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Mamma Musings

Mamma Musings

So my oldest is starting school….

I can’t quite believe my oldest, my  first born, my gorgeous blue eyed, blonde haired, gentle boy is about to start school. He is about to enter the world all by himself.  It seems like yesterday he was this teeny tot curled up in his mosses basket while I stared at him for hours on end terrified something would happen to him. How is he almost five?! For almost five amazing years you have made our lives complete, you have shown us what ultimate love is, what its like to love so much your heart hurts, what its like to protect with fierceness that’s unrivalled.  We watch the way you have taken on the big brother role with all your heart. You teach him, you help him, you drive him nuts at times but we know you love him like he loves you unconditionally. Its magical to watch the bond between you to watch the gentleness in the way you assist him when he falls or cant quite reach that toy. I know you are ready to enter the world now by yourself and in my mind starting school is that first step.  You are starting to dip your toes into the vast world that’s out there. I want to protect you every minute of every day but I know I must let you off yourself to start exploring but you know I’m here, I’m always here for you.

Back to school

Back to school

When you go to bed I often lay your school bits on the floor, to touch them, to imagine what it will be like that first morning to see you all dressed up ready for the off. I promise I wont cry, ill be brave like I know you will be.

What we got

I don’t know whether it was excitement, nerves or just because he is my first I’m really organised for September.  I took advantage of the Marks & Spencer’s sale when they had 20% off their uniforms so I stocked up! The non iron shirts had me sold! I got the trousers with the anti stain as I’m pretty sure if its anything like he is now there will be plenty of running and jumping going on in the school yard so hard wearing will be a must.  All that’s left is the school jumper and tracksuit. Next weekends plan hopefully! Actually and shoes but I think ill leave them another few weeks.

The lovely people at Sambro sent us  the Cars school bag and stationary (pictured above) and it was incredibly well received in this house. His bedroom is cars themed so there was great excitement when a Lightening McQueen backpack landed through the letterbox. Its a great bag as the front can be wiped down easily, its just the right size for his two books (so cute) and matching stationary is super cute and adds a fun dimension to it. The straps are adjustable and comfortable too. It also reasonably priced which is a big plus for what can be a very expensive time of year.  I’m all about easy clean and between the uniform and the backpack I think I have this sos’d. With some final words of inspiration from Dr Seuss……. we are starting a new journey, we are nerveous, we are excited but most importantly we are ready to take on new challenges and help my little boy as he takes off on life’s next great adventure.

 

 

Note: We were sent the Sambro bag pack however all opinions and tears shed where my own 🙂
Mamma Musings

#Living Arrows 30/52 – The ordinary moments

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

 

I’m pretty impressed with myself that ive joined the lovely Donna from What the Redhead Said linkie again.  I love the concept and I can’t wait to share my posts each week, its certainly become a key part of my blogging routine. This week for me its all about embracing the ordinary moments. I work full time so sometimes I feel pressure that when I’m with the kids ive to take them to play centres, to activities to all these perceived exciting (and often expensive) activities. But really its not like that. This week we walked to a lovely park near where we lived, we got coffee and treats in the shop and we quite literally sat and watched the world go by. The gentle fall of the Liffey as it cascaded down the weir was just so lovely. The kids enjoyed their picnic and mama enjoyed her coffee. Pure bliss.

The Mamma Fairy Blog

The Mamma Fairy Blog on Instagram

 

Later in the week we stopped by for another picnic this time in the much bigger Phoenix Park in Dublin it was really busy but such a wonderful space to have in the City Centre.  Totally unexpectedly we ended up feeding deer (under the guidance of the park wardens).  It was just magical.  They are such beautiful magical animals, really docile. Almost exactly what I had expected them to be like.   If you asked my kids right now what was their favourite activity to do they will most likely say go for a picnic.  Its simple, its inexpensive and when I’m there I’m totally present and if I’m honest I think that’s its partly why they love it.

