Friday, 28 December 2012

Surviving Christmas

We survivied Christmas.  I would describe it as a generally happy day, but a little tinged with sadness.  A difficult day to get through, but now it's done.

Father Christmas came and brought daughter a new bike and a surprise i-pod (TGFTesco Clubcard Vouchers!).  Although her favourite present seems to be a retro "Beetle" game; exactly the same as the one my brother and I played at our grandparents' house.  The old ones are the best!

I got a load of DVDs to keep me amused in 2013 including all three series of Downton Abbey and the complete "Good Life".  Hubby also surprised me with tickets to see "Wicked" next November (I'd been umming and ahhing about buying some), and tickets to see Robbie Williams and Olly Murs at City's Stadium in June (guess where he got that idea.....)!

I bought hubby a book of City Supporters' Songs which he has been regaling us with since Christmas Day.  What was I thinking?  And some kind person bought him a City gnome which I will try to hid in the shrubbery in the garden.

I've been cooking up a storm for days, but today is a day off; no visitors, no trips, no cooking.  I've been looking at booking a cottage for a week in the summer, but when did holiday cottages go up to £750 a week in the school hols?!

Think I'll put a DVD on and hit the Quality Street instead.



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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Cheer

This year has been a very difficult one for all my family.  In August hubby lost his mum, in October my mum lost her brother and then very recently my sister-in-law's father was taken ill, described medically as "near death".  Hence I want to make Christmas dinner as lovely as possible this year.

I've planned the menu:

Mushroom Tartlets with Quails Eggs

*   *   *

Roast Turkey with Cranberry Relish and Cherry & Pistachio Stuffing
Vegetarian Christmas Pie

Roast Potatoes
Pigs in Blankets
Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts & Bacon
Roast Parmesan Parsnips
Maple & Pecan Carrots

*   *   *

Christmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce
Tiramisu
Chestnut and Amaretto Roulade 

*   *   *

Coffee and Chocolates

*   *   *


I've made my own Christmas Crackers containing individually chosen presents.

I've got beautiful things to dress the table.

I've made a Christmas playlist on my i-pod to play during dinner.

Daughter has practised playing Christmas Carols to entertain everyone between the main course and dessert.

Is is going to be lovely.

Fingers crossed.


Christmas Cake 2012

I wasn't going to make a Christmas Cake this year.  

I wasn't in the mood.

Then I saw a recipe for a fresh Cranberry and Hazelnut cake.  

I thought I'd give it a go.

I wasn't going to decorate my Christmas Cake this year.  

I wasn't in the mood.

Then I saw this video for a Shooting Star Cake.  

I thought I'd give it a go.

Here's the result:



Not bad for not being in the mood!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Two Days

It's been a very busy last couple of weeks.  I've had Carol Concerts, Carol Services, a Dept Christmas Do, daughter's Christmas Concert, etc, etc not to mention getting ready for Christmas!

Then, on Wednesday at 4.00am, hubby set off on a jolly to Munich (armed with our largest suitcase to bring back lots of presents!).  All I had to do was to get through Wednesday and Thursday then daughter and I would be off for the Christmas hols.

Oh, the best laid plans.........

On Wednesday lunchtime I got the phone call:

"Can you come and collect Izzy from the church, she isn't very well"

She said she didn't feel well in the morning, but I thought she was just tired and couldn't face a long day; she had a trip to the Pantomime in the morning, followed by rehearsals at church for the school Carol Service, then a walk back to school, three hours to kill and then the Carol Service.

I had told her that, if she still felt ill at 4 o'clock, we wouldn't go to the Carol Service.  I thought that if she could face until 4, she might then manage the rest.

But no.

I had to go and pick her up and when we got home she promptly threw up.

It was tiredness. 

Exhaustion, in fact.

She needed a day at home to rest.

But...... I had to attend school the next day for the final day and all those last day jobs that only I could do.

What was I going to do?

I rang my parents to see if they could come and stay over and look after her, but they were going to a Christmas do.

"I'll come early in the morning" said my dad.
 
