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Family Life

Making Magic in Rovanemi, Finland

matching christmas pyjamas

There are a few places on Earth that can be identified as truly magical!  Rovaenemi, Finland is most definitely one of those places.

Santa’s home town has to be the place where the most Christmas magic is found!!

Our first trip to Lapland was December 2017 and it was pure magic.   Between visits to Santa’s Village and Santa Park we discovered ways to make even more magical memories for our family.

Matching Christmas PJs

matching christmas pyjamas

Believe Christmas Pyjamas!

Before leaving Bruno (our Elf on the shelf)  left the entire family matching Christmas PJs!!!  Since we were taking the overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaeinimi these were perfect additions to our trip!  Being last minute as I usually am we ordered ours from Pat Pat but  if you plan ahead Ali Express definitely does family matching Christmas pyjamas and jumpers.

Sledding in Rovaniemi

Snow is such an important part of the magic  Rovaniemi has to offer.  Growing up in Upstate NY snow play was a huge part of my childhood.

Snowplay when in Lapland is an absolute must!!

We threw countless snowballs, made a choir of lapland sledssnow angels and the kids spent more time in sleds than walking.

One of our best Lapland experiences  was sledding in Rovaniemi.  No frills – nothing extravagant just sledding down a local hill In Rovaniemi.  Behind the Angry Birds Park (which we was covered in snow) there is a hill that goes down towards the river.  Grab some sleds (available cheaply at most shops) and spend a few hours racing down the hill and falling off sleds together.  Whether you plan to ski or not the entire family needs snow gear for Lapland or you won’t be able to truly enjoy the snow.  We got ALL of ours from Lidl and it was perfect!  We were actually too warm a few times so dress in layers!

Embrace the Magic

lapland magicIf you are looking for a laid back holiday where the kids entertain themselves while you lounge with a book or a beer I wouldn’t recommend Lapland.   Don’t get me wrong WE LOVE those types of holidays too but Lapland isn’t one of them.  Lapland is a holiday where the whole family can be a kid again.  Whether its skiing or sitting on Santa’s lap embrace it and participate….

 Throw snow balls –
Ask Santa for something special this year –
Whisper to reindeers and hug huskys.

One of our best Lapland memories was when ThisIrishGirl was sitting on the floor in Santa Park patiently waiting for ThisIrishBoy to get his snow gear on.  It wasn’t too long before two elves sat down on the floor next to her and we were all laughing together.  It’s not every day you get a casual conversation with one of Santa’s elves and its a memory that we all cherish.

Want to learn more about our trip to Lapland and how to do it yourself? Check out our posts here.

Disclaimer *** VisitRovaniemi kindly provided us with free entry into Santa Park and some.   We were was not asked to write this review.  As always all views are our own regardless of paid or gifted.

Family Life

Smart Phones & The Playground

smartphones and the playgound

Today This Irish Girl asked to go to the local playground.  I have to admit – I pretty much hate the playground. I  use every tactic I can to divert their attention whenever we drive by. Today I guess I was in a good mood.  As she ran at speed from the car it was obvious she couldn’t believe her luck.

She’ll be 8 in September.

Eight is like a proper kid age, not a child age.

The playground was empty except for two boys sitting on the swings each in a peculiar hunched over posture that looked almost painful.  On closer look both boys were engrossed in their phones on their laps.

Sitting there on the swings – not swinging.

I can’t say for certain how old these boys were.  Older than 8 but not teenagers.  Not even preteens I am guessing.  Kids. Kids who should have been running, laughing…playing.

For 45 minutes myself and This Irish Girl played together. ( I said I was in a good mood!)

Conscious of the two boys entirely plugged in I sat my phone on the bench alone and chased This Irish Girl up and down the park.  I revelled in her laughter at my feeble attempts on the monkey bars.  We laid together on the bucket swing watching the clouds float by.

All the while I kept an eye on the two boys sitting on the swings hunched over – not swinging – not talking to each other.

Eventually This Irish Girl shared her frustration with me that she wanted a turn on the swings so we went over and asked for a turn.  The boys were well-mannered and obliging – both jumping up to offer their swings – these were good kids.  As This Irish Girl and I swung together the two boys moved off.  I stared willing them to play or at least engage in friendly banter – instead they moved to the bench and assumed hunched posture side – by – side.

