This week I have mainly been… date nighting in Fermanagh!

Don’t you just love Wowcher and Groupon? If it wasn’t for them, I doubt I’d ever get to go anywhere. You can’t deny someone a bargain stay after all! We booked a deal to stay at Lusty Beg Island about four months ago then, did our usual and forgot about it. It was only when we received the ‘warning, your voucher is due to expire’ email did we finally get our arses in gear and book it. Booking is the easy bit, finding someone to look after three, mental boys for the night is the hard bit. As usual, eldest and middle had to be split up in order for us to sell the idea of babysitting them for a night. Once anyone has looked after them both together and, witnessed the obligatory 6pm-8pm battering session, they refuse to do it ever again. Eldest was packed off to my sister on the promise of a ‘sleepover’ with his cousin and the other two stayed with nanna. Freedom beckoned. But first, a cheeky Nando’s because, why not?

We arrived at 3 pm, drove the car onto a little ferry and, were transported to the most beautiful little island. So picturesque. After checking in and obtaining our key, we went to explore our room. It was perfect, even if it only had a shower and no bath. Is it a mum thing to want to have a bath in peace once you get away from your sprogs or, just a Grace thing? I’d no sooner sat on the bed when I received a Whatsapp from my sister advising that eldest had been awarded ‘star of the week’ at school. I burst into tears. He has wanted to get star of the week ever since he started school. Every week he has become increasingly frustrated when he hasn’t. “Maybe you would get star of the week if you refrained from glueing your artwork to your face?” I helpfully offered last week. Either something clicked or, she is just running out of children to award it to but, he did it! Trust this to happen the one day I don’t pick him up from school. I know how excited he would have been to tell me. Mum guilt began to set in. Only one thing for it- wine! After a few glasses, the guilt subsided. I could always make it up to him the next day. Off we went to play a game of pool in the hotel’s game room. After a few vinos, the game was rather one-sided I’m ashamed to admit.

We had the most amazing steak and dauphinoise potatoes for dinner, overlooking the lough. Perfectly relaxing. Next, we headed back to our room for a few more drinks (yes, we are that broke these days). Come 10pm the two of us were royally merry. “Let’s go to the bar and ask if they will make me a big bowl of dauphinoise potatoes” I demanded. “At this time?” hubby replied. “Yes at this time! When a girl want’s potatoes, she wants potatoes! Failing that surely they will have Tayto”. Begrudgingly, hubby retrieved his coat. We entered the bar, approached the barman and, asked for some potatoes. “Um, the kitchen closed at 8pm” he responded dumbfounded. “We have Tayto though”. Some people just get it. Tayto in hand, we found a table. It appeared we were the only ones there. That is, until I heard a lot of giggling and four girls came hurtling around the corner. They then joined our table. We got chatting and,  they were all fellow mummies and fellow mum’s on tour. I shared my Tayto and they shared their fishbowl gin. Hubby sat there quite obediently whilst not just one, but, five women proceeded to talk utter shit to him. I have never drunk gin before and, now I know why!

Waking up the next morning to check my phone, I was confronted with a smashed screen. “What the? When did I do that?” I panickedly asked hubby. “I have no idea, I don’t even know what time we came back to the room at” he replied. “You may also check if you have your engagement and wedding ring as I vaguely remember trying to stay awake whilst you repeatedly emphasised how your finger has got fat this week and they no longer fit” he added. I had been thinking that all week in fairness. I leapt up to begin the search. No wedding ring. Gin 1, Grace 0. Eldest may have been bestowed star of the week’ but his mum has been titled ‘twat of the week’. Middle has also disowned me upon returning as my phone is ‘broken’. All my worries that he loves my phone more than me, have just been proven. Never again (until next time I get some freedom).

Star of the week- this would happen the one day I don’t collect him from school!

This week I have mainly been…. realising how in for it I actually am – EEK!

This week I suddenly had an ‘oh shit’ moment. A moment when I realised how hard things are about to get for me. Don’t get me wrong, three kids are mega hard work but, up until now, I’ve felt relatively in control. After all, I had thought one child was hard, two even harder but, when baby came along I didn’t notice a vast difference. Ok, admittedly it added an extra five minutes of getting in and out of the car which, was already a rigmarole. I was also thrown back to the days of being up all hours feeding with no hope in hell of a nap to recoup. I also mustn’t forget the whole getting three boys dressed (when two much prefer to be starkers most of the time) thing either but, baby couldn’t move anywhere whilst all this was occurring. He was also extremely quiet most of the time despite the other two going bonkers around him. This week that changed. After him being sick all last week and, hospitalised on Friday, he’s been feeling much better. Back to his usual self, smiling continually and giving me lots of big, slobbery kisses. He also appears to have acquired his energy back, much to my detriment.

