Tag Archives: life

The sloth and the snail.

Today started off at 5.20 am with Olwyn crying to get up due to those troublesome canines bothering her. They have bothered her now for near on three months and they are still a no-show! Poor thing. Olwyn goes around with her fingers permanently stuck in her mouth and leaves puddles of saliva in her trail. Anyway, I settled Olwyn and put her back to bed at 6am. I hopped back into bed and fell  into my slumber only to be woken by the bright-eyed Seren sitting beside me at 6.20 am, proudly announcing “I had a really nice dream! It was about lions!”.

Needless to say,  my good intentions in writing my research paper today were not fulfilled. There was a major dose of fatigue today! It is seven weeks until I give my first “professional” paper. The attendance to the week-long conference is in excess of 500 people. Gulp! No pressure. However, I was no closer to a finished product today than I was a week ago. The thoughts of sitting down and poring over books seemed torturous. I had to give a tutorial in the early afternoon though so I had no choice but to go into the office.

To add to that, it was actually a beautiful sunny day and all I wanted to do was stay home with the family and enjoy the garden. I called it quits after the tutorial and headed home. Alas, the sun was now hiding (Murphy’s Law) but we still got to enjoy the garden. Seren and Olwyn found a little snail and were intrigued at this little creature, who carried his house on his back. We sat on the bench in the reappearing sun for about ten minutes marvelling over the snail, touching his tentacles, watching him crawl. It was the moment of the day! I am so happy to have witnessed this.

Meet Sammy the Snail

Sammy snail is never worried


Filed under Family, Motherhood, research

Velvety sin.

I made this for dessert for our Easter Sunday feast. Yes, it has taken me a month and a half to post it, but better late than never! It was to die for. The chocolate was so rich.  I used O’Connaill’s organic chocolate, which is made in Co. Cork. The smell of the chocolate alone was enough to send me into a cocoa coma.

The chocolate really acted as a launch pad for the floral-citrus flavours of the cardamom. This spice changed the mousse into a luxury, which was sinfully delicious. I loved crushing the cardamom pods in the mortar, releasing the smell throughout the kitchen. The kids loved sticking their noses in to experience this new smell.

I poured the mousse into little Moroccan tea glasses. It was great because I could prepare it and put them in the fridge the day before. This saved on time the next day amidst the frenzy of cooking three other courses.

Chocolate & cardamom mousse, amaretti and coffee

Chocolate & Cardamom Mousse

2oog good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

100ml single cream

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon caster sugar

half teaspoon cardamom seeds

(this serves 4 people)


Break the chocolate into a glass bowel suspended over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir often to make sure that no lumps form.

Ready for action!

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, egg yolks, sugar and cardamom seeds.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the whisked eggs into the chocolate mixture.

Fold in gently to allow air into the mixture

Pour the chocolate mixture into individual glasses and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.

Pour into cups or glasses, even espresso cups will do

This recipe is taken from Homemade: Irresistible recipes for every occasion by Clodagh McKenna, 2010

Of course this would not have achieved without the help of my two trusty tasters helpers.

Olwyn's gobstopper

Seren's chocolate beard

Then it was seriously a case of death by chocolate…

I don't need instructions on how to eat this!

See! I am an expert at it.

I think Babi and Olwyn approve.

And the award for the biggest chocaholic goes to...


Filed under food, Recipes

Letting go…

When I was pregnant I did not realise that I would go through a process of missing my bump once the baby was born. Well, I did. Even though I had a beautiful child in my arms, I missed the presence of my bump. Little did I realise that this was the beginning of many steps throughout life, separating from my precious baby. A continuous weaning of sorts until she reaches womanhood.

Looking into the future

Tonight is the first night that my child is spending away from our home. Seren is staying with her grannies’ (yes, that is plural and that story has enough material for ten blogs!) and her excitement at her impending first sleep over was a joy to experience. She is three years and three months now. Seren had her bag packed yesterday, toothbrush and toothpaste and all, including ten random books. Some motherly intervention led to a more sensible bag being packed. 

Seren’s grannies were as just excited and off I sent them in the car like giddy school kids. Seren is going to have so much fun and freedom in their house. What child wouldn’t like to stay in an artist’s country retreat, surrounded by an oak wood, wild stream, acres of meadows, and an enchanted castle next door.

Still, the house is so quiet now without her smiley face. It makes me think of what other moments in her life I will have to let go… the first day she goes to school; the first night she stays at a friend’s house; when she goes on school trips and the day she finally says she is moving out and starting her own life.

The act of letting go for me as a parent is not just associated with physical acts of separation, but also with allowing the development of oneself as a person. I, as a mother, am going to have to cope and deal with Seren growing up and forming her own ideals and opinions. I know that coming from a different generation I will probably not always agree with what these opinions will be but that I will have to accept and respect them.

