As we bring in the New Year tonight celebrating with a disco party at home, I can’t help but look back on what a momentous year 2016 has been for us.

2016

Hugely pregnant at the beginning of the year, I got the loveliest present in March when baby Max was born. The fastest, easiest pregnancy and the biggest baby and easiest birth by far, Max has brought so much to our lives that I didnt even realise was missing until we had him!

Max Just Home From Hospital

Max Just Home From Hospital

We all had to learn to manage with two babies under two years of age which was an experience in itself. With lots of happiness, some tears, frustration, lots of arguments, anger and lots of joy – fitting in time for school runs, after school classes and shows, I am so grateful to be able to breastfeed as doing so on the go was an absolute necessity.

Luca hugging Max

Luca hugging Max

In 2016 we attended lots of doctor and hospital appointments, yet thankfully everyone is happy and healthy.

We had our first big family outing when Max was just a few weeks old visiting a dear friend in Portrush. Next we attended Stendhal Festival of Art in August. It went really well and we had lots of fun with friends! Followed by a family holiday to Bangor.

Travelling to festival family shot

Travelling to festival family shot

Max ear defenders

Cora and Eve

Cora and Eve

Wearing Max in Lillebaby carrier

Wearing Max in Lillebaby carrier

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We have learnt  a lot about ourselves, the kindness of others, how willing some lovely friends have been to help out when times were tough and I even surprised myself by finally standing up for myself!

I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend just over nine months of maternity leave surrounded by my two baby boys. It’s been such a precious time that I will never get back, a real chance  to bond with and be there for my babies every, single day. No words can describe how much I have cherished it.

I took the plunge and started this little blog, something I had only thought about doing before, as I was too shy. I am so very grateful to each and every reader, for all your support and encouragement. Thank you and I plan on sharing much more of our family adventures next year.

Christmas 2016

This Christmas has been completely different to any other we’ve had so far. Four weeks of sickness followed by a trip to the Out of Hours doctor on Christmas Eve and a visit to A&E on Christmas Day with poorly little Eve.

Luca was the donkey in his crèche Christmas play

One of my lovely sisters is an A&E nurse and Eve got personally attended to by her, getting pain relief. She will forever be Eve’s heroine.

 Christmas colouring in

Christmas colouring in

Making gingerbread men

Making gingerbread men

Luca's Christmas card

Luca’s Christmas card

Cora on Boxing Day

Cora on Boxing Day

Christmas night out

Christmas night out

By the time we got tucking into our Christmas dinner it was 9pm. My very kind mum brought it all the way from her house (a 25-30 minute drive away) and served it up. The first Christmas me and the kids have ever had not surrounded by the buzz and excitement of our huge family at my parents house. Never again.

Looking forward to 2017

I don’t have any set resolutions as such this year. My main focus is my kids as always. I want to be mindful of being more present with them, living in the moment to do fun things and to listen and just be there for the sad times too.

I aim to choose more positive words around and to them, showing more compassion especially when I am tired or angry.

Most of all I want to make happy memories and let my family know how much I love and appreciate them just as they are.

I’m looking forward to sharing the many new challenges, trips, milestones and celebrations that my family have in the year ahead.

Wishing each and every one of you the happiest, healthiest year yet in 2017.

Love,  Fionnuala xoxo

 

We have spent the past FOUR weeks absoluately floored with seemingly never ending sickness in our house.

Four sick babies

Four sick babies

Four weeks, three antibiotics, one hospital appointment, a few days off school and crèche, a few bottles of calpol, two billion used hankies later – I’ve  never had a busier November/December in my life!

Bugs

It all started off with the most awful vomiting and diahorrea bug I have witnessed. Entire bed sets including sheets, pillows and duvets were bunged into a bin liner and chucked out the bedroom window straight into the wheelie bin to avoid having to bring them through the house for fear of spreading the gruesome germs further.

