The Week so Far

Sunday’s frolics calmed down finally after bath time – only Thor’s screams were to be heard after nite nite and they exhausted themselves after 15 minutes or so. Yet another ‘soup du poisson’ with boiled potatoes for John and I then bed. Yesterday saw me re-edit my manuscript into a printable book, so looking forward to releasing my memoir as a fully tangible readable paperback. Available to purchase through Amazon, like the ebook in 48 hours. I do know that self publishing isn’t as ‘Fabulous’ as having a publisher on side – but things have changed so much with traditional publishing, as with many industries.

Yesterday ran like clockwork, that is until dinnertime. Thor and Caleb were sent to bed early for playing with (not eating) their roast chicken dinner – I honestly don’t know why I bother sometimes. The most tender chicken breast, potatoes cooked in the meat juices and even a home made cauliflower cheese. Our children eat well – it’s such a shame when they are totally unappreciative. Anyhow, it’s Tuesday afternoon and Sindy has taken the little ones to the park besides the girls school. So just me and the hounds relaxing. At present listening to ‘Hildegard of Bingen’ – go ahead, google it! Very relaxing if you like the odd bit of classical voice and an amazing story to boot.

My Blog and Family Life Today

I get it now! I truly do. I have to admit that writing a blog does keep me online for an hour or so each day, plus some time spent on Instagram. The children’s tablets can entertain them for several hours however with all of the games that they have downloaded. But for us grown ups,  a public profile does seem to be an essential part of things nowadays, especially if like me, you wrote a memoir and nobody knows that the story exists. This blog is indeed as a means to an end – my book I hope. And instagram is a means to leading people to this blog and hopefully at some time in the future, my novel on Kindle (Eighteen Moons). Is it all about me? No it is not, it’s all about my family life. And the book is specifically about our origins. I have to smile, but several months ago I had an unpublished book without an audience, just sat as a word doc on my PC. So, I then looked at creating my own public profile and considered self publishing. If you Google Andi Webb – I do not come up in the search engine, rather a woman who is a ‘Fellow’ at the US Department of Energy. My two domains are thankfully self explanatory, andiwebb.net and diaryofagaydad.net – so if you google ‘Diary of a Gay Dad’ – guess who comes up at the top of the list?

By the way, I do hope you readers are enjoying this blog? I get the occasional like, but more comments would be great!

Now moving on, Amritsar and Tara have their ‘Fire 7 tablets’, we call them iPads and today they have entertained both Amritsar and Aaliyah for most of the day. Tara has been glued to the television watching an entire animated series called ‘Dragons’ (all day) and the boys have been playing together without too many dramas. It looks like ‘Mrs Snodgrass’s services’ will not be required tomorrow morning.

The children are now organising a party on the table top outside on the terrace, as the umbrella blew away with the might of storm ‘Hannah’. It now lays on the neighbours terrace, who are away in France and there it will stay until they return in 4 weeks. We wouldn’t want to be accused of trespass now, would we! Time to purchase a new umbrella I think!

