Tag Archives: Children

glass cracked – water splashed

You cannot possibly know just how far one and a half litres of boiling water can actually stray.

I do.

I acquired this knowledge just this morning.

I am in the process of listening to my body and it told me, that after an eternity of feeling sluggish, what I could probably do with, is some kind of detox.

Now, my mind told me that it could not possibly face the starvation kind.

So I ransacked Pinterest and found a delicious looking recipe for a fat-flushing, kidney-resuscitating kind of drink.

I went to the local supermarket and purchased something for dinner and fat-flushing water additives.

Unfortunately, I’d raided Pinterest somewhat excessively, and I hadn’t actually bothered to write the necessary ingredients for my fat-flushing beverage down. So I got confused and bought a mixture of completely wrong, as in not-fitting-together, fat-flushers. Like ginger instead of mint and mandarins instead of grapefruit – that sort of thing. And I really, really wanted to do it by-the-Pin, because I’m new to the game.

So I found myself scrutinising Pinterest again, with the ingredients that I actually had to hand – I’m not setting foot outside the house again today, unless someone’s life depends on it: the ground is a mixture of ice and snow. I discovered an interesting recipe entitled ‘Ginger Orange Detox Water’. I also found an old orange in the fruit bowl.  Perfect!

I set to work in the kitchen, peeling knobbly ginger. Did I need to peel it? I just assumed so – it didn’t say in the recipe.  And I scrubbed the not-yet-mouldy orange. All good. Then I approached the jug issue.

I took two large glass jugs from the cupboard and tried to remember which one was the 1.5 litre jug and which one was the 1 litre jug. They both have completely different shapes, but I suspected that the one with the handle could hold more liquid than the other one.

I cleverly tested out my theory by filling the handled jug with cold water and pouring it into the other jug. Smugly, I proved myself right.

I then realised that I had a surplus of cold water in the bottom of the handled jug, and the recipe clearly stated to pour boiling water over my ginger. I don’t like to waste water, so I decided to tip the excess into a pot plant in the living room. In my haste, I more splashed than poured, which splattered a good splattering of soil up the living room wall. The dog was useless. She didn’t come anywhere near in an attempt to lick up the mess for me, like she regularly does with spilt coffee or squirted apple juice. No, she just lay in her cosy bed and looked on. And I had to wipe the wall down all by myself.

I raced back to the kitchen, to my peeled ginger and ready-to-be-sliced not-yet-mouldy orange and popped the kettle on.

I did notice that the jug really was quite cold. But I felt, you know, somewhat confident.

I did think, for a brief moment, cold glass jug, mega-hot water, good idea? And I think, that might be why, in hindsight, when I poured the water into the jug, directly after it boiled, I stepped back, hesitantly, from the worktop.

The glass cracked and the water overwhelmed the work surface.

The dog sprinted to my side.

Water cascaded from the counter to the floor. An immense puddle formed and I swathed the whole room in kitchen towel.

You may think that 1.5 litres isn’t much volume, when it’s sitting there all calm and collected, minding its own business, in a glass jug. But when you set it free, be warned, it will take over your kitchen.

It will drip down rapidly filling your drawers. And you will wish, that you had never invested in all that Tupperware. All those pesky lids and lunch boxes, all those freezer tubs that are never stacked, just thrown into the drawer, causing all kinds of calamities: space loss, drawer jams and never being able to find the right lid for the right base at any given time. It will drench your cutlery and you will be forced to completely empty the drawer that you’ve been meaning to ‘clean out’ for yonks. You’ll discover that you have an odd number of chopsticks and 10 medicine spoons when you really only need one. The McDonald’s straw that you kept, pristinely wrapped in it’s paper packet will be soggy and you won’t know what to do with the wrapper because the paper recycling people clearly stated ‘No wet paper’.

You may well make the mistake of wiping the floor first. Unwinding realms of shop’s own kitchen roll that you’d stockpiled during a special offer period, and hurling it at the floor. It may seem like the right thing to do, because the dog is there, looking for a random lick. And you’re not sure there aren’t any tiny pieces of glass lurking in the liquid. And you don’t want to splash through a puddle just to get to the work surface and then traipse moist footprints across the room each time you walk to the bin and back.

