Toddler Book Reviews- What Colour is Love?

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Every Thursday our library hosts a toddler hour where they read to and do crafts with the little ones. So every Thursday we toddle along and then pick up new books for bedtime reading on our way out. I adore children’s books and have been buying them for years before I had my own kids (occupational hazard!) so we have quite a collection. So I decided I would do some reviews and share our favourites with you.

What Colour is Love? 

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Linda Strachan and David Wojtowycz

Theme: Colour/ Animals

Synopsis:

What colour is love is a gorgeously illustrated children’s book that teaches about colour and animals. It follows a little elephant going on a walkabout and asking the animals he meets what colour they think love is. A simple concept. Bright colourful pictures and plenty of vocabulary to discuss along with the repetitive “what colour is love?” question make this sweet book perfect for reading with toddlers.

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Vocabulary:

Colours: Grey, Green, Blue, Yellow, Red, White and Pink

Animals: Elephant, Tiger, Lion, Parrot, Zebra and Flamingo,

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Rhyme:

The book is written in simple rhyming couplets; for example

“Red is for flowers, but love is so bright,

it’s really quite simple, love must be white.”

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Who is thinking of the children? Marriage Equality

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This week, on Friday, Ireland holds a vote. In reality two, but the age of presidential candidates turns out to be pretty uncontroversial. We will vote on whether or not to allow same-sex couples to marry. It is a straightforward question. We will not be asked for ours reasons or thoughts on the matter we will simply tick Yes or No.

We are voting because in our constitution a family consists of a married man and woman. To change our constitution requires a vote. If there is a Yes vote we will now refer to the family as a married couple regardless of sex.

I didn’t write any posts on this so far because I felt I had nothing to contribute. I have shared posts where people have outlined their own personal stories, the people who this vote will directly affect. I am privileged. Nobody had any say in whether I got married except for myself and my husband. It pains me that people have had to speak out about their own relationships, their own feelings and dreams in order to campaign for something that they should have by right, like me. I salute them for doing so. I wish they didn’t have to. Hopefully after Friday people won’t have to again.

I am writing because of the children. We are not voting on surrogacy or adoption, but somehow it has all become mixed up in the one.

I am a big believer that a lot of ignorance is based on fear. There are some who are afraid for the children. Who fear what will happen if children are raised by same-sex couples (please note I am aware of the fact that this is happening and will happen regardless of the vote). This is not the issue we are voting on or debating but it has muddied the waters.

I am not an expert. I am a primary school teacher. I have a degree in psychology and a post-graduate in education and two children of my own but that doesn’t make me an expert on children. It does however mean that I spend a lot of my time with them.

Most children are safe and happy and loved. I have taught children from all different cultures, from all different economic and social backgrounds. Most of these children are happy and eager to learn and play. Sometimes there is a child that I worry about, that I lose sleep over, that I keep notes on, that I refer to our DLP (designated liaison person).

You worry about the children? I will tell you the children I worry about.

The ones who haven’t been fed that morning.

The ones who tell me that they are hungry because they had no dinner.

The ones who are neglected emotionally.

The ones who are neglected physically.

The ones whose parent is being hit.

The ones who have been hit.

The ones who are scared.

The ones  who have a parent that passes out.

The ones who know what drunk means, the ones who see it often.

There are hundreds of reasons that I worry about children, having a loving family is not one.

In the time I have been teaching, I have never once worried about a child purely because they are being raised by only a mother, or only a father, or two parents of either sex, or a brother or sister or a foster parent or a guardian. This does not give me cause for concern.

I will tell you what children deserve. They deserve to be loved. And believe me when I tell you, that a child that is born into a family that love it is blessed.

And those people whose fate you will decide, those who you get to choose whether or not they can marry. They deserve to be loved too.

Lets show them that we believe in love on Friday.

The land that fashion forgot..

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I remember a time when I had style. Well, I had a style anyway. I could wake up in the morning and choose something to wear that suited my mood and hop and skip out the door. Getting dressed was easy and mostly enjoyable.

Then my first pregnancy hit and I loved it, maternity clothes are really cute, everything was figure hugging and I rocked my lovely bump.

After my babies my body had changed, obviously. I had to rid myself of all my cute size 8 dresses. My jeans would never fit again no matter how much weight I lost. I swear not only my hips but my ribs are wider!

I don’t mind my post pregnancy body. I don’t yearn for my 18 year old flat stomach. My body is doing just fine.

Except that I haven’t got around to dressing it yet….

The need for a whole new wardrobe combined with a budget-inducing career break has left me low on options.

