The Germinator

Nothing says back to school like shiny shoes, look a new pencil case and a manically smiling mummy who is glad to have some law and order back around these parts. For us, it’s a big back to school year too as the not-so Little Monster made his debut appearance in primary one. Following in the footsteps of his big sister, he’s been excited to join the ranks of shirt and tie wearers (minus the nine to five and the office politics) and has already spent many a morning doing his hair and spiking it up into a ‘cool big boy’ style before mummy then ruins it by ruffling it at the school gates instead of giving him a kiss. Not permitted by cool big boys.

So they’re back in the classroom and I’d like them to stay back until the next half term at least, so keeping them germ free and healthy is a priority.

Easier said than done when our digit-ill age brings an increase in little germy hands pawing at iPads, kindles, tablets and parents phones, and busy lives see more ‘grab and go’ type snacking on route from school to social clubs without proper hand washing opportunities in between. Hail the antiviral hand foam! The handy, squirty tube carries nicely in your handbag, or glove box and the magic of how it dries without a towel impresses my two every time.

The rise of the selfie of course supports free flowing international travel for flighty headlice looking to explore new destinations. The little blighters are far freer to frolic from head to head whilst unsuspecting kids squash in closer to one another so they both fit in to camera range for the perfect selfies. Luckily, we’ve not had any of these little visitors to stay……yet, but at the slightest sign of a scratchy noggin, I’m out with the nit comb for a quick once over. A fellow mum (in fact, a few) tell me tea tree spray through the hair once a week and the occasional scoosh on pillows helps keep these nasties at bay. That sounds far easier to me than lengthy de-licing activities of a Sunday evening.

In homage to the selfie (minus the headlice) and to say thanks to Boots #bootsbacktoschool for keeping our cupboard well stocked with everything we need for back to school germinating, we’ve taken a few selfies (or germies!) of our own in a bid to get the kids thinking for themselves about things like good hand hygiene, wiping noses on tissues rather than sleeves and covering mouths when they cough. So here’s their selfies depicting what they think nasty germs look like……

Eeeeeeuuuurgggh!*

Let’s hope we don’t see an influx of these this school year!

*ah, they’re actually still cuties aren’t they?

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Green pencil cases and corn rulers – Back to School the Eco Way

Back to school season has thrust itself upon us for yet another year, rx and once again I wonder where the summer went, and dread the thought that my eldest is moving up through her school years at a rate of knots. We approached back to school shopping in my usual fashion, avoiding facing the school shoe and uniform gauntlet until the very last moment, so as to minimise the impacts of the inevitable last minute growth spurts which result in a second trip back to exchange for bigger sizes. I do now seem to have too many pinafores however having forgotten that last year I’d bought a couple in a bigger size that have been tucked away in the wardrobe awaiting their first outing this term. On the upside, it means its no great shakes if I’m not up to date with the laundry, which rules out those mad Sunday night dashes back and forth between the washer, dryer and ironing board.

Shopping done and in the bag for another year, I reflect that the very best part of back to school shopping, and I remember vividly as a child feeling exactly the same way, is the stationery shop. Everyone has to have a new pencil case for a new year, complete with matching sharpener, eraser and ruler, right? I recall spending what felt like hours choosing my new term stationery kit, and then once at home carefully organising it all neatly into the pencil case, pencils sharpened to so fine a point you could do someone a mischief. In some way, I’m delighted and proud that the princess has taken this love for a new ruler from me, her eraser collection warms my heart too. So you can imagine the geeky excitement that arose when a delivery from the guys at memoetc landed on our doorstep.

A full box bursting with all the back to school goodies a girl (or 34 year old woman) might need. Even better, all the products were made from recycled goods. A pencil case that used to be a car tyre, a ruler that used to be corn on the cob, gorgeous shiny red notebooks made from recycled leather, colouring pencils made from recycled CD cases and coloured biros made from corn. Frankly, I didn’t want to share with my schooler!

