Monday, 19 June 2017

A lovely surprise

The good weather continues and the form is good with most of the children. We're winging our way towards the end of yet another school year and the end of an era for one child, as the remaining days left in primary school can now be counted on one hand. He's not as emotional about it as I am.

Homework has eased up and so have the resulting arguments. Today it was straight into shorts and t-shirts at hometime and outside to bounce on the trampoline, play football and soak each other, and my washing, with water guns. My daughter meanwhile, in sophisticated teenager style, spent the day at Costa del Irish Beach, no doubt wearing nowhere as much suncream as I would like.

And there was no homework, which I know I have said already, but which made my heart feel so light, that I feel it deserves another mention.

Life of course is all about balance and with the yin of the sunshine, no homework and obligatory ice-cream, came the yang of the contents of today's post. School reports and secondary school booklists. One appears, in between the positives, to highlight your inadequacies as a parent, while the other blatantly highlights the inadequacies of your bank account. Yang momentarily, held the balance of power.

Until a former colleague came bearing gifts.

I recently retired from the Greystone's Irish Coast Guard Unit. Child number seven proved to be the straw that finally broke the, already seriously compromised, camel's back. It was a really difficult decision, in spite of the realities of my situation,. As my numbers grew, attendance became more of a challenge, but I was lucky to have had some of the most supportive, kind, inclusive, caring friends and colleagues within the Unit. It takes a special sort of person to be a Volunteer and the Coast Guard is filled with these special and selfless people.

And so I bid adieu to a very important part of my life. It was an honour and a privilege to have been part of such a terrific unit and such a special service. Today, Ciaran arrived and presented me with my ten year service certificate and a beautiful commemorative 1916 medal, and the tears started - again.



I handed over my pager, still tearful, but in my head I was Arnie, whispering "I'll be back" (One day, I hope.)






Sunday, 11 June 2017

I never expected to hear myself say......

I had great ideas about the sort of parent that I would be.  I had plenty of notions and preconceptions about motherhood and what, when the time came, it might be like. Most of those preconceived ideas involved dressing the children up in beautiful outfits and going for walks with a fabulously trendy pram. None of them involved the car boot battles endured to fit this fabulously trendy pram or the constant beautiful outfit changes, necessitated by outpourings of poo and puke.

There’s nothing quite like parenthood for providing a reality check. At this stage, I have more of an idea what to expect – this is generally, the unexpected. “Unexpected” applies to pretty much every aspect of the equation, including some of the conversations that I never imagined myself having or some of the things I never imagined myself saying. Out of the mouths of babes as they say, except when it’s out of the mouths of mums.…….


1.       Yes that is an enormous poo. Yes it is probably bigger than Batman’s.
2.       Put some underpants on, the neighbours don’t want to see your willy flapping about on the trampoline.
3.       Why are your ears green?
4.       Why are you tangerine?!!
5.       No your Gran doesn’t have a willy. Stop asking people if they have willies.
6.       That man is not cutting the grass naked. (while apologising profusely to the perplexed man in question after my son announced it very loudly at the top of his voice to everyone on the road and rounded up his school friends to come see.) He’s just trimming the hedge without his shirt on.
7.       Why are you orange??!
8.       Why are there dirty boxers on the kitchen door handle?
9.       What’s that mark on the mat - chocolate or poo? Can someone sniff it for me please, I have the baby in my arms.
10.   Did you think I wouldn’t notice that you’re wearing that dress backwards? (complete with - you’re not going out like that.)
11.   No I don’t think this is just a story that someone is reading and that it will start raining when they turn the page. We’re just walking home from school.
12.   I’ll never let your dad kill another cockroach
13.   Put some underpants on, the neighbours don’t need to see you standing on the playroom table bare bottomed.
14.   We do not eat crayons.
15.   No we don’t keep head lice as pets.
16.   Do not use Daddy’s toothbrush to clean the dog’s teeth.
17.   Do not use Daddy’s toothbrush to fish breakfast waffles out of the toilet.
18.   Why is there a banana in the toilet?
19.   Do not fart on your brother.
20. Why does the dog smell of suncream?






Friday, 9 June 2017

Back to School with Marks and Spencer (who have 20% off uniforms at the moment!!)

School’s almost out for summer and the prospect of carefree days and weeks stretches out ahead of schoolchildren around the country. While homework won’t be missed by parents or students alike, summer holidays hold a very different meaning for parents. Summer is about keeping the kids occupied, enjoying some family time and dare I say it – preparing for the return to school.

The world moves at a crazy pace and even though the school holidays have yet to begin, the shops are already filled with uniforms and the endless amounts of paraphernalia that goes hand in hand with back to school. Recently Marks and Spencer approached me about a back to school collaboration. With five children in school and one in Montessori – this one was a no brainer!

All trousers have adjustable waists and adjustable hems for growing children

Free education is very expensive. There are endless lists and mounting costs, and it’s natural that we as parents look for savings wherever we can find them.  I have to be honest – Marks and Spencer’s uniforms are a little more expensive, but when my order arrived, I came to understand why.

The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same. Children come in various shapes and sizes and the school trousers definitely allowed for that. The adjustable waist is a life saver with lean children and even more so as your children get older and taller.

