Tag Archives: 101 tasks

Goals and triumphs


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?

The Highlights:

  • Becoming really good friends with Tilly Bud, The Laughing Housewife my partner in crime during 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’.

The 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 translator husband 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!

Something Terrible Happened Today


I wrote a complete story today for my NaNoWriMo book of short stories.

I did a quick read through and stuck to my bare minimal correction (as Tilly tells me: I have to write 50,000 words in 30 days, if I correct properly, I won’t finish) and I was happy with the story, particularly the ending.

I saved it. Please read again. I SAVED it. And then my self-hosting, private WordPress thingy-me-jiggy changed the screen and said I had to re-log in.

Being an obedient person, I did exactly that.

It took me straight back to my ‘post writing screen’ where I then discovered the last THIRD of my story had vanished.

COMPLETELY GONE.

Like, into thin air.

I clicked the back arrow. I clicked the forward arrow.

I shouted at the screen.

(Rather loudly.)

(Sorry neighbours.)

I banged my hand on the desk.

But it didn’t come back.

I looked at the previous drafts but it’s as if I never typed the last third of the story.

I called the computer competent one, aka my husband, but he’d abandoned me and my one third – he didn’t even pick up the phone.

I tried to pull myself together and remember the lines I’d written but CATASTROPHE: I had to leave the house to pick up the little one from Kindergarten.

All the way there I tried to make bullet points in my head reminding me of each point I’d written.

(In my next life, quite clearly, I’ll be a goldfish, I remember nothing. OK, truthfully, I remember odd things that no one else can like the date that the bacon that’s lazying around in the fridge will go off and the number plate of that abandoned car I spotted 18 years ago, but important stuff, that just flies out of my head.)

I told the little one NOT to talk to me as I recited:

  • Lori
  • Invisble
  • Mess up random
  • But to destroy Christmas

I ran in the door, chucked my coat on the floor, dived upstairs and wrote with my heart pounding.

I love computers. But I hate them. You get me?

NaNo No-No?


I have spent the day stuffing myself with Cadbury’s Whole Nut.

(This is not an advertisement,  Cadbury’s did not give me any free Whole Nut. They have never given me any free chocolate, which is probably a good thing. Anyone in my vicinity can quite clearly see, I have no self-control when it comes to Whole Nut. It’s actually the real reason I left Britain and relocated to Germany, there’s a distinct lack of Whole Nut here. In fact, there’s a distinct lack of Cadbury. If I’d have continued to live in the UK I’d have looked like a Weeble by now. Instead, I just look like a sausage.)

While I chomped (could it be that Whole Nut, in excess quantities, makes your bottom burp?) I also contemplated.

Should I or should I not set myself the challenge of joining 300,000 or so other writers and attempt a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days? NaNoWriMo

I had planned to make a gut decision, but I fear the whole Whole Nut escapade may have jeopardised my instinct.

What do you think? Am I certifiable? Do I need this challenge like a hole in the head? Will it give me back my mojo? Are you taking part? Will you support me? Will you come over and pair odd socks and make me chicken soup and hot chocolate and tell the children to “Rise and shine” each morning? Could my fingers actually fall off? Could I manage 50k qualitative words in 30 days or would I just be outpouring poop?

As The Beatles are famed for asking: “Won’t you please, please help me.”

101 Challenges: It all started with the garden


I know you’re all wondering where I have been.

If I’ve nipped off into early retirement.

If one or even both of my injured legs have fallen off.

If I’ve pulled all of my hair out and ran around the house screaming, completely starkers and been taken away by men in white coats, in a van, with blue flashing lights.

I can tell you the reasons I have been ignoring you distracted, cannot be explained by any of the arguments above.

OK. In the spirit of honesty, I did have a little shot at the screaming bit. But in my defence: I was neither running nor naked. In fact, I stood quite still as I let out the tiny, shrill utterance. And no men came running. Only concerned children appeared at my feet. I tried to ease their distressed expressions (they believed I had yet again injured myself) by telling them that, “Everything is well, Mummy is just loosing her marbles.”

