I am Santa Experience at Rosnakill Mum

Before Christmas, we were invited to visit Santa at his magical wonderland at Rosnakill Community Centre in Donegal.  Having NO idea what to expect, we set off on an adventure one snowy, cold afternoon.

What we were going to, was possibly THE loveliest Santa Experience we’ve ever had.


On arrival

The hall was decorated from the front hall. Trees and bunting and lights everywhere. Christmas music was playing and we were met at the door by lovely Elves.


We were led into Mrs Claus’s sitting room, where she called the roll.  I cannot tell you the SHOCK on Mini-Me’s face when their names were called out! Priceless.

Mrs Claus read them stories and then they were whisked off to ELF SCHOOL, where a cast of superbly talented young elfies reenacted some scenes from ELF, songs and all. Buddy even created his Candy Spaghetti…and ATE it! Yuck!  But the kids just LOVED it.  After “singing songs for all to hear” the kids were lead off through a magical tunnel to the next part of the journey.


I’ve never seen so many lights. Everything was covered and it truly was beautiful.

Off we went to the next room, where cookie decorating and colouring were set up.  Each family had their own personalise table, with more candy and sweeties than Buddy the Elf would have been able for.  The girls took to their tasks with gusto, and Mammy and Daddy helped too.

Then, the lovely Ladies went around with freshly cooked Pancakes! AND hot chocolate. The atmosphere in this room was electric as one by one, the elves called the different families in to meet Santa.

And then it was our turn.

Santa’s room was AMAZING! And Santa was soooooo lovely.  He took time to speak to the girls and laughed a bellylaugh when Mini-Me told him she was probably on BOTH lists because sometimes she forgot to be good.

We got more sweets, two gift bags and our photographs taken by an Elf. (I must give special mention to this little Elf.  Wise beyond her years and oh so eloquent and confident.  She was amazing!)

We returned to the room to collect our pictures and art. There were even calendars for them to colour in and take home, as well as little decorations.

The presents knocked me off my feet.  Personalised, handmade reindeer.  Each one with a little scarf that was hand-knit by a local Mammy.

ANd of course, Mammy got her photo taken with Santa too!


Yes. I shall always end up on Santa’s knee 🙂

This is no ordinary village hall.  How could it be with the people who are running it?  The imagination, the attention to detail, the effort, the pride, the community spirit… The love that went into this project was infectious.    The group who ran it were working harder than any elves I’ve ever seen.  The atmosphere was incredible.

The visit lasted just under an hour, and we all left happy, fed and full of Christmas spirit. Then a few days afterwards, this photograph arrived in the post from Santa.


Yes, she’s wearing wellies.

This experience books up quickly, and I see why.  We can’t wait to return next year.

Well done to all involved and thank you for having us.

The S-Mum


(Mammy and the family were invited guests of Santa, but all comments and reviews are honest and reflective of the experience we had.)

I am Scheme of Things Mum

Well it’s all done and dusted.

This year was pretty disastrous to be fair. At one point on Christmas Eve it felt like anything that could go wrong, was going to! 

And it did…

😐Our heating system broke a few days before Christmas and can’t be fixed until January. 

😐The Christmas tree lights broke on Christmas Eve.

😐My hoover broke. 

😐Princess has been sick ALL over Christmas.

We didn’t get all of the wee cousins together for even ONE photograph. She was having NONE of ANYTHING and has spent the past 4 days sitting ON Mammy. How I cooked dinner, feck knows.

She is literally only looking at what Santa left this morning…wee pet.

We’ve been to the doctors today and hopefully now she’ll be on the mend, but Christ having a poorly Babby in the house over Christmas just dampens it all, doesn’t it?


In the scheme of things, “whatever”.

And of course, in the scheme of things, I have NOTHING to complain about.

In the scheme of things, there are so many others who would kill for my little disasters. 

But when you’re in the midst of things, “the scheme of things” means Jack Shit.