Non iron shirts and slim leg trousers


Finding trousers to fit my teenage son can be particularly difficult. Tall and slender, a lot of trousers that are long enough for him, are far too wide in the waist. A little celebratory dance may have been done in my kitchen (ah the things that us parents are excited by) when I discovered that trousers in the older age category not only still included an adjustable waist option but factored in an "adjust a hem" in recognition of the fact that kids grow like weeds!

Slim leg trousers and non iron and easy iron shirts


The promise of non-iron shirts won me over immediately, but discovering the velcro fastening behind the top button on the younger children’s shirts was an unexpected bonus. Anything that speeds us up in the morning is always welcomed!

Too cool for school - top button has velcro fastening for an easier life!
The durability of their sportswear will be well and truly tested here. Both in P.E, and after school activities, my rather active children, like to get stuck in – there will be no tender treatment of their clothing! Again the tracksuit bottoms came with an adjustable waist and were really comfy according to my inspecting troops.

Sportswear in an array of colours and even the tracksuit bottoms have an adjustable waist!

Another child wings his way to secondary school this September and like most mums whose children are facing a great change, my heart is in my mouth. Will he be happy? Will he make friends easily? Will he ever get to school on time?!!! – These are the questions that flood my thoughts, but while parking my own personal concerns there is a need to recognise that he is growing up a little. While school uniforms may never be cool in the eyes of a teenager, he is a little more image conscious now and chose the school shoes himself. He, however, likes to be “comfortably cool” – looking good alone, will not suffice. These ones got a definite thumbs up.

Shoes from the Marks and Spencer "back to school" range
And probably one of the very few things that kids get excited about when it comes to back to school attire is the schoolbags. Herself, generally likes to be classically understated – often granted though, in that teenage, tangerine glow-like, kind of a way. She chose a black polka dot school bag. I think it’s probably more suited to primary school children to be honest, in terms of capacity. My daughter begs to differ, however, – I think we may have varying ideas about the amount of schoolbooks that will feature in her daily life! 

Easy to iron blouse with revere collar
The eight year old – named after a character in his father’s favourite film and equally fanatical about it himself, went for a Star Wars bag. The force is strong in him and he was very pleased with his choice.

Star Wars school bag

The cost and all the expense that goes hand in hand with back to school is an undeniable factor for consideration. “You get what you pay for”, the claim goes, and that’s exactly how it appeared to me. The quality is there, the cut is there and the additional features are there. I hope that these uniforms will last my children the entire school year. In fairness, there’s few houses and families that will test them more! 


school uniforms for all ages

Of course the early bird doesn't just catch the worm, he catches the discounts, and at the moment, Marks and Spencer have 20% off their school uniforms.  Taking some of the expense out of "back to school" and one less job for August!

Sweatshirts and t-shirts in an array of colours



*This was a paid collaboration with Marks and Spencer and Shopping Links. All thoughts and opinions however, are my own - and that of my troops.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Facing up to things

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a “winging it” sort of gal. I have accepted, particularly as my numbers have grown, that much is out of my control, so, planning a little, and hoping for the best mostly, is a more realistic course of action when it comes to raising my children. This goes somewhat against my natural, more cautious nature, and my liking to “insure my insurance” so to speak, but I’ve found that it’s the most pragmatic approach to outnumberdom and beyond.

In some Spiderman movie or other, one I’ve seen countless times but during which, I have perfected the art of zoning out, the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” is brandished about a bit. The same phrase could be tweaked to parenthood - “with great parenting  comes loads of washing, loads of worries, a need for a degree of omnipresence, lots of poo, no sleep, and a requirement to rethink your whole working life”. The tweaked version definitely applies to me. In between my winging it episodes, I’ve been adopting an "ostrich head in the sand" approach to my other job- but the tide is coming in.

“After the confirmation, after the communion, after the holiday, after the book manuscript is submitted to the publishers, after, after, after – there has always been an excuse. But all these afters came to pass and so with a heavy heart, I drove into work last week to firm up a return date.

And actually, it was great. It was great to see friends and to catch up with their news. It was great to have a cuppa (or two) in peace, and drink it while it was still hot. It was great to be Jen for that little while and focus fully on conversations rather than frantically realise that there had been no sound from the three year old for a while, which could only mean trouble.And it was great to discuss a return to work timeframe that suits all and to realise that for now, I can focus on the children and the upcoming book, which by the way, has a title - “The Real Mum’s Guide to Surviving Parenthood”.

So onwards and upwards. This ostrich has abandoned the sand. The return to my day job is in the pipeline. Juggling it all again will be a challenge. It will be chaotic, and it will be full on, but there’ll be coffee breaks and kindred spirits – and it’s a part of life. Unless of course, my lotto numbers come up in the meantime, then I may rethink things.


For now, we’re rolling towards the school holidays. Summer tests, school tours and a goodbye to primary school for another child, will fill the weeks ahead. I plan to make the most of these summer hols in particular, and enjoy every moment that I can, before the new, routine of old, takes over.




