Friday, April 29, 2011

A nice day for a Royal Wedding

It’s been everywhere this week - talk of the ‘big do’ when Prince William finally marries his commoner girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Our TV has been filled with documentaries and news items. Our newspapers have been filled with articles on everything from who else is getting married today to what dress Kate will wear. (There has been an inordinate number of articles published brandishing ‘Exclusive’ banners declaring that they have an idea, possibly, of what Kate’s dress just might, maybe, look like without actually knowing a damn thing about any of it.) Several fairly dodgy songs have been written.

A plethora of tat has been released with a royal wedding theme. On Sunday I even saw some royal wedding dummies on sale, with teeny Union Jacks brandished across them declaring either Prince or Princess depending on the gender of your little royalist.

T-shirts have sprung up for aspiring little girls declaring they are princesses in waiting. Tea towel production is overload. A clatter of tacky embellished china is on sale right now not to mention the replica royal wedding toys.

The world, it seems, has gone a little bit mad for Big Willy (as Kate apparantly lovingly calls him) and Waity Katie (as is her nickname).

And while the tat mongers have me thinking the world has lost their sanity, there is a part of me which is, ultimately, very interested in the whole shebang.

I’d like to pretend I was above it all. I’d like to pretend that secretly the whole thing disgusts me from the money spent, to the tacky memorabilia to the gradiose pomp and ceremony of a British royal’s wedding.

But at heart, this much is true. I’m a girly girl who likes to believe in happy endings and who likes to see princesses wearing very fancy gowns and tiaras. I like to believe in fairytales. I’m aware that in many people’s eyes this makes me a sad case. I’m also aware that boy meets girl at university and the pair fall in love after she wears a see through dress is not exactly the most exciting fairytale in the world - but I’ll enjoy it for what it is.

I’ll push my reservations aside and employ my wilful suspension of disbelief - and get caught up in the romance of the day.

I’ll not worry about whether or not their forever after really is a forever after. I’ll try not to think of the ridiculous cost of it.

I’ll not even worry that maybe we people in certain parts of this country are supposed to be opposed, in principle, to anything remotely related to the British monarchy.

I’ll just concentrate on the spectacle of it all and watch it with the same fascination as I would a wedding unfolding on my street or in the nearest chapel.

I’ll judge whether or not her dress suits her. Is her hair nice? Should she have chosen a different veil or head dress? The bridesmaid dresses will be scrutinised to within an inch of their lives.

I’ll look to see what the mother of the bride is wearing, as well as the mother of the groom.

I’ll try and see if Wills looks nervous as he watches his bride walk towards him. Will Kate cry? (I’m betting she won’t. Commoner or not, a certain level of decorum will have to be observed).

I’ll watch and see if they stumble over their vows.

Will Camilla dab at her eyes with a hankie? Will they make mention of Diana and her untimely death?

Will they snog when they are pronounced husband and wife (or prince and princess)? Or will there be a refined peck on the cheek?

Nosiness will be have me watching to see them wave from the balcony at Buckingham Palace just to gauge whether or not they look really happy.

I’ll be secretly gutted the cameras won’t follow them on to the reception. I’d quite to see if anyone smuggles in a wee quarter bottle in their handbag.

Will anyone ask for chips instead of mashed potatoes and shame themselves?

It would nice to see one of the lesser known royals get scuttered and try and distract attention from the happy couple by sobbing into the wedding cake - or indeed it would be nice to what the first dance will be. (‘The Power of Love’ or ‘Flying Without Wings’ perhaps?)

Will they dance uproariously to ‘Sweet Caroline’ punching the air and shouting “so good, so good, so good” at the appropriate times?

Or will it all be terribly, terribly refined? I imagine, with a certain disappointment, that it will be.

There will be no ‘Rock the Boat’ with the Queen falling over herself and trying to protect her modesty. Sadly.

But maybe, there will be a happy ending. Maybe it will give us all a distraction from the seemingly endless bad news doing the rounds at the moment?

Maybe we will get to ogle at a pretty dress, and marvel at the spectacle of it and, if we are that way inclined, buy some wedding related tat.

I’m after a Big Willy teatowel myself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

This is the first time I can do this one...

