Monday, 3 December 2012

The things the boys say......

At the weekend it was t'husband's birthday so we decided we would go out for a meal on Saturday night and Grandad was drafted in to babysit.

I called down the stairs late afternoon and asked t'husband where he fancied eating so I could book a table and Mini Man replied

MM: the pub is good to eat in you know

Me: Thanks for that Mini Man, did you hear that Daddy?

Daddy: I think we'll go into town, either the steakhouse or chinese

Later on that evening, I started cooking for the boys and Mini Man wonders into the kitchen

MM: Hang on, I thought we were eating in the pub

Me: No sweetheart Mummy and Daddy are going out and you will be with Grandad so I am cooking your tea

MM: Big tears at this point, folded arms and stroppy face 'well that is not fair at all, I always invite Daddy to my birthday parties'


This evening t'husband was sat at his computer which is behind the dining room table while the boys were finishing their tea and was looking at the news (if you call The Sun online news that is), and Little Man turned round as t'husband flicked past a picture of someone in a bikini and then the same person sat in a car, then on the beach, and Little Man suddenly said

'Whoooaaa, look at those ladies' blushed and started giggling.

I think the hormones maybe beginning to kick in!

For one day and one day only- a photo!

This will be brief!

I am so damned proud of myself for doing the boudoir shoot and also for how well the images turned out and it was a big slap in the face about how down on myself I have been, or rather that should be a massive confidence boost as even if I say so myself, I look good!! For anyone interested this post here tells why I decided to do the shoot and this post here is about the shoot on the day and how I felt.

 So for those of you who have been asking, here is one photo which I was going to only leave up for 24 hours (don't want it on permanently as told the hubby he is not allowed to share them so bit of pot and kettle black there and he might know about this blog!) but I will leave for a little longer.


Friday, 30 November 2012

God I feel grown up

In October 2010, I left a job in Medical Communications as a senior project manager which I really loved.

The only reason I left was due to us moving 200 miles up the M1 back North again and they were not prepared for me to work from home, well they were but it was a pretty rubbish deal - I would have to go freelance, the hourly rate they were willing to pay was pretty much the hourly rate I was on as an employee but without the paid pension, healthcare and holidays and they wanted me fully at their disposal, so I turned the offer down.

I thought I had set something up, working as a freelancer for a virtual medical communications agency. This would mean I was self employed but signed a contract with this new company who we will call Company B (for bastards). The alarm bells should have rung. I had my CV out for months before the move with recruitment agencies, and then I got a call one day to my office at work, which came through my assistant. I was out at the time so had this strange message that someone I had never heard of was trying to contact me. I rang the number and it was a manager with Company B who said they had been sent a copy of my CV by a recruitment consultant but didn't want to pay the recruitment agencies fees - their reasons were they had been sent 2 previous candidates in quick succession who had not worked out, the first one had only lasted 1 month, the 2nd they replaced him within less that 3 months, so they felt the agency owed them money and not the other way round.

I met with the managing director in a service station on the M25 (as you do), had a telephone interview as well and got offered a freelancer position. I would be on a set monthly amount which was pretty similar to my then employed salary, and although I was freelance, I could have 20 days of holiday which they would pay me for but this was not in the contract. A virtual agency is basically one which has no office base and all staff are freelance. I was given a blackberry and email account and started the week we moved. It was hell on earth. I was surrounded by boxes, no Internet connection so running off a dongle.

The demand on me was like nothing I had ever experienced. I would get phone calls at 7.45am and ask if I could ring them back as we were trying to get out to school, same on a night. Work deadlines were very tight - it was a nightmare and after 3 weeks I knew I had to find something else. Problem is where we now live is 80 miles from the nearest Med Comms agency and there is only 1 scientific company in the town. There is also Leeds and York so I started looking. 3 days after making this decision, I got a phone call in the morning from Company B and was basically sacked - first time for everything but it was such a relief to be honest. Some of the reasons they cited for me not working out were 'not being flexible enough and available when needed', 'not having childcare in place as the kids were often there when I was needed' Huh yes, at 7 bloody 45am or 8 at night. Well rid of them.

This was followed by 2 months of nothing, I had a couple of interviews but having been out of laboratories for 6 years it was hard to get back into them at the level of pay I wanted/needed, and my PhD was a bit useless as I was very specialised to research taking place in London.

Things started to get a little desperate and I was being told that I was over qualified to stack shelves in the supermarket on a night - seriously 'because they knew I wouldn't stay and would want to move on or progress within the company' - No actually, all I want is some extra money and I am willing to do anything (within reason of course), and a job which requires little thought was actually very appealing.

So January 2011, New year, new start, the experience with Company B had left me battered and bruised and destroyed a lot of confidence, but pick myself I had to do, and did, found a list of Med Comms companies in the UK and literally sent my CV and some writing examples out to 100's. One paid off and after another service station meeting in Nottingham, I started as a freelancer for another Med Comms agency. 2 years on I still get the majority of my work for them and love it. I do all school runs unless away at a meeting, I go to all school events, I help out weekly in school for an hour and half, I don't worry about doctors or hospital appointments, yes, i often work in the evenings and have even done all nighters but it is worth it. In the last 2 years I have been to Paris, Vancouver (and got upgraded to first class!!), Rome, Milan, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Frankfurt and Madrid as well as numerous meetings in London which I always tie in with an overnight stop with friends. Most of the places I have travelled to I have also had time to do a bit of sightseeing in as well. I don't get paid holiday or sick pay but I don't mind, my hourly rate more than covers those days off. I also do freelance work for my old company who approached me and agreed to pay just under my going rate but a lot more than they originally offered when I left, and I have had the odd job through those original CVs going out - in fact I have just replied to a potential job today to tide me over Christmas which is great.

Last year, I did my own tax return and to be fair cocked it up. This year I have employed an accountant - oh my god, I have my own accountant! This has shocked me. I still often have to pinch myself that I work for myself and successfully so as well. But to suddenly have a meeting with 'my accountant' really slammed that point home. Today she has sent me through my tax assessment and all my paperwork - this is really me. I am not so impressed with the £8,000 tax bill I have to pay in January or the fact I then also have to pay an extra 50% of that towards next years tax, parting with 12K is going to hurt badly but at least I have been sensible enough to be putting my tax aside. That's another thing, I suddenly have ISA's and stuff like that to keep my tax in - after 38 years, it has only just dawned on me that I am really quite grown up!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

Yeahhh 2 weeks in a row and I have found the time to take part in Reason's to be Cheerful!  Things are looking up!

So this week I am feeling very cheerful, suddenly things seemed to have turned a corner for me and my whole outlook on life is changing and for the better. I think there are a number of different reasons for this and each one is a reason to be cheerful in its own right so

  1. I admitted that I wasn't really on top of the world a while back and eventually saw the doctor who prescribed some mild antidepressants. I decided I should give them a go. I can look back now and realise just how unhappy and down I have been and didn't even realise it. But now I feel like a different person
  2. I also admitted I needed help with my marriage - this was more of a me problem and more than likely due to me feeling so low (although there was other stuff going on as well). So I rang Relate and set up some sessions. T'husband knew about these and even offered to come but I wanted to go alone. I finished the sessions last week. I didn't really like the woman I saw but I did like being able to 'talk' and just the whole mapping out my worries, my stresses and how I was feeling has really put things in perspective. Over the last 9 years t'husband and I have gone through hell (2 x premature births, child in Great Ormond St on life support, other child with heart condition and 3 threats of open heart surgery to come to terms with, strangulated hernias and emergency surgery, learning difficulties, behavioural problems, autism, ADHD, complicated 2nd pregnancy resulting in a 10 week hospital stay, emergency hysterectomy and 14 blood transfusions, ovarian cancer scare with them being whipped out and biopsied in the space of 2 weeks (my ovaries were left after the hysterectomy), father-in-law dying in a car accident, my own Dad having a cancer scare and surgery, moving house, new jobs, post natal depression, being mis-sold a car which had been clocked and led to a court case, not to mention the countless operations and hospital admissions both boys have had in the first few years of life and I have probably missed something off the list). Christ it is not surprising that t'husband and I have had some problems! Funny though that I couldn't see this before I talked to someone. Needless to say we are on the up, we have rediscovered the fun side to our relationship, we are taking time out for each other and appreciating each other and things are good and most importantly for the 1st time in years we are laughing together.
  3. I did my first boudoir photo shoot which was a fantastic experience. I did it as a birthday present for my husband and he LOVES it, but I also did it for me. My confidence in myself has zoomed through the roof, I am almost strutting! Not only did I feel more confident just going and having it done, having the nerve to strip off and be photographed, I am in awe of the actual images. I am sorry to sound big headed but bloody hell, I DO look good! I have been working hard to get back to my pre-pregnancy size 10, going to the gym, running and eating better, and although my tummy still needs toning, looking at the photos, I think I am nearly there - why don't you see those results when looking in a mirror?
  4. I have eventually started properly sorting my paperwork and office, and although I literally can only just see my keyboard, and cant see the floor at the moment, I am suddenly getting some order, my finances are now all logged on a spreadsheet, I have filed all my receipts by the month, numbered them and labelled them, and feel so much better for doing it
  5. This weekend I plan to crack on with decorating the hall (which has been underway for over a year now, but lets not worry about that too much) - once the hall is done, i can do the boys bedroom. Work is quiet so I will make the most of it, as if this new job comes off it will be full on again
  6. Christmas is approaching and although I don't like putting the decoration up too early, I can feel my excitement starting to rise. I love Christmas - 26 days until it arrives and 24 days until my baby is 9 - where has the time gone, he has grown into a little man to be proud of.
  7. Today the sky is a brilliant blue, it is cold and crisp and the boys arrived at school with rosy cheeks, that just makes me smile in itself
  8. The next reason may seem a bit morbid to some but something recently happened which really struck a cord with me and makes me simply so thankful to be here, to be alive that I think I want to include it. A friend of mine, a few weeks ago, lost her best friend. Her best friend died 2 hours after giving birth to her second child. Unbelievable in this day and age. She was a primary school teacher and in fact some of you may have seen it as it made national news and was in The Times. She suffered hemorrhaging after the birth and no-one acted quickly enough. It really slammed home for me, as it is exactly what happened to me, only I was being very carefully monitored as I was high risk - she wasn't so there is now an investigation going on, but it won't bring her back. She was 30, she has a toddler and brand new baby who will never know his mum. It has left a lot of devastation. Hearing stories like that sends a cold shiver down my spine and makes me thank whoever it is who it watching over me, up there.
Kiss your children goodnight, every night even when they are asleep and tell them you love them - I do but she can never do that again - not in person although I would like to think she is doing it spiritually

Pop over and share your Reasons to be Cheerful on Michelle's blog and see everyone elses x

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Smile for the camera and relax!

On Monday afternoon I did a boudoir shoot as a birthday present for my husband

It was nerve racking

The first hour I spent having my hair and make up done. I left the make up artist to do as she wanted (within reason) as my attitude was it wasn't the kind of situation I am use to being in, it was a whole new experience to do something different so if that meant different make up / hair style, then so be it.

I loved what she did though. My eyes were all smokey, with fab false eyelashes, the foundation was perfect and she did a bright pink lipstick which I would never have chosen myself but looks great on the pictures.

My hair has been cut a little shorter than I would have liked by my over enthusiastic hair dresser but the make up artist still managed to curl it all. The only thing I am not sure about which I didn't see at the time but is obvious on the photos is this kind of sheen that is on my hair, it just doesn't look right to me, but as my dear hubby said, he is not actually looking at my hair so doesn't care!

While the makeup was being done, the photographer was going through my bag of underwear and laying out a few outfits she thought would work.

I started in a blue underwear set with black suspenders and black suspender belt and she took some shots of me standing by these beaded curtains and coming through them, holding the beads back etc. I really don't like these photos but the 'ding dong' my husband gave them shows me I know nothing!

We then moved to the bed, and she had me in a number of positions on there and some of those photos I love. From here I felt relaxed enough to loose the bra, and by the end of it, everything was hanging out but she took the photos with me holding a lace cloth round me or a blanket slipping off me so most of them were more of a suggestion of being naked, although it is obvious but not in your face kind of thing.

My original plan was to pick 3 and have them printed to give to t'husband on his birthday, however seeing the 50 images she sent through, there was no way I could decide so I got them up and asked t'husband to come to the computer which he did with reluctance and a grumble as he was playing his PlayStation and had to pause it.

At first he looked at the first 3 and just said mmm very nice, yes very nice but why are you showing me these, so I flicked to the next one and again he asked what the relevance was, then he cottoned on he might know who was in the pictures so started cocking his head this way and that and was actually asking who it was. I then flicked to a 5th one, and heard this sudden intake of breathe and then he was like 'oh my god is that you, wow, oh god, move away, let me sit down and see'  It was a fab reaction and he has decided he wants to go for a CD of 7 images, rather than 3 printed and also wants 3 extra on the CD which are an extra £10.00 each so not too unreasonable.

I have to say if you have the money to be able to do a boudoir shoot it is the best money you will ever spend. For me, my confidence has gone through the roof, not only did I feel good doing them, I just kept having this recurring thought while doing it of 'I cant believe I am actually doing this', then afterwards, I kept thinking 'ha this afternoon I was being photographed naked' and it certainly makes you feel good. On top of that having now seen the photos and having been in a self hating mode for many years of my flabby body, the hard work  have been putting in with the running, gym and eating better has paid off. I cant believe the photos are of me, yes there was a large degree of tummy sucking in going on but my legs look toned, my arms do and I am amazed, why don't you see this when you look in the mirror? I must have a 'fat' mirror - god damn that mirror!!

Once we have the actual CD, I may even feel brave enough to post one of the photos although don't hold your breathe! And here is that one photo I was brave enough to post, even though I said it would only be up for 1 day only - it is still there

Monday, 26 November 2012

what will I wear for my boudoir shoot?

This afternoon I am going for a boudoir shoot which I am both nervous and excited about, infact while I am typing this email, I am running the bath and microwaving the wax to try and make myself a little more presentable! I have been very unsure what to wear for these photographs. I know some may think a boudoir shoot is the whole hog and have your photos taken completely in the buff, but I have also been told that many involve photos in underwear or something sexy or classic, or even brulesque style and I have a distinct lack of any of these items! Anyhow, a mouch round Sainsbury's of all places found me a really nice bra and knicker set in the sale for £6.00, I then also managed to get other sets from Primark, not somewhere I have looked at underwear before but I was pleasantly surprised with the selection and quality. To be fair the bra's are not quite as good a fit as my trusty M&S ones but they are comfy and that is what counts. I was also advised that frilly knickers are a good item to have for these types of photos as well, so 1 pair from Sainsburys and one from Primark again.
I then also had a rummage around through my drawers (not in the literal sense just incase I am confusing anyone with the old fashioned term for underwear), but I rummaged through my old belongings and managed to unearth a couple of things that I have bought in the past which havent seen the light of day for a LONG time (those romantic/lets do something naughty/sexy days seem a distant memory)and was surprised with just what I had tucked away.
I am going to take my high heeled black knee high boots (I have no idea if I will need these) and my strappy sandals, and some black high shoes as well - again in case I need them as no idea what to wear on my feet either. Luckily I have a really busy morning preparing my business accounts for the accountant, and with work to keep me busy. I am hoping I have enough time though to pop into town and get some lacy hold ups or something. I will probably end up wearing none of this and go completely with the flow and her ideas but I would prefer to be prepared if nothing else! Wish me luck, I am sure I will be very nervous later!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Am I the luckiest working mum?

Some days I really appreciate the opportunity I have to work for myself and work from home. I need it at times as to be honest working from home is not always all it is cracked up to be - why? To name a few: Aafter a while you can feel very isolated, after all the kids are at school, there are no toddler groups/coffee get togethers to attend, plus it is your working day so would not be a productive use of time. So when you are sat in the same room day after day with no-one but yourself it can become a little monotonous. You never really leave work, you feel guilty about turning the computer off and are constantly thinking you can just 'pop' and deal with an email or something. You also feel a sense of duty to deal with things at any point in time as it does provide a great deal of flexibility as well so when you are working for someone else, you like to show you can be super flexible as well, so they won't mind if they ring you and you ask to call them back as you are in school, or popped out or have a sick child at home because they will know any work not done during the day will be done that evening. There is no commaradeship associated with an office environment and no-one to sound out when you hit a problem in your work or ask advice from. A great deal of discipline is required as well. It is hard walking in from drop off at school and noticing something that needs doing like a pile of ironing or some dirt on the kitchen floor, instinct makes you want to deal with it there and then but you have to think, no I am in my office now, I will deal with that when I have finished work. There are a few negative as you can see I don't get paid holidays though, or sick pay, or a pension. But what about the positives? I get to do all the school runs, which gives me vital contact with the teachers espcially Little Man's incase they've not had a good day with him I can easily attend all appointments for Little Man without thinking and worrying about asking for yet another hour here and another hour there off work with promises of I will make the time up, I just go. If one of the boys is sick, again I don't have the same worries as being in an office and thinking about having to take time off, say I am sick myself, or have unpaid leave I can attend any/all school events I can (to some extent) be choosey about which work I do and how busy I am I can halve my hours in school holidays so childcare costs are minimal and I get time with the boys If I am having one of those days work-wise where nothing is going right, or I am getting frustrated, I can jjust down tools, get the dog and go for a quick run to relieve the frustration and I come back refreshed and clearer in the head. Don;t think a manager in an office would appreciate you doing that. My hourly rate means I earn a decent wage but can do less hours Best of all, I normally start my day at the crack of dawn when the rest of the house is still slumbering. I find I shift a lot of work very early in the morning. Most mornings, one of the boys will wonder into my office, climb on my knee for a cuddle and then crawl into the spare bed we have in there and lie there playing until it is time for the day to begin - I mean how many other people can be sat in their office, hear their child playing and glance across and see their child happy, snug and smiling next to their desk? That makes me realise I have the best deal in the world!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

I want to do this weekly but keep missing it! But I have made it today so that in itself is a reason to be cheerful!

So my reasons this week are:

  1. I have started CBT for a little issue I have been having with anxiety and a fear of death and after 4 sessions have realised that infact considering the last 8 years, it might be quite normal
  2. I am nearly finished writing a 30 page meeting report that I have been putting off and putting off and I can;t wait to send it over
  3. The school's special needs co-ordinator is eventually back after being signed off since the beginning of the year and I am meeting with her about Little Man (see my last post if you are interested in what these concerns are)
  4. It's nearly the weekend and I would like to get the hallway a bit closer to being decorated
  5. I am picking up a secondhand freezer that someone at school is giving us so we are going to take a trip to the butchers around 4ish when they practically giving the meat away so we can stock up
  6. This horrid, wet weather does at least mean we get to snuggle up in front of the woodburner
  7. I am feeling much more confident about myself and my abilities
  8. The boy's school photos are really nice this year!
Think that is my lot this week, pop over to Michelle's blog to see everyone elses x

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Apparently this is nothing to worry about.....

I mentioned on my post about Reading Eggs that Little man is very behind with his learning and we would like to do more to support him and get him more up to a similar level to his peers.

He is 9 at Christmas and to be fair has only really started reading in the last year or so but spelling and Maths still elude him. I have mentioned it on numerous occasions but keep being told that he is not that behind and his work is very inconsistent.

Anyhow, I am seeing the SENCO tomorrow and am going to take in a sheet of paper just written by him tonight.

He is always, always hungry and generally has his tea (bigger portion than me now), a bath, then a sandwich and beaker of milk and then bed. Some nights though he is still awake and complaining of hunger pains at 9.30 like tonight (he is also stick thin despite eating me out of house and home).

I am in my office supposedly working and both boys were told by their Dad, if they managed to get into bed and not speak until the morning, they would get a treat when he came home from work tomorrow night.

Little Man just appeared, grabbed some paper from the printer and wrote:

Me: Hello, what's wrong? Are you not speaking to me? (spoken)

LM: Ica not becu I wont get a tret and I hungree (he wrote on paper)
translation - I cannot because I won't get a treat and I am hungry
Me: OK, you go down and get yourself something quickly (spoken)
LM: No, yoo go pliys, cwicliy pliys mumiy sum riyol foob ples (written)
translation: No, you go please, quickly please mummy, some real food please
Me: (writing now to humour him) Sandwich or biscuit?
LM considered both and ticked both but pointed to sandwich.
I then gave him some written options:
1. Honey
3. Jam
4. Butter
5. Mud
LM read these, ticked the chocolate and mud, then wrote 'harhar' - so there is nothing wrong with his reading!
LM: can iy saiy bad tues wot bus yoo sey
translation can I ?no idea? what do you say?
Actually writing it on here, doesn't make it look quite so bad, but the image of the actual writing and you will see that I have done well to be able to put all that down
But hey, LETS NOT WORRY, apparently it is OK for a nearly 9 year old to write like this 

Reading Eggs is FAB

I have seen a number of reviews for Reading Eggs recently and when I came across a promotional code on 'how to be a domestic disgrace's' blog and BareNakedMummy's, I decided to look it up for my boys and give it a try.

Little Man is very behind in his school work and classed as have learning difficulties, however, as ADHD (which affects his concentration and working memory) is not a recognised disability within the statementing process he does not get as much support as he necessarily needs. Please don't get me wrong, the school in fact go above and beyond what they should provide for him and he gets more support that he should but the sad fact is, it is not enough. He is about 2 years behind his peers, although his reading does seem to be clicking. He will be 9 at Christmas and still struggles with counting backwards from 20, can't get beyond 2x3 = 6 and still uses his fingers to do maths, so anything that takes him beyond 10, leaves him clueless. At times it feels like an uphill battle. It is so frustrating when you sit with him and spend day after day going through something and he then 'gets' it and you think 'yes we've done it'. Yet when he does the spelling or maths test, he gets very bad marks and ask him a few days later and it is gone, he simply does not remember it.

As for spelling, well, if I asked him to write 'Harry Potter flies on his broom, he is a wizard and my favourite character', he would write it 'Hari Potur fliis on his brome, hey is a wisd and miy favurit caractur'. I have not made this up, I copied it from his homework. Everything is very phonetic.

Mini man is now learning to read so he has been learning the basic phonics and basic blending of words i.e. d-o-g dog, l-oo-k look, r-ea-d read etc. It has become apparent that Little man still does not know his basic phonics, when I ask Mini man what sound 'ea' or 'ai' makes, Mini man can sometimes get it and sometimes doesn't but Little man sounds it out as 2 letters 'e' and 'a', there is no blending, no hearing the sounds, so without this it is no wonder he spells like he does. Although his writing can look impossible at times to read, if you take your time and sound each word out in your head, you can generally make out what he has written.

So getting back to the point, I registered Little Man on Reading Eggs, you can read a full description of it here but in brief it is an online reading resource for children to learn to read, but it is individual learning as the child completes the programme by themselves and progress at their own rate. It uses the phonics and sight words the kids are taught in school and I really like the fact it speaks to the kids as they can hear the sounds letters make in a fun way.

Both my boys love it, in fact they can't get enough of it, with both asking to go on it and needing no prompting, nor do they want to finish when their lessons have ended, instead they want to complete the next one.

Little Man seems to respond very well to the computer anyway and as Reading Eggs lets your child complete an assessment of 40 questions to determine the right level to start them on, it is exactly the right level. Little Man's reading age has come up as 5 and a half (as I said he is nearly 9), and although he is behind, I think this age is also reflective of him rushing the test and not concentrating in his eagerness to collect more eggs and move onto the next questions, rather than an inability to actually read.

The programme basically has the kids playing games, listening to songs and they collect eggs and pet critters (which Little Man loves). I think the biggest thing though is it is enjoyable, they don't realise just how much they are learning from doing it.

Although we haven't got to this stage yet, I believe that there are writing exercises and spellings as well, which will only serve to support Little Man further. I don't know if it was set up with special needs children in mind but it is exactly what my Little Man needs, as it takes the pressure off the traditional type of learning and keeps his attention and focus.

We love Reading Eggs and after our trial has ended, I think it would be stupid not to take out a subscription which is not a stupidly high price at £39.95 for a year and subsequent children get the subscription at 50%

Please note, this is not a sponsored post, I am simply blowing Reading Eggs trumpet of my own accord because I think they are brilliant and more children should be able to benefit from it.




Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Formula 1 birthday cake

It was recently my brother's 40th birthday so my sister-in-law asked me if I would like to make his birthday cake for a surprise party.

My brother has been car mad since being tiny and still sits glued to the Grand Prix on a sunday and takes mini man to watch grass track racing and things, so we decided he needed to have a racing car cake.

I have a bit of a passion for decorating cakes and wanted this one to be a good effort and I was really chuffed with the end product.

So how did I do it?
At first I thought it might be quite hard to do but I found that a square and round cake were enough. I used maderia cake as it is a more solid cake than say a chocolate sponge. I also put the cakes in the fridge for a couple of hours before carving them into the right shape so they didnt crumble as much.

I then cut the basic shape and covered it with butter cream and then red sugar paste.

Next job were the logos. I used a picture from the internet and edible pens, rolled out some white petal paste as this sets much harder than sugar paste and set to work drawing all the logos to go on the cake. It was hard work but worth the effort and my brother was really pleased with it.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Lego, Lego, Lego!

My boys are both Lego mad. They first got interested in it when my dad dug out a big box of Lego from the loft which had belonged to my brother & me. There's none of this fancy stuff in that box, just the standard red, yellow, blue and green bricks of various lengths, 2 or 3 green mats to use as a base and some windows but the boys didn't care, suddenly a whole new world of creating and imagination had been opened up to them and they'd spend many happy hours building garages and houses like we use to (my dad also unearthed my old tree house at the same time which also gave them hours of fun and when being over 30 years old got too much for the plastic and it finally broke, I wasn't the only one to shed a tear!).

Grandad started something though with that box of old Lego. The boys are now Lego mad. T'husband and I have lost days of our lives building star wars ships and ninja things, and always feel very proud of the finished article. Until a week or so later when the beautiful X wing enters into a battle with darth vadars ship and they 'blow up'. God it's enough to make an adult cry seeing them all in pieces!

They don't even ask for them to be rebuilt as they seem to gain more enjoyment from making countless numbers of their own models - the big proper models are just too delicate for a 6 & 8 year old.  Now that I'm wise with hindsight, that thought of their enjoyment and the models they make, helps stem those tears of frustration at the battles!

This was the norm until Mini Man got the Lego City Police Station for his birthday which he treasures. It got knocked off the toy cabinet (by me) & came to pieces much to his distress so I promised to rebuild it this weekend. Thing is Daddy told the boys to tidy their bedroom and they lobbed ALL the Lego into one box, so this is how I found myself yesterday sat on our landing, sitting among thousands of bits of Lego.

After 3 hours I was only half done so tidied it away, put the boys to bed & cracked open the wine to soothe the nerves.

Mini Man has now announced a burning need for the Lego City Airport and the Lego City Firestation - the thought makes me shudder (and I admit to be a little thankful that money is quite tight and as most Christmas presents have already been bought, we might have to wait for those!!)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Comfort zones and groovy mums

I need to do an update - it is a long time since I managed to blog, let alone take part in Grooving mums, and as one of the first groovy mum's, I am hanging my head in shame, especially when over the past year I have rediscovered a fair amount of my groove and managed to get myself out of a rut, with quite a lot of help from my fellow Groovy mum's.

I struggle with presents for t'husband as he has a massive love of gaming (X Box, PS III, PS Vita, iPad, you name it, we have it, Kinec things, PlayStation move etc, you get the idea) and to be honest there are only so many games, and gaming mouse/accessories you can buy before they become very predictable. His birthday is in December so it is doubly hard to come up with 2 decent ideas at the same time.

Anyhow, the other week Kate over at Kateonthinice, reviewed a boudoir shoot and being the amazing woman she is, actually posted some pictures - she has a lot of guts this woman and is made of strong stuff!  You can read about her experience here.

At a recent wedding, my friend sent one of us bridesmaids round to the groom's room with a special wedding day present from her, which was a boudoir shot, so then seeing Kate's blog really got me thinking.

So, the day I read Kate's post, I grabbed the bull by the horns, and got straight onto the oracle called Google, and found a local boudoir photography studio and booked myself in. Now it is costing me an arm and a leg to do it (I'm hoping she takes the arm and leg after the photographs so they will still at least look good!), more than I really can afford but I want to surprise him, I want to do something really different and I also want to do this for ME. I want to feel good, and see the photos and think, hell yes, that's me and I am confident enough to do it.

My original booking was last Friday - the 9th, however the photographer rang me to say she had a clash and could I do the afternoon instead which I couldn't due to school pick up, so we rescheduled to today. Today though, I got up coughing, hoarse, looking like I'd not slept for weeks and well felt pants, so I cancelled today. I was really disappointed.

I have spent all week deciding the type of photos I would like, Googling pictures and galleries and planning what I might wear - which I am still struggling with a little by the way as I can't afford to go out and buy anything new due to the cost of the actual shoot.

I want to do something that is more seductive than blatant, more teasing so maybe knickers and then one of his white work shirts hanging open so he gets a glimpse of my chest, or sitting and a picture taken from behind while I am slightly turned so again, there is a glimpse. Any ideas would be welcome though. I am sure Kim who will be taking the photos a week on Tuesday now will also have plenty of advice.

My googling took me to a place called Madame Boudoir Photography which is based in Pudsey, West Yorkshire. I rang to speak to the photographer who immediately put me at ease, explained the whole package, and when I said I was hoping to have some printed pictures (the package she offers is for 7 pictures on a CD), she said she could do 3 for me instead which will be perfect.

I initially quaked a little at the cost, I knew it would be expensive and was attracted to this studio as there seemed to be a facebook offer on which was offering a photo shoot for £50.00, however that offer had ended, however, she made me feel so at ease, I kind of threw caution to the wind and used my credit card - oops.  She has also been so understanding about me not being well today. I had to pay half as a deposit to secure my booking which is fine as it helps spread the cost.

So watch this space, I am now booked in for Monday 26th and completely unexpectedly, she has also indicated that she will be still be able to get my prints ready for the first weekend in December which is amazing, considering she originally said it would be 2 weeks. I had assumed that I wouldn't get them in time for t'husband's birthday and was resigned to having to hide them until Christmas, so I could'nt ask for a better service and I've not even set foot in the studio yet.

Although I am nervous and will be VERY out of my comfort zone, I am also VERY excited about it. I get my hair and makeup done by a professional and then my photos. I actually just have a sense of confidence just for booking it!

EEKK, just need to think of some good poses and outfits now!

PS don't expect me to be posting any photos though!!

Disclaimer: I am not receiving any incentive such as reduced cost/free shoot, this is something I have decided to do myself, found on the web. I simply want to blog about it and post about a positive experience which will hopefully do wonders for my self confidence.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Sleepless nights - will I be sent to prison!!

OK so November has turned into a disaster when it comes to my November challenge which is an arse but do you know what, I am not stressing - before I would have been really uptight and upset I had not had time to post, but now, I just think I can only do what I can do.

So far this month though I have had to deal with the following:

  • Major problem with a meeting for work which I had to deal with by myself
  • Attend a 3 day meeting in Italy which again I had to do the final leg work for as other 2 team members went away over half term
  • Start the writing up of the meeting - now been told they want it in 2 formats - very time consuming but hey, more money for me
  • A joint 6 year old birthday party and cake to prepare for
  • Packing husband off for a weekend away and spending some fab, quality time with my boys
  • Treasurers report for the PTA AGM meeting taking place next week*.

* To some that may not seem like a big issue however, this is something that has really piddled me off, Last year I offered to help the school PTA, first meeting I attend, I am trying to look all enthusiastic but my reaction to hearing my name being sworn in as the new treasurer was probably not the best. I was assured by many present it didn't matter I worked full time and often went away for meetings at very short notice. I wasn't actually formerly asked to do this. I said I would help which was translated into 'lets nominate her for treasurer and if we do it at the meeting in front of anyone she wont really have a choice'.

The last treasurer has not really handed over to me very well. She was an accountant so it was obvious to her but I have no idea what I am doing and now she is working full time again, I don't see her around and she ignores texts and emails, so I am floundering. Anyhow, 2 days ago I was sent a load of excel spreadsheets and told these needed to be up to date and I needed to present a treasurers report and also submit one to the school and have it properly checked by an accountant.

WHAT! Spreadsheets I had not been passed so I am now swimming in receipts, and paperwork. yes I have kept everything, noted all cheques and invoices paid but not on spreadsheets or the same way so I am now totally confused, and panicking which is making it worse. Honest to god, I couldn't sleep last night thinking it was not going to add up or something and I would be done for embezzlement and sent to prison (I'm not joking).

On that note I need to get on with it!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Failed before even leaving the starting blocks!!

So I challenged myself to a November Challwnge which was to do a daily post about ADHD and special needs and we are now on the 2nd of November and I have failed to write a single post this week, let alone 2 on ADHD.

It's all up there in my head but I want them to be useful and meaningful and not just a garbled, waffled, random mix of info/experiences.

This week turned into a nightmare, literally. Work has been very quiet, nice in some respects as it has meant I have been able to get on top of a couple of things but on the other hand I've been feeling very twitched that in the last 18 months I haven't had to worry about the next months work but I've been left wondering what mid November onwards holds for me :(

Anyhow I do have a meeting next week - the last if my definite work, and my 2 German doctors contacted me last Friday morning saying they needed their contract with the company they are speaking for for their healthcare bodies to approve and give them permission to actually attend the meeting. On investigating it seems the person who should have sorted this hadn't, & has now left the company and I have not stopped trying to get it sorted with constant phone calls to Swizterland, Germany, Italy (as our Italian doctor needed his as well), brazil and the US so my evenings have Been wiped out as well. I eventually got it sorted - today, meeting starts Tuesday and luckily, thanks to 2 very efficient German secretaries, they have managed to get the respective administration departments to approve the contracts without the required 2 weeks notice!

