Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday bits n bobs

Lidl today. I spent £74 and just need to buy some meat from the butchers. I bought 2 bunches of daffodils which will probably open by tomorrow and which are making me feel very spring like. I've put once bunch in my colourful jug on the dining table and the other bunch are in a vase on the windowsill.

Thomas' school had a 'Family Friday' this morning. Parents can go in for 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to see what work the children are doing. We did some maths together and Thomas showed me his day book. I gather these happen at least once every half term and think they're a really good idea. We then received a text from school to say he'd won an achievement award for his handwriting so went back in the afternoon for the presentation assembly.

Amy hasn't been in school today. It was the funeral of the teacher and her baby so school was closed. She was still up early though as the hearse was driving by school and all the pupils had been invited to meet outside so they could pay their respects. She said it was very sad but lovely at the same time. They let helium balloons go, threw flowers and clapped as she went by. Afterwards, she went with her friends and to the leisure centre for a swim which I was glad about. Back to normality and all that.

I made roast chicken for tea with roasted new potatoes and roasted butternut squash, sweet potato and broccoli - lots of roasting tonight. This is Mark's portion, not mine!
Then I went and had a coffee with Mum for an hour. She seems to be doing OK and although moving around is still a bit of a struggle she's getting there. 



Thursday, 16 January 2014

5 people

I'm reading this at the moment. I started on 1st January and it's a 'page a day book' but I'm only on page 11. It's one of those books where you it helps to be in the right frame of mind and in the right place mentally for it to mean anything, which I'm not really, but I'm giving it a go.

Today I read that I am  the average of the 5 people I spend the most time with. For me that would be Mark, Amy, Thomas, Mum and Mark's dad. Before you feel sorry for me and think I'm a Billy no mates, I do have plenty of friends and a handful of really good ones that could be called upon in an emergency. But family are the people I spend the most time with.
It starts off positive because age wise that makes me 43.6, slightly younger than I really am. However, it rapidly goes downhill. When I think about the 5 people I become a retired train driver (Mark's Dad) with a penchant for expensive watches, (Mark), while at the same time having an avid interest in frugality and an obsession with post-it notes, (Mum). I am also a pokemon expert. (Amy), and an x-box addict, (Thomas).

Emotion wise I have a laissez-faire attitude to life (Amy), plus a sensitive side (Thomas), and I love nothing better than a good moan, (woe betide anybody offering me a solution to any problems that I'm moaning about) - combination of the remaining three adults.

The book queries whether these are the 5 people you really want to surround yourself with and I have to say seeing the above in black and white I'm not really too sure. 

Maybe I should give some serious thought to the opening line!


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Cookery Lessons

Amy does one technology subject each term and this time it's food technology. Back in my day it was called domestic science.

She announced last night that the first dish she is going to make is pasta salad and could I please buy her some spiral pasta, a red pepper, tin of sweetcorn, a tomato and some cooked chicken. 

I'm not sure I'd call this cooking as all I can see them having to do is boil some water to cook the pasta. The rest of the ingredients just get chopped and thrown in.

I can still remember my first cookery lesson. We made fruit scones. It involved weighing, rubbing in, pouring, measuring (remember girls, the dough needs to be 1/4 inch deep), cutting and timing and was probably a lot more fun to do than make chicken pasta salad. You could also buy your basic ingredients from the teacher if you wanted which was an economical way of doing it. 

The total cost of the salad will be £3 - £1.99 for the chicken, 33p for a pepper, 33p for a tin of sweetcorn, 25p for the pasta and 10p for the tomato. 

The thought of eating something that has been prepared in a class full of 30 teenagers, which is then carried around in a bag for the rest of the day fills me with dread. But I will bravely rise to the challenge as my Mum and Dad did and declare it completely delicious.


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

More Tea Vicar

Well, the bedroom de-clutter is coming along nicely. It's taking longer than I thought so I don't think the painting will be done this week. I can't believe how much stuff got transferred from Thomas' room into ours over the 10 weeks Mum was with us.