Random conversations with the Girl (aged 25 months).

She ran to the window, with the enthusiasm typical of a two year and glanced at the grass across the street from our house.

"Mammy," she chirped. "look at the fluffy daisies!"

It took me a while to figure out she meant dandelion clocks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You just don't do it again....

I read this article in the Daily Mail (I know... I know...) today and instantly I felt angry, and sad, and concerned and  I suppose bereaved a little bit.

This article is about a woman who has hyperemesis - not morning sickness - but hyperemesis. Surprisingly I would say the majority of people, even women, don't know what Hyperemesis (Also known as HG) is. It's not morning sickness - it's not cured with a ginger nut biscuit, or a Rich Tea (but thanks for offering). It's full on.It's vomiting multiple times a day. It's feeling nauseous. It's vomiting blood because your innards are in shreds. It's dehydration. It's weakness. It's feeling like you have a parasite inside you and not being able to fully appreciate the baby you are growing. It's horrendous. It makes you have horrible thoughts. It drove me to the brink... it's NOT MORNING SICKNESS

Readers of the blog will know I suffered from HG when I was pregnant with Cara. And I'll be the first to put my hand up and say my condition was pretty low end compared to some people. I had one three day hospitalisation. I took daily medication. I threw up every day. In one week I lost 11lbs through dehydration alone. And that was at the lower end of the HG spectrum.

While all that was going on I had to work, I had to care for my then four year old (who became so used to his mammy being sick he would rub my back for me). I had to try and keep my sanity. What I put my husband through in those nine months was horrendous and I'm amazed he didn't walk out. I cried. I suffered panic attacks. I prayed for an early delivery even though it would have been harder for my baby. When a msicarriage threatened earlier on I spent a good amount of time wondering if it would be a good thing because this was the most horrible physical and emotional experience of my life.

When my daughter was born, (five days early, mercifully) she was healthy as could be. I stopped being sick as soon as she was delivered (after throwing up violently throughout her delivery). I still feel physically sick whenever I'm anxious. It takes very little now to make me ill but we are both fine and happy and I'm a very contented mammy. She was worth it.

But would I do it again? Not a chance. My pregnancy and HG is the primary reasons I will never have any more children. Even if I won the Lotto and could afford to be at home and raise them all in a luxurious, yummy mummy fashion (my other stumbling blocks to motherhood) I wouldn't do it.
I could not put myself through it. I could not put my husband through it. Or my children. Or my family. I could not countenance ever willingly doing that it myself or any of us again - so I won't.

Do I grieve over that decision? Some times. Generally speaking I feel done. I feel lucky. I have two healthy children - one of each flavour -and they are a delight to me. Some times though I get that urge - that maternal feeling - that urge to hold my own baby. The biggest high I ever had in my life was when my daughter was put on my chest after a wonderful delivery. I'd love to relive that moment.
But I cannot relive the 9 months which preceded it. Still, I am grieving for the glowing pregnancy I never had. My first pregnancy was marred with antenatal depression and I was determined to enjoy the second... well, that never happened.

I could never risk it again. And I don't understand how the lady in the article can keep going, with two terminations under her belt, knowing what the risks are. Some times the best decision is to just stop - you don't do it again. I hope she finds the peace to make that decision herself.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hauling out the big guns

There comes a time when you sit, a manuscript in front of you... a year or more of blood, sweat, tears, hope and dreams and you realise it's time to go in with the big guns.

Yes, my friends - welcome to editing hell. The truth being I have taken agin my latest book. And I want to make it much better. And I NEED to make it much better because I'm five books into this writing toot and it's coming close to that "sh*t or get off the pot" moment where you (being I) have to think about your work/ life balance and how much you actually get from writing (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually) and if you are good enough to do it for a living.

I made a promise to myself at the start of this year that in 2011 I would give my heart and soul to writing. I would do whatever it could to make this work. (Bearing in mind that making this work is largely out of my hands. I write the books - someone else chooses a cover, publishes it and markets it. Other people will review it. Booksellers will decided whether or not to stock it. Readers will decide whether or not buy it. Lucky breaks may, or may not, come my way).

