Monthly Archives

July 2015

Family, Motherhood

Potty Training Blues (Browns)

July 20, 2015

Here we go again… potty training for the third and definitely final time; two words that strike terror and apprehension into any parent’s heart. I am remaining positive and dreaming of a new carpet (very necessary) and enough money saved on nappies to finance a Penney’s spree.

I can remember training Conall 5 years ago; we were optimistic enough to have his name down for playschool that September. I figured we’d the whole Summer to do it and any parent worth their salt will tell you that’s the best time, let them run around in their pants without getting hypothermia.

The first few days there was no success whatsoever; he would cooperate and sit on the potty for hours, getting off only to pee on the carpet. His thighs held the imprint of the potty and there were times that I put a blanket over his legs and a movie on to relax him. He seemed happy with what he thought was a new seat. The house was sodden with pee but that wasn’t the worst of it.

giphy (2)He loved the freedom of unbridled pooing. I caught him out the back once actually dropping a log on a log. Another time he pooed his pants and his feet got tangled in the mess as he tried to remove them and he tore off up the hall leaving brown footprints. I realised what was happening (my parents were over for dinner of course) and I screamed at my husband to catch him but he was like the gingerbread man (dropping chocolate chips). He tore up the (carpeted) stairs and across the (carpeted) landing and jumped onto his (freshly laundered) bed. I was rooted to the spot and when I eventually made my way upstairs, my Dad intercepted me like the butler in Downton Abbey saying it might be best (for her ladyship) if I went downstairs. Ossie had Conall in a football hold and looked at me shaking his head, tears in his eyes. The smell hit my nostrils and I screamed “NOOOOOOOO, we’ll have to move house, or at least burn it for the insurance!” I could hear my Mam downstairs unscrewing the top of a vodka bottle. The clean up was a blur and the more we scrubbed, the more tangible the odour became… fart-fragrance febreeze, shake n crap, Cilit bangs… you get it. We ended up hiring a steam cleaner.

At this time Conall was a big fan of watching nursery rhymes on youtube and while watching humpty dumpty he pooped his pants. Being a curious 2 year old he had to have a look so he had a rummage and getting bored went back to changing the clip by clicking the mouse and then had a bang at the keyboard. I did my best to clean both with cotton buds and dettol but for months my hand smelt of poo if I sent an email and all had to be binned.

We ended up deferring playschool for a year and postponing the training as I’m sure you understand due to our house was becoming bubonic at this stage.

2013-05-02 09.20.20Koray was much easier and was fully trained a few months after his second birthday. The carpet did endure some more urinary accidents and his pants have seen more than a few skid mark situations but nothing on the armageddon scale of Conall’s training.

This brings me to number 3, Rian. He has been ready to train for a long time but we had to wait until he had healed fully from his willy operation. We started last Monday (and when I say we, I mean Ossie as if left up to me I’d have them in nappies for life, much more hygienic than their crop-circled pants and I wouldn’t have to deal with toilet seats being left up and piddly puddles on the floor and sometimes the wall!!!??). He has been brilliant, every poo has hit the potty, although the other two have been taking lazy wees in his potty in the sitting room when my back is turned, MEN!

When this is done, I may start a carpet fund if anyone would like to donate as it is currently held together with years old milk, bodily fluids and miscellaneous gross stuff. I think it’s time to bring back “the good room” that nobody can enter. My Mam is a big fan of them and I’m starting to see the sense, one room I can let visitors into without their nose crinkling in disgust and a look of incredulity at the torn wallpaper, writing on the walls and nameless stench.

Twinkly TuesdayAdvice From The Heart

Hair disasters

July 16, 2015

I am currently sitting here with tufts of spiky orange hair torn between two (lovers) hair colours (blonde and red) and I’m reminiscing over previous hair disasters and wondering why I never learn my lesson. 1436978301241.1

The problem is my sister is a hairdresser and facilitates my hair ennui. She warns me each time and is proven right (just like our mother, damn them) but I refuse to learn my lesson; I’m probably going to be like that woman I see on midday that must be in her 60s with multi-coloured hair… in fact I aspire to it.

