Tag Archives: Food

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Things aren’t going swimmingly at the moment…


Things aren’t going swimmingly at the moment.

The house looks like a bomb went off in it.

Yesterday, I was away the whole day. Doctors in the morning. Pick up the littlest kid from Kindergarten and then take said kid, as promised, for a bit of one-to-one-time back into town for lunch and then a trip to a local museum, that apparently, has been there for four years, but we had yet to discover. I couldn’t believe that I’d missed it. Being a museum lover and all that.

And to top it all, the best bit of it is: it’s a children’s museum. So having four of the things, I found that rather disturbing – that I’d managed to miss it.

In my defence, I was probably too busy being confused by the one way system in that part of town to notice a great big building with Museum written on it, beside me.

We returned home after a long and tiring day (it started very early, Joni having to catch a bus at 6.45 for a school trip to Strasbourg and, of course, she required a mammoth packed lunch for the journey, as you do when you’re sitting there, not using up any calories) followed by chucking a couple of kids out of the door and wishing them a nice day at school.

I have no idea how Akasha (who’s presently in her last year at Kindergarten) will ever get ready for school on time. She starts in September. I’m dreading September. It’s not so much that she goes along at a snails pace in the mornings. No. It’s more that she’s ‘busy’ doing more important things than eating breakfast or getting dressed or brushing her teeth. Like singing or drawing or putting yellow (her favourite colour at the moment) nail polish on the table her nails. I admit, I have indulged her. Taking her to feed the ducks before Kindergarten or reading her a story. The pattern has stuck and I have no idea how we will shake ourselves out of it.

As I said, we had an early start, but we were still running late for my doctors appointment. So much so that I had to drive to Kindergarten and abandon the car there – then race to the bus stop. I’m sure that confirmed, for many of the parents, that I am, as they suspected: a right loony.

I abandoned the car and ran for the bus and just made it by the skin of my teeth (that’s an odd saying isn’t it, enamel could have been more appropriate?) but there is method in my madness. Parking is expensive in town and so it’s much cheaper for me to buy a day ticket and go from one bus to another and, of course, it’s environmentally friendly too.

But yesterday it was freezing. And freezing at bus stop after bus stop is not really my idea of great fun.

I completed all of my patiently duties in town, missed the bus and went for a nice warm coffee and a bun. I decided that I had earned it. Having walked past several empty bus stops along the way in an effort to keep warm. Besides, as I’m the only person I know who actually lost weight over Christmas (thanks there to the delightful Mr Crohn) I can absolutely shovel a bun or two into my rashed face (yep, also a Crohn gift) and I headed into a nearby warm and welcoming looking coffee shop.

I ordered myself a Latte Macchiato, yum, and a piece of ‘homemade’ banana loaf. As I was admiring the loaf through the glass though, I noticed it contained nuts. They looked like walnuts, which I also put in my own banana loaf, but I knew I had to check, because of my peanut allergy.

“There could be peanuts in it, ” the assistant answered, aloof.

Bitterly disappointed I eyed up the other cakes on display. The fruit tarts. The doughnuts. The cheesecakes. The brownies. The muffins.

She watched me, then injected, “There could be peanuts in any of them. You should have something savoury. A bagel. You could have one of these bagels.”

She waved her arm at the bagels menu behind her as if she was on commission.

I almost fell into her trap. But right then, as I was about to take the plunge, I held myself back. I wanted something sweet. Not savoury. Without peanuts. Why would there be peanuts in doughnuts? Did they have such a sloppy kitchen? Why did she have no idea what her ‘homemade’ banana loaf contained? Did she just fire in any old ingredients?

I rejected her sales pitch and opted for ‘just coffee’ and stretched into my bag to pull out a tissue to wipe away my little tear of sadness. Except, when I looked down I noticed some-bloody-body had already been there and had only left me the snotty ones.

I arrived back at Kindergarten ten minutes before the door would open. I stood there, shivering. Chilled to my very core. I knew I didn’t have time to drive the car home and then walk back to the Kindergarten, get my child ready and sit us both on the 12:15 bus which, I’d arranged, as an extra treat, to meet my husband on. We’d agreed to lunch together with the small one.

Yep. The weather page read at that moment ‘feels like -10°C’ and we’d agreed to do the clever thing, and take our daughter for her favourite food: sushi.

Few people had the same idea, it has to be said. There were only three full tables in the restaurant including ours but we managed to keep them busy. Akasha dropped and smashed an almost full glass of apple juice mixed with lemonade upon their once un-sticky floor.

I think they noticed my shattered nerves, or perhaps it was actually my frostbitten body that did it, whatever, they came over – bearing free coffee.

We apologized with intensity and left a large tip along with the shards of glass behind us.

We waited around for a few minutes then waved the man of the house off as he boarded his bus.

Upward and onward to the museum.

I thought it would be small and over briefly but I had to drag a six year old out at closing time. She could only be persuaded to leave the building by promises of returning soon and being smacked by the realization that the workers had themselves homes to go to and children to see. Although, I suspect in all honesty, that most of their children would have already left home by now. But the children thing still works for Akasha, so I still use it. She hasn’t progressed much in the guessing age abilities yet. I know this because I played a game with her recently in which I asked her if she thought the OAP along our street was older or younger than Mummy she clearly and excitedly yelled out “younger”. I know my rash has taken over my face, but please?!?

As the museum trip had taken longer than expected I had taken a slight panic attack about the older children, who had late school, and so I called my husband to take responsibility on that front. The charge on my mobile was yet again running out and so I couldn’t phone backwards and forwards. He also had to get home to prepare himself for the one-in-Strasbourg’s parent evening.

Sitting on the bus on the way home finally, my mobile rang, but refused to let me answer since I didn’t have enough juice. I could see my husband had called. That he had left a message. But I couldn’t get into it or call him back.

I felt nervous as my daughter quizzed me about her future school days, “What should I do Mummy, if someone accidentally punches me in the eye at school?”

To be clear, I wasn’t worrying about someone accidentally punching her in the eye. As I told her, I don’t think, statistically, that that is very likely to happen. But if it should, she could just go and tell the teacher. (Although, Lori did once get a crutch in the mouth when she was just walking along, minding her own business, down the school corridor. She did require medical treatment. I didn’t have the car as my husband had needed it for work, and because I live approximately 2km from school, the poor teacher had to take her to the doctor. I say poor because when they finally arrived at my door, Lori stood there, face covered in blood and with a thick lip and the teacher stood there, chalk white repeating the words, “She can scream really loudly…” over and over in some kind of shocked trance.) I was worried why my husband had called. Had something happened? Was he at home? Were the children home alone? Had he missed the bus?

We descended from the bus and shivered all the way to Kindergarten, where Akasha had a sudden burst of energy and started racing towards the car.

That’s when I heard the screams. And wails.

“The car’s been stolen!”

I ran after her and panic engulfed me.

Why had I abandoned the car at Kindergarten?

Had I locked the car?

How would we manage without the car?

How do I get in touch with the insurance?

Why do I always forget to charge my mobile phone?

How would Reini get to the parent evening?

Then my brain clicked a little.

I took the hand of the despairing one and dragged her in the direction of home. “Perhaps Daddy’s taken the car,” I proposed, “Perhaps he’s already off to the parent evening. I told him where I left the car at lunch, do you remember? And that would explain his call.”

I chatted as she whined most of the way home. We approached the house. The lights blazed but no car could be seen outside.

We entered the house to two cheery children. Papa had just left the building and the merry ones were about to set off to Fire Service Training.

Importantly: he had the car.

I’d forgotten about Fire Service. More one-to-one-time spotted an ever-enthusiastic-fourth-child.

I abandoned the idea of a bone-warming-bath and settled down next to her on the sofa to watch house programmes. (I’ve carefully nurtured the nosey instinct in her, so much so, she actually once opened the cupboards in someone’s house we were invited to – for a birthday party – needless to say, we weren’t invited back.)

◊◊◊

Things aren’t going swimmingly at the moment.

I think, perhaps, I spend too much time in the company of children.

I looked at the bomb site and told the young ones that there would be no lunch unless they cleared the mess from the table. (Joni being in Strasbourg and Lori being at her drama class.)

Their tummies rumblingly persuaded them and we finally sat down to lunch.

The conversation went something like this:

“Would you like to try some of this, Akasha?” I pointed to a pot of fig mustard on the table.

“OK… Yuck it’s too spicy!!”

“Of course it is, it’s mustard. You don’t like mustard. Ooh it’s really spicy, I think I just got a bit of chili!” responded her brother.

My head was slightly furrowed at that point, “It’s fig mustard. There’s not any chili in it.”

“Have I tried mustard before?” wondered the smallest person in the house.

I changed the subject slightly, “Can you guess which country this mustard was made in?”

Aden blurted, “Germany?”

Me, “No…”

“Afghanistan???” Keenly.

“No. Could you sit properly on your chair please.”

Aden was swinging his chair to the side, thus hovering diagonally across from his plate.

Unsurprisingly, the ADHD one was incredibly surprised to learn that the mustard was made in our neighbouring country: Switzerland.

The cheese, the butter, the drinks were all analyzed to see where they originated. Then he turned to his full glass.

