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Judging and Voting.

In two days time I will be going to the Irish Parenting Blog Awards. I am a finalist in four categories, but having been to awards before I am ready to come home empty handed, although I can’t promise I’ll not burst into tears. I have practised my Oscar ‘you won feck all’ face, and all I can say is, I’m not a great actor.

The great thing about the awards is that I am going to get the chance to meet so many of the bloggers I converse with online everyday, either via my posts or facebook. Some of them I feel I know so well and I’m looking forward to having a real chat with no typing involved. Others I’m a bit blurry about, as in who is who, who has what blog, and who has which children, so that should make the night interesting.

We are kicking off lovely and early, as in six o clock early, with drinks, a meal and then the awards. Chances are with such an early start, I just might have over indulged by the time the awards are announced, and I suspect I will not be alone. I mean a bunch of bloggers, many of them out for the first night in weeks without a baby in tow, having drinks at 6pm, surely that equals trouble.

There has been much talk online about fashion and nails, hair dos and fake tans, none of which I’ve been able to join in with. There has also been the very serious side of all this, the judging of blogs.

I am very conscious that many deride parenting bloggers. They are often belittled and dismissed as ‘mummy photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/22161158@N06/4309169550">IMGP5446</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>bloggers’. Having spent a huge amount of my time over the past few weeks reading many blogs, some personal, some parenting, some crafty and others all of the above, I have been taken aback by the quality of the blogs and the variety of posts.

To demonstrate this I’d like to share with you links to the top twelve posts in the final for best blog post.
Some will make you cry, others laugh and others will inspire you.

1.A Modern Mummys World. Our NICU experience.
2.At the Clothesline. The time I bought a life size giraffe.
3.Awfully Chipper. Just Dance.
4.Bumbles of rice. Celebrating the day we became parents.
5.Dr How’s Science Wows:Moments.
6.Kate Takes 5: A Seismic Shift
7.Life on Hushabye Farm: A Letter to a First Time Mother
8.Looking for Blue Sky: After I Die
9.Minis and Mum: A Mini Tale About Down Syndrome
10.Office Mum: The Once a Week Mum
11.Where Wishes Come From: A Taste of What Might Have Been

And finally my own post, selected by my readers.
12. My life in words.

Even if you only read the titles you can see, there is a lot more to parenting blogs than you might have thought.

photo credit: IMGP5446 via photopin (license)

photo credit: JonathanCohen via photopin cc

One moment in time.

Today I stopped time,
and paused it for a moment,
as I watched my youngest child
walk up the aisle,
with the eldest of our clan.
My Mum.

It was her confirmation,
and regardless of my beliefs,
my daughters special day.
As she neared the altar,
my mum placed a hand on her right shoulder,
As I pressed pause.

I gazed upon that moment in isolation.
Invisible bonds tied these two,
never allowing time and distance come between them.
I watched through a mist of tears,
age and wisdom,
guide youth and innocence.

And so the moment ended
and they parted,
each to their own seat.
The camera within me rolled once more,
capturing many more moments,
but none quite like that one.photo credit: JonathanCohen via photopin cc

Later I replayed it for my mum,
who smiled and encouraged me
to look a little deeper,
to see
what I was missing,
in that magic moment.

As we replayed it together,
I watched, as mum
gently placed her hand
upon her grandchild’s right shoulder.

“There, she said, can’t you see…
Your dad’s hand is on her left”.

photo credit: JonathanCohen via photopin cc

photo credit: Petra Senders via photopin cc

So many kinds of love

We all have different ways in which we parent. Today I was at a swim gala with over forty very young novice swimmers.All had parents with them and many also had siblings. There was much cheering and excitement. Looking around me I was struck by one thing.

The many different ways we love our children.

There were parents there who dried their children after each swim, and helped them into their T-shirt, while others threw down a T-shirt as their child barely looked at them.

There were parents who sat beside their little one, and kissed them good luck before each event, and others who watched as their little one headed off never announcing they were leaving.

