Happy New Year!

As the year 2012 comes to a close I look forward, as ever, to ringing in a bright, shiny, new year.

Like last year I now take this opportunity to look back over the year that's been, to celebrate the good and most likely gloss over the bad!

It was a year that commenced with some life-enhancing changes that lasted for a while and are now making a comeback!

A year of celebrations where I rocked the #50club, as I celebrated an important birthday and still do not feel like a pen..pens...retired person. I will never feel like a retired person! I simply don't have the time! 

And a year that our lovely boy celebrated his Confirmation Day, in style.

In fact our boy has had a pretty good year, as he graduated from Primary school with flying colours and made a successful transition to secondary school. He's growing up and has also made the successful transition from Pre-Teen to Teen Boy! We are very, very proud of him. He still keeps us amused, you'll be pleased to hear!

'Twas a year that we had a wonderful time working with some amazing, fun and talented teenagers on our musical Footloose in March. We very much look forward to starting our new musical, Disco Inferno, with them in the new year. It is energising to be involved with teenagers and it's wonderful to help encourage a love of musical theatre in another generation.

It was a year of the tale of two holidays as I enjoyed an amazing fun-filled birthday trip to New York in April, the memories of which I shall live off for a long time to come, and a lovely, relaxing family holiday in Lanzarote. Oh joy.

2012 was the Year of the Kittens as we had the lovely experience of caring for some new borns when our Pretty Cat surprised us with a litter, 2 days before we went on holidays!

It really was a lovely time caring for them, they were so gorgeous. We have recently seen two of them and they are such beautiful cats.

There were some sad and difficult times too as my mam has been so unwell for most of the year. However, she continues to amaze us with her Lazarus-like skills and ability to fight all that comes her way.

It's been nice to sit back and glimpse back through my year.

It was the year that lots changed personally yet nothing did nationally.

My national  wishes for 2012 from last year didn't quite come true: 
We didn't effect much national, or global change as we continue to do as we're told and
we didn't quite put the goal in the other team's net!
However, Katie Taylor and our Boxing team did us very proud in the Olympics.

We can still smile and go forward with as much positivity as we can muster into 2013.

May 2013 not be unlucky for some!

May it bring us all lots of luck.

A New year, a new beginning.

May 2013 be all you want it to be.



Simply Having a A Jazzy Christmas Time

 It's been a very busy time lately, here at chez Jazzy.

It's been quite the  foray of Christmas present buying, bare minimum housework (need-to-see-basis only), mind boggling studying for 'our' first Christmas tests and ferrying the boy to and from school for said tests. At an unearthly hour of the morning, I might add!

I don't have time to clear my throat these days! I'm in bed early most evenings and I haven't switched my laptop on in a week. A whole week, people! Totally unheard of, for me.

However, it is good to get all the preparations done early - a girl has to clear her schedule to allow for some party nights out after all!

I do get some help with some of this work though. You see, I don't have to worry about forgetting who the hastily wrapped and untagged presents under the tree are for. I have Pretty Cat for that. She very kindly tears open the corners, for identification purposes only, of course. Hmmmm...

                                                Get away from there, naughty Pretty Cat!

In the melee of Christmas preparations, which for the first Santa-less year does not include a trip to a toy store, time has obviously been found to visit the patient, who is doing relatively okay. Thank God. Fingers crossed though, as the emotional roller coaster continues it's bone shaking - on the day I bought the patient's Christmas present I also bought a black dress. I promptly gave the patient her present because, well, she needed it now and, well, you know....

I also put the tree and all the Christmas decorations up early - because, well, you know....

It's a kind of reverse psychology, I guess. And depending on the occasion, I either have myself an SATC Miranda style 'shitty black dress that I'll never wear again' or I have a rather classy and demur one. So far it's the latter. That damn, emotional roller coaster really can shake you up.

So, these are some of the reasons you've seen less of Jazzy in this hallowed blogosphere. The other reason is that there's slightly less of me to see! Yay!! Yes, I started a new focused regime back in September and its starting to pay dividends. It's been up and down over that time, mostly down thankfully . Through the efforts of my Curves gym and Weight Watchers I have lost 11 pounds (only 3 more to go) and a grand total of 8 inches! I am rather pleased with myself, as you can imagine. Not that anyone but myself has noticed, but I kind of like that.

Why did it work for me? Because I love to exercise and to be successful I need to track and be tracked. I also need to live my life.... and there must be wine! I cannot adhere to regimes that ban certain foodstuffs entirely. This way I can enjoy what I like, just not as much of it. And that's a good thing as it brings other health benefits too, which is a good idea when you're a lady of a certain age!

No doubt a bit of stress in ones life helps the cause, though sometimes it can also hinder.

But as it's now Christmas I am literally off-track. Which was pretty obvious from my enjoyment of last Saturday's party night out. As it was from my late night tweet. 'Oops' - or perhaps more appropriately : hic'!! At least I thought to share the fact that the guys wore their Santa thongs ( that I flicked) on the outside of their trousers!! I think I also threatened to give them wedgies too but, it being Christmas, I didn't follow through! I'm so kind and thoughtful really!

