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Friday, 26 September 2014

Write Away


















You may possibly remember that my tiddler started school a few weeks ago, (and we're both coping very well thank you, since you ask!) so when Cambridge University Press offered to send me a few of their 'Penpals at Home' books for handwriting practice, I eagerly accepted.

Priced at £4.99, these colourful, bright books are a long way from the handwriting copy books of old.

They are aimed at 3-5 year olds, and give the child plenty of practice to develop their motor skills, before eventually moving on to letter formation.

On each page, there are also ideas for extra activities, notes for grown ups, and a free accompanying app to engage them further.

Best of all, Luke loves them. Homeworks haven't fornally started in Primary 1 yet, but every day he bounces up to the table, and his brothers look aghast as he actually asks me for homework to do! It would be a sin not to harness such enthusiasm.

So he's diligently working his way through the 'Getting Ready for Handwriting' book at the moment, and will move on to 'Forming Letters' after.

Each page has a theme-underwater, knights and princesses, jungle etc and there's  lots of lines and shapes to trace within each scene.

Would you look at that wee tongue sticking out!
 To be honest, I wish I'd discovered them a year earlier because I suspect he would have been ready for them.

I should mention that the books are actually laminated and therefore hard wearing, and they can also be wiped clean and reused.

Now, this sounds great in theory, especially if you have children coming behind, but I've found it to be a bit of a pain myself for a couple of reasons.

 First of all, the child must use a marker - pencils and biros don't work - and markers just tend to be chunkier and less precise to use.

Secondly, this leads to a lot of pen on their hands because the marker tends to smear, which  I realise isn't helped by the fact that Luke is a lefty.





But honestly? Apart from this minor issue, the books are a great resource and go hand in hand ('scuse the pun) with letter formation and handwriting development  in the school. What's not to love?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

Sooooo, I didn't win this year at the MADS, in either of my categories, but I was just glad to have been a finalist at all... blah blah blah. Eh no, not really.


 The truth is that I really didn't expect to win again after lucking out the last two years, but that didn't mean I wasn't just a bit gutted when I actually went and lost. Which shows that I'm more competitive that I like to think when it comes to this l'il old blog!



A bunch of losers-Katie, Me and Suzanne!
 But my disappointment was short lived because the wine was flowing, the music was starting and anyway I was in good company- my table was filled with  losers!

Including the utterly smashing Katie who writes Hurrah for Gin, Kara from ChelseaMamma, and Jennifer of Jenniferslittleworld.


And gatecrashing us bunch of losers were the epic Suzanne from Three Children and It  and Kirsty from Eehbahmum, so the craic was ninety.



Dr Ranj strutting his stuff with Sarah and Kirsty!


Then Dr Ranj of Cbeebies fame began to strut his stuff to Dancing Queen which meant an excellent photo op for me.

(He's pocket sized by the way, and really quite cute in his bright blue suit that looked like it had been sewn by elves).








 And then it was all over for another year as me and my goody bag made our way back to my sister's house, where she was still up feeding her new beautiful son Cathal (pronounced Ca-hill).

The wee Man
The irony of it hit me then-me out partying and my baby sister in with the baa-by! How I laughed (perhaps in retrospect, a little too uproariously) at how times had changed!  Then I told her all about my night and she didn't even mind when I fell asleep mid story.


 The thing is, I hadn't  even planned on going to the MADS this year -but then baby Cathal came early, and the very next day the Mammy and myself booked our flights and off to London we went.

 And honestly? Over the weekend as I held the wee man, and spent quality time with my  sister and my Mum, I realised that the Awards (or lack of them), didn't actually matter one little bit.

 I'd already won just by being there in the midst of that brand new wee family, secure in the knowledge that Himself was taking care of our (much larger) family back home. (And yet he was still able to remain blissfully unaware of the garguantuan pile of laundry that covered the entire utility room floor... that's a gift.)

 Later Lovelies....and BTW even though I didn't win, thank you so much for taking the time to vote for me all those months back-it means an awful lot xxx


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I'm Going to the MAD Awards!

