Saturday, 28 February 2009

Saving my Sanity

I said I wouldn't do it. I thought it was expensive, over-the-top and quite unnecessary. How naiive I was.

That was before the thought of rampaging four and five year olds trudging mud into my new (beige) lounge carpet came into my mind. Chocolate fingers on my new (cream) sofas. Jelly in my (oatmeal) dining room carpet. Yes, I'm talking about ..........

........ daughter's 5th birthday party.

I have now seen the light - pay someone else to entertain and feed them, just provide cake and party bags and then go home to clean, quiet house.


Now, what to book?

Well, I've been scrutinising various parties we've been to this year:

Indoor play area - fun, but not really a party, just children playing individually, then lunch

Bowling - complete disaster, four year olds not bothered about knocking down pins and had to eat food on their laps. It wasn't pretty!

Farm - great time, but heavily dependent on weather; lots of mud and wellies and cold, wet mums!

Church Hall - still have to do catering and clean up after, too much like hard work

Pony Riding (I know, but she does go to a private school) - kids loved it, but limited number allowed and have to book a year in advance

No joy there then. So last week, while daughter was at another party, I talked to other mums and found out what they'd been to and one recommended a local garden centre with a steam train. We've taken daughter there for rides and for lunch in the restaurant. We've even been there at Christmas for the Santa Express. They've just started doing children's parties.


With daughter's love of Thomas the Tank Engine this looked good.

I rang the Garden Centre today, asked the details, checked the dates
and ...................

................... it's available!

Izzy's 5th Birthday Party is now booked!

Roll on 25th April!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Don't mess with the punchline, mummy

I should be sitting here at the laptop researching a topic for 'China Week' next week at school, but, as usual, I've been waylaid by the Great God Google and led astray into Blogland. So here's what happened today:

Daughter has to give a joke in at school for a joke book they are producing for Comic Relief's Red Nose Day so this morning we stood in reception, clutching the form to fill in, while she told me her joke:

"I know a joke!" she said

"Go on, then" I said, with pen poised, ready to fill it in on the form.

"What does a camel have for breakfast?"

"I don't know what does a camel have for breakfast?"


She fell about laughing

"I think it's 'sandwiches' " I said, " 'Sandwiches ' is funny"

"No, mummy, it's 'sand' " she insisted, " 'Sand' is the funniest thing I've ever heard!"


I wrote down 'sand'

I hope other people get the joke.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Out of the frying pan!

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Back at work for three days and worn out:

Monday - One INSET day filled with too much to do (the words "quart" and "pint pot" spring to mind) - daughter at fabulous childminder's for the day.

Tuesday - full day's teaching then had to pick daughter up at 4.30pm, bring her home, make tea and two pancakes for daughter and MIL (who was babysitting for two hours before husband could get home) and return to school by 6pm for Parents Evening, return home at 9.30pm and make pancakes for husband and me. Can't miss the pancakes!

Wednesday - cover lesson on top of a normal day's teaching, dinner duty, ICT meltdown as school system starts to implode under new 'power saving' software (remember I teach using an interactive whiteboard on the school network - all my lessons were disrupted)!

And I'm supposed to do Peak Flow readings every two hours?!

When's the weekend?

And where's the chocolate?

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Fairy Godmother on a secret mission?

Daughter went to the pantomime yesterday. She had a great time and was full of it when she returned. Unfortunately, the Fairy Godmother, played by MIL's sister, gave my daughter a goody bag "from The Fairy Godmother" consisting of:

  • a fairy wand
  • a tiara
  • a packet of Revels
  • a packet of Love Hearts
  • a packet of Jelly Tots
  • a Drumstick Lolly
  • a packet of Chocolate Buttons
  • a packet of Swizzels
  • a packet of Flumps
  • a Vimto stick
  • a packet of Jelly Beans
  • two packets of Haribos
  • a Refresher Lolly
  • a packet of Frutellas
  • a Double Lolly
  • a packet of Jelly Babies
  • a packet of Parma Violets
What is she trying to do???!!!!

Is she moonlighting as the Tooth Fairy and trying to increase productivity?!?

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Six Ages of Man

It's been a strange half term without my usual list of jobs. I've been trying to rest, I got a few errands done (school shoes and hair cuts), had a slightly unsuccessful family fun day and went back to hospital.

At hospital the consultant was pretty sure that my bronchitis is a post viral thing from a cold I had last November, which should eventually clear up, but just to be sure he's doing lots of test which includes my taking peak flow readings every two hours. TWO HOURS! Doesn't he realise that at work I don't even get time to go to the loo between 8am and 4pm, never mind peak flow readings?! I have to go back with my readings in a month and have lung function tests and allergy tests - and I thought I'd given up taking tests!

On our Family Fun Day we had a trip to the Science Museum, but not Frankie and Benny's because "a whinging girl does not get treats" so it was straight home on the tram amid much weeping and wailing. Well, you have to carry out your threats, don't you?

The sun came out on Thursday, and boy, does it make a difference to how I feel. I turned into a whirling dervish cleaning the kitchen, the cooker, the microwave, I made a cheesecake, I sorted out my passport application, I ordered printer ink, photos and cooking stuff on the internet (if you are interested, I use Cakes, Cookies and Crafts website) and I even ordered flowers and wine for my parents in the hotel they are going to for their anniversary next month.

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How organised am I?

Today daughter has gone on that pantomime trip with MIL, so I find myself sitting here with unfettered access to the laptop without the usual "Can I go on the NASA website now, mummy?" (she wants to be a spaceman, sorry, astronaut, when she grows up). I've caught up on all the blogs I follow, popped over to other PSFers and I've finally got the hang of the British Mummy Bloggers site. Just don't expect me to keep up with all the web stuff once I'm back at work:

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Not really looking forward to going back to school this half term because of two things:

  1. I am still having problems with my breathing, which is not good for a teacher
  2. Our department are being inspected this term and I am worried about the classroom teaching aspect (this is connected to item 1; I would be fine if I could breath properly)
Anyway, no point worrying about stuff you can't do anything about, is there? And there's always Izzy to cheer me up; here's a snippet from this week's conversations with a four year old -

During a conversation about when daughter can have a TV in her bedroom (where did that come from?) she asked what a teenager is, because teenagers have TVs in their bedrooms.

"It's between being a child and an adult. You are a child, then a teenager, then an adult" I explained

"No....." she replied (obviously, a four year old knows better) "You are a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult and then a 'grown up'!"

"Okay, so what are mummy and daddy?" I asked

"Well, mummy, you are a 'grown up'......."

(so far so good)

"and daddy is ..........

................. a teenager"

Out of the mouths of babes!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Photostory Friday - The Hairdressers

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Half term - time for a hair cut.

I always have my hair cut in the school holidays. A trim at half terms and highlights in the 'big' holidays.

However, this time I took daughter with me for her first ever proper haircut (I've been attacking her fringe regularly with a pair of sewing scissors, but felt it was time she had it cut straight by a professional)

I think you'll agree we were both in need of a trim:

So we waited our turn:

Daughter was ever so good having her hair washed and then she let the hairdresser do her magic:


(And we've been playing with the play doh as well. Can you tell?)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

New Shoes

One shoe, two shoes
Daughter needs new shoes

Off we went to the new shoe store

We said to the lady

"She needs new shoes"
She said, "What do you need them for?"

We need shoes for riding scooters
Shoes for playing on computers
Shoes for singers and for tooters

I sell narrow shoes
I sell wide shoes
I sell 'too big on the side' shoes

Have you tried the Manchester store?

One shoe, two shoes
Daughter needs new shoes
Off we went to the Manchester store

We said to the lady
"She needs new shoes"
She said, "What do you need them for?"

We need shoes for walking places
Shoes for running and hopping places
Shoes that fit in all the right places

I sell long shoes
I sell short shoes

I sell 'not the size I thought' shoes

Have you tried the Altrincham store?

One shoe, two shoes
Daughter needs new shoes
Off we went to the Altrincham store

We said to the lady
"She needs new shoes"
She said, "What do you need them for?"

We need shoes for splashing in puddles
Shoes for mud and shoes for cuddles
Shoes that don't leave mums in muddles!

I sell high shoes
I sell low shoes
I sell 'I'm sorry, we've none of those' shoes
Away we went from the Altrincham store

I said to daughter
"But you need school shoes"

She said "I don't care anymore"

"New Shoes" by Working Mum
(with apologies to Jeanne Willis and Margaret Chamberlain)

Sunday, 15 February 2009

It's Half Term, but not as we know it!

It's half term, but not as we know it because ..............

................. I don't have my usual list of jobs!

Working Mum without a Half Term list of jobs? It can't be so. Why not?

Well, I'm having a rest. (Oh, and I'm back to the hospital on Wednesday about my lingering bronchitis, which has a lot to do with why I need the rest, but I won't bore you with tales of my long lasting symptoms)

Anyway we started the holiday with Valentine's Day and daughter embraced it wholeheartedly making cards, pictures, gingerbread hearts and these fairy cakes:

The bright pink buttercream was by her request

I asked her what else she would like to do this week suggesting The Science Museum, Tatton Park, Quarry Bank Mill, Eureka!, Lyme Park, Spaceport, Dunham Massey Hall, World of Glass (anywhere you can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers or belonging to the National Trust - well, there is a credit crunch on!)

Her reply?

Should I be worried?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Blogoversary - time for a 'Have It All Update'

Hard to believe it's a year since I discovered the blogosphere and found an outlet for my rants and drivel about being a working mum in the 21st century!

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If you want to read why I started the blog and what my thoughts were about being a working mum a year ago click here for my first post. Rereading it, I can see all the elements of my life there - stressful work, being ill, (mostly) thoughtful husband, gorgeous daughter and too much housework!

A year on and I am still no nearer to finding any answers to the dilemmas and difficulties facing working mums in the 21st century. Why do we feel we should have it all? Why are we racked with guilt when we try? Why, if we are working full time, are we still doing most of the childcare and housework?

However, despite not finding answers, (or changing the world), I am finding ways to achieve a balance in my life:

I've stopped applying for extra responsibilities at work, I'm just doing my job to the best of my ability and trying to enjoy it.

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I've now got daughter coming to school with me so I can be a proper mum taking her to school, picking her up and helping her with her reading and writing.

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The house is almost finished inside; we've done 10 rooms in two years!

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I've got my working mum strategies re housework, shopping, cooking, etc which seem to be working well.

I'm supplementing my work/wife/mum life with singing, blogging and photography.

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Now .................

........ I just have to do something about this:

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Photostory Friday - Fairy Cakes

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

There's a bit of a trend at the moment for "cupcakes".

"Cupcakes" seems to be an American word for what we in England call "Fairy Cakes" and in our house Fairy Cakes have never gone out of fashion!

Last Saturday daughter announced, "Let's make Fairy Cakes, mummy!"

Now, when she makes Fairy Cakes, she makes Fairy Cakes.

"We have to use the gold cases, mummy. Fairies like gold"


"Can you make gold icing?"

"Well, I can make yellow, with that do?"

"Fairies like yellow"

and so, on.

Finally, the cakes were cool enough to decorate and daughter hit the cupboards looking for pink sprinkles, marshmallows, etc.

Here are the results:

"But why the oranges and lemons?", I asked

"They're the fairies' wings!" she replied, with a hint of exasperation.

Of course, silly me.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Love the Library?

Daughter and I love the library. We go and peruse the books, I read her the stories she chooses, she decides if she likes them, she follows me to the adult section while I choose my books, we have a little chat to the librarian, she encourages daughter in her reading. Saves me a fortune on buying books and gives us a fun morning out.

However, changes have been afoot at our local library.

Ominously they closed for a week and when they opened what did we find? No large desk in the centre of the library with friendly, helpful librarians. No, there were two machines with computer screens and letter box openings with laser beams.

We now have a TECHNO LIBRARY!

So, how does it work?

Well, as far as I can tell it works like this:

The, shall I say, more mature, person in front of you in the queue is totally bamboozled by said machines and calls the librarian who does it for them.

Daughter and I approach the machine, our books won't scan, we call the librarian.

Man behind us returns his books to find he's been fined for no good reason, calls the librarian.

We go to issue our books, one won't scan, we call the librarian.

My MIL and some of her similarly mature friends have stopped using the library because of the machines.

Librarians respond to this by standing next to the machines and asking if anyone needs help.

No, we don't need help with the machines, we just need librarians!

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This is progress?

Monday, 9 February 2009

What makes you feel old?

Normally, I don't worry about age. I just get on with life and try to enjoy whatever age I am, BUT.............................. do you know what is making me feel old at the moment?

Turning 40 this year?


Policemen getting younger?


Teaching children who were born in 1997?


It's this:

Whenever I have to fill in my date of birth on a website I now have to scroll down to find 1969!!!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Another Working Mum Strategy

I've learned, in nearly five years of being a working mum, that you need strategies. You know: clean one room a week, buy clothes that don't need ironing, befriend your oven timer, etc.

Well, this year I'm trying a new strategy:

Normally I do the food shopping on a Saturday morning with daughter in tow (husband works on Saturday morning, goes to football in afternoon so I've no choice but to take her). At times this has been fine; when she was smaller she could go in the trolley, I knew where she was, she couldn't escape, she couldn't get in the way. Then, when she was too big for the trolley she helped me with the shopping, finding what I asked for and tipping it in. Last year she started to write her own list and look for her own items, eg Weetabix, bananas, etc.

However, towards the end of last year she became reluctant to go to Tesco. She whinged and whined. She wanted the toilet half way round. She complained she was tired three quarters of the way round. After getting home, she mithered for hot chocolate while I was unpacking. It became a nightmare!

Now, I usually have Tesco deliver in November and December when my life is so busy I don't have two hours to do the shopping. I can justify the £5 delivery charge as I am working well in excess of 60 hours a week at that time of year. Unfortunately, I can't really justify a weekly delivery charge of £5 just because daughter is a pain (can I?)

But ...........

(here's the new strategy) .......

maybe I can justify it once a fortnight!?

So this term I decided to try and do a fortnightly shop and have it delivered. I have planned our meals for a fortnight at a time. I can freeze bread and milk. I can make meals in advance when the food is delivered and freeze them for the following week. I can use frozen vegetables toward the end of the fortnight (some are better for you than fresh!). The only thing I need to buy within the fortnight is fresh fruit, which I can get from the corner shop that is open after 5pm.

So far, it's working like a breeze! Food arrives every other Friday evening by 7pm and is packed away while daughter is in bed. Saturday mornings have become much more relaxed. I can lie in, have breakfast in my PJs, spend time with daughter doing fun things!!!

And, there's an added bonus that I didn't anticipate:
I can take advantage of the BOGOFs whilst avoiding the impulse buys!

Result: less stress and food bill reduced by about 15%!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Photostory Friday - Dragon Dance

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Last Sunday we went to Manchester for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

We waited patiently in the cold and the snow in Albert Square for the dragon to appear.......


............. at 12.30pm ...........

................. the firecrackers went off and he appeared:

Daughter enjoyed watching him dance around trying to catch the ball:

After the dance, daughter coloured in some Chinese pictures and had her name written in Chinese characters.

Then we went for lunch (courtesy of Tesco Clubcard vouchers - TGFT).

Finally, we walked up to China Town to see the festivities and daughter got her own dragon:

Another Family Fun Day under our belts!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Confidence is the Key

Last night, at choir rehearsals, some of my fellow sopranos were bemoaning the fact that they were struggling with one of the pieces: a very modern piece by Eric Whitaker. One of those pieces where the composer is trying to be clever by fitting as many notes together as possible, creating a cacophony of sound with no harmony whatsoever. It is very difficult to find your note and you've no idea if what you are singing is correct.

"Listen", I said, "There are so many notes at once, it doesn't matter what we sing, as long as we sing it with confidence!"

Later in the rehearsal we approached the piece with renewed vigour and sang our hearts out (to quote Eric Morecambe "all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order"!)

"Well done" said our Musical Director, "That was much more confident than last week!"

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(Hee, hee, hee!)

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow joy for Working Mum

You may have noticed there was a bit of snow in the UK today and it caused havoc. Here's what happened to me:

At 6.30am I checked my school's bad weather helpline - school still open

7.30am I checked my school's website - school open as usual, daughter and I set off

8.00am husband was sent home from work (he works near the Pennines; snowy and hilly) - my school still open, daughter and I battling through traffic to school.

1.30 pm our school buses turned up at lunchtime to take some kids home - school still open, staff stay put.

2.00 pm parents started turning up at school to collect their kids early - school still open, staff stay put.

3.25pm husband collected daughter from school (he doesn't often get the opportunity), popped over to my classroom to collect daughter's wellies and go home to make snowman - I, with my four pupils, have to stay put.

5.00pm after battling with traffic, I finally get home to see snowman daughter and husband have made. I empty my car of two bags full of marking to do this evening. Website says school still open tomorrow.


Update - Tuesday 3 Feb - husband still off work, me and daughter still in school!!!