Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hope Springs Eternal.....

Last Saturday dawned brightly; full of sunshine and hope.

All morning taxi-mum jobs were completed quick-smart, and for the first time this year the patio doors were dramatically swept open, inviting the fresh air and the Spring sunshine into our home.

But that wasn't enough.

So I ventured outside, draped in a warm jumper, with cushion, book and knitting in hand, to sit, Outside. In the sunshine.

Our enclosed back garden made the sun feel warmer, so the jumper was discarded and a summer garden chair was unearthed from under it's protective, rain-sodden covering; was dusted off, dressed with aforementioned cushion and promptly pronounced sun-worship-ready.

I sat there feeling the warmth on my face as I calmly knitted. Pretty Cat was naughtily toying with trails of my wool as she lay at my feet, and the air was filled with birdsong, hope and possibilities.

Saturday's sunny day, occurring just one day after a solar eclipse on Spring Equinox Day, heralded the hope and possibility of the summer to come. 

It was like we skipped Spring entirely and arrived in early Summer,

Now I'm not totally away with fairies. I know Ireland is a country of many seasons, most happening in one day, and we'll probably see all of them between now and June. Hell, it'll probably be hail-stoning for Easter! And with this report I see I'm not far off with my forecast.

But Saturday was sunny, and warm. I made the most of it and went for a walk, to clear my head and to let my thoughts roam where they will.

As I walked through the wooded part of the park, admiring the sun dancing warmly through willowy branches onto the ground ahead, I appreciated the fact that I was back walking after a two week set-back to my recovery programme.

I thought about all the walks I've missed out on and on the remainder of last year's summer that was stolen from me through injury. I want to get Lost In The Woods again with my Teen Boy, and to go on more hikes! Little did I know when writing that post that it would be one of the last walks I would do with my son, for many months.

I strolled happily on, with determination for a better summer ahead in 2015 and snatching glimpses of shimmering sea as it tantalisingly revealed itself through budding boughs

I then stood marveling at the fact that there I was, standing in a field in County Dublin, capturing a shadowy Sugar Loaf Mountain surrounded with cottony clouds, in a not too distant field in County Wicklow!

The weather has remained mostly sunny since Saturday albeit with some rain showers, but it is getting colder again. The hailstones didn't wait until Easter, they hailed today just before I hit 'publish' on this post! The garden chair is back under it's protective covering, that glistens with early morning frost, and April with it's 'April Showers', and whatever else it has to offer, has yet to descend.

But Saturday was my day of hope and determination for the summer to come.

I will hang on to the thoughts of it's beauty.

After all, Hope does Spring eternal.

Doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Blessings, The Gods of Good Health ...... and Chocolate.

It's been a pleasant couple of days really, all things considered.

Having Mother's Day and St Patrick's Day within days of each other, and no school in between, was a bit of genius really; resulting in a kind of a bonus, 'Happy Long Weekend'! Of sorts.

If you were a cynical person you might think that the commercial gods of economic recovery had something to do with it, with pubs and restaurants filling up within days of each other and Greeting Card companies taking their share.

In honour of the latter, Mother's Day - and Father's Day too in fairness - is more commonly known as 'Hallmark Day' in this house!


Nevertheless a card and some chocolates ......shh, don't mention the diet!.... were dutifully presented and a family meal out was had, and enjoyed. No mean feat considering the recurrence of Teen Boy's sinusitis, despite strong antibiotics. Sinusitis really is a horrible, painful infection and shame on the gods of ill health for inflicting it on him, yet again!

Of course pubs and restaurants weren't the only busy places this Mother's Day. Mother's Day can be difficult for some and sadly cemeteries and Nursing Homes had a fair amount of traffic through them on the day too.

I consider myself very lucky to have been visiting the latter on Sunday. It is a blessing that we still have her to visit. Not that the gods of good health necessarily have anything to do with it. It's more ...... the 'blessings of a medical miracle'! It was a lovely, yet difficult visit. Being both the daughter and a mother is a given on these visits, but one perseveres as one never knows when these visits will be no more.....

Then suddenly it was St Patrick's Day. Although we've never attended the Dublin St Patrick's Day parade, noisy crowds and long waits having never been our thing, we have supported local, shorter ones over the years. I knew last year's local parade would be our last. We're far too grown up and too damn cool for that these days! A family day out with swimming, relaxation and more lovely food was the plan. But swimming and sinusitis are not good bedfellows and it would really be tempting fate to go, now that he's feeling better, Besides, exams are beckoning - *gulps* - as is the ton of homework that has to be done.

