What Do I Do all Day?

What do I do all day now that my kids are at school? If I had a penny for every time someone has asked me that I’d have… well probably about 56p, definitely less than a quid. Of course, I have to fill in a time sheet and hand it in each day to The Mother Police, so for those of you who are interested here is: What I Do All Day in both Mother Police time sheet format and in Truth:

6:50 – 8:30 – feed children, oversee reading homework and child dressing, make a packed lunch (hummous sandwich, raisins and almonds, apple, tomatoes with basil and oil – Take THAT Mother police: Complete healthiness, you bitches can’t complain about that one.), brush the female child’s hair and style into ‘Anna plaits’, have an extensive one sided conversation about a video game that Max is going to teach me how to play on Wednesday. I put this on my time sheet as PREPARE TO LAUNCH

8:30 – 9:00 Hand children over to The State for education. Go on the internet for a specific purpose, forget instantly what that purpose was. Look on facebook, check emails, have a dive into twitter, read some articles. Eat breakfast while sitting on a rocking chair looking into the garden. For those of you who have toddlers – yes – NO-ONE bothered me or asked me for anything AT ALL, while I was eating. Ran up and down the stairs a few times (I call this INTERVAL TRAINING on my time sheet)

9:00 – 9:40 – Can’t remember what I did here, but I’m going to put ADMIN on my time sheet. Just remembered – I rang up about a job – admin was a good guess.

9:40 – 10:00 – Walk very fast to Ealing Broadway Library (I call this EXERCISE on my time sheet, I’m not sure if its allowed, The Mother Police have not called me out for being self indulgent yet. Possibly I will be sent to Siberia for re-education when they get through the backlog of old time sheets)

10:00 – 11:00 – Write and read stuff on my laptop. It was some kind of fictional story that I’m doing, but on the time sheet I put it as ADMIN.

11:00 – 11:20 – Go to M&S for knickers, also stop for a coffee and a banana in the cafe. Imagine I am in control of all the elite pensioners who live in there and I can send them on missions all over the city. Realize I don’t have any enemies that I would want to inflict the evil pensioners of M&S on, try to make up some other interesting missions for them. I put FORAGING on the time sheet.

11:20 – 11:40 – walk back. (EXERCISE again)

11:40 – 12:40 – Construct a BBQ & do some gardening, mainly consisting of splitting and repotting a semi dead basil plant. CONSTRUCTION WORK is what I will put on the time sheet.

12:40 – 13:40 – Lunch at desk (I have a desk!!!)

13:40 – 14:30 – Read a Marrianne Keyes book (current chick lit of choice) Also, have a cup of tea, fix the bathroom lock (screwdriver still out from making the BBQ) and assemble a habitat chair. Also put a wash on and empty and refill the dishwasher. HOUSE CLEANSING is what goes down on the time sheet

14:30 – 14:45 – Scramble around the house finding post school snacks (lollipops – but I don’t tell The Mother Police that), DBS check (to hand in to school so I can do volunteer reading), Evie’s old knickers (for ‘the accident box’, kids swimming kit and a tray of enormous mutant seedlings I have been looking after for one of the other mums during the holidays (I am essentially her slave) I call this PLANNING AND PREPARATION.

14:45 – 14:50 – walk to school

14:50 – Arrive at school trailing an enormous amount of shite, buzz into the office and hand in DBS check. Leave office. I’m gonna go with VOLUNTEER WORK for this on the time sheet and for all the rest of the day, I think.

14:59 – Standing outside the gate with a tray of seedlings that look a bit like weed plants. Passing Rasta gives me respect. I am an unseemly amount early for pick up. Fuck it. Pretend to have interesting things to look at on the inside of my phone as other parents begin to rock up.

15:10 The state releases my now educated children.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is what I do all day while my children are at school. What do you do all day while your children are at school? Or, for the child free; what do you do all day while your children are still separate little eggs in an ovary/sperm in a ball sack?

How to Make a Cup of Tea

Hello America, its me, Catherine. This is a sensitive subject and thats why its taken me a while to broach it, but, on the whole, in general, and you know I think you’re great and everything but… America, you could not make a decent cup of tea to save your life.

