Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I know it's a little early, but I don't know where else to turn. Do you remember last year I asked you for a little patience? Well, what I should have done was to ask you for a heaping dose of the stuff as I've gone and run clean out of it!

I mean seriously! I am going mad. As much as I love my girls, they are quickly turning my once lustrous locks a cold, steel, grey. My blood pressure is spiking on an hourly basis and my teeth are just about ground to nothing from the stress of it all.

Take for example tonight; After removing the tiny one from her precarious perch on top of the wheel of the old fashioned pram in the sitting room, which she was balancing on while trying to reach the empty cardboard box that sat within it, I headed back to the kitchen to continue screwing the child locks onto the cupboard doors.

Ten seconds later, my mammy senses were tingling and I went back into the sitting room only to find that my intrepid explorer had returned to her perch the moment I'd left and retrieved from the pram her true goal, my sewing kit.

As the snot queen merrily danced about the couch with a pair of scissors and her red headed cohort ran laughing around the room with a handfuls of needles, a red mist descended over my vision and I made a mental dash to the patience bank only to find it was empty. The well had run dry.

I lost it.

I cursed and swore and raced about the place grabbing sharp implements out of chubby hands and throwing my sewing equipment back into it's box with a vigour that was perhaps a little stronger then necessary.

I shouted and screamed about safety and danger and how they were NOT under ANY circumstances, to touch mommy's sewing box. The tiny one, who had already moved on to her next target, didn't take much notice of my ranting, but her sister did.

Her sister, who hadn't gone near the box until someone else had opened it, and who had been so happy to see me when I came into the sitting room and showed me her treasure, was now bent over the couch crying her heart out.

I felt horrible.

I bent down and pulled her into my lap and made the best comfort noises I could while guilt ate a ginormous hole in my belly.

Yes, what they'd been doing was dangerous. And Yes, they'd needed to be stopped, but did I really need to lose it like that?

So Santa, if you're listening right now and you've got a few spare bags of patience lying about the place, I could really use a few of them right about now.


Mammy x

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Put WHAT?!?!? WHERE??!?!?

Pre-Children, a blog title like that would have sent my mind racing for the dirtiest, raunchiest corner it could find.

Post children, the first images that come to mind undoubtedly involve mobile phones or other valuables of an electronic nature and a certain machine that goes flush.

Yesterday however, it was a recipe that had me asking that very question...

I was on the hunt for something quick, easy and healthy when I came across a recipe for quesadillas (yum!) that a quick glance showed to have no more then 5 ingredients.

Wraps/Corn Tortillas (yup)

A nice strong cheddar (sounds good)

mushrooms (ooh! Nice!)

jalapeno peppers (cause some like it hot!)

and bananas (uh...ex squeeze me? Come again?)

Yup. You heard me.


As in the fruit.

Pardon me for my culinary ignorance, but to be perfectly honest, the thought of bananas and cheese did not exactly float my boat. While my mouth did begin to water, it was more in the "I think I'm going to be sick" way as opposed to the more traditional "oooooh! Gotta get me some of that!"

So yes, I was more then a bit skeptical.

But then I continued to read the recipe and the woman who contributed it confessed to having the same doubts when she first saw it. she then went on to guarantee that the sweetness of the banana actually set off the cheesiness of the cheddar and that with a bit of salsa or guacamole on the side, the dish was a real winner.

So I gave it a try.

Mad and all as it sounds, she was right.

The banana and cheese quesadilla (even seeing it written together is just wrong) was a hit.

The gruesome twosome cleared their plates and asked for more.

My husband, who turned an odd shade of green when I told him what we were having, gamely gave it a go and surprised even himself by actually liking it (although he did say that he would have enjoyed it more had he not known about the bananas.)

I ate all of my own and then (because they're just so darn easy!) made another batch tonight to eat while watching the X Factor results show where, even odder then bananas and cheese co existing in a most harmonious way, Wagner lives to "sing" (and I use the word loosely) another week.

Will wonders never cease?

Now, for your culinary enjoyment, I give you....

Banana and Cheese Quesadilla

Place half of your wraps/tortillas on a baking sheet (or 2) sprinkle with cheese, mushrooms, jalapenos (opt.) and um... bananas.

Cover with remaining wraps/tortillas and place in the oven on about 180c/ 350f/gas mark 5 or 6 for 10 - 15 minutes or until cheese is melted

Serve with salsa and Guacamole and enjoy!

No, seriously, you WILL enjoy these!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Price of Peace

It is 8:00 pm.

Miracle of miracles, the Snot Queen is not running rings around the house high on batteries (or whatever it is that she runs on!) Instead, about a half hour ago, she disappeared upstairs with her dad for stories and bedtime.

Now, she did not go quietly. If I recall correctly there was much objection and demands for juice and "Ballerina Dolly," who is not, as the name may suggest a ballerina or any sort of dancer for that matter. She is instead the armless, knickerless, rather manly looking knock off barbie doll we picked up at a shopping mall for 3 euro last Saturday when we were naive enough to leave the house with her doll buggy but no dolly to ride in it.

Her wardrobe consists of a rather garish (is there any other kind?) silver mini dress and a pair of what, were she a real life woman, would probably be 9 inch hooker heels in scarlett red.

Very age appropriate.

Combine this with the pink faux fur coat she likes to regularly sport around the house whilst wearing mammy's heels that are far too high for even mammy to walk in and not much else, and I occasionally get a sinking feeling in my belly when I think about my eldest daughter's future career prospects.

But that is soul destroying fodder for another day...

Tonight is all about the sleep. The Snot Queen you see, has given up her daytime nap.

In exchange for a slight (re: MASSIVE) tendency to turn into something of an antichrist between the hours of 6 and 7 (am and pm that is) we now have a child who falls asleep each night at 7:30pm with nothing more then a couple of stories from daddy and the brittle presence of a plastic, amputee, drag queen to keep her company.

It took 2 years, 9 months and the better part of my sanity, but as I sit here writing these words and waiting for my husband to come back from the shop with a celebratory bottle of white and some cheese n onion crisps and , I can honestly say...

It was worth it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Style Watch

The Snot Queen has taken to dressing herself. She has been at this for a while, but lately has taken a much more militant stance when it comes to what she will (and more to the point what she WON'T wear)

Currently in are dresses. Not just dresses, but party dresses. Princess dresses. The kind of dresses sensible mothers keep wraped in plastic and save for special occasions. These have become her day to day wear.

A trip to the library? Hmmmmm.... Perhaps that little number she wore for our wedding last year...

Going to the park? Oooooh! The swanky New Year's outfit my Aunt bought her!

A trip to the shopping centre is deemed worthy of nothing less then the flamenco dress my sister in law picked up for her in Spain last year.

And her absolute favourite, wear it every day that it isn't in the wash, worn so many times the black velvet polka dots are now small grey smudges, is her Christmas eve dress from last year. Paired with a kicky little pair of bright pink sneakers and she's ready for anything.

Right now she's downstairs eating "Dragon Cereal" (better known as Tesco "Rice Snaps") whilst wearing a very mod looking pink and black belted mini dress complete with black leggings, a fluffy pink jacket with teddy bear ears and a winter hat.

Gok Wan, watch out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thoughts on The Day

Almost 12 hours later and I am still buzzing.

It was amazing. I was truly overwhelmed by the whole experience. I honestly don't think that I have even finished absorbing everything that happened today, but I'll do my best to write it out here.

About two weeks ago, I had the bright idea to sign up Cork City as part of the 2010 Quintessential Breastfeeding Challenge.

What with Ireland having the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe (we are however, top of the charts when it comes to the production of powdered infant formula!) and with many Irish mothers citing "being uncomfortable feeding in public" as reason not to breastfeed, this seemed like a great chance to:

a) show the country that public nursing is not "obscene," nor is it comparable with "pissing in the street," as one noted Irish Late night talk host and early morning radio presenter once suggested. and

b) create a supportive atmosphere for breastfeeding mothers to come and meet other breastfeeding mothers.

Well, the entire thing took on a life of it's own and over the course of the last week I have been inundated with calls from the media. We have been featured in every major newspaper, approached by two television networks and I was even interviewed on the radio (where one listener later texted in to say that my feeding the snot queen was "vulgar.")

One of the main questions people asked was, "How many mums to you expect to turn out on the day?"

Media Answer: "We have about 50 - 60 confirmed and are waiting on further numbers!"

Honest Answer: " There's a good chance it will just be me, my neighbor and a creepy looking man in a dirty trenchcoat taking "unofficial" photos for his non existent website."

I could never in a million years have predicted what really happened.

At 9:30, people started arriving. I figured that when things died down, I'd get the chance to sit and have a coffee, maybe grab a bite to eat.

They never died down. The line kept growing and we quickly ran out of sign up sheets and had to start writing on the backs of the old ones.

When 11:00am rolled around, we had 97 mothers, 106 nursing children, their older siblings and a strong showing of supportive husbands, partners and family members.

We spilled out of our allocated area and took over the entire upstairs section of the food court.

There were nursing mothers everywhere.

It was beautiful.

There was no shame, no worry, no desperate shushing of a child in the hopes that they would wait until you got home or found the "Nursing Room/change room/wheelchair toilet" which is generally a lonely place with a bad smell.

There was no looking around to make sure no one was watching before you latched your child on for a feed.

There was no apologizing to companions as you popped on a hungry child as if you were doing something wildly inappropriate and they were being extremely gracious for overlooking your public indecency.

There were just mothers and babies, families out for a good day. People mingled and chatted as though they'd known each other for years and the children played and slept and nursed and did all the other things that children do.

At one point, I was standing chatting away to another mother when the tiny one ran up crying as she'd taken a tumble and wanted a cuddle. Without missing a beat and without any awkward pauses, I whisked up my 28lb, 15 month old toddler, latched her on and continued on chatting as though nothing out of the usual had happened.

It was amazing.

It wasn't about "bottle bashing" and it wasn't about berating non nursing mothers for the choices that they've made.

Instead, it was about showing the country that nursing is normal. That the primary function of breasts is to feed children and that there is nothing wrong with making it an accepted part of public life.

Today we had almost one hundred women feeding their babies simulataneously in a shopping center in the heart of Cork City as though there was absolutely nothing odd about it. And guess what?

There wasn't.

Thank You

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to the 97 women, over 100 children and all of the proud papas who filled the mezzanine area of Mahon Point to bursting this morning at 11:00am. We more then surpassed our goals! To put it in perspective, last year in Ireland, around 75,000 babies were born. Of these, 41,250 were latched on after birth, 21,000 were still nursing at 4 months and 938 were still being exclusively breastfed at 6 months. To get 97 breastfeeding mothers and their children to simulataneously nurse in a shopping center in Cork City with ten days notice (a number which is equal to 10% of the babies who are exclusively feeding at 6 month) is nothing short of AMAZING!!!!! I am so proud of us all. It was incredible, it was beautiful, it was Natural. Most of all, IT WAS NOT OBSCENE!!!!! To the many, many mums who turned up on the day and to everyone rooting for us at home, to everyone who travelled from as far afield as Dublin and Galway and those from up the road, to the mothers of newborns, wobblers, toddlers and school age kids who came out and nursed their babies because it's the normal thing to do, Thank you. From the bottom of my heart (and boobs;D) I thank you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Irish Women aim to Set Breastfeeding Record!!!

I have organized "AN EVENT" (Please note the use of capslock to portray importance of said event.)

As part of World Breastfeeding Week (is it just me or does this week seem to happen fairly often?) I have signed up Cork City as a location for the 2010 Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge.

As I have been holed away at the computer and thus dodging my motherly duties for the better part of the last three hours, I'm simply going to have to do some cutting and pasting of my oh so fancy press release to fill you in on the details.

On October 2, 2010, breastfeeding women and children at sites around the globe will compete to set the record for the most children breastfeeding at one time.

Why this challenge? Breastfeeding has many well-documented benefits including better health for both mothers and babies. However, many women fail to meet their own breastfeeding goals and wean their children prematurely, well before meeting recommended guidelines. Two of the biggest hurdles for mothers continue to be lack of support and marginalization by the community.

Ireland has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world, if not the lowest of all. The Quintessence Breastfeeding challenge is a great way to show support for breastfeeding mothers and to reinforce the message that not only is breastfeeding the best way of feeding a child, it is the NORMAL way of feeding a child.

The Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge began in 2001 in British Columbia Canada with 856 children at 26 sites. By 2008, there were 7632 children in nineteen countries at over 300 sites with a total of over 20,000 supporters.In 2009 even though the H1N1 pandemic coincided with the Challenge,there were 4,766 children at 246 sites in 21 countries. We hope for even greater support in 2010!

This event takes place as part of the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding – just 10 steps referring to a WHO/UNICEF document which outlines in ten steps, key ways in which health care facilities and communities can support women to achieve their breastfeeding goals. One key step is welcoming mothers to breastfeed anytime!

The Breastfeeding Challenge is sponsored by the Quintessence Foundation, a non-profit group providing education to parents and professionals about breastfeeding.
The Cork area challenge is set for Saturday, October 2nd at 11:00 am in Mahon Point.

Check out (and Like!!!! Please, please like it and pass it along to your friends!) my hastily made facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=breastway&init=quick&sid=0.6764741685255888#!/group.php?gid=155336247828160&v=wall

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Look, Same great Taste...

In case you haven't noticed, I've been having more then a little trouble keeping up with my blog of late. It started waaaaaaay back in the spring of the year when I was nominated and then subsequently shortlisted for, an "Irish Blog Award."

It continued on through the summer when one by one, bloggers I'd grown to love packed it in and said goodbye to the blogging world.

I thought a lot about packing it in myself. I mean really, there's only so much I can say about teething and night wakings and all the other joys that go with raising a toddler and having said it all before with the snot queen, it really isn't so much of a shock when it comes to the tiny one (who incidently is cutting all four of her molars -

But I'm not ready to say good bye.

I'm not ready to throw in the blogging towel.

Instead, I'm having a re-vamp. Doing a bit of the old Trinny and Susannah if you will. Taking a new path, but still heading in the same old, mother and child friendly direction.

So stay tuned, because there's life in the old girl yet...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dear Moon...

Dear Moon, Whatever crazy tide/water/magic no sleeping effect you have on my daughter, could you please turn it off now? As much fun as surfing the internet is at 2:45am with a 14month old, I really would like some sleep... Thank you. x

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What are the odds?

My weighing scales are broken.

I'm not sure exactly what the problem is, maybe a loose connection? A low battery perhaps? Whatever, the end result is the same in that it keeps insisting that I am 9 pounds heavier then I actually am.

This wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that my measuring tape is off as well! I don't know how this one happened. Probably someone accidentally put it in the wash and shrank it and then panicked when they realized what had happened and so put it back in my sewing box exactly as they'd found it. No matter, the end result is the same. The numbers are now so close together that it is saying my measurements are a full inch BIGGER then what they should be.

It probably got put in the same load that shrank my pants last week and had me standing on the scales in the first place...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dear Volcano...

Dear Icelandic Volcano,


I didn't ask for much you know, just a few puffs of ash, maybe a little ominous rumbling, whatever... Just enough to close Irish airspace for a few days. But Noooooooooo.... Stupid volcano, you had to remain calm and settled and cool as a flippin' cucumber while my lovely, wonderful mom who I've gotten to spend the last five weeks with, got on a plane and flew back to Canada.


A few months ago, we couldn't PAY you to turn it off! My in laws got a week's extension on their holidays because of you! Oooh look at me! I'm a volcano! Fire and ash spewing everywhere! Spew, spew, spew, all day long. That's what I do! Irish airspace? HA! No one's getting in or out of there until I say so!

Everyday, the papers and tv's were full of you! You were everywhere!!! You couldn't spit without hitting yet another report of how you'd affected someone else's life/holiday/business.

Now though? When I really needed you?

Not a whisper.

Not even enough heat to toast a marshmallow.

You let me down Volcano.

And no, there's nothing you can do to make it up to me.

All I wanted was one more day (week, month, a year would have been lovely...)with my mom, but you couldn't even manage that.

Stupid volcano.

Your (disappointed) friend,

Maria x

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Lost art of House Husbandry

Must. Write. Blog.

Must. Come up with. Witty. Musings. On day to day life.

Must. Not. Get. Distracted. By.

A. Abnormally nice weather we've been having lately.

B. Blissfully relaxing new three seater swing in the back garden.

C. Life in general.

Honestly, you'd think that with my husband home full time, I'd now have oodles of empty hours in which to write to my little heart's content. Strangely, that does not seem to be the case.

For starters, said husband has needed a little training up in the art of House - husbandry. Lessons such as "Where to locate the washing machine and how exactly to operate it" and "Why having a lie in and then proceeding to come into the kitchen and turn on the internet while I'm busting my hump feeding the kids, cleaning the kitchen, creating world peace, etc... is likely to get you killed or at the very least seriously maimed," have been a complete and utter success!

In fact, I'm pleased to say that operation "House Husband," has - aside from a few small growing pains - been going very well indeed! My student is showing a particular proficiency in the area of laundry and every day becomes more and more aware of the chaos around him to which he was previously oblivious(Dirty dishes in the sink? Didn't see 'em! Giant pile of clothes on the stairs? Walked right over it!)

He is even... dare I say it? Beginning to self motivate. Just yesterday I caught him putting a load of nappies in to wash and for the last two weeks, the bedtime routine of the snot queen has been his domain while I've looked after the (not so) tiny one.

Things are going so well. I suppose I'm a bit afraid to rock the boat and throw him into the deep end (i.e in full charge of the house AND the girls for an extended period of time) lest he suddenly decides that this whole "at home" lark isn't all it's cracked up to be and does the unthinkable...

Goes back to work.

Registration for the next session of "House Husbandry" commences soon. Places are limited. Early booking is recommended.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Carpe Diem


Life is good.

I know, I know... Logically, this shouldn't be so. After all, if you look at the facts, i.e my husband's just lost his job and we have no idea when or where he will next find work, I should be feeling a little more tense, a little more worried...

But I'm not.

I love having him at home. I love spending time together as a family. I love knowing that when things get rough (as they tend to do regularly when you have small ones) that there's an extra set of hands ready and willing to chip in.

I'm enjoying my children more then ever because I'm no longer trying to do everything on my own.

I'm spending actual, quality time with my husband as opposed to simply seeing him as the relief team in the evenings and at times resenting him for not understanding how hard it is to be at home and how badly I need his help.

The girls are loving having him around all the time instead of merely for an hour or two in the evenings before bed and they're loving their new relaxed mama as well!

I know it can't last forever, but while it does, I'm going to grab onto it and squeeze for all it's worth.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

London Calling!

A trip?

A trip to LONDON?

A trip to London TRAVEL EXPENSES PAID?!?!?!?

A trip to London, travel expenses paid, with the chance of a free meal and SPA TREATMENTS?!?!?!?

Oh. My. God.

Yes dear readers, the good folk at Reebok have seen the great potential which lies within my dear sweet self and wish to whisk me away to London this weekend.

In my mind, I've already imagined the endless number of life changing scenarios which could arise. This one is my favourite;

Scenario A: The one in which I replace Kelly Brook..

The scene: A sports field in London. Hundreds of women in Reebok Gear are milling about. I stand on my own, a cheerful smile on my face. The head of Reebok approaches me. We make small talk and then he gets to the heart of the matter...

H.O.R: Kelly Brook isn't working out.

Me: What? But that's impossible!!! WTF? How the hell did she get an arse like that without working out?!?!?!? this is SOOOOOOOOO not fair!

H.O.R: No! No no no!!!! Of course she works out! Never leaves the gym in fact, except to do our ads! It isn't humanly possible to look like her and still have a life! What I mean is that her ad campaign isn't working out!

Me: Oooooh! Okay, that makes more sense...

H.O.R: (continuing on) She's just too damn perfect! It isn't realistic, no one in their right mind could ever expect to look like her simply by wearing a new pair of trainers...

(Stops. Stares at me. Points rather rudely.)

You! What size are you?

Me: About a 12?

H.O.R: You got kids?

Me: I do. Two.

H.O.R: Stretchmarks?

Me: Oh yes! Well, a few small ones anyway...

H.O.R: That frizz in your hair, is it Natural?

Me: Unfortunately yes...

H.O.R: You eat biscuits?

Me: Of course!

H.O.R: (Ignores me, keeps on talking.) ...hmmm....bit of junk in the trunk... no real sense of style... YOU'RE HIRED!

Me: Huh?

H.O.R: You're just what we need! Someone real, someone flawed, someone with a little jiggle in her wiggle... NO ONE can look like Kelly Brook, but ANYONE could look like you! Hell, even I could look like you! Young lady, how would you like to be the new face of Reebok?

Me: Okay!

H.O.R: Excellent! sign here, your truckload of money will be delivered in the morning. Thank you for saving my company! Now, would you like to join me for a celebratory lunch on my yacht?

End Scene.

Alas, I will not be meeting the Head of Reebok in London for life changing scenario A this weekend. In fact, I will be nowhere near London this weekend.

No London.

No free Travel.

No free meal.

No complimentary spa treatments.

Why, you ask?

IT's simple really. Mid way through writing my hyper excited acceptance letter to the good folk at Reebok, I remembered something.

My passport expired three months ago.

This alone was not enough to stop me and I immediately set about harassing the staff at the Canadian Embassy who were extremely accomodating and agreed that yes, a free trip to London was indeed a valid reason to get a temporary passport.

Unfortunately, this would involve an overnight trip to Dublin complete with hotel, passport costs, fuel costs, food, etc...

Not even I could justify this one.

Oh well! at least it's a kick to get my passport sorted!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A wee update...

You may be wondering where I've been lately.

The truth of the matter is, a lot of things have been happening in my life recently and for the last week or so, I've had to practice the ancient art of whatever the hell the opposite of multi tasking is or risk having my head explode into a thousand tiny pieces.

For starters, the recession over here in Ireland finally hit home as the funding dried up for the research project my husband was working on and we found ourselves joining the almost half a million Irish men and women who are currently unemployed.

Obviously, the situation is far from ideal, but we're making the best of it and have decided to look on the bright side and appreciate the extra time we can now spend together as a family. The girls are loving having their daddy around all the time and I've become very quickly accustomed to having an extra set of hands at my beck and call!

We've also grabbed the oppurtunity of having the both of us around to tackle the momentous occasion that is; THE TOILET TRAINING OF THE SNOT QUEEN!!!!!

Yup! That's right! After 2 years, 5 months and several thousand nappy changes, the time has come.

We tried it a few months back and she just wasn't ready, so we temporarily shelved it until about a month back when she started not only telling us when she was pooing, but taking it out of her nappy and showing us as well. After two weeks of chasing a poo covered toddler around the house and disinfecting our downstairs too many times to count... we finally put our game faces on and set to the task at hand.

Armed with a white board, a sticker chart, several different potties, toilet seat adapters and the tiniest knickers known to man, we got down to business and I have to say, it hasn't been nearly as scary as I thought it would be!

Sure we've had a few accidents along the way and sure not all of them have been in our house (at this time I would like to apologise to our neighbors for the “present” left to them on their walkway, the other one on their kitchen floor and the tiny one on their lovely white chair cushions in their kitchen... I understand completely if we do not recieve a Christmas card from you this year.) but over all, she's doing great, and it's actually kind of fun to really let loose and celebrate something several times a day... even if it is just a potty full of pee.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby

At this moment last year, I was on my knees in the room off the kitchen, howling like a woman possessed. I was, as the midwife had instructed me, screaming the baby out.

It was a very different birth to that of your sister.

For starters, it was at home. There were no wires connecting me to machines, no tubes of artificial hormones and antibiotics steadily drip, drip, dripping into my arm.

There was no midwife I'd never met before laughing at my desire for a natural birth or bullying me into making choices based on fear and exhaustion.

There was no epidural, no missing the force that drove through me like a train, letting me know that my baby wanted out and she wanted out NOW!

There was no efficient squeak of rubber soled shoes signalling the arrival of yet another random stranger popping in to check on things.

There was simply me, your daddy and our midwife, the same midwife who had visited me for the last nine months and who knew me and my history and my wishes (within reason) for this birth. Your sister was hanging out in the sitting room with nanny and grandad.

With each contraction, your father pressed the hot water bottle deep into the base of my spine as I focussed on the pain that was bringing you closer to this world.

I lost track of time and space, and then, at the very end, lost control of myself as you took matters into your own hands and emerged red and screaming. Mouth open, arms flailing.

I remember your daddy crying, "We have another daughter," as I leaned against the side of the bed, exhausted and shocked by what had just occured.

I won't lie. It hurt like hell and I was more then a little stunned by the force of it all. I stayed there for a moment or so, breathing deeply, wondering if I'd ever have the strength to climb onto the bed and hold you.

And then they handed you to me and I forgot about everything else as I stared at you, this wonderful little person I'd shared the last nine months with but had never actually met.

It was love at first sight.

I remember the feel of your little mouth as you latched on for the first time and the way your body curled into mine.

I remember our first night together, my arms wrapped around you as we slept, exhausted after what we'd been through together.

And now, a year has passed.

I don't know where the time has gone or how the tiny baby from that night became the big, strong girl who is sleeping in our bedroom upstairs.

You amaze me.

Happy Birthday Little One.

I love you so much.

Love mama x

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Before and After

Dearest darling daughter,

While I greatly appreciate your having a poo BEFORE you went to bed, I would have muchly preferred if it hadn't been AFTER I changed your nappy...


Your loving Mother

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lesson Learned

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The tiny one was set to "Super Whinge" as she only got about 8 hours sleep on account of deciding that 8:00pm was an unacceptable bedtime and that half eleven suited her much better thank you very much.

The Snot Queen simply hates to be outdone at anything and so cranked the whinge factor up to max in order to outdo her tiny cohort.

My brain was short circuiting and they had discovered my hideaway in the utility room.

It was time for drastic measures.

Two open cupboards and a roll of nappy liners later and the two were happily esconced in destroying what little order was left in the kitchen. There was nothing to hurt them in the cupboards and the liners could be thrown in a bag later so I felt pretty confident in turning my back on the two to answer a few emails and do a little facebooking.

Classic beginner's mistake.

Never turn your back on thine enemy.

My stress levels were just starting to return to something vaguely resembling "normal" when the sound of water splashing had them skyrocketing again.

Only it wasn't water.

It was soymilk.

A full litre of it to be precise, removed from the fridge by two year old hands and poured as carefully as a two year old can into a plastic mixing bowl which was now serving as a mini paddling pool for the tiny one.

Is it too early to start drinking yet?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer's Here! (and gone again...)

At 10:52 this morning, the Irish Summer began. From behind a rolling bank of grey clouds, a single ray of sun burst through.

Excitement began to grow inside of me...

Within a few minutes, the tiny hole grew and soon the sky was a glorious blue and the heat of the sun was causing steam to rise from my garden.

Quick as a flash, I had the clothes on the line and was filling up the kiddy pool.

The snot queen was running round the garden in all her naked glory, lapping up reams of vitamin D into her pale Irish limbs while her ginger sister slept away in a pouch on my back.

