My Little Piece of Heaven

We moved into our house 9 years ago, in October. It was a new house and there was nothing done with the garden. We were coming into the winter and would soon find out how water logged the garden gets in the wet months. It was destroyed and we just looked at it with the door closed as you wouldn’t dare walk on the grass from the fear of disappearing into a muddy puddle.

When the spring months came around we decided to build a shed to house our washing machine and tumble dryer and also to store tools, a lawnmower and other pieces. Then I got the bright idea to dig foundations for an extension that we would eventually build. Crazy I know but there was a method to my madness. I wanted to lay cobbles on one side of the garden – going from the back door to the newly built shed. I thought that if the foundations and sub floor were laid and poured and I would then have a clear area for the cobbles and once we built the extension the cobbles would be in the right place and not need to be moved. Crazy, I said that earlier, because as the years went on the extension that I had originally planned for is only a fraction of the size I would like it to be.

The cobbles were laid and the concrete was poured into the extension, which served as a seating area over the following years. We planted some flower beds, using log rolls to line them out and tried to enjoy what we had. The kids were small and it suited us at the time. Nathan loved to kick football and ride his trike around the back and when Jacob started to crawl in the Summer of 2013 it was easy to open the back doors on a fine day and let them enjoy all their toys. We kept the garden as nice as we could, painting the fences Wild Sage from Cupirnol and the posts were Inisfail from Dulux to match the house. We put trellis to the rear of the garden with netting behind it to stop Nathan from losing so many footballs. This was a waste of time as the day it was installed Nathan cleared the 12ft height at only 2 and half year’s old.

The grass was always a torn in my side and for years I fought with the idea of digging it up. I tried everything in my power to save it. I dug it up and put down stones and drainage to allow the water soak away. I sowed grass seeds every year, trying to thicken it up. I even spent one summer forking it weekly and throwing sand down along with seeds and feed. Nothing worked. Last summer, 2016, there was no growth, I barely cut it all summer. And when the winter months came around the surface water was worse than ever. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Christmas Day 2016. The boys went outside that morning in their new runners with a new football that Santa kindly brought them and they both came back in destroyed. That was it, decision made, the grass was gone.

After the Christmas madness passed I spent the next few weeks planning what I wanted. Ideas danced through my head and the excitement started. I decided to go with paving slabs. A nice concrete base and if I ever go ahead with my extension I won’t feel too bad taking then up, as opposed to if I spent a fortune on granite or some other expensive garden tile. Grey was my new love, so the slabs worked out perfectly. To add some texture and not to have a plain surface I chose the cracked ice slabs from Strong’s in Emo. They were reasonably priced as I was getting 300 or so and they delivered them within a few days. I also got the gravel, sand, bags of cement and the brick shaped curb that I used to mark out my flower beds. I thought these were a nice touch and they matched in with the colour scheme.

Another idea I had was to replace the wooden fence panels. Sean and I would spend days every year or every second year painting these panels. As you can see from the pictures they have an in and out design and the fence posts to the back were a nightmare to paint. There were also a few of the panels starting to rot and fall apart and it was either replace them with identical panels from 50-60 euro or get concrete panels for 45 euro per fence. It was a no brainer. The concrete ones were more private, easier to maintain and have a lifetime guarantee – as in, unless someone purposely tries to smash them – with great difficulty – they are not going anywhere. We replaced all the panels down one side of our garden, with our neighbours blessing and to the rear of the garden.

While all of this was being planned out and actually the day after the panels and slabs were delivered, two fence panels blew out during the night. It got very windy and when we woke up there were two panels broken on the ground. This was a sign they had to go. On the far side of the garden we decided to go with ship latting instead of the concrete panels. This was my father’s idea and adds great character to the garden and also provides great privacy. These latts come in 16ft lengths and it’s a very cost-effective way of replacing a fence. The latts were attached to the concrete uprights and run from the house to the shed. There were loads of offcuts leftover from the fence so I asked for the wood on the shed door to be replaced. It ties in nicely with the fence and gave the shed a makeover.

