Friday, 24 October 2014

The Night of 1000 Feasts

I am really excited about this upcoming weekend because I have been lucky enough to have been invited to a major celebration in Kilkenny on Sunday October 26th which will see people in hundreds of homes in the City and County cooking up a storm and throwing open their doors for a mouth-watering Night of 1000 Feasts, as part of the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

I am ready, mouth duly watered to join them!

I will be attending a series of talks, demonstrations and tastings in Kilkenny City and I'll also be taking a visit to Thomastown, a picturesque village 18km outside the city, which was recently awarded the title Town of Food for a food and craft trail. (Seriously, I'm going to have to be rolled home.)

Town of Food is a community led initiative aimed at promoting Kilkenny as an important food destination. It aims to support the production and promotion of local, quality food ingredients and to develop an educational food hub to attract professional and amateur cookery students.

Under the EU Rural Development Programme, LEADER will provide funding to Town of Food of up to €750,000 for Building works, marketing and training to the end of 2015. In order to access this grant, Town of Food must raise €182,000 in ‘matched funding’ through donations, fundraising and sponsorship. The Night of 1000 Feasts will hopefully raise this much needed funding.

It's the perfect time of year to host such a wonderful event. The end of the harvest season has come and there is an abundance of food. As we slide into the darker half of the year and hibernation it makes sense for us to make our own light by feasting and making merry. I am ALL for making merry as you well know! 

The long weekend can't come quickly enough. I'm getting hungrier and hungrier the more I think about it!

I'll be using the hashtag #1000Feasts while I'm there so you can follow along on Twitter and Instagram and get a digital 'flavour' of all the wonderful produce and products Co. Kilkenny has to offer. Make sure to keep an eye on my Facebook page too as I'm sure I'll be popping in there to say hi too.

Many thanks to Green and Vibrant for the invitation, I can't wait!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Halloween Plans

Halloween is fast approaching and I feel a little bit behind in terms of being organised this year. The girls have been making Halloween crafts of some description in preschool which they are very excited to show me when they get to bring home their art folders, before the mid-term break. They are also full of chat about what they are dressing up as, which is wonderful and all, but they keep changing their minds every five minutes. I think all decisions will be made very last minute and cobbled together out of whatever we have around the house. Which is probably how it should be.

Despite my grand plans to make her a Batgirl costume (well, a cape, at the very least) Sábha seems to have lost interest in that idea and now wants to be a bat. Or a cat. Or a witch like last year. Or a pumpkin. Or whatever costume she sees in shop windows on any given day. 

Lile will, most likely, be a princess (again). Or a cat. Or a princess cat. That girl knows what she likes.

Halloween 2013
I have grand plans of cracking open the craft stash and getting creative with the girls, but I know that realistically I'd be better holding off until the midterm break when we're bound to be trapped indoors due to inclement weather and I'll have to find something to entertain them. I have a few new 'spooky' ideas but I will definitely be revisiting some of last years crafts too.

Here's another few things I've discovered over the last few days that are on my mind to try:
  • I really want to try out Dr. How's Glowing Monster Slime recipe. I think the girls would really enjoy it. It looks very cool. I'd also love to try out her fake blood recipes, but I might have to figure out a substitute for the peanut butter as Sábha is allergic to it!
  • I think this adorable Unicorn costume would be handy enough to put together at the last minute and I know Sábha would love it. So I have this idea in reserve and all I'll have to do is scale up one part of my felt unicorn pattern!
  • I owe a few people some snail mail and I'm super-inspired by this gorgeous Halloween Happy Mail. I'd love to be able to create such pretty post!
  • These Woodland Creature Masks deserve a mention because they are so lovely. And there's a fox included. I think I might like to make these anyway, to keep in the dress-up box.
  • I've spotted (and maybe sampled) Báirín Breac in the shops, but I'm always on the lookout for recipes to try at home. I do have a version I've made a few times with great success (which I'll share if you're interested!) but I might just give this version a try too.

Oh! I should also mention that I wrote a piece for the popular MyKidstime site recently, which I'm thrilled with the response to. Do stop by and have a look at my 5 Spookishly Simple Halloween Crafts if you are in need of something fun to do over the mid-term break. 

I have another 'spookishly simple' project I'm dying to put together over the next few days, so make sure to check back and see if I've gotten around to it!

Are you all set for Halloween? Or are you like me - full of ideas and no time to get to them?!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Taste of What Might Have Been

This week I got a taste of how the other half live. Well, a taste of how most people live. Most parents, that is. Sábha has been sick and I've kept her home from preschool all week. So for three days now, while her twin sister was off socialising with her peers, Sábha and I have been enjoying some one on one time.

Since I finished with the day job there has definitely been more opportunities for me to 'divide and conquer' the girls, but it usually means taking just one child with me when I go to the supermarket or post office or maybe on the odd coffee and cake date. Nothing glamorous and nothing planned as 'special bonding time' but still a lovely chance to connect with each child without distraction.

I've mentioned before the amount of times people say 'Oh my goodness, TWINS - I don't know how you do it' and I always answer the same way. 

"Well,  a) I don't have a choice and b) I have nothing to compare it to, I've had two children from day one so it's completely normal for me."

