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)

May 27, 2011

Balloon Heaven

"OK, you can take the balloon outside but don't let go of the ribbon or it will fly away."

Why I thought these woulds would prevent the inevitable from happening, I do not know. Because, well, the inevitable happened.

The pink balloon went skywards.

Whether the balloon jumped or was pushed by the well-directed elbow of an older brother, we shall never know (although we have our suspicions). But up it went, into the clouds, and for a small, three-year-old-boy, this was a tragedy of epic proportions. "Waaaahhhhhh," he wailed, "Waaaahhhhhh, my balloooooooooooon."

I couldn't do much, other than offer a sympathetic shoulder to cry on and a packet of sweets from the emergency stash (oh, who am I kidding they come out at least four times a day). I did attempt to console him by fabricating a story about lost balloons finding their way to little boys and girls who don't have a balloon - but this only caused more distress as he pointed out, "Waaaaahhhhh, but I'm a little boy who doesn't have a balloon."

Fair point.

So I conclude that there must be, for times like this, a balloon heaven, where all the balloons which have been inadvertently let go by small hands hang out and lead a happier life. Maybe the burst ones go there too? Perhaps. I like to think so anyway.

R.I.P pink balloon, we will glance to the heavens and remember you always.


May 24, 2011

Slides - they are for going down, you know.

I have something to get off my chest about playgrounds. Well, not so much playgrounds: slides to be exact, and the apparent insistence of some children to go up them, rather than down. WHY, OH WHY??? I just don't understand and it makes me very, very cross.

Maybe I'm terribly old fashioned and completely out of touch with the 'yoof of today', but as far as I was aware slides are for coming down? Right? There is usually a helpfully designed set of steps or a rope ladder or some other sort of clambering/climbing device provided for the kids to make their way to the top of the slide. Right? So I am confused as to why some kids insist on spoiling all the fun for everyone else - and reducing mums like me to a quivering wreck in the process - by running back up the slide. Erm, hello, there's a massive queue of kids at the top waiting to come down. Do you see them? Yes, those ones there. The small people who are slightly hemmed in at the top, the ones who are looking a teeny bit anxious.

This is a bit like a maternal version of fingernails on a blackboard and while it might seem like a lot of angst about nothing to some, it really grates on me. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to explain to someone else’s child – and usually a child who is of the age to be able to grasp the confounding technicalities of using a slide – that they are going to have to move out of the way or nobody else will be able to come down.

OK, I might be a bit of a ‘control freak’ and perhaps there's a touch of the swings and roundabouts in my argument as I’m sure my own children have run up a slide on the odd occasion, odd, I stress, but only when there is no one else around and certainly not when I am looking or when there is a whole gang of toddlers and pre-schoolers forming a small flash-mob at the top.

So, please, please, please parents, as we head into the longer evenings and warmer days and flock to the playgrounds for a joyful half-hour of mild anxiety, please ask your children to go down the slides. It might not be all that tricky a concept to grasp after all and will save this mother a few additional grey hairs at least.

Thank you.

Image from


May 23, 2011

No More Nappies - Bedwetting campaign

Bedwetting isn't a problem I have had to face in bringing up my two boys. We have either been remarkably fortunate, or did something right (finally, yippee), because they both moved out of nappies with only a handful of accidents and have never used pull-ups night.

While I have struggled with my 'Big Issue' of a fussy eater, enviously watching my friends' kids tucking into plateful after plateful of anything, they have envied my ability to not have to change soaked sheets through the night and every morning, because their big issue is bedwetting.

Bedwetting is a problem which affects an estimated 46,000 Irish children over the age of five - a statistic which will no doubt be surprising to many, but a relief to those parents who think this is only happening to their child.

A new survey conducted on behalf of among parents of children aged five and over has revealed that many children who wet the bed have low self-esteem as a direct result and won't have sleepovers at a friend's house, or have friends to stay in their own house because of the issue. If my child is anything to go by, sleepovers are a big deal when you're five, a kind of 'rite-of-passage' - which puts just one part of this problem into some sort of context.

Like any part of child-rearing which becomes 'an issue', bedwetting can also place a huge strain on the parents, affecting sleep patterns and work life. Most parents affected by bedwetting however are not aware that it is a treatable medical condition, with 58% of those surveyed commenting that nappies were the main source of treatment for their child.

