An Open Letter of Thanks to 1,429,981 of you.

May 27th 2018 I woke up in a hotel in Dublin puffy eyed and exhilarated. The day before was spent looking at a huge  screen in the Intercontinental Hotel function room watching results from all 26 counties pouring in. At approx. 3.30pm the final tally from my own County Mayo came through, 57.7% in favour of repeal. I was just so so proud of my home county, they listened, they educated themselves and they showed they no longer wanted to hold on to the cruel and archaic law that was hurting, killing and scarring it’s women.

For the 231st time that day I cried. My own repeal journey was brief compared to the stalwarts that has been fighting since 1983, before and after the 8th amendment was put in place and during the 90s, 00s and in recent years.  I had the great pleasure of sitting alongside one of these legends Ailbhe Smyth at my first Together for Yes meeting in Sligo.

I never for one second thought I would ever be a part of history changing, when I first wrote Grace’s Story in 2017 I did it because I was angry, I was sad and I wanted people to know that this was happening to the ordinary woman who lives in your town, who serves you your coffee, who teaches your children, who does your hair…the 8th Amendment was damaging women all over this country. I never thought I would travel the country reliving her story on TV, radio and at so many important gatherings. Meeting the most amazing people, listening to their stories, crying alongside with them, handshakes, heartfelt hugs and sharing a mutual passion to change healthcare for our women and our girls. But I somehow ended up doing all these things and I always compared the feeling of being so supported compared to the absolute isolation myself and Kieran felt boarding that Ryanair flight to Liverpool in March 2014. When I felt empty or exhausted I drew on that anger I still had (and will always have) and I kept telling Grace’s Story, I picked up that microphone and I told her story once again, each time I told her story I would remember a new part, a part I had buried away and it would break me all over again. But like my sisters in TFMR we had to keep telling our stories, digging deep down for the strength and courage to keep talking, keep travelling and keep educating people.

I first contacted TFMR in the 4 weeks I was waiting for an appointment in Liverpool to deliver Grace. They were and still are my main sources of support. I chatted to the girls and cried completely in the dark about what was going to happen us, from the little pieces of advice like bringing a blanket and teddy for Grace, to making sure I brought spare nightdresses because after you deliver your sleeping baby chances are you never want to see that nightdress again. I was just one woman they helped and supported from 2012 right up until today, thousands of phone calls, endless hours of supportive listening and caring embraces. I owe these women a gratitude, as does Ireland. From Arlette’s first interview with Ray Darcy to Claire addressing the Oireachtas Committee they helped shape the way people viewed what the 8th Amendment was actually doing to women and their families. I knew I had to do my part too, for the silent woman who could not speak out, I wanted to speak for her, feck it, I wanted to scream for her, LOUD!

My involvement didn’t happen by accident. Everyday Stories had been set up by Mary and Caoimhe and they were looking for personal stories of people affected by the 8th Amendment. I sent in that same blog post and Grace’s story and her little illustrated teddy travelled the country, people listened to my words through interactive stories. From this the amazing Yvonne and Amy-Rose from Together for Yes got in touch at the beginning of this year and the ball didn’t stop rolling until May 25th.

I had carried out some interviews previous to becoming involved in the campaign like the Irish Times , The Journal, Her.ie but I was safe behind the my words written by the journalist. I was asked to take part in some radio interviews, this was scary. Now it wasn’t just my words, it was my voice, my flat Mayo accent was going to be heard. My pain was going to be heard and my anger felt, there was going to be pauses where I would have to compose myself and swallow the huge sadness that was flowing down my face. My first Radio interview was with Philip Boucher-Hayes for RTE Radio 1 in March and it was the first time I watched someone’s reaction to my story. I went on the road with Together for Yes and told my story at launches and information meetings in Sligo, Roscommon, Westport and Athlone. Here is where I met some of the grassroots campaigners, the ones who had doors slammed in their faces, the ones who had been doing the donkey work in their rural towns and villages, the ones who won’t be named as heroes of the repeal movement on a public platform because they chose to stay in the background and keep plugging away… these are my repeal heroes.

