Saturday, 31 March 2012

I'm a proper embarrassing mum.

I'm a proper embarrassing mum. 

And I'm proud.



This evening I am taking the nearly 10 year old to her first gig. 


Well when I say gig I actually mean pop concert. I was just trying to be urban cool.


We are off to JLS. She's pretty excited, mainly as it gives her such kudos in the playground.  Yes JLS does indeed deliver kudos to nearly 10 year olds.


She has seen fit to deliver a number of instructions to me about our quality mother daughter afternoon. The first and most important rule of our outing today is that I haven't to embarrass her. 


Red rag. Bull.


I'm quite mortified at this (well I'm pretending to be) - how can I embarrass my nearly 10 year old. 


I am cool - well once a 6 year old said I was the coolest mum in the playground which counts -doesn't it?


I don't do much to embarrass her, I get down with the kids. 


And then it dawned on me. I do embarrass her. 


Have I become that fun mum that is making the nearly 10 year old cringe in her uber cool high tops. Maybe I am just trying too hard to get down with the kids. 


And then there is the other reason. The big reason. I can't help myself. I quite like making her cringe. It makes me laugh. A lot. When she starts to get embarrassed, I always have to take it a step further. 


On the way into school on Tuesday morning, as she was walking into class I ran up to her and smothered her in kisses, telling her I didn't know how I was going to cope all day without her. Her mates laughed. I chortled to myself all the way back to the car.


On the way to netball on Tuesday evening when I had a car full of her friends, I played my 80s tunes really loudly (I consider this education) and then as we got out of the car I showed them all how to robotic dance. Cool, yes? Her mates laughed.


And then my favourite trick of the week. I allowed both small things to go to school on their scooters which I would then carry home. The 6 year old was duly dropped off at his classroom and his stunt scooter was passed into the care of me - the responsible adult. It then made perfect sense to get on said scooter and race the nearly 10 year old through the playground to beat her to her classroom. As I jumped off the scooter and punched the air winner styli, her mates laughed.


What she doesn't know is that when she then gave up her scooter to me, a few of us mums had a scooter race down the road. We rocked urban cool as we synchronised our scooting. People stared. I know they were just jealous.


I know she laughs too. I know it gives her permission to have fun. 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Where do all the odd socks go?

Where do all the odd socks go?



Today while I was dusting my radiators (I know I think it's the saddest thing I have ever done), I contemplated the meaning of life. Well not really the meaning of life; that would be far too hard on a Sunday night.


This was after a great day in the balmy sunshine which involved a netball game (the nearly ten year old scored six goals), a post netball celebration in an ice cream parlour where the six year old conned me out of another scoop of gubblebum (his words) ice cream, followed by a barbecue at my sister in law's where the sun shone and the small things played croquet. Well when I say played croquet, it was no Alice in Wonderland scene, more two kids slamming a ball with some wooden sticks shouting 'get in.'


Me and the small things then came home and I decided I had to dust my radiators..and there I found an odd sock. 


And then it came to me, like a bolt out of the blue and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it ever since.


"What has happened to all my socks?" No matter what happens, no matter how often I try and pair the socks, every single sock in my house ends up odd.


I have tried the following solutions to beat the odd sock shocker.


1. Put the socks into the washing into pairs
2. Pair the socks as soon as they come out of the washing machine and dry them together
3. Only buy the same colour of socks


But NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING ever works.


The socks go into washing into pairs. They come out odd.


The socks get paired as soon as they come out of the washing machine, there is always one or two left over. AND THEY DON'T MATCH.


I buy socks the same make, match and colour and still I have a batch of odd socks which cannot be paired.


There is a new creature of cryptozoology in town. 


Sod the Loch Ness Monster, stuff the Yeti, there is a Sock Monster and it lives and it breathes in my house.






Tell me you haven't thought it. Tell me you don't wonder what has happened to your matching pairs.


Someone...or even something is stealing our socks.


There is a conspiracy theory in this. Maybe.







Thursday, 22 March 2012

My mum is mad as cheese

My mum is mad as cheese 


My mum is mad as cheese. Fact.

My small things adore her. She often drives me mad, mainly when she sneaks all manner of crap sweets and chocolate into the hands of my small things and then pretends she knows nothing about it.

But without my mum I would be lost. She picks up the small things from school on a Monday and Wednesday for me so I can do my day job and on a Wednesday she bathes them and washes their hair so I simply have to deliver the bedtime story.

When the nearly 10 year old was less two weeks old and hadn't stopped crying, I rang her at 2am and told her if she didn't do something the then two week old was going to be launched through the window. Mum turned up within 20 minutes (usually a 30 minute journey) took said baby off my hands and rocked her for four hours while I slept and some degree of sanity returned.

We go to Cornwall every year, all of us. Mum, Dad, sister, children and husbands when they were husbands. On a recent family adventure on the beach, I was taking the small things on a rock climbing expedition between two bays as the tide was coming in. I got 'the look' and lecture of mum for not being careful until I reminded her of my childhood holidays in Cornwall and on one particular trip where mum took us (me and my sis) on a similar rock climbing adventure.

As we climbed into yet another bay, shin-deep in the advancing tide, we settled into a cove - where we got trapped by the rapidly advancing tide. An hour later we were still having an 'adventure' in the cove when the lifeguard paddled round in his canoe to ask us if we needed rescuing as it was a particularly high tide. Oh no said my mother, we're having a great time. We continued to have a great time until the tide went back out - about four hours later.

Today as mum rocks the Grandma title, she plays football with the 6 year in the back garden, she has more patience than me when helping the struggling nearly 10 year old with her homework and she still gives the small things way too many sweets.

This year my sister and I have decided that it's unsafe for mum and dad to drive to Cornwall on their own so we are splitting them up between cars. This is not really due to a lack of driving ability but the fact we are not sure that mum and dad should be left alone in a confined space for 5 hours.

This year I can't wait for Cornwall as at the fabulous age of 63 years she has promised the small things she intends to don a wetsuit and go body boarding.

See I told you. Mad as cheese.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Say my name...say my name.

Say my name...say my name.


No don't worry I haven't gone all Destiny's Child, but I have realised that not many people use my name. 


My actual name. 


The name I was christened with. 


It may shock many of you but that name is Sarah..not Knighty and not mum or mummy.


I was talking to a friend the other day and in the middle of the conversation, she said my name. Immediately the conversation had more meaning. Immediately I listened a little more closely. Immediately I realised that I very rarely hear my own name. 


Of course I am talking about my actual name and not the given name for the past 10 years. I hear 'mummy can you, MMUUUUUUMMMMMYYYYY, mum will you, MMMMUUUUUMMMMMM, is your mum there' all the time. 
In fact when I go to bed it's ringing in my ears. And then at 4am I hear it again and all to often I realise it's not a dream, it's real and it's coming from the 6 year old's bedroom. It also usually means that action is required.


I never liked my name at school. I hated the fact it couldn't be shortened as it meant (and still means) that I was forever nicknamed Knighty. It's one of the reasons I gave my small things names that could be shortened.


All through school, through university, through my career and even now if someone wants my attention, it's often Knighty I hear. Nothing wrong with that of course (well unless you're in a lovely posh shop and your 'friend' shouts Knighty from the changing rooms to get your attention; then I really pretend not to hear).


But now I like hearing Sarah; it often means:
1) I'm in grown up company
2) Someone grown up is talking to me 
3) It's time to behave like a grown-up (this doesn't always follow 1 and 2)


I think there's a lot of power in someone's name - used properly. 


I'm not suggesting you go around saying someone's name over and over again as frankly that would be slightly weird, but next time you're chatting with your colleagues, friends, peers use their name. Drop it into conversation and witness the magical effect of someone listening to you a little more closely.


Unless of course they are saying 'Sarah, get another drink in,' then all bets are off.











Sunday, 18 March 2012

The 10 year light at the end of the tunnel

The 10 year light at the end of the tunnel


So my main plan today is to lie in front of the TV shouting: 'I can't, it's Mother's Day.' 


I've already tried it on the Labour councillor that's just knocked on my door trying to talk politics - bad enough on a Sunday, but on Mothering Sunday...


Do they not realise that mothers everywhere are trying their hardest to do nothing (except ring their own mothers of course).


As I lie on the couch of laziness, I can't help thinking of all those new mums out in the fog while I lie here ordering my small things about.


Dear mums, one day in about ten years you shall have a day like today and all the sleepless nights will be worth it. Today marks my ten year light at the end of the tunnel. 


Today my nearly ten year old has promised to spend the day making me cups of coffee. She has been in training for a while - obviously pouring boiling water has been my main concern - but now she makes the perfect brew.


This heralds the perfect mother's day.


New mums your day will come. Hang on in there.



Thursday, 15 March 2012

The pain of the pillow wrinkle.

The pain of the pillow wrinkle.

If you're reading this and you have no idea what I'm talking about; then you are just young. But your time will come. Mark my words one day your time will come.

Usually around the age of 37/38 I would hazard a guess. One night you will go to bed unconsciously smug with your smooth face.

Then the next morning you will wake up to a whole new, darker world.
Your reflection will greet you...with the creases of your pillow still attached to it. Only last night your pillow was your friend, something you looked forward to greeting every night...and now it is your enemy. It is your nemesis.

And the worst of it pillow wrinkles don't disappear quickly...oh yes it will come to you all.

There are however a few easy steps you can take to avoid the heartache and pain of the pain of the pillow wrinkle.

Number 1.
Always sleep on your back

Number 2.
Always smooth your pillow out before you place your precious face on it

Number 3.
Avoid all contact with mirrors and children for a period of time when you wake up. (children have been known to ask; What's happened to your face?)

Number 4.
If on a sleepover (aka date) don't sleep. Your choice of activity is entirely up to you. Your date must NEVER see your pillow wrinkles.

Number 5.
Sleep sitting up

And finally if you partake of a particularly fun-filled winesday, and enjoy a tipple too many you may forget.

Forget the new rules of sleeping at your peril as the hangover pillow wrinkle is the worst and most vicious of them all.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

But mothers lie. It's in the job description.


“But mothers lie. It's in the job description.” 
― John Green 

I have told my children that the one thing that they always have to do is tell the truth. Always.

I have a confession. I lie – I lie all the time and mainly lie just to my children. 

The lies I have told in the last week include:

1.Yes of course it’s 8pm, all the clocks in this house are wrong (this evening's lie at 7.26pm)

2. Yes of course the tooth fairy exists, she takes your tooth in a magic back pack, grinds it down and makes it into fairy dust to grant wishes

3. Yes if it stops raining we’ll go on a bike ride. We’ll see (under breath maybe not)

4. No of course I didn’t steal that fiver from your money box (and of course I didn’t buy wine with it)

5. I’ve spoken to your teacher and she agrees with me (about everything especially my parenting skills)

6. There is no ice-cream left in the shop (because I went in earlier and ate it all)

7. I have no idea where that bar of chocolate went (hides wrapper in knicker drawer)

8. Change your face before I change it for you (never yet have they asked me how I intend to do that)

9. When the burglar alarm sensor flashes it’s Father Christmas watching you (the nearly ten year has possibly cottoned on to this one)

And the best lie I have ever told and keep telling…

10.  If you tell me the truth, I won’t get cross

I’m a convicing liar.

But never ever lie to me. It’s wrong you understand. 

WINESDAY

LISTEN.

Today is Winesday. Wednesday is no more.


WINESDAY

It used to be known as Wednesday. It used to be the hardest day of the week to learn how to spell and I always knew it as Wed-Nes-Day. It also heralds the middle of the week.

But no more. Winesday is the new Wed-Nes-Day, it is a day to behold.

Thursday was the new Friday and now Winesday is the new Thursday which is the new Friday which means it's the new start of the weekend. I think.

The plan is simple don't drink on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Now I know Sundays will be difficult to maintain as an alcohol free day so follow this simple rule of thumb. If you are cooking a roast dinner for more than two people (small things count) then you can have a drink. That's the law on Sunday Drinking.

Winesday heralds the start of the drinking week.

Now I tend to drink red (usually a Rioja) during the Winesday winter months but as soon as the sun starts to shine I'm partial to a glass (or two) of white. Soave is on the menu for this evening. But there's really no need to follow my way - you can mix it up a little. Perhaps even throw in a Rosé or even a glass or two of fizz.