Intermittently you might take a desperate shot at the drawers. Ramming in wads of save-the-kitchen roll.

But it will all be pointless. As you’ll realise when you come face to face with the onslaught on the tabletop.

A thin layer of water covers everything.  You’ll end up yelling at your cheap-buy kitchen roll because it has no soaking power whatsoever. The lake on the tabletop will remain steady and sure.

The water will have swamped everything. Except for, that is, the plant in need of water on the windowsill. You will have to dry the kettle base out for the upcoming year to make absolutely sure there are absolutely no dangers of electric shocks in the near future.

You will swish and swash the water towards the bread and away from the bread in a desperate attempt to mop the surface. It won’t make any difference. And when you finally pick up the bread, you’ll discover yet another puddle underneath.

Then you’ll be horrified to spot medication. Floating in the pond. You’ll let out a shriek and start to pray that your daughter’s brand new inhaler is still fully functioning and not now a muggy, chemical clog.

Next to it you’ll spot a packet of fallen-from-the-shelf travel sickness tablets and you’ll pop them, merrily, on the hot radiator. In full-on rescue mode. You will regret this later. When you double check the instructions which read: “Do not store over 25°C.” And you will have to throw them away.

The Italian biscuits you’ve been savouring since Christmas, as a treat for your coffee, will bathe themselves in water and you’ll wish you’d pursued the match-the-Tupperware-parts test instead of clipping the packet haphazardly closed.

You may choose to rescue your freshly peeled ginger, and without too much consideration, pop it into a random glass in the glass cupboard. This moment will come back to haunt you. While you’re still deliberating if the ginger is a safe-to-consume, glass-splinter-free zone, and thus forgetting leaving the ginger in the said glass, in the said cupboard, you will face a barrage of questions in the  ‘Why is there ginger in a glass in the cupboard, mum?’ test later on. Questions such as:

  • Does it keep flies away?
  • Are you trying to make the glass taste of ginger?
  • Does the flavour intensify when it’s sitting out?

The Fairy liquid bottle, will, by this time, be spawning its own bubbles and as you see them grow; you may have a flashback to that time you first tried to utilise a twin tub.

You left the twin tub on, all alone and on returning found the room completely filled with bubbles. You had to call your flatmate’s mother to come and assist you to de-bubble the room.

You’ll wipe the tabletop and mop your brow and then notice your already cleaned floor is totally wet again.

You’ll realise at this point that you are very much in need of reinforcements. Coffee and a biscuit. So you’ll open the cutlery drawer, automatically, and discover, that the bloody thing is full of saturated kitchen roll and even more water. You’ll end up dismantling the built in cutlery tray and finding an overflow of water underneath. Which is snaking its way into the plastic crap drawer below. You will be forced, by water, to empty out each bit of not-so-fantastic plastic, and wish, that’s what you’d just have done earlier. You’ll have to wash and dry: all of the lids, all of the lunch boxes, the snack cups, the water bottles, the tumblers, the not-stacked stackable freezer boxes and the picnic plates.

Then you’ll have to re-mop the floor.

There is only one happy moment in this sad story: the moment you’ll realise that 1.5l of water could not stray as far as the carousel cupboard. With all it’s flour and sugar and teabags. 

You’ll sigh a relieved sigh, salvage your Italian biscuits and listen to your body – which says: gorge.


Fever Diva

When I was a little girl, around, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years old, I picked up one of those childhood illnesses. I’m not sure which one it was. All I know is, that I had an extremely high temperature.

It was so high that I started hallucinating, seeing heads with no bodies and matchstick people doing strange exercises over by my mum’s wardrobe.

It freaked my mum right out, I can tell you.

The problem is: it didn’t stop there.

After that illness, any time I had a low grade fever, I’d start hallucinating again.

When I was a kid, I’d get sick and then, you know, hallucinate. And my mum would become unglued.

I’d stay healthy for a while and then I’d pick up a cold or a sickness bug and then suddenly I’d be shoving away floating faces and yelling at stick men and my mum would be ruing the day she ever gave birth to such an oddity.

When I was 17 my hallucinations and I moved out. We moved around a bit and then settled down in a little house, in a little village.

My fevers and my hallucinations had become more of a biennial event, so, in general, I kept them pretty much to myself.

