Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!

We're off to see Cameron Mackintosh's "Mary Poppins" today at the Palace Theatre. I love the theatre and hope that daughter will too. Last Christmas was the first time we took her to the theatre; we went to see Bill Kenwright's production of "Scrooge!" We weren't sure what she would make of it or even if she would sit still, but it was a revelation to her.

At first she sat on my knee as she didn't like the ghosts.

"Uh oh, this is a mistake" I thought.

Gradually, she became engrossed in the songs, the dancing and the story.

Slowly she started to rise up as she became more and more involved in the story.

At the end she was on her feet, clutching the seat in front.

Eventually, Scrooge came out on Christmas Day and started buying presents for the children.

Daughter stood on tip toe, wide eyed with excitement, and shouted loudly enough for all the stalls to hear:

"MUMMY! HE LIKES CHRISTMAS NOW!!"

Wonder what she'll make of Mary Poppins, then?

PS Just come back from the theatre. Mary Poppins was fab! Quite different from the film with fabulous dancing and new songs. Daughter sang "Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious" all the way home on the tram! Think she liked it.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Thanks for trying


In our region the analogue TV signal is being turned off in November 2009. This is a difficult concept for some of the older generation including my MIL. After years of throwing money away on renting an ancient TV, she bought a digital TV in Summer which I set up for her, but she has stuck rigidly to watching and video taping analogue TV.

Being the only technogeek in the family, I have tried to get her ancient video recorder to record digital TV for her, but it won't. Eventually we realised that she would have to have a digital hard drive recorder. We broached the subject with her in Autumn and agreed to club together with my sister-in-law and her husband to buy MIL a digital recorder for Christmas.

Today we went round to her house to do a few jobs. While husband hit things and unscrewed thing around the house, I set up the digital recorder for her. I wrote out simple step by step instructions for her on how to record, play and delete programmes. Nothing fancy, just the basics.

I showed her how to do it, then I gave her the instructions and helped her through the process, explaining things she didn't understand. She seemed to get the hang of it.

WM: Is that OK, then?

MIL: Yes, fine, I've got it now.

WM: Well, try recording a programme tonight and let me know how you get on.

MIL: Well, I don't need it 'til next November, do I?

WM: Grrrrrrrr!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Look what I got for Christmas!

What do you buy the Working Mum who got herself a new camera this year and is obsessed with taking the perfect photo?

That's right. Fantastic husband bought me this amazing digital photo frame!


Guess who's spent the last two hours enjoying herself sorting through photos and downloading them onto said frame?

Yes, that would be me.

Well, I survived another Christmas. Luckily this year we went to my parents' where we all pitched in and a very Merry Christmas was had by all, mostly thanks to mum and dad's wine rack!

Now we're back home, playing with our presents and I have found that my bronchitis is not so bad if I sit on the sofa all afternoon watching movies and stuffing my face with chocolate.

Funny that!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

A time for giving

I received this lovely award recently from the Reluctant Housewife:



These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.


So, I have to choose eight blogs to give to. Well, Sass e-mum and Fat, Frumpy and Fifty already have it. As do Nicole, Gigi and Melipop. Oh, and Suburbia, Family Affairs and Rosiero of Alcoholic Daze.

So that's eight of my favourites gone already, but there are others that haven't received this award yet so I'd like to pass this one on to:

Amanda of Amanda's Life. One of the first blogs I read and a relentlessy happy blogger despite the tragic loss of her sister-in-law this year. Can't believe she hasn't been given this award already!

Auntie Gwen of Auntie Gwen's Diary. Very funny lady with a wicked Scottish (hope that's the right adjective, AG) sense of humour. Often blogs tales of being drunkety, drunk, drunk drunk!

Dusty Spider. Lovely lady who makes you feel welcome. Go on, take your duster along. Flick!

Mean, Moody Middle-Aged Mom
. Wicked sense of humour and a joy to read. I always imagine her wearing purple and spitting!

The Mother of this Lot at Mother's Pride. How does this woman keep her sense of humour in the face of five daughters and the Father of this Lot?

Scrappy Sue of My Home Wellington Town. I just love her picture stories of life in NZ with her gorgeous daughters.

Maggie May from Nuts in May. Another lovely lady. I enjoy her Photostory Fridays and her tales of childhood.

SuzySoo from Soo's Stuff. A hard working mother, studying for her degree while coping with what life throws at her.


Now, as it is the season for giving, I thought I would also sprinkle a few of my 'Blog of Distinction' Awards:


For those of you that didn't read my blog when I created the award, click here to find out how I did it. There are quite a few sprinkled around the blogsphere now, but I don't think the following have one yet:

Bringing up Charlie
Tales of an ex-teacher and full-time dad

Ladybird World Mother
As she so succinctly puts it 'No bollocks, just life'

A working mother's chatter
Tales of life down under

Single Parent Dad
Blogging sensitively about raising his son after being widowed

Sticky Fingers

Tara, of From Dawn till Rusk, goes it alone (ie after leaving the Coventry Telegraph) with her new blog



So, go ahead, pick it up and remember to pass it on to five blogs that make you think, cry, laugh or sigh.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 22 December 2008

It's Christmas!

I've done the tree, the cards, the presents, the cake, the mince pies, the mulled wine, circled my choices in the Christmas Radio Times and cracked open the tin of Quality Street. That's it. I'm done.


Bring on Christmas!


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(Think I've had a bit too much mulled wine!)

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Cake Time!

I've tried to make a Christmas cake nearly every year since I got married. (Must have it all, must create fabulous Christmas Cake, must be perfect wife, etc)

Actually, I enjoy baking and the decorating of the cake is one of the few creative things I can do.

In the past I've made a Christmas Pudding Cake:

A Christmas Wreath Cake:

(this one took hours to do as I made all the decorations myself out of marzipan)

and a few others I can't find photos of such as a Chocolate Christmas Cake (spiced fruits stuck together with melted chocolate) topped with an array of white chocolate stars.

