Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hot Cross Mum

The first week of last September was a landmark one for me for a number of reasons.
My daughter started school and I reluctantly went to my first parents coffee morning.
I had been dreading it.  I felt low and inadequate.
There I was, in the restaurant, gripping my son as though I was afraid someone would steal him, his sister had run off to primary school just two days earlier after all and I was delicate.
I eyed the table and the introductions started.  As I scrambled to remember names I was sure I would be tested on later, a voice said “and I’m sure you know Hazel Gaynor, she’s Hot Cross Mum”.
Well, relief flooded through me as I turned to the lady whose blog I had been following for months and whose commentary on her own life had made me realise I am not alone in my job as a stay at home parent.
I was delighted to meet her, but what the hell was she doing at a coffee morning with a blog to write? Surely it takes every spare ounce of energy she has to pull it together week after week.  Making me feel better about the things that convince me I'm a few sandwiches short of a picnic on a daily basis.  Like bursting into tears because someone said something mean to one of my children, or speaking in a welsh accent after an overdose of Fireman Sam.
After meeting another writer at the table, Jane Travers, I decided what the heck and I told these women how I had wanted to go back to writing for years but wasn’t quite sure how.
Jane took me in hand, told me I must join Twitter, talk to other writers, expand my horizons and when it came to actually writing, just bloody do it.  She’s not one to mince her words that Jane.
My old brain began to churn and think about stuff other than nappies, laundry, dinner and the sexual tension on Balamory and on Sept 16th last, I launched my own blog.
Now, two years into her own journey as a blogger, Hazel has launched her first book.  Based on her blog with lots of extra bits, it's fittingly called "Hot Cross Mum, Bitesize Slices of Motherhood".
In a nutshell, it’s a gem of a book.
Hazel just gets it.  She’s a parent who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is without ever once doing a disservice to the two most important people for whom she does it all – her boys.
Using humour to soften the blows of the reality of day to day life as a stay at home Mum, Hazel has created a must read for all parents, everywhere.  Whether you're at home all the time or on the train to work every morning.
I guarantee you will laugh, you may also shed a tear, but you won't be sorry you read it.  She's also a big advocate of a Dirty G&T, but you can’t blame the woman, she’s up to her eyes.  If you don’t know what that is, you’ll have to read her book to find out.
Buy Hazel Gaynor’s Hot Cross Mum for Kindle on Amazon by following this link: Hot Cross Mum: Bitesize Slices of Motherhood

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Listography - My Top 5 Sweets

I can’t remember the name of my first school teacher, but I remember the first shop I bought sweets in, it belonged to the Lowry family whose daughter was in my class.
One day playing in their house, which was actually behind and above the shop, her mother gave us 5 pence each so we could go into the shop and buy some sweets.  Mrs Lowry wore one of those proper cover all aprons, it was brown, secured with two round buttons on her shoulders and had a big pocket on the front.
I was four at the most and mesmerized.
It was 1975 so you could still get halfpenny sweets.  I may not have been paying too much attention at school but I managed to figure out that the little copper coin gripped tightly in my chubby hand had the potential to get me between 5 and 10 sweets.
To this day, I remember exactly what I bought:
1.       2 aniseed balls, the little red ones that lasted ages.
2.      2 flogs – yellow and pink swirls of yumminess.
3.      1 liquorice lace – red, not black, I can’t remember if they tasted better, but they looked fabulous.
4.      A blackjack - I’ve always been a sucker for chewy liquorice.
5.      A fizzle stick – yellow of course, it’s a classic and should be brought back dammit.
Now I cannot say that these are my final list of favourite sweets, because I had not yet discovered the wonder that is the cola cube, but they hold a special place in my heart from my first venture into a sweet shop as a paying customer.
We moved a year later and I didn’t get to go to Lowry’s very often again, but I did discover a proper sweet shop in our new town. 
Mrs Dobbins, the little blue wooden shop at the bottom of the hill.  It had a high wooden counter and a glass panel to lean against and stare in the sugary wonderland.  There was a shelf behind the counter with jar after jar of what we called grown up sweets, because they had wrappers and you had to buy them by the quarter pound.  This was where I fell in love with the Ten Penny Mix.  It came in a little brown bag and I didn’t know what I would get until I opened it.
At the ripe old age of ten, we moved house again and the sweet shop of choice for me in our new home was Mrs Brennans.  The kids around town called it Minnie Brennans, I still don’t know if that was her real name or a nickname, she was quite short.
This is where I discovered cola cubes, my love for which has endured and surpassed my Morten Harket obsession of 1986.
The idea for this list came from the one and only Kate Takes 5 - a great blogger and a lovely person too.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Go Team!

