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!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Shopping Bliss!

Well, despite my waking up with a sore throat, no voice and lots of sneezing (WMS strikes again) my mum and I set off for the Trafford Centre on my 'day off' thanks to 'mum vouchers'.

We perused Barton Square (the new 'home' section) and I bought some beautiful cushions for my new sofas. I also found Portmeirion 'Holly and Ivy' collection which I use at Christmas so bought some more dishes.

We hot-footed it to John Lewis where I found some lamps for the new lounge and mum helped me choose lampshades. I know I'm hitting middle-age now, because I had no qualms about unscrewing the shades from the display lamps to try on the ones I wanted. I would never have done that a few years ago!

We had a lovely lunch in Cafe Rouge (chicken caesar salad and tarte au citron) courtesy of Tesco Deals Vouchers (TGFT). Then a cup of tea and we were revived enough to hit the clothes shops.

I bought a Per Una cardigan and necklace from M&S which I can wear to daughter's school things and not look like a refugee from Matalan. I also bought a new winter coat from Next. I find it very difficult to find winter coats I like so my last one was bought four years ago and is on its last legs. The Textile Technology (sewing, to you and me) teacher at school suggested I get my darning needle out to mend it!

I also bought a few odds and ends like curtain hooks to hang the curtains in the lounge, a new shaving mirror for the bathroom and a little cashmere V-neck for work.

And that's all the shopping I could manage in one day. It will be a few months before I'll have the opportunity again, so I made the most of it.

My mum didn't buy anything, but she said she had a lovely day. It was great spending a day with my mum. I haven't spent a day alone with her since daughter was born! She was also a great help in choosing stuff; she has such great taste.

We returned home to find that the new sofas had been delivered (they really fill the room!) and husband had taken daughter to the park and she had tried cycling without stabilisers.

Husband said to my mum: "Thanks for taking WM to do all the house shopping that I hate!" - so everyone was happy!

My mum left with a bag of frozen blackberries and I started to create my beautiful new lounge (photos at a later date)!

Now it's back to reality - husband is away for the day at some football trials in Blackburn, I've got a streaming cold, daughter needs entertaining; I'm planning cupcakes and last night's "Strictly" then it's washing, ironing, cleaning, cooking, etc.

Ho hum!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Mum Vouchers - every mum should have some!

Well, it's been a busy week in the Working Mum house.

I'm drowning under a sea of marking from school (due to our homework timetable which was devised independently of the lesson timetable - therein lies a tale). There was the choir rehearsal stress on Tuesday. Husband was away for two days at a football tournament, back for one night (enough to fill the wash basket and untidy the house, how does he do that?) then away for two days with work.

Daughter has been assessed and placed on the 'fast track' reading programme at school (this is our punishment for learning our Jolly Phonics last year). So now I have to spend more time with her learning 'blends' and 'key words'. (I thought we could coast the Jolly Phonics stage this term, but no, individualised learning put paid to that!)

Oh, and of course, I've had to fit in "Strictly - It Takes Two" each night at 6.30pm.

However, husband was not working today (unusually) so I used one of my "mum vouchers". A while ago, when I had forgotten who I used to be, husband printed a sheet of vouchers for me to use to have some "me time". You have to present voucher to husband at least a week in advance, but he will take over the reins for a prescribed amount of time. I recommend them!

Husband has to entertain daughter all day, wait in for new sofas to be delivered, take her to the library to change her books and do the Tesco shop.

I get to go shopping - with my mum. The new Home section of The Trafford Centre awaits. I'm hoping to get lots of lovely things for my new lounge. Lunch out courtesy of Tesco vouchers (TGFT). Then an afternoon of trying on clothes without chasing after daughter through changing rooms in my underwear. Time to peruse the latest collections without daughter shouting "This is BORING". Maybe even some new make-up?!

Time for me, me, me!


Friday, 26 September 2008

Phototstory Friday - Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness!

Quote from "To Autumn"
by John Keats

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Well, we've had both round here. We live opposite a lovely open, green area with a brook running through it and a few mornings this week there has been low lying mist. Very atmospheric.

Obviously haven't got a photo of that because I'm trying to get myself and daughter out of the house and off to school at some ungodly hour (7.20 am), so camera weilding is last on my list of priorities.

However, along the edge of this green grow some blackberry bushes and, never being one to turn down food for free, I can be found picking the blackberries at the weekend and freezing them to make lovely crumbles and pies and, if I'm feeling posh, Nigella's Anglo Italian Trifle (but I replace the Lemsip, sorry, Limoncello, with port - a much more lush flavour, I think).

So for Photostory Friday I have used my (now not-so-new) camera to photograph the result of my latest forage in the bushes:

Don't they just ooze fruitfulness?

