Sligo: Toddlers on Tour

Round Four: Attempting an Enjoyable Holiday as Parents with Small Children. (Be warned: There Will Be Vomit.)

We have taken a summer holiday of some type every year since Gigi was born. So four holidays in total. Sounds good, right! As many parents know, holidaying with smallies is a world of a difference from holidaying as a loving couple solo. So parents, we have to get our heads around that first. Let it go, as the Snow Queen once warbled and then we might stand a chance.

It isn’t that easy.

In Gigi’s first year we bravely ferried to the UK and rented one of those fairytale Castlecombe cottages.

Beautiful Castlecombe.

We literally brought everything we own. OK, I personally  insisted we bring pot loads of equipment. I was Mummy Pig. I actually brought the kettle. x240-fO4-1-1The holiday was both lovely and exhausting. Imperfect in an idyllic setting. You seen, I was always just a little bit uncomfortable. I was totally unable to relax.

A year later, with a one year old and a baby on the way, we tried staying in Ireland. Sligo. Rented a full apartment and brought the grandparents too. It rained a lot unfortunately. The holiday was OK. Not really relaxing though. Moments of idyllic scenes- but very momentary.

Last year I was very late to book.  A baby and a two year old- I was in the fear. I wrote about this last year in Holidays with More than One Kid-a Whole New World. Another family rental.  Another holiday bringing grandparents. We chose Ring in Waterford. All looked lovely. The owner of our rental was a very strange lady and I clashed with her instantly. Unfortunately the rental cottage was their converted garage- on the family site. I hated that! The views were amazing. The place is pretty. I couldn’t wait to get away from it. There were a few more lovely times on this occasion (A Magic Moment )but it was mainly tough and uncomfortable. Brutal honesty. Again, I think we were just never fully at ease.

So as the holiday season rolled around again, Mr Paper took matters into his own hands. Euro Disney will happen in August. A life time dream- Disney and France. My girls adore princesses (especially Layleell)  and ‘Minnie Mooshee’. Here’s is to hoping we meet Ariel and The First Lady Mouse.

In a desire to travel with grandparents (we like to bring them away once per year) and have a trial run, I booked two nights in Sligo again. Don’t panic- two nights in a four star hotel. No crappy rental. A family room (which must have been upgraded as we are in a suite). We are the Clayton (former Clarion and former hospital) which looks a bit like a castle/ institution but is impressive beautiful with lovely grounds.20170717_181658.jpgMy girls think they are staying in a castle.  Gigi wanted me to call in Princess Belle to admonish her baby sister over dropping blueberries on the floor.

We are still here. Day two. We are surviving. I don’t hate it. It hasn’t been treacherous. In fact, I would have enjoyed another night.20170717_181057

It hasn’t been perfect. What is perfect though? Parents can’t compare holidays pre children with holidays as parents. There are meltdowns. Soup is pronounced yucky one minute and delicious the next. They will poke each other in the back seat of the car with every prodding device known to man. We lost one of Gigi’s shoes. In my newly zen state of not overpacking, they were the only pair. The weather hit such temperatures (good thing, good thing, I know! )that a packet of crayons that I had left on the front seat of the car melted into a swirling pool of khaki patterned wax, hitting my jacket on its way. 20170719_184116-1This is Ireland! ! We are not meant to hit Crayola Melting Temperatures. I have lived it though and once seen will never be forgotten. Gigi has been ill. Exorcist style, you can guess yourself, at a beautiful Sunday market (future blog) as she sat in her buggy. Everywhere. My lovely newly valeted car now bears an interesting aroma. Not a pleasant one. A questionable one. Ah well. That was the girls’ first and last ice-cream on this particular holiday.f593fdfd89323afecc872680a17fd251

So we have had challenges. We have met them head on like Roman Gladiators. 59cf6a29582eed7d6f31607c831b391512ce88619362089b840f41b1d8be5c42Occasionally we have ignored them until they went away like Romans who never made gladiator. sometimes-the-best-thing-to-do-is-to-pretend-it-didnt-happen-quote-1Once or twice we smiled insanely through the chaos, where I tend to find myself singing a few bars of the Girls Aloud tune Something Kinda Ooh. (I find that has happened a lot since I had the children. A little like Mannie’s Moomin Papa in Black Books for anyone who gets the reference. Have a little watch here Chattanooga Choo Choo Earworm If not,  take it as solid comedy recommendation ).