 I've read a LOT of children's books in my time...some excellent-  they're the ones I'll innocently suggest and the kids generally keep coming back to; others ranging from mediocre to pretty crap- when you get that sinking feeling as they're pulled from the shelf, and you read them on autopilot, sneakily skipping a few lines (or pages)  as you go....or maybe that's just me?

Anyway, these days, I'm also trying my hand at writing children's books- did I mention that? Inspired by the fabulous Nicky Harlow who taught a children's fiction writing workshop I attended at the John Hewitt International Summer School, I'm giving it a whirl and believe me,  it's SO much harder than it looks!

With that in mind, and with my trip to the  MAD Blog Awards in London this Friday, I've ripped off  been inspired by a well known children's book in my own little ode to the MADs. Hope you enjoy it!
Oh, and you can check out all the fabulous blogging finalists right here and follow all the cheeky shenanigans live on Twitter #madblogawards
Me at the MAD Blog Awards 2012, complete with the giant red stag in the hotel lobby....No, I'm not sure why either!




I'm going to the MAD Awards, 

I'm going to the MAD Awards, 
I'm going to have a hangover,
What a lot of champers!
 I'm not scared.

Oh-oh! A dress! 
A long, tight dress!
I can't slim into it, 
I can't bust out of it. 
Oh no! 
 I've got to get the spanx on. 

Squishy, squashy!
Squishy, squashy!
Squishy squashy!

I'm going to the MAD Awards, 
I'm going to have a hangover,  
What a lot of champers! 
I'm not scared. 

Oh -oh! Stilettos! 
Sexy, toe crunching stilettos.
I can't wear flip flops,
I can't wear Uggs, 
Oh no! 
I'll have to hobble through it!

Stumble, trip! 
Stumble, trip! 
Stumble, trip!

I'm going to the MAD Awards, 
I'm going to have a hangover,  
What a lot of champers! 
I'm not scared. 

Oh- oh! White skin! 
Freckly Blue-white skin. 
It always goes on streaky,
And smells like old digestives,
Oh no!
I'd better slap the tan on!

Squelch, squerch!
Squelch, squerch! 
Squelch, squerch!

I'm going to the MAD Awards, 
I'm going to have a hangover, 
What a lot of champers! 
I'm not scared.....


Wish me luck, peeps!!



Friday, 12 September 2014

A Bit of a Donkey

I put this little gem on the blog almost two years ago, and stumbled upon it again just the other day. And I'm glad I did because it still gives me a big old laugh every time I watch it so here it is again....just cos it's Friday ...don't say I'm not good to you!

Donkey Derby

Tell me this, have you ever heard of donkey derbys? Being a city girl, I certainly hadn't...until I met Loverboy, and happened to one day enquire what all the trophies and plaques on his mother's mantelpiece were for. Had he a secret talent that he hadn't yet shared with me?

 Nope, turns out his family used to own a donkey by the name of Pepe, who apparently was a bit of a Red Rum in the Irish Donkey Derbys circles. These derbys took place on Sundays in fields all over Ireland during the 1980s and 90s, and I'm told were a great family day out.

I'm pretty disappointed that I never made it to a single one, especially when I watched this classic recorded in Castletown in 1994... I thought I'd die laughing...hope you do too. (Laugh, not die obvs.)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Mighty Girl


Yesterday was a gorgeous evening. I must say that I love the contrary way Ireland surprises us sometimes with the weather.

You get a few weeks when it seems certain that Autumn is well and truly here, and depressingly it's time to pack away the shorts and do a quick boys' anorak try on, when out of the blue we get summer's last Hurrah.
 It's kinda like finding a rogue twenty quid in an handbag you're about to chuck in the bin.

Anyway, the fields surrounding our house were getting their last cut, (thank God, no more slurry), and the kids were out watching the tractor mold the grass into straight lines for baling. 
Only this time it emerged that it wasn't a crusty old farmer driving the tractor with the spiky thing behind it, (the name escapes me!), but a lovely young girl.