So many thoughts were going through my mind…

Do those boys need smartphones? I know in today’s age there is great comfort in the ‘safety’ of older ‘independent’ kids having phones but was it worth the loss of playing at the park.

What examples are we setting at home with screen time? We are pretty strict (or at least try to be).  No tablets on school days, limits over holidays, not in bedrooms – the usual recommendations on screen time.  Recently though the kids were gifted ancient iPads from their older cousins.  They’ve both taken to texting and sending video messages /pictures to family in the U.S.  I love that this is helping foster these relationships but after today I am reconsidering it all.

Nearly an hour later we left for home and the boys sat there still.

As we walked to the car This Irish Girl grabbed my hand.  (oh sweet girl please don’t stop taking my hand).

‘Mom I don’t think those boys were having any fun at the park, that’t too bad.’

Yep sweetheart it really is too bad…(and please don’t hate me when you ask for a phone because you won’t get one).

 

Family Life

3 Ways to Save Extra Money

save extra money

 

It’s January which means we’re totally low on cash. Ironically a new year has us dreaming and planning on ways to spend money.  We’re not going to stop dreaming so we need to save extra money this year.

Here are three simple ways we save extra money:

Take A Money Challenge

Pinterest is over run with money challenge ideas.  Probably the most popular one is the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge where you put money away each week  progressively and save €1.378 within a year.  Week 1 you save €1, week 2 save €2 and so on until you’re putting away €52 the last week.

We tried this a few years ago and found when we needed money most it was hard to save.  We didn’t make it through the whole year but we did save an extra €500 for our summer holidays.

It worked better for us when we started jumping around the weeks and saving some of the bigger amount weeks earlier in the year.

The Manage

save extra money manageI had never heard of a ‘manage’ before I met ThisIrishDad and his family.  It is such a genius way to put away a bit of extra money over the year.  We participate in a Christmas manage but you could have a manage for any reason really.  All you need is a few willing participants and someone to religiously deposit money into an account for the group.  For 50 weeks out of the year we each contribute €10 to the Christmas manage.

Every group member hands over their weekly money and one person deposits it into a bank or credit union account.  Then 50 weeks later you get €500!!  Ours is run so we get it at the end of November every year.  We have two weeks off and then we are actually saving again for the next Christmas before this Christmas even happens.

Even though I try to have most of my Christmas shopping done early,  the extra cash in late November is always welcome!

Keep the Change

When Ireland started rounding to get 1 and 2 cent coins out of circulation I had a thought that ’rounding’ could work as a way to save extra money.  This is how it works:

  • use cash to buy things as much as you can
  • any time you get coins as change SAVE it

Pretty easy!

We have one of those money saving tins that you have to open with a can opener.  I’ve gotten a small change purse to carry with me and put any coins I get as change in.  When I’m home it needs to get into the money tin as soon as possible (to keep me from spending it on coffee etc).

The extra money always comes in useful whether its saving for holidays, a rainy day or to have for when the washing machine inevitably gives up.

Got more ideas on how to slowly squirrel away some extra money this year?  I’d love to hear them.

Family Life

This Irish Family Goes to Lapland

We’ve told ThisIrishGirl and ThisIrishBoy and now we can share it without fear of ruining our big surprise…..

We’re going to Lapland!!!

 

It’s no secret how much we love the holidays in this house. For years now I’ve been dreaming of taking the kids to Lapland and we finally are.

Before we go any further I have to say a big thank you to Corrina for all her posts on how to DIY Lapland.   We booked our trip based on all of Corrina’s useful information. Corrina this is happening for us thanks to you!  If you are even considering booking Lapland on your own you need to check out Corrina’s posts!

Also a big thanks to the friend who gave me the ‘gentle nudge’ to go for it over coffee one Friday afternoon in August

(this proves everyone needs good bloggers and great friends in their lives!)

I promise over the next few months to share all the details starting with what we’ve booked so far…

Flights

We’re flying with Norwegian air from Dublin to Helsinki.  We haven’t flown with Norwegian yet but I am hearing good reviews on their European services.  Flights for 4 of us with bags came to €599 from Dublin to Helsinki.

I totally could have done better on price but I panicked at booking.

