The Special Needs Tunnel

Magical but hard is a great way to describe the early years of motherhood. So far so familiar, in a beautiful and encouraging article by Kate Takes Five. But unlike other mums I didn't come out the other side. Motherhood is a bit like a tunnel you see, and the special needs tunnel is longer and more convoluted than most. Twenty two years after becoming a mum, my days are still book ended by children. I still stay up with one, and get up to another. So it was bittersweet moment when I acknowledged that I may never leave at all, and may always be on the inside looking out.

When you think of a tunnel, what do you see? Is it a dark, scary place that you can't wait to leave? Or a safe dry comfortable refuge from the world? The special needs tunnel can be both of these.

There are many ways to enter. Sometimes you go in the main door with everyone else, sometimes you start from a different place. But once you've been diverted, your journey changes. You watch as other Mums slowly emerge and start to pick up the threads of the life that they had before - if they want to - while you wait and wonder what will happen. Later on their adult children may leave home while you're still in the tunnel, wiping faces and bums.

Sometimes it can be grim, the lights go dim, or black out completely, leaving you to feel alone in the dark. The walls close in and everything outside seems unreal. All you can see and deal with is right in front of you. And sometimes not even that. There are monsters down here too, mostly in the form of uncaring faceless bureaucracies, that seem determined to grind you down until you lose any hope of seeing daylight again.

Then around a corner the roof falls away and you blink in the sunlight of a good day when everything looks bright and sharp. You spot the dust on the windowsill and actually see the smiles on people's faces, and the deep colours of spring flowers in bloom.

But there is one thing that makes a difference now: wherever you are, if you are on the internet at all, then the special needs community will be with you. Supporting, advising, sharing, hugging. Perhaps you will make it through to the other side, perhaps your children will grow up to be strong and independent, they will be able to live a good life with their differences. Then those families who have already made it will hold out a hand to welcome you, and those still in the tunnel will cheer you on. Because we all hope to join you one day. Out the other side.




Sick of special needs but nothing else

So yes I'm still bogged down with the demands of special needs right now, but even when they seem to be taking over my life, I'm still making time for blogging and my classes, both essential for my physical and mental health. And health news is the theme of this week's reasons to be cheerful...

Into the tunnel


The weird problem I was having with my ears did not go away so my GP sent me for an MRI scan, which was interesting. It was supposed to be scary, but of course an excuse for lying still for 20 minutes is a treat for me, even though I get claustrophobic. The mirror meant that I could see my legs, and the rest of the room, so it was fine. Even the music was okay.

Oh and I got the results two days later, and apparently there is nothing wrong with my brain.  So tinnitus it is then.

Breast check


I also got the results of the breast squashing procedure, and it seems that the current crop of lumps are all benign. More good news.

Healthy snacks


Okay, a weak link there, but it was the best I could manage. I did get a food processor, the cheap one from Aldi, because all of the suggested models from Argos were out of stock. It looks the business, but it doesn't have the 'whizz' function mentioned in recipes...

But I'm adaptable, so I went ahead and tried out this mouthwatering healthy 'Twix' recipe.  The easy version of course, which is why they look nothing like the original. It was that and the way the food processor wouldn't whizz everything into butter and caramel-like smoothness. Didn't stop it tasting delicious though and Smiley agreed too.



And I think that healthy sweets are an excellent reason to be cheerful, don't you?


Ojos World




Unbreakable Jazzy and the Determined Universe

To celebrate the launch of Tina Fey's new comedy series 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' on Netflix on March 6th, I have a guest post by the lovely Jazzygal, who, in her own words, is a knitting needle/crochet hook wielding Desperate Housewife, and stay-at-home mum of one fabulous teenage boy, who believes that your fifties are the new forties and keeps mind and body fit with blogging, social media and dancing/choreography. Phew!

Over to you, Jazzy...


I see that a new show 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' is launching on Netflix on March 6th.


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. 

The people over at Netflix think that we mums are quite unbreakable too, and I'm inclined to agree with them.

I may not wear the fabulous bright colours that Kimmy wears, nor the light-up sneakers - and my library books are usually in date - but I have had some unbreakable moments in my time!

See, as a mother-of-a-certain-age, the universe has had quite some time to attempt to trip me up and break me down. I do my best to defy it though, on a continual basis it seems!

There was a time pre-marriage and pre-child when I worked at a job I liked and spent my free-time indulging in my favourite hobbies of all: dancing on stage and enjoying interesting holidays abroad.


In time the universe decided it was time for me to stop all that malarkey and to settle down, and so bestowed upon me my wonderful child, and husband too of course, for which I will be eternally grateful. There were some issues though, followed swiftly by some ageing-parent dilemmas. All happening simultaneously of course, much more fun that way it seems! You may have changed the course of my life dear universe, forcing a hastily obtained and ultimately long-term career break, but look at us now?! I'm still smiling, albeit with the addition of a few grey hairs - that are suitably obliterated by delightful highlights of course - and with my wonderful now-teenage-child following his own trail in life! Take that, universe...

Juggling home and school life and keeping the wheels of the Jazzy household mostly well-oiled and turning smoothly, is a very worthwhile achievement. However, I refused to let the universe steal my love of stage away from me and in time I found a way to put my dancing skills to good use, and to be involved in my son's school and in the community. Oh, the universe didn't like that one little bit! You tried to scupper me within weeks of opening night on a couple of occasions, didn't you, dear universe?

Remember the snow of 2010? There I was, determined me, minding my own beeswax walking to rehearsals one icy night when you deliberately upended me, landing me hard on the ice-capped snow ..... flat on my ass! Oh yes you did, don't try denying it now! Thanks to your antics I had a fractured coccyx, thank you very much, with two weeks to go and a finale to set... involving 135 children! I did it though, with the help of my lovely assistant. And I managed to sit front of stage, on a very comfortable cushion, throughout the run thereby able to instruct the younger children, using my unique Jazzy-hand-signals!

See, the show must go on universe, you forgot about all about that didn't you?!

You weren't very happy with me at all after that, were you? So you tried to scupper me again two years later with a bad chest infection - again with two weeks to go to opening night and a finale to set! This time I discovered that it is possible to block and teach a dance routine to a large group of teenagers while sitting down and not talking!! Jazzy-hand-signals and lovely Dance Captains to the rescue yet again!

And during all this time the home wheels kept turning and this unbreakable mum had fun family time with her maturing child, and they enjoyed interesting family holidays all of their own. All mixed in with school-runs and being taxi-mum to get him to all to all his various 'engagements'!



Then finally last year it looked like the universe had won. It struck when I wasn't looking you see. It was a healthy pursuit for heaven's sake, a Pilates class! Turns out it wasn't that healthy after all. Oh, you did your best work with this one, didn't you universe?

I was down.

I was out.

Out of commission for four months with a back injury forcing a hospital stay and home confinement; followed by a three month recovery programme.

Oh yes dear universe, I'm still here ....... and I am on the way back! I am getting my dance shoes out of storage and getting ready for my full recovery, so there!

We mums really are resilient and unbreakable, most of the time, aren't we? We are determined, we find a solution and we fight back.

And for those times when we're not quite up to it there's wine, chocolate, hot steamy baths .... and good shows on Netflix to help us regain our 'unbreakability'!

So come on Kimmy, show us what you got, you unbreakable you .......



'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' launches on March 6th 2015 over on Netflix .... can't wait!

Thank Jazzy, and if you enjoyed reading that, why not check out her blog here.

Disclosure: I have received free Netflix streaming, and a streaming device as part of my membership of the Netflix Stream Team. 

The beginner's guide to book reviews

Because I really am a beginner. Who knew that I still have so many things to learn? Book reviewing is a skill that I never expected to need, but between my Kindle app and self-publishing, everything has changed: I usually download fiction now and after every purchase I get a hopeful email from Amazon asking me what I thought.



At the same time, t'internet has made self-publishing a possibility, and a number of my friends are now actual authors, so obviously I feel the need to be able to write a half decent book review in support.  I've probably said it before, but I have huge admiration for anyone who has the patience to write an entire book, as I often get bored before the end of a blog post: which is another reason why I have so many drafts...

Book reviews play a major part in what I read too, and the Book section is one of the main reasons that I buy The Sunday Times each week.  I love all the long reviews about subjects that I know nothing about, but sometimes they tell me everything I want to know, and it's usually the short snappy reviews that encourage me to buy.  In other publications I read reviews that set my teeth on edge. I couldn't even tell you why exactly. Perhaps because the writing style feels unnatural and forced, and often they totally put me off a book, even if they are praising it.

Maybe you can tell that I really respect anyone who can write a book review in a few sentences that both sounds honest and makes you hungry to know more. Can I do that too?  I'm not sure...

So I've been doing a bit of research, and this is my beginner's guide to writing book reviews:

1. Decide that you're going to review a book before you start reading it. Obviously if you have the memory of an elephant, you can ignore this step.

