Category Archives: Observations

My blog is 2!!!!


Today is a very special day for me.

As you are reading this, I’m sipping fizzy wine and eating nibbles and gorging on chocolate and telling my husband he has to be the one to collect the kids today, as I’m the designated drinker, and that means he can’t actually join in the celebrations properly until they’re all safely home. Well, as I’m a particularly nice person I may let him sniff a little corner of my chocolate…

Today is my second blogoversary. The blog that I obsess over is two whole years old!! Two years ago today, I took the plunge, I dived into an adventure that I have never for a moment since regretted.

I’m feeling rather merry and I don’t mind telling you, I love my blog. I love writing. And I love reading all of your comments.

I wouldn’t be drinking this lovely glass of white here, if it wasn’t for you.

So, I’d like to take a moment, raise a glass and say cheers.

Cheers for all the lovely comments.

Sláinte for your continued reading.

Zum Wohl for signing up en masse.

Hiccup.

Santé, you know I love you, right?

Proost. Where was I?

Ah, yes. Chin chin. :cool:

And that’s not all. I’m also celebrating something else.

To be continued…

(… after some coffee).

Your top pick


I’ve given you a ‘reveal all’ (interesting search terms that led to my blog). Today I thought I’d give you a chance to read or even re-read the posts which seem to be the keen favourites over the past almost year, as voted for by you, the public. (Yes, Dermot O’Leary’s voice is floating around in my head at the moment).

The 5 you clicked on most:

The two poems you rated most highly were:

The discussions you most took part in were:

Stories you seemed to be partial to included:

If I missed your favourite, be sure to let me know!

Reveal All


Sarsm’s Blog has been around for almost a year now. My “Quest for humour in my existence” has been so satisfying that I have decided to march forth and continue, hopefully onwards and upwards.

25.03.2011 is my first blog birthday. It’s exciting. Dramatic. I am thinking of purchasing some prosecco. Just for the hell of it. Feel free to join me in raising a glass. The 25th, is luckily for us, not a school night. Phew!

Before the ‘big day’ though, I thought I’d take a look back over the year.

Inspired by some of my peers and quite honestly surprised (and naturally delighted) by some of the searches that found me, I thought I’d start off by doing ‘a reveal’.

Search terms, relevant and otherwise:

  • http://www.sarsm.wordpress.com (fair enough)
  • sarah papa bear blog (OK)
  • sarsm radio (hmm??)
  • hot six (ah that poem)
  • hot hot six
  • hot hot hot six (popular search, dear people, I suspect also a popular typo)
  • hot six for 17 years (so long?)
  • hot six love
  • hot six family (???)
  • santa came to night
  • gym humor blog (aw shucks)
  • gymslips blogspot
  • my muscle men
  • blog very muscled men (think this visitor may have been rather disappointed)
  • dear somebody
  • “partied out”
  • “e numbers”
  • funny christmas party poems and stories
  • funny christmas poems chick lit
  • professional invitation for discussion (nice!)
  • reason for my existence no children 8O
  • embarrass yourself bladder
  • “running water” pee
  • escalator on trolley prohibited (???)
  • greeting card “misread signs”
  • wake up sleepy head love poems my love
  • funny poem about breakfast (I ate a lot of breakfasts, but did I write about them?)

And it would seem my blog is a source of expertise, medical and otherwise:

  • adhd parenting blogs
  • my adhd son
  • is ritalin a strong medicine?
  • ritalin and parents
  • ritalin hitting head
  • ritalin tics
  • crinkled toes
  • how to embarrass yourself for school (what?)
  • muscle men 2011 :-D
  • autism teachers blog
  • new oven blog cooking
  • ultimate question

And don’t forget on the theme of my expertise:

  • hot six for 17 years

But my favourite poor, misled, searcher requested:

  • making hand torn envelopes blog

I hope my Reveal All post shows that my quest has thrown up some unexpected opportunities for humour in my existence.

