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Guys and Dolls – A review

I got out!!  I was an adult for a whole evening, with other adult company.  And wine.  It was fabulous!

I left work and ambled over to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in the April sunshine.  As I strolled through St. Stephen’s Green, down Kildare Street and up Pearse Street I bord gais theatrewas filled with a bubbling happiness and delight at the anticipation of meeting a good friend for dinner and a show and also the beauty and mood of Dublin.  I am usually rushing somewhere and don’t get to just relax and savour the moment, but there is a lot to savour about Dublin and it just all felt great!

 

We had tickets to see “Guys and Dolls”, but first up we needed to be fed and watered.  You can’t beat Milano for a pre-theatre bite to eat if you’re down around Grand Canal Dock.  Two pizzas and two large glasses of wine were thoroughly enjoyed.  A thumbs up to the 3 mobile network for their 3plus rewards programme that gave us a pleasing 30% discount on our food.

Another honourable mention for the good folks at Bord Gáis Energy Rewards as it was via their reward scheme that I was lucky enough to nab two tickets in the stalls for only €20 each – not much more than the price of a cinema ticket really!

So what can I say about the production itself?  It was fantastic; it sparkled, glittered and brought the audience to their feet.  It’s an oldie and a goodie as musicals go and we are creatures who enjoy familiarity so it’s always nice when you recognise a song.  Luck be a lady tonight, Sit down you’re rocking the boat and other favourites were belted out with zest and enthusiasm.  My friend and I were pleasantly surprised to see the first brunette Adelaide in the role, a welcome change to the stereotypical blonde.

The cast did a fantastic job and their energy was admirable, I only hope they feel they got the response from the audience they deserve.  A special mention for Richard Fleeshman who played Sky Masterson, he managed to cast quite a spell over my friend and I and we were very taken by the charismatic charm of his character.  Quite a theatrical crush was formed…

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So the bottom line is go to see the show if you get a chance, it’s running until Saturday 30th April so don’t hang about!

 

 

 

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Holy Night Terrors Batman

I keep waiting for our sleep deprivation journey to turn a corner, eagerly anticipating the darkness (and sleep) at the end of the tunnel.  And sleep, did I mention sleep?

So you would expect that a change would be welcome!  You would be wrong.  The latest development has seen the introduction of night terrors into our nocturnal routine.

It seems our nights weren’t busy enough what with teething related waking, not wanting to sleep waking and just general “Is it not time to get up yet? waking.  Oh no, clearly we were missing something, and that something has presented itself in a horrifying spectacle of hysterical wailing, thrashing and tears.  And that’s just me.  My fiercely strong willed toddler has taken to, over the last couple of nights, experiencing night terrors.  At first I wasn’t sure if he was in pain (getting his back molars, at 19 months – yay for that..) or what was going on, as the screams were different and he was inconsolable.  He kept screaming for his dodi, while it was in his hand/mouth and nothing could calm him down.  So yesterday I looked into night terrors and it sounded like a match, so I was better armed last night when one erupted around 11pm.  The poor little pet was so distressed, but I could do nothing for him.  I tried to pick him up and calm him, but he fought me tooth and nail.  In the end there was nothing to be done but keep him safe and let it run its course.  When it ended, it ended as abruptly as it started and he curled up and conked out.  Meanwhile my husband and I were left dazed and staring at each other wondering what on earth was going on.

So it turns out that this is normal, he won’t remember it and the best thing to do is not touch him (as it can only distress him more as he can’t actually see me, even if he is calling for me) and just keep it safe and wait for the storm to pass.  It can be brought on by a number of factors like sleep deprivation (and he was already over-exhausted thanks to those teeth), genetics (and with both his parents susceptible to bouts of sleep talking and walking he didn’t stand a chance), disrupted routines and so on.

Like the back molars, the only silver lining on this cloud is that when they stop we are just glad it’s not happening any more.

Is it bedtime yet?

 

 

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Marlay Park Artisan Food Market

A sunny weekend morning spent in the park is fantastic when you have small kids.  A sunny weekend morning spent in a park with an artisan food market in full swing is even better.  Sunshine, space for little legs to race around and gourmet sausage sandwiches – what’s not to like?

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The Artisan Food Market sets up camp each and every weekend morning in the wonderful Marlay Park.  A brief inventory of the stalls selling their wares includes The Corner Bakery, Armelle’s Kitchen, Chilli Chilli Bang Bang, Rocking Rolls, Dave’s Pizza and Twisted Potato Chips to name a few.   The longest and most consistent queue was for the coffee stall, as parents sought their caffeine fix.  

 

It is also touted as a Farmers Market but I think the Artisan Food market label is a better fit.  Farmers Market conjures up images of vegetable stands, fruit sellers and other earthy produce.  Yes, there were a few of those but the overwhelming majority of stalls were selling food to be eaten there and then.  

