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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

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

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.

 

Mamma Musings

Make Your Home Safer and Healthy For the Tiny Humans In Your Home

One thing that you learn when becoming a parent is just how much your home is a potential accident waiting to happen. Things you wouldn’t have even thought of before having children can now be the biggest thing ever and can be a real problem when raising some tiny humans. The reality of them being able to pull something over on themselves or fall off things can be very real. Especially as they grow and can suddenly reach things that they couldn’t before. So what are some things to look out for to make sure that your home is a safe and healthy place for them to be? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Door Locks and Latches

There are so many things that you wouldn’t have thought were a problem around the home pre-children. A lock on the fridge might have just been something that you joked about to keep you from snacking. But with kids, it can be a reality. They could get their fingers trapped if they manage to open it, and worse, could get themselves stuck in there if you have a large American style fridge-freezer. The same goes for securing away cleaning products. Things like laundry tabs or dishwasher tablets can look like sweets to a toddler, so they need to be kept out of reach (and out of sight).

Keep Pests Under Control

They say that we are never too far away from a mouse or a rat, especially if you live in a city. So we need to think about this kind of thing with children too. If pests around the home aren’t kept under control, then it can be bad for our children’s health. They test out a lot of things with their mouth, so if there are droppings around the house, then it can be quite dangerous. So looking into something like Terminix and keeping the house cleaned regularly are the best ideas. Then you can have some peace of mind that your home is more safe and healthy, at least.

 

Wires and Cords

If you have things like window blinds, then before children, you might have just left the cord for them dangling down. But this can be rather dangerous for children. If you haven’t already, then get some ties for them, to wind them up when they are pulled down to their longest length. Babies, and toddlers especially, can get themselves into all sorts of spaces when they are on the move, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Secure Furniture

There was a video going around on social media not too long ago about twins in a room, and they were climbing up a bookshelf that then fell on one of them. This can easily be a reality in the home. You can’t just get rid of all of your furniture. But you can make it safer by securing it to the wall, for example. It takes a couple of minutes but can mean a much safer environment for your little ones to be on, especially if it is in their room.

 

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

International Woman’s Day 2017

So yes we have our own day. A day to celebrate woman rights. But we shouldn’t have to have a day.

Gender equality and inclusion should be a given, not something we need to fight for.  As some of you already know, as well as being a mother and blogger, I work full time as an accountant.  The issue of gender equality is a hot topic around boardroom tables.  I have seen a marked improvement in efforts made by corporates to close the gender gap, however I am under no illusion……. there is still a long way and in some case a very very long way to go.

There have been lots of studies conducted in this area. One very recent one was by Content marketing agency Axonn Media who surveyed 108 parents on their working life and found that being a mum still presents greater professional challenges than being a Dad, even in 2017.

Research from its Gender in Marketing 2017 report reveals that 62% of Mums said that parenthood hampered their career, compared to just to 24% of Dads.

However, despite the obstacles working mums face, parents on both sides of the gender divide have challenges to overcome.

The top 3 complicating work factors for working parents are traveling and meetings (55%), working hours (48%) and lack of flexibility (34%) from their employer. I can see the lack of flexibility issues as being a key topic for discussion these days.  With significant technology advances working from home is so much easier, logging on from home, dialing into calls, emails at your fingertips.  Your precise working location is being much less significant. In fact I know of some companies who actually promote a day a week at home due to office space constraints.

It does seem however that companies are failing to capitalise on flexibility despite parents valuing it more than ever before when it comes to approaching their work. For me in any work contract negotiations it would be one of the items top of the agenda.

Another interesting finding of the study is the differences between men and women when asked “Which aspects of working life are the most important”. What I thought interesting was the breakdown of why  men and women said they work! Salary topped the list for men while doing something they love topped the list for women. See top 5 opposite. For me personally id agree with findings, for me enjoying what I do is key, getting paid well is a bonus. Lets face it if you leave your kids behind for 8-9 hours a day you want to me doing something you love.  I’d find it very hard to leave them all week and hate the job also.

