16 from ’16 – a retrospective look at blogging through 2016

16 from ’16 – a retrospective look at blogging through 2016

2016 was certainly an interesting year, if I had to sum it up in one word I would say CHANGE! I certainly had lots of changes on both personal and work levels, but as I look back I realise they were all positive changes. Some still in progress. It was only when I reviewed my year in blogging, to join Where Wishes Come From blog linky, that I realised just how much has happened in this year. That is the great thing about a blog… it acts as a type of record or journal, documenting things that could otherwise so easily be forgotten.

So here is what 2016 looked like for Dr. How’s Science Wows…



The most popular post on the blog from 2016 is a personal favourite, How high do birds fly? This infographic brought Dr. Simple to a new level, when his twin sister was introduced. I really like the end result. It always surprises me how many people search this question on a daily bases, I hope the post is of some help to them.




It is really hard to pick a favourite post, it is almost like picking a favourite child. I love writing posts based on a question I have been asked and I particularly enjoyed this one What would happen if the Earth’s gravity suddenly disappeared? It was a question asked by my son and it got the whole family involved in what they thought would happen!



I tried a few different ways to share experiments this year, and I’ll cover that a bit later, but one of my favourite experiments on the blog this year was this one… Can water go uphill? It was great fun to set up and the resulting colours were so nice that I have to admit, we kept it on the counter for days as it was too nice to trow out. Definitely a cheery experiment for a dull day!




I tried a few new things out this year, some of which used FaceBook Live. I have to admit that some of the science kits out there drive me nuts! I have seen far to many that are little more than a box and a poorly written booklet, nearly all the materials having to be supplied by the poor person who has already spent money on the ‘kit’. I won’t go any further with that rant today, but, on the plus side, this prompted me to share a series of experiments that you can do at home using just a plastic bottle.

I used FB live to share a different bottle experiment each day, for ten days and then put them all together as my TEN SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS YOU CAN DO WITH A PLASTIC BOTTLE series; you can view them here and here. The videos are not very pretty or polished but I am proud of the fact that I did show how you can literally do ten experiments with a plastic bottle and I got some really great feedback from people who tried the experiments.



My titles are often pretty basic and self explanatory but I like this one, as it is a little different… What do Forrest Gump, horses and music have in common? It would intrigue me enough to want to click through and find out. (Go on, you know you want to!)

Horse at stable door



I have always wanted to do a children’s science magazine. I spent a lot of time looking into it in 2016. The project has since taken on a somewhat different direction but we’ll see what comes of it all. However, I did put together a simple, free, on-line mini-magazine here on the blog and I absolutely loved the experience! It is so lovely to have this space to create and test and experiment and, looking back over 2016, that seems to be exactly what I was doing.



You may have noticed that I have a new column with the Irish Examiner, called the Appliance of Science. Each column answers a question that I have been asked. I am really enjoying the column and exploring all the fantastic questions I have been sent. If I had to pick a favourite it would be my very first… Do Pigs Dream?

I always love receiving your questions so please keep them coming!



It was lovely to look back over all the photos I have shared, here, and on social media during 2016. There are so many favourites but this one in particular makes me smile.


It is exactly why I started Science Wows in the first place and the kind of science I most like to see. This  photo shows an impromptu bubble science session at the kitchen table. My youngest loves to go in to my science supplies and pick something to ‘experiment’ with. This day it was bubbles and they had free reign. I think you can see the interest and exploration written all over their faces. The best way to learn!



I was delighted to attend 2016’s Inspirefest. It certainly lived up to its name, I am still talking about the event and looking forward to attending again this year. If you are thinking about it at all, I would highly recommend it. Here is a little of what 2016’s event offered.



I was delighted to make it to the finals in the Irish Blog Awards (Science and Education Category) and had a fantastic time at the Circus themed Awards in September. My best blogging moment came however on 28th September when I won the Best Education Blog category in the Web Awards! All parents out there know how life with kids never goes as planned; so instead of hearing the news from the Award ceremony itself, I found out via twitter while putting a sick child to bed! Still, the celebratory ‘happy dance’ that the whole family did in the hall when I let out a shriek of delight makes a particularly wonderful memory for me for 2016.




I love doing posts with infographics and although I didn’t do as many I would have like in 2016, I still did a good few. Perhaps my favourite is this one… Do bugs fart? I created this infographic while my kids played outside this Summer and I heard their question come through the open door. True story! It is a simple, quick post but there are some cool facts included. And again, it surprises me how this too seems to be a common question for google! I guess we all really need to know!


Regular readers will know that I often do a series called ‘Mystery Creature’ where I post a photo of an unusual creature and readers guess what it is. At the end of the week I post the answer and a bit of information about the animal.

I have featured some amazing creatures over the years but perhaps my favourite from 2016 is this one… the Epaulette Shark, a shark that can actually walk on land!



