It’s a hard knock life baby, but there’s still you, and there’s still me


It’s difficult. And you have no idea, really, just how difficult it will be. To leave your country behind. To leave friends. Family. You look in the mirror and you are madly in love. Your passion and your optimism lead you to believe everything will be just fine. With love like this, your world will just keep turning around and around.

But then issues start to creep in. First his family don’t really accept you. You’re different. Foreign. You can’t speak the local lingo and you have different ideas. Different traditions. A different outlook on life. A different world view. You see life through a different set of eyes. Through a different background. Through different circumstances. He loves you, and as the dutiful husband he grows more and more apart from his family, as you do too from yours.

The children are hard work. They too have their issues. The language. The new customs and traditions. Health issues spring up out of nowhere and sometimes, they have difficulties just fitting in.

You spend hours translating homework. Hours sitting in doctor’s surgeries. And very little time at all doing normal things, like you did before and that’s an enormous loss.

You feel alone. Few people help you. Friendships are rarely deep and come and go. You miss your land, your air, your sea. Things you thought had little consequence suddenly mean a lot more.

Opportunities reduce. Exhaustion increases. Life becomes one long bumpy road. You have a lot of children, but no village to rear them, instead you are out there, alone.

Disapproving looks. Little comments. Repeated rejection. You feel it. In your heart. In your pulse. In your soul.

You begin to be less independent. Less resourceful. You cling to your husband and he takes the brunt of all your anguish, your pain, your deep seated sadness.

You love him, but you crush him. He, too, is overcome with tiredness.

Sometimes there are glimmers of hope and torches shining in the darkness and when they suddenly fail to burn or are abruptly extinguished, you plunge into what feels like a never ending abyss. And worse still, you drag everybody else with you.

Our worlds feel so different. Yet we are joined at the hip all the same. Our love, though repeatedly tested, is still as strong, maybe even stronger than it ever was. We traipse and test new pathways, together, and we falter together. Tumble together. Catch one another. Trip one another up but land joined together, hand in hand.

Another punch has hit us. But we feel the same pain. The same disappointment. The same loss. We unite in a way I never could with another. And that makes it somehow bearable. Somehow endurable.

I am with you in this strange land. With its strange customs. With its strange ways.

I stand with you hand in hand.

Through the hard stares. Through the false starts. Through every battle ground.

Hand in hand. Always.

Watch out for those wrinkly bits!


You know you married a German when your teenage daughter wanders over to you and tells you that your husband is “spachteling” around in the buff. As in completely starkers. Wearing nada. Hanging loose.

People often ask us which language we speak at home. And everyone of us always answers, “Denglish.” Which is a rather confused mix of Deutsch or German and English. The verb spachteln means to fill something in, or smooth something out. Which was in this case with plaster. As native Brits we just love the suffix -ing and half of our Denglish consists of us adding an -ing wherever possible to any German verb, which is a constant source of amusement to our German friends, and is pretty much the only reason we ourselves notice it, as to us, it just sounds so natural. They snigger when we call out, “I’m going einkaufing” (shopping). They giggle at our “spaziering” (going for a walk). And they’d crack up at our spachteling around.

I responded to my daughter that her Papa was obviously taking naturism up as an extreme sport. After all, I have a protective need to wear sturdy footwear when I’m just doing the ironing. I feel positively alarmed at the thought of using actual tools in my birthday suit.

Curious of his bravery, I later approached my husband on the subject. He explained his very simple and pragmatic approach, “I needed a shower anyway, so rather than change into my work clothes…”

Corona Diaries Part 2


Phew!

We’re all still breathing, kicking, bickering and plundering toilet roll. Touch wood. I’m not attempting to jinx anything said while slapping my own head ferociously.
My husband doesn’t believe in jinxes. There’s no word for jinxing in German. So he believes it doesn’t exist. But we know. That is, the rest of the family and I. And we are quite accustomed to smacking our own heads if tables/bookshelves/garden fences are unavailable. This does make us appear slightly stranger to our German acquaintances.

Some of you have asked me how I am and I admit, it’s a difficult question to answer.
Mainly because my mood swings have become, quite frankly, erratic. But from talking to other people and watching the news, I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Some days, I am the great achiever. In actual jobs. Not just in online shopping. Other days, the minutes fade into hours and I can’t remember what I’ve actually done. Other than eaten a bit of chocolate, watched a show and washed my hands.

