Back to School Part 1

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Or start of school for us. My eldest started school on yesterday and as cliches as it sounds I really cannot believe it!

My first pic was when I met him is below and now I have to let him go a little into a whole new world, a big leap into learning….

Since mid summer we started collecting the bits we needed for school. We got the book list and worked through that. We started one random day with picking up a pencil case and a few stationary bits and bobs in Bookstation which I found great.

Next up was the school bag, it had to be a certain size and power rangers was the request so Amazon is was for that. Thanks to ‘ga ga’

We then got our books from the list locally, now this was a bit of an oversight -a great service from opening minds but I’ve heard brilliant things since about schoolbooks.ie and that they cover the books for you too-with a discount-wins all round.

Josh’s school does not have a uniform so I wanted to pick up a capsule wardrobe. We had been told he needed velcro plimsoles to stay in school for PE day’s so we picked up those in Penny’s. I decided on jeans, a few trakkies, a few long tops, t shirts, sweatshirts and 2 good versatile jackets. I picked up these items between Leigh Tucker in Dunnes, H&M, Gap and Pep & Co with a few Penny’s bits thrown in too. I got 2 more pairs of good velcro trainers in Lifestyle.

I found a great lunchbox in Dunnes with a top and bottom section which I think will work well but when I continue onto part 2 of the post and lunches are underway I’ll be able to see if it’s as suitable as I think as a novice now!

Final stationary bits were picked up in Bookstation and Easons for the more specialised pencils etc.

I got my stickers from Stuck On You-again probably could have gone with a slightly cheaper option but they seem really good quality and they are needed for everything so well worth it.

I found the run up easy-organising all the bits together but facing into the unknown of what exactly to get etc seemed a little daunting at first so whilst all the school bags are packed up for this year hopefully this will be a handy reference guide for Junior Infants 2019!

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Reflection-Perception V Reality

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Summer all the regular routines go out the window and with the recent spell of good weather too even more so!

Being on holidays earlier this summer and with new routines about to take hold with school starting for Josh and a change of school and times for Max it got me thinking.

I work part time and we chose to make this change when we knew number 2 was on the way. We have no retired parents to pick up the slack or a big family for support and it was something we both wanted for the boys too. But part time is not always the ideal solution for balance either. For the full time ‘other parent’ working-they get the ‘jobs’ done, dinner on the table and happy kids but the person at home, because they are at home can be expected to ‘do’ a little more but still has to work too. Sometimes in our house that can end up with a seriously frazzled mama.

It kind of means you never get a ‘break’ but then does anyone?? I find my days in work I get some of the ‘break’ I need more than my days at home but that is only because my job us not overly full on but it is client facing so I cannot ‘fall asleep on the job’ per se or wander away for a coffee on my tireder days…Sometimes I think people look on and think part time is the easier option but having done both, it is the option for all that I prefer but is it easier, I don’t think so..

I think social media can have an affect on people’s perception of snippets of your life. Most people choose to share happy moments online and whilst I do try and maintain a realistic view I also like to exude a positive tone across my platforms. I share a lot of what we get up to through my stories and a little less so on the main grid but I use it both as a family ‘album’ of sorts and also for the blog.. I don’t ever recall people putting the crap pics in their family picture albums and I suppose this is the same… On the blog side of things I get a lot of reaction to my outings with the boys so will be focusing a lot more on that and make it easier for people to view and engage with. It’s our favourite thing to do, get out and about so if I can inspire ideas for someone else then I’m more than happy to.

There is a common theme going back the couple of years I have been writing my musings on this blog that really there is no right or wrong way-no easier way just a way that somewhat works for you and your family. It works now so I am about to see what the school set up and logistics will bring, from what I can see there seems to be mostly full time or stay at home but not that many in between.

It’s an ongoing to discussion/debate amongst my peer group and never do we conclude if anyone has found the perfect solution so my conclusion is there possibly ain’t one. I think for most the grass is greener or can sometimes feel that way but ultimately it is about finding your own way and the things and circumstances that work best for you.

Another part of being with the boys that can be tricky is that Max DOES NOT nap, I mean he dozes occasionally but at no set time and this can make the days long and frankly tedious at times. Josh was a good napper-12-2  pretty religiously. To be fair with collections for Josh now etc Max is dragged around a little more but he is busy so a nap a day would help a lot just to get a little concentrated time with Josh and generally get sh*t done. Any advice would we welcomed but I fear it’s the being dragged around and pick ups etc that doesn’t help!

I am hoping come September once the new routine is bedded down some of these elements fall into place but until then I really hope to see out the rest of the summer ‘hashtag making memories’ and just going with the flow while we can…

Childcare Conundrum

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We have just chosen our new childminder for the boys who will be minded in our house on Thursday and Friday afternoons from September.

