Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Last night, when I was writing about my reasons for blogging, I wrote that I get lonely sometimes. Then I went back and changed it to "needed company" instead. Now why did I do that? (No, Mum, you do not need to hop on a plane and come back immediately!) It bothered me that I wanted to edit out what I felt. It still does. It is all about those walls we erect to protect ourselves, isn't it. But from what? I don't have the answer to that either. And then there is the subtle difference between being alone and being lonely. You can be very lonely in the midst of a crowd sometimes. And sometimes, you just want to be alone.

You know how sometimes you seem to be observing life, rather than being there? That is what it feels like at times. I am there in body, but my mind feels like it is on another plain just watching life happen. Detached. That is the word. Apart. Sometimes I feel detached from reality. And that is when I do more. Keep moving. Keep busy. Whatever you do, don't give yourself time to think. And yes, I know this is not healthy, but it is working at the moment. Sometimes I am just bone weary. Nothing left to give. Sometimes my head just hurts. Sometimes I need to be alone. I sit and watch tv and don't hear or see a thing. My mind is in a million places. Sometimes, I just can't cope with crowds. Sometimes, I want to be in crowds and anonymous.

I don't know whether I will post this or not. This is the other side of me. I am as human as any of you are, and there is a very private part of me that is not for public display. Sometimes, though, I need to be honest about how I feel.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

5 Reasons why I blog

  1. I write for my friends and family. Initially, it was just for them, and then I started wandering around and discovered more people who have become my friends too, and so in a way, my blogging has altered a little. But essentially, I suppose, I blog for me. Because I want to.
  2. I blog because it makes me smile. I love reading and this is a way to interact with the authors and characters in a book in a sense. I mean, just think.... here we are, adding comments as we read "stories". How fascinating is that! We are part of the "book".
  3. I blog because sometimes I need company . And there are people out there.
  4. I blog because I love learning, and this is a way to learn about different lives and countries, traditions etc, and have some challenging thoughts tossed at me to think about. And all I have to do is say I don't know how to do something and in a flash, I get a response.
  5. I blog because it is an outlet for all the things swirling about in my head. I used, for years, to just write them on the computer, or in notebooks. Now I have another forum to use, and it actually responds, in the form of comments.

We all have our own reasons for blogging. Mine are quite simple. It gives me an enormous amount of pleasure, and it can make a difference. Together, the blogging community can do amazing things, and we have seen this happen. We can shriek with laughter, wince in pain, and our hearts can ache for each other. It is great. I am not in the least bit bothered about how many people may read what I say. I don't blog for prizes. It works for me.

Well, technically that is a lot more than 5. I just didn't add numbers to the rest!

Monday, February 26, 2007

A year ago

Today, I am thankful for:
  1. Sleep
  2. Time to relax
  3. Warm home
  4. Chat with my daughter
  5. Powerpoint conquered

And lovely messages from friends who worry about me. Year 10 girls who were stars today, a son who cheerfully unpacks the dishwasher, the prospect of an early night. Lots of little things. They matter.

Tomorrow it will be a year since Geoff's first heart op. A year. It seems like a life time sometimes, and just a blink of time at others. How life has changed in that year. I never for a second considerd the possibility that he might die. He only lived another 4 months. It seems so unreal still. If I could have looked down the tunnel of time a year ago, there is no way on earth I could have envisaged my life as it is today. And thank heavens I am not given to speculation about the future, because I do not want to begin to think about where next year will see us all. The past year has been a rollercoaster of epic proportions.

The one thing I am sure of though, is that the love of family and special friends will continue to be as steadfast as it has always been. Wobbly times are allowed.

So, a year on from back then, just 365 days ago, what is this family's "State of Nation"? Andrew and Ann are happy, settled and working hard. My son has matured into a very special and caring man. I am so proud of him. Diana is settled and happy in New Zealand, and living her life to the full, and likewise, I am so proud of her too. And David is here, and has also matured beyond recognition, into a gentle, happy young man, with his whole life ahead of him. Proud of him? Oh yes.

And me? Teaching full time, being a Mum, daughter, sister, friend. Facing decisions about initiating a lawsuit, inquests, juggling finances, and just managing one day at a time. Housegroup, church, book club and allotment. Books, blogging, emails and long baths. (Drowning books in those baths on a regular basis.) Older. Greyer. Wiser. Quieter. More introspective.

Different. Very different.

And faith? Immeasurably greater. Stronger. Nearer. Refined by fire.

This is not a sad post. I am not sad tonight. Weary. But grateful we have all got this far, and hoping that serenity is not an impossible dream.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saturday tea

It is now late afternoon, and we have just had a stream of visitors for tea. Unexpectedly. This is the perfect way to forget a seriously foul day. Jean arrived first, followed by Pete and Glynis, and then the babes (all 3 of them) and their parents arrived too, and we sat around eating fruit cake and drinking tea, while the rugby was on the the background. The men were a trifle distracted. I love people popping in, and this was perfect timing indeed. I would post a photo, but I don't know how to black out the babes' faces. This time they actually looked at the camera, which is great for me, but I never post pictures of other people's children with faces that are clearly visible.