My wardrobe at the moment consists of…

  • High waisted “mom” jeans to tuck my belly into.
  • Long vest tops that are still in use post-maternity wear.
  • Flat boots that have seen better days alternated with faux Converse from the kids section in Dunnes (thankfully my shoe size hasn’t changed)
  • A few shapeless dresses, one which my eldest calls my “broken Humpty Dumpty” dress due to a questionable print.
  • Hoodies….
  • Cardigans.
  • Plain long sleeved tops.

Its a very sad wardrobe. On a day when I have to look smart or want to look good, I’m at a complete loss.

In September I will return to work part-time which will require clothes that at least have a semblance of respectability about them.

And so begins project capsule wardrobe. However I seem to have lost my fashion sense completely. A few years of not shopping and I find I don’t even know where to begin. How do I start a wardrobe from scratch? And what on earth should it contain???

Foto Store- App Review

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I adore taking pictures of my kids. I literally have thousands. It’s tough not to, they are adorable. I have pictures of every visit to the playground, every family occasion, baby milestone pictures, cute outfit pictures and eating breakfast pictures.

However, I am ashamed to say the last pictures I actually got printed were before my littlest turned one.. and she is now eighteen months. I really want to fill my house up with all the beautiful pictures we have of them, but you know, I have two toddlers. They leave me short on time and also short on the concentration skills it takes to shift through thousands of photos and decide what to print.

Enter the Foto Store app.

You download the app. Pick your pictures straight from your phone and order them.

So simple, so quick.

What more could a busy mum want really? They have taken all the hard work out of it.

In fact it was one such busy mum who came up with the idea. The app is the brainchild of Kildare mum Emily MacDonald and her software developer husband Paddy. They set up the app for exactly the reasoning that most parents want an easy way to print out the photos of their beautiful kids that are clogging up their phones. The company is a fully Irish operation. You can read more about them here: http://www.fotostore.ie/about/

When I was asked to review the app I jumped on board, as I love photos and was glad of the opportunity to update our picture frames.

I downloaded the app onto my phone.

You can get it here: http://fotostore.ie/get-the-app.

IMG_6047Pricing is outlined clearly and can be viewed before uploading any photos.

Once you go into the select photos option the app accesses the photos on your phone so you can just click on the ones that you want to print.

Uploading the photos took about ten minutes, which was for fifty photos. Then you enter your card details and submit your order. The company will then send you a confirmation email.

I ordered the prints on a Wednesday and they arrived the following Tuesday.

Here’s a sneak peak of our photos arriving in cute pink packaging.

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The FotoStore online photo printing app is perfect if you want to:

Print directly from your phone

Choose photos quickly and easily

Support Irish business. 

Disclaimer: I received 50 free prints for the purposes of this review but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Feck off Slump

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I’ve fallen into a slump.
We have just been racing around all week, getting to all our groups, visiting, doing favours, attending family functions and staying on top of housework and I just tripped and fell into it, stupid slump.
Now it’s Sunday, a day of rest, much much needed rest.
Instead it was an early start, cranky, overtired kids, a great idea to go out for lunch with cranky kids, a leaking sink, an absent husband (didn’t I tell you I have to be gone by 3?) and people due for birthday tea.
Who on earth is in charge here? Surely not me again? Not when I want to go to bed and cover my head and not get up till the morning?
Feck off slump, I’m too busy for you.

Hen parties.. when you are a Mammy.

Hen night

I’ve just been to a hen party at the weekend. Oh gone are the days of the two day drinking sessions. Falling around lovely towns in middle Ireland and taking hungover or drunken boat trips or kayaking or paintballing. Dressing up in matching themed outfits and carrying a blow up man aptly named Dick.

As you get older and more and more people join the mammy tribe, hen parties start to take on a different colour. Here are some of the ways I find hen parties have matured to match our.. um… mature ages.

  • Two hen’s were pregnant, so we had lots of talk about due dates, pregnancy symptoms and labour plans.
  • Two hen’s were breastfeeding so lots of talk about engorged boobs, leaking milk and breast pumps.
  • The activity was a quite sedate walk, which was very sensibly curtailed due to the rain.
  • Although penis straws were provided, not one Mammy actually used one.
  • What was originally planned to be a two day affair became a one day affair as the bride to be missed her little baby too much.
  • Meals, drinks, taxis, and accomodation were all organised and paid for in advance.
  • Nobody puked.
  • Presents for the bride to be included candles and bunting, not blow up dolls and garters.
  • Nobody had matching outfits, except coincidentally two hen’s had matching DKNY clutches.
  • Shots were replaced with glasses of water as the night progressed.
  • Everyone was bright eyed the next morning.

Why we can’t turn our backs on human suffering

There are times when watching the news is too much to bear. The last week I have been hiding from it. The human suffering, the horror. I can’t bring myself to read news reports, the pictures are heartbreaking. I can’t empathise, I can’t even begin to imagine how those people are feeling.

