Sunday 18 December 2016

An Ode to Christmas

It's Christmas week, the countdown's on
Til Santa's on his way
With lots of gifts for girls and boys
All loaded on his sleigh,
The kids are filled with Christmas cheer,
Excited by the season,
While mums and dads rush everywhere,
And shopping is the reason,
For all the family and everyone's friends,
Teachers and neighbours too,
Houses to clean and turkeys to buy
So very much to do
And panic, panic, rushing on,
Becomes the assumed position,
No lack of money or shortage of time,
Can thwart the Christmas mission,
All must be perfect in every respect,
And new traditions made,
Such pressure on all, to get it right,
Not enough attention paid,
To remember the things that matter most,
During this special time of year,
That we're surrounded by those we love,
The people we hold dear,
No shop bought gift, or internet bargain,
A person's place can take,
Around the table or on the couch,
And so for happiness sake,
Just take a breather, enjoy the moment
Engage in lots of niceness,
If you have good health and people to love,
Then your Christmas gifts are priceless.

Thursday 1 December 2016

When Man-Flu strikes!!!

Winter is well and truly here. Along with the usual festivities in the build up to Christmas, it has brought to this house a dose that strikes fear into the heart of any parent of boys. Man flu has arrived with a bang.

Man-flu is making its presence felt with a vengeance. Much as I love my darling sons, I’m afraid there are no warriors among them.  My daughter managed to catch, just a cold - lucky her, but the boys have been struck down so badly with this cursed dose, that any attempts to encourage movement from their slumped position on the couch brings about the sort of whines and moans that are associated with this terrible, prohibitive illness.

According to the six year old, it’s my fault that he’s sneezing because I gave him peas instead of beans yesterday.  I’m also responsible for his teacher having caught his sneezes because of my insistence that he bring a tissue to school – apparently the mere sight of it set her off “astishoo-ing”.

I’m trying not to take any of this to heart.  Confusion is one of the side effects of this illness. The three year old, also suffering – and definitely not in silence, has become confused as to how the sponge ended up down the toilet.  The ten year old has no idea why his dirty socks keep piling up on the floor of his bedroom, even though he DEFINITELY put them into the wash basket. The seven year old is confused as to how he has managed to come home in a pair of school shoes that are three sizes too big for him and have laces – which he can’t even tie! The twelve year old is confused as to why he must go to the school having sneezed twice at this stage and so obviously therefore, very much in the throes of it. The one year old is blowing snot bubbles from his gorgeous button nose at a very impressive rate.  He’s not confused at all – he knows he’s miserable and he’s letting us know all about it.

Begone man-flu– leave my poor boys alone. I’m not sure how much more of their “suffering” my female self can endure!

Sunday 13 November 2016

Tips for taking the stress out of Christmas.

Halloween is over and whether we like it or not, the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on. The shops are decorated, Christmas adverts are all over the television, Santa lists have started and my own personal marker that Christmas is coming – I’m a Celebrity is set to return to our screens!

While certain “celebrities” are preparing to feast on kangaroo testicles and ostrich anus, those of us not renowned for reality show appearances will probably be more focused on the million and one things that have to be done ahead of December 25th  - and how many types of potato are too many for Christmas day.

It may well be the season to be jolly but that doesn’t make it any less a stressful time. With that in mind I have compiled a list of 6 things that I have found help with the financial, emotional and time pressure stress of the coming weeks.

1.Make a list
Before you hit the shops, make a list of what you are looking for. It’s easy otherwise to get caught up in the frenzy and supposed offers in the various shops. With a list, you know exactly what you’re looking for, which hopefully can save you time.  Without a list, there’s a huge temptation to buy lots of bargains and blow your budget on things you didn’t want or need.  There’s also the danger that you’ll forget some of what you set out to buy!

2. Look out for offers
The shops are in competition mode with seemingly daily changes in offers, from 3 for 2’s, to half price gifts, to vouchers if you spend a certain amount, to the lure of Black Friday deals! Details of most of these offers can be found online and while advertising naturally actively attempts to encourage us to part with our money through the promise of “must end soon” and “while stocks last” the reality is that a lot of these offers are ongoing for a period.  Take stock of the offer, “google” around to see how it compares and make your decision then. Don’t feel the pressure to jump right in and buy something that you didn’t really want or need anyway.

3. Online saves time
Online shopping has given us, not only the opportunity to buy what we’d like from home, but to also do our research before we leave the house, if we fancy braving the shops.  Many websites now let us see if the desired item is in stock in particular locations and, if such is the case, let us reserve it before we make a wasted trip. So very important as the crowd levels increase and parking becomes a nightmare!

4. Wrap as you go.
Rather than leaving all the wrapping until Christmas week, or worse still Christmas Eve, free yourself up by wrapping your purchases the day you buy them and label and bag ‘em . You’ll be grateful in the long run.  Just don’t hide them too safely!!!

5. Remember Santa is on your side.
The man in red has come ever more on board in supporting parents in their choices of appropriate gifts. Santa recognises that there are different rules in different houses. It’s worth reminding your children that Santa only brings things that he knows parents allow – that goes for dwarf hamsters too!

6.Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We’re all guilty of wanting things to go a certain way and Christmas can magnify that as we attempt to recreate idyllic scenes from childhood, or create our own new "picture-perfect" ones.  Life is life though, and things go wrong.  Try to keep everything in perspective.  It’s not the end of the world if your Christmas tree can only be decorated from two-thirds of the way up thanks to an inquisitive and destructive toddler. It’s not the end of the world if your domestic goddess skills are somewhat lacking and you have to buy rather than make your own Christmas cake and pudding.  It’s not even the end of the world if your annual family Santa visit is somewhat overshadowed by your toddler’s screams of terror and the photographic evidence that you’ve paid for.

What is important is that you’re a family, spending family time together, celebrating the joys of the season and supporting each other too.  While Christmas can be a magical time it can be an emotional time also, particularly if you’ve lost a loved one that year, if illness has been prevalent or if it stirs sad memories from Christmases and times past.  Be kind to yourself, be kind to each other and celebrate in a way that suits you and your loved ones best.

