Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Ooh Wakka Doo Wakka Day!

I think I'm going a bit doolally. This is my fifth day off sick this year and, as a working mum, I'm just not used to having time to myself. I really shouldn't be allowed to be on my own.

Of course, this isn't really a day off work, just a day off teaching, as I've brought loads home with me and I've already had one e-mail from work which I've had to deal with. But, as I was sitting at the computer writing the first year summer exam and listening to the radio, I heard the line up for the Glastonbury Festival this year.

Now, those of you who recognise the post title will know what's coming.

One of this year's artists is the long forgotten Gilbert O'Sullivan.

On hearing his name I was instantly transported back to 1977 and dancing round my parents' lounge singing "Matrimony":

"I dooooooooooooon't wish to hurry you love, but have you seen the time?
It's quaaaaaaaaaaaarter to ten and we're supposed to be there at nine!"

I loved Gilbert O'Sullivan!

"Claire, the moment I met you I swear, I felt as if something somewhere...."

So what have I done? No, I haven't bought tickets for Glastonbury, I'm too old for all that mud. No, I've been on to and ordered the whackily titled 'The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan'! I'm so excited!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

"One minute you say you will and the next you won't,
One minute you remeeeeember and the next you don't"

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


Yes, I'm ill again:

Meez 3D avatar avatars games
(How many avatars can one woman have?)

Last time it was laryngitis, this time tonsillitis. How many 'itises' can I get in one year? Laryngitis, tonsillitis, tendonitis, conjunctivitis, cystitis ........ maybe not!

Well, rather than wallow in self pity I decided to cheer myself up like I did last time (with ten magic moments of singing with the Manchester Chorale) by doing ten Izzyisms. These are words that Izzy used as she was learning to talk:

Gangan (Grandad)
Axient (Accident)
Fablious (Fabulous)
Beemahna (Banana)
Dennis (Dice)
Condenation (Condensation)
Psgetti (Spaghetti)
Felingoes (Flamingoes)
Mischief (Moustache)
Importnent (Important)

Very cute, I know, but they could come back to haunt her in years to come!

My parents still refer to my 'isms': 'dresseog' for dressing gown and 'tuckers' for cushions. My dad referred to them in his father-of-the-bride speech. He even told the tale of when I came home from school on my first day (a Church of England school) saying that God wants us to stay clean. When asked why, I said, "We have to ask him to forgive us our dressmesses!"

It was nearly forty years ago. For heavens sake, let it go!

(Oh, I've just put it on tinternet for all eternity. Oooops!)

Monday, 28 April 2008

Doctor's Advice

Managed to get a doctor's appointment today after missing a staff meeting this morning to hang on the phone at 8.30am (if you don't get through by 8.40am there are no appointments left).

Official diagnosis: Tonsillitis and run down

Cure: Antibiotics and rest

Conversation with doctor:

Him: You need to rest to get better. Do you work full time?

Me: Yes

Him: Ah............................ And how old is your daughter?

Me: Just turned four

Him: Oh.......................... And you are a teacher?

Me: Yes

Him: Oh.......................... Well maybe you could try and reduce your workload?

Me (trying not to laugh): OK

* * * * * * *

So, I have asked if I can just teach my exam classes tomorrow (twenty five fifth years, one LVI and two UVI classes). Does that count as reducing my workload? How can I reduce my workload on Thursday when I've got a Parents' Evening (and hence a 13 hour day)? I'll figure that one out after I've marked these 18 exam papers the pupils gave me today!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Birthday Party and WMS

Birthday Girl blowing out her candles

Weekend started well. Daughter, Izzy, woke up at 6.30am as usual, very excited about birthday. We'd spent Friday evening decorating downstairs with balloons, banners and streamers which just added to her excitement. Presents opened and played with by 7.30am!

Went to pick my car up from garage. Not as bad as I thought, £120 for new spark plugs, leads and stuff (I'm so mechanically minded). Daughter came with me and shouted "Penelope Polo, Penelope Polo!" when she saw her on the forecourt; young mechanic thought that the name 'Penelope Polo' was "classic"!

Quick detour to French bakery for baguettes and home to do buffet.

First lot of guests arrived at 12 noon and had lunch at 1.00pm before leaving to go to the football. Cleared food away and then welcomed second lot of guests around 3.00pm (the ones who couldn't come until later due to dance classes, hair appointments, etc). Then fed them another buffet at 5.00pm. At 6.00pm football fans came back and depressed everyone with tales of how City had thrown it all away again.

All the time I was running round like a whirling dervish making sure everyone happy, fed and watered, while husband was in charge of entertainment. For 'entertainment' read 'husband and Izzy's godfathers playing swingball, Elefun, child's badminton and child's golf in garden'!