It was beautiful.

I raced inside to grab the last bucket of water for the pool and as I poured it in, a cool breeze floated chillingly round my legs...

I looked up in time to see the bank of grey clouds roll back into place, squelching the last of the summer's rays.

Irish Summer, 2010: 10:42am -11:37am

It was nice while it lasted...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pooh Stinks!




Here's a riddle.

What's slimy and beige with little black kiwi seeds in it and a stink that would curl your toes?

Hint: It's also all over the snot queen's hands.

Another Hint: There is a good chance that the entire sitting room will now need a good disinfecting.

Final Hint (Just for the hell of it!): The discovery was heralded by the snot queen holding up her hands and shouting "POOH STINKY!"

My 2 year old has made a new discovery. Poo. She is obsessed with it. Her own, her sister's and anyone else's she happens to come across.

She was delirious with joy when she found some of the cow's doings when we visited nanny and granda on the weekend and yesterday's walk home from the shops (a five minute journey for the average adult) took the better part of an hour thanks to the inconsiderate dog owners who regularly leave their animal's excrement on the foot path.

She has also discovered where poo comes from. Namely, her nappy, and insists on reaching inside everytime she does a number two to see what came out.

Next stop, Potty Training.

This should be fun...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Musings of a wannabe backflipper...

Mmmm... I was just sitting here thinking "I really should blog about something, but what?" When I took a mosey over to lookingforbluesky and lo and behold, she'd tagged me in a 15 things... meme. So here, for your enjoyment (and because I know you've been dying to know even MORE about me...) are 15 things you may not have known about me...

1. Things that scare me
I've decided to amend this one to read "Things that used to scare me, but don't anymore - or at least not quite as much!"

- Leaving the house without makeup on. Seriously. This used to be a very big concern of mine. I would love to go back in time and have a long, hard chat with my 22 year old self. Of course, no way would she listen to me, she'd be too distracted by my "desperately need to be plucked but my husband borrowed my tweezers to pull out a splinter three months ago and I haven't seen them since" eyebrows.

- Big spiders and flying bugs that sting: Okay, so I'm still working on this one, but I am getting better! Just last week, I evicted 2 bees from the house without doing the "Bee Dance" or singing/screaming the "Bee Song." I really don't want my girls to grow up afraid of these kind of things. I want them to be the really impressive women who scoop up spiders in their bare hands and release them into the back garden.

2. People who make me laugh
My big sister has always been able to make me laugh until I cried (or cry until I laughed depending on the circumstances!) In fact, my whole family is pretty funny. We're big subscribers to the whole "If you don't laugh, you'll cry!" way of living which tends to make places like funerals and Christmas Eve church services pretty awkward places to be...

3. Things I hate most



Excess packaging. Seriously! Was there any need to SCREW my daughters cheapo plastic BUBBLE MOWER into it's casing requring a SCREWDRIVER to get it out?!?!?!? WTF?

4. Things I don't understand
Why doctors don't receive more training in Nutrition and Breastfeeding.

Why we allow our governments to regularly screw us over royally and yet still keep them in their jobs while hundreds of thousands of us are losing ours.

Why my children don't get as excited about sleep as I do. Seriously? If someone came up to me and offered me 12 hours of blissful slumber, I'd be in my pj's and tucked up tight quicker then you can say "sleep deprivation is a cruel and unusual form of punishment!"

5. Things I am doing right now

Eating a bowl of chips fresh from the oven in my daughter's plastic "Best Kid ever" bowl which actually belonged to her daddy when he was a little boy. (All together now, "Aaaaaaw!")

Listening to Country Western Music on the internet. Yup. That's right. You heard me.
Good music is good music is good music. Be it country, rock, pop, jazz... whatever. No one could ever call me a snob when it comes to my music. I love it all!

Writing this list and thinking about going grocery shopping with the kiddos when they wake up.

Thinking about making myself a cappuccinno...

Listening to my neighbor mowing the lawn and smiling because it isn't raining and the forecast is looking good...

6. Things to do before I die

Learn to do a backflip.

Take a dance class.

Sing a song of my own in public.

Get published.

Do a tour of Europe.

Be a good example for my children.

Watch them grow up to be happy, healthy people with lives full of love, curiosity, peace, knowledge and adventure.

7. Things I can do

Sing and dance myself into a better mood when I'm feeling down :)

Make my daughters smile and laugh

Love my friends and family

Bring my feet over my back and head to touch my nose.

My best.

8. Ways to describe my personality





9. Things I can't do

Back flips - Yet...

Vote in Ireland - yet...

Leave the country - until I get my passport renewed. Seriously, must get on with this!

10. Things I think you should listen to

Your gut.


The birds.

Your kids.

11. Things you should never listen to




and other ignorant folk...

12. Things I'd like to learn

How to be effortlessly chic! This is a skill which has eluded me for thirty years and which to be perfectly honest, I don't think I will ever learn...

How to do a backflip. Somehow, I think my life will be immeasurably improved if I could just manage this one skill...

13. My favourite foods:

Mmmmm.... Mrs Crimble's coconut macaroons. Oh my YUM!!!!

The fresh meat soup my grandfather used to make and that my parents do a pretty good job of as well. I could eat it by the bucketload and intend on learning to make it when my parents come to visit...

Sweet Poatoes. Baked, Boiled, Roasted, you name it... Hands down, favourite all time veg!

14. Beverages I drink regularly
Coffee (also known as "something hot to dunk a biscuit in.")

Water. Yes, it's boring but it's true. And when you're tandem nursing two children, it's essential!

Wine. Again... when you're tandem nursing two children, it's essential indeed!

15. What I did to the kids in order to get the time to write this blog...

The darling loves slept for the majority of it but when they woke, I cleverly scattered their lunch all over the kitchen floor and left them to it...

Three people I would love to see tackle this are:

Artyfeminist I know you're on holidays, but maybe this will give you inspiration when you get back!

Young and Younger


Friday, May 14, 2010

An Unplanned Rant...

AAAGGGHHHH!!!!! BLECH! GRRPPPP!!!! - splutter, splutter, choke - OMG!!!! I don't know where to begin. I just had the great misfortune to catch a few of this week's parenting segments on Ireland A.M and to be quite honest, I don't even know if I can continue typing, such is my disgust at the sheer amount of absolute rubbish being presented.

First off, the segment on Ann Sinnott, author of "Brastfeding Older Children," had the potential to educate people on this taboo topic. Instead, the female presenter spent the entire time staring at her in absolute shock and horror whilst comparing allowing children to breastfeed for an extended period of time to allowing kids to stay up late and eat loads of junk food whenever they feel like it.

Her other oh so informed point was that we don't allow babies to remain in nappies till they are 6, so why let them breastfeed? (?!?!?!?!?)

The presenters proceeded to read out several comments from similarly negative minded viewers whilst ignoring the many voices of support which appeared all over their facebook and twitter pages.

This morning's interview with so called baby expert, Tizzie Hall, (who wrote all of her books before she became a mother herself) dealt with the ever popular topic of infant sleep.

Despite my grievances over the appalling way they handled yesterday's foray into the world of extended breastfeeding, I held out hope for today as they opened the segment with recently published studies which prove that yes, leaving your baby to cry DOES in fact hurt your baby's emotional development.

However, Ms. Hall then proceeded to interpret the study her own way in order to fit with the theories outlined in her own book (plug, plug) which all incorporate some form of controlled crying. Apparently, Ms.Hall can interpret your child's cries and can tell you which ones are real and which ones are a mere form of emotional blackmail on the part of your infant (blood. pressure. rising. will. explode. soon.)

The presenters loved her. Clearly, this was a woman who knew her stuff. Who cared that she only recently became a mother herself and yet wrote all of her books years ago based on her work as a nanny. This woman believed in taking care of the parents' needs first and THAT made sense to them!


Sorry if this is all a bit incoherent and ranty. I only just watched the two segments and had to vent somewhere.

What are your views on extended breastfeeding and controlled crying? (please don't be afraid to be honest, even though you can probably already tell where I sit on these subjects! lol)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On the Move...

The tiny one is on the move!

Well, technically she's been on the move for awhile as she started crawling four months ago and has been wearing the knee (I would say knees except she really only uses one leg and sort of drags the other along underneath her...) out of all of her trousers ever since.

But this week has marked a new phase in her life so far, perhaps the most exciting chapter to date as our mad little woman has taken her first toddling steps! Yup, that's right, at the tender age of eleven months, our tiny terror is testing the biped waters.

Now, she isn't exactly running or anything and her record for consecutive steps taken is only six, but we're excited none the less.

Her big sister, the snot queen, has also decided that she would like to "learn" to walk as well. So each evening when daddy comes home, we all sit on the floor and take turns walking. First we steady the tiny one on her feet and she takes a few steps before falling into my arms.

Then it's her sisters turn.

Not one to be left out of anything, our 31 lb toddler who has been mobile for well over a year now, insists that we hold her hand at the start to "steady" her after which she takes one or two teeny tiny steps before collapsing in a heap on the floor with the effort of it all. It really is quite cute.

Almost as cute as when she insists on being put back into the tigger style door bouncer or when she climbs into her sister's highchair...

Anyone else's babies needing a little extra "babying" these days?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tummy bugs and Tyrants...

Oh where, oh where has mammydiaries gone, oh where oh where can she be?

If you said "crazy," you're pretty close.

If you said, "vomiting violently after picking up a particularly nasty tummy bug from our local cesspool of filth and disease/indoor kiddie play area," then you'd be right on the money.

Other reasons to explain my absence of late include (but are far, far from limited to...)

- An internet connection so bad, that just turning on the laptop was enough to have me breaking out in hives. This did not bode well for the "peaceful, earth mother" vibe I've been trying to put out around the girls. Nor did it bode well for my laptop, which almost ended up on the front lawn on many occasions...

- Chasing after a certain 11 month old daredevil. If it ain't dangerous, she ain't interested.

- Said same daredevil also does a mean koala impersonation. When she isn't climbing the furniture or playing with knives, she can usually be found desperately clinging to some part of my anatomy. Not the most conducive to successful blogging...

- Writing. Yes, I do still do that! And since receiving interest from an agent have been stepping up the pace and trying desperately to tie up any and all loose ends.

- Studying for my theory test which I will be taking for the ahem... third time this Saturday.

I'm sure there are many other reasons, but my sleep deprived brain is begging me to take advantage of the quiet and head to bed. I'm wrecked!

Bump and Beyond Galway

For anyone planning on being in the Galway area next weekend, The good ladies at mykidstime.ie are holding a Bump & Beyond Expo for pregnant mums and new parents on Sunday, May 9th at The Ardilaun.

Mykidstime is a website started by two mums in Galway and has grown from there, it’s all about things to do for your kids, and it's full of baby resources for new parents so that they know where to find things like baby swim, baby massage and other ideas to keep from cracking up in those early days with a new baby!

For the Expo they have arranged for some great speakers:

· Therese Ryan, one of Ireland’s leading Stress Management and Wellbeing Experts. She also featured in RTE’s health show “How long will you live?”.

· There will be a Baby Massage demo with Mary Kenny of Eden Massage and Swim who is a trained physiotherapist and member of the Irish Massage Therapist Association and Embody.

· Mary Joyce will be there on the day. She is a trained registered nurse with the HSE, and a practitioner of the holistic arts both in Ireland and the USA. Her focus is "Health from within" and "Feel Good Food". Mary recently appeared along with Maureen Fynes on RTE’s Dragon's Den in connection with their Feel Good Food Superfood Energy Snack.

· Nuria Lopez, fitness instructor, will be giving tips on pre-natal and post natal fitness

There will even be a free portrait sitting for each new baby on the day!

I won't be there as I'll be sitting my theory test for the um... third time, but it sounds like good fun, so I hope you get to go check it out.

Now, off to write about the vomiting bug, the internet that refuses to work and the laptop which will shortly be finding a new home on the front lawn...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Attention all women: WE HAVE BEEN CONNED!!!

It has taken me two pregnancies, two babies, two and a half years of breastfeeding, several bouts of blocked ducts, mastitis, milk blisters, engorgement and most recently, two sore and bleeding, so painful, make me cringe when I even think about nursing, cracked nipples, to make me see what should have been obvious all along.

Women's underwear is a giant SHAM!

I spent the vast majority of my twenties picking self induced wedgies out of my bum and then telling myself they were oh so comfortable (really! (pick pick) I can't feel a thing!) all to avoid the indignity of the dreaded “pantyline.” It wasn't until I became pregnant on the snot queen that I discovered the joy of plain cotton bikini briefs and the happiness that is air circulating in my nether regions.

As for bras... Where oh where do I begin?

Is it with the shame and agony of reading about and then promptly failing the “pencil test” of Cosmopolitan magazine fame? For those of you not in the know, this involves placing a pencil under your naked breasts. If it falls out, you have no worries in this life. Your breasts are firm and perky and you will forever be able to wear “pretty bras” made of little more then dental floss and ribbons.

If on the other hand your, “already a D cup at 15 years of age and destined to be a G cup by millenium's end” breasts can confidently hold an economy size can of L'oreal's Elnet hair spray under each one, then you are doomed to a loveless life of “boxed bras” and misery.

No frilly little nothings for you my sweet! Uh uh uhn! The only brassieres you will be wearing will be those of the “industrial strength” variety. The ones which bring to mind the words “granny” and “hospital issue.” Then, when you do eventually find a “pretty” bra to fit your generous proportions, your itty bitty titty friends will prick holes all over your happiness bubble by wearing said “pretty” bra on their heads and laughing at what great hats they make.

But I digress...

Big bosomed or tiny titted, we all share one thing in common. We are told from an early age that bras are an absolute necessity. That on a list of life's essentials, they are right up there with air, water, food and the internet.

You MUST wear them! If at anytime in this life, your breasts are found to be at any point other then mid way between your shoulder and your elbow, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.

Then, during pregnancy when your breasts turn into huge, painful lumps, the proportions of which leave your head spinning, you are told that the only answer is to keep them supported 24/7. That's right, sleep in your bra.

Well guess what? I didn't wear a bra to bed and you know what? The only time of day I experienced any relief from the ginormous, painful rocks strapped to my chest was first thing in the morning after 8 hours freed from their cotton/nylon/polyester prison.

However, it wasn't until last week that the penny really and truly dropped. After weeks of suffering with sore, bleeding, cracked nipples (thank you tiny one, mama appreciates your enthusiasm) it was time to take drastic measures. Out came the almond oil, the lansinoh and the breast pump. Off went the bra.

I prepared for the blocked ducts and painful engorgement which generally follow even the merest thought of my not nursing my little darlings on demand, 24/7.

It never came.

Apparently, not being bound up in layers of cotton and elastic agreed with them...

Sorry Victoria, you can keep your secrets... As for me? I'm letting it all hang out.

(Around the house anyway...)

Now, I'd like to thank everyone who submitted poems to the great Cushelle Giveaway but alas, there can only be one winner! Soooooo.... Drumroll please... The winner of the Cushelle Goody bag is.... Eimear! It actually made me cry :) (Jen, please still be my chum!)

Now, I must publish this before the dodgy internet connection that has been so kindly provided to us by the bastards at a certain un-named mobile broadband provider breaks off again as it is wont to do every ten seconds or so. All the best!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pure Joy

The tiny one had her first go in the swings this week. I think that the expression on her face says it all...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I think I've been dumped.

It's been over a month since I was asked to take part in the Reebok Easytone campaign and what do I have to show for it?


That's right. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

No free runners.

No free gear.

And definitely no new bum :(


On the bright side, the lovely people at Cushelle (formerly Charmin') actually do care about me and unlike a certain lying, cheating, no good sneaker company, when they said they wanted to send me a lovely goody bag (well, two actually, one for me and one for one of you!) they meant it.

Again, the deal was the same. All I had to was try the toilet roll and spread the word about it's softness (it is quite cushy...) and general loveliness (there are koalas imprinted on each square) and then explain how "Charmin" was now "Cushelle" and that the bear (who I had bit of a soft spot for to be honest... especially in the ad where he takes a newspaper and goes behind the tree to do his business) had been given the boot and a new, even cuddlier koala had taken his place.

In return, I would receive a 4 pack of toilet roll, a lovely hand towel (I've been wary of ours ever since the giant spider incident of last summer) and a really cute little Koala soft toy along with one of those key-rings with a trolley coin in it.

The towel is now in our bathroom, the koala has been kidnapped by the snot queen and the trolley coin has already been used at both Tesco as well as SuperValu. The toilet roll however, remains in it's packaging.

You see, I have this thing about nice toilet roll. It really excites me. Being a bit on the frugal side, I tend to opt for the bog standard, single ply, 12 rolls for €1.59 deal. You know, the stuff you can almost see the newsprint on. For some reason, I've always seen luxury toilet roll as being something to one day aspire to.

Some people look forward to the day when they own their own home, I look forward to owning soft toilet roll with pictures on it.

Having prematurely come into the possession of said luxury item, I'm loathe to open it and use it all up. Instead, I've been keeping it in it's carrier bag, wrapped up tightly, waiting for the day when all is quiet and I can go to the toilet in peace and truly appreciate it's lush, quilted, koala imprinted softness.

As luck would have it though, my good friends and neighbors also happen to be loyal "Cushelle" users so I've been able to try it out without having to break into my own little cache.

Life, my friends, is good. And soft, with little koalas printed all over it...

Now for the fun part...


Yup, once again, it is time to reach deep into your soul and let the world know what "softness" means to you.

The winner will receive a Cushelle gift bag complete with Toilet roll, hand towel, cuddly toy and trolley coin. For the rest of you, the Cushelle site is giving away THOUSANDS of little koala bears in an attempt to spread the word about their change of name. Good Luck!

Mammy x

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cookie Monster

(stands up. shuffles nervously from side to side and speaks.)

Hello everybody. (coughs a little)

My name is Maria and I'm a cookie a holic

(Crowd Replies as one) HI MARIA!

This is my first time coming here, but it isn't my first time admitting I have a problem. I've known this about myself for a long time now but something happened this morning that made me realize I need to get help.

This morning, I ate cookies for breakfast. Not one or two, but four. Four delicious morsels of chocolate chippity goodness all gulped down before 9:00am.

I made scrambled eggs for the kids and I meant to eat them myself as well. Really! I did! but as I filled the kids plates, I realized I'd made too small of a batch and would need to make more for myself. The trouble is, I didn't make more eggs, I ate the cookies instead.

The cookies I'd sworn were for guests. The cookies I wasn't going to touch. The cookies I'd baked yesterday (the second of two delicious batches.) The cookies which have become the mainstay of my diet.

Later in the morning, I took the girls to a friend's house for a playdate. One of the other mums had thoughtfully provided a box of homemade cookies. I didn't even count how many I ate.

I tried to stop! Really I did! For awhile there I was really good! I had things under control. But then, the unspeakable happened and my local supermarket put their leftover easter eggs down to fifty cents. It was the same week that they marked the Fox classics bars down to a euro a packet.

It started with the bars...

Then suddenly, I was filling my basket with easter eggs, eggs that would later be broken and made into more cookies!

I told myself I would only make one batch...

I lied.

Six days and as many batches later, I can feel my waistline expanding as yet another batch of hot, melt in your mouth morsels of so easy to make it's criminal cookies comes out of the oven. I have even been keeping a spare batch in the fridge in case of emergencies!

But no more!

Because today I hit rock bottom.

It was one thing to have cookies for lunch, another to enjoy them with my evening meal, but cookies for breakfast?

Although, when you think about it...

It's not really THAT bad, I mean, there's eggs in there, and they're like a breakfast food, and flour! There's flour in bread, which is in toast which is again... a breakfast food! And my husband is forever drowning his pancakes in golden syrup which is basically just sugar... and then the butter, again, a breakfast staple, vanilla's not that bad... just adds flavour...

So technically, cookies really aren't that bad of a breakfast! In fact, they're a darn tasty one!

Maybe I don't have a problem after all!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To My Tiny One...

Dear Tiny One,

I am so proud of you for learning a new skill this morning. While your old trick of flinging your porridge bowl to the floor (porridge and all) was impressive enough, your new ability to DETACH THE TRAY FROM YOUR HIGH CHAIR is simply phenomenal! The clatter it made as it hit the floor and the subsequent nerve damage caused to your dear old mother only added to the achievement.

The fact that you learned this skill the morning after the night of NO SLEEP only makes me all the more proud. Most babies require 10 -12 hours of solid zzz's a night to bulk up the old brain machine, not my little petal! No sireee!!!! What good would a night be after all without an hour long chat smack dab in the middle of it? Almost as good as a night where you do not use my poor battered breasts as a chew toy whilst desperately fighting sleep's siren call.

I would also like to take this moment to thank you for teaching me a lesson yesterday morning. Silly old mama thought that she'd give you some nappy free time and let the air get at your sweet little bottom. You'd think I'd know better by now, wouldn't you? You sure are a good little pooper! And such a fast crawler! Well, in fairness, the kitchen floor did need a bit of a scrubbing anyway...

You've also been good for my waistline. It sure isn't easy to eat a full meal with a ten month old clinging to your leg and screaming blue murder, let alone enjoy it!

Oh my little tiny one, how I love you so! However can I thank you for all the gifts you've given me? Perhaps in future, you could learn to share your gifts with others...


Mama x

Monday, April 12, 2010

Plastic Fantastic!

Thank you Irish Mammy! You have jump started my Blogging Mojo (and quite possibly my other Mojo as well!) with the Plastic Joy Award. This award is all about those character's from the world of fiction that you so would... you know...

Prince Eric from "The Little Mermaid" : Yes, I know, he's a cartoon and he's only 16 with a mildly disturbing desire to find the right girl and get married NOW, but I mean hey, look at the guy! He could totally pass for at LEAST 25 and the way his muscles ripple through his torn shirt as he tries to gain control of the sinking ship... Not to mention that the romance in his soul is enough to fill a library full of Mills and Boon novels...

Sawyer from Lost: So help me god, I'm a sucker for the hot con man with a heart of, if not gold then at the very least, lightly tarnished brass. The hair, the eyes, the accent and the fact that there's always some sort of comedy in his scenes all add up to someone I would have no trouble spending time with on a desert island...

Hugh Grant in ANYTHING!!!! Let's be honest, there's really no point in trying to pick one of his movie roles in particular as he plays the SAME CHARACTER EVERY TIME! But boy does he do it well... Floppy haired, posh, up himself yet slightly clueless Englishman with a penchant for dirty, Hollywood Blvd hookers (hmmm.... that part, not so hot) I'd personally be torn between him as The Prime Minister in "Love Actually" (ooooooh, the power...and when he stands up to the pres of the United States? yum!)

Johnny from "Dirty Dancing" : Probably my first movie crush ever, even if I was too young to understand what was going on half the time. Ignoring the fact that he was about thirty, had dropped out of high school, was paid for having sex with rich older women (They're shoving diamonds in your pocket and they smell so good!) all the while falling in love with and taking the virginity of 16 year old "baby" and wore the same outfit day in and day out, there was something charming and strangely innocent about the little gigolo... "Nobody puts baby in the corner" indeed!

Paul Rudd, like Hugh Grant, in anything: Nobody does "Slightly weird, intelligent, offbeat, hot with a great sense of humour kind of loserish guy" like Paul Rudd. Add to that the fact that he bears more then a passing resemblence to my husband and hey! What's not to love?

Honourable Mentions: Russell Brand. His wit and sense of humour are second to none, and when I read his words or listen to him talk, I'm completely mesmerized beyond belief. But as far as fantasy lovers, I think we're better off as friends...

Liam Neeson: Yummy, yum, yum... Unfortunately though, the term "lover" tends to imply that clothes will be coming off and I just can't get past the thought of "old man skin." Soft and wrinkly anyone? Ditto on Harrison ford and Sean Connery.

Niles from Fraser: I had more then a passing attraction to him in my early twenties. If you turn the sound off and take away the whiny, uptight attitude, the guy's got something going on!

Thanks to Irish Mammy for helping me get my blogging Mojo back! Now, here's the fun part: I'd like to pass this award onto the following fab, mommy bloggers...

Looking for Blue Sky
Autism: The king and I
Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip
Arty Feminist
Living in a Toy box

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Just add Vinegar...

I have no idea what to write about.

That in itself probably means that I should just leave it be and try again later, but I've been doing that all week with the end result that my poor blog has grown a thick layer of dust that would take a sneeze of monstrous proportions to clear. You would then be left with the aftermath of said very large sneeze (yuck!) and the whole cycle of blog cleaning would have to resume again.

Therefore, I will stick to the tried and true method of mentally wiping things down with some vinegar and water on an old cloth. Much simpler.

Things are going well here. In theory, I have had loads of blogworthy experiences these past few weeks. There was the trip to Dublin which I spent squashed between two large car seats with one boob permanently exposed and on offer to the tiny one whilst I sang several vigorous verses of "Twinkle Twinkle little star" - actions included - with the Snot Queen.

This was the same car journey on which both girls decided to go for the record of "Who can stay awake the longest" (They both fell asleep as we pulled into our destination) and where we forgot to bring snacks and so had to stock up on a lifetime supply of Nutri Grain bars (of which there is NOTHING nutri about!) to help in our quest to calm the beasts.

There was the trip to the pharmacy where the Snot Queen decided to try out her shoplifting skills which resulted in me returning red faced with a bag full of burn relief cream and chap stick and the trip to the health food shop where she lifted three containers of that reeeaaalllly expensive deodourant.

I even had a lovely lady write and ask me to review toilet paper for god sake! (Which, by the way, I am very tempted to do...)

Seriously, aside from the occasional case of the "lazy can't be arsed's," I have no reason not to be filling both sides of the blogging page every single day of my life. But I haven't been. The stories are there, they just haven't wanted to come out, or else, when I start to put them down, I re read what I've written and decide that it's crap.

Me thinks t'is time to do a mental spring clean...

Dust off the cobwebs, shake off the dirt and start fresh.

As Scarlett O'Hara was known to say, "Tomorrow is another day."

Friday, April 2, 2010

And the winner is...

First off, let me say that I loved all of your poems, they were absolutely great and I got a real kick reading them. In the end, I put them all into a hat (well, your names anyway, and it was more of a shopping bag then a hat) and am pleased to announce that "Phoenix family fun " will be joining me on the freebok journey.

Don't despair though! As you all put so much effort in to your entries, I have a small prize for each of you. So if you would be so kind as to send me your mailing adresses, I'll get your gifts in the mail on Tuesday. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Catchy title, eh?

As you may recall, I recently agreed to put aside all my high falutin' principles about keeping my "blog" from being a "flog" when the good folks at Reebok offered to kit me up in their brand new runners, track suit and kit bag, all for FREE!

All I have to do is write a review of their new "Easy Tone" runners with bum burning technology and all of it - the runners, the kit, the bag and THE BUM!!! - will be mine!

Not only that, but one of you, dear readers, will also be availing of this offer...

Yup! That's right! There is a free pair of ReeBok Easy Tone runners (sneakers to my Canadian Kinfolk) to be given away free of charge, to one of you.

