You may wish you were a fly on the wall in my house

I sometimes wish I owned a dictaphone to record those ‘special moments’.

Like yesterday, when we visited the local shopping centre. It wasn’t a planned visit. We ended up there because I was really sure we had an appointment at the local hospital. But it turns out, that my racing through town, in desperation to get one of my loved ones there on time, was a bit over-zealous. As the appointment I dragged everyone to is not for another two weeks.

So we found ourselves within the centre of town, with nothing to do. And the rain started. So I suggested the shopping centre. Some people wholeheartedly agreed that it was a good idea. One family member did not. But we jumped back in the car anyway and continued our journey at a more leisurely pace.

Lori, Akasha and I browsed a couple of the shops while the grumpy one stood outside, looking, well, grumpy.

In one of the smaller boutiques Akasha, who as you might remember, is eight, blurted out, at full volume, I should add: “Is this shop so small because it’s not successful?”

I did my best to blissfully ignore her question by pointing out a top to my picky and in-need-of-clothes teenager. But she informed me, in no uncertain terms, that the said top was “ugly”. She did not whisper and the shop was, as I’ve clarified, quite small. We were also the only customers in it, so the assistant was clearly focussed on us. I decided the best option was to make a quick getaway.

Back to the grumpy one.

The summer holidays are drawing to a close and there have been oh so many of those moments.

Like just a few short minutes ago.

Akasha (the creator) bound into the room and jubilated, “I made myself a necklace from my pants string.”

Indeed, around her neck she wore a piece of knicker elastic. Removed from the panties she’s currently wearing creating a ‘matching outfit’ effect.

My teenage son, (the health and safety officer) analysed the situation and noted, in his usual very matter-of-fact tone: “A health and safety person might describe that as a strangulation device.”

To which Lori (our quick-witted ninja) replied, “Like my hands!



Dreaming up true heroes

I’m one of those people who remembers dreams. In explicit detail. I awoke this morning and realised I’d had several back to back dreams and they all appeared to have a running theme:

I’d found myself having some difficulties, generally of the missing passport/lost ticket/non-functioning bank card persuasion and I felt rather panicky and weepy. There always seemed to be a ‘going off on holiday’ scenario but we’re not going anywhere – so that part must have just been wishful thinking.

Anyway, every dream ended with my husband saving the day at the last minute.

I got up and went downstairs to inform him that he’s my hero.

Can you imagine my surprise?

He was standing at the kitchen sink. Washing pans. With nowt on ‘cept his superman pants.



A brief interlude

My recent crankiness, unreliableness and remoteness can all be put down to one cause:


I am like a full on headache-monster. With angry red smoke billowing from my nostrils and everything.

The latest spate started in about October. It’s now July. I am demented. My gut feeling is that it was a sinus infection that set it all off. I don’t go with my head feeling anymore. It tends to lead me down the path of confusion.

I got a cold. A regular cold. As did most of the members of my family. Except, everyone else was blowing their noses and, you know, just generally increasing the value of tissues. Where as, I, only had a slight sore throat and sneezed a couple of times.

Everyone rejoiced, “Mum is fit and well!”

But I panicked, somewhat. I increased my inhalers and bought shares in Sinupret. Because, from past experience, I’m well aware, if it doesn’t stream out of my nose like a gushing river then it either clogs up my lungs or my head.

I continued to breathe easily but I stopped thinking straight.

I shoved sprays up my nose. Washed Sinupret down with gallons of water and rubbed peppermint oil on my temples and forehead.

The latter sometimes served as a welcome distraction, as the oil has a nasty habit of running from the aforementioned forehead into the eye.

And that burns baby.

Enough to make you forget you ever had a headache.

But it lacks longevity. So, it’s by no means a cure.

I fought on with nose showers and steam inhalations and raw garlic.

I am a truly horrible patient. I hate being ill. It stifles my get up and go. And without my get up and go, I’m a right old mess.

So I battled my ‘cold’ and I won. But soon enough I realised that I’d only won a battle and not the war.

I apparently got attacked by one cold virus after another and it seemed like my sinuses got more and more stuffed and the company who make Sinupret had to weaponise me with stronger, more kickass versions of their product.

I knocked back painkillers like an addict. Though I wondered if they did any good at all.

I saw doctors, of course.

They cheered me on in my endeavour and handed me prescriptions that made no difference. At all.

So, I visited a specialist in June, she smeared cold, slimy gel all over my cheekbones and my forehead and told me she could see nothing. At all.

Apart, that is, from a large cyst in the sinus cavity which she reckoned would not be responsible for such continuous pain.

She informed me that there are cavities she was unable to see with her machine and that I would need an MRI.

I asked her for medication. She declined.

I told her Ibuprofen doesn’t seem to help. She said, “No, it wouldn’t.”

We called all the radiologists within 50 miles but none could bang magnetic waves around my head for more than six weeks.