Feeding Deer

Feeding Deer

Us parents can feel awful albeit unnecessary pressure to keep the kids entertained with all these high octane activities, that’s not reality, that’s not what life is about. Of course all those things are enjoyable too but sometimes its just nice to find joy in those ordinary moments. I still remember growing up rolling down the hill known to most Dubliners as the Popes cross in the Phoenix Park. I remember picnics at the beach in Donegal with my parents and siblings.  I remember getting soaked having races on the beach in Donegal. I was on lunch one day in a restaurant during work and I saw a quote which I’m reminded of now “Joy comes to us in the ordinary moments, we risk missing out when we get too busy chasing the extraordinary”. I don’t know who said or wrote it but its quite apt for the world we live in today.

 

Living Arrows
Mamma Musings

Living Arrows 29/52 – Great outdoors

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

I have been a fan of Donna’s Blog for some time and I kept meaning to join the Living Arrows linkie and never got around to it.  So im super excited to join for the first time.  This week in the Mamma Fairy house its all about the great outdoors.

Wild West (and wet) Donegal 

Wild Atlantic Way Donegal

Wild Atlantic Way Donegal

We spent a wonderful weekend in an extremely wet Donegal! By 12 o’clock on the Saturday having arrived late Friday, I heard “im bored” more than once as the rain lashed against the window pane.   And I mean lashed,  it looked like the  middle of Winter out. The Dada Fairy suggested we don the rain gear and head our to explore the place where he grew up.  The kids needed no encouragment, I on the other hand wasnt quite as eager!

Wild Atlantic Way Donegal

Wild Atlantic Way Donegal

We took some photos on our walk and I look back on them and im reminded of how much history and memories places like this hold. Memories that will soon be long gone as generations depart and move on. This is the Dada Fairys home place and he has such a strong emotional tie to here and its (and his own) past. He loved telling us stories some his own, some he heard over the years.  This was where he played as a child, where he went fishing, exploring, climbing walls, hiding in ditchs and messing no doubt.  He is a total outdoors person and I can see how much the kids are like him and how much they love being outside.

I’m so glad I didnt let the rain get in the way of our day exploring as I was very tempted to say no we must be mad.   We came home hours later, we were soaked through, the kids were exhausted from the walking but most importantly they were happy, happy we were in Donegal, happy we were all together, happy we were having fun and quite literally dancing in the rain. There really is something quite magical about the squeals of your child dancing in the rain.

In the words of the Yeats – “Dance there upon the shore;What need have you to care; For wind or water’s roar?And tumble out your hair”

 

 

Living Arrows
Mamma Musings

How to Have a Sizzling Summer Holiday without Leaving Home

Summer holidays can be the highlight of the year for some of us, giving us the chance to escape the stresses of everyday life and relax in our own little paradise. However, not everyone can go on their dream holiday every year, for a wide variety of reasons ranging from family commitments to work schedules. As many of us are trying to tighten our belts in these uncertain economic times, it’s sometimes necessary to skip the expensive summer holiday and make our own fun at home instead. While this might not inspire the same enthusiasm as a tropical island break, it’ll certainly prevent us from worrying as much and might even give us a whole new perspective on what a summer holiday is. Read these tips and have a spectacular summer in the comfort of your own home.

Time Off

Me time

Taking some “me” time is good for the soul

Just because you’re not going away on holiday, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time off work to enjoy the summer. If you’re going to be spending time with family, make sure you sync up your holidays so you can make the most out of your holiday time. Book one or two weeks off and make sure you don’t do anything even resembling work during this time! If you or your family are known for working at home when you really shouldn’t be (ahem thats you Dada Fairy), then designate a cupboard for all of your work things to go in during the holidays. Make the cupboard off-limits for as long as you possibly can, and you’ll be surprised at how relaxing your at-home holiday is.

