Thursday, 23 December 2010

Chocolate reindeer

No it's not a turd! It's a chocolate reindeer

The time of year has come again
The snow has gone but not the rain
It's almost Christmas Eve you see
Which is the time for you and me
To put down our laptops and the like
To take out the new bike, scooter or trike
To overindulge in food and drink
It'll all be over in a wink
So now I'll stop blogging until next year
And start spreading round the Christmas cheer!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A Christmas dash to A & E

Sunday, lazy day, sat on the sofa fiddling with party bag gifts from the two (yes two) parties we'd been to the day before... when Elf starts screaming and rubbing his eyes. I have never heard him scream like that before; even with a sore croaky throat, it was blood curdling.

Gathered him up like a soft toy, no socks and in jim jams and rushed him into the car, remembering to turn off the pie in the oven! Drove at speed to the NHS drop in centre near us.

Rushed to fill in a form - Reason for visit - a glow stick split and the liquid sprayed into his eye.

Called over by a nurse, trying to explain what happened, still with the offending yellow glow stick in my hand, as if for forensic reasons I kept it...

By this time, Elf was calmer but still his eye was looking awful. We calmed down too.

Now began the hard bit. With accidents like these, a pH level needs to be taken of each eye with litmus paper to ascertain whether treatment is required.

OK so how do you get a bent piece of litmus paper into a 4 year old's eye? It worked the first time as he didn't know what to expect. The second time? He screamed the place down. And you know how strong a 4 year old can fight with all his might. People in the waiting room must have thought he was being tortured. We tried cajoling, bribing, forcing ... nothing worked. He would not allow the poor nurse to do the bad eye.

Reinforcements were called in. Another nurse. Restraint was suggested, never used nowadays, but necessary in times like this. He was swaddled like a baby in a blanket and I laid on his legs, his dad on his chest and they forced the litmus paper into his eye. He screamed and fought. Obviously.

Unfortunately the litmus paper showed a pH imbalance, so eye irrigation was needed. A drip of saline solution was held up by one nurse and we restrained him again while his eye was bathed out. At one point he relaxed and we thought he'd fitted. But I think he'd just exhausted himself. Then it was time for another litmus paper test. With more restraint.

Thankkfully it matched the good eye. All yucky substance gone (hydrogen peroxide and glass, we later found out from Google). A traditional eye examination was passed, amusingly with Elf making letter sounds (like kss for X and uh for U etc). Then came yellow dye to see if there were any abrasions. Which there were not. Thankfully.

This took an hour and a quarter. I cannot describe how it felt to restrain my child. My little baby. Against his will. His strong will. He kicked the nurse in the stomach. His face was blotchy from crying. Red from where the nurses had held him still. The nurses were so patient and kind to him. And to us.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

What do I do all day?

What do you do all day Elf? Nuffink. Can't remember, grunts Elf.

The other day, when trying to find last year's Christmas card list (who's died, who's split up), I came across a piece of paper entitled Reception daily routine. I thought I'd see how this compares to Elf's idea of what he does all day.

8.55am Children are greeted by teacher outside the classroom door. Hang coats on peg and put lunch boxes on the rack in the hall. Check book bag and give any letters or money to the teacher. An activity is set out on the table where learners are asked to find their names and begin an early morning task working independently

9.05am Learning Activity 1 - independent or adult-led

10am School assembly - weekly singing, story telling and collective worship-themed discussions

10.15-10.30am Morning play

10.30-10.40am Fruit and milk time during which the whole class shares news about previous evening at home

10.30-11.30am Learning Activity 2

11.30-11.55am Guided reading activities

11.55-12.00pm Prep for lunch

12.00-1.00pm Lunch and play

1.00-1.10pm Afternoon register and relaxation time, to music

1.10-1.40pm Learning Activity 3

1.40-2.55pm A session linked to the half-termly whole school theme

2.55pm Prep for home

3.00-3.15pm Whole class story time

3.15pm Home time

I've read out your routine Elf, what do you think you do all day?

Empty book bags; do register; do dinner register; playtime; learning time; playtime outside; go inside; do register; playtime inside; learning time; playtime; lunch time; playtime outside; playtime before home time.

Not a bad recall!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A mummy's work is never done

My Elf's project this half-term was on the subject of Fire. He I decided, no he did actually, to do his friend Mungle's garden, for that is where we had the Beer'n'Bombs party, otherwise known as a bonfire party. (It started at 5pm, a meeting of all the old nursery gang, and all the parents were pissed by 8pm. Or was that just me? No I wasn't the only one.) 

So there is Mungle's house, with his garden complete with path and flowers, and garden walls. That's how the project remained for a month until today, the day before deadline day. 

Then the panic started. It reminded me of writing essays at uni, starting at midnight on someone else's computer (this was 1996) and then almost crying at 5am because my essay wouldn't print. Then asking what time the computer centres opened, phew 7am. Anyway I digress. 

The picture doesn't do the toilet roll-people justice - they are Elf and Mungle replete with sparklers and toilet roll clothes. Mr Humdrum was responsible for the rockets, and I have to say they steal the show.

I admit, it's hard to strike the balance between "Elf did it" and "My mummy did it"!

Has anyone else had any fun making things recently for their children? I'd love to know!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Please help complete a survey on schools and communication

I have just read a fabulous post on The Sardine Tin entitled Schools and Working Parents. It warns of a ranty post, and really made me laugh. You can get the idea from the title but please read it. 

Whilst I was commenting, I thought Hang on, I'd love to know what our blogging friends' experiences are with schools and communcation and event times. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is trying to work out how she can attend the next coffee morning in the last week of term, with no holiday left, but desperate to attend to show off her Elf's "fire" project (now that you've asked, it's a model of a house and garden with Elf and his friend with sparklers and rockets). 

So here is a quick survey. I'd love to know your answers so please comment. (Please note this is tongue in cheek, but I will post results!)


