Sunday 31 January 2016

249 Posts Later

This day last year I published my first post on this blog. I'm still blogging, I'm still at home, I'm still happy. 

It has been a great year (more on that here) and I am very glad that I gave blogging another go, having set up a cookery blog in 2008 and only posting periodically. Since setting up Three Sons Later I have found that I have quite a lot to say on quite a lot of topics. 

Some days I am really pleased at the quality of my writing. Other days I am more focussed on the topic than on the writing and it irriates me when I can't put my thoughs onto the screen exactly as I would like to. 

My writing isn't as good as I would like it to be. Practice probably won't make it perfect, but it has improved it, and I hope it will continue to improve. 

As for the content, I have tried to write what I know about and what interests me and not be steered by what others are doing or want me to do. 

I don't feel I have veered off course too much. My original idea was for this blog to be a reflection of me and our lifeSo, here's to many more years of Three Sons Later. May it grow and develop, just as my boys do. 

Fionnuala x

Thursday 28 January 2016

When Your Small Child Swears

I swear too much. Not as much as if I still lived in Ireland, but too much. I don't like the children to hear it, but they have at times.

Parenting books will tell you that if your small child swears, you should not laugh. I agree and I managed that for a long time, putting on my serious face and getting cross, explaining that that is not language for children to use and promising to not swear in front of the children ever again.

But then one day I laughed. I had to. There was nothing else I could do.

We were in the car, Number Two and I. A woman drove towards us incredibly slowly, blocking our way and not indicating when she should have, thereby delaying us unnecessarily. 

I was about to mutter under my breath, as usual, when from the back seat came the words "F**k almighty! She was a bad driver!" followed by "Why are you laughing Mammy? She was a bad driver".

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Tuesday 26 January 2016

What Children See

This photo was taken in December 2010 when my then 28 month old son asked my why there was a picture of a man with a suitcase and a ball on the door of the baby changing room. 

The experience reminded me that in June 2002 I bought a book  called Ways of Seeing by John Berger. The topic of the book is not necessarily how children see the world, but it does eging with the point that one sees before one speaks. 

A child can see and reconise images long before he is ever able to describe what he has seen. Even once we can speak, we see the images around us before we open our mouths to comment on them.

The book goes on to discuss art, adverts and photographs and what message the images convey to us. It is a highly interesting read and I would recommend it if you are in any way interested in the subject. 

But back to the world through the eyes of a child. Since the episode with the man with the suitcase and the ball, there have been countless reminders of how different a child's view of things is to an adult's. 

Like this time, when the box we'd just received a parcel in became a fantastic plaything.

Or when Number Two came downstairs with the newborn insert from a car seat on his head and told me it was the hat of a soldier in the old days.

Or on the regular occasions when the sofa becomes a trampoline or a Viking ship.

Or when the bunk beds become pirate ship and my box of red candles gets confiscated as dynamite.

I showed Number One the top photo again recently and asked him what it was. "The sign for a baby changing room", he said, looking at me as if I had lost my mind. He's obviously growing up.

Saturday 23 January 2016

A Long Overdue Patchwork Quilt

I am a born hoarder. As I type I am wearing a skirt I bought in 1997. I am not stingy, I just have trouble parting with things I like. 

So it follows that I am not a natural de-clutterer. The January clear out bug has never hit me. That is until this year. It is probably because I am at home and I see the amount of, well stuff, for want of a better word, that is around the house. 

A few days ago I attacked my wardrobe. One big bin-bag got filled. Obiously a few older pieces survived. Next up was the guest room, which doubles as my hobby room. As I cleared and sorted and binned stuff, I came across one of my unfinished projects - a patchwork quilt.

This project has been around for three or four years. I am not quite sure why it didn't ever get finished but I am determinded to finish it, and soon.

Back when Number Two was still sleeping in a cot (he is now 5 1/2), I decided to sew him a quilt for when he would move into his own big boy bed. 

I thought up a colour scheme (greens and greys) and a theme (leaves) and I bought the fabric in Ikea. I even got as far as sewing all the patches together and got started on attaching the wadding and backing material. And there it ended. Why? Who knows.

In the meantime Number Two has not only moved from a cot to a bed but has moved from that bed to another bedroom and a set of bunk beds. The quilt no longer matches the colour scheme of his room.