Only two of us managed to miss out on succumbing to the bug – luckily I was one (having hyperemesis with two children in the past I think was more than enough sickness for a lifetime for me!)

Infection

When that had run its course the weather decided to take a turn for the worst, leaving my two baby boys quite literally breathless. They both got chest infections and I have been at the doctors once a week with one of them at least. Both of them were prescribed antibiotics to tackle their infections.

Little Luca had to get a stronger dose of medicine to try to get rid of it as he got much worse. Then baby Max had to get an inhaler and spacer to help his breathing.

Max's medicine

Max’s medicine

Cabin Fever

I can safely say I’ve never felt cabin fever mixed with exhaustion quite like it! There were days when I walked around the backyard just to get a bit of fresh air into my lungs, and to avoid the babies just for a few minutes. I’ve never felt closer to being a hermit in my life, only communicating with the outside world via an open car window, through social media or the telephone. Thank goodness for the geniuses who invented them. The poor boys have really felt it too, especially Luca who had to miss a few days off crèche, which had him in floods of tears!

Sick of sickness

Lots of mopping, wiping, washing, cleaning and cuddles later, it has made me realise that nursing is definitely a vocation, one that I have not been called to! It breaks my heart to see my kids sick or in pain, but there is only so much moaning I can take!  Sorry if that sounds mean, but constantly being around my little sick people made me feel a bit, erm, sick!

Night Out

Just when it seemed safe to go on a very long overdue night out (I got a bit greedy and went for two in a row, practically unheard of since my twenties!)

Ready to rock

Ready to rock

I ended up getting sick too. At first I thought it was a really long hangover and then it dawned on me that you don’t get barking coughs and a streaming nose from a hangover! Doh!

At least the boys are in much better form and even managed to visit Santa. The girls are hanging in there too.

My boys visit Santa

My boys visit Santa

Eve is Christmas ready

Eve is Christmas ready

Decorating and Work

The house has taken a big hit though, with the Christmas decorations going up in slow, long drawn out stages. Usually I spend hours getting the house ready for Christmas even adding in a few new decorations, but this year we have only managed to get to the shops for one big a Christmas present shop so far! My Christmas mojo is non existent at the minute, so much so that I didn’t even decorate the tree this year for the first time ever. The kids got free reign…

Our Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree

The housework has had to take priority over decorating. It’s been a challenge to catch up with the mountains of laundry – although you would never believe I’ve actually done anything to it at all as each area I clean or clear is just as bad as it was before within five minutes!

All other forms of work has had to go on the back burner too as I just  haven’t had a spare minute to myself lately. Even getting washed or going to the toilet has been a miracle in itself. My laptop helpfully decided to break as well just to add to the fun!

Holiday Time

School is breaking up today until January so I cant wait to get snuggling in and getting cosy with the kids for long, lazy days watching tv in our pjs and eating a shameful amount of sweets. Visiting family and friends is a-must, as is cinema trips, walks, going to the park and everything fun we can think of.

It’s one thing having to sit in the house because of sicknesses, but there is a certain luxury in choosing to do it too!

Roll on little Max’s first Christmas filled with lots of excitement and fun!

Yesterday for a little Monday treat I took the kids on a walk to see the sunset as it looked absolutely stunning.

View from Culmore Point

View from Culmore Point

Luca loves looking at the water and every morning on our school run I put down the car windows as we drive past it, watching out for boats, birds, seagulls and to see how much water and wildlife we can spot. I think he might be a future David Attenborough!

We got a really lovely surprise when as we were looking over the old dry stone wall,  one swan popped it’s long, graceful neck over to have a look at us!

Mother swan having a cheeky peep

Mother swan having a cheeky peep

Followed by two more equally stunning swans.

Luca, Eve and I have been following the lives and progress of the swans ever since they were little baby cygnets. There used to be four but yesterday we only saw three. Wow they have grown a huge amount since the last time we saw them up close, which must have been last January/February.