Thank you!!

Tweeting for God


It strikes me that watching the images of the earthquake in Japan and the following tsunami affecting people all over the pacific region, that I feel helpless.

Twitter is full of well-wishing tweets and prayers. And I would truly and genuinely add my prayers if I believed they would in any way help. But in all honesty, I don’t.

If I actually believed in a God that could intervene in the control of these natural disasters, then at this moment in time, I would be facing the question, why did he/she let it happen at all?

Now I’ve heard many an argument from religious people saying that disasters and catastrophes are brought on by us humans. That God has no control. Or will not intervene. So then, what’s the point in praying to him/her?

I am baffled by religion. Very little makes sense to me. But at the same time I would love to have belief. A belief in a safe passage for my children, my husband, myself and of course, all of the other people that I love.

And I would love to beg or pray for help for the Japanese. For those in New Zealand. For the people of Libya (I know the situation there is not a natural disaster, but I would pray for interference anyway).

And for that help to actually arrive.

Sitting here on the safety of my sofa, I feel useless. I feel sad. It seems to me that we are empowered with endless streams of information. But all we can actually do is read it. Listen to it. And feel it.

To the rest of the world,

Please know that when we watch your plights unfold on television or read your troubles in the news, we feel concern. When we look through our twitter feed we are pleased to learn that someone someone else knows, is safe.

I know it’s not just me. Or there would not be such generosity for comic relief,  and Sir Bob would have remained just ‘Bob’. And the hash tag of today would not have read #prayforjapan.

Many of us look on in our own private horror and disbelief and wish you well.

And it seems for the moment, that is all we can do. Sorry.

That and throw a few coins in a collection tin when it arrives.

Thinking of you,

Sarah

Feel free to sign, if you want to, in the comments below.

Update you can donate here:

http://www.shelterbox.org/

What then, keeps you up at night?


WordPress asked me:

What keeps you up at night?

And I, of course, thought of something rude.

I don’t know why that is. I mean, I’m not a teenager anymore. Rather an almost forty-year-old woman.

But I still manage to misread signs wherever I go, and not because I’m dyslexic. Although, two of my children are. They have inherited that from their father and not from me.

I know I’m not dyslexic because my misreading always shows me to be a fantasist. Or immature. Take your pick. Like I notice the swear words in wrongly broken down syllables or the other day, I read on my site the number 5 from my stats, then the word million from a post title and lobbed them together with the word views (at least also from stats) and, of course, gave myself a near heart attack from the sheer excitement of the moment.

5 million views.

See. Fantasist.

Not only because my highest hitting post so far has only 106 hits. But the million part would also be in numerical form, wouldn’t it?

What keeps me up at night (and in this context I mean actually being up, as in not having gone to bed) is the fact that my mind ping pongs awake the moment all the children are, finally, off to sleep.

And once I’m in bed, I’m kept awake both by the not-so-gentle snores of my husband and the ramblings of my incessant mind.

My favourite word


WordPress posted today:

What is your favorite word? Why?

My favourite word? Well, actually can I have two words? Does that count as a phrase?

Oh. It’s my blog. Of course I can.

“Yes, Mummy.”

That’s my answer.

Why? It’s music to my ears. Not because, someone finally agrees with me. Eventually realizes that I’m right. No. It’s because someone’s (at last) given in, and is agreeing to do what I say.

Phew. About time.

But for goodness sake, you don’t need to look so miserable about it.

Newsflash!!!


I thought I’d take a moment to inform you. I am a trend-setter. It’s official. In town, putting the final touches to my Christmas shopping, I counted not one, no, not even two, but actually five (yes FIVE) people, also transporting their provisions in a shopping trolley.

OK, I think they were all over 50 and unexpectedly, to me anyway, two of them were men. But no longer am I alone in my wandering of the streets with a trolley.