Yesterday I threw another 4 bin bags of rubbish out. I have 2 bags for the charity shop and another load to go. There's a judo suit in here somewhere from one of Thomas' 'phases' a couple of years ago and a jack-in-a-box that Amy has had for years and has just decided to relinquish.

I spent an hour transferring clothes, sweeping, mopping, and cleaning a very dirty window frame and my reward was a little bit of reading and a cuppa. Mum bought me these as a thank you for having her. We watched 'Housewife, 49' together a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. The diaries are written by Nella Last and were part of the mass observation project.

This afternoon I went out for lunch with the Vicar. She's the most un-vicarish vicar when out socially and is very funny. There wasn't one discussion about the meaning of life, we were just 2 mums grabbing some time for ourselves and having a good natter. She bought herself a lovely jumper from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill section and I treated myself to a new scarf.
Needless to say I wasn't hungry and didn't feel like cooking when I got in so it was declared a fish & chip night.

I finished the day off with a little more reading, then watched Benefits Street. Soap operas might not interest me but when it comes to 'real' people I'm afraid I'm hooked.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Moving Out and Moving On

Mum moved back home today. She's been with us for nearly 10 weeks and I have mixed feelings about her going. Although it's nice for the 4 of us to have our house back, I'll miss her, especially in the evenings when I tend to sit with her just chatting about things.
Before Thomas moves back into his room, (he's been on a mattress by the side of our bed since Mum arrived), I'm going to take the opportunity of giving it a thorough clean, a de-clutter and a lick of paint. He did this months ago and when I asked him why he'd written on the wall his reply was quite simple "because it's my name and it's my bedroom" in an 'isn't it obvious Mum' type of voice.
There will be no major changes decoration wise, the football border will stay and I'll just give the walls another coat of blue and white. Like many boys and girls he's really into an x-box game called Minecraft, so I've ordered this poster off e-bay for him.

It's a project that I'm giving myself a week to complete starting tomorrow. First up will be the de-clutter, the main priority being getting his Christmas presents out of our wardrobe and into his.
I already have a couple of things put to one side for the charity shop and I'm sure by the end of the week there will be more.
Not sure the watercolour will get started this week, but maybe I'll find an hour somewhere.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Life is very precious

Amy was sent home from school yesterday. All the pupils were. They were gathered in the playground mid-morning under the pretext of a fire practise, where they were told one of the teachers who had been taken ill at school the day before, had died suddenly. She was 37 weeks pregnant and the baby sadly died as well. 

She was only 35 and leaves a husband and a young daughter aged 3 behind.

Another reminder of how lucky I am and how precious life is.


Thursday, 9 January 2014


I don't usually make New Years Resolutions and certainly gave up the 'less chocolate, more salad' type many years ago. Failure never did make me feel good.

I did make 2 this year though. One was to try and find some sort of voluntary work to do and the other was to paint a watercolour. I borrowed these books off Mum and although I think it might take me longer than a weekend, I'm determined to produce something this year.

I've sorted the voluntary work out already though. To be honest it pretty much landed in my lap and is right up my street. Thomas' new school sent out a text last night asking for parents to go in and listen to children read.

I know from experience that there's not much take up, if any, when these sort of requests are made. At Thomas' last school there were 209 pupils and we had one Grandma reply to a similar request. When Amy was in Year 1 her school also sent out a letter and from 130 pupils I was the only parent who responded. Maybe because I had the time, no work commitments, no young children to look after and a real love for working with children. 

This was Amy's primary school. Situated right behind our house, in their wisdom the council closed it down 7 years ago and sold the land to a property developer. The school had only been completely rebuilt 20+ years ago after a fire and was the most modern school in the area. However, numbers were too low and land in the area commands good prices. All rather ironic really as there are plenty of young families in the houses and primary school places are pretty scarce in Middleton these days.  
Anyway, I would go in every week for 2 afternoons and listen to the girls one day and the boys the other. I think reading with your child is so important but from the lack of entries in the reading logs it was obvious that for whatever reason, many parents didn't. It was also obvious that some teachers didn't always get around to hearing children read very often either. So I like to think my couple of hours each afternoon actually helped and made a difference.
Anyway, I've booked myself in for two mornings per week. It'll be something for me to do and although I was more than ready to leave my office job at school, I really miss working with children. 