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/a-stain-on-the-conscience-of-our-continent-eu-ministers-to-discuss-uturn-on-searchandrescue-operations-in-the-mediterranean-31164951.html

I am privileged.

My children are up in bed at the moment, safely napping. They are in clean clothes. They are warm. They have been fed. I don’t worry about what they will eat tomorrow.

We can live here, in comfort and no one to bother us. They play in the garden, they have books read to them, they have art supplies, toys and games. They have grandparents and aunts and uncles, they are loved. They visit friends and family, they go to the library and the supermarket. They don’t worry about anything.

They don’t go a day without hugs and kisses.

They will go to school when they are old enough, they will learn to read and write. They will make friends, they will have options.

They will lead privileged lives.

I had all of that. I grew up with all of that.

How can I empathise with people who have no options? How can I begin to understand how it would feel to bring your children with you on a journey that you know is full of danger with nothing to sustain you except hope? How can I begin to imagine how a parent feels trying to keep their children safe in such circumstances? We all hold our own lives dearly but the lives of our children we cherish and protect fiercely. All of us.

We must stand with them. We must do more than just cry for them, but we must do that too.

Someone said to me “it doesn’t bear thinking about”, but we have to. We have to think about them, we have to understand our privilege does not extend to everyone.

We have to know that we have ours, not because we are more deserving but merely through an accident of fate.

They are us. We are them.

Sticky Lemon Cake with Glenisk

Sticky Lemon Cake

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Now, from the off, I’d like to be upfront about my baking skills; they are lacking in some finesse. Whenever we have a birthday in our family someone will most likely offer to make a cake for me. It’s not that I can’t bake, it’s just that I’m not the family pro baker (hats off to my sister who made my wedding cake!).

Recently Glenisk announced they were running a recipe competition. Glenisk yogurts have long been a favourite in our house, the girls devour their natural yogurt every evening for “bissert”, with sprinkles on top for special occasions. We have also recently discovered their Go-Yo’s which are great for bringing on picnics (now that we have some picnicy weather).

Anyway in light of a competition from a much-loved family brand I decided I’d pull up my baking socks and attempt a sticky lemon cake. I’ll let you be the judges of my efforts but it went down a treat in ours and only lasted the day (and also got praised by my expert wedding-cake-making sister)

Ingredients: 

175g (6oz) unsalted butter

250g (9oz) caster sugar

2 lemons

3 eggs

75g (2 1/2 oz) plain flour

2tsp baking powder

150g (5 1/2 oz) Glenisk Natural Yogurt.

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

2. Cream butter and 150g (5 1/2oz) of the sugar. Add the grated zest from the lemons.

3. Beat in eggs, one at a time (if you notice any curdling now, add a bit of flour and act like nothing happened)

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4. Mix flour and baking powder and fold into mixture.

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5. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the yogurt.

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6. Pour into tin.

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7. Bake for 40 minutes.

8. Remove and allow to cool in the tin.

9. Heat remaining sugar and juice in a saucepan. Pierce cake several times and drizzle syrup over cake. Allow to cool.

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10. Enjoy!

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Disclosure: Glenisk kindly sent me vouchers for their products in order to take part, but are adored by us anyway! 

Buying a home, do you need the “love” factor?

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The “love” factor is important. It’s what we base all our big decisions on, a partner, a job and a home, right? Oh do we? Don’t we sometimes choose the sensible choice? Sometimes we choose a partner who is kind and caring instead of waiting for butterflies. Sometimes we have jobs to pay the bills, or that give us the lifestyle we want instead of following our passion. Sometimes we live somewhere we can afford or that is in the best location, sacrificing our idea of a dream home.

These aren’t bad choices. We can be perfectly happy without the “love” factor. We can have other words, contentment, comfort, even happiness. Is love too high an aspiration for everything in our lives?

I hit gold on my husband and my job. My husband is kinda and caring but he also gives me butterflies. My job pays the bills and gives me the lifestyle I want but is also something I adore. And now we are starting to look at buying a home. Do I get to hit gold on all three?

We are currently looking at a house that hit the love factor for me. It is a mess, a higgledy piggledy house with dark rooms and a ridiculous layout. But nevertheless I fell in love, in love with the character, in love with the potential. The only problem is the renovations would be huge, with two toddlers underfoot and a limited budget, it could turn into a disaster we could live to regret or… our dream home. Another house is very sensible. We could walk in tomorrow. We could make it ours over time. It is within budget. It is nice. I don’t love it, but maybe I could learn to love. With some creativity maybe it could be our dream home. I squint and try to see it.

The property situation in Ireland in the past has led to disaster for many, leaving broken people in it’s wake. Shouldn’t we go into this with our eyes wide open? Following our heads and not our hearts? Against my better judgement and in spite of a tendency to always follow my heart, is this the exception? Is this where I should make a grown up, measured and thought out decision?