So, no signs of patriotism in chez Jazzy on this the day of great Irishness, where everyone in the world can be an honoury Irish person if they so wish.

It was just business as usual really.

I'm hoping the fact that I did some of my aran knitting on this our national day, with 'The Quiet Man' on the TV in the background, will redeem me!

However, I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day and that you enjoyed St Patrick's Day, wherever in the world you are.

May we all go forward, with all the Irish blessings there are and the hope that the gods of good health will shine upon us all!

                                        Author unknown, I think. I did try to locate!
                                        The photo however, is all mine.

                                               Lá fhéile Pádraig sona libh go léir 

Monday, March 9, 2015

'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'- the 'Must-Stream' New Netflix Comedy Show!

I was like a child on Christmas morning last Wednesday, as I got ready to head to Dublin Airport for my flight to London for the preview of  Netflix 's new  'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' show.  I'd had barely any sleep I was that excited to be invited to this event, that had the added attraction of an overnight stay for me in the delightfully opulent 5 star Soho Hotel - a prize I'd won with this blog post on Looking for Blue Sky's blog! 

The launch was organised by Netflix, and the wonderful team at Nicola Watkins Public Relations, to provide some cherished 'me time' for the #unbreakablemums on their Netflix Streamteam. It was also an opportunity to see this new show, the latest addition to the incredible library of Netflix content, before its official launch on Friday 6th March. 

The event itself was so very well done, with an intimate feel allowing us #unbreakablemums to get to know each other better, to simply socialise, while we casually queued to get nails polished and shoulders massaged. With cocktails in hand and a constant stream of delicious foodie nibbles being served by very friendly and attentive staff. You should know that the staff at the Soho Hotel know how to make seriously good cocktails, especially Bellinis!

That's me with the lovely Kate Takes 5 on top left 
and some of the Irish #unbreakablemums bottom left!

Soon it was time to move to the screening room to see the main event. I have to say, this screening room was a delightful mix of coziness and relaxation as we all settled down, with more cocktails and foodie nibbles being served, to await the viewing of the first three episodes of 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' A trip to the local cinema will never be the same again! 

Maybe it was the cocktails but we did all giggle at various parts throughout. It was like a ripple-giggle effect that you sometimes get at a good comedy movie. You know, when someone sees the gag coming and can't hold the chuckle back, or when different audience members find different moments funny.

The show is all about Kimmy and some other women who are held in an underground bunker for fifteen years, believing that the world has ended due to their 'dumbness'! The show begins with their release and Kimmy played by Ellie Kemper, being unbreakable, decides to completely break-away and to make a new life for herself in New York.

She is a zany character, as is her gay, hero-costumed roomie - who eventually leads his similarly-costumed friends, who are all working Times Square, to revolt against their scamming costume-hire guy!

 Kimmy eventually gets herself a job working for a neurotic and impulsive employer, well-played by Jane Krakowski, who is mum to her off-the-rails and sexually active (so she claims!) 15 year old daughter, and a similarly-headed pick-pocketing younger son, played by the #KimmySchmidt tweet-favouriting, and hero-bashing, Tanner Flood!

To me 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' is a comedy show with zany, off-the-wall humour, interspersed with some rapid one-liners and blink-and-you'd-miss-them moments. Like the fleeting re-appearance of the stray horse... I'll say no more for fear of the dreaded spoiler-alert! But some of us did agree later that it's a show that every time you watch it you might see something you missed the first time.

And that's why I think this show could be a real success.

It could even become - dare I say it - cult viewing?!

Just before I arrived in London I read this Time magazine article which labels this show as a 'must-stream comedy'. It also explains how NBC 'pre-cancelled' this show when there was no air-space available to schedule it, selling it to Netflix for streaming instead.

There are undoubtedly some who will not enjoy a comedy show such as this, but for those of us who enjoy some easy-watching show, or movie, that also makes us laugh at the end of a hard day, then this one does precisely that!

I also hope, for the cast, crew and production team, that NBC's loss will be Netflix's gain, and that this show will be a highly-rated addition to their incredible streaming content. And that they'll film another season!

And of course the beauty of Netflix is that even if you have missed the launch of this zany comedy show on Friday 6th March you can watch it any time you want!

So, get streaming and enjoy!

*Note: All 'Kimmy' photos appear with kind permission of Netflix.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Simply Socialising....

