Portrait of a weekend

Me. Two girls.

Takeaway. Comic Relief. Deliciousness; laughter; no washing up required.

The sleep of the truly tired after a week at work.

Laundry. Hanging; sorting; folding; putting away.

Bin bags. Tidy rooms. Huge sense of accomplishment all round.

More laundry. Huge pile of it in a queue for the machine.

Visit from Grandma bearing gifts of clean washing and new mirror. Cuppa; chat; more laughter.

Hanging the mirror. Tidy bedroom yet more enhanced.

Very late night. Tears. Talking. Honesty. Cuddles. Love; lots and lots of that will get us through a time of potential change and upheaval (again).

More tidying. More binbags. More laundry.

Lots of tea and sofa time.


I’m typing this post while cooking the pancakes. Who knows what Sunday evening will bring? I’m hoping for more of the same: peace, calm, harmony, pride. And above all  a sense of a weekend well done.


The helenprev recipe for a lazy lazy Sunday



Three children

A bed

A slow cooker

A sofa


Serves: 4

Time taken: All day


– Get woken by Three climbing into bed with me at about 8.30.

– Alarm goes off on my phone at nine. Switch it off and continue to snuggle with Three.

– Fall into a dream-filled sleep from which it is impossible to escape. Dream, amongst other things that I’ve slept in a sleeping bag on the pavement on the corner of our road, that I’ve fainted in the town centre and been rescued by my A level English teacher who I haven’t seen since 1990, and that One has cut all her hair off whilst staying with her dad for the weekend.

– Finally manage to stay awake for more than five minutes at a time and emerge from under the duvet at 20 to 12.

– Do a bit of tidying up, grumbling about the fact that the children treat the living room floor like a rubbish bin. Shamefacedly pick up a couple of empty crisp packets which I’d left on the floor myself…

– Sit down on the sofa and chill out reading blogs on google reader while all the kids relax watching TV or playing on their laptop. Revel in the fact all four of us are in the same room for once.

– Casually mention in conversation a Jonathan Creek episode from 1997 which had me too scared to lick envelopes for a very long time (anyone else watch that particular one?)

– Discover that all the series of Jonathan Creek are in fact available to watch on Lovefilm Instant. Spend the best part of the afternoon watching the first three episodes with the kids.

– Pause it at various points to make hot drinks for us all and lunch (at after 3 but never mind – the chicken went in the slow cooker late so the evening meal won’t be till about half six!)

– Discover while One is flicking through the TV guide on Freeview that Ski Sunday is going to be on soon. Get all excited and demand that we put it on, reminiscent of Sunday afternoons in my own teenage years. 🙂

– Ponder the various things I was intending to achieve today. Then think ‘stuff it; it’s Sunday afternoon’ and refuse to feel even slightly guilty.

We’re currently watching the end of the snooker and I have virtually not moved from the sofa since I got out of bed at nearly lunchtime. We’re going to have slow cooked chicken (which I chucked some lemon juice over) with oven chips and peas later on. I can’t actually think of a nicer way to spend a January Sunday.



Ive just remembered that the other day I mentioned a fab snowman just down the road from my school.

Today on the way home the road was quiet so I stopped to take a photo!

I have no idea who made it so I’m afraid I can’t credit them, but I wish I had had a hand in its creation because it’s the happiest looking snowman I’ve ever seen!


Parenting: taking the rough with the smooth

Picture the scene: It’s after 5pm. I’ve just lugged six full, heavy bags for life into the kitchen following the weekly grocery shop. (Disclaimer: actually Two and Three lugged some of them). I’m looking at them wearily, making a mental list of everything that needs to happen all at once, right now.

Snapshot of my brain at that moment:

– Unpack the shopping, targeting the things I bought for tonight’s meal first as I need to start cooking it NOW.

– Why didn’t I have the sense to put tonight’s ingredients all together in one bag?

– Oh bugger. I bought frozen puff pastry, like I always do, but I need it right now. I knew I needed it right now. Why didn’t it occur to me it would still be frozen ten minutes after I bought it…?

