Wednesday, 31 December 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Thanks for trying

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

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

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

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

WM: Is that OK, then?

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

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

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

WM: Grrrrrrrr!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Look what I got for Christmas!

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

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

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

Yes, that would be me.

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

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

Funny that!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

A time for giving

I received this lovely award recently from the Reluctant Housewife:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A working mother's chatter
Tales of life down under

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

Sticky Fingers

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

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

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 22 December 2008

It's Christmas!

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

Bring on Christmas!

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

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Cake Time!

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

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

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

A Christmas Wreath Cake:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ta dah!

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

Nearly there!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

WorkingMumitis more like!

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

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

Excuse me?


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

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

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Ooo Matron!

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

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

Husband is taking daughter to school.

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

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

a nice flask of hot

and not forgetting a lovely bar of

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


Monday, 15 December 2008

Who put that wall there?

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

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

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

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

He says the sweetest things.

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

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

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

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Manchester says no!

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

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

Don't crush people with more taxes!!

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Scribe

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

She started the first one, "To Oliver"

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

I spelt it out for her.

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

I spelt it out for her.

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

Gradually I realised that she had written:

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

It continued:

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

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

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

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

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

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

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

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


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

Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

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

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

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

"Where are the spare bulbs?"

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

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

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

"I've put these on the tree"

"Well, take them off"

"It doesn't solve the problem"

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

"But that's not the objective"

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

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

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

(Like the head gear?)

Ta dah!

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

Getting things off my chest - literally

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now will this infection just get off as well?

Friday, 5 December 2008

Having it all update

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

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

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

So why do I do it?

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

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

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

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

Hmmm ..........

Monday, 1 December 2008

Credit Crunch bypasses Tesco

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

Meez 3D avatar avatars games
Mmmmm, perhaps I do need another tin of Quality Street......

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

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

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

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

Okaaay, what does that mean?

"I can't sell it to you"

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

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

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


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

Buy Tesco shares now, buy, buy!!