True to his word, my dad set off at 6.15am to come and look after his granddaughter.  Not only that, he came armed with a tin of Heinz Tomato Soup and a bread roll for Izzy - exactly what he used to give me when I was ill!

Bless you, dad!

Not so bless when I got home to find he'd also done with Izzy what he used to do with me; lots of science experiments, mostly involving using up all my bicarbonate of soda and vinegar!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Just like Mma Makutsi

Remember when daughter took her Grade 1 Theory Exam a few weeks ago?  

When she emerged saying that she had got at least 90% and I said, "We'll see"?

Well, she got the result today.

97%

Just like Mma Makutsi!


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Izzy the Merciful but Persistent


Today daughter wrote her letter to Father Chrstmas.  This time I left her to do it herself without any input from me.  When she'd finished, she showed me what she'd written.  In amongst the requests for horse related toys, books and DVDs was this little gem:


"Also Bridge who is a year 3 girl at school wrote you a letter about Demi which you mite know about. I think Demi still deserves presents but that’s up to you."


Daughter comes home from school about three times a week moaning about Demi, how mean she is and the horrible things she says and does to other girls.  I keep trying to get her to understand that there must be a reason that this girl is mean and to give her another chance.  


I think she's taken it on board.

She did finish with this parting shot, though:


"Also I would love something which I know I wont get in a million years .A pony or horse, so good luck trying to get that one Santa"!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Mission nearly accomplished.

Yesterday morning, at breakfast, I asked hubby if he had any cash.

"I've got a tenner" he replied.

"Good ", I said, "Tonight at Izzy's parents' evening, if you see Alex's mum, give her the tenner.  It's for the teacher's Christmas present" (Don't even go there)

Later that day I walked into Izzy's school for Parents' Evening and saw Alex's mum.

"Your husband's just gone through", she said.

"Did he give you some money?" I asked.

"No" she replied.

I walked through to find hubby sitting waiting our turn.

"Why didn't you given Alex's mum the tenner?" I asked.

"Aaaaah", he said, "At work today someone asked me for a tenner deposit for our Christmas meal, I opened my wallet, saw the tenner and said "I've got a tenner, but I can't give it you.  Carol said I have to use it for something else", but I couldn't remember what it was."!

It's a step in the right direction.......


Friday, 16 November 2012

Body Image Insight

A lot is written about young girls and body image.  The airbrushing of celebrities in magazines creating unobtainable ideals which girls try to emulate, resulting in psychological illness.  The Guide Association are doing a lot to stop these practices and to teach girls about normal bodies and I'm in complete agreement.  I've thought a lot about this with regard to my daughter as she is growing older, but something she said on Saturday gave me heart.

We were watching Strictly Come Dancing and our favourite, Lisa Riley.

"You can tell she's lost weight." Izzy said, "If she stays until the end, she may be normal size...................

...........................not Tess or Claudia size, but normal"

Hallelujah!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Tipped over the edge and then brought back again

My car wasn't fixed on Monday.  

New coils and plugs were inserted, but to no avail.

They said it needed a VW specialist and recommended a local, independent garage.

I phoned them and booked it in for Wednesday.

Tuesday was the day from hell.  Hubby took my car to work so that I had his car to do the dashing about after work.  I had no free time during the day due to meetings, dinner duty and the start of our next round of appraisal at work.  (Why do they always do our department in the depths of Winter?)  I dashed home at 4.30pm to deposit daughter with babysitter, rushed back to school and did a two hour parents' evening before coming home at 8.00pm to collapse.

Wednesday we were up at 6am to take my car to the next garage, the one that specialises in VWs, and for hubby to drop us at school (at 7.15am!) so that he could get to work on time.  I got into my office and promptly burst into tears.  My colleagues picked me up, dusted me down and I kept calm and carried on.

All day I waited to hear from the garage.  

I got more and more wound up.  

I felt more and more sick.  

I couldn't eat lunch.

By then I had the car written off and was expecting to pay thousands for a new engine.
 (My imagination works overtime when I'm stressed)

Eventually, at 3pm I bit the bullet and phoned the garage.

"It's all fixed" he said, "We're just test driving it now"

Relief!

Not only that, when I collected my keys from the first garage there was no bill.  They said they wouldn't charge me when they hadn't fixed the car.

The second garage only charged me for the new fuel injector and one hour of labour and then, as I was leaving, he said:

"Oh, I noticed a brake light was out, so I replaced it for you"

How nice was that?

There is light at the end of my tunnel.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Confidence in Abundance

I've often said that daughter is not lacking in self esteem and it was certainly thus last week:

Last Wednesday daughter took her first ever public exam; ABRSM Grade 1 Music Theory.

I took her to the exam centre and furnished her with the requisite plastic bag filled with pencils, a rubber and her candidate label.  I think I was more nervous than her!  After depositing her in the exam hall, I went into another room and worried for 40 mins.

Eventually she came out.

"How did it go?"  I asked.

"Great!" she said, "All the questions were ones I like.  I think I've got at least 90%"

We'll see!


Monday, 12 November 2012

Sausages

Yesterday I didn't feel like creating a big Sunday lunch  (more bad news hit the WM house; I've reached the point where I'm just putting my fingers in my ears and hoping it will all go away).  Hubby was going to watch City and would be eating his heated up at 5pm anyway, so I made good use of my free sausages (it was National Sausage Week last week; our butcher gave away 6 sausages free with every 1lb of sausages you bought, I bought a lot!) and made a sausage roast.

I had a butternut squash lurking in the fridge along with some carrots and onions so I added these to a casserole dish with some red wine, honey and mustard, topped them with the sausages and roasted away.

As daughter and I were eating it she announced:

"I'm not that keen on sausage roast"

"Well, it used up leftovers and it was easy for me to make", I replied.

"You know what's even easier?" she said.

"No, what?"

"Just the sausages!"

Saturday, 10 November 2012

When will it stop?

I've been trying to look on the bright side, focus on the positive, look to the future as my life seems to be one long round of bad news, but today I failed:

Since August we have had the following to sort out with ours cars:
  • my car MOT and Service
  • hubby's car brakes (the day he went back to work)
  • hubby's car MOT
  • hubby's car ignition coil (on our holiday in Northumberland)
 and this week, as soon as I went back to work, my car started playing up.  Coughing, spluttering, not coping with hills, lack of power, etc.  I phoned the garage who said they thought it may be ingnition coils (like hubby's) so they ordered some in and I dropped my car off this morning.

No, it's not a coil; they don't know what it is and I need to leave the car with them for a day.

Working full time 10 miles from home means that this is very difficult to do.  I will have to drop my car off at 7am on Monday then hubby will take me and daughter to school.  He will have to collect daughter and me at 4.45pm and take us to daughter's choir practice, and then,  if my car's fixed, I'll have to collect it from the forecourt during the evening and go back and pay on another day after work.

If it's not fixed, I'm scuppered.  

On Tuesday hubby and I both have a Parents' Evening and won't finish work until about 8pm, I was going to dash home at 4.30pm, leave daughter with a babysitter and dash back to school, but goodness knows what I'll do with daughter if I've no car!

Today I came home from the garage and cried.




Sunday, 4 November 2012

Getting Ahead

It's been a strange half term.  

A bit of a curate's egg.

We had a great few days in Northumberland, but had to return early for my Uncle's funeral.

We got some jobs done which we should have done in Summer (but were busy with MIL in hospital and the resulting funeral),  carpet cleaning, new guttering, sorting out the garden, cleaning the cars, etc.

We held a Halloween Party, I've been out with some friends and hubby has started saxophone lessons (don't ask!).

But most importantly, I have used this holiday to get ahead.

As a Working Mum, I have to get ahead when I can, and since the next half term is the most horrendous part of the school year, it pays to do things as early as possible.

So far I have:

  • made 10 sweet and toy filled jam jars for daughter's form's hoopla stall at the school Christmas Fair
  • bought chocolate and bottles for the tombolas at said Christmas Fair
  • made two dozen cupcakes and frozen them ready to ice for Christmas Fair
  • made and frozen a shepherd's pie for babysitter's tea next week when I have Parents' Evening
  • made and ordered Photobox calendars as Christmas presents
  • wrapped two presents for Christmas toy collections at school and church
  • written all my Christmas cards!


