Things I Like Thursday....

....this time in two weeks I'll be on vacation.

Right now I'm typing after another late night writing reports.

Before another early morning commute to go talk to parents about exams.

Absolutely shattering, really.

Love the boys, love my job, but the lack of sleep and stuff other than school starts to wear.

But only two weeks left of it.


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How a-Maru-sing!

What a week it is turning out to be...full of work and social fun and good times, as well as the usual end of term reports based madness.  This calls for tea.  Lots of tea.  And cat based laughter.  Thank heavens for Maru!

Two weeks from today it will be summer break.  In two and half weeks we'll have some cats of our own!

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Project Life Tuesday: June 18th - June 24th

The Mom Creative

Linking up, as is traditional, with the beautiful and talented Jessica, for Project Life Tuesday!  This week was activity week for my wee men, so while I have caboodles of photos in my book, and over on our class blog, I shan't share them here (I never put pictures of my students on my blog :)).  But there's still lots to chatter about!

Monday, June 18th:  Up early to head across town, ready for the off.  I also got to have a little play on my new toy, our cross-trainer!  Looking forward to lots of sessions on here and (hopefully) a little shrinking in the months to come.

Once at school we headed off to Surrey for an afternoon of orienteering, and an evening talk from an awesomely batty animal rescuer, who showed us owls and polecats and hedgehogs.  Brilliant!  We were so lucky with the weather for our away days again - three days of glorious sunshine and warm weather.  Thursday morning, once we were back in London, the heavens opened!

Tuesday, June 19th:  No photos on here, but a lovely day nonetheless - ropes courses and adventuring and pond dipping and a campfire and a boys' talent show.  Love going away with my little gang!

Wednesday, June 20th:  A morning of archery, mazes and playing in the woods, and then a journey home.

I took this quick snap in my classroom Wednesday before heading home to Leyton. 

I remember thinking I looked a little glassy eyed and peaky, which made more sense.....

Thursday, June 21st: ...when I woke up at six on Thursday, running a temperature, feeling clammy, sore tummy, sore head, swollen tongue and no voice.  Stayed off school and slept most of the day away.  So thankful for wonderful colleagues who covered me, and understanding pupils and families!  And for my lovely supportive boy too.

Friday, June 22nd: Another day away from school, another day asleep.  Finally woke up at 4 pm feeling fairly normal, and thankful once again for lovely folk and cups of tea!

Saturday, June 23rd:  Also known as the day of writing reports.  I now sit at 126/144 done, with five days to go.  Huzzah!  Chilled evening at home with Matthew, Dave, a curry and some football.

Sunday, June 24th:  A day of getting stuff done - for school, around the house, on the phone....all ready for another busy and fun week :-)

The upstairs front bedroom before....

...and after!

 After three days of rain, this sunny interval interrupted the showers.

 Insane hair.  Thank heavens I've got a haircut booked!

Organisation, baby!

How was your week?  This week's even busier, and full of lots of fun as well as lots of work.  Bring it!

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Thank you for reading

I just wanted to write a little note to each and every one of you who visits and reads what I write here at my little place here out in cyberspace. 

I can hardly believe I've been blogging for so long, and realise I am so lucky to have people read what I have to say at all - whether it's posts about my job, my beliefs, my hobbies, my friends, or just me waffling on about cats / naps / 1990s pop music.

It feels like at the moment everyone is super busy, so I really appreciate that you guys take the time to read, comment, and reach out.  I love writing and having a place to do so is a real treat.  I'm lucky enough to know some of you in person and to visit many of your blogs, and I love the little community I'm part of.

Thank you for hearing me, as ever.  I love sharing this adventure called life with you.

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Girls Gone Wild: Cherie Blair Edition

Ah, the joys of being a woman.

 The rhymes would have us believe it's all sugar and spice and all things nice.  And yet, in the media, we love to tear strips off one another.  Whether it's Samantha Brick decrying the rise of ugliness (irony, thy name is the Daily Mail) or Cherie Blair criticising stay at home mums (yep, you read that right), it seems that every other week there's an article heaping scorn on a wide swathe of women.

Why on earth do we accept this?

No paper in its right mind would publish a story where a vastly wealthy man criticised any men who stayed home with their kids.  The cries of elitism and the folly of prescribing how another family are to go about their business would ensure any such arguments never reached the page.  It's also seen as a given, I think, that if a man criticises how another man works/ thinks / plays football, that's fair game.  But leave his family and home choices alone!

And yet, when it comes to a hugely wealthy and successful woman (who is married to a multi-millionaire) who chooses to criticise how other women raise their kids, it's front page stuff.  A few morsels of Blair's argument bear up, but what she fails to recognise is that how we parent is a choice.  And when we, as women, pass judgement on a fellow woman who is trying her utmost to succeed and live well, we reduce the sisterhood of feminism to rubble.  No longer fighting for a common cause (equality, quality of life, fair pay), it descends into a catfight.  Which is just what the media want.  The moment women start shouting and disagreeing and labelling one another in this way, the media can spin it.  The women involved become labelled themselves as 'shrill' (poisionous, insidious descriptor), and sneaky vocabulary about looks and desirability muddy the waters still further.

Here's the thing though.  I really don't care much how someone else raises their children.  Bar those who are abusive and neglectful, where quite rightly we should all (male and female) be concerned and alert, I don't think it's my job, or Cherie Blair's job, to criticise another family's set-up.  I have friends who have children they stay at home with.  I have friends whose kids are being brought up by nannies, alongside the parents.  I have friends who days after giving birth could not wait to get back to work and others who decided not to go back to work, throwing themselves into gymboree, finger-painting and the hard hard work of raising little people.  I have friends that have chosen not to have kids because they want the freedom, both financial and otherwise, of remaining a couple or a singleton.  I have friends who have delayed having children while they rock their career, and others who had babies early so they could carve out a career later, in their thirties and forties.

How dare Cherie Blair pass judgement on stay at home mums?  What on earth gave her the impression that this would be a good idea?  I agree, ambition is a good thing in a woman, but surely she recognises that each and every one of us has a right to choose the ambitions we pursue.  Why is wanting to stay at home with your children any less challenging and rewarding than working, working, working?  Don't get me wrong, I adore my job and definitely hope one day to be promoted/get a Masters/write a book, but if children come into the picture, I'll want to make sure I do my other job - being a mother - just as well.  Our work lives are getting longer and longer - if you're an amazing worker, a few years out of fifty probably won't leave that much of a mark.  And if they do, surely we should be calling into question a system of work where families 'get in the way' and look at reforming that, rather than taking pop shots at a certain group of the female population.  Also, what if you have a job you don't adore?

I get so weary of the week on week attacks.  Attack working mothers! Attack the stay at home mothers!  Attack the women who choose not have children!  Does anyone else find this as dull and unhelpful as I do?

I agree that the myth of having-it-all is just that - a myth.  However, who ever said that having it all was a good thing?  Surely the key is to choosing what you do want to have, and prioritising that?  For example, in an ideal world, Matthew and I would sit down to dinner every evening at 6, and spend the evening together reading, relaxing and watching Mad Men.  How often do we do this?  A couple of times a month, tops.  Because we're busy with work, friends, events....  As a young couple we're not expected to 'have it all' - we're expected to choose what we wish to prioritise.  Like grown ups.

According to Sheryl Sandberg (a woman I very much admire), there's no such thing as a work-life balance.  I would counter that there is, but again we have to be able to be flexible and the realise there's a flow to these things, a yin to the yang, to go all hippy about it.  There are weeks and months and sometimes years where work dominates, but the reverse is surely true?  Take exam week, a couple of weeks back.  I worked for about 94 hours, plus spending about 10 hours commuting.  Work dominated and rightly so.  Flash forward to next month, when I'm on summer break.  I probably do a maximum of thirty hours of work a week, tops.  That's the time for life and friends and reading to dominate.  Each of us, as humans, can choose what things we 'highlight' in our lives, and there's really no right or wrong.  Be a workaholic, stay at home, prioritise watching the West Wing....make a choice.  There is no 'right way'.

I'm aware there's a certain hilarity in writing a piece saying we shouldn't as women slate one another while discussing the views of other women, but I hope I've managed to be reasonable, accommodating, and anything but shrill.  Conversation (as in the Slaughter and Sandberg pieces) is a good thing.  Comdemnation, as in Blair's message for the stay at home mummies, is unhelpful and infantile, in my view.

Choose your own course, and don't let the media get you down!

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Five Minute Friday: Risk

Linking up with the beautiful Lisa-Jo for another Five Minute Friday.  Today's prompt is 'risk'.


When I first think of risk, big, epic things stand out in my imagination - climbing mountains, charting new lands, putting it all on red, jumping out of the plane (parachute on, one hopes).  But then I got to thinking.  Isn't there another kind of risk?

The risk we all take when we choose to live well.

To be kind.

To trust.

To choose joy.

To give.

To forgive.

To love.

Because we've all been hurt.  We've been let down.  We've been rejected, scorned, judged, hated.... and yet we still pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and take the risk.  The risk of relating to others, of putting ourselves out there.

It's not a risk I've always been good with.  This time a decade ago I felt so used up and hurt and worthless most of the time, I wondered if I'd ever be brave enough to risk it all, to try to be a good friend, a worthy daughter, a present sister, a loving partner.

I'm so glad I've taken the risks I have since then.  Every one has been worth it.  I may not dive off any cliffs or run any umtra-marathons any time soon, but the risks I have taken in my friendships, my family life, my career, my writing, my faith, my hobbies and my love life have undoubtedly made my life a happier, sunnier, and safer place.  Who knew being a risktaker would earn peace & security?

Here's to putting ourselves out there.  To taking the risk.


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Project Life Tuesday: June 11th-17th

The Mom Creative

Linking up, as is traditional, with the crazy talented Jessica!

Monday, June 11th:  The start of exam week.  Cue stressedpupils, parents and teachers, and in typical English summer fashion...torrential rain!

 The classroom after exam number 1.
 Beautiful British summertime!

Tuesday, June 12th:  More exams and more busyness, and an evening of buying new pyjamas for me and making cupcakes for my boys!

 Exam week = treats for the badgers!

Who doesn't love Animal?  Mega comfy PJs, just in time for away days.

Wednesday, June 13th: Nine hours of exam marking.  Like a machine, baby.

7,452 answers marked in 9 hours = 828 an hour, 13.8 a minute, just around four seconds per question.  Probably a bit quicker, as I had to count up amrks, check through, etc..

As I said, like a machine!

Thursday, June 14th:  More marking (history this time), then a quick jaunt to London Bridge to double check the route to our theatre trip on Friday.

 Love the drama of the Shard, high above the skyline.

Friday, June 15th:  No exams!  Theatre trip!  Girldate with Eileen!

 Badger in space, by one of my lovely boys.

Nom, nom, nom, asparagus!

Eileen doing her best 'please-can-we-have-some-more-wine?' face!

Saturday, June 16th:  A fun morning volunteering at Manna, then a quick stop off for groceries and a stroll over the Thames to go to Emily's birthday picnic.  Such fun - and the rain stayed away!

 Choppy, choppy river.

Birthday girl!


Sunday, June 17th:  A day of packing, organising, relaxing and getting stuff done.  Oooh, and Gilmore Girls!

Getting that diary in order!

Fun times....busy times.  How are you all getting along?

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A lovely birthday picnic!

The beautiful Emily has a special birthday coming up, and so on Saturday a bunch of us got together to celebrate our girl.  Such fun!  I instagrammed it up (is instagram a verb as well as a noun?) a storm - here are a few of my pics from the day!

The birthday girl opening a gift.
 Adam finding his present a *little* bit harder!

 Bringing the cheese!

 Hadn't seen Dave in ages!  It was lovely to catch up with him and the lovely Charlotte!

 Wilf on parade.

 Scones and clotted cream - such a lovely summer treat!

 The promised storm never arrived, but clouds moved rapidly in the brisk wind!

 Ems is the *queen* of bunting!

 Pretty, pretty Lou.

 Lou and Siobhán kindly bought me a badger mask, which they brought along to the party to give to me.  I love it!


 Me and my favourite boy <3.

Such a lovely, chilled, fun afternoon.  Good food, great company, and a chance to fete a wonderful lady.  Love you bunches, Emily - I'm so very glad we are friends!

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