I ended up booking the LowFare+ tickets. In hindsight we definitely didn’t need to.  The LowFare price was closer to €300 so learn from my mistake and don’t panic. Do your homework and only pay for what you need (we will all have free checked baggage and probably won’t use it).

“The Polar Express”

Ok it’s not REALLY the Polar Express but it might as well be!!

An overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi

At this point I still have romantic notions of the 4 of us sleeping soundly in our two berth cabin but I’ll let you know!

Follow Corrina’s advice on how best to book the train from VR.  She was spot on and we booked out train for €236 return for two adults. Kids under 10 go free with a paying adult but you can’t book it online.

You must ring VR to add the kids to your tickets after – customer service at VR was fantastic and English speaking (00358 203 32033).

©Visit Rovaniemi (Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd.).

The train is basically two nights accommodation too.  I have heard that the overnight special price isn’t available for all dates in December but we lucked out.  Train tickets can only be booked 60 days in advance. Having booked flights & accommodation in early September I was worried about the train but there was no reason to be.  Also there was really no reason to get up in the middle of the night to book train tickets as soon as possible – plenty of cabins were available.

I’m told breakfast on the train leaves much to be desired so my master plan is to pack us each breakfast packs with cereal, juice cartons and fruit to get us through the morning.

Also – Consider train arrival times in Rovaniemi.

Some trains arrive quite early in the morning.  I didn’t want to book a train that would leave us standing in the cold waiting for things to open. I imagine the kids would be cranky and cold and not the romantic Christmas welcome to the Arctic Circle I’m envisioning.

Rovaniemi Accommodation

We booked in September and by that time many hotels that were in our price range were booked out.  Visit Rovaniemi has some pretty cool looking accommodation that is worth checking out.  We booked Airbnb which has its benefits when travelling with kids.  Check out my top tips on landing the best Airbnb for your family.

The Lapland Experience

This Irish Family Goes to Lapland

©Visit Rovaniemi (Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd.)

As you can imagine we are in the thick of narrowing down and planning how we will spend our time in Rovaniemi.

We of course will see the main man himself at Santa Village and visit Santa Park as well.

The kids are looking forward to all the outdoor activities and getting up close with some reindeer.  Even though ThisIrishDog is a husky they have their heart set on a fast paced ride through a winter wonderland pulled by huskies.

ThisIrishDad and I nearly went for a Northern Lights Cruise for our honeymoon.  Seeing the Northern Lights has always been on our bucket list and we CANNOT WAIT!

The more I read about Rovaniemi the more and more I want to do.  I can’t wait to check out some of the local cultural activities on offer!

The kind people at Visit Rovaniemi have been helping us develop our itinerary and we are so appreciative of all they have offered us.  Full reviews on everything we do coming once we

return!

 

A Day in Helsinki

The overnight train arrives in Helsinki too late to catch the flight back to Dublin that morning.  Perfect excuse to spend a day exploring!  I’ll let you know how we spend our time.  We used booking.com to find accommodation close to the airport with free shuttle service for our early flight.

Don’t want to visit Helsinki? Norwegian has direct flights to Rovaniemi from Gatwick Airport. The fights from Cork meant an overnight in London for little savings so we’re taking in Helsinki while we can!

This Irish Family goes to LaplandOther essentials..

Well, it is the Arctic Circle so it’s cold!!! I’ve been stocking up on thermals and tights and all kinds of layers for all of us.  Lidl, Aldi and Decathlon.ie all have offers on winter gear. The kids and I hit Lidl last week at opening time and got everything we needed for all of us.

 

After much debate we told the kids last week and I am so glad we did.  They are buzzing with excitement and the build up is exciting.  We’ve gone from episodes of Fuller House and RescueBots to the VisitRovaniemi YouTube Channel in the house!

Cost so far:

Total costs are for 2 adults & 2 kids (ages 7 and 4) for 5 nights.

  • Dublin-Helsinki flights €600
  • overnight train Helsinki – Rovaniemi return €236
  • 2 nights Airbnb Rovaniemi €320
  • 1 night Helsinki hotel €169

Total Spent so far: €1,325

*quoted price for 1 night trip for family of 4 from Dublin to Rovaniemi by local travel agent similar date : €2500 +

 

If you’ve been to Rovaniemi drop us a comment and tell us your best memory.  If you haven’t been and want to visit stay tuned and we’ll help you start planning!

