Tag Archives: elsewhere

Writing it down

I’ve been guest posting at the new Irish website HerFamily.ie this week – I had a piece there on Monday, Wednesday, and today. They “soft-launch”-ed last week and are having their official launch this week, so I was quite chuffed to be asked to do it.

So that’s why so quiet over here, I mean. The posts over there are new, not published anywhere else, so if you want to read them, please do head on over.

Other than that, I don’t have any editing to do at the moment so I’m trying to write. Like actually as if it were my job, which sadly it’s not, and the trouble with trying to write something as ambitious as a whole – go on, say it – book – is that it’s a front-loaded activity. Nobody pays you until right at the end, years after the end, if you’re very very lucky. Otherwise it’s just a hobby that makes you feel good until you get to all the rejection and then it makes you feel stupid because you wasted all that time.

So I can’t look at it that way. I have to look at it as just putting the words on the page: that’s all I have to do. Just keep moving my fingers until I reach the magic number (which at the moment is 1000 a day, heading for about 60,000 altogether, because this is a sort of tween fiction thing, which doesn’t need to be as long as an adult novel). (Tween fiction, you say, surprised. I didn’t peg you for that, Maud. I’m a little disappointed, Maud. Well, yes, that’s as may be, but this is what grew and this is how it is. I don’t really know who I’m writing for, I’m just writing this story that nuzzled its way out of me, and I’m trying to keep up the momentum.) I’m not the sort of person who says “I have a million ideas!” I mostly have no ideas at all, in spite of all the blathering away I do here and elsewhere, whenever anyone will have me. Give me a writing prompt and I’ll happily spout out some paragraphs, but ask me to make up something from inside my head and you’ll be met with silence. Just ask my children; Daddy makes up good stories, I don’t.

But Daddy, unaccountably, doesn’t seem to want to write stuff down. I don’t understand that, but there you go, apparently some people don’t feel the need to channel everything in their brain onto pages.

And so, when I have a seedling of a notion of a sentence out of nowhere that worms its way into my mind and wants to be written down, which happens once in a blue moon, it gets written down and maybe, just maybe, turned into a short story. And then there was this one short story that I let someone else read, someone who knows about writing, and she said it was good and that I should write more of it. So first I spent a long time mourning the perfect short story that I thought had a lovely beginning middle and end and shouldn’t ever be touched, and I bade goodbye to the unthought, undecided future that I liked so much about it, and then I started writing more. Because, see, as soon as I’ve written it down, then it’s happened, and I can go back and change it but most likely it’ll stay happened, and then the infinity of possibilities are narrowed down to one. Just like life, as your future becomes your present becomes your past.

So I am totally making it up as I go along, and like the Oompa Loompas, I have no idea where it’s going. It has certainly been a long time on the knitting needles of my computer, if I can mix my metaphors, and has a good long time to go; but maybe some day it will get there and I can move one step closer to the fun rejection portion of when you write a book.

But I will have put that many words down, and that will be something. For now, that’s as far ahead as I should look.


I love the Internet.

About a year and a half ago, I stumbled across an Irish parenting blog called “And My Baby” (now defunct). It led me to a Facebook group, quite newly formed, called the Irish Parenting Bloggers. After a little hesitation, I joined the group, happy that they’d have me, considering the way I’m not entirely an Irish blogger (except when I am).

Anyway. That was then. Over the past week, I’ve found myself frantically messaging and writing and editing and giggling and logging in and checking and updating and discussing, and generally marvelling at how amazing the Internet is. Here I was, working, collaborating, with a group of women I’d barely or in some cases never met, on something we hoped could be really big.

We launched it on Tuesday. It’s called Parent.ie. It comes from a team with a dizzying breadth of professional and personal experience, and I’m very proud to call myself one of them. We hope it will be topical, relevant, local, global, intelligent, entertaining, irreverent, thought-provoking, and informative. I’d love to see you over there too.

I write for Parent.ie


I’m busy working on an exciting new venture that will be unveiled at a later point, but in the meantime, Office Mum interviewed me a little while ago, and you can read the results of that over here:

Office Mum stories – Maud of Awfully Chipper

Also, it’s snowing again, and I don’t really want to talk about it.

My little gastronomes

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

“I’ll never cook a separate meal for my children,” I said, back in those innocent days when my firstborn was growing apace, nourished by nothing more than his mama’s milk, as I thought scornfully of other families I’d seen doing just that. “Why should they need different food? Children’s menus are an abomination. He’s going to be a little gastronome.”

I love food. I have a (fairly) healthy and varied diet. I enjoy vegetables, with broccoli right up there at the top of my list, and kale a new entrant not far behind. I enjoy cooking and baking, sweet and savoury. I like to make Indian food, Italian, Tex-Mex. I have eaten Korean and Ethiopian, Mongolian and French. I own a tagine, and I’ve used it too.

My children, I thought loftily, will not suffer as I did at the hands of their grandmother. My mother, a wonderful woman, was not a natural cook. She likes to say that some are born cooks, some achieve cookery, and some – like her – have cookery thrust upon them. She fed me and my father admirably for many years, with wholesome home-cooked food that was often not burned. But my parents come of meat-and-two-veg stock, where one veg is always a potato. “Meat” includes fish (on Fridays), but vegetarian meals are unheard of, unless you’re actually one of those odd people, a vegetarian. “What did the good Lord put animals on the earth for if not for us to eat?” she’ll ask you. I stopped getting into that argument a long time ago.

