Tag Archives: New Year

Good for nothing

With the new year comes the existential angst, apparently. And after that, the smaller-picture, what-am-I-doing, am-I-getting-anywhere angst. So now I’m both worrying about how we’ll sustain our entirely modern-life dependent lifestyle when the apocalypse comes and also what I’ll do when the agent turns me down (or just never comes back to me) and I have to get a real job.

And I have many criteria for a job, at this advanced stage in my life. No Doublemeat Palace for me. (Sorry; we’re re-watching Buffy.) For instance, my requirements include but are not limited to the following:

  • I only want to work when the kids are at school so I don’t have to arrange complicated and expensive childcare.
  • I also have to have enough time and flexibility to do the shopping, bring children to dentist appointments, attend parent-teacher conferences, be able to drop everything if one of them is sick, and not work school holidays because my poor snowflakes can’t be banished to camp all summer.
  • I would like to work from home, because commuting is just wasted time and I am busy and important and need to maximize my synergies. And also leverage them. Going forward.
  • Or I could work very locally, I suppose, if some sort of job would just come and plant itself on my doorstep, figuratively speaking. Somewhere in the radius of between my house and the kids’ schools.
  • I want to use my talents, not just do any old thing. I have many talents: I’m good at baking muffins. I can alphabetize things. I know all the words to many songs and can sing in tune if I’m in the middle of a lot of other people singing the same thing. I can be polite and friendly (if I feel like it) and also write things down clearly. I type fsat and spell good. Also, I am hardworking and efficient, just not at housework.
  • I’m very lazy, so it can’t be too hard. Or too busy. Or at all pressured.
  • But I hate being bored at work because that’s a waste of time. So just busy enough would be ideal. Deadlines stress me out unless I have everything well in hand a good week in advance.
  • A former boss told me never to undervalue myself. So it has to be well paid. More than I’m earning right now, at least. More than I could hypothetically earn working at Starbucks or Target or somewhere. Because hypothetically I could work there any time I wanted.

You get the idea. Part of it is terror at the idea of jumping back into the workforce, part of it is the idea that I’m not qualified for any jobs in the greater Washington DC area, much of it is ennui at the notion of all the arranging that would have to happen in order for me to have a real job, and a whole lot of it is just fear of leaping.

It may be time to leap.

Time’s up

I have very suddenly reached the end of my tether. I have a headache and it’s time for everyone to go back to school. I am now hiding in the spare room, which is full of clothes and dust. The dust is not making me feel better about my tether and the end of it.

Dash has written a play and wants us to perform it. Mabel is demanding food even though we just got back from Ikea where I bought her lunch. We left it too late to go ice skating and I have a headache. I would like

I would like

I would like

I would like it to be less dusty in here. I would like to donate a lot of these clothes. I would like to finally put lining in these curtains and put up the second set before we have guests here this year. I would like to walk around the house with a trash bag and fill it with things I don’t want to be here.

You will have noticed today’s fatal flaw: the vital mistake I made that probably brought all this down on me. I went to IKEA on a Sunday afternoon. I brought with me a child who was much more interested in purchasing a stuffed panda with her saved money than the shelving I was actually looking for. I did not buy shelving. I did buy a large plastic laundry basket to hold toys in her room, which is currently employed as a bath for the panda and not in her room at all. Yet.

This room is very calming, actually, apart from the copious dust. It’s a pale blush shade of pink, but saved from girliness with wood and plain dark colours. The sun is shining on the golden floorboards. The bed is low and just soft enough. I would like to be a guest here, I think.

I cast about for whatever it might be that will make me feel better just now, that will scratch this itch of antsy-ness. I can hear B keeping the children away from me, trying to explain that sometimes I want to be not with them, not getting things for them and doing things under their noses and constant interruptions. It’s hard to understand. They are having trouble processing it. Probably for the first time since the holidays began, a cup of tea and a biscuit is not the answer; though I can’t swear I won’t try it.