Anyway, it was a time to smile, and chatter, and just enjoy some special people. Thanks so much for your comments. I was asleep by 8.30 and only woke at 8 this morning.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Why can I think of a zillion fascinating and enthralling subjects to write about when I am in the car, working or otherwise occupied in any number of ways, and then when I sit down ready to amaze you all with my literary expertise, pearls of wisdom etc, my mind goes blank, and my fingers freeze? I cannot tell you how many days this happens, and I prattle on instead about mindless trivia which bore me, never mind my friends. A friend has one of those computers which has voice recognition. That is what I need. I could whizz down the motorways, dictating to my computer when the muse strikes. It could sit next to me in a companionable manner, wearing a seatbelt of course. Taking notes. I think blogger should have a word list to trigger inspiration on the posting page. That would help.

I made felt today. I haven't done that before, and I can really recommend you try it. And the colours of fleece are stunning, and it is so soft and wonderful to touch. I wanted to rush out immediately and order every colour under the sun for school, but then stopped to think what my kids would do with it. Water is required. Water and my kids are not a potentially good mix. Water fights spring to mind. I do not need water fights. Sigh. I would love to teach them how to make felt. (Well, what I really want is to have all that fleece to play with.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Start of a new term

Back to school we go...... David started today and I had a training day. The best part of training days is that you get a cooked breakfast thrown in. That you have not had to cook yourself. I did mention that it takes very little to excite me, didn't I? One of the highlights of the day was that I actually spent 3/4 of an hour sharpening all the pencil crayons in my class pencil crayon box. I mean, really... not one pencil was usable, which would have meant wandering little angels all searching for illusive sharpeners, pausing to chat about their holiday to friends, which would have meant no-one listening to me, Which would have meant no-one doing any work, which would have meant me getting slightly irritated, which would not have been a "positive outcome". Good grief, I am beginning to speak in the school paperwork lingo. I am doomed. But I do have pointy pencil crayons.

So, my news from the weekend is that the prepared lesson plan count is now up to 28. I went to church and that was really good, but apart from that, it was me and lesson plans. I need a life.
Tomorrow I teach for the first period and then I am off to observe classes at another school. It is in a town nearby, but I have never been there before. I don't think it is huge, and I have no idea where the school is, but I am sure I will find it. I am a woman. I will stop and ask. Or I could just look on the internet, of course. Hold on a sec. Found it. I am a genius.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturdays should not be like this

10 hours of work
6 teaching schemes written
7 lesson plans sorted
Sore head
41 lesson plans to go
Back to school on Monday

(Well, to be honest, I don't have to have all 48 done this week, I just wanted to plan ahead as much as I could.)


2D design conquered
School paraphenalia bought

So what happened to my holiday?

Friday, February 16, 2007

For Sandy

Sandy, I am posting this for you because I think maybe it works better as an analogy right now. The same wise friend also told me to see myself as an urn, (and I have posted the picture so you know what I am talking about!) and instead of water, visualise it filled with plus and negative signs. All day long, as a Mum, you turn on the tap and give out plus signs to everyone.... your kids, family, friends, everyone. Every time you smile, there goes another plus. Nothing wrong with that at all, but there comes a time each day, when they are all gone. For some of us, that could be at 6pm especially if you have babes, and for some it could be at night. Some in the morning. And we all know what happens when we only spew out negatives.

So what I am trying to say very inadequately, is that we have to put plusses back in. They need constant topping up. The balance needs to be right. And this could be by taking time for yourself. For doing something you love. It could be hearing your babes say how much they love you. Or a hug from a friend. Or taking out that card and reading it again. Or going to a movie. Being gentle with yourself. Being you. Just you. And not feeling guilty about putting yourself first for a little while.

I hope this makes sense to you. And this ferris wheel works without a rim.

Play days

Play days are over-rated. I tried, I really did, to avoid all things work related. But I failed. You can't switch off your mind.

My day started with an exciting trip to Waitrose. This is the top of the range type of classy supermarket. My mother LOVES Waitrose. I was born to shop there, but unfortunately, my continual failure to win the lotto precludes this. And they have the best coffee shop, but I didn't stop. Ladies who lunch sit and have their coffee. It is the type of supermarket you change clothes to visit. Well, I never do really, but I do feel as though I should dress up. So you can see that this was exciting, of course. I swished around the aisles in peace, tossing things I don't normally buy into my trolley. This is play day so I feel justified. It is truely tragic that it takes so little to excite me. I bought daffodils, to remind me that spring is on the way.

I have not been near any real shops for months, so it was a treat to go to Hobbycraft and look for stuff for school. (I told you I could not escape work.) And then, after buying beads, needles, ribbon and cards for my classes, I breezed around our book shop and DID NOT BUY A BOOK. I looked. I wanted something to read, but nothing leapt off the shelves and shrieked Buy Me. So I went to look for ribbon for school. Didn't find any, but did get pencils for my classes. The kids never have their own and I am tired of trying to find random bits of writing equipment while I am teaching. Do you notice how much of my play day was devoted to school things? Good.

