Crazy Crazy Golf

This week we’ve been on holiday. Our first family holiday abroad with the two nippers. Given how we were illness magnets for most of Thomas’s first year, last summer we did a stay-cation. In that we stayed in our own house, took time off work, and did loads of little day trips instead.
But this year we decided to be insane and go to lands foreign, a Eurocamp located in Domaine des Ormes in Brittany. As Eurocamps go it has all the usual stuff. Tents for the younger travelers, little log cabins for the families who like to shit in a small cupboard (our category) and some fancy ass villa style things that are expensive just to look at.

Accommodation aside the site also has some activities that people can partake in and a swimming pool, with a roof so that the gingers don’t immediately catch flames and heat the water for the rest of the swimmers. It was one of the activities that myself and the ladyfriend decided to try out hand at the other evening. See neither of us are ‘sun holiday’ types. As in the sort of person who is happy to go away for a week and literally sit by the pool all day drinking and getting skin cancer. Not that there is anything wrong with that sort of holiday (but seriously, trust me on the sunscreen), it is just we get bored quickly. A day or two of that and we are off looking for villages to explore or old churches to visit. In our younger, non-parent, days we would have even done some of the activities. Such as crazy golf. See I enjoy a bit of friendly competition. Herself, on the other hand, gets a bit competitive. So crazy golf as a family should have been a fine way to pass away some time.
Except we forgot one crucial thing: our kids are bat shit crazy. Do you crazy golf, bro? Because you haven’t crazy golfed until you crazy crazy golf.
We had the little eighteen hole course entirely to ourselves, which is more a win for any of the other guests at the campsite than it is for us. For you see neither of our kids played crazy golf. They played something else, with rules written in Sanskrit on the air between raindrops. Olivia, Thor bless her, decided that hitting the ball into the hole was no fun. However climbing over the obstacles and throwing the ball, full force, at the hole was much more fun. Almost as much fun as taking a swing at her fifteen month-old brother with the stick…because ‘reasons’. When she wasn’t doing either of these activities she was playing her own version of ‘Queen of the Castle’. The castle being the fourteenth hole, where an actual little castle stood but one big enough for a nearly four-year-old girl. From here she declared to the world there were dragons, fairies, pirates, bad guys and fuckers all around the place.

She learned that last one from her mother. I never curse.
Honestly, I rarely fucking swear.
Then we get to Thomas. Hardly a bastion of sanity in this crazy mixed up golf game we were playing, but definitely a lemming to some degree. The way the course was built meant there were two levels to it, with a slope running for about four feet upwards between them. Of course the slope was something you never stepped on, because the course wound around it. But Thomas, Odin bless him, saw the slope as a challenge. A declaration that the world needed him, nay required him, to crawl towards the small fence and duck underneath then full on Superman off the top to race down.
IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BACKSWING!
Luckily I was a few strides away from him and raced over, catching him before screams of pain and injury occurred. My reward? I was marked down by herself on the scorecard because my ball left the hole and Thomas then started screaming because I hadn’t let him injury himself. Fuck my life.

Olivia then, never wanting to feel left out, declared at the fifteenth hole that she was bored. That crazy craze was boring and mummy and daddy should stop and go home.
You bring the little shits away to shores new for a holiday and they can’t let you pretend for thirty minutes that you are still people who do silly things like play crazy golf.
Ingrates.
Of course that would have been the end of it, had Thomas not then decided to munch down on his golf ball. A few chomps in and he hurt himself, go figure, and started crying again. So yeah, don’t go telling me you’ve played crazy golf until you’ve played Ultimate Crazy Golf (our kids may be required, other kids may behave in a more normal manner).

Derek

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Leave it out

We’re in France but we’re dedicated to our followers, all five of you 馃槀

Recorded live from our campsite we bitch and moan about leave afforded to mums and dad’s in Ireland. Regina, if you are reading, turn away now.

Leave it out

You gotta know when to hold it

It’s 8am and I am still in bed. In fact we all are. Believe me, no one is more shocked at this than I am. The wee ones have recently started taking great joy in waking with boundless energy at 6am…but only if it is a Saturday or Sunday. Come Monday morning and the start of a new working week and it being all systems go they couldn’t be roused from their slumber at 7am by a fucking 100 piece marching band parading along their bedsides.

