Saturday, 31 May 2008

Project postscript

When I announced my list of jobs for half term, the frog in the field said (and I quote)
"Crikey, is that all you'll be doing? It all sounds terribly slack and laid back to me, you should shape up a bit!"

She was quite right of course, I hadn't got enough on my list, so I offered up another project: make curtains for daughter's playhouse.

You'll notice it wasn't mentioned on yesterday's post because it hadn't been done. It was touch and go, but today daughter and I went to the fabric shop, bought gorgeous fabric called 'cupcake' depicting cakes, sundaes, teacups and balloons and this afternoon I got the sewing machine out and whipped up three pairs.

Now, daughter and I present....................

......................playhouse curtains!

Friday, 30 May 2008

How did the half term projects go?

It seemed a tall order, but I had a list of jobs to do this week and I set out to do them! So how did I get on?

Well, car got serviced, went to the dentist (don't ask how much it cost!), had my hair done, went to doctor's (twice!).

Freezer defrosted and stocked ready for another hectic half term. Fridge, microwave and oven cleaned!

Plants planted (including MIL's tubs). Garden fence nearly painted (I painted 14, six foot fence panels in three days - never want to see another fence panel again; unfortunately still have another 7 to do)

Emptied our bedroom of furniture (every time husband came home something else had disappeared - he spent a very funny few minutes one morning trying to work out where the chest of drawers containing his underwear had gone!). Keith, the plumber, came and removed the radiator. (He has done so much work on our house now that I when I ring him up I don't give him the address, just my name!). Removed old carpet and took it to the tip (daughter very helpful - I cut carpet into pieces, she carried them onto landing!). Carpet man didn't ring back, suspect he's on holiday, so will chase him up next week.

Cotbed still sitting in hall waiting for Wood St Mission to collect (sad every time I give them something - not because it's the end of another phase for daughter, but the fact that we still need a mission providing for the needy of Manchester in 2008). Daughter refused to get rid of any old toys so we just had a mega tidy of her room.

Tests and UCAS references done whilst daughter in bed in evenings (in between a bit of blogging).

Stone samples for patio not arrived yet, so not my fault if I haven't chosen.

Still had time for lunch with a friend and her children and lots of playing with daughter (some of it was cleaning and gardening cunningly disguised as play). We've been on bike rides, played with lego, held a concert in the lounge with the disco diva microphone, made grandma's birthday card, made a cake, played with Bob the Builder toys and loads more. We even had a trip to Waterstones to look at the books and have a drink in the cafe - big treat! Especially enjoyed one rainy afternoon snuggled under a blanket with her reading 'Old Bear' stories. Aww!

Also squeezed in an evening watching DVDs with husband (so he didn't feel neglected) and tonight we make a start on the delivery of wine that arrived this week from Tesco (TGFT).

So the bedroom walls didn't get filled and sanded. So what? Still a successful week I think!

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(Oh, and I didn't get round to tidying the lounge, but who cares?)


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Teacup Tag

The Mother of this Lot has tagged me to show my teacups!

Now, I lost my favourite mug at work (click here for the sorry story), so I'm a little distraught on this subject. I'm a real teabelly and have to have several cups a day so my mug is very important to me.

I'm also a MIF, I'm afraid (milk in first). Apparently, if you are a TIF (tea in first) it's because you are used to china cups which can take the heat, but a MIF has to put milk in her pottery mug first to avoid breakage. (Another relic of the English class system!)

Anyhow here's my favourite mug at home, together with husband's:

Can you tell whose is whose?

Now I'd like to see the teacups of Reluctant Housewife, Sass e-mum and Mamageek please!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Is it me?

Just had to post what happened to me today.

I had an appointment for 11.10am at the doctor's and a friend coming for lunch at 11.30am. Doable.

Walked into the surgery at 10.50am where I was given number '12'. Looking at the wall they were on number '7'. By 11.10am (my appointment) they were still on number '7'.

Waiting room completely full including two screaming kids throwing plastic warriors at each other while mum said things like "Don't Kyle" and "Sit down Michaela" to no effect.

I went to reception to say that I couldn't stay and wait whereupon the receptionist said, "Well you were early!" !

I pointed out that it was now my appointment time and there were still 4 more people to be seen before me so, whether or not I was early, I still wouldn't be seen for at least an other half hour and that would be way past my official appointment.