The ones who helped people realise Roscommon was not the conservative county it was made out to be, the ones who had doorstep conversations in my home town of Ballina, these are my heroes.

Like many campaigners our weekends were no longer spent with family but rather on the road, on our phones, campaigning and talking and I loved every second of it. The badges, the messages, the interviews, the discussions, the tears, the anger, the frustration, the debates, the flyers, the posters, the green, the pink, the country crawling from the doldrums of old Ireland and having a discussion they would have shut down 10 years before.

I felt the country change just as much as I felt the seasons change from spring to summer, yes, there were days when I thought fuck sake this may be lost, but with the support of my repealing family I got back on track.

I remember sitting in the back of a taxi on a warm Friday evening heading into the RTE TV studios and my stomach wanted to literally jump out of my body. Sitting in the green room with so many amazing amazing people, Jenni, Mark, Gerry, Siobhan and her mum it was surreal. I remember walking down the corridor with Mary from the other side to get our mics on thinking please let me get through this without breaking down. Sitting in my seat and watching Dr. Peter Boylan face off the other side with dignity and experience almost took my nerves away, almost. When the cameras stopped rolling I was so grateful I got through the interview!!

I often laugh as having a film crew turn up on my drive was becoming normal during those last few weeks! BBC and CNN were the last two to arrive to my semi-detached house in Mayo. I knew time was running out, the 25th was fast approaching if there was ANYTHING more I could do did it and that wasn’t just me, that was thousands of the repeal army, the pot was at boiling there was nothing more to do on the night of the 24th of May but turn down the heat and allow for a slow simmer until voting commenced.

We all know what happened that weekend, it will be forever etched on our memory. The faces of those people in Dublin Castle, the counters from both sides deep in concentration at the polling stations around Ireland,

TFMR quietly huddled in a corner of the function room sobbing collectively with pure relief, utter sadness and all the while carrying a lingering anger.

These are my memories of what was a crazy 6 months. I can only imagine what its like for those campaigning since 1983. It’s also a thank you, to every single one of you, who knocked on a door, took a leaflet, listened, had a conversation with a spouse, colleague or parent, stood in the lashings of rain at a stall, told their story publicly or to me privately, took absolute abuse from people, hung up a poster, wore a badge but especially to each and every one of you 1,429,981 who voted to stop punishing tragedy, to stop hurting women, to stop allowing women to die silently, to give women and girls choice, no matter WHY their decision. CHOICE. So to you from this ordinary mum of 5 from Mayo, thank you, to you from that lonely woman who boarded a flight to Liverpool almost 5 years ago scared, lonely and angry, thank you.

From my two daughters, a tiny one who was unable to meet her family due to the 8th amendment and the other who won’t have it affect her what-so-ever, thank you.

Halloween with PropShopper

halloween, costumes, children

Its beginning to Look a Lot Like…Halloween!

We are two weeks into September and we have entered Halloween Season already! Colours are changing from bright yellows and blues to blacks and oranges. It’s around this time of year my twin’s minds turn to what they are going to wear for the big night! Gone are they days when a couple of pumpkin outfits would do them, now they request elaborate outfits with matching accessories!!

This time of year always reminds me of when I was young, who remembers the good old sweaty plastic mask and bin bags?? I have linked a post I wrote last year on all things Halloween Nostalgia! For the past couple of years I have been getting their costumes online very last-minute (because that’s me all over!) so I was only delighted when Propshopper got in touch with me!

PropShopper have just launched their website and its full of costumes for women, men and kids. I am personally delighted to see they stock more than the usual “sexy” nurse style of costumes for women, some of them actually go past your knees!! Perfect attire to answer the door with your sweets!

They stock makeup and decorations and sugar glass which is a very cool prop for any Halloween party or of course for plays and theatrical productions!

Back to the kiddies costumes… so the sizing is as follows:

T2 (3-4 years), Small (4-6), Medium (7-9), Large (10-12).

