You may remember, if you have been reading my blog for a longer time, that I am blessed with having a very artistic daughter. She’s started her own blog and here it is:
I’ve lived in Germany now, for almost ten years. Ten years! Can you believe it? I don’t think I can. Where does the time go?
Distracted. Sorry. Where was I? Ah, yes, I’ve been living in Germany now for almost ten years. And there are some things I’ve got used to. And other things I can never actually imagine ever getting used to. It’s a bit like a scale, ranging from things I got used to really easily like fruit and veg being much cheaper and things being bigger like houses and streets, oh, and the amount of recycling. I always was a big recycling fan.
Then things that were not quite so easy, like driving on the other side of the road and learning to call the Euro the Euro and not the pound (and similarly the Cent the Cent and not the pence).
Then there were the things that took quite some time but I finally mastered them like learning the language (not the grammar, I’ve officially given up on the grammar – much to my lovely husband’s disappointment, he always was a big grammar fan) and the strange school system whereby my four children all start and finish at different times every single day.
I hope that you understood me. It’s not just that they have different start and different finish times from each other, but that every day they also have different start and different finish times.
Still not quite clear?
OK, say on Monday two children should start at the second period while two others have instructions to begin at the first lesson. Then one could go on to finish after the fourth period and another say, after the fifth, another perhaps returns home after the sixth lesson and yet another after the seventh. The following day, in this example the Tuesday then, three children may start at the first period which commences at a truly ungodly hour and then one in the second. Fasten your seatbelts though because one could already be finished by the third (not because they’re geniuses, just because that’s how the system goes). Then the others might trot home one at a time after completing the sixth, eighth and tenth lessons.
It goes on like that throughout the week but I can’t learn it because, you see, the following week it will be a completely different story. Classes will be cancelled. Sometimes children eagerly appear home for four periods at a time and then race off back to school. I never know just how many people I’m feeding lunch to, so I wait, attempting to be patient, as lunchtime seems to mean a different time for each child. This has led to some snacking issues on my part but anyway I digress yet again.
You get the general idea: I rarely brush my hair, I spin around a lot, I say’ hi’ and ‘goodbye’ at least 100 times a day and I’ve taken to snacking between loud bursts of children and wails of ‘I don’t want to do my homework’.
But I got used to it. Well, sort of.
But there are some things I could never get used to and one of those is the weather.
In winter, I have to live in thermals. I have lived through frozen solid nostrils inside my nose and my daughter collapsing at her carol concert at our local Christmas Market extravaganza in the city centre. I’d warned the teenager to dress warmly (not just fashionably, as you do) and she’d paid attention. I’d warmed her very cockles with a lovely hot non-alcoholic punch as we’d waited for the concert to begin. She’d sung the initial song and I’d grinned like a manic Cheshire cat. Then she’d looked slightly ropey. Concern surged through my body and I attempted a step forward. It was difficult, not only because their delightful song had brought in the crowds, but I was wrapped up like the Michelin woman, movement becomes almost impossible at -15°C.
She slithered glass-eyed-ly down her neighbouring carol singer. There was a brief concerned pang across that unsuspecting victim’s face, then the motto ‘keep calm and soldier on’ was deployed by the music teacher and her choir. Any other Brit watching would have felt intense pride.
I wobbled my way over to my blond soprano and attempted to lift her from the floor. But she was already a teenager and no matter how hard I tried to convince myself, she was no longer the weight of yester-year. I could not even drag her from the ground.
Then in true X-Men style, a group of strong and able younger and older men, the type you really like to have around you in such a crisis, appeared at my side. They carried her floppy body through the crowd. From nowhere, a woman arrived, wrapped in many scarves, jackets, hats and gloves, and on top of that, balancing a chair. My child was slumped onto the chair and slowly, slowly came around.
Someone shouted that there was not a single first-aider to be found and many tutted in a disapproving manner.
My own hero, my husband, was keeping the other children out of the cold in a local department store so the X-Men offered to transport my non-walking daughter there. I gratefully accepted.
We arrived at the multi-floored store and I abandoned my precious with those kind strangers as I attempted a funny thermal-bundled run from floor to floor. I found my family. We returned and thanked profusely and the superheroes departed just as quickly as they had entered the scene.
We tried to stand the pale one up but she buckled, so my knight threw her over his shoulder, like this season’s scarf, and strode off in the direction of the car.
Only to walk right slap bang into a first-aider.
He escorted us to the safety of the local police station which just happened to be one of the buildings close by and assessed the situation. Then he called an ambulance.
