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!

 

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.

 

 


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!

 

 

 

 

We LOVE Halloween

Halloween in our house is always a big occasion, especially as it is also my birthday!

Every year we go all out decorating the house both outside and in.  A few new decorations always seem to sneak their way into the Halloween box somehow…

I love that where I live nearly every house has kids and we all try to make Halloween special by decorating our homes to create a fun, atmosphere, it’s just lovely!

Crafts

I have a very crafty bunch of kids, they love creating pictures, the messier the better. Luca especially loves anything that he can get his hands into (and spreading it all over the house). When I get a few spare minutes alone with him I like to spend it doing activities. He chose to make a pumpkin and a footprint ghost.

Luca gluing his pumpkin collage

Luca gluing his pumpkin collage

Proud of his pumpkin masterpiece!

Proud of his pumpkin masterpiece!

Luca's foot in white paint

Luca’s foot in white paint

Happily splodging his paint onto the page

Happily splodging his paint onto the page

Luca's finished ghost

Luca’s finished ghost

Both activities involved a certain amount of mess – gloopy glue for one and paint in the other, every toddler’s dream and parent’s nightmare! He really enjoyed it so much  I couldn’t stay mad.

Costumes

This year we were more organised than ever before, deciding on a family dress up theme – Superheroes and Villains. We’ve never  done a theme before but thought it would be a fun challenge and get everyone involved.

Eve dressed up as villian Harley Quinn

Eve dressed up as this year’s most popular villain, Harley Quinn

Luca went as Batman but wouldn't wear the cape and refused to get his face painted

Luca went as Batman but wouldn’t wear the cape and refused to get his face painted

Luca's little sidekick Max as Robin

Luca’s little sidekick Max as Robin

Max went as a skeleton to his babygroup Halloween party

Max went as a skeleton to his baby-group Halloween party

Beautiful Super Cora

Beautiful Super Cora

Unfortunately I forgot to pose for take any photos of us adults! As we only got to wear our costumes for a few hours on the night so nobody really got to see them (usually we visit the grandparents), but on the bright side we can dust them off and use them again next year!

Our House of Horrors

It really was a house of horrors this year as there was so much sickness in the house just days before the big event!

On the very day that she got her school holidays, Eve became sick with a horrendous vomiting and diarrhoea bug! Poor Eve  was very ill throughout the night. Then the following evening Luca became ill too.

Just as we thought the worst was over, on Halloween night Eve was sick again! Then they all took colds with a horrible cough! Unbelievable! So we only got to go to a few of the Halloween celebrations in town. I had high hopes of doing lots more, oh well there is always next year.

We were all so exhausted from lack of sleep that I forgot to buy food for the trick or treaters! It was a mad rush on the day to find a shop that still had enough sweets.

I also forgot to do a few little extra things that I usually do on the day – like playing my scary Halloween soundtrack when trick or treaters come to the door or doing the party ideas I had planned (I bought lots of apples but didn’t get around to doing any actual dunking for them, doh!)

I even forgot all about  my own birthday cake, not that anyone was in the mood to eat it!

Decor Details

We always try to make our house look  as creepy as possible every year and a little different from the year before.

I mainly use whatever we already have to do the bulk of the decorating, but decided to add a little to our usual two boxes (I even forgot about some of the things that I bought, whoops!)

I always have to buy a few extra cobwebs each Halloween as the outdoor  webs tend to  get wet and weather-beaten by the end of the holiday.

B&M Bargains is my absolute favourite shop for all occasion decorations, everything is so reasonably priced and lovely – what more could you want! Their Halloween selection grows every year (a bit like mine!), I’d love to buy them all, but I have to reign myself in as Christmas is only around the corner…

Haunted Halloween House Tour

Outside

For the garden we used a life-size doll of Eve’s, dressing it up in one of her  old ghost costumes. We put some fake blood over her face and down the front of the dress. Positioning her smack bang in the centre of the garden for best dramatic effect, it looked very scary especially at nighttime.

Blood streaked creepy doll in the garden

Blood streaked creepy doll in the garden

Next we bombed the front porch in cobwebs, adding in a few spiders, creepy crawlies and bats. We hung zombies, ghosts and an old glow in the dark skeleton up too. We put in our special Halloween green light bulb and had green lights around the living room window too.

Freaky front door

Freaky front door

We always decorate the doorstep with a plastic pumpkin with LED candle lights, a broomstick, cauldron, little mice and black cat.

Front doorstep

Front doorstep

The down-lights at the top of the house also had green light bulbs to add a spooky green hue to the entire house.

Ghoulish green house

Ghoulish green house

Inside

Each year we hang cobwebs the entire length of the hallway and then I spend some time adding in lots of spiders, creepy crawlies, skeletons and bats to it as well.

Haunted hallway

Haunted hallway

I love the new little light up ghosts I bought this year hanging them along the staircase and at the bottom of the stairs we had a big creepy witch that screamed when you walked past.

Witch and ghosts

Witch and ghosts

hallway

hallway

The living room mantelpiece was adorned with a garland of black cheesecloth and purple lights and had one massive white cobweb running around the room with orange and black spiders in it.

mantelpiece

Light up garland on mantlepiece

bat

bat

 

The windowsill had green lights around the frame and a light up cobweb and spiders in the centre, all from B&M Bargains!

The kitchen had lots of plastic bats and glitter skeletons hanging off the cupboards and lights and a cauldron in the centre of the table.

The downstairs bathroom had cobweb  and dotted spiders around the window ledge too.

Taking the decorations all down again was another story entirely…