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Me and My Middle-Aged Chocolate Spread

If 20s are the new teens and 30s are the new 20s, 40s the new 30s and so on.. when does middle age officially begin now?

I recently turned 42 and let me tell you.. all hell is breaking loose. If I compare photos from last year to this, there are outrageous differences – I have aged, people, really aged – in my face, on my body and perhaps, most regrettably, in my teeny, tiny mind.

Mentally flipping from ‘Hanging onto my youth, getting away with certain clothing and perhaps a trip to Ibiza passing for someone in my 30s’ has morphed into ‘I can’t believe my hot water bottle burst how am I going to survive, will I establish a neighbourhood watch group, oh my god I’ve turned into my parents’ – in the space of a few short months.

Ass Monkey and I decided to embark on ‘One Year No Beer’ in January, which also coincided with No smoking, No meat, No dairy, His entry into full veganism, and My vague, ill-informed registration for the Dublin Marathon 2019.

So off we set in January, doe-eyed and optimistic about how our lives were to be positively transformed from all these epic efforts – we sprang from our beds at 6am and went running, gymming, I took up dancing again and signed up for yoga, reformer pilates – anything to compensate for the huge energy void I was sure not drinking would leave behind.

I claimed I would be full of excess energy, now that those nasty hangovers would no longer be present, sucking the goodness of the day away with headaches and narkiness.

I claimed I would get my old dancer body back – toned, trim, nice bum and toned abs. Hell, I might even find my Madonna arms again with all that planking and dancing and Reformer-ing.

As the weeks wore on, I studied myself in the mirror religiously, waiting for the pay off. But the results were the opposite – the exact opposite of what I had anticipated.

How was I putting all this effort in and now beginning to look… well… like shite? My body seemed to be expanding rather than toning up, my eyes more wrinkled and tired looking than ever and – dare I say it – my arse looks like it’s starting to droop. THE HORROR.

In truth, a part of the problem is.. CHOCOLATE. Having previously held a ‘take it or leave it’ approach to the eating of chocolate, I find I am now obsessed with it. Thanks to my ‘new healthy lifestyle’, my sweet tooth has literally exploded and won’t be satisfied until it eats every bit of chocolate in the house.

I am a woman possessed – looking for it in the morning, dreaming about it at night, hiding my eating of it from the kids ‘coz I don’t want them to know where my stash is in case, horror of horrors, I might be asked to share it.

Is this my new alcohol? Am I now on the rocky road (mmmm…) to becoming ‘that’ lady who spends her days seeking out a nice slice of lemon drizzle cake, a tasty chop bun to accompany my pot of tea (that I will keep asking the waitstaff to refill but never paying twice).

The answer, from me and my expanding arse-line, is a resounding, ganache-filled YES.


Lovely, Just As Your Lips Are

I wanted to write something about all these lip fillers you see everywhere.

You know, on the 19/20/21 year olds about the place; the ones serving your coffee, taking the train to college, teaching your kids dance class. The ones whose lips look too big for their little faces & you know they don’t truly belong together.

I wanted to say how worried I was, that to enhance your already beautiful face at such a young age must have a detrimental affect as you get older?

I wanted to ask if you are vulnerable, if you don’t feel so great about yourself, that you feel as though forking out €200 to have some crap injected into your precious lips was really going to solve whatever is going on?

I wanted to be judgey, and blame Instagram and those fucking Kardashians, and say that everyone is starting to look alike, and that isn’t good.

I wanted to say, why the lips? Is it about pouting? Is it about blowjobs? Is it because you’re trying to attract guys? Why it that important?

I was going to write that I’m 42 and, despite really wanting a boob job in my 20s, didn’t go ahead with it and I’m glad now that I didn’t, because I don’t know that the decisions I would have made in my 20s are necessarily the ones I would be proud of now (think ex-boyfriends..shudder)

I was going to say I am happy now in my skin, and that I don’t need enhancements, and that you should be proud of who you are and happy in your skin too, and stop messing with your gorgeous face.

But the truth is we are none of us completely happy in our skin. There are so many things I would change if I could. There’s the sudden middle-age weight gain (next post!), the wonkiness of my ‘Hayden Nose’, and how my ponytail doesn’t seem as thick and long as it used to.