It was our second ambulance of the week. Aden had managed to smack himself in the knee during sport, with a hockey stick. He’d been rushed to hospital in an ambulance. We’d been rushed out of a different doctor’s appointment to meet and greet him in A and E.
The paramedics arrived and took control of the situation. I explained that my daughter was wrapped up in a lot more than cotton wool. I informed them how I’d plied her with non-alcoholic, warm and lovely punch.
Then my eldest divulged that she hadn’t bothered having any breakfast. At all.
I had the exact same feeling, in the pit of my stomach, that I had the day she told our G.P., all those years ago, at that emergency appointment, that the reason she kept complaining of a sore throat of a morning was not because she actually had a sore throat but because she just hadn’t felt like going to school.
It’s the beginning of June. Known to us by several other names including ‘Birthday Season’ and ‘The Second Christmas’. Don’t worry, I’m not under any illusion that any of my children are the next Jesus and I’m fully aware that none of my pregnancies were conceived by immaculate conception. Besides, I had each caesarian section in the warmth and comfort of a nice clean hospital with not a single bale of hay or a little donkey anywhere in sight. Though I must admit; many wise people came bearing gifts.
Three of my children poked their heads into the world in the first days of June. Thus every June is full of presents and parties. And cakes and snacking…
My eldest is the first, every year, to celebrate her birthday. Noseying through her presents, I spotted a book: “101 things to do before you die”. I took an immediate interest, especially after doing my 101 tasks in 1001 days. I started reading the suggestions and I was shocked. Quite clearly the fantasies of a young man, I baulked at the thought of my eldest princess doing a bungee jump or taking part in a threesome or graffitiing something.
How irresponsible! OK, I know my daughters are all very artistic and encouraging them to spray paint some surface might actually add to the aesthetic value of the world. But for God’s sake, there are people like me! I can’t draw for fudge. I couldn’t sketch something aesthetically pleasing if my life depended on it. Despite my seven year old telling me that I just need practice. I know. I KNOW all the practice in the world will never turn me into an artist.
I think the heat has gone to my head.
I will never get used to this weather.
It’s been over 30°C since the weekend and the smell of not so sweet sweat seems to linger all around me. I have hardly slept because of the heat and then last night because a storm lobbed hail stones at my window.
My carefully planted and lovingly maintained salad ingredients have all melted in my tiny greenhouse.
Bugs are giving up the ghost. I’ve found several flat on their backs, legs stiff in the stuffy air, on my tabletop.
I thought I’d move in to my bikini only to discover, to live in, it doesn’t have the most comfortable crotch.
I cannot imagine ever being able to get used to the german weather.
But I’m really, really glad that just like the British, they love to talk about it.
Dearest, dearest Dan the Man
please forgive me
if you can!
I do beseech you
I had a plan:
I went shopping
some time ago
not alone, you understand
along with Aden
my own young man.
We searched and searched
through shelves and rows
for a fitting gift
that’d curl your toes!
Aden advised me
I think, quite well,
of what young men
find pretty swell…
I filled my basket
with goodies for you
and one or two
for your big brother too.
I thought I had it cracked
this birthday present lark
I laughed with the assistant
as I handed over my precious debit card.
Then I realised!
That between your birthday
and that of your sister
there’s only three weeks:
hardly enough time
to learn a new tongue twister!
So, I thought of the pennies
as well as the pounds
(it’s so important
that there’s enough
of that lovely money
to go around).
I’d share the postage
between you three
and I whistled to the birds
Now I hear from your Mum
that your birthday is today!!!
I haven’t sent your long-ago-bought-present
and you live so far away!!!
I had the date in my head
and then, somehow, I forgot
(perhaps because I’m old?
Or ’cause my head is full of snot?)
So your present
it is here
and you are there
where I am not!
so early bought
is clearly late!
So past the date!
I’m such a clot!
But I think
that you will laugh
once you know
I waited all this time
when your birthday
I believed it was
on a much
And the cherry on the cake?
I still needed to buy your lovely sister’s
or so I thought
although in truth
I had it already
sitting in a bag
right next to my bed
in which I climb
every… Single… Day!
And can you believe it?
In that bag
I also found
that absent glue;
the one I knew
that I’d bought
but had been missing
for a month or two….!
I was going
to finish here
But do you know
what happened next?
I’ll give you a moment,
have a guess…
I wrapped your pressies
all of them
and placed them
in a cardboard box.
I drove to the post office,
in the town
and parked my car
in a good spot.
And then I rummaged
I shook my head.
I beeped the horn.
I swore, somewhat.
