Friday, January 28, 2005

This time last week, I was in Poland! However, I have come back to reality with a bump - it's Friday and it's Glasgow - so it had to be the night for the supermarket run. Again. Nothing changes! Tomorrow morning we have swimming lessons then orchestra. Somehow we need to get three boys' hair cut, though I don't know if our friendly hairdresser will have time for us tomorrow.

Still slightly deaf, I went to see the doctor this morning. Decongestants were recommended, have been bought and swallowed. Still half-deaf. Ah, well - I'll have to give it time.

Being allowed to attend the doctor during working hours is something that we Brits should be grateful for. However, it just made a shorter working day in which to get through the same amount as usual. Indeed, I didn't quite get through all I should have done, though I made a noble effort.

SuperSpouse bought me a nice watch for Christmas, but the bracelet needed to be shortened. I went to a city jewellers' during my lunch-hour today, and explained that SuperSpouse couldn't remember where he'd bought it - but that I was quite willing to pay for the adjustment to be made. Whereupon, a good fairy smiled down on me. The shop assistant looked at the warranty, and there in the middle page was - Henderson's, Braehead. Which was just another branch of the jeweller that I was standing in. I got the bracelet adjusted for free, and danced out very happily!

Meanwhile, I am in the doghouse as far as no.2 son is concerned. I didn't make it to the newsagents to try to pick up Horrible Science issue no.1. I hang my head in shame - I'll have to try to get it tomorrow instead. Something else to be fitted into our Saturday!

I am thinking of my Polish friends this weekend. It's the end of their school Christmas holidays. And I can sympathise, because I can imagine all the preparations that must be made before they go back to school on Monday. I hope very much that they haven't all caught my cold, but I'm afraid they probably have. I'm very sorry, truly I am!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Temporarily deaf - please speak clearly!

- That's what I put on my desk today, because I'm still half-deaf after my cold-ridden flight from Poland yesterday!

It would have been sensible not to have struggled into work today. However, there was such a mountain awaiting me in my in-tray, that it was probably a good thing I did go in to tackle it! And I got my remaining Zloti changed back into pounds and deposited back into the bank, during my lunch-break. All that remain are a few tiny coins to remind me that I really WAS in Poland yesterday!

This evening, we did our family taxi routine again. I took no.1 son to his piano lesson and no.2 to Junior Boys' Brigade, whilst no.3 was taken to see "Silly Billy" at school. He disgraced himself. He talked so much during Silly Billy's routine that Silly Billy (plainly not so silly), told him to sit at the back of the audience! How embarrassing!

Back home, no.1 son and I admired his completed history project and got it printed out before no.3 and finally no.2 came home. And that was Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pseudo-Supermum is back home again after her Polish adventure! What a busy weekend I've had. It was a complete break from home and family and work preoccupations, and the chance to meet a penfriend whom I've grown to know well through an email correspondence over the past couple of years. I was so pleased to discover that we had a lot in common and enjoyed one another's company!

I've experienced the bitter cold of a snowy Polish winter, explored Lublin and some of its treasures, heard about Poles in exile and Polish repatriation, discovered how the piety of the Polish nation has resulted in shrines proliferating all over the countryside ... tasted Polish food, and admired the virtue of a Polish husband lovingly gathering forest mushrooms for his wife to bottle for the winter.

Perhaps if I hadn't had just about the worst cough and cold I can remember, then I might have been able to enjoy those mushrooms better. My sense of taste was diminished, and my appetite was embarrassingly small. (I promise I'll try again next visit!) Oh, WHY did I have to catch a cold this weekend?

I've experienced Polish family life, been barked at on several occasions by a gorgeous English/Polish ginger-haired spaniel, and fallen in love with a blonde toyboy aged precisely one year!

On Monday, I was taken to visit Majdanek, the concentration camp of Lublin. Believe me, if you visit it at minus ten degrees in January, you begin to understand just how grim it must have been. As I have been telling my boys, I saw it when it was clean and tidy and empty - an exhibit, and a ghastly reminder of how awful the Holocaust was. Imagine what it was like to be cold, hungry, weak and/or sick, dirty, louse-ridden, over-worked (assuming you were deemed fit to work!), crammed into horrible, smelly surroundings with hundreds of other poor wretches. It wasn't a human existence. And the perpetrators didn't deserve to be called human beings either. I found a piece of writing by a Jew who recently visited Majdanek. His Jewish history made the experience even more poignant. Here it is. It's called The Walking Corpses of Madjanek: a Birthright Tradition, and it's by David Young.