Remarkable describe themselves as a quirky Eco-manufacturing company, passionate about treating the environment with care. That philosophy was always going to be up my seven year olds street being one who frequently tells me off for leaving lights on when no-one is in the room and insists (or perhaps that’s me) that we handcraft all of our Christmas cards from the previous years collection. And quirky these goodies are. What’s not to love about a pencil case that could possibly tell a tale of the UK’s best and worst motorways? And rulers that could have equally found their way to my plate? It kinda makes my mind boggle a little. According to the seven year old, its all just ‘pretty awesome’ and ‘epic’ (we watched too much american tv during the holidays) and my four year old, who has another year to go before starting school asked if he can eat the ruler that used to be corn. But the best part, all the good stuff about reusing waste and thinking of the environment now and for our kids futures aside, these products actually look and feel great. They are designed to do so, and they really do. They feel like sturdy, quality products and a very different proposition to my memories of recycled products from years gone by (scratchy toilet paper anyone?)

Remarkable are just that in my view. And if I get an even warmer and happier glow from sorting out my stationery knowing that all that dividing up of paper from food waste from cans from plastics from garden waste from cardboard from wood from glass that we all do at home is worth it and helps create some pretty cool stuff that any schooler (or responsible project manager) would like to have on their desks, then that’s all good with me.

Disclaimer 1) : this blog post was lovingly written using a biro made from corn in a gorgeously glossy recycled leather bound notebook before being hastily typed into a format suitable for online publishing!

Disclaimer 2): whilst the guys at memoetc were kind enough to send us this box of remarkable goodies to try out, all view and opinions expressed are my own.

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Do as you do.

Dear Little Princess Pink, treatment

It’s not often I’m short of something to say, sovaldi sale but I am struggling to find the words that properly describe the immense pride I feel this afternoon after your second parent conference since starting at big school. This time I wasn’t fazed at all by the little green chair I sat in opposite your teacher, in fact I rather liked it. Daddy couldn’t make it this time so I had my listening ears on good and proper to ensure I could tell him every little detail of how wonderfully you have settled into school and taken to your class work like a duck to water.

Miss K can’t sing your praises highly enough, which is music to our ears. She shared with me your ‘weekly news journal’ where you get to put your emergent writing skills into practice. She was suitably impressed with the piece you wrote about the weekend we were toilet training your brother, particularly the part where you specified that he did 3 pee pees but no poos and mummy said he may get consternation. She liked that piece so much she asked you to take it to the deputy head Mrs S to let her read it too. I feel the whole school has now celebrated our family toilet training successes with us. I was a little concerned however when I read the piece you wrote about Daddy buying you the Kate Perry SeeDee, but then relieved that you didn’t mention that it has a naughty word in it which mummy says you’ve not to repeat again.

I’m delighted to hear you remain polite, well mannered and hard working and I just know from the mucky state your shoes come home in every night that you also play hard.

Your love of reading and your ability in literacy continues to knock our socks off. We’ll finish The Magic Faraway Tree in no time. The support you have both at school and from Daddy and I will ensure you grow in any which way you please my darling.

Continue to do as you do little one, you are our greatest blessing and every day is enhanced by your wit, your five year old wisdom and your enthusiasm for life.

We’re behind you every step of the way, you are doing us all proud.

Love Mummy xxx

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Mumma Brownie Points

We seem to be a day later than everyone else with dress up for World Book Day at our school, cialis canada but still going at it in a gung-ho fashion, Little Princess Pink stepped out of the door this morning kitted out from head to toe in black and red as she took on the mantle of the ladybird from ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ by Julia Donaldson.

We face-painted, we hand made (yes, hand made) red and black antenna, and improvised with a safety pin, a long sleeve black top belonging to moi (and thus drowning five year old) and a lady bird tutu that the same five year old got for her 2nd birthday. And it still fits.

She looks adorable, but better than that I am more impressed with my ‘cobbling together of a costume at the last minute’ efforts. I feel like one of those proper mums today. You know, the ones who actually make costumes. With a proper needle and thread.  Jeez, I don’t even own a sewing kit.

