Monday, October 31, 2005

Two clean hamster cages, two clean goldfish bowls, a couple of interruptions by guisers trick-or-treating, and a phone-call from home. Is it any wonder I haven't got a huge amount of research done?

I wish the boys cared more about their pets! I don't mind having them - I quite like having cute little furry faces peeking out at me, and I talk to them whenever I see them. I like to see them pouncing eagerly on a titbit of lettuce or carrot. But I wish the boys would show a bit of interest other than just feeding them. I used to play with my hamsters. (Still do, on odd occasions!) And I cleaned them regularly. I still do that, too. BUT IT SHOULDN'T BE ME, should it?

Tomorrow, I have to read my research paper to my supervisor. I hope it's improved after all my efforts in recent days! Never let it be said that I'm getting cold feet...

Tell me something - how is it that, having had my hair coloured for the first time in over 20 years,not a single soul has noticed? No-one at home, at church, or at work! I think it looks different - does no-one else agree? Or do they all think it's so awful that they're tactfully saying nothing?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

"The person you need is Nanny McPhee!" You have to see the film to understand that quote!

I spent an uncomplicated day being just Mum, today. Did a proper Sunday roast for lunch, did the ironing, took the boys to see Nanny McPhee. Good, family fun. I have to say that the younger two boys went under protest - but they enjoyed it all the same.

Cello Boy commented about Nanny McPhee's charges, "But they're awful kids, Mum. We're not as bad as that!" Whilst the reason my youngest son didn't want to go is probably because he's heard too much about Super-Nanny, and is convinced that Nannies are Bad News. Let me state here and now - we've never had a nanny, will never be able to afford one, and have never, ever been in a position to consider it!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

This Chelsea bun is for Felicity. My guilty secret is that when I'm feeling impoverished but hungry at lunchtime, then a cup of tea and a Chelsea bun seems to solve both problems very efficiently. Doesn't do much for the waistline, doesn't do much for slow-release energy, but does act as a quick pick-me-up!

Not sure if people have Chelsea buns anywhere but the UK - so I thought I'd better show you one. I can't be the only working mum to harbour such guilty secrets!

Doesn't it get you mad when you waste time through no fault of your own? We went out at 8.30 am for the boys' Saturday morning swimming lessons. They took 20 minutes to get dressed again afterwards, but we still should have been home by 10.45 am. However, the M8 was static. We got home at 11.30 am, having detoured via Renfrew - or we might have been stuck on the M8 yet!

You think that was bad? Because I was out last night, I had to do the Asda run this afternoon. And I did it - but I got stuck in the carpark for half an hour on the way out, because the match at Ibrox had just finished. Too many cars on the road - so no-one could get out of the supermarket car-park.

It has been One of Those Days. When I wasn't stuck in traffic, I was being threatened by people who weren't looking where they were going. As I was driving towards the swimming pool, this woman was manoevring her car at the side of the road. As she reversed, her rear end swung out. Luckily I managed to take evasive action, but I confess I leapt out and told her she should have been looking more carefully. Talk about black-affronted! How could I suggest she had done anything of the sort? But she did. I wouldn't have swerved out to the middle of the road otherwise!

The final straw was when I was standing waiting to cross the road in town this afternoon, in pouring rain, with my umbrella up. I was just minding my own five-feet-and-half-an-inch of business, when this little old lady barged up behind me and told me very shortly to move that umbrella out of the way. I'm sorry - I was just standing there, waiting to cross the road. I didn't know you were going to charge into the back of me! I can't help it if my height makes me and my umbrella a mobile traffic obstruction for people who don't look where they're going!

Never mind. It's still raining, but at least I'm home now. With my lovely shiny mahogany hair. It's twenty-three years since I had my hair professionally coloured. (The highlights and tinfoil last time was enough to put me off!) I keep glancing in the mirror to admire my brown hair with no grey streaks! Yippee, I do have some feminine vanity after all.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

7.20 am. Brring, brring! "Hello, Mum - I've lost my jacket!" Being a music school pupil, Cello Boy stays at a hall of residence during the week. On Tuesday, he wore his new Next jacket for the first time. On Tuesday night, he couldn't find it, and on Wednesday he went to school without it.

This morning, Thursday, he realised he should be worried. And he was. Desperately. I can't say I reacted graciously.

