The 12 Days of Christmas a Mom Really Wants

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The Christmas season is fully upon us, which means I’m streaming my Pandora Christmas stations during all waking hours. My Christmas music streaming is done much to the joy of my husband and children, who especially love that I treat the Christmas music station as my own personal sing-along karaoke.

One of the more amusing Christmas songs that always pops up on my playlist is “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Everyone knows the song: “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.” As the song progresses we learn about all of the glorious gifts bestowed upon the recipient: Two turtle doves, three french hens, four calling birds, five golden rings, six geese a-laying, seven swans a swimming (So many birds!!)…and all the way up to twelve drummers drumming.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if my true love gave me a boatload of birds to take care of for Christmas, I’d chalk that right up there with receiving a toilet scrub brush and some rubber gloves. No thank you, sir. No, if my true love gave to me what I really wanted, it would look something like this:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me one whole day off to do whatever I wanted.
I don’t even know where I would start, but it would for sure involve a lot of not-cleaning and not-responding to the needs/wants/whims of , well, anyone not named Me. We could just stop right here with this one and be set for life, but this is the 12 days of Christmas, so we’ll keep going.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two solid days of your time checking off items from your “Honey Do” list (that I so kindly wrote out for you).
Let’s turn that “Honey Do” list into a “Honey Done” list. I know that a lot of the things on that list don’t bother you because you’re away in an office for 10 hours a day…but my office happens to be our house, and they drive me bonkers! That little patch of the wall that still needs to be painted, the rattling pipe, the drawers that still need pulls (that we already bought) installed. Please and thank you.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three (proper) massages.
No funny business, just a good ‘ol back rub. And if you’re not up to the task, you’re welcome to send me off to the spa.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four weekends per month to sleep in.
Sleep is the one thing I dream about when I am awake. You, my friend, could make my wildest dreams come true.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five opportunities to work out every week.
How amazing would it be to just go to the gym or hit the pavement any time I wanted? No need to shlep along unruly children or push a whiny toddler in the stroller. I would actually have a legitimate purpose for wearing yoga pants and running shoes every day. Yes, this would be bliss.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six hours of time washing and detailing my minivan.
I’m not sure that 6 hours would be enough time to remove the slop and grime and pulverized goldfish crackers from my kid-mobile, but you have to start somewhere. I would absolutely love to sit down in that car some day and be reminded of the carpet’s natural color and look through windows that are not smeared with sticky handprints.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven days off of bedtime duty every week.
Bedtime is perhaps my least favorite part of any given day. The cajoling, the whining, the arguing, the pushing of buttons when my buttons are already worn out from the day. How amazing would it be to just give my kids a hug and a kiss goodnight, then sit down with a book and a cup of tea while the nighttime chaos unfolded out of earshot? SUPER-amazing, that’s how amazing it would be.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight hours of quality time with our family doing whatever I plan for us.
My true love does not (under normal circumstances) enjoy “adventuring” as I call it. Neither do two out of my three children. They’re much happier staying home working on a project or playing video games with their friends. I, on the other hand, am like a caged bird that needs to spread her wings.

For one solid day I’d like to take the whole family and go to all the places, do all the things, eat at all the restaurants, and enjoy all the time together. Everyone would be happy and well-rested and cooperative and excited to see all of the wonderful things I had planned for us. They would marvel at the beautiful places in nature we would visit and they would appreciate the new culinary journeys I would take them on. At the end of the day they would thank me for opening their eyes to new experiences.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine months of carpooling service for our children.
I spend approximately 27 hours a day driving my children to and fro. If someone could just help me drive kids to school and sports and clubs and playdates I would have enough time to do, well, everything. And I’m not even asking for a whole year of driving services. Nine months, from September-May, should do just fine for now. I’m so magnanimous.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten loads of laundry completed by someone other than myself.
In a family with three young children I do laundry every. Single. Day. Of all my domestic chores, laundry is the most consistent time-suck. I would love to have help every now and then with completing full loads of laundry. And by completing, I mean sorting, washing, drying, ironing/folding, and putting away everything. Not just one step in the process as is occasionally offered, but the whole shebang.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven fresh, healthy dinners prepped, served, and cleaned up for our family.
Even though I’ve been an “adult” for quite some time now, the fact that I have to make dinner every day is still surprising to me. Growing up I rarely gave dinner a thought because it always just appeared on our dinner table at 6PM. Now that I’m in charge of the whole dinner rigamarole, however, dinner carries quite a different connotation in my mind. Dinner requires planning, time to prep, time to cook, time to clean, and will power to not lose your cool when nobody eats the meal that you’ve spent all day obsessing over. For a few days I’d love to just revert to my childhood and show up to dinner on the table at 6PM–is that too much to ask?

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve months of a housecleaning service.
Can I get an amen?! Admittedly, I am a terrible housekeeper. I love clean, but I despise cleaning. I mean, I’ll do the basic bed-making and vacuuming and putting things away, but I need someone to get into all the nooks and crannies. Someone to come in and mop up the dust bunnies and scrub the baseboards, and rub the fingerprints off our front windows. Someone to make my home presentable, even if it’s just for the 2 hours between elementary school drop-off and preschool pick-up.

So, there’s my twelve days of Christmas list. No partridge in a pear tree or calling birds (They’d just mess up my house and add more noise to the usual cacophony, anyway)–although I really wouldn’t mind the five golden rings.

Now it’s your turn–what’s on your twelve days of Christmas wish list?