It took me some time, but I came to the realisation that my self-worth is closely linked with my ability and actual activity in doing stuff for others and if I don’t manage to achieve that, my self-worth buggers off to the bottom of a cliff somewhere.
I’ve not managed to completely sort that out yet. Let’s call it a work in progress.

Way back in March I stopped working, as many did. I buckled down with homemade soups, crossed my fingers and my toes and sometimes held my breath. Our battle plan was how to avoid coming into contact with the virus and how not to contaminate anyone else, should we get it. We avoided people. We remained in our own little bubble and used more soap in a few short months than we would normally use in a decade. We consumed the news. We became experts in reading and interpreting graphs and statistics. We gardened. We missed our children and our friends. I missed work. My husband, on the other hand, revelled in his new found home office and worked even more than he normally does. I attempted, at random times, during the day and during the night, to find a possible delivery slot for our supermarket shopping. I read. I discovered new shows. I nodded off during the day and sometimes found that I couldn’t sleep at night. I got the scissors out and chopped away at my daughter’s hair and it turned out not too badly.

So far, touch wood, no one I know personally has been really sick. There were a few precarious moments, like when my son needed to be tested. At first, I wasn’t too bothered as I was really sure that he was suffering from pretty bad hay fever and I thought that the doctor’s were being rightly cautious. But while we were driving to the GP’s outdoor testing centre in the carpark, my son nonchalantly admitted that the wife of a colleague had tested positive and the colleague had been sent home. My son had forgotten to mention it previously. My brain imploded, right there and then. But after a few seconds I managed to pick up all the pieces and glue them back together while simultaneously driving the car. And in front of the doctor we appeared relaxed and unvexed.
The test was negative. Hay fever was the cause of his itchy eyes, sneezing and loss of smell. Wine was drunk in celebratory merriment.

PHEW!!


My life has changed beyond all recognition. I have discovered my own green thumb giving life to extraordinary vegetation and colonies in the garden. I say extraordinary because the potato plants that thrived in the high bed turned out to be rape seed (how does that even happen?) and the broccoli and cauliflower shot but never produced any broccoli or cauliflowers. The lettuce did it’s best to take over the garden. The coriander flourished while the chives and the rocket just decided not to grow. Not only that, the whole garden seemed to develop some kind of mass growing competitiveness. I keep having to cut back the wisteria as it’s continually venturing into the neighbour’s garden as soon as I turn my back. The neighbour can’t stand us already, without our vines invading his territory! The apple tree, despite being considerably hacked back by me at the beginning of spring, has sprung so many apples it’s in danger of toppling over. A pretty weed seeded itself next to the rose arch, it seemed so innocent at first… Now its thick wooden stem has massacred the clematis and we have no idea how we’ll detach it from the archway. Maybe a chainsaw… Then there’s the ants. I found these ‘stones’ in the high bed. Nope. Not stones. Ant nests!!!

Lack of human contact has seen me talking to the dog even more, who often appears confused by my tales. I also try to banter with the plants. But unlike the dog, they rarely respond.

I find myself even more agitated by the neighbours. It’s one thing not to speak, even when we’re in a crisis. But one neighbour got chickens. Live chickens!! And my problem is, I can hear them, but I can’t see them. I drag the dog all over my suburb in pursuit of visiting any old farmyard animal and now I have chickens opposite my house!! Only being able to hear them is deplorable.

I have discovered I am still terrible at sewing. I have made mask upon mask. Each one takes hours because I spend so much time fixing them. And they have so much stitching they look more like thread than actual material. Now, as my daughter has returned to school, they are being thoroughly tested by the washing machine. And they are not always passing muster.

My health so far, has been unaffected by Covid itself, but because I’m not constantly coming into contact with germs, my asthma has greatly improved while my Crohn has been exacerbated considerably. So much so, that it’s become difficult to leave the proximity of the house most of the time or think about starting to work again. But I will see a new doctor next week. So hopefully we’ll find a way forward.

How are you doing?

Oops, I keep doing it again!!


You’d think that I have great, big, massive size nine’s. Seriously. Because I always, always, always, always manage to put both of my enormous feet right into it.

And then I dig.

And dig.

And dig.

And the hole just gets bigger.

Honestly.

And I have no way, whatsoever, of climbing out of it. I just make it worse.

Another man, had bought me a tiny present. Just a little thing. A small token of appreciation for the friendship I’d offered him. Knowing how it is to be a foreigner in a strange land.
Who knows, perhaps his thoughtful gift was even meant for both of us.