However, since having daughter I have had to abandon the elaborate in favour of the simple, yet stunning.

Last year was the first time daughter helped me and we made this simple, yet stunning Silver Star Cake:

(I've been picking up silver balls from the kitchen floor all year!)

This year I went for the Ring of Stars Cake. Yesterday, while I covered the cake in marzipan, daughter cut out 42 icing stars. Some were coloured yellow, but others I sprayed with edible gold lustre.

Today I iced the cake and we threaded the stars on to gold ribbon to decorate it.

Ta dah!


I think you'll agree - simple, yet stunning!

Nearly there!

Well, we broke up for Christmas on Wednesday. Yay! Three weeks of holiday to rest, relax and eat chocolate. Well, that's what Christmas is for, isn't it?

I pursuaded daughter to come last minute shopping on Thursday (bribed with a hot chocolate with marshmallows in Lakeland's cafe) and now we're nearly done. Cards sent, house decorated, presents wrapped. Just the Christmas cake to ice and decorate.

We had a lovely, lazy morning this morning and then at 11am husband asked, "Shall I clean the bathrooms or go to the travel agents' and investigate a summer holiday?"

Remember? He said we're going abroad next year. I said he had to organise it.

"Whichever you wish, my love" I replied, not caring about either as I coughed myself into oblivion.

So what did he choose?
Sitting on the sofa watching CBeebies with daughter!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

WorkingMumitis more like!

Well, I spent four hours at hospital this morning in various departments and the official diagnosis is .............. bronchitis. That's a new one for me!

I've got a new inhaler with a mega dose of steroids and should be better within one to two months.

Excuse me?

MONTHS!!!?

That's right, I may be better by February half term!!

Husband says if that's the case, we need to review sleeping arrangements.
I think he's joking. At least I hope he's joking. Maybe I should check under the bed for a sword?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Ooo Matron!

Well, I really am off to hospital. Not to stay, just a referral from my GP to the chest clinic for an x-ray and for a specialist to try and sort me out.

So, I've organised the morning off school tomorrow, left work for my classes, arranged for someone to take my register and for someone to do my lunch duty.

Husband is taking daughter to school.

So all I have to do is ......



............ take this

a nice flask of hot


and not forgetting a lovely bar of



And settle down for a few hours in the hospital waiting room.

Bliss!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Who put that wall there?

Last night in the Working Mum house ...................


I woke up at 2am to the sound of daughter crying. I staggered across the bedroom to see to her and, in my exhausted and confused state, I walked into a wall I'd forgotten was there and split my lip.


I settled her down and stumbled back to bed only to cough and cough. And cough and cough and cough.


Husband: If I had a sword I would cut your head off.


He says the sweetest things.


Me: I assure you it is much more annoying for me actually having the cough, than for you listening to it.


Husband: You shouldn't have gone back to work. If you're not careful you'll end up in hospital on a drip.


Is it really wrong of me that I think that sounds like a lovely prospect?

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Manchester says no!

I'm not usually political, but I did feel strongly about this one:


Just give us decent public transport and we'll use it.

Don't crush people with more taxes!!

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Scribe

Daughter has been receiving Christmas cards from her classmates. Most of them just wrote their names. Some, more ambitious children wrote "To Izzy" and then their names. I thought it time that she wrote hers, but I wondered how I was going to get her to write her name in 20 Christmas cards. I needn't have worried.


She started the first one, "To Oliver"

"How do you spell 'were', mummy?"

I spelt it out for her.

"How do you spell 'great', mummy?"

I spelt it out for her.

"How do you spell 'king', mummy?"

Gradually I realised that she had written:

"To Oliver, You were a great king, Love Izzy"

It continued:

"To Lily, I loved your dancing, Love Izzy"
"To Arif, I loved your present for Jesus, Love Izzy"
"To Cara, You were a great angel, Love Izzy"
and so on and so on.

She wrote a critique of every performance in the school nativity!

Now, if I can just get her to write my reports .................................

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

Feeling brighter today having got all that off my chest. It's been a beautiful, crisp, sunny, frosty winter's day and we've had a lovely afternoon walking along the canal to Walton Park and riding on the steam trains. Then, once thoroughly frozen, we came home for hot chocolate with marshmallows. Life doesn't get any better than this.

Yesterday we did our Christmas decorations. We had a few errands to do in the morning, so I suggested putting up the tree after lunch. I love doing the tree. I put Nat King Cole on the CD player and we munch away on mince pies while reminiscing over each bauble: Daughter's First Christmas bauble, Macy's 2001 bauble from our trip to New York, the salt dough decorations bought on a romantic weekend in York, etc.

Just as I started to prepare lunch husband decided to put the lights up in the cherry tree in the front garden. Okay, he can do that while I'm cooking, then we can eat and do the tree.

How long does it take to put lights in a cherry tree?


THREE HOURS!!


While he was doing that daughter and I put the garland over the fireplace and decorated it:

Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

Daughter amused herself by tipping out all the polystyrene chips from the box of baubles and making snow angels on the lounge floor:



At 3.30 pm husband came in from doing the cherry tree and started to assemble the Christmas tree in the lounge.


Then came the traditional argument about the lights. He put the lights on the tree without testing them first, switched them on and ........ fizz, fizz, phut!

"Where are the spare bulbs?"


"We haven't got any for those lights, just for the other set"

He proceeded to wiggle every one of the 100 bulbs trying to find the loose one. There was the occasional flash of lights, then nothing.

"Why don't you use the other set?"


"I've put these on the tree"


"Well, take them off"


"It doesn't solve the problem"

"No, but you can use the other set and we'll use these on the dining room tree next weekend once we've got spare bulbs"

"But that's not the objective"


"No, the objective is to decorate this tree. If you put the other lights on it we can decorate it"

By now it was tea time, I was losing the will to decorate the tree. Nat King Cole had had enough, too. I went to make the tea.

