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


sarsm:

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.

It’s Christmas! Ching ching!!


Yesterday, we found ourselves surrounded by German shoppers. Not surprising really, since we live in Germany.

Though despite having lived here for, what? 12 years? I still find shopping with the Germans, as opposed to with the British, a truly shocking experience. They shop, but at most, they only ever seem to carry one bag. And most of them don’t have any bag at all other than their handbag.

You could be lulled into the belief that those bustling High Streets and shopping centres are filled with many browsers who use the shops to find their purchase, but then take out their smart phones or go home to their laptops and search out the very best deal for the exact same product online.

But those High Street stores are clearly thriving. So my true belief is that everyone here (except for me, of course) has a Mary Poppins Bag or perhaps even a Mary Poppins Pocket.

But yesterday, we weren’t Hight Street shopping, we were food shopping, in our local supermarket.

All our fellow shoppers stood there, with their little shopping baskets two days before Christmas. Easily convincing anyone that every checkout could support the sign ‘Express Checkout: 12 items or less’ (but does not, because of course, that checkout is just not necessary here).

Simultaneously we stood there, smilingly queueing with our two precariously balanced shopping trolleys.

We caused quite a commotion. Two boys behind us watched our mounting food bill on the electronic display. Passing the 100 Euro figure caused them to release some, quite loud, exclamations. Then as we approached the 200 Euro total, their gasps and gulps flourished.

Excitement reached an almost hysterical level as we neared the 300 mark (sorry, I mean Euro). Squeals of “Will it make the 300?” along with bulging eyes and anticipating jumps reminded me of a dedicated gambler longing to see his horse win the race and I smiled. Because I knew we’d hit 300. Just.

The air was so electrical, I half expected a bouncy store manager to run out, bearing bouquets, bubbly and other extravagant gifts. Overflowing with kisses and hugs and handshakes and thanks for being the store’s best ever shoppers.

But there was no music. No fizz. And no rigorous handshake.

Though we did see the manager briefly. We questioned him as to why we couldn’t use the 110 Euros worth of vouchers we’d been collecting all year. Apparently we could only use a maximum of a 20 Euro voucher at a time. Which does make sense. Express checkout mentality considered.

I know. Over 300 Euros on food. But in my defence we are six people. It is Christmas. The shops are closed for two and a half days and then again on Sunday. I like to cook. A lot. The children like to eat. A lot. And at the end of the day, despite having lived here for a quarter of my life, I am British. I know exactly how to panic buy.

Wishing all of my fellow bloggers, my friends and everyone who has a Mary Poppins Bag a truly wonderful Christmas.

 

The undeserved distress of being a hairy damsel


I just brushed my teeth and my hair, not with the same brush, of course, with completely different brushes, as you do, before you go to bed.

I had a little mishap. Well, a couple of little mishaps, if I’m honest. First, I placed the capsule inside my inhaler (which I have to take right before brushing my teeth, making it thus a part of this story) and as I put it in my mouth to suck on it, I simultaneously, accidentally twisted it and whacked my tooth. Not my already so-often-bashed-tooth-that-it-is-now-a-somewhat-yellow-tooth, I hasten to add, no, it was a completely, undamaged, sparkly white one. I oohed and I aahed somewhat. OK, that is a downright  lie. I cursed and I blasphemed somewhat. Then I brushed my tingling teeth (pain spreads, you know) and then turned to my other brush. My hairbrush.

Now, I should perhaps mention at this point that I was naked. For reason unknown to any man, child or woman. And that included me. It wasn’t that I was expecting any late night hanky panky or anything. I can assure you of that. Because the man of the house had already hit the sack and was snoring blissfully and boomingly. I was ever so slightly ticked off about that, actually. After all, he’d just sent me, moments before, out into the street to put the bucket out for tomorrow’s bin men. And all I’d been wearing was a towelling robe. I’d thrown open the door and had a slight panic attack for a moment, then embraced the cold air and ran out into the dark night tugging on a dustbin. I’d been nostalgically reminded of those luxurious winter moments at the local sauna; leaving the heated cabin and entering the cold winter air wearing nowt but but a pretty robe. Except that I wasn’t sweating but I was dragging a wheelie bin. And my spa experience had been for free.

