Dearest Dianne

When I started this blog I didn’t quite know what to expect. I guess that’s the same for everyone.

I guess, at first, I hoped that my family and perhaps a few friends would read it and like it. In the back of my mind, if I’m honest, I hoped that maybe a stranger or two might just read my posts and enjoy them. For me that felt like the ultimate success. I still remember the first ‘stranger’ commenting. I ran around the house shrieking, I was that excited.

Now I have over 1000 followers and I hardly know any of them personally. It’s a massive compliment.

But the hugest surprise of all is the new friendships that I’ve made. I can’t even begin to tell you how important you fellow bloggers have become to me. I think about you and your problems. You make me laugh out loud with your comments and your own posts. I learn from you. I rejoice at your achievements and feel sad when things go wrong in your lives.

Some of you have become Facebook buddies. Others like to email. A few of you have even sent me thoughtful gifts which have meant the world to me.

The blogosphere is a truly incredible world to be a part of. And I thank you all for every contribution.

One blogger who truly stood out for me was Dianne of Schmidleysscribblins.  She regularly commented on my blog and I loved to read hers. She was smart and funny. Passionate about plants, politics and her family.

Sadly on the 24th of March, 2017 Dianne passed away.

I am filled with great sadness. She was a truly awesome, inspirational lady. And I for one, will miss her greatly.

Today would have been her 75th birthday. Her daughter has written a beautiful eulogy for her and posted it on Dianne’s blog here.

Dianne inspired me with her love of her garden. Finally, I managed to grow some kind of lily. It only bloomed for a couple of days, but it did bloom!!

This is for you Dianne, with love.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” – John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent






My blog is 2!!!!

Today is a very special day for me.

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers for all the lovely comments.

Sláinte for your continued reading.

Zum Wohl for signing up en masse.


Santé, you know I love you, right?

Proost. Where was I?

Ah, yes. Chin chin. 😎

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

To be continued…

(… after some coffee).

Do you agree with the death penalty?

WordPress asked:

Do you agree with the death penalty? Is it ever right to kill? And under what circumstances? Is it worth the risks of being wrong?

Yes, actually, I do.

And my circumstances are extremely specific. I agree with the death penalty for someone who has murdered more than one person.

You may now wonder, but why not for someone who has been proven to have committed murder once? A fair question. I think that there can be a lot of reasons for a one-off killing. A constantly abused wife. Self-preservation. Jealousy. Financial hardship (a gun going off in a robbery, for example). Snapping over because of psychological problems.

I believe these people should be punished if deemed necessary but also be helped so they have the possibility to one day be a valuable member of the community again.

But a person who repeatedly takes the life of another, in my mind does not deserve to have life themselves. They have forfeited that right by their own actions.

To allow them to live puts the public and also other prisoners and prison workers at risk.

Keeping them in prison, at the tax-payers expense, for the rest of their lives, for me, is not the correct answer.

I also think that the families of the murder victims deserve closure.

They deserve to know that what they have to live with, no one else will go through at that perpetrators hands.

A friend of mine was murdered. He went to a concert, happy, free. He left his friends to nip to the loo. He did not return.

He was stabbed by a ‘high’ teenager in an unprovoked attack.

The perpetrator got life imprisonment, which in Scotland means that he could already be out on parole.

I hope that he’s had therapy and has turned his life around. That he’s suffered the consequences of his actions and now wants to make a go of his life.

But were he to kill again, I would want him quite simply, deleted.

*Wherever you are Colin, I hope you have found peace. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten.*

What does love mean to you?

The WP prompter asked:

What does love mean to you?

Nine years ago, this week, I met a man as I staggered stood outside a nightclub waiting for my plastered very nice friend to return with the coat she had carelessly abandoned unfortunately misplaced.

She attempted to drag me away from the stranger danger, but I had fallen into his eyes, been sucked into his heart and had begun the fusion of our two lost souls during her short absence.

But that’s not what love means to me.

We kissed. There were fireworks. I slept a mere two hours, then paced the floor for two more, while I waited for his call.

He simultaneously wore footprints into his carpet, until he could wait no more.

Neither is that, what love means to me.

