Out and about as four

Posted on 27 June, 2016

Last weekend the four of us headed to a friends wedding in Spanish Point, County Clare. In the week leading up to the wedding I planned every other outing with military precision. I have spent a disproportionate amount of lot of time figuring out the best order to get the children in and out of the car safely! There are only two of them and I may well be in danger of over thinking things but don’t worry I have thought about that too. The secret, it seems, to over thinking things is to do something that you could truly worry about. Thereby giving yourself so many things to worry about that you’ll just have no choice just to stop worrying about them because there simply isn’t enough time to worry about all the things you want to worry about. See,simple!

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Here is a brief snap shot of my pre-wedding worries . What if Freya freaks out in the car for the whole journey whicgh in turn causes Ewan to freak out and everyone arrives traumatised? How long should three week old babies be in a car seat? How will I keep Ewan quiet in the church? What if he starts asking loudly if God is real? What if both children scream the place down and no one can hear the priest? Would people mind me breastfeeding in the church? Who would object? The priest would hardly ask me to stop in the middle of his sermon, would he? Can I definitely breast feed in the dress I picked out? What will I do with my hair? How will we all get to sleep in the one hotel room? Will it be dangerous to drive home the next day when no one has slept? Did I definitely book the hotel room? I never got a confirmation email. It is definitely booked, I remember ringing but did she definitely say we had it booked?

The list went on until eventually my mind melted in a puddle on the floor. I decided to step over the brain puddle and go anyway.

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And so two parents, a three year old and a three week year old hit the road and had a blast. No one freaked out in the car. We had to duck out in the middle of the ceremony when both children decided at the same time that they had had enough but we did get to see the wonderful couple  take their vows and we made it back in to see them sign the register. Freya didn’t need a feed in the church but as it turns out I would have felt very comfortable feeding her in the church. My hair had a tough time battling with West Clare winds but it turns out that didn’t matter either. We all slept like logs. Freya slept a whooping six and a half hours between her feeds and Ewan didn’t stir until half eight which is a definite record for him.

When you put aside the logistics and the “what ifs” there is the fact that my friend got married and I got to witness it. She made a life long commitment to her wonderful husband, and he to her, and we got to be a tiny part of it. It would have been pretty easy to stay at home  in our pajamas but I’m so glad we didn’t.

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Freya

Posted on 5 June, 2016

In the space of a week baby Freya has changed our lives immeasurably. As she is our second child the anticipation before her birth was very different. When I was expecting Ewan I was so excited to jump into the unknown that I prepared, nested and imagined for months on end how it would all be. Expecting Freya I didn’t focus on the pregnancy to the same extent. This time I let it happen and watched it unfold rather than anticipating each next step. I will admit that my excitement about the birth was tempered with a large amount of trepidation. As the pregnancy moved on I started to remember what true exhaustion felt like and wondered how I would manage the feeling of depletion and an energetic three year old at the same time. I worried about my patience evaporating and me losing my cool with Ewan and everyone around me.  I worried about  how Steve and I would survive the first few months of complete change that a second child would bring.

I could still worry about all these things but something else happened that I had forgotten all about. I had forgotten what it feels like to feel a rush of love for someone new, our baby girl.  Whispering “I love you “to Freya as I kiss her head I’m left over thrown, lost for a second or two with only her. The weight of those words feel so heavy that sometimes they get caught in my throat. Over the week the realisation sinks in that I will love her forever.  Even when she doesn’t ask for it, want it or need it I will always feel it for her. Like the incessant blue bottle fly who refuses to fly out the window my love will hang in the air, never pausing, never relenting ( although hopefully less annoying!)

I feel this love for Ewan but yet I never stopped to imagine that I could feel it again. Maybe because I couldn’t have imagined it. I couldn’t replicate or dream of this feeling because it’s unimaginable that it would have happened again. It knocked me sideways the first time surely I’d have developed some immunity, some protection against its strength but I have no resistance. I am, once again, over thrown.

I stare at her as her eyes roll with the joy of milk and think she’s complete perfection,just  like her brother before her. The worries, the delusional tiredness, the tensions can wait because this is not a week for those things. This is a week for Freya.

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We need some practice with getting four of us into one picture!

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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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Easter hunts and disappointments

Posted on 27 March, 2016

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If this Easter has thought me anything it’s that my toddler handles disappointment much better this 32 week pregnant woman!

