Wednesday, January 30, 2013


It's a long time since I went to a luxury spa and wrote a review. Back in my heyday when I worked in newspapers, free invitations to go to 5* spas in Cyprus used to be a welcome perk of my job. How lucky I was.

Ahhh how I loved those jobs...

Fast forward six years and I'm a stay-at-home mum-of-3 writing for the sake of saving my sanity and trying to get back into journalism.

Before Christmas I went with some friends to the wonderful Castlemartyr Resort in east Cork. Even though it's only 20 minutes down the road from me, I'd never set foot in the place before.

The occasion was my friend's 40th, so we decided to treat her and ourselves to an afternoon of rare pampering.

These are my feelings about the place:

It definitely has the wow factor. Immediately you know that you are in for a pampering (yippie) as you are shown into luxury rooms with top quality furnishings, lighting and fittings.

Old world charm with modern classical design. A beautiful marbled glass wall in the relaxation suite and huge windows looking out onto peaceful gardens. The hydrotherapy jacuzzi is like a small infinity pool next to the biggest glass windows I've ever seen so the effect is one of awe as you gaze outside whilst your muscle are being soothed.

Top-notch. The effect of the place is upper class but I was a bit confused by the lack of space. There doesn't appear to be a changing room for the spa. We were shown into a small locker area next to a sink and hairdrying area. This was very tight for four of us to get undressed into our robes whilst someone else was sitting down drying their hair. 

There was only one toilet also, which meant we had to keep the massage therapists waiting because we all needed to go at once!

The pool is not integrated into the spa, so if you want to go into the pool after your treatment then you have to walk in your robe downstairs, past the spa reception and through to the pool area. We thought this was too much of a faff; when you're relaxing, you're relaxing, and you want things to be right next to each other, not a long walk away. Instead we used the hydropool and sauna (but not the steam room because this wasn't working).

Sounds silly, but I LOVED the posh Java Republic tea bags they offer in the relaxation suite where we hung out for hours after our massages. We were probably only supposed to stay in there for one cup of tea, but what happens when you put four women with ordinarily 11 kids between them in a room full of posh tea, fruit and no kids, give them a wonderful massage and then tell them to laze around on beds? Yep, we'll move in for the whole day.

The staff were very nice not to say anything to hurry us along, and somehow must have delicately located the women who had massages after us in a secret overspill suite - I wonder if it had a changing room and another toilet in there?

Yep, we made a day of it, finishing up by having afternoon tea - I don't think you can use crude words like 'lunch' in the Castlemartyr hotel. Champagne and high tea and neat little BLT sandwiches. Yummy. I felt like a whole different person after my day; calm, happy, grounded, and delighted to have had time off from my kids. Oh if only I could afford to do this more often.

It's not cheap - I think I paid E70 for a simple back massage (the cheapest they had on offer), but it gets you into the spa for the afternoon where you can cocoon yourself in the luxury of grown up conversation and not having to give out to the kids for a few hours. Bliss.


Friday, January 25, 2013


I'm baffled by a recent event that happened in a group I'm involved in on Facebook. 

A woman told us her story of how she had given birth to a 22 weeks premature baby and posted a pic of baby Matthew. 

She received an outpouring of sympathy from her online sisters who said Matthew was in their prayers and offered unlimited support and help. 

She updated us regularly of his progress, thanking us for our kind words. 

The she said he had passed away - to which the deluge of sympathy and kindness was overwhelming. Hundreds of messages of condolence were posted with many people deeply affected by this loss. 

Then suddenly, when I mentioned it today to a friend, I discovered it wasn't true: "it was a scam" my friend told me. 

I've been in shock ever since. Why?? What?? That's just not right is it? What was the person hoping to achieve? It seems like a sick thing to do!

I'm left wondering about the girl...

I've heard of girls pretending to be pregnant because of the mental and social rewards they get - and the craving for attention, but pretending to have a premature baby and leading everybody on and getting them hooked on the story before hitting us with grief, is just beyond belief. My heart goes out to the girl who did this - because this behaviour is surely a sign of mental illness and clearly she needs someone to reach out and help her. 

Her Facebook page has since disappeared. 

The people who run the group have been left a little bruised by this story and all of us who were moved by Matthew's plight are left feeling a bit bewildered. 