Nevertheless I am determinded to finish this quilt. We'll find a place for it somewhere. Perhaps Number Three would like it given that he sleeps in Number Two's old room. It is more suited to the colour scheme there. And it is not really a hand-me-down if no-one has ever used it, is it?

Home Etc

Friday 22 January 2016

Sudden and Unanticipated Changes to the Bathroom

If one was to spend the better part of the afternoon urging and cajoling a very stubborn child to please finish their homework and stop acting the maggot, and if one was then to take a small child along into the bathroom and try to clean the bathroom and if one was then to get annoyed with the stupid ugly wonky old towel hanger, toothbrush holder and soap dish which the previous house owners installed and which you never liked anyway  and if one was to decide to remove them immediately, what would one use for the job?

Supposing the urge to remove said accessories strong and the only tools to hand  in the bathroom were a scissors, a nail clippers and some bathroom wipes, would one proceed with the job? Even if some accessories were attached with +  screws and some with - screws? And if one did, would one make it a personal goal to get the effing rawl plugs out too while one was at it?

If one did, the results *might* look something like this and one *might* be overcome with a sense of calm and the feeling of being the MacGyver of the female DIY world.  

This is not a true story. If  I had included the bit about the Lego man being thrown into the freshly cleaned toilet by the small child, his being delighted with seeing the Lego man go swimming and then drying his off excitedly with a towel, having fished him out - if I had included all of that, then it would be a true story.   

Thursday 21 January 2016

My 40-By-40 Reading List

About ten years ago a good friend of mine said she was trying to get to thirty countries before she turned 30. I loved the idea and tried but didn't quite make it (I got to 24). Having a baby at the age of 29 kind of put a halt to my foreign holidays.

The other day I saw that Capture by Lucy is aiming to complete her 35 before 35 to do list and initially it made me sad that I am too old to do that. 

But then I had a brainwave. I'm trying to read more - I used to fly through books - but now rarely have the time. I can get through a real page turner in a week or so. But anything intellectually stimulating seems to just make me fall straight asleep these days.

So my big idea is to read 40 good books by the time I hit 40! I have three years to get this done. 36 months for 40 books. Manageable, right? OK, so I  will have to put my mind to it, but I am sure I can get it done. 

In the years between Number Two being born and getting pregnant with Number Three I read a reasonable amount of books, 'Possession' and 'The Children's Book', both by A. S. Byatt, included. I know I am able for something more high brow that Nick Hornby (no offence to Nick Hornby. I love his books). Recently I even got round to reading 'Death of A Salesman', which was on my books-to-read-someday list for years. 

At the moment I am reading Mary Kenny's revised version of her biography of William Joyce, a.k.a. Lord Haw-Haw. After I have finished it, these are the books I plan to move on to:

1 Wolf Hall - I own this for years now and haven't got very far with it so far. Worth another try.
2 Bringing Up The Bodies - I own this too but need to read Wolf Hall first, of course
3 The Goldfinch - I have been reliably told that it is an excellent read
4 Middlemarch - I loved the BBC version in 1994 and own the book
5 Robinson Crusoe - I have this too. The bookmark is still in it 3/4 way through. I dont know why I didn't finish it.
6 Bambi - the original book, not the Disney version, in German. I own this for seven years now and have still not read it. 
7 The Water Babies - my dad read this to us as children and I remember I loved it. I just don't remember much about it. I bought a gorgeous 19th century hardback version for a treat a few years ago but didn't get far with reading it.
8 The Wind in the Willows - I have heard the tales of Mole, Toad and co. as a bedtime story and seen it on TV but I want to read it for myself. We have two beautiful hardback copies - one belonging to Number One, the other a christening present for Number Three - so it is not like I have to go searching for the book.
9 Dracula - The Bavarian has a copy of this and I have been meaning to read it for years.
10 Er Ist Wieder Da (Look Who's Back) - this controversial farce is something I want to at least try reading. I may hate it and stop but I want to give it a chance. The Bavarian enjoxed it, my friend E. hated it. What will I make of it, I wonder?.

