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Benji's Blog!

Welcome to our blog! This is where we like to keep everyone up to date with the latest news, tips on how to have lots of fun with the kids, and share little tricks for creating more time to spend together. Come in and enjoy, we'd love to hear any of your comments as well so don't be shy!!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Benji’s Back to School Survival Guide

Me, Robbie & Molly sending Harry off to school again!
As another Irish monsoon comes to a close the wonderful memories of soggy sandcastles, muddy wellies and magical smiles peeping out from under cute little umbrellas, are now being replaced by expectations of the months ahead and the longing for structure, routine and sanity.

In anticipation of that long awaited cup of tea in pure heavenly silence and whispering to ourselves “thank God they’re back”, this week I thought I’d help you get through the morning and reach that magical cup of tea moment with my ‘Back to School Survival Guide’. So here goes:

The Night Before
  1. Let your boss know you’ll be a little late in the morning  and make ‘Back to School Day’ a fun family day that the kids will enjoy and remember.
  2. Don’t worry if you are missing any book list or uniform items, they can all be got in the days after while the kids are in school, and when you actually have your brain with you for the first time in 8 weeks.
  3. Try to start as you mean to go on. Set the table for breakfast, lay all the kid’s clothes out in their bedrooms and pack the lunchboxes and pop them in the fridge. Even better, get the kids to help.
  4. At bedtime spend some time discussing, step by step, what has to happen the next day and what they are responsible for themselves. They have to wash their face and brush their teeth, dress themselves, eat breakfast, check they have their lunchbox and coat, etc. Also a good idea is to discuss how they will get to school, walking, bus, etc.

Back to School Morning
  1. Set the alarm a bit earlier. Kids dig their heels in when they know they are being rushed then panic, stress and tears all follow in quick succession. So give yourself plenty of time.
  2. Try and all have breakfast together and go through the ‘getting to school routine’ that you discussed the night before, letting them know that this is not a drill but the real thing and make it a bit of fun.
  3. First impressions last so make a small effort. At least once during the year we all have one of those days where we drop the kids to school in our slippers with jam on our pyjamas, porridge in our hair and bags under our eyes. Just make sure you don’t use up that once off day on ‘Back to School Day’ so don’t forget to brush your own hair before you leave the house.
  4. No doubt there will be tears when you get to school as the buzz and excitement gets too much for the smaller ones. I am afraid there is no magic wand for this one and it happens to everyone. All I can tell you is that they will be having fun 30 seconds after you’ve gone so get out as quickly as possible before they get the chance to realise what’s happening and Velcro themselves to your inner thigh. If that happens, which it will for some of you, tell them you love them and no matter what happens you will be back to collect them after they have had all the fun in school.
  5. After you have heaved a massive sigh of relief and all the pent up stress of the summer leaves your body, fix yourself a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy your very own magical moment all to yourself, you truly deserve it because after all you are a great Mum or Dad.
Good luck with it all! After you've got through it why don't you let me know of your own experiences by posting them below, or on our Facebook page, or you can email them to me directly at
Don’t forget we need your help so please share my blog with your friends and help make a hug!

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Magical Moments Money Can’t Buy

The summer holidays are nearly over so I thought I would reflect back on some fun I had both as a kid myself, and with my own kids from this summer and summers gone by. In the hope that you can squash some last minute family fun in before the end of the summer I will share with you my top 10 magical moments. I would also love to hear about some of the fun things you did so I can share them with everyone so please send them in to  Thanks!

1. Camping in the Back Garden

I know I've spoken about camping on the beach with Adam in a previous blog but it's worth mentioning again. When I was kid I went camping in a friends back garden and still remember, as if it was yesterday, the magical feeling and the thrill of the camp fire, the spooky glow of the torch, roasting marshmallows, scary ghost stories, cooked sausages, a real coal barbecue, singing songs and staying up late. Great for any age, I strongly recommend getting together as a family or with a couple of friends or cousins and have a good old fashioned camp-out in the back garden before the end of the holidays. It costs nothing, it's great fun and you have the comfort of the house for wee's and poo's as well as emergency shelter if a hurricane decides to arrive!

