Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For the moment, he's mine.

Charlie has been sleeping in our bed for nearly two years now. I mean, he has his own bed, and starts out in it every night, but by morning he's in with us. (And it all started at 18 months, when he would cry and Marcus would get him out of his cot and bring him into our bed. So Marcus is to blame, really).

Some people say you should be firm and take the child back to his own room, straightaway. The problem is you have to be awake -- I hardly ever wake up when Charlie gets into our bed. I wake up and there he is, kicking me and flailing about and stealing the blanket and complaining he doesn't have enough space. Well, no kidding. But your empty twin bed in the room next door has lots of space, little man...

He's grown over the summer, so it is getting more crowded. Sometimes when I'm half asleep and he's sleeping next to me (looking like a baby, you know the way kids look so little when they sleep) I get confused. What child is this? Caitlyn? No, it's Charlie, I can tell because he's taking up half the bed.

But it is also very sweet and warm and snuggly to be together, to see his eyes flutter open and hear the first thought that pops into his head in the morning. Which might be about his stuffed dog, or might be a song about bananas, or might be a dream-fight he's having with his sister.

This evening I had a little chat with him: 'Charlie, why don't you stay in your own bed? Why do you get into mine? Are you scared, or cold?'

'I like your bed and I like you Mommy. And when the sun starts to be shiny in the sky I want to be with you.'

Let me write that down for you, Son. Because (with a little tweaking) that could make a great proposal one day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm just sayin'

SOMEBODY I know needs to learn:

The bathroom contains the only toilet in the house, a facility 3 other members of the family need to use on occasion, including before we leave the house in the morning.

The bathroom has all the toothbrushes and toothpaste, which 4 other members of the house need to use every morning before we leave.

The bathroom is where I keep my contact lenses, which I like to put in my eyes before I drive the kids to school/nursery, so I can see the other cars and traffic lights and stuff.

The bathroom has the best mirror in the house to put on make-up in the morning, so I don't frighten small children/other mothers/innocent passers-by on the way to school.

The bathroom...

is not your personal reading library. Please find another location for pondering deep thoughts.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dul ar scoil

We have been in Ireland for 6 1/2 years now, and a lot of the culture shock has worn off. I've gotten used to the currency, the driving on the other side of the road, the bits of Irish language scattered here and there. I've gotten used to different attitudes towards drinking, healthcare, and hospitality. I've even gotten used to the bells that ring at 12 and 6 pm every day urging us to stop and think of Mary.

So I'm feeling less like a 'non-national' now (although I still am one, I guess) and more like just part of the community. I can navigate Irish life all right, and can (and have) give advice to others who have just moved here.

But then, things change, new challenge: school.

It's hard enough to send your child to school the first time. At least if we were in the US I could picture what it would be like, would have fuzzy feelings towards school buses and red playground balls and kindergarten. But I've never experienced Irish primary school before, so I'm learning along with my daughter. Some things are the same -- lining up, toilet breaks, school milk and sticker charts. Some things are different. Here's what I've learned, so far:

  • There are no state-run schools (although the government gives them some money), all schools are run by churches. Most are Catholic. Alannah goes to a Methodist school, partly because it's small and close by, but also to avoid the overboard First Holy Communion that happens at 7 years old (so she isn't surrounded by kids getting a white dress and a big party and lots of money while she gets nothing).
  • You have to sign up for schools, you don't automatically get assigned a local one. Most people put their child's name down when he/she is just a baby.
  • There are no hot meals in Irish schools (except some pricey private schools). Everyone takes a packed lunch and eats at their desk.
  • The subjects are pretty typical, reading and 'maths' (I don't know why there's an s on it) science, etc. Also Irish, which is non-comprehensible to me and I don't think I will ever be able to help her with it.
  • The first year is called Junior Infants, or JI, or sometimes low babies. Next is Senior Infants, followed by 1st class, 2nd class, etc. to 6th class. Then they move on to secondary school, which is 1st year, etc. At 3rd year (15 years old, usually) they take a national test called the Junior certificate. 4th year is Transition year, with lots of field trips, service projects, job internships, trying out different subjects, and the like. At 6th year (18) they take the national Leaving Certificate test.
  • Children generally start school at 4, but can wait until they are five or even six. This is largely up to the parent's decision. Some schools have a cut-off date earlier in summer, but ours was just 'four by the first day of school'. Alannah has an August birthday, so we kept her out until she was five. I think about half of her class (of only 12 kids!) are already five, and some were spring, not summer birthdays.
  • For the first TWO years they finish at 1 pm. Then for the next 6 years they finish at 2 pm. (School starts at 8:30) What am I supposed to do with them the rest of the afternoon...

So that's what I've learned so far. Oh, and they are already asking us for money left right and center. Books and uniform and milk subscription and swimming and 'voluntary contribution' (which isn't really voluntary).

It's the start of the fourth week tomorrow, and still every day when I drop her off (oh, there are no school buses. Most of us walk, a few scooter/cycle, and a handful drive) I want to stay and peer in through the window. I'm not worried about her. I just want to know what's going on!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Summer just gone

I looked at the date of my last blog entry.....July??? Someone has gotten laaaaazy.....

But hmm, why didn't I write anything in July and August? Oh I remember now. Nursery finished for the summer and I had three kids who TALKED to ME NON-STOP (even the one who can't talk yet!) all day every day.

So during the days I tried to do the bare mimimum of housework and encourage the kids to go play without me, while hearing constantly : When are you finished? Will you play with me? What can I play? What are you doing? Will you play with me? Can we watch TV? Will you play with me? What can I do then?

Or sometimes the talking would progress to telling me about what the imaginary friends were doing, prompting me to say 'Go PLAY with your imaginary friends instead of talking about them to ME!' Because who cares about what decorations Angelina Ballerina is having at her birthday party and whether or not FiFi and Lily and Lucy are invited and if they are going to dress up and play pass the parcel and eat fairy cakes and open presents? Not me, that's who.

Then at night I tired to do work-work. But mostly ended up reading other people's blogs, how they went on great adventures or built teepees or taught their children lowercase letters or made homemade perfume or sewed play clothes out of old curtains. And I would get all tense and project-y and declare that i would do something worthwhile with the children the next day. Then the next day it would take me all morning to load the dishwasher while answering questions, and then I didn't feel like making teepees with anyone.

But now. September. School. I love you school.

There is still a fair amount of talking in the afternoons, and we are still getting used to the new schedule and the to-ing and fro-ing of it all. But by next week I will have 3 mornings a week with just one child.

Who is threatening to give up her morning nap. But I'm not giving up that hour of quiet without a fight. I've been dreaming of it all summer!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Red-faced 2.0

The doctor said ‘It’s Scarlet Fever’ with such nonchalance that I just nodded my head and tried to be casual, too. But in my head I was shouting:

‘Isn’t that what made Mary Ingalls go blind?!!!’
‘Isn’t that what killed Beth in Little Women?!!!’
‘This boy was born in 2006, not 1906. How can he have Scarlet Fever?!!!’

He wasn’t even that sick. He had been all feverish and lethargic the two days before, but had started to perk up and was in 3 year old quiz master mode the whole time we were in the doctor’s office. Who is he mommy. What’s wrong with her leg. Why’s he got no hair. Why do we have to wait. Where is the doctor. What color is the doctor’s shirt. What color is the doctor’s house. Does the doctor have a dog…

I had only brought him in because it was Friday afternoon and he had developed a strange symptom – a bright red tongue with bumps on it. The doctor took a look at the tongue, checked the swollen glands, asked if there was a rash (there isn’t, even though that is the main symptom of scarlet fever) and made her diagnosis.

