Wednesday, 27 October 2010

How Does The Saying Go Again?

I'm just trying to remember what it is that they say about children, big, expensive presents and cardboard boxes. Anyone?

Monday, 25 October 2010

Meat Free Monday?

One of my most annoying habits must be the way I always manage to answer a question with another question. Even over simple things. If my husband asks me what I want for dinner, nine times out of ten I'll reply with "What do you fancy?" I do this with so many things, for the simple reason that I am totally incapable of making a decision. I hate it! As soon as I decide something I start worrying about whether it was the right decision to make!

One decision I have always made for myself however is that I don't want to eat meat. I have been vegetarian since I was 18. My mum refused to let me be vegetarian before this point. She always thought it was 'just another phase' I was going through, and to be fair, there were quite a few of those, but as soon as I left home and went to uni, the meat went. I have never even been tempted to eat meat since then.

I was stood cooking this morning, making up a batch of bolognese for the children from finest beef mince, blood on my hands, I was feeling quite sick from it actually, but it got me thinking. A number of people have asked me whether I will bring up my children vegetarian but I don't.

The way I've always seen it, vegetarianism is a choice, one that I've made. My husband has chosen not to be a vegetarian. I have a friend who is a vegetarian and she has brought up her three children in the same way. Her husband doesn't eat meat in the house because she doesn't feel comfortable having meat in the house. Although I don't enjoy preparing meat, I do because I feel it's important that the children don't have it excluded from their diets just because I have made a choice not to eat it, and by preparing meals which do have meat in them means that we can all eat as a family regularly. My husband gets serious withdrawal symptoms if he doesn't get meat! But this has led me to wondering if I am in this case being a bit of a hypocrite? I'm still buying meat and supporting the industry after all.

My daughter is three now and is very aware that my 'chicken' looks different to hers. She really enjoys eating Quorn and I do give it to her, but I give her meat as well, despite the fact she isn't so keen on it. My son on the other hand is like his daddy and loves his meat, he can't get enough! I know that if either of my children decide that they want to become vegetarian when they are older and fully understand what this means, I will support them and allow them to do this as long as they get the nutrients through other foods in their diet. Until then, I will continue to do what I do, I'd rather be a hypocrite than have my children vitamin deficient, but how do other people deal with this issue? I'm sure I'm not the only one!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hey Lyla!

I'd always tried to avoid those Build-A-Bear shops like the plague when we went past them in town, despite my daughter's best efforts. We'd promised her a Bear for her birthday which was back in May, but we just never really got round to it. I thought they were pretty much a cuddly toy version of a Barbie shop. The other day I relented though as it wasn't quite so packed as it usually was so I thought I might stand a chance of getting the double buggy in there.

A budget priced bear shop it is not, and some parts are a bit cringey for the adult but I was really wrong in terms of what it was. I even got a bit emotional seeing the pleasure Evie was getting from the whole experience in the shop, and her beloved Lyla has not left her side since.

So what actually happens when you go in? Why did she have so much fun? It's about the experience of creating your very own Bear, just as much as it is about what you actually take home.

You go into the shop and choose what kind of toy you'd like. It's very easy to spend a fortune, but we looked around first so we didn't get too seduced! They have a variety of different branded bears, like Hello Kitty ones, and lots of different sizes too, generally the bigger the more expensive, but Evie opted for a glittery purple one - her favourite colour. The addition of glittery bits of fluff were just the icing on the cake for her!

You can choose something for your Bear to say if you want to, but we didn't get this particular option so we went straight to the stuffing station. You decide how cuddly or firm you want your Bear to be. You then have to give your Bear a heart, so you kiss the heart and put it into the bear before it gets stuffed to help make it 'come alive.' The children then press the pedal themselves to stuff the bear.

Next stop is the pamper section, where Evie had great fun fluffing her new Bear, and grooming it with special brushes and combs.

You then move onto the clothes. We'd told Evie she was allowed to choose one outfit for her bear, and she chose a little Hello Kitty number (as modelled below!) but she could have got very carried away in this section. There are also accessories, like handbags and hair clips, which she fully intends to put on her Christmas list.

Once she had finished we were asked to go and 'register the birth' of our bear by using the in store computer to create a 'Birth Certificate' and when we paid, our Bear was boxed up in her house to take home.

At home, you can then bring your bear to life online in Build-A-Bearville. Using the code on the Bear's Birth Certificate, you create a profile on this web world. When you enter your code, it automatically brings up a profile picture of the Bear created in the shop. I haven't had a chance to explore this fully yet, and Evie's probably a bit young for it, but it seems like a child friendly social networking kind of thing. Evie can talk to the 'carers of other Bears' through the website but can only interact with the bank of phrases on offer, which I can only think is a good thing when aimed at children this young.

So even though 'Lyla' is nearly a week old, (ancient in 3 year old's terms yes?!) the novelty is still going strong. She loves dressing and undressing her and is so totally besotted because she created her. Our Bear cost just over £20 including the clothes. It is expensive in terms of what it actually is, but if you compare this to the price it costs for some days out where you have nothing to take home at the end of it, it seems a little more reasonable in this context. Evie has definitely enjoyed this experience more than any other since our holiday in France back in August. She just keeps telling us that Harry needs one too now though, and I'm not confident about how many of the decisions he'll be allowed to make in the shop if his big sister's there too!

Friday, 15 October 2010

When I grow up I want to be...

I witnessed a little gem of a conversation this evening between my daughter and her friend, whic made me smile so I thought I'd share it with you. Evie's pre school were talking about different jobs that people do, so she started talking to her friend when we met them for swimming. My husband and I are both teachers. Evie's friend's mother is also a teacher while her dad is a manager of a health club. Clearly our values relating to the importance of both education and ambition have ingrained themselves in our offspring...

(E)vie: I might be a teacher when I'm a adult.
(F)riend: I might be too, we could see the big boys and girls and go on the trampoline like our Mums! (incidentally the last time I set foot on a trampoline I was about 6!) Well actually I don't want to be a teacher, I want to be a conceptionist.
E: Me too, I want to be a conceptionist. What's a conceptionist?
F: You know, the ones at the front who play on Beebies on the computer and answer the phones and press the button to open the gate.
E: Oh. Well actually I know what I want to be. I want to be a tooth fairy so I can stay up all night and take teeth to pirates.
F: Me too, let's be tooth fairies when we're adults.
E: Yeah.

So there we have my daughter's career aspirations, and to think I'm worrying about school applications at the moment! Anyone got the Ofsted report for Hogwarts Primary to hand?!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Teacher or Mum? Or Both?

I qualified as a secondary school teacher at the age of 21, so apart from various jobs I did as a student it's the only form of 'work' I've ever known. Why did I put the 'w' word in inverted commas? Well to me, I never really saw it as work. Obviously it was, during term time it was tiring, sometimes I worked 15 hour days, often I'd work weekends. Occasionally I'd leave work early, then sit at home planning lessons or marking books for another 9 hours - yes really! The trouble is, I found it difficult calling it work because I loved it so much - I still do. It's fab getting up knowing that you are guaranteed genuine enthusiasm, ambition, and plenty of laughter at some point. On top of that, the feeling you get at certain points in the year, for example on GCSE results day or at the end of the school show, success and joy, just makes you forget about the long stressful hours you've put in, in order to be able to witness these moments. It's suddenly all worth it and nothing else matters.

It's just like the first time you set eyes on your newborn child, how everyone knows that first cuddle makes you forget all the time and pain it took for them to get there!

I'm a very all or nothing kind of person, so when I was pregnant for the first time, I was petrified about the prospect of not being at work and was only going to take three months off initially. I'd been selected to represent Dorset as the Leading Teacher for my subject which I was immensely proud of, but what if my maternity cover made decisions I didn't like? What if they didn't prepare the students for their exams properly? and I guess if I'm being honest, there was also a strong sense of 'What if my maternity cover makes good decisions?' and 'What if the students like their maternity cover better than me?' You're never going to be able to win in that situation particularly when you're a big bulging bag of hormones!