There were parents who opened snacks for their little ones and ensured they were hydrated, and others with swimmers who ate cakes aplenty without checking with a parent if they should.photo credit: C-Serpents via photopin cc

As I watched the many different styles I looked a little closer, and saw how much those different parents shared.

The way they watched their little ones line up, eyes glued to them in case there were any last minute nerves.
Their relief when their little one successfully entered the water, some via a dive, others a splash.
Their roars for their little one, regardless of whether they were coming first or last.
Their faces beaming with pride as their little one finished and bounded out in search of their love.

So many different ways of loving, but all loving.

photo credit: C-Serpents via photopin cc

photo credit: Petra Senders via photopin cc

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Homework and the joys of “new” maths.

tric:

Life is getting in the way of blogging this weekend, so here is an old one I think many of you will empathise with and enjoy.

Originally posted on My thoughts on a page.:

Do you know what the best part of mid term is?
No, definitely not Halloween.
It’s NO HOMEWORK!

What bliss.
It is now after 3pm and I am not doing homework.
When I myself went to school,
I will admit I was not really a fan of it,
and was known on many occasions to just not do it.

Maybe children are better behaved nowadays,photo credit: &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa/2194119780/&quot;&gt;Cayusa&lt;/a&gt; via &lt;a href=&quot;http://photopin.com&quot;&gt;photopin&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=&quot;http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/&quot;&gt;cc&lt;/a&gt;
but mine would never dream of not doing their homework.
However because they are not all of genius intelligence,
this has meant at times I too have had to do homework.

I think somebody somewhere is having a laugh.
Because I who hated homework,
have over the years had ten children (not all mine),
regularly doing their homework here.

For the majority it is not an overly difficult task,
but for two of my children, who have dyslexia, it is.
I have to read,  or…

View original 554 more words

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I’m a Finalist!

I made it. I’m a finalist in four categories in the Irish Parenting Bloggers awards. I’ll fill you in better tomorrow (when I put down my glass) but I really wanted to let you all know asap, especially all of those of you who took the time to nominate me, I’m beyond thrilled, and if truth be told, hugely relieved tonight.

I am a finalist in the categories Best blog post, Best personal blog, Best writer and most inspirational blog (I can’t get my head around that last one).

If you wish to check out my opposition you can do so here I am really up against it, but happy to have got this far. The awards are Saturday 25th so not long to wait.

Sláinte.

Blogging is a two way street.

I have been writing this blog for a little over two years. In that time I have spent a part of every day thinking of a post, writing a post or wishing I was writing a post. There are days when I wish I could stop my life, ditch  my family and all responsibilities, so I could sit with my blog.

When I first began to blog I had no idea what lay ahead. I thought it was all about writing, ‘finding my voice’, and learning how to write better. How little I knew!

In the past two years I have discovered blogging is not about what I write, but about sharing myself.  I have spent a large amount of time reading other blogs, commenting on blogs and replying to those who comment on my posts.  I have come to ‘know’ many bloggers from all over the world. I read their blogs regularly, comment and engage with them, and over time I’ve begun to care about them.

There are days when I find myself looking at a lovely view, and I’ll remember some of my ‘friends’ who I know would love to look at the sights I’m looking at. I hear conversations which remind me of posts they have written, I know anniversaries, both happy and sad, which will matter to them, and I wonder where they are and if they are alright when I don’t see their posts when I should.

I have been reminded of this sharing recently in two different ways.

Firstly a blogging buddy of mine is about to undergo major surgery. She lives in the US and I’ve never met her, nor am I ever likely to, yet today even though I was tearing around, I have found myself wondering if she is nervous, and hoping all goes well for her. If you’d like to check her out she blogs at Wasted Days and Wasted Nights. photo credit: Annie Mole via photopin cc

My second reason is more personal. Since last week I have been busy with very little time on my hands. It’s competition season, so I have lots of swim galas, including one this weekend with forty five novice swimmers aged six to twelve. I also have a family event this Monday which means my mom, sister and brother will be visiting… yes you guessed it, there is so much cleaning to be done! Also I seem to have forgotten it is only a few days away so tomorrow and Friday are my only hope of getting anything to wear. Due to my lack of time, I have been unable to go on my laptop to read the blogs of those I follow, and I am suffering seriously from withdrawal symptoms, irritability being the biggest one.