  • Are you a working mum or dad? Full time or part time?
  • Are you a SAH mum or dad? Or do you work from home?
  • Do you mostly pick up from school or use wraparound care?

And now down to the serious questions

  1. When planning events, does your school take into consideration working parents, ie having a later showing of a play etc?
  2. Have you ever baked anything for a coffee morning? Did you bake but not attend?
  3. Have you made anything for an event? (eg fair)
  4. Have you joined the PTA or Friends of…  or applied to be a governor?
  5. Do you volunteer at your school on a regular basis?
  6. Have you ever forgotten a daily item (like a water bottle or a library book or a reading book)?
  7. Have you ever forgotten a packed lunch or lunch money?
  8. Do you get parentmail?If so, Text? Email? Newsletters? More than 1 of the above?
  9. Has your school failed to communicate something important to you?
  10. Do you feel that your school is good at, well being a school, but you feel bad complaining about the communication?
Watch this space!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

I can't believe...

... that on Monday I went to Ikea with my parents and didn't buy anything.

I reiterate, I didn't buy anything.

I can't believe it.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Friday, 3 December 2010

Use the Force...

Elf shows off his lightsaber skills.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Portable North Pole (unsponsored post)

Bored at work today, a colleague sent me a link that his 3 year old daughter had loved - a personalised video from Santa! Go to Portable North PoleI set up one for Elf, emailed it to myself and treated him to the video just before he went to bed tonight. 

You get to set the scene, I chose reindeer training, and add personal details such as name, age, photos etc. You then add in a task that he's been asked to do (we chose eating his vegetables) and whether he's been good at this task or not. You also get to upload a photo of a gift that your little one has been wanting for Christmas. Elf was amazed when he saw a picture of Humungousaur!

The option to buy is at the end, but we haven't done that bit yet, so I'm not sure how long the video stays live for. Try it and see how amazed your little ones will be!

Elf watched the 3 minute video enthralled by the whole thing, completely taken in and now realising of course that Mummy does indeed have Santa's email address!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Attitude? What attitude?

Elf when tiny... ahh so easy then!
A month ago, I posted a war cry - This week's challenge is Overcoming Attitude in a 4 Year Old. I'd been letting Elf get away with too much (we'd just moved house, he'd just started school etc) and then I caught myself thinking I'm letting him get away with murder, all because I've taken my eye off the ball.

I got some lovely advice and support from fellow bloggers (thank you), and friends and family, and I can report that his attutide has certainly got better, thanks to the following strategies:

  • our conker jar (we emptied it half full to buy a Ben 10 magazine)
  • Mickey Mouse (watching MM drives me mad but it's made him forget about watching Ben 10 which is too old for him)
  • a set of rules for a reward chart (getting dressed by himself; tidying up; reading his book each day and practicing his writing)
  • a better attitude from me!
I feel much better equipped now to deal with him. He is still tired, so I try to keep his bedtimes early, and not give him too many activities to do. Mr Humdrum has started a new job and is home earlier (which presents a whole new blog piece on Be Careful What You Wish For - coming soon!) and Elf enjoys playing with his dad, even if I have to chivvy both of them up the stairs.

Without sound smug, I am pleased with the effort I made. I know my friends who have had to "get back with the programme" have also seen the benefits - well done to all of us!

Now what's the next challenge going to be?

This last week I've been ill with the most horrid cold I've had in years, and it's made me tired and miserable. I felt unable to blog or even read blogs - I'm still not 100% but feel I need to write something!

Friday, 19 November 2010

School dinners

Today we were invited to the school for a Family Lunch. Having picked and paid for a school dinner (marguerita pizza) I waited outside the school office with the other mums and dads. Elf came rushing by, thumbs up, saying "I've come to get the dinner register!"

Then we were taken in by our own children to the dinner hall and asked if we were packed lunch or hot dinner. We sat in our allocated seats, next to L and his mum, who I'd met at the last coffee morning. 

The kids knew the drill. Wait til you're called, then queue up at the hatch - the dinner ladies look at the coloured star on your jumper (just for kids!) - green = veggie option, today's pizza and red = meat option, hot pot today. We then had to choose between half a jacket potato and spoonful of plain pasta, and again between roasted veg and sweetcorn. Add a slice of bread, choose your pudding - jam biscuity thing - and sit back down. 

You put your hand up if you have finished your main course and then the dinner lady will say if you can start on your pudding. Water is available in a jug, and a box of kitchen towels. Good eaters get stickers. 

The kids were as proud as punch that we were in there having lunch with them. As it was raining, we had wet play in the classroom. Out came the wet play boxes rammed full of jigsaws, puzzles, crayons, colouring books - which is what Elf and his friend did. 

I now know why he comes home with so many pictures from the same colouring book!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Gallery - Before and After

Last week (this week?)'s Gallery theme was Before and After. I have to admit I shamelessly copied emulated The Gallery's own entry, two amazingly identical pictures of her and her daughter. I remembered when Elf started school that I was sent by my FIL a photo of Mr Humdrum, a bit older than Elf, on his first day at school in Dumbarton. How similar are they? As they say In the Night Garden, isn't that a pip?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

What the ...?

Elf announced at dinner tonight that he didn't like wet broccoli. 


Friday, 12 November 2010

The Gallery - Seasons

This week's photo challenge from The Gallery is Seasons. I took this photo a few weeks ago when my parents came up to visit us in our new house for the first time. It is the beginning of Autumn, a lovely time of year for me. It's sunny but cold. My dad had major heart surgery in July and the last time I saw him he looked, well, not like my dad. This time, however, he looked back to normal, like my dad again.

We walked over the common opposite our house to the shoreline, and fed the ducks and swans in Swan Lake. Elf loves feeding the ducks and eating the bread himself, he just loves stale bread! Mr Humdrum is with them too. (I love photos taken of the back of people.)

A new season, a new start...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

November 11

Today on the way home from school...

Elf: I've been learning about the War.

(I NEVER get told what he's been learning, so this must have been special, hence the initial capitals.)