We also have a fondness for frogs in this house. These little creatures are absolutely amazing! Although this post deals with a type of animal, rather than just one frog, it is another favourite in the animal section. These fifteen frog facts may just blow your mind!



Looking back over 2016 I am delighted that Dr. How’s Science Wows has featured many times in the media, in print, radio and TV and for that I am very grateful. It was nice to feature on the Nuacht in November as I brought my Science of Sound Workshop around schools in Galway for the Science and Technology Festival.

It also made me smile as I was quoted in an article all about the Science of Love for Valentines day!

Irish Mail on Sunday

But my favourite media mention this year was this one… Meadhbh Mc Grath highlighted another side of blogging in the Irish Independent Magazine in November and I was delighted to be included (with a lovely photo with my youngest as we play with slime!).



14.  A HIGHLIGHT OF 2016

You could argue that this one belongs in 2015 as that is when I did the work for it; I am talking about the children’s science programme ‘Is Eolaí Mé’. I was delighted to work on this 22 part series for Irish television, working with the amazing team at Fibín Media. As scriptwriter and consultant I got to be part of many elements of the show which was just a fantastic experiment. And finally, in September 2016 I got to sit down with my family and watch the programme on Cúla 4, TG4 for the very first time. I really loved every part of the experience and I honestly feel this is a great resource for school, educators and families. You can check out the full series herehere.


I definitely don’t think I had a common theme this year. I did try a lot of new things and there was a lot of change for Dr. How’s Science Wows so I guess I would use two words… EXPERIMENTATION and CHANGE!



In a year of flux and change the blog has been a constant. It is always a place to come back to when I am unsure of the next step. Over the years it has allowed me to develop my writing and expand my knowledge but, last year in particular, it allowed me expand into new, uncharted waters, while still providing a safe harbour when I needed it. Most of all, as I realised when I first started to write this post, it has provided me with a place to document and busy and adventurous year.

Here is hoping 2017 will allow some of these new adventures to move to the next level!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading, engaging, supporting and following along with the journey!


This post is part of a wonderful linky set up by Where Wishes come from. Click the badge below to check out her beautiful blog and all the other posts sharing their 16 from ’16.


The Realex Web Awards – A win for Science Wows

The Realex Web Awards – A win for Science Wows

Last week had some really big dates in my diary. On 28th September my youngest child turned seven…. and the Realex Web Awards were on in Liberty Hall Theatre in Dublin. It was a case of nothing on for weeks and then everything falling on the one day. I was looking forward to starting the day with the excitement of opening presents with a brand new seven year old and finishing the day with the excitement of the awards. Things don’t always go to plan though and when a sick child was thrown into the works it was time to settle for a virtual awards ceremony via twitter and the trending #RealexWebs16 hashtag.

So I made the school lunches with phone in hand, while following along with the announcement of each winner. I reluctantly put the phone away while I helped put the kids to bed, having extra cuddles and chats with the seven year old after his very exciting day. When all were tucked up in bed I took my phone up again. It was with great shock that I noticed Science Wows mentioned, as I scrolled through the tweets.


It took a moment to sink it and I was probably the only pyjama clad winner on the night, but it didn’t stop me celebrating! Everyone was back out of bed with all my excited shouting and there was lots of hugging and jumping about (that may have been me more than the children, but let’s include everyone in the activity for the sake of the memory!). Needless to say I was very shocked and very, very, pleased!


I set up Science Wows five years ago, and it has been a wonderful learning curve and a true labour of love. This website and blog have become a passion. I love that they provide a medium to share everything I want to share. A tool to talk, to design, to challenge, to experiment and to learn; and it is a two way communication. Sometimes it has been a lonely road but the highs have been great. For all the hours spent writing, or researching or testing are always balanced by the comments and the interaction and the feedback. And for this I am truly grateful. The feedback on the night of September 28th is more than I ever imagined.

Thank you all for the journey so far; for reading and interacting, for sending in your questions and ideas. For the support and encouragement and tips and advice. I didn’t make it onto the stage to thank you all on the night but I’d like to say it now!


I’d also like to say a very big thank you to David from A Tribal Vision for stepping in and accepting the award for me. The website shares a beautiful project, a series of interview conducted with some of Galway’s most creative and innovative individuals. Make sure to take a look.

The things that say ‘me’

The things that say ‘me’

I have kept a very ‘sciencey’ focus to my blogs for the last while; it was a deliberate and conscious move in a slow transitional way. However, some of my very favourite posts here are the personal ones and sometimes I do miss writing them. And then I read this lovely post by Awfully Chipper (objects of me), about all the little things that project her character and likes, that will trigger memories of ‘mom’ in her childrens’ minds. As I read, all my own little personal images popped into my head and I decided to join in.

So here you are, a personal post with not a bit of science in sight: The things that say ‘me’…


My daughter recently said to me…  “You look lovely today mum, even though you are not wearing stripes”. That says it all really. I was surprised initially by her comment, but one look in my clothes drawer reveals my love of all things stripy.



