Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wedding Countdown: Three More Sleeps...

In three more sleeps, I will officially be Mrs. Himself.

Or Mrs. Herself - Himself.

Or maybe even just Ms. Herself.

Of course, I could always do the old Mrs. Herself professionally (in the hopes that my Christmas dreams come true and this year finds the Mammydiaries published and on a bookshelf near you) and Mrs. Himself on personal things like greeting cards and dental appointment notices.

Given that the kids are both little Misses Himself, it would probably be nice to all have the same last name.

Had we thought of this well in advance of the small ones, we could even have gone the Mr.Herself route!


Maybe we could just make up something different altogether...

Mr and Mrs. Something New

Hey! We already have something borrowed and something blue!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

T'was the very early morning before the night before Christmas...

It is four in the morning on Christmas Eve.

And no, before you ask, it is not the excitement of the season that has me up at this ungodly hour when I should be nestled all snug in my bed, with visions of sugarplums (Maltesers?) dancing in my head.

No. It is a certain unruly toddler who has discovered giant, Snot Queen size loopholes in the "Sleeping whilst at Nanny and Grandad's" section of the "Modifications on Daily Rules and Regulations whilst on Holidays in Canada" manual.

Namely, that mommy and daddy will do almost anything to keep her from waking the entire household, including (brace yourselves all ye "good parents" out there whose ranks we strive to one day join) letting her out of bed to roam the house instead of braving the tantrums and making her stay in our room.

It was either that or give into our baser instincts and set her free in the wild to fend for herself.

Seriously though, what do you do?

I'm at my wit's end. There are only so many sleepless nights you can endure before spiking their drinks with a hefty dose of vodka starts to seem like the way forward.

Because you see, it's not just the snot Queen who has been availing of our new night time opening hours. Tiny one as well, has spent the last few nights discovering the perks of "Life after Dark." In fact, tonight is the first night this week that she's slept through, which only makes this sudden wakening of her older sister that much harder to handle.

What's even more ridiculous are the strange bastardized rules you come up with in the wee small hours to convince yourself that yes, you still have some control over the situation.

For example: You may only wander about in the upstairs sitting room and not the identical one downstairs because somehow, in my sleep deprived mind, if I let you downstairs, I am "giving in." So long as we remain in the fun free sanctum of the upstairs, I am still a "good mother."

Example Two: Okay, we will go downstairs, but you cannot, must not, under any circumstances turn on the tv or do anything that may otherwise be construed as having fun in case it starts a horrible pattern of middle of the night wakings which I will then have to spend the rest of the holiday fixing.

Example three: No cuddling in case, like the aforementioned tv/fun ban, it starts a horrible pattern of middle of the night wakings which I will then have to spend the rest of the holiday fixing.

Example four: Okay, we can cuddle, I'm not a monster, but seriously, could we at least pretend that I am the parent here and that I have some input into what goes on?

The inmates are indeed running the asylum.

Happy holidays (yawn.)


Monday, December 21, 2009

The Hit

My father has kidnapped my fiance.

They left the house over 2 hours ago to get their tuxes fitted for the wedding. Thirty minutes later, Dad called to say that he was taking my beloved, "for a ride."

I'm just a little bit scared.

I love my partner. I want us to spend the rest of our lives together. I want our wedding to go ahead as scheduled in just under two weeks time.

Somehow, being taken "for a ride" by my father, does not seem conducive to these plans.

I mean seriously? What the hell could they possibly have to talk about?

"So, you're the one who knocked up my daughter (twice) and now keeps my grandchildren away from me for 11 months of the year..."

Yeah... That's a great ice breaker.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Part One

Things that made me smile today:

Listening to the Snot Queen as she chased my family's dog calling "Lie - lee! Ro Ove!" That's toddler speak for "Reilly, Roll Over!" Something the poor animal will happily do when the promise of a Milk Bone (or a cheerio) is on offer.

Watching my dad lying with the tiny one after her nap. The two of them just passing the time chatting and smiling away as if they'd known each other all their days.

Hearing the Snot Queen's laughter as she and my mom played together in the snow and seeing her cheeks, rosy from the cold and her little red nose, streaming away (tasty!) It was her first time playing in that sort of cold and I think my heart would have been broken had she not enjoyed it.

Seeing my old toys cleaned up and made new again for my own children and imagining my parents watching me play with them as a child.

Putting my little sister's old flower girl dress onto the snot queen and figuring out the necessary alterations so that she can walk down the aisle in it at our wedding next month...

As much as I love the life I've made in Ireland and as appreciative as I am for all the good things it entails, it's like Dorothy said in "The Wizard of Oz,"

There really is, "no place like home."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nerve: i.e down to my last...



Deep Breaths...

In, out, in....


and out...


Oh my god. Packing and children do NOT go together. Neither, it seems, does "taking a break from packing to do a spot of blogging..." mix well with the under two set.

My mantra for today is, "I will not throw my children out the window." So long as I can do this, I will consider myself "Mother of the Year" material.

Deep breaths.




"Has anybody seen my sanity?"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I'll keep this letter short as the babies are sleeping, the kitchen's a disaster and there is something that smells vaguely of pizza on the hem of my sweater, but as we haven't had that gourmet delight in weeks, I'll assume it's a bit of sauce from Monday's spaghetti.

Just so you know, the girls are way too young to "get" you yet, so I've decided that this year I will be hijacking the list and making a few requests of my own.

Oh, and I assume that the old protocol of thanking you for last year's presents and requesting that you not forget the sick kids in hospital still applies? Consider it done! Also, if we could assume that good health and happiness for my family are a given, that would be great.

Now, let's get down to business....

For starters, I've been a VERY good girl this year. Despite the teething and the tantrums, the filthy nappies and the never ending cycle of changing, feeding, bathing (them, not me) dishes, sweeping, wiping and laundry that is my life, I have not sold or disposed of any members of my family. Considering that I spent the better part of the year filled with high octane pregnancy hormones, we will consider this a true Christmas miracle indeed.

Now, being a mom, I always think of others before myself. Therefore, I would like to ask for a few special pressies for my nearest and dearest...

For my soon to be husband: A pair of glasses to help him see the piles of laundry sitting hopefully on the stairs just begging to be carted upstairs and put away.

For my beautiful Snot Queen: A self wiping face and bum so as to avoid the shrieks of horror and violent acrobatics everytime she sees us approaching with a wet cloth or tissue.

For my small one: Volume Control.

For myself, I would like the following;

...A self cleaning kitchen with a self cooking oven. If I order now, do I also qualify for the self cleaning, toddler proof dishes and cookware set?

... My very own sleep fairy. I currently share the local one with at least 15 other mothers and because of this, quality and speed of service are definitely suffering.

...Vegetables shaped like rice cakes as these are the only solid foods my daughter is currently interested in...

...a holiday. Anywhere, Anytime. In fact, if that's too much, I'd even settle for a trip to the toilet alone or a shower by myself where nobody tries to clean my feet with my toothbrush.

...Speaking of alone time, I would also like an additional hour to be tacked onto each day for me to do with as I please. Failing that, an isolation chamber would do quite nicely.

...A sense of style. Mine went missing around the same time as the mucous plug.

...A puke and pooh resistant outfit which always looks great and never needs laundering.

...Calorie free chocolate biscuits which also fulfill all of my daily nutritional requirements.

...A nursing bra that does NOT GIVE ME A UNI BOOB!!!!!

...The ability to carry on a conversation without once mentioning pooh or sleep.

...Magical toilet training fairies that could come and get the snot queen out of nappies. Hmmm... perhaps we could start a breeding service with the sleep fairy...

And of course, if you have room in your sack...


Sigh... I could go on, but the kiddies are still sleeping and unfortunately, this kitchen won't clean itself. (yet!)

Thank you so much to you, Mrs. Claus and the elves. I look forward to seeing you and the Reindeer soon.

All the best,

M xoxoxox

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Losing the battle...

Today I gave an interview to the Sunday Times Newspaper.

It was about my reaction as a stay at home mother to the 2010 Irish budget released yesterday. In Particular, to the decision to cut more then 10% from the children's allowance.

A decision which was fought tooth and nail by a small but devoted group of Irish parents who over the last 8 months campaigned tirelessly for all of our nation's children.

They collected over 15,000 signatures, gave countless interviews, hounded their TD's, handed out flyers, set up websites and marched in the streets.

They also held down jobs, ran homes and generally got on with the day to day business of raising their families.

So what was my reaction?

Well, for starters, I'm disgusted by a government which values gambling and booze over it's children and those who care for them.

However, so long as there are parents out there like Irish Mammy and the men and Women of PACUB who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, I will not lose hope.

On behalf of our children,


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Photo Shoot

Oh God. I am mortified.

Seriously, I really should come with a disclaimer. Perhaps I could hand one out to people upon first meeting them. Just a little note to explain that despite initial impressions and potentially odd behaviours, I really am an interesting, intelligent and - dare I say it - amusing human being.

For the record, this is not the way that this blog was supposed to start.

Ever since receiving the initial call from Irish Mammy and then the follow up from the Sunday Times, I had planned a snazzy little intro on how myself and the family Von Snot were about to become celebrities.

How we were about to be launched into the social strata of Irish high society where we would be wined and dined and recognized everywhere we go (or at least by those who memorize the faces of anyone who appears in the parenting pages of the Times.)

No, it wasn't about "The Book" and no, the powers that be in the world of Irish Publishing did not happen across my blog and demand an interview with the grand dame herself (that would be me) and her inspiration (the family Von Snot.)

Instead, it was to be a piece about how the upcoming budget and how the potential cuts to Child Benefit would affect Irish families. We would be one of the sample families. Today was the photo shoot.

My original plan to be the hostess with the mostest - cleanest house and cutest children - was foiled when at 4:00pm I realized I'd forgotten to buy biscuits to offer the photograher along with his hot beverage of choice.

So off I schlepped to the shops with a friend of mine to purchase Fox's finest and a few chocolates to boot (or to eat on the walk home, whatever...) The plan was to be in, out and home in plenty of time to give the house a quick makeover and spackle a few layers of glam onto my weary, pallid features.

Oh, and also to remove the dirty nappy from the kitchen floor where I'd accidentally left it after the girls' nap.

However, my lovely friend, sneaky wench that she is, had the gall to invite me to hers for coffee after which she'd drive me home, thus helping me to avoid having to push 100lbs of baby, biscuits and buggy up the mountain atop which I live (for the second time today I might add.)

The decision was easy and off we went, my filthy abode (and even filthier nappy) pushed to the back of my mind.

I arrived home in time to bin the nappy and wipe down the counters. The doorbell rang as I was reaching for the mascara.

The photographer was lovely - think Jack Nicholson - with an easy nature and a dry sense of humour who wasn't phased at all (that he showed anyway) by the two children who insisted on hanging from my chest for the first ten minutes of his visit (yeah, I forgot to do that as well before he got there.)

I, on the other hand, have not had to talk to anyone of the non-mommy variety in almost two years and am lost in any conversation that does not involve poo, puke or any other such scintillating baby related topics.

I was seriously out of my depth. I wittered on about anything and everything, god forbid there be even a HINT of silence. No sirrreeeee! I blathered on and on and on... All the while, the socially conscious part of my brain was screaming, "SHUT UP YOU MORON! SHUT UP!!!!" Did I listen?


Instead, I smiled and laughed and made the kind of small talk that even my North American roots were ashamed by.

Afterwards, in the vague hope that my social awkwardness was all in my head, I asked himself if I had been over the top at all, expecting of course him to say something along the lines of, " Of course not darling! You were lovely! The perfect hostess!"

Unfortunately, not having read the script, he improvised with something that went a bit along the lines of, "Well, you did go on a bit towards the end..."

In other words, Yes darling, you have the social graces of a nimrod and should really just stick to smiling and nodding unless otherwise directed.

Oh well! At least I remembered to bin the nappy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blogging in My Brain

Phew! I have been blogging like a maniac this week. Small gems of wisdom have been bursting all around me as I crafted post after post after post!

Unfortunately, I committed none of them to paper (not that I ever do, but somehow the phrase "committed none of them to internet/keyboard/computer" doesn't have quite the same ring) and as I have yet to figure out how to transmit my thoughts telepathically (the lazy blogger's dream!) it seems that all of my work was for nought.


It sucks to be honest. There were some real gems in there. My particular favourite was a poignant piece on being "touched out" and needing a break from motherhood before I bunged my entire family out on the front lawn and posted giant "Keep Away" signs on my breasts before backing away slowly from the lot of them shouting "stay back!" and then promptly running away to my real life which I'm sure is extremely glamouress and is still happening somewhere else.

Unfortunately, even if I had had the energy to write it all down, the two giant leeches stuck to my chest were a great hindrance to my typing ability.

Next up was a good old fashioned, multi faceted rant on a variety of parent/child/gvn't/boob related topics. It all started when Thierry Henri (or however the hell you spell his name) hand balled Ireland out of the world cup. Terrible? Yes. Unfair? Most Definitely. Deserving of more outrage and attention then the ongoing battle to save Child Benefit?

Ummmmmmm.... No.

Unfortunately, that's what it got. Even the Taoiseach got involved, joining forces with the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) to demand a replay from the officials at FIFA. Even now, two weeks after the bloody game, it's still a hot news item. Meanwhile, the government is moving along it's merry way with plans to make across the board cuts to our Children's Allowance and aside from a few passionate parents, no one is saying boo!

Last year, our complacency lost us the Early Childcare Supplement, despite childcare costs in Ireland being amongst the highest in Europe. This was "replaced" with a new scheme offering a free year of part time preschool to three year olds which not only can most creches not afford to implement but which has limited benefit to working parents and none whatsoever to stay at
home parents who often use the Child Benefit and ECS to supplement the income lost when one parent stays at home.

There seems to be this attitude that the cuts in child benefit are somehow going to be fair and not effect those who need it most. People seem to think that our government is going to change it's proverbial spots and look out for the most vulnerable in society (ironically enough, the very ones they are currently stealing from.)

WAKE UP PEOPLE! This is not going to happen! This is the same gvn't who brought you NAMA, who are doing their gosh darn best to save every banker and developer in the country while every month the dole queues are growing and more and more small businesses are dying without even the tiniest hand up (let alone out!) from our esteemed leader. These are the same people who have swindled the taxpayer out of millions of euros on an all too regular basis and yet never have to pay for their crimes!

AGGGHHH!!!!!! It drives me crazy just thinking about it!

Then, just the other day I happened across a fab parenting website, which was choc a bloc full of great articles on topics like breastfeeding, babyled weaning and cloth nappies amongst others. I spent a merry hour trawling through loads of great pieces but it was this one in particular which grabbed my attention. An article on "Exclusive Breastfeeding and the Virgin Gut" by Charlotte Young which explained the reasons behind WHY we are asked to exclusively breastfeed our babies for the first six months.

It discusses the physiology of the newborn gut which is considered both sterile and open at birth and which requires the mother's milk in order to a) colonize the gut with the proper "good" intestinal flora and b) only allow the mothers antibodies to slip through the intestinal wall into the baby's blood stream. It also talked about how introducing anything other then breastmilk completely transforms the bacterial composition and requires 2 - 4 weeks of exclusive feeding to return it to normal.

I didn't know any of this.

At no point during pregnancy, two years of breastfeeding or indeed through 14 years of schooling was this brought to my attention.

This of course led me to a good afternoon's mental ranting and blogging about how breastfeeding should be learned about in the schools and how we need to allow boobies to be seen as something beautiful and functional (much like the JML magic scarf!) and not as something "dirty" to be snickered at and scorned.

Of course, once I got on my soapbox, it was realllly hard to come down, so I stayed up there for a while and pondered a few more bits and pieces. Like how freely new mothers are encouraged to give the occasional bottle and the new vitamin D supplementation that all breastfed babies are encouraged to take (Read this article from kellymom as to why it's not usually needed) and what effects these sort of things might have on the health of breastfed babies.

Speaking of, my two little mooches are looking for a meal, so I'll leave off here and come back later to tell you more fabulous tales...

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's New?

Apparently, the river around the town where I live has burst it's banks.

I had no idea.

Just down the road from us, Cork City has been completely flooded and the city centre shut down.

Again, not a clue.

A few of our neighboring towns are being described online as "disaster zones" and "washed away."

I was not aware of this.

Almost every main road in the county has been closed and those that remain open are expected to close this evening when the tide comes in. The college where my darling (almost) hubbie works has cancelled all lectures until the end of the month due to flood damage (Yet somehow research continues as!)

Seriously! How did I miss this? What earth shattering events in the poo scented bubble that is now my life could possibly have left me completely unaware of the fact that apparently, the entire country (except for our estate) is now under water?!?!?

Well, for starters...

I am on the verge of selling my children. The Snot Queen's teething and has decided not to sleep until 11 o'clock every night this week and then wake up at least once a night looking for comfort in the form of mama's all night dairy bar, the baby has the plague and last night I had to LANCE MY NIPPLE. Yes, that's right, I had to Lance, i.e STICK A NEEDLE THROUGH MY NIPPLE as I had a milk blister which made me want to chew off my right breast every time either of the girls tried to latch on and the only way to deal with it was to drain it.

On top of that, the washing machine is broken and half our clothes are covered in poo (baby as well as one lovely sample of random neighborhood dog) both of the girls once again have a lovely dose of thrush on their bottoms and I was up all night with the smallie who was super congested and punishing me for her inability to feed and breathe at the same time by covering my chest in snot.

I was just starting to feel in control of it all this morning when Tiny One let loose and shat all over herself, which wouldn't have been so bad had she been wearing a nappie. Unfortunately, this was not the case as she was "airing out" and I didn't notice until she'd covered her legs and feet in a fine layer of slimy, yellow pooh.

I have a spa coupon I was given for my birthday that I am desperate to use, but at this point would settle for five minutes uninterrupted in the bathroom or a shower where nobody tries to "clean" my feet with a toothbrush.

The only "current" events I am aware of are the ones that are "currently" happening right in front of me.

See you on the Ark...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wash n' Go

Our washing machine is broken.

The last time this happened, we were footloose and fancy free with not a care (or child) in the world.

Do you know how disastrous a broken washer is in a house with two small children? Well, allow me to recap a few highlights of the last 48 hours:

1. The small one has become an absolute pro in the ever popular game of "eat waaaay more then your tummy can hold and then spew it up all over yourself, the furniture and anyone who happens to be within spewing distance." Once your tummy is empty, latch back on and repeat as often as you like until boredom overtakes you or you fall asleep, whichever comes first.

2. The Snot Queen is Teething. Again. This time, she's added explosive nappies to her repetoire of teething talents. Nappies so explosive that her clothes need changing every time she fills one. Thank you love. Much appreciated.

3. At some point during our walk this morning, she also found a lovely pile of doggy feces in which to rest her weary laurels, along with her boots and the bottom half of her pants...

4. And did I mention that the small one is in cloth nappies?

Oh well! If worse comes to worse, we can always turn up the heat, let them run around naked and then just hose them down before bed...

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Most (un) Wonderful Time of the Year...

It's that time of year again...

No, not Christmas (despite what the shops would have you believe. All right boys! Move out Halloween, roll on Christmas!)

Not Halloween either (Did you not see the unbreakable Christmas tree ornaments in aisle two?)

Too late for back to school...

And waaaaaaaaaay too early for Easter eggs (Does anyone else find it kind of sad that Cadbury's eggs can now be had all year round?)


It's that OTHER time.

The time that involves lots of disinfectant and tons of arms length cuddles.

Yup. T'is the season for the stomach flu. It came in the middle of the night (sneaky bastard) uninvited and unwanted. We awoke to the sound of the snot queen whinging in her sleep and immediately moved her to the cozy spot between us in the hopes that she wouldn't wake the tiny one.

The whinging continued.

It was about this time that my mommy senses started tingling.


Two seconds later ...BLECH! The warm feel of vomit all over my back and neck.


The rest of the night was spent in a loop that went of like this. Whinge whinge... PUKE! ....Cry... Clean child, bedclothes, towels... get new ones out of the press... cuddle at arms length... dodge pukey kisses in the nicest way possible... turn off light.... doze....

whinge...whinge.... (Repeat as necessary)


The vomit comet rides again.

Get your tickets now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life Before the Alarm

Ha Haaaa! The new plan is a success! Sort of. You see, I recently came to the conclusion that being a stay at home mom/ not so domestic goddess with two smallies under the age of two is not exactly conducive to the finishing of a manuscript.

Not during the day at least. It seems that the dynamic duo have picked up on my wanting to do something other then cater to their every whim and together have decided to thwart my plans of personal productivity (mmmmmm.....I looooooovvvve alliteration.)

So writing during the daytime is now out.

So how about the night time? what's wrong with that? Handsome J is home to help with the smallies, surely that could buy me an hour or two of quality working time?

Again, no.

You see, by the time supper's eaten and the girls are bathed/changed, it's bedtime for the Snot Queen and time for the Small one to start her nightly "quest for the Breast" in which she makes sure that her mammarian mates are well within suckling distance should the need arise, which it does... the second I open my files and set down to business.

Add to that the fact that himself actually likes us to spend time together as a couple and not just as two child maintainers on opposing shifts and night time is pretty much a no go too.

There just aren't enough hours in the day/evening.

Which leaves the morning.

Yup! I have discovered that yes virginia, there is life before the alarm goes off. A whole great, big chunk of baby free, just for me time to write and edit to my little heart's content.

Which leaves the rest of the day (and night) free for babies, blogs and the boyfriend. Oh, and tweeting.

Yes Jen, I finally caved.

Does that make me a total twit?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wanted: Connections

Want to hear a great way to light a fire under your arse? Get an early morning tip off from a friend that someone else is working on THE EXACT SAME PROJECT THAT YOU ARE!!!!! And by someone, I mean a certain website where I discussed my book and found volunteers to help me out with it. I'm sure that this is merely a coincidence of course and that they're not a bunch of GREAT BIG IDEA STEALERS!!!

Either way, it definitely got me moving and had me looking up agents quick haste. It was while looking up said agents that I came across this article in the Irish Independent in which one of the country's few literary agents explains that, 'recommendation has become increasingly important nowadays. "We have a lot of personal recommendation, word of mouth, or established, but unagented, authors approaching us." '

Hear that splushing sound?

That was my heart hitting the floor.

I know nobody.

I have no connections.




what's worse is that I'm (gasp!) not even Irish.

So how is an unconnected, transplanted Canadian supposed to get a foot in the door of the Irish publishing world?

Buy a pair of reeeeeeeeeeallllllyyyy long shoes :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

How I'm Feeling


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waste of Money

Funny enough, I had a dream last night that myself and Irishmammy were protesting cuts to child benefit and were each given a chance to talk to Brian Cowen after which we each agreed that he was a lovely man and it was a shame about his shit policies and grotesque incompetence at running the country.

I woke up this morning and checked my facebook only to find this latest news from PACUB (parents against child unfriendly budget) Apparently, a member of the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) had made a comment that child benefit (which our lovely government has decided to cut by 20% as well as doing away with the Early Childcare Supplement) was "an incredible waste of money"

The girls at PACUB were also kind enough to provide this person's email. I can only imagine the number of letters she received on the issue...

Here, for anyone interested, is mine:

Dear Ms. Kearney,

As a stay at home mother of two young children, I am disgusted by your comment that child benefit is an "incredible waste of money."

Over the past 8 months, my family's monthly income has been hit time and again, first by the slashing of the ECS and secondly by the hiking of the pension levies. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination. With a monthly income in the area of (as if I'd put that in my blog!), by the time we remove our rent and bills, without child benefit and the ECS we are left with approximately €500 to cover such luxuries as food for ourselves and our children.

The proposed 20% cut to CB and the 2010 slashing of the ECS will mean a further 17.7% loss of income to my family.

Child benefit has acted as a great cushion to our family. It allowed me to take my oldest daughter to the gp when she was ten months of age and contracted measles and again when she was 15 months and contracted scarlet fever. My second baby came down with what appeared to be measles at ten weeks of age. Again, thanks to child benefit we were able to take her to the doctor. When I was heavily pregnant and and in need of emergency dental work, it enabled me to seek out the services of a dentist.

Child benefit and the ECS help to make up for the income lost by our decision to raise our children ourselves.

It offers us security in the winter months when the cost of heating is higher. It helps cushion the blow when it comes time to pay the car tax and car insurance on a vehicle we may no longer be able to afford once the Carbon Tax comes into play. It helps to cover the cost of shoes and clothing for two quickly growing girls and one day will pay for things like school fees and uniform costs. It is vital when unexpected expenses arise.

In almost every study looking at national schemes in EU countries which contribute to the growth, development and education of children, Ireland is consistently ranked in the bottom rung, if not dead last. We have the lowest number of obstetricians per population, our maternity hospitals are bursting at the seams and dangerously understaffed, we offer no paid paternity leave and our maternity pay ranks amongst the lowest in Europe. Even England, who are regularly cited as the worst EU country in which to raise a child have the decency to offer a National Health Service which takes the financial burden of doctor visits off of struggling families.

Our breastfeeding rates are abysmal, as is the support offered to breastfeeding mothers who often have to pay for the services of private lactation consultants or else shell out the ever increasing cost of a gp visit to help them out in the early days. The state of our schools can only be described as criminal and the current and proposed cuts to education are doing nothing at all to rectify the situation. Instead, they are making an already awful situation even worse. The near complete lack of state subsidized childcare is ridiculous and the proposed year of government funded "playschool" is a joke as most playschools cannot afford to take the loss this program would force on them and offers NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER to parents like myself who are taking care of their children themselves.

Child benefit is one of the few things this country has done right by it's children and you call this a "Waste of Money?"

The proposed cuts to Child Benefit combined with the 2010 scrapping of the ECS will only further Ireland's race to the bottom when it comes to the education of and provision for, our Nation's children.

I am ashamed to live in a country where the bailing out of banks and the obscene pay offs of disgraced public officials is seen as necessary and our children's well being an "incredible waste of money."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unproven Theory and hot mamas...

Okay, so I know that I'm only supposed to be writing about well, my writing, but OH MY GOD!!!! the Universe keeps sending little events my way that just SCREAM "BLOG ABOUT ME!!!!! PUHLEEEEASE!!!!"

For starters, I am yet another step further from being a licensed driver. Having failed my theory test on the first go, I was determined that despite having NO DESIRE TO DRIVE WHATSOEVER (can you hear me love?) I would give the test another go and learn to operate a motor vehicle.

I read the damn book from cover to cover. I learned everything there is to know about driving on Irish roads, which, considering I'm a Canadian and don't even know the rules of the road there is pretty impressive stuff indeed.

I learned that if you want to take the third exit off of a roundabout, you approach from the right hand lane and that those upside down triangles painted on the road at T Junctions are not, as I previously thought, arrows which for reasons unknown never seemed to point the right direction, but are in fact yield signs.

I learned so much that no matter what page you turned to, I could tell you exactly what was on it and how it applied to driving a car in Ireland.

I arrived at the test centre full of beans and greeted the test adjudicators with what some may deem an inappropriate amount of affection. I sat down at my assigned terminal and waited with confidence for my test to begin.

As soon as the first question appeared on the screen, I felt my confidence wane. Question two gave it a desperate beating and question four had me wondering if I was taking the correct test. Surely these questions were wrong! surely there'd been a mix up of sorts! I'd read that book from cover to cover and NONE OF THIS CRAP WAS IN IT!!!!!

How the hell should I know when it's appropriate to use a hand brake?!?!?! I'm not a bloody mechanic! That's the kind of thing you learn AFTER you've passed your theory test and have moved onto LEARNING HOW TO DRIVE!!!!

How the hell should I know what the imaginary cyclist plans on doing when the cycle lane ends?!?!?!? I don't know them! They're IMAGINARY!!!!!!!!

Within the first ten minutes I knew I'd wasted another 33 euros. This was ridiculous. a complete and utter disaster. So it was no surprise when the nice lady who I'd practically hugged upon arrival called me in for my results and the first words out of her mouth were "I'm sorry, but..."

Yup. I'd failed yet again to pass a test that thousands of kids almost HALF MY AGE manage to pass on a daily basis. Not only that, but I let them know it wasn't my first time by screaming "AGAIN?!?!?" as she handed me my rejection letter. Smooth one.

My second bit of "Blogworthy News" occured yesterday afternoon when I was putting the girls down for a nap. I was watching E! Network's "15 Hottest Hollywood Moms" (not recommended when you still have another stone to lose and can't quite remember whether or not you've had your daily rinse. To call it a shower would be a stretch.) which was of course filled with the usual line up of tall, thin, ridiculously wealthy stick insects who managed to spit out babies on a monday and be bikini ready by Friday.

My favourite moment had to be when in one breath, they lauded Angelina Jolie for being such a hands on mom and then in the next breath went on to talk about her FOUR FULL TIME NANNIES!!! Um... Hello? Reality? I'd like to order a check please!

So yes, those are the bloggy things I've been dying to talk about, as far as my writing goes, I did manage to get an hour or two of editing done yesterday as well as a few emails sent out. Today, if the stars line up and the gods smile down on me, I'm hoping to get a survey put together about birth choice in Ireland, an email prepared and sent to the head of breastfeeding and more work done polishing the section on Homebirth.

Hope all is well with you!

Mammy x

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back to Work


The time has come.

It is time for me to get off my arse and get down to work. The "Mammy Diaries" has been stalled at Just under 100 000 words for the last month or so and as the writing fairy seems to be missing in action along with the editing fairies and the Pitching to Publisher elves, I suppose I'd best be getting back to what I've been supposed to be doing all along...

Finishing the damn book.

I won't stop blogging all together (I think my heart just stopped for a minute), but the focus for the next while will be on my progress so as to keep me on the straight and narrow. Please feel free to continue along with me as I finish the final pages, edit the bejaysus out of the entire thing and then package it up to send out to agents and publishers in the hopes that somewhere out there is someone who sees that yes, there is room on the shelves for one more...

Right so.

Party's over!

It's back to work

Saturday, October 3, 2009

And I love him so...

It was the sound of suckling that awoke me. That incessant "slurp, slurp, slurp" which all parents know as infant speak for "I'm hungry. Feed me now and nobody gets hurt. Wait 2 seconds and I will scream so loud that birds will fly from the trees and worse, the snot queen will wake up thinking it's time to start the day."

It was 5:30 in the morning. On a Saturday. Forgive me for wanting to sleep oh great infant overlord.

Twenty five minutes of enthusiastic guzzling later, I made the mistake of shifting my position causing her to momentarily lose her latch. This resulted in the aforementioned almighty roar which, while I am uncertain of it's effects on local birdlife, had the very unfortunate result of a very cheerful, instantly alert sounding "Bahbee?" from the other side of the room.

The Snot Queen was awake.

For the next three hours, the girls played a horrible, vicious game of "sleep tag" whereby one of them slept while the other did their best to keep mammy awake.

At eight thirty, they called time on their shenanigans and bright eyed and bushy tailed, declared the day open for business.

I on the other hand, was a snarling, rather feral looking creature who wanted nothing nothing more then to wring the necks of each of my offspring as well as that of their well rested father, who took one look at the blood lust in my eyes and suggested - rather wisely - that I stay in bed just a little bit longer and he'd take the girls downstairs.

Being the calm, reasonable soul I am, I immediately rejected his offer, bit off his head and spat it disdainfully on the ground before seeing sense and diving back under the duvet and falling promptly into a coma.

At eleven o'clock (and in the middle of a dream involving David Letterman, my family and a pair of tights that had, amongst other things, a man's face complete with protruding nose printed on them ) I was awoken by my partner who then served me breakfast in bed complete with a wine glass of orange juice before returning downstairs to the tiny terrors.

What can I say?

I'm a lucky woman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Awards Season AGAIN!!!

Ooooooh!!!! Yay! My humble blog has been the recipient of TWO more awards this week!!! Thank you so much to Nicole at the young mama blog for my second Lovely blog award (It's down in my awards section). Now for some cut and pasting...

The rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award" are:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are my choices:

Okay, So I'm slightly altering this one and using this as an opportunity to highlight some of my favourite blogs, new AND old:

1. ArtyFeminist : I love her. She is one fab mama with a GINORMOUS brain and loads of creativity and passion to boot! Not to mention some scrummy recipes...

Right, from now on, may have to cut and paste some descriptions as girsls are making those horrible "We are waking up soon..." noises.

2. Feminist Childbirth Studies reflections of a literary scholar, mother, and aspiring birthworker on pregnancy/birth/parenting, our culture's (often-disturbing) stories and assumptions about reproduction and women's bodies, and birth's astounding potential for power, passion, beauty, humor, subversion, romance, healing, and joy

3. Freelance Mam

Okay, the hyperlink went mad so I'll write about freelance mam here. She describes her blog as "
My efforts to establish myself further as a writer, amidst the chaos of two small boys and a day job"

I describe it as lovely! Full of useful information as well as great stories.

4. PositivelyNeuroticMe

FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY!!!!!!!! And occasionally so heartbreaking I cry... Amazing woman, amazing blog. Need I say more?

5. Jen's Rantings

She reminds me of me. I love her. Does that make me vain?

6. WannabeDad

Okay, So I think I gave this to you before but I really think more people need to find you:)

Numbers 7 and 8 already have followings in the ridiculously high numbers, but on the off chance you haven't found them already...

7. Xboxfornappyrash

It is not fair for one man to write so well. I am very, very, verrrrrry jealous of his talent :)

8. Let's have a Cocktail

Verrrry witty woman...

9. HotCrossMum
'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

10. A little Messed up
Congrats on the Pregnancy and the fab blog!

Right. I'm going to break the rules and stop there as I still have another award to get to and one of the babies is waking up...

Thank you Hot Cross Mum for the "I love your Blog" award. Hee Hee! I love yours too! I also love tinygreenmama, madmammy, mommybrain, and sunshineandbubblegum.

Now for seven things about me!

Actually, I'll have to do that later. Baby number two is up and wanting some mama love!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tiny Dancer

My baby is a dancer.

This is something we've always known. Put on anything with even the vaguest semblance of a beat and she's off. Rock, country, showtunes, whatever.... if it has a beat, she's got the moves to match.

It doesn't even have to be music. Mid way through the rinse cycle, our washing machine has a tendency to rock out of it's own accord and everytime, without fail, the snot queen will stop what she's doing and rock out with it.

So imagine her delight when we took her to her first wedding this weekend.

"Ecstatic Bliss" does not begin to describe the joy that emanated from her tiny body as the band began to play and hundreds of people took to the floor to dance.

How, in all her 20 months of life on this earth, had such an extraordinary phenomenon as this existed without her knowledge? How long had people been meeting up to shimmy and shake and make such a joyous sound? And WHY oh WHY had we, her parents, kept her from them?

Well, she more then made up for lost time on Saturday night. From the moment her miniature mary janes hit the floor, she was off. She boogied with the best of them and screamed in protest if we so much as hinted at taking a break.

There was no end of suitors willing to partner her. Family, friends and complete strangers, she was anyone's for a song.

She even seemed to have an inborn knowledge of dancehall etiquette, turning to applaud the band at the end of each number. The seeds of a true groupie were sown as she lay prostrate on the floor in front of the stage making eyes at the lead singer.

At eleven o'clock, long past the hour she should have been in bed, we finally bundled up the little diva and took her home where she spent the next 12 hours in a dance induced coma.

And if there was any worry about her taste of the bright lights spoiling her for the simple pleasures of home, it was wiped away this morning as the rinse cycle started and her hips began to sway...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Power of Objects

There is nothing quite like the sense of foreboding one gets from ordinary household items once one becomes a parent.

Today's example? The lid from the jar of nappy cream resting on the arm of the couch sans rest of jar.

Pre children, this item would actually not be found in my house, however, had it's lid somehow been discovered there, the worst case scenario would have involved a jar of nappy cream with a dusty top layer. No biggie.

Add a few kids to the mix and that lid will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand nice and tall as the end result usually involves you, following a sticky, white, hand - printed trail around the house until you discover the culprit sitting on the kitchen floor, happily consuming whatever cream has not been used to coat their entire body.

Well, at least she's getting her zinc.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


If you could open up my head right now, you would be blown back by the force and sheer volume of thoughts and emotions that would hit you like a truck and leave you lying dazed and confused wondering, "What the hell just happened?"

I'm having one of "those" days. The days where nothing makes sense and everything seems to either irritate or frustrate me or else seems hell bent on getting in my way. It's the kind of day where everyone needs something and there isn't enough of me to go around and god help you if you dare to even THINK or BREATHE the wrong way because I WILL notice and I WON'T be amused.

It's the kind of day where I have arguments in my head over things that not only have not happened, but which I have no real reason to believe ever will aside from the fact that I'm completely out of sorts and have lost all control over the thoughts that are spinning and shooting forth, completely unchecked, from my mind.

I feel like an overtired child.

I am an over tired Adult.

I want someone to come along and pick me up and with no expectations whatsoever to rock me in their arms until the sobs become sniffles and the sniffles, soft snores and all the thoughts that are racing will stop and fade away to be replaced by dreams as I feel my body relax and my mind let go and I fall so gently, asleep.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To print, or not to print...

My Printer hates me. I have a small window known as “naptime” in which to print off and edit several hundred pages of musings on various “birth and baby” related topics (Today we do the third trimester and all the joys that go with it, hello perineal massage!) this would be fine were it not for the small matter of my printer refusing to do the job for which it was named, i.e print the damn lot! Sigh... Oh well, think I'll take advantage of the quiet and have a cuppa.

Technology hates me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Oh God! I feel like I've been hit by a truck... What is WRONG with me? My head hurts, my body hurts, my eyeballs feel like they weigh about two stone each and everything around me is just a bit too fast and a bit too loud.

Am I dying? Is it the plague? Is it Swine Flu?


Wait a minute.

I'm the mother of a baby going through a growth spurt.

A Growth spurt which involves her feeding all. Night. Long.

Yeah, yeah, I know... Night time is when the milk is at it's most nutritious. Hence her hoover like latch which does not let up until the morning light streams through the curtains and big sis is ready to get up for the day while the tiny terror falls into a milk induced coma.

I know, I know, I know.

That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Night feeds suck.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shanty Town Part Two: The Reno's

The Artist at Work... Putting on the finishing touches.

Et Voila!!!

Home Sweet Home

Yup, we wallpapered the interior with pages from the Argos catalogue...

Shanty Town

This is what happens when you are sleep deprived, have some spare cardboard on hand and have a "great" idea....

Yup, I've built my daughter her very own shanty...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

Have you ever read a book that so echoed your own thoughts and beliefs that every page had you screaming, "Yes! Yes! That's me!!! Omg! That's EXACTLY what I think!"

Well, for me, that book has to be Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution." It was recommended by a friend back when the Snot Queen was small and the tiny one wasn't even a glimmer in my eye.

As I've mentioned before, I had a lot of ideas about parenting that changed dramatically with the birth of the Snot Queen. Controlled Crying is yet another gem that made perfect sense to me BEFORE I became a parent.

The idea seemed simple; Put the baby down, let them cry for a few minutes, go in, offer comfort and leave. Repeat until baby gets the message and eventually gives up and goes to sleep.

Key Phrase: Gives up

Babies cry for a reason. It is their way of communicating that something in their world is not as it should be. They may be hungry or tired, scared or in pain. Bottom line is that something is wrong and they need you. When they are left to "cry it out" the only message they recieve is that no one cares and so they eventually "give up" trying.

The thought of a small, helpless infant left to their own devices was more then I could bear and yet every parenting book I picked up all seemed to offer their own variation of letting your small one cry. It might work for a lot of other parents, but it wasn't something I was prepared to do.

Then I found Elizabeth Pantley ( I love, love, LOVE her!)

Her book not only offered effective ways of helping your child to sleep without resorting to controlled crying, it also took into account factors such as breastfeeding, cosleeping and other elements of attachment parenting which other books either glossed over or ignored altogether.

I have, with the author's permission, reprinted the introduction to "The No Cry Sleep Solution" It's nice to know that there IS an alternative.

Sweet Dreams...

Buy the book at Amazon:
USA | Canada | UK
Introduction To The No-Cry Solution

This groundbreaking new book explains the exact steps you can take to gently help your baby sleep through the night. So, prop your eyelids open, grab a cup of coffee, and let me explain how this book can help you to help your baby sleep — so that you can get some much-needed sleep, too.

How do I know so much about children and sleep?

I am the proud and lucky mother of four children who shine the light on my life, whether they're asleep or awake. There's my firstborn Angela, now 14, and leading me into the (so far) delightful experience of mothering a teenager. Not far behind her are 12-year-old Vanessa and 10-year-old David. And then there's two-year-old Coleton…ahh, Coleton. Our little treasure of a surprise who reminded me of all the wonderful things I love about babies. And who also reminded me that with babies… come sleepless nights.

While I was in the process of convincing Coleton to go to sleep at bedtime — and stay asleep, all night — I discovered many wonderful, practical, loving solutions. As an author and parent educator, I take pleasure in sharing these with you, in hopes that you'll get some shuteye, too.

How The No-Cry Sleep Solution can help you

Through months of research, personal experience, and working with 60 test case families, I have assembled and organized a wide variety of gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night. The ideas do not involve letting your baby cry — not even for a minute. You will create a customized plan for your own family based on the ideas, all within a simple and easy-to-follow framework. It's a method that is as gentle and loving as it is effective.

Let me tell you why I became passionate about writing this book:

Fourteen years ago, when my first child, Angela, was a baby, I faced your dilemma: She did not sleep through the night. On the contrary, she woke every two hours for my attention. As a new, inexperienced parent, I searched for solutions in books, articles, and conversations with other parents.

I soon discovered two schools of thought when it comes to babies and sleep:

1. One side advocates letting a baby cry until she learns to fall asleep on her own.

2. The other side says that it is a parent's job to nurture the baby — all day and all night — and eventually, when your baby is ready, she will sleep through the night.

In a nutshell, the two methods can be summed up as “cry it out” or “live with it.” I wanted neither. I knew there had to be a kinder way, a road somewhere between nighttime neglect and daytime exhaustion that would be nurturing for my baby and for me.

Those many years ago, I felt guilty and selfish when I began to wish for an uninterrupted night's sleep. To reconcile my own instincts regarding Angela's nighttime needs with the fatigue that hampered my daytime parenting was nearly impossible. Time passed, and eventually my daughter did sleep through the night — but not until after her second birthday.

“Cry it out”

Advocates of this method make it sound so easy: A few nights of crying, and your baby will be sleeping all night, every night. If only it were so simple! My research has shown that very few parents experience this effortless success. Many deal with weeks of crying for hours each night (for baby and parent, in many instances.) Some have babies who cry so violently that they vomit. Some parents find that the nighttime crying affects their babies' daytime personalities — making them clingy and fussy. Many find that any setback (teething, sickness, missing a nap) sends them back to their night waking problems, and they find they must let their babies cry it out over and over again. Many (if not all) parents who resort to letting their babies cry it out do so because they believe that it is the only way they will get their babies to sleep through the night.

My personal experience with “Cry it out”

At one point during Angela's period of sleeplessness, I did cave in to all the pressure from friends, family, and even my pediatrician, who recommended that “a few nights of crying” would solve our problem. (If you're reading this book, you know this pressure, too.) So one dreadful night, I did indeed let her cry it out.

Oh, I checked on her often enough, but each return visit struck me with my precious baby holding out her arms, desperately and helplessly crying, “Mama!” with a look of terror and confusion on her tiny face. And sobbing. After two hours of this torment, I was crying, too.

I picked up my cherished baby and held her tightly in my arms. She was too distraught to nurse, too distressed to sleep. I held her and kissed her downy head as her body shook and hiccupped in the aftermath of her sobbing. I thought, “This approach is responding to a child's needs? This is teaching her that her world is worthy of her faith and trust? This is nurturing?”

I decided then and there: They are all wrong. Horribly, intolerably, painfully wrong. I was convinced that this was a simplistic and harsh way to treat another human being, let alone the precious little love of my life. To allow a baby to suffer until she resigns herself to sleep is heartless and, for me, unthinkable.

I promised my baby that I would never again follow the path that others prescribed for us. I would never again allow her to cry it out. Even more, I vowed not to let any of her brothers- or sisters-to-be suffer the horrible experience we'd just endured.

And I never have.

Thirteen years later: The more things change…

At 10 months old, my fourth baby, Coleton, was not sleeping through the night. Following in his older sister's footsteps, and beating her record, he was waking nearly every hour for my attention. Now a mature, seasoned parent and professional parent educator, I found that my beliefs about letting a baby cry it out had not changed at all. I was certain that the intervening years would have produced new solutions. I thought I would find useful, concrete ideas in a book, and I began my search.

Nearly a month later, eyes glazed over with fatigue, I evaluated my finds. Before me sat a stack of articles and books — old and new — with the same old choice of two answers to my dilemma: Either let the baby cry it out or learn to live with it.

What experts say about the mutual agony of “cry it out”

I did find much new data that reinforced my abhorrence of letting a baby cry it out. Dr. Paul M. Fleiss and Frederick Hodges in Sweet Dreams: A Pediatrician's Secrets for Baby's Good Night's Sleep Lowell House, 2000) have this to say about such training programs for babies:

“A child cannot comprehend why you are ignoring his cries for help. Ignoring your baby's cries, even with the best of intentions, may lead him to feel that he has been abandoned. Babies are responding to biological needs that sleep 'experts' either ignore or deny. It is true that a baby whose crying is ignored may eventually fall back asleep, but the problem that caused the night waking in the first place has remain unsolved.

“The most sensible and compassionate approach is to respond immediately to your child's cries. Remind yourself that you are the parent, and that giving your baby reassurance is one of the joyous responsibilities of being a parent. It is a beautiful feeling knowing that you alone have the power to brighten your child's life and banish fear and sorrow.”

Kate Allison Granju, in Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child
(Pocket Books, 1999), writes:

“Babies are people, extremely helpless, vulnerable, and dependent people. Your baby counts on you to lovingly care for her. When she cries, she is signaling — in the only way she knows how — that she needs you to be with her.

“You know what it feels like to cry in fear or distress. It feels terrible. And it's no different for your baby. When your baby cries he experiences physical changes. His blood pressure rises, his muscles become tense, and stress hormones flood his little body.

“Babies who are subjected to 'cry it out' sleep training do sometimes sleep deeply after they finally drop off. This is because babies and young children frequently sleep deeply after experiencing trauma. This deep sleep shouldn't be viewed as proof of the efficacy of the [cry it out] method but rather evidence of one of its many disturbing shortcomings.”

Dr. William Sears, in Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep (La Leche International, 1999), says that letting a baby cry it out creates “detachment parenting” and goes so far as to warn parents against this approach:

“Parents, let me caution you. Difficult problems in child rearing do not have easy answers. Children are too valuable and their needs too important to be made victims of cheap, shallow advice.”

How does a baby feel about crying it out?

No one truly knows how crying it out affects a baby. After all, one cannot raise a baby twice and note the difference. And no one really knows how a baby feels when he is left to cry it out. Jean Liedloff presents a likely perception in her volume on anthropology, The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost (Addison-Wesley, 1977.) Here, she describes a baby waking in the middle of the night:

“He awakes in a mindless terror of the silence, the motionlessness. He screams. He is afire from head to foot with want, with desire, with intolerable impatience. He gasps for breath and screams until his head is filled and throbbing with the sound. He screams until his chest aches, until his throat is sore. He can bear the pain no more and his sobs weaken and subside. He listens. He opens and closes his fists. He rolls his head from side to side. Nothing helps. It is unbearable. He begins to cry again, but it is too much for his strained throat; he soon stops. He waves his hands and kicks his feet. He stops, able to suffer, unable to think, unable to hope. Then he falls asleep again.”

Renewed resolve, but tired nonetheless

So, reading all these books had strengthened my resolve not to let my baby cry himself to sleep. Nevertheless, with the perspective of experience, as a mother of four, I refused to feel guilty for wanting a good night's sleep. I wanted sleep. I wanted answers.

There had to be answers.

My research began in earnest. I searched the library and bookstores, and I took to the Internet. Observations and laments were easy to come by. But solutions? The same two schools of thought appeared over and over: “Cry it out” or live with it.

Parents, though, seemed to fall into only one category: Sleep-deprived and desperate. Here's how one mother described her condition:

“I am truly distressed, as the lack of sleep is starting to affect all aspects of my life. I feel as though I can't carry on an intelligent conversation. I am extremely unorganized and don't have the energy to even attempt reorganization. I love this child more than anything in the world, and I don't want to make her cry, but I'm near tears myself thinking about going to bed every night. Sometimes I think, 'What's the point? I'll just be up in an hour anyway.'”

Leesa, mother of 9-month-old Kyra

At this point in my own research, I began thinking that other parents going through the frequent-night-waking ordeal would have ideas to share. So I sought out those parents. And there, in the bits and pieces of conversations of personal experience, articles, books, and other sources, along with my own experimentations with my little Coleton, I began to find solutions. There in the interpersonal exchanges between parents who have tried every conceivable method, I began to find ideas that did not sentence a baby to hours of nightly crying. I found the solutions that offered more peaceful paths to the rest so desperately needed by the whole family.

I also researched the scientific reasons that babies wake up at night and dissected truth from fallacy. I picked apart the myriad solutions I'd read about, immersed myself in whatever I could find on the subject, and kept in regular contact with other sleep-deprived parents. Slowly, from the middle ground between the misery of crying it out and the quiet fatigue of all-night parenting, rose a plan - a gentle, nurturing plan to help my baby sleep.

I know because I've been there

Most books on babies and sleep are written by experts who, while well versed in the technical and physiological aspects of sleep, simply and obviously don't understand on a personal level the agony of being kept up all night, night after night, by their own babies ... or the heartache of hearing their little ones cry for them in the darkness. In contrast, I've experienced the foggy existence of sleepless nights. And having four unique children has afforded me the realization that, while it is possible for a very young baby to sleep all night, it is certainly the exception.

These "expert" books are typically complicated, difficult to read, and woefully short on solutions. I waded through stacks of books bursting with information about human sleep, but all lacked specific solutions to the sleeping-through-the-night-without-crying-it-out dilemma. Sure, the reader learns the mechanics …but still she's left wondering one basic question: How does she teach her baby to sleep?

To show you how things were going for me when I began working on my sleep concepts, this was Coleton's actual night waking schedule, logged on tiny bits of paper one very sleepless night:

Coleton's Night Wakings
12 months old

8:45 P.M. Lie in bed and nurse, still awake
9:00 Up again to read with David and Vanessa
9:20 To bed, lie down and nurse to sleep
9:40 Finally! Asleep
11:00 Nurse for 10 minutes
12:46 Nurse for 5 minutes
1:55 Nurse for 10 minutes
3:38 Change diaper, nurse for 25 minutes
4:50 Nurse for 10 minutes
5:27 Nurse for 15 minutes
6:31 Nurse for 15 minutes
7:02 Nurse for 20 minutes
7:48 Up. Nurse, then up for the day

Number of night wakings: 8
Longest sleep stretch: 1 ½ hours
Total hours of nighttime sleep: 8¼ hours
Daytime nap: One restless nap for ¾ hour
Total hours of sleep: 9 hours

And I did this for 12 months! So, you see? If you are there now, you really do have my heartfelt sympathy, because I have been there too. And I can get you out of that sleepless place, just as I did for my baby and myself. That's a promise.

I picked my way though ideas and options, experimenting and applying what I was learning. As my research progressed, so did our improvement. As Coleton began to sleep better, I was deeply involved in the research and writing of this book, so naturally, I continued to apply what I was learning. More time passed, and Coleton finally followed in his sister's footsteps and began sleeping 10 straight hours without a peep. (At first, I would wake up every few hours worried. I'd place my hands on his little body to feel for breathing. Eventually I realized he was just peacefully, quietly asleep.)