Sunday, 28 May 2017

Holiday Dramatics

A few days home and the kids still can’t quite get their heads around the fact that it’s back to reality time. All talk is about how cool it was to have a swimming pool in our “back garden” (we stayed in a complex), how great it was to have ice cream after breakfast and how awesome it was to meet lizards on our walks – not all of us were as convinced of this awesomeness.

The adventure began very early in the morning with a little after 3am drive to the airport. Teeing us up nicely for the holiday, it was lashing rain. Orders were dished out en route about staying close to each other and the need for assistance from older children to get suitcases and troops safely to the check in desk. At the desk the attendant painstakingly went through nine passports (definitely sniggered at mine) and we gratefully handed over our scaled down but nonetheless, significant amounts of luggage. Then it was onwards through security where my confused 12 year old was randomly chosen for swab testing.

And then the fun began, shops to browse, planes to view out the window and excitement levels soaring. Squeals of delight were heard from our rows as the plane took off and the children were finally flying. Ever the pragmatist, the curly haired one wanted to know “how does the plane stay in the sky – it’s not flapping its wings”? My aeronautical skills a little rusty, I placated him with “the engine goes very fast”.

Thankfully, the younger two children fell asleep for a few hours on the flight, making the journey a lot more pleasant for everyone. “This is so cool” may have mentioned, once or twenty times by the eight year old and a game of musical seats mid-flight meant that everyone got a chance to look out the window. The approach to Lanzarote was surreal. The island seemed to appear out of nowhere and it looked as if we might land in the sea. Once we were down, excited kids couldn’t wait to explore their new surroundings.


The heat, accompanied by a warm but refreshing breeze was lovely and was in complete contrast to the conditions we had left behind in Dublin. A short coach trip later, during which the three year old made himself known to absolutely everyone on board, we arrived at our destination - a lovely, though, worryingly quiet, resort that was alerted to our arrival within moments.
Within minutes, cases were parked in the apartments, swimwear was located, and previously “starving” children, suddenly felt a dip in the pool was more of a priority than lunch. As elderly couples sunbathed by the side, several of my troops launched themselves into the pool, cannonball style.

I worried that the older residents might not appreciate the invasion of so many enthusiastic and excited children. My worries were unfounded. Curiosity turned out to be the main reason so many sat up and watched the children at play – “are they all yours?”, was a question that I heard frequently.
So with a three year old keen on notoriety, we came to know many people over the course of our stay. On the day of my son’s birthday, one couple stopped by with sweets for the birthday boy. Another arrived with a giant chocolate cake to assist the celebrations. The kindness and thoughtfulness of others, just made our holiday even more special.


But there were plenty of typical and atypical moments too. I can’t pretend - in many regards it was just chaos in a different location, but that different location made all the difference.
We walked along paths admiring trees “that looked like giant pineapples”. Lizard watch, was another favourite pastime and when we encountered one, the excitement was unreal. They’re smaller than I imagined, but they fascinated the children nonetheless. I think it’s a “macheleon” (chameleon) the six year old said. The three year old meanwhile, thought we really should try to catch one, because Miss Sharon (his Montessori teacher) would definitely love it.

Back in the apartment, my underwear avoiding son, bounced starkers on the bed, waving at poor and unsuspecting passers-by, because some things stay the same, no matter where you are. Another child alerted all pool siders to the change in his bowel habits. “I haven’t done as many poos on this holiday, but I have had lots of ice cream” he loudly declared.

But on the final night, there was murderous intent – and murderous activity. My eight year old is a gentle soul, who takes the phrase “wouldn’t harm a fly” to a new level. During a game of charades, something moving caught our eye to the side of our apartment. It was a cockroach – and a bloody big one.  My brave husband set about ridding the apartment of it, but the eight year old was in the cockroach’s corner. “Run away cockroach, run – quick get away, he called” as my hubby plodded after it.

The cockroach lost, and the floodgates opened. Devastated the eight year old sobbed, and spoke of the cockroach’s family who would be wondering where he was. Inconsolably he took his father to task over his cruel and unnecessary actions. I did as any good, and extremely relieved that the cockroach was dead, mother would do – I agreed with my son. “He shouldn’t have done that love, you’re right”, I said. “I’ll make sure that he never kills another cockroach again”, I added, desperate to stop the tears flowing. “It’s too late for that one though” he sobbed “he can’t come back to life”. The curly haired one put his arms around his brother in comfort “Only Jesus can come back to life”, he explained – “and only if it’s Easter”.


The last morning saw final goodbyes to those we’d met and a sadness about leaving a place which had been the source of so much fun and happiness for the week. In true “us” style though, we left in much the same manner we arrived. As we made our way to reception with fully packed cases, to board the transfer coach, our eleven year old splodged towards us, having been pushed into the pool fully clothed, by his three year old brother. Never ones for a quiet entrance, it seems we weren’t ones for a quiet exit either!


Sunday, 14 May 2017

How could it be anything else?

And so it came. After the chaotic preparations and frantic efforts to clear the mounds of washing and tidy the house for the Communion celebrations, the day arrived. While the clean washing found a home, that was relatively temporary granted, although the danger of out of sight, out of mind has been known to linger here, and the house was cleaned from top to bottom – and uncleaned by the trailing three and one and a half year olds, nothing mattered that morning when my shiny eight year old son, bounced out of bed, beamed at me and said “mum it’s today”.