When my daughter was born in May 2007, all of a sudden my priorities changed and it was thanks to my maternity cover that this happened. My daughter was born 3 days before the GCSE Music final exam, and I had told my replacement that I would go into school that day to talk through everything with the students unless I was in labour. I stayed in hospital overnight and checked my emails when I got home the next day, to find a message entitled 'Congratulations and Lesson Plan.' The message itself read: 'Congratulations on your little girl. I'm presuming this means you won't be coming in for Lesson 3 as planned, so could you please forward me a lesson plan for Year 11?' This message was truthfully sent while I was still in the birthing pool, not even any sign of a placenta yet! From that point on, I had my beautiful little girl to look after and the thought of having to leave her and go back to work was the scariest prospect in the world. Three months very quickly became the entire year I was allowed to take, and I returned already pregnant with my son.

I was prompted to write this post for Holly's working mum's carnival over at It's a Mummy's Life and as soon as I read about it I knew I wanted to contribute. For me, it was never a serious option that I would leave work completely. I happen to have got married and bought my first house about three years too late for this to be viable. My decision to go back to work wasn't purely financial, although this was a big part of it. We could afford it, just, but there would be no money left over for anything else, no treats, and I feel very strongly that everyone deserves those.

I know a lot of parents, my own mother included would argue that this doesn't matter, as long as you are there to see your children grow up, that time costs nothing etc. I don't think I'm ready to go back to work full time yet, and maybe if I'd hated my job things would be different, but I love working three days every week. Here's why:

  • I still get to spend the majority of my time with the children on a weekly basis and get 13 weeks holiday a year too
  • We can afford to provide our children with everything they need, when they need it
  • We can afford to treat ourselves
  • We can have a family holiday every year without getting into debt which the kids love
  • The children go to nursery and pre school and really do benefit from the contact with other children, and learn values they couldn't fully appreciate if they were at home with me the whole time
  • From a selfish point of view I get to eat lunch three days a week with people who don't also attempt to eat their own poo, and if I need a wee, noone follows me into the cubicle, jewellery I wear generally stays put for the whole day and my clothes remain the colour they begin when I put them on in the morning!
  • As a result of the above point, my patience has generally been restored from going to work, meaning that I am able to enjoy my four days with the children, doing fun things that only toddlers can dream up!
  • Working three days will hopefully keep me up to date with developments in education so that I am still employable if I decide I would like to go back to work full time

So ultimately, do I feel guilty being a working mum? Yes, but it is a selfish guilt which I think any parent feels, whether they work full time or are just asking someone else to look after their child for 20 minutes so they can pop to the shops. I would also feel guilty if I didn't go to work and wasn't able to buy that special toy that one of the children had been yearning after for ages, or if they couldn't go on that day out with their friends because we'd had to get rid of our second car. It really is no win once you have children. Everyone has their own opinions about what is right and wrong, and just like everything else in life, we will never have everyone in agreement, so we just have to go with what we think is right for us. Ultimately, my children are happy, they are well rounded, they are cared for 24/7 and Mummy and Daddy are still their best friends. I love my job, but my children and my family are my life. I'm lucky I get to enjoy both, and it's only one week til half term when we all get to spend the whole week together!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Play Doh Tastic

My best childhood friend's brother once said that I was 'unable to shut up, even on a postcard!' after they got charged excess postage because I selotaped an essay to the bottom of my picturesque ramblings. He died at an unfairly young age last year so I've decided in his honour to not even try and be wordless on a Wednesday, however I will try and share a photo with you and let that do most of the talking!

Over on Twitter, I've been moaning about the headache I've now had for three days. I don't get loads of headaches, but when I do they're really intense and seem to go on for ages. I was thinking a day off work today would help, given that trying to teach about 150 teenagers yesterday all armed with musical instruments definitely didn't help, nor did going to bed last night at 9pm and getting a full 10 hours kip.

How naive to think that 2 toddlers would be happy to give me a break and let me have a headache in peace! Or is it? I feel like I owe my sanity to the company that invented Play Doh right now. My children have been playing happily, contentedly and independently for nearly an hour now, and I think my headache might just be on it's way out. If only they could carry on like this for another hour...!



Thursday, 7 October 2010

Am I finally a grown up?

I remember one Christmas when I must have been 7 or 8. My mum was opening a present from my dad and unwrapped a set of saucepans. I thought to myself at this age that I never wanted to be a grown up if everything you got as a present was actually just stuff you needed. Where was the fun in that?

I also know my daughter has the same sentiments. She was visibly unimpressed this year on her birthday when someone bought her a plain t-shirt with no character or even pattern on it, and when shopping for a present for my father-in-law's birthday this year she had a full on frustrated tantrum because she couldn't get her head around the idea that he would want anything other than a toy as his present!

Don't get me wrong, if my husband or anyone else buys me a set of saucepans this Christmas I will not be impressed but I'm wondering if lusting after certain household objects, secretly wishing you could own them is what determines when you're officially a grown up. I've never considered myself to be a grown up, I still have to stifle a snigger if someone in my class passes wind audibly, I find the News boring and my favourite sweets are white mice, but I've recently found myself considering putting some household items on my Christmas list this year (along with perfume and impractical shoes obviously)!

When does a necessity become a luxury? When we redecorated, hubby was happy to spend the extra on the furniture to get the nicer version, the solid oak rather than the veneer, but when it comes to other necessities, he gets really agitated if I suggest getting a 'nicer' version. Things like oven gloves, tea towels, fruit bowls, you get the idea. He understands we need them, but not why we need the (beautiful, pretty Cath Kidston) ones which cost more than the Sainsbury's Basics ones.

So for the first time ever, I'm considering asking for some householdy type things for Christmas. If I do ask for a gorgeous cup cake stand, some perfume I like (but am seduced by the bottle it comes in just as much) or some pretty china bowls for Christmas, does this mean I've officially reached adulthood and will be yearning after saucepans before I hit 32? Please no!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Five things I love about my Mum

It's Wednesday so I've been trying to do wordless posts for a while, but as I find it difficult to shut up ever, these often prove more difficult than my other posts!

I consider myself a Mummy Blogger but today is my very own Mummy's birthday as she reaches the grand old age of 55 so I thought I'd dedicate my post to her, and let you all know why I'm so proud that she's my Mum.

  1. She always fought to give me the best opportunities. At one point she was working three different jobs so that I would have options available to me when I left school.
  2. She taught me how to be responsible with money. I'm the only one of my friends who isn't paying off a loan for something. I never buy something unless I can afford to pay for it.
  3. She always forgives me. Even for the time I tipped my entire dinner into her handbag so I didn't have to eat peas, and the time I told the Vicar at the kids pet service not to bless our dog because he was 'a andy little sod!'
  4. She's honest. Sometimes it hurts, but at least I know if she tells me I look good, I know I really do!
  5. She's still here putting up with me! Apparently I was a 'teenager from hell!' I can remember saying some really horrible, unforgivable things to my mum in the past, but she's still here being my mum!


So happy birthday Mum, love you!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Stranger things...

I'm sure I'm giving my daughter mixed messages when it comes to who she should talk to. One minute I'm asking her to tell someone I've bumped into at the shops all about something she's done, the next I'm asking her to stop bothering the lady she's befriended on the bus. Perhaps I have mixed feelings too. My daughter was holding full on conversations before she was 18 months old and hasn't really stopped since, but I was prompted to write this post after an experience we had when we went to London recently. It was both one of the funniest and unsettling experiences of my life!

We were visiting my best friend who is Evie's Godmother and she lives in Crouch End. We'd promised to go to the London Aquarium, otherwise known as the 'Fishy Zoo' and this involved a bus and tube ride into central London. On the way there she was a bit unsure of the whole public transport thing, and was particularly wary of the tube as she couldn't see out and we were on one of those ones with the dodgy lights that flick on and off, so quite often it was pitch black for her. After the aquarium though she was full of beans. My friend had also bought her the Cath Kidston London print bag so she'd had great fun seeing all the things on her bag, including the London Eye and a red bus!

I wasn't looking forward to the return journey though as I was anticipating a tantrum, especially seeing as she was very tired. How wrong I was. The tube was much quieter on the way back so Evie had a spare seat next to her. The tube journey from that moment went something like this:

E: "Daddy, whose seat is this?"
D: "That's noone's seat at the moment.

At the next stop, a lady got on and sat next to Evie.