Meanwhile, our village was having a series of powercuts, the electricity was going on and off at home, so David had to phone and tell me all about this. He was irritated by the computer game he was playing. I stopped to have coffee with a friend, talked about school of course, and then came home. Feeling vaguely dissatisfied in a weird way. I have forgotten how to play. I don't know how to switch off. I still spent all the time I was out worrying about the work still to be done, and finding it very hard to spend any money on myself without massive guilt. I didn't make the hair appointment. I should have gone to a movie or for a walk somewhere, but it wasn't something I felt like doing either a) in the rain or b) alone.

I bought chocolate. (Yes, MG, I can share) and a £1 DVD. I have no idea what it is about because I didn't have my glasses with me so couldn't read the blurb, but it stars Nicole Kidman so that is fine. £1 I can cope with. Now if I could just find out how to work the DVD player, I might watch it. (This is the DVD player that has been in this house for 4 years. I have never known how to start the wretched thing and I will NOT go and ask the son who is the fount of all techno-knowledge. It is too humiliating.) So I will sit and sigh dramatically in the rocker and eat that chocolate. I need to remember how to play.

I did find the most hysterical card though and it seems to sum up my life and hair crisis. So here it is so you can share the amusement.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Work is taking over my house

My floor is covered with papers from lesson planning. There are no seats uncluttered. My brain is fried, and this is seriously hard work. Tori, a friend and fellow staff member from school came round this morning and we started on our year 10 syllabus, and by the time she left it was nearly 4, and I thought it was about 1. Sigh. And I still have the Years 7, 8 and 9 teaching schemes to do never mind the lesson plans. I might have been a trifle optimistic when I thought I could do the whole of the next half term now.

But, tomorrow is play day, I have declared. I am doing NO work. I am going out to play. Do not ask me what I will be doing but it will be frivolous and deeply un-meaningful. And it will involve coffee at a place other than home. And maybe a shop. Or 2.

I may even put a paperbag over my head and go and make a hair appointment. It is a year, after all, since the highlights were done. But the appointment will no doubt be for 3 months hence (nice word, that), given that good hairdressers are notoriously hard to find. I can live with that. It will be enough of a shock to make the appointment. And I can use the 3 months to save for the exorbitant amount of money they will no doubt charge me to restore my hair to some vaguely youthful look. I may even cut it this time. It is below my shoulderblades at the moment, and it has NEVER been this long. I wear it up most of the time, unless I want the Wild Woman from Borneo look. That is rare. Maybe now is the time for a complete change of image.

Right. I am now going to wade through all those papers and go and make more coffee and watch Criminal Minds. And look for chocolate.


I am reading quite a bit about tired Mums at the moment. Mums who are wondering whether they are getting it right. Mums who don't find it easy in February to sustain the enthusiasm they might in other brighter months. Mothers who adore their children and husbands and are trying to be all things to all people and running out of steam.

Those of us who are a little older, will recognise this well. It happens to each and every one of us. All the time. The guilt about wanting a little time for ourselves now and then? Oh yes. The shriek rising up inside of us that wants the fact that you are still a PERSON not just a mother to be recognised? Ditto. If your child needs shoes and you need new foundation, what do you buy? Of course. If your teenager needs new clothes and your jumper is washed out and drab, what do you buy? If you want to flop on the sofa with a book, and little Johnny needs to go to football practice, what do you do? If your daughter needs a lift home at midnight, do you stay in bed? I don't think so. I used to dream of having an hour of silence in my home. Just an hour alone. And it rarely happened.

The moment you get married, you shift yourself into second place. Then the babes arrive and you slip down the list. I have yet to meet a mother, a good mother, who didn't put her family, and probably the dog, ahead of her needs. And the cat. The canary and probably the guinea pigs too. And the house. Don't forget the house. A new boiler, or a weekend away?

This is not about sacrifice. This is about real life. It is not about judgement. Balancing acts. Mary at Owlhaven is talking about balancing acts this morning. Finding time to be herself. A mother, a wife, a teacher, a friend, daughter and yet still very much a woman. A person in her own right.

I remember going to a funeral a few years back, and listening to the eulogy for a relatively young man, who was in his 30s when he died from motor neurone disease. I listened to all the things he had achieved, and sat there and wondered what on earth people would find to say about me. "She was a mother. She had 3 great kids. She was a friend. A daughter. A wife. But, hey, she didn't move mountains or achieve anything very much, did she. Just think of what she could have done. She could have written a book, been a CEO of a company, been a doctor and healed thousands, etc etc etc. But she was just an ordinary woman. What a waste of her education". Hmmmm. I was feeling very inadequate back then. Never enough. Never realised her potential. You get the picture.

This was also the time when I had one very angry young son, who hurled insults with gay abandon. (May I just point out that he was a teenager, and grew out of the horrendous phase long ago, and is an absolute delight to his mother now!) He used to yell that I was nothing, and had achieved nothing and had wasted my life. I used to grin and say he would understand one day that I had made choices that I had never regretted, and they were MY choices thankyou verymuch and it wasn't his place to judge. I chose to have my children. I chose to stay home and raise them, and was fortunate enough to be able to do just that.