Before the slabs were started another phase of the design needed to be perfected – the pergola. I really wanted to define and frame our seating area and loved the idea of the pergola and in years to come having it draped with plants, climbers and fairy lights. It was suggested that I install the 6×6 uprights in steel boots to prevent them from rotting, this way they wouldn’t be in the ground and open to the elements. Concrete was poured under the four post positions and allowed to set over night. The boots were then drilled and set into the concrete using special bolts. This then provided the size and shape of the pergola and the slabs could be started. I got all the wood for the pergola and fence from Laois Sawmills in Portlaoise. Tom in there was a great help and talked me through my drawings and what I needed.

The pergola took shape quickly once the posts went up and the guy we had working for us in the garden was brilliant with his hands. Within two weeks we had our garden back and it was time to start planning the plants and the accessories. The first thing to go in was the rattan effect outdoor furniture we bought the previous September from Willoughby’s Hardware in Monasterevin. We purchased it on sale at a bargain 599.00. It is a large table with a glass top with 6 seats in grey. It came with seat pads for each of the seats and is a very sturdy set. For my birthday in February, Sean bought me the large lantern that is positions beside the pergola post. It is such a beautiful addition to the garden and I have battery operated candles inside that light up to create a nice ambience.

We widened our flower beds and most of what was there got destroyed during the build, so we were starting from scratch. But before we could plant anything the fences had to be painted. Sean sealed them with PVC Polybond and then I gave it three coats of white paint. My intention was to paint them a light grey but when the three coats of white was finished I loved it. It just made the whole place look so much bigger and it was so bright. I used the grey to paint the pebble dash at the back of the house so as not to waste it and it helped finish the area with block colours. I used the left over white paint to paint the shed and window sills.

The canopies to the back of the house are door canopy’s and can be found on done deal. I ordered them in April and at the time I couldn’t find anything like it in Ireland. We ship a lot of equipment from China through work so I contacted the supplier over there and ordered what I wanted. It was important to have a good overhang from the house as I wanted to be able to use the BBQ pictured even if it was raining. The overhang I requested was 1.5m from the wall and each panel or canopy is 1m wide. I got 5 of them and they slot together like a jigsaw. The gutter at the top of the house stops any water coming down the wall side of the canopy and then the overhang of 1.5m gives great shelter when it’s raining. I can open my back doors in any weather and not worry about the rain coming inside or even wetting the doors.

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Leading onto the BBQ. This started out as just the BBQ, which is in the centre of the unit. It was gifted to be in February as a birthday present. I always wanted an outdoor kitchen and ran the ideas by the powers to be in work. It spiralled from there. The BBQ was built into a 2.4m mobile unit, with drawers for storage and a bottle cooler for all those parties that I hope to have. On the right-hand side of the BBQ is a 2 ring cooker and the other side is a work surface. The BBQ is a 4 burner Smeg Commercial BBQ and is very powerful. It comes with a drawer for water underneath the burners to aid in cooking, and this helps keep the food moist and not charred. The fabricators in work built a hood for the unit to finish it off. It’s on wheels and open to the back for ventilation. I am in love with it and hopefully will have loads of lovely meals from this over the years.

The next thing to arrive was the playhouse. I got very claustrophobic in the house with all the toys and they were taking over everywhere. This was purchased from Moody brothers in Kildare and as soon as its insulated in the coming weeks and the electricity is in it I will do a separate blog post about it.

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The idea behind doing the garden up like this was to reduce the maintenance and to try enjoy it more. I wanted to create a space outside that felt like an extension of the house and like an extra room. On a sunny day with the back doors wide open and a light warm breeze in the air, it’s like a little bit of heaven. The boys don’t use the garden to play or kick ball anymore now that they are that bit older. They love to be out the front on the green with their friends, so it seemed like the perfect time to turn the garden into a space we could all use.

