Tuesday, 30 June 2009

We're saying sorry, but we're not really, we just don't want to be bothered

Today is Speech Day at school, which means that I have the morning off and go in just for the afternoon. Yay!

However, I needed to go and pick up our holiday tickets for next week. Not yay!

So I prised daughter away from CBeebies, argued with her, finally got her out of the house, (okay, I bribed her with a gingerbread Sponge Bob Square Pants from the bakery if she went) and headed off into town.

I found a space in the Pay and Display, paid and displayed and marched daughter off to Thomas Cook.

There, on the door, was the notice

"This branch will not open until lunchtime, sorry for the inconvenience"



That it?

I've given up my morning off, wrestled and bribed a five year old, paid for the car park and you're sorry?

Well, "sorry" doesn't cut it, mate!

After swearing and cursing under my breath, I looked through the window and I saw various Thomas Cook employees 'pottering' about.

Not in a meeting.

Not training.

Just pottering.

I thought that was why they didn't open until 10am. Possibly, they just wanted a morning without inconvenient customers today?

So, being a brave, annoyed and time poor Working Mum, I knocked on the window. Thomas Cook man looked at me incredulously. I beckoned him over.

I very calmly explained my situation:

"I've taken the morning off work to pick up our tickets" (sort of true)

"I've got my daughter with me and I've already paid for the car park, could you just let us in to collect our tickets?"


He let us in, I got the tickets (but not the car hire voucher, which hasn't arrived) and the Euros.

Mission accomplished.

Don't Thomas Cook want customers anymore?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

5 Reasons not to do a Concert

Last night I had a concert. It's not what you think. Nothing went wrong. I didn't faint, forget my music or fall off the stage. In fact, it went very well and was immensly enjoyable.

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

So, why shouldn't you do a concert?

  1. While you are at the concert your husband will decide to buy a new beach tent for your holidays from the internet.
  2. He will attempt to buy it with your credit card (so that you get the Tesco points)
  3. Not knowing your security password on your credit card, he will accidentally reset it and change it to something else that he immediately forgets.
  4. You will spend 20 minutes today on the phone to Tesco Credit Card explaining what your husband has done.
  5. You will be transferred to the fraud department and spend 20 minutes explaining to them what your husband has done and then allow them to talk you through the process of resetting your password and setting up a separate security account for your husband.

And singing in The Manchester Chorale is supposed to be keeping me sane!

Friday, 26 June 2009

It's the taking part, right?

Yesterday was daughter's Sports Day. I was not teaching in the afternoon so I begged not to be put on a cover lesson and was lucky enough to be able to attend and cheer her on (they got me for cover today instead).

She tried her best. She had fun. She got a lot of "Well done" stickers for her efforts.

At the end she asked me,

"Why didn't I come first in anything, mummy?"

I replied,

"Because you inherited your mummy's sporting genes, sweetheart"

Daughter gamely coming last in the sack race.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

As if I haven't enough on my plate ...........

As my last post suggested I have been extremely busy for the last few weeks. Also, husband has a big project on that requires him to use the laptop every night and every weekend for every waking minute, so I have been a bit out of the loop with the blogosphere and am now 378 posts behind in my Google Reader. I may never catch up. Have prised the laptop off him for 20 minutes this evening to write this post:

At work it's been all exams, reports, updating schemes and resources for next year, visiting children on Work Experience, giving 'taster' lessons to Year 5's, scoring for Sports Day and an INSET day.

Now there's a story.

The INSET day was on ICT training and, as one of the members of staff who is quite au fait with a computer, I already knew everything that was being taught that day, so guess who volunteered to step into the breach when one of the trainers had a last minute emergency?

Yes, that would be me and my big mouth.

So I had to prepare a session on "Creating Interactive Resources for use in the Classroom" and then teach it to 60 members of staff (including the Headmaster, so no pressure there, then!) over four sessions in one day. Why? Why? Why did I do that?

Anyway, I chose to teach them hyperlinks (yes, some don't know how to do this), Photostory (great for generating discussions in the classroom), Hot Potatoes (software for creating interactive quizzes) and lastly, but by no means least, the emerging educational use of BLOGS!!

Ha, ha! Me teaching people how to use blogs!

Now, how do I know about that, I wonder?

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Working Mum nearing the end of term

Is it bad to be so tired that you fall asleep in a cafe whilst waiting for your food to arrive?

Is it better or worse if that "cafe" is your daughter's and she's the chef?

Yep, that's what I did today.

The chef wasn't amused!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Rocket Girl

I've been having some problems with daughter lately. She's been very clingy when I've dropped her at school. She says she doesn't want me to go. The teacher has had to peel her off me and one day daughter broke free and came running down the corridor after me crying "Don't go, mummy!". Some mornings she says she doesn't feel well. Classic symptoms of something wrong at school.

It's been irritating and annoying and now it's uspetting. For two terms I've had a daughter who loved school and couldn't wait to get there each day. Now she doesn't want to go. I've spoken to her teacher who assures me that she is fine once I've gone, but that doesn't stop the clinginess in the morning. I couldn't get to the bottom of it.

Last weekend, while I was out at a concert, husband managed to get to the bottom of it:

"The boys are mean to me"

Yes, I know we've had this one before, but this time she says one of them has punched her in the stomach. She says they kick and punch and she doesn't like it.

So, off I went to talk to her teacher again and explain what we've found out. She was very sympathetic and said that there is a problem with some boys' behaviour, but it is being addressed. She said that the parents have been in and sanctions are being imposed including keeping the boys in at break.

But how do I break this habit of clinging and crying?

Well, I had a brainwave. While I was on the Early Learning Centre website buying daughter a new paddling pool to replace the one I wrecked last weekend when I fell onto it (that's another story) I saw this:

Daughter has played with this every time we've been in the shop and begged for one for herself, but harsh mummy thinks she has enough toys and has said no on several occasions.

Ah ha!

I quickly ordered one and have told her that if she can do five mornings without clinging, it's hers.

So far we've had two mornings and what's happened?

"Bye mummy, see you later!"

Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

2009 Kindness of Strangers Tour

When American author Mike Harling of the blog Postcards From Across the Pond and the book of the same name:

suggested a virtual tour of the world via people's blogs, I thought "Here's a chance to show off the fair city of Manchester" so I invited him over as part of his 2009 Kindness of Strangers Tour:

* * * * * * * *

Manchester – Working Mum on the Verge

Clearly I need a better tour organizer.

Yesterday I was in Northampton, Massachusetts, today I’m in Manchester and soon I’ll be back in Massachusetts, not twenty miles from where I just was, to visit Mickey in Granby. Wait until I see my publisher! Not that they had anything to do with it, I’m just saying, wait ‘til I see them—they’re booked next and they live in Spain.

But today I’m in Manchester, the city that, to Americans, is the home of Daphne Moon, housekeeper and love interest to the Drs Crane in the popular sit-com, Frasier. To the rests of the world it’s the home of Manchester United, and to the people who live here, it’s just home. It seems a nice enough place, but it has been the most difficult location to pin down. My intention was to hit all the counties in Britain and I had a hell of a scavenger hunt through piles of virtual information trying to find out what county Manchester is in before it became apparent that it isn’t. In a county, that is. Manchester is an independent municipality, like Brighton, but without as much beachfront property.

It was really nice of Working Mum to take me in and let me post on her site. She is—the clue is in the title—a working mum, so it’s hectic enough around here with the juggling of jobs and quality child-time without having a perfect stranger underfoot posting on your blog. It reminds me of when I was Mr. Mom, working nights as an Identification Clerk for the Division of Criminal Justice and an occasional itinerant musician, and taking care of three young boys during the day, which involved housework and a lot of driving to (and helping out at) nursery school and such. It is not a time of my life I would chose to live over; I’ve grown accustom to at least 6 hours of contiguous sleep a night.

And strange as it seems, the itinerant musician side-line was actually responsible for my eventual relocation across the pond. Fans of my web site already know this, but since you’re a new audience, I can trot the story out yet again:

During the time I played music, I was booked into a number of Irish bars and became exposed to all things Celtic. I found I rather liked it and, in later years (read: when the kids were grown and I got my life back) I took up Irish step dance, and then the bagpipes. The next logical step seemed to be a trip to Ireland, so I booked a two-week vacation and set out on my own to explore the west coast of the Emerald Isle. While hiking through the hills, I met an English woman. Six months later, I was married and living in Sussex. (Those of you keeping track will note that I have left out a wife along the way; but that’s another story. If you’re interested, you’ll have to read the previous post.)

I’m going to wrap this up now; despite her busy schedule and my unremitting jet-lag Working Mum has promised to take me on a tour of her fair city.

I hope we get to see Daphne Moon’s house.

* * * * * * * * *

Me again, WM. Well, that's a great start, Daphne Moon and Manchester United! I see have a lot of work to do!

Firstly, Manchester has several football teams and we all know which one my husband supports:

(Poor girl doesn't stand a chance!)

Secondly, it has several museums and art galleries including the fantastic Museum of Science and Industry and the state of the art "Urbis":

There are theatres galore often showcasing new productions before they hit the West End, we have the largest IMAX cinema screen in Europe and of course, the world class concert venue, The Bridgewater Hall, home to the Halle Orchestra and the BBC Philarmonic Orchestra:

Following Manchester's very successful hosting of the 2002 Commonwealth Games we have the Velodrome, Eastlands Stadium and the amazing Aquatic Centre.

For shopping we have the revamped city centre (following the last IRA bomb in 1996) which, in the sunshine (yes, the sun does shine in Manchester) could be any cosmopolitan European city and for when it rains (and yes, it does) we have The Trafford Centre:

And if you wish to stay in Manchester,(and frankly, why wouldn't you after my sales pitch?), there are many boutique and five star hotels including the famous Midland Hotel and the new Hilton Deansgate:

So, what are you waiting for?

I expect to see Manchester overrun with bloggers this summer.

Including you, Mike!

PS Sorry, I haven't a clue what's going on with the fonts in this post!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

It's not a competition!

I just need to vent about my MIL. Yesterday, Saturday, she turned up unanounced just before lunch, as is her wont. She seems to think that it's okay to pop in on a Saturday because I'm not at work. However, Saturday is when I have to do all the jobs I couldn't do in the week because I am at work.

Anyway, she turned up as I was trying to unpack eight Tesco bags, peg out a load of washing and put another load in while trying to make milkshake for daughter. She sat at the kitchen table awaiting her cup of coffee (don't tell me to ask her to make a drink, it wouldn't happen).

Trying to make conversation, I told her how well daughter is doing at school with her reading, and that her teacher has bought some new reading books for her because she's well ahead. I wasn't boasting, I was just telling her because I thought she would be interested in her grandchild's achievements.

Her response?

"Well, Ellie's the same" (her other granddaughter)
"She's always top of the class. It runs in the family; Lisa was the same" (her daughter)

Why can't she just say:

"Well done, Izzy. I'm very proud of you"?

It's not a competition!

Friday, 12 June 2009

It's the thought that counts

This is typical of what happens in my Working Mum life:

For Christmas my husband bought me a voucher for a massage at a local beauty salon. Lovely idea. Just what I needed. Very perceptive. Well done him. Big pat on the back and mega brownie points.

I've just realised that next week the voucher expires.

I work full-time, I have a five year old daughter and my husband works on Saturday mornings!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

When can I go for a massage?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Working Mum Strategies - Dinner Parties

It's all busy, busy, busy in the Working Mum household at the moment. I've been marking hundreds of school exams and am now writing reports. Husband has commandeered the laptop for important project every night (managed to get it tonight while he has a break to watch the football) so I'm now trying to catch up on reading my favourite blogs. And I've got a concert on Saturday and still haven't memorised the Zulu Freedom Song (in Zulu, of course)!

In the middle of all the mayhem, husband invited some friends over for a meal last weekend - like you do!

Well, I love cooking and entertaining and, before daughter arrived, I would tackle elaborate recipes requiring a whole day in the kitchen. Not so practical now. So, I need a Working Mum strategy (this 'Have it All' dream only works if you take a few shortcuts). Now what I've discovered is, you can get a away with an easy starter and a one-pot main course if you wow them with dessert.

It's just psychology!

You see, since dessert is the last course, it's the one they'll remember, so it's worth making it special. But how special? Well, time and energy are still in short supply in the Working Mum house, so dessert has to be like my Christmas Cake; simple, yet stunning. And preferably one you can make in advance so you can make it when it suits you, not while your guests are sitting in the dining room waiting and adding to the pressure!

So I made this:

Unbelievably easy to make, yet left my guests wondering

"How does she do it?"

He he he!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Cracking Idea Gromit?

When daughter asks Daddy to play with her, he does. He goes all out building lego cities, racing crash cars, making elaborate railways, playing Buckaroo, etc. Outside he makes fantastic obstacle courses for her, sets up the welly wanging course and goes wading in the brook outside our house. He doesn't see the washing, dust, ironing, dishes, gardening, etc around him. He gives her his full attention.

When daughter asks me to play it's usually:

"In a minute"

"When I've put the washing in"

"When I've pegged the washing out"

"When the dinner's in the oven"

"When I've hoovered the lounge"

I hadn't realised how she felt about this until our recent trip to the Science Museum.

In the Wallace and Gromit Cracking Ideas exhibition children were encouraged to think of their own inventions, draw them on a piece of paper and send them to Wallace.

This was daughter's invention:

The Attentioner

Notice the 'prodder' for getting mummy's attention and the 'grabber' for getting hold of her and bringing her to daughter?

Now I've got another thing to feel guilty about!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Photostory Friday - The London Eye

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

This is the only photo I took whilst riding on the London Eye last week.

Yes, the only one.


Because when I booked the tickets I was suffering from a temporary bout of 'acrophobia amnesia'.

In other words, I forgot that I don't like heights!

I took the photo 30 seconds into the flight, then I realised that I was going to follow that capsule up into the blue and I spent the rest of the flight sitting rigid with fear and gripping the seat.

And this isn't an isolated incident. I also forgot this fact when I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower (never again), the Duomo in Florence (scared witless on the thin stone ledge on the inside of the dome), the Empire State Building (I should never have gone outside), Sugar Loaf Mountain (luckily I went the week before the cable car broke), in a helicopter over the Iguacu Falls (I had to sit in the middle seat) and the list goes on.

You'd think I'd know by now, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

In my School Holiday I went to London ...

.......... and I saw Peter Pan:

paddled in the Princess Diana Fountain with my Daddy:

went to the Tower of London, saw the Queen's jewels and met a Beefeater:

chased pigeons in Trafalgar Square:

went on the London Eye:

spent seven hours in the Science Museum (yes, really, seven hours, mummy counted) where I saw Wallace and Gromit:

and went to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard. The Queen wasn't in, but on the way there I met one of her guards:

but the best bit about my holiday in London was ...........

...... having hot chocolate and a chocolate muffin for breakfast!

(Yes, that last one was what she put in her 'news' book at school!)

Monday, 1 June 2009

Three things I learned in London

Yes, I'm back; I survived four days in London with husband and daughter and will blog about it later.

To be going on with, here are three things I learned in London:
  1. Hilton hotels will charge you £8.85 for moving, just moving, three items in the minibar to make room for your tub of raspberries.

  2. There are wider entrance/exit barriers on the underground for parents with children: we only learned this on our last day after four days of my being whacked in the chest by the barrier! (I know you London mummies are laughing your heads off at that one, but how was I to know?)

  3. If you don't like heights, you won't like the London Eye (I don't and I didn't)

More later .............