Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Struggling ♥

These past few months have been a struggle. I have gone from feeling as though everything was going alright for once, to having the rug pulled from under my feet and being tossed into a whirlwind of constant turmoil. I'm so unhappy with life at the moment and I can't seem to change this no matter how hard I try.

I am always upset over one thing or another. My children are so wild and all I wish is for them to play quietly for a few minutes, but it never happens. They are never quiet, and perhaps children shouldn't be, but I really wish they would just go and play nicely with the plethora of toys we've accumulated over the years for them - I shudder when I think of all the money I wasted on things that are constantly neglected.

I feel as though I'm getting nowhere in life, nothing I do is good enough. I could be a better mother, a better friend, a better blogger, take more imaginative pictures and learn to post process them properly, but with the way I've been feeling these past few months I have the motivation to do none of these things.

I feel so unliked by everyone, so excluded. Even when I post in a Facebook group, where every other post is guaranteed to get multiple replies, I get none. I've never fitted in and now, in my late twenties, I feel it's too late to learn 'the art' of fitting in. Luckily I like my own company.

My relationship has basically broken down before my very eyes, but there's only a certain amount of trying a person can do before they try anymore. I'm not even sure if things could ever go back to how they were, or if I even want them to. I've already become so used to being on my own, adapting a single parent role and not having a partner to share the burden with.

I've been unhappy so many times before in my life, but this time is different, this time I feel the most pressure and burden because I'm responsible for two small boys. I try not to let myself get upset in front of them as I don't want them growing up thinking their mother was always sad. I just want them to have a normal, happy childhood and I do my best everyday to make sure they're getting that - but it's hard.

I don't know what the future holds, what I want to do or how things will play out, but today, with the rain pouring on the windows, I can't help but think that this is a perfect pathetic fallacy to how I'm feeling right now...


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tyler & Beau | Siblings {August 2017} ♥

Goodness, these siblings posts just seem to creep up on me out of nowhere. I've been so busy packing up our own house, unpacking in our new one and everything else in between that I only realised that it was the 15th today.

This past month has been such a busy one for us as a family. We've driven over 600 miles together, have had two nights away and a lot of close-knit time together and the boys have basically been by each others sides continually this past month.

They haven't gotten sick of each other though, with Tyler not wanting to go anywhere without Beau and Beau learning to say his big brother's name - he now goes around the house calling out "Tyler" in the sweetest little voice and he's always wanting to be with his brother.

Tyler still hasn't learnt how to be gentle with Beau when they're playing and I'm wondering if it'll ever happen now - it's been 15 months after all... He just doesn't seem to realise that Beau is smaller than him and plays far too roughly for my liking. Beau takes the majority of it in his stride but there are a few tears now and again.

Tyler has begun wanting sleepovers with Beau too, not understanding that he's a little too little to not sleep in a cot, but it's great to know that he's up for sharing his bed with him and I know they'll have the best little sleepovers when they're both a bit older.

The boys are now enjoying their second home together and are delighted that we have a grassy garden that they can tumble about in. They had great fun playing out there today in the sunshine and I hope today was the first of many happy memories they'll have together in this house before we have to move again next year.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sharenting - Where Do We Draw the Line? ♥

Sharenting seems to be a common thing for most parents these days and it's not hard to see why. With the rise of social media and the 'global community' it's become easier than ever to share images with family and friends all around the world and in most cases, with complete and utter strangers too.

Parents love to share little quips about their day with their kids, sharing photos and updates about the milestones their kids are achieving, photos from family outings, holidays and adventures and even sometimes sharing the difficulties they've experienced with their kids in the hope of seeking friendly advice from others. I think all of these things are great, I really do and in some cases, parents have been able to form friendships, gain much needed advice and reassurance that 'they're not the only ones' experiencing certain difficulties, etc. with their kids, however, there is a more sinister and humiliating side to sharenting which I think has to end.

I'm not someone who is easily offended, in fact, I couldn't give flying rats arse what most people do, but there have been certain images being shared of children which may possibly annoy me a lot more than those pictures people share of themselves in hospitable with an IV in their arm (what is the need for this by the way? Can anyone enlighten me?) and believe me when I tell you how annoying and unnecessary I think that is...

As a blogger and someone whose dream it is to one day be a photographer, I share photos of my children on the internet on a daily basis, mostly on Instagram. I must have shared thousands of photos of my boys by now, but thankfully, in the four years I have been blogging and using social media, I've never experienced any negative comments or creepy people messaging me about my children. I might be one of the lucky ones, but I think this also may be because I'm on the tepid end of the 'controversial' sharenting scale.

As of late, I've noticed parents, mostly fellow bloggers if I'm honest, sharing things about their children which I frankly don't think should be shared about anyone, least of all children. The cynic in me also refuses to believe that these things aren't shared in the hopes of creating some controversy and gaining a few more page views or social exposure - but at what cost? I'm not even left feeling shocked by it either, after all, it's 2017 and it seems anything goes, but I am left feeling as though some of those parents should write to Santa and ask him for a big bag of cop on for Christmas.

I've seen images of children fully naked, covered in poo or sick, pictures of babies smothered in poo after having a 'poo explosion', pictures of kids sitting on the toilet or potty, images of children having full on tantrums and the rest... yes these are the realities of parenting, but is it worth humiliating our children just for exposure? I think not and I'm not even sorry for my opinion.

I'm not even talking about the dangers of sharing images of children here, I'm talking about humiliating a child who doesn't even know that these images are being shared of them. A child who will one day grow up and have these images of them on the internet for all and sundry to discover. If my mother had shared pictures of me covered in poo as a child and I suddenly discovered it on the internet years later would I be best pleased, no. Yes these things are natural, yes they're part and parcel of being a parent, but they're also private to the child and as someone who is too young to even know what's going on and it comes down to respect. I don't think these types of images should be shared of them or of anyone for that case.

My rule of thumb is - if I wouldn't like it being shared of me, I don't share it of the children. This is why you'll never see pictures of my children in the scenarios listed above. I've shared pictures of them in the bath before, not able to see anything bar their head and torso and maybe a flash of leg, but even at that I think I may have been oversharing.

If the kids were older and snapped a picture of me on the toilet suffering from a severe case of diarrhea and shared it on the net would it be acceptable? It most certainly would not and I would be left reeling, furious and totally and utterly humiliated. So why is okay for parents to share these intimate moments of children with the world, just because they're their parents? If it as done by an adult to another adult it would probably be seen as a form of bullying and would definitely be seen as an act of humilation, so why is it not seen this way when it's children?

I'm all for sharenting, I love seeing pictures parents take of their children, in fact, I'm in awe of the beautiful images I see of children being shared on the likes of Instagram everyday, however, I think there needs to be a line drawn about what is acceptable and what is not.

So where is the line, what is acceptable to share and what isn't? I think the rule of if you wouldn't like it being shared of you don't share it of your children is a good one to follow. Life with children isn't all 'la di dah' and we know that, but that doesn't give us the right to post humiliating pictures either, even if we are their parents.
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Home Decor | Shabby Chic Flooring ♥

 *This is a collaborative post.

The shabby chic trend has seen multiple twists and turns in the direction that it has taken, sometimes veering off the interior radar and then popping up when we least expected it. One of the biggest contributors to the shabby chic trend has been interiors and furnishings so in this post I'd like to take a look at one of my favourite shabby chic features; rustic floors. 

There’s something about that vintage look of a wide planked wood floor, even more so if they’re a bit of a lighter shade too. I am absolutely in love with white rustic floors, or just any distressed shade in general. The great thing about rustic wood flooring is that it’s as expensive as you make it, there are various retailers who offer a pre-finished product that is ready to install or you can search your local reclamation yards for different planks and put them together yourself - it’s completely up to you! 

If you are contemplating switching up your floor then there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go for the rustic vibe. It never risks appearing dated because that’s part of the parcel, even better is the way that it pairs fantastically with shabby chic furniture and vintage interiors. Plus there are so many different looks you can go for, it doesn't necessarily have to be shabby chic! Rustic wood floors can help create an old farmhouse vibe or even make you feel like you’re in a cosy little log cabin - the possibilities are endless!

The colour of your floor is also an important feature of it too and at the moment there are a lot of hand-scraped and distressed boards that seem to be popular in a lighter colour. The best thing about white/lighter floors is the way that they act as a sort of backdrop to your room, which means that you’re then allowed to accent any furnishings and interiors that may be a little bolder in colour. 

Pairing a white floor with stunning pastel interiors is a recipe for true shabby chic delight! Fun fact: light floors can also make the room that they are installed in appear much bigger and more spacious too as the light reflects well from them.

Aside of offering a crisp and fresh feel to your room, light rustic floors also have a practical advantage as they show a lot less dirt and dust than perhaps dark floors and are just easier to maintain in general.

So whether you’re looking to update your bedroom, living room or even your kitchen - why not invest a little time into rustic hardwood flooring for that true vintage feel!
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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

10 Rainy Day Activities To Keep the Kids Happy ♥

 *This is a collaborative post.

We live in Ireland where it rains, a lot. There are days when it's just too dark, dull and wet to venture outside the door and with two very much outdoor loving children who love to run and crawl free in the great outdoors, it can be a bit of a nightmare keeping them cooped up.

So today I'm sharing 10 rainy day activities to keep the kids happy, all things which I've done myself with the kids and which kept them entertained, happy to be indoors (when they needed to be!) and me sane!

1. Let them jump in puddles. Such an obvious rainy day activity but one which brings the most enjoyment to little ones. If you're not afraid of your little darlings getting soaked and most presumable filthy with dirt, then pop on their rain macs or wet suits, put on their wellies and let them jump to their hearts content. 100% happy children guaranteed!

2. Make a den or put up a tent/teepee indoors. Cosy, indoors days spent in handmade dens or tents and teepees laden with cushions and blankets is what childhood dreams are made of. Turn your sitting room into the kids very own playhouse and happiness is guaranteed. Extra points if they can enjoy some popcorn and a movie from their den too!

3. Teach them something educational, but fun. I'm all teaching my kids things but through games and recently I began teaching my four year old how to read with help of a fun, app based learning game called Reading Eggs. The great thing is he's loving it but having fun at the same time. If you're like me and are a bit overly-cautious with the tech in case the kids destroy it, investing in iPhone 7 cases (if you have one like me) is recommended! A screen protector may be a good investment too.

4. Let them colour on the windows. Let the kids make the dull and grey rainy days a little more colourful by letting them draw on the windows with some window markers - did you even know there was such a thing?! These can be bought on Amazon for under £7 and are perfect for budding little artists who don't mind their designs being washed off with a wet cloth!

5. Let them play with water. My kids love playing with water and my four year old can regularly be found by the sink playing with his bath toys or washing his dinkies. You could set up a little car wash with a little bit of shaving foam, a scrubbing brush and water or let the kids pretend they're doing the dishes with some plastic kitchen toys.

6. Make a rain gauge. I love teaching my kids about nature and as a child, I loved learning about the weather in geography classes. So what better way to teach the kids about the weather on a rainy day then making a rain gauge? You don't have to go all out with this, a numbered cup and a lollipop stick should be enough to measure the rainfall, but it'll getting the kids learning and interested in how the weather works.

7. Bake some treats. Involving kids in the kitchen is such a great thing to do, as not only are they having fun, but they're learning a vital life skill in cooking too. On a rainy day, why not bake some delicious fairy cakes or cupcakes with your kids? Or if you're looking for a non-oven based recipe, some classic Rice Krispie cakes or a no-bake cheesecake are great options too. Check out our delicious Rice Krispie Medleys here.

8. Have a home cinema experience. There are so many great kids films out there - I still need to work my way through the Disney and Pixar catalogue with my boys - so why not give the kids their very own home cinema experience? You could set up a treat table with some popcorn, nibbles and drinks, print out some 'movie tickets' with their names on and even have a theme for your movie day. You can read more of my ideas for enjoying movies at home with the kids here.

9. Play shop. Kids love playing shop and the great thing is, you don't need to have any fancy toys to do it either. You can take non-breakable items from your own cupboards, such as cans and packaged foods, or even use empty breakfast cereal and milk cartons for the kids to 'sell'. Write up some price labels, give them a basket or a toy trolley (if you have them) and let them go around the room picking up their items. If you don't have a toy cash register then a box with some buttons drawn on the lid will work just as well. Lots of fun guaranteed!

10. Pretend it's the toys birthday and have a party. This is such a sweet idea and one my four year old is a fan of as he loves his cuddly toys. Pretend it's one of the toys birthday's and set up a little party for them and the kids to enjoy. It doesn't have to be elaborate and you can use toy food instead of real foods if you prefer, but the kids will love it! Plus, it gives an excuse to use up some of those party supplies which have been sitting in a box, unused for months on end.



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Monday, August 07, 2017

What the Boys Wore | TwoGreyRabbits ♥

I was recently contacted by a lovely lady named Miriam, who had stumbled across my Instagram and taken a liking to my boys curly locks. She told me they reminded her of her son when he was little and she just loved their look - very sweet.

She asked me if I'd like the boys to be brand reps for her Etsy shop, TwoGreyRabbits, and when I took a look at her designs I immediately said yes. Miriam hand knits all of her pieces in Holland and her designs are just the sort of pieces I love to dress my boys in - handmade, classically styled and all with a hint of whimsical charm.

I've always thought that knitted pieces are quite special. They've been made with a lot of effort and love and each piece is unique. I can't bare to part with all the hand knitted baby cardigans my Nan made for my boys and I'm lucky that she's still making more to this day.

TwoGreyRabbits clothing is perfect for the colder autumn and winter days we have coming up here in Ireland and I'll be layering up the boys to make sure they're cosy and warm.

Beau is wearing a lovely longer-legged romper with a dog design on the front panel. This was a lovely touch as I affectionately call him 'puppy' from time to time. I love the deep blue colour of it too.

Tyler is wearing knitted shorts with an elephant design on one leg. He really loved this piece and he was so cute running around the woods in it. It looked loved teamed with a plain white t-shirt and some t-bar shoes.

I thought the boys looked lovely in their little knitted clothes and better still, they were so comfy in them too, able to crawl, run and jump about as much as they pleased.

I'm delighted that Miriam asked my boys to brand rep for her shop and I look forward to sharing more beautiful knitted clothing both her on the blog and over on my Instagram, @dollydowsie, soon.

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Home Decor | Trend Alert: Metro Tiles ♥


*This is a collaborative post.

If you’re looking to inject a some style to your bathroom, kitchen or even your floor then tiles are an excellent way forward.

People can often overlook tiles as a design feature and instead think of them as a practical choice and a necessity. However, tiles are actually a blank canvas from which you can create whole designs, themes or aesthetics in your property.

One tile in particular has taken over the interiors world this year and that is the metro tile. The metro tile gives a gorgeous vintage glamour look that is perfect for any room - and it's quite 'Instagram-worthy' too!

Metro tiles have actually been around for years and don’t be surprised if you haven’t already recognised them from your everyday commute if you live in the capital. Metro tiles have very humble beginnings originally being used for institutes such as prisons or hospitals. Their simple design and easy to clean abilities made them ideal for these environments.

Metro tiles were basically the everyman tile, you would rarely see them used for design purposes. Since then however, their heavy use on the London Underground in the early 1900’s has made them an iconic aesthetic and has also earned them their fame in the tiling world.

Since then, the metro tile has come a long way in terms of style and is currently experiencing a rejuvenation period in the interiors world - I'm seeing so many people using the tiles in their bathrooms and kitchens and they look gorgeous!

The metro tile look has now become a retro classic and can add some design to an otherwise lacking room. Their continuous development means that metro tiles now come in a huge range of colours and finishes making finding your perfect one easy. Metro tiles work beautifully when paired with metallic feature pieces and accessories for that industrial chic look.

More commonly the tiles are installed horizontally for that traditional metro tile look. However, if you’re looking to throw in a modern twist, some homeowners are using the metro tile vertically. This still captures a vintage look but turns it on its head slightly for a striking aesthetic.

Similarly, if you’re wanting to create an eye-catching tile design, try using a contrasting grout colour with your tile. This makes every tile stand out and can help to create a more rustic atmosphere. For example, using a black grout with a white metro tile will really make them pop.

Metro tiles are incredibly popular, mostly for their low maintenance properties as previously mentioned. If you opt for a classic metro tile it will have a high gloss finish. This makes cleaning up those spillages, scuffs and marks from everyday life that bit easier. All that is needed to maintain their great look is simply some warm soapy water and a sponge.

If you’re a trend follower you may have clocked the chevron, as it has hugely taken off this year as a design feature. The metro tile looks incredible when installed using the chevron style thanks to its standard rectangular shape. The chevron creates a great sense of fluidity to a room and acts nicely as a way of intruding patterns delicately to rooms.

The metro tile is an incredible way of bringing both style and practicality to your bathroom, kitchen or floor. The simple shape leaves you plenty of chance to build a design or theme and is a stunning to any home.
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Friday, August 04, 2017

Our Family Stay At the d Hotel Drogheda, Co. Louth | Review ♥

Early this week we travelled the furthest we ever have in Ireland, driving the length of the Republic from Cork to Louth, to stay at the d Hotel, Drogheda and experience all that Ireland's Ancient East has to offer - as well as fitting in lots of family fun too at Tayto Park - entry to Tayto Park was included in our nights stay package.

