Category Archives: Observations

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.


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.

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.


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:

  • (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,


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

Update you can donate here:

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.


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