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My Story Pt. 3 – Corkonian by Blood

This post is part 3 of 3 in the series of My Story.

October 2010 Mom and Dad came over to meet ThisIrishGirl after her arrival that September.  They stayed for almost a month.  What we didn’t realise then (but possibly subconsciously suspected) was that Mom was starting to get sick.  That visit she was rattled with back pain and couldn’t walk far.  We were lucky to have three more years to make memories with her.

Between feeds and extended bouts of crying from a newborn suffering with silent reflux  I got to chat with Mom and Dad about any stories of Ireland they could possibly remember- all the stories I wished I had asked my grandparents.

Before Mom and Dad left Cork we went for one last family meal in the city with ThisIrishDad’s family.  We ended up parking that day along Pope’s Quay at the bottom of Shandon Street.

What none of us knew then was that we were metres away from where my mother’s grandfather had last lived before immigrating to America.

To this day I have a deep  regret that Mom didn’t get to wander Shandon Street knowing her grandfather had roamed those very footpaths.  Mom never saw where he lived.

The 1901 Irish Census shows Daniel Looney and his siblings lived at 54 Shandon Street.

1901 Census - 54 Shandon Street

1901 Census – 54 Shandon Street

The Looney siblings lived with their Uncle John and Aunt Julia after their parents Denis and Catherine Looney had passed away.  John Looney is listed as a shopkeeper.  In the 1911 census John Looney and his family resided in House 17 in Fair Hill.

Daniel Looney immigrated to America in 1905.

He boarded the Oceanic from Queenstown (Cobh, Co Cork) and sailed across the Atlantic to his sister (Margaret) Maggie who had gone before him.   If you visit the Titanic Experience today in Cobh you walk in the footsteps of those immigrants.

Pier in Cobh

Original pier Daniel Looney would have walked to board the Oceanic

Daniel became a taxi driver for his brother’s company in NYC.  He married Marie O’Brien who died giving birth to my grandmother, Millie.  Daniel and Millie shared an apartment in Washington Heights, Manhattan with Daniel’s sister Maggie and her husband Con Leahy.

Maggie was the mother figure in my grandmother’s life and my own mother was named after her.

Grandpa Daniel Looney passed away in 1969.  Mom always said she remembers her Grandpa as a proud Irish American who loved his country.

There was little talk of why he left Cork and the family that remains there. Many questions remain for me.

But here I am in 2017 living in Cork.

When I began my story in Part 1 I set out to justify how an American can run a blog titled ThisIrishFamily.

And while I don’t need to justify a thing, it turns out I am actually Corkonian – a few generations removed – returned home and raising This Irish Family.

 

Read more:

My Story Pt. 1

My Story Pt. 2

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My Story Pt. 2- An Olympian in the Family

This post is part 2 of 3 in the series of My Story.

Here’s a fact about me…I am an Olympic junkie and love the everything about the games. Remember the London Olympics in 2012?! Ireland had Katie Taylor that year and with the games so close I was hooked more than ever.

Sitting at home watching the 2012 Olympics there was an RTE commentator discussing the overall total of Olympic medals Ireland had ever received.  I couldn’t resist bragging to ThisIrishDad that Mom’s great uncle, Con won at least one of those Olympic medals.

He doubted me and so began my search to prove it.

Through the power of Google I had answers within minutes. Not only did Con Leahy in fact win olympic medals, he had his own Wikipedia page! Con had won silver and gold olympic medals in the 1906 olympics which are unfortunately not recognized by the IOC.

photo credit: Wikipedia

Con was both an impressive athlete, and a true Irishman.

He protested the listing of Irish athletes as members of team Great Britain during the 1906 Olympics.  During a medal ceremony, Con supported an Irish teammate who climbed the flag pole to take down the British Flag and replace it with the Irish one flag.

Sadly,  in 2012 I discovered that I had missed the 2006 commemoration ceremony of a monument to Con in Limerick.

While I relished in the bragging rights of an Olympian in the family to ThisIrishDad, the truth is, Con Leahy was only mom’s great uncle through marriage.

But finding information on Con proved to be the first breadcrumbs to finding my own Corkonian roots.