Needless to say any thought of spending longer at my computer was hideous, plus my poor boys have been on half term and barely seen me so any spare time was spent doing things with them. 

I will have to try and play catch up, on the plus side at least my invoice for October which was looking slightly scary, looks a little healthier and the last 2 days will have improved Novembers out look 

Please excuse this post as well, I'm say outside the Indian waiting for our takeaway so on my phone x 

Friday, 26 October 2012

I hate it when that happens

Today has been a pig. First day of half term, work has been very quiet but I knew I had a couple of things to shift this morning so told the boys I would work until 11ish and after lunch we'd go off and do something.

I made my first Phonecall at 8.15am expecting one other call at 9.30 and job done but no a storm kicks off and I spend my morning firing emails to Brazil and the US so they get everything for when their day starts and on the phone to Switzerland (I am dreading the phone bill). 4.30 this afternoon I am still in the phone. The minute I put it down, someone else rings me.

Thank god for grandparents. My mum & dad just happened to pop in at 10.30 realised I had a crisis on my hands and mum walked into my office, put a note on my desk saying 'we'll take the boys home with us, feed then and take then out this afternoon' let us know when you are sorted. How great are they?

Anyhow I finally picked the boys up at 5, gave the dog a run and got home to emails again and finally shut my pc down at 7.30. Boys were ready for bed so I decided to relax by having a lovely, deep, turning skin pink instantly, hot bath with my favourite bubbles - Sanctury. Sanctury is my slice of luxury. My brother replenishes my supplies every Christmas for me (he often complains he gets me the same each year but knows he will face the wrath of sn unhappy woman if he dares to go against the grain!).

Bath running, glass of wine poured, I pop downstairs to get something & hear lots of giggling from the bathroom to get back upstairs to the boys saying 'look at Daddy'

The arse had only whipped his clothes off and was nicely soaking in MY bath, in MY bubbles. Now I should explain here, we often share a bath together and we often race each other to get in and get the top end (kids at heart) but tonight I had not planned it and was really looking forward to a soak so what does a girl do? I did debate turning the shower on - cold, but instead opted for just putting my pyjamas on and sorting the wet washing to make my point. I was gutted and the offer of the tap end didn't wash well (excuse the pun!).

Anyhow I have made him go out to get food (I do it every week) & am now laid in a semi warm bath with no bubbles but at least I have my wine and some proper peace with the boys on bed (if I tune out to the Harry Potter Lego battle that seems to be going on in Liitle Mans bed at the moment), mini asleep and t'husband out of the house, always look on the bright side!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

November Challenge

So I have been away from blogging for a number of week (hmmm months to be precise) and i have missed it but I havent as well. I havent missed feeling I have to blog or feeling I have to read other blogs.

Having had some time off from the blog and coming back to it, I have thought a lot about why I started blogging. I think it was to find more support for ADHD.

ADHD is something that affects our family life.
My eldest son suffers from it.
I get very frustrated that ADHD hinders my son's ability to learn and concentrate but is not deemed a disability even though he is on the special education needs register.
We don't stand a chance of getting a statement of needs.
In order to keep his focus and for him to learn he needs support.
I find not many people really understand ADHD or how it affects the individual or their family.
I find people think ADHD is just an excuse of terrible behaviour.
I find a lot of the support / help sites are based in America and therefore the educational side is not always relevant or helpful to those of us in the UK.
I wanted to help to raise awareness.
I wanted to meet other people experiencing the same.
I wanted to share.

Have I achieved any of this?
Just take a look at my blog pages I set up and it is obvious the answer is NO.

So this November I have decided to set myself a challenge.

I will try and do a blog post daily about ADHD, or something to do with it. I am setting myself an ADHD blogging month!  Having written this, I hope i stick to it!!

Reasons to be Cheerful

It is ages since I have participated in this but in that time so much has changed and I am so much happier in myself, I can feel the difference and other people, including t'husband has commented in it, so it s all good.  This week there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful and they include:

  1. Today the kids break up for half term and I am really looking forward to doing some fun things with them over half term - one place we really enjoy is Eureka, an interactive science museum over in West Yorkshire so we are going to have a fun day out there (unless we get the snow they are supposedly predicting!!)
  2. I now help out in the school, just for an hour a week with 2 classes and do their library books which I am really enjoying
  3. I have decided it is high time I get my act together and sort something further out for Little Man with his education. Work is a little too quiet at the moment for my liking, however it is giving me the chance to properly research just what help is available for ADHD and his education. The school have been so supportive, and very honest - ADHD is not a recognised disability and his autism is only mild so he would not qualify for a statement - or would he? I need to properly look into it. We recon he is 2 years behind on his writing, spelling and maths - although he can now read and reads quite well, the only words he can spell correctly, consistently are things like 'the', 'and' and when doing the basic phonics with Mini Man, it became apparent that at 8, Little Man still doesn't know them - he had no idea what sound 'ai', 'eu', 'ou' etc make. A friend has apparently been in to speak to the school about her 2 as they are behind and asked to see the pink and the greys. I have no idea what this means and she is now away for nearly 3 weeks so any teachers out there if you can explain, please do, and also if it would apply to my son who is on IEPs and classed as SEN.
  4. Work is very quiet and yes I am getting a bit twitched about it however it has also given me the chance to get on top of a lot of things which makes me happier in general!
  5. At the grand old age of 38, I have eventually realised that if you do a little bit of housework daily, you can keep on top of it :)
  6. I have joined gymophobics to make myself feel better about myself and get the tone back in my figure - its £30.00 a month so although not cheap, it is affordable compared to other gyms in the town which were between £68.00 to £85.00 for off peak membership. I am really enjoying it. I am also rethinking what I eat with the help of the weight watchers online app so I track every mouthful and it has really made me re-evaluate things so here's to a leaner, healthier me.
  7. I love this time of year, I love all seasons but I can sit in my office and look down our street and the trees are beautiful colours, I see little kids playing in the leaves, when the sky is blue and the air really crisp, my 2 arrive at school rosy cheeked and full of beans, and the air smells all autumny - wood burners on, bonfires etc
And I think that is my lot for now, having said work is very quiet, I have infact got quite a bit to do today and have got up at 6am to make a start but am now blogging so not making good use of my time (one reason I decided to take a step back from blogging), so must get on.

Pop over to Mummyfromtheheart if you have reasons to be cheerful (although may need to revise that as think it is being hosted by someone else at the moment!) x

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The FitBug

Has anyone heard of the Fitbug?

I came across it yesterday, you can read about it here and was just curious to know if anyone had any experience of using it?

I am currently on a bit of a fitness, clean my diet up and have joined weightwatchers online and an loving the app to track my food intake on my phone, it really makes me think about what I am eating and I am hping in the 3 months I have paid for, I will learn to rethink my eating habits.

This fitbug seems to be something similar but taking it one step further and I would like to know what others think who have used it as it is quite a bit of money but obviously worth the investment if it really works.

So anyone have anything to say about the Fitbug? I have obviously read the testimonials on the website but they are not going to post the bad ones, so they all make it sound really good.

I think the thing I need to be mindful of is will I really use it? Is it as easy to use as they say? Will I forget it? I have joined a gym and try and run a few times a week but need something to help motivate me........

Eagerly awaiting some feedback!! (hope I get some).

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


I recently read a post over at New Mum Online about her preparing a photobook for her mum for Christmas, she has used a company called Blurb which you can read about here, but her review made me think about my recent experience with Photobox when preparing an important wedding gift for some friends.

My best friend recently got married and we prepared a book for her hen night which contained a photo of each hennete with the bride-to-be and a personal message from them. We found photobox easy to use, although it did take us ages to upload the photos/messages and organise them, however I/we had never done anything like it before. I was also very impressed that we were able to have the order delivered straight to the hotel via Royal Mail for the hen weekend. The book was brilliant, it was glossy, really good quality and very well presented, and good value for money, we were all over the moon with it, especially the Hen (she cried infact but tears of emotion rather than sadness!).

As this was such a success, I then offered to prepare another photobook to present to the bride and groom on their wedding day. It was to be a story of their life to date, so had photos of the bride growing up and then photos of the groom growing up (embarrassing ones of course). This was then followed by photos of when they first met, their engagement and so forth and a good selection of both the hen and stag do. We ended the book with a message from us bridesmaids and a space for them to stick a wedding photo. The idea was to present it to them after the speeches so it could be enjoyed by all at the wedding as well - there were some real corker of photos in there!

However, I hold my hands up saying I left it late to prepare, but I rang Photobox and spoke to an adviser and as the first book had been delivered in less than a week asked if we could expect the same service. I then opted to pay extra for next day courier delivery and was told expected delivery date was the wedding date, so I organised for it to be delivered to the wedding venue before 4.00pm.

4.00pm arrive of the wedding day - no delivery. The wedding coordinator followed it up for me and came to inform me it had been delayed and was sat on the van to be delivered the following Tuesday. Obviously this was no good as there would be no-one from the wedding party at the venue. I then organised for it to be delivered to my home address as the bride and groom were planning on staying at her parents for the first week before their honeymoon.  Tuesday arrived - no book. Wednesday, still no book.

More phone calls later to a premium rate number, and it turns out the book was delivered to the wedding venue despite a note being on the account to request an alternative address. The person I spoke with at Photobox was very helpful offered to have the book reprinted and delivered direct to the bride and groom who live in Switzerland. Great. I passed on the address, and left it in what I thought was their capable hands.

3 weeks later, still no word of thanks from the bride and groom so I had to tell them about it and ask if they had it. in a word - NO.

More premium rate phone calls, Photobox customer services said they would find out where it was and ring me back, they didn't, so I incurred more cost ringing them to find out the address had been misspelt so the couriers were unable to find it. 

We are still waiting for a resolution. I have rung numerous times, and also emailed their customer services, and each time get a different person trying to sort the problem out.  Now I have been told that thee is a credit on my account for me to organise a reprint of the book and get it delivered at a time convenient to me.

I have to say I am really, really disappointed and frustrated with the whole thing. The whole purpose of the present to be enjoyed by all, have a giggle over, embarrass the bride and groom is long gone. Yes they will still enjoy it and yes they will treasure it but its not the same. They got married nearly 2 months ago now. Although I found Photobox initially very helpful, it didn't actually resolve the problem and I feel like we are now going in circles.  I would really like to speak to some one about it but my last phone bill showed a cost of over £14.00 on phone calls to their customer services and I object to having paid for a photobook, then extra for courier service and then I am paying to sort their mistake out so I guess I am just going to bite my tongue and be done with it.

I wish I could write a glowing report to match liska's, my first experience was good, second not so good.

One day our friends will get their book!!

Friday, 12 October 2012

How do you teach your kids to stay safe?

Yesterday I got back into the blog sphere and spent a little time having a look at blogs I always use to catch up on. I popped over to one, the lovely lady who started me on this blogging quest infact, BareNakedMummy or BNM for those in know and she has changed her blog to pink to reflect her thoughts and prayers for little April Jones.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with my 2 boys aged 6 and 8 (nearly 9).

I think of myself as a bit of a nightmare mother as I don't really ever let them out of my sight and when I do, I am very on edge and in reality I am spying on them. Its tough as I know I have to start giving Little Man some responsibility and independence but Mini Man thinks it is unfair his older brother gets it and he doesn't and at 6 he doesn't really understand the whole 'he is older than you' thing. 

Since moving back up North and seeing some of my old friends with their kids and how much more relaxed they are, I am trying to make a conscious effort to not smother mine so much, for example, in the summer we took them to a local woods with the dogs which has a beck. My friend was happy for her 10 and 8 year old to walk down the 'secret' wooded path while we went the easy way down the side of the field. Although we were at the side of this secret path and could hear them, we couldn't see them and there was a fence or hedgerow between the wood and the field - they were literally only 10-15 feet away. I ended up letting my 2 run down this path as well but was on edge the whole way and breathed a sigh of relief when they appeared at the end. We then let them paddle in the beck and I couldn't rest when they disappeared round the bend, they can all swim but I wasn't happy and felt I needed to justify my need to follow them and be able to see them using my 6 year old as the excuse.

April going missing has just highlighted my reasons for my distrust. I use to work as a forensic scientist which is where my fear comes from in the first place. One of the reasons I left the job was due to its harrowing nature, and now I am thinking 'you know what, I don't care if people think I am neurotic, at least I know my kids are safe'.

I shudder though when I think what we have been drilling into the boys for years

'if you lose mummy and daddy and don't know where we are, you go into the nearest shop and to the lady behind the counter and say you have lost us, or if there is not a shop nearby, you find a mummy or daddy with children and tell them'.

And there is the scary part - 'a daddy with children'. Mark Bridger has children. He has children a similar age to April. His children were at the same school. He had been to parent's evening. He was known as a Dad by the other kids at the school.

I asked the boys at tea, the night Mark Bridger was arrested what they would do if they were out playing at someones house, and someone who they knew, like someone elses dad/uncle/someone they saw in the school playground/a neighbour turned up and said 'your mummy has asked me to pick you up as her car has broken down or she cant make it'.

Both boys thought quite hard and both said they would say No - but in reality would they?

We are now practising my mobile number nightly and have told them if that ever happened they must go into their friends house and tell the parent, or school office etc. They must also say they want the person to phone their mummy and the boys must speak to me - my phone is never off. If the person doesn't know my number then they definitely have not been sent by us.

Its so hard, you don't want to scare the living daylights out of your child or have them growing up scared of their own shadow but at the same time, how do you keep them safe?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Hello, is there anybody out there?

I can't believe I have not been on my blog since the 2nd August! I knew I had had a long break but not quite how long.

Why did I stop blogging? I am not sure, but I recently checked my gmail account and saw a little message from the lovely SarahMac asking if all was OK as I hadn't been around recently and it gave me a little prompt.

I am not entirely sure why I haven't blogged. I think deep down it is because it is the time it takes, not only do I write a post but I then also feel I need to/want to read other people's blogs and lo and behold, I loose my whole morning which is not good when I work for myself. I also have this thing that I feel if someone takes the time to comment on my blog, then I like to visit their blog and read what they have to say and leave a comment in return, I think it is only polite.

The thing is although I have missed the blogging community and the friendliness, I don't think I have actually missed the blogging - it sounds stupid but it has relieved some pressure in my life and it has been a bit of relief, so it is with some confusion that I now find myself here again. I miss it but I don't!

So much has happened over the past few months and I have caught myself a number of times thinking 'ohhh I must remember that and blog about it'. Of course the moments are now long gone.

I think I am just going to see how I go over the next few weeks with the whole blogging, if I get time, I will blog, if I don't have time, then I won't worry about it.

In some sense it is good to be back - so hello to anyone who is still out there!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Help Disque

OK, I need some help please. I have tried to comment on a number of blogs recently and been told I need to sign into disque to do so. I try signing in and then nothing happens, my comment is still sat there in the commnet box I wrote in and I can't access anyone elses. I have tried signing in with my gmail details, with my twitter details and nothing happens.

What am I doing wrong please!?

Another year gone by

Today is Little Man's last day with his teacher. He has 2 teachers Miss L Mon-Wed and Miss B Thurs and Friday. Being the crap person I am I didn't realise it was Miss L's last day until we got to school this morning so have nothing prepared for Little Man to give her. I feel flowers are a bit of a cop out as we always try and do something personal from the kids, so I am at a bit of a loss at the moment of what I can cobble together for 3.00. I did wonder if I could buy a small plant and decorate the plant pot with some to Little Man's drawings for her. The other option is we take time to do something tonight, my sister-in-law works with Miss L's father so I could always ask her to pass it to him and him to Miss L?

I can not believe that another full school year has gone by, it is scary how quickly time is flying by. Little Man will be going into year 4 in September and Mini man into Year 1. They are growing up so fast.

I wonder what other people are doing for their teachers. In the past we have done framed drawings, hand painted mugs or plates, and cakes and I do like it to be something from them.

Any ideas?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Reason's to be cheeful with a G

I have not taken part in this for ages and it seems we now have a theme to try and do, which I am assuming is the alphabet. I like the idea, I took part in the A-Z Blogging challenge and really enjoyed it. However, reasons to be cheerful beginning with G may be prove more tricky!

One of the reasons I used to love taking part regularly in this link was the fact it is great to shout about things when life is good, but it also made you dig deep and realise that life isn't so bad when you were feeling low.

I have been feeling really low for far too long and stopped taking parts in lots but am trying to sort myself out now and need to remind myself that actually life could be so much worse so my reasons to be cheerful are:

Grateful - eternally grateful.

On the 25th June, a beautiful little girl in our town lost her battle with cancer. She wasn't yet 3. Sadie Rose was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was just 14 months old - neuroblastoma. She underwent gruelling first line treatment but her parents were told the devastating news that the cancer had spread. There was potentially life saving treatment for her in America and with the help of the town, her parents were able to take Sadie Rose to the centre in America. The town had fundraisers everywhere, quiz nights, non uniform days at every school in town, everyone helped. The target was £500,000.00. With the help of the town more than £400,000 was raised. Sadly Sadie Rose's parent were given the heartbreaking news mid June that the cancer was widespread and there was no more treatment available for their beautiful daughter. Just 10 days later she fell asleep for ever. Sadie Rose caught the hearts of the town. We have all mourned her. It makes me so grateful for my boys and their health. Life can be so cruel and unfair. My thoughts are with the family.

Good weather

The sun is out today - I do admit I had to google to find out what the strange bright, ball in the sky was that appeared to also throw some heat off it and I can report it is the sun. The sky is blue (well it was, bit cloudy now) and the sun is out which is always a good way to feel happier.

Good times

This weekend I am heading to Bristol for a hen weekend for one of my closest friends. I haven't seen her for a year since she moved to Switzerland, so I am VERY excited about seeing her. Lets hope I can relax, have a few drinks and a dance and let my hair down a little and help her celebrate her forthcoming wedding (which I am also dreading in some respects but the next reason why explain that).


OK so I am struggling with a G here but Google has led me to doing something positive and something I am finding very hard to admit.

This morning I used to Google to find the number out for Relate and have booked an appointment next week. I find it hard to admit that my marriage is proving difficult at the moment but there you go I have said it. I will go to this appointment alone, not because my husband doesn't want to or is not interested but because I want to and feel I need to do this for me first and foremost and then if necessary we can go as a couple. We all hit hard times, this has been bloody hard, it has drained me and destroyed me. I never thought we would be one of those couples. We do both however know where we want to go and that is together as a family and I have finally accepted that I maybe need to talk to someone. I just feel so warn out by it all that I now feel I am going in circles, so I am hoping this will help. The husband seems to have been able to sort things better and we have spoken long and hard which is the first major step. At least we both want to try and make it work. The day I got married was the happiest day of my life and when I said my vows I meant them and still do - til death us do part, so I will fight and I will fight bloody hard for us to work this out.

And I think I will leave it there - that is the first time I have admitted to anyone we are having problems and emotionally it is very hard.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Getting that groove on

Its ages since I have taken part in this but then I have had about a month (or more) away from my blog for one reason or another.

To be fair I haven't had much groove at all of late and have been pretty darn unhappy and I still don't feel much of a groove but I am at least feeling I need to find it again and getting the 'don;t let the bastards grind you down' attitude beginning to nose its way in.

Last weekend I went to a baby shower which I didn't really want to go to, it is so much easier to sit at home, on the sofa and wallow than putting that 'face' on and going out and being sociable but I went and agreed to do a cake for the occasion which I posted about here. I did indeed have a good night, and the reaction to my cake gave me a real confidence boost as well.

I am going on a hen weekend this weekend as well to Bristol. I have never been to Bristol but know that it is meant to be a really good place to visit so I am looking forward to that, I also very sensibly booked a train ticket ages ago so got a good price so can look forward to 3 and a half hours of undisturbed time on the train, there and back with either my kindle or I am considering taking my laptop and shifting a report which has been bugging me - I might revise that idea though!! 

I have struggled a bit about the actual hen stuff, I am one of 4 bridesmaids and we all have done something towards it but I have found it very difficult to conjure up enthusiasm, partly because I am actually worried about the bride. When she falls in love, she falls head over heels, hook line and sinker, you get the message. Her new man as lovely as he is, worries me though. He floats from job to job, he is currently out of work as they have moved to Switzerland for her job so he is learning German and swimming, playing tennis and socialising all day while she works, She is so in love this is fine (at the moment) and neither of them seem to have much of a grip on finance. less than a year ago he was declared bankrupt and lost his house, after she had taken a 10k loan to do his house up. The wedding costs are sky high, all males guests are on a strict black tie dress code and not wearing a tux is not optional, the grooms attitude was 'get over the cost'. The discounted room rate it £175 per night, we are staying in the nearest B&B as a result, best man is in the Travelodge and they are both put out very few people have opted for the wedding venue and don't think its that expensive. I also worry that when they start a family and they both want to from the wedding night kind of thing, that she will struggle with him staying at home and her having to return to full time work as there will be no choice. I like to worry so hopefully it will all be fine, I am sure it will but I was the one who picked her off the floor when she last got hurt and when she falls she falls and I never want to see her that unhappy again

Anyway moving on from my concerns, I plan to enjoy the hen weekend, I don;t know many people but seem to have hit it off with one of the other bridesmaids over the email, who I am sharing a room with so its a good opportunity to meet new people.

I am also going out with t'husband tonight for a rare night out and although it will probably boil down a night where we decide to talk and air a few things, that cant be a bad thing either in the long run as we rarely get the peace and quiet to do that.

So that's it for me this week, I hope to check in more regularly now!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Baby Shower Cake

Recently I was invited to my first baby shower. I have always associated these with being an American event but it seems more and more people are beginning to hold them over here.

I wish I could of had one as it was really good fun. Big excuse for a group of women to get together and have fun.

I was slightly hesitant about going as I still feel like the new girl up here despite having grown up here. The pregnant lady in fact went through school with me and I really like her, although at school she was in the 'in' crowd and intimidated and scared me! How it changes as adults and when you get to know someone.

We were all asked to bring some food to the shower and I was asked to do a cake.

I decided I wanted to do something fun, N knew she was having a girl so of course I wanted to theme it this way.

I baked 2 square maderia cakes - I choose maderia as it is more of a solid cake than say a sponge and easier to carve if needs be, less crumbly too. I added a little red food dye as well to make the sponge turn out pink. These I cut into rectangles of the same size, stacked on top of each other with a layer of butter cream and covered with butter cream and then some ready to roll icing which I coloured green. I then added a strip of white icing to make it look like a bed.

Next job was to use the spare bits I had cut of the cake and make a couple of pillows by covering them in white icing and placing at the head of the bed - a simple brush of water over the icing is enough to make them stick.

I then set to work on my pregnant woman. I really enjoy doing sugar paste figures but have not yet been able to master how to give women natural looking boobs! At this stage I was using about half ready to roll icing and half petal paste so the figure would dry harder and hold it's shape. I coloured a little flesh coloured, and then some pink for the dress. The pregnant lady has ginger hair which was a little more difficult to do (I really need to invest in some orange dye)

Finally I placed my pregnant lady on the bed and put in the finishing touches and

Ta Da......

Bit graphic but everyone had a good laugh over it - the pregnant one laughed so much she had to sit down and accused us of trying to send her into labour!!

So that is how to make a baby shower cake.
(For those of you who fancy trying this or any other cake for that matter, don't use the liquid food dyes you would use in icing sugar and water as they make the ready to roll icing too sticky, you need to get pots of colour from a bakers or off the Internet).

Monday, 9 July 2012

Not a good way to start the day

Little Man is not sleeping well at the moment. I can only assume it is due to the school having just completed an Olympic fortnight so the normal routine was all disrupted with a focus on sporting events, although each day the kids were being told tomorrow they would be playing x sport, but then it rained so they did something different indoors or had lessons so none of the kids knew if they were coming or going.

Tomorrow they also find out their new classes for next year. Last year we got told a week in advanced and Little Man got to spend a bit of extra time with his new teacher and got to have a few extra transition visits. This year we are struggling to find out. Its not just the teacher and classroom that will change but also his classmates as the school mixes the classes up each year. So this is all causing him to be a little out of sync with life.

I am a bit miffed with the school for not letting us know. Problem is they don't see him at 3am when he is inconsolable or at 7.00am when he is throwing a paddy about the chair being turned the wrong way or absolutely having to have the moshi monster character his little brother has and it not being fair so therefore it is OK to be really horrid to both mummy and Mini Man and kick the furniture.

Problem this year is the special needs teacher is on long term sick, and last year the infant school and junior school which stood in the same grounds, merged to one school of 500 children. They have just had their first ofsted which was not particularly good, and as a result contracts are not being renewed for September and new staff are being brought in - including 1 year 4 teacher so interviews complete today, so they don't even know who will be teaching next year yet.

It s a bit of a nightmare. I was not ready for it kicking off this morning over breakfast, honestly the day those moshi monsters entered our lives was not a good one! They are his latest obsession, he has a box full of them. He has also learnt to trade, well I say learnt to trade, he trades but then wants them back and doesn't understand that the other child may not want to give it back.  I have banned trading, the school have banned trading but they are all still doing it.

He was being very verbal this morning as well as kicking the wall and his chair. Verbally he was telling his little brother he wished he was a goldfish (which Mini Man got very distraught about), and telling me I was the worst mummy in the world, he hated me, Daddy was much nicer and better to him, Daddy cared about him, I didn't care about him etc etc.

To be honest, I was a little upset and told him. If only he knew just exactly what we mothers give up for them. Right now I am doing alot just for the boys so that they are happy and their happiness far exceeds my happiness. They will probably never know but it really bothered me. I know he is just 8 and I know he is not being rationale when he is this way inclined but its more the fact I can't turn round and tell them the truth, make them understand just how much I am doing for them.

I was also pretty miffed that I am apparently so much more horrid than Daddy, this is Daddy who spends 80% of the time shouting at the moment at them and getting cross with him over his school work, how easy it is to forget! This at the moment is also a consistent thing, Daddy can do no wrong, again I know it is just a phase and try not to take it personally but when all you've heard all weekend is how he loves Daddy the best, a lot more than mummy, although he does love me apparently but not as much (his words not mine) it does take it toll by 7am Monday morning when you are tired (another broken night with him) and its not the way you intended to start your Monday.

Gurrrhhh and while I am on a rant, I have just had an appointment with a man about seeing if we were mis-sold payment protection on our mortgage. He turns up 10 minutes early and the time it took me to walk from my office (the small bedroom in a 3 bed semi), down the stairs to the side of the house to open the door, and lock the dog in the other room, he had rung the doorbell twice and hammered on my front door so hard it shook. He then marches in, plonks himself at the breakfast bar, gets out the paperwork and tells me there is a 25% fee if they win and was I happy with this. I said I wasn't sure as I had not looked into others but it seemed quite high to me so he flung the paperwork on the breakfast bar, shut his briefcase and marched out of the kitchen saying 'well if you want to go ahead fill the paperwork in and send it back in the pre-paid envelope' and with that he had shut the door and was gone. He was so rude and the way I feel today I feel like ringing up and complaining about him. On principle I don't think I will go with them now anyway.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

What was that you said?

Conversation last night with Little Man

'Right Little Man, time for you to get into bed now please'

'OK then mummy'

5 minutes later, call up the stairs

'Erhh Little Man, didn't I ask you to get your teeth cleaned and get into bed? You still seem to be playing'

'No I'm not mummy, I'm just cleaning my shit up'

'I beg your pardon, what did you just say'

'Mummy, I said I was cleaning my ship up, my Lego starwars ship, it's been in a battle and is all damaged'

'Ahhh, that's OK then, do it quickly and I'll be upstairs to say night night in 5 minutes'

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Best friends

Next weekend I am going on a hen weekend for one of my closest friends. I met her a year into my PhD, I came from North Yorkshire, she started a year after me and was from Kent. I remember the day I first met her & commenting to my fume hood buddy in the Chemistry lab that I could hardly understand her with such a Southern accent! That was 11 years ago. We hit it off immediately, neither of us have an ounce of common sense between us, we are both dippy and on the same wave length. To cement our friendship we discovered a shared love of horses, drinking and talking. Once I left Nottingham we spoke at least once a week and an average call would be the 59 free minutes on my phone, followed by a call back and 59 minutes on her phone. She has always been there for me, and me for her. She was one of the first to visit our first son & always called in on her way down the M1 from Nottingham to her parents in Kent. We have laughed and cried together many times. I was there for her when her then fiancé took a years contract in Boston, USA & she had to stay in the UK as she couldn't get a job. When she turned up on my doorstep unannounced 4 months later, my first words to her were 'you are either pregnant or have met someone else' the look on her face told me it was the latter & the hesitation confirmed I knew him (best friend/best man to be of fiancé). She was at my house when she told fiancé. The new relationship had her head over heels, shame the wanker didn't feel the same. He broke her heart, again we saw her through that. The boys loved their Aunty Nut! She has now met a new man and is due to get married. Her job has also moved her to Switzerland. I miss her like hell. She skypes but it's not the same, new man is always in the background, she is busy, I am busy & we can go months without speaking now :( I hate it. I haven't seen her for a year, last time was when I attended a conference in Switzerland & she made the 2 hour journey to me and I sneaked her into my hotel room for 2 nights. I worry about her though. She is head over heels again. New man is nice (DH & I both loved original fiancé but agree it was right to end). New Man is crap with money, he seems to float from job to job, spending numerous months 'looking' for something. They both had their own houses. She rented hers and moved in with him. She took a 10 grand loan to help do his house up, and he then had it repossessed as he was in so much financial trouble and went bankrupt. See why I am worried? He is bankrupt, she has the 10k loan round her neck. His Dad got him a job at his firm, my friend gets a 9 month secondment in Switzerland, she pays for all flights for both his & hers visits. Christmas just gone she got offered a permanent position in Switzerland and she accepted. Now he lives there with her, she works, he does, well not quite sure what, according to Facebook, swim, walk, drink afternoon beers and bum around the apartment. Oh & is learning German. Apparently he won't get a job until fluent and even then may struggle. As for the wedding. Well let's just say I don't think the bankruptcy has hit home. I am one of 4 bridesmaids. The dresses are lovely. Shoes are yet to be decided but she fancies the £150 a pair John Lewis' ones for us, she says she doesn't mind buying them. We will wear them once. We all like the £30 debenhams shoes with matching ballet pumps for the pregnant bridesmaid. As for the guests, it is strict black tie for all male guests. T'husband is going to have to hire a tux. When I (among others) broached the subject to see if a black suit would surfice, groom said across Skype 'I can't understand everyone's problem with this black tie thing, it's only the cost of a suit, people should get over it'. Ok that told me! The wedding venue, discounted rooms are £175 a night, again she recently said to me she was a little upset the best man had opted for the Trsvelodge & not many were staying in the hotel. I then had to admit t'husband and I had booked the local b&b with one of the other bridesmaid & partner for both nights. As for the hen weekend well lets just say I have spent £198.00 so far on train fare & hotel before even arriving. I hope my 2nd mortgage comes through before next Friday as despite needing it, I can't bloody wait to see her again!!!

Friday, 6 July 2012

New School Year Approaching

I know it may seem odd to be already thinking about the new school year but there are a couple of logical reasons for it (well logical to my mind that is). Firstly I have today received a London 2012 Paraolympic Games package through the post containing 4 tickets and passes and an official programme thanks to the lovely people at Sainsburys! I was lucky enough to win tickets through them a while ago. I am stupidly excited about this but the events we have are on September the 4th, the kids new school year starts September the 3rd. We live in Yorkshire, the games are in London. So I have spent the day trying to work out logistics. I obviously need to ask for authorised absence for the boys - I am actually against taking kids out of school however I also feel this is a once in a lifetime experience and one which will teach them a lot especially about disabilities and how they have no need to stop you. My plan is boys start back to school on the 3rd, meet their new classes and teacher, we get the train to London Monday night, spend the following day in Olympic Park and then get the train home that night so they only miss 1day of school. My second thought about a new school year stems from the special needs teacher being on sick at the mo - long term as her husband died at Christmas, I just pray she is back in September. Last year she told us early who Little Man was going to the following year so we had about a week to prepare him for when their classes were announced. He is very out of sync at the moment and waking about 3am wanting to 'chat' or tell me about his dreams and all conversations relate to change. I am on my knees and have spoken with the headmistress and asked if we can know his teacher again to try and aleviate some of the anxiety he is experiencing. The school has just had an ofsted which wasn't great. They recognised that the infant and primary school merged a year ago so this headmistress now has 500 children under her care with 2 deputies so she is so busy it's a nightmare. Due to ofsted there is now a massive shake up of staff so they are appointing a number of new teachers. I can't complain as I feel the teaching has been excellent. Little Man has gone up 6 reading levels in a year and he can now read. Ok so his Maths and literacy is still very poor but they have done loads to help. Mini man has come on as well. Compared to our old school which had an outstanding ofsted the teaching seems better, but attendance record for this new school is very poor which ofsted don't like. The changes in teachers bring me to my third point. I was in the school office this morning and loads of candidates were arriving for interviews for the posts. Talk about me suddenly feeling my age - it was a bit of a slap in the face infact. Next year one of my sons could be being taught by a teacher, a qualified teacher who doesn't even look old enough to of taken his GCSEs, let alone have a degree. More than glad looked about 16 (but obviously weren't!). On the reverse side that must mean to them that I look ancient :(