We met a few hours later. We held hands and we talked and talked.

Three years younger than me, he had already decided, he did not want children. I had three.

He had no intention of marriage. Not in his lifetime. He instead had his eye on a Porsche on return to his homeland, Germany. Which would be in a years time.

I felt free. I didn’t need a man. In my bed or holding my hand. The world was my oyster. I had good friends. A happy life.

We smiled and we talked and we kissed again.

After about six weeks, due to work commitments, we couldn’t see each other for a week. We were devastated and had then the first of many, “We need to stop this, this is insanity!” discussions.

Apparently, both completely bonkers, we continued and a lucky opportunity meant his contract was extended for a year.

We decided we’d enjoy our moment.

Some of the moments became sad. We didn’t want to leave each others arms at night, when my children would return.

Some tears were shed.

OK. OK. Only mine. (But he was sad).

And now I’m coming to the love bit…

We had another, “We need to split or be certified…” discussion. But this time it ended differently.

It went something like this: “…split or be certified or get married.”

And I snogged his face off and said, “Yes, yes, yes!!!”

But now for the real love bit.

We married and he answered with four yes’s.

We packed up our flats and moved to Germany. I left most of my belongings behind. But I took all three children.

He agreed to full financial responsibility for my children. He agreed to full emotional responsibility for my children. (And even worse, he agreed to full emotional responsibility for me) (I blame his youth and inexperience).

We bought him a matchbox Porsche. He spoilt us with furniture, toys and an abundance of shoes.

And there’s more.

He attends parent evenings, even though he hates them.

He babysits when I want to go out with my friends, or fly to Scotland for a wedding.

He worries about university fees.

He cooks after a full days work, when I’m having a bad day. Without even a tut of a complaint.

He laughs at my jokes.

He agreed to giving me my longed for fourth child.

He searched high and low for a pink watch for my son for his fourth birthday, because he really wanted a pink watch, and no one else wanted to indulge that fantasy. (Except for me).

He’s taken the kicks, the comparisons to daddy, the tantrums, the mania, the depressions and the frustrations of an ADHD boy. And still comes back for more.

He strides through hormonal outbursts.

He even cleans the loo.

That, my friends, is what love means to me.

The party – not

It all started with the bloody salad.

I asked Joni what she wanted to do for her 16th birthday and she informed me that she’d like a big party. Not just with her friends, but also with mine. My friends are pretty cool, I learned. I had suspected exactly that fact myself, to be honest.

When we totted up the numbers and guestimated how many people would actually attend, we figured between 45 and 50.


I’ve learned since living in Germany, that it’s always best to plan for the higher number of guests. Besides, I freak out about there not being enough to eat at every single event we host. My approach nowadays is to go with the motto ‘more is good’.

Now, cooking for 50 is not the simplest task, so we opted for a barbecue and salad. That also fitted well with Joni’s interpretation of a ‘chilled’ party.

So the perfect plan evolved:

  • Guests to arrive at a time suited to them, but after 3pm
  • Pavilions in the garden to protect from sun/rain
  • Coffee/hot chocolate/cake in the afternoon
  • Salad/BBQ in the early evening
  • Karaoke in the later evening, with dried snacks and leftover cake

What could go wrong?

It started with the bloody salad.

A few days before the party, as I listed down recipes of cous cous salad and mozzarella salad, as I entertained images of luscious salad leaves and dipping cucumber in hummus, the news transmitted: E.coli had broken out in Northern Germany and we shouldn’t trust leaves or tomatoes or cucumbers.

Leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers were in every single recipe I’d listed. All those lovely recipes which could be made on the morning of the party and then just sit in the fridge, awaiting consumption.

I tore up my list and stared at a blank page. I sent out alarm calls on Facebook.

Then the news said, “Stop! Wait!”

“Perhaps it isn’t the fault of the rosy red tomato, the crunchy, crisp cucumber or the satisfying, luscious salad leaves. No. Perhaps the fault is actually that of another raw vegetable. But sorry, we’re at a loss as to which one. Perhaps you should still avoid the lettuce and the cucumber and the tomato. Because we don’t really know and people are dying.”

The panic rose in me slightly.