Family Life

How to Book the Best Airbnb for your Family

book the best airbnb for your family

We’ve recently started using Airbnb when travelling with the kids. While we’ve had to sacrifice some amenities (we still haven’t found an AirBnB with a pool 🙂 ) Airbnb has provided comfortable, affordable travel accommodation for our family.

Despite good experiences the travel control freak in me kicks into over drive when booking an Airbnb.

Prior to booking I go through an extensive ‘vetting’ process.  Family travel can be stressful enough. I want to be sure our accommodation won’t be an added stress on arrival.  Keep reading for my tips on how to choose the right Airbnb for your family.

Before Booking

With so many properties at great destinations Airbnb can be overwhelming. You need to shortlist.

  •  Use Filters – This seems obvious but make sure your filters are set to meet your needs.  When travelling with the kids we want access to an entire home – not shared space.
  •  Keep an eye out for Superhosts- Superhosts are pretty self explanatory. They have received enough quality feedback ensuring they provide a top notch service to their guests.  Airbnb verifies feedback regularly in order to maintain Superhost status.  Not every great Airbnb will have Superhost status though so it’s not a definite requirement for us.  Absolutely all our hosts must be verified by Airbnb.  It’s not a fool proof  process but verification does add another layer of security.
  • Read the entire brochure – for me the more detail the better….its saves me asking the host directly if they tell me in the brochure how far away public transport is and if there is decent wifi. Also it’s very important to check finer details like hidden costs and cancellation policies.
  • Read the reviews –  Generally we only look at properties with a number of reviews when we’re travelling with the kids.  The reviews give you a good sense of what to expect.
  • Read the hosts reviews of guests –  If you click on the icon for guests leaving recommendations you can see what the host says about their guests.  It’s a good way to gain insight into your host’s personality.  Also, if travelling abroad you can get an idea of how well they use English which may be important to you.

Emailing Potential Hosts

Once we’ve shortlisted a few properties I email hosts directly with some questions.  When we travel with the kids I want to make sure we have a responsive host in case of an emergency.  Also there are some details I want to be sure about before we travel.  The questions can vary but here are some of my typical host questions.

  • What floor is the property on and does it have a lift?  (important if you’re travelling with a buggy)
  • What basics do you provide in the property?  — I don’t mind stashing a roll of toilet roll in my suitcase but I won’t be bringing bed linen.  Also there is a big bonus for us if there is tea and coffee already stocked in the kitchen!
  • Where and when do we get the key?  —This is important.  Hosts with several properties may expect you to come to them to get the key and it may be in a different location than where you are staying.  Particularly if we have a limited time I want a host that will meet me or leave the key for me somewhere near the property.  I don’t want to drag the kids across town to get a key.
  • Do you live locally?   – – You may be surprised to discover some hosts don’t live in the city or even the country of their property.  This might be fine, but when we travel with the kids I prefer knowing I can get in touch with someone local in case of an emergency.
  • Is there an early check- in option?  If your travel plans bring you to a location early you may want to either check-in early or know where you can at least store your luggage for a while.  Obviously you can’t expect a host to always facilitate an early check-in but they should be able to give you an idea of where you can store your luggage if not with them.
  • Exact location details – Is the property at the top of a steep hill? (I can hear the kids whining already) Where is public transport? Is there a shop nearby?  One of the perks of Airbnb is self-catering options and even breakfast in each morning can save on spending.

Before Travelling

Within a week or so of travel I generally send an email to the host via Airbnb checking in and confirming everything.  It’s also a chance to ask any last minute questions and finalise directions. By this time the hosts know if they can facilitate early check – in too.

After Travel

Review your host and the property based on your needs.  Airbnb works because of honest feedback. Write a review that speaks to your needs and your group…if you travelled with a family and young kids speak to that so other families benefit from your feedback.

 

Do you Airbnb when you travel?? Tell us your tips for scoring the perfect Airbnb!!

 

Family Life

Our Summer Bucket List – How it Went and Why We’ll Do it Again

summer bucket list

At the start of the summer we felt inspired and created our Summer 2017 Bucket List.  Our list contained some aspirational ideas like camping (because we have never camped before) to the more mundane (like going out for a Sunday dinner). We tried to include as many cheap (if not free) ideas of what we could do together (like have a water fight at home).

