Friday, December 31, 2004

After all the fun and games
... with Pseudo-Supermum's Motor last week, wouldn't you think it would behave itself now? Huh!

Pseudo-Superspouse burnt the iron recently. Last night, I thought I'd go to Asda and buy a new one. The clutch-cable linkage unlinked itself, only a few blocks away from home. I spent half an hour waiting for the breakdown van, and this morning the car was towed away from the house, back round the corner to the nearest garage - who might or might not be able to get a new plastic link connection on New Year's Eve. Of all the times to need a motor-repair! Apparently the broken bit is only made of plastic. Wouldn't you think that the guys who designed Citroens (sorry, guys - I'm pretty sure it would have been a guy) - could have come up with something stronger than plastic?

While without wheels, we'll have to go on foot to LIDL (oh joy) to stock up on essentials for the New Year holiday. Milk, loo-rolls and so on! Not that we haven't enough food in the freezer; it's the basics that we lack!

We can get to church on Sunday by cadging a lift off Superspouse, so it isn't the end of the world if my wheels aren't fixed by then. It's a bit more dire if I have to be late in to work on Wednesday, though.

Latest report on Aged Auntie - I'm sorry to report that she is quite unwell with a cold. All the residents of the rest-home have it, and the doctor has evidently been dispensing antibiotics all round. The illness is making her even more confused - I am now Superspouse's girlfriend, not his wife, and she insists she has no knowledge of our boys. If you come across any charities for Alzheimer's victims - do give generously.

Meanwhile - a very Happy New Year to all friends and blog visitors!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Frustrated Pseudo-Supermum: won't anything go right???!!

I'd have liked to have taken the boys swimming, to get them doing something physical rather than being glued to the Gamecube again. (Honestly, one day I'll go up to their bedroom and find the Gamecube has absorbed them into itself as integral components.)

  • No way. The swimming pool is shut until after Hogmanay.

Anyway, this afternoon we needed to go out to look at a friend's piano. After that we were going to buy Elastoplast for SuperSpouse's cut finger (must be Elastoplast; cheap imitations will not do) - and verruca socks for no.3 son. Without them, he couldn't go swimming at all, whether this week or next.

  • We saw the piano, but it wasn't quite what I wanted.
  • We got the Elastoplast - the only variety of Elastoplast in the shop, nestling amongst oodles of other brands.
  • We eventually tried three chemists before we found the verruca socks. The only pair in the shop, but fortunately in his "Extra Small" size. Thank the Lord for that.

To make up for the boys' frustrating afternoon, I thought I'd take them to a soft-play facility.

  • Ha! When we got there, the premises had been taken over by the neighbouring nursery, and Koko's was no more. Sigh!
Mega-Bloks do some good construction toys along the lines of dragons, castles, ships and so on. Middle Son has several of them, and the top present this year was his Dragon Keep. With a fair bit of help from me - more to encourage perseverance than anything, since he was perfectly capable of doing it himself! - it was finished tonight. It's a beautiful structure. We're looking forward to putting together all the other kits that he has collected over the past year, so we can see it all set up together.

And now research-minded Pseudo-Supermum must stop procrastinating and get on with some amendments for a lengthy research article that I originally wrote some months ago.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Yawn! Pseudo-Supermum is Christmassed out. Three excited little boys had a lovely day yesterday. They were less keen on going to church again today (two days in a row, Mum?), but didn't put up too much protest.

I'm glad I didn't take bets on us getting a White Christmas. I would have bet AGAINST it, out of perversity. And I would have lost. It did snow on Christmas Day, and has been icy and cold again today.

Yesterday morning, I decided I needed my favourite comfy old grey sueude boots for going out in the snow. They aren't smart or stylish, just warm and comfortable. I had a bit of a job retrieving them from the depths of my wardrobe. So what else did I find? Only three chocolate Easter eggs, safely hidden since last Easter! Now I feel I've plumbed the depths of disorganisation.

We had my husband's aged Alzheimer-afflicted Auntie to lunch and tea today. She is so confused, and so repetitive - we all ended up feeling punch-drunk after telling her our summer holiday plans 30 times, and about no.1 son's piano-playing 30 times, and how long we'd lived in Glasgow 30 times, and where I worked ... 30 times at least! It's a cruel illness. She doesn't know she lives in an old folks' home. She doesn't know it's Boxing Day. She doesn't know we all live in Glasgow.

She was ready to go home before tea-time, so we had a cup of tea and a piece of Christmas cake, then she thought it was time for Super-Spouse to take her back home again.
A few weeks ago, she thought HE was her husband, and I was "the other woman". Tricky, that. Last week, it had changed. He is now her little brother. I presume that means it's okay for me to be married to him again!

I ought to get back into research mode tomorrow. Tonight, I am just too darn tired. At least tomorrow is our agreed "lazy day". Hallelujah!

Friday, December 24, 2004

I thought I'd be smart today - I would go to do my supermarket shopping at 6 am, BEFORE I went to work - because last year, it was such an easy way to beat the last-minute Christmas rush.

Aha - I didn't realise that 24-hour Asda had decided to CLOSE between midnight and 6 am every night this week, in the interest of health and safety. The evenings had been such a crush before. (It begs the question what they were like this week, if customers knew they had to be out by midnight, but then, I am not a retailer.)

But before I even got there ... there I was, slumbering peacefully. NUDGE. "Get up, get up -it's 5.45", said my ever-loving spouse. So I did. I got dressed and stumbled towards the light on the other side of the bedroom door. As I passed his side of the bed, I espied his alarm clock. 1.45 am, my friends! I could have killed him.

"You didn't kiss me goodnight when you came back to bed", he said wistfully, at breakfast time. Do you wonder? I just fell into bed, fully-dressed apart from my trousers, and tried to get back to sleep. He's lucky he lived to wake up in the morning, let alone get a goodnight kiss!

So ... I woke at 5 am. And 5.15 am. And 5.30 am. At 5.45 am, it really was time to get up. I found my trousers again, had a quick coffee downstairs, and drove to Asda. There was a queue of between 50 and 100 shoppers with trolleys and/or spouses, waiting to be let in at 6am. I never saw anything like it. Still, I was home again before 7 am. And I shouldn't need to do any more food shopping for a week.

Got to work for 9 am, and finished at noon today. Time for a bit of quiet last-minute shopping, then home via the off-licence, and finally an hour or so spent wrapping presents before the menfolk came home. That was just today. You don't want to hear the saga of my car and its MOT and its very expensive wing-mirrors. (That was yesterday and the day before.)

Yesterday wasn't really my day either, as you'll have deduced. For a start, the replacement glass for the second wing-mirror didn't arrive at the dealer. I had the boys with me, as the childminder wasn't available until the afternoon. So ... we took the car to the garage for its MOT, then got a taxi to work, and the boys watched DVDs all morning. Then we went and collected the car, I took the boys to the childminder, then drove back to the subway and went to finish off my day's work. Such is the life of a Serious Career Mum.

Almost everything is wrapped - just one present to go. Then I have to await Santa's arrival and make sure there's a glass of sherry for him. Excuse me, folks - I need to bake Santa's mince-pies. Can't wrap that last parcel until the last boy is asleep!

Pseudo-Supermum wishes all friends, readers, and blogspot visitors a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pre-Christmas Parent - handle with care!

Tuesday night was Christmas cake night. What a fiasco! I cooked it for as long as the recipe said. Admittedly, I should have checked it more often, but I did NOT give it any longer than the book demanded.

On Wednesday I examined the corpse. Dead, very dead. Cremated, indeed.

Back to the drawing-board. One friend tells me it's hard to come by Traidcraft Christmas cakes this year. Another swears by Delia Smith. I am about to consult Delia - and I'll have to start all over again on Saturday. Damn!!!

Talking of corpses - I haven't even mentioned the gerbils. "Shadow" had dermatitis around his nose and mouth. £26 and a week later, the vet pronounced herself pleased and surprised by his remarkable recovery. A pity, then, that "Tails" died quietly in the night, having had nothing at all wrong with her! (But at least the one that I spent £26 on is still alive - I suppose I'm grateful for that.)

Friday, December 03, 2004

The crisis "passed". By Saturday morning, the metal ball reappeared in the bathroom, to cries of great jubiliation. "I'm not going to die! The evil spell has gone!"

As our childminder observed, hopefully the episode will have taught no.3 son a lesson. Though I somehow doubt it.

This has been a busy week. A chest virus has caught up with me and wiped me out. Today I stayed at home, and uncharacteristically, stayed in bed. I slept all morning, and read all afternoon. Didn't want to get up to cook tea, but it seemed the right thing to do at the time. I have no energy, and am going to retire to the lounge, to read a bit more before worrying about the bedtime routines.

Glad tidings - Flybe has announced flights from Glasgow to Norwich, starting next June. It will make visiting my family positively easy - I can't wait. We had hoped they might have started after Christmas, but we'll just have to be patient.

Anyway, maybe I'll have had enough rushing around for a while. On Monday I went and did research in Edinburgh. Next week I have a meeting in Dundee - and will do some research there too, after the meeting. I can't pass up the chance to do some research if I'm in the place already!
Then no more rushing to other cities, until 2005.

Late January, I'm visiting a Polish penfriend for a long weekend. I am so much looking forward to that - it will be a real adventure. I have been to Hungary, and to what was East Germany, but never to Poland. I'm just ashamed that I can't speak the language!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Don't mention balls! This evening, when we were out at choir-practice, our youngest son swallowed a small metal ball. "I've swallowed a marble, I'm going to die! Then who will feed my hamster?", he bawled. The babysitter and his two big brothers freaked out, but the babysitter recovered enough to dial 999. Apparently we had flashing lights and sirens, paramedics and an oxygen tank, within minutes. Impressive.

"Where's the casualty?", they cried, dashing straight past him to his middle brother - who was looking more distressed. "It's not me, it's HIM", middle-man informed them.

Anyway, they pronounced him okay but suggested the babysitter should ask me to ring Yorkhill just to see if they wanted to see the invalid.

I got back from Yorkhill at midnight. He thought it was a great adventure, stotting round the hospital in his dressing-gown and getting a metal-detector scanned over his tummy!

Tomorrow, the construction game from which the magnetic ball came, will be removed from the bedroom. If he can't be trusted, then he won't have access to that particular game.

What a night! And not even a bottle of Lambrusco for comfort at the end of the day!

Friday, November 19, 2004

It's the school Christmas bazaar tomorrow. So, not only did I have to work yesterday - I also spent the afternoon trying to be a research student, went home into parent mode (briefly), baked buns after tea, went and took a choir practice, then back home to ICE the buns. Please note, I didn't have to resort to distressed mince-pies as per my heroine, Allison Pearson!

So all three boys took iced buns to school today (Friday), which granted them permission to "dress as they pleased" instead of wearing school uniform.

But it doesn't stop there. Tomorrow morning, we have to GO to the school Christmas bazaar, which is just about the low spot on my social calendar. Every parent has offloaded toys, books and videos that their offspring don't use any more. And every parent's offspring bounces home with a carrier-bag full of someone else's junk that they've spent their money on!

So, how is tomorrow shaping up? Christmas bazaar, then run along the road for no.1 son's orchestra practice. Back home, hand over no.3 son to Super-Spouse, so I can take no.2 son to town to get his replacement glasses. (He said he'd lost them, last weekend. We found them after I'd organised the replacements. Still, a spare pair is probably a Very Good Thing.)

Superspouse and no.3 go to collect no.1 back from orchestra.

Back home for lunch, out to tea with no.2 son's godmother, back home after tea, and THEN I can do the weekly supermarket run. Research? Um yes, sometime .....

Friday, November 12, 2004

Sunday lunchtime, I set off for Norwich by rail. A poster at Glasgow station said that a derailed freight train between York and Doncaster was delaying everything. Brilliant, I thought. It's bad enough to have to go down to Carlise and then across to Newcastle on account of Sunday rail works. Then to have to change onto a bus between York and Doncaster? Surely not!

Indeed, it was surely not. Got to Newcastle, got the next train, and was delayed by an hour - because of a derailed freight train just outside Durham. Was late to Peterborough - but there was no derailed freight train between York and Doncaster. We just never caught up after Durham. I eventually got to Norwich at 10.35 pm, to be met by my tired but willing brother!

I had 36 hours in Norwich, then had an easier but still tiring trip back to Glasgow again. It was good to see my family, and great to find that my SuperRev. Father is definitely in better health since his hernia operation.

Don't ask about Wednesday - I was on my knees with tiredness. You see, I'd spent most of my travelling time catching up on research reading! On Wednesday evening, I couldn't motivate myself to do anything at all.

Excused myself from a meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday - that gave me a chance to catch up at work. And felt as though I had caught up by today. Hallelujah!

I had the opportunity to speak to a reporter from the Sunday Observer this afternoon - all about whether I regretted my decision to be a working mum. This is the Observer website - wait until Sunday or Monday to see if an article is published about working and stay-home mums.

I found this website today - - and here's their article about "Stay at home / back to work - the debate". See if it says anything new!

This evening, Pseudo-Supermum was in Family Taxi mode. Super-Spouse is out at a tram meeting, so I took no.1 son (accompanied by no.2 son) to Boys' Brigade, dashed back to collect no.3 son from Anchor Boys, allowed them to chill out whilst I did some research - until it was time to go back out to collect no.1 son again. The two smaller ones were in pyjamas, dressing-gowns, and with a rug over their knees in the car. It is the coldest night we've had yet this autumn - quite frosty.

Okay, I've had my little break - back to the research again...

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Well, yesterday was Guy Fawkes' Day. Only the British would continue to celebrate a planned arson that never took place, hundreds of years later, by spending vast sums of money on fireworks and watching them go up in smoke.

Also - only the Scots would proudly boast that their parking meters would soon be going over to "solar-powered". Does that mean free parking except in May and June?

Yesterday was the day from hell. Starting with a little list of "things to do" in the office, I seemed to develop a version of the Midas touch. Everything I touched became more complicated or time-consuming. Right down to when I phoned a colleague to explain that their order was too expensive - to which they made no objection. Then added, "While you're there, please could I order another seven items?" Yes, right. So that's the value of the cancelled order, plus some more! When you're adding tasks to the bottom of your "to do list" at such a frenzied pace, how do you tackle the tasks that had the misfortune to be at the top of it?

I ended up doing my bath-bomb impression again, fizzing more and more until I felt as though I'd vanish down the plug-hole.

Went home, hoping the kids would allow me a few moments peace. No comment. Then out in family-taxi-mode, back home again to transpose a piece of music for tomorrow, and out at 10.20 pm to do the supermarket run. Friday evenings are so restful!

Can't wait to get on the train to Norwich tomorrow. Forty-eight hours of a kind of relaxation - except that I plan to do research reading for the whole journey in both directions. Got to catch up, got to catch up.

Talking of which ... maybe I could do some reading now, too ?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Going stir-crazy! I simply want to visit my parents in Norwich. It is going to cost over £100 by rail - twice as much as travelling from Scotland to Warsaw! What ridiculous times we live in.

Halloween is over for another year. We had no guisers, so the kids took their green buns (with green and red marbled icing) to school to share with their friends. Everyone seemed satisfied with this arrangement. (You see, I'd looked at Halloween goodies in Asda, but they looked so cheap and nasty and additive-laden, that I decided I could make my own colourant-filled cakes for less. And at least I knew WHAT additives were in them!)

I simply must do some research work now. I've washed two boys' hair, and spent two hours trying to sort out quick ways of getting to Norwich. What a waste of an evening!

Friday, October 29, 2004

hamster in a wheel ... reflections on a theme!

Yes, it's the weekend! Noble Spouse is spending most of his weekend at a transport fair, and hoping to sell more of the tram videos and other transport memorabilia that has been cluttering up our hall for months. Anyone trawling the web, reading this and having a transport-minded spouse - send him to Cathcart, Glasgow, for the weekend. And let him buy as many videos as you've got room for!

Meanwhile - Pseudo-Supermum has to be the family taxi-service to Anchor Boys, Boys' Brigade, Intermediate String Training Orchestra, Church, Swimming lessons, and hopefully fit in a trip to town to collect my glasses - I only had the eye-test five weeks ago, and now they've put a second lot of lenses into the frames after the first lot fell out.

And of course, there's my research. And booking a trip to Poland. And a trip to Norwich next weekend. Nothing to it - plenty of time .... huh! Better brush up my time management skills - I found this article in SheSaid, an Australian women's magazine.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The hamster on the wheel

All week, I've had this image in my head - of a hamster in a wheel. First it was a gerbil, chasing its tail - but then I realised my life is more like a hamster's than a gerbil's. Less chance of catching that tail! Even on a treadmill, I'll never catch up.

And then I started looking on the net. What did I find, but ...

The hamster on the wheel - positive thinking, by Beata Bishop. Not quite the same use of the hamster metaphor, but equally valuable.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

In my Pseudo-Supermum capacity, I had ten minutes at home this evening - no time for a meal - between getting back from Uni and taking the boys out to a piano lesson and Boys' Brigade. I hoped there'd be a piece of music waiting at church for me to pick up - there wasn't - so after the music lesson, we tore home and I phoned round parents of cello-players, to try and track down Time Pieces for Cello volume 2. Success! Also booked a babysitter for Saturday, so that we can go to the party of a work colleague. Two successes.

Could I expect a third success in the same evening? Not on your life! Even the University's online IT course has got it in for me. First it said I had two more assignments to do, then after I'd done however many elements of the tasks that came up, it said I'd done everything. Except - I knew I hadn't. The course monitor thought there must be a system fault. It would happen to me, wouldn't it?
Back I went, completed the course, tried to check the last tiny detail on my document before submitting it - and got an online "Page not found!" message. You could practically hear it sniggering, "Ha, ha, caught you out! Thought you'd finished, did you? Stupid!"
Well, some things I can get right. I have large pot of homemade Scotch Broth simmering in the kitchen. Domesticated Pseudo-Supermum rules OK. And am going to sew a button back on my jacket before noble spouse arrives home from his committee meeting. Now why, at twenty to midnight, do I suspect they must have adjourned to the pub after the meeting ...?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

What's a nervous breakdown? What if the nerves bend but don't actually break?!

I'm working harder than I've ever worked, but there's more work than there's ever been. This, to put a positive 'spin' on it, is a challenging situation. When work comes IN faster than it can be processed, a backlog develops. There is no-one able to help me get through it. That in itself is a lonely situation. The whole department is understaffed - so how can I ask for help? (And how do I put a positive spin on such a dire situation? Answers on a postcard, please. I haven't time to read anything longer!)

So ... I worked and worked, running faster and faster to stand still ... until finally, a whole shelf-load of cassette tapes fell off a shelf into a muddled heap on the ground. And I cried. Pseudo-Supermum? Huh! Pseudo-Superworker? Hardly. "Why don't you go home early?", someone suggested. Not a chance - that won't get the work done, will it?

I don't know how I'm ever going to catch up with myself. It's not like chasing your own tail - it's more like chasing your tail but realising it is disappearing as fast as you chase after it. Don't think gerbil, think hamster.

Ah, well. Took the boys to the childminder, went to work, had the day from hell, collected the boys from the childminder, home to cook tea, clean football boots, process three loads of washing and do a weeks' worth of ironing. Made tea for Noble Spouse (of whom more in the next paragraph), wrote shopping list. Boys ready for bed (well, in varying degrees of readiness.)

Noble Spouse took Alzheimer Auntie to Turriff for the day by taxi, train and hired car. Exhausting her, and himself into the bargain. It was harder than he had imagined. She was more repetitive than ever, and became completely nutty and rather agressive round about tea-time.

("YOU never told me you'd married again. Who is she? I don't know her. I'VE never met her, I'VE never seen any children. How do I know you're not lying to me?"

"Auntie, you were at the wedding. It was 17 years ago. You often come over to the house - you've seen my family countless times ...")

Oh, dear. It's sad to witness the mental degeneration of a relative.

Anyway, home he came, and we had tea (very late) before I went to do the evening supermarket run (even later), getting home a little before midnight. And that was Friday that was.

Today we slept in - hallelujah! And we were delighted to be visited by my German penfriend, whom I used to write to in my teens. We got in touch again about 4 years ago. Having established that it would be hard to cook anything sophisticated that the kids would like, I came up with Plan B: chicken nuggets, spaghetti and chips for the kids first, and a full British Christmas dinner for the adults, afterwards. It worked wonderfully well. We did the lot - turkey and stuffing, baby sausages, roast potato, 2 veg, cranberry sauce. I forgot the sprouts, but who cared? Christmas pudding and cream to follow. Gentle reader, I might be at breaking point in some respects but I can still cook a good dinner!

I have just been surfing other people's blogs and came across a scathing comment about "Mommie" blogs. So if anyone finds this unbearably Mumsie, then I apologise. I hope you find a more interesting blog next time you look!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Adolescent boys are a conundrum! Why is PseudoSuperson no.1 in a highly distressed state? He's obsessed with chatlines. What, at the age of eleven, has he been up to or got himself into?

The more he protests his innocence, the more we can't understand what he's so upset about. He keeps throwing up red herrings about things he's already told us about, which happened months ago. And which we've assured him don't even matter. We don't understand.

Meanwhile, back at the coal-face ... the day started badly. The soccer school was cancelled due to bad weather. The childminder wasn't free until lunchtime, and the boys had to go to work with Dad. They behaved for the hour that he had to be there - that's a miracle.

I had a high-level meeting first thing, and had to go to the University to pay my fees a second time, in my lunch-hour. Got back and continued with my new List of Priorities. Dealt with the first point on the list, and half of the second. Things are (kind of) looking up.

Tomorrow I have to prepare for another research students seminar (giving this one at work, not attending it at the University) - and continue working down the List of Priorities.

But first thing, I have to take the boys to the childminder, before I drive back to Glasgow and park the car. PseudoSuperspouse is taking Alzheimer Auntie to her father's birthplace for the day. It's way up in Aberdeenshire, and they're going by train then hiring a car. She will neither remember where she's going, where she is or where she's been, but he feels that at least he will be able to tell her that she has visited it recently, and maybe that will stop her going on about it. Or maybe not!

Yesterday I had a lovely trip to Blair Castle on a wild goosechase, research-wise. I ploughed through lots of old documents but didn't find what I had expected to find. Such are the joys of research. It was a restful day, anyway!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bad things go in threes - or fours, or fives?

Lunchtime? I got away at 2.15 pm for my lunch. Couldn't get my suit from the dry-cleaners, as a sign on the door told me they'd gone to the bank.

By 4.30 pm, Super-Spouse phoned me at work to tell me that (a) the chemist HADN'T collected my repeat prescription from the health centre - indeed, they said they had nothing to do with it, and I must have phoned the health centre myself. I don't think so!!! and (b) would I phone a lady at the University Registry.

Knock-knock. A student wanting to see me. "Are you busy?"
"Desperately, but tell me what you're looking for!"

Assured her that if she wrote a list of all the things she wanted me to get, I'd deal with it later this week after my away-day tomorrow.

Back to the phone. Discovered I was in arrears at the university, in spite of having HAND DELIVERED my matriculation form and cheque three weeks ago. What had happened? A temping member of staff must have torn up the envelope with the cheque inside.

Decided it was necessary to leave work at 4.50, tore down the road to the building society - where I couldn't breathe to explain what the problem was - and was relieved to pay £15 to stop the cheque and have a replacement issued. Phoned the Registry lady to say I'd bring the cheque later this week. "You could always post it to me..."

"Not on your life! I am going to put this cheque into your hand. And you're going to pay the £15 fee for stopping the cheque, since it wasn't my fault."

Back to my work to borrow a laptop for tomorrow's research outing. Then to the underground, then to the car, then to the chemist to get the prescription.

Phew! Enough, enough.

Home I drove. Opened my mail at 5.50 pm - to find a letter from the car insurance company to say I didn't seem to have responded to their renewal notice. I had just 48 hours left in which to do it. The next letter I opened WAS the renewal notice, apparently posted 4 days earlier. Still, a quick phonecall ("You are in a queue. We value your custom, please hold") later, and it was paid. Well, at least that went right.

Last night I got into a total fankle trying to understand Excel spreadsheets for an IT certificate. I spent the ENTIRE evening on it, and didn't complete the assignment. I haven't yet acted on the helpful hints that they sent me back this morning. (This morning, we overslept by an hour. Maybe that was a bad omen for the day?)

Meanwhile, it's the midterm break for our sons, who are loving every minute of their soccer course, and apparently not even minding playing in the pouring rain. Curious, that, but I'm glad they don't mind. Maybe it's considered macho to get drenched in the name of the Beautiful Game?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I'm happy to acknowledge for this gorgeous ginger cat picture!

We've been moving things around in our house. The arrival of the new 3-piece suite led to a total tidying up and clearing-out of clutter from our lounge. It's now officially designated a Tidy Zone.

That meant the gerbils had to go. To the dining-room, in fact, where they are now comfortably installed onto a brand new table/trolley from Ikea. (Well, it's a baby-changing table, but it fits the gerbil cages perfectly.)

The table is in front of the window, which is where Amber (our neighbour's cat) enters the story. She spied the gerbils ("Yummm! Rodents for tea!") and sat on the windowsill outside for up to half an hour, every nerve and sinew twitching. Honestly, it was so comical to watch. I nearly phoned up our neighbour to apologise for upsetting her moggie!

So - the kitchen is a near-tidy zone, the bathroom IS a tidy zone, and the lounge IS a tidy zone. Where next?! The dining room is a likely candidate. I have to allow super-spouse another fortnight before he goes to another transport enthusiasts' fayre and sells some of those tram and bus videos and other stuff. It's GOT TO GO. It's messing up our hall, and has been there several months too long already.

Right, time for some postgraduate reading. Better get on!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

That's it, I've had enough!

I was meant to go by train to Blair Atholl today. The wheels fell off that arrangement - the only afternoon train back wouldn't get me home in time for hubby to go and play for an evening church service.

Heigh-ho, off to work we go. By subway. The wheels came off there too. Got halfway there, strong burning smell, everyone OFF the train please! Waited for next train, which arrived absolutely hoaching wi' folk. We still all pushed on, squeezing and suffocating the smaller passengers. I had a handback, work bag, bag containing dry cleaning and my mother's birthday present - and a work laptop. A heavy one. Heck, what a squeeze.

Work? Busy as ever. I can keep up with stuff that lands in my in-tray, but there are unfinished tasks from the summer that I can't get near. My office is a tip.

My home is a tip, too.

And the final straw was the arrival of the new suite. Hubby tried to move the settee before I got home, and a foot fell off.

I'm going to cry. I think I'm stressed. And if you don't hear from me for a while, please have pity on one of the victims of the 'nineties - those whom the government wanted to believe could Have It All. Family, Career, Home - no problem. Nuts!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Pseudo-Supermum has a split personality. Mother, wife, working woman, postgraduate student. The fun begins when one persona impinges on another. Yesterday, I took the morning off as flexitime, so I could go to the University Library and be a student. That was fine - it felt very comfortable being a student, I can tell you. Before I could do that, however, I had promised to take a wee bike to work for a colleague's little boy. I took it on the subway. Yes, folk - I set out at 7.45 am. It wouldn't have been possible when the rush-hour really got going. It was quite entertaining even at that hour. Left the bike in my office, and set off for the Uni.

I spent the morning in the Uni Library, then got a coffee at Hillhead (with a student discount!), before going back to the subway yet again. Between Hillhead and Cowcaddens, I morphed into working woman. Made it to work for 1 pm, as I had promised. Worked the afternoon, came home to be mother/wife for a while, drove no.1 son to Boys' Brigade, did a pile of ironing, and got nos. 2 & 3 ready for bed.

Sat down and wrote a couple of pages (back to postgrad mode again) before no.1 son came home. He'd been at the Scotland-Norway under 21's football match, so he was shattered and almost literally fell into bed. Got him tucked in, then back to my paper on the computer until Super Spouse arrived home from his society meeting, just before midnight. (They value their convivial time after the meeting.)

There was only one problem. Super Spouse has a busy weekend, and had no shirt to wear to work this morning. I still have the paper to finish writing, but in addition to that, I hadn't quite finished the book I was reading at the Uni library yesterday morning. So - I ironed, while he dashed out to pick up a table. (Don't ask - it's for a transport fayre this weekend.) He went out to work, I organised laundry and the weekly menu, went to the post office with the boys, and collected a library book from the branch library for no.1 son.

Then he came home, morphed into Family Chauffeur and took all the boys to drop off no.1 at his orchestra rehearsal, whilst I went BACK to the Uni library to finish the last 30 pages of that book.

This afternoon, we've been to get woodchip mulch for ageing Auntie's garden. You should have seen the grumpy faces when I told them we were going to B & Q. It is not on our list of Favourite Places. Not at all!

There is not a lot of time for sensible thought about this paper of mine, but maybe I'll manage an hour or so now, before Super Spouse comes home again.

Sometimes I can't decide which "hat" to put on at any particular time; hardly surprising, is it?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Angry Pseudo-Supermum

No.1 son went for a sleepover, two or three weekends ago. They were left to their own devices when the friend's mum went to bed before midnight. And the boys went to bed (eventually) at about 4 am. Now, they're only eleven. So in all honesty, that is too darn late.

That's not why I am angry. The friend turned the TV onto a channel showing, certainly adult movies, or possibly even porn movies. Now, he didn't PAY for it, so it was only normal, run-of-the-mill adult sex stuff. But we didn't even get told about this until last week. Guiltily, my son told me that his friend had "dropped the TV zapper, and it went onto this sex film. And, Mum, I didn't like it."

Had the friend turned it off straight away? No.

We assured him that we didn't blame him, were glad he felt able to tell us, could quite understand if he found it disturbing, and that - in all probability - it was likely to have been far-removed from what normal adults got up to!

And we thought no more about it. He did, though. At 10.45 pm, I've just found him sobbing desperately into his pillow, still upset about it. No amount of comforting seems to do any good. It hurts me to see him so worked up about something he really had no control over.

Honestly, how often has the friend accessed this stuff? It's not suitable for kids of eleven. And he should be more closely supervised, surely! It does make you fearful about what your children get up to when they are out of the house.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My mother is a genius! You should see the Baltimore quilt that she has made for us. It went to an exhibition in Harrogate, and won trophies. Was taken on to Edinburgh, and won three more trophies. I dashed to Edinburgh after lunch last Sunday, got to the exhibition JUST in time to accept the trophies, then took my time looking at all the exhibits before the exhibition closed, then I got the quilt to take home to its final resting-place. Our bed now looks gorgeous, but we are so scared of anything happening to the quilt! No more cups of tea in bed. No boys clambering in between us, either. They can creep in at the edge of the bed, but they can't climb ON it!

If the photos come out, maybe I'll try posting one here another day. I don't have a digital camera, you see - I am a dinosaur. I love my SLR camera, and I'm quite happy waiting for the CD-rom to come back from being developed. Just this time, though, I have a horrid feeling that the spool wasn't wound on properly, so there might be Nothing There At All. And I shall be so upset! I also love my photo albums. The CD-roms are useful for sending pictures to friends, but what I like is drooling over my photos, in genuine albums, not digital images on a computer!

However, as you know, I'm not a dinosaur in many respects. Allow me to be old-fashioned in this at least!

Pseudo Supermum is nearly a stone lighter now. Eureka, the dress I wore to the Queen's Holyrood Garden Party three years, actually fits me again. And I am going to wear it when we go out to dinner with friends tomorrow night. What a triumph. Only another half a stone to go to reach what I think is a realistic target weight. My trousers are getting loose. This is very satisfying! (Almost worth being hungry for...)

There are a hundred and one more things I ought to be doing, but I think I might just stop. Pseudo-Supermums might have careers and be undertaking doctoral studies simultaneously, but they still have to make lentil soup for tomorrow's lunch! It's just cooling ready to be liquidized. I bet Cherie Blair never finds herself making lentil soup at 11.50 pm.

When I've read her book, The Goldfish Bowl (well, she's co-author), I shall tell you all about it. Time I did a book review - I used to enjoy writing them!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Super-Spouse obligingly took the three boys to the hairdresser at 8.30 am today - a Saturday morning. Noble, indeed. Normally that's my job, which is why the hairdresser immediately asked if I was getting a lie-in. Huh! Instead, I was at Asda buying new trainers for no.2 son, food for the menagerie (2 gerbils and a hamster, not the people - I shopped for them last night), and frozen tuna steak (for our slimming diet).

Back home, time for coffee, then I took no.2 son to the meeting-point for his sponsored walk. After lunch, I collected him and brought him home again, to be greeted at the door by no.1 son. He'd had an idea.

Why did my heart sink?

"Mum, you know you said you'd take us to the library?"


"Well, if you walked through the park, could you take me and my brothers and James and his little brother, ALL to the library?"

Quick calculations here. Five boys, three or four bikes, and me ... and where were we leaving the bikes whilst we were in the library?

Pseudo-Supermum lived up to her name again. Between showers, and before Ageing Alzheimer-suffering Auntie came to tea, we dashed to the library by car. Just me and our own three boys, not the extra two friends! Do you blame me? It was more than I could handle!

Ageing Auntie's short-term memory is worsening each time we see her. Today she asked if I had just come to Glasgow. She doesn't know my name. She doesn't have any idea where we live, how long we've been here, where we were before ... (we've been in this house nine years, and in Glasgow since 1988). She doesn't realise that she is almost 88, that her parents are long-dead, and that the house where her father was born has long been demolished. And has no recollection of what has just been talked about.

How's this?
"Would you like a piece of cake?"
"No, thank you - I'm full up."

[Pause. Rest of family served.]
"Now then, Auntie, are you sure you don't want any cake?"
"Oh yes, please - that would be lovely."

It's very sad. Frustrating, too, but mainly just sad. What a way to end your days!

Did some reading tonight, in between supervising instrumental practices and encouraging the completion of a school project. All in all, not a bad day - just rather too busy.

Friday, October 01, 2004

This has been the busiest day I can remember. But I'm ahead of myself. Let me explain.

Yesterday I did four library tours during the day - and got 24 hours' notice to do a catalogue demo this morning. The only problem being that I couldn't produce a PowerPoint presentation OR plan an unscripted demo, while I was walking round the library with shiny new disorientated students!

So, today came. I tarted up the PowerPoint presentation that I'd scrabbled together yesterday (and revisited at home last night). Did the first library tour of the day. Got told there was about to be a fire-alarm practice, and five minutes later, was asked to produce a contribution for the weekly newsletter within fifteen minutes. Did it in five - just as well, because the rest of the fifteen minutes were largely taken up with the fire-alarm practice, out in the street.

Another library tour. Finally, downstairs to give the catalogue demo to 15 students - about 10% of the new student input. If I had 24 hours' notice of the demo, they had 1-2 hours' notice, so very few turned up. Still, I did it by speaking off the PowerPoint print-out, and improvising what I did online. And now I've put the PowerPoint on the website so anyone else can look at it if they're so inclined.

This lunchtime I tore to the University to hand in a matriculation form and fees. Only received it last night when I got home from work, but it had to be THERE by today or I'd incur a penalty.

Penalty proudly avoided, AND I ate half a Subway salad on the underground back to work again, AND did it all in an hour.

Then three more library tours and a few more queries. Friends, I am on my knees. I feel like a bath bomb. By that, I don't mean I have a yearning for one - no, I feel LIKE one. You fizz and fizz, getting smaller all the time, and finally disappear down the plughole. Yup, that's me!

Came home, had tea, took no.1 son to Boys' Brigade, did a hasty Asda shop - got home again, put it all away, got no.2 son off to bed.

He got up and came downstairs again. "Mum, my trainers are broken." It is 10 pm, and at 10 am tomorrow he is supposed to be wearing them for a sponsored walk. Between now and then, he has to sleep, I have to sleep, and I have to take all three for haircuts at 8,30 am in town. I can't see any alternative but to abandon any ambition to get research done, drop everything and go BACK to the 24-hour Asda to see if they still sell that style of trainers! The perfect end to a perfect day.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Still busy - this week, Tuesday was spent on in-house staff development and Wednesday and Thursday were spent at the SECC - the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, beside the River Clyde. I was attending a trade conference - Scottish Education and Teaching with Technology. I went round all the stalls, attended seminars, and practically wore the soles off my feet!

Whilst there, I fell in love with a wizard piece of gadgetry - Dana by AlphaSmart is based on Palm technology and is like a full-sized Revo. I love it! And I want one. Here are the reviews. Wouldn't anyone want one?

Still, it's Saturday now, so I have to stop dreaming and get on with serving up tea. More anon maybe ...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

A sad tale about BT Fault Progress Reporting Service

Once upon a time there were two pensioners in a village that only just escaped being a suburb of a medium-sized city by dint of half a mile of green fields. One of them had just come home after a week in hospital. That was on Monday. His family wanted to phone to welcome him home, but ... the pensioners' phone was dead.

Their soon-to-be daughter-in-law reported the fault. That was Monday, too.

On Tuesday, their oldest daughter phoned her soon-to-be sister-in-law, and found out what was up. She also learnt that her father had taken seriously ill. A home-visit had been requested from the doctor. (Her mother had to go next-door to a neighbour to phone the GP, as the phone still wasn't working.) The soon-to-be sister-in-law had called BT again. The oldest daughter tried, too, and impressed upon the call-centre lady that this was an emergency. "Yes, we have it down as a priority."

Wouldn't you think that would merit quick action? No. They'd rectified a fault with the exchange but a different engineer now had to check the line between the house and the exchange. That wouldn't be until Wednesday.

On Wednesday, both women complained again to BT. In fact, the older daughter asked how much of a priority a priority had to be, for it to be dealt with in less than 24 hours. No answer. So she said she was phoning the evening newspaper. And that quickly finished the call.

On Thursday morning, and again at midday, there was still apparently nothing happening. The sick pensioner was now more comfortable - still in bed, but now out of danger. And then, at 3.40 pm, the daughter tried phoning home once more - and someone answered!

"I should think so too! You've taken long enough to get my phone fixed!", came the angry answer. Not what you'd have expected, really.

"Mum - it's me! I've been doing all I can, considering I'm in Glasgow and you're in East Anglia ..."

"Hmphh! Sorry - I thought you were the BT lady." Ah well, we all make mistakes!

But the chilling thing is that the daughter learnt today that her father nearly died on Tuesday night - and her mother couldn't even have phoned to tell her. All because someone dug up the road at the end of their street, and severed a connection. Okay, that wasn't BT's fault. But wouldn't you think BT might have investigated sooner?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Give me strength! Son no.3 was six a couple of weeks ago. "Oh, he wants Mario Kart Double Dash", said his biggest brother - with the confidence of a Brother Who Knows.

I ordered it. It arrived. Then Son no.3 started telling me what he really, really wanted for his birthday. Mario Kart didn't feature.

Back to - obtained the currently coveted game. Which was well-received, on the day.

And NOW (and I mean now, literally five minutes ago) - "Can I spend my birthday money, Mum? Can I buy Mario Kart online?"

"NO!!!!! screeched Pseudo Supermum as she clung onto the phone trying to sort out Nana's telephone problem remotely. "Wait - do NOT order it online!!!!!!!"

Back into the lounge went Son no.3, wailing in protest to his father. "Mu - Mu - Mummy won't let me spend My Own Birthday Money."

Super Spouse : "Mum - what's all this about?"

I still haven't sorted out Nana's telephone problem, but Son no.3 is now playing Mario Kart happily upstairs. Super Spouse is reassured that I haven't turned into the Mummy from hell after all!

And I'm considering ordering a book from Amazon - What kids really want that money can't buy!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Google is wonderful! After the Sunday morning jaunt to church - teeth clenched in the car while the boys bickered - I thought I'd look for something relevant to write about. I typed in "children behaving in church", and lo and behold, there was an Orthodox American lady, Matushka Ann Lardas, writing a whole long contribution about Children in Church. Whether in an Orthodox American or a Church of Scotland church, the problems seem to be very similar. At least today, mine did behave in church - after squabbling furiously all the way there. Give me strength!

And there I was, urging "now remember, don't run and shout. It's harvest today - DON'T drop the fruit! Here's your collection. Look, it goes in your pockets - right down in your pockets - you don't drop it down the wee gap in the wall covering, because it'll never be found again. You remember to put it in the collection plate at the right time ...."

Then, as the service progressed, I had to sit there at the organ watching Small Fry lie on the pew, squirm about, make faces and mimic what's going on - all the time thinking, what a good people not many people can actually see what's going on ...

My friends, there is nothing new. Take a look at this Perthshire diary for April 9th (our wedding anniversary, coincidentally!) 1593. Big Grammar School kids were misbehaving in kirk in those days. At least mine will have learnt some sense by that age!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Two parties in six days is almost too much! This afternoon we were off to the Lagoon, Paisley. I was taking seven little boys ice-skating. But everything went pear-shaped. Last Sunday, they assured me that the Lagoon Ice Skating Rink was open to the public from 2.30 to 4.30 pm today. We got there to discover that there was a skating championship, all day and half the night.


Everyone dashed home for swimming togs, and we all swam instead. Noble Spouse was supposed to join us at the rink after he'd played for a wedding, so I primed the front-of-house staff to look for "a man in his sixties, wearing his suit and looking as though he's been to a wedding". Which they did - rather to his surprise - so he found us and drank coffee while I wallowed in the pool with the boys.

Then we came home for scampi or dippers and chips, loads of cola (hyped up little boys to follow!), and birthday cake in the shape of an "eleven". Oh, I do try! Not forgetting the party bags. I tried to suggest that eleven was too old for party bags, but that didn't go down too well, so I had to rush to organise them this morning.

Now for our slimming tea! Some joke, even if we stick to the diet sheet, given that we've nibbled chips already ...

Monday, September 13, 2004

Pseudo-Supermum cheats! We didn't attempt to have a sixth birthday party at home. Instead, we went to Brewsters at Brewer's Fayre. The kids jumped and bounced and screamed and generally went wild - BUT IT WASN'T IN OUR HOUSE! Fabulous. I'd recommend it to any working parents. All this and no clearing up afterwards - who could ask for more?!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dangerous stuff. Pseudo Supermum has had a brief course in HTML and web-site posting. And been told about affiliate advertising. What will she get up to next? Is there a little entrepreneur lurking beneath that demure exterior? Watch this space, and see what happens!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Pseudo-Supermum has had a frustrating day. Three optician's appointments this morning - God help me, but God help the optician, too. No.3 son wriggled, squiggled and giggled. Nos.2 & 3 acted up, then nos. 1 & 2 bickered all the way back to the car. Ergo, no sweets were bought.

This afternoon I lost the back door keys. Clearly I need either an Angel of the lost keys (picture by Beverley Ashe - artwork at, or a Domestic Angel (a poem, The Angel Connection, by Virginia (Ginny) Ellis – includes the memorable line “domestic angels find lost keys”). Had I lost them outside the house, the Royal Mail has a service which would have helped me - but I hadn't.

Noble Super Spouse found them, two hours after I started looking. On the wrong hook. Still in the kitchen, but next to the sieves on the wall. By that stage I was convinced I must be suffering premature dementia.

Time to cook tea. If I remember where I left the ingredients ...?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Frantic Friday
Pseudo-Supermum took the afternoon off in order to play for a wedding at my church. Then went home, compiled a shopping list and went to Asda. The Just4weeks diet adds pounds to your shopping bill, but is definitely working, though we're grumbling a little at what "the menu" decrees we're going to eat each day!

After tea, Noble Spouse took no.3 son to Anchor Boys (at the local church) . A little later, I took no.1 son to my church for Boys' Brigade. Went home to collect no.3 son from Anchor Boys- and then, a couple of hours later, went BACK to my church to collect no.1 son, leaving a babysitter in charge of nos. 2 & 3! I've made five return trips to church in three days. Is this a record?

Noble Spouse is out at a tram meeting. They're probably into Valuable Drinking Time in a local hotel by now. Lucky them - there's not even a sniff of wine in our fridge tonight!

Precious little time in which to do any serious reading, so I am going to put my feet up in the lounge and do some now. If I did less, I'd do what was left, better. Work that one out!

Anyone reading this - spare a thought for our family this weekend; my father is to have a complex hernia operation tomorrow. We're all hoping it goes well, as he has a very involved medical history.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Wild Wednesday
Pseudo-Supermum has been haring about like a mad thing today. Worked a half-day, then in my half-day's leave this afternoon, I dashed to school to collect no.2 son. Took him to hospital for his regular mole-check by the dermatologist. Went home so he could change and have an ice-lolly, then took him BACK to school for after-school soccer.

No.3 son is six today, so I collected no.1 & no.3 from the playground and we went to buy a hamster while we waited for no.2 son to finish his soccer. Nana will be so delighted to think that her birthday money bought a hamster - more cage-cleaning for hard-working Pseudo-Supermum, since no-one else ever offers to do it!

Back home with all three boys and an albino hamster. There are now three females in our house - me, a gerbil and a hamster. Things are looking up. The hamster has pink fluffy bedding - arguably the most feminine accessory in the house!

After tea - and birthday cake (stuff the diet for a few minutes!), it was time to take no.1 son to his piano lesson and no.2 to Junior Boys' Brigade, then collect no.1 after his lesson and take him home.

As I write, Noble Super-Spouse is away to fetch no.2 son home again. I hope he's had a wonderful time - it was his first time there. It's a well-run group, so I anticipate a positive reaction.

Did I mention diet? It's a low-carbohydrate diet, being featured in Glasgow's Evening Times newspaper at the moment. Significantly, we've stopped snacking and eating supper. So in a sense, whatever else we eat, we are likely to lose weight! I am a little concerned at how little carbohydrate there is in the diet, but once we get to a reasonable weight then we'll just add bread in again. We're certainly doing better with fruit & veg these days, and I've lost about six pounds, which is a reasonable start. Virtuous, but dull - that's me!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

So - where did the time go? I've been sooooo busy! At work we've been having training in using html and creating websites (haven't been let loose on an unsuspecting public yet, though!) - and upgrading our skills on our computer system. At home I've been busy being PseudoSupermum, whilst also getting to grips with being a part-time postgrad and thinking Erudite Thoughts again. Haven't quite got my head around the concept of thinking myself back to the early 19th century yet.

The boys are back at school - all uniform has been altered, labelled etc - and it's almost as though summer had never been when you look outside. It's dreich, and damp. That's the end of the Scottish summer for you. Actually, I like the cooler mornings. There's a kind of wistful air about the "last days of summer", and it's rather nice.

Now to wear another of my hats - organist/choirmistress extraordinaire. Choir is back for the first rehearsal tonight. Here we go ....

Sunday, August 15, 2004

I'm going to tell you two words that shouldn't even be allowed in adjacent sentences, let alone near each other in real life. How to do this? Well, the first is "Coca Cola".

I'll continue, gingerly. You don't want to know how long it took me last Sunday lunchtime when I discovered the freezer was covered in frozen - er - well, that says it all, really. We got back from the summer fete at Aunt May's residential home, and I thought I'd just chill a can of coke in the .... oops! I nearly put the words together again. Unfortunately instead of getting it out half an hour later, I forgot until I needed something out of the freezer the next day. NEVER AGAIN. Fellow Supermums, if your offspring ever has the bright idea of freezing a can, please tell them the above tale, and beg, nay implore them not to even think about it.

Sunday lunch last weekend was somewhat delayed while I defrosted the freezer. Had to be done.

No.1 Son announced yesterday that at last he feels he's kind of "grown up". What happened? Did his voice break? Nah. Has he got his first girlfriend? No way. We just went and bought his first mobile phone, saved up for with his own cash over the past few months. He knew exactly which model he wanted, and which network. The network didn't have the model, so he chose another network and discovered - oh, yeah! - he had just saved twenty quid into the bargain. What a happy boy. Then we bought new school shoes, new trainers, and a leather wallet. (Now THAT makes me feel he's growing up - a proper wallet, not just a purse.)

On the down side - school begins in a week, and Asda had No Plimsolls. Which leaves me with two out of three boys plimsoll-less. Haven't decided how to sort that one out yet!

Wrote up a report on something that arose in my research, over the past few days. That's fine - until I look at the list of other things I undertook to follow up on. Help, I don't know where to start. Last night I was too knackered, and that's the truth!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

What a week! Went down to Norfolk after work, a week past Friday. We arrived around 1 am, and that was very quick, believe me. The reason for the visit was my niece's christening on Sunday afternoon. And all went well. She looked beautiful, behaved beautifully - only crying when the vicar sat her down on the edge of the cold stone font! - and we all had a great time. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, so everyone sat in the pub garden to eat the christening buffet - by far the best solution when nearly every child was an active little boy! Strange to think that this time next year, Jess will be running around after her cousins.

Pseudo-Supermum has a question for all those other supermums out there. Does every grandmother feel it necessary to dictate what time her grandsons should go to bed? For God's sake, they're OUR KIDS! My brother pointed this out. My sister's daughter (aged 14) said the same. "But they're in my house", decreed She Who Must Be Obeyed. So?! They went to bed when their parents told them to. Sorry and all that!

Anyway, we drove back to Scotland on Monday morning, without having any arguments or upsets. Back to work on Wednesday. Short weeks are rather nice, aren't they?

Pseudo-Supermum spent Saturday morning being a research student in the University Library, and the afternoon quietly boiling in blazing hot sunshine at Aged Auntie's residential home. They had a summer fete. We won some very nice sherry, a couple of cans of coke and cartons of juice in the raffle!

Son no.1 was grateful to get out of the outing, when he was invited to a friend's for a sleepover, and it sounds as though he had a wonderful time. And went to bed late - this evening we all went to see Garfield the Movie, and he fell asleep in the car on the way home.

No.2 son is spending a week on a kids' course at the art school starting tomorrow. He is very excited about this. Pseudo-Supermum looked at the art portfolios in the local bargain book-and-art store, but they were quite dear and rather heavy. Over the weekend, I made a red nylon carry-bag for him, which cost less than half the price and is much lighter in weight. He's proud of my effort!

Pseudo-Supermum needs to look at her notes and decide where to start with her follow-up reading. Research at the age of 21 was easier, with no distractions, but the motivation was less. This time it's a precious second chance and must not be wasted!

I have one more magnificent distraction upstairs - a new biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden. If it stays upstairs, I might get some more serious reading done first! There are so many demands on my time at weekends.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


You see a mad woman. Mad at politicians, mad at those superwomen who conned us all in the 'nineties. Whose damn stupid idea was it that working mothers could truly "have it all"? The career (not just a job, oh no, we had to aim for a career), the beautiful smiling children and contented spouse (because his wife is earning good money and is a fulfilled person in her own right) ....

Let me tell you it loud and clear, sisters - it was a load of poppycock!

This evening I came home to the beautiful smiling children yelling at each other like fishwives. (Okay, they're boys - they make worse fishwives, I can tell you.) Son no.1 has an autocratic, dictatorial style that just might make him a good army captain, but he'll never get a job in any career where gentle persuasion is the name of the game. Son no.2 winds up Son no.3 until the latter retaliates. That gives Son no.2 the chance to kick or thump him.

The contented spouse (who should have been contented because Pseudo-Supermum made a prawn curry last night, ready for him just to heat up) - was discontented, because he got in trouble for adding half a pound more prawns to a curry that already contained three quarters of a pound of prawns. Resulting in far too much, which will end up being chucked out ...

The career mum had failed to bake scones for her colleagues' tea this afternoon (because before she made that curry, she took four little boys to the theatre yesterday evening, and there wasn't a lot of time left in between those activities). Maybe tonight..?

Tonight she was packing for an imminent trip to a family christening. Five people go, but one person packs. Ho, hum. And chasing boys to bed. (Noble spouse was contentedly using his resurrected computer while Pseudo Supermum whizzed around...)

She spoke to the neighbours and arranged for the care of the gerbils. Did a load of washing, set the tumble-drier going, left no.2 son's paint-stained tee-shirt soaking, then went to the 24-hour supermarket for caffeinated coffee (a rare treat) - when INSPIRATION set in. Asda cherry scones. I haven't baked scones, but I've bought them. Give me strength, it is now a quarter to eleven at night and I have to polish Noble Spouse's silver belt buckle and sporran opening frame. Can't possibly relax, let alone go to bed, until that's done.

Have I done any research reading today? Nope! Failed again.

I wanted to be a good mother. I wanted to have a career. I wanted to be a nice person. So - where did I go wrong? And where do I start?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sulky Pseudo-Supermum asks herself whether ALL ten-year old boys are bolshie, or just her own one?  He asks a question, gets a perfectly civil reply, and retorts, "At LAST!  An answer."   Doesn't like being told to do anything - well, none of them do, really - honestly, I despair. 
Does anyone out there have a son who does what he's told First Time?  How did you achieve it?
Having spent the entire lunch-break whizzing round town, it now (at 8.15 pm) feels as though I've had a busy day.  I've bought a christening gift and a birthday present, and been to the bank.  Then done the rest of a full day's work.  I even got somewhere near finishing what I intended to do last week.  The holiday backlog hasn't entirely gone yet.  Sigh!
Three cheers for Babel Fish - it enabled me to send an email to a publisher, in perfect Spanish, today.  I got my Spanish "O" level exam in 1975 after studying it for just 8 months, but I'm afraid that means I can't string two Spanish words together nowadays.  However, clever Babel Fish did the job for me in seconds.  Now all I want is an answer.  I did ask them to reply in simple language ... 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Well, this has been "Fair Monday" in Glasgow - the start of "Fair Fortnight".  So called because this was traditionally the fortnight when all the factories closed for their fortnight's summer holiday - and there was a fairground on Glasgow Green during that time.  We don't all have the same holidays these days, but "Fair Monday" is still a public holiday.
Pseudo-Supermum stayed in bed until almost 10 am.  There was one, close to me, who accused me of being selfish.  I disagree.  I work my socks off most of the time, and it's back to work tomorrow after our family holiday - so today I was darn well going to take it easy....
As if!  After a late breakfast, it took the rest of the morning to clean two fish-tanks (why Pseudo- Supermum gets the job is something of a mystery, as they aren't her fish) - and play "hunt the door-key for no.1 son.  He swore he had looked for it, couldn't find it, and couldn't remember putting it in any unusual place.  Pseudo-Supermum wasn't convinced, and continued looking ...
The key was in a little pot in the dining-room, a place only Pseudo-Supermum could have dreamt of.  A safe place where burglars wouldn't ever find it.  Not that they'd need it if they had got that far into the house, when you come to think about it. Apologies to no.1 son.
This afternoon we went to hire a game for the Game-Cube, then I started making tea.  Dotty old aunty was coming to see us.   The poor soul gets more confused each time we see her.  She asked Noble Spouse where "the rest of the crowd" were going for the holidays.  It took a while to work out who "the crowd" were.  You'll never guess - she was referring to the girls that she did her war effort with, 60-odd years ago.   She asks a question then asks again, because she doesn't remember asking it the first time.  Asks the boys, repeatedly, which school they're at (etc), thanks me, repeatedly, for her meal ... and can't be left to go to the bathroom on her own.  She knows what to do once she's there, but loses her way as soon as she opens the door afterwards.  Alzheimer's is a cruel disease.
While Noble Spouse took aunty home again after tea, I trimmed our front hedge and tackled next-door's into the bargain.  They haven't got a hedgecutter.  The results may not be perfect but are definitely an improvement. 
I'm reading a book about a TV experiment re-enacting the experiences of American settlers in log-cabins.  It's fascinating.  I plan to spend the rest of the evening curled up with my
proverbial "good book"!
Back to work tomorrow?  Sigh!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Pseudo-Supermum is back from her holidays. We had a great 10 days in Brittany, but unfortunately the weather wasn't at its best. On the second night there were five in the bed during a terrific thunder and lightening storm. And the next day, we were confined to the chalet, during tumultuous rain. Boy, were we glad not to have been in a tent! Apart from that - the temperature soared to 29 degrees Celsius one day, and it was mostly sunny or at least dry the rest of the time - but not very warm. The unheated swimming pools went down well with no.1 son (who can swim) - less well with no.2 (who still can't) - and no.3 son was totally unimpressed. Yours truly HAD to go in whenever no.2 wanted to play on the chute and the flume, since the pool he landed up in was deep up to his chin - he wouldn't slide unless I was there to catch him. Super Spouse wouldn't get wet at all, no way.

The beach was, as advertised, 50 metres from the camp, and was perfect for kids - rocks, rock pools, nice sand to dig, and (unlike some British beaches) no ice-cream bars, tea-bars, shoddy gift-shops etc. So that was a total success - all we needed was buckets, spades and towels and we were set for a couple of hours' happy amusement.

We got to know a very nice Swiss-German family with three boys, in the neighbouring chalet and shared some enjoyable beach times with them. No.2 son was so proud that he had made the first move to befriend them, and just as proud that the joint barbecue one evening was his own idea.

What more can I tell? Well, we enjoyed (or should I say "enjoyed") a couple of meals out, though the boys don't yet understand about waiting patiently to be served. We all enjoyed what we ate, but the atmosphere was a bit tense as we tried to persuade them to behave. We had a boat trip to some caves one day, and that was a big success - apart from the drive there and back. You see, we happened to have chosen the day when the Tour de France bike race went through Quimper, and that meant that cars were plainly NOT going to get through Quimper. It meant quite a detour on the way home, which didn't go down too well.

It was obviously not quite the best ten days to have chosen - we also hit Bastille Day on our penultimate day - all the shops were shut, and we couldn't buy a stamp to save our souls. We could have struggled into town on foot to see a late night fireworks celebration, but it was very late indeed, and there would have been so many people. Taking the car to the fireworks was out of the question - it was difficult parking in Benodet even on a normal day.

We had a great hire car, though my nerves were jangling whenever we drove on those narrow Brittany roads with high, steep-sided kerbs. Super Spouse bounced the car off a kerb so hard, on our way to the Eurocamp, that the next day we had to go and get the wheel rim straightened out and the wheel re-balanced. Did that make him more cautious thereafter? Well, sort of ....
I didn't get to drive the car. It was a left-hand drive automatic. We're used to right-hand drive manual transmission. So - I was sitting where I would normally sit, but as a passenger rather than the driver. And that meant I had the best view of when we were about to hit the kerb. Super Spouse can't STAND being warned "mind the kerb" every few minutes - well, I can see it must be annoying - but I get anxious when I feel we're about to bash a hired car off a kerb. Fraught moments!

Ah well - there's a Scots expression, "back to auld claes and parritch" (back to old clothes and porridge) - and that's what is ahead of me this week. Back to work, routines, getting up on time and so on. For the boys, back to the childminder whenever Super Spouse has to work. Work is thin for him in the summer, so that isn't as bad as it sounds, at least from the boys' point of view.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I feel like a balloon that has been unknotted. You let it go, and fizzzz - up into the clouds it goes, getting smaller all the time. That's me.

Honestly! I work all day. I come home (admittedly to a tea that has been cooked for me) and then put away a veritable mountain of laundry etc, sew in name-tags in new holiday clothes for the boys, and finally nip to Asda for a few essentials that I omitted to buy last Friday.

Home comes the hunter. "Come here!" calls the resident caveman. "Look at this."

("This" being a complicated formattted document that was created on an Applemac. We use PCs. You've guessed it - it wouldn't go right.)

I wanted to read Stenhouse's book on Scottish lyric poetry. Research-y stuff. Could I? No, I had to to have a go at sorting out the problematical document.

Then what? The friend who created the document on his Applemac, sent Super Spouse a nice, neat, Word-compatible file. Bless you, Bill! My friend for life. NOW I can get back to Stenhouse and his lyric poetry.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A few weeks ago, we received two suitcases with the last possessions of Super Spouse's deceased Australian uncle. The kilt was the biggest surprise. I wasn't there when Super Spouse tried it on, and it promptly slid off him. SS isn't slim. But the Deceased Uncle was very stout indeed.

Well, the big news is that the kilt alterations lady has measured SS and is altering the kilt and jacket. He needs various other accessories to complete the outfit, but you can now be fairly certain that there will be a “kiltie” at the christening of our latest niece. I hope Norfolk is ready for this.

The boys have one more week at school, so things are winding down – and there are “fun days” galore. Not much work being done, needless to say. Tomorrow, sons no.2 & no.3 are going to the school church service, but no.1 son's class (for some reason) is going to an athletics event somewhere else. Ours is not to reason why. It has been wet and windy here, so I don’t know how enjoyable the athletics will be. Then on Friday, no.1’s class is going swimming as a reward for good behaviour, and no.2’s lot are going to a big park. Unless it rains, when they’ll go to a museum instead.
I haven’t heard about no.3 going anywhere – yet!

I took my car to the garage yesterday to find out why it wasn’t riding the bumps very smoothly. I left it there before work, walked to the Underground, and found that the Underground was “off” in both directions - so I had to rush for a bus instead! I think it was a minor miracle that I was a mere ten minutes late.

The car wasn’t ready last night, but it didn’t matter as I was being treated to a meal with a handful of colleagues who’d been on the job evaluation panel. (Better still, SS & no.2 son had been to a concert, so they picked me up and taxied me home after the meal.)

This morning, therefore, I still had no car. I would have walked to the Underground, but it’s a good 15 minutes’ walk on a dry day. It was wet and windy, so I took a bus. At lunchtime, after the mechanic had concluded there was nothing wrong with the car apart from being an old lady, I took the Underground from work to near the garage, walked the rest of the way, got the car, drove to Govan Underground (so it would be there for me to get home with) and took the Underground back to work. There is nowhere to park in town – the nearest multi-storey is closed for renovation – so it would have been daft to take the car in with me.

Anyway, at least that meant I got home at the usual time this evening, ready to do the dash to no.1 son's piano lesson. I took the other two too, since SS wasn’t feeling well and wanted to sleep. Well, I tried to do my customary 15 minutes’ organ practice at church while no.1 had his lesson. Some hope! The joys of parenthood? (A colleague deputised for me as organist a couple of weeks ago when I was in Dublin. She was wide-eyed with horror as she recalled watching her 4-year old coming into church with the rest of the Sunday School. Well, I've witnessed this every week for the past nearly 11 years. And the little monsters are still capable of giving me kittens on the organ stool. It's the realisation that one of your offspring is doing something Dreadful - but you can't do a blind thing about it!)

I think it’s time I went to bed. Night-night!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

So there I was, all geared up to go and continue the Tidy Office project (imminent arrival of new boss, don't want office to create a poor impression!) - when no.2 son awoke with a temperature and snuffly nose. Was I going to make it to work this morning? No, I wasn't. Super Spouse was already commissioned to take sons 1 & 3 to school, wait for no.1 son's cello lesson to finish, and ferry him off to the orthodontist. So I simply had to stay at home until Super Spouse returned after all that!