This is what the new year does to me: I want things to be clean and empty. I want bare walls and open spaces. I want silence and minimalism and nothing more than the basics.

Which of course explains why I had to go to Ikea and buy more stuff. Stuff to help with my minimalism by corralling things into other things.


Write your own New Year’s blogpost

I’m pretty sure I know how this one goes. You can follow along with me if you like.


Obligatory sentence about how I can’t believe it’s 2015 already, how fast 2014 went, how I still think it’s 2007 at most, and how I must be getting old.

Hilarious demand for my flying car or at least my hover skateboard.

Seriously stated intention to (a) exercise more, and regularly, (b) waste less time on Facebook and related Internetty things, (c) write more things that are not Facebook, Twitter or even blog updates, and (d) eat more vegetables.

Parental aspirations such as (i) limiting screen time, (ii) reinstating nightly family dinners at the table that everyone attends, (iii) ensuring homework is done before rather than after dinner (see i and ii above), and/or making Mabel tidy up her own mess instead of doing it for her.

Wry acknowledgement that very little of that will actually come to fruition, so really what’s the point in starting?

Memorandum to self that Monday is the best day to start anything like this anyway, so until then we’re just putting the intentions in place, not actually doing anything about them.

Picture of tree still up. Promise to do something about that before the weekend’s over, because the sixth is Tuesday and I have a PTA meeting that day.

Something witty to finish it off on an amusing but tender note as we all look ahead with hope and optimism knowing that whatever comes this year, no matter how similar our resolutions look to last year’s, it will all be new and wonderful once again. Witty witty hilarious just lovely.

Imagining the New Year - A blog linkup with The Busy Mama's


14 from ’14

It’s an end-of-year linky! Sadhbh started it, I’m just jumping on the bandwagon. But it seems like the right time for a little look back. 2014 was the year I moved to WordPress and got my very own .com URL for the blog. I still haven’t fixed my linkbacks, but other than that, I’m pretty happy about making the move.

I feel like my blogging took a back seat a little during the year, and I didn’t really gain many new readers; but it was a springboard to other things that I really enjoyed, like the wonderful experience I had working on and writing for Parent.ie (currently on hiatus), which I wouldn’t have missed for anything.

1. Most popular post

Apparently the most popular post of the year was Banana Butterscotch Muffins with a Healthier Twist. This is not because it’s a scandalous exposé of my private life, but probably because I pinned it and it’s the sort of thing that comes up in google searches, so it’s guaranteed a few hits every day.

However the most popular post on a single day was Little Americans, because I used it to audition for Listen To Your Mother and it was linked to from their website. (Or somebody’s website connected with it. I can’t actually figure out exactly where it was now.)

Machine-pitch baseball

2. Favourite post
This is really really hard. These posts are my babies, you know. I can’t just pick one. The best I can do for you is to give you a quick run down of the year in posts.

In January, I wrote about how Avocados remind me of my late mother-in-law.
In February I felt like parenting had given me a particularly thin skin.
In March I got all hilarious and gave you My day in Upworthy headlines.
In April I wrote three paragraphs in search of a theme.
In May I walked out of the mall and thought that it Feels like America. Which should have been obvious, but there you go.
In June I joined Helen’s linky to talk about what I miss when it comes to babies.
In July it was Summer.
But in August we went to Italy where I took quite a lot of photos.
In September, I had thoughts about Mabel starting kindergarten.
In October I looked forward to speaking in the vernacular again: Sure you’re grand.
In November I got to grips with some freelance editing, which was its own brand of tantalizing tedium.
And in December, another linky gave me the opportunity to wax lyrical about Christmas past.

Mabel in classroom

3. Favourite photo
All my favourite photos go on the blog. But I am particularly fond of this one.

Mabel standing in a window

4. Best adventure
Well, we went to Italy. That was pretty good. I also had an adventure of my own when I flew solo to Dublin in November.