Read more: 

My Story Pt. 1   

My Story Pt. 3

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My Story Pt. 1 – Just Your Average Irish-Italian-American

 

This post is part 1 of 3 in the series of My Story.

Anyone who has been following along (or actually read the about page) knows by now that I am American.  Born and raised in Upstate NY with short college stints in Pennsylvania and the Washington, DC Metro area.  I moved to Cork in late 2014.

Now I’m sure there are plenty of nay sayers who are thinking how can an American write a blog called This Irish Family.  You’re welcome to think what you want, but if you want to know my story here goes….

Growing up in America everyone is some sort of ‘American.’  It’s the melting pot of our history of  a nation built on immigrants.  (Ironic isn’t it given today’s American political climate?)

Anyway, I grew up one of the lucky ones who is Irish American AND Italian American.  If you’ve ever been to Syracuse, NY you know the city’s history if steeped in Irish and Italian American culture.

In case you’re really curious I am  pretty much 50/50 with a little Welch and maybe some Scottish mixed in.   Just your average Irish-Italian American – not uncommon in Upstate NY.

Mom & Dad bringing their Irish and Italian heritages together for us.

As a kid I wasn’t too sure where the Irish ended and the Italian began. For the most part though being Irish-Italian meant never eating store bought tomato sauce and attending family dinners every Sunday.

Unfortunately for me all my grandparents had passed away before I outgrew my indignant/not-giving-a-shit teenage years and grew into my twenties where part of ‘finding myself’ raised a curiosity into discovering my roots.

Of course this interest in my roots became more about my obsession with moving to Ireland and less about doing any real research into my actual family tree.  I knew the most basic facts – my mother’s Irish family came through Ellis Island and stayed in Manhattan and Dad’s came through Canada somehow landing in Upstate NY.

So fast forward to Halloween 2004 which after a LENGTHY immigration process involving work Visas etc I landed in Cork and began to realise how much Irish culture had been passed down to me in America

  • Grandma and Mom always put butter AND jam on toast…much to the dismay of a lot of my friends.
  • I remember being given 7-Up at any sign of a stomach ache.
  • Guests (particularly my friends) couldn’t leave the house without Mom feeding them.
  • We prayed to St. Anthony…..
  • …..and lit candles in church

And over the past 13 years more and more things from my past made since to me after moving to Cork.

Little did I know in 2004 coming to Cork was actually coming home.

Read more:

My Story Pt. 2

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Why I let my 6 year old Wear Makeup

Each time we disregard our children’s thoughts or opinions it teaches them that what they think and how they feel isn’t valid.

We were getting ready for a family event recently when ThisIrishGirl  (age 6) came into our room and said “Can I wear makeup today?”  I think ThisIrishDad might have paled a little (I certainly might have)…..lets face it 20 years later I still haven’t mastered eye-liner, but here she was wanting makeup, my little girl.

I turned to her and said “why don’t you go pick some out and bring it to me

I know what you are thinking….

Your 6 year old has makeup?  (Mostly castoffs from ThisIrishSister) 

You’re going to let her wear it outside the house?  

Yup. I am. 

We struggle every day to raise the kids in a way that teaches them to learn to make their own right choices and to show kindness to others always.

In today’s world- where we so often see signs of females voices & opinions being quieted we want ThisIrishGirl to grow up knowing her voice WILL be heard- her choice and opinion IS of value- her interests ARE important.

So here she was standing in our bedroom showing us her interest.

She’s like most kids –  if we had said no to her she may have balked for a minute and gotten over it.   But if we say no how many times will she come to us to share here interests and opinions before learning they might not matter?

Each time we disregard our children’s thoughts or opinions it teaches them that what they think and how they feel isn’t valid.  

What if ThisIrishGirl walked out of our room on that day having felt like that?   Next time would she come to us with her really important interests?  All over some silly lipgloss?  Would I even risk that?  Hell no.

She’s going to grow up knowing it’s ok to have a mind of her own and to be HEARD.

She’s going to grow up knowing that whatever she’s interested in- as long as it isn’t illegal, or harmful is totally 100% O.K.

That means all of it…even the interests and idea that don’t sit perfectly with us…will be 100% O.K.

