Friday, December 27, 2013

Slán

We are going on a little adventure. A trip to 3 countries to visit friends and family, some of whom we have not seen for over 8 years. The blog will be taking a siesta and will be returning to normal sporadic posting when we return!

Slán

Hwyl Fawr

and just for now...

Good-bye!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

We wish you a merry Christmas..

video

Monday, December 23, 2013

Blogging parcel!

There are so many lovely blogs that I love to read. My favourite ones seem to be the ones where normal women are raising their kids, living life and finding happiness and fun in the everyday. Those are the blogs that inspire me to live a happier life. To throw a little craft in here or there. To try a new recipe. To look at the normal busyness of our family week and see a moment that can be caught, in a photo or in words and turned into a story here on our own blog.

One of these blogs A Time To Create is written by an Australian woman called Catherine. I love her simplicity. She can leave periods of time go between blog posts because she is living real life and not trying to create an image of perfection that is unobtainable to other women bloggers. I love in particular that she makes such simple and yet beautiful cards. I love sending homemade cards to friends on their Birthdays and when Catherine posts a blog about recent cards she has made I find myself dropping everything and rummaging through my own craft drawers trying to re-create something similar for the next occasion I have to mark! 

I also love that Catherine has girls not dissimilar in ages to my teenagers. She seems to understand the reluctance of our girls to be blogged about constantly. And yet she has managed to complete a year of a one-a-week photos of each of her girls so she has 52 images of each to mark the year that has flown by. I wanted to do the same but didn't feel my girls would want me too. However after showing them the images Catherine has captured of her girls both mine are actually encouraging me to do the same with them in 2014 (with them getting pre-posting critique rights first!!!) 

When Catherine decided to do a giveaway  I left a comment and was so excited to have actually won. The parcel arrived a short time later and I waited until all the days chores were finished and I could sit down on the sofa and truly relish opening the beautifully wrapped parcel. 
Thank you Catherine. For being so real in a blog world we could so easily trick people into seeing only perfection. For your beautiful photos, your recipes you share, the card inspiration you give me and of course for this wonderful parcel of simplicty! 
I look forward to many more blog posts over the coming year. I wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas, time with loved ones and that 2014 will be kind to you all. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

A "real" message

Our kids are growing up in a world that is fast moving. A world where messages can be sent with the click of a few buttons from anywhere in the world and the recipient can read them instantly. We often hear people saying that the art of letter writing is being lost and that kids these days don't have the manners and traditions that their parents and grandparents were raised with. 

Can I share with you the following Christmas card that Gareth came home from school with last week. Not just a card with Gareth's name and the senders name scribbled on in a rush. A card where the child had used white out to blank over the generic "Merry Christmas" message that had been printed on so he could write his own special individual message to each of the kids in his class. 
I sent a message to this boys mum telling her what a lovely card her son had sent. She said that he had decided to try to find one thing nice that he could say to each of his friends when he sat down to write them their personalized card. In this busy time where we can feel swept along by the commercialism and busyness of Christmas and wanting everything to be done yesterday this one boy and his special message has stopped us in our tracks and made us think again about the real meaning of Christmas. 

Happy Christmas to you too Jake. You are a credit to your Mum. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Aussie Christmas spirit!

Christmas in Australia is so, so different from the Christmases of my childhood in cold and frosty Dublin. Here you have to embrace the warmth and go with new traditions or feel miserable and bah-humbug for all that you miss. It looks like the owner of this car doesn't mind embracing the fun of a hot and sunny Christmas time! Just another snippet of what makes Australia a fun place to live!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When a mask is not what it appears to be...

A parcel arrived from Ireland. We were told to expect something funny in it for Byron. Something that had been found for a couple of Euro at a Christmas fundraiser by my mum and sister. As the parcel was opened I took a small video clip on my phone. We find it great to send little video clips in emails in addition to phone-calls as I know my parents enjoy being able to replay them over and over on their side of the world. It makes them feel more involved in what we are doing over here in Australia.

This is the video (after Byron had edited some "snow" falling around us!)....

video

We certainly had a laugh with Byron wearing his new Santa mask. Then we waited for an email response from Ireland. When it came it was full of hilarity and exclamation marks!!!!!!!! They talked about how they had laughed till they cried and were watching and re-watching it holding their sides with laughter.

