Welcome to 2017

I didn’t bother doing one of those review posts that lots of people who blog write. If you want to know what I did last year, you’ll just have to go back and look! I didn’t write about many things that happened, but I wrote about some. The year had changes and challenges and things that were mostly good overall.

I had a quiet Christmas with all my family and the dogs, though Dougal did spend a few days in kennels. I spent Christmas eve and Christmas day with my nephews as usual. It’s always lovely to have a new baby around, and he’s starting to become interested in everything and everyone around him now which is fun. I stayed in an amazing hotel for the new year, thanks to a present from my parents. I wish I could have taken Sibyl, but I’m definitely going to go back.

I don’t do new year’s resolutions because there’s no point. I don’t think changes have to happen in January. They can happen any time. I think if they happen in January, the pressure of new year and a new start often means they are more likely to fail. I just want to continue the things I’ve already begun.Sibyl is recovering well from surgery, and when she is back at work, I want to bring her to more places and help her to be the best guide dog she can be.

These are a few of my favourite things…

Happy new year! Let’s hope 2016 is a healthy and happy one for everybody.

Thankfully I had another lovely Christmas, spent with family, friends and dogs. I celebrated a friend’s birthday, went to an engagement party, had a couple of nice meals out with Nicky, cooked very little (which is always a bonus!) and enjoyed some lovely dinners with my family. I think Sibyl enjoyed her first Donegal Christmas. We stayed in my sister’s house on Christmas eve, and my parent’s house on Christmas night, and she loved the change of scenery. The three dogs spent lots of time together, and we all had a couple of nice walks together in between the showers of rain.

As usual, I got lovely presents for Christmas, far too much to be honest. There was no need for half of it, but people were so generous and thoughtful with the useful things they chose for me. Sometimes you get one or two presents that you really won’t use, but I rarely do. New clothes, a clock for my kitchen (I have no clocks in my house), vouchers for cool discs, heating oil and River Island (talk about a random collection!) and money were all brilliant presents. I did get three others that I was really excited about:

Nicky gave me a digital radio for my room. I have very bad reception upstairs, so tend to listen to a lot of radio on my phone. I don’t like doing this because I’m constantly charging it, and I hate using mobiles any more than I have to.

I got an early 30th birthday present of Hunter wellies from my parents. My birthday isn’t until February, but they thought I might as well use them now during the wet weather. I can walk the dog around the muddy park and still look cool! I’ve also discovered that I can get the overpriced socks much cheaper in the children’s section of shops. Having small feet is great!

My new favourite toy at the minute is something I got for Christmas that I’ve wanted for the last year. I got the
NutriNinja
which is the coolest juicer/smoothy maker ever! I like eating well, especially fruit and veg, but sometimes find it hard to eat enough fruit, and use it up when i buy it since I live on my own. The idea of a big bulky kitchen appliance that’s difficult to clean put me off getting one, until I saw my brother in law’s Nutribullet. The ninja is the same thing. It’s small, and everything is blended into one cup that you can actually drink out of if you want, so there’s not much to clean at all. It’s safe and easy to use, and from a blind person’s perspective, this is great. They are expensive, but definitely worth the extra money for this reason. I’ve only made two smoothies for breakfast yesterday and today, but already I absolutely love this thing! It’s going to get lots of use in my house.

Happy Christmas Eve

I know things feel less Christmasy as people get older, but this has to be the quietest Christmas ever for me. I think the main reason for that is that I’m not working, didn’t have a staff night out, and haven’t been out much at all recently. I’m not complaining, it’s just strange. My brother is home, and there’s lots going on round here to distract me.

Nicky won’t be up for Christmas this year, and I wouldn’t miss Christmas at home with my nephews, so I suppose we celebrated it together last week. On Thursday I met him in Dublin, because I had won tickets for Colm MacConIomaire’s gig in Vicar Street. We stayed in Jurey’s in Christchurch, which was a nice hotel. Breakfast was nothing special, but the staff were lovely and friendly, and it was a good location for walking around Dublin city. Except neither of us had a dog so we didn’t walk far. I had to leave Sibyl with my sister, much to my nephews delight, and I really missed her for getting around. We don’t know our way around Dublin, but she really makes it much easier. It’s the first time I’ve really missed not having her with me, and was a nice reminder of how well we are bonding.

