This blog is a finished product, two years of memories. These posts are now going to the next stage of becoming keepsake books for my daughters.

I'm still blogging at The Irish Rhymes & Joanna's Little Shop.

Thank you so much to everyone who was on this journey with me.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Holly tells a tale

When I was expecting Holly there was a John Lewis Christmas ad. that had Sadie enthralled. The Ellie Goulding version of Elton John's Your Song that it contained made Sadie stop in her tracks. I had tried in vain to interest her in the TV but that ad and the one were all she had eyes for. 

Sadie and Holly
I print our photos and keep them in albums that the girls adore looking through and recounting events that they couldn't possibly remember. They will choose an album and then bundle into our bed and tell each other the stories that they associate with the photos. They know just by looking at the first photo in an album what period is covered by it so they know which ones contain Sadie-only pictures which Holly will explain as the albums "from when I was in Mammy's eye" (She's paraphrasing me telling her she was only a twinkle in my eye).
Sadie not eating berries at one week old
The first photo of Sadie out in her buggy on our road is one of my favourite shots, there are blackberries on briars behind her. Holly likes to tell Sadie that this photo is of Sadie out eating all the berries in the fields. 
Holly in the ICU
Her own favourite photo is described by her thus: "Here's the photo of when I was a nalien" (a nalien=an alien) and it's from the week she spent in the neo-natal ICU when she was born. 

When I started this blog Holly couldn't even walk yet and now she calls her big sister to sit up with her for a story, opens a photo album and has a look inside the cover and begins by telling Sadie, "this is a story about a baby called you." What a joy to listen to the two of them explaining adventures to each other that they were never on, recounting the time they were up in the mountains in the snow (they weren't, Martin was) and arguing with each other about specific details of events they weren't at. 


So, Sadie and Holly. This is it, this is your song. It's a blog about babies called you.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Sadie saves Stick Man

Since I last posted about the area of our garden that I was making into its own space Sadie has made me look at it with new eyes. We are very lucky to be surrounded by land owned by our neighbours who let Martin go in whenever he wants and cut wood for the fire. Mostly, there are so many branches on the ground or rotten that he doesn't even do any cutting there, he just throws them over our fence and does the chopping here.

You can imagine that this means that no-one in this house takes any notice of the blocks in the yard or by the fire. No-one except Sadie. She recently screamed as I reached for a block and asked me not to put Stick Man in the fire.

On closer inspection I could see the resemblance between the log and Stick Man of Julia Donaldson's book fame. We saved Stick Man and it started a process of inspecting all future loads of timber that came over the fence. So far, we have what Sadie called "a dog wagging its tail and looking backwards", a snake that Holly called "Cobra the cobra," a dinosaur and a number of stumps, some with really nice detail. We love our new hobby and it has kept me outdoors during the dark winter days, even in the rain. I highly recommend keeping up with whatever bit of gardening you can find to do in the winter, when you do you get to enjoy the changing seasons and notice the smallest of changes. We got another pile of farmyard manure before Christmas and have all our vegetable beds covered in the stuff now and ready for action!

I have had to move quickly between garden projects so I can keep an eye on my husand because Martin wants to chop the wood, I want to reclaim the more architectural-looking pieces and Sadie is always on the lookout for new stick people.

The rows of gryselinia on either side of the seating section look far better in reality. I made the side entrance by forming a raised bed and planting either side of it and making a step in the middle.

 This update doesn't show how great my little area looks, I know I've said this before but I am insistent that plants do not show up well in (my) photos. Also, the hawthorn and forsythia are bare right now which doesn't help. If I could urge anyone trying to add to an outdoor space to buy anything it would be ivy. Just two cheap plants will keep reproducing so you can split them again and again. Ivy is robust and looks wonderful hanging over the edge of pots for year-round interest.

Left: The head of the dinosaur / Right: The dinosaur is nearly
as tall as me! And you can see the snake
The dinosaur branch is shaped like an 'L' so I was able to dig deep and bury the other part of it.
The snake and a close-up head shot!

Left: We repurposed our old satellite dish as a bird-bath.
We have two others but the shallowness of the satellite dish makes it
the most popular / Right: The looking-backwards dog
 Left: Stumps make brilliant stands / Middle:  I adore the detail on this stump  / Right: The entrance to the space from the other side

I have started on the next area. To date, I haven't spent a penny on any of this, I'm hoping to continue in the same vein. 

