Gorging on Netflix


It's the only way to describe my relationship with Netflix for the past couple of months. Almost monogamous.

I wouldn't be gorging like those lucky b*stards who can stay up all night watching their favourite film trilogy with only toilet breaks to mark the passage of time. Nope. But I'm struggling to find an excuse to buy a weekly paper now that I don't need the TV section any more...

Life is busy and full of appointments and schedules and phone calls that make normal TV watching almost impossible. Talk radio can be annoying and depressing. And just when I needed it most Netflix came up with a selection of programmes just for me. Perhaps this internet data collection thing works better than I thought! And here's how:

Grace and Frankie

Okay so I'm the wrong side of 50, but not quite as old as the stars of this new Netflix show. Yet Grace and Frankie grabbed me from the first scene, helped by watchable stellar superstars like Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen playing lead roles. It's a break up story with a few twists, a lot of clich├ęs, and laugh out loud moments. It's comforting telly: I'm not expecting any grisly murder scenes or desperate dilemmas. It also features a 78 year old woman playing a 70 year old. Now that is cool.

Colonised by shoes

Most toys are gone,

(with just a few for Smiley)

I like things spare and clear,

Calm space is what I need.

My children do not mind.

In the door they come,

And off the shoes they go.

Once abandoned or flung, I have taught them well.

Reasons to be cheerful 28.5.15

Calm is returning with the start of the secondary school summer holidays. The pressure is less, though I will need to offer lots of attractive alternatives to video games over the next three months. At the same time I must keep stomping on all those thoughts about how I think the summer should go. You know what I mean. Normal stuff: family outings, sport, fun in the sun, beach days, picnics, meet ups with friends, even holidays. So I'd say that reasons to be cheerful will be an absolute must for the next while! But I'm determined that this year I will focus on what we can do as a family, not on what we can't.

Here's what I came up with for this week:


Best therapy ever for when you can't leave the house but need a sweet treat. During the last seven days I made BrowniesAfghans and white chocolate cheesecake with strawberries and an Oreo crust. It was a small flat cheesecake, because there was only Smiley and I to eat it, but still delicious.

The recipe needs a bit of tweaking, and then I *may* blog about it when it's absolutely perfect...

Let's end all violence in families

Violence is wrong, right? And violence against children is always wrong. I certainly think so. But making smacking illegal will not miraculously make everything right for all children and their families.

Sweden was the first country in the world to ban all forms of corporal punishment of children, and while it hasn't solved everything, most children have benefited. Ireland is under pressure to follow suit, now that the European Committee of Social Rights has found that we have violated a European charter by not banning all corporal punishment.

I am fully in support of this, especially as being chased up the stairs and walloped - more than once - is the only miserable memory from an otherwise glorious childhood. It didn't teach me anything, it just left me feeling angry, resentful and unloved. I don't blame my parents: I now suspect that I was quite a challenging child to rear and they knew no other way to discipline me. But I vowed not to slap or hit my own children.

How the marriage referendum affects me and mine

You'd become a millionaire if you could bottle the joy and pride of the past few days as we watched waves of young people arriving home to Ireland from around the world to vote in a referendum about extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to the LGBT community, followed by the excitement of the count as it became clear shortly after the boxes were opened that this could be a life-changing result for thousands of people. I am so delighted that putting a simple X in a box is going to make so many people so happy.

But I have a confession to make.

Over the past few weeks the campaign for the marriage referendum has been impossible to escape, on radio, TV, social media, posters. It was everywhere, and I was beset with a number of conflicting feelings about it. Not all of them noble.

Farewell to College

The big happy smile said it all. Finally the exams were over. The weeks and months of stress, tears, frustration and boredom. If all goes well Angel will never need to sit another exam again, at least not for a College course.

For me it's been a chance to briefly reclaim my motherhood hat before my eldest heads out into the wider world. I've been working hard to help her. Everything possible was done to keep life at home as calm as possible. Each day I watched and weighed how the studying was going. Offered cups of tea - not so many as to be annoying, but enough to show I cared. Random treats were added to the supermarket trolley. Anyone for Battenberg? Trips arranged to the cinema and the hairdressers, to break up the studying schedule.

There was lots of encouraging and listening. The proper kind, where you stop everything and give your child your full attention.

Reasons to be Cheerful 21.5.15

Just typing this will probably jinx it, but I'm glad to report that my children are pretty happy right now.

Smiley woke me at 5am this morning with her giggles, and all she wanted was company, until her home help arrived. So I obliged. It's no hardship chatting to your daughter (even if she is non-verbal), drinking coffee and watching a summer sunrise.

Angel is counting down the hours until she finishes her final college exam tomorrow. She can't wait to join the adult world, get a real job and start to make a difference to the lives of others.

I'm not supposed to tell you about my son, but let's just say that last week we took a big decision together and made an important change to his life. And it's looking good so far.

Things I've never done

A little bit of light relief, badly needed right now, thanks to a great idea from Jo at Ojo's World who realised how many things she has never done. Things that other people think are a normal part of life.

My rubbish memory means that some of you may be able to tell me that I'm wrong, but as far as I know, I have never done any of these...