I’d sensed a slight stiffening when I’d mentioned it, in my own blase way.
So I tried to make it better. Having experienced the rising of that old green monster myself, on many an occasion. Even when there was no actual cause.

So I explained that we’d been chatting on the internet. The stiffening stiffened further and the eyes narrowed.

So I said not to worry. That one relationship for me was quite enough.

Further stiffening.

Plenty. I declared. Plenty. One relationship is plenty. One relationship requires so much effort, I’d keel over with exhaustion if I had to be involved in two…

Board-like.

You’re the only boy for me! I tried, weakly.

Boy? His eyes attempted to remain serious.

I’m too forgetful nowadays… I wouldn’t manage it. I added, deep in thought… Can you imagine, all the presents? I’d have to give you both the same gifts all the time, so that I wouldn’t get confused…
And that wouldn’t be very personal, would it?

But what I really should have said is:

Husband – I love you because you are you and I am me,
And we fit together
just like a lock and its key.

I love you because you let me be
who I can be
even when
that’s someone
who’s slightly
freaky!

And I should tell you that:

You make my world
complete –
For another
I have no need!

Because you are my soul mate!
You are my friend!
And without you
My whole world would end.

Being stubborn may well save your life – and that of your beloved sister!


Phew. Back again.

I love this picture. For me it speaks a thousand words. Two of my girls and me. Caught in a moment of focus and affection.

Girls

These two sisters are amazing. I have never known two sisters who were so incredibly close. I remember once, going into the bathroom and finding them in the shower together. Both were yapping ten to the dozen. They had so much to tell one another that the noise of the flowing water was not permitted to intrude. I found that fascinating. They had shared a room for many years, they had attended the same schools, they had hung out with a lot of the same people, mostly they had shared the same hobbies. But still, they had so much to say to each other and felt so much urgency to say it, that they couldn’t bear to be separated.

Now, you might think that as they’re so incredibly close that their relationship is a pretty harmonious one. But there you would be wrong. They can argue just as passionately as they get along.

Think fireworks.

Take, for example, the time that Lori got so annoyed with her elder sibling that she gave her a  shove, while she was standing  on the steps of a bus. Joni lost her footing and fell out of the bus. I know. I was there. I saw it all. No matter what I said, Lori refused point blank to apologise.

I remember once, the girls’ choir teacher taking them off for a couple of days on a workshop. She was quite excited about taking those two sisters, who have such an amazing rapport with each other, off to sing in the countryside. She anticipated what effect their close relationship would have on the dynamics of the group. What she failed to anticipate was: what would happen if they fell out. I met her weeks later and she was still slightly dazed.

The truth of the matter is: that although the girls tend to be passionate about pretty much the same things, their characters couldn’t be more polar opposite.

When Lori was born I thought that I’d be able to bath both of the girls together. I couldn’t though. Lori hated the cold and Joni hated the heat. I had to throw my boat-shaped baby bath thermometer in the bin. Both girls were completely off the scale. Joni cried at ‘the correct temperature’ because it was far too hot and Lori cried at ‘the correct temperature’ because it was far too cold. It was like my own two bears story. Lori even balled her eyes out in the supermarket every time we veered near to the fridges.

Joni grew up dressed in pink. Wearing nail polish. And with a serious conviction that she was actually Snow White.

While Lori started the trend of wearing a t-shirt over a long-sleeved top and destroyed one action figure after another.

Bringing the two of them up has taught me a lot.

One of the things it has taught me is that compromise is not always such a good thing.

Laid back Joni has a leisurely pace. She meanders through life in her own good time. In fact, we actually call her our very own chill pill.

Intense Lori rushes on ahead. There is always something else to do. There is always something else to say. There is always something more to make of her day.

One such day both girls were on the bus together heading home from school. The bus pulled up at our stop and they both got off. Together. An argument erupted. Lori felt cold and wanted to rush home from school, at full speed and get on with things.
Joni, on the other hand, wanted to take her time, bask in the winter sun’s rays and float along the street towards home.

A compromise could not be found. Joni’s attempt at her fastest pace could not placate Lori’s need for speed and so after a few cross words, Lori stormed off ahead.

Joni was angry. Why couldn’t they just compromise? Meet in the middle? Lori could slow down her pace and Joni could hasten hers and they could walk home, as sisters, together!

Lori skedaddled and was about 100m ahead of her elder sister when behind her she heard the shrill screeching and then crumpling of metal, and the shattering of glass. She stopped and whirled around. A van had hit a car and now the van was on the path. Approximately 50m in front of her sister. Approximately 50m meters behind her…

She ran back, checked everyone was ok and then rushed on home.