Some people thought the idea of a summer ’to do’ list would defeat the idea of lazy summer days and pressure our family into always ‘doing.’

In contrast we found our summer bucket list allowed us to be cognizant of the summer weeks flying by.

We checked over our list from time to time of the summer.

Sometimes it was inspiration for us to get out and find an adventure.  Some days we used it as an excuse to be lazy and camp out on the couch with bowls of popcorn.

More often than not we decided to do something ELSE – something that wasn’t on the list.

Most of all it kept our family together over the summer.  Choosing (or not chosing) from our list was something we did together.  Whatever we ended up doing (or not doing) we did it together.

With the start of school looming next week we sat down to see if we achieved everything we set out to do.

We didn’t complete 100% of what was on our list this summer.  (I’m not sure we even covered 70%) Some of the things made more sense to wait for autumn/winter months. Sometimes we just didn’t want to do what was on the list.

It wasn’t about success rate or ticking off a ‘to – do list.’ Our summer bucket list was meant for a bit of fun and to remind us to make the most of summer any way we chose.

There were other positives about our list that I hadn’t expected.

  • The kids loved the idea of sitting down together and being part of the decision-making and planning on how we would spend our time.
  • Because it was our family list…there wasn’t any arguing that we were doing what one kid wanted to do more than the other.
  • We learned something about each other.  I had no idea the kids wanted to try some of the things they listed.
  • The kids learned the benefits of having a plan while being flexible to go with the flow.

While we didn’t complete 100% of our list. Our Bucket List did exactly what we set out for it to do.

It was never intended to pressure us into staying overwhelmingly busy over the summer and it didn’t.

It was meant to inspire us to find things to enjoy together.  And it so did.

Family Life

Irish Summer Car Kit

Irish Summer Car Kit

Before school let out when the weather was fine the kids and I got a notion for a spontaneous after school picnic.  Not wanting to travel home to get picnic supplies I opted for a quick spin around The Range UK for equipment and the local Spar for provisions.  While it doesn’t take much for me to come up with an excuse for a trip to The Range, the truth is I spent nearly €50 I didn’t need to spend.  If I had been better prepared with an Irish Summer Car Kit I wouldn’t have spent money unnecessarily.

Nonetheless, we had a fab spontaneous picnic at Fota House and Gardens.  While the spontaneous adventures always end up being the best, I realised I could be better prepared for our spontaneity. Drawing inspiration from Simply Kierste I started to think about what we would need to have on hand to be ready for anything this summer.

When we got home I spent some time making our Irish Summer Car Kit.    And while Simply Kierste has it all pretty in a storage box – all I had to hand was an oversized bag from The Range.  So with our Irish Summer Car Kit in the back of the car we are all set for what ever summer throws our way.

Here’s a list of everything in our Irish Summer Car Kit….have I forgotten anything?

Irish Summer Car Kit:

  • Spare clothes for all of us.  Especially Mom & Dad.  I usually have spare clothes for the kids but have often found myself holding back so not to get wet or mucky myself   – no more excuses now.
  • Wellies or spare shoes
  • Jumpers / Raincoats
  • Sunscreen & Sun hats
  • Picnic Blanket
  • Towels
  • Bubbles
  • Hurleys
  • Frisbee
  • Soccer Ball
  • Wipes
  • Baby Powder  (because it really DOES remove sand)
  • Loose change to cover the cost of ice-creams because I never have cash it seems
  • Plasters

It’s been a few weeks since we put our Irish Summer Car Kit in the car and I have no idea why I didn’t do it sooner.  We have pulled just about everything out of it already and its been so nice to not have to think too hard to ‘pack’ the car before we go off for the day.  I will say though –  that huge The Range bag is a bit of a disaster.  It is too big and tough to find things in. At some point I will put it all in a nice organised box…or probably not – I’ll probably spend the summer rummaging through the big Range bag.

Is there any must have I’ve left out of our Irish Summer Car Kit?

Family Life

Our Easter Traditions

I love Easter.

Some of my favourite childhood memories are from Easter.  Springtime. Chocolate.  Cute little bunnies and chicks. Easter egg hunts.  What kid doesn’t love all of that?