 
Now obvs, this was a Girl Power photo opp that I simply couldn't miss, and so I was away across the garden,  under the wire and into the field like a whippet...or at least as fast as my wedge heels would allow. (Very nice neutral ones with a buckle, since you ask -surprisingly comfortable too.)

I admit, she DID seem a little surprised to see me as I teetered towards her, iPhone in hand desperately trying to flag her down,  but she covered it well...AND I got the pics. 
So peeps, say hello to Laura- a mighty girl farmer in a (still mostly) man's world, who also just happens to be DDG*. You go girl!

*DDG- Drop Dead Gorgeous

Friday, 5 September 2014

Friday Quicktakes



1. I'm absolutely loving 'In the Club' on Tuesday nights. I know its corny and unrealistic - the sheets stay discreetly over the mammy's knees while giving birth, and the babies all come out perfectly clean -but all the twists and turns in the tangled relationships have me hooked.

Loverboy's into it too - he won't admit it, but I've totally clocked him watching while pretending to read the BBC news website. Actually, now I think about it, he's had a wee thing for Hermione Norris since her Cold Feet days.....


2.  I must admit - the last few weeks in August were loooong-  boredom had set in, the bickering had escalated, and to top it off the weather turned a bit crap - I was SO ready for the schools to go back.

 What I wasn't so sure about was the wee man starting P1 - it's a whole new phase for both of us, and I'm ready..mostly.....far more importantly though- HE is. Spread your wings and fly, baby.





3.  We're into another new stage with our girly too. No deets, except that there's a boy on the scene and a whole lot of  hand holding going on. (No, nothing else....Loverboy has a shotgun).

But now, suddenly, there're requests for a social life to deal with, and boundaries being pushed and even more messaging on her phone.We're learning as we go along to walk that very fine line of  freedom with restrictions, trust with strings attached.

And now I'm remembering long ago discos in St Gerard's and an 11 o'clock curfew with Daddy waiting patiently outside in the car....Oh, the embarrassment of it all.

Now tonight HER Daddy will be waiting outside, and it's all come full circle.

4. Boogie in the booster -  this ones for you, big girl. Uncle Robbie says all I want to...only in a much cooler way.
My lovely, listen carefully, keep it in mind, and  you'll be grand.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Almost Time.

 He starts big school on Friday and he's all set. Cars school bag, Gruffalo flask, Mickey Mouse pencil case, all lovingly chosen. Last night I cut his hair. He's counting the days down, excited and ready, and I am too...mostly.

It's a new stage for both of us. But change can be scary too- unlike the other four, this time there's no baby coming after.
That's my baby over there with the school bag - how did it happen so fast? 

And no, I'm not broody since you ask - I'm excited about a little quiet in the mornings and maybe even some space to write and drink coffee without interruptions.  It's been a long time coming, Hell, I've even been looking forward to it ...so why do I feel the warm breath of melancholy on my cheek?

 I remember an old Irish ballad, one I learned to sing when I still wore a uniform myself, when the words were just words and they didn't speak to my heart like they do now. My Granny used to get me to sing it sometimes on a Sunday, and I'd wonder why she always wiped her eyes after. Now I know. 


Wee Hughie

He’s gone to school, wee Hughie,
An' him not four,
Sure I saw the fright was in him
When he left the door.

But he took a hand o’ Denny, 
An’ a hand o’ Dan,
Wi’ Joe’s owld coat upon him
Och the poor wee man!

 He cut the quarest figure, 
More stout not thin:
An’ trotting right and steady
Wi’ his toes turned in.

I watched him to the corner 
O' the big turf stack,
An' the more his feet went forrit,
Still his head turned back.

He was lookin' would I call him,
Och my heart was low,
Sure it's lost I am without him,
But he be to go.

 I followed to the turnin’ 
When they passed it by,
God help him he was cryin',
An', maybe, so was I.


Elizabeth Shane