Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mum. The word says so much, doesn't it? Wage-earner, housekeeper, chauffeur ... courier ...

Courier, I hear you gasp - is she into drug-running, too? No. Just taking defective toys back to the shopping centre. Yesterday lunchtime, I gave up my lunchbreak to take the thing back. The escalators weren't working in the shopping centre, so crowds of people were trudging up and down the immobile escalators. The shop offered me a replacement, but had none in stock. To do them credit, they arranged for a replacement to be kept aside for me in a different shopping centre.

Meanwhile - back down the escalators I trudged, back to work for another fun afternoon at the coal-face. That was one hour wasted. Got home at the end of the day, had tea, went to the second shopping centre with two small boys in tow, and effected the swap of defective for replacement toy. A second hour gone, but this time not wasted...

That meant there wasn't time to do supermarket shopping. And by the time SuperSpouse got no.1 son home from Boys' Brigade, it was 10.30 pm and I was on the point of collapse with tiredness.

I left the house at 7.30 am this morning for a conference in Edinburgh. Got back at 6.30 pm, had fried egg on toast for my tea (smile, at least it was hot food!) - THEN did the supermarket shop. Research? Reading? You've gotta be kidding. What with chasing boys to bed and sorting out laundry, there wasn't any time for research!

It is twenty years tonight since SuperSpouse and I first had a drink together.

You can blame the Salvation Army, strangely enough. We were playing in a musical, "Half a Sixpence". The band agreed to go for a drink after the last show. We crossed the road to the pub - and the others never joined us. They must have decided it was against their principles - they were all Salvation Army bandsmen, whilst we were Church of England organists ...

Monday, April 24, 2006

After my abortive attempt to find a posh top on Saturday, I found I had the perfect garment at home - it matches the skirt just fine. Even has similar beading.

Today I needed to find a jacket or wrap to complete the ensemble. I spent most of my lunchbreak at the hairdresser, so only had 15 minutes to spare. Did I find anything? Obviously not.

But wait a minute - I discovered that my deep plum blazer (which I'd initially rejected) did actually go very well with the top and skirt. Problem solved, at no expense.

Did SuperSpouse notice I'd been to the hairdresser? Now, what do you think?

This evening I should have studied hard. However, we had tea late - tandoori, to celebrate Middle-Man's tenth birthday. I spent a good bit of time rearranging his bookshelves to accomodate the new micro sound system. And a good bit more time weeding no.3 son's bookshelves of all the babyish, pre-school, pre-reading books.

There's a Christian Aid bookstall coming up soon. You should see the carriers lined up in our hall already, and that's just the offerings from my own and no.3 son's shelves. There is nothing more rewarding than a good book-weeding session. Comes of being a seasoned librarian, I suppose ...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Planning a boy's 10th birthday party? We're no experts, but we've learnt a few tricks. Try these suggestions:-

  • Buy a good bottle of wine the day before, and chill it well!
  • If you can afford it, have the event somewhere else. (We economise by taking the kids back home for a birthday tea afterwards.)
  • Action is the key - try an indoor climbing centre
  • If a particular combination of guests was unfortunate last year, learn from the experience.
  • Before you go out, hide anything fragile, and anything you really don't want meddled with.
  • Make it plain to your own kids which rooms (eg your own!) are out of bounds.
  • You're not planning a nutritionally sound repast - just filling food, like burgers & baked beans!
  • As soon as the guests sit down to tea, make a decent pot of coffee for yourself.
  • If you've been out for "the party", then you only really need to allow just over an hour for tea before pick-up time.
  • Don't plan anything else for the rest of the day. That bottle will begin to beckon as soon as the kids are in bed!I

If this all sounds very cynical, I apologise. I just happen to believe that planning is the key to everything, and is just as relevant to a kids' party as it is to anything you do at work. If you have thought ahead, and laid down some ground-rules, then you're more likely to have a great party. We did!