It was at that very moment that I came around the corner in our car. I had picked up my two younger children and, we too, were almost home. I pulled over as I couldn’t easily get past the blockage in the road. My son, who’s always keen to see what’s going on, leapt out of the passenger seat before I could shout, “Hold your horses!!” and ran along the street to find out what had happened. I looked out of my side window and then it dawned on me: one of the people standing next to those contorted vehicles was my daughter Joni.

And then it hit me! Joni and Lori should be taking the same school bus home and Lori was nowhere to be seen…

I tried to leave my car, but it proved difficult. The road was in chaos. It had been sprayed with broken glass and vehicles were slowly attempting to make their way around the debris and the gathering crowd of bystanders. I swore at a lorry driver who attempted to reprimand me for getting in his way. Somehow, finally, I managed to park up on the side of the street, then I ran, screaming, towards a shocked Joni, “Where’s Lori? Where’s Lori?

I dared not look under the vehicles…

Joni took a while to answer. She was in shock. She’d witnessed the whole accident. Lori had just been ahead of her… They’d had an argument… Lori wanted her to walk faster… If they had compromised they would have both been hit by the van which now sat on the pavement.

“But where’s Lori now?” I queried. I needed to see her for myself. To make quite sure. Quite sure she was intact and unharmed.

I quickly checked the distressed car driver then took my paler than usual eldest daughter back to the car and drove her home.

At home I discovered an unblemished but rather disappointed Lori.

Disappointed because she’d not been able to put her recently gained first aid certificate to good use. There had not even been a cut to bandage. She’d been forced to march home and start her homework instead!

 

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Life is full of surprises and not always where you’d expect them


tango face surprise

It’s nice to know, that even at 44 years old, life still has the opportunity to surprise me.

I mean, there are some things which remain pretty much the same. Like the fact that we rent a new car each year through my husband’s company. And the fact that, it takes me the whole year to get used to that new car. The whole year to learn to recognise it in the car park without pressing the central locking button on my key, to make the lights flash. Without that button I would never, ever find my car, let alone get into it.

To be fair, I do try really hard. I have stopped relying on the kids (who are nowadays, no longer always accompanying me on my journeys) to ‘know’ where I last left my vehicle,  and  I do my very best to focus in on car park letters and numbers and street names and notable landmarks and try to memorise them. Some times it works well, I’ve discovered, other times not quite so well.
But however well it works I always need my secret weapon central locking button.

Take last year’s new car as an example. I drove it to my local supermarket, carefully selected a space, in the very same row I always try to park in (that way I have a much better chance of finding my car). It’s a less popular row, as it’s a bit further away from the supermarket, but it still has a trolley park in it. I don’t mind the walk. It’s direct. If I have to wander round and round the car park, all the while sneakily pressing my ‘locate vehicle’ button in my pocket, it turns out that I have to walk much, much further, which is a horrible experience with a wayward trolley and besides, if I press my button too much, I end up needing a new key battery which means taking my key to the local car dealership and watching the salesman scratch his head while saying, “The battery doesn’t normally run out within a year, that is very strange…” OK, technically, I never did take my key back, I always made my husband do it: I was far too embarrassed.
So, as I said, last year, I parked my then new car in my favourite row, and then, on completion of my shopping, I strode back across the car park towards my new Mercedes. The row was almost empty so I confidently withdrew my key from my pocket, pointed it unwaveringly at my car and I pressed and I pressed but strangely, the lights remained unlit. I wondered, what on earth was wrong with the damned car then, in good faith, I opted for the ‘open boot’ button instead. I pressed and I pressed the button. Then I shook the key a little bit, as you do when today’s gadgets don’t seem to be performing properly, but that didn’t help one bit. The thought did flash across my mind that I’d potentially already worn out the battery in the key with all my pressing, but really? The car was only a couple of weeks old… It was at that moment that I spotted a woman standing, staring at me, mouth gaping… Apparently she was standing next to my car I mean, her car. By the time I’d actually noticed her, I was almost at her boot, which I thought was my boot, ready to unload my overflowing trolley. She stood there, protectively, as I glanced fervently around, that’s when I noticed, two spaces further along, another car with its boot wide open and its lights flashing like a full on disco.