I was born and raised “strawberry blonde” and winced as hairdressers complimented my beautiful hair, much like I do now to mortified little red-heads I meet as an adult. I longed for the day that I could colour it and throw off the stigma of being a ginger, freckled Irish person.

The pageboy

unknown (1)madonna-papa-dont-preach-video-set-0007My first hair disaster happened at approximately age 10 when me and my cousin Linda decided we wanted our hair cut like Madonna in the Papa Don’t Preach Video. We went to a salon in Harmonstown and told them of our desired hair cuts; we were a little nervous at the results but thought ourselves cutting edge. We arrived back to her house and were met by our aunty Maeve who told us we looked like boys. What? No, not at all and if only we had studded biker jackets and black t-shirts to complete the look, everyone would see just how feminine we were. There is an infamous photo that has haunted me of this dark period taken by my Uncle David; It is me with my boy hair and a lilac blouse and my freakishly flexible hand cupped under my chin, highlighting my equally flexible teeth and sporting the popular 1980s redner. The adults would all admire it (the photo, not the redner) as it hung in pride of place while friends nudged each other and mimicked my pose.

 

The Perm

vera bubble perm-thumbThe next disaster did not involve cutting but perming. When I was 13/14 perms were huge literally and figuratively. I pictured cascading, corkscrew curls and went to a hairdressers in Marino. It was a complicated and lengthy process involving what looked like rizla papers and blue ink. It looked nice enough, not the hair of my dreams but a wavy bob. The next morning it had fallen out (the perm, not my hair); I went back and they said my hair was too straight and would need layering. I had never heard of layering but it sounded glamorous so I gave the green light and 2 hours later I was a ringer for Vera Duckworth. For reasons that elude me my sister and cousin Jen followed in my footsteps and Irish mammy hair became attainable for teenagers. I purchased an afro comb and thought I was Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction years before it was released.. I’m that on trend.

Growing the bloody thing out was tricky and involved a lot of scrunching with mousse and contradictory straight roots.

When it had almost grown out I got a bob which looked odd as the ends were still crazy frizzy and large in comparison with the sleek roots, it provoked much slagging in school which I bore stoically (cried in the jacks at lunch).

The Mullet

BillyRayCyrusMulletbaggy-jeans-90s-showbiz-geek-shezszacMy sister, Fiona started a FAS course in hairdressing when I was 19. I asked her to cut my hair in a moment of madness and specified short at the back and long at the front. She wasn’t listening, too busy tripping over her eclipse jeans and slagging John Lennon probably. (She hadn’t learnt her lesson from the previous Summer in the states with our Macken cousins when en route to a week’s stay in a lake house she stated that she was glad John Lennon died and had to contend with a ball of chewing gum in her hair… there was an emergency stop for peanut butter.) She mistakenly heard me ask for short at the front and long at the back and I inadvertently resurrected the mullet.

 

The Spice GirlGinger6For my 21st I channeled Ginger Spice with blonde strands at the front and red at the back… (dizzy at the front, quick-tempered at the back). I kept this style going long enough to lose the front bits of my hair.

My 30s have seen a lot of hairdos. I have veered from red to blonde ALOT without heeding any warnings. You see I love having red hair, that’s me, my natural colour, fiery, freckled and feckless but alas it is de-pigmented; I am 100% grey like my lovely, once ginger Dad. So, if it is red, it needs to be dyed every two weeks or grey roots are visible and that won’t do… with blonde I can get away with 4 weeks and wreck Fiona’s head a little less. A few bleach baths later and I am almost at the shade of blonde I want… I’m in mourning for my red hair but I won’t broach the subject of change for at least a year. 1436991188172.1

I’m not being coy with the lack of selfie illustrations, just not that many photos taken pre 2000s, thankfully; All that messing with giant cameras, black curtains and exploding flashbulbs.
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Cabin Fever

July 12, 2015

I had the fantastic idea last week to pack up the kids (and husband) and take them to my parent’s mobile home in Wexford. I did indeed remember the disaster of a few months ago but I am an optimist and I whittled away at my husband’s pessimism and won. He has the intensely annoying gift of always being right, same as my mother but they pander to my tantrums and bite back “i told you sos” until the time is right (it is never right).

tmtlampoonsvacation2I began the task of packing for 5 of us for a minimum of 2 nights, not an easy task in this country when the weather can veer from baltic to balearic in 5 minutes. I packed wellies, raincoats, jumpers, t-shirts, sun cream, crocs, balaclavas and got everyone strapped into relevant car-seats.. my husband likes to ride shotgun and criticise my driving all the way, it is such a turn on.

