Monday, January 30, 2006

Pseudo-Supermum is on Broadband. It took all weekend and seven calls to my service providers. I got to bed at 2.30 am this morning, and am knackered. End of posting for today - after insufficient sleep and a day at work, I am brain-dead.

Hoping for a speedy recovery ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Took a rare half-day's flexitime to do some research and meet my supervisor. I was quite disciplined - I allowed myself a Costa coffee and a cake before going to the library, but then I got my head down and I worked. Met my supervisor, worked some more, borrowed a book and went home to tea. Back out again to work another 20 minutes (pathetic, isn't it?!) and deliver more funds to Cello Boy. He was waiting to go swimming with his pals, so we didn't exactly get the chance to chat.

Back home. Researched the availability of some old publications on the secondhand market - and then remembered to check a very obvious library. We have the titles I was about to buy. Aw, shucks! I didn't realise I'd built up such a good resource over the years...

The trouble is, once I'd got no.3 son to bed, practised with no.2 son, put a load of washing through and researched some more publications, I was knackered. Or should that be, I am knackered.

All these Victorian gentlemen that I'm researching, have got me going round in ever-decreasing circles. Every time I think I've covered enough, I find I need to investigate some more. They must have had a lot more time to do their writing and collecting than I do to spend on research. Then again - they had wives and/or housekeepers.

I read it before, somewhere - this is not an original thought -

What a working woman really needs is a wife.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Spiderman was in my car today. No.3 son had to go to Yorkhill Hospital for his follow-up appointment. I collected him from school, drove to Yorkhill, and immediately found there were no parking spaces left. I did my 3-point turn at the end of the carpark like everyone else, queued up to get out of the carpark again, and trundled round the hospital in search of a space. You'll appreciate, then, that I wasn't exactly watching what no.3 son was doing, beside me. We got parked. Then he showed me - he had taken his turquoise chewing-gum out of his mouth, and it was now a glutinous turquoise web joining each finger to every other finger. I grabbed windscreen-cleansing wipes (they were the only wet wipes in the car) and did my best. Every strand of gum that I removed from my child, went onto the wipe and then onto me. Yeurchhh!

Eventually I got rid of Spiderman, and no.3 son was back beside me - approximately clean. We scrubbed up when we got inside the hospital. (Windscreen-cleansing wipes are probably not designed for seven-year old hands, but we did use soap and water afterwards!) For the first time ever, our appointment was running seriously late. You don't mind when you know that normally you are seen either on time or slightly early.

It turns out that no.3 son's lump had been a pilomatrixoma, which is a benign skin tumour. "Tumour" sounds scary, but "benign" is a very nice word to hear. I'm glad it has been removed, and we've been officially "discharged" from hospital. I knew they'd have recalled us sooner if the biopsy revealed anything terrible, but I was still relieved to be told that it wasn't malignant.

Last night I was desperately tired. Got to bed around midnight, but I was still shattered today - I could have fallen asleep by midday. No surprise that I had another headache by the evening, but at least it has lessened now. Okay, I shouldn't have to take regular beta-blockers and occasional paracetamol, but it gets to the stage that I'd rather be pain-free than worry about the philosophical issues!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This was the week Pseudo-Supermum went to Prague for 48 hours - my reward for surviving Christmas and the research conference last week!

As ever, I rushed to get organised beforehand. Everything went pear-shaped when I got an email reminding me to update my Norton subscription before it expired. Now, I had bought the updated disc - I just hadn't got round to installing it. When I looked at the package, I nearly had a fit - it would time-expire a few days after delivery. I don't like these self-destructive serial numbers! Anyway, I decided I'd better install it before going to Prague. Did this go smoothly? Not exactly, no!

I finally turned off my computer just before midnight on Wednesday, satisfied that it was now updated and I would hopefully not get any more email reminders!

