Tuesday, January 31, 2012

# 3 St. Patrick's Parent and Toddler Group, Dalkey

Location:    Church of Ireland Hall, Dalkey
Times:       Tuesdays from 10.30 to 12.00
Prices:       € 2 per session (no other fees apply)
PROs:        cheap, very commited volunteers
CONs:        (Not sure..felt that I didn't belong perhaps)
Overall:     *** and 1/2*

St. Patrick's Church in Dalkey belongs to the Church of Ireland, which by only 3 per cent is the second largest denomination after Catholicism in the Republic of Ireland according to the 2006 census.
So much for civics lessons though! Because that has nothing to do with the toddler group whatsoever.

The Church is located on an elevated site overlooking Dublin bay and because I don't have a car, I walked along the scenic route passing Bullock harbour. And although we've been living here for quite a while now, for a moment it felt like I was on holidays. Walking up the hill, we passed a number of builders, which Aviva correctly identified as "Bobs". First struggling to find the Church Hall, I soon realized that they are sharing the same building with St. Patrick's National School.

The toddler group itself is run by committed parents only and one session costs € 2 with no further charges applying. Included are also tea and biscuits. At the start we all sat in a circle singing nursery rhymes (including an introductory song) to get warmed up, which has a very nice touch to it. It also gives the toddler group a bit of structure.
Having introduced Aviva by collective singing "Aviva's wearing beige today, beige today, beige today. Aviva's wearing beige today, on a Tuesday morning", I felt a bit bad, as she was the only child misbehaving and not taking part. However, the free biscuits certainly made up for that ;-).

So, while Aviva obsessed over a changing mat instead of playing with toys, I got talking to another young Mom. Or at least I thought she was! It turned out she was a Swiss au pair and henceforward our conversation continued in German. With the Swiss being very accurate and into standards, I wasn't surprised when she told me that she's mainly here to get an internationally recognized CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) and would soon go home.

Anyway, the toddler group! Overall it was a good experience and because it's so cheap and cheerful, I'm going to give it three and a half stars and a another go at some point. The only thing I felt was a bit of a letdown, is the fact that I didn't really get to talk to anyone and despite good efforts the athmosphere was kind of cold (But that's just me!).

You should definitely go and judge it for yourself :-).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If you're feelin nothin, hit that button!

Having confessed my secret acceptance of Ryan Tubridy to you, I feel there's no shame in coming out with yet another questionable interest of mine.

The Irish version of Take Me Out is back on TV3 and while two of my Irish friends find it too cringeworthy to watch, I way prefer it to it's big English brother. 

Here it is: Show host Ray Foley wants to find the perfect match for thirty single ladies who stand behind a lit podium. Then, a poor fellow walks on to a tune he had picked himself accompanied by silly dance moves. Following that, a lot of the girls would press a buzzer to turn off their lights, indicating that they have no interest in a country pumpkin with dyed blond hair wearing tracksuit bottoms on national television.
The humiliation doesn't end here though! After that, poor Malachy from Athlone has two more chances to impress the ladies. Then usually, a video clip comes on showing his family, telling the audience what a cute baby he was and some of the lads going on about what a boozer he is. If Malachy didn't get a total blackout already, he can show off an embarrassing talent (like playing backpipes or impressing them with a card trick).
If he's very lucky, some of the girls will have kept their lights on and he has to whittle it down to only two of them. Before he can make his final decision, he has to ask them a token question, like what sort of a sandwich they would like to be and why.
Finally, he picks a girl, they walk off together and one week later it turns out, that unfortunately his Mullingar date Karen can't see him again because of the great distance between them.

My friends would say that the English version is way more professional and upbeat and I guess they're right. However, I prefer to watch real people on television. And if that means to pick unimpressed Irish girls over English chicks on speed and chubby country fellows over steroid-addicted hulks, I can well live with that :-).

