Friday, October 26, 2012


5 senses tour 
It's been a while since I wrote Joy Pockets on a Friday. Due to popular demand, the Blog sisters are bringing them back.  
Here's what I'm grateful for this week..

A night away in a hotel without the kids
A pint of Guinness (or two) in the afternoon
Getting my life back in small doses of fun - and being more organised
Buying myself a pair of rollerblades - having a midlife crisis at 40?

 A fabulous coven of local creative friends working together on the Artist's Way

A midweek dip with my creative group in the Atlantic sea
Halloween parties - big smiles at my daughter's playschool this morning as everyone dressed up as witches

My eldest enjoying school, learning letters and making new friends (playdate today)

My 17-month-old's sleep-talking, saying 'tractor' perfectly in his sleep

Doing something about my post-pregnancy thinned hair (expensive pills but if it works I'll blog about it)
Entering competitions -  hope I win something

Wearing new boots with a block heel. Wow I feel tall!


Linking up with Monica at Holistic Mama

Friday, October 19, 2012


I am loving the audacious 20metre high naked statute of a pregnant woman that appeared on a pier in Ilfracome this week. 

It's honest, it's brave, she wields a sword towards incoming ships, she's just so out there - in more ways that just being naked. Half of her body is missing skin so you can see the insides below.

The sleepy north Devon town of 20,000 people has suddenly woken up and been put on the world map. 

Yet they grump and growl and say it is "a bit Hannibal Lecter-ish" or "obscene". I even heard one woman on the news saying: "There's enough pregnant woman here already, we don't need to look at another one". 

These people are laughable. I forget they are real. I just don't come across them any more, thankfully. These insular-minded stereotypes are surely just over-exaggerated soap characters right? Nope, they're real. 

Watching the news from Ilfracome was comedy. I was left wondering why these sad people can't see beyond their negative programming to appreciate bold art?

Verity, as she's called for all her naked truth, is beautiful. I'm not normally a fan of the attention-seeking Damien Hirst but I love this. 

Is it just because she is a strong female icon out to shock the old fogies of deepest darkest middle England that they're so upset?

"Oh I'm a Middle Englander and I can't bear nudity"

How sad. 

In my misspent youth I used to work for a newspaper who targeted the Middle Englander - it took me years to work out WHO that was exactly: a rare breed of right wing, head in the sand, ignorant, suspicious of change, bigoted, not in my back yard miserable old sod.

It was only when I received a letter from a racist who stated the letter, "As a middle Englander..." that I decided I couldn't work there any more. 

Here's what that particular paper said of the statue this week [link to bile] (ps, don't click on link unless you want to hear the most negative bit of reporting ever).
Personally, I would love to have Verity stand proud on the pier that my house overlooks. Sadly it's not. 

You would think that the people of Devon would be delighted to have such a massive tourist attraction. People are going to flock from all over the world to see it. It's going to put the town on the map once and for all. 

Give it 10 years and they'll all have changed their minds. See how much people hated the Olympics 2012 logo when it was first revealed, then suddenly they loved in six years later during London 2012. And what about the Princess Diana water memorial in Hyde Park launched to massive ridicule - yet it was thronged with people when I walked passed it in the summer. 

So be gone, you boring Middle Englanders, open yourself up to truth. Open your minds, you might just be pleasantly surprised by the loveliness that lurks under there. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


I've always believed girls were easier than boys based on the rather one dimensional example of my sweet little girl.

My boys, for some strange reason, didn't love to spend hours cuddling up with mummy or doing quiet girly things together, instead they preferred to run away from me, climb, destroy everything and hit everyone. 

I understood my little girl. We were girls together. She was so grounded and self-assured. A whole complete thoughtful little package. We shared common parts and hormones. 

Or so I thought. 

Until now. 

Before my poor startled fearful eyes, in the last six months, since about two months before she turned 3, she morphed into Mariah Carey. 

Not in the singing stakes (phew), nor the looks, but in the Diva-like tantrum whirlwinds that just destroy me, emotionally, psychologically and physically. 

They erupt from anywhere, over nothing, and they hit you like a tornado, powerful, uncompromising, unsettling, taking everyone in their wake. 

So from the happiest, easiest child in the house, she has become the moodiest and hardest. I guess it had to happen sooner or later. 

But living with Mariah was not on my agenda. 

I read recently that Mariah has a "staircase assistant" whose job it is to test that stairs are safe to walk down in heels and an assistant who stands around just holding her towels. 

I know how the poor assistants feel, beholden to a Diva's every whim, hoping she'll go easy on me just this once, worried where the next volcanic eruption will come from. My Diva's demands are getting even more unreasonable - and I'm demented by the whole thing. 