The gig itself was beautiful, as you would expect from Colm. He can do magic things with a violin, so adding an eleven piece band with that really was special. I can’t recommend his album ‘and now the weather’ enough if you just like lovely instrumental music, and if you buy a copy on CD, the cover, designed by his wife Sheila is lovely! As usual the Vicar Street staff were brilliant, and a little disappointed that we had no dogs.
While we were in Dublin, we had a chance to meet up with some friends for dinner, and more the next morning. It was great to finally meet Darragh and Emma’s new baby Rian, and see Meabh again. Then we went back to Carlow to relax for the weekend, and listened to lots of Christmas music.

I still wasn’t feeling completely Christmasy by Monday. I think spending time around children really helps, so was delighted when my mum asked me to come in to her class to see the students and accompany them to a carroll service in the church beside the school. It was my first time taking Sibyl to a chapel. Children were shocked to see a dog there as we came in. She didn’t really know where to lie at first, but when she settled down she was great. She lay still and looked around her, not moving until the child narrating asked everybody to stand for the final prayer. You’d swear she could understand! She got lots of attention from the students when we returned to their class. She really is very calm and gentle around children, and would have made a great assistant dog for a child with autism I think. I’m glad she became a guide dog though!

I’m sitting here at the computer on Christmas eve morning, in a quiet house, before all the madness begins. This year will be more quiet than usual I think, but we’ll have three dogs to entertain on Christmas
day which will be fun. Hopefully the weather will be dry and I can escape with someone before dinner and take them for a walk. I try and stay away from the Christmas dinner cooking as much as possible! The dogs got a present of doggy biscuits in the post yesterday. I haven’t got any presents in the post in my life I don’t think.

Anyway, the blogs been quiet this month, but I just want to wish everybody who still reads it a very happy Christmas, and a healthy and peaceful 2016.

Holiday Mode

I intended writing about the gig in Dublin a couple of weeks ago, and the lovely time I had there with my cousin. Now it’s almost new year already!
I enjoyed the lead-up to Christmas, being finished work early and having time to buy presents and relax. My brother and two cousins came home for Christmas, and we didn’t think they’d be here, so that made it even better.

I stayed in my sister’s house on Christmas eve and enjoyed watching the boys getting their presents from Santa when they got up on Christmas morning. Lots of people my age think Christmas is boring, but I’m lucky enough to have children around to make it exciting. After the traditional breakfast in my sister’s, we went visiting as usual. My aunt made dinner for twelve people, and we all stayed in her house. Dougal went to stay in kennels for a few days so that things would be easier for him. He doesn’t like crowds of people, and can sometimes snap when he is stressed, so although it was strange not having him around, I only had O.J to think about, and it was much more relaxing. I got lots of nice presents, mostly clothes and perfume which is always good.

On boxing day morning I took O.J for a short walk with my parents. In the afternoon I met up with my five best friends for a lovely couple of hours. The next time we’ll all be together will be next Easter, when two of the girls will have had babies. I can’t imagine that at all, but it’s very exciting. Nicky came up that evening, and we’ve just spent the last couple of days relaxing.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Asian tsunami which myself and my family were caught up in. We were in Thailand at the time, and are very lucky to still all be here. I kept thinking about it lots on Friday. It was nice to be able to spend the day with family and friends. Things could have been so different if we’d been where we had originally planned to be that morning. Even ten years later, that still freaks me out a bit. I’ve done so much since then, and without sounding totally morbid or corny, I’m very lucky to have had the chance.

Is Anybody Feeling Christmasy?

I’m usually a bit slow getting into the Christmas mood, and this year was no different. Most of my friends put their trees up at the beginning of December, and that’s all everybody seemed to be talking about. I think it seems to come around earlier every year. The thing that started to get me excited was a phone call from my brother about ten days ago telling me that he was definitely coming home. We thought he wasn’t, so it was a lovely surprise.

We had our work Christmas party on Wednesday. It was in the Silver Tassie hotel in Letterkenny as usual, and we all had a lovely meal. There wasn’t a huge crowd so it was a lot quieter than usual, but we made our own fun. We’ve had a couple of new staff members recently, so there’s a good group of people around my own age, and we all get on well. I stayed in the hotel that night so that my colleague wouldn’t have to drive home if the weather was bad. It was strange booking a hotel in Letterkenny, only 40 minutes away, but it made the night more relaxing and enjoyable. So much so that we didn’t go to bed until after 4.
The staff in the hotel were lovely, but I don’t think they’d ever had a guide dog stay there before. When I rang to book the room and mentioned him, the receptionist had to go and ask the manager. She came back and said that the dog was fine, except she was instructed to “designate a certain room” for us. I thought, here we go, some kind of complicated fuss now, but that room turned out to be a big family room with more space for us all. It was a nice surprise!

