Monthly Archives: February 2005

I just knew I was going to have a challenging day…

when I tried to type a sarcastic comment in Yay’s wiblog and it simply disappeared… twice.

I’m very glad it’s a sunny day today, even if it is toe-tinglingly cold. I mean, nothing seems quite so impossible when the sun’s shining on your back through a closed window, does it.. except perhaps the impossibility of getting up from that seat and going outside. Mind you, that’s what I had to do in rather a hurry this morning when someone set the fire alarm off. Brrrrrrrr.

It’s one of those days where there’s not much chance to stop and draw breath. This morning was a bit of a rush, getting the cakes all parcelled up ready for Tiddles to take in to school, and hurriedly ironing their school uniform which got sort of overlooked last night. I lost my non-contact at work and found myself taking – oh bliss, oh joy – a PE lesson with a group of adolescent and extremely hormonal girls, instead of sitting relaxing with a cup of coffee in the staffroom under the pretext of doing some preparation.

Quick dash home for some lunch (and a quick play on the computer) before I head off back to work, via the petrol station to save my be-hassled day being added to by a distinct lack of petrol in the tank. I shall have to make sure nobody spots me at work and assumes I’m there for the staff meeting. No, I am picking up TBF (Tiddles’ Best Friend) to bring him home overnight. Trouble is, I’m supposed to be picking Smudgelet up at the very same time. Thank heavens for friends who will go to the school and stand by the gates with a Smudgelet in hand until you get there. So dashing to and fro will be the perfect preparation for my Health and Safety exam which apparently will only take me about fifteen minutes. I’ve decided to go there while Smudgelet is at Beavers and Tiddles and TBF will just have to sit in the corridor and wait for me like good little boys.

Tiddles made an interesting observation the other day. Since giving up sugar for Lent, I have been far less prone to stress. Personally I think it is a combination of things: him getting less prone to tantrums and stealing and needing less direct attention; working part time finally getting me to a state where I feel a bit more on top of things; Dad finally reaching a stage where he is more accepting of his limitations rather than fighting them all the time and taking it out on me; Dad going away for a number of weeks after Christmas and me being able to get a weekend to myself; but definitely being off the sugar has had a seriously positive effect… even if it’s only that the increased sense of being in control has enabled me to keep ahead on the washing and ironing (yes, really!) and paperwork and keeping the house a little more tidy (well, we can’t expect miracles, can we?). Bravo for Lent. Even if I do have to resist the temptation to lick clean the plate that, until this morning, was holding Tiddles’ luscious chocolate-coated cake!

Jack is my idol…

One day I shall be as good at procrastinating as she and Miffy are.. but until then I only strive to achieve that pinnacle of success.

That’s why I’m here instead of revising for my Health and Safety exam tomorrow.

(How frustrating that they have to hold the exam, not on the day when I have my massage class, but on the Monday which is the one day when it is least convenient for me to do it. I have to find a couple of hours to pop into the college for the exam – when I am teaching until 1pm, I have to pick up Smudgelet and TBF (Tiddles’ best friend who’s stopping overnight) at 3pm, Doctor’s at 4.20pm, Tiddles home at 4.20pm, then Beavers for Smudgelet from 5.45 – 7.00pm and Scouts from 7.00 to 9.00pm, taking Smudgelet home in between. So when on earth am I going to fit in an exam? I ask you!)

Pride

Little glow of admiration for my eldest.

Tomorrow is the day for submitting entries at his school for the Eisteddfod to be held on St David’s Day. They were given a booklet of different catagories of competitions they could enter and, for once, he was seized with inspiration and determination to do his best. He wanted to do five catagories, but has only had time to do three – but those three he’s really had a good go at. He’s playing the drums with his friend to enter the music contest. He’s collected the numbers 1-10 in as many languages as he possibly can and has managed to collect over 100 (not including the floppy disk he’s included which contains the 5020 languages off a website specifically listing numbers in different langauges which seemed a bit too much like cheating to be included, but couldn’t be neglected in case others had included it!!!). And today we’ve done the baking catagory.

Two cakes from Austria (as that was the criteria – cakes from another country!); A sachertorte and a Linzertorte which look absolutely delicious. Absolutely delicious. What a shame they won’t keep until after Lent!

Excitement in excess

My little Michelin Man waddled off full of excitement, hurriedly-packed lunch in hand (trust me to wake up unable to remember why I’d set the alarm to go off a quarter of an hour early and snuggle back down under the duvet with the snooze function in place…. only to wake fifteen minutes later with the knowledge that my Smudgelet was to go hungry if I didn’t shift a bit!), watched by a rather jealous mummy and an even more jealous big brother (“If anyone it should be me who’s going to greet her, ‘cos I’m the one who’s a qualified swimmer!”). This evening the tales of his adventures came in a non-stop wave, rather like some of those Ellen MacArthur had to endure at sea. He’s remarkably well informed about her voyage, though, and was full of actually quite interesting information.

Imagine our increased delight when we arrived at the pub where M was taking us for Dad’s birthday tea. It’s our favourite – on the banks of the River Medina – and there moored alongside us was the famous B&Q sponsored trimaran, looking as pristine as the day she was first launched.

The meal was wonderful. I was good – I declined the extravagent dessert menu and satisfied myself with a fruit salad, while all around me were indulging in lemon-meringue-icecream-sundaes, sticky-toffee-puddings, mallow-and-brownie-chocolate dip, and raspberry-and-white-chocolate-cheesecake. The lady taking our orders asked whether I wanted icecream with mine and, when she saw my hesitation, said with a wink, “I am sorry madam, but our fruit salads all come served with icecream which is an essential part of the dish and cannot be left out!”. I compromised by giving the Smudgelet half of it.

Busy day tomorrow.. we have competition-standard cakes to make!

Me and my big mouth.

It’s not often I get to feel really jealous of the Smudgelet, but tomorrow I reckon that’ll be one aspect of my thoughts, although the other half of me will be remarkably glad I am snug and warm by the fire. Why? Well, tomorrow is the day when the Isle of Wight welcomes home her illustrious hero Ellen McArthur. It’s funny how you can feel proud of someone you’ve never met, just because she happens to live in the same county as you, but her achievement is pretty amazing and she seems a pretty decent person too, so the “welcome home” celebrations are something it’d be great to be part of – and Smudgelet’s going to be there! The council have hired a boat and are taking Smudgelet’s class out onto the Solent to greet her. He was excited enough when he was just going to wave from the shoreline – but now he knows he’s going in a boat, he’s ecstatic. He got his clothes ready tonight – he’s going to have to be wrapped up like the Michelin man as it’s going to be absolutely freezing out there!
Note to self : don’t forget he needs a packed lunch!

I have to add how rather pleasant it is to be told by your child’s teacher what a delight he is. I mean, even when you know it’s not true really 😉 She commented on his “wonderful curiosity”, his “enthusiasm for maths” and his “wicked and rather sophisticated dry sense of humour”. Spot the proud maternal glow 😀

This afternoon was a trial and I am still not sure whether I did right getting the man from social services round to explain about accessing help in the future and how the finances work. Dad did an excellent job of persuading him how fit and well and capable he is. Wish he could do the same for me sometimes – the other night he was really put out when I suggested he might cope with boiling himself a mug of soup! (I made him do it, non-the-less, but he was not best pleased and it was made abundantly clear how little I understand how difficult it is for him!). I could have strangled him actually – It was impossible to make it clear to the social worker that Dad was talking in the past tense when he said that he was able to do everything for himself – the cleaning, the cooking, washing, shopping, sorting his finances, walking as far as he needed…. and the social worker took it at face value of course. At this rate they’ll be taking away his blue badge for the disabled parking and his attendance allowance for all the things I do for him. And neither Dad nor the social worker seemed to grasp the fact that I am not talking about needing help NOW… I am talking about knowing what the situation is for the future so we can make informed choices (with Dad having as much say as possible) rather than crisis management if things deteriorate. And, of course, I was sounding out what provisions might be available if I’m taken into hospital but without letting Dad know that that’s actually an imminent possibility. So both seemed to come away with the impression that I am trying to put Dad into a home against his will. AAAAAAGGGHHHHH! Still, he’ll get over it, I think. Probably tomorrow, seeing as it’s his birthday!

Four more days until D-Day with the cyst – my appointment with the doctor when he gives his verdict. It’s not easy keeping it secret until then when my abdomen feels so incredibly tender and I have to keep adjourning to “powder my nose” ! I am actually spending a large proportion of my time in the bath at the moment. So what’s new? 😉

Hmmm…. and when I heard the sad news that Tiddles’ best friend at school was leaving and moving to my school instead, I didn’t quite reckon with the fact that he might be becoming part of the family as well as part of my maths class. What fool was it that suggested he might like to come home with me on a Monday night, go to Scouts with Tiddles, and then stop overnight before returning to school with me on a Tuesday? I’m sure I never said that… did I?