It took a second look at the "mask" before it's odd shape puzzled me enough for me to think it was meant for something else. And then the penny dropped. Byron's mask was not meant for his face but his posterior.

It is a toilet seat cover...

I have re-watched the video with new eyes and now I can truly understand the tears of laughter that were shed in Ireland. At least it was brand new they reassured us! But poor Santa, I just can't bring myself to use the downstairs loo this Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Unconditional

There are some days when being a parent is a breeze. My kids are past the age of needing to be fed, dressed and strapped in to car seats. An average school day may involve reminding them how many minutes left until they need to hop in the car. Sometimes there's a last minute "Have you got your lunch?" "Don't forget to get the bus home today" etc. Generally they are organised kids and things run smoothly. Every week is busy before it begins with a full calendar of school, work, sports and music after school activities. Then you add in the extra things that crop up like dental appointments, car services etc and before you know a normal busy day becomes a logistical nightmare.

Let me tell you about a recent busy day... A day that began with school drop off at 8.30am and would't end until about 9pm due to a school P+F meeting. In between were a car service, exam supervising at the girls high school, getting Sian to and from Newcastle Uni for her fortnightly maths session from 4-6pm and trying to work out what to volunteer for at that nights Spring Fair fundraiser meeting that would be helpful but would not suck the last bit of energy remaining in my poor brain.

It started out at 7.45am with getting the kids to school. The girls went with Byron, no problems there. Gareth and I were running a few minutes late when the text came in from a-daughter-who-shall-not-be-named. It was about a big assignment she had finished and needed to be handed in the following day. Except it
didn't. It needed to be in by the end of this school day or she would automatically be deducted a significant percentage. Could I get it to her? Oh, it wasn't printed yet. And our home computer was out of ink.
Oh and it needed to be handed in in a document display folder. Which we didn't have... Could I buy one for her and she would tell me the order of the numerous pages so that I could fill all the pages of the display folder for her... before dropping it in to the school office...?

I felt the weight of a busy day pushing down on my shoulders. It felt like it wanted to crush me before it began. I mentally tried to work out how and where I could get the document printed? And what non-existent time slot I could use to actually deliver it? The headache was just a low throb throb in my left temple. Enough to tell me that it was there and looking forward to meeting me properly at some point later in the day. I was grumpy and frazzled. Not helped by the fact that it was a fast day and my stomach was growling like it hadn't been fed in months rather that the couple of hours since breakfast. A day where a snickers bar and a bag of salty chips would have been well justified in my pre-fasting mentality but were out of the question according to my strong resolve.

Lets fast forward through the crazy morning, the getting to the high school exam hall by the skin of my teeth, the driving through heavy traffic to an office I could print the document in, the searching through three stores to find a document display folder and finally the long drive back to the High School. That's when the headache stepped up a notch and the sky turned an ominous shade of black. The lightning crackled, the thunder boomed, the rain came down so fast that the windscreen wipers on full speed could barely give me minimal visibility.

And that's when you came on the radio Katy Perry. Singing your chirpy song. The song that the radio host said was all about love and in her opinion summed up the love between a mother and her daughter...

The song that seemed to speak just to me. As though I was the only person alive that was listening to it. I'd listened to it before but not really heard the lyrics. I heard them that day Katy.

"Come as you are to me
Don't need apology
Know that you are worthy
I'll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you"

Well technically Katy I'm driving through the storm but otherwise you are pretty accurate. This isn't one of the better days but yes, I love her. And that lump in my throat? It's now become a few tears trickling down my cheeks. Luckily in this crazy rain no-one can see into my car window and although cars wait left and right of me at the traffic lights I feel safe and protected by the blurry rain dashed windows and the boom of more thunder around me.

"Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally"

Fair point Katy, I'm sorry I sort of lost sight of that this morning.

I pulled in to the school just minutes before the end of day bell rang. Text my daughter to say "meet me at the office". I slid sheet after sheet of a really top quality assignment into the clear pages of the newly bought folder and saw her come around the corner, a sheepish grin on her face as her eyes scanned my face to read just how much trouble she was in. I must have smiled because she broke into a big grin and gave me the biggest squeeze hug that she had given me in a long time AND we were in a public place! Unheard of!

"Thanks mum" as she ran back to the staff room assignment clutched tight in her hand knowing she would get it submitted just in time. The receptionist looked up and smiled as I turned to the door to the car park. "She owes you a big thank-you"

I smiled back but in my head I said to Katy...  

"Don't need apology"


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Agapanthus war

I have a friend who shall remain nameless. Well every year Monica, oops, I just told you who she is. Never mind, she doesn't deserve anonymity. Well, every year Monica has a bit of an obsession about how many Agapanthus flowers she has growing in her garden. This year there were a few emails simply with a number in the text, how many flower buds she could count on her flourishing plants. Each time I got a message from her I ran out to count my Agapanthus flower heads and just managed to have a few more than her. The competition was heating up. Every single flower counted. I wasn't about to lose this war. 

I watched Byron outside last weekend mowing the grass. Not that I would ever tell him how to do his job BUT he was being a bit haphazard around my glorious flowers. So gung-ho that he hit one stalk and snapped the poor thing off. My blood boiled. Were they in league with one another? Was Monica paying him to reduce my chances of winning? Had I just witnessed sabotage? I felt the blood pounding in my ears as I ran out to the garden and proceeded to batter Byron with the damaged flower. 

Luckily the kids managed to pull me away but not until Byron was covered in purple flower heads. My friendship with Monica is on shaky ground. After the Judge saw this photo I'm still not allowed within 500 meters of her house. The magistrate said that if I can behave myself for the next 3 months he might relax the terms of the barring order. I think I can manage that. It's this time next year that worries me. When she starts counting the flower heads budding on her beautiful plants again...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar

I have seen a lot of positive things online about the use of apple cider vinegar. More specifically cloudy, unfiltered vinegar that still has the "mother" enzyme in it. I've read amazing claims that it helps to melt fat and boost metabolism, particularly if it is taken with a spoon of honey.

When I saw the vinegar on the shelf of my local supermarket I thought I'd give it a go. It didn't sound like it could do any harm. In an ideal world I should be taking a teaspoon each of the vinegar and the honey in a glass of water and drinking it three times a day about a half hour before meals.
Some days I remember, others I'm out and about and forget.

I certainly haven't had any negative side effects. As you probably know I've been doing intermittent fasting since January of this year and lost about 8kgs in the first few months and then maintained it. When the weight first came off people noticed and commented but in recent months I have grown used to my new shape and so had the people around me. So when my brother came to visit last month I was really chuffed to have them comment again on the fact that I was looking well. They asked what I had been doing other than the fasting. When I thought about it there have been two things.

Firstly that I got carried away with spending the last of my birthday money on a weighted hula hoop (a subject deserving of it's very own blog post!) and secondly the vinegar and honey.

In the last month I had seen my weight, that had been at a plateau for about six months, drop by an extra 1-2kgs. Do I credit the hula hooping? Do I credit the vinegar? Who knows? But at only a few dollars for a bottle that will make up 50 drinks that taste relatively pleasant and has had no negative side effects then why not continue?

Have you ever heard of this strange concoction and if so have you used it? I'd love to hear from anyone else who has given it a go. Any tips or advice you can give me?

And lastly, has anyone else gone mad hula hooping? Or am I just a complete loony?!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Typical teenager?

What is a typical teenager? 
If you watch movies you'd be forgiven for thinking that all teenagers eat pizza, drink commercial branded soft drinks and are constantly "plugged in" to their iPods.
That is so judgmental...
Teenagers are individuals...
They are not all made from one mold...
They don't all fit a stereotypical ideal...
...er, Rhiannon...? Rhiannon....? Rhiannon...!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advent begins.

I love Advent. As a Catholic Easter and Christmas are our two most special times in our church calendar. As a child nothing filled my tummy with the fluttery feeling of butterflies as much as the four weeks before Christmas. One by one the candles were lit on the Advent wreath in church. With every candle another week had passed and the time was creeping closer and closer to that magic of Christmas day. 

I don't make it to Mass every week. I know that I can be a good Christian in how I live each and every day and not just by spending one hour a week under the churches roof. Even so I make every effort I can to try to get to each of the four Advent masses. 

When I was allocated to do Children's Liturgy this weekend I was delighted. When I got to church I was asked if I would like to be the parishioner who went up to light the first Advent candle in the parish wreath. The butterflies kicked in and I was like a child trying to keep my smile from exploding from my face. After lighting the main wreath I got to bring the kids across to the parish hall where we made our handprints and cut them out to make our very own children's wreath. 

I came home on cloud nine. 

Four weeks to go...

The butterflies are barely being kept under control. 

What does Advent mean to you?