Fun on the river in Brittas Bay!
2. Canoe up a River

Ok, I know you need kayak, canoe or boat with life jackets for this one but it's definitely one of my favourite things to do and has created some of my most precious moments with the kids. The smaller the river the better with lush riverbanks and overhanging trees. So make contact with your local waterways website to see what’s involved.

The whole Moriarty family out for a spin!
3. Family Scoot or Cycle

Although I have had plenty of scooter outings with the kids this summer the outings on the bike have been few and far between, but I certainly felt the need to get the bikes sorted again when I met the whole Moriarty family out for a leisurely cycle while Jackie and I were out for a walk. This is a must for all families and a summer moment to remember with fondness.

4. Big Game of Rounders

Another fond memory of mine was a big game of rounders in the local green space with all my friends and other kids on my road . So to step it up a notch and make an unforgettable day out grab a portable barbecue, burgers, drinks and a tennis ball & racquet and head for the nearest open space with family and friends and have the Boys and Mums against the Dads and Girls game of rounders. Break for food and a rest before the second innings for another amazing day out with lots of fun and giggles.

Robbie found the biggest leaf ever on his scavenger hunt!
5. Scavenger Hunt

An old scout’s favourite that will never fail to spark off some high pitched excitement is the tried and tested scavenger hunt. This can be played in the house with the smaller ones or in the back garden, local park, forest or beach. Simply make a list of things the kids have to go and find then give them the list and let them off! Things on the list can be anything from a drinks bottle or acorn to a Y-shaped twig or different coloured flowers.

6. Treasure Hunt

A treasure hunt does take a little more effort and time to organise but is great and well worth it. The treasure can be anything but gold chocolate coins and goodies are always a hit. The more clues the better and including a little riddle or rhyme adds to the fun. Again a treasure hunt can be organised within the house, garden or local park. Most importantly the last clue should be a treasure map with a couple of landmarks and an 'X' that marks the spot.

Harry, Robbie & Molly having fun in the mud!
7. Mudslide

Ok you do need a big hill and access to a very big bucket of water so this may not be possible for everyone but this year the kids had a ball on the mudslide in Brittas. Pour a big bin of water with a bit of washing up liquid down a grassy hill and to get them sliding down you may need to repeat the process a couple of times, but the results are an amazing mud fest which is very messy but unforgettable. Adam was lucky enough to have fun on the mud slide so highly recommended.

8. Climb a Mountain

As a kid I loved going for walks up the mountains with my dad. One of the best days we had at the start of the summer was a huge trip down memory lane for me when we climbed the sugarloaf in Wicklow and had a picnic on the top. The view is spectacular and Robbie’s words summed up the day perfectly “This is the best day of my life.” So take a trip to your nearest mountain or hill with a view for a picnic, you won’t be disappointed.

9. Drink The Rain Dance

Surely we can all remember a time when we opened our mouths to the sky to drink the rain and still have this as a fond memory. So the next time we have a downpour, which is likely to be very soon, get out there and do a rain dance in the muddy puddles with the kids. Get soaking wet, drink the rain, and laugh like you’ve never laughed before. When you’re all done get everyone in for a bath, hot chocolate and a movie night.

10. Wash the Car Day

No family photo album can ever be complete without a photo of the kids trashing your car with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water. You'll have hours of fun and your previously clean car will have lots of lovely water streaks all over it but it'll be worth it. Caution a trip to the car wash for one final rinse just might be required but the kids love that as well.

If you can recommend any other fun activities that can help create Magical Moments with the kids then please post them below, or on our Facebook page, or you can email them to me directly at

Don’t forget we need your help so please share the Magical Moments blogs with your friends and help make a hug!

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Follow Your Dreams

With love in your heart and belief in an Idea anything is possible. This week’s blog is about how Adam's books came to be.

As last Monday was my birthday I would like to start out by saying a big huge THANK YOU for all the beautiful birthday wishes I received. But some of you may not know that it was also Adam's 5th year Anniversary and the day that Adam’s message of love, laughter and play in the family hit me like a bolt from the sky with crystal clarity and what I needed to do to make sense of what had happened and survive the wreckage.

Exactly one year later, in an attempt to remember Adam, spread his simple message and help parents develop a strong loving relationship with their kids, 'Before You Sleep' was published.  So to create a small distraction for myself this week I thought I would write a bit about how Adam's books came to be.

