Archive for May, 2008

Traffic Reports – Oh Happy Days!!!

May 29, 2008

Here’s the picture.

We were lying in bed this morning, listening to the traffic reports after the news.  Oh, what a good feeling!!!

There were all sorts of diversions being put in place on one of the approach roads to Dublin for various reasons, and we knew what kind of traffic hell that was going to cause for commuters this morning.

Did that affect us?  Oh no, except of course to make us feel fantastic! 

Four years ago we moved from Dublin to a rural area in the South East.  Traffic no longer plays the major role in our lives as it  used to do, and today I was reminded of that, and boy was that a Special Special Special Moment!!!!!

Wishing you countless Special Moments every day,




The Countdown to Summer Holidays is On!

May 26, 2008

Well, its not really in keeping with the whole Special Moments philosophy, which is to celebrate the ordinary every day, enjoying the now rather than wishing your life away, but the kids got in the holiday spirit today by making out a countdown to summer holidays poster.

It gave me a few Special Moments because I love when they work together on something that I feel is good for them.  They were using their initiative, designing something, and they were working together.  Okay – there were a few blips, a few tears, a few rows (sometimes their negotiation skills would be classed as – dare I say it – bullying!!!), but in the end, Ciaran and Niamh produced a poster that is pinned up in our hall, and they can mark down all the school days til the summer holidays.

Tomorrow we are going to start our annual tradition of making our list of things we want to do over the summer holidays.  The list will take a few weeks to evolve.  It will include things like a trip to Fota – a zoo in Cork, a trip to Tintern Abbey in Wexford (a magical place), a day at the beach.  You get the picture!  Every year we make a list like this and put it up on the wall, and over the 8 or 9 weeks the kids are off school, we do them all. 

Its a brilliant way to make sure we make the most of the summer holidays, and everybody gets to say what they want to do.

Today, however, it is lashing rain and the wind is absolutely howling.  My new plants are taking a battering.  I had a VERY sad moment today when I saw that my new Peony has been hammered by the wind.  I haven’t investigated full yet, but it may be fatal!!!  Oh well, maybe there’s a Special Moment in store for me tomorrow when I find out that I have been wrong, and it might actually flower this year after all.

Wishing you countless Special Moments every day.




Mountain Day 2008

May 25, 2008

Once a year, we have a family tradition where we all take a day off and head for the hills to play!

The origins of the Murphy Family Mountain Days is a great one.  When Tony was young a couple of times his dad was driving him to school, and he passed the school by, went to the shop, bought a pint of milk and a packet of biscuits and the two of them headed off for a day together.  These were some of the magical times Tony remembers with his dad, so we have our own family version now.

When we lived in Dublin, it was called a Mountain Day because we headed for the Dublin Mountains – now we live in Kilkenny, and we head for the beach, but the name Mountain Day has stuck.  It goes like this – Tony and I decide on a day and we clear our diaries so that we can take the day off.  We DON’T tell the kids.  Then when the day comes, we all get up as normal.  We will have a picnic packed and in the boot without the kids knowing about it.  They get their uniforms on and we will make some excuse or delay them so that they miss the school bus.  We usually make a great show of giving out that they were too slow getting ready or something, and we drive them to school – only we pass the school!!! 

At this point there is great yahoos from the back seat – rhey have realised that it is a mountain day and the singsong begins!!! 

Searching for goldThis year we went to Duncannon Beach in Wexford – a favourite haunt of hours.  We spent a couple of hours paddling, and climbing rocks and having a picnic.  It was heavenly.  Then we headed for Waterford to see the new Indiana Jones movie – it was great – a bit scary for Niamh in places, but she loved it.

It was a brilliant day, and I think that in years to come, we will all remember our Mountain Days.  I hope our kids continue the tradition with their families.  The fact that it happens on a work and school day is really important, because it feel;s great – like a bonus day – a gift.  The time is really special because we are all aware that we have captured this special time together.

Try it for your gang.  I highly recommend it.Yahoo





Free Plant Retail Therapy – Concentrated Special Moments!

May 20, 2008

Today was the day!!!  I have been thinking about and getting ready for this day since my birthday, 4 weeks ago.

For my 40th birthday, some of my friends got together and got me a voucher they knew I would love – a voucher for the local garden centre.  I have been digging two new large beds for a herbaceous border, and I have started planting them – moving plants from other parts of the garden to their new home.

Today was the day I got an hour to myself to head into the Garden Centre for some wonderful retail therapy.  I used to work there, so it was doubly nice to get a trolley and mosey around as a customer while the people working there were haring around answering queries and serving customers. 

I had a voucher for €100 and the total came to – wait for it – €100.15!!!  Didn’t I do well? 

What was in my shopping basket?