Then my first husband moved himself in.

He stayed overnight, left in the morning and returned in the evening with some clean underwear. He stayed the night again, then left in morning and returned with a chest of drawers, for his clean underwear. He stayed the night and then left in the morning and returned in the evening with pretty much all of his stuff.

He, luckily,  was only confronted by my visions three or four times, as he trotted his stuff right back out again after about seven years. He found it all a bit odd, but to be honest, he was more exasperated by my lack of interest in wearing two identical socks simultaneously, and the fact that my tool kit consisted of: a hammer, a bag of carpet tacks, Blu-Tack and some felt pens. The latter concern was not unreasonable. After all, when he went to the loo and yanked on the toilet tissue, it was surely fair enough, that he was horrified, that not only the whole roll, but also the holder and a heap of plaster, came flying towards him.

Looking back, I could have yelled at him for destroying my handiwork with his man-strength.

Instead, I was too busy explaining that that rubbery stuff really was Blu-Tack, despite it not being blue. That, I had cleverly coloured it in with the felt pens so it would match the wall colour.

He did not share my enthusiasm. Instead, he went around dismantling things and replacing them with screws and something called ‘raw plugs’.

It took him a good couple of years to stop shaking his head and to appreciate my talent.

I remember the exact day quite clearly.

We’d been housesitting for my parents for a week as they’d taken a holiday. We’d fed the plants and watered the cat.

On their return I wanted the house to be spick and span. So I did all the washing, changed all the bedding, scrubbed down the kitchen and the bathroom, I even popped out to the local florist and bought flowers as a distraction from the smell of polish. All I needed to do was hoover and wash the floor.

I got the hoover out and sucked away on the deep pile carpet in the hall. Then I entered the kitchen, with the brand new cushioned linoleum. I paused for a second, and then I heard a horrifying noise. The hoover, it turned out, had different settings depending on how deep the pile of your carpet was, or in this case, wasn’t.

I pushed and I pulled but the gurgle persisted so I switched the hoover off.

I lay it on it’s back and then glanced at the floor.

I think my heart actually stopped for a second as it sunk in.

The bloody hoover had sucked a chunk right out of my mum’s new, extortionately priced, linoleum.

Driven by lack of linoleum funds and a healthy amount of fear – my mum is not a person you want to piss off – I raided every drawer in the house until I found, no, not felt pens but crayons.

Felt pens wash off. Crayons are wax. Linoleum is frequently washed.

And so I went to work, crayoning the upper linoleum pattern onto the lower linoleum backing with as much haste as my shaky hands could muster.

My first husband, knowing my mother, went into a full blind panic.

When I’d finished, and tested and retested my work, with a mop and bucket, I stepped back and asked him, “What do you think?” I saw that fleeting you-are-my-heroine look flash across his face and I knew, I just knew that all my Blu-Tack colouring-in had been in preparation for that precise moment.

We hurriedly finished the house, desperate to make a quick get away before my parents’ and siblings’ arrival.

I may be mistress of fraud with a  crayon but I cannot lie through my teeth, even if my life depends on it.

We were close to leaving when my parents showed up. So close. We were almost at the back door, in the kitchen. Which meant that the subsequent conversation took part, in it’s entirety, in the kitchen. We enquired about their holiday and made our ‘we need to go ASAP’ excuses, and the whole time, the treacherous cat, stared at the crayoned hole in the linoleum. The same cat that I’d just watered for a week tried to give my game away!!

Years passed. My mum renewed her lino. I renewed my husband. And life trundled along.

My second husband eradicated my sock nonsense and bought himself a bumper tool kit. But the real icing on the cake was that he arrived in my life complete with a full blown cat allergy.

I aged and developed various ailments. The children kindly brought home and shared around all the bugs, nits and noroviruses that they could catch at school. The frequency of my fevers increased steadily, to every few months, rather than every couple of years.

And there had been a new development. With an even slighter rise in temperature, I found myself having restless nights and on waking that I’d turned upside down in my bed. Yup, suddenly I’d wake up in the morning and my face would be, well… facing my husband’s hairy feet.

On Sunday, our youngest child woke us up at 4am having grabbed an illness which ran pretty much like this: vomit, 40°C fever, bad headache, sore neck; which thus sent us into a tailspin, having already gone through one child fighting against meningitis. So we did the mega-alert, test-the-temperature-every-fifteen-minutes for any increase, thing. Actually, we were so anxious that we checked every five minutes. For two and a half hours. Then we started to notice a decrease, so we gave her some Nurofen and some water, and tried to sleep a little.

Her illness developed: sore throat, tissue boxes worth of snot, nose bleeds, a sore eye. The child, who normally puts the bounce in the word bounce, lolled around on the sofa.

Her fever stayed fairly steady for three days.

Three whole days.

For three days, she breathed her hot breath into my face as I stuck the thermometer in her ear and nursed her brow.

For three days, she passed me snot filled tissues and empty glasses so I could replenish her water.

For three days, I was filled with dread because at 38°C, I feel the need, somehow, to cuddle up to my husband’s feet. For three days, I despaired because at 38.5°C, I visualise hovering heads and exercising matchstick men.

What on earth would 40°C mean for me?

On the fourth night, one feverless child lay in her bed and slept soundly. Her mother, on the other hand, kept waking up, thinking that, at any moment, she would be violently sick. Then the feeling would subside, she’d lie back down and snooze again.

At around 4am she found herself sitting, bolt upright in bed, thrashing her arm wildly. Her stunned husband called out to her, “Are you having a nightmare again?”

“No.” She said matter-of-factly. “There’s a scarecrow.”

Because she could quite blatantly see a green grass (rather than brown straw) scarecrow, pogoing in the middle of her bed.

Now I know what happens at 40°C. I have an even better imagination.









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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the grumpy one.

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

Like just a few short minutes ago.

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

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

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

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



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!






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.

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!






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.

I wish I was a Duracell Bunny with a lithium battery between my bum cheeks

The thing that I have already learned this morning (I know, already at this early hour on a Saturday) is: the way to wake up energised is to fall asleep the night before in your dinner.

That’s what our seven year old Akasha did last night while we were all chatting the evening away and putting the world to rights, as you do.

Now, I know that she had saved energy by being carried up the winding stairs to her bed, and therefore not having had to haul her small body from step to step. But I never could have guessed that that little iota of conservation could have resulted in the energetic outpourings that would, well, pour out of her this morning.

Before I even had chance to wake my sleepy head she’d got up and dressed, admittedly in yesterday’s dirty clothes, gulped down a bowl of Honey Loops and answered an incoming call.

Which is what woke me, incidentally.

I entered the living room to find her chirpily tormenting brain training the dog. For those of you who don’t have a dog and thus have no idea what on earth I am talking about: you can buy intelligence toys for your dog, whereby you hide treats under cups and in drawers and beneath sliders. There are holes in each of the plastic pieces so that the dog can smell the goodies inside/underneath and is therefore motivated to figure out whether he or she should slide or pull or tip or push the object to obtain to the treat. Akasha had decided, in her wisdom, that the dog should not receive her treats but instead her dried breakfast in the toy which meant several rounds of ‘earn your brekkie dog’ one after another.

She then proceeded on to brush her hair and her teeth all the while talking her into submission.

I saw Lexi’s tail wag happily for a brief moment when Akasha revealed the flexi lead and she sat very nicely while it was being attached to her collar, I must say.

I, on the other hand was quite surprised, after all, being only seven Akasha is not permitted to take Lexi out on her own. But all was soon to be revealed: Akasha was hell bent on walking Lexi on the flexi through the house.

After repeated instalments of ‘stop, sit, stay and heel’ and more constant chatter in her floppy ear Lexi was finally released from her flexi and sloped, I interpreted: somewhat disappointed at not actually going outside, off to her cushion.

Akasha, in an effort to finally bring mummy into the land of the fully awake made me two espressos.

Well, that’s not technically true. She prepared me one ‘rinse clean the machine water’ with added sugar but I refused, point blank, to fall for that trick again. It might contain a sugar hit, but there’s not a single hint of caffeine in the mix.

So she zoomed off again and returned with the proper black stuff.

Simultaneously she informed me that she’d discovered why women have two boobs. “It’s for if they have twins and both babies are thirsty at the same time.”

I declared that despite already being dressed she’d have to get undressed again and have a shower. And wash that hair! It was still full of the sunblock she’d liberally covered herself in the day before (and quite probably half of her dinner too).

We entered the bathroom, which just so happens to be right next to the bedroom where poor Papa was still attempting to catch up on some sleep, despite all of the commotion.

She stepped under the running water and insisted, yet again, that she was quite capable of washing her hair, all by herself.

She was apparently also quite capable of waking up exhausted Papa with her entertaining and rather loud ‘shower song’.

Just to give you a little insight into my life: Akasha may be the youngest of my four children but she is not one of the two who have ADHD. They were both off with the youth fire service this morning at some ungodly hour. Erecting and decorating the village May tree. Quite incredible really when you consider that they’re both teenagers and that one of them recently broke two bones in his arm. I’m not quite sure how he’s managing to haul around a tree and branches when he’s wearing a once pristine white, now mostly black and grey plaster cast from his shoulder to his wrist.

I probably shouldn’t worry though. Last weekend he managed to raise quite a lot of money for the same fire service, packing bags for customers at the local supermarket for ten hours!

And on Tuesday he had no problem at all building up that camp fire.

Anyway, I couldn’t say no. He once told me that fire service is his life.

That and climbing and abseiling and potholing and archery and gardening and as soon as his arm is better he’s about to branch out into canoeing.

I’m still in shock that he managed to break his arm by nipping out to the shop for me and falling off his bike.

Although to be fair, he has conceded that he was driving down the hill at a zillion miles an hour.

Though really, he shouldn’t have been injured at all apart from that scrape on his right shoulder…

After all, he was wearing his helmet and he did instinctively do a ninjutsu roll off the bike as he flew over the handlebars.

Supposedly, it’s just that, he ‘made a slight mistake in how he landed…’




Don’t cha just love Christmas?

So here it is: that time of year again.

Here anyway, there’s not a single, solitary flake of snow on the ground. The mulled wine is still in its bottle, as far back in its cupboard as it’s possible to be. After Thursday’s level of celebrating I have decided: I am never touching alcohol ever again. Well, not before tomorrow anyway.

The gifts are wrapped but not placed under the tree. Aden wanted to deposit his interestingly packed package for Joni, under the plastic needles, but we ran to the rescue as we anticipated the dog’s eyes excitedly lighting up and her wrestling the paper off. We explained to Aden that the dog would contentedly nibble away on his lovingly purchased present.

So he thoughtfully offered to squirt it with anti-chew spray.

The turkey is stuffing up the bottom drawer of the fridge. Reini’s chocolate gooey puddings are ready to cook, directly from frozen. Akasha’s covered the window in home-made stars and the apple tree is welcoming passersby with it’s twinkly, strangulating net of lights.

Cards have been sent, received and put up. The dog’s had her hair cut. Akasha’s offered to make extra presents – origami birds from loo paper. Excitement truly is in the air.

Christmas is coming and apparently we’re ready; even waiting for it.

Wishing you all a very, very Merry Christmas!!!!!

Goals and triumphs

Can you believe it – it’s the last day? Of my enormous assignment for myself, to do 101 challenges in 1001 days.

I feel a little bit giddy, to be honest.

Even though there are no bright lights and I have not (yet) sipped a single swig of champagne.

In fact, for all intents and purposes, it’s a normal day: the frost lies crisp and white upon the ground, the trees stand still in a windless sky, the computer softly buzzes while I write and simultaneously shovel copious amounts of chocolate into my mouth and the puppy and I argue over who is actually typing on the keyboard.

Ah, yes, the puppy… Our new family member… I’ll introduce you to her properly later.

There are no banners drooping in the still, crisp air; no party hats sitting on dandruff free hair (this is not an advertisement; but we do use Head and Shoulders); nor have there been any clinking glasses, well, unless you count the ones precariously balanced in the dishwasher this morning.

But worry not. For tonight I will celebrate on the last of our 33 date nights. I’ve already marked it off. I fear I may just celebrate a little too much to be allowed to be left in control of machinery and other potentially perilous objects.

So what am I celebrating, exactly?

