Andrea Mara

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Autumn Glow

I’m very conscious that many of my posts are about parenting failures, domestic disasters, motherhood challenges, and mammy-guilt. I am in danger of appearing to be a terrible mother.

So for once, I’m going to write about something lovely, something that went really, really well – our mid-term break. Don’t worry – we had the usual mix of shouting, squabbling, crying, and even a trip to the emergency room. Plus a Halloween night glass of wine that was tipped over me by a hyper toddler, still up at 11pm (the culprit: one mini-Aero from his Trick or Treat haul, just one teeny-tiny mini-Aero, which as you know, is mostly air) 

Sam watching The Lost Boys at mini-Aero
Sam watching The Lost Boys at 11pm…one mini-Aero

But overall, it was great. I took the week off work, the kids were off school, so no school-runs, no rushing, no getting out in the morning, no getting dressed until we felt like it, no having to be anywhere at any time. Outside it was mostly sunny and crisply cold; inside it was cosy with the heating on, the oven on, and the orange glow of our pumpkin lights. Shoes lay on the mat unworn, paint and glue made space for hot chocolate and Barmbrack on the kitchen table. And lots of tea for me.

golden leaves
perfect Autumn weather

It was great. And I want to write it down. Mostly because this blog is weighted towards domestic disasters, but also as a diary entry for the future, so that my kids and I will know that we once had this near perfect mid-term-break.


We went to Wicklow Gaol for their Halloween family fun event which in fact, just involved the normal Gaol tour and some pictures of witches for the younger visitors to colour. The kids were not convinced. But the day was saved with a stop in the Killiney ghost house on the way home – the kids loved it and so did the grown-ups. And it’s proper-Halloweeny-spooky. And it’s for charity. What’s not to love.

She's going for my lolly mum
She’s going for my lolly mum

I never blog about food, but this week I cooked the kind of comfort food that I rarely have time for when I’m working, so on Monday we had Shepherd’s Pie from Domini Kemp’s recipe, and it was eaten by everyone (with only one mid-meal storming-off for reasons unrelated to the food)


We never left the house – I love not leaving the house. Of course, I love it much more when people come to me – there is adult conversation, cake and coffee, but none of the stress that comes with putting kids into cars. A friend with her three kids called that morning, another friend with her brood called that afternoon – friends whom we hadn’t seen in a long time, so lots of catching up for parents and kids alike, and plenty of cake. And nobody hit anyone, and the house wasn’t wrecked. So two perfect playdates.

I’d love to tell you something exciting about dinner, but we had more Shepherd’s Pie. On the other hand, lunch was a new departure – I made Roasted Tomato soup using this simple recipe from Dairy Free Kids. Every child ate it, loved it and pronounced it to be better than “shop soup”. For some reason it’s now known as “Tomato love soup” and I have been requested to make it every week (the children were unaware that this mid-term soup-making mum would be reverting to office-mum on Monday)


The laziest of lazy mornings, we just about got dressed for lunch.

Clara was visiting a school-friend for the afternoon, so I took Emmie and Sam to the shops (exciting stuff) and also for coffee (much more exciting). Sam found a drum kit in the toy shop and I thought about buying it for his upcoming second birthday. I have become a parent who thinks it’s a good idea to buy a two-year-old a drum-kit.

Please can I have a drum-kit mum!
Please can I have a drum-kit mum!

For dinner we had homemade lasagne. The kids were by this stage astonished at the food coming out of the oven every day and proclaiming each successive meal to be the “best dinner ever”. Before asking for buns. But I’m sure there was no link between the praise and the request for treats..

Thursday: Halloween!

Another cosy day at home; the sun streaming in through the bat and witch adorned windows, and some serious pumpkin scooping underway on the kitchen table. Our pumpkin was literally the least pretty one I’ve ever seen, but the kids thought it was AMAZING. Again, I was deemed to be the best mum ever. In fact, the girls told me later that they’d “had a chat” about what a great mum I am, and discussed what they’re going to buy me for mother’s day. I can’t put into words how cute it was to picture a four year old and a six year old having this earnest conversation out of earshot. And I can’t wait for Mother’s Day…

pumpkin scooping

For lunch, I made “witch’s soup” (leek and potato – really getting  into this soup thing) and for dinner, vampire pasta (a Rachel Allen chorizo pasta recipe which ends up a blood red colour).

Trick or Treating was of course, unspeakably brilliant from the kids’ perspective, ditto their dad who dressed up for the occasion (we still don’t know what he was supposed to be).

Nobody knows who he was...
Nobody knows who he was…


Painting, stories, more soup, out for coffee and cake in the afternoon and a trip to the bookshop for a midterm treat.

serious about her coffee
serious about her coffee

Dinner was a Domini Kemp Baked Chicken in Taleggio cheese recipe (a meal that was interrupted by a trip to A+E but all was fine and I won’t ruin this post by including the details)

As an adult I’ve never really enjoyed Halloween, but now I see the bigger picture. It’s an Autumn holiday – an orange tinged, golden-leaved, crisp yet cosy holiday. A regrouping after the bustle of September’s school return. A holiday without the self-induced pressure to be outdoors that Summer sometimes brings, nor the rush and hurry that can weave through Christmas. It’s a holiday to stay close to home, wrapped up with the little people who need and want and love us most. A holiday to do very little – especially if you’re not trying to win any pumpkin competitions.

pumpkin looking bette





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