And sometimes, if Mammy wants to roll her eyes to Heaven, stamp her foot and declare “fuck this for a bag of parsnips” or “Christmas spirit my arse”, then she shall. Because in MY scheme of things, things could have been better!  

And I Shouldn’t feel guilty for grumbling a bit. When it’s Mammy’s job to keep everyone else smiling, if she wants to feel a bit sorry for her sorry wee self when things break or go wrong, that’s allowed too. As usual however, after swearing a bit and cursing everything,  Mammy pulled up her big girl knickers and sucked it up.

In the scheme of things, wee buns.

We did have a lovely Christmas. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧

Mini-me has had the time of her Wee life and isn’t that what really matters?

The lights got replaced at 10pm on Christmas Eve.

The Gillespie Mafia had 8 heaters on my doorstep within an hour of my Daddy sending the S.O.S to my aunts and Uncles. 

The hoover magically came to life again IN the shop when I took it in to complain, making me look all levels of psychobitch to the 4 snuggling Salesmen behind the counter on Christmas Eve.

And the Princess simply has a yucky old flu that will eventually pass,  so really, Mammy shouldn’t complain.

In the scheme of things, it was fab.  

I did get a few nice snaps, but Trust me, for each if the nice ones, there are 8 real-lifers. 

And everyone has them. So remember as you’re looking at all the picture perfect Instafeeds, behind all of those picture perfect moments, there might be a broken fridge, or a Puking baby, or broken heating, or a wobbly marriage, or a Screaming toddler, or a nasty illness, or a broken heart or an empty chair…

Real Life usually happens off camera,  (but when we DO capture it, it can be so funny that it reminds us that “in the scheme of things”, real life rocks! 👇👇👇)

How was your Christmas Mammies? Any clangers for me?

I am Sending Christmas Wishes Mum


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land,

The magic was starting and all was in hand.

The trees were lit up and the turkeys were prepped,

The dog was quite cozy by the tree where he slept.

The sugar-filled children were bouncing and reeling,

The reindeer dust sprinkled, the cookies still cooling.

They hoped for and wished that the Big Man would bring

The gifts that they’d ask for, to make their hearts sing.

They stared at the skies, with eyes that were bright

As the stars they were searching for Santa’s sleigh lights.

The parents enjoyed the excitement and fun

But hoped they’d soon sleep.  There were jobs to be done.

Santa’s snacks were set out and the stories were read

As the children got snuggled and cozy in bed.

With a sigh of relief and ten checks that they’re sleeping

Mammy opened the nice secret treats she’d been keeping.

They finished their jobs and left everything right

For the Big Man in red who would visit tonight.

And they danced in the kitchen, and with Bublé they’d sing

Excited themselves, for what morning would bring.

For the joy and excitement, the gifts and the hugs

For the fact they’re together and truly know love,

For their family and friends, far away and close by,

For the innocence and magic that can’t money can’t buy,

For the dinner and chocolates and all of the food,

For the laughter and smiles, for the contented mood,

That comes with the sunrise on each Christmas Day,

And they counted their blessings as they ended their day.

So, tired but happy, Mammy turned off the light,

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!”

(Maria Rushe 2017)

Wishing you a magical Christmas

This Mammy wants to wish all of my wonderful readers a truly magical and wonderful Christmas.  I hope Santa is good to you all and that you have everything you dream of.

The S-Mum xx



I am Snapshot Through your Window Mum

The one thing that I love about the long, dark evenings of winter, might seem strange to some.

“You’re doing it again aren’t you?” Himself will say to me in the car as we drive along, if I’ve gone quiet beside him.


I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl, sitting behind Mum and Dad in our seatbelt-free VW Golf as we drove through the winding Donegal roads at night.

Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I love looking through the windows of people’s homes.


I don’t mean that I walk around playing “Peeping Tomette”.  NO, of course not.  But when you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car and it’s dark or getting dark, and people have yet to close their curtains, it’s amazing the little glimpses you can get into the worlds of strangers.