Red and spotty

Red and spotty

This item is new, but still very ‘me’. After a recent phone change, I asked my husband to buy me a cover. I told him which type I wanted, but as for the colour and pattern, I suggested he ‘surprise me!’ (Every husbands nightmare.) The man did good though. I was delighted when he returned home with this red, spotty cover. Along with my love of stripes, I also have a hankering for things that are red, or spotty… or both! This was emphasised when someone pointed out how coordinated I was one day… my scarf matched my phone! (I hadn’t even noticed.)



Speaking of scarves… I love them. I wear them most days of the year. Warm ones in Winter, lighter ones in Summer… but nearly always with a scarf.




I love, love, love elephants, such beautiful animals; For me, their sense of community and ‘love’ for their babies adds to their appeal; I began to collect little elephant trinkets many years ago. These little collections suddenly reached a critical mass, as other people noticed and suddenly it was ‘elephants’ for every birthday/Christmas/gift thereafter. I found myself with a house brimming with elephant paraphernalia, and the appeal waned. Over the years, my elephant stocks have dwindled to a small number of much-loved objects. My sister, who happens to have the best talent in the world for buying gifts, still manages to give me elephant themed gifts. They are subtle, they are beautiful, and I love them. These are some of my favourites.




Apparently a lot of food items popped up on this list when I asked my children for suggestions. They spoke of the dishes I make that they like the most, but pizza seemed to make it to the top of the list. No surprise really, as I have been making it every Friday night for more years that I care to remember.



Mammy’s smell

Don’t worry, this is not as bad as it may sound. I’m very sensitive to smells and it seems some of my children are too. My boys can literally tell if someone has visited the house while they were at school. My youngest says he loves the ‘smell of mammy’, sometimes he likes to curl up with one of my scarves because it smells of me. I remember that as a child too, the lovely comfort and safety in the smell of my mum and dad. If I wear an usual perfume he will comment that I don’t smell of me, and he doesn’t tend to like it much!




This was the nicest one of all. When I asked my daughter for a suggestion she said “when people respect me it makes me think of you, Mum“. What a heart melter! For that comment, I even let her drink out of my favourite mug – wouldn’t you?



They are my objects, an unusual mix when I look back on them. What would be on your list? If you want to read more, or join in, check out the lovely linky over at Awfully Chipper.

A week of despair – a day of hope!

A week of despair – a day of hope!

It certainly was one of those weeks… and I am not referring to the school return, I am referring to THAT picture.

A photo.

A small boy.

At first glance… another family photo on my timeline?

A closer look… a feeling of unease.

Realisation hit and a feeling of disbelief.

How could this happen?

His name was Aylan.

He was three.

I love that age…  walking, talking, infuriating, opinionated and a bundle of love and fun. Life is for living when you are three… and I can only imagine that is what Aylan’s parents thought as they put his life, and the lives of his whole family at risk, boarding that boat and grasping the small hope that, at the other end, lay a chance at life – at real living.

As a parent, how desperate do you have to be to take that chance?

I have spent the week asking myself that but, to be honest, I can only follow the thought so far… there are some things you never want to think about.

Then there was another image, that of Aylan’s dad, outside the morgue, collapsed against the wall. He began his week with a glimmer of hope, he finished it with utter despair.

My son spotted the photo of Aylan in a newspaper earlier in the week, as we stood in a shop queue.

I watched his expression… bewildered and questioning. He looked away, then, like many of us… he looked back. He looked up at me and as I waited for his question my brain was scrambling for the correct response.

How could I explain this atrocity to my son when I still couldn’t understand it myself? In the end he looked away … never working out what question to ask, and I understood how he felt.

Yesterday there was a new image… I watched the scenes unfold in Munich as the first Syrians arrived. They first appeared a little shocked,  who could blame them. But then smiles started to spread across their faces, finally reaching from ear to ear. How long had it been since they smiled a full smile? I am guessing they felt hope too, because that is what I felt as I watched. And I saw a small boy, like Aylan, in his father’s arms, with a face full of delight.

I know that the image of little Aylan, and his story, will stay with me forever. I hope the image of that small boy in Munich will stay with me too.

Now I finally feel ready to tell my son all about the boy in the photo. We will talk about the events and lives of families, just like ours, and we will decide together how we can help.

There are many options, here are just a few…

  1. Go to Uplift.ie to sign the petition urging the Irish Government to do more to help.  You can also find links to donate money from here, or even pledge a bed! For anyone in the UK you can sign a similar petition here
  2. There are numerous charities helping the refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea. Some of these include Medecine Sans Frontieres, Amnesty International, or Trocaire.
  3. You can join a virtual coffee morning – organised by the Irish Parenting Bloggers. Just click the link to find out all about it.
  4. You can spread the word in any way you can think of, join the blog hop mentioned below, if that is your thing or used social media ( we are using #ReadFeelAct) or word of mouth to tell anyone and everyone how they can help.