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Smug me!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Tigger the T Bird

You may recall that daughter's favourite teddy is a beany tiger she got on the day she was born called "Tigger".

Tigger has had some adventures in his eight and half years.

He's been Izzified:


He's been a victim of daughter's venture into voodoo:


He's been on all our family holidays:


 He even has his own passport:


 He's even been on a trip to Hadrian's Wall in 2006:


And again this year:


You may notice a difference in Tigger in those years.  Eight and a half years of cuddling has taken its toll.  I have repaired him so many times he is more patched up than not.  I was beginning to get worried that his very fibre was going to wear away, so last night I had an idea.

I decided to make Tigger a coat:




It was only after I'd make it I realised I'd seen that design before.........



Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween Party


 To make up for daughter's dreadful summer where she was pushed from pillar to post and didn't have any playdates with school friends, I decided to hold a Halloween Party for her and five school friends.  She was very excited and couldn't wait to dress up:


(Yes, that's hubby dressed as dracula!)

We decorated the house spookily:


And played Halloween music like "Thriller" and "Monster Mash".

The girls made eyeballs on stalks

And graveyard cupcakes:


They ate witches warts (popcorn) whilst watching our Halloween DVDs: "Scared Shrekless" and "Mutant Pumpkins".

Then they had a spooky tea consisting of:

Dead Men's Fingers (sausages in buns)
Dracula Juice (Vimto)
The aformentioned Graveyard Cupcakes and Eyeballs.
Worms in Slime (jelly worms in green jelly)

After tea they did traditional apple bobbing:


And finally, we went Trick or Treating around the neighbourhood.

A ghoulish time was had by all!


Monday, 29 October 2012

Northumberland

I don't know if I really want to blog about Northumberland.  You see, it's one of the UK's best kept secrets.

Tucked away at the top of England, just before you get to Scotland is the most wonderful county.

Spectacular beaches, amazing castles, Roman ruins, fabulous scenery, an island you can only reach at low tide and Hogwarts!

Not only that, not many people know about it, so it's peaceful and quiet as well as breathtakingly beautiful.

Hence why we love it and had looked forward to our trip since we booked it last January.

On our way up to Alnwick we stopped at High Force:


On Sunday we hit Bamburgh beach in the shadow of magnificent Bamburgh Castle:



I looked for Crystal Jigsaw along the beach, but didn't see her, maybe these are her sheep:






How cold is the North Sea?!

We were going to go to Lindesfarne, but our car was playing up and I didn't want to risk breaking down on the causeway and having to be rescued by the Seahouses Lifeboat, so we just visited the lifeboat instead.

The next day we dropped our car off at a garage in Alnwick and went to 'do' Alnwick Castle only to find that it had closed for the season (usually it's open until the end of October, but this year they closed on 30 Sept).  No riding on broomsticks for us!

So we visited Northumberlandia, Lady of the North:

(Not to be confused with the fabulous Anthony Gormley sculpture "Angel of the North" which is a bit further down the A1)


It's difficult to describe, but it's a piece of public art set in a public park; a woman made of 1.5 millions tonnes of rock, clay and soil and covered in 4 miles of footpaths.

On Tuesday we enjoyed a trip back to Edwardian Times at Beamish Open Air Museum:








And on Wednesday we imagined what it was like to be in Hadrian's Roman Army stationed at Housesteads:





We had to return home on Thursday, but we will be back!



Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Big Black Cloud

For the last three months I have felt like there has been a big black cloud hovering over me and my family.  August was awful with MIL's sudden illness and death, then September started with her funeral and continued with husband and I trying to cope with work and sorting out MIL's estate.  Both of us have been ill (hubby is never ill, so it was full blown Man Flu!) and we've been exhausted.

The light at the end of the tunnel was a week in beautiful Northumberland at half term, which we had booked last January.  I'd booked a lovely little cottage near Alnwick that slept 5 so my  mum and dad were coming along too.