E (to the lady): "Hello, who are you? I'm Evie, did you forget that this was your seat?"
L: (somewhat bemused) "Hello, I'm Anya, it's lovely to meet you."
E: "Well this is my bunny, that's my mummy and daddy, that's Jenny, she's my Godmother, and this is my brother Harry who's asleep because he's a baby, but he's a boy so he has a little willy."

The lady at this point was crying with laughter. Evie then regaled her with every intricate detail of our day so far. This took a good 15 minutes! Finally in an attempt to get Evie to leave the poor lady alone we told her we'd have to get up because soon we would be getting off the train:

"Well in a minute, we all have to get off this train to go on a bus, so you will look at the seat and you will wonder where I am and you'll be shouting "Evie, where are you?" but I won't be answering because I'll be on the bus!"

At our stop, Evie actually cried and wanted to give the lady a cuddle before we left. While very hilarious, I can't help worrying that if a complete stranger came up to her with different intentions, would she know the difference?

Anyhow, you'd think that was the end of it wouldn't you? Would you believe me if I said that on the second part of our journey this happened:

Sat near the back of the bus on the side facing seats: "We know a song about a bus don't we mummy?"

"Which song is that?" This prompted Evie to sing the first verse of 'The Wheels on the Bus.' A couple of people looked mildly amused. She then turned to my friend and said, "Jenny, do you know the bit about the wipers?" This was fine, and we got through the next verse. She then turned to a lady who was sitting opposite and said "And do you know the bit about the conductor?" I would've let the ground swallow me up. I will cut the story as short as I can now, but never in my life have I had an experience like this. My 3 year old daughter got the back of a London bus joining in together singing 'The Wheels on the Bus' with actions! This doesn't happen does it? Perhaps in cheesy movies or something, but not in real life, and definitely not with my three year old daughter at the centre of it! She's normally so reserved when around a lot of people at once!

I know my daughter felt safe and secure because she was with three adults who care greatly about her so I know this is just a funny story and something we can talk about with a smile on our faces, but to what extent should we allow our children to talk to strangers? When is it appropriate and when does it go against all the principles of stranger danger? Sometimes I wish I could just jump into her three year old bubble world where there is no bad. What a wonderful place that is!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A wordless but hair raising experience...

It's that moment, time for my youngest baby to have his first haircut, yes there's a tear in my eye, but I wanted to share it with you - isn't he being a good boy?!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Think before you speak.

I feel quite guilty sometimes that the majority of my posts are centred around my daughter. Being a couple of years older, they generally concern things she has said or done, or are about issues which I'm learning about as a parent for the first time, so I thought I'd do a post about my son today.

He's 17 months old now, and at the age where he's just learning his first few words, but isn't really talking in vast amounts yet. I thought it would be interesting to work out exactly which words he can say and use correctly. In addition to 'Yes' 'No' and 'Ta' here's a list of his vocabulary so far:

  • More
  • Snack
  • Juice
  • 'Over there'
  • TV
  • Ball
  • Teddy
  • Upsy Daisy
Bless him, he's got a long way to go, reading down that list, it could make you think that all boys do is expect to be waited on, eat, drink, watch tv and play with balls...

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Hrmph!

I have a fantastic group of friends. I still call them my 'baby friends' even though the children through which we all met will be starting school in less than a year. They all met at antenatal classes but I never went to any so I kind of gatecrashed their group when I met them at an Under 1s group.

We've become very close and five of us have second children now who are only a few weeks apart too. We've all been on holidays together and tell each other pretty much anything, the things that you really do only share with your closest friends. However, I have a secret that I haven't told them, and I feel I should really whisper it for fear of having parents descending on me and questioning my rights to be a parent at all. But here it is: *whispering so barely audible* I hate soft play centres and I also hate the park!

I love doing fun things with the kids and my loathing doesn't stop me going but as soon as I get a text suggesting either option for the kids I get that sinking feeling in my stomach. The soft play I can't stand because unless you're really lucky there will always be one child there whose mother thinks that they've paid the small entry price for childcare and not for soft play facilities, which means that the rest of the parents are constantly trying to reason with their own upset children when really they all just want to remove the offending child from the building! It's like when two children are fighting over one toy. If the toy belongs to your child, you tell them they must share, if it belongs to the other child, you tell your child it doesn't belong to them and ask them to give it back (or is it just me with these double standards?!) You would never dream of telling the other child that they must learn to share their toys with your own child!



On the plus side, the place itself is fab, I don't think it's overpriced or anything, and they make really nice coffee!

As for the park, well I spend half my life there because the kids love it so, and all of my baby friends seem to love it too - I can't bring myself to confide that I really don't like the fact that if we have any weather apart from rain, including snow, wind, arctic temperatures that I don't want to go and stand outside with no warmth, watching both my kids run off in opposite directions, both demanding my immediate attention!


So there we have it, I'm sure I will continue doing both activities several times a month until my kids no longer enjoy it, but I've let you in on my little secret - don't tell anyone!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Free Fun

Having 6 weeks holiday every summer is never going to be something I complain about! However, I noticed that since having kids this break brought with it a certain expectation from the little ones that this was a special time, and with this they associated treats and being able to do exciting things, which often cost ridiculous amounts of money for what they actually are. A particular gripe of mine is that when your child hits 3, they suddenly become an 'adult' in terms of entrance price, even though they often can't do a lot of the activites because they don't meet the criteria e.g. not tall enough.

We recently went for a day out to meet Dora the Explorer at the Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth. My 3 year old was desperate to do this and it was a very kind Christmas present from her Great Grandad that he bought us a family day pass which we could use whenever we liked. Had we not had this, the day would have cost us over £50. My 3 year old had a brilliant time and we did spend the whole day there, but this kind of expense is obviously not sustainable over a long 6 week holiday (did I mention I get 6 weeks holiday in the summer?!).

We're really having to be careful with money as are lots of our friends and so we decided to see, after returning from our holiday whether we could have a 'frugal' week. We tried to do at least one activity every day that was for the children, so here's how we spent a week enjoying ourselves for less than a tenner:

Moors Valley Country Park We started the week with a family day out here. They do charge for car parking, but there's so much to do for free: walks and cycle rides, play trails, tree top trails, play areas, and lots of places for picnics and feeding ducks. Obviously there's other things that you do need to pay for like a steam train, and Go Ape but a fab day was definitely had by all!

Rockpooling We had so much fun doing this when we went camping. We drove down to Kimmeridge Bay and stayed there with fishing nets and buckets for nearly 3 hours. Wrap up warm though because despite being a nice day it was very cold and windy!

The Splash Park is a definite hit. Why is it that children just love water?! This council run park is fantastic and you could easily spend a day there because of its location on Christchurch Quay. As well as the water park there is also a traditional park, lots of green grass, and lovely ducks to feed!

The Library. I'm sure this doesn't sound great but we went to the library to return some books and ended being there for most of the morning. Libraries offer so much more than a book loaning service now. My 1 year old loves his weekly Wriggle and Rhyme class, while my 3 year old enjoys going in and playing with the toys (most of which she has versions of at home!), choosing books for her brother or just sitting down at the tables and looking through the books herself.

The Forest. I guess we're really lucky living where we do because not everyone has the luxury of having this and the next option on their doorstep, but you really can't beat putting the bikes, picnics and ball games into the car and heading into the forest for the day. Some of the parks in the forest even have barbecue sites.

The beach. The sun comes out, the costumes and spf go on, bucket and spade and picnic in the back, and we're off for another day of getting soaked and bringing half a tonne of sand home, but again, for no money at all, we've had a lovely day!

Honeybrook Farm. Another great day out. This is an actual working farm that makes its income through donations, and the farm shop (and car parking again). As well as seeing the animals and having (another) lovely picnic, there's walking trails, an adventure playground and tractor trailer rides to be had too!

So it's definitely possible to have fun on little money, a revelation that most parents will already know, and luckily my children are still at the age when fun is fun and money is irrelevant, but I'll definitely need your help in a few years when that ceases to be the case!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Precious Moments

I remember the day: April 8th 2008. It was the day I'd been dreading as it was the day my maternity leave finished and I had to go back to work after having my daughter. I remembered looking round the nursery just before Christmas in 2007 and seeing the big sign welcoming children aged between 3 months and 5 years. At that point, 5 years old seemed like a lifetime away. Five year olds are proper human beings, my little girl was still a bundle who I wrapped up in my arms.

