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 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!


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!