The feeling of guilt about taking time out for yourself never really goes away. It becomes so ingrained after years of raising children, that it becomes part of you. But, if you see your family as a wheel..... (this is a really good analogy a wise friend gave me years ago)...... the rim is the husband/father. The spokes are the children. The hub is the wife/mother. Now, the wheel is meant to turn. A wheel that does not work is useless. You go nowhere. If the rim is dented, it will still turn. If the spokes are broken or bashed, it will still turn. But if the hub is off-centre, nothing works. You go nowhere. In order for the wheel to function, the wife/mother needs to be centred. Happy. Valued. Worthwhile. Adequate. A real person.

So it is imperative for Mums to factor in time to be a woman. A person. And no, this does necessarily mean racing off to conquer career mountains. It means the feel-good factor has to be there. Taking time for a walk alone, or reading a book, or going to an exhibition, or visiting a friend. Taking time for doing something just for her each day, whatever it may be for each individual, keeps that hub on centre. It does not have to cost money. It has to do with taking time. Time is the one thing we give away each second of each day and can never get back. Time for daily devotionals is time spent as a woman alone in the presence of her God. Time that is well spent. This is good.

I love to go to bookshops. I love to pick up the books, read the backs, touch them. I don't have to buy them. I love looking at them. Wasted time? Maybe to some, but for me it is not. I think of all those people out there who finally did it, and wrote the book that was bursting out of them. I think about how they must feel to see it on the shelves in a bookshop. It makes me happy. So heading off to do the food shop after that is easier, when I am smiling. I hate doing foodshops.

Small things. All it takes is planning in some time for the small things. As your children grow up, there is more time, and yes, the guilt is still there, but crush it down, and take that time for yourself. Your kids will benefit from a having a happy mother. Your husband will benefit from having a wife who is happy. You will benefit from remembering that it is ok to do something for yourself. No one told you to be a martyr. No-one said it was imperative to be on hand 24/7 ( I can't believe I wrote 24/7... I HATE that). The world will not stop. You are allowed to be a person.

Remember that wheel.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Tonight is head massage night again. Perfect. I get to be the guinea pig, which suits me just fine. I can't think of anything better, after another day of phone calls and paperwork. I am having one of those days where I write and then delete it all straight away. Repeatedly.


I will write about something that makes me smile. Someone.

I have one sister. She is 2 years younger than me, and was not a blessing when she was young. She was the baby. I remember being absolutely mortified when she started school, and sat on a bee, and the school secretary brought her to me to comfort. Sisterly love was not an option. She was super bright, and won prizes and excelled at everything quite effortlessly. Sigh. It was a trial.

Our lives were very different when we grew up. We both went to university, and then I got married the year after I graduated, and had my babes soon after. She started teaching, and was the most glamourous maths teacher around town. Those were the days of high heels and big shoulders, a la Dynasty. The contrast with stay at home mum in jeans could not have been more marked. And strangely, I was the one who felt the difference, not her. She always saw me as her big sister. I think I was the one with "attitude". Yes, I was indeed.

Don't get me wrong, I was doing exactly what I chose to do, but she was a reminder of the "other" world out there. She has always adored my kids, and been a very involved aunt, but we didn't have a great deal in common, back then. Our lives were very different. Mine revolved around liftclubs and football and rugby matches, judo and swimming galas, and school homework. She travelled around the world, had a beautiful home, and a sunshine personality to top it all. Sunday's child personified.

We both left South Africa at the same time. She to live in Switzerland with her husband, and me to move here with my family, and suddenly our family was in 3 different countries. In a sense, when she married Peter, it was the start of a relationship for us as sisters as well. Over the years, we have supported each other, flown back and forth for crises, celebrations and holidays. We were both around to support Mum when Dad was diagnosed with Lewey body disease, and we were both there to pack up our parents' home when they had to stay here in England.

We taught David to ski when he was a toddler, by watching the Swiss mums.... our version was one stand at the top of the hill and push him down, and one catch him at the bottom. It worked! He learnt to ski. She is multitalented, and has the most beautiful of homes. She sews, she does amazing woodwork, she has a lovely garden, she "bastels", as she says. Her English is now a mixture of swiss-german and idiomatic english, which has me falling about laughing at times. I now have to check her English translations for her just in case she has used bizarre words. She moves at the speed of light, and is never still.

She scrapbooks, has dolls houses, collects all kinds of things, and can spot a bargain at 40 paces. She can also pull some shapeless thing off a sale rack and look like she is a movie star. You can see what I have to put up with, can't you? She adores her husband, loves her dog, works unbelievably hard, and always has a smile ready. Wonderwoman. When she visits me, I trail around behind her carrying her parcels as she whizzes through the bargain shops finding things to brighten up someone's life which I would never spot. She has imagination and vison. She doesn't cook though, so it is very fortunate that she married a master chef. She will never live down the Christmas when she phoned me to ask which part of the egg was the yolk, when she tried making pastry for mince pies. In true sisterly fashion, I remind her every year. Without fail.