I phoned the carers at his residence and explained our predicament.

7.45 am. Brring, brring! "Mum, I've found my jacket." Phew! Okay, it was the carers who found it - where he'd left it, and where he'd failed to see it in his panic.

A whole, glorious day passed. I floated home in an excellent mood - I'd achieved an impossible amount of work; it's been a warm, sunny day; and I've taken tomorrow off as a day's annual leave in order to work on my conference presentation.

10.20 pm. Brrring, brring! "Hello, Mum, I need a cheque for £14 for tomorrow morning, to pay for the school photos..."

Noble Spouse hardly even grumbled at having to drive across to the residence, where he handed in the cheque just as the front door was about to be locked for the night ...

It's 11.33 pm - time for a bath, a glass of wine, then bed. All of which I feel I deserve!
This, my friends, is a flattened Pseudo Supermum _____________________.

Having been on a training course all day, taxied Africa-boy to his fancy-dress party, and planned the church choir music right through to the New Year, there is nothing left of me. And nothing left to do but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Prioritizing is all about discerning what's important and what's urgent. That's what all the management experts tell us.

Okay - I had a research paper to edit, and two out of three boys needing fancy-dress outfits. (Halloween and Africa, since you asked!) I am not willing to part with £20 per outfit by going out and buying them. No.1 son needs to take his outfit back to his halls of residence tonight. No.2 son needs his for Wednesday, but I'm working Monday night. Therefore, what's urgent?

Last night I created a hooded cape (shiny black, with very shiny green ghosts printed on it), and an African chief's kaftan. Total expenditure, £11.75 - that's more like it. I didn't even look at the research paper.

TODAY I can get back to the paper. And that's important!

Of course, being a good Pseudo-Supermum, I also need to make a return trip to the supermarket for salad stuff and sawdust. SuperSpouse has announced that this time he really, truly is on a diet, and I'm convinced our female hamster has a urinary problem! On the face of it, this errand is not quite as urgent or important, in the grand scheme of things, but the smell emanating from her cage is putting me off both eating and thinking!

Friday, October 21, 2005

We have a Leering Laundry Basket. There will be no further blogging until the nasty brute has been silenced. Guess how we're going to spend our Friday evening? I'll tackle the ironing first, then once SuperSpouse returns from visiting Auntie, he can take over whilst I do the supermarket run. Whoever said the weekends were for fun and frolics?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I took all three boys to a wind-band concert this evening. We went armed with sweets and drawing materials. No.2 son took the new Games Workshop book, "How to paint Citadel miniatures", and copied from it.

They were all so good until halfway through the second half of the concert. The first half had been jolly Sousa music, rousing and loud. The second half opened with a march, but then went onto something a bit more esoteric. No.3 son wanted the book. No.2 wouldn't surrender it. The photo above shows you what transpired.

I don't think they disturbed anyone too much, though I got tired of shush-ing them. Still, I would rate it as a successful outing. They all enjoyed the loud brass and percussion - as I guessed they might. Pseudo-Supermum and Super-Spouse's kids are being brought up with a bit of Culture, you see - and they're even learning how to behave in concerts. Not bad, for 12, 9 and 7 years old.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Technology! I thought I was - well, not bad at technology. Today must have been a bad day. At work, a bunch of new CD-roms proved less straightforward to use than I had imagined, for technical reasons connected with our IT set-up. Then at home, SuperSpouse had to convert a read-only pdf file to a Word document for me. (He's got the scanner and software. I haven't. I'm very grateful, believe me!)

In between times, my research paper (which I did warn you was probably nowhere near finished) turned out ...
... to be nowhere near finished at all!

Disheartened, I have attended to practicalities rather than do anything to the dreaded paper. I've been and got petrol. I've filled in the Word document. I've renewed my car insurance. This is called displacement activity, I believe. What I probably will do, is transfer the annotated paper from laptop to USB drive to PC.

However, first, Pseudo-Supermum must go and say goodnight to no.2 son. Which is much nicer than sighing over a computer!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

When Aunty is here", I told the boys, "you make sure you behave yourselves."

"But she won't remember anyway!", retorted the youngest one. He's a pragmatist. Mind you, it makes for sense, doesn't it? Why did I bother tidying up and making everywhere spick and span? Because she won't remember. She has Alzheimers - she can't remember a thing.

