Thursday, 31 December 2009

Marley was dead; to begin with........

(Firstly, let me say that this is not a sponsored post, it's just pure me!)

Today we headed off to the cinema to see Disney's offering of "A Christmas Carol".

Now, this story is very dear to my heart. I just love it. Not least because my real name is Carol (no, it's not really Working Mum) so I always felt it was a book written for me.

To start with my dad used to tell me this story as a bedtime story in the days leading up to Christmas when I was a child. I was scared witless by Marley's ghost and cried every time Tiny Tim died.

Growing up I would watch film versions every Christmas and particularly liked the musical version starring Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

The first time we took daughter to the theatre was to see the stage version "Scrooge" two years ago. She loved it.

This year, I indulged my love of the book by downloading the audio book read by Tim Curry and have been listening to it every night when I go to bed. Authentic, unabridged and beautifully read.

So it was with some trepidation I went to see what Disney had made of it.

Had they changed the story?

Or sweetened it for children?

Had they introduced new characters?

I needn't have worried.

It was fab-u-lous!!

They stayed faithful to the book including using the actual dialogue from the book. The animation was superb and the effects were a visual feast. All my imaginings of the ghosts and their visitations were realised on the screen.

How did this film sneak in with little advertising or hype?

I shall be buying the DVD when it comes out and it will be a firm Christmas favourite.

Thanks, Disney!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Calm down, calm down

Have calmed down a bit since husband bought flowers and admitted he'd got it wrong. It would have been a lot worse if he'd continued to insist he hadn't done anything wrong! We are now not mentioning Iceland.

So we set off today to pay for the Disney holiday that we should all be going on. In Thomas Cook daughter saw a poster of a girl pony riding on a beach and asked where it was.

"Wales" came the reply.

"Aw, can we go to Wales on holiday instead?" she whined.

"No, darling. Unfortunately we are taking you to Disneyworld, Florida"

You don't really expect to say that sentence, do you?

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

New Year Resolution

Find a hammer and do my husband's skull in.

I have never been as mad with him as I am today.

In the 21 years I have known him he has never annoyed me as much as today.

And that's counting the endless football matches, training and trips!

Here's what happened:

Today I got the new kitchen calendar out and filled in birthdays, holidays, parents' evenings, rainbows meetings, choir rehearsals, etc.

Then I asked him to fill in City Matches and his U18 football.

That's when he filled in A FIVE DAY TRIP TO ICELAND that I knew nothing about!

As if that wasn't bad enough, he's booked it to arrive home about 10 hours before we set off for Florida on daughter's holiday of a lifetime to Disney!!

One 8 hour delay and he misses his daughter's magical trip!

(And last time, he was delayed by 8 hours on his return)

How could he be so thoughtless, naiive and stupid?

At first he tried to pretend that he had told me about it, but I'd forgotten.


Then, when he realised he was getting nowhere with that tack, he said he hadn't told me because I would "go off on one"! (Thus inadvertently revealing that he knew he'd done wrong)

Too right I would go off on one!

Why couldn't he just have discussed it with me and found a more appropriate time to go?

He's now said that he won't go and is blaming me for him missing the trip!

Just watch the Manchester Evening News next week -

"Manchester Teacher Attacks Husband with Hammer"

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Casualty of Christmas

The goose was cooked.

The crackers were pulled.

The mother in law complained about the dinner (yes, really!)

We ate too much and drank too much.

And we watched Dr Who.

A traditional Christmas, then!

Yes, we survived another Christmas Day in the Working Mum household.

Daughter woke at a reasonable hour and loved the pretend pony we bought her.

Husband received enough Wii games to keep him occupied until Summer.

I got lots of cupcake related presents plus a massive box of all my favourite Thornton's chocolates, which will keep me going until, oooo, 3rd Jan!

And the casualty?

One of my beautiful Royal Doulton dessert bowls was smashed during the washing up.

Unfortunately the pattern is discontinued.

But do not fret.........

... I know what to do in these situations .......

..... Ebay here I come!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Very Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas!

Since I broke up on Friday I've turned into a domestic goddess getting ready for Christmas. I've finished decorating the house and putting up the cards. I've made hoards of cranberry and orange mince pies as well as more of those delectable Christmas cupcakes.

I've decorated my Christmas Cake:

Presents are all wrapped and delivered.

I've circled my favourites in the Christmas Radio Times.

All the food has been delivered (including a goose this year!)

The table is laid for Christmas Day.

All I have to do now is two concerts at the Bridgewater Hall (today and tomorrow) and Christmas can begin!

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Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

This post is especially for my friends far away who read my blog (you know who you are!):

Daughter announced today that we don't have to dream of a White Christmas because we've got one!

It's a long time since we've had a White Christmas and we are loving it!!

There are snowballs to be thrown:

Mini snowmen to be made:

(Look in front of her right welly)

And, of course, a proper snowman to be made:



Saturday, 19 December 2009

Strictly Working Mum

As you may or may not know, daughter and I are "Strictly Come Dancing" fans.

Husband, however, is not.

Tonight is the final and he is so glad it has finally come.

Here's our schedule:

On Saturday I watch the show whilst recording it.

On Sunday, daughter and I watch the recording while I do the ironing.

Every Monday to Friday at 6.30pm daughter and I watch "Strictly It Takes Two" in PJs drinking milk (that's daughter in PJs drinking milk, not me)

We like to discuss the dancers, the music, the dresses, the hair dos, the judges comments, etc

Then we like to do our own dancing round the lounge.

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And yes, we give each other scores out of 10.

Too much?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Digital Dementia

Well, here in Granadaland we went fully digital with the final switchover on 2 December.

You may recall that we sorted out my MIL last year with a new TV and a digital recorder so that she would be fine once the switchover came (see this post).

I've popped over to her house in the last few weeks doing the necessary retunes and then the fateful day came. I retuned her TV and recorder and voila - sorted!