Books 11 to 40 are yet to be decided upon. I want to leave myself the option of reading books that are yet to be published. I would hate to feel I have to read certain books when I would really love ot be reading others I have just discovered. 

If you have any suggestions of reading material (novels please. I am not much of a textbook reader), I would be thrilled if you left me a comment. 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

On Turning 37

"In three years you'll be forty and you'll have three half-grown boys by then. Then you can start to enjoy yourself again." Not quite the uplifting talk I was expecting when I was at the end of my tether with my young children recently. 

Tomorrow is my birthday and I will turn 37. While looking back over past birthdays the other day, I found that I remember the sevens the best.

For my 7th birthday my dad brought me out for lunch, bought me a bunch of daffodils and, most exciting of all, a Twinkle magazine. I felt very much the grown up little lady that day.

My 17th birthday was eventful, but made memorable by some horrible reasons. My mother was taken into hospital the day before and, to make matters worse, all of my school friends forgot my birthday. I visited the Turner watercolours in the National Gallery in Dublin alone and went out that night to someone else's 18th birthday party. 

The good times returned for my 27th birthday. The night before my birthday The Bavarian and I got engaged. You can't get much better than waking up on your birthday knowing that very exciting times are beginning. 

So what lies in wait for me tomorrow, I wonder? With the buzz of engangement, marriage and childbirth behind me now, I don't reckon with anything spectacular. And I would rather that no-one gets sick or forgets me. 

I'd be happy with a grown-up version of my 7th birthday, swapping the Twinkle magazing for something else twinkly. 

Monday 18 January 2016

An Open Letter To Frankfurt Airport

Dear Frankfurt Airport,

We have a bit of a history, don't we, you and I? I can look back now and laugh about the day you almost set the police on me for having an empty bullet cartridge in my check-in luggage. At the time it wasn't so funny. 

The Christmas my husband and I and our two young sons were snow-bound within your walls for three days has become a family anecdote. You treated us well and son number one even appeared on the evening news the second day. 

There were a few pleasantly uneventful years as we flew over and back between Frankfurt and Dublin. The children learnt the ropes and got used to walking through the security portal. The security staff were always friendly to them. My husband and I were never concerned about the situation. 

All that changed, however, with the introduction of the body scanning pods you now have in place. We first encountered them in July. It felt odd to have to strike a particular pose and be scanned conpared to walking throught a doorway and hearing, or not hearing, a beep.

It stuck us as a little strange that the baby had to be handed through the pod by me to my husband and that he had to be frisked the the security lady as my husband held him. 

The old system of walking through the portal with the baby on my arm was preferable, but no longer an option. I tend not to carry explosives, knives or guns and even if I did I doubt would hide them about my baby's person. But maybe I am not your typical passenger.  

On the evening of 26th December 2015 I undertook my first trip to Dublin alone with my three young sons. I was prepared for a lot - that one of them might briefly get lost, there would be a tantrum, or a nappy would leak. I was not in the least prepared for what actually happened.

Standing in the queue for the security scan, we took off our jackets, took out our liquids and unpacked our electronics. Seasoned travellers that we are, we thought we knew what was going on. 

Our turn came. "Are you travelling alone?" the security staff asked me. I replied that I was, with my three sons. Naively I expected some sort of assistance. 

First son number one (7 y/o) then son number 2 (5 y/o) went through the pod. As I entered the pod I saw a security man lead my sons away to the cabinets. I called to him to please wait for me. His female colleague, who was holding my toddler, blocked my way and told me to stay in the pod. 

As I was scanned my young sons were frisked. Out of my sight and against my wishes. By one person. No witness there to ensure procedures were followed. They didn't kick up a fuss or call for their mammy. They were on their best behaviour, knowing that their mammy had asked them to be good boys at the airport.

I wish now that I had clingy, bold children. Children who would scream and make a fuss, stamp on the toes of security personnel and run back to their mammy when someone tries to touch them. 

When I tried to complain I was told by the same female employee who blocked my way out of the pod, "Wir haben hier Vorschriften" [we have regulations]. Shocked, and not wanting to risk upsetting my children, I babbled something about how children should not be frisked without a parent present. 

Sadly, I was ignored. We gathered our belongings from the conveyor rollers and proceeded to the boarding gate. That is three weeks ago now, but I haven't been able to shake the feeling that this is very bad policy, malicious or not as the motives may have been. 

