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!

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Sometimes I feel like the world is moving faster than I can comprehend. Most of the time this isn't a problem - I'm quite happy being an insular person spending time on the things that I know and care about and not paying too much attention to the ever changing, other things around me. Perhaps that is why I've taken so long in getting around to having a blog, when for many of my friends it's an integral part of the way they conduct their social lives.

I'm starting to realise that this turns into a self-perpetuating situation. I don't use the internet every day (really... some people don't! In fact only 10% of the world population have ever used a computer). Since I use it intermittently, I don't have broadband. So I tend not to spend hours on the net finding out how to use new technology. So I ignore the new technology... and remain happy in my non-broadband world.

Starting this blog has shifted my technological equilibrium. Now, I'm wanting to post entries. More than that, I'm wanting to emulate those other lovely blogs which have links and pictures. Luckily for me, I'm staying with my parents and sister for the weekend. This has many many benefits (more adults to child ratio, someone else planning and cooking meals... I could go on and on). Usefully for this blog however they also have broadband which, combined with the childcare factor, means that I have learnt to how to post a picture - as you can see from the lovely image of Paul and Ellie.

It's a good thing to learn and do new things. I should remember that and do it more often.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

3 good things beginning with S.

Today has been one of those days when small but good things have happened, and until now I’ve not even spared a thought for what might be happening at work.

First Ellie and I went swimming – not just ordinary swimming, but the first swim of the year in the re-opened outdoor pool. I’ll acknowledge a moment’s anxiety about the environmental impact of heating all that water - for it only to turn into steam in the freezing cold air. The anxiety, however, was quickly outweighed by the sheer joy of swimming in the open air. Swimming outside instantly makes me feel like I’m on holiday; with all the sense of well-being and relaxation which usually accompanies that. Luckily, Ellie also enjoyed it and was visibly and audibly happy – which stemmed my fear of being a poor mother by taking her out into the freezing cold air in only a swim nappy and swim suit!

Following swimming and lunch, Ellie had a sleep. For many children this would not be significant, but Ellie and I have had a running battle over a) sleeping for more than 40 minutes in the middle of the day and b) sleeping in her own bed without me. Last week, I won to the extent that for 2 of the 4 days she was at home she had a nap in her own bed after only 30-40 minutes of crying and protestation. Of course, what happened 4 days ago is no indication of what would happen today. The swim had obviously worn her out though as today after only 10 minutes of sobbing she slept for 2.5 hours! (Which is the longest I’ve EVER known her sleep during the day when she’s not ill).

Finally we went shopping which could so easily have been a stressful thing. Ellie was charming to all the passing “people”, she helped find things in the shop, and put them in the trolley, and then put them on the checkout. And for not the first time, I was struck by how helpful the checkout staff are – little things, like waiting until I’ve got most of the trolley unloaded before starting to scan the items, chatting to Ellie, and not batting an eye at the half opened, half chewed pack of tomatoes that Ellie had taken a fancy to whilst shopping.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's felt rather voyeuristic looking at other people's blogs; but also enjoyable, interesting and thought-provoking. Maybe it's time to have one of my own. Although how much I'll write is another matter, after all it's just another thing to fit into a schedule which always feels fuller than is comfortable.

I'm stealing a few moments to write this, at the 'pivot' of my week. Once upon a time, work ended on a Friday and then the alter-life of the weekend started. Now I work Mon - Wed, this time on a Wednesday evening is the changing point from busy working woman, to concentrating on being a mother, spending time with my child. That's not to say that I don't ever work in the second half of the week, or that I don't spend time with my child earlier in the week, but the balance changes. And at the moment, it's a good balance and working really well for me.

But somehow, it's always a struggle to fit it all in!