Luckily my brother helped with drinks and poxy godmother helped with dishes. (No, you read it correctly. Short explanation: Izzy's godfather was living in France when she was christened so his mum stepped in at the ceremony as proxy godmother, which has since turned into 'poxy godmother'!) Later on, my mum helped clear up and do a mountain of dishes while I got a very tired Izzy ready for bed and my dad put her to bed and read the bedtime stories as I had lost my voice by this point. I think she had a great time:

Husband and I thoroughly exhausted had one glass of wine each and then zonked out at 9.30pm.

Today sore throat no better, coughing incessantly and keep losing my voice. Had to phone the secretary of the Chorale to say I couldn't attend concert.

Damn that WMS!

Extract of conversation with husband today:

Him: You need to go to the doctors

Me: Why?

Him: Because you're always ill

Me: He just says I'm run down

Him: Then do something about it (classic Mars answer)

Me: Like what?

Him: Rest!

(My answer is not printable, but I'm sure you can guess)

Friday, 25 April 2008

Working Mum Wobbler!

As usual, I have a concert on Sunday and WMS has struck. I have a sore throat and a cough. I have been coughing and spluttering since Wednesday.

Unfortunately my car, Penelope Polo, has come out in sympathy and is also coughing and spluttering. I did my usual ostrich impression whenever there is anything wrong with my car and pretended it wasn't happening. Eventually my practical, sensible husband said that it had to go to the garage.

Now, booking your car into the garage as a working mum is an organisational nightmare. Not the booking, but all the arrangements that have to be made because I haven't got a car. I arranged a lift to work with one colleague and a lift home with another. Then there is the matter of daughter needing to be picked up. Husband does the drop off, but works late so I don't like to ask him to pick up. Amazingly, his workload today was such that he could manage it. Hurrah!

So I dropped my car off at 7.30am and my colleague kindly came and picked me up at the garage. I have spent all day waiting for that dreaded phone call to say that there is something major wrong with car and it is going to cost £x (£x being more than I earn in a month). Now there is the matter of actually collecting my car from the garage, sorting out daughter's birthday party tomorrow, marking 25 exam papers, hosting birthday party, cleaning up, singing in concert ............

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Four years? Four minutes!

Daughter is four tomorrow.

Here's my 'hasn't time flown?' post:

This was us four minutes ago. (Well, I'm sure it was four minutes)

Look at us now!

Picture courtesy of Funky Foto

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St George and The Bridgewater Hall

Happy St George's Day!

I know we English don't celebrate our saint's day with as much relish as our Celtic neighbours, but this Sunday I am singing in A Gala for St George at the Bridgewater Hall and what, with the rehearsals and everything, I'm feeling quite patriotic! 'Land of Hope and Glory', 'Jerusalem' and 'Rule, Brittania' will do it every time! It's not exactly taxing singing, but it's the venue that counts.

Love singing at the Bridgewater Hall; the most beautiful concert hall in the world:

Proper dressing rooms with mirrors! A decent sized choir assembly area so we don't have to organise ourselves down a dark corridor. There's even an artiste's canteen backstage! Apparently they do great roast dinners, but it's not something singers can indulge in before a concert (you try singing Handel on a full stomach!) The orchestra take full advantage of the catering though!

I love stepping onto the stage and seeing row upon row of the audience in front of me. Then the sound of the orchestra warming up giving me goosebumps. The applause as the Leader and then the Conductor step onto stage.

Love it, love it, love it!

This is the stage:
and this is the view I have from the stage (imagine it full of people, are you scared?):

The funny thing is, I always forget about the audience after a concert. I pack my rucksack, head for the tram home and wonder why there are all these people waiting for the tram? Durrr!

Monday, 21 April 2008


I seem to have inadvertantly caused an outbreak of 'avatar creating' at my school.

You see, I have this other blog. One I run for my pupils. An educational one. Totally unrelated to this one. It's not even on the same google account (so that they don't find this one, heaven forbid!).

Well, I thought it would be cute to post the avatars of myself that I've been creating for this blog onto my other blog:

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

See? This is me in the corridor. Very cute!

The only problem is, pupils are now coming up to me and asking how did I do it? Is it free? (very important when you're only 13) and how can they do one? Totally missing the point of my post about how to revise effectively for exams. (Can you blame them?)

Anyway, a good proportion of my pupils are now using the school computers to create little avatars of themselves. They've even got them onto their mobile phones! (How do they do that?)

This wasn't my intention. Oooops!

Doesn't it count as developing their IT skills?
Surely this makes me a true 21st century teacher?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Football Obsessed Husband

Husband is at the football.
For a change.

(Detect that sarcastic note in my voice, can you?)

So, what is life like with a Football Obsessed Husband?