I was too smug.

Two days later she called to say ITV wasn't recording properly.

I went round (husband has no patience with his own mum), tried a few things and decided it was the recorder. One day out of warranty, but fabulous Tesco (TGFT) said they would replace or refund. None of their new recorders were suitable (easy to use) for my MIL so I took the refund.

I then bought her a new one (at a grossly inflated, post switchover price) and tried that.

Fine for five minutes then pixelation galore. Then nothing worked. Not ITV, not BBC, nothing. I took it back and got a replacement. Tried the replacement at our house, it worked fine, took it to her house, nothing.

I have spent the last three days going forward and backwards between her house and mine trying various TVs and recorders and slowly eliminating possibilities until the only thing left is that it is her aerial.

A quick call to our aerial man and he popped round.

Nothing wrong with her aerial.

However, the aerial man said he has been rushed off his feet with calls to houses who can't get ITV or who have "poor signal" messages. He said it's been a nightmare.

We still haven't sorted out MILs problems, but it looks like it's not anything to do with her equipment. It's post switchover mayhem.

Who decided to switch off analogue TV three weeks before Christmas?

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Christmas Cupcakes

Look what I did!

I made all of those!

I had so much fun today at Leah's Pantry

You may remember that I did a cupcake course there in Summer. Well, I loved it so much I booked for the Christmas cupcakes. I was not disappointed.

We made apple and cinnamon cakes, cranberry and orange cakes and mince pie cakes amongst others, but the biggest fun was the decorating. I was a whirl of icing, buttercream and sparkly edible things!

Dont' they look fab?

I especially liked this wreath (surprisingly simple to make):

And I loved making the Christmas Puddings:

I went a bit mad with the snowflake cutter:

I made this lebkuchen with red rose for hubby:

I made this penguin one for daughter:

(Yes, I made the penguin!)

And for me?

Well, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a beautifully wrapped present:

Classy and sophisticated.

Just like me!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow........

Yes, I'm going on another cupcake course!

This time it's Christmas cupcakes.

I'm so excited!

And on Sunday the Working Mum family are going to the "Halle Family Christmas" at the Bridgewater Hall. Mustn't forget our jingle bells!

My cold is receding.

This is going to be a good weekend!

Mele Kalikimaka!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I don't believe it!

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I have a cold. I am gutted. I have tried so hard this term to avoid illness. I have washed my hands after marking every set of books, I have used the hand sanitisers that are liberally sprinkled around school and I have eaten more fruit and veg than ever. And still I have caught a cold. Damn that cold virus!

Yesterday, as I was sneezing and snivelling through my lessons armed with a box of tissues, I decided that I was not going to soldier on as usual. The decision was confirmed when one 12 year old boy offered me one of his Olbas Oil infused tissues and one of my sixth formers told me to use some Vaseline to sooth my sore, red nose!

So I arranged for someone to take my form's register this morning, I sorted out appropriate and useful work for each of my classes today and told my Head of Department that I would not be in. It felt very odd to make a rational decision to stay off work instead of crying in the bathroom at 6.30am thinking "I can't do it".

I am so desperate not to be ill for the next six months (which is usually what happens). I am hoping that this decision will be for the better in the long run so that I am more able to bounce enthusiastically round the classroom inspiring young minds. I think I made the right decision because I lay shivering in bed this morning as my cold developed and definitely couldn't have taught 100 teenagers today. Not only that, I've just switched on the laptop to e-mail school to say I won't be in tomorrow either as I know from past experience that going back too soon means I don't recover until March.

Plus, I am doing something this weekend that I have been looking forward to since August and I do not want to miss it!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Easy like Sunday morning

Have you, like me, abandoned the Sunday papers in favour of the Sunday blogs? You know, those bloggers who write interesting posts that require a bit more than a couple of minutes to read?

Well, having received this award:

from Modern Mom at How to Survive Life in the Suburbs, I have decided to pass it on to those who constitute my Sunday morning reading:

No rules attached, just enjoy!

I've also received another one of these:

from Muddling Along Mummy. I should tell you seven things about myself, but I did that recently, and I should pass it along to four other blogs, but I'm being lazy and saying first four commentors can take it.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time?

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I love Christmas. Well, I love all the build up: the Carols, the lights, the sparkle, making my Christmas cake, singing in concerts. I love all the things that winter festivals were invented for, to give you a boost during the cold, dark winter.

However, I don't love all the extra work it involves when I'm so busy at work and I don't love the guilt of what to do on the big day itself.

You see, my MIL spends one Christmas with her son, one with her daughter, year in, year out, probably until she dies. This restricts us every other year. I have managed to get her to come to our house in the past few years rather than go to hers and that has opened up the opportunity to invite my family as well, but it does mean we have to be at home every other year.

This year we are having MIL so I asked my mum and dad if they wanted to come to us.

Oh, the problems!

My brother has invited my mum and dad and was going to invite us, but we have MIL. Now my mum feels she has to choose between us. You get the jist.

Anyway, my brother and I are pretty easy going and don't mind what happens as long as we all see each other at some point, but my mum loves the big day.

She's now decided that they'll come to us on Christmas Eve and stay overnight so that they can see granddaughter open her presents, then they'll go to my brother's for Christmas dinner, after that they'll go home overnight and come back to us on Boxing Day. We'll have my brother and his wife round on Boxing Day or another day (they've yet to decide) and we'll all go to mum and dad's on New Year's Day.


Why does it have to be so difficult?

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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Technology - love it, hate it

I have now written all my 130 subject reports, although whether the new data management system will eat them or not, I have yet to find out, but I have done them. Huge sigh of relief. I have written them all in Word and pasted them into the new software so that I have copies to forward to IT Support if they disappear into the ether. Only 20 form reports still to do, but I now have to deal with issue of random sets of initials appearing across pupils' reports for no reason. Aaaaaagh!

I could really do without technology!

