Set Up For Success

October 22, 2017

Back from my 4 day trip to New York, 4 very enjoyable days. There is nothing like a break away with a good friend to help you switch off and recharge. I actually surprised myself at how well I disconnected from my role as mother for the entirety of our trip. Usually if I have to leave the boys, even if its only for a few hours, I can get a little consumed worrying and wondering if everything is ok. Did The husband remember the millions of instructions I left? Did he feed them nutritious food and snacks and not just utter crap? Did he remember that pajamas are not in fact clothes and the kids should not be wearing them all day? Were sibling wars navigated fairly and tantrums handled swiftly? Or just handled. Never mind swiftly. Kids have endurance, that’s one thing we learn quickly as parents. Did he adhere to my warning that silence (unless they’re sleeping) is a problem? They are up to something and you should go check on them immediately! Were they tucked into to bed at a decent hour? An hour I like and not an hour they like. All of these questions, and more besides, usually make up the sound track to my time away from my kids and resisting the urge to send another text, or another quick call to make sure everything is ok, is a constant struggle. But like I said, this time I peaced out.

Not in an “I’m never coming back” way obviously. But I had done everything I could to set The Husband up for success. I batched cooked a bunch of healthy meals. Fully stocked the pantry with everyones favorite snacks. Had the school clothes washed, ironed and ready to rock for each of the mornings. Rescheduled their swim classes cos I knew the added logistics of getting to swim, on top of the daily school run, the preparing and packing of separate swim bags and extra snack bags was just a lot of potential for disaster. A day like that really requires an expert level of multitasking, and lets be honestly, if its multitasking thats needed, then its a women you should call. Anyway, the point being I had prepped as much as I could. Once on the plane there was nothing I could do, these men of mine were on their own. But guess what? They survived. In fact, as much as I enjoyed the break, they enjoyed the break.

Am sure I will get into a bit more info from our trip in the next blog post, but right now there is a new week to get ready for and a few hours sleep I’d like to have tonight. And of course there are the photos from our day at the pumpkin farm that I tried but failed to share before I left for New York. Here they are, minus any commentary, cos you know, sleep is the goal right now. But we went, we meet up with our 2 friend Julian and his sister Amaya, we had a blast and we left with a wagon full of pumpkins.

Nobody Likes You Ophelia

October 16, 2017

I thought I’d have all the photos from our day at the pumpkin farm ready to share. But I ran out of time. And tomorrow I’m taking off for a few days. Just me and my bestie from Ireland. I’m flying from here, she’s flying from there (there being Ireland) and we are meeting in New York. No kids, no husbands, no schedule. Just us, doing whatever we want in the city that never sleeps. That is if hurricane Ophelia hasn’t ruined Irelands entire infrastructure. She hit the homeland hard yesterday. All flights were grounded, trains and buses were all cancelled and trees came down all over the place taking out power and blocking roads. Its so typical. Here we are, just a couple of mothers desperate for a break from the daily grind, and here’s mother nature trying to sabotage the entire plan. Way to have our back bit#h! But we are crossing everything that flights out of Dublin will be up and running again today. Either way I’m planning to get on my flight. NY here I come! I’m about to have the best time hanging with my best friend, or I’m about to have the best time hanging with myself getting to know me a little better. The first option is preferable.

Out Of The Wild

October 12, 2017

Out of the wilderness and back to civilization for the second part of our trip. Pigeon Forge, TN was the destination. Not really sure how or why we’d decided on this, maybe a subconscious fondness for Dolly Parton (the Dollywood theme park is located there). But en route we took a day trip to Chattanooga, TN for 2 reasons, 1. to ride the Incline Train to the top of Lookout Mountain and 2. to visit Ruby Falls, located 260ft below Lookout Mountain. A clear determination to experience this mountain from every which way. After Chattanooga it was onwards to Pigeon Forge where we upgraded ourselves from tent life to cabin life. With it came vacation luxuries such as a pool, bounce pillow for the kids and kids at heart (that would be The Husband and I). This camp ground had everything, we almost didn’t have to leave, but of course we did, cos Pigeon Forge is basically an amusement park type city and the kids were looking for their adrenaline fix on some fast moving rides.

