Inflatable You

Normal Sunday night service has resumed in the Geek household thanks to a new gadget the arrived today.

Sunday night requires an almost Beatrix Potter style scrubbing up of our children to once more make them presentable for school (and the general population ). Baths are run, hair is washed and the coming week is talked through over dinner as if no one uses a calendar. Actually, I’ve tried getting us all to synch calendars, but have met more resistance than Darth Vader. Apparently, telling everyone on a Sunday then promptly forgetting is a much better option. I digress.

My own version of this Sunday night pre-school scrubbing has included Mr Geek lifting me in and out of the bath which has not been fun for him, and equally been quite painful for me. (Straddle the side of the bath… without bearing weight on your legs….exactly). However, we’ve coped whilst we have scoured the internet for alternatives. On the advice of a friend,  we’ve been trying to locate an inflatable bath lift and found quite a number online.

Whilst searching for “inflatable bath lifts” we found some bizarre things online, that would make so much sense if you were living in a tiny house. Who knew inflatable bath tubs were a thing?! They zip up to keep the heat in and everything! (Kudos Japan)

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And then there was the giggling at the idea of trying to fold me into this (breaking bad anyone?)

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In the end we stopped being amused at the ingenuity of the Japanese home styling and found a serious contender for my Get Mrs Geek in The Bath mission. Look at how pleased this lady is to have hers!

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Anyway, this is the model we decided would suit us best as:
I can control it
It will get me to the actual bottom of the bath
It doesn’t have any hard bits that will damage the bath (or me)
It’s small enough to roll up & hide in a cupboard when I’m not using it so it’s discreet.
And, the back remains inflated so if I do get a bit potsy and faint, it holds my head up (bonus!)

But brand new, it’s  £500. For an inflatable chair.

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So we hit ebay and found a second hand one locally for a teeny bit less than £100 and waited hoping no one would bid. It’s a bit faded, but it did the job and tonight we bathe!

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I may not be able to wash my hair on my own, but I can push a button and lower myself into bubbles.

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There’s Something About Sunday… It’s the Yorkshire puddings.

There really is something about Sunday that makes it realistically essential to my sanity. This stems from a mixture of time to sort out my life & food.

I got up late this morning after LSH let me lay in until 9.30 (bliss!) as I’d been up half the night coughing like a plague victim. I needed sleep. I needed my body to just get on and heal itself.

So at 9.30 I dragged myself downstairs to drink the final cup of coffee from the machine and commence on the standard Sunday morning homework marathon (them doing it, me marking it!). I find this quite relaxing now as they know Sunday is homework day – there’s no arguments, just get on with it. And now beanpole likes her teacher, she’s throwing herself into her tasks!

LSH took the girls over to his mum & dads at around 11, leaving me at home due to the evil germs that I really don’t want to share around. So, I carried on with various prep & marking bits until 2 then put away some laundry until they got home.

Our afternoon was spent with TinyPants drawing, making dens and playing strange computer games whilst Beanpole and I made a start on her take home task (like homework, but long term) which she’s chosen to do on dinosaurs (huge surprise)… The task is to chose a time and place in history that you would like to travel back to & make a scrapbook about what went on there. She’s throwing herself into this one!

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The best bit about Sundays is that we have time to cook. Traditionally, it’s a roast, and today we’ve got roast chicken with all the bits. Especially Yorkshire puddings.

These are my domain & today’s are sage & onions yorkshires.

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They start off looking a bit weird, but then I sit in front of the oven threatening to maim anyone who dares to open the oven as they start to rise….

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Wow, my oven needs cleaning… Well that’s on the list!

After this stage, it’s basically witchcraft to get them to this stage….

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Cue one big family dinner, bath time all round and ready for another week at school 🙂

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Sunday Smells

It rained today. All day. Add to this that LSH has a streaming cold (which could take him from us at any time) and today looked like it wasn’t going to go well.

As it turned out, today was possibly one of the most relaxed weekend days I’ve had in weeks. All down to the new routines we have in place for ‘helping’ and my lax attitude to childcare.