You could think that was one of the surprises I’m talking about. And you’d be partly right. To be honest, I am quite used to attempting to gain entrée to a vehicle that is not my own. It all started when I was a kid. I was shoving an extremely heavy, headstrong trolley towards my parent’s car all by myself. I rammed the key in the boot’s lock and I could not understand, for the life of me, why it would not turn. My parents marched on past without more than a mere  glance in my direction. I did my best to twist the stubborn key in the lock. Then I started to notice odd things in the boot as I peered through the window. Like a blanket which wasn’t ours… Something wasn’t quite right… So I looked deeper into the car and I’m sure you can imagine my absolute shock when I noticed a couple, sitting in the two front seats, glaring at me through their rear window.

But the thing is: the car was exactly the same colour as ours, an unusual kind of rusty orange brown colour, and it was exactly the same model.

So really, I could be excused, after all, it was an easy mistake to make.

But last year, when I’d almost pressed my vehicle finder to death, and started rumours of a disco at the supermarket car park, I realised, as I saw the two cars parked practically side by side,  that they looked completely different. Mines was a Mercedes. Hers was a Ford. And to top it all, hers was a completely different colour.

That threw me a bit. I must admit.

And, to be honest, I suspect the stranger thought I was a proper loony.

Slightly more than a year has passed since that little incident and yet, again, we’ve swapped cars. The thing is, they’ve adapted the model. So it looks a bit different and it has new features.

I’m not so good with new features. Don’t get me wrong. I like them. I even get quite excited about them when my husband describes them or better still shows me them. But within ten minutes I’ve forgotten how to use them. I am starting to suspect that I am not really a very technical person.

Each car, each year has new features. As a matter of fact, last year’s car had an App that you could put on your phone to help you find it. I guess there are more people burning out the key battery than that head scratcher cared to admit!! My husband kindly put the App on my phone and taught me how to use it. To be fair, I have managed to check out whether my car is locked or not. It wasn’t. My husband thought this to be a silly feature, but I actually proved him wrong! Still, the main reason for using the App, car location, is something I haven’t managed to conquer. So I’ve stuck by my tried and tested method and kept my nickname: Battery Depletor.

But this year’s car is truly confusing incredible. It can even park all by itself if you can remember how to let it.

I was really surprised because you don’t use a key to start it: instead you press a button. And there is no hand brake. At all.

So, my mornings now go something like this: make sure the kids are ready for school. Run around looking for my car key (which is now just a set of buttons: one for car location unlocking the central locking, one for locking the central locking and one for opening and closing the boot). Yell at Tell all the kids necessary to get into the car. Press the unlock central locking button (which by the way, to my confusion, also on one occasion opened all of the windows?!?). Stand next to the car, trying to figure out what I should actually do with the key once I am in the car? Should I put it in my pocket? Because then I might, yet again, forget to lock the car… Once I’ve come to a decision about the key and I’m sitting in the car,  I then have an exhaustive search for the hand brake… Eventually it dawns on me that there is no longer a hand brake. Then I get excited that the lovely people at Mercedes decided to bless me with a camera at the back so I reverse the car out of the driveway without knocking over my or my neighbours bins and I drive off up the hill. On my return home I have to exit my vehicle. This means: press P for Park. Press the start/stop button to switch the car off. Locate the key. Leave the vehicle. Remember to lock the car and then carry on about my business. This may sound simple. But I have noticed that I’m pretty fixated on the key location aspect of the task, so much so, that I keep forgetting to switch off my car. To which my car responds by screaming at me “You bloody idiot!!” flashing red lights and beeping loudly.  Which sets me off with a little adrenalin rush for the start of my day.

Who needs coffee?

My son has surprised me a lot this year. He’s reached the grand old age of 16. This was not absolutely clear as he’s the semi-autistic/extreme ADHDer who is mostly driven by impulse. He has become extremely tall and even more gangly than before. He has grown a full head and shoulders above his eldest sister which he sees as his greatest achievement of the year, because way back at the start of 2016, his head was still bobbing along below hers.

We have been trying to encourage him towards other productive – not just growing – activities. He needs to find direction and no, not the astronaut one. The European Space Agency will not let an extreme ADHDer loose with their space rockets. It seems even the German military won’t let an extreme ADHDer loose with their tanks. Which, having watched my son grow up, I can kind of understand.