Dearest, dearest Dan the Man,
I’d left your box
Upon my table
Happy Birthday Dan!!! Your pressie is finally on it’s way!!! :-)
The thing that I have already learned this morning (I know, already at this early hour on a Saturday) is: the way to wake up energised is to fall asleep the night before in your dinner.
That’s what our seven year old Akasha did last night while we were all chatting the evening away and putting the world to rights, as you do.
Now, I know that she had saved energy by being carried up the winding stairs to her bed, and therefore not having had to haul her small body from step to step. But I never could have guessed that that little iota of conservation could have resulted in the energetic outpourings that would, well, pour out of her this morning.
Before I even had chance to wake my sleepy head she’d got up and dressed, admittedly in yesterday’s dirty clothes, gulped down a bowl of Honey Loops and answered an incoming call.
Which is what woke me, incidentally.
I entered the living room to find her chirpily
tormenting brain training the dog. For those of you who don’t have a dog and thus have no idea what on earth I am talking about: you can buy intelligence toys for your dog, whereby you hide treats under cups and in drawers and beneath sliders. There are holes in each of the plastic pieces so that the dog can smell the goodies inside/underneath and is therefore motivated to figure out whether he or she should slide or pull or tip or push the object to obtain to the treat. Akasha had decided, in her wisdom, that the dog should not receive her treats but instead her dried breakfast in the toy which meant several rounds of ‘earn your brekkie dog’ one after another.
She then proceeded on to brush her hair and her teeth all the while talking her into submission.
I saw Lexi’s tail wag happily for a brief moment when Akasha revealed the flexi lead and she sat very nicely while it was being attached to her collar, I must say.
I, on the other hand was quite surprised, after all, being only seven Akasha is not permitted to take Lexi out on her own. But all was soon to be revealed: Akasha was hell bent on walking Lexi on the flexi through the house.
After repeated instalments of ‘stop, sit, stay and heel’ and more constant chatter in her floppy ear Lexi was finally released from her flexi and sloped, I interpreted: somewhat disappointed at not actually going outside, off to her cushion.
Akasha, in an effort to finally bring mummy into the land of the fully awake made me two espressos.
Well, that’s not technically true. She prepared me one ‘rinse clean the machine water’ with added sugar but I refused, point blank, to fall for that trick again. It might contain a sugar hit, but there’s not a single hint of caffeine in the mix.
So she zoomed off again and returned with the proper black stuff.
Simultaneously she informed me that she’d discovered why women have two boobs. “It’s for if they have twins and both babies are thirsty at the same time.”
I declared that despite already being dressed she’d have to get undressed again and have a shower. And wash that hair! It was still full of the sunblock she’d liberally covered herself in the day before (and quite probably half of her dinner too).
We entered the bathroom, which just so happens to be right next to the bedroom where poor Papa was still attempting to catch up on some sleep, despite all of the commotion.
She stepped under the running water and insisted, yet again, that she was quite capable of washing her hair, all by herself.
She was apparently also quite capable of waking up exhausted Papa with her entertaining and rather loud ‘shower song’.
Just to give you a little insight into my life: Akasha may be the youngest of my four children but she is not one of the two who have ADHD. They were both off with the youth fire service this morning at some ungodly hour. Erecting and decorating the village May tree. Quite incredible really when you consider that they’re both teenagers and that one of them recently broke two bones in his arm. I’m not quite sure how he’s managing to haul around a tree and branches when he’s wearing a once pristine white, now mostly black and grey plaster cast from his shoulder to his wrist.
I probably shouldn’t worry though. Last weekend he managed to raise quite a lot of money for the same fire service, packing bags for customers at the local supermarket for ten hours!
And on Tuesday he had no problem at all building up that camp fire.
Anyway, I couldn’t say no. He once told me that fire service is his life.
That and climbing and abseiling and potholing and archery and gardening and as soon as his arm is better he’s about to branch out into canoeing.
I’m still in shock that he managed to break his arm by nipping out to the shop for me and falling off his bike.
Although to be fair, he has conceded that he was driving down the hill at a zillion miles an hour.
Though really, he shouldn’t have been injured at all apart from that scrape on his right shoulder…
After all, he was wearing his helmet and he did instinctively do a ninjutsu roll off the bike as he flew over the handlebars.
Supposedly, it’s just that, he ‘made a slight mistake in how he landed…’
So this is my present state of play. Just in case you should want to know it.
Starting from my scalp:
My scalp is somewhat tight because in an effort to keep my hair away from my neck (you’ll learn more about that later), I have bundled my
crows nest fake auburn tresses upon the top of my head. My saving grace, in that department, is that I have a bright, shiny, new scrunchy, which really is something to get excited about when you have four kids and are a little more than forty years old.