How To Kill An Axe Murderer


So the other night we had a harrowing situation: My brave husband and I rescued ourselves from a would-be axe murderer.

At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

At about 10:30 we turned off Netflix (Because we’re grown-ups with kids, and Netflix is what happens after bedtime for grown-ups with kids.) and we went upstairs to get ready for bed. We were about to turn off the lights when all of a sudden our fierce guard dog (ok, fine, she’s a geriatric Border Collie who happens to be missing half her hip and half her teeth) came running into our bedroom. She cowered behind our bed with her ears pressed flat against her head and her tail between her legs: something had scared the living daylights out of our poor pup.

And then we heard it. From downstairs we heard a dim knocking sound, like a small object falling. And then silence. And that was all the assurance we needed to know that an axe murderer had surely broken into our house.

I snatched up my cell phone and retreated under the covers–I mean, the burglars or whoever they were would probably find me anywhere I went, so I might as well browse social media from the comfort of my own bed while I waited for my demise. Also, I could  call 911 from my phone if need be. That would probably be more important. Plus, I don’t have the best track record with defending myself from suspected burglars–the last time I thought I heard a strange sound I grabbed the best defense weapon I could find: a can of maximum strength hair spray.

Jon, however, sprang right into action. He grabbed a small arsenal of knives from a secret drawer in his bedside table and I realized that 1) We have secret drawers in our bedside tables, and 2) My husband had been waiting in anxious anticipation for this exact moment, and he was prepared for what would come next.

From the safety of my blanket cave I could hear Jon ninja-creep down the stairs as he methodically cleared each room and closet in the lower portion of our house. While he searched the house I couldn’t help feeling proud of this brave man who would sacrifice himself for his family that was nestled safely out of harm’s reach while he fearlessly rushed into the fire of the unknown.

After scrolling through about 3 days of Instagram posts, my gallant husband returned. He didn’t have any bad guys with him, but he was now wielding a giant steel framing hammer. If you don’t know what it looks like to see your husband creep into your dark bedroom brandishing a framing hammer, imagine Thor going into battle and you get the picture.

Upon investigating every square inch of our house, Jon did notice that our basement door had been unlocked. Maybe someone could have snuck into our house…but if they did, they were either invisible or camouflaged because they definitely could not be found. Plus, Jon is our family’s reigning hide-and-seek champion, so if anyone could have found a bad guy it would have been him.

Shortly after Jon returned to our bedroom, however, we heard it again: that dim knocking sound like an object falling. Jon rushed back downstairs directly to the source of the sound.

And this time? He found it! The culprit of the sound. And it was just as sinister as we had imagined. The sound was coming from…


Yes. Our ice maker.

You see, I didn’t actually know that we had an ice maker. I hadn’t ever made ice in our “new” fridge (granted, we’ve lived here for nearly a year now…) and there’s not a water spout in the fridge so I just assumed there wasn’t an ice maker either. Jon Who Notices Everything thought this seemed fishy (Wait–you haven’t made a single ice cube in A YEAR???) so earlier that evening he spent about 2 seconds looking at our freezer and found the switch to turn on the automatic ice maker.

Presto change-o! Our freezer now makes ice!

And the dim knocking sound that sent us on an hour-long midnight rampage was just the sound of our newly-formed ice falling into the collection tray.

So, now you know. If you ever suspect that an axe murder might break into your house, maybe start sleeping with knives and framing hammers by your bed. Or just check your ice maker for suspicious activity. Either way, sweet dreams!

First Baby vs. Third Baby

I’ve been in this mommy gig for almost 6 years now (but don’t even get me STARTED on how my BABY is about to turn 6. SIX! No. Nuh-uh. Nope. I refuse to acknowledge that these babies of mine will soon outgrow me in wit and height, and I will cry IF I WANT TO.). A lot has changed in those six years–the age and size of my child(ren), the availability of new and improved baby paraphernalia, the fact that my doctor now advises feeding peanut butter to babies. We’ve gone from a family with just one baby, to a family with three children aged 5 and younger. The most notable change over the years, however, would have to be with myself.

I don’t know if I’ve become more wise over the years or if I’ve just given up, but the fact is, I do things differently now. Like, really differently. From my first baby six years ago to our third baby right now, my parenting style has…ahem…shifted. You can see this shift in basically every aspect of my parenting (or lack thereof). For example:

Healthy Eating
First baby:
I literally baked his first-birthday cake from the dirt of the earth. It was made from  stone-ground whole wheat flour, home-made applesauce (cooked from the apples I picked myself. Off an actual tree.), and organic angel kisses. Nothing but the most pure, natural ingredients for my little sunshine.

Third Baby:
I’m pretty sure she just ate an Oreo that had been wedged under the couch since before her conception. She is 7 months old.

Sleep Training:
First baby:
I read Happiest Baby On The Block cover to cover and I implemented the 5 S’s of “calming the fussies” like a BOSS. Happiest baby on the block? Check!

Third baby:
What? There’s a baby crying? Ah, no baby ever died from crying…right???

And while we’re on the topic of sleeping…

First Baby:
All naps must be done in a crib, with baby sleeping flat on his back. Play soothing white noise in the background and minimize distractions. And, of course, while baby is sleeping I should work on getting some shut eye as well–after all, good mommies sleep when the baby sleeps!

Third Baby:
I forget that there even is a crib at home, because we’re never at home. Between preschool drop-off, kindergarten drop-off, grocery shopping, errands, exercise, preschool pick-up, and kindergarten pick-up there is exactly zero chance of this baby taking a nap in a crib. Carseats, strollers, baby carriers, a blanket on the grass, and my weary arms make excellent napping spots. Mommy hasn’t slept in 6 years, so we’re just gonna roll with it.