She is the one I went to last summer. I needed to be with family. The fact that Mum was there too meant that there was nowhere else I would choose to be. With my family. She gave me time and space. This is what sisters are for.

The older we get, the more alike we become. We grew up in the same home, and so much of who we are is the maturing of a common history and genes. Good ones. We have the same sense of humour, and outrage too. We are family in the best of ways. I am there if she needs me, and she is here when I need her. We sense things in each other. We see what no-one else sees. Beneath the surface. We also yell at each other when we need to. And say when we don't agree as well. In the end, your family is the most precious of gifts. We have been very lucky. We had the best of parents, and ultimately we discovered we each had the best of sisters too.

Over the years, we have argued, talked, laughed and cried together. We have become the closest of friends. I would trust her with my life, and love her to bits.

She is more than a friend.

She is my sister.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Before I forget, my daughter-in-law has been bitten by the blogging bug, and has started writing, so go on over and say hello! Hungry Hippo is her place.

I am sitting here with the phone tucked under my chin, plowing through all the paperwork, doing very unexciting bits and pieces, and chasing reports which never come, and my head hurts. I want to be doing exciting things. New things. I am in a blue funk today and I don't like it. Reading some of my favourite blogs is a way to distract myself from lists of solicitors I need to check out. I don't want to be doing this.

So, what are my 5 things I am thankful for today? This is an effort to snap out of it...
  1. My daughter has had a super birthday
  2. I am about to have a tutorial in 2D design from a young friend
  3. Coffee
  4. Quiet
  5. The sun is trying to shine

Monday, February 12, 2007

My daughter's birthday

Tomorrow, my daughter will be 20mumble. That is how she put it, anyway. 26, if you are her mother and remember every minute of that morning in technicolour. With sound too. How can those years have flashed by so quickly? I am amazed when I look at the figures, and realise that I was her age when she was born. She is now exactly half my age. Or rather, I am double hers.

I remember going to see my obstetrician for a check up the day before, and although she was only due on the 23rd, he asked if I was ready to have my baby. Yes, I said, of course. Any day except tomorrow. It was going to be Friday 13th. You can guess what happened. Midnight. As soon as it was Friday 13th, I went into labour. Of course.
Now, you have to remember that Geoff was away when I had Andrew, so this was his first experience of childbirth. He was running about like a demented flea, and when we got to the hospital, he flew through the doors, and I waddled after him, "breathing". As I walked through the revolving doorway, I suddenly remembered every minute of Andrew's birth, so I kept going and headed out again, and was on the way back to the car when he came flying out to find me. "Where do you think you are going?" he yelled. "Home", I replied. "I have just remembered it all, and I have changed my mind". Yes, well. He had just come face to face with rational woman. In her prime.

My finest moment. Well, Geoff learned a lot about rational woman that morning. I was sick with every contraction, and in the end, just leaned over the bed and did what I had to do. Little men were scurrying about mopping. I refused to wear anything at all, to everyone's consternation, but you tried to reason with me at your peril. A woman in the final stages of labour? I don't think so. The Queen could have entered the room, and I would not have changed my mind. And in the end, I remember whining (loudly) that they should just slit me open then and there, forget the anaesthetic, and GET THAT BABY OUT. As I said.... I was a star. Restrained and dignified. Serene, even. Everyone ignored me, and she arrived the way nature intended. Perfect, of course. And worth every second of it.

So, my daughter was born. 20mumble years ago. She trailed after her big brother, dragging her beloved blanket with her, refused to wear dresses, (I told her her one dress was a long sweatshirt) ,climbed trees, loved care bears, and looked just like Annie, with her long red ringlets. She nearly drowned when she leapt into the deep end of the pool when she was 3, but learnt to swim like a fish soon after.

She made friends easily, loved school, worked hard, was a star when her little brother was born 8 years later, and she has a grin that lights up the world. She has travelled that world, in her Gap year, gone to London to university, and has worked for the church here in the UK, and now in New Zealand. She has built a wonderful life in a place where she knew no-one initially. She has listened when God has revealed His plans to her, and has gone where He needed her to go. She is living the life He always intended her to lead, and as her Mum, I sit here and watch, and cheer her on as well as I can. I am in awe of her strength and her faith.

When you meet my daughter, you can't help but smile. She is unique, very special, and quite obviously, the best daughter in the world. Mine. She loves her brothers (now - that wasn't always the case! Contrary to public opinion, they were never little angels), and they are all very close, which is yet another reason to smile. Just don't let them play Risk. Ever. She has been the most amazing support to me, and to all the family as we have clawed our way through the harsh times, both with my Dad 7 years ago and then with her Dad 7 months ago. She brings a vibrancy and energy with her, and nothing is quiet when she is around.

