The Teaching Mum

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


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A Half Decent Proposal?

Let me take you back.

Back to our holiday, in fact.  We spent a lovely ten days in Fuerteventura with only one major blow out argument that left us not speaking to each other for a few hours, which proved difficult to sustain because, despite our stubbornness, we had two little ones who needed looking after.  Once we returned home, I brought up that fact that during those ten days, barely a cross word was said, which in itself was a small miracle.

“We’ve been together ten years next year,” I said. “Don’t you think it’s about time we got married?

“Yes,” he said, with his usual ‘I’m not being serious’ glint in his eye.

And that was all I needed.  I ran with it. In fact, I ran straight to our local Reverend with it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Woah! Woah! Woah!  Calm down!  He agreed to get married and the next day you found yourself seated on the sofa in the Reverend’s house?

Well…yes, but no, but actually, yes, but it’s not like what you’re thinking. Honest.  We had also recently been talking about having our son christened, so when I called the Reverend about a christening, I just thought I could kill two birds with one stone.

So, there I was.  Sitting on my own with the Reverend asking about christenings and wedding dates.

“My partner couldn’t come,” I explained. “He’s looking after our children.”

I could see what he was thinking: not only is this lady a mad woman booking a wedding on her own, but she’s living in sin as well.

He wasn’t thinking that at all. In fact, he simply opened his diary, grabbed his pencil and asked me what date I wanted from January 2017.

“Erm, I can’t book anything now,” I needed to stall.  “I can’t book anything without my partner being here because he would kill me we haven’t discussed it at length ourselves yet.”

The smile left his mouth as he asked me if I was the local cat lady he had heard about who had been seen wondering around local churches booking phantom weddings…Actually, he explained me to me that the church only held approximately twelve weddings a year so I should be able to get what date I wanted.

That was not what I expected to hear.

It was suddenly becoming real; I was finally going to be a bride.  For almost ten years, I have felt that my relationship has not been as strong, solid and genuine as my friends’ relationships because we have never said ‘I do.’  I thanked the Reverend and told him that I would call him again in a few days to book something.

I never did call.  And I still haven’t.

When I returned home, I explained what had happened to Teaching Dad.  He wasn’t mad at me.  However, he told me that if this were to happen, then he wanted to buy me an engagement ring first.  A lovely gesture that I saw as a huge ‘STOP’ sign because within the week, we returned to teaching, to dropping our children off at various places on a morning, to ballet classes, to swimming lessons, to food shopping, to cleaning, to marking and to real life really – a world away from being a bride walking down an aisle.

Then October half term hit and it was on…again.

“Let’s go into Leeds and go shopping for engagement rings,” I suggested on that first weekend of the half term.

“No,” he plainly refused.

Not one to be defeated, I called up the one person I know who would not turn down a shopping trip.

“Muuuuum!  Will you come into Leeds with me?”

Seconds later, I smelt the distinctive smell of burnt rubber and then the door bell rung and there she was.  So, off I went into Leeds with my mum to look for engagement rings.  How romantic.  First stop was the new John Lewis where we looked at some rings and because I was squirming in my own awkwardness and because it was clear from my Weetabix stained outfit that I couldn’t really afford one of these rings, my mum asked the assistant if she could try on a few.  As the assistant was taking aim with the ring towards my mum’s finger, she grabbed my hand and thrust it towards the woman.  And there it was: an engagement ring on my finger.  It was lovely.

But, it looked weird.

It felt weird.

I felt that we were going all about this the wrong way.  We left the shop and Mummy Dearest and I wandered off to another – a beautiful little jewellers called Argent. When we opened the door, a flicker of recognition flashed in the owners’ eyes.

“Ah, hello again,” she greeted my mum by her actual name!  “How can I help you today?”

My mum explained that this time, for once, she was not the one buying the jewellery despite trying on three rings, a pair of earrings and plumping for buying my daughter a £25 necklace for her birthday.  As this was going on, I was quietly trying on rings by the counter and feeling a little lost.

Next stop was Goldsmiths.  Now, this was not my first choice.  I wanted bespoke.  I wanted it to be unique.  I wanted extraordinary. (Cough splutter ahem BRAT!) Therefore, reluctantly, I walked in.  The woman behind the counter looked confused by our browsing of the engagement rings.

“Can I help?” she asked, not knowing which one of us to address.

“We are looking for engagement rings,” my mum said.

“What style have you both been discussing?”

“I’m her mum, not her partner!” my mum explained.

The assistant eyed me closely.  “Does your partner know, or is this a hint?” she asked.  “Or are you some crazy cat lady who shouldn’t be allowed within three feet of an engagement ring” (Okay, so maybe she didn’t say the last bit, but she did ask me if my other half was aware of the choosing of one’s own ring.)

“Of course he knows!” I said incredulous, while at the same time hiding my cat key ring behind my back…

But, within minutes, I had found it. Well, I had found two actually and we ordered them both in the sizes closest to my ring size (there were only a few left in the country – see I told you I wanted unique.)

If you’re thinking that my other hand looks chubby and small, that’s because it’s not mine!


Next mission: Get Teaching Dad into Leeds.

A few weeks passed and it was a cold, dark Thursday evening.  I had taught five back to back lessons followed by a Year 11 revision booster.  The thought of me getting my sparkling ring was the only brightness in an otherwise dull day.  The grandparents were looking after the children and Teaching Dad and I had colluded to meet outside Zara in Leeds City Centre.

Standing in the warmth of the entrance of the shop, I glanced around for my knight in a shining blue PE kit.  Five minutes passed and I couldn’t see him. Suddenly, there he was, in his shorts, walking towards me.

“Where have you been?” he asked, frustrated.

“Standing underneath this massive ‘Zara’ sign,” I said.

“Zara’s over there,” he pointed towards a smaller shop across the road.

“That’s Zara Home!” I said.  “That’s not the proper Zara.”

“It says Zara on it!”

Like I said earlier: only one argument on holiday was a small miracle.

Once we were finally in Goldsmiths, I tried on the two rings I liked.  I ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ while Teaching Dad played ‘Angry Birds Pop’ on his phone and after fifteen minutes or so (because I was reminded every minute that a minute had gone by) my decision was made. Teaching Dad paid for the ring, but it still wasn’t in my possession as it had to be resized.

“Let’s go to to ‘Five Guys’ to celebrate,” he suggested.

Twenty five pounds and two burgers later, we swore never to go to Five Guys again.  See, it’s mutual decisions like this that make me know that we will be together forever.

Last Saturday, the 19th November, three months after the initial ‘let’s get married’, we finally drove into Leeds to collect my ring.  In my mind, all four of us would leisurely stroll around Leeds, call into the shop to collect the ring and then go for lunch with champagne afterwards.  In reality, Teaching Dad jumped out of the car and I drove around the Leeds City Centre Loop with the kids in the back of the car so that we wouldn’t have to pay for parking.  After driving past the bus station three times, I finally saw Teaching Dad standing outside Queen’s Court on Lower Briggate.  I pulled the car up, jumped out, he shoved a yellow Goldsmiths’ bag in my hands, he took the driver’s seat and off we drove to The Roundhay Fox pub.

“Let’s have a look,” he said as we parked up.

I handed him the box.

“Put it on then,” he said.

I refused.

“You’re putting on my my finger,” I explained.

Rolling his eyes, he put out his hand and lifted out the most beautiful, sparkling ring.

“Will you marry me…chubbs?”

He placed the ring on my finger to where it got stuck at the knuckle; I finished the job myself.

We then went for lunch, had a Peroni (which I actually like a million times more than champagne) and then took the children to a very wet Tropical World.

Ooh! Posh ham and eggs!


It may have not been the most romantic proposal in the world, but it was mine.

And, I had waited nine years for it.

Me and my three favourite things.


 


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Getting Back on my Feet Again.

13th November

Looking at the title, you would be right to wonder if I had been having a tough time if it recently.

But, no.

Please take the title in its most literal form as I am currently laid on my bedroom floor flat on my back and unable to move.  Literally unable to move.  I have just tried to put a hot water bottle under my back and failed, and there is even a cup of Yorkshire Tea sitting next to me going cold because I can’t sit up to drink it.  Anyone who knows Yorkshire, knows that it is a sacrilegious act to allow a cuppa to go cold.

A cup of tea that’s beyond my reach and, embarrassingly, Barbie’s Dream Car, an odd sock and a pair of discarded Minnie Mouse flip flops under my bed.

Yes, you really have just looked at a picture of what’s under my bed as that is my current view and this is being typed up on my app.  Modern technology.  Great huh? I can type a blog post from the floor, but nothing in this house can aid me in getting me on my feet.

Yep. You guessed it.

My back has gone.  I don’t know where it’s gone, but it has bloody buggered off and left me unable to bend, unable to walk, unable to clean and unable to parent.  Which, today, proved to be a right pain in the back-side (see what I did there?) as Teaching Dad decided to go on a twelve hour bike ride.

Funnily enough, he is back now and it was he who suggested that I lay on the bedroom floor; he assured me that I needed to lay on something hard (eyup) in order to ease the pain.  Then he brought me up the cuppa I can’t reach and ran back downstairs to watch his shows on the TV.  I think I heard him cheer, but I could be mistaken, after all, the TV is on pretty loud at the moment.

Anyhow, Sunday started the same as any other Sunday.  I awoke at 6am and darkness still shrouded the bedroom. My tired eyes hung heavy, but before my lids could close and carry me back to the wonderful land of sleep, my son whispered those special words into my ear:

“Fruit Shoot, Mummy,”

I pretended to be asleep.

“Morning Mummy.  Fruit Shoot…peeease.”

Reluctantly, I complied and reached over onto the floor where I had placed a Fruit Shoot the night before, just in case, you know, he woke asked for one. (It’s a regular occurrence.)  Please don’t judge.  Well, you can, but please do it silently, I am in pain here.

As miracles would have it, I managed to get my boy to sleep again and we snoozed until 7.40am, which was the zenith of my Sunday because from then on in, the day declined in my many failed attempts to recline.

A family afternoon bowling on Saturday may have been the culprit. I won, but at what price?!


I genuinely do not know what I have done.  I was cleaning the bathroom at 9am (I know – who does that?) and my back hurt a little. I text Teaching Dad, who was in the garage lovingly caressing cleaning his bike before his day out, to ask if we had any painkillers.  He came back into the house with his superhero stance and a tube of ibuprofen gel and while I was bent over the kitchen sink washing the breakfast pots, he slapped it onto my lower back.  In a flash, he was gone and speeding down the road with his friend.  I turned from the sink and stared directly into the eyes of my five year old.

First mistake right there.  I made eye contact.

“Can I have some crisps please, Mummy?”

It was 9.30am.

I buckled.  Whether it was from the pain or the death stare, I will never know.

“Mini-chedders or Chipsticks?” I asked.

Sensing my defeat, my boy chirped up.

“Fruit Shoot,” he said.

Are they laughing because I can’t climb the stairs?


Just then, my phone buzzed and The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived called.  It was Granddad telling me that he would come down and collect the kids for a couple of hours.

Hallelujah.

Every week I take this time to clean my house and mark a set of books.  Today, I managed to throw some towels in the washing machine and pull/kick my ironing basket down the stairs (because I couldn’t lift it) before admitting defeat and confining myself to the sofa with nothing but 32 books to keep me company.

I marked six.

I needed a cup of tea, so struggled back into the kitchen.

A further three books were filled with red pen.

Tea only tastes good with chocolate dunked in it therefore I limped back to the kitchen.

It wouldn’t harm if I put on Grey’s Anatomy whilst I marked these books, would it?

And so, two hours passed and half a set of books were marked before the apples of my eye returned to me.

“Can Mummy just make you a sandwich for lunch because she’s in a bit of pain?” I asked my daughter in third person. (Why do we do that?)

“No.” That was her short answer.

Her elongated response was: “I want chicken dippers, chips, peas, corn and trees.”

“I love you, but I ain’t cutting down a tree for your dinner.”

Turns out she meant broccoli. (She could have pointed that out before I got the axe from the garage, but anyway…)

I managed to make chicken dippers a la peas, chips and corn, but it was not without its dramas.  Because bending down is no longer I movement I can do swiftly, opening and closing the oven door took a lot longer than normal.

My girl, checking if I was okay, wandered into the kitchen.

“DON’T COME NEAR THE OVEN!” I cried.

“I am hungry,”

Perhaps it was the food she was checking on.  Anyway, once the beige food was safely on the plates and served up, the house began to calm down again.  My girl chewed happily on her food whilst my boy ate a chip, chewed and spat out a chicken dipper and then asked for a Fruit Shoot.

After lunch, I returned to my marking.

“Can I help?” my daughter asked in an angelic tone.

“No, these are Mummy’s pupils’ books.  You can’t write in these.”

She ignored the fact that I, once again, referred to myself in third person, which means I mean business, and grabbed a book, a felt tip pen and wandered off towards the sofa, which, for me, might as well have been a million miles away.  By the time I had made it over to where she was sitting, she had written random letters in the back of the book in red felt tip. (She had also suggested that he use a variety of sentences in his writing, but that’s not the point), so I wrote a little apology in the exercise book, which may go un-read with the rest of my red pen, and once again explained the fact that Mummy is in pain today and Mummy needs help.

I suggested we watch a film.

I think I cried a little every time I turned that toy basket back the right way and filled it with discarded toys.


No sooner did I press play on ‘Frozen’ (again) and the toy basket was pulled over for at least the thirty-ninth time that day and the word ‘chocolate’ started being bandied around. Reluctantly, I agreed to a snack and slowly peeled myself up from the sofa and hobbled into the kitchen.  Well, I must have been a long time, because by the time I had made it back with chocolate biscuits, Arendelle had thawed and summer was back.

If only my day would pass as quickly.

Dinner time eventually arrived and yet Teaching Dad didn’t.  I cobbled together ham and crisp sandwiches because the ham added the splash of colour that lunch lacked and then bath time was upon us.

Once the children were washed, clean, dry and in their pajamas, the welcoming noise of a door opening sounded downstairs and my saviour was home. Dashing upstairs to see his darlings, Teaching Dad grabbed and cuddled his children, who, I admit, had not had the greatest of afternoons.  It was then that he finally glanced at me in pain on my bed.

“That bad?” he asked.

I nodded, grimacing.

“Well, bed is the best place for you then.  You putting the kids to bed?

I nodded and at his assumption, I grimaced.

“After that, I suggest you lay on the hard floor.”

And that brings us full circle.  Here I am stuck on the floor unable to stand up, turn over or even put a hot water bottle under my butt.  So what does anyone with a phone and an ailment do?  Dr Google, that’s what.  Do you know what the best thing to is when you have a bad back?

Yep, keep moving.

Oh, the irony.

My view from the floor – so near and yet so beyond my reach right now!


 

 

 

 


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New Season, New Wardrobe…New Me? My Autumnal Wishlist.

Before I had children, my Mum and I would often venture into Leeds every Sunday.  We would park near The West Yorkshire Playhouse (back when parking there was free) and with a hop, skip and a jump past the bus station and deserted market, we would soon be walking through The Victoria Quarter salivating at the clothes we couldn’t afford in Harvey Nichols.  I’ll admit that I miss those Sundays.  Nowadays, my Sundays consist of me wearing jogging bottoms all day, cleaning the house, marking books and having a five year old threaten to (and I quote) ‘kick me in the face’ if I kiss her one more time and a one year old literally using my hair as a rope.

I wouldn’t have it any other way though…

Recently, my Mum and I (accompanied by my five year old) drove into Leeds one Sunday in order to acquaint ourselves with the new John Lewis and Victoria Gate shopping centre and it is fantastic.  However, as we were walking around familiar shopping areas such as Briggate and Commercial Street, the familiarity of my home city was gone and I felt that I just didn’t belong there anymore.  Since having children, my beloved city has changed almost beyond my recognition (in a good way – well, apart from the £25 burger I had at Five Towns…) and it is filled with achingly fashionable men and beautiful young girls with the most perfect of eyebrows (who all – I might add – look the same) and I longed to be home where no one could pass judgement against my jogging bottoms and messy hair.

Also, from home, I can easily plan my transformation from behind the safety net of my computer.  Very rarely do I spend money on myself and very rarely do I have money to spend, but I have found a website that directs you to where all of your favourite brands are in the sale.  Therefore, if I am to venture out this autumn (and with Black Friday waiting around the corner), this is what I want to be seen wearing:

The Uggs

My love affair with Uggs has lasted more than a decade now.  From my first pair of the original tan fur lined Uggs to my current leather biker ones, these boots have been a staple of my winter wardrobe.  My current Ugg boots are about to enter their fifth season and despite hating to admit it, they are starting to look a bit tatty and – dare I say it – dated. Therefore, I would love to own a pair of these Lana Biker Knee Boots because it has been a few years since I had a pair of knee high boots and perhaps even longer since I had a pair of boots I could wear through the day with a heel.  Being five foot eight, I get a little paranoid tottering around in heels during the day, but the heel on these boots is not sky high and I love that it’s chunky which, I imagine, means that they are extremely comfortable and everyone seeks comfort from their Ugg boots.

The Jeans

Those who know me, know I am a jeans and t-shirt girl – so much so that an ex-boyfriend once asked me why I dressed like a fourteen year old boy when I was twenty five.  At thirty five he would still disapprove because jeans (albeit skinny now and not baggy like ten years ago) continue to be a staple in my wardrobe alongside a pair of Adidas Originals or a pair of Converse.  Therefore, the next item on my wishlist would be these Reflector Jeans from Barbour, which are a bargain at £40.  I have to admit that when it comes to looking at Barbour products, I often automatically navigate to their coats, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw these very flattering jeans.  I would team these up with my current Stan Smiths, or, if I wanted to my day look to be more dressy, I would try them with the Lana Biker boots.

barbour

Reflector Jeans from Barbour

 The Coat

With the cold air really coming in this week, my tatty old grey cardigan just won’t cut it anymore.  In my denial to admit that summer is over, I have been refusing to wear coats and choosing only cardigans or my three year old Jack Wills body warmer.  I have never really been into long flowing colourful coats; I much prefer darker shades and shorter jackets.  I spotted this coat whilst browsing for Converse trainers and it really caught my eye.  I think it looks really comfortable and warm (and I hate being cold) and would look great with a pair of jeans and trainers.  If it made me look like the model in the photograph, well, that would just be an added bonus.

converse-coat

Converse – more than just a trainer company, you know!

The splash of colour

Okay, to almost complete my new autumn casual outfit, I guess I had better add some colour.  With the dark nights coming in early now, I might be guilty of buying too many dark clothes and my new fashion overhaul would go unnoticed.  I saw this jumper in the Ted Baker section of Love the Sales and it immediately caught my eye.  I have been a fan of Ted Baker for years, but tend to only buy their evening wear because it can be a tad expensive for ‘every day’ wear.  However, I thought that this bright pink jumper was a real bargain at almost half of its original price.  Teamed with the biker boots, the jeans and the black Converse jacket, this jumper would be the splash of colour the outfit needs to stand out in a crowd.

pink-ted-baker

Bright enough for you?

The bag

Finally, would any outfit be complete without the show stopping bag?  I find the Harper Satchel extremely classy and I can’t imagine it ever going out of fashion.  It is also quite sizable which means that it could possibly fit in it a couple of packets of baby wipes because no matter where you are and no matter what you’re wearing, if you’re a mum, you will probably find yourself in a situation where you need a baby wipe or five.

michael-kors

The Harper Satchel

The Christmas Do

This is the final one, I promise.  This year, I am attending the ‘Work Christmas Do’ which is a rarity for me because late night drinking and early morning parenting is not a good mix. However, I have signed up, paid for my turkey and now I must find a show stopping outfit. Four years ago, I bought a short, black Ted Baker dress for a winter wedding and it is an outfit I still wear today – I love it.  If it’s not broken, why fix it?  With this in mind, I have gone for Ted Baker again and chosen this Moven Summer Dress in black.  Even though it is called a summer dress, I think it is suitable for winter because of its staple colour: black.  I love it because it is short, (but not too short) and because it has sleeves.  I hate to see bare arms in the winter.  I also hate to see white legs in the winter, so I would wear this with black tights and a pair of killer heels because it’s okay to wear killer heels at the ‘Christmas Do’ even if you’re five foot eight and a thirty-five year old mum of two, right?

ted-baker-dress

Moven Summer Dress

 All the above were sourced from Love The Sales