I look. And for a split second, I see a tableaux; a freezeframe – a photograph if you like of the home and sometimes the people in it.  I imagine who they are; what they’re saying and what it’s like to be there, among them.  Who has just walked into the room to make the child jump up like that?  Where is he going? What are they talking about? My imagination creates full scenarios for the “characters” of these snapshots.


Christmas is my favourite time to do this, and with Christmas trees in windows, it’s the perfect time to catch beautiful moments.  These are where the real Christmas-Card-worthy moments happen;  A Granny laughing by the fireplace.  An uncle arriving home.  Windows being cleaned.  A dog being scolded for jumping on a sofa.  A child being lifted up high.

Snapshots, if you will.


Obviously, on Christmas Day, I don’t do this…  because I’m not in the car much.

And so, I thought I’d get glimpses into the homes of others in a different way.  I asked some of the top Parenting writers in the country what I would see if I happened to look through their windows over Christmas?

Each of them has kindly sent me a description of their very own perfect freezeframe; what they hope you’d see and what they hope to be doing while the world drives by next Monday.


What would I see if I looked through YOUR window over Christmas?


Jen from –  Mama-tude loves Christmas Eve most.

“My favourite moment of Christmas is Christmas Eve morning when the children wake up. It’s the one morning of the year that I’m very grateful for their early morning rising tendencies. They always bounce into our room, fit to burst with excitement knowing that Santa is coming that night.

My mum always arrives super early that morning with a special Christmas chocolate cake. She has come to terms with her daughter’s lacking of domestic goddess skills so in the interest of her grandchildren’s palate, she does the baking! Then we turn on the laptop, log onto Norad Santa tracker and countdown the minutes until he leaves. And so begins their excited running commentary on his whereabouts for the duration of the day.”    


Ross from  –  The Stented Papa
If you were to take a peek through my window on Christmas morning, you’d see a busy, excited household. 
The funny thing is it depends on what time you’d be taking a peek! We’ve actually had to wake Nip #1 up for the last two Christmas mornings!! Even knowing Santa was coming, she was happy to sleep in! But I’ve a feeling this year will be a bit different. 
So once everyone is awake, it’s a busy & excited place. Wrapping paper everywhere, the nips playing with their new toys, showing & telling us all about them. Christmas tunes in the background, dressing gowns on, fresh coffee brewing. 
Then we get dressed & head over to Granny’s house for a big breakfast & more presents. Then around 1pm we head for Great Grandad Shay’s house with about 30 family (my in-law’s side) for some fun & yep, you’ve guessed it – more presents!!! 
Finally back to ours this year for Christmas dinner with all the usual trimming & the odd glass of vino – sure it is Christmas ya know!! Cheers to the perfect day!”

Kellie from –  My Little Babóg

“I would love to say all happy and merry but in reality you will probably see absolute carnage and one or both parents swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels by midday. Christmas morning with a 1, 2, 3 and 7 year old is gonna be like any other day except with a skip full of new toys, wrapping paper and boxes upon boxes of selection boxes like the old days. It will be messy but hopefully full of fun and laughter.”
Jolene from –  One Yummy Mummy

“Daddy of the house running down the stairs in his pjs to check and see if santa came; He lets us know with an excited roar up if he has. 

Bursts of excitement from my 4 year old running down and crashing thru the living room door to see all the presents.  Then you’ll Catch a glimmpse of few tears  as I get caught up in the emotion of it all. Then to the kitchen were you,ll spy a few of my dance moves with a bucks fizz in hand, basting the turkey, with christmas FM in full swing.”

Becky from   –  Cuddle Fairy 

“Christmas morning if you looked through our window you would see all of the Christmas lights on. Three kids happily tearing off wrapping paper and parents assembling toys. We are all in our pajamas with sleepy heads and unwashed faces. It’s straight downstairs when the kids wake up. There’s nothing as magical as Christmas morning.”