And none of them were tartan…

So, ladies and gents, if you’re looking for a fabulous last-minute Christmas present idea: a shopping trolley could be the way to go!

For further inspiration: me and my shopping trolley

Wow. I’ve never been a trend-setter before ;-).

Wishing you all a very merry and rejuvenating Christmas!!!

A little bit of me


2009 (yes, not 2010, I’m going right back in time now) felt like a very demanding year to us. The stresses and strains of my knee op, subsequent life on crutches, Akasha’s two finger operations and learning that she’d had (tested after removal) pre-cancerous cells aged (shockingly) only three years old, tugged on our heart-strings.

Aged nine, Aden finally (after an enormous wait) saw a specialist and received his ADHD diagnosis. Effective treatment however took, looking back, a ridiculous amount of time, until mid 2010, to be exact.

Meanwhile 2009 saw Aden’s symptoms spiral out of all control. He continually hurt himself with his impulsive behaviour. We had more than a natural amount of trips to the hospital. When the staff start to recognise you, and offer you a loyalty card, you know you’ve fallen into the above statistical average category.

Homework was a disaster. School an intolerable nightmare. Frustrated by bullying, Aden became extremely aggressive and hurt some kids, pretty badly, while at school one day.

After bobbing about in a puddle of my own tears for a while, my husband and I decided: enough is enough. And with the help of a doctors line, we took him out of school for a couple of weeks. We refused all offers of homework and instead spent our time knocking seven bells out of a punch-bag, talking, reading together, providing massages, and doing little projects to build up his self-confidence again, which at that point, was at an all time low.

Many cuddles and tears later, Aden returned to school, a much calmer boy. But truthfully? I was exhausted. Outwardly, I tried to portray a strong, capable exterior, but inwardly I felt like a jelly that not only wobbled, but had started to melt too.

It’s hard work being a mum. And having four children, of course, means four times the work. Four times the washing. Four times the cleaning. Four times the cooking. Four times the taxiing. On the other hand it also means four times the present giving. Four times the concert watching. Four times the laughter. Four times the love.

I’m not opposed to a bit of hard work, besides that, I’m lucky enough to have four helpers ;-).

But the problem for me is: when things go wrong. And 2009 was a year when a lot of things went wrong.

So, after some discussion, hubby and I decided we’d celebrate the demise of 2009, and welcome heartily the entrance of 2010.

That’s right. We threw a BIG party.

What I wanted from that party, I can now see, to be unrealistic. I hoped a positive start to the year might influence how the year would pan out. I felt a determination for things to improve.

But naturally, life always throws its difficulties at you and the overhang from 2009 naturally dragged into 2010. Then of course, 2010 threw up its own issues which we’re still jostling through.

Still wobbly and now somewhat further internally melted from the issues of 2010, I am presently looking back on this year and this is what I see:

It’s the year of the friend.

It started with that wonderful party and it’s continued throughout the year. The kindness and generosity of our friends has overwhelmed me. Guests provided sparklers and fireworks, bubbly and beer, fun and games. They barbecued sausages, put together salads, cooked Spätzle, prepared tiramisu, created cocktails and generally kept us entertained. The star of the show, undoubtedly this beautiful stuffed salmon:

Star of the show

In a word: delicious!!

Throughout the year, I have turned more and more to my friends, who have supported me through thick and thin, been there to celebrate and commiserate, offered advice and just listened. I have drawn much strength from these relationships this year. I have listened to their opinions. I have enjoyed their presence in my life.