'That's no problem, I'm happy to wait', said I to my car service guy, who had just divulged a thirty minute wait. Of course I knew full well that in car-service-guy-speak, a sixty minute wait was much more likely. 

'Sure I have plenty to keep me occupied', I thought to myself, with a semi-charged iPhone in hand and a slew of tasks in mind.  There were social media sites to trawl, texts to send and maybe, hopefully, a blog post to write?

'Ah, howaya..... how's it going'? Says the Santa-bearded guy in conversational Dublin twang, who sat down beside me. 'Grand, how are you?' I replied, tearing my eyes from my screen and making full eye contact with this very friendly chap. 

I returned to my screen-based tasks when the conversation didn't move on from there . But he was persistent, was my new found bearded pal. 'What ya doing  there...... on yer phone are ya?' Says he, 'Ah sure, everyone's on their phones these days' he mused, a tad sadly. I agreed with him but told him what I was at, that I had a text that had to be sent now but otherwise I was very happy to put down my phone and to chat with him. To simply, socialise. 

So we had a lovely chat, about family, current technology and our apparent dependence on it. He didn't partake in online engagement himself, he didn't get it at all although he had a son who did. I agreed with some of his observations and shared my dislike of people on their phones at shop counters etc - I always put away my phone in these circumstances, or apologise if it's a necessary call. But I also shared the positives of online engagement, the conversational contact during the day when you're the stay-at-home-parent, home, alone, every day..... and I told him about the friends I've made through social media. I told him how some of these online friends are now friends in real life. I keep up with them in my daily social media trawls with a 'like' here, a kind, supportive word there and a giggle or two elsewhere. It's where I get my tea-break or 'water-cooler moment' - on tap, whenever I want.

He still didn't get it. Most people who don't engage with social media don't. And that's alright, so long as they don't judge those of us who do!

In time we were joined by a very friendly lady and our conversation moved on to other topics.

It was a wonderfully pleasant way to spend the wait time. No social media tasks were performed that day but I got to meet people that I wouldn't otherwise have done, and if no blog post was written I at least got fodder for one!

See, I like that. I enjoy these chance conversations one can have with random strangers, who share the little space in the world that you inhabit at any given moment. The shared experience that leads to simply, socialising. 

My more recent chance conversations have occurred in the swimming pool and spa that I go to, fairly regularly for recovery reasons.  In fact most of these conversations happen with a similarly bearded older gentleman. Although conversations had in steamy saunas tend to be short they can be quite interesting!  And it doesn't matter who you are or what you do as everyone in the pool area is the same, when reduced to swimwear! He's a lovely man, my other bearded pal, as is his wife whom I've met once. We chat about all sorts, and compare injuries and available reliefs! He has also chatted to my son and finds him to be 'a lovely young lad.' He recently talked to me about the young lads he hires on his farm, on a seasonal basis. Then suddenly, turning to my boy he asks: 'how old are you son'? with a glimmer of an idea visible in his eyes, through the hot haze of the Steam Room! 
'Hmmmm........' I thought to myself, with thoughts of Transition Year work experience and a summer job glimmering in mine!

I enjoy these real-life chance conversations and the people you meet. You never know where these contacts will lead and what friendships will be born..

Just like on social media. I really don't see the difference. Social media just expands these possibilities.

See, Looking for Blue Sky is a very good friend whom I originally met through Facebook and Blogging, and we are now good friends in real life too. Thanks to that chance meeting some years ago I got to be a guest on her fabulous blog with this post last week. And thanks to her kind offer my post won me the prize of attending the launch of  'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' in London tomorrow.

This would never have happened without my involvement in social media!

I'm very excited about this exclusive Netflix event and although I don't know anyone going, only some of my fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers with whom my path has crossed briefly online, I'm not worried. 

Not at all.

There'll be cocktails, you see.

And I'll just be myself and .....

Simply, socialise!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Show - Unbreakable #KimmySchmidt - coming to #Netflix ...... real SOON!!

I guess the title says it all really but you might want to hear a little more? Right? Well here's the blurb.....

'After living in a cult for fifteen years, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper - The Office/Bridesmaids) decides to reclaim her life and start over in New York City. Armed with just a backpack, light-up sneakers, and a couple of way-past-due library books, she’s ready to take on a world she didn't even think existed anymore.'

It sounds like a lot of fun and with the involvement of Tina Fey it's bound to make us all laugh. A lot!

The people at Netflix wondered about the unbreakable moments we mums had in our lives. We've all had some, right? I've definitely had my fair share I can tell you!

