10 Ways I know We're Back To School.....

I really do enjoy the freedom of summer. The break from the relentless and mundane school related routines affords self-granted permission to chill, to take things at a far leisurely pace and to engage in some fun trips and activities.

The school summer break in Ireland is quite long, with approximately two months off for primary school children and three for those at second-level. It stretches endlessly in front of you at the beginning, until suddenly you blink and it's all over. Your pride and joy is back to school and has almost completed his first two weeks, and all in a heartbeat too.

It's a shock to the system, this back to school lark - for all of about five minutes and then it's like the new norm.

And there are ways that this new norm makes itself known. To me, at least .........

Summer Round Up 2016

It's always a big moment at the start of the summer. You know, when you flick that alarm switch on your phone into that magical 'off' position. Thinking of the long lazy, and most likely rainy, summer days stretching out ahead of you. Plans for lazy days, barbecues, regular trips and some house and garden jobs are made; knowing that you have so much time to fill and a requirement to keep a teenager busy.

Yet before you know it, in a blink and a whisper, the summer is over, and you're flicking that darn phone alarm switch back into the not-so magical 'on' position.

I mean, how ridiculously quickly did that happen this year?

Of course, yet again, I didn't quite plow through all my plots and plans this year.

But I'm choosing not to dwell on that, after all unaccomplished plans form opportunities for days out in the future.

Instead, while my son settles into his senior cycle of secondary school,  I'm going to attempt to round up some of the special things that we did achieve this summer, but never got to blog about.....

Netflix Nights: Bumper Catch-Up and a Sad Farewell.....

I have been remiss of late on all things blogging, but particularly with regard to my Netflix favourites and responsibilities. Life got in the way you see, and my blogging mojo went astray for a bit. So let me try to remedy that now and share with you some of the shows this midlife blogger and her teenager have been watching recently.

In the past few months here are some of the shows I have watched:

Reasons to be Cheerful - Thinking Positively

Although I do like to have lazy days scheduled - or to occur organically, for any and no reason except I declare them so - in my life I do tend to be kept busy most days. Immersing myself in fun (to me) activities, projects and days out with my teenager. However, for the past week I have had some downtime enforced upon me. This saw me dozing on the sofa, after morning lie-ins, any chance I got - after all absolutely 'must-do' jobs were completed of course. I was sick you see. And sick mums don't get to take to their sick beds! It was a chest infection, that re-ignited my dreaded and incessant asthmatic cough from hell. Which I believe also led to a very painful toothache.... all that bone-rattling, body-heaving coughing I reckon! Which made taking my inhaler and a dentist trip quite impossible. Oh, I was quite the disaster zone.

Yet this brings me to my reasons to be cheerful this week.

Yes, being unwell gave me reasons to be cheerful!

Let's see now....

A Day In Court

It was a very early morning start with a lot of sitting around. Just waiting for things to get going.

Everyone, no matter their position on this day, had put a lot of effort into preparing for our big day in court. The ladies making sure our hair and make up was right, and the gentlemen ensuring they were smart and presentable. 

Then of course there was the issue of what to wear? Jurors presumably must look smart, right? Certainly this juror wanted to so a suit and it's shirt, from my working days a decade hence at the very least, was dug out of the back of a wardrobe and a little prayer said for a snug present day fitting. And thankfully answered. With a little help of the holding in of ones' breath and a safety pin, it must be said. 

It was a big occasion for the jury. We had deliberated and were finally ready to reveal our verdict to a waiting, packed court room. 

Summer Days Out: Powerscourt Waterfall

So, we're half way through the long summer holidays here in Ireland and I'm conscious of the fact that I'm running out of time to attend to this year's 'Summer Bucket List of things to do'; much less blog about them. Oh, I have been a naughty blogger. And a bit of a lazy mum. But, in my defense, the weather gods have completely confused the seasons, or are utterly ignoring us, and are not bestowing upon us the required sunshine and summery inspiration.

Time to ignore the weather gods then; just make our plans, pack accordingly and off we go. One trip a week, to get an outdoor-loving teenager out of his indoor haven and into wild outdoors. Among other smaller weekly activities and household chores, of course.

Reasons to be Cheerful : Holiday Return Delights #R2BC

I cannot tell you how many weeks I have promised myself - and others - that this was the week I would list the moments that brought some joy into my life.

I am very lucky, every week there's lots of little things to make me smile, and sometimes there are some big things too. Finding the time to blog has been a tad challenging though!

However it seems that this really is the week I'm going to do a 'Reasons to be Cheerful' post. Well, the week I'm going to start one at least -  on screen as opposed to just in my head. For a change.

Let's see how that goes then ....

Right so, I'll  kick this off with the really big thing. Which may also explain yet another one of my many blogging absences of late.

We've just returned from a family holiday in Portugal! That's a good start, right?! It was really lovely; a heady mix  of sun lounging, rest, relaxation and busy sight-seeing days. With wine liberally flowing in between, naturally. I hope to share more of this trip with you soon.

But the best part of this holiday? Apart from the many beautiful sights to behold? The one thing that put a really big grin on my mush?

'Up There for Dancing'...... and Blogging.

I've had nothing to write about for the past while. Well, nothing I thought would be of interest, that is. Either to me, or to you. I even wondered if perhaps I was done blogging?

I could of course have regaled you with my recent flurry of friend meet-ups. You see, while I may not have been active on social media sites of late I have been very busy partaking in real life social events. It's been quite the mix of catching up with friends from all walks of my life thus far. From a school pal to more local ones, from ex-work colleagues to my show pals, a family party and a blogger meet-up with Looking For Blue Sky and Bright Side of Life! There was even a recent sneaky five-day, bi-generational, trip to Lanzarote, for heaven's sake! A total of nine very mindful and alert septuagenarian mothers and their daughters. Sadly, due to circumstances I was the lone daughter. That aside, it's been so much fun.

My friends are important to me though and it's not always appropriate to share. So, what would it take to get me back to the world of blogging then?

Surprisingly enough it's Angela Rippon, the former newscaster, dancer and presenter of the original - before it went all 'Strictly' - 'Come Dancing', who has turned out to be my catalyst.

I watched her programme The Truth About Dementia on BBC1 last night. This is never an easy documentary subject to watch; especially not straight after your visit to a loved-one affected by this disease. However, the usual sad stories aside, I was hooked.

All Abuzz at Drone Expo Ireland 2016

It's been two weeks since this midlife, stay-at-home-mum/blogger was plucked from the comfort of a lazy Sunday afternoon in her own home, and deposited at this techie event in the RDS, Dublin.

Well I thought it was something that was bound to be of interest to my techie teenager you see, and we'd all do absolutely anything to get them out and about. Right?

Besides, they were bound to have a coffee dock/tea station where I could base myself - content with cuppa, book and phone - while my son went to explore all things drone-like. Weren't they?

At least that was the vague plan I had in mind.

But there was - if you'll pardon the pun - a distinct buzz in the air as soon as we arrived at this event. Which enticed me to have a quick glance around first, before I settled into a quiet little corner.

The first thing we saw, and heard, was a small drone in flight. In demonstration of it's tininess and durability.... and it's puchasability too. Naturally since tempting children, teenagers and techie adults to part with their dosh was the sole purpose! It was quite cool though.....

Easter Sunday Centenary Parade:1916/2016

This Easter Sunday dawned much like most others in bygone years, and eras. Lovely sunshine infused with the coldness of a fresh spring-time air.

Yet this Easter Sunday in Ireland was very different to most. It was one hundred years ago to the time of year - given that Easter falls on different dates each year - that a band of patriotic Irish men and women took up arms and a strong stance against British rule. And they stormed the G.P.O. (General Post Office) in O'Connell Street, Dublin's main and very beautiful thoroughfare; known as Sackville Street back then. And so the Easter Rising 1916 began. Note: The 1916 Rising was planned for Easter Sunday but due to the capturing of arms en route from Germany it was cancelled, a decision was then taken to go ahead on Easter Monday, the actual date being April 24th 1916. There will be more commemorations on that date.

Home Alone and Happy Thoughts on St Patrick's Day #R2BC

In many ways my St Patrick's Day started off like most other days of the week. Well, maybe more like a weekend day that's been plonked in the middle of the week. Which it was. And thankfully it was without the early morning alarm. From my phone that is. My internal body clock early morning alarm is a whole other story!

It turned out to be a good peaceful day all round, but it was to differ from previous years. I had no idea how it was going to go though; or who would be doing what, and where, and when.

It started with..........

The Beach Walk

An almost deserted beach with the tide out is very much a rarity around here, so I take it as a wonderfully positive omen that I happened upon just that yesterday morning, of all days.

February Musical Theatre Treats.........

Anyone who knows me knows that dancing and musical theatre are integral parts of my DNA. I also love blogging, so I thought I might try to combine these interests a little; to carve out a little niche here to share the enjoyment of the shows I have the pleasure in attending. These will be honest and supportive reviews from me, with no mean-spirited utterances! The years may have made a picky attendee of me but I am also very easily entertained, and I always appreciate the massive efforts that Musical Societies put into their productions. 

February to April/May is one of the amateur musical seasons here - and I use the term 'amateur' very loosely - so I'll hopefully be a little busy being entertained in the coming weeks! I particularly appreciate amateur groups who bring whole communities of like-minded people together, and I consider them equally as important as sporting groups for the team spirit and self-esteem virtues they promote.

A little late I know but here's what entertained me in February:

Mother's Mutual Appreciation Day.......

Mother's Day dawned just as any other here. A quick 'good morning' being the only greeting. Just another day. Nothing to see here. Move along please.....

Even though it was Sunday an early school drop-off needed doing, for musical rehearsals, so I just did it.

I'm a mother, this is what I do. It's my job to do the little things. To care, to nurture. As best I can. The same as all mothers, before us and to come, the whole world over. Every day of the year.

And I usually get a 'thanks' for these little things too. Most days.

I don't really need Mother's Day for that.

If I Had an Attic.....

Ever since I was a teenager I've always wanted a proper attic. You know, one that could be converted?

You see, when we were growing up I had two cousins who's parents had converted their attics for them.

I thought they were simply the coolest bedrooms ever. One even had a built-in shower, for heaven's sake. And this was before the phrase 'ensuite bathroom' became the norm for an ordinary bedroom!

However it wasn't to be. There were enough bedrooms in our house for our little family, so no need for such expenditure. I was told. On the many occasions that I begged asked.

Fast forward a decade or three and I now have my own little house, and my own little family.

I love our little semi-d house and the lovely area in which we are so blessed to live.

We live beside the sea, you see. Although I can't see the sea from my house. If you see what I mean?!

And our attic is tiny, with a very low pitch. Not possible to convert at all. I was told. On the many occasions that I begged asked.

The Despondent #GE16 Voter .......

I've given it a bit of thought and it seems that this is what I've become.

I don't know why, or how.

It just happened.

I'm not a knowledgeable, political hack by any means. But I do have my own thoughts, beliefs and a sense of justice for all.

For example and in no particular order - just as they tumble from my addled brain - I care about the following:

Insomniac Maniac

                Another night spent in hopeless pursuit of sleep.

                Going to bed with eyes barely open, does not some slumber guarantee.

                And yet again some musical chairs with beds and sofas is in store.

                Desperately Seeking the magic place where my mind and body might finally succumb.

                And wondering why I even bother.

Don't Panic: Just be Vigilant and Stay Safe....

Reading and watching the news stories recently would make one think that Ireland is a very scary and unsafe place to live right now. Which wouldn't be a fair assumption. In all fairness.

There was the recent, awful Dublin Gang Land shootings; the first one perpetrated by men impersonating GardaĆ­ (Irish police force) and, equally as worrying, reports of some 999 calls going unanswered.

There has also been reports of lone women drivers being stopped at night by men, in some cases also impersonating GardaĆ­, complete with flashing blue lights on their veh-icles.

Then there was the report of an alleged attempted abduction of a teenager outside a local school. Prompting the dreaded text received by parents believing they had passed that particular concern at primary school level. And leading to a reminder, and a more mature, 'stranger-danger' talk with my son. It saddened me to have to warn him, among other things, not to run to anyone's assistance, who might ask for his help with their dying baby/animal/favourite Granny, in that house/car/van 'over there' ......

The Great Valentine's #NetflixNightIn Hijack.....

So, Valentine's Day is almost upon us and I wonder, do you have any plans on how to spend this most romantic night?

Perhaps you plan on a lovely, romantic night out?

Or maybe a romantic night-in - all loved up on the couch, children all tucked in and a bottle of wine or bubbly at the ready is for you. Or perhaps it's a girly night-in with girl-friends, or mother and daughter(s), watching some fun romantic-comedy or other. Or maybe you plan on a whole family ensemble gathering!

Whatever your preference the Netflix people have put together some romantic viewing suggestions for that cosy night-in! Delights such as these:

The Joys and Pitfalls of a Blog Makeover!

I did it! My blog make-over is finally complete and I can now welcome you aboard. You can also join me on my new facebook and twitter pages if you like - it's very lonely over there right now!

I have been plotting and planning this for many months now, doing my usual procrastinating and agonising. As I tend to do. The biggest hurdle for me was the name-change ..... more, should I do it than what it would be. I started this blog over seven years ago you see, when my now teenager was only eight years old. A lot has happened in that time and we've both 'grown up', as some may put it.

I think I've outgrown my beloved 'Jazzygal' moniker, if I'm honest. That name choice was influenced by my much-ingrained interest in shows and dancing, and was not intended to belie a more youthful me. Besides I've been continually mis-represented as 'Jazzy Girl' over that period,  which I really disliked!

Yes, time for a name change......

*Out of Service*

After much aforethought and ado about all sorts, this blog is now going: 'Out of Service'.

For a bit of a much-needed over-haul and some prettying TLC, as I reckon it is long overdue. One might even call it a 7 year blogging itch..... given that I'm into my 8th year of blogging.

Wow, hard to believe. I will have to keep re-reading that last sentence......

But this break-in-service is just for a short - I hope - duration, you'll be glad, or sorry - I hope not! - to hear.

Although that very much depends on on my very haphazard techie skills.

My 2016 Condensed to Just One Word .......

I first heard of Susannah Conway and her One Word concept through Kate Takes 5 blog, and it had me quite intrigued. I quite liked the idea of reducing all my hopes and aims for 2016 down to just one word. Quite the challenge for a rambling ruminator such as myself.

Now, unlike Susannah, I not only like structure and schedules I actually need them. More than I realised. In fact I have come to the conclusion that making and following to-do lists - that have elongated time-limits, as necessary - calms the jumble of my disorganised brain. It can be quite the jungle inside my head you see and even when I actually do get 'stuff ' done, it doesn't always register with me. Ticking it off a list however does register, and creates a much calmer environment. For me. Crazy, I know!

Heads Up

It was a bitter cold evening as I stepped from the icy platform and into the Dart carriage that was thankfully steeped in warmth. The train was relatively empty as I began my journey against the rush-hour flow. For into town I was bound, to meet my childhood ex-ballet class pal to go see the intriguing Bolshoi Babylon.

It was a short journey so I nestled into my seat that was pleasantly perched over a heater, and buried my head into my phone; busying myself in the world of emails, social media and Candy Crush. As one does, to shorten one's journey.

Before I knew it I was almost in town and as I raised my head I noticed how full the carriage had suddenly, as it seemed to me, become. With all seats taken it was standing room only, filled with mostly males, of whom some were teenagers, and a sprinkling of women such as myself. And all to a man - teenager or woman - with head buried down into their phones. Much as I myself had been mere moments earlier.

And I tutted to myself, as I silently admonished us all for our behaviour.

#Netflix Nights: A New Year Begins.....

And it began with a rather clever Netflix New Year's Eve idea. A little covert operation designed to get the children to bed at a reasonable hour on New Year's Eve - by having a fun family party to ring in 2016 at 9 pm with their favourite Netflix characters, thereby freeing the parents to celebrate at the more normal midnight hour! For those who didn't mind keeping their children up late that is. Being the parents of a teenager we did the whole Netflix Countdown thing in reverse. In other words, the parents went out early, dashing home to the teen in time to watch an episode of our current favourite Netflix series before ringing in the New Year together at midnight! Whatever works I say, and perhaps it might be something to watch out for at this year's end?
We were also asked to snap and tweet at 9 pm that night so, not wanting to be excluded like, I tweeted my 'Reverse Netflix NYE Countdown' selfie. Taken discreetly and very quickly, so no-one would realise!

A Magical Dublin City, and Beyond......

I quite like living outside Dublin's busy city centre, where I have such lovely views to enjoy; green park lands, scenic sea-views with relatively small yet impressive hills and mountains nearby.

I get to enjoy lovely, peaceful walks that enable me to soak up all the surrounding sights and sounds. When I'm in the mood to get my ass off the couch, that is.

I was in such a mood the other evening. So much so that it was approaching the winter bewitching hour of 5 pm when I finally ventured outside, all cosily wrapped up, to squeeze in a quick stroll around part of our local park. The relatively dry and lake-free part that is, after all the recent storms.

I was instantly captivated by the interestingly, eerie colours of the dusky sky, as the dark night was about to claim it.

Suddenly a flock of extremely noisy birds swooped hither and tither, all across this magical sky. I can only assume they were sensing the imminent darkness and knew they had to bed down for the night. Not unlike some active children at bedtime, some might say!

Clouds gathered ever closer and darkness fell within minutes, the twittering birds were still to be heard loudly nestling into some nearby trees, and the sky transformed into an almost super-natural scene of great beauty.

It was an extraordinary few minutes of nature that I was lucky enough to witness. Who needs the hustle and bustle of a busy city centre, I mused to myself?

Then one day later, I had cause to travel right into the very heart of Dublin City's hustle and bustle, where this adult and her teenager enjoyed pizza and chats with another adult and her teenager. Said teenagers, with camera and camera phone in hand, wandered off just after the meal, for a short picture-snapping stroll alongside the River Liffey, which was very close by. After some time we followed suit and I noticed the very same colourful, dusk-approaching sky settling in around our urban city life; casting the same magical spell around the city's sights and sounds as it had around the more rural scene a mere 24 hours earlier.

The symbolic harp-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge was looking splendid as usual.....

We saw the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship again, a replica of the ship that transported Irish emigrants to America through famine ravished times. It is therefore colloquially known as the 'Famine Ship' that is now a kind of history museum during the day and available for events at night.  The museum part is now firmly on our 'must-see' list for our next town meet-up.

    The Famine Memorial (and World Poverty Stone) situated close to the Jeanie Johnston

Next up to grab my attention was, strangely enough, a bank building. I think it was the interesting architectural shapes, somehow blending in with the surrounding buildings, with the backdrop of a magical sky, all shimmering in the river before it that did it for me....

And finally I was totally captivated by the lights reflecting from Butt Bridge, also shimmering on the waters below.

Two days and two completely different sights and sounds - from one city and surrounding area - captivated by the same magical sky. And all within a short distance by Dart.

There is so much more to Dublin than always meets the eye, isn't there?

Note: If you'd like more information about Dublin's many bridges, and  historical events, check out some of Annette Black's interesting and concise Bridges of Dublin stories