Thursday 27 October 2016

T'was the night before midterm

T'was the night before midterm,
And all through the schools,
The walls were adorned,
With witches and ghouls,
The teachers were smiling,
At the thought of a break,
While the parents they pondered
What childcare route to take,
The children were dreaming,
Of Zombies in beds,
While visions of pumpkins,
Danced in their heads,
And Halloween planning,
Of costumes galore
With make up and masks,
Were right at the fore,
Of every child's thoughts,
As the big day drew near
With the hope of creating,
A real sense of fear,
In every poor neighbour,
They'd encounter and meet,
When they called to their door
And said "trick or treat",
Then return home with bags,
Filled with sweets and crisps plenty,
Try to eat them all quickly,
Until it is empty,
So the sugar filled kids,
You can picture the scene,
Won't be sleeping that night,
Have a Happy Halloween! 🎃

Sunday 23 October 2016

Because mums are people too!

Parenthood is demanding and all consuming – we all know that. It’s a 24/7 job where the pay is love and the breaks are non existent – but the pay is love, so those of us lucky and privileged enough to have children, get on with it, grumbling sometimes, moaning others and appreciating our glass of wine all the more for it!

Time is the one thing that most of us parents feel we lack.  Time with our children, time with our spouses, time for extended family, time to do the million and one other things on the list – even time to get a haircut. 

We hear constantly about taking the time to look after ourselves and while most of us appreciate that happy mammy generally equals happier children, we still have a tendency not to prioritise our own needs.  None of us are superhuman however, and it does eventually catch up!

Last week, a friend of mine suggested a mum’s night out on Friday.  The message had barely arrived when I replied an emphatic yes and when and where and could we somehow ensure it was set in stone and that nothing short of an Act of God would result in its cancellation (it’s fair to say I don’t get out much).

Friday arrived and with all the excitement of a teenager I counted down the hours. Not even my grumpy five year old or guilt tripping ten year old (the Halloween decorations still weren’t up) could dampen my mood.  The baby and the 3 year old weakened my resolve alright, when they found a tub of sudocrem that I hadn’t nailed to a surface and proceeded to smear it all over the floor, table, my planned outfit for the night, and left me with a trail of handprints on the stair carpet for good measure, but I stayed strong and took the advice of some wise Mama-tude Facebook followers who believed wine would help with the stains.  They were right – two glasses and I didn’t care.

And so I set off to the restaurant to meet my friends and had a great night.  We had cocktails, lovely food, and as always happens when a meeting of great minds take place – we debated some real life, significant issues. We pondered the overworked “Ms Rabbit”, and thought how similar she sounded to “Nanny Plum”.  We laughed at Daddy Pig and agreed, controversial though it may be, that he is a bit of an eejit and remembered the time that he tried to hang a picture and ended up taking a piece out of the wall. We scoffed at the Wise Old Elf and his belief that “magic always leads to trouble” and thought of the time that he was stuck up Mount Everest and wished Nanny Plum had her wand then!

Talk moved swiftly on to Halloween and we discussed kid’s outfits, how in “our day” we made do with a black plastic bag and improvised in relation to things that we didn’t have. We wowed at the creativity of one mum who made a parrot costume from pieces of felt.  I shared my tales of Boy George costumes (lots of plaits and too much make up) and Bosco costumes (a box and a blue metallic wig, because I didn’t have a red one). We learned that there are indeed things to be learned from the "olden days" when we realised a black sack was just what another mum needed to create the perfect witches outfit for her toddler son.

And so all too soon the evening came to an end.  There were lots of laughs had, (apologies to the other diners for our lack of volume control) and tales exchanged and we left with a date scheduled to do it again in the not too distant future.  We all agreed if we left a date to be decided upon, too much time would pass once again as “life” took priority.

On Saturday, with renewed vigour and recharged batteries, I took on the task of converting our home to spooky, ghoulish, (slightly terrifying for the 3 year old unfortunately) haunted house and I surrendered my claim to the “world’s worst mother title”. The kids were delighted and I lived first hand the theory that happy mum really does equal happy children.

Another weekend is drawing to a close and though there’s the usual mountain of “stuff” to be sorted, Halloween and all its excitement is just around the corner –  as is another mum’s night out. So if my friends are reading remember – that night is set in stone, not to be cancelled except in the occurrence of an Act of God.  My sanity depends on it – no pressure! ;-) 

Have a great week!

Monday 17 October 2016

Sunday is not a weekday!

Halloween is coming so the geese aren’t getting fat quite yet but the kids are certainly getting grumpy – reason being, I still haven’t put up the Halloween decorations! Halloween is second probably only to Christmas, in terms of excitement, in this house, and the costume planning has been going on for many weeks now. At the moment it’s looking like several Spidermen will take up residence in this house on October 31st, assuming the motto “with great power comes great responsibility”. Bad guys needn't come here!

The plan originally this weekend gone was to decorate the house in a typical ghoulish and spooky manner with seasonal lights and scary doorbells thrown in for good effect.  Work, birthday parties and a mountain of laundry which even by Sunday night was still of Everest proportions put paid to my best laid plans. I won’t be forgiven in a hurry!

Saturday evening it was the turn of my 5 year old to celebrate his upcoming birthday with his classmates and he shared his party with two of his friends.  Once the curly haired one had got his head around the fact that he was still 5 at his 6th birthday party, he threw himself into the celebrations and had a ball with all of his buddies.  It was an evening party and as the shorter evenings are drawing more rapidly in, the partygoers were very excited by their belief that they were at a party when they “should be in bed”. The cuteness of the little dudes was almost too much to bear.

Once I arrived home, and it was actually bedtime for the younger ones, the questions started about the Halloween decorations.  “But you promised” I was told, when I had merely said “we’ll see” earlier in the week. That’s why as much as possible I try to stay off “autonod” – you never know what you could end up agreeing too.

Knowing I had a prior commitment on Sunday afternoon and that the rest of the day would undoubtedly be spent preparing for the week ahead, I tried to avoid any suggestion of the decorations going up then either.  And so it came to pass that the decorations didn’t go up and I spent the day washing uniforms (and a million and one other items of clothing).  The usual preparation for lunches and the search for single missing school shoes took place and I realised that Sunday has sneakily once again assumed its place as “preparation day” instead of day off.

There is one more weekend until the mid-term officially begins and I am determined to figure out a way to reclaim some of future Sundays anyway.  How - I have no idea yet, but I am intent on stopping Sunday from morphing into yet another work/school day.  In the meantime I have resorted, as all good parents do, to bribery, in the shape of Halloween buns, to buy me a little time to get sorted and to beg forgiveness for my blood oath swearing promise comment of “we’ll see”.