Benny from Daddy Poppins  

“What would you see if you looked through out window on Christmas morning?  In a word, Mayhem. We’ve two hyperactive children at the best of times but the magic of Christmas will send them over the edge. Think Santa’s elves high on sherbet and candy canes (but in child form, obviously). There’ll be wrapping paper everywhere and our little terrors will be flitting from toy to toy, unsure which to settle on for their first proper play. Mammy and Daddy will be trying to coax them into posing for pictures with their new acquisitions but it will all be in vein. Nothing will hold those little magpies attention for long as they dart from one shiny new thing to the next. Mayhem, but the good kind.”


There’s so much to see, if you only look closer…

And as for THIS Donegal Mammy?   The carpet shall be clattered and camouflaged by wrapping paper and toys. Michael Buble will be crooning from the tellybox.  Daddy shall be building stuff and Mammy shall be eating, starting the day with the obligatory Football Special and Terry’s chocolate orange!  The girls will be hyped up on life, excited to the brink by cousins and presents and Grandparents and fun.  Mammy and Daddy shall be screenfree, intent on not scolding for the day and stealing kisses every time we pass under mistletoe… And there still shall be tears and jobs to do and maybe the odd tantrum, and probably a few dirty nappies, but in the midst of it all, there shall be glitter and sparkle and love.  And even the jobs and nappies and tears shall be dealt with with extra smiles and magic; with that special, inexplicable feeling that comes only with Christmas Day.


Whatever is happening in your window frame this Christmas, I do hope it is wonderful and joyful and as stress free as possible.  I’d love you to share your snapshot in the comments.
Sending much love and Christmas wishes to all,

The S-Mum  xxxxxxx



I am Santa Letter Mum


Dear Santa…

Dear Santa,

I hope that you and Mrs. Claus are well.  I have been the bestest Mammy I could be, (most of the time), this year.

For Christmas, Mammy would like diamonds around my neck, a spa break and a big hug from a Fablis Chanel coat.  Mammy would also like:

  • an uninterrupted shower
  • to experience the joy of independent excretion on the porcelain throne…alone
  • for the children to recognise Daddy as the other perfectly capable adult who can do things for them in our home
  • for some, even only a few, sentences to start with “Daddy” rather than “Mammy”, just for one day.
  • for all of the seasonal bugs and sniffles to bugger off for a week!
  • for a laundry fairy to magic away the pile, just for a few hours

But, while all of these things would indeed be wonderful, Mammy must say Santa, that really, I need nothing.

As cliched and silly as it might sound, I have everything I want right in front of me. As much as I give out about the daily pains of being a “fulltime-everything-to-everyone”, I would’t have it any other way.


My world 

These two little minions are mine. They are my carbon copies; a perfect little mixture of myself and my Him. For all their tantrums and chaos, they are my world.  They give their Daddy and I so much fun every day.  I’m glad I have their mucky little faces slabbering biscuits all over me, and their snottery noses to wipe. With each tantrum, I see two headstrong little girls who will change the world one smile at a time, and I know that they will be fine. Their arms around my neck are my diamonds.

And as for My Him?  Yes I might give out that he spends too much time with our Jim, but that’s OK too. He’s the hardest working man I know, just like my own Daddy. I wouldn’t have him any other way. We lead crazy busy lives, but at the end of every hectic day, we come home to each other. He’s my big bad handsome man. He’s the only person in the world who knows me better than I know myself. He’s my Him and he’s the only hug I need this Christmas.

Uninterrupted showers are overrated. Soon enough, I shall have privacy in the bathroom once more.  I will eventually find myself missing the fat little fingers against the glass. The snots and sniffles and puking, thankfully, come and go.  How blessed I am that they do.  The tears and tantrums might be plentiful, but they are outweighed by smiles and giggles that make the world chuckle in unison.

And they can “Mammy” me as much as the want.  That’s what I’m here for.  That’s what I am.

So yes Santa, “things” would of course be nice, but as for getting me what I need?  Don’t worry.  I don’t need anything. In the midst of the mess and laundry and chaos and tears and noise and stresses, it turns out that when I think about it, I have everything I could ever want right here already.

