I Stopped and Looked.

I stopped and looked – you were playing away with your Lego but you were also taking the time to match the colours. I had never noticed that you did that before.

I stopped and looked – you were racing your little sister but you were letting her win. I didn’t realise just how mature a six-year-old you were.

I stopped and looked –  you had built your very own ‘Hogwarts’ and were lost in a wizarding world far away. I sometimes forget how real your imagination is.

I stopped and looked – you kicked the scooter because you hurt your hand falling off it. I realised the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I stopped and looked – you weren’t ignoring my calls to hurry up, you were trying to tie your own laces. I need to remember how hard new skills are to master.

I stopped and looked – you broke off half of your biscuit and gave it to your sister unasked and unannounced. I often forget just how generous you can be.

I stopped and looked – you were shouting in the game because you were playing the part of ‘mummy’. I was reminded that children do what they see.

I stopped and looked – you weren’t delaying going to bed, you were waiting for your brother to come to bed so you could help him with his reading.  I always ask you to help after all.

I stopped and looked – you were filthy dirty because you had to pick the ‘best’ flower for me. I am learning to love dandelions.

I stopped and looked – you grabbed your sister’s toy from her because you saw a cracked, sharp edge on it. I remembered that you do nearly everything for a reason.

I stopped and looked – you put your arm in front of your brother, not to boss him but to stop him from crossing the road until you had checked for traffic. I need to learn to trust your instincts.

I stopped and looked at how quickly you are all growing up and realised that sweating the small stuff is for the birds. I promise to stop and look a lot more frequently  lest I miss you growing up altogether in the melee that is family life!

2015-06-29 17.08.02This piece originally appeared in MummyPages . Why not pop over for a look?

All feedback and comments welcome.

Thanks for reading

Aisling

Summer Job – Positions Available. :)

I spend every Monday putting the shoe mountain that gathered at the side on the couch back in the children’s rooms and ‘dissappearing‘ the wilted dandelion or stone collection scattered on the mantle-piece. I mutter to myself about how I always have to do it, and I am going to have serious words with them all this time (including Mr Dad who seems to think there is a shoe and sock putter- back fairy living with us!) So, enough is enough.

I'm sure someone will tidy up after me.

I’m sure someone will tidy up after me.

Timing is everything and obviously dishing out tasks on a Monday morning is a surefire way to reach screaming levels of tension in nanoseconds. But the school holidays are around the corner, so this household is about to get chore-tastic! Along with the added bonus of not having to run around and pick up after them all the time, doing their own chores will go a long way towards encouraging their self-respect, self-confidence and independence.

So this summer, I will refer to the list below for little jobs that all three children from the toddler to the tweenager can help with!

Housework: Dusting; putting their toys away (tip: insist they put each toy /game away before starting a new activity); hoovering; emptying the dishwasher; making their beds; sweeping the floor; clearing and setting the table; washing and drying dishes; mopping up (inevitable) spills.

 

Never too young!

Never too young!

Laundry: Sorting out clothes for dark and light washes; matching socks; stripping their beds; folding and putting laundry away; loading and  putting on the washing machine; putting their clothes either in the wash or away at the end of the day.

My sous chef.

My sous chef.

Food preparation: Pouring drinks; preparing breakfast cereal; peeling vegetables and putting peel in the compost; making sandwiches; chopping fruit; turning on oven to preheat; weighing ingredients; using a whisk.

 

Don't forget the wheels!

Don’t forget the wheels!

Outside: Pulling weeds; sweeping the decking; washing the car (inside and out); gathering up chopped leaves and branches; watering the plants.

Obviously the list is not exhaustive but there is plenty there to encourage the children to help out a little every day.

Weeding!

Weeding!

I don’t plan on overloading them with a load of tasks. The aim of the game, for us, is to keep it light and easily achievable. That said, I will not give up at the first “I am too tired” hurdle – instead, I

will try a little negotiation. “So, what do you think you could do to help me out? ” and build on that.

Still plenty of time for fun!

Still plenty of time for fun!

By mid-August, I expect I will be having breakfast in bed while the children clean up and prepare lunch, ahh happy days! 😉

What are your summer plans?

Thanks for reading.

Aisling

Healthy Fast Food – A Review

I am forever looking for inspiration for new recipes, foodstuffs and flavours for the children that are tasty and healthy. Then, when I find one, I spend a small fortune getting all the necessary extra ingredients for said recipe (who has tamari in their store cupboard??) Once the exotic ingredients are secured and after I’ve slaved over the new dish, more often than not I have it returned to me. This is after they’ve choked down a few obligatory mouthfuls (they have to at least try the new dish), typically followed by requests for ‘pasta pesto’ or ‘pesto pasta’ or some other variant.

What? Something 'NEW' for dinner?