To give you a bit of an idea, Callum was sent the small and he is small for a 3 and 1/2-year-old and the Jester fits him fine (I have to pull the trousers way up – but this is nothing new for Callum, he’s like his mum (a short arse!). The twins were sent the medium and they are perfect sizing (the twins are slightly above average height 7 year olds).

The quality is very good, the material is not transparent as you can get in some places and they are very durable!

They are delighted to have their costumes and now we can focus on the accessories (So they told me anyway!).

They are Irish and they offer the fantastic service of sourcing props for you if you fail to locate the ones you need!

So if you are beginning your hunt for costumes for yourself or the kids look no further than PropShopper! Whats even better I have a sneaky little discount code for you!

If you use MUMMAKEUPBAG when making your purchase your get 10% off your order! Not bad seen as the kids costumes average at the €15 mark!

You can reach out to PropShopper on their Facebook Page, Instagram and of course on their website PropShopper.ie

I have attached some photos but keep an eye out on my social media closer to the spooky night when they will be completely decked out with makeup and accessories!

halloween, kids costume    kids, halloween, kids costumes, halloween costumes, propshopper          

T x


*This is a collaboration with Propshopper and I was sent costumes in return for a blog post. The Code is an affiliate link.

Our trip to Kilkee

kids on the cliff

For our Family Holiday this year we decided to head to the seaside in Ireland. I wanted somewhere like Enniscrone but further away than 8 miles!! So we narrowed it down to Kilkee in Co. Clare. Hotels are a no no anymore for us, from researching hotel rooms we need two or a connecting family room and they can be around €500 for 2/3 nights!

Where we stayed

We played around with booking mobile homes but yet again the size of the mobiles were an issue and there wasn’t many available to rent on site. Air Bnb was next on the list, this was my first time booking with Air Bnb so I was a little nervous about what the place would be like. We booked this house in Kilkee and I couldn’t rate it enough! For 3 nights it cost us €260. The location is smack bang in the centre of the town up a little cul de sac so super quiet, the house itself was only 6 months old and immaculate! The host Kathleen left some fab little buns and tea and coffee. There was 3 double bedrooms, 2 flights of stairs (they supplied stair gates!), downstairs toilet, bathroom upstairs and an en-suite in 3rd floor bedroom. There is all the mod cons you expect with a house rental.

airbnbhouseairbnbkilkee airbnbkilkee

 

Whats to do?

The Beach was literally less than 4 minutes walk from the house, and its a gorgeous little beach ( I say little because I live beside Enniscrone and that’s 5km long). Its a Very safe enclosed horse-shoe shaped beach. We were there the week before school broke up for Summer so it was quite quiet but I can only imagine how packed it can get on a hot day in Summer. There are cliff walks past the beach and the views are stunning! All along there was pools and diving boards some very brave people jump from! The cliff walk is lovely but be warned bring a buggy if you decide to do the whole walk for the little ones…and the big ones!! The views are something else to be honest. Kieran and the boys ventured down to the rock pools while myself, Chloe and Callum relaxed in the Diamond Rocks Cafe. We only had drinks and cupcakes but the menu and food looks amazing in there. There is loads of seating outside and inside with massive windows so you don’t miss a thing! There is a Water World right off the beach but it wasn’t opened while we were there, midweek off peak. The village itself is choc full of restaurants, bars and little nick nack shops! I even spotted a nightclub! We spent the day on the beach for our first full day and the second day was lashing rain so we got in the car and explored. We had planned on going to the Cliffs of Moher but a local patron told us to head to the Loop Head instead as the journey wouldn’t be as long and there would be no queues. He was right. We drove along the Loop Head Drive and it brought us along so many treasures! You can go on a Dolphin Tour, Visit Loop Head Lighthouse and stop along some really gorgeous villages along with way. We stopped by the lighthouse and I made it up four steps before my phobia of steps kicked in!!! On a good day you can see Kerry apparently from the top of the lighthouse (I took their word for it!). We walked around the museum and learned about the history of museums. The most fascinating part of that trip was the giant sign EIRE made out of rocks during the second world war so German bombers knew we weren’t goo old blighty!! I am a history nerd so standing there and seeing it was fascinating, standing on the cliff edge was cool too!!

