Friday, March 25, 2005

Cello boy has done it! He has passed his auditions to go to music school. We are all slightly stunned. The post came at lunchtime. Pizzas were abandoned. Next thing we knew, the two younger boys were jumping up and down, screaming "Yes! We're going for a Tandoori!" That is what we promised if he got in. Or was it if he passed his Grade 3? Anyway, in eight days he's achieved a Distinction at Grade 3 and got into music school, so ... er, maybe we'll just go for a Tandoori and hope that no-one expects to be taken twice.

We're having a lovely, peaceful Good Friday. Took no.2 son's bike to get new tyres, and we're about to go and bring it home again now. The sun's shining - what could be better.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


After the domestic stress of the cello auditions, and an exceptionally busy month in many other ways too, I could barely put one foot in front of another today. I am so weary! Caffeinated coffee doesn't begin to alleviate the weariness. So I'm stressed. No time to deal with it - I just have to keep on the treadmill.

Discovered another HUGE, mountainous job that I shall have to undertake at work - yes, folks, it's all for me. Heaven knows how long it will take - weeks or months, I suspect. No rest for the wicked. (No time to be wicked, come to think of it...)

At lunch-time, I dashed to the bank, to the music shop, and to the camera shop to collect SuperSpouse's long-forgotten photies. Except - although they were within the agreed collection time, the shop didn't recognise the order number, couldn't find the photies, and insisted SuperSpouse must have gone to another branch. EXCUSE ME, he doesn't know any other branch. As far as he is concerned, these premises ARE the only shop by this name. But it isn't one of our order numbers. How clear do I have to make it? He only ever comes to this shop. He has angina. He couldn't and wouldn't walk to the other side of Glasgow to another branch, apart from not knowing of its existence. After a quarter of an hour, I gave up.

I want a new pair of trousers to go with a new jacket that I bought in a Sale the other day. Do I have time to go looking for them? Nah!

Had to use some flexi-time to leave work early this afternoon - not for research, but so I could attend to family matters, like booking the boys into a week of sporting activities during their Easter break, and then going to parents' evening.

Once again, Middle-man still has invisible wings and a halo. Remarkable, really. No.1 son continues to do well, too. No.3 ...

... is a scamp. Sigh! I suppose there's one in every family.

This evening no.3 told me he had "lost some house-points". Why? For drawing on a neighbouring factory wall with wet paper hand-towels during play-time. The mind boggles.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A word to the wise: don't take three little boys aged 11, 8 and 6, to a Gershwin musical. Middle man: "I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored." Little man was snuggly, cuddly, wriggly and dozy at various times. Big man survived best - not surprisingly - but even he found it dragged a bit. "Crazy for you" has wonderful music, but is flimsy on plot and heavy on dance numbers. Beautifully done, but it did nothing for our three little philistines!

On the way home, we detoured via the audition venue, so that directionless Pseudo-Supermum would know where to take no.1 son on Monday. On reflection, a taxi seems the best idea - it avoids the hairy problem of trying to park in Hyndland. When the builders built Hyndland, they never could have imagined that tenement dwellers (even rich ones) might have two cars per household.

If I haven't mentioned research much lately - I ask you, when do I get the time to do any?!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Cello Boy had rehearsals during school-time, and concerts at night, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Proud Dad went to Tuesday's concert, enjoyed the string part but came back accusing Pseudo-Supermum of having known it would be a long concert. As if I could have known! I doubt the organisers even knew.

Proud Mum and two unfazed wee brothers went along on Wednesday night. We sat there in the middle of a row. "I'm thirsty. I'm dehydrated. I WANT A DRINK", announced middle-man. "You're in the middle of a row, in the middle of a concert. If everyone got up and went looking for a drink, there would be no audience. " Sigh!"

Meanwhile, on my right, wriggle, squiggle, "cuddle me, Mummy", SHOVE (that was the elbow in my mouth). Ouch! "kiss my elbow, Mummy!" But that was the elbow that just hurt my mouth. No way, son!

We survived the String Orchestra - it was good. We survived the Second Wind Band, too. Come the interval, we dashed for the door, bought drinks and sweets, waited to meet Cello Boy, and quit while the going was good. I think I'd have enjoyed it more without the terrible two ...

Today, Cello Boy heard that he got a Distinction for his Associated Board Cello Grade 3 exam. We are insanely proud. I managed to resist boasting to my work colleagues, but got on the mobile and phoned the proud grandparents as soon as I left to go home.