Saturday 1 October 2016

An Ode to Breastfeeding

Breast is best, we've heard it said,
There's nothing can compare,
As long as practiced discreetly of course,
So people, they won't stare,
Cos you might put them off their food,
If Boobies they did see,
While trying to have a wrap or roll,
With their coffee or their tea,
And even if your baby cries,
With hunger for a feed,
Find somewhere out of people's gaze,
A toilet, if you need,
After all the comfort of mum and babe,
Is very important too,
And baby will still enjoy their lunch
Surrounded by wee and poo,
Exhibitionist mums, please be aware,
And think of others' feelings,
Don't whip 'em out for all to see,
Directing gazes to the ceilings,
Cos Boobs are fine for porn and mags,
For Ads and T.V maybe,
The only time they cause offence,
Is when you're feeding baby!
;-) Happy Breastfeeding week everyone. Jen.x

Thursday 22 September 2016

Exhausted-ese - the language of a tired mum.

If “motherese” is the term used to describe the way in which a mother speaks to her child , then “absolutely exhausted-ese” might be the term of choice to describe the complete lack of ability to string a sentence together accurately or even use the correct word or name in reference, 

My mother told me that I never slept much as a baby and apparently himself wasn’t a great sleeper either, but never in wildest nightmares did I imagine that ALL seven of them would subject me to torturous sleep deprivation.

There are many reasons that I am grateful to be a woman.  Make- up is one of them.  It covers a multitude and disguises the rest. It cannot however, cover up my lack of precision when I try to make a simple request but just can’t get the words out.  At this stage I’m waaaaaay past just the whole just calling the kids the wrong names, though I haven’t yet managed to overcome my irritation when they don’t know who I mean. My exhausted train of thought means that I regularly ask children to put new toilet rolls in the chest freezer, hair gel in the linen press and dog food in the playroom.

I have realised now that it has become a very significant issue.  The thing that has alerted me to this fact is…that the kids have started to notice……and …..question if what I said is actually what I mean!

To appreciate the seriousness of the situation, you would also have to appreciate that my children’s minds are usually on much more important things, such as who could win a battle between Batman’s sidekick Robin and Spiderman or whatever the latest teenage crisis is such as “how much contouring is too much”.  These days however, they no longer blindly follow instruction (after the fourth time of asking) but openly question and even laugh sometimes at the now recognised ridiculousness of my requests.

Yesterday was one such example when I heard the seven and ten year old laugh at my insistence that they go upstairs and put their pyjamas on immediately because we needed to leave shortly for Kung Fu. “Pyjamas” the ten year old questioned. “Yes” I reiterated, “now hurry up or we’ll be late and you’ll have to do press ups”. The seven year old laughed again and said “Don’t you mean Kung Fu uniform mam?” “I think we’d be made do press ups if we turned up in our pyjamas too” the ten year old added. “What? Of course I mean Kung Fu uniforms” I quickly mumbled.

I was overcome by shock. This was so out of character for my children. They had actually listened to me.  They had actually heard what I had said – even if it was nonsense. They had used their initiative and recognised the appropriate attire necessary for the task in hand. Had they not proceeded then to argue and batter each other over a pair of shin guards, it would have been a perfect moment.

Inconsistency, however, still prevails and when I discovered the new tube of toothpaste in the little boys wardrobe later that evening, I began to appreciate that I need desperately to get more sleep and unlearn this language of exhausted-ese. Otherwise, the next thing I might find is the baby in the dog’s kennel.

Now, how to convince the twelve month old of the merits of sleep…….

Saturday 17 September 2016

An Ode to "The School Drill"

September's here and school is back,
The weeks are passing quickly,
Routines take hold, familiar scenes,
The kids start feeling sickly,
In staggered sequence, so it goes,
For maximum disruption,
And working parents everywhere,
Fear a volcanic-like eruption,
As they explain to bosses dear,
That leave is badly needed,
Cos Johnny, Sam and Sarah too,
By sickness are impeded,
From going back to school that day
And so they'll miss the letter
That tells you headlice is back again
Scratching won't make it better,
Activities of different kinds,
Will feature every day,
Football, piano, swimming too,
There's little time to play.
The homework's back, the pain is real,
A battle has resumed,
With projects mounting by the week,
The parents are consumed,
With a dread they never felt before,
When they were back at school,
But dreading won't dispel the task,
They need keep their cool,
And coax reluctant school kids on,
Remind them what's at stake,
'Cos homework's here to stay for now,
Until the mid term break!

Sunday 11 September 2016

A reminder of what's important

I had known since the week before, that last week was going to be a particularly busy one. What I didn’t wholly appreciate, was that it would also be a week in which I would be reminded once again about the things that are truly important. The things that are so often forgotten about in the daily chaos and mayhem that is life.

As anticipated, my Spiderman loving, Power Ranger costume wearing, Iron-man beaker bearing, three year old kicked up quite the stink when Monday morning came around and it was time to return to Montessori. Whole-hearted declarations of “I’m not going to school” were reiterated at two minute intervals and my Houdini-like escape artist unbuckled himself from his car seat six times before we finally managed to get out of the driveway.  Prior to this, the usual morning madness had run it’s course as “tired and emotional” children ate breakfast at a snail’s pace and climbed the stairs to clean their teeth at an even slower one. Even the most falsified, cheeriest tones of encouragement and persuasion could not speed my reluctant troops up!

Once they had gone to school and I had finally managed to reverse out of the driveway with my superhero strapped into his car-seat, while his adoring baby brother watched on in amusement and hopefully without any intent of mimicking his behaviour in the future, we set off to montessori.  As the declarations continued I decided there was only one fail-proof way to tackle the situation -bribery!
I knew that once my “not very shy” little dude gave montessori a chance he would be as happy as that proverbial pig.  I also knew that my “not very shy” little dude is quite possibly the most stubborn child of my lot and so convincing him to give it a chance was not going to be easy. “Oh you are such a big boy now” I told him. “You’re going to have so much fun with your new friends.” Still, he gave me nothing. “In fact”, I added, “I’m so proud of you for starting at montessori that I think I’ll have to have a present for you when you come home”. Finally I had his full attention. As I continued with my explanation that it was only right he should get a present to celebrate starting at big school, my three year old super hero, unbuckled himself again and started to put his Spiderman bag on his back. “Let’s go mum” he said. And we were off.