I despaired. I whined. I ordered my husband to learn acupressure from the internet and he, in turn, dented various areas on my head, face and hands. The relief was minute. Even trivial.

I threatened my head, that if it didn’t stop bloody hurting, I would bash it off a wall. It didn’t listen.

There was one other thing that the specialist had mentioned. My neck.

Now, my neck has been a regular source of headaches for me over the years. I’ve repeatedly had physiotherapy. It’s one of the areas I carry my stress, along with my shoulders and my jaw. But also a physio had once told me that the first vertebra in my neck wasn’t sitting correctly, which would lead to me suffering repeatedly from headaches. One of Joni’s friends had been having migraines and had been for a procedure known as ‘AtlasPROfilax‘. Her headaches had been cured but she remained sceptical about the procedure.

For one thing, it costs 220 Euros. That’s £153. Or $238.

But my husband persuaded me.

I was given an appointment, fairly quickly, and my husband drove me there. I had reached the point where I could no longer drive the car. My concentration had gone and I felt like a liability to other drivers.

The first thing that got me excited was the sofa. I kid you not: it was made of recycled cardboard. Here it’s here. Isn’t it brilliant?

It distracted me from my nervousness. For a wee moment. But that was all I needed, because then the physio invited me into his treatment room. I dragged my husband in to assist me with decision making.

During my many years here in Germany I have met many, many doctors, nurses and therapists. But it would be fair to say I’ve never met any quite like this one. He felt, to me, to be more like a salesman than any kind of therapist.

My husband is a pessimist and was also the one carrying the wallet so the holistic ‘healer’ knew he was the one who needed to be convinced.

I was told to stand up and things were pointed out about the way my feet pointed, that one shoulder was higher than the other and the like. If I remember correctly, he also noted that one boob was larger than the other. I’m sure that was the case, because I have a vague memory of wondering how appropriate such talk was. I was living in a land of fuzz and confusion at the time, so I may actually have imagined that part of the conversation.

My husband announced that he couldn’t really notice the minimal difference in shoulder height and that it was regularly the case that one boob would be bigger than the other.

It could be that I attempted to block that last bit out and that is the real cause of my confusion. I am a jealous gal. And I bury my head in the sand about previous relationships my soul mate has had.

The two men chatted on. I was made to lie on the bed, on my tummy, with my legs up in the air. Supposedly a pen was balanced on one of my feet. I turned my head to one side and then the other. My feet moved too, and so the pen was never aligned with the other foot. I didn’t feel anything I just did as I was told and begged inwardly that someone or something would cure my damned headache.

I would describe myself as a realistic optimist. I am an optimist but I also like to be realistic about things. So I glanced around for some sign of science. The healer/physio/car salesman – whatever you want to call him –  showed us the bone, called the atlas, which your head sits on and keeps the rest of your spine aligned (or something like that) with one of those plastic skeletons on a stand that doctors have. He told us, when we are born, it’s already misaligned. He told us that is the case for everyone and that everyone needs to have this procedure done.

Now, I know that I told you that I’m an optimist. But this was the moment when my inner pessimist started to kick in. Everyone? He babbled on about evolution.

That was it. That was the science. The remaining 20 minutes or so, he ‘sold’ us evidence of his healing ability by telling us about various local doctors who, along with their families, had come for AtlasPROfilax at his clinic. He even dropped in a few names in order to convince us.

I should probably mention that he did also look at my neck for a few seconds.

I asked him what the procedure entailed and to my horror he pulled out a patented tool, which, I thought looked rather like a poking vibrator, and told us, quite excitedly that this tool vibrates (I wasn’t really surprised by that point) which softens the tissue and muscle around the atlas so that it can move into the correct position, from which it can never move again.

Then he asked us a question, befitting a true salesman:

Do you trust me?

Now had I been fit and well…

Had he had a healthy specimen standing there before him…

Had I not been driven to the point of no return by a raging headache…

I could have stomped on his foot, told him to shove his obscure looking vibrator, yelled at my husband to grab the sofa while I nabbed the very cool plastic skeleton (for educational purposes, naturally). In order to to teach him about the consequences of conning all of those doctors and that 91 year old female patient he told us about. And about the importance of data protection.

I wanted to shout, “Why the hell would I trust you? You just broke medical confidentiality! I would be a complete lunatic to trust you!! I don’t want you anywhere near me with your vibration rotation contraption!!! You just insulted my boobs you cocky scoundrel!!!!”

Instead though, I just said, “Do it!”

I was that desperate.

I can tell you there was nothing soft or soothing about the treatment. My neck was intensely beaten by a pokey vibrator. In fact, in the days that followed it was clear to me that I had some internal bruising.

He made me stand again and strangely one of my feet seemed to stand naturally straighter than before. He did the pen test again and apparently, no matter how I turned my head, my feet stayed in the same position and therefore were always aligned with the pen.

I went to the receptionist who insisted on a cash payment. I was given a receipt from a copy book that could have been bought at any stationers.