However, I have been on the internet and ordered lots of Christmas presents to be delivered to me at work so I don't have to go out to shop and I don't have to worry about not being in when they deliver.

I have reserved daughter's Christmas present on-line so I only have to go and collect it next weekend.

I have booked Tesco deliveries every week up to the 18th Dec (Christmas week not available yet).

What would I do without technology?

Sunday, 29 November 2009

My Martian does it again!

Three sets of reports still to write (by Tuesday), Christmas shopping not yet started, house is a tip and piles of washing now taking over the landing. Behind with everything after being sick last weekend.

So, what went through husband's mind when he was asked to go and help at the North of England trials today? (Bear in mind that he did his under 18's football yesterday morning and went to City yesterday afternoon)

Was it

a) I have family commitments - daughter has swimming lesson on Sunday morning which is my responsibility?
b) I have family commitments - my wife is overworked and needs help?
c) I have family commitments - Christmas is looming and isn't going to happen unless I help?


d) yes, I'll help with the football!

No prizes for guessing which it was; it's tragically too easy.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

For want of a nail.........

In amongst all the frustration and strain associated with the new IT systems at work at the moment, last week I found that my workstation's usb port was broken. I desperately needed to save the school entrance exam onto a memory stick to take home to work on it (it was too large to e-mail as an attachment). I sent a helpdesk message to ask for it to be fixed.

The IT Support boys, let's call them John and Edward, turned up, mumbled a bit and said, "We'll change your station" and they proceded to swap mine with another colleague's. (Yes, really!) I left them while I went to teach.

Guess what?

The usb port on that one was also broken. I sent Jedward a message.

Jedward came back, tutted and hummed and then said, "We'll order you an external usb"

The next day they fitted an external usb.

Guess what?

My mouse had stopped working. I sent Jedward a message.

Jedward came back, tutted and hummed and then said, "We'll reinstall it and reboot". I left them while I went to teach.

Guess what?

My mouse worked, but the computer wouldn't reboot. It just got stuck. I sent Jedward a message.

Jedward came back, tutted and hummed and then said, "We'll get you a new station"

This morning I went into the office, and there was my new station.

Minus the post-it notes I had stuck to my old one reminding me of the things I need to remember!

Guess what?

I can't remember what was on them - that's why I wrote them!!!

(I have to laugh at the moment or I would cry)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Nativity Nightmare

Now you know how strict I am about bedtime? Well, here's another story: I've just found out that as well as a 2pm performance of the Nativity Play, my five year old daughter has to do a 7pm performance!! That's right. 7pm!

I'd gone to see her teacher to find out when the Nativity was so that I could arrange for a colleague to cover for me.

"It's 2pm on the 15th and 7pm on the 16th" I was told.

"That can't be right" I said to her teacher. "She goes to bed at 7pm, you must mean the juniors at 7pm"

The other year 1 teacher was summoned to confirm the time. Yes, year 1 and 2 Nativity is at 7pm. I looked horrified.

"Yes, I know" she said, "They're fit for nothing the next day and it's the panto trip and party"

Then she added "And it's never a very good performance because they're all tired"

"Excuse me? They are too tired? Of course they are, they are five years old! So why do it to them?"

(Of course I just thought that bit, I didn't dare say it out loud)

I went home and looked at the calendar. Husband is away with work and I'm singing in a concert in Manchester. So that's that, daughter can't do the 7pm performance.

Secretly, I am relieved.

What a naughty mum I am!

Monday, 23 November 2009


Mojo at 60% and rising.

Exams marked 53

Reports written 46

Grades awarded 156

About a third of the way through!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Pooly. Ill. Sick.

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Yes, I'm poorly, ill, sick. I've caught the sickness bug daughter had last week. Except mine came accompanied by the other thing, if you know what I mean. I spent all Friday night and Saturday morning in the bathroom, I still have stomach ache and I'm not quite able to stand upright without feeling dizzy.

Luckily, husband took daughter to work with him on Saturday morning so I did get some peace. He said she was very helpful, entertained everyone there and was filled with sweets, chocolate, cake and fizzy drinks by them! Nice.

Unfortunately, I missed an African Music Workshop that I was due to go on with the choir on Saturday afternoon. And I was so looking forward to taking out all my current stress on an African drum!

So now I've got a pile of exams waiting to be marked in my briefcase, a pile of ironing waiting to be done in the dining room, 442 posts to be read in my Google Reader (I'm sorry, I won't get round to reading them all) and I haven't even thought about sanding down the staircase which was what I had planned while husband took daughter swimming this morning.

Daughter has amassed four lots of homework to do this afternoon (how did that happen?) and I have to take her to a party and I'm so not in the mood for socialising with other mums. Just want to curl up in ball under the duvet.

When husband asked me if I wanted anything this morning I just said:

"I want my mojo back!"

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Losing it

Think I'm losing my marbles now. Today, as members of my department were struggling with the new Data Management System, I decided to help them by typing up detailed instructions of how to input various types of grades and reports and how to filter and print the parts they need ("Surely IT would do this?" I hear you cry - another story)

Anyway, when I'd finished I e-mailed a copy to everyone and printed out my own version with a cover sheet saying

"Carol's Cool Instructions"

then I took the department's stamps and stamped "Brilliant" "Well done!" and "Superstar!" all over it.

I recommend it!

Boosted my self esteem no end!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

When you've got your nose the grindstone ..........

I don't normally write about the things that are annoying me at work; I love my job, I love the kids, I love my colleagues (well, not literally, but I do like working with the other members of my department) and there are always stresses and complaints in any job, you just have to get on with it. However, today I'm making an exception.

Now, to set the scene, you need to be aware that this time of year is the worst time of year in our school. There are Open Evenings and Parents' Evenings to attend (meaning 13 hour days), all my classes are doing Christmas Assessments (tests and exams) in the next two weeks, which need to be marked and recorded, and then I have 130 reports to write before Christmas. All on top of a normal teaching load. I also have to record grades and write reports on the new Data Management System that went live in school last week, so we're still getting to grips with it.

