Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Ordinarily I would support the National Consumer Agency and their plight to protect the Irish consumer.

But there's one case recently that has me screaming NANNY STATE as I shake my head intending to defy the new ruling.
This is the effective ban on amber teething necklaces aimed at babies.
From a parents' point of view, we will adopt anything that reduces our children's pain and calms them down. Parenting is a tough job, so any small help when they're sick is very welcome.
Because they do get sick when they're teething. It reduces their immune systems, it blocks up their noses and makes them cough, it gives them ear infections and fevers, and it makes them very cranky.
Amber is a natural anti-inflammatory which reduces the swelling and pain around the ear, nose and throat area when teeth break through the gums into the mouth.
I've used it for all 3 of my kids - with impressive results. It does work - they have less problems cutting teeth and it reduces the sleepless nights and the amount of Calpol/Nurofen you have to administer to relieve their pain. My youngest, who is 23 months, is still wearing his now. He never seems to get teething pains (something I put down to the necklace).
That's not just my opinion, thousands of other mums swear by them.
One mum I asked about this, said: "I'm not worried about the ruling and I'm not taking my son's off. If I take it off the cheeks go red, the drool starts and he's crankier than usual. I honestly thought it was a crock but got one as a gift and put it on him because I thought it was cute, made him look like a little surfer dude!
"It was only a week or two later when I took it off to wash it I realised within an hour all the symptoms of teething showed up - red cheeks, runny nose, drool - when I put it back on they stopped again, so I was sold! The good ones have safety features built in and to be honest he's swallowed much worse than a minuscule amber bead - I do baby led weaning so he's always gagging, little beads are the last of my worries!"

In my own house, little Lego is everywhere - heads of legomen the same size as the amber beads are all over the floor discarded by my 5 year old. The youngest bites them off too - and guess what, he's never choked on one. He spits them out.

If we're banning amber beads, why not ban grapes? They are far more dangerous in choking terms because their size can block the windpipe - there has been incidents where grapes have killed toddlers who have swallowed them whole. Grapes or cherry tomatos are the size we need to be worried about, not tiny nuggets of amber that would just get swallowed whole if the unthinkable happened and the necklace broke.

Which brings me to the inbuilt safety feature of these necklaces - they don't break off: they are so tightly woven and with an extra safety stitch after each bead that they don't naturally break away from the necklace. And in safety tests, when smashed with force they just crumble into dust.

It's quite ironic really that the NCA's own research into amber teeting necklaces revealed that no instances of choking were found. It is simply the fear of the unknown that is driving this decision.

Because they need to give it a label, they reclassified the teething aid as a ‘toy’ - which means that because it contains 'small parts' it is not suitable for children under 36 months. But who would put a teething necklace on a 3 year old? It is effectively putting a whole segment of the market out of business.
One online retailer Teething SOS weighed up its business options and decided safety was paramount over staying in business, so quickly issued a recall. Its entire business model is based on selling amber as a teething aid to babies so will this drastic move put it out of business?
EarthMother.ie was a bit more savvy, simply putting a disclaimer on the product: "According to EU Toy safety regulations EN-71-1 necklaces are not suitable to use as toys for children under 36 months. Our necklaces are not toys, please do not allow your children to play with or chew on them. Our children's jewellery must be worn under adult supervision. Under a European wide investigation into amber teething products some jurisdictions have changed the labeling requirements to "use over 36 months only". This is because of it's composition of small parts and is not because of any question over the amber itself."

Since talking to mums about this issue, my feeling is that these necklaces totally polarise parents to the point that they either love them or hate them.
There'll always be Fearful mums who never let little Jonny out of their sight and would never put something so crazy like a necklace on him. The opposite are the Alternative mums who never even give their kids Calpol when they're sick. I'm somewhere in the middle - but I will be joining in the backlash against the NCA and the European directive and staying true to what's already worked for us. Lorcan still wears his teething necklace today and I've zero fears about it as a choking hazard.

Personally I think the NCA is scaremongering distressed mums by this new ruling, demonising something they've already been using problem-free for years. Thankfully, not every one is listening - they're using common sense and staying with their instincts.
Grannies already like to tut tut when they see my 23 month old boy wearing his necklace - what will they say now?
Maybe I should just tell them that grapes are more dangerous and watch the shock on their faces...

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Saturday, April 20, 2013


What is it with little girls and pink flowery party dresses?

My nearly 4 year old girly-girl is nothing like her Tomboy never-willingly-wore-a-dress-ever mum.

I hated dresses - and still do. My daily uniform is jeans with everything; boots in winter, sneakers in summer.

Whereas Tegan will joyfully wear five different dresses a day teamed with the girliest little flimsiest shoes that fall off her feet at any pace.

Where does she get that from? It's not nature or nurture in my case. So where?

Who knows. But when a fancy new dress came through the post last week from the French-inspired clothing outlet JoJo Maman Bébé, there was fierce excitement.

Tegan opening her post

Believe it or not, I don't think I've ever bought her a dress. She's mostly been bought them by relatives or given them second-hand. I never saw the need - yet somehow she has morphed into a dress girl, with absolutely no encouragement by me.