Then it struck me how times have changed.  When I was a nipper, had I gone to school wearing something my mum had crafted from a pillowcase and purple fabric squares I would have had the mickey well and truly taken out of me.  Cringeworthingly, I once made an Alice Band myself from an old white tee-shirt and a spool of green thread (inspired by Jackie magazine) and was subjected to such a torrent of abuse from a girl in my class who mocked me for being poor and having to make my own clothes, that I lied and told her I had gotten it free with a magazine. I’m not sure which is worse.

Yet, today, hand made is the route to go.  There are big mumma brownie points to be gained (and lost) at the school gates on dress up day.

So off we went, expecting to have a serious 10 mumma brownie points in the bag with our ‘you can’t buy me in the Disney store’ costume, only to be scupered by the most beautiful Rapunzel and her 6 FOOT LONG, HAND MADE GOLDEN PLAITED HAIR.

Harrumph. Must try harder.

 

 

Reach for the stars.

Dear Little Princess Pink, treat

This afternoon your Daddy & I attended your first parents conference at big school, whilst we were there  you had a play date at Marc’s house and had great fun with the light sabre (or light saver as you called it) and the little lego people.  You told me it was good to play with boys toys for a change, and Marc’s mummy told me it was a pleasure having you over.

At school, Daddy & I sat in little green chairs – the exact same ones as you sit in when you are in class. It was fine for me as I’m a little on the petite side, but all 6 foot of Daddy was squished and almost folded in half, his knees were nearly round his ears. You’d have rolled your eyes had you seen him!

Miss K had nothing but good things to say about you (and by the way, having seen her up close, I am quite certain she is 30 and not 7 or 10 as you had first suspected.) She started by telling us what a wonderfully well mannered and kind young girl you are.  She tells us not only are you caring and helpful, but you are considerate to the feelings of others, and will try to help them with their work in a soft and gentle manner if they get stuck, explaining to them as they go why the answer is what it is rather than simply telling them outright.

We hear that you have made lots of friends, and are well liked by everyone in the class.  It would appear that you have your fathers competitive streak, and often vie with your bestest friend Abbie to see who can eek the most praise from Miss K for good work.

We hear that you are patient, a trait that you most certainly don’t get from me, but one I am very glad you have. Don’t let that ever stop you from driving forward what you want though. We saw your writing that earned you the title of Star Writer this week, and the sentence that you compiled all by yourself – ” I like writing a story.’  You are your mothers daughter.

We saw Lola the robot displayed proudly outside the front of the school office along with her fellow robots who were equally fantastic.

We saw a great picture of you walking along a balance beam at gym, you were grinning from ear to ear!

I pointed out a photo of Ryan to Daddy, so he could see who you are going to marry when you are 16. It’s important that he knows. I can see why you told him today that he can be your prince and you’ll be his princess.

I saw your classroom from your perspective today and its exciting. I saw spark and drive in your teachers eyes too. She clearly loves her job and we know if you continue to be the keen, inquisitive, curious and diligient pupil you are, then she will support you all the way.

We’re super proud of you, you are blossoming my darling.

Reach for the stars.

Mummy & Daddy

xxxxxxx

Be Prepared

With the new school term fully in swing now, buy viagra and our friends south of the border starting to turn their attentions to getting sorted for a return to school uniform and packed lunches too, here are a few helpful hints for minimising the morning rush out the door minus the maths homework, so make like a good girl guide and be prepared!

1)      Choose and lay out all clothes for the next day before going to bed.  Get the kids involved in order to save morning wobbles over red Snow White knickers versus pink Hello Kitty ones. Discovering there are no clean socks in the drawer on the morning they are required only results in last minute rummaging through the wash basket for yesterdays pair. It’s not cool, nor hygienic. (Hands up if you’ve done it?! Me!)

2)      Don’t just stop at the kids clothes either, laying out my clothes the night before has stuck with me since I lived at home, and helpfully, it does stop me leaving the house in the morning with one brown shoe and one black shoe on.

3)      Ensure all school bags are packed the night before with all requisite items – pencil case, play time snack, homework books, reading pack, gym clothes, milk money, school trip permission form, lunch money or packed lunch (remember no strawberries as the teachers allergic, swap the muffin for some mango in a bid to keep it healthy, and wipe yesterdays crumbs from the bottom at the risk of moulding), indoor shoes, waterproof jacket. Yes, this results in a heavy bag most likely to haul your little one over on their back, legs wriggling in the air like a ladybird that can’t turn over, but it appears that schoolies these days don’t travel lightly.

4)      Set out breakfast things, so you at least know what’s on the menu in advance.  Cobbling together cereal with yoghurt poured over as you’ve run out of milk, or resorting to Jaffa Cakes as someone ate the last two oranges doesn’t bode well for keeping nippers fuelled ‘til snack time.

5)      Set your alarm. Even if the baby always wakes you at 5.30 demanding to watch Peppa Pig, or the dog arrives at the side of your bed faithfully each morning with the lead in his mouth before you’ve even had time to rub the sleep from your eyes, the day that you don’t – will be the day that they won’t!

Run Mummy, run.

I’ve heard lots about this ‘school run’, price mind and given Little Princess Pink has now donned her very cute uniform and commenced her classes as a primary one, site I think I need to pay more attention. I’m assuming said school run is the dropping off and collection of small children at their schooling establishment and not anything to do with actual, proper running? I think I would struggle with that given my relationship with my trainers has soured again (not that it ever really got properly off the ground last time, fickle as they are.) I imagine also that running would involve much flapping and flailing of school bags and lunchboxes, would jiggle my blackberry too much and would result in sweaty pits under my suit jacket.

The dropping off and collecting part sounds straight forward, providing I can find a parking space amidst the hoardes of cars belonging to others also participating in the school run.  I’m well aware of the irony in there – school run; car; school run; car. Believe me, if we lived close enough and didn’t have Little Monster Blue to drop off at nursery a whole 7.2 miles away in the opposite direction, then an 8 mile trip along the bustling M8 to the office all before 9am, then I would be quite happy to walk the school run (still not running.) I hear the warnings from government officials loud and clear about the increase of traffic on the roads at peak hours as parents a plenty chose a petrol powered method of getting the kids to school over using shanks’ pony (using ones legs as a means of transport, not surprisingly, this expression is believed to be Scottish in origin.)

What is less straight-forward to me, and the part I’m struggling to get my head around on the whole concept of the school run is the etiquette and dare I say, the rules.

According to one source, a mummy should apply a slick of lip gloss prior to the school run, so she looks ‘together.’ That I can do, though more often than not find the attraction between lip gloss and my hair somewhat limiting in the looking together stakes. Caitlin Moran, whom I adore for her frankness and honesty on the issue of why women should / shouldn’t have children, claims in her latest book that “in the real world, women who always blow dry their hair before leaving the house are freaks, and any mother at the school gates with a glossy bob is the subject of pitying looks from other mothers who can’t believe she wasted 20 minutes and lots of upper arm strength for any event less momentous than announcing her engagement to Kiefer Sutherland at Cannes”.