Finally, he changed the lights, we finished tea, we put Nat King Cole back on and we decorated the tree:


(Like the head gear?)

Ta dah!


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ............


Getting things off my chest - literally

Here's the thing. I thought I was getting better. I thought the steroids were working, but they didn't. I went back to the doctor on Wednesday and he has now given me an inhaler to use, but it is having no effect. I have symptoms akin to asthma, I can't breath in, I have a tight chest, I can't breath out, I just cough. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest the whole time and every breath is an effort.

At work I can't teach properly because I can't project my voice across the classroom. Each lesson is an endurance test as just disciplining pupils takes all my breath and then I cough and cough. I can't take time off because, even though I've now finished all my subject reports, I have two classes to prepare for exams in January and this week my form's reports are due. And report deadlines wait for no man. Also, everyone is so busy/tired/stressed at work at the moment I would be deeply unpopular if I was selfish enough to take time off and they had to cover my lessons. (My school doesn't get supply teachers in to cover, we have to cover each other).

Also, I can't sing, which is just my favourite thing. I can't even sing around the house, or sing daughter her lullabies. I haven't been to rehearsals for three weeks and I'm going to have to pull out of this week's concert and I love Christmas concerts. I've missed so many rehearsals and concerts through illness in the last year that I'm beginning to feel guilty about taking up a place in the Manchester Chorale.

And I can't even read bedtime stories to Izzy. We are now working our way through her books on CD so that someone else reads the story while I turn the pages. How sad is that?

And I've started having my recurring nightmare again. The one I've had from being a child. The one about being smothered by a giant duvet. What's that about?

Anyway, I am sooooooooo fed up I had to get it off my chest.

Now will this infection just get off as well?

Friday, 5 December 2008

Having it all update

Haven't done one of these for a while, but looking at my title I am reminded that my blog is supposed to be about 'having it all'. I know, I get a bit waylaid sometimes with the minutiae of life, but the basic premise of this blog is to find out:

How does a modern woman have the career, marriage, family, home, etc?

Not that I am the perfect example, or have any answers, I'm just an ordinary example of a woman trying to have it all. I think my tales of life in the Working Mum household show just how difficult it can be to juggle all that stuff, especially at this time of year. Trying to keep the house together, keep on top of work and get ready for Christmas just seems like a big ask at the moment. Thank goodness for Internet Shopping!

So why do I do it?

Well, my generation were brought up to think that we could, nay should, 'have it all' and, looking back at growing up in the seventies and eighties, I realise that I never doubted that I would. It is just what I expected to do.

Our mothers worked hard to give us the choices they didn't have. I am grateful for the boundaries they pushed back for us. I have had the opportunity to go to university, to have a career and to go back to work after having daughter. I have an understanding husband, a gorgeous daughter and a (nearly) lovely family home. It looks like I do 'have it all'. However, I feel constantly pulled in different directions, often exhausted, frequently ill and guilty beyond belief. Why? Is it worth it?

Just recently a friend of mine (a fellow working mum) summed up the whole 'have it all' notion quite nicely:

"Is it 'have it all', or just 'do it all'?"

Hmmm ..........

Monday, 1 December 2008

Credit Crunch bypasses Tesco

Yesterday I braved Tesco. I know, a foolish thing to attempt at this time of year. The shop was packed with people stocking up for Christmas. Tesco helpfully make life more difficult at Christmas by filling the aisles with towers of tins of chocolate to hamper your movement and to tempt you.


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Mmmmm, perhaps I do need another tin of Quality Street......


Anyway, I wanted a cake board for my Christmas cake.

Yes, in the middle of the November mayhem I decided to bake a Christmas cake. I don't know what came over me. It's this foolish 'have it all' notion: must be perfect wife and mother and produce fantastic homemade Christmas cake, decorated a la Jane Asher.

Well, I got to the checkout and surprise, surprise, the cake board wouldn't scan. Checkout girl flashes her red light and gets someone to fetch another cake board.

He comes back with two cake boards saying "There's no code"

Okaaay, what does that mean?

"I can't sell it to you"

I look at him, incredulously, "What do you mean, you can't sell it to me?"

"There's no code, we can't scan it, can't sell it"

"So you can't sell me something for sale in this shop because of technology"

"Yes"

Tesco obviously don't need to sell all their products.

Buy Tesco shares now, buy, buy!!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Pantomime Problem

Feeling much better, nearly back to full strength. All exams marked, grades entered and only two sets of reports left to write. However, I now have another problem:


MIL wants to take daughter to a pantomime. Normally I would reluctantly agree and then worry all afternoon. (Remember she's in her seventies, blind in one eye, bad back, can't manage stairs and yet is still driving - go figure!)

However, she wants to take Izzy along with her other grandchildren. Three kids, two under five. On her own. No other adults.

How do I tell her that I don't want daughter to go without mentioning the facts that

a) I don't trust her driving
b) I worry that she will lose one of them
c) I suspect she will leave two alone if one wants toilet?

I base these assumptions on previous experience of

a) my neice being driven around by MIL without being strapped in to car seat

(MIL thought it good enough for her just to sit in it, good job she called at our house and I put her straight)

b) my nephew (aged 18 months) standing crying at top of her stairs having climbed out of his cot while MIL sat in kitchen doing crossword saying "he'll settle down"

(she doesn't do stairs, not even to sort out crying grandchild, good job I arrived and sorted him out before he fell down the stairs!)

c) my daughter left in car at petrol station while MIL paid

(I know this sounds paranoid, but a friend of mine left her car for ten minutes once and came back to find her car on fire, luckily she'd decided to take her daughter in with her - NEVER, repeat NEVER, leave your child alone in car)

I can't tell her the truth and hurt her feelings. Don't say "go with her" or claim "previous commitment". She would definitely suspect something if I offered to go with and I'm a terrible liar. And it's too far in advance to claim previous commitment (I have said I need to consult the diary though, can I see a reason I would be busy on 21st February?).

