Tag Archives: motherhood

Sock puppets

I got the bright idea into my head the other day to make sock puppets with the kids. Considering that today was a rainy day, it provided me with the perfect opportunity to make them. Besides, I knew there was a special reason for keeping those odd socks.

The kids were very excited and intrigued when I told them that I had a button box. They loved sifting through the various types of buttons and choosing which ones to use as eyes and noses for their puppet. I roped Peter into making a puppet too. The table was littered with buttons, thread, felt and other bits and bobs.

After much finger pricking, and misplaced buttons, my little fellah, Mr Snufflepig, came to life.

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I had great fun playing with him and the girls. They were totally convinced that Mr Snufflepig was real and carried out conversations with him and gave him kisses and cuddles. It makes me appreciate what a genius Jim Henson was.

In the meantime, Peter was still sitting at the table, tongue stuck out in concentration, creating his little protege,
Mr Ruffdog

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I did make the children laugh but I will never be as good as Kevin Clash, what a legend!

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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

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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)

Method

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...

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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?

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Who needs television?

Really?! I mean, children are so easily amused. Take my children for instance. Plonk them onfront of the washing machine and they pretend that they are in the cinema.

What kid doesn’t love getting messy with a paint brush, paper and bright colours. This is always a winner until the kid tries finger painting. Then it is time for some disaster management!

A favourite past-time is by far flicking through the many, many books they have on their own dedicated book shelves. You know when it has gone all quiet that they are sitting happily sifting through and reading their books. Either this or they are up to no good…

When it is not raining outside, no child wants to be stuck indoors. So on with the wellies and off out with them to explore, dig for worms, smell new blossoms and generally act the maggot.

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A bittersweet symphony…

Olwyn's first day

This day one year ago my beautiful daughter, Olwyn, was born to this world. Olwyn has been eager from the onset. She always wants things done now and is keen to get into whatever her bigger sister is playing with at the time. Olwyn gives such sweet smiles with the most expressive big blue eyes and she is always laughing or singing. She even manages to look cute when she is crying.

 Olwyn arrived in a rush after a short labour and one day early.  Peter was there with me every step of the way with words of encouragement when I thought I had enough. Olwyn’s birth brought us even closer as we supported each other through the emotional rollercoaster.

I did not use the epidural and I think this made things move along quicker. It also forced me to trust my body. It was very powerful and so different to the birth of my first daughter. With my first, Seren, I had the epidural and to some extent I felt lost and not in control. For Olwyn’s birth, when we arrived in the hospital (in a fluster) I was already 5 centimetres. The midwife (a man) let me at it and he was there more for guidance than anything else. He let us three at it and Olwyn was born an hour and a half after we first walked through the doors. I will never forget the thoughts, emotions, tears and laughter of pushing her little body into this world. The elation at my waters popping and her arrival will stay with me forever.

The kids playing

I went to shower after I fed Olwyn and let the new Daddy get acquainted with his precious bundle. When I arrived back in the room, I found him on the phone to his parents in Canada. He was cradling his head and wouldn’t look up. Immediately, I had a gut reaction that all was not well. Peter’s grandmother had passed away that night, about five hours before Olwyn was born. The air was heavy with that news  lingering and sinking in. We were left in the room for a good while to cry tears of joy and sadness. The staff in the hospital were so considerate.

Peter’s grandmother was a great woman and we all miss her dearly. In a way, her passing and Olwyn’s birth is what life is all about. A bittersweet day.

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Nicholas the Scarecrow

On Halloween, we walked up to Airfield National Trust in Dundrum. Airfield is an urban farm and gardens in Dublin city. Airfield House dates back to the 1820’s and is still standing. There is a beautiful walled-in garden that has the most amazing herbaceous borders. The trees were filled with little ghosts and lots of carved out pumpkins. The place was magical. Although rain was forecast, the weather behaved itself and the rain stayed at bay.

Animals are a prime attraction for the children who visit here – hens, pigs, sheep, cows and a gaggle of geese. Airfield was choc-a-block with scarecrows made by the visitors. Some were quite life like, although others were just downright creepy. The idea was to make our own scarecrow. I loved this idea as it really gets the kids’ imagination going. I wonder what it feels like for a little child to stand under a scarecrow, with its arms flapping in the wind and its huge grin leering down.  

Seren and Olwyn were fascinated with these creatures towering above them and even more excited at the prospect of making their own. So off we went to the designated area to assemble the scarecrows. There was a nice lady, dressed up as a cow, on hand to help out. There was a pile of clothes to choose from, although we did bring our own. We found a discarded Keith Haring designer jacket and picked up a few other pieces. We went about picking up straw. The place was a hive of activity with other families creating their own masterpieces.

There was a table set up in the centre of the tent with string, coloured paper, markers and other craft material for the children to create the scarecrows’ faces. Pots were provided to stick these onto. Seren was enthralled with the scissors and it took some enticing to get her away from it. Seren drew the scarecrow a little picture to put in his pocket.

 She named him Nicholas. This did not come as a surprise as she names everyone Nicholas! Next job was to hang the guy up. Our cow-lady friend came over and helped us find a spare post to staple him to. Although our hands were frozen, we were all proud of our new “friend”.

This was a great way to spend Halloween. We walked home full of chat about this and that. Seren even got see fireworks for the first time in her life. This was magical for her. When we got home, we lit our pumpkin and Seren got dressed up as a pirate.

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