Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Very Merry Christmas

We're safely arrived and unpacked at Glingle's house. Ellie is fast asleep in her 'holiday' bed having been told that Santa will not leave any presents if you are awake and see him. The mince pie, sherry and carrot are waiting by the fireside ready for Santa and Rudolf. And I'm about to settle down by the real coal fire (which is, of course, warming the chimney so Santa doesn't get too cold) and drink mulled wine. It's shaping up to be an excellent Christmas.

Wishing you all much happiness and joy.

Monday, December 11, 2006


A new store opened in York this weekend. We came across the advert for it by chance at midday on the Saturday - its first day of trading. The advert promised furniture, soft furnishings, toys, Christmas decorations and craft stuff - along with free face painting and balloon modelling. How could we miss it?
There was a Santa who Ellie would not go near at first. An robotic singing and dancing reindeer. Free balloons. And face painting. Ellie waited for 15 mins for her turn. Then sat completely still whilst she was transformed into a ladybird (which she had requested). With her new face she also found new courage and actually spoke to Santa, as well as taking the sweet he offered.
It was a great time (and didn't cost anything!). We may need to purchase some face paints in the future however as Ellie has constantly since asked "what happened to my face?" " Can we go to the shop and paint my face again tomorrow?".
So you want to see a picture? Of course you do. (There was more paint around the mouth originally, but if Santa will give out toffees...)

Doesn't she look happy?!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

rubber band art

You may remember I posted a little while ago, promising photos of Ellie's art from rubber bands. Well here are a couple she created today. For a two and a half year old, I think they are pretty good. One is a rabbit. The other is called Mr Cools (or is it Koolz? I forgot to check the spelling?!). Ellie was particularly proud of his tummy and hair.
Ellie devised this art technique all herself - and it is also recyclable and costs nothing...!


No, it's not another 'endings' post. I'm trying to move on from that!

In our bedroom, there are two big windows (the only ones in the house which aren't double glazed). These windows have full length curtains (in a just about Ok pattern). However, they have annoyed me (in a 'oh' every morning way, but not in a 'must do something about it right now' kind of way since we moved in 3 years ago). Initially, I placed my annoyance on the fact that they were supposed to close by pulling a cord to the side. But the cord had snapped, which meant that you had to pull them closed. Not a problem by itself, except that the 'cord' mechanism always led to them sticking/tangling, so it was more of a wrestle than a pull. Eventually, I removed all the cord, but it wasn't really any better until Paul removed the mechanical bits too.

Then I realised I also had two other gripes. But bear with me, this does have a happy ending... They always gape at the top, which looks really untidy from outside - and inside, but I rarely noticed that due to being asleep. Outside, however, I noticed every time I approached our house. The other gripe is that being full length they cover the two radiators under the windows.
Very effectively channelling all the heat straight up to escape from the draughty windows - making our room a very effective fridge. Which has led to us tucking the curtains up on the window ledge, making it look more untidy than ever.

But yesterday, my mother and my sister and father visited with the sewing machine, energy, patience and curtain shortening skill. My sister pressed, my mother sewed and my dad hung the curtains. (I just played with Ellie... sorry folks!) The curtains now beautifully rest just behind the top of the radiators. And as a throwaway comment my mother mentioned I should get round to gathering the top of the curtains.

How could I not have realised that the horrible gaping (which was in fact the MOST irritating thing) was simply because they'd not been fitted to the window width? I suspect that Paul's comment that my irritation had blinded me from actually really seeing the curtains is very true. Anyway, today we gathered the curtains.

They now hang beautifully- our bedroom is effectively transformed.
I know this is a long post about a domestic triviality, but really, it has made such a difference!!!

(If the pattern was a bit nicer, I'd post a picture of them!)

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Well, somehow, it seems to have been a few posts since I've written about Ellie. That surely needs addressing!!

This week has been difficult. I think Ellie has started to realise that I am around less (due to working more). There have been tears at nursery on a morning. There have been refusals to let go of my legs, and my work bag mysteriously returning itself to the cupboard. It's been very hard for me. And it's taken most of my "mummy skills" to see past that and realise that its even harder for her.

Yet, the mornings have also had their happier moments. Last week, out shopping, Ellie tried to persuade me to buy Coco Pops instead of weetabix. As they both come in supercheap own brand varieties, and of course because I wish to promote her making choices and becoming more independent, I agreed. Ellie has chosen coco pops every morning for breakfast. Now as she is getting older and more independent, but still wakes at 5am we have developed a habit of setting her up with breakfast in front of a DVD and hopping back into bed. (As a parenting strategy I'm a bit mixed about this. I think it is 'slack' parenting, which I'd wish to avoid. On the other hand, I function much better with the extra sleep. Which currently is vital to get through the bedtime routine with a toddler who is exhausted from nursery, whilst I am also exhausted from work. The jury is still out, and in the meantime it's what I do.)

Ellie, once upon a time - not so very long ago, would have finished her cereal and shouted for attention. This week she has instead gone to the cereal cupboard, co-incidentally the only one in the kitchen that is not child locked, carefully removed the clip from the container, poured herself more coco pops, placed the clip and container back in the cupboard and taken the cereal back to her table. She started the week by also trying to get the milk from the fridge (using her step to reach the handle), but has found that the fridge door is just impossible to open. She alternates solutions for this 1) shout for mummy or daddy to get milk 2) just eat it dry.

Ok, so there are a few split and trampled coco pops on the kitchen floor - but how can you criticise such determination...?

NaBloPoMo - more ending!

It's well and truly over. I failed to post every day. I think I have good reasons - too much happening in my home life, including a new job and a holiday, combined with a dodgy broadband for the first three weeks of the month. Still, I'm a little sad that I failed to achieve something I set out to do. It would have been much worse, however, if I had achieved posting everyday and neglected other areas of my life which have all been in upheaval this month.

Yet, despite not achieving a post each day - there have been real upsides for me. It has made me more dedicated to my blog, and that in turn has led me to realise the postive impact that blogging has on me. And the NaBloPoMo randomiser, whilst I have merely dabbled, was an inspiration - leading me to blogs I might never have come across otherwise. Some blogs merely convinced me that I prefered my own style, other blogs provided a model for me to aspire to. Very few (if any?) left me untouched in some way. The randomiser was like attending some big fundraiser and finding yourself surrounded by people you didn't know, and with whom you weren't initially sure what you had in common. But unlike the real life version, which would have me frantically downing my drink and grabbing my coat - the blog version had people easily and openly telling me about their life, thoughts and ideas and even coming over to talk to me.

I may not have done what I set out to do, but I have really enjoyed the experience.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Endings (temporary)

So, I've got a replacement for my post - in a couple of weeks I'll have fully switched from my current post to my secondment. As you may have noticed in my last post, although I claim on job applications to be very good at managing change (and I am!) I have to confess that I find it as difficult as anyone. I enjoy the new challenges it brings, but wish I could keep all the old ones too - particularly the ones I've just sorted out!

Tonight also marked another change and ending. It was my last swim/sauna at our gym. Again it's only temporary - we've suspended our membership as we have other priorities at the moment. However, I am already really missing it... On the other hand, I am well aware that (as gym managers rely on with minimum contracts etc) we have often paid for a month or so when we have not actually made it though the door. I know that when we resume membership we will be making much better use of the facilities, and will probably appreciate them more for having not had them for a while. I'm still a little sad though (but know it will have passed by morning).

But really I should be looking to the future so finally, a conundrum. My new office has an enormous desk area - well 3 desks assembled in a big L to be accurate. Is this
a) a sign of status
b) a sign of overwork
c) a sign that the previous occupant was a hoarder?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The irreplaceable, indispensible, super woman

So much is going on in my life at the moment. Ellie is about to move up a class at nursery. She is trying new things and testing boundaries constantly at the moment. Paul is still off work with neurological problems (which haven't changed in the last 6 weeks). He may lose his job. He may decide to be a stay at home dad. I am about to start a new job - a new, exciting, different to now job. I am about to change the work life balance from an idyllic 3 work 4 home days to full time work (which is much better financially, but has less child time).

All this is going on. So what am I having sleepless nights about?

Leaving my current job: How can my current team manage without me? Surely my efforts over the last 2 years will disappear? And I will I lose the staff I've just recruited?

Surely it's impossible for the team to carry on without me. My head is so big - I am so outrageously self-important. Only I can be me.