I look a little like a scarecrow.
With extra straw.
Following downwards my brain is stuffed. Not with the lovely brains and wisdom of my fully spent youth. But with good old fashioned snot. Lots of it. I’ve tried blowing it out. I’ve tested setting it free with a nasal spray. I’ve attempted to shower it out with a nasal irrigation device, but at best, I only dripped. I’ve even done my utmost to pump it into oblivion with a special sinus attachment for my nebuliser; but to no avail.
So my head? It hurts. Somewhat.
My eyes are actually fine. Well, with the exception that I need to take my glasses off in order to see something that’s right there in front of my face.
I’ve discovered, on kissing my husband goodnight, that he is indeed quite a handsome fellow.
My nose is very dry. And bright red.
I have recently heard the name Rudolph being brandished about…
My skin is peeling, especially on my face. It seems to be some kind of wicked side effect to my immune suppressants. I’ve plateaued at a kind of flaky-old-lady with a chaffed look niveau.
I have attempted to replenish the skin with various lotions and potions but my now immune suppressed body reacts with a fiery, burning
wrath rash when I do so. So, I’ve resolved to stay flaky and remember back to yesteryear when it seemed, somehow, like being called flaky was some kind of compliment.
My neck. Ah yes my neck.
Yesterday, it was fine. Although my shoulder was attempting to be a little troublesome…
Then this morning, it complained (a lot) that I had slept wrongly in my bed.
I gently turned it this way and that. I told it, that we were finally out of bed and that, really, it doth protest too much. I promised it a nice warm scarf and a massage.
Then I sneezed.
One almighty sneeze.
And ever since that moment, I have looked like someone shoved a plank up my back as I can now only manoeuver with my whole body when turning to my right.
Hence then my crows nest; it’s the only possible way to stand a chance of the heat patch glue actually staying glued to my neck. That and the quadruple insulation scarf I have wrapped seventeen times around it.
My shoulders are now okay. Ish.
But my lungs? Well, er, let’s keep it short and just say they are competing on the whole mucus front thing.
Glad tidings from my throat though, considering how much I’ve been coughing, my throat is feeling fine. I suspect that’s down to the incredible volume of onion juice and honey I’ve been knocking back.
A little point of interest: my boobs are south facing. South facing!! How did that happen?
Anyway, my hips, ah yes, my left hip twinges. You got it: Twinges.
And my stomach, well, it feels a little nauseous, but, to be honest I’m putting that down to the incredible volume of onion juice and honey I’ve been knocking back.
My lovely Crohn’s bowel? It loves immune suppressants (in stark contrast to every other body part I own) so it’s absolutely fine and dandy.
Though, (and this information I only normally give out on a need to know basis), my bottom cheeks are continuously clenched together, nowadays, in an attempt to maintain a grip on my bloody grapevine otherwise known as my piles.
My left knee is trying to convince doctors that I was some kind of heroic sportswoman, with a pretty array of meniscus tears. But I’ve told them, quite emphatically, I generally stuck to gentle walking. Albeit I did tend to cover large distances, seeing as I am a woman and not a feminist one at that. Therefore, I can freely admit that I cannot park. Not to save myself. Which in turn means that I have always had to abandon my vehicle in the largest possible space I could find. Of course, that then has always happened to be the space that is furthest away from my desired destination. And I also have a tendency to forget where I parked my car, in that good old flaky spirit of mine, so that has, on many occasions led to some gentle strolling too. Not gentle on the nerves, mind you. There was, at times, quite a lot of shouting. And some swearing too. But I doubt that either of those things would have affected my left knee.
And while I’m bearing my soul; my right knee is sympathizing.
Which I don’t need.
I’m quite capable of feeling sorry for my left knee all by myself.
Don’t be thinking that I’m body-sidist, but what on earth is going on with my left foot?
It has some strange lump on it that doctors insist on poking, with an unnecessary fury and injecting concoctions into which has not improved matters in the least.
But the good news is: we live in modern times.
I joked with my daughter, the other day, “By the time you bury me I’ll be half plastic.”
My husband, who apparently still loves me, despite my decrepit frame, retorted, “Titanium, you’ll be made of titanium, it lasts longer.”
After I recovered from his unusual interlude of romanticism, my first thought was, “Wow, I’ll be the one setting off all the alarms at the airport!”