2 Peony roses – my new passion
2 Astilbes
1 Phlox
1 Dierama
3 hanging red geraniums for pots I have
A selection of Alpines for the front of the bed.
A drum of Poultry Manure – I find it a brilliant plant food

This was only half the stash.  Yesterday I went to the nursery that I used to work at and there I picked up:

3 Lavender
3 Nepeta Six Hills Giant
3 Alchemilla Mollis
1 Fuschia
3 Hostas
1 Artemesia
1 Agapanthus
1 Perovskia
1 Viola Columbine
1 Anemone
1 Rosemary
1 Convulvulus

The feeling of driving home with my car full of plants is fantastic.  My new plant babies are positioned on the bed, and are ready for planting.  Hopefully I can get to that this evening.  I hope I manage to leave enough room for all the annual cosmos, lavatera, larkspur cornflowers and hollyhock I have coming on nicely!

Gardening provides so many of my Special Moments.  For me, there is nothing quite like the thrill of planting and watching a bed develop, deadheading and minding and cutting flowers through the summer.

Watch out – you might just catch the bug! 

Wishing you countless Special Moments every day.




The Perfect Sunday!

May 20, 2008

I had the perfect Sunday this week.  Wait for it:

A lie on in the morning.  Then out to sing with the choir at the First Communion Mass, which was beautiful, and off to the parish hall to help with the teas – that was the sociable bit, and it was lovely to see everyone and catch up.

Then home where we cooked up a lovely big brunch.  After that I headed down to change into my gardening gear.  I was feeling a little discontent at this time.  You know the way – noticing all the things that weren’t done, and not even seeing all the things that were – have you been there?  I wanted to get lots done, but in truth I was exhausted and getting cranky.  When I started to change, the bed was beckoning.  Everyone was busy doing their own thing, so I climbed in – just for 5 minutes, you understand!  Now this is not something I normally do of an afternoon, but it might just become part of the routine!  It was fantastic.  I fell fast asleep for an hour or so, and woke up rejuvenated. 

Out into the garden I went.  While I was asleep – the others had been working!!!  Without me nagging them!!!  The henhouse had been moved into the newly built hen run.  Yahoo!!  At last!!  The hens had to be rounded up to be introduced to their new home – that meant a half hour running around the garden after them, which was brilliant fun.  Then off to move some of my plants to a new bed I am working on, and potting up some annuals that are ready for a bigger home.  Heaven!

Then, to top it all off, there was an Indiana Jones film on at 8, so the kids all showered and got ready for bed, and we all snuggled up to watch Harrison Ford for a couple of hours.  It was brilliant.  The kids are at the perfect age to follow it all.  It was hilarious actually!  Then the kids went off to bed, and we watched another film and drank too much wine – again!

Like I said – the perfect day for me!

Wishing you countless Special Moments every day.



Slow down, you move too fast…

May 12, 2008

Remember the Simon & Garfunkel song:

“Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobble stones,
Looking for fun and Feelin’ Groovy.”

Yesterday I noticed a pattern – I am a “Doer” – by that I mean that I am constantly “doing” something.  I measure the day by how much I can achieve. 

So keeping busy and doing things and moving things forward is all very well, but I think it only hides the simple fact that I find it impossible to sit and “shoot the breeze”. 

Yesterday, Sunday, was a beautiful sunny day here.  We have had about 10 days of fantastic weather and that is so unusual for Ireland!  Well, of course, I was in my usual mode of making the most of the sunshine.  Does that mean relaxing and soaking up the rays?  Not at all – it means digging the garden, moving plants around, weeding vegetable beds and… and …. and…  The kids were playing around, but every time they asked me to come and do something I told them I was busy.  Is this stuff of Special Moments?  Not really.  This is the stuff of being like a robot – constantly moving forward and not allowing anything to take you off course.

Anyway, we had a barbeque in the late afternoon and I had a beer.  I was sitting enjoying the last of my beer.  I wasn’t “doing” anything.  Niamh was swinging on the swings, and she called to me to look at her show me how she could make herself go higher all by herself.  She was just delighted with herself.  Now THERE was a Special Moment!!!  I realised with a start that I have been forgetting to stop, pause, and see what there is about any moment that makes it special.

So am I doing any better today?  A little bit – and thats all it takes.  I need to re-train myself to slow down, and to spend some time just doing nothing – maybe its one of the paths to happiness!!!

Wishing you countless Special Moments.

With love,


The Magical Midnight Hour

May 8, 2008

Last night I was out at a reflexology network meeting and wasn’t home til around 11.  Tony had asked me to bring home a bottle of wine for a wind-down drink and chat when I got home.  How could you refuse a request like that?

Last Autumn we had a deck built – thank you Richard Dempsey – you are the best (and most patient) carpenter in the world!!!  That deck is worth its weight in gold – we are enticed out there every time the sun shines. 

Last night was a beautiful night here, and we retired to the deck with candles and a bottle of wine, and we sat and chatted and chatted and chatted.  We didn’t give in and go to bed until 1am, and it was absolutely magical.  You know the way – you live together, you parent together, but you forget to tell each other lots of little things.  Well, we caught up on lots of things, and we got to see the magnificent night sky.

In Ireland, time sitting outside at night is precious because our climate doesn’t allow it a lot – but if you get the chance, grab it.  There’s nothing quite like it.

Wishing you countless Special Moments every day.




Rotovators are KING

May 8, 2008

Ok – I’m converted!!!

I have been trying since last September to get two big new flowerbeds beside my deck ready for planting.  What is it they say?  If I knew then what I know now…..