Saturday’s schedule was all laid out we were going to an Easter hunt with Peter Rabbit. The build up for this hunt was epic. We were reading Peter Rabbit, watching the cartoon, talking about it daily. Ewan had a list of things he wanted to bring with him to show Peter Rabbit ( a carrot and a little rabbit light his cousins sent him!) It was all systems go on Saturday morning!

That was until they cancelled it two hours before hand because of rain!  I was devastated!  stood in the pouring rain declaring that it wasn’t bad enough to cancel. I predicted breaking the heart of our nearly 3 year old. The angst of letting him down was more than my pregnancy hormones could take! Ewan  however took it just fine. “Okay” was pretty much his response. We were convinced he didn’t understand gravity of the situation and explained again. “We’ll do a hunt at home in the garden” we promised hoping to ease the devastation he was clearly feeling somewhere deep deep in his soul. “Okay” was again response. After a beat he checked, “Can I wear my wellies in the garden?” When he got a “yeah sure”  he was as pumped about our homemade hunt as he had been about the other plan.

And so with about a five minute prep we headed into the garden to find some very badly hidden chocolates.

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We got a bout of sunshine (see the weather really wasn’t so bad!) and he was thrilled with his foraging skills!

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The chocolate covered face explains how the rest of the day went.

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My theory is proven again by this mornings venture into making hot cross buns. Last night I hastily read a recipe for hot cross buns and thought that would be a lovely thing for the 3.75 of us to do together on Easter Sunday.

This morning I went again for the big build up. I showed Ewan the recipe in the paper. I made him wait for something to eat because these hot cross buns were going to be amazing and he would need his full appetite to appreciate them. I sang the Hot Cross Bun song on loop. The whole works! Once we started into making them I discovered they have to rise for one hour. Then you shape the dough into buns, then they rise for another hour! Then you bake them for nearly an hour!

I read the recipe out loud. I read it to myself. I read it out loud again while I ran my finger under the words. Finally it sunk in.”Nearly three hours” I exclaimed! “What? These are about 20 cents each in Lidl. How can Lidl afford to charge 20 cent for something that takes three hours to make? They’re only buns, how would they need three hours!” The rant went on. Ewan shrugged his shoulder and said “We have to wait” and off he went.

After one hour of waiting I suggested a walk. It turns out no-one in the house is willing to argue with a hungry pregnant woman so despite bursts of hail stones we set out. While I managed to keep the rant to an internal one at this point I was still in shock at a few insolence of the newspaper not to highlight in giant capitals that these so called buns take three hours to make. Ewan went about his day, finding chocolate where he could. He had forgot we’d even made dough in the morning. By the oven timer finally went the hot cross buns came as a magic surprise to him!

Who would have thought toddlers could be zen? Turns out as long as there’s chocolate somewhere to be found nothing else bears worrying about. He might very well be on to something!

 

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1st Pregnancy versus this time round

Posted on 15 March, 2016

As some of you may know I LOVED  my first pregnancy. As this pregnancy moves on (I’m 30 weeks now) I’m noticing some distinct differences between my first and second pregnancy.

1) During my first pregnancy I could have been categorised myself as a keen over-sharer. I would seek people out to talk to about being pregnant. When I exhausted my family, friends, colleagues and  neighbours with details of how I was feeling about everything pregnancy related I turned my attention to strangers. A stranger might innocently comment ” Oh when’s the big day?” Only to get greeted with a barrage of information” It’s the 18th of April. I’ve been feeling really well. Well, actually I had a bout of sickness at the start ( I was sick once and liked to tell everyone!) but I’m feeling much better. We don’t know the sex but for some reason I think it’s a girl ( I was wrong) We’re getting the room ready now. We’ve done the ante natal classes in the hospital and I’m trying out hypnobirthing too. Have you heard of it? No, well  let me tell you all about it…. “. The poor unsuspecting stranger who only popped out to Dunnes for milk got a blow by blow account of my pregnancy, my birthing plan and room colour choices.

This time around I’m struggling to remember I’m pregnant. Recently, someone asked me the same question”When’s the big day?”. My head raced, I’m not getting married, who is getting married that I know. Helen is. They don’t know Helen why is this stranger asking me when Helen is getting married. What big day, what are the talking about. Seeing the complete confusion on my face they asked “When is the baby due?” Once the penny dropped  I eventually replied “Ooohhh, The 23rd of May”. Despite the fact that it’s now the middle of March I’m still insisting that it’s ages away and that I have plenty of time to be thinking baby at some stage!