The elder two, apparently pacified, returned immediately to their previous, more entertaining activities. But the youngest one remained. Her faced advanced from worried to sceptical and then, she questioned, “Do you even know what marbles are?

♦♦♦

I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks.

Why exactly I’m losing my marbles not finding time to blog.

But be prepared, it will take several posts.

It all started with the garden

And to be more precise: it all started with the bamboo.

With the help of spades and Pseu and buckets and Perfecting Motherhood,  and a heap of thoughtful advice from PiP, we started to realise the enormity of the task in hand.

After more than a little digging and carrying, we decided the intelligent decision would be to purchase a wheelbarrow. Which my husband then duly decided that, having a wheel, like a bike, must mean that the tyre requires a ‘good pumping’ before the very first use. Naturally leading on then to an ear-splittingly loud explosion.

It seems even our new neighbours are used to our carryings-on as no one came running and no one called the fire brigade.

As it turns out, a wheelbarrow full of bamboo roots and soil and ants and once complete worms is pretty much unshovable up hills and down dales with a flat. So we paused our digging momentarily, and poured out our woes to a good-natured shop assistant who kindly gave us a replacement wheel, free of charge. I can tell you, that action was a little ray of sunshine in those damp, dark days. We have finally given up on finished digging up bamboo roots and I can go to bed of an evening, without seeing their demonic dancing before my eyes.

Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that.

It actually went more like this:

We dug out the mass and transported the world-taker-overer the bush in our once shiny, no-soil-trodden-in-the-carpet, rented car. My husband then gently coaxed the very unsure gentleman at the recycling centre to take the evil infiltrator damn bush off our hands. Then we dug and discovered and dug and found. I flipped out about the sheer mass of ants (they have conquered, there we have no chance, there are at least three billion of them, which is only slightly more than the total number of roots we attempted to dig up). We panicked (rather a lot) about the proximity of the roots to the house and we dug and sweated and swore and hacked up worms and detected even more roots. We argued and I cried and we exploded tyres and got a sunburn with sunblock on on an overcast day. We discussed putting a pool in the hole or even a lake. Then we dug and unveiled even more far-reaching roots. We agreed stealing a panda from China would have been an easier way of solving the problem.

And then finally, after quite a lot of wailing and hallucinating, we decided to stop with the digging and start with the filling.

Which opened up a whole new can of worms in itself.

We caused the share prices in potting soil to rise steeply as we continually packed the car with sacks of the black stuff.

Then the gardener, who’d just laid our new terrace, politely informed us that: grass wouldn’t grow as the soil we’d used was far too sour. I think his heart went out to us and our enormous cavity in the ground, because he offered to deliver us some free humus the next time one of his workers would pass by. We almost bit his hand off and we happily waited for his truck to arrive. But despite his generosity, the hole still had a great big gaping, well, hole in the middle.

We’d wanted the outside to be ready for my fortieth, so we marched on with other garden work – which coincidentally provided us with extra suitable soil – including: building a wall made from giant plant pots (with the help of two hard-working friends). I subsequently stocked those with flowers and herbs – meaning I finally fulfilled my herb garden task! And with massive success. We now have ample supplies of fresh mint and coriander and chives and sage and rosemary and parsley and erm… thyme.

The thyme looks great and has grown tremendously. But when we ate it, we discovered that it was erm rather chewy and erm very bitter and also, it didn’t have that all-engulfing smell that fresh thyme normally has when it’s cooking…

Finally, I ascertained that we’d been eating – thyme - the bush.

Oh well. It still looks pretty.

I bought a new thyme, the herb, and now she’s sitting happily on the kitchen windowsill next to her new friend, Basil.

We bought and planted new bushes. I wish I could gleefully crow that that means I fulfilled another challenge. But alas: no. Only three have survived. The rest have been slaughtered.

One didn’t even have the chance to blossom before some ravished rodent chomped its way through the roots.

A second found itself de-stemmed by the gardening firm who arrived to lay the terrace and the new stone steps.

Another came a cropper when my exhausted husband forgot about it’s whereabouts and accidentally mowed over it with the lawnmower. ‘Twas only a baby.