Which all, of course fuelled my inner and my husband’s outer pessimists.

But within a couple of days my headache was gone.

Gone, I tell you. GONE.

And it stayed away for about two weeks.

Then I caught a bloody cold again.

But I have a free, follow up appointment in two days. And my MRI is now only just over a week away.

I’m feeling distinctly optimistic.

Vibration rotation anyone?



Sickness wreaks havoc

People often ask me how on earth I manage with four children. I tell them: it’s a little extra work, yes, like a lot of washing (think of mountain ranges like the Alps), and sometimes I have to make difficult choices, because there are times, when I get double booked into events, like two parent evenings occurring on the same day in different schools, which also happen to be miles apart, at the very same time. You might question what the odds are on that happening. I can tell you, they are apparently quite high. I can also tell you that I have quite active children, between them they regularly: sing in choirs, partake in drama class, do ninjutsu, climb, geocache, canoe, ballet dance, play keyboard, go to youth fire service, swim, cycle, play bass guitar and arch – play archery? Go arching? – Whatever! So, sometimes I find myself double-booked into two audiences at once or as a taxi-driver expected to drive in two opposing directions simultaneously.

When it comes to deciding which child to opt in favour of, my general rule of thumb is to select my favourite at that moment. That tends to be the one who has been the most helpful and/or has bribed me with the most sweets or cake.

Once I’ve worked out the logistics, I normally find most tasks doable, in a hectic kind of way. I try my best to be to organised and it comes together in a perfect picture of organised chaos. And so we toddle along. Until, that is, someone gets sick.

Sickness wreaks havoc…

It all started last week. With all of those children doing all of those activities and meeting all of those other children all of the time it is quite clear, that they are going to bring some germs home at some point or other. So no element of surprise there then. Just bad timing.

Aden came home with a cold and being the generous, sharing boy that he is, he donated some of his germs to Lori.

Now that left Lori in a fix. Normally, she would not bat her eye at a mere cold but I knew something was seriously wrong when our obsessed Ninja informed me that she didn’t feel fit enough for sword training. Then, that very night, she woke up with a high fever and a pair of very sore ears!

Poor timing indeed. The following day she was due at one of the final rehearsals of her much rehearsed school play.  The same play her older sister would also be playing in.

In order to realise the significance of this development, I probably need to give you some background information.

The play, “Momo”, is one they have been working on for about six months. Both daughters have several parts. One main character and and a a few minor roles.

It’s an adaptive, evolving piece. The kids explore their characters in depth and change the script constantly until it fits. They add in music, songs, and various theatrical effects and decide what props and costumes to use. They keep the essence of the story but they vamp it up, modernise it and make it their own.

During this time lines constantly change and minor roles are passed from person to person. Depending on who’s getting changed for the next scene and who’s currently on stage at the time.

So, although they have the script months in advance they don’t actually learn their lines until much later on.

Now let me put your mind at rest. Lori knew all of her lines last Thursday when she got sick. So to miss the rehearsal on Friday wasn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster either.

But Joni

Joni has been taking her ‘Abitur’ – her High School Diploma in the last few months and officially she left school about two weeks ago, but then she disappeared off to the Austrian border to do some work experience.

So, just to refresh, while others were getting sick and learning their lines Joni was galavanting around Europe discovering what it’s like to be a teacher taking kids off on a school camp. She had a whale of a time.

To be fair, she took her lines with her. But she was too busy having a whale of a time she didn’t have time to learn them.

I should perhaps point out something here, Joni is more of a ‘last-minute’ sort of person.

Where were we?

Ah, yes, so Lori was sick. In bed with a fever. Weak. Being force-fed vitamins, throat lozenges and very spicy home-made soup by her doting mother and Joni had returned and was back in the midst of rehearsals.

She decided the weekend would be a very good time to learn her lines and she also had Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday – during the day – because the play wouldn’t be on until Wednesday evening. (As in, this evening.)

But Saturday was Akasha’s day to shine. She’d been rehearsing her butt off too. Quite literally. She’d been dancing not only at her rehearsals but also in the living room, in the garden and well, just about anywhere there’s been space to dance in, if truth be told. I am her witness. I’ve been forced to be her constant audience for many a month now. I swear, if I didn’t have an arthritic knee, a dodgy hip and well, just a general lack of bendiness, I could actually do the dance alongside her. Without any rehearsals or anything.

So, Saturday was filled with rehearsals and hairdos and checking in on the sick one and then, finally, many beautiful ballet performances by many excited, but graceful children. One of the best moments was when one of the littlest dancers just stopped dancing, looked for her mum in the audience and gave her a big smile and a wave.

Joni used to dance too, so she found herself thoroughly involved in the day’s experiences.