Husband thinks his mum is still a young and sprightly sixty year old and can't see the problem, so he's no help. And we all know how safe he keeps daughter (click here to find out)!


Or am I just being over protective?



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Help!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Speak up love!

I'm sitting at the kitchen table, trying to write reports, but nothing is inspiring me, so guess what? I'm doing a bit of blogging instead (will I never learn?)

I'm taking part in Potty Mummy's hosting of the Best of the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival today so if you've time, pop over and have a look.


And, here's what happened today:

After work today I went back to the doctor's as my cough is getting worse and my chest feels really tight . He diagnosed a chest infection now and prescribed steroids (or "man tablets" as husband calls them). I toddled off to the local Chemist's with daughter in tow to get tablets.

We were sitting waiting for my prescription when a woman entered the shop wearing a very striking shawl and amazing pattered tights.

Daughter sat and stared for a while, mesmerised. Then she turned to me and whispered,


" That lady ssssssssssssssssssssss"

(Well, that's what it sounded like)

"What was that, love?"

"That lady's ssssssssssssssssssss"

"Speak up, love!"







"THAT LADY'S REALLY FAT!"

I was mortified.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Can anyone assist?

Before you read this post, please note that it is not a whine, whinge or complaint. It is just fact. Keep reading to the end because you may be able to help me!

* * * * * * *

Husband is mad at me for going back to work today before being fully fit, but he doesn't understand the build up of work continues even when I'm not there.

Normally I get two hours of marking per night. Fine. Daughter goes to bed, I do my marking (interspersed with a bit of blogging) and then I go to bed. Job done.

Now, I've just had three days off ill, so you do the maths.

On my desk this morning were:
  • three sets of books (one and a half hours)
  • two assessments (two hours)
  • one set of exams (two hours)
  • one set of sixth form homework (half an hour)
Of course I was put on cover in my 'free' period and exam/assessment marks have to be in by Wednesday so I've had to bring six hours of marking home with me. And I haven't even started writing my reports yet!

Now, what I need is ...................




.......... to stop doing this:

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.......... to get one of these:

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(oh no, I can't, I'm on antibiotics)

............. and find one of these:


Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Anyone got a time machine I can borrow?

Saturday, 22 November 2008

PTA or SAS?

Doctor has diagnosed 'nasty thing going round' with 'throat infection' and has given me antibiotics. I must be ill because husband has volunteered to miss the beginning of City's match today to take daughter to pony riding party!

I thought I would try and sort out a few things in the in-tray today as it has been building up. Usual stuff: bills, bank statements, stuff about Manchester Congestion charge (that requires a whole other post!). Actually what I discovered was that I'm being hounded by the PTA (Parent Teacher Association).

Next week is the Autumn Fair and I expected to be asked to contribute something. It started fairly innocuously with a letter saying that daughter's class were doing the 'Hoop a Jar' stall so have to send in two or three jars, decorated for Christmas and filled with kiddy things. So far so good. Found two jars in garage, daughter decorated them with christmas stickers and we filled with hair bobbles and slides. Lovely. Job done.

Then I got a letter with raffle tickets to sell and send money and stubs back.

OK, I can sell them to friends and family.

Then a letter asking for second hand toys and books.

Possibly manage that.

Two days later - every child must send in a bottle and something chocolate for the tombola.

Hang on a minute........

Finally - something for the cake stall, to be brought in the day before the fair.

Well, I can bake some cupcakes, but isn't that now asking for a lot?

I have now been asked for six things for the fair! Each thing has to be taken to a different place on a different day. I am so confused I just want to pick up all the letters and put them in the bin (recycling, of course). Why don't they just send one letter and collect it all in one place? Do they think that by asking on six separate occasions we won't notice and just keep sending stuff in?

And I only have one child. What if I had two or three or more?!

And then they expect me to attend said fair with daughter and spend lots of money trying to get back my contributions!

Ah, the joys!


Friday, 21 November 2008

Oh elusive rest

Cold got worse, now on third day off work, couldn't venture out of bed yesterday, today I'm off to the doctor's. Really just want to get fit again, but how come you can't get a rest when you need one? Tomorrow I have to take daughter to pony riding party which she is desperate to go to, I have to walk round with her and it's forecast snow. Then there was this:

Yesterday whilst bedridden with temperature and hacking cough I heard a knock at the door.

"It'll go away", I thought.

Then I heard men's voices outside so I gingerly got up and looked through the bedroom window. A plain blue van with a ladder on the top.

"Mmmm", I thought, "Not the window cleaner, maybe gardeners looking for work?"

I staggered back to bed.

Next thing I know, one of them has climbed on to the wheelie bin at the side of the house and jumped over our side gate into the back!

"Perhaps they are burglars just checking if anyone is in before the breaking in round the back?" I thought. Well, the police have said burglaries are on the increase in our area in these straightened times.

At this point I was more annoyed with husband for leaving wheelie bin down the side of the house as useful step (which I have nagged him several times not to do) than fearful of being burgled. Funny how the mind works when you're not well.

Then there was another knock on the door.

At this point I thought I'd better answer it, show the burglars there is someone in, take a good look at them and then inform the police.

I staggered downstairs and opened the door.

"Oh, I'm so sorry love. Have we woken you up? Do you work nights? We're from 'Roofline' (name changed to protect the innocent), we're here to fix your guttering. I'm so sorry to disturb you, but we don't know which is the leaking part. My mate's gone round the back to see if it's there. Can you tell us where it is and we'll fix it for you?"

'Roofline' are the company that fitted our soffits, fascias and guttering last year and husband had rung them to fix a leaking piece while still under warranty.

