Friday, May 30, 2008


It's Friday so it's cold day.
The Seven Dwarves of the Apocalypse are out in full - Sneezy, Wheezy, Queasy, Coughy, Achey, Whiney and Bleurgh.
Of course being a woman I'll batter on. I'm at work and in 15 minutes (yes, it's half day Friday!) I'll go and pick the boy up from Nursery and set about my Friday tasks and despite looking and feeling like I've had a fight with a ten tonne truck and lost I'll even go swimming with the boy this afternoon.
*cough, splutter*
Because that is what mammies do. We don't lie down under our illnesses. Yes, we might complain about them - blog about them even - but we get on with it. At least until the children go to bed and then we collapse in a sobbing heap and phone our own mammies for moral support.
I wonder what the medicinal properties of a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc are?

The Battle of the Boybands

There was something mildly disturbing about the picture of Boyzone on the front of ‘The Mirror’ this week. The one-time heart- throbs - who nowadays wouldn’t look out of place on a building site, with their jeans sagging and a chipped mug of tea in their hands - have recreated the famous final scene from ‘The Full Monty’ in preparation for their reunion tour.
But despite their toned abs and plethora of tough-man tattoos they just look a little, well, desperate. I’m not a big fan of these boy band reunion tours - especially when you can’t help but feel they are only in it for the money and they don’t actually like each other anymore.
This is like the Spice Girls all over again - only without the high end production values and glitzy costumes. Now I wasn’t opposed to Boyzone back in the day. I wouldn’t have classed myself as a fan - but they didn’t really offend me.
Some of their songs were quite good, I suppose. “No Matter What” was a decent enough tune but if I’m honest I had to use the powers of Google to remember their other hits - especially the ones that weren’t covers. But they were never really a serious musical ensemble.
I just saw them as a bit of craic - the Tesco Value version of Take That.
Ronan Keating has done well for himself but his voice always sounds a little strained to me. Sad as it may be to admit I much prefer the vocal tunings of Westlife. At least they look the part as well. There’s not a member of the Westlife team who looks like they would be better suited to pouring tarmac on a country road.
Of course there are hundreds of one time Boyzone fans who have crowded to the Odyssey to see them back on stage - even if they are older, wrinklier and smacking just that little bit more of needing the money. So while I sit here being rather freaked out by Ronan Keating’s six pack, which has the look of the airbrush about it, I suppose I shouldn’t judge. Because the sad truth is if the boy band of my youth were to reform and come to the Odyssey, I’d be there quicker than you could Bros jump off a high platform and shout “ooooarrrrh” in a ‘Drop the Boy’ style.
In my formative years it was the Goss brothers - most notably Matt - who was the object of my affection. I was obsessed in a 13 year old stalkery kind of style. I wrote letter after letter to ‘Going Live’ declaring my affection and sent Valentine’s Cards to the Bros fan club.
I had floor to ceiling poster coverage of the boys and had every single, tape and video on the market. Not to mention I loved to dress in my faded ripped jeans, white t-shirt and red and white bandana. Yes, I was a geek. But if you are going to fall in love for the first time, there is no safer way to do it than to fall for the singer in a band. You know all the time that you are never really going to marry them and live happily ever after. Sure you might daydream that they will pick you out of the crowd at one of their concerts and - being so overwhelmed by your dedication to them - decide there and then they want you for their wife; but you know it won’t ever really happen.
Nonetheless you get to fall for them - to play out your love affair - safe that you will never truly get hurt. Until the band breaks up, that is. And then you feel as if you might actually combust with pain. I remember the day Bros broke up very clearly - just as I remember how I cried hysterically (and rather over-dramatically) all over my bed.
I pleaded with my dad to take me see my best friend who was equally as bereft. I felt almost as if we should have been holding some kind of wake. I was all set for making the egg and onion sarnies and brewing an urn of tea. Now all that happened a very, very long time ago. And I know from using the power of Google again that both the brothers’ Goss are no longer in their prime. Matt has gone a bit bald - and more than a little pretentious - while Luke now prefers to spend his time acting.
But still I know if there was a chance to relive the heydey of my teenage years screaming like a good ‘un and singing cheesy 80s pop at the top of my lungs I would do it in a heartbeat. You simply can’t beat a good dose of nostalgia.
However I’d like to think that if the Bros boys reformed they would do it with a little dignity. There’s no need to be stripping off and flashing their pecs. Just sing the songs and bring us back to those more innocent days. There’s nothing innocent about standing greased up like a turkey at Christmas with nothing more than a hat covering your lad.
And surely what it is all about the music - remembering how you danced at the schoool disco to “I Owe You Nothing” or insisted on singing the Bros lyrics to “Silent Night” when everyone else was singing the traditional words. So Boyzone take note - sometimes less is more - except when it comes to clothes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Remember, remember the 29th of May