Should I give my guests a bunch of frozen vegetables?

Should I just pop a multi-vitamin tablet in a little schnapps glass and be done with the whole sorry situation?

For a while, I focused on potato salad. After all, the potatoes would be cooked, wouldn’t they? But to be honest, I felt very nervous. Potato salad is a traditional dish here. And I’ve only ever made it a few times. And never perfectly. Everyone, in these here parts, has an opinion on how the perfect potato salad should taste and what consistency it should have. And my husbands opinion is one of the loudest. I felt very anxious about doing it wrong. Friends encouraged me. But my husband looked a little scared at the prospect and told me, in the nicest possible way,  how it’s “a lot of work” and “so difficult to get right” and that I “don’t have the correct potatoes” (I did fight back – we didn’t have any potatoes, I would have to buy the correct potatoes, naturally). But I ‘got’ his mistrust of my cooking gentle concern. So, I opted out of the potato salad choice.

My anxiety rose as the days went by and then, two days before the party, we attended someone else’s birthday celebration.

My friend had also found herself faced with exactly the same problem and had solved it by offering watermelon and freshly picked strawberries from a local strawberry field.

Aha! I thought. Aha!

A new list started. I decided we could also barbecue vegetables like peppers, courgettes, aubergines and corn.

Now, you may have thought that, considering that I had spent my previous days philosophising about the safety of vegetables, attending parties (we also attended another party earlier that week), doing challenges from my 101 list, as well as the normal stuff like yelling around about homework and taking children to the doctors, that I would have, at this point, felt some blind panic about the state of the house (apparently I have forgotten how to do housework) and the work that I had to do to get my house in order.

But no. Instead of obsessing about the disarray my house was in, what I actually did was focus on the weather. Yes. The weather. Because at the beginning of the week we had heat and glorious sunshine, but the forecast for the end of the week looked decidedly uncertain. The idea of rain was entertained, then a few days later the proposition of a storm was offered.

Pavilions do protect against slight rain, as in, drizzle. But I can tell you, they will be blown away in a storm, offering no protection whatsoever to the windswept guest, sitting at the collapsible table underneath.

And although my living room is a nice size, with furniture and 50 guests the saying ‘sardines in a tin’ came fretfully to mind. Certainly, there would be no space for dancing to accompany the wailing harmonies on the karaoke mike. No. And I have to tell you, my feet can’t stay still when I hear a musical beat (except that lift music – then I just hold my hands over my ears and scream “Please, oh please switch it off!”). Which would therefore mean that Joni’s guests would not only have been squashed, but they would have been bruised and battered, too.

As I previously said, you may have thought I would have been cleaning the house for days on end before the ascendation of so many guests. But actually, I wasn’t. And when I wasn’t staring at blank recipe lists, swearing at Facebook or studying meteorology, I could be found planting things in the garden. I have to tell you that through the 101 challenges, I am starting to really ‘dig’ my garden. Pardon the pun.

My husband, lovely as he is, excused my behaviour. He told me, “There’s no point in cleaning anyway, they’ll,” a finger pointed towards those pesky precious kids, “just mess it up again!”

Anyway, I thought to myself, “We’ll have all of Friday to clean and some of Saturday, too…

… Although we’ll have to put up the pavilions as well, decorate, bake cakes and go to the florist. Joni, herself, has drama rehearsals so can’t really help, and Lori’s off on a school project… But there will still be time to go strawberry picking, shopping for all of the party food and drink, make up the guest room and prepare the veg. My husband has the Friday off . All will be well…”

Looking back I wonder if I was in some dazed, exhausted state, too tired to actually be fazed by the whole thing.

Friday morning arrived and Aden, my adorable son, thoughtfully reminded me that today is the day the classes are presenting their projects. Song, dance and artwork were to be celebrated and he expected us both to be there. Proud parents. He’d given himself the role of security guard in his classroom, so that none of his playmobil figures “would be nicked!”

Of course, I had forgotten, just like I’d forgotten to collect and take the arty objects for the project to school the week before.

Damn my memory!

“Yes, we’ll come. Of course, we’ll be there.”

And we were. And the whole morning was gone. Sunk. Lost. As far as party preparations were concerned.