The Highlights:

  • Becoming really good friends with Tilly Bud, The Laughing Housewife my partner in crime during the challenge.
  • The murder mystery dinner (we had such a lot of fun especially as I was picked out as having had an affair with the murderer, which led to me being, shockingly, pulled up to waltz with him, in front of an audience of over 100 people – all German people can waltz (except my husband, which is the main reason we fit together so perfectly – I can’t waltz either. I have an excuse though not being German), but not knowing I wasn’t an authentic German participant – I had to play an Italian – the poor unsuspecting bloke had no idea what he was in for i.e. severely trampled feet and a hysterically laughing dance partner (there were over 100 people watching)).
  • Making sure every single month – without fail – that Reini and I went on a date and made time for each other.
  • The Eurovision Party.
  • Watching 101 films. Watching films as a challenge means you can indulge yourself whenever you want and you don’t start to feel like a couch potato.
  • Writing the first draft of my first book in NaNoWriMo.
  • Trying new restaurants. I liked this challenge so much, I upped it from 10 in the first year to a total of 30 and I’m happy to say that I achieved this goal.
  • Going on a bonding trip with Lori to a spa!
  • Going to a wild west show – I really didn’t expect it to be so much fun and all of the kids really loved it too.
  • Going to Linderhof Castle – beautiful.
  • Taking Akasha to ballet. I only planned, originally, to give her a bash at it but as it turns out – she’s a proper full on little ballerina!
  • Planting bushes in the garden. I have actually managed to grow something. OK I have also managed to kill several things but I succeeded in growing a few bushes!!!! I suspect I have found attached to myself half a green thumb. It might not be exactly in the thumb position but who cares? It’s half a green thumb!!
  • On the theme of planting – finally I have a longed for pampas grass in the middle of the garden. In the spirit of honesty – the first one did die. But I soldiered on replanting. The second one is still alive, but we’re not through her first winter yet.
  • My 40th birthday party. I totally loved it. But I do admit, I did go a little bit mad in organizing it. What with fancy dress and preparing 1000s of canapés and an art area for the kids and stilts and space hoppers and  a trampoline and bubbles and a piñata and and and… And then a massive storm came and excited the Scottish visitors  and drowned and tore down both the marquee and the carefully arranged tables. Aden had a full meltdown because, apparently, I had promised in a true British optimistic, weather-woman spirit that, no, it would not rain, when questioned (without reading any meteorological charts or anything!) and in contrast it poured.
  • Resolving the pet question. We bought a puppy. A half-baked thing to do considering I’d not long had my third burnout. But she’s also been my salvation: going for walks, having cuddles, throwing a ball and then attempting to wrestle it back out of her mouth again. On top of that, she’s been an incredible asset for each of the kids for which I will be eternally grateful.
  • I finally found support for my family. I’ve saved the best until last haven’t I? Last month my son was granted a Sozialpädagoge. He’s highly trained to work with autistic and ADHD kids and comes to the house and takes Aden out, two afternoons a week, and undertakes different challenges with him on a one-on-one basis. At the moment he’s working on helping him concentrate and gain confidence through various activities like climbing, potholing, swimming, and geocaching. And the local council have offered to pay for this support for the next two years. Sensational!

I did not finish all of my challenges. I expected far too much of myself and I realized quite early on that my wish to complete the whole assignment was nowhere near attainable. But that was OK. The idea for me was to have goals to aim for. Considering my burnout and how long it’s taken me to recover I do feel that I’ve done quite well. Moreover, although it was added pressure, I also feel that the enterprise helped with my recovery because I had a huge selection of entertaining tasks that I had personally chosen, to focus on.

Saying that, there have also been a few ‘lowlights’.

The Lowlights:

  • I wanted to turn our office into an inspiring place to work (instead of a dumping ground) – I did so, I even put plants in there. The plants, of course, died and the office now looks worse than it did before.😦
  • I didn’t write a letter to myself to be opened in 10 years. I wanted to do this around my 40th to open then on my 50th but around my 40th I was so busy hosting a Spanish student and going to choir concerts and ballet performances and doctors appointments and preparing 1000s of canapés and collecting egg boxes (for the art area of the party) and eating my way through shop bought puddings so I could reuse the little bowls they came in for my own canapés, that I just didn’t have time. I would have loved to have known what I would have said in that letter to myself.
  • Reading three German novels. I failed here appallingly.  I started one with my dictionary in hand and my translator husband lying next to me but he ended up snoring and I ended up dropping the dictionary and following him to slumberland. N.B. Not snoring: the official line is I don’t snore!
  • Losing control of the 101 list. I couldn’t seem to keep control of the numbers and the letters on my page. At times my list would merrily head towards 101, while at others it would stop counting at the end of one section and then restart at the start of the next from 1?!? Then at other times my list would utilize the letters of the alphabet abandoning any kind of numerical system whatsoever. At first, I was infuriated and spent hours – OK – minutes trying to fix it and shaking a frustrated fist at the screen and yelling at my page, comments like; “Why are you doing this to me?” and “Who gave this computer free will?” Then my husband pointed out that actually, I’m just completely untalented when it comes to dealing with html.
  • Learning how to make a photobook. I attempted this challenge sometime after we returned from France. I thought it would be lovely to have our favourite French photos compiled into a book that could be kept  to be poured through by grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. After quite a struggle (remember my html experience) I managed to effectively put a photobook together online. I wanted to order it and then I saw the price of the masterpiece I had created, had a small fit and then decided to opt for a different company and a less glossy keepsake. I deleted the file, as you do, and rushed off to pick up a small person from somewhere. Then my husband accidentally destroyed the contents of our computer including addresses, kept emails, MY BOOK (luckily I had gone against his wishes and printed the whole thing off), important work he had done and our photos which hadn’t yet been backed up. Oops!
  • Archery. For some reason I had a romantic notion in my head of taking a bow and pointing an arrow and releasing it off into the atmosphere… It would spin and twirl and then land itself on the exact, precise, on the nose particle that I had, a few mere seconds before, deciphered. What actually happened was: the arrow dropped to my feet, I had trouble ‘springing’ the arrow, the arrow couldn’t even find the haystack and the kids then hit every single target. I have discovered I have a deep dislike for archery. I felt like I did that time at school when I accidentally threw the discus into my screaming team mates or those days I could not throw the javelin any further than a meter. Or those endless lessons when I spent the whole double period trying to just hit the damned shuttlecock with the badminton racket – I’d drop the shuttlecock down towards the racket which was placed directly underneath the-said-cock and then I’d hit up the way and I’d miss every single time. I scratched my head quite a lot in those days (but I’m fairly sure that’s not the reason I buy Head and Shoulders in bulk every time I see it on special offer).

So, the gist of the story is: I’ve really, really, really enjoyed the challenge. I’m a little bit sad that it’s over but on the other hand I’m extremely pleased that despite being ill, I’ve continued to plod on through.

Today is no exception, I’m planning to finish off my Freerice challenge: I’ve donated 84,680 grains of rice so far and I’m hoping to reach 100,000 by the end of the day. I’ll have click-ache!! Plus I’m off out with Reini for the last of our 33 scheduled ‘date nights’.

A lot can happen in 1001 days and some of the goals lose their appeal or their importance as life evolves. But there are a few tasks from my list that I would very much still like to do:

The New List?:

      • Make soap with the kids (I’ve even bought the ingredients but the kids are rarely all here at the same time).
      • Try belly dancing (I need to get fit first).
      • Take a pottery course (hopefully my pot won’t slide to the ground like my arrow did😉 ).
      • Publish my book (I need to edit it first!).
      • Write a children’s story.
      • Cook a goose (my foodie section was my most successful section but I didn’t manage this one, I am a bit intimidated about cooking a goose properly, especially because I have no idea how it’s supposed to taste).
      • Go to Insel Mainau.
      • Go to Herrenchiemsee.
      • Go to Poland (this year we went to Hungary instead but I would love to do a city break in Poland).
      • Do car boot sales with the kids.
      • Write up my recipes.
      • Floating (I have vouchers now – I just haven’t been able to ‘fit it in’).
      • And put up that picture frame – why have I not done this? I do admit I did have pictures printed off at one point, but in the wrong size, deary me).

Thank you so much for all of your support. Luckily I’d also gone against my husband’s wishes and periodically uploaded photos to Facebook so here are a few visual reminders of the last 1001 days/143 weeks/33 months. Enjoy!