Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Today I invented #BadBraDay. It goes like this: We nominate a day where we:

1) all reach to the back of our drawers and grab a bra which we never wear,
2) wear it for the day to Sing and Sign Baby Signing Class in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Ricky ,
3) remember why we never wear it and then
4) take it to the Bra Bank to bless someone else in the world.

It may be a bad bra for us but to someone else it could be a SUPER BRA! Whaddya say?

Anyone from a lingerie company wish to help??

(Er... let's not do it on a day where we are singing Hop Little Bunnies, though. )

As with most of my best ideas it was borne of a night of little sleep, dreaming about taking photographs with a hairdryer. (Now THAT is a fantastic idea... in every picture, perfectly sexily windswept hair...) Lack of recent laundry action forced me to reach to the back of my lingerie drawer and grab the semi padded, tomato red J-Lo number bought several years ago from tk Maxx and hardly worn. And yes, ten minutes into the first class (of a morning of four classes) it was apparent to me (and my class) why it is hardly worn.

Mummy on the Edge November/ December 2013 (Families NW London Magazine)

So, here I sit, blanket around shoulders, shivering on the sofa, disgusted with myself for beginning a paragraph with “So”. I'd like to think that if she were awake, Mini-Me would tell me the correct name for that circular literary device I just produced. Lately, she comes home from school and imparts all sorts of wisdom; I never knew there was so much I didn't know. But she's asleep. These days she is comatose as soon as her head hits the pillow. We are permanently jet-lagged from waking up at 6.30am every morning to catch the early (which, in my opinion is TOO early) bus to get to secondary school. In the vain attempt to motivate her to get the later bus and therefore give her (and more importantly, me) an extra half hour in bed, we stayed up (I know...) to watch “Trust me I'm a doctor” with Michael Mosley who presented research that showed that an hour longer in bed can improve our health and function. Apparently, if you don't get enough sleep, your memories are not filed correctly and get lost forever, or something. Which is kind of a problem. Er, what was I saying?

It takes some getting used to, this high school business. Homework is time-consuming, bags are exceedingly heavy and days start early and finish late what with music activities topping and tailing most days. Not to mention lunch times filled with Badminton, Gymnastics and Football on days when she already has PE. This is what I term U.V.E. (Unnecessary Voluntary Exertion) and serves to remind me of the fact that half her genes are from someone else, (which I often forget due to OCAF syndrome - look it up on my blog.) In fact, that process is currently being explored in uncomfortable depth in Year 7 Biology.

Independent travel necessitated the procurement of a mobile telephone for Mini-Me's use. Well, for my use, to reach her. Use of the phrase “in my day” is almost as bad as starting a paragraph with “So,” but at risk of breaking all my own rules, here goes: In my day, we would walk to and from school, communicate with friends and remain in touch with music and popular culture without the use of one of these hand-held oracles. But these days it's different. I spoke to my nephew and nieces to get their opinion on what sort of phone to go for and they were firmly of the persuasion that something with whatsapp and the internet was necessary. Admittedly, I was confused. I didn't want to get her anything flashy that would attract attention on the street, (innit!) but I had heard that kids can be cruel and I didn't want to get something that would attract derision from her peers, either. I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading articles online and looking at phone tariffs until I understood less than when I started. I decided to yield to my own pressure and found a phone that I was sure had enough bells and whistles to look respectable to her mates but was too basic to be attractive to any thief. I was inwardly congratulating myself on being a “Cool Mum”. And then I spoke to a friend who's son was starting a different high school at the same time.

“I got him the cheapest, most basic phone I could find,” she said. Wasn't she worried about him being teased by other boys, I wondered. “No, I don't care. Let him get through his first year of secondary school. It will be hard enough without other distractions”. I realised she was right. So I got a similar phone, with a £10 pay as you go credit and now when Mini-Me texts me from the bus to say she's on her way home, it is wonderful because I have no worry about anyone seeing anything flash or about her dropping or losing it. Or my losing it when she drops or loses it. Hurrah! Of course that's not the end of it. I did tell her that I MIGHT upgrade at Christmas or on her birthday, when it becomes apparent that she is able to handle everything and keep up to date with homework and music practice and anything else I can think of chucking into the equation when the time comes. But I didn't say which Christmas or birthday. I'm going to stretch this one out...

Read more from Angelina Melwani at mynotesfromtheedge.blogspot.com. Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com.
Mummy on the Edge September 2013 - Families NW Magazine

If you have not yet experienced the emotion-fest that is Year 6 to Year 7 transition, allow me to break it down for you:
September is yuck because that's when your mini-you takes their 11 Plus or secondary entry exam. After that is the wait...
...For the results. Weeks spent in self-inflicted horror, studying the grim suburban myths about dodgy goings on outside the exam hall. "My daughter's friend's mother's friend's daughter saw the girl who had been sitting behind her in the school entry exam get into a car and drive away!" 
After agonizing for a few weeks, finally the results come. You don't feel like telling any other parents for one of two reasons: your child did less well than hoped and you don't want to compare results. Or your child did really well and you don't want to compare results - and cause reluctant reciprocal divulgment. So you shelve your disappointment or joy and save the energy for the anguished decision of school choice. Because even if your child did well, you can take NOTHING for granted. You sit back and wait...
...for the email telling you which traffic jam your child (and possibly you) is going to become intimately familiar with from September. You wait all day and all evening. You find an email from a long lost workmate upon checking the spam folder. Then, hours after everyone else has had their email, yours pops into your inbox.
The end of a journey? Nope.
You visit the school and come to the realisation that your mini-me is now a midi-me. You hear speeches about how independent your children are soon to become and detailing the amount of homework they are soon to be expected to manage and how many clubs they are expected to join and how perfectly presentable their uniform needs to be and how much money you are expected to contribute monthly to the school. And you start hyperventilating (in a secret, mental way that your midi-me can't notice- until she's read what you've written in a magazine).
You find you are lucky enough that your best friend's midi-me has been allocated the same school as your own. Together, you go on a reconnaissance mission to the school uniform shop and while looking at the official list of uniform, pe kit, and prices, and factoring all the wonderful, horizon-broadening school trips available, come to the realisation (and yes, there are a lot of those in this process) that you should have opened up an ISA when your mini-me was born, in order to pay for everything. 
In light of this latest realisation in the uniform shop, your midi-me must try on a blazer which is plainly too big. However, it is not "too big" enough. You have no idea how much your Midi will grow during these intense growth spurt years and, you figure if you go for the super big blazer that reaches her knees, it should only look really funny for about a year. After that it will just look funny. Your best friend is wetting herself in the corner of the shop laughing at your "logic". You leave the shop without having bought anything because you are going to wait until the last week in August to do so. (To allow for extra growing time)
At the induction day, you meet other parents and you feel a bit better. Some are just like you (maybe a bit less on the edge). Your midi-me goes off and meets her new teacher and classmates. There is a second hand uniform sale. You go with the intention of finding a blindingy bargainous blazer. You leave with a lab coat that is too big, even for yourself and a home-ec apron.

It ain't over yet; you still have all of the end of Year 6 shenanigans to cope with: concerts, plays, leaving discos, yearbooks. You hope you can deal with it. I will help you. Meet me on my blog at mynotesfromtheedge.blogspot.com.
Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com.
Mummy on the Edge July/ August 2013 (Families NW London Magazine)

“What's that, child? Monday is an inset day? Yes, of course I read the school newsletter...”

Discovering that it was the tail end of the Stratford Fringe Festival and the free 3-month Art Passes we got with the Daily Telegraph would get us into all of Shakespeare's houses for free (– and expire in July), I booked a hotel using my Avios, printed directions from Google and after my Saturday classes, Mini-Me and I set off on our latest adventure: Stratford-upon-Avon. It is remarkably easy and very pleasurable now to go on impromptu trips with Mini-Me, being that the small grumpy person who needs to be fed often and taken to the loo regularly is now me. A road trip as single mother of an only child means no bickering siblings and no arguing adults. Picture it: peace, happiness, nectarines, home-made chicken wraps, rolling hills, golden fields and Dermot O'Leary on Radio Two in the background. Ah... bliss.

After being informed by several different parties that no, it was definitely in no way suitable for children of 11, I gave up trying to convince Mini-Me that she would be fine on the Adult Candle Lit Ghost Tour. So we found an earlier, family-friendly version and John our (spirit) guide led us around the dimly lit Tudor World Museum which was now shut for the day, and therefore even more atmospheric. It had already been the setting for an episode of Most Haunted which thrilled me no end. He pointed out paving stones upon which Shakespeare would have actually trodden, since he used to drink there when it was a pub; explained the difference between ghosts and spirits; and highlighted sightings of tragic child figures who lived their lives and met their ends in ways that shouldn't really be written about in a family magazine. We were creeped out when we were told to edge away carefully from the doorway of a particular room where the evil ghost of murderous man who dislikes dark haired women is said to parade through, freaking people out. Shakespetrified? A bit. Fun? You bet!

It was 7pm when we found ourselves at the box office. It turned out we had actually missed most of the Stratford Fringe Festival and all that was available and kid friendly was the last night of a production of A midsummer Night's Dream at the Shakespeare Institute. Now, I freely admit that I feared this might be deadly boring, especially on an empty stomach at 7.30 in the evening (I like my dinner substantial and on time) but in actual fact, we had entirely by chance wandered into the best Shakespeare production I have ever seen. And yes, I have actually seen a few, highly acclaimed ones. This teeny tiny production however, was truly magical, even for Mini-Me whose shoulders could be seen bobbing about in genuine hilarity while Bottom delivered his over-the-top soliloquy directly at her. I fully expect to see him and the actress playing Puck becoming household names at some point in the future, they were THAT good. By the time the tears of laughter had dried from Mini-Me's eyes it was nearly 10 and it seemed nowhere was serving food. We went from restaurant to restaurant until finally we found one that would serve me and my poor hungry little girl. The waitress pointed to the programme that Tia was examining and asked "Is that what you have just seen? My boyfriend is in that! He plays Thisbe!" That's the kind of place Stratford-upon-Avon is...

A perfectly acceptable way to while away 40 minutes in the evening sunshine before an al fresco riverside supper of fish and chips is to hop on a boat and sail up part of the River Avon, staring longingly at the beautiful private houses and gardens that back on to moorings on the river, waving at people trying to relax on their private balconies, and shooing swarms of flies away from your daughter while she sits there with her hands clamped over her mouth hyperventilating through her nose. So peaceful...

For MORE on this trip including Shakespeare's Houses and a freaky deaky little Wizarding shop and museum that sells real wands (for when you are totally Shakespeared out – it WILL happen) visit: mynotesfromtheedge.blogspot.com.

Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com.