Meez 3D avatar avatars games
(Yes, I've been at the avatars again, I just can't help myself)

Well, during the football season he:
  1. plays 5-aside on Monday night

  2. has youth team matches on Saturday morning

  3. watches City on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesday evenings

  4. takes youth team to tournaments around the country

I spend most of the season complaining that I don't see him, he isn't here to help with the house, or with daughter, I have to do everything, etc, etc. Nag, nag, nag!

Now the season is finishing. He will be at home all the time, disrupting our routine, eating things he shouldn't from the fridge, creating clutter, getting under my feet, etc. Nag, nag, nag!

What am I going to do?

Ah wait. I forgot. In summer he turns into :

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Golf Obsessed Husband!

Problem solved!

Catching up

Husband has taken daughter swimming. It's his 'daddy and daughter' thing. The Sunday dinner is under control. Lamb with all the trimmings, plus blackberry and raspberry crumble. Yum! So I'm taking the opportunity to catch up with all my blog reading.

I've added quite a few to my list recently and I promise I am reading them all. Something to do with my nosy nature. I love reading the ones with younger children as it reminds me of when daughter was younger. I also like the ones with older children as it gives me advance warning of things to come. I also love the grandmothers out there who blog, they remind me of my mum who is also a silver surfer, and give me a different perspective on motherhood. People in different circumstances, people living in different parts of the world, it's all just so interesting.

Here's a selection of the many I've found recently:

Be Water, My Friend I'm fascinated by the cup cakes!
Diary of a Country Bumpkin Inspiring, with beautiful countryside
Dusty Spider Why did it take me so long to find her? Pop in for a spot of dusting
Life's Free Treats Tales from Australia
View from the High Peak Love the Peak District!
Nuts in May I still can't get past the fact that 'Maggie May!' was my grandmother's choice of swear word! Nice blog though!
Red White and Bleu Tales of Paris and London
St Bloggie de Riviere Amusing tales of a Brit living in France

Blog on!

Friday, 18 April 2008

That Friday Feeling

It's Friday evening. Daughter is in bed fast asleep. No story tonight because she was rude to me and I have to show her who's boss (I'm still trying for that discipline thing while she's young enough to respond). Shame about the story though. I was looking forward to 'The Snail and the Whale' (perhaps I should just read it to myself?).

I know it's only because she is tired. She knows I'm not really cross. This week she said to me, "You love me even when I'm crying, don't you?" and I realised that I tend to preface my rebukes with "I love you loads, but ...." without realising that she was taking it all in.

Husband has gone out for a drink with some friends. This doesn't happen often. He has enough time off for football! So I've got an evening to myself. Bliss!

Time to catch up on my blogging. I know I haven't posted much this week, but it is difficult to find the time in 'past paper season'. Basically, this is the time of year that my lovely pupils do millions of past exam papers to prepare for their exams and I spend every night marking them to give them feedback (it can make a difference of a grade and possibly a university place). It's a double edged sword; I'm pleased that they are so motivated, but god, they create a lot of work!

So, I've got a bottle of red and a large packet of cashews; I'm set up for the night! I haven't even made a pretence of keeping the bottle in the kitchen and going for a refill. No, it's sitting on the coffee table next to me so I don't have to move. How lazy is that?

I'm sitting here thinking about daughter's birthday next week. Not in a sweet, maudlin, 'how time has flown' way. No, I'll do that nearer the time. More in 'why did I say she could have a party?' way. I've managed to avoid the party issue so far, but this year her birthday is a Saturday, I know people will want to pop round, so I might as well give in and have a party.

However, this is on my terms! No children from nursery with strange mums attached. (Not that the mums are odd or peculiar; just that I don't know them). Just the friends and family that I want (or are related to; not necessarily the same thing, but a whole other issue). I decided to go for an 'at home', leisurely thing which probably means that I will be running round making sure everyone is happy for five hours instead of two. It also means we have to tackle tidying up the garden and making the house look, well, less of a hovel than it looks now. Difficult.

Anyway, being a mega-organised virgo type I have put husband in charge of decorations and entertainment and I'm doing food. Husband is a gregarious Leo type who loves entertaining so I'm playing to his strengths here. I've also, very wisely, given him a budget as he is liable to go over the top on the decorations.

Food is my forte. I am going for a mixed hot and cold buffet. I've just booked my delivery slot with Tesco (TGFT) and will sort out the finer points of the menu during the week.

The Birthday Cake is already chosen. Daughter wants the red racing car one in Tesco (TGFT) that looks a bit like Lightning McQueen. (We love 'Cars'!) Every week she studies the birthday cakes in Tesco deciding which one she wants for her next birthday! Sorted. At least I don't have to create it myself. I just need to go and order one from Tesco bakery tomorrow.

