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)

September 28, 2010

La Maison du Maman

An interesting social experiment took place in our house today. It didn't start out as that, but it sort of turned into one. It started out as a disagreement over where and what we were going to have for tea (rolls eyes heavenwards).

"Can we go to a restaurant?" piped up the bigger boy as we strolled home from the library.



Hmmm - let me think about that one. "Well, we only go to restaurants on special occasions and when Daddy is here."

"Oohhhhhh muuuuuuuuum."

Much huffing and puffing and rolling of eyes heavenwards later, I relented a little and suggested setting up a restaurant of our own at home. This turned out to be a very popular idea so I set to with a blanket/tablecloth, kitchen towel napkins, Ikea's finest plastic tableware and a menu from the local Indian takeaway; all resulting in something quite posh looking to a 3 and 5 year old. With Florence and the Machine as background music and mood lighting provided by the huge rain cloud outside, I declared 'La Maison du Maman' open for business.

Seats were taken. Napkins were placed gently on the laps. The menu was carefully perused and the chef special of 'Ouefs avec fromage et frites du fourneau avec legumes (cheese omelette, oven chips, baby sweetcorn and peas to you and I) was eaten peacefully and with minimal fuss.

"We have to talk quietly when we're in a restaurant," the elder customer reminded his younger brother. As I served the required extra chips, I even got a, "Thank you for your honesty lady." I presume he meant hospitality.

"Yes, thank you lady," piped up the other customer.

A kitchen with a frazzled mummy in it generally isn't very appealing and leads to all manner of mealtime messing. However, a 'restaurant' with a 'chef' it would seem brings out the best in my kids. La Maison du Maman may be extending its opening hours.


September 27, 2010

Waking up at Dublin zoo

No, I wasn't the victim of a bad hen-night prank gone wrong! I was one of a privileged few who were invited to Dublin Zoo last Saturday morning to meet the keepers and follow them as they wake and feed the animals. It was early, it was chilly, but nobody really cared about that as the early morning autumn sun shone on the chimps as they ambled out of their overnight enclosure and deftly caught the apples the keeper threw to them for breakfast; beckoning cheekily for more when they were ready. Come to think of it, the whole scenario was actually very reminiscent of my usual morning breakfast routine!

From the chimps we moved on to watch the rhinos, zebras, giraffes and elephants all waking up, greeting each other and stretching their legs (a very long stretch in the case of the giraffes).

It really was very special to watch the animals in such a peaceful setting and to hear their keepers talk about them so knowledgeably and fondly.

We all had a wonderful time and it really was a great way to spend a sunny autumn day. The zoo was bursting with life and colour and without the summer crowds, the children were able to see all the animals very clearly. If you're looking for something to do with the children over the coming weekends, I would highly recommend it.

Thank you to everyone at Dublin Zoo, especially the keepers, for their hospitality and for giving us a wonderful experience.

For more information about the zoo, and a list of special events coming up in the autumn, visist


September 23, 2010

When you were young.....

When I was young, I wanted to be a PE teacher! I know. Shocking! I think this bizarre idea probably came from watching too much Grange Hill or something. I was always very sporty at school so, with very little awareness of many other 'careers' (having elimenated the usual ones of nurse, air hostess or hairdresser at a young age), this seemed like an obvious choice.

And then for some reason that all got ditched and when we had our career options meetings in 6th form, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. "But you're very good at English," they said, "Would you not like to go and study English at university?" Erm, not really. My sister was doing that I didn't want to be accused of blatant copying!

Then I was put off law by someone telling me I might end up having to defend a mass mur-diddily-erderer or something, so I canned that idea (not having received any decent advice about solicitors, barristers, careers in business or corporate law or other types of law not involving the criminal underworld) and I ended up doing a Business degree. A safe, general, keep-your-options open kind of choice which led to a career Human Resources (cue the boos!).

And now, when I am not so young? Now I want to be a writer. And in many ways I am. I freelance, I blog, I've had interest from agents and publishers, I've had a column in a newspaper, I'm working on a novel. I write every day in some form or other. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! So much more enjoyable than trying to encourage a bunch of sweaty kids to run around a track, or carrying out the legal due diligence on a business takeover, or interviewing the 50th socially inept candidate for a vacancy which is impossible to fill. But until I see my book, my creation, sitting there on the bookshelf, I can't really, truly believe I am a writer.

Suffice, to say, that I didn't really know what I wanted to be when I was young. But I do now.