Just as you are concerned about the security and welfare of your passengers, I am primarily interested in the security and well-being of my children. As long as I can help it, I will not let anyone take them away and frisk them. 

My advice to you: take a good look at your "Vorschriften" and your technology, then change them.  Make it your policy that children's parents are asked and are present, if and when children really do need to be frisked after being scanned. I mean, how useless must those body scanners be if children with nothing in their pockets, wearing no buckles, belts or chains and with no metal plates inside their bodies have to be frisked as a security precaution?

Thankfully all this seems to have passed over my children's heads. But I know what I will be drilling into them before we travel through Frankfurt Airport again. "Listen to Mammy and no-one else. Scream and shout and struggle if anyone, even a security person, tries to lead you away. Be bold and make a show". 

In anticipation of a family-friendlier Frankfurt Airport,



Mummascribbles And then the fun began...

This Is Motherhood #018

Sunday 17 January 2016

Creating a Play Area For A Toddler

Number Three is a full blown toddler now. There is no denying it. He has been walking for six months and he is getting more and more independent with playing. 

When we got back from our post-Christmas holiday in Ireland, I realised it was time to re-arrange our play area so that he could have his own space. 

Up till now, what would normally be the dining room end of our long, narrow livingroom has been the boys' playroom. The floor was always littered with Lego, Playmobil and toy cars. With Number Three wandering round looking for something to play with, we couldn't go on with this situation.

Refreshed after the 12 day break from home, I got stuck into the playroom re-organisation last week and I am so pleased with the results. One week in, I can tell you that it is much easier to manage and to keep tidy. 

Basically, what I have done is fence the older boys in (I'll elaborate in a moment) and set up a toddler-friendly area separate from the big boys' realm.  

We have a fantastic room-divider that is like a massive stair gate. It is one of the best things I have bought since having Number Three (you can see the edge of it on the far left of the photo above). I've used it to cordon off half of the play area. The bookshelf and all teh toys with small pieces have been put in there. Number One and Number Two can go in and out of it as they please by opening the toddler-proof gate. Number Three can't get in, unless the gate is left open.  

But back to the toddler area itself. Back in 2010 I picked up a gorgeous red vintage bench, chair and matching red and white table at a flea market for the bargain price of €30. It was money wel spent, I can tell you. Number One and Number Two got a lot of use out of it and it has very few marks to show for it. This set has become the basis of Number Three's section of the playroom. 

Both the table and the bench have storage space built in, which makes tidying up really easy. The drawer of the table is shallow but wide and is the perfect place to keep crayons, pencils, paper and colouringbooks. 

The seat of the bench lefts up to reveal a surprisingly deep toy box. At the moment we have all the soft toys in there as well as some books. The older pair have grown out of the Punch and Judy puppets but Number Three collapses into fits of laughter as soon as I do a little bit of improv for him. 

When I was expecting Number Two in the very hot summer of 2010, I hand-sewed the navy gingham cushion for the bench. The car cushion covers were present for the boys a few years ago. If I remeber rightly, they are from the German chain Butlers. 

Of course, no room is my house is complete withouta salvaged chair and this playroom is no exception. The metal chair with the woven red seat is one of three I salvaged from our local kindergarten. They would otherwise have been dumped. I love the, literally, old school look of them and the chipped paint. Luckily there is no rust on them and the pain doesn't flake off, so there is no danger to Number Three.

The walls were already decorated with a large map of Germany and our Little Linguists' alphabet chart. The new furniture arrangement is low enough as not to block them out. All three children can access them.

There are, of course, too many toys to accommodate them all within the bench. This red basket holds all the bulky cars, trucks and Lego Duplo pieces. It is made of rubber rather than hard plastic, so it won't crack or break as it takes abuse from a boisterous toddler. 

I bought it in Aldi a year or two ago, attracted by the cute cloud-cutout pattern. Since them it has had various roles around the house - first as a toybox for Number Two them a basket for throws and blankets beside the sofa. I think it fits into its new home here in the play area very nicely. 

Overall I am really pleased with how the new arrangement has worked out. So far Number Three has spent a lot of time pottering about, discovering his toys and climbing on his new-to-him furniture. 