Don’t worry though, your Aunty Catherine will give you a remedial course in tea making. Its actually quite easy, so here we go:

1. Get a kettle (I do not mean a warming water for coffee machine, you need an actual kettle that actually boils water. Only a kettle will do.)

2. No really – get a kettle, they sell them in crate and barrel and they even sell the remedial stove top ones in IKEA. They’re shit but its your choice.

3. Put some water in the kettle. Boil the water.

4. At this point the gourmet people can get out their tea pots. Don’t worry, this is not necessary, you may use a mug instead if you like.

5. Swish some boiling water around in your mug/tea pot and then tip it out into the sink.

6. Put a tea bag into your pot/mug. A lipton tea bag is not proper. Do not even try that shit with me. PG tips is available all over the Bay area. And don’t go giving me any of that Earl Grey bollocks either.

7. Make sure the kettle is still boiling. You can turn it back on for a minute if necessary. Now pour boiling water on the teabag. The water will turn brown. Do not be alarmed. Leave the teabag in your pot/mug for a few minutes. You can give it a swirl with a spoon if you like.

8. If using a mug take out the teabag. If using a tea pot pour the tea into a mug.

9. You may now add milk and sugar to taste. If you are making the tea for me don’t bother. I don’t like milk or sugar.

10. DRINK THE TEA. Slurping is fine.

Alright, I hope we’re clear on this. I never want to be handed another cup of tepid water with a fucking lipton tea bag next to it ever again.

Thank you. And well done on the coffee and all the other wonderful things you do.

Love Catherine x

2013 Review

Here are some things I’ve done in 2013:

  • Not moved house even once.
  • Remained steadfastly un-pregnant.
  • Written the first draft of a children’s book and half of the second draft
  • Done two writing courses.
  • Continued to be unemployable in America.
  • Found two decent schools for the kids.
  • Got (sort of) used to driving.
  • Lost a stone.
  • By the force of my mind, made twitter IPO.
  • Ensured the continuing survival of both my progeny.
  • Become very familiar with American strip malls. (Just one, actually, but I’m assured they are all very similar)

I’m gonna give the year 8/10 and a commendation for being so much better than 2012.

BART Station elevators reviewed

As a someone who is profoundly retarded at driving, and who lives in the Boonies, I get to ride the Bay Area Transport System (BART) often, and as a mother of a child in a stroller i get to use the elevators a lot. Woo! Go me! The elevators are a peculiar sub section of the BART, for some reason best know to themselves the Gods that invented BART forgot to put the elevators inside the ticket barriers, thus rendering them available to any old fucker. The people who made America (I think it was Abraham Lincoln and Will Smith) also decided not to bother with public lavatories too much. Anyway here is my review of my favourite BART elevators

Civic Centre – the combo of a lively and diverse group of tramps and twitter employees, make the streets around the Civic Centre an excellent place to buy a nearly new iphone 5, but creates a very stinky BART elevator, the stench of stale piss emanating from every surface. My least favourite: Minus 6.

Powel Street - On the plus side, you get out in the Westfield Centre, so you can easily calm your nerves by having a nice walk around the Hello Kitty shop straight after disembarkation. On the negative side, I have experienced more fresh daytime piss in this elevator than any other. Come on people, there are many unguarded toilets within the Westfield Centre for all your urination needs. Minus 5

Rockridge – Mild stale piss smell, lots of traffic noise and the occasional cheeky bloke claiming to be ex-caping from the BART. Minus 3

Downtown Berkeley – The homeless of Berkeley are of a different class, political, hippies, are they even really homeless or just free from the trappings of society? I don’t know, but they are very friendly and even though there is an underlying piss smell in the BART elevator, someone goes in there on a regular basis and wafts the place out with some incense. Seriously, go in there and have a smell if you don’t believe me. Another plus point is the interesting wheelchair users who frequent the lift. My favourite elevator in the BART system: 2 points.

24th and Mission – Has a disturbingly nice (ish) smell of tamales overlaying the stale piss smell. I’m not a fan: Nil points.

El Cerrito Plaza – My home station. No detectable piss smell, so it should win really, but, it is often out of order, so only 1 point.

Why not have an exciting ride on the BART elevators yourself? Remember to wear wellies!