Either / or

I am such a bad mother. You see, it was all my fault. If I had left his school tie lying in the middle of the lounge floor where he dropped it at the beginning of the half term holidays, it would still be there where he left it and he wouldn’t have had to go to school without it. Instead I had to thoughtlessly insist on him taking it and putting it in his uniform drawer in the bedroom. How was he supposed to know where it is now? Between you and me, I’d have hazarded a guess that he could look in his uniform drawer, but apparently he didn’t know where his drawer was either – how very thoughtless of me to suggest it might be in his chest of drawers! – and his tie was deliberately eluding him, along with his entire games kit. Against the odds, I managed to avert what was developing into a rather interesting tantrum – mainly by kicking him out and sending him half-dressed to school – but would anyone like to hazard a guess what this green and white striped piece of material is which I subsequently found…….. in his uniform drawer?

I have gone up in Smudgelet’s esteem as mother-extraordinaire, though. He came home with a letter from school saying that they were to dress up as a book character for book day. Hmmm…. how to get around the making of a fancy-dress costume? Proudly I informed him that I had the perfect costume for him, all ready for him to wear and made of the most amazing material. He is to go to school as the main character from the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. He went off to school quite satisfied, bragging about his costume to all and sundry. Strangely, he was somewhat less enthusiastic after I’d read the story to the two of them at bedtime! 😉

But no, I couldn’t do it really… not on a cold week like this week! Remember the knight costumes I started making… er… erm…. er… about a year ago? *blush*. The ones I was sewing by hand and got bored with? Well, this weekend I got out my birthday present from my sister – a sewing machine 😀 I haven’t used one of those since my detested home economics lessons when I was fifteen and deliberately lost all the parts to the hideous green blouse I was supposed to be making! But this was a different challenge. We now have a rather nifty King Arthur costume, complete with sword (and scabbard) and shield. I am now, officially, the greatest making-mummy in the world.

Meanwhile we’re celebrating another great achievement – this time Tiddles’. It was the Postal Swim at his swimming club this week. This means that the kids get in the pool and swim solidly for an hour, stopping only for a tiny swig of water from their waterbottles occasionally (if they stop for any longer, they’re disqualified!) and a counter (me, in this case) records how many lengths they swim. I felt a bit of a hypocrit sitting there in my seat, standing only to say “Go on, swim faster… another length… don’t stop” and tread on his fingers to prevent him from hanging around at the end for a breather. (No, not literally, but I did feel a bit of a slave driver!). After all, ten lengths and I’m done for the rest of the day! But he did really well, despite his stinking cold, and managed to clock up 80 lengths. Not much by comparison with most of the children swimming, but a major achievement for Tiddles, and sufficient to gain him his 2000 metre badge and certificate. He’s absolutely shattered, though – hence the tendancy to drama-queen his way through today!

I have really been enjoying how well I’ve been feeling lately.. and far less prone to stress too, which is a bonus. It’s a delight to be getting over the glandular fever properly now. Frustratingly, it’s not going to last. A scan last week showed the good news, that I haven’t suffered the prolapse the doctor suspected.. but the bad news is an ovarian cyst. It’s twisted, which is causing the tummy pain, and it’s pressing on my bladder which is causing another rather inconvenient symptom, and it’s rather large and not showing any signs of going away of its own accord. I have, unfortunately, another week to wait until I get to talk to my doctor about it and see whether we may be looking at a need for surgery. So at the moment I am very aware of it.. and very frustrated by the fact that I can’t say anything to Dad until I know one way or the other. So I wouldn’t invite me round for coffee, if I were you, as I am in danger of wearing a rut in your carpet.

Incidentally, the exercising of my self-discipline and will-power for Lent has thus far been successful… despite the chocolate mini-doughnuts in the staffroom this breaktime. There has been just one deliberate breaking of the fast (for which I made up by not breaking my fast for the Sundays of Lent) – when Benedictus from the Ship of Fools came a-visiting overnight, it was a delight to exercise my culinary skills (or lack of them) to make her a proper English meal of Shepherds’ Pie followed by Apple and Raspberry Crumble and custard. Hospitality required of me that I share in the meal, of course, so share I did.

My Home Economics teacher would be proud of me 😀

(Hmmm.. they say it’s an ill wind that blows no good. If they have to operate on this cyst, at least it should reduce my girth by a few inches, which has to be a bonus!)

Lunch break

Mistimed it, though. A bit too late. I have to pick Tiddles up at 2 so will be finished eating too late to do anything of value before I go and yet too early to feel justified in not doing so. Hmm.. maybe if I make my coffee extra-hot!

Three bin bags full and one bag of charity shop clothing so far. Strange, it doesn’t seem to have made any impact at all!

Excuse me if I dash….

.. but I’m in the middle of sorting through my bedroom. I know I’m only half way through doing the lounge (if that) but I have a full day with no kids and no father and a whole heap of motivation and I’m determined to complete the room in one fell sweep. OK, so maybe not quite that quickly. I have a lot of stuff to sort. But I am determined to make serious inroads into it all.

Shame the tumble drier’s dead, really. At the moment I have clothes-horses-ful of clothes drying in front of the fire. Seems a bit wasteful seeing as it’s probably the first day we’ve had in ages when it’s warm enough not to put the central heating on during the day, but at least it means I can use my washing machine for a mammoth wash without worrying too much about how on earth I’m going to dry them and without spending ages pegging them to a rotary drier outside where they’ll spin round and get nice and chilly and damp.

The boys are out having fun. Not that they deserve to be. For once I have reneged on a punishment and allowed them to go out despite them not doing as they were told yesterday, but it is with a clear message that they’re only going so that I can have a day without them! They are suitably repentant!

Still, that’s my cup of coffee finished. No sugar – I’m doing really well on that one and even found myself quite happy (happy?) to continue my fast through Sunday instead of having a feast day. I was really surprised in church to discover, when the minister asked, that I was the only person who had resolved to give something up during Lent and the only person who had resolved to do something extra too! His point was that it was better to take up something good rather than give up something like chocolate, but in many ways I disagree. I think it’s important to do both. I know that in some ways Lent is a good time to go on a diet and I do want to lose weight, but that isn’t why I am doing it. Nor is it to make myself miserable. It is to give my will-power some exercise. I used to be really quite strong at the self-control bit and once I set my mind to something I’d see it through. These days I am far too lax with that and it has a ripple-effect on all my life. This Lent, by giving up chocolate and biscuits and cakes and by giving myself opportunities to do positive things for God and for others, I can feel the impact of this affecting my self control and attitude in other things. Doing jobs right away instead of procrastinating and letting them be forgotten, taking pride in what I do, showing increased patience, becoming more aware of my relationship with God and my responsibilities to Him…. If there is any benefit to my weight, it will be only as a bonus – and to that effect I decided not to weigh myself or focus on weight loss at all. Probably just as well as I have just sent three pairs of trousers to the charity shop which I can’t believe I ever fit into at all!!!!

Onwards and upwards……

Apologies, dear child

I should not have written in your home-school book that you cheated in your test.
I may have seen you do it, and you may have admitted as much to me, but if you told your mum you didn’t, then clearly I was in the wrong.

One step forward and…….

Day three of Lent and I’m not doing too badly. No sugar in my coffee’s bearable, knowing that it’s for a limited time if I so choose – although I am not so sure I’ll find it that easy next week when I am at home all day. There have been cakes and biscuits and boxes of chocolates in the staffroom every day this week – my favourites at that – and I have been very good and simply walked away. My only lapse has been an accidental one… I found a colleague hiding in the maths cupboard eating a little bag of sweeties where the kids couldn’t see her, and when she slipped me one, laughing that a calorie shared is a calorie halved and where better to do sharing than in a maths cupboard, I popped it in my mouth before even thinking. One bite and I suddenly said “No, no, no, it’s Lent!!!”, to which she replied that it wasn’t lent, it was given. Didn’t stop me regretting it, though.

Life is a little uncertain at work at the moment, with the impending changes seeming inevitable over the next four years and the only matter under consideration being how. I am not looking too far ahead. The move to a two-tier system would find me torn in two, wanting to do neither and both simultanously, and would I even get the job that I wanted if we’re all thrown into the pot and then handpicked for the new places? Hmm… too much soul-searching, I find, ain’t too good for the self-esteem!!!

Changes in the job I love (don’t tell anyone!) may come even sooner as the school is, apparently, badly over-budget and needs to make cuts of £30,000 in staffing next year. Could be my job, if I’m honest about it, although there are two others in as much or more danger than I. But to my disgust there’s more talk about doing away with the smaller, lower support sets – my little (You call a group of 14 children with learning and behaviour difficulties little?) sets – and combining them in large mixed ability groupings with a target group gleaned off so that our results in the league tables improve. Come September, I could find myself working in a situation which I feel ethically incorrect. Will I have the guts to go with my principals? Pah, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

In the meantime, I am really rather enjoying teaching. Especially today. Why today? Well, it’s the start of the half term holidays, isn’t it ;)!!! Seriously, I am still glowing from a lovely compliment the other day. Forgive me if I bask in it for a boastful moment – a senior colleague described my lessons and teaching style as “delightful” and added that that was also the opinion of an impartial observer who sat in on one of my classes the other day too! Well, thank you 😀