Mrs Snodgrass

A rather rowdy afternoon from both Caleb and Thor. To be honest, they have both been battling it out for quite some time today and both have ended up on the naughty chair. Firstly Caleb for covering the kitchen table and floor with crunched up quavers. I was barely out of the room for two minutes. Come on guys, I tire of constant tidy up / pick up after you all. Okay five minutes on the naughty chair wasn’t enough so I picked up my phone, Caleb still shouting at me and asked to speak to Mrs Snodgrass, the Head Mistress at ‘Naughty School’ (Our fictitious final threat). ‘Yes Celia Snodgrass please’ and then ‘Thank You Bettina’ (Mrs Snodgrass’s assistant). ‘No Mrs Snodgrass, it’s not regarding Aaliyah, on this occasion it is Caleb’ (a short silence). ‘Okay and thank you, Monday morning should be fine’. At this point Caleb’s random shouting became a lot more legible. ‘Not Naughty School, not Mrs Snodgrass, no, not Mrs Snodgrass’. ‘I’m sorry Caleb, you left me no alternative’. He now believes that he will be leaving preschool and starting ‘Naughty School’ on Monday, that is unless (and this was my deal with him) he can be good for the rest of today and tomorrow , all day. He says that he can be good and that he is ‘very, very sorry’. Fingers crossed, he’s been very well behaved ever since. Thirty minutes after the Caleb incident, Thor had his turn. He was generally being loud and boisterous, but he then decided to run past daddy who was looking at his iPad. Thor then punched the iPad out of daddy’s hands. It went flying and crashed onto the floor. Luckily without damage. He just laughed and laughed at daddy – I had to intervene. Just like Caleb, he just shouted and shouted. I picked up my phone and once more I asked ‘Bettina’ for Mrs Snodgrass. Thor’s screaming was reaching a fever pitch. ‘Thank you Mrs Snodgrass, yes two places for Monday morning’ I then hung up. Calming Thor down a little, I gave him another choice of either 10 more minutes on the naughty chair or bed. ‘ I have a sore throat’ he remarked ‘and I am a bit tired – I will go to bed now’. Like Caleb before him, he has the rest of the weekend to prove that he can be a good boy. Once again, fingers crossed…

A Lunch of Samosas

It’s funny how food transports us back to a moment or a place. Just by making the choice of samosas rather than my usual sandwich and crisps, I find myself back in the hustle and bustle, the thronging streets of Mumbai. Towards the end of my time on the Indian Sub Continent, I often shared my time with a taxi driver known as Ram. He was a ‘kind hearted’ fellow, something that was very sadly in short supply in those times. On our many trips to the ‘Foreigners Regional Registration Office (F.R.R.O), he would show me both sympathy and support. He would also sing ancient songs in Hindi that, with his whispering, reedy voice, had the effect of halting my tears and making me stop worrying of what was happening in the ‘NOW’ and transport me to a mindset of relative serenity. Maybe more about remembering the trips to the F.R.R.O on another occasion, but today it’s all about samosas. Ram and I would always stop at one or two street vendors and enjoy a lunch, or afternoon tiffin of samosas with a small cup of extremely sweet, milky tea. He had a very good heart. And I will never be able to eat a samosa ever again without him in my thoughts.

Roundup

These four days of Sunday’s and sunshine have had their ups and downs for sure, but I can quite honestly say, we’ve had many laughs along the way. So, Happy Easter to all. I did stick to my threat of no Easter Eggs today after yesterday’s dilemmas, instead they got a white chocolate lamb (thank you Sally and Sonia). John and I also ate the head and front paws from a chocolate rabbit c/o M&S. Feel a bit sick really, just noticed dried snot on the television screen – CALEB!!!???

Final Thoughts of the Day

Pimms anyone? No seriously, what a day. John and Caleb weren’t too long getting the plaster reset, partly down to Caleb being such a cutie and the nurse fell for his smile. No sooner had they checked in and were told a 3 – 4 hour wait, the nurse said ‘I can probably smuggle him through if you follow me now’! I believe the woman who did the casting wasn’t busy, just one other there at the time and she was almost done with him.

The children enjoyed a ham sandwich and a hobnob (from a packet) for dinner, whilst John and I later enjoyed slow roast shoulder of lamb, roast potatoes alongside, cooked in the meat juices, spinach (my new favourite vegetable), with very thin green beans and wait for if, Johns home grown asparagus. The really sad thing is that the children will never actually know or care about what they have missed out on.