I sat in the driver’s seat and began my fake joviality “yay we’re going on a little unexpected holiday, isn’t that fun?  “Himself was drinking coffee and gave me the stinkeye because I woke him early to get going (those with small kids understand that get him going is literal, morning shenanigans are distant memories); there were grunts from Conall in the boot who was playing a game called goat simulator on his tablet (My 2 year old now points at real goats and says “look mammy a goat simulator”). Koray started crying saying he didn’t want to leave his house and his bunk bed and that Wexford hates him and Rian started to chant fuck off, f words, fuck off. I’m not sure why but I had a bad feeling setting off.

donkey-pop-oI drove 2 hours white-knuckled down the motorway in sheets of rain as Ossie shouted “speed up if you’re overtaking for god’s sake” at me.. I was close to tears. The “are we there yets” had gone from endearing to ear splitting and I pulled into a garage for a much needed wee and chocolate hit (not a euphemism). I purchased wine and realised as I got into the car that it was light wine and almost lost my shit running back in for a frantic exchange (again not a euphanism)… 5.5% alcohol was not going to cut it.

We pulled up to the mobile and it was still lashing, the kids however legged it to the playground that was now filled with 5 inches of mucky sand… I opened the wine.

abyss1I showered the boys in a dodgy shower that veers from boiling to freezing on a whim and put on pjs at 5pm. They fought and whinged and made forts out of every piece of furniture that was not fixed to the wall. I’ve gotten used to their chaos and mess over the last few years but in such a confined space I began to feel like Ed Harris in The Abyss with that liquid helmet on.

giphy (1)
I dressed the pull out bed and put on a movie (Kindergarten Cop) picturing a “movie night” situation that I hear all the normal folks talk about. I end up in a blazing row with Ossie over us all eating crisps on the bed that he was to sleep in and my go-to emotion was… you guessed it , tears.

I was freezing at this point (possibly from severe dehydration through whinging, wine and binging on nuts (do I need really need to clarify? … dry-roasted if you must) and realised that I hadn’t brought anything warm for myself so I found a jumper in my Dad’s wardrobe and put it on getting immense comfort from the smell of stale cigars and his 1980s aftershave (drakkar noir). I took to the bed in the style of my mother circa 1987 and sulked while the smallies were put to bed. When they were asleep I trounced out swollen eyed and snotty nosed to say we’d all be leaving in the morning. Ossie had made his way through quite a few beers at this stage so I was not met with any resistance whatsoever.                 I slumped defeated on the crunchy couch bed to watch Mrs Brown’s Boys and marvel at it’s popularity. I know Conall was thrilled with the swearing, maybe that’s it!

1132I had a horrible night of bed hopping as each child woke up scared and confused by their alien surroundings and screaming for me to help get them back to sleep. I hadn’t unpacked my stuff (too huffy) so I slept in my clothes with an unwashed face and teeth and my bra disturbing any comfort I could find. I think I did this as some form of self-punishment for having the hope that we could all survive 2 days in a mobile home. It cannot be done and I won’t be revisiting this scenario for at least 2 years.

The situation was salvaged somewhat with a fish platter in The Lobster Pot the next day. I then visited my nanny and granda’s graves where I indulged a good whinge and had a what’s it all about moment which was disturbed by Koray asking me to dig them up so he could meet them.

11701210_10153199132838138_4389060991385660602_n (1)We also stopped off in Powerscourt on the way home where the boys happily splashed in the water, collected stones and peed in public. I too had fun getting yet more changes of clothes ready and apologising to passers by as Koray flashed them delightedly.