But, you may say, you are still writing. Yes I am penning a couple of posts but that is only to stop me exploding completely, there is no fun in writing and not reading other blogs or commenting. Blogging is a two way street.

So if you are new to blogging my advice to you is to go read other blogs, and take the time to comment. You will be richly rewarded in getting to know some very interesting new people, and your writing will be all the better for it.

For those of you who I have not called to in the past while, I miss you, and I apologise for my absence but all is well. I will hopefully be back to ‘normal’ after next Tuesday. If I’ve missed anything major or you have written a post you think I’d have enjoyed please add the link in the comments, it’ll help me catch up.

Until then happy blogging.

photo credit: Annie Mole via photopin cc

denis

Just call me ‘Nancy’.

Do you remember my old pal Denis, who emigrated from Ireland to England earlier this year aged 83? Well I have found it hard to forget him, (his story is here). Not a day goes by when I don’t think of him in some way. I pass his house and ache to call in. I pass the hotel and remember his day out each Sunday for lunch. I pass the supermarket and remember out trips there for litres of coke to dilute a certain drink he was partial to each night which may or may not be illegal.

Mostly I remember him with no prompt at all, missing him still every day.

Last night I went to see The Fureys, a band who have been singing since Jesus was a boy, as they’d say here in Cork. Most of my generation, and younger,would not be too enamored by them, but I love their singing. They are very Irish, and the lyrics of every song they sing, are beautiful. I have already shared one of their songs here as a tribute to my Dad, called ‘I miss you my oul man’.

So last night myself and himself headed off to join a motley crew of fans at The Fureys.  From the start I was blown away, as I’d imagined they would not be quite as good in the vocal department after all their years on the road. I had prepared myself to be strong, in case they sang ‘I miss him my oul man’, and sure enough they did. I was delighted to listen to it live, without a tear in my eye, singing along at full volume. Great I thought they didn’t get to me.

I was wrong.

Towards the end of the night they sang one of my favourite songs, called ‘Leaving Nancy’. As it began I turned to my husband excitedly and whispered, ‘Oh I love this song’. I sat back to enjoy it and then without notice, it happened. I was swept away, back to that sad day when Denis and I said a final goodbye. I listened as the words perfectly described out meeting that last time, as we stood in the kitchen not saying all we ached to say.

But you stand there so calmly determinedly gay
You talk of the weather and events of the day
And your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And I remember how we joked and chatted that morning, both of us holding back the tears, as they sang,

But you stand there beside me so lovely to see
The grip of your hand is an unspoken plea
You’re not fooling yourself and you’re not fooling me
Goodbye my Nancy, oh.

I thought of how short a time we had known each other, but how much he had come to mean to me, as I heard them sing,

But our time has run out and the whistle has blown
Here I must leave you standing alone
We had so little time and now the time’s gone
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And with tears streaming down my face I tried to sing along as they sang,

And as the train starts gently to roll
And as I lean out to wave and to call
I see the first tears trickle and fall
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

 

And I ached so badly for one more hug from a man who had come to mean so much to me, as The Fureys sang the chorus one last time,

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows.

Yes I am still missing Denis after all these months.

Here is the song, I hope you enjoy it.

 

killybegs

Home

I took part in a writing challenge during the week, to write 200 words on ‘Home’.
I adapted an old post about not asking for help, and this is what I came up with.

Home.

As a child I lived in a happy home,
five children, loving parents and a dog.
Life was all it should be,
until he came along,

and I sailed away unnoticed.

I could see my family on the mainland,
and sometimes tried to visit,
but even surrounded by them,
I could not join in.

They became strangers.

It was lonely on my island.
Islanders are different,
aloof, reserved, and quiet.
Unwelcoming of visitors,

So no one ever came.

For six years I lived,photo credit: Liz Grace via photopin cc
in secret and alone.
Each day I checked my island walls,
ensuring there were no cracks.

No glimmer of light shone through.

Then, out of nowhere a stranger came
and took no notice of the walls.
He failed to see my isolation,
and uninvited, climbed onto my island

My life changed once more.

For a while we wandered together
as slowly my high walls crumbled,
until one day hand in hand,
he gently coaxed me from my island,

to a place we now call home.

photo credit: Liz Grace via photopin cc

do you believe in God?

I don’t believe in God, so what do I believe?

I live in a christian country surrounded, in the majority, by friends who have great faith, a  faith which has carried them through on the darkest of days. I live with a man who enjoys his catholic religion, and who cannot imagine a life without it, who possibly believes that deep down I actually believe in God, and that some day in the future my faith will return. My children are mixed on this front with varying degrees of faith. I have never denied them the religion they were baptised into, but I do not actively live it, so they wonder and on occasions they ask me, what do I believe.

I believe in a life lived now, not tomorrow, next week or in a next life. I live the best day I can today, and enjoy every day, for who knows what tomorrow may bring. I do not believe in sin or any God. I believe in now.

But… what happens when a loved one dies?

A close friend recently said she had to believe in an after life, as the thought that she would never see her loved one again was just too awful to imagine. I saw her pain and I hoped in my heart she was right. I wanted her to meet him again, or at least to live this life believing and hoping she would.

I have sometimes questioned my own belief, wondering as I speak to my dad, who died nearly thirty years ago, why am I speaking to him when I don’t believe in an after life. Why do I call on him for help, advice or comfort when I believe he has died?

Yesterday I think I got my answer.

I was golfing (yes I love to golf). It was the most beautiful day, with a clear blue sky, and the views were stunning. It was one of those afternoons I felt lucky to be alive. As I enjoyed my round, with my OH and friends, I had by my side my usual golfing companion, someone no one else sees or speaks to. No one hears him laughing at my mistakes, nor do they know I sometimes ask him for advice, (against all the rules). photo credit: JonathanCohen via photopin cc

Who is this secret companion of mine? It is young Daniel.

Danny, for those who are new to this blog, was my friends young boy, who lost a hard fought battle with Leukemia almost nineteen months ago. Christmas came just a month after he died, and his mother gave me a ‘gift’ from Daniel. It was a voucher for a sports shop. After much consideration I bought a golf club. An expensive one, now known as ‘Danny’s club’. Each time I use it, I feel as if Daniel is by my side, enjoying the day out and the competition.

Yesterday was no different, as he and I strolled the course. When Danny’s club hit the ball well, I’d smile and congratulate him, when it didn’t I’d imagine his laughter at my mistake. It was lovely to walk for hours imagining him happy and free. At times I wondered at our conversation. Was I speaking to myself, or did I really feel him close?

Today I have continued to ponder.

I do believe Daniel is gone, but I also believe we carry our loved ones with us always. My dad is still very much a part of me, holding a space in my heart no one else will ever fill. He is by my side all day every day, and the love I felt for him, and he for me, surrounds me even after all these years. The same is true for Daniel. No I was not his mother, or aunt, nor were we best friends, but we shared a part of life together and he took a place in my heart, a place he will always be.

I do not feel I must die in order to meet them again. Those I have loved and lost continue to be a part of my life, every minute of every day. I will always miss seeing them, but for as long as I live, they continue to live.

I appreciate this is not for everyone. I do not care what anyone else believes, for it is up to each individual to find their own way. I am not against religion and if you offered during times of trouble to ‘pray for me’ I’d be touched and grateful, just do not try to convert me, for I am more than happy with this simple life of mine.

To each their own.

As I write this today I think of  Aoibheann (8), Daniel (13) and young Ben (6) as well as my own dad, who continue to live in the hearts and minds of those who loved them.

photo credit: Dublin Bread Company via photopin (license)

There is another side to Easter In Ireland.