Now all I have to do is find Lightning McQueen plates, cups and napkins and we're ready!

Oh, and maybe I need to buy her a present?

Well, I think that's enough to be going on with. An episode of 'Desperate Housewives' calls, and so does another glass. Cheers!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


Before Easter, in my attempt to 'have it all', I applied for a new role at work. Something came up that I had wanted to do for a long time. It wasn't a big role, it wouldn't take a lot of time and it wasn't even a paid position, but I thought I would like it and I would be good at it. I found out today that I hadn't been chosen. Gutted.

Texted husband from work to tell him and he sent such a lovely text back I nearly cried. At work! (Why is it when people are nice to you it makes you cry?) Ah, well. At least I stuck my head above the parapet. Maybe next time.

Got to go and do daughter's homework now. Yes, I know. She's only 3. She has to take in photos of her morning and evening routines, so we've taken the photos and I need to print them off. And we all know homework reflects on the mum, not the child!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

When you have a baby you expect sleepless nights. Feeding and changing every two hours, nightmares, fallen out of bed, lost teddy, wet the bed, etc. I just didn't expect it to go on for so long!

Take last night:

I was soooo tired that when I finished marking at 9.00pm I thought I'd have an early night.

If I can get to sleep for 10.00pm I'll get a full eight hours. Bliss.

At 9.45pm daughter is wimpering. I go to comfort her and then back to bed.

At 10.00pm husband comes to bed, puts the lights on and reads until 10.45pm.

If I can get to sleep for 11.00pm, I'll get seven hours. Still bliss.

At 11.10pm I start coughing, at 11.30pm daughter is crying again, at 11.45pm I flop back into bed. Husband is snoring! (I was one of those wives that thought the earthquake we had recently was my husband's snoring)

If I can get to sleep for midnight, I'll get six hours. Fine.

At midnight daughter is crying again. She's afraid of the dark. She wants me to stay. I never normally do, but I'm sooooo tired I lie down on her ever so comfy bed.

If I can get to sleep by 1.00am, I'll get five hours. Doable.

At 1.00am daughter wants a wee, in her potty. I empty and rinse out potty, return to her room where she has put her bedside lamp on and is 'reading' a book to Tigger. I turn the light off, tell her it's sleep time and stagger back to my own bed.


She's put her lamp on again. I'm too tired to go and tell her to turn it off. She starts singing to her teddies. At 1.30am I go and turn her light off and tell her to go to sleep.

If I can get to sleep for 2.00am I can get four hours. AAAAaarh!

Sometime after 2.00am I fell asleep only to be woken what seems like five minutes later by the six o'clock alarm.

Yet again another working mum sets off for work on less than four hours sleep.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Padded bra for 7 year old!

Ah ha! So there has been a backlash on the provocative clothes for little girls issue I raised on Saturday: I heard this story on the radio on the way home from work:

Excuse me - pole dancing outfit!!?*!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Mixed Weekend

On Friday night I visited a friend and helped her daughter with some A level work she was struggling with. Of course, ten minutes with me and the subject was miraculously unveiled! Just call me superteacher! However, I forgot the invitation to daughter's birthday party which was the reason for my visit. Just call me dozy mare! Oh well, it just means I get another pass out to deliver the invitation next week!

Saturday was the usual: food shop, clean the house (it was the lounge and dining room's turn this week), do the washing, etc. Followed by a quick nip to the shops to look for some casual clothes for me. Of course I came back with four t-shirts, and some adorable trousers, oh and a lovely reversible bucket hat. Yes, you guessed it. All for daughter. OOOOOOO and I just had to buy her the Disney Princess sunglasses!

Saturday night I was hosting a proper grown-up dinner party for friends. I haven't done that since before daughter was born. I was sooooo looking forward to it. Was. Yes, you guessed it. It was called off. Because of illness. Not mine for once! Undeterred I am going to rearrange it for the near future. I need a sophisticated evening of adult conversation.

So, instead, I watched 'I'd do Anything' making intelligent and informed comments about the singing (I am a singer, you know). Comments getting increasingly incomprehensible as I worked my way through a bottle of Chianti. I think the high point was when a girl sang a song from 'West Side Story' and I announced 'Well, I sang that song in that show when I was 17 and I sang it better than that!'. Husband fell about laughing and pointed out that I didn't sing it live on Saturday night in front of 3 million people. Okay, he has a point.

Today was a hoot! We'd signed up to do a Treasure Hunt organised by choir. We invited some friends along and so that we could all go together, we borrowed a school minibus. What a laugh! We drove round Stockport looking for clues and trying to find treasure such as 'a garden gnome' and 'a dry cleaning ticket'. It finished in a pub, as all decent choir trips do, where we had a huge meal and lots of frivolous conversation.