When we got home I had to wash about 6 washing machine loads… how? We were only gone one night! Our two week trip to Turkey is approaching and even I’m starting to feel a bit of dread building… the airport, the plane, the heat, the crisp sandwiches in bed…. should fill at least 10 posts on my blog.
Life Unexpected

Motherhood

Wonder? Woman

July 9, 2015

I have discovered the secret to good parenting, although like the answer to weight-loss it is not a solution that is compatible with my life. The answer is time-management and I suppose I have known it all along like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz but it was too tiring to click those damn heels together once let alone three times (have I mentioned my bunions?).RubySlippers

I’ve been struggling lately and have been doing many jobs badly; there’s been a lot of junk food and housework avoidance and while my inner feminist thought fuck it, actual me was fraught and weepy.

I was using downtime to write and use social media and plates were spinning in the air (probably literally). There was and is no structure and as much as I like to consider myself a “fly by the seat of my pants gal” things have to change.spinning-plates

I had this epiphany today as I achieved quite a lot in an hour. The reason for my haste was that after a long day getting the boys hair cuts, a trip to an indoor play area, a visit to my mams and dropping my husband to work; I was locked out! I tried getting in a top window but couldn’t fit and Conall took the opportunity to shout “too many dinners Mam?” A few phone calls later, I had procured a key and at this point we were all starving and I was severely behind on tasks I’d already procrastinated.

I plonked them in front of Netflix and a new cartoon named The Day My Butt Went Psycho which I calculated would gift me a half hour. In this half hour I;

  • Unloaded, reloaded the dishwasher
  • Realised there were two bags of stinking black potatoes in the vegetable drawer and cleaned it
  • Customised a frozen pizza for Conall (added pineapple and corn)
  • Unloaded, reloaded dryer
  • Put a kiev and chips in the airfryer for the other two
  • Put broccoli on to boil
  • Peeled and washed 3 carrots as snacks for the boys so they wouldn’t come fridge-picking
  • Chopped a ton of veg and put it in the soupmaker
  • Threw together their dinners
  • Cleaned the kitchen counters
  • Put on another wash
  • Ran up the stairs and got the bath going
  • Lay out fresh pjs
  • Closed all the curtains, put on nightlights and turned down the beds

While they were in the bath, I glanced at the clock and could not believe my superhuman ability.

I realised I had 15 minutes grace while they bathed so I put my cape back on and hoovered and mopped downstairs and placed all the bedtime drinks on relevant bedside cabinets.

I was a sweaty mess at this stage but I was not shouty or frantic. I got them all into bed calmly with lots of cuddles and Rian only told me to fuck off once so it was a successful bedtime. I will finish this and may even have time to watch or read something.

I’m not sure this parenting method is sustainable but I’ll give it a go.. it’s circuit training parenting; short spurts of frantic energy and no drugs consumed bar coffee…

It’s the coffee, it just dawned on me. I have never drank coffee in my life until a few weeks ago when my child-minder Rebecca in her parting gift as she left for a year in Australia (the selfish bitch), introduced me to a mocha. She’s perceptive and realised I’d need a lift without her and I’m hooked.coffee_gfx


Time management and caffeine are the keys to successful parenting. I need to stop using the quiet moments to flake out and do stuff I like; I have to be on my game… this isn’t school where I can coast along and then turn out great grades by last minute, frantic studying.

I’ve got to be consistent, to be prepared, to make extensive parenting plans involving different coloured pens… and I will, right after I check facebook briefly.

Domestic Momster

Family, Motherhood

Desperately Seeking Susan

July 4, 2015

I can’t have stuff, my small army won’t let me. They have stripped me of my youth, decent clothes, dignity and now they are taking my possessions. The catalyst for the following rant happened last Thursday morning. I planned on taking a morning shower which takes some military planning. The oldest two were playing Lego Batman on the Xbox but my two year old was wandering around the kitchen trying to sniff out treats. I sat him at the kitchen table where my laptop was charging and put on youtube, a 17 minute long kinder surprise opening video… just enough time to shower and dress. I hopped in the shower with my mammy antenna humming loudly; I ignored it as the hot water was so delicious and closed my eyes pretending I lived a leisurely, minimalist existence. I dried off… silence, hmmmmmmm.

As I descended the stairs Conall (7) shouted ”Mam, don’t come into the sitting room, you won’t be happy!” “Shit, shit, shit, I jumped the last few steps only to see Rian grinning and wiping the windows with a tea towel. There was a discarded Dettol spray on the floor. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care that he’d smeared the window but I had just washed them the night before for the first time in possibly a year…. argggh, why now, it’s like he knew.

