I’m constantly on the look out for new dinner recipes that all four of us can sit down and eat together. The trouble is both Aidan and Sarah are totally and utterly allergic to vegetables. If they see one in a meal, aside from carrots that is, they instantly turn their noses up at it. Continue reading
I have taken up refereeing. I’m the woman in the middle of three-year-old and an almost two-year-old and sometimes I really wish I had a sideline to send them to! Up until recently I had a relatively easy job with Sarah and Aidan because, for the most part, the latter didn’t bother playing with his little sister. However, now that she’s more hardy, the bickering, the pulling, the dragging, the hair pulling and the slapping would drive you round the twist. Continue reading
Cambrils Park in Spain’s Costa Dorada; a Mecca for families during the summer months. We learned of the resort through a friend after I mentioned wanting to take our first ever holiday abroad this summer. That was in June 2015 and I was warned to book it immediately or otherwise I didn’t stand a chance of getting in to the holy resort. Yes, a full year in advance! Continue reading
I’ve owned a slow cooker since finishing up maternity leave with Aidan almost three years ago. It was a present from the mammy. In those early days I thought it was the bees knees and in fairness it was so handy to throw the dinner on in the morning and come home to a cooked meal that evening. Continue reading
Play Centres. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They are great for a rainy day when cabin fever strikes and outdoors isn’t an option. They are also a great place to meet fellow parents for a catch up because the adults can have a sit down, a chat and a coffee, while the little ones head off for a play.
However, so many of them leave a lot to be desired. Not all are overly clean, some aren’t even that practical, while the food and beverages served in some, well, is just downright vile.
I’ve been to play centres in Meath, Galway, Dublin and Kildare and all have their own merits.
In Kildare we’ve visited Joey’s, The Fun Factory and Jungle Den in Naas, we’ve been to Tricky Tricksters in Tougher’s Business Park and we’ve been to Playzone in Celbridge. Other establishments we’ve been to close by include Energy in Rathcoole and the Playhouse Cafe, which is in Lucan Sarsfields GAA Club but can’t really be classed as a playcentre.
So, what’s the lowdown, what are the good, the bad and the ugly? Well I’m not in the habit of simply having a go for the sake of it so I’m not going to target any of them individually because at the end of the day they all have good and bad points.
I’m going to start with the good. Top of the Kildare pile, by a mile, is Playzone in Celbridge. I’ve only been once but the place made a lasting impression. My friend Laura, who is mammy to the gorgeous Matthew, lives in Swords so we picked Celbridge as a halfway meeting point. Aside from the fact that there’s toddler events every morning and it’s spotless, Playzone has a lovely cafe and when they say they offer a healthy option for children’s meals, they do. Also their baby soft play area is the best around. Under twos aren’t allowed in, which is the case in a lot of places but the difference here is, they have a proper gate on it that, for the most part, can only be opened by adults.
One of my bugbears with other places is, there are always older and more boisterous kids in the baby area and it’s impossible to relax for fear of Sarah getting hurt. I really wish the staff in these places would enforce this rule because I always feel bad ordering older kids out. They are not mine to discipline at the end of the day.
Getting back to the food served in play centres. There’s a real divide here. Some are okay, some are downright disgusting and some are brilliant. I visited one play centre in Naas for the first time last week, and while the place itself was brilliant for playing, the food was horrendous. I ordered a panini and chips, Aidan had sausages and chips, while Sarah had lasagne and holy cow, the amount of grease on the food had to be seen to be believed. These days all Aidan eats is sausages and chips and even he turned up his nose at this fare.
There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting back with a cup of coffee or tea that has been served to you and while some of the local play centres serve up lovely hot beverages, others serve muck. And do you know what annoys the hell out of me? Maybe it’s commonplace but in one local play centre I ordered a herbal tea and they whipped out a packet of green tea bags from Aldi and brewed it up. Now there’s nothing at all wrong with the herbal tea range from Aldi but what is wrong is charging €1.50 for a cup of herbal tea when you could probably buy two whole packs of tea-bags for that price in Aldi.
Now that Sarah is over one, she’s actually knocking a bit of craic out of the soft play areas but when she was younger I loved going to centres that had baby bouncers and sit-in activity centres. Most are fine in this regard but there’s one place that offered dirty, ancient and ripped bouncers and activity centres. Is it too much to ask to keep them clean and replace them when they get a bit battered? Surely not.
It’s not all bad though. Joey’s in Naas is great as it’s much smaller than other places, meaning you can sit down with your coffee and still see the kids at all times. which is a great idea. As I mentioned Playzone, is just super, while most of them have toddler activities such as arts and crafts and music classes mid-week.
But to the not so great ones, please, please sort out the food situation, clean up your act, police the baby areas because I bet if you did you’d have even more heads through your doors.
A couple of weeks ago myself and Daddy Chambers decided to turn our spare room in to a playroom. The dining room was completely over loaded with toys and with Christmas imminent, it was only going to get worse.