Now however, I've been thinking about all those precious moments that I've acknowledged but still feel as though I've let pass me by. I've seen a lot of my friends pack their children off to school for the first time this week, and I've seen so many new faces in my own job as the new Year 7s have arrived (incidentally, when did 11 year olds get so confident?! It appears that the days of having timid young faces looking at you for a few weeks as they enter the world of big school are long gone!) that I've gone all nostalgic. Suddenly I'm trying to stop time as September 2011, when my eldest child starts school suddenly seems so close, and while I love seeing her grow in confidence every day and certainly don't want to wrap her up in cotton wool, I also want the present to go on forever!

I know I've got a lot of decisions to make about schools and despite working in the education system the whole thing seems so daunting. How do you decide where to send your child? The right decision can set them up for life. We are only in catchment for one school but we already know that it is 60% subscribed for next year from siblings, and several people we know who live nearer the school haven't got in. Do you go for a church school even though we don't go to church? Do we opt for the one with the best Ofsted report but the worst reputation? Is a supporting environment at home enough once your child starts school?

I know in a couple of months when it really matters, my professional head will kick in and help but it's such an important step and one that your heart really has to help with too. I'm going to be a blubbering wreck on the school gates on her first day I'm sure, despite the fact that I still haven't forgiven my own mother for being one on my first day 26 years ago!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

To mark the end of our fabulous 6 week holiday, I thought I'd share Big H's personal highlight with you today. The day in France that he found a big of crisps that was actually longer than his arm!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Who would you be?

I love my life, but sometimes I do find myself feeling jealous of various people, I guess it's human nature. Being a Heat magazine addict, I often see celebs asked in interviews "If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?" and if I read this question, I'll often think who I'd like to be. Would it be someone who is rich? Someone stunning? Momentarily perhaps, but when it comes down to reality, all I want to be is happy, which I am. So who would I be?

That's where my 3 year old comes into the equation. She's happy too, which makes me happy, but why is she happy? Well unlike adults, she has no worries. Her favourite people are Fifi and the Flowertots and her biggest concern is where her toy bunny has gone, or whether she can swap her jacket potato for a Malteser, but she knows that she just has to voice her concerns and mummy or daddy, or someone else (she's not picky who!) can sort said issue for her.

I am a real worrier, I worry about everything, and I know that if I didn't I'd worry about why I wasn't! I will never change in that respect, but to have a day where all my worries went away could be very liberating, so I've therefore decided that if I could be anyone else for a day, I'd have to be someone who basically mirrored my own life in terms of happiness, family, etc. but someone who has a tendency to worry less than me, and shares my passion for chocolate cake. I can only think of one person who satisfies all these criteria, so meet my chosen alter ego:
 I look forward to hearing who you'd be!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Results Day!

After a lovely week away in London, it's definitely time to update the blog! This post is dedicated to the hard work of my Year 11 GCSE students, rather than my own children, because they are simply fab. It's a well documented stereotype that teenagers can be a little on the lazy side. Although I haven't got to that stage with my own children yet, I have been teaching them for 10 years (which in itself makes me feel very old)!

When I returned to work after maternity leave, the Year 11 students I taught had had a string of supply teachers. As a teacher, I have always seen it as my responsibility to do the absolute best for the students I teach. This is what I am paid for after all. Don't worry, I also have a normal side and enjoy the holidays very much too!

However, on my return from maternity leave, there were 2 weeks until the national deadline for the coursework. As I teach music, a very practical subject, coursework accounts for 75% of the GCSE, and so getting everything done on time and to the best of the students' abilities seemed like an impossible task. Those two weeks were the hardest two weeks of my professional career, but these students were not to blame, and deserved the opportunity to do the best they can. I was in school from 7:30am until 6pm when I had to leave to collect my children before the nursery shut! I did this every day, including my days off. I had Year 11 students with me this entire time, working hard to get the best they could achieve.

Not once did any of them complain, they simply wanted to do well. I even contacted one student at 10:30pm via msn (they had accidentally sent me an invite, due to emailing me a piece of coursework previously) so they could email me a document, and this was 10 hours before their exam!

According to data, 50% of my group should have been able to achieve C grades or above. I was so delighted when I opened up the envelope and saw 60% C grades and above. Class of 2010, you are a credit to the teenage population - well done!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Blogger's Paradise?

Am I a Mummy Blogger? Well I sometimes blog, and generally my posts revolve around children, although sometimes they are not mine. However I have given birth to 2 children, whose antics often do feature in my posts, so I guess that yes, I'm a Mummy Blogger. I'm pretty new to it though. I don't really have any objectives that I'm aiming to achieve as a result of my blogging, I simply enjoy having a little outlet where I can put my thoughts and opinions down, and have a bit of fun making them look pretty. I went back to my girl guide days the other day when one of my posts got featured on http://www.parentdish.co.uk/ and I got a badge to put on my blog!

For me, social networking is something I enjoy and I'm lucky that I haven't had a bad experience yet, so all this talk of cyberbullying in the Mummy Blogging world just makes me feel really sad. I guess however it's just a fact of life that some people are 'glass half full' and some will always be 'glass half empty.' However, social networking is really just a branch of reality nowadays and no one can deny that unfortunately people react like this in the real world too. It's just a sad fact and here's some examples:

When I first went back to work after maternity leave I had a lot of catch up to do with my students to try and help them get the grades they deserved (fingers crossed for tomorrow!). The vast majority of people I work with were really helpful and supportive, but one colleague had two choices: help and support me in trying to do what was best for everyone concerned, or put me down publicly and deliberately make me feel like poo. When they chose the latter, I felt gutted, really upset, but did that stop me doing 'the right' thing? No, if anything, the support I got from everyone else reassurring me that this person was clearly the one with the problem, made me feel more confident than I did before, and I really hope when the students get their results tomorrow their hard work and my perseverence is rewarded.

My daughter came home from pre school today and told us a boy had taken her beloved 'bunny' from her and told her she couldn't have it back. I asked her how it made her feel and what she did. She said it had made her sad but had told the boy that he could share it with her and he could hold it for 15 seconds. Then she told the teacher who made her give it back. 1-0 to my daughter!

Someone pushed my son over the other day because he rang on the door bell of the play house in the kids area at the gym. My son wasn't impressed, but it didn't stop him ringing the bell again... relentlessly for about 10 minutes!
 
We're all sensitive people. I think the difference with cyberbullying is that firstly it's there for all to see, a public humiliation of sorts, and secondly, it can be relived. A blazing row is just that. Over in minutes and all you can do is relive it in your head (and if you're anything like me try and work out what would've been a better, wittier retort to make instead of the pathetic one you did!). When it's through the computer though you can read those comments again and again, they don't change, and they probably don't get any easier to read. Those same horrible stabbing pains in your stomach return every time.

No one has the right to make another person feel this way. It's fine to disagree, but please read what you write before you post your comment. You need to explain why you disagree otherwise your thoughts can just be construed as insults and correct me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure that's not why we're all here!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is my husband's birthday. Out of the four of us, his birthday falls latest in the year and we've not had a particularly successful run of birthdays this year. My son had chickenpox on his first birthday back in April, and felt very sorry for himself. I've never seen a case of chicken pox as bad as what he had, and in conjunction with his eczema flaring up from the calamine lotion I'd put on him, he was very miserable indeed.

Just three weeks later, my daughter turned three. The day before I was driving here there and everywhere to sort out her party, and the pink icing for her cake, which was apparently compulsory, and she threw up in the car, which was the start of a horrid (though thankfully very short lived) sickness bug.

Last month saw my birthday loom. I was hoping it would be more successful than my 30th last year when my surprise party had to be cancelled due to a funny rash developing on my daughter on the morning of my birthday. It's strange how as soon as you say 'Evie has a rash...' all manner of excuses came flooding in by text! Turns out it was nothing serious but it was disappointing all the same. So I turn 31 and what do I get? Tonsillitis! I spent the day feeling very sorry for myself waiting for the antibiotics to kick in!