– Right. Defrost programme on the microwave. Go.

– Keep unpacking bags. Good grief, this kitchen is a mess. Put the oven on. Get out the flour. Run a load of water in the bowl for washing up all the stuff I left earlier on. What are the kids bickering about in the other room?

Sudden high pitched, over dramatic scream that could only have come from Three. Loud sobbing.

I leave my multitasking in the kitchen and go to find out what is going on. Two has hit her with his cardboard axe. I gather he was doing it as a joke but she overreacted somewhat which then wound him up.

In my tired and frazzled state, I get cross. “Why on EARTH did you hit your sister?” My voice sounds frustrated, unsympathetic.

I expect a response along the lines of ‘well, she started it… etc etc’. Instead, he loses his temper spectacularly, puts his face right up to hers, squeals at full volume, then hits her again with the cardboard axe so hard that it breaks and the cardboard axe head falls to the floor.

I march him out of the door and send him upstairs. He stomps off and slams his door.

I spend a little longer placating the cardboardly wounded eight year old, who isn’t actually hurt, just horribly upset (and definitely a drama queen), before retiring back to the kitchen to contemplate the million and one things I was trying to do, nerves shattered, all semblance of calm vanished.

Some days I swear I can feel my hair turning grey, strand by strand, under the purple dye.

I had already told the children in no uncertain terms that no way were they allowed to have any chocolate before their tea. I broke my own rules and broke into my own chocolate as I rolled pastry, chopped vegetables, opened tins, washed the pots, put away the rest of the shopping and vented on Twitter (my goodness, Twitter is FABULOUS for venting in 140 characters).

Half an hour later, the food was cooking, the chocolate was a few squares smaller, the kitchen was tidyish and my equilibrium was restored.

By the time we all sat down to tea, I had come up with a plan for bribery incentive.

“RIGHT. As you all know, I’ve bought Belgian waffles for pudding, to have with ice cream, golden syrup and chocolate sauce. If everyone can sit around the table and eat harmoniously, we will all enjoy that. If we can’t do that, then they can easily wait for another day…”

I had uttered the magic words.

Everyone was nice to each other. We chatted, we smiled, Three offered to mend Two’s cardboard axe for him (he decided he’d rather do it himself, but it was a kind gesture under the circumstances!).

At one point towards the end of the main course, someone said something slightly pointed to someone else. I now can’t remember who or what.

“Remember everyone, we need HARMONY…” I prompted them.

Without pause for breath, all three children instantly began to sing ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaah’ – settling swiftly into a tuneful triad chord.

I collapsed in giggles over my almost empty plate. Everyone else started to giggle as well. They think it is hilarious when I sink into mock despair.

“Mum”, said One, “You do have the most awesome children ever, don’t you?”

Yep. I can only agree.

We had our Belgian waffles. The evening was turned around completely and everyone went to bed smiling.

As will I, shortly, when I’ve finished this mug of tea.

Saturday so far

– After a night of the weirdest dreams I have had for a long time (I am seriously worried about the state of the inside of my head at the moment if my dream life last night is anything to go by!), I was woken by Three who climbed into my bed for a big cuddle soon after 9am. What a marvellous way to ease into the day!

– I set up a pikelets breakfast bar for us this morning – home made pikelets with a choice of fillings lined up on the table (golden syrup, jam, lemon & sugar). The link is from BabyMac’s excellent blog and is the easiest pikelets recipe in the whole wide world – as I commented there, I foresee a lot of pikelets in my near future!

– One and I walked into town for a bit of light retail therapy. She got a new pack of nose studs and I bought felt tip pens for the family craft tub and a pack of biros because they appear to get eaten in our house (or taken by Borrowers, or something). It is a lovely sunny day and it was nice to get out for some fresh air.

– Two and Three stayed at home and played Minecraft.

– When we got home, One’s attempt to remove her retainer stud and put a new pretty coloured nose stud in was rather fraught. Eventually after many frustrations and a few tears, we got the new stud in (with a bit of a shove from me…) – what a relief and it looks really pretty. She can keep it in now for over a week as it’s half term.

