Happy New Year!


The year 2011 is coming to a close and I look forward, as always, to ringing in a brand New Year.
It's a chance to start afresh, with plans and best intentions to do things better. Or differently, perhaps.
It's a chance to look back, at the year we're leaving behind and maybe rejoice at the positive and learn from the rest.

On a personal level our year gave us a lot to be happy about and grateful for.
Although our local Panto of 15 years standing is no longer we remember the joy it gave to many over the years.
It will be missed by many but mostly by the local community.

We enjoyed  a holiday, many outings  and lovely times spent  with friends.
We proudly watched our son  grow up some more this year.
We reminisced about our missing dog and welcomed a puppy to our home, for a short while.

We dealt with problems that came our way.
They seemed big at the time yet have faded into the memory banks now.
We narrowly avoided another house flooding and were reminded of the wonderful local community we have.

We got together to fight to protect our homes.
Our special needs community got together to fight against drastic SNA cuts.
I fought that battle here on my blog and on a radio station.
My small contribution to this ongoing issue.

On a National level it's been a tough year.
Our Government does everything our European counterparts ask, while we the people suffer the effects.
Globally things are worsening , yet no thanks or relief is offered to our abiding nation.
 

We had some good times too with visits from the Queen  and Barack Obama.
We had fun watching Jedward 'robbed' of a Eurovision win!
We rejoiced in Ireland's soccer team qualifying for Euro 2012.

May 2012 be a good year for us personally and nationally.
May we realise the value of our local communities and treasure them.
May we finally realise that we the people are on the same side.
Although the grass may seem greener on the other side, it very rarely is.

May 2012 be the year we come together as one, strong nation and effect change.
May Ireland put the ball into the other team's net!
May our streets be covered in green and our ears ring with sounds of Ole Ole Ole....Ole, Ole!

 Lets go forward to 2012 with strength and positivity.

A very Happy New Year  to you all.

Now, let's ring those bells and welcome in 2012.


xx


Note: Photo credit to flicker.com




Christmas Catch Up...

It's been a lovely Christmas here at Chez Jazzy. we spent the day itself with family and have been just hanging out ever since. Which is kind of nice, given the mayhem that came beforehand! Will I never learn? I even took a break from all online activity.... go on, pick your jaw back up off the floor! Yes, I can do it! I find It's very hard to get back into when you do though!

By the way, I DID rock that red dress in the post linked to above! However, I will need to lose a few Christmas lbs before I dare rock it again! I had a great night out that night, and as I watched my almost 70 year old relative (and her 60/70+ year old friends) I vowed to be just like them, when I grow up ;-)

Since my ode to my birthday boy we've had his birthday party just before Christmas Day. As he just couldn't wait any longer, the 'most specialist boy in the world got his most specialist birthday present' two days beforehand.....
 
                                    The coolest laptop..... Red, of course!

And his party, even though it was a very small one (at his insistence) it was also a very successful one. Thank God! He loved it and wants the same again next year. Turns out small parties are the best! How very grown up....

I was all set this year to enjoy the last magical year that Santa will visit this house and hoped that no-one would tell him in the last few days! I know he's very grown up my WiiBoy, but he still believes and I'm not ready to lose the magic of Santa just yet. So, even though I forgot to leave out goodies for Santa and Rudolph,  he still came with all the requested xbox- related gifts and a very non-fizzy Soda Stream , of all things! Turns out it takes more than a soda stream to put the fizz in MY drinks ;-) I was woken up at the unearthly hour of 2.15am to go check if Santa had arrived and my boy was very happy indeed that he had, but he was notably not ecstatic. See, he IS growing up..... sigh. I'll have to tell him!

Unfortunately we had problems renewing Xboxlive on Christmas Day. He entered the code and nothing happened. Thinking it might take a few hours to activate the code we were disappointed to see it unresolved when we checked again the following day. But, never fear, the wonderful helpers @XboxSupport were there to guide us to a successful outcome. Except that, despite their best efforts, they couldn't and we had to phone the support phone line today. In the course of that conversation I copped that he'd only scratched off one code (for the free gift) and not the other one! How embarrassing! Also in the course of that conversation I was asked where did you buy the card? You can guess what happened next, can't you?

See, the correct answer would have been 'Santa brought it' with the right inflection in my voice on the word Santa, instead of a wink, to relay that a certain 12 year old was standing right beside me. But, oh no, I totally forgot and answered honestly. He responded immediately... 'WHAT??... you bought it??....but....but...'

Oh crap...

Still, I had said before Christmas that I would tell him before he went back to school as most of his classmates will probably know anyway. So, this is actually good timing. Get it over and done with. Time to 'fess up. Right?

So, after some time he comes and asks me about it again and I braced myself to tell the truth, turned to him and....... lied!!

Oh crappity, crappity, crap crap!!

I've really messed up now!

And  he's going to a birthday party tomorrow. I could land myself in some very hot water yet!

Or, it may all just work itself out? Before secondary school starts would be nice!

Meanwhile, we have some fun events and meet-ups planned to keep us occupied for the rest of the Christmas holidays.

And we have a Christmas cat that seems to have adopted us. She's gorgeous....




She can't stay though as she kinda likes Sunny, our budgie...



.No, he's NOT on the dinner menu no matter how cute the strays that keep calling here are!

Is there a sign on our door I wonder?

The Jazzy Animal Rescue Shelter.... only cute animals need apply !!

I'd better take it down before the next visitor arrives!


xx



Twelve Candles



Twelve Candles to celebrate
Each year of your life,
May your birthday today
Bring you joy, no strife.

From baby to pre-teen
You've journeyed through life's maze,
And are becoming a unique person
That never ceases to amaze.

Twelve badges of honour
Earned in your Game of Life to date,
Each step of the way
Strewn with your many amusing traits.

You're funny, witty and
An entertainer of girls,
You can be serious and mature
With flashes of wisdom like pearls.

You're creative, a thinker and
Your ideas can make me step back,
Then you break into one of your funny acts
That really, really make me laugh!

