The Teaching Mum

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


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Mushy or gushy or just a bit sucky? I don’t know…

When I first starting writing this little blog just over two months ago, I thought it would be somewhat easy. I knew that it would be difficult to balance writing regularly with being a mum to my two little ones, keeping the house from looking like it had been hit by a nuclear weapon and, of course, teaching full time.  But, I thought that the writing side of it would come easy. You see, I have always wanted to write. Every couple of years or so, I have a little whizz of brainwave and a (probably crap) idea for a story pops into my head which makes me decide to have a go at writing because apparently ‘everyone has one book in them’ or so I have read, or most likely heard from one of my hundreds of American box sets I regularly watch. So, off I trot to my laptop, write a few thousand words and then just discard it forever.  Sometimes I return to the story, read it, cringe, weep at my utter drivel and dreadful grammar and leave it in the netherworld forever unfinished, forced to walk among a paperless limbo of unfinished novels.  So that’s why I thought writing a blog would be easy; a couple of short posts every week and it’s done.  Only it’s not is it?  You have to first of all think of something that will entertain others; my life is not interesting and most certainly not entertaining, unless you think that simultaneously answering questions about Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, weaning and completing on line surveys in order to get Amazon vouchers is entertaining.  It isn’t.  Especially when you get Ella’s Kitchen gloop stuck in between your lap top keys (the ‘space bar’ now has to be hit down rather than just being tapped down).  You then have to think of something that no one else has written about, which is beyond impossible – especially when one in two of you guys are proud owners of a hissy fit throwing three year old girl and a Ninja Flippin’ Dude who just won’t sleep.  I personally then have to think or something that won’t offend others as it would upset me to learn that I had offended or upset anyone in any way.  (I am a bit of a softy and a complete wimp, so the idea of any confrontation makes me vom a little bit in my mouth.)  Although, in saying this all this, I have to admit that my first few posts did come really easily. I just thought that I would take the piss out of myself a bit and write about how I am sometimes a rubbish mum.  About how I am a mum who turns up late to everything, a mum who can’t be bothered with baby classes and baby sensory thingymajigs (totally a word – I am a half arsed novelist after all) a mum who probably leaves her son in his Jumparoo for a little too long, a mum who buys her cake mixes ready made, a mum who watches kids’ TV with her children too much and a mum who generally lacks any kind creative bone in her body. But then I opened myself up to this little blogging community…
Just a few of my current American Box Sets (Hannibal, Vampire Diaries, Wayward Pines and Game of Thrones are recorded on the next page… Peppa is never far from the screen though.
Using my one creative bone.

I didn’t realise that you were all out there floating and typing away in cyber space.  Sure, I know that there are lots of blogging parents, but just look at you all!   You’re all supporting one another, being creative together and generally just being pretty fab parents.  I have snooped into your Twitter feeds and gazed longingly at your super savvy fancy blogs and have just been in total awe of you. And do you know what’s really sad?  I love it when that little ‘1’ or ‘2’ or even ‘3’ comes up on my notifications on Twitter and I see that I have gained a new follower or being mentioned in someone’s Tweets.  I have to admit that I do a little ‘whoop’ that I have been included in the Twitterverse. However, upon reading all these blogs and totally stalking your asses on Twitter, I suddenly became really scared and nervous about my writing and that my posts probably weren’t funny at all.  My creative juices got metaphorically stuck in my mouth a little…

Initially, I thought I was being dead unique and had found my little blogging niche by being a teacher and a mum. But, guess what? There’s bloody loads of teachers who are parents, doctors who are parents, midwives who are parents and so on and so forth and you all write these amazing and insightful posts about juggling work with parenting, dealing with post natal depression, coping after a miscarriage and a whole plethora of other issues that these lives of ours throw at us.  And I was embarrassed.  Embarrassed that I wrote about going to the tip, embarrassed that I dedicated a whole blog post about going to the dentist or going for a walk to a sandwich shop.  Whatever your niches are, you all appear to have this parenting malarkey, working full time and blogging regularly thing down and I really don’t know how you do it.  You have my utter most respect.  I know that’s not something important but here, have it – it’s yours for the taking.

He may have been in his Jumparoo at little too long at this point.

I don’t really know where I am going with this post and having read a lot of blogs about Brit Mums Live this week, and knowing that there is no way on Earth that I will ever go to a blogging conference where I can meet you all face to face (as I will never accept myself as a blogger or writer), I just wanted to say is this:  I am really enjoying being part of this community that you have allowed me to force, push and kick my way into recently and I really hope that you will let me stay – even if I don’t or can’t post anything for weeks.  I am learning things from you:  I am learning more parenting skills, I am learning that it is okay to not be perfect and that it is all right for me to count down the minutes until my children are in bed.  I am learning how to link up to Linkys and I am slowly learning how to make my blog look a little bit more fancy (have you noticed that my photos now have a purple border around them?  I know.  Professional, right?)  But, for the most part I have learnt that I can reach out to like minded people and not be afraid to write something that has a beginning, a middle and an actual end.  I have had the guts to not leave something in limbo albeit it probably being packed full of rubbishness.  I am in no way saying that anything I write goes anywhere near what could be classed as a story or novel, but I love that I am growing a little in confidence and have had the guts to ‘publish’ something that a few other people may read.  I have you guys to thank for that.  Despite, having a complete creative writing block at the moment, and despite me not knowing where to take this (novice) blog, I don’t want to stop writing just yet, so thank you.  I am not going to bug my friends into reading this post; this is just for my followers on Twitter (the ones I have probably just blagged out out of sympathy) – it’s just a note to tell you that you have all inspired me in some way or another, so thank you. 


A day out in Tesco (no, really) that highlights my ‘mum crapness’ which I may or may not blog about soon.

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Weaning and Screaming: Child one Vs Child Two

Despite being determined to wait the magical six months to wean the boy, my partner and I got our dates a bit mixed up and started earlier than originally planned. I am including the other half in this as he was the one who, last Sunday, said. ‘Shall I put this strawberry in his mouth and see what happens?’ So we did and the boy lapped its juices like an iddy biddy pussy cat. We cooed over the cuteness and were impressed with how chilled out we were this time around.  Then the arrival of the first ‘non boobie milk only’ poo arrived and suddenly my new born was gone. I blinked and I missed it. Again.

So here is my run down of how weaning has changed in the three years since we had our daughter. I was going to call it a ‘guide’ but this is anything but a guide.

Child One
Wait the suggested six months before trying the tiniest bit of baby rice for a few days.  Mixing it up with breast milk so that you know she is still getting a bit of the good stuff.  Pluck up the courage to move onto the thicker creamier baby porridge for a few weeks after that.  Then finally  start making and buying puréed food.
Child Two

Wait five months. Grab left over strawberries from child number one’s dinner and see if child number two knows what to do when there is one being dangled in front of him (by the other half – I was all for waiting six months…)

Child One
Purchase a brand new fancy high chair from Mother Care. Don’t look after it, cut the straps off it because they were filthy and getting tight and then throw it in the tip when no longer needed. We did this knowing we wanted a second child. Money to burn, us.  Yeah right.
Child Two
Don’t buy a high chair at all. Wait until the boy has been lapping on strawberries for a few minutes, phone the in laws and ask Grandma to look for one next time she goes to a car boot. Grandma comes up trumps and brings us a second hand Silver Cross one. Bargain.
Child One
As they are not quite sitting up unaided yet, prop them up in high chair with towels so they will be comfortable.  If they start to slide forward or sideways, stop feeding and reposition. Repeat this at least four or five times over the course of the meal. 
Child Two
Sit the boy in the chair and when he leans forward and starts to suck the table, gently nudge him back to his sitting position.  When he starts to lean sideways and appears a bit distressed/pissed off, feed him quicker and then grab him moments before he loses his shizz altogether. 

Upright, upright, tipping, uh oh… 

Child One

Sterilise the shizz out of everything. We used to sterilise two plastic bowls and at least three spoons just in case one fell on the floor, touched the side of a chair/sofa or just looked at child one in the wrong way. Bottles and bowls have been sterilised that much that they have been discoloured; spoons have been melted and bent.

Child Two
Clean a spoon with a Milton wipe. 

Or a Huggies wipe.

Or just get one out of the kitchen drawer.

Child One
Cook all of your food from scratch. I boiled carrots and processed them, broccoli and processed it, sweet potato and processed it. I made loads and froze it. Days later, I lost all trust in the freezer so I binned the stored food and started again from fresh. After a few weeks (days) of doing this, I took a stroll down the baby aisle and (I swear this happened) a bright celestial light shone down and introduced me to Ella’s Kitchen pouches. Amen.

Aww, are you not sure about that one? I’ll make you something else from scratch…


Child Two
Buy the whole range of Ella’s Kitchen from Tesco. Throw in a few Hipp Organic jars as the are on offer ‘4 for £2’ and Bob’s your Uncle. The irony? I have been(almost) exclusively breast feeding for six months in order that my son gets the best start in life and to save money by not purchasing formula. As soon as I have to cook myself, out come the pouches. 

Child One
Use a different spoon and bowl for each course of the meal.  Discard any unused food.

Child Two
Use one spoon. Spoon it out of a jar or pouch (or shove pouch in mouth). Put unfinished jar in fridge for use the next day.

Child One
Google ‘baby led weaning’ at least ten times before boiling a batch of carrots to almost mush. Precariously place one carrot on the sterilised high chair table.  Wince and cringe as baby number one clumsily tries to put it in her mouth. Secretly rejoice when she doesn’t know what to do with it and puts it back down. Promise yourself that you will try solids again tomorrow and then return to Ella’s Kitchen pouches forever.

Child Two 
Sit him on your knee at dinner time and if he can reach your plate and grab something from it, then let him have it.

Child One
Get excited about giving her her first Petit Filous yoghurt as you used to eat them when you were little.

Child Two
Share (using the same spoon!) a Petit Filous yoghurt as you are not quite sure if, at five months, he should really be eating it and you haven’t had time shower, go to the toilet, drink and let alone eat yet.

So that’s how weaning is going down in our house. How about yours? The boy seems happy though when he is not either licking the table on the high chair or sucking the (second hand) straps. I do keep wiping the straps and table down with Milton wipes, that’s okay isn’t it?

New (barely used) steriliser Vs microwaved to a crisp steriliser. 
Baby Brain Memoirs


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The Liebster Award

I Thanks to @lazyhousewifeUK for my nomination. This is such a great way to meet other bloggers and find out more about each other, so here it goes;

1. Do you have any nicknames?

No nicknames as such, but I have quite a unique surname which is ‘Hirlam’.
Before I became a teacher, my email address for my old place of work was shirlam@… And someone once sent me an email and made the wrong assumption that my name was Shirley Lamb. This became my nickname until I left the job to pursue a career in teaching. In fact, only a few weeks ago, I was in a pub car park when I heard ‘Shirley Lamb’ being shouted and it was an old colleague who I had not seen for eight years!
Other nicknames have included Hirldog (another old and dreadfully missed work colleague from my first teaching school) and The Hirlamshake (mostly by students from around two years ago when the song came out.)

2. Do you have any pets?
This is an easy one. No pets. No time. No intention of getting a pet. I sometimes take the girl to the local garden centre to look at bunnies, guinea pigs and hamsters, but she hasn’t asked for one yet.  She clearly knows what Mummy’s answer will be.
3.  Do you have any strange habits?
I have an awful habit that would, if he knew I did it, make my partner’s stomach turn. For some strange reason he has a real aversion to milk; it makes him feel sick. He can bare the smallest amount on his cereal and that’s it. So, he would would be disgusted by the fact that I regularly drink out of the milk carton. I usually do it whilst I am waiting for the kettle to boil and I suddenly crave something ice cold. I have also been known to spray him with some ‘other kind’ of milk too but we’ll not talk about that one!
4. What do you catch yourself saying?
I really beat myself up over this. I say ‘in a minute’ ‘just a sec’ ‘give me a minute’ a lot to my three year old daughter, especially now since my son has been born. I feel really guilty about it, but I have a five month old, a house to run and I am marking GCSE coursework at the moment to try to get a bit of extra money to fund my maternity leave.  I have to admit that once I return to work full time in a few weeks, I am worrying about how I will find time to do anything.  Time is precious and I am concerned that I won’t spend enough of it with my children while they are young.
5.  What is your favourite food?
Easy. Chocolate. But if you ask me to my face I will say tomatoes.

6. Where is the most interesting place you have visited?
I am not very cultured and should really do more arty farty things.  I don’t seek out museums and places of interest as such.  Give me a good bar/pub, shopping centre and food and I am happy.  A few years ago, before children, I took forty students on a school trip to New York that I organised.  I had taught a lot of the students for a number of years and knew them very well; they were a great bunch.  They most definitely made the trip interesting.  I lost one boy in Bloomingdales as he ‘nipped off to find a loo’ and didn’t return for an hour.  He never did find that toilet.  One girl left over $200 dollars at the top of the Empire State Building in a Tesco carrier bag. (She got it back though.) And another girl, in the airport, got questioned by customs for a substantial amount of time because she apparently resembled someone on their ‘Most Wanted List’!!!

7.  What is your favourite way to relax?
My favourite way to relax is with a cup of tea, some chocolate watching something good recorded on Sky or on Netflix. I barely watch live TV any more, unless it’s Peppa, Ben and Holly, Scooby Doo… The list is endless.  The amount of Disney films recorded on our Sky box is ridiculous.
At the moment I am watching: Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Penny Dreadful, Wayward Pines and The Affair. I love psychological thrillers and horrors, but then I watch teen stuff like The Vampire Diaries and medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy.  I have cried rivers over Grey’s Anatomy over the years.
8. Do you have any irrational fears?
Again, not very original. I am afraid of spiders. And yet, if I see one I have to stare at it. I am also good at spotting them in my peripheral vision and will happily attack them with the vacuum and yet won’t stand on one in case I hear it crunch.
9. At the end of a hard day, you like a large glass of..?
At the end of a hard day I love either a cup of tea, an ice cold lager or a glass of red wine. Tea is for Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I allow myself alcohol from Thursday onwards.  Red wine is my favourite tipple at the moment.  I don’t drink wine on the rare occasion that I go out as it makes me fall asleep in random places so I only drink it at home where I know my bed is near by.

10.  What is your best parenting tip?
Always smile and tell your children that you love them more than they will ever know.

Find out more about about the Liebster Award.

Please take a look at my nominator’s blog page – The Lazy Housewife UK

I nominate the following Bloggers for the Liebster Award.

@EducatingR

@LMAblogger

@StacyLeaLea

@angrivatedmom

@AbPrabulous

1. What’s your proudest moment outside of parenting?

2. What would you tell your fifteen year old self?

3.  How would your children describe you?  If they can’t talk yet, how do you think they will describe you?

4. Where in the world is your favourite place?

5. What is your earliest childhood memory?

6. Who would you like to play you in a film of your life?

7. What is your favourite item of clothing?

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?

9. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

10. If you could meet anyone alive or dead who would it be?


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Do you want to see my tattoo? No, I’m crabbing with my son!

Friday 5th June.

Today, me, the munchkins and Grandma P went to Scarborough for the day. In the past, every planned or impromptu trip to the glorious East Yorkshire coast usually ends up with us being soaked to the skin or being so blown away by the wind that my hair starts to resemble that of a 1989 Pat Sharpe. However, today it was glorious and because it wasn’t the weekend or the summer holidays, it was quiet. Yay for maternity leave.  I return to work in a few weeks and need to get a few family days out in now that the sun is finally starting to shine.
We arrived just after 11 and no sooner did we step out of the car and the girl had a meltdown. What caused this meltdown you ask? Her five month old defenceless little brother had dared to use her pushchair – the pushchair that she hadn’t used in over a year.  
‘Let me take a picture of your strop!’

Loving the fact that he has peed off his sister.

This resulted in me using my ‘right, I am taking you back home’ tactic and started to open up the car. Always one to throw a curve ball into the mix, she agreed because she was tired and didn’t want to walk. Damn it. I had to quickly back peddle.
‘I mean, you will wait in the car and me, Grandma and your brother are going to the beach.’
This worked. Although, not quite the way I wanted as the strop turned into tears of despair.  Grandma intervened.
‘Do you want to go on the little choo choo train and then we will come back and get the other pushchair out too?’ (We didn’t think we would get two on the miniture train). This worked better. (Note to self: be nice and don’t use threats – especially ones you have no intention of following through.) So off we went to experience the mini train.
I had to carry the girl up to the ticket shop. Even though the strop had ended, she was still too exhausted to walk the two hundred yards to the ticket office. Once we were all board the train all was well with the world again and we ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at the beach, the castle and the fact that is was so hot.  We decided to have little wonder for half an hour and by that point the boy had decided to make his presence known. The girl and Gran went to go and write their names in the sand. Me? What did I do? You know the answer to this already: I fed the boy. Today’s unusual feeding place was standing up, (I have now mastered just about every position), rocking and turning away from every person who decided to walk past. Thankfully, it wasn’t busy, but I was still doing a slow rotating circle along the beach front. Then the girl looked up and noticed an opportunity.  She was no longer writing her name in the sand. She was bounding towards me; her eyes fixated on something. She stopped abruptly in front of me and suddenly ‘remembered that she was tired’, bent down to ‘catch her breath’ and then threw herself into the pushchair. God, she’s good. I had to carry the boy back up to the train, (with Grandma pushing a heavy three year old) where I quickly changed his nappy on a train seat whilst shouting ‘second child’, shaking my head and rolling my eyes to anyone who glanced my way.  Poor kid; I change him anywhere. 

I’m inside changing the boy’s nappy..! 😉

We are not ‘The Finch’s’, not with that apostrophe error!

Next stop was fish and chips as you can’t go to the seaside without having fish and chips. We chose an ‘award winning’ one that also had a five out of five rating from Trip Advisor so we were pretty confident that they would taste delicious.  We made it just in time though as it shut at 1.30pm. If we ever needed further confirmation that the fish and chips were worth every penny, it came from the quite elderly woman who arrived at her favourite fish bar at 1.35pm, found the doors firmly shut and proceeded to turn the sea air blue with her profanities.  Covering my daughter’s ears, we ate up and I resisted the urge to lick my lips and rub my stomach in front of the still annoyed (and yet, still lingering) woman and off we went to buy a bucket and spade for the beach.
In another life – a life where I am still in my twenties without children – I could have fallen asleep on that beach, something didn’t think I would ever be able to say about Scarborough. Anyway, as it happens, I am well into my thirties and blessed with two munchkins so I had to make do with laying on a Peppa Pig blanket spluttering out pieces of flying sand that were being shaven away from the girl’s sandcastles.  Grandma and my girl then went to go and paddle in the sea and I laid back down. You know how this bit pans out. The boy woke and I fed him on the beach. I have to give myself the tiniest pat on that back at this point as I really struggled at feeding in public the first time round and would get very stressed at the thought of it.  However, thanks to a lot of reading of articles on the internet this time around, I have learnt to put the needs of my child over what others think. Also, at the end of the day, does anyone care? I think it was all in my head. Serious bit over. Grandma and my girl returned and it was my turn to take her to the sea.

I’m just going to pause for a second there and explain that last week (along with other bloggers) I was invited to take part in a linky hosted by mamavsteacher. As I am still very new at blogging and very unskilled when it comes to managing my page and links, I am very flattered to be asked. The linky is called Imagination Matters and you would think that with my being a teacher, I would be imaginative and creative. I’m not.  This week’s linky is called ‘by the sea’ and rather than use this title to create any number of creative stories, metaphors, games and pictures, I decided to take the title literally and head to the beach. (Okay, okay, so the trip was pre-planned, but it’s a bit of a tenuous link for the linky so I hope it will do for this week.) Here is my ‘by the sea’ bit: 

The girl has, until recently, being a bit wussy around the water and I guess it’s partly my fault as I don’t really get the time to take her swimming. I was very impressed that she was paddling happily  in the sea and running onto the sand when the tide washed up.  What the girl didn’t notice though (neither did I at first) was that scattered along the beach were a few washed up dead crabs.  When I did finally notice one I internally freaked out and then praised the Lord that I had kept my shoes on. I chose not to alert the girl until she chose to run in from the sea and step on one. She didn’t realise, but I couldn’t hold it in.
‘Argh! You’ve stepped on a crab!’ I yelled.
She stopped.
I stopped. 
And waited.  
There had to be a meltdown brewing; I had made a terrible terrible mistake. However, much to my complete and total surprise, she just bent down and asked if it was asleep.  I nodded and took her to show another and another and another.  Poor ‘sleeping’ crabs.  As I was doing this, I noticed a Dad was doing something similar with his son.  I haven’t yet discussed with you my teenage (and adult) obsession with the greatest band on Earth: Green Day.  Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all the pointless knowledge embedded into my brain about this awesome band. (I’ll just bore you with this blog post instead.)  But, I noticed something familiar on the dad’s arm.  It was a tattoo of the Kerplunk Flower.  I too am the (not so proud) owner of a tattoo of the Kerplunk Flower but mine is on my stomach.  A stomach which has now twice been stretched to its full capacity leaving the poor little flower a bit worse for wear.  Note to my seventeen year old self, who asked her mum to go with her to get a Green Day tattoo: (Could I be more of a geek?)  Your stomach will not always look like it does at seventeen.  Despite all this though, this Dad had to know that he had a kindred Kerplunk spirit standing right next to him.
‘You have the Kerplunk flower,’ I said.
He looked up.
I lifted my t-shirt slightly and showed him my smaller, older and blurrier Kerplunk Flower on my postpartum stomach.
‘Oh yeah,’ was his reply.
Oh yeah?  Oh yeah?  Was that it?  Were we not going to have some heated discussion as to whether ‘Kerplunk’ was better than ‘Dookie’ and have Green Day, with their last three releases, lost their greatness?  No, of course we weren’t because he was crabbing with his son, he was holidaying with his wife (who I hope to God didn’t think I was flirting), we were complete strangers and it would just be weird.  Proper weird.  I went back to running in and out of the sea with my daughter.  I was secretly smiling inside though as it’s always nice to find a fellow Kerplunk fan even if he thinks you are strange woman who should be putting more attention into playing with her daughter.

The Kerplunk Flower!

More feeding on the beach followed and I think a pre-teen boy noticed what I was doing because when I looked up I noticed him staring and he didn’t do the polite thing and look away.  He just continued to stare until he was hurried along by his mother.  I hope I haven’t scarred him for life.  I probably have.  

After a good hour on the beach, we went to find a coffee shop, had some cake and decided to make our way home.  We packed the car up and within minutes of driving, the two munchkins were fast asleep.  The moment I posted a ‘pretty perfect day out’ post on my Facebook status, we got caught up in a huge traffic jam.  There had been an accident, but rather than complain, we were thankful that it wasn’t us in the accident and hoped that all involved were okay.

Then the boy woke up.

And started screaming.

This then made me glance into the back and I realised I hadn’t fastened the seatbelt around his chair properly.

I clambered into the back, lifted him out of his chair, (the traffic was at a stand still and I obviously wasn’t the driver) stripped him to cool him down, fed him, calmed him and placed him back in his seat securely and safely.  It’s a bloody good job he did wake up and alert me to my total and utter slackness.  We ended up being stuck in traffic for about an hour, but despite this, when I think about it, it was a pretty perfect day by the sea with sun, sand, sea, a miniature train, fish and chips, an elderly profanity spewing woman, lattes, cakes, my favourite people in the world, my mum paying for everything and a dad with a Green Day tattoo. 

Well, my strange definition of ‘perfect’ anyway.

Sandy bum! 

And beach fun. Look how excited he is!