Getting a book published by a main stream publisher is quite simply like winning the lotto.
For many different reasons I was desperate to have Adam’s books published, not because I wanted to be an important writer but because I felt I had something important to write.

I Initially tried a couple of publishers to see if they were interested in my book but quickly received very polite rejection letters if any at all.

I could not handle the fact that an entry level editor trying to make their name in the publishing industry had the power to decide my fate and the fate of Adam’s books so I decided to take control of our destiny and go for it myself.

So, with the help of a friend who had some experience in the publishing industry I identified 3 key things a publisher does that I would have to do myself if I wanted things to work out.

1. Finance my book
2. Gain distribution for my book
3. Market and promote my book

So off to the bank with a business plan and box number one was ticked.

Distribution was a bit more of a scary prospect.  However with the help of a great friend I got an introduction to the key buyer in a large distributor who believed in what I was trying to do and gave his full support. I contacted a second large distributor with no introduction and they also were very supportive and agreed to take the books in. Box 2 ticked.

With a desperate need for everyone to see Adam and know about how wonderful he was I got on the phone and started ringing TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines and told them my story, and followed up with a press release and photos of Adam. The response was amazing and word quickly got out about a beautiful book parents could read to their children before they go to sleep.

TV3 were the first to invite me on to Ireland AM, (you can see this interview below, sorry about the quality), and more appearances followed on the Late Late Show and BBC Breakfast.  You can see all of these in the media section on the Adams Cloud website.

A few months later “Before you Sleep” was nominated and against all the odds won the Book of the Year at the Irish Books Awards. An amazing night that I will never forget, but oddly, in hindsight, was just something that was always supposed to happen.

Of course there is a lot of detail behind the scenes but self-publishing Before You Sleep was not about the book as much about dealing with the loss of Adam and a way for me to remember some of the fun times we had together. You may be interested to read the first ever book I wrote. It is as yet unpublished but I thought I would post the unedited version here for you to read to the kids.  Just let me know if that is something you would like to see, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Of course none of this would have happened without the support, belief and encouragement from Jackie as she nursed our new baby Molly that changed our lives, and from Harry and Robbie who have demonstrated enormous strength, love and character over the years.

So I guess the message this week is that no matter how bad, desperate or impossible things seem with your family around you, with love in your heart and belief in an idea anything is possible, you just have to have the courage to make the change and make it happen.  Follow your dreams.

Lots of love, hugs & kisses,

P.S. If you are interested in self-publishing and would like any information or advice then just drop me an email at

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

When You Were a Baby...

The last time the Olympics were on in 2008 I pretty much saw every event live from China in the early hours of the morning and was lucky enough to watch Michael Phelps win each of his gold medals.  For me those Olympics were part of one of the most memorable moments in my life.

The reason?  Well of course it was not because of Olympic Champion Michael Phelps but rather my very own little champion, 6 week old little Molly Bennett who finished every bottle in record time as I fed her her midnight feed. It was truly amazing as I watched history being made in between back patting, tummy rubbing, nappy changing and the odd burp as trapped wind escaped from her tiny tummy. Little did I know at the time how happy Molly would make us all today.

4 years later by total coincidence Molly was sitting with me on the couch and I flicked on the Olympics only to see Phelps in the pool again. With Molly snuggled into me I began to tell her the story about when she was a baby she got very hungry in the middle of the night and how I would have to get up and give her lots of kisses, feed her a bottle, change her nappy and settle her down in the stillness of an early summer morning so she could get her beauty sleep just as the two of us watched the man on the telly win all his gold medals.

Then something really lovely happened, Molly decided to simply pretend she was a baby again and I acted out the routine of feeding her in my arms rubbing her tummy patting her back and giving her hugs and kisses just the way I did when she was a baby. She loved it and we had magical moment as Phelps raced up and down the pool chasing another gold medal.

Why am I telling you this story? Well simple really. I have discovered that the kids no matter how old love to hear a little story about when they were babies, what they did and what they said. They particularly love the funny stories involving wee, poo, barfing or how they totally embarrassed us poor old parents. Harry’s favourite story is the one of him escaping from a dressing room as mum was changing and streaking around a department store when he was 4. Hilarious!