Thankfully the rest of the week went pretty smoothly, montessori wise, and the €1.49 that I spent on a Spiderman bubble wand proved to be my soundest financial investment of the week (still no sign of my lotto numbers coming up!) As expected the “not so shy” little dude quite enjoyed the company of his peers and while he was always very happy to see me at collection time, he was content enough going to school each morning. A new week, of course will test this once again.

The other kids meanwhile, plodded along through the school week - literally plodded every step of the way, including through homework.  By Tuesday night I thought I would lose what little of my sanity was left, after another afternoon of battling with my kids to just sit down and focus.  In fairness, no one had an excessive amount of homework but no one had an excessive amount of focus either. And so it continued into Wednesday, and I wondered how we were going to manage next week when after-school activities came back onto the scene again.

Thursday was a different affair.  Thursday morning, before daybreak, I set off for the airport to travel to England for a funeral.  My aunt had a passed away after a long illness, still a young woman, and had left a devastated family behind.

Cousins and sisters all met at the airport and chatted ahead of our travels and it was a reunion of sorts when we reached England. As we have all grown older and my grandparents have passed on I have realised that I only see certain family members at occasions like this, or weddings. Life operates at a hundred miles an hour and everyone concedes there’s just not enough time, and yet in our hectic schedules we can all make enough time for an occasion like this. 

The funeral was a heart-breaking affair as we remembered a wonderful woman, who had had such a difficult last few years. I watched my mother, her sisters and her brother broken by the loss of a little sister. I watched them support each other and experience a grief unique only to siblings who grew up together. A time before us, a time of shared lives.

The world keeps turning and life goes on. Thursday was a reminder of the importance of our own unique families, whatever the dynamic. We grow up together, we experience things together and we’re hopefully there for each other to offer support in difficult times. It was also a reminder that life is for living and not just existing, bulldozing through the mundane.  There are things in life that have to be done, but there are things that can wait. Sometimes it’s important to reassess priorities.

As John Lennon said “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”....

Sunday 4 September 2016


After two days in school, Sunday has resumed its old familiar feel and the wash basket is calling to me. Within its confines, a hundred different pieces of uniform are waiting to be laundered, some worn a bare five minutes, but the alternative to putting the “barely seen the light of day” jumpers into the wash basket, is folding and placing the “barely seen the light of day” jumpers into the respective drawers. For anyone with similarly reluctant clothes put away-ers to me, you’ll appreciate how it goes.

A weekend break after such a short school week is not conducive to coaxing child number six back to Montessori tomorrow.  I have already been informed, in no uncertain terms, by my headstrong threenager, that he won’t be going to Montessori again. In spite of leaving on Friday, full of the joys of life and informing me that he had so much fun, he has decided now that its Sunday, that he hates it. Monday morning looks like it will be quite the battlefield.

Child number one, is quite keen to return to school tomorrow.  Having missed her transition year camping trip due to a horrendous dose of tonsillitis, she is fearful of missing any more of her “year off”. She is also afraid that if she spends any more time at home recuperating, I might find some jobs for her to do – especially now that I’ve decided it’s time the older kids pulled their weight a bit!

Child number two has always been reluctant to go to school, so no change there come tomorrow morning, while child number three and four alike, are still in the honeymoon phase of the new school year. Child number five, my self-declared favourite, is thoroughly enjoying the fact that he is now in “seniors” and has plenty of willing participants for superhero games come yard time.

As part of my annual new school year resolutions that never make it past the second week of September, I am trying my best to “be at one” with Sunday. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest- actually I can’t even type that without laughing, so let me rephrase - a day of slightly less stress than a weekday. This week is due to be a particularly crazy one but I have decided not to be fazed by it.  I can rant at the time.  There is no point in starting early.

Approaching my crazy week in a zen-like fashion that is totally unrepresentative of who I am, I have decided that I will not be perturbed by homework. I will find a way to be at the school early each morning with my approximately twenty five children to sign up for afterschool activities which are allocated on a strictly first come first served basis. I will remain calm when Spiderman insists he wants to be the Incredible Hulk, no Ironman, no Batman, no Spiderman again, just as we’re about to leave the house to collect his big brother. I will not lose the plot when I am handed a note at 8:15 a.m on Wednesday for something that needs to be brought in that day, but was never mentioned to me before.

And so full of good intentions, positive vibes and inner peace, I will finish typing and load the washing machine – again - for the fifth time today. Today is Sunday.  It is a day of slightly less stress.

Have a great week!

Monday 29 August 2016

It's nearly that time again....

Two days to go before the old routine returns.  I’m still in a place that fits the Fianna Fail slogan of yesteryear -  “a lot done, more to do”. Half the books are covered, most of the twistables have been painstakingly, individually labelled (for all the difference it will make) and I know where the majority of the uniforms are.  All I need now, is the motivation to finish the job in hand.

I always quite enjoy the first day back at school.  The children aren’t quite as resistant as they will be a week later. There’s a nice buzz around the school yard as parents and kids alike catch up with each other after the long summer break and “new school year” resolutions are made. There’s a definite Pollyanna feel to the whole day.

I will admit that the house will seem quieter when I return from the drop, especially this year as child number six, my resident foghorn, starts Montessori. Child number seven, no doubt will be confused for a while, when there are no brothers or sister to play with. I, in the meantime, will surely find it strange to look out my kitchen window without seeing Captain America, from the corner of my eye , run by without any trousers on, followed in hot pursuit by Spiderman, identifiable only by his calls of “I’ll shoot him with web” as Spiderman, in this house, often prefers to go completely au naturel.

It will be an adjustment for a while and I will definitely miss them.  Not having to resolve a hundred arguments a day will help ease the pain. My neighbours will doubt miss hearing my gentle tones, ones they have become very familiar with over the course of the Summer, as I lovingly called to Spiderman to stop bouncing on the trampoline and come inside immediately to put on some clothes.