Well, the last statement is true. The others I am recognising are part of my hysterical and misguided belief that I am an irreplaceable, indispensible, super woman. I am starting to realise that the real cause of stress in my life is having unrealistic expectations of myself - or worse, trying to live up to them, or even worse, believing that others hold such equally implausible beliefs about me and trying to live up to those too.

I am me. I am human. On a good day, that's a very good thing to be. On a bad day, it's a less good thing to be - but still OK.


Blogger wants me to go to a new, better, more exciting version....
Oh I so dislike change!
It says once I go, I cannot return...
Where has my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants attitude, taking risks in my stride gone?

Has anyone else changed? Does the world still work once you've crossed over?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Good things

I've had a few days of 'good things' - little, almost insignificant things which have made me smile, laugh or just pleased to be me at that time and that place. They are the sort of things which don't really mean much to anyone else- but are precious and priceless to me. And, whilst as always, Ellie has contributed greatly to such things they haven't all been about her - which is in itself a nice counterpoint to my usual perception of life.

So, to give you a few examples (and so on a less good day, I can look back here and smile about them all over again...)

A friend I'd not seen for several years (post-motherhood in fact) told me that I had not changed since being a student - definitely a compliment.

A work colleague, who I work with occasionally, gave me a huge smile and a big hug when she realised I was going to be working near her office in my new job.

I had evidence that I chosen a fantastic friend for Ellie's godfather when he was unselfconciously playing 'animals' with Ellie in the toddler pool - bounding around saying ribbit ribbit.

Seeing my goddaughter Maisy and teaching her to play draughts - immediately followed by her wanting to play another game with me.

So life is busy, hectic, unstable, even stressful at times - but basically good.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Why, oh why, do I do this to myself!

I'm teaching tomorrow am. I've just finished the presentation (it's a good hour past my bedtime). Once upon a time I might have justified this on the grounds that it was done, it was just that it still could be improved. But tonight, it reallywasn't all that started. It was in my head. Which is very different from being on a powerpoint presentation and handouts.

I know I am a deadline kind of person. I work much better with that adrenaline thrill of - can I actually achieve this in time? But really this is ridiculous. There are so many things which can go wrong with leaving things to the last minute - particularly when you have a small child who is reliant upon you.

I am cross with myself. I am also cross because I know that I have been here before. And I was cross with myself then too. And, apparently, it has made little difference.

So here I am. Tired and cross with myself. And the tiredness could have been avoided. And the crossness is ineffective.

I think I will just go to bed.

Tommorrow, I will be less tired and less cross - with a renewed resolution to plan my time better. (We'll see how that goes!)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Feeling at ease

Isn't it strange how age changes your expectations of holidays? I remember clearly as a teenager reaching a stage (as I suspect most teenagers do) when I considered it definitely more fun to go on holiday with my friends rather than my parents. Yet earlier this year when we went to France, it was the natural choice to go on holiday with my parents. Not just because they could babysit (although thank you...!) but because I wanted to go on holiday with them, knowing that we would enjoy similar things, and wanting them to spend some quality time with Ellie - see Ellie on holiday in person, not just through photos.

Similarly I can remember a time when, whilst envying the afflence, I was bemused by why people would buy a holiday villa. Why limit your holidays to one place when there is so much to see and do around the world? Yet here I am having just come back from Center Parcs at Nottingham for the eleventh time (probably, I've lost count). And will definitely be going back there again.

It doesn't stop my desire to visit many many places, but it is a perfect way to relax, unwind and have an idyllic holiday (for me, anyway). It's only an hour from home, so I'm not at all tired when I arrive. I know where everything is (which is lovely for someone with such a poor sense of direction). It's an isolated village, which could be anywhere, and feels a long long way from work, housework and the world at large. There are lots of fab things to do, but I don't feel I have to do more than I want - because I can always do some next time. And, best of all - it's all child friendly. All of it. From the moveable step in the villa bathroom, to the staff who say 'thank you for letting me know' and bring a replacement when you tell them your child has tipped their drink on the restaurant floor. And, I know that is their reaction - so even when this time nothing was split, I hadn't wasted a moment's anxiety in case it was.

I feel better than I have for a long time. (I'm going to hold onto how I feel right now. Picture it. Feel it. Remember it for when work hits tomorrow!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Oh dear, due to internet connection hassles, I've been only just scraping through on this NaBloPoMo thing (well, Ok replace scraping through with occasionally failing to post every day - but still posting more than not!).
However, I have completely failed to take into account that we are off to Center Parcs tomorrow, for a long weekend away from it all. So there may be a mid packing post tomorrow. There may be a return post on Monday. But unless our housesitter hacks into my account and posts on my behalf there'll be no posts this weekend.


Failure, at the half way stage.

But do I care? Afraid not. I'm off on holiday. Away from work, away from housework, with my family and some good friends and my gorgeous god-daughter (one of them, I have two equally gorgeous). And I've packed the wine!

But, in spirit of contrition and penance, I hereby pledge to ensure that by the end of November I have posted at least 30 times. (which will be at least one a day from when I return).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The value of others

Blogging started out as a way of making time for myself, to think about things and develop some perspective - as well as being a way of using my writing skills. Strange how things turn out...

Due to NaBloPoMo combined with the vagaries of my broadband connection, thoughtful crafted posts have been replaced with a manic scramble to compose and post before the connection fails (if only I was organised/had time enough to draft in word then try to upload on the same day!). And the reasons why I am writing are also changing. It's still a place for me to reflect, (or perhaps more accurately causes me to reflect during the day - how would this look as a post? what would I write about this event? what do I actually think about it??) but it's also a way of keeping up with friends - real world ones, re-found ones, and new ones who I may never meet but whose opinions and thoughts I now value.

Today, I hit a challenge. Someone has reacted in a way that has surprised and disappointed me. I'd quite like to blog about it - a chance to figure out whether or not I am going to take their reaction to heart, how I truly feel about what has happened. It's not major but it's on my mind. I'd quite like to poll others opinions about this - without having to take over every conversation by rehashing it when I'm not really too clear what I actually think and feel. But I can't. Maybe one day they will read this blog. And I can guess that my blogging about it would surprise and disappoint them...

So, it's a shame that you will never read enough to know what I am actually on about, but at least I know, and now you know, that I really value your comments and feedback. Blogging has made my world bigger and more interesting and that must always be a good thing. Even if I don't spend as much time on it as I'd like

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Blogging started out as a way of making time for myself, to think about things and develop some perspective - as well as being a way of using my writing skills. Strange how things turn out...

Due to NaBloPoMo combined with the vagarities of my broadband connection, thoughtful crafted posts have been replaced with manic scramble to compose and post before the connection fails (if only I was organised/had time enough to draft in word then try to upload on the same day!). And the reasons why I am writing are also changing. It's still a place for me to reflect, (or perhaps more accurately causes me to reflect during the day - how would this look as a post? what would I write about this event? what do I actually think about it??) but it's also a way of keeping up with friends - real world ones, re -found ones, and new ones who I may never meet but whose opinions and thoughts I now value.

Today, I hit a challenge. Someone has reacted in a way that has surprised and disappointed me. I'd quite like to blog about it - a chance to figure out whether or not I am going to take their reaction to heart, how I truly feel about what has happened. It's not major but it's on my mind. I'd quite like to poll others opinions about this - without having to take over every conversation by rehashing it when I'm not really too clear what I actually think and feel. But I can't. Maybe one day they will read this blog. And I can guess that my blogging about it would surprise and disappoint them...

So, it's a shame that you will never read enough to know what I am actually on about, but at least I know, and now you know, that I really value your comments and feedback. Blogging has made my world bigger and more interesting and that must always be a good thing.

Even if I don't spend as much time on it as I'd like.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I got the job!

Lots more posting when broadband connection is working again and celebrations are over.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Organic Veg

Maybe you remember a while ago, my post in which I worried about how to buy organic veg, without going bankrupt at the supermarket checkout (amongst many other things!). Some friends suggested that it would be worth checking out if there were any organic veg box schemes locally. It’s taken a while to choose one - the post was in September!. But the first box arrived on Friday. I was so excited in anticipation of it arriving. It's a 'small variety' - ideal to trial - and promised carrots, onions and pototoes as standard and 3 -4 other things. And here it is!

As well as 4 pototoes, 3 carrots, and 3 onions it had some Kale, 3 leeks and 2 squash and a swede. The squash is most definitely one of those veg I see in the supermarkets and think "that looks really interesting - I ought to find a recipe to cook with one some day" and then never do....