If you hear about Auschwitz in the media this week, or this year - stop and take note. These atrocities must not be allowed to happen again. EVER!

But back to today. I got up at 3.30 am (UK time), so we could hastily have breakfast and drive to Warsaw. The plane was a little late, due to a security scare before it even left the UK. By the time we touched down in Luton, I was more than half-deaf. That's what flying with a head-cold does for you. I hoped I'd be better on arrival in Glasgow. I am still more than half-deaf. But I've had a great weekend, and I'm also happy to be home again. As our six-year old said happily, "now the family is complete again". And it's a good feeling. Good to get away, but good to come back, too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

When not at work today, I bought SuperSpouse a thermal vest (during lunch-break), took Son no.2 to Junior BB and Son no.1 to his piano lesson, did a miniscule amount of organ practice before picking Son no.1 up again, ironed 13 shirts and 15 hankies (that was just for SuperSpouse - I gave up counting everyone else's stuff!) ... put two loads of washing through and hung some up to dry, and fretted about what I could possibly have forgotten to do.

I haven't packed for the Polish weekend yet. Nor have I booked the car into Executive Skyport. Or checked what time I need to be at the airport on Friday. Perhaps I'll stop blogging and get on with things! I feel like a liquidizer again. Wheee! Whizz!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Does it really matter, we ask ourselves, where the advertising banner goes? Well, it wasn't that simple. "Put it between the body tags", said the instructions. But some locations didn't show up. Others knocked the busy bee logo off the page. And still others came out off-centred. Suddenly, it mattered very much. Why? Because I'm obsessive like the rest of my family.

Whilst the menfolk in this house play electronic and computer games until I fear they'll be absorbed into the machines, Pseudo-Supermum fiddles about with HTML code. Very educational!

And now the advertising banner will be all about computer guff unless I write about something more interesting for their search-engines to pick up. So, Pseudo-Supermum will wind up by saying that she is really, truly looking forward to her long weekend in Poland this weekend.

Ah, a romantic weekend for two? asked ladies at my church. Not a bit of it! Who would look after the boys all weekend? So - SuperSpouse takes the reins at home, and Pseudo-Supermum goes for her weekend of rest and relaxation. Yes, yes, oh yes!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A somewhat different weekend - Pseudo-Supermum was the one at work in the morning yesterday. SuperSpouse took the boys to their first swimming lesson at a different pool. It was pronounced a great success - twice as long, twice as expensive, but probably three times the amount of time spent swimming.

In spite of a nap before I did the supermarket run last night, I still feel tired. I felt strange and was dizzy going round Asda - no idea why. I cannot spend the day taking it easy - I have too much to do. Though maybe I might have a little snooze after lunch ...

Friday, January 14, 2005

Super-Spouses - don't you love 'em? There are two plugs beside my desk. One for the computer, one for the anglepoise light. So, while my computer is downloading emails, not-so-super-spouse switches off both plugs. Yes, the computer as well as the light. Which knocked out my Outlook Express settings. It cost me six quid to ring my ISP and get it re-set!

Can you hear the gnashing of teeth from here?

He disappeared to his Friday evening meeting, in a tearing hurry, probably relieved to get away from the silly, pathetic little woman who minded about her internet connection being knocked out. As if something so insignificant actually mattered at all.

Anyway - it's up and running again. I've delivered son no.1 to Boys' Brigade five miles away, and collected son no.3 from Anchor Boys (just round the corner from home), and now have a bit of "spare" (pardon me while I chortle) time before we all have to go out again to collect son no.1 again. Son no.2 wondered why he wasn't allowed to go swimming tonight. BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIT IT IN, THAT'S WHY. Humph!

Maybe I should get to the Highlight of the Week - trying out the new iron. Such domesticity. Why do I not feel excited?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Followers of the UK news will now realise why Pseudo-Supermum doesn't write about her work. About being a career mum, yes, but not about work. It's too fraught with dangers.
However, I can tell you that I wished I was American or Canadian, today. I was reading about a forthcoming professional conference in Vancouver, at which there is to be a special blogging conference session. Wish I could be there!