Back then they were very small, following their mother closely, now they are big, magestic, magnificent birds resplendent in their beauty and oh so confident!

Three beautiful swans

Three beautiful swans

They weren’t very impressed that we hadn’t got any food to give them, judging by the sheer size of them and the fact they were not one bit afraid of us – in fact there were slightly intimidating in how overly friendly they were- they are obviously quite spoilt. How could they  not be, they are so beautiful.

Swans always remind me of the old Celtic legend of The Children of Lir, not least because the only daughter was called Fionnuala.

The whole setting yesterday would have been ideal as a film set!

On the rest of our walk back to the car we were joined by two very friendly cats, purring around our ankles and trying to make a break for the backseat of the car.

Looking at the view across Lough Foyle to the Lisahally docks is really nice – even the smoke coming out of the factory funnel adds to the ambience.

Lisahally Docks

Lisahally Docks

The view of the Foyle Bridge in the distance is beautiful against the stillness of the water, the clouds and the glorious array of colours coming from the setting sun in the sky.

Foyle bridge in the distance

Foyle bridge in the distance

I’m so grateful that we live in such an outstandingly beautiful area of natural beauty. I really don’t appreciate it enough.

 

 


To Cora,

Cora

Cora

Cora I can’t believe you turn 15 years old today,

You have grown to be truly beautiful more than words can convey.

I remember so clearly the day you were born, being totally amazed by how perfect you were,

From the tip of your toes, your perfect lips,to your fine blonde hair.

Cora 7 hours old

Cora 7 hours old

You were very loved right from the start, wherever you went you touched people’s hearts.

Old people, young people it didn’t matter, you would talk to anyone with your constant chatter.

Cora and her granny

Cora and her granny

Singing songs and performing ballet shows you were never shy,

Cora black swan

Cora black swan

Core en pointe

Core en pointe

Cora in Les Miserables

Cora in Les Miserables

Writing poems, stories and letters brought a tear to our eyes.

A real little bookworm you always loved school,

Cora at Primary school

Cora at Primary school

Wearing glasses you make them look cool!

Cora's new glasses

Cora’s new glasses

With lots of sympathy, big hugs and kind loving words,

You have the ability to cheer everyone up by  being funny and absurd.

Quietly confident you try to do what is right,

You rarely ever argue with your family or fight.

 

You’re really talented more than you know,

Your creativity shines out when you get into the flow.

You’ve always had your own unique sense of fashion,

Denim dubgarees

Denim dubgarees

Vintage dress

Vintage dress

More recently music and beauty have become your new passions.

Transforming us all with your makeup skills,

Face mask night

Face mask night

Cora's makeup

Cora’s makeup

Cora's makeup skills

Cora’s makeup skills

You help make others look stunning, even  when they feel ill.

Your beautiful long hair is your pride and joy,

Cora's hair

Cora’s hair

You love going into town to talk to your bffs and boys!

With the largest group of friends I’ve seen,

They’re all a really lovable bunch of teens.

Teen's trainers

Teen’s trainers

You’re wiser than your years which at times can be funny,

You’re really very good when it comes to money.

Your sister and brothers totally idolise you,

They copy and say the things that you do.

Cora, Eve and Max

Cora, Eve and Max

Cora and Eve

Cora and Eve

We love you very much, you’ve made us very proud,

I’d like to freeze you at this age – if only it was allowed.

Thank you Cora for being you,

Cora and I

Cora and I

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Cora

Cora

We all love you so much, we really do.

Family

Family

Us all except Max won't fit in

Us all except Max won’t fit in

Love from your family xoxo

 

 

 

 


Yesterday was one of those days, you know the kind I mean, when every single thing you do seems to go wrong.

Looking at my SnapChat story or other social media accounts you would never have guessed it was anything other than a perfect family day out to the park.

Max, Luca and me

Max, Luca and me

 

The reality couldn’t be further than what was portrayed in this small reprieve of fun in the midst of what I can only describe as a day where chaos and anarchy ran supreme.