So anything I write from now has to be something I'm 100% happy with - that I can stand over and say "this is who I am and if it doesn't work then I'll know I've given it my all".

The 30 Something Crisis Club will be that book.

So it's big guns time. Time to not so much "kill my darlings" as massacre them.

Wish me luck.

Friday, April 15, 2011

That's what little girls are made of

Standing in the kitchen on Saturday I listened to the toddler playing in the garden. It was a lovely sunny day and I had hauled her playhouse outside and set her up with her tea-set and dollies while I went about sorting washing and cleaning as I watched her.
She sat there, like the delicate little flower she is and invited her cousins (who weren’t actually there) in for tea. “Darcy, come in for tea,” she sing -songed before inviting Ethan (pronoucned Yee-than) and granny in too. She mimicked the sound of the doorbell and declared it was a tea party and chattered on to herself clearly pleased with her gathering of her imaginary friends.
I stood and listened, wondering how on earth she had reached such a stage where she could blether on so contentedly to herself and I marvelled at her imagination.
There was no trace of a toy digger or a racing car around. This was girly heaven. A pink play house. A blanket on the ground and a pretend tea party. With her hair in bunches and her frilly party dress on she looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.
It was about that stage that she started singing a song - or more accurately a chant - which culminated in a loud and vociferous shout of “City!” in a voice that sounded more like a 14 year old boys than a two year girl formerly referred to as the princess.
It seems my girly-girl may be finding her inner tomboy. This is something I’m not familiar with. I wasn’t in the least bit tomboy-ish in my childhood unless you count the occasional playing with Star Wars figures, but that was more connected with my childhood crush on Luke Skywalker than anything else. (In my adult years I have learned that Luke Skywalker so wasn’t worth the love and affection I held for him. Give me a rugged Han Solo any day).
I wasn’t one for climbing trees. I didn’t kick a football about or even feign an interest in it. I was more interested in being a very stereotypical little girl and playing with doll houses and Barbies and occasionally at pretending to be a popstar.
So it was quite a shock to hear a shout, in deep, rumbling tones from the baby girl in the garden a chant of “City!”.
I know of course that the chant came from her adoration of her big brother, who had returned from the victorious Derry match the night before high as a kite and has not stopped chanting since, but it made me realise that she is going to be her own wee person. That thought fills me in equal measure with pride and fear.
I have always been prepared for the moment my son would come home from school and declare an allegiance to a football team. I think I did quite well that we got to primary 3 before the full on obsession kicked in. I had always known though that before then we were on borrowed time - and I made my peace with that.
Now I have accepted that when he isn’t playing football he is talking about it. When he isn’t talking about it, he is watching it on the TV. (Sky Sports is the bane of my life). When he isn’t watching it on TV he is playing football related games on his DS.
To get him to dress in anything other than football gear is a struggle. Special occasions which require something a little smarter to be worn have to be planned well in advance with a stealth bribing plan put into action.
My life is spent in a state of fear that my back windows will come crashing in around me as football hits them at the speed of light.
This is what comes with being the mammy of a young boy and I have made my peace with that.
I thought my payback for that would be, well, sugar and spice and all things nice when my little girl arrived. I admit, and the anti gender stereotyping people may well jump on my back for this, that I probably played up to this.
My baby girl arrived in a hail of pink. I have delighted, ecstatically so, in buying dresses and bobbles, stripey tights and numerous pairs of teeny, tiny shoes.
I have delighted in going shopping with her, in baking with her, in playing together. A week ago I spent an inordinate amount of time mock potty training a Tiny Tears. (A two year old is, it seems, enthralled by a doll that pees).
I have been as happy as I have ever been, in our wee world together. And then she became a football hooligan overnight. Alomg with the chants she has taken to carrying Peppa Pig ball around like it is the most precious thing in the world and shouting “goal” when she pelts it towards the wall at great speed.
She will stand in her brother’s nets and bob and weave like a mini keeper in the making and has even perfected her own dance for when she scores a goal. She will sit by his side as he plays his computer games and mimick his cheers and his commentary.
I am waiting for the day she shuns her frilly dresses in favour of a football kit.
It seems having a little girl is not quite as frilly and flouncy as I had imagined - but at least I can console myself with the fact she’ll be able to stand her ground firmly wherever she is.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And writing.... and writing... and writing...

