Monday, 30 June 2008

All sung out!

It's been a busy weekend singing-wise. Managed to squeeze into my choir dress though:

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Although how I managed to sing in it, I don't know. The trouble is, I was measured for my dress 'BC' and now I need the two sizes bigger 'AC' dress!

Here's what I got up to:

Saturday, Concert - Monton Festival
Rehearsal 4. 30 pm - 6. 00 pm
Concert 7. 30 pm - 9. 30 pm

Opening performance in the Monton Festival. Concert went well, but the Chorale outnumbered the audience - hate it when that happens! Solo spot was a 'cello solo by a member of the Chorale. It was his own composition. It represented an argument between a woman and a man. He said that we had to figure out if the argument was resolved by the end of the piece.

At the end another Chorale member said to me "Did they make up, then?"

I replied, "I think the bloke stormed out"

Another member said, "Was that the piece? I thought he was warming up"

I don't think we took it seriously enough.

Sunday, Church Service
Rehearsal 9. 00 am - 10.00 am
Church Service 10.30 am - 12.00 noon

I think I was sold a dummy on this one. A member of the Chorale was ordained as a Church of England priest on Saturday. She was having a special service at her church on Sunday and asked members of the Chorale to go along and help out the church choir.

"Just three pieces" she said.

"Okay", I said, "I can give up an hour on Sunday to sing a couple of anthems for you".

A five part mass, three anthems and six hymns is not "just three pieces"!
I never knew that members of the clergy could lie!

Monday, Radio Broadcast
Rehearsal 8.00 am - 9.30 am
Live broadcast on Radio 4 9.45 am - 10.00 am

Why is it live? Don't the BBC know that singers need to be awake for at least five hours and have three cups of coffee before their voices are warmed up? Was barely awake for the rehearsal, but three cups of Tetley's (tea) later I managed the broadcast. Although as we went live on air I realised I should have gone to the loo first! If you listened (or listen again on the BBC iplayer) I was one of the sopranos doing the glorious top A flat in "O Thou, the Central Orb". Great fun!


All starts again tomorrow night with rehearsals for our next concert on 15 July.

And this is what keeps me sane!?

PS By request - To listen to the broadcast press play on the little player thingy below (thanks to my whizzy IT friend, C)

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Techno Teacher

Okay, enough ranting. Yesterday I went on a course in Manchester the aim of which was to "Create Interactive Resources for Virtual Learning Environments". In other words, playing on my laptop in a swanky hotel for the day. Or, if my employers ask, five hours of intensive ICT training on how to do links, screen captures, movies, etc. I was worried it would be over my head, but one of the things they showed us was how to write a blog using Blogger! Oh, how I chuckled inside.

Anyway, I learned a lot of new stuff which I will apply to my teaching in the manner of fabulous 21st century teacher, but in the meantime I have decided to try out my new skills by putting a YouTube video on my blog. Well, I have to start somewhere!

To cheer us all up I thought I'd share a song we sing in choir that always makes me feel great. And who can failed to be cheered by Sammy Davis Jr? I hope it works!

Off now to do a concert with the choir entitled " From Byrd to the Beatles", talk about an eclectic repertoire!

Anyway, enjoy ...........

Friday, 27 June 2008

You think that's expensive?

Pemit me a little rant here. I have been reading my blogroll this evening (I know it's Friday night, but I don't have a life at the moment, just a glass of Merlot). Anyway, I know we are all fed up with the high prices of petrol (gas), but let's look at the facts.

US $5 per gallon

UK £1.20 per litre

Now, I've been on a converter website. I've done the maths. Let's look at that again:

US $5 per gallon

UK $9 per gallon

Photostory Friday - Bouquet Babe

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

No time for a new photo this week (see my list of jobs!) so I've dug out an oldie that I love:

I took this at my brother's wedding in the Lake District in June 2006. Daughter was only just turned two. It was a glorious day and I was snapping randomly at the reception when one of the bridesmaids gave daughter her bouquet. I quickly took this picture.

It looks so natural and unposed.

Also, I love the way she is holding her daddy's hand.

Who knew she would turn out to be a child-trampling worm-kisser?

Thursday, 26 June 2008

How to listen to Working/Singing Mum

As you know I am singing live on Radio 4 on Monday at 9.45am BST.

This is me practising:

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"Amaaaaay zi i i ng Graaaaace"

It'll be better on the day.

For anyone who would like to listen I have compiled the following instructions for listening via the web:

(Of course I have, I'm a teacher!)

