Thursday, 26 August 2010

Getting creative

Sign me up for my Blue Peter badge right now. By gum I've earned it this week. Its Teacher's Weeks at my new school, where we all go in to prepare our classrooms for the invasion on Monday. My class is now up to 13 five-year-olds... and I can't wait to meet them all!

Did I really say that? Hmm, there are several signs of madness coming through at the moment. 'Can't wait to take on the educational and social development of 13 potentially exhausting five year olds' and, wait for it, 'this is just the BEST job in the world - last night I got to cut out massive numbers from coloured card and today I'm up on a chair firing a staple gun at the wall like a demon.' I think my journey to the Funny Farm is complete.

But needs must you know, I have been forced into this flurry of creativity. The new school has just moved premises, my year group is brand new AND the resources delivery was very late so there were no art materials or display board coverings available to decorate my rather clinical classroom. Even if I had materials, the furniture delivery is also very late and I have nowhere to put anything. Welcome once again to far flung Eastern Europe; anyone would think we're on the moon with the trouble involved in getting anything done.

So I clicked into Lesley Judd mode (oops, showing my age there) and went about raiding bits of sticky backed plastic and empty boxes from around the building and managed to construct a ten foot tree, complete with leaves and branches which stretch into the room, a 'clocking-in' style registration system, an alphabet display, and a multicoloured 'Welcome' board from, basically, rubbish I found lying about and the odd bit of paint and staples I nicked while other teachers weren't looking.

It's been a lot of fun, especially the look on my Teaching Assistant's face each time I come up with another wacky creative idea. 'Let's have an owl-hole in the tree to keep soft toys in!' (She managed to talk me out of that one and we have a mouse-hole in the bottom instead, hopefully too small for any students to crawl into. )

Then the resources delivery arrived this morning and I realised it isn't just me as the other Primary Teachers ran like greyhounds to greet the white van and started rooting around in the humungous boxes of paper, staples, pencils, toys and books that were dumped in the front driveway. Like bees round honey it was, or rather bargain hunters at the Boxing Day sales; I swear I felt an elbow as I reached for the pack of gold card.

Pickle happened to be with me too and get this: he abandoned his DS and the Club Penguin website in favour of helping unload all the stuff. Amazing. It's just like him to get a name for himself amongst the staff but this time it's for climbing into boxes and handing reams of paper over to he adults who couldn't bend that far over the side. Mummy is so proud.

You can tell the holidays are drawing to a close; I think both the kids are looking forward to getting back into a school routine, and goodness knows they could use a break from each other. It has been all out war between them on occasion this last week, they are thoroughly fed up with each other now that the camps are all over. Pickle survived a whole week of football camp and Poppet came back from hers unscathed, enjoying a few Mummy dates while the boy was out kicking leather. But since Sunday they've put on an impressive display of crabby behaviour for Nana, who kindly flew all the way out here to babysit them while Nobby and I are both at work. It's the first time in almost ten years that we've both been employed and certainly the first time with two children to juggle. Ten gold stars to Nana for stepping into the breach. And twenty to Nobby for coping with the tables turning where his Missus works late and rocks up just in time to miss all the cooking and washing up.

Luckily Nana has a good sense of humour - she's sitting downstairs watching Little Miss Sunshine at the moment if any further proof was needed. However my offer to take one brat away with me to school to help me set up my room has proved very popular with all involved, though they are now fighting to be the chosen one on my final Teacher's Day tomorrow. Poppet is now good friends with the music teacher after taking the Brasso to all the cymbals in the music room. He let her try out the new Baby Grand as a treat. They've also been very excited about the uniform, which arrived in the post this week and which Poppet insisted on wearing for her morning at the school. Pity poor Mummy having to sew on two dozen name labels, sheesh.

So back to school we go. Think of me on Monday morning when I get to meet my brood. Who know what horrors and treats lie ahead. Thank goodness for my Blog to blow off some steam.
I promise to change all names to protect the little monsters...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


There have been some strange noises round the house since we arrived home from holiday, and not just the poor washing machine groaning under the strain of all the laundry.

Lately each night is punctuated by a persistant rattling, whirring sound coming from Pickle's bedside table. It started on Saturday night after the new hamster, Lucky Hamper, suddenly discovered his hamster wheel and decided to get busy with his own nightly hamster marathon. Yes, we got the hamster. No sooner had the plane landed in Hungary than the 'when are we going to the Pet Shop?' mantra started, so Lucky joined our family the very next day.

So far he has been very lucky to avoid becoming Tiggy's morning snack. The poor dog is overcome with interest in the little creature and sits shivering and licking her chops whenever Lucky is dragged out of his cage for a cuddle. And he's dragged out quite often, considering all he wants to do is kip all day long after his nightly runs. But Pickle has other ideas, keen as he is to stimulate the animal with interesting sights and activities. Lucky has variously been seen exploring a sprawling, custom-built Lego fortress, the inside of Pickle's trouser leg and the underside of his wardrobe. When tired he is perambulated about the bedroom in a miniature shopping trolley by Action Man and Barbie. It's really very sweet.

Poppet's room, on the other hand, has been emitting an eerie silence for almost a week. She's been at Kangaroo Kamp by the lake with a dozen friends from school. It's been really weird without her, though we've talked a LOT on the phone after I decided to get a new simcard for the spare mobile and let her borrow it. I think that was almost as big a treat as being staying away from home for five nights and she's getting through £10-worth of credit pretty rapidly. She's also convinced I gave it to her for keeps... Hmmm.

She arrived home yesterday laden down with armfuls of arts and crafts -shortly afterwards I was sporting four necklaces, three bracelets and a couple of woolly plaits in the my hair. I then had to undergo a masterclass in plait-making and then try to untangle the additional twenty or so necklaces she produced from her pockets. By all accounts she's had a wonderful time; the teachers presented a slide show of photos from the week including shots of Poppet digging in the mud in her bikini, Poppet collecting baby frogs and Poppet's team of snails.

At the weekend while all was relatively quiet in the house, I heard music coming from the basement. That's where we keep the Wii and I happened to know that Pickle was in his room exercising his hamster at the time so I tiptoed down the stairs to see what was going on. There was Nobby, Nun-chucks in hand, drumming along to Britney Spear's 'Toxic' while whacky 'Raving Rabids' rabbits cavorted across the screen.

He was pretty good actually.

One sound we haven't heard much while Poppet's been away is the TV. Though we've lost all our 'free' channels via the dodgy Digibox over the summer as the rogue Romanian satellite has finally been switched off. We're going to have to go legit. Personally I have had a new toy or two to play with. Firstly my midnight blue Ford Focus, bought for a song from Nobby's company's ex-salesman stock. We finally tired of playing musical cars whenever Nobby has to visit the out-of-town site or drive out to meetings and I know Nobby will prefer driving from garage to garage in the Volvo during the winter than trudging through the snow to the tram.

We've also all played with the 'bong' / hookah pipe that Rose bought for me years ago, after picking up some apple-flavoured, nictotine-free bong-tobacco during our Turkish holiday. It really works! You never saw anything so funny as Nobby, Pickle and me sitting round the dining room, playing cards and passing round the hookah pipe. We also bought some Turkish coffee which works quite well in the percolator. Nobby even dug out a very old tape of Turkish music which we had blaring out of the stereo at the weekend to relive our fortnight in the sun.

Actually, Turkey was so hot we could have really been holidaying on the sun. That's what you get for not doing your homework when you book a holiday. We knew that Hungary would sweltering during July and we'd need to get away. But we didn't check that Turkey would be 15 degrees HOTTER. One afternoon there I left a bottle of water in the sun beside my pool-lounger. By the time I retrieved it the water was hot enough to make a cup of tea. Still, we all came back with super suntans, despite using factor 50 and staying in the shade as much as possible. And I learned how to belly dance (nuff said).

This week I am setting up my new classroom, which finally has desks and chairs in it but very little else. Poppet is going to help me decorate a bit to make it more colourful while Pickle is at football camp all week. You know, on Monday both camps overlapped for one magical day. I had NO kids all day long.

It was very quiet.