The results of the survey were launched recently as part of the ‘No More Nappies’ campaign by with the support of Clinical Psychologist, David Coleman, who spoke at the launch. “If left untreated, bedwetting can be a distressing condition for your child. Putting them in nappies, or pull-ups, and hoping that the problem will disappear is not the best way to address the issue and could lead to your child suffering from low self-esteem as a result. Lifestyle choices such as ensuring your child goes to the toilet before bed and reducing acidic or caffeine drinks before bedtime may help considerably. It can also really help to talk to your GP because there are medical treatments that you can consider too."

Specialised website features a range of information on bedwetting including a detailed questionnaire for parents to fill in and bring to their GP in order to help determine whether their child needs further treatment. The new and improved site also hosts a ‘Dry Nights Diary’ in order for parents to keep a close eye on any patterns that may be emerging.

For further information on bedwetting, speak to your GP or visit

This is a sponsored post on behalf of


May 18, 2011

When Mickey didn't meet Elizabeth

It's a big week in Dublin this week - we have The Queen here for the first time EVER and we also have our first Disney Store opening. Being a Brit by birth and having just turned 21 again (ahem), I am well aware that I should probably be more excited about the historic event of the Queen and should write insightful thoughts about how profound her visit is but........

.....well, I'm much more excited about the new Disney Store which opens today on Dublin's Grafton Street (sorry Your Highness). I actually think the PR people on both sides have missed a trick - surely getting The Queen to open the new store would have been a media coup of epic proportions. I'm sure President Mary McAleese would have loved to utter the words, 'Mickey, meet Elizabeth. Elizabeth, Mickey." Oh, it would have been priceless but, sadly, not to be.

Unlike the Queen, who will sadly miss all the razzmatazz of the grand opening, I was lucky enough to see the store with my two boys before it opened to the general public today - to say that they were excited is probably the year's biggest understatement. I, of course, restrained myself like a proper grown up and only let out a few yelps of excitement when I saw the amazing displays of toys and the magic, interactive trees and the princess area....

I've written about Disney for the Irish Independent this week and although I know some people are staunchly anti-Disney and the power such a massive corporation can wield, I am basically a big kid at heart and seem to be able to just enjoy Disney for what it is and especially while my kids are still young enough to jump up and down in excitement about a toy racing car. It's just a bit of make believe isn't it?

So, while I wish The Queen a pleasant stay in The Emerald Isle (despite the fact that she has buggered up our entire day tomorrow while our town is on lock down), I extend a slightly warmer welcome to Tinkerbell, Buzz, Mickey and Cinderella. Ireland has had enough doom and gloom recently and, for what it's worth, I reckon we are long overdue a bit of pixie dust and sparkle. Yeee-haaa.


May 17, 2011

Lego Games Ramses Return - a Netmums Review

As part of a SWAT team of bloggers pushing reviews to the limit for Netmums, I have been asked to put new Lego Game 'Ramses Return' to the test. This is the kind of challenge we like at Hot Cross Towers, in fact, you only need to mention the word 'Lego' in our house and mass excitement is unleashed. So when a package arrived, addressed to me, and the box for the Ramses Return game fell out, all hell broke loose.

Reeling in shock from the disappointment that I hadn't just opened another early birthday present for myself, I barely noticed my 3 and a half year old running around say, "Oh yes, oh yes, it's Ramses Return." Given the fact that I hadn't even said what it was, this can only mean that he is watching far too much TV (note to self). Anyway, we opened the box, followed the instructions and got on with the game.

The boys both really loved building the game first - this is done in the same way all Lego toys come, with the page by page instruction booklet. Although the game is aimed for ages 7+ my 3 and 5 yr old had it put together with only a bit of assistance needed from me (I would have liked to assist more, but they wouldn't let me, so I had a little sulk from the corner of the room).

The object of the game is to move your Adventurer (a teeny Lego person) around the Lego board, picking up crystals and golden treasure. There is also a Mummy who any player can move , who can 'curse' other players and send them back to the start. It reminded me a little bit of a game I played as a child called 'Sorry' and is also a bit like PacMan in some respects - but obviously with Lego and not a computer game (so maybe not really like PacMan at all). A great feature of the Lego Games is that they come with online demo videos - like this one.

Anyway, we definitely give this the thumbs up, not only because it is Lego which means there is a construction element to it, as well as the actual game, but because it is a fun little game which the boys have gone back to play several times since we opened the box. The Lego games encourage you to change the rules and use the pieces in different ways - I like that idea too. Oh, and the game comes with a nifty little 'pick axe' type tool which levers tricky bits of Lego off the dice, and of course, can be used with all Lego so this, we love.

All in all, a thumbs up from us. My only 'caution' would be that the game, and all the parts, are much smaller than they look on the box or website, so if you don't yet have Lego in the house and have small children crawling around who are liable to put things into their mouth, this may give you untold amounts of stress!

There are lots of Lego Games in the range for ages 5 and upwards, and I am sure we will be looking out for these as well. Full details are on the Lego Games website.


May 11, 2011

40 things I've enjoyed on the way to 40: Part 2

Continuing my trip down memory lane, I give you the remaining 20 things I've enjoyed on the way to reaching the ripe old ago of 40. The first 20 are listed here.

21. The Young Ones, Blackadder, The Hit Man and Her
22. Scott and Charlene's wedding (sob)

23. Diamond White, Taboo, Archers Peach Schnapps
24. Body Shop White Musk, Anais Anais, Samsara and Poison
25. 'Madchester', Afflecks Palace and The Hacienda
26. Celebrating the year 2000 at Sydney Opera House
27. Running the London Marathon
28. Live Aid - the original one
29. Rosemary Conley's Hip and Thigh Diet

30. The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman
31. Sooty and Sweep (almost forgot them)
32. Soda stream coke
33. Revlon Flex Conditioner
34. Pierrot clowns (see above)
35. Climbing Ayers Rock
36. Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef
37. The 'Who shot JR' cliff-hanger in Dallas
38. Meeting my husband and moving to Ireland (I have to put that in or he'll divorce me)
39. Kate and William's wedding
40. Becoming a mummy

All in all, it hasn't been a bad 40 years at all. Here's to the next 40!


May 8, 2011

Note to self

I just wanted to write a few words to remind you that you should not be discouraged, or totally fed up or disheartened because everything you read and hear about the publishing industry at the moment seems to be bad news for writers, even the really successful ones with dozens of best-sellers behind them, let alone for the, frustratingly titled, 'Budding Novelists' out there.

I know it's very bloody frustrating that just at the point in your life when you finally had the maturity, discipline, conviction, ideas, inspiration, decent coffee and nifty Netbook to actually start writing those novels you've been going on about writing for literally 20 years, the publishing industry seemed to pack up and move to the moon but......... should not be discouraged, or fed up or disheartened because, well, quite frankly, you're going to keep writing those pages anyway aren't you, because you can't not keep writing them.

So, when your characters have an entire conversation in your head while you blow dry your hair and when you wake up in the middle of the night and seem to have found a clever way to get your plot to go in the right direction, you should keep writing it all down. Block out the cynics and the sceptics and those who tell you it is practically impossible for an unpublished author to be signed 'these days'. Keep going to book launches in the hope that by the laws of probability it should work out that, one day, maybe, it will be yours.

Keep writing and make it the best bloody writing you are capable of and then edit it to make it even better. And then keep your fingers crossed and your anti-rejection force-field switched on. After all, everyone loves a trier!


May 5, 2011

Avon Calling

As you may have noticed from recent posts, I am in a nostalgic mood at the moment so when a friend asked me if I would mention a new Avon product on my blog, I was immediately transported back to the 1970s and leapt at the chance!

Of course, the 'Avon Calling' ads I remember from my childhood are a far cry from the Avon of today which is an entirely modern cosmetics company boasting Reese Witherspoon, Fergie and Patrick Dempsey among it's celebrity product endorsers. Unbelievably, Avon celebrates its 125th birthday this year - now that is old!

I remember flicking through my mum's Avon brochure and picking out nail polishes and bubble baths. As a little girl I was mesmerised by the pages and pages of pretty coloured make up. And oh, how I longed and longed to be old enough to get some of the terribly exotic looking Arabian Glow when I was grown up. Well, guess what, I did!