So when the lie ins come you just gotta take them. Which begs the question, why am I not enjoying my second or third little snooze of the morning. I need to pee. And I have done since 5.30.

Alas our little holiday cabin has one toilet which happens to be right beside the room both wee ones are currently snoring away in. I had a very reasonable internal debate with the voices in my head and the end result is the risk just wouldn’t be worth the pay off. Let sleeping dogs (and children) lie.

So I lie here testing the strength of my pelvic floor in physical pain but mental peace. I may need to pee but I also need these few and very rare moments of silence. You gotta know when to hold it. And so I wait.

Karen

Solo Run

On our latest podcast Derek is joined by Susan.

Susan is a working mam to Chloe, age six and her and Derek have a chat about her journey as a single parent.

You can listen by clicking the link below. Parenting Pobal is also available on Spotify, iTunes, Podbean and all good podcasting apps.

A full list of our episodes are on our podcast page.

Solo Run

Karen

Archer the Marine Biologist. Autism Awareness Month

As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end I was joined on the podcast by Johanne who talks candidly about her journey as mum to Archer who is a talented artist, fascinated by marine life, king of hugs, devoted big brother and also just happens to have autism.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the link below. The episode is also available in iTunes, podbean, Spotify and all good podcast platforms.

A list of out podcasts is available on the Podcasts page.

Thank you to Johanne for taking the time to speak so honestly with me.

Karen

Archer the Marine Biologist

Parenting a child with asthma

Our daughter was a little over one year old when we noticed something was amiss with her chest and lungs.

Chest infection

It started with a small chest infection. She had just started cr猫che so we were expecting the onslaught of viruses and bugs. It didn鈥檛 seem to be shifting I booked her in with the GP, it was a Friday so I didn鈥檛 want to run the risk of it worsening over the weekend. On Saturday morning I met a friend and her little girl for breakfast and a catch up. Olivia seemed in good form, full of chatter.

Then within the space of 20 minutes she had gone pale and was shivering and shaking uncontrollably. Her wee lips were turning blue as if she was freezing but her temperature had spiked to 40oC. I rang my husband and he picked us up straight away and we headed into Crumlin. Despite serious overcrowding we were admitted right away and that put the fear of God in me as at that point you know if after triage you are not turfed back into the waiting room then something is very wrong.

It turned out she had pneumonia, a chest x-ray also showed it had done a fair bit of damage in her lungs. Everyone was baffled as to how she contracted it and how quickly it escalated.

It would be months before we got an explanation.

The aftermath

She was plagued with a constant cough afterwards. And I don鈥檛 just mean a little cold and a sniffle I mean she sounded like she smoked 90 fags a day and was constantly practising for a seal impersonation competition. We had countless late night runs to the doctors and were persistently placated with terms like 鈥榲iral infection鈥 鈥榡ust a touch of croup鈥 鈥榯ry giving her calpol鈥 and so on. On top of the constant coughing she was forever coming down with chest infections. We rarely got to see the same doctor so every time we were explaining her situation we were made feel like we were overreacting because (as often happens in cases of croup for example) the cool air would ease her symptoms.

It wasn鈥檛 until we moved house and settled in with a new GP that we finally started getting somewhere. It was on our third visit to him that he asked had she been checked out for asthma. He explained that it would be unusual to get an asthma diagnosis for a child so young but he strongly suspected that this is what was at play. He offered to refer us to a specialist and he stated all her symptoms and the reasons why he suspected asthma.

Stupid health system

In typical fashion we got an appointment that was over a year away. We couldn鈥檛 go through a year of our baby girl coughing so much she was bringing up blood and getting sick. A year of spending nights with her wrapped up in duvets in bed beside us with the window wide open. A year of telling her to stop running around with her friends because it would bring on a coughing fit. A year of trying to stop her crying the minute she started because once she got upset it would lead to coughing. Or trying not to tickle her too much because those infectious fits of giggles would turn into fits of coughing and struggling to catch her breath. So we opted to go private and were seen within a matter of weeks. The unfairness of the two tiered health system. We were fortunate but I know that isn鈥檛 the case for everyone, but that is a rant for another day.