And that smile lasted all through the morning preparations and the hurried dressing of every member of the family. It stayed as he belted out the hymns in church and reached across to hold my hand excitedly. It widened further as he watched the magician with his classmates in the parish centre afterwards, organised by the parents association at our school. And it was still there as he greeted each relative with a little-person-sized bear hug and a thanks for coming to share his special day.


And I realised that all my efforts to make the day perfect, were unnecessary, because it was always destined to be so. It was about him, it couldn’t but be perfect.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Reaching the end.


It’s finally arrived. A day that the last few months and weeks have all been about reaching. A day that I think my children have been looking forward to even more than me. A day that means I won’t have my head buried in the laptop at every available moment, night and day – to the same degree anyway. A day which means that I can start to join my kids at the park again, rather than over enthusiastically waving them off with their father, to the chimes of “don’t rush back” just so that I can get a chance to work in peace.

It’s book deadline day!

A few months ago, I was given this wonderful opportunity to write a book, all about my favourite topic – parenting. In my delight, I pushed the workload to the back of my mind, and focused on the fact that I had loads of thoughts on all things parenting and plenty of inspiration in the forms of mini and not so mini-mes, who were as varied in their personalities as their views on underwear and its necessity. I just needed to get it down on paper – how hard could it be?

Very - is the answer. Life kept getting in the way and in spite of the important and significant sized project that I had undertaken, the kids insisted that I continue to look after them, feed them, bathe them, help them with their homework, attend one’s confirmation, another’s school musical, and a child had a stint in hospital for good measure.

But now, today, I HAVE FINISHED MY BOOK!!!! I have pushed the send button and the electronic copy is winging its way to my editor. As I typed those immortal words “The End” - I felt like Daddy Pig as he contemplated the muddy puddle before him. I was and am at one with the world again.

So if you’re looking for me, you will find me sitting on the couch with a celebratory glass or several of wine, eating copious amounts of chocolate to compliment it and beaming like that proverbial cat.

And who cares if tomorrow is a school day because I have finished my book – until my editor comes back to me at least.

Happy days!!






Saturday, 15 April 2017

When the three year old tells you, he has news.....


The Easter holidays have been a very different affair this year. Normally when the children are off school, we try to go somewhere each day, just to get out the house.These trips can vary dramatically in terms and ranges of excitement, but once they know they’re going somewhere and once cabin fever isn’t allowed to set in, I tend to have more civilised children on my hands.

This Easter things had to be different. With barely any time left,  until my book manuscript needs to be submitted, everything is on a very tight schedule. The sort of schedule that hyper children and snot filled babies and threenagers, don’t care much for – and that “wingers of it” , like me, struggle with.

Spotting the rising chaos and recognising the challenges in hand, I managed to convince my mother to take three of the older boys for a few days. Younger children are more content with shorter outings and with a teenage daughter still here, I knew that we could manage the resulting change to dynamics a little more easily. Everyone stood to benefit, except my teenage daughter, according to her. My undying gratitude isn’t sufficient it seems, but we’re finding that feeding her coffee slices at random and frequent intervals over the course of the week is helping to cushion the blow.

With three of the boys missing, the house has seemed so much quieter. As child number five, stepped up to the role of “biggest boy in the house”, we realised that it’s a role that he quite enjoys. It hasn’t made much of a difference to child number 6 though. He knows the power of the dark side.  He remains very happy in his own personal role as "destroyer of things" and "family streaker".

This morning as my hubby loaded the car and prepared to take the remaining troops with him, to collect their brothers, a very “peachy” smelling three year old entered the dining room. As I sat at my laptop, typing away furiously, I heard the words that every mother dreads to hear – especially from the mouth of a threenager.

“I have some good news and some bad news, mum”, he said. I looked up in a panic and could see immediately that there had been an incident.

“What’s the good news?” I asked, “Eh, eh, - oh yes, I found a charger” he replied.

“And the bad?” I followed, swallowing in fear.

“This, eh, fell on my head” he said, producing a now completely empty bottle of conditioner from behind his back, and looking at me in staged shock with his green eyes aghast.

“But I smell really, really nice” he added for consolation.

Much later than planned, my husband left to collect my other children.

Week two should be interesting…….


Sunday, 2 April 2017

He's struggling.

A rolling stone gathers no moss apparently. Well we’re rolling, rolling, rolling, here and there’s barely time to gather our thoughts, never mind any moss.

After a crazy busy week, we’ve had a Drama Feis, birthday party and chess tournament this weekend and now we’re rolling towards my son’s confirmation midweek and my daughter’s transition year musical every single evening.  All the usual mayhem has to be fit in, in between, and it will be, even if it’s accompanied by lots of grumbling about there not being enough hours in the day.

But on top of all that, and in spite of the excitement about the upcoming confirmation celebrations and musical staging (after months of practice), there’s an air of uncertainty that hangs over us. Our ancient, sixteen and a half year old dog, isn’t great.

I’ve written about him before and how he was getting old and slowing down hugely. He even looked as if he needed a touch of “just for dogs” around his greying temples. But now the discomforts and struggles of old age are really setting in.