We ate lunch together. The four of us. The two little ones, my husband and I. And I must admit that I felt somewhat twitchy. The two older girls wouldn’t be home for hours yet and on arrival, the party girl herself would have to go into study mode as she had an exam on the Monday, plus homework to do, no doubt. My two most valuable workers were currently unavailable, but my two demolishers little ones were 100% present and correct.

I perused my list and decided that the first job should be picking strawberries. The small ones could help and after that we could then head on to the florist with the little vases I’d bought in the One-Euro shop. I wanted the florist to prepare a simple centrepiece for each of the three collapsible tables.

I borrowed money from the children, having realised I had none left of my own and we set off with a large white bowl, but without the three small white vases.

The strawberry field looked empty, but ever the optimist, I insisted that we all leave the car and then my son spotted the notice ‘Closed until Saturday’. Apparently the strawberries needed to ripen somewhat.

My heart pounded. Another job for Saturday. OK.

Florist. Not OK. No vases.

So we drove home to my husbands unnecessarily cheery, “You were quick!” and picked up the vases.

It seems to me, that there happens to be a direct correlation between having to be somewhere with a matter of some urgency and something happening, like, for example, getting stuck behind a tractor or in this case me being unable to park my car.

I drove in and out of the space, probably thirty times, stopping for passing traffic and hanging around until ‘waiters’ finally realised I wasn’t relinquishing my space, just practising driving backwards and forwards into it.

Probably, I’m now on one of those ‘women parking’ videos on youtube.

The flowers looked lovely, but I’ll be honest and tell you they’d all withered somewhat by the next day, as, true to form, I’d forgotten to put water in the base of the vases.

My husband had started making a banoffee pie, but I still had to start my baking as I needed a small amount of one specific flour type from the supermarket. Had I been more organised, I could have actually baked the dough a few days in advance, as advised in the recipe.

My husband took a cooking break and we headed off to the supermarket, with a comprehensive list and two tearaways. Then the battle really commenced as we propelled our way around the aisles with not one but two trolleys.

Every two minutes the battle cry could be heard, “No, you’re not having that, we’re buying for the party!!!”

We strove towards enemy lines (in the form of the checkout) and at around that point my mobile rang.

My sweet sixteen year old, was not her usual calm, chilled self, rather she would be better described as near hysterical.

Her younger sister Lori, had called home and decided that she did not want to take two buses to go home, and thought it a great idea to walk. Alone. Through the forest. At 6.30pm.

I told Joni to call her straight back. It turned out she’d forgotten her mobile and used a teacher’s. The teacher, on hearing the news, of course, panicked too, and asked Joni to contact her as soon as Lori had been located.

Meanwhile, I abandoned my husband and the shopping and raced out of the supermarket, which is in fact about 200m from the school.

The little one, who is apparently suffering from some sort of abandonment disorder presently, decreed that her presence would also be required in looking for her elder sister. I raced hobbled to the school, with a four-year-old draped around my leg and of course, missed the unafraid one.

The following few minutes went something like this:

I said “bugger” and “shit” quite a few times and dragged a four-year-old through the various streets around the school. I approached more inhibited children and asked them if they knew/had seen/had any knowledge of the whereabouts of my child. I lost a kilo with the attempted running, weightlifting and the cardio workout the panic initiated. People looked at me like I was rather odd.

Realising I had no chance of catching her up, what with a now crabbit small person glued to me, and my minor detour around the school grounds, I stumbled towards the car, where the family united in throwing all newly purchased goods into the boot at high speed.

We also united in forgetting that we had intended to visit the other neighbouring supermarket, as not all of the items on my comprehensive list had been available.

We finally found the brave one obliviously wandering along the path leading home, having walked through the forest completely alone.

She was unfazed. I ranted somewhat. She suddenly decided she would not do it again.

We pulled up at the house and I remembered: the rest of the shopping…

I decided, what with all the drama, I’d leave it to Saturday.

The man of the house finished his pie, then promptly nodded off, so I sent him off to bed and finally started on my intricate little cakes. It was 8pm.

I read the recipe. And reread it again,  but I could not find the instructions on how to make the dough. I found this a little strange because the measurements were so exact: 227g of flour, for instance. Why would there be no instructions on how to make the dough on such a precise recipe? After the sixth read-through, I abandoned all hope and just threw all of the ingredients into a bowl and attempted to mix. When this approach didn’t work out so well, I got dirty and used my hands.

The consistency however, was still not right so I thought, “What the hell!” and piled in the odd tablespoon of flour. Or two.

Still too difficult to work with, I decided to chill it in the fridge. Finally cold and a bit more stable, I popped little balls of dough into a form, then pressed them out to make the correct shape.

The recipe dictated, I should leave them in the freezer for around ten minutes, to help them keep their shape and stop them rising so much. Joni needed to make space, so she took several food items out of the freezer and we replaced them with the baking trays. “Not to worry!” I informed her, “We’ll pop them right back in shortly.”

I shouldn’t say, “Don’t worry!” It’s like I’m setting myself up for a fall. Because, hours later, I noticed that the silly helpful girl had not replaced a tub of ice cream (I couldn’t even polish off the slushy remains because I’d found myself in the impossible situation of having to test mountains of dough).

The more I tasted, the more I thought, that the pastries just didn’t taste right, so I picked up the recipe and glanced through it again.

And there, plain as the nose on my face, were full and clear instructions on how to make the dough.

So I rammed the little crumbly things into a Tupperware, cleaned the baking trays and started the whole process. All. Over. A-gain.


  • Weighed out each ingredient precisely
  • Drank an espresso
  • Mixed the dough as per the recipe
  • Opened a bottle of coke
  • Glugged down some of the coke
  • Made little balls and pushed them into shape in the form
  • Thought about vodka
  • Took several expensive products out of the freezer
  • Popped the trays into the freezer
  • Staggered around in the vicinity of the espresso machine
  • Popped the trays into the oven
  • Listened for the beep with intermittent slurps and burps
  • Pricked the little doughs and cooked them for a final time
  • Answered the telephone to an uncontacted, frantic teacher
  • Calmed the teacher and apologised
  • Thought of vodka again
  • Took the trays out of the oven and left them to cool, so the pastries would stay intact
  • Sat on the sofa for a little rest
  • Slept for two hours on the sofa
  • Carefully took the little pastries out of the forms
  • Tested the little pastries
  • ‘Accidentally’ broke some of the little pastries, so was forced to eat them to hide the evidence
  • Started cleaning the kitchen where I discovered defrosted, inedible, expensive products
  • Swore
  • A lot
  • Disposed of defrosted, inedible, expensive products

I headed to bed and instructed the alarm clock, then showing 3.10am to wake me at 8am.

I lay there thinking of strawberry fields and shopping and pavilions and how to get away with minimal cleaning.

A voice penetrated my dreams, “Mum, mum, it’s Joni! She feels sick.”

I couldn’t find my legs, let alone move them so I slapped at my husband and said, “Joni feels sick.”

He staggered, a person drunk on sleep, to her room and checked her over and handed her a bowl. Then thudded back into bed. It was 4.15am.

At 4.30 the voice intruded again. “She’s being sick.”

Still, my legs evaded me and I sent the man again.

Slowly, a guilty feeling flowed over me, forcing me awake and I rose and lumbered into the bedroom.

The poor child wretched and filled the bowl. My husband sent me back to bed.

But I couldn’t sleep. I thought of party guests and cake and strawberry fields. Putting up pavilions, and shopping or not?

And I thought of E.coli and sickness and bloody diarrhoea.

And I tossed and I turned and then the clock beeped 8am.

By midday, most of the guests had been contacted and informed about the cancellation. We had problems getting in touch with one as she’d moved house, but we got her eventually. An hour before the party should have started.

Joni did not have E.coli. In fact, the very next morning, after a plate of scrambled egg and a piece of toast, she made a complete and full recovery.

I, eventually, celebrated the fact that I hadn’t picked enough strawberries for 50 people, had made space in the freezer for the barbecue meat, could freeze the little cakes in preparation for the next party and had avoided the housework, once again.

Eurovision Party: Success?

Another challenge is completed!! Last Saturday evening we had a Eurovision Party and I do believe it was a rip-roaring success.