I put up my new tree on Thursday with the help of a few kids who were very excited. They did more of the work than me, but I was a small bit tired!
I’m still stuck for Christmas present ideas for a few people. I hate buying things for the sake of it, and like to know what I’m looking for before I shop, so this kind of thing stresses me out! Going to Dublin tomorrow (literally for 24 hours), so I might get some ideas there. O.J is giving this one a miss this time, although the National Concert Hall where I’m going to a gig tomorrow evening was more than happy to have him, and even look after him if the music was too loud. I might write about that particular gig when I get home, depending on how it goes. It’s a combination of musicians I’ve seen before, but the structure of it means I have no idea what to expect at all. Sometimes that’s the best way.

Happy New Year!

I’ve been rubbish at getting time to blog this year, but I had to make sure to write a post before the end of the year. I hope anyone who still reads this has a great Christmas. I did!

Nicky came up for Christmas for the first time, and it was great to have him around. It was probably busier and noisier than the Christmasses he’s used to, but quieter than usual for us since my brother wasn’t home, and my very Christmassy cousin Leah is working in Hong Kong so two of my aunts were visiting her. I stayed in my house on Christmas eve for the first time, but I had a very excited phone call from my nephews in the morning telling me what Santa had brought them. We had dinner in my sister’s on Christmas day and boxing day, and it was great to spend the time with the boys. They make Christmas special for me.
I got some great presents, even though part of Nicky’s and one from my sister which were both bought in River Island didn’t arrive. Nicky gave me a Cool Discs voucher that I have spent in my head already! The most unexpected present that I got was from my parents, who gave Nicky and I tickets for Arcade Fire and The Pixies in Dublin in June. They never get me tickets for gigs, so it was a big surprise for me.
We spent the next few days with friends, either in their houses or on nights out with them. One of my friends got engaged which made things exciting. There was an event in Scoil Mhuire as part of the gathering, so we all spent a couple of hours in the school looking at photographs and meeting teachers I hadn’t seen in years. There was a disco on that night, and it was really good. Two nights later, our year, (the class of 2003) had our own ten year reunion, and I loved seeing people I hadn’t talked to in years. Some people’s accents have changed, which was a bit confusing for me!

This time last year Nicky and I were enjoying Darragh and Emma’s wedding in Drogheda. I’m in Carlow now, and it’s hard to believe the year is over already. That wedding seems like six months ago! Since then we were invited to seven weddings, and went to five of those. We’ve had a very busy but brilliant year. A few highlights I can think of from 2013 were:

Visiting my cousins in Scotland and finally getting a chance to visit my uncle’s grave.
Spending lots of time with the girls at weddings and hens, and having so much fun.
OJ working well, being his usual happy self, and staying healthy, apart from one time. Let’s just say he was sick enough that day to make up for three years!!
I’ve been lucky enough to have had work all year, and a chance to expand the disability training I do to an older age group. Will spend the second half of next year job hunting for definite, but I’m thankful for the work I’ve had and the great people I work with.
I loved our graduation in December, especially since it seemed like we were never going to get to Maynooth at times.
The musical highlight of the year had to be David Gray in An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny. It was probably my ideal dream gig in that theatre, so when it happened, it was so brilliant.

I hope everyone else had a great year, and that 2014 is another happy, healthy and fun year. Thanks for reading, and to the people who leave comments, thanks for all of them. I want to keep blogging until O.J retires, and the people who read it will help to motivate me to do that.
Happy new year.
Jen x

Belated happy new year

Things are starting to get back to some kind of normality around here, which means I’m spending more time online again. Christmas seems like a year ago at this stage. I had a lovely relaxing one with family and friends. It involved eating lots of yummy food, spending time with my brother who I don’t see too often, and getting presents! I got lots of lovely things, including clothes, a few CDs, a very cool mixing bowl, which my nephew used to make pancakes and cookies when he came for a sleepover. Two presents that were quite cool were the Braille watch and Green Angel cosmetics Nicky got me (have wanted them for ages), and the “movie box” my cousin Leah made for us. It was basically a shoebox decorated, and inside she put popcorn, spices and pizza toppings (not sure how they work yet), hot chocolate, the Commitments DVD (think this is my 3rd copy now!) and two chews for Orrin and O J. She also made me a body scrub, since all her presents this year were hand-made. I was very impressed!