All half term we'd looked forward to this.

If only we could get to Northumberland.

Fresh, sea air, a change of scenery and a good night's sleep.

Then, the week before we were due to go, my uncle died suddenly.  My lovely Uncle Les, who I grew up with (he and my aunt live around the corner from my parents, have no children, so my brother and I were always round there).  He and my aunt had gone on a coach holiday to Sussex, but on the first night he fell ill, an ambulance was called and took him to hospital.  My mum (his sister) was called at 3am and my parents dashed (if you can call a 5 hour drive a dash) to Sussex, but were too late. That was Mon 15 Oct.

We did go to Northumberland last Saturday, my parents followed the following day and we had a few days there, returning early for my uncle's funeral yesterday.

The big black cloud is still over us.

I'm going to look forward to Christmas.

Normal blog service will be resumed soon.



Sunday, 14 October 2012

I could sleep stood up

You know that saying, I could sleep stood up?  

Well, yesterday, I almost did.

The last six weeks have been so busy and hectic with work, daughter, clearing MIL's house, fighting off a cold, being a third of a head of department, etc, that I could virtually drop.

Yesterday, I had to be up at the crack of dawn to take hubby's car for its MOT (he took my car to work and left me to sort it out, naturally), then I took daughter to Decathlon to buy warm clothes for our up and coming holiday in Northumberland (beautiful place, but a rather chilly east wind), made a harvest box for the Harvest Church Parade today, made a Roman costume (when will the costumes stop?), did four lots of washing and various other things, then, at 2.30pm I made myself a cup of tea and sat down at the kitchen table.

The next thing I knew it was 3.30pm!!

I had fallen asleep in a kitchen chair............... sitting up!

How tired do you have to be to fall asleep sitting up in a rather uncomfortable oak kitchen chair?


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Crabapple Jelly

Last week a friend gave me some crabapples from her tree.  I've never had crabapples before, but I was very keen to try a new culinary experience.  I know you can't eat them raw, so I decided to give crabapple jelly a whirl.

After looking up various recipes, I decide on the following method:

Halve the crabapples and put in large pan.  Cover with water, bring the boil and then simmer for about an hour.

Now the fun bit - you have to strain the mixture over night through a muslin cloth.  Luckily, I have loads of muslin cloths.  I bought a big pack of them when I was pregnant because they were on every list of baby essentials, but I never figured out what they were for, hence I still have a big pack of them.  However, I don't have a stand to attach it to over the pan, so I rigged up a seive system:



Then, since recipes seemed to differ on the amount of sugar, I went for a three quarter ratio of sugar to juice. (1 kg of juice to 750g sugar).  Add the juice of half a lemon and then boil on a rolling boil for about 20 minutes until setting point is reached:


Pour into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Voila:



To be honest, I think it was too much sugar as it seems quite a firm set, so next time I think I'd try a  half sugar to juice ratio.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Remains of a Life

The big thing occupying the WM family at the moment is sorting out MIL's estate.

Luckily she left a will and it's all very straightforward, nothing contentious, but still rules have to be followed.  Paperwork needs to be filled in.  Her car, the house, its contents and her jewellery have had to be valued.  Financial institutions needed to be contacted.  Insurance for the house and contents needed to be changed for unoccupancy.  Utilities and Council Tax sorted out.  Probate applied for.  The usual list of complicated and yet tedious stuff.

We also now need to sort out her house and all its contents before we can put it on the market.

I made a start last weekend, but it's going to be slow progress.

Clothes have been sorted for disposal and I've spent every evening this week washing and ironing decent clothes to send to charity shops.

I've been collecting cardboard boxes from work and boxing up her novels to donate.

Daughter came along to help and made piles of teddies, toys and children's books to be disposed of (the grandchldren are hoping that Nana left them each a teddy in her will - bless.)

Next weekend there'll be five adults and three children sorting out stuff.

The slow, sad process of disposing of a person's life belongings.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Babysitter booked?

Hubby wanted to go to City match tonight, naturally.