She explained to me that it’s pretty much like strep throat, will go away with antibiotics, and not too uncommon. How come I only know fictional characters from the last century who have had it then?

Once I was reassured he was going to be okay, my next thought was:

‘This is going to make a great Facebook status!’

Laura Ingalls is churning butter.
Laura Ingalls is waiting for Pa to come home in his wagon.
Laura Ingalls is eating salt pork, yum!
Laura Ingalls is so mad at Nelly for pushing her in the creek.
Laura Ingalls has a crush on a certain ‘manly’ someone with shaggy hair.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moments of mom-ness

There are some moments that I find myself looking at myself and thinking 'that's such a mom thing.' Brief flashes of a gesture, a movement, a phrase that reminds me of my mother, of other people's mothers, of mothers on TV.

Not the big things, like holding a brand-new still hot and slimy newborn to your chest, or waving your child off to school, cleaning up after an early-morning puke session or having a 'serious chat' about some big issue. Just tiny moments of momness. Here's a few I can think of:

Standing at the kitchen counter making peanut butter sandwiches.

Feeding a baby in a highchair and using the spoon to wipe up that bit around the mouth (and shove it back in).

Unzipping a school bag and pulling out artwork/school notices.

Turning the wriggled-out-of pair of jeans right side out.

Looking at the back seat occupants in the rear-view mirror to answer a question.

Tidying up the living room with a book under my arm, toys in my hand, and sweat shirt slung over my shoulder.

Pushing a (very full) grocery cart.

Handing the baby my car keys to play with.

Producing a tissue from my bag...especially if it's not for one of my children.

I have been out of high school for 17 years, married for nearly 10 and a mother for nearly 5, and still these moments can catch me off guard. I am a MOM, just like my mom, just like other moms, I do mom-like things. How weird is that?

Saturday, July 04, 2009


So usually hardly anyone blogs on Saturdays, then my friend Jo hooks me with this ‘Stories in My Pocket’ Saturdays, which I really love. Then even she says she can’t manage it this week, because who’s going to blog on a Saturday that’s the Fourth of July?

An ex-pat American, that’s who. No family to visit, no fireworks, no Fourth of July celebration to go to. I made iron-on t-shirts for the kids, we had a barbecue, and I was not allowed to sing patriotic songs (my husband does not like My Country tis of Thee, seeing as the tune is his actual national anthem, and America is not the only country where ‘at least I know I’m free’).

And I did some reminiscing. Here’s my best Independence Day story:

I grew up in a small Midwestern town that every year has a parade for the Fourth of July. It’s mainly fire trucks followed by pick-up trucks with various community groups in the back – the girl scouts, the Kiwanis, city council, that sort of thing. They throw candy to the children in the crowd. Who run out into the street, fight each other for it, and knock some smaller kid to the asphalt who looks up wailing just as another fire truck comes down the road, blaring its siren as loud as possible. Fun times!

There’s also the bike parade. Local kids decorate their bikes, ride along with the parade, and get judged at the end for the most patriotic bike.

My mom wasn’t going to shell out for crepe paper and streamers and ribbons and the like, so I set about finding my own (free) way to creatively decorate my wheels. So I could WIN that $5 McDonald’s gift certificate.

We were out for ice cream at our local Baskins and Robbins and I noticed they had the empty ice cream drums, washed out and sitting by the side. I asked if I could have one. To picture it, the ice-cream drum was about the size of a wastepaper basket, with white plastic on the inside and brown paper on the outside.

I decided I could be a ‘bike-astronaut’. I painted my ice cream-drum white, added a few blobs I hoped would look like flags, donned a grey sweatsuit (on a 90 degree July day!) and headed up for the parade.

Hoping my homespun, cheap ingenuity would beat out the bikes with ruffles and bows and pom-poms and actual flags (all probably decorated by the parents) I popped on my helmet and waited for the parade.

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. ‘I’m sorry, little girl, you can’t be in the parade like that.’
Faux-indignant, because I had a feeling this might happen, ‘Why not?’
‘You have to be able to see where you’re going.’

I hadn’t cut a hole in my astronaut helmet. I had just planned to peek out the bottom and follow the wheels of the person in front. But apparently, that was a safety hazard (unlike teaching children to run into the street to look for candy).

They let me ride in the parade anyway, with no helmet and no decoration, just a grey sweatsuit and a red face. I didn’t win.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Surprised by the beat

This time of year makes me think about the years I worked at summer camp (and I’m grateful I’m not working there any more!) One summer my sister and I went to California to work at Camp Mt. Crags/Camp Gilmore.

A lot of the staff had grown up spending summers as campers there, and now were back as camp staff, so they all knew each other really well. So my sister and I mostly hung out with the foreign staff. As orientation week went on, our group sort of loosely formed into a pack of six – Jon, Marcus, and Ed, Melissa, Helen (my sister) and me.

It was a Christian camp, and our evening sessions often involved some singing. One night the camp cook ( who was the drummer in the worship band) cut his finger preparing dinner so he couldn’t play.

Marcus offers (in that understated British way) ‘I can play the drums a bit if you’re stuck’ and sits down at the drum set.

Well. Now.

1. Good looking
2. Funny
3. English accent
4. Plays drums

I hadn’t realized until that point in my life that the ability to play drums was a desirable quality. I think it was the icing on a particularly fanciable cake.

That was 15 years ago this week! He doesn’t get to play the drums that much any more, but he did make me a delicious cappuccino this morning AND change a ferocious nappy.

This story is part of my friend at Mylestones' Stories in My Pocket series. I'm not sure how to do the pretty link thing, but go to her site and read her great stories!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A cow, a car, and a fairy

These are the three respective images on three respective nursery walls I have stared at as I fed my babies. Mostly I would let my mind wander, sometimes close my eyes, but I would again and again notice the quizzical look in the cow’s eyes, the way the car sticker wasn’t on straight, the fairy who was bigger than her castle.

I’m soppily reminiscing (about wall stickers! That are still on the walls!) because I have given my last breastfeed.

I have found breastfeeding a mixed experience. With my first baby it was sooooo hard and painful and worrying (she didn’t gain weight well) and if somebody KIND had suggested I switch to bottles, I would have. But our public health nurse was bossy and dismissive which just made me stubborn. And the lady from La Leche came to my house, told me I was a good mom, offered loads of advice and kept calling for the next few weeks to see how I was getting on. So I did what she suggested, because she was nice.

The second time around, I knew what I was doing, I had a bigger, hungrier baby (he fed more, gained weight quicker, everyone was happy) and all was great. Until he cut 4 teeth at 5 months, and practiced them on me every chance he got. He would chomp, I would yelp, he would cry and refuse to feed for a day, until I was begging him, for both our sakes.

Then this third baby, who is good as gold in every way (so far) and feeding was no exception. This time round, I’m working more – specifically, leading a toddler group and a Baby Song group. The baby came with me, I would have to sit down to feed her, and often someone would sit down beside me to have a little chat. Maybe it’s because we were sitting side by side instead of face to face (or maybe it’s because I was vulnerable, with my shirt hoiked up) but those would always be the most meaningful, pastoral and spiritual chats, as I sat feeding the baby.

The only thing is I would get very dizzy the first couple minutes of each feed. So dizzy I had to shut my eyes and couldn’t talk. At home, I would just do it, even if I was in mid-sentence. Marcus said it was like a robot shutting down. But I couldn’t do that if someone was wanting to talk to me, so I had to fight to keep my eyes open.

I never covered my baby up with a blanket. I never fed a baby in the bathroom. I wouldn’t ask people if they minded or drew attention to it. I just discretely fed.