This day, five years ago, I peed on a stick and found out I was pregnant with the boy.
This day, 11 years ago, I finished my final exam at uni got on a bus back to Derry and went on my first date with the husband.

Today always makes me smile.

Random Conversations with the boy, Part 12

The school photographer is coming today so the children were asked to "dress smart".

J: I want to wear my Thomas train driver outfit today.

M: Why sweetie?

J: We have to dress smart. I want to wear a jacket.

M: This wee outfit is lovely too. It's really cool.

J: But is it smart enough for the botocleooor to take my picture?

M: Oh yes sweetie, the botocleoor will think you are a very handsome boy.

Five minutes later -unrelated but worth sharing - "Mummy you look very beautiful in your clothes today".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ooooh... OCD break through!

Housework done last night
1) Dishes washed.
2) Whites wash loaded into the machine.
3) Floors brushed.

Housework not done last night
1) Bathroom cleaned - and it needs it!
2) Kitchen windows washed - and they so need it too.
3) Sorting of clothes into work/ casual/ too big/ too small piles as promised.
4) Random decluttering of things which I've been doing for the last two weeks.

Word written: 600!
Of which I am happy with about 400.

My word count for Jumping in Puddles is now at just short of 88,000 words and it's all kicking off.

Things I'm not going to do anymore...

1: Beat myself up for not sticking to my GI diet after hitting the two stone off mark.
2: Drink quite so much Diet Coke - it is melting my brain.
3: "Forget" to take my Vitamin B supplements and wondering why my mood is swinging like a pendulum.
4: Decide I want a chippy tea when there is perfectly nice/ healthy/ nutritious food in the house. (Also related to GI diet issue).
5: Complain so much about my weight.

Things I AM going to do
1:Be careful with my food again.
2:Read 'The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl' to inspire me.
3:Drink more water/ cranberry juice
4: Don't give in to the caffeine cravings just because I have a headache.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How much is that doggy in the window...

My sisters went to the farm yesterday with the boy and came back with this little fur ball... (They came back with the boy too - I hasten to add. It wasn't a swap).
He's a ten week old Jack Russell who as yet has no name.
I think I might be in love.

Broken magic...

... I'm broken. I can't write any more.
It's not so much writer's block as writer's meltdown.
I did manage 300 painfully drawn out words last night but I wasn't feeling the flow...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy anniversary - I've a slight twitch in my eye

So anyway, this day 7 years ago I was a blushing bride (and three stone lighter... let's not sweat the small stuff).
Last night me and the husband went out for our dinner to celebrate and had a nice night together. When we came home I asked him had he noticed all the effort me and my mock OCD had gone to gut the house.
Seriously I've deep cleaned everything - decluttered and kept on top of little chores like bringing the washed towels up to the hot press (airing cupboard for you non N. Irish wans) etc instead of piling them in a washing basket in the kitchen til they almost reach the ceiling.

Husband said: "Not really".

As I said, twitch in my eye.
The seven year twitch.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Well, another OCD day here

I know, I should probably clean more than I do anyway so some of you will be thinking "what the heck is she on?" but still - it's like I'm nesting without being pregnant. (Unless it's one of those freaky still get your periods, don't put on weight, don't know anything about it until you think you need a big poo and deliver a baby into the toilet type of pregnancies...)
I threw out bags and I mean BAGS of stuff yesterday which I hadn't looked at in months. I was either intending to look at it forever or charity shop it or whatever but realised I just wanted it out of my house and on it went.
And then I cleaned - cupboards and everything! - and then hit the bathroom throwing out half used bubble baths and soaks and things that are probably well over their 12 month use by date/
I feel mildy purified but my hands smell of bleach.

It has also dawned on me though that all this could be creative avoidance. I'm coming to the end of book three and I always get a little nutso coming to the end of a book. It's somewhere between wanting never to end it and being dying to finish the fecker off. Result is I usually have a week or two of brain freeze where I'm convinced I would be better off to bin the whole lot and start again.

