Thursday, 30 April 2009

I'm a working mum, get me out of here!

Thank you for all your lovely comments about daughter's birthday. It really was worth the effort to see the look of delight on her face.

The very next day I was back to school after the Easter Holiday to find that my conscientious and hard working exam classes had spent the previous two weeks working their way through the past exam papers I had given them and so presented me with about 20 hours worth of marking. I didn't think they would do it all!! Damn those perfect pupils! (He he he)

Combine that with a Parents' Evening last night (lovely parents, very appreciative and supportive, but also very talkative - didn't leave school until 8.45pm) and I've barely had time to do the washing, never mind blog!


However, I've managed to dig my way out of the mound of paper to write a quick post to say I'll be back when the exam classes have gone on study leave and normal service can resume.

Then again, I'm going out with the 'mums' next Friday...... could be some blog material in that!

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See you soon!

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Big Five

Yes, this weekend was daughter's 5th Birthday!

And what a lucky birthday girl she was!

On Saturday she had a train themed party for school friends at a local garden centre that has a miniature steam train. After some party games and dancing, they all trotted off to ride on the "Birthday Special" shouting "Happy Birthday Izzy!" whenever they went though a tunnel. Back to the party suite for refreshments and the blowing out of the candles (Thomas the Tank Engine Cake), then more games and another ride on the train. Party bags were duly handed out together with the activity books and a piece of cake. Great fun was had by all!

On Sunday, her actual birthday, she was up at 6.30am itching to open her presents. The look on her face when she saw her new bicycle was priceless! She was a very lucky girl getting lots of fabulous presents to play with. Most of which had been opened and played with by 9.00am!



Then, in the afternoon, family and friends came for some fun in the garden (the new cricket set went down well) and a party afternoon tea:

More blowing out of candles:

(Barbie Cake this time)

and a very tired and happy five year old was taken off to bed.

We weren't far behind her!

In the night she woke up and I went to see to her. While she was drifting off again I asked her what was the best part of her birthday.........

........"All of it" she said.

Well, it was worth the effort then!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Powers of Observation

Just look at "Who is Working Mum?" there in my sidebar.

Go on, take a look.

Can you see what's changed?

No?

Okay, I'll tell you.

I now have a 5 year old daughter!

(More about her birthday later)

Friday, 24 April 2009

Spot the difference

Well, daughter and I had a lovely time this week. My fears were unfounded. We didn't have to visit every heritage place in the Northwest and we didn't have to spend a fortune. I even managed to have a rest sitting on the patio drinking a cup of tea! Not at all the hectic, mithering, stressful time I had last week.

At the beginning of the week daughter kept asking "What are we doing now, mummy?" - a question that husband would normally answer with "swimming/park/cycling/olympics/badminton/football". I just said, "I don't know, what do you think? Any ideas?"

Gradually she slowed down her hectic pace to one of pottering about drawing pictures, practising handwriting and reading books on the patio (while I drank a cup of tea!). Of course, we've done other stuff, but at a gentler pace, no rushing from one thing to another. We spent a very special 20 minutes just sitting in her playhouse in the garden having a lovely chat. I've even taught her to play cricket. Well, it was St George's Day this week - we had to embrace our Englishness!

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She's also learned to occupy herself with her amazing imagination - she made a lovely worm stew (for worms, not made of worms) while I did some gardening. And she drew a fantastic scene from "Mary Poppins" with Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins floating in on her umbrella, Bert and the Sweeps dancing on the roof tops, Jane and Michael flying kites. Now that took some concentration!

With a little encouragement and some perseverance she has also learned to ride her bicycle without stabilisers! (Good job really, she's getting a new bike for her birthday on Sunday and it doesn't have them)

So, how come this week has been much more relaxed than last week?

Well, there's been no incessant sport on the tv or radio (that alone raises my blood pressure), no "what's the plan for today?" at breakfast, no mad filling of every minute with things to do.

Aha, that's right, husband was back at work!

Could that be a factor?

Better not to question it.

Too much ice cream?

Like my mum, I am partial to some good quality ice cream. I seem to have passed this on to my daughter who hovers over the premium ice creams in Tesco looking expectantly at "Baked Alaska": vanilla ice cream containing marshmallow swirls and white chocolate polar bears.


"Bohemian Raspberry" is my current favourite.





This morning we were making 'monster faces' using eyes, nose and mouth stickers and drawing on horns, bolts through the neck, etc. After we'd finished colouring in the backgrounds I asked what she was going to call our two monsters. The reply?



