Saturday, 30 October 2010

Mrs Bean does Hallowe'en

Sadly one of the things I seem to have inheritted from my family is the "Mr Bean" gene. We walk into lamposts, walk into doors and slam into people carrying dips. Today my contribution to society was to give most of the people at Tesco's garage a good chuckle.
Yesterday I had to pop into work, I took Ciaran in with me, sent out an agenda and headed home. On the way the low petrol light came on and I decided that I would get the kids home safely and then head out in the evening to fill up. Obviously I forgot to go out and get petrol.

This afternoon the kids and I got dressed, me in a long black and red number, possibly the Bride of Dracula - who knows, Ciaran as a spider and Ben as a bat. We then piled into the car to start our trick or treating at my parent's house. Drat - the red light was still on and the petrol would now be really low.

There was no choice but to fill up, so I decided to go to use a pay at pump machine. That way the boys would be watched by me at all time and I would not have to walk inside the kiosk dressed up as a vampiress. I pulled up at the the pump, steeled myself for the embaressment of filling up in fancy dress and got out the car.

The first pump had a big sign on it saying to pay at the kiosk - to the suprise of the people standing around and filling up their cars, I ducked back into the car. There was no way I could queue up to pay. Then the car to my left side finished up and there was a space at a pump where the pay machine was working, problem solved! Sadly not...

My driving is not the best. I decided to reverse up and then pull forward into the space and managed to wedge the wheels hard against the pump. Blushing I pulled forward and decided to head forward and then reverse up to the pump. After four goes of heading back and forward I was finally vaguely near the pump. Now most people would stare at such comicly bad driving, but to follow it up by being in fancy dress was just too much. I kept my eyes on the pump and left with ten pounds worth of petrol instead of the full tank I had planned to get.

Thankfully the children are too young to be embaressed by their parents (for now at least) and enjoyed an evening of showing off their costumes, watching their Daddy light the pumpkin, getting fruit and sweeties and then bobbing for apples with me and hubby.

Ben has a good bobbing technique, he gets the stalk between his teeth rather than sticking his head in the water to get a good bite on the apple; Ciaran (bless him) tried to have a go but accepted the substitute of me holding a wet apple up to his face; when it was my go Ben decided to help me by pushing my head down a bit further while warning me not to get my hair wet.

We've got some scary food to eat tomorrow, so far I've made brain balls (popcorn stuck together with marshmallows and green colouring) and jelly filled oranges with jack o lantern faces cut in them. Having never done Hallowe'en before I am suprised by how fulfilling it is to see the kids having fun and to get a bit crazy and creative.

Happy and safe Hallowe'en to everyone.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Cough, splutter and scream - hallowe'en preparations.

Last week I was working late a lot and didn't get to pick the boys up from Nursery. DH and my Mum had that honour and Hubby told casually told me on Friday that Ciaran needed wear a hallowe'en costume on Thursday (this is a massive improvement on the time I got out of hospital on Tuesday to discover that Ben needed to be dressed as his favourite character from a book on Thursday). I decided that my ability to make a costume was somewhat lacking (last time, after much soul searching I cut a piece of felt, attached a gold ribbon (a riding cloak of course) and made Ben a crown - he was told he was Prince Charming, but even he didn't believe it) and that Mr Tesco would be welcome to dress my tots.

As a child I didn't do hallowe'en. Our school made it clear that it was not acceptable practice to knock on peoples doors demanding sweets. In the intervening years the disneyfication of England has advanced and now it is normal for children to be dressed up in expensive clothes and go trick or treating, and this year I've agreed to take the boys trick or treating. My only nod to my old Headmistress' instructions is that my boys and I will trick or treat only at houses we've already warned (neighbour, cousin, parents!)

As hubby is swotting hard for a PRINCE2 course, my Mum and I took the kids for a pleasurable trip to Tesco in Kingston. Well, it would be pleasurable if I haven't got a lovely cough and cold from the darlings and kept panting and wheezing like an old miner and if I didn't have a child going through 'that' stage of development.