I showed them the leaking part and went back to bed.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

At home with WMS

Guess what? I'm ill again. Cold started on Sunday, but I did my usual and ignored it until I was unable to teach yesterday due to streaming nose, sneezing and raw throat. Thought I'd better take a day to recover as I don't want to end up like last year when I bravely battled on only to collapse at Christmas (I was so ill, I couldn't eat my Christmas dinner) and suffer one thing after another until April.

Found disadvantage of daughter attending my school this morning when it took me an hour and a half to take her to school and come home again, but it's now 9.00am and I can take it easy:



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Thought I could manage to sit at the kitchen table with the laptop and start writing my reports. (No matter that they haven't done their exams yet - deadlines are such that I need to write their reports before I mark their exams, otherwise I can't get it all done in time!) However, have got waylaid by Google shouting "Blogger!" and "Reader!" at me.


Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I have decided to adopt Sass e-mum's steely reserve and not give in to Scary Mum, I will use MOTL's and Fat, Frumpy and Fifty's excellent advice and say that daughter wanted to choose something herself and that we've already got it. Then Claire, Gigi and Scrappy Sue made me realise that the presents I've appreciated most from pupils are the things they make themselves, so I am going to go ahead with my original plan: gingerbread biscuits. (In case you missed it click here for my gingerbread recipe.)

Daughter wanted to make Christmas gingerbread biscuits for her teachers and I have already bought adornments such as mulitcoloured silver balls and pretty cellophane bags with gold stars on to wrap them in. Add homemade gift tags and voila!
* * * * * * * * *

Talking of Christmas, the nativity play is upon us. Daughter came home a couple of weeks ago saying that they were practising for the nativity play and............


"It's another Baby Jesus story!"

(Think I need to find her book on the story of the nativity and explain again what Christmas is about)

She really wanted to be an angel like last year. She's spent ages telling me she needs to be an angel, she's dug out her angel costume, she's begged and pleaded to be an angel and it all culminating in her wailing:

"If you don't let me be an angel, I'll have to be a snowflake"

("Snowflake" was spat out with much venom)

I tried to explain that it wasn't up to me, but she wouldn't have it!

Yesterday she came home with the letter saying that she was 'Angel 8'

Great!" I said, "You're an angel. Just what you wanted to be"

"Yes" she said, glumly, "but I'm not the lead angel"

You just can't please some people, can you?

Monday, 17 November 2008

Present Problem

I've marked a set of tests twice tonight (yes, the same tests) after discovering mistakes on mark scheme. Totally fed up with it so decided to catch up a bit on blogland. Read a few amusing blogs and thought I would blog something that happened this weekend:

So there I was standing talking to Pregnant Mum at yet another birthday party this weekend, when Scary Mum (scary as in Morticia Addams) came over to us.

"I'll be collecting £10 from each of you for the teachers' Christmas presents" she said.

Notice, no 'please' or ' what do you think?' or even 'a contribution'.

No, just 'I'll be mugging you for £10'.


"Oh" I said, in a bit of a state of shock, "What are you going to get?"

Buying time while I let it sink in and decide how I feel about this.

"Just some John Lewis vouchers, it's easiest" she replied.

"That's fine", said Pregnant Mum, "By Christmas I'll be too busy to decide what to get them anyway"

Scary Mum then leaves to accost other mums, not waiting for a reply from me.

Is this normal?

(I feel compelled to point out that I've never received £100 in John Lewis vouchers from my pupils' parents at Christmas)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Conversations with a four year old - the one about school

Still drowning in a sea of attainment grades, progress grades, effort grades, interim reports, exams and full reports, but had to post this one as it seemed so appropriate:

This morning daughter was falling asleep on the stairs as I tried to put her school shoes on ready to leave.

"Why do I have to go to school every day?" she asked wearily.

"It's not every day, it's five days then the weekend" I explained.

"But I get tired before the weekend" she wailed.

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Don't we all, sweetheart?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Falling into the abyss

I hate November.

November should be a month of snuggling up by the fire, eating toffee apples and of course, Bonfire Night. It's a time for battening down the hatches and spending evenings with your loved ones watching BBC dramas or reading a good book.

Not for Working Mum.

November is the busiest time in the academic year.

It's another Open Evening, Open Morning (on a Saturday), three Parents' Evenings (including one tonight), one Sixth Form Information Evening and attending the School Play. Combine this with internal school exams to be written and marked, then 120 reports to be written, all on top of a normal 60 hour a week teaching load! Oh, and I have to finish writing the school Entrance Exam and get it to the printers by 10 December as well.


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I look remarkably calm considering, don't I?

This is the nadir to the Summer Holiday's zenith, it keeps the balance, for every yin there is a yang..............

At this point in the year I consider moving into school; I might as well live there. Instead, I book all my shopping on-line for delivery (TGFT) and ignore the build up of mess, dirt and laundry.

Blogging may have to take a back seat.

I will emerge sometime in early December just in time for the Christmas mayhem!





Sunday, 2 November 2008

Job done!

Half term is now officially over and I'm looking back at the list of things I needed to do this week (plus a few others I added along the way):
  • Car passed its MOT; the noise was apparently wheel bearings and was sorted out as part of the service - yay!
  • Found the Farm Party and the Bowling Party, another party was cancelled and daughter spent a morning at a school friend's while I browsed around nearby John Lewis - again, yay!
  • Altered the lounge curtains, gathered and ironed them and put them up.
  • Lounge has new lights thanks to electricians; after two years with wires sticking out of the walls, I now have lights! Double yay!
  • Daughter spent two nights at my parents' giving me time to do a clear out and a few visits to the tip and the charity shop - another yay! Even managed to get rid of our old telly on 'Loot' so I can get my car in the garage now.
  • Entrance Exam - first draft completed - half a yay!
  • Managed to get my mouth around the Italian (language, not person) at the Opera Gala at Bridgewater Hall - never want to sing the Grand March from Aida again! How many vowel sounds can you fit on one note?
  • Did a bonus job of getting new flooring put in downstairs toilet. Daughter had had a few 'accidents' there when potty training and she runs in and out in her wellies when she's playing in the garden, so cushion floor ('lino' to you and me) was a much more sensible option.
  • Bought new plates and bowls from Debenhams in the '20% off' sale (Denby 'Mist' - lovely). We had had our others for 20 years and we were down to five plates, four bowls and three sideplates. If anyone came for tea we used Thomas the Tank Engine and Peter Rabbit plates and bowls! It had ceased to be querky.
  • Also found time to go for a meal with husband to a lovely local Italian restaurant where he asked me if I was overwhelmed by the menu. (He's still going on about the yoghurt)

So altogether a successful half term.

