Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

October 29, 2009

Happy (belated) Birthday Little Man

Yesterday marked a momentous occasion at HCM Towers as our little man turned four. In anticipation of this event I was full of great intentions to write a deeply profound and heart-felt post about my gorgeous boy and everything he means to me, but I just didn't get around to it.

My excuse being that him turning four has been combined with hosting the BMB Carnival (great fun by the way), hosting family members (who will be reading this so, for the record, it was an absolute pleasure, as always, to have you here!), planning two birthday parties (clearly one is not enough when you are FOUR!) and making a pirate's treasure chest cake.

Although I am pleased to know that, on this particular occasion, I got my priorities absolutely right, I would still like to - albeit slightly belatedly - mark the occasion via the blogosphere. So, I will leave you with these thoughts:-

To Max
My fabulous little boy,
You fill my heart with joy.
You make me laugh, you make me cry,
You always ask me why? Why? WHY?

You started out so small,
How did you get so tall?
You can tumble, dance, sing - and shout,
You're an absolute genius without a doubt.

You make me feel so proud,
I want to shout out very loud -
'Hip Hip Hooray for my boy who is four'
Now - will you PLEASE pick those toys up off your bedroom floor!

Happy Birthday monkey - may your scooter wheels always run smoothly and your anti-gravity belt keep you flying high!


October 23, 2009

British Mummy Bloggers Hallowe'en Carnival

“Heeeeeere’s Mummy!”

Yes, it’s time for the inaugural ‘Hot Cross Mum Hallowe’en Spook-Fest BMB Carnival’ (or HCMHSFBMBC for short!).

In celebration of All Hallows Eve, I dared you to submit your most grisly and gruesome tales of parenting. Seems there was no problem on that front then as you have literally splattered me with tales of projectile vomit, poo in unwelcome places, strangely-opinioned men, imaginary beings, tricks, treats and all manner of other horrors. It has been great fun (if also slightly terrifying!) pulling it all together so thanks for all your entries.

So, ladies and gents, grab a cushion, hide behind the sofa, lock all the doors and windows, DO NOT answer the phone, put all sharp implements somewhere safe and whatever you do, DON’T have a shower!

First up with a fright, Tara from 'Sticky Fingers' spooks the socks of us with ‘The Man’. He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere, he’s behind you…. !

Next, I dare you to mess with ‘The Management’ in Potty Mummy’s ‘House Rules’ – a truly menacing force to reckon with.

Susanna from 'A Modern Mother' shares a harrowing tale about playdates going badly wrong in 'Playdate Nightmares'. Shudder.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, Emily from ‘Brits in Bosnia’ shares a tale of truly pooey horror in
‘Things I have said to my husband’

Of course, Hallowe'en wouldn't be complete without some projectile vomiting, and we have plenty in these grisly (yet hilarious!) tales of parenting nightmares provided by Victoria at ‘It’s a Small World after All’ in
‘Do You Have Highchairs’ and Lorraine at ‘The Survival Guide for Rookie Mums’ in ‘A chip off the old barf’.

Terrified of the mornings with a small army to get out of the house? So is Maria from ‘The Hair Dog Chronicles’ who shares the grim reality of the start of every parent's day in ‘The Morning Routine’

If you can stand to read on, Karen at ‘The Real Mamma Diaries’ has a gruesome tale of a house full of seven six-year-old boys (YIKES!) in ‘Let’s Get This (Kids) Party Started’ while Liz at ‘Living With Kids’ has a cunning plan for dealing with ungrateful Trick or Treaters in ‘Fright Night’

Jennifer from ‘Alpha Mummy’ shares her horror and general outrage at fashion’s own Edward Scissorhands, Karl Lagerfeld in ‘Only ‘fat-mummies’ dislike size-zero models’ while 'Rosie Scribble' tells us of her problems with 'Skinny Mummies'

Next up, a little light relief from Emily at 'Maternal Tales' who admits to having (very) temporary evil thoughts in 'She's Not My Daughter' while Sandy from 'Baby Baby' shares the grim reality of life as a new mum (with pictures!) in 'An Unholy Trinity' and 'Rebel Mother' tells us of the horrors some parents can put their children through in 'A Little Faith' .

Had enough yet, or do you want some more.....?

A big welcome to British Mummy Bloggers, carnivals and blogging to new mum Kim from 'Weaning Tales' who shares every parents nightmare and frustration in 'A Mum's Meltdown'

On a more serious note, Maria from ‘Fab Mums’ shares her completely terrifying experience of losing sight of her little boy in
‘Five minutes of panic and all because of ice cream’ and Tasha (many congratulations on the birth of little Eleanor) from 'WAHM-BAM' tells us about her very personal nightmare in 'How I almost gave up Breast-feeding'. A great post for anyone else struggling with this at the moment.

