The best party ever? #AfricaDay2017

(Well the best since last year’s Rockin’ Road Festival anyway)

It’s that time of year again. There’s stuff happening every weekend, Dublin has come  alive again and we’re spoiled for choice. It’s actually impossible for us to go everywhere and sample everything!

Some events have become annual fixtures in my disabled daughter’s calendar of weekend activities, like the garden festival Bloom that takes place at the end of May.

But it’s good to go to something new and different, so I was very excited for both of us when I heard about Africa Day, to be held in the familiar grounds of Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

The event was free to enter, and you could pass a happy day there without spending a cent, if you brought your own picnic. No champagne and caviar though: it was strictly alcohol-free.

B and I arrived soon after it opened, and easily got parking and avoided the massive traffic jams that we saw when we left mid afternoon (we would have stayed all day, but once again lack of a Changing Place meant we had to go home so B could use the toilet).

So what is Africa Day, for anyone unlucky enough not to be there? Well, it was like the best party you’ve ever been at: it had everything: music, dancing, food, and lots and lots of colour, exuberance and joy,  and more happy smiles than you’d see at a wedding. Everyone was everyone else’s friend and determined that a good time was had by all.

Party Time 3, #AfricaDay2017,

There were three zones, based around three stages: you could call them the food zone, the kiddy zone and the party zone. We sampled all of them and there’s no prizes for guessing which one we liked the best!

We headed for the food zone first and pottered around the stalls before eating our lunch in front of one of the early performers. This area was not wheelchair friendly, being in a very bumpy field, yet the furthest corner housed a bank of Portaloos, including a very welcome wheelchair loo – I wonder how many people were able to access it though? (There is also a permanent disabled toilet at Farmleigh that is accessible).

We relaxed for a while in the kiddy zone enjoying more music and the parade of costumes.

African costume, #AfricaDay2017

And then we discovered the party zone, and we could have stayed there all day.

But the music and dancing wasn’t only on the stages, oh no! It was everywhere…

In front of the stalls in the food zone:

Dancers, food Zone, #AfricaDay2017

In the courtyard:

Dancers in the courtyard 1, #AfricaDay2017

And of course, in the audience in the party zone.

You really really should have been there…

Summed up, you should be here,

 

 

 

The dirt trail

It’s not deliberate. I don’t push my daughter’s wheelchair through mud on purpose.

And this time, I have no idea how it happened. Yes it was a mucky day, with sunshine and showers, but we were walking on the pavement, and my shoes were clean when we arrived home after a short but happy trip to the shops (a coffee stop may have been involved too…).

Being not a housewifely type I gaily pushed her chair through the door into the kitchen. It was some time later that I noticed the trail of dirt and debris in its wake. Yet this happens almost every single time.

But what can a hapless carer do?

…You can’t leave the wheelchair in the porch with the muddy shoes.

…If you hose it down outside, everyone and everything gets wet, and there will still be brown skid marks on the floor. So attractive (not).

…Brush the wheels once indoors. Of course you always miss a few specks and they get walked everywhere.

The dirt trail

..Stay in unless it’s dry. But this is Ireland, and both of us like going out.

…Stick to shopping centres? Ugh, no thanks.

Have you any other ideas? If you’re a wheelchair user or pram pusher, what do you do?

There’s probably an obvious answer. It’s just that no-one told me…

 

A glimmer of hope and a productive week

There was a big breakthrough for one of my children this week, and a break from each other for both of us. It wasn’t respite, but it certainly felt like it.

I was so productive, I exercised every day, met a friend for coffee, sorted out the garden, made a massive dent in the paperwork and was able to respond to a couple of requests quickly, spent time chatting and watching TV with my other two children, and this was the laundry basket most days…

Laundry basket, reasons to be cheerful,

Perhaps it shows the importance of respite too? I got a break from the daily stew of emotional exhaustion, worry, overwhelm and guilt.  It was great.

I think that having hope for the future gives you more energy for the present, and this week gave me a glimmer of hope that made me feel very cheerful indeed. So that’s one short, but very important reason for this week.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Why happy parents are important

A wonderful post on motherhood and contentment from Karen at Beating Myself into a Dress reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago. So I revamped it..