Have a wonderful Christmas Santa.

Lots of love,

Mammy xx




I am Some Christmas Reality Mum


I LOVE it! I love everything about it.  I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles.  I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.

But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms.  None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included.  Of course not.  We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve gont our sh*t together.

MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.

Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie.  Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner.  Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done.  In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.

Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.


The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.

Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”.  The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.

Visiting – Yes, but the over excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring  Grandparent enters the room.  Add sugar before wrestling kids into car.  Perfect!

Bake cookies:  Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go.  Mary Poppins indeed.


My favourite!

Hot chocolate: Not Belgian.  Not fancy.  Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out..


Sure why not?

Movie:  In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return.  And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.

Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised.  I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers.  No point in both of us making it, is there?


Mulled wine:  Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice.  Done.  (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)

Prepping dinner:  This I DO do.  Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!)  PS.  Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!?  Go for it Mammy.  It’s Christmas after all!


Do you really need baubles on the plates?

Lists:  Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought.  I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later.  TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.

Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”.  Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day.  And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?


Warning… lasts a maximum of 3 minutes!

Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t.  Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons.  They do not need to be Pinterest worthy.  Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags.  Sorted.  Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.


I wrapped these myself…not!

Waiting for Santa?  Yeah.  After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other!   Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!

Seriously though.



What’s in that cup Mammy?

Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.

The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy.  NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents.  No one cares what your kids get from Santa.  No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.

While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics  or share ANYTHING on social media.  You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.

If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you .

Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.

Enjoy it!





I am Special Fundraiser Mum

Well what can we say?

Today, we had the most festive few hours with the most wonderful people and raised lots of money for two very worthy charities.  The Jack and Jill Foundation and The Victoria Thompson Scholarship do such incredible work for so many families and children all over the country.  What better cause to do a fundraiser for before Christmas, than Children and their parents?


A few months ago, I commented to The Him that it’d be lovely to watch the Polar Express on the big screen again.  “Make it happen then” he said.  So I did.


Today, 220 smiling faces watched the Christmas Classic on the Biggest screen in Century Cinemas.


The queues began to form at the cinema from before 11am, with the excited crowd clutching their golden tickets.


Tickets were punched by the Polar Express Conductor, (The Him does have a fun side outside of Jim!) and everyone, EVERYONE, received a little Jingle Bell, just like the bell in the movie, as they entered.  No one has any excuse not to believe now…


We thanked everone for coming and for supporting, before presenting a cheque to Sharon Thompson from the Victoria Thomspson Scholarship.


(We’re meeting a representative from Jack & Jill next week!) Then we told the girls and boys that the train needed some Christmas magic to get started, and so the crowd sang Jingle Bells before the much awaited feature.


And, just as we’d hoped, it was WONDERFUL!  It’s a beautiful movie and the runaway train scene was just as spectacular on the big screen as it was the first time we saw it.  The most magical part for me was when everyone started to jingle their little bells as Santa arrived.  It was AMAZING!

And this evening, I’m smiling from ear to ear at the photographs of families at the event, and of the kids hanging the bells on their trees at home.

Thanks to our followers and friends, we were able to present over €900 to EACH of our chosen charities; The Jack and Jill Foundation and The Victoria Thompson Scholarship.  But tonight, I can happily announce that the final total for each charity is a whopping €1000!  

The event was sponsored by Rushe Fitness and wouldn’t have happened without Anne-Marie, Pete and Mark in Century Cinemas.  Thank you all so much for supporting yet another one of my random ideas.

So that’s that… for now! It might just need to be an annual event apparently, but I’ll get tonight over me before I start planning anything else!


We do hope that everyone who joined us today had a wonderful time and once again, thank you to you all.

The S-Mum & The Conductor…



I am Sneak Peak of Santa Express Mum

The Santa Express at Oakfield Park was such a treat last year that I was probably one of the first to book for this year when it went on sale.  


You all know how much I love this park, and one of my favourite things about it is that they add to it and improve it every winter.  Well, with the Santa Experience, they’ve done it again. It’s bigger and better than last year.