All you have to do is write me a short poem about what makes you run in the comments section of this blog and on Friday evening I'll make one of your Friday's extra good!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I hear, I see, I feel

Right. So I totally stole this from Very Bored in Catalunya (the blogger formerly known as Very Bored Housewife who had to change her name when a bunch of dirty ol' pervs got the wrong idea about what her site was all about) Basically, she was tagged legitimately by a fellow blogger who deemed her worthy of tagging and I liked the idea so much I decided to steal it for myself.

It's a nice simple one which is really all I'm up to as it's pushing midnight and we are in the car driving home from Dublin after three nights away, two of which were spent in child unfriendly quarters (more about that and how to get peanut butter out of suede chairs later.)

Basically, the name says it all. I simply have to describe what I hear, see and feel at this very moment. Easy peasy.

I hear: The hum of the engine as we drive down the motorway to Cork after a quick stop in our new favourite town "Urlington" which has the only 24 hour petrol station for miles around. A big plus when you are 60 odd miles from home with only enough gas to get you halfway there.

A Congestion Quartet, as the snot queen and the hubster take turns hacking up various bits of their lungs and myself and the tiny one keep time with a series of sniffles and sneezes.

I See: My hands typing in the glow from the laptop, the light bouncing off my lovely new wedding band.

The digital display on the dashboard telling us we now have 238 miles worth of petrol in the tank and will not have to barter our organs with passing motorists (Thank you Urlington!) It is also one minute to midnight.

Two sleeping babies in the seats behind us.

I Feel: So happy to have his lovely self back from doing a course up north and to be heading back to our lovely home all together as a family.

A bit Hungry to be honest. Think I'll have a bite of the sandwich and crisps we picked up in Urlington.

I smell: NOTHING!!! And haven't for weeks now thanks to this rotten head cold. Stupid plague...

Right. Now this is the part where I'd normally tag a bunch of other people to say what they are currently seeing, hearing and feeling. However, as this is a stolen meme, I encourage you to do the same and steal away if you like the idea.

We are 76 km from home...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Defects Contained

Back when I first started asking mums and mums to be questions about their experiences of Irish pregnancy and motherhood for "The Mammy Diaries," I received the following reply from a woman who had chosen to give birth at home;

"I benefited from the combined experience of my mum and my two older sisters; all three went through the hospital system themselves but encouraged me to explore natural or low intervention birth options. I started reading up before I even became pregnant and the more I read, in books and on-line, the more I understood that the odds of having a natural birth are stacked against you in a hospital, especially first time out. I recall reading the annual report from my local maternity hospital and discovering that only five percent of first time mothers give birth spontaneously without any form of intervention or instrumental delivery. Meanwhile, I was also reading birth accounts from homebirthers and I was completely won over by their enthusiasm for delivering at home. Shortly after getting a positive pregnancy test, I attended a home birth meeting and I was hooked on the idea. "

Having had both the experience of a hospital birth and a home birth myself, I knew there was a lot of truth to what she was saying, but SURELY the figures she quoted couldn't be right! Surely she'd meant 50 or even 15 percent of first time mothers (which would still be criminally low in my opinion.) Could it really be possible that 95% of first time mothers in Ireland are thought to be deficient in some way and unable to get through what is without a doubt one of the most natural experiences in life, without intervention from the medical community?

I put it to the back of my mind and continued on with the work of writing and compiling and writing some more. Then it came time to put a bit more polish on the Birth Stories section, a section which I am still having trouble with for reasons I'll get to later...

With the figure of 5% still floating around in the back of my mind, I started re-reading through the birth stories with fresh eyes and was shocked with what I found. Time and again, the same words and phrases kept popping up. "Induced," "help labour along," "gel," "sweep," "Speed up labour," "episiotomy," "epidural," "section," "forceps," "vacuum," and then at the end of each story a general variation on the theme of "Oh well, my baby was born healthy and well and that's all that matters."

But is it?

I'm not so sure.

Of the almost two hundred birth stories I received, only a handful gave birth spontaneously and vaginally with no intervention, the vast majority of those being home births, second time mothers or babies born in the MLU's. Two of them were planned hospital births, one of which ended up being an unplanned homebirth and the other in a hospital car park! I talked to my friends, surely at least one of them must have had a spontaneous vaginal birth with no intervention whatsoever?

Well actually, one of them did. The midwives didn't believe she was in labour until she headed off to the labour ward herself, hopped up on the table and popped out the baby herself.

Am I crazy in wondering if we've taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way?

I understand that there are times when interventions are called for, that things can and do go wrong in labour. I would think though, and call me naive if you will, that this number should be far lower then that of women who experience healthy, problem free pregnancies and deliveries.

Low risk births should be the norm, not the exception. The vast majority Irish of women cannot be defective.

That though, is the message that our hospitals are sending out, and that is the issue I am having a hard time dealing with.

In writing the " Mammy Diaries," I am trying to give a balanced view of what the average Irish woman's experience of pregnancy, birth and the first year of motherhood is really like.

However, by including all of these tales of interventions and things going wrong, what exactly is the image of birth that I am portraying to new mothers to be? What sort of conclusions about birth and their own body's capabilities will they draw if they start to see things like induction, c-section, membrane rupturing and instrumental birth as the norm and not the exception? What effect would this lack of confidence have on their own labour and births and would it merely become some sort of self fulfilling prophecy?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Booby Tuesday at Jo's!

Hey everyone!

I'm guest blogging today over at Infantasia for Milky Booby Tuesday where the topic of the day is, you guessed it! Boobs. Or, more to the point, breastfeeding. Swing on by and have a gawk, you know you want to...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A New Definition

Dear Mr. Webster / Oxford/ all other purveyors of dictionaries,

Since becoming a mother, I have come to the realization that some of the definitions in your dictionary no longer apply to my everyday life. With that in mind, I have taken the liberty of re-defining some of your more common words and phrases to fit my altered circumstances;

Today's Word; Clean

Clean: (adjective) In regards to clothing - Contains fewer then three stains of a shade which could be said to almost blend in with said item of clothing (in certain lighting) or which can easily be hidden by a large accessory. Does not smell. Badly.

In regards to the house: Livable. General dissarray of day to day living acceptable. You could eat your dinner off of the kitchen floor. Not because it's immaculate but because that's where your baby threw it. Does not smell. Badly.

In regards to Self: Does not smell. Badly.

Cheesy but nice...

Okay, so you might find it a little cheesy. I really liked it and thought I'd share it. My mom sent it to me today...


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ReeBok SchmeeBok....

Reebok Scheebok!

Me and my damned morals.

I could've had a lovely new pair of trainers and a whole new set of kit to boot for absolutely NOTHING!!!!! That's FREE! NADA! Seriously!

All I had to do was right a rave review of Reeboks new EasyTone trainers and their advanced bum burning technology on this, my lovely blog, and it all would have been mine. The shoes, the kit, the bag, THE BUM!!!!!!

But NOOOOOOOO! My stupid "Blah, blah blah! I HATE when people use their blogs to flog all sorts of shit every chance they get in order to a) fill space and b)get free stuff," morals had to get in the way!

Now I am Shoeless, well, not really... How about new shoeless? Ummmm.... not entirely accurate, EasyTone Shoeless, New kit - less, New bag less and Bum Burning Technology-less (Sob!), and FOR WHAT?!?!?!?

Does anyone really care if I occasionally pretend to love some random article of clothing or baby paraphenalia?

Will the world end if I pretend to be gaga over the latest "guaranteed to raise your child's iq by 8 Gazillion points!" Toy/Dvd/complete piece of garbage?

Would I really be THAT bad of a person if I gave in just this once to corporate greed and capitalism?

Of course not!

And before you all go getting your free trade/organic/ Just say NO! knickers in a twist, here's the kicker... One of YOU could have had a set too!!!!!

Which is why I have written a grovelling letter to the good people of reebok in order to beg of them to allow me the priviledge of selling my soul and their product here, on this very blog, even though I'm two days late in replying, so long as they give some oh so free love and goodies!

Stay tuned to find out how they reply...

Watch this space...

Waste not Want not!

The Snot Queen has hit a new milestone.

She can now wipe her nose with a tissue. After months and months of wrestling her to the ground and pinning her shaking head in place so we could wipe the gelatinous ooze (and the ever delightful crusty bits!) from her upper lip before she had a chance to shove it in her mouth and slurp it down (GAG!) our little princess has learned some manners (and basic hygiene.)

Unfortunately, she has not yet mastered the art of tearing the tissue off of the roll. Instead, she wipes her nose on the end and leaves it hanging there.

Today, I went in to get a piece for my own nose, only to discover all too late that someone else had gotten there before me...

I'm all for recycling, but this might be taking it just a bit far...

Friday, March 5, 2010


I want to stop.

I want everything to pause for just a moment while I step outside and take a break. A nap would be preferable, but any sort of break will suffice.

Even a deep breath will do.

A blissful few hours where there is nobody teething or asking for something in a language I don't understand. Where there are no dirty bottoms or snotty noses that need to be wiped and which guarantee more then their fair share of screaming.

I want, for just a while, to not be the one who knows where everything goes or she who does what needs to be done.