So now, I have to cook with one (which is exciting), and I've planned wonderful seasonal recipes like casseroles and leek and bean pie for the other veg.

So I'm feeling pretty good about this veg box thing so far - I'm eating organic veg, I'm eating seasonal veg, I'm eating local produce, and I'm cooking 'proper' food. Oh, and (probably because I've menu planned carefully around the veg) my remaining shop at the supermarket was within my reduced budget for food!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


This afternoon provided an incredible opportunity to witness optimism in action. It's November. It's raining and very very very windy. Yet, we could hear the strains of 'Greenselves' sounding steadily nearer, until eventually the ice cream van pulled up into our cul-de-sac. Yes, that's right. The ice cream van.

I wonder how much business he is doing?


(once again, this is yesterday's post, but couldn't get a connection)

It's been an unsettled week.
It started with a MAJOR overhaul of our finances. Paul is still unwell (forgetting about half of what happened the day before, and having 'absences' when he just freezes for 5-10 secs about 15 -20 times a day - which is Ok, unless for example he is off balance walking up the stairs, or pouring boiling water), he's out of company sick pay, and onto Statutory Sick Pay(which isn't a lot, believe me!), and there's a significant risk that since the GP says he may take another 3 -4 months to recover that they won't hold his job open for him. So, time to face up to reality. To take a long look at our finances (which have never been plentiful since Ellie and her nursery fees came along and I cut down to working part time). It was hard. No two ways about it. However, at least there were things we could cut back on, and because I work part time, there the potential for me to work more hours and bring in more money). So, it could have been a lot worse. There's a roof over our head - and it's going to stay there.

When all this started with Paul, and we thought it would be better soon, I expressed interest in a secondment at work. They wanted full time, but would consider part timers. It's a fantastic exciting, really really grown up job (even more so than managing a nursing and social work team... gulp!). It's a Project Manager post for 6 months intially, under a manager I get on really well with (even though she expects everything yesterday), to redevelop and create innovative learning disability services. Overseeing the opening of a new 4 bed short stay (respite) unit, designing and building (and arranging support staff for) 6 bungalows which will provide tenancies for 18 people with learning disabilties and additional complex needs, setting up a supporte accommodation project, not to mention redeveloping and modernising a day service for 100 service users. It's a fabulous and terrifying job desciption.

When I applied, I thought that if I got it then a) Paul would be better before I started and b) that my fantastic job share partner could 'look after' our team . Two weeks before the interview I found a) Paul is not getting better in the next few months (probably) and b) my job share partner has been poached to work in another team where they are in crisis.

I spent a sleepless weekend last week tossing and turning ideas. Can I commit to such a demanding role when my home life is unsettled? Paul and Ellie are my priorities. And what about my current team? It's still a newish team, only 2 years old. It's been a real challenge to get nurses and social workers to work together as a team not as individuals - in fact it still is. It's been very very very hard... with personalities, short staffing, budget cuts... but it's just starting to come together. Another 12 months and I think we'll be doing really well. But what will happen if I'm not there, and my job partner's not there. What will happen then? But then again, I'm not indepensible. Maybe someone else will do just as well, maybe better.... OMG, what if they are better than me and then I have to come back to the team, and no one wants me any more.... You can see how my thoughts become less and less rational in a way which has a strange correlation to the amount of sleep achieved!

On Monday, I spoke to my manager. Told him I wasn't sure about the secondment - maybe I should withdraw my application. Being the lovely manager he is, he told me that he understood, that he knew that I was the sort of person who would not want to take something on unless I was sure I could fully commit and make a good job of it (which was very reassuring because my current post is hard, and I feel like at least half the time I've just bodged it to get along and keep my, and the teams, head above water). He told me just to see how I felt by the day of the interview - Friday 10th, and withdraw then if needed. Partway though this conversation, past the point of no return, I realised he was on the interview panel... so probably not the best person to tell that I was really uncertain about it all!

Anyway. I went to the interview. I did OK - at least I'll be able to look at the managers who inteviewed me and not feel totally embarrassed by what I said (or didn't). 4 applicants, so it is whoever was best on the day. All candidates notified of the results on Monday.

As I went it, I just decided it would be fate. If I get it, I get it, and it will be a fantastic job. And I can work full time hours, but flexibly. If I don't get it, I get to stay with the team, working my jobshare's extra hours. The team, knowing that I am possibly leaving are just starting to let me know that I'm not always the wicked witch of the west and that they would perhaps actually miss me. (One told me "I'll not wish you luck" and another said "well, I hope you don't get it" - and I know that they are compliments). It will work out fine either way.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Proud Parents

Can there be anything more lovely than going to a Parent's Evening at your child's nursery, drinking their free wine (albeit no doubt included in our monthly fees), eating their nibbles, catching up with other parents you like, and having the staff in the room your daughter is leaving saying how much they will miss her, and the staff in the room she will be moving to saying how very much they are looking forward to having her as she is always so lovely?

I know my daughter is gorgeous. But it is so nice to hear other people say it.

(And we won the raffle too!)

A happy evening to provide a solid rock in a sea of uncertainty. I love my family.

The 4 'R' s

The area where I work has "Remember the 4 R's" on the side of the bin lorries. It took me ages (and a peek round the opposite side) to realise this stood for
Where I live they only ask you to remember the 3 'r's which are the first three. Over the last couple of days I've had a couple of conversations which have really brought home the fact that we have lost the art of repairing and 'making do'...
One of my work colleagues explained he had had a slightly embarrassing dinner party when at the end of the meal he went to make coffee only to find that the element on the kettle was no longer working. One of his guests came from an Eastern European country and calmly finished his can of beer, cut up the can, fixed it round the broken element, whilst explaining at home they would never just throw away a good kettle... and hey presto it worked.
Paul explained how when he was younger he helped tidy up his grandparents' kitchen drawers and found some small metal discs - which they explained were for repairing pans when they got holes in the bottom. I simply can't imagine ever using a pan enough to wear through the base ! And then another friend explained that as a child her grandma always used to whisk away any jumpers she had grown out of (which were usually stripy) and then she would get a very similar jumper back with a stripe of whatever was her favourite colour. It was a few years before she realised her jumpers were in fact essentially the same ones!!!

It seems that in this busy world where we are learning new skills constantly (how to work the DVD player, how to use blogger, how to use sat nav etc etc) there are lots of skills that we are also losing just as fast.

ps once again, I have posted this late... after trying for over 12 hours to get a connection with my broadband...! I feel a phone call to the provider coming on - just as soon as I have time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nobody told me...

In the days of my pregnancy and over the first few weeks of motherhood, many many people told me (whether or not I knew them) that my life would change. And it has!

But nobody told me that...
  • my trousers would all wear out at the knees (in months)
  • my shoes would be scuffed to holes at the toes
  • no matter how many boxes/cupboards I have, they will never contain all the toys
  • if you really love a tiny baby item of clothing - you should buy it in the next size up too!
  • you can function (kind of) on only 5 hours of sleep, which has been interrupted 5 times
  • I would end up singing Rudolph the red nosed reindeer 70 times to keep my toddler calm in the car - in July
  • you will be so happy that someone else is pregnant because then you can unload all the baby stuff from the cupboard under the stairs
  • when you are out with a baby or toddler you need a clean top for you as well as them

and last but not least - wet wipes can clean anything (crayon from the TV screen being the most useful).

Monday, November 06, 2006


This morning was spent teaching a group of student social workers. It's a really lovely course module, with lots of self-directed learning by the students and just a little judicious facilitation by myself here and there (which is much much more fun than talking myself hoarse in a lecture that I've spend 2 full weekends preparing!).

This year it's a great group; they are all engaging with the material, engaging with each other and making pertinent comments throughout. But what is really fantastic is to spend time talking about policy, frameworks, values, culture, difference, ethics, the desire to make the world a better place with a group of interesting, articulate, well-informed and enthusiastic social workers. (Which isn't to say that my work place doesn't have similar people - albeit often hiding behind exhausted cynicism, but there is rarely time to talk about such essential things). It's made me remember why I trained to be a social worker, why I still am a social worker (albeit in a management capacity) and gave me a fresh perspective on the enormous pile of work which was waiting for me when I got into my office today.

All this and I got paid for it too!

5th November's post

It's not that I didn't try to post yesterday, it's just that the dratted connection wouldn't let me.
Anyway, here it is (belatedly).

Traditional Curries.