Then two had a mishap, on two separate occasions, with the strimmer!!

We turned our attention from bushes to arches. We marched through DIY stores and I found an arch that I adored, and I soon loved it even more, because being the last one in the shop and the display model, it was actually reduced to almost half price! They even freely included the cobwebs and the spiders!

We somehow, managed to wrap the metal thing around two of the kids and were able to transport the already-built-up-for-us arch, home.

We found some budget, out-of-date concrete mix in the cellar, thought, “that’ll do” and rammed it in the ground.

Immediately afterwards, I planted what I’d believed to be two so-pale-purple-they-were-almost-blue clematises. Of course, once they both flowered I discovered that one was actually bright purple.

We marvelled from the new terrace at our wonderful handiwork. At the glorious colours. At the perfect precisional placement of the arch against the stone steps.

Then a hurricane force wind appeared and we watched in full Technicolor horror as the trampoline flew past the window, smashed into the arch, removing it completely from it’s out-of-date concrete, taking both blue and purple flowers along with it, and everything landing jammed up against the carport.

After a few wrestling moves that quite frankly, would open the WWF’s eyes, my husband managed to free the now slightly askew arch from the carport’s clutches.

We bought some new cement mix and started all over again. As you do.

The clematises weren’t happy. They haven’t grown much. And have only occasionally revealed to us their pretty petal components. But I can’t blame them. Firstly, they believed themselves to be twins of the identical persuasion. Then, just as they were starting to get used to one another, they were traumatically wrenched from their new homes only to be put straight back with the renewed aroma of fresh concrete within nauseating proximity.

I took my anger out on the weeds. I yanked them out one by one with a grab and twist hole-leaving contraption. I ached and the weeds just laughed and spread. My husband mowed over them and conceded that, at least they were green. But I had hatched another plan during our frequent trips to the gardening centres and DIY stores.

Weedkiller.

I bought it.

I brought it home.

I pointed it.

I sprayed it.

And then I laughed menacingly.

OK. That last bit was just for effect. ;-)

But anyway, the weeds slowly withered and turned brown.

And I whooped around the lawn.

As you do.

Then the grass, slowly withered and turned brown.

And my husband pointed his finger at us all and questioned, “Who poured weedkiller?” on his precious well-tended grass. I reluctantly raised my hand.

Luckily though, the weeds grew back and there are now quite a few patches of green where the lawn used to be.

We put a few finishing touches to the garden like stepping stones to the featuristic archway. And we decided we’d do something exciting at the front door.

I had a vision of a stone garden. At first, I thought with plants dotted around but the only things that grow well there are, you got it, weeds. So we hit on another idea. A metal sculpture set in a stone garden.

Metal sculptures are quite ‘in’ here at the moment, so they’re easy to find. But having picked and laid the stones first, we decided that we’d prefer the sculptures to be in their pre-rusty form. And stay like that. “Easy!” we thought. We’ll just varnish them.

We traipsed back to the DIY shop and were greeted by a friendly assistant, she is, of course, more intimate with us than she is with her own family by now, due to our regular visits. After a little bit of consultation, we purchased our very own bottle of spray varnish.

I would like to point out at this point that I really wanted to buy a brush and a conventional slap-it-on varnish. My husband had to sympathetically pacify me by showing me that none of the slap-it-on varnishes were for metal that would live outside the home. Only this particular can of spray varnish said it would work the miracle of protecting metal objects standing outside, from the splish-splash of the rain. I felt unconvinced. Firstly, the metal object shown on the can was a wheelbarrow, not a shiny sculpture and secondly, I thought the fine mist provided by a spray can would take a right old battering in German storms. So we agreed on several coats.

I trust my husband, you know.

Despite him mowing over my bush. And using out-of-date cement. And exploding wheelbarrow tyres.

We returned home and started spraying. Then I recalled: I’m asthmatic and had to wander off and suck on an inhaler for a while.

After that, I could only wave from the closed window as my husband set to work with his aerosol.

He sprayed.

It rained.

And the next day the shiny metal sculptures had started to rust.

So he sanded them down, then sprayed them again.