Prague? Prague was seven degrees below freezing at midday. Brrrr! It was a fascinating city, and we had a good time - overdosed on gift-shops and walked our socks off in-between times. The only disaster was the hot toddy, consumed under patio heaters in one of the historic squares at about 9 pm last night. No problem with the bourbon whisky, lemon juice, hot water, sugar - it was the spices that finished us off! Crikey, they put a lot in! It effectively anaesthetised your throat. Still, we were well and truly warmed through, inside out and outside in, by the time we set off the for the metro back to the hotel.

I got back around lunchtime today. That was intended to be rest and relaxation? I could do with a spa break now, just to chill out and do nothing!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

This evening has been one of those nights where everything goes wrong. I'm off to Prague on Thursday morning, returning Saturday. We needed a babysitter for Friday, and I thought it was all sorted out yesterday - then the arrangements unravelled this evening. Super-Spouse was very anxious. Eventually, a kind friend agreed to help us out, so we both get to do what we'd planned to do that evening! (Since I'll be in Prague, that's something of a relief ...)

Meanwhile, no.2 son was in a Mega Grump because after an hour using his Dad's computer, he was asked to move over and let Dad use it! Outrageous! A black cloud descended over the boy, then spread over his brother and father, and began to envelop me.

I am sitting downstairs with a large umbrella to protect me from all these testosterone-fuelled black clouds. My 48-hour treat with a girlfriend from work was beginning to look like a Very Bad Idea as far as domestic harmony was concerned. Not so much the music of the spheres as Mars, God of War, from Holst's The Planets!

Anyway, you should see my beautiful document compiled for the family's benefit. Text-boxes, colour fill-ins, phone-numbers, flight times - a miracle of organisation. Having done it, I've had enough - time to stop thinking about anything at all tonight, I reckon!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Please say your prayers for a 12-year old boy who lost his mum due to a tragic accident yesterday. We got a letter from the primary school to say that one of the classroom assistants had died yesterday. The boys were told that she'd fallen downstairs at home. It's awful - but particularly sad for her only son, who was a friend of our oldest boy before they went their separate ways to different secondary schools. Although the boys all knew what had happened, I don't think our youngest son realised the full implications until bedtime this evening, when I suggested we should say a prayer for the boy and his grandmother, who would be feeling very sad.

It's very sobering, when you think how often we hurry up or down stairs without a second thought - that you could lose your footing and suddenly nothing will ever be the same again.

So please - just pause for a second, and take care!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

As SuperSpouse has just commented, sitting at the dining-room table perusing old paperwork, "This is very interesting but is not getting anything done." Me, too. Back to work, Pseudo-Supermum!

My trains were running late on the way back from the conference, so I bought a self-improvement book: Eat that frog! Subtitled, "Get more of the important things done - today", I thought it looked useful for someone with an overloaded in-tray, not to mention life. You'll find details of it on the sidebar to the right of this posting.

It was by a man. (Brian Tracy, to be accurate.) It was good - it made lots of useful points, including the philosophy that 20% of what you do is actually important and/or significant. So, the theory goes, you do that and to hell with the rest of it.

Okay, so I sit down with my sheet of paper and write down the Most Important tasks I do. But, having a triple identity of careerist, mother and research student, I have to have THREE columns of Most Important tasks.

Let me ask a salient question, then:- am I permitted a Top Twenty percent for each of the three headings, or do I have a Top 6.7 percent for each heading? I reckon we're running into problems already. However, I did buy a diary in which to write my Jobs to Do each day and week. Once I've worked out my percentages ...

  • I look at my job. Not too hard to pick out the Most Important tasks. Sadly, if I don't do the other 80%, no-one else will either. I can't delegate most of it. And I'll disappear behind piles of stuff if I don't deal with it. I can't bin it. A bit of a glitch there, then.
  • Let's look at home. Of all the things I do at home, parenting has to be the Most Important. But as well as spending quality time with the kids, they need looking after. That involves shopping, meal-plans, laundry, ironing, putting away, tidying up ... sure, I can delegate the last two. I could delegate some of the rest but hang on a minute - SuperSpouse will have his own Top Twenty Percent, too. So dumping my Less Important tasks onto him will almost guarantee that they'll go into his Eighty Percent Less Important tasks, too. How, exactly will that get them done?
  • Okay, my research. That's easy. I know what I need to do. But when? And there is No-one On Earth to whom I can delegate that. So there's a slight problem there, too.