You're a son in a million
And a good friend too,
Go on with your life's journey,
Holding your head high as you do.


Happy Birthday son!


xx

This was written for my son's 12th birthday,  22nd December 2011

Lights Out



Friday night 8pm and considering options for a non-screen family night in.

What to do, what to do?


Head for sitting room to encourage co-operation from son,

Thinking, thinking...


When suddenly the lights go out and the whole house is pitched into an inky blackness.

Somewhere outside house alarms are pealing in competition and the neighborhood is completely shrouded by the black dark.

What to do, what to do?


Initial shock is replaced with excitement of the relative rarity of the occasion, as we plan...

What to do, what to do!


Candles are quickly sourced and lit with the help of the battery operated Christmas decoration lights.

A fun Lego-man torch is found and the fun begins..


We three snuggle in our snuggies on the sofa whispering quietly in the magical candlelit darkness.

We make silly shadows in the wall courtesy of Mr Lego-Man.

We three become two as one leaves the party to head out through the dark night.

Now, what to do, what to do?


It's quickly becoming colder so we snuggle deeper in our snuggies.

Shall we tell scary stories? Make Them up ourselves perhaps?

No, son wants to hear stories of my 'old days',

Sigh.


I regale him as best I can and we chat about this and that.

It's getting very cold now so we decide to go to bed early. Mum and Dads bed tonight, for comfort and warmth.

We dive under the duvet in fleecy pajamas and place our snuggly snuggies over the bed.

We are quite cosy in the carefully candlelit bedroom.


We chat some more as we munch on Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers, learning that one does indeed lead to more.

The chat inevitably turns to the current favorite conversational topic.

He offers to build me a house and we discuss the choices I have.


A cosy cottage or a fort?

Oh, a cosy cottage I think.

Of red brick or wood?

Do you want some crops?

A crafting table?

Yes please, 

There's probably no electricity in Minecraft world either.


I thank him for offering to build me this virtual house.

He's happy

I'm happy

No screens needed here for either of us.


Then suddenly,  as unexpectedly as they left us, the lights return.

Intruding on the magic...

What to do, what to do?


That's easy...

We Turn off the lights, blow out the candles and stay in our cosy cocoon.

xx




NOTE: Image credit: canstockphoto.com

Stop This Christmas Rollercoaster... I Wanna Get off....NOW!


This post is a quickly thrown together one in a manic attempt to explain my frantic life at the moment and my absence from blog writing and visiting. It is also a timid attempt at a humble apology for not being around much.

Oh, I do get stressed this time of year as I go about doing everybody's (and I do mean everybody's) Christmas shopping for them and really it's ridiculous. I mean I don't even have 175 screaming adorable Panto children to teach this year!

In fairness it has been a tough couple of weeks here. My infamous Asthmatic cough-from-hell came to visit again about a month ago and has totally outstayed it's welcome. Well, not that it was ever really  welcome in the first place! It is a particularly persistent cough this time around and resistant to serious doses of inhaler and steroid tablets. It has warranted numerous trips to my very concerned GP who sent me for an urgent appointment with a good Consultant who prescribed an even more serious course of steroid tablets. I suspect I shall be sporting a beard by Christmas, a white one, and singing Ho, Ho, Ho in a very deep voice!. Hospital tests were organised and duly worried and fretted over. Good God, what a very scary couple of weeks. Totally stressed me out..... so much so that the consultant had to administer two doses of sedation and still I recall  every minute of the bronchoscopy! The initial results are encouraging but the CT scan results are pending. I suspect some kind of lung infection to be honest. Fingers crossed PLEASE that it's no more than that.

On top of all of that my WiiBoy is having a very difficult time in school at the moment. He is upset and quite confused I think at this stage. He no longer knows how to deal with it all or the correct responses to give, as the traditional ones (that he's learned) are not working. My heart is breaking for him. I think it's even affecting his decision making as he only wants a very small birthday party next week which is quite unusual.

 However, it's now my job to smooth the way and make next week the best one EVER. He wants a very special birthday present. So The Waiting Game has begun anew and sleeps are being counted to the day before his birthday. He can't possibly wait one day more as he must have it all up and running in time. The problem is there's no room in his bedroom for it.  So, Jazzy here, the Queen of Disorganisation,  got her messy head into his room today and somehow managed to change this...



 To this.....




Now I know it may not look much but it took 2 hours to do the whole room and now there's room for the most specialist birthday present for the most specialist birthday boy in the world :-)

Obviously due to my illness I have missed a lot of Christmas shopping days and I'm stupidly panicking! Of course, now that I'm  a bit better WiiBoy is now home sick from school!! Aaarrrggghhh. It was in this frame of mind that I headed out this evening to sort out the big birthday present, a coveted Santa goody and some other stuff. This Queen of Disorganisation even had a list! I also had a 'moment' on the way and nearly had myself an accident turning onto a busy road as I misread the traffic  lights. I had words with myself....

Okay... that's it. No more. This is beyond ridiculous. NOTHING is worth this crap. It's only fecking Christmas for crying out loud. This is NOT what it's all about. Wake up Jazzy.... chillax. Your child still believes in Santa! How lucky are you?! You have one last year to enjoy the magic of a Santa believer! Don't screw it up and miss the magic. He also turns 12 next week, his last birthday as a pre-teener. You definitely don't wanna let that flit by you! Get a grip girl...

Right, back on track and in a much better frame of mind I arrived at the shops and in a very organised manner I got through said list and nailed the important stuff, in one hour .  Look at the lead photo, that's 5 pressies wrapped under the tree now, finally!!Yessssss! There's lots  more to be done and that will happen.....soon....whatever! Chillaxed, see?

I was a bit disappointed though as I had hoped to pay a quick visit to TK Max to buy a little number for a little overnight party I'm going to on Saturday night. Yes, I said overnight party!! Whoop! I sheepishly arrived at 8.55pm expecting a 9.00pm closing, but as I cheekily asked to go into the fitting room I was told closing was 9.30. Excellent.... there is a God! A quick dash back to the rails was made to secure more dresses to try on!

