Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone

Days out in Dublin and Wicklow – Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone

This weekend Austin cried more in two days than he has in his nine months of life, combined. His teeth hurt. My ears hurt.

In a desperate bid to distract him, Dave suggested a trip to the Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone. Then he sprawled on the couch with the computer and turned on the football, telling me to have fun with the baby. Nice.

But it turned out to be a lovely two hours and Daddy missed a big treat (blows raspberries triumphantly).

The Kids Zone is upstairs  from the bowling alley and the first thing I noticed was the indoor pool with boats for the kids to sail around and bump off each other. I’d never seen anything like that so I was blown away. There is a small surcharge of 2 euro which I think is totally worth it – though I may change my mind when Austin is old enough to have a go.

Indoor sailing pool for Kids
You might wanna pack a change of clothes for this one!

The place was huge and there was a separate area for babies under two, one for toddlers between two and four and a huge area for kids between five and twelve years old. Each section was gated with a high latch which meant that an adult had to open it. Many other places we have visited had older kids hopping over into the baby area and I’m always a little nervous that they might step on Austin as they run around so I found this section much more relaxing as I didn’t have to yank him out of the way as much.

Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
The obligatory and fascinating ball pit.

Huge Jigsaw pieces were strewn about and could be attached to the wall so the older babies loved it. There was a little crawl course too but Austin went directly for the toy horses.

Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
Hmmmm… looks like I could chew on those ears…

He also loved his own private ball pit where he could happily slobber on every single one of them. (Don’t worry, I wiped them all on my jeans which is a natural anti-bacterial agent.)

Ball Pit at Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
Nom, Nom, Nom

Best of all, Austin handed me a ball! He never handed me anything before and it really got me. I was so overcome by this spit-covered little gift that, even though I had the phone pointed at him, I forgot to take a picture. So I took a photo of the ball to send to Dave and then I noticed him in the backgound…

Austin stands up for the first time
He pulled himself up while I was texting!

He pulled himself up, all by himself! And I have it on camera! And I’m really not certain if this is a great thing or if I should be feeling bad that I was on my phone while he was doing it! Mom-Guilt is weird like that.

Once he found he could do it, it was all he wanted to do.

Downward Dog - baby yoga style.
Downward Dog – baby yoga style.

But eventually we went back to the toy horses and we had a great game of “try to catch me before I chew this guys ears”.

Just let me!
Just let me!

We were there for over an hour, which is much longer than I would usually spend in a padded environment, but when we left there was still more fun to be had downstairs.

The bowling area had a few small rides for kids and, as we didn’t have to pay an entry fee because adults and under 1’s are free, I decided two spend a few euro letting Austin bob up and down hysterically for a few minutes.

In a Helicopter...
In a Helicopter…
And on a fire engine...
And on a fire engine…

Austin had a whale of a time and did I mention it was free entry for adults? (Is it just me who gets annoyed at having to pay entry for kids entertainment?)

The highlight of my day was when I got home and found that Dave had hoovered and mopped the floors while we were out. I would put up with sore ears every weekend if it ended up like this one!

If you’re in the area I highly recommend Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone and you can find more information on their website here.

If you’d like to share any other fun things to do in Dublin and Wicklow I am always grateful for recommendations so please feel free to comment!

Jeepers Creepers! 

Austin has been crawling for a few weeks now. At first, this was amazing. I was so excited and proud of him. I set up little crawl-courses for him in the living room and tempted him further distances with toys.

But now he crawls constantly. 

All. The. Time. 

 

Get me to the nearest hazard!
 
When I put him down, he will immediately make a beeline, at lightening speed, toward the most dangerous, unhygienic thing in the room. Most especially, the edge of the bed.

On Friday, my second day at work after maternity, I was having a really tough afternoon. Someone did something really lovely for me and I got to see Austin an extra hour. But even that could not deter me from the depressing thought that I only had two days with him before I’d have to leave him again (sob!).  So I, very maturely, got rat-ass drunk on a bottle and a half of really good wine. Yum!

