It was discussed at length as to whether or not specific results that day indicated if I did or didn’t have it, or if it seemed likely I would. Nobody sounded very happy about the possibility so I for sure knew it wasn’t a good thing. However, there was little enough information being sent my way about it which led me to googling what it could possibly mean.
For a pregnant lady whose blood pressure was already high, googling may not have been the best idea. There’s a lot of information out there online. In particular, information in well meaning forums where pregnant women and mothers discuss different symptoms and features of pregnancy, birth and beyond. A lot of this can be misleading, or more frightening than it should be.
So, for the sake of my past self who was terrified of what this diagnosis could mean for me and my baby (thank you Downton Abbey), here is a No Nonsense Intro to Pre-Eclampsia – hopefully if you’re reading this due to a similar Google search, it will allay some of your fears. While it is a very serious condition which can be very dangerous if not managed correctly, it is also key to keep in mind that when it is caught in time, which is the majority of cases in modern Ireland, mother and baby get through it healthily and happily.
Throughout my time writing this blog, I’ve tried to promote events which were on in Cork for parents (and parents to be), things that would make it easier for those of us with kids to get out of the house and meet other people who are in our shoes. I’ve written about Toddler and Parent Mornings in the Library, Cuidiu Coffee Mornings where sanity is regained over a cup of coffee, and random events in between. This time however, I’ve gotten a little bit more involved.
I was thrilled to be approached a little while ago by the organisers of this new Coffee Morning For Mums event, which is being held in a shopping centre not a million miles away from my regular stomping ground, Douglas Court Shopping Centre. From experience I know that being at home with baby/babies can be quite lonely and isolating, and it can be difficult to meet others who are in your shoes too – so when the idea of a coffee morning which will also have informative talks for Mums was mentioned, I thought it was a great idea.
The boy is not yet two, so in my mind, cannot officially enter the terrible twos. He doesn’t care for this lack of decorum and has jumped right in, two feet kicking and a roaring tantrum thrown in for good measure. We are not amused. Toddlerdom has officially kicked in, and we’re getting it in stereo: he’s learning everything new about the world around him, and while some of it is lovely and charming and fun, we’re learning very quickly that LIFE IS HARD WHEN YOU’RE ALMOST TWO.
It is tempting to look at the clock and wonder if realising that it is happy hour somewhere means it’s okay to open the wine at this hour. Damn you toddlerdom.
Have you got a fireman-crazy kid at home? Looking for some bedroom revamp ideas? That’s exactly what I’m up to at the moment – trying to plan a room for my little man that will make him feel like Fireman Sam.
My nineteen month old is OBSESSED with Fireman Sam, or as he refers to it “Nee-Naw”. (Loudly, in public, shouting it out for all to listen to). The theme tune, the characters, every single fire engine he sees, he’s mad about it. It makes sense, since from really early days he has been mad about the colour red. The theme tune is permanently stuck in my head, and I find myself spending too much time thinking about how much easier life in Pontypandy would be if Norman Price was sent to boarding school and other such things, but it keeps him quiet and isn’t half as annoying/questionable as some of the other offerings of Children’s Television these days.
Since we moved house in September, I’ve been meaning to do up his bedroom and make it much more of a little boy room, rather than the adult-based neutral themed boring room. The obvious answer is a Fireman theme – not necessarily Fireman Sam, as that can get dated quickly and add expense to a theme which can be put together in a less costly and more creative way. I’ve been eyeing up little bits which I think would pull together a room which he would adore (and hopefully want to sleep in). (more…)
Ah, soft play areas, savers of sanity (most of the time). When you are accompanied by a tiny human who finds fantastic enjoyment from flinging themselves around in ball pits, on foam mats and generally tangled up in things, it makes sense to veer towards the large padded area on a rainy Friday morning. Unlike me, however, you should always stop off at a coffee shop first – for the insurance policy against the sanity loss soft play can bring before caffeination occurs.