Jonathan Griffin holds the Flame of Hope with Garda Síochána Deputy Commissioner Nacie Rice & Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland PSNI

My last blog post was quite emotional and blue, I wrote it in the early hours after a long day obsessively watching the events unfold in Japan and felt so sad.  I was on a bit of a downer to be honest and felt guilty that the only bright side of what I wrote about benefited me and my family.
Then along came Sunday morning and I got to see something great which reminded me of the fact that no matter what awfulness happens in life, there’s always something wonderful happening somewhere else.
You know that thing that gets us up in the morning with hope in our hearts.
The something wonderful I got to witness was the launch of Special Olympics Team Ireland at the Convention Centre in Dublin on Sunday morning.
The 126 athletes, who will be representing Ireland in Athens this summer, took to the stage in a whirlwind of cheers, clapping & foot stomping to the Black Eyed Peas song I Gotta Feeling, to launch the beginning of something truly great.
It was moving, in a proper, well up, lump in your throat kind of way.
They were all honest, happy, real people up there delighted to be getting a chance to try their best at something they love doing.
How great is that?  To use one of my favourite phrases – I was gob smacked!
I felt honoured and proud to witness such a positive, fun and exhilarating event.  Not just because the athletes are my own country men and women, but because they are amazing.
From 25th June to 4th July this year, these athletes will compete in 12 sports along with almost 7,500 other athletes from every corner of the world.

The Special Olympics athletes oath is:
“Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”
With that amazing thought in mind, I encourage you to support the Special Olympics this summer and cheer everyone along; it’s going to be wonderful.
Watch their progress on their web site at Special Olymnpics Athens
Follow on Twitter at Speicial Olympics Ireland
Follow on Facebook at Special Olympics Ireland

Thanks to Bernie & Linda of Special Olympics Ireland for their help in this post.
Picture reproduced by kind permission of Special Olympics Ireland

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Safe and Sound

When I awoke Friday to a drizzly cold grey morning, I felt tired, grumpy and a little overwhelmed by my never ending list of things I need to do but rarely get to the end of.
It was supposed to be spring, but I was cold and miserable, there was no time for breakfast before the school run and the house needed a good clean.
I lost patience with my daughter’s experimental dress sense.  She is five and a half and went out the door looking like a finger painting set had exploded all over her.
Basically, I was a moaning, whiney, pain in the backside.
We get quite a bit of rain where we live, we see a lot of clouds, but our general air temperatures are middle of the road.
My whole life, I along with most of my country men and women have complained about rainy summers and grey days.
Little did I know that by bed time Friday night, I would be so grateful to live in such a gentle little corner of the Earth.
The fact that my husband and I can give our children a home in a place where the simple geography and elements pose little or no threat to the fabric of our lives is the most fortunate piece of luck I’ve ever known.
It wasn’t by design; we simply made our home within 50 kilometres of where we were both born, so I guess we can thank our parents, our grandparents and so on in our genealogy.
With the rest of the world, I watched open mouthed as the events in Japan unfolded from early Friday morning through the day and deep into the night.
Beyond belief, it seemed worse twenty four hours later with the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, reports of literally thousands of people unaccounted for and yet more footage of horrors too awful to take in completely.
Watching the walking wounded wander shocked and lost through a barren wasteland that has simply been flattened, it seemed too incredible that this could happen in real life.
People just like us, 30 and 40 somethings with kids, jobs, mortgage, car loans etc. 
Hollywood would struggle to create special effects to match the shockwave these images sent rippling across the world.
It’s no surprise that nature is both wonderful and terrible all at once but never has it been more evident to me.
Our quiet life in our little village has become all the more precious. 
Tucking my kids into their beds safe and sound tonight the fact that we live in a country where so little happens is something I am so very grateful for.
My thoughts are with all the people in Japan struggling with the tragedy that has afflicted them so cruelly and unfairly.
Their dignity and calm in the face of all that has happened is remarkable.
Hopefully someday soon, they too can sleep safe and sound.

