Thursday, March 30, 2006

What do you do, fellow super-mums, when you're sitting at work quietly answering queries, and the phone rings. A colleague answers it for you, and you promise to return the call.

Having dealt with the query, you're left wondering - what number was SuperSpouse phoning from? Aware that your boss is sitting a mere ten feet away, you work through all the possibilities with as little fuss as possible, and finally, there he is - with another query. This one requires a crystal ball: "What waist am I?"

Girls, I don't even know my own waist measurement! And it was a strange query to answer sitting out at a public enquiry point. You'll be impressed to hear that I must have guessed right, for he managed to buy his new trousers!

Thursday wouldn't be Thursday without choir-practice. I've taken it. I've reported back to the minister, I've filed an online supermarket order, I've taken in swimming shorts - now there remains the washing to hang up, and perhaps half an hour of research before supper-time. Yawn! If only there were 30 hours in a day ...

Monday, March 27, 2006

The house next-door? Not sold yet. However, we're living in interesting times. The house is to be auctioned in a fortnight's time. There was a viewing on Saturday - for just ten minutes. Several couples turned up to look round. Meanwhile, my neighbours and I were in that house before you could say "Jack Robinson", and what a scene of desolation we saw!

The "offers over" price reflects what the auctioneers describe as "internal upgrading required". That's a gross understatement! There's damp. There are stains. There's a sagging bathroom floor and bulging kitchen ceiling. Two massive trees obscuring all light in the front room downstairs. Two massive trees ditto in the back yard. God knows where the roots go - but the whole place needs a massive injection of cash to bring it up to scratch. We had no idea that the house in between our own comfortable, renovated properties, was so horrifically awful. Good luck to whoever takes it on - it will be a major project. But worth the effort, as our own homes prove.
I have to say that when we bought our house, it needed improvement - but nothing like as much as next-door does. Shudder!

Pseudo-Supermum is off work tomorrow. I have to be - there's a strike causing Cello Boy's school and halls of residence to be closed. So, he and I are going to be good students together at home. There was a half-baked plan for him to meet up with friends and mooch around the west end together. (We've never allowed this before, so it had novelty value.) Too much novelty value, as it transpired - one of the other conspirators decided against it, and the mother of a third put a veto on it altogether...

The new, alternative plan, involves renting a DVD and watching it at home. Probably a more sensible idea, really!

Friday, March 24, 2006

We don't yet know who bought the house next-door. Neither do we know whether the new owner will occupy it or let it out to tenants. Ooh, the excitement (and trepidation) of it all!

Turning from the sublime to the ridiculous - my Tesco delivery has just arrived. Bad news - all the chilled goods got left out of the van. The choice was mine: get it delivered on Sunday (yes, Sunday - two days away) or get a refund. I went for the refund. Now - all I have to do is find time to go and buy the chilled stuff myself. Nuts! There was no point in haranguing the poor van-man, nor the lady on the customer helpline. But I thought I was saving myself time by ordering online - and instead, I have to spend some more time rectifying the error.

To my great sadness, my first university has a vacancy that I'd love - but my CV isn't good enough for me to apply. How quickly can I get that PhD? How many articles and papers can I notch up? Not fast enough, that's for sure! And then there's the small problem that I have "wasted" 20 years NOT doing music research, even though I have pursued a professional career in a related field - thereby putting myself at an instant disadvantage against other candidates.

I hope my sons' career paths go more satisfactorily for them. Who knows what their futures hold?

Cello-Boy is doing really well at present, I must say. Two Saturdays ago, he came first in his class at the music festival - AND got a very good distinction in his Cello Grade 4 exam, all on the same day. We're going to celebrate in the traditional family way - in a Tandoori restaurant tomorrow!

Meanwhile - I must do some more reading. I MUST improve my CV. And this PhD is just one part of that project!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I'm spooked! You don't expect to see prowlers trying to climb over your 6-foot high garden wall. So I banged on the window and yelled at them. They looked surprised.

"The house next door is up for auction. We want to see the back of the house. It's all right - I'm a businessman." They breed businessmen young and tough in the west of Scotland.

Aye, right. I let them know what I thought of people who went round climbing over other people's walls. And surely there must have been an organised viewing? Not my problem if they missed it!

"Ooh, narky neighbours!" As they stomped off down the lane, into a tiny red van and tore off into the distance.

Do you think they might have been put off? Watch this space.

I've had a lousy day. Headache and tired in the morning. Strong coffee and paracetamol saw that off. Headache and extremely tired at the meeting which I had to attend out of the office after lunch. Two strong coffees and paracetamol saw off the headache, but not the tiredness.

Bickering boys before tea, prowlers after tea, then a traffic-jam on the way to my choir-practice. I knew it wasn't my day today. I've DONE my online Tesco order (by dint of doing a partial order before I went out, just to ensure I got a delivery slot) - and now I can do a little light reading.

Doing a PhD as a full-time working mother is almost impossible. But I will not say impossible. I'm tenacious. Anyone who knows me will concur.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Well, I've survived my first supermarket trip since my surgery four weeks ago. I didn't expect to find the trolley heavy. I could have done without having a trolley with shoogly wheels, too. It's sod's law, isn't it? When you really, truly don't want a wonky trolley, you find too late that you've got one.

I came home, put everything away, and sank into a comfy chair with a cup of tea. That was enough effort for one day! I felt a bit stupid, pushing that damned trolley a few paces then stopping to have a rest. Manhandling it into a forward direction, having another wee push, then slowing down again. Humph. Do I feel like doing some research reading now, at 9.54 pm? Well, would you?

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm off to the hairdresser. My beautiful mahogany hair wasn't noticed the first time it was done. My hairdresser intensified the colour the next time - but, even when it was redder, my menfolk didn't notice. Now, I have discussed the possibility of going copper, or even red, with the girls at the salon. But truth to tell, I have gone off the idea. Something has to be done, as the white hairs are showing again. So - what next? Watch this space. It won't be noticed, so in a sense, it doesn't actually matter what I do to it. How about a middle-aged punk haircut? You dare me to?

The final straw? Our kettle has sprung a leak. I've fetched the old one down from the attic, but we've only had the new one for three or four months. It's a trivial grumble, but just rounds off a perfect Friday ...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What is wrong with this? I mean, I'm 47. So I'd say this was fairly appropriate?

Ah, well. Better luck next time, I tell myself. Poor PseudoSupermum's choice was scorned!

Right now, I have more to grumble about than a mere nightie, however. I came in from choir-practice hoping to do my online Tesco order. Alas, there are no delivery slots left until Sunday afternoon, which is inconvenient if I want to serve up a reasonable Sunday lunch!

Whether or not I am supposed to lift heavy weights yet, I am going to go to the supermarket in person tomorrow night. I'll get an Asda Ace to push the trolley out to the car and unload the contents into the boot, then I am not over-exerting myself too much.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday on business in Dundee this week. I found a modest but good hotel, near to everywhere I wanted to visit - had a spot of difficulty getting to it in the dark, but reader, it honestly wasn't my fault. Multimap didn't tell me about -

  1. The narrow footpath along the back of a school playing-field (not very nice)
  2. The eight-foot high brick wall at the end of a road, cutting me off from the crescent where my hotel was!
  3. The equally narrow alleyway with grotty back doorways into some kind of factory buildings - which I finally had to go down, if I wasn't going to be traipsing up and down dark deserted pathways all night long! Luckily there weren't any glue-sniffers or equally unsavoury characters using the doorways that night.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Here in Glasgow, we have eight inches of snow, which fell in less than eight hours overnight. I'm not going to church - it would be crazy to set out in a car with three young children, considering I absolutely cannot push the car if it gets stuck. That definitely constitutes over-exerting myself.

As for SuperSpouse - he was last seen driving away from the house - once he had uncovered the car - and I think he's plain daft. He has angina - he can't push the car if it gets stuck, either. But he's a man - he won't be told. Obviously, testosterone is akin to anti-freeze ....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My friend Ilona tells me it was International Women's Day on 8th March. No-one told me!

This wonderful cartoon was sent to me by Ilona. Her version had an extra couple of lines: "Less work, and More money". Isn't that what we all want?!

Here's the Big Question: do I get in touch with the career consultant who is willing to help me get my career on track? If I don't, I might regret it. Even if I do, there might not be another job that would fit my profile. I never was cut out to be a gambler.

"Out, damned spot!" - you can call me Lady Macbeth. Cello-Boy came home with ink on his shirt-collar. I've used Stain-Devil for ballpoint and felt-tip pen - repeatedly. Domestic bleach, ditto. Put it through the wash twice. The stain is less than it was, but still there.

"Sorry, Mum - the pen did say "non-fade ink". Now he tells me! But I won't be beaten.

It must be the weekend for spots. After paying all that money to get the carpets cleaned, the supermarket delivery men tramped dirt all down the hall last night, which I cleaned. More came in when we got back after swimming - I don't know which of us was to blame. And after going out on some errands, Ocarina-Kid merrily left some more muddy marks on the same carpet. I seem to spend my time on my hands and knees ...

It's a worse than typical Saturday in the Pseudo-Super household. Swimming lessons first thing. A cello exam mid-morning. A guitar lesson after lunch. A music festival mid-afternoon. Whilst SuperSpouse accompanied the young virtuoso at the festival, the rest of us went to get the car hand-washed. (I'm still following medical advice not to over-exert myself, and I'm afraid that means not heaving buckets of water or hoses about the place.)

Then we went to book Easter holiday activities for all three boys - guess what? It doesn't pay to be pseudo-super. They don't take bookings until Monday. Humph.

Cello-Boy has just phoned to say he got 87% in his festival piece, and came first. (To please his father, he says that the winning point was probably because he had his tie tucked into his trousers. Don't ask. Please!)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Last Wednesday night, no.2 son came out of Boys' Brigade talking about a Dads' Night this week. But SuperSpouse conducts a choir on Wednesday nights, so he couldn't go.

Nor could Big Brother. Nor could Pa (my father) - or any other male relatives, since they all live down in England. Sadly, it looked as though we couldn't field a Dad or even a Pseudo-Superdad, for tonight.

As we got into the car to go to Boys' Brigade this evening, no.2 son delivered his Coup de Grace, "But they said you could go instead", I was told. And there I was, tiddlywinked into attending Dads' Night with no.3 son in tow. I had been rather relishing an hour at home slobbing about with a cup of tea, before going back to pick up our Junior Boys' Brigade Boy, but there was no choice - I was going to be a surrogate Dad for the evening! Good thing I was wearing trousers - at least I blended in.

I opted out of the marching - well, they did call for "Dads, your turn now" - but this was quite fortuitous, since it meant they ended up in three lines of four Dads. I dutifully joined in all the games. And now here we all are back home again. No.3 son is in bed, no.2 is nearly there, and Choral Conducting SuperSpouse is due home any minute. The kettle is on. (It wondered why I had deserted it for the evening.)

Will I get any research reading done? It begins to look unlikely!

(The picture is of Strathkelvin Boys' Brigade - not our own group, but I couldn't find a better picture of marching BB Boys!)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Kids aren't born with instruction manuals. And just when you think you've compiled your own workable instructions, you find that the next model isn't retro-compatible with the first one. It gets worse. Sometimes they get bugs and viruses - and share them generously. You find yourself constantly having to download updates, even though you wrote the manual yourself. Sometimes you have to devise your own fix for particular glitches. Who'd have 'em?!

When does a responsible parent become an over-protective one? Is a twelve-year old skull any more resilient to rollerblading injuries than it was when it was eleven? Will it be tougher when it reaches thirteen?

For that matter - can any older, wiser, cooler parent advise me precisely where you identify a compromise between "safe" and "cool"? There has to be some kind of central ground. Does it (heaven forbid) entail going out and replacing what looks like a perfectly cool safety helmet with one that is officially 2006 cool? Because the alternative seems to be,

"Well then, I'm not going out. Not in THAT!!"

Meanwhile, apart from a blister on his ankle, all is right with Viola-Boy's world. Ocarina-Kid, on the other hand, wanted to be entertained. He came home from school the other day with instructions for how to make Katie Morag's Porridges. Katie Morag is a wee Scots lassie who lives on an island with her grannie. Porridges - yes, I know you've only ever seen the word in the singular, but this is Katie Morag's world - porridges are what you or I would call flapjacks. There was only one thing wrong with the recipe - NO QUANTITIES. No, I tell a lie, there was something else - NO COOKING TEMPERATURE or COOKING TIME. Hmmm ...

I searched the internet for Katie Morag and her porridges - they were nowhere to be found. (I suspect they're in Katie Morag's Rainy Day Book, which I shall try to obtain.) Meanwhile, I found a recipe for flapjacks - the self-same ingredients - and got the missing info. I'm happy to announce that after some Group Therapy (a family baking session), we now have some Porridges for our tea. Hallelujah!

I found the recipe at - you might find it a worthwhile resource to investigate! (I hadn't realised flapjacks were an "ethnic" Scottish delicacy, but you learn something new every day. They're made with oats, and oats are good for you ... )

Friday, March 03, 2006

Recommended for tired, jaded supermums anywhere - Two and a half men - it's a CBS comedy show, which we've recently started viewing over here in the UK. Okay, it's predictable and a bit corny, but it's still very, very funny. A relaxing giggle for half an hour after tea - can't be bad. Mind you, today we saw the one where our hero was lusting after his brother's attorney. I don't think our kids got one half of the humour! Recommended.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Okay, so maybe I should take this convalescence business a bit easier. Despite letting the tradesmen do all the work yesterday, I have still been shattered today. I slept until midday. What a slob!

Anyway, I have done Very Little Indeed today (apart from a supermarket order), so maybe I'll feel more rested tomorrow.

This cheery little picture is The Convalescence of St Teresa. And maybe she had the right idea - lots of bed-rest! (And by the look of it, three handmaidens to wait on her, hand and foot.)

I don't suppose St Teresa had to do her supermarket shopping online (though she could have sent a handmaiden out for it?). Those were the good old days, eh?.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Call it a Eureka! moment - Pseudo-Supermum has discovered how to multitask whilst convalescing.

  • Lift Yellow Pages (I don't think it weighs over 2 lb!)
  • Look up "gutter cleaning", find a local tradesman, arrange a call-out
  • Look up "carpet cleaning", find, arrange consultation (ChemDry also has franchises in the USA and in Australia.)
  • Get gutters cleaned one day
  • Get carpets cleaned the next

Apart from lifting Yellow Pages and dialling a couple of numbers, you haven't lifted a finger - no effort involved. Sit back and allow nice tradesmen to do the work for you. Oh yes, nearly forgot:-

  • Write cheques. (Sorry - you might have guessed there was a catch.)

I have to confess that the carpet cleaning, whilst more expensive, is more satisfying. You can sit indoors and enjoy the look of clean, fresh carpets. You can't sit and look at your gutters, unless you enjoy sitting outside your neighbour's gate at 0 degrees Celsius, looking across the road and up at the front of your own house ...

I thought I'd do ChemDry a favour and show UK Supermums how to find their own carpet-cleaner.....