As a good friend once said to me: “Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”

Look away now if you don’t like soppiness ;-), because I would like to say special thanks to (in no particular order):

Gabi: for crying with me and always being there even when she had problems of her own

Dani: for always caring and thinking of me

Frank: for making me laugh and being a sensitive, thoughtful, intelligent soul

Lili: for hours of listening, empathizing, then making me see the fun in life (and special thanks for that weekend of babysitting – I will be eternally grateful)

Andrea: for being so kind and just generally lovely

Holger: for breakfasts and beer and carefully thought out emails and baking cakes :-)

Sabs: for endless hours putting the world to rights on the phone

Alex: for just being the funniest person I ever met and at the same time sensitive

Karin: for being thoughtful and for listening

Jake and John: for getting married and bringing me back for a glimpse of Scotland

Connie and Naseem: for putting up Akasha and I and being so generous with your homes and time. I really enjoyed my stay with both of you!

Eleanor: for being the person who pushed me over the edge into doing this blog

slpmartin: for giving me confidence with his comments on my blog

Caitlin: for being adorable on her three-week stay (I’m still up for the whole adoption thing…)

And three special, special, special thanks:

Faye: my forever friend

Reinhold: my soul mate

And Joni: for maturing into a wonderful 15-year-old, that a mum can only be proud of. As well as being my daughter you are also my friend xx

 

A little bit of controversy


Recently I flew to Britain for a moment. The moment can be described in three sections: a wedding (the actual reason for my visit), glancing at a couple of friends (if you’re a friend and I didn’t have time to glance at you, please believe me, I am sorry, but you know, a moment only lasts for a moment and that is that) and a crazy shopping spree (which evolved into a trying to fit everything into a suitcase frenzy, involving such things as big bottoms on said suitcase and strained looking zips. In other words: it was not pretty).

Being British I’ve grown up with the phrase ‘rip off Britain’ and so my expectation followed thus: my pounds would not have the ability to buy me very much. But that assumption is very, very wrong. In fact, the more I saw the purchase power of my pound, the more I wished I had paid Raise Your Airfare Ninefold RYANair another thirty quid for a second suitcase.

Britain is cheap!

At least in comparison to Germany it is.

Let me give you an example. My 15-year-old daughter informed me she needed new jeans (I arrived with a full-blown shopping list, actually). After friendly consultation I ambled into Asda, already laden with bags. Wowed by low price party dresses, cheap nightwear and bargain-basement undies, nothing could prepare me for the denim department. Having reached my destination the price tag poking out at me screamed £2. No I didn’t miss any digits. Yes, you do read me correctly: £2!!!

No. I didn’t buy them. They were, in fact, the ugliest jeans I have ever seen in my life. I would not have insulted my daughter with them. But that’s not the point. The point is the original price (not the reduced price) of a full, adult size pair of trousers constructed in denim, with a zip and even rivets is £2.

Now, I’m no financial genius, but even I can work out that since the first jeans sold in 1885 for $1.50 and with some allowance for inflation over the last 125 years, the numbers just don’t add up.

I know some of the supermarkets promote subsidized products. But on my search around the shop the most expensive jeans I actually found were £4. The subsequent resulting image in my mind being that of a sweatshop in a far off land, employing three-year olds for peanuts. Or even crumbs…

Back home now, I’ve been searching for a snow-suit for our youngest so as she can embrace the upcoming cold weather. She needs something that will keep her warm enough even at temperatures of -15°C. Therefore, I wanted something of reasonable quality, so I set myself a budget of EUR 30.

You can laugh now.

I have spent the best part of the last week shopping. I have been to various towns and many, many, many shops. I even surfed the net. But in total I managed only to find two in my price bracket. One paper-thin number at just shy of EUR 10 and another that also seemed to be of poor quality, for the complete budget.

Yesterday, the temperatures dropped to below zero and I ran into a wall of panic. I had no idea where I’d seen the best cheapest solution, but after talking to a friend I had learned of some reduced winter articles in yet another shop, in yet another town. I ended up purchasing a winter jacket (note: not a snow-suit) reduced from

Please take a deep breath:

EUR 60 to EUR 45.

Truthfully, it is the Mercedes in terms of winter jackets. It has every possible function to keep her warm and dry. The sales assistant made sure she informed me of them all. And I bought each and every one of them… But now I need to buy snow trousers too. Even with the assistants wonderful powers of persuasion I managed to reject her EUR 40 trousers.

