Meeting again after 25 years

This ought to be a joyful reunion. My Aussie aunt and uncle have finally retired and are doing the grand tour of the relatives. I haven't seen them for 25 years. It actually could be longer as for a number of years during my wannabe rock chick hippie goth punk stage I didn't have a lot of time for my family....

Anyway I'm rambling again.

I'm wondering how I'm going to entertain them. They want to stay with me, even though I tried to explain that the teenage Angel stays up mega late with her music, and the CD gets up just a few hours later, before the children's TV even starts. Smiley sometimes wakes in the night, and laughs and rolls around her bed - better than crying but not ideal. So sleep is in short supply in this house. Then once the children start to get up, things can deteriorate. There's a lot of work involved, besides the usual cooking, cleaning and washing. Angel needs money and lifts - no surprises there. CD wants attention ALL DAY unless on the PC/DS/Wii, so I am a bad Mammy and let him spend far too much time on these. Then Smiley needs help with everything and is very very heavy now.

On top of that Smiley loves to go for walks and CD insists on being driven everywhere. Result: we usually go nowhere. Well Angel does but that is with her gang, obviously no longer with me and her annoying brother. She does actually adore Smiley.

So how am I going to show the Aussies the sights of Dublin and pay them enough attention?

Also I don't know what they eat. Maybe I should introduce them to the delights of Irish Stew and Colcannon. On second thoughts that would mean cooking two meals every night, because guess what? My kids won't eat real food like that any more.

Am burying head in sand and hoping for the best. Am really looking forward to tales of life Down Under, and hopefully they will play chess with the CD, cook the odd meal and give Smiley a bit of attention. If all that happens I know we'll have a great time.

Editor's Note

Had to revise this any number of times. Have realised how easy it is to cause offence. Wonder does anyone blog on this? Is there a list of rules for bloggers somewhere? If you only say good things about everyone and everything, isn't your blog going to be a bit dull? As it is there are a number of areas of my life that I feel I can't blog about at all - RH you are so lucky....

Respite proves I earn my carers allowance

I'm not too keen on taking money from the Government - apart from child benefit obviously since you don't have to be labelled 'poor' or 'needy' to get it.

Now I find myself with no job, no partner and three kids who need a lot of care. What I need is careers advice, information, childcare support and a flexible and understanding employer (as I had before). Sadly all the Government wants to do is give me money.

As a carer I am entitled to a shockingly long list of benefits. I have actually been too embarrassed to apply for them all. No longer though.

After 13 years, Smiley has just spent her first weekend in respite. I've really really missed her, but two whole days without her has been a revelation.

Saturday was busy as always - it's the day that I spend ferrying the children around to their activities.

Today was different. I did some exercise, cleaned the house, finished all the washing, cooked, took 4 boys on a trip to an indoor play centre, spent two hours working on Qs and As for an upcoming press event (and dear reader if you are a snoop from social welfare, this is UNPAID work for Pacub, the campaign to save child benefit) and after 16 hours on the go, I feel full of energy.

Normally at this time of the day the house looks like a tip, and I lie in an exhausted heap on the sofa. No wonder RH and his family used to say I was a crap housewife. I don't think they took account of the Smiley factor.

For the first time I've realised just how much time and energy her care requires. The Government pays me about €1 an hour. I think I earn it.

Great customer service from Irish Ferries again

As you may know I'm a big fan of Irish Ferries and their customer service was spot on again today, despite a stupid error that nearly had me in tears on the school run.

It's been a stressful few days as plans laid over months started to fall apart. The respite arranged, friends and family in Britain contacted, the Christmas presents bought, the currency exchanged.... and the long range forecast checked before the ferry was booked.

The first warning signs that all was not well began when I got the chance to see a few minutes of GMTV yesterday (before CD got up and switched over to the Sponge Bob channel. As the man of the house, he obviously assumes charge of the remote control during daylight hours). The weather picture for Britain and Ireland today had a big gale warning slap bang over the Irish Sea. Then I got a text from Irish Ferries to say the ferry was in doubt. I couldn't believe it and spent the rest of the day attempting to see if we could travel on one of the alternative ferries. We couldn't.

I thought that was €*&% down the toilet, but my much to my surprise when I rang Irish Ferries I was told that once my ferry was cancelled I could get my money back - even though the other ferries today are still sailing!

Got a text last night to say ferry cancelled and started to prepare children for the news.

Imagine my shock then this morning when I got another text to say that the ferry status was back to 'in doubt'. So I was thinking I'd have to rearrange everything I'd cancelled and go, or I'd lose the ferry fare! I happened to mention this to CD as it happened on the way to school. So of course he went into complete meltdown as he can't handle that kind of change. Seems to be a complete no no for kids with aspergers.

Once I'd calmed down I rang Irish Ferries and they were great. They apologised and said the ferry was still cancelled and I can still get my money back. On top of that the company then sent out an apology text to clarify the situation.

The point? Everyone's makes mistakes, it's how you deal with them that matters.

How I found Dave Fanning on a hill in Wales and other tales of a wannabe rock chick

It all started in the late 1980s. I regularly made the trip from London to South Wales and home. Obviously needed something to listen to and as a wannabe indie rock chick I felt obliged to listen to John Peel. But to be honest I liked the sound of his voice better than most of the music he played. Then one evening I was driving over the tops and turning the dial and there it was! Music I liked. And introduced by an Irishman with the delivery of an express train.

Irish music was already an interest. I can still recall the Friday morning in the early 1980s - about noon - when I first heard 'The Boys from County Hell' by the Pogues. It was like 'WTF!!!????' and I had much the same reaction when I went to see them in Kilburn and ended up on the floor looking up at a sea of Doc Marten boots. Luckily two owners of said boots pulled me to my feet again.

Once in Ireland I found that 2FM isn't like Carlsberg and on Sunday mornings especially I started to search for more indie music (was working and minding children rest of week). One day in the late 90s I found this mad station with no DJs that didn't even tell you what songs were playing. Then it went off air, came back again, and carried on like that until it became legit and as Phantom FM clearly aimed at listeners young enough to be my grandchildren - well if I had started very very young.

So I still like totally age-inappropriate music - as any of the PACUB girls who saw me getting a bit carried away to the Black Eyed Peas on our Big Night Out will tell you.

Small note of no particular interest

If the above reads like the ravings of a mad woman it's probably because the CD woke at 1am and decided that he needed to get up and over the next number of hours I couldn't change his mind. You know what sleep deprivation does....

My Amazing Kids - strictly for friends and family

A boy who reads books and a teen who earns money? I never thought it would happen, but with all their problems, it's great to have something to boast about.

If I had a camera (top of Christmas list for self), I would post a photo as seeing CD reading actually looks strange, especially as he sits surrounded by electronic distractions. And it came from nowhere. I've always read bedtime stories, as a non-martyr, obviously only ones I like, so we've done Narnia and Harry Potter and currently we are reading 'Red Moon and Black Mountain' by Joy Chant, another childhood favourite. All by himself he has discovered this series called Beast Quest and demanded a trip to the library yesterday. You now know the rest.

As for my teenage Angel, she has discovered that babysitting can earn money, and that sometimes she has to actually work to earn it - to feed and change babies and run up and down stairs trying to get them back to sleep. On top of that, her friends have 'hired' her to give a mass Maths 'grind' on Sunday. Apparently their teacher is not good and Angel has obviously inherited the family maths gene. Sadly she is only getting paid in Pizza for this, but I did try and put some ideas in her head about teaching Junior Cert students......