I MAY go looking at a l’il fix here and there but as a qualified ‘ole wan’, I think now is a good time to start looking into all of this. Not 19/20/21 when I was springy and line-free and had the metabolism of my now dreams.

And also, I woke this morning on holliers to find I have acquired a bit of a swollen lip overnight… and, truth be told, I might just love it…

Detective Pikachu The Movie: Definitely, Definitely Go Catch It.

Last year it was Minecraft. My then 6-year-old spoke only in Blocks and Villagers, Obsidian and EnderDragons. By the time I got around to Googling ‘WTF Is The Actual Point of Minecraft?!’ he had developed a whole new language altogether.

This one consisted of Energies and EX’s, Evolutions and Legendaries. Prone as I am to the dramatics, I was just about to lift the phone to enquire as to whether my now 7-year-old might be a candidate for Mensa with all this new extraordinary vocabulary.. I realised he’d gotten into Pokemon.

Jacob (far right) & some of his Super Buds

I am 42 years old. When Pokemon was created in 1996 I was a singing waitress at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC and thought I was Madonna. Makey-uppy characters with awesome names and even more awesome powers really wasn’t on my radar.

I worked at HerFamily three years ago when the Pokemon App came out. The ‘young people of the office’ were going crazy for it as I nodded and smiled in that way you do when you haven’t a fucking clue what’s going on. And to be fair, I was busy anyway writing about Top Tips for Parenting, an’ all.

Well, here’s a top tip: the crazy shit that your kids get into can actually be pretty cool if you get involved yourself. I LOVE Pokemon now, thanks to Jacob and his wiley gang of hardcore Pokemon card-trading mates. There have been playdates where my kid will come home, exhausted, sighing; “Finn/Sean/Cillian/Ethan/Jack made some seriously harsh trades today’ as if coming from a hard day at the office. They would seriously give Wall Street a run for their money.

Eva (R) got to bring her pal Holly along too. For the cute factor.

The general release of the highly anticipated Detective Pikachu movie was coinciding with our holiday abroad and I was gutted for Jacob, thinking we’d get home and all his pals would have seen the movie without him.

But then, Picka-CHU! we had a miracle – our pals at Warner Bros invited us to the Irish Premier! And not only that, they let us take along all of the Wall Street Traders with us. This Mammy is on brownie points FOREVER.

Held at the Odeon Cinema, the morning was super cool with face painting, games and even a full-size Pickachu for photo ops and cuddles.

The gang got the VIP treatment ;o)

The movie itself is really good fun – witty, clever and top notch CGI which all flows seamlessly with the action.

And Ryan Reynolds is in it. Need I say any more?

Detective Pokemon is on general release on May 10th – you really want to take the kids to see it, it’s brill.

Huge thanks to Nick and all at Warner for a great experience. From the mouths of Traders, ‘It was the best day ever’ xxx

40 Things To Do Before You Turn 40

It had to go and happen. I had to go and leave my thirties.

Fuck’s sake.

I haven’t had what you could call a birthday party since my 30th although I do like taking a moment on the day itself to pat myself on the back for any nice nice achievements or moments during the previous 12 months.

This year, turning 40, I thought I’d have a l’il bash..

So myself and Ass Monkey checked into The Marker Hotel (swit swoo!) for the night and I hung out in the spa for a while – which is AMAZING – until we headed to Farrier and Draper for dinner and drinks.

Hey 40. I think I’ve got this 🤘🏻

A post shared by Sharyn Hayden (@raisingireland) on

I had a frickin amazing night, have only felt the urge to wear granny pants and shawls on two separate occasions since and overall, I would say that turning 40 has been without incident so far.

In light of my new-found old age I have decided that I shall henceforth behave sage-like and impart wisdom on anyone who comes within 14 miles of me so since you’re already here…

40 Things To Do Before You Turn 40

  1. Fall in love. Don’t be afraid FFS, just do it.
  2. Develop an addiction to Cadbury’s Cream Eggs. You want one now, don’t you?
  3. Take the thing that scares you the most and do it anyway. Mine was stand-up comedy. Sometimes it was amazing and sometimes it was painfully shit. I did it anyway and I survived.
  4. Hang out with kids. I’m not saying you have to have kids of your own (coz it’s your choice innit?!) but just go hang out with some kids. They’re flippin’ great craic.
  5. Be that person. You know, the one who does nice things for other people, who tries to help, who cares. You owe it to the universe.
  6. Watch The Slipper and The Rose. You’re welcome.
  7. Go dancing. Go bare-foot, bare-faced, in-your-underpants dancing and do it for hours.
  8. Change something about yourself. Something you don’t like – the way your name is spelled, the colour of your hair, your address, your mood. Self-improvment is your life work, girl.
  9. Learn key phrases in the local language of any country you are going to visit. Don’t be so.. Oirish about the situation.
  10. Write a book. Ah sure jesus we all have one in us don’t we?
  11. Stop eating processed food. If you don’t know what that means, you’re already in trouble. Start with striking jars of bolonegese sauce off your shopping list – there is SO MUCH sugar in those things. Go fresh or go home!
  12. Rescue an animal. Give a little mite a better life would ya?
  13. Save up and buy something outrageous just for you. Those shoes, that bag, that watch.. do it.
  14. Use the good plates. All the time. Who are you waiting for to visit? (I was gonna say ‘The Queen?!’ here but, y’know, she doesn’t really apply to us. So, em, Madonna? Does that work?)
  15. Take time out for yourself as much as possible. I highly recommend baths, early morning walks, a trip to get your nails done, lunch or cinema trips alone and, most importantly – DAYTIME NAPS! Just leave those dishes there for 20 minutes and when the kids are at school, go lie down. That’s an order.
  16. Don’t be a slave to fashion – be an individual with your sense of style. This is from the 40 year old woman who just bought a shiny red bomber jacket.
  17. Don’t focus on who didn’t show up for you at that party/launch/get-together/hen – focus on who did. SOOOO much better for your head.
  18. Assert yourself. Ask for that salary that you know you deserve, say no if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, say how you feel, speak up, fight, know that you’re worth it every. single. day.
  19. Read. Everything you can get your hands on.
  20. Build your network and make sure you support it.
  21. Grow your own food – a strawberry bush, a bag of potatoes – I guarantee you’ll be so proud of yourself the day you eat them!

22. Double your efforts – if you feel like you’re not getting where you’re supposed to be – try harder.

23. Learn the words to two crowd pleasing songs – don’t be caught out singing Row Row Row Your Boat Gently Down The Stream at the family Xmas table when everyone is doing a party piece (although, to be fair to her, my Sis In Law REALLY pulled it off that time)

24. Smile. Infect the whole world with your smiles.

25. Get a tattoo. Go on, chicken shit ;o)

26. Say yes. Stop making excuses about why you can’t go to the party, drive across town, jump out of that airplane for charity, go away for a weekend with the girls. SAY YES.

27. Start your own business. It doesn’t have to last forever but if you do it, you appreciate everyone who ever gave you a job ever and makes you appreciate the value of hard work.

28. Work a Saturday night shift at a busy city centre restaurant. So that you’ll never, ever be rude to a waiter.

29. Stay at a swish hotel and pretend you’re a celebrity. I wore a sparkly dress and waved at tourists on an open-top bus from the windows of The Shelbourne once.. and they all waved back. Ha!

30. Switch off your phone – at dinner, at the checkout, after 11pm, on Sundays – you nominate it and you stick to it but give yourself a jaysus break from that screen.

31. Have a pyjama day. Lots of them. Who says that you have to shower every day and get out of the house anyway? A little off day here and there is good for ya. Just don’t make a habit of it!

32. Reign it in. As you get older you’ll find that while you might know a lot of people, and quite like all those people, that really, only a small number of them are your friends. This is FINE and you should be ecstatic that you are so lucky to have them. Nurture them, love them, be there for them and understand all the things that make each of them unique. Remember their birthdays, love their kids like they’re your own, stay in touch.

I have the best friends in the world you know 💕

A post shared by Sharyn Hayden (@raisingireland) on

 

33. Post hand-written cards for people. Why send a text or write a FB post when you can buy a postcard or a card, write a lovely message on it, stick a stamp on it and fling it in the post box? The joy that goes with getting a nice card in the post cannot be underestimated.

34. Travel – yes, everyone says this and actually, I haven’t been AMAZING on my travel experiences but get a map on the wall and start picking off a few spots. If I don’t get to Disneyland and Lapland in the next year or two, there’ll be trouble.

35. Read the papers – the GOOD ones, now. Stay on top of what’s going on in the world so you don’t come off like such a wally.

36. Get political – I’m not saying run for president (although why now?!) but even getting involved in your community council will help you feel like you have some say in what’s happening around you. You can’t complain that everything is shit and let someone else be in charge of the shit. You get in charge of the shit!

37. Find magic in everything – your surroundings, your stories, the people you meet, the hugs you get, the opportunities that come your way and allow yourself to feel lucky.

38. Stand up in front of a crowd and do something – stand-up, sing, make a speech, give a presentation, pole dance (!), teach, recite poetry – if you can get through it while being heckled (and you know you will), you’ll be bullet-proof in just about any situation!

39. Stop taking yourself so seriously. You have internet trolls for that.

40. Love. All day long. Yourself, the world, life, the people in it (but not Donald Trump) – and remember every day.. you’re rocking it.

Love Shaz xxx

Jacob, School And Sad Notes In His School Bag

Master Jacob is almost finished his first year of being a Big School attendee and so far, so like a duck to water.

I anticipated that he would be clingy at the beginning and kick off the way he used to at creche and preschool, begging me not to go and bawling his little heart out.

But on those first few days he just skipped in like he owned the place.

Says I to Ass Monkey; “False start. I give him a week and he’ll be super-glued to our ankles, demanding to be brought home from this godforsaken place called school. We’ll be morto in front of his teacher because no other kid will ever have loved their parents so much. MORTO, I tells ya”.

Ahem.

There have been no clingy moments from our Jacob. He pulls the ole “I don’t want to go to school” when we’re trying to get him dressed in the mornings but that’s more to do with his disinterest in being dragged away from his Lego than anything else.

The things is  – he really likes school. He likes his mates, he likes his teacher, he likes his after school activities and he even likes his homework.

“I have catch-up to do” he’ll sigh as he dumps the contents of his bag on the kitchen table. And then he’ll spend the next half an hour filling in the gaps of his latest epic piece of art.

On the second week of school we had a note sent home.

“I got a sad note” my little man said, extending the piece of paper my way.

The ‘Sad Note’ was a message from teacher to say there had been a lot of rough play in the yard that day and despite being asked to stop, Jacob and his friends didn’t and so.. home with a Sad Note.

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Like butter wouldn’t feckin’ melt

He and I had a word about doing what he’s asked in the school yard and respecting his teachers by listening to what they have to say.

We signed that one and sent it back in with an apology. Teacher explained that the class are very physical this year and she’s doing her best to put a lid on it before someone gets hurt.

Two weeks after that we got another sad note for the same offense. This time grandad was asked to have a word – I was bleedin mortified.

I don’t know what was said between Jacob and his hero Granddad but I believe there was some sort of arrangement around lollipops for good behaviour and that a cap of 5 Sad Notes in any given school career was issued.

Granddad said he only got 5 in his lifetime (the liar).

Yesterday, Jacob pulled a note out of his bag and with solemn face said, “Mammy, I got another sad note”.

I instantly got annoyed and was starting to raise my voice with; ‘Jacob! You absolutely cannot get another Sad Note home! What did mammy and grandad tell you about…”

And then he grinned.

“Just kidding” he says. “This one is about tennis”.

That school is making him WAY too smart.

Like this post? Then don’t miss;

10 Reasons I Am Totally OK With My Kids Growing Up

3 Signs That Netflix Loves Me More Than Ass Monkey Does

My belief that there is nothing on the telly has recently been confirmed.

As we are (yes, STILL) living with my parents while the house renovation work goes on (and on), we are subject to their own telly-watching habits.

Let me be clear: they have ALL the channels – every last one of them – and yet, every evening pre and post news hour, they flick through pages and pages of offerings from television stations and never land on a single one.

‘Nothing on!’ they’ll grumble, and I wholeheartedly agree. Except for maybe Graham Norton, Celebrity Juice and oh my GOD I loved Bridget and Eamonn on RTE 2 recently.

My folks go to bed nice and early and so we scramble for the remote to get Netflix on. Lovely, soothing, reliable Netflix. They won’t mess you around with ads or re-runs of Keeping Up With The Kardashians so that you’re completely confused as to whether Scott is on or off the scene…oh no.

Netflix has your back. Netflix just started showing AB FAB.