And now...sniff…it’s time to move on. I handed her little pajama-ed self to Daddy who was waiting with a cup of warmed milk. I’m a ticking time bomb of hormones now, the next couple weeks or so they will be building up (I plan to go see My Sister’s Keeper this weekend, just to have a good cry) then we’ll all be okay.


Sunday, June 21, 2009


A recent rather nasty flu virus has just been chased off our property, with a few lingering shouts of 'I'll get you next time!' We sigh and put down our weapons -- calpol and nurofen, damp cloths and sick bowls -- and turn to survey the destruction left behind. While the details may change, this enemy has a plan of attack we're familiar with:

1. The virus hops aboard a double agent -- a child from toddler group/baby song/pre school. That child sneezes or dribbles or coughs in the face of one of our own. Thumb in the mouth, virus comes to our home.

2. Infected child does not show signs of illness, except being slightly over-sensitive and refusing to eat dinner. Not realizing the fugitive being harbored in that little body, I blame stubborness on bad behaviour and lack of appetite. Naughty steps are sat on. Dessert is witheld. Tears are shed. Guilt is imminent.

3. Sometime in the middle of the night (this enemy loves the cover of darkness) the child who was forced to eat dinner wakes up crying, usually with said dinner all over the bed. Late-night sheet changing, temperature taking, medicine administering. And planning for how to handle the next day -- the doctor's office will inevitably be closed, the day will inevitably be very busy, any potential child care will inevitably be unavailable. Schedules will need to be re-adjusted.

4. The first day of illness, I can be sympathetic soothing mom. As the injured foot soldier lies listlessly on the couch, I bring pillows and coax drinks and allow TV, saying 'Oh poor you'.

5. The ill child has a need to be close to me. As close as possible. On my lap, arms around my neck. Closer-- as if trying to get under my skin, to swim through my veins. The virus loves this -- it makes the next stage, infecting me, that much easier.

6. The details of step 6 are changeable -- how many children will be ill, the height of the fever, extra fun symptoms like a rash or gooey ear or eyes crusted together. What is definite is sleep will be interrupted (further to the plan of infecting mom).

7. Here we go. I start to feel achy or nauseous or sore throaty, and wonder how well I washed my hands the past few days and how many snotty noses have been wiped on me in their desperate hugs. The transfer has been made. The virus attacks the mother ship.

8. So, I am ill. But it is guaranteed that :a) For some reason, Marcus will be unavailable to help(out of town, or an important meeting, or something un-cancellable) and b) the children will be well enough to be bouncing off the walls, but still residuedly ill so they cry at the drop of a hat, scream at the changing of a channel, and demand the treatment they received back at step 4.

9. I fight through it. I drag my poor, poor sick self out of bed, and do the bare minimum of food and basic hygiene for the family. There usually is something that we really need from the store, but the thought of dragging my feverish bones (and three still slightly ill children) out is too much. We eat cracker sandwiches. I take children's fever medicine myself (the orange flavor is not bad, the starwberry, yuck). I am a grizzly bear, growling and swiping at the kids, shuffling grumpily through the house, until we finally make it to bedtime.

10. The pressure eases, a bit. The children are well enough to go back to nursery. Marcus is home and can help. I feel slightly better, but would still love that day in a sick bed that I missed when he was away. The laundry and housework had piled up when I was in grumpy bear mode, so I prepare to ask him to throw in a couple loads while I take a nap. And then what happens? THEN WHAT?!

11. He gets sick. I don't get my sick day. He gets it. And with half-strength, the last few skirmishes of the war still being fought behind my eyes and in my joints, I try to take care of him. I can't manage sympathetic and soothing, and feel like a cold-hearted wife to my feverish husband.

12. Why is that child asleep at 5 pm? Is that the tail end of this virus we've just fought off, or is it a new one...

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Last week we were in Belfast for a Salvation Army Congress -- a series of large gatherings for all those who are part of The Salvation army in Ireland (both the Republic and Northern Ireland). Since it was held over two days, and we live about 2 ½ hours away, we decided to stay overnight in a hotel in the city centre of Belfast.

Saturday evening we went to the celebration meeting – singing, bands, preaching, praying, testimonies, even flags and timbrels. Plenty to explain to the kids in the car to the hotel – very different from our small, local, un-churched way of worship. They were still pretty dazzled (and worn out) as we parked the car and walked in to the hotel lobby.

There was a wedding reception being held in the hotel, and Alannah especially was very taken with all the dressed-up people. Then I spotted the bride, so I led my girl by the hand to go look at her (from about 10 feet away). Look at her pretty dress. Oooh, she has a crown in her hair. And lovely jewels in her necklace. The bride was in conversation but she noticed us and smiled. I think she liked an unknown little girl oohing at ahhing at her beautiful dress on her special day.

As we went to the lift, we spotted some other young women. Now, the way they had dressed wasn’t entirely to my taste. The skirts were just on the short side of modest, the tan on the orange side of fake, the make-up on the caked side of thickness. But my girl said, loud enough for them to hear ‘Oooh, SHE looks pretty!’ and the hearer giggled and beamed, less demure than the bride but just as happy that someone liked the way she looked.

In the lift, I told Alannah and Charlie (and Marcus too, because men need reminding, don’t they) that if you think someone looks nice, you should say so, because everyone likes to hear that they look nice.

Up we went to our room and began to get changed for bed. I took off my Salvation Army skirt, which is unforgiving to say the least, and I had been wearing it all afternoon and evening. Alannah looked at me and the mark the slightly too-tight waistband had left on my skin.
‘Mommy! Your tummy looks like bacon!’

Some things, my darling girl, do NOT need to be said.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I can vividly recall some scorching sunburns of my youth.

The kind where you are so hot it hurts to wear clothes. You try to lie down but your skin heats up your sheets and pillow. Your head pounds, your skin tightens and you just emit heat like a blinking neon sign. Then, a few days later, you can peel great sheets of skin, like a molting snake, off your back and arms and nose. And years later, you are still paying the price of that sun damage...

My mother tried. We would put sunscreen on when we were on vacation to the beach . But a woefully inadequate amount, and probably just once, and it was probably only SPF 15, and was probably left over from two summers before.

I did get a very very bad sunburn that was entirely my own fault, as an adult, when I fell asleep on a beach in Australia. Marcus and I frantically searched through all our toiletires to see if any contained aloe. The only one that did was his travel-size can of shaving foam, so I smeared that all over my legs. I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time and the smell of the shaving cream made me throw up, but jumping up to go to the bathroom made me scream because of my sore legs. They swelled up the next day and I could hardly walk for a week.

So, I determined that as long as my children's skin was my responsibility, I would make sure they didn't get sunburnt. When I just had the one PFB (Precious First Born) I was vigilant. This child is particularly fair, to the point you can see the veins in her face. Suncream, hats, buggy shade everytime we walked into town, much less played in the garden, went to the park, or went to the beach -- all factor 50, which is so thick it doesn't rub in, so we called her the ghost baby.

Along came child 2. His first summer we obviously kept him out of the sun, and the second was pretty miserable with hardly any sun the whole summer. So the suncream wasn't an issue.

Then last summer, a sunny weekend comes along, we put some sunscreen on them both and the next day, child 2 comes out with a rash. Now, that day happened to be 1) a bank holiday -- no doctor's office open and 2) the day before I was to be induced with child 3, so i didn't really fancy lugging the boy to an out-of-hours clinic. (he didn't have any other sympotms, just a rash, so it's not like I was being that negligent).

The summer was again grey and rainy, but I didn't notice because I had a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a newborn. We mainly watched TV and breastfed our respective baby/dolly/bin lorry.