To celebrate Akasha’s tear-rendering performance – I admit to being hopeless, I need to carry tissues en masse to every event – we took the two girls out for a celebratory dinner, which ended in Akasha having quite an entertaining sugar shock after being given a bit of meringue in her free ice cream. It was especially entertaining for the waitress. I don’t think she’d ever witnessed a child ‘drunk’ on sugar in her restaurant before, giggling hysterically and then yelling, “No, no, I  can’t take any more!!!!” when she brought the customary little shortbreads with the bill.  I attempted to hide behind a soggy tissue, with no avail.

Sunday arrived and Lori rose from her bed. But every time she walked, she stumbled. She felt really dizzy, but incredibly, believed that it would be a good idea to go to school and then rehearsals the following day. I can be quite an authoritative parent. I told her “No, not on your nelly!”

By the evening Joni seemed to be wearing a scarf. And a pullover. Even though it was about 28°C outside.

The following day, I made one child rest and sent two off to school and one ferreted around a bit and then left for her rehearsals. She told me she felt fine, but she appeared to have become attached to her scarf and her pullover.

Apparently, when she approached the teachers at the theatre, they became very alarmed. I do understand why. She did look rather peaky.

Tuesday, as in yesterday, I would like to say, came and went without much ado. However, the truth of the matter is: no day in this house ever comes and goes without some drama or other. We could be a reality TV show keeping the public thoroughly entertained.

So Tuesday arrived and the first issue of the day was that lovely little dancing Akasha was no longer dancing. Instead she was wheezing, rather emphatically. She’s asthmatic and we gave her her medicine. But she didn’t get any better at all.

No, actually that was the second issue of the day. The first issue was that the dog spewed. She tried to be considerate. She attempted to tidily regurgitate just on her cushion. But she was out of luck, some of it oozed off onto the floor.

Joni and Lori insisted on going to all day rehearsals, as in, ten hours of rehearsals. They were croaking like frogs and although Lori could walk in a straight line once again, Joni looked like she’d undergone some kind of surgery to become attached to that scarf and pullover. They insisted that they were fine. They have that ‘the show must go on’ attitude of true professionals.

My husband took Akasha to the doctor as I was starting to feel a wee bit under the weather and hadn’t slept too well. He returned with antihistamine – the doctor didn’t believe our littlest had a cold, instead he thought she was taking some kind of allergic asthma attack. We were thinking more along the lines of bronchitis and I’m still unconvinced.

Joni and Lori arrived home after their ten hour session. Lori lay on the sofa and went into a deep, deep sleep for over two hours. I tell you, we could have had a party in that room and she wouldn’t have noticed a thing.

Joni did not look too well at all.

We ate together. I added extra vegetables for nutrition and meat and fish. As well as eggs and bread.

I don’t think it was the most well-conceived plan I ever had.

A couple of hours later, Joni appeared, looking grey. Not because she’d finally removed her brightly coloured scarf. Her blood pressure had dropped, she had a fever and she ended up in the bathroom hugging the bowl for longer than would have been necessary, I am sure, had I not stuffed her with so much food.

Lori wrote to the dramatic drama students on her Whatsapp group “Shit, shit, shit, my sister’s being sick and sick and sick!” In the hours that followed, I believe there were a lot of frantic messages to-ing and fro-ing in the group which involved many swear words and exclamation marks.

I, for my part, just started force feeding the kid again. This time I fed her ‘good bacteria’ and electrolytes. I sent her to bed and expected her to, you know, lie down and sleep, after all that stomach wrenching.

I wandered into her room armed with a just-in-case-you-can’t-make-it-to-the-loo bowl and instructions for her Whatsapp-ing sister to wake me should she be sick again.

And I found her, sitting on her bed, learning her bloody script!!!

So, today’s the day. I got up extra early this morning. A whole hour earlier than I’d actually planned. That’s because Akasha woke me to tell be that she couldn’t get any air. I gave her her inhaler and took her into my bed with me, but she enlightened me, that there would be even less air in my room, because there were now three people in it.

She took her medicine. The doctor warned us that it would make her tired. That’s not proved to be the case. We’re almost in sugar shock Duracell bunny territory once again. She’s been being a mermaid (which did involve some under-the-table-with-legs-tied-together style maneuvers), she’s played her keyboard, read, sewn costumes for her dolls (she has some big teddy wedding event on the horizon, allegedly) all the while wheezing and coughing away.

Joni and Lori left for their final rehearsals, but only after I was sure their temperatures were normal and Joni had managed to retain a whole slice of toast and a couple of drinks. The Whatsapp group had been informed every step of the way.

I packed them up with tissues (supposedly there had been a nose dripping issue in one of the still scenes), an array of lozenges (luckily Joni is mainly playing an old man, so her new voice is quite appropriate, but she also plays a high pitched doll so we needed that avenue covered), a lot of water, peppermint tea and money so that they would be prepared for all eventualities, including, of course, shopping.

The moment of truth will soon be upon us.

