Sleeping Lions

28 02 2013

sleeping lions

In a recent A-Level lesson, I decided to give the students a sense of ownership by asking them to select our warm up activity. I was extremely surprised by their suggestion of ‘sleeping lions’ but at the same time touched by their childlike enthusiasm and warm fuzzy feeling about this game.

I always try to ensure that any ‘games’ I play have some sort of link to the main topic and objectives of the lesson e.g. wink murder suits ‘Murder Mystery’, and improv games are suited to lessons devoted to devising drama.

If you don’t know the game; sleeping Lions is designed to calm children down when they are excitable or over tired. They must all lie on the floor and pretend to be sleeping while the teacher attempts (usually unsuccessfully) to spot anyone who moves, if you are ‘caught moving’ you are out. I occasionally play sleeping lions with the 6 year olds at the end of a lesson I teach and they are ALL AMAZINGLY GOOD AT IT in the sense that I never seem to catch anyone. It is a means of sending them off to their break or back to their parents, relaxed and calm after a lot of physical activity.

I asked my A-Level students to consider the last time they had played sleeping lions – they agreed that it was at primary school. I also asked them to consider how successful they were and whether they could recall ever losing a game of sleeping lions – they could not. It took some time for them to connect the dots and realise that this wonderful game is a teaching strategy that gives the teacher some downtime at the end of the lesson if they have a couple of minutes before the break and gives them a chance to calm down the more ‘enthusiastic’ children.

I felt like a monster in a fairy tale revealing the real purpose of this game and witnessing the disappointment in my student’s eyes. I also felt a little bit sad that these ‘almost grown ups’ – who will be legally allowed to vote in a few months along with the other privileges that adulthood will afford them – are in many ways still children themselves and despite the desperation of most 17 year olds to be accepted as adults in many ways they are still clinging to the childhood that will soon be over.

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The future father of my children…has a strong work ethic

27 02 2013

work ethic

One of the things that has always impressed me about my other half is his work ethic.

He has been in steady work since his first paper round and has never been unemployed. He is not fussy about what he does for a living but throughout his working life, whatever job he has had, he has made an effort to be an asset to his employers.

This is an admirable quality and definitely one I would want my future children to aspire to.

FFOMC is ‘technically’ a retail manager for a company that sells computer games; however over the past 6 years he has frequently been seconded on a temporary basis to head office – we would like to see this become a more permanent arrangement.

His work ethic is not in question. However it is worth considering whether his job role is compatible with a good family life. Unfortunately due to his current circumstances there are two jobs to consider: His role as a ‘Store Manager’ and his role as an ‘Office Worker’.

My husband has been with his current company for over 10 years. Even with the threat of redundancy last year, which caused some sleepless nights for a number of weeks, he has a level of security.  If the worst should happen and his company was forced to make him redundant, he would be fairly expensive to get rid of. This would give us some time to get him into a new job without insurmountable financial concerns and I know he would take a job at MacDonald’s tomorrow without question or complaint and chose to pay the bills rather than hold out for ‘the perfect position’. He will always make sure he is able to provide for me and I am sure he will adopt the same approach to looking after our future family.

One of the benefits of this job role for a potential future father is that he can purchase the more expensive Christmas and birthday gifts for our children at a staff discount this is definitely desirable especially given the huge demands placed on parents by their children in 2013.

The FFOMC’s love of games would also mean that he would be in the know when it comes to the most sought after gifts each season. He could ensure that his purchase’s will be early, to avoid being one of the parents who is left wanting and surprised on Christmas Eve when they visit a store to discover that the main present ‘little Timmy’ has put on his Christmas list (for some reason they are always ‘little Timmy’ when hubby describes this scenario) has been sold out for the last 6 weeks.

FFOMC could also play the games with our children – an area in which I would most definitely NOT excel and even set up parental controls to prevent our offspring being subjected to inappropriate material – and though I hate to admit it, let’s face it, I wouldn’t know how to switch a computer on if he wasn’t here to help me.

But his expertise in this area may result in my feeling left out. I may end up being the only family member whose ICT skills are found to be lacking as my future children will grow up with technology that was only available to me later in life.

This is not the only downside to his chosen profession. Working in retail unfortunately comes with other burdens such as the need to work weekends, bank holidays and even Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year. Surely I cannot expect my future children to grow up without their father present on major family orientated holidays?

I did mention that at present he works in the office. The hours are much better for us as a couple and would definitely be more suited to family life: No more working bank holidays, take a week off at Christmas, your weekends are your own! Now this, I can get on board with. But who will be home to wait for deliveries, landlord inspections, plumbers etc. Most of the world seems to operate on a Monday to Friday basis so if we both take our days off at weekends, how will we manage these inconvenient interludes?

There is also the issue that now that we have the same days off we have come to the realisation that we have very different ideas about what constitutes a ‘good day off’. I am already in my mind planning trips to B&Q and Homebase to source materials for the house and garden that we will buy and need to maintain…

…but for him days off mean World of Warcraft and action movies.

I like snuggling up with him on the sofa with a glass of wine and a chick flick, or a picnic in the living room…

…but for him days off mean World of Warcraft and action movies.

I love the idea of romantic walks at the duck pond nearby, or a trip to the Look Out in Bracknell, maybe a pub lunch on Sundays, visiting sites of historical interest, mini golf, and romantic meal’s out at a nice restaurant …

… but for him days off mean World of Warcraft and action movies.

For now I am happy that he is in regular paid work when many people are not. I love that his work ethic means he will take whatever job is available and do it to the best of his ability increasing his chances of rising through the ranks. We may or may not ever come to an agreement about the PERFECT weekend but I love that my future children will have a hard working role model who they can look up to.

For earlier posts about FFOMC check out:

Quick simple marking strategy for stressed out teachers everywhere!

26 02 2013


I by no means invented this technique – but I thank God that a more experienced teacher shared it with me during my training year!

I call it “Stairway to heaven marking

It is relatively simple so anyone can do it, just complete the following steps:

1/ Stand at the bottom of a flight of steps holding all the books you need to mark.

2/ Throw every piece of coursework as high as you can up the stairwell.

3/ Collect the books/worksheets etc into piles based on what stair they landed on.

4/ Every piece of work that landed on the stair highest up and furthest away from you gets an A.

5/ Every piece of work that landed on the second stair gets a B.

6/ Every piece of work that landed on the third stair gets a C.

7/ Every piece of work that landed on the………..

………well I am sure you get the idea.

If only I had remembered this superb tecnique at the beginning of my evening, tonight would have been VERY different!!!

If anyone in the teaching profession has any other great ideas about how to reduce our workload please let me know because – despite the fact that I apparently end my working day at 3:05pm I seem to regularly finish closer to 11:00pm.

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Thank you Emmie Lawrence

25 02 2013

thank you

This post is actually inspired by something that happened about tis time last year. Back in 28th June 2012 Ryan Podger saved my holiday.

I had never met him and he had no reason to feel that he owed me anything. The give you some context; due to a miscommunication my holiday was cancelled and it looked like my husband and I were going to lose not only our original booking but the £700 we had already paid towards it. I cannot begin to describe how devastated and inconsolable I was. We could not afford to simply pay the full amount again, (who has an extra £700 just lying round) and may have meant that we would not have a holiday that year. But Ryan Podger came to the rescue and after a dozen phone calls and some excellent customer service our trip to Mexico was saved.

We were so impressed with Ryans efforts to help that my husband wrote a Blog post about his experience called “Thank you Ryan Podger”:

He sent a link to Ryan’s employers at Thomson Holidays and received an unprecedented increase on his stats page in the following days. Ryan himself saw the post and replied thanking us and saying only that he had done his job and hoped we had a good holiday. I hope he also got some sort of bonus and recognition in his work place.

The post my husband wrote about this is probably my favourite post ever. I loved the idea that Ryan received public recognition for his hard work and effort and that his employers were aware of how much we valued him. People are so quick to condemn bad service and complain but only rarely do they say thank you and acknowledge good work.

I would urge more people to recognise those who make their lives better.

With that in mind I would like to say a personal thanks to my colleague Emmie Lawrence.

Emmie is simply amazing. I am better at my job because of her. We present a united front in all work related matters, have a hugely successful collaborate relationship, laugh daily, cry together, share each other’s secrets and support each other through the good times as well as the bad. I cannot think of a better person to share my working life with. We spend more time together than we do with our partners and it is a relationship that I have come to really value over the last three years.

This woman quite simply makes my life better and for that I would like to thank her.

If you have someone who makes your life easier or better, personally, professionally or just a stranger who works in a call centre and helps you out by offering good customer service – let them know.

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Fantasy Cast List – My Family

24 02 2013

My recent post about a fantasy cast list for the film version of my life has had the unexpected side effect of sparking some spirited debate amongst my family members. So it is with great pleasure that I can reveal the fantasy cast list for my immediate family in the film version of my life story:

Dad played by Jim BroadbentThe blustering Father of Bridget Jones would be a perfect fit for my own well meaning Dad who is such a romantic himself that he has set unrealistic expectations of his three girls for their own partners in life.

Dad played by Jim Broadbent
The blustering Father of Bridget Jones would be a perfect fit for my own well meaning Dad who is such a romantic himself that he has set unrealistic expectations of his three girls for their own partners in life.

Mum to be played by Felicity KendalFamous for her role in the Good Life also starring recently departed Ruchard Briers, Felicity's portrayal of Barbara is an almost perfect match for my Mum's practical and easy going approach to life - although my Mum would never grow her own veg in the backyard!

Mum to be played by Felicity Kendal
Famous for her role in the Good Life also starring recently departed Ruchard Briers, Felicity’s portrayal of Barbara is an almost perfect match for my Mum’s practical and easy going approach to life – although my Mum would never grow her own veg in the backyard!

Sheridan Smith to play Sister 1.Her quirky role as Janet from "Two Pints of Largar and a Packet of Crisps" particularly in the infamous 'pasty' episode is I am told 'exactly the sort of thing she would do'

Sheridan Smith to play Sister 1
Her quirky role as Janet from “Two Pints of Largar and a Packet of Crisps” particularly in the infamous ‘pasty’ episode is – I am told ‘exactly the sort of thing she would do’

Amy Adam to play Sister 2The wide eyed romantic, ballgown wearing, constantly singing vision of niavity and hopefullness certainly captures the wistful personality of the youngest born of our family unit.

Amy Adam to play Sister 2
The wide eyed romantic, ballgown wearing, constantly singing vision of niavity and hopefullness certainly captures the wistful personality of the youngest born of our family unit.

So there it is. Next to undergo the fantasy cast list treatment my extended family! Watch out brother and sister in laws!!!

For earlier posts about my Fantasy Cast list check out:

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Let them eat biscuits

23 02 2013

Chocolate biscuitsI have often said how much I love my part time job on Saturday mornings. But alas it is not all rainbows and butterflys. This is a real shame because it is so close! I am not talking about the fact that I work 6 days every week or the fact that I struggle to get myself out of bed on a Saturday morning. It is not an issue of pay, colleagues or even an unreasonable workload.

The big issue with my part time job is that despite ongoing demands, tantrums, sobbing and even begging on occasion (and if you know me personally you will know that I am not prone to any of the above); my boss appears to be incapable of providing good quality biscuits for break time.

And we ask so little of him 😦

A rich tea or a plain digestive simply does not cut it. I feel I bring a level of expertise and skill to my role and as such deserve to be rewarded with a decent biscuit on the one occasion I allow myself the pleasure every week.

I know many people are avid fans of custard creams, ‘nice’ biscuits, digestives and rich tea and for what it’s worth; I wouldnt be happy with these choices but I could maybe live with them if they were kept insome sort of tin to prevent my weekly treat becoming stale, soggy and a little bit sad. As the logistics of this are apparently too difficult for my boss to adhere to my demands are as follows: I want a biscuit of a recognised brand not a ‘stores own’ version, it should be in a wrapper and smothered in milk –not dark-chocolate and made available to me at 11:55am each Saturday morning to accompany my cup of tea. If I could express my words adequately by song I would but Ralph Little has done it for me:

Now that is resolved…lets talk tea bags!

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22 02 2013


I am increasingly incensed by the modern concept of Entitlement.

I am speaking not of our basic human rights but the strange belief held by far too many people that the world somehow ‘owes’ them. I was brought up to believe that anything of value in life came at a cost: not just a question of finance but also hard work and effort. A decent standard of living generally requires a good education and a decent job to fund the house, car and holidays, balanced with equal care and attention devoted to the relationships in our lives.

I am not naïve enough to believe that everyone really has equal access to the same opportunities. While the choices we make play a huge part in determining success, there are also circumstances wildly outside of our control, so there should be services available to protect those in need.

However there will always be those who use such systems in a way that was never the original intent and exploit them. The benefits system is an obvious example but it does not stand alone.

I saw an interview with a mum of 11 children. She has not worked in 19 years and is firmly entrenched in the benefits system. The controversy surrounding this woman is the council’s ‘duty’ to provide her with suitable accommodation for her large family. She is currently occupying two homes that have been joined together but this is apparently not suitable because of the difficulty in managing the household when half the children live in a different building and the fact that there is only one exit which poses a fire hazard. The council are to build a brand new 6 bedroom eco friendly house worth £400,000.

She claims to be extremely grateful to council and says she would love to come off benefits and go out to work so she can support her own family. She wants to own a shop and run her own business. However during the interview she explained that as there is help available to help families why shouldn’t she take it after all she is entitled to this support.

I have no desire to vilify this woman or her lifestyle choices but for anyone to be able to say she is Entitled to this support – with no sense of irony and a straight face – needs help of an entirely different nature. The system does not exist to absolve people from making responsible decisions but to provide support to those in genuine need. I would love to either quit my job and become a lady of leisure or run my own business so I do not have to deal with the stresses of answering to someone else. I want a family but have waited as I feel I have not been able to afford children up to this point in my life. I pay my own bills and provide for myself and have never been on benefits because I DON’T NEED TO BE!

There are people much more deserving than I am who need support from the state; people who are unable to work, have suffered extreme ill health, been made redundant, have limited opportunities due to a disability, are full time carers, or those who have unexpectedly lost their partner. I do not begrudge them the help they receive but it frustrates me that so many people who are able to work see this support as a right.

Benefits should be a temporary life line for most people while they are looking for strategies to become self sufficient. Obviously there are people who will need support on a more permanent basis for justifiable reasons but living on benefits should not be something anyone aspires to.

It is time for individuals to be accountable and to take responsibility and stop the culture of expecting everyone else to foot the bill for our own mistakes and poor choices.

By all means – spend what you can afford, borrow what you can pay back, do not expect others to foot the bill for your lifestyle choices and do not claim that you are entitled to something when you are not. And on a side note, if you are in genuine need of financial support – take it! After all there are plenty of people less worthy who contribute nothing to society but make sure they get every penny they feel they are entitled to.

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