Another sunny day came in September (you may think I'm exaggerating the greyness of a Dublin summer, but I'm not) so as an 'experiment' I put sunscreen on the boy again. otherwise known as I forgot that the last time he had it on he got a rash. So he got another rash.
Hypothesis: My 2 year old is allergic to sunscreen.
Method: 1. Put sunscreen on 2 year-old.
2. See if he gets a rash
Result: Allergic to sunscreen.

With all this in mind, I had meant to go to the chemist (pharmacy) and ask them what sunscreen I should get for him. But I didn't get around to it before this weekend, since it's been grey and rainy here. But then we went away to a Belfast this weekend and....

The sun shone! (I honestly never would have predicted that)
A lovely day with the lovely Ali and her lovely family included lots of playing in the lovely sunshine.

But that afternoon, on my child 1 (the PFB)...pink cheeks. Pink arms. And the mommy guilt. (The sunscreen-allergic boy, by the way, didn't get burnt at all). Would she have an awful, burning, tossing and turning night, with a headache and peeling and agony?

Well, no, becuase it was Belfast, after all, not Hilton Head or Australia. She was fine the next day.




(and they are so absolutely adorable, I'm tempted to let her run around without sunscreen more often so she gets even more!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Domestic goddess

One Saturday morning when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant our ironing board broke. Beset with pregnancy insanity:
(if I don't iron these clothes today and the baby comes tonight I will never iron them and the whole family will always have to wear creased clothes and be the scourge of society and my children will never have any friends and then they will never get married and they will always live at home with me with their wrinkled clothes and dirty dishes and toys scattered all over the house that no one but ME ever picks up!)
...I decided we should go buy an ironing board. Even crazier, it was suggested that the whole family walk down to the homeware shop in town to get one. A walk that takes a normal, non-gestating adult 10 minutes, but there was only one of those people in our party so this was going to be quite an excursion.

We got the ironing board and started trudging back up the hill to get home. And got lots of strange looks from people on the way. Looks that said:
'Is that an ironing board?'
'Why would you buy an ironing board if you're walking?'
'Is that a very pregnant woman carrying the ironing board?'
'Is that the very pregnant woman's husband walking with her?'
'Why isn't he carrying the ironing board?'

And the answer, of course, is that in the choice between getting the ironing board home and wrangling two children home (the two-year-old who didn't want to be in the buggy, and the three-year-old who did), my husband made the sacrificial and loving choice.

We got home, made a cup of tea, and sat down, too exhausted to do any ironing after all that.

More stories here!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I have rosacea, a skin condition that makes my nose and cheeks red. All the time. On a good day, they are just red, on a bad day, I am very broken out. Most of the time my skin is somewhere in between. I wear make-up to cover it, but it doesn’t cover it up completely, and anyway, too much will just make me break out more.

So, it’s just one of those things. I still have to go out and talk to people, and try not to be too self-conscious and not think ‘Is this person noticing my red face? Is she having trouble concentrating on what I’m saying because of my skin?’ Like my complexion, some days are better than others, but usually I manage to go out and face the world, in spite of my face. :)

But THREE times I have been to the doctor about unrelated issues – once when I had a chest infection, once for my six-week check-up after childbirth, and once when Alannah had an ear infection—and heard:
‘Let’s talk about what’s going on with your face’ or
‘Would you like to do something about your face’ or
‘What’s wrong with your face?’

(umm, I may be mis-quoting here, but I’ll take poetic license that even if the question was phrased more gently, it still felt as bad as someone saying what’s wrong with your face?)

And for all the embarassment of having been asked the question, there's not much they can do anyway. So why not just politlely ignore it, like most people do?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's this strange feeling in my brain?

Okay, so one way to inspire me to blog more frequently is to join in with a theme for every day. Like Stories in my Pocket on Saturdays. Or Tuesdays unwrapped, which encourage us to look at the gifts a normal Tuesday can bring.

So here's mine today: I am actually not tired. Really! I don't think I have felt that way for the past...hmm...12 plus 9...21 months!

I remember one of the first thoughts I had when I discovered I was pregnant with Caitlyn was 'I was just starting to not feel tired!' So here I am again, for today at least, feeling pretty good.

Which helps of course with the brooooodiness I'm having lately. I don't want another baby, I could tell you ten or twenty (or even just three) reasons why not, but that whisper is in my ear. It's biological, it's hormonal (I'm weaning Caitlyn), it's irrational, it's not what I want! But sheesh . Babies.

When I mentioned it to Marcus today he said 'I don't want to be the kind of family that has 7 or 8 children.' Because obviously he thinks we'll jump from 3 to 7. I didn't know quadruplets ran in his family.

I am NOT tired today And it is a good feeling!.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

And we didn't wear helmets back then

My friend Jo has started this Stories in My Pocket series, and invited me to join more than once. Of course I will! I love telling my stories. I often have to stop myself from that social faux pas – jumping in on someone else’s tale to tell one of my own. In fact Jo’s story of moving to Texas reminded me of my own trip with a fresh husband to a fresh start in life, only ours was to London (but it’s not as poetic as hers, so I’ll leave that one –for now). And what is a blog, after all, but telling stories and hoping someone will listen/read?

I have been thinking all week about which story I will write – I just wrote about Caitlyn’s birth, but I have two other birth stories to tell. Second to people wanting to share their birth stories seems to be sharing puke stories, and 3 lots of morning sickness means I have plenty of those as well (including 4 times in airplanes, and two separate occasions in my father-in-law’s car).

Embarrassing stories are just that, so maybe I’ll steer clear of those. Love? How I met my husband, getting engaged at 30,000 feet, our soggy wedding, standing on a chair for God, or setting wooden airplanes on fire? Cute kids stories? Far, far too many to tell, including this morning’s declaration from Alannah that she wanted to marry Mommy so we could have a date night on Fridays.

Too many to tell! And there are those you don’t remember until something reminds you of that time when you cut your own hair, or ran across campus in bare feet at midnight, or sang a solo at some poor woman’s funeral (and no, I can’t sing, and no, I didn’t even know her). But the good thing is now I have a reason, once a week, to write a story (and there’s a list for me to choose from, in case I’m stuck next Saturday).

But for starters, I’m actually going to share THREE! A trilogy of bicycle accidents…
1. My need to do 2 or more things at once started young in life, and I used to read while I was riding my bicycle. We lived in a quiet town, and on a sunny summer morning there weren’t many cars. I was re-reading a book I liked whilst on my way to the library to return it. I didn’t even stop reading when I went over the railroad tracks…my wheels wobbled and got stuck in the groove of the track, I fell off and dropped the book (ripping the page), and completely panicked that my shoelace would get stuck in the track and a train would come and run over me. But I wasn’t stuck, and no train was coming anyway. I got up, got back on my bike, and continued reading!

2. I borrowed my sister’s bike without asking to go to the shop. Crossing at a traffic light (did I have the right of way? Probably not) a car pulled out and hit me. I fell off, but wasn’t hurt. The lady driving was so, so upset and wanted to take me home, but of course I refused because then my sister would see I had borrowed her bike. And she really would hurt me!

3. I was happily cycling home from softball practice singing a little song to myself. There was a set of hills on my way home, where you had to pedal really fast to build up speed down the first hill in order to have enough momentum to get up the second. I was pedalling away, fast fast fast, when suddenly …pop! My handlebars pulled right out. I was just holding them, and they were no longer attatched to the bicycle, and I was flying down a hill with no means to steer or stop. Except for a parked car. Then I had to get up and with my scraped up knees and nose, I had to walk my broken bike home while carrying the handlebars and my softball mitt. And crying. And thinking, maybe I’ll get a new bike. But I didn’t – I got my sister’s old one, the one that had been hit by a car but I had never told anyone.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

6 May 2008

When I was taking a pastoral counselling class at The Salvation Army training college, the lecturer once said ‘Every mother wants to tell her birth story, but is almost always interrupted by someone else who wants to tell her birth story.’