Stop the silence, it's Time to Talk

It was like a grey cloud that grew as it passed over the last sunny days of my childhood. The anxiety that began to gnaw away at my insides, my tummy aching with the pain of it. The changes of puberty, the bullying that began once looks became more important than test results, fitting in more important than standing out.

But I wanted it all. I craved success, and I needed to be accepted too. Where once I was embarrassingly self confident, I now made endless lists of everything that was wrong with me. And struggled in those pre-internet days to work out solutions. For a year or so, I had no real friends. Gradually that changed and we whispered and chatted and tried to laugh about all the strange things that happen in teen land. To our bodies, to our interests, to our school life. But some things I didn't tell. I don't know why. All I knew was that sometimes I had to do something to stop the overwhelming feelings of panic and sadness, about a social mistake, another bodily change to be tamed somehow, or worst of all, another exam. I would lie awake at night until everyone was asleep, my heart pounding. Then creep downstairs and open the drawer in the kitchen, to do the one thing that I thought would deaden my feelings.

A FIVE year wait for adult disability services? (Part 5)

That is what my daughter may be facing.

As I wrote previously here, here, here and here, it is impossible to say who is at fault, but clearly there is a lack of interest in this area and no adequate planning for school leavers with disabilities and special needs.

The letter from the Irish Health Service said it all:

The organisations "are continuing to work closely together to provide whatever service is feasible in the short term and are developing a medium term plan in relation to premises and providing a 5 day service."

Apparently medium term can mean anything from one to five years.

The empty museum and why you should visit

The good thing about an unplanned spell of home education is that it gives you chance to visit all the places in your home town (can I call Dublin that now please?) that you haven't been to yet. After 25 years there are still a large number on my target list, and it's not just me either.

Today I suggested Collins Barracks, for no reason except that the name popped into my head. I had a feeling that it was about history and war, which would normally be interesting to a 14 year old, but not necessarily my son. I needn't have worried. The first sign we saw was this:

The Lunajack walk

So Lunajack is not one of those villages with a crazy name, no it's a way of walking. A style that owes a lot to two of this family's favourite film characters. And my son and I were doing lots of lunajack walking today as we stepped and stumbled, swayed and slid over the rocks around the headland at Rush in North County Dublin, where I brought him to do a little gentle home educating. Except it was quite strenuous, as my calves could tell you. The reason for the rock scramble was that we spotted a Martello tower and my son wanted to visit it. But we couldn't find an entrance from the road, so we decided to try and gain access from the beach.

As we walked, the beach turned to rock and our path grew challenging.
I dug deep and managed to bring forth nuggets of information about the carpet of shells and the striking rock formations that barred our way. As well as the flowers. And I thought I'd forgotten it all!

The ups and downs of elections

Once again the trees are going up in North Dublin, a sure sign that an election is imminent. Even the newspapers agree with me. I must be a very special person, because this is the second time that a tree has been planted outside my house in the run up to an election. The other one died, along with the promises of the Government that other people elected. At least I could believe in some of the promises.

Not so when I look across the water to the UK. I've never seen my country of birth so divided. I've never felt so down about an election result, with the prospect of the destruction of what is left of the welfare, education and health services. There was a smell of fear on social media from so many friends who wonder will they join the swelling ranks of those who die as a result of Tory austerity policies. The response quickly turned to anger and action, some ill advised, but there could be a lot more of the same. You can only push people so far.

Reasons to be cheerful 7.5.15

One day I will come on here and say that my life is now perfect and I don't need reasons to be cheerful any more, but it is not this day it hasn't happened yet.

After a bank holiday weekend mostly stuck in the house, I've been organising more treats for myself, helped by a little insomnia. I feel like shaking things up, but will I have the nerve?

The chop

I've booked a haircut, which will probably end up as a trim, but I am tempted to go for a new look. Now all I need are some good ideas...

On begging for services

This is part four of a planned series of posts about our experience of the transition from special school to adult disability services for my middle daughter who finishes school this year. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Is this what I will have to do next?

Two months have passed and very little has happened. Still no premises, still no place for Smiley once school ends in June.

I am networking with other parents in a similar situation and we are sharing information and issuing stories through social media. One of the national papers is interested in writing a feature on the situation facing young school leavers, but no parent seems interested in being interviewed. That includes me. But maybe I need to consider it.

Bloggers, blogs and blogging

Some blogging reasons to be cheerful this week. About bloggers, blogs and blogging...


Let's face it, I'm an old-fashioned blogger. Almost a veteran. But I rarely write about blogging, because there are so many experts out there already. And then the blog awards happened.

That's the new Irish Parenting Blog Awards, and very good they were too. The whole process was well organised and stress-free (no begging for votes required) and the awards night itself was superb. I popped in for an hour as I was nominated for three awards and I hoped to catch up with some of the friends I've made over the past number of years, though I felt a little out of place among the young, glamorous, stylish, talented women (and a few men) who filled the room. I was thrilled to see some of my favourite bloggers become winners, and only sad that there wasn't a teapot for everyone in the room and at home. Yes, you read that correctly, the winners each went home with a fabulous and specially designed teapot from the amazing Colorines Wonderful.