I’d returned the short distance from the curb to my home like a cross between a clearly amateur ballet dancer and a scrutinising spy, looking for potential serial killers or an unsuspecting, about-to-become-disturbed neighbour.

So I stood, naked, in front of the mirror, and lifted the brush to address the issue of a great big clumpy knot that had inconveniently appeared in my long, russet hair.  I started to tear the hard, wooden brush down through those mischievous strands.

I brushed firmly downwards and then I felt it.

I’d brushed my nipple.

Now, it wasn’t up there with the torture I had put myself through that day I accidentally whisked my nipple. I am still reeling from that experience. I still shudder every time I pick up an electric whisk with my right hand. I shudder but I soldier on. I like to bake. Mainly because I like to eat cake.

But I do suspect naked hair brushing may have gone out of the window. At least, until I have dramatically cut my hair.

But the whole episode made me think. We, damsels, with very long hair, must go through many disturbing experiences that those with short hair absolutely cannot.

Like:

  • Brushing our nipple(s?)
  • Accidentally ‘dropping it’ on a candle flame and igniting it.
  • Our hairdresser insisting that we need to urgently go to the doctor as we’re losing far, far too much hair and then the doctor doing hair removal tests a.k.a. pulling hair from our heads with their bare hands and then telling us “No, your hair’s just long and looks like a lot in the hairdresser’s sink,  but I have to really pull it to get it out, it doesn’t come out at all easily.” At which point we are mouthing the words, “I know!” and wincing back the tears.
  • Accidentally dropping it in our dinner.
  • Finding dried out egg yolk in it.
  • Accidentally dropping it in someone else’s dinner.
  • Getting it stuck under our partner’s or our own body part, yelping, and then having to make a little pause, alter position and refocus during sex.
  • Having a shower before bed, then getting up in the morning to discover that it’s still wet and it’s -10°C outside! As we drop the kids off at school we can feel little ice crystals forming…
  • Getting bored while using a hairdryer thus wandering off to do something else (which, of course, leads on to the point above).
  • Accidentally getting it stuck under a stranger’s shoulder on the bus and going through that embarrassing moment of explaining to them that that comfy cushion they’re enjoying leaning on, is actually our hair.
  • And then, there’s the classic: having it completely blindfold us on a windy day, causing us a near death experience like walking in front of a car or under a ladder.

But the very best, OK, worst long hair experience I know to date is the one of my own daughter, Joni. As you may have gathered it was all my fault and as soon as I can muster up the strength to talk about it, I will let you know. Every. Single. Detail.

Four reasons to be a fully proud Mum


Some days I feel kind of sad.

It hurts me that other children laugh at my children. At their mispronunciation. At her dyslexia. That they mistake their quietness for weakness and use it to knock down their confidence and reduce their self-esteem.

I feel tearful when I think of a whole family that has rejected them and I wonder if, I alone, representing my side am actually enough.

My heart weighs heavy in my chest as I watch him struggle through one overwhelming situation after another and as I watch her drag her exhausted body out of bed and into another difficult day.

Life can be so tough.

◊◊◊

Some days I feel screamingly angry.

Why do we collect illnesses and disorders like others collect fine art, postage stamps or old coins?

Why is so much expected of us, even though it’s clear that we cannot deliver?

Why do we always have to wait so long, in waiting rooms, for diagnoses, and for support?

Why oh why can’t I be: stronger, fitter, less tired, more patient, more flexible, calmer, more at peace, more confident, better at German, tidier, less stubborn, more stubborn, more understanding and less angry?

Why, sometimes, could I just not give a damn?

Life can be a fucking challenge.