Home to put daughter to bed who fell asleep almost as I read the last line of her story. Aaaah.

A few exam papers to mark, the 'I'd do Anything' results show (they really need me on that panel; why does Andrew Lloyd Weber keep saving her?) and a nice cup of tea while watching 'Lark Rise to Candleford'. It'll take me months to watch the entire series, but I'm enjoying it.

Now it's up the stairs to Bedfordshire, a couple of chapters of 'Slummy Mummy' and then back on the treadmill for another five days.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Tallest Girl in Britain

My daughter is tall. From about the age of 6 months she has been beyond the 98% percentile on the height charts. So tall that the Health Visitor wouldn't put her height on the chart in her official 'red book' because it would mean too much resulting paperwork. So, either daughter is the tallest girl (for her age) in Britain, or NHS height charts are grossly out of date.

Either way, I'm not bothered. Husband is tall. I'm tall. Stands to reason.

When she was going through the terrible twos I could see people in B&Q or Tesco thinking 'why is that five year old behaving like that?', but I knew and I have that 'I'm a mum, nothing embarrasses me anymore' thing going on so it didn't bother me.

However, the big problem I have is dressing her. She's nearly four and wearing age 6. She's just tall so what's the problem?

Firstly, there is less choice at this age. When she was smaller I could find loads to choose from in Mothercare, Next, Debenhams, Asda and Tesco (TGFT). But where I had a choice of twelve t-shirts, I now have a choice of two.

Secondly, the clothes available for age 6 are too provocative! They all look like smaller versions of the stuff worn by girl bands. Today I was lucky, I found some lovely t-shirts for daughter that had matching shorts. (You have to buy summer clothes when they are in the shops, not when it's summer). However, the shorts were indecent! Think - Kylie in that video. There is no way I am dressing my four year old (or even 6 year old!) in shorts that show her bum cheeks!

Where can I find decent (in the true sense of the word), good quality, value for money clothes for a little girl?

Friday, 11 April 2008

Pollen in the Wind

The Mother of This Lot has seen fit to give me the above award because I "cheer her up no end"!

That's good to know.

It's fun to see the movement of these awards across the ether. Some have described them as moving like viruses, but I think that makes them sound sinister. I think awards are more postive and deserve a better description; I prefer to think of them as moving like 'pollen in the wind'.

The strangest thing is watching the 'Blog of Distinction' award moving to other sites because....

(I'll let you into a little secret here)

..........that particular bit of pollen was made from a photo of me!

I feel like I am floating around the world with my magic wand spreading little pieces of joy! A veritable blogging Tinkerbell! (Or maybe I've just had one too many glasses of wine? Think I'd better go to bed now)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Look after the pennies .......

Thinking it is never to early to learn how to manage your money, we opened a children's bank account for daughter shortly after she was born. Any odd money she was given by aunts, uncles, etc we put in the account. Now she has a money box and husband puts 10p per week in it to encourage her to save.

Last week I asked her if she would like to pay some of the money into her bank account. Ooo yes! This was very exciting. She put some money in her little pink purse, in her silver handbag and we set off to the bank.

She handed over her pennies and her passbook to the cashier who did the necessary. Then I picked up the passbook and said, " Right let's go". I didn't anticpate the next bit:

"Where's my money. She's got my money. I want my money back. What if I want to buy toys? I WANT MY MONEY!"

I don't think I explained the concept of savings accounts properly, did I?

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A Tale of Three Mothers

Once upon at time 60s dad went to the office, worked very hard and earned the pennies to keep his family. In the evening he came home and rested. 60s mum stayed at home, worked very hard keeping house and raising daughter. In the evening she rested. Daughter became ......

..........80s mum. She was vaguely discontented and wanted a change from keeping house and raising children. A fierce storm blew as 80s mum wrestled the system to acquire an education and get a job. Childcare was non-existent. Both parents worked hard. In the evenings 80s mum did the housework while 80s dad rested. 80s dad balked at losing his energetic wife. 80s mum taught her daughter that she was equal to men and had the right to have it all. Clever 80s mum taught her son that women were equal to men, but also taught him to cook, clean and launder for himself.

Daughter became 00s (read as 'noughties') mum who had it all. She worked tirelessly to achieve her mother's dream, and was ably assisted by 00s dad who could cook, clean and launder. But 00s mum realised something in the process; it doesn't have to be this way. So 00s mum taught her daughter that she could have it all, but also taught her the importance of work-life balance and having a choice.

Daughter goes on to become 20s mum ...................

* * * * * * *

Story inspired by my recent discovery that my (60s) grandmother told my (80s) mum not to bother sending me (00s mum, did you guess?) to university because I was a girl. We lived in different times. Thank goodness my mum ignored her!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Case of the Missing Mug

I knew I couldn't stay away!

