Thursday, 18 October 2012

Want children? Take this quiz before deciding!

Firstly - a quick apology for the amount of time between posts recently. In a nutshell, things at work are rather strange following the acquisition of our company, and most of it I'm not able to share. So writing a blog on work / life balance is rather awkward when you can't really mention work!

I'm sure normal service will be resumed shortly. In the meantime, I leave you with this test on whether you're ready to have children. I accidentally snorted with laughter in the office when reading it - not the best way to be introduced to your new colleagues!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2218515/Think-ready-children-Hilarious-new-parent-test-taking-mummy-blogs-storm-MIGHT-just-off.html


Friday, 14 September 2012

Office dares

I thought I'd share with you a few things to do in the office should you be bored/ the mood takes you/ you have colleagues with a decent sense of humour/ you're looking to be fired. Can't claim credit for them, you'll find a load more on t'internet - just thought they were amusing!

/...

Thumbs up!
1. Walk into a very busy person’s office and while they watch you with growing irritation, turn the light switch on/off 5 times.
2. Take donuts to the morning meeting, and poke your finger into each one “testing for freshness”.
3. At the end of a meeting, suggest that, for once, it would be nice to conclude with the signing of your national anthem
4. While an office mate is out, move their chair into the elevator.
5. Put those hole-reinforcing circles on the center of your specs.
6. In a colleague’s diary, write in the 10am slot: “See how I look in tights.” (better if the colleague is male)
7. Carry your keyboard over to your colleague and ask, “You wanna trade?”
8. Repeat the following conversation 10 times to the same person: “Do you hear that?” “What?” “Never mind, it’s gone now.”
9. During the course of a meeting, slowly edge your chair towards the door.
10. Send e-mail to the rest of the company telling them what you’re doing. For example, “If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom.”


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No - it's Supermum!

This post is a slight detour from the usual ramblings of my blog.

One of my friends had to make a heroic canal rescue on the weekend when her son forgot to stop peddling his bike and ended up in the drink! It made me think of all the other amazing things that my working mum friends do for their children that are pretty much overlooked as they're seen as just "part of the job". (Not that my friends who aren't working Mum's are anything less than brilliant!!).

Every day these women have to balance a challenging career with ensuring they're doing the best for their family - and most of them do this on very little sleep! They also rarely complain and are always great fun to go out with.

So I thought I'd share just a few examples with you (out of hundreds!) and hopefully you'll share some back.

/...

AS - did a round-trip of 140 miles every Friday, having worked Monday to Thursday, in order to take her son to therapy

ES - commutes a couple of hundred miles each week, leaving at a ridiculous times in the morning because she wants her children to be brought up in a place that offers them the best possible start in life

CA - manages to provide a stable home life for her son even though she's on her own for a couple of months at a time

GG - makes it home for her children's bath and bedtime almost every day (and then works till the wee small hours!)




Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Take time for yourself each week...

This is a phrase that I'm struggling with at the moment.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I like better than to steal an hour now and again to have a massage, take a walk in the park, or luxuriate in a bubble bath with a good book. But doing it every week seems a rather big ask.

I understand all the theories that say you must take care of yourself in order to take care of others. And I did have a minor panic attack when I read that stress releases Cortiol into your bloodstream which triggers fat storage - arghh!!

But the simple fact is, I have two small boys who need constant attention. Additionally - with a nod in K's direction here as we do share the work - I have to run a household and maintain our extended relationships, on top of which I have quite a demanding, and pressurised job which could eat up 24/7 of my time should I let it.

To those nay-sayers - yes, I get that I've chosen to have a career rather than a "job". And that this perhaps adds undue pressure into the mix. But as I have to have a job in order to do little things like pay the mortgage, then surely one that I'm using my brain for and enjoying - albeit also getting additional stress from - is preferable to clock watching?

I don't think there's a silver bullet here. I've spoken to other Mum's about this who are in similar jobs and facing similar challenges. It does seem that as the family gets older, life starts becoming a little easier and "me time" can start factoring into the week again. The most we can do at the moment is be ridiculously well organised to earn us back a few minutes here and there.

One Mum did say that she counts her "Time for Me" as her work time, as it makes her feel that she's fulfilling her potential. That made me ponder for a while, but the question that came back is whether she was really being honest, as if it were a toss up between a day at work and a day in a spa, I know where I'd be heading...




Saturday, 18 August 2012

No - you can be MY wing-man

On Monday, the company I work for will cease to exist as it becomes part of what will be a much larger company. There will no doubt be numerous changes to enable the new look business to deliver value to its shareholders. How this will affect the fragile work/life balance I have constructed for myself over the past few months remains to be seen. But, for now, I'm still in the final throws of my holiday...

I spent last week in the Lake District with my extended family. All the ingredients for a relaxing few days were in place - and then we added four boys between the ages of 1 & 5.

Over 100 renditions of Baa Baa Black Sheep were sung, Old McDonald was rolled out so many times we had dinosaurs and ant-eaters on the farm, and "I spy with my little eye" was molded to suit our slightly younger audience: "I spy with my little big eye something beginning with green and starting with 'e'" - "A tree". Sure. Why not.

One of my favourite moments was in the grounds of an owl sanctuary when we (the older generation!) were reminded of some scenes from Top Gear. Tom Cruise was played by T - the 5 year old and self-appointed leader of the little group. On this occasion he was looking for his "Goose" - aka - his wing-man.

He disregarded O - the 2.5 year old - by virtue of him being his brother. E was similarly cast aside for being too young. Which left C, who at 3.5 years relished the opportunity to prove himself in the role. And to be fair, they gave it a pretty good go. They picked their targets, two pretty little girls, around 5 & 7 years old. They then did a lot of running and jumping in front of them and hooked their attention. Toy owls were brought into the mix and used as fighter jets and it seemed as though they were seconds from sealing the deal. However, the tables then turned.

T & C decided to add "twit-twoo" sounds to the owls which the girls were less impressed with, and then E pulled a blinder. He launched his owl at the girls, forcing them to pick it up and engage with him when they gave it back. He wasted no time in waving and flashing a cheeky grin, and T & C were undone. E had the two girls holding his hands until we reached the gates and went our separate ways.

On this occasion, Maverick & Goose had been outmaneuvered by Iceman.



Friday, 3 August 2012

Olympic fever? What do you think?

I must confess to being a typical cynical Brit.

For the last 7 years a part of me has been looking forward to London hosting the Olympics. Whilst another, larger part of me, has been concerned about the cost, the effect it will have on travel, and whether we'd ever be able to match the spectacular event that Bejing put on.

In the run up to Day One I read the stories about G4S not being able to provide enough security. I watched the reports about how the opening ceremony would essentially be a farm mock-up. And I nodded sagely. Safe in the knowledge that I was right to have concerns.

However, at this point in the Games, I'm glad to eat my words. I thought the opening ceremony was spectacular. Utterly mad and typically British, but nevertheless spectacular. I've had a day off work to go to the Judo where I watched our British woman get a silver medal (having been a fan of Judo for precisely 5 minutes before walking into the stadium!). And I'm thoroughly enjoying watching as many events as I can when I finish work each day.

There's a definite Olympic spirit in Britain at the moment and I'm proud to be a part of it.

What do you think though? Will you be dusting off your hockey stick or settling down with a good book? What about those of you not in Britain? Has Olympic fever hit? 



Monday, 23 July 2012

It's a dog's life

I'm putting together a hints & tips sheet on persuading and negotiating skills. As you would probably expect, my starting point was the internet.

Buried amongst sensible advice such as mirroring people's actions, framing the conversation correctly and  speaking confidently, was this gem:


"Put a photo of you and a dog on your desk. This will give people the impression you're loyal to them and inspire them to be loyal to you."

Certainly not a tip that has been handed to me on any previous training I've been on, I have to say.

I wonder if the type of dog matters? If I had a picture of me and a rottweiler would people make different assumptions than me with a poodle? Would my career path have been vastly different had I kept said photo of myself and random dog on my desk from day one?

I guess some things are just destined to remain life's mysteries...




Friday, 20 July 2012

A drink's too wet without one

I had my third Williams Syndrome Foundation meeting this week. And unlike the other two, nothing untoward happened! I didn't walk in on anyone in the loo, my skirt didn't blow up around my ears, and I even managed to conduct myself with a little decorum (not too much as I am an Essex girl after all!).

Putting the actual business of these meetings aside, I find them very interesting as whilst K & I are just starting out on our journey with E and what it means for him to have Williams Syndrome, a number of people around the table have been dealing with it for years. I learn a lot about what I can expect in the future and pick up handy hints and tips on how to manage any issues when they arise.

I wanted to share one of the stories I heard yesterday that left me chuckling and also admiring the lengths that parents will go to for their children.

As background, people with Williams Syndrome tend to take a long time to get to grips with certain food tastes and textures. Once they find something they like, they stick to it - sometimes to the detriment of all other food. One Dad was talking about how his son had  fixated on Rich Tea biscuits. The boy quite literally ate them by the dozen and they were practically all he ate. One day, to the boy's horror, McVitie's tweaked the recipe (you or I probably wouldn't have noticed, but WS people have very strong senses) and he decided he didn't like them anymore. He was still refusing other food though. So the Dad worked his way through a chain of people at McVities, until he reached the Chairman, to whom he told his predicament. The Chairman rallyed well and the next thing the Dad knew McVities had sent him a load of their old stock so his son could continue enjoying the taste!

This particular Dad is a great source of information to a number of us and yesterday he reminded me that as E is unable to fight for himself, K & I need to do it for him. Not just the big battles - the little ones as well so that E understands that he's entitled to everything that anyone else is entitled to.

Good words of wisdom. So back to that DLA form then...


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Welcome guilt - I've been expecting you

Life has been busy recently. Exciting, crazy and busy and I'd allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security about my work/life balance.

Ignoring the suitcases under my eyes and the fact that I still only have time to put make-up on every few days, I was feeling as though I was actually doing okay with the juggling act. The boys were doing well, I felt quite on top of work and I was even managing to do a few bits and pieces for the Williams Syndrome Foundation.

So of course, in timely fashion, guilt came a-tapping on my shoulder this morning, demanding that I remember it's presence and spend a bit of time wallowing in it.

It came in the form of a rather upset little boy who hadn't seen his Mummy for a little while as I'd had a couple of later nights at work which meant I hadn't been home in time for bedtime, and was topped off by the fact that I went to the Netherlands for the day yesterday to see some colleagues. It was an important visit, we accomplished a fair amount and I enjoyed seeing them. Unfortunately, it meant that I was out of the house before C woke up and home after her went to bed. 

So this morning started at 5.50am with him clambering into bed with me (which is rather unusual as these days he tends to just go and thunder around downstairs). This was swiftly followed by him coming to the shower with me, watching me get dressed and eating breakfast with me. The patter I got from my little shadow went thus:

"Mummy - why aren't you here very much in the new house?"
"Mummy - are you going to come home tonight?"
"Mummy - when is it Mummy & C time?"

And so on, and so on.

I did manage to stem the tide for a while with a well timed present from my trip, but I'm not sure that guilt will be taking a holiday any time soon.



Friday, 6 July 2012

Sports day catatrosphe

I took an early lunch today in order to spend an hour at C's sports day (it's only 5 minutes down the road from my home office).

I was really looking forward to it. However, from the moment I saw the words: "Mothers race" on the programme I knew I was a marked woman.

I hadn't come prepared. I was wearing high heeled boots. And there was no way I could say no and let C down.

The time seemed to speed by. The children did all their races (excellent entertainment!). C won his sprint and did a good job finishing in the hoola and zig-zag races.

And then it was time. The headmistress called up all the mothers. No one moved. She called again. Again no one moved. So I manfully stood up and walked across to the start line. And then there was a flurry of activity as about 40 mothers joined me.

Initially I was fairly relieved (running solo in front a crowd of people isn't high on my wish list!). However, once my initial relief subsided I started feeling a bit concerned. The reason for this concern was that as I looked down the row of Mum's all lining up to do their sprint, it struck me that a fair number of them were actually wearing their gym kit. And when I glanced down at footwear - every one of them had trainers on. Their reticence hadn't been coyness, it had been tactical - to throw other Mum's off guard.

"Ready, Steady - Go!". And we took off. Within the first few strides I'd established that this wasn't going to be some friendly jog to the finish line. This was full on war for some of them. As I was jostled from side to side my competitive spirit kicked in. So I may not be able to jog further than the corner shop at the moment, but this was a 25 metre sprint - and when I was 7 no one could hold a torch to me at that distance.

I dug in. And just as I thought I wouldn't disgrace myself, my heel got caught on the floor. And then the other heel caught. And in slow motion I crashed to the ground.


Nobody stopped to help. They all just ran around me/trampled over me and continued to head for that finish line.

I realised within a second or two that the whole of the nursery and reception school were watching me, so I got up quickly and did a mental check that no body parts were broken. I was about to take a bow when the sound of a thundering herd caught my attention. The Mum's were running back to the starting line. The only option left to me was to join back in with the throng and let the momentum carry me to the end.

To be honest, I'm still blushing now. C and K have of course tried to comfort me in their own way "Mummy - if you run more slowly you won't fall over", "L - at least everyone now knows who you are now!". Thanks chaps.

The only way to redeem myself is to win that d*mned race next year. If I start training now (and remember to wear decent footwear), I may just stand a chance!


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The final countdown

There's an old British comedy called "Some mothers do ave em" and this week I've been reminded of a certain episode on many occasions! It's the one where Frank and Betty (the main characters) move house and as the removal van turns the corner into their road their house falls down. Their bad luck continues and by the end of the day Frank has managed to alienate all their new neighbours and break numerous things in their new place.

I'm very much hoping this is the exact opposite to how our moving day will go tomorrow!

It's all come around extremely quickly - but once we'd made the decision, we thought it best not to hang around.

E obviously has no idea what's about to befall him. C is much more clued in. He's already put dibbs on the biggest bedroom and is making overtures on the vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden and the hoola-hoop tree (we're yet to disillusion him of the fact that it really was just a hoola-hoop stuck in a tree and not a tree that flowers hoola-hoops!).

The packers are currently sweeping through the house putting everything in their path in boxes and I'm looking forward to round two with Jim Davidson tomorrow.

So I'll be logging off from work shortly and will then be without broadband until BT can switch it on at the new place.

See you on the other side!




Thursday, 14 June 2012

Not so much as an ADSL line...

Still a few more days before BT gets us up and running with broadband, but am trying out the blogging ap on my phone (so technically literate don't you know - ahem!).

As day's go, moving day was not the most tranquil I've ever had.

Having my solicitor on the phone to me mid-afternoon explaining that we hadn't completed because Nat West's systems had gone down and there was a distinct possibility that we'd end up being homeless & in breach of contract certainly got the blood pumping.

As luck would have it our money was transferred with minutes to spare and by 8.30pm I was standing in my new kitchen, surrounded by 100's of boxes, looking out into our new garden and breathing in the calm & quiet.

And then of course C came charging in, in his usual "bull in a china shop" way, babbling at the top of his voice - and the spell was broken.

But that's ok. We moved so the boys would have the space to behave like whirling dervishes. And with the park outside our back gate hopefully it'll be easier to wear them out!

So there's still loads to do - not least is obtaining some curtains for the landing so the neighbours can stop being treated to the sight of me on my rather fetching PJ's.

But for now we're in, I've found the wine and the chocolate, and if I can work put how to use the hot water properly i'll be onto a winner!



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

A woman scorned

My apologies in advance but I feel a rant coming on. A short rant I hope. But a rant nevertheless.

We heard back from the DLA yesterday saying that they stand by their decision that E isn't entitled to anything from them. Oh. Okay. Well - I guess if they took into account all of the up-to-date medical and developmental records and he doesn't reach their criteria then we'll live with it.

Hang on.What exactly did they take into account?

Oh - they reviewed the medical records they already had - from 9 months ago. And that was it. So didn't look at any new information from his medical carers or therapists then? Didn't take into account his sleeping issues? Didn't review the fact that he needs special chairs (that cost "special" money!). How about the fact that he has to have a special needs child-carer in order to give him a fighting chance at at developing "normally". Nope? Right. I see.

So now I'm cross. I really wouldn't have minded if this was a judgement based on up-to-date information. I'm not trying to "work" the system. I'm just trying to get a bit of help.

DLA - you have a fight on your hands. There'll be an appeal heading your way shortly. And don't think I won't have dotted the i's and crossed the t's with my legal advisors...




Monday, 11 June 2012

Panto torture

The week before last, in addition to my usual working week I spent 48 hours straight in the office (with the exception of a couple of hours at the hotel next door to freshen up). 

This weekend I spent 2 hours in a theatre that seats 1500 and was full to the rafters with 2-5 years olds. They were screaming and yelling at "Fireman Sam and friends" whilst the aforementioned pranced around on the stage engaging in some well known pantomime antics.

I'm not sure which was worse.

I know. That's an unfair statement. The fact that C thought the Fireman Sam production was the best thing since sliced bread means that of course I'll be doing it all over again when Christmas rolls round. I may just have to fortify myself with a few rounds of vino before going in, particularly if we have to to take to the aisles dancing again...


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Buttercups and kangeroos

Last week the company I work for received a bid on it (to be merged with another company). As you can imagine, it kept me fairly busy to say the least!

Work/life balance was, understandably, impossible for a few days. But as I've mentioned in previous posts  I was provided with some perspective from the children.

I thought I'd share some insight into C's world via some snippets of recent conversations we've had. His view of life certainly brought a smile to my face over a tiring period...

C: "Mary Poppins has left her red ball here. I hope she doesn't want to play with it when she gets home. Perhaps she can play with her play doh instead tonight".

Me: "Look at those yellow flowers. Do you know what they are?"
C: "Yes. Buttercups. And when they grow up they turn into butterflies"

C: "I've never seen a kangaroo Mummy. Perhaps we could pop to Australia today so I can see one?"

C: Mummy. How old is F (his new friend)?
Me: He's almost 5.
C: Wow. [Pause to make big eyes]. He must be able to blow his own nose! (The pinnacle of achievements apparently)

And finally:
C came to tell me he'd fallen over in the garden. I told him he should be more careful. His response was: "I know Mummy. It's the story of my life!".

How nice would it be to live in his world. Just for a little while...



Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Open to the elements

This week is turning out to be fairly tough for me for a number of reasons.

However, I was reminded this morning that there's always someone worse off than you. Today it was the lady who was power walking to work some 200 yards in front of me. She was wearing a short flowing skirt but unfortunately the bottom of it had caught in her waist band, meaning that there wasn't any skirt at the back. She'd also, rather unfortunately, chosen today to go commando.

So I may be sitting in the office rather than lounging in the sun today, and I may also have a slight (ahem) hangover to contend with, but I'm pleased to say that for the moment at least, I'm wearing all my clothes.


Friday, 25 May 2012

These shoes ain't made for walking

Yesterday I spoke at an event for working Mum's in senior positions in media and marketing (M3). It was really great to meet a like-minded group of women - but I almost didn't make it.

Before 9am I had tantrums from C, left my phones at home and had to go back and get them, a pregnant lady throw up on the train (not on me thank goodness), underground trains were up the spout and traffic was gridlocked London meaning I had to run to my event in shoes that definitely weren't made for anything more than looking pretty! When I turned up I have no idea if I managed to look cool, calm & collected or beetroot red and like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards! (I can tell you that I definitely had blisters!).

The day progressed in a similar vein and the icing on the cake was when I limped past our local art gallery after work and read the sign on the window: "This gallery is closed for refurbishment. Our next exhibition will be "strange breasts".

I couldn't get that out of my head - wondering how on earth you would fill a whole exhibition on strange breasts and, to be fair, who would attend. So I looked it up on the internet and was a bit disappointed to see the exhibition would be on "strange beasts". I'd either read it wrong or they'd had a typo on their notice!


Monday, 21 May 2012

This Jack's clearly a dull boy

I was reminded this morning of the English proverb that states:
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". 
I was reminded of it as according to C's school that must be what I am!

They sent numerous letters home last week stating that the following days are coming up (paraphrased):

- Victorian day - please get your little one a victorian outfit to come to school in - can be purchased at the attached URL for around £15. How much??!!- for one morning at school?. Alternatively please view this website and make a similar outfit for you child Erm. I work full-time and really don't have the time (or the skills!) to do that. £15 it is then.
- Jubiliee picnic - please send your little one in something red, white and blue, with a picnic blanket and join us at 2.45pm for a picnic. Lovely. When? Thursday. Oh. I have to work
- Mufti day - please send your little one in non-school uniform with a £ for charity. Okay - they can have that one.
- Parents afternoon - instead of parents evening we have parents afternoon. Please book in a time to talk to C's teachers between 2pm & 4pm one weekday. Oh. Again. I work.
- Summer term production - this will be afternoon in June. We hope you can make it. Again. Not to sound repetitious or ungrateful - but I WORK!!

Question - is it like this with all schools or have we just managed to pick one that caters mainly for stay-at-home parents?


Thursday, 17 May 2012

You're a sexist lot!

Hot off the press, here are the sexism survey results:

- 100% of you think sexism is still rife in this day and age (based on my previous post - couldn't agree more!)
- Interestingly 50% of you identify sexisim as just a male to female thing (50% as both)
- The most sexist among us are (allegedly) aged between 51-70
- The least sexist among us are (allegedly) aged between 0-18, followed closely by 19-35
- 40% of you believe you're secretly a bit sexist!

Well. I would write more but apparently it's back to the kitchen for me!


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Alice Cooper in the mirror

Last night E decided to step it up a notch. Apparently K and I are getting too used to functioning on a 4-5 hours sleep a night, so he dialled it up a bit.

His strategy was simple but deviously clever. Scream from 8pm-2am and then wake every 15 minutes from 2am-5am (5am being morning time in his head).

K got the tougher end of the deal - he took the earlier shift, trying desperately to pacify the crying little man for hours on end. I got the easier end of the night where E's energy was obviously waning and he could only manage to get me up for 5 minutes out of every 15. Not enough time for me to sleep, but enough to lie down and get comfy before volting out of bed again!

So K and I are now battling through a day at work. I'm pretty sure I look like Alice Cooper as I fumbled the eye-liner this morning but couldn't be bothered to redo it. I'm also not convinced my outfit is quite right for the office - but I did a quick check and as I seem to be wearing the right amount of clothes that will have to do.

Today is definitely not a day where I can say that I successfully manage my work/life balance!


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Sexisim is alive & well and living in Surrey

A few weeks ago I posted that we were looking to move. Things escalated quickly - we accepted an offer on our place, found somewhere we wanted to move to, got the solicitors involved and I'm guessing that exchange of contracts is in the not too distant future.

We made a decision that we'll get people in to help us pack and move. Trying to do everything ourselves with two little children just doesn't feel plausible. So I got a few quotes in. One of the companies asked if they could come round to have a look and tot things up properly. Fair enough. Like the initiative.

The doorbell rang at the arranged time (good sign that he's prompt) and I went and opened it. The guy (let's call him Jim Davidson for the purpose of this post) marched straight through the hallway, past me completely, in order to shake K's hand and introduce himself. Hello? What am I? Scotch mist?

For the next 30 minutes he proceeded to totally overlook me. "What job you in K?" "And how's work going then K?". "What's the market doing to your job K?". K was starting to look fairly uncomfortable by this stage. Jim then started on the banter about the "little women" and how they "bleed us dry - am I right, eh, am I right?". At this point K's face was saying "abort, abort!!! My wife is about to explode".

Now don't get me wrong, I'm 100% sure that Jim can do his job, and it's more than likely we'll go with his company. After all, he showed initiative, turned up on time, gave us a good quote and obviously knew his stuff. However, if in the time he's moving us I hear one more sexist quip he may well be getting a tongue lashing in return.






Monday, 7 May 2012

Don't fall on your nose

On Saturday afternoon we took C to his first Rugbytots session. In preparation K "reminded" him of the rules.  He talked in depth about the scrumage, discussed the ruck, commented on positions and penalties and then checked to see what C had picked up. This is what he got back:

"Come on England (C is always England!)! Run really fast and fall down on your nose, and get up and run and kick the ball at the goal really high and it may have snow on it when it comes down. Don't miss the goal."

Well... it's not perfect but it served him well in his training session! I reckon he's a natural.


Friday, 4 May 2012

A pineapple on my head

First of all - a huge thank you to everyone who's been so supportive of us trying to E the help he needs. We'll keep you posted on how the appeal goes.

As we were getting ready this morning, C commented: "Mummy - I really do need to go to school today to do my important work as I just don't have time to do it at home because I'm so busy". (Ensuring that the play doh is firmly stuck to Mummy's work trousers and "posting" money into the radiators takes a lot of time and planning you know).

This got me thinking about multi-tasking and how whilst it's possible (and indeed necessary) at work, it's not the easiest thing to accomplish at home.

At work, it's very usual for me to be on a conference call whilst finishing up an article. Or to have a number of different ideas on the go at the same time. Having said that, I did overhear a colleague on the phone in the office the other day saying: "Oh, I'm sorry, can you ask me that question again please? I was multi-tasking so wasn't listening". Erm. Not quite sure you've got the hang of multi-tasking there mate!

At home though, multi-tasking doesn't seem to work so well. Having a number of things on the go at the same time just means the house looks like a bomb site and if you add the children into the mix nothing ever actually gets finished!

I also don't really like "multi-tasking" my children. I did do it the other day, but I ended up feeling as though I'd missed out. Basically, C talks so much that every now and again I tune out and do something else. He was chatting away about how much he'd grown overnight and how he was so tall now he could almost touch the sky. It's a conversation we've had many time before so I turned my hand to something else whilst making the appropriate noises. When I started listening again it was to hear the words: "..and then I just put the pineapple on my head and went away!". I have a feeling that was a story I would have like to have heard!



So perhaps I just need to accept that whilst I may be able to juggle numerous things at work, at home, it just may not be possible. Easier said than done though!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

People power

Yesterday we heard back from the DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and they told us that we weren't entitled to any help from them as they felt E was a completely "normal" baby for his age.

K and I would absolutely love for this to be the case, but unfortunately it's not.

We're realistic enough to know that when a genetic test comes back saying that your baby has Williams Syndrome - then he has Williams Syndrome.
We're realistic enough to know that when your baby has a heart condition, a hernia, various other medical issues and a team of professional carers, then he's not completely "normal".
And we're realistic enough to understand that when, at the age of one, he's only rolled over twice, can't move or crawl yet and he doesn't sleep for more than 4-5 hours a night - he's not completely "normal.

None of this changes the fact that E is a wonderful little man and one of the happiest babies I've ever come across (!) but we do need the experts to help us encourage him to reach his full potential.



So we're asking for your help please. I've put together a short survey - just 4 questions with multiple choice answers that we'd really appreciate you answering. It should only take a minute. We'd just like to get as many people as possible telling us at what age their child started moving and how many hours they generally slept through the night at the age of 1. We'll then package the result with letters from the Williams Syndrome Foundation and information from E's medical carers, and hope that the DLA come back with a different answer.

You can answer the questionnaire either by clicking on this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y653RZX or by clicking on the box-out to the side of this page.

Thank you!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Children's Mecca, adult's hell

This may sound OTT but if you gave me the choice right now between doing PR for the Murdoch's or spending another couple of hours in a soft play centre, I'd be dusting off my media law books.

Today I was due to meet up with some very good old friends. We all have young children and our original plans were scuppered by the monsoon that was pelting down outside. We collectively decided we were brave enough to face soft play (one for all and all that...) and so it began. It seemed as though there were hundreds of mini-dudes racing around this place. And whilst it was lovely to see everyone, I'm not sure we spoke more than a few sentences to each other, choosing instead to spend our time squirming through playnets with holes in them that really weren't made for adults and hoping like hell that having squeezed our bums into the slides we could manage to pull them out again.



After just two hours I felt like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards and was in need of a very large glass of wine.

Next time, we'll meet at someone's house. Or better still. We'll leave the children behind and meet in a bar!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Imitation is the best form of flattery... hmm

When I walked in on one of the Williams Syndrome Foundation medical board going to the loo at my first Trustee meeting I'd thought the only way from there was up. Turns out fate thought differently.

I attended my second meeting this morning and up to a point it went very well.  I managed to conduct myself with decorum and even contributed some fairly helpful ideas.

However, once the meeting closed I was aware that I needed to get back to my day job pretty sharpish. I route marched to the underground and decided to run down the escalator to get to the tube platform. This is where things took a turn for the worse. There was a fairly strong wind blowing - I was wearing a skirt - and thus my Marilyn Monroe impression began. My skirt blew up around my ears revealing my underwear to some rather surprised French students, an ageing businessman and a couple of workmen. I had no hands available to push it down with as I was carrying a couple of bags, so I decided the best thing to do was to just keep going and get to the bottom of the escalator as quickly as possible (still showing everyone my (luckily fairly new) underwear). At the bottom I smoothed my skirt down, generously acknowledged the staring/smirking public and went on my way.



I've not been put off being a trustee yet but I have to say I'm looking to the next meeting with a bit more trepidation! I'll also be wearing trousers.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Kevin Bacon Challenge

For me, somewhere between my work life and personal life lies the Williams Syndrome Foundation.

Work - because I'm a Trustee of the charity and it's my job (when I'm not doing my "proper" job or looking after the children) to ensure that we raise awareness of Williams Syndrome and spend our (very limited) funds in the best way possible to benefit Williams Syndrome individuals and their families.

Personal - because my son has Williams Syndrome.

K and I were having a think about things the other night. He came up with an idea on how to spread the word and raise a bit of money. I had a few sips of the old vino and the idea spiralled.

So here we are a bottle (or three?) later, 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon and aiming to see how long it takes us to get him to donate / acknowledge Williams Syndrome. On the way there we hope to raise some money, raise awareness and have a bit of fun.

If you fancy joining in, please go to www.justgiving.com/KevinBaconChallenge or text TKBC53 £1 to 70070. Then pass the message on and let's see how long it takes us to get to Kevin.

Viva footloose!



#KevinBaconChallenge

About Williams Syndrome
Williams Syndrome is a rare disorder. Like Downs Syndrome it is caused by an abnormality in chromosomes and shows a wide variation in ability from person to person.

Williams people have a unique pattern of emotional, physical and mental strengths and weaknesses. For parents, teachers and care workers, learning about this pattern can be a key to understanding a Williams person and helping them to achieve their full potential.

It's a non-hereditary syndrome which occurs at random and can effect brain development in varying degrees, combined with some physical effects or physical problems. These range from lack of co-ordination, slight muscle weakness, possible heart defects and occasional kidney damage. Hypercalcaemia is often discovered in infancy, and normal development is generally delayed.



Friday, 20 April 2012

Closer encounters

It appears I worried a few people yesterday with such a serious post! As an antidote to that, as promised in a previous post, I thought I'd share the story of how I met one of my first ever bosses when I went to work for a "well-known high street bank".

I'd just come back from university for the Summer holidays and was all poshed up in my Mum's suit as I couldn't afford one of my own. Thank goodness we were roughly the same size back then! I made the trip up to London without much consternation, found the offices and was shown to my desk. It was an open plan office which was very forward thinking at that time. However, for the purpose of this story it just meant there were many, many witnesses.

The desks were arranged in pods of 6 and my boss came in, sat down on one of the chairs and introduced himself. It was a hot day so being keen and eager I volunteered to get some water for people. There were 4 takers. Off I trotted to the water cooler and embarked on filling up the plastic cups. Now, carrying 4 of these that are full to the brim isn't the easiest job, but I rose to the task and headed back to the desks.

About 5 yards from my destination disaster struck. My shoe got caught in the carpet and, as if in slow motion, I fell forward. The drinks all flew out of my hands and closing my eyes I face-planted.

When I prised my eyes open I expected to see my colleagues drenched in water. And indeed, I did. But that was after I removed my face from my bosses crotch - where it had landed when I tripped over.

So, within an hour of starting my new job I'd drenched my closest colleagues, got myself acquainted with my bosses nether-regions and become the laughing stock of the office. Pretty good going!

Luckily, it was all taken in good humour and apart from the obvious gags that followed (for a fair old while!) I survived to tell the tale...

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Just say no

"Just say no". If only it were that easy.

I'm feeling rather serious today. I have concerns that I'm not managing my work/life balance very well. Strike that. I know I'm not managing my work/life balance very well. My worry is that I'm not not managing my work/children balance very well.

With C it's about whether I'm giving him the best opportunities at school. I was recently invited to a "Mum's night out" but declined as I honestly couldn't fit it in. I did think about juggling other arrangements so I could go along as I'm aware that the Mum's network in schools can be very strong and political. However, something had to give that week - and it was the get together. However, C came home from school today rather despondent which set me to wondering if I did the right thing or if I should be getting more involved to help him build friendships.

With E it's even worse as it's his medical and developmental care, not just his well-being, that I'm balancing. His appointments are still coming in thick and fast - a heart scan on the same day my company has its Annual General Meeting and first quarter financial results, physiotherapy appointment on the day my new boss wants to discuss plans for the rest of the year, etc. It's so difficult to know when to say no - and to whom.

Ultimately I'm a firm believer that things will work themselves out. And logically I know that both my children are fine at the moment. It's just tough to be asked to make these decisions in the first place.

On a lighter note, C and I had a serious conversation recently about why he shouldn't touch radiators. At the end I asked if he understood and he said yes. He then followed up with: "Mummy - I know I mustn't touch radiators but is it still okay to put pennies down them?". So at least I know where my spare change is now!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Practically perfect in every way

Now Mary Poppins is fantastic and I wouldn't trade her in for anything. She's developing E wonderfully and I'm convinced it's down to her that he's as advanced as he is already. She's also the reason that I'm able to go to work and have some sort of life.

However, she does have her drawbacks.

This morning I said to C: "It's E's first birthday on Friday, let's bake him a birthday cake today".
C responded: "Is Mary Poppins coming to E's party on Friday".
Me: "Yes, of course".
C: "Perhaps you should let her bake his cake then Mummy".

We then had a long conversation then that basically ended in a compromise. Me having to admit that Mary's baking was better than mine, but firmly stating that it didn't matter and I was going to be the one to bake E's first birthday cake. C grudgingly agreed to help. Still muttering about how Mary does it better.

I've had a few of these episodes now, either quoting Mary, teachers or worse still - myself back at me!

The other day the four of us went to a cafe for cake and a drink. Myself, K and C all had carrot cake. I was feeding E, so K and C polished theirs off. C then leaned over to mine and took a big chunk. I immediately jumped in saying that if he wanted more carrot cake he should have asked, etc, etc. He looked up at me with his big blues and said, "Mummy - you must learn to share".

Erm. Yes. Quite right.

The fact that his school report says "C has advanced language skills and is able to attempt negotiation on anything he doesn't want to do" makes me think it's only going to get worse from here!

Friday, 6 April 2012

No ambition please - you're a mother now

I was reading a book the other day - written by another working Mum - and she was posing the question: "how much ambition should a working mother have?"

Her conclusion seemed to be that we're allowed to have "some", but too much and people will label us as terrible mothers. (This is something that every mother dreads - it's akin to being compared with the devil).

Her comments riled me a bit though. I'm not saying I'm on on a one woman mission to break that old glass ceiling - lord knows if I were to try and add a couple of nights a week "networking" to my schedule, I may well keel over. Not to mention that I would actually miss seeing my children. However, I'm not at the stage where I'm willing to write off my career just so people won't judge me.

I still believe that I can do a good job and climb the career ladder whilst being a good Mum. And if people want to comment on my parenting skills, they better d*mn well have stayed in my home for a while so they can at least have an informed opinion.

Having said that, apparently in class recently C put his hand up to answer the question "where do aliens come from" and his answer was "Canada". Perhaps a little more time invested in his education wouldn't go amiss!:-)


Sunday, 1 April 2012

There's a fox in the garden

In our infinite wisdom K and I have decided that we don't have enough on our plate and we should add to our workload by buying a new house.

The buying side has so far been fairly straight-forward. We looked at hundreds of houses on the internet,  whittled it down to 4 we liked, took a few hours on a Saturday and went to see them. All good.

Now comes the bit where we try and sell our house. Of course last time we sold a property we didn't have children and we worked full time from the office. It was a fairly simple job of tidying up, going to work, house stayed tidy, people viewed. Job done.

This time round however, it's a different matter. To be fair to the agent, they've done a great job of lining up viewings. Putting times in has been quite difficult though. Nothing in the evening as as the boys will be in bed. Nothing on the days I'm working from home as I have constant calls so they won't be able to view the lounge/study. So afternoon's and Saturday's it is.

Of course, C has added to the drama in his own special way. He takes great pleasure in going round just before a viewing and saying things like "Look Mummy - that's where we found the dead fly". He always needs the loo during every viewing and on two very memorable occasions he decided to run around in the garden playing "Foxy Loxy" and shouting out: "there's a fox in my garden" at the top of his voice. Always a good way to sell the property.

Against the odds though we've had a few offers so we're keeping everything crossed that perhaps we can get through this fairly quickly and relatively unscathed!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Wiggly worms

So I've come across a slight issue with the whole working from home thing. It's minor - but it is an issue.

Today I was on the phone with my CEO. He was in Bangalore and had limited time. The idea was to rush through the agenda points so he could get off to his next meeting.

However, in addition to having the conversation with my CEO, I also had C talking to me from behind the closed door. So my conversation went something like this:

CEO: Can you give me an update on PR activity for this week please?
Me: Certainly - blah, blah (not really blah blah but I'm sure you don't want to hear the details!).
C: Mummy can you see my fingers? They're poking underneath the door. Look!
CEO: Great. And what about the situation in xx?
C: Mummy - can you see? They're like wiggly worms!!
Me: (Hushed voice) Yes C. I can see. (Loud voice) Yes - this is the situation, etc, etc.
C: MUMMY - CAN YOU SEE MY WIGGLY WORMS???

You can imagine the rest.

So certainly not a deal breaker for working from home. But perhaps a note to self to check that C is out in the garden before any important calls take place!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Workaholics?

Last night I sent an email to a colleague at 10pm. This morning she replied at 6am.

BC (before children) I wouldn't have dreamed of still working at that time of night (unless it was over a few bottles of wine!). I'd also have immediately pegged my colleague as a workaholic and struggled to imagine how I'd ever reach her dizzy heights of committment. Now I know better. She's just like me. A working Mum.

Nowadays we have the technology that in theory allows us to have a decent work/life balance. I don't need to spend 9-6 physically the office anymore. I can work from anywhere as long as I deliver results. So if I choose to work from home when I can, and stop work between 5.30pm & 8pm to spend time with my children, that's okay. Of course I do have to finish up when they're in bed - but it's not like I was planning on being out on the razzle, dazzle every night anyway.

So yes, I do send emails at ridiculous times of day and night, but it's not because I'm a workaholic or that I'm trying to prove I work harder than my colleagues. It's because I'm a working Mum who's just trying to fit everything in.



Friday, 16 March 2012

It's acting Jim, but not as we know it

Today I learnt that C is unlikely to ever be a serious actor, although I shouldn't discount comedian or stripper as possible career routes.

His school play went remarkably well - in that they got to the end of it within 20 minutes (good for me as I was only away from work for an hour!). For a play that included 50 children aged 3-5 it was a great success. C decided that the best use of his time when on stage was to pull his T-shirt up and down to show off his podgy tummy, spin round in circles now and again when the narrators got a bit quiet, and then jump up and sit down during the songs. Mind you. Better than the little boy next to him who waited until the boy playing Foxy Loxy passed him, made a gun with his fingers and proceeded to "shoot" him.

Only one little boy burst into tears when he saw his Mum, and the little girl who started pulling her trousers down was stopped seconds before they hit the floor.

All in all - not bad!



Monday, 12 March 2012

Hands that do dishes?

K and I spent this weekend in a spa hotel. The children were looked after by their Nanny and Grandad and enjoyed every chocolate spoilt moment.

Did we feel guilty about leaving them? Of course.

But was it worth it? Oh yes! It was worth it to recharge our batteries, remember who we are when we're not Mummy & Daddy or at work, and to have time to miss the children.

I had a few spa treatments when I was there (if you're going to recharge the batteries - best do it in style!). My hands and feet were moisturised within an inch of their life and it was drummed into me that I should always wear rubber gloves when washing up (something which I'll no doubt forget within the next day or two).

Before my facial I was asked what my beauty routine was. When I replied that I usually managed a 2 minute shower and threw moisturiser on as I ran to my room to get dressed, the poor beautician bulked somewhat. She tried a different tac. How often did I cleanse and tone? Exfoliate? Use a mask?

Now I did cleanse and tone a few times before the children came along but not anymore. And the nearest I get to exfoliating is when we're packed in like sardines on the underground and my face is being grated against the man in front's jacket. Funny enough she cut me off before I could tell her about the various animal masks that C and I wear around the house to make E laugh...

I have to say though, she knuckled under beautifully and my face has never been as clean. Of course I now need to smother it in make-up before heading off to work. But that's life!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It's snot funny

Today I was late for work.

It wasn't because I slept through my alarm - E had us up nice and early as usual.

And I didn't end up wearing the baby's breakfast. (E did spit Weetabix over me but I was prepared and wearing my dressing gown over my work clothes).

What did happen was that as I was giving C a cuddle he sneezed all over my hair. It really wasn't something that I could "get away" with so I had to go through the rigmarole of washing, drying and straightening my hair before legging it to the station to catch a later train.

Not entirely sure what I can do to prepare against something like that. Shower cap until I leave the house perhaps? Although I do have to worry a little bit about what Mary Poppins might think of my sanity when she turns up in the morning and I'm wondering around the house in my dressing gown and shower cap...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Lead tree

I never thought I would be so proud to hear the words: "Mummy, I've been picked to be the lead tree in our play".

C's school is putting on a production of Chickin Lickin that involves the nursery and reception children. He brought the invitation home yesterday and proudly presented it to me. When I asked him if he was pleased to be a tree he said no. He'd hoped to be chicken lickin but one of the bigger boys was picked. He then got excited and said that he was pleased though to be picked as Lead tree. Apparently the "lead" makes a big difference.

When asked what a lead tree does he replied: "I lead all the trees onto the stage". Then I asked if he was a good tree. He thought seriously about it for a while and then replied, "I'm not very good at the moment. I need more practice".

Not entirely sure how much practice is involved in being a tree, but perhaps I'm just missing the dramatic flair!

What I'm not loving is the two days notice I've had to produce his costume. Luckily it seems to just consist of a brown T-shirt and black trousers so I'm pretty sure Mothercare can assist on the weekend.

Of course - the other issue is the fact that C's play is on at 2pm on a weekday so I'll need to negotiate with work for the time off. I'm sure we'll manage to come to an agreement though. After all - I wouldn't want to miss the the start of a budding career...

Monday, 27 February 2012

Crocodile, crocodile

For the past two months, every day that C has gone to school I've worried that he might not make friends, or worse still - he might be bullied. Am I a bad mother for leaving him there and swanning off to the office?

Today my mind was put at rest - for about a minute.

C came home full of the joys of playing with his "best friend" in the playground. He told me over and over again how he, S (girl), D (boy) and B (girl) had played "crocodile, crocodile" (which sounds the same as a game of British Bulldog). After a while though, he was talking more and more about S.

"D is my friend. But S really is my friend so D has to be friends with the others as well". Oh right.
"And S is teaching me to skip". Lovely!
"And I waved at S in assembly this morning". How nice.
"And me and S go in turns to be crocodile". Ah, sweet.
"But S isn't in my class". Oh?
"She's not even in nursery at all". Erm - okay...
"She's in the big girl school". What?!

Turns out that my son who just turned 3 and has spent only 2 months in school is "courting" an older woman. S is in the junior school (albeit I admit she could be in Reception) and ever since day one when she looked after C in the playground they've become close friends.

On the one hand I'm so pleased that C is making proper friends and playing well. On the other I'm a little surprised at a friendship with such a big age gap at his age. His father however is slapping him on the back for it  (!) so perhaps at this stage I'll just remain on the fence and be happy that C has some friends his own age and also someone older who can look out for him in the playground.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Do not throw up on your CEO...

Today I achieved two things of note:

1) I managed the global press communications around my company's financial results
2) I managed not to be sick on my CEO and all over his car (but only just).

Today we told our investors and the press how the business did over the last year. This always culminates in me working a 15 hour day the day before and then going straight into a 6am start. It's never really been a problem before as it's planned and I used to make sure I had early nights the week before and caught up on sleep afterwards. However, this time round it was a bit different and that was reflected in my health!

I've always suffered from car sickness but it does tend to get worse the more tired I am. Having been up for a few hours every night for the past couple of months with E and spent my "downtime" running around after C, with hindsight I didn't really stand a chance.

The day started well and progressed at speed as we ran through calls, presentations, tv slots, etc. We then had 25 minutes to do a 30 minute journey across town. That's where the fun began. Our driver was trying to make up the time and started dodging and weaving through the traffic. Start, stop. Start, stop, Start... urgh. My CEO began shifting about nervously in his seat. I began breathing heavily to hold the sickness back. The driver wound the windows down.

The question on our lips was - would we pull up at our destination in time or would the CEO end up wearing my lunch?

Lady luck was smiling down on me as we pulled over just in time. The driver literally leapt out of his seat and opened the door for me so I could tumble out (full of grace as always!) and take a big gulp of air.

My CEO's suit survived this time but I wonder how keen he'll be to get back in a car with me?

E needs to start sleeping through the night - and quickly!!


Monday, 20 February 2012

Schizophrenia

So my conclusion after being back in the rat-race for a month now is that being a working Mum is like having your own special type of schizophrenia.

On the one hand, I love being back in the midst of business, dressing up smart again and making decisions. I'm proud that I can develop ideas that will make a difference to people and I love being up-to-speed on current affairs.

On the other hand, I love that when I'm with the boys they wouldn't care less if I walked round in my dressing gown all day. I'm proud of the fact that C was picked to be "Mother Duck" at school and got to do the "quack quack's" in the song, and it's relaxing to know that as long as I can come up with an answer to why Postman Pat doesn't change out of his work clothes when he gets home but C has to change out of his school uniform - it really doesn't matter if I'm struggling to form an opinion on the latest political policies.

The tricky part is not letting these two personalities overlap. When I've had a tough day at work all I want to do is flop down on the sofa with a glass of wine. What I actually do is put a smile on my face and play robots or pirates until bath and bedtime.

When I've had a tough time with the children all I want to do is flop down on the sofa with a glass of wine. What I actually do is put a smile on my face and crack on with the latest campaign.

While it's a tough juggling act, I do think it helps make me a calmer person in both lives. The challenges and issues that would seem so important if I was only doing one of my "jobs" balance each other out, meaning that I gain some perspective.

So the big question then is - when do I get that glass of wine?!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Welcome to Holland

This morning the portage representative came to see us. Whilst prior to her visit we'd been worked up that it had taken so long for E to enter the system, we're now just so glad it's finally happened.

There's a stack of help available in the area for E, from therapies to play groups to swimming lessons. And support groups for parents should we want to join them.

As it's half term C was at home and he felt that he should show off his brilliance to the portage lady. So he was building lego bridges, hopping on one leg and generally showing off. This is the same boy that spent half an hour yesterday running in small circles trying to see his own back...

During the portage visit I was reminded of a short story called Welcome to Holland which is about joining the club you never wanted to join - the disability club. It sums up really well how parents tend to feel about having a disabled child and I thought I'd share.

/...

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Snow & wisdom

"Wisdom comes from Experience. Experience comes from the lack of wisdom". Terry Pratchet.

I was reminded of this quote this morning when a chat with C made me feel like a bit of a guru.

He was, as always, delighted that it had snowed overnight and pretty much as soon as he opened his eyes he said: "Mummy, the other night I was thinking. One thing is - is snow wet?".
 Me: "Yes".
C: "And I was thinking, is snow cold?"
Me: "Yes. And did you know that the temperature outside has to be cold for it to snow. If it was warm it wouldn't snow".
C: "Hmm. No Mummy. I didn't know that. You're very clever"
Me (a little smugly): "Well, yes..Thank you.".

Ah - the things we learn with age...

On a separate note, I think I almost lost E to the other children and Mum's in the school playground this morning. Due to the snow he was dressed up in a bear costume (looked like a little Ewok) and apparently his fans couldn't get enough of it. He of course loved the attention and held court like a pro.

Oh - and to the one and only Prada Mum who still felt that high heeled shoes and three quarter length trousers were a good way to go this morning - I'd have a rethink!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Disease & pestilence

Over the past few weeks I've been idly wondering what would happen if one of my children got sick. I.e. - how bad would they have to be for me to take time off work as opposed to asking Mary Poppins to give them a spoonful of sugar.

Well - today I found out.

We still keep a monitor in C's room as he sleeps with his door shut & I just like to keep an ear out. I think that monitor may have saved his life today. About 6.15am E and I were downstairs and I heard C coughing quite badly. I waited for him to call out but there was silence. And then there was very heavy, very laboured breathing. So I raced upstairs to find him in the middle of an asthma attack.

After about 30 minutes I managed to get him calmed down enough to breath a little more easily, took his temperature (38.5 degrees C) and made the decision to take as much time off work as necessary and get him to the doctors asap.

Then came the moment that all mother's dread. The curse of the doctor's surgery. Before getting to the doctors my children can have a temperature of 40 degrees C, they can have cried for hours and hours and be completely unable to form words. As soon as we step into the surgery something akin to magic happens. Their temperature drops to normal, the tears dry up and they appear to not have a care in the world - leaving me feeling like a complete doughnut. And this is pretty much what happened today.

We got into the doctor's room and whilst I was stuttering my way through the fact that my child had nearly died this morning, C was asking to borrow the doctor's "telescope" (read stethoscope), telling her that he didn't want any banana medicine but Calpol would be fine, and asking if she'd like him to sing Twinkle Twinkle to her.

To be fair to the doctor, she did apparently see through C's banter and we came away armed with prescriptions for various inhalers.

C continued to improve throughout the day and I decided to work in the afternoon - albeit from home.

So I guess I now know what I'd take the time off work for. Let's just hope it doesn't happen again any time soon!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A special kind of torture

Last night I found myself once again quietly negotiating with E about his sleep habits. Actually negotiating isn't the right word - more like begging.

For the last 4 weeks he's woken up between 7 & 13 times a night, finally getting up at 5.15am. K (husband) has been getting up with him in the morning when he can to try and give me an extra hour in bed - but it's not enough to function properly. (NB: thank God for make up - such a wonderful invention!!).

When I was on maternity leave the situation wasn't ideal but it was manageable. Now I'm working again - it's definitely not manageable

If a colleague asks me a question at 7am they'll likely get a considered answer and some additional suggestions. By midday they'll get a decent answer but by 5pm all bets are off.

A friend of mine happened to mention that due to the snow she'd turned her heating up and as a result her baby had slept much better. So I decided to put an extra babygro on my little man. And I think it may have changed my life. He still got up at 5.15am - but had only a couple of very short wake ups in the night. It could be a fluke - but it could be he's been cold.

On realising this I immediately started berating myself for being a bad mother. But then I stopped. I'd done everything by the book - put him the right clothes, kept his room at the right temperature and made sure his sleeping pod was the right tog level. It's just that E hadn't read the same book.

So rather than wallow in gulit I've decided to chalk this one up to experience - and rely more on instinct than books in the future.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Playground update

[Disclaimer on typos or anything that makes no sense - I've been doing budgets all day and my head is due to explode shortly!].

So - it was another trip to the playground this morning.

This time I was prepared. I showered and washed, dried & straightened my hair. I laid out my Desigual coat, my Orla Kiely bag and my heeled boots. And then I had a rethink.

I wasn't convinced that I wanted to be tottering along on heels when I may need to run after a very energetic 3 year old. And I didn't want to be wearing a ridiculously expensive coat when my 9 month decided to bring his breakfast back up.

So I ended up being clean but wearing jeans and my warm jacket again. I had cunning plan though. I was going to befriend the Prada Mum's so that they'd see past my lack of designer labels...

When we got to the playground C immediately started playing with a boy in his class so I approached his dad and introduced myself. He took one look at E in the pram and very bluntly told me he thought I was mad for having two children and hoped I had money to burn as didn't I realise I'd be spending around £50,000 on their education alone. I muttered something about not planning to buy them diamond encrusted school bags and backed off.

I was tempted to leave it there when a little boy called out C's name and his mum commented that she'd love to meet C as she'd heard a lot about him. I turned round and came face-to-face with a lady wearing jeans & a big coat (what excellent taste)! We started chatting and oddly enough a couple of the Prada mum's came over and joined in.

So this evening I very smugly told C that Mummy had made friends this morning. He asked who with and I said "J's Mummy, H's Mummy & D's Mummy". C then asked what their "real" names were and I realised I didn't know.

Ah well. One step at a time.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mortified

Today I had one of those "it could only happen to me" moments.

As background, my youngest son has Williams Syndrome and a few months ago I was approached to become a Trustee of the Williams Syndrome Foundation - which I agreed to. Today I was officially voted in and sat in on my first Board meeting and Medical Panel meeting.

The Board meeting went well - the Foundation doesn't have much money but what it does have it uses wisely.  We then had a short break before the medical team arrived so I checked my emails and voicemails, made a quick call and decided to have a loo break before heading back into the room.

I found the unisex toilets and whilst none of the doors were open they all looked vacant. (You can start cringing now because you've probably guessed what happened). I flung open the door of the middle trap to find myself looking at one of the key members of the medical panel (I won't say which one as I should spare our blushes!). I stuttered a few words of apology, decided not to introduce myself at that point and legged it into a different toilet.

The person in question disappeared out of the loos at a fairly impressive rate and I stayed to collect my thoughts for a minute or two. I then calmly walked into the meeting room, tipped them a wink & a smile and  carried on as if nothing had happened.

So not the most impressive start I could have hoped for, but I've had worse. One day I might find it therapeutic to write about my university holiday job and the first time I met my boss there. But perhaps not today.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Mobile dry-cleaning?

So I have a question. When do I get time to do the mundane things such as dry-cleaning?

The other night I was due out for drinks after work. They were local so I rushed home in time to do bath with the boys before heading out. I should have known better but I didn't cover up my suit and the next thing I knew E had weed all over it.

No problem. It was discarded and a handy pair of black trousers were pulled on to go with my blouse. Just before I left I perched E on my lap to have a cuddle and he threw up all over my trousers (I know - will I ever learn to wear that dressing gown until the bitter end?!). Again - a quick change and I was out of the door.

So now I need to find time to get my clothes to and from the dry-cleaner before I run out of suitable attire and end up going to work in my PJ's.

There must be such a thing as a dry-cleaning delivery service. I think I'll look into it...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Daddy or chips? Daddy or chips?


Which is more important? Well I’m not really trying to choose between Daddy or chips – the little girl on the advert did that long ago and we all know how well her poor Dad fared in that decision.

It’s more that this describes how I’m feeling at the moment.  I’ve hit my first dilemma of having to pick between work-life and home-life.

At work we have our financial results coming up. It’s an important time for the company and it’s crucial I'm on top of everything – from what the numbers look like to what time our CEO may be able to have a loo break on the day! Having just rejoined I need to demonstrate that I’m still able to run my part of this event like clockwork. A key planning meeting with the “powers that be” is scheduled for two week's time on Tuesday at 4pm.

I’ve also just received a letter that says we’ve finally hit the top of the waiting list for E’s portage (early stage development such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy). It’s an appointment we've been waiting for for 7 months and is crucial to his development. Apparently the coordinator will be round to talk to us in two week's time. On Tuesday. At 4pm.

Looking at it objectively, obviously E's care has to come first, but it frustrates the career woman in me. I'm going to mull over options for a little while longer before hitting the button that says I can't make the planning meeting.

PS: I worked from home today and when C came home from school I overheard him stating categorically to Mary Poppins that he has a very busy day at work today and so doesn't have time to get changed out of his school uniform. He "needs" to just start playing now to make sure he can fit it in. I don't know where he gets it from...

Friday, 27 January 2012

Playground politics

This morning I got to exchange my suit & heels for jeans and slippers as it's a working from home day (WFH).

I've been looking forward to WFH as it means I can do the school run for C before starting work - something that Mary Poppins has to do every other day. Some of you may be shocked to know that I skipped my shower this morning in favour of mooching over breakfast a bit longer (gasp). I figure if I'm working from home I can find 10 minutes somewhere to stand under the water.

We were all bundled into the car by 7.50am and the journey to school was fairly uneventful, punctuated now and again with little pearls of wisdom from C such as "snails wouldn't be so slow if they rode bikes" and singing some rocking songs such as "The wheels on the bus" and "Nelly the elephant".

I realised when I walked into the playground that I'd made a rooky error. With my non-washed hair, jeans & puffer jacket I didn't exactly fit in with the blow-dried fashion models that were dropping their children off. Playground politics just hadn't featured on my radar - what with settling back in to work. C decided I should also be the only Mum running around the playground with him like a lunatic so I threw myself in wholeheartedly and indulged in a bit of hopscotch whilst waiting for the classroom doors to open. Then, under the pitying glances of the quaffered Mum's, I manoeuvred C over to his seat and got the hell out of there.

Negotiating the rush hour traffic (and having listened to the nursery rhyme CD all the way home for no apparent reason) I tumbled in the front door at 8.55am - practically throwing E into the waiting arms of Mary Poppins so I could get onto my international conference call that started at 9am.

Next week I won't be dallying over breakfast - I'll be in that shower & prepared for the fashionista's. Until then, I'm filing away for later the philosophical discussion that C kicked off about "when Daddy had long hair was he a boy or a girl?" and am focusing back in on Cloud Computing and the global economy...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Supported by Desmond Tutu

Being back in the working world means I'm once again up-to-speed with current affairs (a double edge sword that deserves a later posting all of it's own).

For now, I wanted to share the words of Desmond Tutu in a speech he gave at Davos yesterday to our world leaders:

"We won't make it without the women. Men won't make it alone. Women need to be included. What we need is a revolution led by women. The men are making a mess of it".

Well. How about it ladies? I'm up for joining the revolution. I imagine I could fit it in between the job, taking the boys to their appointments and running the household. Sleep was always over-rated anyway.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Squeezing into work clothes

Back to work day and sadly it's not so much a case of "does my bum look big in this" but rather "will my skirt split when I sit down"? I've been on the crash diet and managed to lose just enough weight to squeeze back into some of my larger my work clothes but it's going to involve a lot of sucking my stomach...

Mary Poppins (aka our new Nanny) is due to arrive at 7.30am, just minutes before I need to leave for the station so I have to make sure I'm showered, my clothes are clean and my hair and makeup are firmly in place, that C has had breakfast and is in his school uniform with packed lunch ready to go and that E has had his nappy change and breakfast. I also need to tidy the house a bit so the Nanny doesn't think we live on a bomb site. Luckily (?) I have no need to set the alarm as E has decided that if I'm working all day he best stay up all night to play. So we're all downstairs by 5.15am. Joy.

C comments that he doesn't like my work clothes and thinks I should stay home with him as he'd prefer that to going to school (guilt trip is tucked away for the train ride so I can wallow properly).

7.20am and I'm almost done. I may just manage this whole working Mum thing after all.

7.21am - E spits milk and Weetabix all over my suit. Note to self. In future wear dressing gown over clothes until the last minute.

Back to the rat-race

In the modern world us women are supposed to be able to have it all. We're all able to hold down a career whilst managing our family, enjoying a full social life and maintaing a healthy lifestyle. Ahem. If someone could just hand me the blueprint for this that would be great.

I'm a Mum of two boys - C who's just turned 3 and E who's just turned 9 months. They both have enough energy to power a duracel battery for years and in addition E has Williams Syndrome which means he has medical and developmental issues. Whilst I love them both dearly I also have a great job that I've worked hard for and want to keep (pretty sure my bank manager wants me to keep it too!). As such, I've made the decision to go back to work this week.

I figure I'll keep a blog about my experiences as it may help other Mum's in the same position and provide a few laughs along the way. I'm guessing there may also be a few of you out there who could add to my posts with your experiences.