Posts from the “lifestyle” Category

Raising a girl

Posted on 7 November, 2017

When you haven’t blogged for nine months it’s hard to know whether to start with a grovelling apology to, an explanation of your time or to blatantly ignore it. I’ll opt for blatantly ignore it. Phew, glad that’s out of the way.

When Freya was born it brought about a moral panic that I didn’t feel when Ewan was born. Why? Because I believe that the world will open it’s possibilities to her brother in a way that is not available to her through no fault of her own and I panicked about what I would do about that.  I believe she will be held to scrutiny in a way her brother will not.  In childhood he will be expected to be boisterous, loud, strong, muddy and wild. Basically, all the fun characteristics of childhood. She will be expected to be pretty, well behaved, polite and caring. I hear it everyday in parents and childminders. There’s the despair at out of gender characteristics, expectations that children will grow into their roles. “She’s more like a boy these days but hopefully school will help her calm down a bit”. “He’s really gentle isn’t he, not like the rest of the boys”.

In adulthood every statistic across the board says that Ewan will be hired more readily, paid more and promoted faster. Already people point out how Ewan is not a typical boisterous boy. But the truth is he doesn’t have to match any stereotype of a boy or man to have the odds stacked in his favour. His genitalia has decided that. This doesn’t mean women and girls are to be pitied but you can’t look at the wealth of information available and say that the world will treat them the same regardless of their genitalia. It’s just not true. But yet I feel like it can’t be how things really are. Not for my little girl. She has as fair a chance as any man at interview. Statistics say otherwise. She could lead the world if she wants to. Statistics say otherwise. She’ll have her body autonomy respected by those she meets. Statistics say otherwise. She won’t be judged on her looks any more than Ewan will be.   Statistics say otherwise.

So, what do I want Freya to know heading into this world?

After reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s suggestions on raising a feminist daughter I had this sinking feeling that I’m already letting the side down! I didn’t even get past her first suggestion without feeling inadequate.

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person…You don’t even have to love your job; you can merely love what your job does for you – the confidence and self-fulfillment that come with doing and earning. Reject the idea of motherhood and work as mutually exclusive.”

Feck, staying at home is not in the manual! I’ve dropped the ball on the first suggestion in raising a daughter and I fully understand her reasoning.

When Freya was born I felt like I wanted her to know that I was more than this. I wanted her to know that women can be more the child carer’s, more than keeping the house somewhat tidy-ish, more than a part time blogger. That women have options, greater more valued options than the ones I have chosen.

But as the months move on I’m learning more and more and her strength is teaching me a thing or two.  From hours after her birth the nurses and midwives didn’t comment on her looks but on how strong she was.  Her body showed it’s strength from a few short hours after her birth. I revealed in their words. I soaked them in and I knew them to be true of her.  At nine months doctors were saying she has under developed hips that require intervention yet she was crawling and standing holding on to something and trying to pull herself up onto every object within reach. When Ewan hurt her in play she turns her head and screams at him in defiance and rage. When she drops something she will screech to have it returned to her, we leap with haste. We bow to her will for we know this lady is not for turning.

So as she grows and the world starts to look more at how she looks, her red hair,her weight I think back to those early hours of when her strength was her defining characteristic and I wonder how I exemplify it for her.

In truth she has strength in spadefuls but for me, I’m learning. For now strength means holding my position and owning it.   I want to be at home. I want to be near them when they are so little and the world is so big. I want to be the one picking her up from her nap. I want to be here. We can afford for me to be here at home and I choose it. Too often I try and excuse my time. I think of this time as a gap in my life. I explain my choice with half finished sentences and utterances about the productive things I might do soon. But it is not a gap, it is life in it’s fullest and most mundane. I’m a statistic of a woman who will not progress as quickly as my male peers. I am a statistic of a woman who will struggle to get back to the workforce when the time comes. I am a woman who has chosen this way to parent. It is not the right way or the wrong way but it is my way. I have chosen it. I am still a full person.

I am strong enough for her. I am strong enough for myself. I am strong.

Baby Moon

Posted on 7 May, 2016

Back in 2013 Steve and I thought we were at the height of originality when we came up with the idea of having a night away just to hang out and relax together before our lives would be changed forever by the little baby growing inside me. According to everyone in the world it was going to be a big change and so some time together to hunker down and just enjoy each others company seemed like a good sensible idea. Once we announced our plan a friend said a “oh a babymoon. Nice” Hold on, a what? Apparently there is a whole term for a night (or two) away before a baby arrives. Not so original it would  seem!