I bought a few pieces from Homestore and More to stick up on the fences and some picks to stick out between the flowers. This will all add to the character of the garden. I also have some windchimes to add a melody to the wind. With the good weather coming to an end this year, the work outside has come to a halt. It is my intention to light up the pergola with fairy lights and hang an outdoor heater on one of the overhead rafters. I have gazebo curtains to surround the pergola on a cold night and some cloth canopies for overhead. With some more growth on the climbers the pergola will be a vision of beauty, wrapped in green foliage and draped in blossoms.

As I said earlier the flowers I planted this year were all new with one exception, which was the Californian Lilac in the corner of the garden. I bought most of the plants from Glanbia/Country Life in Monasterevin and a few climbers and bedding from Pat Coopers Hardware in Portarlington. Pat gave me a feed to sprinkle over my garden and told me it would take up to two weeks to work. He wasn’t far off the mark and when we returned from 10 days away in June the garden was like a jungle of green, with amazing colours peeping through and beautiful scents. I will add the details of the plants below, I should have most of the tags at home.

I hope you enjoyed the tour around my little piece of heaven …………………………..

 

To be continued

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Jacob’s Worst Day Ever

Today was a normal day in the Heavey household. There were a few times that I had to raise my voice, for instance, “get dressed”, “put your shoes on”, “put your jumper on”, “get out of your uniform”, “go back upstairs and put skins under your shorts”, “stop blowing that bloody tin whistle”. But in our house this is normal, voices have to be raised once you have asked your children to do something 10 times or more and they are continuing to ignore you. Nathan has selective hearing, definitely a trait from his Daddy 😂 and Jacob is as stubborn as the day is long.

However, as Jacob describes it best, “It was his worst day ever”!!! On route to school this morning Halloween costumes were being discussed. Poor Jacob couldn’t make up his mind, he changes costumes in the evenings 5/6 times, his imagination runs away with him. He knew he wanted a new one and that he would possibly choose Wolverine – a Marvel Avengers character. He then decided he wanted the costume at that very moment. Not possible, I tried to explain, we are on our way to school. “Can you get it on your way home from work Mammy?” was the next question. I replied “no baby, I wouldn’t make the shops in time”. That’s when his world began to end.

He started to cry and got really upset. I tried to explain to him again and if he was really good I would get it for him at the weekend. What you don’t know about Jacob is how dramatic he is, everything is drama. I swear if he doesn’t make me millions in Hollywood, I’ll be disappointed. He was devastated, I was the worst Mammy ever. He wouldn’t get out of the car at school and he wanted it now!! At this stage I was beginning to get annoyed and of course I did what every good Mammy would do, I tried to reason with the little people “you have one chance now to stop that silly crying or you’ll get no costume. Do you think money grows on trees? You are too spoilt and you have to be good to get treats. Keep it up now and you’ll get nothing……….” and so on and so on? 

It’s the crying that gets me. I wouldn’t mind if they were hurt tears or real tears but with Jacob this morning it was a tantrum. It’s the whaling and screaming at high pitches. He decided to get out of the car and with some cuddles and a pep talk bounced into school with a smile on his face, while I was left sweating and up to 90 after his performance.

I picked the boys up from the Childminders after work and came home. They were fed so no need to worry about dinner. They played outside and Nathan got ready for football. When Nathan left I brought Jacob down to the shop to get something for my dinner but nothing took my fancy. I was getting “Hangry”. Home again and back outside while I chatted to one of neighbors. All was rosy until it wasn’t. He fell over!!!

When my kids get hurt, they don’t take it in their stride, they don’t calmly come get me to tell me their woes, they scream as if they have been hit by a train, car, bus and everything else that moves. He ran to me limping, trying to pull up his skins to show me the tiniest scratch on his leg. “It’s bleeding Mammy, it’s bleeding”. “No sweetheart it’s not, it’s just a scratch”, I replied. He jumped into my arms, his arms wrapped around my neck, dangling from me because; one I wasn’t ready and two he couldn’t wrap his leg around me because it was too sore. I asked what happened and through screams and tears he told me he fell over the path. “I wish I never fell Mammy, I wasn’t looking where I was going. It’s stinging, it’s stinging”. 

I brought him inside and tried to get his clothes off for a bath. Of course he screamed and didn’t want his clothes off. “It’s bleeding Mammy, don’t take off my clothes, you’ll touch my leg. I can’t straighten it, I can’t walk”. I carried him up the stairs in my arms and ran a bath. All the while he screamed some more, “I’m not getting into the bath, I can’t put my leg in, just rub it Mammy, do it gentle, not too hard, ahhhhhhhhh”!!! I placed him in the bath and at this stage he was sweating from the drama of the knee. I washed his hair while he held his leg tight to his body and continued to cry. Mind you there were no tears. That’s when he told me it was his worst day ever. 

I lifted him out of the bath, he had his sore leg tight to his body while his other leg trailed behind. I wrapped him in a towel and he said don’t let the towel touch me as he limped into his bedroom and told me he could only walk slow. I asked him how he was going to play football in school tomorrow and his answer was he can’t, his legs too sore. I proceeded to dry him and he told me he couldn’t lift his arms. Why? I asked. “Because”. I sat him on my knee singing to him as I dried his hair. His eyes were rolling and the crys were starting to subside. The odd moan or scream would pop up but silence was resuming. Once I had his hair dried, I laid him into my chest and stuck his blankie under his neck. Cuddled into me, swaddled in this towel, I sang his favourite songs. He fell asleep. 


How could you be annoyed with this cute little face. He was exhausted from all of the drama and the tiny cut on his leg. I continued to sing and hum and placed him on his pillow. I dressed his bottom half and covered him up and it was all over. Calm had been restored………..,,,

To be continued

Make-Up Room

This room in our house has always been used for the boys, when they weren’t sleeping in there, they used it as their play room. It had cream and blue walls and nursery stickers of animals scattered around the place. With all the fuss in the last couple of months and the feeling of not being able to control my own body or make my own decisions about my future as a mother, I thought it was time to take it back for me. Create a sanctuary that I could escape to. And instead of it being referred to the baby’s room by everyone in the house it is now “Mammy’s Make Up Room”.

It wasn’t long after my operation that I made the decision to change the room. I took the week off work after my op and during that week on my hands and knees with tears streaming down my face I started to remove the stickers. A few of them were ok to get off, but the majority took some wall with them. It was a relief that day to take some control back. I organised the painter for a few weeks down the line and then I started to plan the décor.

I had to work around what was already in the room, like the built-in bed and the radiator. I wanted to keep the bed, as its always handy to have an extra bedroom. When Nathan was 20 months old we decided to move him into a bed. I am a space saver at heart so tried to think of the best way to utilise the room while not making it feel tiny. I bought a single bed and tried to run it under the window as pictured. However, it didn’t fit and this really frustrated me as it was only milometers out. Luckily my friends partner was a carpenter and it was Brian to the rescue.

I asked him to cut the bed in half and shave off those extra unwanted milometers. Then to somehow reconnect it and put four doors on the front. To the back of the bed there is a piece of wall the sticks out and I asked him to build me a box for book storage. It is shelved off at the height of the bed so that the kids didn’t disappear into Narnia when trying to pick a book out at night. This was all built from MDF and painted white. The mattress fits in snuggly between the two walls and it was the perfect room when the boys were growing up.

Brian also made the shutters on the windows that you have previously seen in our bedroom and it was because of this room that we decided to get them. For some reason, that I can’t figure out this room can get very cold in the winter. The temperature instantly went up 5/6 degrees when the shutters were closed. They were a great asset to keep in the heat as they are fully sealed around the edges and they keep the light out, so it’s easy to get the boys to bed in those bright evenings and to stay in bed longer in the mornings. These are made from Pine and have been stained. I’m toying with the idea of sanding them back and white washing them – but we’ll just have to see.