I had to share this story as I'm just baffled. Have I said already how baffled I am?!
I wonder if anyone has experienced anything like this before?

And whether we can do anything to help?

Monday, January 21, 2013


I AM ONE TODAY. Happy birthday to me.

The Daily Muttering spluttered into the online world a year ago with this post. Gasping for Air

HOURAY FOR ME. I did it!

In a year, thanks to this blog, I've found a missing part of my voice, grown in confidence, started writing articles for newspapers again, started to manage the chaos of my life better, found an outlet for my frustrations with the kids (this blog) and cleared my head of the madness that threatened to consume it this time last year. 

What a year it's been as I've resurrected myself from the ashes of motherhood. 

A lot more work is still needed, but it's a brilliant start, and I'm thrilled. 

Over Christmas when I was too tired and busy to update the blog, I questioned whether I would continue it. What was the point of it? Who was I writing it for? 

I decided that even though I don't have the time to update it every day (yet I still love the name Daily Muttering) I needed it as therapy, as a way of understanding myself better. I needed to keep writing. 

Today I am celebrating the journey I've experienced in my first year of blogging. I don't feel ready to look back over my blog posts yet, but one day I will, I'm sure. And I'll cherish these mama mutterings as beautiful souvenirs of my misadventures in motherhood. 

In all that time I've had 13,499 page views, which seems like loads to me, so thank you everyone for visiting, reading and supporting me in my endeavours to regain a lost part of me. 

By far my most popular post was HANDS OFF MY CHILDREN'S ALLOWANCE which netted 669 views, so hurray for the collective power of the BlogMarch. Second-up, much to my delight, was my post about turning 40 LIFE BEGINS.... which attracted 355 readers.

I'm just getting my head around stats - and realising that many bloggers get thousands of visitors every day and make money from advertising on the site. Maybe this year I might try to look at earning more than nada, zilch, zero from my blog - cos I'm totally skint these days! Um, is anyone able to give me advice on this please?

Being a stay at home mum is hard. You need resources and support - I found a delightful world of support online, from all corners of the world. In the Irish Parenting Bloggers group I found a community that makes me laugh on a daily basis. Via Facebook I connected with old and new friends who found something they liked in my writing. And I learnt how to use Twitter to promote my blog (I think). 

I end my first year wondering what the future will bring. I've just started a hardcore training course to be an antenatal teacher, my eldest child turned 5 yesterday, I have articles in my head but I need time to write them, I want to get back to painting, my youngest (20 months old) is a joy as he masters everything he tries, and my family have health and good cheer.

Is it too early to crack open the champers - on my lonesome at home at 12.47pm? 

Friday, January 18, 2013


It's hard to be a parent. You become obsessed with sleep and having a break from them in order to be able to think straight... Your words get muddled and all the good intentions fly out of the window during times of stress.

It's so hard to keep your cool when there's a few of them snapping at your heels. I find myself raising my voice and saying negative things at them in frustration.

Clearing out an old email 'drafts' folder earlier I found 10 Phrases to Make a Better Parent. I can't remember where it's from, so I can't share the source sorry, but I wanted to share the tips at least...

A guide to: how to talk to your kids better. I think I need to print it out and stick it somewhere I can read it every day. I need to re-programme my brain and stop saying the wrong things!!

10 Phrases to Make a Better Parent:

INSTEAD OF: You are a naughty boy.
TRY: What did you learn from this? What can you try next time?

INSTEAD OF: Hurry Up! We're late!
TRY: It’s okay. Take the time you need... Next time, leave more time to get ready!

INSTEAD OF: Oh no! What have you have done!
TRY: It really won’t matter five years from now! I will show you how to fix this.

INSTEAD OF: You need to...
TRY: I need you to...

INSTEAD OF: Because I said so!
TRY: I’ll explain my reasoning in five minutes when I’m not distracted so much.

INSTEAD OF: Stop that tantrum right now!
TRY: You feel frustrated and angry. Can I give you a hug?

INSTEAD OF: Stop crying.
TRY: It’s OK to cry and feel your feelings. Want a hug?

TRY: I can see you really want that but I can’t provide it right now.

INSTEAD OF: You’ve wrecked my...
TRY: I’m really angry right now. I need to take a timeout.

INSTEAD OF: Stop doing that!
TRY: Would you consider this?

INSTEAD OF: Go play and leave me alone.
TRY: I love you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


NEARLY HALF of the food in the world is thrown away uneaten!