 

I usually hate new year’s eve because everywhere is so busy, and unless you have a house party, going out can be a bit crazy. Darragh sorted out that problem by getting married to Emma on New Year’s eve, and it was a brilliant day. They are genuinely one of the nicest couples I know, and were totally relaxed on the day. Nicky was best man at the wedding, and I didn’t know many people, but everyone was so friendly, and I knew most of them by the end of the night. They finished the night with a session in the residence bar. It was great fun!

 

I never make new year’s resolutions, so don’t see the point in doing it this year. I have some things I want to do though.

Its going to be a busy year, with four weddings and two hen weekends in the U.K,, so I’ll be spending more weekends staying in, especially if I have no job. I need to concentrate more on work for my disability studies course, and do more background reading. I also want to read more dog behaviour books. If anyone knows where I can get good reading material in audio, on either topic, please let me know.

I’m looking forward to cooking more and learning how to make new meals. Another thing I want to learn more about is how to make cosmetics like lip balm and body scrubs. Not sure where I can do that or how easy it is when your blind, with all the exact measurements involved. I’ve contacted one person who said that some of these things would be possible, but she’s on maternity leave until the end of next year. I’ll keep trying!

 

I hope everyone has a great 2013. If this blog makes it through another year, I hope I can have interesting discussions with anyone who reads it. For me, that’s what writings all about.

 

We’ve been busy!

Hard to believe its the second week of December already, getting closer to Christmas and I can’t wait! As usual, Decembers a busy month, but the last week in particular has been fun.

 

We had our Christmas party in work last Wednesday. Its for all our employees and clients, so there’s usually a good crowd. This year wasn’t as lively as before, but we made the most of it. Even O J was on the dance floor by the end of the night.

I worked the next day and went to see Mark Geary with a friend that evening. He hadn’t played in Derry in a long time, and Natasha hadn’t seen him in a while. I wanted to do something nice with her before she goes to Australia in the new year, so we were both looking forward to this. Conor McAtteer (from Derry) and The Lost Brothers played before. It was their first gig in Derry, and the majority of the audience seemed to be there to see them. They were fantastic, and it was a much better atmosphere than the gig I saw them play in the Workmans club in Dublin at the beginning of the year. Mark Geary played with a pianist and a female vocalist, which added a whole new sound to his songs. They sounded great and played a lovely set, but most of the audience were embarrassing. They talked loudly throughout the gig, which was worse because it was such a small venue. The woman in front of me was completely ignorant to say the least! Mark didn’t play as long as usual, and the stories he usually tells between songs were lost on this crowd. It was disappointing because I’ve seen him so many times and know how good he can be. When we talked to him after he seemed cool about it all, and promised he’d be back in Derry soon. Looking forward to it already 🙂

 

I travelled to Carlow on Friday morning with my dad, aunt and uncle. My mum and another aunt and uncle met us there, and we had a great weekend. Nicky organised his own Christmas concert, which went really well. Its interesting for me to watch him perform, because in some ways he’s much different, which for some reason I can’t really explain. There were other musicians and singers too, and they were all very different. There were five guide dogs in the audience, and they were all very quiet. Just as well, because there was a raffel in aid of Irish Guide Dogs, so they showed a good example.

We spent Saturday wandering around Carlow and relaxing in the pub with friends before going out for a lovely dinner. Our plans for Sunday had to change a bit, but O J complicated things further by needing to go to the vet. He has an absess which must have burst when the three dogs were playing the previous evening, so he got painkillers and anti-biotics for the rest of the week. He’s in great form and taking all the tablets easily enough.

Even though I’ve been spending time with lots of people, yesterday was the first day that I’ve actually felt in any way Christmasy. Children with special needs held a craft fair in the local primary school, so I bought presents and decorations for my house. Looking forward to getting the tree up at the weekend. I had the yaktracks on this morning on the way to work because the footpaths are all icey.