Having finished the terrible twos and come to the end of the toddler book I stupidly thought I was home and dry. Sadly no. My 3 year old is proving his independance by refusing to do what ever we suggest. Food is rejected, and he hated every costume we showed him in Tesco. Eventually at the end of my tether (not a very long one I'm afraid) and slightly dizzy from all the panting I decided he would be a bat and like it and paid for a bat costume, a baby spider costume and a witch / lady vampire costume for me to accompany the children in.

Shaken by the nightmare of getting a very angry child around Tesco's we quickly romped into Clarkes - measure the feet, show us the shoes, Ben has the ultimate choice in shoes and his word is final - and then to Marks before going home where I spent to the rest of the afternoon being shouted at.

Friday, 22 October 2010

My lazy Friday.

I don't work Fridays. I've agreed that normally I'll work Monday - Thursday lunchtime. That gives me Thursday afternoon to do housework while the kids are at nursery or to catch up on extra work that I really need to do. Some weeks I have a Thursday evening or afternoon meeting but Fridays are always free.

Just me, chilling at home with two toddlers.

Yeah, yeah - Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth would it?
 Today I initially decided that I was too poorly with a rotten cough and cold to do more than the bare minimum; hoovering and laundry could wait. Then it dawned on me - maybe I'd feel worst over the weekend and then have to slog through the housework whilst really ill. So after the kids had been fed gallons of porridge I got my first wash load on. I agreed to make a cake with the boys, a nice hands on activity and set a bowl of dried fruit to soak in tea. I drank my first cup of tea and started operation tidy the lounge.

Then I popped a couple of chicken breasts into the oven to cook so I could add them to a paella and soup later. I Found a couple of healthy kiddie lunchs in the freezer (tuna sweetcorn and pasta bake for Ciaran, turkey and carrot burgers for Ben). While these defrosted I scrubbed, dusted and polished the lounge then hoovered so that the carpet no longer felt like Brighton Beach, I loaded the dishwasher and got it going the first wash load hung out on the line with the second load in the machine. After unloading the dishwasher I helped the boys make their Ginger and Fruit Tea Loaf and popped it into the oven to bake and had a well deserved second cup of tea and a very late breakfast / brunch of bacon omlette (shared with Ciaran who has a seemingly endless capacity to eat food).

I put the kids lunchs in the oven to cook (normally seperate meals are a big no-no but Ben hates tuna pasta bake), broke up a fight, sent Ciaran to the naughty corner for one minute for continually laughing and standing on the sofa when ever I told him to sit down, sent Ben to the naughty corner for three minutes for kicking Ciaran and refusing to say sorry because he "doesn't like Ciaran anymore"; coaxed a very grudging apology from Ben and served kiddie lunch.

Give me some more food NOW!
 The I fed Ciaran a huge portion of tuna and pasta bake and tried to ignore Ben sulkily refusing to sit down to eat his turkey burger until my Mum (who'd popped in for a chat and cuppa) got bored of waiting for him to remember his manners and got him to the table. I stupidly concocted a story about Scooby Doo wanting to eat Ben's burgers and then had to keep rushing to the door or window to send Scooby Doo away (when will I learn - these innocent stories always backfire!). Fed myself, the boys and my Mum tea loaf with cup of tea number 3.

Ciaran is currently napping, Ben is engrossed in the adventures of the Imagination Movers so I have a little Mummy time. I had planned to blog from my iphone on the sofa, but my technical expertise is not quite enough to allow me to log into the app - let alone use it!

If you told me this was how I would spend days off before I had kids I would have been horrified! I keep reminding myself that in 12 years time with two teenage sons I will look back at these Fridays with rose tinted glasses and at least now they'll still let me cuddle them when they are in a good mood - I somehow doubt that teenage Ben and Ciaran will apologise with a cuddle and tell me that I am "the best Mummy in the whole big world that I ever saw before".

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Who am I?