All good things must come to an end and so Summer 2016, I bid you adieu. It’s back to early starts, homework, school lunches and after school activities.  What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger, the saying goes. I wonder does that apply to school projects too……

Thursday 18 August 2016

An ode to "Back to School"

The new school year is drawing near,
The teachers start to cry,
While parents empty bank accounts,
For school books they must buy,
And uniforms and bags galore,
Shoes and runners are a must,
And pencils, pens and rulers too,
Parents feel that they'll go bust!
There's books to cover,
A lovely task,
And then they'll need a label,
As do the crayons, and lots of pens,
Which adorn the kitchen table.
The hope in labelling every one,
Is that they won't get lost.
That the kids will take good care of them.
After all the mounting cost.
But hopes are not enough I fear,
When it comes to lunchbox lids,
Which disappear in the first few days,
Lost by those pesky kids.
And pencil cases filled to the brim,
At the beginning of September,
By two weeks in, will be quite bare,
Because the kids, they won't remember,
Where they've left their pens and pencils
Or parers or rulers either,
You'll feel your hard work was all in vain.
You'll need to take a breather.
It's the same old drill each and every year,
With a lesson that makes you pensive,
With all the costs when you add it up,
Free education is expensive!

Sunday 7 August 2016

Housework is not just for mums!

Housework is the bane of my life. In fairness, it’s not the doing of housework that especially bothers me – if anything there’s something quite therapeutic about taking a room apart and putting it back together again, discovering a hairbrush, baby talc and the portable dvd remote control all of which have been missing for the past week, in the process. It’s the less therapeutic effect of returning to the same room two minutes later only to find it has been restored to its former lack of glory as Spiderman scrambles over the now cushion-less couch while Ironman drags the decorative throw along the floor giving Superman and The Hulk a sleigh-ride. Darth Vader meanwhile turns the playroom on its head in search of his lightsaber and a watergun.

This summer, I decided it was time my kids learned to do a few things for themselves. To start with I wasn’t looking for miracles, just basic things like putting their underwear in the wash basket.  The sort of things that are supposed to distinguish us from the rest of the animal kingdom. And after daily reminding of approximately 5 – 226 times we’re finally starting to have success, some of the time.

More recently I decided it was time to encourage some age appropriate chores.  Not only, I figured, would this give me a little bit of help , I felt it might make the older children aware of how much effort goes into running the house and hopefully make them think twice before creating a mess.  My naivety never ceases to amaze me.

Harry Enfield’s Kevin and Perry had nothing on the sort of reaction I was greeted with.  The mere suggestion of making their own beds and tidying their room after some of them had ALREADY placed their own used breakfast bowl in the sink was met with declarations of “that’s not fair” and insistence that the requested child would only tidy their side of the room. Cue stomping upstairs and a literal battleline drawn. Two minutes later the dulcet tones of two lads killing each other echoed down the stairs and I was forced, in a gentle manner, reminiscent of a fishwife, to lovingly call “don’t make me come up there!!!”

Downstairs, meanwhile, the next two up to the “not literal” plate were all ready to resist the task in hand. Emptying the dishwasher and hoovering apparently is tantamount to child abuse, plus the hoover is a very complicated piece of equipment to operate, it seems.  Grumbling every step of the way the two carried out the job asked of them, badly. Their claims that none of their friends would ever have to do anything like this, fell on deaf, but fed up, ears.

As I slowly lost my mind following battles which ended with half hearted, half completed jobs I realised I have a long way to go.  I am however, determined to persist and teach my children a bit about responsibility. All I need now is to summon up the strength to be consistent. As Gloria Gaynor so eloquently put it “At first I was afraid, I was petrified” but “I will survive”!

Tuesday 26 July 2016

You know you're a parent of a larger family when...

1.        Every day is laundry day, several times a day at that, and what the bottom of your washing basket actually looks like is a distant memory. Furthermore there is a real and very likely possibility that whatever clothes are actually stuck at bottom of this basket have been outgrown by the child they belong to and in all probability the one that comes after him/her too.

And it’s not just dirty clothes that you’re drowning in. As the washing machine works overtime, the mountain of clean, fresh smelling clothes builds up in your, wherever you store them, until you get a chance to put them away.  Building, building, building waiting for your toddler to sneak past you in his mucky wellies and recreate that scene from Peppa Pig “jumping up and down in muddy puddles (of clean clothes)” minus the part where Mammy Pig rolls on the ground laughing .

2.       You count how many children you have with you when you leave the house and as you enter and leave all shops, parks and elevators. You in all likelihood quickly check you have predominantly the right gender and do a quick scan on hair colour

3.       You feel completely justified in not remembering all of their names and believe your children should know who you mean when you call “you” “whatyamacallit” or “whateveryournameis”.

4.       People count as you go by and frequently ask “are they all yours? What do you drive? Have you not got a television? Are you done?” and slightly less frequently (but have asked all the same )“are you Miriam O’Callaghan?” and declare “you must be Catholic”.

5.       You have to motivate yourself to load them all into the car because that task and locating the necessary, shoes, coats and underpants takes longer than the reason you’re actually leaving the house.

6.       You have to label the toothbrushes because toothbrushes only come in so many different colours and duplication is necessary.  This is especially important if you need to identify which toothbrush the three year old used to fish the breakfast waffle out of the toilet.

7.       You watch reruns of the Waltons and find yourself looking for tips on how to make mealtimes run more smoothly.

8.       You find that’s not the only thing that you’ve taken from the Waltons and as you kiss them all goodnight you add in “Goodnight Mary Ellen. Goodnight John Boy” just for good measure.

9.       No-one is quite sure how many children you actually do have – just that you’ve “a load”

10.   In spite of the noise, mess, relentless workload and constant battle with certain family members to wear underpants, when you see them all together in a rare tranquil moment - you just can’t believe your good luck. 

Thursday 21 July 2016

8 thoughts every parent has, three weeks into the Summer holidays

8 thoughts (some of which I may have voiced) every parent has three weeks into the summer holidays

1.       The sun is out hurray.  The school holidays haven’t been so bad this year. Oh I love the sun.  It’s so much easier to do things with the kids when it’s glorious like this.  I could get used to this weather.

2.       I’m such a good mother- the kids haven’t spent hours on the ipad or Wii.  They’ve been outdoors enjoying themselves. Well done me.  Technology is not rearing my child.  Wow, I can’t believe the fun they’re having with this paddling pool.  Best 15 euro I’ve ever spent.

3.       Oh for feck sake. Can no one dry their feet before they come inside?  The kitchen floor is covered in water and grass. Right, I’m getting everyone showered now.  I think they’ve had enough of it anyway.  Time to put the paddling pool away for the day. Oh you don’t want to come in? Ok so. Suppose we should take advantage of the sunshine. I love this weather

4.       I’ll keep an eye and make sure they don’t go inside again until they’ve dried their feet. Someone could slip on the kitchen floor.  The dog looks very hot. Hang on - one, two , three… six . Damn! Someone has gone inside …. Who owns these swimming jocks in the middle of the kitchen?!!!