Then I had a little premonition. I realised, long before my own death, exactly what song will play out at my funeral:
“I am titanium……”
So we celebrated the New Year twice last night/this morning. Once at midnight, with the Germans, and then again, at 1am (through the lovely means of satellite television). We raised our glasses and clinked along with the Scots as the canon blew, the bells clanged and then we all sang along to Auld Lang Syne. Well, most of us did, Akasha informed me, mid song, that she was humming because she didn’t know the words. Then Joni and I attempted the Gay Gordons in a too-small-space and I got dizzy way before she did. I think that means I’m officially getting old.
Though to be honest, I’d already discovered that during the festive season. We’d purchased a cork board map of Europe and some little flag pins for Lori for Christmas. Despite her travel sickness she’s an ambitious traveller. She showed me where she’d stuck her pins and I got the shock of my life as I looked at her hung board and realised I couldn’t read a single name of a town anywhere in the whole of Europe! I zoomed in and out with my face but it was all blurry and only when I instinctively removed my glasses and placed them on the top of my head, then hovered in front of the board could Vienna and Rome and Lyon be easily deciphered.
2013 wasn’t my best year to date. And it wanted to make itself felt with it’s very last day. The morning had started with a notifying single bark from the dog as a piece of paper apparently fluttered down from its home on the whiteboard. I entered the hall to find the paper, amazingly, intact but the magnet, which had been holding it in place, missing. After an extensive search of the small hallway my son sobbed his poor wee heart out (believing that that would be the end of the dog) while I sped read the whole of the World Wide Web on the matter and then knowledgably informed him that it should be OK. The dog who was presently leaping around, full of madness and joviality would probably be fine. Just to be sure to help the magnet travel through in a more gliding fashion I then ran to the kitchen and prepared various vet-recommended recipes and nourished the delighted dog (she can barely contain herself when there’s boiled chicken on the hob).
I thought I’d leave 2013′s muck and grime behind, so I wandered upstairs to run a bath, only to discover that there was no hot water. As in, no water came out of the tap when it was turned to hot. Being a woman with no practical sense whatsoever I tried turning the tap on and off lots of times to see if that would make the water sploosh out again. Aden shook his head in despair at me and then looked around the house for a sensible man, i.e. Papa, and got, in my opinion, more than a little over-excited about the potential use of tools. Reini sweated in winter as he stared at the completely tiled-in bath. And I helpfully informed him that I had never thought a completely tiled-in bath was a good idea when we bought the house, although, it does, of course, look nice.
But Reini is our Mr Fix-It. So he managed to run me a bath through the shower and then, after many more beads of sweat, do a temporary fix on the tap, which according to him has some technical bit that will, at some point, no doubt in 2014, need to be replaced.
We started to prepare for the evening’s Raclette. It’s originally a Swiss dish that’s also eaten a lot in these parts. You need a special grill machine. There’s an element in the middle which warms the plate on the top so you can cook meat pieces etc and then simultaneously heats little individual pans underneath. Each participant has a pan and they fill it with whatever prepared ingredients they want, in our case: boiled potatoes and eggs, bread, tomatoes, pickled gherkins, onion, olives, ham, white asparagus, corn, and mushrooms were all part of the selection; then you place a piece of Raclette cheese on top and then grill it under the element. It’s a very sociable and fun meal but it takes a bit of preparation and at some point during those preparations I started to feel a little dizzy. Then I started to feel a lot dizzy. My husband sent me to the sofa to put my feet up and at that moment I started to see flashing lights. Black and white ones on the right side. It was a bit like a flashing kaleidoscope and, to be honest, it was rather annoying. To top that the rest of my vision seemed blurred by some sort of black smoke. Minutes ticked and the flashing continued at full bothersome force and as I didn’t seem to improve our visitor mentioned that perhaps I might be having a stroke. I laughed it off at first, telling myself that I’m just a slip of a girl but then I remembered.
I remembered the illegible cork map. And that grey hair I pulled out. And I looked down at my spreading belly and I realised that actually I’m 41. 41!
So, Reini sped read the World Wide Web and what do you know, I was actually suffering from a migraine. My body confirmed his diagnosis within a few short minutes with a great big stonking headache.
I do admit, it’s the very first time I’ve ever said, “Phew!” to a headache.
For some strange reason, right after this incident Reini moved the computer and discovered the dog had chewed through the network cable.
Let’s just say he wasn’t impressed.
And so we waved avidly goodbye to 2013 and warmly welcomed 2014.
After all, it’s a brand New Year. A brand New Start. A slate wiped clean.
And despite my migraine, I’ll raise a toast to that.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you. May 2014 be filled with health and happiness and adventures of a delightful nature!!!
So here it is: that time of year again.