This is what I think may be called a coping mechanism. My girls are so used to hearing it that they join in. Everybody Ooh, hear my heart go ooh ooh…

So yes, a few challenges. Overall, a LOT less than previous years. Maybe we just deal with them better. A good trial run for travelling abroad. A good sign for future holidays!

Here are to changes in touring with teeny kids and toddlers. Holidays might be fun again soon. We won’t say relaxing- not just yet! Memorable? Yes. For good reasons? Yes! Thankfully!

I will be blogging highlights. People who read that will see a joyful rundown of lovingly encountered pretty moments. Those who read this post will also be aware of the Pull Ups War in Sligo’s Tesco (both girls had an epic argument over who got to hold a packet of Pull Ups with Minnie Mouse on them), the Waxy Bottom in the car park from Melty Crayola Conditions, The Lost Shoe and the Apocalyptic Post Ice-cream Throw Up of the adorable market which features in the highlights to come.f593fdfd89323afecc872680a17fd251

Weren’t you lucky to be in the know!

PS. Any parents of one or more under two- it DID get easier. A different easy to what you might expect, but a very distinct change from exhausting, tear inducingly tough with nightmarish moments that you cannot awaken from. Cheers to that! (Raising my Diet Coke because I am too disinterested in wine, and diet as I still have a big belly that I call baby blubber but I DON’T CARE anymore!!!!). My babies are happy. In fact, so am I.



The Lovely Life

Last weekend, my husband and I had a date in Dublin.

My friend calls a few days away from parenting, where you get babysitters and take off without the kiddies, ‘day release’. I call it Guilty Fun. You want to do it, feel you shouldn’t and miss them like crazy. ‘Them’ being the babas you left behind…sob

I can see why you might liken days away from the minutiae of parenting  to parole. Parenting can feel like being in a type of prison at times, albeit a pretty one. Fondness for my Prison was a post I wrote in the early days of the two under two stage when life was hairy. This has passed and I definitely don’t feel it is as hard as it once was. Things do get easier (everyone said it would and this took time to prove). So getting a day out in Dublin with Mr Paper is a treat. A treat that comes with a price tag, financial and mental, but an important outing for the relationship making it worthwhile.

I won’t lie.  On Sunday I was shattered. We went Saturday morning, left the girls with their cousin and auntie and had our day out. They live near Dublin so we brought overnight luggage, travel cot and lots of snacks as if Leixlip doesn’t have fruit, yoghurt and Liga. We went back to their house Saturday evening and all spent Sunday together. Amidst the piles and piles of wipes, laundry and toys that a night away with kids amasses, we drove home Sunday evening. I unpacked. Laundered. Cooked. Slept. Tempers were flaring. Tantrums spread their tentacles and we were in a dangerous state of overtiredness. Sunday ended,  Monday began at seven am and by eleven am I wanted a big old nap.

So why do we do it? Why do we pack and prepare so much for a teeny bit of time together?

Here are the reasons.bitmoji-20170707040202

  1. Naughtiness.  I am not talking the baby making naughtiness here. I am talking the dessert at eleven am sort.

    In our case, Panna Cotta and Cappuccinos in a pretty Italian cafe. Served in a jam jars. My favourite! (Like to Love sent that joy of useless yet quaint piece of information to the world.) Pretty delicious.20170701_123845.jpg