Last week I thought I’d encourage him in the kitchen. He has a natural cooking ability although he doesn’t seem to like to use it too much. I told him to dislodge himself from his tablet and he entered the kitchen and I warmly explained to him that I would make him my  masterchef in the kitchen. I said that Papa wants him to be his prodigy on the computer. But I nabbed him first. He didn’t look too impressed but I soldiered on. I informed him matter-of-factly that today, we’d be making pastry. I asked him if he knew how to make pastry and he said yes, I’d already taught him. But I carried on. I had yet again another mammoth headache but life goes on and I stipulated how much flour and how much butter A.D. should measure out. He did so, accurately. I’m more of a  ‘throw it together’, ‘that’ll do’ and a ‘bit extra for good luck’ kind of chef, in all honesty. I looked at the amount of flour and through my strange haze I thought something isn’t quite right here. Then I realised that actually, I exchanged the flour and the butter quantities. Aden corrected my mistake by himself and then I double checked his work and decided, through my fog, it was wrong again, so he re-fixed it. Once he was ready to continue, I noticed that he’d actually been right with his own correction and I had fluffed it up yet again. He painstakingly weighed out the grams as I profusely apologised and blamed my head.

Flour met butter in the processor and I relaxed a little bit as Aden pulsed away and produced perfect ‘breadcrumbs’. Then I told him, that the secret of making good pastry in the food processor lay in adding splashes of water slowly and pulsing the mix until the dough starts to come together, then removing it and doing the rest by hand.

Our pastry started to come together, I instructed  Aden to stop pulsing  and I turned my back for the briefest of moments.

Suddenly, I heard quite rigorous pulsing behind me. I span around and saw the arm of the food processor, no longer in the bowl but in the air, freely spinning with dough swinging from it.

Frankly, I yelled. Then I exclaimed how the dough needed to be used for cooking and not for spraying the walls.

In all fairness, it did seem like Aden was having the time of his life before the yelling.

I recovered my dough, took it to my floured work surface and prepared it to be chilled.

In the meantime we made toppings for the mini quiches we were creating.

Once the dough had chilled I talked Aden into buttering the creme brulee dishes while I rolled out the pastry.

Then I said, “Now we are going to bake the pastry blind. What does that mean?”

He bounced excitedly up and down, not something he’ll be able to do in our kitchen much longer if he continues to grow at such a rate, and squealed, “I know! I know!”

“Is it that you throw loads of ingredients in without looking and then you don’t know what you’ll be eating?”

“What??? No!!!”

He paused for the tiniest moment.

Then he started leaping around again. “I know. Is it that you poke the pastry with a stick like a blind person?”

“What??????????????? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

He looked slightly deflated.

I handed him a fork and told him to prick the pastry then we’d place baking paper between the pastry and the ceramic baking beans. He pricked rather enthusiastically at first, all in all there were more holes than there was pastry. So I showed him how to do it properly and then returned the fork to him. Then he got the baking beans from the cupboard and asked if he could try one…

At least he asked. Which is more than the crazy dog did. When I accidentally rolled some off the tabletop onto the floor. She stole one. Ran off. Then spat it back out on to her blanket.

No wonder there always seem to be fewer ceramic baking beans in the tub with every use…

We did manage to finish the quiches and I have to say, they were delicious. But by the end I was thinking of offering Papa Aden as his prodigy…

Life rolls on. The end of the year is nigh and the kids only have a couple of days left at school. Aden rolled off to the bus stop this morning on his scooter. A few minutes later the phone rang. He was extremely upset. He’d started to feel rather squeamish on the bus then had suddenly vomited. Everywhere. Including on three fellow passengers.

He’d got off the bus. At some random bus stop and had no clue where he was. Bless. I had to look his whereabouts up on the internet and go and rescue him. He was covered from head to toe in sick. I am still not sure how I didn’t puke in the car because of the smell.

Yes, the new car.

I got him home, heaved as I put the sick filled clothes into the washing machine and then ran out to thoroughly disinfect the car. I have so learned since the Norovirus.

My husband pointed out that at least we don’t have to put up with that new car smell anymore…

My son may not be the next astronaut or the next tank driver. He may never decide to be a chef. But at least I know that when he projectile vomits, he does it properly.

I wanted to finish there. But my daughter arrived home from school. Calm but I could sense she had something on her mind.

It wasn’t that she’d had yet another nosebleed (she had, but that’s beside the point). She’s a first aider at her school and had to deal with an emergency. A boy had been pushed, and had hit his head against the edge of a table. He had an actual hole in his head. She said that she’s never seen so much blood. At one point she even saw clots that she momentarily thought might be bits of brain on the child’s neck. She remained calm and collected and helped patch the quite young boy up and sat with him, keeping him calm, until a relative could be on the scene to take him to a doctor. I am in awe. I would have fainted. Or have thrown up. Or both.