And that essentially is how we closed out our adventure. A week of fun new experiences for the kids, and 2 parents who managed to navigate, coordinate and juggle life on the road, tent & cabin without killing each other.

Out of the wilderness and our first stop was the choo-choo city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On our evening stroll we found a small park with games. This is corn hole tossing. Objective? Toss bean bags at the board opposite in an attempt to get the bags in the hole.

Cullen plays by his own rules as usual.

Giant Jenga. Stack the wood, remove 1 piece at a time until the pile collapses.


Bright and early the following morning we headed off to ride the incline train to the top of Lookout Mountain.

Tickets please.

Theres our ride.

Hard to really capture just how steep this ride to the top was.

Checking out the views.

Chattanooga, as seen from the top of Lookout Mountain.

Back to ground level and off to Ruby Fall.

A hike 260ft under ground to the center of Lookout Mountain to see the Ruby Falls.

Our cabin accommodations in Pigeon Forge.

Everyone was excited to try out the Alpine Rollercoaster.

The first ride Cullen and I rode together and Daddy went with Keane. But I made Daddy go a couple more times with each of the boys so I could get photos. First up Daddy and Cullen.

Off they go.

Look carefully, can you see them??

Oops, notice Cullen started the ride with a hat, but now appears to be missing it?

Delighted with himself, and excited to inform us that the hat did in fact blow off.

Next Daddy goes with Keane and the ride has now become a hat recovery mission.

Here they come.

All smiles.

And look, the hat. Mission accomplished.

Our official Alpine Rollercoaster photos.

Panning for gem stones.

We’re rich! Bags of gems found.

A bike to pump food to some of the local goats.

Pool time back at the camp ground.

A grand entrance by Keane.

Cullen wanted, but didn’t want to go under the giant mushroom.

He made a run, then changed his mind at the last second.

The bounce pillow.

Suddenly the middle aged parents are 6 years old again.

Momma’s turn.

I promise you, in my head I jumped way higher and my splits were more impressive then this.

Everything always ends up a wrestling game.

The Hiking Plan

October 10, 2017

I realized that I forgotten to mention where we decided to go on our camping trip. For the first part of the trip we drove about 2 hours north, to Cloudland Canyon, which is close to the Georgia-Tennessee border. Choosing a place no longer than a 2 hour drive away was a pretty high priority for us, the parents. Cos you know, kids, cars, long drives, its not exactly a winning combination. Cloudland Canyon also had all of the things the kids were excited to experience, including short but not overly strenuous hiking trials to the waterfalls and canyon rim. That is until the little legs of the littlest people in the group started to get tired, and The Husband and I suddenly found ourselves in the very strenuous situation of hiking sherpa style, with a child tossed up on each of our backs. Now that right there is a leg and ass workout if ever you were looking for one. The only vacation pounds any of us are going to be gaining on this trip, were pounds of muscle.

After an early breakfast on our second day, we headed off to do a 2 mile hike of a portion of the canyon rim.

Our trail was marked by these yellow diamonds, Cullen loved finding and following them all.

Frequent stops to check out the view below and to give the littles a minute to rest.

Part of the canyon view. Once the leaves start to change color this place is going to look magical. May have to come back for a weekend to see it.

This is where the hike turned into a type of cross-fit/military workout for The Husband and I.

Because we were close to the end of the hike and also because The Husband and I were wrecked, the lads had to finish it out on their own 2 legs.

Lots of these moments lately of Keane helping Cullen with various things. Buttoning his shirt for him here.

Of course Keane was fixated on fishing again.

Cullen had zero interest in fishing, to busy with the trucks.

But he did help to point Keane in the direction of the fish.

And what do you know, HE CAUGHT A FISH!! I was so busy trying to get video footage of his big fish catching moment that I only grabbed a few photos.

But he was beyond excited.

If anyone’s curious, it was a catfish.

And yes, we did release him back to the water.

And closed out the day with a family shot, to prove to our future selves that momma was defiantly part of this trip.