So, don't forget to switch on Irish Take Me Out and if you think he's a clown, shut him down (even Foleys catch phrases are better than the English ones)!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

# 2 Barnardos Parent & Toddler Group,Dun Laoghaire

Location:    Barnardos Branch in Dun Laoghaire,
                 14 Tivoli Terrace South
Times:        Fridays from 10.00 to 12.00
Prices:        € 2 per session (€ 5 enrollment fee)
PROs:         friendly staff, partly structured play, outdoor play area,
                 separate baby play area, reasonable price
CONs:        crammed and chaotic
Overall:      ****

A very warm welcome to my first official follower :-)! It's great to see that people are looking at my blog. You are aware though, that by doing so you make me feel EVEN MORE committed to it, don't you ;-)?

I'm trying not to be biassed as I have only been to two different toddler groups so far. But at a very reasonable € 2 per two-hour session I can tell you straight away that there probably isn't any better toddler group in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (in terms of price/performance ratio). You have to pay a € 5 enrollment fee at your first visit but that's no big deal (Remember I had to pay € 7 at Cuidiu for only one session?).

The toddler group is run by a local branch of Barnardos, which is Ireland's leading children's charity. And they just have loads on! It really would go beyond the scope of this blog, so you should definitely check out their website.

At Dun Laoghaire's Barnardos branch they have different play areas, such as a water and sand area, a painting corner, an outdoor play area and also a separate baby play section. That's basically due to the fact that they also participate in the free pre-school scheme (ECCE), so they are used to accomodating for children.

Overall, they are a bit more structured than toddler groups run by volunteers. From 10 to 11 it's "Choice time", which just means that the toddlers choose activities by themselves. At eleven, small tooth-friendly snacks and drinks are provided by Barnardos ("Snack time"). From 11.15 it's "Outside time" and at ten to twelve before it's time to go home they sing together.
These are suggestions only and you do not have to comply with them. Your child is making the decisions for you anyway ;-).

To make a long story short, I am very happy with that toddler group. The staff are very friendly and committed and I'm already going there on a regular basis.
The only thing that I don't like is that it's always really crammed and chaotic (I know, that's a pretty big BUT). Yesterday, I tried to count the amount of infants running about. But it simply wasn't possible. And it's not just them. You also have to count in their parents and the members of staff... That doesn't leave you with much space.

However, given that it's so cheap I'm not surprised that many parents choose to go there and I would definitely recommend it to you.

As announced two days ago, tommorow I'm gonna tell you about Fun Fitness in Sandyford. So, stay tuned ;-)!


Friday, January 27, 2012

The old Tubs...

I know I'm not speaking for all of you by saying that I like Ryan Tubridy.

Now, don't be misguided by his utterly stiff presentation of the Late Late Show. After all, the show's old-fashioned concept is as ancient as the bible (and the majority of it's audience). While hosting the Late Late poor Tubs probably has to face many RTE restrictions that cramp his style.
The weekend newspapers usually slag the tall fellow for either not being sharp enough and avoiding any controversy, or on the contrary, of not intervening if his guests go too far (Like last april, when one of his guests kept calling Kate Middleton a "ride").

His weekday morning show on RTE 2fm from 9 to 11 on the other hand is really listenable. With Tubs being given the chance to speak his mind, he turns out to be pretty funny and entertaining.
The range of topics talked about is almost endless. You could end up listening to a professional rugby player talking about how his eyeball burst in a freak accident, a woman about talking someone out of jumping off a bridge, or simply discuss what to do with your wedding ring after your marriage went pear-shaped. And all of that in one morning!

I know,that's a lot to take in. However, most listeners calling the show would be mothers (Who else would have time in the mornings apart from civil servants obviously). So, a lot of the time parenting issues would also be discussed.

