Archive for August, 2017

Horse Country

August 7, 2017

I can’t tell you how excited both Keane and Cullen were to spend a couple of days in fabulous Co. Navan, visiting my friend Nicola. Nicola is hands down one of the nicest humans you could ever hope to meet. She has the most enormous heart and as a friend she is that person who is always in your corner. She’s your biggest cheerleader through life, always has a listening ear, is full of some hard hitting home truths and best of all, knows how to take a party to the next level. We’ve been friends since we were 17 yrs old, and in my first couple of years competing on the Irish track team, we were always roommates. 20 years on everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. Each time we fly back to Ireland, meeting up with Nicola is always one of the highlights of the trip.

Last year when we went to visit Nicola at her equestrian haven, she introduced Keane and Cullen to horses and Keane got to take part in an little equestrian camp Niocla was running. To say he developed a love for horses would be understating it. For the last year he has frequently talked about Nicola and her farm and the horses, especially Sparky, a small filly he took his first riding lessons on. He absolutely could not wait for us to get to Navan so he could see and ride Sparky once again. And because Nicola is awesome, she co-ordinate one of her many summer kids camps to coincide with our visit.

Taking an evening walk through Navan countryside. We also had a guest appearance from The Husband, who had a five day break in his European meet travel schedule.

Keane was dying to be reunited with Sparky, so we headed off to fields to find her. This is Henry, a super friendly horse who was the first to trot up and greet us.

And there, wearing her Spring/Summer outer wear, was Sparky.

The happiest boy in the world right now.

Just a couple of country boys.

Look out! Cullen’s found himself a whip and a dump truck.

Nicola introducing Keane the newest edition to the farm.

2 tractor loving lads. Nicola’s little boy Donnach and Cullen.

Its the morning of the Kids Camp and we’re up bright and early to help set up and ready the horses.

Of course Keane was very territorial and made sure he was part of the team that got Sparky ready.

Cullen was more into the farm tools and machinery than the horses.

Before the camp started, Keane got to take Sparky out for her warm up.

Cullen leading the way to the riding arena.

And surprise surprise, last year we couldn’t convince Cullen to get on any of the horses, this year he was ready and willing to give it a go.

Big bother wanted to be the one to lead “his” horse around.

Another boy bitten by the horse bug.

This little girl is 10 years old and already an amazing rider. Keane loved watching her handle the horse.

Cullen making friends.

The camp kids have arrived  .

Niocla demonstrating some riding techniques.

The kids help get the area set up.

Then its back to the stables to prepare the horses.

Safety is no accident. Helmets and jackets are a must.

Keane taking over ownership of Sparky again.

Cullen was excited to see Keane.


Learning to ride with no hands.

Nicola’s assistant coach for the day.


As well as his role of assistant coach, Cullen was also head of equipment safety.

Practicing hands free again.

Just a nice photo of Nicola happily doing her thing.

Keane had to let one of the other kids ride Sparky. He didn’t love it, so he kept a close eye on the situation.

If there’s trucks available, thats were you’ll find Cullen.

Yay! Keane is back on the horse, only this time he’s rinding Henry and learning how to jump.

Sparky was busy taking this tiny 1 year old on her first pony ride.

The stampede for the group shot.

Kids, horses, helpers, teachers, everyone packed in for the group shot. Kids Camp 2017.

Back to the stables to give these hard working horses some food and water.

Keane took Henry back to his stable before rushing out to say “bye” to Sparky.

A little art and crafts time.

And the project was? To paint a horse of course. I’d never heard of this before, the kids loved it and the horse was such a good sport.


All of the little artists.

The early morning start, the fresh country air and Cullen had hit a wall. While the other kids painted the horse, he passed out on the couch.

That bunny rabbit pillow is Cullen’s favorite. It comes everywhere with us. As long as he has this, he’ll sleep anywhere.

Clean up time.

Horse riding is not just about the horses, theres plenty of stable work to be done too.

Oh look its me.

Massive “Thank You” again to Nicola for her overall amazingness and for giving the boys yet another opportunity to indulge in their horse obsession.

Showing the boys some videos of her competing in a horse jumping event.

What a difference a couple of days makes. Cullen has done a complete 180 and in less than a week the morning school drop-off has gone from being all drama and tears with added vice grip on either momma’s neck or the car seat, to a child who now, as we pull into the drop-off zone, can’t wait to get unbuckled, is rolling down the window so he can wave and yell “Hi” to his teacher. I mean, “What??” How can I be sure this is even my child?? The change has literally be overnight. I was sure this was about to be an ongoing battle, at least for the first month, and I was so worried about my ability to stay strong and not allow the cracks of each emotional drop off to break me. But here we are, loving school. Keane is still my silent soldier. He doesn’t love change but he’s courageous in how he handles it. Because his little brother is all drama and noise when it comes to adjusting to the shit he doesn’t like, I have to make sure and not to forget to check in with Keane. But he’s doing great and as long as he can make friends he’s happy, and that appears to be happening. So positive adjustment progress for him too.