As SuperSpouse took her home again after tea, she spotted one of the boys' friends waiting in the porch. Mistaking him for one of ours, she seized him for a big sloppy hug and kiss. There I was, gesticulating wildly, trying to explain to a boy of ten that this poor old lady really wasn't quite right in the head. Then I phoned his mother to explain why her son had been assaulted by a frail old lady!

Right, now I'm going to have a strong cup of coffee, before I fill in an application form for a job agency. I don't want to relocate (she screamed), but I do feel the need of a challenge.
Parents - don't dare speak to your kids!

... because you'll confuse the Nintendogs. It's the latest game for Nintendo DS. You get a dog, and train it to recognise your voice. Then it sits, stands, goes walkies, does all the things a pooch could be expected to do - even finds hidden treasure for you. Which means you can buy accessories for your Nintendog.

There's just one problem - if a parent speaks to the game-player, then it confuses the Nintendog, which can only recognise its owner's voice. I kid you not. Our house is spookily quiet just now - it has been taken over by aliens!

  • Nintendogs even has an entry in Wikipedia - which I must say is a darn good online encyclopedia. Very up-to-date.
I dare not suggest that I've finished my research paper. I'm quite sure it will undergo several transformations before it gets read in Manchester. Still, I have put it to bed for now, and am doing no more until my supervisor has commented on it.

That leaves me "free" for the rest of the weekend! Yes, I've still got the usual domestic commitments - including tea with SuperSpouse's totally confused Aunty tomorrow afternoon (she has Alzheimers) - but it also means I can get on with some other research reading in what "spare" time I have.

I told you about the September Weekend. Well, now we've reached the October Week. Yes, October has four and a half weeks, but just one of them is the school mid-term holiday. All week! No.1 son had Friday off (for the East Dunbartonshire staff in-service training). All three have next week off. Nos. 2 and 3 have the following Monday off - Renfrewshire teaching staff get their in-service training then. WHEN will the Powers-that-be in the Scottish Office realise that standardised holidays would be immensely helpful to parents, working or not!

No.2 son and I went to meet his new guitar teacher at lunchtime today. How's this for inspired psychology - the Chocolate Challenge? Occasionally, a piece will be studied and performed with the express aim of winning a chocolate bar as a reward. Our little guitarist thinks he's going to enjoy learning with this teacher!

It is a quarter to one in the morning. I'll stop here!

Monday, October 10, 2005

After going to the charity shop with four bulging bin-bags on Saturday afternoon, I rolled up my sleeves for more sorting and tidying yesterday. As I started taking precious tiny bits of plastic toys from all over no.3 son's bookshelf, there were howls of "NO! THIS IS NOT RIGHT!"

Au contraire, my son, this is absolutely right. The way we've allowed you to clutter the place so badly has been all wrong. I took his index finger and ran it along the top of the bookcase. Then asked him what he could see on his finger. "Dust." Exactly. Dust that our home-help couldn't clean away, because she couldn't get near the surface!

Funnily enough, after emptying two toyboxes all over the floor, picking out what was worth keeping and what had either to go to the charity shop or the bin, my two youngest sons were very proud of their efforts. And I was happy, because I could actually see clear surfaces again.

I wouldn't say we had finished our belated spring-cleaning yet, but heck, we're certainly getting somewhere at last. It's cleansing for the soul as well as for the house!

And that brings us to Monday. The twilight period was so hectic that there was nothing for it - I took a little bit of flexitime to enable me to go and be a research student in the Uni library for half an hour, then went home. Having gained a half an hour, we were able to have tea before swinging into action:-

  • Superspouse took no.3 son to a party in Paisley
  • Pseudo-Supermum took no.2 for his viola lesson in Bearsden.
  • Handed over no.2 to his proud papa, so that I could go to no.1 son's concert in Paisley.
  • Superspouse AND no.2 ("Why should I go to collect him from his party. This is so boring!") went to collect no.3.
  • Pseudo-Supermum enjoyed the concert and did her good deed for the day by running another proud parent home to Barrhead. He didn't drive, and it was pissing with rain - not weather for using public transport. There was just one problem - I had no map with me.