Still, I may not be going to Vancouver, but I'm flying to Warsaw next weekend. With Poland in mind, I decided I needed a full-length winter coat. I've survived with a padded car-coat for years, but it could be colder in Poland, couldn't it?! Yesterday, therefore, I spent my lunchbreak very usefully. Got my Zloti, and bought a black winter coat. Super-Spouse reckons that I look "like a Russian spy" - now, that's a cliche if ever there was one! I don't really want to wander around looking mysterious, but at least I shall be warm and smart.

No sooner did I get back to work yesterday afternoon, than I wished I had also bought the mock suede hooded jacket that I'd tried on. I fidgeted until this lunchtime, then went back for it. Luckily, I tried it on again - and put the hood up. I disappeared in it! So, in a sense I have saved myself some money - but I'm sad, as it was a gorgeous jacket. Ah, well ...

Pseudo-Supermum is supposedly the mobile-phone-wise member of the family. Today, she changed from one network to another, which you wouldn't have thought too difficult. Now I realise why my old network is more expensive. You go into the shop, pay, and they do all the fiddly stuff for you. You leave, with an operational phone. Now, I am on a cheaper network. The young "phone trainer" in the shop was helpful but not very informative, and not very interested, because this middle-aged woman just wanted a new sim-card not a new phone. I left with my phone untouched, then had to make two long freephone calls to get first the top-up card activated and a new number assigned, and another call to transact the first top-up of credit.

I went back to my desk feeling as though I'd been put through a mangle. What a carry-on. Still, not only will this be cheaper - it will be significantly cheaper when I'm abroad.

I wish I had business cards. I'm not important enough. Maybe I can find someone to print me my own cards, with my new mobile number on? Oh, and I just remembered - I must notify the school secretary of the new number too - otherwise I'll get in trouble. Guess who's scared of the school secretary?!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

How can you wake up some mornings, oblivious to the fact that it is not going to be your day?!

We changed our swimming lessons to a different pool, different time, different day - but same local authority. I was told that lessons were on Saturday at 9 am. Naturally enough, we got up as early as we do any other day of the week, and set out in the wind and the rain at 8.20 am, to make sure we found this other pool in plenty of time.

We did. But lessons start next Saturday.

Back home, there was time to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea before we had to go out (in the wind and the rain) to No.1 Son's orchestra practice. We were going to buy a new hamster cage after dropping him off. (I'm sick of Togepi scattering sawdust all round the perimeter of her cage, so I want the kind of cage that has plastic sides.)

Dropped off No.1 Son, and went to the pet-shop.

He had sold out of plastic-sided cages during the Christmas period. There was one very neat little cage, but it was mouse-sized, not hamster-sized. Still, we went to the Post Office and the Chemist while we were there, so it wasn't a totally wasted trip.

After lunch, I was going to going and order my Polish Zloti from a big city Post Office. Out I went (in still more wind and rain) - left my car at the Underground, took the underground into town.

The Post Office shuts at 1 pm on a Saturday.

On the way back to picking up my car, I tried a local Post Office, without much hope. "Yes, you can order your Zloti", the lady said proudly. My heart sank. So I really, truly had wasted my time going into town?

"But not today - the forms are locked in a safe, and I don't have access to the safe." Right, fine.

Anyway, I'm back home again. I've had a restorative cup of decaffeinated coffee. So now, I think we'll go out (there can't be MUCH wind and rain left out there, surely?) - to take back library books and pay fines. Had I had my car last weekend, I might have been more motivated to take books back! I am 99.99 % sure that the branch library will be open, but I'll edit this posting if not!

I was going to go to the University Library to do some more work on The Article, but I think by the time we've had our evening meal, I shall have had enough rushing around for the day. Maybe tomorrow!

Friday, January 07, 2005

I'm going to scream! How's this for another STUPID product label:

When replacing vacuum cleaner bags, remember to switch off and unplug your appliance.

My friends, when did you ever leave your Hoover running while you changed the bag?!!!
Hurried Woman Syndrome! I ask you - couldn't they have come up with a more exciting-sounding name for it? Like, for example, Pseudo-Supermum Syndrome ...

Read Cameron Simpson's column in The Herald yesterday (Thursday 6th January, 2005), about the syndrome that affects 74% of women in the UK.

Mind you, maybe it's appropriate that it's a humdrum name - after all, that 74% of us have a rather humdrum existence most of the time!