She conceded and made another appointment for me on Friday at 9.00am

I asked if that was the first appointment of the day. It was. I gave her my parting shot:

"So there's a chance I might be seen on time?"

Then I left.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Half Term Projects

It's half term! Wey hey!

So what's the plan?

Get car serviced, go to dentist, get hair done, paint garden fence, plant perennials, plant up MIL's tubs, empty bedroom of furniture, get plumber to remove radiator, get carpet man to measure up, fill and sand bedroom walls, remove old carpet and take to tip, write six standardised tests for year 7, write UCAS references for sixth formers, look at stone samples for patio, defrost freezer, go to Iceland to restock freezer, clean fridge, scrub inside of microwave, take old cot bed to Wood St Mission, have a clear out of daughter's toys.

Have I forgotten anything?

Seem a bit much?

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No problem for Working Mum!

(Looking a bit smug there in that avatar, but anything that doesn't get done gets pushed into next school holiday so no pressure!)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Living in Suburbia

Now I know for sure that I live in the midst of the middle classes.

Yesterday I got a letter from daughter's nursery saying that she needed a glass jar for a project................................... "pesto jar size".


What happened to jam jars?

Friday, 23 May 2008

In Awesome Wonder

Of all the amazing experiences of being a mother, one that has given me untold delight has been seeing the world through the eyes of a child again. I may have travelled the world, seen the migration across the Masai Mara, paddled a canoe up the Amazon and walked in the paddy fields of Bali, but nothing I have seen or experienced BC compares to sharing in her discovery of the world.

I have found again that sense of wonder in small things; horseshoe prints in mud, rainbows, flocks of birds migrating across the autumn sky, cherry blossom, fish in a pond, the moon, bubbles!

Do you remember feeling like this?:

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Why I Love Teaching - Part 1

You know those adverts the government put on the telly about how fantastic teenagers are in the classroom (well behaved and interested)? The point being that you'll want to train to be a teacher? Well, here's a little secret teachers don't often let on....................... sometimes it's true.

I have the most interesting and varied job teaching teenagers and if it weren't for the government messing up things with tests and exams........

Anyway, to illustrate the fun parts of my job I think I'll post things that make me laugh from time to time. Here's number one:

* * * * * * *

Conversation at the start of my year 10 lessson this week:

Helen (entering room looking very agitated): Oh My God! My chickens are dead!

Me (trying to maintain order): What's that Helen?

Helen: My brother just texted me. The fox has got in and killed all my chickens. I'll have to have a funeral tonight.

Ed (completely deadpan): I'd have a barbecue.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Working Mum's guide to being frugal

With the credit crunch taking hold, petrol at £1.10 ($2.20) a litre, and food prices soaring (£1.35 for a loaf!!) I have had to be a bit frugal.

Following my box of shame incident I found my wine rack sadly depleted so I endeavoured to replenish it. However, wine is now at least £5 a bottle.

I had a brainwave.

I ordered on-line from Tesco Wine Warehouse (TGFT).

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By ordering their special offers and ordering enough to qualify for free delivery I have saved myself about £75.


Unfortunately, husband then asked how much I had actually spent.


Saturday, 17 May 2008

Small Victories

On my mission to 'have it all' I take heart in the small victories along the way. I managed three this week:


A few weeks ago Mean Mom wrote a post about 'mumnesia'. A journalist picked up on a comment I had left and asked me to do an interview for Practical Parenting Magazine. Since we have clauses in our contracts about talking to the media, I had to obtain my Headmaster's permission to do the interview. I went into his rather imposing study and explained that I had been asked to do an interview. He was intrigued and asked what the interview was about. I gave him the rough idea about your brain turning to mush after you've had a baby. He looked puzzled, then said,

"Oh, so you are an example that it doesn't always happen?"

(I must do a good job of covering up at work)

* * * * * * *


It was tea time. For a treat I proffered a slice of lemon ginger cake as dessert.

Daughter: Is that pudding?

Me: Yes

Daughter (with pained expression on face): Aren't we having anything healthy with it?

Me: What would you like?

Daughter (looking exasperated): Banana, kiwi fruit, grape,.............

* * * * * * *

I think this one is the best:


Football obsessed husband turned down two tickets to the Zenit/Rangers match this week in Manchester because we were attending daughter's New Parents' Evening!!

Definitely making progress there!

