Sunday, 28 February 2010

Fiscal Studies for Five Year Olds

When I was a little girl my mum gave me pocket money and taught me about the value of money (she had worked in a bank before getting married). She taught me about saving for things I wanted (and thinking if I really did want them in the process), about loans (to be paid back to her with interest) if I couldn't wait (I soon learned I didn't like loans!), budgeting when I went to university and saving for a rainy day.

I've always been really grateful for it and am sure her financial teaching has contributed to my living within my means and being debt free (I still can't bear the thought of taking out a loan and paying interest!). For a child of Thatcher, I didn't have the "I want it, I deserve it" mentality that has led so many of my generation into severe debt.

So I thought it would be prudent to do the same with daughter.

For the last year or so she has had some 'pocket money' each week which she puts in her money box. At first she just liked having it, playing with it, counting out how many coins she had.

Over the last few months she has realised that she can use it to buy things.

When we go out, if she asks for something like a toy or magazine I just say "Have you enough pocket money?" and if she has, she can have it. (Pocket money is great for stopping the mithering)

Like my mum, I thought I would not censor what she wants to buy, she can choose what she wants (she also needs to learn about "buyer's remorse"!)

Last week we went to Toys R Us where she wanted a rather expensive pony and rider toy. She had just enough pocket money, so she got it.

That night I found her crying in bed.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"I haven't got any pocket money left", she wailed, "I can't buy any more toys"

I have to admit that at this point I was thinking, "Yes! She's learned there isn't a never ending pot"

"Well, you have to save up again" I explained and left it at that.

This weekend her second tooth fell out and the tooth fairy came.

This morning she said, "Mummy, I've got lots of money now"

"Yes lovey, that's called a windfall"

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Hope springs eternal

Feeling much better after my day off (yes, I went back in on Friday). Good job I am because I went to visit a friend today in hospital in a High Dependency Unit where there are so many restrictions I wasn't sure they'd let me in. Luckily, they did.

He was in Hope Hospital in Manchester, which I had heard of, but never visited. "Aptly named", I thought. So I set off, following my friend's wife's instructions along the M602 and followed the signs for "Hope Hosptial". All well and good.

Then the signs disappeared. I was somewhere in Salford looking for a bloody great hospital.

I found one, called "Salford Royal Hospital"

"Can't be two large hospitals in Salford", I thought, and promptly entered this one.

Luckily, it was the right one.

Why change the name?

Just to confuse visitors?

To confuse me even more, next door was a massive new building in progress, a "£200 million project of a new Hope Hospital"

Whoa!?

"Royal Salford" or "Hope"?

Make your mind up!

Reminded me of when I first came to Manchester and my husband was taken to hospital with concussion from a football match. I got a phone call from the manager saying,

"Andy's concussed. He's going to Park Hospital. See you there"

and he promptly rang off.

I got the A-Z out and looked for Park Hospital.

None.

I had to phone his mum and ask where Park Hospital was.

"Oh, it's 'Trafford General'" she said.

What is it with Manchester Hospitals?


Thursday, 25 February 2010

Just chop my head off, please.

Let me tell you something, 130 pupils, two duties in two days (both outdoor), an extra cover lesson and a parents' evening do not help you to recover from a cold.

I'm now off work with sinusitis and laryngitis.

It's so painful my teeth hurt!

My face feels like it's about to explode.

And I don't think my brain fits inside my skull anymore.

If I could speak, I'd say.....

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"Aaaaaaaaargh!"

Monday, 22 February 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

It was back to school today for me with an INSET day on "Safeguarding Children" which has made me totally paranoid about putting pictures of daughter on my blog. Actually, it's made me paranoid about being anywhere near any children at all! Must get some perspective back!

Anyway, daughter is back tomorrow and looking forward to going back to school and seeing her friends. One in particular. Over the last few weeks she has been telling us about a boy in her class, let's call him Callum (not real name, obviously, safeguarding children). Firstly, she announced that she had fallen in love with Callum because he had drawn a picture of him and her holding hands. Awwwww.

Then she made him a card with hearts on it and wrote inside that she wanted them to get married. Awwwwww.

Then, he gave her a chocolate heart shaped lollipop for Valentine's Day.

"Hold on," I thought, "This is going a bit fast"

Then came the clincher:

Callum has told her that he will move his quad bike out of the stables so that she can have a horse.

Hang on!

Quad bike?

Stables?

How wealthy is this child?

Perhaps I should encourage this match!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A Great Aunt

On Friday night my great aunt died. It's okay. She still had her marbles and she still lived in her own house. She was fiercely independent (getting up and dressed before the home help came to get her up and dressed!) and still interested in life. She died fairly quickly after developing a kidney problem last week. I think that's much better than deteriorating slowly and dying painfully. She would have been 90 tomorrow so it's a shame she didn't make it to her birthday, but she lived a long, good life and enjoyed having her family around her.

