Home Schooling Day 1

Hi all,

So last Thursday my kids’ schools all shut down (as did all schools in the Republic of Ireland) to avoid spread of the Corona Virus.

I was delighted. Firstly, the government made the right call, quickly. Secondly, I was going to have time at home to work on projects that I’ve wanted to do with the kids for years now, like science experiments and art projects.

So I set up a room to be the “home school room” – which also took most of the morning, so it was a late start to the school day! Easing into things!!!

But then I got the 6yr old to do her sounds, and then colour her new letter in. She then did more colouring in pictures, and then made the St Patricks Day chains with her brother. Then they did some free play colouring on the whiteboard. And now are in playing lego.

The nearly 10yr old did his reading, a bit of dictionary work, some maths, the St. Patricks Day chains, planned the menu for an Instant Restaurant later in the week, drew some little comic strips and is now is playing lego.

The secondary school child, the 13yr old, did her Geography homework, her French work and an hour of Maths revision. She made their lunch, and a hot chocolate for herself while they worked out a menu plan for an Instant Restaurant. She’s now gone for a walk with her Dad and the dog in the woods.

At 3.30pm my 13yr old said it felt like 6.30 and that the day should be over. I was explaining to her that that is the reason that I want to put a bit of structure and planning into our days, because otherwise the time will just gel together into one big mess and nothing will really get done and it will get so boring just watching mindless tv or something.

I had a lovely day, and I’m really happy that we are on the same page about self-isolating and just staying home to do our part to stop the spread of the virus. It’s giving us lovely family time together too.

Blended Family

When I met my now husband, all those years ago, he had already been married and he had five kids.

This was not a situation I wanted to get involved in and I didn’t plan to. I planned to travel and enjoy my life, and was nowhere near settling down. And a man with kids would change all of of that, complicate it all.

But as it turned out, I did get involved, and this is my life now, a step-parent, and my children part of a blended family.

It is crazy and busy, and unpredictable and there have been hard parts, some harder than others – but I wouldn’t change it. We have a wonderful huge family, and it is growing with four grandkids already – and it is never boring.

The reason I am sharing this now is that last week I had maintenance men in our house and they were surprised that I had four kids, and I told them my husband has nine – which shocks everyone! One of the men had twins and I said I would have loved twins in theory but reality would have been crazy, but that after I had my second child people assumed I was done having children and my reply was always “no, definitely one more, and a surprise!” but seeing as we didn’t get a surprise pregnancy on our fourth (we had to plan her!) that the surprise was going to be twins – seeing as I had always joked that his first wife had five kids, I’d have five kids too.

And the response from the guy was “oh yeh and mine will be bigger, better and stronger too”.

I was like “No, the first five are amazing”

But it caught me off guards that that was this guys automatic reaction.

There is no thoughts of competition at all about the kids, I would be so proud if my children turned out like the older kids. They are great adults, such kind people and I absolutely love them and want the very best for them. And I do not want “better” for my kids.

However there are things I do and probably will do differently, as a parent.

As a step-parent, the first thing you have to realise is that while you’re involved in these kids lives, when the big stuff happens you have to step out and let the parents work it out between them with the kids.

So I am a different mother to my children than their mother was to them. I parent differently in different ways, based on my thoughts and feelings, as simple as I don’t like allowing fizzy drinks in our house except on special occasions, whereas when my step-children were small both their parents were happy with fizzy drinks so we had fizzy drinks here in our house for them.

It is in no way to say that my parenting is going to be better than theirs was and is. As you can say, the proof is in the pudding and there is the proof in the five wonderful young adults, and I feel if we can do as well to raise four more wonderful adults, we will be delighted.

We are a blended family. We are a big busy family. We are all family. We are so lucky.

New Baby/Parenting Advice – I give to anyone who will listen!

  1. Ignore most of the advice you get given. Listen to what people tell you and thank them, and then decide what you liked about the advice, and what suits your parenting style and ignore the rest. Don’t let it get you into a tizzy if they are giving advice that doesn’t suit what you are doing – we all parent differently.
  2. Go with your gut. Trust your instincts. Relatively straight forward, but they say a parent knows best – if you think there is something wrong, follow up on.
  3. You are the perfect mother to your child. You are the only mother they know, so what you are doing is right for them.
  4. A new addition to the family – first or fourth – throws your relationship around a bit. It needs to adjust and resettle with the newly updated roles.
  5. Don’t believe other people’s highlights reels and compare yourself. What people tend to post on social media is the best bits and don’t mention the bad and crazy bits. Don’t look at your every day chaos and think that other people have it all together based on their social media posts!
  6. Don’t take offence easily. People generally tend to mean well – and own using their own knowledge/experience as a base. For example if someone says “your bump is huge” they are seeing it from their experience and maybe everyone in their family have tiny bumps when pregnant. Same for big babies, small babies, loads of hair etc. It is all relative – don’t let it bother you!
  7. Everyone has an opinion. From the minute you get pregnant, everyone feels they can offer you unsolicited advice. Instead of letting it annoy you, try and see that they are interested and caring about a new life being brought into the world, and often it brings back memories of their own special times with their children.
  8. Enjoy it. It passes so quickly. Your baby or child will never be as small as they are today.
  9. It is hard. And the hard parts feel forever when you’re in it. But they pass too.
  10. No one has it all sussed out completely or perfectly.
  11. Make mummy friends. Make the effort to get out to the breastfeeding groups, the parent and toddler groups, etc. And make an effort to get to know other mums.
  12. Join the online groups for your birth month to have a network of other mums that have a baby at the same stages as yours, one of them will be going through the same as you!
  13. Be open about how you are feeling. You never know who else will open up to you if you do. We tend to bottle up our feelings, and that affects our mental health. If you can open up when you’re starting to feel down, you can often get ahead of a downward spiral. Support is so important.
  14. Be kind. You don’t know anyone else’s story and what they might be going through. You being kind might actually change someone’s day.
  15. Don’t judge. Everyone is doing their best. In their own way.
  16. Babies are amazing. Little miracles that grow inside us. They are so small and precious. Treasure your time with them. Cuddle them. Hold them. Love them.