And then I got to wondering why it didn’t sit perfectly with me….the makeup….

Is it because somewhere in society beauty & makeup are considered to objectify women or are inferior interests then say sport or science?

Do I think that?

Absolutely NOT.

I am lucky enough to know so many independent, strong, successful women who happen to like beauty & makeup.  Many of these women not only are strong individuals but they  do such amazing things for other women and in support of other women.  Isn’t that exactly how I want ThisIrishGirl to grow up to be?

Yes!!!!

I don’t care if she’s a dancer, a doctor, a teacher, or beautician (because she wants to be them all).  Whatever she becomes I want her to do it with friendship, leadership & character and safe in the knowledge that her voice WILL be heard.

ThisIrishGirl came bouncing back into our bedroom with a few shades of eye shadow and lipgloss, and since she is 6 and I still am her parent we set some boundaries (same as we do with what TV she can watch, books she can read etc) and went with a pale pink eye shadow and translucent lip gloss.

Each time we disregard our children’s thoughts or opinions it teaches them that what they think and how they feel isn’t valid.

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Host a Pyjama Birthday Party for Kids

Hosting a pyjama birthday party

Last weekend ThisIrishGirl turned 6.  SIX.  Six is a big age.  She seemed to grow up over the summer and seeing that gives me all those emotional mommy feelings of pride and sadness at the same time.  Anyway,  6 is a big age and she had ideas for a big celebration!

Several months ago she decided on a pyjama birthday party at home and once her mind was made up there was no changing it. Pyjama birthday party it was.  Thanks to the power of Pinterest,  and one of my besties from back home party ideas were flowing.

Ok – this was a pyjama party so everyone would come in their pyjamas!  (Which meant I of course had to add  new PJs for the kids to the party supply shopping list).

Every party starts with an invitation and I found these editable free invites from greetingsisland.com they have plenty of invites that you can down load and print for free.

pyjama birthday party invite

Invite template from greetingsisland.com

Party activities were easy to come up with – there are tons you can do around a pajama theme.  ThisIrishGirl isn’t a movie lover (how is she my daughter I don’t know)  so popcorn and movies were out – but lets be honest this crowd probably wasn’t going to sit still anyway.  There were still plenty of activities  to chose from though!  ThisIrishGirl had the ultimate say in how her pyjama birthday party would go

1)  ThisIrishGirls Nail Bar/Tattoo Parlour

We recruited some older kids  (and the unfortunate moms who stuck around for the party were put to work) doing manicures and tattoos.  This is was such a hit we had to limit the number of colours on nails to 2 +1 glitter and the number of tattoos to 3!

2)  DISCO

Always the dancer ThisIrishGirl insisted on the sitting room being converted into a DISCO so we hooked up the disco lights and streamed KidzBop.   I need to give a shout out to KidzBop.  If you don’t know the KidzBop albums they make all the popular radio songs a bit more kid friendly and are song by kids. My kids could listen to KidzBop morning, noon and night.

3) DIY Pillowcases

In lieu of party bags each kid was able to decorate their own pillow case to take home with them.  We provided pillow cases, fabric markers/paints and stencils- the kids provided their own creativity and imagination.    Tip:  This is such an easy craft idea for a party!!  Fabric markers were easy to use and clean up!  Don’t forget to place pieces of cardboard inside the pillowcase to keep the paint/markers from bleeding through to the other side.

DIY pillow case

ThisIrishGirls’s very own pillowcase

4)  Food

Of course parties are also about food.  We ordered a pizza tray, chips and sausages from SuperValu and it really was excellent value. They delivered it during the party so the kids were able to eat it hot and ThisIrishDad and I were free to be playing/supervising and not stuck in the kitchen cooking!  We also ordered the birthday cake from SuperValu- I know there are moms out there that make amazing cakes- I just won’t ever be one of them!!

5)  General Mayhem

While structured play is good at any party kids love just running amok and making their own fun!!!! They were a great group of kids who made their own fun together.

We had a HUGE guest list and are lucky to have had enough space  (& helpers) to accommodate everyone.  We opted for a Cárta party  which asks that while no gifts are necessary €5 in a card is sufficient if parents/children are so inclined. A Cárta Party takes the pressure off of everyone.  Busy, cash strapped parents don’t need to make a shopping trip and equally we didn’t feel inundated with presents at the end of the party.   ThisIrishGirl had plenty of presents to open from close friends and family and she’s thrilled with the promise of a shopping trip to spend her cash next weekend.  A Cárta party might not be for everyone but it worked great for us this year!

family pyjamas

Relaxing with our feet up after a successful party

So with a very successful pyjama birthday party behind us we’re already looking forward to an Autumn filled with apples, pumpkins, Halloween & Thanksgiving in this house.

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Book of the Week: Peepo!

Book of the Week reading together

Reading together is big in this house. I don’t need to tell you all the reasons why reading is important because you already know that.  In our Book of The Week Series we share the books we are reading and our family favourites in case you need some reading inspiration in your house. 

 

***This post contains affiliate links for Bookdepository.com.  That means if you purchase any book through link provided I get a small percentage.  It doesn’t mean they have asked me to recommend any specific books, the books I mention are all ones we know and love in our house.  It doesn’t matter where you get your books just get them!!!  BUT….Bookdepository.com does offer FREE shipping to just about everywhere..who doesn’t love FREE?!?

Remember when I told you books are our go-to baby gift?  I kinda stole the idea from a colleague at work after she gifted us a copy of her own children’s favourite storybook when This Irish Girl was born.

That book was Peepo! By Allan & Janet Ahlberg – and it instantly became a true family favourite.

Originally published in the late ’70s the book cover boldly states it is ‘the BEST book every published for babies.’  It actually just might be.

I had never heard of Peepo!  before receiving it as a gift-  and I have since shipped it to just about every new baby I can think of in the U.S.   Time and time again friends have told me how much joy the book has brought to their family.

This Irish Family- Book of the Week - Peepo!

Set in the 1940s, Peepo! takes the perspective of a  baby going about his day and taking notice of things around him.  The rhyme and repetition carries throughout the book making it an easy and fun read for both parents and children.   Each page has a ‘peep-hole’ cut into it showing small piece of what’s on the next page.

The Dad in the story gradually gets into a military uniform throughout the day and an adult reader will infer he’s headed off to the War.  The book ends with the baby being put to bed ‘fast asleep and dreaming.’ Throughout the book there is a warm since of family togetherness that I love.

Peepo!  is a beautiful picture book.  Each page is filled with detailed pictures of life in wartime England.  These illiustruations  combined with some old school vernacular (I.e. pushchair) make for some great discussions as young children grow.  Every second page also has a ‘peep-hole’ cut out of it where the baby peeks through and readers can see what’s coming on the next page.  This is a big hit with younger readers along with the rhymes and tone of the book.

Overall,  Peepo! is a quick read at bedtime that allows for children to grow as readers.  Young children will benefit from the rhyme & repetition,  the pictures lend to discussion with growing children about the world around them and how things have changed since wartime England, and early readers will learn to recognise the repetitive words on each page!

Peepo! is a classic story that belongs on bookshelf in every house!

What books do you think should be included in our BOTW series?  Leave a comment below and let me know! We’re always looking for new books to read in this house!

**  Since January 2016 joining all city and public libraries in Cork are FREE!  You really have no excuse not to check out some new books!

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The Wet Brush Pro

we love this brush

Well it’s pretty clear by now I am not a beauty blogger.  But I did love just about all the beauty products I received at the recent Clogger Bloggers Event in the Clarion last week!  I wasn’t the only one who loved all the treats, This Irish Girl loves makeup and jewellery already so naturally she had to have a nose through the goody bag too.

But really when I brought home a bag that suspiciously looked like a party bag and it was bursting with goodies both kids were all over it!

While This Irish Girl doesn’t need BB cream or face masks just yet she actually squeeled when she spotted the leopard print Wet Brush Pro!

Unfortunately for This Irish Girl genetics gave her my poker straight fine hair, and as a result it is CONSTANTLY needing brushing and ‘re-doing.’  Which we both dislike.

Since she was actually showing an interest in a hair brush I had already conceded it was hers.  I figured the leopard print was the attraction and this  surely this was just another hair brush.  I was so wrong.

 

The Wet Pro Brush

 

I have no idea how it works but the Wet Brush Pro just glides through her hair!!  Wet, dry, tangled…trailed through yogurt you name it and the Wet Brush Pro just glides right through!!  No lie.  It just takes all the tangles away! We’ve been using the brush for over a week now and not once has their been any tears or screams of ‘ouch.’  Neither of us dreads doing her hair before school in the morning.

In fact she loves it so much she has decided she wants to do her own hair now.!! Not only brushing her hair but we’re now trying to self style ponytails.  (it’s a work in progress)

She absolutely loves  her new Leopard Print Wet Brush and so do I.  Since I have an irrational (although I would totally say rational) fear of head lice I don’t share any head products with ANYONE, even my own kids.  So, I only got the chance to try the Wet Brush Pro once but it was enough to make me want to head out to Boots and get one as soon as I get a chance.

 

Disclosure:  This is not an ad although I did receive the Wet Brush Pro for free in my awesome Cloggers Bloggers event goody bag I am just a mom sharing what I think is a pretty cool brush with all the other mom’s out there who might have little girls who hate getting their hair brushed.  

 

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What I Wish I knew at the Start of Junior Infants….

The August bank holiday  weekend is approaching and summer seems to be flying by.

Not long to go until we are back to school and I have yet to buy books or uniforms…

This time last year we were preparing for Junior Infants and of course I had everything bought in June.  We managed to survive Junior Infants and obviously I’ve mellowed a bit this year already.

Being a parent to a Junior Infant the first time around is a lot like being a Junior Infant.  It is a little bit scary, there is a lot to learn and you surprise yourself a little with every new friend you make.

Now that I’m clearly a pro at this school thing I thought I’d share a few things I wish someone had told me this time last year:

1)  Keep cash in the house

Not just any cash, small notes and coins.  I never seem to have cash on me.  (I know, I know this is horrible for budgeting and saving but whatever-I never have cash).  After being caught more than once with an unexpected cake sale at school, or a last minute non-uniform day to fundraise for a worthy cause we learned that to keep cash….particurly €1 and €2 coins around.

2)  What you’ll need beyond the Junior Infant book list & uniform.

No doubt if you’re reading this you’re starting to get ready. You might actually already have the uniform and books already!  Don’t forget these other essentials:

  • Something Green:  There is bound to be some day where you’re child will be expected to dress in green.  Plan ahead…it might not be St. Patrick’s day so be ready.
  • County Colours:  Everyone is hoping their county will be in the All-Ireland Final,  and if they get remotely close you can be sure school children will be sporting the county colours instead of their uniform some day in September.
  • A Sports Jersey:  Now if you have a jersey in your county colours that covers your for both!  But be ready for some sports day/week which will end in a Jersey day!!   (This might be linked with a fund raiser so have your euros ready!)
  • Fancy Dress:  From here on out you’re going to want to hang on to anything that can be anyway used as a fancy dress accessory.  There will be World Book Day, Crazy Hair Day, Halloween, Imagination Day, Movie Star Day- you name it.
  • Extra Water Bottle & Lunch Box:  You’ve probably already gotten all extra uniform bits but don’t forget to have a back up water bottle.  It’s bound to be 8:00 at night before you realise a drinks bottle is lost.

3) Name Tags

You’re going to want to label everything.  We used www.nametags.ie which came with enough labels to last for a few years & they haven’t come off at all.  Have your Junior Infant help make the label & pick an icon and colours they are likely to identify quickly.  Not only will the name tags help from things getting lost but they’ll also minimise class room arguments over jumpers and books.

4) Skip the school jacket (if it’s optional)

Most schools have the winter jacket as an option.  If you can hold off until they are older….having their own jacket they can easily identify will make sure they wear them.  It can be a mad rush to get jackets on and out to the yard- don’t expect teachers to make sure each kid is dressed for outside…this is ‘big school’ now. If you do love the school jackets (they can be so cute!!!) or have to buy it for your school,  consider getting the child’s name embroidered on either the front of back.  If you are likely to have other kids wearing the jacket in future (if it lasts that long) embroider the surname only.