I have Chorale rehearsals every Tuesday, which takes prority; if he wants to do something on a Tuesday, he has to arrange a babysitter.  In the past his mum would generally babysit for us, but of course, not anymore.

When I realised this week's clash was coming up, I thought, "I'll see if he sorts out a babysitter".

On Sunday evening he realised that he needed to get a babysitter.

"I'll ask that Brownie leader who babysits for Lisa", he said.

"Good idea", I said.

"What's her name?" he asked.

"Amy", I relpied.

"Do you have her number?" he asked.

"On the noticeboard in the kitchen"

At that point I left to put daughter to bed.

Mistake.

Afterwards I asked him if he'd booked Amy.

"Oh yes", he said, very proudly, "She'll be here at 6.45pm"

"And how's she getting home?" I asked.

"I don't know" he said.

"Where does she live?" I asked.

"I don't know" he said.

"And how much does she charge?" I asked.

You can guess the answer.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Oh what a glorious thing to be......

Yes, I'm a busy bee again.  Back into the swing of things at work and really packing a quart into a pint pot!

This weekend consisted of the following:

  • did four lots of washing and ironed it
  • went on a family day out to Norton Priory
  • sang in a concert
  • took daughter swimming and riding
  • made Sunday lunch
  • peeled and stewed a load of cooking apples from my mum and dad's tree
  • dashed to the Garden Centre to buy spring bulbs
  • supervised homework and piano practice
  • spent an afternoon sorting out MIL's clothes in her house (filled 5 bin bags and have three enormous piles of clothes to launder before sending to charity shop)

Now I'm getting ready to go to work tomorrow...... for a rest!

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Position of Responsibility

Now that daughter is in year 4, they have to take on positions of responsibility.  Their names were pulled out of a hat and they had to choose from a variety of jobs.  Izzy's name was first out of the hat.

"What job did you choose?" I asked.

"Leading the lunch queue", she replied.

"And why that job?" I asked.

"Because I'm then first in the queue for lunch!" she replied, with much gusto.

It figures!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Birthday Cake

Hubby and daughter decided to repeat last year's success and make me a birthday cake. After hiding themselves away in the kitchen for the entire Sunday afternoon, the cake was finished and hidden away until the big day:




Hubby says he had very little to do with either the baking or decorating; Izzy is now self sufficient at baking cakes.  "Great Brititsh Bake Off " - here she comes!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Today is my birthday and as per our departmental tradition, we have to have cake!  Since we are all lemon fans, I decided to make lemon meringue cupcakes:



The cakes are a basic victoria sponge recipe ( 6oz butter, 6 oz sugar, 6 oz flour, 3 eggs whizzed together in a mixer with a few spoons of milk) with some lemon zest stirred into it baked in the oven at 160 degrees C for about 45 - 50 mins (they should sound hollow when tapped on their bottoms!) and then allowed to cool.

After cooling I scooped out a teaspoon of cake from each one and filled with a spoonful of lemon curd.  Then, on the top, I piped Italian meringue:

Put 170g of caster sugar in a saucepan (not non-stick) and cover with water.  Bring to boil slowly.

Meanwhile whisk three egg whites together on a medium speed until light and foamy.

When the sugar has reached the soft ball stage turn the mixer up to high speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites.  Keep whisking for about 15 minutes until the meringue is light and fluffly and the bowl has cooled down a little.  The meringue is now ready to pipe onto the cakes and I finished them with a sprinkle of edible glitter:



(Italian meringue is already cooked by the hot sugar syrup so there is no need to return the cakes to the oven, but it you want a golden colour you can pop them back in the oven for 10 mins or so)


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Stop taking my stuff!!

It doesn't take long to be back to normal at work and along with all the usual 'start of term' hectic jobs, I've had to contend with a few unexpected items:

Last week my printer disappeared from my classroom. 

The computer was replaced with a newer one, but the printer had just disappeared.

A few frantic e-mails to the IT helpdesk and it was located.

"We don't know why it was moved" they said.

Today, I went to the staffroom at break for 15 minutes to get a cup of tea and when I returned.................