Having finally managed to potty train middle, I am thankfully back to only having one in nappies. This has been amazing and I had been feeling rather smug (I won’t lie). That was until baby decided he was going to roll continually whilst I attempted to diffuse his up the back explosions. “Stay still!” has been my new yelled saying this week, followed swiftly by hysterical shrieking of “it’s going everywhere!”. Why has he decided to move suddenly? We had a much calmer relationship when he adhered to the proper nappy changing etiquette. He is also now into everything and, I mean everything! Namely middle’s potty. It’s almost like he lies in wait until middle does a pee, appears out of nowhere and empties the whole thing over himself and my floor grr! For someone who gets about with a weird, one-legged crawl, he can move surprisingly stealthily and quickly. I am at my wits end entirely with his potty shenanigans and, back to bleaching my floors continually. His voice has also made an appearance this week, which has resulted in him and middle having what can only be described as constant scream off’s. Said scream off’s tend to occur  (quite loudly) at 6 am every morning. This is generally followed by baby throwing both my phone and the remote control at my face. Who need’s an alarm eh?

As if all that wasn’t trying enough, eldest has now decided that he wants nothing to do with baby. So, when he suddenly appears in our room, (like something from the exorcist) at 2am, he is refusing to lie beside him. Instead, he insists on lying horizontally at the bottom of the bed. So on one side I have a baby punching and kicking the living shit out of me and, a five-year-old at the bottom continually scratching his nails off my legs. If my mum tells me one more time how bad a night’s sleep she had the night before, I may seriously lose my shit.

In conclusion, if you have two children and are toying with the idea of a third, DON’T do it. It’s all well and good until the last one decides to become mobile. After that, it’s just utter craziness and f#ckery. You were warned.

 

This week I have mainly been…. contemplating selling middle on Ebay to recoup the money he has cost me with his YouTube obsession!

I hosted a Halloween party for twenty-eight adults and kids on Monday evening. I’m not quite sure how this happened as it was my sister’s turn (I did it last year). I had all three kids on the day in question as it’s half term. Baby had also been up most of the night screaming and I was shattered. I knew I had to somehow find the time and energy to clean my house, make a chilli and, keep them all alive. At 9 am, I got to work cutting all the ingredients for the chilli. Two minutes later I turn around to observe that middle has taken off his pj’s, is brandishing a plastic sword and yelling “I be a crazy boy!” all over the place. The day was obviously starting as it meant to go on.

Baby proceeded to cry all morning whilst I tried desperately to complete my to-do list. I would clean one room only to re-enter a while later and realise that eldest and middle had trashed it again. By 2 pm I was losing the will to live and my sanity. I finally got baby and middle over for a nap, handed eldest his Nintendo DS and, was able to get stuck in. I had all the decorations done at the weekend (to make things easier) but hubby kept going on about putting colour changing light bulbs in the hall. I had no idea what he was going on about until I switched on the lights and realised he had them set to red and my house now resembled the red light district in Amsterdam. Not only this but, the front door has windows all around it . Welcome to a brothel kiddies!

The hordes arrived at 6:30 pm. I got so overwhelmed with all the cooking, I forgot to put the cocktail sausages on, of which I’d bought 70 of! Considering this is the main thing kids want at a party, utter fail on my behalf. Crisis amended, everyone fed and watered and, the men away with the kids trick or treating, I rewarded myself with a few glasses of wine! This was the first time all evening I had been able to sit down and actually talk to anyone. A few hours later and everyone was away and the kids asleep. The house got wrecked of course. Why do us women feel the need to clean hysterically when people are coming round when we know we will just have to do it all over again when they leave? Baffling. The following day had to be better surely?

Well, upon checking my bank balance on a whim that morning, I was confronted with the fact that I was now £108 overdrawn. What?!! After some investigating, I discovered that it was Vodafone who had emptied my remaining funds. “This must be a mistake!” I kept repeating to eldest. “My bill is only £23 a month usually”. So I called them and, a mistake it was not. Middle had managed to rack up £83 in additional data charges during the period 23rd September to 1st October!!!! Considering I have 4gb of data included in my monthly allowance, this is some kind of epic achievement. Our broadband had gone off for three days during ‘the storm’ that week but, how he managed that extortionate amount is beyond me. The guy at Vodafone was very sympathetic as I had an utter nervous breakdown at the realisation it wasn’t a colossal mistake on their part. He advised that they couldn’t do anything as it had been paid by my bank but, he would give me an additional 5gb of data a month for free, until the end of my contract. My kind friend also advised that he would put a block on the data so I could never go over it (they should do this as standard surely?). ‘Shout out to middle who has cost me £108 in data charges watching YouTube’ I raged on Instagram. My dad then comments under it ‘I remember my eldest girl doing the exact same thing’. Oh dear. Why yes, I did do this. I once ran up a £120 phone bill at his house voting for Brian Dowling to win Big Brother. I mean, I don’t understand what his problem was. That was obviously a legitimate cause and not a cost acquired from watching f#cking baby shark and daddy finger. Why are these kid’s so like me?? I need to think carefully about what else I’ve done and be prepared for the karma to hit me square in the face. The karma, it just keeps on coming 🙁

** I have ended up spending all day in hospital with baby due to his breathing. Not even hand, foot and mouth related. Wheezing and very laboured breathing. After five hours, nebuliser’s and steroids, they finally got it under control. What a week (as always)**

Welcome to the new Amsterdam, right in the heart of Greenisland

This week I have mainly been…. succeeding at potty training middle (finally) and confronting a school bully!!