So, I return to work:

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Pupils are lovely asking me if I am better, did I have a nice holiday and saying that they'd missed me (not sure if that's a good thing). So far so good.

Then I go in my classroom.......

I can cope with the fact that my room had been 'borrowed' for a conference and that there are desks and chairs missing. In fact, by the time I had spent half an hour lugging desks up and down corridors to get my room straight I had the most toned arms ever, better than the gym!

But what I can't cope with is that MY MUG IS MISSING!

Husband bought me the mug, it's bright and cheerful, it holds my break duty cup of tea, it holds my 'get me through the day' hot lemon. More than that it says 'Total Babe' on it reminding me that how stressed or miserable I get, husband thinks I'm a babe.

I scoured the staff room, the school kitchens and the sixth form common room, but no mug.

Then, thinking that fifteen pairs of eyes are better than one, I asked my sixth formers to look out for it. They ask me to describe it. After they had finished killing themselves laughing at the words 'total babe' (children can be so cruel) they agreed to keep their eyes peeled.

Perhaps I should just get a new mug?

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Sweet and Sour Sunday

Today was a first: daughter went to the birthday party of a girl from her nursery. I wasn't keen. I've been holding off for as long as possible, but couldn't come up with a good excuse to miss this one.

So, after checking my blog for comments, I took daughter (and present for child I don't know) to local Scout Hut. Do I go or do I stay? Am I supposed to help? Do I have to make small talk with the yummy mummies? Birthday Girl's mum was lovely and said it was up to me. I thought, "Be brave. You have to let go." (I'm one of those overprotective mums; I won't even take daughter abroad on holiday for fear of illness, abduction, carbon monoxide poisoning, plane crash, etc.) So I left my phone number with Birthday Girl's dad and came home to spend the next two hours worrying if daughter OK. Did a bit of blogging; the meme that the Mother of This Lot had tagged me with. Then I went back to birthday party after an hour and found that daughter had obviously forgotten all about me in the excitement of the birthday party. I survived. I think it's a small step on the way to becoming a normal mum.

While daughter and I at party husband finally finished stripping (hold it!) the wallpaper off our bedroom. It has taken us two months! This is the longest we have ever taken to strip a room. I think we're slowing down after 'doing up the house' overload. Now we're waiting for the builder to do the stud wall then we'll be sanding and painting, probably until July.

This afternoon I 'did the finances' which means paying bills (increasing), checking on savings (decreasing) and worrying about the credit crunch (why did we treble the mortgage to buy overly large wreck of a house?). Did a bit more blogging - Reluctant Housewife has given me the 'Blog of Distinction' Award! Yaay! Then I got ready to return to work. Pencils sharpened, briefcase packed and that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Yes, it's that 'back to school' feeling. And you thought only pupils got it!

It's not that I dislike my job, I don't, I enjoy it. It's varied, interesting, challenging and rewarding. I just wish there wasn't so much of it! The start of term is like jumping onto a fast moving hamster's wheel whilst doing four other things with your hands. Most days I don't even go to the toilet at work, or, if I do, I sit there thinking "I haven't got time for this"!

It's such an odd existence: work 60 hours a week for six weeks then have one or two weeks off. It's like living two lives. And it's so funny how those people who say "but you do get all those holidays" wouldn't dream of being a teacher themselves! (I must admit that the long summer holidays are a huge bonus, they make up for the low pay and I wouldn't give them up for the world)

This evening I did a bit more blogging, writing this post, which will probably be the last for a few days as I go back to being working mum again, measuring my life in 5 minute chunks and trying to achieve the impossible dream of having it all. Now I have an extra problem: how am I going to fit in all this blogging as well?

It's all about meme

I've been tagged by the lovely Mother of This Lot. I've actually done one similar to this by e-mail recently, but if the blogging world wants to know more about Working Mum then I'll oblige:

What was I doing ten years ago?

Well, I married in '93 and daughter arrived in '04 so the intervening years were a bit of a DINKY blur. I think in '98 I went to Ireland with the choir to take part in a choral competition and later on husband and I went on holiday to Mexico. (I wanted to go to Egypt to see pyramids, but the Foreign Office wouldn't let us so I went to Mexico to see pyramids instead, I think it was a much better choice!)

5 Snacks I enjoy
  1. Chocolate biscuits
  2. Chocolate cakes
  3. Chocolate bars
  4. Chocolate brownies
  5. Chocolate icecream
(see a theme emerging here?)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire
  1. Pay someone to finish doing up the house!
  2. Give some to Marie Curie Cancer Care (they looked after my grandad)
  3. Buy a Mini Cooper (daughter and I love them!)
Not a lot really, I think a few thousand would do the trick.