Plan Days In

Fun days in

Days in can be just as fun

While days out can be fun, having special days in at home can be cheaper, more relaxing and just as action packed. If you have children, planning themed days for them in the house can provide the whole family with endless activities to enjoy. You can have a family cooking class, start a band together, become artists or do a spot of gardening. All of these activities are as educational as they are fun, and will keep your family active during the summer. If you don’t have children, you can still take these ideas and enjoy them with your partner or with friends. Time away from the television is definitely quality time, however you choose to spend it!

Get Outdoors

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, such as a garden, yard or even a park close by, then make sure you take full advantage of this during your summer holiday at home. Spending time outdoors is something we don’t do nearly enough these days, so leave your phones inside and go out for a game of lawn tennis, football or even an obstacle course. For a whole day of outdoor fun, you could plan a family olympics, including as many activities you can think of. You may even wish to invest in a paddling pool or trampoline to really make the summer one to remember, and keep the kids busy for hours at a time!

Brighten Up Your Home

Nothing screams summer like a beautifully bright living space, so why not take some time to restyle your sitting room or kitchen? You can simply rearrange your furniture so that it doesn’t block any of that glorious sunshine, or your could add some summery home accessories that give the space some splashes of colour. For more long-term solutions, try painting your walls a lighter colour, changing dark carpets to light ones, or for something totally wow check out these amazing internal bifolds to your living area. We intalled outdoor ones and they are seriously amazing this time of year a the garden becomes an extenion of the kitchen and we have a huge space for us and the  kids to play.  For us it has really opened up ou home and made what was once a dark space into a bright and airy space.

Summer Foods

Summer foods

Summer foods

Perhaps the easiest way to get in a summer mood is to eat summery food, so get in the kitchen and cook up some treats for your family and friends to enjoy at a summer party. This could be in the garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one, or in your newly decorated living room! Find yourself some brightly coloured summer recipes, enlist the help of your loved ones and enjoy a day of summer cocktails, delicious salads and homemade ice lollies. Even if the sun isn’t shining outside, as long as you have some summer music, tasty treats and good company, you’ll be feeling super summery all day long. 

 

Note – collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Move over Fidget Spinner here comes Mokuru

Mokuru the latest craze???

Who hasnt heard of the Fidget Spinner??!! Very few I reckon. However I think its reign is about to come to a halt as the Mokuru explodes onto the market.

Mokuru

Mokuru

What is Mokuru

The Mokuru is the latest toy craze which by the looks of things is set to be as big as the Fidget Spinner. Its a desktop toy made out of beechwood thats tests your hand eye coordination as well as skill and patience.

How to Mokuru!!

I am not ashamed to admit when this barrel shaped object appeared in my letter box I didnt know what to do, fear not my 5 year old came to the rescue and quite skillfully showed me how it was done.  Its it so addicitve.  We have been trying to beat each others records of “bouncing” it along the kitchen table. You can also use it two player or aim for Mokuru Master and use up to 5 of them at the one time. See here to see it in action and some commentarty from its creator.

The Verdict 

Mokuru

Mokuru

Sorry kids this one is mine! This is the ideal office desk toy! I always find myself doodling at my desk in work so decided to take the Mokuru in to work and I am slighlty obsessed. It brillant for people like me who love to fidget or doodle while concentrating on something. Its available from Smyths and Amazon and I really think this is the next big thing for kids, like the spinners the market will be flooded with fakes and copies over time but do look for the original.  Priced around €10.

 

 

Note: We were sent the Mokuru for review however all views remain mine or the boys where appropriate
Mamma Musings

Planning a holiday? Here are some money saving tips and tricks I use

Tips and tricks when booking holdiays 

Since I published this post I have been asked lots of times for any money saving tips and tricks I have for taking the family long haul.  I thought I’d set out some of those which helped us  anyway!

