A blog recording the thoughts of a mum of one who does a lot of voluntary work because it's more fun than resuming her career and is a bit worried about the state of the nation.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tips from the blogosphere

I have been looking at other people's blogs hoping to pick up a few tips: how controversial?, how often?, how pretty? etc.

My partner's colleague has a blog which she describes as "mainly a record of cakes I have made". There are photos of her lemon cupcakes and chocolate brownies but not a lot of writing: she obviously keeps the recipes secret or in a cookbook. Blog as photo album. Must find a few photos to liven mine up.

My ex-boss has a blog called "The Triple Crunch Log". This sounds as though it is about cakes, particularly his Xmas baking, but is actually about climate change, running out of oil and the financial crisis. He started it during the credit crunch, which noone talks about much anymore. This ought to be a lesson to me as I have adopted a name that will probably date very quickly.

Ex-boss' blog contains some full and frank denunciations as ex-boss is permanently at war with the whole of the oil industry, and has an ongoing personal feuds with a well-known journalist and a successful green entrepreneur. I realise that I am a pretty wimpy blogger who must acquire a bit more backbone. I haven't told anyone about my blog yet and am planning to try to persuade people that I don't know to look at it first. Next stop friends in Australia. I will delay telling anyone local about it until my daughter is at secondary school and I only have to appear once a year for parents' evening in dark glasses(I don't think she will be in any sports' teams or plays).

Ex-boss is a bit erratic about filing copy on his blog, but a woman who applied for a job at one of the charities I am involved with this summer has a blog on which she has written 4 entries in 2 years. Perhaps she is trying to signal that she works so hard on her day job that she has no time for blogging? Or perhaps the rather depressing content (refugees, female circumcision etc.) means she needs a long time to recover between entries.

Next I looked up a proper mummy blog which a colleague's daughter-in-law writes. She is an ex-journalist and he billed her as "very big in the mummy blogging world". Her blog is a blow-by-blow account of life with baby twins, currently particularly focused on getting them onto solid food. "J ate two teaspoons of mashed carrot at 11.30am but P was not interested - perhaps his 2nd bottle was too late this morning". Apparently an avalanche of free buggies that fit through doorways and double potties have been product-placed with her. She has over a hundred "followers" who are presumably also at the plastic bibs and ice cube tray stage.

What would my equivalent be? "M left her pants tangled up in her school trousers on the bathroom floor again - perhaps she was thinking about her maths homework. I need to wash the bath mat." Are there pants-detangling devices that could be product-placed in our household?

So I'm still feeling my way but have reached a few conclusions. Mum-subjects will be discussed when of interest, otherwise mumminess will have to chunter along in the background and not be allowed to crowd out other interests. I'm ten years on from mashed vegetable cubes: it was lovely but now I will aim to write stuff that I might want to read again in ten years time. And illustrate it with a few photos of cake.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Big Nostalgia

As the autumn begins I am in my run up to the 10th anniversary of the only time I ever gave birth. South west London is so full of women with big bulges and/or prams that I don't normally notice them (although I do give up my seat on the bus!) but at the moment I find myself staring and marvelling at how fast the time has gone.

I can just remember what it was like not be able to do bend forward to do up my own shoes, and a day in which the most activity I could manage was walking down the road to the Post Office to buy a stamp. I stopped going to work in mid September in the midst of an office move because I couldn't lift anything or find anything. However I was still struggling to finish a lengthy guide to the legal aspects of campaigning against incinerators for an organisation that had already paid me to write it several months earlier: I'm glad I did actually get it done or it would have been another year (and maybe a few more incinerators!). My dad's friend Graham came to install a new bathroom and I went to visit my sister in Hastings on the train, which was unbelievably bumpy. She bravely drove me home although the fuel protests had erupted and she had no idea if the men in deckchairs outside the BP depots would let the petrol out for her return journey.

I was determined that the baby wouldn't arrive early. My partner was working up in Wakefield and not due to finish until the day I was due to give birth. Although dates mean nothing at that stage, I took great comfort in the fact that first babies are always late, and I clung to the belief that if the women from my ante-natal class who were due before me had not yet produced then I was safe. My friend over the road was due on the same day and it was her second so I convinced myself she would be going first.

Luckily my daughter hung on for an extra three days and, after a long day that began at 4am, was finally born at 10pm. Meanwhile my friend over the road popped into the hospital at 3pm, gave birth in the next room half an hour later and went home again at 7.30pm. I think I would have found that a bit too quick and scary!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Back to school

Back we go, no longer keen enough to have an early night, clean the shoes or even empty last year's shavings out of the pencil case. But keen to see friends again following a two week holiday in a damp part of the Netherlands with only parents.

The new class teacher is not really new as she is entering her third successive cycle with the group of 90 now known as Year 5. There is a new girl to replace the one who went to Australia and didn't cry: she has already lived in Australia, Germany, Hong Kong and Sweden. At 9 and a quarter, this is her fifth school.

The new Chair of the Parents' Association is also Australian, as was the one before last. (NB. Perhaps the Tories need to raise their quota on Antipodeans to help get Big Soc. off the ground?) Interestingly this Chair is a man. He works full time so will not be able to hang around the playground taking directions from the headmaster, placating the caretaker, manhandling the tea urn and repacking the Parents' Association shed when an avalanche of Costco crisps slides out into the mud. He got the job because nobody else could be persuaded to do it having seen how much of all of the above was involved: he wasn't there to watch it happening twice a day. He was told it was all about chairing a meeting once a month and delegating. I know, because I was called in to advise last term when a no-Chair constitutional crisis unfolded. My contribution was to suggest that it was probably better to ignore the constitution. (It said noone else could be elected until there was a Chair, meaning no cheques could be signed so no tea bags purchased for after school football tea trolley on Thursdays etc.)

My own school duties include looking after the Nature Area, a quiet half acre woodland oasis tucked away in one corner of the site which has somehow avoided being sold off for development. Whilst I was on holiday last week a huge chestnut tree crashed into it from an adjoining block of flats and a tree surgeon is needed to remove it.

I have also succumbed to being class rep this year as part of a "team ministry" with two others. It was pointed out that we were the only vaguely sociable mums with email not to have done it so far. Our class has approximately 25% "non combatant" parents who have never helped at a stall or come to a social event. If the little society that is their own child's primary school doesn't interest them I wonder what the chances of them being interested in the big one that is coming are?!