Monday, 30 September 2013

DIY health check

Today started with a BP reading which was good. I bought this monitor last week and I take a reading in the morning and at night. BP readings aren't automatically an indicator of having heart disease or of not having heart disease, but after my heart attack an unusually high/low reading would set alarm bells ringing. It gives me peace of mind and for £40 it's worth every penny.
I then weighed myself which wasn't as good. I'm back to 11st111/4 lbs. I wish I'd taken photographic evidence of last week's weigh in as I was 11st91/4lbs. Maybe it's just that time of month where gaining a couple of extra pounds is normal. Can you see that fluff in the corner? Time to sweep the floor I think!
This mini DIY health check was followed by some house cleaning. Downstairs got the full works today. Dusting, hoovering, sweeping and mopping. I always start by doing a sweep of the surfaces in the rooms and anything that should be somewhere else gets dumped on the table. As you can see there's quite a range of things that Amy & Thomas have left lying around over the weekend. From the table it gets dumped on the stairs and it can be there an hour or a week depending on whether I can be bothered to take it up and sort it out.
I've not been on the treadmill lately but I have been walking the dog for 20-30 minutes every night. It's a routine both me and him have got into quite easily and as well as getting the exercise, I'm finding it a good time to think things through. Fresh air - you really can't beat it.

We went to my sister-in-laws 40th at the weekend. It was held in a local pub and we had a really good time. We only managed to stay til 10pm but according to her facebook updates the party went on til 3am. Me & Mark went for a drink the following day and the landlady asked us to return some things they'd left. We were handed some photos, some bunting and a nipple tassel! Now, I really can't help wishing I'd had the stamina to stay and see that part of the evening.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

It's Not Bullying

I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I've posted on my blog. Daily events have taken over having the energy or inclination to spend even 10 minutes posting what I've been up to.

I've been well in myself, but we've had a few incidents at school with Thomas which have taken up our time emotionally and mentally and which have left me feeling angry, upset and drained.

There's been an incident at swimming lessons, a playtime incident where a skipping rope was put around his neck and he was dragged to the floor and a lunchtime incident which resulted in the child involved receiving dinner time exclusions - but only at our insistence.

Last Monday, Thomas was happily playing with his friend when a child in his class came up to him and started kicking him. After Thomas asked the dinner lady for help who told the child to stop kicking, as soon as she walked away, he started kicking Thomas again. It was only when Thomas got home that we found out about this. No letter, no phone call, nothing from school even though the dinner lady had intervened and Thomas told his class teacher.

So, we asked for a meeting, although only Mark went, (after listening to Thomas crying all night and being frightened to go back to school, I was too upset and angry to go). Mark's an ex-Governor and the school's leadership is very weak. At the meeting they were at great pains to use the word 'game' and 'bullying'. A bullying accusation is great for a school. They have loads of policies, procedures, processes, clubs and support for children who are bullied. And it's a word parents and teachers alike are quick to use. It is actually a great get-out clause for them.  

However, I've worked in school and Mark knows his stuff and we weren't going down the bullying route. Mark quoted their behaviour policy to them and had them tied up in knots within 10 minutes. This wasn't a game and it wasn't bullying, it was an unprovoked attack. So we Hit Them Hard and went for Assault. They couldn't do anything but agree and the punishment went from a paltry 10 minutes lost play to dinnertime exclusion.

They even had the cheek to ask Mark what he thought should be in the policy!

So, it's not been a good start to the school year for Thomas or us. All incidents were by different children so it's not just one child focusing on Thomas. Unfortunately, he just seems to have been on the receiving end of other pupil's bad behaviour. 

He's still a popular boy, (although I don't think we're popular parents anymore), and has a small but close group of friends, both boys and girls, which is good to know. 

Hopefully no-one who reads this will come across this type of behaviour towards their child, but honestly, if you ever do, think before you accuse of bullying. It's such an easy get out clause for schools. Hit them hard instead, look at their behaviour policy and go for assault. You'll see the panic in their faces.

Hopefully we've sent a message to school and to the child and things might settle down now. But who knows?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A New Family Member

Meet Ginny the hamster. She belongs to Thomas and is his first ever 'pet of his own'.
We've had a hamster before. Hannah, who after a year and a trip to the vet because there seemed to be growths, became Harry. She/He was a cute little thing and lived for 3 years. That's some going for a hamster I'm told.

Anyway, Thomas has been pestering for his own pet for a while now. He really wanted a puppy but was happy to have a hamster, until he saw a beareded dragon at the pet shop and decided that was what he wanted. Thankfully, with a bit of gentle persuasion we managed to get him back on track for a hamster.           
Mark's job was to make the cage, which wasn't quite as easy as we'd been told it would be. But it looks pretty spectactular doesn't it. Hamster accommodation has obviously improved since we had Hannah/Harry.
Meanwhile Ginny had a roll around the floor in her ball. Then we all had a little cuddle. Before putting her to bed.

Thomas has fed her, filled her water bottle, and made her bed. He's also managed to spill the entire bag of  hamster food on the floor. And Breathe!!