This post is part of a “blog hop” organised by the Irish Parenting Bloggers Group, in response to the current crisis and in an attempt to raise awareness and provide a few ideas and links for people who might want to help.

You can read what others have posted by clicking on the posts below.

[inlinkz_linkup id=560410 mode=0]

And then I see their faces…

And then I see their faces…

Some days … I struggle with the realisation that we are going to be late.

My pleas, requests and cajoles to get dressed, find shoes, brush teeth, comb hair go unanswered; I say it once, I say it twice… by the time I get to the sixth request I am feeling my blood pressure rise.

Ultimately we do get into the car, in some form of readiness but inevitably behind schedule. As I slam the car door and start the ignition the tirade begins. The words tumble out, one on top of the other, heating the air and creating a car full of friction. The more I rant the more obvious their silence… I am cross, I am frustrated and I am on a roll. I look in the rear view mirror and then I see their faces and I realise that dressed and on time are irrelevant when there is a game to play.

Some days… I remember that there is a talent to getting lost in play.


Some days… I’m cleaning the house with a steady grumble. They are old enough to clean up after themselves. ‘The floor is not a wardrobe’ I hear myself mutter, ‘I didn’t sleep in this bed so I shouldn’t have to make it’. The words just slip out of my mouth with a life all of their own. Eventually it is the sticks and stones that break the camel’s back, literally!  What could two small boys possibly need with so many of them (sticks not camels… obviously)… and why inside the house? That’s it, I’m throwing them all out… and then I see their faces and I understand that these sticks and stones are magical elements in the mind of a child.

Some days… I remember that unmade beds make amazing forts and clothes on the floor make great stepping stones across treacherous croc filled waters. And a house full of sticks and stones could be just the talisman needed to keep our home a sanctuary.


Some days… are long days. Bed time has come and gone, and gone some more. There is a path worn from sitting room to their respective beds. This is ridiculous! Can’t a parent get any down time? They have had all day to go to the toilet/ drink water/ finish that story, so why, oh why, do they save it all up for those bewitching hours? Limits are reached, more noises are heard, steps are stomping down darkened corridors one time too many. But actually they are all asleep… and then I see their faces and I forget all bedtime mischief.

Some days… I remember that we need to be well fed and watered before embarking on a night full of dream filled adventures.


And then there are some days when I am that child… and that is when they see my face… and they smile in solidarity!

The kids

The A to Z of me

The A to Z of me

I was tagged by the lovely Lucy over at Learner Mama for this post. The idea is that you share some facts about yourself, so here you go, 26 alphabetically biased facts all about me, me, ME …


A is for Aikido… it  kept me fit (once upon a time), supple and hopefully a little street wise; best of all it bagged me a husband. Now we both teach it at various levels (I just teach kids) and all our kids do it too… so we definitely keep this one in the family.

What do you mean you don’t know what it is? GOOGLE IT! tsk!

B is for biochemistry… it is what I got my degree in and it’s a pretty cool subject (honestly)… like biology on speed.

C is for children… I have three. They rock my world, sometimes literally… leaving me quite shaken but that’s all part of the fun of being a parent (right???).

D is for Diarmuid… that’s the aforementioned hubby, apart from being a fourth dan in aikido, an author and a therapist …. he is a fun, family guy and so far we are doing OK as we walk this parenting path together, often bleary eyed and baffled but never far from the next good old belly laugh!

E is for elephants… I love them; Once people realised this I got a LOT of elephant themed gifts. My house is now full of them so thanks everyone but, eh, I like other things too. (This does not apply to my sister who happens to buy the best presents ever and resurrected the elephant theme for my last birthday with some cool candles, a most gorgeous mug and my now number one favourite scarf!).

F is for France… I escaped there once I finally finished college (can’t emphasise FINALLY enough there, just ask my parents!). I spent a year and a half in a beautiful village outside of Paris, making the most amazing friends and eating the most amazing food (this tiny village had two patisseries… heaven!). Oh, and I worked too, obviously, ahem!

G is for genetics… the subject of my PhD and something I still find fascinating… that the code to all life’s amazing works and diversity can be written with just five small “letters” … I’m always in awe!

H is for horse riding, the sport that consumed my childhood. It was only when I had kids of my own I realised how much of my parents’ weekend time was dedicated to driving meto all the competitions. It obviously didn’t occur to me that they’d have anything else to do. Thanks Mum and Dad! H is also for Hyper Emesis Gravidarum, three time, enough said!

I is for imagination… it helps the world to keep turning and when I see it shining through people it amazes me. Einstein said it is more important than knowledge and I’d tend to agree.

J is for Jackie, my little sis (even though she is bigger than me now), the one who buys the wonderful presents and does a great job of taking life in her stride; and she had co-produced three wonderful, adorable kids so she is all round cool in my book!

K is for Kenya, I got to visit once; I saw elephants… did I mention how I like them?