There are loads of things to do around that area if you have more time to spend, you can do a Fr. Ted tour, visit the Burren, get a ferry across the Shannon estuary to Kerry, Limerick is a stones throw away! We were tied for time so we stayed local to Kilkee.

kilkee family holiday

Where to Eat

Okay so the fabulous Adelle over at Dodees to Daiquiris (a Kilkee expert!) had me warned that Kilkee is expensive to eat in and she was not wrong. On the first day we went into Kilrush to Tesco to stock up on cereals, breakfast food, bread and the essentials we needed. We thought if we had breakfast and lunch in the house and just went for dinner we would cut food costs (its expensive feeding six people in a restaurant!). The first night we went to Myles Creek for dinner, it is a large old style pub and the menu looked good, the usual stuff for kids. The food itself was nice enough but the bill was 96 quid!! Crazy expensive in my opinion. We only had a main each and myself and Kieran had one drink each from the bar. It was lovely but not nice enough to pay nearly one hundred euro for burgers and chips. I mentioned the Diamond Rocks above and although it looked gorgeous I only had drinks, but first impressions were good. The second night we went to Naughton’s Steak and Seafood we sat outside as it was a glorious evening. I judge most places by their kids menu, if they have put effort into it nine times out of ten it’ll be good. Naughtons did not fail us, the kids menu was full of fish, pastas and small portions of the adults menu. Kieran, Chloe and Cian got the fresh fish and it looked amazing. Jamie and I got huge fresh burgers and Callum got plain pasta with a delicious garlic bread, we had a couple of drinks from the bar and it came to under €70! Much better and the owner was so helpful telling us where to visit etc. The last night we had decided to go to the local Chipper Nolans, it was always packed and it was cheap, the chips were delicious and dad’s wallet wasn’t hit as hard!!

There is a pizza place on the main street (by the way all these restaurants were literally 30 seconds walk from each other and our house! and it has 12″ pizzas for €10! Perfect to feed some hungry kiddies after a day in the ocean!

There is a good few pubs scattered along the main street and they all have outside seating. There is a small supermarket and there seems to be an amusement arcade but I don’t think it opened during the week off peak anyway!

So that’s it, my review of our little holiday! After the crazy first half of the year travelling all over the country campaigning for the Repeal of the 8th Amendment our energy and finances were struggling so this little stay-cation was perfect!

There is still a few weeks left in the summer holidays! Why not get away for a couple of nights before the uniforms, lunches and early mornings (boo!!) to Kilkee!

Tracey xx

 

 

 

The Field Farm and 1/2 Acre Review

the farm, little boy playing with farm, animals, cows, farm, playset

The Field & the Boys

the farm, little boy playing with farm, animals, cows, farm, playset

So I am a townie through and through and proud of it. Kieran the long suffering hubbie as some of you might be aware is from the country, Cavan to be precise. The country was an eye opener for me and at the start I did not take to it…looking out and only seeing fields and cows, hills and the neighbouring parish did not float my boat. Over the years I mellowed to it and the thoughts of living in the country actually sat well with me. When the twins came along it was lovely to see them throwing on their wellies and going to feed to cows with their Grandad and they seem to adore it.

I remember lots of Christmas’s when Chloe was little before the boys came along I would catch Kieran wandering down the farm aisle in the toy shop looking nostalgically and a little longingly and the tractors and all the different attachments that came with them! The boys never played with toys for long, they never had the concentration and half the time the toys were just not durable enough for them, they would be in pieces within hours… sometimes on Christmas Morning! Callum is different, he is gentler and adores to play and use his imagination with toys.

So when the lovely people at The Field asked if I would like to review some of their products I jumped at the opportunity, I had the twin’s love of Farms but lack of access to them in a large-ish urban town and Callum’s genuine love of play. I had heard of The Field on the Late Late Toy Show last Christmas and you can imagine poor Kieran’s face when he saw the little boy reviewing it!! “Oh I would have loved that as a kid” he said. To be fair even coming from a townie it looked class.