◊◊◊

Other days, like today, I feel heart-swellingly proud.

You see, today is the last school day and today each one of my four children brought home their report card and looked at me with eyes filled with anticipation.

The autistic/ADHD/OCD one, (that’s the one that yesterday, had a meltdown at his sister’s school festival – because there was too much noise and too many people – and, the day before, had a meltdown – because I went to town and I only got home as the storm was starting, thus I might have been injured – and on Saturday, took a meltdown in the wine shop – because it could be that he would knock over a glass bottle and break it and also because there was just far too much glass all around) waved at me not only a card but also a certificate. The certificate clearly certifies that this, named young man, the one with all those difficulties, achieved the highest grades in the whole class.

We drove together to pick up his little sister. Him beaming and waving his award under my nose, me congratulating and attempting to look for endangering traffic.

The little one has just completed first grade. It’s not been the easiest year. She can’t understand her brother’s meltdowns. And there are times when having two impulsive ADHD siblings is a somewhat hair-raising adventure.
Being bullied by a couple of girls from her class hasn’t helped matters at all. Plus despite her making me espressos on a regular basis, the sensitive little soul notices that I am still tired.
To top it all she added asthma to her medical records. And like us all, lived through a recent family member’s suicide.

That little one, won’t be graded until next year, but her report rang in songs of praise. Praise in English. Praise in Maths. Praise in Music, in Sport, in politeness, in orderliness (which must be mentioned because it is an absolute first on any report card ever crossing this threshold) and in general behaviour; the only real criticism was her being a little shy.

Hallelujah! Praise the (fast growing) number four!

Now. I’ll be honest and tell you, the other two weren’t the best reports I’ve ever seen. But I expected that.

And I was still proud.

Because my eldest daughter, she’s still at school, but she’s 19. And she’s got one further year to go. It’s a different system, you see. She’s restless and yes, in this coming final year, she needs to buckle down. But she knows that. And I can see just how capable she is. She sings stunningly, in her school choir, at all the concerts, at events, even in old people’s homes and a few weeks ago she stood up and sang at that family funeral to comfort all of us. All alone. Just her and her voice. No music. Nothing. She was nervous, but she did it and I cried a pocketful of proud tears.
She’s in the school drama group and a few weeks ago she performed her socks off for her audience. Which, naturally, included me. And she has two jobs. You read correctly. Two jobs. I know a few high school kids who have one job. But if I’m honest, not many. But my biggest little girl reliably works two.

Actually, she’s not my biggest little girl. She’s my eldest little girl. The biggest is my second eldest… It might be a genetic thing. My second toe is longer than my ‘big’ toe. Perhaps it has something to do with that…

So my tallest child looked somewhat forlorn as she handed me her report card. She’s the one who’s a perfectionist but also has really bad dyslexia, and ADHD, with a hefty dose of depression thrown in.

Her year has been spent trying to find rays of sunshine on mainly overcast and rainy days.

I am incredibly proud of her because I know that she has torn herself out of bed each and every day. That, despite feeling lost and lonely, she entered her classroom and gave all that she could give at that time. I am ferociously proud because she relentlessly climbed on a bus and trudged through therapy every single week.

And I’m impressed because on top of all that she continued as a school first aider and voluntary fire-girl (along with her brother, though obviously, he’s a fire-boy) and she learned lines and acted her socks off with her sister in the aforementioned school play.

I’m in awe that she not only managed to pass every single subject, but in some she even managed to get good grades.

To each and every one of my children:

I can see you
I can hear you
I love you
And you make me so proud!
Thank you!

Life can be bloody emotional!

 

 

 

 

 

Butterdragon


sarsm:

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:

Originally posted on Nerd's Tea and Coffee Nook:

This is my newest creation and also the first picture that I manged to watermark with a lot a little help from King.

scan0037

Thanks King!

View original

10 years of sun, no sea and not much going to plan…


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.

Quest for humour in my existence

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