5.       I wonder have they had enough fun yet?  Need to get them showered and get the dinner on. Oh for God’s sake has he no trunks on again? Get off the trampoline and put some underpants on now!!!

6.       Right that’s it.  Time to go in.  Last two minutes - I mean it now.  I’m counting to 120 in my head.  Where’s that water coming from? How did you turn that tap on?  Put down the hose! Aahhhhh my washing!!

7.       Ok, in now! This second! – shower time.  No you can’t go back in after your shower, not today. You can the next day. Because I said so. No, no, no. You can play on your ipad.  Well what about the Wii then? WHY IS THE KITCHEN FLOOR SOPPING AGAIN???!!!!!!!

8.       Oh my God, how can we be less than three weeks into the holidays?  How am I going to get through it? I’m putting a scissors through that bloody paddling pool.

                                                                                                      ………or is this just me?

Monday 11 July 2016

Car journeys ain't what they used to be.

Last week we set off on our family holiday to West Cork.  Packing took an eternity as I tried to locate 56 pairs of socks, jocks and pants, not to mention ordinary items of clothing, for the kids alone.  My own personal packing was done in about 5 minutes flat as the laden down car practically reversed out the driveway without me. With every available space in our red bus filled, and a bum on every seat, we set off on our marathon journey.

Car trips have taken on a new meaning since the children’s arrival.  Gone are the days of leisurely drives.  Nowadays it’s all about bribery and distraction and trying to make sure child number six doesn’t swipe child number seven’s soother en route!

We had set off in the evening time, after rush hour traffic and after the children had been fed their dinner.  The hope was that the younger children might doze on the way and we could carefully lift them into their beds when we arrived, where they would sleep peacefully for the entire night and wake up wholly refreshed the next morning, full of the joys of life.  That’s one of the fascinating wonders of parenthood.  Even though you know there isn’t a hope in hell of something happening you still dare to dream it might.

And so the early part of the journey began with my husband and I nodding in agreement that they were definitely getting tired and they’d most certainly drift off any moment now. And as the miles passed we knew they were definitely just about to go to sleep.  And after we stopped to let some of them go for a wee, we knew that that was obviously all that was keeping them awake and their now empty bladders would mean they’d be fast asleep before we knew it. The conversations directed at us from the back of the car however, suggested sleep wasn’t on their minds just yet.

“Do you know that beavers’ teeth keep growing?” the five year old informed me “and we better get there before midnight because that’s when the mud monsters come out”. “This city is upside down” the three year old exclaimed, in spite of the fact that there wasn’t a house to be seen, never mind a city! “I’ll really miss you when you die mum” the five year old continued, “I think you’ll probably be 109” “I think Ireland might be a planet sometimes” he added. This comment was enough to bring the seven and ten year olds in on the conversation. “Ireland is not a planet” they roared in unison. Undeterred by his brothers, the five year old continued “yes I think it is a planet, but I don’t think foxes are real”. The seven year old wasn’t entertaining this notion at all “of course they’re real” he said “I’ve seen one” “Yes, but he was probably trying to sneak up on you like a mud monster” the five year old replied. “I love Spiderman” said the three year old. “I’m going to be a daddy when I grow up” said the five year old, “not a mummy, because I have a willy, like Spiderman”. “I love Spiderman", said the three year old once again.

I attempted a little gentle persuasion to encourage the younger children in particular to go asleep and said that their daddy and I would carry them into bed once we arrived. “But we’re not tired” the five year old protested “we just have itchy eyelashes.”

Finally, at 11:30, we arrived, and all seven children were awake. As we left the cramped confines of the car, we realised, not for the first time in our lives, that we were very sadly deluded.  The kids had no intention whatsoever of going to sleep anytime soon.  They ran excitedly into the house we had rented, running up the stairs in heated debate over the sleeping arrangements.  It was a long car journey, but an even longer night......

Sunday 3 July 2016

War song of the holidays

It's summer break and school is out
There's parents on the brink 
Of panic at the thoughts of it
It's driving them to drink 
The children have a different view
Of the weeks that stretch ahead
With no early starts or busy days
Do they need to go to bed
At 9 o'clock or even ten
Sure the sun is in the sky
And if you try to coax them in
You know that they will cry
And cry and moan a little more
Protest that it's not fair
Cos Johnny, Sam and Sarah too
Are playing over there
And on the days the sun's not out
The rain has come instead
The little darlings everywhere
Are bouncing on the bed
They'll tell you that they're really bored
They don't know what to do
In spite of having many toys
That fill a room or two
The squabbling starts, "he hit me first"
Your nerves are all a flutter
You count the days up in your head
And "pleasantries" you mutter
But though you think you'll lose your mind
There's something to remember
When school is out, there's one great thing
No homework til September! 

Sunday 26 June 2016

School's out for Summer

And so we have reached the last week of school.  I say it every year but that was an unbelievably fast year. My Junior Infant has almost completed his first year in school and taken to it like the proverbial duck.  My eldest son is about to go into sixth class and my daughter has finally finished her Junior Cert. It all seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye, except for mid-year project on the Great Famine – that took an interminably long time.

The graduation for the sixth class children is due to take place this week and my friend’s son is one of the boys who will be leaving and getting ready to start a new chapter in his education. She is feeling particularly emotional about it and she doesn’t even suffer from hyper-sentimentality like me! It’s a huge milestone for any child or parent. I expect there will be lots of tears on Tuesday, mostly from the parents I imagine, and some pretty embarrassed pre-teen boys. It will be my son next year. I’m not in any hurry for it to come around.

So now with bleary eyed sentimental reflective rose tinted glasses I am looking forward to the summer holidays.  No homework induced battles for nine weeks. No smelly, temporarily undiscovered, lunch leftovers to be scraped off the bottom of schoolbags. No sudden disclosures of urgently required paraphernalia mentioned two minutes before we leave for school. It all sounds like bliss

Roll on Thursday when they finally finish up and our time, for a while, is our own.  Watch this space for complaints, from Friday, about how on earth I’m supposed to fill that time and ramblings and rantings about long until they go back!

Sunday 19 June 2016

Father's Day

A father is a hero,
in his child’s adoring eyes,
He keeps the family safe from harm,
from villains and bad guys.

