I'm still working on the mastery of preparing for Mid Term Break. I'll probably have it sussed just in time for the children's college graduation. This years Hallowe'en break took me on the hop, with the Bank Holiday falling the week before Hallowe'en. The Public Service got super value out of my pay packet in the weeks running up to the hols, with a work rate equivalent to a Duracell bunny.
As a previous blog post suggests, Dress Up Day, the day that school breaks up for the holidays, brings it's own stresses. My boy wanted to dress up as an 'army man'. A trip to the Army Supply Shop in the Curragh Camp and I was sorted. The look on his face when I produced a 'real' army jacket was priceless.
My girl wanted to dress as a 'zombie mummy'. I rubbed my hands with glee. A chance for me to get creative, or so I thought. On Dress Up morning, there was a hissy fit (hers and mine) over bandage application. Apparently I did it wrong. In the end, she went off looking like a 1980's George Michael. The only scary part of her ensemble was the look of thunder on her face.
Getting back to productive Public Servants, the Arts Service team have been SO busy all year that we managed to have our 2013 Christmas do as the Bank Holiday approached. It was worth the wait and was a great excuse to have a grown up night out in the Big Smoke. We even managed not to talk about work ... Most of the time ... More importantly though, 'what was said on tour stayed on tour'.
A big Bank Holiday happening for me was the wedding of my journo friend Siobhan to Mr Mc in Rathsallagh House Hotel. A quirky country house, dripping with paintings, it's the sort of place that makes you feel like you have had a hug. I was so thrilled for the funky bride, who did it her way. Having said that, I haven't quite forgiven her for ditching Athy for Cork a few years ago, with Mr Mc hot on her heels. I used to love to see her lil blue sports car pulling up outside.
I took a mad notion that I wanted to upgrade my car a week ago. It's a lovely leather interior seven seater, with two major flaws.
1. e1,200 car tax a year and
2. Impossible to find car parts, as it is an unusual model in Ireland.
With an expensive NTC looming, I fell out of love with my heated seats and built in DVD player and thought that I like the sound of 'saloon'.
I took a chance and phoned the Credit Union to see if they would consider topping up my current loan. I half expected to hear hysterical laughter on the phone, but no, the Fruit (wo)Man from Del Monte (Kingscourt) said yes. I adopted an American twang as I said to myself, 'well I'll be darned'.
When second hand car shopping, I would highly recommend commandeering a mechanic. In my case, my brother Robert. I was sent in first, the innocent abroad, pretending that I knew what I was talking about, before the bro rubber stamped the purchase. I'm rather pleased with my Ford Mondeo. I even manage to get an MH reg plate. Result. I'm just not too sure where I'll put my dog, who is the the size of a small horse. I guess I can always buy a trailer, with the savings on the car tax.
All the car dealings took place in Meath/Cavan, so I got to hang out in my parents house for a few days. At this stage, I should be pampering my Mam, but she is the one who brings me tea and homemade bread in bed, encouraging me to lie on, while the children raid her fridge. Still, I did plant 140 Spring bulbs in the garden for her, with a little help from the children. Something to look forward to next year.
I've long since stopped beating myself up about not visiting friends and the many, many relations when I am home. I do my best, but sometimes I just need to hang out with me Ma.
Of course a major highlight was Hallowe'en. The children were invited to a party on Thursday, to line their stomachs with sugar for the following day. They were beside themselves with excitement ( or was that an E number rush ?)
October 31st is my children's birthday. My sweet, darling children turned a big seven this year. I must say, I felt emotional about their birthday, so proud of all of their little achievements, but mostly just for being themselves. I something feel physical pain in my chest when I think about how much I love them.
I only felt a little bit guilty for fecking off to the Guthrie Gufa Film seminar in Cavan on the day of their birthday. In fairness, myself and the squids had spent more time together in the past week than we had in months. The conference was great and we got fed really well by Richard Corrigan, in his new hotel the Virginia Park Lodge. I'd love to go back there again - another place where you felt like someone had given you a hug. (FYI, there was no hugging on the day - it wasn't that kind of conference).
All that and still I was home in time for Trick or Treating. Sensibly, I drank wine in a friends house, while other grown ups chaperoned the children and their friends around the houses. This year, they were thrilled to be joined by their big sister Zara and niece Sienna, all the way from Sligo. It was very cute listening to Mya talking to Sienna about 'my big sister'. Sienna was a little put out. She told Mya that 'my Mum is only a LITTLE BIT your sister because she has a different Mum than you'. Don't you just love kids ?
The following day, Leon and Mya and a clatter of their friends celebrated their birthday by going to a play for children in Riverbank Arts Centre. The afternoon went great and the lil uns seemed to enjoy the play and good afterwards. But trying to be the hostess with the mostest is tricky - trying to strike a balance between entertainment, supervising the children, while chatting to the parents (more tea anyone ?). Worrying about paid parking, an Irish Water protest march, late arrivals, I didn't really relax until the last child went home. Phew ! That's it for another year.
Opening the presents was great fun. The children's eyes were on sticks. There was late night and early morning Lego making /arts and crafts making ... They both wanted me to help them simultaneously ... Neither having any patience. Easier said than done, let me tell you.
By Sunday evening, the pair of them were so full of sweets and left over birthday brownies, that they practically begged me for cheese on toast and hummus and carrot sticks. It was a super Mid Term break, but we were all glad that it was almost over.
I couldn't write about Mid Term Break without mentioning the poem by Seamus Heaney. It's one of my favourites. Have a little listen to this, read by the man himself