5. Favourite craft
This was the year of the knitting, although we did have a brief snow-induced flirtation with elastic band bracelets and melty beads too, and we discovered that real watercolour paper makes all the difference. But knitting was definitely the winner.

long scarf, half knit

6. Favourite food I blogged about
This year I found a new food – beetroot (or just beets, if you’re American). It was a revelation, even if nobody else in the family agreed.

whole roasted peeled beets

Mmm, appetizing

7. Most common theme
I think it was actually “What’s going on with Dash?” between his eating stuff and his reading stuff. There was also some boring “What’s going on with my back?” and of course the usual “I’m Irish on the inside” and lots of Mabel, because where would we be without lots of Mabel?

Boy reading

8. Favourite comment
I don’t have a favourite comment, but I can tell you that Emily and Joanna were my most frequent commenters this year. I love comments, but I love engaging on Facebook and Twitter too, so don’t be afraid to tell me what you think in whatever medium you like best.

9. Favourite celebration
I think it has to be Halloween, even though we obviously had two birthdays and Christmas and Easter as well. Halloween was busy in the best way, and it’s one of the most fun times to live in this neck of the woods.

Many jack-o-lanterns

10. My best move
Easy  – it was getting involved with Parent.ie. I learned a ton about writing and SEO and professionalism and working with people you never meet, and I made some of the best friends I have, and I had a connection with home that is hard to replicate.

11. Best blog moment
I was very happy to get to the finals of the Blog Awards Ireland this year, having been at shortlist stage last year. I monitored the awards ceremony on Twitter and Facebook and apparently it was just like having me at the table because the Twitter feed was coming in on a big screen the whole time. If I’d only known, I’d have worn some mascara too.

Blog Awards Ireland 2014 Finalist badge

12. Favourite thing I wrote somewhere else
I wrote a lot on Parent.ie. I really did. Sometimes it was exhausting thinking of new stuff, and I have to admit that sometimes they were just taking up space more than words I’m really proud of, but I did really like this one, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people: Terrible Truths Nobody Tells You. (These posts are all currently hosted at the Irish Parenting Bloggers‘ site.)

You are beautiful in big yellow letters in a field

photo credit: clarkmaxwell via photopin cc

13. My favourite title
I think I’ll choose Angels in the architecture/Spinning in infinity because I didn’t even write it and it has been one of my favourite lines for a very long time.

14.  What my blog did for me in 2014
Don’t laugh, okay, but I think what happened this year was that I started to think of myself as a creative person for the first time ever. I’d always put the word “creative” in a box with the word “artistic”, and neither of those things applied to me. But between one thing and another, my definitions are breaking down and softening up and it’s just possible that I’m allowed to be creative after all.

Framed photo of ice on blossom

External validation is good too. Remember I won a blue ribbon?


Where Wishes come From


I have plans. Audacious plans.

I want to audition for Listen To Your Mother this year. I don’t have to get in, I just want to get as far as auditioning. I don’t have any clue what to read, but I’ll figure that out later.

I want to finish this thing (not this thing – it’s longer than a blog post) I’m trying to write, and then I want to do something with it. Something more than sitting on it or leaving it under the bed or not actually finishing it.

I am seriously – seriously, I say – considering moving this whole blog to WordPress and actually going self-hosted, like a grownup blogger.

Is that enough for you? What are you planning for 2014?

Children with ballooon

Round ’em up

More than once lately, Dash has done something and then turned to me and remarked, “That was pretty resourceful of me, wasn’t it?”

Before that time I said it two weeks ago, the R word wasn’t even on his radar; now, his entire self-image has been tweaked, just slightly, to include the word “resourceful” as something he can be – and he’s looking for ways to make it come true. That’s a pretty impressive indictment of how our words can shape our children for good or otherwise.


This does not change the fact that he’s been wandering around like a lost soul since we got home an hour ago, asking me and his father what he can do, because he has no way of entertaining himself without a TV. (We still have a TV. For some reason he’d forgotten about it and until five minutes ago, when I finally cracked, I was managing not to remind him.) This is the curse of the extrovert child.