Anyone who uses Avon products tends to be immediately converted and there are some fantastic offers in the brochures. The current promotion is for the Anew Skincare Regime - an anti-ageing regime which claims to rejuvenate your skin within 14 days. Quick! The set includes a cleanser, moisturiser and eye cream for...........ten euros.
These products which are usually priced at €42.85 are available for 30+, 40+, 50+ or 60+ age ranges (so take your pick!). The products are featured here and other Avon products have been reviewed on

For details of this latest offer, which is available for a limited period only, visit Elaine at the Avon Kilcullen Facebook Page or Avon Ireland. If you are based in the UK, and want to know more about Avon products, visit Avon UK.


May 3, 2011

What's the most exciting thing when you are 5?

Well, I'm sure there are a lot of contenders but for my five-year-old (or five-and-a-half-year-old to give him his FULL title), the most exciting thing when you are 5 is........................................................ having your bedroom furniture moved around!

Having been met with squeals of delight when he discovered his first wobbly tooth recently, I honestly thought there could be no more excitement left until at least his sixth birthday. But then, bored of wondering whether I should tackle the ironing and looking frantically around for another distraction from that most tedious of chores, I suggested we move his bed to the other side of his room. He looked at me a little suspiciously. "Erm, no thanks mum. I like my bedroom like this."


Undeterred, I convinced him that it would be great and while he had a bath I dragged and lifted and heaved and shoved and hoovered (couldn't help it - there was a shocking amount of dust behind the bed) and reorganised books and teddies and stood back to survey my work. It was good. Very good. It looked like a totally different room, but even I couldn't have predicted just how good this would be to his young eyes.

His newly arranged bedroom was greeted with what can only be described as absolute and utter, unadulterated, childish excitement. Whoops of joy, spinning around on the floor, screams of excitement for his little brother to come and look, jumping on the bed, turning lamps on and off - nothing at all was new, but to him it couldn't have been any better.

"Mummy," he beamed at me, arms uplifted in amazement, "This is a whole new day for me. A whole new day! This is the best day ever of my life. This is even better than having a wobbly tooth. It is just soooooooooooo cool. I can't believe it. I just can't believe it!"

Proof, if proof were ever needed that you literally do not have to spend one cent to bring your children untold pleasures and, what is more, concrete evidence that you should never, ever underestimate the power of a serious resistance to a pile of ironing.


May 2, 2011

40 things I've enjoyed on the way to 40: Part 1

Yes, I was a child of the '70s and '80s and as I will be celebrating the ripe old age of FORTY in a couple of weeks, I thought I would become a bit nostalgic and rummage through my decaying brain cells for some gems from my misspent youth. So, here are the first 20 things I have enjoyed immensely on the way to being 40. Any young 'uns reading this won't have a clue what half of the below means (and I offer no apology for that whatsoever!), but for anyone reaching their middle-age years, I hope this brings back fond memories!

1. Midget gems, especially the white and red ones, Wham Bars, Space dust (aka popping candy) and the strictly forbidden candy cigarettes.
2. Lilt, Monster Munch and potted meat sandwiches on school trips.

3. The Dooleys - my first childhood crush on some odd man with alarmlingly feminine hair

4. Sticks of rhubarb straight out of the garden, dipped into bowls of sugar
5. Miss World and Eurovision Song Contests - oh, the excitement, the excitement!
6. The Incredible Hulk on Friday night telly
7. The Dukes of Hazzard on a Saturday teatime
8. Swap Shop
9. Jim'll Fix It
10. Grange Hill
11. Babycham, Asti Supmante, Blue Nun, Mateus Rose and Black Tower wine

12. Making perfume out of rose petals from the garden
13. Mr Benn, Bagpuss, Barbapapa, Ivor The Engine, The Clangers....the list is endless.
14. Sindy dolls
15. Look In, Smash Hits and Just 17 magazines
16. 'Frankie Says Relax' t.shirts
17. Pedal pushers, ra-ra skirts, pixie boots, Batwing jumpers, satin dungarees (or maybe they were my sisters - not quite sure)
18. My Raleigh Wisp bike and wooden Maxply McEnroe tennis racquet birthday presents
19. Seeing Abba live at Wembley Arena
20. Athena posters

Ahhh, the memories! More next week.

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