2. Take lots and lots of notes. Believe me, you'll wish you had if you didn't. You'll discard most of them, but it saves reading the book again. Unless you want to, of course.

Make notes about the theme, the plot, the key characters, and anything you particularly like. 

3. Writing a review seems to be a bit like writing a speech: you need an introduction that describes what the book is about and any key themes. A central section for more details about the story, and your opinions, then an ending that leaves the reader wanting to buy the book. Or not I suppose, if you don't like it.

4. Less is more. You are not an author, you are a reviewer.

So here it is, my first proper book review, written according to my own rules. Would it tempt you to check out the book? I'd love to know...

A varied and thought-provoking collection of stories that explores dilemmas faced by those living in societies where life is bound by rules, conventions and violence, and doing your duty is often about minimising the number of people who die.  Some of the societies are medieval in style, all are thinly sketched, the narrative is king here.  Sometimes the endings are brutally clear before you reach them, yet without being gory.  You will be routing for some of the characters, and hoping against logic that things will work out, but even when they don’t, the endings are still satisfying.  Most of all, these stories will challenge your certainties and your beliefs through every twist and turn. A memorable read.



I'm over it

I'm over working. Almost 40 years of being a wage slave is plenty, isn't it?

I'm over holidays. They're a distant memory of another life.

I'm over late nights out. If my children need me at bedtime, I'll be there.

I'm over having a nice car. Just don't make me drive an automatic.

I'm over watching the telly without interruptions. That's why I go to the cinema.

I'm over expecting good health. Just give me pills that work.

I'm over getting a full night's sleep. No-one expects me to be awake anyway.

I'm also over having special needs dictate where and how I live my life. I'm over it.


If this affects you too, how do you deal with it without resentment?




Reasons to be cheerful about a carer's mid term break

The teens were off school all week for their mid term break, and all was calm, and even productive, so I thought I might share it all with you for this week's reasons to be cheerful.

Monday


Involved several outings to...

The Chemist - to fill the regular prescriptions
The Supermarket - for food
The Bank - to pay in cheques

Afternoon, exercise for Smiley, admin for Mum: finished up the medical card application (presumably the first of many as they usually refuse to sanction them multiple times), baulked at new requirements for disabled parking permit and had to ring to clarify. Paid eye watering gas bill. Note to self: must change supplier as soon as I have time,

Tuesday


A trip to the GP - again - followed by an excursions to the local Garda Station, where we had great fun... trying to get in.  Smiley pressed the disabled door entry switch. Nothing happened. My son pushed a door. Nothing happened. I rang the voice entry, but couldn't hear anything as my lovely daughter was laughing so loudly. Perhaps it was closed? Especially as there were no other people inside (and it's a very big station). So I rang the station and a very amused Gard told me to push the other door...  He also sympathised that I had to go through all this to get him to sign a picture of Smiley to tell the providers of Disabled Parking Permits that she is in fact NOT dead.  Unlike other applicants apparently.

Afternoon was a walk up to the village with Smiley to post the application forms, another bank, Tesco and the chemist again.

But it did get a little more exciting once we'd bought the annual jar of Nutella for the pancake making. Which was fun for all.

Wednesday


Today was mostly about getting clean: don't get me wrong, I shower every day, but washing and drying my hair is quite a production, and if I shower Smiley on the same day, then not much else gets done.  Though I did manage a trip to the cinema with Angel to see American Sniper (at her request). Not a film that was on my must-see list, but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a very human portrait of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal who is credited as the most prolific sniper in military history. And I agreed with the reviews that suggested that you could take this film any way you wanted: many see it as a pro American film, I watched it as an anti war movie.



Thursday


I hummed and hawed about getting a food processor, and I'm still feeling indecisive now.  Smiley and I went to Tesco, and she cheered up everyone she met while we were there, which is always good.  Then home and a quick clean up before a visit from her new occupational therapist, involving yet another discussion about toileting slings and other things that no-one seems to make for young adults with severe disabilities.

Then I saw the latest Tots 100 index of parent bloggers.  Yes clearly I must be a sad, needy person if I need validation from a little box that you'll find at the bottom of my blog, but I do, probably because I feel pretty incompetent on the domestic front. I still religiously looks at my Tots 100 score, and I was thrilled yet again to have sneaked back into the top 100, thanks to that article I wrote on school refusal.  As someone commented on Instagram, many of the most "successful" blogs are those where people write about the difficulties in their lives.  The comment made me squirm, but it seems to be true in my case.