If this is your inaugural Winesday, the rules are as follows:

1. Wait until Wine O'clock

  • To clarify: wine o'clock differs for everyone, but remember this: it's wine o'clock somewhere in the globe right now
  • If you are on holiday, wine o'clock can legitimately begin at 11am
  • If you are meeting friends for lunch, it would be rude not to welcome in wine o'clock
  • If you are working, then wine o'clock begins from 6.00pm on the dot (after the car has been parked up)
2. On arrival of your Wine o'clock, I highly recommend you acquire a glass 
(I prefer ones the size of a vase; fewer trips to the kitchen) 

3. Open preferred bottle, pour said wine into said glass

4. Sigh, gaze lovingly at wine and drink

5. On Winesday, it is acceptable to drink a bottle. 
Should you consume a full bottle on a school night, I recommend Milk Thistle tablets to minimise post Winesday come down (otherwise known as a hangover)

6. Start crossing off the days until the next Winesday

Enjoy Winesday  - same time, same place, next week.



Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Everyone's talking about communities.

Everyone's talking about communities.

Mainly online communities where you can connect to people thousands of miles away, where you can make friends with strangers, where after years of talking to someone online (twitter) they become your mates and you go wandering in the Ribble Valley with them.

In the good old days, your community was the street in which you lived.
Today no-one knows their next door neighbour.

NOT IN MY STREET.

There's Frank who's not only the small things' surrogate granddad, but he's also the saviour of the street. From electrical faults, to blocked drains to emergency bottles of wine and at Christmas his home-made mince pies, Frank is your man.

My neighbours on my left hand side take my bins out every week and on the right hand side Isa has taken to watering my plants for me. I think this is actually due to the fact that she can't stand looking at their wilting pitiful appearance any longer.

Up the road is Jane who owns the local deli which means the nearly ten year old can go to the deli on her own and I know she's safe (whilst feeling independent) and Jane 2 who is my long time friend and godparent to the 6 year old. Oh and then there's the dishy doc (and his wife) - just in case of medical emergencies.

When someone's alarm goes off, people actually step outside their houses to check and when new people move into the street bottles of wine are delivered (often with people attached to them to have a nosey at the house).

The minute the sun shines, cars are being washed and it has been known that this is followed by a few beers and a street celebration.

This is a real, every day community. It's a bit rough round the edges but it works and it's one of the many reasons I love living here.

In Salford.




Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Power of a Letter

The Power of a Letter


After a lovely ramble in the Ribble Valley today (walk followed by pub), I popped into Mum's on the way back for a cup of coffee. I found her buried under a stack of letters. She wasn't literally buried you understand - that would have been quite traumatic.

The letters were letters I had written to her over the years when I had moved away from home - mainly letters from university.

Letters written with love when I was missing my mum.
Letters where I was asking for advice.
Letters where I was bringing her up to date on my love life (I think I may have shared way too much with her).
Letters asking for money - there were a lot of these letters.
And the cringeworthy letter she was never meant to see that started; 'Dear God or whoever is out there' (and now I know mum was rooting in my room).

I have spent the last hour reminiscing with mum, remembering how I felt at university and laughing at the fact that I promised would pay her back all the cash she had spent on me with interest (rent was £21/week) when I was rich and famous (she's still waiting). I also apologised for the terrible angst-ridden 7 page 'Dear God' letter.

I had forgotten about the power of writing a letter. Now as a mum, I also know how much these letters must have meant to mum - even the ones that asked for emergency food parcels and told her I was spending her cash getting drunk in the student union.


Then there was this letter that reminded mum (and my sis) of my address and demanded a letter in return.

In an era when we text rather than call, and email rather than find a pen (usually found under the microwave) and put said pen to work on a piece of paper; I am already sad that my small things may never bother to write me a letter when they are away from home; we will skype, facetime or email.

So I'm off to write a letter to my mum, asking her for a tenner and promising to pay her back when I'm rich and famous.

I dare you, no I double-dare you to go and find a pen and write a letter right now and don't forget to post it (unless it's a 'Dear God or whoever is out there' letter and then I highly recommend once you have written it you then burn it).





Friday, 9 March 2012

The Car Park Guardian Angel

The Car Park Guardian Angel


Today I bring you a top tip and a guaranteed way to ensure you always find a car parking space.

It's simple - you just ask the Guardian Angel of Car Parks for help. Oh yes there is one.

There is a theory that if you want something badly enough and you focus on it you can achieve it. (I want that bar of chocolate, I can eat it. I want that bottle of wine, I can drink it.)

I have been working with the Car Park Guardian Angel for a while and she rarely lets me down.

The process is as follows - as you approach the required car park you ask her to find you a space (I always request one near the door). Then more often that not as you swing your car elegantly round the car park without going the wrong way up the ridiculous car park one way system, it will be there winking at you: a free space.

Try it. Today.

I could then say that to say thank you for the car parking space you should all leave your car and do a little jig of joy in the car park. But that would just be plain silly.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Do whatever job you like

Do whatever job you like, 

but NEVER be a traffic warden.


It's a simple lesson in life. There's a whole host of jobs out there but my small things know that the one job they are not allowed to do is to be a traffic warden.

If they dare to be a traffic warden, they shall be written out of my unsubstantial will immediately. In fact I think I may already have added the traffic warden clause.

Now I know that there may be people out there that know a traffic warden (in my view you should immediately unfriend them) and I know that this may offend a few people but traffic wardens are wrong.

This may be a sweeping generalisation but they are all wannabe policeman (or women) who couldn't get in the force.

They patrol the streets with their walkie talkies effectively trying to ruin people's days. Imagine aspiring to a job where you just want to p*ss people off.

One of the best run-ins I have ever witnessed with a traffic warden was when the (then) husband was 'Code Red'd' by the traffic warden in the street - in our street. Code Red for those of you who don't know is when a traffic warden screams into his walkie talkie CODE RED CODE RED CODE RED and lots of other traffic wardens come a running to protect him. The (then) husband has simply told the traffic warden not to put a ticket on his car in the street where he lived.

I rest my case. Traffic wardens are wrong.

When I am PM.

When I am PM.

There are a number of things I will do when I am PM - many of which will be for the good of the country, but most will be for the benefit of me.

This is just the start...but I think the following campaign will tip the votes and secure my rightful place as ruler of this fair isle.

"BRING BACK PETROL PUMP ATTENDANTS"

I hate putting in petrol. I always forget to open my petrol cap and therefore once I have got out of the car and walked to said petrol pump, I then swear and have to walk back to car and flip petrol pump button. I never learn. The repetition of the habit of putting in petrol has not taught me flip the petrol cap before I leave the car.

So then I stand there (usually shivering) and watch money drain into my car.

My solution to this is simple and will of course secure employment opportunities...I intend  to campaign to bring back the petrol pump attendant.

It means I can sit in my car and update my twitter status.


Out of the mouth of babes...

Out of the mouth of babes...

My nearly 10 year old is studying World War II at school. 


History is a subject that she loves - and one she feels she can do as she doesn't have to battle with her literacy and numeracy demons.


This morning as we are battling to get out onto the school run, she told me that my Granddad was a barber in the war. I disputed this thinking my Granddad has a more significant role (not that cutting hair isn't important) and so text mum to clarify Granddad's role. 
Mum text back:
'I told her when they were in the desert in the war, he used to cut his mate's hair. He was actually a radio operator on the airfields.'



Now I have stopped laughing, I can't help think about how little ones consume information. They take in what interests them and discard the rest. Maybe this is why my nearly ten year old has struggled with literacy. Let's face Biff, Chip and Wilma don't lead exciting lives.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Famous Five in today's modern age

Tonight I finished reading Five Go To Smuggler's Top with the nearly ten year old.

I used to love Enid Blyton. She is one of the reasons I have such a love affair with words (that and Jeffrey Archer) and yet now when I read her books I am either cringing at her descriptions of how life should be or giggling like a teenager every time something completely unsuitable is described.

My nearly ten year old loves Famous Five - it has taken years to get her excited about words and she struggles to read (that's an entirely different post). She lives in a world of i-carly and American TV but Enid Blyton still works in this world of gadgets, apps and whizzy thingy me bobs.

The lesson is all this...if it means that I can help my girl loves words like what I do - then I guess tomorrow night I will starting Five Go Off in a Caravan.
The first step is always the hardest.
This was my new year's resolution - 2011.
I have achieved.