This is Coleton's log after using the strategies I'd learned during the writing of this book:

Coleton's Night Wakings

7:50 P.M. Coleton lays his head on my lap and asks to go “Night night.”
8:00 To bed. Lie down to nurse.
8:18 p.m. Asleep
6:13 a.m. Nurse for 20 minutes
7:38 Up for the day

Number of night wakings: 1 (Improved from 8)
Longest sleep stretch: 10 hours (Improved from 1 ½)
Total hours of nighttime sleep: 11 hours (Improved from 8¼)
Naps: One peaceful nap, two hours long (Improved from ¾ hour)
Total daily hours of sleep: 13 hours (Improved from 9 hours)

Amount of crying involved: ZERO

Here's a footnote that will please many of you. Throughout this entire process, Coleton continued to breastfeed and to sleep with me. Through my own experience and working with other mothers, I realized that co-sleeping/breastfeeding babies can sleep all night next to Mommy without waking to nurse, contrary to popular thinking. If you are determined to continue breastfeeding and/or co-sleeping with your baby, you might be able to do so and get some sleep, too!

My “Test Mommies”

Once I had found success with Coleton, I searched out other families who were struggling with their baby's night wakings. I gathered a group of 60 women who were enthusiastic about trying my sleep ideas. This test group is a varied and interesting bunch! When we first met, their babies ranged in age from two months to 27 months. For some, this is a first baby, some have older siblings, and one mother has twins. Some of the mothers work outside the home; some work only at home. Some bottle-feed, some breastfeed. Some co-sleep, some put their babies to sleep in a crib, and some do a little of both. They are all very different from one another - yet they are all exactly the same in one important way: When we first met, they were all struggling with sleepless nights.

These mothers dutifully completed sleep logs every 10 days and emailed me on a regular basis to keep me informed of their progress. They asked questions, (boy, did they ask questions!) and as we worked through my sleep plan, they provided the information and feedback that helped me refine my ideas. Read their interviews here.

Proof! It works!

At the start of our work together, none of the 60 mothers had babies who were “sleeping through the night” according to the medical definition of the phrase: sleeping a stretch of five or more hours without waking.

As the test group of mothers followed ideas in The No-Cry Sleep Solution:

By day 10, 42% of the babies were sleeping through the night.
By day 20, 53% were sleeping through the night.
By day 60, 92% were sleeping through the night.
Once these babies reached the five-hour milestone, they continued on with more sleep success, some achieving sleep stretches of nine to 13 hours.

You can sleep, too

There are no good reasons for you to live as a sleep-deprived martyr. There are ways to get your baby to sleep without resorting to all-night cry-a-thons.

In summary, I don't believe babies should be left alone to cry themselves to sleep. Or even left to cry as you pop in every 10 minutes to murmur comforting words without reaching out to touch him. But I also know that you can — gently and lovingly — help your baby to sleep peacefully all night long. So give The No-Cry Sleep Solution a try, and plan on seeing some wonderful sleep results.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill 2002) by Elizabeth Pantley

Monday, September 14, 2009

FOUR in the bed?!?!?!?

When I was pregnant on the Snot Queen, I had very definite ideas on how my baby would be raised.

Co Sleeping did not figure highly in these plans.

In fact, it didn't figure at all. As far as I was concerned, our baby would be sleeping in a cot, in its own room, from day one. I had read Gina Ford, well, skimmed actually... okay, I read the introduction where I was promised a perfectly timed eating, sleeping, pooping, contented little baby and then threw it aside to be dealt with later when I got to the boring bits, i.e the rest of the book.

At the time, it made sense to me. Babies were brand new people unaccustomed to the ways and means of our world. It was our job as parents to train them in these ways. They needed cots and nurseries, black out blinds and white noise machines. Above all else though, they needed ROUTINE.

Yes, that great, oft repeated word from every baby book ever written and whispered into the sweet shell like ears of new mothers all over the western world. Routine, like Jesus and low fat cheese spread, would save us all.

What I hadn't planned on was a week's stay in hospital after the baby was born. A week where night after night, my new little citizen would scream the ward down if I so much as pointed her in the direction of her plastic bassinet. It was on or around the fourth night into our stay that one of the midwives suggested I take her into the bed with me.

A week earlier, I'd have looked at her like she was insane and reported her for negligence. Good Lord! I had enough trouble with the concept of the baby in our room, let alone in our bed!

It's amazing what a little sleep deprivation will do to those hard set ideals.

It was the best. Night's. Sleep. Ever.

For the rest of my stay, myself and the tiny being who would eventually become known as the snot queen, slept cocooned together in my fuzzy red housecoat. Day and night, her warm little body would lie curled against me, rising and falling with every breath.

Once home, she spent a few nights in a Moses basket next to our bed. She hated the basket though and as it was I would invariably doze off during the night feed and wake up with her still in my arms.

We tried a cot with the same result, thinking maybe it was space she craved. It wasn't though, it was us.

By the end of month two, "Our Bed" officially became "The Family Bed" and I became extremely well read on the subject of co sleeping and its many benefits.

I learned about how, with proper safety precautions taken, co sleeping was a great guard against cot death. Babies who cosleep spend less time in what is known as "Level III" sleep, a deep sleep stage where apneas are most likely to occur. As well, during sleep sharing, the infant's breathing and heart rate line up with the mother's and should the baby have an incidence of apnea, the breathing of the parents would stimulate the baby to take the next breath.

Also, babies who co slept, were found to have far lower levels of cortisol, a stress related hormone.

I experienced for myself how much easier it made breastfeeding and would often wake to find she had latched on and fed whilst I was asleep.

Deborah Jackson, my favourite parenting author of all time, wrote a brilliant book on the subject called "Three in a bed" which I can't recommend highly enough.

When I found out I was pregnant on number two, friends and family who were "concerned" about our sleeping arrangements started making helpful suggestions about how the Snot Queen would have to be moved into a bed of her own and how the new baby should really learn to sleep in a cot.

We nodded and smiled and listened politely to everything they said.

In the end, we got a bigger bed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Because I'm Worth it?

It was what Oprah would call, "A defining moment."

It was early days in the love story that is me and J. We had just moved to Scotland together (as you do after five weeks together) and were looking at places to rent. The estate agent turned to us and asked what we did for a living. J listed off the field he was studying and named the company he had recently worked for before leaving Ireland.

Then it was my turn.

In the millisecond before I opened my mouth, I took a quick inventory of my life so far and this is what I came up with;

Age 15: I enter and place second in the Juvenile division of the Provincial Arts and Letters Competition for a Watercolour I'd painted.

That same year, I published two pieces in the largest province wide Newspaper in Newfoundland and also performed my work on Canada's National Radio Station, CBC.

Two months shy of my 18th birthday, I packed my bags and moved 1022 miles away to study at one of Canada's most prestigious Journalism schools.

Even though I never finished the course, I did spent an additional two years living and working in Ottawa where I starred in an Independant horror film, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Yup that's me in the catsuit...

I then upped and packed my bags again. This time it was off to the wild, wild west where I spent five years living and working in the Canadian Rockies. It was also where I got my first ever job in retail. Within a year, I was promoted to floor supervisor, I was then put in charge of shipping and three years after I started, was given my own shop to manage. Not bad for a beginner!

I couldn't stay put though, and so in 2004 hatched a cunning plan to tour the World. May 2005 found me in Ireland with a one year working Visa in my hand and a few hundred Euro in my pocket. Again, I worked my way to a managerial spot in one of the first jobs I got.

I taught myself to play guitar and write songs, to paint and write and take beautiful pictures. I did the photography work on a friend's album and performed in countless theatrical productions. I campaigned against landmines and raised money for charity. I spent 12 years in the guiding movement and can tie knots and put up a tent like nobody's business. I can even cook chicken underground!

All of this and more went through my head, but this is what came out;

" Oh, I'm pretty useless! Ha ha!"

The estate agent gave me an odd look and then continued on explaining how the sitting room converted into a bedroom when you moved the couch and pulled the bed out of the wall. J was horrified, both by the sitting room cum bedroom as well as by my less then stellar self description.

Useless. Twenty Five years on this planet and I didn't have the confidence to say one positive thing about myself.

What's worse is that I didn't see anything wrong with the statement. I tossed it off with a laugh and would have forgotten all about it if J hadn't called me on it there and then (and for the next four years, seriously, the man won't let it go!)

What was wrong with me that I couldn't talk about my accomplishments? That I couldn't be proud of what I'd done? What was it that made me look at all of the pieces that made up who I was and come up with "useless?" Why couldn't I credit myself for anything?

Because I didn't have a degree. I didn't have any "qualifications" for the things I did. I had no training and therefore, no validation.