He’s almost completely blind, he has lost his hearing, and his sense of smell has rapidly diminished. His back legs are weak and stiff and he’s sleeping a lot.  It may be from the medication that he hates but that he has to take for his kidneys, which blood tests have revealed are deteriorating also. He has to change diet and drink more water, and the situation will be reviewed.

He’s just a dog, some might think, but we love him so much. As my husband reminisced with our twelve year old son, about the fact that he can’t remember life before Rodney, my twelve year old reminded him that in his case “there was no life before Rodney”.

Rodney arrived six months before my daughter was born and has greeted each child with a sniff and a tail wag once they arrived home from hospital. Each new arrival saw him pushed further and further down the priority pecking order but it also brought him a new fan in due course, and a new heart bursting with love for him.

The older children are in denial. “He’ll be fine” they say, when they catch me watching him struggle, or sleeping yet again. They think this medication is going to solve it all. They don’t want to think of the alternative.


I hope they’re right, but he’s old, very old. We need to do the right thing for him.  I just wish I knew what that was.



Thursday, 23 March 2017

An Ode to Mother's Day


It comes around just once a year,
A day of celebration,
And recognition of all that mums do,
Beginning with creation,
Though granted, they didn’t do it alone,
The dads made a contribution,
But it’s not the men who are pregnant 9 months
Coping with added weight distribution,
Till the end of gestation when baby emerges
Through a design, quite flawed by dimension
Think melon and nostril and you’ll get the picture,
And the pain’s probably also worth a mention,
Or out through the tummy, a passage created,
With the flick of the surgeons sharp knife
Means a longer recovery, but baby’s here safely,
And the scar fades a lot through your life,
The sleepless nights follow, the boobs grow impressive,
To proportions never imagined before,
And the nappies keep coming, and the teething and tantrums
Toddler terrors, threenagers and more,
Cut knees to be treated and bumps to be kissed,
The scrapes keep a coming no matter
As the walls they are scaled and the trees, just a challenge,
And your furniture is left all a tatter,
Redesigned kitchen walls, and phones down the toilet,
Surprises, you find every day,
Need to hide all your treats, cos the kids they can sense them,
And eat them all, much to your dismay,
Then there’s homework and projects, all needing attention,
But kids are resisting so much,
And you feel you’ll go crazy, as battles continue,
Over English and Maths and all such,
But on mothering Sunday, all is forgotten,
You’ll think of how lucky you are,
When the cards are presented, and the pictures drawn carefully
Loving messages sent from afar,
Cause no matter our age, or the age of our children,
A mum knows how lucky she is
Though the hours are long and the terms need some tweaking,
We know being a mum is the biz.
Still on mothering Sunday, appreciation is welcomed,
And mums could all do with a rest
It’s just twenty four hours in a very long year,
So enjoy it mums, cos you’re the best!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Winging it!

Winging it and hoping for the best, is my general adopted position when it comes to the two thousand things that have to be done here in any one day. It largely works, kind of, with priorities being met and the less important things going on the neverending, non existing, list of “stuff to do tomorrow.

With a book deadline drawing ever closer, the usual deadlines to be met, a transition year musical on the horizon and upcoming both confirmation and communion, in addition to the other million and one things that go hand in hand with rearing a family we decided that we might need to give our whole winging it policy a bit of a helping hand – so my husband booked Monday off work.

Our internal walls were badly in need of a little TLC thanks to the combined artistic efforts of my 3 year old and 18 month old with a purple crayon and a red marker, so the plan was to tackle them, let me get some serious writing done and declutter some of huge amount of homeless junk that was gathering in every room of the house. We were a man and a woman on a mission. Our plan was to restore order to our gaff!

Rookie mistake. Making plans when you have children, is just tempting fate - and fate was weak. And so it came to pass that we spent Friday night in A&E waiting for my daughter, who had been referred by our G.P. with suspected appendicitis, to be assessed. Trooper that she generally is, meant that the first attending doctor viewed us suspiciously, wondering why she didn’t just take painkillers and stay at home. She didn’t seem to be in enough pain apparently. I explained how she had been screaming in agony earlier and that it was actually the G.P. who had sent us over and that she still was in a lot of pain, it was just relative. When the surgeon came to see her, she decided to admit for surgery in the morning. The consultant the next day, had her in theatre within ten minutes of his examination.

While I waited for my daughter to come out of theatre, a message arrived in my inbox. A preparatory photo, I like to call it. My husband, the responsible adult at home taking care of our other children, had thought rugby scrumming with my eight year old in our kitchen, you know the sort of place where there are hard tiles on the floor, was a good idea. Turns out he was wrong, and the eight year old had an impressive lump on his forehead and black eye to prove it. Some culpability was directed my eight year old’s way by the responsible adult – apparently, “he hadn’t bound properly”.

Naturally enough the weekend passed with intricate negotiations necessary to allow myself and my husband to take turns spending time with my daughter at hospital, without unleashing the full force of a Hogan invasion. The boys were fretting for their sister and were keen to see how she was doing but we had to keep messages to the video kind as her stitches wouldn’t have coped with the physical impact of their concern.


And as Monday, the day that we were supposed to take control, drew to a close, we realised that in terms of all that had to be done, we were now in a worse position than we were before, but our daughter was home, and all was well, and the eight year old’s shiner was every colour of the rainbow. Normality had returned to our household, there was lots to do. Winging it was best option. 


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Those Friday Feels

It's Friday night, you know the the feels, 
The weekend stretches out, 
It's time to relax, kick off our shoes, 
And "FREEDOM " we can shout, 
From all stresses of the week, 
The things that drive us crazy,
The work and traffic and school runs,
There's no time to be lazy,
Tomorrow's not a working day,
No hectic morning to dread,
Cos Friday evening is our time
Once the kids have gone to bed
So what to do, and how to chill
Is what we now must ponder,
Sweet or fruity, red or white
Of which type am I fonder?
Then pour a glass and settle down,
Remote in hand securely,
Peppa banished for another day,
And grown-up programmes purely,
It's Friday evening and we own it
Relaxed, no we're not boring,
At 9 O'clock, I'm wine in hand
By ten you'll hear me snoring 😴

Monday, 27 February 2017

A Letter to my Pre-Mum Self


Dear Pre-Mum me,

Just thought I’d drop you a line ahead of tiny people taking up residence in your womb. I hope you’re keeping well. All is good this side of the timeline. Exhaustion is a bit of an on-going issue, but you get used to it, and sometimes in all the madness of life, sleep deprived delirium can even be a bonus.

Hope you’re enjoying some carefree wild nights with your friends. Still a total night owl here, but the rave moves have become more of the “swaying the baby to sleep kind” and the attire is now less about displays of pert, voluptuous cleavage and more about the support and easy access to sometimes melon proportioned breasts for night feeds.

Enjoy all the latest cinema releases. While now you may hold an opinion on all the Oscar nominated and winning movies, in the years to come if it’s not made by Pixar or Disney, you won’t have seen it - over and over and over again.

Go out while you can, anywhere, everywhere, whenever, without the military preparation required to take a small person and half the house with you. Visit friends and family while they still smile happily to see you arrive rather than stare at you with a look of terror as you unload the troops from the car.

Wear crop tops more often.  Your tummy is going to look a LOT different in years to come. Whether it’s sunny, blowing a gale, raining, snowing or -10, show off your stomach, while you can …sob.

Take long showers and lather yourself in luxurious smellies while treating your glossy locks to some hair masks. The day will come when you’ll shower with just one leg in the cubicle as you strain to hear if your baby is crying and your hair will be washed with baby shampoo, or maybe just liquid soap – assuming you have time to wash it at all that is.

Enjoy life and don’t sweat the small stuff.  There’s a whole load of small stuff, of the human variety, coming your way, that’ll really give you plenty to sweat about.

Oh and don’t buy that beige couch.  You’ll have to replace it in late 2001, after an unfortunate Ribena incident.

See you on the other side. The fun awaits!


Love Jen. xxx





Sunday, 19 February 2017

Surviving the mid-term


Mid-term is here and a welcome break from school runs, school lunches and most of all homework beckons.  The prospect of a week that belongs to us is very appealing and romantic notions of quality time spent together with less shouting, cajoling and/or threatening pleasantries fill our heads, well mine anyway. Of course the reality MAY be somewhat different. Bearing in mind the “challenges” that all this quality time together, possibly during a rainy, cold week, may bring, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help make the experience more enjoyable – and hopefully ensure that everyone is still on speaking terms at the end of the week!

1.       Take a breather: Spilled juice, upturned bedrooms, sibling rows, home phones down the toilet and constant calls of “mammy, mammy, mammy (or daddy, daddy, daddy) can cause a marginal increase in our stress levels. Walk away and literally breathe. Big deep breaths for just a few seconds or minutes, enough time for you to feel more at one with the world and less likely to scream like a banshee. It will hopefully stop a knee-jerk reaction punishment such as grounding or no electronics time, that only you will ultimately pay the price for, over a loooooong day.

2.       Get up earlier: Yes every school morning, you have to literally drag them out of bed but at the weekend and school holidays, they’re first up, playing the recorder, ransacking the kitchen as they “prepare” breakfast for themselves and generally causing mayhem! Getting up before them means that you can get yourself sorted first rather than in the midst of chaos, where you’re chasing the baby who has swiped your deodorant and finding your missing bra on the three year old spiderman costume wearing enthusiast. Managing to get dressed before they’re even awake means you’ll be ready to leave the house without any (ok, as much) of the drama.

3.       Leave the house: And speaking of leaving the house – leave the house. Go somewhere, anywhere. Escape the confines of the four walls. Even if the weather is not great, wrap up, wear wellies and get out. Go for a walk, along the beach if you’re lucky enough to leave near one. Visit some poor unsuspecting friends or family members. Visit a pet shop. Have a picnic, in the car if necessary. Go for a muffin. Go to a playground. Check out the kids club at the local cinema. Something small every day – and it doesn’t have to cost much, or anything. It’s about getting out and not letting cabin fever set in.

4.       Playdates: Because after all, who doesn’t want to look after even more children over the midterm! But seriously though, having a friend or friends over for your own kids is not only great bribery, it gives you a break from the “what are we doing now?” question that you are in all likelihood facing every five minutes otherwise. And, if the weather is good you can chuck them outdoors. Then, when you return them to their parents later, while polishing your halo, you can explain that they had plenty of fresh air and spent a very limited time on electronics.  Win, win!

5.       Stock up on wine and chocolate: No explanation required.




Monday, 13 February 2017

An Ode to Valentine's Day

Valentine's is here again,
And love is in the air,
There's gifts exchanged of chocolate
And flowers and underwear
And soppy cards, with romantic rhymes, 
That detail endless love,
To darling partners everywhere,
Alleged angels from above,
But let's be honest, things really change
When children come along,
It's a different romance that us mums need
A change from the familiar song
Of "Mammy mammy where are you,
I spilt my juice on the floor,
Please wipe my bum, and find my shoes
Oh mammy my knee is sore!
I need new pencils by tomorrow
My viking project is due
We need to bake cakes for Friday's sale
And I've run out of all my glue
I've had a bad dream, can I sleep in your bed?
Oh now I need a drink,
Mammy quick, the fairy won't come
My tooth's fallen down the sink!"
So darling partners everywhere,
In this romantic season,
Just think of how you can show your love,
For no particular reason,
And see to the kids when they are calling
And let their mammy sleep,
Clean all the bums, and do the projects
And you'll be one to keep.
And even if you're a hero already
And everything is fine
Buy something special to treat your dearest
A practical gift, like wine!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone  Jen.x

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Some exciting news!


I recently told a few close friends and family members that I had some exciting news. As a woman known for having a particularly overactive uterus, the first assumption by many was that another baby was on the way. While nothing quite tops baby news, that wasn’t the news that I was sharing on this occasion!

The excitement began a couple of weeks ago and part one of the journey culminated yesterday, with the signing of my life, (or the next few months of it, anyway), away. There was only one way I could possibly celebrate – lunch, followed by Dirty Dancing at the theatre, with more than the odd glass of wine consumed in between. By all accounts, it was a perfect Friday!

Oh yes, the news, the sort of news someone with a passion for writing and all things parenting can only dream of – I’ve been offered a book deal.

Excuse me a moment while I explain. What I really mean is – O.M.G. I’VE BEEN OFFERED A BOOK DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So there you have it - Mama-tude, aka Jen Hogan, aka your ‘wan with all the kids, aka Maaaaam, muuum, maaaaaammmmmy, is writing a parenting book which will be published later this year!

I’ve put it in writing and I’m posting it on my blog, yet it still seems like a dream.

Quick, somebody pinch me!




Sunday, 5 February 2017

Sunday Night Syndrome

It’s Sunday Night, you know the drill,
It never seems, to change,
Lunches to make, ahead of school,
And uniforms to arrange,
All neatly at the end of beds,
When they’ve come through the laundry,
Except for the missing pieces of course
Therein begins the quandary,
Where could they be, the kids deny
They put them anywhere,
Except in the wash-basket of course,
And into space they stare,
“Yes definitely there, I remember it well,
Straight after we had our bath”
I look in disbelief at them,
Knowing generally there’s a path,
Of clothes that they leave in their wake,
All strewn across the floor,
One sock here, and a shirt over there,
Underpants hanging from the door,
A frantic search begins upstairs,
As shoes are missing too,
A white runner is under one bed,
But the one we need is blue,
Ah here it is, in the underwear drawer,
I really should have thought,
And the trousers are there, under baby’s cot,
Just a jumper now is sought,
Hurray more washing on Sunday night,
Just what every mother needs,
And fun and games to get them dry,
Visions of an early night recedes,
Yes it’s Sunday night you know the drill,
As the week ahead is beckoning,
But I won’t be able to sleep tonight,
It’s a syndrome by my reckoning!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The A-Z of Motherhood

Being a mum is wonderful.  Yes it teaches you about a love like no other and yes it is one of life’s greatest privileges - but let’s be honest, it’s also bloody hard work. It’s all consuming, requires an element of omnipresence and the pay and holiday entitlements leave a lot to be desired!
All is changed, changed utterly - to somewhat paraphrase (and completely take out of context) a wise fella. While life might never quite be the same again, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to be gained from our new found role. With that in mind, here is my own personal A-Z of motherhood.

A is for arguments. A daily occurrence about homework, putting underwear in the wash-basket, pokemon, who breathed on who, whose turn it is to pick something up off the floor and who left the top off the milk. The choice and subjects are endless and plentiful and require superbly honed and finely tuned negotiation skills. In the interest of maintaining some shred of your sanity, pick your battles - cos you can’t pick theirs!

B is for Basket, namely the wash one, virtually unrecognisable to underwear-wearing youngsters.

C is for cuts, from paper to impressive - all inducing the same levels of hysteria and convictions that the limb is unsavable

D is for dinnertime. That time of day when in theory we sit down together and have a chat but in reality mop up three glasses of milk, clean up a bowl of dinner that has just hit the floor and get called to deal with a bum that needs wiping.

E is for efficiency. It’s quite amazing how much you can achieve in a limited amount of time. From making your house semi-presentable in ten minutes flat because a visitor is on the way to scoffing as many cookies as possible because the kids’ antennae have gone up. Us mothers are masters of the apparently unachievable!