How long have I been at the whole potty training middle thing? A few months? Maybe so but, to me, it feels like a few years. With eldest he just got it. He then randomly transgressed at one stage but thankfully reverted back. Middle is a completely different child, however. I don’t know why you expect to get two the same but, you do.

I should have known it would never have been as easy with him. I managed to keep all eldest’s clothes and shoes for him as he was so careful and they were all pristine. Within a few weeks of wearing any hand me downs, middle has annihilated them to oblivion. Jeans, shoes, you name it. The latter is due to the fact that he is usually deploying his feet as brakes. This is because he much prefers to travel by Paw Patrol ride on than on foot (rolling eye emoji). He is also rather reckless in that, whilst eldest would have weighed up the pro’s and con’s before making a decision, middle will just do it and consider the consequences as an afterthought. Is it safe to jump off the sofa, who knows? Let’s just do it! Is it safe to scale a large fence? Who cares? Let’s just do it! Will I be able to stop myself when hurtling down a steep hill on a plastic ride on? Who gives a toss, survival of the fittest and all that. I hope you can see what I am dealing with here. It should have been obvious from the outset. I know we are all more laid back with the second one but, it’s not like I just abandoned him to raise himself. He would be dead by now if I had of.

Potty training with him started off quite successfully to be fair. But this was merely a ruse. Nothing is ever straightforward with middle. We went from great days to bad days. Day’s when I wanted to give up entirely. But, this week it just clicked. This week he has been in pants everywhere and asked to go no matter where we are. Pees and everything else. I am so incredibly proud of my little madman. Between this milestone and his speech- winning! The endless questions are rather exasperating, however. **bangs head off a brick wall**.

In other news, I just wanted to recount what happened to me on Thursday. I was somewhere that I would have reason to be on a daily basis. And every day for months, I have been confronted with the sight of an old school bully. Not just a ‘normal’ bully but, a bully that pretended to be everyone’s friend but was rather unpleasant daily. A bully that led a group of friends with a mixture of intimidation and fear. A person that turned fellow girls against their best friends quite often. I walked away from secondary school and, I walked away from her (gladly)! This was obviously quite traumatising for her. That no one cared about her and were happy to cut their losses (all of us) seems to have weighed quite heavily on her. This person could not let it go. When Facebook first became popular I had so many messages from her asking why I didn’t like her. Why the need for reassurance? I blocked her so well on Facebook that she literally does not exist to me, even to this day. She then messaged my bestie a few months ago asking why we don’t speak to her. Yesterday, she asked me the same thing, face to face. I was with my beautiful ca ca (nephew) and, he is so sensitive. So I knew I would have to mind my tongue. I’ve been waiting for this moment for months because I could almost sense she wanted to confront me. She swaggered towards me. Why don’t you like me? It’s been twenty years and, why don’t you like me? I looked her square in the face and asked why it even mattered to her twenty years later? Really? I have no interest in her life and I don’t see why she has an interest in mine. I’ve observed you for months, did I want to waste my breath on you? Not at any point! My boys have been told all about bullying and the many forms it takes. Bullying is a horrible thing and, the second it happens to any of mine, I will be knocking it right on the head. To that person, you know what I know. I will not stand for any kind of bullying in my life -mum shaming included. This blog is honest and not sugar coated (unlike what some like to portray).

Just wanted to end by saying that I’ve decided to start a monthly book club (check me right out). I think it might force us all to take some ‘me time’ and get away from the daily grind. I did some research (googled Richard and Judy’s book club because who doesn’t trust those legends? Judy did accept an award once with her tits on display so she is totally up there in my opinion). The link is at the bottom! If you want to join in on this but are struggling to get a copy, message me. The sisterhood will help out. Always x

This week I have mainly been…. sending baby to nursery and having no clue what to do with the free time!