 

After all that, there were still two highlights of the week that I didn’t mention. One was the Bruce Springsteen tickets I bought myself for Christmas, because you have to get yourself a present, right? The other great thing was knowing that my brothers definitely coming for Christmas and will be here on Christmas eve. Its going to be great!

 

A happy Christmas indeed!

One more sleep to go until the big man with the beard comes down the chimney. Oh know, he won’t get down my chimney, what am I going to do? 🙂

I got my holidays from work on Wednesday and they got off to a great start when the boss randomly let me go home 3 hours early. The evening was made even better when
Nicky
won Glor Tire 2011! I watched it with my very excited mum, sister and a family friend, and it was great fun. I’m not just saying it because I know him, but he was definitely the deserving winner. Hopefully lots of good things will come out of this for him, and he deserves them all. The first good thing is that at least we know we’ve one good singer among us for my aunt’s new year’s eve party!

I spent yesterday wrapping presents and tidying my house. I went to my Granny’s grave with my mum, which is still a difficult thing to do. We will miss her so much this Christmas, but I know she will want us all to enjoy it, and will be happy to know that our family have great things to look forward to in the new year. She was somebody who always encouraged us to make the most of life and do whatever made us happy. That’s something I try to do anyway, but will do it even more now, with her in mind of course.

My parents, cousins and a friend came to visit last night and for a couple of hours the house was busy. Someone left the door to the spare room opened, and when we were all distracted OJ crept in. I found him with his head stuck in the bag of his new dog food! Obviously the food change is going well and he likes it.
My house presents are all becoming very festive now. The place is looking very Christmasy. Its still sometimes hard to believe that I actually live here. I’m looking forward to showing some people the house for the first time over the holidays.

I’ll be spending today and tomorrow with family and friends, doing last minute present and food shopping, and hopefully walking both dogs on the beach because its been so long since I’ve done that.

I want to wish everybody who reads here a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Thanks for all your comments and help with random questions I’ve asked during the year. You’ve all made keeping a blog still feel like a worthwhile thing to do. So from me and OJ, have the best Christmas ever!

Operation Christmas is underway!

I love Christmas, but this year I’ve been getting excited about it much earlier than usual. The excitement all started on 1st Dec, when I got a phone call to tell me that I had a Bruce Springsteen ticket for one of his gigs next July. I quickly found the Christmas CD with ‘santa clause is comin to town’ and played it down the phone, to the amusement of the lovely person on the other end who sorted out the ticket 😀
I haven’t listened to much Christmas music since, but hearing it on the radio this early isn’t bothering me like it usually would.

I have about half of my shopping done, thanks to Amazon and my sister’s help. I’m a bit stuck with the rest because I don’t know what to get. Actually, does anybody have any good ideas for funny novelty gifts for secret santa in work? All suggestions appreciated.

We had a work party last Thrursday which went well. OJ got lots of attention, and even insisted on coming when I was dragged out to dance near the end of the night. The Americans at our table weren’t leaving the hotel until they got photos of him! We have a staff night out on Friday but he’ll be staying with my parents. This one will be a lot more fun but there will be a lot of madness involved!

I went to watch Arthur Christmas in the cinema with my nephews yesterday. Nothing like a festive film to get you in the mood. On our way home, the brother in law did the food shopping while my sister and I hunted for a tree in Sainsburys. I got one half price, 6ft with lights already on it for 25 quid. Not bad! The boys came down to decorate it this morning and it looks good, or so I’m told. Harry, who is just eighteen months has started cursing. Every time he dropped a decoration, the F word was said. The family get more annoyed at me than him because I laugh every time, but I can’t help it!

O.J is getting an early Christmas surprise. Now that he’s five, (closer to six actually), his dog food should be changed from adult Royal Canin to “mature.” I know, its rediculous. This dog’s brain hasn’t matured much at all, which is maybe why I forgot to change his food when he turned five in March. I’m mixing it gradually into his own food, adding more and more every couple of days so that in about a weeks time he should be eating the new food. The kibble is smaller and more oily, but smells similar, just encase you were interested! The only change I have to worry about is what comes out after, but so far so good. I’ve never had to change his food since I got him, so its something I wasn’t looking forward too. Hopefully things stay like they are now and I’ll have a happy dog, who will have a happy owner, and we’ll both have a happy Christmas!