This is what I look like at this time of year:

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(That's me on dinner duty in the canteen)

Okay, so it's a busy time of year. Fair enough. There is an INSET day coming up next week (to those who don't know, this stands for "In Service Training" and usually consists of useful stuff like Child Protection Legislation, Asthma Awareness, EpipenTraining, IT Training, Fire Safety talks, etc.) we could use it to have some extra marking time, to write reports on the new system with assistance available, to have important departmental meetings to review this term's initiatives.

So what have the "powers that be" decided that we need on INSET day?

An ex member of staff to come and talk to us about how great life is after retirement!!

Talk about rubbing your nose in it!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Why can't a man be more like a woman?

Last night daughter was sick. There is sickness bug going round school so it didn't surprise me. Unfortunately I didn't get to her in time to manouvre her to the toilet, so she was sick on her bedroom floor, then the bathroom floor, then all over the toilet. But strangely, not actually in the toilet! I started to clean her up, change her clothes and reassure her when husband appeared.

"Can I do anything?" he asked.

"Yes, you look after her and I'll clean up"

He took her to the other bathroom to clean her up and put new PJs on then he took her to our room while I spent nearly 30 mins in rubber gloves armed with a bottle of Dettol. By the time I'd finished I could hear her being sick again.

I went into our room and guess what?

Had husband thought to get a bowl or a bucket for her to be sick into the next time?

No, he had not.

She had been sick all over our duvet.

"This time, you can do the cleaning up" I said.

Friday, 13 November 2009

What the blazers?!

No, not a typing error, but a rant about blazers.

Now my daughter has reached the dizzy heights of Year 1 she has to wear a blazer. Not a simple blazer from M&S. No, a £50 embroidered and gold braid edged blazer from the school outfitters, Messrs Got You Over a Barrel & Co. (I think I've mentioned them before)

So what do we do with this blazer?

Well, every morning I put it in a bag and take it to school (because she is wearing her official school coat embroidered with the school crest) and she hangs it on her peg.

At the end of the day I pick daughter up and we take her blazer from the peg, put it in a bag and carry it back to the car.

Why did I spend £50 on a blazer that is now just an extra bag to carry?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Seven things you didn't know about me

I have received this lovely award from Rosiero at Alcoholic Daze and Fat, Frumpy and Fifty:

If you haven't read Rosiero's blog, go along and give her your support. The lady is a saint.

Anyway, along with the award I have to tell you seven things about myself. Some of these I have done before, but some readers may not know:
  1. I have sung with Pavarotti and Jose Carreras (my claims to fame and I'm hanging on to them)
  2. At school I learned the art of campanology (church bell ringing)
  3. At university I danced in the university ballroom dancing team - kept this quiet for a long time, but now it's fashionable thanks to 'Strictly Come Dancing'
  4. I can touch type - much to the annoyance of my two fingered colleagues!
  5. In times of stress I hide chocolate under my bed- that last time was a bar of Ritter Sport when the electrics went haywire
  6. I still suffer from travel sickness - at my age!
  7. I like my books arranged in height order (husband says I have a touch of OCD!):
(Yes, that's really my bookcase)

Now I shall nominate seven other blogs to receive the award and tell us how weird they are:

A working mother's chatter
and 1 more means four
Diary of a Surprise Mum
Ladybird World Mother
Ramblings of a Moo Cow
Scary Azeri in Suburbs
The Wife of Bold

Looking forward to hearing their seven things and feeling that I am not alone in my weirdness!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Half Term is over, the nights are drawing in

It's the end of another half term holiday and, despite having two weeks off this year instead of the usual one, it has flown by. Think it might have something to do with what I packed in:

  • I have sanded, primed, undercoated, painted and emulsioned the hall, stairs and landing.
  • The joiner has replaced all the interior doors and the staircase with spindles which I have started to paint and varnish.
  • I cleaned the house from top to bottom twice because of the above two points.
  • We had a family fun day in Blackpool.
  • We cleared the garden for winter.
  • Daughter had three playdates and went out trick or treating for the first time.
  • I took her to the cinema to see "Night at the Museum 2" (it was the Odeon Kids movie; £2.45 for her and I go free, that made the decision for me).
  • I went to hospital for my follow up appointment after my little visit last month; I'm going to be hooked up to a 24 hour ecg monitor - should be fun.
  • I retuned four TVs and two digital recorders (ours and MILs) following the second stage of the changeover to digital.
  • I had my car MOTed and serviced.
  • I wrote this year's Entrance Exam for school.
And now for the best bit:

In true, Working Mum style, I have got ahead:

I have made my Christmas Cake, plus one for the Church Christmas Fair.

I've made and frozen 30 christmas cupcakes ready to ice for the school Christmas Fair.

And ...........

I've bought and written all my Christmas Cards!

Smug feeling spreading over me now:

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Won't last long, I'm back at work tomorrow - chaos will ensue.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Why I am a working mum

I've recently been thinking about why I'm a working mum. How have I ended up working and raising my daughter at the same time? For some reason it's been going round and round in my head. I wasn't going to try to articulate it, but I was inspired by a post by Scary Azeri in the Suburbs entitled A Pretty Tray for my Cupcakes which, although not quite on the same subject, added to my thoughts, muddled my head and made me want to sort it out.

I've also recently been out for a meal with the mums from my daughter's class who are mixture of SAHMs, full-time working mums and part-time working mums. I'm really interested in why they've chosen the path they've chosen, but don't feel I know them well enough yet to ask. Why has the GP and the Account Manager given up work to be a full-time mum? Why have the Teacher and the Planner gone part-time? Why has the Solicitor continued to work full-time? And what did the rest of them do before they had children? Are they happy with their choices? Would they like to go back to work at a later dater, or are they glad to be out of the rat race? The choices facing women in the 21t century are multifold; why have we chosen to do what we do?