2) At 30 weeks pregnant in my first pregnancy babies room looked like this …

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Walls were being dry lined and painted. Vintage floor boards were sourced to replace the wonky ones. Nightly debates about colour palettes were part of the routine. We had more unisex baby grows than Mothercare, all ready to go into the newly purchased Ikea dresser.

With this pregnancy I have bought one adorable baby grow  despite the fact that for some reason we threw out most of Ewan’s old ones. This lonely baby grow  lives in the utility room under a bag of potatoes because we don’t yet have a drawer cleared for babies things. Baby will be sleeping in our room and we assume that all the pieces of the crib are somewhere to be found in the attic.

Despite the facts that we’re not in full throttle preparation mode and that the bump is significantly unphotographed in comparison to the first pregnancy I still get a little belly flop of giddiness any time I say “family of four!”.

For babies part he or she is making sure their place at the table  is being set in my mind. Wriggling, stretching,kicking and bouncing  his or her way through the day and night. Life is busy with a nearly three year old but the little life in my belly makes sure that they draw my mind back to them with their extremely athletic activities!

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Hasty 30 week snap shot!

A dirty weekend (of sorts)

Posted on 15 February, 2016

Planning a weekend away on a tiny island  in the Atlantic in the middle of February is a risky move. But if you waited for the weather you’d never go anywhere in Ireland. So we packed all the rain gear we owned and headed to Heir Island. Ewan asked to pack his sunglasses. He’s read books about holidays and thinks that such items are needed. We packed them with mocking grins the night before. Little did we know the child is a weather forecasting prodegy. Steve and I squinted our way down the windy roads of West Cork to the pier only to be greeted with the brightest green sea I’ve ever seen.

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Ewan’s packing choices were vindicated!

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We spent the weekend finding shells, drinking tea, cosying by the fire and helping Ewan out of giant puddles. No matter what wet gear, welly combo we put him in he managed to find a muddy puddle big enough to drench his trousers and socks underneath. Squelching home for food the, sponging wellies and drying them with the hair dryer before the next walk became the pattern of the day. It turns out 4 tracksuit bottoms, one rain suit and waterproof ski pants are not enough for two days away. Who would have known! Our muddy weekend made for a very dirty weekend but not in the traditional meaning of the phrase.

Despite the fact that it’s only about two hours from Cork it feels like we’ve had a real break. Sun, sea, bitter coldness, rain and mud what more could you ask for from a weekend.

I already want to go back!

Here are some of our photos if you’d like a look.

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Some news

Posted on 3 February, 2016

After months of biting my tongue I can now finally get back to blogging without the urge to blurt it all out! I am delighted to tell you that I am 24 weeks pregnant and eating constantly! We are thrilled and looking forward to the end of May with excitement and a big tinge of trepidation at the idea of suddenly being a family of four.

We had an early miscarriage at 8 weeks in June last year. It knocked the wind out of me and it has meant that I met the news of this pregnancy with worry clouding the excitement. But as time has gone on I have very slowly started to trust that it’s going to be okay. For the last few weeks I have started to feel confident in my body again.

Here are a few photos from when I was 19 weeks pregnant. I took photos then because I was having a good hair day! Plus I decided if I was going to brave maternity dungarees then I might as well commit fully and put the pictures on the internet!

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Ewan is fully on board (in theory!) When we first told him he came out with stories that I wasn’t going to have a baby I was going to have a fish. Or there was another version where he conceded I was going to have a baby but the baby would have antlers. Since then we’ve taken him to see a scan and confirmed there’s no fish or antlers. Now runs up to cuddle the bump which is both surprising and cute. He also has taken to talking to the baby in voice much like this whale voiceWe have no idea where that came from but it I hope he keeps it up!

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A farewell to naps

Posted on 10 January, 2016

Dear Nap time,

I can barely express how much I miss you. Since you left me my days feel endless, my tea is always a little cold and by half nine I’m ready for bed.  I move from painting, to play doh, to walks, to playgroups, to Lego, to books, to watching You Tube but nothing takes my mind off how much I long to have you back in my life.

You were my anchor, my sedative and adrenaline wrapped in one. After two years and 8 months together I thought we had something. I really believed we would have more time together. Deep down I knew this day would come at some point but not now, not  like this. I thought there would be some warning signs, I thought we might be able to talk it out or I could force you to stay somehow but instead you upped and left, in January. I mean January!! Of all the months you could have picked, you had to go with January, the coldest, dreariest month of the year. Oh nap time how could you.  I have no idea what’s happening in Corrie. I can’t even think of a craft projects that doesn’t involve play doh. I just need you back so badly.