(and a little grub, just there, on the left; don't worry, he got washed away before I made the crumble!)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Silly working mum!

Silly working mum for thinking she could have a hobby. Do something for herself. Do something she enjoys. Silly, silly, working mum.

Last night was choir rehearsals.

I only ask for one night a week.

Not too much to ask.

Every week husband arrives home from work (usually, but not always) just in time for me to go to rehearsal, but last night husband was away in London (football tournament) so I asked MIL to babysit so that I could still go to choir.

I rushed home, fed daughter, got daughter ready for bed, did the dishes and tidied up (MIL doesn't understand plight of working mum and doesn't understand week-long clutter), got daughter's room ready (MIL can't draw the curtains in there), set up the TV for 'Emmerdale' (MIL can't work remote controls) and got my music ready.

MIL arrived. I made her a coffee.

Then she dropped the bombshell:

"Can you be home for 9.00pm? I have a friend coming to stay."

"Yes, of course" I said.

Notice how calm I stayed?

I'm usually home at 10.00pm (as she knows) but I didn't want to appear ungrateful for her babysitting. However, if she'd mentioned this earlier, I could've asked someone else to babysit!


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I then made a hasty phone call to the choir member I car-share with to say that I would have to go under my own steam. Thus I incurred extra petrol costs at £1.07 per litre ($7.45 per gallon).

I drove for half an hour to rehearsal, incurred the wrath of the Musical Director by telling her I would have to leave at the break, sang for one hour ('Lasciate mi morire'- particulary apt) then drove for half an hour home again.

Why do I bother?

The Manchester Chorale

............keeping working mum sane?!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Izzy the Physi

So, remember that sore shoulder I had? It turns out it's my neck.

Thanks to BUPA I got an appointment with a physio the day after seeing my GP. Unfortunately, I had to take daughter with me as I couldn't get an appointment later in the evening and husband wasn't home in time to do babysitting duty. Luckily, she thought it was great fun and joined in with the exercises, much to the amusement of the physio.

Physio lady pummelled and pushed my vertebrae until I was in so much pain I was nearly in tears, but having daughter with me, I put a brave face on it. Turns out that my neck is so stiff that pains are shooting down my neck and across my shoulder. Probably the result of painting 60 litres of paint over the summer holidays!

After lots of 'manipulation' and evaluation she gave me some exercises to do and an appointment for next week to see how I'm doing. Unfortunately, by the time I got daughter home, bathed and in bed I'd forgotten what the exercises were.

Luckily, I asked daughter next day what the nice physio lady had asked me to do and she demonstrated the three exercises beautifully!

She also added, "And remember, mummy, no twisting!"

Yes, thank you darling!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Birthdays and Baking

My birthday was fine. I got presents and cards in the morning. Most of them were opened by daughter. Especially the one from her that she informed me was "for us to share".

It was a box of chocolates!

Husband bought me a lovely new watch (which I chose on Sunday so I knew I would like it) and daughter bought me this cookbook.......

......... so we can bake gorgeous cupcakes together.

Talking of cake, the lemon drizzle cake went down very well with my department. I am now the new official "lemon drizzle cake baker". Gigi has asked for the recipe and being so busy at the moment I've cheated and found it already written out at Flibbertygibbet's place (and I agree entirely with her about the Limoncello tasting like Lemsip) so click here to find out how to bake it.

I dashed back to school in the evening and eventually got home at 9.30pm to flop into bed with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. I failed miserably as a mother by not doing daughter's reading with her so I wrote in her reading record "mum's birthday". I think that says it all ...................

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

So tomorrow is my birthday. Rubbish day for a birthday, Thursday. Especially as I am teaching all day, have a form tutors' meeting at lunchtime and have to go back to school in the evening for an 'Information Evening'. That's ten hours of school and two hours of birthday! I'm thinking of having a second one on Saturday, like the Queen!

Anyway, it is traditional in our department that the birthday boy or girl brings cake for the rest of the department. Usually I dash into Tesco (TGFT) on the way to work and pick up two of their Finest sponge cakes. (Husband dashes into Tesco on his way home from work to buy me a birthday cake). However, this year I decided to make a lemon drizzle cake since our regular lemon drizzle cake supply has been lost due to the retirement of our old Head of Department (his wife baked the cakes).

I mentioned to husband and daughter at the weekend that I was going to bake a lemon drizzle cake for work.

"What, no lemon drizzle cake for us?" was the cry.

"Bake an extra one so we can have some"

So tonight I made two lemon drizzle cakes.
Hang on, you know what this means ...............

........they've tricked me into making my own birthday cake!!!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

First come first served

I've received this lovely award from A Confused Take That Fan and Nunhead Mum of One and Fat, Frumpy and Fifty!:

As usual there are bloggy rules to follow

1. Link to the giver.
2. Nominate up to seven other fab blogs and link to them.
3. Leave messages announcing their rise to greatness.

Well, I've been so busy since returning to school that I'm going to be a bit of a rebel here and not follow rules 2 and 3.

I've taken advantage of Blogger's new 'Following' feature and declared myself as a follower to a few of you (OK, 80 of you, I may have to pop in less frequently than I did in the summer in future). Anyway, I've redesigned my sidebar so that you are all featured there and the first seven of you to comment that you've grabbed the award can have it.

I love all your blogs for so many different reasons.

Thanks for blogging!

Friday, 12 September 2008

I didn't want the parcel anyway!

Yesterday a delivery company tried to deliver a parcel to me at home, but I was at work. The usual card was pushed through asking me to ring, which I did. Here's what happened:

"Could you please redirect it to my place of work?"

The usual option, works well

"No, we don't redirect"

"Could you deliver it on Saturday?"

"No, we don't deliver Saturdays"

"Could you leave it with a neighbour?"

"You have to nominate a neighbour and they have to wait in from 8am to 4pm"

"Unreasonable. Could you hold on to it until I have a day off work?" (October half term)

"No, we only keep them a week. You can come and collect it, we are in Trafford Park and open until 6pm"

"Well, I have a young daughter to collect after work and get to bed. Could someone else collect it for me?"

"Only if they bring a recent utility bill with their name and your address on it, showing that they live with you"

This was getting ridiculous

"What do people who work full time normally do to get their parcels?"

"They normally take a day off work and come and collect it"

Well, even if I could take a day off, which I can't, who wants to waste a day's holiday to collect a parcel?

"What happens if I don't collect it?"

"It's sent back and you have to contact the company who sent it"

I don't even know what it is!!

So I decided to brave deepest darkest Trafford Park (huge industrial estate) with four year old in tow after work. After locating the company and eventually finding the office I presented my card.

"ID please"

I presented a credit card.

"Has to be driving licence or passport"

I had neither. I decided to play the sympathy card, stroked my daughter's head and pleaded,"I wasn't told that when I phoned. Don't make me come back here please"

"Thank you for showing me your driving licence, madam, sign here please" he said in a loud voice for his boss to hear.

Thank the Lord!

I took the parcel home and opened it. It was the armcaps for my new sofas.

Why can't they be delivered with the sofas?

Is it me?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A Tale of Two Stresses

I haven't been back at work at week yet and I am sooooo frazzled. I thought I had it all sorted, I thought I had organised things so that my life would run smoothly for the next seven weeks. The best laid plans ...........

Firstly, I have injured my shoulder. I don't know how, but after two days of writing on the board I was in agony. I spent most of the weekend with my arm in a sling trying to get it better for Monday. No such luck.

I went to see the school nurse (so handy!) who said that my muscles were in spasm protecting an injury and the only way to release them was a course of physiotherapy and to see my GP as soon as possible. Of coure, working full time I could only get an appointment after work with my GP next week. I'm hoping it's healed by then. Who's got time to go for physiotherapy?

Secondly, socks. I've never had a problem with socks before, but daughter's school socks are another story altogether.

Last week, two days before she started school, I decided to check her very complicated uniform and equipment list to see if we had the correct stuff. I discovered that I had bought the wrong socks. I had bought white ankle socks which are only allowed in Summer Term with the school summer dress. In Autumn Term she needs knee high grey socks.

I made a mad dash to Tesco, but only found grey ankle socks or knee high white socks. I then scoured the supermarkets and clothes shops in the area, but no luck. I ended up 8 miles away in the school outfitters buying the last four pairs of knee high grey socks at the grossly inflated price of £10.

Then, at the weekend, I washed two pairs of socks and lovingly placed the precious items on the tidy dry.

"Why don't you tumble dry them?" husband asked.

"Because they are a wool/cotton mix and they will shrink, they are the only ones left in the whole of NW England and they cost a fortune" I replied.

Last night, while I was at choir rehearsal, husband decided to do some washing. (In true Mars/Venus style I am supposed to be grateful that he decided to contribute to the running of the house by doing one load of washing)

Yes, you've guessed it. Daughter has two pairs of socks that are no longer knee high. She is down to two pairs.


Sunday, 7 September 2008

Who's decision is it anyway?

Do you remember my sofa dilemma?

Well, I didn't choose either of those.

Chickpea and a couple of my friends suggested M&S. Well, as luck would have it, they've built a new M&S Home store at the Trafford Centre, so I didn't need too much pursuading to go and have a look.

Guess what? I found one I liked!!

I've ordered two 'Fenton' sofas in 'Ullswater Floral Cream' fabric. (I know, 'cream', what am I thinking of?) They should be here in five weeks!

To go with them I've bought the classic Ikea Poang armchair and footstool:

As I was choosing my cushions for the Poang, Izzy found the Children's Poang; a scaled down version of the adult one.

She settled herself in it and said,

"Bouncy chair, mummy. Can I have one? Pleeeeeese?"

I must admit it was very cute. Her own little Poang. Must admit also that my second thought was "It'll keep her and her sticky fingers off the new sofas".

I turned to husband and said, "What do you think? Shall we get her one?"

Whereupon six complete strangers who were also shopping in Ikea turned to me and yelled:


What do you think we did?

Friday, 5 September 2008

Photostory Friday - Eight down, two to go

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

As you know, we are "doing up the house". In the past two years we have renovated seven rooms and done much work to the outside of the house and the gardens. This year's projects are the Patio, the Master Bedroom and the Lounge. I've already shown you the patio; we haven't used it much due to the worst August weather on record! However, we have now finished the Master Bedroom. Yay!!

So for Photostory Friday I thought I would do some before and after photos so you can appreciate the transformation.

Our room has gone from this:

(Lovely 1970's plywood and glass wall)

to this:

(super smooth plaster wall)

and from this:

(notice the cardboard boxes as bedside cabinets since most of our furniture was in storage)

to this:

(love that Raspberry Diva paint!)

and from this:

(it was basically a bedsit for the first six months we lived here while we tackled other rooms)

to this:

Ta dah!!!

I'm loving it!!!!!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Big Day arrived

I have to admit that husband was right. Daughter was fine on her first day at school. In fact, we both were. No tears on either side!

On the way there she questioned my driving:

"Is this the way to school?"


"Are you sure?"


"Are you going the right way?"

"I've been going this way for ten years, Izzy. Believe me, it's right"

Then, after I'd helped her find her peg, drop off her snack bag and find something to play with in the classroom, that was that! Not even a backward glance!

When I collected her from After Care at 4pm she ignored me while she finished her drink and biscuit. Then she announced that she was a bit disappointed.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because we didn't do PE or swimming!"

"No, not on your first day sweetheart"

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Nurturer by nature?

Daughter starts school tomorrow. I have been feeling quite anxious for a while, but every time I mention it to husband he says, "She'll be fine".

This has thrown up our different attitudes to parenting.

I worry. I think, "She'll fall over, she'll break her arm, she'll drown" and other such dramatic thoughts.

He thinks "She'll be fine, she'll learn, she'll be OK".

Is it nature? Are mothers more prone to these worries? Who is right?

Well, I am, obviously. To demonstrate my superiority in the 'keeping daughter safe' stakes just read this story from our recent holiday in Wales:

Here is a picture of Pembroke Castle:

(Notice the people on the ground on the left for scale)

See that tower in the middle? You climb to the top via a very long, dark, slippy stone spiral staircase. Daughter wanted to go to the top. I didn't. Husband said he would take her. I stayed on the ground and worried.

Now if you look quite carefully at that middle tower you can see two figures at the top. No?

How about a close up?

(Just compare to the original to see how high up they are)

Yes, that's husband and daughter at the top. Just before husband decided to lift her up to stand on the battlement for a better view!!!!

I dropped the camera and waved my arms about shouting "PUT HER DOWN, PUT HER DOWN"!!!!!!

It took me two days to get over the fright.

Is it me being overprotective?

* * * * * * * *

Just in case you're thinking "The weather didn't look too bad!", take a look at when we had our picnic:

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Mezzo Mummy ?

As you know, in my spare time I sing in The Manchester Chorale.

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It's a relatively well-renowned choir in musical circles. I sing regularly at the Bridgewater Hall, I've done TV and radio and I've sung with Jose Carreras and Pavarotti. I think I have a fairly nice singing voice. I love singing. I sing a lot around the house. I sing with daughter and she always asks me to sing her a lullaby after her bedtime story. It's our 'mummy and daughter' moment.

Today, taking advantage of our last day of freedom before returning to school (I have an INSET day tomorrow), we were out blackberry picking and daughter was picking flowers. Buttercups and daisies. Having a song for every occasion, I started singing:

"As I was going to Strawberry Fair, singing, singing, buttercups and daisies"

Daughter pipes up: "Mummy, will you stop?"

I was a little hurt, truth be told, so I asked her, "Why? I thought you liked my singing"

"Well, I love your singing," she was placating me, obviously, "but sometimes it gives me a headache."


Think I may need to reassess my singing career!