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)

April 29, 2010

A case of mistaken identity

Being a Stay At Home Mum has it’s pros and cons. The pros are many. I can spend time with my children before they get to the age where I am an embarrassment to them. I can walk them to and from pre-school (which also ticks the box for exercise for the day), I don’t have to screech out of the driveway desperately trying to catch the one train that will get me into work on time, I know my neighbours, I can do my weekly shop during the quieter times in the supermarkets, I can take advantage of free activities at the local library - the list goes on and on and when you look at it this way, it’s pretty hard to knock it.

And yet, for every yin there is, of course, a yang. I also don’t get a monthly salary. I get frustrated. I run out of energy and ideas for keeping everybody entertained and fed. I shout a lot. My fragile hormones are exposed daily in public as I wrestle another child out of another toy shop. And there is one other down side to my new role in life which I wasn’t even aware of until last week.

Attending the information evening at the primary school my son will join in September, I was passed a pile forms to complete. This was fine until I came to a section titled ‘Occupation’. I hesitated. This was the first time I'd been asked to state my occupation since losing my job last year and I didn’t know what to write.
‘Unemployed’ seems so bleak and maybe I’m still in denial about that bit. Anyway, technically, I’m not unemployed because I do have a job; I’m a Stay At Home Mum. I’m not ashamed of it. Not in the slightest, but ‘Stay At Home Mum’ seems like a made-up job title. So, I reverted to tradition and entered, ‘Housewife’. And there it was in black and white, staring me in the face; I have become my mother.

I kept thinking about it for the rest of the evening, and it bothered me. The term ‘Housewife’ conjures up - in my mind at least - images of apron-wearing, Fairy Liquid ladies of the 1950’s. I didn’t want my new school principal visualising that every time she needed to contact me.

The next day, I was talking to a friend about this. “Why didn’t you put down your other occupation?” she asked. “You’re a writer aren’t you?” D’oh. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that. I am a writer and although part of me doesn’t quite believe it enough yet to fill it in on a form, that is what I am. I’m a writer who stays at home to look after her children.

Phew, I now know what I am. So, the next time I’m faced with a box to fill in, I know exactly what to write. ‘Writer, Mother and soon to be internationally published best-selling author’. Hey, we can all dream, can’t we?


April 28, 2010

Running for Darragh

On Monday, 7th June, I will be joining a group of 29 other women to run the Dublin Women's Mini Marathon. We are running to raise €5,000 to supply vital equipment in the cardiac unit of Crumlin Children's Hospital in Dublin and I am asking for your support. The reason why we are doing the run is explained below. This was written by baby Darragh's mum Claire, my husband's cousin.

Baby Darragh McGarry was admitted to hospital on the 15th Nov 2009, aged 7 weeks. He had a slow weight gain but was otherwise a very normal baby. He was diagnosed with an extremely rare heart condition and the only way to treat Darraghs condition was surgical.

The cardiac team were unable to repair Darragh’s heart valve and had to fit a mechanical valve. This procedure brought risks and uncertainty due to the rarity of the condition. Such was the degree of trauma to Darragh's heart during surgery, his heart had no function and to keep him alive, Darragh was put on an ECMO machine. An ECMO machine is similar to a heart-lung machine. It pumped blood around Darraghs body to give his heart time to recover. ECMO is usually only considered as a last resort.

Darragh was on this machine for five days, during which his heart function started to come back and improve each day. Unfortunately, an ECMO machine can cause blood clots, which could prove fatal to Darragh. So the sooner he was off the ECMO machine, the better.

On Monday 22nd November, he was taken off the machine and was beating his little heart on his own. A few days later his chest drains were removed and a few days after that his chest was closed. Each day, he was making improvements. He was then taken off his ventilator.

As the days passed, he was accepting more milk through his tubes and his medicines too, so the amount of IV lines he needed to give him his medicines, were decreasing. Until he just had one left, which was his blood thinner. At this stage Darragh had beautiful gummy smiles for Mammy and Daddy and all the nurses and doctors. Every day he was looking better. Darraghs consultant described what was happening as a miracle. Nobody expected him to do so well. Darragh was then moved to a less intensive ward having spent 18 days in the main ICU. The staff were trying to get him off his final IV and have all his drugs done orally through his tube so he could move to the normal heart ward. This was not to be.

On the 8th Dec, Darragh deteriorated. An echo scan revealed a blood clot was preventing his mechanical valve from working and his heart began to fail.