Today, Pseudo-Supermum whizzed around like a liquidizer:-
  • Retrieve car from garage. Honestly, the size of that broken plastic clutch-cable clip! (Smaller than an external USB drive.)
  • Take boys to school
  • Go to work for staff development morning
  • Go to University Library to check some references for that research article that the editor has asked me to "improve".
  • Home for tea, then take Son no.1 to Boys' Brigade, and finally self to Asda for the weekly shop.
  • More research? Not tonight. Not on your life! I'm done in.

And the cure for Hurried Woman Syndrome? More rest, more exercise. Simple, really. Where did I leave those spare hours in the day? I'm sure I put them down somewhere ...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Question: What do you do with an 8-year old who is pale and wan (peely-wally, if you want the Scottish expression), "doesn't feel well", has no appetite and can't stop shivering? (And has put himself back to bed, fully-dressed!)

Answer: Well of course, you stay home with him.

Question: What do you do to an 8-year old who "feels a bit better" by 8.30 am ; who wants to get up by 8.45 am; and who is eating chocolate from his Christmas selection pack by 9.30 am?(ie, once SuperSpouse has gone to work, and when it's impossible to take the kids to the childminder because your own car is still out of action!)

Answer: Well of course, you're delighted that he feels better. Hugs, kisses and Calpol rule okay. But yes, I do feel as though I've been "suckered"! On the other hand, I have had a relaxing day. Pity I had to take a day's holiday, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Got lots of reading done!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tsunami Appeal

If you haven't done so already, please consider donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

NB this is a UK site. However, a Google search on "Tsunami Appeal" should find you some suitable website for donating online.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I have to share this one with fellow Supermums!

Son no.1 received a Crystal Growing Kit this Christmas. We "grew" our crystals together, carefully. Not that we needed to worry - "Safe, Easy to do", said the box. "Ages 10 and up."

Ah, that's what you'd think! Next to this, in smaller print was the caution-

  • "Warning: this set contains chemicals and apparatus that may be harmful if misused. Read cautions carefully. Not to be used by children except under adult supervision."

But there was more! The instructions inside recommended soap and water if the solution accidentally got on skin, warm water for eyes, or medical attention if it was swallowed.


Too much time was spent updating and improving Pseudo-Supermum's weblog yesterday. Today, therefore, is literally just an update.

Christmas has been tidied away, and the lounge is back to normal. The boys won't be able to go to bed tonight until some serious tidying has taken place in their rooms, mind you!

Superspouse is currently visiting Auntie, to see if she's getting over her cold yet. Things were looking gloomy over the weekend, but her brother-in-law found her slightly improved yesterday.

Pseudo-Supermum now has to plan the church choir music from now until at least Easter. And rather than waste any further time, that's just what I'm going to do. Right now - all systems go!

Research comes last, but has not been forgotten. I'll do some reading tonight.

And it will be back to work on Wednesday. Sigh!!!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

I have been thoroughly lazy this week
- but it has probably been good for me. We got up very late indeed this morning, but no.3 son saw to it that we didn’t sleep late. He had a burning urge to read his new rhyming dictionary with me, and I couldn’t possibly squash such enthusiasm, could I?!

Sons nos. 1 & 2 stayed up to see the New Year in, and had a teaspoonful of wine each to toast it with. No.2 swore he wouldn’t touch another drop for at least a year; he was quite unimpressed. No.1 pretended to like it. Both were then stupidly giggly until we got them into bed, though I doubt the teaspoonful of wine had much to do with it – they were just over-excited.

Meanwhile my poor car saw the New Year in locked behind garage doors, where it will languish until at least Wednesday afternoon. Can’t be helped – it won’t go anywhere with a broken clutch linkage, or cable, will it?

Aged Auntie is quite unwell with her cold. Super-Spouse went across again today, and says she was sleepy and really not at all with it. She is hardly eating or drinking. The carers don’t seem terribly worried – unless, of course, they know from experience that if an old person’s time is up, then their time is up, and there’s not a lot the medical profession can do about it.

Well, I think I might cajole my youngest son into writing another thank-you letter or two before bedtime. Eventually I got so tired of going on at him yesterday, that I typed thank- you letters with spaces in appropriate places, for him to fill in. It didn’t help much – he really didn’t want to do it at all! However, if I dangle an incentive in front of him, then who knows what might transpire …
And then it will be an early night for everyone, I think. How can one be tired when one has done precious little all week? Unless I’m still knackered from the pre-Christmas rat-race!