Our consultant in Temple Street was amazing. After examining her he was able to tell us she had multi-trigger cough variant asthma. In plain non med speak this means that anything that triggered a sharp inhale such as running, crying, laughing, a cold, would cause her to cough as she didn鈥檛 have the capacity to take those deep breaths. He also suggested she have a procedure called a bronchoscopy. He felt there was evidence of an underlying issue as to why she caught pneumonia, why every cold she got ended up in a chest infection and why she was plagued with constant respiratory infections鈥娾斺奱ll of which triggered severe asthma attacks. We agreed as although the idea of having out baby girl put under anaesthetic was scary, we were desperate to get to bottom of her symptoms and figure out the best way to help her.

The spacer definitely helps when giving children their inhaler

Trial and error

While waiting for the procedure she was put on a number of inhalers and other meds. We knew it would be trial and error in finding out what would work best for her so what followed next was a tough few months. The first inhalers were no good and she got zero relief during her asthma attacks which were happening as often as ever. The next option was a combination of the inhalers and Singular鈥娾斺妛hich was a powder to be made into a drink. The asthma attacks became less frequent but were replaced by nightly night terrors which meant she would wake screaming 4 or 5 times a night. So that wasn鈥檛 an option. While Singular can be very effective in treating asthma, for a small minority it causes a side effect of vivid nightmares. So back to the drawing board. We stuck with just the inhalers until her procedure.

Superhero

To say she was a wee trooper is an understatement. I was a mess, I couldn鈥檛 face seeing her being put to sleep so her daddy went into theatre with her. I needn鈥檛 have worried, it was all done and dusted in an hour and she was back in my arms, cranky and asking for toast. My little superhero. Afterwards the consultant explained to us that Olivia had a bronchomalacia (I had to google that again just to double check the spelling). Basically, the airway going into her left lung is structurally weak and is 鈥榝loppy鈥 when she tries to take a deep breath causing the cough which is her body鈥檚 way of trying to get more air in. It also stops proper excretions (how gross is that word) meaning when she gets a minor cold the secretions become trapped in her lungs and lead to an infection. Ah ok so that explained the pneumonia incident and the persistent chest infections too. It also explained her cough variant asthma.

The good news we were told, is that she will likely grow out of it by the time she is eight, as her airways grow and get stronger. The bad news is that until then there is fuck all we can do except ride it out. Ride out another six (or more years) of that chronic cough, prolongation of lower respiratory tract infections, exercise intolerance, respiratory distress, recurrent pneumonia and recurrent bronchitis. Yep, just some of the symptoms we were told. As well as the aforementioned asthma attacks.

Prevention is better than cure

In asking how come this wasn鈥檛 picked up until she was one I was told that in all likelihood the fact that I breastfed her until then meant she wasn鈥檛 picking up viruses as much. Plus she hadn鈥檛 started cr猫che and we all know that with the kids practically licking each other every day it is inevitable that viruses get passed around.

With that in mind our consultant developed an asthma plan specifically for Olivia and her specific condition. She gets a prevention inhaler twice a day and this allows her to run around with her friends without sounding like she is hacking up her internal organs. She has a light relief inhaler for those days she might overdo it (but thankfully it is rarely needed) and a relief inhaler for when an attack flairs up.

The action plan from the Asthma Society of Ireland

Winter is coming

These days her asthma isn鈥檛 an issue day to day but it does become a problem any time she gets a cold. The famous 鈥榃inter is coming鈥 meme gets used a lot in our house hold. We avoid out of hours now as her asthma plan has us follow a number of steps at home and if that doesn鈥檛 work it is straight into hospital. We have steroids in the house that she gets if she has a cold and it hasn鈥檛 shifted in a few days as that means it is settling in for the long haul.

We have croup-like attacks on a regular basis but (and I am also afraid to type this in case I jinx it) we are getting more of a breather (no pun intended) between each one. It used to be around every six weeks it seemed her wee lungs got worn down and a virus was able to take hold but the last two had two and a half months between them which for her was great. And now we are coming into the summer months she hopefully will get a bit of a break.

If your child has asthma

For parents who are maybe just processing the news that their child has asthma it might not seem like it but the diagnosis is a good thing. It means you now know what you are dealing with. Eighteen months ago Olivia couldn鈥檛 run the length of herself without coughing and struggling to breath and now she happily runs, chases and plays with her friends completely unaffected. Yes we have rough days when she gets a cold or virus but we can handle that now that we can see her having a good quality of life. And we always have the end goal in sight, in hoping that she will grow out of this.