This weekend has to be devoted to preparation for the cello auditions. If things go quiet - it's only cyber quietness. You'd have to be here to know what I mean!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

No.1 son's second cello audition looms. He's been practising (for him) very virtuously, but is a bit over-awed by the determination of another applicant whom he's got to know. They've taken it to levels we never thought of!

It's been so hard fitting everything in. In the run-up to this second audition, he's had a cello exam, a residential music course, and two orchestral concerts. Oh, and a broken cello spike, fortunately fixed within 24 hours. Getting enough practice done around all that lot is quite a challenge!

Meanwhile, I'm fretting about my research paper. The first two pages, amended by my supervisor, look very learned. The rest looks lightweight. I don't want to project PowerPoint examples - I want them read out. This means recording a CD with colleagues at work, since I can't take the colleagues with me to Durham! That has to be coordinated into the working week, this week.

Finally, I forgot to order up medication that I am running out of. I ought to phone the chemist in the morning, but I have to be in a meeting at 9 am. All I can think is to phone, as I walk down the corridor to the meeting, in the hope someone might be there at the chemist's!

Talk about whirling like a top!

Friday, March 11, 2005

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm weary after red-nose day. What with a live radio programme taking place downstairs, then 2 hours of karaoke, that was enough noise for me. Back in my office to finish off the afternoon, I opened the window for a little fresh air, since the sun was obligingly blazing in ... and a bagpiper started up, to welcome the arriving delegates for a weekend conference. Oh, what a joy! Initially, it came as quite a relief to hear a lone bagpiper after all the din of the karaoke, but it kind of got on my shattered nerves after a while.

SuperSpouse's computer is up the creek. This stresses him out, understandably. He took no.3 son to Anchor Boys, forgot to warn the leader that I would be a bit late collecting him, dashed home for tea, tore around printing out agendas for his meeting on my computer, dashed out in a whirl, and went to his meeting. Leaving me to get no.3 boy from Anchor Boys, take no.1 to BB, then go shoe-shopping and finally go to collect no1 from BB again.

This time I decided to be reasonable. I phoned the BB leader and said no.1 son would be slightly late. This was easier than dashing to drop no.1 off early before going back to our neighbourhood to pick no.3 up late! (Are you still with me?)

Went and got new school shoes for no.3. Now we're home (briefly) before dashing out to collect no.1.

A colleague who has job-shared with another colleague for about ten years, announced today that she was resigning at the end of term. Honestly, I have lost count of the number of sensible women who have decided that part-time work (or no paid employment at all) makes bringing up kids that much easier. For me, though, it's not an option.

So, back to my decaffeinated coffee and trying not to let the stress get to me too much ...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Screech. Skiiiiiiiiid, ker-thump.

Oh, dear.

You've guessed - I was (fortunately) driving back to the subway after dropping off the boys. I was over half-way there when I had to navigate a roundabout. I've done it dozens of times. Only this time, I must have hit frost or black ice. The car went totally out of control, skidded into the roundabout, rose up the sloping brick edging, and - just as I thought it was going to overturn - slid back down again and ended up facing the wrong way.

Bother, as I said. Amazingly, at 8.50 am, there wasn't a car in sight. So, since the engine was still running, I manoevred to face the right way, got off the roundabout, and stopped with my hazards on, to check the damage.

Here's the miracle: there didn't seem to be any. I walked right round the car, it looked okay. I wasn't hurt. Still nothing coming. Shaking like a leaf, I got back in, drove home instead of to the subway, and had a hot, sweet coffee.

That was the next mistake. I wasn't thinking - I had caffeinated coffee, which I try to avoid. It made me jittery.

Still, I went to work, did a not very hard-working day, took the subway back to where I'd left the car and was relieved to find that the tyres were still sound and the suspension still worked. A miracle, as I said.

This evening, I've driven the car between 25 and 30 miles. No bother. Am I lucky, or what? Divine providence, I reckon.

The wanderer has returned - PseudoSuperspouse is home, shattered after his holiday. Er - excuse me - I'm shattered after it, too!

You want to know the total mileage of a single-PseudoSupermum from Friday to Wednesday?

225 miles.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The saga of the forgotten sports kit

Yesterday, we got to school, then no.2 son wailed that he'd forgotten his sports shorts. Well, I couldn't go home for them - I was already going to be half an hour late for work as it was. "It's all right", he sighed. "I'll tell my teacher."