Mom’s fashion:
First baby:
Oh my goodness! My pre-pregnancy size-tiny jeans are snug! Oh, the despair and the agony! At least my perfectly styled hair with fresh highlights still looks cute!

Third bay:
I don’t even know what size I am any more because I refuse to look at those blasted numbers printed on the tags inside my pants. If they fit and I’m comfortable, that’s all that matters. I’ve named my muffin top “Frank”, and I’ve decided to make peace with him so we can be friends. I dress Frank in yoga pants and flowy tops most mornings, and we can all move on with our lives in harmony. And this is nothing to say of my shoes that have also grown with each baby that I’ve pushed out of my body.

My hair is worn in one of two fashionable styles: Top Knot or Low Knot, well out of the way of grabby baby fingers. My hair is tinged with gorgeous gray strands that I earned while chasing my boys across busy parking lots and rescuing them from precarious perches.

Public Breastfeeding
First Baby:
Hold on! Let me grab one of my four nursing covers and slip away to a private room where I can nurse in privacy and modesty.

Third Baby:
I’m already late for kindergarten pick-up, so I just whip it out in the Target parking lot. Privacy has been a myth since my toddler learned how to open the bathroom door, and I’ve already lost my modesty in a birthing suite three times. So, ya know, whatever, Bro.

First Baby:
Every-other-day bathing is ideal so you can practice proper hygiene without drying out baby’s skin. Between baths, make sure to dab at exposed skin with a warm, damp towel infused with essential oils and good chakra.

Third baby:
We went swimming in a public pool over the weekend. That should count for at least a week, right?

Receiving Unsolicited Advice
First baby:
Wow! What powerful insight. You’ve done this before, so you probably know what’s best. After all, what do I know–I’m just a new mom. Maybe I should just implement each piece of conflicting advice I get from a complete stranger who doesn’t know me, my situation, or my baby.

Third baby:
(Smiles and nods her head while rage boils from the deepest core of her being and smoke bellows out her ears)

Bodily functions
First baby:
Baby spits up on you and immediate panic sets in. You change your entire outfit, and that of the baby before setting about disinfecting all exposed areas.

Third baby:
Baby spits up on you and you wipe it off your shoulder with the end of your ponytail. The dog laps up any spillage that made its way to the floor. Eh, good enough.

Time Management
First baby:
WAH!!! I don’t have time for ANYTHING any more! Having a baby is hard work! How am I supposed to get ANYTHING done with a BABY?!?!

Third baby:
I only have the baby today?! Halelujah, sweet Jesus! I have a whole hour to get stuff done…hmmm…what should we do? I know! Let’s go get our nails done, do our monthly Costco shopping trip, get an oil change, and run a half-marathon. Piece of cake! (Oooh! Maybe we should get some cake, too…)

Date Night:
First baby:
Date night is important. We’ll call on our army of local family and same-life-stage friends to help babysit so we can get out at least once a week for some alone time to recharge and reconnect.

Third baby:
Nobody wants to babysit two crazy boys and a baby. Not even if you pay them. We are in the “Netflix and a bottle of wine on the couch after bedtime, but try not to fall asleep before the end of the movie” stage of life. And I’m okay with that, because I can’t stay awake past 9 PM anyway.

Dressing The Baby
First baby (a boy):
Pajamas every day. That should do it.

Third baby (a girl):
I spend tens of minutes that I don’t have each morning styling the fluffliest, furliest, adorable-est frock and bow combination for this sweet flower baby. Tutu? Check. Tights that look like ballet slippers? Check. Sparkly tiara? Check. Now, let’s create an excuse for an outing so we can parade the baby in public.

A Mother’s Love
First baby:
I love you more than the breath of life itself. I would not even hesitate to lay in front of a barreling train for you. In fact, I’ll even watch 3 episodes of Caillou in a row with you just to see you smile. Sacrifice, baby. I’d give it all for you.

Third baby:
I love you more than the breath of life itself. I would not even hesitate to lay in front of a barreling train for you. In fact, I’ll even watch 3 episodes of Caillou in a row with you just to see you smile. Sacrifice, baby. I’d give it all for you.

Some things change (okay, MOST things change), but the important ones will always remain the same. To each of my babies: I cherish you, I’m for you, I love you. And that, my friends is one thing that will never ever ever change.

The 10 Stages of a Family Road Trip

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Each summer our family completes a pilgrimage to our homeland. Like our great forefathers Mary and Joseph, we cast away the comforts of home and journey forth to the place of our birth. It’s a daring adventure that covers thousands of miles and that brings us closer together as a family (Literally. We’re stuck in a car within poking distance of each other for days on end. We’re very, very CLOSE.)

Seeing as we are currently smack dab in the middle of The Great Homeland Pilgrimage of 2016, I have noticed a pattern of stages that occur during the course of a family road trip. It goes a bit like this:

Stage 1: Anticipation
Hooray! We get to go on a road trip!  I can’t WAIT to see the country and make precious memories with my family! This will be sooooo much fun!

Stage 2: Preparation
You neatly pack and organize all of the essential items. You package your childrens’ color-coordinated outfits into Ziploc baggies for ease-of-dressing on the go. You pack a NoseFrida and baby Tylenol (and a little Melatonin), just in case.