Willy, willy! Yeah yeah yeah!

Oh god, the time is coming round where I will once again be embroiled in potty training. Last time was awful, Max literally shat his pants every day for 4 months. FOUR MONTHS.

People would be looking at me in Safeway as I walked round with a screaming baby attached to me thinking (I imagine), “Poor woman i wonder whats wrong with her baby. Oh and look she’s got a retarded 6 year old too, see how he’s shouting that he’s poohed himself? Yes I can smell it too. He has. He has poohed himself, right next to the bakery too.”

Pulling off shitty underpants in the staff toilets of Safeway and wiping the resultant shit smears off the massive toddler’s legs is not something I’m massively enthusiastic about re-living

It has been said to me by many that potty training a girl is easier. Well, we will see. So far she has been doing a bit of practise sitting on the potty, prodding her bits and going “Where’s my willy?” and has devised an excellent song which goes: “Willy, willy, yeah yeah yeah!” I will try to get Dan to record it, I think it is better than pooh smell (Max’s song).


So, I have the husband back. I still like him (phew!). I have everything sorted out here in Angleterre; Great school for Max to start at in September, nice nursery for Evie, landed my ideal job, nice home & community set up, family close, but not too close. I am now ready to start enjoying the fruits of all my hard work over the last 6 months.

But that is not how it works in my life, no. The husband has other plans. There are big opportunities, BIG opportunities. Where are those opportunities located? California. Bastard California. I have to turn down the dream job, pack up, find another place to live, find a preK programme for Max, a nursery for Evie, a School for Max to start in Aug 2013 (free school starts later there), get a green card, get re certified, learn a new education system, and worst of all tell our Mam that I’m taking her grandkids and myself away from her again. I know that telling her this will be like giving her a full force kick in the face. And she’s my Mam. The lovely woman who suffered through both giving birth to me and bringing me up. This is a horrible thing to do to her.

Obviously though there are advantages to the move, BIG opportunities, cash. Its basically like I’m being sentenced to an indefinite term in a luxury all inclusive resort, with a wonderful (but limited) selection of friends, and only my closest family. I shouldn’t complain, but I will.

I also suspect that the patriarchy is involved in this somewhere. Bastard patriarchy.

Next week I will get all excited about seeing my Bay Area friends, Halloween and escaping the rain, but for the moment I need to do my sad face.

Limping towards the finish line

Only 5 more days of this single mother, long distance marriage thing to go. Woo! We are limping on, white tape in sight, I think we’ve just finished our final illness (fingers crossed), it was a crazy high temperature and headache one, just in time for the NHS strike. Here are our stats:

6 months

1800 hours clocked in

2520 on call hours

1 birthday (which I made totally awesome and we had a Dad for)

4 Dad visits

Max has gone up 1 size in clothes, ditto for Evie, ditto for me.

Evie has gone up 1/2 a shoe size

Max has gone up 1 shoe size

I have made no shoe size progress.

1 house move

4 teeth teethed

720 nappies changed

Around 10 illnesses defeated, including the great vomiting illness of April 2012

360 meals cooked

360 bowels of cereal poured out

50000 loads of washing done

1 school and 2 nurseries sorted out

2 jobs (unsuccessfully) applied for

2 OU short courses completed

3 seasons of Breaking Bad watched (I will finish the 4th by Monday I reckon)

I have discovered some things too, for example, if no-one ever saw my pants I would wear granny pants ALL the time. Seriously you guys, you should try a full granny pant. Those old ladies know what they’re about in the knicker department.

All in all though, I wouldn’t do it again. I’ve decided I like my husband to be nearby. I’m considering having him tagged when he gets back. It’ll probably be like the tags on Battle Royale, but it will only explode if he goes more than, say, 100 miles away, with a polite warning when he’s getting close to the limit.

Birth Presents

One of my good mates is being induced today (if that doesn’t make you wince involuntarily, then good for you! You are OUT of that zone, well done!) but for everyone else we know the woman will be in need of a good present of some sort very soon. She is a very organised sort of a person, so I’ve been trying to think of stuff that every mother should have, but maybe might not have thought of, a kit for the new mother. I have come up with a list of things that I think might be handy:

1) Valium, upon giving birth to each new child every woman should be given a small stash of Valium to use at her discretion, maybe ten, for her own use. If the child ends up being an angel and the woman is a total Zen mother she can sell them on, on the black market to less fortunate women when the child reaches 30.