Last night, he told me manfully that he'd copied out the school rules as his punishment for forgetting his shorts. He was mad at himself, because he'd never had a punishment before.

And then, half an hour after he went to bed, he came downstairs again. "Mum? Guess what?"


"When I got ready for bed, I found I had my shorts on under my trousers all the time!"

Don't ask the obvious, adult question. Obviously he hadn't been to the bathroom very often if at all all day, or he'd have noticed.

I promised to write a letter to his teacher. As I did it, I wondered whether the letter would improve the situation or convince her that he really was a silly scone!

Apparently she howled with laughter and proclaimed it was the funniest letter she'd received in her teaching career. And my middle boy's record has been cleared as a consequence. It is once again pure as the driven snow. Aaah, isn't that nice?!

Pseudo-SuperSpouse comes home tomorrow. It sounds as though he's had a great time. Wonder what he'll make of the mileage I've run up whilst he was away!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Had to take a half-day's leave, in order to accompany the cello exam. I could get to enjoy half-days, if it wasn't for the fact that you have to work full-time in order to be paid as a full-time worker!

No.1 son didn't enjoy his cello exam. It was a shame that the last, difficult bar in the first piece, went wrong. He can do it so well! It threw him completely. It's so easy, as an adult, to say "Oh, it was just a cello exam." To an eleven-year old, it's a huge big deal. I don't know if roast chicken and roast potatoes will ease the anguish, but it surely should help. And tomorrow he has the residential music course, which he is looking forward to. That should help, too.

If SuperSpouse is away, I usually try to get some big domestic chore done. Well, I've done all the ironing. I thought I'd get the duvet professionally cleaned, too. Well, the wheel almost came off that plan. They can't collect the duvet tonight! (Whoever took the order, didn't realise that the driver isn't in our area tonight.) So it has to be collected tomorrow night, and I have to go and pick it up from the factory on Wednesday night if we are to be reunited under it at Wednesday bedtime! It was meant to be such an easy, uncomplicated arrangement, too.

Business cards. Thought that would may you sit up and look. Did you know that you can get them free from Vista Print? I received mine today - they're fabulous. I'm dead chuffed with them. (You can tell, from this, that I am not important enough for anyone to have had them done for me before!)

So, to show my gratitude, I thought I'd tell everyone about them. Vista Print, I hope you're watching!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Happy Mothering Sunday - well, it is in the UK. I realise it's different in the USA and Australia.

SuperSpouse might be away, but the boys were prepared. I got chocolates, bubble-bath and cards - very nice, too.

Back from church, the kids and I were going to have a good old traditional roast chicken dinner together. At 12.1o, when I'd barely got my coat off ...

The phone rang. Was it SuperSpouse? Nah!

It was no.1 son's friend. "Can you come to my party?" "Yeah, sure - when?" "1 o'clock at Linwood." Fifty minutes? That barely counts as notice!

What about our roast chicken dinner???

We all gobbled gammon and pasta with a tomato sauce - at least I had my family round me for Mothering Sunday lunch, even if it wasn't the splendid spread I'd planned for. We couldn't have made it to Pizza Hut in time without the rest of us having a ludicrously late lunch. At least no.1 will get to the cinema. We'll have to have roast chicken tomorrow. After work, after I've accompanied the cello exam, and we've collected nos.2 and 3 from the childminder.

Did I mention my milometer? It's still up and rising. On Wednesday, I'll let you know how many miles I've driven whilst SuperSpouse was away for his Short Week's holiday...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

You know those free Stepometers that Flora margarine are giving away at the moment? Well, the boys are welcome to them! All I need this weekend is the mileometer in my car.

They got to bed late last night - I had to take the two little ones to collect their big brother from BB. Still, we had to get up early this morning for swimming. Then home, then orchestra (I've told you this before). Then lunch, then to Glasgow for the hairdresser and optician.

We hadn't even surfaced from the Underground when no.3 son stuck his foot out on the stairs, and sent a man flying. Luckily he regained his balance before his head hit the steps. More luckily, he accepted my apology gracefully. A less nice person would have thumped no.3 son for that!

At the optician, no.3 was so squiggly and wiggly that the optician decided to put drops in his eyes, send us away for 20 minutes, then have another go at trying to assess his sight. It's not good. (I mean, his sight isn't good. But neither was his behaviour.)