As a geographer, she has climbed glaciers, been up a volcano, seen bubbling mud, and felt an earthquake. She has had her dissertation on Climate Change published, and now she is the Pied Piper to a community of children who adore her. She is artistic and intelligent, full of laughter and life, and yet has a hidden side which is quiet and introspective, reflective. She is only 20mumble, and yet she has crammed so much into those years. Heaven knows what comes next! I miss her. We all do. Thank heavens for technological advances. And finally, we know now that we are going to fly out to spend a holiday with her later this year. All of us. Her brothers, sister-in-law, and her Mum. I am not sure whether New Zealand is ready for the mass invasion.
Please note that I have edited out all lapses and irritations. I am her mother. It is allowed. She is as human as we all are. It is her birthday. Those can wait for another day!

I am, simply, so proud of my daughter. So, Happy Birthday, Diana! We love you loads and loads. MD.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Whirlwind weekend

Flopping in the rocking chair snoozing one weekend, and the next trying to go for a world record in activities. Sigh. When will I be of an age to think of balance and moderation? Never, I fear. But it has been a good weekend.

Murder mystery on Friday and zooming all over the place doing the errands I never got around to on Saturday, including having coffee at our monthly Traidcraft morning (and delicious walnut cake).
Then Saturday night was a dinner to celebrate our 150th bookclub meeting. 15 years, 1180 books, and still largely the same group of girls. Some have moved away, but essentially we have stayed together.

We drew up a short list of the books we have enjoyed the most over the years, and we voted on Saturday. There were 2 winners, and perhaps fittingly, one was an old one, and one was a relatively new one. Both are exceptional books for very different reasons.

The old one was Wild Swans - Jung Chang

The new one was Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

So if you haven't read them, this is an excellent reference! And we had a great time, with wonderful food, although the service was close to appalling. The older we get, the more these things are noticed!

Today, David and I set off north, to Briarfield in the hills of North Lancashire to see Geoff's sister, and to meet her son. Briarfield, an old mill town, is north of Manchester, and it took us 2 and a half hours to get there. We all went out to lunch at a local restaurant. Stephen has a form of autism, and was visiting his Mum today with his carers, so it was lovely to be there at the same time. So, after an afternoon catching up, looking at photos and visiting a friend, we drove back south. I am ready to flop again. Adventures, however brief, are exhausting!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Murder mystery night

Everyone should round off a school term with a good murder mystery evening. I had the dubious honour of being Paddy O' Lay. An Irish gambler. A male Irish gambler who bets on horses. This necessitated a visit to the shop to buy the Racing Post, a paper I have so far never felt it essential to buy. So, wearing a tweed jacket, tweed hat, with my hair tucked into it, brown trousers, binoculars (for spotting the horses) and the Racing Post tucked fetchingly under my arm, I arrived for the murder mystery, singing "Ireland Oh Ireland, together standing tall" loudly at the front door. (For those not in the know, this is the very stirring song played before Ireland plays any rugby international. I love it. It is also the ONLY Irish song I could muster at that moment.) Sadly, I do not have a photo of Paddy. You will have to use your imagination.

"Top o' the morning to ya" was the only Oirish accent I could come up with so I repeated that ad nauseum. But how we laughed. You arrive in character, and the entire evening you stay in character. Well, until the murderer is discovered. I am happy to report that I was innocent. Simon, Jackie and Jean had done a splendid job of decorating with signs and notices, and the dinner was quite splendid too. Please note the details. We even had a drinks trolley.

We were stuck in a snow drift on a train in 1925, after all, in the First Class carriage. Of course there was a drinks trolley.

These evenings are a lot of fun, and as there were 6 teachers there, it was all the more reason to relax. Holidays are here!

I waited to see if the schools were closing again yesterday before heading off to work, and many did, but not ours. However, less than half the kids turned up for school, and they were the ones who are generally "good" and who want to work, so it was a lovely day working with co-operative pupils. Oh if only it was always like that!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

And more....

A couple more photos from the village square.

Something to make you smile. There was a survey done which was mentioned on the news this morning, about division of labour in the home. Apparently, in an average life span, a woman in Britain will vacuum the house for the equivalent of London to New York return. 7,000+ miles. A man will do the equivalent of Lands End to John O' Groats. About 800+ miles. I can't remember the exact figures, but you can get the picture.
As I find just about anything more appealing than housework, I think I could fail on the 7000+ estimate. Maybe I sank somewhere in the Atlantic.

SNOW Day!!!

At 5am there was no snow. At 6.30, everywhere was white, and David and I tuned in to the radio and TV to hear whether schools were closed. I had a call first to say my school was closed and then David heard his was on the radio. I had already seen that our local bus company was stating that the busses were "sliding" in the snow, and the thought of sending my son off on a double decker bus across the countryside to the town where his school is was out of the question. He was very happy....his holiday started a day early!

Mid-morning, I put on the snow boots and wandered down to the village, and stopped at the babes to play. They built snowmen with some friends, and had a wonderful time with the sled in the garden, and then we all had a snowball fight. A hot drink and flapjacks later, I booted up again, and walked, or slid, rather, down the hill to the village centre.

Here you can see the centre of the village with the war memorial.

And here is the church. It was lovely crunching through the snow in the churchyard. No-one had walked on it before me. I love the sound it makes.