First I sprayed them – I hated spraying them because I try to garden without chemicals, but I was impatient and I thought this would be a faster way to achieve my goal.  Wrong!  I sprayed them and it took weeks for the grass to die off.  Then it got too wet to do anything with them and I spent the winter feeling guilty every time I passed them – they are right outside my door and I’m a busy mum – so that was a lot of guilt!!!

By the time Spring came, the moss and weeds were starting to take hold again!!!  So much for chemicals being the easy way.  I started to take the sod off – by hand – well, with a spade!  Now to the seasoned gardener, I know this will sound crazy.  It was crazy.  I filled wheel-barrow after wheel-barrow with the sods and hauled them across my none too small garden to the corner where I piled them, and back to more back-breaking sod lifting.  I spent weeks working every now and then at this.

Fast forward to my neighbour, who also loves his garden.  But he’s much cleverer than me!  He had a loan of a sod-lifter and a rotovator.  He lifted the sod on paths in his garden in what seemed like a heart-beat – I felt so silly!!!  Then he offered me a loan of the rotovator.  My plan was to double-dig the beds by hand.  I had started the day before and had finished a tiny corner in an afternoon – ok, well, I had 3 separate callers all of whom wanted to sit for a cuppa – you can see that progress would be slow. 

Last Sunday Graham brought the rotovator in for me and off I went.  Honestly, it took all of about 30 minutes.  I am in LOVE with rotovators.  I think rotovating those beds must come close to my most special Special Moment ever!!!  Well, that was until the rotovator broke down!

My mind is working overtime dreaming about all the new flowerbeds I can develop.  Next time, though, its a trailer I’ll be looking for to go to the hire shop and hire a sod-lifter and rotovator.  I may have pooh-poohed boys and their toys before – now I see the error of my ways.  The hard way is NOT always the best way.  I apologise for my silliness.

Wishing you countless Special Moments.



Stolen Herbs!!!

May 8, 2008

This morning I took a walk with a friend around the flower and herb gardens in a beautiful country estate and hotel called Mount Juliet.  If you are a golfer, you will have heard of it.  I was getting inspiration for two new large flowerbeds I am finally ready to plant up.

Well the flower gardens are just starting to wake up.  It is such an optimistic time.  I think it is my favourite time of year, with things starting to peep up, and the full potential of the summer garden is yet to unfold. 

There is a new herb garden in Mount Juliet and we had a fantastic time exploring, smelling the leaves of the herbs – recognising some, guessing others, and being totally stumped at still more!  We found some lemon balm, and we stole some leaves.  Ok, so its not stealing on a grand scale or anything, but if felt very bold!!!

I am just letting my leaves infuse in a gorgeous dotty teapot just big enough for one, and I am going to sit and enjoy my stolen herbal tea in a quiet few moments before I start the school runs and the mayhem of the afternoon and evening.

I just LOVE Special Moments!!!!

Wishing you countless Special Moments every day.




Celebration Days can be Tough!

May 6, 2008

Today was a tough day for me, and for my son whose 10th birthday it was today. 

Why was it tough?  I’m still trying to work that out.  Maybe its because birthdays are meant to be special.  Sometimes I think those days that are meant to be special are much more difficult than the ordinary days because of our expectations.

My son was 10 today.  We had his birthday party last week because one of his friends that he wanted to be there was going on holidays this week.  Today, there were all the ingredients for a special day.  We started the day with presents before school – he loves presents – he is incredibly good at giving thoughtful gifts to his family, and he LOVES getting presents.  He was thrilled with his gifts from us and from his aunties and grannies.  Then it was off to school.

After school we had a special tea planned, which he had chosen.  Then we had birthday cake and a little party.  But he was in terrible form.  He was really cranky and he was really disgusted that he didn’t get a night off homework for his birthday – the teacher he has this year doesn’t believe in giving a night off homework for birthdays.  To add insult to injury, she gave a huge amount of homework this evening.

While normally he gets in a does it really quickly, tonight he gave out and gave out.  He was angry, he was in tears, he was throwing tantrums about it, he was bullying his sister, but he wasn’t just getting in and doing it!  He ended up getting himself into trouble for bad behaviour – on his birthday of all days!!!  Basically, he was just putting himself through agony and spoiling what had the potential to be a lovely day.

Anyway, to make a long story short, we saved the day with a long chat at bedtime, and he went to bed happier with himself.  He listed the Special Moments he had during the day, and actually there were lots.

Now I have to do the same, because I just feel like I have been wrung out today.  I am exhausted with the effort of trying to keep it together and not crack up altogether with him today.  He’s right – there were lots of special moments.  Watching him get so excited when he was opening his gifts, and seeing him be so grateful for them was really lovely.  When he heard his auntie and his cousin sing Happy Birthday on the answering machine he was absolutely grinning from ear to ear.  He was delighted.  Helping his cheat on his maths homework by using a calculator and doing it with him was pretty great too – sssshhh – don’t tell!!!

Hey, maybe it was a good day after all!!!

Wishing you countless Special Moments



Every moment is a Special Moment once we wake up to it.