But my husband is celebrating today. The 'glass half empty' part of me was kind of wondering what was going to jinx this birthday, but we woke up this morning, the sun was shining, we had a lovely time opening presents and having a nice family breakfast. The kids have gone to nursery as it's my 1 year old's last day in 'Babies' today before moving up to 'Younger Toddlers' (queue lots of broody feelings from me now 'I don't have a baby anymore' *sob sob*) so he has his leaving party!

The world is our oyster, no one is sick, we both have the day off, we can spend it however we want to. I had visions of a nice lunch, walking along the beach perhaps, but obviously it's my husband's choice. What did he decide to do for his 'ideal birthday?' Well nothing can beat walking down to the local shop to pick up a Ginster's Sausage Roll, then coming back and playing on XBox all day can it?!

Oh well, boys will always be boys I guess, at least we've got this to tuck into later!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Fun in the Sun!

I think I've finally got it! So many of the people I know live for their holidays. I'm not talking about the kind where you don't have to go to work, I'm talking about the ones where you have to pack a suitcase and go away from your house! I've never been one for holidays. Even as a kid, my parents used to have to cut their holidays short because I was (in their words) "a bloody nightmare!" I just didn't understand why people would want to leave their house and their comforts, to spend time somewhere strange with nothing to do that they normally enjoy doing. I had this opinion until this summer. My husband and I got together in 2002. Until this summer we had had one holiday, which was our honeymoon in 2005, which I think we only really went on because you kind of have to! We had lots of weekends away, visits to friends etc. but nothing you would actually term a proper holiday.

Having grown up very untravelled, I never wanted this for my children, so my husband and I decided that from this year we would make sure that we went on holiday somewhere every year. Even booking it this year was only done 3 weeks before we left, because I had so many fears and reservations, but we had to do it for the kids!



However, I feel quite grown up now having been on a proper holiday all by myself! We had 2 short holidays back to back. First of all we went camping for 3 days to Norden Farm near Corfe, very close to where we live, we then went to La Grande Metairie campsite in France for a week. The kids had an amazing time as they got to experience things they've never done before, and with an innocence, enthusiasm and excitement that can never be seen in the mundanity of every day life. So what made it so special for me?

  • Not wearing a watch because it didn't really matter what the time was
  • Not cringing every time the kids got dirty because it'd soon wash off in the pool!
  • Being able to say yes when the kids asked to do something because there was no reason why they couldn't like there is at home
  • Drinking wine in the middle of the day
  • Having no internet or xbox!
Her fave place on holiday (expensive as we have one in our garden)!
Poor Daddy's turn!
I asked my 3 year old what she most enjoyed about holiday too. Here are her answers:
  • Eating chocolate yoghurts and Smarties ice cream
  • Saying Bonjour and Au Revoir
  • Burying Mummy and Daddy in the sand
  • The bouncy castle and swings
  • The mini disco




Here's what she thought her 1 year old brother enjoyed most:
  • Eating chocolate yoghurts
  • Eating Smarties ice cream
  • Burying Mummy and Daddy in the sand
  • Eating sand on the beach
  • Weeing in the shower!

Giving it some at the Mini Disco!





I've definitely learnt to understand why people value their holidays now and we're already looking into next year, although knowing us, we'll be scrabbling around 3 weeks before again, just hope we get as lucky second time!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

£102.60 and a Large McFlurry!

The main perk I get with my job is 13 weeks holiday a year, which is fab. All that time I get to spend with my family, which inevitably ends up with spending far too much money. Sometimes this makes me think about the perks other people get with their jobs. One of our closest friends is the manager of a health club so his family never have to pay for membership to a health club. I have another friend who works for Marks and Spencer so she gets fab staff discount and they sell off all their food (which we all know is totally lush!) really cheap at the end of each day.
When I first started teaching full time I had to give up my job at a Brewer's Fayre restaurant which also meant surrendering my Whitbread discount card, which gave me really good discounts in Brewer's Fayre, Pizza Hut, Costa, Travelodges and all sorts more. What did I get in return? 20% of insurance with a certain company who shall remain nameless, but let's just say their prices are about 30% more than most insurance companies!

I've been teaching for 9 years, so some of my ex students are now in their late 20s, only about 3 years younger than me (scary!) and some of them are in pretty good jobs. Over the last few weeks, I've discovered another of the many perks to my job - who you know! I may not get 20% off in a store, but I've done pretty well in recent times thanks to the wonderful students I (or to be fair my husband too) have taught! Sometimes I've even felt guilty but I've never ever asked to get the treatment I have!
  • We ordered a takeaway the other night. Hubby answered the door. "That'll be £22.60 please - oh, alright Sir, just call it a tenner then!"
  • Buying our kids new shoes the other week, came to a total of £59 including some unnecessary bag that Evie managed to sneak up to the till. After getting served by a lovely girl who was in my tutor group for 5 years we had staff discount applied to our purchases and ended up saving nearly £20
  • I get a 10% discount on my acrylic nails every time I go
  • We went to buy a new hoover and bumped into an ex student who saved us a whopping £70 on our purchase through some kind of price match promotion
  • I've had free Nandos nuts and McFlurrys with loads of the extra toppings whenever I've popped in recently!
I'd just like to add that all of these things that I've benefited from are totally above board, nothing corrupt has been done! All of these students are in management responsibilities, the takeaway is actually owned by an ex student!

So as I'm sat here enjoying my break while the kids have a little rest from their hardcore playing, I'm mulling over how I can encourage next year's school leavers to perhaps pursue careers in sports car retail, or luxury holidays!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

My children have a better social life than me!

Evie thinks it's great that we're on our summer holidays but she doesn't quite get the subtle difference yet between being on holiday from work and actually being on holiday. Every time we leave the house she insists we bring her suitcase! We had to pull her round the shops on her pink Trunki yesterday! So in an attempt to be more organised than we usually are and help her understand, we've actually planned out our activities for the week, and here we have proof that children definitely do have better social lives than anyone else!

Today started with a family swim, which generally takes the form of Evie looking for any volunteers to play 'What's the Time Mr. Wolf?' in the water while Harry within seconds identifies the most dangerous place from which to hurl himself into the water. We'll then probably end up going to the new park at the back of our house.

Monday sees my husband and I having a day to ourselves while the children are at nursery, and it's my belated birthday outing where hopefully I will spend far too much money and hubby'll buy me a few presents.

On Tuesday, Evie has a play date which will involve lots of painting and messiness as well as biscuits and ice cream and a trip to the new splash park near us.

On Wednesday, Evie's favourite day out, the Adventure Wonderland is being visited by none other than Dora the Explorer so an overpriced (though hopefully very fun!) day packed full of children and an hour long wait to get on the 2mph rides is sure to ensue, though it'll all be worth it to see the kids smiling with absolute pleasure!

It's Harry's friend's birthday party on Thursday, to which Evie would obviously be outraged if she couldn't attend!

And already it's Friday, when we're packing everything into our car and to go camping with three other couples who have children the same age as ours. I was really hoping Harry would be walking by this trip, but there's still 5 days left for that...

So there we have it - a full, fun packed week. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change it for anything, these special days we get to have to gether as a family are fab, but if every week pans out like this, it does make me wonder whether I'll be going to go back to work feeling like I've had a break at all!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

And Relax...

Finally I'm on holiday! That last week always seems to drag. It's just a formality you have to get through. My birthday is always in the last week of term too, why couldn't I have just held off a week to guarantee a day off on my birthday every year - damn my mum's pre eclampsia and subsequent induction?!

Still it's finally here, so how to spend my first weekend? Relaxing? If only! I now need to catch up on the very long list of jobs which I have been 'putting off until we break up' for the last three weeks!
  • Posting the birthday parcels which are now a week late
  • Tidying the house up
  • Returning all the orders I made on the Next VIP sale that I never would've bought in a million years had I been browsing in the shop
  • Getting as much school work done as I can before I totally forget how to use my brain. Even as an adult I still get that thing where you can't write properly when you go back to school in September!
  • Visiting my 98 year old Gran who lives in a residential home which is 45 minutes away
  • Start packing for our holiday. My husband still can't understand why it takes me so long. He honestly doesn't understand why a family of four would need to take more than a pair of pants and an ipod camping!
  • Make sure I keep up my resolution of 30 minutes exercise every day of the holidays. Starting by removing all the storage boxes off my cross trainer...
Don't worry though, hubby's been busy too:
  • He's successfully located his car after he left in 'somewhere in town' last night so he could have a few drinks
  • He's saved the world on his XBox game
  • He's currently helping Evie have a little rest by sleeping like a baby next to her on the sofa...