On then to the field at the outskirts of the village, where traditionally, all the children (and a lot of adults too!) go to go sledding. The local farmer doesn't mind at all.

And then I walked home. And I snoozed in the rocker. It has snowed most of the day, and now it is going to freeze over night. Tomorrow is the last day of school, and I am thinking that there could be a chance it is closed again. I think some children may decide that they are already on holiday! Sigh. This has been a gift of a day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Let it snow.....please!

It is going to snow. The excitement mounts. Tomorrow is the last day of school before half term holidays for David, so he is really hoping it snows. Everything stops then. We are on snow watch for our school too, and hopefully I could have a day at home in the warmth. Maybe! My sister shrieks with laughter at what one small snowfall does to the UK. Living in Switzerland, things are slightly different there. Snow is normal. Here it is so abnormal now that nothing works. I don't think there is a snow plough within a couple of hundred miles.

My friend, Glynis, is doing a head massaging course at the moment, and as she needed someone to practice on, I volunteered. Tonight she came round, and I was a very willing guinea pig. VERY willing. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to have a head massage. And she will come once a week for the next 2 weeks as well, as part of her training. I can live with that. Oh yes, I can.

Don't you just love the massage you have at the hairdresser when you have your hair shampooed? I think that is the best part of going to the hairdresser. The head massage. I could fall asleep quite happily, totally relaxed. That reminds me, I really do need to do something about making an appointment in the very near future. Another urgent necessity. It is looking very tired indeed. The hair.

This is a totally inane post. School is good. Kids still coming in at lunch to sew. Did I mention that one little toad took one of my very expensive embroidery threads and wound it round the art block? Orange thread? That we needed and can't replace? I was less than thrilled, and they were quivering once I had read the riot act. And you have no idea how far a reel of thread can go and how annoyed teachers get when they trip over bunches of it, and get it caught in their shoes, and then drag it along as they walk, collecting sweet wrappers, leaves and chewing gum as the go. And WHO do they hold responsible? Yes. Clearly, there is only one textiles teacher in the school, and that would be me. Last week, one of them thought it would be great fun to wind a huge reel around the senior teachers' cars in the car park. That was definitely not a good idea. I will have to resort to body searches as they leave the classroom one of these days.

-6 Degrees C

It is -6 outside. I know this because I have just taken David to the bus stop, and it took 10 mins to defrost the car. I look like a polar bear and have lost all contact with my fingers. We should have snow later.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Freezing out

It is absolutely freezing outside at the moment. The car iced up in just 2 and a half hours. I have just come home from book club. Our 150th meeting. We are all celebrating by going out for a meal on Saturday, and that is when we will do our vote on the best books we have read in those 150 meetings. The short list is long. Well, about 30-40 books. But if you think that there are well over 1000 in "The Book", then that is doing well. You will get the top ten on Sunday and then the top 3. And of course, our winner too.

Teaching today was fun. I had a ball, and I think the kids did too. So now I have met everyone I am teaching, and we are beginning to understand each other. Like the fact that I call the shots. However, a senior teacher was laughing when he told me it might be wise to get one of the kids to tell me when we were 10 minutes from the end of the lesson, as we all got so involved that we were late finishing and clearing up. Yes, indeed. I have 17 coming in tomorrow at lunch to finish making their bags. I think that is quite a good sign, as they are all volunteers, or rather, they all begged. AND I collected the laptop after school. Unfortunately I was in a rush, and completely forgot to ask the tech man how to log in away from school. Sigh. I will have to go back and find out tomorrow. Absolutely useless piece of metal when I can't get into it at all.

It appears that my year 7s (about 11-12 years old) have never used the sewing machines before. I refer to the pedal as an accelerator with my little boys. A stroke of genius, I feel. They tend to like sewing once they are called "boy racers". Unfortunately they did not get the concept of "steering" the material either. And here I was thinking they all knew what to do after 6 weeks. Do you know what happens when all the machines seize up in 2 minutes all at the same time? Chaos. Shrieks of outrage. They didn't know that the foot had to be lowered. I did my road runner impression as I zapped between the machines, hair falling down, hacking the tangled thread out of the bobbin casings, and one little cherub said..." Miss, you never stop moving". I think I am going to wear one of those pedometer things next term to see how many miles I do in a day. Or buy those shoes with wheels in them. Then collapse in a darkened room with a cold cloth over my eyes.

I wear anything with large pockets to work, so that the lethal things, like my scissors and roller cutters are never out for them to play with, and I see today that I now have a 2 inch slit in said pocket, so the scissors now dangle out of the bottom, attempting to carry out minor or major surgery on my legs as I walk. This is a trifle inconvenient, as the pockets also house my board markers, pens, pencils, extra bobbins, needles, thread and a zillion other essential items, which are now scattered through the school. Sigh. A fashion plate I am not.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sleepy weekend, or why I have nothing worthy of note to relate....

I have had a number of comments this weekend about the lack of updates. Good grief. I must be the equivalent of the local newspaper. I would love, at this stage, to report that I have had a wild and wonderful weekend, but it was so quiet, watching grass grow would have been more exciting.