So to create this week’s Magical moment and get those extra giggles hugs and kisses tell the kids a little story about when they were smaller, they will love it and get the chat and communication going from an early age.

Let us know your stories and the reaction you got from the kids when you tell them their little story. You can post them below, or on our Facebook page, or you can email them to me directly at

Don’t forget we need your help so please share the Magical Moments blogs with your friends and help make a hug.

Just in case you are interested here is a vid of Phelps winning his medals in China.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Magical Moments on the Beach

Well when I started writing this blog on Monday the weather was OK and looking good but the drizzle is back so while trying to keep the faith I am still hoping that you will all get a chance to get out and about this weekend in some nice weather.

So, with this in mind I thought I would suggest a couple of fun things to do on the beach.  Don’t worry if you don’t get to the beach because if you improvise slightly you can play all these games in the park, back garden or pretty much anywhere.

OK we all know the standard games that are great fun for the beach.  Football, building sandcastles and digging holes. But here are a couple of extra ones that I have played with the kids that are great fun and I have included a couple of short videos so you can get the idea. 

As always we love to hear your ideas and thoughts so keep them coming so I can share them with all the other Mums and dads and generate hugs and kisses through Magical Moments.

So here are my suggestions with instructions:

1. Beach Busy Dizzy Whizzy
  • Bury a packet of crisps, shell or other item that could be considered treasure and mark it with an 'X'.
  • Get a stick and draw a spiral in the stand. Start at the X in the sand and work your way out, the bigger the spiral the better. When you think the spiral is big enough continue on with your line and loop and bend it around the beach. When you have finished the end of your line is the start line for the kids.
  • Bring the kids to the start of the line and tell them there is some treasure buried at the end of the line but they have to follow the line and stay on it or the treasure will disappear. Add some more excitement by telling them that the treasure keeps moving around and they have to hurry before it disappears.
  • Let them off and have great fun watching them follow the line and get dizzy as the end up in the middle of the spiral with a bump and find their reward.
Check out this vid of my kids doing it, I forgot to put the treasure in but they love this game:

2. Beach Ball Bulls Eye
Ok this is really simple but great fun.
  • Draw a bulls eye target on the sand the centre circle is 100 points the middle 50 pts and the outside is 25 points. 
  • Build a big cone of sand about 5 meters away from the target and place a football on the top. 
  • The kids get 3 goes to kick the ball off the cone onto the target to get their points. 

3. Beach Cone Dibble Dribble
Develop those soccer skills with this fun beach game
  • Make 6 or 7 big cones out of the sad about 2 meters apart 
  • Set the timer on your watch and see who can dribble a football in and out of the sand cones to the end and back fastest time wins. 
  • You can add on 2 second penalty for hitting a cone or going the wrong way through the cones. 
Here is Harry doing it

4. Olympic Beach Long Jump
  • Make a line in the sand. 
  • Flatten the sand after the line so you can mark where the kiddies land. 
  • Longest run and jump wins.

5. Beach Buggy Buildathon
Let your design skills run riot with this
  • Dig two rectangular holes to fit two people in the front and two in the back you can go that extra mile and dig a step in the hole so the kids have a back rest to lean on and a foot well for their feet. 
  • Add the steering wheel using a bucket decorate the bonnet with seashells and add those go fast stripes using seaweed don’t forget the gear stick using your spade. 
  • When it’s all done see where the kids take you on your beach buggy journey.

6. Beach Hopscotch
I presume this needs no description but just in case all you need is a shell and your hopscotch mat drawn on the sand.
  • Draw your hopscotch boxes from 1 to 10 on the sand. 
  • Throw your shell on box no 1 and hopscotch to the top and back without touching box no 1 with your feet. 
  • On the way back standing on one leg you have to pick up our shell without falling over and hopscotch back to base. 
  • On your next go have to throw your shell into box No 2 and do the same again. 
  • The person to get the shell in all 10 boxes and hopscotch to the top and back each time without falling over is the winner.

I hope you have fun on the beach and if you've had any magical moments of your own that you'd like to share, (from the beach or anywhere), just post them below, or on our Facebook page, or you can email them to me directly at  Bye for now.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
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