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Dark Side

This week husband and I attended the 'New Parents' Evening' for daughter, who starts school in September.

In amongst all the anxiety about will she make friends, will she keep up with the work, will she know where the dining room is, what if she can't put her swimming costume on, etc (I have a lot of anxiety about this), a new thought struck me .......

..........I am about to move over to ...........the 'other side'!

After 15 years of being a teacher,

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I am about to become.....

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......... a 'parent'!!

Dah, dah, daaaaaaah!

(scary film music)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Assistant with attitude

On Saturday I took daughter to buy some sandals. I had sent her out every day last week in unseasonably warm weather in her trainers; something had to be done.

Knowing what a nightmare shoe buying is at the best of times, never mind during an unexpected week of sun, we hit the shops first thing and were queueing outside Clarks' before they opened.

Yes, queueing!

After taking our ticket and being sixth in line, we were eventually seen by a very helpful (not) assistant. We decided on two pairs of sandals (like you have much of a choice in Clarks) and went to pay a week's wages for them at the till.

This is when it happened.

Trying to be pleasant and sympathetic I said, "I can't believe how busy you are when you've just opened". To which the assistant replied, "Yes, you'd think parents would take their kids to the park on a Saturday"!!

I was so stunned I just picked up my bag and walked out.
It was only later my working mum anger kicked in and I thought,


Monday, 12 May 2008

My Box of Shame

On Saturday we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and had a barbecue:

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(I know my garden doesn't look like that; I live in hope)

Our kerbside recycling box now contains five empty wine bottles - (three days after it was emptied). Can't think how it happened!

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I have a theory about these "boxes of shame":

Most of the boxes on our road contain tons of newspapers and a few food jars. However, there are three boxes on our road that contain only the local freebie papers and lots of wine bottles. (Yes, I have looked)

Here's my theory:

  • most of the boxes belong to pensioners who have time to read newspapers and not enough pension money to buy alcohol (we live in the suburb of Manchester that I term 'Pensioner City', where most people here bought their houses new in 1956 - I'm not kidding!)

  • the other three boxes belong to working mums!

Why did he bother?

Ha ha ha ha ha!
Not such a lucky mascot then?!
(hang on, why am I laughing? it cost us £75!)

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Soooo Football Obsessed!

Today husband has gone completely football crazy. He has gone to another away game.

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What's the problem? Well, it's where he's gone.

Where? Wait for it ......................

City vs ..................... MIDDLESBOROUGH!!!

He has paid £25 for his ticket and will spend about £50 on petrol travelling a six hour round journey!! To a football match!


.....because his neice is one of the mascots for City at the match. (His family are brainwashed into being City supporters from an early age; daughter is on the programme)

I could understand him going to Liverpool or Leeds or even Birmingham to see her, but MIDDLESBOROUGH!! RIDICULOUS!!

I just don't get this football thing, do I?!

Saturday, 10 May 2008


Yesterday we received the list of uniform that Izzy has to have for school in September.

Here is the scary list:
  1. Polo shirt with school logo
  2. Pinafore dress, school pattern
  3. Cardigan, school colours
  4. Knee high socks
  5. Tights
  6. Shoes
  7. PE polo shirt with school logo
  8. Shorts
  9. Pumps
  10. Sports socks
  11. Pump bag (?!*!)
  12. Jogging suit with school logo
  13. Swimming costume in school colours
  14. Towel
  15. Swimming cap with school logo
  16. PE bag
  17. Swimming bag
  18. Puddle suit (?!*!)
  19. Waterproof fleece with school logo
  20. Wellingtons
  21. Art apron, royal (?!*?)
  22. Summer dress, summer term only
  23. White ankle socks, summer term only
  24. Hair accessories in school colours only
This is my first experience of buying school uniform. I don't even understand some of it; what the heck is a 'puddle suit'?

Of course virtually everything has to be bought from the official school outfitters, "Mssrs Got You Over A Barrel & Co". Pinafores start from £25, (blazers are £45! - that's next year). Thank goodness I only have one child to kit out!

Luckily, working at the school as I do, I have colleagues who already have daughters at the school. I have very cleverly ambushed each one in the corridors and asked for any decent second hand uniform to be discretely passed my way. (They do seem to walk the other way now when they see me coming, what's that about?) Anyway, I have been promised several pinafores, swimming costumes and PE kits, but no-one seems to know what a puddle suit is!