An Amazing Woman.

So I’ve been having a pretty crappy stressy time of it lately. The kids are driving me up the wall and I’ve been wound up and cross about everything. My husband isn’t around at the moment and there’s a number of other reasons for me to be stressed on top of it all, and it is all getting on top of me and I’m not getting any sort of a break from the kids. So like I said, they are literally driving me crazy.

Yesterday we were out in the shopping centre in the next town over and we had been trying to get a lot done in a short amount of time, the kids weren’t listening, we were trying to run from one place to another to another, the baby was in the buggy screaming her head off – and I was stressed to high heaven.

And as we walked out of one shopping centre I saw a woman walking towards me that I recognised and it took me a minute to realise who she was. She worked as EPU nurse, the Early Pregnancy Unit nurse.

I had first met her in 2009 when I was having what they thought was my second miscarraige but what turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. So over ten years ago. She had been so knowledgable at the time, she was honest and told me her honest opinion of the situation even though it wasn’t exactly what the doctors said. When we first thought it was a second miscarriage she gave me advice and explained the way the system works here regards help after multiple miscarriages (needs to be three in a row before they investigate) and gave me the names of books to read to help. Then when the signs were there for the ectopic, and the doctors discharged me without doing anything, she rang me with results and told me to take care and basically that she thought it still was an ectopic. She was right.

Because of the ectopic, in every following pregnancy I had to go to the EPU for a scan at 5 or 6 weeks to make sure that it was in the right place. So this woman saw me a further four pregnancies, and the kindness and compassion she showed me was unbelievable and unforgetable.

My fourth pregnancy was my second successful one, but I had been sick throughout my first so even though she had seen me a number of times for peace of mind in the first few weeks, at 17wks my sickness disappeared and I panicked. I rang the EPU and explained, and she brought me in for a scan even though it is very normal for sickness to stop after 12wks, and thankfully he was still there safely but without that scan I would never have believed it.

She then had to tell me that my next pregnancy wasn’t progressing and dealt with me over a few weeks of me trying to allow it pass itself like my first, then take the medical option – which ended up with the surgical option. But she just was so amazing throughout, her kindness and straight forward honest information helped so much. I then saw her a number of times over the next two pregnancies, she came and found me on the ward after I had no.3 as she’d seen my name on the board. When I thought I was losing no.4 she got me straight in for a scan and was as happy as I was to see the little heartbeat there on the screen – it was 2pm that day when she saw me even though my appointment was for about 2hrs before and she apologised for keeping me waiting – but I knew that if things were delayed, it was not good news for whoever she was with. After we saw the little heartbeat, she said she had been so worried she was going to have to give me bad news again, and that I was the first person that day she had given good news to. That was her day, full of heartbreak.

This woman made a number of horrible, sad and heartbreaking situations a little bit better for me. She honestly will stay in my heart forever.

Yesterday when I saw her, and remembered all the heartbreak I had gone through. And how lucky I am to have my children. How so many women go through pregnancy loss time after time, and don’t end up with any successful pregnancies. How lucky I am to have my four healthy children. I had spent over three years petrified that my daughter was going to be an only child like I was, and couldn’t believe that my second child would make it here safely. And not only did I get a second child safely, I got a third and a fourth. I am so so lucky, and of course I’m allowed be tired and stressed and cross, but just seeing her and remembering all those years of heartbreak and fear, it just shook me up a little bit and reminded me how grateful I am.

Day 15 of My Month of Gratitude

I’m late, it’s no longer the morning! I’m really busy today, and that gives today’s thing to be grateful for!

  1. My Husband
  2. My Children
  3. My Step-Children
  4. My Step-Grandchildren
  5. My Family
  6. My Friends
  7. My Home
  8. Our Utilities
  9. Our Health
  10. Education
  11. Coffee
  12. Technology
  13. Being Alive
  14. Baby Smiles and Laughs
  15. Special Occasions
  16. .
  17. .