What? Something ‘NEW’ for dinner?

So although I was delighted when I was sent a few samples from Quinola Mothergrain of their quinoa-based kids’ meals, I was pretty sure that the children would instantly reject something that was not the norm. But guess what? The older two loved them and asked for more. They tried all three flavours and liked them all. I even offered one to my husband the other day, which he grudgingly agreed was quite nice.

They couldn’t be easier to use. You literally zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds and bam, healthy meal, ready to eat. Don’t have 30 seconds? No problem, they can be eaten cold too although we’ve only eaten them heated so far.

Fast, tasty, healthy!

Fast, tasty, healthy!

I’m definitely going to stock up on a few packets as they make a healthy change from the baked beans and instant noodles that I usually have on standby. In addition, I’ll get to lord it over other mothers when my children ask if they can have quinoa for dinner! Except for my youngest who still requests pasta pesto EVERY meal time.

Disclaimer: I was sent some samples for the purpose of this review but all thoughts and words are my own.

A ‘Lidl’ Rite of Passage

Courtesy Pixabay

Courtesy Pixabay

They bought milk. She is eight, he is six and last week , they bought milk!

It started a few months ago; actually, we were up at the shops and I was going to buy the paper.  ‘Let me Mum, please!’ came the plea from the then seven year old. ‘Ok so, I will’. I gave her specific instructions on where to find the paper, gave her the exact change and waited inside the door of the shop while she did the necessary. She did with great aplomb, returning with the paper, blushing and beaming with pride. The next time I waited outside the shop doors, and the time after that I didn’t have exact change but she managed just fine.

First stop local newsagent, next St Stephen's Green Centre!

First stop local newsagent, next St Stephen’s Green Centre!

The next step to buying the milk was taking showers. The bath with the three of them was a bit of a ‘squash and a squeeze’ so it was time for the eldest to have showers. Showering a fully capable seven year old is not my style, so I would turn on the shower, let her get started and then come in for hair washing and ear cleaning.  Next, I came in just for ears and to turn the shower off. After about a month of showers I let her get in, wash, get out, dry, dress and then I dried her hair. Soon I was just blow-drying her hair and letting her do the last few minutes herself.

Then she turned eight and one day we were getting ready for showers when I was distracted with Facebook her younger sister. ‘Don’t worry Mum, I will get myself started and call you when I need you.’ Twenty minutes later she arrived back down, washed, changed and with a mane of mostly dry hair! The bathroom was not soaked; her used towel was hanging over the banisters and not in its customary crumpled heap on the ground.

20150331_112623-1

Mini baby-sitter.

20150522_170244

Baking.

We then went from letting her watch me in the kitchen, to allowing her stir sauce in a hot pan, to showing her how to make tea. She makes her own porridge in the microwave too, getting the jam from the fridge and stirring it in with a spoon. In fact, she made her auntie a cup of tea last week, from filling the kettle to handing over the finished product.

So, we needed milk. It was one of those busy school days when we were on the way back from a rushed pick-up and I realised we were out of milk, or would be soon after we got home. So I swung in to Lidl and parked near the door. Because timing is everything, the cranky three year old had finally fallen asleep.  I needed milk, I wanted to get home and I didn’t want to disturb whinge-bob sleep-pants.

In the olden days of course I would have just left the children in the car and popped in, but times are very different now. They are used to being sent down the aisles to grab milk for me, so I knew that she knew where it was. ‘Would you guys like to go in to Lidl and buy some milk?’ ‘What, on our own?’ ‘Yep, sure Mum, no problem, 3 litres, low-fat, right?’ ‘Yes, here is the money and expect to get change.’ ‘Ok, wahoo!’  Out they hopped and in to Lidl they disappeared.

Let loose in Lidl!

Let loose in Lidl!

There then ensued 10 minutes of me worrying, sweating, questioning my parenting, forcing myself to stay in the car, jumping out of the car and trying to crane my neck to see if I could see in the frosted windows, almost asking strangers who had left the shop if they had seen two children with milk, getting back in the car and wishing sleepy -head would wake, berating myself for not having bought milk earlier, wondering ‘what if’ to every dastardly scenario imaginable.

And then there they were, smiling and skipping along, holding hands and giggling. They opened the door, hopped in and fastened their seat-belts.

They had bought milk.milk-312369_1280

Thanks for reading

Aisling

The original version of this post appeared in mummypages, why not check them out?

Striking a Balance

If you are like me, you start out every day with the best intentions. I will not shout. I will smile at all times. I will prepare tasty and exciting meals that the whole family will enjoy. And so on.

Plan this..

Plan this..

Then begins the reality of feeding the kids pasta pesto again (because it’s the only meal they all eat), losing the plot over something inane followed by huge guilt for same, and the hassled rushing from school to activity. And as usual, we give ourselves a hard time for ‘failing’, once again.