  2. Lovely Lunch Date. So a date with the husband is important. We often go out to eat with our girls but these family outings aren’t very date-like as entertaining as they can be…! So time out, nice clean, pretty outfit, responsible for only our own toilet trips and clean faces, we looked across the table at each other and exchanged stories and photos about our Gigi and Betsy and wondered how they were. Whilst waiting for our food, we rang Mr Paper’s sister (babysitter) checked in on them, sipped (and in my case revelled) in the bubbly indulgence of a Prosecco based summer tipple at one in the day. Mr Paper had his favourite Soho pizza and I had an antipasti board for one. Tasting Italy, we drank in fond memories of past holidays. Sigh! So far so good.
  3. A Trip to the Theatre.bitmoji-20170707040418.png Drama is part of my Masters and I love, love a play. This was my Christmas present to Mr Paper (another fan of theatre) and we went to see the farcical comedy The Play That Goes Wrong at the Bord Gais Energy (Warning: The Lovely Life will be momentarily interrupted by a brief unlovely rant about naming beautiful areas for the arts after soulless corporations)
    There is a hint of the tragedy implicated by the name in the street sign outside. Ironically,  if I get more bills from said company,  I cannot actually go the plays. Just stand outside on Misery Hill.

    Despite the fact that I think a theatre shouldn’t be named after a bill (grr), when The Rose or The globe for example have lovely theatrical connections, I enjoy this particular playhouse. (Another possible name…just saying). The Stage Door. The Break a Leg. The Actress and the Bishop. The Back Stage’s Front Stage. Just a few more offerings. I mean if they call their next building The Universal Social Charge, they can just feck off. So rant over. The actual play was great fun! We sat in the second row, all the more able to enjoy the irresistible physical comedy. Audience inclusion, stunts, quick dialogue and belly laugh inducing witticisms made our day complete. I may review it for another day…20170701_141411.jpg

  4. Sneaky, Cheeky Drinkies. Now, be under illusion. The husband and I are no good at the drinking these days. Friday night red wine is a thing of the past and we would choose Poldark and the couch over beer in the local any day. So drinkies are not our first port of call. There is a certain part of us deep inside that feels obliged to imbibe when the occasion occurs. You just have to be cautious. The trick is one here and there throughout the day. Four tops. Water, water, water. Go tasty. We went for overpriced, delicious and extravagant cocktails at The Westbury. Posh nibbly bits supplied. There was a wine in the theatre. A delicious champagne cocktail with lunch at Milanos. That ended the alcohol. Just enough and yummy. Coffee required, we could afford to treat ourselves further.

    4. Coffee and Cake. OK, OK,  I know you think we have done this already. That was hours ago in the real world people! So when the performance ended in a blitz of fallen props and hanging stagelights, after a walk from the theatre to Temple Bar, we trotted across to Grafton Street in search of something sweet and delectable. Here we found the sexiest doughnuts I have ever encountered in Boston Donuts. I have been to actual Boston yet these capped any I had there. I am dreaming of them since…marshmallow centered, chocolate-glazed magically fluffy pastry. Wowsers.

    I opted for a S’more. Mr Paper went old fashioned, original Boston Creme. Chocolately lipped, custard dripping down our chins, we beamed at each other. The sign of true love.

    A Perfect Pair.

    5. Splurging in Shops on Grafton Street. Having eaten, sipped, nibbled and laughed, we now felt the need for retail therapy before heading back to Base camp. A little peek in Avoca, planning future spending! You know yourself, when I have the money, I will buy the world…

    Leaving Mr Paper in the gentleman’s section in BT, I bought myself a little bit of lippy.20170701_225731 Mr Paper reminded me that the Disney store was now in Grafton Street, and I bounded up the cobbled walkway to the world of joy (and temptation) ahead. After casually overspending on our little ladies, we went on home. Financial regret may occur on another day. Exhaustion Sunday or Dead to the World Monday maybe. In the interim, we walked hand in hand and remembered how we are as a couple. Coffee, a show, cake, cocktails- these are all the props. The whole point of this day away is to touch base with your other half. Add Prosecco and a Disney store if you must!

    So now you know. This is why we do it. The only way to really appreciate your home and family is the without them for a bit. This is very true. Home with the feet up, husband beside you and your little ones safe in bed. Until the urge to Have a Day Out returns once again, we experience another type of Lovely Life. We may not get to hold hands, have small talk to be together alone but look at what we do have- a busy life with the two most precious children.bitmoji-20170707040911.png

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Irish Traditions: Scuffles in Supermacs

In Ireland, a good night out is always judged by the amount of laughs, stories and craziness that occurs in the night. On many occasions, these nights out (in my twenties for me, but can be for any age) were ended by a visit to the

In our case, Supermacs. Tradition.

The Irish chain, originated in Ballinasloe, bringing us the snack box, curry or garlic cheese chip is a well known hangover cure. I haven’t been to Supermacs after 9 pm at night for many, many years but I am sure it all still goes on. Deadly queues of drunken, tired, make up encrusted victims of the nightlife.  Queue skippers. Death stares. Over ordering. Elbows. On one occasion, I can remember a guy realising that the guy in front of him in the queue was wearing the jacket he had had stolen from him in the nite club. People have words in Supermacs. People have scuffles in Supermacs. Supermacs has doormen at night. Taking your life into your hands for curry cheese chips. I wouldn’t attempt to stand outside Supermacs in a city after midnight. Carnage. swearing-294391_640

Last Sunday, we brought our children to the swimming pool. Well, my husband brought them in and I watched. Afterwards, we needed to eat. We decided on the Supermacs counter in the Centra garage outside town. Now, before the Food Police attack, we don’t give the girls fast food all the time. Yet there are occasions we need food. Fast. My girls love chippies. They are a treat so this was it.

The were getting hungry at this stage. Hangry! bitmoji-20170627015749.pngKids meals were purchased and red sauce distributed.

Betsy gets full quickly and offered her chicken nuggets to myself and Mr Paper. Gigi has a much larger appetite. However, she wanted to share too and offered Daddy a nugget. She wanted to be like Betsy. One subtle difference. You were not expected to actually partake in the offering.

Big mistake.  Daddy ate half.

Gigi went nuts. She wanted to offer the food but not actually give it away. There was a full return expected.

-Daddy! You gobbled it all up…YOU GOBBLED IT ALL UP.3ehh2Tq.gif

Gigi has a temper and it sometimes flares. We don’t see it so much now she is getting older but suddenly the red mist descended.

As all parents know, there are no take backs or second chances in kid world if you cut the sandwich, put gravy on the plate or eat half of the nugget.

I had to hold her back.

I can alway tell by her eyes if she has flipped.

Her eyes told me.eyes-2381871_640.jpg

Legs and everything were flaking.

As soon as it starts it stopped.

Gizmo to Gremlin to Gizmo.

So home we went.

After a good day out, a decent laugh and a bit of a scuffle in Supermacs over a chicken nugget.chicken-nuggets-155764_640

My children have experienced an Irish tradition.

The Pramshed

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A Simple Minds Moment

There is little that can beat the instant mood booster that is elicited from listening to the Simple Minds classic hit Don’t You Forget About Me and the mental air punch that it inspires. From time to time, the radio DJ will drop this tune on a rare, sunny day (this is Ireland) and we will roll the windows down, rack up the sound and thrill in this eighties’ beat.

We will sing and hair flick, air guitar and remember the time of hair rock.

We will want to air punch.

Thank you Judd Nelson.

There are several moments in cinema and television where this musical lift is employed that I love. There are the obvious and well- the less obvious. Obviously. Today I will be focusing on a song that can make a piece of TV/ film so much better by even reference to its inclusion.

Can you think of something better to write about on a glorious Monday morning in June? Neither can I.

So let us do it.

The most obvious film moment is The Breakfast Club. There is nothing sexy about John Bender. tumblr_mnfx2iHOO21r2aobgo1_500At least, I never thought so. In fact, he is appealing because he is not a pleasant character, like so many villainous fictional characters are. With John Bender however, we learn he is a victim of circumstance and social problems. As so cleverly caricatured in The Simpsons as Nelson, simpsonsworld_social_og_nelson_1200x1200he is coarse, rough and uncouth desirous of negative attention in the absence of family live. A Heathcliff of sorts. Why do we want him to get the girl? We really don’t. Yet as time progresses we change our minds. We grow used to /fond of/ sympathise with or even become empathetic to John Bender. So when he gets a shot at the girl…wow. That triumphant stride across a playing field, Daddy’s diamond earring proudly studding a grubby lobe, gifted during that apres detention kiss could only be climaxed with the air punch that has become iconic. And of course, the soundtrack that came with it. Eh, eh, eh, eh- ooooooh yea yeahhh huh. …64e875db1f8ee0fbfb0449b59026c948.jpg

So it is fair to say the next two moments are a result of that moment. Intertextualisation. A text within a text. This brings me onto Easy AI love a movie that draws on classic literature and this funny yet frightening tale of a modern day Hester (with the scandal, without the child) alluding to Nathaniel Hawthornes’s The Scarlet Letter draws on several 80’s classic films to conclude the story with a happily ever after moral. The guy arrives at the girl’s window (as she ends her confessional tell-all Webcast, this is a modern tale after all) with a boom box, speakers (aka John Cusack) but it is playing (you have guessed it) our track of the day. A serenade. Olive’s Moment.3e4885da153322ea460bb85376dbc5c4.jpgA bouyant Olive abandons her computer and tears out to the guy as they drive away into the sunset atop a ride on lawnmower. To the sound of our anthem. Air punch revival.

The next moment is from a very popular musical film and therefore all will know it. In Pitch Perfect accapella singer Beca doesn’t watch movies. I know. She is wasting her life! The Galahad of the piece (another accapella singer) manages to melt the ice queen’s heart. She sits in tissue box ravaging tears watching and listening to that final monologue in the the teen cult classic. Air punch.


It doesn’t end there.

In a show of heart, the character manages to bring this tune into an accapella group competition and as she belts out the words she catches the eye of the guy and they both air punch as Cupid meant them to. The love story is complete. Simple Minds work their magic once again. Have a musical treat!54dab0b6a9892319befecf32cd566bb4.jpg

Maybe you know the next one. Maybe you don’t. To me, it is way less obvious than the others. It is also most recent as I have only seen a few episides of the series as which is only airing here. This is no Romcom. No teen drama. No high school fable of angst and first love.  No. The TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Click here)is the antithesis of these feel good beauties as it tells the fuctional story (yes people, it is not going to happen, despite Trump being President and many real fears it will) of a trapped, bereaved woman in a hellishly dystopian future. In some ways, there are similar dark emotions underlying in The Breakfast Club or Easy A as we have depression and fear, bullying and societal pressure.brians-essay-from-the-breakfast-club.jpg However these films have enough positivity to counteract the bad and of course, end with the definitively positive Air Punch. So imagine my shock and delight when, out of nowhere, we had the happy tingling chords of Don’t You Forget About Me surprise us in the second episode (I cannot link, you will have to watch the show) as the main character revels in a moment of joy that unexpectedly arrives in her horrific world. It is powerful on so many levels. Only the audience can see her tiny smile and the light in her eyes as she demurely, eyes down and shielded by her winged cap, paces to the gate of the house to meet her shopping companion. handmaids-music-1.pngThe music is internal to her and shows us a minute image of the girl that was before the world changed. Unfortunately this is not where the story ends and there is no air punch. Yet the song has worked it magic. It is all the more potent as the the TV series is dark and disturbing. The music’s arrival was so unexpected and much more effective. No physical air punch. Yet we all know Offred is mentally doing a Judd Nelson just as we might in our car on a sunny day in June with our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

So I have to come to the end of my moments.

There are more uses of course- American Pie. Not Another Teen Movie and so on. There will be more. There should be more. These aren’t not my favourites however. I have already enlightened you with those beauts!

Just one thing left. Listen to the tune, blast it out and Air Punch with me.

Play it Sam. Have an eighties moment of aural indulgence. Relive the moment.


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