5)   There will be plenty of communication…

just none of it will be from your child.

With email and text it is easy for the school to communicate with parents regularly.  Sometimes too regularly- but the multiple emails from the school about things perhaps irrelevant to your child will be welcome information because you’re likely to get very little from your kid!

I often find cuddling at bedtime is when I get the most information about the day, but if you REALLY want some information drive another kid in your car.  Whether its home for a play date or carpooling, without fail if there is an extra kid in the car the stories all get told!

Most of all, like the rest of their childhood the year is going to go by so fast so stop enjoy it.  Every sticker they bring home,  every time they have learned something new, every new friend they make. Savour it all.

And when there are bad days just remember….summer will be back soon!

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Safety for Kids

how to keep your kids safe

Do your kids know what to do in an emergency situation?  Do they know things to keep them safe?  Are you discussing safety regularly at home as a family?

We’re not- at least her weren’t.

Then one day it happened, the smoke detector went off in the kitchen.  I had been cooking dinner at the time & the oven was apparently long overdue for a cleaning so there was a little bit of smoke- no emergency.

But the kids didn’t even flinch….they weren’t bothered by it at all.  But what if there was actually an emergency?   This event of the smoke detector going of and us hopping onto a chair to silence it had happened before….clearly a few too many times.   We had inadvertently taught the kids it was ok when the smoke detector went off.

It is most certainly not ok.  

I spent the rest of that night drilling into them over and over that if the smoke detector ever goes off in the house and mommy or daddy doesn’t get up on the chair to stop it they need to run out of the house immediately.  I said it over and over until I tucked them in and kissed them goodnight…I contemplated a family fire drill.

Then I spent a sleepless night mulling over what else I possibly could have screwed up and not taught them about their own safety?

  • Did they know my telephone number?
  • What about our address?

Could they actually call emergency services if they needed to??? (I mean I know they can break into our iPhones and access YouTube but could they actually get help?)

What else had we missed?

After a sleepless night I was determined to have some sort of family action plan in place with and by morning I had identified the top 5 things the kids needed to know TODAY.

While safety and emergency planning are important to start teaching at any age, I was also conscious to not put my own anxieties on the kids and wanted to make learning the ‘tough stuff’ as calm and fun as possible. My son is just about 3 so most of my teachings have been directed toward my 5 1/2 year old daughter, but  he’s picked up more than you would believe.

This is the list of the 5 things we started teaching the kids right then and there.  This list made sense to our family but yours may be different.

1.  How to actually make a phone call on your mobile.

OK I hate to admit it but maybe once or twice (ok maybe a bit more ) I have handed the kids my phone to appease them, but only to get around SuperValu the day before Christmas Eve & once at a doctors apportionment but never more than that (right? Of course!)

Kids these days are pretty tech savvy.  Ours can navigate my music library, photo archive and even access YouTube on my phone but could they ever make a call with it?

Nope.

Phones are anything but phones these days but there are some pretty accessible features which make them so easy even a 3 year old can use.  After making sure our key people to call were in the favourites and with clearly identifying pictures, it didn’t take long to show the kids three simple steps to call daddy on my iPhone:

Touch the Phone

Touch the Star

Touch Daddy’s Picture

This one was easy to practice  and comes in handy when I need to call daddy while I’m driving if the phone isn’t plugged into blue tooth….both kids can do it for me from their car seats.

Dialling emergency services is a bit trickier.  You can’t really practice this one too much. But we’ve talked the 5 year old through the steps.  We’ve also made the decision to keep the landline in the house primarily for this reason & placed it somewhere where she can reach it.  In a real emergency could you find your mobile or landline quicker in your house?  I never seem to know where I laid my mobile so I doubt my kids would find it if they needed.

2.  Their Home Address

Teaching a child to call for help is only truly effective if they can tell help where to come.  It’s important for children to know the answer to the questions ‘where are you?’ and ‘what is your address?’

To teach this we used backwards chaining- starting with the last piece of info first and adding pieces backwards until we get to the beginning,

  • County Cork
  • Our Village, County Cork
  • Our Estate, Our Village, County Cork
  • Our House #, Our Estate, Our Village, County Cork
  • We a practiced it in the car any time we drove up the our house… let’s face it families always seem to be going and therefore coming home, this one gets a lot of practice & we’ve even added a few simple directions on how to find our house.