Also everything has to be clearly marked with her name because, brilliantly, everyone's school uniform is the same! Better start sewing name tapes now..............

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Cliques, Geeks and Freaks

It occurred to me whilst standing in the playground waiting to collect daughter, that the well-defined tribes we belonged to in school still exist in the groups of mummies standing waiting in the playground.

Cliques - these were the 'it' girls, interested only in fashion, make-up and hair. They have grown into the 'yummy mummies', obsessed with designer labels and going to the gym. They collect their children in their 4x4's which are more about 'showing off' than navigating the rough terrain of the school car park.

Geeks - the 'goody two shoes' who always handed in their homework on time and were always dressed in impeccable school uniform. They have grown into the 'working mums' juggling careers and families with the efficiency they developed whilst acquiring ten O levels and four A levels. They collect their children (when they can) in their sensible, economical small cars.

Freaks (sorry, but it rhymed) - the social misfits who suffered with bad hair and ill-fitting uniform. They have grown into the 'earth mothers'. Unconcerned with their appearance, they have developed more confidence and a greater purpose in life. They collect their children by bicycle or on foot.

So there you have working mum's guide to playground anthropology.

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Can you guess which one is me?

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Corruption of Youth!

Evidence that I'm not the only one going doolally in this house:

Today husband recorded daughter on his mobile singing "Sven Goran Erikson" (City's manager) to the tune of "La Donne e Mobile".

It is now the ringtone on his mobile!

Poor girl doesn't stand a chance, does she?

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Gorgeous garden?

Well I survived the rest of the week. Went back to work on Thursday and suffered through a Parents' Evening with tonsillitis. Luckily, I had an in-service training day on Friday so I could rest my poor throat. We had child protection training, ICT training (playing about with Powerpoint) and then 'department development planning' (or 'designing our soon-to-be refurbished office'). I think my colleagues thought I was taking it a bit far when I was talking about framed pictures for the walls to make our working environment more pleasant and I hadn't even got onto plants and a coffee machine!

Yesterday we had a nice, lazy family day at home. Shopping, baking, walking to the park, sitting in the 'garden' and an assault on the garden centre for plants. Being ill since Christmas and having bad weather this spring means that I have done nothing in the garden department.

Today, husband is at the football, again. City v Liverpool at Anfield. He's going to away games now! It's getting out of control!

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Thought I would use this afternoon to get on with the garden, but the weather is against me, so, instead, I'll blog about the garden.

As you know, we are 'doing up the house' which also includes the gardens.

At the front husband and I cleared all the overgrown shrubs and weeds last year leaving just one item - The Cherry Tree. It was the only thing worth keeping and is now in full blossom:


Husband laid a few more flags by the front door so people don't fall into the lawn when we open the front door and I've planted some low maintenance evergreen stuff to keep it looking reasonable.

The back garden was more of a problem. Thirty years of neglect meant that there was very little worth keeping (we've saved a camellia, a lilac, a laburnum and a plum tree) so we had to get a firm in to clear it. It was a whole day of burly men with chainsaws cutting down stuff and dragging it to the front to feed it into a giant chipping machine, followed by 'Stumpbusters' with their 'Predator' machine to grind out the stumps (boys and their toys!):

Then we had to get new fencing put in (we are still waiting for the cheques from the neighbours).

Now we are faced with the task of creating a garden from scratch. Husband decided the most important part was daughter's play area, so last summer he laid the flags and bark, bought her a swing and a playhouse and she is all set:

We're hoping that the corner next to her play area will have a beautiful stone patio laid in a couple of weeks and then I can do my japanese garden theme around it.

The rest is going to be a normal English garden so I've been trying to fill the borders with shrubs and hardy perennials so that they can be getting established whilst the chaos goes on around them. I am particularly proud of my bleeding heart. I bought it as a 'stick in a bag' which is how I buy most plants as it is cheaper, but you never know if they are going to take. This was a photo I took yesterday:

If the rain stops I am going to throw some annual seeds in the borders to create a bit of colour this summer (cornflowers, mallow, poppies, etc) and hope for some decent weather this summer!

Eventually we need a new lawn and some block paving around the back of the house, but Rome wasn't built in a day!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Prophecy coming true?

What did I say? Am I a prophet or what?

Woke up this morning to the radio alarm and what was playing:

"Both now facing for the first time presently and past
Something that begins with m and ends with alas"