What is The Field Toy?

A Roscommon Dad listened to his three year old’s request for somewhere to graze his toy animals and he had a light bulb moment! Padraic came up with a solution which involved his already established artificial grass business, he made the field and the hedges and a beautiful wooden gate. Simple but Perfect!

The product and company went from strength to strength and you can read more about it here >>> the original field morphed into The Half Acre field, the field paddocks, the compound and the Grass Roll.

The beauty of this toy and the magic behind it is the fact that it involves no batteries, fancy lights and noises, no levels to pass or plastic. The only accessory you need for The Field is toys your kids already have in their toy boxes and lots and lots of imagination!

Its hard wearing, durable and can go from being a working farm to the scene of a dramatic All-Ireland Final featuring Mayo Vs Cavan (Mayo wins every time of course!) in minutes. At this present moment I am staring at the Field Farm and it looks to have been a golf course recently…there are golf balls sitting on it!

What did they think

My three received the Field Farm and the Half Acre…this was perfect as Callum could play away with his cows and sheep while the boys staged a battle on their Field Farm, cow against cow, farmer against farmer…I don’t know what the prize or the competition entailed nor did I ask!! During the gorgeous weather we have been having we put the two fields together and all three boys had a field each and played away.

This was testament to how durable the toy actually is… it was brought in and out every day, through a narrow back door and not one blade of grass has come loose or gate hinge broken!

Should you buy?

So would I recommend the Field products? Absolutely. Parents know themselves how much plastic can gather in corners, toy boxes, under beds that becomes broke or batteries die, the wheels are pulled off, the heads are pulled off, missing pieces etc. etc. The Field is different, its interchangeable, it can be a Farm, a Football field, a golf course and all that’s needed is a child’s natural imagination! It can be stored away neatly on its side or under beds/couches easily. The 1/2 acre was carried over to their Nanny’s on a sleepover so hassle!

You can purchase the Field all over the country here is a list of Stockists in fact The Field is set to launch in the United States this September (2018)! What an amazing achievement for this local family business!! All stemmed from a Three year old boy and his Dad’s imagination! You can read more about this fantastic news here.

Fancy winning one?

If you Fancy getting your hands on a 1/2 acre field for yourself (and your kids!) answer the following question:

“How many toy fields make up the ultimate field collection? Hint: Check out the Field’s Website for the answer www.thefield.ie

Leave the answer in the comment box or on my facebook page linked below…  you can enter as many time as you wish, share with your friends from my Facebook Page!!

** I was sent the Field in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own (or that of my kids in this case!) and I have not received payment in return for this review**

the farm, the field, kids toys, the field toy, the field farm

Tracey x

December Girl by Nicola Cassidy

december girl, book review

This is my first book review since Alan Greenspan’s Age of Turbulance. That review was part of my business degree module back in 2009 so I knew whatever my thoughts about this novel is was going to be a damn sight more enjoyable than the rise and fall of the former head of the FED!

I was kindly send this novel by Nicola and Bombshell Books to review.

Author Nicola writes over on her blog www.ladynicci.com and I have long been an admirer of her style of writing so I knew her voice would  resonate to me in book form.

I wouldn’t usually be one for historical novels but the strength and Independence of the main character Molly, the location and the endless twists, shocks and anger made this book one of those page turners from page one.

 

december girl, december girl review

What I thought…

It is set in the late 19th and early 20th century in Ireland andthe UK. They say babies born on Winter Solstice are survivors and none more so than the protagonist in this story, Molly Thomas. The book opens with Molly facing the spine chilling realisation that her baby has gone missing from his pram. From that one heartbreaking event we are dipped into Molly’s past through the chapters along with the the other characters who shape her story. You will be behind Molly all the way, through every tragedy and shocking twist that the author Nicola so carefully brings you on. The beautiful style of writing allows you to walk beside Molly, smell, feel and taste every word of the author’s articulate style of writing.

The amount of gasps I made throughout this book is the merit to how much of an page turner this book is!

You can purchase December Girl at most bookstores or on Amazon.