A father can do anything,
he’s the best at every game,
And stronger than every other dad,
he’d put them all to shame.

A father can fix anything,
from sadness to a broken toy
With a hug, a kiss or sticky tape,
for his little girl or boy.

And even when we’re grown up too,
some things will never change.
A father remains a hero,
for his kids of the adult range.

Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere! Thinking also of those especially missing their dads today. Jen, x

Tuesday 14 June 2016

One final battle

Mid-June already and we’re trundling towards the end of the school year but not before the one last torture that is Summer Tests.  This house is still under the dark cloud of the Junior Cert and now the end of year exams for my older primary schoolers have been thrown into the mix. Stress levels are rising. The already manic afternoons now have an extra demand on them and frantic scouring of revision sheets is commonplace once homework is completed. The weekends haven’t escaped either as mountain, rivers and counties of the Emerald Isle are listed off and alternate discussions about the Bronze Age and the Great Famine take place in the kitchen depending on which child happens to have wandered in at the time.

But let me clarify. It is not my troops who are initiating these discussions, nor they who are feeling the stress.  It is not they who are scouring the revision sheets to check what needs to be known for their impending tests and it certainly isn’t they who feel the need to know the where the Galtee mountains are or which river flows through Cork. Horizontal, is not a strong enough word to describe my “Summer tests takers” and “laid back” doesn’t do them justice either. They’re much more focused on playing outside with their waterguns, flickers and lightsabers.  They see the reduction in written homework as an opportunity to escape to their own planets all the quicker.  I am reassured by them on a daily basis that it will “all be grand”, after all, it’s things that they have done through the year. I use the word “reassured” loosely. They talk the talk but they certainly don’t recollect the details!

Getting the motivational balance right is proving more difficult every year. I don’t want them to be overly worried about their tests but I would like them to have some interest and try their best. Any attempt to keep them at the dining room table just ten or fifteen minutes longer to revise for the next day is met with huge resistance. Every day I am told the tests were “fine”. I think this might be my lads’ favourite word – non-committal, covers a multitude and pacifies mam, the kids think anyway.

Roll on the summer holidays. Free from homework, free from making lunches, free from school runs and most importantly, temporarily free from the reminder that I still can’t pinpoint the counties, mountain and rivers of Ireland!

Thursday 9 June 2016

Time flies when you're having fun!

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, I became a mother for the first time when my beautiful baby girl came into the world, informing it of her arrival with lungs that Shirley Bassey would have been proud of. She turned my life as I knew it, on its head and if I’m honest, in the weeks that followed, made me wonder what on earth I’d done.  In spite of the shock to the system that was first time motherhood, I fell completely and utterly head over heels in love with this gorgeous bundle of pink and my parenting journey began. Twelve years later to the day, my sixth child, her little brother and Godson was born.

At the time, his arrival made my daughter seem very grown up by comparison, as she approached the end of her primary school time. He seemed so dependent in every regard while she was about to start an exciting new chapter in her education, one she couldn’t wait for. She strived for independence and he couldn’t live without me. The different needs were stark and challenging

The first child gets to be the guinea pig in so many regards. I was she myself, so I can appreciate the frustrations but now I’m viewing it from a different perspective. This week as my daughter takes on her Junior Cert I’m like most mums I imagine, and I worry that she’ll get enough rest, not stress too much and hope the paper goes well. I’m trying in the little ways that I can, to make home life a little bit easier for her so she can do what she needs to do. What I really want to do however, is actually go in and take the exams for her.

As I type, my nine month old son is bouncing to the tune of “In the Night Garden” and my “one day away from 15” year old daughter is taking Irish Paper 2. How she gets on will be totally down to her. I can’t influence or affect the outcome of the exams, save maybe for helping her to be in the best frame of mind possible and discouraging the pointless post mortems after each paper. In contrast, I can pick up my bouncing nine month old and feed, change and do everything he needs done for him.

As I walked back from the school today many parents stopped to admire my littlest dude. They said they couldn’t believe how he big he is now and everyone agreed time goes so fast. It certainly does. As if birthdays aren’t enough of a reminder, state exams certainly hammer that home!

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Dinner dramas

We try to eat dinner here as a family, as much as possible. The idea behind this is that we can all sit down together and have a chat about our day, and the added bonus is that I’m not standing over the cooker all evening as I would be, if meals were staggered. The disadvantage is, that in spite of adequate snacks, my kids are fading by 4:30, declaring their starvation and in whiny monotone drawn out voices ask me constantly “how much loooonnnngggger to dinnnnerrrr”. The constant questions start to grate after a while and I find myself watching the clock until my husband walks in the door when I thoughtfully suggest that they go and annoy their father instead while I dish up dinner.

I usually call the older kids to set the table and my reluctant helpers argue over who is to bring in the knives and who is to bring in the forks.  It appears in my children’s minds that this should be a two person job.  All the while, we try to keep the table setting operation a secret from my only enthusiastic helper, my “not yet three” year old. Any help from that terror, involves a massive clean up and a larger than usual dinner for the dog! Once dinner is served, at least two drinks have been knocked over and a row has taken place over who is drinking from which colour cup, we get down to the nitty gritty of eating and chatting.

The randomness of my children’s thoughts, feelings and resulting conversations never fails to amaze me. Yesterday at dinner the “not yet three” year old announced that he thought he had a chicken in his willy – and it was really making him need a wee. The five year old attempted to establish and confirm the fact that if his father and I died, his sister would be his new mammy and she’d probably need to marry her twelve year old brother because they’d need a dad too. The ten year old announced that he and his friends had set up a new band called “chicken in sticks” in which he is the lead singer. One friend played the tambourine, another the violin.  Obviously they needed security too, ahead of their destined fame , so, two nine year olds had been recruited as "heavies". The fifteen year old still gagging from the suggestion that she would marry her twelve year old brother nearly choked with laughter on hearing of her ten year old brother’s new musical direction. Too cool to be scoffed at, he continued to describe their musical genre – “ we do a bit of rock , a bit of rap, bit of oprah (no that’s not a spelling error, he was talking the Winfrey, while obviously referencing the classical). Apparently, we were informed, if they get really good, they might be allowed to perform at assembly.

In the meantime the “not yet three” year old returned from the bathroom and confirmed he was actually poulty free, but he thinks he might have missed the toilet bowl a bit. Dinner can be a very informative experience here…..#familydinner #mamatude

Monday 23 May 2016

Sports Day's a comin'!