Then sprayed them again. And again. For good measure.

It chucked it down.

They rusted.

He called the manufacturer and they informed him that unless the sculptures are kept indoors, they would rust. He begged for an idea of something, anything that could protect their silverness.

They told him about a plastic coating that’s used on planes. So of course, he bought some on the internet.

Are they still silver? Judge for yourself!

N.B. More 101 updates coming up.

Aden’s surprise


Next week I will be, gasp, gulp, sigh, sob… FORTY!!!

Don’t be wishing me a ‘Happy Birthday’, yet. Germans consider birthday wishes before the actual day to be bad luck. I’m not particularly superstitious. Though I don’t walk under ladders – I’m a klutz and something could easily drop on my head. I do salute magpies – I’m polite. I do shriek quite loudly if someone attempts to put their shoes on the table – it’s unhygienic. I do swoop in and attempt to win the battle of the wishbone – I see no point in throwing a wish possibility away. I did spend around half my childhood looking for a four-leaf clover, with no success. And I do knock on my head, if I’m not in close proximity to a more perfectly formed wooden object.

No, I would describe myself as more pragmatic than superstitious.

Anyway, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that I’m planning – and that means currently organizing – a proper knees up for my fortieth. I can say knees up now, I’m almost forty. Though whether I can actually get that bloody wrecked left knee up there is another discussion entirely… Where was I? Oh yes, party. So I’m currently organizing the festivities as laid out by my challenges. It’s quite exciting.

Last week, I accompanied my son to an impressive sports event involving several local schools. The finale being two dances performed by 1800 pupils in unison.

After I’d wiped my eyes (blubbery mother that I am) I dragged walked with my five-year old to find my son in the swarm and then we found ourselves right in front of the stage, watching the most amazing balloon entertainer.

I mean, this guy totally rocked.

My son stood in the long queue and waited patiently to receive the autograph of the performer.

I stood with him for a while, then wandered over to the grass and sat in the sunshine. All the other kids picked up their autographed postcards, said their ‘hellos’ and were gone. But my son had a little chat with the young man.

I quizzed him, but he was non-committal.

The next day my son informed me he was expecting a call and that I was under no circumstances allowed to answer the telephone.

The call finally came and he returned to the room, disappointed.

He’d tried to book this amazing entertainer to come to my birthday party as my birthday present.

Naturally, the entertainer (who’s been on TV several times) was completely booked up.

Now, how sweet is that?

I am relieved though. He would have had no money left = no train set that he’s been saving for forever and a day, and we’d probably have had to empty our piggy banks as well.

P.S. If you’re looking to send me a birthday present, tissues would be nice, the ones here seem to be rather soggy!

P.P.S. For my entertainment and yours, a clip of the super-duper entertainer in question (it’s in German but please persevere, it’s worth it!):

Beware of the bath


Last night, after a hard day of tapping the keys fantastic and dropping a child at a birthday party and stuffing my face with pizza, I decided to plough on with my film challenge and snuggled into my husbands shoulder and settled down to watch a movie.

Except, it seems, he’s just too darn snuggly, and after only 25 minutes, he noticed I’d already nodded off.

That’s funny in itself, he exasperated, I started snoring precisely 25 minutes in last time we tried to watch exactly the same movie.

He gave up on me and decided he’d watch a film he knows I wouldn’t like. I didn’t feel like going to bed. The children had only just gone quiet so I lay my head against his shoulder and tried to block out the sci-fi sounds blasting out of the TV.

It didn’t work. I suddenly felt half awake. And cold. So I decided I’d have a bath with some relaxing bath salts. Mmmm

I climbed into the tub before it had even finished running. So alluring was the water.

I felt the heat and I lay and I thought. And it soothed.

No wonder I was so tired! The five-year old had woken me at 7am (after I’d been writing until 2am) to remind me: today was the day of the birthday party.

One of the things you can guarantee in life, is that young children will always wake you up early at weekends and in the holidays, even though you have to raise them from the dead on a school or nursery morning.

And if you’re an optimist like me, you’ll convince yourself every Friday and Saturday night, that it’s the weekend, and that that means a long lie.