Getting a childminder was a daunting experience for us as both our boys have been in creche care since a young age and the creche we chose all those years ago has almost always given us all great joy and reassurance. Of course with any relationship, never more so than when it comes to your children we’ve had one or two issues but only small and always resolved with professionalism.

With 6 weeks to go until they both leave we were starting to get ready to say goodbye to the lovely environment and people we have gotten to know through the years. They have been great and cared for our boys so well. You will have seen me refer to the oversight on our and maybe a little on their part that josh didn’t move into Summer Camp when perhaps he should but we all thought we’d come to a resolution and Josh was so excited to be back with his friends. Then it all turned sour… now before I tell this story, I am a big creche advocate and almost more so in a way because of the outcome.

Josh had been very upset the first day he went in, this is a child who adapts well to change and was excited about all the new activities etc so it seemed strange to me. He was inconsolable and didn’t want to go in the next day.. we’ve never had that with him. Even at the beginning he’d cry a bit as kids do but be fine 2 minutes later. This was different.

A few days past and little snippets of information started coming from Josh that raised alarm bells… he wouldn’t return to the class, his behaviour changed at home, night terrors and the days he had school, the crying started the minute he got up. We were communicating regularly with the creche and one incident and name kept coming up with more information coming through from Josh as the days went on. Management knew Josh’s reaction and what we were relaying to them was not right so they investigated further. I got a call in work, the teacher he had mentioned was dismissed with immediate affect. Our brave little boy had been strong enough, in his own way to know right from wrong and communicate it in the best way he could. We listened, the creche listened and action was taken.

It’s not ideal this happened at all, Josh still has issue with going to school now-6 weeks before his change into big school and he is left in the younger class with less stimulation and more cotton wool which is what he needs right now but not for the preparation of junior infants and what that will bring.

We’ve met with the managers and owners of the creche who we have a good relationship with. We got the details, nothing extreme or awful happened but a situation was handled with little or no sensitivity-they deemed it too strict, the teacher didn’t, they agreed to disagree but they felt they could not have someone continue working there who had this approach. It all started over Pokemon cards… it seems to trivial and yet the outcome is a mess we have to clean up and try and settle and solve. We have a plan with them to build his confidence back up and hope he leaves with happy memories of a place that has cared well for him for over 3 years.

It gave me confidence that whilst one person mis handled a situation and as a result upset, embarrassed and compromised our child there were plenty of good people and carers around him that rectified it quickly and validated Josh’s concerns which I think was very important for him to see. It was a hard lesson for us all but what I hope he saw was mean people don’t rise to the top and brave people do.

Summer Lovin…💛

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School is definitely out for summer and lots of changes and fun lie ahead…

In recent weeks, Josh graduated from pre-school, we totally overlooked that he should have moved into the summer camp room with his pals-this is still ongoing with a bit of a confused and upset boy on our hands of late. But the sun has been shining at its best and we have already been on a few adventures.

This summer is a special one, the summer before my first born starts school in September so I have decided to make an album at the end of the summer on all that we did as I think it will be a special memory to have in years to come and this sunshine will certainly help.

I will post what we are going each week to give a few ideas if you need them, I know I do sometimes and hope you find it useful.

So far some things we have loved:

·         We went to Dublin Kite Festival in early June which was a brilliant day out.

·         We’ve had 2 beach visits due to the amazing weather too.

·         Strawberry Picking was definitely a highlight so far.

Handy parks and playgrounds-Hebert Park, Cabinteely Park, Milltown Park, Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Ranelagh Park, Deerpark, Rathfarnham Castle Park is always a good one too.

Other regular activities we love to do is go to the local library-we’ve signed up to their Summer Stars reading for the summer, a visit to Airfield as we are members, up to the Dundrum safari for a run around and maybe an ice cream, a bit of baking and painting, the usual activities and more recently just have water fun in the garden.

It is nice to get out and about too so keep an eye for some of our summer plans over the next few weeks on Instagram. I always gain ideas and insight from others so I think sharing activities is a really handy way to keep everyone busy and ‘sane’ this summer!

Martinhal Memories

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It started with the smell, better described as a scent really…. We had just completed a 3 hour car journey after leaving the rare sunshine and headed into clouds, we’d had a row with the car hire after appalling customer service and none of us had brekkie {rookie error} but when we pulled up at Martinhal all that floated away….

The welcome is just wonderful, bags taken from you-kids given goodie bags and check in easy. Everything is explained and for anything you need to know further the reception/concierge team couldn’t be more helpful.

We had booked the deluxe suite which had a sliding partition. Josh was on the sofa bed and Max in a travel cot. On arrival there was flip flops for both and a mini dressing gown for Josh, complimentary water and 2 nespressos a day! There is a potty, baby bath, toilet step and child toilet seat in the bathrooms and I loved to see they also used voya products. Every night little chocolates were left, our sheets turned down and on our last night a small bottle of port was left for our departure, just lovely.