L is for left handed… which I am, and so is my sister, and my son. I’ve never found it a problem or needed to buy special left handed utensils and just for the record… I think that all you right handed people have the knife and fork thing backwards… you should swap hands, just saying!

M is for Mid Summers Day… the day I got married (I picked the date to make it easier for my hubby to remember!!) and despite the fact that it was a “typical” Irish summer (read non stop rain), the clouds parted and the Sun came out and we had a cracker of a day; which was particularly helpful as it all took place in a garden, my parents’ one… with less than six months notice they turned a building site into a haven… thanks Mum and Dad… AGAIN!

N is for narcissistic … which this post seems to be!

O is for optomistic… I have my moments but I think I’m a “glass half full” kind of person, most of the time!

P is for PhD… the reason I spent all those years in college (the great social life had nothing to do with it whatsoever); P is also for parents… I got the best!

Q is for quiet, which I am, overall, I think (some people may disagree… so I will just have to make sure they don’t read any of this!).

R is for Rob, my big brother. A bit of a genius at many things and a generous soul. He is a fun uncle and co-producer of more great kids… my two lovely nephews!

S is for stubborn, I am. A bit. Sometimes. But mostly I see it as a good thing. When I get my teeth stuck into something I won’t let go; which brings me nicely on to…

T, which is for teeth… I’ve got strong ones apparently (and bones, come to think of it). It’s one thing I hope I have passed on to my kids… well not the only thing hopefully.

U is for University… I went to a great one in Galway (did I mention how long I stayed!) and met some wonderful people and learned some great life lessons. I also managed to get some qualifications while I was at it… what a bonus!

V is for visual, I love when information is shared in an interesting and eye-pleasing type of way. I think even complex ideas can be explained in simple terms with the right visuals. Some writing projects, and this blog, have allowed me play with this idea from time to time, which I love! I look forward to learning and experimenting in this area a lot more in the future.

W is for writing, which I love to do, although usually my writing has a more scientific theme.

X is for … an eXtremely frustration letter to try to define yourself by!

Y is for years, I have many of them under my belt now, I’d love to tell you that they have come with wisdom but they seem to just bring grey hairs!

Z is for Zebra, but are they white with black or black with white? (They are black with white stripes if you really, really need to know!).

And now to pass the baton, I tag “stuff and nothing” blog 🙂

Netflix Stream Team – some current family favourites and a look at a new release

Netflix Stream Team – some current family favourites and a look at a new release

We had no internet for 11 days.

11 long days! (Feel free to pause for a moment to take in the gravity of the situation.)

It was a stressful time! The children seemed nonplushed by the whole thing until they realised something… no internet means no Netflix. Suddenly they shared my distress. They were 11 tense days but thankfully we sorted the problem and we are all back in the land of WiFi.

The children jumped straight back in to some of their favourites…

The youngest member of the family kept threatening to come down with the latest bug that is going around his school so every day he came home really tired, and I expected he was under the weather, I allowed his a little bit of Netflix until his siblings came home. He just loves Bernard and when he is not chuckling along to his antics he is learning about science and nature from Wild Kratts (two zoologists travelling the world saving animals from all kinds of perils)…. I wonder where he got those kind of interests from?


All three children have been delighted with two recent Netflix releases… All Hail King Julien and Puss in Boots. It is great to get so many options that they all agree on considering the age range is from five to 11.


We had a busy midterm break (even though the children only had two days off school), there were very active days especially as their cousins came to stay. Their days were filled with adventures, real and imagined, all embraced with equal commitment. Netflix came in handy for some chilling out at the end of such busy days. They felt like they had their own home cinema as they kicked back with some popcorn and enjoyed such movies as Arthur and the Invisibles and Spy kids. They also got to re watch an old favourite Lemony Snicket: Unfortunate Events (a movie the whole family enjoyed).

The adults were not completely left out either, we got our Netflix fix too, getting hooked into a series called Heroes. We had to pause our viewing for the whole internet less period (did I mention how stressful that was?) and were really happy to resume when all was fixed. To add to the delight we had to buy a new tv (the old one we had was verging on antique and died around the same time as the internet). Every cloud has a silver lining though and we managed to get a great deal on a new SMART TV that streams Netflix directly now (no more fiddling with wii remotes).


Speaking of life without the internet (OK, I promise, I won’t mention it again!) there is a new comedy series launching on Netflix on 6th March… Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt;

After living in a cult for fifteen years, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper – The Office/Bridesmaids) decides to reclaim her life and start over in New York City.  Armed with just a backpack, light-up sneakers, and a couple of way-past-due library books, she’s ready to take on a world she didn’t even think existed anymore. Wide-eyed but resilient, nothing is going to stand in her way.  She quickly finds a new job (working for 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski), a new roommate (Tituss Burgess – 30 Rock), and a new beginning.

I have to admit that I find comedy great for unwinding after a long day. I am really looking forward to this series for a belly full of laughs to undo any stresses of the day that has gone by. And of course, laughter is the best medicine, there is even plenty of science to prove it!