Words written in the last two days = 0. Upside - I don't have to worry about the quality.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Parenting, working and so-called choices

Sometimes I do feel as if I’m repeating myself, but this past week the old issue of working mums versus Stay At Home Mums (SAHMs, if you are down with internet lingo) has reared it’s head again.
Apparantly now fewer mums than ever before in history are staying at home to raise their children. Less than one in eight - a major national newspaper tells us - are in the SAHM camp.
The rest of us are out doing the 9-5, or the 9 -1, or the 2-4 or whatever. That means of course we have a generation of latch key children growing up who are being raised by their teachers, their Wiis and a hodge podge of child care professionals. These children, also, obviously (and believe my my tongue is so firmly lodged in my cheek right now I look like I’m chewing a golf ball) are growing up feeling unloved, neglected and without even have the very skills to get them through a day at nursery school. (Five year olds still in nappies? Blame the mums (not the dads mind...) for not ‘taking the time’ to toilet train their little darlings. Child unable to use a fork and knife - mummy’s fault for being in work earning money to buy the knife and fork in the first place).
As you can probably tell my cage has been well and truly rattled on this one - and there are two reasons why this old, played out, anti-working mummy claptrap annoys me so much.
The first is that there are very few mothers out there with a choice as to whether or not they work. In reality to be a SAHM these days you either have to be on benefits (not ideal), or marry (or live with) an extremely wealthy partner (not all that likely).
It is no longer the case that mummy goes out to work for some extra pocket money, to pay for the family holiday or treats for the kids. These days with the whole credit crunch/ rising costs of everything from eggs to oil means that mums work to meet the basic bills.
And yes, we are are crippled with guilt for putting bread on the table and a roof over our wains’ heads.
But unless the government starts to value a woman’s role as a mother (or a man’s role as a father, come to think of it) and start pouring money into paying mothers to raise their own children things aren’t going to change. It seems all the government wants to do is pour money into subsidised childcare and then commission reports on how we are damaging our children by sending them into childcare in the first instance. The logic baffles me.
The icing on the cake however is that it seems that things are going to get worse rather than get better. There are plans, in the not too distant future, to cut benefits for parents with children at school to encourage them back into the workforce. Whatever way you look at it, the government may want a 1950s ideal of mammies raising their children and instilling in them 101 different virtues and values but they have yet to put their money where their mouths are.
The second reason all this annoys the bejaysus out of me is that is is simply not true. Us working mothers are not slacking on our parenting skills. A working mother will put her own needs to the very bottom of the list to make sure that her child has all the attention, love and support he or she will need.
We are the ones who do housework into the middle of the night so that we get to spend our few precious evening hours with our children doing “quality time” activities.
We’ve taken annual leave to do the potty training week. We’ve dashed out in our lunch break to see a school play, or give reassurance to a fretful child. We use our annual holidays to care for sick children, and when the weekend’s arrive we cram in as much as possible even if we are knackered from a week’s work.
If anything the modern working mother tries doubly hard at everything so that no-one can cast apersions on her parenting skills because she isn’t there all the time.
Now to put all this in perspective. Let’s look at the figures again. Seven out of every eight mothers now works. The vast majority of us are out there earning a crust - and yet we are still made to feel as if we are in some evil, selfish little minority.
It was said to me recently that no-one can make you feel guilty but yourself. If I get het up over the issue of working mothers being painted as evil creatures it is, apparantly, because somewhere in my subconscious I must believe I am doing the wrong thing.
What utter poppycock. (I would use a stronger word, but am very aware this is a family newspaper and want to retain my job even if it means spending less time with the boy).
What person out there, being barraged by reams and reams of information about how their choices are potentially damaging the one person in the world most utterly precious to them, could not feel weighed down by a certain portion of guilt? Especially if your “choice” isn’t really a choice in the first place.
That’s not even to mention there are many, many women out there who enjoy work - who know they can balance parenthood with holding down a career. Yes, it might be tiring, and you might wish for an extra week off somewhere, but it is not impossible to combine the two.
What this all comes down too, as with so many of the great debates of the moment, is respecting each other’s choices and putting in place mechanisms so that we all do genuinely have the chance to make the best choice for us and our families.
And it would be worth remembering - all you anti-working parent pundits out there - the old adage that any decent parent will have taught you - if can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And the answers are....

