Sunday, 31 July 2016

A Weekend in Manchester...Sans Enfants!

I think I've discovered the perfect start to the summer holidays...Dump the kids on Grandma and go have your own grown up/child like fun!

Hubby and I headed out into the big city on Friday night for some whisky blending fun. Two hours later we emerged slightly more knowledgeable (although, please don't test me because, you know...whisky drinking) armed with two plastic bottles of personalised and 'unique' blends secreted in the inner pocket of hubby's coat.

Next stop, food! So off we went in search of some very fashionable, uber trendy chicken in a basket washed down with a root beer. Tick!

Our last call of the night was the Cloud 23 bar at the Hilton which has been on my 'must-do' list for a while. After queuing on the 'carpeted area' for a while we were finally allowed access to the lift by the guy pretending to be Kiefer Sutherland in 24. The views were pretty breathtaking and it triggered a memory of a very similar bar we'd been in in Havana, Cuba. You know, before kids...

We took a few obligatory selfies whilst waiting for our drinks to arrive when it suddenly occurred to me that I was enclosed in a glass case 23 stories up, with only a guarded lift as my escape route. Cue the mild panic attack. So we paid over £20 for two drinks which were left mainly untouched on the table, I imagine to the bemusement of the lovely waitress who apparently earned a 10% tip according to the bill...

But this is where the real excitement starts! On Saturday I dragged hubby to Comic Con!

I donned my Lt Uhura dress and knee boots, attracting the attention of a particular guy on the tram who wasn't sure where to look so just took to staring at regular intervals.

And then the queuing began...the loooong snaking walking queue to get in, the queue to buy a £2.50 bottle of warm Sprite. But nothing could dampen my enthusiasm, although I'm not sure I can say the same for hubby.

I browsed the stalls like a kid let loose in a sweet shop - how much memorabilia could I possibly acquire? And where the hell could I put it all? In the end I settled for a mystery box (oooooh!), a cuddly Captain Kirk (obviously), a signed book about strange goings on at a fictional University set in Lancaster (sounds intriguing), a board game (my first proper board game beyond the likes of Monopoly) and some bits for the kids (figured I shouldn't forget about them completely).

I returned Vulcan salutes, had a chat with a guy about 2 year degrees, saw Robert Llewelyn and Warwick Davis, stood near the 'Iron Throne', was blown away by some pretty awesome cos-play, was referred to as Lieutenant by a fellow Trekkie and had my photo taken with some random guy who liked my outfit...

It was AWESOME!! An incredibly inclusive, fun , not-your-typical Saturday afternoon out.

After a quick pint (Lt Uhura and the newly acquired Captain Kirk were now off duty) we headed home for our first piece of board game action. We played Pandemic three times and saved the world twice - not bad for newbies!

A bottle of Prosecco and a wee dram later and I managed to pull a muscle sitting on the floor playing Rummikub - the well known extreme sport! I then headed off to bed with some paracetamol to frequent cries of 'ow, ooh, ah' and not for good reasons...

So, as I contemplate picking the kids up I reflect on a pretty amazing weekend. Turning over 100% of the summer holidays to the kids is totally over-rated. I thoroughly recommend taking a weekend to reconnect with your inner child - or in my case, geek!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

This is a Party Political Broadcast...

In this time of national crisis we need a strong leader. 

A leader who can unite the country under a banner of common ideals. 

A leader who will not shy away from the challenge at hand but will meet it head on. 

A leader who knows what needs to be done but can do it whilst rocking a killer pair of kitten heels.

I therefore hereby announce the formation of the Power to Parents Party (PPP). My manifesto is as follows:

  • Extra funding for the research and development of hangover-free alcohol and fat free chocolate.
  • Free babysitters for all on Friday nights.
  • Children's bedroom doors will be set on a time-lock at weekends, only opening at 9am.
  • Any child waking up at 3am will be deemed to have breached the human rights of the parents and dealt with accordingly.
  • All children's extra-curricular activities will be outlawed before 11am at the weekend.
  • Detention without trial for all under 18's with the sign off of at least 1 parent.
  • An immediate end to school 'dress up' days.
  • An immediate end to 'project homework'.
  • Children's birthday parties will consist of sausage and pineapple on sticks with a round of musical chairs and pass the parcel. All other forms of birthday celebration (football parties, bouncy castle hire, rock climbing, crafts etc.) will be outlawed.
  • At least 1 'duvet day' per month per parent with Mary Poppins on speed-dial.
  • The Panini company will be banned from creating any more sticker albums.
  • The following programmes will be banned: Numberjacks, Paw Patrol, Topsy and Tim and anything that has been subject to a 'remake' (i.e. Bob the Builder, Danger Mouse, Teletubbies, Postman Pat, The Clangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles etc. etc)
  • YouTube will be immediately taken down with anyone caught 'vlogging' being subject to detention without trial.
  • Wifi codes will be changed weekly and only made available when the bins have been taken out and clothes put back in drawers/cupboards.

As a mum, I feel I am more than qualified to run the country on this mandate and I have it on good authority that dads can be quite useful at times as well. 

Membership of the party is now open and changes/additions to the manifesto will be considered when submitted in triplicate to the PPP committee at least 6 months before the relevant meeting. 

Cheques supporting the campaign can be made payable to the PPP (US dollars only please). I look forward to your support. 

*Thank you very much.......doo, doo, doo, doo. Right. Good*


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Fundraising Fatigue?

I've been the Co-Chair of my local primary school PTA for 4 years now and in that time the PTA has gone from strength to strength. 

I've tracked down missing ice-cream vans, detached £1 coins super-glued to reply forms in the wee hours of the morning, tried to work out who exactly the Christmas card design with no name in a school of over 400 belongs to, harangued people to buy tickets via Facebook and spent hours costing juice cartons at every available retailer in the Greater Manchester area. 

I've written minutes and annual reports, contributed to newsletters (late almost every week it should be added), designed leaflets, taken photos and flexed my event management muscles. 

I've laughed, I've cried and I've also needed the odd glass of vino to calm down. But overall it's been an incredible experience. 

I've made new friends and become a part of the school community. And all this whilst looking after a young baby/toddler. In fact, I was almost 8 months pregnant when I volunteered and can clearly remember running home from my first Christmas fair with leaky boobs to feed the 6 week old! (Too much info?)

In the time that I've been involved with the PTA, the committee have experienced births, deaths, marriages, illness and hospital stays. We've looked after each others kids when things don't quite go to plan. We've shed a tear or two, offered shoulders to cry on and visits to the pub when a shoulder just isn't enough. We've drunk copious amounts of coffee and spent hours crafting, crocheting, cutting and glueing.

And it's not just the committee. We're fortunate to have a dedicated bunch of volunteers willing to run stalls, sell coffee, set up events, fold raffle tickets and anything else we can set our mind to! 

Just not as many volunteers as we would like...but that's a different issue!

Last year we hit the £10k target for the first time and I was over the moon. We've funded iPads and books, cooking and sporting equipment, activities and trips, music projects and much much more. 

All of a sudden the hard work seemed worthwhile! 

But then reality hit. 

We'd have to do it all again next year!

I had 'Fundraising Fatigue'. 

Why can't someone else do it? Does anyone really care? What's the point? Another bake sale? Aaaaaaaaaah!

A few of us felt stuck in a rut. New fundraising ideas were rejected at meetings and we felt we were rehashing the same ideas over and over again. A case of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it!'

The consensus was to 'Keep Calm and Carry on' (the cliches are coming thick and fast at the moment!) and so we did. We arranged the fairs and the bake sales and the Christmas cards and the Mother's Day gifts and the Father's Day gifts... and we're on track to smash the £10k mark again this year.

Was I simply stuck in a rut or is it time to move on? It's hard to know and at least I've got until September to mull it over.

What is certain is that our school PTA is an incredible organisation supported not only by the committee, but by parents, staff and pupils. So I'm dedicating this blog post to all my PTA friends, past and present. To those that listen to me moan on a daily basis and to those that are always available via Facebook Messsenger. To those that apologise for not being able to do more and to those who do whatever they can.

Will I continue in role? Possibly... Probably... 

Depends whether the school and parents still want me. Or whether a slightly hormonal, heavily pregnant, over-eager mum turns up to the AGM. See you there!