As for me, well the drama free drop-off’s are really helping my adjustment to this new stage in life. I feel less tortured by guilt and more confident that everything will work out fine. Thats not to say I didn’t have some psycho mother moments. Like the morning I ran a bunch of errands and deliberately took the road home that would have me drive past their school. As I drove past I slowed down, not sure what I was expecting to see, but needed the opportunity to look anyway. I noticed some of the kids were out on the play ground and instantly I lost all form of rational thinking and was consumed by my need to know if my kids were out there playing and if so were they happy and having fun?? So I quickly pulled into a Church car park thats next to the school and just so happens to offer a view of the schools playground if you park in a very particular corner. Believing myself to be very clever and as sneaky as a ninja, I parked in the particular corner. In less then a minute I had eyes on both my boys as they played. But also in less than a minute, but a few seconds longer than it took me to spot them, Cullen saw me. Fuuuuucccck! He yells out “Momma!” and in complete panic and hysteria, with my wheels spinning and gravel flying, I floor it out of the car park like I’d just robbed the damn Church. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I couldn’t believe what I’d just done. Probably upset him for the rest of the day again. I was so mad at myself. He was perfectly fine, then I had to show up, not as inconspicuous as I thought, and remind him of my existence. So, that kind of crazy behavior was a bit of a wake up call, and since then I’m happy to report that I have managed to keep a loose grip on whatever sanity remains in my twisted head.

But that’s enough back to school drama, today I’m sharing the photos from a fun day spent with cousins at Wallaby Farms, Donadea. This place was so much fun. Irish friends, particularity my friends with kids, living in Kildare or the surrounding areas, you definitely need to check this place out.

Not sure whats on the menu for pigs at this farm, but they were huge.

Keane and Emily chicken spotting.

An amazing assault course the kids loved and occupied them for a couple of hours.

The see-saw balancing plank was very popular and Evan was the first to walk it.

Keane’s approach.

Cullen adopts the Keane method.

His little face as he reached the center and the plank dropped down.

Cargo net ofr Keane.

Nathan approach it all like a day at the beach.

Channeling our inner bat perhaps?

Nathan and Cullen on the balance log.

Nathan took a fall and went straight down into the wetness.

But refused to put his play on pause while his dad when to get his dry clothes.

Cullen thinks its hilarious.

There he is, back and forth in his underwear.

Until he took those off too.

SWAT team training for Keane.

And look at this, they had a reptile house.

Look how cute. Cullen trying to get a photo on his toy phone.

Before he and Emily stroll off to look at the other creatures.


The resident chicken.

A bearded dragon.

Some bird spotting by Nathan and Daddy.

Back outside and eye to eye with a donkey.

A wishing well that had all the parents digging deep for their loose change.

Kids, always looking for the closest spot to the action. They would have climbed into the thing if we let them.

Something has Cullen’s attention.

A tiny leprechaun house. Cullen was desperate to meet the tiny man that lived in this house.

Majority rules, right it is.

Another ginormous pig.

Such a happy piggy.

More cuteness.

Getting harnessed up for the zip line.

The line up.

First ups, Evan.





The Nest Feels Empty

August 1, 2017

Before we continue with the photos from Ireland, we need to pause, and take a minute to talk about the fact that his week both my boys went back to school. Yes, hard for my Irish friends and family (who just got released for their summer break 3 weeks ago), to imagine heading back to school in August. But back we went and this year my eldest baby, Keane starts Kindergarten (for my Irish readers thats primary school) and Cullen continues with his journey through Pre-School. Its been a tough adjustment for all of us. On top of the transition to a new school year, the boys have also started at a new school, so everything and everyone is unfamiliar, the school day is longer, they now go every day and also wear a uniform.

Keane has been adjusting well. I wouldn’t say he skipped excitedly through the doors on his first day. He was definitely nervous, but courageous and willing to take stock of his new environment. Cullen, was Cullen, plenty of drama and tears and refusing to get out of the car. I knew this was going to be hard for him, but seeing how hard, was even harder for me. As a mother its never easy watching your child get this upset. Your instincts are telling you to grab and hold him and get him the hell out of dodge. But logically you know this will not do him or you any favors. So I kept smiling and waving and telling him he was going to love it and have the best time, but as I pulled away, I had to pull over so I could have a good cry and mentally torture myself with questions and doubt about weather or not this was the right thing. For over 5 years now I’ve stayed at home, focused on my job of being mother to 2 boys. Structuring our days around playdates, craft projects, visits to the park, trips to museums, days on the farm, picking apples & strawberries, exploring forests, throwing rocks and fishing in rivers, joining the library, swim classes, music classes, gymnastics, soccer, baseball, you name it we’ve done it. Our days were always packed, exhausting, rarely quiet and we loved it. But just like that everything has changed. I’ve gone from being needed every waking moment of the day, to basically not. I didn’t think it would be so hard. I use to actually dream of a time I would be able to enjoy some hours to myself again. Now that its happening, I hate it. This transition is hard and it sucks. Mother friends of older school going kids reassure me that the adjustment takes time, apparently I will get use to it and even begin to enjoy the kid free hours I now have in my day. And I’m sure they’re right, the boys and I will be fine, eventually. We’re just navigating our way through a completely new structure to our days and our week.

Getting so big, so quickly. My now Kindergartener and my Pre-Schooler.