That said, we spent an enjoyable 10 minutes looking through www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk's website before we decided on said party dress for her 4th birthday party. The website is nicely laid out and you can get a feel for how the dresses will look when they're worn by your nearest and dearest.

Tegan chose Pink Rose Party Dress - which for once I agreed on.

Couldn't wait to try it on

The dress didn't disappoint. The fabric is very high quality cotton with a soft, rich feel to it, and really well-made with a lovely lining inside.

She couldn't wait to try it on. Et voila... (seeing as we've gone all French clothing here) she looked stunning in the stylish little number.

Pretty in pink roses

All set for her 4th birthday in... er, 2 month's time...

If it survives for that long unworn and unsoiled. Fingers crossed.

Maybe I should hide it until then!

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.... Siobhan Flynn-Griffin and Deborah McCarthy.

Congatulations to you both. You both win two FREE adult tickets to the Just4Kids show in Dublin Sat May 25/Sun May 26. Kids go free.

To choose the day you wish visit, please visit:
More details can be found here:


Please PM me your addresses and I’ll post these tickets on Monday. 

Thanks for taking part in the comp and 'Liking' Mama Dynamite.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013


It's fascinating to watch my kids interract with technology - it makes me think back to own my low-tech childhood when the biggest wow gadget was a microwave oven the size of TV.

Today's kids automatically touch every screen they see - expecting to interact with it by sliding their finger.

They expect things to be fast and accessible - they have no patience for a latop that takes a minute to start up, nor the antiquated mousepad.

They don't understand why I still need a key to open my front door. "Why don't you just press the button?" they ask. Fair point, I think, why haven't house door locks evolved in the same way as car or office door locks?

I hate having to fumble for the right key to physically stick it in the lock and turn, bags and children and phones falling off me.

My nearly four year old girl is currently obsessed with my iPhone, she's discovered dressing up games and navigates her way easily around my apps and photos.

I rarely get to use it when she's around. I get tech withdrawal - thinking someone must be sending me a message, I'm missing something, I need it back.

I remember my first mobile phone. I was 25 and working for a technology mag in London, commuting from Brighton every day. I thought I was so cool on the train every day sending texts and calling people to tell them I'd be late.

This was my first phone, it had a grey screen and it allowed for only two lines on the screen at once. I had to do lots of scrolling to read texts.  

Because I was reviewing gadgets, Nokia then sent me what I thought was the beezneez of phones - the first WAP phone - about 4 months before anyone else got one. The looks from people on the train when they saw this amazing gadget!

Back then we called the internet on mobiles WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and it was total rubbish. I remember the best thing I could do with this phone was to bring up a list of movies at my local cinema. And that took 10 minutes to download. Yet it was new and we saw potential. 

How impressed we were in 1999 that technology had evolved to give us a pocket device that could do so much.

Fast forward 14 years and now look at us. The touch screen has advanced the evolution of devices more than ever expected.

Everyone carries mini devices of magic that do more than we ever believed possible.

This is the one that amazes me each and every day: My iPhone 5.

My moto is: You're never alone with an iPhone. Should I need to wait around for anything now, I'm no longer bored. I just check my email, look up something on google and catch up with all my groups on Facebook. I relish this check-in time. Waiting rooms have become enjoyable spaces.

The result is I'm more connected now than I ever was. But it's all virtual. I rarely make phone calls. It's all done over email, text or WhatsApp.

I may be using social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest on this phone, but is it real? I may be in touch with more people than I've ever been in touch with, but it is just ephemeral commuication?

We dip in and out of people's lives more than ever. Long-lost friends get a quick 'like' and comment on their latest photo, and I invite people I hardly know to share my life and read all my gory thoughts in my blog.

When I had babies I hid away for a while, went internal as I struggled to cope with a new paradigm. Technology allowed me to open that door - to be 'out there' again, to become more external, exposed, for the world to see. I wonder whether this will come back to bite me in the future, when online media is public property and normal kids grow up in a faux-celebrity limelight because of competing internet profiles.

Looking back 20 years, the technology we used seems laughably primitive, yet it protected us - the reason I bought my first mobile fifteen years ago was for safety because I was often commuting late at night.

Technology now exposes us. To bullying (for children in the schoolyard), to ridicule and to stalking.

It's a very fine line to tread. I know bloggers who write anonymously for the safety of their lives and their children. I know people who won't post pictures on the internet of their children, yet I regularly sync my phone albumns with my Facebook. Am I too exposed?

Maybe when Facebook becomes nothing more than a sponsored medium and personal profiles are lost among the glut of competitions and promotions (it's nearly there now!), the tech-backlash will begin. Blogs will start to disappear and twitter will go quiet and we'll all go back to picking up the phone and having proper long conversations again.

But where will we find the time?

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013


It's hard trying to keep my feet on the ground when all around difficult children battle with me and voices have to be raised to get through to them.

My nearly 4 year old has dug her (pink plastic) heels in to the ground and she's refusing my every request and instruction.

It's hard. It rattles me to my core. I hate exploding like that. But that's they only thing they respond to nowadays, shouting!

Oh how I yearn to dig my heels into the ground just like my little girl. To be as self-assured and confident like her that it doesn't matter who I piss off in the process.