I had a little flashback to yesterday’s lunch and stretched out my hand quickly.

“Yesterday Akasha smashed a glass, didn’t you Akasha?”

“I smashed a light bulb at Fire Service. It was really cool. It exploded (inclusive exploding noises). It wasn’t a good idea to wash the fire engine outside though. The water froze up and we had to scrape it off (accompanied by noises and rigorous scraping gestures).” Aden revealed with much excitement.

“Could you sit nicely on your chair please, Aden?” The chair was swinging quite vigorously and I could see him landing, quite possibly with half the table contents, on the floor.

“What’s a cubic millimetre?” Aden suddenly quizzed.

“It’s a three dimensional measurement.”

???

“A one dimensional measurement would be…” I glanced around the table, then picked up a tub of soya margarine (made in Germany), “this side of the carton. A two dimensional measurement, like centimetre squared would be this side times this side to calculate how big this area is. And a three dimensional measurement, like cubic millimetre would be this side times this side times this side and that calculation would tell you the space in the whole carton.”

“Like the size of a room?”

“Yes!” I enthused.

“Can I go to bed? I feel tired now.”

“Yes.” I knock back another swig of cola, my last attempt at staying awake. I know he’s off to his room to do something. But I’m genuinely too tired to ask what.

He leaves the room.

“Why don’t you whistle?” demands a sweet, but, well, demanding Akasha.

I should have said:

I’m too busy.

I’m too busy dragging children from museums and being friendly to the environment.

I’m too busy sitting on the loo and telling people to do their homework and to sit on their chair properly and thinking up cool ideas for English lessons.

I’m too busy listening to the storyteller in my head.

I’m too busy being refused buns in coffee shops and washing mud splattered fire suits and driving back and forth to ballet classes and applauding completed puzzles and baking homemade banana loaf and avoiding mirrors revealing face rashes and it may just be, that lately, I got a little bit too stressed to whistle.

I’m sorry baby.

But I was always crap at whistling, how about I try singing a little more instead?

Mother hysteria: The curious case of the caught nipple


Reini’s evening started something like this:

His one and only son called him at work and announced, “There’s been an accident… In the kitchen… With the mixing machine… And Mum…”

I should probably admit to you, at this point, that we have recently been playing rather a lot of Cluedo.

◊◊◊

I’ve just risen out of a calming bath (despite at least two children being in the room at any one time, babbling) and looking down at my naked body I can see a few tell-tale signs of the week gone by.

For instance, my lower right leg champions five, yes five, bruises. All attained crawling through tunnels and up and down ladders at Sensapolis (I am still completing my challenges ) on Sunday. There are probably a fair few lumps and bumps on my head too because if I wasn’t bashing my right leg then I was beating my skull against something.

My left knee has a long, bloody looking scratch above it, but I can’t remember for the life of me what exactly I scraped it on.

The melted skin on my right palm, from Wednesday’s omelette pan, can barely be seen. And no longer hurts. Thank goodness. I guess it fades into insignificance across from the centimetre long blister, that rose up today, on my left wrist.

But the ordeal my right nipple went through this evening is completely invisible.

◊◊◊

It’s the last day of the mid-term holidays and I was determined to fulfil dreams.

Some wanted to feed the ducks, so we did that.

Others wanted to cook and to bake. So we poured through recipe books and opted for home-made Minestrone Soup with Pesto, and Banana and Walnut Loaf along with Blueberry Muffins. We shoved a shopping trolley around the supermarket and jammed it with ingredients.

Some wanted to play Cluedo. Again.

Some wanted to relax with a foot spa and a massage.

And one person wanted to be read to.

The latter dreams were abandoned. Their mother was too busy drinking vodka after the terrible shock.

◊◊◊

I’m not sure when the fluster started.

I think it was definitely after Aden pricked Akasha with a knife when they were simultaneously chopping mangetout, for lunch.

Yes. I remember still being quite rational in the afternoon. Despite shopping with two bouncy, blabbering children.

I recall though, being somewhat distressed when I opened a cupboard and a spiderman cup threw itself at me. Although what I was actually looking for was a bowl. And I had not been the one to stack him up on top of a much smaller mug. He still attacked me, then fell sharply to the floor, smashing himself to smithereens. I did shout a little when I couldn’t find the dustpan and brush until I’d rooted around in the paper bin. I quietened down once I switched the vacuum on for the second time in a couple of hours. There’s not much point in trying to be heard by those who try not to listen over that noise.

Oh. I know when it was. It was the moment I looked at the time remaining on the timer and realised we had to move up a gear if we wanted to get the soup on and the next cake ready for the oven before the ‘ready’ beep would sound. Too much time had been wasted clearing up broken crockery and searching for tools.

That was the precise instant that my feathers ruffled.

I raised my game. I had one mashing bananas and one washing leeks and one peeling carrots and another weighing out sugar. I raced between them, firing out both instruction and praise in my effort to motivate and march on. I flicked through recipe books. Provided chopping boards and compost bags.

The muffins screeched out about their baked-ness but we were not done. Not by a long shot.

I ran to the oven, purple gloves covering my hands recalling my blunder from earlier in the week *do not pick up hot pan with bare hands, silly*.

I removed the buns from the top shelf and decided, in a split second, to leave the second tray in, for a couple more minutes but only after placing them on the top shelf for good measure.

As I moved in for the manoeuvre I clipped my left wrist on the side of the shelf. Ouch!

I’m an impatient burnt person. I don’t do well with holding my hand/finger/wrist under a cold tap for any period of time. I normally burn myself while cooking and that generally means that I’m still in the midst of it or it’s ready to eat and so my instinct is to get on with it.

So, I have, in my many burned experiences, developed a technique. I shove the blistering skin under the cold tap for a minute or so, then I pop a tea towel into the cold running water, let it soak up the coldness for a few seconds, wring it out a bit and wrap it around the affected area. Ta-dah! I can work on and cool my injury at the same time.

I wrapped my wrist and ran across the kitchen to a bowl of sugar and marg. and a whisk and started beating them together.

That’s, I guess, when my multi-tasking got too much for me.

I was standing there quite the thing. Cooling and mixing and glancing at the recipe book and ordering around talking to children. Admiring carefully chopped walnuts and apologising again for pricking Akasha with the knife while chopping up the courgettes ten minutes before.

The margarine and sugar were almost creamed and I slowed the electric whisk down and pondered over my mixture.

Just a few seconds more. And this stage would be complete.

I glanced away. What’s next?

I called out to the kid with the other recipe book.

I hit the switch to turn the power off, but not quite enough, so instead of switching off, it just carried on whirling at the lowest setting. But I hadn’t noticed, distracted, I tried to set it down. On the table top. It tipped to the side and rolled out of the bowl.

I still had the handle loosely in my hand so I tightened it and tried to take control.

I outstretched my fingers and flicked at the power switch again.

But in the wrong direction.

The beaters whirled and whizzed and the machine turned itself around to face me.

The rest is a bit of a blur. Thank God. I remember the beaters, somehow, catching a hold of the bottom of my top.

And my top twirling around and around in her spokes.

It was like she climbed up me.

Wrapped herself in my clothes.

And then she went for it.

My right nipple.

I don’t know what to say.

How to describe it.

There was pain.

And screaming.

A lot of screaming.

Mostly from me.

But also from four children.

There was also some giggling.

There was fear.

My fear.

Of losing a nipple.

To an electric whisk.

To an electric whisk.

How the fuck could I explain that to the ambulance men?

I whisked my nipple?

There was turning. And Whirling.

And I kept trying to hit the switch in the wrong bloody direction.

There was no blood. No blood at all.

My son My hero pulled the plug from the socket and it all stopped.

There was no more turning and whirling.

No blood.

The pain left.

Shock I supposed.

Hands helped. Unravelled. My top. And my nipple.

I yelled around for people to check if my nipple was still intact.

And it was.

I laughed.

And I cried.

Hysterically.

I cupped my precious nipple and they poured vodka down my throat and in the background I heard a boys voice saying, “There’s been an accident… In the kitchen… With the mixing machine… And Mum…”

I’ve made the decision, now it’s just the sticking to it


Friday, really was a truly hilarious day.

One of those days in fact, when you just think: It doesn’t get better than this.

It went along something like this:

I thought I had it covered. I had a list and everything.

Really. I started off in a nice relaxed mood this morning, as my husband took my son to the clinic for me, in order to have him weighed and pick up his new prescription. He’s not a baby. He’s 12. But apparently he needs to be popped on the scales so we can be given the drugs that stop him climbing out of windows and unhanging doors and unscrewing toilet seats and stashing empty, moulding milk cartons in his wardrobe and hiding homework in random bushes. My son has severe ADHD, you see.

It wasn’t enough to be popped on the scales in 19 days at his next actual appointment. The receptionist said that he needs to come in today.

I have a deep fondness for receptionists.

Anyway, I felt confident this morning. And very excited. Though somewhat nervous. Especially given that I have four children and I regularly spend oodles of time with receptionists.

You see, I have finally come to my decision, I have signed up to NaNoWriMo.

The whole signing up caused me so much giddiness this morning that I began the day by pouring milk into the sugar bowl, instead of onto my cereal.

No matter. I rinsed it out and giggled gleefully.

I checked off my updated list ‘rinse milk out of sugar bowl’ and called the eye doctor.

You guessed right. I wanted to grab an earful have a chat with another receptionist. I’ve been collecting styes again. Thanks to my immune suppressants.

Unfortunately, she refused to reply so I had to settle with ‘attempt to buy shoes for two children’.

I bundled an array of legs and elbows into the car and proceeded to drive right past the shoe shop. Toward the eye doctor, in fact.

I turned the car around and chuckled to alarmed used-to-it legs and elbow owners (I did try to blame it on the book) and managed to buy gym shoes for one child.

My list had included a plan to purchase ingredients for and prepare in advance a few healthy meals, to ease my duties in November.

On tasting I discovered, however, that I’d forgotten to put the beans in the minestrone and I’d left the carrot and orange soup stockless.

Then my helpful teenager chopped the tomatoes but left them on the tabletop instead of popping them into the pasta sauce with the rest of the ingredients.

It bubbled away for its full 45 minutes before I actually managed to notice.

But still, determined, I ploughed on making a lovely tomato tart except the pastry refused to be separated from the buttered flan dish so I found myself forced into chilling it for tomorrow instead of freezing it for next month.

Meanwhile my generous five-year old shovelled out the chilli.

I attempted again to call the eye doctor but as it turns out he’s off on holiday for just over a week. Not enamoured at the thought of yet another pusy eye I decided to contact my GP. Well you know what I mean. His receptionist.

I got through but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of my stye prescription so she insisted I call the chemist where I regularly pick up my eye drops.

Naturally, I called the wrong chemist who had no idea whatsoever what I was blabbering on about.

But at least she kindly gave me the number for my actual pharmacist.

As it turns out I still don’t know my German letters properly (even though I have lived here for a full eight years) so I had to ask a couple of times, then wrote down z’s and f’s and y’s where there were absolutely none.

I tried to call the receptionist back, but she’d intermittently had the cheek to take another call, so the line, naturally was engaged. I hung around, with all the time in the world, recooking sauces and burning my tongue off in the chilli comparison test.

A few minutes later she answered my call and I listed out z’s and f’s and y’s where there absolutely were none and she refused to give me any medicine. With hindsight I’m pleased. What if it had been the name of a real medication for vaginal warts or something and I’d have glooped it into my eye?

I apologised profoundly for being an idiot foreigner and I called the chemist all over again.

I explained, you know, that I’m an idiot foreigner and that although this is now my home country I can’t even get the alphabet right and she took mercy on me and offered to spell out the name again.

Cleverly I had intercepted my own stupidity and I had asked the internet what possible medications could be offered to me by my friendly chemist.

The internet had given me a multiple choice of answers but with the help of the lovely lady and one non-pusy eye I managed to work out which medication I should take.

I called the engaged receptionist.

Finally, I spoke to her. I thanked her for her patience and lack of dispensation of vaginal wart cream and she sympathetically offered to have the prescription ready in half an hour.

I told her that although I couldn’t wait for our next meeting, I actually could because I needed to find beans for the minestrone and pick up my sons ADHD medication.

When I finally returned home, I opened my sons pills to see they had only given us enough to last us for 12.5 days. Even though our next appointment isn’t for 19 days.

Better still, we must order the tablets four whole days before we need them.

I started to clean and prepare for tomorrow’s lesson with my new student. I looked forward to making ‘novel notes’.

Then the phone rang.

Head lice alert.

I spent the following two hours dragging a bloody nit comb through conditioned hair.

I’m happy to report those two wasted hours that thorough search revealed not a single louse in the house.

I live the high life, I tell you.

We’re not quite ready for butterfly wings yet


I’m living with a very hungry caterpillar.

I let my five-year old stay home from Kindergarten today, as this morning, her cold seemed to have swallowed her voice completely. In all honesty, a mere whisper troubled her.

Now, you might suspect, if you’re not a mother, or if you have normal children, that that would mean a quiet morning for me. But you would be wrong.

Not only has she been attempting to chat me to insanity, she’s also had me running backwards and forwards to the kitchen.

At 8:15 she ate (not just through but) a whole slice of bread with Nutella. But she was still hungry.

At 9:32 she sucked on a spoon of propolis honey which had been freshly bought, at the beekeepers, by her adoring and concerned mother at 9:16. Her eyes lit up like Pooh bears do when he walks past a hive…

After some squeaky persuasion, at 9:47 she munched her way through a bowl of honey pops, drenched in milk. But she complained, that she was still hungry.

At 9:59 her mother caved in and fed her a large,  juicy strawberry.

Followed by a small tomato at 10:01.

Then at 10:15 she gulped down a glass of fresh orange juice.

Tormented by the jar of honey, she twisted her mother’s arm encouraged her mother to spread her another slice of bread with the throat-healing cure. She chomped through that at 10:28.

Between 10:47 and 11:08 she munched happily on not one but five physalises.

At 11:12 she swigged back a glass of water.

At 11:15 she demolished a Guinness Record Breakingly large banana.

At 11:29 she gnawed her way through some cheese. But I suspect, that she was still hungry because at 11:45 she was already querying, “What’s for lunch?”

I think my hungry caterpillar is broken.

She isn’t getting any fatter.

Nor is she complaining of a sore tummy or feeling sick.

And quite frankly, there’s no evidence of cocoon building.

Unless, that is, you count her putting up the pop-up tunnel in the lounge yesterday…

November/December Update


My exceedingly long headache has been driving me mad, as you well know, after all, I have been banging on about it, for the best part of November and December. It’s led me to spending far too much time in doctor’s surgeries and far too little time doing housework and washing.

My children are now officially classed as neglected.

Neighbours walk along the river, through the forest, and bounce out-of-the-way of oncoming traffic as they hobble along the cycle path, before carrying their groceries/Christmas shopping/wailing children down the scary steps otherwise known as the back entrance to their homes.

All in an effort to avoid walking by our unpristine house.

I think I saw one brave soul (when I was net-twitching) attempting a quick sprint past. He’d cleverly protected himself with a gas mask…

But even that couldn’t shelter him from the spider web, dangling from the bathroom window. Glistening in the winter sun.

I suspect that is what pushed him over the edge. Into vomiting all over his own patch. I dread to think of the state of that gas mask…

Being a person who likes to be busy, I had to find something other than blogging and reading, listening to the Hoover and wobbling my head around wiping surfaces down, struggling through homework and taxiing around, to do.

I thought just a little bit. Too much thinking with a hurting head helps the head hurting to magnify.

My first thought, naturally, was to find a cure. So I drank water, slept, swallowed pills, and allowed people to stick needles into my head, and other parts of my anatomy.

But my head still hurt.

So then I thought, “A-ha, o-ho!” Distraction is the way to go.

Thus, I put on the telly, with the volume turned down really low. Luckily, I’m not due to have my ears syringed for a while.

And as I was watching, my mind wandered onto my film challenge…

Distraction has led me to working my way through 11 whole films.

  • King of Comedy (An old somewhat freaky film)
  • Salvation Boulevard (Light entertainment)
  • Everything Must Go (Hmmm…)
  • Bad Teacher (Brilliant)
  • ¡Three Amigos! (One from my hubby’s childhood, the five-year-old keeps asking to watch it again and again)
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (Funny)
  • Our Idiot Brother (Funny)
  • Friends with Benefits (Obvious but funny)
  • Mr Popper’s Penguins (Did you know that Jim Carrey has ADHD?)
  • Into the Wild (Parents can really screw you up)
  • Rumour Has It (I liked it)

Yippee!!

I also discovered my headache could be ‘chilled’ by the cold air outside.

So being a fan of the Italians, think Horace rather than  Berlusconi, I decided to take the opportunity. Carpe diem. Seize the day. And took the older girls off to a Medieval Christmas Market. My perseverance saw me rewarded with a chance to complete one of my 101 challenges.

Archery.

And I found out  that I’m absolutely rubbish at it. My girls could have beaten me while standing on their heads with a blindfold on. I was soooo bad the archer actually looked pained with the need to stifle his own laughter.

I guess it was to be expected. I can’t chuck a javelin more than a meter from where I stand. No matter who shows me. No matter how many chances I’m given.

And that time I threw the ‘discus’ will go down in my school’s history, not only as the shortest distance thrown, but also as the only time the ‘discus’ actually hit the team members sitting behind the thrower.

Still, at least the teacher had thoughtfully exchanged the discus for a beanbag.

Spurred on though, by another challenge being struck off, I marched on with the dreaded task of creosoting the shed. OK, OK, it had to be done. The warped building would never have survived another winter.

So hubby, son and mother made a communal effort.

My head stopped aching in the crisp cold air. The pain moved to my arm instead. Variety is the spice of life, you know.

Being in the mood now, for ticking things off, I went online and purchased two Christmas cookbooks. I’ve called one Delia and the other Gordon. Yes, we’re on first name terms now. In fact, I’ve spent the whole of Christmas flapping around the kitchen calling out shrieking, “Where’s Delia?” Or, wailing “Where’s Gordon?”

Christmas has been low-level in the headache stakes and high level in recipe attempts: a very tomatoey Tomatoe Tart, delicious Home-made Truffles, Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Syrup (so good, I’ve already prepared them twice), the divine Scallops with  a Caper, Raisin and Olive Vinaigrette, a crappy Watercress Puree, a fantastic Truffle Mash, and Lasagna al forno the penultimate because it took me six whole hours to cook it. Of course, as soon as they’d stuffed themselves, the children asked, “Could you make that again, Mum?” 😮

My conscience is getting the better of me at the moment. I feel I have to say I may have exaggerated slightly, at the start of this post. I have still been taxiing around. I’ve enrolled Akasha in a ballet class.

But it’s all in a good cause. Another challenge achieved.

It has been two months since my last official update, so to the above I can also add: two new restaurants have been conquered visited (one during a birthday party and one on holiday – both before the headache marathon).

I’ve also stuck to my one date a month promise with my husband.

And I’ve remembered that I forgot to tell you, away back in October, that we nailed the Bronze Age Museum.

Plus, my husband stepped in with the fitness challenge – he purchased me (oh, he’s an adorable man) a cross trainer. It means that I can train as much as I like, whenever I like and I’ve decided to set my challenge as 1001km. As I’m around a third way through my 1001 days it means a little more than 1km per day. I wanted to put in what seems to me like quite a high number of kilometres. However, if I’m doing really well with the challenge, I may increase the total later on.

I’ve also agreed to take on the task of helping out at a local music festival next summer.

Finally, we have even more new challengers!!

Please welcome:

Piglet in Portugal

Helloitsgemma

seashell by the seashore

Things ‘n’ Stuff

Adventures in Mediocrity

Shell Louise

the Thought Palette

Fi’s Mutterings and Mumblings

The Thrill of Anticipation


I am excited.

Really excited.

I mean excited excited.

NO!! Not that kind of excited!

Deary me!

If you’ve been pouring-over inspecting spellbound by paying any attention at all to my 101 list, then you will know that I have a burning desire to take part in a Murder Mystery Dinner.

And my wish ladies and gents…

… Is about to come true.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

Just a teensy-weensy bit?

So much so that I’m even dreaming about it now:

Last night I received a little piece of paper whilst sitting at the dinner table stating: “Killer”.

Thrown into the forefront of the production, with the flow of the apéritif, I began to feel quite proud as my tongue loosened (strangely in English, although I had been expecting a German masterpiece).

Then I ballsed-it-all-up during the first murder. Doing an impression of stabbing another guest (plain for all to see) at ‘The Sicilian Wedding’. Who then, in turn, dramatically fell to the floor.

Luckily I woke up before further embellishing on my own disaster-piece.

So my big break the big day is THIS Saturday. We are invited to have paid an extortionate amount of money to attend a Sicilian Wedding.

We can dress up. 🙂

Like proper wedding guests.

And the whole thing will take place around us. The drama won’t finish until we can successfully discover the killer.

Plus included in the price is a three course slap up dinner. And an apéritif. But I guess we have to pay extra for glugging back the wine.

Did I tell you yet, that I’m excited?

Squeezing it all in


“Mama, guess what I’m thinking, it starts with pffff… pffff… pffff…!”

Is how my week began.

“Fish? Flipper? Fin? Frog?”

Sat on the loo, surrounded by water, I took some inspiration.

Solemn head shakes proved my inabilities as a mind reader.

I thought further afield.

“Fun? Fire? Feather? Film?”

To more shakes.

After a few more desperate attempts including, “Feet?” and “Fly?” I gave up.

Computer!!!”

It really set the pointer for the week. Indeed, it describes my life. I live in a state of constant confusion.

In my disorganised over-stretched totally bloody knackered flustered condition, I have failed miserably and am therefore bringing you my 101 challenges update two whole weeks late.

I’m sure you’ll forgive me when you learn I have actually achieved quite a lot. Especially considering my current somewhat overwrought status. (But then again I have used up four full weeks instead of two?!?)

I’ve been marching on with the film challenge. I’ve watched True Grit (a thumbs up for that one), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (who can’t resist a bit of Johnny Depp?), Igor (fortunately, I slept through the middle bit, but I’m still counting it, after putting up with the torment, yes, it’s that bad), Treasure of Silver Lake (1962) and Winnetou 1. You’re probably thinking what? with the last two. They’re old German westerns and inspired by the fact that we took the kids to a live wild west show (that and my husband sees this challenge as a way to relive his childhood).

I’ve also been to three new restaurants, one as a date-night with a friend and the other two as stop offs to just-eat-something, while running backwards on this old merry-go-round I call life.

I’ve fitted in guinea-pigging my family with four fatifying new recipes including: banana muffins and cheats raspberry ice cream (from my new ‘Give yourself a heart attack’ recipe book).

And talking of food, I’ve landed myself another new challenge. Preparing a healthy playtime snack one Friday at Aden’s school. When asked yesterday at the parents meeting, I put my hand up, offering my help. “I could knock up a few simple muesli bars…” I looked around at all the other heads-and-hands-pointing-firmly-downwards parents, a little taken aback at their unwillingness to assist. All became clear when the teacher enthusiastically oohed and aahed and signed me up with my own blood to provide a healthy snack on my own for, oh, about 100 people. Gulp.

(None of those other mothers showed me the slightest bit of sympathy. They more looked at me with that death-stare expression: ‘you baked your own bed’…)

Excitingly, I also found someone I have not yet eaten sushi with. So ecstatic was I, I dragged the poor woman out of her house that very evening (no chance to back out on me ;-)). We had a delightful time and I think she’s now a convert.

I’ve also squeezed in going to the pool once and the gym twice. I am officially a gym failure. I suspect Michael, the gym master, hates me now.

Fantastically, we have a few new 101ers. Some are typing up their lists as you read this. Others are still to be *officially* added (by me anyway).

But please give a warm welcome to these two newcomers:

DAD TO LIBBS.com
momof8crazymonkeys

One of my challenges is to achieve 50,000 hits on my blog. Now it’s a ridiculous pipedream very tall order but this week the figure loomed rather nearer. I still can’t believe it but this post received a whopping 566 hits. I have had face ache all week, I can tell you.

Thank you!!

Ahoy there me challengees!


Challenge success

Home grown tomatoes
Home grown tomatoes

Phew. I was starting to think that the summer holidays weren’t going well in terms of challenges.

Then I sat down and looked at what I’ve actually done in the last two weeks and I discovered:

Doesn't look anything like radishes
Doesn't look anything like radishes
  • I have posted eight articles
  • I have three new countries: Luxembourg, Mexico and Northern Mariana Islands (I tell you, if I could do a tour of the countries on my flag counter, I really would)
  • I can tick off ‘Grow vegetables and eat them’ because my incredible gardening skills have provided us with: celery, apple, cucumber, tomatoes, and radish beetroot
  • I have been to a crap restaurant
  • Tried a new recipe
  • I took the children on a boat trip on the Danube (and it was really lovely)
  • I’ve added some new challenges

Rubbish restaurant

Crap restaurant
Crap restaurant

After our boat trip, we walked and walked and walked until we reached town. With one clueless optimistic person in high heels. Before walking and walking and walking back to the car, I thought I’d give the blistered one a chance to put her feet up and the unable-to-be-worn-down ones, the opportunity to refuel. After some debating, which included which restaurant had the best shade/ultimate view/comfiest seats/space for five together/least cigarette smoke blowing around – we picked the wrong restaurant. We used the facilities without having to hand over a body part. Then took a pew.

We perused the menu and I decided to have a crêpe. As did my son. Only when he ordered it, we were told that that item on their minuscule menu would not be available until September!?!

So I picked a ‘red and white’, so-called because of its mixture of red berries and white ice cream and frozen yoghurt.

I awaited my fresh and delicious dessert.

I am still waiting.

Apparently, they don’t have any berries and they’re all out of frozen yoghurt.

So I had a coffee.

And shook my head.

New challenges

I’ve been trailing through the internet and going through brochures I’ve collected from all over the place, and discussed it all with the kids and this is what we’ve come up with:

  • A trip to Sensapolis
  • Making soap together
  • Going to the University’s Botanic Gardens (which I had actually thought were closed to the public)
  • Attending a live performance of a Wild West Show (with real horses/stuntmen etc)
  • Visiting a stone age/bronze age museum
  • I also decided I will attempt to teach Akasha to play chess (I know she’s only four, but she keeps asking)

The boat trip

View from the boat
View from the boat

It only took an hour but I think we all really enjoyed it. It was informative and child friendly, but in answer to your question Perfecting Motherhood, no, there was not a loo on board. But three out of four children managed to pee on the grass. And one out of three children succeeded in urinating on her shoes. We’re high achievers in this family, you know.

Missed opportunity

The challenge that Tilly and I truly missed when writing up our initial lists must be this one:

  • Form a group of 101 101ers (2/101)

Because in the last couple of weeks another 3 challengers have joined our group:

Ebony Delights
Manchester Meanders
and Manchester’s Artistic Son

And had we added that challenge, it would now look like this:

  • Form a group of 101 101ers (12/101)

Perhaps we should add it anyway, Tilly?