You hone your “I Spy” skills and research the latest fads in travel games. You create customized road trip bingo boards with interesting sites and trivia for the places you’ll be driving through (you laminate them for good measure, because they’re going to get SO MUCH USE!!!).

You stock up on healthy snacks and go to the dollar store so you can buy little trinkets to surprise the children with while you’re on the road.

You map out the stops along the way that include really cool parks and indoor play places for “wiggle breaks” while you’re on the road. You book a hotel with a pool and research family-friendly restaurants.

You make sure there is a fresh oil change and full tank of gas in your car.

You are totally, absolutely 100% road trip ready.

Stage 3: Departure
You load up the car the night before so you can make sure that Tetris puzzle of luggage and toys and dog crates will fit snugly and safely in your vehicle. You put the kids to bed early the night before so you can rouse them at daybreak and get out of town before the other drivers crowd the roads. Everyone is slightly groggy from the early start, but they are still totally, absolutely 100% PUMPED for the adventure that is about to ensue.

Let’s hit the road, Jack!

Stage 4: Road Trip Bliss
You sing songs as you pull out of the driveway and laugh with excitement as you discuss the interesting places you’ll be driving through today. The kids play happily with the dollar store trinkets you surprsied them with this morning and your oldest child reads a book to the younger children. The dog curls up peacefully at the childrens’ feet and drifts off to dreamland. You sip your coffee contentedly. It’s almost like Heaven, but in a minivan.

(This stage lasts for approximately the first 5 minutes, or 2 miles, whichever comes first)

Stage 5: Road Trip Hell
You notice that the car is making a strange sound and shaking every time you press the brakes. Whisper a silent prayer that you don’t have to use the “runaway truck ramps” when you drive down the mountain passes.

The kids are super tired and they’re already bored with the toys and games you have prepared for them. They are now using your beautifully laminated Bingo boards to play Sword Ninjas.

You hear a scream from the backseat, quickly followed by the second-most-awful phrase that can be muttered during a family road trip (“HE STARTED IT!”). You look back to see your 4-year old clutching his bloody nose…but it’s not that big of a deal because the dog is already licking his face clean.

You decide to pull over for lunch so you can handle The Situation and mend your childrens’ tears with chicken nuggets and milkshakes. Thankfully there’s a Burger King with an indoor playplace at this exit (*Gold Star* for researching this stop during Stage 2!).

You walk in the door to Burger King and your kids are PUMPED to play on the playground and eat the chicken nuggets and milkshakes that you promised them in the parking lot. When you walk in the door, however, you get a strange feeling. The lobby is full of very disgruntled looking customers who are holding receipts and staring daggers at the pre-pubescent fast food employees who are supposed to be microwaving their lunch. A lady sitting at a table leans over as you walk in the door and hisses, “I’ve been waiting here for half an hour. For a cheeseburger. This might not be for you.”

You’re right, disgruntled Burger King customer, this is NOT for us.

So you leave the “restaurant” and walk across the parking lot to the only other eating establishment: Taco Bell. Only, your kids are not at peace with this decision to leave chicken nugget-milkshake-playground-happy-place, and they are becoming quite vocal and violent in their protestations. When you suggest that they eat a cheese quesadilla they fall to the ground like a heap of writhing, screaming fish out of water.

You order them the cheese quesadilla anyway and  kindly escort them back to the minivan where they can fully express their disapproval in a constructive and productive manner.

By the time your husband brings out the cheese quesadillas, you have put on a movie, re-buckled the children and nursed the baby. All is quiet and right with the world. You calmly pass the now-comatose children their cheese quesadillas and hope they won’t notice what they’re eating since Chase from Paw Patrol has lured them in with his hypnotic acts of heroism.

You start the car right as child 1 takes his first bite of the quesadilla, only to hear a violent wretching sound and shrieks of “IT’S SPICY! IT’S SPICY! BLEHAHEHALJALTKHAADHGKLJADSHFPOIUE;LKFASDGKHADG!!!!!!” coming from the backseat.

Fast food restaurants: 2   Family trying to eat a quick meal on the go: 0

You sic the dog on the spat out quesadilla and throw an applesauce squeezie and a bag of Goldfish crackers to your child. You turn the movie back on and pray for the next 13 hours to please go quickly if you love me and these presently-unharmed children, sweet Jesus.

Someone from the back seat utters the first most-awful-phrase that can be muttered during a family road trip (“Are we there yet?”), but you barely hear them because you’ve already put in your ear plugs.

Stage 6: Arrival
Where’s the bed and the mini bar?!?!

Stage 7: The Destination
You see all the places and visit all the people.  You take the car in to the shop and spend $700 of your vacation fund on new brake pads and rotors (at least you didn’t have to use the runaway truck ramps on the mountain passes). Your children act like lunatics escaped from an asylum because they’re off of their well-honed routine. Nobody sleeps because the baby is teething and your children aren’t in their own beds (They’re not in their away-from-home beds, either. They’re in your away-from-home bed, and at least 30% of the time one of them pees in that bed. Good thing you pre-packaged clean clothes into Ziploc baggies, because now you need to use the baggies to stuff pee clothes into until you can find a suitable place to wash them).

This, my friends, is what memories are made of.

Stage 8: Returning
After tearful goodbyes and a careful re-working of luggage Tetris, you load up the car and begin the journey back home. Everyone basically skips straight to Stage 5 and you just pedal-to-the-metal into the sunset.