And why am I a working mum?

Scary's post made me realise that there is one aspect of my working that I hadn't really appreciated before - independence. I like to think that if the worse came to the worse and I was left alone with daughter, I would be able to provide for us. Working gives me a certain sense of independence. Not in the sense of being separate from my husband, no, I love being married and financially all our money goes in the one pot, we're not a 'my money/your money' type of partnership. No, just a sense of not being dependent on someone else to provide everything. That seems to be important to me.

I've already mentioned before that I'm part of that generation of women who were brought up to believe that they could, nay should, have a career as well as a family. So I work because that's what I expect to do as a result of my upbringing. When I was pregnant it never occurred to me to leave work. I just expected to carry on. I thought about working part-time, but financially that was worse. I would have been in school almost full-time (because of the timetabling) and so paying for full-time childcare on part-time wages, so I thought I would continue to work full-time and see how it went. It was very hard at first and I had to be mega organised and accept that there would be no time for me, but now it is a lot easier. It also helps that daughter attends my school now and that I have all the same school holidays as her so I don't have the hassle finding someone to look after her in the holidays, or the working mum guilt about that.

Then there is also my sense of self; that I value myself by my working worth. When I was on maternity leave, I hated it. I felt like a 'non person'. I felt I had no place in society, that I was of no use and not contributing in any way to society. At this point I realised that I don't even mind paying taxes! I couldn't wait to get back to work. I felt invisible when out pushing the pram, like I didn't really exist. The relief I felt when I walked back into my classroom was tangible. I thought "This is who I am. This is what I do". I feel useful when I'm working.

So, it's been going round and round in my head - independence, expectation, sense of self .........

And what conclusion have I reached?

In the hive of life, I am one of the worker bees!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Party Pooper

Yet again my daughter is swamped with invitations to birthday parties. We're now onto 6th Birthday Parties and the variety amazes me: bowling, pot painting, train rides, pony riding, High School Musical, swimming, farm animals, etc.

I try to enable her to attend them all because

a) she enjoys them
b) it's nice for the birthday boy/girl to have their friends there

Even if I am overwhelmed with work, I will take her and sit at the back of the room marking work, writing exams or proofreading reports. (Yes, I am that sad mum at the back, working)

However, recently she recieved an invitation to a party and I turned it down without telling her. What a bad mother I am.

Why did I turn it down?

Well, the party was a "Disco Party" to be held from 6.30 pm to 8.30pm at a venue about 15 miles away and my daughter goes to bed at 7.00pm. It just wasn't going to happen.

I have always had a 'thing' about bedtime. I'm quite fastidious about her getting her 11 hours sleep. It helps her to grow physically and develop mentally and it stops her from being tired, tetchy and tearful the next day. I bent the rules for my 40th Birthday meal in the hotel in the Lake District, but that was a one off. We like the routine of PJs, milk and story and then one very happy and peaceful little girl goes off into the land of nod.

So I turned down the invitation.

Did I do wrong?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Pelemy Polo

Pelemy Polo is my car. It's supposed to be "Penelope Polo", but daughter couldn't pronounce it, so Pelemy it is.

Well, Pelemy has reached a milestone.

She turned ten years old last week.

She went for her annual MOT and service.

She passed first time, as she has done every year.

She's not perfect, she has a few foibles: the driver sun visor falls off occasionally, the driver window won't wind down properly, the passenger wing mirror no longer heats up, but she's safe and she starts first time every morning. In fact, in ten years she's only needed a new battery, exhaust, timing belt, a few light bulbs and a couple of tyres.

People keep asking me if, now that she's reached the ripe old age of ten, I will scrap her under the government car scrappage scheme.


Pelemy is reliable, economical and loved (see photo!)

She costs me nothing but the annual MOT and service.

Why would I send her to the scrap heap?

How wasteful is that scheme?

No, Pelemy will live on!

My blog's "Working Mum on the Verge" and it's been hit!

Anyone know anything about this character?

(Click on the picture to find out more)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Super Grandad!!

You know I wrote a while back about how my parents have more energy than me? While I am flopping into bed at 9.30pm absolutely exhausted they are out dancing until gone midnight?

Well, this time my dad has really gone for it.

Today he will be abseilling down the Cunard Building in Liverpool!

Yes, really!

I thought he was winding me up at first, but no, he's really doing it, for charity.

So if you are in Liverpool today and you see an old bloke dangling off this building:

....... think "that's Working Mum's Dad"!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Tacky, but by no means cheap!

Yesterday we had one of our family fun days. We decided to go to Blackpool to show daughter the lights. It's many years since I've been to Blackpool and I think it will be many more before I go back.

Now, I know Blackpool is tacky, and if you take it in that vein it can be quite good fun, but it was the cost! Even armed with £56 worth of vouchers, we managed to spend another £100 on top of that. So how did a family of three spend over £150 in one day in Blackpool?

Well, firstly there was the car park - £7.50 for the day. Pay and display car parks, all of them, and they don't take notes. How many people have £7.50 on them in change? None of the bemused people in the queue by the pay and display machine, that's for sure.

Then, we headed for the Tower. £48 for three! If I hadn't had £40 of Tesco Days Out Vouchers I wouldn't have bothered. Even for the £8 it cost us, it wasn't worth it. The aquarium was disappointing, the queue for the lift to the top was through the queuing system, down the corridor, through the doors and all along the balcony of the ballroom, so we didn't bother. The ballroom was impressive (we just wanted to see where Strictly is next week!). The children's play area was large with only one entrance (we thought that was good for security), but daughter got lost inside and couldn't find her way out, another child helped her and then she wanted to leave.

Okay, so we'll try the Sealife Centre £32 (but we had a two for one voucher from Debenhams). Nice aquariums, but we missed the shark feeding as we were patiently waiting by the wrong sharks!