When I have children, I thought, I’ll cook nice food.

And now I do cook nice food. My husband can vouch for it. He’s a wonderful and appreciative audience. Our kids, however, not so much.

Baby feeding himself peas (maybe)
I don’t think a single pea went in, then or since.

I conveniently forgot that before my foodie-esque incarnation, I was a pretty fussy eater, and it had little or nothing to do with my mother’s cooking: I was just made that way. I still remember the first time I tasted a pea (and swallowed it whole so it would go quicker). I remember putting sugar on raw tomatoes in salads to make them more palatable. I remember picking the chunks of beef out of the sauce of the stew, carefully scraping off any vestige of onion or whatever else might have been there. I remember the day I finally tasted a burger, and I’m pretty sure I was in double digits by then.

My husband too, it turns out, was a picky eater. As number five of five, he probably didn’t encounter much pushback from his parents, who I’m sure had stopped noticing by then. If you didn’t eat it, one of your siblings picked up the slack pretty quickly.

So of course, genetically as well as karmically, we were quite likely to produce a couple of picky eaters between us.

I started out as well as I could with my children. I ate lots of vegetables in my pregnancies. (And a fair number of toasted waffles and chocolate milkshakes too.) I breastfed my kids exclusively for the first six months, and continued well (very well) into “extended” territory. I introduced fruits and vegetables early. I provided them with a variety of attractive options. I read Ellyn Satter.

If my second child had been my first, I would probably describe her as a picky eater. As it is, I’m delighted that she eats a broad range of things: pizza, pasta (one brand only), scrambled eggs (sometimes), cheese (-sticks), baked beans, sausages, chicken (but never in nugget form), apples, strawberries, broccoli, even. (Yay broccoli!) That’s about it, mind you. Nothing with a sauce, nothing mixed together, nothing differently made, at the moment. She’s four. I think that’s how they are.

Small girl with slice of pizza
Healthy meal. That’s not even chocolate milk.

Her big brother, though, is far worse, and subsists on a diet of peanut-butter sandwiches, breakfast cereal, milk, and crackers. He’s a self-proclaimed vegetarian, except that he won’t eat a vegetable. In the past few months we’ve had some steps forward with tiny bites of raw carrot, some apple, a few grapes: these are a big deal for my seven-year-old. (Yes, he’s seven. This has been going on a long time. Even as a baby, when they eat everything, he was resistant to tasting things.)

My son is healthy and growing. He’s rarely sick, and he’s right at the 50th percentile on the growth charts, where he’s been since he was about 9 months old. The doctor encourages him to eat some fruits and vegetables, but beyond that she’s not particularly worried about him.

I have, of course, spent many fruitless (hah) hours obsessing over his diet, coming up with plans and sticker charts, blogging, enquiring, self-flagellating, wheedling, putting my foot down, and generally worrying about all of this – but in the end, I had to accept that eating, like sleeping and pooping, is just one of those things you can’t make someone else do. I cook a nice dinner for the grownups every night, our daughter might eat some of it or something else reasonably decent, and the boy has another peanut butter sandwich.

The good food is in the house. He sees it, he smells it, (he gags and removes himself to the other room), he knows what it’s called. He sometimes even helps cook it. He has no interest in eating it, most of the time, though now and then he announces that he wants to taste, say, lettuce, and I give him a bit and he nibbles it and recoils in horror.

I have taken all my assumptions about how to get children to eat healthy food and tossed them overboard. My son is a smart kid, he loves school, he’s growing and healthy and fast and strong. He eats what he eats, and it sustains him. He’s a pain to take on vacation or out for a meal, but such is life. I have faith that he’ll get around to eating more variety some day, and we’ll let him get there and welcome him with open arms and a full plate when he does.

Just don’t tell my mother he’s a vegetarian. She won’t understand.

Boy eating sliced apple
Then he sat down and ate an entire apple, just like that.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don’t. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn’t mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year – because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she’s not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I’ve Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin’, They Hatin’ — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with “babywearing haters.”
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting “mistakes,” and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids… — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But “doing it right” looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter’s high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children’s needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn’t do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby’s mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, “Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?”
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.
  • How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful Parenting — Theek at The Laotian Commotion somehow ended up like her Tiger Mom, even though she purposely tried for the complete opposite as a peaceful parent.

Agnes, elsewhere

I wrote a teeny piece of flash fiction, once upon a time, and then I sent it to the lovely Carmel Harrington, who just happens to be running a competition for such things right now.


My basket held a packet of pasta shells and a jar of pesto along with the bottle of red, only because it’s polite to keep up the appearance of dinner when you invite a friend over to gossip for the evening. I was about to make an offhand comment to the woman in front of me, but somehow the words changed in my mouth.

‘Holy f*ck, it’s Agnes the Bearded Lady!’

Go here to read the rest, and if you like it, I’ll remind you to vote after June 1st.