OK. I have a little more to confess. Ever the bargain hunter, I have throughout the week also purchased a few other articles. Long sleeved tops and trousers to be precise. All reduced, you understand.

Just so we’re clear, I’ll tell you a little more.

Thick cotton trousers. With a zip and a plastic button and pockets. Almost like a pair of jeans. Just no denim or rivets.

Original price EUR 19,95.

Reduced to? EUR 10.

Made in? China.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me the realization that my rather more expensive product (originally ten times the price of those Asda jeans, to be exact) leaves me a little confused and to be perfectly honest, rather pissed.

Could it be the reputable company who outsourced the manufacturing of my daughters new top to,  (let me read the label)  – Bangladesh, actually paid those workers a Western style wage? I suspect not.

But still we’re paying Western style prices.

So, having had the Asda shopping experience first hand, I have discovered prices in Britain nowadays to be particularly low. Perhaps even artificially low at times.  In comparison I suspect the German prices to be artificially high.

And whether or not you agree with poor working conditions being offered to those in the Far East is not the point of this article. The point is, that at least those at Asda are being quietly honest about it.

There are many sides to ADHD


Intro:

Whenever I meet a new person, and they begin the conversation with, “You’re the mum of… ” (as is the expression in German). I find myself, for a brief moment, holding my breath. Awaiting the name that will follow. On continuance with Joni, Lori or Akasha, I can breath easily and smile warmly. However, when Aden is the name that is uttered, I find myself tensing. What will come next? How do they know him? Has he annoyed them ringing their bell and asking to use their toilet? Has he seen them working in their garden and told them in his inexperienced yet confident way, how to do the job much better? Has he asked for food/a drink/a lift home? Or worse still, do they know him through school, and have heard about his shenanigans: disturbing the class, climbing out of windows, fire-starting, upping and leaving mid-lesson, or even his frustrated temper outbursts?

I study their face for clues in those first seconds, fearing the worst, but sometimes, I meet people, who see in my son, something good.

Story:

Aden recently had his annual sports day event at school. As usual, a follow-up medal giving presentation took place a few days later.

On his return home Aden looked sombre. A discussion entailed, where I discovered the gravity of the situation. He had not received a single medal. Presumably, because athletics, indeed sport in general, is not exactly his strong point. Sorry son. That would be the DNA from your mum. The sports section on my report card always stated, “Sarah tries hard.” The unstated part, “but achieves nothing.”

After the prize giving, he informed me, he had approached his good friend, the headmaster. Hans. I’m familiar with his first name, because the head had already taken the time to tell me of my sons informal chat with him, earlier in the year, ending with his name – Hans. It would be true to say, that relations have improved between the pair, in the last couple of months, since the arrival of Ritalin in our lives. On talking with his leader, Aden had explained his sad mood – not a single medal. Hans cheered him with the information, that, had there been medals to give for the most helpful boy in the school: Aden would have achieved the gold. Hands down. No contest.

Unfortunately for Aden though, there is no such medal.

Sitting at home with me, having a comforting cuddle, he had a realisation.

It started with me expressing my belief that a gold medal for helpfulness is worth much more than a gold medal in any sport.

Aden thought to himself, then said:

“I am really helpful. I help my teacher. I help the headmaster. All the time. I help much more than anyone else does.”

Me, “That’s nice.”

Him, “And I help our neighbours a lot.”

True. He’s out there, gardening, building, fixing. Endlessly.

Pause.

“But I don’t help you!”

Realisation.

I breathe in.

He’s got it!

Will it make a difference?

Will he forget again within the next two minutes?

Has the Ritalin caused this? Aden has now been taking Ritalin regularly for about three months. The changes are significant. But I would still describe our circumstances as “challenging” on a daily basis. Especially because Ritalin only works for a few hours.

Flashbacks to ‘helpful’ situations play out in my mind.

Like, going to the recycling centre. Aden loves to attend. I fill the car while he’s bouncing around, offering assistance. I’m not sure if it’s the possibility of free junk to bring home, the throwing of cardboard into the abyss-like containers or the smashing of the glass that does it for him. It’s definitely not the flies. Of that I’m sure. But he’s always desperate to go. And he’s strong and capable, so I like to take him along, in the hope of support. But what actually happens is this:

We arrive, open the doors and boot of our car. I give Aden a box or bag and point him in the direction of the correct container. Then he’s gone. Puff! Off to help another family. Meanwhile, I climb the steps, battle the flies, feed the abyss. Normally a ‘helped one’ approaches me, raving about the helpfulness of my son. Their work is done. Although they arrived after me. And I’m still carrying away. Over their shoulder, I notice Aden helping a second grateful depositor. I smile as graciously as I can.

When everyone else’s rubbish is dealt with, I spot him chatting to the guy who works there. Quizzing him eagerly about everything he sees.

Another example is at the supermarket. I like to spend as little time as possible doing a main shop. So I attempt one huge shop, around once a month and buy all the heavy and long-lasting objects and then top up with short, fresh shops when needed throughout the month. For those big shops, we always need two trolleys. Yes, I am that annoying shopper. Aden is always the obvious choice to accompany me. Along with Akasha. He’s home from school every afternoon, unlike the older girls and they want to stay home mostly to study or do homework. Besides, I have no choice but to take him really, even when the older girls are at home, I’m too nervous to leave him anyway. He’s just too impulsive.

So, nowadays, it’s often me, a three-year old who refuses to sit in a trolley and wants everything in the store, and an ADHD Aden, whose Ritalin is wearing off. I can feel your trepidation.

It starts off well. I have a trolley. Aden has his trolley and we head to the cereal, where the two little ones search out our staple, every-time-buys and a free choice each. Off to the fruit and veg.

But, I’m already losing him.

A mouldy peach may require the attention of a shop assistant. Or perhaps it’s a split melon. But one minute he is there and the next he has gone.

Generally, I’m to be found shoving two trolleys simultaneously, while a little one holds onto my skirt and cries for a cake/yoghurt/chocolate bar/teddy bear shaped ham. Throwing at rapid speed anything and everything into a trolley, (my sporting abilities have improved), and yelling my son’s name somewhat impatiently. This impatience is further encouraged by a three-year old who believes we have the wrong trolley and attempts to palm our goods off on unsuspecting passers-by.

Aden, I find ritually helping an assistant. Stacking shelves. Tidying up. Handing over damaged goods.

It would be true to say, though, that at times they are rather unamused by his constant questioning, and by this time of day, somewhat erratic movements. I drag him away until he discovers his next distraction.

At home, I actively encourage all of the children to be helpful, to do their bit. I praise them when they do well, and thank them. But Aden, until this point has been generally uninterested.

Typically:

  • I ask him to fetch something from the downstairs freezer and he does not return
  • I send him outside to hang the washing out and he lies on the grass and says he can’t
  • I ask him to tidy up his mess and he reads a book
  • I ask him for help in the garden, he sees the neighbour and helps them in their garden instead.

Has, finally, something clicked into place? Is this realisation going to last? Or is it for him a momentary lapse into my world? My optimistic self feels confident.

Sometimes, I’m approached with, “You’re the mum of Aden!” and my nerves start to settle as I’m given a description of how helpful my son has been. It could be for a friend or a relative stranger. He’s shovelled their snow. Carried their wares. Watered and cut back their plants. He’s offered to empty their rubbish, fix their car, chop their wood, tidy their garden, and teach them English. Probably, all at the same time.

My only son. It’s so nice to feel proud of him.

It would be a great bonus to be able to genuinely say, “Yes, and he’s very considerate at home too.”