"Ben and Jerry"!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Trial by mothers

I found myself in a very difficult position today. I had taken daughter to a playdate arranged by another mother from her class and was sitting making polite conversation with the other mums when they started to talk about something that had allegedly happened at school.

Now, remember I work at the school that daughter attends. I know the school, its staff and its workings from the inside. I know how hard all the staff work, how they put body and soul into helping pupils and how pupils are repeatedly given the benefit of the doubt and second chances, as children should be.

I was appalled at what these mums were saying. They had taken an incident, made assumptions, added suppositions and hung, drawn and quartered the school for its actions. None of them were there. None of them knew what had happened. None of them seemed to think that mattered. They made the story up for themselves, believed it and were willing to spread it. Having some knowledge of the workings of the school, I knew that their story could not be the true version, but I didn't know the true version myself.

I had two choices:

  1. Defend the school and point out that none of them knew for certain what had gone on and try to convince 12 other mums that they did not know the truth.
  2. Walk away towards the playing children, bite my tongue and leave them to it.
I took the second option. Not out of cowardice, I had spent quite a while listening to them and deciding whether to wade in, but out of the knowledge that when mums concoct a story, you cannot change their minds. Also, it would then put me in a position of being 'me against them' and jeapordise further playdates for daughter. Talk about between the devil and the deep blue sea!

However, I was shocked at how quickly and vehemently they had ganged up against the school and its teachers. Having been on the receiving end of this sort of thing a couple of times, I now know how it happens. I also know why my daughter's teacher says that if we a have gripe, just talk to her, don't spread it around the playground. Why are these mums so willing to believe the worst of a school dedicated to helping their children?

My daughter the empathiser

We were sitting in the study yesterday sorting out things for her birthday party and daughter was helping by putting things in party bags: one pencil, one key ring, some stickers, one notepad, Haribos, Milky Way Stars.

She suddenly stopped and said, "Is Sam coming to my party?"

"Yes, he is"

"Well...... he can have those" she said, pointing to the Haribos, "but I don't think he can have those" pointing to the Milky Way Stars. She's quite right, Sam is allergic to dairy products.

"That's right, lovey" I said, "What shall we do?"

"Can he have two Haribos?"

"That's a good idea"

She put two Haribos in a party bag for him.

I'm so proud of her!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Five minutes' peace, please.

Daughter and I have been off school for ten days now. We've had a lot of fun. We've been to Dunham Massey for a picnic and done the Easter trail. We've done essential shopping for summer school dresses (not so much fun, more whinging). She spent a day at the school Holiday Club whilst husband and I did shopping for her birthday: party bag contents, two birthday cakes (don't ask) and a new bicycle. We had an absolutely fantastic time at the IMAX cinema in Manchester (largest screen in Europe) watching "Monsters vs Aliens" in 3-D! We've gardened, washed the cars, baked cakes, made spoon aliens and drawn lots of pictures. I'm exhuasted.

And I've got another week of this!

Holidays used to mean rest and relaxation. Not any more. As a four year old only child daughter needs constant entertaining from 6.30am until 7.00pm. Even if she goes into a room on her own for a few minutes I can't relax. Whilst I was cooking lunch today she went into the lounge and by the time I followed her, all the cushions from the sofas and most of the contents of the bookshelves were all over the floor arranged beautifully around a blanket!

This afternoon husband went to the football (again) leaving me and daughter together (again). We did some gardening until she was bored, we washed the windows until she was bored, we played "Olympics". I pushed her on the swing. We played badminton. We planted seeds (well, she put a few trowels of compost in a seed tray and I did the rest). We blew bubbles. I did not sit down for four hours. Eventually, absolutely exhausted, I made myself a cup of tea and sat on the patio.

"I just want five minutes peace" I said, "Just play there with your scooter and football for five minutes while I drink my tea"

"Mummeeeeeeee, I'm bored. I'm hungry, when's tea? I need help with this. I've lost Tigger. Where's daddy? Is it tea time? Can I wash my scooter? I need a tea towel."


What am I going to do with her for the next week?


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Aha!

I know.............

................ she's a dab hand at removing wallpaper!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Where have all the manners gone?

Getting to the end of my tether now with ill-mannered parents who think "RSVP" is just a decoration on an invitation (See? Getting sarcastic about it now, too!). This week I have tried to chase the seven people who have failed to reply to the invitation to daughter's birthday party (which I sent out two weeks earlier). I have left messages on voicemails, sent texts and e-mails.

Some have now replied. One said that they didn't know yet! I said that I needed to know now and then they said yes, they will come. Were they waiting to see if something better came up? One even tried to make me feel that I was in the wrong for trying to extract an answer!! Two have yet to materialise and let me know either way. They are probably away on holiday, but didn't think to let me know before they went.

The venue phoned me today to confirm numbers and to pay for the party. So I have paid for those who have replied to say that they are coming. I don't want to pay an extra £30 for children that may or may not turn up. If the final two parents get round to phoning me, do you think I can say that they are too late and the party is booked and paid for? Or do I contact the venue to see if I can add them to the list? What if they just turn up on the day? No games, train ride, food or party bag for their child?! Do you think it is reasonable to let them know that they are too late to attend now?

Help!

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What do I do?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Because we're worth it

We had to pay for our Summer Holiday this week.

I hate paying for holidays. All that money saved up over the past year gone in a flash. I keep thinking of all that we could do with that money: new bannister and spindles, new interior doors, change my car, get the driveway paved, stock the garden, etc, etc.

This year the holiday is costing us more than ever because husband announced that we were going abroad. No more self catering in country cottages. We're off to Menorca to a five star hotel with pool, beach and restaurants.

But is it worth the cost?

Especially in these straightened economic times.

Would we be better saving the money and going to Wales again?

Hang on .............

........ this was our summer holiday last year:

Husband and daughter braving the beach in Pembrokeshire.

Yep, I think it's worth it!

Sensible or Control Freak? You decide.

The water filter in the fridge needed changing this week. I ordered a new one and it duly arrived. Husband proceeded to change it as usual.

"Can I see how you do that?" I asked

"Why?" he said.

"Because I don't know how you do it"

"You don't need to, I do it"

"But if anything happened to you I'd need to know how to change the water filter"

I thought that was a pretty sensible reason.

"Yes, because if something happens to me, changing the water filter will be your biggest problem" he said, sarcastically.

I left him to change the water filter.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

I'm Working Mum and I'm organising a children's party.

There should be a support group; "Children's Parties Anonymous".

I didn't know it would be this stressful. I thought I had it sussed (see my post Saving my Sanity). I booked the venue, they sent me invitations and I sent them out. Simple.

No! It is not!

Now I'm waiting for parents to reply.

Two parents replied quickly to say that they couldn't come because they are away (daughter's birthday falls at the end of our Easter Holiday). A few others have replied since to say they can't come because they are away on holiday, at a wedding, etc. Five are able to come. About eight haven't bothered to reply and it's a fortnight since I sent out the invitations. I have to give final numbers this week. Why don't people reply?

Now I'm starting to panic.

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A party with no children.

Not good.

Then there's the cake issue. She wants a train cake, a car cake, a Manchester City cake, a Roary cake, a Monsters Inc cake, a Barbie cake, .......... Why won't she settle on one?

Whichever I get, it'll be the wrong one!

Then there's the dreaded Party Bags issue. After talking to a few other mums we agreed that party bags are horrendous. Lots of tat to lose around the house or in the car. Sweets and chocolate that children devour before you've had chance to look in the bag and confiscate it. I suggested a parting gift of a book and a piece of cake. "Great!" said the other mums. So I purchased some lovely activity books to give to the kids and Thomas napkins to wrap the cake.

"Not great" said Izzy.

Well, what she actually said was,

"Why am I not having party bags? Everyone has party bags. Why am I the only one not having party bags? I want party bags!"

You get the gist. So now husband, who is very susceptible to emotional blackmail, has gone out in search of Thomas party bags and suitable tat to put in them. I don't know if he's doing right or wrong.

Who invented party bags anyway?!

Then MIL complained that we haven't invited her other grandchildren to the party. (They live in Yorkshire and are coming for daughter's actual birthday). We tried to explain that this party was for school friends. Not good enough. She's now sulking.

Friends and family keep phoning us to ask what to buy her, which is very kind, but remember Toy City?

I'll tell you something ..........

....... organising our wedding wasn't this stressful!!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Know your place WM

Yesterday daughter was poorly. She must have caught a bug. She complained of a tummy ache and after breakfast she was sick, sick, sick. We still went to my parents' as planned, but she was sick on the way and sick when we got there. She didn't want to do gardening with Grandad. She didn't want to play games with Grandma. She just wanted her mummy.

She stuck to me like a limpet. She lay on my knee and fell asleep for most of the day. At one point I asked her if she'd like to go to up to bed as I'd taken her PJ's with us for the journey home.

"Only with you" she feebly replied.

She fell asleep next to me on the sofa, again.

Oh, it was nice to be wanted.



This morning she woke at 6am to the shout of:

"EASTER BUNNY'S BEEN!"

(Husband lays a trail of rabbit footprints from her bed all round the house which she follows to find the various places where Easter Bunny has left her eggs)

After breakfast she asked to watch some CBeebies.

"Okay" I said, putting the TV on and sitting next to her.

"Why don't you go and talk to Daddy?" she said.

Yep, she's better.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Screw your courage to the sticking post, WM!

Well, I have finally broken up for Easter and, as usual, I find it hard to adjust from term time to holiday time. This afternoon daughter has gone to church with MIL and husband is going playing football. Two hours on my own. Unheard of! What shall I do? A cup of tea and an episode of Desperate Housewives? Tidy the garden and plant my peas? Lie on the bed and read my book? No, I haven't wound down enough for that yet. I need to be busy. I need a project.

I know, it's time to start on the hall, stairs and landing. After two and a half years of renovating this wreck of a house, we have completed ten rooms and now this is the last part of the inside of the house to be tackled. Huge job - replace spindles and bannisters, replace interior doors, replace radiators, replace architrave and skirting boards, replace broken floorboards, have new front door and frame fitted, completely replaster entire area, paint in a lovely light colour and then finally, a new carpet. What is stopping me?

I need to find the courage to attack .............. the axminster!!!!!!



This horrendous axminster carpet has been in the house for fifty years. It is old, threadbare and dangerously slippy on the stairs, but it is hanging on and refusing to budge. Obviously laid in the days before gripper rods, it is nailed to the floorboards with lethal nails that work loose and fly about with alarming consequences. Never walk barefoot in the hall!

It is going to be a battle of wills.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Working Mum's Guide to TV Watching

Last night husband announced that he was going to watch the football on the big TV in the lounge. Apparently, I had no choice because I' m usually at choir rehearsals on Tuesday evening so shouldn't even be in the house. This is his time and he watches the football.

"Okay" I said, "I'll put a couple of episodes of 'Lark Rise to Candleford' on DVD and watch them upstairs"

I put a blank DVD in the machine and proceded to format it and download the programmes onto the disc.

"The football!" he shouted as I changed channels to work through the menus to download to DVD.

I finished my stuff and put ITV back on, then I looked at the Radio Times.

"Ooo, there's a 'Marple 'on in 10 minutes" I said, "I think I'll record that"

I then went to 'Guide' and proceded to set the recorder to record Marple.

"The football's started!" he said, getting exasperated.

I put ITV back on, took my DVD out of the machine and went upstairs. The DVD didn't work in the TV upstairs.

"I must have done something wrong" I thought and toddled downstairs again to rerecord it.

I changed the TV to the DVD recorder and started to download again.

"THE FOOTBALL!!" he practically screamed.

"Okay, I'll put ITV on the DVD channel" I said and did so. While it was downloading I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

"WHAT'S HAPPENING?" he shouted from the lounge, "IT'S CHANGED CHANNELS!"

I walked into the lounge to find the TV on ITV4, not ITV.

"Oh, it's changed itself ready to record 'Marple' " I said (I'm the only one who understands technology in our house)

"I give up" he said, and went upstairs to watch the football.

I lay full length on the comfy sofa with my cup of tea and two Hob Nobs watching 'Lark Rise to Candleford' on the big TV:


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Mission accomplished!
(He he he!)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Show and Tell

I am still at school. I think we are the only school in the UK still in lessons until Wednesday. We think the 'powers that be' looked at the calendar and mistakenly arranged our holidays according to the date of Greek Orthodox Easter, rather than the good old C of E one! Such is life. At least I don't go back to school until the 27th April!! Yippeeee!

Anyway, this week's 'show and tell' for daughter was "My favourite song"

What would she choose?

She toyed with Abba (Mamma Mia), Duffy (Mercy) and Gilbert O'Sullivan (Matrimony).
(She has eclectic tastes)

She wavered over a few on the Disney CD.

Husband brought to the discussion: The Manchester City CD (football chants galore)

I offered up: The Manchester Chorale's "Northern Lights" CD (featuring mummy)

She still wasn't sure.