Image thanks to Berry Bros & Rudd (wine-merchants) website.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I'm going to a party at the place where I worked 18 years ago - they're celebrating the place being 25 years old.

So - what do I wear? I have to give the impression that I'm doing okay. I mustn't look as though I've totally gone to seed, either. I don't want to be over-dressed, because although I'm travelling down from Scotland, the people who work there will presumably be going straight from work.

I have a nice new purple velvet skirt that I bought in the Sales a couple of months ago - it's quite dressy, so I thought that would do fine.

This afternoon, I went shopping for a top. I tried a couple of things in John Lewis, a top in Wallis, three blouses in East, and a couple more things in other shops. No joy. There was a beautiful top in John Lewis, but the neck was too wide and floppy for me. All three tops in East were very nice, and I really liked one of them - but it was too long to show off the smocked effect at the top of the skirt. Sigh! I went and bought no.2 son's birthday present in Comet and staggered into Ottakar's for a cup of tea while I waited for no.1 son to rendezvous with me.

Back home, I cooked Gratin Dauphinois (because no.1 son recently said that our cuisine was "boring") - then went to look in my wardrobe. Guess what? I have the perfect top already - I had just forgotten about it. So now all I need is a glamorous stole, or wrap, or some kind of floaty jacket. But it should be an easier problem than I had this afternoon.

Having twirled in front of Super-Spouse, I changed back into jeans and tee-shirt to finish cooking tea.

No.1 son loved the Gratin Dauphinois. That's a relief. No.3 son, who is only seven, commented tactfully that "Normally I do enjoy everything you cook, Mum ..." Whilst no.2 son, who had a tummy bug yesterday, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and ate not one scrap of it. Ah, well ... he does want to be fit for his birthday party at Glasgow Climbing Centre tomorrow!

Friday, April 21, 2006

What a week! On Easter Monday, Super-Spouse and Pseudo-Supermum both had a tummy bug. He stayed in bed. I got up to look after the kids, but snoozed under a blanket as much as I dared. Urghh! By tea-time, no.3 son had succumbed, too.

I got nos.1 & 2 to make their own sandwiches at tea-time so I wouldn't have to handle their food and risk passing the bug on any further - hygiene rules okay.

On Tuesday, I crawled back to work. No.1 was back at school. Super-Spouse stayed at home with nos.2 & 3, who weren't due back at school until Wednesday. I crawled home at teatime to find my spouse still in his dressing-gown. No.3 had woken up bright as a button and completely well again. No.2 was still fine.

Ah, well - Wednesday and Thursday were normal enough. Last night, no.2 had a sore tummy, and this morning was still complaining. We dithered and prevaricated. Should he go to school or not? He hadn't been sick. He'd eaten far too much at tea on Thursday, so was it just indigestion?

When time came to go to school, Super-Spouse stood at the front door and demanded where the "invalid" was. From the kitchen, a small voice cried "Bleurghhhhh! I'm being sick, Daddy!"

No.3 went to primary school on his own, and I stayed with the by now genuine invalid. Who immediately felt fine, and tappy-lappied back to school at lunchtime, quite chirpy. It's very strange, going in to work at 1.30 pm on a Friday.

It's 10.30 pm. The shopping has been delivered, and I've been and bought the birthday cake for no.2's tenth birthday party on Sunday.

Tomorrow, we have swimming (all being well), then a guitar lesson. No.1 wants to go shopping in the afternoon. The guests who'd planned on visiting us tomorrow, have now delayed their visit, so my planned cooking extravaganza can wait another week. Maybe the evening might even be quiet and restful before mayhem erupts at Sunday's party!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The start of a super-Saturday: your kind neighbour not only points out that you have a flat tyre, but offers to change it for you. Which he does, with speed and efficiency. With a Citroen Xantia, you raise the suspension to do this. Afterwards, you lower your suspension back to normal driving position.

We (me, SuperSpouse and Super-Kind-Neighbour) stood and watched as the blasted car sat up on its haunches and REFUSED to go down. Tried reversing and driving forward. Tried driving round the block - boing, boing, boing, bounce! - it was absolutely awful!

Dig this:-

The constant ride height ensured by self-levelling suspension maintains aerodynamic efficiency and guarantees that Xantia's outstandingly sure-footed roadholding and handling are not compromised when you have a heavy load aboard.

- well, so much for what Citroen boasts! Finally, we tried moving the adjustable lever forward to a point where there was no marker and presumably no notch underneath.

Bingo! Fifteen minutes later, and there we were with a car that was level, and at the correct level for normal driving.

So I was eventually able to drive to Kwik-Fit (you can't get better than a Kwik-Fit fitter - remember the TV ads?), and get a new tyre. Yippee!

I've said it before - the feeling of admiration and gratitude that I experience when someone fixes something mechanical is almost pathetic. The guys that get your car going are the 21st century heroes, aren't they?!

The lady frowning at her flat tyre in the picture above is NOT ME - I'm nothing like so glamorous - but if I'm not decorative, I can at least bake. My bread-machine assisted with hot cross buns today, and I did the flapjacks all by myself!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The perils of online shopping! It is all my own fault. The shopping came on time, delivered by a cheery man with a smiling face. As I was putting it away, I came across something I hadn't ordered. Hmmm ...

Well, you can guess what I intended to buy. But I now have to go to the supermarket ...

What's more, SuperSpouse just archly commented that we haven't had Simnel cake for a while. "No", I responded. "It's something you only cook at a certain time of year. Like Christmas cake." "And it's Easter this weekend", he beamed, hopefully. (And who's going to cook it?)

I've got a lousy headache, and I've had it since yesterday early evening. I think my sinuses are playing up - but they aren't playing fair, because the medication isn't working either. Owwww!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Twirling like a top, Pseudo-Supermum tore through Sunday like a supermarket trolley-dash:-

  1. Set bread-machine going
  2. Church
  3. Ditch first bread attempt (didn't count the cups of flour right!) and start again
  4. Cook chicken Maryland and corn fritters
  5. Start measuring ingredients for farmhouse fruitcake
  6. Eat lunch
  7. Finish off fruitcake
  8. Start flapjacks
  9. Slice successful second bread attempt
  10. Collect bass-guitarist for evening Gospel-singing service
  11. Tea
  12. Gospel-singing service
  13. Make curry sauce for Monday evening
  14. Realise it's burned and make second curry sauce for Monday evening
  15. Collapse

I woke today and realised to my horror that it was Monday again with another hectic week ahead of me.

I coughed and sneezed my way through work, and came home gratefully to eat prawn curry put together by Super-Spouse. Returned DVDs to shop, had a couple of paracetamol with a cup of coffee (a-choo!), supervised the Changing of the Hamster Cage, made chilli-sauce for Tuesday (careful not to burn it, as I have now used up ALL our tomatoes, tinned and fresh), fiddled around a bit and now -

To get on with some reading. Serious reading. It's a hard life being a Pseudo-Supermum.

On a completely different note, I got a heart-warming email from one of our music suppliers today. He apologised for not replying sooner, and gave a web-address which explained why he'd been off work. Naturally, curiousity got the better of me. And there, in all her cute pinkly-dressed glory, was his new daughter Erica. The most beautiful baby girl I've ever seen! I kept her photo on my computer the whole day long. All together now, aaaaah!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

There I was, peacefully and unselfconsciously enjoying a shower. No.3 son looks up and gasps. "Eurghhhhh!"

"What's the matter?" I looked down at my 47-year old self and saw nothing remarkable. "You don't like seeing me in the shower?"

"It's not appropriate for children. ANY children!"

Well, that's me told. I am too disgusting to be seen even by my own family. Huh! I'll have you know I am still an acceptable weight - not officially over-weight, if a little heavier than I used to be. From the neck up, most people don't think I look my age. I can't imagine that I look much older from the neck down - which after all, rarely sees the light of day! (He should see his father .... who is entitled to look older than me, because he IS.)

I never told you the saga of the leaking kettle. I asked SuperSpouse to find the receipt or a credit-card statement, because we hadn't had the offending object more than six months and it shouldn't have been leaking. He couldn't find any proof of purchase. I emailed the company, was asked for the manufacturer's number off the bottom of the kettle, and got an immediate reply saying I could return it. We now have a new kettle - how's that for service? My mother would be proud of me - as SuperSpouse says, it's exactly the kind of thing she'd say.

The image is taken from the Dolphin Bathrooms website - and I'm happy to "borrow" it, because we have been so delighted with our Dolphin Bathroom. Three cheers for Dolphin!

Friday, April 07, 2006

It's a typical April day - April showers (huh! the sky is positively dripping with big black rain-clouds) interspersed with sunny spells. And I am off with a miserable sore throat/chesty cold virus. Going back to bed seems too lazy. Staying up seems way too much effort. If I sit and read a book, I'll probably drop off to sleep. Maybe that's exactly what I should do, then.

Later on today, the supermarket run will still be there waiting for me. The laundry will still be waiting to be hung up on the pulley. And - if I don't do something about it - the boys will have become materially absorbed into their game-cube/computer game/ DVD player, never to be seen again. I can't even send them out to play (the boys, that is, not the electronic stuff), because it's too wet.


On a different subject - a


to Felicity, who is 50 tomorrow (well, it's today for her!), in Australia! Lots and lots of best wishes and hoping maybe I might make it in person to the 60th, or failing that the 70th birthday party!

While I was working out what time it would be over there, I found a wonderful website - time and, which miraculously tells you not only what time it is anywhere in the world, but also does clever things like working out how long it is to your own fiftieth birthday (or whatever!) Hours of innocent amusement for all the family.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm black-affrontit! Two drilled and filled cavities later, he slid off the dentist's couch, took his Chewits out of his pocket and calmly started chewing. Whilst the dentist and I were discussing how we were to cut down his sugar-intake. Honestly, what a boy!

At least the dentist decided to give the tooth a chance rather than extract it straight away. I have to say that my little soldier was very brave and really didn't make much fuss when he had to have two fillings done. So I took all three boys out to the DVD shop after tea, and they each rented a DVD. Peace reigns upstairs!

However, I'm still left with the problem of what to put in their lunch-boxes that are nutritious, sugar-free or low-sugar, and still tasty for kids. No-one has emailed me with any suggestions yet. Help!!! I shall have to start looking for books about healthy lunch-boxes and snacks for kids. This parenting lark is never easy, is it?

(Black-affrontit, or black-affronted, means thoroughly ashamed. It's a Scots word.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

We avoid fizzy drinks, consume very little diluting juice, and have plenty of milk, yoghourt and cheese. We try to avoid giving the kids too many crisps. (So, what's she driving at? Self-obsessed, self-congratulatory career mum!)

Despite our efforts, I had to take our youngest son to the emergency clinic at the Dental Hospital yesterday, because he had a gum infection which I didn't want to go on raging until we could see our own dentist tomorrow. I went in with two boys and one gum infection. I came out with two boys, an abscessed tooth needing extraction, another decayed tooth needing an x-ray, a bottle of penicillin, and my tail between my legs. Too much hidden sugar in our diet. I'm officially a Bad Mum.

So now - if there are indeed any mums out there who've worked out how to get their kids positively to enjoy snacking on raw vegetables and other such healthy treats - please, please could you get in touch with me? I need sensible suggestions!

We had already decided not to buy Easter eggs, because other people buy them too many without us joining in. But that seems like a rather inadequate start to turning over a new leaf!