Baby officially started nursery this week. He will attend on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s alongside middle. This should have been cause for a major celebration because, for the first time in years, I would be on my own on those two days. Eldest is in school until 2 pm and they are in the nursery until whenever I want. Surely bliss? You’d think that but, on Tuesday I was an emotional wreck. I paced my downstairs sobbing, missing my baby and beating myself up that he should be at home with me. I tried to go back to bed, after all my moaning in the last post about napping, only to toss and turn and be unable to switch my brain off. I ended up getting up and calling the nursery, frantic with worry. I was told he was doing great and had had a fantastic morning. Playing with toys, pulling other kid’s socks off and flashing that smile that he always does. This should have placated me. Well, it didn’t. Why didn’t he miss me? The others had cried for days when they first started. Had I not spent enough time with him playing and having fun because I had eldest off with me since he was born? Arrgh! It seems you cannot win when you are a mum. I started to contemplate why I felt so upset this time around. Was it because his pregnancy had been so different from the others? The fact that, I cried for most of it wondering how I would ever cope with three? The fact that when he then got here, I felt so guilty from the get-go for even worrying? I think this is a huge part of it. I only really got to spend time with him alone when eldest started school and, for weeks, he was only in until 12 pm each day. I tried to pack in eight months of neglected activities with him in the space of two weeks as I finally had the time to do so. He is also such an easy baby, rarely upset unless sick and unbelievably contented. I wasn’t ready to let him fly off just yet. Coupled with the fact that he is the youngest in the baby room, this served to make me feel even worse. It shouldn’t however as, I can already see, they all dote on him because he is the youngest. On Tuesday I picked him up just after lunch. I think I did ok to last four hours. They were the most drawn out four hours of my life, I can assure you. I’m thinking the empty nest stage does not bode well for me.

The following day, I pushed myself to make the most of it. I dropped eldest to school and got back into bed with my jumper and jeans still on! I set my alarm for two hours later (there’s too much to do around here) and, I slept for two hours. I got up and got stuck into my washing and cleaning. Once I had finished, I wondered what else there was to do. So I did what any crazy mum does with time on their hands…. I went and got my children from nursery so I could refill my hours. I got to wake baby from his nap in the baby room and he looked so content and comfy. I dressed him and off we went to the other room to collect middle. Upon seeing us, he proceeded to wet himself. “MUMMY yeah! Uh oh, me did pee in pants!” he proclaimed whilst cuddling me tightly. This is the first accident in weeks he has had there. “Owen!” I said “where do we do our pees?”. He looked at me, pointed his finger aggressively then, screaming like a banshee said: “NO!!! You do pees in potty!”. The exact exasperated way in which I yell it at him- thanks son! Also, the other day, whilst I was changing baby, he disappeared out the front to pee on my welcome mat. As you do! Welcome indeed, the whole house smells like a urinal anyways these days, come on in. Reason’s why not to pick your kids up early- it always seems like a good idea at the time.

He has also become quite savvy at sneaking my phone away and calling my poor mum. She is demented as she is always my last dialled call. “Hello nanna, how are you?” “What you do nanna?”. He then proceeds to ask her numerous questions all whilst she is trying to do something important. Welcome to new found parenthood nanna, lest you should forget!

This week I have mainly been….. going on a date night and basically sleeping through it!

I don’t know how it happened but, somehow I turned thirty-three on Wednesday. I feel like this is the perfect stage to begin lying and knocking a few years off myself. So, from now on, I am thirty years old (forever). I feel much better now I’ve made that decision.

When hubby asked me last week what I would like for my birthday, I asked for one thing and one thing only (no, not that- please!). What I asked for was a meal in peace. A meal that I didn’t have to prepare and cook myself, a meal that wasn’t interrupted numerous times by a crying baby or, middle and eldest battering each other, a meal that someone else was responsible for tidying up after and, most importantly, a meal that I got to eat whilst still hot! That was the only thing in the whole world I could think of that I didn’t just want but, needed. How times have changed! I also told him that I wanted no part in arranging childcare or anything and, he would have to do it all. Men can plan things without thinking about the logistics of who actually cares for your children whilst you do what they’ve planned.

He managed to rope his two sisters into looking after them (thank you E and S). We debated going hardcore and heading into Belfast. On the day in question, however, we had been up all night with two coughing, barfing kids. So we decided to head down the road instead for an Indian meal and some drinks after. Two hours before freedom and, I was having a breakdown. So many things to organise and do. Make them dinner, PJ’s left out, baby changed, bottles made in advance and, I somehow had to find the time to look presentable. I got halfway through my to-do list and was questioning if free time is even worth it. When someone is doing you a huge favour, you want to make life easier for them in any way that you can.  I started to get the dreaded ‘mum guilt’ also. What if one of them was sick again? How would they react to someone else putting them to bed? What if baby missed me?

We headed out at 7 pm for our meal after I had staged a huge hissy fit over having nothing to wear (this wasn’t even dramatic, I literally have nothing to wear). We got to our table and, I suddenly realised I had nothing to talk to him about bar our children. Nothing! All our conversations revolve around them and their day. It’s almost like we have lost ourselves in the daily stress fest. But, sometimes you need to be shown that so that you can work to amend it. Free time can highlight many things.  In the end hubby ate so much that he felt ill the rest of the night. He also started drifting off at the bar at 10 pm. I wasn’t for going home as I knew the kids were settled and asleep. I ordered a cocktail. Then I started to feel sleepy. Come 11 pm we were debating whether we should move tables as one had a sofa and we could maybe go a nap. “Should we just go home? I’m wrecked” hubby begged. “But it’s freedom!” I implored. “Freedom is all well and good when you are rested and up for it, I just want to go to bed” he replied. I thought for a second then, had to concur. I was royally knackered and no amount of Red Bull would ever fix it! Kids! Maybe next time we get a night out, we can just nap. Forget date night, nap night is the future!