Well done to Fionnuala, Katie and Karen for your answers.
The full results are as follows...

1: She's a five foot ten, with catsuit and bambi eyes.
Westlife - When You're Looking Like That - guilty pleasure.

2: Every now and then I get a little bit helpless and I'm lying like a child in your arms
Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart - although I'm partial to the Westlife version. When Shane sings the line above I get a warm feeling in my special place.

3: Life is old there, older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze
John Denver- Country Roads - theme music of my childhood.

4: Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin strong,You dont wanna save me, sad is my song.
Stevie Wonder- Superstition - theme music of my university years.

5: I don't wanna hurt anymore. Stay in my arms if you dare. Or must I imagine you there.
Whitney Houston - I have Nothing - best sung drunk when no one else in the house.

6: Tomorrow we can drive around this town, And let the cops chase us around. The past is gone but something might be found to take its place...
Gin Blossoms - Hey Jealousy - fabulous, fabulous song which reminds me of happy early twenties. (And yes, very obscure, sorry.)

7: My friend assures me it's all or nothing. I am not worried- I am not overly concerned
Counting Crows - Anna Begins - theme music of bus journeys from home to uni - reminds of VBSF (very best school friend) Amanda.

8: I ain't no psychiatrist. I ain't no doctor with degrees. But it don't take too much high I.Q. to see what you're doin' to me.
Aretha Franklin - Think - sing it sister!

9: You've been the only thing that's right, in all I've done.
Snow Patrol or Leona Lewis - Run. Makes me cry!

10: I remember that time that you told me, you said, love is touching souls. Surely you touched mine. Cause part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time.
Joni Mitchell or Brian Kennedy, A Case of You - my song to the boy when he was little.

Sing... sing a song!

Busy day today so I'm doing a shameless steal from Fionnuala, who has challenged her Blog readers to identify 10 songs which she loves to sing along too.
I'm going to offer you the same challenge - please no comments on my pish poor taste in music. I make no apologies for it at all.

1: She's a five foot ten, with catsuit and bambi eyes.

2: Every now and then I get a little bit helpless and I'm lying like a child in your arms

3: Life is old there, older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

4: Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin strong,You dont wanna save me, sad is my song.

5: I don't wanna hurt anymore. Stay in my arms if you dare. Or must I imagine you there.

6: Tomorrow we can drive around this town, And let the cops chase us around. The past is gone but something might be found to take its place...

7: My friend assures me it's all or nothing. I am not worried- I am not overly concerned

8: I ain't no psychiatrist. I ain't no doctor with degrees. But it don't take too much high I.Q. to see what you're doin' to me.

9: You've been the only thing that's right, in all I've done.

10: I remember that time that you told me, you said, love is touching souls. Surely you touched mine. Cause part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Random Conversations from a Newspaper office

Last week the paper I work ran this story about an alleged UFO sighting on the outskirts of the city.
It garnered us our highest ever web traffic and started debate here and there about whether or not it was genuine.
Now whether or not you believe in UFOs is a matter for another day, but today while we were discussing the case one of my colleagues piped up.

"Well I believed him because I've been watching The X-Files for years."

Oh well, that explains it then.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Random Conversations with the Boy, Part 10

Picture the scene - driving home today - got out of work early (time off for good behaviour). Have picked the boy up and we are making our home past a row of shops. Figure as I'm out of work early might as well cook proper, nutritious dinner instead of potato "wobbles", fishy fingers and peas.
And here it goes...

M: Joseph, what would you like for dinner? Would you like potatoes and vegetables and gravy?
J: I don't like vegetables.
M: Yes you do, you like broccoli and carrots.
J: Yes, I do. I like those, but I don't like vegetables.
M: Mmmm, will be stop at the butchers and get something nice for dinner?
J: S'not the butchers mummy. It's the bitchers.
M: (Thinking I'd misheard) - The what Joseph? The BUTCHers?
J: No mummy. It's not the butchers. It's the BITCHers.
M: That's a whole different kind of a shop, Joseph.

A lucky mummy

I have, ashamedly, been avoiding a lot of the news coverage of the earthquake in China but last night I caught footage on ITV news of the quake and immediate aftermath in Beichuan.
Among all the footage there was a segment where children, trapped in a collapsed school, were calling for help - calling for their mothers.
The children were so high up that rescuers could not easily get to them and parents were arriving at the school hoping their children would still be alive.
For every child the reporter saw alive, he said, there were three dead inside.