As a parent I might just love Easter even more.

In our house Easter morning is a very close second to Christmas morning.  It’s just about as magical as Christmas……for way less effort!!

The kids have been buzzing about Easter for weeks (with a brief hiatus to buzz about St. Patrick’s Day of course).  Now that the parade is over Easter is all they can talk about.

We do Easter big in this house….there are decorations to be put up, baking with the kids to do, decoratng Easter eggs and a few other simple traditions.

Simple traditions that make truly lovely family time and lasting memories.

Feel like trying something new this Easter with the kids?

Here are 5 simple traditions that you can start with your family this Easter to make memories that will last a lifetime.

1.  Decorate Easter Eggs

Every year growing up we dyed hard boiled eggs into bright colours and tried our best to make colourful designs on them without breaking them.  Today there are egg colouring kits in about every Euro shop around.  Each kit seems to differ a bit from the others but for the most part just boil some eggs and follow the directions.  I’ve also spotted kits with styrofoam eggs to paint which is a great idea for small kids & kids with egg allergies.

Our tradition is to boil about a dozen eggs and dye them a day or two before Easter.  I seem to be the only one in the house that actually eats the hard boiled eggs so I end up with plenty of egg mayonnaise for the week.

I found egg dyes in Lidl for cheap so we’ll give them a go this year!

2.  Make your own Easter Chocolates

It wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate.  Of course the kids will have plenty of Easter eggs but the kids love to make their own Easter chocolates too.  The beauty of making your own Easter chocs is it can be as simple or difficult as you want.

  1.  melt down milk chocolate….you could melt a variety of coloured chocolates make the chocolates really pretty, but in my life simple is success.
  2. fill plastic chocolate molds (again I’ve spotted these in most euro shops this year)
  3. freeze until solid, pop out of the molds & enjoy.

These  handmade chocolates are perfect for sharing & make a special gift for just about anyone you can think of.

Try to find the molds that make small chocolates.  The small pieces make it easier limit the chocolate consumption.  Limiting the kids to  1 or 2 pieces is easier than wrestling a whole Easter egg from them.

Here’s a tip:  Only wash those plastic chocolate molds with warm water (no soap)  it will make sure your chocolates have a lovely shine to them.

3. Plant a Jellybean Garden

This one is pure magic!  My kids have been begging to get out in the garden & plant something for weeks.  With the weather finally warming up it’s certainly time to get out there and get planting.

Imagine their excitement if you plant a handful of jellybeans that magically grow into lollipops over night!!!  The beauty of this jellybean garden is it can be done in a pot on the window sill  or outside in the garden.  Once the kids are asleep mom and dad ‘help’ the growing along by placing lollipops in the soil.  The next morning the kids find their jellybean garden has magically grown and given them lollipops over night!  Check out Beauty & Bedlam   for more info on how to plant your own magic jellybean garden.

4.  Leave a Treat for the the Easter Bunny

When she was about three ThisIrishGirl questioned why Santa was left a treat of milk & cookies and the Easter Bunny who had virtually the same job didn’t get left anything.  We couldn’t argue her logic & asked her what she thought the Easter Bunny would like to eat.  Without hesitation she answered “jam sandwiches and carrots” and a tradition was born.

5.  Have an Easter Egg Hunt

Imagine the excitement early Easter morning when the little people in your life wake to find the Easter bunny came and hid eggs all over!!  When we leave a treat for the Easter Bunny the night before Easter the kids also leave their Easter Baskets and empty plastic Easter eggs for the Easter Bunny to put treats in and hide.  We love the plastic fillable eggs because you can put so many things inside them.  Each year we fill our eggs with:

  • Jellybeans
  • Marshmallows
  • MiniEggseaster egg hunt
  • Hair ties
  • Hair clips
  • Tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Money
  • Funky socks!
  • Toy Cars
  • Lego

There really are so many things OTHER than chocolate you can fit into them.  The Easter bunny fills a basket for each kid and hides that too.  Usually small presents…books, bubbles, colour sets etc….

There are plenty of ways to have an egg hunt.  No matter what way you do it make sure you count the eggs before you hide them.  You will then know for certain if all the eggs have been found.  My kids do love it when they stumble across one or two well hidden ones in the days/weeks after Easter.