I made my way in to the kitchen and sat at my laptop with a cup of tea; I opened it and liquid seeped out… and what was that familiar smell? Dettol!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO

i have NothingThe three boys ran into the kitchen to see why mammy was wailing. Rian piped up “ I broke your laptop mammy”. Conall and Koray looked at each other as if he had admitted to playing Grand Theft Auto. I’m not proud of this but I began to sob and I said “this laptop was the only joy I had in my life and you took it from me, I have nothing left, nothing!” Yes, it was dramatic but I was PMSing and channelling Bodyguard Whitney. Koray said quietly, “I’ll get you tissues” and came back and mopped my face while saying “you’ll be ok “ softly over and over while Conall awkwardly massaged my back. The culprit stood his ground with an angry little frown taking the carnage in and clearly revelling in it. I then got a things could be worse speech from Conall where he listed everything from being burnt alive to being on the Titanic.

jackieo-60s-pillbox1I got everyone in the car, put on my Jackie Onassis sunglasses and drove to my friend Susan’s.             The journey was silent, peppered only with Rian’s Father Jack impression although instead of feck and girls, he sporadically shouted fuck and laptop. giphy

Susan answered the door in her dressing gown and proudly announced she had showered for my arrival which I said was a lovely thing to do and then promptly burst into tears again.

She was taken aback and looked confusedly down at her dressing gown; I explained it wasn’t the kindness of her personal hygiene but that my youngest had destroyed my social media and Netflix addiction. We then played our favourite game, swapping assholery (kids not piles) stories followed by a half hour of here’s what I’d love to do right now. The second game always involves a hotel room, room service, alcohol, a bubble bath and hours of alone time, on a bad day an airport or even a hospital stay (nothing serious but requiring bed rest and alone time) may be involved.

Thank you Susan for having kids that are assholes too, and for admitting you struggle. Thanks for getting your husband to try to salvage my laptop and when it couldn’t, it was nice of you to comment on it’s cleanliness and dettolly smell. Next time you call, I will do my best to shower for you but I may need to lock the kids in the shed while I do so.

Motherhood, Musings

Summer Bummer

July 2, 2015

I loathe all school holidays but the Summer ones have a special place on my hate list (just above the ice-cream man and below anti-vaxxers. I am writing this at 10pm from the top step of my stairs, tummy rumbling as my 3 are all awake and insistant that they are not tired. They ran the length and breadth of the streets all day, sweating profusely as neighbours commented “they’ll sleep tonight”. It may have something to do with the amount of ice-cream and sugary drinks they consumed, it may be the brightness or the sticky heat but they are not tired. If it were winter I would have had 2 glorious hours of kid-free time under my belt by now; I feel like moving to Sweden for 24 hour darkness.

“ Mam there’s a monster” “Mam I need more water” “Mam…. mam… mam”.

 

                  Reasons I hate Summer10003006_10153180856043138_6873644945176506878_n

 