Tired, I arose from my bath, swathed myself in a soft towel and opened the window slightly to aid the room to return to its former bathroom look. Rather than remain as the steam room it had become.

I thought I’d just sit on the bed for a minute, but I felt dozy, so I tossed the quilt over me even though I was still in my towel…

“Mum, Mum! You left the bathroom light on and the window open!” A teenager awoke me.

You’re waking me up from my lovely and much-needed sleep to tell me that, I thought, but I couldn’t say as sleepiness engulfed me…

“Sarah, Sarah, wake up! You left the light on in the bathroom and the window open. Are you alright?” My teenager, worried, had disturbed her father from his film.

You, too, are waking me up from this lovely and much-needed sleep to tell me that, I thought, but I couldn’t say as sleepiness engulfed me…

I awoke this morning with a cheery five-year old in my face wishing me a “Good morning!” And I thought: what was all that about? OK, I left the window ajar, but the heating isn’t on and the mosquitoes aren’t here yet. And, actually, the normal bulb in the bathroom has blown, so I probably just switched the wrong switch off. The bulb over the mirror, is one I rarely use, being a person who generally avoids mirrors…

I trudged off to the bathroom for my morning pee, opened the door and saw…

… Trousers and socks and underwear and shoes thrown around the bathroom like a mini tornado had briefly entered the room and had a field day with cloth stuff.

What the hell happened here? I wondered.

I have an image of myself in my head now.

Undressing and swirling individual clothing garments around my head and then flinging them off into the yonder.

It’s not a pretty image.

It’s not a true image.

But I have no other idea as to how my clothes and shoes scattered themselves so freely.

On the bright side, at least I’m not the only one wondering: what’s going on? ;-)

A Monster Challenge


I have to make this update short. For two reasons.

The first is this beautiful bamboo:

Isn’t it gorgeous?

NOT!

Well OK, it was until yesterday. Until yesterday, we were so proud of something growing so beautifully in our garden. So proud, for once, that our black fingers had turned green…

Then yesterday, after a colleague had planted a niggling suspicion in my husband’s mind, we went to the garden center to find out exactly what type of bamboo it is.

The colleague had told my husband scary stories of bamboo taking over the garden and the neighbour’s garden. Of it murdering other plants in gardens of those with green fingers. And of it requiring a digger to come to separate it from the earth it had now taken over.

My husband had gulped. Sweated a little. And had needed a caffeine hit to calm his sudden nervous disposition.

The little voice echoing around in his head kept telling him that we have black and not green fingers. And despite that, our bamboo had been thickening and growing taller and looking generally well.

Plus there was a strange root growing diagonally out of the vegetable patch which he’d discovered belonged to the bamboo.

We went to the garden center, me full of annoying optimism and my man with his glass half empty.

I encouraged, “Our fingers have turned green!” With no real evidence. The pampas grass has been cut but has no green shoots. The marguerite is brown. Every pot of anything we put on the front step as a ‘welcome’ withers and dies.

And just in case you’re not convinced that we’re completely clueless at gardening: last year I planted wild meadow flowers in the little piece of soil we put beside the front door. I placed a rocking bird there to frighten birds away from eating the seed. The great metal thing kept being carried off it’s stand in the wind and ended up being driven over by a neighbour. As at times happens to real birds. The seeds did grow. I couldn’t, in fact, figure out why they grew so tall. It seemed as if they were making their way up to the kitchen window in an attempt at blocking out all daylight.

But I digress.

Our first trip to the garden center yesterday saw us panicking rather more when the garden-know-it-all informed us that, from our description, it could indeed be that we had the garden suffocating variety.

My husband (generally of good humour) asked if we should dig up the beast and put some kind of plastic don’t-let-your-roots-wander-beyond-this-place device in the hole and replant the pretty green bush into it.

The man looked into our inexperienced souls and cracked up. It turns out we’re hilarious. It turns out we could make a concrete hole and that wouldn’t stop the beast. It turns out, this gentleman has insider knowledge of one monstrous bamboo who burst in right through a family bathroom.