My previous chat with myself  must have worked as I was in a much more positive frame of mind, trying on these lovely cheap dresses. Well, either that or I totally believed the lies that the skinny dressing room mirrors told me! Either way I had another 'moment' in that dressing room. And it was way more fun than my earlier one!!

You see *ahem*... I was trying on this sizzling, red hot, figure hugging little number when my favourite Christmas song came on over the speakers....just as I was zipping it up. Now, I challenge you to listen to this song and not do what I did....



Oh, how I wiggled, posed and pouted in my red hot dress in that dressing room!!! Oh, how I hoped there were no security cameras in there!! There's not... right??!

Oh, how I thought... I can't get away with wearing this? Can I?

The hell I can! I bought the damn dress and I don't care if I can't bring the skinny dressing room mirror with me on Saturday night I am gonna rock that dress, ya hear me? Rock it!

I wonder if they'll play my song at the party?

I hadn't had any wine in the dressing room, you know. Just saying, like.

All together now...

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree for me..
I've been an awful good girl,
Santa baby,
Hurry down the chimney tonight..

Oh yeah, Santa Baby...... BRING IT ON!!!

I can take it ;-)

xx




PS.. I will catch up on your blogs soon.... promise!








A Night to Remember....


We had one of our traditional Christmas nights out last night, one that I look forward to each year as I get to catch up with some ex-work colleagues. My attendance could not be confirmed until the last minute, which meant a frantic search for a last minute sitter. An excellent one stepped up to the plate and as I drove him down to Grandad's house I thought, what a great opportunity for WiiBoy to spend some quality time with him. That thought sparked some spontaneous memory flashes, tripping through my brain as I drove...

Thinking of the many weekends I spent on sleepovers in my Nanny's house as a child. How we all loved our Nanny and adored our sleepovers with her, on our own or in small groups. A memory, like a Kodak moment popped into my brain.... four of us head-to-toe in a double bed with Nanny in the single bed beside us. The giggles as we chatted and teased each other! The laughter at my brother's antics, blessed as he was amongst us little women. Then we'd  quieten down when she sang to us.... 'When the red, red robin goes bob, bob bobbing along....along...' (the clean version!) We'd join in in the chorus and then clamour for 'more, Nanny MORE...' And Nanny would continue to entertain us. We'd eventually fall asleep,  really late. It was probably only 10pm but to us we felt we were awake for hours! Simple times... lovely memories.

Our Nanny was an amazing Dublin woman, a Liberties Lady who had a difficult life as she was widowed as a young mother of 9 children aged from 4 to 12 years old. Left to raise them in a 2 bed council house on a meagre soldier's pension. Not easy and we think we have it hard? She herself was born, in the early 1900s weighing an incredible and unheard of 15lbs, into a large family living in a flat in Dublin's Inner City. I always remember her telling us how, as a child, she heard the first gunfire shots when the 1916 rising started that Easter Monday....

With WiiBoy happily ensconced with Grandad and his dog I made the dash home to get ready and leave the house in double-quick time for my rendezvous with Mr Jazzy and co. We couldn't find the restaurant we were looking for and as we walked further down Dublin's Aungier Street we headed deeper into a Dublin Inner City area and even deeper still into the recesses of my memory banks....

As we passed by Whitefriar Street Church I was instantly brought back to more childhood occasions. I see my mother's uncle, my great-uncle K and my Nanny's brother-in-law; a tall old man full of character and stories and totally toothless, who lived in a flat down the lane beside the church with his sister. He was an amazing man who played Santa for my mother and her siblings every Christmas as there was no money for presents. He brought them to the Gaiety Theatre panto every year too. A tradition that was continued in time with us grand-children. I then thought of his sister, my Great-Aunt S, who was a seamstress in the very upmarket Switzers store on Dublin's Grafton Street. A very high profile job in those days. I can't remember her face now, she passed away well before him, but I do remember the clothes she made for us. Especially the dress and fur jacket she made for my December Holy Communion. I also remember how she was a very last-minute kinda gal, who apparently liked her tipple, and the panic as said dress was not delivered until the very night before my big day! Oh she was a character, our great Aunt S... I recall that she liked to sing and dance also ;-)

However, it was the church that held some special memories that I'd recently shared with my WiiBoy. Whitefriar Street church is where my mother would get the bus across town to every so often, just to get some of their Holy water. Whether she believed their holy water was holier than anywhere else's is anyone's guess! Whitefriar Street Church is also where the remains of St Valentine are held in a specially created shrine. Most years, on or near my St Valentine's Day birthday I'd be brought to pay my respects to my patron saint....and to get some more of their holier than thou Holy Water! Great -Uncle K ate his dinner out in a local cafe every day and I distinctly remember one birthday meal treat taking place in that recommended Diner. Turned out that calling it a Cafe or Diner was being way too generous. I reckoned, at that young age, as I waded my spoon through a bowl of soup swimming in grease, that the correct term for such an establishment was definitely a Greasy Spoon..... shudders. I did take a look for a dodgy looking cafe but it thankfully no longer exists!

We eventually found the very nice restaurant we were searching for and joined our party, where we had a lovely night reminiscing with friends.

I wondered, nay hoped, that we were setting up some special memories for WiiBoy too and maybe even a new tradition has begun for him.

A boy should spend some quality time with his Grandad.....

xx



Note: Photo credit: cliparttoday.com

A Walk in the Park.




The elderly couple tread gingerly through dying autumn leaves that feel crunchy, like cornflakes, under their shuffling feet.


They spot a Victorian styled wrought iron bench, in a sheltered wooded bower and slowly they approach it, so that they may rest their weary bones.


He takes out a clean, white handkerchief with which to dry the tiny spot of mould that sits on the bench, bleeding through the dappled droplets of rain from an earlier rain shower.


They both ease themselves down in silent companionship. She smoothes her clothes then takes his hand, weathered with the spidery veins of his advanced years, into her own as they sit in their peaceful spot.


The air is crisp and the late autumn sun feels silky against their upturned faces.


A strange aroma invades their senses, a musty odour with the tiniest hint of an oaky scent.


Suddenly, they hear a rustle from the trees behind them and turn to see a small woodland creature peep at them through the rustic leaves tinged with the russets and golds of the autumn season.


He helps her up from their peaceful spot and they slowly weave their way through the crunchy leaves once more.


Homeward bound, with thoughts of their warm, welcoming fire calling softly to them....


xx




NOTE: This was a short prompted piece,  led by the words: cornflakes, crispy, smooth, silky, dry, oaky, rustic, musty, crunchy, mould, strange, rustle, dead, veins and sports large' L' Plates!!



#Silent Sunday










xx






#Silent Sunday









xx

The Week of the Great Escapes...



Yes, it was indeed the week of the Great Escapes. Well, mostly a week of great escapes that is.

It started on Tuesday as I made a heroic yet frantic attempt to dash through my day's manic to-do-list so that I could escape my at times frenetic home life in time to attend a twitter- themed Book launch. That is a deliberately long and unpunctuated sentence, so that you truly understand how crazy it can be trying to make an early escape from Chez Jazzy! The last minute doing of homework, making of dinners, timing of Darts (our suburban trains) whilst simultaneously attempting to beautify oneself is NOT for the faint hearted! But I did it and even made the early Dart into town. Although that did involve some last minute shoving of WiiBoy into the car while I drove like a maniac carefully to the Dart station to execute a perfectly timed parental-duty handover to Mr Jazzy, informing him that his freezer-leftovers gourmet dinner was in the oven as I hopped aboard the timely arrived Dart!

 The Dart journey allowed a much needed breathing space, so that I could arrive fresh-faced in my head anyway to meet the lovely Nan P at the equally lovely Maria Duffy's launch of her first novel Any Dream Will Do, in DuBray Books Grafton Street . It was a very enjoyable evening and it was fantastic to see a writer get off to such a good start. Thanks for signing my copy of your book Maria, and it was good to see you juggling your motherhood/Author duties whilst doing so! I look forward to reading the book as I find the Tweet-Up Fom Hell concept very intriguing. Sure go buy it yourself to find out what happens!

 Not wanting to be outdone, WiiBoy - doing his 11 year old job of putting the heart crossways in his mother - decided on Wednesday to stage a Great Escape of his own. It was of course, all. my. fault! Sigh.

You see he was returning from his class Confirmation retreat and although I was 5 minutes early to collect him, the bus was already there but the children were still alighting.

He wasn't standing beside teacher as she'd told him to. Okay, no panic.....

He wasn't in the school carpark where I was told he'd moved on to. Still ok....

He wasn't ANYWHERE on the school grounds. Heart still in chest cavity where it belongs, but slowly migrating upwards.....

Driving on to the only other rendezvous place he could be I found the church carpark to be completely devoid of all children. Ok...out and out panic now, while heart leaps wildly into mouth and desperately banishing all thoughts of recent local reports of a near-child abduction......

I made two frantic phone calls before driving like a manic as carefully as ever in the direction of home only to find him en route. Casually walking along in his usual fashion of short sleeved top, coat hanging off his head by the hood and lunchbox swinging nonchalantly by his side. Upon pulling up beside him I was greeted by a very happy-go-lucky Hi mum!! Which was met by my rather stern retort of Don't ever do that to me again. Needless to say the next hour did not go well at all. Like I say, it was all. my. fault. Then again he is almost 12 years old and well able to walk home by himself. When pre-arranged with me that is!

The final Great Escape of the week was the best one of all as I made the same, mad dash thorough my day as I had on Tuesday,  in order to make an even earlier Dart into town to meet Nan P again for a great night out! We enjoyed the Commitments last gig in the O2 back in March SO much that we bought tickets to go see them again in the  more intimate setting of the Olympia Theatre.

Just like the last time I listened to their music on my iTouch on the Dart on the the way in and was overcome by an incredible urge to get up and sing and dance along! It's ok though, I managed to subdue that urge. Besides I was getting funny looks from other passengers at my seat-bopping actions! I bopped along while waiting at traffic lights too, as I walked up to the theatre. In fact, at one point I was in serious danger of staging my own solo flash-mob at the traffic lights on O'Connell Bridge!! Right on the main thoroughfare of our capital city!! But yet again I held back.



I saved myself for the theatre, where all bets were off once the Commitments band hit the stage. Then myself and the lively Nan P were free to reveal our inner Rock Chicks..... Hey, Hey, Hey Hey.... etc; etc; etc

 Or better still, listen to this short clip....


It is short because this Rock Chick didn't wanna view the whole thing through a camera lens! Hey.... I wanted to Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey with the rest of 'em!

Truly a memorable night of fabulous music from a very talented band.


They should keep on going and record more songs. There really is a market for what they do!

xx

The Show Must Go On....


We had a fantastic evening out on Thursday, WiiBoy and I. I was looking forward to this evening for ages. You see we were meeting with my show pal couple and their son for tea, then off to our favourite Dublin show venue, the fabulous character- filled and chandaliered Gaiety Theatre, to see the Billie Barry Stage School show: The Time of Our Lives. Oh, the excitement!

Now, I know a lot of you reading this will be groaning at the mere mention of the Billie Barry Kids thinking, no doubt, of the oft hinted at BBKS (Billie Barry Kid Syndrome) which seemingly involves a large dollop of cheesy smiles accompanied with a side of perceived precociousness. Please let me try and dispel that rather unfair assessment....

Before I tell you about the show let me set the scene with our little pre-show, show pals reunion! Plus kids! The perpetual circle of life, eh?

It's about four years since we all met-up so a lot of catching up and 'oohing' and 'ahhing' over the boys, how tall they're getting, who they take after etc had to be done! Then we naturally turned to reminiscing about our own show days. All kinds of things were remembered! Pre-Opening number, side- stage jitters and how they ....ahem....presented themselves got a mention. As did the rather rude names we gave ourselves once when in an extremely giddy humour at one rehearsal! Those names will not be revealed here in order to avoid litigation protect our real identities!

Although we ourselves were never Billie Barry Kids (more's the pity) we had the honour of dancing as seniors in two shows, two years apart, back in the 80's as the Billie Barry reins were been handed over from Mother to daughter. The daughter worked us hard for both performances which were each approximately 7 minutes long! We loved every minute of it, every single one. Side-stage nerves were nothing on how we felt on performing at a rehearsal, in their back garden portocabin, for the awe-inspiring Ms. Barry herself! She was always extremely encouraging to us but showed no facial reaction whilst we were dancing, so it was nerve racking to wait until the end to hear her judgement! Kept us all, boys included, on our twinkle toes, that's for sure!!

So, many moons after those thoroughly memorable (to us anyway!) performances, we arrive at the beloved Gaiety Theatre with our own children to see yet another generation of BBKs perform. First thing our boys notice? The chandelier!

The last time we saw a BB show we watched through a veil of excited tears, totally mesmerized by the performances on the stage before us. We knew it would be the same this time and we were not disappointed.

It was a long but thoroughly entertaining show. The whole production, concept, set and costumes were amazing, especially given these difficult financial times. The Billie Barry Show is now only every three years,  so they can do it properly. Modern technology also played an important role in this production providing some exciting special effects and allowing dance styles seamlessly segue into mid-number tap dance routines.....without any mad, frantic changing of shoes!!

The choreography was absolutely fabulous for every single number, from babies right up to to seniors. We were totally enthralled. Well done to the very talented Lorraine Barry. We wanted to up there dancing with them Lorriane! A special mention has to go to the Musical Director Peter Beckett, who's musical arrangements were fantastic. I may have tweeted last week, in frustration at the disaster that is this year's XFactor and said that you can't dissect and re-create classic songs. Well you can... when  you have a fantastic MD and talented students, that is! Peter had two original compositions in this show: The Gift (Finale) and Superheroes. Oh, and Peter...our apologies for our giddy behaviour at that rehearsal many moons ago. As far as I know you escaped a name-makeover. Although, I can't be 100% sure!

Some of you may still be thinking BBKS but I'll tell you something, those kids provided far more entertainment and professionalism than this year's XFactor.

Apart from the amazing production, choreography and music/singing we were totally blown away by the professionalism displayed by all, from such young performers. Their timing, entrances, exits, holding their final positions ets turned stage training into an art form! And all  the beautifully pointed feet deserve a special mention. The most important thing for ANY aspiring dancer to learn!  Everyone on that stage performed to the best of their ability, excelled even. To see the 'babies. perform was enchanting. The girl 'fairies' were lead by a front row of four 'older', more experienced girls, one of whom is a daughter of an ex-Billie Barry friend of ours. Dancing in her mother's footsteps, at the tender age of seven! Incredible maturity! Such a beautiful dancer. The boy 'Superheros' were great too and one very young and very enthusiastic Superhero charmed us all and had us in stitches! I'd go as far as to say that he stole the show!!

And all this done without a cheesy smile or any display of precociousness whatsoever. All we saw was bright eyes, smiles, enthusiasiam, professionalism and a level of maturity and stage presence that we achieved only  in our late teens/early twenties!

That is the stage training provided by this school. Since 1964. The highlights of the many Theatre,TV and Film appearances by many BB students over the years takes up an impressive two pages in the programme!

There's also a list of some well known past pupils. A lot of other past pupils are pursuing successful careers here and in the UK. Some run their own stage schools!

This is a huge life experience for these children, learning their craft, immersed in fun and encouragement and making friendships for life.

Just like ours.

Stage schools like this provide a supportive outlet for talented children and help keep musical theatre alive.

Judging by the performances of Billie Barry's grandchildren I'd be hopeful that the school will be continuously in good hands for years to come.

I hope all the students involved in this production did indeed have the time of their lives. They will have fond memories of this for years to come, of that I have no doubt.

There is nothing like live performances and I now look forward to my next one which, co-incidentally stars a Billie Barry past pupil........

Committmets- Live at the Olympia on November 10th!

Can't wait!

xx




Note: Photo credit: heathermillan.com

The Halloween Domestic Goddess

'Twas the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend and a very busy one here at Chez Jazzy. There was lots to fit in around everyone's interests and activities and there was a birthday to celebrate....for someone who hates birthdays!

It is my belief that weekends should be a break for everyone in the family (you know what I'm sayin' here.... right?) and I'm finally finding subtle ways to achieve just that;-)

As birthday boy Mr Jazzy had a big golfing day on Friday with a meal out, WiiBoy and I treated ourselves to a takeaway! Saturday involved  more golf so myself and WiiBoy tagged along and spent 2 1/2 hours in the swimming pool (including some sauna/jacuzzi time for me!) while golf was played. We then all had lunch in the golf club, turning a golf day out into a family one;-) Sunday was the only golf-free day so we went for a family birthday meal to our favourite Indian restaurant that does a good early-bird deal.

Do you see what I've done here? Three whole days and no meals cooked!! Shush.... don't tell;-)

It's now Monday, Halloween and I'm feeling a bit guilty as my child hasn't eaten a home-cooked meal in a few days! I'm also feeling guilty as I haven't visited my mother in her nursing home all weekend either. I did try to remedy that today. We  may only be a one child family but we are also a one car one too so that does create difficulty sometimes. Heavy rain was forecast and I wanted to stay home to keep an eye on the  flooding situation so I came up with a genius plan.... get the nursing home to send her out to me in a taxi! Would have worked too, if only their damn phones were working. It's strange, they always seem to have a problem with phones on holidays.... 

Anyway, I have a confession to make..... I hate Halloween! I'm not creative at all with regards Halloween costumes or decorations and I most certainly don't make my own. I did reluctantly put up some decorations though...































 Pathetic I know, but I had to risk life and limb standing on a chair to get these up. No mean feat when you're as accident prone as me!

WiiBoy and I DID make a traditional pumpkin lantern....






 Okay....... slightly lop-sided and deformed I know, but hey, it's Halloween! Anything goes!!

Everyone always has these fab photos of lit pumpkin lanterns but no-one ever tells you that the lids burn from the inside!! Jeez... just as well I checked, or it could have been a case of escaping a flood only to get burnt out by a creepy, deformed pumpkin!

There were some leftovers after our lantern making so me, being in Domestic Goddess mode (or being Queen of Waste Not Want Not, perhaps?)  turned this...




into this.....


And my WiiBoy enjoyed the pumpkin soup SO much he asked for more, in true Oliver fashion! It was absolutely gorgeous, I must admit Ooh.... go me!

 But I wasn't finished. Oh no, not by a long shot!

Before I made the soup I made flapjacks as breakfast fodder for the faddy breakfast eater.....

































And  as I knew WiiBoy would  be off eating pizza with his Trick or Treating buddies before they went trick or treating, and subsequently stuffing themselves with crap,  I made a healthy lunch for him, to follow the gorgeous pumpkin soup. I made his very favourite lunch... Indian Pizza (or Quesadilla to you and I) which is packed full of vegetables. He loves it!




My guilt somewhat assuaged I sent him off trick or treating with his 4 pals. They had pizza in one house, did the rounds on 2 roads and have now  taken themselves and  their sugar-laden booty off to another house to watch a movie!

Last I heard it was turning into an impromptu sleepover!

My sugar-filled sleepy boy will return home tomorrow to a clean house as this Domestic Goddess finishes her Halloween chores, before the clock strikes 12 midnight and her lit pumpkin turns into rat or a frog or something and all mayhem resumes as normal. Sigh....

Note: Jazzy would like to assure her readers that no-one was hurt in the making of this blog-post, she hasn't been turned into a Stepford Wife and normal service WILL resume shortly.

xx







Saved by the ..... Bins.


Oh Dear God.... not again - was the first thought that ran through my head when I opened my hall door at around 8.15pm, on Monday 24th October 2011 and looked down at where my neighbour was pointing. Rain water,  up to the step and flowing right around to the back of the house, threatening to make another dramatic entrance into our house and into our lives from both angles, just like last time. Not on my watch.

'Oh My God, we're flooding again' - I half screamed and cried simultaneously both into the phone, as I hung up on my friend, and at my husband who was busy in another room. I could feel my panic and my tears rising as fast as the murky floodwater gathering outside. Oh God... Oh God.. We can't go through this again..I thought, as memories of months of upheaval flooded back to me. You'll pardon the pun, I'm sure. However, I quickly pulled myself together as I gathered my thoughts, rolled up my sleeves and pulled on my wellies. This water will NOT invade our house, I silently  promised myself. Like I say..... NOT on my watch.

We knew how serious this situation was and exactly how little time we had before our homes would flood. The last time this happened, 16th August 2008 to be precise (yeah, that's right.. 'summer') we had about 10 minutes from the point of water being at the step to it flowing over the threshold. It was still pelting down out there and we had approximately 10 minutes to save our homes. 10 minutes.... and counting.

                Ths is from 2008 and is how big the flood would have been with another 10 minutes of rain

Now, we've not been complacent since the last flood, I'll have you know. We're always on floodwatch any time there's heavy rain and anyone who follows me on twitter and Facebook will attest to that fact by virtue of my tweets/updates. Last Sunday/Monday was no different. We watched that rain and the road outside for build up for two days running and all seemed well. I put my hands down our shores and pulled out soggy leaves and grimy gunk at 3pm on Monday. Mr Jazzy did the same on Sunday. All was fine the last time we checked, which was at 7.15pm as we returned home in the torrential downpour after collecting Mr Jazzy from the bus stop and our WiiBoy from trampolining class.  It was very heavy rain, apparently a month's rain fell in a 24 hour period in Dublin causing absolute mayhem everywhere. To us though, it was exactly the same as on 16th August 2008. We were assured by our local council after the last flood that the problem was fixed  and that it would never, ever happen again. After all,  we live on a cliff. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yup, we're approximately 20ft up over-looking the sea and not a river bank in sight. Ironic, huh?

So, as hubby and I quickly dressed for  flood battle,  which took all of two minutes,  we all tried to recall what it was we did last time and endeavoured to do it quicker this time. I spotted the two green and purple sentinels standing guard next door and remembered... 'WHEELIE BINS' I shouted out the door, struggling to get at my wellies ..... 'we used wheelie bins last time,' Well, eventually we did. This time we kicked straight in with them.  But first I moved our car to the nearest dry spot. You see, our driveway houses two shores, into which the sewerage and waste water flows from 6 houses.  Our neighbours  had recently unblocked them but best to keep clear... just in case.

Then I went for our wheelie bins, but as I couldn't push them from back to front garden against the pull of the flood water, I abandoned all social niceties and simply grabbed our neighbours two proud, guarding receptacles out front. I found another dry spot and unceremoniously dumped the contents and we went to work. We were also conscious of the large lake which was growing ever bigger on the road outside, just like last time

At some stage, in the middle of all  this mayhem, Mr Jazzy remembered that we'd also called the emergency services the last time. Yes, the fire brigade were there for 3 hours pumping out our floodwater, I recalled.



Good idea, let's call them. So I dialled 999.....and was put on interminable hold. While only silently panicking to that point I could feel it all slipping away as I half screamed and cried, yet again, to anyone within earshot.... 'I'm on hold...for the EMERGENCY services? How the flipping hell can that be?'.... Ok,  admittedly I was a little more ... colourful.... than that in my choice of language. I simultaneously  phoned the local Gardai from another phone and they eventually answered. They explained that a state of emergency had been declared in our Capital city and that they themselves, even with their secret contact numbers, couldn't get hold of them. God help any seriously ill person needing an ambulance, that rainy Monday night in Dublin.

So, we were completely on our own this time, it seemed. It was totally down to us to save our homes. And that's precisely what we did. NOT on our watch....

Back to rely on our good ole ever faithful friends, the lowly, and utterly under-estimated wheelie bins.....and our real-life human friends too, in the form of our fantastic neighbours who once again came to our assistance. Community spirit is alive and kicking in our village.

We quickly got a system going whereby using pots, pans, buckets and anything we could lay our hands on, we (adults and children alike) frantically filled one wheelie bin which one of the men would drag about 100 yards down the road to the nearest unblocked shore, while we started filling another wheelie bin. This system was in place in a number of homes. The primary aim was to keep the water from getting above the front step of our homes and gaining access. Clearing the water from the front also lowered the water level at the back of the house. Please....please flood water, don't destroy our lovely 3 year old extension.  Anything else was a bonus.

And we did indeed get a bonus. The Gods themselves shone on us that night and decided, in their infinite wisdom that being flooded once was more than enough - especially since we live on a cliff and decided to turn off that giant tap in the sky, with minutes to spare.  NOT on their watch...

To put it in perspective and to give you a fuller picture of our predicament that night: if the rain hadn't stopped when it did then using wheelie bins to remove the flood water would have been the equivalent of using thimbles. Yet, we would have continued bailing out that floodwater as, in our minds, to use thimbles was better than doing nothing.

Even though the rain had stopped we carried on working feverishly to clear all water threatening our homes and those of our infirm neighbours. However,  we also wisely used the breathing space this god given bonus afforded us and deployed teams to clear the on-road shore blockages and to assess the real problem that brought this to our doorways again.

Three people headed to that  real source of the flood..... the visible  over ground ever-growing river  flowing down Quinns Road with speed and with nowhere to go. Finding the lowest point of gravity it diverted into our estate. But the real problem was, just like last time, the one none of us could see, but knew was there. The deluge of water, draining from the many estates leading onto the Quinns Road, that was thundering underground at a ferocious rate and couldn't, for whatever reason, 'turn the corner' to  gain access to the famous 5ft diameter drainage pipe that takes all of our water out to sea. That underground deluge also found the same lowest point of gravity to divert to.... the under ground pipe from our estate which joins that system just at that 'corner'.

Note: Last time it was that 5ft diameter pipe that was found to be 40% blocked by huge tree roots and builders debris from a recent extension at the tennis club. That was deemed, by the council, to be the primary cause of our  previous flood. That drain hadn't been examined or cleaned in years.

Soon our homes were out of danger so we all joined in in manually clearing the leaf and debris blocked roadside shores, that had  not been recently cleaned by the Council. Our husbands, under the dark cover of night and  with no protective gear had to stick their hands, through a foot or two of  filthy flood water, down the shores to remove blockages to allow the water flow freely. The Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of our country was spotted poking his head from behind a nearby bush then promptly disappearing. Presumably to phone the man he knew was right for the job...our local very hard working Councillor who appeared on the scene just as we finished up, at around 10.30 that  night. We thank them both.

We were exhausted after our 2 hour frantic dash to save 18 homes from being flooded again and know that we have a long, hard battle ahead to ensure that the Council solve this problem once and for all this time. We are clear that we need constant, regular drain maintenance and road sweeping. We need an urgent engineer's report on that large drainage pipe to see what the blockage was this time and we need them to separate our drainage system from the current connection point and lay a new pipe to join in further down. We are blessed to have an active Councillor and Residents Association to support us in our endeavours.

NEVER again should the waste and sewerage water from a large portion of our  village be allowed to flood our much smaller housing estate.

We have no doubt that our prompt, yet frantic actions on Monday night saved the Insurance companies a fortune.. Our claims the last time round must have amounted to about a million Euro. All down to the Council's inaction.The council no longer employs road sweepers to clear drains. Cutbacks, to save money. Yet another false economy in this era of Austerity. It costs more to clean up after these events and to lay costly pipes then it does to provide regular maintenance. House Insurance premiums increase for everyone when more and more flood claims are made, but those making the claims are at risk of not getting further flood coverage.

We are reliably informed that had we flooded on Monday night we would have been covered but thereafter our Insurance companies would have refused flood cover. Even though...... we live on a cliff !! For cryng out loud... how ridiculous is that?

We are so relieved that  we didn't flood on Monday and know how close we came. Those shores in our garden? Just as the rain stopped Mr Jazzy checked and saw  that the level of waste water in one shore was right to the top. He didn't dare open the sewage one.The next stage was those shores to pop....letting God knows what spew everywhere.

We were saved by 10 minutes,  the rain-gods turning off the tap,  fabulous neighbours........ and very deep wheelie bins!

We're safe for now but there's more rain due on Saturday and tons more leaves to fall from the trees, so floodwatch will begin anew then and we'll be ready to go into action at short notice if needed.

We are thankful to be safe and that no-one was injured or lost their lives. we know others weren't so lucky and our hearts go out to them and to their families.

Stay safe....

xx



PS: Photo credits to ShankillFalls Photostream

The Boat



I sit atop the perilous cliff edge

As the evening light fades in the local park.

I'm drawn to this spot when I noticed the boat on the soft sea waves

 mere moments ago. 

The big white boat with it's salubrious red markings is sitting silently in the bay..  

Just sitting. 



The night is closing in and it feels wonderfully calm.

I hear the gentle rippling waves softly lap the stoney shore below where I sit. 

The night air clothes me in it's late summer warmth and magical embrace. 

I am now rooted to this spot...


Entrapped by the stillness of my surroundings

And the beauty of the view on the calm sea ahead. 

And still the boat just sits there. 

Watching me 

As I watch it 



The light house and buoys blink at us both with regular insistence, 

As if to draw us closer  still, in this magical moment. 

Why is the boat just sitting in the bay?

Why am I sitting here? 



The light fades further and the night sky slowly darkens

With a twinkling  promise of the starry night to come.

I can barely see the boat, just sitting on the bay. 

It cannot see me atop my perilous cliff- seat.  



The light fades further still and all around is eerily quiet 

The walkers have long since departed.

And now, so must I.






xx

Note: Image credit: fotosearch.com

Meeting With Friends..... New and Old


With all signs of illness banished from the house, I managed to shake myself  free from the 5 day old shackles that had bound me and escaped to go meet some other adults this week, not once but twice!


My first outing was to the Dublin twitter social event of the month on Wednesday night. Well it certainly received a lot of twitter promotion in the past few weeks and you'd want to have been living on a far distant planet not to have known it was on! It was fabulously organised by a wonderful group of tweeters, a couple of whom I've only been recently following. They went to a lot of bother on twitter and in reality. There was a blog set up, an Oct12tweetup hashtag, a venue booked and platters of food organised. We even had very posh Oct12tweetup name badges!


Although I've been to a many a facebook meet-up at this stage this was my first ever tweetup. I didn't have to brave it alone though, I dragged bribed courteously invited two of my very good blogging and real-life pals  Blue Sky and Nan P to accompany me on this auspicious occasion. None of us had been to a tweetup before and we wondered what a tweetup was, really. I thought it might be like a facebook coffee morning.... but at night, with wine? We also wondered what the term for us first-time tweetup attendees might be..... tweetup virgins perhaps? Twirgins? twirginups? Oh hell, have another glass of something while we figure it out!

We arrived not truly knowing what to expect. What would the people (or tweeple) be like in real life? Would they be like their twitter persona's or do we all hide behind the sometimes anonymous feel of twitter and our avatars? In my head if I can't see them, they can't see me so I feel ridiculously anonymous on twitter.... which is truly ridiculous! What did the bar manager think when his pub was booked for this thing called  a 'tweetup'? One thing I knew for sure though, despite what my family may think of these things called twitter and facebook there would be no axe-wielding 'individuals' or Libyan Generals and the like in attendance!!

And I was right, there wasn't. Just a bunch of really nice, welcoming people is all. Hugs were offered and accepted from tweeters we've been regularly in contact with and new introductions were gladly made. Friendships made online were cemented in reality and new twitter connections forged. It was a lovely night enjoyed by all who attended. It was lovely to see #oct12tweetup light up on twitter in the aftermath and to receive so many warm follow friday mentions today also.

When you follow and engage with some good people, twitter is an amazing place. I'm lucky, I have tons of good people on my follow list. I know that for real now.

My second outing was the very next night when I met up with some friends of old. Some super-mums from my son's first (special) school. Although none (or very, very few) of our children attend the school any longer we nonetheless meet a couple of times a year. It is really great to catch up on how the children are doing and on our lives too. Over a lovely meal and a glass or two of wine, of course! It was a very enjoyable night also.

I value the friends I have. I truly value those I have made in reality as I've traveled through my life to date and now I put equal value on the friends I've made through social media.

Friends are important in life. It doesn't matter how these friendships are forged, whether it's online or in real life situations: friendships are friendships. They all count. They all mean something.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on online communication via these social sites but people who don't partake shouldn't be so quick to judge those of us who do;-)

And those of us who do enjoy spending time online to engage with our online friends shouldn't forget our real life friends in the process!

We remember and treasure all of our friends.


xx



PS Image credit to wine-canyon.com

Fun for Everyone....

Today was an unexpected fun-filled one. It was on Thursday afternoon when I picked up a leaflet at school heralding a'Family Sports Day hosted by the the Irish Sports Council in our local community Leisure Centre this Saturday. Sure what else would we be doing on a Saturday afternoon, besides me being on my laptop and WiiBoy being on his Xbox, I wondered. So, not being one to miss an opportunity  to present non-xbox related activities to my son I shook off a threatening hang-over and whisked us both off to said leisure centre!

It was an amazing Indian summer kind of a day, unusual in itself, so we arrived in great form to find an equally amazing array of sporting activities to try out. For free. Everything is amazing when it's free, isn't it? Anyway, these are the sports that were on offer: archery, trampolining, boccia, old school games, buntus, olympic handball and others!

It was such a lovely day that some of the activities were held outside. Due to WiiBoy's interest in Taekwondo we headed off to try the Martial Arts first. The idea of punching 9 shades of you-know-what out of some punching pads proved too tempting to miss, I just had to go-a-punching....with all my might! And I threw in some kicks too! It was such fun that I had to continue on and try the swing kicks also. All my dancing days came in handy today, although I can no longer do kicks as high as I used to! Thankfully I have no photos of my martial Arts attempts. Unfortunately an official photographer came along, and when he was finished photographing the Community Guard in action, he couldn't resist taking shots of the Mad kickin' Mama!!

You'd think I'd be done then, wouldn't you? But oh no.... no stopping Jazzy when she's on a roll....

We headed off to try trampolining next, WiiBoy's other interest. He loved it and was actually quite good at it...


 
                                                                                                 





                                               
                                 He even  moved too quickly to be caught on camera!

Now, I know this trampolining is really just for kids and indeed, the place was full of them. And adults too, the 'responsible guardians' standing around watching.

I tried to desist and to just be the 'responsible adult', really.... I did. But, once again the temptation proved too much. I just had to get my almost-but-not-quite  pentagenarian ass up on that trampoline....



 I even tried a few basic moves...the tuck jump, touching shins, split-leap jump and a turning jump! Whoop....go the mad mama!!!

I must admit, I am very grateful that the official photographer wasn't around for my exhibition.

WiiBoy thoroughly enjoyed it, the art of Trampolining NOT my exhibition, and as there are regular classes available we are going to sign him up for this term.

They do adult classes too and although I'm tempted, I think I'll stick to my more sedate, mama-like exercise activities that I enjoy. Like Curves Gym and my weekly Urban Funk dance class where us funky red-hot  mamas strut our stuff!! I SO enjoy those classes! And for as long as I can shake this pentagenarian (almost....not quite!) booty I will continue to do just that!

So, thanks Irish Sports Council and our local Council for such a fun day and for proving that sport/fun is indeed for all.

I see our local council has a Social Inclusion Week coming up in October. There are lots of events planned. It should be a lot of  fun.

I also see that there's a youth flashmob planned too.

I'd come along to watch but clearly I can't be trusted to stay on the sidelines. I'd have this overwhelming compunction to join in....

Wait a minute...YOUTH flash mob?

Why restricted to youth?

I know a group of funky red-hot mamas who could see your youth flash mob and raise you a glide or a body-roll or ten.

Just sayin', like.

xx

















- DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS -