Monday, 31 May 2010

Monday morning

Happy Bank Holiday to one and all!

My resolution for today: to get the RE and PE comments into the reports!

DD and DG go home today. DD arrived back surprisingly early yesterday afternoon, having had an absolutely trouble free journey around the top of the M25. She had some interesting tales to tell of the Tonk 'community' of breeders, and is pretty hopeful that she has some options for breeding from Indigo. Not that I understand these things at all, but DG got the impression that Indie's pedigree is quite good, better than she thought. That's nice to know - I think! She also had a pleasant time at the hotel overnight. Two swims, one nice dinner, one glass of very expensive wine and a hooooge breakfast!

The pork tenderloin DG and I had yesterday was very tasty. I seared it all over and then roasted it (wrapped in foil) with chopped shallots, chestnut mushrooms and a flavoursome eating apple, peeled, cored and sliced, with some good quality balsamic vinegar drizzled over it all.
If I'd had the ingredients, I'd have made a cream sauce with the juices that came out in the cooking and it would have been scrummy. As I didn't, and because of DG, I made gravy and it was also delicious. And there's enough left over for dinner today - can't complain about that.

It's been a lovely weekend. I've spent hours in the kitchen, pottering and concocting and generally having a very satisfying time, but all good things . . . as the saying goes. One can try to be careful, but, at the moment, the name of the game is losing, not maintaining, so it's back on the wagon tomorrow morning (and leftovers today!) And isn't that a fine collection of sayings? :0)

So, the last notBodychef day is:
B: Scrambled eggs on toast
L: Sweet potato and lentil soup; fruit
D: Roast pork tenderloin; maybe a few new potatoes; cabbage and broccoli; lemon and lime sorbet
Snacks: dried fruit, Brazil nuts

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Sunday morning

. . . although it feels like Monday; I suppose that's because there was no school on Friday. I've been a busy bee already this morning. One loaf baked and cooling (OK, so that was overnight really), all the vegetables ready for dinner, the syrup made for the lemon and lime sorbet I am making today (cooling in the fridge as I type) and the sweet potato and lentil soup for tea is simmering on the range. All very satisfying!

In preparation for our 'make one new ice cream each day' resolution for the Streele Farm holiday, I've been digging out a few recipes and trying them. Sorbet is certainly not all that healthy, laden with sugar as it is, but it is low calorie (as long as you don't have too much) and it's refreshing. I've made a syrup using lemon and lime and will try some of it in the ice cream machine. If it works, we'll have that for lunch and I'll make and freeze the remainder this afternoon. If it doesn't, the syrup will make a refreshing drink with some added grated root ginger and diluted with sparkling water. I'm hoping it will work, of course, and intend to use some of those 'useful pots' to store the sorbet in single portions. This will get round the 'take it out half an hour before' thing.

The soup is of the usual 'bung it all in together with stock and seasonings, boil till soft and zizz with the stick blender' variety. Never fails, a great way to use up leftover vegetables and sauces and never tastes the same from one time to the next. I'll set one portion aside and that will be my lunch tomorrow on the last notBodychef day!

DG willing, I hope we can get over to DDs to feed the cats, etc, this morning. It is fine at the moment so maybe Theo will get his walk today. That will get that done and off my conscience. Then I just have ironing to do and I'll do that while watching some rubbish or other on the telly!

NotBodychef today is:
B: Was going to be toast but there was a bit of pasta salad left over and, as I'm not actually feeling all that hungry, I polished that off instead.
D: Roast pork, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cabbage; lemon and lime sorbet
T: Sweet potato and lentil soup with bread to dunk; Fruit for me, orange loaf cake for DG and DD
Snacks: none!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Later on

I forgot to say what the notBodychef food was today!

B: Seeded bread (toasted) with marmalade.

L: Roasted vegetable and lentil soup with toast croutons; fruit (DG will probably have cake)

D: cold roast chicken with salad and pasta salad; cheat's cherry ice cream with fruit salad.

Snacks: hopefully none, after yesterday evening's little breakout!

The cheat ice cream is actually just a tub of Mullerlight Cherry Yogurt, churned and frozen in the ice cream maker. It makes enough for two so really a very low calories dessert.

Saturday morning

Teachers are usually inveterate hoarders. All those 'useful' pots, boxes, containers, bits of shiny paper, 'interesting' pictures - they all end up jostling for space in a cupboard or two from whence they regularly burst forth is a glorious orgy of mess and muddle before being shoved back in again, out of sight but not out of mind! I wouldn't go so far as to say you can't be a teacher if you're not a hoarder, but . . .

One of the things that appeals to me about Bodychef, apart from the food itself, of course, is the way the meals come in 'useful containers'. There are the 'Chinese takeaway' containers for the dinners. There are the round containers for things like salads, jelly, fruit salad, trifle, etc. There are the smaller round containers ideal for nuts, dips and spreads and then there are the diddy little pots which hold just (hang on, will go and measure . . .) just 45 mls, perfect for salad dressings, etc. They all have lids that are close fitting (not necessarily waterproof) and they are all SO useful!

Why are they useful? Well, I dunno, but they are! I'm a teacher - I know!

Friday, 28 May 2010

You think I would know by now . . .

All of us are sitting round the table finishing our dinner. Suddenly DG jumps up and makes off. I call him back to sit down. He gives me a pitying look and says 'Hey, I'm autistic! I just needed a little bounce!!'
OK, fair enough. So I continue 'If you've finished, isn't there something you have forgotten to say?' (meaning thanks and may I leave the table).
Another pitying look. 'No, I've just told you something, haven't I?'
So in steps DD to explain.

You think I'd learn by now, wouldn't you? Literal is the name of the game with DG! For example, never say 'Would you like to . . . start clearing the table/start loading the dishwasher.' The perfectly honest and polite response is likely to be 'No, thank you!'
You say ' Time to . . . ' instead.

Mind you, it's been such a busy day, no wonder I forgot. But I have my microwave and very nice it is too - small, simple, straightforward and a good name so likely to be reliable (I can hope). Dinner was absolutely delicious but I can't eat like that again for a while or the weight will just pile back on again. And I really don't want that!

Friday morning

Start of half term. No need to get up early. So what happens - I am wide awake at 1:30! Not that it really mattered this time - I came down, did some computer stuff, went back up when I felt tired again and dropped back off to sleep. I finally woke to the aroma of part baked bread which is now making the house smell wonderful. Less than half an hour till it's all finished.

Oh, they were lively yesterday, so lively! It was, unfortunately, a non-uniform day, in exchange for various donations for the June Fair. It was like sitting on top of a mini volcano all day and I'm very glad I didn't have to make them do any serious work. The quiz went down a real treat and they enjoyed the ICT work, creating symmetrical pictures, using Dazzle. It was a bit of a rush for Liz and me as we also had to finish two displays, one being the big board behind the secretary's area and the other our share of the art boards opposite the head's room. So one way or another we were kept busy all day!

Today will be a bit busy too, I think. Apart from the token bit of report writing, I have two beds to get ready, some shopping to do and also some baking/cooking. Now I'm off Bodychef for four days I'm seizing the opportunity to spend a bit more time in the kitchen. DG told me what he wants to learn how to cook this time: a roast dinner (with roast potatoes, please, Nan). So that's Sunday's dinner sorted. We decided on pork so I wonder if I can get just a small joint of some kind. I'll have to scrutinise the meat counter and see what they can do for me there.

DD and I have decided that we don't get enough ice cream. At least, that's the only reason I can think of for what we said we would do. The 'big' piece of equipment I will be taking with me on holiday will be my ice cream maker and we're going to make a different ice cream each day, yum yum! I thought I'd start breaking the poor thing in gently tonight by making a recipe I found for 'old fashioned vanilla ice cream'.

Funnily enough, when you google 'low calorie ice cream' not a lot comes up - I wonder why! I did find a few recipes, filled with yucky stuff like Splenda, which I can't stand, substitute ingredients I don't actually recognise (I think they must be available in the USA) and so on. I reckon something as contradictory as low calorie ice cream ought to be illegal. I'd rather have the real stuff but less of it. So tonight it's vanilla ice cream made with condensed milk maybe the toffee kind (oooh-er), single cream, creme fraiche and vanilla essence.
Apart from the occasion blip as above, I'm going to try to keep more or less on the straight and narrow and will probably be pouring out my woes in here through the weekend. Sorry, gentle readers, I apologise in advance!

So today's NotBodychef is:
B: Beans on toast
L: Chickpea and tomato pate with ryvita; small salad; fruit platter
D: Herbed turkey meatballs in a rich tomato sauce; pasta; vanilla ic e cream with strawberry sauce.
Snacks: can I manage without any? Who knows? If I can't it will be Brazil nuts and dried fruit.

The pate, the meatballs and sauce and the bread will all be home made, as will the falafels I will make for DD instead of the meatballs, as she is vegetarian. I'd also like to make an orange loaf cake if I have time.
Some of these will be from foody mags so I guess you could say I'm having a F M C catchup! It's a good excuse for a bit of fun with delicious results

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Thursday evening

Half term has started. OK, so it's report writing day tomorrow but we can stay at home and don;t have to go into school at all. And we can do the report writing another day - have to, in fact - if tomorrow is going to be a day for collapsing in a heap and chilling.

It's also the end of Bodychef for four days. So for the first time in six weeks I've put the ingredients for a wholewheat seeded load in the bread maker (it's lovely waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread) and am concocting a shopping list to get all the stuff I need for the weekend with DG. Back on the Bodychef Bandwagon on Tuesday. It the meanwhile, I am trying to stay on the straight and narrow by planning everything and only getting in what's needed. I hope DG will survive!

I'm having DG because DD is off on a jaunt to a national tonkinese cat show somewhere or other. She's staying here tomorrow night, leaving early Saturday morning, coming back Sunday afternoon or evening and staying over Sunday night.

And best of all - no school next week!

Thursday morning

. . . and the last day of this half term. Tomorrow is report writing day. They take an awful lot more time than that, of course, but it's jolly nice to have some time. The children are tired and some are a bit close to the edge this week so I have a nice day planned. First of all it's the worst bit - the weekly spelling test.
Once that is over we will be editing some photos for the art board - using Photoshop and the interactive whiteboard so that everyone can have a go. They will enjoy that!
Then it's a house quiz competition with such beauties as . . .

Why did Jack's mum have to sell the cow

  1. Because the cow ate all her daffodils
  2. Because the cottage was too small for her
  3. Because they needed the money to buy food
. . . interspersed with more serious questions to check their understanding of the work we've done on plants this term.
After that it's the computer suite, which they always enjoy.
Finally it's (weather permitting) games this afternoon.

All good stuff!! Not too demanding, plenty of enjoyment and hopefully they will all survive.

Food! Last day of Bodychef until Tuesday next week.
B: There was a slice of rather nice seeded bread, a slice of cheese, two slices of ham and some salsa, so I made an open toasted cheese and ham sandwich and very nice it was too.
L: Red pepper and almond dip with oatcakes and crudites
D: Chilli con carne with a titchy bit of soured cream, broccoli and then jelly!!

And now I have to finish planning the weekend food for me and DG and go shopping. What fun!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Wednesday evening

I love the head teacher. She cancelled staff meeting tonight, thank goodness. I was dreading the struggle to keep awake! All four of us involved in yesterday's meeting looked like something the cat dragged in today . . .

Just a short blog this evening as my brain seems to have gone on holiday without me, so I'll just go through the food today. I only ate half of yesterday's dinner as I didn't want a big meal before the meeting and afterwards was way too late. As a result I ate yesterday's very nice salmon steak for breakfast today - I could get used to that!
B: Salmon steak with mayo; apple
L: Tuna and cucumber mix; coleslaw; chopped mixed salad
D: Cheese topped chicken; cauliflower mash; fresh fruit platter
Snacks: Cashews; pineapple pieces (fresh pineapple); satsuma (or the like)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tuesday evening

Oh, I am tired. I've just back from a long and difficult meeting which caused a very broken night last night and severe nerves all through today. I'm getting too old for all this!

I turned up at school this morning to find that Mandy and I were more or less in charge as Susannah and Natalie were on a course. And there was a pile of behaviour issues from the day before that needed finishing off. And then there was another playground issue to deal with after play. SEN work was minimal (it was my day out of class for SEN).
As I've said before, If I'd wanted to be a head, I'd have gone for it a long time ago!

Never mind, tomorrow should be easier and after tomorrow, there's only one more day and half term starts. Phew!

Tuesday morning

Bright Little Boy loves to be helpful. Yesterday he came up to me with a problem.
'Mrs Clark', said he, 'we really do need some more wipes for the whiteboards. They're getting a bit manky.'
A bit manky - that was the understatement of the week! They are falling to bits and hardly do their job any more.
'Thanks, B L B,' I responded. ' You'll need to remind me to bring in some J cloths tomorrow, please.'

And that was that - I thought no more of it until I opened Facebook in the evening and saw the following, via his mum's account:
'Dear Mrs Clark we need more j clothe wipes. Now get them! From B L B. '
I had to laugh - he may write a mean Jack and the Beanstalk story, but I think his persuasive letter writing skills need a bit of fine tuning! It worked, however - I now have a pile of cut up whiteboard wipes waiting for me to take them into school. Hope I don't forget them!

Housepoint for you, B L B, for being so helpful!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Monday evening

And that's morning playground duty done for this school year. Yippeeeee!

Hasn't it been warm again today. It seems to have cooled off a bit at the time of writing but earlier on it was baking. We (six of us) had a meeting in the head's room after school. We needed to keep the windows shut as what we were saying was kinda confidential and conversations in there can be heard by anyone standing by the photocopier if that window is also open (which it was). After a while we could bear it no longer so we all decamped to the computer suite where there's air conditioning and it was bliss, even with the little stools!

I was SO PROUD of my class today. It was the last big writing task of the school year, probably, as unaided as possible, for levelling. They worked on an introduction to Jack and the Beanstalk last week so today it was to write the rest of the story. They had a dauntingly long set of WILFs (that, to the uninitiated means What I'm Looking For) including:
  • interesting words, descriptions and sentences
  • good handwriting
  • plausible spellings (yes, I did explain what that meant, although they mostly already know)
  • capital letters and full stops (one can hope, can't one!)
  • finger spaces between words
  • paragraphs (for those likely to achieve a good level 2)
. . . and so on.

And you know what - every single child had a good try, even the SEN children. I had intended to send them off with the the class TA for more supported writing but she was ill, so they had to cope in class. Little R did particularly well, D actually wrote well without tears, J wrote independently (even if you can't really read it) and M should achieve a level 2a, the writing was so good - paragraphs, a range of punctuation including speech marks and exclamation marks and excellent spelling.
And Rapidly Improving Little Girl has improved even further recently! She's done amazingly well this year.
So it was stickers and claps all round before home time.

Monday morning

Today is memorable because it's the last playground duty for me this school year! I'm off the rota next half term. Yippee!!!

I've done some searching around for microwaves and narrowed it down to two, a Bosch (NOT the £800 one) and a Panasonic. They both have electronic dial function for the timer and clock. Apart from that, from what I've read, they're both much of a muchness so it's down to price and availability. That's going to be the big half term decision, I think!

Have a great day!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunday morning

I went to Sainsbury's yesterday, the first time in many, many moons, so I just had to get their magazine. I've seen this mag grow from a free handout all the way to the glossy production it is today and I feel it's worth the money one has to pay as much as the market leaders like Delicious, Olive, etc.
Anyway, I was reading through the recipes and I noticed this lovely comment from Nigella.
'If children are eating, it's wise to omit the chillies - unless they're being very annoying'.
Nice one!

For once, I managed to get just about all my chores done yesterday; there's just a little dusting to be done. As I managed to remember to get a padlock yesterday, maybe I will get round to bunging some stuff in the garage now, and to sort out the shed before it gets too hot. That would be a very useful thing accomplished!
George came round yesterday and, to my surprise, looked quite optimistic about the mess. He's going to start with a couple of sessions over half term which should get the garden more or less tidy and then take it from there. I'd really like this to work.

I made a very simple salad dressing yesterday which was rather nice. Just one part olive oil to three parts apple balsamic vinegar, some runny honey, grain mustard, black pepper and garlic puree, all bunged in a jar and shaken. I used one of those tall, thin jars that olives come in and it looked 'right'! Another to remember for the family meal in the summer. I have a right old collection of food ideas for that occasion now and am going to have to start doing some eliminating! It will, however, be jolly satisfying to have the time to make most of the dishes from scratch. There will be twelve of us altogether and I can live off the leftovers for the rest of the week until I go off on holiday!

Today's Bodychef food is:
B: Muffin with jam; apple
D: Beef goulash; cauliflower; new potatoes; yogurt and mint dressing; chocolate biscuit cake (no idea what that is)
T: Chicken strips; pitta bread; tomato and cucumber salad.
Snacks are an orange and sunflower seeds

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Decisions, decisions!!

I didn't realise there were so many microwaves around! I was very taken with one, a Bosch that seemed to do everything apart from the washing up, but, at nearly £800 (yes, honestly), I decided it would be best to give that one a miss! I shall do a bit of Internet hunting although it's a pain that some of the pictures aren't all that clear.

And you would have been proud of me in Sainsburys! The amount of stuff I picked up and then put back - I think I must have been shopping pretty mindlessly over that last little while because it felt almost automatic to load the basket. I didn't though!!
What I did get was a target skirt. It's just a little on the tight side still but a couple more weeks of Bodychef should see me in in, I hope. Fingers closed (and mouth shut).

Saturday morning

I'm going on a bear hunt
I'm going to catch a big one . . .

OK, so it's not really a bear hunt, it's a new microwave hunt! My old (very old) one still works, but it's big and clunky, yucky and makes funny noises while it's working so it is probably on its way to the graveyard anyway! It also has so many functions I have never used, isn't the easiest to programme and is confusing to others. I only use the re-heat function and, occasionally, the defrost. Oh, and for making lemon curd, but any M W could do that!
I know what I want, it's a question of finding the best fit. Just a plain, simple microwave, no fancy extra bits! I gather the newest models don't require turntables - that would be good!
I'll let you know.

This afternoon George is coming round. As I said before, I just hope he doesn't take one look and run away in utter panic. It would be wonderful if he did feel he could take on some gardening stuff for me. I'm just SO lazy!!

The rest of the day will be taken up with the usual Saturday pursuits - changing the bed linen, washing, drying and ironing, tidying, dusting and dysoning and watching Doctor Who! Oh, and tidying out the car which is an almighty mess at the moment.
Bodychef food today:
B: Fresh fruit salad; toast and marmite (it should be jam but I am substituting - I get hardly any marmite nowadays and I love the stuff)
L: egg mayo on ryvita; salad; plums
D: Spicy mince; carrot and raisin salad on little gem leaves; fruit jelly
Snacks: apple; dates; sunflower seeds

Friday, 21 May 2010

Friday morning

I am glad, glad, glad (to quote Pollyanna) that we only have inflatables once a year! There's absolutely no way we could have got any serious work done in the afternoon! I sat with the most needy group as they finished off some work and we were constantly interrupted by a running commentary of everything that was happening on the school field. I reckon the workmen couldn't even blink without me being told!

Afternoon playtime for the infants was funny. We decided that we would let them out but that they MUST stay on the top playground only (for safety reasons - there were some lorries about) So, of course, they were six deep at the edge of the playground watching all that was going on. Actually they were very good indeed - not one child even tried to break the bounds and get closer, tempting though it much have been.

Today they will be feeling the after effects. The candy floss, burgers, hot dogs and ice cream will likely have made them disinclined to sleep at their normal time, despite the exercise, and today they will be hung over (from excess carbs) and tired as a result. I'm very glad I decided not to do the unaided writing today!

Talking of excess carbs, it's back to the premier plan over the weekend!
B: shreddies with sultanas; apple
L: cheese, ham and pickle sandwich; cherry tomatoes; yogurt
D: paella (basically a nice, savoury rice); salad; trifle
Snacks are pumpkin seeds, walnuts and dates

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thursday morning

. . . and it looks fine outside. What a lovely day it was yesterday - it was a pleasure to be out for infant play duty in the afternoon and feel warm - the children loved it too.

We really need the weather to stay fine all day because it's inflatables after school on the school field. Of course, that means all afternoon to set it up which, in turn, means no field for lunch play, afternoon play or for games - in fact, no games this afternoon. Never mind, we need time to get on with our spoon puppets and with the puppet theatre, not to mention a fair pile of unfinished work! This will be the ideal opportunity. It's all go in year 1!

They just love the inflatables. Huge enormous bouncy things of all shapes, sizes and descriptions, and all free after the initial price is paid. The parents bring rugs and picnic things and camp down in the middle of the field while the children rush madly from one thing to another, getting thoroughly over-excited and gorging themselves on burgers, hot dogs, ice cream and candy floss from the stalls on the playground. It's a great money raiser for the school.

It takes all afternoon to set the inflatables up and, as my bay has windows that look directly onto the field, I reckon finishing off is as much as we're going to get accomplished, if I'm lucky. They will be totally hyper with excitement!

Today is the last day of the accidental low carb food - it's back to the premier plan for the weekend and then low carb from next Tuesday (which was the original intention). So today's food is:
B: Fruit platter; yogurt; seeds (probably won't have these for brekky)
L: tuna; salad; grapes
D: Chicken fricassee; broccoli; carrots; an oat cookie with cranberry chips is the dessert so I might save that for supper.
Snacks are cashews and Brazil nuts.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Wednesday evening

I was thrilled with my class today. They took the NFER progress in maths test and every single one of them did really well. OK, one or two didn't really, but have made significant progress, so I count that as really good! Also, they coped a lot better with the 'test' situation - most will be completely ready for year 2 when the time comes.

I also want to mention how very delicious the Bodychef food has been today. Really tasty and satisfying. I love salmon anyway so to get double dose of it was a treat of the highest order (only slight exaggeration here). I think dinner was meant to be cold but I heated it up and thoroughly enjoyed it that way.

All the interviews, special lessons, etc are finished. I have no idea who we have appointed as the Fridays only teacher but I'll hear in due course. I thought the teacher who took my class wasn't wonderful - her speaking voice was unfortunate, very Essex and nasal and just not pleasant to listen to - but then she finished with a song and the whole lesson came alive. My class get a lot of singing and they enjoy it very much. I'm not sure I could live with that speaking voice for very long though!

And finally - I know how easy it is to make typos, I do it all the time, myself, but I had to have a gentle giggle earlier this evening when someone messaged that she was 'sticking to her gums' - it sounds pretty painful to me!

Very early Wednesday morning

It's about half past three and here I am, wide awake. It's a while since I did this but I guess I was due for another very early morning. I've had six hours sleep, more or less, so it isn't so bad really.

When I checked my mailbox, there was a message from D, the mother of a girl I taught in year 1, many, many moons ago. Her son is interested in gardening and is going to start doing some garden maintenance for me for a very reasonable rate per hour (and plenty of choccy biscuits and cola, I suspect). Small as my garden is, I really am not keeping on top of it right now and need it to look nice for the family barbecue in the summer, so this is a really welcome move. I just hope he doesn't run a mile when he sees it on Saturday!

I've got permission to leave school immediately this afternoon. It's DG's annual review of statement and I'm going to it with DD. It should be extremely interesting and I do wonder what his targets will be for the coming year.

The other notable happenings today are the NFER Maths test first thing (poor children) and then being taught by yet another candidate after play. Oh, and I will probably have to take family assembly as Susannah and Natalie will be caught up in the interviews.

The food today is fishy!
B: Smoked salmon, soft cheese and a wholemeal roll (I'm adding lemon juice and black pepper)
L: Chicken, chickpea, lime and coriander salad and some mayo
D: Salmon steak, puy lentil and tomato salad and a brownie for dessert.
Snacks are a small (very small) cheese portion and some almonds.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Tuesday evening

Quinoa: OK, I could get used to it. I boiled it with some chicken stock powder and it tasted OK.

Interviews: It was very. very interesting to see the process from the senior management side and to gain an understanding of the way decisions are made. Only two of the four candidates turned up today. One was offered a post yesterday and the other just didn't appear - no message, no excuse, nothing. I hope she's OK, because it's most unusual to get no notification at all. Of the two we did see, one was head and shoulders the best of the whole lot and she will be teaching with me next year. The other successful candidate was from yesterday's bunch.

Tomorrow it's the part time interviews. The successful candidate will teach FS and KS1 classes as part of our PPA cover. I'm not involved in that, although my class will be taught from 11:30 to 12:00. It's just as well they are a generally good humoured lot - they've had a lot of strange people teaching them this week - strange in terms of not known, I mean. After that we can all get back to normal again, thank goodness.

Tuesday morning

. . . and the first day of the Bodychef low carb plan. There was a bit of a muddle and last night the first low carb hamper arrived. No problem, I spoke to Jayne over the phone and as it's the same price, and what I intended to do anyway, it's perfectly OK. It looks rather good too!
So, here's the damage today.
B: bodychef cereal (very seedy looking) and a yogurt
L: hummus with oatcakes. A fruit salad.
D: Creamy chicken curry with quinoa, fruit jelly (which seems rather out of place in all this other health-food type stuff)
Snacks: walnuts, sunflower seeds, grapes. The grapes are a substitute for pumpkin seeds which I don't like nearly as much as sunflower seeds!

Quinoa, eh? I've never, ever had that. I vaguely remember it from 'You are what you eat' with that weird doctor who wasn't really a doctor and who had an obsession with quinoa, nuts, seeds and everyone else's bowel functions! I remember watching one episode when one poor, poor woman had to climb into a bath that was filled with all the food the had eaten in the previous week, all churned up together - well, not the actually food itself, that would have been beyond gross. I am still amazed that the lady in question did so, and felt so much for her as she made obvious and valiant efforts not to puke. I'm afraid that put me off the programme and the system for life: it just felt way too close to intimidation and bullying for me, personally, and I never watched it again.

However, I digress - back to quinoa.
I had to look up how to cook it and it seems you rinse it well and then just boil it. One web page suggested adding stock to the water to flavour it and I might do that, using marigold powder. It doesn't look wonderful at the moment but maybe it will be OK with the chicken curry, which does look yummy! I'll let you know!!

One negative - I've been passing all the little pats of Flora (spit, spit), jam and marmalade, biscuits, etc on to DD as I use my home made and (shock horror) real butter instead and substitute nuts for the biscuits. This plan doesn't have jam, marmalade, biscuits - well, I suppose it wouldn't, would it? Sorry DD. You can still have the pumpkin seeds though!

Because of the initial issue I had with the size of the portions, I dug out three standard 'plates'. One is a square plate which makes to food look really posh! The next is a smallish round plate - in between a dinner plate and a dessert plate. I use that for good old British stuff like cottage pie, savoury crumbles, etc. And then there's the pasta bowl - again, not too big and ideal for gloopy, soupy things like curry and rice (or quinoa!!), pasta and meatballs, etc.
These three sit on the side now and I always use one of them. It does make a significant difference. You'd think that a medium portion is the same, whatever you put it on, but somehow a portion looking lost and lonely on a large plate has a very different effect on me than a portion looking big and important on a smaller plate. The latter satisfies, the former does not. Weird!! The eyes are the window to the soul, they say, and windows usually work both ways, not just in to out.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Monday evening

First day of the week and I'm worn out. I don't know why - it's been an ordinary day for me today, apart from my class being taught by one of the candidates, meaning I had half an hour to catch up with some SEN paperwork, a very welcome opportunity indeed. At lunchtime we all had to be polite to the four candidates who came today, over lunch in the staffroom. I was a Good Girl and resisted some delicious looking squashy sandwiches but simply couldn't resist the fruit. Grapes and fresh pineapple, which was absolutely delicious. Hope there's more tomorrow.

Ah, yes, tomorrow. Mandy (KS2 coordinator) was out of her class today to do the necessary with the interviews. I will be doing the same tomorrow instead of SEN. So that's greeting each candidate, answering questions, making sure they have all the resources they need, getting them coffee/tea, etc, taking them to the class they are going to teach, introducing them to the teacher, coming back 5 mins later to observe, with Susannah and Natalie. Then escorting them to the head's room for the formal interview, collecting them half an hour later, taking them to the cookery room where they have their written task. Then . . . Oh, you get the idea - and it's all four times. No wonder Mandy looked tired at the end of the day!

And then a decision has to be made - and that, I suspect, will be very hard and may take us way beyond normal home time. Three of the four candidates today were very strong in their different ways.
Oh, well, it keeps us all out of mischief!

Monday morning and a happy bunny!

It's four weeks now since I started Bodychef, so I decided to weigh. I've lost 1 stone and 1 lb, which I'm really very pleased about. The next weigh is on May 31st - I wonder what that will be.

It's the first interview day today. Four lucky candidates are giving a lesson (with a class they don't know), doing a task involving assessment and next step targets and having a face to face interview. Sooner them than me. I'm so glad I've only ever had to face the f2f part. My class' s turn is at 11:30, so I'll get to see that, and I have a chance to observe the one after play as Liz will come and mind mine while I go to hers to watch. Then on Tuesday I am involved all the way through as I am out of class all day.

Bodychef food today is:
B: Bran flakes, grapefruit and orange salad
L: cream cheese, crackers, coleslaw and a salad (left over from yesterday), then fruit
D: cottage pie, cauliflower, cabbage and then brownie and custard.
Snacks are dried fruit. nuts and a pear

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sunday evening

Another pleasant day, despite the rain which arrived late afternoon. I spent a few hours with DD, sorting out some stuff with her, then came home, stopping off at Morrisons on the way for a few bits and bobs. When I unpacked, I realised I'd forgotten to get some mushroom (or other vegetarian) pate for her for tea. That's one of the few disadvantages of Bodychef. Because it's all provided, the fridge is virtually devoid of the usual things that one can bring out for guests.

Anyway, I didn't feel like going back to Morrisons, so I concocted a pate. I zizzed a small can of butter beans (drained) with some philly light, some mayo, some semi-dried tomatoes with a little of the oil and some capers that came in the jar, some lemon juice, a little garlic puree, some chilli puree, some tomato puree and some salt and pepper. It really was rather delicious, although DD said it would have been even nicer with some feta also zizzed in. Butter bean, feta and tomato pate - if certainly does have a good ring to it, doesn't it? However, judging by the way she tucked into it, I don't think the missing feta caused too many problems.
One I intend to write up and do again - a delicious doddle!

I spent some time while DD and DG were here to go through a lot of old magazines, tear out what I wanted to keep and consign the remains to the recycling bag (which is now full and heavy)

While all this was going on, through the day, the dehydrator was working on some lemon slices. The results are awfully pretty, but lacking in scent, which is rather a disappointment, but maybe some lemon oil will perk them up a bit. They'll make nice Christmas decorations or maybe cards, with sparkly stuff to decorate.

Tomorrow I will have been on Bodychef for one month, so I think I will weigh. Fingers crossed!

Sunday morning

. . . and a fine sunny morning it is too. I gather rain is on the way but just now it's not threatening in the least.

Yesterday was very satisfying. I got all the washing and most of the ironing done - just have to do the T shirts now, I was perfectly back on track with my eating, which was a relief, I had some good rests in between doing stuff and Doctor Who was good!

Also, I got some good news. DD phoned and we had a chat about stuff. I've said before that DG is autistic and goes to an excellent special school around here, where he has been accelerated and is in a class with students a fair bit older. Also, once a week, he goes with an LSA to the local boys' grammar school (highly academic) for one of the two lessons the other boys have in a particular area of maths - I call it number crunching maths.
He took the end of year exam the other week. Bearing in mind he only has one of the two lessons each week, he is not given homework, he doesn't have the taught background or learning experiences the other boys have and he didn't revise (apart from playing out the maths lessons), I am thrilled with the following: DG got 73% and came equal eighth! Isn't that fantastic? What a star!

Food today:
B: crumpets and jam, pear
D: sweet and sour chicken, rice, fruit fool
T: tuna, salad and pitta bread, orange
Snacks: Brazils and dried fruit

I'm always a bit ambivalent about these crumpets. To me, those holes are designed with melting butter in mind and the flora pats (spit) that are provided just don't wing it, so I don't use them and just have jam. A bit of a waste of a good crumpet though, not being allowed to fulfil their prime directive! Not that it stops me eating them, of course!

I've treated myself to a pot of 'proper' coffee this morning: usually it's instant. It smells done so must go and test the results. Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Saturday morning

I almost slept the clock round and feel a lot better for it. After waking very early and coming down for a coffee, I was able to get back to sleep again and didn't wake until about seven thirty, which is almost midday for me!
What happened was that I felt terribly hungry and a coffee just didn't do the necessary, so I took myself back up to bed with a book in the hopes that I would be too lazy to come back down to get food. Why is it, I wonder, that after eating too much (which I did, yesterday evening - emotional comfort stuff going on) one always feels more hungry the next day? Anyway, the next thing I remember is waking at half past seven, book on the floor, slightly muggy head but feeling much more lively all round.

I'm hoping to have a restful day today. I do have to go into school at some point to tidy the mess I was too tired to deal with yesterday. Normally I'd leave it, lazy person that I am, but my class is one of the classes being used for the job candidates for their interview lesson and it would be most unfair to greet the poor hopeful with a mess like the one that currently lives on my table. It shouldn't take too long! Famous last words!

Apart from that, it's the usual round of washing, ironing and clearing up.

Annabeth sent me a list of the Bodychef low carb meals (thanks very much) and they actually look so good. I thought I'd give it a try when my current order finishes. So I ordered a low carb three day hamper for just before the first weekend of half term, will be doing my own thing over that weekend because DG is staying, and then go back on it for a while after the weekend. It does salmon which the premier plan doesn't, and more interesting looking lunches, such as aubergine and chickpea pate, red pepper and almond dip, Waldorf salad . . . and the dinners look pretty good too. A change is as good as a rest, as the saying goes.

Food today:
B Toast with blackberry jam, apple
L: Egg mayo, ryvita, salad, a plum and an apple
D: Steak meat loaf with tomato sauce, new potatoes, broccoli and fruit jelly
Snacks: Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds

Friday, 14 May 2010

Friday evening

. . . and I am exhausted. It's been a pretty heavy day, one way and another.

PPA - interrupted because a candidate for one of the two posts we have advertised came to have a look round the school. She was lovely, it wasn't unwelcome in the least, she couldn't come before and I, for one, would be happy to work with her and was very pleased to welcome her and talk to her, but it interrupted our planning session. Worked through play, had a really productive maths lesson (great), worked through lunch, then got called to read through some Important Paperwork. Had to go back to office in infant play and again after school. Talked to head about something bothering me - and ended up feeling a right prat, but better to say than to bottle it up. As the saying goes, the only stupid question is the one you don't ask!

In-between the children have been wonderful. More and more, as the final term draws to a close, do I realise how much I am going to miss them. I've said before and I will say again - they have been the very nicest class I have ever had in decades of teaching and I doubt I will have a class like them again. I love them to bits and will so miss them. It's hard to think about it really.

I must take some more photos - it's ages since I posted any!

Friday morning

Can it possibly be the end of the week again, so soon?

I had to have a clamp down day yesterday. My little dears came into school sassy, overly chatty and generally most unlike their usual calm selves. It ended up with me bringing them in from outdoor games, getting them to change in silence and then sitting while I 'spoke' to them! They were wingless angels for the remainder of the day but will it have lasted overnight? Who knows - watch this space!

Today is PPA morning so Liz and I are both out of class first thing. I wonder if I will actually be able to plan with Liz - the last few weeks have seen me being called to do other stuff instead, which is a bit of a pain! A lot of a pain, in fact! Fingers crossed!
Looking at last year's planning, I see that it was the last week of the half term. This year we have two weeks left. That's good, because everything was so rushed last year and some things didn't get covered properly. With another two weeks, it should all go much better.

B: Bran flakes and sultanas, orange
L: Ham, cheese and pickle sandwich, cherry tomatoes, apple
D: Savoury chicken and vegetable rice, fruit salad and yogurt
Snacks: apple, dates, walnuts

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Thursday morning

A slightly warmer night and yesterday seemed a bit warmer too, when the sun was out. It's been a chilly few weeks though, one way and another and those frosts are a bit worrying if you've put tender plants out. And I'm still turning the heating up morning and evening.

Today is a pretty comfortable day. Maths and literacy before play (no assembly this week because of SATs - spit, spit), ICT after play and music and outdoor PE (weather permitting) this afternoon. Should be good!
The beans are progressing well. Some of the children will be taking theirs home tomorrow, which caused great glee all round. They have major plans for planing in the garden and seeing if their bean will grow up to the sky, despite spoilsport Mrs Clark reminding them that it's most unlikely! And one little girl came up to me on the quiet to ask me if I could let her have another bean because 'I'm doing gardending, Mrs Clark, and I want to plant another bean.' I gave her one, of course, and just hope that mum knows what she's doing!
This theme has been a big hit so far. With the science out of the way, we are now concentrating on the story itself: wooden spoon puppets, a home (school!) made puppet theatre and playscripts are all on the plan and a good time will be had by all.

Today's Bodychef food:
B: Muffin with marmalade, yogurt
L: Tuna with cucumber, pitta bread, yogurt and fruit
D: Chicken crumble, new potatoes and broccoli and then trifle
Snacks: an orange and sunflower seeds
The next hamper arrives tonight!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wednesday morning

And a very cold morning it is too. I knew it must have been a cold night: when I woke for my usual stagger to the loo and back in the middle of the night, I was shivering and glad to get back to the warmth under the duvet. Looking out now, I can see a fair old frost on the roofs and cars, although the plants don't seem to be affected, thank goodness.

I was hoping that, apart from the hour after morning play, today would be a pretty normal day, although I'm not sure about this now after yesterday. Fingers crossed for calm and reason!

I had to smile - yesterday I was working at the Important Paperwork using the class laptop as mine is connected to the interactive whiteboard and with my back to the class when I heard a rather weary voice asking 'do you have any idea what I have just asked everyone to do?' When I turned, I saw my two Daydream Boys standing sheepishly in front of Faith, trying to remember what they were supposed to be doing. If they'd have just glanced around they could have worked it out but they didn't think of that!! Dear me, that would be far too sensible! Bless them.

Food today:
B Bran flakes with fresh strawberries and then orange and grapefruit salad - and very colourful it all looked too.
L: Chicken paste, potato salad, beetroot and ryvita.
D: Meatballs in tomato sauce with tagliatelle and a leaf salad, followed by pear in jelly.
Snacks: rice cakes with marmite, apple

The chicken paste comes as chunky slices of chicken breast - proper cooked chicken, not processed slices. I always pop it in the mini-chopper with a bit of philly light, mayo or salad cream, some salt and pepper and some lemon juice and zizz it to a spreadable paste. It's tasty, less dry and seems to go a long way. The rice cakes are supposed to be with Flora (little pats are included) and jam, but I'm afraid I substitute Anchor spreadable and some marmite. I love Marmite and Bodychef doesn't 'do' marmite! The Flora pats and jam portions get passed on the DG for his packed dinners!

Here's to a good (and warmer) day!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Tuesday evening

. . . and what a day. I got loads of paperwork completed in the morning and the SENCO cluster meeting went really well. However, stuff happened and actions have had to be taken and it's all terribly sad. Life can really stink at times.

Oh, dear!

Tuesday morning

Last night I hunted everywhere for my copy of Photoshop Elements 6. Do you think I could find it anywhere? Nope, not a sausage! Most frustrating. So, being an impatient individual at times, I went on Amazon and bought another, used but as new in a sealed box (it said), for a pretty reasonable price. Of course, having done that, the old one will now come out of hiding and make itself known, won't it! They always do!
The new one should arrive in school in a few days and then I can get it onto the class laptop for the children to use. I'm not terribly clever with it myself, but the basics of it are very easy to learn and apply and I think the children will have a good time while learning a little bit about photo editing of the weird and wonderful kind. And the results should make a good display too - striking and 'different'. That's what I hope, anyway!
NOTE TO SELF: Show Faith how to save edited photos. I don't want to lose the originals.

Today is Tuesday - SEN day again. There's another Annual Review coming up after half term so I have to get that paperwork and organisation started off. In the afternoon it's the SENCO cluster meeting and, as Sheila is off on a course today, lunchtime will be hard work, chair and table moving and getting the essential tea and coffee stuff ready being a part of it. I must remember to grab Steve (lucky Steve!) when I get into school and ask him to put some of the hall chairs in the resource room before lunch time.

And some good news for us - in here I have been wittering on about 'important paperwork', etc, from time to time. At the end of last week we heard that one of the more important bits of 'important paperwork' has had positive result and the LEA are taking the action we wanted/needed them to take. Thank goodness - I really wasn't sure about whether they would agree with us, so we're all very relieved - hugely relieved, in fact.

And finally - today's eating. The new hamper arrived overnight, packed with goodies!
B: Bran flakes with sultanas. Fruit
L: Cheese, ham and pickle sandwich (let's hope this one doesn't escape!), tomatoes and yogurt
D: BBQ chicken with rice and a leaf salad, followed by fresh fruit salad and a meringue nest (which I may or may not have.
Snacks: dried apricots, cashews.

Monday, 10 May 2010

An interesting afternoon!

The planning went to pot this afternoon. I decided to take them all outside to complete an activity that feeds into our safeguarding focus at the moment. Last week the children thought of places around the school where they feel completely safe. This week it was places where they feel less safe. We went out with the digital camera and some of the children took photos of the places then mentioned. They we came back in and I uploaded them onto the class laptop and into Elements. Some needed cropping so I went into editor and they cropped some of the photos. They were so interested, I then showed them some of the more 'creative' editing functions and it just went from there. The upshot is that they are all going to have a go at using the editing software to do weird and wonderful things to photos they have taken. The lesson just bounced along happily and time vanished.

Just one of those spontaneous, off the cuff happenings that teachers are now beginning to feel they can go with again after years of being utterly dominated by the great god, planning. They don't have to 'do' photography in art, that's for KS2, but who cared, they had a great time (and I'm sure there's an ICT target that would fit the bill, if I could be bothered to look for it - which I can't).


Playground duty day! Only three more (including today) and that's me done for the school year. Next half term I don't have a morning playground duty. YESSSSSSSSS

It's been a lovely weekend what with one thing and another. They go all too quickly though, don't they? Time certainly isn't constant. I bet the year sixes are wishing time went by fast this week - it's KS2 SATs week for them and they have my sympathy.

Back on the Bodychef plan again now. The rest of the roast chicken has been boiled up after the remaining meat was taken off and I now have:
two good portions of cooked chicken
four chicken and vegetable patties (made with the left over vegetables - carrot, potato and broccoli)
some chicken stock.
All these will freeze and I intend to use them up when DG stays over the weekend at the end of this month. Good value - three portions for the roast dinner and enough for four more portions, plus the stock. About a pound a portion as it was a more expensive free range chicken. Very good value!

Today's food:
B: Muesli and a strawberry smoothie
L: Chicken paste with ryvita and a salad, apple
D: Chilli con carne, rice, apricot and apple crumble.
Sn: Pear and walnuts

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sunday morning

Yesterday was a very pleasant day indeed. The quiche turned out a real treat and was absolutely delicious, so I'm recording the 'custard' ingredients for the future. It was 150mls double cream, 150 mls of semi skimmed milk and two and a half large eggs (it would have to be three usually). It was soft, delicious, creamy and melt in the mouth. And because I copped out and bought the pastry, that was also very nice. Definitely one to do when we have the family celebration in the summer.

And so off we all went to the Chinese buffet. It must be a good ten years since I last went to that particular place. I don't eat out in the evening very often, only for family celebrations, and for those we have tended to use places like the Blue Strawberry. I remembered it as a fairly dismal place (good food, lousy decor) and, indeed, had mentioned this to Mum and Dad. However, I had to eat my words as well as the garlic chicken, because it was bright and cheerful and a big improvement on my memory. It was extremely busy too, and I'm not surprised - £8.90 for unlimited platefuls has to be one of the best value meals in town. The food was great, really well done and a big variety, the only real problem being that they don;t take credit or debit cards, just cheques. That will have to stop soon as cheques become increasingly less used..
DG certainly got his money's worth - I lost count after the fourth visit to top up! We got money off vouchers as well, so I guess a trip over half term is in order.

After yesterday's indulgences, it's important to get back on track, so here we are with today's food. Mum and Dad leave after dinner.
B: Toast and then an apple.
D: Roast chicken, stuffing, new potatoes, carrots and broccoli followed by fruit salad.
T: Pitta bread, ham, salad and coleslaw.
Snacks: fruit, brazil nuts.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Getting there

The mayo is made, as is the coleslaw. The vegetables are chopped for the quiche and I blind baked the pastry case last night. Just have to take some sheets off the spare bed and do a quick dust and sweep over.

I don't make quiche all that often - well, one wouldn't when one lives alone - so I always have to check the proportion of milk/cream to eggs. There's no consistency out there, but I reckon 300mls of milk/cream to two and a half large eggs should be just about right. The half egg is there because I made the stuffing for the chicken that I'm roasting tomorrow and it took half of the beaten egg yolk.

Morrisons sell cooked meat 'trimmings' for 50p per 100g. One would expect them to be nasty, fatty little bits but, in fact, they aren't anything of the kind, there's hardly any fat there at all. I got some yesterday for the stuffing, as it's usually mostly ham bits. What was left over (quite a lot, as it happens), I zizzed down with some philly light, semi sun-dried tomatoes, lea and perrins, mixed herbs and black pepper and it made a delicious meat paste for toast, sandwiches or crackers. It's now all in the freezer in single portions, as it doesn't fit with Bodychef.
The stuffing was just zizzed onion, breadcrumbs, zizzed ham, sage from the garden and some pepper, all bound together with a little beaten egg. I'll probably fry it in little patties tomorrow as I never actually stuff a chicken nowadays, I just bung a chopped lemon in the cavity.

Better go and finish the rest of the work!

Saturday morning

A busy time coming up. I have to dust and hoover - sorry, I mean dyson - the downstairs, do some washing. make the mayo, salad, coleslaw and quiche, sort out the bedrooms (my guests are bringing their own sheets, bless them) and generally get ready. None of it will take too long as the house is pretty tidy at the moment. I hate to think what Mum and Dad will think about the state of the garden but, usually, they are kind and keep their thoughts to themselves! Fingers crossed.

Alex is a funny little soul. For a birthday present, he is perfectly happy to swap my Harry Potter double DVDs for his single DVDs. I've hunted out four of them, the first was only a single and I can't find one. I'll wrap them up for him and give Beth a cheque to go into the bank account she is opening for him now he is twelve. It should be a nice start off for him.

And so off to work. Before I go, here's today's munching.
B: Melon and grapes, toast with jam
L: quiche and salad, fresh fruit
T: birthday cake with a cuppa
D: Chinese.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Friday evening

First of all, I must sing the braises of Bodychef again. I sent my slightly stroppy message off early morning and by ten o'clock there was a reply in my mailbox. This consisted of a complete explanation, an unqualified apology and an offer to have the cost of the hamper refunded or the missing meals delivered overnight. I chose the former and I have just logged on again to see that the refund has been authorised. You really can't fault that - brilliant service! It restores any lost faith!
And the salmon fillet was really nice too!

Sleepy Little Boy was away from school today - just a virus, said the GP. Mum tells me that he's been sitting up and eating ice cream so he ought to be back on Monday! And Deliberate Little Boy is back after a day off with a throat infection. He's now on antibiotics. A few others were complaining of 'throats' too, but whether they really were or whether it's an 'emotional infection' remains to be seen.

And now it's the weekend . . .

Friday morning

. . . and the election results are still coming in with no firm conclusion yet. Could be a hung parliament, could be a Tory government - we will have to wait and see.

Nearer to home, I am glad to see that Simon Burns has retained his place as our MP. This is a purely personal view based on my understanding that he is a good local representative. As a school, we've had a certain amount of contact with him and he's been very supportive and positive. He helped us with a tricky situation regarding a complaint, he has delivered lessons on parliament and citizenship to our year 6s and he came to 'hand over' the gardening tools we got by collecting Morrisons vouchers. Many years ago he opened our Early Years unit.
So congratulations to him.

At home, I am disappointed!! I am also surprised!!
The Bodychef hamper for the weekend came last night and three of the four main meals are missing - well, most of them are missing. Not good and I await Jayne's response to my not terribly happy email sent a few hours ago!
The rest of it looks as delicious as ever.

So, today's food is:
B: bran flakes and sultanas, fresh fruit
L: cheese and pickle sandwich, tomatoes, fruit
D: broccoli (in the hamper) and something else. I might get some salmon. I love salmon but they don't include fish in the hampers. Too much potential for going off, I suppose. Steamed or baked salmon, new potatoes and broccoli sounds nice! Dessert is fruit jelly.
Snacks: dates, walnuts

And finally - I have to go f00d shopping! Apart from getting something for this evening, I have to get food for tomorrow and Sunday when the family is staying. I'm hoping for self control and moderation as I trundle round with the trolley! :0)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Thursday evening

Another week almost over and half way through the half term as well. Time flies, doesn't it? The runner beans we planted in class at the start of last week are mostly sending out exciting shoots and interesting looking roots and those whose beans have done nothing much are manfully (or ladyfully) trying to hide their disappointment. However, the look of gratitude on their collective little face when I said they could plant another one tomorrow was almost pitiful to see. It's not nice when all the other beans are growing and yours is not, is it! Not nice at all.

After being out of school on a course this morning, it was jolly nice to be so welcomed back. Timid Little Boy bounced up to me to tell me he was glad I was back and Rapidly Improving Little Girl threw her arms round me and gave me a big hug. How lovely!

There's something not very nice going around the class. Three away today, all with more or less the same thing - cough and very sore throat. Another was drooping all afternoon and tried to curl up in the gazebo and go to sleep in afternoon play and if you knew him, you'd realise how unusual that was. Poor little chap.

The course provided a morning out of class but I'm not convinced that it was of much use. ELS (Early Literacy Support) is one of many 'initiatives' from the government that all seem to be based on the firm belief that if you do things a certain way, all children will become average or above (which doesn't say much for their mathematical understanding or their understanding of child development). I was kind of hoping that the 'significant updates' took into account the fact that children are different and don't fit into one mould, but no - just more of the same but with Letters and Sounds incorporated. One day, maybe they will trust us to know our children - just maybe.
What was good though was that I sat beside someone with whom I got on extremely well. After chatting for a while, not only did it turn out that she was an LSA in one of our neighbouring schools, she also lives in the same area and is an OU student (and graduate). So we had a grand old time chatting about OU stuff together.
So that was well worth going for! What one might call an unexpected outcome!

Thursday morning

Of course, even though I don't have to leave the house until 8:30, I'm still up before the lark! I wonder how I would manage if I did start sleeping later - I get so much done at this time of day and I'm so much more alert than in the evenings after a long day at school. Some of it is habit, of course, but even in the long holiday I still wake comparatively early.
I like it!

So, this morning, I hope I will have time to make up the beds in the spare rooms and get my shopping list worked out. This Saturday is DG's twelfth birthday and the family are descending! John is down from Scotland, coming over on Saturday morning with Mum and Dad and they are all staying overnight. We're all meeting at a Chinese buffet place in town on Saturday evening, that being DG's wish for a 'party'.
Social relationship and social communication are big parts of his autistic character and mean that he relates differently to friends. Parties as most understand them hold no pleasure for him - he likes the theming of a party, the preparations and planning, but the actual happening itself isn't his thing very much. Family round and a meal out is much more appealing and should be a lot of fun for us all.

So I have to plan two bigger meals and a breakfast which means, as I am Bodycheffing, planning and getting stuff in. This is what I'm doing:
Saturday lunch: home made quiche and a salad followed by fresh fruit
Saturday teatime: cup of tea and some birthday cake
Sunday breakfast is always toast and things - that's what Mum and Dad always have.
Sunday dinner: Roast chicken, new potatoes, stuffing, broccoli and carrots, probably. Probably fruit salad or strawberries for dessert.
So that's two more bodychef main meals in the freezer for over half term weekend when I have DG to stay. One for him and one for me! No waste.

Today's course is all about ELS - Early Literacy Support. I'm really not sure how much help it will be. ELS is something we tried when it first came in and quickly realised it wasn't ticking any of our boxes, wasn't doing what it said on the tin and, at the end of the day, was taking the children out of class when they could be better supported in class (and how's that for a fine selection of cliches)! I'm going along to see what I can pick up in terms of useful tips and strategies, but, looking at the timetable, I won't be able to join in with some of it as it relates to selecting the children for next year's ELS group - and we won't be. Never mind, I can listen, learn and note anything useful.

And today's menu:
Breakfast: cornflakes and sultanas, yogurt (left over from a few days ago)
Lunch: Pitta bread, tuna and sweet corn, mixed salad
Dinner: Spaghetti bolognaise followed by fruit fool
Snacks: orange, apple, cashews

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Wednesday evening

As I had hoped, today was just a nice, normal day with normal activities and nothing to seriously disrupt. it was lovely to be in my class all day and to follow through on a normal day's work.

After school we made the final shortlist for the job. It's scary stuff - so many hopes and aspirations tied up in those applications, so quickly dismissed. I learnt a lot about what NOT to write while looking through them and I thank my lucky stars that I won't have to go through a process like that. My appointments have all been of the 'you're here, doing the job already' type, No task, no teaching, only a short interview. Even when I went for the KS2 co-ordinator's post ages and ages ago (which I didn't get, thank goodness, I would have been a disaster) it was just an interview, nothing more.
There were two jobs, so we shortlisted eight, with two fall backs, if needed. The poor souls have to teach for half an hour, have an assessment task to do and an interview, each taking half an hour. Sooner them than me!

We seem to have attracted some excellent candidates. It helps to be a school that has been labelled 'outstanding' and has a 'good name' beyond the local area. It also helps to have got the advert in early enough to attract not only the good final year students but also more experienced teachers because they have time to give notice, should they be successful.

It's the first time Mandy and I have been involved in such a process and we both found it fascinating to see how it works from the 'other' side.

And now I have a lazy evening. I'm on a course tomorrow morning. I've got all the planning ready for my supply so don't need to go into school and can stay at hone till about 8:30. Quite a treat really.

Wednesday morning

I think (fingers crossed) that it's going to be a normal day today. I'm in class all day, there's no timetable disruption, all the work is planned and ready. Wouldn't it be nice if things went really smoothly?

The only change is after school when I have to meet with one of our lovely specialist support teachers to discuss the meeting yesterday. That gets me out of a part of staff meeting - oh, dear, what a shame!

Bodychef today is:
Breakfast: crumpets with jam (no butter, unfortunately, so they can hardly be called crumpets really) and an orange
Lunch: ryvitas with hummus and a salad.
Dinner: Chinese style rice (tastes just line an ordinary savoury rice to me and it's very nice) with another salad followed by a trifle
Snacks are fruit ands cashews.
I'm fighting the urge to step on the scales. I want to get away from success of failure being measured by daily scale results - it can be so variable and I don't want to go there this time. It's extremely tempting though.

Photo: Another from the garden, taken on Saturday

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Tuesday evening

. . . and the end of a VERY long day. I forgot to send the planning to Faith, which was perhaps just as well as it all changed: I had forgotten that we had a visitor today, a Chinese teacher over with a group to learn about English education systems, who did masks with them.
I'd also not exactly forgotten (because it was all organised) but sort of semi-didn't-remember that we had two visiting TAs from the local special school who were spending the day in mainstream education to observe. Add to that the shortlisting and the need to get the Annual Review paperwork copied, and it all adds up to an extremely busy day!

It all went most successfully though. The shortlisting isn't finished because a couple of others need to read through the twenty applications and say what they think. They were all good (had to be to get this far out of a total of 80 applications in total) but some really stood out for me. The TAs seemed to really enjoy the day and went back with some new ideas to try. The annual review went really well. I gather my children enjoyed their visitor, although some of what he said went right over their heads.

I know I shall sleep well tonight.

Tuesday morning and back to school

Yesterday was lovely: a gift to enjoy. A shame about the erratic weather, but, for me, it didn't matter much at all. I lazed, shopped, watched telly, read and generally lived a relaxed life for a change. I even got the sheets for the spare room washed, dried and ironed!

I tried the jelly and milk concoction using my new toy, the Bamix hand blender, and it worked! It produced a very light, fluffy concoction that sort of dissolved into nothingness in the mouth. Now I have to work out how to get a bit more flavour in - for example, when using orange jelly I can add a few drops of orange oil and some chopped orange segments, if I use strawberry jelly, I can juice some strawberries and push through a sieve to make a syrup to add. All in all, it will make a very low calorie dessert that includes milk, something I probably don't have enough of, and fruit (assuming I add some). Also, watching the blender produce a frothy cream from a bit of semi skimmed is fascinating - might make some this evening to go with the fruit salad!

Today should be interesting. It's SEN time, of course, as it is every Tuesday, but it feels odd not to teach my class on the first day of the week. It's going to be an extremely busy day. Recently, we advertised two posts for September, one for KS1 and one for KS2. Obviously, there was something about the advert that attracted because we couldn't believe the number of applicants - literally scores of them. Susannah took them home over the long weekend to sort into No, Maybe and Yes and this morning she and I are going to short list for the KS1 post. Scary stuff!
The afternoon is devoted to N's Annual Review meeting, as mentioned a few days ago.