She was my grandmother's sister and lived round the corner from my grandmother so I saw her a lot when I was growing up. Together with another sister, the three ladies loomed large in my life. I have a lovely photo of the three of them together at my wedding. The very next day my Aunt Vera died (she'd lived on borrowed time for about 20 years having a heart condition!), two months later my grandmother died (she had a stroke on the bus on the way to dancing with a friend, a good way to go, I think) and now Aunt Nellie has gone. End of an era.

I hadn't seen her for a while, but I wrote, sent cards, photos and postcards and sent pictures daughter made for her. I won't be able to go to her funeral because, as a teacher, I can't take time off for funerals for 'distant' relatives, but I can pay my respects in other ways. This post is one.

She really was a Great Aunt Nellie.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Tim's Object Meme

Tim, of Bringing up Charlie, has created a great object meme based on the BBC's History of the World in 100 Objects series running on Radio 4. Tim's version is to post about an object from your home that tells a story about you or your family. I left him a comment saying that I'd love to join in with a certain object from our house, but, as usual, work and stuff got in the way. However, I did not forget, and having now got some time (half term) and a new laptop I can join in.

So my object is ........


....... PARSLEY

Parsley was made by my dad for my daughter. Izzy is his only grandchild and when she was about 12 months old he announced that he was going to make her a rocking horse. Not a simple one, no, not my dad, he doesn't do things by halves. A proper, Victorian rocking horse.

He had never made anything like it in his life!

He got the instructions, joined the Rocking Horse Makers Guild (or something like that), bought the pattern, did the research, bought the wood (ecologically forested), bought the lathe and the woodworking tools. He made a mock one out of cheap wood before he tackled the real thing because he was so nervous about making a mistake. There were lots of decisions to be made about the choice of wood, the eyes, the mane, the tack, etc. Every decision was made with love.

It took him two years.

Just before Christmas 2007 he unveiled her:


The brass plate he had made and attached to the bottom made me cry:



My dad has created a family heirloom.

And the best bit..................

....... Izzy doesn't know it, but inside Parsley is a secret box filled with items from Grandad which she can open when she's 21.

Even I don't know what's in it!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Working Mumitis strikes again

Feeling a little bit sorry for myself today.


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I woke up yesterday with that familiar scratchy, sore throat that is the prelude to a full cold. I knew it was really on its way last night when I struggled to hold the long notes at choir rehearsal (I usually have lungs to rival a synchronised swimmer!).

This morning I woke up with a raging sore throat, a streaming nose and a lot of sneezing. Yuk!

So my list of jobs has been whittled down to what I can do whilst lying on my bed with my new laptop and a telephone.

This seems to consist of:

  • Booking daughter's birthday party (a pony riding one, good job I have only one child, or alternatively, bad luck I have a daughter who is pony mad - and no, she won't be getting a real one for her birthday!)
  • Then going mad at partydelights.co.uk buying pony themed invitations, napkins, party bags, etc. (Worth it when daughter saw what I'd ordered and called me the "best mummy in the world, ever!" I don't care if it is bribery, she loves me!)
  • Then going to Cakes, Cookies and Crafts to order their pony cake tin to make daughter a pony birthday cake (I may regret that one)
  • Going on e-bay to leave excellent feedback for the seller who sent me replacement Royal Doulton bowls today (remember husband smashed one at Christmas and the pattern is discontinued; I've bought two replacements just in case)
  • Then buying a couple of extra plates and soup bowls for my dinner service from e-bay (just in case husband smashes any more)
  • Buying and downloading Chris Evan's Autobiography as an audiobook from Audible
  • Buying extra memory cards for the cameras for when we go to Disney
  • Ordering mega expensive suitcases from John Lewis with locks that US Immigration can open so that they won't have to break into our suitcases this time. (That's if they let us in at all!)
Amazing how much money you can spend without leaving your bed!


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Accidental API?

Last night husband and I tried to fill in the ESTA and API forms to travel to Florida. It would appear that the US do not want tourists anymore because they are making it so damn difficult to get there!

Anyway, in readiness for the form filling we had gathered all the information required, which also necessitated a trip to Thomas Cook to try to find out the Zip Code for our Disney hotel.

"Oh, you don't need it", they said.

They were wrong.

We didn't need it for the ESTA application, but we did need it for the API (which, by the way, Thomas Cook had told us we wouldn't need to do, but then sent us a letter telling us we did) and the form is on the Thomas Cook website!

So husband and I sat at new laptop filling in the details until we got to Zip Code. Then an argument ensued.

"We don't need it" he said.