I cleaned and polished and the children, finally prepared flags. I shopped and cooked and Reinhold prepared score sheets.

After two weeks of searching high and low, I finally found cocktail stick flags for the cheese board. I think they must have been left over from the World Cup. If you hadn’t known the Eurovision was taking place in Germany this year, then you wouldn’t have discovered that Germany was holding the Eurovision this year very easily. Unless you live in Düsseldorf, that is. Or you listen to the radio regularly, then you may have just got the slightest hint that something was going on.

The guests arrived from 6pm onwards, the picture of generosity. I rediscovered that they’re amazing cooks. Between us we prepared: tortilla, cous cous salad, home-made bread, wild herb butter, mushroom butter, chilli, Greek salad, salmon quiche, melon wrapped in parma ham, sausage rolls, Swedish cake with cinnamon, dates cuddled in bacon (yum), insalata caprese, baguettes and of course a European cheese board. To top it all off, one guest barbecued German speciality sausages in the garden.

As you may imagine, I was in my element!

And that’s even before the beer and the bubbly started.

We all ate, drank and be’d merry. A few of us danced. Most of us awarded points, based on whatever points system we found appropriate, after another sip… Some of us became rather loud, erm… cheering and booing and laughing and stuff.

I gained at least two kilos.

And I won’t lose them anytime soon, what with the string of invites to breakfast/lunch/dinner…

Someone even drank the Heineken. And the Guinness.

We finished off the night, OK, the morning with chocolates and biscuits from Britain and Belgium.

Then one of the guests even stayed over and helped to tidy up!

The only thing that went wrong was that, after asking the guests permission to photograph them and the party in action, and put those photos on my blog: I forgot to take the pictures!!

Also this week: you may see one or two new challenges on my list. I watched a new film, Die hard 4 only to realise TEN MINUTES before the end that I’ve already seen it. So I couldn’t add it on.

I’ve started a few of the bigger tasks like doing a home therapy with my son and I’ve been looking for a spa to take my daughter to. We’ve decided that that will be our bonding trip.

On top of that there’s some big news: Emma has joined us on our challenge. She’s the person whose blog I first saw the challenge on and I’m delighted that we’ll all be working together. You can see her list at:
A matter of choice

Have you checked out how my fellow challengers are doing recently?
The Laughing Housewife
Perfecting Motherhood

How to embarrass yourself at the internist – Part 2

Yesterday saw me head off to the internist’s practice again and having lived through the whole procedure twice now, I thought I’d start off with a couple of tips for those of you who have yet to discover the joy of colonoscopy. (After all, we’re all getting older ;-)).

  • Be prepared: buy the softest toilet tissue known to man and as back up for those late night splatter-moments, some extra-mild, extra-soft, extra-strong baby wipes.
  • Reserve a toilet just for you. Ban all family members and inform them that there is no excuse for forgetting – the aroma itself, being a reminder.
  • When you feel ‘a movement’ run to your reserved area. There will be no time to finish the *cuppa/tweet/crossword clue/debate/jam sandwich/telephone conversation. *Delete as appropriate.
  • Eating a jam sandwich is a bad idea.
  • Think carefully what to wear to your appointment. Avoid buttons. The patient before me gave himself away as a ‘first-timer’. Cardigan buttons totally mismatched.
  • Avoid discovery of any state secrets in the weeks before your appointment. The truth drug is highly likely to encourage you to ‘share the news’.

I have to tell you, my clinic is particularly efficient. You might even describe it as ‘factory like’. Within moments of waking from your induced sleep, you must dress yourself and your nurse directs you into the waiting room. You’re offered a tea or a coffee and then she shuffles the next patient into the theatre.

But don’t worry. I still had time for a chat.

This part of the post I am dedicating to four particular bloggers:

  • earlybird who suggested the actual idea for this post.
  • Kim who earned first prize for being the first person not to spam me on my contact me form (and the only other prize I could think of was a broken tumble dryer). Besides, she’s proved herself to be my kind of gal, after she ingested the ‘truth drug’ she awoke looking for a party.
  • slpmartin who had this page been an airline, would have earned frequent flier points. I can’t offer you a free flight anywhere, but I can give you a mention and say thanks for your continued support. I always look forward to reading your comments.
  • And last but by no means least Tilly Bud who has the funniest and most entertaining blog I know.

Back to me.

The good news is that having continuously told myself the day before that decorum is in, I seemed to have convinced my brain to stop and think before speaking. The bad news is that my brain decided it was a good idea to have a good old blurt-out anyway. The other good news is my husband is also, now, a second-timer. Not a patient obviously, but a carer. So he knew not to take me anywhere on the way back to the car. Especially not to the chemist.

(If you have no clue what I am going on about, then you need to read my previous post.)

Luckily for me, as I explained to my lovely nurse that I have a tendency to reveal all after an anaesthetic injection, she calmed my fears and told me solemnly, that, “What’s said in this room, stays in this room.”

Good. Then she wouldn’t mind knowing these facts:

  • I have four children and here’s a list of all the medical problems they’ve ever had.
  • And any they’re likely to have…
  • I want to tell you all about my blog…
  • The local chemist is orderly, but somewhat dusty.
  • My house is dusty too! Chuckle, chuckle.
  • My tummy hurts.
  • You’re pretty. I think she felt a little embarrassed so she answered, “It’s a matter of taste.” To which I elaborated, “Well, I find you pretty.”
  • Decorum finally took over, because I remember wanting to inform that her that, on the other hand, I didn’t find her colleague at all pretty. But I don’t think I actually said it.
  • She took me to the bathroom, and because of my completely incapable state, found it necessary to fetch my husband. Who found the whole situation extremely amusing. Me being the only patient requiring proper assistance into the waiting room.
  • My final contact with her was a little shout from behind my unlocked toilet door, (she had told me not to lock it, concerned apparently, with my safety), “He’s a pretty one as well.”
  • After some roaring laughter, my ‘pretty’ man managed to guide me, staggers and all, into the waiting room while I told anyone within earshot, that I found this to be a “lovely clinic”. Can you tell I’m a soppy drunk?
  • They shepherded the loud one me out of the building as quickly as possible, but not before I’d managed to giggle at a toddler who’d plopped onto his bottom and exclaimed proudly to his parents, “He’s just like me.”

A little bit of me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s right. We threw a BIG party.

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

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

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

It’s the year of the friend.

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

Star of the show

In a word: delicious!!

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

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

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

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

Dani: for always caring and thinking of me

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

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

Andrea: for being so kind and just generally lovely

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

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

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

Karin: for being thoughtful and for listening

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

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

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

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

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

And three special, special, special thanks:

Faye: my forever friend

Reinhold: my soul mate

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


Faye – My Forever Friend

Dear Faye –
I am writing this
For you to see
How rare and special
You are to me.

Dear Faye –
I just want
You to know
The way you are?
I love you so.

Dear Faye –
A friend like you
I have not earned
And I am proud to say
That you picked me.

Dear Faye –
I still remember the day we met.
Do you know
It was twenty-five
Whole years ago?

Dear Faye –
How we laughed
And joked,
Through history lessons
We always spoke.

You taught me of concerts
And guys with long hair.
You were different –
There was always something there.

You wrote out the lyrics
Of that Twisted Sister song
“I believe in you.”
It is one of the nicest things
Anyone has done.

We left school
And went our separate ways,
But a couple of years later
We met, once again.

We both of us had married,
And just coincidentally
Had given birth to daughters,
Aged exactly a month apart.
Who’d have thought?

Dear Faye –
Since then you’ve been my rock,
My cushion,
My light,
My soul.

You know every secret
That I ever could have told.
In you I have a friend
Who is true –
Someone really to behold.

I remember when I moved house
You came and helped me clean,
When I left my man
No doubt your telephone bills were obscene,
When I had no money
You arrived with bags of food,
I found love again
And you loved him too!

We married
You stood by my side
Tears running down your face
Happiness, unable to hide.

Whatever I have been through
You always understand
Now even –
After six years of me living in a foreign land.

Dear Faye –
I am a very lucky person.
I have lots of wonderful friends.
But I want you to be aware,
I am honoured to be considered –
The friend of you.