The d Hotel is located at the end of a quay, overlooking the river in Drogheda. It's very central to Drogheda town centre and is within close driving distance to a lot of great attractions such as Newgrange, Funtasia and Tayto Park. I wouldn't say the hotel is in the prettiest of locations, but I think that's typical of urban hotels, but it's closeness to so many great attractions really does make it an ideal base for families wanting to explore the area.

Upon arrival we received a very warm welcome at reception and made our way to our room, which was situated on the 4th floor. Our room had a view of the river and some of the historic sites - such as Saint Laurence Gate, which was built in the 13th century.

Our room was a good size and easily had enough space for the four of us - Jacek and I in a double, Tyler in a single and Beau in a travel cot.

The room decor was quite basic, but it was comfortable and we all had a grand nights sleep there. The boys were happy with the selection of kids channels on the TV and I was glad that there was a table in our room so I could sit them down with some snacks after our long car journey. There's also tea and coffee making facilities in the wardrobe and a travel hairdryer.

The bathroom had a bath with a shower head also, plenty of towels for us and it also came equipped with little toiletries too, which is always a nice touch.

To be honest, I think it's what's outside the bedrooms is what is most appealing about the d Hotel. We were delighted that we were able to visit Newgrange (even if it was too busy to go in) and see it from afar, because it was so close to the hotel at only 7 miles away. We also visited the beautiful Beaulieu Gardens, which I highly recommend if you're in the area and these were only 10 minutes away from the hotel by car.

 Before dinner we checked out the hotel's games room and were pleased to see lots of things to keep the boys entertained. They fell in love with the Sesame Street car and had a good few goes on that without getting bored (€1 per ride) and they had great fun going into the mini circus tent and crawling through the tunnel.

 For older kids there's also a foosball table (I spotted an older boy and girl having a game whilst we were there) and a pool table. The room was clean and was an ideal space for my boys to play in. There was also a comfy couch for parents to sit on in there too.

The hotel has a restaurant, Il Ponte, where breakfast is served in the morning, as well as a bar, The Hops, which is where we decided to have dinner during our stay. Reservations have to be made for Il Ponte and being with two small boys, we just wanted to go with the flow and not have a set time for dinner.

The atmosphere in the bar was lovely. The decor is great in there and they were playing good music the whole time we were in there. It was all very laid back and chilled and was exactly what we needed after all our travelling.

We ordered drinks, a mojito and Slane whiskey and were happy out waiting for our food to be served. I have to say, service was a bit slow in the bar and I was glad that we had brought the tablet for the boys to watch, otherwise they would have gotten a bit fed up with the wait. We didn't order starters, just a main and dessert afterwards.

The boys had goujons and chips, but there were six different options on the kids menu, so plenty of choice was available.

Jacek had the sea bass and I had the chicken curry - which was absolutely delicious, honestly, I'd have another bowl now if I could!

I was also happy to see vanilla panna cotta on the dessert menu. It's my absolutely favourite so I just had to order it and this was absolutely delicious too.

The d Hotel offers a kids club in July and August from 6.30 to 9.30 for children 4 years and up and Tyler was dying to go having seen the door to the kids club on the same floor as the games room. We've never let him go to anything like that before and I was a bit reluctant to let him go off on his own, but I'm actually so glad we did because he had a fab time there.

They had a play kitchen in there so he was in his element. They also did crafts and he got his face painted - he came back with an elephant, which I think was a custom request from him, so fair play to the lady for doing it for him and so well too, he was absolutely delighted with it! We left him there for two hours but he would have easily have done the three and I think it's great that the kids club is held in the evening, giving parents a chance to spend some time together while the kids play. The kids club is €8 per child, with discounts for siblings.

Breakfast is served in the Il Ponte restaurant and is buffet style, which is always great when you're with kids as you can pick and mix what you're putting on their plates. There was hot food food, a choice of cereals, fruit and pastries on offer, as well as a range of juices. The breakfast was lovely and we were all filled up ready to get on with our day at Tayto Park after it.

We enjoyed our stay in the d Hotel. It gave us the opportunity to go to so many great places, we had a comfortable nights sleep, good food and the boys had a great time playing, with Tyler also loving the kids club, so it was a positive experience all round.

*We were guests of the d Hotel and our meals and drinks were complimentary, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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