The Teaching Mum

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


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My Dream Bathroom

Before the munchkins came along and sucked away all of our spare money, the Other Half and I used to live in a little new build mid-terrace. It was small, but okay for us as a couple. Then, the girl came along and suddenly it was like we were living in a cardboard box.  We had to move.

Now, out of a sad situation came a lovely opportunity for my family and I to build a home together. As you know, my dad passed away six years ago, and his mum, my Grandma, passed away three years later. She made it to the grand old age of 93 and was able to meet her great granddaughter. Being an only child, I inherited her house and I chose to sell it in order to get a deposit for our forever home.

The Other Half and I are very fortunate to live in a picturesque little village called Ackworth in Yorkshire and we bought a four bedroomed detached house with fields to the back and side. However, we clearly viewed the property with rose tinted spectacles on as once we moved in we realised that A LOT of work needed to be done on the house. Every penny we had went into the house and every month a large proportation of our wages goes on the mortgage. We tell ourselves that eventually it will be worth it, but right now the house, the mortgage and my recent second maternity leave have crippled us.

One room in the house that particularly annoys me is the bathroom. Within the first week or so of moving in, the stand alone shower broke and I had to get a bath every morning before work which was time consuming and costly. The poor Other Half just stood in a cold shower every morning for five minutes for eighteen months. We have fixed the shower to an extent, but the tiles are dated, old and grubby as you can see. Mr Muscle can not shift that dirt no matter how hard I try.

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We stand in this every morning! Eww!


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I scrub the tiles weekly , but they still look grubby and old.

My ideal bathroom would be modern. I would love a walk in shower and want the shower head to be MASSIVE! I have always wanted a stand alone bath, but the practical Mum in me doesn’t know how suitable one would be with two small children.  However, any bath, whether it be a stand alone one, a corner one or just an acrylic one would be a million times better than this one.  It was sold to us by the previous owners as a ‘jacuzzi’ style bath, but the only bubbles I’ve seen have come from the girl after she has had one too many baked beans for tea…

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Even poor Peppa has seen better days


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Not even the retro VW picture can save this bathroom.

When it comes to decorating and interior design, I really have no idea so that’s why I have enjoyed looking at the websites and choosing my ideal bathroom suite and tiles.  Having looked at the bathroom suites on The Big Bathroom Shop, these are my favourites:



Of course, for every modern chic bathroom, there must be some awesome tiles too.  These are the ones I like from Tile Mountain



Follow Stacey’s board My Dream Bathroom on Pinterest.

https://uk.pinterest.com/teachingmum81/my-dream-bathroom/

As you can see, there is such a diverse range of suites and tiles out there for everyone.

I hope I haven’t grossed you all out with the pictures of my current bathroom!

*This is my entry for #mydreambathroom competition run by Big Bathroom Shop and Tile Mountain*


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Cot Watch

Good evening,

It is Friday 24th July and it is 8.30pm.  Hello and welcome to ‘Cot Watch Live’.

What is Cot Watch, you ask?  Well, basically it is me upstairs watching a cot.  I can almost hear the TV producers banging down my door.  This week the Ninja Flippin’ Dude has officially been the Snottiest Boy on Earth and being the soft mum that I am, he has been sleeping with me.  Well, no more!  I vowed that over the summer holidays I would get the boy off the boob and in his own bed.  I will have over seven hours of sleep in 2015, by God, I will.

What you need for Cot Watch:

  •   A baby (pictured.)

  • A cot (pictured.)

 

  • A V-Tech thing that plays music in pink (it once belonged to the girl and failed miserably at getting her to sleep in her own cot. Pictured.)

 

  • My favourite purple M&S dressing gown (pictured.)

 

  • Formula made up and a flask all ready to go
  • A glass of red wine (pictured.)

 

  • A boob (thankfully, not pictured.)

I am just going to hold it there as it has been at least ten minutes and he hasn’t cried.  I am worried.

*Grabs iPhone and switches on torch.*

Okay, I have checked and he is still asleep and still breathing.  I had to use stealth like movements as every bloody floor board in this house creaks.  Upon arriving at the cot, I had to take a moment as the blood was pounding in my ears and I struggled to hear his long deep breaths.  But, don’t worry, I am back and have just taken a big gulp of wine to calm my nerves.

It all started so calmly at 6.45pm this evening.  We had finished our haute cuisine of spaghetti hoops, oven chips and fish fingers (we all ate this as tomorrow is The Big Shop) and suddenly bath time was upon us once again.  I ran the bath for the girl and got the boy ready for bed.  After ten minutes or so, the Other Half came into the bathroom, tagged me out (in a WWE Wrestling kind of way) and I was allowed into our room to start Operation Bed Time.  The lights were dim, the formula was made and warm, the Dude was snuggled in his all in one and laying next to me.  I removed the bottle lid.  He drank.  This is a small victory in itself as he often likes to play with the teat, push the bottle away, stand up and shout: ‘Woman! Give me boob!’  Okay, okay, so maybe not that last two, but that’s totally what is going on in his tiny little head.  His little eyes started to glaze over as the milk started to warm his little tum.

Across the hall in the girl’s room, I could hear the Other Half’s frankly brilliant way of settling her down for bed.  And by ‘frankly brilliant’, I mean sh*t.  Since having the boy back in January, my nose has been well and truly pushed out of the girl’s bedtime routine; I am lucky these days if I get a kiss, a cuddle and a slap around the chops before she goes running off into her room shouting the words “It’s activity time, Daddy!”  Ah yes, Activity Time.  What a great way to get your three year old ready to enter the land of nod.

This is what you need for Activity Time:

  • A Dad (or any parent) who is a glutton for punishment
  • A three year old child
  • The ability to lift the three year old child by her legs and swing her around upside down
  • The strength to then grab both the three…

…9.18pm – The boy has woken…

…9.36pm and I am back.  I sung Twinke Twinkle four times, shoved the V-Tech thing back on, stroked his hands, got my hand caught in his vice like grip, read ‘Just a Normal Mummy’s’ latest hilarious blog post (that made me question my not so hilarious one and my ability to write in general), escaped from the death grip and rolled (yes, rolled) out of his room.  And here we are.

*Drinks another mouthful or red wine*

Right, where was I?

  • The strength to then grab both the three year old’s arms and legs together and then swing her up and down
  • A bed strong enough for a three year old to bounce on for ten minutes
  • An iPad with Barbie: Life in the Dream House on or ‘Super Why’  for when you feel guilty about not practising her letters with her that day and insist on an ‘educational programme’

Yes, it’s no wonder she takes ages to get to bloody sleep.  We made a rod for our own backs there.

Luckily for me, the sound of Barbie and Ken chuckling over who had the plastic pox (a doll ailment apparently) did not seem to bother the boy and he continued to doze and drink his milk.  After a few minutes, the teat was released and I secretly cursed him for only drinking four of the seven fluid oz as I knew that the boob may well have to make an appearance.  Like I was holding the finest bone china, I carried him to his cot and placed him in.  His eyes opened.  He looked at me and immediately I knew that holding eye contact was a big mistake.  His eyes glazed again and shut.  I did a little shimmy and a fist bump and the damn floor board creaked.  He woke, he flipped and he cried.  Crap.

Controlled crying commenced for at least three minutes and forty three seconds before I broke, returned him to my room and used the boob and five minutes later he was snoozing again.  Once again, ninja like, I moved him from my room and into his cot.  Guess what?  You already know the answer.  He flipped and cried.  The V-Tech thing went on, I sat down and stroked his back.  After ten minutes or so he fell asleep so I ran down stairs sterilised a bottle, boiled the kettle, poured some wine, grabbed the lap top and told the Other Half all about my ‘Cot Watch’ plan.  “Good idea,” he said.  “Best get up there straightaway before he wakes again.”  Ah, how we love spending our evenings together…

And so it is now 10.01pm and I realise that I am missing a trick here.  The boy is asleep and has been for the best part of an hour if we ignore the 9.18pm blip.  I should be sleeping too and not typing away on this lap top.

Happy Friday night folks! Good night.

I’ll just go check on him again. *Grabs iPhone*

I also need to bring the bottle and formula up from down stairs.

And finish my wine.

And add the photos to the post.  I’m not going to sleep any time soon am I?

Thank you for joining us for Cot Watch. Same time tomorrow? No, I thought not.

Domestic Momster
Mami 2 Five

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An Ode to Sleep – Or Lack of it. AKA ‘Sleep in my own bed? You’re having a laugh.’

‘If my children slept,’ she wept, ‘I’d get all my housework done.’
‘During the light summer nights, I could enjoy a beer on the decking and watch the setting sun.’

‘If my children slept,’ she wept, ‘my evenings would be free.’

‘I could complete my day’s marking and then watch American box sets on my TV.’

‘If my children slept,’ she wept, ‘the other half and I could share an evening date.’

‘Who am I kidding there?’ she mused. ‘No way would I ever venture out and stay up late.’

‘My children don’t like sleeping,’ she cried. ‘Why is this so true?’

‘After watching Barbie: Life in my Dreamhouse a dozen times, the girl will always suddenly need a poo.’

‘My children don’t like sleeping,’ she cried. ‘They’re afraid to sleep alone.’

‘There are no monsters under our beds though, just the Other Half laying in the girl’s room playing Tetris on his phone.’

‘My children don’t like sleeping,’ she moaned. ‘Even thick formula doesn’t do the trick.’

‘And when I pull out a boob for comfort, the boy decides to projectile vomit.’

‘My children just don’t like sleeping,’ she confirmed. ‘I know I am always complaining.’

‘It’s been six months since the boy came along and I am desperate to go netball training.’

‘Shhhh, my children are sleeping,’ she whispered. ‘The house is finally quiet.

‘I’m off to raid the fridge for chocolate and destroy my post pregnancy diet.’

‘Shhhh, my children are sleeping,’ she mused. ‘Finally some alone time.’

‘In fear of them waking up, I never get to savour my red wine.

‘Shhhh, my children are sleeping,’ she whispered. ‘Adult talk for mum and dad.’

‘But he tells me I look tired, hooks up Netflix and starts to watch Breaking Bad.’

‘Shhhh, my children are finally sleeping,’ she says. ‘I think the boy must be teething.’

‘I’ll just nip back upstairs, you know, to check they’re both ok and still breathing…’

 
‘We’re not off to sleep, Mum. Get your pyjamas on and don’t even bother going back downstairs.’

I don’t even know why I have used the pronoun ‘she’. You all know the person in the poem is me.

#mumfail

#rubbishsleepers

#yesiaminmypjsinbed

#iwanttowatchtruedetective

A Cornish Mum


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A Sporting Day Out at the Dogs

10th July

Waking up to the delightful sound of my alarm while simultaneously being kicked in the face by a uncontrolled limb in a Next jumpsuit, I knew that today would be a good one. First of all, it was going to be 26 degrees in sunny Yorkshire and secondly it was our Sports Day at school. The Other Half was up and at ’em also as it was his Sports’ Day and with him being a PE Teacher, it was his day to shine. And shine he did, like a beacon in the sea, as he forgot to apply sun cream to his, by his own admission, rather sizeable nose. Once upon a time, many moons ago, The Other Half and I used to work together in the same school. Similar to epic romance stories like Romeo and Juliet, The Notebook and Lady and the Tramp, ours was a tale of true love and passion whereby we met in a drunken stupor on a Christmas night out.  He asked me out, I said yes, he tried to dump me a few weeks later, I clung on for dear life and eight years and two kids later we are bound together by our huge mortgage and living in an unmarried bliss of broken sleep, dirty nappies and Sky Plus.  However, this PE connection served me well in past Sports’ Days because I was invited into the ‘circle of trust’ and allowed to do the PE type jobs such as rake the sand in the long jump or pick up javelins rather than just being told to do ‘crowd control’ which usually involved teachers hovering around pungent Year 9s begging them to cheer on their team mates running in the relay and ordering and them to pick up their litter or even trying to prevent them from climbing over the wall to go to McDonalds across the road.  However, not until I moved to my current school, did I realise that my old school was missing a trick when it came to Sports’ Day because only one word can sum up it up and that word is: epic.  Epic. A small word with such a big meaning, but it really was an epic day. I recall, after lunch, standing and watching a bunch of pre-pubescent Smurfs having a Tug of War against a form of blood thirsty zombies and thinking that this wouldn’t happen in any other job in the world.
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Some of the costumes at this year’s Sports’ Day. Please note that these are not actual students.

As a qualified netball umpire (I am well aware of the coolness that just oozes from my pores), I was asked to umpire Year 7 netball in the morning. I jumped at the chance because not only do I love netball, but students might mistake me for one of the cool PE Teachers as opposed to the geeky English Teacher who gets a bit too excited at modelling PEE paragraphs.  Also, and more importantly, I was able to wear my trusty jogging bottoms.  You know the ones I mean, the ones I have just about worn every day for the last six months of my maternity leave.  Today they were totally relevant to what I was doing and not just being used to lounge around the house in all day doing the exact opposite of what ‘jogging’ bottoms are supposed to do.  Anyway, the netball games began and the teams were mixed boy and girl; I have to admit that between my screeching of ‘keep your feet still’, ‘just shoot it’ and ‘no you can’t tackle her’, the boys were pretty awesome at the game and put some of the girls to shame.  In addition to my refereeing like a non-bias professional, I managed to play my ‘mum card’ as I made a student take his thick black jumper off amidst fears that he may over heat and dehydrate, I fastened another boy’s laces and it was safe to say that if any of them had returned to the netball courts after break with a bit of leftover ice-cream on their chops, then my super stain remover ‘mum spit’ may have had to make an appearance.
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I am sure the British equivalent ‘Mum Spit’ works just as well.

After lunch, students returned to their forms to change into their chosen form theme. Both students and teachers dress up in full costume and make-up and they look fantastic. This year we had zombies, cheerleaders, Smurfs, surgeons, the Toy Story Aliens, vampires, Pink Ladies and T-Birds to name but a few.  I was even asked to help put red contact lenses directly into the eyes of some Year 9 vampires.  (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would ever write.)  In the afternoon, the students raced against each other in relays and then tested their strength in a Tug of War. All bets were off in the events too as the zombies kicked the aliens’ asses in the running events and yet were annilatied by a bunch of cheerleaders in the Tug of War.  As the day drew to a close, the fantastic PE staff announced the Year 7, 8 and 9 winners and the students left school with painted faces, sun drunk and happy which also meant that I too could leave to prepare for a rare night out with my friends which involved me painting on my ‘going out’ face, getting some drunk and I don’t know about being happy, but I was certainly more merry than I had been in well over a year.
To celebrate an amalgamation of June and July birthdays, my friend booked a Groupon at Kingsley Dog racing where we drunk a little too much, bet too little, ate questionable meat and where my friend, JC, took a few too many selfies with my phone.
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Me lovely glamorous friend and me in slippers…with a beer.

The evening began rather civilised with a few drinks in my garden.  The Other Half, perhaps inspired by some Year 9s trying to escape to McDonalds at his Sports Day, took the girl for a ‘drive thru’ at the local ‘Golden Arches’ and that left the boy with me and my friends in the garden.  Trying to be the hostess with the mostess, I offered one friend a glass of white wine which, she pointed out, had floaty bits in it, perhaps my ‘mum spit’ got an outing that day after all… (It didn’t CG, don’t worry.)  Our taxi arrived and we descended upon The Dogs.  Despite a few reservations about the Groupon deal, a lovely evening was had by all.  We were able to sit outside in the pleasant evening, enjoy a drink and have a laugh.  Now that we all have children, it’s not often that we get a childless night out together.  Just to serve as a reminder that I had left my ‘mum hat’ (and spit) at home, The Other Half text me at half past nine to tell me that the Ninja Flippin’ Dude had been crying and looking around for me for the past two hours.  In order to keep my guilt at bay, I ordered a gin and tonic and after fifteen minutes, I received another text informing me that he was finally asleep, but on our bed.
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The girls and my gin and tonic.

And that is right where he is this very moment as I am typing these last few words.  I know that I am very slow at typing these posts and I am writing about the events that happened last Friday.  I almost wish I could say that it was a weekend long hangover that prevented me from typing, but sadly no.  It has been my Little Dude.  He just won’t settle in his cot at the moment.  Therefore, I had better stop typing this in the dark, turn off the computer, give him a cuddle and go to sleep with him.
He will probably wake up in ten minutes after I have finished my proof reading…
The Twinkle Diaries
Modern Dad Pages


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My First Day at Work Smirk.

Monday 6th July

At 5.30am this morning, I woke up and glanced at my phone and my snoozing boy. Yes, I know he should have been snoozing in his cot, but I needed sleep and we all know how much of an imperfect Mum I am. ‘Yes!’ I silently fist bumped the air as I returned to snoozing for another 45 minutes. Then, at 6.15, my alarm sounded and woke both me and the dozing boy up.  The Other Half came in and laid with him while I had a shower; it was the first mid-week shower I have had with no crying baby, no screaming three year old, no yelling that there is a (tiny) spider on the wall and no yanking (and breaking) the shower door open to ask if I had been in there for two minutes yet. I could have stayed in there all day.

By 7am I was dressed, the boy was dressed and the girl was dressed and eating breakfast downstairs. Sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it?  Although, there is a big difference between being dressed and being ready. Grabbing the boy, I made my way downstairs to sterilise the bottles, choose the food to take to Grandma’s, make up the formula for the bottles and pack his favourite (only) toys.  I also had to pack up my girl’s clothes for the day and, of course,  I had to get her a *rolls eyes* Fruit Shoot before I could gather everything up by the door in the hope that the Other Half may take pity on my plight and pack the car up for me. (He didn’t.)  I had four bags and that didn’t include my work handbag.  As we were about to leave, the boy began to cry in his car seat.  Suddenly, I remembered I had to grab him a spare sleep suit so I dashed upstairs.
‘Stay with your brother,’ I said to the girl.
‘No,’ was her reply and she came upstairs with me following me so close that I tripped over her feet.
I came back down stairs and then realised that I had forgotten a cardigan for the girl so I ran back up again with the her hot on my heels.  After reaching the outside door, I panicked that I hadn’t switched my hair straighteners off so I ran upstairs once more, by this time I had a bit of a sweat on. (Cardio.)
‘Stay with your brother,’ I begged.
‘No!’ She set off behind me, pushed past me on the stairs, jumped onto the landing.  ‘I win!’ She cried. The straighteners were, as always, off and unplugged and I ran back downstairs.  By this time, the boy’s face was almost blue with crying.  Might as well run upstairs again for the laugh, so I did.  Just kidding.  I loaded them and everything else into the car and set off to my Mum’s house as she was having both of the children for the day.  Lucky her…

At 8.20 I arrived at work and it was like I had never left.  It was nice to be able to walk and not waddle along the car park and it was lovely to be able to fit through the door that leads to our department.  I said my hellos, found an empty classroom and just enjoyed the silence for two whole hours.  Two hours of no crying, of no feeding, of no mopping up sick, of no running from room to room just to see if my three year old followed me in a blind panic, no being climbed on, no GCSE moderation marking; it was bliss.  But, then I became acutely aware that there was no smelling of my boy’s head, no ‘Cookie Monster’ kisses from my girl, no giggles from the Jumparoo, no random questions about Paw Patrol or Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures; I was missing them.  A few guilt ridden minutes passed before I opened my emails and was greeted with literally hundreds of the buggers. My boss had given me a few jobs to do so I cracked on.

I get to appreciate good grammar humour once again.  Us English Teachers, we’re a right laugh.

Break time was the first time was able to see some of my old students.  One girl stared at me, looked at my stomach and then my newly acquired fringe; she looked confused.  I smiled.
‘All right?’ I asked.
She looked embarrassed and then spoke to her friend telling her that I was back.  Her friend stared at me blankly and admitted that she had no idea who I was.  It was nice to see that I had made an impact with my teaching.

I was invited to help some students from my old Year 10 class with their coursework.  Upon entering the classroom, there were more glances at my fringe and a few mutterings of my name being spoken under breaths. One boy broke the ice by asking if I had had my baby.  I glanced at my stomach, breathed in, stood a little taller and replied that indeed I had (whilst secretly cursing the fact that I still had not lost my baby weight). I sat with a student and helped him improve a letter he had been writing.  I found myself getting into the swing of things again when I started reciting some old friendly phrases of mine.
‘Connective comma!’
‘Oh,’
‘Change that to an ‘ing’ word and add a comma and what have you now used?’
‘A complex sentence, Miss,’
‘Stop using random commas!’
‘What should I use then?’
‘A FULL STOP!’
Commas (comma) when used correctly (comma) are ace (comma) but when used incorrectly (comma) that can be the difference between a C and a D.  Is that right?  Oh I don’t know!  I much prefer the question mark and the exclamation mark; you know where you stand with them.  Bugger, did I just use that semi colon correctly?
*Pulls hair out.*  Now I know that I am not using the asterisk properly.

By the afternoon I had returned to the empty classroom to continue writing a series of lessons about Frankenstein which is one of my favourite books.  However, I was concerned about how I was going to engage a group of Year 10 students in a novel written well over one hundred years ago?  The language is challenging and the narrative structure is a little confusing also.  I figured it out though and through my use of the asterisk once again, I will describe my actions:

*Googles You Tube*
*Types in Penny Dreadful*
Sky Atlantic comes up trumps once again.

I left work a little after 4pm and raced over to my Mum’s house.  Noticing my girl in the window, I waved giddily only for her to stare blankly back at me.  It was nice to see that she had missed me.  I knocked on the door to be greeted by my Petit Filous splattered, dishevelled Mum.  If you read my post about my Mum’s special birthday, then you know how lovely she is and how smart and bang on trend she always is.  Bless her, she let out a huge sigh and told me that the boy had spent the majority of the day crying and looking around for me (he was crying in her arms at that very moment.)  I grabbed him and he stopped and suddenly my guilt kicked in once again. 

Grandma P before having both of the Munckins all day and after…

We packed up the car once again and I left a slightly broken Momma Bear alone for her to catch her breath and get some rest before she had them again on Wednesday.  We arrived home just after 5pm, ate dinner as a family (with a food splattered boy moaning in his high chair), bathed the girl and put them both to bed.  At 9pm I finally sat down with my first cup of tea of the day (I drank tea and dunked biscuits every hour on the hour during maternity leave) and by 9.15pm the boy was crying and ninja flippin’ in his cot.  Don’t judge me for this, but I needed a decent night’s sleep.  I removed him from his cot and placed him next to me in my bed.  He had a little feed, a long cuddle and together we drifted off to sleep.

The following morning, we woke, I showered, he pooed, he put his hands in his poo, I freaked out, I grabbed his hands, I got poo in my nail, I freaked out, I put a new nappy on quickly, I showed the Other Half my nail, he told me I was gross, I washed my hands and cut my nail and started the process of getting ready for work all over again.

Happy Tuesday to me!

A Cornish Mum
The Dad Network


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Sun + Water = Paddling Fool

Wednesday 1st July – The Hottest Day of the Year…so far.

After another rubbish night’s sleep, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed hot, sluggish and with the Ninja Flippin’ Dude next to me.  To say that I woke up would be very wrong.  As always, I was woken by the girl banging on the door demanding to be let in.  Daddy, fresh from the shower, opened the door for her and she came bounding in Fruit Shoot in hand.

‘I want something to watch!’ she demanded.
‘Shhh, your brother is asleep.’
She whispered: ‘I want something to…’ and then shouted: ‘watch!’
She looked at her brother.
‘Look, he’s awake now.’
I screamed into my pillow as the Other Half waltzed back in and unknowingly annoyed me further by saying:
‘You won’t be able to get the paddling pool out today.  It’s too difficult to manoeuvre because the lawn is on a slope.  You have to position it and prop it up with stuff so that it doesn’t over flow.  I wouldn’t bother if I was you.’  He was only trying to help.  In hindsight, I should have listened.  I didn’t  Today was scheduled to be a scorcher.  I’ll show you. I thought.

I didn’t.

It was nursery day for the girl so after dropping her off, my plan was to sit in the garden with my boy and enjoy my last week of maternity leave.  I thought I would be also attempt to be Super Mum by getting the paddling pool out for her to enjoy after nursery.

Last year, Asda were selling big paddling pools for a tenner and so not to miss out on a bargain, we decided to buy one.  Only we couldn’t.  Every single bloody Asda near us had sold out. We ended up forking out about £35 on one from Smyths.  It was huge.  We didn’t think the purchase through as five hours after pulling it from its box, it was still filling up.  We only used it once last summer so I thought it was time to dust off the literal cobwebs and get it out again for the hottest day of the year.  Granddad came and took the boy out for a walk at 11am so I seized the opportunity to sort out the pool whilst I had the house to myself even though the vacuum was out, the washing needed hanging out and the breakfast bowls were still in the sink.  (You can clearly see where my priorities lay.) I just had to brave the garage.  

The garage, for me, is unknown territory.  I don’t go in at all as legend tells that there are spiders the size of horses in there; it has even been noted that some carry shields and swords.  Wearing my shorts, vest and flip flops, my only form of protection came from some gardening gloves so I was not unarmed.  Upon entering the garage, it was like the home to a long lost tribe.  There were chairs scattered around, a TV (plugged in) perched upon a large container and the remnants of old toys long since forgotten.  There was a sledge, buckets and spades, curtain rails, sun loungers, a boxed up bouncy castle, two bikes and the dead rotting corpse of a spider splattered on the wall.  The Other Half must have, at one time, won a battle with it.  However, they were clearly winning the war, as I could see webs hanging precariously from above and some were woven neatly among the abandoned furniture and toys.  Then I spotted the box.  The paddling pool was boxed up gathering dust under the curtain poles and some discarded bits of carpet.  Using my gloved hands, I tried to pull it over towards the door, but alas it was too heavy.  I had to lift things and move things before I could pick up the box.  Closing my eyes, I squealed picked it up, ran for the door and threw it in a heap on the grass and then hastily stepped on anything that crawled or fell from the box.  It was mostly crumpled up old leaves, but sword wielding spiders sounds better.

We wrestled these from a spider earlier.

The Other Half’s wise words whispered in my ears: ‘The garden is on a slope.’  I dragged the pool to the flattest point of the garden and opened it up.  I then started to blow it up.  Forty five minutes later, I was still blowing it up.  I won’t bore you with the detail but if you could see me, I was sitting crossed legged on the grass, blowing the pool up inbetween batting away flies and jumping up and screaming every time a wasp or hornet came within five feet of me.  I don’t know if you can tell this, but I am not an outdoorsy person.

Next bit was the hose.  Dragging it out of the garage, I switched it on and threw it in the pool and waited.  And waited.  I went in to make a coffee.  I returned outside and waited.  Screw this, I thought and went inside to watch an episode of True Detective (it’s rather good, isn’t it?)  I returned outside every so often and once again the Other Half’s wise words haunted me.  Only one half was starting to fill.  Darn.  They were my exact words…  Dashing about the house, I found old pillows and cushions that I thought would provide leverage and tried to ram them underneath the pool.  I didn’t realise that a large amount of water all pooled together would be very heavy.  I couldn’t lift the bloody thing and just shoved the pillows around the side the best I could.  I stood back and admired my lopsided handy work just in time for Grandad to return.

I don’t think it’s supposed to look like this.

I have to admit that I was a little excited about getting the boy in the pool.  I may have (once or twice) mentioned that I am a bit rubbish at doing all the new mum and baby things.  When my girl was a baby, I paid for her to go to those baby swimming classes which were, in my opinion, a complete rip off.  I had to drive for the best part of an hour in order to get twenty minutes pool time.  After being kicked out of the pool, I then spent a fraught half an hour drying a cold crying baby surrounded by other mums in a communal changing area.  Not one for loving public nakedness and panic drying, I vowed never again.  Watching American box sets is much more exciting than swimming and bonding…

Armed in his little swimming trunks and cap, I dunked his feet in. He cried. Never one to give in, I dunked him again and for a little longer this time.  He cried. This continued for ten minutes before I gave up and returned inside and watched the end of True Detective. (Did you see that coming at the end of episode two?) 

Loving every second of being in the garden.

Before I could attempt round two of ‘dunk and cry’, a rumbling in the distance could be heard and I saw a few splashes of water on the windows. The poor boy was shoved in his ever faithful Jumparoo (why did I even attempt a new activity with him?) and I made a mad dash outside to collect the cushions, put the hose away and put the garage back in lock down.  The heavens opened on my poor lopsided paddling pool and my dream of being Super Mum was washed away by the torrential rain.

At 3.15pm the other half called me as I was typing this blog.  He was on his way home from work and told me that he would collect the girl.

‘Have you got the paddling pool out?’ He asked.
‘In a sense, yes,’ I answered.
Did you prop it up?
‘Yes…but…’ he didn’t let me finish.
‘Is it full?’
‘Erm.’
‘Has it been acclimatised?’
‘What?’

‘I might take her to the park,’
‘What!? You will not take her to the park!’ I shouted.  ‘I have spent the best part of the day filling it.’
By the time the girl returned home, the sun was shining again. She came running in and asked for her ladybird costume. The Other Half followed, glanced at the paddling pool and shook his head.
‘What is that?’ he asked.
I explained about the cushions, about boy’s aversion to water, the torrential down pour and that really he should give True Detective a chance.  By this time, he was being dragged upstairs to get changed. Once she was in her swimming gear, the girl launched herself into the pool and started splashing around.  The Other Half soon followed.  Upon observing the sunken walls of the pool and the floating leaves, he glanced at his daughter and smiled.
‘It’s served its purpose, I suppose.’ He said.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about as much praise as I am going to get for my attempts at being a Super Mum.
At least someone appreciated my efforts.

And so here we are.  It’s 5.30pm and after continuing to play in the pool whilst I held (but didn’t dunk) a very sweaty little boy, the Other Half suggested a barbeque.  He and the girl are out getting lighter fuel and I have just fed my fussy boy and reached for my first Peroni of the evening.

The abandoned pool and bbq. They’ve gone out to buy some lighter fluid…
I’m sure a day in the garden never used to be this hard work.
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