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.



Imagining the New Year – time for some projections (a blog linky)

Imagining the New Year – time for some projections (a blog linky)

I saw 2014 out with a bit of reflection, now it is time to look forward with some predictions and projections (let’s call them anything but resolutions). My first thought when starting this was to keep it short and simple, I am doomed to fail if I make more than a few “changes”. Clearly I have failed already….  I finished up with ten! But they are necessary and they overlap… in places… if you look hard enough.  Just trust me and take a look!


OK, so I have learned that I can’t make more of it but I really have to work out how to manage it a lot better. This year my focus is on compartmentalising my time, dividing my day into its appropriate parts and then sticking to it. Working when I should be working, cleaning when I should be cleaning and most importantly, being a present and calm mum when my children are around me.

photo credit: darek.zon via photopin cc
photo credit: darek.zon via photopin cc



This leads me to the second point… to stay calm. I find that the further behind I slip on my to-do list the higher the stress levels.  Remembering to simply take a few deep breaths can quickly ease the stress… I just have to work on making it a habit!

New research shows that lungs are the primary excretory body for weight loss with a staggering 84% of fat burned off in the body released as carbon dioxide; this definitely gives me double the reason to remember to take some daily deep breathes in 2015.



No I am not starting an anti-drugs campaign, I just need to learn to use the word a little more (except when talking to my children, then, apparently, I use the word all the time). I have a tendency to just keep saying yes to every request, adding projects and tasks to my list, thinking I will manage.  This year I hope to be more realistic – taking on less and achieving more.



Sometimes a smile can fix everything. Even forcing a smile can create a fake it ‘til you feel it effect, reducing stress, boosting the immune system and even increasing attractiveness. I’m definitely in!



I am all about memories, I have even written about them here a few times. But sometimes I am so busy creating new memories that I forget to stop and remember the ones I already have. Technology is great… these days you can capture a moment with so many different devices and within minutes they are safe in some form of cloud storage. But that is where too many of mine are ending up… in the clouds! This year I hope to actually write moments down a little more or even print some photos out and update our wall art a little.

I even received a cool new present to help me out on this one… (once I have read the manual!)



6. ME, ME, ME

This one is predictable I know but we could all do with a bit more me time right? I plan to find simple ways to look after myself a little more which brings me on to…



This is usually where I fall down. I come up with some of the best plans that are going to turn me into everything I ever wanted to be. But then I fail! The secret, as I have finally learned is to keep it real. I know me well enough to know my own limitations. I have placed skipping ropes beside my laptop as I work (they go unused as the timer beeps).

I have failed to implement changes even when they involve things I actually want to do. So now I know I have to keep it simple… and do-able. Here is one example… every year I say I’ll dance more as it is something that really lifts my spirits, but I never seem to do it. But if I put on some funky tunes while I do the dishes then it might just work… I just can’t help but shake this booty when it’s all about that bass!



This will be my hardest challenge. If anyone had to ever spend more than a few moments in my head (*shudder) they would agree. But time (there it is again) is moving quickly and my babies are growing fast. I have so much in life to be grateful for, I just want to take the time to enjoy what I do have, when I have it.

It just so happens that my other half trains people in mindfulness meditation… I think it is about time I tap that resource and find out what it is really all about! This time next year I could be a whole lot more zen baby!



Corny I know but we all succumb to self doubt, right? Some more than others, maybe. It has certainly been knocking on my door of late; but I have some new ideas for Science Wows … some big plans for 2015 and although they fill me with both fear and excitement I am determined to give them a shot. I’m ready to dive right in and hopefully when I look back at the end of the year I will have reached the shore.



We all have traits within ourselves that are perhaps not the kind we like to brag about. I have come to acknowledge and accept mine (or most of them). It seems they are not for shifting, so instead I am planning to use them to my advantage. I am planning to put my pig headed (teeth gritting) stubbornness to good use… and call it tenacity. Last year I used it to increase my fitness, change my diet and even slim my waist a little. I may have slipped off that wagon but knowing I have the tenacity to do it makes me look forward to taking on the same challenge in 2015.

I also have a bit of a hang up with anything to do with numbers. Getting those five a day into my kids used to literally keep me awake at night. If I don’t keep myself in check then blog stat watching can get to obsessive levels. This year I am planning on using this numerical OCD to my advantage, by tracking my daily activity. Another nifty present I received over the festive season will hopefully allow me monitor movement, activity, sleep and all that jazz.  Once I can get some numerical feedback there will be no stopping me… with daily, and even hourly targets to set myself I can change my figure while watching the figures (sorry couldn’t resist that one).


This post is part of another linky… a great idea from the wonderful Busy Mama blog with the theme of Imagining the New Year. Click on the image below to see what other people have in mind for 2015… well worth a look.


14 from ’14 – a little blog reflection

This time last year I was deciding whether to continue blogging, or not, and now another year has gone by and I am so glad with my decision. This year blogging has really become a way of life, an integral part of me; when I lived in France (sooo many years ago) I knew I had made a leap in learning the language when I started thinking in French. I felt the same way this year about blogging, I realised I was ‘thinking in blogs‘.

So, time to reflect on my second year of blogging and what better way than to take in the 14 from ’14 blog linky by the wonderful Sadhbh from Where wishes come from blog. It has been a good year, here is the journey…


The most popular post on Science Wows this year was this one…. “Does sound travel faster in warm or cold air?” It seems this is a burning question for many people!

The most popular experiment on the blog was this one.


It is very hard to pick a favourite but if I could narrow it down these are my top three…

Mum, marigolds and memories… Mother’s day gave me the opportunity to tell my Mum just how much she means to me!

The Science of Imagination – is it more important than knowledge?… you only have to watch children at play to observe the wonder of imagination. It is a subject that fascinates me, especially since I became a mother. This post was in my head for a long time and finally I got to put it all together in once post. I was happy with the results and the response from others too.

Three little words… sometimes the blog acts as a diary of important moments and events. Writing them here I have somewhere safe to store these memories. This is just one simple example.


They say a picture tells a thousand words and to me this picture says it all; the people I love in a place I love during a wonderful and memorable family day out this Summer.  It was included in a post where I let the pictures speak for themselves.

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This year we were very lucky to go to the Carlow walking festival as part of a blogging tour set up by Green and Vibrant. It was such a great experience it required two posts to cover it all… as we got to go on a canoeing safari and a family cycling trip, all in one weekend.

Helping with the lock


We had so much fun in the Science Wows house this year creating and testing experiments to share on the blog. Most of them are found on the Fun Friday spot; Again it was hard to pick just one so here are my top three from 2014…

I was not even sure this one would work but as I was set the challenge by Dee Sewell from Greenside Up  I had to have a go and was really pleased with the results!

The rose gets a make over

At Halloween we decided we wanted to make our own glow in the dark slime, we were all delighted with how our recipe worked and it has been a big hit with children and adults alike! It was great to receive photos and message from people who had tried this one out with their children too!

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We had a real laugh with this one… especially when I offered it up for dinner in the Science Wows house!

Green eggs and ham
Green eggs and ham


There have been some unusual search terms that lead people to my blog… here are my three favourites from this year…

How many hugs a day do you need to survive?” – I really love how important hugs are to that person, literally life or death, I like the way they are thinking! I suspect this was the post they found.

Maggot hair rabbit extraction“… I have absolutely no idea what that search term means nor do I know which post it lead to!

Goblin juice density” … I imagine that search arrived here but unfortunately there was no recipes for Goblin juice to be found, even worse, no reference to its density!


I am sooo delighted when I see a comment pop up on my blog so a huge thank you to everyone who has commented this year! Some of my blogging highlights include a number of articles for The Journal; It was a great experience for me but as always, when you put yourself out into a bigger domain you open to all kinds of comments. For the most part I was lucky with the comments I received. My favourite comments were in response to this article on appreciating the simple moments in life!

The post on the blog that received the most comments was this one, part of Learner Mama’s blog linky on lessons of parenthood!


There were BIG moves for Science Wows this year… in February I moved the blog from blogger to Word Press, and amalgamated it with the Science Wows website as well. It was definitely a good move, but took a lot of time to get used to!


Apart from the BIG change to Word Press there were other changes around here. A new character arrived on the scene in June, the every-geeky Dr. Simple was created to answer a science question in just 30 seconds. I was delighted with the very positive response he received and plan on having him around a lot more in 2015!

Dr. Simple
Dr. Simple

I also created a “school corner” on the blog; although I had a good idea of how I wanted it to look it took a good bit of tweaking to create what I had in mind. I love a good challenge and am very pleased with the end result.


There were many but top of the list was probably making it to the finals of the Blog Awards Ireland, in the Education Category and attending the awards in Clane in October. I got to meet up with many bloggers I had previously only know virtually.It was a great night and a great blog high to get that far!

This year something I wrote got a mention on Ryan Tubridy and lead to an on line interview on The Spin 103.8 radio. I even had five seconds of fame with a tv appearance on RTE junior during Science Week.


As I mentioned, there were radio interviews and a tv appearance for me this year, leading to the most bizzare blog related moment in 2014. The radio interview with The Spin 103.8 was conducted by phone from Mallorca and required me to literally hang out of a top floor window in order to get a good mobile reception;


I do not come up with the most creative of blog titles but perhaps a favourite is “Like the scientists on da telly” a tongue-in-cheek look at the reality of life in a lab compared to how it is portrayed on tv.


The great thing about the blog is that it has reintroduced me to another hobby of mine, graphics and design. I had great fun designing logos and layouts and creating Dr. How and Dr. Simple. This year I have dipped my toe into the world of infographics. Nothing too big or complex but enough to light up my creative side. I hope to expand on this in 2015 but my favourite so far is this one… “Should we be burning plastic? That is the burning question!”


When I look back over this year of blogging I am really happy with what I see. The new blog design and format are still a work in progress but I am pleased with the way the blog is developing. Writing for The Journal and talking on the radio are certainly nice achievements from my second year of blogging. For me though, the best thing about the blog is the people it has introduced me to; this year I got to meet some virtual friends “in the flesh” and they were even more lovely than I imagined. That it is why I love getting comments and interactions through the blog, either directly here, or through social media. It makes the experience of blogging more interactive, more alive and more human.

So thank you all for your support, encouragement, questions and comments through 2014… without you all this blog would just be words on a page. Your support and interaction give my words a new dimension and this year I hope I get to meet even more of my virtual friends.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2015!


This post is part of a blog linky hosted by Where Wishes come from, one of my favourite blogs by a very creative lady! There are many great 14 from ’14 posts included in the linky, just click on the image below to check them out… that’s my new year’s day reading sorted 🙂

Where Wishes come From


Christmas memories (a seasonal linky)

Christmas memories (a seasonal linky)

As a child Christmas was always my favourite time of year. As an adult I think it still is… the lists, the planning, the choosing of gifts, the food, the lights, the parties…. and the tree. My husband seems to think that if I was left to my own devises our house would look like an exploded Christmas cracker! I will concede that Christmas may be a time for going a little over the top… from food and festivities to (over) decorating! For me Christmas is also about memories…. The recent ones, the distant ones, and the ones we have yet to make! One common feature in many of my own Christmas memories is the Christmas tree.

photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc

My very first memory contains a Christmas tree… it was my third birthday and I remember sitting by it, playing with a newly received present and turning my back on all my little party friends.

For many years as I grew up, Christmas day meant a big breakfast in my Nanny’s house. My Nanny was a wonderful woman with a very big heart and a very small house but she always filled it with family. She had 35 grandchildren and instead of buying each and every one a gift, she would let us pick something from her Christmas tree that she would fill with lots of little trinket. One year in particular stands out for me…. I picked a little satin purse with the image of a little girl on it. That little purse has stood the test of time and every year since has had a place on our Christmas tree. Even now as I am all grown up and have a tree of my own, I always take a moment, as I place it on the tree, to remember the wonderful woman who gave it to me.

Fast forward a few years and I got the chance to buy and decorate my very first Christmas tree. I was in my early twenties and sharing a house with two other student friends. We all decided we had to have a REAL tree to get the full effect and got a little carried away while choosing it (they DO all look a lot smaller when viewed outdoors!). We chose the biggest tree we could find but had to cut half of it away just to get it in the front door. Another few branches had to be trimmed to get it into our tiny sitting room and still more to stand it upright. We could hardly fit into the room with it but oh how we loved that tree. The closest we could come to Christmas carols was a Bing Crosby CD we found so we played it on a loop and danced around the house decorating every surface we could find. Perhaps inspired by my Nanny and her “TARDIS” like home, that little house held many a Christmas party, bursting at the seams with the number of people contained within… and always under the twinkling lights of an oversized, over decorated tree.

These days the student Christmas parties have been replaced with more family friendly celebrations. We love putting up the tree together – we are still getting a very large tree but at least the tree can actually fit in the door of our family home. As the boxes of decorations come down from the attic the excitement increases… a treasure trove of memories just waiting to be rediscovered.  We decorate and marvel at our carefully chosen tree, with Christmas carols blaring in the background and hot seasons drinks and treats to add to the festive fervour. Adding to the Christmas glow is the knowledge that we are creating new Christmas memories for us all.

Every year, as we decorate the tree, myself and my husband chuckle away as we recall a Christmas memory our first born son created for us. When he was one he became truly fascinated with the big tree with the sparkly lights that his parents placed in the corner of the room. Whenever he could escape he would sit under the tree and placing a Christmas light in his mouth. We would turn around to see a little boy sitting quietly, his two cheeks glowing from the bulb.  He used to have such a serene and contented look on his face.

This Sunday we will all go together to pick our tree and spend the afternoon decorating, admiring and remembering. We will prepare for the big event by making our own new decorations to add to the tree, a fairly new tradition we have kept up over the past few years.

Homemade Crystal decorations
Homemade Crystal decorations

Perhaps this Christmas, we will create another new memory or two to carry fondly with us into future Christmases, yet to arrive. Memories are great stories to share so that is why I am inviting you all to share some of your Christmas memories with me. If you want to join in this seasonal linky just write your post and click on the blue button below to add it to the list. There is even a badge (below… just click, save and use) you can include in your post. Of course you don’t need a blog to get involved, feel free to add your memories to the comments below!

If sharing these linky posts on social media please use the hash tag #christmasmemories.


Add the linky badge to your blog post
Add the linky badge to your blog post

I hope you all get to make many happy new memories this Christmas too!