All the little bits of effort have come together in a very satisfactory way, I'm thrilled with how it's turning out. My starting point was a thought that I'd like a 'room' outside the kitchen that I could sit in and enjoy while being screened from all the mess around us that will take us ages to sort out. The second aim was to have it be beautiful so I could enjoy the view even when the weather didn't allow me to go out. Success on both counts and, as things grow, it will get better again. Thank you to Stick Man and Sadie. Oh, and thanks Martin, sorry we keep stealing the timber, it's an occupational hazard you're going to have to learn to live with!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Martin gets a surprise

"Aw, I love the fairy dust in your hair, Dad" is what Holly said to Martin last week after he shaved his head. She stroked his head, fascinated by what looked like glitter to her but was in fact grey stubble.

As if Martin needed any reminders of his getting older Sadie has been running a campaign since before Christmas for the best birthday ever for her dad. I'm impressed at how Sadie and Holly have got to grips with what comes when in the year. As soon as Hallowe'en was over they insisted the Christmas tree be put up. As soon as it was up Sadie made sure we all knew there'd be no presents under it until Holly's birthday was over. As soon as Holly's birthday was over Sadie kept us informed at all times of the whereabouts of the Christmas stockings and made sure we knew they had to be hung on Christmas Eve. As soon as Christmas was over Sadie told us that there was going to be a new year and then it would be Daddy's birthday, that we'd need two cakes, one for Daddy and one for her and that there would be a party.

As it turned out we moved Martin's birthday because we were busy on the actual day. We let Sadie
Gathering supplies at their
cousin's party
know it would be on the Saturday. Sadie and Holly's cousin, Ethan, had a birthday party on the Friday and we went along. I didn't realise at the time that Sadie was there on a mission. She liberated all the balloons, streamers, blowers and hats and said to her aunt that she needed them for her dad's party the next day.

The next day Sadie had her self-defence class in the morning. She had told us that after her class we'd be going to get the party stuff. She must have felt she didn't get enough from her cousin's party: She got a banner and party hats (Hello Kitty ones to add to the haul from the day before), Hula Hoops and jellies, a big cake for Martin and two small yellow cakes for her and Holly. She told me that we'd tell Daddy to stay in the living room so we could get the kitchen ready and that I was to let her choose CDs for the dancing after. She and Holly made cards for Martin before they'd let me light the candles and call him in for his 'surprise'....Martin said it was his first ever birthday party!

Just when I was sitting down Sadie said that we'd have to get Daddy's choice of takeaway and I was dispatched to get Chinese. I was absolutely exhausted.

Well, she did it, everything she had planned for so long for her dad's birthday. I've learned a couple of things from her: If you're planning a party try to go to one the day before so you'll get free supplies and if you're getting a birthday cake for someone it's no harm to get one for yourself too.

And I've learned something from Holly: See the fairy dust, not the grey.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Sadie makes a case

Christmas 2013 brought wonder to our home. Sadie was fascinated by the idea of Santa and spent Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve with the curtains in her room open so she could watch out for the sleigh. I felt so grateful that Martin had persisted with his intention of bringing Christmas alive for our children because they wouldn't have enjoyed it in the same way if it was left up to me. I had the Christmas tree back in the attic on the 27th and I know for sure now that that is the last time I'll get away with it. There were tears from the girls, it'll definitely be three against one next year.
Sadie and Holly did well out of Santa, everything they wanted and more besides. Immediately bits of things were lost and there was crying and endless searching. When Sadie's looking for something and you ask her for details like where she had it last or what she was doing with it she always gives the same answer: "Well, it was here a minute ago and there it was." We thought this was funny the first few times but now it's infuriating. Sadie always has a clever, if totally unhelpful answer. As it turned out their Aunty Rose's and Nana's presents trumped Santa's gifts and weren't left out of sight long enough to get lost too often: My mam made up for her previous error of judgement (a gift that was loved here but not by me!) by giving sets of magnetic dressing and Rose added teddy unicorns to our collection of soft toys. The girls like to change the dolls' clothes all the time but Holly always puts the same outfit on hers!

 The Magnetic Dressing dolls and the giant-eyed unicorns 

The unicorns have to go everywhere and do everything and they, apparently, also need their own cutlery at the table and prefer bowls to plates. Roly Mo and Scooby Doo have been left by the wayside since their arrival.