 We’re not going with the girls until later in the month, but Santa and his elves invited myself and The Him to pop over tonight for their opening night to have a sneak peak!  Oakfield Park has once again been transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland and if you have booked tickets, you are in for a treat.

We didn’t go on the train or meet Santa tonight as we want to save that for when the girls are with us.  We simply had a wander around the artisan market in the Plaza, which is new this year and full of fab stalls by local traders.

The atmosphere is perfect…cozy and excited. Christmas music lilts subtly through the park and the lights are spectacular, all over the park. The piano background music in Buffers is beautiful…very relaxing.

The Elves, like last year, were brilliant.  Lead by the marvellous Mollie Mistletoe, they were energetic, festive and fun. The Elf Workshop is running in the marquee with elves teaching visitors how to be an elf, arts and crafts and storytelling with Mrs Claus.

What can you expect when you get there?

 You shall board the train to go on a journey through the woodland to visit Santa and meet the elves. Keep an eye out along the way for surprises and secrets in the forest such as the elf washing line.

Children will receive a certificate to say they have been on the nice list as well as a small gift, and a mulled wine or hot chocolate for the adults is included in your ticket.

Things to know for your visit:

A photographer will be in Santa’s Grotto to capture the magical moment you meet Santa with prints available to purchase during your visit.  

Wrap up warm.  It was dry and mild tonight, but it was cold! Lots of layers and hats!.


Some of the artisans participating in the market are:

Amelia’s Irish DesignBallyholey Farm ShopBernie Murphy TextilesThe Counter Deli, Hammer & TongsMarina Hamilton Painter and Sculptor, Modern Eire (Printmaker and Designer), Rathlin Knitwear.

We’ve had a lovely date night tonight and are even more excited about coming to visit Santa later in the month now.  I can’t wait to see the wee faces on my two little Rascals.  Oakfield Park has once again created a magical experience for the whole family.

Tonight was the perfect start to our Christmassy weekend.  We have our Polar Express Fundraiser in Century tomorrow and then Sunday will be the Toy Show and decorating the house.  Any notion we had of waiting until next weekend has gone well and truly out the window after tonight.


I am Surviving a Mary-of-the-Poppins Christmas Mum.


This week’s Thoroughly Modern Mammy column for Donegal Woman is an updates post on Christmas Survival for the Mary of the Poppins types…

“Surviving Christmas,” “Christmas Survival Tips for the Working Mum”, “How to Survive Christmas”…

I googled these last night.

Some of the “advice” online is nothing short of HILARIOUS.  I fear most of it may have been written by one of the following:

🎄Mary of the Poppins herself

🎄Someone without kids

🎄A Man… 😂😂😂
Here are some of the best pieces I gleaned, followed by my honest and polite responses: (Buckle up!)

1.  “Be Prepared.”

No sh*t Sherlock.  As opposed to waking on Christmas Eve and remembering to buy a turkey and gifts? Seriously…  This is a useless piece of advice. It’s like telling a woman to calm down.  When in the history of the world has telling a woman to calm down, resulted in her calming down?  Never. So telling a Mammy to “Be Prepared” for Christmas, is NOT helpful.
2. “Buy gifts throughout the year and wrap them as you go.” 

Now this one I can partially agree with, except S-Mum’s version would read “Buy gifts throughout the year, put them somewhere safe and then forget all about them until the week before Christmas, when you have all the gifts bought and then open a box or bag or suitcase and find all the PawPatrol jigsaws you bought in July.  Or even better, find them when you’re putting the decorations away in January!”

3. “Choose a theme for your gifts to add that personal magic”. 

Here’s a theme.  Shut.  up.  Most of us just about manage to buy for everyone we have to buy for.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll remember someone on Christmas Day and freak out with guilt and embarrassment and mumble some crap about it not being delivered on time, before popping to the loo to order on Amazon with next day delivery.

