The Gallery: Simple Pleasures

When I saw this week’s theme for the Gallery was ‘Simple Pleasures’ I started thinking about photos I could use. My children love spending our money, their birthday lists are getting longer by the day, but their happiest smiles don’t come with a  receipt, so I decided to add a few photos this week. These photos all brought smiles a result of something which cost nothing:

Building a sandcastle…

Burying Daddy in the sand…

Travelling like a giraffe…

Letting everyone else do the hard work…

Bundling Mummy on a big hill…

Playing at the park…

Nothing beats the sound of a child laughing, and I don’t think it can fail to make you feel more happy when you hear it, but the ultimate stereotype when it comes to children, big presents, and simple pleasures must be this…

Silent Sunday: How?!

 

Baking with Boys…

I decided that while my daughter was out on her first ever cinema trip yesterday, with her Daddy, I’d do some baking with my boy. This is something I did loads with my daughter when she was his age, but haven’t been able to do as much with Harry, because of course, big sisters always need to be the ones in control. This is what happened last time I tried, when my daughter was supposedly ‘watching her favourite programme in the whole wide world – Cinderella!

He was keen enough for me to be confident he’d really enjoy some baking, so I thought with the 3 year old out at the cinema, it was the perfect time to give it a go…

Unfortunately due to a ‘flour shower’ I wasn’t able to take any pics of the first half of operations, but suffice to say, mixing is something he enjoyed, although he does need to work on keeping it in the bowl! However, we got there eventually, and then moved on to stage 2 – the rolling!

Then he chose the most masculine of the cutters, the hearts and stars, before getting distracted. Everyone knows that essential to every baking experience comes…

emptying a pack of wipes of course! 15 minutes later, and we have a very proud boy, not being able to wait to pose for the photo before that all important taste test!

We then had a few tears as he didn’t realise when I put the entire plate down on his high chair tray that this was for photographic purposes only, and not his portion of food for immediate consumption!

So this was my first experience of cooking with boys. It definitely lacked that finesse we have when my daughter bakes, and her perfectionist streak was less evident too, replaced instead with a sense of gusto, mixed with an air of ‘bull in a china shop.’ I said mix, boy did he mix! I said roll, the dough and the table became as one. I said we had to wait until they were cooked, he acted as if I’d said he would never be allowed to eat again! So in summary, it was energetic and enthusiastic, but he didn’t really care what it looked like, as long as he got to eat it. Now I see where that saying comes from – the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

You Know it’s Half Term When…

As a teacher, half term is probably far more exciting to me than it is to most adults. Rather than being that annoying week when all the routines stop, the shops become more crowded and a day out costs twice as much, for me it’s the week when everything in the world will be achieved that I’ve been putting off during term time. That light bulb that needs changing – will get done in half term. The gorgeous recipes I’m going to cook – will get done in half term. That week when I go to the gym at least five times – will get done in half term. You get the idea! However it’s now Tuesday, and the reality that I have in fact got a week off work has sunk in. You know it’s half term when:

  • You wake up in the morning and your first thought isn’t how many get-ups there are until half term.
  • Porridge and Weetabix do not defeat you every day in the fight for who wins the ‘unnecessary superglue on a dining table championship’.
  • You realise that the ‘Something Special’ you’re watching during afternoon snacks is spookily similar to the one you saw during morning snacks.
  • All those ‘you don’t have to spend money to have fun’ philosophies go out of the window.
  • You moan that the week is going too quickly even before the end of the first weekend.
  • The children have a day at nursery leaving Mummy and Daddy to have a day to themselves, only to spend it separately, me on cleaning duty (ok, with a little bit of Twitter thrown in!), and Hubby shouting expletives at the TV whilst ‘saving the world’ on his XBox.
  • You have to spend half the time waiting in for some repair man or other to come round and fix things during their allotted 8am – 10pm time slot – we’ve had 2 of those his week already!
  • All those good intentions are written out neatly on a lovely list. And then tidied away in the mid term cleaning blitz and forgotten about.
  • The marking and report writing that you promised yourself you would do at the beginning of the week so you could relax for the rest of the holiday is still there on Sunday night, while you’re still relaxing.
  • You realise that your default setting is ‘lazy.’

I absolutely love being off. As my husband is a teacher as well, it means that we never go more than 8 weeks without having a whole week of family time so we’re really lucky in that respect. We get time to ourselves as well as time together because nursery and pre school still operate in the holidays, but this holiday has made me realise that despite the fact we’re always on the go, the thought of just sitting back and doing nothing sounds wonderful. I’ve put off so many things with the intention of getting them done in half term, but I just know that any opportunity I get when I could actually achieve these things just get ignored in favour of doing nothing! I’m not sure whether this is a good thing because everyone needs time to relax, or whether this is just another reason why fate does not enable me to be a stay at home mum!

Either way, I’ve got another five days left and I’m determined to relax and enjoy them. Who knows, maybe that light bulb will get changed, but if it doesn’t there’s four more that work fine!

The Gallery: I wish I knew what you were thinking…

When I saw that this week’s Gallery theme was expressions, there was only one photo that came to my mind, and I’ve no idea why. It doesn’t have any particular sentimentality attached to it, it’s old – this little baby starts school in September, and the vest that my daughter is wearing was one of those ‘you’ve managed to secrete so many bodily fluids today from every available orifice that this is the only one we have left’ tops.

I just wish I knew what was going on in her little head, probably not much, but this photo always makes me smile!

Teacher vs. Parent? They’re not so different!

Last night I worked late. The reason I worked late was because I had organised a concert so that about 30 students from my school could perform a piece of music to an audience, made up primarily of their nearest and dearest, with a few supportive teachers thrown into the mix as well. These students had all chosen to study music as one of their options, so none of the students were hand picked. It wasn’t a display of the most talented musicians, just, I guess it’s fair to say the most enthusiastic ones, as they had chosen the subject.

While the majority of students who choose music as an option, do so because they have a particular flair in that area, it’s not the case with all. Some will choose it because it is the only subject they don’t hate, some will choose it because of the teacher, or because they think it will involve less writing or avoid essays. If you’ve been through the options process with your own children, I’m sure you’d be able to give me a whole host of other reasons why a child might choose a particular subject, and if you haven’t, just you wait!

The reason for my writing this post comes down to a dilemma I had a few weeks back. I booked the concert into our school calendar nearly a year ago, pretty much as soon as I returned from maternity leave, but as we drew closer to the date, it occurred to me that the standard of some of the pieces was a lot lower than I would have expected. Having been away from the school for a year, I had perhaps over anticipated the standards at which some of the students would be working, and I was faced with a dilemma. Most of the students in my classes had not received instrumental lessons, were not accustomed to the concept of practicing outside of their school music lessons, and had never in their lives performed in front of an audience, something they were petrified of doing.

So I had to decide what would be best for the students. Most of these students were working very hard during their lessons, and were able to see progress, and I could see and respect this, but I was worried as to whether an audience of strangers, and more experienced peers would recognise the individual achievements by students under these circumstances. So I did what I thought was the best thing to do. I decided to downscale the concert, and instead of having it in the school hall in front of parents, to have it in my large music classroom, just in front of each other. I felt this would make for a far less daunting experience for those students who were complete beginners. I was confident as I began to explain this to one of my classes, that I would see a relieved expression pass across each of their faces.

Instead, the expression that I saw pass each and all of their faces was a crestfallen one. Despite being absolutely petrifed, the fact that they had been given a challenge, even though a lot of them felt it was an impossible one, gave them a sense of purpose in their lessons, unbeknown to me, they had all been talking about it at home, and in a sense, looking forward to it with a sense of enthusiasm that I had never seen.

Looking back, I think perhaps I was being a bit too preoccupied with the standard of what was to be shown with my own sense of professional pride at the  forefront, rather than that of the students. What would people think of me if the standard of the music wasn’t at a recognised level? However, it’s not about me, so I never finished that conversation. I blagged something about still having baby brain, and apologising that I’d mixed them up with a different class, and decided no matter what, the show must go on!

Although I was still a bit worried in the back of my mind as to how some of the more experienced students and audience would react to the less experienced ones, I shouldn’t have been. Those students were an inspiration yesterday. The maternal part of me was worried that they may feel or look silly, but as another teacher who was watching the show pointed out, every single student who performed was glowing with pride at what they had done, for some, standing up on the stage in front of 100+ people, let alone performing was the bravest thing they had ever done at school, and from someone who wouldn’t even read out loud during English at school for fear of being laughed at I can totally empathise with that.

I think all too often we do underestimate what our children are capable of, and also what we want them to be capable of. These students thought I had set them an impossible goal, but I persisted and believed in them (ok so I wavered half way through a little bit, but they don’t know that!), and when you achieve ‘the impossible’ it really is a magical moment, and for a lot of them, it will be a moment from school that they will remember – ‘the time I got up on stage and sang in front of 100 people.’ And it has to be said, the buzz from the parents was unbelievable too, you’d think each and every one of them had just witnessed their offspring winning the X Factor!

However, as a parent, did I do the right thing? I made those students feel scared, nervous, and completely out of their depth. How would you feel if I’d made your child feel like that? Obviously I did it with the best of intentions, because I believed in them, and ultimately I made them feel proud, and more confident, but should I have just gone with my change of plan idea and saved them this or is that just wrapping them up in unnecessary cotton wool? I’d never have thought like this before I had children, but all of the students I teach are somebody else’s children!

And you’ll be pleased to know that I also got to see a sense of relief cross all of their faces too, the second they got to the end of their pieces and realised they were still alive! They may not be my children, but I definitely felt proud of them last night in a way I hope I will get to feel about my own children in 10 years time!

Truth or Lies? You Decide…

The lovely Cherry-mum of 6 has sent me this amazing award, apparently I have to list 5 things about me, however, only one of them can be true!

The Memetastic tag was created by Jillsmo, and here are the rules:

  1. You must proudly display the absolutely disgusting graphic that I have created for these purposes (put it in your post, you don’t have to put it in your sidebar, I think that would seriously be asking too much). It’s so bad that not only did I use COMIC SANS, but there’s even a little jumping, celebrating kitten down there at the bottom. It’s horrifying! But its presence in your award celebration is crucial to the memetastic process we’re creating here. If you need a higher resolution version… I totally have one!!
  2. You must list 5 things about yourself, and 4 of them must be bold-faced lies. Just make something up, we’ll never know; one of them has to be true, though. Of course, nobody will ever know the difference, so we’re just on the honor system here.
  3. You must pass this award on to 5 bloggers that you either like or don’t like or don’t really have much of an opinion about. I don’t care who you pick, and nobody needs to know why”

Ok?

#1 I have been engaged four times.

#2 I was once a winning contestant on ‘Supermarket Sweep’ and broke the record for the highest sweep total ever.

#3 I have flown a plane.

#4 At one point when I was at school, I was the only girl in a class of 24 boys.

#5 I have been to all seven continents in the world.

Now for the tagging. Given that I can tag anyone, and I’ve never taken part in a meme before (in fact I had to look up what it was first!), I’m tagging the first five people (but please don’t let it put you off commenting again, I promise I’ll use different criteria next time!) who weren’t tagged in the same meme as me that commented on my Gallery post yesterday, who are all lovely…

Overthehillmum @sarh

(mostly) yummy mummy @MostlyYummy

mutteringsofafool @tipster28

mummymishaps @JennyPaulin

wherethebrassbandsplay @tiddlyompompom

I can’t believe how difficult I found it to make up lies, I bet you’ll see straight through them and get it right straight away! Happy guessing!

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