When I left my boy off at nursery school this morning and looked at all his little friends that statistic played through my mind again. For every one alive, three are dead.
And there are children calling out to their mothers and their mothers are unable to reach them.

It's worth thinking about.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Surely I'm not the only person who cried watching this?

I just think Niamh has that certain something..

I've got the key...

I blogged last week how a very lovely writer friend sent me a thoughtful gift last week. Now I thought it was about time I shared that that gift was something very similar (but prettier) than the beautiful key charm pictured here.
My lovely new friend sent me the necklace as a reminder that I have the key to my success in my own possession and to wish me every success with my career as it progresses.
Given than I'm trying to be very zen about things - and failing - and given that for the last week I've had a complete crisis of confidence over the third book the gift was not only extremely appreciated (who says no to bling?) but also perfectly timed.
I've been wearing my lucky charm since and reminding myself that it is in my power to achieve what I want. Yes, wearing a necklace isnt going to start a bidding war on my latest MS but it does remind me that what is most important is being true to me, as a writer, and producing work I can be exceptionally proud of.
Wrote 1000 words at the weekend. No chocolate doodahs, but the words were flowing onto the page almost effortlessly and I found myself caught up in a different world where the characters were back to being people I knew so very well.
Perhaps all I needed all along was to remember that success lies within and if I keep believing in myself good things will happen.
So once again, thank you dear writer friend, you have made a big impact!

Random conversations with the boy, part 9

J: Mummy, mummy. Abby took the water off me and I couldn't make sense!
Me: What? Make sense? How do you make sense?
J: (With a roll of the eyes as if it is the most obvious thing in the world.) You get a bottle of water and you put a minty sweet in and that is how you make sense."
M: Right, very good.
J: But Abby drank the water and now I make no sense at all.

You said it, boyo!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sure as eggs is eggs...

Come about 11am on a Friday morning, when there is a mere two hours to a weekend of freedom, I will start to feel my throat getting scratchy and my head getting sore and a weekend of feeling "meh" coming.
Am feeling a bit foot stampy in a "S'not fair" kind of a way.
I blame the air conditioning and the fact I've obviously not been cleaning my house thoroughly enough to rid it of dodgy wee bugs and dustmites and that kind thing.
Fear I may become woman obsessed with bleach.

In other news received very gorgeous and most thoughtful gift from writer friend (who shall remain anonymous). I know she pops in here occasionally so thank you, you super star!

ETA: Wrote 200 words. House was on. Was lost in contemplating embrace with House Vs Wilson or indeed House/ Wilson combo fantasy so mind was not on writing. The 200 words did reference sex though... more on a chocolate doodah theme.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


After the lovely girls at Trashionista had the exclusive, I can now, here, reveal the cover for Feels Like Maybe.
It will be tweaked a little - a cover quote perhaps or the word "Bestselling".. but here it is in all it's pink glory.

Starting to worry...

Further to yesterday's post...
Last night I cleaned my front door. My FRONT DOOR. Like Nora Batty with my bucket of soapy water and cleaning cloth, I polished the darn thing til it gleamed.
At 8pm - after work. And then, I tidied my garden, cleaning the garden furniture and when that was done I had the polish out and cleaned the living room and mopped all the floors.

It won't end well, I tell you.

(ETA: Wrote 300 words. Some of them good. Even a funny line about a chocolate doodah)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Getting a bit OCD

*not intended to offend people who actually do have OCD - realise it is not laughing matter. Still must be nice to have a clean house...

I'm starting to get a bit nutty about things. Last night I tidied my laptop - purging it of old photo files and dodgy half written stories and drafts of drafts of other books. And then I hit my gmail - labelling, filing and and archiving.
Tonight I might even tackle my taxes (eek - me no like taxes. Taxes v.v.v. bad even though VBF's husband is accountant. They still make me come out in cold sweat and become convinced I'm going to be done for fraud because I've lost a receipt for a sheaf of paper or something. (Am very panicky these days... not good quality... coupled with OCD-like tendencies have become a barrel of laughs to live with... not).

Also have found that since reading Marian Keyes' 'This Charming Man' have inability to write emails/ blog posts etc without slipping into diary style conversation. V. annoying. Fodder once again for those who say am Marian Keyes copy cat. Am not Marian Keyes copy-cat. Am just me... in panicky/ OCD phase.