So now I'm feeling rather Christmassy, with fingers fiercely crossed for the patient's well being, as we enjoy a few nights out, with the big day fast approaching.

But before that big day happens there is another one due, of equal (if not more) importance.

The day that my fabulous Pre-Teen becomes a fully fledged Teen Boy. I am so, incredibly proud of him!

Two days to go.

We're very excited.

But now I must depart, there are a few drinks in my local pub with my name on them, and the winning Grand Prize ticket too - I hope!




Beauty All Around....

I love where I live

I love waking up on a sunny morning and gazing out at the ancient, leafy trees looming large and protectively at the end of our garden.

Then seeing a squirrel, or two, scurrying through the branches on their way for one of their daily feeding sessions next door...

I love the narrow, rustic road leading to our estate, with it's hint of sea at the bottom.....

And the leafy country lane with it's almost tree canopy....

That meanders it's way down to our lovely, but stony, beach....

With it's lovely sights...

To make your spirits soar....

I love the nearby promenade on which we can enjoy a leisurely stroll....

I love the nearby hill we can climb to admire all the views....

Or to simply feel on top of the world....

Oh yes, I do love where I live. I am very lucky and it's nice to take time-out in order to appreciate the small things in life.

Like hearing the patient's exultations at receiving her first teaspoons of cold water, or seeing the simple joy spreading across her face as she takes her first spoonfuls of food (a yogurt) in a month!

And of course the nicest view of all is the one that greets you, when all the musing and perusing is done, that whets your palate and softens your landing back to reality....



Never Say Never

I've been very quiet lately, haven't I?

And quite anti-social too. In a social-media kinda way. Although I am slowly gravitating back towards my snuggly little social media niche.

You can rest assured though- it's me, not you.... and I do still care about you all!

I just don't have a lot to say right now, or perhaps I don't know what to say? Which, admittedly, is a new one for me!

I'm finding this phenomena very, very strange. People deal with stuff in different ways and I've long since hailed blogging as being free therapy. Which it is, absolutely, yet right now I find myself pulling away from it.....

Admittedly it has been an emotional roller coaster of a few weeks.

To update, without boring you or being too revealing, the patient continues to confound and baffle the medics. Good for her I say. The Tough Decision was made and the patient returned from whence she came, without much hope.

However, as is her wont, the patient clearly has other plans for herself and is alert and chatting to people at times. Even calling them by name. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you silly medics!

I am a tad upset that the doctors didn't listen to the possible alternative reasoning for her presentation but, onwards and upwards, as much as is possible.

The situation remains serious but like I say she is such a fighter. We must acknowledge that and patient care must and will be patient led. Part of the dilemma? To feed may cause aspiration (as might ones own saliva) but to not feed will cause starvation. Turns out it's not such a tough decision after all. Not really... not if you let the patient lead you. And you have a team behind you who know her well :-)

In fact it's onwards and upwards on all fronts here, as my horrible three week long cough-from-hell and sleepless nights abate and the Pre-Teen returns to school, all hail and hearty! Finally!

So, we'll continue on this roller coaster ride and see how it all goes. What will be will be...

And we'll have no wallowing in doom and gloom.

I've a nice bottle or two of  Pinot Grigio for that, a perfect wallowing vintage.


Tough Decisions

It comes to us all I know, but when parents are aging and unwell with underlying-can-happen-any-minute conditions, it can be a roller coaster ride of worry and emotions.

First comes the dreaded phone call, then the rush to whichever hospital, the inevitable tests, the prolonged monitoring and possible decisions on future care and perceived, potential 'outcomes'.

It can be such a nightmare and it's the unknown, human factor that can confound and ultimately amaze.

Or not.

We have been through this before and we have been going through it again for the past week.

I almost feel sorry for the doctors, trying to get a handle on the enigma that is my mother!

They have a difficult job, doctors. I admire them and appreciate the professionalism, understanding and care with which they they have treated us over the past few months. Whilst in hospital that is, post-stroke follow-ups leave a lot to be desired in my opinion.

There is no denying it, strokes are serious business and specific, prompt care must be afforded in accordance with accepted hospital practices. Depending on the resources of the hospital, that is. Other co-morbid conditions can cloud and confuse the issue so must also be taken into account. Although ultimately pleased with previous care received in a small local hospital (in acute ward only) there is no comparison to the care currently being delivered in a more acute hospital. None whatsoever. In fact I think all future medical emergencies should be scheduled to occur at certain hours in order to gain access ;-)

They do seem to be quick off the mark to make the tough decisions though. However doors are being kept open, within a time frame. A movable one, I hope.

See, I know there's an accepted time frame in which a patient should show signs of recovery post-stroke, in order to provide the 'best' outcome. Based on that doctor's will make decisions, or encourage the family to make the decisions, as regards further 'interventions'. Like feeding for example, where speech and swallow are affected. Such a terrible, life altering after-effect of a stroke. Truly awful.

However, sometimes the patient can defy the odds and decide what an acceptable time-frame for their recovery is. Quality of life and ultimate outcome is of course a whole other issue.

No-one wants to prolong the inevitable or to offer food in a way that may constitute 'force feeding' but neither do we, or the medics, get to play God. Sometimes patient care and interventions must be patient led and, in my experiences, doctors get that and amend decisions and treatments accordingly.

How do you respond, apart from becoming a sniveling and emotional wreck, when a doctor gives you some gently delivered yet brutal news as regards feeding and most likely outcome, within a set time-frame? Try to remain practical, the brain can only take so much battering from strokes after all, and re-iterate her amazing recovery stories?

The power of the body and brain to heal and the human spirit to fight never ceases to amaze me.

Yesterday, within five minutes of the above conversation my mam woke up and tried to talk, treating to me to a spark of her former self by giving out to me with eyes briefly bright in her head, before succumbing to more nurturing sleep!

Then today she was full of chat, stories and laughter with obvious improvement in speech! She adores her new night dresses, wants to get her hair cut and would love a cup of tea thanks-very-much!! Unfortunately she cannot have tea, or even water. Yet.

I am under no illusions here, who knows what tomorrow will bring as the risks are high, but you cannot deny a person fighting back to this extent. She deserves every chance.

Last night I was torn between saluting and encouraging her now legendary fighting powers and praying for a miracle. The miracle of release.

I know tough decisions still lie ahead but, for  today, I simply give you my mother.

The Fighter.

The Bounce Back Queen.

Never to be under-estimated.


PS: Please keep her in your thought and prayers.... 

My First Car: The Little Red Bomber

I was in my mid twenties, many moons ago, when I decided that I was finally going to buy myself a car and learn how to drive . I was always a determined person and when I set my mind on something I usually follow through.

I had not the first iota of driving, nor of cars, but off I set with excitement and determined ambition.

My dad appointed himself as my 'car broker' and found me an 8 year old, little red Ford Fiesta (1981) in a back street garage off Dorset Street in Dublin, going for a song.

                                                                  (image via flickr)

Unfortunately that's about all it went for, as it stalled halfway on the day we took my new red beauty home! The garage man had to drive over and get it going again.

Not an ideal start and it sure was a real quirky car. It had great 'character' had my little red car - that was once painted mustard as we subsequently discovered! You can tell where this story is going, can't you?

But I loved it, I loved the freedom and independence it gave me, and the many unforgettable memories...

I recall my dad bullying convincing me, only two weeks into driving lessons, to bring him to a relatively nearby builders providers yard to pick up cement or something. I was terrified and remember stalling, completely confused and disorientated, in the middle of a busy junction whilst all other drivers kindly held back to let the silly learner driver re-correct!

I'm sure the look on my face was one of pure terror. But that was nothing compared to the look on my driving instructor's face as we passed him by on our way home! I swear he almost made his charge crash the car as he looked at me with his jaw on the floor! He had serious words with me at our next lesson. Which I duly passed on to my dad.

Me and my little red car got on very well though and I eventually reveled in driving everywhere. She brought me to work, to dance classes and to my show rehearsals for a national variety competition, where she ultimately earned her nickname: The Little Red Bomber.

Oh, she was a real show stopper alright, my little red bomber, as she regularly stalled at the traffic lights on the way home from rehearsals! Seven traffic light changes was our absolute record, as I recall. Although that may have also been due to my driving abilities.... at the time, I hasten to add! She also got stuck in the sand on Dollymount Beach when we were all leaving, in convoy, after our after-show reunion party following our success in said national competition! We won!

The little red bomber brought me many places in the following year or so. She even chugged her way around France, the poor thing, finally crawling home off the boat like a dying Love Bug on her last wheels. Or her last engine as it turned out. After completing 100,000 miles (that we knew of) her engine had finally clapped out.

Being raised in an era of 'waste not want not' a refurb engine was purchased, rather than buy a new car, when I hadn't even finished the loan repayments on this one. Boy, was that a mistake.

Let's just say that within a few short months the little red bomber had a short trip to the local shops as her final voyage, going up in flames on the way home. Quite literally, with me sitting behind the wheel! Seriously, I was driving along, minding my own business when I spot smoke coming from the bonnet. I pulled over and suddenly the smoke turned to serious fire. I jumped out, wildly seeking help from the bus behind me, full of passengers. The funny thing was I had stopped outside the house where my friend who normally lives abroad was staying. I knew she was in Ireland as this was her wedding day, but had no idea that she was in that house! You can imagine the shocked reunion when I knocked on the door to suggest they might want to move their car unless they wanted it toasted, along with my car with it's vast collection of cassette tapes!!

Within a week the car was removed by Dublin Corporation and no doubt squished into oblivion, forever.

At that time I was dancing in Dublin's Gaiety Theatre, on a two week run with the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society, and the joke doing the rounds was that I was getting a new piece of jewelery for Christmas: my Little Red Bomber on a chain!