Me: What did you learn?

Elf: Well, people fighted in the war. Not just soldiers, but people who look aftered soldiers too. And when they were killed or got deaded, we remember them with poppies.

I tried to have a longer chat with him about his great-grandad who was a naval CPO in the 2nd World War, about how we should be proud of him and thankful that he fought for us, and that war is still going on in some countries now.

I am amazed that teachers are able to get through to 4 and 5 year olds, whose idea of war is a fight between Decepticons and Autobots...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

(I always feel like) Somebody's watching me

Yes that was an old 80s hit by Rockwell. I used to think I could breakdance around this time.

Anyway, I digress. Who can you see in the hedge? He's been put in the hedge opposite our house to look after us.

Yes it's Mr Pumpkin! So last week ...

Friday, 5 November 2010

A yummy savoury flapack recipe

I normally mess up flapjacks. They were the first thing I made in Home Economics (yes it did used to be called that in the 80s) along with fresh orange juice. But my oven in the last house used to not cook them properly, making them crumble rather than slice.

I saw this recipe on Netmums (I can't do links on my ipad) under the heading Healthy Lunchboxes. My friend with her 6 week old baby came to visit today along with her parents, so they were the perfect guinea pigs.

Here's the recipe:
Savoury cheesy flapjacks
2 eggs; 150g rolled oats; 150g grated cheese; 50g butter

Mix together all the ingredients, press into a greased 8" tin and bake for approx 30 mins at 180 degrees C.

If I can do it, anyone can! Or rather if my oven can do it...!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Hallowe'en Bingo

Most of you have already done your Hallowe'en blogs but I'm a bit late. Having just moved, we decided to host a Hallowe'en party on Sunday for Elf's old nursery friends, we call them the Puddlers, as his nursery was called Puddleducks.

I didn't quite know what a 7x4-5 year old Puddlers' Hallowe'en party would be like, and I organised the following games:

- Hallowe'en bingo - pictured - by far the best game of the party (Elf said so!). I spent an hour making the bingo cards and symbols to call out. I was going to get the kids to use a crayon to mark off the symbols but then I thought if I used pennies, we could re-use the game. (We are having a Hallowe'en party every year now after all the decorations we made!)
- Musical statues with a scary face - do what it says on the tin!
- Corners using frog/bat/pumpkin/cat card images from an Asda decoration set
- Dress up like a mummy - involving wrapping toilet roll around a mum to make them a mummy. No one wanted to do it at the start, then when they saw how silly the mums looked, they ALL wanted to do it and now we have no toilet roll left!

We had loads of decorations and scary fairy cakes 'n' biscuits, and I cooked a sausage'n'bean casserole for the adults. It started at 4pm and the guests were gone by 8pm. A really really good party.

The next day I was forced to make a new bingo set, so that we can play bingo every day! It's a rocket/alien/planet themed set, made with card, felt pens, paper, sellotape and motherly love! I can take orders, about a fiver for each set and don't expect Picasso standard drawings!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

This week's challenge is Overcoming Attitude in a 4 Year Old

Manifestations of aforementioned attitude:

(1) Saying HUH when asked to do something (followed by the requested task though)
(2) Stamping of feet
(3) Hitting mum and dad
(4) Case of the I Wants
(5) Repeating phrases from Ben10 like "I'm so outa here", "I'm so over this" and "Will you guys just leave me alone"
(6) The usual whingeing and whining

Locations of aforementioned manifestations:

(1) With his parents
NOT with any other person (ie Mungles' mum and dad looked after him today and said he was well behaved all day)

Possible causes of aforementioned attitude:

(1) Watching too much Ben10: Alien Force
(2) Holiday and being spoiled too much by grandparents
(3) Still being tired after school (he has been full time from day 4)
(4) Being nearly 5
(5) All of the above

Plan of action:

(1) Conkers - a conker is added to a special jar when Elf has been good all day, and removed for a naughty act, a full jar resulting in a reward
(2) Only one episode of Ben10 is allowed each day
(3) Harsh but fair - just now is a good example - Elf wanted a bit of paper, I didn't do it quickly enough so he bashed the table. Now he won't be getting a piece of paper
(4) Ask my lovely readers in the blogosphere for help (I had great help on the issue of guns a while back - thank you)

My questions to you are:

(1) How much of this should I accept as just expressing himself?
(2) When will he grow out of it? (On second thoughts don't tell me the answer is 16!)
(3) If he doesn't do it to other people, is it just that we bear the brunt of it?

Any help will be thoroughly welcomed!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

In the Night Garden lives on

Before I moved in to my new house 3 weeks ago, I'd already decided the house theme was going to be "driftwood and pebbles". I'd also include wiggly sticks (my Dad used to collect them when I was little - I still remember one huge wiggly stick in front of the fire in my front room - where is it now?).

Mr Humdrum can't understand having a theme. We are seconds from the shoreline and it seems obvious to me, being a beachy family too.

Anyway I haven't even unpacked all my boxes yet let alone worked on the theme. But when I found some stones - we collect stones from every outing - I thought I'd make a start on the theme and you can see the result in the above photo.

It was a few days later when I realised I'd copied Macca Pacca!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Wonderpets save the celery

I have much to thank Wonderpets for. Not only the half hour I get each day while he watches Linny, Tuck and Mingming (are those the right names?) save some dumb panda in China who is stuck up a bamboo tree. Even Elf said yesterday Why can't the panda just slide down? Duh.

Anyway, as any mum of a young child worth her hummous will know, the Wonderpets celebrate the saving of every small animal by eating celery. Yes celery. Well what else can a hamster, a duck and a turtle share to eat? 

Elf has been into this programme for about a year (a long time in the televisual viewing habits of a 4 year old) but has only just realised that celery exists.

