The Teaching Mum

A light-hearted look at parenting through the eyes of a very busy English Teacher.


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A birthday, some booze and of course, a boob.

Good morning! It’s 11am on the 30th of May and today is my Mum’s (Grandma P’s) birthday. It’s not something I would usually write about, but it’s a special birthday. She has told me not to ‘write anything on Facebook about my age’ and I won’t. However, if you can guess my age then you can probably guess hers.  Please see my craftily added emoticon at the end of this post.

It all started so smoothly. I woke leisurely at 8am (after being up at 11, 2, 3.30 and 6 – when do they actually sleep through?), hung the washing out, put another load in, got a shower and actually washed my hair. I even dried it too. So it was all going to plan. The other half was happily playing with the children upstairs whilst I started ‘operation tidy up’ downstairs. ‘Operation tidy up’ usually involves me throwing things in the dining room and closing the door and then vowing to vacuum it and clean it properly in the morning. I’ll just add that I was (and still am) in my dressing gown at this point.  Suddenly, I saw something in my peripheral vision outside.  Was it a ladder? Window cleaners! Bugger.  All the curtains in the house were open, I wasn’t dressed, there was underwear drying upstairs, there was probably a disguarded breast pad in every room of the house.  Not wanting to be caught in my purple M&S fluffy dressing gown, I ran toward the stairs, did a combat roll down the landing (just to add to the drama) and dived into the girl’s room. She was playing at having Chicken Pox (as you do) and laying inside her make shift ‘hospital bed’ wardrobe. Daddy was taking her blood pressure and the boy was doing his usual ninja flipping and face planting the bed.
‘The window cleaners are here!’
‘Have we got a tenner?’
‘I have loads of jobs to do and I am trapped.  Help!’
He put down his stethoscope, (in my mind) did a hands on hips Superman style pose and dashed off downstairs.  
And that kind of brings us to now. I have been stuck in the girl’s room for the last hour feeding behind closed curtains. The girl, the Ninja Flippin’ Dude and I are all in a state of undress and Grandma P arrives in an hour. It was all going so smoothly too.  However, I can add that the other half has completed my jobs downstairs. Bless that man. Upstairs however, it looks like one of the window cleaners could have chucked a grenade in through an open pane because we didn’t have a tenner (we never do) and it would pass unnoticed.  Upstairs looks like hell on Earth.

It’s now 9pm and remember when I said that Grandma P was due to arrive in ‘an hour’?  She should have arrived at 12.30pm in order to have a drink and leisurely open her presents.  At 12.25pm I was still rocking the purple dressing gown and was downstairs ironing the clothes I was going to wear.  I had managed to straighten my hair and do my make up, but I was also sporting a Peppa Pig hair clip in my fringe as I am currently starting to resemble to Dulux Dog.  At 12.40, we were all ready.  At 12.50 we were still all ready, sitting together on the sofa just waiting.  At 12.55, we got a ‘just setting off’ text.  At 1pm, the boy started to kick off.  At 1.10, I cracked open the bottle of champagne and by 1.15 I was feeding again.  Finally, at 1.30 Grandma P decided to show up.  I greeted her with a pile of dried washing in my hands (I knew that my doing a job would inevitably summon her arrival), shoved a discoloured Kir Royale in her hand and led her to the living room where we ripped open her presents, got a tad emotional for about thirty seconds and inhaled our rust coloured Kir Royales.  The creme de cassis was definitely pink when I bought it pre pregnancy number two.  Who knew it ‘could go off’?  We drank it anyway though; we’re made of strong stuff…    

For personal reasons Mum didn’t want a party to celebrate her birthday (see my last post) so we decided to go to Wentbridge House near Pontefract for a late dinner.  It was all very lovely and we got to see a beautiful bride as we were entering.  The girl was being well behaved, the in laws arrived, we ordered drinks, sat down and the boy woke up.  Therefore, a delightful game of ‘pass the baby’ began.  I panicked and made some formula (no way was I feeding in a posh restaurant) but he didn’t want it.  I then got frustrated with myself for making the formula too early as I hate wasting it.  Have you seen how much it costs? Between us, we eventually got the boy to sleep and made a make shift bed with his legs resting on mine.  Ten minutes passed and it was calm.  I ordered the lamb.  The lamb arrived.  I moved my chair a millimetre closer to the table.  Rookie move right there.  I should know better by now.  Of course the boy woke and once again ‘pass the baby’commenced between mouthfuls of lamb, haddock, steak and burger.  Will I ever get to savour a meal ever again?

We ordered our desserts and I went to go and change the boy’s nappy in the toilets (poshly named the ‘powder room’.  Unsurprisingly, there was no changing station so I plonked him on a posh stool, thanked the Lord that there was indeed no stool in his nappy and did a lightning quick change.  He screamed the place down so I caved and went to feed him in a toilet cubicle.

After about fifteen minutes, I made it back to the dinner table only to find that everyone had eaten their dessert and mine had been returned to the kitchen to keep warm after the other half told the waitress that I had been on the toilet for the last twenty minutes.  Thanks love.

With our faced well and truely stuffed, we returned to our house for a bit of tea and cake.  The boy had mellowed so the girl decided that it was her turn to shine.  She was placed on the naughty step twice for stealing a ball from the boy because it was hers.  She hasn’t so much as looked at the ball once in two years, but now it was all she wanted in the world.  Finally, at 6pm we all decided to call it at day.  Grandma and Grandad said their goodbyes.  Within minutes, we noticed that Grandad had left his phone so we called Grandma to to let him know.  Then Grandma P said her goodbyes and once again, within minutes, we noticed that she too had left her phone but we were unable to contact her to let her know.  Ten minutes later, Grandad returned to pick up his phone and said his goodbyes again.  Ten minutes after that Grandma P returned to pick up her phone and said her goodbyes again (she had made it half way home before realising and turned back).  A rushed bathtime and bedtime hour passed smoothly and for once we successfully divided and conquered the kids and got them to sleep with no meltdowns.  That brings us nicely back to now. It’s 9.54pm. I have had my cuppa and another bit of Grandma P’s home made birthday cake and am pondering on what I can take away from today.  I have learnt then to: always expect a grandparent to leave something at your house, don’t move an inch with a sleeping baby on your lap as he will wake before the lamb touches your lips and don’t ever leave it to your other half to explain the (entirely fabricated) reason as to why your sticky toffee pudding needs to be returned to the kitchen to keep warm.