The menu today is (not that anyone but me is interested, but this is my diary!!!):
Breakfast: Bran flakes and grapes
Lunch: Ham and pickle sandwich, tomato, yogurt
Dinner: Chicken chasseur, new potatoes, cabbage, fresh fruit salad
Snacks: apple, seeds

Have a good day!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Spoiling myself

I've had a very good morning, also somewhat expensive!
It didn't start well. Idiot that I am, I should have suspected that the shops would open at ten, not at nine. That little misapprehension cost me an hours parking and a rather nice coffee in Starbucks!
Then the fun began. I did have a list and I did stick to it pretty closely. I did a nice cheap shop in Wilcos where I got some washing capsules, some deodorant and something else which I can't recall and am too lazy to get up and check on.
Then I wandered into Bhs and back out again and into Debenhams to look at the cookware as I'm thinking of replacing my three old and battered saucepans and don't know what's on offer nowadays.
Between Bhs and Debenhams it was The Works, where they had a sale. Books at £1.99 or three for a fiver. There was a whole stack of Dick Francis books, some of which I hadn't read (or don't remember, which amounts to the same thing) so I emerged with a bagful of holiday reading!
And then I made my big mistake - I went into Lakeland!! Oh, OK, so it wasn't a mistake after all, but it's nice to pretend that my indulgences were accidental, not planned!
I came out with three 1lb loaf tins (planned), one quiche tin (planned), some sticky stuff remover (wonderful stuff, planned), some orange oil (not planned), some baggie ties (not planned but useful) some poly bags (needed), some 'optical wipes' (for my glasses, not planned) a Bamix jug and lid (er . . .) and a Bamix stick blender!

Now, anyone in the know will realise that this was a horrendously expensive impulse buy and I should feel extremely guilty and penitent - but you know what? I don't!! I feel happy. I must be a shopping addict!

Again, anyone knowing about Bamix will know that it's supposed to be able to beat skimmed milk into a froth that resembles cream in texture and isn't half bad in taste either - a sort of milk foam. The recipe book said that the milk has to be semi frozen but - well, stuff that for a slimline banana smoothie, thought I, and went again with the semi skimmed I have in the fridge.
You know what - it worked! it was like eating very light, foamy creamy foam, rather nice, in fact, and breaking no food rules either, the main thing being it starts de-foaming pretty quickly so has to be made and eaten straight away. I'm going to try it with some sugar free jelly - foam up the milk and then mix it with just setting jelly and see if it makes a sort of fluffy set mousse. I'll let you know.
Somehow, I don't think I am going to regret this one.

Monday morning

I love to go to Mum and Dad's, but I also love being at home too, especially when there's an extra day there. As teachers, we rarely have bank holidays as extras, they are almost always included in a normal break. No complaints from me about that, but they seem extra nice when they are 'extra'.
They aren't extra at all really, of course, as the days are taken off the other holiday times.

It was fun at DDs yesterday evening. DG, currently obsessed with all things Hogwarts and Potter, had commandeered a long cotton coat of DD's and, with an old cot sheet, had turned himself into a character. Not quite Lucius (Malfoy), but close - Lunicus! Fun all round.
We also played Scrabble and it was good to see how much he's improved in this game. Last time we played, he was trying all sorts of ridiculous letter combinations: this time he was well on the ball with it all. Being autistic, he tends to verbalise thoughts that most of us would keep hidden, so the game was punctuated by comments like 'I can't believe I'm still last after that word', and the like. Actually, he didn't come last, he came joint first! Well done, you!

Today I think I might meander into town early. There are a few things I want to look at. I need - well, maybe not 'need' but it would be nice to have - a couple of small loaf tins of a specific dimension and I think either Lakeland or Debenhams might have them. I want to look at a certain hand held blender that the good people on OUSA Food and Drink were raving about and I do need a quiche tin, preferably with a removable base. And I want/need a long bladed trowel if I'm to stand any chance of dealing with those dandelions.

After that it will be back home for homey stuff. Changing the bed linen, getting the spare beds ready for Saturday, planning the menus for same, etc. Now that I am BodyCheffing, there's little spare stuff for visitors, so things have to be planned carefully. More about that later on.

And finally, the food today:
Breakfast: grapefruit and orange salad, toast and marmalade.
Lunch: Crackers, cheese spread, tomatoes and then a yogurt
Dinner: Chicken with rosemary and tomatoes, new potatoes and cauliflower. This is followed by carrot and banana square and I shall make a little bit of custard to go with it.

Photo: A couple I took in Mum and Dad's garden.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Another show and a mystery solved

Lest night it was 'Crazy for you', with songs/lyrics by the Gershwins - such classics as 'I got rhythm' and ' They can't take that away from me'. The storyline was, predictably, very thin as with most of these shows, but the music - oh, my - the music was brilliant, both in quality and in performance.
The whole evening was a delight from beginning to end. The cast was obviously having a whale of a time, the scenery was some of the best I have seen in an Arcadians show, the costumes were super, and the staging and direction gave the whole show sparkle and pace. I would happily watch it all over again.

Regular readers will remember me whinging about a lost ham, cheese and pickle sandwich last week, wondering where on earth it could be. Well, the mystery is solved and it's a very boring solution. It was consorting with an apple under one of the front seats of my car! They have now both been consigned to the wheelie bin where, it is hoped, they will reflect on their misconduct in jumping out of my school bag that fated day!

Food yesterday:
Lunch: ham salad (good for Mum)
Dinner: ooops! But very nice.

Food today:
Breakfast: Fruit and toast
Dinner: Looks like leg of lamb thawing in the kitchen, so I'm deducing roast lamb, roast potatoes, various veg, etc. And a nice bit of Stilton to follow!
Tea: Back to the BodyChef hamper! Phew.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Me put in my place

Earlier this week I had a long discussion with N. N is one of our year six pupils. I have known N for a long time. He started with us in reception and I had the class he is a part of in year 1 and then again in year 4. On top of all that, N has a Statement of Special Needs, so I have been fairly involved with his school life all the way through. He's a grand lad and I am going to miss him terribly when he leaves us in a few months.

N has his last Annual Review of Statement meeting coming up soon. He's attended a significant part of these meetings for quite a while now and is never backwards about saying what he thinks. This time, for the first time, I have involved him in reviewing his own progress and his new targets on an 'equal' basis. He's mature, sensible and quite capable of thinking through the issues that he faces.
So, we sat down together and started talking about the meeting and what's likely to happen. I said to him:
'Last year, N, when you were talking about what you wanted and thought about things, I had difficulty in hearing you because you spoke so quietly. This year I will need you to speak up a little more. You see, while this (pointing to his wheelchair) is your disability, this (pointing to my hearing aids) is mine.'
N looked at me thoughtfully. Then he smiled and said, very gently:
'You should have said then, shouldn't you, Mrs Clark?'

How true. How inescapably, undeniably true. Thanks, N. Another reason for never forgetting you.

White Rabbits!

First day of May! So also pinch and punch for the first of the month!

Having got those little bits of tradition out of the way, it's also Saturday morning and there are three glorious days stretching before me. Bliss.
A shame about the weather - yesterday evening it rained intermittently and it looks as if it's been raining quite a lot overnight too. I'm glad for the garden as it was getting rather dry but why oh why does it always seems to happen over bank holidays?

Yesterday evening was fab. Lesley and I went over to Witham to see the local operatic society's presentation of Chess. It was thoroughly enjoyable: we had seats near the front so, for once, we had a clear view of the performers' faces and it did make a difference. Of course, the music is lovely - different from the usual operatic society type choice and very, very appealing. The 'big song', I know him so well, was beautifully done - very simply presented and extremely well sung. And, miracle of miracles, I managed to stay awake all the way through although, admittedly, wondrous happening was with the help of two cans of red bull. I might do the same tonight for the Arcadians' show!

When I got home, I had to spend an hour or so on FirstClass, helping to deal with some 'stuff', which was worse in potential than in reality, as it turned out. It was midnight before I finally got to bed, so why on earth did I still wake at five? To quote Alison from yesterday - aaaarrrrgggghhhh!
Today is a mish-mash. There's a bit of housework to do first, before packing and driving up to Letchworth in time for lunch. Then, hopefully, it's a good natter and a few 'power' naps in the afternoon before going to the Carvery and the show and the Gordon Craig theatre in Stevenage.

As for food, well, it's all over the place. I'm doing my best to use use the short life stuff from the hamper and I think I will be able to deal with just about all of it. I'll take the other stuff round to DD tomorrow afternoon.
Breakfast: Fresh fruit salad and a yogurt
The rest in is the lap of the gods at the moment, although I have some measure of control over the carvery choices. Things might go a little doolally, but it will be back on the straight and narrow tomorrow afternoon.

Photos: I really should have dealt with those dandelions - look at all those seeds! Nature is so utterly wanton in her urge to perpetuate the species.
The photos are a little out of focus and when the rain clears I want to have another go and see if I can get them a bit clearer.