Sunday, 19 October 2014

Halloween Plans

Halloween is fast approaching and I feel a little bit behind in terms of being organised this year. The girls have been making Halloween crafts of some description in preschool which they are very excited to show me when they get to bring home their art folders, before the mid-term break. They are also full of chat about what they are dressing up as, which is wonderful and all, but they keep changing their minds every five minutes. I think all decisions will be made very last minute and cobbled together out of whatever we have around the house. Which is probably how it should be.

Despite my grand plans to make her a Batgirl costume (well, a cape, at the very least) Sábha seems to have lost interest in that idea and now wants to be a bat. Or a cat. Or a witch like last year. Or a pumpkin. Or whatever costume she sees in shop windows on any given day. 

Lile will, most likely, be a princess (again). Or a cat. Or a princess cat. That girl knows what she likes.

Halloween 2013
I have grand plans of cracking open the craft stash and getting creative with the girls, but I know that realistically I'd be better holding off until the midterm break when we're bound to be trapped indoors due to inclement weather and I'll have to find something to entertain them. I have a few new 'spooky' ideas but I will definitely be revisiting some of last years crafts too.

Here's another few things I've discovered over the last few days that are on my mind to try:
  • I really want to try out Dr. How's Glowing Monster Slime recipe. I think the girls would really enjoy it. It looks very cool. I'd also love to try out her fake blood recipes, but I might have to figure out a substitute for the peanut butter as Sábha is allergic to it!
  • I think this adorable Unicorn costume would be handy enough to put together at the last minute and I know Sábha would love it. So I have this idea in reserve and all I'll have to do is scale up one part of my felt unicorn pattern!
  • I owe a few people some snail mail and I'm super-inspired by this gorgeous Halloween Happy Mail. I'd love to be able to create such pretty post!
  • These Woodland Creature Masks deserve a mention because they are so lovely. And there's a fox included. I think I might like to make these anyway, to keep in the dress-up box.
  • I've spotted (and maybe sampled) Báirín Breac in the shops, but I'm always on the lookout for recipes to try at home. I do have a version I've made a few times with great success (which I'll share if you're interested!) but I might just give this version a try too.

Oh! I should also mention that I wrote a piece for the popular MyKidstime site recently, which I'm thrilled with the response to. Do stop by and have a look at my 5 Spookishly Simple Halloween Crafts if you are in need of something fun to do over the mid-term break. 

I have another 'spookishly simple' project I'm dying to put together over the next few days, so make sure to check back and see if I've gotten around to it!

Are you all set for Halloween? Or are you like me - full of ideas and no time to get to them?!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Taste of What Might Have Been

This week I got a taste of how the other half live. Well, a taste of how most people live. Most parents, that is. Sábha has been sick and I've kept her home from preschool all week. So for three days now, while her twin sister was off socialising with her peers, Sábha and I have been enjoying some one on one time.

Since I finished with the day job there has definitely been more opportunities for me to 'divide and conquer' the girls, but it usually means taking just one child with me when I go to the supermarket or post office or maybe on the odd coffee and cake date. Nothing glamorous and nothing planned as 'special bonding time' but still a lovely chance to connect with each child without distraction.

I've mentioned before the amount of times people say 'Oh my goodness, TWINS - I don't know how you do it' and I always answer the same way. 

"Well,  a) I don't have a choice and b) I have nothing to compare it to, I've had two children from day one so it's completely normal for me."

I'm not lying, I obviously don't have a choice. It's not like I can send one back! And it IS completely normal for me to have two children of the same age, clamouring for attention, because it's all I've ever known since becoming a parent. 

Until recently, I have had nothing to compare being a parent of twins to. Tell me having one kid is tough - I believe you! Tell me juggling two kids of different ages is hard - I can well imagine! Tell me having three kids is insane - I know you're right! Tell me four kids makes your head spin and I will not doubt you for one second. My sister-in-law has 8 children... 8 children... (I'll just let that sink in for a moment)... I BELIEVE her when she tells me she can't remember a large portion of the prime of her life.