There are some things which we have tried and tested in our journey (every old wives tale you can imagine) and for us there are a few standard things that work. Olivia鈥檚 bed is titled slighted and she has a pillow tucked under her sheet to keep her sleeping at an angle as when she lies on her back the pressure on her airways causes coughing. We have a saline plus machine in her room (not at all sponsored by the way) and without a doubt that definitely has helped as she has been able to clear colds and respiratory viruses faster than normal. When her asthma flairs up we use a cool mist humidifier to moisten the air in her room. We never use the vicks or calpol plug-ins when she has a cold as they dry out the air. When it is really bad we take turns sleeping with her in the spare room, we tilt her up wrap her up in layers and open the window. On those occasions we keep her at home for a few days and spend them watching movies and chilling out to give her wee system a chance to repair.

Thankfully she has always been willing to take her inhalers. That could be down to the fact that at the very beginning we tried to make the inhaler fun. Her first spacer we let her decorate it with stickers and practice giving it to her teddies. We have a routine so she knows the steps so even when at a sleepover at her grandparents she will use the inhaler鈥娾斺奿t鈥檚 toilet, wash hands, inhaler, wash teeth. Now she is a bit older we let her push the inhaler down herself and we make a big deal of how important a job that is. There are days when she can鈥檛 be arsed going along with it all so bribery of sorts has to come into play, but sure what would parenting be without a little negotiating with your tiny terrorist?

Karen

An open letter to Regina

I 鈥檓 having a rant. I haven鈥檛 had one in a while and I feel that this topic justifies a good, old-fashioned, honest to Derek style rant.

Now, I want to preface this rant with a little note of clarity. While I may be referencing fathers/dads a lot in the rant, the points easily apply to mothers/mums. Moreso the gender specific titles can easily be swapped around and the points still ring true. But the reason I am going on about it from a dad perspective is because, well, I鈥檓 not the mum of the family 馃檪

Also I will be taking pop shots at Regina Doherty. 

A lot! 

So, let鈥檚 set the scene. Ireland is a grand country to live in and bring up a family in, but sadly a lot of what governs Ireland is stuck in the 1960s and hasn鈥檛 moved on at all. Parental Leave is one such thing. For a long time dads were entitled to very little in terms of parental leave when their little bundles of joy arrived. You got three days, unpaid, and that was it. 

Which is fantastic, right? Because who wants to spend more than three days at home with their kid? 

Some people, like myself, would save holidays through the nine-months as best they could and book time off. You know why, because some people, like myself, actually wanted to be around and help (or to use the actual term: parent properly) with the newborn. Because, you know what, some people, like myself, are not still in that 1960s mindset of what a father is to their significant other after a child is born. 

We aren鈥檛 all sitting in the pub next door to the hospital sipping brandy and smoking cigars while slapping ourselves on the back for a job well done. We鈥檙e in the delivery room, hand holding, motivating, encouraging, calming the mother as she has a slight panic over a machine in the corner that went beep for the first time in seventeen hours (it was low on battery). Fathers have moved on, Ireland has not.

Now, I鈥檓 a certified asshole. I鈥檝e no issues saying that, it is who I am and I like that about me. So when Olivia was coming along I just happened to get a promotion in work. Part of my new deal was that I told my boss I wanted a once off additional five days annual leave. He was surprised at the ballsy ask, but agreed because he knew what I was going to be using them for.

When Thomas came along I was in a new job and I was lucky. The three days unpaid thing had been changed to two weeks paid by the government and your employer could voluntarily decided to top up the difference in salary. My employer is one who strives to build a good culture and part of their policy around parental leave for dads is you get the top up.

Money worries鈥egan. 

But Derek, I don鈥檛 here you say, what is this preamble leading to in terms of a rant?

Well, let me tell you, it is leading to the fact that an elected official, Regina Doherty, is an out and out sexist idiot who sits in her ivory tower and dictates to the world without any basis in reality. 