When you have children their every need and want consumes you. You get so used to being ‘mummy’ that you can lose you. I do everything for my kids and, enjoy doing so. But, somehow I have to get ‘Grace’ back. I’m not quite sure how I go about that. But, I’m working on it. Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

This week I have mainly been…. back to losing my shit (again)

I haven’t had a week like this week in a long time! Maybe some kind of zen-like calmness had descended upon me previously and, now I have just reverted back to normal? No matter what, it’s safe to say that I am back to royally losing the plot.

Letters from eldest’s school seem to be materialising in his school bag at the same rate owls first brought letters to Harry Potter at Privet Drive. Every time I open it, there is an avalanche of them! I am running out of room on my calendar for all the events and activities I am supposed to remember. Don’t they realise I am still suffering from baby brain and teethingitis? My lack of memory became quite apparent this week when, I completely forgot that there was a parents curriculum talk on Tuesday evening at his school. Had I not have overheard two other parents talking about it on Tuesday’s afternoon pick up, none of us would have been there. I frantically text hubby- ‘Bugger, curriculum talk at school at 6:30 pm tonight. Must have missed it in the billion’s of letters. One of us will have to go as surely a shit parent alert will trigger if we don’t’. He came back saying no worries, we will sort it out. I text him that at 1 pm. Come 6:30 pm, I was still waiting on him returning home from work. He had forgotten all about it! Cue a mad dash to the school to hear all about what amazing things eldest will be learning about. Phonics, mainly. Wtf are phonics? They sound like a highly confusing method and one that is certain to drive me around the bend (more than usual).

Crisis avoided on the talk front, I diverted my attention to the physio appointment I had to attend at the hospital on Wednesday (mother, eldest and baby in tow). I had been referred the day I was discharged after having baby. Apparently, my stomach muscles have come apart. I hadn’t even realised this if I’m honest. What I had realised however was that, since middle, I have had a rather attractive hernia right at my belly button. Where there used to be a pretty, sparkly, belly bar after eldest, I now sport a bulging lump of my abdominal wall. Rawrrr! As much as I am making light of the above, it does make me highly self-conscious. Especially, as middle loves nothing more than pointing at my tummy and proclaiming “eugh!”. Charming. Upon attending my appointment, at Antrim Hospital, I met with the most amazing Physiotherapist. She explained every little detail before even examining me. She described how us superwomen’s bodies take such a battering during childbirth. How, like breaking an arm, things take time to heal. It made me think about how us women tend to beat ourselves up about how our bodies aren’t perfect after carrying and, giving birth to babies. Because put simply like that (using a broken arm as an example), it would take us years and years to fully recover! Celebrities have a lot to answer for this and, mainly the Kardashians. Don’t you ever find it strange how they all disappear for ages after having kid’s then, reemerge even slimmer and better than ever? When do they ever disappear otherwise? Oh, to have their surgeon! Turn’s out my stomach muscles are actually quite strong (I don’t know how) and, my main issue is the hernia. Now I find myself questioning, do I put myself through surgery (which eldest seems quite fearful of when I explain it) or, do I embrace the reminder kids have left me with? I  went through my teens with stretch marks galore and, a doctor told me, ‘it would only get way worse when I had kids’. I, fortunately, didn’t get many. So, my hernia is almost like my tiger stripes. It takes a lot to harbour a baby and, even more to birth one. There is a reason why we, as women, are the chosen sex to do this. We may not get equal pay ladies, but we can have babies, bear the scars and, still be gorgeous! Maybe it’s time we embrace the bodies childbearing left us with? All we have to do is look at them to see that the sacrifice of our bodies, was a small price to pay (when they aren’t being little shits, of course!). I think it is vitally important that our generation sticks with the girl power theme. The Spice Girl’s didn’t work that hard nor, flaunt all that flesh for nothing (sarcasm).

In other news, upon picking eldest up from school on Friday, I observed he had his trousers on fully back to front. He had PE that day so, had to dress himself afterwards. “Why are your trouser’s back to front?” I asked. “Are they?” he replied, “I did everything you said and put the label to the back mummy”. I rolled my eyes, out of his vision of course. When we got home and, I removed the trousers, it became clear that Tesco’s had decided to place the label at the front of the trousers. My bad son! Why Tesco’s, why?

Middle also insists on more bonkers outerwear every day that we pick him up. The other day he had to wear eldest’s coat (three sizes too big) and a helmet. He also had to bring his ride on bike (again). I cannot deal with the tantrums anymore, so he can wear whatever he likes and look as insane as he likes.

Baby is now capable of feeding himself and it is utter carnage! Food all over him, up the walls and all over the dog. I forgot about this messy stage arrgghh! See featured picture for the evidence.

This week I have mainly been….. a complete emotional mess as eldest start’s school!