Stage 9: Home
(and unpacking)
(and laundry)
(and grocery shopping)
(and locating that funky smell coming from somewhere downstairs)

Stage 10: Reminiscing 
You look back at your Instagram photos and Facebook posts from that trip and you remember the road trip glory days. You remember that quirky roadside attraction and that glorious  view along the Sierras. You think back on the lazy days you spent with your family and long-lost friends, and you yearn to be back.

Hooray! Let’s go on another road trip!  I can’t WAIT to see the country and make precious memories with my family! This will be sooooo much fun!IMG_4911 3


Lost In Translation: My Attempt At Writing In “Irish”

Each and every day that I live in Ireland I am struck by this fact: “English” (the language) is a relative term.  There is English-English, American-English, Australian-English, Irish-English…and they are all utterly and completely different. Although I technically speak the same language as my Irish friends, most of our conversations have to pass through a vocabulary translator of sorts before we can understand each other’s jibberish. To illustrate my point, I will write this post entirely in “Irish-English” (and, just in case you get lost, I’ll post the American-English translation at the end). A note to my Irish friends who might be reading this–I apologise in advance as I know I will still butcher this humourous “translation”. So, here it is–a glimpse into my world: the world of a girl living behind the language barrier.

Thursday (Irish-English Version)

On Thursday, 27 March, I had a grand day with my smallies. We started our day as we always do, with breakfast: porridge and toast with blackcurrant jam. Then it was school time. After I dropped David at playschool Jacob and I drove down the motorway to our favorite Thursday ritual: the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market. On our way there we passed a breakdown van that was rescuing an estate car that had somehow run into the crash barrier under a hoarding.

The car park was nearly full by the time we IMG_1486arrived at the market, but I managed to find a spot available between the trolleys and a lorry that looked like it had just rolled in off the farm (the number plate was so muddy I could hardly make heads nor tails of it). We had to take the lift down to the market as I had Jacob in the buggy. The market was bustling and I had to queue at several stands. My favourite vendors were all there and we managed to find some great bargains. One stand even had a voucher promotion going on and I was able to buy courgettes and aubergines for half price. At one stall there was a woman with short fringe and a pink hairslide arguing over the price of maize and mangetouts–I’m not quite sure why she had her knickers in such a twist! In the end, though, we came away with some fresh ingredients for our supper. I could hardly wait to prepare all of our delicious veg on my hob when we got home.

After our morning at the farmer’s market I wanted to call on a friend for a cuppa tea, but it was already time to collect David. After David put his backpack in the boot I asked him how his day at school was. He said that he had a grand time playing in the sandpit with his friend, Seán Murphy, who he had met in the crèche before school. David said that at school they were practising maths and that his teacher was even teaching him how to tie his trainers. His trousers and jumper were a bit wet, and he said that it started raining while he was playing football with the lads in the play yard. No bother, I told him, he could just change into his dressing gown when we got home.

unnamedWhen we got home we had lunch and then decided to go for a walk. There is a nice footpath that goes along the sea not far from our house, so we decided to go down to the beach for a spell. We all wore our wellies so we could splash in the water (it was only 9 degrees out, so not nearly warm enough for swimming costumes!) and we brought along a spade and pail so we could build sandcastles! I also brought along minerals and biscuits in case we got peckish while we were out. We had a grand afternoon playing by the seaside. At about 15.00 we decided to go back home so Jacob could have his sleep.

After returning home I changed Jacob’s nappy, gave him his dummy and laid him down in his cot. While Jacob was sleeping, David and I heard the Mr. Whippy van passing through our green. We ran outside and caught him just before he passed our front garden. We each had a lovely ice cream cone topped with colourful hundreds and thousands–I was so tempted to buy some jelly babies and candy floss, too, but I decided the ice cream would be sufficient. The last thing I need is more sweeties!

Plus, I had to get back inside. I still needed to ring the surgery on my mobile to discuss our bill–it cost us nearly 100 Euro to visit the A&E, if you can fathom. And that was before our visit to the chemist! Just imagine what it would have cost if we actually had to utilise the theatre there.

It was a grand day with my smallies but, I have to say, I wouldn’t mind getting away on an aroplane soon. This mummy needs a holiday!


Thursday (American-English Translation)

On Thursday, March 27th I had a great day with my little ones. We started our day as we always do, with breakfast: oatmeal and toast with grape jelly. Then it was time to go to school. After I dropped David off at preschool Jacob and I drove down the highway to our favorite Thursday ritual: the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market. On our way there we passed a tow truck that was rescuing a station wagon that had somehow run into the guardrail under a billboard.

The parking lot was almost full by the time we arrived at the market, but I managed to find a spot between the shopping carts and a semi-truck that looked like it had just rolled in off the farm (the license plate was so muddy that I could hardly make it out). We had to take the elevator down to the market as I had Jacob in the stroller. The market was bustling and I had to wait in line at several stands. My favorite vendors were all there andwe managed to find some great deals. One stand even had a coupon deal going on and I was able to buy zucchini and eggplant for half price. At one stall there was a woman with short bangs and a pink barrette arguing over the price of corn and snowpeas–I’m not quite sure why she was throwing such a fit! In the end, though, we came away with some fresh ingredients for our dinner. I could hardly wait to prepare all of our delicious vegetables on my stove when we got home.

After our morning at the farmer’s market I wanted to meet up with a friend for coffee, but it was already time to pick up David. After David put his backpack in the trunk I asked him how his day at school was. He said that he had a great time playing in the sandbox with his friend, John Smith, who he had met in the daycare before school. David said that at school they are practicing math and that his teacher was even teaching him how to tie his tennis shoes. His pants and sweater were a bit wet, and he said that it started raining when he was playing soccer with some boys on the playground. Don’t worry, I told him, you can just change into your bathrobe when we get home.

When we got home we had lunch and then decided to go for a walk. There’s a nice sidewalk that goes along the water not far from our house, so we decided to go down to the beach for awhile. We all wore our boots so we could splash in the water (it was only 50 degrees out, so not nearly warm enough for swim suits!) and we brought along a bucket and shovel so we could build sandcastles. I also brought along beverages and cookies in case we got hungry while we were out. We had a great afternoon playing by the ocean. At about 3:00 we decided to head back home so Jacob could take his nap.

When we got home I changed Jacob’s diaper, gave him his pacifier, and laid him down in his crib. While Jacob was sleeping, David and I heard the ice cream truck passing through our neighborhood. We ran outside and caught him just before he passed our front yard. We each had a yummy ice cream cone topped with colorful sprinkles–I was so tempted to buy some jelly beans and cotton candy, too, but I decided the ice cream would be enough. The last thing I need is more candy!

Plus, we needed to get back inside. I still needed to call the doctor’s office on my cell phone–It cost us almost $150 to visit the ER, if you can believe it. And that was before our visit to the pharmacy! Just imagine what it would have cost if we actually had to go to the operating room there.

It was a great day with my little ones but, I have to say, I wouldn’t mind getting away on an airplane soon. This mommy needs a vacation!

If You Give A Mom A Mocha: A Parody

One of our favorite activities is going to the library. We go almost every week and come home with bags brimming with new books to read together. On our most recent trip to the library (one that involved an overly-tired, screaming at the top of his lungs baby and a potty-training 2-year old with diarrhea) we got a version of the classic If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff. David loved If You Give A Dog A Donut so much that we decided to bring home another called If You Give A Pig A Party. The books all follow a basic pattern–if you give (some animal) a (treat) they’ll ask for a (something to go with the treat). That “something” will remind them of something else, and they go on a silly adventure finding the things they are reminded of.

I thought it would be fun to write my own version of the If You Give A…. books. And, since I’m a mom, I’m going to write about what’s nearest and dearest to a mother’s heart: coffee.

If You Give A Mom A Mocha

saltedcarmelmochaIf you give a mom a Mocha, she’s going to want a cardboard sleeve for her hot cup.
The cardboard sleeve will remind her that today is recycling day, so she’ll rush home to put the recycling bins out by the curb.
As she’s moving the recycling bins to the curb, she’ll notice an empty diaper box in the bin. She’ll want to go to Costco so she can buy more diapers before the baby runs out.
While she’s at Costco buying diapers, she’ll pass by the food court. The pizza will smell delicious.
She’ll want a slice of ooey-gooey pizza. And, since the kids are already whining for lunch, she’ll decide to stop and get some.
After she eats the pizza, she’ll remember that her “lose the baby weight diet” doesn’t involve noshing on pizza.
She’ll go home and change into her running shoes and load the kids into the jogging stroller for a little post-pizza workout. It will take about an hour to get everyone ready and out the door.
When she gets about a block away from home, her 2-year old will say that he has to go potty.
She’ll run back home to the potty as fast as her legs can carry her. As she’s pulling back into the driveway, her 2-year old will say that he doesn’t have to go potty anymore.
She’ll take him out of the stroller and see why he doesn’t have to go anymore.
She’ll take off his wet pants, socks, and shoes and sit him on the potty anyway.
Then she’ll hose off the stroller and leave it in the driveway until she can come up with a better cleaning solution.
When she gets back inside from hosing off the stroller, she’ll see that the 2-year old has gotten into the pantry. He’s dumped a whole bag of Cheerios onto the floor and the dog and the baby are licking them up.
She’ll get out the vacuum to clean up the Cheerios. The vacuum will remind her of how disgusting the rest of the floors in her house are, so she’ll vacuum the other rooms while she’s at it.
While she’s vacuuming she’ll vacuum up a stray sock.
The sock will remind her that she promised her kids to make sock puppets with them this week.
She’ll get out all of the craft supplies and help the little ones make new toys out of their old socks.
Once they have sock puppets, the kiddos will want to put on a puppet show.
She’ll get out an old cardboard box to make a stage for the puppets to perform on.
When she sees the cardboard box, she’ll be reminded of the cardboard sleeve that they put on coffee cups.
Once she starts thinking about coffee, she’ll want a mocha. And you know what? I think she’ll deserve one!

20 Ways My 2-Year Old is Like a Puppy


I’m a full-time stay at home mom. I spend my days playing with my kids and my dog–perhaps I spend too much time playing with my kids and my dog. As I was watching my 2-year old playing with our dog the other day it struck me: toddlers and puppies have a lot in common. Here are my top observations in toddler/puppy similarities:

  1. They have endless energy–If we could find a way to harness the energy of 2-year old boys and 7-year old Border Collies I’m pretty sure we could power third world countries.
  2. My primary role as mother/owner is to keep them from killing themselves on a daily basis.
  3. They like to chew on things–especially things that are not meant to be chewed on.
  4. They like getting their heads rubbed.
  5. They enjoy playing in the toilet–putting toys in it, drinking from it, splashing around in the water. Lovely.
  6. They will eat things that really should not be eaten, and look at you like you’re a crazy woman when you jam a finger into their mouth to swipe it out.
  7. They pee on the floor and don’t clean it up. I really wish they would at least clean it up.
  8. They don’t wear out–If they get 5 minutes of rest they’re ready to go again at 100% capacity. No rest for the weary (mom).
  9. They enjoy lying in mud puddles and digging in the dirt. But, really, who doesn’t?
  10. They need regular grooming–see #9
  11. They love balls. Ball?! Did somebody say ball?
  12. They are small, squishy, and cuddly–if you can catch them long enough to squish and cuddle them.
  13. They want to wrestle. All. The. Time.
  14. They spread out on the couch/bed/chair that you were about to sit on–and they lie in such a ridiculous, haphazard position that there’s not a square inch of space left for you to possibly squeeze in.
  15. They like to bite themselves–not quite sure why they find this so enjoyable.
  16. They go crazy at the mention of words like “park” or “treat”.
  17. They need their “claws” trimmed about every 2 seconds.
  18. They make loud, obnoxious noises when they aren’t getting enough attention–and won’t stop until you quit whatever unimportant task you were doing and get down on the floor with them again.
  19. More often than not, they smell a bit funky. True story.
  20. They give unconditional love and I couldn’t imagine the world without them!

Irish For Newbies

A lot of things are different in Ireland. They drive on the other (some would say wrong) side of the car and the other side of the road. They consider dinnertime to be from about 9:00-midnight. They are obsessed with round-abouts (even in the middle of highways). They don’t keep shops open past 4:00 in the afternoon. They have about 5,000 different varieties of Kit Kat candy bars. And they have a lot of different words for things.

Turns out that even though the Irish speak English, there are quite a few differences in terminology. While we were in Ireland I picked up a bit of the local lingo. I had a few back-and-forths where my intentions got completely lost in translation–much to the frustration (and, eventually, the amusement) of both parties. I’ll spare you the trouble of figuring out all of these translations for yourself. Here are my top Irish-English translations for newbies:

  • bog – toilet
  • nappy – diaper
  • hob- stove
  • cot (or baby cot) – crib
  • Maxi-Cosi – infant car seat (note: the airline attendant will become quickly agitated if you suggest bringing a carseat onto her aircraft. Those are huge bulky seats for toddlers and there is not room for them on the little Irish planes. A Maxi-Cosi, however, is perfectly acceptable.)
  • knickers – socks
  • brolly – umbrella
  • gherkins – pickles
  • lads and lassies/ ladies and gents – boys and girls/ women and men (I just think it’s cute that they actually call everyone by these names!)
  • chips – french fries
  • chip butty – a sandwhich stuffed with fries and mayo. Surprisingly delicious.
  • trolley – shopping cart
  • bap – hamburger bun
  • pram – stroller
  • lolly – candy
  • biscuits – cookies
  • savoury biscuits – crackers
  • creche – daycare/ child care center
  • boot – car trunk
  • wellies – rain boots
  • GHT – hair flat iron
  • mineral – soft drinks
  • garda – police
  • Sat Nav – GPS
  • mobile – cell phone
  • the craic – a jolly good time!

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I hope this helps if you ever plan your own trip out to the Emerald Isle (or if you just want to impress that bartender at your local Irish pub)!

Traveling With Bebe, Part 3: Getting Through The Airport

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Yesterday I showed you how I pack for a trip. Today, we get to go on the trip–hooray! I love traveling, but I have to admit it–traveling with kids can be a bit challenging. I used to look forward to the plane ride when I’d get 3 hours all to myself to catch up on reading all of those celebrity magazines that I only read when I’m at an airport. Now, I get to spend travel time anxiously anticipating my child’s every potential need and/or desire before they realize it and throw a temper tantrum at 30,000 feet. Or, I get to spend 3 hours bouncing a baby up and down the aisles as I get nasty stares from that old man who wants to leave his foot dangling out in the walkway right where I can trip over it. Yes, traveling with kids is exhausting and it tests your will as a parent, but in the end it’s always worth the effort. And, there are things you can do to make things go more smoothly for everyone. Today we’ll focus on getting through the airport so you can actually make your flight!

Arriving At The Airport
Always allow a bit of extra time when you’re traveling with kids. It will take you longer to physically move through the airport with little ones and all of their accompanying “stuff”. Plus, you’ll want some extra time to feed, do diaper changes, and run off some energy before your flight. I always bring a small stroller with me, even for my toddler who can walk, because sometimes it’s just easier (or necessary) to strap a kid in and run to your gate. I also try to check in for my flight and print our boarding passes before I arrive at the airport. As long as we’re not checking any bags, this allows us to go straight to security when we arrive–this gives us one less line to wait in and a few more minutes to get where we need to be by the time we need to be there.

Getting Through Security
Getting through airport security with a baby is a bit like competing in a triathlon: it requires training, endurance, speed, and the ability to perform a number of ridiculous tasks. I’ve got this down to a bit of a science now. I always bring baby’s car seat and stroller with me to the gate because you can check them there for free. Plus, if there happens to be an empty seat on your flight, they’ll let you bring the car seat ON the plane so you can let baby have his own seat next to you for free (this will give you empty arms and your baby will have a chance to take a nap in his own space. Glorious.).

The trickiest part of going through the airport with little ones is security because you have to put EVERYTHING through the metal detector (including strollers and car seats, baby not included). Here’s what I do for the baby: I bring a snap-and-go stroller with my “personal item” (a diaper bag) stored underneath it and the car seat snapped on top. When I flew by myself, I decided not to check a bag so I brought a nice rolling suitcase that I could drag behind me. I put the baby in the Ergo carrier as soon as I got out of the car so I could walk through security and not have to jostle him out of the car seat there (I have never had a problem leaving him in the Ergo through the security section, but maybe some airports will make you take baby out for further inspection. Perhaps junior is carrying a samurai sword under his onesie–you just never know).