Hmm, I think I'll do the ironing while I ponder these philosophical questions. Of course, there's another question, too. Where does my Pseudo-Supermum weblog come into the equation? Not part of my working life, not part of my research, just part of my Staying-Sane strategy for life in general. If I didn't do it, it would make no difference to anyone on earth - but it is something I like to do.

One of Pseudo-Supermum's followers asked how the boys enjoyed being at the childminders' on Wednesday and Friday; I can report that there were no further complaints. My paper went well at the conference - I was very happy when my Guardian Angel (aka my supervisor) walked in just before my paper, so he was there to hear it, too. There were enough people present to make it feel worthwhile, so I came away quite content. There's just one more thing I need to do this weekend - not a Top Twenty percent task, but who else will do it? - and that's to claim compensation for two very much delayed train journeys. Did I intend to get back to our house at 1 am on Friday morning, knowing I had to be at work at 8.30 am? Indeed I did not!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I've printed my conference paper, changed it, reprinted it ... checked my tickets, packed my bag, worked out where to go when I get there. I just need to book a taxi for the morning.

We had an extra two little boys across to play this afternoon - honestly, an extra couple makes no difference at all when you've got three of your own. They agreed they all wanted spaghetti bolognaise for tea, which made things easier for me. Couldn't agree on puddings, so I defrosted two. Well, I did do the spag. bol. from scratch - I wasn't too proud to use frozen ready-made puddings!

Tomorrow and Friday, the boys need to go to their childminder. I'm at the conference for two days and back at work the third. Super-Spouse is off on Thursday but has to work Wednesday and Friday. No.2 son was very cross indeed that he has to go to the childminder. After a few attempts at getting him to understand, he didn't actually admit that it was unavoidable and inevitable - but he did stop complaining. Sometimes, son, we all have to do things we'd prefer not to do. What's that prayer?

Give me the strength to change the things I can change, the
courage to accept what I can't change, and the wisdom to know the

Monday, January 02, 2006

Eureka! I finished my research paper before 2006! Only just - by an hour or so - but I did it, all the same. Well, that was the first draft. I've modified it very slightly since then. I also read it to SuperSpouse earlier this evening. He nobly listened to it, and tried not to be too bamboozled by all the stuff that I hope other musicologists will know about.

I shouldn't have tried to research the genealogy of George Farquhar Graham tonight, though. It just wasted time. Ah, well ...

Christmas is officially over in our house - I stripped the tree, put away all decorations, and took all the cards down. Once Hogmanay is past, Christmas seems a long way away. It might have been traditional to leave everything until 6 January, but I wanted it all tidy again before I go to this conference in Leeds on Wednesday. I've been cajoling the boys into writing "thank you" letters - and I'd better do mine, double-quick, if I want them all to be posted fairly soon.

This afternoon, we all went to see Narnia, and a good time was had by all. It started slowly, but was fun to watch. After that, we had tea at KFC. For us, that was a first, but we enjoyed it more than McDonald's. (Jamie Oliver would surely prefer coated chicken pieces to chicken nuggets???!)

Sons nos. 1 & 2 have friends coming across tomorrow afternoon. Tell me, why is it "unfair" that no.2 son is permitted to have a friend across at the same time as no.1? No, I didn't quite get that either. "But he always pesters us when I have a friend here." To which I could only retort, "Well, he's less likely to annoy you if he's busy having fun with his own pal!"

My mother told me to go see a doctor about this sore throat virus. Yes, right! I woke this morning to realise that I actually felt a good bit better. I won't be going to see a doctor. When did I ever do what I was told, anyway?!