"Yes we do" I said

"Well, we didn't need it for the ESTA form" he said

"But we do need it for this"

"No, we don't. I'll put n/a"

"You can't put that!"

You get the gist.

In the end we had to start the form all over again and, in his haste to fill in our nationalities, husband slipped the mouse down from UK to the next country and 'accidentally' filled in my nationality as............

Afghanistan!

Of all the countries to choose!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Half Term

Yes, it's half term. I thought it was never coming. What a busy half term it was. But now it's here and it's onto my half term job list:

  • set up new laptop
  • dispose of old desktop
  • read 547 posts in Google Reader (stop writing blog posts!)
  • finish sanding damn staircase
  • start varnishing damn staircase
  • restock wine racks (yes, racks, plural, and they are sadly depleted)
  • buy new suitcases for impending holiday
  • fill out API and ESTA forms on-line (apparently you can't just travel with tickets and a passport anymore)
  • buy dad's birthday present (what do you buy a 62 year old who has everything inlcuding spokeshaves?)
  • get hair cut
I've made a start!


Guess which job I accomplished today...........

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................ hic!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Techno Stress

Last Sunday I bought a new laptop. I also foolishly blogged about how I had managed to set it up with Windows 7, Internet Security and Firefox. It had gone swimmingly. I was on-line and I was happy.

It was too good to be true.

Since then I have tried to install various bits of software and this is what has happened so far:

  1. Installed software for Nikon compact camera - can now download photos from Nikon camera, yay!
  2. Installed software for Canon Digital SLR camera - can't download photos, boo! Been on Canon's website, it says I can download my photos from my 400D with their software in Windows 7 - I'm telling them, I can't!!
  3. Installed photoediting software - yay! So can edit photos from Nikon camera, but not Canon.
  4. Failed to install printer, had to go to Epson website to get driver, installed driver, can now print, but not scan - boo!
  5. Installed Office XP - yay! (I'm not getting 2007)
  6. Set up Outlook to download Virgin e-mails - yay!
  7. Failed to set up Outlook to download Pipex e-mails, had to phone Pipex, finally got it sorted, can download e-mails, but it asks for the passwords for every e-mail account every time I open Outlook even though I've checked the boxes saying "Remember password"

Each time I try to install something my heart is in my mouth as I watch the little green bar move slowly across the screen, waiting for it to stop with an error message. The stress is palpable.

Every time I go to a website to find a solution I am virtually paralysed by fear whilst looking up the problem and trying not to do the wrong thing.

Too stressed out and emotional to even try to download i-tunes. It will have to wait for another day.
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Grrrrrr!

PS After much surfing have realised that I am way behind the times using Outlook (which Microsoft have discontinued in favour of Windows Live Mail); still need a mail client, so may try Mozilla Thunderbird instead. Anyone out there using it?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Knowledge or not?

Last night husband and I went out for the evening. A very rare occurrence nowadays. Anyway, a friend had asked us to join her and her husband in a quiz team for a local cause. Sounded innocuous enough.

No, it wasn't. I've now discovered that going to a quiz with recently acquired friends is a dangerous thing to do.

Why?

Well, until last night I'm pretty sure these friends thought I was educated, if not erudite, with a wealth of knowledge in a variety of areas.

At first it started well. I was the only person on the team to know the name of Da Vinci's "Vetruvian Man". I was doing well.

Then it all went wrong.

My main contribution to the quiz?

I was the only person who knew how Alan Bradley had died in Coronation Street!

Oh the shame!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

A cupcake by any other name would taste as sweet

Since the terrible earthquake disaster in Haiti, my pupils have been ever so busy organising many different events to raise money to help. I've been so impressed with their compassion, commitment and organisation; it restores your faith in the youth of today. Of course, I've supported them in their endeavours, but after reading a story about a woman scrabbling through the rubble of her house looking for her five year old daughter, I was moved to tears and thought that I should do more than just give money.

I can't run a marathon or climb a mountain like some of our staff do for charity, but I can bake pretty nice cupcakes, so I decided to make some Valentine cupcakes, sell them in the staffroom and then donate the proceeds to Shelterbox who I discovered through Bloggers for Haiti.

I've been working like a demon in the kitchen for the last three evenings and here are some of my offerings:

(I've made four dozen of these!)

Of course, daughter saw me making cakes and wanted to make some of her own, so I furnished her with some cakes, icings and toppings and here are her offerings:



A chip off the old block, I think!


Sunday, 7 February 2010

I've finally done it!

No, not packed my bags and left, not resigned at work and not won the lottery. After three years of umming and ahhing, being afraid of changing and generally putting off the inevitable I have finally got a laptop!

We decided to do away with the old desktop and go fully portable in the Working Mum house.