I know adults who hate celery (I don't) so I know it's a love it or hate it kinda thing. I am happy that Elf ate a small tree of broccoli today and an inch-long roasted carrot, let alone worry that he hasn't started eating celery. Until today that is. He announced he wanted to eat celery. As Mr Humdrum was popping by a Tesco, he bought some. I duly cut it up and served it on a Roary egg'n'soldier plate with roasted tomato hummous in the egg-bit. Guess what? He ate the lot and asked for more!

God bless those darn Wonderpets!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Beware the purple sausage!

Having just returned from a week's holiday in Lanzarote, my most pressing task was to post again! It's been odd not blogging, but the house move plus a family holiday a week later has put paid to my blogging time. No it wasn't really a good idea to book a holiday a week after we move house. Yes it was booked long long ago, before we even put the house on the market. Anyway job done, move was smooth and hols were fab. Back to blogging. I can't actually remember what font I use, so this might be the time for a change...

I will post some appropriate holiday snaps later, but the sausage on the left depicts one of the funnier parts (for us). Of course Elf has been obsessed with his willy since birth, that's a given. Apart from the time he flashed at the headmistress, we've not had many embarrassing moments. Until now. He discovered his foreskin moves! Now being a girl, I'm not quite used to little boys' willies. Big boys, different matter ... Should it go back? Should it move at all? I remember Mr C being taken to the doc as a tiny baby by his mummy who asked Should his willy be this big and red? Only to be told Yes this is normal! 

So what was I to do on holiday when he appeared at the dinner table with his foreskin pulled right back saying Look at my purple sausage!? It was purple too! Grandma and I tried not to laugh but it was impossible. This carried on and we were at a loss to know what to do.

Arriving home, I found my Junior magazine had an article on boys' obsessions with their willies. I must find it ... 

Monday, 4 October 2010

We're in!

What a nightmare. I never ever want to do that again. Unlike Mrs Frugal, I will not be moving ten times.

We promised Elf a new bed. One of those ones with a den underneath. He keeps going upstairs to see if his "climb-up" bed has arrived yet! We haven't even ordered it!

I'm still not organised enough to get back into blogging and although I have uploaded the odd piece, I've not had the time to read all of your blogs and comment. I will be back soon ...

By the way the picture is of our new bed linen from John Lewis. I was going to use red as an accent colour around the house. Since buying that duvet cover, I have changed my mind. The plum colour is my new favourite!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Packing hell - chopping boards 'n' trivets

As you may have read in my previous post, I am moving house on Thursday. YES THURSDAY. Anyway I thought you might find the following three facts interesting. Or not.

1. Above is a see-through bag full of Tupperware that I packed the other day. The photo I took amazed me in its dullness despite colour.

2. Just now I found in one cupboard under the sink the following three items: a pot of Nivea face cream, a tea towel and rat poison. Why?

3. A label on one of my boxes - Chopping boards and trivets. This is what my life has been reduced to.

I have now lost the will to live, let alone pack. I may be back...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Can I be excused please?

I am moving house a week tomorrow. This means I will be far too busy to blog. It really means I should be too busy to blog. I'd better excuse myself now in any case.

Please don't forget me, come back when I'm back! Love to you all, my little followers. -HMx

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Labelling a child

At the moment, when I think of labelling, I think of two things: one is the rubbish labels that I bought for Elf's school clothes which have already fallen off; the second is how dangerous labelling a child can be. 

We are taught as new parents to label actions not the person. A label can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. "If I am told I'm naughty all the time, I may as well act naughty." I didn't need my degree in Psychology to understand that one.

Which brings me to the world of work. In a company where "Customer delight" is our number one priority, and obviously as an employee I am a customer, I am not delighted to be labelled "difficult". My newly promoted manager's manager said at the time of his promotion that "I wasn't to make life difficult for him". This upset me and made me feel like the old dinosaurs, who used to own this company before we were bought out by an American giant, were still at large, labelling as "difficult" anyone they couldn't bully. I succumbed to the bullying eventually; not quite so difficult then funnily enough.

Every negative comment or suggestion that I put to my newly promoted manager enlarged this feeling of paranoia that I was seen to be difficult and not just trying to do or suggest the right thing. Our lovely HR troubleshooter convinced me that I was indeed paranoid and that I shouldn't try not to be myself. Give it some time, she said, for him to flex his management muscles and it will all settle down. I went away a delighted customer.

That was last week. News of this HR chat got to my manager's manager and when she came down for a catch-up yesterday, she asked to see me alone. I explained my paranoid feelings and how our HR lady had assured me that the "difficult" comment was probably just a throwaway comment and that it was playing on my paranoia that the old regime still reigned in this part of the company.

Oh no, apparently I am labelled as difficult by "a couple of people". One of them named as the conference director, the other unknown but it's obvious who. According to my manager, who has spent all of maybe a week in total with me, it could be seen that I wind up my newly promoted manager because I go into too much detail. I was also warned that the new departmental structure will work, and it if doesn't, it will look bad for me and even go as far as to hinder my future progression in the company. (They don't know that I want to become a teacher!) I wasn't the one who told another member of staff to f*&% off last week (my manager I am told), but I am the one who is being made to feel responsible.

Labels at work can go either way - they can become a self-fulfilling prophesy or they can destroy a person's sense of who they are, what they stand for at work and how they conduct themselves. 

Lesson of the week I must remember not to go into too much detail to wind anyone up, and I must not be difficult.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Gallery - A celebration

This week's theme at The Gallery is A Celebration. I am somewhat limited with my photos for The Gallery - my iPad only has a few on, no archive back to 2006 like the laptop (which Mr Humdrum is on constantly, hence my iPad purchase); and my iPhone is limiting because you can't take pics in the dark. My camera is the most irritating as it doessn't easily connect to a laptop. However I have found one to suit and to stop all my moaning.

This was my birthday this year, in June, at our local cafe where I spent the majority of my maternity leave. All new mums go there, as they are very pram friendly outside, it's near the sea and you can breastfeed in public there quite easily. I have been going for years, but the first time I went on maternity leave was when Elf was about a month old. I started meeting F, Woody and Jessie's mum, there at 2pm bleary-eyed in those early days, feeling amazed that we'd actually got out of the house, have a cuppa and a cake, chat obviously, then be just in time to do the next feed and then go home.

