Baby's age counter

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Boxing Day Blues… NOT

Hooray for Boxing Day the shops are open again! Had a great Xmas day with the family – a few hairy moments with people not communicating too well but overall great fun. It was a bit unusual this year as there was just the 5 of us instead of the masses.
My Mother had gone all out in terms of provisions so we cooked up a delicious goose feast. There were home grown brussel sprouts and parsnips as well as home made desserts. Yum. Then after eating we settled down for some classy tv watching. Nice.
I was a little disappointed as I really wanted a Nintendo DS for Xmas but there were none to be had. A shame but there you go. So first thing today I thought I would have a little look online and low and behold there was one in Argos! Therefore I am getting ready to go and pick it up and I am about to explode as I am so excited. I love Boxing Day!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Last week I watched a tv show called The End of the World Cult about a man called Michael Travesser (born Wayne Bent) who believes he’s the son of Christ and predicted that the world would end on 31st October this year. The show, on C4, just let them tell their story. It was a very disturbing show. There were young girls saying how they felt compelled to get naked with this man who is in his sixties so that they would be closer to God. Many of the people had left members of their family to be close to this man, and it had torn parents away from their children. Members of the group had to give all they have (worldly possessions etc) to Michael. Marriages had been ruined, and Michael had even slept with his son’s wife a number of times, in the name of religion; despite this his son remains a devout believer. However, the most disturbing thing was the way the people in the cult talked about how they were looking forward to dying when the world ended. They were anxious and on edge and didn’t seem to be enjoying their lives at all. It was very sad.
The film crew made the documentary during October so they saw the people’s reactions to deadline Michael had given them. They seemed to be all over the place and not surprisingly a touch hysterical. A few weeks later the film crew returned to see what Michael made of the world NOT ending on the 31st. His followers were still loyal and he had made a new date for the world to end: 15th December 2007. Again, he seems to have got it wrong since we’re all still here. When will these people stop believing him?

Allergy update (2)

So everything in my mouth hurts. On Friday I ate some Haribo sweets (soft jelly type things) and they were delicious. However, a short while later I realised that my mouth was sore and over night sores developed. All weekend and even now I am suffering with swollen ulcer/sores. Very unattractive but the bonus is that my diet is coming along great. It’s too painful to eat much – even chocolate makes my body tense with pain.
Being a bit of a hooligan I tried squid last Thursday and… nothing happened! It turns out that squid is not a problem. This fuelled my next mistake which was on Sunday. In light of the squid eating success, when I was choosing a sandwich to buy in Waitrose I decided to get a prawn mayo sandwich. Unusually there was some logic behind this choice – most of the other sandwiches had salad which I have already concluded is baaaaad for the mouth. So prawns on brown bread with a little bit of mayo seemed harmless. What could go wrong?
I was so hungry that I inhaled half of the sandwich. A few minutes later my mouth felt odd. I dashed to the other end of the supermarket, dumped my trolley and ran into the Ladies to inspect my tongue. Oh yes, a nice fat melty patch was growing. Excellent work. Thank goodness I didn’t eat the other half of the sandwich. Instantly I ate a quick Piriton to try and prevent the situation worsening and focused on my little trip around the aisles.
Did you know that Piriton makes you sleepy? I didn’t. I thought anti-histamines just worked on allergies but it turns out they make you a bit dopey. So I drove home in a fog and collapsed for a short while so I could try and wake up a bit.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Moving update

Nearly moved everything out of my flat now! It seemed like there was so much stuff that my flat would never be empty. Fortunately with lots of help from friends and family my flat is looking soooo big and empty. It’s so sad to think I’m leaving it now. It was my first real home after leaving my parents.
On the other hand my new place is much nicer purely because it’s not rented. It’s been cared for in a different way and it’s not got weird pointy corners (although those have grown to be quite endearing in the old place!)
So Saturday was about shifting stuff and Sunday became about clearing stuff, cleaning the oven and fridge. The place has never been so clean and shiny! By Sunday night I was soooo tired, but luckily we didn’t sink into a pit of fatigue. Instead we met up with some friends and had a nice dinner in town.
All that remains to be done is getting rid of the futon, moving a few kitchen items and vacuuming. Voila la!
Talking of the futon; how amazing is Freecycle?! I was recommended it by a friend and I am soooo impressed. I put an ad on there on Saturday evening and already I have had three or four requests for it. How simple is that! Love it although I am getting the feeling that it might be a bit addictive.

Setting an example

At my school the kids have a Christmas celebration party in the 6th Form. The students go to a hotel or restaurant and have a sit down meal followed by a disco or similar. Oddly these events are always held on a Sunday night and it’s an unwritten rule that the kids needn’t come into school the next day.
I whole-heartedly do not agree with this. Many of the organisers argue that they would prefer it to be on a Saturday or Friday night but they cannot book a venue as it’s so expensive around Christmas. This year I was asked if I’d like to go, but I said I wouldn’t be able to. Not because I was busy but because I refuse to set them this example.
The students seem to drink no matter if they have turned 18 or not in front of staff and then they are let off the hook from school the next day. Is that the kind of behaviour we should be expecting from young adults? Perhaps without supervision, yes. But to actively encourage students to participate in such events, I feel, is unprofessional and wrong. Surely we should just want kids to have fun but respect their responsibilities at the same time?

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Working Life

The rules for office politics and the world of work were not something I was innately born with. Naively I thought that simply attending a place of work would allow me to learn the ropes, as if by magic I would be hardened.
Alas this was not to be; instead I have often stuck my foot in it, been taken for a fool or had my good nature abused. To be fair this was worse before I began teaching. Fresh out of university I hadn’t realised the necessity of learning how to say the word ‘no’ or how it doesn’t always pay to be a know-it-all. It took a few months of mistakes, irritating my colleagues and wearing myself out to learn these lessons. Now as a teacher I find I have to learn many more rules, such as how to network, how to prioritise and still get my work done to a standard I am happy with and how to be tactful. The latter is the most difficult area for me. I am blunt. I don’t think before I speak. I never intend to upset or offend but I have a natural knack for being, how can I put it? To the point!
Teaching can be a bitchy profession. There’s nothing more we like that for someone to do something that gets everyone talking about it. On the other side of this I have never felt more supported in a place of work. I guess you can’t have everything, but perhaps this is the idea for a book that I have been waiting for: How to Keep Your Sanity and Still Survive at Work.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Last night I was invited to a friend’s house to eat pies. Not just any pies though. He’s hoping to start a business selling the British classic of pie and mash in a takeaway. Last night was all about us trying out the pies his supplier makes and giving feedback. Six of us got through 18 pies! We also tried 6 types of mashed potatoes, including apple, garlic mustard and cheesey. All washed down with 3 types of gravy and lashings of peas and carrots.
To say we were all stuffed by the end of it is an understatement! Then it was Focus Group time, where we all talked about what worked, what didn’t and how much we’d be willing to pay for a pie and mash takeaway. My favourite pie was turkey and ham and I loved the apple mash. This was very odd because a) I don’t normally like pies at all and b) the idea of apple mash sounded revolting at the start of the evening.
Next came the problem of the company name… ideally the name should incorporate pie, mash and maybe gravy. The names came thick and fast but few were any good. That it seems is still a work-in-progress.
After all that hard work it was all I could do to collapse in a heap, holding my bulging belly!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

GettingTo Know All About Me

Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, copy, paste, and insert your answers. Don't be a SCROOGE!!!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper unless it’s too odd-shaped to wrap and then I cheat and use a bag.
2. Real tree or artificial? Artifical because although they are plastic and therefore seen as bad for the environment, I hate the thought of a little tree’s life ending because I want to put it into my house for a few weeks. So I have an artificial tree and I love it. No pine needles to tidy up!

3. When do you put up the tree? As close to the start of December as possible.

4. When do you take the tree down? Before the 12th Night of course.

5. Do you like eggnog? I’m not sure I’ve had the proper kind. I love sickly drinks but this might be a bit sickly too far.

6. Favourite gift received as a child? A bike when I was about 10. It was such a great surprise and I never understood how Santa bought my bike and yet my parents knew to buy me a safety helmet!

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No

8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother

9. Easiest person to buy for? Myself! Oh right, erm other people… my students

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Some weird make up that made me look like a drag-queen. Quite a look on a little kid, I can tell you.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Posted and I am trying to make all my own cards this year too!

12. Favourite Christmas Movie? Santa Claus the Movie with Dudley Moore. 80s classic

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I have been known to start in the summer but usually October

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes but I can’t tell what it was!
15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Selection packs.

16. Clear lights or coloured on the tree? White bright little lights

17. Favourite Christmas song? It’s Startin To Look a Lot Like Christmas… Or some other Crooner favourite

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Go to my parents for a festive family day.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Erm… Rudolph… I give up.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star (preferably glittery)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning although there might be one on Christmas Eve to help me sleep otherwise I get too excited.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? So much to do in such a rush – it’d be great to have more time to enjoy each moment.

23. What I love most about Christmas? Seeing everyone as it’s tough to get round everyone too often.

Xmas preparation update

So another week and now it's exactly 3 weeks til the big day! At the weekend I put up my tree, as you can see. Then I made 26 mince pies and got ridiculously excited about the school holidays coming. Goodness knows how the kids'll last til then. The staff will be half dead! The great thing about this being the longest term is that at least there is something exciting to look forward to at the end of the slog.
There's plenty of things going on at school to take up the time though. We're having a staff panto - as in the staff all taking part in a pantomime for the kids. Not sure what my role is as yet but I am sure to be part of it. It's hard to escape!
Back in November my tutor group requested a Secret Santa so there's that to prepare for and then there are muscial performances, theatre trips and prize giving galore.

Mouth Sensitivity

So last week I had my appointment with the Immunologist. I only had to wait 3 MONTHS for the appointment. During this time my food allergies were all over the place. I didn't know what to eat because things that I used to eat every day seemed to be upsetting me. I even had a trip to A&E after eating Quality Street Chocolates!

Actually it's not that funny. It's been a scary journey so far and even now I've seen the Immunologist the future isn't so great. So.... having waited MONTHS for the appointment, of course I was ill the day of it. I woke up the night before with what I will tactfully call gastric flu and spent the day leading up to the appointment feeling half dead.

I arrived at the hospital about 20 minutes early and had to wait for over an hour and quarter to be seen. It's not much fun to wait all that time under normal circumstances but when you're ill it's even worse. I just wanted to lie on the floor and go to sleep! Finally my name was called and I stumbled into his office.

Inside I had an audience! Not only did I meet the Immunologist but he had a mini-crew with him of a GP and a student planning to study medicine. Nice. After repeating my story that I have been telling my GP for months he suggested I have some more blood tests. I'm not sure whether he tested me for anything new but it took 6 vials of blood and plenty of drama to get them for him. Oh yes, and another 40 minute wait for them to take my blood.

By this time the Immunologist was clearly desperate to make his way home because he kept asking if I'd had my blood taken yet. When I went back in I was given his official verdict so far... oral food sensitivity. It sounds kind of rude and it's not a lot of fun. Basically I am not supposed to eat ANY raw fruit or vegetables. At all.

Most people I have told this to have responded with "Oh I wish I had that!" because they clearly need an excuse not to eat fresh food. For me, this is devastating. I absolutely hate not having fresh fruit and salads. I used to easily pack away 7 portions per day with lots of apples etc. throughout the day as snacks. Not any more. I am having to re-learn how to eat to all intents and purposes. I can't even drink fruit juice, eat salad that comes in sandwiches or eat healthy snacks. I am sure there are healthy options but in the meantime I am stuck having to take vitamin pills which I hate and lots of piriton (an anti-histamine). Not so great really.

The one slight glimmer of hope is that it's been decided that it's unlikely I am allergic to prawns and seafood so as soon as the blood tests confirm that I am going to go crazy at the fish counter in Waitrose!! Or maybe go to somewhere delicious for sushi. Best to focus on that happy thought for now.

Taking responsibility

Much as I love my job there is one thing about 6th form students that drives me to distraction… their lack of responsibility. Last year for example I took a class and prepared them for a case study based exam. There was one boy who had grown a bit arrogant after a successful result from his January examinations. All advice and preparation I tried to give was rejected as he’d decided I didn’t know what I was on about as I was a new teacher. He refused to complete mock examinations, practice questions or even attend lessons on time during the preparation time. When the results came out in August however, suddenly it was my fault that he had not achieved the B he wanted.
Now I am having difficulty with some students completing coursework. They do not focus in lessons although they’re not disruptive and they appear to be working. Clearly they are not bothered. They meet deadlines but hand in sub-standard work despite a lot of support. Instead they claim that it’s not their fault that their coursework is poor – rather that they’re stressed, or tired, or didn’t understand. However these are just excuses. I sound like I am trying to pass the buck but I am happy to admit that last year I did not do nearly as good job as I have this year. These kids have had much more support, guidance and help than ever before. Perhaps that is where I’m going wrong. Perhaps students would take more responsibility if they didn’t get so much help.
How are these students going to fare in the future? Will they blame their employer when they are unable to meet a deadline??