Saturday morning, Dave took Austin into bed with us and let him watch a film while we snoozed.

When I’m hungover I don’t move – not at all. I lie still and wallow. But in my semi-conscious state I felt the baby crawl across my legs toward the edge of the bed.

I shot up, spring-like, with a proper yell. I grabbed the little creeper and pulled him into me to save him from falling. Super-Mom.

Until I heard Dave laughing so hard the bed shook. Then I felt fur. It was the dog. 

Austin was sitting in daddy’s lap looking at me with his bunny hanging out of his mouth. Gizmo was half wiggling to get away and half pleased about getting any attention at all. Super-Eejit. 

 

What on earth are you doing?
 
The morale of the story is, you cannot drink with a crawler. They will either fall off the edge of the bed or you will make a complete ass of yourself. 

Anyone who wants to leave a similarly embarrassing story in the comments will receive the good karma of making me feel less stooopid! 

Glenroe Farm (maybe Austin’s a bit too young but I loved it!)

Biddy's cottage, apparently, for anyone who remembers the show.
Biddy’s cottage, apparently, for anyone who remembers the show.

Today was cloudy and a bit drizzly. Yesterday was the same and we spent the day snuggled indoors, only venturing out to walk the dog. I love those lazy days inside – sneaky movies, a bit of cooking (more on that this week) and lots of learning to crawl and pick things up with this elusive pincer grasp I keep reading about.

But we had enough of the house today and decided to head out to Glenroe farm for an hour or two of fun before nap-time. Because it was a bit chilly, I wrapped Austin up in his warmest hoody and double-socked him so he couldn’t kick them off (literally his favourite thing to do!).

 

No Factor on the baby so of course it blasted sunshine while we were there!
No Factor on the baby so of course it blasted sunshine while we were there!

Glenroe is a farm in County Wicklow that was the set of an Irish soap opera some years ago. I only have vague memories of the show but the farm itself is just gorgeous. There is a small shed for the littlest animals; bunnies and chickens and even a little field-mouse that didn’t make me want to scream and run away. (Believe me, when you find one eating the dog food in your kitchen, they are significantly less adorable).

Austin having a staring match with a chicken on our last visit.
Austin having a staring match with a chicken on our last visit.

There are two area’s for the larger animals and a huge pen for some beautiful deer that Austin absolutely loved…

Huh? Who's Bambi?
Huh? Who’s Bambi?

Once you have seen all the animals and tried to sneak them old fridge carrots on the sly (don’t tell on me!) there is a massive playground with a huge array of different slides and swings and monkey bars. Austin can only use one of the little bucket swings at the moment but I really can’t wait to see him running around the place with the other kids when he gets a little older.

After the playground we had lunch at one of the twelve or so picnic tables, which was perfect because it suddenly brightened up so we felt like we were on holidays for our spagbol and fromage frais. Then we went back around the pens again so Austin could have a chat with the donkeys and Mama could nearly pee herself laughing as they actually brayed at each other!

Give me Carrots! No! You give ME carrots!
Give me Carrots! No! You give ME carrots!

Just before nap time we got a yummy latte to-go in the Glenroe cafe, which was a lovely little shop that, crucially, only charged 2.50eu for a frothy coffee instead of the fiver I pay at Starbucks.

As this is only around the corner from where I live, I’ll be heading here often in the future. If you’re a little further away, it’s still well worth the trip for a lovely family day out, especially if you’re on a budget. Entry is 6eu for anyone over two and a family ticket will set you back 22eu. Here’s a link to their website if you’d like to take a look.

I’m still finding my feet in terms of lovely places to take Austin while he grows up so if you know of other good days out in Wicklow and South Dublin, I love to hear your comments.

PS. This is not a sponsored post – we just really liked it and thought we’d share!

Fun with Spaghetti

In keeping with yesterday’s post about distracting Austin from his frustration at not being able to crawl or walk around just yet, today we decided to play with coloured spaghetti for some fun.

Here he is, not knowing what to make of it, at all.