Firstly, go to the BBC Radio 4 website. Once there, click on the "Listen Live" button. You should get the BBC iPlayer in a new window.

Now for the important bit: under the "LISTEN LIVE" heading click on "LW" otherwise you'll be listening to the wrong programme!

(Yes, I have done that in the past - "Where's Jools Holland? It's supposed to be Jools Holland. Pass me the Radio Times. Yes, it definitely says Jools Holland. Oh, on LW not FM")

If anyone misses my 15 minutes of fame, wait one day and then the programme can be found under "LISTEN AGAIN" in the iPlayer. It'll be "Daily Service (Monday)".

I just hope I don't do anything embarrassing live on the BBC!

Wish me luck!

Monday, 23 June 2008

That's My Girl

Yesterday I accompanied daughter to one of her many parties. Whilst I sat in the corner of the Scout Hut writing reports (multitasking) I suddenly realised that the children's entertainer, Lucy, was waving around a realistic looking plastic worm.

"Who would kiss this worm for some sweeties?" she asked.

Three boys and my daughter put their hands up.

Lucy chose a boy to do the deed.

He promptly chickened out.

She then chose my daughter who practically climbed over the other kids to kiss the worm and get the sweeties.

Which she did.

Should I be worried?

Nearly a century!

It's approaching. It's lurking. I don't know when, but it's coming.

My 100th post is on its way.

Stay tuned ................

Saturday, 21 June 2008


It's getting near the end of term. Always a busy time. Feeling a little overwhelmed. Can feel a migraine coming on.

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Here's what I've got in the next two weeks:

Choir: Summer BBQ tomorrow (forecast rain), concert next Saturday, a special service to sing at next Sunday, Radio 4 broadcast next Monday.

Work: over 100 reports to write, retirement 'do' a week on Saturday, Sixth Form University Evening on Wed, course on VLE on Friday, Leaver's Reception, Speech Day, Sports Day, Music Festival, etc.

Home: joiner finally built stud wall in our bedroom so no excuse for me to not to get on with decorating, need to smooth and sand walls and paint, need to choose new fireplace for lounge (next project) and book electricians to take down lights, plasterer to beautify lounge, plumber to remove radiators, etc, etc, need to plant round new patio when it is finally done and continue fence painting.

Daughter: more social life than I have so need to accompany her to parties, my mum coming to stay to take her on nursery day out, have to arrange for her to spend afternoon at new school, going with my mum to buy her new school uniform, need to sort out present for childminder as daughter finishes there soon, have to attend her Nursery Open Evening.

Husband: currently esconsed in study on major project, needs TLC and plenty of coffee to keep him going, needs taking to work on Monday and collecting from station on Tuesday as he has meeting in London.


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But then.........

............... on 9th July........

............................... the reason I love teaching.................................

....... eight weeks holiday! Yaaay!


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Friday, 20 June 2008

Photostory Friday - An English Summer

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I've been playing with my new camera. Oh, how much I have forgotten about photography since putting away my film SLR and using a compact digital. My dad, who used to be a very keen amateur photographer, taught me on his cast-off 35mm cameras and let me help him in his dark room, starting a lifelong love of photography.

I asked him for some tips on getting to grips with my new camera and he suggested I set myself a theme and try different settings, lightings, lenses, etc. I looked in my fridge for inspiration (as I often do) and it hit me:

What typifies an English summer?

English Strawberries!

And what goes perfectly with English strawberries?

Scottish raspberries!!

They were then chopped and mixed with cream and meringue to make a lovely Eton Mess which disappeared so quickly I didn't have time to photograph it!

So there you have it, photographs and dessert!

Working mum multitasking!

Addendum (see I know Latin!) 21 June:
For anyone who doesn't know, here's how you make Eton Mess

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Working/Singing mum - live on BBC Radio 4

Yeayy! I'm going to sing on Radio 4!

I'm on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 30 June singing with the Manchester Chorale in the live broadcast of the Daily Service (must admit 'broadcasting live to the nation' thing is a bit scary).

For those that don't know, it is a 15 minute religious service with 2 hymns and an anthem and is a very precious piece of British broadcasting bringing comfort to many who are unable to attend church themselves, or who want a little peace and reflection at the start of their day.

Also, it's BBC RADIO!!!!! YEAYY!!

I wasn't able to do this last time the Chorale did it as I was working, but this time the classes I would teach are on study leave so my headmaster said that I could do it.

If anyone is interested in hearing me sing (like you could pick out my voice from the other twenty or so!) I'm on Radio 4 LW (don't make the mistake of listening on FM, you'll get a totally different progamme) on Monday 30th at 9.45am (BST).