My kids never cease to amaze me.

Happy Christmas!!!

 

 

 

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It’s the way you make me feel


Sometimes I bound through life making silly, downright idiotic and even atrocious decisions.

I am a very decisive person, but even though I apparently know what I want, it seems, I don’t always know what is best for me!!

However, 12 years ago today I made the very best decision of my entire life: I married you!

Now sometimes you annoy me, just a little bit. The other day you put your smelly feet on the dining table and I thought, “What the fuck?!?” And, in my ever-decisive manner, I had to tell you to put them right back down on the floor again!!!!

Which you then did immediately.

Of course.

While we’re at it: I don’t cope very well with you not putting your seatbelt on until we get to the top of the street.

And if you really want me to give it to you straight:

You really could wash your hands more often and not wiggle your fingers at me right after you touched the bin lid, in that ‘I’m going to tickle you with my dirty digits’ way that you do. Which makes me, in turn, race to the sink to wash my own hands, even though I haven’t touched a single thing!

But really what I want to do now is get right down to the nitty gritty.

We have been through, in twelve years of marriage, a few things, that nobody ever wants to go through.

Every single moment, you were there. Holding my hand. Wiping away my tears. Picking my outbursts up off the floor, shuggling them around a bit, then carefully putting them back together in a nice, orderly fashion.

You listened, even if I had to prod you awake at times. You knew when to give the hug and when not to give the hug. You cooked and cleaned whenever I needed you to, no matter how tired you were, or how bad your own day had been. You poured wine at all the right moments.

And the other day I overheard you telling Akasha, “As perfect as  Mummy is, she has a tendency to exaggerate sometimes.”

Despite everything that I am and have been, everything I’ve done and haven’t done; you still see me as perfect!!! (We’ll ignore the second part of the sentence.) (This isn’t the main reason that I love you.)

Without you I couldn’t be the person that I am today.

Thank you.

 

 

Brexit wrecks it


Although I am actually a very political person, I don’t normally share my political ideals on this blog.

But today is a terrible day for British politics. And I feel sick to the pit of my stomach.

The Leave campaign, with all its racism and hate has won.

Common sense, human compassion, a lust for peace and an ideology of hope and togetherness has been thrown right out of the window and stamped on.

Scotland will fight to be independent and Northern Ireland may well join in. Both were strong campaigners and voters on the Remain side. Both equally feel misrepresented and unheard.

The EU may well start to crumble.

I am sad. Truly sad.

I am shocked. Deeply shocked.

Today really is a tragic day. 😦

 

 

glass cracked – water splashed


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

I do.

I acquired this knowledge just this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The glass cracked and the water overwhelmed the work surface.

The dog sprinted to my side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then you’ll have to re-mop the floor.

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

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

 

How are we to move forward?


A few things have happened lately that have made me think about what it’s like to be a woman in this world.

Before that, I just went around well, being a woman.

I should just start at the beginning. It was this article that started it all.

Since I read it, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

Because, unfortunately, it’s true.

Take today for instance…

♦♦♦♦

We have a salesperson who comes to our door roughly once every three weeks selling frozen food to us. The food is generally of pretty good quality and I specifically like the frozen fish as there’s more choice than at the local supermarket, plus it’s mostly been fully deboned.  To top it all, it’s cheaper than buying fresh fish (don’t forget, I’m feeding oodles of kids here).

Normally, our salesperson is a slightly ditsy lady. She has a tendency to forget something from my order and a couple of minutes after she’s left, I see her hurtling right back down the road again with my missing items. Though once, admittedly, it did take her until the next day to notice my forgotten eclairs.

Her arrival always sets our dog off. The previous frozen foods salesman was an absolute dog fanatic. He used to spend 20 minutes playing with our dog during every visit, as opposed to five minutes taking my order. Sometimes he even filmed our four-legged friend with his mobile phone, so that when he went home he could relive his work day with his wife. Any moment he had left to spare he whiled away showing me pictures of all his other customer’s dogs.

Our dog (Lexi) still recognises the van. Despite the dog enthusiast having moved away over a year ago. It was a mutual love-love relationship.

So he left and we are now visited by the sales lady who is nice and tries really hard but is obviously completely overwhelmed by the hairy one. Lexi really, really encourages her too to be a dog enthusiast. But so far, she’s still rather intimidated.

