Well the time finally came for me to come out of my little love bubble and go back into the ‘real’ world again.

My love bubble

My love bubble

Snuggling with my girls

Snuggling with my girls

I spent wasted a lot of my precious time while on maternity leave worrying about how I was going to manage going back to work. Simple things like getting the boys changed, dressed, fed and out the door consumed my thoughts during the day and often were my last anxious thoughts at night. I worried what time I would have to get up at in the morning to get everyone out the door on time.

Let’s face it I could barely make it in time for the school drop off most mornings as it was, and I hadn’t even dressed the boys or gave them breakfast. Instead we were used to our own little routine, slow as it was, we were in no real rush for anything. The kids were very used to having me at home all the time, they just took it for granted that I would always be there when they needed/wanted me to be.

A BIG Change

So going back to work was going to be a big change for us all. Max started creche the week before I started back. He was really unsettled which made me feel awful. He wanted his momma and the comfort of his beloved boob – technically my boob but his main love in life!

The week before I went back I used it as a trial run, it was the second week in January and my girls were back at school. I timed it all really well, but still struggled.

Of course  on my very first day back at work I was super early. That lasted all of a day and then it got harder and harder to be on time let alone early. As time went on Max grew more unsettled in creche as he soon caught on to the drill when I left him there.

My first day back to work

My first day back to work

A month in and he has settled in well to the routine of the crèche, but he understands once he gets into the baby room that I am going to leave him and he clings onto me for dear life. I try to distract him, the leaders in the room try to distract him. This could go on for nearly 10 minutes until I just have to go, despite his cries. I always wait outside the door – the guilt stopping me in my tracks – until a few short seconds when he realises I’m gone, he just stops crying and gets on with playing until I come back.

The second I get back in through the crèche door, even if he is asleep, he wakes up and his whole little body goes straight as a board. I have no option but to give him a feed on the sofa and only then will he relax  and becomes his usual happy, mischievous little self!

My Job

Luckily I love my job! I’ve always loved writing since I was little making up stories and winning awards at school for it. I’ve always known writing is what I wanted to do, especially for a magazine! And now I do!

My Local Women Magazine work uniform

My Local Women Magazine work uniform

I worked hard at uni with ten month old Cora in tow, which wasn’t always easy, but we did it!

After I got my English degree I did a few media training courses one with the BBC and did  my NVQ4 in Journalsim with 5 month old baby Eve. It wasn’t easy but I have got there into end.

At the minute it only makes sense to work part time as anymore than that and I wouldn’t be able to afford the crèche fees and it fits in well with life at our house at the minute. I can still collect Eve from school and get stuck into her homework and it means I’m only away from Max for a few hours a day, which is so important to me and to Max as he is still breastfeeding so needs me a little more right now.

I love how my job is so different from day to day. One day I could be meeting a person who is ill, another I could be at a big event, meeting with groups of people or sitting in somebody’s home while they share their story with me.

In work

In work

I feel privileged to get to know so many people, often sharing experiences where they have been at their most vulnerable and trusting me to write about it sensitively, yet convey their message. I also have lots of laughs with the people I work with and meet, it’s  so fun and lovely most of the time.

An ad for work with Luca & Eve modelling

An ad for work with Luca & Eve modelling

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My Parenting column

My Parenting column

Interviewing The Saturdays at Radio 1 Big Weekend

Interviewing The Saturdays at Radio 1 Big Weekend

Me interviewing The Script at Radio 1 Big Weekend

Me interviewing The Script at Radio 1 Big Weekend

Backstage interview with Iggy Azalea

Backstage interview with Iggy Azalea

Although the constant deadlines can be stressful and I like to make sure my work is the best I can possibly do which means I don’t like to rush it.

So far it’s going good and my editor has been easing me in gently!

 

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