The way I've set things up, I can keep an eye on him from my desk, the sofa or while I iron. He can't get to the big boy toys and is happy with what he does have access to. So, so far, we are on to a winner. 

Happy and Home at A Residence blog

Home Etc

Cuddle Fairy

Thursday 14 January 2016

On The Deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman

This week the sad news reached us that two great artists left this world, the musician David Bowie and the actor Alan Rickman, both aged 69 and both dying from cancer.  

It seems to be the way that these things happen in threes - people dying in quick succession. So all evening I had been asking myself "Who is next?".

But then another question hit me suddenly. Who will replace them? Who can replace these men who have for decades been outstanding in their fields and have influenced the lives of people the world over with their performances.

David Bowie's professional career began back in 1963, 52 years ago. Throughout that time, in his various guises, he sang, he played various instruments, he studied music and art. He was a true musician. His performances were, by all accounts, legendary.  His work is art.

Alan Rickman was discovered in 1978, 38 years ago. All that time he has been a magnificent actor. His voice, his facial expressions, his ability to so convincingly become the part he was playing are hard to forget. I can't help but feel that with his death, the world has lost a real master of his craft. 

It is sad that the world has lost these great men, although they at least have been relieved of their suffering. 

What makes me sadder still is that I cannot think of anyone of my generation who could fill the void they have left in the arts. 

Yes, there are great talents out there - spectacular singing voices, excellent playwrights, gifted musicians and fine actors. But will they develop and hone their skills to the extent that we will one day so regret their passing?

Here's hoping.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

My Favourite Home-Related Christmas Presents

This Christmas was a scaled back one, presents-wise. My sister suggested a secret santa among our siblings and my college girls and I decided to skip the presents this time but make more of an effort to meet up. 

It was obvious from the few presents I did receive this Christmas that the givers put thought into their purchases. And so I ended up with some gorgeous gifts for my home.

Back in the summer I put together a wish list of Irish-designed items. It seems Santa read that post. I returned to Germany from my post-Christmas visit to Ireland with two Stephen Pearce dishes, perfect matches for the bowl I already had, and an Avoca Handweavers rug which had belonged to my Nana (thanks Dad and Mam!). 

From the Max Benjamin collection, which I have given others on several occasions and only realised recently that they are Irish too, I was given a candle and a soap set by my mother. The candle is from the Max Benjamin Tea Collection and is called Victorian Earl Grey. The scent is beautiful and tin the candle is housed in is such a pretty shade of turquoise. 

The soaps too smell divine and will suit our redecorated bathroom perfectly. Even the box they come in ties in nicely with the colour scheme of the bathroom.

Speaking of the bathroom, the boys were given a set of Cath Kidson face cloths. They are the softest thing you've ever felt. The pattern of cowboys on horseback throwing lassoes appeals to the boys very much, so fingers crossed face-washing may also gain some appeal. 

My very favourite gift for our home this Christmas has to be the cake slice from the Dunnes Stores' Carolyn Donnelly Eclectic collection

The detail on the handle is what makes it so special, I think. It pairs really well with my vintage silverware and my mis-matched china plates, both flea market finds.    

With my birthday coming up, the cake slice won't have long to wait for its first official outing. I've already been given a few presents but, not one to open my gifts before the day, I have them put away. 

I do have a sneaking suspicion though that there may be another Stephen Pearce item in there somewhere. 

Home Etc

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Multicultural Family Life - Meet the Cuddle Fairy Family

Because of the fact that we are a family made up of two nationalities, I am always interested to hear how other families in similar situations live their lives. And I thought you might be too. 

For this month's installment of Multicultural Family Life I asked a blogging pal from the Irish Parenting Bloggers to share with us how she and her family survive their multicultural family life.

Becky is a parenting & lifestyle blogger at Cuddle Fairy ( Her blog's motto is that there's positivity around every corner. Under the handle @cuddlefairy, she'd love to hear from you on social media! 

1.  Tell us a little about your family's background - where you're from, where you've lived, where you are now.

I grew up in NY & lived there until I was 26. My husband is from Ireland and we decided to move to Ireland to build our house and start our family. We have lived in the West of Ireland for the past ten years. We have three kiddies. Our oldest son is 8, youngest son is 6 & our daughter is turning 3 in the new year. There are times when I'm homesick but I really love having my children grow up in Ireland. 