Five jobs that I have had
  1. Barmaid (several times from age of 18)
  2. Avon representative (whilst in sixth form at school, earning money whilst getting cheaper cosmetics, perfect!)
  3. Checkout girl in Woolies (Christmas job in toy department, huge fun!)
  4. Playworker for local council (grossly overworked and underpaid student job)
  5. Teacher (still at it)

Three of my bad habits
  1. Biting my nails
  2. Wanting my books in height order (see 20 March post)
  3. Thinking I only have two bad habits
Five places I have lived
  1. Manchester
  2. New York
  3. Paris
  4. Kowloon, HK
  5. Hull
(OK, three of them are in my dreams, but which?)

Five people I want to know more about
  1. Scrappy Sue
  2. Jakelliesmom
  3. Saralynn
  4. Sarah of St Bloggie de Riviere
  5. The Mom Bomb
Apologies if you've already done this one and no pressure if you don't want to. I'm typically Englishly reserved about this tagging lark!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Paint Shop Pro?

Thanks for the offer of the services of the Fixer, MOTL, but look!

I took a photo (it took me a while to decide, but I went for the academic look), rotated it, cropped it, posterized it (to make it look more arty), bordered it twice (which involved flattening it and merging it), stuck some text on it (no mean feat - it isn't just a case of typing some words you know) and voila, the new Working Mum's Award (version 5):

And it only took me an hour and a half!

I seem to have wasted a lot of time on the laptop this Easter, but I'm claiming that this blogging lark is advancing my IT skills, which can only be a good thing, can't it? Although how making avatars and blog awards will enhance my CV, I'm not so sure. Now I find that Sass e-mum recommends The Pioneer Woman to learn more about PaintShop and this can only lead to more playing on the laptop. Will the house ever get finished?

Actually, I think I will be spending a lot of time at Pioneer Woman as she seems to do what I was going to pay a lot of money to do at night school next term, so Sass e-mum, you've saved me a lot of money and the hassle of trying to get a babysitter every week. Huge thanks!

Anyway, back to the award, here are the rules: pass the award on to five blogs that make you laugh, cry, think or sigh (notice the poetry?)

It was a tough decision, but I have decided that the first five 'Blogs of Distinction' will go to:

There were others I would have liked to have included, but hopefully the award will find their way to them and if one comes back to me I can always hand out another five!


Addendum 7 April: Now that one has found its way back to me I can hand it out to others I missed first time:

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong

I Invented Motherhood

Love, Life and Marriage

Mean, Moody, Middle-aged Mom

My Home Wellington Town

Paint Shop Amateur and Space Crew

This Paint Shop thing is not as easy as it looks! What's a layer or a vector? I need a teenager to help me. Hold on, I'll be seeing 120 of them next week, I'll ask them for help. Maybe I'll be able to make an award next week after intensive tuition from knowledgeable teenagers. (Shouldn't the pupils be asking the teacher for help?)

Anyway, trip to Spaceport was fun!
I really enjoyed the Explorer 1 simulator roller coaster ride and the film about being an astronaut in the Dome Theatre (commetary by the delicious Ewan McGregor).

This is daughter using a really clever exhibit to learn about the phases of the moon:

And this is husband controlling a Mars Rover Vehicle across the surface of Mars. He was very pleased with himself!
Daughter and husband now totally into Space stuff. This morning's trip to Tesco was by rocket (our car) including the countdown to ignition and blast off (leaving the drive). As we approached Tesco car park husband announced,
"We will be docking at destination in T minus 3 minutes"
"Roger that ground control"

It was harmless fun until they decided to space walk down the aisles making Darth Vader noises.

Friday, 4 April 2008


They are like buses, you wait for one for ages and then two come along at the same time!

Many thanks to the Mother of This Lot for my new award for being the sort of blogger that would invite you in for a nice long chat. Of course I would! As long as you ignore the 40 year old axminster in the hall, the ripped wallpaper, plasterwork and wires hanging out of the wall from the rewiring!

I've also discovered (thanks to reluctant housewife) that the Excellent Award originated from Project Mommy (another blog to add to my reading list) and the rules state that you have to pass it on to 10 other bloggers. Ten! All the blogs I know seem to have been given this award already. I'll have to widen my reading list to find more worthy bloggers. Or .......

....having bought Paint Shop Pro myself a long time ago and hardly used it, I could learn how to design my own award a la Fixer and award a brand new one! I'll get onto it when we return from Spaceport.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Family Fun Days

We love our 'Family Fun Days': choose a destination, pack a picnic and off we go!