Friday, 23 July 2010

Funny Five Friday

Well the day I've been looking forward to since March 22nd (the day I returned to work following my maternity leave) has finally arrived and I am on holiday for five weeks and four days. I thought I'd mark this happy day by creating a 'Funny Five Friday' and sharing five moments with you that have made me laugh out loud to spread the happiness! So here goes, hope I manage to bring a smile to at least one person's face as a rseult of my efforts!
  1. The end of term quiz. Things always start winding down towards the end of term. Lots of teachers end up showing films but my husband and I have always tried to do something a bit different once the curriculum for the year has been covered. As a music teacher it's quite easy for me - a good old inter house round of Singstar or Rock Band usually goes down well. My husband on the other hand teaches history and 'Mr Lawrence's End of Term Quiz' has become quite famous. The pub quiz style mixes rounds on topics studied throughout the year with bonus rounds. Due to his artistic skills, he decided to do a guess the animal round this year. He had 30 seconds to draw an animal, the students simply had to identify what he was drawing. Simple you say? Take a look. Answers at the bottom of the post!
  2. Condoms for hats. This is similar to something which happened to me a while back. I was completely and utterly shattered a couple of weeks ago. It turned out I had tonsillitis which explained why my head wasn't properly switched on. I had three students in my class who were wearing condoms on their heads. Turns out they were planning on using them as water bombs, but then realised they didn't have any water so decided to use them as hats instead! Made me chuckle afterwards!
  3. Sports Day. It's that time of year when every teacher has to brave it onto the school field and pretend they want to be there to cheer on their students! I always dread it but have to confess I really do get into the spirit of things and find it refreshing to see the students in a completely different light to how they are in a classroom. This year was great. One particular student who has a bit of a reputation for 'liking their food' was taking part in the 800m. Suddenly we realised he hadn't come round to start his second lap. Where was he? Turns out, on his way round he had found an abandoned lunch box, and we found him chomping on a ham sarnie by the big tree in the corner!
  4. Evie questioning the cashier's competence in Sainsbury's. Should this make me laugh? I'm not sure, but we went in to buy a couple of bits last week. When we got to the checkout one item didn't scan properly so the manager had to be called to put it through. Evie's response to the cashier was "It's 59 pennies. Surely the lady knows that - she works here!"
  5. My birthday. Last Sunday was my birthday. I was quite excited about it because Evie was so excited about going out and buying me presents and a cake (pictured below - the perfect choice for any 31 year old I'm sure you'll agree!). But really this was a day for Evie not for me. We got up early, went to feed the ducks, then went to the park, then swimming, out for lunch, a visit from my parents, quick play at home, before going out to dinner with one of my closest friends who has a daughter Evie's age. They played really well for a good 3 hours. That's how I'd describe the day. Before bed I asked her what her favourite part of the day was. Her answer: "I liked it when we saw the lady's bread get run over by a bus on the way to the restaurant!" Kids!
I hope something here has made you smile and that they weren't all 'need to be there' moments. Hope you all have a lovely weekend full of lots of things to make you smile. Oh, and if any of you wanted to take part in 'Mr. Lawrence's Quiz' here's the answers: 6. Mouse 7.Horse 8. Chimpanzee 9. Shark 10. Snake. Yes I'm serious!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

School's out for Summer!

If you've ever watched that scene in School of Rock when Jack Black's character as a substitute teacher legs it out of the classroom the second the bell rings getting to his camper van before the kids have even left the building, it'll give you some idea of how I will be feeling at 12:30pm tomorrow when we have officially broken up for 5 1/2 weeks!

If you've read my blog posts before you'll know how much I adore my job, but I'd be lying if somewhere near the very top of my list of things I enjoy about being a teacher you didn't see '13 weeks holiday a year!' We all know someone who gets defensive about how it's not 13 weeks holiday a year because of all the planning etc.etc. you have to do, but lets face it, of course it's 13 weeks holiday a year! Pretty much everyone in every job has to do things outside of their working hours and in my (not very wide I grant you) experience, the ones who get the most defensive about it are often the most work shy of all, generally being the ones who turn up at work at 8:45 and leave at 3:00! Of course I have things I'll need to do over the holiday and I'll need to go into school for a few days but it's nothing like actually being at work, and will it permeate that 'being on holiday' feel? Of course it won't, I won't let it!

Being a naturally quite lazy person, I always look forward to any day off, but this break is going to be a particularly special one for me for lots of reasons:
  1. It'll be my first holiday since going back from maternity leave so I'll appreciate it in a way you don't when you're off anyway.
  2. This will be my first summer in five years when I'm neither pregnant or breastfeeding so I'll be able to let my hair down a bit (in a responsible parent kind of way of course)!
  3. This summer we are going our first ever family holiday. As my husband is an assistant head, we are all off together so it's a real family time. I guess it might be a nightmare for some but I love it! We're starting by going camping locally with three other couples who have children the same age as ours. We've got a huge new tent, which supposedly sleeps 9 but I like my space and luxuries whether I'm camping or not. My GHDs will definitely be joining us! We then have a week booked in France, where because we were disorganised and left everything until the last minute we managed to get the 'luxury' accommodation for the same price as the tent. I'm sure I don't need to tell you which we opted for. Hopefully the 1 hour and 20 minutes it took to get our (at the time) 7 month old baby to not roll over on the regulation white board for his passport photo will pay off.
  4. The childrens' nursery still charges fees over the school holidays so we have decided to keep them both going throughout the holiday apart from when we are away. They often get unsettled if they haven't been there for a while, but it also means that my husband and I will have a whole day together each week when we can enjoy each other's company and do things that we can't do with the children. We're going shoe shopping, then to see Sex and the City 2 with my free Mullerlight vouchers on the first day, though he doesn't know that yet and I'm sure it's not what he had in mind when he thought of 'us' time!
  5. We live in such a beautiful part of the country, and have so many wonderful days out at our disposal which cost absolutely nothing so we really have no excuses to not be excited! Here's some snaps which were all taken within a 10 minute drive from our house.

A lovely walk with one of Evie's best friends.

Harry's first trip to the beach last summer aged 2 1/2 weeks.
Evie's favourite day out at the Adventure Wonderland.

So there we have it. It's that time of year when any of my friends who are not teachers get all grumpy because they have to go to work and don't want to come round for a big party on a Tuesday night or nip out to join us for lunch in their lunch break, but I work sometimes 16 hour days when I'm at work and this is my reward! I hope all of you who have 6 weeks of family time at your disposal enjoy it and make the most of it - we really are very lucky people!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Does Mummy really know best?

I'm writing this in the hope that someone will tell me straight. Could this be a case of 'Mummy knows best' or am I just one of those people that doctors cower under the table when they see?! I really don't like to waste doctor's time, and will usually wait until the last possible minute or until things get really bad before asking for help. I even waited until my son's head was out before I called maternity and consequently had him on a toilet floor! 

Anyone who I tweet with will know that my 1 year old son has bad eczema, and he's been on all sorts of cocktails of lotions and potions to keep it under control. A few weeks ago though it got very badly infected and he had to go on antibiotics in addition to everything else, including a strong steroid which always clears it up really well but can only be used for 2 weeks at a time because it thins the skin.

So today I phoned the doctor and asked what I should do because he's been on the cream for a fortnight and since stopping it and going back to the original one the eczema's all flared up again, making him really uncomfortable. I have creams and know I can control it, but I don't want to just be controlling it if I can get to the cause and try and prevent it in the first place. I have been told by the doctor that there is no cause of eczema and the only option is to treat it. I have friends who have been told similar things, but some have been referred to dermatologists and allergy testing places, and all those who have been referred have found causes and consequently eliminated triggers resulting in happy babies.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Seven things that make me happy!

After writing my last post, loads of people were with me and it was great because it meant that 1. I didn't feel quite so grumpy after all, and 2. That people were actually reading my blog!