Now, knowing what I know, I should be more careful checking off my goods versus my bill. But it’s difficult. As you now know, there is the manic dog, who’s jumping up, trying to catch a lick, then throwing herself, belly-up, onto the ground, desperate for a full-on belly rub down, while barking all the time.

Despite consistently having been informed from the company a good couple of days before that the lady is due, I have always, always forgotten and then been ‘surprised’ by her arrival, and that leaves me totally embarrassed on two major points:

  • The house is always a tip
  • I have never ever looked through the catalogue and I have no idea what it is I want to order.

Which means: any random child who just happens to be around takes the opportunity to yell out excited ideas of what we really, really don’t need.

Now the frozen food company doesn’t only sell fish. They sell anything at all that they have possibly thought of that could be frozen. Which naturally includes cocktails and doughnuts, snails and lasagnes, dumplings and… well, it’s just easier to tell you that they have a catalogue filled with more than 150 pages of tempting offers.

As a grown up, the tempting-ness of these offers become less seductive because I have the ability to look at the price and at my bank balance. Unlike any of my children.

So normally the picture looks something like this: with one arm I’m trying to wrestle back the dog while with the other I’m shushing the children. Who, if there happens to be more than one of in the room at that time,  have entered into a full on battle of ‘What We Need More Of – Ice Cream or Cake’ otherwise known as the S’cream Cake Wars.

And then, after all that, there’s the freezer to contend with. It’s always almost full when the frozen food salesperson arrives. Either because I’ve been on a soup making mission or because my husband has thoughtfully been shopping just the day before and filled it with frozen pizzas. No, he never knows when the frozen food salesperson is coming either.

I always buy way too much and end up emptying the ice cube tray and stuffing the kids with ice cream before dinner in order to fit in yet another fish finger.

So you get the usual picture.

The woman arrives. I battle and spend. My husband emails me because the bank suspects fraud as his wife has spent so much on the debit card again. The dog pines and sometimes escapes when the poor saleswoman accidentally leaves the front door ajar. And she returns, red-faced and panting, “Sorry, your dog is now running around the sports field again. Oh, and here’s your tuna fish pizza.” And not one single child is satisfied with what I bought.

Instead they are bickering.

Again.

While I am re-rearranging the freezer.

But today it was different.

Today, a man came to the door and as soon as I saw him I knew that I knew him from somewhere, but I couldn’t quite figure out where…

That’s because I have absolutely no skill at all when it comes to the competency of facial recognition. Seriously, I once watched a film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in it. Half way through I was completely confused and I had to interrupt my husband’s viewing pleasure and interrogate him about it. It turns out, I couldn’t tell the difference between these two main characters and thought they were both playing the same role. My husband was significantly horrified and has teased me about it ever since (hence I now remember the two actors’ names).

The man standing at the door was clearly a frozen foods salesman as he had parked his van right in front of my house. So I greeted him, but I told him not to enter as I had one sick and germy kid lolling around on the couch.

He didn’t try to come in. But he told me several times that he would like to sit down at the table with me to do the order. I had to say “No” very clearly, three or four times, before he would finally back down. I explained to him it was for his own good health but I could tell he wasn’t at all pleased.

I felt that instinctive unsafe feeling that, since I read the article, I’ve started to think that every woman knows.

And then I remembered, that’s how I knew this man. He’d been a substitute salesperson for the frozen food company once before. And I’d had the very same uncomfortable, unsafe feeling then.

He didn’t raise his voice, or push the door. And he didn’t lay a finger on me, but I felt threatened by his tone and his body language. He was very forceful in his sales technique. He didn’t smile. He slammed the doors of his van stormily, one after another.

I felt unsafe. On my own doorstep. So much so that I thought about calling the company and telling them not to send that particular salesman to my door again.

♦♦♦♦

That article jumped into my mind yet again.

I am a woman and I live regularly on my guard.

I am a woman and time and time again I feel unsafe. Or taken advantage of or disrespected.

And I don’t say anything.

I just ignore it.

I thought it was normal.

And it may be that it happens a lot. But that is wrong.

I owe it to my daughters to talk about it.

We all do.

So, I’ll start the ball rolling. Feel free to join in in the comments section.

It is not acceptable to think that all that should be important for me is pleasing men and having their children.

It is not acceptable to pat my bottom.

It is not acceptable to pay me less.

It is not acceptable to say that all my problems will be solved if I look pretty.

It is not acceptable to have a go at me for feeding my child.

It is not acceptable to use your strength to make me feel afraid.

It is not acceptable to not stop when I say no.