After a couple of weeks we managed to walk around the sea front on our Cake Walks. Then when the baby weight became an issue, we went on Non-Cake Cake Walks! (F succeeded, I didn't!) Five years on nearly, we still go. Here I am celebrating my hmmm 39th cough cough birthday with a slice of strawberry cake or something. I am with S, Miss T's mummy and it was her birthday a week before so we were celebrating. I like this photo because I somehow feel I look younger than I am in it!

Who created the world?

Elf was getting very philosophical at the weekend. Must be his first week of schooling rubbing off. We were travelling between grandparents' houses on Sunday in Cornwall, near Landrake to be precise.

Elf said "Before anyone was born, before even the dinosaurs, there was a volcano here, but a woodcutter cutted it down and it went into the river."

I said "Before anyone was born?"

He replied "Yes, well except there was one person here."

"God?" I questioned.

"No. Dave!" was the response.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

First week at school - check!

It is Sunday evening and for the first time in 5 years, I have the "I have to go to work tomorrow" feeling. And it's a full day 9-5, the rest of my working week is now Tuesday til Thursday 9-1 - proper part time! I skipped the Monday last week, first day at school and all that, so it will be a shock tomorrow.

So the first week is over. Phew! Let's see how we did...

Elf was a star, in fact the head teacher took me aside and said he was a credit to me. I do know her, and she knows Elf so it wasn't just a flip comment. I am very happy about this, children do the most unlikely things and just when you think they'll sail through something, they go and throw a wobbly.

I had a wobble on Thursday. Mr Humdrum was doing drop-off and pick-up Tuesday til Thursday and after diligently copying down the hours for the first week, I was sure he was 9-12 every day except Friday, his first full day with lunch. Mr Humdrum called me at 11.55 saying Are you sure that he's coming out at 12? I can't see any other parents here. I quickly phoned the school - they were staying for lunch that day. Oops, no packed lunch or money for a school lunch for Elf! What a bad mummy! They assured me he'd be getting a school lunch that day and he did - roast lamb. We paid that day. I knew I was going to forget something that week.

Friday was his first full day, and he wanted a packed lunch. I spoke to the head later. She said they'd given him water as he'd had no drink with him. I'd thought about putting a Fruit Shoot in but thought it would be contraband so figured he'd make do with the water bottle they have to take in each day. Oops! Mistake number 2!

Friday was also my first day as a volunteer. I'd signed up to help in Year 1 with Mr Gurney, who is our hairdresser's cousin's boyfriend! He's a young-ish extremely enthusiastic teacher and I was pleased to be put in with him. I arrived early during lunch and watched my Elf play with his NBF, who shares the same first name as him - I'll call him Elf 2, and their surnames start with the same initial. Very cute. He said when his teacher forgets to use their surnames in registration, they both say Good morning Miss Harris! And he laughs.

The topic of the lesson that afternoon was How can I copy an artist's work? In fact the interactive whiteboard showed ... artists work. I was tempted to go and tell Mr Gurney that he'd missed the apostrophe but thought that it could go either way for me, best not to risk it. Mr Humdrum pointed out later that it could have been my first test and I failed!

I was sat at a table where groups of 5-6 year olds would pass through and cut out facial parts and stick them onto a face, along with labels to show they could read the names of said facial parts. One girl was struggling to cut with scissors properly. I asked if she needed any help, she firmly said No. I had to almost sit on my hands to keep from helping her. I asked her again, No. Her group finished and the next group started. Still she beavered on. When she couldn't cut it properly, she tore it with her hands. The end result was a very messy face with bad cutting out but she'd done it all by herself! I was so proud of her for perservering and do you know what, it taught me a lesson too.

The afternoon went quickly, Elf wasn't too fussed when he saw me, just gave me a hug and walked off to his class area. I really enjoyed watching Mr Gurney take the class, I'm sure I'll blog in more detail about it. Mr Humdrum is fed up with me saying Mr Gurney did this, Mr Gurney did that already! Roll on next week.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Gallery - Back to school

Back to school 

One is Elf taken this week, the other is Mr Humdrum taken mid-1970s - but which is which? 

I am so pleased that this is the subject of The Gallery this week as not only is it Elf's first week this week (day 4 and I forgot to provide lunch!) but it is also MY first day tomorrow. I am going to be helping out during Passport Time after lunch. This is when Years R, 1 and 2 get together to learn ensemble through different media. I am a bit of an academic Nazi I've been told (what's wrong with learning by rote?) so this will be interesting to me.

My plan is to help out at first then to hopefully gain a teaching assistant post, then when Elf is older and doesn't need me, I will train as a teacher. I've always wanted to be a teacher - I'd love to teach French and Spanish to juniors. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Preparing for school - the Humdrum way

I was texting a mummy friend: "We can't meet up on Mondays from September because I will be at work." It struck me afterwards that the reason I'll be at work is because Elf will be at school! What a dozy mum I am. If I can't even sort out his social life, what hope is there for me?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Elf's last day at nursery

This was Elf at one month old in February 2006. It is the first picture I have of him on his personal blog. He went to our childminder aged 1 for a year, and then at 2, he joined his current nursery. 

Just under 2 years later, today is his last day at nursery. It is a cliché yes, but it is the end of an era. 

And also the end of my having to work 3 long days at work, with matching long days at nursery for Elf. Next week's school start will be emotional, but also it will mean shorter days and more quality time spent with Elf. And maybe some home-cooked dinners eh Elf?

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Aargh to Zzzzzz of Parenting (unsponsored book review)

The Aargh to Zzzzzz of Parenting, An Alternative Guide
by Joanna Simmons and Jay Curtis

Mr Humdrum bought me this book for my birthday this year. It became my Bathroom Book (polite way of describing Toilet Book). So called for non-derogatory reasons, I might add. It's ideal to flip through a few entries whilst ... otherwise engaged. It's not the sort of book you should read straight through. I have savoured every entry and it has taken me from June to the end of August to finish. 

I haven't done a book review before, and this certainly isn't a sponsored post (but if anyone's reading this who might want ... ah I bet they won't). This is just a brilliant read. I've read most of the Fabulous Mummy's Guide to Being a Yummy Mummy range and yes, they were good to read in times of "poor me" and sometimes a little instructive, none of them hit the spot for my humour. Until this one. Here's one of my favourite entries: 

Cooking with your coat on
You come in and there's just no time to take it of. There's no let-up. One activity plunges at high speed into the next, like a sadistic Newton's Cradle. So before you can say "I'll just take my coat off" you've got a boiling pot on the stove, an onion chopped, cans opened and grillable food grilling, you've given them both a drink and turned Cartoon Network on to buy you extra seconds and you're listening to your voicemail messages while opening the post. Spectacular! If a bit warm. Because you're still wearing your coat.

Its dry humour will certainly amuse mum of Baby O, 4 months, who we are seeing today. I shall pass this gem onto her. I thoroughly recommend it to any new mum, or to any jaded, seen-it-all, sarcastic-is-normal old girl. Enjoy! (Available in those coffee shops that sell books too. Not just online.)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Gallery - Flipping Blipping Good

The Gallery this week is about Blipping and we have been tasked with taking a photo today! All of us Galleryers. So here is my effort. When I first started blogging, I kept Mr Humdrum and Elf's pictures out of it - for fear of I don't know what. But I've got a bit more lax about it as the months have gone on. 

Here we are at the Kite Festival, having given in to Elf buying A Gun. One of my previous posts dealt with my issues on the matter, and after lots of helpful advice on how to give in but not give up, I've given in! 

Well done to the three UK parenting bloggers going to Bangladesh to raise awareness of Save the Children.

The Gallery - A photo I'm proud of

The Gallery A photo I'm proud of

My iPad, although deliciously gorgeous, has its downfalls. I can blog on it, but the rich text editor on Blogger doesn't work. So I can put pictures and links in but they don't work very well. I always have to use OH's laptop to tidy up my posts!

Having looked at others' Gallery entries, I realise I have interpreted the brief slightly differently. I couldn't post a picture that I am proud of because I am not that good a photographer! I have taken this picture with my iPhone and am quite pleased with the clouds.

I am proud of this picture, taken at the beach yesterday of Elf and Mr Humdrum, is it shows that we have survived. We have finally exchanged contracts on our new house after 4 months of stress and worry. Usually the lynchpin of the family, as mum, I keep us functioning. Mouths fed and watered, house (sort of) tidied, social events arranged, plans made and kept... The worry of the last few weeks has meant that the appearance of a ready meal if any meal at all is a regular occurrence. The house is a half-packed pit. We are barely functioning as a couple, too tired and stressed to even talk to each other!

This is all over now as we have a definite move date. It might not be until the end of September but at least it's a date. They say moving is the most stressful thing (along with death and divorce) and having no experience of the other two, I can vouch that at least one is stressful!

I am proud that I haven't fallen apart. I am proud that now we can enjoy family days out, like this one, without anything else overshadowing them.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The curious incident of the two party-orphans

The other week we attended the firth birthday party of the the son of Elf's childminder. We struck gold with our childminder and she is still a good friend. Her son, we'll call him Blondy, and Elf got on like brothers - they fought a lot but they are better friends now they are older. Blondy is one of the youngest in his year at school and is just about to start Year 1. His party was at the local gymnastic centre, where Elf used to take his trampolining class. We turned up, Daddy in tow too as we know the family.

As expected, Elf knew only Blondy and I recognised just one or two friends. Blondy's mum confirmed that they were nearly all friends from school. Lesson number 1: Your child's friend demographic will change dramatically once he starts school.

Then, not expected really, all the parents save a few disappeared! I saw a mum handing Blondy's mum a business card saying "Right I'm off, here's my number if you need me." All very well I thought, but which one is her child? I think Blondy's mum expected this, and I have seen it at parties before, but it's still a shock to me. Lesson number 2: Find out if the parents are staying. Better still hold a swimming party, they'll HAVE to stay. Won't they? The days of chatting to the other NCT mums over tea in the corner while the kids try to slice each others' heads off with their pirate swords - gone forever? The chance to gossip to the other nursery mums about that member of staff who was caught eating the children's food? I actually like meeting my son's friends' parents, but I remember a friend's husband saying when their daughter had just started nursery "I don't want to be spending every weekend at some child's birthday party". Each to their own.

Back to the party. Because I know Blondy, I felt obliged to keep an eye on unparented guests , party-orphans, during the play time. I helped one child swing across the bar to the other side; I encouraged one to join in with my son in the pit; I was on the look-out for boys doing the I Don't Want A Wee I'm Just Dancing jig that they always do, or a child crying because they'd hurt themselves. (I hoped other mums would be so kind if I weren't there.) I thought Drop'n'Run at nursery was almost a crime, party-orphans take the biscuit!

At food time, the guests were treated to a mighty feast. (Did I mention that Blondy's mum is a professional cake maker and has been on Masterchef?) I settled Elf in, and stood behind him when he asked. (Why do the children expect their parents to stand behind them? It also makes photos look ridiculous - a child with the lower-half of an adult behind them!)

Next to Elf were two obvious party-orphans with nothing on their plates, not confident enough to help themselves. After filling Elf's plate with sausage rolls and ham sarnies, I asked them if they'd like a sausage roll. A ham sarnie? A cheesy puff? A strawberry? It went on. I mopped up their drink when one of them spilled it and pleased with myself, almost smug, that I'd done such an altruistic deed, can you imagine how I felt when behind me, the mum of those two poor party-orphans stopped chatting to the woman the other side of her and said to me "There's always one who spills their drink eh!" and promptly went to kneel in between her son and daughter, in the space that I'd just dried up for her!