On Saturday, we went over to Bradford to meet with a good friend, and to take Ellie for her first curry out. Bradford has a large ethnic minority population, and consequently is known for some very very good curry houses. And Paul and I both come from cultures of eating curry in Bradford, so it was the obvious place to go.
We went to Ambala (on Great Houghton Road, a bit nearer town than Mumtaz - for those of you who may know the area). It's a 'modern' curry house - all laminate flooring, coloured gel filled vases of single stems, square plates etc. Lovely surroundings, lovely food, and given we went late lunchtime when it was very very quiet excellent service (attentive yet not standing over you - a very hard balance to strike!). Ellie loved it - well, except for the lime pickle which I failed to intercept her trying.
But it was a far cry from the 'traditional spit and sawdust' places in Bradform where I learnt to eat curry whilst a student. Yes, I was a student in York but the cheapness of curry in Bradford made it affordable, particularly if you could persuade someone else to drive and that wasn't usually hard...!
Paul had had a much earlier introduction, and with an even longer commute. He had been taken to Bradford for curries by his parents whilst a small child from Lincoln! I realised what a family tradition I was joining into when the first time I met Paul's parents they collected us from York and took us over to Bradford for a pint and a curry. And if that wasn't enough of a clue, the waiter greeted Paul and his parents by name and commented it had been a while since he had last seen him!
I realise this post will mean little to most, but it was a lovely meal, and all the more so for being a continuation of a family tradition, and the start of one of our own.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Add a little imagination

I've often heard people comment that you buy a small child a fabulous, and expensive toy, then they only want to play with the box. Paul is very clever at turning this to good use - for example when Ellie got a pots and pans set, he spray painted the box, added dials and created a cooker.

But it fascinates me how small children can turn the most basic of items into toys, which are far more creative than I would ever have come up with. Ellie's current favourite is a box of rubber bands. She will empty them out on the carpet, then create pictures with them. Placing bands to be the 'googly' eyes, the arms, the legs, the hair. And making far more recognisable pictures than she is able to do yet with her drawing skills. I'll remember to take a photo of the next one to show you!

A lovely day...

Yesterday, I had a lovely day... One of those lovely, meandering, but busy, kind of days. Ending with a gorgeous display of fireworks (well, it is nearly Bonfire Night). We had gone to the gym where we are members to see the fireworks but arrived to find it had sold out. However, the entrance of the gym was just outside of the safety zone for the actual display lighting, so we just stood there - with others, and watched the fireworks explode and dazzle almost directly overhead. Then we stolled home in the cold, crisp air, feeling the cold nibbling at our fingers and toes. Which inspired me to make mulled wine once Ellie was in bed. So by the time I went up to bed, I was merry and warm inside, and fully reconciled to the idea that winter is coming....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Uncertainty at work

I'm having a time of difficult decisions at work - well, primarily one major one, a secondment which I shall post more about later. Interestingly though, it's made me realise that although I work hard, and sometimes find the actual work stressful at times, I spend far less 'worry time' on work than I used to do. I think the key change has been this whole parenthood thing! I clearly only have a quota of worry time (at least whilst functioning on a sane and rational level), and it's taken up with anxieties about parenting.

I hadn't really recognised this until the secondment came up. But now I'm tossing and turning mentally about whether I should go for it or not, what the consequences could be, etc etc, I have suddenly recognised the absence of such career anxiety thoughts over the last 2.5 years. It's not even that I've not made decisions - I've chopped and changed about enough to drive my boss to distraction (except he's too good for that). Honestly, I was going to return to work full time, then three days a week as a social worker, then 2.5 days as a job share team manager, then increased my hours whilst my job share partner was on sick leave, and now increasing them again temporarily whilst she's on a secondment (at least until I decide what I want to do about the secondment I've applied for). But I made all these decisions - well just by making them! I thought through the pros and cons (what I wanted, the financial implications, the stress levels of each course) then just made the decision. There was no tearing myself in two, no constantly revisiting to be sure I was making the right choice, no seeking everyone's advice, no comparing myself to how others might handle the situation. I just got on with it - and that isn't how I used to be about my career.

But, I can definitely recognise all those signs of anxiety in thinking about how to be the best parent I can be to Ellie. Leading to my conclusion that I must have a limited quantity which I have transferred from work to parenting.

On the other hand, I'm doing well at work. Not constantly self-examining has not made me less effective (that' s not to say I don't take stock of what I'm doing and how well I'm doing it at work from time to time - I have to, it's part of my role - but I'm not going round in circles like I used to). Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt here that I can transfer to parenting...!

(but what would I worry about then?!!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Wouldn’t you know it…? Just as I decide to commit to NaBLoPoMo, my Broadband provider decides to upgrade my connection. Which, theoretically, is really good – potentially quadrupling my connection speed (2.2 mbps to 8 mbps, if you really want to be technical). Of course, in reality, (probably because we are using one of the ‘free’ broadband providers) what this means is that our connection has become completely unreliable….

So how committed to this am I? Will I really try several times a day to get my post online…? Will I dash round to friends' houses to use their connection to put my post up?

Who knows? But let me point you to the lovely NaBloPoMo button now residing on my sidebar and, when you understand that my html skills were previously non-exist, you will see the measure of my determination!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Yesterday was Halloween. Here is Ellie dressed in her 'spider' costume which she happily wore all day!

Monday, October 30, 2006


I started this blog because I wanted to make some time for me. A chance to step off, and step back from, the merry-go-round of my life. A chance to reflect on how things were, how I wanted them to be, and how I did not want them to be.

I think that simply having this blog, even when I do not post to it, gives me a different perspective on my life. It's encouraged me to stray out of my own world, my own friends and meet new people - some I agree with, others I may disagree with, but the majority have inspired me in some way. It's encouraged me to think about what I am doing, and how I feel about it - whether or not those thoughts get written up it's still a better perspective than just swirling about in the tides of my life.

But another part of having this blog was a chance to be creative - to have a chance to express myself. And I've not done so well with that... But hey. My life is busy. My family has to come before my blog. My work needs to come before my blog (at least enough to get paid!). So I'm not giving myself a tough time over it.

But, I am going to make a commitment to myself and my blog. Right now. I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo (1). A post every day in November. Will I manage it? The proof will be in the posting.

(1) Can it e National NaBloPoMo if I know people in the US who are doing it and I am too (in England)? Hmmm. Oh well, that won't stop me!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Things are looking up...

It's been a rough few weeks recently, as no sooner had Ellie recovered from Chickenpox than Paul became ill - possibly with a reaction to Tramadol, but no one is really sure. Whatever the cause it's meant he's spent the last 2 weeks in hospital whilst the neurology team try to figure out what is happening. They've now ruled out 'hundreds' of possibilities, and have decided that it was/is a 'localised electrical disturbance'. It sounds like it's the sort of thing which should cause your lights to flicker, but in fact it's caused Paul to have frequent moments similar to absence type seizures, and big patches of recent memory loss. Paul still has the symptoms, but has been discharged from hospital as they think it will fix itself over the next few weeks/months. Which isn't ideal, but is much much better than it could have been.

And to prove that things are getting better, today the fruits of my obsessive online competition entering have finally arrived in the post. I'd discovered an on line competition search site, and entered about 300 competitions in the fortnight before Paul went into hospital. (It's a sign of my recent worry that I have neither blogged nor competitioned in the last fortnight!). Today I finally won a prize!!!! A packet of Discovery garlic and coriander flour tortillas.
And I really am, genuinely, thrilled and excited....!!! (just as well I didn't win a luxury holiday - I don't think I'd be able to cope)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ups and Downs

My poor neglected Blog - patiently waiting for another post, and now it's come it's not carefully crafted, but rather a hasty scrawl. One day, Blog, I will make it up to you...

Life has been a rollercoaster recently - not one of those exciting, white knuckle, stomach churning, life affirming rollercoasters, more like one of the 'baby' rollercoasters you sometimes get in the children's areas of theme parks...

Ellie got better from her chickenpox eventually (yeah). My boss was fine about my needing a few days off work to look after her (yeah! yeah!). My mum came over to manage the last few days of illness - and Ellie loved seeing her (yeah yeah yeah!)

But Ellie is still waking 3/4 times a night even though she's better, so I'm very tired. Work is very manic as I missed several urgent deadlines due to being off. And I ended up being so tired I had to go to bed at 6.30 (before Ellie!) on Thursday... but Paul put Ellie to bed and let me sleep so that's not really bad...

I saw an old Uni friend over the weekend, which was lovely! Although I'm left with mixed feelings of how great it was to catch up, and how annoyed I am that I left it so long... (but that' s probably exhaustion hitting!)

