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?

Why recovering from surgery sucks.. when you are a mammy.

Ok so I know I’m very lucky. I only had keyhole surgery. My husband is home for the next two weeks. We have lots of family help. I know it could be worse. But still here’s why recovering from surgery sucks when you are a mammy.

  • I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting for six weeks, I’m sure the girls probably qualify as heavy but much I hardly think I will make six weeks without lifting them into car seats, high chairs, buggies, cots, for cuddles,
  • I have been in bed pretty much since I got home which is confusing my little ones and upsetting them because they don’t know why I won’t come and play with them.
  • I got my husband to pop them in beside me for bedtime stories only for my eldest to jump on my tummy. I explained to her that the doctor put plasters on mammy’s tummy so she had to be careful, to which she replied excitedly “show me!” I did and she burst into tears! Big proper inconsolable tears. So there’s traumatising the kids ticked off the list.
  • The kids are completely out of routine, being minded by different people all day, so they are out of sorts and cranky, cue mammy guilt.
  • Although the biggest mammy guilt of all is from my little one who just keeps crying for me, at naptime, bedtime etc.
  • Switching off is pretty impossible, I am finding myself shouting questions and instructions at my poor husband from my sickbed. “Did they have their breakfast?” “You would want to start putting their coats on now if you want to be out of here in ten minutes!”
  • No housework for six weeks, oh what bliss… or it would be if someone else would do it, most likely it would end in no clean clothes, a house that is a germ-infested and trip hazardous, no proper meals and a lack of clean dishes.
  • My nurse is pretty busy with my toddlers, which yesterday meant me getting stuck, in pain, at an awkward angle trying to get back into bed on my own because I didn’t want to ask for help while he was putting the girls down for naps.

But on the plus side of it all, my surgeon said that I would be crazy to get pregnant with my gallbladder problems but now it’s gone we can jump right back in.. umm.. well as soon as I can move again… and I’m not in pain..