Then I started having conversations with people and managed to come up with about 10 other things that should've been on the list, which made me feel like a grump all over again! So @batteryrunmum suggested that perhaps I should create a post of things that made me happy. I thought this was a great idea, but then she said I wasn't allowed to include my family and children in the list, so I figured it might be slightly more difficult. Obviously they are my life and I love them more than anything, but I'm up for the challenge and hope it will release a few endorphines into my slightly hungover system this morning. In no particular order...

1. Singing. Until I met my husband in 2000 this was the biggest part of my life. I joined a choir when I was 10 and was taught how to sing classically through this. At uni, despite having part time jobs, I made most of my money by singing. I sang on TV, went on international tours and even had a recital broadcast on Radio 3. I was possibly in retrospect a bit too sensible though. I decided that this was a dream for millions, and I enjoyed it so much that I didn't want to risk losing that enjoyment by depending on it for a living, so I decided I'd like to try and pass on some of the opportunities I'd had and trained to be a teacher. I still love singing though and when the kids and hubby go out, I'll still belt out an opera aria to remind me of the good times I had. Goodness know what the neighbours must think!

2. The smell of the country. I grew up in a tiny hamlet, with no buses, and very few cars, no shops, just lots of cows and muddy tracks. I hated it as a teenager, as I had no independence and I couldn't even rebel and sneak out unless I fancied an evening with the local baa lambs, and I became vegetarian when I learned the whole concept of slaughter houses. But as a child I loved it. I had the kind of childhood you read about in the old classics where the children get up with the sun, play outside, splashing around, not a care in the world until the sun sets. Whenever I smell that smell it reminds me of my childhood.

3. My job. I say about this so many times so I'll keep it short. While I do have a slight 'what if' about giving up my singing, how can I not be happy when I get to go and work with the best people in the world. Those who don't claim to know everything and have an enthusiasm for life. Those who despite having an image and an attitude to keep up still have respect for other people and no problem asking for help. Those people who can inflate condoms and use them as water bombs just because it's fun... Okay, perhaps there is a good place to stop!

4. Food. We need it to survive. Okay, so I love a good treat, but I also love cooking and the fact that I'm fortunate enough to be able to do that. I love the whole food process - shopping, cooking and eating.

5. My friends. Where would I be without them? I'm very lucky that my old and new friends and I all enjoy making the effort to stay in contact. Our lives have moved in completely different directions but we still see each other and it makes me feel happy and privileged to know that a giggle or a shoulder to cry on is only ever a click/phonecall away.

6. Coffee. Very superficial sorry, but after a sleepless night or a hard day at work, Mr or Mrs Caffeine always has been and will be a close ally of mine!

7. Me. Is this totally bigheaded? I was bullied at school as I was a great target: ginger, glasses, braces, overweight, huge boobs, from the country etc. etc. So when I was growing up I spent the whole time wishing I was someone else. I would make up stories to make me seem more interesting 'Yes I have got a boyfriend honest!' I know I'm not supposed to mention my family but if it wasn't for meeting my husband I'd still possibly be like that. Now I am proud to be me and I don't care if people think my life is boring or that I settled down to early, I just feel quite smug with my lot and want to shout it from the rooftops! Who I am now makes me happy!

So there we are. My only ever un-family-related blog. I know I am very fortunate and have lots of things in my life that make me happy for which I am thankful, but everything I've written about here is a million trillion times better because I have an amazing family and 2 amazing children to share it all with!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Seven things that make me grumpy...

Although I've had my blogspot account since last year, I still consider myself to be a complete novice. I see some fab blogs by the wonderful people I've met through Twitter and find what they write quite inspiring. I read far less books now and instead I am a nosey person, plain and simple! I get excited reading about what people I've never even met are up to, those wedding preps, births, hip replacements even visits from repair men to fix that dishwasher or washing machine keep me tuned in and I can't stop reading until I know that they've been and said items are fixed!

The other day though I was reading a post by one of the ladies I tweet with: @YummyNo1 http://yummymummyno1.wordpress.com (Like I said, I'm a complete novice and I'm not sure if I'm breaking blogging etiquette by not putting in some kind of special link to her page, apologies if I am, but her post about things that make us grumpy struck a chord with me). I laughed, empathised and thought to myself I must do the same, but it wasn't until yesterday when lots of people did things that, well yes, made me grumpy that I felt it was the right time, so here we go:

1. People who are rude. Yes this is a very big category, but yesterday I was at my 3 year old's swimming lesson, watching at the side, trying to stop my 1 year old hurling himself in fully clothed as you do! This lady sat down next to me, very heavily pregnant, watching her daughter swimming. Perhaps I'm too sociable but I tried to strike up a pleasantry style conversation, how old was her daughter, when's the baby due etc. I got nothing but a sneer. Please tell me I'm not being totally weird for talking to a stranger? I know my mum always told me not to, maybe she was right!

2. Work. Ok, so anyone who's read my posts before will know that this isn't true. I love my job and would never want to do anything else, but this only applies as far as to the entrance to the staffroom door. Note entrance, not exit. The students are fab, I'm passionate about my subject and I love the fact that I get to have a lunch break and wear necklaces without them being eaten 3 days a week. However what gets me are the people who don't have this philosophy when it comes to their jobs, the ones who turn up for first lesson, leave with the kids at 3, and moan about everything and everyone at any given opportunity, including my work which is none of their business! This week I've been told off by a different teacher (my equal, not superior) twice. Once, because some students chose to come to my revision class rather than hers, and once because I was unable to write reports for a certain class because I had been on maternity leave and therefore not taught them. Apparently due to these occurrences, I am 'an embarrassment'!

3. People who won't merge in turn when 2 lanes go into one, and cut you up. Would you idiots really prefer to risk your own and other people's lives just because your car is newer and shinier than mine?

4. People who go on Twitter with the sole aim of having as many followers as they can. I just don't get this, but it's been quite magnified by the whole Duncan's Dream thing. I was a bit slow on the uptake to this and have to confess that I did go on it a few days later to see what it was all about, but I followed a few people that seemed to have similar interests etc. to me. What I didn't then do was wait for them to follow me back then unfollow them so my ratios made me look more popular. I love tweeting with the people I do, but if I annoy them then they should stop following me. I have never tweeted about how many followers I have or want!

5. Lying about your tan. I'm whiter than white, one of those people who only has to read the Sun to burn. Then I peel and I'm back to white again. However I've finally found a fake tan in the form of Fake Bake which looks relatively natural on me. I've had quite a few compliments from people when I wear it, but they look really shocked when I tell them it's fake rather than try to pass it off as natural. Why do people do this, you wouldn't try and make out you weren't wearing make up so why is this any different?

6. When the yoghurt pot lid doesn't come off in one go. This is perhaps not the biggest issue in the world, but when you're on a diet, every last morsel counts so yes, I am uncouth and lick the lid! Trouble is the Muller Light yoghurts have a foil lid and I keep cutting my tongue when it doesn't all come off in one go. Grrr!

7. Silly substitutions. I did my first online shop this week in an attempt to avoid the weekly tired, hungry tantrums I've been getting taking them shopping with me. It was fab apart from one substitution. I ordered some lemon scented washing up liquid which was unavailable, so what did they send me instead? Lemons! Hope they don't send me a set of dentures next week if my toothpaste is unavailable!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sensitive palate or just plain fussy?

It's official, my daughter is a fussy eater! For several months now, I've been dreading meal times. It seems the more my 3 year old daughter is exposed to different foods, the less she will actually eat. I know without fail that we will have tears, and tantrums (which now she has hit 3, have dutifully trebled in size and effort) unless the answer to her "Mummy, what's for dinner?" question is either "Ham sandwiches" or "Macaroni cheese."

I've tried all the ideas people have suggested, like giving her choices so you maintain some control but she thinks she is calling the shots, and getting her to help me make it, or making it look pretty or funny on the plate, but she is so stubborn (no idea where she gets that from!) that nothing will work!

There's certain foods she won't eat at all, in any shape or form, most annoyingly, potato and tomato. I'd just love to be able to get in from work and shove some chips in the oven occasionally, or a pizza, but no. Ironically she's really good with nearly all fruit and veg, but so limited everywhere else, and she picks up subtle differences so easily. Normally I get Sainsbury's sweetcorn with no sugar or salt added. The other day I got Green Giant as it was all they had and she noticed the difference and consequently refused to eat any of her meal!