3.  Mom/Dad’s Phone Number

Before knowing your number its important all children know your own first and last name!  Remember the first time your finally got it that you are not only just ‘Mommy” or “Daddy” but you are actually someone with a name!  Don’t over look this small detail.

The kids know our names so we started about teaching them at least one of our numbers.  Initially we made some feudal attempts at singing or chanting my phone number but that was painful and ineffective in this house.  I eventually went to the all powerful, all knowing Pinterest & found how to teach kids to memories their phone number from creaksidelearning.com.

 

how to teach kids to memorise their phone number
Together we traced 3 hands on a piece of paper and I broke the number down into 3 chunks.  The paper was taped to the front door and every time we went out or came in, we each gave the paper three high -5s and chanted the phone number.  Within days she had it memorised and younger brother wasn’t long behind her (albeit I am not sure he actually knows what it is if he was  asked, maybe).

 

 

4. A Meeting Point

I had already drilled into their heads to get out of the house in the event of a fire but what would the kids do once outside?  We needed a meeting point.  After agreeing on a safe spot in the garden we identified this as our meeting spot. (We live pretty rural so a safe neighbour wasn’t an option for us but would certainly be something to consider). We instructed the kids that in the event of the fire they are to go to this spot and wait there.  To under no circumstances go back to the house.

We had an impromptu family photo shoot in this very spot.  We giggled and snapped lots of selfies.  We text them to our family & did all sorts of things to burn this spot, this tree into the kids minds.  And of course my kids know the way around the photo album on both our phones-  they’ve kept this spot live in their minds by seeing it often.

5.  Family Codeword

A family codeword is an agreed to secret word that when used, a young child knows the person can be trusted.   Something memorable but common.

Here’s the stuff nightmares are made of:

You’re at the park and for a minute you can’t see your child.  A stranger walks up to them and says “Honey mommy is hurt you need to come with me.”  What does your child do?

We hadn’t really talked about this before.  Sometimes I like living in a bubble where the world is awesome and no one hurts kids. But let’s face it that is not reality- even in Ireland.  It’s  better to plan and teach your children this:

Stranger:  “Honey mommy is hurt you need to come with me?”

Your Child:  staying back,  “what’s the codeword?”

Stranger:  “what are you talking about, you need to come with me quick”

Your Child:  runs away screaming for help

The simplest rule:  A child should NEVER go with a stranger who doesn’t know your codeword unless they are a police officer.

Family codewords have some other really great uses and different uses for older children/teens, but one nightmare scenario is enough for me today  so if you want to read more check out

http://momwithaprep.com/do-you-have-a-family-password/

Do you teach your kids what they need to be safe in an emergency?  Share with us your families most important things to know!

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Passage West Playground

A few weeks ago we planned an impromptu adventure day that led us to some hidden gems around Cork!  One such little gem is the newly renovated playground at Passage West.  Located in Father O’Flynn Park, Passage West the playground is well worth a visit.

Reopened in late 2015 the playground has a large climbing structure that caters to the more adventuresome kids as well as two pirate ship structures that will have the imaginative children shouting “Ahoy!”  

passage west playground

I know one little boy who thinks pirates are pretty amazing and can’t wait to be one when he grows up!  Finding this playground was a dream come true for him.

The playground has a smaller climbing structure and swing rocker for younger children as well as 4 swings.  One of which is an Expression Swing which allows parents to swing with their baby sitting face-to-face.  While the baby days may be over in this house I still had to try out the Expression Swing with my youngest.  I wish I had found some of these when the kids were smaller-  pushing kids on swings can get boring fast but not when you have a chance to swing with them.  

passage west playground

The nearby old railway line is a popular walk that is well surfaced and suitable for buggies as well people of all ages. It looks as though there is still some renovating going on in the remaining part of the park and we can’t wait to see the finished product.

Not far from the village is the Cross River Ferry linking Passage West/Monkstown with Cobh. We made the quick crossing on the ferry making the day complete for my little pirate!!!