On Wednesday 9th Dec, after every effort was made to try to shift or dissolve the clot were unsuccessful, Darragh decided it was time to go to heaven and live with the angels. He died at 1.45pm in his Mammy’s arms surrounded by his family. Darragh was the most beautiful, brave and amazing little boy anyone could ever meet and we are so proud to call him our little boy and guardian angel. His memory will live on forever.

Our Ladys Hospital, Crumlin is the most wonderful place and needs funds all the time. Hundreds of babies and children are waiting for life saving operations now. Every penny counts. Please help us to help Crumlin in Darraghs memory.

To add a donation and support Darragh's family in their amazing efforts to raise funds, please click
Darragh's donation page. To donate, scroll over to the top right corner of the page.

Thank you on behalf of Claire, Brian, Ceire and Darragh.


April 26, 2010

Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen): The ketchup remix

Mums of the class of 2010

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, ketchup would be it. The long term benefits of ketchup have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the youth and exuberance of your children; oh never mind; you will not appreciate the youth and exuberance of your children until they have grown up. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of them and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before them and how innocent they really were. You’re not as tired as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the state of the kitchen floor; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that annoys you. Laugh. Don’t let your children be reckless in other people’s homes, don’t put up with people whose children are reckless in yours. Clean the downstairs loo. Don’t waste your time on ironing; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments your children receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your children’s drawings, throw away your old socks. Lie down. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what the hell to do with your children for the summer holidays. The most creative and energetic mothers I know didn’t know at first what the hell to do with their children for the summer holidays, most mothers I know still don’t.

Get plenty of tonic for your gin. Be kind to your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll resort to McDonald’s, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have an excessive number of toys in the house, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll be completely grey by your child’s third birthday, maybe you’ll dance the entire routine to ‘All the Single Ladies’ on your 40th birthday …what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your vacuum cleaner, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Strip naked, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions on the packaging of electronic toys, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read parenting magazines, they will only make you feel inadequate. Get to know your teeth, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your hands; they are the best link to your past and the part of your body most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that nights out come and go, but for the precious few you should make the most of them. Work hard to bridge the gaps in your make up bag because the older you get, the more you need the assistance of a good primer and foundation.

Live in a caravan once, but leave before it makes you go insane; live in a luxury hotel for two weeks, but leave before it makes you hate your own home.

Wipe up vomit.

Accept certain inalienable truths, children’s shoes are expensive, your sex life will dwindle, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that before you had children you used to buy shoes for yourself, your sex life was quite exciting and other people were old.

Respect your bras. Don’t expect anything else to support you.

Maybe you have a pot of Crème de la Mer, maybe you have a loving husband; but you never know when either one might run out. Enjoy the lustre of your hair when you’re in the full bloom of pregnancy. By the time your kids are at school, it will be dull and lifeless.

Be careful whose second hand clothes you buy, but, be patient with those who supply them.

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the waste disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the ketchup.

('Wear Sunscreen' or the 'Sunscreen Speech' are the common names of an essay titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997. Both its subject and tone are similar to the 1927 poem "Desiderata". The most popular and well-known form of the essay is the successful music single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", released in 1998, by Baz Luhrmann.)


April 25, 2010

Tough questions

As the mother of a four-and-a-half-year-old (the half is very important by the way), I am at the daily mercy of his very inquiring mind. Random thoughts and profound questions hurled at me over breakfast, when I'm driving, when I'm paying for the shopping, when I'm hanging out the washing. I'm never prepared, and never seem to know the answer! For example:

Do bees do poos? What does their poo look like?
Why can't you see air, but you can feel it?
Why can't you see planets during the daytime?
Are all stars planets?
What does a turtle look like when it's cross? (this is my personal favourite).
What do the army men do?
What makes a cloud?
How does electricity work?
How big is Jupiter?
What are those big pipes for at the side of the road?

I should have quick, snappy answers to these questions which give him the information he needs. But I don't. How do you easily explain what army men do? What are the pipes for? Do turtles ever get cross? Are planets stars? (Professor Brian Cox, if you're reading.....)

Then, in the car the other day, he piped up with this: "Mummy, I will have to leave the house when I am a daddy, won't I?"

Wow. I was banking on having at least another 18 years or so before even starting to think about that. So, I reassured him that all of that was a long, long way off, told him a brief story about mummy meeting daddy and having him and Sam and suggested he have a look at his Ben 10 magazine.