....................... my desk had disappeared!

My big, sturdy teacher desk at the front of the room had gone.

In its place was a flimsy old computer desk.

(And my computer sits on a computer desk in another part of the room so I don't need a computer desk)

Oh, and there were six bemused sixth formers sitting behind it watching me fume. 

My old desk was sitting in the corridor, so I went there just in time to catch a caretaker about to take it away.

"Can I have my old desk back, please?" I asked.

"Well, we can only put it back after school" he said, and promptly took it away!

Is it me?

Friday, 31 August 2012

August

August was terrible.  

Literally the whole of August.

MIL came to our house on 30th July (hubby's birthday) and said she didn't feel well, thought it was gallstones.

By 27th August she had passed away.

Pancreatic cancer is stealthy, aggressive and deadly.

And bloody fast.

So August was a blur of hospital visits, supporting hubby, sitting with MIL during the night, running "Hotel WM" for my sister-in-law and her family and then helping to organise a funeral.

Nutters was cancelled.

I am drained.

To be honest, I could do with another summer holiday, but in reality I think I'll be glad to get back to school next week to experience some semblance of normality.

Normal blog service will be resumed soon.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nutters, both of us.

Seems that we have a difficult time ahead of us in the Working Mum house.  I can't say too much at the moment, but don't worry, Mr WM and I are not splitting up.  We're far too stubborn for that!

In fact, we're celebrating our 19th Anniversary this weekend with a trip to "Nutters".

"How appropriate", I can hear you thinking!

You see, Nutters is the restaurant owned by chef, Andrew Nutter, and I've wanted to go there for ages.  This weekend daughter is away at grandma and grandad's and we have the chance to go out together so we've taken the opportunity to have a really grown up meal out.

Mind you, I think "nutters" is appropriate as we spent our actual anniversary chasing each other around the bedroom.................

..................... trying to kill a mosquito!


Monday, 20 August 2012

Be Brave, WM


This weekend we took daughter to see the new Disney Pixar film "Brave".

Talk about holding up a mirror!

Queen Elinor and Princesss Merida were just like me and Izzy.

Arguing about doing what you're told, what is appropriate, how to behave, what is best for you.

Hubby sat there chuckling away saying, "That's you two"

Well, four hours later we were back home, I was supervising daughter's piano practice.  There were tears and tantrums and a few stern words.

Hubby popped his head into the dining room to say:

"I see neither of you learned anything from that film, then"!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Uniform Blues

It's that time again.  Time to sort out uniform for the next school year.  And boy, does my daughter need a lot of uniform: 26 pieces to be exact (* see below), and most of it seems to be PE/games kit she wears for only an hour a week.  Not only that, her uniform (except for shirts and socks) all has to be bought through the nose, sorry, from the official school outfitter and be embroidered with the school badge.

Now, being a well organised working mum, I make good use of the PTAs second hand uniform sales and prior to the end of last term I bought daughter a new pinafore and a new games skirt from one of the sales.

"Ahead of the game!" I thought.

I hadn't reckoned on the school changing her uniform, had I?

Right at the end of term a list was sent out to parents:  pinafores are to be replaced with skirts and games skirts to be replaced with skorts (official school ones, with the school badge embroidered onto them, of course).

Well, I'm sorry, my daughter is going to school in a pinafore and will do 1 hour a week of hockey in autumn in a games skirt until such time as she grows out of them.

Then, she also needs to change from her official school sweatshirt and jogging bottoms to the official school microfibre top and bottoms (for one hour a week of hockey in the winter).

Keen to offload some of the hassle, I asked hubby to take daughter to offical outfitters for these items.

What did he come back with?

A new sweatshirt.

"She's not allowed the sweatshirt" I said, "It has to be a microfibre top".

"They don't make a microfibre top to fit her, so I got another sweatshirt" explained hubby.

Why does school uniform have to be so difficult?

Aaargh!!