Having read that article you should definitely give him a chance, the old Tubs... Don't you think?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

# 1 Cuidiu Toddler Group Glenageary

Location:  St. Paul's Church Hall Glenageary, Adelaide Road
Times:     Wednesdays from 10.00 - 12.00
Prices:     € 7 for Non-Members / € 4 for Cuidiu Members (€ 25 annual fee)
PROs:      coffee or tea and biscuits included; spacious facilities,
              separate baby play area
CONs:     no structured play, no professional staff, quite expensive
Overall:   ***

St. Paul's Church Hall, a lovely modern building with glass facade, is located at the corner of Adelaide road/Silchester road in Glenageary (just off the DART station).
The toddler group is run by Cuidiu (Irish for parenthood), which is a parent-to-parent support group run by volunteer parents and apparently a very conservative one (very into breastfeeding and that sort of thing). Nevermind.

As usual I arrived very early and must remember not to do so the next time as I had to help setting up the play area. At € 7 per session for Non-Cuidiu-Members the toddler group is quite dear, especially given the fact that there is no professional staff or structured play. Cuidiu, however, seems to be relatively popular as the place was soon filled with a good two dozens of toddlers and babies in all shapes and colours.
I like the idea of a separate baby play area and am also very fond of the tea /coffee and biscuits that are included in the price ;-).

Surprisingly enough I didn't see anyone I had met before, even though I thought I knew most new mothers in the local area. Just another evidence of Ireland's baby boom, I guess.
I got to talk to a very nice young mom at the same age as me and noticed once again that there are very few "young" mothers in my area. With the south of Dublin being a rather priviliged area, most first time mothers I met are in their midthirties, careerwise and financially sorted (and would soon be second time mothers).

Back to the toddlergroup though. Overall I enjoyed the experience and didn't feel that my money went to waste. Two hours is more than enough for a toddler to "socialize" (= fighting over toys) and with that in mind I will definitely give Cuidiu toddler group another go at some stage.

Tomorrow I'm gonna go to Barnardos toy library in Dun Laoghaire and will also share my thoughts on Fun Fitness Sandyford that I went to see today.

So, stay tuned ;-)!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Toddler Group Rating System

Hi folks :D,
I know you're all dying to find out how I got on at Cuidiu parent and toddler group in Glenageary today. But it's pretty late already and One Born every minute is on in 15 minutes ;-).

To keep the tension, let me first introduce you to my "toddler group rating system". As you will notice it's very straight forward.

*          Would not recommend it at all

**        Probably would not go a second time

***      Will definitely give it one more go

****    Could see myself coming here on a regular basis

*****  Why on earth haven't I found out about this miraculous place earlier?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Toddler Group Alarm!

So, here I am: Tackling the challenge of finding a toddler group for Aviva. If we lived in Germany she'd almost certainly go to creche even if I was unemployed.

But, I don't think I'm telling you a secret if I say that childcare in Ireland is just ridiculously expensive. As far as I know prices for fulltime childcare start at € 800 a month. That's almost one parent's wages! In terms of childcare you either have to be very flexible and creative or simply better off than most people.

However, being a (temporary) stay at home mum in Ireland doesn't leave me much of a choice and I'm going to find a place where Aviva can meet other children. Plus, having lived here for a year and a half, I have met loads of lovely people, but I cannot say I have made friends or simply meet others on a regular basis.

So here it is: Tomorrow I am going to test Cuidiu parent and toddler group at St. Paul's Church Hall in Glenageary. At € 7 per two-hour session it's quite expensive. Let's see if it's worth it!

Welcome to my world :-)

Job done! I just created my first blog and would like to tell you about my life as a German mother who has come to live and work (?)in Ireland.

My name is Julia and in August 2010 my then 4 month old daughter Aviva, my partner Sam and I swapped life in Germany for a more promising future in the South of Dublin.(More promising because Sam had to get his qualification as a key to any job that is).

We soon found that life in a recession-ridden country is even tougher than expected (and I'm a pretty realistic person) and we don't know how long we're going to be able to afford life over here. For the time being though, I would like to share my thoughts on bringing up a child in Ireland. With the Irish being such warm and lovely people, yet it's hard to make friends with them and Irish Society being so different to Germany, I hopefully will have plenty to write about.

Originally I aimed at keeping this blog bilingual. However, for some reason I find it easier to express my thoughts in English. Isn't that weird?