Lesson 3: Make sure each child has a name badge, and a dot on it indicating "My mum is at the precinct either shopping in New Look or having a latte in Costa". Party-orphans - that's that last time I'll be taken in!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Gallery - Memory
This week's theme at The Gallery is a memory. (Apologies for the link in html etc, blame mobile blogging!)

The photo above isn't yet a memory. In fact it was taken just a week or so ago, but it soon will be a significant memory. Elf is due to start school in T-18 days. The Build-a-Bear that I bought him, called Captain Rex Baseball Boots (after Captain Rex from The Clone Wars) (oh and baseball boots cos he's wearing them), was a token to help him through the transition to school. He smartly looked at me and said "Well if that's from you, what will Daddy buy me to help me go to school?" Cute yes. Okay so maybe his innocence has already been shaken off, but the memory will be of him cuddling up to Captain Rex in bed at night, just as he changed from My Little Boy to My School Boy. He at nursery today refused to give me a kiss goodbye. It's already started!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

My tooth falling out is The Last Straw

Yes you read my title correctly. My tooth falling out today was The Last Straw. I have been on a one way street to stress this summer, I thought I was coping quite well but obviously I'm not! As I bit into the salami and mozzarella panini in Nerd, sorry Nero today and felt my tooth fasica crack off, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I laughed. It was close though.

As you will note in No 6 below, I am fed up with work and so have decided to open a new special chain of hotels. It is called the Stress Hotel, and is a halfway house between your house and where you'd go if you really couldn't cope. You can check out any time you like, or is that from the Hotel California? Anyway, this hotel chain has a no children policy so you will be guaranteed a rest. It will be a no partner zone, so you can stop arguing. You will have a life coach there, you don't really need therapy just someone paid to listen to your moaning and tell you that you Can Achieve Anything If You Put Your Mind To It. Positive mental attitude and all. The food comes straight from M&S, you can hire a "mum" to come round and clean and tidy up for you. There is no gravity so there won't be anything on the floor that you have to pick up, and that your partner has avoided picking up for the last three days. Do I need to go on, or can I take your booking please?

Can I just take a second to bullet point the stress points along this irritatingly windy, stony, one way street to The Last Straw? It will make me feel better if I do.

1. My Dad's heart op - after which (and thanks for all the nice comments) he is making a good but slow recovery. No sarky comment about this, it is my Dad of course.
2. The house move - we have still not exchanged and our third successive person at the estate agents have asked us some dumb arse question because they haven't remembered what they told me last week. Grrr.
3. My hormonal state - dads look away (I have fibroids and although my acupuncture is working very well, I do suffer two days a month).
4. Mr Humdrum working all hours - actually at work, then working from home, which is only punctuated by shouts of "I should have bought a f*&(%ing Mac Book" at the point the laptop is doing yet another Windows Update, and 5am book reading sessions because he can't sleep.
5. Elf's school looming - I know this isn't that bad, but it's still on the radar as "teeny bit stressful".
6. New management and dept restructure at work - I am about to be demoted from Data Manager to Marketing Executive, two rungs down from Marketing Manager which is what I was pre-Elf. A fellow part timer said "Are you suffering from Part Time Mum?" She understood. The first thing New Management said to me was "Can you print this out for me". I forgot, I have breasts.
7. My tooth breaking - I'm sure it's the tooth that is technically dead (root canal treatment) as otherwise I'm sure I'd be screaming by now. I have to phone tomorrow for an emergency appointment and have been asked by new management (see No 6 above) to schedule it for after our departmental meeting tomorrow, if not could I work Friday instead of Thursday this week.

I want to cry and book into my Stress Hotel!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Can I have another ice cream? Please?

At the BBQ I attended yesterday, I picked up a kids' food tip that I want to share with you. Mid-summer and I'm fed up already of hearing Can I have another ice cream? Please? Not only is it a snacktime staple, fed to shut up the I'm hungry whining when they didn't realise that th picnic we ate two hours ago was their lunch (or is that just my child?), it is also then an after tea treat, handy when I've run out of yogurts, and also a Treat When Daddy Takes You To The Shop. I counted four ice creams in one day once!

The tip is this: Freeze a squeezy yogurt (Yeo or Frubes are our favourites). Make sure when you take off the wrapper that you don't flake off too much of the yogurt-slate. Obviously frozen yogurt is quite soft, so your little one could use it as a teething aid too.

Secondary tip: Take out your frozen yogurt and put in lunchbox in the morning. While the yogurt defrosts, it keeps the lunchbox contents nice and cool!

Thank you to S's friend, mum of 3 girls from toddler to 7 year old. Can we start a tip swap?

Sunday, 15 August 2010

What the *&%^? Part 2 - Stumps and High School Musical

This is a bit of a cheat really. I was at a BBQ for M&S today (Mr Marks and Mr Spencer they are not). M, pictured here, was using my son's grabber and the picture just looked funny to me. I don't want to laugh at missing limbs because it is not funny (I think I am allowed though, my grandad had both his legs off and we used to call him Grumpy Stumpy).

I digress - the point is this. I wanted to post a picture of M&S's next door neighbour's 4 year old boy who kept peaking over the wall to entertain us. He put on his sister's red High School Musical dress, on top of his own High School Musical jock outfit, and then proceeded to sing one of the songs from it. It was hilarious. I did take a picture of him but resisted posting after being chastised by Mr Humdrum. It was wrong to even think about it, yes I see. Good job I was sober eh?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Is Amy Winehouse my sleb stalker in reverse?

You may remember three weeks ago that I took in some home-made chicken soup for my dad who was in hospital following open heart surgery. It seems that Ms Amy Winehouse has been stalking me and was papped doing the same for her dad! I mean, yes it's a good thing to do but stop following around me Amy!

Compare the two. Just because she's thinner than me!

My post and Amy's (or have I got that wrong?)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

What the *&%^? Part 1

Being a dozy big moo at the moment, I am idea-less and have decided to tell this story a la London City Mum and her people-watching posts (OK that's a polite way of saying that she posts hilarious pictures of hideous fashion and style crimes!)