Monday, 7 March 2011

My Kitchen's a Mess

I’ve got 25 minutes before work.
My kitchen is a mess.
There are strange sticky marks on the sitting room floor.
There’s toothpaste all over the bathroom sink.
There’s an odd smell coming from the press in the corner of the kitchen.
There’s a mountain of laundry to be done.
I somehow spilled coffee on my hair.
My son has just dragged a large basket of little cars into the already messy kitchen and upended it on the floor.
I got a nee naw (police car) right on that funny little bone on your ankle that makes your tummy feel funny, but not in a good way, when it’s hit and Lightening McQueen is upside down in the cat’s water bowl.
The cat is thirsty and won’t touch water with Lightening McQueen in it, because in fairness, she has no idea where else that car has been.
I’m just sitting here blogging.
I could care less.
The kids are healthy, my other half and I are healthy. Our parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews are healthy and even my 93 year old grandmother is doing ok.
So who cares if the kitchen is a mess?
Not I.
I will give the cat fresh water though, she will appreciate it and I can’t be a complete lazy lump can I?
Happy Monday everybody.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

White Rabbits

Spring has apparently sprung, although it didn’t feel like it at 8am this morning when I was adding layer upon layer to my daughter to send her to school.  She waddled up the road for her lift with our neighbour looking like a little pink onion.  It took all I had not to laugh when she dropped her glove and had to make a few attempts to bend over to pick it up; such was the level of layering.
She has been sick for most of the month of February; a couple of weeks into the month, her brother joined in and we may as well have set up a direct debit from our bank account to the family doctor’s office. 
Adding to that my immense stupidity at Googling their symptoms which multiplied normal parental anxiety tenfold and by yesterday, I was glad to kiss February goodbye.
I am however, going to take a moment to brag now, because I really feel I should. 
My daughter has to be one of, if not the best patient on the planet.  She does not complain, she does not whinge, she does not demand, at worst, she simply lies there silent and pale, insisting she just feels a little bit sick. 
All this in spite of tonsillitis and strep throat which created awful blisters that burst sending something foul down to her little tummy which was then thrown up.  Then, a tummy bug, followed by a double ear infection. Two separate courses of anti-biotic and missing out on all the fun during mid-term break. 
Yesterday was her first day back at school and the children were getting boosters for their vaccinations, as my little one was still on the last batch of anti-biotic, we refused them for now.  She told me last night she felt bad for the nurses who have to come all the way back to her school to give her the booster when she’s all better.  My heart nearly burst with a mix of love, pride and bewilderment.
Why wouldn’t I brag?
As for her brother, well, he’s more like his Dad and I, we like to whinge and moan.  Coughing loudly and using tissue after tissue.  Not changing channels on the television because it’s just too exhausting.  Milking any attention for all it’s worth.  That kind of carry on is cathartic for our kind, so our daughter is truly a thing of wonder to us.
Anyway, a new month means a new leaf turned over today.  The children are healthier, the days are longer and we’ve all had some proper sleep.
So come on spring, get on with the warmer temperatures and bright afternoons, we’re more than ready for it.
White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits.