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)

January 26, 2010

The Trouble With Men

Has anyone else seen the column in the Sunday Times ‘The Trouble With Women’? The complaint being offered a few weeks ago was “They’re always giving us chores”. It made for amusing reading, and left me with a strong urge to offer some sort of a retort. So, here goes:

The Trouble With Men

They cause mess, clutter and leave a trail of destruction around the house. Socks, shoes, bank statements, wash bags, loose change, mobile phone chargers, receipts, golf score cards, golf tees, golf shoe studs and other such ‘man’ stuff clutter every imaginable surface of your home, rendering a good polish practically impossible.

Men are also incapable of putting things back into the fridge after making themselves a sandwich. They don't know where the plates are kept as they never use one and don't know where the dishwasher is as they are only able to put dinner plates within close proximity of the dishwasher, but fail to ever put them into the dishwasher itself, so baffled they are as to its possible whereabouts.

Perhaps the most troublesome thing about men is that despite living in the same house as you, they do not know where any of the children’s clothes are kept. Simple instructions to fetch a clean vest and socks can cause untold confusion and frustration.

Men also don't understand that there are some towels which are used for every day and there are separate, 'posh' ones which are used only when guests are visiting. Similarly, they do not realise that there are some mugs which should not be used when making guests a cup of tea or coffee.

When challenged on their level of contribution to the general up-keep of the house, men will claim that they do more than their fair share. The reason you are not aware of them doing any jobs is because, unlike yourself, they don't feel there is any benefit to be gained by drawing your attention to the matter. The sort of jobs men undertake in this mysterious manner include such essential tasks as sharpening the meat knives, re-aligning the gas burners on the hob or straightening up the umbrella plant.

Even men who are handy in the kitchen are troublesome. Their intentions may be honourable, but for goodness sake, how long and how many pans does it take to make a bowl of pesto pasta? With all the noises coming from the kitchen when men are cooking, you would think they were installing the cooker, never mind boiling a pan of pasta on it.

So, that's my counter-attack done.
Thank you for reading!
I would like to point out that most of what is observed here is based on careful, scientific research and is in no way a direct reflection of my own husband’s domestic habits or of any men within my acquaintance or who read this blog.


January 21, 2010

The Language of Life

It occurred to me the other day that I have a completely different vocabulary now that I am a Stay At Home Mum. Back in my professional hey-day (i.e last year!), I used to come out with all sorts of management-speak - you know, the stuff that David Brent would be proud of. I thought about this a little more and thought I would try and remember some of the more cringe-worthy phrases I used to say and how they compare to what comes out of my mouth now. You may recognise some of these!

I used to say, "Short, medium and long term plans"
I now say, "Plan? What plan?"

I used to say, "Feedback sandwich"
I now say, "Cheese sandwich without crusts cut into four triangles"

I used to say, "Brain-storm"
I now say, "Oooo, listen, there's a storm"

I used to say, "Bottom line"
I now say, "Washing line"

I used to say, "FYI"
I now say, "FFS"

I used to say, "Where's the value-add"
I now say, "Where's the value supermarket?"

I used to say, "Self-assessment"
I now say, "Self-help"

I used to say, "Performance review"
I now say, "Have you done a poo?"

I used to say, "Pie chart"
I now say, "Reward chart"

I used to say, "Let's get our ducks in a row"
I now say, "Five little ducks went swimming one day"

I used to say, "Singing from the same hymn sheet"
I now say, "Please stop singing. You're hurting mummy's ears"

I used to say, "Business critical"
I now say, "Breakfast cereal"

I used to say, "Let's just park that"
I now say, "Let's just go to the park"

I used to say, "Thinking outside the box"
I now say, "I can't hear myself think"

I used to have a Situation Room - now, I need a Panic Room.

Funny old world, isn't it?!


January 19, 2010


There are many memorable 'firsts' in history, but for most parents, the 'firsts' they experience with their children are the really important ones! From tiny babies, we anxiously wait for our children to reach little milestones; first smiles, first tooth, first taste of proper food, first attempts at crawling, first clap hands, first words, first tentative steps.

We have hundreds of photos of the first trip out in the buggy, the first sandcastle, first snowman, first christmas, first birthday, and then the 'firsts' seem to slow down a bit. Maybe there are less of them, or maybe we become a little less observant? And yet, there will always be another milestone around the corner. Maybe not one we were expecting or even thought we would be excited about, but there it is; the first time the shapes go into the sorter, the first time they take off their own trousers, the first time they do a tumble without your help.

We recently had another 'first' to add to our list: we all went to the cinema. The boys are 4 and 2 so we were not at all sure whether this was a good idea, but frozen out of our home and getting cabin fever in our temporary accommodation we decided to test the water. Much as we would have loved to see Avatar (having not been to the cinema ourselves for about 5 years), we did the honorable thing and bought 4 tickets for 'Alvin and The Chipmunks: the Squeakquel'. Luckily, the boys absolutely loved it and as I watched them tucking into their popcorn and staring wide-eyed at these squeaky creatures, I mentally notched this up as another first. OK, it's maybe not as memorable as Star Wars or ET, but it's still a first!

Today was another first. I signed the school enrollment form. Yes, September looms and with it will come another, and very significant 'first'. I suppose, like all the others, starting school is just another step away from being a baby and towards being an adult. Much as that scares me in many ways, rather than dread this day I'm going to try and treat this 'first' as I have all the others; with excitement, anticipation and the camera at the ready!
Please spare a moment and visit Bloggers for Haiti on JustGiving which was established by English Mum to raise funds to provide Shelterboxes for the survivors of this terrible disaster. Currently, just over £3,000 has been raised which is fantastic, but we need more. Thank you.

Check out the latest 'British Mummy Bloggers Carnival' over at Babyrambles for some brilliant blogging talent.


January 12, 2010

Favourite Photo Meme

The concept of the meme was new to me as a blogging novice when I was tagged with my first one back in April last year. There have been some brilliant, funny and thought-provoking memes circulated since, and I'm delighted to have been tagged with a new one conceived by the brilliant blogging brain of Tara at Sticky Fingers. Her challenge - find your favourite photo. Just one. Out of a possible million. Hmmmm.

As I suspect is true of most parents, about 99% of our family photos are of the children. As a rule, I don't put photos of the children on my blog - not because they're unpleasant to look at or anything, just because of a preference not to. But in a one-off change to that rule, I have chosen the photo below which I absolutely love. It is of my son Max when he was 3.

It was taken at Glenroe Farm. Co. Wicklow in October 2008 around Halloween. We had a lovely day pottering around looking at the animals and listening to a 'witch' telling stories in an enchanted forest. I don't think I even noticed the rainbow in the sky when I took the picture (the little fella was off looking at pigs, which is why he isn't in it!). We were later harrassed by a peacock who seemed rather keen on robbing our crisps and carrot cake, but it was a lovely day nonetheless!

Choosing one favourite photo is too hard, so let's say that this is one of my favourites. I will probably be chastised by the children's nana for selecting one child over the other, but hopefully this makes up for the lack of sentimental birthday message last October?!

I now pass the meme and the challenge onto the following:

Mummy Mania , The Last Of The Mojitos ,The Life and Times of a Househusband , Mammy Diaries , Forty Not Out


January 9, 2010

The Icemum Cometh

Brrrrr. Grrrrrr. Brrrrrrr. Grrrrrrr. I am very bloody cold and very bloody frustrated.

Without wishing to bang on too much about the 'cold-snap' (COLD SNAP?!! Mini Ice age more like), I feel compelled to write about it because it has left me and my family as refugees; displaced from our home; floundering in temporary accommodation (aka 'the in-laws'). The 'cold-snap' (grrrr) has left us without heating or water - not ideal conditions in which to inhabit a home when it is minus 12 outside. Technically, our home is now classified as an igloo so we have abandoned it to head for the more temperate regions of Dublin city which is a balmy minus 3.
OK, so we didn't exactly have to trek across barren wastelands for weeks with our posessions strapped to our backs, but still, it's not very bleedin' convenient.

People may look outside their toasty warm homes at the picture postcard, winter wonderland scenes but believe me, it soon loses it's charm when you can't walk across your kitchen floor without sealskin and whale blubber padding on your feet.
I'm not sure at what point it is acceptable to admit that you are actually bored of the snow but, putting aside the fact that I am in the advanced stages of cabin fever and have reached and gone past Wits End with the children under my feet 24/7 for nearly 4 weeks solid now, I am declaring myself as officially fed up.

"Make paper snowflakes", the more resilient parents out there cry, "Bake cookies, weave baskets, have an indoor snowball fight, grind fairtrade coffee beans with your little toes". While I have total admiration for anyone who is that creative and would like to pretend that I can summon up the enthusiasm to do these things, I just can't at the moment.

All I want to do is curl up in my own bed with one of the eight books sitting hopefully on my bedside table on the off-chance that I may get time to read them someday, and wait until spring time. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that I will have to grit my teeth (while I wait for the council to grit the roads), thank my in-laws for their hospitality and hope that this ice age decides to have a meltdown before I do.

Brrrrr. Grrrrrr. Brrrrrr. Grrrrr.

p.s. I am thinking of changing my name to Cold Cross Mum. Much more seasonal don't you think?


January 6, 2010

Stop. Look. Listen.

Yes, we all know this is the golden rule of road crossing and, if you're of a certain age, will remember this message being drummed into you as a child by such characters as Tufty the Squirrel (anyone with me there?) and the Green Cross Code man (who was actually David Prowse who was actually the body - if not the voice - of Darth Vader). Anyway, I digress.....

This post is nothing to do with crossing the road or paying attention to traffic. It is to do with paying attention to children. My children. You see, when it comes to crossing the road, I apply the 'Stop. Look. Listen.' rule every time. When it comes to paying attention to my children though, I am completely crap. I hardly ever stop. I occasionally look. I sometimes listen. But very, very rarely do I do all three at the same time.

"Mummy, come and look at this", they cry or "Mummy, watch me", or "Mummy, look what I can do", proudly wanting to show me their latest colouring in, funny walk, ability to count on their fingers, hold their knife, open their own yoghurt, do a tumble - whatever it may be. And I, as ever rushing against the clock to do seventeen things before the eighteenth thing needs doing, respond with a "Hmmm. Yes, that's nice love. Well done", or a vacant "Yes that's great. Be careful though", without even looking at the thing they are so desparately keen to show me. And for this, I am a crappy mum and a bad person and I apologise.

I'm not setting any resolutions this new year because I'll just get annoyed about denying myself things I want, or trying to summon up the willpower to start things I don't want to do. What I am going to do though is to really try to apply the Green Cross Code in my home. From now on, I won't fob the children off with a bland response or a pretend look or with paint by numbers praise. I will really Stop. I will really Look. I will really Listen.

If it's good enough for Darth Vader, it's good enough for me. And, above all else, I owe it to my children.


January 4, 2010

Some high points and some cake

The very fabulous Sandy at Baby Baby has tagged me with the 'High Five' meme. The rules are to thank the person who tagged you, list your top 5 highlights from 2009 and then tag 5 more bloggers to do the same. So, here are my 2009 highlights. Think of it as a bit like Sports Personality Of The Year - without any sport or Gary Lineker!

1. Being made redundant. If that hadn't happened, most of the other highlights of my year would not have happened. Funny how things work out isn't it?!
2. Discovering a love for writing. Blogging, newspaper column, articles have all opened so many doors and given me a new direction in life.
3. Finishing my first novel and discussing it with an agent. I am crossing everything for a successful conclusion in 2010 i.e. a publishing deal!
4. Being asked to appear on TV to talk about blogging! An experience I will never forget.
5. Catching up with old university friends at a fantastic wedding in the UK. It had been far too long, but felt as though we had never left.

So all in all, despite its inevitable place in the history books as the year of doom and gloom, 2009 wasn't too shabby at all for me and it's lovely to reflect and document these moments. I pass this meme onto the following and hope you enjoy doing the same.

I would also like to thank the lovely Alice at Fanciful Alice and Baking Mad Mama for giving me two lovely cakey awards last year. Never one to pass up an offer of a slice of something tasty, I am thrilled to display these awards on my blog and would like to pass them onto the following.

Firstly, the 'Icing On the Cake' award goes to:
Insomniac Mummy

And this 'cake-tastic' award goes to:

To hell with New Year's Resolutions, grab a plate and tuck in!


January 2, 2010

Empty pages

I am quite excited! Firstly, because I am back to writing and blogging after a two week break. I feel rested, chocolatey and full of words.

Secondly, because I have a new diary. It is completely empty. Untouched by ink or lead. Its crisp, clear, white sheets cry out to me, “Fill me in. Scribble on me. Mess me up”. I love it!

I have always thought there is something wonderful about a new diary. I sit and flick through the pages; weeks, months, an entire year full of….nothing. Yet. No appointments. No deadlines. No lists of jobs to get done in the house (one can always hope!). No hastily scribbled notes. No birthday parties to attend. No reminders. Nothing.

I will check what day of the week my birthday falls on this year (a Sunday as it happens). I’ll circle all the important annual dates in our lives and then I will put my pen down, because apart from these dates, and the fact that my eldest son will start school in September (I’ll deal with that one later!), I have, at this precise moment, absolutely no idea what we will be doing, where we will be going or what I will need to remember to take with us on the other days of this year. And I really like that.

I look forward to filling those pages with the stuff of our family life as it happens. As with most years, there will inevitably be a few reasons to write on those pages with sadness, or with a tinge of worry, anger or frustration. But I also hope that I will have many, many reasons to add events to be celebrated and commemorated, reasons to congratulate and cheer, occasions to jump for joy and dance around the kitchen.

To some, empty pages are the work of the devil, nagging at you to be filled in when you can find nothing of worth, interest or importance to fill them in with. To me, these empty pages are full of potential and hope for me and my family and friends. What better way to kick off a brand new year and a brand new decade.

Empty pages watch out. I’m coming to get you.

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