Zen phase not doing very well. Still taking the B-Vitamins though. Dirty big horse pills of things which smell horrible and stick in your throat. Mood not swinging as much though - pretty much settled on "pants".

Still, found I wrote 1000 words yesterday. This was good and made me smile. And there are small words in there too. Not all are spelled correckly (Ha! see what I did there! Smiling at own weak use of humour), but there are 1000 of them all the same.

Now if only I could get OCD re: writing. Would be churning book out a week in Barbara Cartland fashion and would get minion to type it up for me while I lay on my hoop eating Galaxy chocolate and growing to size of a house. Wouldn't care though - would have pink make up and fluffy slippers and minion would be hunky Clooney-alike.

*sigh* A girl can dream.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How time flies

I was surfing about You Tube tonight looking at a video a colleague of mine took of his son singing 'How Much is that Doggie in the Window' when I found a video I uploaded some time ago of the boy and his cousin singing "I can Sing a Rainbow". Now I know she learned that song at nursery so it was two summer's ago, and he would have been only two.
But I was totally freaked by how babyish he looks compared to now. And I wanted to turn back time and cuddle his wee babyness to me for just a little and remind myself of how gorgeous he was then. (And I love how he sings orange and "purpur" and baloooooo)

That love/ hate thing

I'm reaching the end of writing my third book - a lovely book called 'Jumping in Puddles' set in a fictional Donegal village where four lone parents come together to get their lives back on track.
Except at the moment I don't think it is lovely. I think it is a pain in the bum. Writing is not all about sitting down at the keyboard and seeing the words flow forth faster than your fingers can keep up. Sometimes it is about writing the same sentence 15 times and still not getting it right. Some times it is about trying to inject humour but finding it all smacks of trying too hard. Some times you feel as if you know your characters as well as if they lived in your house and ate your biscuits and other times you struggle to relate.
Now I could just batter the rest of this book out - one word after the other - but unless it is honest, and funny and as good as it can be, I'm not interested.
So while I think it is probably the best book I've written, it has also been the toughest writing challenge to date.
Still, 28,000 words to go...(x 15 for the rewrites). Shouldn't take too long??

Monday, May 12, 2008

Laughter is the best medicine

I’m on a new mission this week to be very zen about things.
I’m trying, as the multitude of self help books on my shelves tell me to not sweat the small stuff, feel the fear and do it anyway and get the life I want, and want the life I have... or something.
After a week in the sun (which was deliciously relaxing) I came home determined to be an overall much calmer person.
If my computer crashes in work - which it does, a lot - I’ve vowed not to swear at the top of my lungs like a fishwife. If a bill lands in the door that I’ve not been expecting, I’ve vowed to take a deep breath and tell myself it will all be okay before going into an immediate panic attack about the credit crunch. (Am I the only person who hates the expression credit crunch? Makes me get all nervy and think we are heading for a 1930s style great depression where we all be forced to decamp to a shanty town on the old Fort George site and live on stale bread and cornflakes.)
I’ve also made a solemn vow to be more of a new-agey smiley happy mammy and try to adopt an altogether more relaxed attitude to parenting so that I’m again not doing my fishwife impression quite so often - regardless of how often I have to watch Fireman Sam or The Mr Men Show.
So far I’ve been doing okay - despite certain levels of severe provocation such as some wee so and so stealing the wing mirror off my car at the weekend, and my computer in work going into uber meltdown mode on Monday. (It didn’t want to work a Bank Holiday almost as much as I didn’t want to work a Bank Holiday).
But it hasn’t been easy. I’ve always been a little on the highly strung side. Now, I’m not an out and out public-display-of-hysteria kind of a gal but it’s a fair bet that on any given day there will generally be a wee bubble of anxiety clawing away in my stomach over anything and everything. I am the Queen of free floating anxiety and, having had a chance to step back from it while on holiday, I realised just how unhealthy it is to feel that way for the lion share of your waking hours. (Generally I sleep okay, which is a blessing, but given that I can’t sleep 24 hours a day and still lead any sort of productive life, we’ll rule that out from the start).
Now I’m very lucky in that in recent months and years I’ve met some lovely people who seem to have a delightfully calming effect on me. They listen when I ramble insanely about my latest worry and don’t laugh at how seemingly inconsequential they are. But more than offering a listening ear, they also offer support and practical advice to get my through the day. And it works. The mantras, the breathing techniques and the B vitamins are becoming my best friends.
But what works above all that is having a good old laugh - and my friends can dole those out in spades. There’s no doubt that life generally has got busier and more stressful. It seems that people are working harder and longer to make ends meet and I’ve no doubt that there is an extra pressure on people to have it all - regardless of whether or not they can afford it.
The rising costs of everything from petrol, to home heating oil to food, to clothes to mortgages is a killer. Between tighter profit margins in the workplace, increased reports (on an almost daily basis it seems) that almost everything you will ever do in your whole life is likely to cause you an early death/ cause your children to be obese or contribute to a global warming catastrophe, it’s hard not to feel a little down from time to time. (Especially if like me, worry is your middle name).
It feels to me that people have generally forgotten how to relax and appreciate the small things in life. We’ve forgotten how to have craic and laugh at stupid things. People generally seem grumpier and less friendly and it is hard to make new friends - especially when you’re a grown up with children and a limited (read that as non-existant) social life. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern where you have a good moan rather than a giggle and I’ll readily put my hand up and admit that I have a tendency towards the whiney - but there is no doubt in my mind at all that it’s something that can be changed.
My very best friend in the whole world is a great one for letting me cry on her shoulder - and I return the favour when necessary - but her overall philosophy in life is that a belly laugh beats a good cry any day of the week. So I’m going to try and laugh a little more, keep taking my B-vitamins and saying my silly little mantras until I’m laughing more and gurning less. There will always be things to worry about - but I think it’s someone else’s turn now. I’ve done my bit.

One of the loveliest emails I've ever received...

From a reader... made me get all sniffy and emotional at my desk.

Just finished it and was sobbing my heart out at the end, especially at Grace's intro to her piece and about if you feel you're life is crap then try and do something about it. Really one of the best books I have ever read, I love it soooooooooo much and can't recommend it enough

Friday, May 09, 2008

This made me smile today

Still busybusybusybusybusy but I got this line in an email today and it made me smile. It's so simple and yet so gorgeous.

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Is it just me or have we lost an hour somewhere? I think I left an extra hour in Spain because since I've been back I've not be able to catch my breath.
I'm finding I don't get sitting down til gone 9 - writing is virtually non-existant (and it's driving me nuts) and I'm so tired yet can't seem to get to bed before 11.30.

Can we just slow down please - even just a little bit - I'm getting out of puff and I've gone a very unattractive bright red around the face and I'm sweating more than usual.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Back to Life - Part 3 - Water Baby

Finally, after the books were read and just before I feared my skin would fuse with the sofa in freak heat/ cellulite / squished by child accident, we made it outside.
My son is a waterbaby. He first went swimming at the age of three months and has loved it since. He has taken to the water like a duck to, erm, water.
Sadly the swimming pool attached to our apartment hadn't quite heated up just yet. The boy didn't mind - he doesn't fear icy temperatures but I only managed to get in past my knees on one occasion - and even then it took me half an hour of creeping in inch by inch, waiting for suitable intervals between each toe dipping until the covered area of my body was suitably numb. I tried jumping in once and my neck disappeared into my shoulders for an hour - swear to God. I'm just about defrosted now.
But this picture is my favourite from my hols. We had just arrived (before we met the blue sofa of doom) and Joseph was so excited to see the sea he ran straight in, fully clothed, and let the waves crash over him.
He's the (water) baby - gotta love him.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Back to Life - Part Two - Holiday reading

When I went on holiday this year I was most of all looking forward to reading the new Marian Keyes book 'This Charming Man'.
Having looked forward to it for years, literally (I think it is just over two years since 'Anybody Out There' hit the shelves) I was almost delirious with excitement about it.
When I saw it was released and in the shops a few days early I made it my mission to get my mits on a copy and then had to put it in my suitcase straight away to resist the urge to read it there and then.
The thing is though, the book is big - really big - and didn't fit in my wee handbag so I popped Sharon Owens' 'The Trouble With Weddings' in my bag instead. (Now released in the UK as 'Revenge of the Wedding Planner').
I started reading it on the plane and it was, truly, one of the funniest, warmest books I've read in many a long year. It was chatty, warm, oozed delicious dresses, decadent interiors and a house on Eglantine Avenue which I covet with all my heart. (In her book 'It Must Be Love' Sharon wrote about my dream kitchen... the two of us should get together and create dream houses, honest).
It had laugh out loud moments, risque love scenes, a sexy bar man, wedding cake dilemmas and a very funny series of twists and turns. And yet at the heart of it there was a serious message about love, forgiveness, friendship and family.
It was delightful, entirely.
And it was only then, when it was done that I moved on to Ms Keyes.
There is so much I want and need to say about this book - because just so much happens in it. It is hard to know where to start, so I figure a list of pros and cons probably works best.

(And I'll start with the negatives so we finish on a highnote. Will try not to spoil it, so this will be safe to read if you've not started/ finished yet).


  • Size 14 is not fat. Dear Marian, that annoyed me. I wanted to hunt you down and feed you chocolate and Dominoes Pizza. Size 14 is fine. And people who weigh 18 stone are not quite that obese they need to lifted from their houses by a crane.

  • Lola - perhaps the funniest chapters in the book but - shorthand got little bit annoying by end - esp in dialogue with Considine. Wanted small words. Missed small words. But realised book was behemoth of thing anyway and small words would have made it twice as long. Had baggage limitations on flight - so fair enough.

  • Alicia - we could have heard more from her. Wasn't really sure of her story or motivation.


  • This is perhaps Marian's best book. Although my heart will always belong to Rachel's Holiday - you never forget your first time.

  • The scenes of domestic violence were hard hitting (no pun intended) and powerful and wonderfully drawn.

  • The portrayal of Marnie's depression and drink problem was amazing - not easy reading (and I imagine not easy writing) but helped me understand alcoholism and helped me feel less alone as regards depression.

  • The funny bits are very funny. (Not as laugh out loud funny as Sharon Owens, but funny nonetheless)

  • The clothes are fabulous - and I do want Molichino hair.

Next on my reading list was 'The Memory Keepers' Daughter' by Kim Edwards - made me realise why I love chicklit so. It was an okay book - over written and overly flowery and made me want to throw it across the room several times - but also gave me new love for the name Norah. So not all bad then.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Back to Life - Part One - Sofa Arrest

Hola Mes Amigoes*

Well I'm back from my holliers but it was so eventful (even if absolutely nothing happened) that I'm breaking it down in a few pieces.

The first thing I should say is that holidaying with a four year old is a whole new experience. Forget lounging all day reading, and then drinking into the wee hours. Forget sun, sea, sand and sex - we had sun, sea, sand and Sofa Arrest.

Our first day on holiday was a long one. We had to get up at 3am and drive to the airport, not arriving at our destination until 4pm (Spain Time) so 12 hours in all. The boy, by that stage was so hyped up on being in sunny Spain that he refused to sleep despite my plying him with Medised, buying a neck cushion for travelling and wrapping him in a wee blanket. He was hyper as a box of frogs.

So it was then 10pm (Spain time) before he went to sleep - which was officially a shocking 18 hours since he woke up. We hoped he would sleep til 12 the nesxt day or some other such miracle, but no, at 8am he was jumping around demanding the pool.

By lunch time however the travel, the heat and the lack of sleep had caught up with him and so arrived the rocketing temperature, the tantrums and the desire to sit on the sofa - only on the sofa - do not pass go, do not lounge in the sun, do not do anything other than watch fecking CBeebies in an airconditioned apartment. (Oh to pay ££££s to do the same thing in Spain as we would at home. I was a picture of joy).

So began a week of sofa arrest as Joseph was not only obsessed with lying on the sofa, I had to be there with him - not daddy - only mummy. So I sat, glued to a child for two days. We smiled some times - see picture - but by the end of day three in the Sofa Arrest House I was going slightly mad.I now know I could never do a summer in the Big Brother House... I would turn slightly mental(er) and need heavy duty medication by the end of the first week.

Thankfully by day four he had recovered enough to allow an hour or two at a time in the sun and we got to enjoy ourselves... but still we always ended up back on the sofa.

Yes, it was nice to get snuggles a plenty... but if you want to know the reason for my palour after a week on the Costa Blanca, there you go...

* Don't know if Hola Mes Amigoes is correct use of language. Have realised am hopelessly, embarrassingly shit at Spanish. Joseph was amusing though... we taught him to say Por Favour (excuse spelling) which he pronounced as "Four Five Four".

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