The Morning Mishaps

It all began to go pear-shaped when I heard a vaguely familiar sound in the background and realised it was my alarm going off over and over!

We’d all slept in for the second time this week and it was only Tuesday!

Panic stations ensued with me barking orders at everyone.

I dislike mornings as it is – I’m more of a night owl – and being late doesn’t help my morning mood. So everyone was immediately on edge when they realised the situation.

Mayhem is the only way to describe most mornings here as I’m trying to get Eve out to school and literally juggle between getting the two boys’ lovely massive morning nappies changed and new outfits on.

Then there is the fun that is breakfast – aka a wrestling match – where I try to get bibs on two, strong, wriggly boys who certainly do not want bibs on. Breakfast is a whole story in itself…but you get the jist, we were late.

I dropped Eve off at the school gates, had to stop back home to change Luca’s nappy again. Then Max  began to cry. I fed him briefly then  we set off on the road for a second time, to a doctors appointment for Cora.

Finding a parking space was horrendous so feeling like an awful parent, Cora had to brave the appointment alone, at nearly 15 she is very capable, but I still felt terrible about it.

I drove around for 30 extra minutes until I found a space which as luck had it happened to be on the steepest hill around. Afraid of my car zooming off down the hill as soon as I stept out (my car doesn’t have a handbrake) I hurried to get the boys into the  double pram and raced to the doctor’s surgery.

Late again!

As Cora was already in we joined her and the lovely GP at the end of the appointment in a bit of a flap.

Luca chose this moment to go absolutely mental, screaming “I want out,” repeatedly at such a high frequency it didn’t sound human.

On and on he screamed. Oblivious to the fact I was trying to listen to the doctor. Cora needed bloods taken and her heart rate had to be monitored. Embarrassed at how boldly behaved Luca had been, Max then kicked up a fuss because he needed a nappy change.

Handing in our form at the treatment room reception with both boys still going crazy wasn’t pleasant  The sweat was dripping off me and I felt suffocatingly warm/angry/embarrassed.

Into the baby change room we went while Luca screamed on, getting louder and more frantic sounding by the minute.

Cora’s was called and I panicked because she is afraid of needles and needed her momma for support.

On she went – alone again and I felt bad again. I felt really stressed out and suddenly we are all in tears with me muttering to myself like a mad woman.

Just then a firm knock on the door is followed by a lovely nurse who pops her head around the door, asking if she can help.

More tears and tantrums from the boys follow as we gave Cora moral support, then it was back to wait for a chat with the GP.

The good old ‘santa is watching’ bribe is used to excess while we wait again, until a promise of going to the park happens, one which no amount of back tracking later is going to work.

Playtime In The Park

Off we set later and enjoy a really lovely time in the park, my two boys and me. I capture it on camera relieved the drama of the day is over.

Luca climbing the Park steps

Luca climbing the Park steps

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

Max in his sling

Max in his sling

 

Max's first time on a swing

Max’s first time on a swing

Luca on the Merrygoround

Luca on the Merrygoround

Luca pushing Max on swiing

Luca pushing Max on swiing

 

     But then it’s not

School Run, Not So Fun

On the school run Luca turns into an escape artist and manages to release his buckle and in one fell swoop, dives out, unzipping his coat like superman on the way. Then off he runs, fast as lightning, laughing his manic, crazy, up-to-no-good laugh.

I was speechless and couldn’t believe it happened. The louder I shouted for him to stop, the faster he ran! He nearly escaped out the gates, only he was rescued by his crèche manager, our heroine!

Never have I felt like a worse parent than that moment. When he was caught Luca began squirming and wailing: “Let me down,” over and over. It was awful.

My lovely friend pushed Max’s pram back to the car for me, and came back to mine for a cuppa to calm me down.

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New Day

I’m hoping today will be a much more positive and relaxed day. It might be time to look into a set of toddler reins, something I thought I’d never have to resort to!