Hidey Ho Campers

October 5, 2017

So lets chat about camping. I’m actually ok with camping. I don’t mind it at all. In the early days of our relationship, the now Husband and I did our fair share of camping trips. As a result bugs no longer bother me, nighttime noises don’t strike the same level of fear they use to and peeing in the forest feels a lot less degrading. As long as we’re not talking about any kind of long term (more than a week) wilderness living, then yes, count me in. However, camping with 2 kids and 1 dog, that is a whole other experience.

First of all the amount of stuff you need to bring is downright shocking and to be honest feels somewhat ironic since camping is suppose to be about a more simplistic and basic way of living. Not with kids. Then theres the added challenge of trying to keep all of that crap organized so that when the time comes to light the fire for s’mores, you’re not pulling the guts out of every bag, checking inside every shoe, moving air mattresses and blaming The Husband for all thats wrong in the world cos you can’t find the feckin lighter.

Then theres that optimistic capable feeling you have upon arrival at the camp site. Working together as a team to set up the tent, familiarizing ourselves with the new surroundings, even getting to know a couple of our fellow campers. Until its time to eat and the realization that I’m still responsible for preparing the food, but without the amenities of a home hits. I pulled it off, preparing some pretty decent stove top food only to discover that the kids would prefer to exist on snacks the entire time.

And how about the pat on the back we gave ourselves, for picking the perfect time of year to take on this great outdoor adventure. The weather is still hot, but not too hot and overnight temperatures are comfortable, not at all cold. Checking the forecast for the week and all we saw were happy faced sunshines, day after day. So after setting up camp we headed off on an explorative trip. Not at all bothered by the fact that we forgot to put the rain cover over the top of the tent. Until suddenly, out of nowhere popped one of those pop-up showers. Abandoning the rest of our exploitive excursion, the mission was now to get back to the tent ASAP before everything was completely saturated. Sadly our bedding fell victim to the rain. Teetering on the edge of panic, imagining the back ache I was about to wake up to after having spent the night sleeping in the car, we found out the campsite had a laundry room, with a working dryer. Praise Jesus.

The kids of course loved everything about the experience. The little dramas we faced actually excited them. The relaxed rules and flexible schedule made them giddy. The freedom to pee in the open air was liberating. Night time walks through the forest with their lanterns and glow sticks made them feel brave. They enjoyed getting together with some of the other kids staying at the camp site to play tag in the dark. Hunting for fire wood to start the fire. Hiking, fishing, creature spotting, eating outside, there was nothing about the experience they didn’t love. For once The Husband and I felt like we were actually winning at this parenting game. Yep, its pretty simple really. Take the kids into the wilderness, let them live like feral animals, and suddenly you’re 2 parents, parenting the shit out of life.

Team work for tent set up.

Busy playing with his trucks in the dirt, Cullen’s contribution to tent set up came closer to the end.

Checking out the interior space.

Knock, knock.

No hammer? No problem, we found rocks.

Now this was a job that peaked Cullen’s interest.

Hammering with rocks appealed to Keane too apparently.

Dexter, chillin.

Time to test out the beds.

Map in hand and Cullen is helping to figure out our surroundings.

Post pop-up rain shower and its off to the laundry room to dry our bedding.

These 2 loving the drama of it all.

The morning after our first night in the tent.

How was your first night camping lads?

Dexter always knows the best place to position himself for potentially fallen food items.

After breakfast and we’re off on a hike. One of the things Keane was excited to do on our trip was to fish. So his fishing rod accompanied him everywhere.

Cullen was excited to snack, so his snacks came everywhere too.

Spotted, a cave.

Something else we’re excited to see.

A huge boulder.

All downhill work to get to the waterfall.

So pretty.

Dexter was game for a dip.

Theres always time for rock climbing.

Getting back out of the canyon wasn’t going to be as easy as getting down was.

The face of 2 little boys who just figured out that hiking can be hard work.

But they soldiered on.

And took plenty of rests.

Found ourselves a loving little spot to stop for lunch and to fish.

Keane was desperate to catch a fish, but it didn’t happen, not this day anyway ;)

This moment of Keane helping Cullen over the stones on our way back.

Closing out a fabulous day making s’mores.