Here is my version - What the *&%^? Part 1. I give you: The chav pram Excuse the white monstrous vest creature (I call that disorder Fat Back, and I do have FB myself, that's why I can laugh at others).

Look at the baby seat in the trolley! Quite a good idea yes, to put the baby seat inside the trolley in the supermarket but when you have finished your shopping and are now walking around the streets of a market town, NO!

Thanks to OH for this little gem, taken on his iPhone. I hope for more!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Gallery - Playtime

This week's theme over at The Gallery is playtime.

I tried to upload this picture and some text with mobile blogging on my iPhone. It posted the picture but not the text! Better luck next time...

Here is Elf last week at the new park near my parents' house.

I played at this park too when I was his age, and younger. My parents lived, and still do live, just over the road from the park. I remember going to sick way round on the roundabout (was that just us?) and when a girl from school broke her leg because it got trapped under that roundabout, probably when it was going the sick way. Makes me shudder to think about it.

The park is way cooler now, with tractors galore (its new name is The Tractor Park) and a skate park. We had our school sports days there too, and Guide and Brownies fetes. Happy memories!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Help! Can you remember who showed us how to make lovely headers?

I've lost my marbles. I saw instructions on someone's blog how to make headers out of pictures. It involved going to another photo website and I can't for the life of me remember what that site was, or who it was who posted the instructions!

Please tell me!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Gallery - Nature - A rhubarb truck

I am not really getting the hang of this weekly Gallery lark so apologies if I'm making some huge bloggie faux pas. Over at Sticky Fingers, last week's theme was Nature, and today I found the perfect photo opp. Elf and some rhubarb!

My Dad has just had open heart surgery and I'm staying with my parents to help them out. Elf has been staying with OH's parents nearby and today he visited with Daddy. A few jobs in Grandad's garden needed doing so we got Elf to work. He has dug potatoes before and puts them in his "gardening truck".

Here he is replanting a plant that Nana pulled out by mistake. This boy has green fingers!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Chicken soup for my Dad's heart

Recipe for chicken soup
  1. Eat chicken sandwiches and one meal of chicken'n'mash, then shred all the remaining dark meat from the chicken
  2. Put carcass, bones, carrot and onion, keeping the skin on to make golden stock, in Mum's slow cooker overnight (if at home, use £5 reduced AWT/Wozza's stockpot, which Mum bought for me and was gutted as they didn't have one left for her)
  3. Next day, sieve the carcass and bones and reserve the stock
  4. Sweat two small onions, add stock and diced chicken, herbes de Provence and a twist of pepper - boil, simmer and whizz up a bit to make a creamy soup
  5. Put in a flask and serve to Dad who is recovering from major heart surgery three days ago. He is feeling sick and after looking at the watery tasteless tomato soup he tried to eat yesterday, I'm not surprised he doesn't fancy eating. I will report back how my soup fares. Chicken soup for the soul, well chicken soup for the heart in this case, and from the heart.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Oops my dirty housekeeping secret is out

Taking inspiration from Ladybird World Mother's latest post, here's a conversation that took place last weekend.

Elf had tipped out a box of lego all over the dining room rug, right in the walk-through area. When they'd finished building ...

My Mum: Do you think we should tidy the lego up now Elf?

Elf: Nah, just walk round it, like Mummy does.

Oops and there go my efforts to appear like the perfect housekeeper to my Mum!

Monday, 19 July 2010

From Baby Einstein to Spongebob Squarepants - a history of a tot's TV trash

Elf has a new favourite TV programme.

Spongebob Squarepants. Until now, I thought it was some awful cartoon. And I'm wrong. Well it is an awful cartoon but it is harmless and quite funny actually. Elf does laugh when he watches it. And sings the theme tune. 

I asked myself the question - how many favourites has he had so far?

Baby Einstein - OK this was really my favourite, you know when you needed to take that shower, or that call, you felt safe leaving them in the hands of all those odd creatures in the Baby Neptune one. Well it's educational right? Anything which has pictures of moving toys and background classical music has got to be educational! My only bugbear - it used to say OCEAN and I'd say NO IT'S THE SEA. I used to shout at it. Moving swiftly on....

Bob the Builder - the staple (pun intended) of any tot's telly timetable (Elf's dad has just criticised me as stapling isn't associated with building - whatever)

Fireman Sam - or Firemum Sam as Elf called it - was I wrong to fancy Helicopter Tom?

In the Night Garden - I do miss that after a hard day's work. My old friend CWB knew one of the Tombliboos and if you knew what HE knew about him, you wouldn't be so keen for your little one to be desperate to watch Night Garden every night!

Fimbles - yes I didn't quite understand that one either.

Numberjacks - wasn't the Number Taker scary?

Waybuloo - Elf was a bit too old for this, but obsessed all the same

Backyardigans - took me ages to work out the premise of the show. (Pals meet in joint back garden and act out some fantasy or other usually involving an Egyptian queen and a quest for 3 things.) Very educational, and I'm not joking.

Ben 10 - a bit new for us and we're still learning. So that alien is Ben right?

Clone Wars - obsessed with Star Wars and now the half-hour cartoon. Too many guns though eh?

And we're back to Spongebob. What are your kids' (and your!) favourite programmes? Do you enjoy any more than they do? Do you (wrongly) fancy any characters?!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Push the button - a meme

I have been tagged over at Diary of a Frugal Family with her new meme.

If you had a magic button that would do anything you want when you pushed it, what would you make it do?

My immediate thought was "Make me invisible". I tried to think of something more umm clever, but kept coming back to the invisibility thing. A kind of cloak like Harry Potter had would be good, or even, as Mrs Frugal suggested, just a button to push.

Yes I'll be Mrs Pink-Whistle! Does anyone else remember this? A quick google found this book cover. I don't think I would have realised how odd the book title was when I was a nipper!