His next question: "But who will be the mummy if I am the daddy?"

Now, that is one question I definitely don't know the answer to!


April 24, 2010

Win Liz Earle Goodies

I recently wrote a review of Liz Earle skincare products. It was a glowing review and so is my skin. Check out the full details of my write up here.

You all liked the sound of this range so much that the Liz Earle people have very kindly offered to give one of my lovely readers (that's you), the chance to win an
Essentials Try-Me Kit (Cleanse & Polish, Skin Tonic and Skin Repair Moisturiser).

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave a comment below with your answer to the following question:

What do you look for in your skincare and body care products when pregnant or nursing and for your baby?

The best response (judged by me) will be the winner. The competition will run until the end of this week. Good luck!

For more details on the Liz Earle range, visit


April 16, 2010

Earle is a girl's best friend

Yes, you heard me right. Diamonds are 'very' last year. The new way to a woman's heart is the completely gorgeous range of skincare products from Liz Earle.

The very lovely and kind people there sent me a beautiful package of goodies to try. I will admit, I was a little sceptical. Having tried just about every skincare range known to womankind, could there really be anything that stood out? As it turns out, yes there is. I can honestly, honestly say that these are the loveliest products I have ever used. They smell divine, they feel divine and best of all, they actually work.

If you are unfamiliar with the brand, the iconic CLEANSE & POLISH HOT CLOTH CLEANSER (pictured above), is a fantastic product. You use the creamy lotion to remove all the daily mum grime and then polish it off with a damp muslim cloth which has the effect of a gentle exfoliation. My skin has never felt as clean and fresh and loved.

Next, the INSTANT BOOST SKIN TONIC (pictured left) is a floral toner which soothes and brightens skin. It honestly does!

Finally, the SKIN REPAIR MOISTURISER (pictured right) is lovely, light and not at all greasy. It leaves the skin with a lovely, healthy glow. (available in Normal/Combination or Dry/Sensitive).

I also tried the HAND REPAIR (pictured right) which is the best hand lotion I've ever used. Again, it smells delicious and goes on easily without the need for loads of rubbing and instantly leaves your hands with a calming, fresh feel. Hands that do dishes have never been so happy! I asked for a new pair of hands in my Mum's Letter to Santa this year - seems like he came up trumps after all!

As a busy mum who barely has time to brush my hair morning and night, I can honestly say that I have very quickly become addicted to these products and look forward to finding a couple of extra minutes at the start and end of the day to give my poor skin a much needed treat. I really think my skin looks and feels miles better than before I started using the Liz Earle products and as my own worst critic, that's praise indeed!

For more information, visit

Trust me on this one. You will not be disappointed.


April 15, 2010

A four year old's view of Spring

Hello. Me again, Max. Mummy has let me take over again because a lovely lady called Crunchie Mummy asked my mummy to ask me to answer some really difficult questions about the Springtime for her blob. This was all started by some other really grown up person called 'Ready For Ten' (I think). Oh, I'm getting a bit confused. It was something like that anyway.

So, here are the questions and my answers.

Mummy: How does the world change in the Spring?
Me: " a season. And some flowers grow."

Mummy: Lots of babies are born in the Spring, Where do you think baby animals are born?"
Me: "In a forest."

Mummy: "What did mummy do before you were born?"
Me: (shrugging shoulders) "Erm... don't know." (this one has got me thinking though...)

Mummy: "Spring is a good time to play outside. If you and mummy could spend an entire day playing outside, doing absolutely anything, what would it be?"
Me: "Erm...playing in a tent, playing football and watching us go down the slide. Playing Batman and Spiderman or Superman and Batman."

Mummy: "How long is it until Summer?"
Me: (holding up my five fingers) "Erm...five?"

I think I did quite well really. Mummy says she wants to pass this onto some other people who write blobs. She asked me to choose the ones I like the names of and I chose these:


April 8, 2010

7 things you didn't know about my infinite playlist

I have, ahem, been caught napping again and now have several meme's to catch up on. So in true 'Glee' spirit, I've decided to do a bit of a Meme Mash-Up and cover them all in one go.

So, firstly many thanks to Rosie Scribble, Slummy Single Mummy and Emma K at Mommy Has a Headache for tagging me with the 'Kreative Blogger' award for which I need to tell you 7 interesting things about myself. Interesting you say? Hmmmm......