 

So as we celebrate International Womans Day I am grateful for the advances made in closing the gender gap, I am optimistic for the future that this will continue albeit slowly.

I am humbled and proud of the hundreds of thousands of women who marched in Dublin today to #strike4repeal.

As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said: “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water”.

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

 

 

 

Mamma Musings

Its what I wish for…..

This post was prompted by a discussion on a parenting discussion board, when somebody asked what is that we want for our kids.  For me the answer was easy the doing not so much.

Just over a year ago our family lost an incredible person – Granda by name but so much more in reality. I’m the oldest grandchild – he was my best friend, my confidant, the person I asked for advice, the person I trusted unquestionably, the person I loved more than I express in words.  In some ways I was incredibly lucky to have had him for 34 years, but on the flip side having had him so long meant the good bye was incredibly painful and a pain this still strikes me out of the blue on the bus to work, doing the shopping often when I least expect it.  We had an unbreakable bond.

At 88 healthy years old, he knew his time was up and in his own words he was ready to go. He told me not to be sad that he was ready to go because he lived his life, he saw the world, he had a family who loved him, he was happy.

He used to brag about seeing every country in the world during his navy days, something many of us can only aspire to have done. He had many different jobs, he loved his family and everybody who knew him knew just how much. He loved life, he really did. I was sent a poem the evening he passed away entitled “Miss me but let me go”, the words were exactly what he would have said to me.  I have a chain engraved with these words and his initials, it means the world to me.

From that day I have vowed for mine and my boys sake to live our lives.   Sometimes that means just ignoring the pile of washing on the floor while I play with the boys, saying no to that work event, giving the kids the requested fish fingers and waffles rather than stressing about their greens. It means being present, ignoring my phone, the work emails, the calls when its our time in the evening after work.  Its easy to get caught up in the cycle of work and bills etc.  That’s always going to be there but its how I deal with it thats changed.

Its all about perspective and I can honestly say I have a lot more of that now.  So in honour of a great man, what I really wish for  my kids is that they too can say they lived their lives. Life is after all for living.

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Mamma Musings

Uniforms – do you love or loath them?

My friends give me a hard time about this, I most definitely have a uniform.  I spend 37.5 hours a week (and sometimes more!) in an large corporate office for my work as an accountant so day to day I usually wear some combination of suit, smart trousers top or skirt/ top/ jacket combo. This has spilled into my personal life and I more often than not find myself reaching for the work trousers or work tops when going places. I am drawn to these types of clothes spending so much of my time in an office no doubt has done this!

Interestingly I went to both primary and secondary school in uniform wearing schools and I am sending the boys to a uniform wearing school.  I know not everybody does but I like uniforms in school. I like the way the kids are dressed the same, there is no pressure on kids to be in branded gear, there is no pressure to be in different clothes every day, it promotes a more equal social environment in my view anyway.

The Research

I was sent an info graphic by 4imprint which contains some interesting statistics on wearing a uniform see opposite for more information and findings.

I did have a little chuckle about red colour in uniforms reducing performance.  My secondary school uniform had an all red tracksuit for P.E but blue school jerseys for hockey and soccer, obviously this was the main contributing factor to my less than brilliant PE performance over the years!!

Having been a uniform wearer I would definitely subscribe to the claim that it helps contribute to a sense of community and shared values, in some ways it reinforces why we were all there – while we all may have wanted different things at the end, we shared a journey to get to our own goals.

Quite interestingly is the very last part of the inforgraphic which shows how the colour of uniforms affects perceptions. In reality what this shows to me is how social norms have developed over time as they were the colours historically used by certain professions. For example if the police arrived at the scene of a crime a pale pink uniform it would create quite the stir. We expect them in blue, same as we expect the consultant in white coat. Some interesting findings above and it reinforces my own positive view on the use of uniforms in schools.  Our kids wear what their school tells them. In time, a few of us will have jobs that require certain clothes while some wear printed t-shirts as a uniform.

Do you have a subconscious uniform like me? Do you favour the schools with uniforms or are you the total opposite like the individuality the non uniform displays?

Would love to hear your thought.

Take Care

~Mamma F

Note: This is a collaborative post