(But if you doooooo want to add a personal touch and be remembered fondly by your loved ones, put glitter🦄 into all of the cards and gifts so that their floors get clattered and you are applauded for spreading the magic of Christmas. Go ahead, I dare you! 😂😂)
4. “Place delicate or expensive ornaments on higher branches.

Ok this one, I can empathise with.  Especially if you have toddlers or dogs. 🐶But in reality, put delicate or expensive decorations in the ATTIC and leave them there until 2026.

5. “Ice the Christmas Cake 2 weeks before Christmas”

Or in real life, remember on the 23rd that for some reason you need a Christmas cake to have in the kitchen which will never be cut or eaten.  Then you’ll  either pop to Marks of the Spensive or decide not to bother with cake this year. Either way, it doesn’t really matter does it?
6. “Decorating the home should be a family occasion followed by a family meal.”

Oh really? Should it really? If by “family meal” you mean a bottle of wine after the kids have all gone to bed, then yes…yes this is true. 😅

Decorating the home is, for most, a painful and highly stressful process which generally takes more than one afternoon and involves tears, mess and even declarations of divorcing children… and husbands.  If you can get the actual tree up in one go, save yourself the stress and put everything else up by yourself, on your own, without the rest of the family annoying your head.  After bedtime is ideal.😘😉
7. “Keep alcohol locked away.”

Out of the reach of children yes, but keep the key in your frilly fricking apron Mammy Poppins.
8. “Stock up on essentials:  batteries, bread, milk and cream.”

Why there is no gin or wine on this list, is beyond me.

9. “Go Christmas Shopping without children. Bring a drink and a snack with you.” 

Who the hell wrote this? It is common knowledge that drinking while shopping with your children is frowned upon in civil society.  Oh… they meant for the children?  Ohhhh… I knew that.  Well, here’s an idea.  If you can get someone to mind the minions for an hour, OF COURSE, go Christmas shopping without them. Then, if you really want to follow the Perfect Mammy rule book, have a drink and eat all the snacks… by yourself!
10. “Create a cleaning schedule for your home to keep on top of things this Christmas”.

There aren’t enough swear words for this one. A Cleaning Schedule? Who the hell has time to write a cleaning schedule? In the time it would take me to write a cleaning schedule, I would probably have half the cleaning done.  If you can keep floors lego free and counters salmonella free, you’re doing great! You deserve a treat. 💚

Riddle me this Mammies?  Why would you spend hours cleaning before opening the boxes of decorations that are going to cause the whole place to need hoovered and dusted again in an hour anyway?  Why?

So there were the Top Ten pieces of advice from the various Perfect Mammy websites…

There were a few little nuggets in fairness.  Some of the better advice included “Scale down your expectations”, “Invent your own traditions”, and “Give yourself a break.”  

Another gem that I completely agree with is “Buy disposable baking trays”: I stock up on aluminium turkey trays every year and everything is cooked in them.  It’s a life saver!

Alos, Yes to shopping lists. And sublists. (Any list!  I do love me alist!)  Plan your meals for Christmas week and do the shopping based on the list.  It will save you from buying piles of stuff that you won’t actually use. Will you actually use that goose fat or are you only buying it because it’s beside the cranberry sauce you’ve lifted…that no one in your house eats.

AND  remember to factor in Christmas Eve Dinner too.  Don’t do my speciality… realise you have a fridge full of food and nothing for the dinner when you finally get back to the house on Christmas Eve.  This will lead to arguments about who is going to the shop AGAIN, or toast for dinner.

The “Preparing for Christmas” articles largely did what they always do however; they put undue pressure on already busy parents to stress themselves to create a Hallmark worthy perfect Christmas card-esque scene that, in reality, is nonsense.

Do what YOU want to do.  Buy what YOU can afford.  Cook what YOU like to eat. If you don’t like mince pies, don’t fricken buy them. If you want to let your kids open all of the presents on Christmas morning, do it!  If you like to wrap all the everything, do so.  If you don’t, DON’T!