Not wanting to be without a bed for guests we offloaded the double bed from the room and invested in a Hemnes Daybed from IKEA. I’m in love with it. It’s essentially a couch for the kids on a day-to-day basis but is also a single bed and pulls out in to a really comfortable king size bed.
We also invested in a TV for the room and transferred our Apple TV in to the playroom so Aidan has access to all his favourite cartoons. We got a great Black Friday bargain on the TV; just €99.99 for a 32 inch flatscreen from Carphone Warehouse.
We’re almost finished it and already my pair, particularly Aidan, loves it. I need to pick up some of those foam floor mats to ease the pain of wobbles and falls. The ones in Smyth’s are quite small, does anyone know where I can get bigger ones without having to buy multiple packs?
With an indoor trampoline, a dollhouse, a push-along train and God knows what else, on the Santa list, I think this ‘new’ room just might save my sanity!
I’m a tad obsessed with social media. I use Twitter mostly for sports news, following sports writers and sports people, while I use Facebook on a more personal level. In the last two years I’ve started to get to grips with Instagram, an online mobile photo sharing site for those of you not familiar with it. Continue reading
When Daddy Chambers headed off to Westport for his friend’s stag party recently, I decided to take Aidan and Sarah to Navan to visit their granny O’Brien.
A few weeks back I wrote about ‘Operation Lose the Spare Tyre’ and how I embarked on a journey to lose my baby weight. Except it wasn’t baby weight; it was I ate all the pies and subsequently sat on my arse weight! Well, as I write I am currently eight weeks into that journey so I said I’d update you all on how I’m getting on. Continue reading
There’s another woman in our lives. She’s been a permanent fixture for almost two years now. My man goes to her house regularly. His sister knows her well too. Indeed he loves nothing more than to call to her house.
Before you all go lambasting Daddy Chambers, I am in fact talking about my little man and his other woman. I’m talking about Aidan and Sarah’s second mammy; their childminder, and a woman I quite simply couldn’t do without.
I’m not great at saying my feelings out loud sometimes but if I was I’d tell the other woman just how much she means to all us Chambers’.
As my maternity leave with Aidan neared an end I had to go in search of someone to look after him. Creches weren’t on my agenda so I went looking for a childminder and dreaded the thoughts of it. I met with two ladies; the first a perfectly lovely woman and then I came face-to-face with the ‘one’. I instantly knew she was the woman who would look after my precious first born. The freshly brewed coffee and homemade scones on her kitchen table sealed the deal! I was so relieved that my search wasn’t labourious.
Aidan has been with the other woman ever since and in June of this year she took Sarah under her wing. As a ten-month-old, my youngest isn’t quite proficient in verbal communication but each mid-week morning when the other woman opens her door Sarah outstretches her arms and almost leaps out of mine to get to her..
Aidan, on the other hand, is well able to talk. There are no mistaking his feelings for the other woman. He adores her. Luckily I’m not the sensitive sort because most evenings when I collect him he bawls his eyes out when he has to leave the other woman’s house. At weekends he frequently looks to go and visit her and cries if we pass by her neck of the woods without stopping.
The other woman is their second mammy. She doesn’t just mind Aidan and Sarah, she treats them like one of her own. And speaking of her own, her children have embraced my two like siblings.
In two years I don’t recall ever getting one phone call from her while at work. There’s never any drama. She’s cool and calm, which is no mean feat when you have Aidan to look after! She’s a natural. She juggles her own children, mine and others at times with remarkable ease. I’m literally dumbfounded by it sometimes. Nothing seems to be an issue.
One evening recently when I collected Aidan and Sarah she mentioned she had been out to do her weekly grocery shop earlier in the day. No big deal you might think. But she did it with six children in tow. Superwoman is actually alive and well in Newbridge! The thoughts of that has me breaking out in a cold sweat! At a push I bring one of mine to the supermarket!
When the weather is fine I hear Aidan out in her back garden playing when I pull up to collect them and he always seems to be roaring his head off laughing. I suppose that’s the bottom line; he’s so so happy there and I’m so happy he’s there.
The cost of childcare in Ireland is a hot topic and yes it’s is mega expensive but I personally won’t be searching for the lowest bidder.
So to you other woman, we are so amazingly thankful to have you in our lives. If Carlsberg did childminders …… well you know the rest!
Now, moving on and changing tack, last week I wrote about ‘operation lose the spare tyre’ and about how I’ve embarked on a twelve week fitness and healthy eating course with mammy fitness expert Brid McGill from Fit With Brid. Well, I’m pleased to say I’m still on course and I’m still managing to find time for my 40 minutes of exercise five days a week. I usually do it after the kids go to bed but last Saturday I attempted to do it while they were up so I could have an evening off to relax. Eh bad move!
Sarah, from the comfort of her highchair, thought I was hilarious as I buck leaped about the place in front of her. The other fella though wouldn’t give me a minutes peace. I finally gave up when he hopped on my back as I was mid-plank. Those bloody things are hard enough without adding a two-year-old in to the mix!