  • Sun-cream; I am a paranoid wreck when it comes to protecting the kids… which factor? I think 50 but my husband who grew up in Turkey never seeing a bottle of sun-cream argues with me that they need vitamin D. I opt for 30 and apply it as his eyes bore into my back. How often should I reapply? In the meantime I have forgotten myself and fried my neck and arms sufficiently farmerish. I always seem to apply the factor when I feel the burn as if it has reversing effects. I don’t remember my parents using cream on us and plenty of scaldings happened on Wexford holidays. The only time I can remember seeing this magical potion was when we went on our first foreign holiday to Majorca when I was 12. It was such a novelty to go on holidays in the 80s that your extended family would turn up at the airport to watch your plane land and greet you as if it were an episode of Coming Home For Christmas. The quality of your holiday was judged by the colour you had gotten and if you were still white or pink you would hang your head in shame as those sliding doors in arrivals opened. krapiva
  • The Outdoors: You are branded the shittiest parent ever if your kids don’t partake in some outdoorsy fun or at least a Summer Camp. My CV list of hobbies are as follows; cinema, reading and art; I also throw in walking so I don’t look like a slob but it’s only because they can’t prove I don’t walk or catch me out with probing questions on what team I walk for etc. Letting them out to play on the road is torturous. They beat each other, whinge and scream which is nothing unusual, only now they have my neighbours as an audience. Today I used 5 plasters for scraped knees due to miscellaneous falls; Rian ran into a bush of nettles and I asked a 10 year old kid what I should do? He rubbed his leg with a dock leaf and then applied aloe vera gel from a plant in his garden… I was thinking Zirtek and sudocrem but mini Bear Grylls sorted it. At one point I deluded myself into thinking I could relax on my porch (broken bit of a step) and watch them with a mocha and my phone. Koray put a cigarette butt he found in the garden in my fresh mocha and anytime I glanced at my phone they yelled “put the phone away Mam and watch me do this sick trick on my bike”. Then comes time for getting them in and I’m like a fishwife screaming their names. Eventually I’ll put one in a rugby hold and get him in the house and begin the chase for number 2 when I notice number 1 has escaped and the merry dance continues for an hour before I unleash PMS Aisling to the stunned shock of the crowd. Why do we all feel the need to take the kids to a zillion fun places over the holidays? I am agog at the tagging that goes on on facebook and have thought to do some fake tagging just to keep up… like Aisling and kids at the museum, the theatre, the fucking Guggenheim. When I was a kid we went to the pub and got a bottle of red lemonade and a packet of crisps between us and if it was sunny it was a beer garden. Bring those days back… I’m starting a petition on change.org.2015-07-02 00.08.44 (1)
  • The Paddling Pool: The bane of my life. A sniff of hot weather and they’re stripped to their nip and in the freezing, disgusting water. They don’t like it clean, they half fill it with muck, possibly a progressive skin treatment; I may bottle it and make my fortune. They also like to run in and out of the house with their mucky feet, slipping and half breaking their neck and the sound barrier.
  • The fact that Rian still wakes at 6am regardless of what time he goes to bed, hence I don’t even have the compensation of a lie-in.
  • The Flies: that is all.
  • The Late Evenings: Every night for months I will be asked “why am I going to bed when it’s bright?” “Why can I hear my friends out?” BECAUSE IT’S BLOODY SUMMER, GET INTO BED!!! I have blackout blinds and curtains but to no avail…I’m thinking of painting the windows black or removing them altogether.BBQ
  • BBQs: My husband is in caveman heaven as he cooks meat and drinks beer; meanwhile, in the kitchen I am chopping salads, microwaving potatoes, cleaning kids bums, getting drinks, cutlery etc ready.
  • The Sweating: I am bad enough at the moment with my imagined peri-menopause but the Summer has me in a perpetual lather and not in a glowy, movie way. My hair is stuck to me and my face is puce… I can’t even put makeup on as it slides off, I’m a hot mess. The kids are just as bad and my laundry load has tripled with sweaty sheets, paddling-pool remnants and sun-cream staining.whisky-foxtrot
  • Ireland: We are so excited by the prospect of good weather that everything comes to a standstill: Tesco gets sold out of Bundys; everyone seems to be carrying a 6 pack (beer definitely not the other kind) and decorum goes out the window. Women love to wear a vest top in the summer, pity they can’t have a decent bra to go with it; it’s like Jeremy Kyle, why do all the women wear dirty grey bras under their vests? Men think they’re built like Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love when they are really like Mr. Bean… my eyes, keep your tops on, I can’t bear it. Then there’s all the talk of the weather continuing? ending? dirty_windows_01
  • Damn sunniness showing up the filth of my house and particularly my windows. The bins stink and attract flies which I spend half my day swatting with a flip-flop or spraying till we have to evacuate the house due to fumes.
  • Self-maintenance: All that pruning, painting, filing, dyeing, waxing, buffing, moisturising, calorie-counting… makes me want to put on Pjs and eat Wispas.


I’m a Winter person, I like artificial heat and lighting. I like my kids in bed at 7.30, too cold to get out of their quilts. I love flannel sheets and winter boots. I enjoy Christmas and dark evenings and wine at 5pm cos it’s night, right? My kids want to go out? Sorry it’s lashing, snowing, hailstoning I say smugly… now get back in front of that Xbox and play Minecraft.
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