I think I have underestimated in a big way just how much I have drained my physical and emotional reserves in the past year. If I sit down for longer than a few minutes, I fall asleep, and that is what I have done most of the weekend, apart from venturing out briefly to get bread yesterday, and going to church and our monthly shared lunch today. Snoozing? I have got it down to a fine art. David actually woke me at 6.30 this evening asking plaintively if we were going to have any dinner today. Um, yes. Food. We do need food. I thought about it for a few minutes and was just drifting off again when my mother phoned and jolted me out of my nap. And this is the woman who never needs to sleep much. I am up late and awake early. I have never "napped" in my life, and have no desire to do so now. Just the body thinks otherwise. Sigh. And we have had beautiful weather too. Wasted on me, it was.


I can report that my house is a cobweb free zone at last. And I have finally managed to get the box with the Christmas tree out of my kitchen and back into the shed in the garden. We now have clean clothes and my hair is under control. Rivetting stuff, isn't it.

School was tough. Not easy to deal with the anger of the kids, who had no idea that their old teacher was leaving. No-one told them. That took the first part of every lesson to sort. Once we got going, it went well. I think. However, in one class, a group of girls refused to take any part in the lesson, so I ignored them, and got on with the others. A couple joined in when they saw what we were doing, but some did nothing. There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to make them listen if they won't. But that was just a small group. The rest of the classes were hectic. I seemed to be in perpetual motion. The kids were involved anyway, and busy. I have no idea how anyone would or could judge what it was like, but I think about 7/10 would be fair. It was not an unmitigated disaster. There were a few moments when I had serious doubts, but we got through that. And tomorrow is another day. I was talking to some of my teaching friends today at the shared lunch, and they think enthusiasm will go a long way. One offered me a job at an "easy"school! The teacher who left, by the way, is going back to America. She said she had never seen kids like this in all her teaching experience. The school I work at has an extraordinary number of special needs kids. I did say I like a challenge, didn't I? If I survive this, I can survive anything.

My laptop? Well, that is another story. Suffice to say that I have not got it yet. My excitement might have been a little premature. I live in hope. You know, teaching something like textile technology is not the same as teaching, say, Maths. In an academic class, the teacher stands in the front and teaches. In Textiles, I am controlling up to 25 kids moving about, working on 7 sewing machines, 4 computers, 2 embroidery machines, ironing, cutting out, printing designs on the sublimation printer, learning how to use pinking shears etc. All at the same time. I have to be everywhere all the time, especially when they can't re-thread the machines, or break a needle, or need help on the computer. The room rings to the sound of 20 odd voices yelling "MISS" "MISS" "MISS" all the time. (All teachers seem to be called Miss, by the way. Men are Sir. This is possibly because none of them ever remember a name, of course.) Anyone walking in would see chaos, but it is not really. Everyone knows what they are doing. Ah well, it will get easier. I hope. I still think that this is where I am supposed to be, and what I am supposed to be doing.

I did intend to write about something completely different, but my fingers ran away with themselves. And my brain is too tired to protest. So...... this will have to be the missive for today. I will be back tomorrow.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


My hair looks like I have just been through a tornado. My house is still in need of an extreme makeover, preferably by Boomama's mama. I have unearthed fabric from my stash to use at school, so that is tastefully heaped on the chair in the lounge. The washing machine looks as though it is about to spew excess unwashed laundry all over the floor. I am not sure exactly how many co-ordinating clean options I have to wear tomorrow. The fridge is looking rather empty. Order? Maybe not.

But guess what.............. tomorrow I GET MY LAPTOP. Moi. A laptop. Well, it is the school's really but who cares. Details. Mere details. It is mine for now. Me. I will have a computer to use when I want to. Not just when the son is finally squint from too many hours staring at the screen. Of course, his eyes gleamed when I told him it was arriving, but then I had to add..... but it is a work one, so only I can use it. In a mean and selfish manner. I may even dust the table next to my chair, so it doesn't get dirty. I am SO excited! Hopefully now I will be able to put all the mountain of papers I carry around all day onto it, and look less like a Sherpa ascending Everest when I move around the school. Or a bag lady. I can just sling the bag nonchalantly over my shoulder instead. Sigh. It does not take much to make me happy.

Today was a "light" teaching day at school, but tomorrow is a full one. Today was fine. I really enjoyed the older kids and their enthusiasm. I have been preparing lessons tonight in my rocking chair, and have worked out that technically I could do with a break between each class just to sort out all the supplies etc. This does not happen, of course. Lesson No 1 - make sure all equipment is set up and fabric sorted and supplies ready the day before. Sigh. It seems simple now. I even contemplated crawling back to school in the dark to do it this evening. I would however, have been arrested for trespassing, so I decided that I would just have to go in at dawn. I have lists. And lists of lists. Sub-lists of lists of lists. I will dream of lists. And laptops!

Laugh till you cry

I am starting the day howling with laughter. Go and read Boomama right now. And read the pillow talk one as well. I now have to go and redo the makeup.