Once at the security checkpoint, look for a family line. Some airports take pity on parents lugging children through the airport and they give you a little star treatment with a special, shorter line. Kind of like a fast pass at Disney–but instead of flying on Dumbo at the end, you get to walk through the magical metal detector.

Now, get a whole stack of those bins that you’re supposed to empty your pockets into. Excuse yourself to the impatient lady standing behind you, and take over the floor. If you plan on carrying baby through the metal detector in your arms, lay down a blanket or your jacket and set her down in one of the bins so she doesn’t roll away as you’re getting everything ready. Put the diaper bag in one bin. Put your liquids and any other questionable materials in another bin (by the way, if you’re traveling with a baby you are allowed a certain amount of liquid formula or breast milk through security, and I think even some water for you to drink as a mom. Check with your airline or the TSA website for more details). Put your shoes (I hope you’re wearing slip-ons or flip-flops, because good luck untying your shoes with a baby already strapped to your chest!), jacket, loose change, watch, etc. in another bin. Fold up the stroller and put it upside down on the conveyor belt. Make sure the handle is all the way down on your car seat (it won’t fit through the “security tunnel” if it’s not just right) and put it on the conveyor belt. Put your suitcase and all of your bins on the conveyor belt. *Make sure you got your baby out of that bin if you haven’t already!* Run back and forth like a mad-man trying to push all 30 of your items through the conveyor belt so you don’t cause a back-up. Hold baby, and walk calmly through the metal detector–no need to alarm anyone at this point. Yay, you did it! Now, go retrieve your pile of items that have already started spilling onto the floor on the other side of the conveyor belt and start putting everything back together again. Whew!

At The Gate
After you get through security, the rest is pretty easy. Get to your gate a bit early and check to see if they have any empty seats so you can bring your car seat on with you. This will make a world of difference, so it’s always worth checking once you’re there.

If you have a crawler or a toddler, encourage him to run/jump/climb/dance down the hallways–whatever it takes to burn some energy before the long flight ahead. Get a snack or a meal. Change diapers and use the potty yourself–bathroom runs and diaper changes mid-flight are difficult at best. Basically, do anything now that you’re not going to be able to do once you’re on the plane.

We’re almost to the good part now: actually flying to your destination. Check back tomorrow for my tips on flying with your little one!

You Know You’re From Seattle When…

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Jon and I were watching a movie recently that had a scene *supposedly* set in Seattle. Everything about it was so wrong, though, that it actually got me a bit worked up. How could they portray my city–and “my people”–in such a distorted light? I’ve lived in and around Seattle  my whole life, and I’ll be the first to admit that we Seattleites are a bit quirky. Living in a rain cloud is a unique experience and it makes for some interesting people. I am proud to be from Seattle–the real Seattle, not the one from the movies. You know that you’re from Seattle when:

  • You know at least 5 different ways to say”rain”.
  • “Barefoot” is an acceptable footwear option, even if there’s snow on the ground.
  • You own your own espresso machine and/or the baristas at your local coffee shop know you by name.
  • You don’t carry (or even own) an umbrella. Umbrellas are for amateurs.
  • You own 4 pairs of sunglasses yet you don’t know where a single one of them is.
  • You flock outside with the masses on the first sunny day in the spring that reaches above 60 degrees. You don your shorts/t-shirt/bikini and join the throngs of people swimming in frigid lakes and sunbathing in parks.
  • You sit in front of a SAD light every day in the winter.
  • You have seen fish flying at the market and have taken photos with the Fremont Troll. You’ve even licked the bubblegum wall.
  • You own a dog and treat him/her/them like your child/ren rather than as a pet.
  • You say things like “The mountain is out today” and “Look at those bright clouds! What a beautiful day!”.
  • You see nothing wrong with wearing socks under your sandals.
  • You check bridge and ferry reports along with your traffic reports.
  • You know that summer doesn’t begin until July 5th.
  • You know what a geoduck is (bonus points if you know the geoduck song or have actually eaten the creepy things).
  • You get a “snow day” off school because there’s a light dusting of snow on the grass.
  • You cry if there’s a light dusting of snow on the grass and you don’t get a snow day.
  • You have smoked marijuana in public. And it was legal. (Just for the record, I’ve never done this but it still weirds me out when I see other people doing it).
  • You commute to work on your bike in the rain/snow/sleet/hail.
  • You grow rhubarb in your back yard (or have a neighbor/friend/co-worker who brings it to you by the bagful in the summer).
  • You chastise people who don’t properly recycle or compost their waste.
  • You homebrew.
  • You know how to properly pronounce the place names “Puyallup”, “Sequim”, and “Des Moines”.
  • You think of rocks, not sand, when you think of beaches.
  • You say “pop” instead of “soda”.
  • You’ve cruised down Alki Beach in a convertible on a sunny day.
  • You pronounce the word “flag” as “flay-g”.
  • You’ve ridden on the monorail.
  • You call that major interstate that runs from California to Canada “I-5” (what the heck is “The 5”?)
  • You are accustomed to seeing at least 7 varieties of apples in your grocery store.
  • You’ve witnessed cars bouncing down an icy hill like they’re in a pinball machine.
  • You keep reusable grocery bags in your car. And you use them.

I really could keep going all day, but you get the picture. I love you, Seattle!