Paul has hurt the base of his spine and needs to get it x-rayed - which is Ok because it's under control, but he had a bad reaction to either one of his painkillers, or the combination of painkillers (or maybe both) that he was prescribed... and he's still really out of it 3 days later...
And I have remembered that my perfect husband is really hopeless at recognising when he is ill - swearing he is Ok to drive, but then driving home to the flat we left 3 years ago. Althoughhis being out of action does make me realise how much childcare he usually does!!!

And last night I was going to go out to meet a friend, to swim, and gossip with, but I had to stand him up at the last minute... because Paul was crashed out and Ellie isn't sleeping though, and I just couldn't be sure it was Ok to go out in case she woke and Paul didn't.

But today, I got a lovely parcel in the post - which I will photo and tell you more about tomorrow.... but thank you Stuntmother!!!! You have no idea how much that has cheered me up. And today I also had social work teaching/lecturing sessions confirmed at Huddersfield Uni (just 1 session) and at Leeds Uni (2 sessions, maybe more in future). Which is very exciting (especially as I still also have teaching at York agreed). But, the sessions are all in the next few weeks before mid November, and I have to plan them... and I'm tired, and work is really busy, and my ever so supportive husband who I rely on completely is poorly.....!!!!!!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring....?
(but right now, my tea is boiling over and Ellie is crying " Mummy", so I'd better go!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Too busy to blog

I was going to blog about how I was starting to have a social life ( I even had three invites to choose from last saturday night - and that's not happened for years and years!), with amusing highlights from out homelife (how the pavement is being redone, and the workmen managed to burst our gas main, and how it was ever so lucky that Paul was at home that day or they would have needed to get the police to bust in our front door to be able to fix it.... followed by how they left the pavement 'in progress' overnight and we managed to get our car wheel wedged in the foot deep hole they'd left, completely blocking the road and needed to get a specialist truck to winch us out).

But right now, Ellie has chickenpox. And she needs me more than my blog does... so no more entries for a while.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dichotomies and Dilemnas

You may have noticed I've not posted for a while. It's not that I've not had anything to post about - just very little time.

The thought behind the title of this blog was that it would be my space. Some time and space just for me. Without needing to juggle several tasks. But the juggling just seems to take up more and more time and energy (with less time to blog). This sounds much more miserable that I am - I just need to find a few answers...

To questions such as:

1) How does a lazy (or busy - depending upon the day of the week) person balance eco-friendly attempts to save the planet with trying to cut the household budget?
You see I could walk more, saving CO2 emissions, and money on petrol - but it takes longer, and is hard when you work 34 miles away!
I want to buy organic food, but it costs a fortune in the supermarket, and I'm too lazy/buzy to grow my own or trail a toddler around local 'good' shops.
I used to use washable nappies, but now Ellie will only wear trainer pants, and I can't find non bulky washable trainer pants in any of the places I've looked...
And somehow, just using Ecover products really doesn't seem enough to save the planet for my daughter's future!

2)How do I find time to be a good mother, good wife/partner, keep the house clean (all of which take up lots of time)and still find time to be myself?
Because if I don't spend time doing things for me, that I enjoy, then I will be a less good mother, and a less good partner, and being in a clean house won't be enough...
But then I do also enjoy doing things with Ellie and with Paul - and there never seems to be enough time to do everything... And yet, I'm still gutted that I never made it to Infest,a nd that there are friends I've not seen in ages!

Oh this does sound miserable... and really, honestly, truly, I'm not. But I would be ecstatically happy if I could just answer these questions!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Cardigan

Ellie is a very lucky girl - not only can her Nana, and great-grandma knit for her but so can her Auntie!!

See the evidence. Yes I know that Ellie's head is chopped off in some of these, but for once it's not about Ellie (!). It's about the cardigan. It fits beautifully, with a little room for growth. (The sleeves are turned over once)

PS the beautiful subtle colours of the cardigan are not best set off by the stripy dress, but it's what Ellie was wearing when it came in the post.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Me Myself and I

Your Birthdate: July 29

You have the mind of an artist, even if you haven't developed the talent yet.

Expressive and aware, you enjoy finding new ways to share your feelings.

You often feel like you don't fit in - especially in traditional environments.

You have big dreams. The problem is putting those dreams into action.

Your strength: Your vivid imagination

Your weakness: Fear of failure

Your power color: Coral

Your power symbol: Oval

Your power month: November

Sometimes you read these things and they ring true (usally when they are vague or flattering I suspect) but this one hasn't. Which is leading me down a path of uncertain introspection... what do I think the answer should have been?

No time to go into details now, Ellie has a swimming lesson to go to, but watch this space!

Friday, August 11, 2006

York Maze

Last weekend we went to York Maze with Ellie's godfather (to be). We had a great time. There was a very big maze (Star Trek themed this year). There was a little 'maze of illusions'. There were animals to see, games to be played, and ice lollies to be eaten. What fun!!!

(Ellie particularly loved having 'long legs' but was a bit concerned at the next mirror when they had disappeared!)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Bag

A story of identity?

Once upon a time, our heroine had a handbag. The handbag was nothing special. It wasn't a designer label. It didn't hold incredible secrets. Just a purse, mobile phone, keys, hairbrush, mascara, lipstick, tissues, tampons etc. But it went everywhere with her - our heroine would not have dreamt about stepping across the threshold of her house without it.

Then she had a baby. The first couple of times she left the house with the baby she took the handbag with the baby and the baby's changing bag. But she simply did not have enough hands to hold the baby, the baby's buggy/car seat, the changing bag, and her handbag. So she took the purse, the mobile phone and the keys out of the handbag and put them in a pocket of the changing bag.

As the baby got older, more and more things were put into the changing bag - cups, feeding utensils, books, plastic toys as well as nappies, wipes and bags. And the purse, mobile phone and keys were still in a pocket too. The handbag that had been hung up in the closet, still with the mascara and lipstick inside it, was hardly given a second thought.

One day, our heroine realised that she did not need to take such a big, heavy, changing bag if she was only going out for a short while, and so she found an old (big) handbag and put into it some wipes, tissues, a spare nappy and a couple of nappy bags, as well as her purse, keys and phone. Now on the rare occasions when she is going out without her child - in a rush she takes the handbag with her, having fought hard to squeeze in a comb and lipstick amidst the wipes and tissues. It is only when she is out surrounded by others with tiny, pretty, handbags that she realises she could have used a different bag with just her things inside.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My baby

Some moments she seems so grown up that I can't believe she is only 2. Other moments she is so clearly still my baby.
It makes my head hurt and my heart melt.

(This would be a much longer post, but apparently the computer is needed to see Razzle Dazzle and Mr Tumble )

Anyone for Tea?

There we were sat around the dining table at teatime the other day, when Ellie spotted a visitor stolling along our garden towards our window...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Brodsworth Hall

On Sunday we went for a picnic at Brodsworth Hall - one of my two favourite English Heritage properties. Built mid 19th century (I think?), it was owned by private family until fairly recently, and was falling into disrepair until EH stepped in. The gardens are beautiful, and the house is probably unique to visit! Because it was a 'lived in' home for so long - there are incredible 'updates' done to the house (my favourite being a proper Crapper loo with 1950's pink walls!) The gardens are also being 'redone' and are gorgeous. Anyway, it was the first time I'd visited since I'd had Ellie - and whilst I love the house I was unsure how she would find it. There were several 'child friendly' touches, but Ellie's favourite was a wooden horse.

Apparently it was Paul's favourite too!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Friends and Friendships (and Weddings and Children too)

Yesterday I was at the wedding of an old schoolfriend. I'll not dwell on what a lovely ceremony it was, or what a lovely location, or how it reminded me of my own wedding (even though they are all very much true). Or even how we won the table top quiz during the wedding breakfast (two sections - one on the bride and groom and the other on general knowledge- with points awarded for the correct, or most amusing, answers).

It was wonderful to meet up with my old schoolfriends who were once so close but whom I now rarely see (rapidly moving towards the old cliche of weddings and funerals - well, just one funeral so far but that's one too many). That the old 'gang' is now 5 rather than 6 gave a poignancy to our meeting, but sad feelings didn't last long at such a happy occasion.