Anyone who has read Pseudo-Supermum before will guess the rest. I have an undiagnosed disability - a total lack of any sense of direction. After Barrhead I went via Darnley and Thornliebank to get to Linthouse. Look it up on multimap and draw your own conclusions. Still, I don't need multimap or a satellite system - I have SuperSpouse at home with his inbuilt radar for directions.

Here I am at home. All is well!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The upshot of our trip to the consultant is the diagnosis that our youngest son has an inclusion dermoid on his arm. It's a benign cyst, but will need to be removed under general anaesthetic. If you go looking it up on Google, beware! I found one website which was very helpful until it mentioned keeping the patient in a clean cage after surgery... evidently, rats get inclusion dermoids too.

No.1 son's cello had a problem this week - the spike assembly was broken and he was reduced to a complex arrangements of elastic bands in order to keep the spike extended while he played. So we've just been to the shop to get it repaired. No.3 son is too excitable to be allowed anywhere near a violin shop. He fiddled and touched and prodded until I wished the ground would swallow us both up. No.2 son was resentful but taciturn - still, at least he didn't meddle with things.

As we went back to the car, I said sorrowfully that I didn't think they deserved sweets.

Cries of, "Oh, Mum!"

"Give me one good reason why I should get you any?" Well, I walked right into that one, didn't I? Back came the answer, quick as a flash - "Because we're hungry."

Noble Spouse, meanwhile, is setting up a stall for his tramway society, at a transport fair. Don't know when we'll see him. I have research to do, and a meal to prepare. The research is beckoning loudly, as I have to rewrite my conference paper. (My supervisor wielded his red biro heavily, on Tuesday. I hardly know where to start.) However, I'm a mother with a family, and the family needs feeding. Guess what I'll do first?

Get the Observer tomorrow (Sunday 9th October) - I contributed a few comments to an article about work-life balance for women in their forties. Just wonder if I'll recognise any of my observations once they've been anonymised ...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The last month has been the month from hell. True, I've had five days' doing research down south, and that was extremely refreshing. But I came back to the decorating chaos, and September also saw two birthday parties and two dinner parties. We had a third dinner party last Saturday. That was less stressful, I must say. I'm getting better at cheating!

Our youngest son has a lump on his arm, which has us very worried. He has a follow-up appointment at hospital on Thursday. The lump has grown. I don't think he realises how worried we are, which is a good thing. If you're reading this and are disposed to say a prayer for us, then I'd be very grateful. I've said a good few myself.

This afternoon, I had a meeting with my postgraduate supervisor, when he looked over the first draft of my conference paper. It ended up splattered with red ink suggestions and alterations. I'm horrified at the amount of rewriting I shall have to do! But even more worrying - I know perfectly well that one key paragraph in particular needs facts checking out and references traced. I know I read it - but I can't remember where. Blind panic doesn't begin to describe how I feel. Where do I start looking? I think I read it in the past month or so, but I have no idea where. It's about first and second editions of a significant book. I can't even remember which significant book, since the composer I'm writing about compiled a heck of a lot of books!

There is a cold going round our college. One of my colleagues went home to bed this morning. I feel something trying to get me, but I have to play for a funeral on Thursday - as well as attending the hospital appointment with our little boy - so I simply cannot succumb to a cold until after Thursday. I'm gulping down vitamins and supplements like there was no tomorrow. If I have a nippy throat today, what will it be like tomorrow?

Did you read "recent research" saying that children get on best if they spend their early years at home with Mum - and even being with a childminder or relative is thought better for their development than being in a nursery. Pseudo-Supermum is very mad indeed. Because it doesn't matter if I'd have preferred to have worked part-time or stayed at home. I am the major breadwinner. My noble spouse is older than me and earns less. We could not survive on his part-time income alone, and he couldn't have given up work because he'd never have got back into employment again. Faced with no viable or economic alternatives, we feel we made the best choices possible for our three bright, vivacious and engaging little boys. It's not that we wouldn't have preferred other options in different circumstances - but we don't need to be told that we have adversely affected our children's mental and emotional development. We had a good childminder, and then found an excellent nursery. No, it wasn't the same as being at home with Mum. But it was the very best we could find and afford! Financially, it crippled us - but was better than what the experts now say we should have chosen. Humph!