So, there's only the painting left to sort out now and I think that will be a lot harder. I have the materials ready, courtesy of mum, and although I'm definitely no artist I really want to have painted a decent field of poppies and a blossom tree by the end of 2014. I'll keep you posted on my progress and if you promise not to laugh will share my attempts with you.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Avon Calling

My Avon order arrived today. I bought an everyday perfume and some shower gel.
The typical Avon lady who used to ding dong that bell many years ago has certainly changed. 
My Avon lady is actually a 50+ man, who has about 6 teeth in his head, very little hair and wears a yellow fluorescent jacket. He takes his job very seriously though and is really nice and I have a lot of respect for him. He's very well known around here and wouldn't be able to hold down a 'normal' job but he does like to have a little job on the go. I always buy a little bit of something from him and I know a couple of neighbours do the same. I think he does quite well actually. He's always wandering up and down the streets delivering his orders.

Anyway, when he knocked on the door I was upstairs and shouted down to Mark that I didn't have any cash on me and could he pay. Thomas must have overheard because within 5 minutes he came into my bedroom carrying his piggy bank his Aunty had given him for Christmas, stuffed full of his Christmas money.

"Mum" he said "don't worry about not having any money, here's £10, I'll buy your perfume for you". He looked so grown up and pleased to be doing this that I knew it would be wrong to say anything other than "Thank you Thomas, that's really kind of you". He then gave me a great big hug and a kiss and told me he loved me.
Now, how sweet was that? I can only hope our mother and son bond will always be as special.

And I shall of course slip the £10 back when he's not looking.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Feeling Grotty

I've got a cough and a cold and I'm feeling pretty grotty. The cough is driving me and everybody else in the house nuts. 

I spent most of Wednesday night propped up in bed trying to get a decent breath of air into my lungs. 

Having done the usual 'let's see how quickly I can kill myself off' google search and confirming what I suspected, that a lot of coughing can put strain on the heart and that gulping for air is not a good sign, I rang the GP first thing Thursday and got an appointment.

The Doctor is relatively new to the surgery and looks very young - a sure sign that I'm getting older. She looked pretty shocked to learn I'd had a heart attack but like a true veteran of life I waved her young whipper-snapper surprise away with a mature, grown-up, at my age you've seen it all, that's life kind of attitude.

I did need her expertise with the stethoscope though and I'm pleased to say my heart sounds good, there doesn't appear to be any infection, but my airways are very tight. 

I came away 5 days worth of steroids - I take 6 each day and a bottle of amoxycillin tablets with the instructions to only take them if I feel I'm getting worse. I must have a look about me regarding my knowledge of chest infections because over the years this is the third time I've been casually handed antibiotics and told to take them if I think I need them.

We were supposed to be going to Nutters Restaurant tonight for a meal, but I'm really not up to it. It's such a lovely place and a real treat to go there that it seems a shame to waste a good night out when I'm not feeling up to par.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! 

Our New Years Eve's are very understated these days. Long gone are the days when we've both crawled through the door at 3am in the morning covered in silly string! It's purely home entertainment for us now. 

To celebrate the arrival of 2014 Amy & Thomas wanted hot dogs and fireworks. Mark was very obliging but had to light the fire to try to keep warm. 

Then they wanted a game of Beat the Parents which Father Christmas left for us all, which we played while scoffing chocolates and maltesers.               
Then we watched Gary - Mum has a bit of thing for him.      

And Alfie Boe - who Mum has even more of a thing for!
On the first bong of Big Ben I'm not ashamed to admit I went into the back garden and showed my naked bottom to 2013 which the kids thought was hilarious.

We then watched the fireworks in London and joined hands to sing Auld Lang Syne. And of course no New Year celebration is complete without a party popper or two.

I've had a couple of 'this time last year moments' throughout the day, but I'm very thankful to report that so far New Year's Day has been completely uneventful even though I'm feeling a bit grotty with a cough and cold.

Hope 2014 is a good one for all of you.