Our lives have changed so much since school - then we shared experiences of going to see gigs, going to clubs, joys and traumas of first relationships, what were we going to be 'when we grew up'. Now - on the whole - we are settled with partners, with careers, with children. In many ways we are very different from who we were. Yet, once we'd caught up on lifechanges, the years just fell away. Conversation flowed, topics came and went, reminiscences and plans for the future were shared. There was no competition about whose house was biggest, who earnt more, whose children were brightest. We just were, together as friends. I really wish I saw them all more often. But it doesn't matter that I don't. They will still be my friends when next we meet.

On a related note, Stuntmother has posted about why she believes children should be included in weddings. The bride and groom had taken the decision to only invite children who were related to them. I can't disagree with this decision, as I did exactly the same at my wedding, yet I will admit to being sad that I would have to leave Ellie and that she would not be able to share the occasion. Yet when I got there I felt quite differently. Meeting up with my old schoolfriends was such a chance to be myself; to remember that I had my own life before being a mother, that I still do have a life separate to my child (and work). Of course I talked about Ellie, of course I showed pictures of her. Not having Ellie there, competing for my attention and needing her needs to be put first, meant that I could immerse myself in the event and in conversations with friends. I needed that. I needed time to be me.

It was the first night I've ever spent away from her. My mother and sister came over to look after her. She was fine (of course). I'd looked forward to not being woken at 5am - particularly since it is my birthday today! But of course old habits die hard and I awoke even without her. I appreciate her even more for being separated for a little while - and I will give her a very big hug at 5am tomorrow.

PS. Sorry this post is a little disjointed - it was a very merry wedding by the end!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Unfinished Statement of Needs

I saw over on Glingle's blog a meme whereby you create a statement of your needs by Googling your name and the word needs and then display the most interesting results. I tried to resist it, but the social worker in me could not (it's a technical thing!). However, the three entries all related to a ecological kids song about Lisa the Lemur (you can see one of them here). It even plays the tune for you if you want.

Anyway, I got distracted following the link, and have lost the google page. Maybe one day when I'm less busy and tired I'll retry! Or maybe I'll just use the energy on teaching Ellie the song - it's so cool to have a song with your name! (even if it is really about a lemur!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Changing Shape

I was starting to feel differently about my shape. Last week I re-started going to the gym (after a 3 year break). As my wise husband predicted, just going and getting a programme sorted out has started to make me feel better about myself. Like most people, whilst I am grateful and appreciate that my body functions perfectly, I wish that it did so in a more stylish and slender way! When I look back at photos of my younger self, part of me regrets that my self image then was unreasonably negative and that I did not appreciate the positives of the body I had, whilst an even stronger part of me is frustrated that I now look fatter and flabbier than I did then. Still, I know that regularly going to the gym will slowly change my body in a positive way - so I recognised that it's a slow process but it's worth putting in that effort.

Then, on Stuntmother's blog, I found a link to this site. And overnight it changed the way I feel about myself and my shape. Oh, I'll still continue to go to the gym, to become slimmer, fitter and healthier - but now I no longer feel the need to perform strange contortions to get showered/changed without showing an inch of flesh. I have realised that I have two physical reminders of getting pregnant and giving birth, and fortuntately only one of them throws tantrums!

Much too much

Yesterday, I was trying to 'quickly' set up broadband (which worked Ok, but the webmail really didn't leaving us with no sending email). In the midst of this unresolved and quite stressful situation the gas/electricity man came to read the meter. Then I realised that we (but particularly Ellie) needed lunch so started to make very simple beans on toast. And in the midst of this the phone rang, an important call about arranging a visit to take forward being respite foster carers. And with all this going on, Ellie walked into the kitchen, lifted up her skirt and wee-ed on the kitchen floot (not tiles, not lino, CARPET!) then walked out again.

I started to look around for a suitable corner to either scream, cry or gibber (or maybe all three).

Then Ellie reappeared, with a tiny, moist wetwipe, and tried to clean up her puddle.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh! (and give your child a cuddle)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Three Wishes

Today, I went to my god daughter’s christening (Emma this time, not Maisy – that was last month!). On the buffet table, there was a box with some paper slips so that everyone could write their 3 wishes for Emma. When they were read out, there was a lovely mixture of ‘traditional’ (variations on wealth, health and happiness) some more emotional ones, and a few relating to current events (world cup in particular). The intention is to keep them so that Emma can read them when she gets older.

Paul commented that he dislikes it when this kind of thing is ‘sprung’ on you – purely on the basis that he wants more time to prepare (he has such a competitive/perfectionist streak!). So, assuming that at some point we get round to Ellie being christened - you have been warned!

Friday, July 14, 2006


Driving out of York today, I noticed at some traffic lights that my route was headed ‘Local Traffic’ and it made me think about when you actually become ‘a local’.

Having lived in York now for half my life, and owning a house here, I usually confidently say that I’m from York when someone asks. I’ve finally shrugged off the need to say “Well, I was from x, but now I live in York”. I certainly didn’t feel I could just say “I’m from York” when I first came to study here, and still felt rather a fraud if I did say it for years afterwards. I still didn’t have that mental sense of ‘localness’ even after buying my first home or having wide social and work networks.

I’m not sure when the mental change occurred or what caused it; the length of time I’ve lived here; having a daughter who can only be described as ‘a local’; finally being able to get myself everywhere I need without a map; or maybe having so many of my memories tied to places here?

Anyway, as I headed straight across the lights, I had a sense of contented settled belongingness. I'm sure that there are deeper thoughts to be had, about how my sense of belonging, and self identity, interconnect but at the moment, I'll just focus on the contentment. (*It's been a busy few weeks... and good feelings should be treasured. Especially when they come in unexpected places like road markings!)

Saturday, June 24, 2006


My life is feeling pretty good at the moment. I knew this already, but it's nice to have it confirmed!

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Friday, June 16, 2006


Last Sunday I officially became Maisy’s godmother. Maisy is seven so this isn’t a major change - more a tidying up of an arrangement made a few hours after she was born. Ellie’s description of the ceremony probably sums up the practicalities: “The priest man poured water on Maisy’s head. He talked long time then we went home to Maisy’s house”.
The ceremony gave me a focus however to reflect on my relationship with Maisy, and to re-affirm how lucky I am to be her godmother and part of her life. Maisy is a lovely, thoughtful, considerate, energetic, intelligent, artistic, sociable child. She’s also been a typical baby, toddler, pre-schooler etc with all the challenges those stages of development bring and is now a pretty typical seven year old adjusting to having a two year old brother and an unhelpful class teacher at school. Thinking about Maisy, made me realise just how much she has given me over the last seven years. Having spent time looking after Maisy as a baby and toddler gave me a real headstart in confidence in looking after Ellie – I didn’t have to learn how to put on nappies, or give a bath, whilst fumbling my way through that post partum exhaustion. When things have been difficult, in work or relationships, Maisy’s obvious love and affection for me (along with the support of her parents) has really helped me to hold things together. Not to mention the (selfish) pleasures of Maisy drawing pictures specially for me, or insisting that only I am able to read her night time story. Or the recollection of things she has said and done which bring a smile to my face even now as I write this.

Which leads me to question – am I her ‘fairy’ godmother, or is she mine?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Ellie has, in the last week, started toilet training and she’s doing really well. In fact, we’ve had hardly a wet nappy overnight since we started (which we didn’t expect) and only a few ‘accidents’ during the day times. Our chosen method (and nursery’s) is to prompt her regularly to sit on the potty, and to give her lots of praise (and a sticker if she’s at home) for any ‘result’. As a consequence of giving praise, I’ve ended up having lots of strange conversations along the lines of “Aren’t you a good girl doing a wee – shall we go and tell Daddy that you’ve done a wee?” then she gets a second lot of praise also. In terms of toilet training, this is working very well with only one or two ‘accidents’ a day (usually when she’s doing something far too interesting to interrupt for the potty!). However this has led to the weird situation this evening when, shortly after Paul left the house, Ellie did a poo and was adamant that I couldn’t empty the potty until Daddy got back to see it! In the end, we compromised and we took a picture of it. (Thank goodness for digital cameras and never having to get that picture processed!). No matter how much expert advice you read - it just doesn’t cover every eventuality!

Time Out

The other weekend was very sunny so we ended up having a barbeque with our friend, Mal. Whilst we were all sat out enjoying our food, Kitty went after a bird with a much greater degree of success than usual. The bird, which appeared to be struggling to get off the ground after Kitty’s pounce, hopped to a patch of long grass and hid there. Whilst I understand that as a cat it is inherent to Kitty’s nature to chase birds, it’s not something I want to see (particularly over my dinner!). Mal interrupted Kitty’s search of the long grass and shut her in the house. A little while later we checked on the bird – a rather shaken fledgling – who hopped out of the grass as we disturbed her (or possibly him) and desperately flapped back to a nearby tree where her mother was waiting anxiously. Ellie’s comment on all this? “Kitty in time out!”.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Barnaby Bear

Just before we went on holiday, amidst the blur of ‘things I must finish at work’, ‘clothes I must wash & dry to take away’, ‘important documents I must find to enable us to go abroad’ etc, I happened to see a programme on CBeebies channel. It was ‘Barnaby and Becky’ (about a small bear who goes on adventures usually without the little girl Becky). In this particular episode, Barnaby went on a Ferry across to Roscoff (in Brittany), where he had a crepe and explored ‘le jardin exotique’ (an usual tropical garden). When I saw it, I forgot the grown up tasks I needed to complete to go on holiday and was filled with holiday excitement because we too were going to go on a Ferry to Roscoff, and I had every intention of having crepes too!

On the penultimate day of our holiday, Paul motivated us out of our holiday ‘laissez-faire’ and we went to Roscoff’s ‘jardin exotique’. It was fabulous, a wonderful tropical garden, overlooking the Channel. Even as a novice (and ‘do it when I have to’) gardener, the plants and setting were awesome! And Ellie thought it was wonderful to find long leaves, and sticks, to trail along the ground. The weather was also tropical too, which added to the illusion of being much further away than Northern France. And, to top it all, I was walking along the very path that Barnaby had been on!

Anyway, impossible though it is to show the magic through the pictures, I thought I'd show you a couple anyway.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Holiday snaps

No time to write about our hols, but on the basis that a picture speaks a thousand words...
Here are Paul and Ellie in the pool! It was very quiet on the campsite for the first week, and also rather wet and windy. However, there were a few brighter spells which we made the most of! the second week was school holidays - much better weather but many many more people. I quite like the luxury of this private pool. The pool was 'heated' but this mean solar heating which raises the temperature by only a few degrees. The smaller pool to the back left was a jacuzzi and excellent for warming back up!

Ellie loved swimming, even in the cold pool! But she also really loved going on this bike riding game afterwards. Which is very lucky as I'm not sure the cold pool would have been healthy for too long!

(Best for us as parents - at 2 not only is she too young to play, but she's also to young to have any expectation that the bike might actually do anything)

Anyway, more about what I did on my holidays to follow!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lost in France

I’ve not posted for a while as I’ve been away in France for two weeks. It’s been a fabulous holiday – although the EU (or should that be European Community?) Ironing Mountain I’m now facing has soon brought me back down to earth! Once our clothes are safely hung back up in our wardrobes I’ll post some more and let you know all about the wind, the lashing rain, the very cold swimming pool and that absolutely wonderful time we had (really – we did!). Oh, and due to my Dad's and husband's excellent driving I didn't get lost and was able to drink instead of driving.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I've not posted for while, simply because I've been busy working, seeing relatives, having my 7 yr old goddaugher to stay, and assembling a playhouse and sand pit. Good times but with little time to think, reflect or write.
When I get more time, I want to join Poetry Thursday (one day I'll have time to find out how to link to other posts! EDIT Update: apparently that is today!). However, inspired by that idea, by discovering this poem yesterday, and because Paul is having a hard time at the moment and I love him very much - I thought I'd post this.

Love by Roy Croft
I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Watery Reflections

Last night whilst Paul was multi-tasking (playing ‘boardgames’, and babysitting) I enjoyed a late night swim, and lounge around in the Jacuzzi at the gym. Not too surprisingly my thoughts turned to a friend’s observations on Jacuzzi etiquette. I have three observations of my own – which since I’m lacking inspiration and motivation to write anything else, I will put here.

1) My friend, Steer is right that there is an unwritten rule that when the bubbles stop whoever is nearest the steps (and consequently nearest to the Jacuzzi ‘on’ button) is expected to get out to turn it back on. However, there also appears to be a chivalrous element to the male gym members and if it is a woman nearest to the bubbles then she isn’t expected to get out. There’s not even an ‘are you going to go or am I’ questioning look – as soon as the bubbles stop there’s a chivalrous man half standing up to get out. (And I double checked that it applies to women generally not just me – so it can’t be explained by them not wanting to see my blubbery body!)

2) No body speaks to anybody in the Jacuzzi, unless they already know them. In fact, there is almost a London Underground determination not even to make eye contact – let alone say thank you if some presses the on button. I particularly notice this, because if you are sat in non-bubbling hot water in the toddler pool there is almost an inverse expectation that you will chat to other parents as your child refuses to share floats/toys with theirs! Yet I can’t be the only person who sits in both places – such situational conditioning!

3) Far too many times when I have been recently (late at night without Ellie – with the main intention of going of sitting in the Jacuzzi and avoiding all exercise), the Jacuzzi has been out of action. I am sure this is linked to the extra frothy water which often occurs and which Steer and I have speculated is possibly due to people failing to rinse their shampoo. Anyway, last night I found floating in the Jacuzzi a half full travel size shampoo bottle (thankfully with lid on), which I fished out. I suspect it says a lot about the gym prices that it was a bottle of Molton Brown shampoo!!!

As you can tell, it was a lovely evening – very relaxing, and completely switched off from work and motherhood!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Last week, most of my working week was spent on a training course on supervision. Today, I had an unexpected ‘difficult’ conversation with one of the people I supervise. At the end of the conversation, it struck me that the conversation had been almost identical to a role play I had done on the training… if only I had realised earlier maybe I could have actively used the strategies discussed at the end of the role play to improve the outcome. (On the other hand, two hours later the worker informed me they had now done all the tasks I had asked of them so something about the conversation must have worked!)

It’s probably an indication of my level of overwork last week, that although I am contracted to work 2.5 days, it was a three day training course. And that was only ‘most’ of my working week! But my jobshare partner is back at work today after 10 weeks off sick – I was so glad to see her….!!!! I feel a spring in my step, a song in my heart, and an all over glow of happiness. (Which will probably last until Monday since I’m not working again until then).

Terrible Twos or Terrific Twos?

Ellie is now two! She stirred on her birthday morning at 5am, then woke properly shouting for “mummy” at 5.30am. She often wakes early, so this isn’t really unusual. However, it was also a strange co-incidence since two years earlier, she had woken me up with a strange pain at 5am (at which point, for reasons which I don’t really understand, I got up and did the washing up from the night before) and at 5.30 very strong contractions started. Luckily for me, the rest of her birthday this year went very differently… with a really enjoyable birthday party, with friends, food, drink, pass the parcel, and much fun. As opposed to a stream of midwives, a few glucose sweets and far more drugs than I’d expected!

A few moments reflection has left me amazed at how much my life has changed, at the strength of feeling in unconditional love, at the enormous number of clothes Ellie has grown out of, at the number of nursery rhymes I have learnt/remembered, at how toys creep into every corner of the house despite attempts to contain them in boxes and tubs, at how brazen I have become at ignoring tantrums in the middle of shops, at the way my heart still skips a beat when she takes my hand in her tiny one… Friends, books and even complete strangers all told me how different life would be once I’d had my baby. It’s not that I didn’t believe them because I did, but I really had no idea about just how different it would be. Or how it would be constantly changing as Ellie changes, with new joys, new challenges and new experiences.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Water Water Everywhere

I’ve always found it quite hard to understand why on an island surrounded by water we often have water shortages. I’m finding it even harder to understand how Thames Water have a hosepipe ban when I pass at least a dozen flooded fields on my way home from work.

Assuming flooding is better than drought (at least where both are in moderation) this is yet another reason why it’s better to be ‘up North’.

Breast is best

Depending upon your views on breasts, or more specifically extended breastfeeding, you may be advised to read no further…!


I read on a friend’s blog a while ago (I’d do a link if I was clever – but I’m not) that you know you’ve been breastfeeding too long if your ‘baby’ says “The other side Mummy” and you hear “The Udder side”.

In relaying this anecdote to another friend, she laughed and assumed I’d reached the end as I said “The other side, Mummy”. I assume she felt babies were too old to breastfeed once they could speak.

Ellie is 2 next week. Initially I wanted to feed her for 6 months – because I’d read that had lots of health benefits. By 6 months we both enjoyed the feeds – and I’d learnt by then that the WHO believe there are health benefits in feeding up to 2 years – so we carried on. Although I’ve kept the idea in the back of my mind that I’ll stop feeding Ellie when she’s 2. Which, as I’ve just said, is next week.