We hope whatever you get up to over Easter that you enjoy it & share it with with friends and family!

 

Family Life

Winning the War on Head Lice

Winning the war on head lice

 

Warning:  If your head isn’t already itching it’s about to.  

School emailed at least twice this week warning of head lice in some classes.  The calm, rational side of my brain knows in the grand scheme of things head lice is so not a big deal – – – the panicky bug hating side of my brain wants to grab the kids and start picking through their heads like a momma monkey.

The panicky bug hating side won.  I hate all bugs.

Wait!
Didn’t both kids share a pillow with me for at least one night within the past week??
Daddy monkey better get over here and start picking through my hair.

Ugh?!?!  All jokes aside we have lived through head lice before and if we have to fight it again in this house ThisIrishFamily is armed and ready.

Our Preventative Head Lice Regime:

Since having head lice in the house two summers ago we’ve been militant with our preventative regime.

  • Use a shampoo that contains natural head lice repellents.

We use Vosene 3-in-1 conditioning shampoo because it’s pretty readily available and contains tea tree oil and lemon eucalyptus but there are plenty of products out there.  ThisIrishBoy tends to break out in eczema so when we find something that works and doesn’t give him a break out we stick with it.

  • Use a daily defence spray

Again our go to is the Vosene Daily Conditioning Defence Spray.  If I’m honest it doesn’t smell the best but I just haven’t gotten around to finding something new.  I can be pretty hit and miss if the kids get a squirt behind the ears or not before school. Since the school has emailed the spray is in plain sight so we don’t forget….and we ALWAYS spray the kids before we head to an indoor play area.

  • Always tie hair up

ThisIrishGirl knows by now wearing her hair down at school is just not an option.

  • Regularly Comb Hair with the Nitty Gritty Nit Free Comb

If you don’t have one of these combs and you have a kid in primary school you need to invest in one. They are about €15 and worth every penny.  When the school emails about an outbreak the kids get a good comb through after showers 1-2 times per week.  If there are any creepy crawlers in their it pulls them right out hopefully before they lay any eggs.  The Nitty Gritty comb was developed by mums and is really the best  anti-lice comb I’ve come across.

NittyGritty NitFree Comb

Our go to NittyGritty Nit Free Comb

Waging War on Head Lice:

It happens to the best of us- head lice is unavoidable.  So here’s how to wage war if you do find head lice.  By way of warning though….two summers ago three of us in the house ended up with head lice (myself included).  We all know I am a bug hating germaphobe so I potentially went a bit overboard in my battle – but we got rid of them!  All of the following steps were after very careful and thorough Pinterest review on the topic.  Turns out the BIGGEST difficulty with head lice is re-infestation so it’s important not to let your defences down.

  1. Chemical Treatment:  It’s up to you as a parent if you want to put the chemical treatment on your kids heads.  By the time I realised what was going on we were in a bit of a bad way…and we had our summer holidays coming up.  The Nitty Gritty comb is an excellent alternative if you want to avoid chemical use.  ALSO – there are chemical resistant head lice in North America….that is the stuff nightmares are made of!!!
  2. Wash all hair combs and brushes in the top shelf of the dishwasher. It will be hot enough to kill all bugs and hopefully won’t melt brushes.  We did lose one brush melted in the dishwasher. I eventually replaced them all anyway but on a late week night I wasn’t too worried I would re-contaminate chemically treated hair with infested brushes the next morning. It’s really important not to share brushes either.
  3. Single Use Towels for about a week anytime a towel was used on a head in the house it was washed immediately to avoid re-infestation
  4. Hot wash all bed linen and hoover all carpets, bed mattresses and sofas. I totally went bananas with the hoover for about a week.
  5. Tumble dry pillows and cushions for at least 15 minutes HOT to kill any bugs
  6. Place all stuffed animals in a black rubbish bag and tie tightly for 10 days.  This one broke my heart a little bit so the kids picked one small teddy and I through it in the tumble drier for a while and hoped for the best. All the others were bagged and stored.
  7. Keep Combing Everyone was showered and got a good comb-through with The Nitty Gritty comb every single evening for 5-7 days.  After that it was every 2 days for about two weeks- even when we were on our holidays.  I would be totally lying if I said my kids were compliant and didn’t complain about this. In the end they got precious iPad time while they were being combed. Needs must right?!