Raising any number of children has it's challenges and although I'm usually annoyingly upbeat about the joys of raising twins I have got to say - having experienced it very briefly this week - that having just one child is SO BLOODY EASY by comparison.

Now before any of you with only one little lovely at home start wanting to throw things at me - don't think for a second that I don't know this is all relative. Having only one child at home with me for a few hours everyday this week has been amazing - but it's only because it's a novelty for me that I am even aware of it. I absolutely know that it wouldn't be the same if I only had one child from the beginning. Or one at a time. Like normal people.

It's just that this week, I've had a little taste of how things might have been if I'd done what most people do and had one baby at a time and not been greedy by having them all at once. (As if that kind of greed even exists) and I want to bask in it because it's been so unbelievably lovely.

For example, today, I had the time and the patience to let Sábha bake muffins, from scratch, all by herself. I supervised, of course, but I didn't lose my reason when she spilled the flour and started to 'lick the bowl' before dishing out the mixture into the paper cases. Baking is usually a bit of a war zone with  twins. I usually play the role of the crazy General who gets all bug-eyed and twitchy whilst barking orders at his unruly troupe (that's so not an army word) - but not today!

Lile has benefited this week too. I left Sábha at home with her Dad for an entire afternoon while Lile and I went for lunch, for a browse around some shops and for a visit to my sister's new house and it was an absolute pleasure. Having only one child with me meant it was so much easier to chase her out from under clothes rails and I even got to have a conversation with my sister. I will remember that day fondly.

Having had such consistent one on one time this week has made me feel a bit sad too, though. In a way, I never got to be the parent I imagined I would be because having twins sort of ruled out a lot of the things I *swore* I would do when I was that perfect pre-kids parent. Like be patient during baking sessions...

Pre-kids me, like pre-kids lots of people, had parenting all figured out. Looking at it now - the plan seems fairly limited in terms of how it would work once my future baby was past the new-born stage, but I obviously hadn't factored that in at the time.

My pre-parent-parenting-plan looked a bit like this:
  • I would have a drug-free natural birth. 
  • I would breastfeed my future baby, exclusively, for the recommended amount of time. 
  • I would wean him or her on lovingly prepared, homemade, organic food. 
  • I would ‘wear’ the baby to baby massage classes, to baby yoga classes, to baby music classes and baby swimming classes. Basically, to ALL the baby classes. Every week. 
  • I would bring the baby to cultural events like art exhibitions and classical music concerts. Baby and I would snuggle up together at the Mother & Baby cinema mornings and visit the the Zoo and my favourite museums regularly. 
It was a painfully naive beautiful plan, however, I realised very quickly that, if even the best laid plans go out the window when a new baby arrives, they more or less get torn up, stomped on and flung out the window when twins are born.

The perfect plan failed instantly and spectacularly from the very beginning. In so many different ways.
  • The dream of a drug free, natural birth disintegrated as I went into labour five weeks early and ended up having an emergency c-section and ALL THE DRUGS.
  • The exclusive breastfeeding? Yeah… not so much… I managed to breastfeed for two weeks. I completely underestimated the unbelievable relentlessness of being the sole source of sustenance for two tiny babies. I just couldn’t cope with it.
  • I did try to get the plan back on track when it came time to wean the babies. I started out well and prepared all of their very first foods myself. Then I realised that there were other people who lovingly prepared baby food. People who had the ingenuity to package it in handy little jars for me to feed my children.
  • The baby wearing? That so didn’t happen. I don’t think I even need to go into the logistics of that one.
  • The classes didn’t happen either. Not one of them. We were lucky to get out the door for a walk most days. In fact, the closest my twins have ever gotten to baby massage is a slick of baby oil after a bath. And not even after every bath. And I don’t even know what baby yoga looks like.
  • ‘Music’ classes consisted of raiding the kitchen cupboards for pots, pans and wooden spoons. And not particularly for developmental reasons either. Just to distract them for five minutes while I went for a pee.
  • I brought them to the swimming pool for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago. They are four-and-a-half years old.
  • Cultural events? They have been to the cinema three times. Does that count?
See? Totally well adjusted.
Somehow, despite the fact that they are twins, or probably because of it, my girls seem none the worse for wear for the lack of individual attention. There also seems to be no harm done in terms of missing out on all of those amazing parenting must-dos either. Despite the lack of baby yoga they are still WAY more flexible than me.

I also, LOVE having twins, and wouldn't change any of  the past four-and-a-half years for the world.

Even so, I do think I'll try to factor in a little more regular one-on-one time with each of them. 

For purely selfish reasons. I kind of like pretending to be the pre-kids me. But just for a few hours.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Count Your Wins

I recently wrote a little bit about counting wins and I've been trying to get into the habit of acknowledging the good things that happen in my days ever since. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by mundane things like the height of my laundry pile or the play dough trampled into the carpet I try to remember to focus on all the positive things in my day instead.

Some days the list is short and I fail to remember every little bright thing that winked at me throughout the day. Even though I know, that between the dirty dishes and the 'what the hell will I do with my life' thoughts, there are myriad beautiful things to be grateful for.

Some days my list might look like this:
  • The girls went into Naíonra without fussing
  • The sun shone
  • I made a dinner that everyone ate
That's not a bad list, really. Each of those is a valid day-maker. Three little wins.

These past few days, however, I haven't had much of a chance to count my wins, because my feet have barely touched the ground since Saturday.

But I'm here now. And I'm counting. Because weeks like these are rare.

Irish Parenting Bloggers!
The Blog Awards were held on Saturday night and even though I didn't actually WIN, there were still plenty of lovely things to be counted on the night and even more in the aftermath.

It's been quite a week!
  • So, I didn't 'win' the award for best craft blog in the traditional sense of the word but Saturday night's Blog Awards was still a massive win for me. Last year Where Wishes Come From made the Shortlist, but this year I made it all the way to the Finalist list, which is something I'm very proud of. (EvinOK very deservedly won the Craft award, in case you were wondering!)
  • The awards night on Saturday night was an excuse to dress up and get out to socialise with other bloggers (especially THIS gang) and have a laugh with the only other people on the planet that don't mind if you have your face stuck to your phone for half the night.
  • We got a great goodie bag with all kinds of lovely stuff inside. I'll be eating nothing but yogurt for the forseeable future courtesy of vouchers from Glenisk. I can't wait to visit Airfield with my family voucher and the tote bag it all came in, by Zazzle, is really handy and great quality.
  • The support and love shown by my family, friends and social media followers was INCREDIBLE in the run up to the awards night. I'm so grateful to everyone who cheered me on. I'm sorry I didn't get to bring home the trophy for you all, but I *may or may not have* borrowed stolen the centre piece from the table as a souvenir instead... Oh! And I got a certificate too. Who doesn't love a good certificate?!
It's a lamp.
  • Far and away the nicest thing that happened on the big night, actually one of the nicest things that have happened since I started blogging, was meeting Jessica from Zazzle who *knew* me from my blog and said some of the sweetest things ever about what I share here. I very nearly cried in front of her. She absolutely made my night. Thanks Jessica!
  • On Monday I was in Galway on a visit to TG4. I was invited to be on the Róisín show to talk about the blog awards, blogging and how my life has changed since the last time I was on the show. I was sick as a dog with nerves on the drive down, but it all went well in the end. Yay! You can have a look at it HERE. Don't worry, it's subtitled.
  • Then there was another video floating around youtube with another interview with me, which was filmed on Saturday night. My goodness, I get around!

There have been more exciting things since, but I feel like I'm borderline bragging. Or even outright bragging - so I'll save them for another post.

Weeks like these are rare and it's easy to tot up the wins when there are exciting things happening. It's tougher to remember to focus on the little positives in the ordinary day-to-day days, but they are just as important. Sometimes even more important.

This morning sees Sábha recover a little bit from an all night throwing up session.

That's win number one for today.


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