I’ve got mixed feelings though. It’s just so lovely having her feed and snuggle against me when she’s just woken and I’m still half asleep (after all, if I don’t feed her I’ve have to properly get up at 5.30am!). And being able to use a feed as instant paracetamol substitute if she’s had a bad fall, or is ill, and needs more comfort than a ‘kiss better’. And having that quiet time together at the end of a long day at nursery/work.

On the other hand, not only does she demand “other side, mummy”, but she’s also told me “I got snot on mummy-milk. Tissue, mummy”.

And yet I’m having a hard time preparing to stop feeding her – sometimes I amaze myself!!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Paul and I went out to our Salsa class last night. We only started going a few weeks ago and have had to miss a few weeks as our regular, trusted babysitter wasn’t well, so we are still very much in the beginner phase. I’m amazed by how much I enjoy it - which I’m conscious sounds a little odd given that I was the one who talked Paul into going.

I thought it would be a fun thing to do together – some time for us as a couple rather than a family. I also thought that it might be a good chance to show to Paul that actually he does dance well. (Paul consistently gets better scores than me on the occasions when we go on our playstation dancemat but dismisses this as ‘it’s not dancing; it’s just moving in time to the music’!)

Salsa is much harder than I expected. There’s a lot of different steps and moves - even within the limited ‘beginner’ repertoire. There is also an emphasis on it being a social dance so the aim is to be able to ‘mix and match’ these moves on the dancefloor – with the guy leading and the woman hopefully understanding what’s expected of her as she follows rather than being choreographed. I know that given a choice, I don’t usually undertake things in which I expect not to be at least vaguely competent. I think it’s partly a confidence thing – I don’t like the risk of looking like an idiot when it’s avoidable. I also think, why do something when I’ll almost certainly not be good at it, when I could use that time for something which I am better at doing. It’s probably got a lot to do with my perfectionist streak. All of which are reasons why I am amazed at how much I enjoy Salsa.

I like that Paul and I are doing something together, but that because we constantly change partners it’s a very different experience for both of us. I like feeling virtuous that I am doing something which could be (loosely) described as exercise on a Friday evening. I like that I need to use a part of my brain that I don’t usually use – the bit that co-ordinates my body to move in a planned /structured way rather than automatically. Trying to create from scratch the physical and intellectual memory for Salsa is a real challenge, and one of the things I most love about it. When I’m in the class, my whole brain power has to be applied to dancing – there’s simply no room left to dwell on any of the events of the week. It is a perfect and total switch off. And on top of that, it really doesn’t matter that I’m not any good. Lots of the other people aren’t any good either – but we’re trying, and having fun whilst we do it. And it’s an added bonus when I do get a sequence of steps right!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My life in a pint glass

I was supposed to be going out with friends to a club on Saturday night (although due to sore throat, laryngitis and a toddler who hasn’t properly slept these last few nights, I didn’t manage it). I was asked earlier in the week if I had any preference about which pub to go to beforehand. Once upon a time, this would have been a simple question; that time I now realise was quite some time ago.

I hadn’t realised that I no longer went out drinking in town. It was never a conscious decision – I still think about myself as someone who goes out for a few drinks. However, the fact is that I no longer have any preferences about which pub to drink in, because I can hardly remember the last time I went out to one. Actually that sentence is inaccurate on two counts. Firstly, I do have pub preferences ie ones with child-friendly lunchtime menus, buggy access and no smoking areas - but that’s not helpful in choosing a pub for a Saturday night out. Secondly, I can remember the last time I went out to a pub (in fact I can remember all 8 places I’ve had a drink in over the last 2.5 years). It’s probably that fact that makes me realise how much I’ve changed!

Over the last couple of days I’ve idly wondered: How did my self perception become so separated from reality? But I suspect this question is really the result of too little sleep and too many painkillers. The real question is “how do I (re)discover my favourite pub?” which will be much more fun to find the answer to!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Sunday’s question

Q. How many times can a nearly 2 year old go down a slide intended for over 4’s before they get bored?

A. I still don’t know – I lost count at 46!

Monday's question

Q. How much shorter is my urgent to do list at work at the end of the working day?

A. In fact, it's longer than when I started! I'm clearly in need of improving time management skills, the problem is that I've not got time to do that either!

Tuesday's question

Q. Should I drive 36 miles to work to join in the Unison picket, or should I find an alternative way to improve workers' morale?

A. Paul and I spent the day having a lie in, swimming, jacuzzi-ing (if that's a verb!), and planning our utility room kitchen 0- whilst Ellie maintained her normal routine at nursery. It's certainly improved my morale - so much so I'm ready to tackle that urgent to do list again tomorrow!

Saturday, March 25, 2006


This week I watched The Bourne Identity.. It left me with a sense of yearning that I’ve been trying to figure out. Was it yearning for an ‘in control’ yet ‘vulnerable’ man (that ideal film stereotype of masculinity)? Definitely not - Paul is strong enough to open tight jar tops, courageous enough to remove spiders, and I’ve seen tears spring to his eyes when Ellie gives him a spontaneous hug. Even in a fantasy I don’t think I’d swap this for an amnesiac who kills people with his bare hands.

Rather it’s the precision lifestyle of a super-trained assassin that’s left me with a sense of longing; the minimalist and spotless flat, everything instantly planned, never making a mistake or forgetting things. Why isn’t my life like that? You just know that someone like Jason Bourne would never come back from Asda with more bargain smoothie than they are ever likely to drink and having forgotten to buy food for the cat. But then, do super trained assassins go shopping? You never see them cook, or sort out the washing up. Do they have to wash, dry and iron their clothes? Do they have a small whirlwind in their life who scatters blocks and other toys faster than an adult can pick them up? Do they have to negotiate the emotional up and downs of sharing your life completely with another person? I imagine it’s much easier to achieve a precision lifestyle without all these factors in the equation…

So, would I really want to swap my life, with the intricate richness and unpredictability brought by Paul and Ellie, for the life of a super trained assassin? (even if completely ignoring my ethical difficulties with the killing people part?) Definitely not.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Independence at Wacky Warehouse

Some days people surprise you. Ellie had been desperately keen on doing her own thing early this morning - taking no account of my words of wisdom (eg. "give me those scissors they're dangerous"). Luckily for both our sanity, today is Friday. This means we got to meet up with friends at the Wacky Warehouse where Ellie could run riot, in a carefully padded, almost impossible to do yourself an injury, environment. At the end of the session, Ellie announced that she wanted a sticker; a yellow one. I was busy putting on my shoes at the time, and almost without thinking I said "Go and ask the lady for one, whilst I finish putting on my shoes". I say almost without thinking because I had no expectation that she would do it - I just wanted to say something to distract her momentarily whilst I finished tying my shoelaces. Anyway, she went over to the counter. At that moment, another parent and child arrived for the next session and I watched Ellie stand patiently next to the counter whilst they were served before actually asking the lady for a sticker. Later conversation with the 'lady' revealed this request was not of the polite "please may I have..." type I have been teaching her, but a very effective, single word: "Sticker".
I don't know who was more proud - Ellie of her sticker, or me of Ellie!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Balancing Act

That lovely balance I spoke about last Wednesday has been rather wobbly this week. Ellie has been unwell – sick once on Monday, high temperature on Tuesday, followed by a night of very little sleep (for both of us!) and generally unwell today although seeming much brighter this evening. Consequently, I’ve had to take some time off work to look after her and in compensation I’ve brought a mass of work home to catch up on.

Still, it could be much worse. The nursery staff are excellent at judging the fine line between pulling me out of work when Ellie is unwell and keeping her at nursery when she’s a just little under the weather. When it became apparent this morning that Ellie really wasn’t going to be fit to return to nursery today, Paul and I split the task of staying at home with Ellie between us.

This led to the interesting verbal ‘diary’ game, half asleep at 6.30 am.
“What have you got on this morning at work?”
“Team meeting”
“I’ve got a student’s direct observation and a meeting with my manager – I trump that”
“OK – what have you got on this afternoon?”
“Team meeting – and I’m chairing it”
“I’ve got a mental health review tribunal – that beats team meeting, even with chairing”.

Thus the cunning plan of swapping cars at Paul’s work car park at 12.20pm, with sleeping Ellie in the back, was hatched.

Which worked really well – except that when I got into Paul’s car it wouldn’t start! So I called him to come back, intending to take the keys for the other car and leave him to deal with the AA/RAC person at the end of the day. Of course, cars being what they are, it started as soon as he turned the key!