No doubt I shall become surrogate mother within a week or two. But secretly, I don't mind. She's a cute little thing and I'm glad we've got her.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

No Riff Raff Please

We went to The Lowry last night to the 'Faulty Towers Dining Experience'.  It was everything we expected and worse!  The whole 'show' revolves around you as diners in the restaurant while Basil, Sybil and Manuel lurch from one disaster to another.
We started off by all having drinks in the bar waiting to be seated. Manuel then appears to clean the tables followed by Basil and Sybil who instruct him to collect glasses and hand out nuts. The show has started!

Shown to your seats in a somewhat chaotic manner, bread rolls are thrown at you to catch, butter is dumped on the table for you to pass around and garnish for the soup is flung into your bowl from a dizzy height.
Of course, the soup has false teeth in it, some people don't get any at all and you can be halfway through eating it when it's taken from you. 

The main course was chicken but vegetarianisms (as Sybil calls them) received a carrot, potato and a pepper - all uncooked.

There is a fire alarm practice, the siberian hamster escapes from it's cage, Manuel is on the receiving end of many a slap, and Sybil sings happy birthday to the 'unlucky' ones, covering every octave known and a few more!   
Both Mark and I ended up on the receiving end of Basil, I had the fire extinguisher left in front of me as the set up for a sketch and Mark was pulled up for holding his fork the wrong way.   
Mark is a real fan of Fawlty Towers, I know it but not that well and was a bit dubious about going, especially on our own and not in a group. But it was a fantastic night out. It's not often I recommend anything but honestly, if you ever get the chance to go, you really should.

Oh, and take your camera. I didn't so I've had to use web images, but people were flashing away all night, definitely a missed opportunity by me.

And finally, everybody actually receives a meal and very nice it was too.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Last Day of the Summer Hols

In some ways it seems ages since 'it was the first day of the summer hols' and in others it seems to have been never ending.

We've had some lovely weather this year.

We've sunned ourselves in the back garden.
And spent plenty of days in the park.
We've gone on some lovely walks by the canal
Stopping for lunch at an old favourite
We've been to Sorrento
The Cotswolds
And Chester
We all went to a Mad Hatter's Tea Party
And Amy went to camp
We've baked
Ridden bikes
And visited donkeys

We've all had a lovely time. But Amy & Thomas both say they're ready to go back to school now. And I have to admit I'm ready for them to go.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Spending Diary

I've decided to keep one of these this month as I've had to face the fact that I have absolutely no idea where my money goes.

I have 'spends' each month and it's not an amount to be sniffed at, but since giving up work in December the only things I can think of that I have bought are: a new scarf,  a big bag of wool from Hobbycraft, a couple of meals and coffee mornings out with the girls and 3 hairdressing appts, (wash & trims @ £12 each). Apart from that it just all seems to have disappeared. 

I think my biggest vice is buying stuff for the kids or loaning them money which they are supposed to repay me from their savings but never do. 

So this month, I've decided to keep a spending diary to see where it goes.

I'm an avid reader of moneysavingexpert and I know a lot of people on there do this and also have NSD's (No Spend Days). I can honestly say I have plenty of these, but I must make up for them when I do open my purse!

So today, I've bought myself a small notebook and I shall make a daily note of what I've spent. Hopefully there will be a few NSD's in there as well, because it actually makes me feel a bit sick every month when there's hardly anything left in my purse.

I'm pleased to report that 2 days into this venture the only money I have spent is £1.30 at Thomas' bedroom sale yesterday! 

Does anybody else keep a spending diary? Or worse, like me have no idea where their money actually goes?


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bedroom Sale

Thomas decided to have a bedroom sale today. He spent an hour deciding what he wanted to sell, setting up the stall, (his shelves), and writing price lists. Then 'Tommy's Wonder Shop' was opened for business. 

He'd got it all sorted out in his head. There was a tips box for good service. Carrier bags were 5p. And for every £1 he made he was going to donate 10p to the water charity. 
There were lots of goodies to choose from.
And this is what I bought - total cost £1.30. I'm sure at some point I'll be glad I own a smurf!

Mark put his hand in his pocket and paid 50p for this little lot.
Here he is with his money jar.
And because everybody likes to play shop, he employed Amy as a sales assistant for 50p per hour.
We've done a few car boot sales in the past and if they didn't start so early, I'd take him to do one. He likes earning money and I think he'd really enjoy it. 

Another money making scheme of his is on family DVD nights. He sets up a drinks and sweets counter on the ironing board.

His choice of products is quite random. We've had popcorn, crisps, biscuits, fruit and jam butties in the past. He employs Amy to make the hot drinks.

I love it when he does this. He spends ages setting it all up, deciding his prices and designing posters, but it has to be a film we're not too bothered about watching because intervals are every 15 minutes. 

By the end of the night I'm usually skint and hiding food down the back of the settee so as not to offend him.

The shop has been open all day, and we've all made several trips to it. My purse is a fair bit lighter than it was, but you can't beat good old-fashioned play can you.