Destinations are dependent on the weather, Quarry Bank Mill, Formby Sands, Chirk Castle, Knowsley Safari Park (never again after the baboons wrecked my car), Tatton Hall, etc. Anywhere interesting and hopefully available through Tesco Days Out Vouchers (TGFT).

Picnics are a real family tradition. If the weather's a bit cold it's homemade soup and sandwiches, usually eaten in the car looking at the view through rain soaked windscreen (ah, memories of my childhood). If good it's sandwiches and tubs of goodies such as grapes, carrot sticks, pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes - so virtuous! In fact, I do that terrible thing of checking out other families' picnics and making judgements: yoghurts and apples-health conscious mum, oh dear crisps - does she know what she's doing to their kidneys, pre-packaged sandwiches - just lazy!

Yesterday the weather didn't look too good so we decided on Eureka! in Halifax, W Yorkshire courtesy of Tesco (TGFT).

Eureka! The Museum for Children has sections dedicated to finding out how your body works, different environments such as ocean, desert, garden and a child-sized town where you can work in the Post Office or the Bank, shop at M&S and work on the tills, help Transco replace old gas pipes underground (I think they need all the help they can get judging by the chaos they are causing), drive a Yorkshire Electricity lorry and work on cars.

It's hard to tell who enjoyed the exhibits the most:

That's me trying to teach daughter how to change a wheel, it's never too early to learn these life skills! Then again I could just teach her how to phone the RAC and let a man get his hands dirty while you sit warm and comfortable in his van. (You can take women's lib too far)

Tomorrow we're going to try a new place (courtesy of Tesco again - TGFT): Spaceport on the Wirral. We looked it up on tinternet today to find out opening times when daugher informed me she already knows all about space:

Her: I know all about space - it's dark.

Me: Anything else?

Her: Yes, it's pushing down and the sky, which isn't dark, is trying to push out.

Me: So what happens then?

Her: Well, at night the sky pushes out and that's why it's dark!

Me: Really?

Her: Well, apart from the twinkly stars.

Me: Obviously!

I blame Lunar Jim and Space Pirates.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

I would like to thank

Yaay! My first award!!

Thank you to Sass E-Mum of One Strangely Lush Mother for giving me my first blogging award. It is awarded for giving her advance warning of the perils of combining work with motherhood. I don't profess to have any answers, just experiences!

Thank you to Izzy for being the reason I'm a working mum and making the experience so enjoyable. Yo babes!

Thank you to my working mum (a silver surfer!) who makes me believe it is possible.

Thank you to C who started me on this blogging lark (I know you're reading this even though you never comment!). It's been a revelation :)

Thank you to my husband for the use of his laptop (even though he has no idea this blog exists, must get round to telling him..........)

Thank you to my new blogging friends for making me LOL with their tales of motherhood!

I have to finish there as I'm filling up and about to do a Gwynedd (oh, and a little girl needs a bath!) x

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Me time!

OK enough screaming. Here's a funny story I was reminded of by the fact that I had some 'me time' today. (I went to the hairdressers for highlights - three hours of adult conversation and pampering - bliss!)

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.......

My friend, Ella, at choir is married with three delightful, if boisterous, children and works part-time as a university lecturer. A few months back she realised that her husband was arriving home from work, making a coffee and then hiding in the study for half an hour each day while she fed the children. When she asked what was going he said he needed a little 'me-time' after work.

(You know what's coming don't you?)

She exploded and yelled,

"You are a father. The only 'me-time' you get is driving to and from work. If you want more me-time, DRIVE SLOWER!!"

Continuing the dilemma

Thank you for your encouraging comments regarding daughter's schooling, but I think I need to clarify my dilemma a little more.

I'm not choosing a private school over a state school (I would love her to go to our local schools), I'm choosing what's easiest for us as a family hopefully without jeapordising daughter's education.

I'm worrying that I'm taking her away from the friends she has already made at nursery who will be continuing in the local school. (Also, if I change my mind later I won't be able to get her back in local school as it is oversubscribed, so it's now or never.)

I'm also signing myself up to staying in the same job for the next 14 years to keep her at my school.

I'm signing myself up to weekends spent driving for hours to Portia's converted farmhouse or Amelia's mansion and spending afternoons sitting in Sainsbury's car park waiting for her playdate to end (yes, my colleagues have done this).

I'll have to answer the 'why can't I have a pony?' or 'why don't we go skiing?' -type questions.

I'm lying awake at night wondering if she'll be bullied for having her mum teaching at her school (not that any member of staff has said this has happened to their children, but as a mum you worry about everything)

I'm wondering how to buy her £200 ($400) uniform before she starts in September. Why do private schools not allow you to buy Tesco uniform?

I'm worrying if she'll fit in, or am I worrying if I'll fit in?

Will she be happy, will I be happy?

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

AAAARGH! (again)