I've finally come to agree with what everyone says: "Girls wreck your head, boys wreck your home."

Mornings are the worst. I have to take Thyroid pills in the morning to enable me to have the energy to get out of bed - mornings are a slow waking up process for me and I get frazzled by noise. Thanks to Tegan, as soon as I wake up I am screamed at. It's constant at the moment - from what to wear, every bit of getting dressed, not waiting for her to come downstairs together, not having the right shoes to wear, not being given the right breakfast, should daddy dare to be around to want to drop her to playschool, to refusing to sit in her car seat and asking her to wear a coat and shoes outside. 

Mealtimes are a nightmare as she refuses to eat anything that has nutritional value. There's several high-pitched 10-minute kicking-on-the-floor strops a day over ice-scream and lollypops. I try not to cave in, but that just makes it worse, she gets so volatile. I have to try to calm her down and then negotiate a compromise that involves a lesser evil and maybe some fruit first.

But bedtime is the worst time of all. She hates sleep. She won't fall asleep unless someone is cuddled next to her. This can take about an hour - and sadly I'm not able to do this every night as there's 2 other little ones to get to bed too, and I've plenty to catch up with myself. She keeps coming downstairs, we put her back to bed, often this has reached 11pm at night, which means all of us are very grumpy the next morning. 

I'm still recovering after her most recent flare up. A full-blown tornado over a pencil her brother was using for his homework that has left me fragile and raw. She has bounced back but is still not talking to me after telling me she didn't like me over and over. 

We tell ourselves it's just a phase. She's going through a big emotional time, starting playschool, making new friends, seeing herself as a separate person, testing the boundaries, building her self-esteem. 

But it's such a huge challenge. 

I try to zone out, ignore it, take deep breaths and not roll my eyes nor react. But it's hard. She wants me to react; to take her seriously, to give her my full attention, she needs to be louder and more demanding than the boys right now.

This is new unchartered territory for me - because my hurricane first born child got easier after he turned 3, and now he's nearly 5 he's calming down more and starting to listen (more than he used to anyway). This week in school he got "healthy eater of the week" and I couldn't be more proud.

So I have no answers, just hopes, that she will grow out of this testing phase a happy, contented, fully-functioning amazing little girl. 

Be gone Mariah! 


I don't think my nerves can take anymore. 

[Disclaimer, I love my little girl dearly but sometimes mums just need to huff and puff to blow away their frustrations]

Thursday, October 11, 2012


There were TEN in the bed and the little one said: "Oi, get your hands off our money!"

Ten mums who represent Irish Parenting Bloggers have launched a campaign to tell the Government how hacked off we are at the miserable suggestion that child benefit is to be cut in the next budget. So in response, we’re staging a...

We have taken turns to publish one blog post each day over ten days to appeal to the Government to ditch this far-reaching strategy or face the wrath of mums across Ireland. You ain't see nothing yet until you've pissed off a cacophony of mums Enda!

Today is my turn to post:


When I had my first child five years ago I remember thinking "Yay €150 a month in child benefit". Quid's in!

We weren't strapped for cash at the time and babies are very cheap apart from nappies so we were able to put it all straight into a savings account and even imagined that by the time our wee fella went to college he would have €32,500 in his savings. 


Er, not quite.

Fast forward five years and there's very little of it saved. The €140 a month, as it is now, has been swallowed up by our rising living costs. We have two more kids now - I'm an unwaged full time mum of 3 - my husband kills himself trying to cover our living costs yet we always end up using the credit card at the end of the month. Life here in Ireland is very expensive.

SO here's a message for the Ministers thinking of taking away our last remaining lifeline... Kids cost a fortune. 

The hidden cost of kids include: 
School books & photocopying charges
Voluntary contributions to schools/playschools
School uniforms/bag/lunchbox (€100 a year per child)
Other kids bday parties' presents (necessary evil)
Entertainment (DVDs, toys, day trips)
Doctors and dentist charges
Prescription charges
After school activities (free in UK schools)
Swimming lessons (free in UK schools)

I know this is nothing compared to what it will cost to run kids when they're all at school. Because running kids is like running banks. They're unpredictable, hot-headed, they spend all your money and they never say thanks. If the banks got Government money, then why can't kids? 

Here's the thing, as the little people get older, that's when they drain you of money. I've noticed we have a lot less money now than a few years ago. I've noticed that I'm now using the child benefit every month to cover our bills, rather than saving it. I've noticed that money is the tightest it's ever been. 

So the idea by the Government to slowly take away our child benefit is a travesty that will bleed us dry. 