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My daughter and I shared a gourmet sausage torpedo roll with crispy onions, my husband had a coffee and we rounded it off with the intriguing twisted potato chip.  And no trip to a market would be complete (in my family at least) without some goodies for later, so we indulged in brownies from The Corner Bakery.

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I am sure if the sun wasn’t shining, it wouldn’t have been as pleasant an outing but if the weather is fine, you would be hard pressed to find a better setting for a family trip to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and tasty food.  My five year old enjoyed herself running around with her little brother so much she didn’t mind that we never made it to the playground.  

This review originally appeared as part of this on Nanny Village article on Farmers Markets.

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Bed sharing with a toddler vs those first few nights with a new partner.

As I lay in bed last night (who am I kidding, as I hung on to the edge of the bed precariously and shivered as there wasn’t a square inch of duvet anywhere near me) I thought about how sharing a bed with a toddler is like those first few nights with a new partner.

  1. You wear something you imagine they will find attractive to bed, despite the fact that you might prefer a different nocturnal outfit yourself. However, the sexy undies are banished and fluffy pyjamas that are perfect for little heads to snuggle up against are in.
  2. You are nervous trying to sneak out to use the bathroom during the night. Not because you don’t want to remind them that you’re an actual person who does need to answer the call of nature, but because you are terrified that you will wake the sleeping monster.
  3. You sleep in positions that aren’t all that comfortable. While in the early days of a relationship that might mean keeping up the pretence you like to spoon as you sleep (when in fact you need to have your backs to one another to avoid having someone breathe on you), with a little person in the bed you discover that having feet, a nappy-clad bottom etc. positioned in your face is the norm. And you will put up with it if it means s/he stays asleep.
  4. You ideally want to wake before them and have a chance to get yourself “freshened up” before they see you for the first time that day. These days this means managing to make it to the bathroom to drag a brush through your hair, scrub your teeth and lather on some cream which promises to make you look ten years younger all before the all-demanding tyrant wakes.
  5. You go to bed at the same time and try to fit into their sleep habits. Gone are the nights of marathon book reading and not caring about having the light on. You go to bed together and stay in bed together. With a toddler this doesn’t have the romantic overtures but more to do with grabbing some shut eye when you can. If the toddler will only sleep if I give in and go to bed with him, I will admit to often succumbing and having an earlier night than I had planned. But hey, ultimately it means I get more sleep, as does he. So win-win. And maybe less of that expensive face cream is needed.
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Today I will:

Another day has dawned over Dublin, and I am surprisingly motivated and enthusiastic for a Wednesday.  I am hoping that today will be the day I actually manage to achieve some of the niggly tasks on my “To Do” list that I have successfully managed to avoid for the last while.  I was in the middle of one of the high priority tasks but was inspired to take a break and write a blog post instead, I can’t decide if that’s inspiration or procrastination though…

The radio show I listen to as I drive to work features a segment where listeners call the show to reel off all the things they have to do that day, to demonstrate how busy they are and win a prize.  The differences in the rage of tasks always interests me (especially how the Daddies list “dress children, feed children” etc. while it is just assumed from the mother’s point of view) I thought it might be interesting if people shared their “To Do” lists, some of the quirkier and more interesting chores at least.  And of course the ones that anybody without a small child would turn green at, such as “use cotton ear bud to ensure all traces of poo are removed from the grouting between bathroom floor tiles”.

So without further ado (as I must get back to High Priority Task), here are some of the boxes I hope to tick today, I would be thrilled if someone, anyone commented with their own agendas.

  1. Complete an application form for promotion opportunity in work.  This task has taken on a life of its own and seems like a bigger deal than my college dissertation ever did.
  2. Do the job I am paid to do for 7 hours and 24 minutes a day
  3. Drink delicious hazelnut hot chocolate once the coffee place outside opens at 10am
  4. Beta read a much anticipated young adult novella for a writer friend over lunch and provide feedback
  5. Buy another pack of birthday party invitations, and seeing as I’m alredy in the stationery place some birthday cards and wrapping paper
  6. Pull hair out over application form and consider throwing the towel in (to be fair, I’ve been giving this one a lot of time over the last week)
  7. Make sure husband knows to collect kids from creche.  Remind him a few times and phone his desk to make sure he’s left on time
  8. Go home to the usual evening pandemonium of bags to be unpacked, bags to be repacked, bed made, uniforms dabbed at with baby-wipes, tea prepared, tea picked off the floor, tea wiped from the walls, toddler pressure hosed to remove all snot, food and general dirt, teeth brushed, stories told, cuddles given and monsters scared away.
  9. And relax.
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Missing: The weekend

Missing: the weekend

Last seen: from the distance on Friday

Reported missing: on Monday morning.  As surely it shouldn’t be Monday morning again already?

How is it Monday morning again already?  I struggle with this thought while simultaneously skipping in the door to the office and relishing the prospect of a day surrounded by adults, hot drinks that I drink while still hot and solo trips to the bathroom.