Now the Golden Isle Indoor Golf (daughter loves indoor golf), by this time I thought we'd just pay for husband and daughter - £5. I hadn't appreciated how large it was and sat for an hour waiting for them to come out.

Time for a fish and chip supper - £18. Nice food, piping hot and lots of lovely bread and butter, but husband's meal arrived at a different time from ours so we ate separately.

A bus to the Pleasure Beach - £4. This was quite funny; I realised that my daughter had never been on a bus before when she sat down and asked "Where are the seat belts?"

Pleasure Beach - COMPLETE RIP-OFF - SINCE WHEN HAVE YOU HAD TO PAY JUST TO ENTER THE PLEASURE BEACH!!? £15 for three of us just to go in and "experience the ambience of the Pleasure Beach"! Then we bought £15 worth of ride tickets enabling daughter to go on six rides. If you think about it, that's £5 per ride!

Open Top Tram from Pleasure Beach to the Tower to see the lights - £5

Now I was ready to go home, but husband said we hadn't seen all the lights. Two more trams (£10) and an hour later we had a very tired and tetchy five year old on our hands who declared that the lights were no longer "cool", but "boring" and "all you do is look at them"!

Oh, and if you are wondering why there are no photos with this post, the batteries had gone in the camera (guess who was the last to use it - yes, husband!)

Next time I'm packing a picnic and going to a National Trust Property. Much better value.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Thank Dulux for that!

Daffodil White!

Daffodil White is the one!!

(If you don't know what I'm on about, read the previous post)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Lemon Sorbet Meringue Ice Cream Buttermilk Daffodil Citrus

I'm on the edge. The search for a pale yellow paint for the hall is getting to me. I've tried 20 different tester pots and two full sized tins and I'm still no further on. I've painted part of the landing twice and found it to be the wrong colour both times. Everything is too yellow, too bright, too white, luminous green, too pink, too brown or just insipid. If it looks okay in daylight, it doesn't in artificial light or vice versa. Nothing is a nice pale yellow in daylight and artificial light.

The pressure is now on because the plumber is coming next week to put a radiator in the hall and the burglar alarm man is also coming to fix and refit the sensors (I broke them when removing them for the plasterers).

I have to find a colour and paint it before they come, otherwise it will be Christmas before I'm off work again and can let them in.

I am now in a battle of wills with the squares of testers on the landing.

I find myself doing quick double takes (in the manner of a spy being followed) in the hopes of catching a tester unawares and finding it to be the right colour!

I feel like they are turning green just to spite me!

I think I am losing it.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

It was a long time coming

Half term has arrived. It seemed a long time coming, but it's finally here. And this year the powers that be at my school have decided that we will have two weeks off for half term. Yay!

Notice that my reaction is the opposite of most of the other mothers of children in daughter's class who are horrified at the thought of entertaining their offspring for 14 entire days. What will they do without Kumon Maths, Le Petit Francais french lessons, riding lessons and gymnastics?

(Yes, there is a hint of sarcasm there)

Well, I'm going to enjoy it! I'll be doing a few jobs and spending time with my daughter.

I'll be getting my hair cut, the car MOTed, the garden tidied and painting some of the hall, stairs and landing. btw "Buttermilk" has turned out to be luminous green as well, I think it's something to do with energy saving lightbulbs being a blue light. I'm trying "Lunar Falls" next - it's costing me a fortune! Any suggestions for a pale yellow paint that doesn't turn green under energy saving light bulbs are gratefully received.

We'll also try to fit in a family day out, probably to Blackpool to show Izzy the lights. I remember going riding on a tram and seeing that lights at her age and I thought it was magical!

We'll have a trip to the cinema to see "Ice Age 3" or "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" (I'm favouring the second). We were going to see Disney Pixar's "Up" in 3-D, but Rosie Scribble's review made me have a rethink. If anyone sees "Fantastic Mr Fox" could you let me know if it's suitable for a five year old?

I've booked Izzy into the holiday club at school for a couple of days (she begged to go on the day they can take their bikes and cycle around school!) so that I can go in and write this year's Entrance Exam.

And of course, Hallowe'en is in the middle of the holiday and I've arranged a play date for Izzy where I will organise the baking of freaky fingers, gingerbread skeletons, spiderweb muffins and pumpkin cookies.

(If you want any of the recipes, just click on the pictures)

Then I'll be spending lots of time on the Wii fit burning off all of the calories generated by the above!!

Happy Half Term Holiday!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sorry, the bolognese is off tonight

Time for a catch up, methinks.

Firstly, let me tell you that my lie-in on Sunday was non-existent due to being woken up at 7.00am by husband's alarm clock which he had forgotten to switch off before he left! So I was wide awake by the time the joiner arrived. In fact, I was in my decorating clothes sanding the hall woodwork.

I think I should also explain that our joiner is my fabulous childminder's husband and is fitting in our jobs at the weekend because he has a big kitchen contract on at the moment, so I'm just glad that he's coming at all. He's now fitted six new doors upstairs and is going to start on a new staircase next weekend. It's all looking good!

It seems like ages since I was in the blogosphere and I apologise for my lack of reading of other blogs (I'll catch up at half term). I've been having such a busy time of it recently. I've had tons of work at school with assessments to mark, open evenings and parents' evenings. You'll be glad to know that I knew all the children's names! Last night's year 7 parents said lovely things about how their children are really enjoying my lessons and that they have increased their confidence in my subject so, as they say in the Fast Show, that was nice!

I went to see Michael McIntyre this week at the MEN Arena (part of my birthday present), which was fab!

I've also been filling any extra minutes with trying to sand and paint the hall, stairs and landing, but that's gone a bit wrong as "Soft Sunlight" has turned out to be "Luminous Pea Green" even though the tester pot looked fine. So it's off to B&Q this weekend to change it for "Buttermilk".

We also had daughter's Parents' Evening this week and learned that she is well on the way to being a free reader. In a way I'm hoping that she doesn't want to read her own bedtime stories 'cause that's the thing I really enjoy. Depending on the book, of course; I can't say I was enamoured of the "Magic Ponies" book she got from the library last week!

She's also still making me laugh with her quips. This morning I was writing the Tesco list and asked her if she'd like to choose a meal. She had complained that she never gets to choose what we eat, so I said she could pick one meal a week. She thought for a bit and then said "spaghetti bolognese".

"Good", I said and added the ingredients to the shopping list for Saturday.

This evening I made pasta twists with bacon and tomato sauce, put it on the table and called her into the kitchen.

She took one look at the meal and said,

"That isn't what I ordered"!

Roll on half term!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

A lie-in? What's a lie-in?

This afternoon husband is taking daughter to his sister's in Sheffield to attend her cousin's birthday party. A birthday party that starts at 6.30pm. Izzy's bed time. Because of this, he has arranged for them to stay over at his sister's rather than drive Izzy home afterwards.

You know what this means?

  1. I can go shopping this afternoon with my mum. Proper, leisurely, "let's look at stuff" shopping rather than "where is she? what's she doing?" shopping.
  2. I have a whole evening to myself to watch DVDs, eat chocolate, drink wine and catch up on a few blogs.
  3. I can have a lie-in tomorrow!
Did you see number 3?

A proper, no one in the house at all to wake me, lie-in. My first proper lie-in in five and a half years. Bliss.

And boy, do I need one. With the work I've been doing on the house (ceilings now painted and have started on woodwork on landing), the busy time I've been having at school (including several 13 hour days with Open Evenings and Parent Evenings) and not to mention my visit to hospital, I am exhausted. I could sleep standing up!

Then the joiner phoned to say he'll be round at 8.00am tomorrow to work on the staircase.

Sods law!

Friday, 16 October 2009

C minus for Working Mum

Today I failed in my bid to be the most organised working mum on the planet. Usually, I pride myself on being so organised I know exactly who is doing what and when, and I make sure that all required items are procured well in advance. I manage full-time job, daughter, husband and house with alacrity.


So how did I fail?

At breakfast, all was calm in the Working Mum household. Daughter was dressed in pristine school uniform (okay, it was "Izzy" clean) and we were eating our Weetabix and looking forward to the day ahead. (Don't you just hate the utopian picture I've just painted? Well, don't worry it's soon to be shattered)

"You've got Maths and Singing today, Izzy" I said, "Isn't that a nice day?"

"No, I haven't" she said.

"Yes, you have. It's here on your timetable. That would have been a perfect day for me at school" and I continued to wax lyrical about my favourite subjects at school.

"No, I haven't" she said, "I'm going to the Chestnut Centre"


I had a vague recollection of filling out a form and sending a cheque to school a couple of weeks ago. I shot over to the pinboard where the letter was still hanging and yes, she was right, the trip was today - waterproofs, warm clothes and a packed lunch were required.

It was 7.20am.

We had 10 minutes before we had to leave for school.

"Stooooooooop!" I shouted, as husband was just leaving the house, "Get her changed, I'll do a packed lunch, where have we left her wellies?"

A mad panic ensued. Luckily I had the components of a packed lunch in the house so I didn't have to make a mad dash to the One Stop. Husband managed to change daughter into sensible (and matching!) warm clothes. Wellies were found.

Disaster averted.

In my defence, I was at work until 9.30pm last night and arrived home so exhausted I went straight to bed without checking what was needed for the next day. How could I have been so slapdash?

C minus, more effort required.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Here's a thing. Have you seen that advert on TV for Barclays Guaranteed Bonds? Well, five years ago I took one out and was looking forward to it maturing this week. A holiday abroad, a new car,....... oh, the things I have thought about spending it on during the last five years.

Well, the interest was guaranteed to be 75% of the uplift in the FTSE 100 over the five year term of the bond......................................

............ I'll just give you a minute to digest that ............................

................. yes, that would be zero, then!

Yep, I've just received a guaranteed zero interest.

Who knew there'd be a global recession?

Take away and a bottle of wine, then.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Going to bed with Derek Jacobi

It's not what it sounds like. I haven't got a fetish for older men. Let me explain.

A long time ago, in the olden days, when we had cassettes and Sony Walkmen (remember them?) I used to enjoy listening to audio books. On those evenings when I was too tired to even open my eyelids to read a book I would plug myself in and let the dulcet tones of Derek Jacobi and others read to me whilst I lay in bed. There's something about being read to that is so relaxing. Ask any child under the age of 10!

Anyway, with the advent of CDs and the rather more cumbersome Sony CD Walkman, I thought that audio books were just too expensive and gave up my habit.

However, I have just been given an i-pod touch for my birthday, audio books are available to download at reasonable prices (or a monthly fee at and guess what? He's still there!

Derek is back in my life, reading me tales of Brother Cadfael.

Small pleasures.

My heart goes boom diddy boom diddy boom diddy boom .........

So why am I at home on a Thursday? Because yesterday I had, shall we say, an interesting day and have been told to stay at home today.

Yesterday morning at about 4.20am I was woken up by a strange and increasing pain in my chest. Following that was shortness of breath and feeling cold and clammy, yet sweating. Something was not right. It was not indegestion and it was not a pulled muscle. It was inside and it was hurting.

Husband called an ambulance and five minutes later the paramedics arrived. After an ECG showed an irregular heartbeat I was taken to hospital. After about 30 minutes the pain abated and by lunchtime I felt fine. The hospital ran further tests, subsequent ECGs were normal and luckily they found nothing sinister. After 12 hours in hospital I was allowed to go home.

I have to go back in about a week to see a consultant. Let's hope he has some simple, insignificant answer such as 'just a panic attack'.

I did want to go back to school today and get back to normal, but my Head of Department forbade it so I just popped in when I took Izzy to school and picked up some marking (there is always marking!). I think I need to keep busy. So I've been to the library, I've done some ironing, watched Strictly It Takes Two from Tuesday and now I'm doing computer related stuff like signing up for the Radio Times free audiobook from, ordering the Tesco shop and checking our bank account, oh, and a bit of blogging.

Do you think I can get away with putting a second coat on the hall and landing ceilings?

Friday, 2 October 2009

I'm leaning on a lamp-post at the corner of the street

Last week daughter did a sponsored lamp-post walk with Rainbows. She asked some members of our family to sponsor her and they did. After the event they all duly paid paid up. Although they did pay for the 23 lamp-posts that I counted on the walk, not the 82 that she counted. Good try, Izzy!

This week I put the money in an envelope and gave it to her to give to the Rainbow leader.

"What's that?" she asked

"It's the sponsor money" I replied

"No, we haven't got it yet"

"Yes, we have. Nana and Grandma and Uncle Steve gave it to me"

"But why are we taking it to Rainbows?"

"Because that's what it's for"

"No, it's not"

"Yes, it is. It was a Rainbow sponsored walk"

"But I asked them to sponsor me" she wailed

I explained that they had sponsored her to do the walk to raise the money for Rainbows.

"Well, next time, I'm doing it for me" she said

Not quite got the idea, has she?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Frankie & Meany's

I recently got a voucher for Frankie & Benny's through my Debenhams account.

Free kids meal when accompanied by a full paying adult.

Oh good, I thought, there's a Frankie & Benny's in Manchester, Stockport and The Trafford Centre, I can use it one Saturday or during half term.

I printed it off and read the small print:

Under 11's only, Monday - Friday, after 5pm before 31st October, but not during half term.

What use is that?!

My under 11 is in bed by 6.30pm Mon - Fri, except during half term.

Frankie & Meany's more like!!!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Have my cake and eat it!

Last post about my 40th Birthday, I promise.

Last night I went out for a meal with family and friends and at the end of the meal they brought out the cake. Look at this:

Look, it's me!

I'm in my choir uniform, singing whilst teaching maths and making cupcakes with Izzy:

Well, I am good at multitasking!

Around the edge was my garden, handbags, suitcases and flags of countries I have visited.

How fab is that?

Seemed such a shame to cut into it:

But it was lemon cake, my favourite!

Yet again, the boy did well.

The trouble is, the pressure's really on now for what I do for his 40th next year.

Any ideas?

Friday, 25 September 2009

There's an app for that!

I've been spending the last few evenings avoiding both housework and marking whilst trying to get to grips with my new birthday present. It's been a bit frustrating, but now I've got the hang of it, I think it's fab!

What did I get?

Well, it was something off my list.

I didn't think I would get it, but I did.

Look what husband bought me for my birthday:

The boy did well.

Once I'd figured out how to switch it on (I kid you not) and how to charge it up, I downloaded i-tunes and I was off. I've now put some CDs onto it, put the photos from our summer holiday on and filled the diary with my pressing engagements. I've changed the weather app to show Manchester and I've downloaded a few apps, mainly games like pac-man (remember that?). My family, who knew what I was getting, kindly bought me some i-tunes vouchers so I've been having fun at the i-tunes store. I'm hooked!

I'm now known for walking round the house going:

"There's an app for that!"

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

No elbows on the table!!

While I was away for my birthday weekend, we allowed daughter to eat with us in the main hotel restaurant on the night of my actual birthday for a special treat. Now, this was a silver service, very posh restaurant in a four star Country House Hotel. Luckily, it was a family friendly hotel and it was okay for her to eat with us, but that night there were no other children in the restaurant.

Oh no! No other children. Just a lot of adults wanting a quiet dinner and there was I, walking in with my five year old daughter. How would she behave?

Was I daunted?

Well, a little.

But the thing is, I have always insisted on decent table manners with daughter. I get it from my dad. He always insisted on good table manners. He said that if we had good table manners at home, we wouldn't forget when we were out. And to be honest, my mum and dad were often complimented on how well behaved my brother and I were in restaurants. I wanted the same with my daughter.

But there is such a lot to learn:

Don't put your elbows on the table.

Don't talk with your mouth full.

Only put onto your fork what will fit into your mouth.

Never, ever, ever put your knife in your mouth!

Never use your fork as a shovel.

Use your dessert fork, not your finger!

Sip your drink.

Cut food into mouth size pieces.

Place cutlery together on your plate at the end of the meal.

Ask permission to leave the table.

Wait until everyone has finished before you ask permission to leave the table!

And the list goes on.

So how did daughter manage?

Well, she did extremely well. She sat still in her seat, she ate beautifully and she made polite conversation. I was so proud.


I knocked my menu onto the floor taking half my cutlery with it!!

Can't take me anywhere!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Life certainly does begin at 40

For my birthday weekend we went here, Armathwaite Hall, in the Lake District:

The hotel was beautiful and husband had arranged champagne and flowers in our room on arrival so I felt thoroughly spoiled. Then we all had a wonderful seven course dinner in the hotel restaurant for my birthday.

The next morning, after a swim in the hotel pool, we played some croquet on the lawn:

and then walked over to the nearby animal park where daughter did this:

We then spent a little while lounging about drinking tea (from a silver teapot with a silver strainer) and eating chocolates in the Lake View lounge of the hotel. After a quick trip into Keswick to buy daughter a new waterproof (for a school trip on Tuesday) we went back to the hotel and had another swim and a jacuzzi.

After daughter had had her dinner we tucked her up in bed and left her watching "Strictly" (with the baby listening service on) while we had another seven course dinner.

The next day we watched a falconry display on the front lawn:

had a little wander around the gardens:

and then set off home via Grasmere for some of Sarah Nelsons famous gingerbread.

What a fantastic birthday!

And what did daughter put in her news book today?

"I watched Strictly in bed"!