I'm not lying, I obviously don't have a choice. It's not like I can send one back! And it IS completely normal for me to have two children of the same age, clamouring for attention, because it's all I've ever known since becoming a parent. 

Until recently, I have had nothing to compare being a parent of twins to. Tell me having one kid is tough - I believe you! Tell me juggling two kids of different ages is hard - I can well imagine! Tell me having three kids is insane - I know you're right! Tell me four kids makes your head spin and I will not doubt you for one second. My sister-in-law has 8 children... 8 children... (I'll just let that sink in for a moment)... I BELIEVE her when she tells me she can't remember a large portion of the prime of her life.

Raising any number of children has it's challenges and although I'm usually annoyingly upbeat about the joys of raising twins I have got to say - having experienced it very briefly this week - that having just one child is SO BLOODY EASY by comparison.

Now before any of you with only one little lovely at home start wanting to throw things at me - don't think for a second that I don't know this is all relative. Having only one child at home with me for a few hours everyday this week has been amazing - but it's only because it's a novelty for me that I am even aware of it. I absolutely know that it wouldn't be the same if I only had one child from the beginning. Or one at a time. Like normal people.

It's just that this week, I've had a little taste of how things might have been if I'd done what most people do and had one baby at a time and not been greedy by having them all at once. (As if that kind of greed even exists) and I want to bask in it because it's been so unbelievably lovely.

For example, today, I had the time and the patience to let Sábha bake muffins, from scratch, all by herself. I supervised, of course, but I didn't lose my reason when she spilled the flour and started to 'lick the bowl' before dishing out the mixture into the paper cases. Baking is usually a bit of a war zone with  twins. I usually play the role of the crazy General who gets all bug-eyed and twitchy whilst barking orders at his unruly troupe (that's so not an army word) - but not today!

Lile has benefited this week too. I left Sábha at home with her Dad for an entire afternoon while Lile and I went for lunch, for a browse around some shops and for a visit to my sister's new house and it was an absolute pleasure. Having only one child with me meant it was so much easier to chase her out from under clothes rails and I even got to have a conversation with my sister. I will remember that day fondly.

Having had such consistent one on one time this week has made me feel a bit sad too, though. In a way, I never got to be the parent I imagined I would be because having twins sort of ruled out a lot of the things I *swore* I would do when I was that perfect pre-kids parent. Like be patient during baking sessions...

Pre-kids me, like pre-kids lots of people, had parenting all figured out. Looking at it now - the plan seems fairly limited in terms of how it would work once my future baby was past the new-born stage, but I obviously hadn't factored that in at the time.

My pre-parent-parenting-plan looked a bit like this:
  • I would have a drug-free natural birth. 
  • I would breastfeed my future baby, exclusively, for the recommended amount of time. 
  • I would wean him or her on lovingly prepared, homemade, organic food. 
  • I would ‘wear’ the baby to baby massage classes, to baby yoga classes, to baby music classes and baby swimming classes. Basically, to ALL the baby classes. Every week. 
  • I would bring the baby to cultural events like art exhibitions and classical music concerts. Baby and I would snuggle up together at the Mother & Baby cinema mornings and visit the the Zoo and my favourite museums regularly. 
It was a painfully naive beautiful plan, however, I realised very quickly that, if even the best laid plans go out the window when a new baby arrives, they more or less get torn up, stomped on and flung out the window when twins are born.

The perfect plan failed instantly and spectacularly from the very beginning. In so many different ways.
  • The dream of a drug free, natural birth disintegrated as I went into labour five weeks early and ended up having an emergency c-section and ALL THE DRUGS.
  • The exclusive breastfeeding? Yeah… not so much… I managed to breastfeed for two weeks. I completely underestimated the unbelievable relentlessness of being the sole source of sustenance for two tiny babies. I just couldn’t cope with it.
  • I did try to get the plan back on track when it came time to wean the babies. I started out well and prepared all of their very first foods myself. Then I realised that there were other people who lovingly prepared baby food. People who had the ingenuity to package it in handy little jars for me to feed my children.
  • The baby wearing? That so didn’t happen. I don’t think I even need to go into the logistics of that one.
  • The classes didn’t happen either. Not one of them. We were lucky to get out the door for a walk most days. In fact, the closest my twins have ever gotten to baby massage is a slick of baby oil after a bath. And not even after every bath. And I don’t even know what baby yoga looks like.
  • ‘Music’ classes consisted of raiding the kitchen cupboards for pots, pans and wooden spoons. And not particularly for developmental reasons either. Just to distract them for five minutes while I went for a pee.
  • I brought them to the swimming pool for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago. They are four-and-a-half years old.
  • Cultural events? They have been to the cinema three times. Does that count?
See? Totally well adjusted.
Somehow, despite the fact that they are twins, or probably because of it, my girls seem none the worse for wear for the lack of individual attention. There also seems to be no harm done in terms of missing out on all of those amazing parenting must-dos either. Despite the lack of baby yoga they are still WAY more flexible than me.

I also, LOVE having twins, and wouldn't change any of  the past four-and-a-half years for the world.

Even so, I do think I'll try to factor in a little more regular one-on-one time with each of them. 

For purely selfish reasons. I kind of like pretending to be the pre-kids me. But just for a few hours.


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