In the UK where I grew up, schools are paid for by the Government - parents don't have to fork out hundreds every year for photocopying or books like here. I only have one child in school so far - so thankfully we only had to pay a modest €310 this year. I dread to think what I'll be forced to pay when all 3 of them are in school - and child benefit is slashed back to 1980s levels.

Granted, the child benefit in the UK is lower, but healthcare there is totally free for kids. Here it's adult prices if a kid needs to go to doctor (€50 a visit) or dentist - and the cost of prescriptions are bonkers. 

Luckily, I've never had to take any of my kids to hospital but I fear the hidden cost of illness and accidents.

Furthermore, the cost of living here is
exorbitant. Car tax anyone? In the UK, I was paying £100 a year on my car tax, over here the same car somehow cost €390 to tax.

Food is so much more expensive. We only have little eaters at the moment, but somehow we are spending at least €120 a week on food. We don't have takeaways or treats and I never throw anything away. 

I don't buy clothes for myself - I hosted a swap party the other night for friends. We swapped all our old clothes and I got my wardrobe for the next 6 months sorted. It's the only way to "shop" when money is tight. Most of the kids clothes and the baby paraphernalia are hand-me-downs.

We don't even go to the hairdressers. I've learned to cut everyone's hair and I get my mum or my sister-in-law to cut my hair.

As far as I'm concerned, child benefit is not actually child benefit. Because that would imply a gift, something the government is doing as a favour to us. Is that why they changed the name a few years ago, from the Children's Allowance? 

No, the Children's Allowance is our God given right as parents to children who are this country's future. I moved here after I married an Irish man, we chose to live here in east Cork because we love it so much but we live in a small end-terrace that will never again reach the amount it was bought for 6 years ago.

I look enviously at other families who live in big houses with big gardens and think how much happier we would be as a family if we had more space - how the screaming wouldn't bother me so much if I could escape to another room downstairs. But we can't move. It's too expensive. 

Since I've lived here I've had 3 children. Three little Irish children with Irish passports that will one day contribute greatly to the economy, because Mr Enda Kenny, I'm raising captains of industry, athletes that will win Gold medals for Ireland and musicians that will blow Bono out of the stadium. 

There is very little joy in this country at the moment. Very little hope for the future. The kids are our future, so don't destroy their chance to keep their heads above water. 

Because if these cuts to child benefit happen, you're taking away every basic entitlement a child has. 

And you're going to piss off a lot of mums. 

And yes, it is true, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.


Please check out the previous and the next posts...

Day 1: The Irish Rhymes - Child Benefit Stole My Child’s Allowance

Day 2: The Clothesline – Stuck in the Middle – No to Child Benefit Cuts

Day 3: Mind The Baby - Leave Child Benefit Alone

Day 4: Dreaming Aloud - Down to the Bare Bones - Cutting (the fat of) Child Benefit

Day 5: The Daily Muttering

Day 6: Kate Take 5

Day 7: Wholesome Ireland

Day 8: Ouch My Fanny Hurts

Day 9: Wonderful Wagon

Day 10:

The BlogMarch continues tomorrow at Kate Takes 5

10 posts over 10 days from 10 members of The Irish Parenting Bloggers group. Follow us on Facebook.

If you’d like to lend your support, you can sign the online petition here.

You can also share your thoughts with us on Twitter at #BlogMarch.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


I got to hold a newborn baby yesterday, a sleepy, floppy, delicate beautiful little boy. 

Today two of my kids sustained minor head injuries, leaving them with massive purple bumps covering their entire foreheads.

Meanwhile the news is filled with a disappearance of a gorgeous little girl in Wales who is now presumed dead. 

How precious life is - and how we take it for granted. 

My kids make a lot of noise, especially when they're injured.

And sometimes I roll my eyes at their screaming, trying to distract them when I can't soothe their pain, hoping their hollering will stop so I can keep going. 

And today, I've kept going, with a ton of things to get done and dinner to cook for 8 people. 

But now I need to stop. My head is full of the pain of others and I need to mind myself too.

Why do we fill our lives with so much, carrying on because we feel we have to, and not giving the kids what they want? Our full attention and love?

I'm feeling guilty because I shouted at my eldest boy this morning when I told him NOT to pour from a freshly opened 2 litre of milk. He didn't listen and spilled it all over the floor. A swimming pool of milk covered my entire kitchen. I shouted, he cried, massive clean up job at 8.30am. Bad mummy. 

Yes I know, there's no point in crying over spilled milk. But we did!

I don't know what the answer is, but I know that right now, I need to switch off the laptop and go and sit with my kids and give them all big cuddles. 

They've all had emotional days - and I'm feeling quite frazzled too.