I have been saying to anyone who will listen how much eldest was ready for school and how much I, as his mother, was ready to get rid of him for a few hours each day. I’m aware that sounds rather ruthless but, it’s been a LONG summer. I knew I would be emotional, he is my first born after all! I just had no idea how emotional I would actually be.

On Tuesday morning we met with his teacher for a chat. I couldn’t bribe anyone to mind eldest nor baby (middle at nursery) so, they all got dragged along.  The teacher asked him if he would like some pegs and boards to play with outside the room as we talked. I filled with immediate dread! He is attached to my side anytime we are together. “Yes, ok” he surprisingly responded. What?  We discussed his level of independence in terms of getting himself dressed, (when he can be arsed basically) any issues he has, (the feeling of certain clothing deeply distresses him) and, start times and finish times etc. It was at this point only that it hit me- the little baby boy I held in my arms only five years ago, was starting school in a few days time. I came home and immediately sobbed my heart out for an hour. I kept looking at him and thinking ‘I’m going to miss him so much’. He has been my little buddy since I took him out of private nursery, at Christmas, in order to give middle a go. If I thought Tuesday was bad, I had been wholly naive- as Thursday morning was to show me.

There was a minor drama about his school trousers, which I expected. But, on the whole, he was relatively excited to get dressed. When I eventually stood back and looked at my little boy, decked out in the togs that will define him, my eyes began to brim over. After the obligatory front door picture, we rather frantically set off as a family to deliver him to school. As he let go of my hand to walk into his classroom, I literally felt like my heart was breaking (I’ve started to cry again whilst typing this -fml). He turned back and gave me the biggest hug and kiss, knowing full well that it was harder for me than for him. “It’s ok mummy,” he said. “See you soon”. He really is so thoughtful and loving which, of course, made me want to cry even more. It was strange coming back home and it just being me, middle and baby. Middle was loving being able to play with eldest’s toys without them being taken off him immediately. This kept him quiet and not peeing everywhere- the only bonus! When I went to collect him at 12pm, a bundle of nerves, he had got on great! Since he has been able to talk, we have always spoken about the best part of our day and, the worst part. I got this from the Kardashians, not a parenting manual, ashamed to say. “My best part was all of it” he stated. “What was the worst part?” I enquired. “There was no worst part mummy, I had a good day”.

This is the beginning of a big journey for him. A journey where he may not like the rules set for him and, knowing him, will try and rebel against them. A journey that will teach him new and amazing things and, show him how intelligent I already know he is. A journey where he will make friends and, probably lose some along the way. I can only hope and pray that he never lets himself down, nor I for that matter. Because, ultimately, I am more nervous than him. I want it to be a great experience for him and one that helps shape him. I want it to be a happy time for him and, I want him to thrive. I also sincerely hope that he doesn’t send his poor teacher round the bend like he does to me all day.

To all the pessimistic, moaners who harp on every year about the endless start of school pictures. To you, I say this- do you remember the excitement, pride and nerves you felt at your child starting another chapter each year? Do you ever think that maybe it took one full hour to get that child into their uniform so, therefore, it’s more than a big deal? Surely all the above warrants a picture, never mind where it’s taken. If you can’t be bothered to even consider all those factors then best to avoid Facebook for a week. Thanks!

In other less passive aggressive news, middle is alternating from being the perfect, potty trained child to a rampant defecator on my floors. I am going to have to take shares out in Domestos at this rate. He is testing my patience ten fold.

Daddy had to get into the door pic! All ready for his very first day of P1

This week I have mainly been…… staycationing in Drogheda! What did we think of the D Hotel, Dublin Zoo, Tayto Park and Funtasia? Also, what I thought about being mum shamed…..

This year we booked not only a trip to Eurocamp in Nice but, a break to Butlins in Scotland. Each time it got closer, I got cold feet. I just couldn’t face the prospect of getting a toddler and a baby on a plane nor a boat for that matter. Coupled with hubby now running his own business and, being super busy, it just didn’t seem like we would ever make it away. But, after a stressful few weeks and, eldest starting school next week, we decided something had to be booked and fast!

We had previously visited Drogheda when eldest was a baby and stayed in the D Hotel. The reason being that they had a great deal on in terms of bed, breakfast and trips to local attractions. The Tayto park is just a twenty-minute drive away and Funtasia Waterpark was just around the corner. On hindsight, eldest was much too young for all these places at the time. But, memories were still made and, what crisp addict doesn’t like visiting anything named ‘Tayto’? We decided that Drogheda ticked all the boxes. A few hours drive so, not overly stressful travel wise. Lots of places to visit with the kids, therefore they would be royally knackered. Win-win! We went to our go to hotel and prayed it wasn’t going to be too expensive. Three nights bed and breakfast in a family room, tickets to Tayto park, Dublin Zoo and Funtastia – £560. Not only this but, the hotel was now running a kids club 6pm-9pm. I have never been so excited to read a sentence on a website! This is what we thought about the hotel itself and, also, what we got up to whilst there. 