The story did not quite finish when they went up to bed at 6.30pm. They continued their loud, rapscallion antics for a further hour. I ended up, having had enough, storming up to the top floor. I stood back. I was thoroughly dismayed and shocked at what I saw, the sheer devastation of their rooms. If our nanny Sindy is reading this – I’m so sorry, but I guess they know not what they do – they seemingly have no remorse. Amritsar and Aaliyah were quiet and in bed so they were told that there would indeed be an egg for them tomorrow, but sadly Tara, leading the destruction was told ‘No Egg’ as were the boys. She looked sick with guilt (or just distraught with the realisation of not getting an egg tomorrow). Thor just screamed for 20 minutes ‘Sorry Dadda, Sorry’. I left them to it and said they were not allowed to come down for breakfast tomorrow until they tried their hardest to tidy up their rooms.

Their behaviour seems to be getting worse. It really does sadden me when they just don’t learn that there are always repercussions. And today I had the most memorable moment with Thor, in between the 2 altercations. He said to me ”Dadda, can I whisper something to you’? ‘Yes’ I replied and he went on to whisper ‘Dadda, I really, really love you’. It brought a tear to my eye.

Easter Sunday

Easter Egg hunt, cancelled. Daddy and Dadda, raised voices. The children, all now sat besides the television (it’s 3.30pm), relatively quietly, in their Jim jams. Caleb and Daddy, back off to the hospital (25 miles away) for a long wait at A&E. Reason being a sopping wet plaster cast. An ever bigger pile of laundry sat in the kitchen. This morning the terrace was tidied and manicured. This afternoon, world war three has left us its scarred battlefield. Tara looking most guilty for the quagmire of water, sand and mud. Sunday, slow roast shoulder of lamb and roast potatoes, cancelled. They’re now quiet. The bliss of that! Though more words might be said by Daddy in a raised voice in a few hours on their return from hospital. I was sunbathing on the lawn for 30 minutes. They were playing on the terrace. John went inside for 20 minutes to make a few phone calls. What he returned to – complete disaster. After Thursdays events with the three little ones destroying the ceilings on two separate floors with water, yes water again played it’s part in today’s cancelling of ‘ A Fun Day’. I’ll make them all sandwiches when John returns, then an early night for all five of them. Five, all under the age of six does has its drawbacks. An older chap or chapette might just lead them with a little more caution than ‘Tara’s enthusiasm’ does at present. That’s all for today. Happy Holidays to All xx

Five Months in Nepal 2015

Another ‘Look In’ on my time spent away from home in order for our family to become whole. These final five months were spent on the roof of the world, in Kathmandu, Nepal. On this occasion, I was unable to leave my family at home entirely. So this meant a very costly commute between both Nepal and ‘The Shires’. I would spend two weeks here and two weeks there.

There are no longer direct flights from European cities to Kathmandu. I think that this was due to a number of bad piloting errors landing at Kathmandu. So a non European carrier either to Delhi or one of the Middle Eastern states such as Dubai were the order of the day. Then I would take a connecting flight from there.

Obviously I could only share my time between two places if I had a very trustworthy child carer in Nepal. And at that time, not knowing any Nepali people meant looking slightly further afield for help. It was our first nanny, Bharti (from Mumbai) I asked to help look after Aaliyah and Caleb. She agreed and brought with her Rekha, a childhood friend. They were both a massive help with caring for the twins in my absence. I thank them both for being there.

Once again the Home Office did little to assist us with our passport applications. These were the months following the ‘Big’ earthquake in Kathmandu. There were still the occasional, smaller quakes . These were very frightening at times I remember. The Foreign Office were also not fit for purpose. All they did was avoid helping us. Five long months of senseless waiting – even after a DNA test conducted at Kings College Hospital proving parental connection to the children. Did I say that US citizens would be home with a child born through Surrogacy abroad within two weeks! Just the DNA test was enough to prove parental rights and the Surrogacy agreement with the clinic proved the intention of the said pregnancy. Anyhow, enough said. Five more big, bright full moons passed before Aaliyah and Caleb could call themselves ‘British Citizens’.

This memory of my time in beautiful Nepal is not about the specifics, rather just a fleeting moment of nostalgia. My full memoirs are of course part of the story of ‘Eighteen Moons’ (available through Amazon Kindle).