For the technologically minded you can use this link Radio 4 to listen via the web.

BBC RADIO!!!!!!!

Better get practising:

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Monday, 16 June 2008

Conversations with a four year old - the one about the sabre tooth tiger

While watching CBeebies today (is there another channel?) daughter was intrigued by a programme with a sabre tooth tiger.

She said, "Mummy, will you take me to see a sabre tooth tiger?"

Me: Well, I can't can I, because like they said, there are none left?

Her: None at all?

Me: No, we'd have to go to a museum


Her: Did they stink?

Me: I don't know if they smelled.

Her: No, not smell, stink!

Me: What do you mean?

Her: Before I was born, did they stink?

(Light dawns)

Me: Yes, they were extinct!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Working Mum's Gingerbread Recipe

One of our "mummy and daughter" favourite activities is baking. There's something magical about seeing gloopy mixture turn into cakes and biscuits. We especially love gingerbread. It's so easy to make and then you have the added fun of decorating! (See my earlier post Nursery Coffee Afternoon)

* * * * * * *

Here's my secret gingerbread recipe:

Soften 3 oz of butter in the microwave then mix with 2 oz caster sugar.

Mix in 2 tablespoons golden syrup and two egg yolks.

Then add 8 oz plain flour, one tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 3 tsp ground ginger (we like it gingery!)

Knead until smooth. Roll to about 1cm thick and cut out your favourite shapes:

Bake at 180 oC for about 12 minutes, leave to cool, then decorate with anything that takes your fancy!

* * * * * * *

We make Xmas trees and stars at Christmas, hearts on Valentine's Day, eggs for Easter and gingerbread men all year round. We dip his feet in melted chocolate in Autumn to give him muddy wellies!!

Daughter is getting quite ambitious now with her decorating. Yesterday she decided to make herself, mummy, daddy and her favourite teddy, Tigger.

Can you tell which is which?

Not sure about my "love handles"!!!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Photostory Friday - Working Mum's Adventures BC

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I've joined Cecily and MamaGeek's Photostory Friday. I'm hoping to have new photos to post when I get to grips with my new camera, but until then I'll post a few of my old favourites taken on film and scanned in. Like this one:

In 1996, before arrival of daughter, we took a safari holiday in Kenya.

I took this photo of the migration of the wildebeast in the Masai Mara on a late afternoon safari.

I love the composition: the buzzard in the acacia tree, the line of wildebeast, the mountains in the distance and the colours of the savannah.

It evokes strong memories of an unforgettable adventure.

One day I will take daughter................................

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Conversations with a four year old - the one about counting sheep

Daughter complained tonight that she couldn't get to sleep. A combination of light evenings and falling asleep on the sofa while I prepared dinner didn't help.

I suggested she counted sheep like Duck did in the book. I found the book, read her the story and left her to count sheep.

Ten minutes later she shouted "Mummeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

When I returned to her room she looked at me, and in a serious little voice said,

"I can only count to 39"

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

All presents and correct!

This Sunday is Father's Day. It is also my mum's birthday.

Present from me to dad, present from Izzy to husband, present from Izzy to Grandma, present from me to mum. This requires careful preparation and organisation for a working mum!

It all started back in March when daughter and I had our photos taken by Funky Foto. I ordered an extra copy to give to husband for Father's Day so all I had to do was find a suitable frame. Frame found last week. Add a "Fab Dad" mug from Tesco (TGFT) and that's him sorted!

Then, a chance conversation with my mum in April revealed that she wanted a new purse. Off to John Lewis for a lovely Radley one with the little scottie dog!

In May I ordered some prints from Photobox and added an order for fridge magnets with photos of daughter on. Perfect for my mum from Izzy. Then one afternoon in half term we spent a couple of hours making my mum's birthday card from Izzy. A riot of ribbon, stickers and jewels. Sorted!

Lastly, my dad. My dad who has everything. My dad who always says "Just get me a Toblerone".

Well, last week in Tesco (TGFT) there were the new Fruit and Nut Toblerones with a sleeve saying "For my Dad". Perfect!

All wrapped, written and delivered on time!

Working mum triumphs in the present department!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Who searches for Working Mum?

Mean Moody Middle-Aged Mum recently posted "The Cautious Blogger" about the searches that had led people to her blog. Although it was very funny, it was a bit scary to see what some people are looking for on the internet and that they can end up at your door.