Here anyway, there’s not a single, solitary flake of snow on the ground. The mulled wine is still in its bottle, as far back in its cupboard as it’s possible to be. After Thursday’s level of celebrating I have decided: I am never touching alcohol ever again. Well, not before tomorrow anyway.
The gifts are wrapped but not placed under the tree. Aden wanted to deposit his interestingly packed package for Joni, under the plastic needles, but we ran to the rescue as we anticipated the dog’s eyes excitedly lighting up and her wrestling the paper off. We explained to Aden that the dog would contentedly nibble away on his lovingly purchased present.
So he thoughtfully offered to squirt it with anti-chew spray.
The turkey is stuffing up the bottom drawer of the fridge. Reini’s chocolate gooey puddings are ready to cook, directly from frozen. Akasha’s covered the window in home-made stars and the apple tree is welcoming passersby with it’s twinkly, strangulating net of lights.
Cards have been sent, received and put up. The dog’s had her hair cut. Akasha’s offered to make extra presents – origami birds from loo paper. Excitement truly is in the air.
Christmas is coming and apparently we’re ready; even waiting for it.
Wishing you all a very, very Merry Christmas!!!!!
Can you believe it – it’s the last day? Of my enormous assignment for myself, to do 101 challenges in 1001 days.
I feel a little bit giddy, to be honest.
Even though there are no bright lights and I have not (yet) sipped a single swig of champagne.
In fact, for all intents and purposes, it’s a normal day: the frost lies crisp and white upon the ground, the trees stand still in a windless sky, the computer softly buzzes while I write and simultaneously shovel copious amounts of chocolate into my mouth and the puppy and I argue over who is actually typing on the keyboard.
Ah, yes, the puppy… Our new family member… I’ll introduce you to her properly later.
There are no banners drooping in the still, crisp air; no party hats sitting on dandruff free hair (this is not an advertisement; but we do use Head and Shoulders); nor have there been any clinking glasses, well, unless you count the ones precariously balanced in the dishwasher this morning.
But worry not. For tonight I will celebrate on the last of our 33 date nights. I’ve already marked it off. I fear I may just celebrate a little too much to be allowed to be left in control of machinery and other potentially perilous objects.
So what am I celebrating, exactly?
- Becoming really good friends with Tilly Bud, The Laughing Housewife my partner
in crimeduring the challenge.
- The murder mystery dinner (we had such a lot of fun especially as I was picked out as having had an affair with the murderer, which led to me being, shockingly, pulled up to waltz with him, in front of an audience of over 100 people – all German people can waltz (except my husband, which is the main reason we fit together so perfectly – I can’t waltz either. I have an excuse though not being German), but not knowing I wasn’t an authentic German participant – I had to play an Italian - the poor unsuspecting bloke had no idea what he was in for i.e. severely trampled feet and a hysterically laughing dance partner (there were over 100 people watching)).
- Making sure every single month – without fail – that Reini and I went on a date and made time for each other.
- The Eurovision Party.
- Watching 101 films. Watching films as a challenge means you can indulge yourself whenever you want and you don’t start to feel like a couch potato.
- Writing the first draft of my first book in NaNoWriMo.
- Trying new restaurants. I liked this challenge so much, I upped it from 10 in the first year to a total of 30 and I’m happy to say that I achieved this goal.
- Going on a bonding trip with Lori to a spa!
- Going to a wild west show – I really didn’t expect it to be so much fun and all of the kids really loved it too.
- Going to Linderhof Castle – beautiful.
- Taking Akasha to ballet. I only planned, originally, to give her a bash at it but as it turns out – she’s a proper full on little ballerina!
- Planting bushes in the garden. I have actually managed to grow something. OK I have also managed to kill several things but I succeeded in growing a few bushes!!!! I suspect I have found attached to myself half a green thumb. It might not be exactly in the thumb position but who cares? It’s half a green thumb!!
- On the theme of planting – finally I have a longed for pampas grass in the middle of the garden. In the spirit of honesty – the first one did die. But I soldiered on replanting. The second one is still alive, but we’re not through her first winter yet.
- My 40th birthday party. I totally loved it. But I do admit, I did go a little bit mad in organizing it. What with fancy dress and preparing 1000s of canapés and an art area for the kids and stilts and space hoppers and a trampoline and bubbles and a piñata and and and… And then a massive storm came and excited the Scottish visitors and drowned and tore down both the marquee and the carefully arranged tables. Aden had a full meltdown because, apparently, I had promised in a true British optimistic, weather-woman spirit that, no, it would not rain, when questioned (without reading any meteorological charts or anything!) and in contrast it poured.