Amanda from ‘Angels and Urchins’ shares a tale of law breaking worthy of mischief night in
‘Desperate PTA Rep Breaks the law’ and Ella from 'Most Least' shares her frightening reality of boys and school in 'Learning, rather than being taught'

After all that, Carol at ‘New Mummy’ offers some much needed comfort for bedtime in
‘Story Time’ and Simone at 'From Rat Racer to Positive Parent' also gives us some happy thoughts in 'A Fun Way to Learn the 3 Rs' and last, but by no means least, a big BMB welcome back to Anna, from ‘Part Mummy Part Me’ who explains why she’s been away in ‘The Secret to Big Boobs, True Love and Losing Weight’

Right, you can come out now. Phew! Some scary stuff in there! Thank you all again for your fabulous entries and apologies for anyone I didn't get to, or missed out.

Before you head off to put your cauldrons on, don’t forget to drop into Violet Posy’s ‘Terror’ific (sorry, couldn't resist!) Hallowe’en Blog Party and remember, 'Don't Have Nightmares'!
For more information on 'The Best of the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival', or to host one yourself, please click here.

Happy Hallowe'en.

October 22, 2009

Ode to the kitchen table

Kitchen table, kitchen table,
How do you remain so stable?
Through it all, the spills, the mess,
You are my rock, I must confess.

There to greet me as a new day dawns
I sit by your side and tiredly yawn.
You’ve seen it all – the laughs the tears
My constant companion these past five years.

I grip you when I’m on the verge,
When the tears and frustration start to surge.
You help me count from one to ten
Until I finally feel calm again.

Sometimes you share a party with glamour and fuss
But often it is just the two of us,
As I sweep around your splattered legs
Gathering peas and crusts of bread.

I tidy endless meals away
And crafty things from an hour of play.
But sometimes I make you look really fine
With candles and napkins and bottles of wine.

Kitchen table you’ve seen it all,
You’ve watched me rise, you’ve watched me fall.
You’re just about perfect (apart from the mark on one edge)
I keep you shiny with a quick squirt of Pledge.

We spend a lot of time together, you and me
Usually at breakfast, dinner and tea.
You watch as I coax the children to eat,
And sigh as I sweep their dinner from under your feet.

Kitchen table, friend of mine
So much more than a place to sit and dine.
So, I raise my mug and my slice of toast,
See you at the weekend for a Sunday roast.

Inspired by the excellent Josie at Sleep Is For The Weak who hosts a fabulous weekly Writing Workshop. Her prompt to look at, and write about, a room in your house led me to the kitchen table!


October 20, 2009


Flashing shoes: €28
Lightening McQueen duvet cover: €10
Scooter: €20
Fireman Sam fire engine: €15

The look on a small boy’s face when his beloved soft toy has been painstakingly sewn back together: priceless

There are some things money can buy. For everything else there’s mummy.


October 17, 2009

When I grow up I want to be a……Writer!

Well, I’m almost grown up and am (finally) on the way to being a writer, so when the people behind innocent kids drinks told me about their latest venture to discover young writing talent, I was very keen to get involved.

innocent have teamed up with acclaimed children’s author Francesca Simon, author of the excellent ‘Horrid Henry’ books, to get children across Ireland and the UK involved in creating a series of 26 stories.

Francesca has written the opening lines to each of these 26 stories, but starting on Monday 19th October, she is handing the rest of the story over to the kids! Who knows what will happen next?!

Every day, until 13th November, children can log onto select a letter of the alphabet which takes their fancy and continue Francesca’s story.

Each day, the winning line from each story submitted will be selected with prizes awarded to the winner. The competition then starts all over again the following day so there are plenty of chances to get involved.

What a great way to encourage creativity and inspire young minds to ‘get writing’.

For further details of rules and prizes, visit the website

Good luck everybody. Who knows - we may discover the next Francesca Simon or J K Rowling! Now, get writing!


October 14, 2009


Wrath is the 5th sin in my ‘run-up-to-Hallowe’en’ Seven Deadly Sins of Parenting series, but ‘Wrath’ is a strange and somewhat old-fashioned word, so I’m updating this and calling it ‘Mum-Rage’.

I define ‘Mum-Rage’ as ‘an over-whelming desire to scream in the most hysterical manner imaginable whilst preferably throwing something, slamming something or swearing like a fish-wife’.

So, what exactly is it that makes my blood boil so?