It's floppy and stringy and red - am I playing with worms??
It’s floppy and stringy and red – am I playing with WORMS?

All you do is over-cook a little spaghetti in water, with a drop of food colouring, if you like. Then drain and run it under the cold tap to cool it. I waited until it was dry (about five minutes) and I fluffed it two or three times in case it stuck together. Then, I plonked it into his lap – and on his head, and on my head and on the dog – whatever got a laugh.

You put the worms on my head?
You put the worms on my HEAD?
Wait, that's pretty funny!
Wait, that’s pretty funny!

It’s cheap as chips (you don’t even need the food colouring), it’s great for their fine motor skills and it’s good for at least ten or fifteen minutes of MT (“Mama-Time”) so we will definitely be doing this again!

If you have any similar games you’d like to share, please feel free to comment…

 

How to Ruin your Child’s Christening in 4 Easy Steps!

OK, so Austin’s Christening was not really ruined – in fact it was a really lovely day. It was full of cuddles and praise for Austin (I’m not sure who enjoyed that more, him or me) and lots of adult conversation and Champagne for Mommy. YAY!

Oil does not stick to a baby if you slather him in eczema cream - take note people!
Holy Oils will not stick to a baby if you slather him in eczema cream beforehand – take note, people!

But, boy, can I make a holy show of myself when I get nervous – there will come a day when Austin won’t allow me to accompany him to school events and, given this weekend, I might actually have to agree.

Here’s how to make a complete spectacle of yourself while Baptising your kid…

  1. Be late to church because you cannot stop peeing from nerves. It also helps if you do no preperation the night before, change your mind about the outfit baby will wear at least eight times and insist on cooking a breakfast you then don’t have time to eat.
  2. Get the pram stuck in the door of the Church – yes, you could have checked to see if it would fit earlier in the week but who has time for that?
    Preparation
    Preparation

    And yes, you might have stopped trying to ram the wheels through when everyone turned towards you and glowered dissapprovingly but what if someone ran off with it if you left it outside? Don’t forget to hide your beetroot face when one million old ladies on walkers cannot squeeze past  it up the aisle (where you left it because there was no room at the back). Just hide – the problem will fix itself.

  3. Concentrate so hard on trying to remember the prayers you have long since forgotten, that you fail to listen to the priests’ directions on at least three seperate occassions. In fact, why not forget the requisite shawl you were told to bring for the baby while you’re at it – everyone loves a good laugh, right?

    IMG_1351 (2)
    Austin is not happy with the borrowed Shawl and lets everyone in the Church know about it.
  4. Finally, drink way too much champagne at the reception and forget which relative you left him with for several frightening moments where you feel like these lovely parents… he’s seven months old for goodness sake, you have to cut the apron strings at some point!

For the highlights of our baby Bauer’s big day, and a pic of me in an outfit I can only class as “I refuse to buy an outfit at this size-chic”, see this post!

Austin’s Back to Normal!

Yesterday, I posted a photo of Austin with a flare-up of eczema. It was a bad bout and it looked nasty in the picture so some of my friends and family contacted me to see if he was ok now – how lovely is that?

I thought I would show everyone just how ok he is right now, with the video below. This is Austin playing with the most exciting balloon EVER!

Sorry about the quality – I took it on my phone and its a little blurry but I still think its hysterical!

Austin-Proof Snacking!

Nom, Nom, Nom…

Last week, I was having a cuppa with a friend. I gave my 7-month-old a smooshed up strawberry as he sat in his high-chair beside me and poured some coffee. Austin used this moment to stick half the strawberry down his throat. He promptly began to choke on it.

I had always wanted to try baby-led weaning but when it came down to actually doing it, I chickened out.

I spoon-fed because I was nervous of possible asphyxiation. I also worried that he wouldn’t get enough to eat if he had to feed himself. I guess I liked the idea of cooking baby food too; kinda fancied myself as the next Annabel Karmel. (That did not work out so well – I’m sure she didn’t have to chuck out a stew because she accidentally whizzed a blue-bottle into it.)