  • Source: Pixabay

    The money jar

I know this is old fashioned but what we tend to do when we book a holiday like Toronto is keep a jar of our loose change and convert it the week before we head away.  We had 8 months of saving for Toronto and had a nice sum of coins saved which converted into CAD$225. Along the same vein and I know this sounds a bit crazy myself and my husband put aside €20 each month and covert it that month to the currency of our destination this meant another CAD$470  to add to the pot.

  • Deals, Deals Deals

I am the queen of the deal! I just love a good deal. I scour the internet for good deals in our chosen destination.  Groupon is your friend. For example we had pancakes for lunch one of the days at Krepesz, that was pancakes for 4 and drinks for CAD$50.  While in Niagara Falls I booked the Captain Jacks Fun Zone  tickets which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and I saved 70% off the normal price.  There are so many options in these places so by buying in advance (the kids and the adults) know what included and we have a set amount of tokens each. There are also lots of hotel options on Groupon too with great saving or added extras.  A couple we spoke to at breakfast had got a great deal at the Sheraton on the Falls via Groupon with a Falls view room.

  • Shop around especially for Hotels

There are a myriad of hotel booking options with varying rates of discounts.

Source: Pixabay

One of my personal favourites is booking.com.  Also check out Expedia or hotels.com or as mentioned above Groupon hotel deal. Sign up for alerts for these site to keep up to dates on the latest deals and offerings.  Do shop around as rates can vary considerably.  It can also be a good option to check call the hotel direct as I have found that some will match the rates found elsewhere.

 

  • Flights

Source: Pixabay

This one is bit more tricky and sometime can just be down to the fact that the stars align and sales and timing of your trip work out. But failing that some things you can do include:

  • Settting up Sky Scanner alerts – im a big fan of this. You get emails relating to prices changes for the flight you are considering.
  • Timing – some times of the year are simply cheaper than others so do your research and look for the off peak times in the destinations you plan on visiting
  • Avios, this is currency of a number of airlines and you can collect point by purchasing flights or with the airline or any of its partners. For example you can convert you SuperValu real rewards to Avios points.  I had a quick look and its around 8,000 points for a return European flight. Not too bad!

Has anybody any other good holiday saving tips they have feel free to add them in the comments.

 

Note: Contains #affliate links
Cuddle Fairy
Mamma Musings

Lost in translation – its the holiday season

School is almost out, the holidays are booked, the bags packed and the sun cream is bought.  According to a study commissioned by Holiday Autos the average adult is able to rattle off up to 15 words with French being the most common language.

Ill admit (sorry Dada Fairy) my husband is one of those holiday makers who loves to learn a few words before we depart what amuses me also is the kids get in on it too. Now don’t get me wrong in an increasingly multicultural world we live it this is something I absolutely encourage. One funny episode springs to mind. We were in Italy for a family weeding and when we finished a beautiful meal in a restaurant in Lake Como my son departed with a wave calling “ ciao” to the waiter. The poor guys was speechless this teeny tot speaking to him in his own language. He knew we were Irish holiday makers over for a wedding. To make it even funnier he insisted we all come back to the table and gave us a round of limocello (obviously not to the kid!!).

Lovely gesture by the restaurant who im sure still remembers the teeny tot, who is now 5 who greeted him in his native language.

I laughed at some of the findings of the survey which reveals, the average holidaymaker has experienced three ‘lost in translation’ moments when on holiday.

According to the poll…

  • One man asked for directions and kept being told the price of a chicken.
  • A holidaymaker thought he was asking a waiter where the toilet was, but was actually repeatedly asking where the man’s wife was.
  • Another asked for egg on his pancake and got a raw egg.
  • One respondent asked for a lemonade and ended up buying a newspaper.
  • Another respondent regularly got the French words for rabbit and bread around the wrong way.
  • A gentleman got a surprise in France when he asked for jam to go with his croissant and got a condom.
  • One respondent ended up with a slap around the face. To this day he doesn’t know what he said

For anybody who wants to prevent the ‘lost in translation’ moments Holiday Auto have produced handy language guides that are available online and include top foreign phrases to help avoid any of the above.