The D Hotel- Drogheda 

We picked this hotel mainly because we had stayed before, but, also due to the activities included in the stay. I have never stayed in a family room before, so I was slightly excited. Would there be enough room for all of us? Would we survive without killing each other due to the restricted living quarters?

Upon arriving, we were told that children would receive a kid’s pack and also ice cream. This didn’t happen. This may have been due to us having to grab our Dublin Zoo tickets and get there right away. But, it still didn’t happen even upon checking in. We had to ask later on that evening and were given the packs but, no ice cream. Our room was amazing, very spacious with a king size bed and two single beds. Also, a huge tv and rather swanky twirly grey chair that the boys loved! Although perfect space wise, the room itself was so unbearably hot. I am not even exaggerating. You could open a window sure, but the window was positioned right behind the single bed and, was six floors up. It also opened quite fully which made me a nervous wreck what with reckless, mad middle. A fan was provided and we had this on the whole time though, middle found it hilarious to turn it off continually whilst we all sweated buckets.

The hotel itself is totally geared towards children. This is a lovely touch. Because of this, you will see lots of other families around and your children will more than likely meet some friends. They have the kid’s club (which operates during the summer holidays) and they also show a different kid’s movie each night on their middle floor. I was slightly disappointed to discover that they no longer have their kid’s game room. This is advertised as part of their deal and proudly displayed in the lift. They need to change this as the boys were really looking forward to seeing round it. Breakfast was beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a hotel and eaten so much for breakfast! Continental options and, a full Irish breakfast option. Eldest loved getting hammered into the coco pops each morning and middle just loved eating everything in sight. Baby enjoyed his toast and also some yoghurt. Mum and dad had a massive fry everyday which was epic. We also ate in the restaurant one evening and, I was highly impressed. Hubby is very fussy and, even he said his was delicious. Service was slightly slow and, if we had been dining with all the kid’s, it would have been difficult to keep them entertained and quiet. But, overall we had a good experience. I do just think the hotel should specify that, for most of the attractions included, children under three usually get in free anyway. We were leaving places with tickets as middle didn’t have to have one anyway. So if you book, take into account the ages you are booking for as, the family package could end up costing you more. This is what we got up to:

 

Dublin Zoo- Pheonix Park (one hour drive from Drogheda) 

We arrived on Friday morning, grabbed our tickets from the hotel and immediately drove to Dublin Zoo. This was because the Pope was visiting at the weekend and the zoo was going to be closed for the duration. I have never been to Dublin Zoo before. I don’t know how I have reached this age and never been. Middle loved it. Everything was “animal, wow!”. It was easy to walk around- no huge hills, unlike Belfast Zoo. The animals were varied and their enclosures vast. They also looked very healthy. The tiger was the biggest hit. Middle royally lost his s#it at the mere sight of it! Some of the bigger animals, such as the giraffes etc were quite difficult to see through the glass. That would be my only complaint. The entrance fee is 18.00 euros per adult and 13.20 euros for over three’s. Kid’s under three get in free, which is good. Parking is a right nightmare. I would recommend parking just outside the Garda headquarters. We had been told this by a friend but, hubby being hubby, refused to listen as he assumed that was a fast track to getting clamped. But there were lots of spaces outside it and the zoo is a two-minute walk away. **Hubby made us park miles away when middle was surpassing his naptime- fab!**

Tayto Park- Ashbourne County Meath (20 minute drive from Drogheda)

We visited here the following day and left straight after breakfast. The last time we were here, with eldest, there were a few rides, some animals and restaurants. Upon arriving, however, we were greeted by the sight of the biggest wooden roller coaster you have ever seen! Eldest was utterly mindblown and repeatedly screamed: “I cannot wait to go on that!”. The hotel had given us our entrance tickets before leaving. There was a separate queue for those that had tickets already or, had pre-booked. It’s definitely essential to do it this way as the other queue was colossal. Kid’s, and, queues to get in somewhere does not a good combination make. We were informed at the ticket desk that we could purchase wristbands for 17.50 euros. This would give us unlimited access to all the rides. We bought three, one each for us and one for eldest. We figured middle wouldn’t be able to go on as many things so we would buy some tokens for him just. This proved to be a big mistake. We began to realise this at the very first section of rides. Eldest was too small to go on any of them, even with an adult and, he definitely could not go on the rollercoaster. They should really state the height restrictions for everything before you get to the ticket desk. There was a section for younger kids in the park with a selection of rides. We weren’t overly impressed, however. Most had a twenty minute queue time at the least, only for you to go round once and be instructed to get off. Bearing in mind we had a toddler with us, I found it stressful trying to stop him running out of the queue when he got bored and restless. Kid’s don’t get the concept of having to wait either. We really should have researched the quietest time to visit- so entirely our fault. Other than the rides, the boy’s loved the big play park, the water play areas and the animals (yes, there are tigers, elephants and meerkats to name a few). Entrance price for Tayto Park is 17.50 euros at peak time and the wristbands are also 17.50 euros (adults and children). Children under three do get in for free but, you will need to purchase a wristband or tokens for them to get on the rides. My advice is if your child is under 1.2 metres tall, (this is the minimum height for the biggest and best rides) just buy tokens when inside the park. If all your children are under 1.2 metres tall, buy one adult wristband and tokens for children. You will need to accompany them on all the rides anyway. Also, note that at busy times, waits for the biggest rides and, even the kid’s car ride, will exceed an hour, if not more. Maybe you can bring wine to make it more bearable?