So this time around with the help of Grandparents, original idea or not,  we arranged a night away for the two of us. This time we know the level of change that’s coming our way so we pushed the boat out and thought if we are doing this lets do it in style. So we booked Ballyvolane House. It’s a big old house in East Cork that I have been drooling over for about 4 years. The internet can be a terrible thing filled with beautiful, jealousy inducing photos of places you’ll never go. But given that the house is  in Cork I felt it wasn’t beyond the  realm of possibility that I would get to visit  this alluring place at some point in my life. So for years I fed my obsession with searching #Ballyvolanehouse on  Instagram at regular intervals and drilling anyone who had visited  there for information. Now that I’ve finally been I can say safely it was well worth the wait.

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I knew it would look great but it came with a few unexpected quirks too (some things wouldn’t be for everyone). Firstly, the bedrooms only lock from the inside so when you leave the room you can’t lock the door.We were only staying for a night so the worst thing someone could have stolen from us was our toothbrushes.I was willing to accept that level of risk. Plus there are only 6 guest bedrooms in the house so if something suspicious had happened I had envisaged an elaborate real-life game of Cluedo would have solved the mystery.

The next surprise is that everyone staying, and possibly some locals booked in for dinner, all eat together at one long table. Both Steve and I were apprehensive about this. Mainly because making chit chat on your break seems like a lot of effort but it turned out really well. The table of 18 people chattered,clinked and ate our way through a 3 and a half hour epic meal. The food was so heavenly that we are going  to frame the menu and I seriously doubt that I’ll ever forget the lemon tart and brown bread ice cream combo not to mention a Wild Garlic Soup that melted a little place in my heart in a way that I thought a soup could never do!!

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The next curiosity was that they have an Honesty Bar. You can take anything you want from their extremely well stocked bar, including Bertha’s Gin that they brew onsite, and they trust you to write down what you’ve had. As a pregnant lady and a partner who isn’t drinking in case I go into labour any second now we didn’t dive in but we were honest about our one sparking water! I know we’re wild!

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Honesty Bar

The last surprise is that their dogs come running after you at the first sight of a walk around the grounds. Which when battling with heartburn walks are a necessity rather than an optional extra! I don’t often get to hang out with dogs but  I definitely see the attraction! My stick throwing skills need a bit of practice and all five dogs definitely favoured Steve over me for this task.

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Our adopted friend Wriggle and a caravan used as a drinks bar for events

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While outside was nice I definitely enjoyed swanning around the house as the best part of the trip. Prepare for a photo onslaught if the quantity of photos break your internet I’m sorry (well not really) I simply can’t help myself.

Here we go….

 

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In less than 12 hours I had two baths. I was a very clean and happy customer!

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Me trying to look angelic!

Now that you’ve been bombard you with a selection of the million of photos I took I will answer the burning question I’m sure you are all thinking.”Yeah it looks nice but does the bedroom have somewhere for a big pregnant woman to hide so she can scare her partner?”.The answer is a resounding Yes! Although oddly he wasn’t scared by my grinning BOO!

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Best of a 100

Posted on 28 September, 2015

The secret I’ve been harbouring these last few weeks is that  I have left my basic Nokia and have gone full swing back to a smartphone! Goodbye moral high ground I’ll miss you!

In the end there were too many things that drove me insane about having an extremely basic phone. A knock-on effect of going back to my smart phone is that I haven’t picked up my big camera since I got the new smart phone. It has been literally gathering dust, and I’m already forgetting the little tricks and tweaks I used with my camera to get the photos I wanted so I have committed to taking a 100 photos in a day once a week.

When Steve asked why 100 I said “just ’cause”. But since he asked it now feels like one of those things I might have read on the internet, then forget, then thought it’s my own idea. Well to the best of my knowledge it is my very own idea.(Cue comments with links to 100,000 other people who have been doing this for 5 years) In my mind my first 100 photos was going to be somewhere majestic. I had imagined a woods with long shadows. In reality I’m filled to my eyeballs with sniffles and cold induced self-pity which equates to “no intention of leaving the house”.

Sometimes I feel bad for Ewan when I’m sickly and not up for doing much but today was one of the days when it wasn’t really a choice. My body looked at the lovely sunshine outside and said ” pah you can keep it, I need a cosy cardigan,blanket and as many tissues as you can find!” and so here is what a cooped up day in the sunshine looks like.

While I took a 100 it would bore you senseless to see 100 over exposed photos, many of which are off my feet, so here are my top 10:)

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The puzzle we made 12 times today

The puzzle we made 12 times today

Whoo whoo

Whoo whoo

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Sweet sweet bed

Sweet sweet bed

My glamourous #ootd a nightdress, trackie bottoms and a cardi, bang on trend!

My glamourous #ootd a nightdress, trackie bottoms and a cardi, bang on trend!

Never a fun time:(

Never a fun time:(

Please make the nail cutting stop!!