In order to celebrate the launch of this great show the wonderful Looking for Blue Sky invited me to share these unbreakable moments of mine, and so I have a little guest post over on hers right now, if you'd like to take a peek! And maybe leave a little comment?! A share or retweet would be fabulous too and would make the people over at Netflix very happy indeed! They love hashtags too, so they do, like #KimmySchmidt, #Netflix and #unbreakablemums !!

Many thanks and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Thanks for the opportunity Looking for Blue Sky, it was fun!

And if you're signed up to Netflix then tune in on March 6th and let us know what you think!

As far as I'm concerned we #unbreakablemums rule the world and so I leave you with the words of Kimmy herself:

'Look out world, nothing can stop us now'!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Very Patient Boy and his Dream Gaming Machine........

We all know the saying that 'good things come to those who wait' don't we? Well, I know a boy who has waited rather a long time for something that he really wanted.

Since last summer he has schemed and dreamed - and tormented regaled his parents - about building something very special for himself, and how he'd fund it.

He researched with constant trawls through Google and YouTube until he was quite satisfied that he'd sourced the exact, all singing-and-all-dancing, parts and components to build his very own Dream Gaming Machine. Custom made to suit his own very precise demands of course!

He then began to wear down convince his parents that this was indeed the best use of his resources and talents, and that at the tender age of fourteen he was very much up to the job. Oh, and Christmas was the best time of the year to do this. Besides, having a birthday so close to Christmas would help his finances somewhat! He really had got it all worked out and had put so much time and effort into it, how could we say no?! Words whispered like 'college' and 'Computer Science' also helped ;-)

And soon after the ordeal of placing a rather long 'Santa List' for this Dream Gaming Machine of his began. This involved researching the online site with the best deals on offer for each item of said list, and with the best transport costs too. After much head-scratching and nights spent on this task an order was finally placed with Dabs.ie, who also offered free delivery!

And with this order the patience game began in earnest.

Although the order was placed just in time for a Christmas delivery as two items were out of stock, a fact not divulged when the order was placed, the dispatch was delayed. My constant interaction with the company, mainly through twitter, resulted in the rest of the order being delivered. Tip #1: if placing an order with this company, especially a long one, don't pay with PayPal as the whole order must be in stock for dispatch to occur.

And so Christmas and his birthday passed swiftly by, with no presents for the now fifteen year old.

However shortly after Christmas, and while he was still on school holidays, many boxes arrived, minus two items of course, and the great build began.

Online research is all very well and good, and YouTube videos are a wonderful visual, but the actuality of building something like this can be a little different, to say the least! And while he did sort out a lot of problems himself we also had some helpful advice from the son of a facebook friend (you know who you are) to whom I am most grateful. Of course I too was hovering as usual in the background, also available on demand. Peace was maintained and a patient demeanor encouraged, as I gently pushed the viewing of this build as an 'ongoing project'; as opposed to a 'let's build it NOW and just play' approach.

The excitement when those fans eventually turned and the power lights lit up was contagious! Hell, I even jumped for joy!

And then came the hugest disappointment of all..... Stoopid mum had clicked the wrong button on the order form and we had the wrong operating system. It took six weeks for Dabs.com (the main UK company) to accept a return of this item so that I could buy the correct one - I'm not that stoopid! - and for them to find it in their massive warehouse. My persistence prevailed, with constant Twitter DMs to the company and finally, with the February midterm break almost complete, the Dream Gaming Machine is up and running! Albeit with our old keyboard and mouse. His new ones, also all-singing-and-all-dancing and with accompanying bells and whistles, are winging their way to us as I type! Tip #2; It is not Dabs policy to accept a return of OS product keys. Building up a good rapport with their twitter customer service team is a good plan. We are now on first name terms! 

The boy was also very patient while awaiting the delivery of his delayed birthday present, the coolest gaming chair ever, from GT Omega Racing......!!

To build your own PC at the all-knowing yet tender age of fifteen is quite an achievement, and rather a massive learning curve too. Just think of all the knowledge he has accumulated during this process, without even realising it?

The delay taught that instant gratification is not the only game in town.

The PC case may have been lying idle but it was also available to open and examine, to ensure all parts were still working, to marvel at his creation, and to set the curious mind wondering at all the inter-linking components of this thing of great beauty and wonderment.

Building your own PC and taking time over the project can therefore open the mind to further interests. I could almost hear the brain cogs grinding as the mind of a gaming teenager switches from butchering adversaries (sorry, no other way to describe it) to thoughts like: 'I wonder how that Intel core processor works exactly?' And  then I can almost see new avenues open up on the career path ahead of him.....

And a series of Computer Coding classes from the Academy of Code should help open up those avenues even more.

As for me? Well, I can honestly say that I now know more about computers and how they're built than I will ever need to know. I swear, words like Corsair, MSI Motherboards, SSD and Graphic Cards - and their functions and capabilities - now trip merrily off my tongue these days, almost as easily as 'a glass of Pinot Grigio please'! 

And we both learned that all good things do come to those who wait.

And that patience is indeed a virtue!

Now, pass me that glass of Pinot Grigio please!!

I think I've earned it!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

'Thankful Thursday' and 'Reasons to Be Cheerful' #R2BC .......

It's always nice to join in these Linkys from time to time, especially when you've had a particular busy or stressful week. And I most certainly consider two weeks spent baby-sitting, cajoling, bribing, 'supporting' a 'studious' young fledgling man-child, sitting his mock Junior Certificate examinations, to be one such week. 
Note: all words written in italics, and captured in parenthesis, need to be read with a massive grain of salt!

However, we have both survived the week, albeit with a very tired brain for him and a few more grey hairs for me!

During weeks like that there's nothing more wonderful than taking the time to really savour the lovely moments that sometimes drop unexpectedly into our lives......

The Beach

Like the glorious sun that rose behind me, like a great orange fiery ball, on the recent morning school runs; urging me to hurry home so that I could dash down to the beach and simply enjoy this magical sunrise....

And to see to waves come crashing in on the stonework - from an old railway line perhaps? - while the now-risen sun glints sharply on the beach below....

You may have noticed that the sun features highly in my blog and social media updates. I simply cannot resist the power of the sun. It's like a beacon of hope and good cheer in my life.

The Foggy Day

But it's not always about the sun shining on the Irish Sea, or waves splashing on our stony beach.
I still paid a visit on a recent  misty morning, allowing the wispy strands of fog envelop me as I watched a lone seagull floating along the calm, glassy sea. 

I felt the calming effects of the gentle waves cascading on to the beach and shivered as I saw the seagull duck himself, time and time again, into the icy sea waters, on this bitterly cold morning. Then I smiled to myself as I watched him skipping over the water and eventually swooping in to join all his pals on a nearby sandbank. A lovely, lovely moment...... 

Simply Walking

Although I highly rate beaches, sunrises and sunsets as part of my now almost daily strolls, it's not actually all about them either. Sometimes it's about simply walking. Now that I can. I've spent enough months being unable to do so to now enjoy the simple act of going for a short, enjoyable stroll; unaided by both crutch or human accompaniment. I enjoy the solitude, it allows me to work on allowing my busy, busy mind to stop. Look around me, watch squirrels scramble up trees, listen to the surrounding bird-song and take time-out to allow the beach sounds, sights and smells wash over me before I begin my walk in the park. Of course I completely try to block out the sounds of rummaging in the undergrowth as I stroll, convincing myself that it's squirrels or birds.... and not r.a.t.s. !!

A Great Day out with Good Friends

Again, this is something I've been unable to do since last summer and I have missed my forays into town to catch up with friends, to go see a show; or to do both! And that's exactly what I did last Saturday, with a trip into Bord Gais Energy Theatre to see a mostly enjoyable matinee production of Jesus Christ Superstar, with some wonderful showgal pals of mine. Suffice it to say that the day was filled with chats, tales of yore, much laughter, food, 'some' wine, lots of good cheer; and culminated in a memorable all-encompassing, world-problem-solving conversation in a lift, of all places. In a lift that we held up, quite literally, and ultimately resulted in a group of middle-aged women - although we would never accept this totally unrepresentative moniker! - reduced into a right heap, emitting teen-like howls of laughter, to the bafflement of two passing waiters!! 

This day will definitely go down in the annals of 'Best Girly Days Out - EVER'

Looking Forward

And so the last two weeks sped by, with lovely, memorable moments strewn through the chaos, keeping my sanity pretty much intact. It's clear that within the madness there was much to be thankful for and cheerful about.

And it's not over yet.

One more exam and the dreaded Mocks are finally completed.

There is wine chilling in the fridge.

While a Midterm break and a Valentine's and birthday weekend also beckons ;-)

And that makes me very thankful and very, very cheerful indeed!!

I'm delighted to be able to link to both these wonderful linkys this week and my thanks to  Ojo's World and Mummy From The Heart  for hosting.

 Happy Valentines Day to  you all,