2. What languages are you children exposed to? Do you have a preference for American words over English words or vice versa?

Our children are bilingual - they speak Irish English & American English. ;) They are learning Irish in school. There are so many words that are different in American English & Irish English. I had to consciously change several words, which was very difficult at first but they are part of my vocabulary now. One word I had to change was pants to trousers. In the US, pants are trousers. Here, pants are your underpants. One day someone laughed at my son for saying pants & I felt so bad! Trousers was such a foreign word for me at first. Also, the pronunciation of certain words are very different. One example is garage. I say these words with an Irish-ish accent for the kids' sake. When I visit the US sometimes I forget my American words!!

3. How do you handle holidays and ensuring your children see their American relations regularly? 

Unfortunately, we don't make it over to the US that often. The airfare is quite expensive for a family of five. When we do travel over we stay for awhile & try to see everyone. My husband's family lives near us so the kids have plenty of family for the holidays. Also, some of my family flies over regularly to visit.

4. Do you or your other half have any of the stereotypical traits of your nationality? Has this had any effect on your life in Ireland?

Oooo interesting question! I remember when my husband's family would visit us in NY. We'd always go to the pub which was really strange to me. I had never gone into a pub with my family before. Pub culture is totally different in the US. You don't see kids or families hanging out together in bars - it's a totally different atmosphere. Living in Ireland, we often go out to eat at a pub & wouldn't think twice about bringing the kids. I'm sure I have some terrible American stereotypes that I don't realize lol

5. How different, if at all, would your life be if you lived in the US rather than Ireland?

I think our lives would be very different in the U.S. We were living in the NYC area before we moved. Housing is so expensive & we'd have to send our kids to private schools there. Unless we were earning huge money, we wouldn't have a big back yard like we have here. I think country living is great for kiddies. We could have moved to the country in the U.S. of course & had a similar house but we wouldn't live near either of our families. Having my husband's family near by is a big plus!

6. Have there been any child-rearing differences between you and your husband based on the mentality of your home countries? 

No, happily!! I can't think of one example so that's good.

7. Are there any Irish customs you've adopted in child-rearing or anything else?
People are much more laid back in Ireland than in the U.S. I've become more relaxed as an individual & as a mother. Although having more children makes a person more laid back too I think. I'm sure there are other things that I can't think of. I don't notice my changes until I'm back in the U.S. & they stand out to me then, like how I pronounce certain words. 

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Becky! It is clear that even though you are a native English speaker in an English-speaking country, language issues still pop up now and again.

It is great to hear that you have settled in well to life in Ireland and that it has given you the chance to raise your children in the countryside and near their relations.  

Fingers crossed the future will allow you the opportunity to bring your children over and back to the U.S. now and again so that you can share more of your home culture with them.

[Are you interested in joining the series? Contact me on the contact form on the right. I'd love to hear from you.] 

Monday 11 January 2016

15 from '15 - My First Year of Serious Blogging

The wonderfully gifted Sadhbh who blogs at Where Wishes Come From started up a review of the year linky a few years ago and I have decided to join in by looking back on the first year in which I took blogging seriously. 

You see, back in 2008 I started a little cookery blog but by 2015 there was a lot more I wanted to write about than food. So Three Sons Later was born and here now are my 15 blog highlights from 2015.

1. Most Popular Blog Post
I suppose it depends on how you define popular, but my most-viewed post was this one on celebrating breastfeeding. It was part of a #PositiveAboutBF linky and I really enjoyed writing it, sharing the handy hints I picked up during my three bouts of breastfeeding.
The most commented-on post, on the other hand, was this light-hearted list of blog post ideas for frazzled parents.

2. Favourite Blog Post
A hard one to pick, but I think it has to be my first blog post on Three Sons Later. After some humming and hawing on whether to expand my food blog or start a second blog, I decided to start Three Sons Later and try my hand at writing something other than recipes. I am very glad I did. What I wrote in that first post, almost a year ago now, is still true and I have very much enjoyed writing, crafting, photographing, reviewing and pondering ever since.