I want to find a sunny spot and lie down the way I used to.

I want to sit and recharge.

Relax and Unwind.

I want my world to feel the way these guys sound.

I'll come back then, I swear.

And I'll be all the better for it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

See Jane Cope (and bake, and paint and cope some more...)

The times they are a changin'...

The tiny one had her nine month developmental check today. You know, the one where they check and see if your baby can hear(she can) if she's growing okay (She's huge.) and whether or not she has acquired such all important life skills as the ability to pick up a block and pass it from one hand to the other (she has.)

I was happy enough that all looked well, but even happier to be on my way. I was meeting a few friends for coffee and sure, I knew everything was fine anyway! The visit was a mere formality. It got me to thinking though, about how differently we'd viewed these visits back when the Snot Queen was born. Back when we were just starting out in the big, bad world of parenting...

Before each visit, I would clean the house from top to bottom, doll myself up as though I was going to the Oscars and not spending the day with the snot encrusted infant overlord, and then I would set the scene...

Cookies would be baked to give the house that "homey" smell, classical music would play softly in the back ground and I'd set up my easel and paints to make it look as though she'd just caught me in the middle of my morning art time which I obviously had time to do, given that I'd just had a baby about ooooh... five minutes ago.

For me, the health visit was a chance to show just how well I was doing and how easily I was coping, even if in reality, I wasn't.

Don't get me wrong, most days were grand. The Snot Queen was a great baby, easy to feed and very fond of her sleep. But new babies are new babies and that's a huge adjustment to have to make. You go from being a couple to being a family literally overnight. Your hormones are all over the place and you are suddenly completely responsible for this most precious of little people who relies on you for absolutely everything and you're terrified of screwing it up.

You become open in a way that you've never been before. Vulnerable. You more then wear your heart on your sleeve, you pick it up and hold it in your arms for all the world to see. You let others hold it and hope so very hard that they don't break it.

You consult google to find out the best way to heal a nappy rash and what to do if your baby gets a cold. You read books about sleeping, books about feeding and you talk to everyone you know who has ever had a baby trying to become an expert overnight because you want so badly to do your best by them.

You do not have time to bake cookies and spend leisurely mornings painting at your easel.

I'm sure that our public health nurse saw right through me, but she was nice. The nicest health nurse I've ever met. The kind of woman who answered all of our questions, calmed our fears, complimented our baby and then told us what an incredible job we were doing.

In short, she was the best public health nurse ever.

When we moved house, I was more upset about leaving her then anything else.

Our new Phn does not visit us in our home, instead, we visit her in her office. She does not tell me how incredibly special my girls are, nor does she tell me what an amazing mother I must be for rearing them so well.

I in turn, do not bring her freshly baked cookies or loaves of bread I whipped up in my, "spare time."

Instead, she looks at my children and tells me her opinions based on the tiny span of time for which she sees them and I balance that with everything I know about them from living with them and observing them every day of their lives.

It is not a matter of life and death.

It is not the end of the world if they are tired and fail to perform.

I no longer need to "prove" that I am coping.

I do however, fix my hair and slap on some make up. The times may have changed, but not that much.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You've got to be kidding...

I was just heading to bed when I saw the following question on the CNN news in regards to the Killer Whale who, well, killed his trainer.

They asked, in all apparent sincerity, if he was a, "Powerful Predator or Performer?"


Do you even have to ask?

I'm going to bed. My brain hurts.

Friday, February 19, 2010

News Travels...

I was pottering about online today when I decided to hit up my old friend e-bay for some pregnancy tests.

Before you break out the bubbly (or the straitjacket for that matter) I am not now (to the best of my knowledge) nor do I plan to be at any point in the near future, pregnant. Two under two is quite enough for the moment please and thank you.

So why, you ask, the pregnancy tests?

Three words. Peace. Of. Mind.

Seeing as to how I'm breastfeeding the two small demons, my monthly cycle has yet to return. This means I've no way of knowing for sure that all of my eggs are still in my basket and not out messing around with dear husband's super swimmers.

Being the frugal sort, I refuse to shell out ten euro for a single test at the shops when I can get ten test strips for four euro (shipping included) delivered straight to my front door.

Now for the funny part.

I paid for the pregnancy tests using hubby's pay pal account.

Hubby was online at the time.

Hubby immediately received a confirmation email detailing "his" (my) purchase.

I hadn't even logged out of ebay when the following message appeared in my g-mail...


Amazing how fast news travels...

Hope you're having a great day :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I feel like Chicken tonight...

I have a serious case of the "I don't have a sweet clue what to feed myself for lunch or prepare my family for supper and to be quite honest, I couldn't particularly be bothered anyway." 's

I have a bag of chicken breasts, some brussel sprouts and some corn on the cob thawing away in the sink. There are potatoes and onions in the cupboard and carrots and parsnips in the fridge (do parsnips go in the fridge? I can never remember...)

There are a myriad of herbs and spices on the shelf over the counter and loads of goodies like garlic and flour living beneath.

Even as I type this, I can practically smell the gourmet creations that the culinary blessed amongst you would come up with. In my head, I know that the potential of a beautiful meal is all around me just waiting for skilled fingers to unlock their moist, juicy secrets.

If you are the owner of those fingers and have an hour or so to spare, please feel free to swing by sometime in the next little while to work your magic.

So long as you have supper on the table by six, I don't care what you cook.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunshine on a Cloudy day :)

Oh dear god! Thanks to a combination of sleeplessness and general mommy brain, I am horrified to admit that I've yet to say thank you to the lovely Young Mummy for the Sunshine Award she bestowed upon me last week in the midst of teething hell (still going strong thank you very much!) In fact, it was only just now, when the fab Last of the Mojitos presented me with the SAME award, that I remembered I had yet to accept the first. I also have a fave picture meme to catch up on as well...(no, I have not forgotten, I am merely sloooooowwwwwww)

Also, I have a few small accomplishments about which I'd like to brag this week!

First and foremost, after a year of wishing and hoping and praying for a regular, straight across the yard clothesline and not the piece - o - crap triangular one that came with the house, I finally wised up and realized that no amount of wishing, hoping and praying was going to make that clothesline appear. That if I wanted to not spend the next few months brushing spiders, their webs and their eggs (blech) off of the horrible piece - o - crap, I would have to do something about it.

So I did. Yesterday afternoon, while the Snot Queen slept, I popped the tiny one into her walker (hold thy tongues please and thank you) and we absconded to the back garden where I tied the clothes line I bought yonks ago from one end of the garden to the other.


Instant clothesline. I am a domestic goddess.

I am also brain dead as I can't remember my other fab accomplishments. Sigh. Such is life!

Thanks for the Sunshine ladies, I'll be passing it along to;

The Potty Diaries Who today is searching for eye makeup remover in Russia. Apparently, not as easy as it sounds...

Hot Cross Mum who woke up one morning, "to find my two-and-a-half year old in bed beside me and my husband asleep in the two-and-a-half-year-old's bed. Nobody had any recollection of this bed swap taking place."

It's the little things
Because she always reminds me how much I have to be thankful for.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Valentine

Right, in the name of love and in the spirit of the season (can you really call Valentine's Day a season?) I have decided to take a break from sleepless nights and snotty noses to tell a tale of love's young dream. A story so sweet as to give you cavities and so pure and true that if you listen long enough, you just might hear an angel cry...

And so, without further adieu, I give you the true life tale of "Myself and Himself: A love Story in Three Acts..."

Act One: We meet. It was at a Thanksgiving dinner thrown by a fellow Canadian in Ireland back in 2005. I'd love to say that the second our eyes met across a crowded room we just knew that we were meant to be and so rode off into the at that point nappy free sunset, however, that would be a big fat lie. For starters, I was sort of seeing another young Irishman and he was sort of seeing the hostess of the party.

Secondly, I found him ridiculously attractive and therefore would not under any circumstances talk to him until I mistook his (male) best friend to be his boyfriend, decided he was gay and therefore "safe" and thus set about having the funnest night I'd had since arriving in Ireland five months previously. At the end of the evening we exchanged numbers but never saw each other until...

Act two: Six months later, I was headed out for the evening with one of my housemates when we passed each other on the street. After a few hours frenzied texting, we agreed to meet up. It was six weeks before my visa ran out and I was due to leave the country. We became inseperable and when I left the following month, I lasted only a week in England before I was back to visit. He quit his job, left his house and together we headed to Scotland for the summer.

Our families were horrified. His parents were afraid he was throwing away his education for some tart (me) and wouldn't return for his final year of college. His Grandmother said I'd "whispered potions in his ear," and my mom was afraid I was going to get pregnant and ruin his (yes, his) life.

Well, he returned to Ireland for school in the fall and I returned with him, totally illegally of course.

Eight months later, we were pregnant on the Snot Queen and battling with the state to grant me permission to remain in the country. As we weren't married at the time (shock! Horror!) our union was not recognized by the state and it took another year, a second pregnancy and one verrrryy expensive lawyer to convince them we were committed.

Act Three: Four and a half years after our first meeting, in front of our family, our friends and our two beautiful daughters, we said I do. And we continue to live happily ever after.

Happy Valentine's day baby. I love you. x