What do you think of when you think of Easter? Chocolate, religious celebrations, fine weather? I do too, but each Easter I also spend a bit of time remembering the reason I live in freedom. It may not be the popular thing to do, but each year I remember the Easter rising of 1916.  I wonder, what would our lives be like if it had not taken place? Would we still be under British rule? Would we have become a modern day Scotland or would we have broken free in some other way?

Next year is the 100 year anniversary of the rising. In school it was a part of history I loved learning about. The patriotism and passion of those involved in the fight, fitted my rebellious nature growing up. My families link with Donegal meant we often entered the six counties, a part of Ireland which in case you are not aware remains a part of Britain to this day. It gave me an insight into what it was like to live in a country of red telephone boxes (in the south they were green), Union Jack flags, armoured cars, and British soldiers.

Personally, rightly or wrongly, I continue to appreciate what those rebels of 1916 did. I love to read about the leaders, and am especially taken by their own writings in particular the poetry of that time.  I grew up knowing  ‘rebel’ songs, all telling the tales of the wrongs of Britain, and the fighting nature of the Irish. Some of these songs dated back to the 1800s and others to more modern times. All glorified the ‘old’ IRA and vilified Britain.

Then I became a mother, and twenty years ago the Good Friday agreement was signed. There was ‘peace’ in the North of Ireland for the first time in my memory.  A new generation have grown up not knowing what it is to wake up and hear of murders, bombings, punishment beatings or retaliation. My own children do not know the words of any ‘rebel song’.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/47290943@N03/8491917382">Dublin Bread Company</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/">(license)</a>

As a mother what am I to do?

Do I speak to my children about a past they know nothing about? Do I sing songs of hate? Do I tell them stories about 1916 and what happened to the men and women who helped create the free south they live in; an Ireland they take for granted? Do I remind them of a time when Dublin was bombed by the British before being rebuilt?

To date I have remained quiet. Yes they know a little of the world I witnessed as a child in Northern Ireland, but for them that is almost as long ago as when dinosaurs walked the earth. It has no relevance in their lives. My children can tell me about World War One, a war we as a nation did not officially take part in, with greater clarity than events that took place in Ireland during that time.

I am ever mindful of instilling an anti British bias, but I can’t help but wonder are we Irish over doing the friendliness? Are we glossing over the past in order to be friends with our neighbours? I agree it is right to forgive the past and move on, but I cannot condone or accept that we should forget it. So I have decided, little by little over the next twelve months that I will begin to tell the stories to my children, of the people who gave their lives, so I and my family could call ourselves Irish, and live in the country of our birth, as free citizens.

I’m not sure they will listen, and less sure they will remember any of it, but I hope that by the time the anniversary celebrations come along next year they will not be wondering what on earth it is all about.

I think my first ‘hook’ for them will be the tragic story of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett.

She was a cartoonist, he a journalist, poet and Irish Nationalist. She was protestant, he Catholic. Despite her families disapproval these two were to marry on Easter Sunday 1916. Instead Joseph Plunkett took part in the Easter rising, was arrested and condemned to death. While in prison in Kilmainham Jail he and Grace were married, surrounded by soldiers, with no family present, after which they were granted ten minutes together, but not alone. Hours later Joseph Plunkett was taken out and shot.

This is a wonderful song written about their marriage. If this doesn’t hook my children nothing will. It’s a song I have always loved.  If you can’t listen to it, here are the lyrics.
As if this wasn’t tragic enough, Grace never remarried.

As we gather in the chapel here in old Kilmainham Jail
I think about these past few weeks, oh will they say we’ve failed?
From our school days they have told us we must yearn for liberty
Yet all I want in this dark place is to have you here with me

Oh Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love I place this wedding ring upon your finger
There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye

Now I know it’s hard for you my love to ever understand
The love I bare for these brave men, the love for my dear land
But when Pádraic called me to his side down in the GPO
I had to leave my own sick bed, to him I had to go

Oh, Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger
There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye

Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too
On this May morn as I walk out, my thoughts will be of you
And I’ll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know
I loved so much that I could see his blood upon the rose.

photo credit: Dublin Bread Company via photopin (license)