Friday


Well the day is still new and full of possibilities.  Making Brownies has been suggested which I will certainly agree to since it is not screen related.  After that, who knows?

Hope you had a good week too.


Ojos World





I don't need a food processor, do I?

I've survived more than 50 years without one, so why on earth am I thinking about buying a food processor now?

1. Someone burnt out the motor on my precious liquidiser (that I love and adore) by trying to mix a very sticky cake in it. I cannot imagine life without a liquidiser for making soups and smoothies which are my go to healthy fast foods. I love this piece of kit so much, especially as I can just chuck it in the dishwasher afterwards.



2. Many of the recipes I want to try insist that you use a food processor, even basic things like Hummus. Perhaps a food processor would rekindle an interest in food? Good food I mean, I've NEVER lost interest in cake.

3. Aldi is advertising a very nifty and cheap food processor today and I'm trying to decide whether to drag Smiley out and use her tank buggy to push through the crowds and grab one before they all go.


I know that I should do some research but there are hundreds of models available at every price point, which just makes me feel overwhelmed. When that happens I usually don't buy anything at all. So I asked the wise women of the Irish Parenting Bloggers Group and everything became a lot clearer.  The lovely Sinead from Bumbles of Rice (one of my go-to recipe sites) shared an article that apparently tells you what you need to know about food processors and she also recommended this one from Argos which seems to tick all the slicing and dicing boxes, or something like that.

So now I'm on the horns of a food processing dilemma. What would you do? Go and brave the  queues in Aldi? Pop up to Argos? Or stick with the wooden spoon?


Chasing away the January blues and February chill #StreamTeam

With even more time than usual stuck indoors during the miserable winter months, we got great value out of our free Netflix package.  Here's what we're liking right now...

Arrested Development


Lots and lots of happy laughter while this was on, and it was even entertaining enough for Smiley. It's supposed to be about a wealthy family that loses everything, and the one son who has no choice but to keep them all together. Actually it's about a bunch of adults behaving like spoiled toddlers, which I wouldn't normally like at all, but in this case it worked, and definitely helped to chase away the January blues!

The 100 Club


So the first question is: Why would a space colony choose to dump a bunch of good looking teenagers on a previously-abandoned Earth to see if they can survive?  Unless they were making a TV programme about it, of course!  Perhaps that is the twist in the tale?  Anyway Angel (my 22 year old and clearly the target audience) loved this series, and I watched a few episodes too. Some interesting topics are raised as those on Earth and in Space wrestle with pretty basic questions about life and death.

House of Cards


Angel can't wait for the return of this Netflix series on February 27th.  Stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright go back to Washington, with President Underwood fighting to secure his legacy, and Claire wanting more than being First Lady.



Smiley is spoilt for choice right now too: we've been watching "The Adventures of Puss in Boots" which began in January, and during the mid term break I'm hoping to try her out with these two new shows:

"Ever After High" about an high school for the children of famous fairytale characters...



And "Mako Mermaids" about teenage mermaids - and at least one merman - with magical powers.




As for me? Well I've been catching up on some films that I missed the first time around.  Including "A Long Way Down", based on a book that I adored. Who knew that a film that opens with four people preparing to hurl themselves off a skyscraper on New Year's Eve could be so life-affirming? But it is. The film is an enjoyable if cheesy watch, though the power of the book loses something in translation and the portrayal of the carer as a sad frumpy cliche is a bit disappointing.

Disclosure: I have received free Netflix streaming, and a streaming device as part of my membership of the Netflix Stream Team. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Four little words

My head is still all over the place, so I'm saying and writing things that would be better left unsaid and unwritten.  Blog posts will remain in draft, and Facebook status updates have been deleted.  But this morning the sun is mostly shining and I snapped these while I was out with the teenagers.  And then something happened that could make everything look brighter.  Four little words that I cannot share with you, but they were the best Valentine's present I could have received.

The Smithfield Chimney

Impressive graffiti 


Feeding the birds (and another example of why I need a better camera!)


Reasons to be Cheerful and Striking Mums 12.2.15

I've a lot to get through, so, without further ado, here are this week's reasons to be cheerful...

Leaky roof repair man


Spotting a brownish stain on the ceiling coving is one of those heart sink moments. I blinked and looked again, but it was still there, and it hadn't gone away the next day either. So I dug out the old address book, banished my friend procrastination, and made a call to the guy who redid this roof some 15 years ago. Within half an hour he was checking the ceiling in the hastily tidied back bedroom, and then he disappeared out of the Velux in the attic. The result? No leak, but he did fix a loose slate and told me to call him back during the deluge to check again. And the charge? Nothing. Not a cent: There are some good guys out there.