Drip, Drip, Drip

My entry that was written for yesterday’s goings on was interrupted with Caleb falling from Tara’s bed whilst his arm was between the slats at the side. I will rewrite some of what I was going to say. Well, what can I say! The little ones were having their afternoon nap, though I could still hear their shouting and running around, (laughing) on the wooden floors at the top of the house. Long gone are those magical moments of story time before sleepy bye byes etc. Their characters now so concrete, personalities apparent.

Writing this last night, I was again interrupted. Caleb had his moment, please note my earlier entry. I am now going to return to the original story: There was a good 30 minutes of commotion after lunchtime yesterday. I gave the three little ones the benefit of doubt. This I later learnt was at my peril. Tara went upstairs and came back down saying ‘Dadda, they have been very naughty – they have made a mess’. This they have done several times in the past, so I imagined that I would just venture up to the top floor and pickup all of the toys and clothing that would have been lying around. I waited for a few minutes to react. Suddenly I heard a cascade of water coming from John and my bedroom. I immediately jumped to attention and bolted up the stairs.

There certainly was a steady flow of water coming through the light fixture. I bolted up the second flight of stairs. Aaliyah heard me and made her retreat to her bed, leaving the boys, a sink, a running tap, several sopping wet towels and wet clothing scattered to the four corners of their shower room and surround area.

They were naked and running amuck without a care. I shouted lots, so much in fact my throat was later rather sore. All I could do was remove the soaking wet items and mop up the pool besides my bed on the floor below. As I sit in the living room, now the next day, water is still dripping onto the living room floor. I will show you below.

Not the best of days. But thankfully Caleb is well (arm in plaster cast), though my threat of no Chocolate Egg for the little ones today still stands. Amritsar and Tara are gloating.

Wounded Soldier

Caleb arrived home from the hospital at 12.30am with Sindy. He was tired and went straight up to bed. Sindy reassured me that all was well, however she had photographed the X-Ray. I will elaborate below. He must return to the hospital next Thursday to be re X-Ray’d. Please send any ‘Get Well Soon’ cards c/o ‘The Shires’.

Tonight’s rewrite of today’s events

It is with much sadness that I write my diary entry today. I was almost finished on the happenings of earlier today, but suddenly the whole dynamic had changed. The shouting upstairs led to me venturing up to the top floor. Caleb had been playing on Tara’s bed, thankfully the bottom of the two bunk beds tonight. Somehow he had fallen off. His coordination isn’t the best as you might recall, but somehow he fell out of the bed with his arm between the slats on the side of the bed. He was very distressed. I diplomatically asked the other children to stay in the bedroom whilst I led him downstairs to calm him down and put a shirt on him. He had removed his pyjamas and it was clear that his arm had been broken. Maybe one third up from his wrist there looked to be about a 15% angle. I’m no doctor but I think that it must be a clean break. John not being here (in London for a leaving do at work), I called our nanny Sindy in complete desperation. She arrived within twenty minutes and is now at the local hospital waiting in A&E. I am awaiting her update. I settled the four remaining children, trying to have that chat about ‘Cause and Effect’. They seem to understand that there are always consequences. But they are all still so little remember. I’m not sure that the little ones do learn from their mistakes as they do want to repeat their (on occasion) bad behaviour again and again. More of an update later. Fingers crossed. I am very saddened by this traumatic day.

Tara’s Second Visit from the Tooth Fairy

Well Tara was besides herself with the falling out of her second tooth late last night. Obviously it was too late for the tooth fairy to come then, so tonight is the big night for our ever elusive, mystical visitor. That would actually be John as I would be far too nervous of waking the sleeping clan as I clambered through their rooms. The big tooth growing behind looks sturdy enough. Goodbye little tooth,

The holidays are zooming by aren’t they? That plus I am not looking forward to four days of Sunday’s. The only pacifier for the children being chocolate eggs. They scoffed on their milk chocolate bunnies yesterday. Just five more chocolate eggs each to munch through. I purchased two each thinking that would be plenty, but then one came back with John from Dublin, Sindy has one and finally Sally and Sonia (Sindy’s sister and mum) have brought one too.