1. Shoes.
Namely, a complete refusal to co-operate in putting them on. After calmly attempting, five times, to put them on backwards (as the child refuses to sit on his bottom), and starting from scratch when they are finally on, only to be dutifully removed by said child, mum-rage will hit when you finally manage to force the unwilling feet into the shoes again, only to realise that they are on the wrong feet.

2. Car seats.
It’s hard enough getting a sleeping or compliant child into a car seat, let alone a rigid, screaming, arm-flailing one. Mum-rage will occur at the precise point when you have the flailing child’s arms through the straps, but you cannot find the buckle piece as they are sat on it.

3. Food.
After tempting, coercing, playing, and using all manner of encouragement known to man, mum-rage will take it’s full effect when, half-an-hour after the dinner was put on the table, there has still been only one pea and half a carrot consumed. Bored beyond belief, the other child will have wandered off to wreak havoc in the downstairs loo and emerges like an Andrex Puppy with loo roll wound all around him. The uneaten dinner will then be thrown angrily into the sink, bin or occasionally onto the floor, accompanied by a dessert of expletives.

4. Bedtime.
After a long and utterly exhausting day, an arduous battle to brush toddler teeth, several repetitions of the four-year-old’s current favourite story, a chat about snakes, a chat about toes and three additional cups of water, mum-rage will commence when you are sitting down to attempt to eat your dinner for the fifth time, and you hear the dreaded ‘Muuuumeeeeeee’ from the top of the stairs.

OK, perhaps I have anger-management issues. I’m not called Hot Cross Mum for nothing you know.


October 11, 2009

‘Spook-Fest’ Hallowe’en Carnival

"I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too"

Hot Cross Mum is delighted to be hosting the next BMB Carnival on 27th October. In celebration of All Hallows Eve, this will be a Spook-Fest Hallowe’en Special.

Yes, my pretties, I am daring you to submit your most grisly and shocking tales of parenting. We’re talking devilish deeds by the toddler, terrifying moments of rebellion, frightful toilet incidents, tricks (or treats), gruesome tales of uneaten dinners, shocking amounts of sleep deprivation, haunting moments of embarrassment, horrid comments from the in-laws and tales of the most ghastly of goings on in general.

To jump aboard the ghost train, submit your entries – in blood - by Sunday 25th October, either by putting a (comment) hex on this post, or by cursing my email account hdgaynor (at) gmail (dot) com

See you there (unless I see you first). Mwah ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa!

In the meantime, make sure you visit the current Carnival which is being hosted over at Family Friendly Working

For more information on 'The Best of the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival', or to host one yourself, please click here.


A Balloon To Remember

In an ideal world, this support service would not exist.
In an ideal world, children would outlive their parents.

Anam Cara is a national voluntary support group set up by parents who have themselves lost a child. Their aim is to provide support and understanding to families who have experienced the death of a son or daughter, regardless of their age or the circumstances of their death.

Last week, the organisation launched ‘A Balloon to Remember’ a campaign which aims to create awareness of the unique support that Anam Cara offers bereaved parents, and to raise funds to extend these services to as many bereaved families as possible nationwide.

The idea of ‘A Balloon to Remember’ is to remember the many children that have lost their lives throughout Ireland and to offer extended family, friends, colleagues and the wider community a chance to show, in their own private way, that they too remember and are thinking of the bereaved parents on the 2nd November.

Since its launch in 2008, over 600 parents have been connected to the Anam Cara service in many different ways including its website with message forum, parent-to-parent meetings, family events and professional talks all provided to bereaved parents and families free of charge.

If you have not experienced the death of a child, it can be hard to imagine the pain, loneliness and despair that comes with such a loss. By bringing together bereaved families to support and comfort each other, Anam Cara plays a valuable role in helping these families carry on after the death of their child, and in time, for the family to live life around the loss.

You can sponsor ‘A Balloon to Remember’ in Centra supermarkets, McCabes Pharmacies and Eddie Rockets Diners or online at

The campaign will run until 2nd November 2009, when Anam Cara will launch the balloons sponsored for a loved one at Lloyd Park in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

For more information visit or email
“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die” Tomas Campbell


October 9, 2009

Baby on Board

A sorry tale of a pregnancy low point, inspired by A Mother's Secrets

A week after I discovered I was pregnant, I decided to pop into Mothercare – the panacea for all things baby. I had, of course, been in here before to buy presents for nieces, nephews and off-spring of various friends, but now I was here for myself, because I was PREGNANT and the shop suddenly looked entirely different.

I really only wanted to buy a book on pregnancy but of course found myself browsing around the entire shop, taking in all the baby paraphenelia which we would need in the not too distant future. There was all the obvious big stuff like cots, buggies and car seats – I couldn’t believe how many shelves of car seats there were!