Going to have a rest this evening while I watch "Strictly"

and maybe one of these.......


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.......... Cheers!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Photostory Friday - Toy City!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


I was going to do a PSF on Hallowe'en today and take a 'Food Porn' picture of my pumpkin cake that I made yesterday with orange cream cheese frosting. However a) I've been too busy to do the pictures and b) it didn't last long enough to photograph it.

So instead I'm going to post about daughter's bedroom which is still awaiting the carpet fitter to refit the carpet after the electricians' visit this week:

My favourite room in our house is daughter's bedroom. It was one of the first rooms we did when we moved in (after the condemned bathrooms) two years ago. After the plasterers skimmed the entire room to a lovely smooth base I painted it a beautiful New England blue colour with lovely shaker style white furniture. We decorated with Thomas the Tank Engine accessories and bought shelves for her toys and books. It looked like this:



and this:


and this:



Last weekend we had to clear out daughter's toys and books so that the electricians could get under the floor to do the lounge lights.

I hadn't realised just how much stuff she had accumulated in her little life.

There was this:



and this:



and this:



I am appalled and ashamed at how much she owns. Very little was bought by myself and my husband: the kitchen, the musical instruments and some books. The rest have been presents and hand me downs.

She has been told that she has to get rid of some before Father Christmas will call!!

What a cruel mummy I am!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Meme Time!

Tagged by Fat, Frumpy and Fifty ages ago, but now daughter is away at my parents' I have found time to do it, so here goes:

(A) Four places I go over and over: Work, Tesco, Home, Work, Tesco, Home, ......

(B) Four people who e-mail me regularly: BangCd, Photobox, PicStop, CDWow: I realise now that I have no friends, only internet shopping!

(C) Four of my favourite places to eat: Anywhere you can use Tesco Deals Vouchers (TGFT)

(D) Four places you'd rather be: The Maldives, Bali, Venice, Rio de Janeiro (been to all four and would love to go back)

(E) Four TV shows I could watch over and over: Hmmm, don't have much time for TV, love "QI" and "Strictly" is a must!

(F) Four people I think will respond: Soo's stuff, Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife, One Strangely Lush Mother, Moments from Suburbia

Sorry, I'm off to the tip (again) so not bothered with all the linking and tagging palaver, but I'm sure you'll pop in and see yourselves!


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Anyone else?

We were sitting in the kitchen last night eating our evening meal when I offered the following for dessert: fruit, yoghurt or fromage frais.

"I'll have a yoghurt" said husband.

I opened the fridge, "Oh, no yoghurts, sorry"

"No, yoghurts?" he asked, "but you've only just been to Tesco. What happened?"

"I get overwhelmed in the yoghurt aisle" I explained "There are too many and then I can't choose so I just leave"

"You have to put that on your blog" he said as he picked up an apple.

He is now asking all our friends if they get overwhelmed in the yoghurt aisle.


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Anyone else overwhelmed in the yoghurt aisle?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Big Bad Mummy

Sometimes I get fed up of being big bad mummy. Take last night:

Sitting in the kitchen with daughter drinking her bedtime milk she decided to launch Tigger across the room narrowly missing hitting two glasses and a vase.

Husband: Be careful!

Be careful?! What's that about? How can you carefully throw a teddy?

Me: Don't throw Tigger

Daughter: Awwww!

We move to the lounge and daughter dives behind sofa, waggles the floor lamp about nearly knocking over six long stemmed wine glasses on the bookshelves.

Husband: Be careful!

How exactly do you carefully wave a floor lamp around?!

Me: Don't play behind the sofa

Daughter: Awwww!

Daughter comes and sits between us on the sofa and starts kicking the coffee table spilling my tea.

Husband: Be careful!

Yes, darling, carefully kick the coffee table! Give me strength!


Me: Don't kick the coffee table.

Daughter: Awwww!

Minor domestic ensues as I try to explain to husband that "Be careful" doesn't stop her doing these things, whereas "Don't" does!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Hurray for Half Term

This week is mine and daughter's Half Term Holiday. I've tried not to fill up the week with lots of jobs this time, but there are some imperatives:

  1. Take my car for service and MOT (it's also making a sound like a WWII Spitfire, which I'm guessing isn't good)
  2. Take daughter to three, yes three, parties dotted around South Manchester - anyone know where Reddish Vale Farm is?
  3. Clear out daughter's bedroom so electricians can put lights into lounge (they need to get under the floor in her room) and then put back half of the toys while surreptitiously sending the rest to a charity shop
  4. Alter lounge curtains (I brought the ones from our old house with us and they are too long)
  5. Take daughter to my parents' for two nights.
  6. Sing in an Opera Gala at the Bridgewater Hall
  7. Write school Entrance Exam
Did you notice number 5? Two nights and an entire day without being mithered!

What will I do with myself?

Well, there'll be lots of this:

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and this:

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and this:

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Hurray for Half Term!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Photostory Friday - Tea Time

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

For once I don't have to post my PSF at 6.30am before going to work because today is the first day of my half term holiday. Yay!

This week I'm hoping to learn a bit more about my (now not-so-new) camera. Since I haven't got time to do the course at nightschool that I wanted to do, I've bought a book:


"Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D for Dummies"

Perfect!