- Resolving the pet question. We bought a puppy. A half-baked thing to do considering I’d not long had my third burnout. But she’s also been my salvation: going for walks, having cuddles, throwing a ball and then attempting to wrestle it back out of her mouth again. On top of that, she’s been an incredible asset for each of the kids for which I will be eternally grateful.
- I finally found support for my family. I’ve saved the best until last haven’t I? Last month my son was granted a Sozialpädagoge. He’s highly trained to work with autistic and ADHD kids and comes to the house and takes Aden out, two afternoons a week, and undertakes different challenges with him on a one-on-one basis. At the moment he’s working on helping him concentrate and gain confidence through various activities like climbing, potholing, swimming, and geocaching. And the local council have offered to pay for this support for the next two years. Sensational!
I did not finish all of my challenges. I expected far too much of myself and I realized quite early on that my wish to complete the whole assignment was nowhere near attainable. But that was OK. The idea for me was to have goals to aim for. Considering my burnout and how long it’s taken me to recover I do feel that I’ve done quite well. Moreover, although it was added pressure, I also feel that the enterprise helped with my recovery because I had a huge selection of entertaining tasks that I had personally chosen, to focus on.
Saying that, there have also been a few ‘lowlights’.
- I wanted to turn our office into an inspiring place to work (instead of a dumping ground) – I did so, I even put plants in there. The plants, of course, died and the office now looks worse than it did before. :-(
- I didn’t write a letter to myself to be opened in 10 years. I wanted to do this around my 40th to open then on my 50th but around my 40th I was so busy hosting a Spanish student and going to choir concerts and ballet performances and doctors appointments and preparing 1000s of canapés and collecting egg boxes (for the art area of the party) and eating my way through shop bought puddings so I could reuse the little bowls they came in for my own canapés, that I just didn’t have time. I would have loved to have known what I would have said in that letter to myself.
- Reading three German novels. I failed here appallingly. I started one with my dictionary in hand and my
translatorhusband lying next to me but he ended up snoring and I ended up dropping the dictionary and following him to slumberland. N.B. Not snoring: the official line is I don’t snore!
- Losing control of the 101 list. I couldn’t seem to keep control of the numbers and the letters on my page. At times my list would merrily head towards 101, while at others it would stop counting at the end of one section and then restart at the start of the next from 1?!? Then at other times my list would utilize the letters of the alphabet abandoning any kind of numerical system whatsoever. At first, I was infuriated and spent hours – OK – minutes trying to fix it and shaking a frustrated fist at the screen and yelling at my page, comments like; “Why are you doing this to me?” and “Who gave this computer free will?” Then my husband pointed out that actually, I’m just completely untalented when it comes to dealing with html.
- Learning how to make a photobook. I attempted this challenge sometime after we returned from France. I thought it would be lovely to have our favourite French photos compiled into a book that could be kept to be poured through by grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. After quite a struggle (remember my html experience) I managed to effectively put a photobook together online. I wanted to order it and then I saw the price of the masterpiece I had created, had a small fit and then decided to opt for a different company and a less glossy keepsake. I deleted the file, as you do, and rushed off to pick up a small person from somewhere. Then my husband accidentally destroyed the contents of our computer including addresses, kept emails, MY BOOK (luckily I had gone against his wishes and printed the whole thing off), important work he had done and our photos which hadn’t yet been backed up. Oops!
- Archery. For some reason I had a romantic notion in my head of taking a bow and pointing an arrow and releasing it off into the atmosphere… It would spin and twirl and then land itself on the exact, precise, on the nose particle that I had, a few mere seconds before, deciphered. What actually happened was: the arrow dropped to my feet, I had trouble ‘springing’ the arrow, the arrow couldn’t even find the haystack and the kids then hit every single target. I have discovered I have a deep dislike for archery. I felt like I did that time at school when I accidentally threw the discus into my screaming team mates or those days I could not throw the javelin any further than a meter. Or those endless lessons when I spent the whole double period trying to just hit the damned shuttlecock with the badminton racket – I’d drop the shuttlecock down towards the racket which was placed directly underneath the-said-cock and then I’d hit up the way and I’d miss every single time. I scratched my head quite a lot in those days (but I’m fairly sure that’s not the reason I buy Head and Shoulders in bulk every time I see it on special offer).
So, the gist of the story is: I’ve really, really, really enjoyed the challenge. I’m a little bit sad that it’s over but on the other hand I’m extremely pleased that despite being ill, I’ve continued to plod on through.