It’s that simple.  We don’t need a survival list to survive Christmas, we need to give ourselves a break and enjoy it, because if you take a second to stop and look around you, often in the midst of lost presents and superfluous food shopping, you can see a little bit of magic without having to buy it.

A perfect family Christmas is like a Perfect Parent… all that’s REALLY needed is love and what works for YOU!
What is your favourite “Survival tip” and why?

I am So Not a Halloween Mum

Today’s Thoroughly Modern Mammy for Donegal Woman

You know the BEST thing about Halloween?

Once, it’s over, it is FINALLY Christmas. I’m not a fan. For this little Mammy, Halloween is simply a pot hole which we have to drive through to get to Santa Season.🎅

The Him however, LOVES it.🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

He loves it so much that he insists on making a huge fuss about it with the girls. It seems that both of the minions, especially the Older one, have inherited Daddy’s love of the season of orange and creepy crap. In fact, Himself and the two of them went AT the destruction/decorating of the house with such gusto yesterday evening, that I went outside to clean the windows.

Yes, you read right. I voluntarily left my cosy living room and went out into the cold to wash the windows. When I returned, it looked like Scooby Doo and Shaggy had puked the contents of the Mystery Machine all over the room.

I thought I was being clever last week getting the painters to come in. “No bluetack on the walls Daddy. It’s just been painted” I announced as I flounced out the door with my bucket and chamois, smug that my genius plan had reduced the possibility for decorations on every surface!🎃

How futile that was. He simply found somewhere else to hang everything and has completely destroyed my kitchen units…

There are witches and ghouls and spiderwebs and spiders (she forgets that last week she was afraid of them!) and there are little green and orange lights EVERYWHERE.

The (clean thank you) windows have jelly skeletons and witches on them and random lamps shout or cackle at me as I walk past. They may end up in the Swilly.

But most annoying and upsetting of all, is his need to make all of my pictures and photo frames uneven on the walls. It apparently adds to the effect.😥

All it REALLY adds to is my desire to scream and punch someone in the nose.

But Herself loves it. And they had great fun all evening putting everything up. I feel that the fact that she is doing something that Mammy dislikes and tuts at, is adding to her love for it. Until November 1st, it’s Mini-Me and Daddy 1, Mammy and Santa 0.

I refuse to admit that they’ve done a good job and that actually the place looks kind of cool. I’ll grumble about having to dress up. I’ll scold about the photographs hanging sideways on the walls. I’ll curse everytime I have to stretch up to lift the pumpkin lights so I can close the cupboard door.

But I’ll do all of this, not because I ACTUALLY hate the holiday, but because it adds to the enjoyment and mischief that The Him and Mini-Me get out of their mutual taunting of Silly Mammy.

Will I get into the spirit of it? Of course I will, (and gin is a spirit so technically, he can’t argue!)😂 I’ll dress up. I’ll dress the girls up. We’ll go to town and meet friends for Trick or Treating. We might even venture into the fireworks this year.

I’ll show her how to make a witch’s costume out of a bin bag and tinfoil, before letting her dress in the unoriginal and manufactured costume I bought her.

I’ll do the bobbing for apples with them, before wondering why the hell I thought this would be a good idea.

I’ll talk about baking an apple pie, before buying one for handiness.

I’ll paint her face every morning this weekend, before scolding that the facepaint must be made of concrete and complaining that it won’t come off.

I’ll pretend to be a witch and get so into character that I scare the bejaysus out of Princess.

And I’ll pretend to hate the whole season, because I know how special it is for Daddy and Mini-Me to have a love of something together that doesn’t include Mammy. Even better if it gives them an excuse to form an alliance and rebel against her eh?

Because these are the memories we are making in our home and every year, they become more and more natural and fun.

And then on Tuesday night, at midnight, POOF! Glitter and Christmas and Jingles EVERYWHERE! And The Him can buckle up, because he only THINKS he knows how to decorate a house!

He ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!😂😂🎅🎅😛😛

What are your favourite Halloween traditions?🎃🎃🎃