Please make the nail cutting stop!!

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5 euro and two Charity Shops

Posted on 9 July, 2015

Very very soon we are heading off on holidays, whoop whoop. As we are staying in Ireland there is a possibility it will rain. There is a possibility that walking in the rain might not cut it for very long and there is a possibility that we might have to entertain Ewan for hours with only our wits and good humour to pull us through. This last bit made me think we needed some new books, and sharpish.

My criteria for holiday children’s books is multi-faceted: second hand, cheap,light and easy to carry, minimal scribbles, no torn pages and last but not least something different to what we already have. We headed to Ballincollig where I wanted to test my theory that outside the city centre are charity shops filled with great things at cheaper prices because they don’t have to pay city rents.  This theory will need further testing post-holiday but I’m pretty chuffed with what my 5 euro got me.

Firstly 7 books for 3 euro  and 50 cents

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Next my impromptu purchase of an Old Navy Stripey Jumper  50 cents and Mini Boden pants 50cents.

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Before we headed for home, it turns out two charity shops is the maximum this toddler can handle, Ewan made his own impulse purchase request for a 50 cents toy bus. He loves it dearly.

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An arm full of bargains in any ones book I’d say.  I’ve only given them a cursory glance to the books (I don’t want to spoil the surprise:) but so far the “Dinosaur that pooped a lot ” has caught my attention and I’ve never read ( or don’t remember reading) Three Billy Goats Gruff so hold on to your hats this holiday is going to be mental!!

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V and A Love

Posted on 3 July, 2015

Our trip to London didn’t all go as planned but there is something wise to be said about the whole trip being the sums of all it’s parts and one part I wouldn’t change is my new found love of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. When I added the museum to my wish list before our trip  I wasn’t after a rare glimpse at the creative endeavors of centuries of artists and sculptors I was more concerned with their gift shop! I have long ogled over their gift shop online and regardless of whether or not there was anything of interest in the museum itself I wanted to see it’s gift shop. It turns out the V and A is more than the sum of it’s gift shop (where incidentally I only bought a few post cards after all my talk).

For a start it’s free and it’s a absolutely stunning building. Certainly not too shabby for Ann Marie!

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Plus the coffee shop is pretty alright looking!

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Image Credit: Nomadic Vision

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Image Credit: Nomadic Vision

When we were there it was far too busy and I was too hungry to photograph it but the pictures above do it justice. This place has the wow factor and beats a Costa Coffee any day! Being unfamiliar with heat Steve and I ate outside and talked about how much Ewan would have loved the paddling pool/ water feature in the gardens. Taking a weekend trip without Ewan had it’s merits but he was never too far from our thoughts and we talked about him ALOT!

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But the best part  for me is their random collections. A room devoted to Blue and White Ceramics, yes please. This is my kind of place. Singer Sewing machines, Cornishware and William Morris Wallpaper are all on display and given the same attention as ancient metal work. But the icing on the cake was most definitely their collection of tiles. I am long confessed tile addict and the V and A did not disappoint. The buildings are full of lovely tiles underfoot but the ones on display. Oh my, be still my beating heart. I actually gasped at how pretty some of them were!

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The next time we get a chance to go to London I reckon the itinerary will be airport then straight to the V and A for some delightful tile lust, I might even have a splash in their water feature the next time!

 

 

The V&A Museum courtyard

Image Credit : Nomadic Vision

Straw-bee-berries

Posted on 11 June, 2015

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I will declare openly  that there is an element of trickery to this post. I will show you a few flowers and fruit which I hope will lead you to believe that my garden could be quiet nice but in truth all hope is lost. When it comes to waging war on hip height nettles I simply don’t have the will to face them. As a result I am a garden refugee.  I have evacuated 95% of the garden and focus solely on growing delicious strawberries.

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So far the yield is small (20 strawberries) but I have high hopes now that the sun has arrived. Ewan has named them straw-bee-berries which I find particularly cute. His love for straw-bee-berries knows no bounds! I have no idea how I will parent when the straw-bee-berry season is finished. At the moment any mood can be lifted with the question ” Will we go check if there are any strawberries today?”.

This generally receives an enthusiastic declaration of  “Exciting!” as he rushes off to try and put on his wellies. In truth going to check the strawberries involves me carrying him in one arm and an overflowing watering can in the other as I wade through the war torn land of nettles to the safe zone of the glass house. It all feels pretty heroic and like a big adventure into the wilderness!

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Once in the safe zone he uses the full extent of his waiting ability. Yesterday he agreed that ,yes, we did need to wait for the straw-bee-berries to go red before we could eat them. He proceeded to pace  outside the glass house for 30 seconds or so and came in to declare “It’s ready now”. This was the face I was given when I explained that they might take a day or two to go red.