Funtasia- Drogheda 

This is a waterpark in Drogheda and a five-minute drive away from the D hotel. I didn’t get any pictures of this part. You can’t in swimming places anyways but, I doubt you want to see hubby in his swimming trunks! We decided to do this on the last day as we urgently needed a rest day in between activities as the kids, and us, were beyond shattered from all the walking we’d done. I decided to sit this out with baby. I knew from going before with eldest that, it is not a place for babies. There are lots of slides, even more water guns and also, a toddler specific area. The boy’s loved Funtasia unsurprisingly. They would have loved it even more if only I was in too and they could have driven me mental shooting me with water. It was slightly awkward for hubby trying to go down the slides with both. This three kids thing is proving to be a right hassle when we go to places like this. Hopefully it gets better once baby is up abit. Tickets for Funtasia are 12 euros per person. They do offer family packages however. Kids under two also get in free.

All in all, it wasn’t Spain. It was still highly stressful but, we had a lovely time and memories were made. Just to see middle’s excitement at having his own hotel bed, how elated he was to see all the animals and, hearing eldest say “this was the bestest holiday ever” made it all worthwhile. The only downside of my whole time away was a comment I read after posting this to my page:

I was told by a particular reader that ‘No one should drink alcohol while looking after children. In my opinion, it is irresponsible’. I appreciate everyone’s opinion and, we are all entitled to have one. But, what a mum shaming thing to say to someone? This is the exact reason I started this blog. Why can’t I have a glass of wine with my dinner whilst on holiday? Why can’t I unwind for thirty minutes after spending my whole day at an amusement park with my children, queueing for kid’s rides and looking like a right knob on a mini ferris wheel? Had I have asked hubby to take my picture whilst I sat with a full bottle of vodka and a straw, I would have accepted that comment entirely. When are we ever going to start building each other up instead of tearing one another down? This is why mothers feel that they are never good enough. Whether that is having a glass of wine with dinner or, not breastfeeding. Arrgghh! Deep breaths and move on. My children’s happiness and healthiness will always speak for me. I have also co-slept with all my three children until they were eight months old. So, everyone can lose her sh#t about that too!

Leading Baby to Taste Sensations with Baby Led Spreads.

You might not know this but, in July, I became a MyBump2Baby favourite blogger, whoop! Because of this, every month they send me an email advising of new products that are out there. BabyLed Spreads was mentioned in their last email. I’ve never contacted a company before but, in this case, I felt I had to. I was intrigued. There’s nothing worse than forcing full jars into babies when they obviously don’t like it. There is also nothing worse than having to slog over doing that. With baby I have been doing jars, homemade blended things and, bit’s of food I know he won’t choke on. He is my third so, I am mega relaxed about trying a bit of everything with him and figuring out what works best for us both. The main reason being, I in no way want him to be as fussy as eldest! I had the same attitude when weaning middle and he will eat everything under the sun, notably my dinner after he has eaten his.

The first thing that struck me, when my neighbour brought these over, was how beautifully packaged they were. Steve Job’s has made us all think aesthetically. It was so exciting even opening the package and observing all the lovely flavoured jars inside. So, the question is, was baby led?

I know he loves pasta, he is his mum’s son after all! So, I decided to use the sweet potato and red lentil jar with some pasta. I cooked it all up on the hob, added some water and blended. He went nuts for it!! I can’t even lie here and pretend I didn’t eat some when feeding him. It was so lovely! I actually wonder will they make huge jars for adults. Please?

There are so many beautiful flavours contained within this pack:

Green pea, rocket and dill and, spicy chickpea and pumpkin to name a few. Baby especially loved the spicy chickpea one on some Crackerbread. This is a much cheaper alternative to buying those branded flavoured snacks. These jars are also 100% natural and, I double checked the ingredients to ascertain this which, I’ve learnt, you always have to do. It’s always a plus when you are saving some money doing the family shop. Middle was also able to eat these on some toast, which I found to be a huge bonus. He also kept stealing the Crackerbread of baby, so it must have been nice. Eldest wouldn’t even venture to try any. But, one can hope that in the future he will pluck up the courage. He did say he hated fillet steak until he tried it, then, was demanding steak every night for dinner! Yeah, nice try son.

BabyLed spreads retail at £6.50 per 9x jar packs. You can also buy bigger packs and, dairy and non dairy ones also. Check out their website here: https://www.babyledspreads.co.uk/ and be prepared to introduce your little one to some new tastes and, ones that will stand them in good stead going forward. Ain’t nobody got time for fussy eaters- trust me!