Then it was time to explore…. we headed to the main kids playground and planned on getting a light lunch in M Bar which overlooks it. The kids club is directly beneath so was also going to introduce the boys into their also. The sun started to peak out so we enjoyed lying around for a while when the boys ran around in delight on the trampoline, zip wire, swings and sand area. Adjacent to this area is a basketball hoop and mini football pitch so lots to do. The indoor kids pool is just behind this area and with big bean bags dotted about its a perfect place to chill for a while as a family.

The only negative was our lunch. We ordered a chicken wrap and chips to share, mini homemade burger for Josh and a homemade meat/veg baby food mix for Max. However it all took over 45 minutes to come, we’d ordered wine and beer in the meantime, the kids were happy playing but we were starving. When it came it was tiny, Josh’s burger was small and dry and Max devoured his purée but for his age more texture should have been considered-he generally would eat what we do but I thought the idea was so good id give it a try. When our food arrived we were not overly impressed based on the standard of the rest of the hotel and the whole bill came to 35 euros which felt expensive for what we got and I left hungry. I think they are missing a trick on their food offering and coffee’s too but it is about the only trick they are missing as everything else is so spot on! And in saying this the breakfast were absolutely amazing so that is a lovely start to the day…

The whole resort is so well thought out, at the back of the hotel the spa area/gym with an indoor and outdoor pool are situated and has a lovely relaxed but luxurious feel. Ideally this would be adults only for when kids go into kids club but kids were playing in the indoor pool as the weather was not ideal and with a hotel that is fully focused on kids that didn’t bother me and we had one child who refused to actually go into kids club..more on that later!

The pool hangout is as cool as it sounds.. a wonderful large pool area with big ‘fatboy’ bean bags & towels at your disposal, a bar area with BBQ food and the best part is the kids pool is shallow and heated. The whole ambience is very family friendly and added to that the kids club came down one of the sunnier days to entertain the kids, as I said everything is thought of!

And last but definitely not least is the amazing kids club they have that is complimentary once they are over 19 months, the baby room carries a small fee. Both my kids go to an excellent crèche part time but I didn’t know what to expect from this and I was pleasantly surprised. It was bright, spotlessly clean and lots of fun toys/areas for kids to enjoy along with the staff being so friendly and engaging. Every morning/afternoon they had an set activity and they also had extra things going on throughout the day. Unfortunately for us Max wouldn’t settle at all but it wasn’t for want of them trying  but Josh loved it and in his time there he coloured, made wool bracelets, has his face painted, did pony trekking, had a party with Rafi and Rosita (the fox mascots) and enjoyed healthy snack time too. He only went in for an hour or two a day but it was great respite for us and he loved the escape too I think 😉

Martinhal is a luxury resort with kids considered every step of the way, a unique offering for travelling parents. It does come at a price but when you have a couple of kids I felt it was justified and coming away I felt we got value for the cost plus there are several room rates available. One additional service we used was Travel Counsellors, the booking, price and payment options was made more seamless by using Travel Counsellors so if you are thinking of booking a holiday I’d really recommend checking in with them before you do!

*just a note to say we paid for our holiday in full, I do know one of the Irish Travel Counsellors reps but if I was booking this style of holiday again I’d jump at using Rob in the future.

Simple Sunday’s

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Some recent posts have been focused on family life and sometimes the imbalance of the ‘trench’ years-we are all living it and loving it most of the time and over the almost 5 years of being a parent I have found in most aspects keeping it ‘simple’ is key. Not overcomplicating things makes it easier for all whether that is food, activities, games, crafting, baking, plans…

After one hell of a couple of weeks it was time to get a routine back, get back to basics and set this next month off on the right foot.

Weeks are so busy, set routines, shopping, working, cooking, cleaning, sleeping-sort of, baths, play, swimming, playball, jobs, more jobs, luas, bus, creche drop, creche collect-the week just flies by but the weekends are for catching up… sleep, family, friends and fun!

Saturdays usually have some plan attached, Josh normally has swimming, me the gym and then we might have one or two things to get done or people we’ve planned to meet… More often than not Sunday’s don’t and more so recently and this works well for us. It’s becoming our sacred family day. Sometimes later in the day Ian might go watch a game or I’ll nip to a perfectly pitched yin yoga class but the day is spent together, usually just the 4 of us. It might be a playground and coffee, it might be a road trip to one of our favourite spots or it might be a slightly more planned visit to something we’ve seen that’s on or somewhere we’ve wanted to visit… it’s usually the best day of the week.

By keeping it simple, not over complicating the day it tends to set the week out better and once the boys are in bed-a good meal, a dose of Netflix and a yummy treat with a cuppa usually sets up the week ahead on the right foot. It’s a formula that works so we just need to stick to it!

If only every Sunday was this sunny it would be an easy one to stick to!