The bed provides great storage in such a small room, as I mentioned earlier the book box to the rear of the bed is still full of books. I am reluctant to get rid of them as the boys enjoy story time so much. Then under the bed is extra storage. I have the full size of the bed to store quilts, toys, boxes etc. There is also a wardrobe built in behind the door. When we moved in this was just shelved so we bought two rails and so we could hang up clothes. Now it’s just used for all the extra hangers, but hopefully when I get my cleaning hat on I will be able to move in my handbags, shoes and other accessories into it.

The bed is dressed in Ikea bed sheets that I got recently, which were only €12.00. They suited the colour scheme perfectly as I had chosen grey for the walls – which is Dulux Silverwood – and white for the furniture. Grey and white is the perfect combination, creating a crisp, clean feel to any space. But once you let grey into your life and into your house it takes over. I have a white sheet on the bed with no need for a valance with the freshly painted doors at the bottom. These are a feature in themselves. The pillows are duck feather and down. They are my preferable choice in a pillow, I just love how my head sinks into them at night and they nearly surround the sides of my head in a world of cosiness. I bought these on offer in HomeStore and More a couple of months ago, along with the quilt, protective pillow cases and a protective sheet for the mattress. Homestore and More is such good value and quality. A deal is always on hand to inspire you to make changes at home.

The radiator cover is an Oxford brand. It’s really heavy and sturdy and good quality. It was very simple to put together and just finishes the room perfectly. This cost €110.00 from Morrison’s catalogue in medium. I got two, one for this room and one for the boy’s room. The radiator had to be moved years ago when we were building in the bed as it was tight up against it. Our plumber, Tom, moved it with no hassle at all and it gave us more room to tuck in the sheets and now to fit the radiator cover.

Moving on to the makeup table in all its glory. This is from Ikea too and is the best buy I have ever made. Sean and I put it together in a few minutes and with its drawer for storage and the glass protective top hopefully it will last me a few years. It was a bargain at €100.00. The mirror is also from Ikea and cost only €19.00. I bought chrome plated wall lights with 5 bulbs on each for either side of the mirror as pictured below. These need to be wired in and is on my to do list, or at least on the electricians to do list 😊

To fill the drawer, I found plastic desk organisers in a pack of 6 i.e. one long tray, two half size trays and three small trays for €6.00 in Homestore and More. I got two the first day I was over there and went back a week later and they were on sale for €2/€3 a pack, so I picked up a couple more. Such great value and so beneficial for separating your make up. All the decorative heart lights, in white, are also from Homestore and More. I both these at half price and I think they are still reduced. The white pots that I am using to store my brushes are from Ikea and are only €2.50 for the small ones and €6.00 for the large ones.

Also on top of my make-up table are a few pieces from Homestore and More. A cotton pad dispenser, only 99p, a swivel box with three tiers at only €3.99, the black mirror with LED lights around it was €9.99. The grey heart hanging on the mirror is from Dunnes Stores, which was only €3/€4 and the LOVE wooden sign on top of the mirror was €5.00 from Dunnes. The tab boxes behind the bed are also from Dunnes ranging from €3.00 from the smallest one to €8.00 for the larger one. The big white cushion on the bed was moved from our room which is old stock from Dunnes Stores.

To finish the room, I want to get a nice chair or stool, I shared a few of my preferences yesterday on the shop page of my site. I want to get some nice frames for the walls so I can put some prints and pictures up and maybe a few more decorative pieces. Send me your suggestions if you like………

To be continued

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All the links to each of the pieces is below:

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Wrong Hospital Equipment

On Wednesday, I had an appointment with my Gynaecologist in the hospital for a repeat HSG scan. If you have read my earlier blogs you will know that I had this test in November. Thankfully back then, my tubes were patent, which means no blockages, so I had something to work towards. However, something has happened in the meantime to block them, as during my laparoscopy there was no spillage of die into my abdomen. My doctor later told me where she would normally use 10ml of die, but she used 50ml on me and no luck.