No, not the 'Dummies' bit, the fact that it is a book that tells me exactly how to use my camera. I've read the first couple of sections and it has given me lots of inspiration.

Last week daughter and I went to a park near my parents and I thought I would put some of my new found knowledge into practice and attempt to capture daughter in full flow.


Not easy!

Even using the setting for three shots per second I kept getting the back of her head, just her legs or closed eyes. However, I did mangage to get one good photo as she was spinning round in a giant yellow tea cup:



Dizzy Izzy!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Time for a cut and blow!

Today daughter brought home

"The Day Mummy turned into a Monster"

from the library.

She really enjoyed the story of mummy turning into a wild, green monster as the children made more and more mess in the house.

At the end of the story she said,

"You're not a monster, mummy"

"Oh, good"

"But you do have monster hair, don't you?"

Good job I've an appointment at the hairdresser's tomorrow!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Countess of Cardigan

I had no idea how much trouble school uniform would be. First of all there is the huge amount of it you have to purchase (and daughter's can only be bought from the official school outfitters at vastly increased prices). Then there is the sewing of millions of name tapes into each item (including underwear and socks since she has swimming lessons at school. Oh, and the school swimming costume, hat and towel). Finally, you put 300 children in the same building in the same uniform and what happens?

They lose it!

After only six weeks daughter has lost one school coat (cost £16.50) and two cardigans (each £15.00) despite them being clearly named.

On Friday she came home in someone else's cardigan. I was sorely tempted to unpick "Cook's" nametape and sew one of daughter's in it. Perhaps that's what's happened to hers?

Of course I'm too law abiding to do so.

I've got a theory that the school outfitters send a spy to school to steal items which they then sell back to us at original prices. But I digress ..........

Today, daughter surpassed herself. She came out of school in her school coat (hurrah!), but no cardigan, again (boo!).

"Where's your cardiagan?" I barked, getting fed up of this.

"Ooops! Left it in class"

I marched her back to the classroom and searched for cardigan. No sign.

I marched her to the cloakroom and we searched everywhere. No cardigan.

I bumped into her Nursery Nurse who said, "They've had music today, it might be there"

I marched her to the music room. No cardigan.

Lost Property Box. No.

The Nursery Nurse, seeing my exasperated look, very kindly said that she would look for it so we gave up and came home.

I muttered all the way home about looking after her uniform and the cost of it, blah, blah, blah.

We arrived home and daughter ran upstairs; no doubt to escape her mental mother.

"Oh Muuuuummmeeeeeee!" came the cry from the top of the stairs.

I went to see what she wanted.

There she stood ............................................... holding her cardigan.

She hadn't actually taken it to school today.

I picked up a pen and started writing a letter of apology to the Nursery Nurse .................

Monday, 20 October 2008

2007 Update

I had to laugh.

It's not just me, the whole body of staff are struggling to use Office 2007 in lessons, having had no time or training to get to grips with it before it was put on the school network.

Now, I'm not averse to change. I know we have to update, and I'm very willing to learn, but not two minutes before I have to use it in the classroom in front of an unforgiving audience (teenagers).

However, in amongst all the stress and frustration, I found this little nugget:

The ICT department are more frustrated than most because none of their teaching resources have been updated for Office 2007.

Who insisted on our updating to Office 2007 without any warning?

The Head of ICT!!!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Photostory Friday - The Colour of Autumn

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek



Don't be fooled by the title. It isn't red, yellow, russet or gold. Oh no, that's not the colour of autumn round these parts.

I decided that for Photostory Friday I would take my camera out and about and photograph the colours of autumn. So last weekend daughter and I set off for Dunham Massey (whilst husband was at the football, of course) and prepared to take photos of russet, gold and bronze trees and leaves. However, when we got there, not only had the River Bollin flooded the car park and we had to wait to get in to the place, when we did get in most of the trees were still green!

However, in amongst the unobliging green trees I spotted a gnarled, dead tree. It was reaching for a sky which was a fantastic colour of blue. So blue it was almost unbelievable. So that is my colour of autumn.


I promise there is no photoshopping going on here:


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

2007 Headache

I'm talking about Office 2007. Everyone seems to be updating to Office 2007 except me and it's causing me a lot of headaches.

Our choir secretary has sent us the list of music for Saturday's concert and directions to the venue by e-mail attaching a Word 2007 document which I can't open.

Don't know what I'm singing; don't know where to go!

At work they have suddenly updated the Office suite on the network to Office 2007. I have wasted so much time in lessons this week trying to get to grips with 2007 as I use my (prepared in Office 2003) lesson material on my Interactive Whiteboard!

I've tried using the "Help" button, but if they (Microsoft) are going to change the names of the functions it isn't going to "help", is it?

Who knew that 'View Full Screen' is now 'Minimise the Ribbon'?
Now, any ideas how to select a shape, group it and rotate it?

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Of course that isn't me at home because I'm stuck at school today until 9.30pm for Open Evening - thank goodness the system manager has allowed me access to my blog!

Organisation, Working Mum Style!

This week just gets busier and busier. I rushed in from physio last night, ate my tea, got daughter ready for bed and left MIL babysitting until husband came home while I went to choir. Came home at 10pm to find that none of the dishes had been washed (homecooked meal and no dishes to do - I aspire to being a MIL)! I washed the dishes at 7.15am today, did a day's work, came home, made tea (butternut squash and chorizo stew), did three loads of washing, put daughter to bed, did on-line banking and stuff and now have to mark two tests.

Now the rest of the week poses another difficulty for a Working Mum - the car's MOT.

(For those not in the know, this is a compulsory test that cars over 3 years old have to have every year in the UK to prove that they are roadworthy. Failure to have valid MOT certificate means you are breaking the law!)

Husband's car is due its MOT on Saturday, but he works on a Saturday so he'll take my car while I take his to the garage and daughter and I get the tram home.