...feel like this.

…feel like this.

We need to stop beating ourselves up needlessly and recognise all the good we as parents do every day. So in the same way that the food pyramid helps us keep a healthy and balanced attitude to how we eat, why not think of parenting in the same way?

Let’s consider putting things like routine worrying at the top of the pyramid and put cuddles at the bottom. I reckon if we try to make sure that we do as much from the bottom half of the pyramid and as little from the top end of the pyramid on a daily basis that family life can be healthy, balanced and better than okay (and I can stop giving myself a hard time)

My parenting pyramid would look a bit like this:

Parenting pyramid picture

 

 

Why not try it yourself?

How would your parenting pyramid look?  Comments welcome!

Thanks for reading

Aisling

Detecting Nature at Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

I love Powerscourt Waterfall and have been there a few times over the last couple of years with the children; however, we haven’t been there as a family for over four years. So I was delighted when we were invited to attend the Imaginosity event ‘Nature Detectives’ at Powerscourt Waterfall yesterday!

We intended on arriving early and having a quick play at the playground before meeting up with the Imaginosity team by ‘the big tree’ as instructed on the ticket. Of course, best laid plans meant that we arrived breathless and just in time. I was smiling brightly and trying to ignore the – ‘I am too old for this’ and ‘talk about a good walk ruined’ comments from our eldest and Mr Dad.

20150524_140726

Rainbow parachute initiation.

Quite aptly for the weekend that was in it, the meeting place was clearly marked by a bright rainbow coloured parachute which was laid out on the ground. Martina – one of the three Imaginosity staff present – welcomed us all warmly and chatted animatedly about our plans for the day. You could not help but be infused with a little of her boundless enthusiasm (which was still there at the end of the day, even when some brats children were getting  a little rambunctious).

Magnificent Martina!

Magnificent Martina!

All the children were given a sheet of clues and a pencil, told where to start and what time to return and then we were off! It was all a bit crowded and manic at the start but by the time we had reached the third clue we had all spread out and were happily going at our own pace. Everyone, that is, except my boy Conan who is nothing if not competitive.  He was bailing along following the trail and ticking off all the clues without a backward glance to us. Paul had to catch up with him and encourage him to wait for the rest of his team (a.k.a. his family) to catch up!

Bark rubbing!

Bark rubbing!

Getting caught in the 'spider web'.

Getting caught in the ‘spider web’.

Caoimhe, who was ‘too old’, didn’t take long to get into the spirit of things and was soon caught up in the trail and discovering a few fun facts that were laid out along the way. Did you know the air up at Powerscourt Waterfall is negatively charged, so breathing it in promotes a refreshed and relaxed feeling?? I do now!

We fairly powered through the nature trail and discovered a few things that were not on the list, such as the Fairy Tree which was pointed out to us by Martina – the staff didn’t rest on their laurels but popped up here and there along the trail to keep us on track. Importantly, they also gave us space to enjoy ourselves as a family.The trail ended at the waterfall where we hung out for a while, climbing and exploring, before meeting back with the rest of the crew at the appointed time.

Listening to the leaves crunch!

Listening to the leaves crunch!

20150524_144129

Making a wish at the bridge!

20150524_144827

The Fairy Tree.

20150524_150229

Exploring the Waterfall.

Martina and crew had some samples of wild flowers and plastic insects and bugs which were laid out for the children to examine with magnifying glasses.  Caoimhe and Conan delighted in putting  the bugs in the magnifying jar and examining them in great detail.20150524_150151

The best part of the event, according to my children, were the games at the end; they got to have sack races and play organised games with the parachute, laughing and giggling throughout. The best part according to me was that the children really did stop to look at and examine the natural world around them.

20150524_151951 20150524_154301

Then it was time to say goodbye to the very popular Imaginosity team who really did deserve medals (or at least an ice-cream). Our day didn’t end there. We headed up to the fantastic playground where the children played happily for a good hour before we shared a tub of candy floss and headed home, tired but happy.  We will definitely be making a few trips back there over the Summer!

The Playground!

The Playground!

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend ‘Nature Detectives’ for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and words are my own.

The A-Z of Me!

Meeee!

Meeee!

The ‘A-Z of Me’ tag has been doing the rounds in the blogging universe, and the lovely Ellen from  El and Baby A (‘IPB Awards finalist’ no less) tagged me. So here goes, 26 interesting (?) self-indulgent facts about me. Ah, go on keep reading – the natural voyeur in you needs to know this stuff! 😉

A – ‘Aisling Childcare’ – the crèche I set up and ran for seven years. I closed it in 2010, as a mix of the downturn and expecting my third child forced me to make a decision. I loved my crèche, mostly because I got to do things my way. All the children mixed together and we didn’t have different rooms for different age groups. It really was like one big happy family.

B – ‘Hot Air Balloons’. It is my life’s ambition to go on a hot air balloon ride. My son has started to express an interest in it too, so I reckon we will tick that box together!

C – ‘Caoimhe and Conan’ – Caoimhe is my first born. She is a constant source of joy and one of the most beautiful babies ever; in fact, possibly the most beautiful baby ever born in the universe ever! Conan is my wonderfully boyish son. He brings balance, rough and tumble, and sensitivity into my life every single day. And he is pretty handsome to boot.

My 'C's'

My ‘C’s’

D – ‘Dancing’. I won €2,500 for losing weight in a ‘Salsa Slims’ competition many moons ago. I used the prize money to fund a once in a lifetime holiday!

E – ‘Enniskerry’. My family moved to Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow when I was eight years old. I loved it as a child, hated it as a teenager (not best serviced for heading into town or meeting up with my friends who all lived on the DART line) and now love it again as a place to visit with my family!

F – ‘France’. I spent a godawful summer in Bordeaux working as an au-pair way back in 1989 but I don’t hold that against it. I love their food and drink, and kind of speak the language. I have never ever been to Paris though am planning a romantic weekend there one fine day!

G – ‘Greystones’. We moved here when Caoimhe was four months old and eight years on, when I walk along the seafront, I feel like I am on holidays. I will never leave this wonderful village.

H – ‘Hendricks’. Hendricks and tonic with cucumber = Heaven on earth!

Hendricks in a tea-cup!

Hendricks in a tea-cup!

I – ‘Ironing’. I don’t HATE it, and quite enjoy the whole process actually. But being that I also love holidays I do the bare minimum – shirts.

J – ‘July’.First month of the summer holidays. The month we got married. What’s not to love?

K- ‘Keepsakes’. I have sugar packs from a school tour to Stratford-upon-Avon, cinema tickets from our first date. I am not a hoarder at all but I do have a thing for little keepsakes of fond memories.

Keepsakes.

Keepsakes.

L- ‘Lyons’. Mr Paul Lyons changed my life in ways I could not even conceive. Love is all you need, which is also an ‘L’.

M – ‘Mums’. Becoming one makes me appreciate ALL mothers, not least of all my own. Five children with five very different, very strong personalities and she wasn’t even institutionalised.

N- ‘New Zealand’. That once-in-a-lifetime holiday I mentioned earlier, this was it. Myself and a group of friends went on a three week holiday to the Southern Hemisphere, skiing in New Zealand book-ended by a few days in Sydney Australia. It was BRILLIANT!

O – ‘Oscar the Grouch’ – my favourite character in Sesame Street. What? He is! I most certainly am not stuck at ‘O’.

P – ‘Prince’ the musical genius. I have seen him live three times which is not nearly enough. (still have ticket stubs from all concerts)

At Prince in Malahide Castle - July 2011.

At Prince in Malahide Castle – July 2011.

Q – ‘Queen’ – Paul introduced me to Queen. We danced to ‘You’re My Best Friend’ at our wedding, and saw ‘We Will Rock You’ in London . I can’t help but dance and sing along when Queen comes on the radio.

R – ‘Rooskey’ – the name of one of our family dogs, the one that lived the longest and was loved the most. Rooskey rocked!

S – ‘Síofra’. My cheeky baby, our last child, the full stop in our family. A spoilt brat and a ray of sunshine.

Our full stop!

Our full stop!

T – ‘Thailand’. We hightailed there on our honeymoon (abandoning our 16-month old Caoimhe to the care of grannies (or anyone really). I loved everything about Thailand but the Thai people are what I remember the most fondly. Smiling, friendly, gentle and kind.

U – ‘Underwater’. I love swimming in the sea, even the Irish one. But being under the water is my favourite, and damn my smokers lungs that I can’t hold my breath for longer than 30 seconds.

V – ‘Vajoiner’. As in when my son shouted across a crowded bustling square ‘Mum! Did I come out your vajoiner or willie when I was born?’ True story.

W – ‘Wine’. Obviously.

X – As in ‘Mexico’? Sure why not? I had a real rite of passage summer holiday in Mexico with two of my best friends. We booked flights to Mexico City and pretty much played the rest by ear. Visiting Acapulco (where I did indeed go loco) and discovering Puerto Escondido. A crazy, brilliant holiday.

Y – ‘Years’ – they fly by way too quickly.

Z – ‘Z for Zachariah’ was a book I read in school that I loved and definitely encouraged my love of reading!

That was surprisingly easy, I obviously love talking, writing and generally thinking about myself! Tag Mammy’s Kitchen, you are up.

Thanks for reading

Aisling

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