F is for forgetfulness, a new found state of mind. Why I did I go upstairs? Why am I sitting in a parked car outside my son’s Montessori on a Saturday? What are my kids’ names? Rather than feel defeated I prefer to view the latter as a descriptive vocabulary-enhancing exercise. “You with the curly hair, green eyes, girl child” etc has to suffice largely these days!

G is for goals, personal by nature and changing by the day.  Monday’s goal is usually to have a good week with calm vibes and positive interactions. Friday’s goal is to get through the day without yet another banshee impression and counting down the hours to wine o’clock.

H if for hungry, which my kids always are, unless something suspiciously healthy looking is offered.

I is for infinite – the amount of patience required for the job!

J is for just about.  My kids answer for everything from “Are you dressed yet” to “is your homework done?” Experience has taught me that “just about “really means, “I’m actually off doing something else other than that”!

K is for our king sized bed which feels remarkably small by the time the approximately 25 children have joined us throughout the night.

L is for love, which I never really knew the true meaning of before these little terrors came into my life.

M is for mouthguards, which seem to disappear into thin air in this house and whose disappearance I’m only ever made aware of, right before a match or training.

N is for No which my children seem to interpret as “lets ask her another 50 times and she might change her mind, or failing that, lets ask dad”

O is for obstacles, a mere challenge to be overcome for a walking wobbler, who audibly laughs at your attempts to keep him from danger and seem to prove much more fun than his mountain of toys.

P is for poo in its many colours, forms and textures. Just part of daily life and conversations now!

Q is for quiet which should always arouse extreme suspicion.

R is for robust which thankfully kids are. Bumps, bruises and relatively minor trauma is quickly and completely forgotten by them as toys, games and cartoons take over. We on the other hand beat ourselves up for the hours, days and weeks that follow!

S is for sleep.  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ‘Nuff said

T is for the toilet, the most likely place to find missing house-keys, mobile phones, toothbrushes, teddies and breakfast waffles.

U is for unexplained and suspicious looking marks everywhere. Is it snot? Crayon? Food? and please God let that be chocolate…….

V is for vegetables, depending on the kid, considered equal to offering them poison.

W is for wipes, a mum’s best friend that can clean anything and is the 21st century’s answer to spitting on a tissue.

X is for x- ray. The more kids you have, the more time you’ll spend in this department.  Have your lead apron ready!

Y is for yesterday, when it feels like they were born. Time goes so fast and when school is added to the equation and you’re living by the school timetable, it seems to go even faster – unfortunately.

Z is for zucchini which is either a fruit or a vegetable and which I’ve never eaten but my six year old told me about it. 


Monday, 9 January 2017

The Homework Poem


T'was the first day of new term 
A scene that's well known 
On the dining room table
The school books were thrown 
The children were wailing 
At the thought of the chore
While the parents were reminded
There's nothing they hate more
Than the prospect of Maths
And English aplenty
Spellings "as gaeilge"
Learning how to count to twenty,
The stand-off continues
Much longer than should
As the troops battled homework
As hard as they could
A project is mentioned
A twist of the knife
In an afternoon filled
With stresses and strife
And united all parents
In their heads scream so wild
"I hate homework more now
Than when I was a child!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Unexpectedly short-lived resolutions!

2017 has arrived and the Christmas holidays have drawn to a close. While the return to some semblance of structure will be welcomed, the return to morning madness, frantic searches for missing pieces of school uniforms, lunch-making and bloody homework means that my new year’s resolution to “live in the moment” will be truly challenged this week.

Looking at the long faces of my children last week as we took down the Christmas tree and packed away the decorations, I reminded them that they have so much to look forward to this year. I spoke to them of upcoming communions and confirmations, mid term breaks and zoo trips and the not too distant return of the longer evenings which means more playtime.

It was then that I had to stop myself. So much time is spent wishing away the now, believing things will be better at this time, that time, holiday time, weekend time and not enough time is spent appreciating what we have in the here and now. “You don’t have to wait until the weekend to have fun” I reminded my children. “Most of you finish school by 2:25, the evening is your own- if you just got stuck in and got that homework out of the way”.

Unconvinced by my reasonings, the usual protestations about the injustice of life and homework took place, so I persisted. I spoke to them about redirecting the daily effort that they put into complaining, into productivity. I reminded them that if they just focused they could get that homework done in a reasonable time and if they stopped killing each other mid-task they could also sort out their rooms in ten minutes.

“This year I want things to be different, we will enjoy our weekdays”, I insisted ever so slightly manically.

A call came from upstairs to say that there was a half-eaten teacake and the baby’s soother in the bottom of the toilet. For good measure someone had already pee’d on it.

As I fished the offending items from the bottom of the loo another call came, this time to tell me that the dishwasher wasn’t working.

I looked at the soother and tea-cake and thought about the mountain of dishes that would need washing by virtue of the fact that Chicken Tikka Masala was on the menu for dinner tonight. I figure there are exceptions to every rule and this must be one of them.  This is not a moment I want to live in.  I want to fast-forward to that moment, when at some stage this week hopefully, the repair man arrives!!