Daughter's library books are due back on Saturday, but we can't get to the library without a car; no buses and too far for four year old to walk.

Library is only open late during the week on a Thursday, so we would have to go to the library after school tomorrow.

Tomorrow is my school's Open Evening and I have to stay behind after school, set up the room and get displays and equipment sorted before spending the evening talking to prospective parents so can't take daughter to library.

Upshot is, if husband wants his car MOTed he'll have to pick daughter up from school tomorrow and take her to the library!


Makes sense to me!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Juat call me Muggins

Tell me, how did this happen?

Daughter seems to have outstayed her welcome at the physiotherapists and after some veiled comments I decided the time had come to go to appointments without her.

The physio's offices close before husband gets home from work so babysitter needed - had to ask MIL.

"Could you possibly babysit your gorgeous granddaughter while I go to Physio on a Tuesday?"

"What time?"

"From 5.15pm to 6.15pm"

"Yes, I think so"

I waited for it to sink in that 5.15pm was daughter's tea time and for MIL to offer to give her her tea.

I prompted a little: "It's her tea time, is that OK?"

"Yes, I can sit with her while she eats"

Is it me or does that just seem weird? My mum would have offered to cook for all of us. At this point my manners kick in and I can't let MIL sit and watch daughter eat her tea on her own so this escapes from my mouth:

"I'll make enough for all of us, so you can eat with her"

Now I have to make Tuesday's tea in advance and put it in the oven on the timer on Tuesday morning so MIL and daughter can eat while I'm at the physio!!




Saturday, 11 October 2008

Conversations with a four year old - the one about the goats

Where does the time go? I've missed Photostory Friday and the weekend's nearly over already! I'm trying to catch up with my blog reading and then I'm going to do the ironing while watching Strictly. I've no time to blog about how busy the past week has been so here's one I prepared earlier:

Living in Manchester we are very lucky to be near many parks, gardens, historic houses and beautiful parts of the English (and Welsh) countryside. We have lots of 'family fun days' around the North West. Daughter has been lucky enough to visit so many places she can't always remember the names. She makes her own up such as 'The Crazy Golf Park' (Walton Park), 'The Pirate Maze' (Red House Farm) or 'The Steam Engines that don't move' (Quarry Bank Mill - the engines are ones that power the looms). Last weekend she wanted to go to somewhere that she couldn't remember the name of so the following conversation ensued:

Daughter: Can we go that park we've not been to for ages?


Me: Which park?

Daughter: The one with the goats.

Me: Do you mean Wythenshawe; the one with the farm with pigs and cows?

Daughter: No! Just goats! It just has goats!

Me: Who did we go with?

Daughter: With Sarah, but a very long time ago.

(That narrows it down then!)

Me: What else is at the park?

Daughter: Ice cream!

(Again, not helpful)

Me: What else did you do there?

Daughter (getting more frustrated by the minute): I PLAY ON THE LOGS!

(Light dawns)

Me: Oh, you mean Dunham?

Daughter: Yes!

Me: Yes, we can go there, but just one thing sweetie; they're not goats, they're DEER!



Playing on the logs at Dunham Massey, Altrincham

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Strictly Working Mum

I'm Working Mum and I'm a "Strictly Come Dancing" addict:

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(Notice my lovely new lounge)

Unfortunately I seem to have inflicted my obsession on my daughter. I tape the Saturday show and we watch it together on a Sunday. Daughter loves the dresses, the dancing, the music, the whole spectacle. I get a bit frustrated at the camera work as I would like to see the actual dances, but bascially


I ........... LOVE .......... IT!


We then watch "Strictly It Takes Two" every night of the week while daughter has her milk and I have a nice cup of tea (ocasionally chocolate is also involved).

Last night while we were watching "It Takes Two" daughter lined up three teddies next to me and gave us each a flash card.



You know what's coming don't you?


Yes, she pranced about a bit, did a forward roll (her new thing) and then looked at me and the teddies expectantly and said (in her best Alan Dedicot voice):



"Would the judges please reveal their scores?"


Saturday, 4 October 2008

Percy , percy, percy

I'm feeling much better now and so daughter and I are once again singing and dancing around the kitchen. We whirl and twirl with gay abandon, singing loudly at the tops of our voices.

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We've had lots of fun with this one:





(yep, still enjoying the greatest hits of Gilbert O'Sullivan!)

but I got Duffy's album for my birthday and our favourite now is this:






the only thing is, daughter insists it's "Percy" -


Percy the Tank Engine

Friday, 3 October 2008

Photostory Friday - Tempus Fugit

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


Still practising with my (now not-so-new) camera. I was hoping to do a photography course at night school this term, but of course I haven't got the time. (What was I thinking? I can't even manage choir rehearsals once a week!).

Instead I am trying to use PhotoStory Friday to motivate me to try something new each week. I've bought myself a set of macro filters to try some close-ups and here's one of my efforts:


This is my carriage clock which my godmother bought me for my 18th birthday.

It has accompanied me to university, to my first house and now this house.

It is soon to grace the mantlepiece in my newly decorated lounge.

It has been ticking away and swinging its balls (excuse the expression!) for twenty-one years.

Twenty one years!!!

Blimey, time flies!

Monday, 29 September 2008

WMS strikes again

I've been back at work for three and a half weeks and I've got a stinker of a cold. I'm the fourth person in our department to have it, so I guess I did quite well to last this long. I'm now struggling with watery eyes, sneezing and a very sore and tickly throat.

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(See me struggling?)

I've suffered lack of sleep because of the tickly throat and I am now aching all over and feeling very sorry for myself....... and not a little annoyed at the thought of this being the start of another academic year of illness.

I am ashamed to admit that in my weak and feeble state I have had less patience with daughter this evening. I even got a little ratty when she was taking too long to do things.

She put me in my place though when she looked at me earnestly and said,

"Remember mummy, I'm new to this family"

Consider me chastened!