Earlier, a piece of paper fell out of a drawer onto my lap. As if an angel had sent it to me. I'm baffled as to where it came from, really. Out of the blue but totally what I need in my life right now.

It's called 'Advice from a Tree'. Er, so now I'm taking advice from a tree!

But honestly, yes why not, I want to be as solid as a tree because this parenting lark uproots me every single day.

This is what the tree said to me:

Advice from a Tree – By Ilan Shamir
Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The energy and birth of spring
The growth and contentment of summer
The wisdom to let go of leaves in the fall
The rest and quiet renewal of winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural bounty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!
Thanks Tree

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Sunday, April 7, 2013


There's plenty of conferences and shows aimed at parents and mums-to-be, but where are the big events aimed at children?

Mum entrepreneur and friend of Mama Dynamite, Caroline Dooley has set up an events business hoping to change all that.
Her first show claims to be Ireland’s first show dedicated to kids and is called the JUST 4 KIDS SHOW.

It’s coming to the RDS in Dublin at the end of May, Saturday, 25th May and Sunday, 26th May.

It will feature a huge free Fun Zone led by Let’s Go Camps, a Workshop Zone, a Technology and Science Zone, a Library Zone, a Seminar Zone and a host of exhibition stands to browse through.

The theme is to “be inspired, be informed and be involved” and it promises to be a fun and educational day out for all the family.

Experts booked to speak at the event include: Sheila O’Malley from Practical Parenting, Andrew Jackson the ISPCC’s anti-bullying campaign coordinator, Avril Ronan of Trend Micro on Internet safety, Angela C. O’Connor on Special Needs, Paul Hussey - Audiologist, Aidan Grace on Paediatric First Aid and more to come.    These will all take place in the Seminar Zone, interspersed by some great live entertainment and performances. Sessions will run from 10:30am – 8pm on Sat 25th and from 10:30am to 6pm on Sun 26th May.

The Seminar and Workshop Zone schedules will be posted on the show’s website in advance of the event and also at the venue, so visitors can plan their day. No advance booking is required.  You can just turn up. It costs €10 per adult and Kids GO FREE.

Confirmed exhibitors include: the Irish National Sailing School, Read Assist, The Young Performers Academy, Destination Westport, The GAA, Clever Mind Toys, Pembroke Fencing Club, Adams Cloud, Secret Valley Park, Eagles Flying, Kumon, Hearing Health Care, Funtasia, Fota Island Resort and Fota Wildlife Park.

Official charity partner of the Just 4 Kids Show is the ISPCC, who are also taking part in the event. The Show will donate a percentage of all ticket sales to the ISPCC, with a minimum donation of €5,000.
Caroline is a lovely, warm person who is doing this because she genuinely wants to create somethingn that kids will love. She's giving a massive charity donation from it.
Mama Dynamite readers have the chance to win a family ticket. Just go over to my Facebook page and like the page, then share the pic at this address: https://www.facebook.com/MamaDynamite7?ref=hl#!/photo.php?fbid=579705765387002&set=a.579705762053669.1073741825.345768115447436&type=1&theater

More competitions can be found at http://www.just4kidsshow.ie/visitors/competitions/

For more information visit www.just4kids.ie

Find Just 4 Kids on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Just4Kids or follow them on Twitter @just4kidsshow

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Friday, April 5, 2013


There I was, picking olives from the beautifully presented supermarket deli counter, savouring the taste of the sneaky sample I'd just popped in my mouth.

When my reverie was destroyed by a mother telling her girls: "Come away from that counter, it's disgusting!"


What exactly is disgusting about a deli counter?

As she dragged her baffled girls away, I heard her chunter: "They shouldn't sell food open like that!"

Was she someone in the know from the Food Safety Authority, someone with inside information of diseases that lurk at deli counters?

Was she someone who'd had a nasty experience of being poisoned by food from an open-help-yourself counter?

Or was she just someone with an OCD who thinks nothing about passing on her own nuroses and anxieties to her poor girls (aged roughly 6 and 8)?

As I write this, I'm eating said controversial yet delicious olives - but the sour taste she left in my mouth lingers.

What is with people like that?? Honestly, truly, really, what gives??

Do they live in a bubble of extreme cleanliness?

When I come across snippy people like that I wonder how their poor suffering loves ones put up with that insanity on a daily basis?

How do they live like that?

I'm glad I rarely have these encounters, but boy when I do, it grates and stays with me far longer than it should. I mean, fancy writing a whole blog post about it! Bonkers.

Seriously though, is it me that is being naive for not thinking of the dangers of deli counters?

What do you think?

I'd love to hear your views....

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Thursday, April 4, 2013


Delighted to be Blogger of the Month in the new funky re-designed of Easy Parenting magazine this month.

I wrote the article before I changed the blog name but the essence of everything I said remains the same.

In actual fact, writing this article was one of the catalysts that lead me to rebrand the blog, because it made me realise I needed a new direction, one that was more dynamic and aspirational.

So here's the scanned article, over 2 pages...

Page 1, click here for a readable PDF

Page 2, click here for a readable PDF

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