I recall another episode long before we had kids when we visited China. My husband got food positioning and a quick call to his mother revealed a brandy and port should to do the trick. I was swiftly dispatched down the hotel bar for this miracle cure however I spoke no Mandarin and the bar man had little English. He duly poured what I though was a Bandy and Port however he told me that would be the equivalent of €500. I almost fainted. Queue frantic drawing and pointing at menus and we seem to have found a middle ground and he charged me what I though I was paying around €10 interestingly enough I still walked away with the same drink. I can also happily report it seemed to do the trick!!!

Note:  This post is collaborative post, content created by myself with thanks to Holiday Autos

 

Mamma Musings

Kids Afraid Of Flying? Try These Tips!

When it comes to holiday time, and you want to travel abroad, the chances are that you will need to take a plane. The trouble is, many children – perhaps including your own – have an entirely rational fear of boarding a plane, flying thousands of feet up in the air, and landing on a hard surface at tremendous speeds.

Let’s be honest – can you blame them? Flying is an entirely unnatural thing for a human being to do, and even though most of us have flown dozens – maybe hundreds – of times, it can be easy to forget what a scary experience it might be. If your child suffers from anxiety about getting on a plane, read on. These tips might help – and maybe even help you calm your flying nerves, too.

 

Talk about it

Most children are afraid of the great unknown – it’s only natural. So the more you can introduce them to the concept of planes and flying, the better. Discuss planes, and point them out on the TV whenever you see them. Pick up a custom model aircraft or two and build them with your kids, helping them learn what all the different parts are called. And have a look around for any science museums in your local area that might have planes in them – perhaps one that you could go into the cockpit, for example.

Sounds and feelings

Part of the big issue with flying is that the noise and roar of the engines can be incredibly scary for young ears. It’s a good idea to get them familiar with the sort of sounds a plane makes, so try to get them making the whooshing and roaring while playing. Car washes are another good option – the noises the brushes and engines make are quite similar to a plane, and although scary a first for your child can often be a good starting point.

Tell the airline

Airlines tend to be pretty good with fearful children. They might offer your kids a chance to go and look at the cockpit and meet the captain or copilot, which can be incredibly reassuring. The stewarding team will also help your kids by giving them sweets – perfect for when the air pressure starts to affect their ears.

Bring entertainment

The more you can distract your kids, the less fearful they will be – it’s as simple as that. In-flight entertainment helps for longer flights, but for short hops bring along plenty of games and colouring in books to keep them busy, too. And snacks actually – all the snacks!!! 

Note: This is a collaborative post with Pic credit  – Pexels

 

 

Mamma Musings

Off the Scales Tips for Keeping Fish with Kids

A child’s first pet is an exciting thing. For some, it’s a puppy or kitten, but for others, it’s something a little more manageable. Fish can be an excellent choice for a first pet because they don’t require as much dedication as other, larger animals. While they can still require daily attention, they don’t need walking or playing with several times a day. Looking after fish can be a great way to teach your kids responsibility and empathy. However, there are some things you need to think about before you decide if you should get fish.

Deciding If Fish Are the Right Choice

People often think of fish as being an easy option when it comes to pets, but they aren’t necessarily as easy to care for as you might think. For one thing, it depends on the species of fish. Many fish are much more high maintenance than others and can be more expensive to keep. Plus, just because fish are small and often live in a tank, it doesn’t mean they don’t come with some of the same responsibilities as other pets. You’ll still need someone to feed them while you’re on holiday, and you still need to keep them clean and fed. You also need the space to keep them.

Keeping Fish Outdoors

While keeping fish in a tank or aquarium is one option, another possibility is having fish outside. It’s a fun choice if you already have a garden pond or you’ve been thinking of having one. It gives you the option to have much bigger fish, but you need to make sure they have enough space. If you want to keep something like koi carp, you need to make sure your pond is suitable. You’ll need to get a pond filter from Swell or a similar brand, or perhaps carefully choose the plants you put into the pond. Safety is essential to think about too. You need to cover your pond if you have kids.