Happiness was something I never considered as my hands shook looking at that thin blue line back in 1992. I was going to be a mum, and I just got on with it, and the job and the running, and the marriage and everything else in between. As you do.

But along the way, I’ve learned a few things, and noticed how much has changed over the years.

Many parents, especially mums, seem to invest far more time and emotional energy in their kids than my parent’s generation did: most of my interactions with my Mum and Dad were on family outings, plus board games and cricket with my Dad. At home we were sent out to play, and even meal times were spent reading books and newspapers, with The Archers on the radio. Very middle class, I know. Today we seem to spend many more hours with our children, especially if we are full time parents in the home. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who didn’t realise all the demands that would be made of me as a mother. So many life changes, and I’ve not always accepted them with good grace.

Anyone who believes they have given up a lot for their kids could feel some of this, especially if motherhood does not live up to their expectations. And then if most of your time and energy has been invested in your children, you could well feel depressed and even betrayed if they turn around and disrespect you and take you for granted. Which some do, especially when they hit the difficult teenage years. But if you do everything for your children, isn’t there a danger that this will happen naturally? Sadly it seems to be a human trait not to value the everyday quiet loving care that is provided by the stay-at-home parent. Else why does the one coming home from work usually get a rapturous welcome?

Would it make a difference if children think the stay at home parent is happy in their role? I think perhaps it would. I’m not talking about ecstatic happiness, but contentment, cheerfulness and positivity. Not at all times, obviously. They need to see all the emotions: grief when someone dies, anger at injustice, hurt when someone is cruel, but I think our children need to see that we are happy to be their parents. If they see us looking sad every day, they may think it’s their fault, even if we tell them that our happiness is our responsibility, as I do, they may still blame themselves.

Perhaps, like me, all stay at home parents needs to work on their own happiness. To help themselves, and their children too.

 

My dream home and other reasons to be cheerful

Life’s dramas just keep continuing with the past seven days including both a tragic death and a surprise wedding, sending emotions skittering in all directions. By Thursday I needed a breathing space and – you’ve guessed it – I headed for the beach. But I also wanted to have a closer look at a semi-detached bungalow I’d seen for sale. And it had everything I would be looking for if I got the chance to move away with my disabled daughter: converted for wheelchair access and use, within 30 minutes drive of Dublin city centre and with a glorious sea view…

Bungalow, wheelchair accessible, Portrane, Sea Views, affordable property

The lovely owner let me take this photo and even showed me around. If I could, I would buy it tomorrow. It’s great to know that my dream home does actually exist.

And another bonus – for once I did not feel insanely jealous of the average office worker, as I ran along the nearby beach in the sunshine.

Portrane, Rogerstown, beach, boats,So what other good things happened this week? Well I got to feel competent and useful twice in one week and that does not happen very often these days, as you know if you’re a regular reader:

oftencalledcathy 1 Tech 0

I helped a fellow blogger develop a Go Fund Me Widget for her side bar – helps me forget being called technophobe a few years ago, by someone who shall remain nameless.

Multi-tasking

I attended a disability conference on Wednesday – really I had no excuse as it was free and only 15 minutes walk from my house. It was great to catch up with other parents and also to put my worky skills to use by listening, live tweeting and typing up notes all at the same time, and then sharing them too.

Cheese on the menu

Apparently eating cheese is no longer considered an unhealthy habit. This is great news for someone who guiltily consumes a large block of it every single week.

Sleep

This used to be an obsession of mine, as you may remember. Lack of sleep and broken sleep brought me to the edge of reason at  times. But no longer. It’s true that I rarely get more than 6 hours, but I also rarely get up more then once in the night, and now I sleep in an adjacent room to my daughter, I no longer have to run up and down the stairs in the cold and dark to see what she needs.

Hope you had a good week xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Panda Chocolate Muffins and other reasons to be cheerful

This week has been all about health matters relating to family and friends, with more appointments than I care to think about and a bit too much stress. The answer? Pinny on and into the kitchen to try and recreate an adorable idea I’d seen on twitter to make some extra special muffins for a friend in need.