Hello to anyone who has found me here - I used to be the tired Mummy at but I decided that I needed a fresh start with blogging and have moved house to get some inspiration and drive going again. A quick update for anyone who doesn't know me:

I had my first child (Ben) in 2007, I went back to work and quickly got pregnant again. Son number 2 (Ciaran) came along in 2009 (exactly two months before Ben's second Birthday) so I can proudly say I survived the two under two stage. I decided that I couldn't face going back to work after all the changes that had been made while I'd been away and jacked in an exciting career as a school appeals clerk to be a stay at home Mum. Two months later I wondered if I had made a terrible mistake and whether I would ever walk around Tescos without being terrified of overspending again; at this point a lovely friend who I worked with before I had Ben and Ciaran became the Committee Services Manager at one of the new councils created in our area, she needed someone to come for 6 months and help with Committee work - woo hoo! Back in the world of work without having to search for a job.

As my contract was drawing to an end I started applying for jobs. Summer of 2010 was not a good time to be looking for a new job in the public sector and I went for three jobs; one paid a lot less than I got at the Council, the second was a little less than I got at the Council and the third was a long shot that would pay me more money and allow me to work less hours (it was one of those jobs that you would kick yourself for not at least trying). I gritted my teeth and went to my first interview as an administrator in a local Uni. The salary was low, it had to be full time (no room for negotiation as the previous postholder was leaving as they couldn't accomodate her being a part timer) and I would have to move the kids to a cheaper nursery. I went to the interview: I made a good connection with the people, talked about my experience of setting up admin systems and completely failed to get the job. They interviewed 8 people and had around 50 applications.

I can't say I wasn't scared. We were talking about an 8K drop in my full time salary and I still couldn't get the job. The next interview was for the dream job. Not a hope in hell. I went along (wearing my favourite Betty Jackson Black dress) smiled and talked and left thinking that it was the kind of job I would love but it was probably out of my league. Full time motherhood and shelf stacking in the evenings beckoned. We talked about me seeing if I could get some work as a teaching assistant at a local school, if it was just a couple of mornings a week my Mum would look after the boys. Sadly I wasn't even able to do that. I had not done a term or so of voluntary experience. This was looking bleak...

Then I got the phone call I didn't expect. I was about the leave the house for interview number 3 when I was offered my dream job. I am now Clerk to the Corporation for a local College. Despite 5 years committee experience in local government it's a steep learning curve. In the past if I thought a standing order or governance procedure should be changed I suggested it to my boss, who discussed it with her boss and the Assistant Director. Now I had sole responsibility for this and was expected to be the one who told Directors that no - they couldn't legally do it that way, they had to get Board permission first and it would have to be at a proper board meeting - no wooly email permission thank you very much!

I started a month ago and am learning fast. I'm getting to grips with the law around the FE area but learning to behave in a more senior way is going to take me a while. I am a 0.7 FTE (ha ha ha) and in theory do 26 hours a week (cynical laugh). This week I've put in 34 hours and will be working over the weekend. However, I like hard work, would hate to be twiddling my thumbs and in the current economic climate am just pleased to have a job.

Child care is marvellously sorted - two days with my Mum, two days at the marvellous Fordfield at Ruxox nursery and Fridays with me. My husband works full time in local government as a sustainable transport officer (no I don't know what it means but it sounds complicated) and is recovering from the shock of having to deal with hyper, over tired kids after nursery when I have late meetings.

In a year we've gone from agreeing to me jacking in my career to be a stay at home Mum to trying to fit kids and our lives around both of us now having challenging careers and challenging children - can we do it without going nuts? Can DH cope with all the studying he's doing at work and the dreaded cuts? Can I lose the stress induced spare tyre I'm carrying (even Betty Jackson can't quite hide it!) let alone get back to goal weight? Can I get through a week without appearing to be a airhead at work? Will I ever get together enough to take Ben out of a nappy at night and will Ciaran ever stop laughing at being told off? Stay with me and we'll find out...

PS - If you want to read old history and lot of baby led weaning stuff hop over to my old blog and trawl through the archives!