My dream is to suddenly become part of a musical. I love Christmas for the old reliables and I watch Oklahoma, Scrooge, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, The Sound Of Music and the rest while singing along and imagining that the next day I'm in Dunnes in Dungarvan everyone will suddenly start to sing and dance in time and the cashiers will hoist themselves up on the counters to twirl their legs in the air and then, just as suddenly, we'll all be back to normal again and pretending we hadn't just been dancing and singing. I reckon Sadie and Holly will be musicals fans too (but pleeeease, Holly, can you stop regaling everyone with your version of Walking In The Air in which you sing, "we're farting in the air". I understand you were encouraged by your Uncle Francis's reaction but I'm begging you to stop, that woman in the petrol station who asked you if Santa came was not ready for it and changing to "we're pooing in the air" when she looked confused really did not help the situation) and there's also no doubt about them loving the Indiana Jones films as much as me because certain scenes were replayed with Lego men, the dry-sand-not-quick-sand from The Last Crusade being a firm favourite.  Sadie's explanation of "but they need sand to get stuck" didn't impress me as I cleared up the styrofoam bits that had been scraped to make a pit. I thought I had my own private viewing of It's A Wonderful Life in the bag on Christmas morning when there was no sound of anyone stirring as it started but two excited girls came racing up the hall when it was only five minutes in. I did see the wonderful end of it though at which point Sadie asked me if the TV had gone grey. Black and white movies haven't featured regularly enough here for them to play without being noticed.

One thing that the sisters have become addicted to since being up that bit later over Christmas is the lotto, they absolutely adore watching the balls being picked and trying to see the numbers and shout them out (they guess the double-digit ones) before the presenter does. On one such occasion Sadie was close to the TV, holding her unicorn out to watch it too. I asked her to move out of the way and said the TV would hurt her eyes if she stayed that close. She turned around to me and said, "it's OK, unicorns have giant eyes."

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sadie and Holly send Happy New Year wishes

We don't send Christmas cards. Well, Sadie and Holly send a handful of homemade ones to the people they want to get a Christmas card and a New Year's one! We found great inspiration on this post over at Wonderful Wagon and made a few of these:

We do a New Year photo of Sadie and Holly every year and send it to our friends and relatives. I split the back of the photo like a postcard, write the greeting on one side and put the address on the other and then laminate them.

Normally, they're put in the post on Christmas Eve so that they will arrive at the perfect time for wishing everyone a happy new year. I sent them early this year because I had them ready, I was convinced the ESB employees were going to strike so I had them printed and written up, laminated and stamped way too early...Also, we have a million tins of peas and beans and stacks of batteries in store!

I don't know how long we'll do this for. I think it's a great way to keep in touch with people who don't see the girls but even this year Sadie asked me why Martin and I weren't in the photo so I suppose we'll just have to see each year if the children decide to go ahead with it or not.

Here's what we've sent since Sadie's arrival in 2009 including your Happy New Year 2014 postcard, I hope it's a good one for you all!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

I take advantage

Sadie and Holly went to a Christmas party hosted by my cousin, Máire, recently. As if the woman doesn't have enough nieces and nephews of her own to be paying for my two got to go too. They remembered going last year and both said they were very excited about seeing Jenny who is exactly a month older than Holly. Whether it's a Lego figure, a little timber person, a doll or a picture if it has yellow hair Holly always calls it Jenny! The funny thing is that Holly has blonde hair too but she never calls any of them Holly.

Their VIP passes covered their entrance fee and food at an indoor play area, a meetup with their relatives, a visit to Santa (aka their second-cousin, Daniel) and his elf (aka their second-cousin, Ciara) and a present from Santa and a surprise from Máire's magic bag. I can't disclose the secrets of the magic bag, I hope you understand!

As I am accustomed to visiting play areas I arrived equipped with my little slippers and assumed I would do as I always do in such circumstances, try to watch my two like a hawk and freak out every time I lost track of one.

There was no time for being so alert though since I spent the entire time chatting and sipping  cappuccino. Total advantage was taken of Ciara, her friend and Daniel who did the lion's share of the watching, minding, being bashed in the head with foam balls, pulled in every direction, nearly maimed by the sharp tails of the plastic dinosaurs that Sadie and Holly kept with them the whole time, bounced on and screeched at. I admit that the teenagers were exploited but I had a great time! I realise the whole point was for the children to enjoy themselves and there's no doubt that they did  but I expected that they would. I hadn't expected that I'd ever leave one of those play zones feeling like I'd been to a spa... Happy Christmas to me!