Will Joni remember her lines? Will Akasha make it through the performance without being sick in the bucket, which she feels she might just now need to take with her? (She’s been looking forward to her sisters’ performance for many months and nothing, NOTHING is going to stop her being there!!) Will Aden record the show upside down like I did with Akasha’s ballet performance at the weekend? Will the audience notice nose drip? Will voices be lost? Will the high pitch doll sound like an old man, who smoked all his life? Will Lori repeat her coughing fit from this morning and spit mucus into a tissue?

The moment of truth is almost upon us.

I, like Akasha, can’t wait. Six whole months I’ve been excited about this production. And I know that if any two girls know how to pull it out of the bag through sheer determination and enviable spirit, it will be those two.

Besides, Joni only needed to turn up at her drama group today to receive a round of applause. She’s already on a roll.



Postponed post results in wonky weight of weird woman?

I could tell you that everything is running swimmingly at the moment. But I’d be lying to you.

I could tell you that beyond the odd hiccup or two, all is well in my world.

But I’d be leading you straight up, a very wonky, garden path.

I could tell you that my son’s voice is not breaking. That my house is bright, clean and sparkly. That my washroom does not have the nickname ‘The Alps’. I could even say that I didn’t just get lost trying to find the hall where my daughter is doing her ballet rehearsal for her show tomorrow night.

But I’d be telling porkies.

Instead, it would be truthful to say, that it was the very same hall she did a different show in last year. The very same hall I’ve walked past with the dog. The one that’s quite big and has a car park and is, once found, relatively easy to find.

I can also tell you that I had to ask a postman for directions and that he had no clue either. But to be fair, the post-people have only just returned after a lengthy strike. And it could well be that they hired some new post-people to catch up with the enormous mountain of mail that the people at the post office were talking about this morning. I was there. Picking up a parcel. Not sending anything. I’m still too afraid to. I have images in my head of my delayed birthday presents and my postponed get well soon cards being distinctly smaller and more loseable than a needle in a haystack.

I am particularly perturbed by the loseable image now. Seeing that the postman I met didn’t seem to know his dance halls.

I could tell you my bathroom scales are broken. After all, it’s what I told my husband until I suddenly discovered I could no longer fit in pretty much any of my summer clothes. Without forcing them and hearing tiny ripping sounds, that is. At first, I assumed the washing machine must be on the blink as there seemed to have been some shrinkage.

I could tell you that I didn’t just console myself with ice cream. And that I am not presently eyeing up a Wholenut.

Sorry, that I have not just eaten the said Wholenut.

But I’d be bare-faced lying.





The Tale of Two Breakfasts

You know how I recently told you all about my new, all-empowering catchphrase, “Dinner’s prepared itself”? You know how I ended up with flowers, and notebooks and my children were shocked into action by the sudden realisation, that all my dragging them as sous chefs into the kitchen means that they actually can cook. Well, if push comes to shove.

I know that you are probably suspecting that the novelty has lost its shine. That the giving has wavered. That it’s all just a distant memory. But you’d be wrong.

Although, I do put my hands up to keeping the now very deceased tulips in a vase on the unit as a little memento. Seriously, it was not a hint to the children that I am in constant need of being showered with affection. When we discussed it, I told them that I just thought that the tulips looked kind of interesting dead and I couldn’t bear to throw them away while I was still able to get such pleasure from them.

Yes, I am sad. But no, I do not have a morbid fascination with dead flowers.

I am not only celebrating past successes.

The giving keeps on coming.

I am telling you, I am on a roll.

My campaign has actually been so successful that my thinking now is, that I should copyright it and sit back making millions.

I’m not greedy or anything.

It just takes a lot of the paper stuff to produce ballet dancers and singers and artists and pianists and climbers and drama queens and ninjas.

It takes a fair bit of diesel too.

And some backbone.

Along with many reliable clocks dotted all around the house and in the car.

But before I bedazzle you with my fantastic organisational skills, let me continue with my story of how I guilt tripped cleverly nurtured my children into running after me becoming upstanding individuals.

I have a little habit of surprising people of both the small and the large variety, every once in a while, with breakfast on a plastic tray. Otherwise known as breakfast in bed.

It is not quite as altruistic as it sounds. I no doubt gain more pleasure from their happy big and little faces than they can possibly do from a few soggy cornflakes. Besides, three of my four children are now in puberty. Which means suddenly, I am generally the first to rise and shine of a morning. And quite frankly, I often find myself feeling bored as I have no one to play with.

Now, as my story continues, please don’t think that no one has ever made me breakfast in bed. Breakfast has been served to me in my boudoir on a few occasions. Mainly those occasions tend to coincide with Mother’s Day or my birthday. Though never Christmas. I am regularly the one begging the children to wake up at Christmas.

On one of those precious tray days, I clearly remember being mightily impressed by Joni as she carried in, what looked to me, like a perfectly fried egg on a piece of toast. I then noticed little flakes all over the egg. I hadn’t yet rubbed my eyes enough so I assumed the flakes were pepper. Being afraid I would never get breakfast in bed again a good mother I didn’t mention that I can’t stand pepper and I bit, completely uncautiously, into her offerings.

I chewed and I swallowed and I dug deep and faked a smile. Then I asked what those interesting little flakes were.

Proud as punch she answered, “Dried oregano”

Quickly followed by; “Do you like it?”

Now, for those of you who have not yet tried fried egg on toast with a heavy sprinkling of oregano, take advice from one who knows: DON’T.

I admit it. The whole thing must have been my own fault. She saw me constantly adapting recipes and changing ingredients to suit myself.

So I felt it was my duty at the time, as one of those experimental mother types, to say, “Oh, well done darling for trying out new ideas. It’s lovely!”

I’d hoped she would scuttle off to stuff her face with her own breakfast, and I could, you know, dispose of the evidence, but instead she insisted on watching me force down every last morsel before she left the room triumphantly.

Now if I’m honest, I was quite chuffed with myself for lying to her so convincingly. But you know what they say about pride coming before a fall…

A few weeks later (when it wasn’t even Mothering Sunday or my birthday) she excitedly entered the room with a tray full of, you guessed it: toast, egg and oregano.

If my memory serves me correctly, I think she’d added a few other dried green herbs as well. I think I’ve been forced to block out which ones due to something called Post Traumatic Taste Disorder.

For the life of me, I couldn’t raise a fake smile. I did manage to eat it. And I did manage to retain it. Which really was an achievement. And I also broke the news that that experiment did not work out quite so well as she’d probably hoped.

Luckily for me she still seemed to like me, but reverted to an only-on-special-occasions tray delivery service. I’d burst the poor girl’s bubble.

So you can imagine my surprise when last weekend I heard a strange bump at my bedroom door. Bleary eyed I tried to make some sense of what was going on. I smacked around my bedside table and discovered my glasses, shoved them on my face only to reveal a dressing-gowned blond-haired beauty standing at the foot of my bed. Armed with a smile and a green plastic tray.

I wrestled the quilt off my body and propped myself up with my pillow and I grinned.

Cornflakes (unsoggy, with sugar in an accompanying bowl and a small jug of milk), fruit juice and a nice cup of tea.

Had I not  been propped up by my pillow and restrained by my quilt, I would have for sure been bowled right over.

Joni sat on the edge of the bed and watched me eat.

I realised that my husband must have also risen and shone before me, but she hadn’t seen him she informed me. So we guessed he must have been in the bathroom.

I was in the middle of my tea when, lo and behold, the door opened again and in strode my man with an espresso.

He saw the tray and the cup in my hand and he boomed that big booming laugh of his.

Now, I like a bit of caffeine. Really I do. But even for me (I’m the one who once realised I’d drunk about seven espressos in just a few hours) a tea and an espresso at the same time before I’ve even managed to surface, is quite a lot.

As you can imagine, with it being first thing in the morning and having drunk all of those liquids (I’m polite and I don’t like to waste stuff, so I’d also emptied the contents of the milk jug into my bladder), I really needed to pee. When, once again I heard some kind of kerfuffle against the bedroom door.

Joni and I looked at each other curiously. Then the door burst open and in walked little eight year old Akasha with  a tray!!!!! I mean, what are the odds of that happening??????

She looked at me, at Joni, at the espresso cup in my hand and at the tray of empties on the bed and shock radiated across her face.

I looked at her tray. It held a bowl of Frosties with plenty of milk, a glass of water and an espresso.

Joni and I started to laugh hysterically which really was quite strenuous for my overfilled bladder.

Akasha started to cry. Also hysterically.

She frustratedly blamed Joni, “That’s where the sugar was! That’s where the milk jug was!”

She wanted to be the one who had thought of mummy and was really quite ticked off that two people had had the audacity to get there before her.

All I could do was to attempt to stop laughing, ignore my bladder and force down more liquids, caffeine and sugar.

Oh and twitch slightly and feel rather nauseous.

You may think that that’s the end of the story. It isn’t.

Come to think of it, you may think that I wet the bed. I didn’t. Apparently, I have a very expandable bladder.

That was last week. Yesterday Akasha entered my room determined to be the ‘first person to think of mummy’, so she woke me up a whole hour before my alarm was set to ring bearing gifts of: Frosties and espressos. One apparently for daddy, who she’d also thought of (but who had no alarm clock set at all). She also pointed out that she had brought me the sugar bowl and the milk jug.

You thought that was the end end of the story?

No, no, no, no!

I have four children. And when you have four children they tend to be really quite competitive.

This morning I awoke to the sound of shattering and shrieking.

Despite my low blood pressure rule of ‘first sit up, stay like that for a minute, then slowly get out of bed’ I shot out of bed, yelling, “I’m coming!!”

In my race downstairs I imagined a scalded child, broken crockery, four scolded children, blood and a fire. Probably because the shrieking was rather continuous and insistent.

I threw the living room door open and then saw the kitchen.