I have been living for Wednesday’s appointment all summer. I tried to relax and take my mind off things and just enjoy the summer, which was harder than it sounds. I haven’t slept a night since my procedure on the 30th of June. I have noticed my anxiety going through the roof and my moods along with it. I have tried to keep on top of it but somethings trigger anxiety and there is no quick solution of reversing it. I have spent the summer convincing myself that two children is plenty. Going through all the negatives of having another baby and really trying to convince my head to be practical. But the heart wants, what the heart wants.

Sean and I made our way to the hospital Wednesday morning, trying to laugh and joke in the car. Either way I was going to find out for sure one way or the other, so I thought! We checked in at the X-ray Department and waited for my doctor to come down to me. About 40 minutes later I was brought into the changing room and told to put the gown on, that my doctor was on her way down. I got up onto the bed and waited nervously. She bustled into the room from ICU up to 90 and she started to prepare for the procedure. I knew what to expect. It wasn’t going to be pleasant.

It took her a few minutes to remember who I was and then she was in full patient mode and trying to explain what was to come and that she would need to have a think about what to do next depending on the results. I just wanted to get it over with. Up my legs went and she inserted the catheter into my womb. The die was then injected into the catheter and the cramping came and went. I could see the screen and my womb filled with die. She seemed to be getting frustrated and said that she was going to have to try the whole thing again.

There was no spillage from the first attempt and I can remember from the last scan clearly seeing the die spilling out from my womb into my tubes and into my abdomen. She blamed the catheter and asked the girl attending to see if there were any other ones that she could use. They had recently changed their equipment and these were not up to her standard. The process started again and the die was injected into the catheter for a second time.

Again, no spillage. I feared this outcome but it wasn’t the end. She asked me to come back again next cycle for the same procedure, giving them time to get the right equipment. She said that she thought there may have been some small spillage from the left side but she couldn’t be sure. Sean took this optimistically and firmly believes that there is a chance it’s just the equipment. Me, not so much. I understand that she was not happy with the catheter but I saw the die so in my womb, I felt it come out of me afterwards. So why didn’t it spill. The worst part of it is the torture of another month of waiting. Another month of anxiety, another month of tears and no sleep.

I want to believe that the outcome will be positive, I want to believe that I will hold my baby someday. I pray and believe that everything happens for a reason. I know that God has a plan for all of us and we just don’t know what the plans are yet but it’s just hard day to day to stay positive and put my trust in the higher powers.

A very good friend sent me this to me a few weeks ago and I am going to try concentrate on accomplishing this over the next few weeks and forever. Family is the most important thing and life is too short. So hopefully with the love and support from my family and from my faith I will find a way to manage my anxiety and pain and just enjoy what I have and the life that Sean and I have built. I know it sounds cliché but in these times of crisis and pain I have really seen our marriage go from strength to strength and I can truly say that I am with the love of my life and who I am meant to be with for the rest of my days……………………………..

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A gentle reminder from Pope Francis to slow down and just embrace your life.

This life will go by fast.

Don’t fight with people, don’t criticize your body so much, don’t complain so much.

Don’t lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.

Never stop being a good parent. Don’t worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home, and don’t kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don’t dedicate yourself to accumulating money.

Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow dogs to get closer. Don’t put away the fine glassware. Utilize the new dinnerware; don’t save your favourite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favourite sport shoes; repeat your favourite clothes.

So, what? That’s not bad. Why not now? Why not pray now instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect…look…

Everything perfect doesn’t exist. Human beings can’t accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn.

So, take this challenge that is life and do it now…love more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands. Amen.

To be continued