Incidentally, you should see our new pocket paper hanky packs: "pocket tissues for bunged up beaks and snuffly snouts". Even I couldn't have dreamt up that slogan! Why did I mention it? Well, if no.2 son would Blow His Nose instead of sniffing constantly, then he wouldn't feel sick in his tummy, now would he?! Hopefully he'll be okay for school tomorrow.

What wouldn't I give for a free and gratis day off, just lying around in bed snoozing gently. The UK doesn't do duvet days. Lucky Scandinavians!

The orthodontist has just booked another appointment six months away, still undecided as to whether a dental brace is needed. No.1 son actually WANTS a brace. Eh?! I hated mine. My sister flushed two down the toilet (only admitting it twenty years later), and the dentist said that since Hilary clearly didn't want to wear a brace, he was not willing to make her a third. Wise guy!

Anyway, here we are, still not knowing if a brace will be needed. And to think that I opted for him to learn cello rather than trombone, for fear a brace might get in the way of blowing! Ah well, I like the cello more than the trombone. It was a good choice for him.

I made it in to work for 12.30, which wasn't bad. Did a bit more work on Operation Desk Tidy. Pondered a few imponderables before it was time to come home again. Had tea, watched a bit of TV, went to choir practice, went to Asda, bought enough food to last us until a proper shopping trip on Saturday. Tomorrow evening we are being visited by Super Spouse's Canadian Second Cousin and her friend. My sole concern was to ensure that I could feed them with minimum effort and at short notice! Being at work all day means there's no chance of trying to be a Domestic Goddess or even a Pseudo Super Hostess. Just an off-duty working mum, doing her best, as ever ...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Virtually no time for being a Serious Researcher in my spare time, because Pseudo Supermum had no spare time.

We're halfway through June, and what have I achieved? Not a lot! Went to Dublin for a conference last weekend, which was nice. Networking was every bit as valuable as the serious sessions. And the sun shone - can't be bad. For all Monday was mostly taken up with getting home, I was shattered on Tuesday. Had a splitting headache by the afternoon.

Paracetamol wasn't helping. Neither did getting up in the middle of the night to see Super Spouse off on his day trip to the Hague with a crowd of his pals. Neither did the paracetamol at 4.45 am. I hit Boots the Chemist at 8.45 and bought stronger pain-relief. Bingo! By coffee-time I felt normal, which was just as well. By that stage I couldn't have taken even one more tablet before I hit the daily limit.

My Last Boss But One came in to see us all unexpectly this morning. What a nice surprise - he was slim, tanned, and looked amazingly fitter and better than when he retired nearly six years ago. Beaming, he assured us that he didn't miss us one bit.

I whizzed the boys to the childminder before school this morning, whizzed them home from the childminder (via the chip-shop) this evening, whisked them to no.1 son's piano lesson (and ten minutes' organ practice for me while we waited for him), then whizzed home again for homework, baths, milkshake and bed.

My talented mother has just sent another gorgeous quilt - this time for no.2 son. He is delighted - what other little boy has a hand-made quilt covered in multi-coloured aeroplanes?! No.3 son has his zoo quilt already. No.1 can't wait to see what he'll be getting in his turn!

Monday, May 31, 2004

A Bank Holiday - time to relax, let your hair down, take things easy ...
Well, to a point.

Saturday morning was the supermarket run. Saturday afternoon was spent on the continuing sorting of Dotty Aunty's flat. The whole family got fed up in 90 minutes flat, when we gave up for the day and went home again! We'll have to ask our babysitter to sit for us so we can go across without the boys next time.

No.3 son had an upset tummy on Saturday night, so the time that was going to be spent being a Serious Researcher, went on keeping the washing machine stoked.

Sunday was pretty much like any other Sunday - church (no.1 son played his cello for the first time) - swimming classes - church for an evening youth service - then home to get the boys to bed. Finally - oh joy, what Pseudo-Supermum could resist the chance to shampoo the sick-stained lounge carpet at the end of the night. (On Saturday I'd done my best with the carpet. On Sunday morning in the harsh light of morning, I thought it looked stained. More so than usual, that is. By Sunday night, under electric light, I couldn't see the specific stains that I thought I noticed earlier, but it needed cleaning anyway. I filled the tank twice, and by the time I'd finished it did look more acceptable. And bang went any time for being a Serious Researcher. Again.

Monday, ah, the Bank Holiday proper at last! What can we do to make it fun for the boys? Let's get friends round. One for no.2 son. Last night no.1 son's best school friend agreed to come across then five minutes later said he didn't want to after all. Devastated no.1 son. Not to worry, we have another good friend (not from the same school) who did turn out to be free, so he came across after lunch. Mental note - home-made pizza goes down very well, so long as you have three hours clear in which to make it. I washed two cars and tidied the garden while I waited for the bread-machine, and then for the dough to prove. No.3 son was a little pest because we couldn't think of a little friend to invite round to keep him company. Shame!

Now the friends have all gone home, and Super Spouse has taken no.1 son to the pictures. Won't the fickle school-friend be mad to think he might have been able to go too?

So all I have to do is supervise a Grand Tidy Up, cello practice, two hairwashes - and then I can try (again) to be a Serious Researcher for an hour or two.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Eye-strain! Regular doses of paracetamol made Thursday's headache go away after 24 hours. Result? I was left feeling deflated and TIRED. Exhausted, more like.

Pseudo-Supermum didn't do the supermarket run. I put two loads of washing through, sorted out my bibliography, and fiddled about playing organ music on the piano. And wondering which piano music would fit the organ. The latter got me nowhere. I wanted something loud and triumphant for the choir to process in with tomorrow morning. Nearly all my music is at church, and nothing at home was going to be suitable.

Pseudo-Supermum's no.1 son will be making his debut as a cellist at church. Just for 45 seconds, but it's a start. Here's hoping it goes okay!

I have a load of phone-calls to make. Other Ersatz Supermums will understand - arrange a babysitter here, a housesitter there, a sleepover THEN, a trip out at a different time, and find out whether Friend of Son no.2 is allowed to have one of our baby gerbils. Because by this time next week, we must have given them away.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Pseudo Supermum is not alone - there are "bad mothers" - or people who think they are - all over the place. You can visit the Bad Mothers Club website by clicking the link above.

Got home from work yesterday to find I was a Bad Mother yet again. No.3 son's shoes needed stitching done to them, earlier this year. I did it. Next time the stitching went (last half-term), we went to the cobbler and got it done properly. Last Friday Super Spouse told me the stitching had come undone again. Hmmmm.

Saturday was busy. Sunday I played at church, took boys swimming in the afternoon, tore home for tea then went out to play at an old folks' home with the choir. No time to go and buy new shoes.Monday evening, Super Spouse was out. No way of going to get new shoes. Last night, therefore, shoes were imperative - for no.3 son would not be allowed to wear the old tatty ones to school today. Said Super Spouse.

Also - horror! no.1 son had a PATCH on his knee. (Yes, I did it. It was better than wearing school trousers with a hole in them, and that is why school trouser manufacturers supply two patches per pair. Surely?) That was thoroughly reprehensible for a Pseudo Supermum. Good thing I'm now a signed up member of the Bad Mothers Club, isn't it?

I'm a bad worker, too. I was grumbling that it was taking hours to load a whole lot of info onto the work website. Well, you'll have to go faster, I was told. Actually, it's because I had created nearly four times as much info, that it was taking me a little longer than my colleague to load my share up onto the website. Go faster? Aw shucks, what I should have done is created less info in the first place. You can't win. All that keyboarding gave me one hell of a headache.

Came home with the headache. STOP holding your head, dear. It looks stupid. Oh, sorry. It just hurts.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sometimes things get better, sometimes worse. On Tuesday we had an attempted break-in. Super Spouse arrived home just as the burglar alarm went off. Thumping sounds round the back of the house confirmed his suspicions. He tore through the house to see a man smashing our dining-room window with our garden table. He'd tried the kitchen window already unsuccessfully, had smashed the outer layer of the double-glazing in the dining room but was having difficulty with the inner pane - the one which would have got him INTO the house. Hubby yelled, the cretin shrugged and mouthed "Sorry" and loped off into - well, God knows where. He disappeared up the street and by the time the Police came, he was no-where to be seen.

So Super Spouse had the insurance people to ring, the double-glazing firm to call-out, and so on - God, what a nightmare. Yes, we were very lucky - I do see that. Super Spouse had two things to do on the way home from the school run. What a good thing he decided only to run the first errand, or he'd have arrived home to a burgled house. And only an hour earlier, I had looked at a new bank card that I'd left on the table, then decided not to leave it there but to take it to work with me. It could so, so easily have ended differently.

We feel a lot less secure now. The knowledge that it was so nearly a catastrophe ...

Yesterday I played the piano at a Boys' Brigade closing ceremony. It was an impressive evening - I just hadn't realised it would take THREE WHOLE HOURS. Super Spouse simply couldn't believe I had been at church all that time. I HADN'T left my phone on - for it to have rung would have been sheer bad manners - and I didn't want to sidle outside to use it. (I was conspicuously at the front of the hall.) I got home to find myself well and truly in the doghouse. Clearly a reckless and irresponsible totally un-supermum. You'd have thought I had been with another man, not a whole hall-full of adolescent boys in blue uniforms!