3. Favourite Photo
Another tricky one this. Like most mothers and bloggers, I have taken a huge amount of photos over the past year - lots of dodgy snapshots, a handful of lucky snapshots and a few carefully set up photos. Choosing one and only one is damn near impossible, but I have decided to go with this one of Number Three discovering grass and daisies in the springtime sunshine.

4. Favourite Craft
My favourite craft of the year definitely has to be decorating eggs for Easter. We tried out so many different variations and ended up with a lot of gorgeous patterns that were an absolute joy to look at. Well, for me anyway. 

5. Most Common Theme
The term muddled niche springs to mind here. I have a lot of interests, from crafts to books to food to parenting. I want my blog to reflect me and my hobbies, and I hope it does, so sticking to a few themes is challenging to say the least. I suppose though parenting and home/DIY/interiors would be the main ones.

6. Favourite Comment(s)
I love it when anyone leaves any kind of nice or helpful comment, but it is the ones that are not related to a linky that I really, really appreciate. It means someone has read my blog and they didn't have to write something but they chose to. Helen from The Busy Mamas has a knack of leaving funny, upbeat comments that always make me smile. In one, she had the inspired idea to use velvet for the seat of the rocking horse I was renovating, so that would probably be one of my favourite ones. 

7. Most Productive Month
Of the twelve months of 2015, September was my most productive month of blogging. Thirty posts in thirty days! For most of August I was on holiday and only blogging intermittently, so I suppose I had a backlog of ideas and was feeling refreshed after the break. Whether I will ever reach that level of output again is unlikely, especially now that Number Three is a full-on toddler, with short naps and high energy levels. 

8. My Best Move
Tús maith leath na hoibre (a good start is half the work)Without doubt my best move, blog-wise, in 2015 was starting Three Sons Later. 

9. Favourite Freebie
This would have to be our personalised tray. I love everything about it - the shade of red, the woodand pattern and the big, fat Z in the middle with our surname below.  

10. Worst Blog Moment
An easy one - following The Blog Awards Ireland on Twitter, seeing the name of the Diaspora category winner appear and it not being mine. Sure as I was up till then that I wouldn't win, I was strangely disappointed when the time came. Then I was cross with myself for being disappointed and took myself off to bed.

11. Best Blog Moment
Another easy one, this. Winning bronze in The Blog Awards Ireland in the Diaspora category. I was so pleased to make it from the nominations to the long list. I was thriled to make it from the long list to the short list and was sure I would not get any nearer to an award than that. I didn't fly back to Dublin for awards night. As I mentioned above, I followed on Twitter, got no mention and went to bed. The following afternoon my blogging buddy Andrea from sent me a message telling me she'd been at the awards and that I had won bronze in my category. Another day later the offical e-mail from the organisers came in and I was over the moon. The only other thing I'd won before was a go-carting race. 

12. Favourite Title
My favourite actual title would have to be Summer So Strange. My favourite almost-made-it title is An Explosion and Two Sticky Knobs.

13. Favourite Blog Series
My This Is Motherhood series, which usually appears on a Monday morning, is probably my favourite series on my blog. The others - Multicultural Family Life and my Clear Out And Eat linky - are less regular and require a fair amount of mangement. But This Is Motherhood is a one or two sentence verbal snapshot of motherhood through my eyes and reflects on the situations, from the banal to the fantastic, we find ourself in as mothers. 

14. Favourite Collaboration
In the first half of 2015 I had the chance to work with Wayfair on both their UK and German sites and really enjoyed the experience. The German collaboration was with my food blog. On the UK site I took part in a craft series with my tutorial on how to sew a greeting card. I absolutely love making sewing machine embroidery pictures, so it was great to have the chance to share my tutorial with a broader audience. 

15. What My Blog Did For Me In 2015
First and foremost, it has kept my mind occupied in the way a job you love does. It has been something to turn my attention to when reading a book or crocheting a baby blanket hasn't filled my need to do something other than being a wife and mother. It has introduced me, virtually at least, to a lot of brilliant fellow bloggers. It was won me an award, enabled me to get articles published and has given me the motivation to improve my photo-taking ability.

I hope that my blog has given you some entertainment too. Thank you, readers, for sticking with me.