More updates on all of that gorging later.

Chocolate Hobnobs

 

Well today we had chocolate hobnobs if you hadn’t guessed and not a single cellophane packet was tampered with. These aren’t just any chocolate hobnobs, these are Dadda’s super chunky, melt in the mouth buttery, smooth and velvety, yet crunchy, home made, amazingly oatcakey ‘Chocolate Hobnobs’!

And just a couple of happy, chocolate smeared faces to boot. Cooking with Dadda can be a slightly messy affair with the children when it comes to cakes and chocolate.

Our Day So Far

4am John gets up and leaves for Dublin to see his mum who is unwell.

6am is a bed invasion and I am called to arms! Thor’s nose is dribbling with snot.

7am Breakfast was had – toast and ‘Dadda’s Jams’. A choice of either Strawlime berry, Black Grapple or Ginger and pumpkin.

8am and we are either watching a movie called Dragons or drawing at he kitchen table. I am tending to Thor’s runny nose.

10am Apples, pears or raisins as a snack. The little ones are playing up. More tissue for Thor.

12 midday lunch of marmite sandwiches and pasta salad. Tesco man arrives, dogs lick him and children play in his crates. They quickly learn how to propel themselves forward by thrusting their shoulders forward. Thor and Caleb sent up to their bedroom for their nap as their playing was way too boisterous.

2pm the boys came down after helping Dadda to clean up a huge mess that they had made in their room. Tara still watching Dragons, now the series (not movie) on Netflix. Amritsar on her iPad (Kindle Fire). A treat of chocolate. The little ones return to the top floor, this time to play. Thor’s nose is still dribbling.

3pm the little ones return. Caleb has flooded their bathroom. Thinking Chair now, where he will stay… Aaliyah has returned upstairs for a jumper. I asked would she help clear up this second round of mess – a flat ‘No Caleb did it’. Thor’s nose is still flowing with snot. She has just returned. I asked if she had cleared up the mess ‘Yes I did Dadda’. ‘Good Girl’ I replied. All is now peaceful. Thor has gone to the kitchen for tissue. Gracie our adorable Dalmatian is snuggling up besides me.

A Day of Quiet Reflection (or Not)

These are the words I found myself saying to Aaliyah earlier. Why you may ask? ‘Dadda I am getting socks – Dadda I am not getting socks, I am getting’!!! And all went silent, she returned to The living room. Then the conversation moved on to ‘give me my pillow back, it’s mine – give it back’. Thor is hammering away on the piano and there are screams to daddy ‘can we go bike riding, please daddy’?

This morning started early. A bed invasion at 6am, home made pancakes, then the chaotic discord commenced! Thor disappeared and came back swaddled in a bed sheet. Baby Thor has reimagined himself yet again. The games children create can be pretty random can’t they?

I am reminded of games played on the top floor on Wednesday when the little ones should have been having my sleep! Sindy went up to wake them at 2pm to find their bathroom floor covered in 2 nappies worth of poo (Thor and Caleb’s) plus half a dispensers worth if hand wash. The boys feet were caked in bubbles and the stinkiest poo ever imagined! They told her that the bubbles made sliding in the poo easier… go figure! Aaliyah slept through all the stinky proceedings. There will no doubt be an update on today’s proceedings later.