She also won't touch anything with skin on. She loves satsumas but won't eat them because of the skin. The other day I even found myself peeling sausages so she'd eat something! 

We're supposed to be going round to her friend's house to play and have tea later and I know she'll be getting fish fingers and mash. Something a year ago she would've gobbled up, but I'm already dreading it!

She does like really plain food so doesn't go without but it makes going out for food so difficult. Is this something that all 3 year olds go through or am I stuck with a fussy eater for life now?! My son will eat anything in sight, including his sister's leftovers given half the chance! I've always been one to stick to my guns, I won't cook another meal if she refuses to eat it, and now I have 2 children I know I need to offer a wide range of foods and get them all their nutrients, but at the same time, I don't want her to starve! On far too many occasions I've picked up from nursery and literally all she has eaten while there has been carrots!

However what prompted me to write this and find out if I'm alone if this has been going on for months? Well, I had to buy granary bread today as there was no wholemeal (she won't eat white bread!). I didn't really think much of it, but my dearest was screaming straight away "Mummy my bread is all dirty....LOOK!" So after 45 minutes of me telling her that the bread is perfectly normal and her screaming that it's dirty, pointing out every single seed, I thought I'd try taking the visible ones out and seeing if she'd eat it. It did work, so at least she's not hungry, but as I'm sat there concentrating on picking bits out the bread, I looked over, and what was she eating? Quavers dipped in raspberry yoghurt - I give up!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Kids really do say the funniest things...

It's been a while since I've updated, and that's mainly because nothing of note has happened. Who wants to read a blog about me going to work, coming home, cooking the dinner, doing the cleaning, going to bed and then starting over then next day?!

My 3 year old (can't believe she's 3 now, it sounds so grown up!) started pre school a couple of weeks ago and it seems that this is the place where they start experimenting with language. She's always been quite advanced with her speech but I've had a few moments this week when I've just wanted the ground to swallow me up!

The problem is just the naivety of it all, it makes it so endearing. So here's a list of some of her quotes from the last couple of weeks:


  • My husband did 'Pinch Punch, 1st day of the month' to me. My daughter asked me to do it to her, so I did so very gently, to which she replied "Mummy, don't knock on me, I'm not a door!"
  • We were playing a 'bouncing on the sofa' game, when we went outside she said "Mummy, I actually don't like it when you throw me!" 
  • After taking "Billy the Bear" back to pre school after looking after him for a week: I like sleeping with Billy, it's fun!"
  • I really hope my daughter isn't the only one who likes saying words with different consonant sounds at the beginning. This morning we had 'Thank you" with a 'W' at the front. There have been several other incidents too!
  • She asked the lady on the checkouts with a lazy eyelid why she only had one eye.
  • She shouted at the top of her voice "Mummy I need a poo NOW" at a friend's son's birthday party
It's really cute, all of it, but I so understand now why my mum is still scarred from me standing behind the door shouting, "Mummy the milkman's here, do we have to hide today?" or the time when at the kids' pet service I told the vicar not to bless my dog because he was "a randy little sod!" If my daughter's saying these things at 3, what have I got to come?!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Phew!

Well what a week! This week has seen me working (as in work I get paid for!) a total of 76 and a half hours, plus any minute when both kids are quiet! Considering I only work part time I think that's quite impressive. However it is with great relief that I can report that all of my Year 11 students sat their first exam this morning and all of them had a full set of coursework behind them too. I did have to go on MSN at 10:30 last night to get one of them to rerecord their work and send it to me but I feel very relieved it's now all done. Just one exam left now...


But work aside because a far more important event happened this weekend. My little girl turned three! This is something I feel quite emotional about because all of a sudden she doesn't seem to be my baby any more. 

  • She's moved out of Older Toddlers at nursery and now goes to pre school, where she doesn't have 'carers' but teachers
  • She doesn't have to wear swim nappies in the pool any more
  • She's actually deemed old enough to play safely with most of the toys she's had since birth that say 'not suitable for children under 36 months' (including the walker bought for my son's 1st birthday - yes really!)
  • I have to pay for her to go to Farmer Palmers and most of the other places I've been able to go to for free until now
  • She's a big girl, with a mind and opinions of her own in every area of her life!
So how did we celebrate the big day? Well since Christmas she's been talking about how she wanted to have her own fancy dress party with a bouncy castle, so there wasn't really another option! At first I was quite chuffed as a lot of her friends were having organised parties at play centres etc. so I thought Evie's request might be cheaper, but boy was I wrong!

Our house is quite small and we had a real squish when it was her 1st birthday. Last year because Harry was so young we opted for a low key and joint beach party, but this year with them all running around we decided we'd have to book somewhere especially as we couldn't bank on the weather being ok, so we booked the local community centre, £40 straight off, plus the bouncy castle hire, plus the decorations and paper plates etc. plus the food, plus the presents for prizes, pass the parcel etc, plus all the other stuff I've forgotten! In total it probably cost us about £150, about the same as it would've to hire a catered venue and have no stress whatsoever! Hey ho, you live and learn.

The main thing is Evie had a wonderful day surrounded by all her friends and family. She's only just recovering now and is still really tired from all the excitement. It was touch and go too as she was throwing up on Saturday and we were wondering whether it would go ahead at all, but thankfully it all worked out. Happy birthday Evie!

So now my stress is over at work and at home, I'm looking forward to a week or so where hopefully I can take things a little bit easier. I'm sure it's just wishful thinking, but for now I'm happy with that as I haven't even had time to think for a while! Until next time... x


Thursday, 29 April 2010

The End is in Sight...!

I logged into my blog account today for the first time since going back to school and was quite surprised to see that people are actually following what I have to say and reading it (Harry says thank you for the sympathetic comments about his pox, but he's feeling much better now and highlighting every potential hazard in our house at every given opportunity!). It kind of made me feel a bit guilty about not writing anything for ages!

I've had a manic few weeks and it doesn't look to be ending any time soon! I went back to work at the worst time of year for any teacher as it's GCSE coursework deadline time. When I left to go on maternity leave I'd had a nightmare trying to get it all in before I left and I now have the same trouble on my return as my students hadn't been given any deadlines in my absence and anyone with teenagers will I'm sure back me up when I say that trying to get them to work under pressure is not something that comes naturally to most!

Although I work part time (3 days a week) the only thing that's different to when I was part time is the fact that I get paid less! I still run my own department and am still responsible for everything I was responsible for before, except I have to get it done in 3 days rather than 5, so I've been working from about 7:30 in the morning til gone 10 at night some days. 

I know some people will read this and either think I'm exaggerating or stupid. Why not just leave it? Surely what doesn't get done will wait? The trouble is, if I leave it, it's not going to be me that suffers, but the students, many of whom want to do music post 16, and even those that don't surely deserve to be given the chance to achieve the best they can don't they? It's not their fault that while I was on maternity leave they weren't given deadlines to work to etc.

So I've been working nonstop at work, and whenever I can on my days off, though I'm trying my best to make sure I still give my own children the attention and play time that they deserve. It doesn't help that one set of folders for the students are pink, and another purple - my daughter's two favourite colours. She's already customised one student's coursework (sorry Jade!) but thankfully only on the folder!

So on top of that, we had the pox saga, and Harry's birthday party to prepare for, and it's Evie's birthday on Sunday! She's having a fancy dress party so we have costumes, food, drink, activities, party bags, birthday cakes etc. to organise alongside coursework collecting and marking. Just not sure when I'm going to find the time as it's birthday season!

I'm sure lots of parents meet up with other new parents when their babies are born and I'm no different. I gatecrashed a fab group who met at antenatal classes who I met shortly after Evie was born. We're all really close and have even been on holidays together, but (since siblings have arrived) there are 12 children and 8 of them have birthdays in April and May! I am working on Friday (coursework marking deadline day!), then we have a kids party, followed by a dinner party, another birthday party on the beach on Saturday, which leaves me Sunday morning to get everything ready for her 11am party! She then has another party to get to for 3pm! So I'm really looking forward to the bonus day off for the Bank Holiday when hopefully at some point I might get to sit down for a large drink of something intoxicating!