2) A massive stash of mould ripened cheeses, sushi, and her own choice of very delicious booze. For immediate consumption.

3) A set of 10 24 hour free passes, where a very trusted lovely babysitter comes, takes the child off her hands, does exactly as instructed and cleans the house while he/she is about it.

4) One extra arm, it will drop off naturally when the baby reaches the age of two.

5) Complete control over future fertility.

So, thinking of all those women, being bloody marvelous, squeezing improbably large things through unmentionable places. I salute you, you are goddesses one and all.

Long Distance Marriage: Reviewed

Good day, dear reader, here is my review of being in a long distance marriage. Firstly, the bad news; it is at least as shit as it sounds. My least favourite part of it is weekends, particularly long weekends. I can entirely see why so many people decide to top themselves at Christmas, the combo of every other fucker being really pleased about it and them all having plans is deeply depressing. The other worst thing (it’s a draw) from my perspective as the one with the two young children is the times when there is an “extra” thing to do from the normal daily routine of cooking, cleaning, nappy changing, playing, ferrying to and fro, cleaning again, cooking again, cleaning again, dealing with the odd tantrum & sad “I miss my dad” times, and putting to bed. These “extra things” for me have come in the form of moving house, having fuck loads of too large furniture arrive, and illness, lots and lots and lots of illness, roughly one every week at the moment. Being up in the night, changing sicky sheets over and over again, changing & washing pooey pants, disinfecting vast areas of the house, having one limp whiney kid and one frustrated over energetic one, some sleep deprivation & the feeling that you might puke too just tips it over the edge and into bad. All the other things you might think are shit about a long distance marriage are shit too, lack of same timezone moral support, and sex to name a couple.

The good news, though, is the house is a dictatorship and I am the dictator and sometimes I put an eye patch on and make the kids walk the plank.

Going the extra 5000 miles

OK, so, I’m hesitant to let you into the full extent of my madness, but here goes (blame my Catholic upbringing – I need to confess).

So, you know how some middle class parents are absolutely nuts? They’ll lie about where they live to get little Tarquin into the best school, have a panic attack if someone offers him a non-organic carrot stick. These are the type of people I used to have a good old laugh at when I was a (childless) teacher. Well, I’m one of them now, in fact, I’m practically their queen.

Since Max was born in 2008, I have, for example, known that there was a possible impending crisis* for the schools in Ealing, with a massive shortfall of primary school places for his school year. I may, have dug around on the internet quite a bit and read the minutes of council meetings about this, and all of the Ofsted reports (60 of them) of the schools in Ealing), and possibly, might have observed which schools had increased the number of forms…

It should come as no surprise then, that I made it a condition of us moving to America that we move back in time to get in on the first round of getting our son a primary school place. Why we had to live in Ealing is a completely other story*. I would have gone into the council and elbowed old ladies out of my way, or bribed people, but seemingly that’s not how its done and you just have to live near the school a full 9 months before the child attends.

When it turned out (pretty fucking late in the day, I may add) that Mr Catherine couldn’t come back at the appointed time, I had to decide what to do. All my OCD planning had gone to pot.

In the end we decided to split & have a long distance marriage for 6 months, so that the boy would have a good chance of getting into a decent school that was near where we lived. I think this possibly qualified as the single most ridiculous thing I have ever done. I got the application in on time, double checked that they had put it in the right pile (They hadn’t – always worth being mega paranoid when you are dealing with the council – they simply don’t care about your middle class concerns). They fixed it and then obviously I triple and quadruple checked.

What was the result of my endeavors? Did little Tarquin (Ahem, Max) get into one of the three schools of my choice? Yes he did. I fucking rock at being middle class, my kids don’t even like sliced white bread. Not sure if that is WIN or a massive own goal. Max requested “that nice Iranian bread” today. Can’t get that in our corner shop.

Obviously when he starts school he is duty bound to hate the place. More on that in September.

This is a crisis entirely in my mind. Leave real crisis for the news, I say.
  • And not very interesting.

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