Giving birth is such a significant event – the anticipation weeks before, the mystery, the PAIN, and the life-altering after effect – that it’s no wonder moms want to talk about it! As part of our ministry for the past 4 years, I have run mother and baby groups, and I purposely try to give women a chance to share their birth stories. And I try really really hard (and don’t always succeed) to hold my tongue and not start telling my own story!

But this is my blog, and my baby’s first birthday is today, so I’m going to tell it. So all..oh, maybe three? readers of this blog will be subjected to it. (And after my last post was all about how besotted I am with my little boy!) I will try to condense it to the more interesting aspects.

I was 11 days overdue (and none too happy about it) so I was induced. It’s a bit odd to just get up, and drive off to the hospital with no labor pains or anything, and know that the baby will be coming that day. Sitting in the waiting room and hearing other women in labor is like being in line for a roller coaster – you can hear the screams and know it will be your turn soon!

For the first time, I had a male midwife (mid-husband?) If it had been my first baby I might have been a bit upset by that, but as a pro, I just thought ‘Hmm, different. Fun!’ And his name was Jose and he was from Spain, so he had a great accent. I tried out some of my (Dora the Explorer) Spanish on him. He said I needed to be 4 centimetres dilated to get an epidural, and when he examined me I said ‘Quatro! Abre! Vamonos!’ I hope he thought it was the pain that was making me so goofy.

I was quarto abre, so we got the anesthetist in there straight away. Hurray!!!!!!!!!!! My first baby I was really overcome with the pain before I got the epidural and was really upset by it all. My second the epidural only worked on one side. So I was happy to get it early on, and told the doctor (Phyllis was her name, and I did promise to name the baby after her but re-neged) I loved her. And another anesthetist who came around the ward the next day , I told him I loved him too.

A couple of things about Marcus: they put an IV in my wrist for the drip and the nurse did it wrong and it bled a bit (I ended up with a bad bruise on my arm for a few weeks). Marcus went all pale and had to sit down quickly. Which is funny because he never got faint before, even during the incident after Charlie’s birth which we refer to as ‘the Red Sea’, that caused a nurse to require new footwear. TMI? Sorry. Also, Marcus was eating a peanut butter sandwich and gave me some, and when Jose came back he said ‘I smell peanuts’ (imagine Spanish accent), which we still love to say to each other.

Back to business. When the epidural kicked in I got really sleepy. Jose was on his break and the midwife who was covering him just said to me ‘Maybe you’re tired? Did you get much sleep last night?’ Um, I’m nine months pregnant with my third child. I never get much sleep. D’ya think maybe I’m in the transition phase…

Soon (it felt like 30 seconds later, but time gets all skewed) I suddenly said to Marcus ‘I feel like pushing.’ And he started to wave over the midwife, but she was talking to another woman (oh, did I mention the labor ward had 4 other women and their birth partners in there too?) and he, being English, did not want to interrupt. So I had to hiss at him very urgently. ‘Now. NOW! Pushing now!’

My friend Jose appeared, wheeled me into the delivery room (that is private, at least) and with a bit of this and that, there was our girl! This and that, of course, being an extremely uncomfortable sensation that is still vivid in my mind, and I am trying to remind myself of when I’m all broody and sad and about The Last Baby.

Three hours from the start of the induction until delivery. My easiest birth, and easiest baby. We’ll see how long that lasts.

So, there is my birth story. Thanks for not interrupting! But if you want to tell me yours, I’m willing to listen/read it, because I’m sure it’s a great tale…

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Charlie’s birthday was on Friday, and now my little man is three!

He has been a wonderful 2 year old, but as I recall from Alannah, three was when the naughty step really came into use quite frequently. I think a two year old boy is one of the loveliest creatures in the world. Especially my one!

We’ve been practicing using scissors, but every time we do he picks them up and says ‘I’m going to cut your beautiful hair Mummy.’ I tell him no, he must never cut anyone’s hair, and he just grins. When I did get my hair cut earlier this week, he looked at me in shock. ‘Mummy! Your beautiful hair!’ Was he upset that it was shorter or that I hadn’t let him do it?

He likes to watch me get ready in the morning. When he hears the hair-dryer he runs into my room, climbs onto the bed and under the covers. He tells me what to do next – ‘now dry it with the hairbrush. Now do make-up. Now squish-squish (perfume). Now me.’ I have an empty perfume bottle filled with water that Alannah and I used to play princesses, but it’s Charlie that wants a spritz now.

He received a bicycle for his birthday. Alannah was four when she got hers and it was a struggle for her to get co-ordinated enough to pedal and move forward. He jumped on and took off, a year younger than she was. He’s the same at the playground, fearless and capable of scaling the biggest climbing frames. Of course, at 9 months he was climbing the stairs when my back was turned…

He loves the garbage truck (called the bin lorry in Ireland) and runs to the window every Tuesday to watch. The bin men are his friends and wave to him each week. Since he got a playmobil bin lorry for Christmas, he takes it to the window each Tuesday to show them.

I run a mother and baby singing group, and Marcus comes along to make the tea and coffee and help with buggies, etc. Charlie comes too. During the singing they play in another room, then come in to do drinks. Charlie goes up to each mother and asks if they want a piece of cake. If I don’t stop him, he would grab the pieces of cake and distribute them into each woman’s lap.

He loves Caitlyn, and often says to me ‘She’s so cute! What a sweet baby!’ His older sister is his arch-nemesis though, and the only recipient of a Charlie’s teeth-shaped bruise. It recently dawned on him that he’s in the middle between two sisters. I wonder what that will mean to him in the future. He has such a strong personality, I don’t think he will get lost in the family.

I have read that boys are closest to their mothers for the first seven years, then they shift to being closer to their fathers until they are 13 or 14, when they start to look for mentors outside of the family. So I only have a few more years of his mostly undivided devotion – he loves his dad, and the Car movie, and bin lorries, but I get the kisses and the snuggles and the sleepy ‘I love you Mommy’ when he climbs into my bed in the night.
I love you too, my Charlie. Happy birthday.

Sorry blogosphere for subjecting you to this gush of maternal devotion to my little boy!

Here are some other things I've written about him, in my now-defunct Xanga blog:

And some pictures from his last birthday on our family blog, where you can see a very pregnant me (one week overdue and VERY grumpy) in the video. Which means in a few days I will bore the WWW with stories about my sweet little baby!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

There's six packs of butter in my fridge

Tonight begins the baking frenzy…

Friday is Charlie’s 3rd birthday, and Caitlyn’s birthday is next week, so we are having a joint party for them this Saturday. A birthday boy and a birthday girl means two cakes (well, an airplane cake and strawberry cupcakes to be exact) plus cookies shaped like ‘1’s and ‘3’s. And a dark dark chocolate cakes for the grown-ups.

But there’s other baking to be done around here – a strategy meeting with my boss tomorrow will be accompanied by brownies. Another batch of brownies for the hotel room of the Territorial Commander who is in Dublin this weekend. Cookies for the coffee time after the Sunday service the TC is leading. Another cake for next Tuesday’s mother and baby group (that’s a weekly bake I do). Probably cupcakes again for Caitlyn’s actual birthday next Wednesday. And then Brunch Church muffins next week…

I like baking. It’s my spiritual gift.

I used to think spiritual gifts were only things like evangelism or teaching or wisdom. I used to think the ministry God was calling me to involved preaching and teaching and saving poor sinners. But now I reach out to the world around me with a baby on my hip and a plate of cake in my hand.

‘I was thinking about you last night, knowing we were going to meet. I stirred with you in mind, hoping to bring a smile to your face. Here is a little treat for you, and tell me, how are you doing?’

Thursday, April 23, 2009


'It's Caitlyn's birthday soon' I said at dinner tonight, and made a sad face.

'What's wrong Mommy? Why do you look like that?'

'Well, Caitlyn is getting bigger. And although I like it when you guys get bigger, I'm sad that she won't be a baby anymore. Because I like babies.'

'Don't worry Mommy,' says my four-year-old. 'I'll have a baby. Then I can be a Mommy too!'

That will be nice sweetheart. I'm already looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Farewell, faithful companion. You will be sorely missed.

After weeks (maybe even months) of denying it, I must face facts.

(no, I'm no pregnant)

The afternoon nap is no more. Moment of silence please.

No really, could I get at least a MOMENT of even near-silence in a day?

Caitlyn still naps, of course. And Alannah hasn't for a while now, but she can easily be pawned off with 10 minutes of Mommy time followed by time on her own to make up stories with her ponies or something.

But now Charlie, who is nearly 3, has definitely stopped needing an afternoon sleep. And with 2 kids up, there is just no way around it. Entertaining must occur. And I really don't know what to do. I can think of activities, but everything just feels like a big effort. Just don't feel like dragging out craft supplies or the sandbox or the playdough or whatever. Mostly because then I would have to clean it up, and I already feel annoyed by all the cleaning I have to do (and while I'm cleaning something up, they are dumping the car box or dressing up chest or books all over the floor in another room).

I'm feeling rotten about not wanting to do anything with them. Bleh.

In other news, I fed Charlie tons of apple juice, dried apricots, grapes, and pears over the weekend to get past his refusal to poo on the toilet (he hadn't been for a few days and I was worried). It backfired. Or, fired out the back. A new rug is necessary.

Charlie just came in and told me I smell nice. He is a sweetheart, in spite of everything.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


So Caitlyn and I seemed to have made an uneasy truce…after a week of controlled crying (Marcus calls it ‘controlled cruelty’) we have agreed on 6 am as a wake-up time. She has been requesting a 3am transfer to our bed, and til now it has been granted. But it was time to put my foot down. And it has been a nightmare. Except you have to be asleep to have a nightmare.

At first, when the cry came at 3 am, I would go in and hold her until she fell asleep. Gently, slowly I would lower her back into the cot – as soon as her back touched the mattress, she would scream.

I switched to stroking her head – she played with my hand. I tried stroking her head, then doing ‘gradual withdrawal’. A minute by the side of the cot. Step towards the door. A minute later, another step towards the door. Another minute, another step. But as soon as the door creaked on its hinges to announce my departure, she was wailing again.

I had to do it, the full-on unpleasant way. She cried – I went in, patted her tummy and whispered ‘Mommy loves you but it’s time to sleep now’ (who do you think that little mantra was meant to soothe?) then I left the room. She cried. I went in a minute later, and patted her again, and left. This time I waited 2 minutes. The next time, 3 minutes. And so on.

The first few nights she screamed fairly solidly from 3 until 6, except for the brief moments I came in and patted her. Then she decided to play a trick of her own. She would cry, I would go in and pat her then leave. She would cry a bit, but quiet down. I waited 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. Smug, I climbed back into my bed. Just, just as I started to drop off to sleep, she would wail. The timing was impeccable.

It’s been a hard few days, with tiredness making me grumpy and impatient. A busy working week hasn’t helped, with my fuzzy sleep deprived brain. Today (after a good, but busy Palm Sunday service) we all sat down for Sunday afternoon. I desperately wanted a nap but Alannah came up to me.

Poor older sister. She shares a room with the baby and has been woken up every night, too. And she doesn’t even drink coffee to help her stay awake during the day. She brought me one of her little sylvanian family figures. ‘Can you make her a scarf Mommy?’

I did it. With bleary eyes, while the baby slept, I knit a teeny tiny scarf and hat for a little cat. And tonight, and tomorrow, and tomorrow night, the mothering marches on…

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A different perspective

So I went today for a certain 'uncomfortable test' that is just part of every woman's life. To my shame, I haven't had this done since we moved to Ireland nearly 6 years ago. But a recent ad campaign and the picture of a certain reality-show star's sad children about to lose their mother sent me off to the GP.

Oh, don't you love cultural differences? The last time I had this particular test done was in America. At a specialist lady doctor's office (I'm not embarrassed to write it, just can't be bothered to think of the spelling). White office, crisp white coats, nurse to take details and doctor to do the actual unpleasant bit in a clean sterile office.

Today I was at the GP, who has a practice set up in a house. Cozy light, carpeted floor, fireplace. Bit more relaxing, I think, not just for today but anytime any of us have to go in.

But the biggest difference was during the actual test (which, by the way, if you know what I'm talking about and are putting off getting one done, just do it. It's not a big deal). The nurse was chatting to me the whole time. About the weather, the kids, the upcoming St Patrick's Day. As I got undressed, as she did her bit, as I got dressed again, chat chat chat.

The Irish love the craic! (pronounced 'crack', meaning fun.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

A few bits and pieces

Like always, I've been mentally drafting blog entries, not posting them, and falling behind. SO here are the condensed versions:

  • Caitlyn was crying the other night and I standing next to the cot holding her. I was so tired/half-asleep I honestly thought I was just going to fall down. But she screamed if I even started to bend my legs towards sitting down. Her Highness insists we stand in her presence.

  • I noticed the crocuses are coming up and some trees are beginning to bloom, and wondered: why is Lent during Spring? Just when life starts to get a bit better after winter, we're supposed to deprive ourselves of something enjoyable? (I know, it's because of Easter). Oh, and people with ashes on their heads for Ash Wednesday still always make me do a double-take.

  • I didn't give anything up for Lent, but I'm going to try to go for a walk every day. Not easy when it's too dark after the kids go to bed to go then, and there's always at least 1 non-buggy-riding child with me all day. Walking with children is not exercise, it's just annoying.

  • Alannah is learning Irish at nursery, but I can't tell what are real irish words and what are just the made up words of a four year old. They sound strikingly similar.

  • The other night I was making dinner and all was quiet, so of course I went to check it out. The older two were indeed playing nicely with each other when I went into the room. I left them to their game, but I had broken the spell..the fighting broke out as soon as I left, and they remembered they wanted to vie for my attention.

  • I was lying down with Charlie at bedtime yesterday and we were talking about rugby. I looked at those big blue eyes, soft little cheeks, and kissed him. And said 'Even when you are a big boy who plays rugby, I will still kiss you, because that's what Mommies do.'

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


With my driving license still shiny-new (I passed the test just a few weeks ago) I finally got the chance to drive in another country – Northern Ireland. It wasn’t until I actually crossed the border that I realized I wasn’t sure of all the different road signs up there, what the whole traffic light sequence is all about (green-yellow-red-yellow?), and how to convert the speed limit signs (in mph) to what my speedometer read (in kph).

I was on day-release from my little (still breastfeeding) warden, who insisted I be back in time for bedtime, so I didn’t even get a chance to stop and take advantage of the good exchange rate. Just went up to a training day and back home again. The training was dull, but I was quite frankly giddy at the opportunity to be with adults, think about work things, and even ask questions and have discussions without being interrupted by small children.

Even better was the drive home – two hours by myself to just listen to the radio and think. I was energized by being around people, excited about some new ideas, resolved to begin to put them into action and see our ministry grow. I felt my world expanding – soon I will stop breastfeeding Caitlyn, Alannah will go to primary school, Charlie will go to nursery. I will be able to think and work again.

By Monday my resolve was disappearing. The oppressive fog of broken sleep (we are on week 3 of a nasty cold being passed around the family, with at least one child feverish/coughing/crying for a stretch in the middle of the night), the slow leak of ideas and concentration as the baby literally drains me of energy, my seaweed children clinging to me, slowing down everything I do. My world, my motivation, my mood, shrunk.

I want to do my work, to do ministry in our community. I want to reach out to people and build relationships. What I DON’T want to do is the laundry. The dishes. The constant soothing of tantrums and bickering. I get so unmotivated doing those things on my home days (like Monday) that I get down, and that makes it hard to be motivated to do the work things. Lack of motivation plus lack of time/freedom means I can’t do all the exciting things I was planning to do. I get even more down, and now start to blame myself for being lazy.

And it’s February, and grey, and I have to go to the dentist.

BUT, this time last year I was going to a different training day, that one in London. I flew over, it was a windy, bumpy flight, I was 7 months pregnant, and I threw up all over myself. So at least that’s not all going on, too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Potty Train Has Left The Station Without Us

o, okay I should have known better. Our first child was a disaster to toilet train, there was way too much drama involved (and the bribery just got out of control!). Second child – a boy this time, and I know boys take longer to ‘get it’. But he showed some signs he was ready at 2 and 4 months, so why not go for it?

Potty training stories (especially failures) are disgusting and not that interesting, so I will sum up: it was messy, it was annoying, I got cross with him and that just made things worse. After 4 months we have given up, and Charlie is back in nappies.

Which means we once again have two children in nappies. Here is a photo:

Okay, I have to admit, this is from 2 years ago, when Charlie was a baby and he and Alannah were in nappies. Soon after, I decided that I could only manage saving the planet one child at a time. Although wearing a bulky cloth nappy might inspire Charlie to use the toilet, I just couldn’t keep up with all the washing and drying. So he is in disposables at the moment.

But here is a blog post that has been running through my mind for at least 2 ½ years now, ever since I started blogging. Cloth nappies: the good, the bad, the unexpected.

The good

  • Saves money. Especially now we’re on the third user.
  • The money we save goes towards a weekly DVD and pizza night, and valuable ‘couple time.’
  • Lesser environmental impact. Some studies have said that washing cloth nappies is just as bad for the environment as ‘sposies, just in a different way. But those studies were washing nappies at a very high water temperature (not necessary) with lots of washing powder (not necessary, and makes them less absorbent) and tumble-drying (also makes them less absorbent). Absorbency is important!
  • It’s not like it used to be – there are no pins or fancy folds involved, you just put them in a waterproof cover with Velcro fasteners. And there’s a paper liner which makes changing poo-ey ones not so bad.
  • It’s not all or nothing – we use disposables at night, and if we’re going out for the day, or we are on vacation.

The bad

  • We put them in a bucket and wash them every three days. When that bucket is emptied, hold your nose! (and may I add, Marcus has emptied every single nappy bucket we have filled. He’s incredible).
  • The washing, hanging up to dry, taking down again, folding, putting them away does take up a lot of time.
  • They have to be changed much more frequently, especially as the baby becomes a toddler who guzzles juice.
  • Some particularly messy nappies have to be dunked in the toilet. And in the winter that water is cooooooooooooooold!
  • They are much more bulky under clothes and some things just won’t fit over them.

The unexpected

  • It makes me feel better about running the dishwasher and having just bought a new TV.
  • The extra bulk makes learning-to-walk bottom bumps more cushioned. And going down the slide is faster, too (really!).
  • When the stubborn, reluctant, physically unready 2 ½ year old poos in his underpants for the 4th time that day, I don’t have to throw them in the regular wash or run a separate load, they just go in the nappy bucket.
  • You can take a vacation! Most mothering tasks don’t stop when you go on holiday – feeding, bathing, putting to bed – and that includes changing nappies. But when we go on vacation, we have to change that baby’s bottom half as often, and don’t have to deal with the bucket/washing/drying/folding thing.

Cloth nappies have good and bad points, but it basically boils down to: they are kind of a pain, but we feel good for using them. But when we finally get that boy (and his baby sister) out of all nappies, cloth or disposable, that will be even better!

Friday, February 06, 2009

The latest thing to think about when I can't sleep

So there is a ’25 interesting facts about me’ thing going around facebook. And some people don’t want to do it. Other people can’t come up with 25 things. What??? I was dropping not-subtle hints for someone to ask me to do it, and then I had to keep revising my list to get it down to 25. Are other people not as interesting as me? Or do I just think too much of myself?

And then I saw on my friend’s Mylestones blog this adaptation: 25 things about your baby. I nearly wrote it about my 4 year old or 2 year old, who would be much easier to think of 25 things about. But it was nice to have to think about the little one: what of her little self is shining through already?

She is 9 months old today, and such an easy baby. I’m often asked if going from 2 to 3 children was harder than 1 to 2, and I say no, but only because my 3rd baby has been the best behaved one (so far, long may it remain so!). My little babykins, here is her story:

1. My name is Caitlyn Aoife Mylechreest
2. Caitlyn means ‘pure’ and Aoife (which is an Irish name pronounced Ee-fa) means ‘beautiful’
3. I was born on 6 May, 2008 – 2 weeks later than Mommy expected, and 5 days after my brother’s birthday. I get my lateness from my daddy.
4. My Mommy is American and my Daddy is English, but I’m Irish because I was born in Dublin. I have an Irish birth certificate, and Irish passport, and Irish citizenship.
5. I like to suck my thumb and first finger.
6. I do like having a bit of milk, but if there’s anything interesting going on in the room at the same time I’ll turn my head to see what’s going on. I don’t know why that’s a problem.
7. I really, really, really hate being on my tummy.
8. Seriously, I hate it, so don’t make me do it. I can roll over, I just get so annoyed about being on my tummy that I don’t want to.
9. I used to not like solid food, but now I think they’re great. Gimme more!
10. Toast. Have you had toast? It’s delicious and fun to wave around.
11. I have to suck the toast because I don’t have any teeth.
12. I like to eat so much my mommy is afraid one day I’ll pop!
13. I love my mommy best out of anything in the whole world.
14. When my mommy puts me down I cry.
15. When I am playing on the floor, if I look up and see my mommy and she isn’t holding me, I cry.
16. If someone else is holding me and I’m crying so they give me back to my mommy, I put my hand on her mouth so I know it’s her.
17. When I cry in the middle of the night, Daddy tries to help me stop, but I really just want mommy.
18. When I came home from the hospital my mommy and daddy put me in their bed the first night. Now I mainly sleep in my cot, but sometimes in the middle of the night I come into their bed. I like to look back and forth from mommy to daddy, and it’s so exciting to be between them I wiggle and laugh and can’t get back to sleep.
19. I try to wake up every morning at exactly 6:10 am. Sometimes I’m one or two minutes off, but never more than that.
20. I like it when my daddy kisses me with his scratchy beard.
21. I like it when my big sister dances and jumps up and down.
22. I don’t like it so much when my big brother does his cars on my head.
23. I like it when my mommy plays the guitar.
24. My favorite toy is a stuffed lollipop that is good to suck and wave around (kind of like the toast, but less mushy).
25. I like to say ‘Ma-ma-ma’ and I think my mommy likes it too.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


A certain someone (who shares my last name but not my DNA) recently made a BIG mistake.

The kind of mistake that carries with it a sizable fine. And requires attendance at a meeting on a day when we happen to be on vacation in another country. Which means while he returns to Ireland to deal with the problem, I am left to entertain 3 kids by myself. And by the way, it's the day we have to be out of our cabin by 10 am, meaning the kids and I have to find stuff to do in a public place until probably after 7 pm. Grrrrr.

BUT, he sorted it out! Fine paid, meeting cancelled, everything okay now, he remains with us on holiday. Oh, happy relief.

Except.... I was already thinking of ways he could make it up to me. Gifts. Days to myself. Multiple apologies.

I had the power, and the balance has shifted back to the middle. And that makes me a bit grumpy. Shallow, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Other reasons I can't sleep

It's not just my thoughts that keep me awake. It's also:

1. The baby is still sleeping in our room, with her sniffling, snorting, sighing, squirming, and 'thwuck thwup thwup nm nm nm' thumb sucking. Not only noisy, but I hve to lie very still so she doesn't open her eyes, see me, and want a bit of attention.

2. The two year old often wakes up and comes to our room to get in our bed. He stands by my head and stage-whispers 'Mommy, I brought my blanket. I wuv yu Mommy.' Aww, climb on in, then.

3. And probably the most likely culprit, my husband got a new espresso machine for Christmas and our afternoon tea break has been replaced with an afternoon cappucino break!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Me and my thoughts

I struggle to fall asleep. No matter how tired I am (even when the kids were newborns) it takes me a while to shut off my brain, relax and go to sleep.

Evenings are when I tend to get overly emotional. In fact, my husband and I have a no-fighting-after-10 pm rule. If I start to pick an argument, he’ll point out the time and tell me to go to bed instead of getting worked up (do I sometimes still go ahead and arue until I get worked up? Yes. Does he sometimes deserve it? Yes.) But even though I can avoid fighting with him late at night, I still lie in bed and fight with myself.

My top themes include: I’m not being a good mother -- I was too mean /impatient /shouty /unimaginative with the kids today (I always resolve that tomorrow we will build the couch fort, bake cookies, get out of the house and go to the park). Or, I’m not doing a good job with my ministry – I’m not working hard enough, I’m putting things off instead of getting them done on time, I’m not praying hard enough, the reason there’s not more people coming to church is entirely my fault. Or I wasn’t a good friend today – I talked when I should have listened, I told stupid stories that no one cares about, I should have offered to help, I should have called…hey, why isn’t anyone calling me? I don’t have any friends, no one likes me, that’s why this ministry thing will never work, because I’m unlikebale and I don’t pray enough and I shout at my kids…

So, you can see why Marcus has to stop me from fighting with him, right? Because my thoughts snowball so rapidly I might as well build a fort and invite the neighborhood over for a snowball fight.

Now, don’t worry, these are late at night thoughts, not all the time thoughts. There is some truth to these self-criticisms, but in the light of day I can give myself much more of a break.
I have had this problem of over –self-evaluating at night for a long time, so I have a few strategies to help me relax and go to sleep. Trying to remember every detail of the walk I used to take to school each morning. Remembering all the names of people in the high school band. Assigning each letter a numerical value and adding up the numbers in each family members’ names (that’s for when my thoughts are really down and I need something big to occupy my mind).

But lately I have taken to composing blog entries in my head. Sometimes they are sharing my frustrations with the day, sometimes a funny story that happened. The thing is, I start to obsess over the wording I want. And then, because it’s late and I’m not in a good emotional place, I think ‘Why would anyone want to read this anyway? I’ll bore the whole of the internet with my sad-sack tales, which is just as bad as talking too much and not listening to my friends). And the thing that was supposed to help me calm down and go to sleep has me all wound up again.
And the worst part? I don’t even then write it on my blog. So the next night I either re-compose it in my head, or beat myself up over the fact that I don’t keep up with my blog! Sheesh. Would you just give yourself a break, woman?

So, I am going to try to write some of these blog entries down, because I do want to write, and that will take away some of the blog guilt. And I do think they help me get a perspective on my life – even as I wrote this, I can see how ridiculous some of my thinking is, and that makes me feel better. The thing is, it’s not like monopolising the conversation. No one has to read this if they don’t want to. But if you are reading this, don’t worry. Life is always better in the morning than I think it is late at night.

And by the way, my name adds up to 234.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm looking for a doctor...

who will surgically implant a magnetic chip in the baby's hand. Then I will go around putting metal strips on everything, and when I hand her a toy, cup, spoon, etc. she won't automatically drop it on the floor. And I won't have to spend half my day bending over to pick stuff up, handing it to her, and then repeating the process over and over again.

Especially in a cafe, where I feel the disapproving eyes looking at me: 'That mother is giving the cup back to the child? After it's been on the floor?' So when the 2 1/2 year old drops his muffin on the floor, I let the disapproving eyes get to me and tell him not to eat it because it's yucky. And he cries.

Then the 4 year old chimes in with 'We CAN'T waste food Mommy, or you will smack our bottoms!' Yes, my sweetheart, that only applies when I have cooked a nice delicious meal (that until today was your absolute favorite) which you refuse to even taste, and the thought of scraping it all into the bin (that's the trash, my American friends) is really irritating me. Attention, disapproving eyes: I don't smack her bottom every time she doesn't clear her plate, really I don't.

So a magnetic chip for the baby: invisible so the disapproving eyes don't see. A snack for the boy that he won't drop and then pick up and eat. A volume control for the girl who likes to broadcast my predilection to adminster discipline over seemingly minor matters.

And for myself, a strong nerve that doesn't think everyone is looking at me disapprovingly. They have their own things to worry about, after all. Why would they even notice me?

Until I bundle everyone up to leave and notice every one of my children is going out to face the winter's day with a bare head and bare hands because I forgot hats and mittens. And then the boy picks up my coffee cup to finish off the dregs of cappucino foam...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Daddy Long Legs

Marcus and the kids are still gone, so today Caitlyn and I went to the mall. Amongst other bits and pieces we picked up, I had to get Alannah some new jeans.
I haven't started taking her in to try clothes on yet (when do you start doing that?) but I did measure her the other day. The kids clothes (shirts, dresses, trousers) go by age and list the height, so I checked to see how tall she is. She's 111 cm (we're metric! It's Europe!) tall.
I went to buy her jeans, and size 5 (which I think is for ages 4-5) went up to 110 cm, so I bought size 6. Size 6! The child won't even be 4 1/2 until next month!
It sent me into a panic -- is she too big for her age? Am I feeding her too much? Not getting enough exercise? Will she be picked on at school (she'll already be ne of the oldest, so wll she be absolutely huge compared ot the others)?
Breathe, jane. Calm down. The child is not skin and bone, but she is on the lanky side of normal, not the chubby side. She is in size 6 jeans because she is tall, not overweight. And she is tall because of her 6'1 father (he's English so doesn't believe in metric) who has incredibly long legs.
She's got my eyes, my freckles, my stubborness and my clumsiness, but those legs are from Daddy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So here's what happened...

In my last post, I talked about giving my baby boy his first taste of solid food. Well, that boy is now 2 and 8 months, eats everything you put in front of him, anbd is now the middle child with a baby sister added to the family.

I had started blogging on Blogger, then switched to Xanga because I knew more people on there, and was getting more comments. But I have been meaning to come back to blogger for let me think now...oh, about 2 years. Somehow blogging is something that I want to do but never get around to writing posts. But I will spend tons of time on the computer reading other people's posts. And lie in bed composing posts about things that have happened to us recently.

So I am going to try to be better. First of all, I will try to move some of the 'vintage' xanga posts over here so if you are reading this but not that, you can get an idea of what life has been like around here. And I wll try to be a regular contributer to the blogosphere. And I will exercise, eat right, never shout at my kids again, always make healthy delicious meals and fruit for snacks, keep my husband in iron shirts and never nag him again.

You hold me to that!

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