Aaliyah and Gracie

Error
This video doesn’t exist

There is real love between Aaliyah and our adorable Dalmatian hound Gracie. She really does get overlooked a lot of the time, Gracie that is, not Aaliyah. With Remus’s rather robust behaviour, he is certainly the ‘Top Dog’ in our house. About a year ago, Aaliyah’s traumatic threes kind of slowed down a notch! It is true that I was sending her to the naughty chair rather a lot. Then, as if by magic, her continual antagonism just slowed down. At the same time she started to show our two Dalmatians Remus and Gracie, an awful lot of attention, especially Gracie (a girl thing I guess). Ever since, every day the two can be seen playing from time to time. It’s fascinating to watch as Aaliyah holds grace by the neck with both outstretched arms to minimise the licks and they just play together. Maybe this love can be nurtured into something very positive! Of course her behaviour, Aaliyah’s not Gracies still finds her sat on the naughty chair, but not nearly as much as it used to!

After we Arrived Home with baby Thor from Thailand

We weren’t prepared. We weren’t organised. Our au pair was ready to throw the towel in. Sara, Johns sister had gone home to Dublin. John himself had a busy workload and was straight back to work. Yet here I was, with a very screamy Thor, feeling himself out of sorts (the long trip home on the airplane and everything was new to him). Our au pair had decided to lock herself in her bedroom complaining of ‘the flue’. It was a Monday and the girls in my absence, had been drafted into a west London preschool by John, in order to free up the mornings for our au pair. She flatly refused to participate, though she had dropped them in that morning. It was a Monday and Sara had left the previous day. The plane brought us home early morning. We arrived back at the flat and John went straight back out the door to work! I just could not believe the shabbiness of the flat. Two toddlers are a lot of work to be sure, but with john so pressured with his work life, our au pair had allowed the flat to become a sorry sight compared to its former glory. The girls toys were stuffed into a chimney breast and the walls were covered with various detritus. General dirt and pencil scribbling, in most rooms. Thor was also screaming and screaming. I found a spoon in the kitchen, besides the microwave that had been left there for some time. I tried to pick it up but the jam on the said spoon had almost crystallised, making it impossible to budge. I managed to sort it out and settle Thor into his baby sling and set off for the preschool to pick up the girls. On my arrival it was lovely to talk to the manager, then a couple of members of staff, who were all knowledgeable about the girls new baby brother, finally coming home. It soon came to the reintroduction! Remember, I had been away from my little angels for five months at the mercy of the Home Office and their scrutiny over baby Thor’s right to a British passport. Thor was quite bemused by his surroundings and I was very apprehensive. Would the girls remember me? I had been with them since their births, right up until the day I left for Thor’s arrival in Thailand. I had missed their second birthday (that was spent in Dublin with the family), they were now toddlers using their very first diction and attempts at conversation. The door of the main play area opened and Thor and I entered. A minute or so before the girls saw me, one of the teachers had gone over to coax them towards me. They looked up, they smiled and then they shouted with glee ‘Dadda, Dadda’ Tara screamed with bliss, then ‘Dadda, Dadda’ Amritsar echoed. It will be remembered as one of my happiest ever moments in life. I welled up but had to take a few deep breaths and start the big introduction to their new baby brother Thor. We were finally reunited, the girls and I, plus there was a new member of the family, baby Thor. Though I felt shattered and realised  that there was a massive job ahead, to organise family life into some kind of order, things were definitely looking up. We were all back together, a family united, as it should be.

Remember that I have never brought politics into this family diary, but I have to admit, I do bare some malice towards the Home Office here in the U.K. As when the girls were conceived, the Home Office  website clearly stated that a passport application for a baby, born through IVF and Surrogacy abroad would take six weeks. That was six months before their births. We looked back at the Home Office website pages every few weeks. Six weeks changed to eight weeks. A little later the same page was updated to three months and finally within a very short timeline, the information had changed to four months, though in our experience of three occasions, the reality was a five month wait. In the USA, children born through international Surrogacy would be Home, with a US passport in just two weeks! Shameful really, isn’t it?

I do scrutinise these changes of passport waiting times in my novel ‘Eighteen Moons’. Believe me, when your own government is seemingly working against you at such a fragile time – it’s a major uphill struggle – and for us it certainly was, at every single juncture. Shame on you – the then Home Secretary ‘Mrs Theresa May’!!!