Now at this point, I forgot that I’m an optimist and I joined my husband in a state of complete panic. Because we, garden numpties, had planted the house-wrecker right next to the house. And the terrace for that matter.

See:

We drove home. Slightly erratically. With a running commentary from the back seat by an ADHD boy full of ‘good’ ideas.

We returned to the center a few minutes later with a cutting, as suggested by our possible saviour.

I think, there may have been a slight glint in his eye as he identified the branch and delivered the bad news.

We drove to the DIY store in haste and purchased a pick axe and a wheelbarrow. But we couldn’t start digging it up last night because darkness was already approaching and we need to make sure we get every single last bit of root out, according to our hero.

The second reason I have to hurry with this update is: my ADHD son is on new medication. I’m sure it’s just not in his system properly yet. I had to send him outside to burn off some energy as he was somewhat penetrating.

And I’ve just discovered he’s tied a rope to the bamboo in an attempt to begin the excavation…

So, films watched:

  • The guard: brill.
  • 30 Minutes or less: cool.
  • Flypaper: great.
  • Xmen first class: good.

I’ve also helped at AD’s school with the healthy snack. I had to prepare enough food for 70 kids. Apart from the panic over whether it would be enough food, I really enjoyed it. So much so, I’ve agreed to do it again!

I’ve also been floating which I can only recommend. It’s good for your back and skin and makes you feel very well rested. Afterwards, I felt quite energetic for about two weeks!!

And last night, I left my man sweating the bamboo situation out on his own. I took my eldest, Joni to a rock concert, put on locally by a very good cover band. We had a great evening, boogieing the night away. So much so, (I’m a wild dancer ;-)) that I have aching muscles all over this morning.

And now I need to save the garden save the house save the world dig up a monster.

Please take a moment and welcome four new challengers:

Makes Me Wander

Believe Anyway

whyyyjen (who gets the award for putting her list together in the quickest time!!)

workingberlinmum

Me! Me! Me me me!

Wanna join in?


As you’ve been reading today, Tilly and I have been doing our challenges now for a whole year.

Would you like to know more about joining us?

I’ve now set up an FAQ page on my blog. Feel free to browse through the questions other bloggers have asked me.

We would love it if you started up your own list. :-D

A statistical analysis


Tilly and I have been doing our challenges for a whole year!!

How time flies!!

Can you remember that slightly panicky post I wrote? No?

OK, I’m going to ‘reblog’ it and then check out how I’m actually getting on. (This is a discovery process for both you and me).

Originally posted on 22.04.2011:

Not to worry you or anything, but I thought I’d have a breakdown break down the lovely tasks I’ve set myself, into easily manageable numbers and see exactly where I’m at.

The challenge states 101 tasks in 1001 days, and I have 973 days remaining.

I have so far completed 1 task.

I still have to find 25 tasks. But, of the 76 tasks I’ve already set myself, 17 are not singular events.

So, actually, I still need to:

  • Blog 291 times (after this)
  • Maintain the list 31 times
  • Go to the gym 99 times
  • Attend 3 classes at the gym
  • Go swimming 28 times
  • Try 26 new recipes
  • Buy 5 new cookery books
  • Find 5 delicious wines
  • Introduce 3 people to sushi
  • Eat at 10 new restaurants
  • Read 3 German novels
  • Watch 94 films
  • Date my hubby 32 times
  • Do 4 car boots sales with the children
  • Date 2 of my daughters 12 times (so 24)
  • Home therapy with my son 52 times

This adds up to 710 events.

In the remaining 973 days.

Breathe.

OK. No. Wait. Because that only covers 17 of the tasks.

There are also 59 singular tasks.

And then, as I said before, 25 tasks are still to be found.

If I average out those 710 events through the 17 tasks I can round that up to 42 events per task.

Furthermore, if 17 of the 101 tasks are more than singular events, (which equates to around every 6th task), through the law of averages, I would expect that approximately 4 of the remaining 25 tasks to be found, would also be multi-eventers.

And if each of these 4 tasks then, took the previous average of 42 then I would expect to add another 168 events to the challenge.