Breast check


Or the chance to spend a few minutes relaxing in a lovely warm relaxing Georgian waiting room before being called exactly on time for an essential health check. Fast, efficient and friendly, the Breast Check Service is everything the Irish Health Service should be.

Hair Care


"Mum, your hair is looking really flat," is one of the best complements my daughter can pay me. An explanation and hair exposé to follow when I get around to finishing it.

Lie-in


They're very rare in this house: but Smiley slept 'till 9 last Sunday, which gave me a couple of uninterrupted hours to laze around chatting on social media.  Bliss.

Flatpacking


If you follow Looking for Blue Sky on Instagram you might have seen the unboxing of yet another IKEA shelving set, which had been sitting in the hall for a couple of weeks waiting for the day that I needed to do some therapeutic furniture building. And that day was Tuesday. As the lovely Suzy says, it's basically Lego for grown ups, just a pity that my house is almost full...



Moving swiftly on, I'm also joining in with Striking Mums, the campaign by Kate on Thin Ice to get mums to think of themselves a little bit more. This week her questions are all about risk-taking:

1. Would you describe yourself as a risk taker?

Yes, except when the result might be conflict. Then I take no risks and try desperately to diffuse things and make the conflict go away. Well unless it all gets too much and then I usually go away...

2. What, if anything, concerns you about taking a risk?

These days the risk of death worries me, as I don't know who would look after the children.

3. What is the worst thing that could happen if you take a risk?

For the children: my death. For me: A life sentence of any kind.

4. Tell us a situation where taking a risk paid off for you

Do you ever really know if taking a risk paid off? Because you don't know what would have happened otherwise. All I do know that I've had an interesting if challenging life so far as a result of all the risks I've taken.

5. Tell us about a situation where taking a risk resulted in harm to you or yours.

I stayed too long in a situation resulting in emotional damage.

6. What risk are you tempted to take right now?

I'll pass on this one!

7. What would help you feel better about taking that risk?

More self-confidence, support and fewer health worries perhaps?

8. What risk did you not take that you now wish you had?

Going to my best friend's wedding some 30 years ago. I wasn't well on the day, but I really wish I'd gone. Despite my no-show she is still one of my best friends. Not sure this really counts as a risk though!

9. Do you admire people who take risks?

I admire people who take calculated risks, not rash ones. People who walk into dangerous situations clear eyed, having weighed up the risks and prepared themselves as best they could.

10. Can you think of someone famous or otherwise who is a inspirational risk-taker? What can you learn from them?

Well there are so many, but of course the first people that popped into my head are Frodo and Sam from the Lord of the Rings. I know that it's fantasy, but it can make more sense when your own life  seems so different from the norm. The lesson? It's about doing the right thing even when the odds of everything working out are very very small.

Always inspiring, at least to me!




Monday Photo

Lock Keeper's Cottage, Dublin

I'm fine, but I'm feeling a bit like this ^^^^^ right now, so I'm going to try and stay off social media for a while. See you soon...



We need to talk about teenagers

Well we do, don't we?

I'm not talking about your average teenager, whose triumphs and tribulations are often posted on social media by themselves, and boasted or moaned about by their parents elsewhere.

Nor do I mean those special needs teenagers who will need support all their lives - like Smiley. It seems to be okay to write about them.

No, I'm talking about the teenagers in between. Those who have a variety of special needs, but are considered capable of living and working independently one day. Perhaps that is why we don't write about their differences, especially the ones that cause so many problems for them, their families and their schools.

We try to protect our teenagers because we've read all the warnings that tell us that nothing on social media can ever be totally private. If we don't write about it, then no-one need ever know that it happened. No future employer, no life partner, nobody at all.

Yet there is a downside. Until the last few weeks, I really thought that it was just us. That my teen and my parenting were unusually problematic, that the children of my friends must be doing just fine. You see we used to post updates all the time on blogs, Facebook, rollercoaster, and elsewhere. We shared problems, and worked out solutions together. It was so brilliant. But that doesn't happen much now. I share some stuff with a small group of friends on-line, but many problems I don't mention at all, just hoping against hope that they will "grow out of them". So I'm wondering are we wrong?

Many of our teenagers need a lot of help and support to fulfil their potential. But, let's face it, they are unlikely to get much from State services. And when Angel had teenage problems, I was able to google the problems and find effective solutions. That has not worked for special needs. So perhaps we should be sharing more, perhaps it's more important to give them the help now, and let the future take care of itself?