Today is no exception, I’m planning to finish off my Freerice challenge: I’ve donated 84,680 grains of rice so far and I’m hoping to reach 100,000 by the end of the day. I’ll have click-ache!! Plus I’m off out with Reini for the last of our 33 scheduled ‘date nights’.
A lot can happen in 1001 days and some of the goals lose their appeal or their importance as life evolves. But there are a few tasks from my list that I would very much still like to do:
The New List?:
- Make soap with the kids (I’ve even bought the ingredients but the kids are rarely all here at the same time).
- Try belly dancing (I need to get fit first).
- Take a pottery course (hopefully my pot won’t slide to the ground like my arrow did ;-) ).
- Publish my book (I need to edit it first!).
- Write a children’s story.
- Cook a goose (my foodie section was my most successful section but I didn’t manage this one, I am a bit intimidated about cooking a goose properly, especially because I have no idea how it’s supposed to taste).
- Go to Insel Mainau.
- Go to Herrenchiemsee.
- Go to Poland (this year we went to Hungary instead but I would love to do a city break in Poland).
- Do car boot sales with the kids.
- Write up my recipes.
- Floating (I have vouchers now – I just haven’t been able to ‘fit it in’).
- And put up that picture frame – why have I not done this? I do admit I did have pictures printed off at one point, but in the wrong size, deary me).
Thank you so much for all of your support. Luckily I’d also gone against my husband’s wishes and periodically uploaded photos to Facebook so here are a few visual reminders of the last 1001 days/143 weeks/33 months. Enjoy!
I’m on the mend.
Tortoisely slowly, I’m on the mend.
And, to be honest with you, that’s not been easy.
You see, I’m more of a hare than a tortoise: busily running through life. (What kind of analogy is that for children anyway? Slowly and methodically wins the race? Shouldn’t it be: speed, practice and focus is what’ll make you a champion?)
Apparently, I’ve been the victim of some unwanted role reversal. I’ve switched from being a hare to being a tortoise and it’s been excruciating.
Because, quite frankly, I have very little patience.
I tried to learn patience: it is a virtue, after all. But I failed miserably.
However, I’m finally, irrevocably, for once and for all on the mend.
Thank bloody fuck for that.
Today is a mammoth day.
Today my first born stops being a child and becomes an adult.
Joni, Happy 18th Birthday sweetheart!
I have a few things that I want to say.
Firstly, I’m sorry that the very first words you heard from my mouth were, “Ooh, she looks like a punk!”
But you proudly wore the best hair gel known to man, child or midwife. Which leads me to my second apology – I’m sorry that I made you crap yourself in the womb. The midwife explained that you must have had a rather large shock, she could even pinpoint roughly when in the pregnancy that shock actually happened, the marvellous woman. So you’re in the loop: I was running for a bus, heavily pregnant and I fell. I know, I know, the midwife tutted a bit at the thought of my all-up-front-baby-belly crashing down toward the ground. But in my defence, I was trying to help another, even more heavily pregnant woman. You see it wasn’t my bus. Instead, my friend, another future mother-to-be, sat on her bus and forgot to get up and dismount the said bus (she was coming to visit us) and so I raced alongside banging on the window and well, you know the rest…
Despite calling you a punk, you have to know that I was totally smitten with you from the second I laid eyes on you. I thought that you were the most beautiful thing I had seen in my life. I was high on drugs and somewhat uninhibited so I got away with banning every visitor from leaving the room until they had admitted that you were, in fact, the most beautiful baby ever to be born. Those visitors included our own guests of course, as well as midwives, auxiliaries, cleaners and naturally a sprinkling of doctors. Some of them seemed to find it all highly amusing (though not as funny as when, post caesarian, I yelled at the doctor to “Bring back my foot!” – I couldn’t feel my legs and all I saw was some gentleman’s hands carrying my foot down the operating table – a foot, I’d like to add, that I hadn’t seen for quite a while (you being all up front and that), I do admit that I did have a panicky moment or two thinking that he had surgically removed my lower limb, without permission, and had then proceeded to taunt me with my once bodypart) but some did appear a little irritated – especially once they became known as frequent visitors…
I was so inspired by your beauty that I made up a song for you, right there, in the hospital. I couldn’t stop singing it. And I still remember it. It went like this:
I’m Joni Beth, Joni Beth (insert your surname)
That’s who I am
I’m a beautiful, beautiful baby
With a cutie face…
Unfortunately, despite my inspired moment, I’m no Carole King.
You have developed into a young woman who is not only beautiful on the outside but also on the inside (which is the most important bit).
But sweetheart, despite the fact that you are now an adult, you will always, always be my baby.