I might be a little bit in love with Netflix, you see, and I believe that it might be a little bit in love with me. I think that my Netflix relationship may be stronger than my other relationship – you know, with that Ass Monkey guy that I’m planning on marrying this year. Here’s why:

1. Netflix Doesn’t Judge

Ok, Ass Monkey doesn’t REALLY judge me either, but would he raise an eyebrow if I wanted to re-watch every single episode of Orange Is The New Black before Season 4 premiers on June 17th? Yes he would. Would Netlix? No, Netflix would let me do my thang.

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2. Netflix Doesn’t Interrupt

Ass Monkey has that habit of either speaking, or rustling some packet or other at high volume, right at the pivotal part of a movie or programme. Imagine, you’re on the last episode of Season 4 of House of Cards. You sat on the edge of your seat for every other one, marvelling at how Claire can look like that when she acts like THAT.. you have just reached the final thirty seconds and himself pops his head in with a ‘I’m just heading out for a pint ok?’ SHADDAP I’M WATCHING MY SHOWS!!

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3. Netflix Has Ab Fab

I feel like this decision was made by Netflix to satisfy me personally. I feel like Netflix knows how much I have ever loved Ab Fab and did it because Netflix loves me too and wants me to be happy. In contrast, Ass Monkey recently asked me if I’d like to watch a documentary with him about the potential existence of alien life form in our solar system. Yep. He doesn’t know me AT ALL.

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I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and I received a years free subscription and an Apple TV in return for reviews and updates on what we watch.

What Would YOU Do To Protect Your Kid?

I was in a shopping centre with the kids recently & Jacob wanted a go on one of those Peppa Pig carousels. I had a look and there were three six-year-old boys hanging out of it, reefing it around and generally trying to wreck it. So I persuaded Jacob to sit in the nearby cafe with me first, have something to eat and wait another few minutes until it was ‘less busy’.

Eventually they moved off and I sent Jacob over. Halfway there, he was intercepted by one of the six-year-olds who had returned. Jacob, in his three-year-old innocence thought he was making a new friend but I watched this other kid putting it up to him, asking him repeatedly ‘D’ya like Peppa Pig, do ya? Do ya?’

It might sound funny, but the other kid was towering over him and was being sinister. At six, this other kid already had that bullying ‘way’ about him and I knew it. I called Jacob back before his little moment was ruined, and the older kid followed him back over, continuing to goad him (the message was going to be, of course, that Jacob was either a baby or ‘gay’ for liking Peppa Pig).

So I told the other kid to fuck off.

You know, without saying the words ‘fuck off’.

He did, and returned to the other older kids and they all proceeded to point and stare at Jacob until I stood up and stared them down. Were they afraid of me? Were they fuck. They just got bored because Jacob had no idea what was happening.

I looked for their parents and there were a gang of women that the boys ran back and forth to, who were generally ignoring them. So that’s where they got their shit attitude and shit personalities from. I didn’t approach them, but had one of those boys touched a hair on Jacob’s head, you better believe that I would have.

It got me to thinking on the way home, ‘If I am so protective of Jacob now that I want to murder some six year olds, what will I be like when he goes to school?’

Hopefully, I’ll be like this dad whose video I found online. It’s very emotional and contains some very strong racist language, so you have been warned x

Won’t Someone Think Of The Photographer?!

If ever you and your siblings are stuck for present ideas for your parents’ upcoming birthdays/anniversaries/cheer-you-up-day…then look no further. THIS. IS. IT!

Three Brothers Recreate Old Photos For Their Mum

Was your favourite the fancy dress photo? ME TOO! And when MY kids grow up, remind them to do this for me, will ya?!

Children’s Personalised Irish Christmas Book

BookWithShadowWe were sent the most amazing gift from Ian and the team at DigitalScribe.ie recently – a book called ‘Jacob and Santa’s Irish Adventure’!

The book tells the story of how Santa gets lost on Christmas Eve while delivering presents to Irish children. Your little one is then taken on a fun adventure around famous and historical Irish landmarks to find him.

Mums and dads just need to fill in a very simple form in order to make this book a personalised one, and it truly is great quality and beautifully presented when it arrives. There is even a letter from Santa included!

The books are €15.99 plus P&P to order through The Digital Scribe Website and I can’t recommend it enough. What a great keepsake to have for our kids in years to come!

We captured the first few moments of showing Jacob ‘the book that Santa sent him in the post’. Can you FEEL the giddiness….?! x