Honestly this was a time-consuming regime especially with two working parents. I was so thankful for ThisIrishDad patiently combing out my hair at night. I also straightened my hair every day that week with hot straightening iron- – – – I found no concrete evidence in my ‘research’ indicating this had a positive effect on killing head lice or their shells but I did it anyway.

Without a doubt head lice is one of those horrible kid things that most of us will go through.  In hindsight it was more time-consuming than anything.  Considering we didn’t get a rebound infestation I would spend all the time again if I ever have to.

I hate these little suckers…if you have any tips to win the war against head lice let me know in the comments!

**Disclaimer:  There is nothing to disclaim with this post, no compensation was received all products were recommended because we use them in our house.

Family Life

Parenting Through the Next 4 Years

A Plan to Parent through this presidency

 

I’ve had so many thoughts and emotions flying around my head the past several months and I wasn’t sure I was going to write about it.  But whatever-  if you can’t express yourself on your own blog what’s the point?

If you’ve been following ThisIrishFamily for any time you know that 3/5 of us are American.  ThisIrishGirl and ThisIrishBoy have the unique experience of dual citizenship by birth.  And since their birth we have strived hard to be sure they identify as both Irish and American.   We combine both cultures in pretty much everything we do.

Despite over 12 years living as an expat in Ireland I continue to have strong ties with America and identify as American.  This means that this past November I too cast my ballot and watched along closely to the US Presidential election.

I spent a very sleepless night November 8th watching the US news and keeping up with friends back home via social media and WhatsApp.  And as night slipped into morning here I wept.

With the dawn ThisIrishGirl ran into our bedroom asking “Did she win? Did she win?”    You see in our house we for weeks we had been talking about how our behaviour is viewed by others and there was no better teaching than the US election.  ThisIrishGirl was very clear who was better behaved.

“Did she win?  Did she win?”

I scooped her up in my arms and under the duvet  and told ThisIrishGirl that no, she did not win.

For the first time I felt the great sadness and concern that hasn’t left me since.  In that moment I very seriously questioned what kind of world my darling girl would grow up in.  And again I cried.

Life went on and we went about our day here. I did my best not to engage in US election talk at work, or at least get wrapped up in the emotion of it all.  After all this would effect the entire world so of course every Irish person had an opinion. I just wasn’t ready to talk about it. I grappled with the mixed emotions of  wanting to be at home in NY and feeling glad that there was an ocean between us.

Over dinner that night,  both ThisIrishGirl and ThisIrishBoy had their own thoughts on “Donald Duck”  (at 3 we had to clarify some things  for ThisIrishBoy).

Both children were adamant in their disdain for the President Elect.  

In their innocent 3 and 6 year old minds, fair questions were being asked.  ‘Why build a wall if those people need help?’  ‘Why does he always shout and talk angry to others?’ Tough questions  that deserved honest answers.

But I am an American and grew up with the value that the American Presidency is to be respected.  So I firmly explained that while we didn’t agree with much of what the President Elect valued we as a family would respect him as our President come January.

It’s January now.

It’s January now and a BIG part of me wishes I never had told the kids they needed to respect the President Elect. For the past two months we have watched as the President Elect has consistently acted in a manner that shows a blatant disregard and disrespect of the very values we are raising our kids to hold sacred:

Be kind always.

Be gracious when you are wrong.

Be thankful for all you have and do what you can for those who are less fortunate.

Education is important.

Be honest in your words and actions.

Embrace diversity.

Think before you act.

How can I as a parent in one breath expect the above from my children and in the next honour a man who’s behaviour is in direct contradiction?

I’m not sure I can.  

While I have always been proud to identify as an American and will continue to do so,  now more than ever I will focus on being a PARENT.

I will put all my efforts on ensuring my children witness daily acts of kindness and acceptance.

They will see us embrace diversity and respect others.

We will continue to set examples of love, honesty and fairness.

We will teach them daily right from wrong.

We will make them feel safe, valued and loved.

And if every parent across the world does the same then I have great great hope in our future.

And to you Mr. President,  the children are watching, the world is watching and we are all hoping.