I received this book as a gift in exchange for review, all thoughts and opinions are (as always) my own.

Childs Farm and Ezcema

childs farm

When Callum turned one, he got a few dots on his cheek, I put it down to those little spots babies get. After a week, it had spread into a small but perfectly formed circle and each week it got bigger and bigger until his whole cheek was a painful looking, itchy scab. He diagnosed with psoriasis, ring worm, impetigo, seborrheic dermatitis and was given 4 different oral antibiotics over the course of 4 months. He had every cream on prescription and over the counter. Nothing worked and it gradually spread across his face and onto his legs. We even went to get the cure for skin conditions from a couple of brothers.

Every time we tried a new cream, it was ease the rash a little but after a few days it came back.

This was Callum’s skin before his first flare up:

baby

This was 1 month later:

 

ezcema

Continue reading

Being a 90’s Girl

how to be a 90s girl

So I may be a bit nostalgic of late, I was recently at a 90’s reunion of a nightclub I basically lived in from 1999-2001 and its got me thinking of the golden era where boy bands, Soother necklaces and the original Adidas pull-aways ruled.

The Shift

Okay so when your mam eventually let you go to your first disco, you psyched yourself up for the big night and you prayed to all your Christian Slater posters that you may at long last “get the shift”. You were nervous, but ready. You can not be the last one in the group not to have shifted anyone, no way! You have gotten tips from the 2 experienced girls in the group, there was nothing more to do then just wait. Continue reading

Makeup Bag 101

makeup bag

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I am pretty obsessed with makeup it has to be said. I find nothing more exciting then to go to a pharmacy or department store and spend hours, swatching and looking for a little treasure of a find! This obsession is relatively new I have to admit, it was shortly after Callum was born I began to watch and follow beauty bloggers. It always takes me a good 6 months before I feel any way like my old self after I have a baby, so I presume my love for makeup was me trying to take some control back on my body and my mind…in some weird way.

My daughter had bought me a makeup brush the previous Christmas and apart from that and a random eye shadow brush I used my fingers to apply whatever makeup I had sitting in my drawer and I will be honest, some of this makeup did originate from the height of the Celtic Tiger! Continue reading

“Elf Approved” Hottest Toys of 2017

Okay so if you are like me, this time of year will be spent thinking about getting my act together for Christmas and the Big Man’s Arrival on December 25th. Now I say “thinking about” because I will engage my brain into making a plan but in all likelihood the plan probably wont be carried out until very late November early December. At the same time you might be one of those…you know the types, the ones who pick up Christmas presents from the previous January sales and throughout the year. Now I have nothing against people that do this, feck it some of my best friends do it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it though. Like, why can’t you just panic buy in November like the rest of us?? I am not one bit envious of your organisational skills what-so-ever **enter cricket noise here**

I know Halloween hasn’t hit yet, but look there no harm putting the feelers out and finding out whats cheap, where.

What I have decided to do is give the big man and anyone else that needs it a hand and locate the best place and price to pick up the most popular Christmas gifts of 2017. I have tried to break this up into categories, bear with me a content writer for Argos I’ll never make! Also there are sales happening every day on the run up so obviously I will share offers on my social media if I spot them changing! Also there is the option to buy on a UK or US site and use Address Pal I know Sharon from Behind Green Eyes wrote a blog post on how you can use this option I’ll link it here 

So lets start with Bikes and Trikes as its always a popular request…

So starting with the little ones first Continue reading

Look for The Silver Lining

So if you are following my blog since the start of the year you will know how excited I was to go back to work after being at home with the kids for almost 7 years.

I love my kids but I was never a natural stay at home mum, I love my independence always did.

I felt I lost a little bit of my spark being at home all day every day with the kids. I got lost in being Mum the bum wiper, snot cleaner, shoe put-er-on-er, drink getter, toilet trainer and general life preserver. I wanted just a little bit for me. Maybe that was selfish? My mother was all those things and a hell of a lot more and she never sought more. She had her lot and she lived with it. But from day one I knew I was more than just “Mum”.

Being a mum is the hardest job in the world

Continue reading