Food waste 
Now call me tight, but I never throw anything away. Freezing means everything is extended much longer than their sell-by dates and I always miraculously find a recipe that includes everything about to go off in the fridge
We can't afford to waste food. I'm shocked that so many people do.  Apparently it's because they're not able to tell for themselves if the food is good to eat - they can only read a sell-by-date label.
Here are my utterly ground-breaking tips for dunderheads...
USE your common sense - if it smells bad, chuck it. It's if normal, eat it.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

SO IT'S 2013...

I was trying to write a blog post all over Christmas and new year.

I failed because the kids were around constantly. Or when my husband was home I felt we should do 'family' things together. 

I failed because I went very internal and hibernated in my own head. I didn't want to do anything other than dumb down and watch inane movies on TV. 

Sound familiar?

My brain feels suitably dead going into this new year.

A new year that is supposed to bring me success as I get back on my feet to work again. On a good day, the baby doesn't need me so much and the other two are in school/playschool every morning.

2012 was a year characterised by the kids outshouting me in the household with the noise levels reaching a point where my ears ring all the time now. 
It was the year when chaos reined in our household - yet I learned to embrace it... sometimes... [See Embracing The Chaos]
Other times, I still yearn to curl up into a ball and hide away from their wildness. It still gets overwhelming, at times, having three very loud and lively kids.

That's what it was like over Christmas - when everyone disappeared into internal family walls and my normal social supports weren't available. Home alone, husband working, no school to stimulate the kids, long wet days of just me and 3 buzzing kids in our small house. Argh!!

I have to raise my energy.

New year, new exercise regime... If only it wasn't so wet, so dark early, too many things to do, kids holding me back, excuses, excuses....

But one New Year's Resolution was reached last night: I went to a Toastmasters meeting. My intention for this year is to build a new sort of confidence in myself. To conquer my fear of public speaking, to connect my brain to mouth and to not be afraid of what other people think of me and my spoken words.

I don't know why I go to jelly when I'm speaking in front of more than one person, why my mouth dries up and why I'm suddenly not able to remember anything, but I do. And I always have done.

Years ago when I was working in London as a journalist, I would be asked to go on panels, radio or TV as an expert commentator. I reluctantly said yes to a few of them, thinking that the confidence I managed to adopt when I was interviewing people would carry me, but it didn't. The experience had me shaking with fear, petrified like a rabbit in the headlights, I stumbled, my voice went shaky and I couldn't even remember who I was. 

It still haunts me to this day and I still can't listen to my voice when it's recorded.
This fear held me back. I would avoid media exposure roles after this. Eventually I left London and national newspapers behind when I moved to Ireland to start a family, but it's always been something that I wanted to overcome. 

Motherhood has given me more confidence in myself, but I still can't connect my thinking brain to my mouth in matters of talking about myself or telling stories. Years of being shy and introspective as a child still linger, despite an outward persona of being confident and open. 

I was a shy child

So I'm on a mission to change this. At 40 years of age, I'm trying to re-set the foundations of me that don't function anymore and redefine myself as someone who CAN do things. Who CAN do anything

I like being 40. It's liberating. It's giving me permission to reinvent myself and be young again, to live again, after the five hardest years of my life making babies. 

Watch out world, here I come....

But seriously, this is what the blog is all about. It's about typing and not knowing what I'm thinking until it's been typed and appeared as a stream of consciousness on the screen. I'm good at connecting brain to hand - and just typing until I find some kind of sense in my thoughts. It's about giving my brain space to think and download, so that I can clear the decks for other important things. 

If I can learn to public speak, then that flow might extend to brain to mouth, without all the need to write it down in the middle. 

Does this make sense?

I've been questioning recently the point of my blog. The external versus the internal. Whether anybody is reading or cares about what I'm saying. The danger in revealing too much. The dirty laundry appearing in public. The kids becoming public property.  

There is a fine line between the personal and the private in all these days, especially with everybody Twittering on. I aim to keep that boundary between the personal and the private. But I also need to discover myself in my blog - and I'll only do that by being honest and writing regularly.  

So it's Back to the blog for me. Back to life. Back to trying to be more external because it's better that way. 

I am not an island. I am woman and I have a voice. 

And this year I'm going to learn to use it.

Will I blossom?