Good night!
Pictures:
An excited little dude snoozing over dinner (for at least ten minutes) and the girl with Grandma P and her emoticon covered cake. 
Oh, and one with me on it after ‘being on the toilet’ for twenty minutes. 

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An open letter to my Dad

Hi Dad,


You won’t read this as you no longer use your eyes to see.  You won’t hear me read it as you do not need your ears to listen and you won’t be able to tell me your thoughts (not that you would anyway) as you were taken away from us way too soon. But, you’re still with me, Dad.  You’re locked inside my head and that’s where I will keep you safe always.  You can’t get old there, you’re not ill there, you don’t feel pain and I hope, really hope, that through me you can see the little family we have created.
I became a mum.  Me? A mum!  I am responsible for two little humans and I think being a parent has really changed me.  It made me see the world a bit differently because I put a lot of others before myself in both my personal and professional life. (Although, the only child in me hates me for it.) Motherhood has taught me to be kind; I know you will say that I have always been kind but now when a group of girls bicker at school, I encourage them to make friends and support one another because I dread the day that my daughter comes home broken-hearted after a fall out with friends.  I encourage boys to be respectful of those around them because I want my son to respect his peers whether they be male or female, old or young.  Losing you taught me that life is too short to hold a grudge and to refuse to say sorry and I encourage others to allow their grudges to subside also.  I can even admit when I am wrong now (even though it pains me a little)!
So, you have a granddaughter and most recently, a grandson. Your name is his middle name and it fits him perfectly – I have to admit that I was afraid that it wouldn’t. Also, I can see you in him, I really can. It’s when he scowls! Now, please don’t take that the wrong way – you didn’t scowl that often.  I think of you everyday, Dad and it doesn’t hurt me to speak of you.  In fact, I like speaking about you as it brings you back to me a little bit.  Cancer somehow finds a way to bite its way into a lot of people’s lives and it hurts the most when I learn that sometimes my young students have such a heavy burden to bare.  Your illness taught me how to empathise with others – particularly my students; it also allowed them to see me as another human and not just that teacher who ‘Googles’ the spellings of really difficult words!  I am not a trained therapist and don’t pretend to be, but I am a pair of ears if they just want a sounding board.  I remind myself often that I was lucky to have you for twenty eight years, but still cry behind closed doors on those days where I need you the most.
I hope you’re proud that I stuck to this teaching malarky. I recall my mum telling me that you were pleased that I had finally found myself a career.  Of course, you would never tell me that.  You and I were the quiet ones in the family.
I often speak to my daughter about you and constantly worry that one day she will notice that she only has one granddad. The Granddad she does have does a mighty fine job of loving his grandchildren enough for the both of you.  He does so much for us as a family and both he and Grandma are there for us at a drop of a hat when we need them.  I tell them both frequently that we would be lost without them.
And that brings us round to the other Grandma.  Your wife and my mum – my lovely mum.  We bicker often, but she says it’s because she worries about me.  Does that worry ever come to an end?  I know one thing’s for sure – I don’t think I could breathe without her.  Losing you made our mother daughter bond unbreakable and she is the cement that holds us together on the days when I feel weak. To this day, I don’t know how she stayed so strong when you were ill and I still feel like even though I was around, I was somehow absent, lost in a busy NQT year and embarking upon a new relationship with the now father of my children.  I realise though that those final months and days were yours and Mum’s and not about me at all.  Sometimes I forget that before you were mine, you both were and are people.  Being a parent doesn’t define you; it’s just another string to your bow.
As you can imagine, Grandma dotes on her grandchildren and I adore the happiness they bring her. Pictures of them are scattered around your home and she kisses the one on her phone every night before bed.  I know that she speaks of you to my daughter and sometimes when I hear my girl say the words ‘Grandad Paul’ it tears me up inside because I wonder what kind of grandad you would have been.  I imagine that you would be more involved as a grandfather, I don’t know why I think that – I just do.  I try to explain where you are, but I am also aware that I am not ready for her to learn about some of the sadness and horrors we may face in this life. I do want her to know that I too, like her, once had a Dad who loved me the depth of his soul.
You were a quiet person who would observe a conversation. Until, that is, you had a couple of beers inside you and then we could never shut you up!  I recall begrudgingly having to pick you up from various pubs on Sunday afternoons and then bringing you home to sit at the dinner table by yourself and eat because Mum and I had already eaten. I wonder now, if you had your time again, would you do a few things differently?  All I know is that I would give my right arm to be able to pick you up from the local pub now, even if I could smell Mum’s Yorkshire Puddings cooking in the oven.
I hope we’ve done you proud Dad – Mum and I. And I hope that somewhere, wherever you may be, you can see your Grandchildren because they are well behaved (most of the time), polite and pretty flippin’ gorgeous. The girl can throw an awesome tantrum every now and again; she is still learning that, unlike us, she isn’t an only child. Lucky her though, because, unlike us, she will hopefully never have to bare the burden of going through the pain of losing a loved one alone.
Pictures: Me, Dad and Ben the Dog. Me and the Munchkins.
Baby Brain Memoirs
Modern Dad Pages


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Moderation Sickness and Multibuys

Saturday 16th May and it’s the bedtime hour (two hours).

I have been trying to blog all week about my first week of moderation and to think of a way to make it interesting.  Truth is: I can’t. At the back of my mind though, I have it in my head that this is a teacher blog so I have to get some teachery (totally a word) stuff on here too. What you have then is an amalgamation of the week’s events where I try and fail at my first attempt at moderation, survive a vomit filled night and attend a birthday party where three of the girls all wore the same dress.

Tuesday morning arrived and I know you have missed them so the first thing I will tell you is that my trusty jogging bottoms made an appearance. As did my make up free face, a t-shirt that was ‘won’ in a 10k race from years gone by and the (everyone has to have one) mum bun. In fact, I even planned ahead as I knew that I was going to wear the exact same outfit on Wednesday too. And I did. 
However, as with every morning comes the dreaded night before and on both Monday night and Tuesday night when I really needed to be ‘on it’ the following day, I was doing the old tried and tested lay down feed every two hours. 

Both nights played out a little like this: 2am – awake again for the third time. I can’t do a sitting up feed again in fear of falling asleep, slumping over the boy and giving him a deathly bosom for a pillow. Sideways on. Boob out. Boob in. Doze. Wince as boob is shaken all about. Doze. Have a weird lucid. Doze. Become aware that the boy is waking again. Oh, he can’t be, it’s only been ten minutes. It’s 4.30am. Repeat the pattern. It’s 6.15am and he is still asleep when suddenly the bedroom door is pushed open by the other half, who is currently getting uninterrupted sleep by bunking up with his favourite girl (which, by the way, certainly isn’t me). The carpet to our room is really thick so when he opens it, it’s like he is opening a World War Two bunker that’s been locked for seventy years. He isn’t even opening it to say good morning; he does it to make sure I am awake for when the girl wakes, realises Daddy isn’t there and wants a *shakes head in shame* morning Fruitshoot. The opening of the bunker this morning did wake both me and the boy or maybe is was my ‘SHUUUUSH’ before slamming my head back into my pillow and silently screaming.

With the girl dropped off at nursery, it was time to begin my work. I took out my first batch of coursework and began. Within minutes, the boy decided to reach a milestone in his little life and he rolled over. He was very pleased with himself; so was I. Pen down. Phone out. Video on.
‘Roll for Daddy,’
No movement.
‘Come on, roll so I can show Daddy.’
A blank stare. 
This continued for a while until I returned to my work and then he ninja flipped onto the carpet. Perhaps I was looking for a reason not to start my work as I tried to film it again and again. Poor Daddy had to wait four days to finally see a roll.  We learnt that he does not roll on demand as he isn’t a performing monkey. How were we supposed to know that? 

A knock at the door came just as I was about to tear my hair out. It was my mum; she had come to look after the boy whilst I ‘got my head around’ the first batch.  It wasn’t so much the moderation I was struggling with; it was (and still is) all the paperwork that I have to fill out and return alongside it.  My mum came and helped out on Wednesday also and I finally finished and posted my first batch that afternoon after starting it on Tuesday morning. I have to do this for twenty two other schools – it’s going to be a long old slog. Oh well, only twenty one to go.

Thursday morning arrived and it was the same pattern Tuesday and Wednesday.  The guilt hit on Thursday.  Was it unfair and selfish of me to stay at home all day with the boy just to try to earn a bit of extra cash?  I felt like he was missing out on baby classes similar to the ones I did with my daughter when she was a baby.  Although, I have to admit that Baby Yoga and Baby Massage were pretty bloody horrendous when I took the girl.  She used to get ‘olive oiled up’ and then scream the place down and I would leave the place dishevelled and smelling like a chip pan.  By Thursday afternoon I had almost finished my second batch of moderating and was starting to feel a bit more confident about it.  Then the girl returned home from Grandma and Granddad’s and for the next twelve hours a sea of vomit descended upon us all.  We were doomed.

She came through the door.
‘Mummy, can I have some big girl crispies?’
Granddad informed me that she had already eaten a lot today.  However, I had two more scripts to moderate and if I did that then that would be another complete batch.  I gave her the crisps and the next hour passed without drama.  I am not the cook in the house and Daddy was at Parent’s Evening so as a treat I suggested that we go to the local garden centre for tea. (How lucky are my children?) We were putting on our shoes when the girl put her hand to her mouth.
‘Do you want to be sick?’ I asked.
She shook her head.
‘Shall we go to the toilet?’
She shook her head.
‘Let’s just go for a wee before we leave anyway,’
‘Noooooo, I don’t neeeeed a wee.’ She said.  She raised her hand to her mouth again.
‘Do you need a poo then?’
She shook her head.
‘Are you going to be sick?’
She nodded her head.
I grabbed her to rush to the toilet, but the pointless conversation you have just read above meant that we were too late and BLEUGH.  All over the living room floor.  Twice.  I didn’t panic.  We jumped over it and made it to the toilet just in time for her to stand over it and just spit.

After wiping everything up and making sure that the girl got fluids, I went to check on the boy.  I had left him on his play mat.  The ninja flipping Little Dude had somehow made it over to the TV and was currently face planting the laminate floor.  Oh.

I decided on an early bath for all.  I simultaneously bathed boy the girl in the big bath and the boy in the baby bath all while silently cheering myself on for being so calm and completely handling the situation.  Suddenly, the girl retched again and her hand came to her mouth.  I lifted the boy from his bath, wrapped him in a towel, emptied his bath in the shower, brought the bath to the girl’s mouth and BLEUGH!  I caught it.  Could not have timed it any better if I had tried.  Amazed at my quick thinking, the girl could remain in untainted waters until the boy’s PJs were put on.  It wasn’t until I emptied her bath that I noticed three pieces of sweetcorn and a stick of carrot going down the plug hole.  There is always a bit of carrot isn’t there?

The night was pretty awful with the girl waking and retching every hour.  For Friday then, I envisaged a trip to the doctors followed by another day of being trapped in the house with a poorly princess, Peppa Pig and unmoderated coursework staring at me.  However, she woke, smiled and asked for a Fruitshoot so off to soft play we went.  Hurrah!

That kind of brings us back around to today.  We have been to a joint third birthday party and I have two very tired but content children on my hands.  Now, I assume that three years ago there was nothing much on television one night as most of my friends all had babies within days of each other. This means lots of birthday presents and parties – which is lovely for the children as they are now growing up and playing together.  However, with me being the most unimaginative birthday present buyer ever, I think my friends have come to expect a present from Next.  I am worried that the kids have too.  ‘Oh look the boring lady who brings us shirts every year is here, yey’.  But hey, at least clothes don’t take up a load of room in your dining room or living room, right guys?  Needless to say, three children at the party (including my girl) were all wearing the same dress that yours truly bought them for their birthdays.  You’re welcome!  They looked cute though and I promise that they weren’t purchased on a ‘buy one get two free’ offer!  Fortunately, today’s parties were boys’ but it’s safe to say that had they been born girls, then they too would have received a grey spotty dress for their third birthday.

Just before I sign off.  After returning home from the parties, I noticed that my first batch of marked moderation had been returned back to me with a request to do it all again.  I had filled out the paperwork incorrectly but on a Postit note have been reassured not to feel ‘downhearted’ as I started with a ‘problematic centre’.  So that’s twenty two to go then…

Oh and just before going to bed last night, the other half was sick. BLEUGH indeed.

Pictures: That Dress! and The Little Dude rolling amongst my work.



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Tube Tackling and Boob Handling

took a couple of days off from writing as I had an up and down day on Friday and felt very blue without my not being able to put my finger on why.  Anyhow, Saturday saw me go to London to attend a Moderater Training Meeting as I am going to be moderating coursework from Tuesday in order to earn a few extra pennies while off on maternity leave. I wrote this on the way back up on the train. I hope you enjoy. As always, any feedback is much appreciated.

Currently sitting on the train home from London, it is 7.20pm on the 9th May and the lady sitting next to me has no idea of the agony I am in. I am not talking emotional turmoil here with me agonising over the guilt of leaving my two precious beings at home.  No.  Pure, physical agony.  I have lost count of the amount of times my boobs have filled up today and each tingling sensation has served as a reminder that my son might be at home starving as he hasn’t been taking a bottle very well. Okay, okay that is over dramatic as I have this little thing called a mobile phone which I used to call the other half.  He has assured me that both children have been angels. The girl went to ballet, a party and then saw her cousins at Grandma and Grandad’s (which, for her, is the greatest day ever) and the boy hasn’t cried once.  This is lovely and reassuring news but, for an instant I feel very unneeded. Then I brush my arm up against a boob and wince; the pain reminds me that I am very much needed.  By this time, my shirt is sodden. It’s a good job that I planned ahead this morning and ‘layered up’. Thank God for my body warmer. I doubt when Jack Wills designed them, he (is he a person?) thought his body warmers would also be excellent hiders of leaking boobs as I suspect right now that I smell like a week old carton of Cravendale. 
Upon reflection, my day has gone well.  In the lead up to it, I had been getting myself into a tizz as I felt that it signified the end of my maternity leave. I also have an irrational fear of the tube. But, I made it. 
I arrived at King’s Cross at 9.30 and had half an hour to get to Kensington High Street.  I had Goggled and Googled (I love that this an acceptable verb these days) the hell out of the tube maps and had my route embedded into my brain and a screen print saved on my phone. I haven’t been to King’s Cross since the refurd; it’s rather nice isn’t it?  Last time I was there I was sitting on a little travel case next to Upper Crust, hung over, with a copy of Heat magazine and was staring at the display boards begging for my train to Leeds to arrive so that I could go and quietly die on it. I don’t have weekends like that anymore.
I jumped off the train and saw platform 9 3/4 and fondly thought of one of my Potter mad friends at home.  I noticed that Uppercrust had disappeared and that suddenly I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  I didn’t panic. I found the entrance to the tube and marched towards the Circle Line. I figured out my platform and waited. A train arrived and I let it leave as I noticed it said ‘Piccadilly’ on it. Then, as it left I saw it flash the word ‘Circle’ too. Damn it! Another came. Not kidding. I did the same thing! My meeting started in fifteen minutes. A third train stopped and I stepped on. Gluing my eyes into the line map, I counted down my stops. I made it to Edgeware Road and jumped off. Another train arrived at Edgeware Road and I boarded it; I panicked as the little tube map didn’t match the one screen printed onto my phone so I jumped back off before the doors closed and took me to God knows where. I crossed platforms where another train was sitting patiently for me. I couldn’t see where it was going so I shouted to a seated woman in my broad Yorkshire accent.
‘Does this train go to Kensington High Street?’
She was French and asked me to repeat myself.  Great.  A chance to practise my multilingual skills. I spoke louder and slower.
‘Does. This. Train. Go. To. Kensington. High. Street?’
She nodded. I jumped!
After counting down my stops again, I arrived. By this time the meeting had been going for ten minutes. Swiping my Oyster Card (given to me by the World’s Greatest Father in Law) I almost did a little jump and heel click as I passed through the gate onto the high street. 
I eventually found the hotel after a ten minute walk making me half an hour late for the meeting. I wrongly assumed that loads of delegates would be late. I arrived at 10.30 and another lady took the utter pi@s by arriving at 11am…! I was directed to my table (13!) which was right at the opposite end of the room.
‘It would be wouldn’t it?’ came my response to the man at the delegates table.  He smiled.
‘Yes, and the easiest way to get to it is to walk in front of the speaker.’
Bugger. 
I met the rest of my marking team and my team leader, who every time I asked a question reasurred me that she would eventually answer it.  She’ll hate me onTuesday when I start marking and ring her to remind her that I am still waiting for her answers.  However, despite this, she was very lovely and I was just happy to be at the right venue.
At lunch time I sat with two English Teachers who were also new to moderation. Both were living in London and one of them brought up the election. The two teachers were very much against Gove and the Tories and a politically charged conversation ensued. I nodded along humming and pretending to understand the political jargon and realised that I needed to contribute somehow.
‘It was a shame about Ed Balls losing his seat,’ I began. ‘Did you know he had a stutter?’
It was safe to say that the politics conversation was over and I went to get some profiteroles.
It was after lunch that I first accidentally brushed a boob and felt pain. I went to the loos in order to ease it. Now, I was in the cubicle a while trying to rid myself of milk (I am trying so hard to not keep typing ‘boobs’) and I was well aware that there were other women waiting outside. Admit it. If someone is in the loo a while then you think they are having a number two don’t you? I didn’t want the women to think this, so upon my exit I considered saying:
‘I was just emptying my boobs, as I am still breastfeeding. You know how it is.’ 
I didn’t do this, of course, as it would have been more moronic than what I had actually just done so I left with a sheepish look on my face knowing that each woman in there thought I had had the audacity to have a public number two in a London Hilton.
The meeting drew to a close an hour earlier than scheduled. This gave me a whopping two hours to get back to King’s Cross, which meant that I miraculously mastered the tube and made it back to King’s Cross within half an hour without even needing to switch tubes albeit my screen print on my phone insisting it. 

A phone call from my partner and a call to my mum, a Starbucks and some boob squeezing into a toilet at King’s Cross (which I paid 30p for the pleasure) and I was boarding my train back up North to my little family. 

And here we are now. As I am just passing Doncaster, I reflect briefly that my last trip left me exhausted and in desperate need for my bed.  The feelings are the same now apart from knowing that before I can sleep, I will need to feed my boy before I literally explode and my bedtime probably won’t be for another few hours.

As it turned out, both children were still awake and I got a lovely cuddle from my girl who asked me to put her to bed. My boy maintained his ‘Little Dude’ persona and just fed and fed himself to sleep, thus taking away the agony of having boobs the size of a late nineties Victoria Beckham and the guilt I felt at perhaps leaving him when he was still very much in need of me. 
So, the moderation will begin on Tuesday with a five month old probably clamped to me and a three year old whizzing round me.  Should be fun.  I take my hat off to those of you who moderate/mark while working full time too. 

Pictures: The tube journey I didn’t dare veer from and my boy after drinking himself into a milk filled oblivion. (He then woke less than an hour later..!)





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The secret calcium stealers and other injection related stories.

After every lesson observation you have as a teacher, the observer asks you: ‘So what do you think went well?’ I find this the most difficult question in the world as I just want to put my head on the desk and say ‘nothing.’  My Head of Department even brought me to tears once (not intentionally) when he asked me how I was liking my new role and what I thought I brought to the department.  I didn’t think I brought anything to the department; I just wanted to do a good job and not have to sell myself and share with anyone about how well I thought I was doing.  Give me a compliment and I tend to throw it back in your face. ‘Ooh I like your bag.’ ‘This? It’s about five years old and it was my mum’s first.’ I appreciate your compliment, I really do, I am just not very good at accepting them. So if asked what I like about myself (can I just add that I don’t dislike myself – there is no underlying psychotherapy needed here) my go to answer is: ‘My teeth. I like my teeth.’

Lo and behold though, my loveable little munchkins have unknowingly destroyed my teeth by needing my calcium to grow.  How very dare they! Today was Dentist and Doctor Day (I’ll just add though that it was nice to be able to go to an appointment during actual day time hours and not in a school holiday) and I was having my second ever filling. The first came a few months after my girl was born and the second, five months after the boy.  But, hey it was free; everyone’s a winner. Except the dentist that is and I think he took it out on my teeth.  Ten rounds with Mike Tyson anyone?
‘I’ll just take an X-Ray. Any chance you’re pregnant?’
I vigorously shook my head.
‘Do you want to be numbed?’
I vigorously nodded my head.. 
He began before it was properly numb.  Drilling away and humming, he stopped.
‘Hmmm, it’s bigger than I thought’
Hand still rammed in my mouth, he sent his nurse away to get something.
‘I wish I had some kind of mouth vice,’ he said. ‘That’s the dream.’
What?
‘The nurse returned with something that, thank God, was not a vice.  
He scraped out the decay (nice) which I think, but can only think, he showed me as I thought I heard the word ‘look’ but my eyes remained closed and he eventually finished.  It was only then that I realised how weird and yet strangely cool it felt to to have a numb mouth (it definitely wasn’t numb when he started.) One side of my tongue felt massive!
During the journey home, I kept looking at my tongue in the mirror just to make sure that it wasn’t huge and I had the over whelming desire to bite it. Is that normal?  Obviously, I didn’t; I’m not a moron.  
I am just going to break there for a while as it’s 8.15pm and the boy is asleep. I want to try and watch an episode of Game of Thrones before my own early bedtime of 9pm. If this isn’t living then I don’t know what is. The other half can fast forward through the ads (he is Master of Controls) and I will be in bed dreaming of teaching something to Jon Snow (probably how not to lose the warmth from your head by wearing a hat and how it’s probably wise to stay away from silk pyjamas if you stay at Castle Black – see earlier ‘Primmy V’ post…) by ten past nine.
2.10am
We had made it through the opening credits before hearing a yelp from upstairs.  My little dude had awoken from his slumber after at least fifteen minutes. I reluctantly went to retrieve him from his cot as I was determined to finish the cuppa I had just made. However as it turned out, he just needed to see a bit of boob before going to sleep – thankfully not mine.  He was mesmerised by the weird, but beautiful, red haired witchy fire lady’s boobies, the one who currently resides in Castle Black with Stannis. (Five series in and I know about six of the characters’ names) After her failed attempt to tempt Jon Snow, my boy, in my arms, turned away from the TV and dozed and here we are at night feed number one.
Right then, I was able to resist biting my own tongue but kept using it to feel my teeth that felt like they weren’t there anymore; that was a bit bizarre. I often have anxiety dreams where my teeth fall out so I had to keep checking the rear view mirror to make sure the dentist hadn’t removed all of them in the frustration at my receiving free treatment and him not having access to a vice. I eventually made it back to Grandma and Grandad’s house where the boy was happily spending sometime with two people who love him more than anything in the world. I took him home, fed him and left the house again.  This time the destination was the doctors’ surgery
Today (technically yesterday now) was my boy’s third and final injection day.  After sitting down with the nurse, she explained the procedure with me and told me that she recognised me.  I confirmed that she did indeed recognise me from a couple of weeks back when she had syringed my ears and could she excuse the fact that I was slurring my words as I had a numb mouth due to an excessively large filling. (Storm Models – if you’re reading this then I am waiting for your call…) She told me how to position my son and reached for the first needle.  This is why I often call my son a little dude; the needle went in, I looked away and he let out a cry, gave the death stare to the very lovely nurse and then stopped.  I turned him over for his final jab and as the needle went in, I swear he just made a ‘meh’ sound as if to say ‘is that all you’ve got love?’ and with that we left to meet a fellow mummy teacher friend whose son happened to be getting his third injections too. 
After the doctors and to celebrate the fact that both of our favourite boys had been little troopers, we treated them (us) to coffee, hot chocolate and cake at the local garden centre. However, just to remind us who the bosses were, we both ended up standing up in the cafe jiggling and rocking the boys to stop them crying; perhaps the trauma of the needles had set in.  We swiftly drunk up and left and if I wasn’t mistaken, I thought I heard a little cheer of rejoice from the dining OAPs who just wanted some peace and quiet amongst the garden hoes and wheelbarrows.
Outside, my friend and I exchanged our goodbyes and seeing as I was near my daughter’s nursery I went to collect her a bit earlier than normal.  Clambering through the nursery door with the car seat, I noticed that my girl was wearing a donkey costume (she had also worn it the day previous too) . .  No questions asked, she climbed out of it, retrieved her bag, shoes and coat; we said our goodbyes and left.  Awesome.   Back in the car.
‘I like the donkey outfit.  What have you done today?  Have you done anymore letters and sounds?’ I asked.
‘Yes, we’ve done letters today,’ came her sweet reply.
‘Please tell me that you did them in the donkey outfit.’ I said.
‘Yes.’ It was all I needed to hear to put a smile on my face.
The girl is ace!
We returned home and while we waited for Daddy to return, we played ‘monsters’, which was me chasing her on her very slow pink mini quad bike (a Daddy purchase) and had a sword fight with a foam sword from B&M Bargains fighting against a plastic Jake and the Neverland Pirates one. It was safe to say that I took a bit of a beating all while listening to Jake intermittently saying ‘Yo, ho ho.’
3.22am. Breaking off here as the night feed has come to an end.
Tea time ensued playtime with the other half virtually inhaling his food so he could take an irritated and tired baby from me.  He went off into the living room to walk around with the boy in a bid to fend off the crying before bath time. Then suddenly for only ten minutes, the metaphorical sh*t hit the fan. Happily, or so I thought, watching Ninjago on the iPad, the girl was chomping on salad and chicken nuggets. 
‘I want Fanta,’ she moaned.
‘Well, you have a lemonade,’ I replied.
‘Fanta!’
‘When Daddy asked you what you wanted to drink, you ignored him. You will have to make do with lemonade.’
She then pushed the lemonade viciously towards me therefore spilling it onto the table and the half eaten cod on my plate.
I grabbed the iPad and switched it off. I know that she shouldn’t be watching it during dinner and family time but, without it she sometimes won’t eat and I want my daughter alive, healthy and well fed.
She screamed. She possesses a scream that cuts right through you. I imagine it’s what a dog whistle sounds like to our canine chums. Then she hit me.
‘iPad!’ She screamed through tears that had miraculously appeared in a millisecond.
I stood my ground. My partner stormed in with the baby and asked who had spilt the drink and the little madam had the audacity to say it was me. Where did she learn that skill? The ability to ‘grass’ and convincingly so. He made her sit on our naughty step (the bottom of the stairs) until she screamed sorry at me through floods of tears. I wanted to cuddle her and I wished that I had just given her the bloody Fanta but eventually she calmed and apologised in a voice that wasn’t exhausted by tears. We returned to the dinner table and she quietly asked for Fanta.  I grabbed her cup, went over to the kitchen cupboard, grabbed some orange cordial and poured it in with the lemonade. She never knew the difference. Yay. Small victory to me.
Bath time followed and all was forgiven and forgotten. I put my boy in his PJs and Grobag and started ‘operation feed to sleep’. In the other room, I could hear my daughter and Daddy happily chatting over a story and all was well with the world. I noticed then that I could finally feel my tongue and teeth again and a dull ache started in the side of my mouth. Also, at this point I didn’t realise that within the hour, the boy would be up watching Game of Thrones with Mummy and Daddy.  Cuppa, biscuit, Game of Thrones, a dull ache in my mouth and cuddles with the little dude – I have had worse Wednesday nights.
Finally finished at 8.19am the following morning!
Happy Thursday everyone and don’t forget to go out and vote!!

Picture:
I need to get my priorities in order!


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May Day May Day, we have a problem. I have been found out!

11.07am 5th May

Yesterday was the 4th May and it was Bank Holiday Monday.  Without my intending it to, the day became quite eventful and by the end of the evening, I had to finally admit to my other half that I had been blogging on the side. (That’s BLogging, if any of you get your Bs and Ds mixed up.)  It played out like this:

I came into the living room after putting the boy to bed; I was smirking.“What’s up with you?  Why are you smiling?” He asked.
“Erm, you’re going to think I’m an idiot,” I replied.

What?”
“I have started to write a blog…” I said.
Eyebrows were raised but, there was still a smile.“…I don’t know if I am going to carry it on.  No one has seen it yet but I told JC about it today.  It’s meant to be funny but, it’s probably a bit rubbish.  I haven’t mentioned the kids’ names or your name in it.  I haven’t been awful about you.”

He looked bemused, picked up the TV remote and asked me if I wanted to watch Modern Family.  For those of you who do know him, I can’t ask for much more than that.

So let’s back up a little.  I need to explain how and why I suddenly got catapulted into the limelight.  And by limelight I mean 70 follows on Twitter, 15 likes on Facebook and 17 followers on Instagram (as 3.09pm 5th May.)

It is tradition to venture into Rothwell, which is the town I grew up in, on May Bank Holidays.  Over the years, my motivation for going, who I went with and what I got up to has changed. As a teenager it was to go down there and ‘hang’.  In fact, I can remember being thirteen years old and trying my first ever puff of a cigarette on May Day.  Thankfully, I hated it and have never smoked but, for a millisecond I was a rebel.  I can remember returning home and talking to my mum and I was backed against the wall in case, heaven forbid, she smelt smoke on me.  The fact that it was only one puff and it was outside probably meant that I was pretty safe from being caught but, I was terrified.  That’s good though isn’t it?  Being terrified of being caught.  It means that my mum had this parenting thing down.  My one puff was probably one of the most rebellious things I have done and every May Day I remember it and cringe. Rebel? Laughable.  

Over the years then, May Day has meant ‘hanging out’ by the May Pole as a teenager (but away from the cool kids who could actually handle a cigarette), going to the pub with my friends as a young adult, (I had a few years out when I was trying to get educated at university), going to the pub with my boyfriend, going to the pub with my mum and dad (after breaking up with the said boyfriend) and finally, actually going down to see the May Day celebrations with my own children.


I need to just break it off there as the boy has just made an epic noise which can only be a poo and I have to pick the girl up from nursery.  I’ll just add that it’s 3.30pm now so that’s how long it has taken me to write three paragraphs.  Hope I am not going to have to meet deadlines anytime soon.

5.21pm

Right – I am back as is the whirl wind that is my three year old.  We have had a wee, salt and vinegar crispies, a small strop, more salt and vinegar crispies, a wee and a poo and that brings us to now.  She is watching Topsy and Tim on the iPad in front of the TV which has (you guessed it) Topsy and Tim on pause.

Yesterday’s May Day celebrations saw my best friend (JC), my Mum and I venture, with our children, into Rothwell.  We were one ride down (£2 a kid) and all was going well.  Then Mum threw a curve ball. “Is that a snake in the grass?” She observed.
WTF?  No, of course it wasn’t, we weren’t in the prairies, marshes, deserts or forests of North America (thank you Wikipedia).  However, she was indeed correct. There was a snake in the grass.  A huge, chunky yellow one with a bulge the size of a can of baked beans or a small child’s hand protruding from what I assumed was its stomach.  Then she walked over to it with the pram and the girl in hand.  I am not afraid of snakes (well, I wouldn’t want to confront one) so I walked over to it too.  I actually thought my girl would go into melt down but, much to my complete surprise, she stroked it.  I did too!  Mum then did a swift turn and pointed at something else lying in the grass.  Upon first glance, it looked like road kill.  It was, in fact a fat red lizard laying down and soaking up the fine Yorksire air. Barely being given the time to look, she was off again with my daughter eyeing up a big black centipede thing, a skunk, a meerkat and a little monkey.
“It’s educational…and free,” she shouted as I was getting more and more flustered. 
My friend, I noticed, was getting a bit agitated too and I knew why.  We were getting closer to the tent and in the tent lurked the tarantulas.  I had this dreaded feeling that I was going to turn around and there would be someone right behind me holding one and it would make me jump, which would then make the tarantula jump and of course it would jump onto me. Despite not being a fan of arachnids herself, Grandma waded in once again with her beloved Granddaughter. I hesitatingly followed.  Then I saw one being lifted from its glass imprisonment.  I yelped and I was gone. If the girl suddenly needed rescuing, it wouldn’t be by me.  I could see my friend already guiding her children towards the big bouncy slide. Even though it was £2 a head, it was better than a tarantula jumping onto your face.


Two more rides later and it was lunch time.  There were two pubs nearby.  One was packed and the other expensive.  My mum then had a genius idea and she was forgiven for the creepy crawlies.  We headed to another pub that was opposite the fish shop.  The clouds parted and the sun began to shine; it was almost as if God wanted us to sit in a beer garden, drink lager and eat fish and chips.  And so it was done.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes, my daughter had a melt down as her two friends were leaving, my son, who had snoozed his way through reptiles, rides and lager, woke up and made his presence heard so we headed home.  Before leaving though, I reluctantly told my friend that I had dabbled with a blog; I sent her the link for her to read later.

Bedtime was once again upon us.  My partner and I take the ‘divide and conquer route’ whereby he puts the girl to bed and I, the boy.  I usually use this time to catch up on texts and social media as I can’t do much else whilst I am using the magical milk to get him to sleep. I sent a text to JC to wish her son a happy birthday for the next day and she replied to say she had read a post.  It was all good.  Suddenly another text came through.  It was from a friend I work with.  I love this girl because she says and sees things as they are.  Now, I am not much of a swearer but, I took her ‘effin hell, I’ve just read your blog’ as the highest of compliments.  This was after, of course, me having my own ‘effin hell’ moment of how did she see it?  In my sheer numtiness, did I publish it to the whole of Facebook when I sent the link to my friend earlier?  No.  It was Instagram. I checked my new Teaching Mum Instagram page (that I didn’t think was connected to my personal one) and suddenly I had 17 followers, all of whom I knew.  Damn it.  I was out there and open to criticism and pisstakes.  However, what followed was quite lovely.  My work friend said she liked it.  JC text again and said it made her laugh, I got a few likes on my Instagram page, I got a nice message from another acquaintance (who is also trying her hand at blogging) so I plucked up the courage to ask a few of my close friends on Facebook to ‘like’ my page.  And that kind of brings me back around to now.  Therefore, thank you KW for your expletive text last night; it made me step out of the metaphorical blogging closet.  Thank you to JC for telling me that I made you laugh and thank you to my other half who, rather than look for the blog and make fun of me, allowed me to watch Modern Family, have a cuppa, sit back and enjoy knowing the fact that a few people whose opinions I really care about had read something that I had written.



Pictures:
One huge snake, a lounging lizard, a centipedy thing (that’s definitely its scientific name) and three children who didn’t appreciate being told off for running around a beer garden.

11 hours later…10.04pm and I am finished!



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We all went (and returned intact) to Primmy V.

Girls weekend! Girls weekend! Girls weekend (with seven kids under five…). Yes, it happened. Yes, we all had fun but, I have never wanted my own bed more.

Last weekend me, my friends and our children ventured over to the East Coast to reside for two nights at Primrose Valley. Despite having quite a pretty name, there is nothing Primmy or rosey about this place.  Plus, it is definitely not in a valley.  We knew what we were buying into though so it was all good.  Primmy V (our affectionate name for it) is, in fact, a caravan site.  Without sounding like a complete and utter prude, caravans just aren’t my thing and a few people warned me that it could get cold in the night and that is fundamentally what this blog is going to be about: warmth. Or the lack of it.  More on that later though.  
I was very much looking forward to a weekend with the besties as I don’t go out much anymore and I certainly don’t holiday as much as I would like.  Plus, I had a new car that I had picked up the day before so the drive there would be pretty sweet. And it was. The boy slept throughout the whole drive and the girl was very well behaved and was so excited to be spending the weekend in a ‘camper van’ with her little buddies. Like every young child, she asked the age old question: ‘are we there yet?’ approximately every three minutes but, I didn’t snap or become agitated. In fact, I did quite the opposite. As a child, my mum, dad and I used to go to Cornwall every year to visit friends and I had a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Dogtanian and the Muskehounds (you’re totally singing the theme tune). So when I used to ask ‘Are we there yet?’ My mum would reply with something along the lines of ‘six Dogtanians’.  Leeds to Cornwall is a long ass drive; therefore much kudos to my mum for never getting frustrated and for mentally working out how many Dogtanians I would have to watch before arriving in Cornwall.  This was of course the eighties and unless we had a Hitachi TV and a Betamax in the Ford Capri then no way was the squeaky dog and his trusty steed, Sandy, getting watched.  She could have just told me to shut up and read a book and she didn’t.  My mum is the greatest woman I know for many many reasons.
The sun was still shining as we pulled into Primmy V. The Raybans were on as were the tunes (turned way down though due to the explicit lyrics on some of my songs.  Disney does not reside in my car.)  I was directed to the caravan, I emptied the car, bagsied myself a room, realised the travel cot wouldn’t fit in it, bagsied another room, realised the travel cot wouldn’t fit in it.  You see where I am going with this?  It didn’t matter, I would sort out the cot later. We made our way to the other caravan to say hi to my friends and their kids and the sun disappeared. The law of Sod right there.  The night passed with no real events. The kids had a little pizza party while my friends and I kicked back with a bit of booze. I am still boobing the boy so before judgement is passed, it was just a light beer for me.  Yes, that is a halo you see on top of my head.  We headed out, saw the children’s ‘turn’ (a tiger and elephant singing Uptown Trunk, if I remember rightly). The boy was epic and slept in his pram and the girl danced with her buds and her newly acquired flashing wand (thank you CG.)  We were back in the caravans before half 9 with a cuppa and a toffee apple Sourz shot. Not kidding. (Thanks again CG.)
I was sharing a caravan with my oldest and most dearest friend in the world. She has a five year old boy and a three year old girl. We tried and failed to figure out a way we could use the travel cot.  By this time, our girls were groggy and despite my daughter saying she would share a room with my friend’s daughter, she wouldn’t and didn’t and how dare I ever suggest such a thing.  
There were three in the bed and I most certainly didn’t roll over roll over. I didn’t move barely an inch all night. With my girl snoozing beside me, it was time to get the boy to sleep.  Earlier in the evening I had tried to give him some formula as I didn’t really want the happy campers of Primmy V being subjected to my boobs.  I was just giving him a bit of mama’s milk to put him to sleep when…bleugh. Up the formula came all over my pjs, maternity bra, his pjs and his little Grobag.  By this point the cold had set in. An artic breeze swept through the wet bra and my silk pyjamas. Yes, I said silk. What kind of moron takes silk pyjamas to stay in a caravan? Yep, that would be me.  My little man’s clothes were wet too but, he had many layers on and his skin felt dry.
What to do.  Do I change us both?  Thus subjecting us to more wind chill or do I allow us to self dry?  Yup, I went with self dry.  Do wet clothes dry in the cold?  No, of course they bloody don’t.
Half an hour or so later and both kids were asleep in the bed.  They didn’t appear to be affected by the cold unlike me. My dilemma continued. The girl was by the wall (which the following night I realised was the coldest place on Earth) so that left me with two options: the boy in the middle next to his sis who might roll over in the night or me in the middle with the boy at the edge of the bed and what if he learnt how to roll over in the night? By this point the room was freezing and my silk pyjamas were hardening as the wet spewed up formula was turning to ice.  Before leaving for Primrose Valley, my mummy dearest had begged me to be vigilant when it came to heating the caravan. There was an electric heater in the room and I was dubious about using it and leaving it on in the night. I couldn’t feel my nose though so on it went. I positioned myself slightly underneath my son so he was kind of in the middle but far enough from his sister that he wouldn’t get a mean right hook in the face if she turned in the night.  Then I just laid there.  And laid.  And laid.  Hours passed and my son woke for a night feed and he went back to sleep (how he did this is beyond me) and I went back to just laying.  Somewhere around 4am I must have dozed as I dreamt that one of the kids from our little group was dressed as Spider-Man, hiding under our bed and taunting us; it was quite freaky actually.  The only thing that made me realise it was a dream was the fact that this said child hadn’t arrived at Primmy V yet as his mum was just making a day trip on the Saturday.  If it had been any of the other kids in the dream then my sanity may have been pushed over the edge.
I was woken around 6.30 to the cutest little voice singing ‘Let it Go’ to herself in the next room.  My friend’s three year old daughter was in fact the bravest person in the caravan that night as while I was being tormented by Spideman under the bed and literally freezing a boob off, she had slept in a room on her own all night without so much as a moan.
Saturday had arrived and with it came a luke warm shower, two cups of tea, an hour or two de thawing by the fire in the room, a trip to Starbucks for a caffeine fix and a walk to the beach.  The kids played in the sand, a few selfies were taken, I boobed on the beach, which was a first for me, and then we had lunch.  It was a pleasant day.  Rain pretty much destroyed the afternoon and soon it was the evening again.
Once again, we embarked upon the complex’s entertainment bar and slot machines.  While the other girls and children returned to the ‘party caravan’ I went to my caravan to get my two to bed.  I know I sound like a stick in the mud but my boy is five months, remember.  Right, this time I was thinking it through.  I pushed the bed to the wall; the boy would sleep there.  I would go in the middle and my daughter at the end.  Once again the artic wind hit like a knife.  There was a window on the wall and the most deathly of chills coming from it.  I couldn’t have the boy there.  He went back into the middle (both were asleep at this point and I was moving them around myself).  I laid under the duvets (we had two tonight) with a vest on, socks on and my silk pyjamas and lay there shivering.  I heard my friend and her children return from the party caravan.  Her daughter was crying and her son was running up and down.  I heard a loud clatter and then her son was crying.  But, my children slept on.  
Eventually silence fell upon us once more.  Panic then set in.  Maybe my boy was so sound asleep because he was weakened by the cold.  I had visions of me waking in the night and he would be a little block of ice.  His head wasn’t covered.  I had to find him a hat.  I climbed out of bed and whimpered.  I made my way into the main part of the caravan and I could see my breath.  Digging out a hat, I returned to the room and put it on his head.  Before I climbed back into bed, I saw our bags half packed.  That was it.  It was decided.  We were going home.  I could totally do this.  It was midnight by this point and I figured that I could get home by 2am.  I text the other half (who was fast asleep of course) and told him my plan.  Thankfully, he didn’t reply and I didn’t wake him.  I started to pack the bags together.  I even put the travel cot away as it had been left out in the living area.  I was tottering around freezing and still in my silks; I didn’t think about waking the others, which was very selfish of me.  I packed away the steriliser and the few bottles of formula I had brought.  I returned to my room to see if I had woken anyone and was crippled by the cold.  I reluctantly turned the electric heater back on and returned to my packing.  Then (thankfully) my common sense kicked in.  How viable was it for me to leave a camp site in the dead of night with my precious bundles?  I was already knackered from the night before and it was pitch black and freezing.  More to the point – how many trips to the car would I have to make to pack it up?  It was parked just outside but did I mention that it was Baltic?  I would also be a very very bad friend and mum if I up and left in the night.  By this time it was about 12.30am and I crawled back into bed.  My daughter was stirring and she asked me to cuddle her; I did and to my delight, she was warm.  With my favourite people around me and with the electric heater taking the sting out of the room, I fell asleep.  
With the morning came the thawing.  Two teas and a Starbucks later, my friends suggested swimming.  Swimming! It’s safe to say that I hastily returned to the caravan, packed up and drove home with the kids to Daddy and my wonderful warm bed.  
It took me three nights to catch up on my sleep.  Upon posting some pictures on Facebook, my friend put the comment: ‘if we book now for next year we can save 30%’.  It made me smile; she always makes me smile.  They all do.  And that’s why I would do it all again but, the silk pyjamas would be replaced by thermals and the formula with brandy! 
Pictures: bed partners, giant deckchair and a selfie stick!