– Two has put an apple cake in the oven, One has been teaching herself how to play The Entertainer from the proper sheet music (it’s really difficult but she is tenacious and she will do it, I have every faith!) and now she and Three are sitting together colouring with the new felt tips.

– Downstairs is tidy and looking better than it has for a while because I spent some time moving a bit of furniture round yesterday and streamlining the blanket box, shoe chest and coat corner.

– It makes a change for me to be feeling relaxed on a Saturday because I’ve kept on top of house stuff during the week. I’ve been forcing myself to do stuff in the evenings instead of just sitting on the sofa all night and feeling guilty and stressed, and it’s made a huge difference to the daytimes. Definitely worth a bit of effort. Normally at the weekends I am constantly on edge and snapping at people trying to tidy up round three extra bodies making mess as they go!

– This, today, is about as close to domestic family bliss as we ever manage. I’m enjoying it while it lasts!


Two conversations

I’ve been in Year 5 for the first time this morning. These are children I know very well indeed. I am absolutely delighted to see them all again.

Child 1 skipped out of her classroom to read with me, all smiles.

Me: Hello! I am so pleased to see you! How’s year 5 treating you?

C1: It’s ok…..

Me: Just ‘ok’?

C1: Well…. I wish I was still in year 4.

Me: Do you? Why?

C1: I don’t want to grow up. Because I don’t want to die…

I assured this morbid nine year old that it was unlikely she was going to die today, and all smiles again she read to me beautifully.


Child 2 had just washed her hands with soap before lunch:

C1: Owwwwww! Mrs P! My paaaaaaaper cut is stiiiiiiingiiiiing….. oooowwwwwwww!

Me: Oh no! How absolutely dreadful! You poor poor child. Paper cuts are horrendous. Do you know, I would rather have my finger chopped off than have a paper cut!

C1: Oooooh, I’d rather have a paper cut!

Me: There you go then. Your day just got a lot better.


Just call me Teaching Assistant of the year. I’m sure someone will want to give me a job soon….

The sound of silence

A tap in the kitchen drips.

The laptop on the dining table whirrs.

The fridge hums.

The click of fingers on keyboard is the loudest sound in the house.

The children have gone with their dad until Tuesday, when I will pick them up from his house and bring them home ready to start a new year at school on Wednesday (Three) and Thursday (One and Two).

I have eaten my tea (sausages and ice cream; no, not together) in solitary splendour, watched some paralympics, and tidied away the duvet cover, chair and kitchen steps which made up the headquarters of the Secret Club*

Tomorrow afternoon I will drive over with my mum to J’s house in preparation for his dad’s funeral on Tuesday morning. Until then, my introverted soul is singing with the alone time it has been granted.

I know I’m coping with a fair amount of stress at the moment because my dream life is busy and hideous! Everything that could go wrong is going wrong, all night, every night, inside my head. Waking up is a relief, to be honest!

During the day, I’m coping by making sure I’m in control of as much I can feasibly be in control of, while attempting to ‘accept the things I cannot change’ (oh my goodness how my personality rails against that line of the Serenity Prayer!). It seems to boil down, at the moment, to being in control of my immediate surroundings as much as I can. I bought an academic year diary the other day (or rather, I got it for free with Clubcard vouchers) and a set of different coloured pens. I’ve been filling it in for us all with a different colour for each person. I’ve also ordered a big calendar from Organised Mum for the first time in several years, and I’m going to use the same colours per person on that as well. Having what feels like a very chaotic family life neatly written down in nice organised lines in different colours is what has been keeping me sane these past few days!

Hey, don’t laugh – it works for me at the moment so I’m not knocking it!

The other thing helping to keep me sane – and hydrated – and on the loo four hundred times a day – is an industrial quantity of Earl Grey tea by the pint…

*This is to be said in a WHISPER. I could tell you the password, but then I’d have to kill you…