Yes, I could paint wonderful pictures that won awards, but was I an artist? NOOOOOOO! Artist's go to Art School silly! Doesn't Count.

I'd been published, surely that made me a writer? NOOOOOOOO! I dropped out of Journalism School and besides, I hadn't published anything in years! I hadn't submitted anything either because of that... Doesn't Count.

Well, I play piano and guitar and write my own songs, surely I must qualify as a Musician? Again, no. No Training? Doesn't Count.

Even the position I had earned, that of Shop Manager, I couldn't declare myself as, because I no longer worked there, so it obviously didn't count.

That was my way of thinking. I didn't have a piece of paper, so it didn't count. Therefore, neither did I.

I passed up a lot of oppurtunities over the years because despite having the skills, I never had the qualifications and because I didn't have the qualifications, I didn't have the confidence to say "Hey! I can do this!"

Or even to try.

I'm writing about this today because even though I've come along way since that day at the house with the Sitting Room cum Bedroom, I still have moments of doubt, moments that hold me back from doing the things I want most.

I am in the process of editing 250 pages of a manuscript I've spent the last year working on. I still have more to add, but the bulk of the work is done and I know that if it's published, it will do very well.

And therein lies the problem...

Getting my book published means selling myself. My still (technically) unqualified self who hasn't submitted anything for publication in over ten years.

It means sitting down at my computer and writing a few hundred words about how great my work is and how deserving I am of their time and money. Look at me! Look at Me!

It is Me vs. The Estate Agent times a million.

I'm scared shitless.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Great Boobs of Fire

Well! It seems that breasts are to be the theme of this week's blogs...

What do you get when you combine a high fever, chills, mad dreams about Yes and No Campaigners for the lisbon treaty calling me out to a roundabout in the middle of the night to discuss the treaty's effect on parents, extreme thirst, aches, dizziness, nausea and oh yeah! GIANT ENGORGED BREASTS OF FIRE!!!!

That's right, mastitis.

The fun never ends...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Night Weaning: Part 2

There are certain things that no one tells you about breastfeeding. Things you have to discover for yourself.

Like the pain you will feel when trying to night wean your toddler.

When after weeks of "success," they suddenly wake screaming in the night. Wanting one thing and one thing only.

The one thing you can no longer give them because you know that it will undo the weeks of work that have come before.

So you try to comfort them in other ways.

You hold their arching body and dodge their grabbing hands.

You sing and shush softly, softly.

You read books.

You offer cups of expressed milk.

Which would be grand were it hunger that drove them...

You feel frustrated.

Why don't they understand?

It will be there in the morning, afternoon and even in the evening...

Just not the night, anymore.

Why does it feel like a battle

you against them

someone must win

and lose

why does there have to be a loser

You feel guilty, because they are so little.

If it were just the one, it would be different. You would feed them whenever, wherever...

But there is another mouth to feed...

a smaller mouth that needs you more.

So you do what you have to

to keep them both going...

But you don't talk about it, much. Because it's hard to explain that you don't want to stop. That you love feeding both of your babies, that it's not a matter of weaning one completely. That isn't what I want. It just seems sometimes, like there are so many people out there wondering, "what is she doing? Why is she still feeding her toddler? When does she plan on stopping?"

To say that I'm having any difficulty whatsoever invites floods of well meaning advice, always with the same solution.

It's okay to stop you know.

But I don't.

Want to stop that is.

But that is the only answer anyone seems to have whenever I hit a bump in the road, which contrary to popular belief, is not that often.

God I've gone off track here!

But I feel a lot better now.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Run Away with Me

I am not a runner.

I hate running with a passion that sears my soul and makes my eyes hurt.

It is a cruel and unusual punishment which certain lycra loving members of the population, namely runners, insist on calling "fun" but which I can only label as "Torturous."

So why on earth, you may well ask, did yesterday evening find me decked out in a pair of torn off sweatpants, a puke stained T-shirt (Baby puke. My standards of cleanliness haven't sunk THAT low) and a pair of Dunnes finest runners as I left the house at a speed some might call a "jog?"

Because I'm crazy.

Because at some point each year, I am blinded by the glow of health and brightly coloured spandex that emanates from the pavement pounding members of the local running club and decide that I want to join their ranks.

Never mind that I hate the feeling of my lungs burning out of my chest.

Never mind that this tends to happen within 5 minutes of leaving my house.

Every year, I decide to go for a run.

Every year, it ends badly.

This year was no exception...

I left the house at around 7:30. The kids were fed, the dishes had been cleared back and there was still an hour left before baths and bedtime. I had downloaded three Michael Jackson Tracks into my phone and had my headphones jammed firmly into my ears. It was slightly misty, but I didn't care.

I was ready.

For safety's sake, I figured I'd walk down the hill and start my run at the foot. Being uncomfortably aware of the less then stylish state of my clothing, I chose to walk down the grassy slope that was hidden from the main road way behind a load of trees and hedges. I also wanted to rock out a little to "Man in the Mirror" and preferred a certain measure of privacy in which to do that...

To say that the ground was wet is an understatement.

Do you know how slippery grass and mud can get after a week of rain?

Midway down the hill, I found out as I fell flat on my back and slid on my arse to the bottom where I was greeted by every walker, jogger and evening stroller in town.

Still, I was not to be deterred and set off at a limp to the nearest trail. The first couple I met moved to the side to allow me to pass. The dry side. My side of the pavement was covered in a giant puddle. No bother! I'd simply jog around it.

Remember what I said about wet ground?

It was like running through a bog. I was soaked to the ankles. The fun factor was rapidly diminishing as was my enthusiasm as I yelled out a few choice words.

Two more slip ups and a near miss with a car later and I was officially done.

I decided to take a short cut home in an effort to end the humiliation a little bit sooner. When I reached the end, it was locked. With a defeated sigh, I turned and headed back the way I came. Midway home I was passed out by the local running club.

Salt. Wound. Rub vigorously.

By the time I finally trudged through my front door, I was soaked to the bone. My arms were numb with the cold and any exposed skin was turning a funny shade of pink.

As I peeled off my wet clothes and stepped into a steaming hot shower, I vowed with passion, "NEVER AGAIN!!!!"

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

No More Stuff: One month in...

It's been almost a month now since I started the "no stuff" challenge so I'm well overdue for an update. I'm also overdue for a "Great Weight Update" but after last night's Dorito Date and Todays Chocolate finger fun.... well, let's just say that hell will have to freeze over (or else it will have to stop raining here in the south of Ireland) before I go anywhere near the vicinity of a scale any time soon.

Now, being a rather "frugal" (cough - cheap! - cough) person to begin with, the thought of buying nothing (or close enough anyway) didn't exactly fill me with fear. Quite the opposite in fact! I was rubbing my hands gleefully at the prospect of having an excuse to shop for second hand bargains and to use my own creativity and ingenuity to make do with what I already have or just plain make anything I need.

I've had shoes posted to me from a mother who's daughter had outgrown them. I in turn, sent two pairs of the snot queen's old shoes to another mam. We've traded toys with friends, made our own fun and switched the tiny one over to cloth nappies. We've also sold or given away several of our un-needed items on, a popular Irish parenting site.

I suppose the greatest realization that I've made is how little we actually need and how, with a little ingenuity, the things we want can be ours without costing the earth (in more ways then one!)

Ransacked: Part 2 - When babies are Quiet...

As you may recall, two weeks ago today our house was ransacked by tiny vandals. We thought we were safe, that they wouldn't strike twice. We were wrong...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking a turn for the positive

A great big THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!! To a little messed up who has bestowed this lovely Splash award upon my humble (um..yeah) blog which is normally given to "alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs." You have indeed turned around what was turning into a right ol' pity party of a day!

"(sob, choke!) I'd like to thank (sniffle, gasp) the academy... and my (SOB) for all of their (snort, slurp) love and....(sniff) love...and support....(sob) and... and... INSPIRATIONNNNNN WAAAAHHHHHH (cue complete emotional breakdown as I fall to the floor in a tearful, snotty, drooly heap and am carted off by large men wearing suits and ear pieces. )

Now for the fun part, where I in turn get to hand this award onto some other deserving blogs and hopefully bring a smile to their day.

Firstly we have Artyfeminist who's kind of pissed off today because some scumbag tried to steal her car.

Next up is claire at diaryofamadmammy who is having a rough go of it at the moment.

Thirdly is the ever lovely Jen at Jensrantings who is currently dealing with the tears of a toddler with a badly bruised toe (looooooove alliteration, it's like a hot oil massage for my soul!)

and finally, to mzbehavin at positivelyneuroticme who's humour makes me wet myself, strength makes me shake my head in wonder and whose story makes me grateful for all the blessings in my life.

I hope this brings a little sunshine to all of your days as you've brought so much to mine. x