No.1 has been grouchy, all day. "You didn't help me put my cello away after orchestra." No, should I have done? I don't normally. "I looked at you." Yes, but I didn't see you looking. "Dad always helps me." I didn't know that. And he doesn't normally bring your brothers when he comes to pick you up.

No.2, meanwhile, has just been out to pick an argument with anyone crossing his path. Don't you just love kids?

We had a "healthy meal" just now : pizza and potato smiles. It must be healthy - no.1 son went to a healthy eating seminar this week. They learnt about various foods, then were taken to lunch in the college restaurant. And what were these 11-year old new healthy eaters given? Pizza and chips. What kind of lesson does that teach them? "Pizza and chips" is precisely what the politicians and nutritionists object to in yer' average school lunch. Which is why we supply packed lunches instead.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Pseudo-Superspouse has pulled a fast one on me this time. In the summer, he and his committee members are taking a group of tram enthusiasts to Dusseldorf for five days. It was considered necessary for the organising trio to do an advance recce, to make sure everything was okay. A "long weekend", I was told. Fair enough - after all, I went to Poland for a long weekend.

But hang on, guys. Friday to Wednesday is a short week, not a long weekend. Surely!

I took the boys to school. As I locked the front door, I spotted graffiti daubed on the stonework beside the door. I said nothing, drove the boys to school, drove home faster than normal, cleaned the graffiti off the wall, and went to work. Got to work by 9.30 am. (No, don't ask how I did it.) Luckily the graffiti was chalk not paint. But I was determined that it wouldn't be visible by the time the local kids came out of school. The initials were probably those of a local gang. I didn't want to encourage others to join in a bit more scribbling, so the obvious answer was to remove it, pronto.

Did a normal day's work. Came home on the underground, collected the car, went to get the boys from the childminder.

Home, izzy-whizzy quick, cooked tea, then we all took no.1 son to Boys' Brigade. I and the two younger boys did a hasty supermarket shop - what I call a snatch-and-grab raid. We need this, this and this. That'll do, quick, let's pay and get this stuff home again. I let no.3 son use a small child-sized trolley. Bad move. I thought it would stop him running away from me. Like hell it did. Instead of running on two feet, he now had two feet and four wheels. Wheeeeee!

Put away all the shopping, called mum to discover that the expensive Next Day Delivery parcel had not arrived. I'll have to put in a claim, which is a nusiance.

And then it was time to go and collect no.1 son. No.3 obediently put his pyjamas on, a fleece, a jacket, and took his quilt to snuggle up in the car. No.2 objected to curtailing his gamecube game. What is more important? Finishing a game, or being there in time for an eleven-year old who would otherwise be left waiting in a dark street at 10 pm. I thought you'd agree. No.2 son didn't get it, so he sulked.

Hey-ho, it's 11 pm, all three are in bed, and we only have to go out at 8.30 am for the swimming lessons tomorrow. Time to do some research writing before my own bedtime.

Shhh - don't tell everyone - I bought a bottle of wine at Asda. One small glass will just round off the evening nicely, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Well, what do you know? Some soya drinks are perfectly palatable. I know that - I've tasted strawberry and chocolate soya drinks, no bother. But yesterday I went on a phyto-oestrogen shopping splurge. First stop, the Chinese supermarket, for miso soup and soya drinks. My friends, I was totally unimpressed by Yeo's "not so sweet" Soy Bean Drink - described as an Authentic Asian Drink. In a word, yeuchhh! I love Oriental food. I could eat sushi, or noodles, or sweet-and-sour combinations every day of the week given half a chance. My favourite restaurant is a "nouvelle cuisine" Chinese restaurant in Hope Street, Glasgow. But Yeo's Soy Bean Drink? Count me out!

Next stop was Holland and Barrett's, for soya flour, pumpkin seeds, natural health supplements, soya desserts ... oh, I shall soon be sooooooo healthy!

Did I feel full of vim and vigour today, then? No, not yet.

Okay, I have written 3,000 words of a research paper which should only be about 2,000 words. And I haven't finished yet. I'm going to keep right on going until I reach a suitable conclusion - then take an axe to it and reduce it to the right size. I'll probably need the extra words for the doctoral thesis, even if the research paper has to be somewhat shorter.

New slogan for a part-time postgraduate working parent :

When the kids go to bed, Mum uses her head!