Yesterday was one of step-daughters 21st birthday. She had her party last weekend and I made the cake – it looked great! And then yesterday her mum planned something special for her, for her actual birthday. So today I am making her chosen birthday dinner, and she gets her present and her special dessert.

Each of the kids have a particular dessert that they get for their birthday – the eldest is a red-velvet cake, the next has always been ice-cream because he doesn’t eat cake but has recently decided he likes roulade (so guess what I’m learning to make for his birthday next month!), the next is chocolate biscuit cake with white chocolate decorations, the next is cookies, the next is brownies, the next likes to be surprised but likes to have a fun and rich flavoured cake (like a ferrero rocher cake or salted caramel!) and so on….

As it is her 21st birthday, we have a tradition for 18ths and 21st that they get money – at 18yrs they get a bit more money, but just handed to them. The 21st present is money, a bit less than at 18yrs old but it is given in a fun way. We’re on our fourth 21st birthday, so have spent a good bit of time coming up with ideas and always thinking ahead to the next one (I’ve had todays way of gifting the money chosen for the past 3 years following a comment she made 3yrs ago!)

A lot of my friends think that I am mad spending so much time and thought on making these occasions special, particularly as the last two years I was pregnant and then had a newborn and we fell behind in the birthdays. But yet I wanted to catch up on them, as opposed to just starting over fresh – or doing one big meal. However it is important to me, and I love doing it. I think that this is what memories are made of, they know that I will always do my best to make their special days special. I did catch up, I think I did one big meal and four different cakes! And then got back into doing the rest of them close enough to being on time for the rest of the year! And this year I’m being more on the ball, and getting the birthday meals organised quicker!

I have decided to simplify things for myself and for my own kids I have just been doing a cake and tea party where everyone comes for literally cake and tea to blow out the candles, and then for the older kids I am doing the birthday meal for just the birthday person (and their partner and kid/s if applicable). It means I am only doing the big meal for the 17 of us twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas, possibly also Fathers Day. Their fathers birthday we do a big take-away here, nice and easy, no cooking!!

But I am so grateful for all these little opportunities to spoil and remind our children how special they are, and for us to get together and make memories with all these special occasions.


Day 14 of My Month of Gratitude

This one I’m not sure if its a cheat, lol, seeing as I’ve already counted my children but there is something special about this one that can cheer up your day.

  1. My Husband
  2. My Children
  3. My Step-Children
  4. My Step-Grandchildren
  5. My Family
  6. My Friends
  7. My Home
  8. Our Utilities
  9. Our Health
  10. Education
  11. Coffee
  12. Technology
  13. Being Alive
  14. Baby Smiles and Laughs

So my little daughter is one, and has the biggest smiley happy face (when she’s smiling and happy, instead of screaming lol!) and it is so wonderful to get the chance to enjoy.

She is supposed to be napping. This is my one little time slot of peace and quiet, when the kids are at school and she takes a nap. But she woke up after a very short nap, just as I sat down with my coffee and laptop. Typical. She was crying as I walked up the stairs, and I was annoyed going up to her too because she was supposed to be asleep for another hour. But I walked in the door and her face broke into this huge smile and she had the happiest loveliest look on her face seeing me. And it made me smile too.

I know how lucky I am to have each of my children, and because I have bigger gaps between each of them than most of my friends (almost 4yrs between each) it means that I have more energy as such to enjoy the little things with each of them. And this baby is my last, and I really want to enjoy every last bit of it. Making her laugh and smile is very easy and so much fun, and it makes me laugh and smile too seeing her reaction.

Yesterday we were in a waiting room of people, and she was smiling and waving at everybody expecting a response from them. And people smiled and waved back. So here you had a group of people sitting there bored waiting for their turn, and all of a sudden they are smiling and interacting with a strangers baby. That is what a babies smile does. It can bring so much joy, even to strangers!

There’s a reason that there are all the different laughing babies videos on Youtube, because seeing a baby laugh and chuckle will make you smile and chuckle along too. I am lucky enough to have my own little laughing baby here and I am so thankful and grateful for having this time with my little woman.

Little Quirks

We all have funny little quirks about us, which we may like or not like.

What I am finding lovely is seeing some of these in my kids, because I passed them straight to them. Physical ones.

My thumbs bend back a bit, unlike my mums thumb which is beautiful and straight and looks so elegant compared to mine. I never really liked my thumbs. But now when I’m feeding the baby, and she is holding my thumb with her little hand wrapped around with the very same little thumb as mine, just in miniature version, I’m in love with my thumb – because its my babys thumb too. And all my children have it I think (will have to double check the older two, but definitely the younger two do!)

And the nail on my second toe also is different to all my other nails. If it gets too long, it curls back in towards my toe, instead of growing straight out like the rest of them. All my kids have the same, on their second toe, the nail bends in to the toe if it gets too long.

I just love it. I know there is similiarities in looks and all other aspects too, but these little quirks are things other people wouldn’t know about or notice, and I just think it is so special.