I grabbed the strawberry out of his mouth and the part he was choking on pulled out with it, so he lived to frighten the life out of me another day. But, I decided to try the ClevaFeed by Clevamama in order to avoid future heart-in-mouth moments and maybe teach him the principles of feeding himself, in a way this scardy-cat Mama could handle.

We’ve been using it for three days and we LOVE it. It’s so simple – you fill the soft, stretchy silicone teat (there are little holes in it) with strawberry or other smooshy foods and it snaps onto a handle that the baby can hold. Baby munches away and the food pops out in tiny manageable bits. Voila! – Austin can no longer commit Harakiri with his snack, and I can fill his little belly with healthy goodness.

Considering it costs less than a fiver in Dunnes, I reckon this is a deadly buy for other chicken-mama’s out there who like the idea of baby-led weaning but can’t bring themselves to go the whole hog. Of course Austin found an alternate use for it as a teether for his sixth tooth in seven months (oh the joy).

I’m going to chew on EVERYTHING!!!

Has anyone else found this useful or had some alarming baby dare-devil moments to share?

I’d love to hear other peoples experience of baby-led weaning so please comment below if you have the time!

Here Comes the Airplane!

Seriously? I’m *so* not eating this…

 

Austin is not loving my salmon and broccoli.

And I have a freezer bag full of the stuff. And every book I’ve read tells me that he needs the omega fats from the salmon and the nutrients in the broccoli. Cue the subtle worry that my not feeding him right will ruin his future health…

He’ll eat cheesy tomato pasta till the cows come home but green does not seem to be his thing.

So now I’m cooking cheesy pasta and sneaking spinach into it and I’m laughing because I did exactly the same thing with my husband when we first moved in together. Back then, I hardly ever ate meat (mostly because I hated touching it to cook it) and Dave never ate vegetables. Really, not ever. So I told him that roast parsnips were chips and bean shoots were noodles.

While I’m sure he noticed that they were vegetables, he chopped up the chicken for stir-fries (when I gagged at the sliminess) and ate them right up – it became our silent compromise.

Austin, however, is not so willing to concede and certainly not so silent about it. This is the face I get when I try to trick him with choo choo and animal sounds…

 

NOOOOOOO!!!!!!
NOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I’m going to patiently wait a week and then try again but if anyone has any other tips on getting babies to love their greens, please feel free to comment below!

 

PS – Yes, that is two slats of wood in the background of the photo. My husband was making us a side gate… for six months. But the picture is a week old and they have now, mercifully, been removed. So now its only the wallpaper that’s driving me nuts…

 

5 Ways to Survive being Stranded with a Baby

For two weeks I’ve been car-less with a 7 month old. Without much public transport in the area we are quite restricted in where we go, so we’re spending our days in the garden or walking around our tiny village trying to find something interesting to do. We don’t have a park or a playground so ‘interesting’ consists of trying to entice the horses in a nearby field with old carrots from the bottom of the fridge. So far, they are unimpressed.

Here is how I’m trying to survive being stranded with a small baby:

  1. Rotate toys – I hide half of them at the start of the week and then swap them out after a few days. I try to give one toy at a time so there’s a steady stream of new playthings during the day.
  2. Make everything a game – playing with the clothes on the line, dancing while tidying, getting the dog to do tricks produces hysterics with minimal input. Some days, I sing until my voice is hoarse.
  3. TV – I hate putting the TV on for him but after his last nap of the day I can’t put him down unless Peppa Pig is on. I try not to feel guilty about it if I need to make dinner or pee.
  4. Friends and Family – In Week Two I stooped to begging for visits. I live a while away from my friends but they obliged (when I threatened to cry) and it was wonderful to have another adult in the house.
  5. Walk – I have got to get out of the house at least twice a day. If I don’t, I start to spot bubbles in the wallpaper and stains on the skirting boards and want to re-decorate the entire house so it looks like it’s made of Pinterest.
  6. Medicate – Ha! Just kidding…

Anyone have any tips for surviving when singing Pop Goes the Weasel is getting stale?