* skirt, shirt, tie, cardigan/jumper, blazer, coat, scarf, grey socks, black shoes, summer dress with white socks, trainers, white PE socks, hockey socks, hockey shin pads, skort, PE shorts, PE top, microfibre top, microfibre trousers, mouthguard, swimming costume, swimming hat, school book bag, school games bag, school swimming bag.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

How to Inspire a Little Mathematician.

As a mathematician, one thing that really gets my goat is people's attitude to Maths:  it's difficult, it's boring, it's just numbers and times tables, I never could do maths, I was rubbish at maths at school.  You know the thing.  Would people be so eager to admit they couldn't read or write?

Why is English seen as a "fun and enjoyable" pastime (reading, crosswords, watching plays, writing blogs, etc), but maths isn't?

To me maths is a great pastime ...

... and so not about numbers!

It's about patterns, logic, relationships, cause and effect, connections and ultimately, solving puzzles.

What is a quadratic equation if not a puzzle to be solved?

And who doesn't love puzzles?

Perhaps we should rename the subject "Puzzles"?

So, with this bee in my bonnet, I was dismayed when my daughter started to say that she didn't like maths lessons, they were boring and she hates doing times tables.

"Guess what, sweetheart?" I said, "Times tables are important when you are eight, but they are not really maths!"

That's when it hit me.  Children are turned off maths by learning number relationships in primary schools and thinking that that is what maths is.  We need to switch our children back on to maths!

So I set out to inspire her:

Firstly, the author of the Murderous Maths books, Kjartan Poskitt, visited my school so I bought her a couple of his books and had him sign them for her.



She loved them and was soon telling me all about Pythagoras' Theorem with great authority.

She's now dipping into "Savage Shapes" and telling me lots of facts about triangles!

Then I thought I'd foster a love of logic in her and bought her this set of logic puzzles:



which we took on holiday with us.

Each day she asked for them when she was sitting under the umbrella by the pool and even raced against daddy to solve them (often beating him!).

Again, she loved them.

Then, and this was a bit of a gamble, I bought her a copy of a Maths Quest book:



It's one of those books where you solve a puzzle and then it tells you which page to turn to to continue the adventure.

Well, this was the biggest hit of all!

She's now mithering for "Cavern of Clues", "Planet of Puzzles" and other Maths Quest books.

Mission accomplished, I think!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Mission Impossible?

Two days.

Eight hours.

One hoover bag, two bin bags, one cleaning cloth, two dusters and one bottle of Mr Sheen.

Yes, we've been attacking daughter's bedroom.

Huge job.

So far she's managed to throw away two years' worth of Pony magazines, twelve teddies (out of about 70!) two bin bags of rubbish and all this stuff:



The only way I could get her to do it was to tell her that she would get some of the money from the car boot sale when we sell it (the rest is going towards her next bike).

And that the only way she could get a desk (which is what she wants) is if this goes as well:


And how much better does this look?
 


 

So far, so good!


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How to Survive the Olympics

I don't do Sport. 

I know that most of the country appear to be gripped by the performance of Guatamalen divers or Mexican weightlifters, but it just doesn't do anything for me.

I enjoyed the Opening Ceremony, but that's it.

So, what shall I do for a fortnight while hubby is glued to 24 BBC Channels devoted to the Olympics?

Well, here's my plan.

 Working Mum's Guide to Surviving the Olympics:
  1. Purchase several second hand copies of "Agatha Raisin" books.
  2. In the weeks preceeding the Olympics, record any 2 hour murder mysteries you enjoy and transfer them to DVD.
  3. Purchase the newly released and eagerly awaited DVD of Series 5 of "Mad Men".
  4. Borrow five "Isabel Dalhousie" novels from the library.
  5. Treat yourself to a "Taste of Summer" sleekster box from Hotel Chocolat.
  6. Two weeks prior to the Olympics change your Lovefilm list to prioritise lots of chick flicks.
  7. Purchase a couple of nice bottles of rose.
  8. Purchase a new guitar.
  9. And lots of new sheet music.
  10. Lock yourself in your bedroom for two weeks with all of the above.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Just what the doctor ordered....

A beautiful hotel, an infinity pool,  a beach and plenty of sun: