Thursday, 31 May 2012

From The Queen to The Other Queen

I AM The Queen. Well, the Queen of my own domain which is, co-incidentally, about the size of a house. Unfortunately my subjects are often revolting and mostly unwashed. The crown jewels aren't up to much either but queen I am.

I like to think my reign is happy and glorious, if not often victorious because SOME of the subjects can be particularly tricky when it comes to royal banquets and tend to demand tomato sauce on everything which can put off any visiting diplomats from over the road.

One about to hitch a lift from one's fellow Queen

Of course, as part of my own queenly duties I have mingled with members of the royal family on numerous occasions. Due to security issues and to fool the paparazzi I have, of course, assumed the guise of reporter from the local newspaper.

Prince Charles and I once had an intimate conversation (with only a hoard of press and a several dozen royal hangers on standing by) in the drawing room of a picturesque stately home. I shall never forget his words to me: "Are you all alright?" he asked and tugged down his shirt cuffs in that way that he has.

Things could have turned out so differently for both of us if only the Lord Lieutenant hadn't intervened to usher him on to his next engagement. But perhaps it all worked out for the best, I couldn't be doing with the endless polo if I'm honest.

And so graciously, in my role as monarch of these, um, floors I extend my congratulations to the Queen of England as she celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. A magnificent sixty years of throne-ing and waving badly and politely asking "What do you do?" Well done, Ma'am.

*Doffs tiara*

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Gallery ... Sunshine

The theme for The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers this week is Sunshine .. so it's a good job there's been a plentiful supply of it around *phew*

But whatever the weather, a dudes gotta do what a dudes gotta do ....

Work .....(well, I can dream)

Rest .... he very nearly ALMOST sat down!

And play ..... but not too hard because it's just too damn hot. Hurrah.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Thoughts On A British Wine ...

I'm not a wine connoisseur or a wine buff. I'm not even a wine snob. If it's wet but also a bit dry, tastes alright and makes the world look just that little bit brighter through the bottom of a bottle of it, I'll drink it. Quite a lot of it to be honest.

So I wasn't entirely worried about the wine I'd carefully selected at a reputable local supplier at a reasonable price last night.....Though for "carefully selected" read "snatched off the shelf," for "reputable local supplier" read "the local Londis" and for "at a reasonable price" read "three for £9.99. What? Don't judge me .... they usually stock a very palatable Pinot for the same deal. *Huffy face*

Monday, 28 May 2012

A (meno) Pause For Thought ...

I'm 47 years old and this week I had a hot flush ... or at least I thought I did. Until The Man pointed out we still had two duvets on the bed and it was one of the hottest nights of the year.

But still, it COULD have been a hot flush which sent me into a spiralling panic about *whispers from behind hand* the menopause.  And it occurred to me that I knew absolutely less than nothing about it, apart from the hot flushes and growing a beard. Maybe.

Hitting puberty is an much more we're-all-in-this-damn-thing-together episode and swathes of hormonally-addled teens are given classes in school to prepare them for the "journey." When I was young, I even got a jolly little book, presumably from the government, which mostly said don't panic and keep clean.

At the other end of the spectrum (and speculum), the menopause is just waiting to happen and no bugger is going to tell you anything about it until it does. I managed to resist Googling the menopause for just exactly the length of time it took me to turn the laptop on, but as the first three drop down options were "menopause symptoms," "menopause, depression" and "menopause, arthritis" I turned it off again.

Girding, by now in my own mind, shrivelling loins together, I Googled again and, while speed-reading, site-hopping and occasionally wincing, I determined that The Menopause can start at ANY AGE to be honest, can last for YEARS *shocked face* and generally sounds a whole load of NO FUN. It's no wonder they don't run classes on it, women would be on anti-depressants for, well, all their life.

I couldn't find any answers to the questions that I really wanted answering though, which were:

1: How soon will they give me HRT?


2: Will I suddenly get the urge to wear Amercian Tan Tights, a twinset and lace up shoes?

*Scream face*

So I've decided not to have a menopause at all. Well, not just yet.

*Takes the extra duvet off the bed*

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Boys Will Be Boys ...

Picture the scene, if you will. It's home time at school. It's one of the first truly hot sunny days of the year and the parents hanging around the school gates are having a chat, smiling and ACTUALLY laughing because everything is so much better when the sun comes out. EVEN the people at the school gate you wouldn't throw water on if they were on fire.

And through the school doors, smiling hugely, slightly sweaty and his hair damply tousled emerges The Boy. The teachers, over-seeing the home time handover, are grinning, other mothers are smiling. And I see my boy's uniform top in all it's awesome Before-The-Washing-Powder-That-Works-Miracles grubbiness exposed to the world.

You would think there were limits to just how appallingly dirty one small boy could GET a small yellow Aertex shirt while at a suburban school, but if there were, The Boy has clearly surpassed them. No mining, grubbing around in the earth for worms, or rugby match required.

One slice of chocolate cake in your lunchbox: Essential.

For this is, mostly, the devastation wreaked by a slice of chocolate cake.

"Did you actually eat any of it?" I inquired. Politely, for there were people who were watching.

And he had. The devastation wrought was from the debris ,and the really chocolately bit on the sleeve was where he'd wiped his mouth EVERY TIME HE TOOK A BITE. (I know this because one of his sleeve-tugging schoolfriends was eager to apprise me of the details).

One mother paused to sympathise about just how terrible boys were. And I'm sure she was only beaming at her own child sporting that bright, white shirt by accident. Of course I am.

The Boy didn't care though because his teacher had kindly awarded him a prize for his lunchtime endeavours. He, amid the mud, grubbiness and grime, proudly sported a sticker proclaiming; "I cleaned my plate" .....

......Which they're probably still laughing about in the staff room, occasionally pausing to gasp: "With his shirt."


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Gallery ... Picture Postcard

It's the 100th Gallery this week at Sticky Fingers and to celebrate the theme is Picture Postcard .....

MOST people might think of choosing a landscape when faced with this challenge, perhaps a landscape like this one...

... taken at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I like landscapes, I really do...

BUT of all the postcards that we ever send, almost every single one is a picture of a train *sigh* And so here is ...

...The Boy's favourite train (yes, he has a favourite train) and it was taken in his favourite place on a special day by his favourite person (that would be me, obvs).

Check out everyone else's postcards at The Gallery

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Teaching the Teacher

Teachers are wonderful. I admire teachers, I admire anyone who actively chooses to spend a large majority of their time with children and young adults. I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it.

But however wonderful a human being a teacher is, a teacher is STILL only a human being and something in the education system breaks just a tiny, little bit when a pupil finds this out.

When I was at school, it was when my English teacher marked a spelling wrong when I KNEW it was right and when I pointed it out, DIDN'T BELIEVE ME. She had to in the end of course, when I showed her it in the dictionary. Not the biggest teaching crime in the world ever, I admit, but over 30 years later and I haven't forgotten.

Because it's quite an unnerving moment when the teacher turns out to be the one who needs to be taught. TeenTwin 1 discovered that when, as part of preparation work for the Design and Technology GCSE, she was asked to design a charity box.

She designed one for Breast Cancer Awareness, a pink bra with the straps as handles and slots on the cups for donations. Sounds great?

Well, TeenTwin 1's teacher couldn't see the relevance of the bra, worried that it was pink and, all in all, they would have to discuss it because it wasn't, and I quote, "morally correct."

TeenTwin 1 has, at the age of 16, mastered the withering look of contempt and no doubt employed it fully as she explained the significance of the colour pink and the good old bra to Breast Cancer Awareness, but she was entirely baffled - as am I to be honest - why a pink bra collecting box would be morally wrong.

And so the DT teacher has sunk just that little bit lower in TeenTwin 1's estimation and with it her opinion of all her teachers (even the one who was on Britain's Top Model *sigh*) because, she's rather sadly realised, they don't know everything and they're not always right.

*sends Ms DT Teacher a Breast Cancer Awareness pack*

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Listography ... Top 5 Things I Love About Kids

I'm joining in with this week's Listography over at Kate Takes 5. The subject this week is Top 5 Things I Love About Kids ... not just my kids, but ALL kids soooo....

1. Their bottoms. 
Babies have genuinely lovely bottoms. There is NOTHING that warms the cockles of my heart more than watching a nappy clad bottom waggling about... though that might be because it reminds me of The Teletubbies and I did love the Teletubbies.
(Note: kids bottoms lose all elements of attractiveness from the age of nine when the kids suddenly believe farting is funny. Farting is not funny *tuts.*)

"Hurrah, somebody still loves us"

2.  Their excitement.
That eye-shining, smile-widening glow of excitement that engulfs anyone under the age of 12 on Christmas Eve, birthdays and special events. It's the thrill of anticipation unfettered by previous disappointment. It is tangible, touchable, huggable joy and it IS truly beautiful.
I draw the line at squealing though, excited squealing is alright if it's from a distance (another country preferably).

3. Their gullibility.
You can tell kids anything and they'll believe it. And I mean anything. I've still not forgiven the TeenTwins reception class teacher for informing them that I was not actually The Queen... it's only been 11 years though, so I'm sure I'll get over it in the end. *Grinds teeth*

4. Their fearlessness.
Kids just DO stuff. They don't think about it, agonise about it, worry about their clothes or the consequences. If it's a puddle, they jump in it. If it's a tree, they climb it. Walls are there to be walked on, hills to run up and down again and if it snows, you can bet your life that a kid will be flat on it's back in the garden making a snow angel before it's had time to settle and hide the cat poo. *Sigh*

5. Their love.
Kids love joyously, indiscriminately and without fear or favour. There are no barriers to a kid's love and affection ... boy, girl, melon, penguin or Dr Who, all are created equal. And that is EXACTLY how it should be. It matters not one jot if they're a 4 year old and you're the lollipop lady, that marriage proposal matters, damn you. 

Check out everyone else's entries at Listography

Silent Sunday

Friday, 18 May 2012

Drawing Blood in the Battle of the Sexes

I have blogged before about The Boy's passion for one particular Little Girl in his class. A Little Girl who, aged six, has already mastered the "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" theory of relationships.

She's an entirely dainty, pretty little pixie of a girl who has enchanted not just The Boy but most of his schoolmates too and so she plays them off against each other with a skill and panache which is, well, enviable to be honest. AND looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth while she's doing it.

But she has an, um, shall we call it "unpredictability" to her that means The Boy this week has twice on collection from school had what can only be called battle scars.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Being The Tooth Fairy ....

"And the winner of The Longest Serving Tooth Fairy Award IS.....

*drum roll*


*rapturous applause*

.....Sadly there isn't ACTUALLY a Tooth Fairy Long Service Award, but if there was one, I'd win it. Damn right.

Last night The Boy, aged 6, lost his first tooth to much excitement. But mostly his own because it appears that there IS a finite amount of times one can be genuinely excited by a tooth falling out of someone's head. And while he was strategically positioning his tissue-wrapped tooth under the pillow (for ease of Tooth Fairy access OBVIOUSLY), I realised I've been masquerading as The Tooth Fairy on a fairly regular basis for about 11 years far. If there was an actual Tooth Fairy, she would have had me up for stealing her identity YEARS ago.

I've already amassed, from the three girls, enough teeth to make a decent necklace and perhaps when The Boy has finished I might have enough for a bracelet too. Because what else do you do with children's teeth harvested from under pillows after midnight? You going to throw them in the bin? Are you? No, you're going to shove them in a box, in a drawer and pretend they're not there OR you're going to make a necklace. Maybe. Some time.

Though, apart from not knowing what to do with the teeth, the worse thing about being The Tooth Fairy for so long is customer service to be honest. Once upon a time, this particular Tooth Fairy took a pride in presentation. A tooth collected was rewarded with a proper fairy parcel. Not one, but two layers of wrapping! And ribbons tied in tiny bows. AND a teeny weeny label saying "Thank You, love The Tooth Fairy." And I POLISHED the pound coin prize within the parcel until it sparkled like gold. Sometimes there was glitter. *Sigh*

Eleven years on and last night ....

"Oh bugger, where's the wrapping paper?"

"Oh bugger, where's the scissors?"

"Oh bugger, where's the sellotape?" (Fact of life, #589 There is never any sellotape)


Eventually, at 12.49am, I shoved the shiniest pound coin (inflation being an entirely alien concept to Tooth Fairies) I could find, hastily wrapped in pink tissue paper and tied with purple wool, under The Boy's pillow with a brief prayer that his sisters wouldn't remark on how standards had dropped in Fairyland.

*Hands in wings*

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Prom Diaries...Pt 6.

Over two months to go to the Teen Twins eagerly anticipated Prom Night and it's all kicking off in Year 11 ... because it appears a Prom is NOT JUST about the dress, the limo and a sit down meal for 400 souls.

Of course there HAS to be a dress, a limo and a sit down meal for 400, BUT there was also going to be an after-party .... A party for after the Prom which I understood to be a bit of a party all on it's own anyway. But no. *Sigh* 

The "official" school-organised after-party has been abandoned since the school's chosen venue inconveniently shut it's doors and stopped taking calls a couple of months ago. An enterprising year 11 set up her own after-party, sold tickets then abandoned the idea causing *cough* some consternation. And now, not one, but two "official" after-parties are warring with each other for guests.

But that trauma is not a patch on the sudden scandal that has engulfed Year 11 after a member of the Prom Committee allegedly leaked information on a series of awards which were to be handed out at both the Prom and the after-party.

There was to be.... and so far still is..... a Prom Queen and King who will be crowned during the main event, but any further awards have been banned  by the school presumably not because "Top Siblings," "Cutest Couple," and "Cutest Smile" were too controversial but maybe because "Shortest Skirt," "Biggest Nose," and "Forever Alone" weren't exactly being made in the right spirit.

Last week the students were arranging who sat with who at which tables at the actual Prom, a process that involved handing out forms and letting a load of 15 and 16-year-olds pick the eight or ten people they wanted to share a table with.

If you've ever tried to table-plan a wedding, you might be able to imagine how difficult it is to seat your own relatives without offending someone, forgetting someone or getting into a fist-fight with someone. Add adolescents with hormones firing on all cylinders and I suspect the Principal was stood outside with a hard hat and sandbags.

But everyone is STILL eagerly anticipating The Prom .... just with teeth ever so slightly gritted.

*Thanks all deities I will NEVER be 16 again*

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Top 50 Things A Mother Should Do Before Your Child is 11 and Three Quarters

So, alright it's not a snappy title but in response to the National Trust's 50 Things To Do Before You're 11 and Three Quarters, it's the best I've got.

I've already helped out The National Trust once but now I have selflessly decided to expand their entirely fantastic bucket list idea so mothers all over the country can fulfill their own bucket lists too. Get your clipboards, a marker pen and get ready....



The Top 50 Things To Do Before Your Child is 11 and Three Quarters*

  1. Learn how to make salt dough
  2. Spend an existentialist half hour once a week wondering where all the socks go
  3. Forget to turn the bath off
  4. Forget to turn the bath on
  5. Go three days without food because you can't find time to eat any
  6. Papier mache a balloon
  7. Remove three hairclips and seven pieces of Lego from a washing machine filter
  8. Tolerate other people's children 
  9. Forget to look in a mirror for a week and a half
  10. Have a tantrum (Preferably in a supermarket)
  11. Spend 72 hours without sleep
  12. Learn to love gin
  13. Cry when someone mentions going on holiday
  14. Jump in a puddle
  15. Forget your own name
  16. Forget your husband/partner/significant other's name (This can sometimes have HILARIOUS consequences)
  17. Know the name of every CBeebies presenter
  18. Eat chocolate until you are sick
  19. Despair at advertising on TV
  20. Wonder how to remove nail varnish from the carpet
  21. Wear jeans EVERY day for two years
  22. And not notice
  23. Struggle down the street with an (almost) lifesize castle made out of cereal boxes
  24. Start blogging
  25. List "colouring in" as a skill on your CV
  26. Reach for a glass when you see a rash
  27. Go on a wine diet
  28. Wonder what happened to your breasts 
  29. Collect Disney's entire film oeuvre
  30. Visit A&E
  31. Get lost in a shopping mall
  32. Ride on a steam train
  33. Scream yourself hoarse
  34. Listen to five conversations at once
  35. Develop a crush on Dr Who
  36. Understand the life cycle of the headlouse
  37. Remove someone's ankle skin with a pushchair
  38. Know the name of EVERY Thomas the Tank Engine train (Beware: that's a LOT of trains)
  39. Cry in public
  40. Spit on a tissue 
  41. Feel guilty
  42. Understand "number chunking" (Anybody?)
  43. Unblock something (toilet, plughole, drain, child's nose
  44. Think about running away
  45. Bite your tongue
  46. Eat more chips than strictly necessary
  47. Bury a family pet 
  48. Develop 1,763 ways of saying "NO"
  49. Sneer at lycra
  50. Worry.
*in no particular order

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Totally Unexpurgated 50 Things To Do Before You're 11 and three quarters....

The National Trust has made a list... and not just any old list but a  bucket list of things children should do before they are 11 and three quarters. Presumably choosing 11 and three quarters as the average age girls discover black eyeliner and boys discover (their own) testicles and neither of them let go of either thing long enough to participate in such things as bucket lists.

And it's a bucket list that requires a sense of adventure, listing activities full of der-ring do and healthy, outdoorsy things like damning streams, making dens, catching butterflies and climbing trees. Admittedly it loses a little in impact featuring, as it does, an attendant list of downloadable PDF guides to making a den SAFELY and only catching butterflies that you're allowed to catch BY LAW.

It doesn't ACTUALLY say "And don't touch yellow snow" after "11: Throw Snow" but I bet there was a two hour discussion over whether it should or not. My personal favourite is "36: Call An Owl" which continues cheerfully: "Be Careful; Male owls (that you're impersonating) can be very aggressive especially when they are near the nest." Mysteriously any temptation I had to go out owl hooting has suddenly disappeared..

But perusing the National Trust's list which can be found here, there are 12 things missing which are reputedly revealed once you register on the site. Well, pfft, I thought it would be much more exciting to add a 12 things to do before you're 11 and three quarters of my own so there's no need to go faffing around on the internet when you could be out doing stuff .*Virtuous face*.....

*Roll of drums*

1. Play pooh sticks
    How could that NOT be on the list *tuts*

2. Draw over your entire body in felt tip pen

3. Eat a worm.

4. Get lost in a shopping mall.

5. Ride on a steam train.

6. Block a toilet
    Use a toilet roll, daddy's keys, mummy's phone .. the possibilities are endless.

7. Have a tantrum in the supermarket.

8. Post toast in a DVD player
9. Travel on a bus loudly commentating on traveller's ugliness/ weight issues.
    Don't forget to point so no one is in any doubt who you're talking about.

10. Use an ENTIRE bottle of bubble bath in the bath.

11. Build a Slug Hotel
    (TeenTwin 1 spent an entire summer when she was seven building a luxury hotel from dead tree     branches with, leaves for beds and pebbles for tables, that she entirely, and forcibly, populated with slugs, whether they liked it or not. What? It's not MY fault)

12. Eat chocolate until you are sick.

So there, I think that covers it all really for a happy full-rounded and adventurous life before you're 11 and three quarters. Though to be honest, I'd still give the owl hooting a miss.

My children do 18: Balance on a fallen tree and 22: Look inside a tree
Just saying...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Week in Tweets

Monday 23 April:

Getting The Boy to eat a whole bowl of spaghetti pasta by telling him it makes him look like an Ood #DrWhoParenting

Tuesday 24 April:

Isn't the piano a VERY expressive instrument. Currently the 10yo is playing the I Don't Want To Do This Bloody Piano Practice Blues #sulking

Wednesday 25 April:

6yo has developed a way of getting the TeenTwins to do anything he wants 'If you don't, I'll lick you ON THE FACE' #itworks #Imighttryit

Thursday 26 April:

I have nothing but admiration for Daughter1's revision methods*

*worries she's not normal.

Friday 27 April:

Daddy, on tour, rings home Daughter3 has left the room with the phone to talk to him #listofcomplaintsaMILElong

I wouldn't mind but he only left this morning #daddysgirl

Saturday 28 April:

It's been a close run thing but we've finally got more puddles inside the house than outside #bathtime

Sunday 29 April:

Hmm Today I COULD go watch a brass band play on the bandstand but I fear I have lost my diving suit and snorkel #rain #damnit

This is My Week in Tweets 

Check out everyone else's A Week in Tweets at Slummy Single Mummy's
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