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The slow pace of growth really doesn’t suit the nature of toddler life where a day may as well be a month. But despite the small yields and prickly path the quest for seeking out red treasures is one that’s still met with such giddy excitement that it makes me think gardening isn’t so bad after all. Especially if you just focus on strawberries and the occasional flower mix packet!

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Where have I been?

Posted on 16 April, 2015

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You might be forgiven for thinking that I have vanished. Well, rest assured I am alive and well.

I would love to say that I have been doing something terribly industrious and important but in truth I’ve been going filling my days with thousands of trips to Fota Wildlife Park  …

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…feeding some hungry kid goats at an open farm….

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On the home front I’ve discovered the wonders of sticking some ginger nuts in with digestives to make a good and crunch crumble!

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When I haven’t been loitering in sunny parks or crumbling I have been crafting my little heart out. My local craft shop Vibes and Scribes have sponsored me to do a crafting blog post. I’m unbelievably thrilled about this. I’m nuts about their shop so when they got in touch I squealed ! After squealing the next obvioius thing to do was to touch with my crafty friend Colette and so the planning and plotting started! I hope to have a finished masterpiece ready really soon, I’m so excited to show you:)

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A week in photos

Posted on 6 February, 2015

Ewan and I have been experimenting with walking into town without the buggy as back up! I’m trying to figure out how far he will walk before sitting on the ground and refusing to move. So far I’ve been impressed and with a bit of encouraging he is walking further than I had thought. Still though his walking is very much mood dependent and  I never leave the house without the bus fare in my pocket,  just in case!

IMG_9495We’ve had a few bird encounters on our  walking adventures:)

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Last week I spent the evenings  a thousand tissues deep on the couch sniffling with the cold that never ends. This week I took my cold out with me and sniffled on others instead. IMG_9567One of these night time outings  was to a friends house for a lesson in felting. This is my first venture in felting and, with her help ,I hope to have something amazing to show you soon (ish!)IMG_9581 IMG_9594

In the spirit of new ventures I’ve shaken things up in the hair department too.  I’m now sporting the latest hair trend, a fringe! I fully believe in the amazing restorative powers of a hair cut. So after a lack lustre January I’ve chopped off the split ends and I’m ready for new ventures.

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A week in photos

Posted on 9 January, 2015

I thought before the week is out I’d drop in and say hello…

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This week has been filled with rainy days so any break in the weather and we are up and at ‘em before you can say “umbrella”IMG_8939 IMG_8997Christmas and New years were delightful but I have to say I’ve enjoyed getting back into the regular routine. We are back swimming, music group and the parent toddler group are back in full swing and myself and the wee man are getting used to just each others company again.

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Without a host of grandparents and visits life is quieter around here but that has it’s charms too as we lounge around in pj’s for longer than the civilised world has deemed necessary.

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I have saved the biggest news of the week until last. My friend Dee gifted me the Catherineholm teapot that I was so unattractively jealous of. There was many “I can’t take it, it’s yours” ” I’ve decided you’ll just have to take it” “I can’t!”. This went on for some time. In the end the deal was clenched when she said that she likes it but I will LOVE it and it would give me great happiness. I still can’t quiet believe it. It is amazingly generous of her and I am so grateful. The accolade of finding a Catherineholm piece in the wild is all hers. I’m just thrilled to get to look at it. But I have already warned Ewan that he is not to get notions, on my death it is going straight back to it’s rightful owner Dee! IMG_9085In case you are wondering I bought the yellowCatherineholm  bowl from Etsy a few years ago at ridiculous expense when I had more money than sense! And also it’s worth noting that the tea pot pours like a dream and yes, tea definitely does taste better from it!

 

We’re all going on a summer holiday…

Posted on 18 July, 2014

see ireland first, retro holiday in ireland poster, vintage ireland poster

Yes it’s true, we have picked the weekend of  “heavy showers, thunderstorms with hail which may lead to local flooding, disruption or possible damage” to start our summer holidays!

Steve, Ewan and I are taking two weeks holidays in Ireland this means we are packing wellingtons, swim suits, waterproof jackets and factor 50 spf sun tan lotion. We are ready for all an Irish summer can give us!

The shop is  “on vacation” too.  For those of you wondering whether or not I achieved my goal of getting 20 items into the shop before holidays lets just say 0/20. There is definitely some room for improvement there!  But holidays are a time to leave guilt behind so I’m officially clocking off for two whole weeks as of now:)

Two weeks is a long time in internet world, don’t forget me I’ll be back!

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PS. Thank you to everyone so far who has left a comment or sent an email about the stretch mark post. Getting feedback has  made me feel  sorelieved ( I was so nervous to post it!) , thank you!