Competence

Motherhood is an odd experience: we all go into it without professional training, and all the manuals say different things.  And of course every child is different, so getting it right is often more a matter of luck than anything else.  It's no wonder that motherhood can be a confusing place.  Add special needs into the mix and things get really complicated.

And as many of you know I always intended to be a "working" mum, and despite special needs, I succeeded until the bankers, builders and politicians plunged this country into recession and both my job and my support system vanished.  My job wasn't perfect, there were boring days, difficult people, impossible time-scales, stupid decisions - some of them by me - but the feeling of being competent and doing a good job that was valued and rewarded made up for all that.  I don't think that I ever got promoted in work to my level of incompetence as per the Peter Principle.  No, that has happened on the domestic front instead.  You could say that it's my fault for being greedy and daring to have a third child, knowing that I already had one with complex special needs.



Overseas friends used to comment on how much I was "into" my kids.  Yet I am not that endlessly giving self sacrificing mum who worships her kids and would do things for them 24/7.  The home was never my preferred territory: for most of my career I also had a cleaner (please don't judge me) and a husband who could fix anything.   Since December 2008, I have been trying to manage all the cleaning, fixing, and children stuff myself: like many other lone parents.  And until January 2011, I thought I was doing okay, at least on the parenting front.  Since then I have had hours or even weeks when I thought I had finally found the answer, but I've always been proved wrong.  Recently wine time has been cancelled in case that was affecting my ability to be calm and patient, but even that "drastic" measure doesn't seem to have helped so far.  Just this morning, two important activities have been rejected.  Cue a series of apologetic texts and phone calls.  I don't know what I did wrong: maybe I used the wrong words, picked the wrong time, used the wrong tone, but even if I can work out my mistakes, the goal posts keep changing.  What works today may be wrong tomorrow.

So yes, at home I feel totally incompetent, and it's not a comfortable feeling.  Nor is it good for me to feel like this, nor will it help me to become a better mother.  It can be the first step to sliding back into depression.  The only thing I can think of is to try and celebrate all those moments when I do something that goes right.  I would set up a linky, but the blogging world is a *bit* overcrowded with them right now, so I will just add them to my reasons to be cheerful each week.  Apart from this week, when I offer you the following example:

Rescue


During a recent car journey, I needed to top up the windscreen wash and the top came off the washer bottle container and disappeared into the tangled confusion of a hot engine.  But I managed to rescue it with the help of an umbrella and a mobile phone app!

And even the act of writing that has made me feel better...


What made you feel competent this week?



Reasons to be cheerful 5.2.15

After my weekend meltdown, this week has been better, though not without its challenges, such as the possibility of watching Billy Elliot, just so I can help with the English homework.  The things we do etc etc.

But yes, I've dug deep into the boringness of an unusually humdrum week and managed to retrieve these nuggets for reasons to be cheerful.

Forever Young


I'm still doing yoga that bendy shit, and usually it's pretty similar every time, so we all perked up when our teacher announced this week that we would be doing something different.  And it was one of these:


(That's my sadly missed and very talented mother)

We all groaned, remembering back to gym classes long ago.   But much to my surprise I had no problems at all!  Apparently shoulder stands make you look younger because your heart is higher than your face.  So I will have to practice, and maybe one day I will look like my lovely mum.

Useful Presents


This for Smiley's special needs buggy thanks to a present from a very thoughtful friend.


The tale of the punt


An overseas friend enclosed a 20 punt note in her Christmas card this year from a long ago trip to Ireland, and I went to the Central Bank today and exchanged it for €25.39. Not bad, I thought. So check behind the sofa, people, you just never know...

Life after death


I made a will! Once again the push to do this came from the IPB group and a good deal on Pigsback. It's not finished as the special needs stuff has been left open.  But at least I know that I've made some effort to improve the lives of my children after I've gone.  And done a proper grown up thing too.


Ojos World


Sunday Thoughts

Sun, sea, solitude, silence, seabirds.

What I wanted.  What I always want when I'm cracking.

Even my kids knew that I wasn't able to talk.

It wasn't completely silent.  The gulls and the swell and the distant hum of traffic were the soundtrack to my mood.  I still wish that I could be in this place when I pull back the curtains, or open the front door.  But maybe one day I will learn to celebrate how lucky I am to have it a short drive away, instead of yearning for what may never be.

Even on a bitter day with the tide out it's still fabulous