Well, the writing is going well but all encompassing.
Am delighted to say book 6 - with a very provisional title of 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?' is powering along nicely - 10,000 words have almost magically floated onto the screen and not once I have been tempted to tear my hair out.
It's set in a wedding dress shop - a gorgeous place with real wooden floors, sash windows and bright white walls - and a court yard! The court yard is very important! I'm creating two very feisty and strong characters - Kitty, the shop owner, and Erin a blushing bride to be who has always been heart set against weddings...

Book five, which should be called The 30 Something Crisis Club is still with the publishers and still awaiting the official thumbs up. As with all books, now that it is gone out of my control I feel the need to write new scenes in. I have become semi obsessed with writing a scene about a peg bucket.... that's how exciting my life is!
It should be in the shops in October - just in time for the Christmas market and my annual "new book out breakdown" - which is one of the many breakdowns I have in the average year.

It's Got to be Perfect will hit the shelves in paperback at the start of June. (See the pretty cover!) At the moment I'm very busy trying to gather together some publicity, breathe new life into it and remind myself what it is all about. (With two more books on the go since and two more casts of characters I have to admit that sometimes I struggle to remember character names. That said there are days now when I struggle to remember my children's names...and my own name for that matter.)

Writing aside, at the moment things are in a bit of a lull. The Eason event was amazing - I'm still floating from it. But now it's time to move on to the next thing - booking the next launch/ appearance and possibly some City of Culture events.
I also seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time doing primary three level homework. Ain't parenthood grand?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I never thought I would potty train a Tiny Tears

Cara feeding 'Baby Cara'
before the cries for "pee pees"
went up

The baby (now officially two and a toddler) has started to take a very slight interest in all matters toilet related. She has decided the most fascinating thing in the world is to look at her soiled nappies before they are deposited in the bin and has started talking about the potty and the toilet.
On Sunday she asked to change her dolly's nappy (the dolly is a Tiny Tears, bought out of sheer nostalgia) and then almost went into orbit with excitement at the revelation dolly - now known as 'Baby Cara' - has a potty all of her own and actually, if you give her a drink - she pees.

"Make dolly pee pee" was the cry as I filled the tiny toy bottle (sorry breastfeeders!) and allowed Cara to feed her baby Cara some water. Then it was a matter of tipping the doll in the right direction as quickly as possible and watch for the trickle of water from her nether regions into a small pink potty.
I have to say there were a couple of accidents. I don't think 'Baby Cara' is quite ready for big girl pants just yet. And mopping up the trickles of pretend pee from around the living room, I'm not sure I'm ready for the real Cara to give it a go either.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I have in my hand a piece of paper..

It's a Post It Note... with Cathy Kelly's email address written on it - by her very own hand!!
I may frame it.

I'm very tired... it has been a long few days but here are my key points about the event that was the Eason Celebration of Women's Fiction.

  • Patricia Scanlan is very lovely indeed and didn't laugh when I told her I wanted to be Devlin and run my own City Woman.
  • Sheila O'Flanagan knows her stuff. She's lovely - very forthcoming with advice and encouragement and refreshingly still as nervous when she sends a book as the rest of us mere mortals.
  • Melissa Hill has fabulous shoes and is just gorgeous and lovely  and exceptionally friendly.
  • Anna McPartlin is a ride. I mean, not that I did or anything... but she is just vibrant and funny and lovely (not to mention talented) that I may have a bit of a (non lesbian) crush on her.
  • Emma Hannigan is impossibly glam and very (must not say lovely.. there may be a lovely overload going on here) very nice (but nice is an awful word isn't it? Like "fine"... no one wants to be nice.) Okay, so I'll say she is a babe.
  • Cathy Kelly is impossibly wee but an absolute dote who said hello to me as if she really meant it and we had a nice (too short) chat and I babbled a lot about her being THE Cathy Kelly which in fairness I think she already knew.
  • Marisa Mackle is very glam. I could hate her. Except she was that word I've already used too much.
Oh there is so much more to write, but it was great and thanks to Eason for arranging it and for Shirley Benton and Clodagh Murphy for holding my hand.
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