1. I have a terrible allergic reaction to irons and ironing boards. Just looking at them makes me break out in hives and the only rememdy is to have a nice sit down with a large G&T.

2. I have a terrible phobia of vacuum cleaners and mops. I can't bear to be anywhere near them and hyperventilate if faced with either. The only thing that can calm me down is a large slice of battenburg (I know, very odd).

3. Number 1 and 2 render me practically incapable of doing any housework whatsoever. Isn't that just the saddest thing you ever heard?

4. I have never watched Grey's Anatomy or CSI Miami/New York/Sheffield (they do have one based there don't they?).

5. We are having terrible problems with molehills in the grounds of the estate at the moment. Nothing seems to deter the little blighters and my croquet lawn is absolutely ruined as a result.

6. I have a secret passion for angel delight, especially the butterscotch flavour.

7. The image below is the 10th picture in my oldest photo file (thank you to London City Mum for tagging me with this). It was taken in the grounds of an estate somewhere in Cavan but actually bears an uncanny resemblance to me at the end of this 2 week Easter break.

Thanks also to Emily at Babyrambles for tagging me with the 'Infinite Playlist' meme (started by Liz at Living With Kids) where I have to list my 5 all time favourite songs. Having thought long and hard about this (and sulked a little that I can only chose 5), my 'current' Infinite Playlist is as follows:

Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights is one of my all time favourite books and who couldn't love the piano intro to this classic song.
Come Fly With Me, Frank Sinatra: Pure rat-pack class and the song we had our first dance to at our wedding.
Let Me Entertain You, Robbie Williams: The Robster will always get me on the dance floor with this one.
Walk This Way, Run DMC/Aerosmith: Rocking brilliance
Hard To Handle, Black Crowes: Funky rocking brilliance

Finally, I also thank Whoopsie Daisy at Living in a Toybox for the 10 favourite things meme which she passed on sometime last century (see, I really was behind!). I hope the above covers some of this and if anyone is still awake and wants to read on, please see more of my favourite things here.

I think everyone in Cyberspace already has these meme's so instead of passing them on I am starting a brand new shiny meme all of my own which I will tag hundreds of you with! Watch this space.


April 6, 2010

Turning a blind eye

There have been some 'incidents' in the Hot Cross household recently which reminded me of something I promised myself. That I would never become a boring mother. In my continual efforts to instill a sense of discipline, respect, good manners, an understanding of right and wrong, battles over vegetab...(yaaaaaaawn), it's too easy to forget about the fun stuff. And then these things happened ....

'The muddy puddle'
It started innocently enough with a bit of paddling about in a small puddle of rainwater on the grass. Then someone (I suspect the smaller one) enlisted the help of watering cans to pour gallons more water onto the grass, make a MUCH bigger and muddier puddle and do loads more splashing. And the best thing about this game? They thought I couldn't see them and didn't know they were doing it. 'Boring Mother' wanted to stop them, "You're ruining the garden. Daddy will be cross. Look at the state of your trousers, they were clean on this morning, rant, rant, rant...." Luckily, their squeals of delight prevented her from emerging. So I turned a blind eye and let them at it. Daddy, as it turned out, wasn't cross at all.

'The Curious Incident of the Missing Easter Eggs'
"Where could they have gone?" asked my four-year-old, wide-eyed and proudly holding up the empty 'easter basket' which several mini eggs had been lovingly displyed in on the hall table just moments earlier? "They've completely disappeared!"

"Hmmm, that's very strange. You didn't eat them did you?"
"Are you sure?"
"Honestly, I didn't."

Now, 'Boring Mother' would have started a sensible conversation about theft, taking things without asking, and the importance of telling the truth. But how can you do any of that when the chocolate-smeared mouth doing the blatant lying is the absolute essence of childhood innocence?

(For the record, the two-year-old was also spotted pilfering chocolate eggs, but yet again, his brazen trail of foil wrappers leading from where the eggs had been to where he was sitting was just too brilliant to question).

Now, I'm not condoning theft outright, or raising an army of pickpockets (I hope), but these small things reminded me that sometimes it's alright to let the naughty step stay empty and leave 'Boring Mother' behind.
I've just convinced my four-year-old that I actually do have eyes in the back of my head and that I can turn them on and off. I think I'll leave them off for a while. It's much more fun!

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