Pant. Pant. Pant. BREATHE.

Where were we?

Erm… yes, 710 events plus another 168. So 878 events.

What?

No. Sorry… Incorrect.

I have not added on the already selected 59 singular tasks previously mentioned.

878 + 59 = 937

Gulp.

But, oh… Silly me. I still have to allow that 21 of the 25 remaining tasks would also, by the law of averages, be singular challenges.

So: 937 + 21 = 958 8O

ARGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Therefore, I’m faced with 958 events to be completed in 973 days.

If you are considering joining our challenge, please don’t let this deter you, after all I still have 15 wholedays left (if I succeed in 1 event per day) to: find another 33 Facebook fans, achieve another 13 flags on flag counter and another 56 countries, notch up another 42,875 hits on my stats counter and to donate 77,410 grains of rice.

The really good news is: I never did like cleaning. :-D

OK. Let’s see if I can work this out.

I only have to find 7 more tasks. (That’s a good start.) (Can you tell my glass is always half full?)

Today is day 367. That means I’m over a third way through, timewise. So, technically I should have completed more than 33 challenges. I have completed 22 but I don’t think that proves I’m behind schedule, as I’m in the middle of many tasks.

So far I’ve also:

  • blogged 119 times putting me well above my third of 303 times target.
  • maintained the list 13 times, also on target then (13/33).
  • chopped going to the gym and replaced it with 1001km on the cross trainer. I’m definitely behind there because of problems with my knee…
  • swam 30 times? I’ve managed 5 trips to the pool. Who on Earth came up with 30 as a target?
  • dreamt I’ve been swimming, does that count?
  • tested new recipes out on my family. :-D I am a success. 25 out of 30.
  • bought all 5 of the cookery books. Well, one was given as a present. And I’ve convinced 1 person to go with me to try sushi. It turns out, I have make two new friends who have never tried sushi because apparently, I’d already introduced all of my old friends to sushi before I had started the challenge. I actually need new friends. I’ve annoyed all the old ones by continually asking them if they have tried sushi. None of them pick up the phone any more. I even heard a rumour that some of them have renamed me as ‘The Sushi Nag’ on their handset instead.
  • found 0 delicious new wines. And I have been trying. OK, OK, I admit I have been sneaking back to the old wines…
  • upped the restaurants to 30. Which completely wrecks all of my statistics. But I have so far managed 15 of them.
  • I’m not doing well with the German novels…
  • watched 48 films. Without sleeping on my husband’s shoulder.
  • steadfastly stuck to dating my husband every month. We’re single-handedly keeping our local restaurant open. We’ve been there 12 times and 1 time we went to a Murder Mystery Dinner.
  • not achieved a single boot sale and I’m behind on Joni’s dates (the girl is so busy, she never has any time) so we have a measly 4 there, therefore I’m thinking of starting Lori’s dates before I finish Joni’s.
  • managed 2 therapy sessions with Aden.

Now for the maths.

In the last statistical post I informed you I still had to complete 958 events in 973 days. However, since then I added 20 new restaurants. Taking that total up to 978 events in 973 days.

Gulp.

Hang on, wait a minute!! I ‘chopped’ the gym. That means a reduction of 3 classes and 99 trips to the gym.

So, 978 – 102 = 876 events in total.

And since then I’ve completed a total of *fumbles for calculator*

250 events. Plus 22 tasks. So 272.

Oh no. Just a sec.

Some had already been accounted for in the previous statistics, such as 4 new recipes and 7 watched films. I need to juggle my figures.

So. Magically (just like that) (don’t ask me about my methods, I’m only 31.763% sure they work) I find I have to take 28 already credited events and 1 credited completed task from the previous 272 total. :-(
Thus 272 – 29 = 243

So, since April last year I’ve managed to complete 243 events.

Now for the moment of truth.

Are you sitting comfortably? Do you have a glass of celebratory fizzy wine prepared?

In order to be on track I need to have completed one third of the 876 events.

876 ÷ 3 = (drumroll) (sorry) 292.

Shit.

Vodka anyone?

*I knew I shouldn’t have cleaned the bloody house*