Thank you to the lovely Karen at If I Could Escape for passing this meme onto me. “What did you want to be when you were young” is the new brainchild of The Blog Up North. I would now like to pass the honor onto the following. Please borrow the graphic, mention who tagged you, tag some others and get writing. And, even if you’ve not been tagged, please feel free to join in.


September 22, 2010

Sometimes I forget

Sometimes I forget how small my children are.
Sometimes I forget that all they really want is a cuddle, a blanket and a favourite teddy.
Sometimes I forget that I didn't like broccoli either when I was a child.
Sometimes I forget to be amazed by their smartness, love, cuteness and wonder at the world.
Sometimes I forget to put that lovely picture they brought home up on the fridge.
Sometimes I forget tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them.
Sometimes I forget that reading one more chapter of a favourite story is more important that starting the dinner.
Sometimes I forget that when you are little, it is never too cold to eat ice cream.
Sometimes I forget that my children don't understand why I have to 'do jobs' and why we sometimes just have to go somewhere, right now.
Sometimes I forget that when you are little, it is much more exciting to hide under the kitchen table than to brush your teeth.
Sometimes I forget that it is quite a long walk to the village shops when you have little legs.

Sometimes I forget all these things. But today, as my children ran off enthusiastically to say hi to their new friends and strode confidently into their respective new schools, I remembered. So I thought I would write them down, to share with you.


September 18, 2010

Wise words

As I finished reading Roald Dahl's 'Danny, the Champion of the World' to my five-year-old last night, I was struck by the words at the very end of the book:


to Children Who Have Read This Book

When you grow up
and have children of your own
do please remember
something important

a stodgy parent is no fun at all

What a child wants
and deserves
is a parent who is


Wise words indeed.


September 15, 2010

Preview of new Disney movie: TANGLED

Walt Disney Pictures presents TANGLED, one of the most hilarious, hair-raising tales ever told. When the kingdom’s most wanted—and most charming—bandit Flynn Rider is taken hostage by Rapunzel, a feisty teen with 70 feet of golden hair who’s looking for her ticket out of the tower where she’s been locked away for years, the unlikely duo sets off on a hilarious, hair-raising escapade filled with adventure, heart, humour and hair—lots of hair.

TANGLED is released in Irish cinemas in Jan 2011 in Disney Digital 3D™, but if you can't wait until then, you can see a sneak preview of TANGLED right here, right now. And don't say I never give you anything! Enjoy.


September 13, 2010

Pakistan's Children

We've all watched the images on our TV screens of the utter devastation which has hit Pakistan due to the worst floods the country has ever experienced.

While we watch, we are usually compelled to do something to help. And then perhaps the phone rings, or your child cries and you get distracted and the Pakistan floods are forgotten again.

Millions of people, many of them children, have been affected by the floods and urgently need our help.

Please take 2 minutes to watch this
short video by Ewan McGregor for UNICEF . It will maybe serve as a reminder of that support you intended to give.

For just £10 you can provide an entire family with safe drinking water. For £30 you can provide vaccinations to protect more than 30 children against life threatening diseases.

Click here to go straight to the UNICEF donation page.

Thank you.


September 11, 2010

That's not my house....

That’s not my house, its windows are too dirty.

That’s not my house, its floors are too grubby.

That’s not my house, its kitchen bin is too smelly.

That’s not my house, its bookcase is too dusty.

That’s not my house, its garden furniture has wet rot.

That’s not my house, its kitchen cupboards need a good sorting out.

That’s not my house, its tomato plants have all fallen over and no-one can be bothered to pick them up.

That's not my house, its inhabitants are too noisy.

That's not my house, its front garden is too weedy.

That's not my house, its sandpit is too spidery.

That’s not my house……oh, hang on, that actually is my house.


September 8, 2010

How lovely

This is a sponsored post on behalf of

Before I start waxing lyrical about fashion, may I please point out that I am by no stretch of the imagination a Gok Wan or a Trinny & Susannah or in any way fashionable really. Most days I do well to put on a crumpled pair of jeans, a t.shirt which isn't marked with some sort of child-created mess and some footwear. It's not that often I get chance to make it to an actual clothes shop so imagine my delight when the very lovely people at gave me the opportunity to select something from their site up to the value of £50. Oh happy day indeed!

So, I made my way straight over to their site and started browsing. I suddenly realised this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought. What to choose? How to spend my £50 wisely?

I had heard of and seen the ads with Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby but had never visited the site before. I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised and found a number of products I liked. There was this gorgeous dress, for example. priced under £50. The clothes seems to be very reasonably priced and there's a great range on the site.

In the end, I went for the lovely funnel neck coat in purple pictured at the top, which I am really pleased with. Lovely fit, good quality, fully lined and at under £50, great value. OK, it might not be camel (which my fashionably astute friend informs me is all the rage for AW10) but camel schmamel I say. Bring on the purple!

I will definitely use again and may even be inspired enough to get myself out of those boring jeans and t.shirts!


Money for nothing

I've had a few discussions with friends recently about two things: pocket money and the tooth fairy (of course we also talked about quantum physics, the political state of the Middle East and how many eggs it takes to frighten Tony Blair - but money was top of the agenda).

Opinions on the matter of 'how much' pocket money or tooth fairy money to give your child seem to vary hugely, and I wondered what everyone else thought.

To set my stall out, we have recently started giving our (nearly) 5 yr old pocket money for doing a few simple jobs such as tidying his bedroom, setting the table and taking his dinner plate up to the sink. He gets a 50 cent coin, or smaller coins to the value of 50 cent. He loves getting this money and is keeping it all in a little purse. Other friends are giving between 3 to 10 euros pocket money for children of a similar age - some do little jobs for this, others have to do nothing.

The tooth fairy hasn't been required at our house yet, but I have recently heard of 3 euros and, in one case, 50 euros (gulp) being given per tooth.

I may be completely out of touch, but am of the opinion that at this stage, the 'amount' of money isn't what's important. Surely it is about the concept of starting to value reward (in terms of the pocket money being given in return for a few jobs) and starting to save up your coins in your piggy bank ( or purse in my little boy's case!).

What do you think? I am the reincarnation of Ebeneezer Scrooge, or is a small coin enough at the age of 5?
Image of Retrospot Piggy Bank from DotComGiftShop


September 3, 2010

Domestic Collectives

So, we all know that it's a 'Pod' of dolphins, a 'Litter' of kittens, a 'Pride' of lions, a 'Flock' of sheep. But did you know about a 'Crash' of rhinos or a 'Mischief' of mice? No, me neither until I watched a children's DVD the other day, which got me thinking.

So, in the spirit of 'Back To School' time, and continuing our education, I thought I would share a few more 'Collective Nouns' with you all. You may not be familiar with all of these. I like to call them 'Domestic Collectives'.

A 'Bombardment' of laundry

An 'Annoyance' of toast crumbs

A 'Frustration' of toys

A 'Confusion' of socks

A 'Ridiculousness' of plastic cups and beakers

An 'Embarrassment' of cobwebs

A 'Repulsion' of loo brushes

A 'Disappointment' of uneaten meals

A 'Clutter' of plastic magazine toys

A 'Chaos' of breakfast cereals

A 'Depression' of ironing

A 'Crumple' of bed sheets

A 'Dither' of things for the charity shop

An 'Avoidance' of dust

An 'Awkwardness' of duvet covers

Did I miss any?


September 1, 2010

Every Day's A School Day

Today was a big day. Today you started 'big' school. How on earth that tiny baby we brought home nearly 5 years ago grew up so quickly, I will never know.

You couldn't get to sleep last night or eat your breakfast this morning because you were so excited. You told me your tummy felt funny. I said that this was probably because you had butterflies in your tummy. You said you thought they were actually dragonflies. You are so smart you are probably right.

You couldn't wait to put on your school clothes this morning. You thought it was 'so cool' to be wearing them and Daddy lifted you up so you could see yourself in the big mirror. You smiled a huge smile.

We wanted to take a photo of you on your big day. You wanted us to take a photo of your Ben 10 school bag.

You were ready to leave 45 minutes before we needed to. I suspect this is the first and last time that will ever happen.

Standing in line in the school yard you said hello to a few new friends and so did I. "Mummy, mummy," you said tugging at my sleeve, "when can we go inside?"

Finally, the teacher called us in. You held my hand and strolled into the classroom as if you'd been going there all your life. You told the teacher your name, put your bag down and walked off to sit down. I waved goodbye. You waved back and smiled. I was so proud of you.

You know so much already, but there is so much more for you to learn. I know you will soak it all up, think about it and then ask me lots and lots of difficult questions. I look forward to it.

Today was a very special day. We reached another milestone and proudly passed it. No tears. No need to worry. Just lots of excitement and hopes for a brilliant future ahead.

The dragonflies in your tummy will soon settle down, but I hope that a few continue to flutter and that a little part of you is always as excited about school as you were today.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin