Saturday, 31 March 2012

'Me' time


I walked into town on my own at half past ten this morning. I had an almost solitary Starbucks breakfast, aside from the company of a giant seagull, whose ability to swallow half a round of fruit toast whole, alarmed me.

I then spent two and a half blissful hours at the hairdressers. I had two head massages, drank gallons of coffee, read ridiculous magazines (Tatler - not sure I am their target audience), and emerged a lot poorer, without massively different hair...

Embracing this indulgent child-free time, I did some make-up shopping. I have now blown my sensible savings plan established by the husband, but hey, I feel a lot better.

I was joined in the afternoon by the husband, the boy and a friend of ours with his little boy. We strolled along the seafront to the beach-side kids' playground. Friend's little boy ran round for ages, playing with sand and whizzing down the slide: Dexter slept.

Today's #366 photo is of the boy with his Saturday night curry. Weekends really do rock.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Looks like we've made it...


There was a vague sense of hysteria in the air today: the last day of term. I don't think I have ever experienced such a roller-coaster term, and I am very glad to bid it farewell.

The day started with the obligatory Friday coffee and sausage sandwich stop. Things were a bit hairy on the garage forecourt, as panic petrol purchasing was in full swing.

After a non-eventful drop-off at nursery, I just had the five lessons to get through. To be honest, it was a mixed bag of over-excited children, those who simply couldn't cope and those who were too shattered to care. The bell couldn't come soon enough, and the lift-share ladies, Dexter and I headed to a country pub on the way home to join a number of other demob happy colleagues.

The boy had his tea sitting at one of the benches in the beautiful beer garden. He played with a football, squeaked at some ducks, experimented with some rabbit droppings and threw up over lovely lift-share friend, due to some slightly over exuberant swinging around.

I too feel sick with tiredness. I am desperately in need of two weeks of rest and recovery. I celebrated the end of term with a glass of wine and fell asleep on the sofa at half past nine. Perfect.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Life is sweet


I consumed a lot of calories today. This is no bad thing as I seem to be wasting away at the moment, which I am attributing to a somewhat manic pace of life.

There was departmental cake at break time, in honour of two colleagues leaving this term. After school, we had a whole-staff cream tea - a celebratory post-Ofsted treat from the governors.

When I collected the boy from nursery, Lizzie referred to him as 'scrummy', which made me smile.  Lovely lift share friend and I made a swift after-school visit to Sainsbury's: she bought chocolate treats for her students, I treated us to Starbucks.

It was a lovely evening, and having been dropped off at the door, I spontaneously took Dexter into the garden. Our garden is shared with all of the residents of our building and we never use it. Perhaps we should, as the boy very much enjoyed crawling around on the grass/in the soil, chasing the cat and putting leaves in his mouth.

There's a feel-good factor in the air and I like it.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Running on empty


Coffee stop definitely required this morning. We arrived at nursery to a very gloomy room as they had experienced a power cut.

Around about lunchtime, our whole computer network failed.

I am starting to resemble a small boy from the 1970s, ie. too thin, pale skin, bad hair. I have stopped wearing mascara because my eyes itch with tiredness. 

Dexter's face is a rashy, spotty mess - just about captured in today's #366 photo.

I am half expecting four Apocalyptic horsemen to make an appearance in the staffroom/ at Huffle Pet Week.

Two more days. Digging deep...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Pets on Parade


Today was day two of Huffle's 'Pet Week'. I don't think I made reference to it yesterday, largely due to the fact that the 'pet of the day' was a cat. Feedback from nursery was that Dexter was distinctly nonplussed by said feline. I suspect this was largely due to the fact that we have two furry inmates at home.

Today however, was a different story. Dougie the hamster made a cameo appearance, and the boy loved him! I was given a whole set of hilarious photos of Dexter's encounter with the dinky rodent. I was slightly alarmed by reports of him attempting to 'bat' the poor little creature, as he does with his dummies/toys/anything with wheels, but boy and hamster were under close supervision at all times.

I had a pet hamster when I was about twelve. He was named John-Paul (after the Pope - I was a somewhat eccentric child), and lived to the ripe old age of three and a half, before being put to sleep due to some form of hamster dementia.

I have promised Dexter that he can have a pet hamster when the moggies are no longer with us. As Mike is agoraphobic and never leaves the flat, and Noo Noo is likely to survive (along with the cockroaches) in the event of a nuclear holocaust, I fear the boy may be waiting some time...

For now, he'll have to make do with his animal jigsaw pieces featured in today's #366 photo. He loves 'batting' them around too and furiously gnawing on them. Looks like the hamster got away lightly after all. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Glass half full


Dexter is Lord Grump of Grumpsville at the moment. Sarah's feedback at the nursery pick-up today was: 'He's been emotional.'

I am quite grumpy at the moment. I'm not feeling one hundred percent, I've got bad hair, and I'm still harbouring a simmering resentment at losing an hour at the weekend. I will get over this.

Now I know the start of British Summertime heralds the start of lighter evenings and the countdown to the glorious summer holidays, but that's still quite a long way off.

The only thing to put a smile on the boy's face this evening (aside from Daddy coming home, naturally), was Dexter's talking and singing plastic bus. I can't say its incessant, pseudo-electronica sounds have the same mood enhancing effect on me.

I am feeling celebratory at the moment though about this blog. I've been receiving some really positive feedback and affirmation in various forms, so thank you. It's become a real labour of love.

And just like the gorgeous smile above, it reminds me to be positive too.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Beach Bum


Another glorious Spring day, and post-riding lesson, the obvious choice seemed to be a stroll along the seafront. The clocks changed last night, so there was less pressure to be in a hurry as we knew we had an extra hour of daylight to play with.

We scheduled in a lunch stop at Pret-a-Manger, and had the first al fresco meal of the year. There was a more practical point to the slightly romanticised Mediterranean whimsy of eating outdoors: Dexter had a croissant. It went everywhere. Fuelled by his success with the chickens yesterday, the boy seemed to find the allure of the scrounging, scratty-looking pigeons simply irresistible. Dexter's many crumbs/regurgitated bits of pastry, and the head-nodding vermin (sorry pigeon-lovers), made for a very happy partnership. I was not so keen.

The 'stroll' along the seafront was not massively relaxing, due to the fact that the famous pebbles resembled the clich├ęd 'hottest day of the year so far!' snapshots, beloved of the popular press.

Our visit to the countryside yesterday, combined with a sense of having to share your own 'communal playground' with quite so many people, raised the age-old discussion of where exactly we want to live in the near future. As you can see from today's #366 photo, full of patisserie-based carbs, the boy did not share his parents' quandary, and enjoyed a sunny Sunday afternoon snooze-down.

I could learn a thing or two from him...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Rural Relaxation


Well huzzah for the weekend! No real lie-in, although I did manage to feign complete lack of consciousness this morning so that the husband had to do the whole morning routine with the boy. 

The main job of the morning was to pack up the car for a day trip to the in-laws in the depths of the Kent countryside. It really took me back to those early days of packing the contents of your entire house/Mothercare just to pop to Starbucks for a cuppa. These pet babies still don't travel light, but with a concerted Team Wayne effort, a car boot full of kit, and Dexter strapped into his (all-too-familiar) car seat, we were on the road by eleven o'clock: that never happens.

Dexter and I snoozed all the way. Result. And we arrived just in time for a delicious lunch: she shoots, she scores!

Now when I say 'the depths of the countryside', I am in no way exaggerating. Dexter's paternal grandparents live in a real rural idyll. At the risk of wishing his life away, I can't wait for him to be old enough/mobile enough to appreciate the joys of playing in the woods, playing tractors with granddad and chasing chickens. We did do a little post-lunch chicken spotting, and Dexter 'helped' to feed the strange prehistoric-looking poultry. This obviously largely consisted of attempting to put the bird seed into his own mouth.

The boy's a little grumpy at the moment, and his latest 'thing' is only wanting to be with Daddy. I am trying not to take this too personally...

Today's #366 photo is of Dexter having a bucolic moment of reflection, or at least enjoying the strange sensation of having a little damp grass beneath his feet. My literary heart wants me to think he was channelling a young and contemplative John Clare; my practical head makes me think he was just enjoying the tickling sensation and the late afternoon sun.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Teenage Kicks


Following on from yesterday's slightly whingey tired post, I am still utterly shattered, but feeling slightly more philosophical about it.

I've found today quite wearing. Teaching English is wonderful, but it's also a subject that a significant number of students face challenges in, particularly as it has reading, writing and understanding at its heart. I also have high standards in my classroom. This means that I must say: "Put your gum in the bin", "Sit on your chair properly", "Turn around" - and other such trite gubbins, hundreds of times in a week. I bore myself.

I am unflinching in my pedagogical zeal though, as I firmly believe that kids need (and like) consistency. I tell the younger students I have a secret career in the 'Chewing Gum Police', and I've been trained to spot the sticky stuff from a thousand yards. I swear some of them believe me, and for this I love them.

And that's the fundamental thing: I do love my job. I like spending my days with the angst-ridden, hormone-addled, sometimes recalcitrant, stunningly simple and massively complex beasties that are teenagers. They make me laugh; they sometimes make me cry; they make me feel I have a purpose and I do something valuable with my life. I spend more time with them than I do my own little person.

My pet baby will (worryingly) soon join the ranks of anguished adolescents. Naively perhaps, I hope my years in the classroom may give me some sort of preparation as to how to deal with him. In reality, I'm pretty terrified. I'll be mortified if he's rude to his teachers, or inconsiderate of others. Our two slightly unhinged and out-of-control cats do not bode well in the parenting stakes...

After a long, unseasonably warm day of controlled assessments, exam preparation, and some post-parents' evening 'digging-deep', the boy, lovely lift-share friend and I hit the beer garden of our local to catch the last few rays of spring sunshine. Dexter had already been to the park with nursery, so I didn't feel too guilty that we didn't hit the local swings. Besides, he quite enjoyed chomping on the pub's sweet potato chips and garlic mayo.

Today's #366 photo was taken after he'd had his proper tea at home. I think it captures a flash of slight obstinance - possibly a sign of the perhaps more challenging years ahead.

Or perhaps he's just transfixed by the bonkers cats...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Stop the ride - I want to get off!


Today's #366 photo is not 'smug showing off' - far from it. It's more potent symbolism of the demands my job sometimes makes of me. Another parents' eve. I genuinely don't mind them; they sometimes border on enjoyable. Tonight's was Sixth Form, so more enjoyable than usual, and lots of 'thank yous' as the next phase in my students' education comes to a close.

I'm just so darn tired. Anyone who moans about the holidays teachers get should try doing the job. I have an early start, a long commute, a nursery run, and the none-too insignificant matter of planning, teaching and marking. Chuck in a regular number of meetings and the end result is pretty much constant exhaustion.

Poor old Dexter feels it too. He has a constant cold, bed-head, and no desire to drop his (quite lengthy) daytime naps.

I often feel like a ball in an arcade pinball machine, whizzing around the place, bashing from pillar to post. I'm hoping the imminent Easter break will render the boy and me more like a pair of floating rubber ducks in a funfair 'grab a duck' game: quiet, serene, just gently bobbing along - and only ready to be hoiked out of the water with the start of a new term.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012



Stuff Google, I've always believed today to be the first day of Spring, and Mother Nature seems to agree, as today was the perfect Spring day.

Sadly, I was inside for all of it, but Dexter indulged in some outdoor bubble play at nursery, which seemed to involve him sitting in his vest outside in a soapy tray of bubbles. Apparently he loved it. They've given me some lovely pictures of him, which do reflect the fun he's having, but bizarrely, don't really look like him. He's changing and progressing all the time at the moment. I can't wait for the two week Easter holidays to share in some of this.

Whilst the boy was sliding around in foam, I was grappling with a zillion spreadsheets which have to be completed for my classes to show the progress they are making. Life just seems to be one great mission to strive for the next rung on the ladder at the moment.

After school, lovely lift-share friend and I dropped in on (equally lovely) former lift-share lady, currently enjoying her maternity leave. Her (almost) three month old baby looked so little next to Dexter. He was sporting some of Dexter's old socks, which I can't believe ever fitted the boy.

Dexter demonstrated his progress further, by joining in with the grown-ups and having a teatime biscuit. Sadly, he's still got some way to go in the eating department. I'm not sure that today's #366 photo quite captures the complete mess the boy made with a single 'Kimberley' biscuit. Nor does it feature me, absolutely covered in the fall-out. I was in such a state, that I briefly considered changing my name to Kimberley. Alternatively, Dexter needs to make friends with a plate.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

What's up doc?


Our GP's surgery is very good, and I managed to get the boy an appointment for this evening. The husband was able to attend the appointment too, so we both rocked up at the surgery prepared to hear the worst about the boy's Elvis impersonations.

Dexter was totally unaware of any parental angst, as demonstrated by today's #366 photo, taken in the surgery waiting room.

We ended up seeing one of the practice's GPs whom I haven't met before. She was really reassuring that Dexter's seemingly unique stance is not quite so unique after all, and apparently is perfectly normal. I'm still really grateful to nursery for paying such close attention to him and communicating so well with parents.

We celebrated our news (and a week without Ofsted - yes, I am still banging on about it), with a visit to our local pub for dinner. Dexter ate chips, I drank some wine, and we were still home by half past seven.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Paws for thought


Monday, Monday. A relatively calm start to the week. I shamelessly made my Year 9 class listen to my radio debut - professional as ever- and enjoyed the post-Ofsted calm, despite having heaps to do.

Dexter cried when I left him at nursery, mainly due to the fact that his beloved key-worker, Sarah, wasn't there when I dropped him off. Or perhaps it was simply a case of 'start-of-the-week' blues.

When I collected the boy, Sarah expressed some concern about the way Dexter seemed to be using his feet when practising with the push-along walker. I have noticed that the boy tends to roll on to the inside edge of his feet when attempting any sort of standing, but didn't think too much of it, instead referring to him (affectionately) as Forrest Gump.

I tried not to be too alarmist about the observation, but consulted the holy trinity of the internet, my sister and my mother for further advice, and vowed to do my parental duty and book a doctor's appointment in the morning.

On a lighter note, I had to give my parental permission at nursery for Dexter to take part in Little Huffle 'Pet Week'. This inaugural event will take place next week, when the Huffle ladies will bring a selection of their animals in for the little 'uns to interact with. I demanded to be informed (and invited) if a pony is going to make an appearance, naturally.

Today's #366 photo captures Dexter 'bothering' poor Mike at teatime with some characteristically over exuberant stroking. Those poor Huffle pets don't know what they are in for...

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mother's Day


Sunday: Mothering Sunday. It wasn't quite the luxurious day of treats that I had imagined. Dexter was in bed with us at six o'clock this morning. He has taken to waking up, not wanting milk, but not really knowing what to do with himself. We can just about get him back to sleep if we squeeze him in with us.

I then made breakfast for us all, before going for my riding lesson. I rode a horse called Amanda: this amuses me.

We had plans to go to Noah's first birthday party at a local park. Noah is the last of the NCT babies to turn one: a defining moment.

I can't think of anything more fitting than spending Mother's Day with my boys and our NCT buddies, who started this whole crazy journey with us. It's pretty nuts to see the 'babies' walking and talking in some cases. Today's #366 photo shows how Dexter mainly spent the party: asleep.

It was a lovely afternoon, and managed to distract me temporarily from sulking about my lack of dazzling jewels/designer handbag/bunch of daffs. The husband did make a delicious dinner though, which allowed me to get most of my work done for tomorrow and catch up with some blogging.

I'm hoping for a calmer week. We'll see...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Slack Saturday


Saturday - at last! To be honest, after the craziness of the week, it was all a bit of an anti-climax. I had to do the supermarket-run as there was no way of squeezing an online shop into last week's chaos.

The weather was filthy all day, so Team Wayne lounged out. Today's #366 picture shows Dexter indulging in a little 'carpet picnic', which basically involved him stealing food from the husband and me at lunch. He does look a little guilty in the photo, probably becuase he'd just pinched a handful of coleslaw and pizza.

I did a little schoolwork, but the day was largely quiet and dull for all concerned.

How lovely.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Radio Ga Ga


Five post-Ofsted, post-parents' evening lessons. The kids were great; I was on my knees.

Four o'clock nursery pick-up today, so tea-time at home with the boy. We always listen to Radio Two's 'All Request Friday' with Simon Mayo. Yes, I am aware this makes me sound middle-aged. I don't care. I think it is real comfort listening - a sort of aural equivalent to the first glass of wine of the weekend. Dexter is always amused by the sight of me dancing around to the tunes people request.

On a whim, I phoned in to request a song for the staff and students at my school in the wake of Ofsted. I ended up live on air, chatting away to Simon Mayo.

A suitably nuts end to a bonkers week.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Duvet Day (I wish)


This was Dexter this morning. I appreciate this is a terrible, unfocused and blurry picture. At six o'clock this morning, I was feeling terrible, unfocused and blurry.

I also knew that, aside from our journey to school, I was not going to see the boy for the rest of the day.

I managed to get through another day's lessons and avoided further Ofsted observations. There was then only the small matter of a mentor meeting with a trainee teacher and a three hour parents' evening.

On returning home, I spent fifteen minutes trying to park and still ended up three streets away. Aaaargh!

Dexter had been collected from nursery by the lift-share ladies who had taken him for a quick scoot around Sainsbury's and Starbucks.

I had to settle for a late-night peek and stroke of the hair. I love my job and I'm thrilled I've had some affirmation that I'm doing okay at it, but I'd quite like to give the same quality input other people's children are having from me at the moment, to my own boy.

One more day...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A crazy day


This was Dexter after his evening bath. I swear I can see complete contempt in his eyes. I may of course be being over-sensitive. He would be totally within his rights to be looking disdainful. I did not see him at all this morning. The husband took him to nursery. I collected him from nursery at six. Today was full-on.

First day of the inspection and I was observed teaching twice; the first observation was a joint one by the Head and the lead inspector. The students were fab. I sort of felt prepared - largely due to my late night and a lengthy phonecall to a massively talented teacher-friend, herself a working mummy. I couldn't really tell how it had gone.

I wasn't expecting to be observed again after lunch. I felt like that lesson was a disaster. The whole process leaves you feeling very professionally exposed.

To cut a long story short, my lesson feedback was really positive. It was a massive boost. Having returned to work in September after my maternity leave, my professional confidence has taken quite a knock. I try really really hard to be a good teacher still, albeit one with a different set of priorities. I was thrilled to have official recognition, that when I'm in the classroom, I can still do it.

I flew by the seat of my pants all day, fuelled by one of Pat's strong coffees and four bottles of water. It's a terrible, terrible admision, but I barely gave the boy a second thought - the whole inspection process doesn't give you that luxury. I stayed up again working until well past midnight.

There is nothing 'outstanding' about my parenting this week. Sorry dude.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012



This is Dexter's favourite new occupation: dragging himself up to a standing position using the bin, pressing the lid to open it, and looking at the rubbish. The husband and I are actively discouraging said activity. The boy ignores us.

Today was rubbish. It was stressful, having to teach a normal day's lessons and try to prepare for the two-day inspection.

I also had to make some frantic phonecalls to keep Dexter at nursery until six and arrange for the husband to take him there tomorrow morning to maximise my time before the bell to prepare for the day ahead. Rubbish.

I stayed up until just before midnight: rubbish.

What if I can't do the teaching thing anymore now I'm juggling lots of other stuff? What if they come to my lesson and the verdict is: rubbish?!?...

Monday, 12 March 2012



Today was going swimmingly - well, considering it was Monday and all that. As I blithely trotted across a sunny playground at breaktime to collect some photocopying, and speak to a colleague about a student, I was unaware that the Deputy Head was informing those in the staffroom that Ofsted had called. Their portentous phonecall was to inform the school that we would be subject to a two-day inspection: this coming Wednesday and Thursday.

There is nothing more likely to strike fear into the heart of any teacher (aside from the threat of shortening our precious holidays), than the imminent visit of the Ofsted inspectors. Given that I spend much of my life feeling like I am being judged, an Ofsted inspection simply makes such 'judgement' official. It also signals the start of a very busy and stressful couple of days.

The rest of the day passed by in a bit of a blur. I collected Dexter at his usual late Monday pick-up time, only to go home and work all evening.

Before I put him to bed, I managed today's #366 photo. I feel that the over-the-shoulder shot catching him 'reading' seems strangely appropriate. There's going to be a lot of that sort of scrutiny over the next couple of days in my classroom.

Oh hurrah.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

House Hunting (or not)


Another beautiful Spring day. I had another lovely riding lesson this morning, but the crisp and sunny day rendered some of my equine friends a little more flighty than usual. There were quite a few prancing ponies and a (not too serious) fall.

Change is definitely in the air - something the husband and I seemed to pick up on. Our 'life plans' seem to change on a weekly basis; one particular area which we seem to be particularly contrary about is the issue of where we live. As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, we love where we are, but we'd love an extra bedroom, our own garden and somewhere to park!

We decided to spend the afternoon having a little drive around the county and we investigated some new-build developments in towns and villages beyond Brighton. All in all, it was quite a depressing experience and we came to the conclusion that we're not yet ready to live in an isolated location without any heart, however convenient in other ways.

On the way back, we stopped off in Lewes, where we spent last Saturday. We ended up having an early dinner in Bill's. Dexter enjoyed squishing some chips and throwing them on the floor.

On our return to Brighton, we even managed to park on our road. I'm resisting my daily look at the 'Rightmove' website, and I've got some lessons to plan.

Change can wait.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Checkout Chatter


I woke up this morning, still replaying the frankly mortifying experience of yesterday in my head. In a bid to distract myself, I took myself off to Waitrose as this week's (doomed) interview preparation (I did actually do some), had left no time for the online shop.

It was still relatively early when I got there. Brighton is usually pretty sleepy on weekend mornings, but I can think of fewer more middle-class places than Waitrose in Brighton (well, Hove actually), so I was expecting quite a civilised experience.

After I had dodged the very-well behaved local residents stocking up on organic goat's cheese, antipasti and micro-biotic muesli, all packed into jute 'Free Tibet', reusable bags, I accidentally became embroiled in conversation at the checkout with a well-spoken, middle-aged, Boden-wearing lady.

I had clocked her expression as I piled onto the conveyor belt the 'Little Dish' toddler ready-meals  that I send Dexter to nursery with everyday. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, when under pressure, comedy is my default mode, so I simply shrugged my shoulders and said, "I know: slack mum."

She tried to be kind and suggest that it would probably be easier (and cheaper), to stick our food in the food processor. I dutifully explained that I had done this for several months, but now the boy is sort of between baby food and our food, plus working full-time means that the meal in a box is simply more convenient. I thought she was on my side when she acknowledged how hard it must be juggling everything, and the difficulties of working and parenting in isolation, as it should be a community activity. I agreed wholeheartedly, but was a little bit stung by her off-the-cuff comment that if we all did it 'properly', that is, stayed at home, we'd probably have fewer problems in society and prisons wouldn't be so full!

Still feeling a bit bruised and rubbish from yesterday's experience and doubting my professional competence, I was suddenly forced to question my parenting 'choices'. For the second time in two days, I sat in the car and cried. I honestly don't think the lady was trying to make a direct connection between Dexter going to nursery and rising crime rates, and I know when I am being over-tired, over-sensitive and hormonal. However, I felt a little wounded.

The husband was quite understanding about it all when I returned home all blotchy-eyed. A scoot into town and some tea-time sushi soon make me feel better.

Today's (badly-lit) #366 photo is of Dexter and me in the toilets of Moshi-Moshi. He had just had a toxic nappy changed and we were dancing in the mirror of the baby-change, as the speakers in there pump the restaurant's music through. If I didn't work, we simply wouldn't have the money for such spontaneous fun, and anyway, I have been known when peckish, to stick a 'Little Dish' pie in the microwave. They're jolly tasty.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Being Yourself


Today was nuts.

Without going into too much detail, halfway through last week, I decided to put myself forward for a job that had come up at my school. I fancied a change and a challenge (because obviously, my life as it stands is a walk in the park...). Trouble is, said job was totally outside my department and area of experience and expertise.

Nevertheless, I stormed ahead, all guns blazing and today was the interview day. I had to: teach a lesson to a very specific group of students; complete an 'in-tray' activity and written exercise; and go through a forty minute interview with the head teacher, the head of that department and a governor. I seemed to lurch from one disaster to another, culminating in the dreaded interview.

Now, historically I am rubbish at interviews. Despite being quite confident with words and never being short of any, something happens in an interview situation and I behave like a complete numpty. In fact, the best advice I was ever given about interviews came from the head teacher I used to work for, who wisely advised: "Katy, don't be yourself."

Sadly, these words were not at the front of my mind this afternoon. As the post was something I had never done before, I struggled with about three or four of the questions, and simply had to say, "I don't know," to at least one (my butt cheeks are clenching at the thought). Perhaps worse than this, when put under pressure/in stressful situations, I resort to default mode: 'comedy'. My closing line in the interview was: "Right, I must go now as my son is with two colleagues in a park somewhere. I probably should go and find him."

As it happens, as my interview ran over nursery collection time, lovely lift-share ladies had collected Dexter from nursery and were entertaining him with the books and fish tank in the school library. Love those girls.

I cried all the way home as I felt totally embarrassed, exposed and totally incompetent. Needless to say, I didn't get the job. I am absolutely fine with this. Now I am getting over the whole mortifying experience (just), I realise that my sense of humour and 'comedy demeanour' is what my students probably enjoy about my lessons; it's just not that appropriate for formal interview situations.

Today's #366 photo captures Dexter at tea-time today - food all down his cardigan and in his hair: simply being his wonderful self.

I was reading an article in a parenting magazine recently; I occasionally splash out on them as I feel I should at least attempt to keep up-to-speed on what the heck I'm supposed to be doing. The article was called 'Little ray of sunshine: the power of positivity - how to foster your child's optimistic side'. The sub-headings in the article are as follows: 'Be aware of your expectations'; 'Let your child make mistakes'; 'Allow your child to feel bad'; 'Don't give your child false praise'; 'Give constructive criticism'; 'Molehills are just molehills'; 'Keep smiling and having fun!'; 'Examine your own behaviour'; 'Find what your child is good at'. One of the key lines from the article was emboldened in the middle of the text: 'Optimists view setbacks as temporary hiccups in an otherwise happy life.'

In the wake of my excruciating day, these words cheered me up and made me feel better - as did two glasses of chilled white and an early night.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Small Pleasures


Today was Thursday; I am writing this on Sunday evening. I've got five posts in total to catch-up on. My blog 'fans' have been clamouring for the latest updates - well, I had a tweet from Hannah and a text from my mum.

I think Thursday was okay. Nothing stands out in my mind in particular - Friday's post will more than make up for that...

The #366 photo represents what perhaps was the only noteworthy event: for the fourth evening running, I parked right outside our flat!

You have no idea how happy this makes me.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A whole new world...


My school operates on a two week timetable, and there tends to be a week or day that you favour/dislike more than others. Wednesday, Week A, (that is today), is a day I don't really care for. It's not really anything to do with the classes I teach. It's more a combination of the whole mid-week slump (as mentioned previously, I always think it's Thursday on Wednesday), and the fact that I have a free lesson last thing. This 'free' lesson teases me as a tiny beacon of light at the end of four quite full-on lessons on the trot. I'm normally so exhausted by that fifth lesson, that all I can manage is to sit at a computer in the staff room, checking emails.

I like our staff room - not necessarily the room itself, but it has a really friendly and buzzy atmosphere - often something vistors to the school comment on. One of the ironies of teaching is that, despite spending your entire day with a room full of people, it can feel very isolating. I relish those chances I have to catch up with warm, clever, funny colleagues. Teaching as a profession makes you feel institutionalised: you can't even go to the loo until a bell tells you it's the right time. I think the only other institution where you have to pee on command is prison...

Today was one of those days where I felt the need to reconnect with the outside world. This can be achieved through the most banal of activities. The lift-share had disbanded for various reasons today, so the boy and I drove home on our own, making a detour to our local Sainsbury's. I needed a few things (as a result of a hastily performed online shop), and of course there was the obligatory stop at Starbucks. Dexter was suitably entertained by the supermarket strip-lighting. That was all I need to feel like a normal human being again - I never consider teaching to be a 'normal' job.

Today's #366 picture captures part of Dexter's own little microcosm: his cot. I love the juxtaposition of the narrow confines of his bed, overlooked by the Jamie Hewlett spaceman, suggesting a whole world/universe of possibilities.

I like to think it helps him dream of big things and endless possibilities. It looks cool too.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

An early start


Dexter woke up at quarter past five this morning. He cried. The only way we could get him back to sleep was to bring him into our bed. This is very unlike him.

My alarm went off at six.

If I have previously come across as being smug about what a good sleeper the boy is, this is possibly a tiny snippet of 'baby karma'.

His nursery notebook reliably informs me that Dexter slept for a good two hours this morning. During that time, I had a meeting, observed a lesson and supervised a detention.

The boy went to bed at seven o'clock this evening. It is approaching nine, and I am contemplating doing some marking in bed.

I am exhausted: he is totally, utterly and entirely worth it.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Tums and Bums


Monday, Monday: another epic day. A cover, four lessons of my own and an hour and a half meeting.

Always a slightly later collection time from nursery at the beginning of the week due to regular Monday meetings. Always slightly guilty at how few little 'uns are still waiting to be collected at half past five - the giving up guilt thing isn't working particularly well.

The boy was without the obligatory poppered vest I'd sent him off with this morning. The reason for shedding a layer had nothing to do with the weather. Ironically, today has been absolutely freezing compared to last week's sniff of Spring. Dexter had not been adjusting to seasonal variations in temperature, but indulging in some 'play' involving whipped cream (the mind boggles), and troughing on some Angel Delight (that was not in the lunchbox either). The vest came under dairy attack.

Yet again, I am grateful (good to counter the guilt), that Dexter gets to enjoy some creative (for creative, read messy) play, and I merely have to chuck his vest in the washing machine - and let him watch it spinning round, naturally.

I couldn't resist today's #366 photo opportunity, and a cheeky flash of that rotund belly. The husband was on bath duty and informs me that the boy also had a promising 'builder's crack', whilst leaning over the edge of the tub, watching it being filled up.

My little cherub.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Rain, rain, go away!


The brief sniff of Spring we were teased with only a few days ago, seems to have been replaced with October. Today has been a thoroughly miserable day - so much so, that I'm blogging about it before it's even finished.

My weekly riding lesson was a pleasure as ever, but the bits in between the hour-long ride in the indoor school, were cold, wet and muddy.

I got a lovely, smiley greeting from the boy when I arrived home, but then he had a very grumpy lunch (most of it ended up on the floor), and a little look out of the window (as shown in today's #366 photo), before deciding that bed was the best option.

That is where he is now. The husband is watching a Woody Allen film, and I have taken the opportunity to catch up on some blogging and face the ever-increasing pile of marking I have to tackle.

Whilst weekend family-time is precious, I don't always mind days like today. They take the pressure off having to constantly be on the go/doing something exciting. We're all in loungewear, the heating is on, and it's a good opportunity to chill before the onslaught of another working week...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Lunching in Lewes


Today was the first birthday of Lottie, one of Dexter's little buddies. Sadly for Little Lady L, she'd had a nasty bug, so our plans to join birthday-girl and her family at Drusillas Zoo Park were cancelled.

The husband and I decided instead to spend the afternoon in Lewes. Before we were married, we used to visit Lewes quite a lot, to browse the antique shops and enjoy the relative quiet and more civilised experience than a Saturday afternoon venture into Brighton offers.

Today, we mainly spent the entire time there having lunch. I had to share my fishcakes and chunky chips with the boy. I don't do sharing food, and a family lunch is a real test of my parentally-enforced altruism. I basically ended up eating about a half of one fishcake, while Dexter scoffed the rest. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to be quite so interested in the husband's Caesar salad. Fortunately, the boy was asleep by the time the latte and giant piece of banoffee cake arrived.

Dexter had woken up from his post-lunch snooze when we were ready to pay the bill. Today's #366 photo shows the response our lovely waitress got when she tried chatting to the boy. Apparently, Dexter's current new obsession with blowing raspberries is all part of his language acquisition. I hope he's got a few more appropriate words by the time he's out lunching with friends...

Friday, 2 March 2012

End-of-the-week Blues


It's been a long week, and I really felt my later than usual night yesterday when the alarm went off this morning. Even Pat's strong coffee failed to make a full-day's teaching any less exhausting.

We stopped off at a local country pub on the way home to catch up with a former colleague. Dexter was tired and hadn't had his tea, but was very well-behaved and seemed to be relatively entertained by the pub's light fittings and little scruffy dog lounging out in front of the open fire.

To be honest, we were both pretty glad to get home. I'd reached that point of exhaustion where even my hair seems to hurt, and my legs ache so much it feels as though a steam roller has been over them.

Today's delightful #366 photo is of Dexter at tea-time. He could barely keep his eyes open, and was doing some annoying banging of his water cup on the table. I 'tell him off' for doing this, and it is interesting to observe his increasing awareness of being told 'no'. After some repetitive bashing of the beaker on the tray of his highchair, a firm 'No!' from me was met with an upside down mouth and Dexter dropping his head to look at the floor. It was all I could do to keep a straight face as his reaction was a complete textbook sulk. I didn't want to undermine my successful discipline by laughing at him!

There was nothing rock or roll about Friday evening. I put the boy to bed with no bath; he was just too tired. I was tucked up by quarter past nine. Sometimes, you've just got to.