This week sees the annual occurrence that is sports day at my boys’ school. I had a vague recollection of it’s mention in the school newsletter a few weeks ago but watching my older lads running laps of the back garden while passing the dog’s toy to each other this weekend, in preparation for the relay and discovering my seven year old going through my husband’s tie drawer for a “nice colour” tie confirmed my suspicions that it was drawing ever closer. The countdown has begun and everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will stay fine.  Experienced parents have booked their time off work and one first time Junior Infant parent asked me earlier “is it that big a deal?” My reply was “Oh yes – sports day is a huge deal”

Love it or loathe is, and I’m really not sure what camp I’m in, sports day is a huge deal for the kids and for several of the parents too. Yes it’s great to see our children having fun with their friends and, if your child is any way sporty, maybe even win a medal or two. The “it’s all about taking part” line, however, does not wash with all of the children, particularly those past Senior Infants for whom a medal is no longer guaranteed, just for taking part.  In this house, with children of extremely mixed sporting ability I know there will be tears and sadness on the day for some of them, when best efforts will still leave zero chance of coming anywhere.  I know it could be viewed as a life lesson but, as an adult, I’m not likely to put myself in a competitive environment for something I know I am absolutely brutal at, and I can handle disappointment slightly better than a child.

And speaking of competitive environments, the highlight of the day for many there will be the parent’s race! You will see some, kitted out in their top notch sports gear and expensive running shoes, laughing off suggestions that it’s anything but a “bit of craic” but discreetly warming up on the sidelines as they cheer on their sons in their races.  Toned and tanned limbs give away any misconception that these parents are anything other than seasoned runners, and they mean business. Elsewhere, the more reluctant sportsmen and sportwomen among us will panically try to think of excuses not to take part. I already, am lamenting an absent pregnancy bump for different reasons to usual. It has crossed my mind to just stick a cushion up my dress, after all I’m always pregnant and I think most of the parents from the school have lost count at this stage.  Would anyone even be suspicious?

Failing that I’ll just have to hope the organisers turn the tables on those magnificent sporty parents and that the parent’s race involves an egg and spoon! #sportsdayworries #mamatude

Friday 20 May 2016

Invasion of the party boys

By the time you’re reading this I will be drowning in a sea of 9 and 10 year old boys as the first birthday party of the weekend takes place.  The banners have been purchased and blu-tacked to the wall.  The party bags are filled and waiting for distribution and there are enough chicken nuggets and pizza in the freezer to feed an army. The only thing still proving quite a challenge are the age 10 balloons which are still sitting on the mantelpiece, refusing to expand no matter how hard I blow into them and may quite possibly result in me having several burst blood vessels in my eyes if I persist.

No amount of gentle persuasion or, out and out bribery, could convince my two birthday boys to share a party so the house will most likely, over two days instead of one, resonate noise levels not heard in these parts…. since last year anyway. My own personal saving grace is that tomorrow’s party also entails a trip to see Captain America, Civil War. As my baby still requires frequent access to my bosoms, I can bow out of this part completely guilt free.  Never have I felt so glad to be restricted!  

I can dawdle and ponder my good fortune no longer, as the first lot of party attendees arrive shortly and the balloons still need to be wrestled with. Time to batten down the hatches and get ready for a boy invasion! #maytheforcebewithme #ihatethesebloodyballoons #mamatude

Sunday 15 May 2016

The Silly Season

Next week marks the beginning of the silly season in this house and by silly season I mean birthday season part one.  Through careful bad planning, four of my children have their birthdays inside a three and a half week period including two on the same day! Birthdays are big business here.  The kids are already so excited and a countdown of days began a few weeks ago. A tradition we started many moons ago of giving a small token present to the people “whose birthday it’s not” means everyone looks forward to their sibling’s big day for that reason too. It can be more hassle sometimes trying to think of and find all the token presents necessary for my not unsubstantial brood, than it is actually sorting the birthday boy or girl’s gifts, but we get there in the end.  I never work on the children’s birthdays and my husband always takes a half day - he used to take the full day but the increase in numbers puts a real pressure on his leave! Birthday dinner will be the birthday child’s choosing and for the school going birthday children there is never homework. Everyone loves birthdays, well everyone except me a little bit.

I am possibly the world’s most sentimental person or at the very least on the shortlist for the title.  I lament every passing phase of the children’s lives. Much as I crave sleep and the ability to visit the bathroom or take a shower without an audience and much as I would love to be able to finish a conversation with another adult without being needed to solve someone’s immediate “crisis”, I don’t really want my kids to grow up.

I love to see their happy faces on the morning of their birthdays and to hear, when they get back from school, how the principal mentioned their names on the intercom and their classmates sang “happy birthday”.  I love to see how excited my kids are for each other and I love also the effort they make for each other on birthdays by drawing a picture, making a card, or even buying a chocolate bar for their sibling because it’s their special day. I love how special the birthday boy or girl feels.

In the midst of all of this my mind is cast back to that particular day however many years ago. I, of course, blank out the gory and painful bits and rewrite history in my head when they pop in.  I clockwatch a lot of the day and remind my other half of exactly what was happening at this stage. He doesn’t need a reminder, not only was he there, he gets a rerun of events every single year. Depending on the child he hears how I was watching “only fools and horses”, I thought I needed a wee but couldn’t go, we had to stop for change at a garage while I was in labour so that we could pay for parking at the hospital, I was wearing my purple shirt (echoes of Fr Dougal Maguire here) or I went to watch the junior infant nativity before I would agree to go to the hospital.  Whatever the child, like most people, I have a story leading up to their birth.

I remember seeing each of my perfect little babies for the first time as clearly as if it was yesterday and I find it hard to believe that so many years have gone by since they came into the world.

The first birthday up involves my third child reaching double figures! I was wearing my purple shirt going in to have him :-D. He is beyond excited as Wednesday approaches and chicken tikka masala is on the menu for dinner (courtesy of his nana to be honest).  The tidal wave of anticipation will sweep us all up as the big day draws nearer but I will remain somewhat nostalgic as my baby boy grows up way too quickly for my liking. I know it’s my job to help and guide him as he grows and to try to keep him safe and I know I am incredibly lucky to so far have had the privilege. Over-sentimentality can be a curse. The rational side of me will just have to try to focus on the yummy dinner that’s coming….