It’s still New Year’s Eve here, even though the clock has ticked past the twelve in other places. But I think I’m still allowed to do some sort of year’s round-up – so here goes.

I have 198 published posts from this year. I took part in three blog marches and a virtual baby shower with the Irish Parenting Bloggers, and participated in two Carnivals of Natural Parenting. Posts of mine were both featured on and syndicated by BlogHer. I started Tweeting. I was shortlisted for a Blog Award Ireland. I wrote less here than the previous two years, but I started to think of myself as a writer in a way that I hadn’t before.

We will see where that takes me in 2014.

Happy new year, everyone, and thanks for being here.

Dash and Mabel

Lower your expectations

My ambitions for this week are not so lofty as most people’s, I think.

You may be training for a 5k or a triathlon, eating paleo or wheat-free, or implementing all sorts of wonderful screen-free, eating-at-the-table rules in your house, and maybe I thought I would be too, but actually I’m just trying to keep us all on an even keel as body clocks return to normal. Since B decided to add an extra three hours to his jetlag by heading to California for a three-day conference on Sunday afternoon, I get both the bedtime and waking-up ends of the messed-up-sleep stick, which strikes me as a little unfair. The fact that his hotel room was upgraded so that now he has an ocean view and can see the Queen Mary liner from his pillow-top mattress with plush down comforter is just rubbing salt into it.

Tomorrow, I lie in, is what I’m saying. No matter who’s stealing whose markers or hiding whose Barbies or pulling down whose pants.

[At some point while we were away my children discovered the delight of the moon. Not the celestial orb, you understand, but the fact that you could pull down your pants and wiggle your backside at someone and it would be the most hilarious thing ever invented. I hope this is over soon. Maybe in ten years, if I’m lucky.]

So we are unpacked, the laundry is under control, the kitchen is clean(ish), and I have baked and given away most of half a batch of peanutbutter cookies, but other than that chaos reigns. It doesn’t matter: sleep is a priority, and getting everyone back to square one is the vital thing.

I’m sure I’ll get round to training for the 5k and overhauling my diet next week.


Carr’s Cheese Melts are either mankind’s greatest invention or the item that will lead to the fall of civilization. I haven’t decided which yet, but in the meantime I seem to be mainlining them like they’re going out of fashion. I shall blame my sister-in-law, since it’s her kitchen I’m sitting in, and therefore her crackers I’m bogarting.

I was feeling very noncommital about the whole new year’s thing yesterday. I’ve really only got used to it being 2012, and now I’m expected to remember a whole new number? That’s a bit demanding, for a woman who can probably tell you either what day it is or what date, but never both at the same time. I wasn’t really getting into the spirit of the year-in-review thing or the looking-forward thing. I decided it was just another day.

However, with no particular sense of resolution, I have just submitted a tiny piece to the newspaper (and had it accepted) and signed up for a writing workshop. That seems quite motivated, somehow. Maybe it’s subliminal.

Meanwhile, as we sat in McDonald’s* this afternoon savouring the guilt-free taste of pure bribery, I asked the children if they’d made any resolutions. Then I had to explain what resolutions were, which ended up something like this:

Me: … and so, sometimes people decide to try to change something in the new year, to make themselves a better person.

Dash, a little confused: But Mummy, I’m already a great person.

Once we got past that, they were all gung-ho about things they could do. Dash plans to try pasta again (again? he swears he used to eat it, but I know very well it has never passed his lips) and to read more books. Mabel is going to do more sit-ups (um?), eat carrots, and not scratch or bite her brother.

That final item didn’t last the day, but maybe something will stick, some time. I find that going back after a trip away is often a good time to instigate a new rule, so maybe next week will find us all eating dinner in the kitchen instead of in front of the TV. That would certainly be a start.

Now, if I can just get the last of these cheese melts out of the way, I will also resolve to start running again.

*McDonald’s in Ireland has bendy straws. And I’m sure the food is much less unhealthy than it is in America.