Thursday, 31 May 2012

31 Things: Day 15

Day 15 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.    
Day 15| 09.15am:
Today is Thursday.
I'm on the 2nd floor of Marks & Spencer in XX and am collecting six cushions from the ordering desk.
I have a small bag from Primark, having already bought 2 sets of short pajamas for The Boy Child and a carrier bag from Waitrose (I'm reusing it), having bought bread rolls and raspberries in the Food Hall.
Behind me is our right-hand neighbour.  She of the Leylandii tree.  She does not have any idea that I am her neighbour, even though we have spoken several times about that Leylandii and other dangerous trees she has in her garden.  She is either very forgetful when it comes to recognising the neighbours or very rude.
She dispenses with any of the social niceties and asks me why there isn't anyone serving.  There is, they're just not serving us.  We are number 2 and 3 in the queue.  Her rudeness annoys me. 
I am called to the counter and the sales assistant fetches my order.  Six cushions are awkward and bulky, but we manage to get them into two large bags.  I thank the sales assistant, nod at my neighbour and leave.
I attempt to photograph my shopping bags and my feet.  The camera battery is flat.
I cannot carry anything else.
It is time to head home.      

Photo a Day: 31st May

~ Hooray for half-term visitors ~
{When mum arrived, she and I were wearing the same t-shirt}

Month in Numbers ~ May

Month in Numbers is the brain child of Julie and you'll always find a warm welcome over at her place.  Not to mention entertaining posts about a varied list of topics.  Go on over, stop by and say hello, then come back here.
I'm sure time is speeding up, or perhaps it's just because I'm getting older ...
3,459: the distance travelled, one way, to meet my cousins
44: the age I reached on the 29th 
1: the number of weddings we attended
30: the amount spent in pounds sterling to access my great uncle's Royal Naval records
49: the amount spent in pounds sterling to renew The Boy Child's passport
4: the number of times I drove the car ~ once a week to the supermarket

31 Things: Day 14

Day 14 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.     
Day 14| View:
I have mixed views about the house I live in, even after seven years.  It's not my home.  I didn't choose it in consultation with The Brainy One.  It's his home and where I live.  You might think I'm being silly and you're probably right, but that's how I feel.
However, there is one place in the house that I love.
There are two leather sofas in our living room.  One three seater, the other two.  One sits parallel to the wall and in front of the radiator.  The other sits across the room, facing the French windows and garden.  Every so often I change them around.
My favourite spot is on the sofa in front of the radiator, on the end nearest to the French windows.  I like to sit there in the early evening, particularly during the summer months.
The French doors are open and through them I can see out in to the garden. There's the garden furniture, umbrella open and providing shade, the table may be laid for supper.  If I'm lucky, I may see squirrels running back and forth along the garden wall we share with our neighbours.  We call that wall the M4 (a motorway from London to South Wales).  I can see the tits and sparrows safely eating inside the squirrel proof bird feeder on the side of the shed (£25 a number of years ago and worth every penny).  There may still be washing on the line.  I can see The Boy Child coming in and out with an armful of toys.  I can see the shed, currently decorated for the Jubilee.
Thanks to our artificial lawn, the grass is always green.  It's been down four years and has proved to be dog proof and unaffected, obviously, by next door's water grabbing Leylandii.  Their Virginia Creeper and ivy have begun to grow over our side of the wall and hangs down.  Later in the year the Virginia Creeper will turn a glorious shade of red.    

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

31 Things: Day 13

Day 13 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.    
Day 13| Chores:
The bulk of household chores fall to me, as I'm not currently working outside the home.
I'm lucky in that when I married The Brainy One I inherited a weekly cleaning lady.  She may have changed shape over the last seven years, but every Friday morning still sees the arrival of two Ukrainian ladies who clean through the house in two hours. 
Running the Dyson around, cleaning up in the bathrooms & downstairs toilet and sweeping the kitchen floor are done as and when required.  With a 5-year-old and a dog in the house, I keep on top of things between the weekly visits from the cleaning ladies.
I make the beds in the morning, usually before we leave the house on the school run.  The Brainy One's idea of a made bed does not match mine and it's not uncommon for me to remake a 'made' bed.
I change the beds on Thursday, with the idea being that the bedding is washed and ironed before the weekend.
Laundry is done several times a week and I try to keep on top of the ironing, preferring a little and often to a marathon session. 
I'm extremely tidy and like things to be in their proper place.  The Boy Child knows that at the end of the day his toys have to go back to the playroom. My scrap booking supplies stay in my office.  The Brainy One has been known to say that he can never find anything but in reality he also likes a tidy and clutter free home.
The Boy Child already has two chores of his own ~ putting his toys away and making sure his dirty clothes go in to the laundry basket.  I'm thinking of adding bed making to his list.
My parents were tidy, Dad particularly so.  Mum still declutters on a regular basis.  All those years in the RAF also helped to install a high level of tidiness in to me.
Since we've been married, all rooms in the house, apart from the living room, have been redecorated.  The lounge is on the list for this summer.
         

Photo a Day: 30th May


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Photo a Day: 29th May

~ 44 today ~

31 Things: Day 12

Day 12 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.   
Day 12| Watch:
I watch the world through my camera lens.  I carry my camera everywhere and am always looking for the Kodak Moment in our day-to-day lives.
I watch people.  When I am out and about, I people watch ~ what they are doing, what they are wearing, what they are saying.  I try to be observant, to smile and say hello.  London can be a very un-smiley city.
I watch The Boy Child go about his daily life.  I watch for signs of hand flapping, for jumping up and down, for the keening sounds he can make. None of these actions appear to bother him, but I am watchful for the reactions of others.
I watch the staff at The Boy Child's school.  I wait, on edge, to see if they are going to report negative or difficult behaviour.  
I watch other parents at drop off and pick up times, waiting to see if they will accost me about The Boy Child's interaction with their child.
I watch very little television.  I try to watch the early evening news on a regular basis and I like to watch decent drama.  I am currently watching Lewis, The Killing, and The Good Wife.   
I watch box-sets of favourite programs ~ ER, West Wing and The Sopranos.


Monday, 28 May 2012

31 Things: Day 11

Day 11 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.  
Day 11| Nourish:
Ten facts about me and my interaction with food, be it buying, cooking or eating it.
1) Even after 7 years of living with The Brainy One I am still rubbish at meal planning.  I get brain freeze at the mere suggestion of "what shall we have for dinner?"
2) I have a varied collection of cookbooks and a pile of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers.
3) I'm best at food shopping if I have a list.  Visiting the supermarket wins hands down over on-line shopping.  It's easier if I can actually see, touch and feel what I am planning to buy.
4) I do most of the cooking, but The Brainy One is far better than me at making Bolognaise, pizza and Toad in the Hole.  I try to work them in to the weekly menu as often as possible. 
5) We eat a lot of foods regularly ~ chicken, rice, cheese & tomato based dishes, couscous, beef (mince or steak), lamb (steak), pasta, home made pizza ~ The Boy Child likes all of these.
6) My favourite food would be Italian ~ stone baked pizzas, giant ravioli stuffed with ricotta & butternut squash, baked mozzarella, panacotta.
7) I come from a family that has always eaten Chinese food, thanks to living in Hong Kong in the early 1970s and way before it was popular in the UK ~ beef chow mein, chicken chow fan, spring rolls, crispy fried wan ton, satay with peanut sauce.
8) I don't eat eggs or predominately egg-based dishes such as quiche and omelette.  They made me sick as a child.
9) My favourite vegetable is the humble sprout.
10) I have never eaten sushi, nor do I fancy the idea of it.

Photo a Day: 28th May

~ Happiness is being walked to school by your cousin ~

Saturday, 26 May 2012

31 Things: Day 10

Day 10 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more. 
Day 10| Evening:
I aim to serve up supper between 5.30 and 6pm.  The Boy Child is more than ready to eat and I try to serve up meals that I know he will be happy with.  I like us to all eat the same.  The Brainy One will join us if he is working from home, otherwise it's just me and TBC, with TBO eating a reheated supper later in the evening.  We always eat at the kitchen table.  The radio provides background news and music.  The television is never on.
TBC knows that, in order to have pudding, he has to eat most of, if not all, his main course.  Pudding is usually in the form of yoghurt or fruit crumble. When he's finished he is expected to remain at the table until TBO and I have finished.  He also has to say thank you and ask to be excused.
While I clear away TBO supervises TBC's reading and spelling homework ~ if he's not home I do it.  The dishwasher is stacked, the dog fed and the dishwasher switched on.  TBO and I try to catch the BBC News.  TBC is allowed a supervised 30 minutes on the iPad watching Thomas and Fireman Sam videos.  After the news TBC has his bedtime milk and we may have a cup of tea.
TBC is then encouraged to tidy away his toys before going upstairs to begin his bedtime routine.  I like this to happen between 7 and 7.15pm, but we often run late.  Once upstairs TBC is expected to get undressed and go in to the en suite bathroom.  He is often distracted from undressing and this leads to lots of nagging on my part.
TBC prefers to shower now, rather than have a bath.  Some nights the shower is merely a quick freshen up.  Other nights involve the whole works, including hair washing.  Teeth are cleaned.  Fingernails and toenails are checked daily and cleaned and/or cut as necessary.  If TBO is home he supervises the drying and pyjamas stage.  For story time TBC likes to either snuggle down in bed or sit on the reader's knee. Then it's time for a make-sure wee and lights out.  This is usually around 8pm.
Once TBC is in bed, I check his school bag for any letters and repack it with his reading book (and spelling book on Fridays).  I prepare his snacks for the next day.  I empty the dishwasher.  I read any emails.  I might play with paper. My pace is slowing down.
I make a pit of tea before 9pm and join TBO on the sofa.  We watch programs like Lewis, The Killing (US version, me), Borgen (brilliant Danish political drama), The Good Wife.  If there is nothing on we want to see we'll watch a few episodes of a box set.  We're currently working our way through ER.
TBO is usually ready for bed by 10.30pm.  We put the dog out for a wee, check everywhere is locked up and everything is switched off and are upstairs by 10.45pm.  I get TBC up for a final wee at 11pm and lights out is usually by 11.10pm.


          

If You Want To Get A Head ...

... get a hat.
 ~ the Legionnaires' look is sure to catch on ~ 
 ~ channelling his inner Australian ~ 
~ wearing her son's hat and hoping for the best ~ 

Photo a Day: 26th May

Cafe in our local park.
An old and somewhat tired looking building.
Scrupulously clean.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Photo a Day: 25th May

Not necessarily a boring task, more of a routine one.
When the weather is good, I like to get the washing out on the line as early as possible and to do multiple loads.
When I was a child, my dad, in the winter months, used to refer to the clothes airer as the lodger.  As in, it was always there, lurking in the corner of the back room.
He also used to call the airer a maiden, as in maiden aunt who never knew when to go home.  Just thought I'd share that with you.

31 Things: Day 9

Day 9 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more. 
Day 9| Purchase:
Money.
I'm a believer that expenditure expands to match your income.
When I first gave up work, I found it horribly difficult to adjust to the idea of not having my own money.  Money that I'd worked for, money that I'd earned. The Brainy One gives me an extremely generous housekeeping allowance, with two stipulations: 1) once the money is in my account, it's mine and 2) how I spend it is up to me, but once it's gone, it's gone.  These last few years I have also had a small salary from the company, which helps to make me feel less guilty about spending money on myself.
Each month I balance the books.  I keep all my receipts where I paid using my debit card and withdrawals of cash from the bank and then reconcile them to my bank statement.  I can also access my account on line, which helps me to keep an eye on spending.
I save £2 coins.
I used to save 5p and 20p coins as well; I broke that habit (of more than 20 years) late last year.
The saving of change stems from my single years, back in the day of always more month left at the end of the money.  Those jars of small change always meant that I wouldn't starve in the week before pay day.  These days, the contents of the £2 coin jar is spent on extras for all of us ~ toys and outings for The Boy Child, scrap booking related items for me, good wine or lunch out for The Brainy One.  The Brainy One tells me there is no need to do this and calls me quirky.  I just smile. 
I have a credit card, which is hardly ever used.  I always have to look up the PIN number if I'm planning on taking it out of the house.  Recently, I tried to make an online purchase and discovered that it was 2 months past its expiry date (which then led to protracted discussion with the provider as to what had happened to the new card; somehow I was made to feel as though it was my fault).  Should it be used, the balance is always paid as soon as the statement arrives.  This didn't always used to be the case.  I've had my share of making monthly payments where the amount hardly covers the interest charges.  A financial education from The Brainy One (finance is his field, after all) helped me see the light and I began married life without any debt.
I do worry about what my financial situation would be if something happened to The Brainy One, especially if The Boy Child was still at a young age. However, The Brainy One assures me that all the arrangements are in place to provide for me and The Boy Child if the worst should happen.  
I try to keep up with banking stories in the news, especially as my bank has just had its rating down graded.  I also try to shop around for the best price when buying large items, and not just go to the department store that claims to be never undersold.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Photo a Day: 24th May

For the last few weeks, on and off, we have been plagued by unwanted visitors in our kitchen ~ flying ants.  No matter what we did, come the next morning, they were back again.  And with a 5-year-old and a pooch in the house, there is only so much spraying of Raid that you can do.
Time to call in the big guns.
Mr Rentokil said cheerily on arrival: "Flying ants?  Really?  It's the wrong season for flying ants".
Pity no one told them that.
Funny how they find the most inaccessible places to set up home.
Thirty minutes and £89 later we are good to go.
One funny thing from this ~ "Mummy, there's another fly!  Quick!  Spray it with electricity!"

31 Things: Day 8

Day 8 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.   
Day 8| Transportation: 
These days, I mostly get around on Shank's Pony ~ on foot.  I can walk to where I want to go fairly easily and I'm not adverse to walking half an hour or more.  The Boy Child's school, the shops, the gym, Zumba classes and the parks are all accessible on foot.
Of course, living in London means that public transport is pretty spot on. There are three Tube stations within a 10 minute walk from the house. There are bus routes aplenty ~ we mostly use E11 (which begins and ends at the end of the road), #65 for going south of the river, #207 & #607 for going to Westfield, E2 for going to the school uniform shop.  Sometimes, The Boy Child and I get on a bus just to see where it goes.
We own a car, a very nice Honda estate, with plenty of room for both The Boy Child and the pooch.  Most days it sits on our drive.  I don't like driving in London and only use it to go to the supermarket.  It's primary use seems to be helping us leave London.
I've been able to drive since February 1987, when I was 18.  I was taught by the RAF and I'm a good driver; The Brainy One says I'm a better driver than he is.  I've owned five cars since then ~ a beige Ford Fiesta Popular in 1988, a brand new light blue Ford Fiesta 1.1LX in 1989, a brand new dark blue Ford Escort 1.3 in 1992, a brand new navy blue Ford Fiesta 1.8D 1995 (I went to give blood and came back having ordered a new car) and a brand new black Ford Ka in 2002.  At a push, I could probably remember all the number plates.  We were a 2 car family when we got married.  I had my Ka and The Brainy One had his pride and joy, a TVR.  The Ka was part-exchanged for the Honda estate in 2006 when we got the puppy and the TVR was sold to a classic car dealer in early 2007 after The Boy Child was born.     

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Photo a Day: 23rd May

The Boy Child went off on a school trip to London Zoo today.  As the weather was hot, sun hats were not optional ~ I couldn't help but think of French Foreign Legionnaires!  Blazers were discarded before leaving school.

31 Things: Day 7

Day 7 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.  
Day 7| Work:
My work life is split in to two unequal parts.  
My prime role is as a stay-at-home-mum.  My secondary role is as a part-time Office Manager for The Brainy One's company.  It occupies just a few hours a week and the hours are flexible.  I have an excellent boss.
An advert in The Lady for my work life might look something like this ...
   HOUSEMANAGER
required for family home in suburban London.
  Duties to include cleaning (with additional outside help 2 hours a week), washing, ironing,
 general housekeeping, child care (inclusive of AM & PM school runs, PTA and general school volunteer), dog walking, menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking and any other duties as required.
Additional opportunity for part-time administration role in family business; hours to fit in with primary role.
Candidates must have experience in a similar situation, 
and
 have very high standards and an extraordinary eye for detail. 
 Should be a non-smoker and love children and animals.
  7 days per week. 
Holidays to be taken in conjunction with family. 
Salary negligible, but rewards include limitless love, hugs and kisses.
Must have excellent references. 


What do you think?  Can't imagine many applications ...
As a child, I wanted to be a nurse, possibly influenced by the BBC series Angels from the 1970s. But as I got older, a distinct lack of understanding of the sciences and a realisation about just how poorly paid nurses were put me off that ambition.  By my mid-teens I knew that I wanted to join the Royal Air Force.  And I did just that, experiencing the most amazing things and meeting the most wonderful people along the way.  I fell in to my second career by chance, thanks to The Lady magazine; in the late 1990s I became a Housemistress in a girl's boarding school.  The hours were long and unsociable, but I loved it.  I gave it up on marriage, as the two were sadly not compatible.
I like how my 'working' day pans out these days.  Being organised helps, as does being happy with your own company.  I love being at home.  So much so, that I may never ever venture back in to the world of working outside the home ever again.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

31 Things: Day 6

Day 6 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.  
Day 6| Me:
1) Age ~ one week away from 44
2) Favourite part of the day ~ lunch time at home when The Boy Child is in school, The Brainy One is with clients, all chores done, the pooch walked and Zumba class attended.  It means that the next few hours are mine ~ to listen to the radio, to eat lunch, to peruse the paper, to play with paper
3) Loving ~ the surprising change in the weather, eating lunch and supper outside, sticking with my Zumba classes and the latest family wedding
4) Longing for ~ a good night's sleep, endless summer days
5) Inspired by ~ Robyn, my New Yorker friend
6) Dreaming of ~ a summer spent outside, our trip to Miami and Cartagena, keeping on top of scrapping projects
7) Needing ~ to be better at menu planning, to reply to quite a few outstanding emails, supportive emails from cyber friends, hugs
8) Navigating ~ the road called Autism and all it entails
9) Struggling with ~ The Boy Child's early starts, the lack of family close by 
10) Knowing ~ that I'm trying, that there is so much to hope for, that I love and am loved in return 

Photo a Day


Monday, 21 May 2012

31 Things: Day 5

Day 5 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.   
Day 5| Conversation:
Given that I live in a city of some 7,000,000 people, you would be forgiven for thinking that I must talk to loads on people on a daily basis.  Not so.  On any given day I speak to approximately a dozen people.
I chat, obviously, with The Brainy One and The Boy Child.  I also text and email The Brainy One if the need arises.  
As The Boy Child doesn't yet have full fluidity in the art of conversation, my interaction with him mainly consists of instructions and statements ~ eat your breakfast, please; The Boy Child, come and put your shoes on; I love you; did you have a good day?  On occasion though, he likes to surprise us with his verbal skills ~ Mummy, are we going to the swimming pool on Saturday?  I am always thrilled when he puts a coherent sentence together, one that is used in the correct context.   
I speak to or text my mum a few times a week, with the occasional email thrown in.  I speak to my sister less, not sure why.  I text other family members on an ad hoc basis.
I speak to the Headmaster of The Boy Child's school, the ladies in the office and his teacher on a daily basis, usually for a few minutes.  I speak to a few mums at school on a daily basis as well, but it's small talk with most of them, nothing of any consequence.
I have passing interaction with staff in the supermarket and coffee shop on a fairly regular basis and am at the small talk stage with a few ladies in my Zumba classes.
I talk to myself ... a lot ... usually asking myself what's for supper or has the dog been walked.  I also talk to the radio, particularly when listening to a lunchtime current affairs program ~ Oh, c'mon! 
We live in a noisy world, but I think it's quite clear that it's not down to me.

Photo a Day: 21st May

~ treated my friend to lunch for her birthday ~

31 Things: Day 4

Day 4 of Ali's latest class at BPC ~ 31 Things.  Ali describes the class thus: 31 Things is about capturing life right now but will be much more in-depth on a single daily subject than the documentation you might be used to with projects like Week in the Life or Project Life. This workshop is an opportunity to get specific pieces of your story told with the simple goal of telling more.  
Day 4| Faith:
I believe in God and I want to believe in the thought of an afterlife and the existence of Heaven.  It was important  for me to marry The Brainy One in church, just as it was for me to then have The Boy Child christened {on our 2nd wedding anniversary}.
However, I think it would be true to say that I find comfort more in the idea of faith, rather than in organised religion {too much in-fighting and scandal}.  I do say my prayers, but they are more in the form of a general chat with God. Dear God, will you please help The Boy Child sleep until 6am?  I like to be specific.
Since Dad died, I have frequently felt his presence.  When I married The Brainy One, when The Boy Child was born, on long motorway journeys, when The Boy Child was diagnosed with Autism, the list goes on.  I see signs, things that wouldn't mean anything to anyone else {signs that are not for sharing on here}.
And for me, for now, that's enough.   
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