Broken glass littered the floor and my ADHD/autistic son who had not yet taken his tablets was balancing on one foot, meanwhile his barefoot little sister attempted to calm him down, whilst holding up his injured leg, and persuading the dog (who desperately wanted to lick the wailing one better) to “stay out of the kitchen!”

Luckily, my son was only very lightly injured. His distress was more about the broken jam jar and the glass that he’d broken right before that.

Not knowing that, I pulled all my muscles together and carried my fourteen year old boy out of the kitchen. That makes me sound  a lot stronger than I am. He’s very thin and doesn’t weigh much. Besides, it’s not far from the kitchen to the chair that I slumped him on to.

More impressive actually, is that I managed not to stand on any broken glass with my bare feet because it was everywhere and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a right klutz.

I cleaned up some of the glass so I could get to the plasters. Then wrestled the dog away from my son’s bloody leg.

The poor dog was quite traumatised that she wasn’t allowed to be of assistance: licking up blood and tears.

Aden bawled about the hot chocolate he’d been making me as a surprise for breakfast and asked if it would have to be thrown away because it might have glass in it.

I glanced around and there were our two only trays. Already laid with bowls of Frosties and spoons. A generous two litre Tupperware jug was filled with milk ready to be carried up so we could decide for ourselves just how much we’d like on our cereal.

I poured away the hot chocolates as the boy child whimpered. I handed him the dog. I’m not sure which one of them was more pleased. I hoovered up any last remnants of glass and then went and sat on my bed and breathed.

The door opened and in clattered Akasha and Aden with the two trays and the enormous jug.

Reini and I ate our cereal and  a few minutes later I nipped to the loo.

I looked up as the door was pushed open. Lori stood there unaware, grinning, arms outstretched presenting a plate filled with toast, cheese and a stunning looking fried egg.

Luckily for me there was no oregano on it!






Numptyness and Ninjas


My little one wrote this. Actually she’s not so little anymore, she’s taller than me!

Originally posted on Nerd's Tea and Coffee Nook:

I recently discovered my old diary whilst tidying my room. Needless to say I didn’t get too much more tidying done after that…

Anyway, after skimming through it, I realized that while my love for writing was no recently discovered thing, I used to be rather… well, pretty damn terrible at it! Instead of deciding to share my innermost thoughts and philosophies or even the secret to the meaning of life, I simply seem to have documented random facts with little more significance than what colour our toilet wallpaper was. In fact, when reading the former entries, one gets the impression that one is reading something with about as much emotional worth as a scientific protocol.

Maybe I thought that if I bumbled along and wrote down enough random facts something of value might slip out along the way?

Anyhow, even though I only just staggered out of bed not…

View original 178 more words

Revolutionary mother-lucker

I think that I have stumbled upon a miracle.

In fact, I know I have.

A miracle parenting key.

I am so excited.

It’s revolutionary. It happened like this:

The New Year had come and gone. As it does. With its fireworks and its clouded sky; that no matter how much you squinted your eyes towards or how often you staggered backwards and forwards, forwards and backwards, or even sidey ways; you couldn’t see those damned far-reaching rockets in. The bottles had clinked their last whole clink into the recycling bank and complete meals had been ungratefully by some, regurgitated into the once-white water closet.

I stood in the kitchen. Alone. Bleary-eyed. Waiting for the notifying beep of the oven. Ready to drag out, another, exhaustedly yet still, lovingly cooked meal.

The table wasn’t laid.

Drinks were not prepared.

Despite mouth-watering smells meandering the halls.

The beep beeped its rapturous beep. But no feet thumped heavily on the stairs.

I sighed.

And then…

I had an epiphany.

I shouted, loud and clear, “The dinner has made itself!”

Doors miraculously opened. Steps thundered. But as they entered the room, eyes widened curiously.

Suddenly, the table was laid and we all sat down and ate dinner.

The following day, I stood in the kitchen. Alone. Bleary-eyed. I jabbed at vegetables in a pan.

“Dinner has made itself!” I yelled. Perhaps, I admit, slightly less graciously than the day before.

This time, the race on the stairs seemed somewhat slower, and those eyes that met mine were somewhat less curious, and somewhat more sceptical.

Mum!” I heard a slightly indignant voice say.

I asked, calmly and rather sweetly, “Should the dinner eat itself too?”

The table suddenly found itself laid. And after dinner, the  dirty dishes were magically gone.

I continued with my new catchphrase throughout the week in varying circumstances. I occasionally saw the odd eye roll and I smiled, sweetly, of course. As is my nature.

Then, last week, I got sick. Yet again. The dog was the first to notice. She kept standing on two feet instead of four and peering at me intently. She wouldn’t leave my side.

If I’m honest, my pooch did manage to freak me out slightly with her intense bobbing in my face.

Though, I could also lay fault on my fever. My husband said to me the next day, that I kept complaining, “Everything was too 3D!”

Apparently, I’m quite entertaining with a fever!

Anyway, the following day, I didn’t just have a fever, but also a very unhappy stomach and the first sparks of a sinus headache.