Then I found the maternity clothes which all looked massive and over-patterned so decided to move on to the cutest part of the shop – the baby clothes. I stood in awe of the tiny little vests, coats and soft shoes and picked up a couple of adorable soft toys, still in disbelief that we were going to need all these things.

Slightly freaked out already by the sheer amount of things in this shop and the unappealing maternity jeans, I then came across an aisle of maternity bras, disposable knickers, breast pumps and other bizarre looking equipment which I had no idea even existed, let alone know what it was for.

I felt totally out of my depth; in an 'other world' of which I knew very little and which my gymkhana rosette, netball medal, 9 O'Levels, 3 A'Levels, BA (Hons) degree, a year in Australia, a London Marathon and 11 years of work experience had not helped prepare me for at all.

I felt like a complete fraud or some kind of freak who spends their day meandering around baby shops as a result of some terrible tragedy in their past. I wanted a sign saying 'I'm pregnant' or a big bump like all the other women in the shop; I wanted to know what Almond Oil could possibly be used for, why there were 18 different types of bottle teets and I wanted to talk knowingly to an assistant about the benefits of a three versus a four-wheeler buggy.

Instead, I self-consciously picked up a book titled ‘Pregnancy & Childbirth’ which seemed to cover everything (although in hindsight it did look like it was produced in the 1970's) and paid the assistant who barely acknowledged me, let alone offer her congratulations on my ‘condition’.

In fact, she seemed to be completely disinterested in my reasons for buying this book which, I would have thought was pretty bloody obvious. I resisted the temptation to shout across the counter, "I'M PREGNANT YOU IGNORANT COW!", and wandered back home to read about the possible damage I had done to my unborn child by eating blue cheese a few days ago.


October 7, 2009

In which I suffer from ‘Present Panic’

Continuing the ‘Seven Deadly Sins of Parenting’, I’m asking you to consider whether, as parents, we have become too greedy?

From the end of October to the end of the year is an extremely busy time at Hot Cross Mum Towers with both boys’ birthdays and Christmas.

During this time, I get endless phone calls from well meaning grandparents and aunts and uncles asking what the boys would like as presents and I panic. When I do think of something they might possibly need, this means that there really isn’t much left for ‘Santa’ to bring which leaves me wracking my brain for ideas again.

For weeks, we seem to have an endless array of friends, relatives and postmen arriving with presents, which although all very lovely and exciting (I’m a sucker for a celebration), inevitably leaves us grown ups feeling a little uncomfortable.

I’m not being bah humbug. Just perhaps a bit bah.

I end up stressing about where everything is going to go (when I say ‘Hot Cross Mum Towers, I am perhaps over-exaggerating ever-so-slightly on the ‘Towers’ analogy!). I try desperately to re-organise and re-house everything so it looks as though we don’t live in an actual toy shop.

I feel bad that some toys are hardly played with and do my level best to rotate them, but of course despite my best intentions this never happens.

We have started to ask the boys to choose one of their older toys to give to charity – which I hope goes some way towards helping them understand that not everyone is as lucky as they are, and perhaps helps them to appreciate what they have. Does it? I don’t know.

So parents, are we raising a nation of Veruca Salts, demanding their golden goose, and getting it? How can we balance the desire to give gifts and the excitement we see in our child, with giving them a sense of appreciation?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


October 5, 2009

Four Year Old Logic

My (nearly) four year old has been asking for some time now about directions.

“What follows that way?” he would ask, as we turned left and he saw the road ahead going straight on. “And what follows that way?” he would enquire at the cars going past us in the opposite direction.

These discussions could last for the entire hour long journey between Dublin and our house. After running out of actual places where roads could possibly go to, I would amuse myself by telling him that the road over there led to the moon, that one to the end of the rainbow, that one to Bob The Builder’s house and the other to The Island of Sodor.

More recently, he’s been obsessing about ‘left’ and ‘right’. This again, has been the sole topic of conversation on many a car journey (the two-year-old does what only a two-year-old can do in these circumstances – falls asleep!).

Anyway, he seems to now have this sussed and on recent trips he will say correctly when I turn left or right. Then, the other morning, while on a mercy dash for more milk, as I took a left turn, a little voice piped up from the back,

“We turned left mummy didn’t we. I know that because this is the left hand side” (gesturing with his lefthand).

“That’s right love, well done”.

“No mummy, not right, left”.

“Yes (grrr), we turned left. That is correct. Well done”.

Then he continued, “So if this is the left hand side, this is the left leg side, isn't it” (points to his left leg), “and this is the right hand side (gestures with his right hand) and this is the right leg side (points to his right leg)”.

You can't really argue with the logic, can you?! Trouble is, it is not yet 8am. I need way more caffeine to be able to continue this conversation!

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