Therein lies the first dilemma.  Am I to undertake the school run with limited grooming and attention to personal hygiene at the risk of embarrassing daughter, myself and anyone associated with me in order that I don’t become the recipient of helpful suggestions levied in my direction as to how best spend an additional 20 minutes in the morning at the expense of my coiffed barnet? There is also the small matter of adhering to the company dress code when I do actually make it in to the office, and ensuring a professional frontage when I get there.  Lip gloss and freshly washed and blow dry hair are a necessary requirement for this. I’m not quite sure if I fully understand the spectrum of acceptable glamour on the school run.  Is it appropriate perhaps to sit somewhere between unkempt, bed head, perhaps partially hidden by an anorak hood, and the just-stepped-out-of- a-salon look and opt for simply taking a brush through yesterdays freshly washed do? Is it okay to wear the suit that I plan to wear to work, or is that deemed too ‘sharp’ for the school run? Should I veer towards smart skirt and blouse and casual knee high boots with a hell of less than 3 inches? Is a hoodie and pyjama bottoms with dried on Weetabix a step too far in the other direction?  Frankly, if day one school drop off was anything to go by, it makes absolutely no odds what I wear or how I style my hair as I’ll forever be known as the one with the mascara running down my cheeks (serves me right for applying make-up before leaving the house) and snot dripping from my nose as I weep and wail goodbye to my princess.

Which brings me to saying goodbye at the school gate. Is hugging, kissing and calling ‘I love you bear’ after the blonde bouncy plaited head of my girl disappearing into the classroom permitted?  Or will I be mocked for my public display of affection, notwithstanding that it is to my five year old? Should I remain resolutely stoic and unmoving for fear of being regarded as uncool and clingy otherwise, or will this render me the nickname ‘The Ice Mum’?

Should I, and will I, make friends with the other mums on the run?  I’m a newbie, LPP coming from a different nursery to the school feeder nursery, does this therefore mean I will be freely welcomed into the fold and invited to join in with morning gossiping, or will I have to watch on from the sidelines, nervously twirling my hair and wondering how I can strike up a conversation that doesn’t make me look like I’m desperate for a school gate friend nor cross the boundaries of acceptable morning school gate chat (unfamiliar with that as I am.) What topics are suitable for a gaggle of mums who huddle together for 10 minutes at the start of the day and 10 minutes mid afternoon 5 days a week?  I’m assuming with small children in earshot, swearing is not permitted, nor is the ‘Snog, Shag or Marry’ game about the hot male teacher who takes primary 6, the middle aged music  teacher (female, though with a wispy beard) and the school janitor?

Being last to arrive for drop off, just as the school bell is ringing loudly.  I’m assuming this is downright unacceptable, but unfortunately has to befall one of the school run mums (or dads). If it was me puffing and panting as I sprint down the path, arms overflowing with school bag, lunch box the jacket that we didn’t quite manage to get on (despite the rain) and a hairbrush and bobbles for last minute plaiting in an attempt at neatness, would this behaviour be frowned upon?  Could I successfully argue that I couldn’t find a parking space that wasn’t a) on a zebra crossing, b) across someone’s driveway, or c) long enough and wide enough to fit my SUV?  Okay, so I don’t have an SUV, but if we’re stereotyping here…..Perhaps I would be scorned for spending too long with the hairdryer and maybe glean some helpful pointers on the right things I should be spending my time on between the hours of 6am and 8am.

And, what I wonder, is the etiquette as far as breakfast on the go is concerned? Are coco pops bars allowed to be consumed whilst small child runs frantically at double speed to keep up with mum or dad as they power walk briskly up the path to avoid being the last one to arrive?  I suspect this could also be avoided if hair drying is forgone in favour of rustling up a suitably nutritious and nourishing Eggs Benedict or kedgeree for the nippers prior to departing for school.  Surely it’s better that any breakfast which must be dispensed literally on the run is witnessed by the other mums in those scenarios where it just hasn’t happened at home that morning for fear of perhaps the teacher asking to see me after class to discuss the constant tummy rumbling and requests to eat her packed lunch at 10am from my non-breakfast eating daughter? Coco pops bars might be frowned upon, containing chocolate as they do; maybe bananas with their energy giving qualities might be favoured and deemed satisfactory?

I believe I have lots to learn in the ways of school run mum, and will pay close attention on the next drop off, carefully studying those who stand outside the primary two class, smug that they now ‘get it’ after having had a whole year to learn the rules. In the meantime, the lip gloss will remain, after all, the luscious shade of pink matches my Minnie Mouse pyjama bottoms perfectly.

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