Panda Cakes

In case you’re interested, I took the design from this post but made the muffins and icing from scratch:

http://letgoofbeingperfect.com/recipes/panda-cupcakes/

They certainly made me feel very cheerful! And I have a few other reasons too:

Outings

A bank holiday weekend means just one thing here: lots of outings with my disabled daughter B. You may have already read about our trip to Airfield Estate and Farm on the Monday: It was a great day out, and I especially love the incongruity of finding places like this within the city boundaries.

A farm in the city, hedgerow, field, .jpg

My eldest and youngest weren’t ignored either: I managed to book a babysitter for Monday night and bring them out to the cinema, something else to be cheerful about as long time readers will know how impossible that was for a few years.

On Sunday we spent a couple of hours at a rainy Farmleigh House and Estate. Spirits were definitely not dampened though

Earrings

I only have two piercings: one hole in each ear lobe, That’s it. They’ve been there for nearly 40 years, but I was tempted to let them go, let them close up. I was down to my last 3 pairs (all Christmassy) and getting more seemed such a hassle, because I have sensitive skin and there’s only one shop that can guarantee pain-free earrings and that’s good old M&S, but I don’t always like the styles they sell.

But I pulled myself together, told myself off for being such a martyr, and on Saturday we went for an extended trip to a large local shopping centre with a wish list of odds and sods and earrings. B loved the day out and I came home with these, which should  keep me going over the summer months.

So that’s it for this week, hope you had a good one xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Adventures in Airfield with a Disability

Disclosure: I was not asked to write this, nor did I get paid or get in for free: I just had good day out with my disabled daughter and wanted to blog about it.

Through suburban gates we crawled, past serried ranks of parked cars and a queue of restless parents and children snaking along the footpath to the entrance. A cool urban event it was not. It’s also not cheap for a family to visit, but since carers go free, I paid less to get in than I did for the coffee and cakes that were needed before we went exploring. It was also the longest time I have ever queued for coffee…  In saying that, everyone was good natured, the sun was shining, the surroundings were lovely, and for once I did not feel like scratching my own eyes out (I don’t do queues as a rule, especially when they take 30 minutes).

This was our introduction to Airfield Estate and Farm, a 35 acre working farm within the city limits with lots of family friendly activities and events. And in all fairness, I got the impression that Airfield was caught out by the unexpectedly good weather as I watched harried staff scurrying in all direction with trays of bottled water and snacks as the day wore on.

Because the weather was fabulous. Soon after we arrived, the clouds vanished and it was sunshine and blue sky for the rest of the day. Too nice to explore the house and its history, so I can’t tell you if it’s wheelchair accessible. It looks pretty though.

Airfield House 1

But almost everywhere was accessible: all the paths we tried are fine, mostly smooth surfaces and gentle inclines. I only spotted one set of the steps and it was easy to avoid.

Woodland playground, airfield .png

There’s a wonderful woodland playground; no wheelchair swings or anything like that, but it was fun to explore and smell the wildflowers, and watch and listen to the hordes of happy children.

“This is way more fun than walking!” (don’t ask)

“I’m the spider, and this is the web I’m making.” (climbing net)

Not an iPad in sight…

The most attractive viewpoint was the children’s hill fort and I made a valiant attempt to push the chair up the narrow path to the top, much to the astonishment of watching families, It didn’t go so well, and I had to make a red faced retreat before we caused a major human traffic jam.

Our visit to the farmyard area did not go so well either: the doors to the stalls were too high for my daughter to see any of the animals, and two visits to the Green Barn did not result in us finding the advertised céilí. And I’d say you know how much my daughter loves music unless you’ve stumbled across this post by accident!

But she didn’t realise what she was missing as she enjoyed the busyness and buzzy atmosphere, while I enjoyed the scenery and fresh air and sunshine.

Obviously we checked out one of the toilets too: it had a doorway too narrow for some wheelchairs, but was reasonably spacious inside and I could’ve helped B use the toilet if necessary, though without a hoist I would’ve risked damaging my back. Hopefully one day Airfield would consider installing a proper changing place toilet so that families like mine can stay longer.

Would I go again? Definitely and if you’re visiting for the first time these would be my recommendations

1. Get there very early on a sunny or bank holiday weekend.

2. Start by following the path around the edge of the estate, it’s gorgeous and a great way to get your bearings.

3. Bring your own picnic. And maybe a flask of coffee too…