Recent statistics (which, let鈥檚 be honest, are 90% made up on the spot. 5 out of 3 people know that) suggest that only 40% of working dads avail of parental leave. The reason being that as the main bread-winner, or the one with the bigger salary, the other 60% cannot afford to take parental leave. This isn鈥檛 to say they aren鈥檛 taking their own holidays, time off that their employer legally has to pay them full rate, it is just saying that they aren鈥檛 taking the two weeks of parental leave the government allows for.

Two weeks that the dad would receive 245 euro a week for. 245 euro that their employer does not have to top up, by law, if they don鈥檛 want to. Some may top up to a percentage of the difference, others may go the whole amount, some may just smile and say enjoy the time off. The reality is there is 60% of the workforce out there that may not work in a company, like I currently do, which is in the position, or wants to be in the position, to add to the father鈥檚 weekly wage during paternity leave.

Regina Doherty鈥檚 solution to this? Extend the leave by an additional two weeks parental. Now you can get two more weeks off as a new, or returning if it is an additional nipper into your house of fun, dad at 245 euro a week.

The additional weeks will, in Doherty鈥檚 own words, 鈥榟elp incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children鈥.

Listen up Regina, it isn鈥檛 the time that鈥檚 the problem. It is the stark reality that living in Ireland is not cheap. 

When she announced the new parental leave rules, Mrs. Doherty took a shot at dads the land over by saying they needed to stop using excuses and start stepping up to the plate. 

Spoiler warning, swear words coming. 

Regina you can fuck right the fuck off with your bullshit. Once again parenthood has moved on from the 1960s, dads are not all useless slobs these days (some are, but that鈥檚 a different rant) and actually are parenting the children along with their partners. The thing is if mum isn鈥檛 the big earner, then dad has to go back to work pretty quick to continue to pay for the little luxuries in life like food in fridge, power and heating, a roof over the family head. Ireland sucks in terms of pay roles lets be honest. In most cases it will be the male who is the bigger earner so that leaves no choice but for parental leave to fall to the mum. The government should look at tackling that shit before telling me I am not stepping up to the plate.

I know a dad, great guy, comedian fellow, who was the lower earner in his relationship. He quit his job so his wife could go back to work and he would be at home with the kids. If the same situation had been true for myself I鈥檇 have done it in a heartbeat. There are no excuses being made here, there is the cold hard facts of how expensive it is to live in Ireland.

Saying people need to 鈥榮tep up鈥 and take four weeks reduced pay is insulting.

CSO figures for 2018 said that the average rent for a place in Dublin was 1,683 euro per month. For possible the first time in Irish history rent and mortgage repayments are on par. It is not cheaper to rent than is to buy and it is just as hard to buy as it is to rent. So, dear old useless dad, please do step up and bring home 245 a week for a month, and and no monthly take home pay from your job, and ensure that you are still covering all the costs of keeping a roof over your head.

This is not even taking into account that some families will have a kid in creche. More costs to cover, with your government hand out. Whether you use the creche space or not you still gotta pay for it to keep it.

This isn鈥檛 the first time Doherty has made such grand and sweeping statements, but it is the first time she has been so blatantly sexist about what she said and as an elected official she needs to be held accountable for her words. Her sexist statements are bordering on gender hate speech. We live in a world now where that sort of thing isn鈥檛 just unacceptable, it is disgusting. 鈥淚 have said that we need to have a conversation in this country around gender roles.鈥 She is right, but the way she went about it is the equivalent of saying 鈥業鈥檓 not racist, but鈥︹ 

To make matters even funnier, when she was questioned about how insulting her comments were she doubled down on the stupidity. Honestly, you can鈥檛 make this shit up. 

It is time that those in government get out of the tower and actually understand what is going on. Why might only 40% of fathers take the parental leave? Well because if they did they would be living hand to mouth. Considering how much tax I pay, and get very little back for such a huge chunk of change, I feel the government could give more back to working parents than they currently do. 

I鈥檝e never been a supporter of Fine Gael from a political standpoint. I鈥檝e always found them to just be as bad as any other politician. In it for themselves and only wanting power and cash. But anybody who supports Regina Doherty is just as closed-minded and sexist as she is. And yes, women can be sexist. You know why? Because the world has moved on now and everyone is meant to be treated equally. 

Derek

And because this post is long it needs an image and this pretty much sums up my thoughts on Regina and her views