This morning started with the smell of bacon. There is no better smell to wake up to (unless Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow doesn’t smell of bacon). And as I staggered downstairs in ruffled pyjamas and make up spread down my face I realised that not only was LSH cooking breakfast, I was up in time to get in on the action! I claim Sunday morning pre-9am my time to be completely incapable of logical thought or conversation. I’m not that much better most other mornings, but Sunday morning I verge on finding Nick Jr an academic challenge.

Breakfast done, I could smell coffee freshly brewing and this liquid nectar was just the thing needed to kick start our Homework Hour. In previous weeks, this has been horrific. Tears, snot, shouting, threats and full on sit down protests have ensued since the start of September (not just from me). But the last few weeks we have learnt about GoHenry and the power of pocket money! (The nice thing about this is not only do they get bonuses for tasks like actually doing their homework, I can deduct money for poor behaviour) They are mercenary little souls, but homework was got out, completed without fuss and done well.

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They instantly both logged onto their GoHenry apps to make sure next weeks pay reflected their newfound efforts, which it did. Payday is Saturday, so they still have to wait a full week for their money, but they can see it coming and both are budgeting their sweets accordingly. BeanPole even started her take home task by designing an Ancient Greek vase that she is determined to make and paint. She used a photo found online “but left out the Minotaur’s willy in case Mr T gets cross”.

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After an unusually pleasant homework session, it was my turn. As I sat down, the smell of LSH preparing the pork joint for slow roasting wafted through the house… Mmmm…..Session three of marking and planning for this weekend (I’m breaking it down into 3-4 hour chunks). I set a lot of tests this past week and I’m paying the price this weekend. The upside of this is the lovely progress graphs I’m collating for the term so far. This is a long half term and right now graphs are making me happy. I feel more organised and the more I feel I need to chase people to catch up, the more coloured conditional formatting I use. I am an INFJ – I need to feel in control!

A full 10 hours of marking and planning since 5pm Friday night and I feel back in control for tomorrow. I don’t begrudge this time. It’s what is needed to be effective and give the kids my full attention when I’m at school. I am pleased that I got it all done though.

While the kids played on various computer games & LSH fell asleep in front of the Grand Prix, I snuck into the kitchen with the iPad and attacked the groaning pile of ironing. The smell of the slowly melting pork loin mixed in with the lavender steam from the iron for the next two hours made the house smell lovely and warm in cold contrast to the continued miserable weather outside. Over the course of two hours I pressed and folded what felt like every item of clothing my children own, being kept going by a marathon catch up of Miranda and Mock the Week. I giggled my way through tedium.

Next followed something truly shocking. Having placed each child’s clothing in a personalised pile, when asked to take them upstairs and put them away nicely….. They did! No arguments, noises or arm swinging. I checked. In shock, I duly ticked off the ‘put clothes away’ task on GoHenry and thus another 50p was added to next weeks payday.

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Dinner finished by LSH, I frantically finish the apple crumble as everyone sits down to eat. Mum is shattered after being in work all weekend – more to follow on that next week… But dinner smells amazing. LSH makes a mean roast dinner and the 6 of us always make a point of making Sunday dinner a family meal. We talk. Or ‘debate’. And the kids make everyone laugh.

After dinner, it’s bath night. The kids are duly scrubbed clean for Monday morning. Hair is washed, and the lovely orangey scent of their shampoo makes me want to hug them tight and sniff their heads once I’ve dried their hair and snuggled them up warm in their pyjamas. This is not to be though as they opted so spend some of yesterday’s earnings on sweets which they had for pudding instead of my apple crumble (rude!) and were subsequently bouncing off the walls. Ah well, it’s LSH’s turn for bedtime. So while he reads them something in a low monotonous voice in the hope of boring them to sleep, I can sink into a lovely Radox filled bath and contemplate just how nice today was. And that Sundays smell really nice.

I’m Just a Little Black Raincloud (who won’t do her homework)

It’s been a Sunday. We’ve built up a bit of a routine here. Sunday morning is Homework Morning. I have planning to do for the week ahead and it’s the optimum time for BeanPole to address her 2 hours or less of ‘home learning’.

So this morning we started at 8.30. I sat and in between ranting at her for her lack of any productivity, I spent 4 hours creating an array of worksheets, test papers and death by PowerPoint for my lucky lucky students. BeanPole stropped, sighed loudly, scribbled, doodled, and when this did not have the desired effect cried, sobbed, and snotted on her homework sheets (did I mention, she has a mild cold that is putting her at imminent risk of death? The rest of us have the sniffles.). Eventually, my mum ushered her up to their room where she used mum’s desk to actually do her work before I throttled her. Seriously, how hard is it for a G&T 8 year old to write a list of adjectives and ten sentences?! She has a reading age of 13! It took her THREE HOURS.

LSH and I are holding onto the fact that eventually, the more we push the regular time for homework thing, the easier the habit will be and we won’t be having this screaming match with her when she gets daily homework at high school. We’re in denial. Please don’t let this continue for the next 10 years.

My head hurt and being a believer in fresh air, we headed out for a walk. We went to the one place where our family walks MUST take place every autumn!

Back in 2006…

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And then again today…

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Same tree, same family. This is affectionately known as ‘our tree’ – it’s looked like it’s on it’s last legs for years. I love this place. It’s where The Gruffalo used to live when they were diddy. Now it’s a playground for survival camps and catching weird wildlife.

It’s always nice to witness IT Consultant in outside of his natural environment (yes, iPhone in hand, but he was just geotagging the walk….)

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The walk was lovely, and as hoped did all of us a lot of good. The kids when combined with mud, instantly forgot their germy moaning. There was no bickering. Just squishing through the woods with the occasional rushing into the bushes with cries of “I’m Bear Grylls!!”.

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We found things hopping around (thankfully, Miss Grylls decided that eating the frog wasn’t on the agenda).

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As we walked conifers conkers (argh autocorrect!!) were discovered and collected.

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And we collected a bag of sweet chestnuts which have been stored for roasting later on during the week. (Get us foraging for food!)

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Throughout the walk we found a variety of mushrooms – generally unidentified, but very pretty (wont be eating them!).

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Finally, it was back home to make the final bits of the roast ham dinner that had been sitting in the slow cooker in brown sugar for the past 5 hours contemplating its fate. And a resounding success with the Yorkshire puddings! Extra eggs in the batter. Who knew!

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And the cat agreed, we’ve ended the weekend rather relaxed!

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Fresh air. Curing all ills from homework tantrums, to the common cold!

Mass Observation Day – my little piece of history

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In 1937 Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night on 12th May. This was the day of George VI’s Coronation. The resulting diaries provide a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of people across Britain, and have become an invaluable resource for those researching countless aspects of the era.

The Mass Observation Archive is repeating this call on 12th May 2013. The resulting diaries will be stored in the Archive alongside the 1937 documents. May 12th 2013 is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for those researching, the ‘ordinary’ can often provide extraordinary results. And here is my own submission ( check out the mass observation website for lots more on this).

And for legal purposes: I donate my 12th May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publicly available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications and in broadcasts as approved by the Trustees.

12th May 2013

I am a 33 year old married woman from Worthing (On the Sussex coast of the UK). I am a mother of two, a teacher of Computer Science to young people aged 11 – 18 and I’m not only submitting this entry to Mass Observation, but to my own blog where it will reside alongside many other public musings.

I live in a middle class area of the South East and according to recent surveys I’m quite the liberal, although I voted green last time and loudly state that I would rather fire staples into my various body parts than put my vote anywhere near David Cameron and his conservative loonies (ooh that got a bit political! Moving on!). I live in a three bedroomed house with my husband of 8 years, our 2 children and both my parents. Why? It’s the house I grew up in and financially it worked better short term for us to knock half their house down, extend and remodel than to buy our own property. Again, short term, my dad could retire and look after the kids while I went to work. Long term, it means we can look after my parents when they are older without the awkward conversation of ‘come to live with us’. It’s fluid. And everyone, after one hell of an adjustment period is much more secure and stable.

Today wasn’t really a typical day for us. I am a stickler for routine and today would usually see a gentle morning where the kids watch cartoons and Tom & I gather our mental fragments together, glueing them with coffee. After that it’s out to visit his mum and dad with perhaps a dive into hobbycraft (for yet more wool to feed my crochet habit). Then home for roast dinner and baths all round.

Except today was different. For the first time in ages Tom was out for the day with his dad to visit the bluebell railway for a spot of male bonding (and a manly picnic). So with no husband and our usual routine wrecked I had to wing it. I was a bit dubious, but hell, I can wing it with a class of teenagers, how hard can a 7 and an 8 yr old be? (Yeah, read on). We were up by 7am and cooked some breakfast. The girls and I had our things packed and ready by 9am, so we borrowed dad’s car (Tom had ours) and drive up to the Wetlands trust in Arundel where we have been members since the girls were babies.

We love it here and the view is just brilliant.

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Within minutes, the girls had found ducks to feed who were instantly followed by gorgeous fluffy little ducklings. Some have hatched quite late this year so we’ve had several months of popping up here to do the obligatory “squeeeee!”. I sometimes wonder if I love it here more than the girls do.

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I am passing on a tradition of feeding ducks from my hand onto the girls who as soon as a duck approaches assume the ‘duck feeding position’ of quietly crouching with a flat outstretched hand. Excitement always gets the better of them once the ducks clatter away at their skin and they giggle so much all the seed drops down. For the first time ever today they were approached by a pheasant. They usually scatter when they see people, but this one was as bold as brass taking seed from their hands!

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We finally got too cold by 11.30 and decided to go in with promises of coming back soon (with unlimited entry, they should consider charging us rent!)

As we left, the girls noticed that the pond outside is teeming with tadpoles. It was tadpole city. To the point where it was just a little bit icky. In the absence of ‘daddy’, I made the obligatory joke “Tadpoles. Thousands of em” ……. Silence…..sideways glances…… Ok, fine.

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We drove home with lunch in mind, but I was instantly sent back out the door with a shopping list for Tescos. So mum watched the kids while I went out to get ‘a few important bits’ and ended up getting distracted by stationary (damn you Tesco and your product placement). I stopped to top up on petrol on the way home confusing the elderly couple behind me by using pay at the pump which to them appeared that I’d legged it without paying! (Although who’s robbing who at £1.48 per litre?!)

Lunch was sandwiches and salad then I settled the kids at the dining table with their homework while I logged onto the school VPN via my laptop and commenced some serious controlled assessment marking. I had to finish this as we are moderating each others marks tomorrow and I want everything to be perfect. I’ve already handed over the behemoth projects for the A Level guys and we have until Tuesday afternoon to have everything finished. (Cue me having difficulty breathing and needing a stiff drink). The girls were brilliant and busied themselves until I had finished, even taking themselves off for a bath, after I’d painted their faces while I took a quick break.

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…. Or so I thought. Actually in playing in the bath, they flooded the bathroom and I walked into find our eldest trying to mop up water with a towel and a flannel. They spent the next few minutes (read 60) in their room with only a book for company while I cleaned up the mess. Quite possibly my own fault for attempting to work in the same building as children. May sucks for teachers. Fact. In fact I reached new highs of crappy parenting, leaving them in their rooms for an extra 5 minutes while I put the detail on my nails that I had done yesterday. That extra 5 minutes of peace was worth weeks of therapy!

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Finally, mum and I cobbled together something that resembled a roast dinner but with pork chops and we all say down to eat. Tom got home just as we were about to have pudding and so ate whilst I took the girls up to bed.

I am appalling at doing bedtime and tonight was no exception. Instead of having a quiet conversation with the girls where we found out the word for things in Spanish (we’re learning for our summer holiday), we ended up with ‘test mummy to see if she can work THIS one out!’. It got giggly and silly and Tom ended the giggles by coming up to inform me he’d run me a hot bath. And in true 2013 fashion, that is where I am now. Typing a diary entry on an iPad in the bath.

The rest of my evening? Hopefully a cuddle on the sofa with my husband, some more crocheting of my granny square blanket, straightening my hair, and changing the water in our fish tank. Not quite the rock ‘n roll lifestyle I’d once dreamt of, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.