I subsequently bought a new car, another Ford Fiesta, blue in colour this time and in much better condition.

In fact, despite tough beginnings, I have always driven Ford cars and find them to be fantastic cars to drive.

My first car was the worst car I ever owned but gave me the best memories.

I will never forget my Little Red Bomber.

May she rest in pieces!

Note: This is my entry into Carcraft: My First Car Competition. I entered this competition because it's a fun one that appealed to me. I doubt very much that I will win the iPhone 5 but if, by some miracle I do, then I will donate my relatively new iPhone 4s to iPhones4Autism.ie campaign to help a child with Autism or Special Needs with communication.



You can find other #SilentSunday posts at Love All Blogs.




Curves: Working Out for Action Breast Cancer

It's been almost 5 years since I put myself through the mental work-out of  'will I won't I', eventually walking myself through the doors of my local Curves  gym. I can honestly say that I've never looked back.

My Curves gym has a long held reputation of supporting charities and often have offers to entice new members. When I joined they waived the joining fee, asking that new members offer a shopping bag of food to support a local charity instead.

Right now Curves-Bray have another offer in place for the month of October, extended until the end of this week. This time, supporting Action Breast Cancer. In fact this Curves branch has been fundraising for breast cancer charities for the past 9 years, raising in excess of €10,000. They hope to raise more vital funds with this campaign and are waiving the service fee to new members, in return for a small suggested donation to this worthy charity.


For me my Curves time is my 'me time', taking a mere 30 minutes, 3 times a week out of my weekly travails. It's a small, comfortable ladies gym with a lovely clientele, of all abilities, and staffed by helpful, friendly ladies.

Throughout my membership Curves really did have the power to amaze as I saw inches almost magically disappear, along with some weight loss. My current, determined weight loss mission has seen me drop almost 4 inches in 6 weeks! That includes a whole glorious inch off each thigh! The battle of the bingo arms is also being valiantly fought.

Of course the last 5 years has also seen the inches magically creep back on. However, once I get back on board the Curves circuit, with the encouragement of the supportive staff, I'm back on track in no time!

See, any weight loss system is only as good as the determined effort you put in, and exercise is only one part of any system. That's why Curves sometimes runs an additional Weight Management course, for those who want itto increase the members success.

So, what is it about the Curves circuit of pre-set resistance-based machines and recovery boards that makes it so successful? Well ladies, hold on to your Lycra and I'll tell you ......

This Curves interactive video  explains how each machine works in detail and tells us how a 30 minute Curves workout can work off 500 calories! Now, that's my kinda gym.

'Curves works to give women a fast, efficient 90-minute workout in 30 minutes. To achieve that, we combine strength-training, sustained cardio-activity, warm-up, cool-down and stretching.' 

Curves also does more than it says on the tin as there are other health advantages to be gained. Click here to read all about the beyond the circuit benefits.

So, now that you are aware, get fit and run on down to Curves-Bray and sign up! Hurry now, only a day or two left for this fantastic opportunity to support Action Breast Cancer ..... and your own health.

And I promise, there's not a scrap of leotard Lycra  to be seen!


Note: This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write this. Nor was I asked to write it, I offered because I wanted to! 

Inbetweeny Days

I dislike Inbetweeny days, don't you?

You know, those days that are neither one nor the other.

The snow days that are not snowy enough to make an early judgement call on whether or not to get your child to school.

Then there's the sick days when you have to wake your child up at the usual, unearthly hour of 6.30 am just to see if they're sick enough to stay home! Lest they pull the wool over your eyes, not that my guy does that, or the guilt feelings descend at keeping your child home unnecessarily.

Pre-teen was sent home sick yesterday with inbetweeny tummy pains that were neither one thing nor another. Tummy rumbles that could be signs of a bug, a tummy stuffed with cafeteria food or of an underfed child being packed off to school with a mere slice of toast in his tummy! So the guilty mum feelings immediately envelop, until I reason that I can't force feed what is being refused.

From this early morning awakening from his deep, deep sleep - such a pity - I concluded very quickly that he was just about sick enough to stay home with a tummy bug.

So, we're having an Inbetweeny Sick Day.

While part of me wishes he'd just be fully sick and be done with it, mid term break beckons in 3 days time after all, I'm slowly coming around to the idea that Inbetweeny Days are not too bad really.

He's not sick enough to be howling for my constant attention, brow wiping and human drink dispensing skills. I can calmly ensure he has what he needs.

He's well enough and old enough so that I can nip out to the shops. Of course I issue a myriad of instructions before I leave, a bit like a broken record - or a scratchy CD if I'm to keep up with the times - which eventually elicited a grumpy 'Jeez (or words to that effect) mum, just GO'.


See, while an Inbetweeny Day means I have to stay home more it doesn't totally restrict me.

I'm beginning to see that this is quite a good thing as I realise I'm not doing my usual tail-chasing and meeting myself going backwards routine.

It seems that Inbetweeny Days can be more of an enforced sabbatical than enforced captivity and that's a really good thing.

Look, I even have time to write a blog only 2 days after my last one!

I could get to really like this.

However I'd better now and do a drinks run and make sure all's okay.

But wait, what's that I hear? A rumble from my tummy?

Nah, that'd just be hunger.

Bound to be.....


End of term

It's with amazement that I sit here, on the cusp of the week ahead, the final week of first term in secondary school. I cannot believe that this term is almost at an end!

All the planning and worrying at my end, while Pre-Teen simply just got on with it.

I sat back and watched him settle seamlessly into a brand new school setting, navigating his way with relative ease through school corridors and lockers and effortless decision making.

Constantly aware of his continually growing maturity, as he willingly does homework and resists mid-week Xbox play - mostly! How he's friendly with many and how he positively handled a particularly unpleasant incident.

It is great to know that he confidently enjoys his daily forays into the school cafeteria, happily munching and chatting with friends and cleverly finding a solution to get himself there early, ahead of the busy crowds!

With one final week to go I can now let go of that six week long breath I wasn't even aware I was holding. I can rest assured that the bombshell-that-never-was is not going to drop and be confident that we have made the right school choice.

He's a wonderful boy and I'm so incredibly proud of him.

However, there have been some disconcerting moments I'm afraid.

Like the evening I screamed 'Nooooo...' as I looked in the mirror, standing beside- and looking up - at my boy. How I loudly insisted that he remove his Crocs forthwith, lest they give him a fractional height advantage. Removing said crocs sadly made no difference at all - to Pre-Teen's absolute delight!

Next thing you'll know there'll be an extra deep voice and shaving gear about the place. There'd also better be an additional supply of wine!

Then there was his first attendance at the Scouts last week, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and came home brandishing a note about next year's Jamboree camping trip. For a week. A whole week away from home. How exciting is that? For him. Meanwhile I'm having a minor panic attack at the mere thoughts whilst also, kind of, rubbing my hands in semi-glee!

And finally the most disconcerting moment of all.... The truth in all it's glory.

Never ask your forthright and honest child how you look in a form-fitting short dress that took you four years to fit into.

Pah .... I am SO not too old for it, I refuse to accept that and I WILL wear it!!

So, it appears that although my boy is maturing nicely, hilarity (and snuggles) still abound :-)

All is well.

Nothing to see here.

Move along now please ..... ;-)

Thank you!


Sunday Solace to Monday Madness

The best thing about reaching a milestone birthday is the many opportunities to celebrate, if you play your cards right. And I've become quite a good 'card player' judging by how long I'm dragging this year's celebrations out!

See, it's not just the small family weekend away, the night out with ex-colleagues from work, a theatre trip with a fellow pentagenarian-show-friend or the much planned for trip to New York with a pal, there are also school friends who will be celebrating. Note: always keep in contact with at least one of your school friends ;-)

I'm certainly glad that I did because this weekend I got to go away on a girly over-nighter to the very scenic Glenview Hotel with my school friend. A great chance for a catch up and a low-key celebration. It's close enough to where I live yet it felt like a million miles away.

I simply left my house and slipped into a whole new world. A world of  pool lounging - swimming or anything  resembling exercise was forbidden - Jacuzzi unwinding, steam room/sauna relaxing and spa treatment pampering. Oh and there was hot tub plunging too. It felt incredible dashing out into the cold air then quickly stepping into the hot tub. The combination of cold air floating around your head as you are immersed in a steamy outdoor hot tub is simply a slice of heaven.

Of course there was some fabulous food and wine too and a prawn starter which was like a taste explosion in my mouth. We dined upstairs in the restaurant that looked out over the forested green fields stretching forever in front of us.

On our way to all places of tranquility within the hotel, we came upon Irish dancers of all ages practicing in the hallways or performing inside at the Feis. The air was filled with noises of furious treble tapping feet, the jingle jangle of medals, laughter and 'lift your leg higher', 'practise one more time' and finally 'but I'm sooo tired mammy'! Hardly surprising, they'd been there since 8.30 that morning!

The hotel was very busy all day and while we chatted about everything and anything under the sun we also mused over how many people were about, excluding the Irish dancers. We concluded that it was good to see people out treating themselves to Sunday lunch. We're from a generation who had very little money and we were taught to save and spend money wisely. We'd like to think that as most people don't get out as often anymore that they really appreciate it when they do. It becomes a special treat, as was our night away, something to be savoured and not taken for granted.

Unfortunately due to work commitments we had to check out early today but as I'm a gal who makes the most of every opportunity I was up bright and early and in the pool by 7am! Besides, I'm also a terrible sleeper! I debated with myself whether or not I'd do it and in the end I concluded that I simply must, lest I  regret it. So I did it. I tentatively pushed open the door, braved the cold air and stepped once more into the glorious heat of the hot tub. Oh to lie there in the early morning darkness, with the sky brightening over the rolling fields and fir tree-tops just visible ahead and surrounded by some dwindling twinkling stars and twittering arising birds. Truly magical.

Sadly the magic had to end and in the twinkling of an eye I was back home before I knew it.

My stay at the hotel may have come to an end but luckily for me my day of relaxation didn't have to. I was never so glad that I'd pushed myself to do a major house clean before I left, so now I could treat myself to a read and a snooze, followed by a walk.

And then, as mad as this sounds, I actually got stuck in and washed my windows! The Housework Police can come visit me anytime they want now!

These mini-breaks are good for the soul, relaxing and invigorating, with batteries recharged it's amazing how productive we can become.

I hereby declare mini-breaks mandatory for all and I'm now saving up for my next one ;-)


Note: Image by Irelandbyways.com

Onwards and Upwards

I've been missing-in-action from Blogland again, haven't I ?

Very naughty of me, I know but time is just running away on me it seems.

I had a very disappointing time when the Blog Awards Ireland finalist lists were announced and found that I wasn't named in any category, despite being nominated in four. I know I said I wasn't under any illusions and was delighted to be even short-listed and that's true, but.... well .... I kinda lied, I just didn't realise it at the time and well... it would have been nice! I am of course very grateful to those who were kind enough to nominate me and very excited for my blogger friends Looking For Blue Sky (a real life friend also) and Magnum Lady who did make the finalist's lists. Girls, it's up to you both now to fly the flag! No pressure but I'd love if even one of you could bring home an award. The very best of  luck this Saturday!

As for me, I suppose I could try to find out what I did 'wrong' and try to get it 'right' and give the adjudicators what they want. But then I wouldn't be 'me' and I quite like being me. So, I'll just plod along here in Blogland and stay true to myself.

It's been an exciting time too. Starting last Tuesday with a phone call from the ebullient Brenda Donohoe and ending with a very beautiful radio interview with Genevieve and her daughter Lucy on the Mooney Show, on behalf of our iPhones4Autism.ie campaign. It really is a lovely piece of radio, click on the link if you have time and listen to the podcast to hear Lucy say 2 new words live on radio! All thanks to a donated iPhone. Please tell anyone you know upgrading to iPhone 5 to donate their old one to our campaign, if they can.

Of course it's also been an extremely busy time as I act as liaison and advocate for both my mother and son. We're talking serious tail-chasing time here. All this to-ing and fro-ing and tail-chasing has meant that it was also a forgetful time as I over-looked, among other things, the signing of an important form with detrimental consequences. I've decided to write my way put of the situation by explaining all the demands being placed on my time in a letter. A very long letter. It's quite a scary read! I swear, its a wonder I have time to breathe let alone wrote this!

But you know, we all have disappointing, exciting, busy and even boring times. It's called 'life' and we get through them as best we can. We have our beliefs and little sayings to help us along the way.

Like 'be positive', 'stay strong' and 'stay true to yourself'.

There are also two statements that I was reminded of recently that can really help in trying times. I'd like to share them with you now,  in the hope that they'll help you too.

There's this meaningful 'prayer' that undoubtedly has been said by many of us...

And this one is a particularly valuable insight...

You know, if I could magically develop a pair of thin thighs I could don a pair of particularly high, ass-kicking, heels and hand deliver that letter myself!

I may not quite manage to conquer the world  but I can certainly make a start by conquering the unyielding and impenetrable Department of Social 'Protection' ;-)


Note: Photos appear courtesy of my local Curves Gym :-)

Age is But a Number - Preferably a Slinky Red One

Age for the older mum can be a worrying concept. It can creep into your mind like a burrowing worm, intent on destruction of the soul, leaving nothing but tears and trauma in it's wake.

If you let it.

The concept of the older mum's age can also burrow like a squiggly, squidgy worm into the still malleable mind of a pre-teen, and cause untold concern.

So, how does one counteract the potential drastic effects of this mean and downright nasty burrowing and squiggly worm of destruction then?

I suppose one could sit down with one's child and explain things in a clear and simple way.

One could say things like:

Son, I know a lot of your friend's mums are ten years younger than me. Children really know how to make you feel good, don't they? But, can they dance hip hop style son? Or high kick their way through a Can-Can routine? I'm sure I still can -can if I really tried. Or can they hold a three hour dance rehearsal with a large group of children and then come home and make your dinner?

Look son, I've no intentions of going anywhere for a very long time and, you should know, I do mostly have longevity on my side. Your Nanny has been very, very ill recently and has since returned to the comfortable surroundings of her nursing home - and been re-named Lazarus. The human fighting spirit and the power of the will to live never cease to amaze. Her Mother, your Great-Grandmother,  lived to be 80. My paternal Grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 90 and no-one could ever deny her fighting spirit.

And son my Aunt - your Great-Aunt, but I don't think she'd thank me for that moniker so 'my Aunt' she shall remain - is a very young 70 who loves her aerobic classes and walks everywhere. She's a gal after my own heart and loves a lively night out with music and dancing. On a night out with us last year she and her similarly aged pal received a standing ovation from the very young clientele of a very lively pub! And on our girly Christmas night out her and her fellow septuagenarian friends danced the night away and stayed up as late as the rest of us.

Oh son, I so wanna be like her when I grow up....

And I have to tell you son, when we were on holidays this year and I stayed up to watch the nightly shows that were on in our hotel, I witnessed something of note one night. Well, I thought it was of note anyway....

See, the lead singer did the usual choosing someone from the audience thing to dance with him, thereby encouraging others up on the dance floor. Of course he picked a gorgeous 20 something beauty, stunningly clad in a short, slinky black number. She looked really pretty on the floor and he only had eyes for her.

Which meant that he missed a real personality on the dance floor. That being a similarly slim, donning a form fitting beautiful little blue dress Glamorous Gran who was also sporting a discreet shoulder tattoo and who must have been at least 75 years young. She danced them all off the floor, so she did.

And the silly lead singer didn't even notice her and he chose the same sexy young wan for the next set too, silly man!

You know son, I want to be like that gorgeous tattooed Glamorous Gran too, when I grow up.

And I want to be like the 82 year old lady who apparently attends a country branch of my Curves gym! I hear that she went to Cuba this year for her holidays.....

So you see son, I can't possibly go anywhere anytime soon, I have too much growing up to do.

As do you, my dear boy.

Oh the fun we'll have when we're all grown up, us two.

Just think how proud you'll be of your oul' mum when I take to the dance floor at some celebratory occasion or other of yours - all fabulously resplendent in a little red number, strutting my stuff. I'm sure I'll have remastered it by then, so I'll even treat you and all of your friends to my party piece....

What? You don't  think I can do it? Well, I used to be able to. I'll have you know that I was once carried onto the stage in the splits, 6 feet up in the air by 3 hot male dancers!

Don't worry though, I won't embarrass you. I'll be way more glamorous, I'll be all made up and my hair will be fabulous and will be neither permed nor coloured blue.

And you never know , even though personally I'm not into them, I may even stage my very own senior life crisis and be sporting my own discreet tattoo.

Maybe on my shoulder.

Maybe not ;-)


PS: Just so you know, dear reader, a lot of wood was touched during the writing of this post!

What Jazzy Does

My pre-teen boy came home from school the other day and very bravely, but potentially stupidly, dared to tread where others, far older and wiser, know better than to tread.

He asked me a question.

A question no doubt that others would also love to know the answer to but are way too afraid to ask.

A question, it was clear, that he'd been meaning to ask for quite some time but was only now brave enough getting around to asking.

'Mum' says he quizzically, 'what do you do all day when I'm at school?'

(The emphasis was on all and the question mark was loaded, meaning what could you possibly be doing for all that time?)


'Well' said I, pausing to dampen down my naturally rising bristles at his innocent audacity. Well, he is still only 12, he knows no better. The ways of women have yet to be explained to him... and I would love to be a fly on the wall when that conversation takes place. Or maybe not!

I considered how best to answer him, taking a quick glance around to see if I had actually done any housework that day, housework apparently being the only obvious, visible proof of the work of a stay-at-home-mum. Harrumph ........

I think I told him something like: I made beds, tidied up, fed the cats, went shopping to get the dinner in, did some computer work (earning me an eye-roll) and all the time looking forward to seeing him after school. He loved the last bit but, apart from the eye roll, I think I lost him after my bed-making!

I may as well just  have said 'nothing much son, just waited for you to come home'!

I didn't expand on my computer 'work', though I do fondly recall a time, in my other life, when I used to tell people they should text me if they'd sent me an email. This busy SAHM was far too busy for all that online malarkey, you see.

My, how the - barely clean - tables have turned as more of my time is now spent online! Although I do keep up with the necessities I wouldn't welcome the Housework Police to my home. They needn't waste their time on any surveillance either. No point as they wouldn't be able to see in thorough the windows! You know in my world my windows are like my eyebrows. I never attend to them because I never notice them, even when I'm looking at them straight in the eye, so to speak.

So, what exactly does this housework-shy Jazzy actually do all day then?

Well apart from the bare essential household duties, attending my beloved Curves gym, occasionally meeting pals for coffee/lunch, I drink copious amounts of tea whilst sitting with my laptop on my knee with cat purring and budgie chirping happily nearby. Total bliss.

The Social Media Police, on the other hand would be most welcome to visit. I'd even make them tea but there'd be no Stepford Wife home bakes!

My fascination with online activities started off with facebook, this blog then twitter and I enjoy all three. I thoroughly enjoy sharing all my random ruminations with you here and hope you enjoy reading. It's cathartic for me, I get to share and preserve times that are important to me and some frivolous ones too, just for fun. When I blog about something serious it feels really good to offload.

And last year, just in case I got bored like, I voluntarily took over the social media for the iPhones4Autism-ie campaign. I am delighted to be able to contribute to this important campaign. In fact this week my 'computer work' was mainly working on raising awareness at this crucial time with the launch of the iPhone 5.

I see all those iPhone-mad people queuing for hours for this new product and I scream at the TV: Give us yer oul' iPhones!! If only 1% of them donated their old phones think of the difference it could make to many children with Autism or Special needs?

In the very near future I will also be involved with the social media for another cause close to my heart! This one is completely different and I really look forward to it.

In January I will don my dancing shoes once more and choreograph another teen school-show. If the Housework Police could see through my windows then they would snatch a glimpse of a demented Jazzy with hoover in one hand, duster in the other, ear-phones in ear, trying out dance steps as she attends to her housework duties and taps out a few keystrokes on her dilapidated laptop!

Of course none of this is of any concern to pre-teen boy.  Apparently, not only do I not do anything much  at all all day I'm also 'the food person'! 

I like to think though, like others similar to me, I'm a stay-at-home-mum that does more than it says on the tin.

I'm certainly more than just 'the food person'!

If  you're a stay-at-home-mum reading this then I know better than to ask you what you do all day ;-)



The Desperation of a Nation?

Over the past couple of weeks I couldn't help but wonder what is happening to the people of  this little nation of ours?

Not a day goes by, it seems, that we can't turn on our radios in the morning, or sleepily scroll down our twitter pages, without hearing some dreadful news. A stabbing here, a death by drug-overdose there or an accidental death somewhere else.

The most disturbing news of all was the deaths of two children, with both their mothers found in serious conditions nearby. Both incidents occurring mere weeks, yet miles, apart and while the full facts of both cases are not yet known, the mind boggles at how this can be.

What is happening here, in this little nation steeped in austerity measures, with approx 450,000 unemployed and no apparent end in sight?

A nation in economic recession and depression?

Or maybe that's the answer, right there and what we're seeing is the desperation of a nation?

I know that these occurrences are always evident in a society but they definitely increase in difficult times with increased burglaries, murders and suicides.

People and families surviving on Social Welfare, or the working poor who are being taxed to the hilt with more austere cuts and tax increases to follow.

And all to save our banks and to keep opportune and unsecured bondholders free from any risk whatsoever.

People are at risk though and they get desperate. And react accordingly.

Maybe they have no-one to turn to? There is most definitely a lack of services, that's for sure.

Recently we, as a nation, totally supported those with Disabilities who took to the streets to fight against the proposed cuts to their services. They were successful in this, despite some cock and bull from the Minister saying these cuts were never going to happen in the first place!

The savings that these-cuts-that-were-never-going-to-be would generate will now have to be found elsewhere in the health budget we're told, with the area of Mental Health being the most likely target.

 Perhaps that will also prove to be a figment of our collective imaginations, who knows?

But it makes sense doesn't it? Reducing the already poor Mental Health services in a country which seems to be struggling emotionally.

Mental Health services haven't changed much over the years, including the Celtic Tiger era when the funds were more likely to be available.

No-one should ever under-estimate how a person with mental illness will behave, no matter how sweet and gentle their normal personality can be. Especially when they are in crisis with no-one to help and no services to rely on.

Especially at the weekend.

And no-one should presume that you can just ring for an ambulance for a mentally ill patient and have them transported forthwith to the nearest hospital. Perhaps that might work for a heart attack or car-accident patient but not so for a psychiatric one. Referral from a GP and prior acceptance from the relevant hospital must be obtained first, if there's a bed available. You have no idea how long this process can take.

Especially at weekends.

There's no psychiatric equivalent of an  A & E you see and you'll find that the medically ill patient won't usually require a Garda escort either. Of course if the patient refuses to get into the ambulance then that's the end of that.

The patient should re-schedule their nervous breakdown for a more convenient time, thank you very much.

Preferably not on a weekend.

Perhaps the patient might be good enough to stall their mental breakdown until the next available community clinic, a week hence?

And if the mentally ill patient should also have the audacity to present with a co-morbid (most likely - but not always - psychiatrically related) then and only then, can you order an ambulance and get thee hence to the nearest acute hospital, which of course will not be co-located with a psychiatric one . There will be psychiatric services available though. Eventually.

As I've written before, I would rather have broken bones than a broken mind in this country.

Especially at weekends.

So, what can we do?

Over the weekend I noticed a little group of mothers in the facebook community I'm part of, banding together and sharing phone numbers. No one should ever feel they have no-one to talk to, they reason. There will always be someone online for them.

Especially at weekends, I hope.

We cannot manifest official full weekend services nor can we sprout 'pop-up' co-located hospitals overnight, but we can come together to help and keep an eye out for each other, online or in our local communities.

I thought that was such a positive and practical move by these fabulous facebook ladies.

Yet for some inexplicable reason it also made me feel a little sad.

Possibly because it's born out of necessity, a sense of if we don't help ourselves who will?

Not our Government and certainly not Angela Merkel who's of the illusion that Ireland 'is on a good path.'

However, Governments and delusional Troikas aside, we should try to collectively remain positive and restore our community values.

And mind ourselves.

Take care.


PS: Normal upbeat services will resume shortly!