I hatched a plan .............

.... for the last week I have sung "Lullaby of Birdland" to her after her bedtime story.


Last night it was between City and The Manchester Chorale. Both were labelled and placed by the book bag in the hall.


Today came, what did she choose? ............................





.......................... The Manchester Chorale! .......................





............... featuring mummy singing "Lullaby of Birdland"!


Ah, the power of suggestion!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Ladybird, Ladybird

The day of the Ugly Bug Ball Assembly arrived. Daughter's class were very excited as they dressed up as minibeasts ready to show the rest of the school what they had learned about bugs.

Here is Izzy in her (quickly ordered from e-bay) ladybird costume:



Parents were allowed to go and watch a replay on Tuesday morning. Two colleagues kindly offered to look after my form and my first class for five minutes so that I could go.

It was delightful. The explorers walked through the garden with their magnifying glasses. The flowers said their bit and then stepped aside to reveal the insects. Each insect told us something about themselves.

Izzy said her part then sat down and beamed at me. I gave her the 'thumbs up'.

That's when I saw one of my colleagues at the side of the hall, doubled up laughing at me and my thumbs.

Well, I was a parent!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The difference between boys and girls

We have another concert tonight. A quick "Carmina Burana", nothing strenuous. Reminded me of something in the concert we did a few weeks ago; that our musical director (who is female) has a subconscious view about the difference between the men and the women in the choir. It was very subtle, but it was there. See if you can spot it:

During the concert there was a spot where only the ladies were singing and another where only the men were peforming. Now, we rehearsed these pieces separately so we did not know what the other group were singing.

The ladies sang Holst's "Hymns from the Rig Veda". A set of pieces in four movements transcribed from the Sanskrit and known as some of the most difficult but beautiful music ever written for female voices. Close harmony, tricky time signatures, awkward intervals and a feat of stamina at the end. It took a lot of concentration, skill and talent to perform this work to concert standard.

And the men?

Well they sang .......

"Goodnight Sweetheart"!!

Nuff said.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Conversations with a four year old - the one about the messy table

The other night I was busy trying to cook two meals at once - one for that evening's repast and one to put in the oven on the timer the next day - when daughter asked could she play with her play doh.

"Yes, lovey", I replied, glad of something to keep her amused while I rushed around the kitchen like a whirling dervish.

I didn't really take much notice of what she was doing until tea was ready and I turned round to look at the kitchen table.

Play doh everywhere!

"Tea's ready", I said, "You need to clear the table."

She took one look at the mess on the table and declared,

"We'll eat in the dining room"!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Why I love teaching, no, really, I do.

I was waiting for my first class to arrive today. They started to drift in when suddenly Sam appeared holding his nose, blood everywhere, saying,

"He hit me! He hit me!"

"Who hit you?" I asked.

"Ben hit me!"

"Well, you go to the nurse and I'll speak to Ben"

I grabbed Ben and tried to find out what had gone on, left my class some work and ran round to the nurse's office to check on Sam. No sign of him.

"Oh my goodness, I've lost a bleeding pupil!!" I thought.

(That's literally bleeding, not an expletive)

I bumped into the Deputy Head and said, "I've got an incident and I've lost the victim"

At that moment Sam appeared, completely clean and realised I was with the Deputy Head.

"It was fake blood, Mrs Working Mum" he said, very sheepishly, then very quietly, "April Fool"

The Deputy Head looked at me, I looked at the Deputy Head.

Sam looked embarrassed.

"Well, Sam", I said, in my best teacher voice, "It's a good job I've got a sense of humour"

and promptly burst out laughing:

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That's the second April Fools' Day they've got me!!

Grrrr!

Why I'm playing the lottery this weekend

Okay. This isn't funny anymore. How much more bad stuff can I take? In the last week I've smashed a crystal wine glass, lost the Michael Buble CD I got for Christmas and broken the bedroom blind. However, that's nothing compared to yesterday's bit of bad luck:

Yesterday morning at 7.30am I left the house to drive to work only to find that someone had kicked the hell out of my car round the petrol cap. Obviously trying to steal my petrol.

Aaaarhgh!!!!!!

I phoned the police to report it who told me not to clean the footprints off because they may come and look at them. How will they discover the culprit from the tread of his Nikes?

Phoned the insurance company who will come and take my car away to repair it, but it will cost me the £125 excess.

Aaaargh!!!!!

So, why am I playing the lottery this weekend?

Because my luck has to change!