I did a bit of research on the net, decided on a model and today I bought it!

I was so afraid of starting afresh, something always goes wrong when I try to set up a computer, but I've just spent an hour and a half setting up Windows 7, creating recovery discs, installing Internet Security, connecting to wireless and downloading Firefox.

Now I'm up and running!

Feeling quite proud of myself!

(Hope you're reading this, C)

No switching on the computer 20 minutes before I need it.

No doing other jobs whilst using computer because it takes so long to do anything.

(Yes, our computer was that old)

An no waiting for husband to finish with his laptop.

I can watch i-player in bed!

I can blog when I like!

I can waste endless hours of my life on-line.

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Oh, maybe this wasn't such a good idea.......

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Ashamed or Annoyed?

Today I hid in my house to avoid my MIL.

I know, how terrible.

What a dreadful DIL I am.

I just got to the point where I wanted to scream "Leave me alone!"

I know that's awful. She's a widow, she lives alone. Most of the time I remember this and I do oblige.

I answer her incessant phone calls mithering about when exactly we are coming to do her tulip bulbs, put in a phone extension, paint the bathroom, even though we told her it would be in half term.

I ran myself ragged trying to sort out her TV problems after the switchover when her son didn't care and her beloved daughter just said "You only watch the soaps anyway, mother". I figured the soaps were important to someone who lived alone and I tried hard to sort it out for her.

I was the one who told husband to go and clear her path when it snowed (well, he wouldn't think to do it, would he?)

I was the one who offered to do her shopping because she didn't want to venture out.

Most of the time I am a good DIL.

Today, however, I wasn't.

It was like this:

For the last few months she has been popping round unanounced on a Saturday morning for no reason in particular. Every Saturday morning! When she knows husband is at work. This morning I'd had enough.

You see, after working hard all week I need my weekend to be an oasis. Even if I am doing the washing and cleaning, at least I'm not being mithered by 130 kids and given endless administrative tasks by SMT. I can do the chores in my own time on my own terms. When she calls round it isn't to help, oh no, it's to sit waiting to be waited on while she totally depresses me with her negativity about everything. I just couldn't face it this morning.

Izzy has now got to the stage where she isn't so demanding of my time and this morning, she was occupying herself with a jigsaw while I was doing the washing, in between having a cup of tea and reading "Easy Living" magazine. I was just enjoying the peace and quiet when the phone rang.

I just knew it was her. I looked at the caller ID and it was. I let it ring. I know, how awful. I did do 1571 to listen to her message to see if it was important. It wasn't. Just wanted to pop round. I'm surprised she rang first!

I heaved a sigh of relief.

"She thinks we're out", I thought, "I'll get a bit of time to myself."

But no! 20 minutes later there was a knock at the door. I was upstairs dusting our room, but the blind was still shut. I crept into the en-suite and peered round the corner and looked through the obscure glass. Blue car. Hers. Mine was in the garage. It looked like we were out. I made a snap decision.

I crept back into my room and told daughter to be very quiet.

I know, I'm awful.

We hid for a bit and then the coast was clear.

How awful do I feel?

Well, to tell the truth, not very!

I'm a bit angry that I can't enjoy a Saturday morning in my own house.

I've now got to the stage where I try to think of excursions I can make on a Saturday morning with daughter so that we can be out!

Driven out of my own home!

Yet I do feel bad about ignoring her.

Maybe I'm being selfish.

I don't know whether to feel annoyed or ashamed!


Friday, 5 February 2010

What every Working Mum needs!

Yesterday was a special day for daughter. She went to tea with a classmate for the first time.

The other mum picked daughter up from school and took her home and made her tea while daughter played with her son and I stayed at work.

I, being an over protective mother, was very nervous.

Would she be picked up on time?

Would she be picked up at all?

Would she be sensible on the walk to their house or fall into the road and get run over?
(School is on a very busy road)

Yes, I am that over protective!

Anyway, I stayed at school and got loads of work done while she was gone. So much so that I didn't have to bring any work home last night - I didn't know what to do with myself after daughter had gone to bed!!

Then it dawned on me........

This is what I need.........

A wife to collect daughter from school every day and give her her tea!!

Monday, 1 February 2010

First visit from the Tooth Fairy

Something nice for a change:

Big News in the Working Mum household!

Izzy has lost her first tooth!!

The little wobbly one at the bottom finally came out.

She was very upset and doesn't want to lose her teeth, but we tried to calm her down with tales of the tooth fairy and she brightened up at the thought of more money to spend on toy ponies!

So last night, she wrapped it in a tissue and put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy.

Then she said, "I hope the tooth fairy leaves me a coin and leaves my tooth"

"Why?" I asked

"Because I want to take my tooth for 'show and tell' at Rainbows"

Euww!