Giving the Kids Responsibilities

Fish will help your kids to learn how to take care of their responsibilities. There are some tasks they should do regularly, but that don’t require too much effort. Feeding the fish should be simple, although watching how much they’re fed might be necessary. If the tank gets cloudy, you could be overfeeding them. Having something the kids can use to measure out the right amount of food can be useful. Children can also help with other tasks, like cleaning the tank.

Things You’ll Need to Do

If you’re going to get fish, you have to be prepared to do some work too. Some tasks are a bit much for kids to handle on their own. You will probably need to help with things like cleaning out the tank or pond, and it might be completely up to you with some setups. If you decide to keep tropical or marine fish, they can be a bit more work, and there are some jobs like testing the water that kids can’t do. And, of course, you’ll be responsible for paying for everything.

Keeping fish is one way of getting kids interested in animals and teaching them responsibility. However, make sure that getting them is the right choice.

 

#Note this is a collaborative post

Mamma Musings

Fixing Up the Family Home: Never-Ending Headache or a Fantastic Opportunity?

How far should you go when fixing up your home? Should you just get the basics done and leave it at that? Or should you take a more long-term approach and try to add as much value to your home as possible? These are questions most homeowners ask themselves, and there are arguments to be made for each of the options open to you.

If you let your home improvement plans drag on for too long, it can become a never-ending headache. But it can also be seen as a big opportunity, so you need to weigh up your options carefully. Let the information below help you out as you decide how to approach your home improvement plans.

 

There is Always Room for Improvement

The fact of the matter is, there’s always room for improvement. No matter how great your home is, there will always be things that you can or even will want to improve. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, though. On the one hand, it means that there will always be new ways in which you can add value to your home and make it more appealing to future buyers. On the other hand, it might mean that you keep doing more and more, and the task eventually overwhelms you. You don’t want to spend all your time and money on home upgrades.

Your Home Should be Unique to You

On a basic level, you want your home to be unique to you. No one wants to live in a dull drab home that they don’t feel suits them and their personal preferences. And that’s the main reason why people spend money on improving their home. If this is the mentality that you’re bringing to the table, you will probably not be thinking about the value that can be added to the home or what future buyers might want. This applies to the vast majority of people who fix up their homes and make changes.

 

However, a Unique Style Might Put Off Future Buyers

On the other hand, making your home unique to you can be risky. When you create a home design that is specific to your own preferences, you could put off other people. You might be wondering why this matters. You don’t want to sell your home, so why does it matter what other people think of it? Well, you might not want to sell your home now, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t want to at some point in the future. When that time comes, you don’t want people to be put off by design choices that are a little out of the box.

It’s Going to Cost You Money

If you want to make changes to your home, you’re going to have to spend money on it. This is just the way it is, and you should try to make sure that you improve your home in an affordable way. Remember, if you can make positive changes, the value of the home will rise. But that will be less useful if you spend so much money on upgrades that end up taking out high risk personal loans or dipping into your savings a lot. Just try to do it in a sustainable way, and a way that works for you.

But Your Investment Might Pay Off

The investment you make in your home might pay off if you make the right decisions and do the right things. This will help you to get the most from your home when it comes to selling because you will have made the most of your asset. You should definitely try to make sure that the upgrades you make to the home are all things that add overall value to your property. Not all changes you can make allow that, but many do. Think about what matters to real estate agents and buyers.

Some Homes Have More Room for Value Growth Than Others

It’s also important to point out that all homes are different, and that means that the room for growth differs depending on your property. If your property is currently valued lower than the market average for similar properties in your area, that suggests that there is plenty of potential for value growth. So, if you then decided to make big changes to your home and improve it in a variety of ways, you could find that the value of the home increases quite dramatically. But if your home is already one the most expensive around, even big changes might not push the value up by much.