I knew things weren’t going well when all I could hear is the intense rattling of the stair gate and screams of “I WIDE AWAKE, I WIDE AWAKE MUMMY, I WANT TO GET OUT OF THE GATE, I WIDE AWAKE”

But I thought it was just a bump in the road, that we’d get past it. I hoped a few words with my serious voice would see us over the rough patch but things got worse. I tried everything to keep you: bribery, corruption, bargaining.  But I guess you already had your mind made up.

Friends say it’ll get easier. They say I’ll adjust but I’m not ready to adjust I just want you back even though it looks like you’ve jumped ship for good.

While I hate you for leaving I want you to know you can always come back, even if it’s just for a day or two, even  for just twenty minutes you’ll always be welcome here. Seriously, anytime, you don’t even have to call, just show up with a blanket!

But for now I guess this has to be goodbye.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Marie

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Goodbye Crimbo limbo

Posted on 31 December, 2015

Today we finally say goodbye to Crimbo Limbo that weird time of the year between the 27th and the 31st of December . When nobody knows quiet what to do with themselves. The leftovers feel never ending and, in the case of this year, we linger from one storm to the next.

Tonight the limbo is over. A new year lies ahead.

So goodbye present opening …

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Goodbye over indulgence (although I can’t promise to stop entirely, there’s a Terry’s chocolate orange and some very fancy biscuits that will need my attention in the New Year) …

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But for now there is less than 4 hours between us and a New Year. Whatever it brings I’m in the mood to welcome it.

So I’m not going to promise anything for next year. No diet, goal lists or stoic resolutions.  All I want for 2016 is to enjoy the nice moments and weather the storms. For you however I wish you the best of everything in 2016 and thank you for reading,x

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The house of vinegar smells!

Posted on 3 December, 2015

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Surely the world of canning is reserved for wool spinning home schoolers, the frugal and maybe the occasional organic hipster. While that may be true I have added myself to that merry band of canners.

Despite (or maybe because of ) making three different lists I have spent the past two days completing a grand tour of every local supermarket. Lidl and I always been well acquainted but the staff are now becoming suspicious of my frequent visits. When I’m out of one supermarket I’m straight off to Dunnes for the things I couldn’t get in Lidl, then Heatons for the jars I couldn’t get in Dunnes. Last but not least to Aldi for an unexpected cinnamon stick emergency! Turns out Aldi don’t have cinnamon sticks so it was up to  Super Valu to complete the  full supermarket tour!!

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One word of advice would be choose your supply shop wisely, find one giant shop that has everything and save yourself a lot of rainy trips to the supermarket! (Or stick with the 4 ingredient Chilli Jam and make life yummy and simple!)

 

Once I had everything the process itself was very simple. I made three different recipes.

Christmas Ketchup,Christmas Chutney and the aforementioned Chilli Jam.

All from the lovely Nigella. We are definitely on first name terms after this pot bubbling marathon!

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I found the Christmas Ketchup Recipe in the Nigella Christmas book but I couldn’t find it online anywhere. I will admit I wasn’t too disappointed not to share that recipe with you. The end result is good but the recipe needed the most ingredients and required equipment like a mouli and funnel. While I made do with a sterlised tea pot instead of a funnel and a sieve instead of a mouli it caused me much more grief than the other two recipes and so my advise would be stick to either the Christmas chutney or Chilli Jam.

Often things don’t work out for me in the kitchen so I’m relieved to say I can confidently gift all of these I siphoned off a jar of each one for purely scientific reasons and I’m delighted with how the turned out.

The Christmas chutney is Ewan’s favourite. It has significantly  jazzed up his playschool lunches,m they look much less depresing now!

Steve and I have both voted for the chilli jam as our favourite. I will admit that my decision was influenced by the fact that it’s the easiest one to cook, 10 minutes boiling and leave it cool, ta da!

Despite it’s name it’s doesn’t send you gasping for the nearest fire extinguisher, nor would you spread it on your toast. The chillis I picked (the only ones they had in Lidl) were mild so it has welcomed warmth without leaving you short of breath.

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On downside was the house reeked of vinegar for about two days. But after plunging my family into freezing cold temperatures with all the windows open I’m glad to say I think the smell is finally gone and the jars look pretty nifty filled with yumminess even if I do say so myself! I can’t wait to dish these out to friends, family and neighbours!  In case you didn’t get the vibe from the Christmas cards, I’m loving Christmas this year!!

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