Parenting · Special Needs

Naffing snow!

I never thought I’d hate the snow. I always loved to see it as a child and as an adult. Up until today really, ok I never liked driving in it but today the few inches we have had have really pissed me off. Why? Because it meant that my daughter’s school bus couldn’t get through this morning and she couldn’t go to school. That ordinarily would disgruntle me a little but I’d get over it, but today she was supposed to be going back after having been off sick for two weeks. Now I know children get sick and its all part of being a parent etc. etc. but it is somewhat different when the child has special needs. Obviously the level of need and its impact varies considerably from child to child but in our case, Fionnuala cannot walk or stand unaided. She cannot take herself to the toilet and has only a limited ability to feed herself. She has about 50 words and a few short sentences she uses correctly but a sizeable amount of our communication with her is by guessing what she is trying to day. That can be very frustrating for both of us.

Keeping her amused over the last fortnight has nearly driven me round the twist. She is not a hard child to amuse – as in there are plenty of things she likes to do – but what I have found hardest over the last fortnight is not the extra lifting and carrying (and my back is paying the price) or the extra nappy changing, feeding etc. combined with lots of nose wiping and medicine administering. No it’s the lack of what I can only describe as headspace. Not being able to sit and read a newspaper article in one go because I have to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep again. Not being able to do my community work or historical research, not being able to listen to a radio programme because Fionnuala wants to watch CBeebies (and the house is not big enough for both to be on simultaneously), not being able to think clearly because I am being asked to read every 10 minutes (and it’s the same damn book every time), just not being able to read, write, research is driving me mad.

Being a wheelchair user means that taking Fionnuala out to play in the snow is not really an option. She can’t run around in it to keep warm, she can’t make or throw a snowball, she doesn’t understand what snowmen are about.

But it’s no one’s fault. It’s no one’s fault Fionnuala was off sick. It’s no one’s fault that the bus couldn’t get over the mountain this morning. But I don’t cope with it very well. After the last two weeks I was so much looking forward to F going today and when the bus escort rang to tell me they couldn’t get over the mountain I felt like screaming. I know that this is how things are and I know that I am lucky to have her here (and I really do KNOW that) and I know that her level of need is much less than some other children with special needs. I know all that. I also know that I have to just get on with it. Generally I do. I don’t have a choice of course, but generally I just pick myself up and carry right on. Some days it feels like it’s never going to end. I do wonder sometimes how other parents of children with special needs keep on going.

I am very well aware I am lucky to have such a beautiful adorable loving daughter, an amazing husband, a warm comfortable house, enough to eat, books to read, a good brain, access to TV and internet. I just want a little bit of headspace too. Today is not a great day. Hopefully tomorrow will be a lot better and I’ll be more cheerful and write a nice cheerful post. But there are days when it all just feels like crap. And today is one of them.

Its still bloody snowing.

A Year of Living Seasonally · food · Ritual food

Imbolc – the coming of spring

Today is 1st February, and traditionally in Ireland this was considered to be the first day of Spring. It falls midway between the winter solstice (21st Dec) and the spring equinox (21st Mar). It marks the turning of the season and is the feast day of Brigid, whether you see her as a goddess, an aspect of the Mother Goddess or the Christian saint. There is a lot I could – and will – write about Imbolc and what it means to me, but that’s for another post.

Imbolc and the arrival of spring signal renewal, rejuvenation, a fresh start. I love watching for the first spring flowers. The spring bulbs are peeping through all over the garden, such vibrant shades of green spring bulbs at imbolc

I haven’t heard of any ritual foods or dishes associated with Imbolc, but Brigid in her Christian form is the patroness of sheep, and an alternative name for the day, Óimelc, is thought to denote the time of ewes coming into milk. The new lambs are always a welcome and lively sight in spring too. This feels like a cleansing time of year – hence the spring clean? – and when thinking about Imbolc this morning I decided to make some lemon curd. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours and scents and the clean tang of lemon appealed to me in keeping with freshness. So after a couple of hours in the kitchen I came up with some lemon and some orange curd. You can see the lemon here. The orange didn’t set quite so well but still tasted great! I made an orange sponge cake filled with it. lemon curd

For dinner I settled on a Darina Allen recipe, Winter Beef Stew – well having a winter meal and a spring inspired dessert seemed as good a way as any other to mark this turning of the season. There is still some snow on the ground, and the gritter went by earlier, but it is spring. Its time to move out of the reflective, restorative period of winter and move into the renewal, rebirth of spring.

A Year of Living Seasonally

A few things I wasn’t expecting to see today

leaves changing colours in autumnAs part of my Year of Living Seasonally project, I am going to try and spend more time outside observing the seasons and their impact on my surroundings. All too often I spend time outside rushing from one place to the next, or working at something but not really BEING outside. So around noon today I spent about 45 minutes in my garden, just looking, listening. Much of what I saw I expected to see, falling leaves with such a glorious spectrum of colours from green to gold to copper to every shade of brown and finally to black before they decay completely. The last few vivid yellow berries on the rowan tree in the middle of the lower garden, a contrast to the vibrant blue sky. The starkness of branches no longer clothed in leaves but standing naked in the November garden.
Autumn leaves falling Yellow rowan tree berries against blue sky

However I also saw a few things I wasn’t expecting to see: a buttercup in flower, a dandelion holding on to its last few seeds, rose buds on my daughter’s rose bush. Today is November 3rd, Samhain has passed, according to the Celtic calendar we are now in the season of winter. But how much can we take the changing of the seasons for what they used to be? Last week (the last week of October) was incredibly mild, both here in Ireland and in parts of England. I saw a news report from the Tower of London with people in tshirts and shorts. It was 24 degrees!!! It wasn’t that warm here, but average temperatures here last week were around 16 or 17 degrees. Yes, while people were commenting on this, no one seemed terribly surprised. Our climate is most certainly changing. What will living seasonally mean in thirty years time?



The weather is exquisitely beautiful at the moment, hazy sunshine, scarcely a cloud to be seen and those that are around are the merest wisp of chiffonesque whiteness merging into the bluest sky I have seen in weeks.  The weather most definitely affects my mood but I’ve only come to realise just how much in the last year or so.   

Our two cats are enjoying the sun.  Garfield who is about 8 months old is a recently neutered ginger tom and very striking and handsome in his markings.  He was found as a tiny kitten in an old shed with 3 sickly siblings, all of whom died.  Garfield came to live with us and we bottle fed him for a few weeks. At that stage he was so tiny he could fit into my hand.  Now he is a strapping boisterous teenager (in cat terms) and is still very playful and affectionate.

Muffin is a far more recent arrival,  she turned up on our windowsill one cold Sunday night about 3 weeks ago.  A cute mix of white, ginger and touches of charcoal, she decided pretty quickly that she was onto a good thing with us and so she has stayed.  Our vet thinks she is about 4 months old and we fear she was dumped.  It sickens me that anyone could do that to an animal.  Muffin and Garfield are still sussing each other out.  For the first week or so he wouldn’t go anywhere near her, yet she would approach him.  Gradually they have moved onto a stage where they will lie near each other and sunbathe but they are still not what you might call buddies! 

Still a little camera shy....
Too nosey to pose!!

Back again

Have been feeling very snowed under of late with various things and so have been neglecting the things that give me the most pleasure. And I include my blog in that as it is a little bit of time for me and no-one else 🙂 So what’s been happening?

Well we have a new government in Ireland, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition, I’m not madly enthused by it, I feel that FG and Fianna Fáil are really just two sides of the one coin. I have a lot of time for the Labour Party but let’s just wait and see how things pan out.

The weather is as changeable as my mood, we had a glorious week last week, sunny bright brilliantly clear days. I even managed to get the grass on the upper garden cut last Saturday for the first time this year. The primroses are in bud and hopefully that area of the garden will be full of their buttermilk and cream gorgeousness in a few weeks. Daffodils are buddng everywhere, crocuses are starting to pass over, we didn’t have as many bloom this year as previous years. The forsythia is in full colour, a vibrant yellow which certainly brightens up a dismal damp March day such as we are having today. The latter half of this week has been very miserable – lots of rain, hailstones yesterday and so cold. The skies are a desolate pale grey and feel rather like a vile scratchy blanket that has been forced around us but which offers neither comfort nor warmth.
Am hoping for the sun to re-emerge, this incessant bleakness does nothing for my disposition.

Yet I can still hear the birds chirping and tweeting away – I can’t identify them by their song but I would love to be able to.