We are very careful at school to teach pupils about keeping themselves safe on the internet and I have kept to those principles when writing my blog. However, there are 'bad' people out there who may stumble across my blog so I have statcounter to track what happens but I've never plucked up the courage to look at the searches people have used. Is ignorance bliss?

A few wise words from MMMM and I felt brave enough to look at how people arrive at my blog.

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Here's what I found. Recent google searches that led people to my blog were:

"Charlie and Lola party invites"
"Knowsley Safari Park"
"Carrie and David's Pop Shop Birthday Cake"

so, looks like I attract other CBeebies fans.

That's alright then!

Just to make sure it stays that way:

Tweenies, Charlie and Lola, Fireman Sam, Lunar Jim,Bobinogs, Nina and the Neurons, Numberjacks, Pinky Dinky Doo, Tommy Zoom, 64 Zoo Lane!!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Spending the windfall

Well, bearing in mind Maggie May's advice to spend half and save half, I went to the lovely camera shop with my old camera and lenses. They explained all about the new digital SLRs and I tried my old Canon lenses on the new Canon EOS 400D. They worked perfectly saving me a few hundred pounds. The lovely camera shop threw in a new camera case, a table top tripod, a 4Gb memory card, a sky filter and a 3 year warranty.

How could I say no?

So I am now the proud owner of a Canon EOS 400D digital SLR.

Here's a picture daughter took of me getting to grips with my new camera:

And here's a picture I took of her with new camera:

Oh what fun I am going to have!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

She's back!

We went out for a meal last night, we had a lie in this morning
but now ................................. daughter is back!

Grandma and Grandad have returned her after entertaining her for three days.

They are going home now to sleep for a week!

Friday, 6 June 2008

From mum to glum!

Our fabulous childminder wanted a day off today. My parents wanted to have their darling (only) granddaughter to stay. So ................... two birds with one stone!

Although husband has been away from home many times with work and 'boys weekends' (don't get me started on the whole 'week in Iceland' saga), I, however, could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have not slept in the same house as daughter.

We did go away for one night for our anniversary two years ago, it was supposed to be a big treat, but I missed reading her bedtime story and I still woke up at 6.30am the next day expecting her to climb in with us. I know this will change, but until then I want to tell as many bedtime stories as I can and have as many morning snuggles as I can.

Daughter however, doesn't feel the same way. She was so excited at the thought of staying at Grandma and Grandad's that she packed her book box, her 'Thomas' rucksack and her 'Glitter Babe' case on Monday. She packed essentials such as a toy camera, two pairs of sunglasses, twelve books, a torch and a crocodile shaped trumpet! I thought she was leaving home. She has counted down the number of sleeps like it was Christmas coming!

So yesterday I took her to my parents. Within minutes she had taken over the house and was riding on Grandad's back. She barely acknowledged my leaving. How could I compete with Grandad's 'crinkly pockets'? (Crinkly pockets are a packet of sweets in my dad's shirt pocket which Izzy thinks is magic!). I drove home in my empty, quiet car to my empty, quiet house.

This morning was sooooooo boring. No morning snuggles, no "let's feed the fish!", no "I want the same as mummy for breakfast". No "tickling teeth" or "last snuggle of Tigger" before we leave the house.

I came home from work on my own to my empty, quiet house again. No CBeebies, no "I don't want that!" then "this is scrummy mummy" as we eat dinner together and talk about our day, no bathtime bubble beards and no bedtime story!

How did I fill my life BC?

How many sleeps 'till she comes back?

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

What to do with a windfall?

Don't you just love a windfall?

This summer we finish paying the childminder in July and we start paying school fees in September so we have one month without paying half my salary to someone! So, not strictly a windfall, but still some money we wouldn't normally have.

What to do? What to do?

a) Be sensible and save it toward a new car?

b) Put it away for a rainy day?

c) Treat ourselves?

After four years of paying for childcare and spending every spare penny we have on doing up the house we have decided to go for option c) and treat ourselves!

Inspired by mamageek's fantastic photos I decided I wanted a new camera. My film SLR is out of date now. My little Nikon digital compact is great but I feel restricted. My inner photographer needs to come out!

What I really want is this:

but what we can afford is this:

Can you tell the difference?

No, neither can I, but I'm off to the camera shop this weekend to find out and see if they can do me a deal.

And, if I buy it with my Tesco credit card (TGFT), I get more Tesco 'days out' vouchers giving us free days out at museums and parks this summer where I can take lots of photos with my new camera!

I'm so good at this 'spending money to save money' lark!

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Look out for some amazing photos soon!