I won’t lie. I did feel a little bit sorry for myself.

There was none of that ‘stand up and soldier on’ routine. Because, if I stood up, I was in serious danger of falling right back down again.

So I lolled around. Arguing with the telly. Or sat on the loo, with a bowl in my lap as a precaution.

The dog left my side at that point. She lay sullenly in the hall, trying to cover her nose with her ears.

Children brought me water. Children brought me peppermint tea. One child made me a delicious lunch. Which I very ungraciously, quite soon after, dumped again. But I swear, it was so tasty I really, really, really did not want to let go of it…

My husband returned home early and gave me much needed pain relief in the form of a hot water bottle. Unfortunately for him though, there was no more in-house entertainment of the 3D variety, despite his valiant efforts of keeping me warm and cosy.

The whole weekend the dinner didn’t make itself. Reini cooked on Saturday and on Sunday Aden slipped on his dashing new pinny and rustled up a jolly lovely cottage pie.

I ate and I retained it.

It was a proud moment for both of us.

On the Monday, I discovered the washing had indeed been washing itself. There were nicely folded towels in the bathroom and clean underwear on my shelf. Which all things considered, was more than an added bonus.

Akasha returned home from school and despite being only eight years old, insisted on making lunch.

Aden arrived home with a bunch of flowers. Then Akasha went shopping with her daddy. She’s not one to miss out on some competition: she returned with flourishing tulips.

Dinner appeared on the table thanks to my man. Who’d already done a full days work, been shopping and forked out for blooms.

I “oohed” and I “aahed” a lot and I do admit, the odd tear did attempt to escape.

On Tuesday, I thought, things will be back to normal, but a present arrived in the post.

From my man.

And Joni cooked her very first, and coincidently, very tasty, roast dinner. True, we didn’t eat until half past nine but it was delicious.

As dessert my husband informed me that several parcels would be arriving in his name and that they were all for me and I was allowed to open each one of them as they arrived.

A little tear did escape at that moment.

True to his word, one parcel after another has arrived. Generally, they’re Eastern ingredients for a cake he’s keen for me to attempt to bake for him to try. It’s very exciting.

Today another little parcel arrived. It’s a lovely yellow notebook.

I am thankful for many things.

I am thankful for chicken dinners and freshly washed washing, that I didn’t have to freeze my butt off in the washroom doing.

I am thankful for flowers and email.

Akasha finally has email and keeps emailing me words such as: “I love you so much more than enything [anything] in the world mum” and “I like your haere [hair] you look very nice you are looking beautiful today I hope you have a lovely day” (actually, this seems to be a running theme: “Hi mum you look beautiful today and all the time you awis [always] look beautiful” or “Hi mom you are looking beautiful today I hope you are having a good time a proper good time”) and “Hi mum it is my pleger [pleasure] to help you”.

Though to be honest I’m still pretty sceptical about this one: “mum i’m really love you very much if you knew who much i love you eerie indiana knew how much i love you properly love you important thing to me i love you very much more than anything”. One could think her English is getting worse, but I err on the side of optimism, I’m pleased that she finally spelt ‘anything’ correctly.

I am thankful for sugar and spice and puppy dog tails.

But above all: I am well and truly thankful that there’s one less month ’til Christmas, because, to be frank: I’m getting used to this.

Page Three Prankster

So yesterday, I managed to pull the wool over my second eldest’s  eyes. I should probably say at this point, that she’s now the tender age of sixteen.

My lovely Lori. My naive Lori.

I’d been reading the news as she entered the room. And I just so happened to have the article sitting in the perfect position for my little joke.

This, intriguing picture of Green MP Caroline Lucas sat right bang in the middle of my screen.

Caroline Lucas

I explained to Lori, “That’s Caroline Lucas from the Green Party. She’s been campaigning for the removal of all page three’s from all books and magazines in the UK.”

She looked at me incredulously. “What? But why?”

So I continued, “She finds page three’s offensive, apparently.”

“But what about the other pages. What about page four?”

“No.” I answered, somehow keeping a straight face (which is a miracle for me). “She finds all the other pages fine.”

“Page two could be a problem, if it’s on the other side of three though.” I added in a sympathetic tone.

“But that’s just ridiculous…” she cried, tired eyes opening wider and wider.

I interrupted, “She’s got quite a lot of support, apparently. Mumsnet. Breast Cancer UK and the Guide Association have all publicly agreed with her. They were quoted as calling it “disrespectful and embarrassing.” I indicated the appropriate words in the article to prove my point.

For once in her life, Lori appeared not to know what to say.

Again, I pointed to the article, this time directly at the picture, “Look! She even had t-shirts printed!”


Bless. Isn’t it lovely to be so young and innocent?

Don’t worry. I did tell her the truth. I started to laugh,  so I had to. Here’s the actual article on the BBC website: How Page Three fell out of step with the times.

Quest for humour in my existence


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