I am very lucky in that I like my job (for the most part), I have flexible working hours so tend to start work at 8am and finish around 4:30 and I also only work 4 days a week – taking Fridays off to be a SAHM for the day.  I take my hat of to full-time SAHM as I just don’t think I’m cut out for it, ideally I’d prefer to work a 3 day week but I know I am lucky to have the arrangement I do already.  Coming to work allows me to flex my adult brain muscles, grown up conversational skills and tweak my coffee and lunch preferences.

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However, the weekends before kids were a different beast and I do miss them.  I don’t think it’s any exaggeration when I state that I come to work for a break.  I suppose perhaps the working week is my new weekend.  I get to drink delicious hazelnut hot chocolate, eat what I choose for lunch, go for a walk around the park if the weather permits, have uninterrupted conversations with other adults and seek sanctuary alone in a bathroom cubicle when I need a moment to myself.  That sounds more like the weekends of yesteryear than the new version.  The new weekend is hectic, messy, chaotic but full of lots of crazy laughter.  And tears, where there’s laugher there will inevitably be tears.  If you sit on a balloon and  bounce on it for too long, it will burst…

The weekend just passed whizzed by in a blur of birthday card making, party invitation writing, library visiting, bike riding, bus spotting, truck appreciating, tile selecting, meal refusing, cracker demanding, wine drinking and gnome painting.  I definitely didn’t fit so much activity into a weekend before kids.

But regardless of how any weekend went, and whether or not I am pleased to be back at my desk, Monday mornings will always suck.  There’s no fancy way to dress it up (unless it’s a bank holiday Monday, in which case the suck-iness will just be delayed a day).  Kids who bounce out of bed at unearthly hours all weekend have to be dragged by the pyjama-d leg out of the warm cocoon of bed.  Clothes that were neatly laid out the previous evening have mysteriously lost socks.  Bags which were carefully pre-packed and arranged are missing vital parts that someone forgot to tell me were vital until we were in the car.

So Monday, I’m ready.  And waiting for the coffee shop across the road to open…

Image by Fowl Language Comics

 

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A simple, family-pleasing dinner

I give a lot of thought to hoping scientists will invent a pill we can swallow that keeps us full and gives everyone the nutrients they need.  A lot of that thinking is done while trying to plan dinner.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating dinner even preparing and cooking it doesn’t bother me and a solo trip to the supermarket is as close to me-time as I get some-days.  But the planning…. Ugh.  I know there are countless downloadable meal chart planners and handy apps that will practically order the ingredients for delivery for your door, but they’re just not my thing.  I’m not the most versatile of eaters and certainly have my preferences, but when you throw kids into the mix (hubby eats whatever is put in front of him) it’s a Gargantuan task to try and put a dinner on the table everyone will enjoy.

The kids love pasta, anything pasta is a firm favourite.  I am not a fan of white creamy sauces and generally prefer to stick to tomato based recipes.  So we have a few options there, but I was worried we’d all turn into bolognese if I didn’t source another plan.

So I decided I’d give macaroni and cheese another go.  Years ago I dutifully followed a recipe and it didn’t end well.  I have since bought a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese from the shop beside my office that stocks US products, and while the others weren’t so keen, I liked it.

If you’re on the other side of the pond (that’s me being very optimistic about readership!) you’ll wonder what on earth I’m talking about, Mac & Cheese is a family staple and is hardly going to revolutionise dinner time in your home!  But here in Ireland, as adults raised on meat and two veg, such a thing was only heard about on American Sitcoms and kids shows.

I tweaked a few recipes I found on-line and have found a winning combination (for my family at least).  It is quick, simple and delicious.  Both the 5 year old and toddler have finished their portions and ASKED FOR MORE!  And even all that was eaten!

mac & cheese

BAKED MACARONI & CHEESE

Ingredients:

250g macaroni pasta (Tesco sell a macaroni shape in their own range but really any pasta shape will do)

200g grated cheese (I have read that using a different mix of cheese gives a better flavour, and the sharper the better.  I have been using bags of mixed grated cheese)

200ml milk

20g butter

20g plain flour

breadcrumbs

salt & black pepper

Method:

  1. Boil the pasta as per instructions (I have used the measurement of 250g but you can amend this to whatever portion size you want).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then stir in the flour to create a paste.
  4. Pour in the milk and bring to a gentle simmering boil.  Leave this for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Some people add mustard powder, but I didn’t have any so can’t comment!
  5. Take the milk mixture off the heat and stir in the cheese – keep a handful aside to top the dish.
  6. When all the cheese has melted in, mix the drained pasta and cheese sauce.
  7. Pour into an oven-proof dish and top with breadcrumbs and cheese (my kids love the crunch top so I overdo this part).
  8. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes, until the top is nice and golden.

And enjoy!  It freezes well too, so I always have some child size portions on hand when some comfort food is needed.

image: http://www.allrecipes.com