Anyway, Seren’s little sister Olwyn misses her big sister. Every now and then we hear “where’s Sewen?”. Although Seren and Olwyn share the usual quibble found between siblings of that age, normally concerning who gets to play with Anna the doll, they are like peas in a pod. Olwyn misses Seren but at the same time she is relishing the undivided attention of her mother and father. I can only hope that we teach our daughters to always love and appreciate each other and help build a strong foundation in their relationship.

Say cheese! Our attempt of taking a photograph of two toddlers while smiling.

What steps of separation have you gone through with your children growing up? How have you coped as a parent in the act of letting go?


Filed under Family, Motherhood

Academic Anomoly

An anomoly can be described as something unique that goes against the grain, diverges from the established norm, breaks rules and trends. The pattern in academic life goes as thus: gain a degree; then a master’s; embark on a doctoral; followed by a post-doctoral and hopefully gain a tenure in your field in university. Sigh! I guess this normally takes approximately 10 years or less.

I have come across plenty of people who have been successful at this and are still in their early thirties. Well, I am an academic anomoly. Why? Well, I fell into academia later in life than the norm. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I partied instead.  My aim was to get a degree. This was achieved in 2006. But here I am in 2011 and I am doing my PhD.

I look on jealously at those postgraduate students in the Reading Room who can devote hours and days on end to their research. They are at liberty to pour over books until the small hours of the morning. Yet, I struggle to keep my eyes open past ten o’clock in the evening. After dinner, playing, pyjamas and mental mind games to convince a 3 year old it is time for bed, my brain is jelly and the last thing I can decipher is the uses of the subjunctive forms in Old Irish.  These students don’t know how lucky they are.

Then there are those who are fortunate enough to have gained funding and scholarships to aid them in their research. Far be it that they have to worry about where the money is going to come from to pay the fees. Oh sure, the part-time job helps to pay for drinks, food and rent. But here I am cowering in worry as to how I am going to come up with the funds to pay for another 2 years on the research register and at the same time pay for 2 adults and 2 children to survive in the capital city. Is it a selfish act and should I join the real world? I guess most would say yes. I should put children first.

On a totally superficial level, I arrive into university everyday and enter a fashion parade. All these young hipsters have so much time (and grant money) to dedicate to their wardrobes and appearances. Everyone trying to out do the other in an effort to appear unique, when really what happens is that they all look alike. I get up in the morning and blindly gather some clothes and throw them on before dressing the kids. As for putting on make-up and doing my hair, forget it. A pony-tail is suffice. So I arrive in a fluster after cycling in and I realise my bra is on inside out or my top is on backwards!

At the end of the week between work, teaching and family commitments I have probably done about three hours productive research. Sometimes I feel like I am spitting in the ocean when I think about the vast amount of work I have to do still. Frequently, I lack confidence in my capability of completing this doctorate. Then there is a glimmer of hope and I see myself in the cape, graduating and sighing in relief. This is what I hold on to and I know deep down that I will achieve what I have set out to do, even in the face of all these adversities.


Filed under research

My trusty steed

I got a new bicycle for my birthday last October. My husband bought it for me after a three year sojourn from cycling. Just before the birth of Seren, I fell and broke my knee. That put an end to my cycling days for a while. Back then, I had a lovely yellow mountain bike. When I was out of action, my bike was parked outside all alone. Bit by bit, pieces would get thieved. One day the saddle would get nicked, then the wheels etc. until one day there was only a sad skeleton attached to the pole! Oh, they are ruthless.

I yearned to be able to cycle again. But alas no bike was had and my knee and leg was weak for more than a year. Then I became pregnant again with Olwyn and well I really didn’t feel like taking cycling up again. So last October Peter was missing one day. I think we were actually going out that night and he was expected home. But he was late! I was getting mad and got annoyed when he got home – poor him. It turns out he was at the bike shop ordering my bike. Oh, I felt bad. We all went to pick it up the next day. Seren was so excited that there was a seat for her.

Well, I was only on my bike for a few weeks when the bad weather hit us. I got a puncture. Turns out someone must have been jealous of my bike in college as it was a staple that caused the puncture! With that, there was snow, Christmas and more snow to compete with. I only managed to get my tire mended in January. I haven’t looked back since…

I love the freedom of cycling. I sleep much better as a result of the exercise and it is a great way to relax and unwind after a long day of staring at words. I try to bring Seren out at the weekends and she gets a kick out the bell and going over the bumps.

I have to admit though, drivers really are not aware of their surroundings and it is shocking. And YES, I do follow the rules of the road!


Filed under Family, Motherhood