Memories of My Own School Holidays

This weather really sucks. The rain,wind and more rain is more akin to my memories of the school summer holidays ‘back in the day’. Though back then, we were allowed so many more freedoms than children have today. I suppose that it was just as well as growing up with only three television channels really sucked! I remember that the BBC would rerun rubbish old shows, even the likes of the ancient 1930’s Flash Gordon and movies like ‘Beau Geste’! What was that all about! I remember really hating the summer rain. If you couldn’t go out – there really was not a lot to do. I think today’s options are a lot more stimulating. Well I must finally add that our Kindle 7’s were on overdrive this afternoon. The children are not allowed them before midday and even then, we do monitor the amount of usage. Who invented ‘Crossy Road’? The children love that game. Though I am not sure that I like the addictive nature of ‘candy crush’ as Amritsar has just become very upset that she can not progress through a level. Did I say, this weather really sucks?

Workout and Workin’ on it Finally

There’s only so much you can do in an hour isn’t there? And on the fitness front, I had my first meet with the fitness instructor Adam this morning. Some interesting exercises, I was most impressed. Seeing him again on Saturday to go through the same routine. I will obviously continue my more sporadic regime alongside. Also hoping to cut back on the calories too, otherwise this assertion would be pointless, wouldn’t it? Having said that, I have already sacrificed Dadda and Daddy’s portions of the oaty peach crumble with cream to the children tonight for their dessert. Cottage pie was made whilst our nanny Sindy and the children went to the park this afternoon. On Friday they visited a local common where the ponies graze freely. She took an amazing photo of our bunch and kindly said that I could put it on my blog tonight. Thank you Sindy. I personally have always found ‘The Family Portrait’ a difficult one given that there’s always someone looking down, eyes closed, running off, you get the picture, or indeed not! Anyhow, Tara was in awe of a group of 10 or so ponies that they saw. She is really longing for her own dream horse, though sadly we can not take that route as it is such a huge commitment. We will have to wait to ‘borrow’ ponies as and when. They had such a great time the weekend before last at ‘Epsom Polo Club’. Thank you again to them and we are really looking forward to our next visit sometime soon!

Feeling Exhausted at This Point

Good evening all! Here I finally sit at the small dinner table in our living room, completely exhausted from our busy yet fun weekend. John arrived home an hour ago from his gruelling journey that is the Sunday afternoon flight from Dublin to London Heathrow. Thank you Air Lingus (British Airways) for the fourth delayed flight home on this very popular route at this time in the day in succession.

We’ve just finished a roast dinner of our family favourite, roast leg of pork, home made pork scratching straws, Dadda’s apple jam, roast potatoes, garlic and butter fine green beans and petit pois with home made bisto gravy. Phew – and all that served up at the drop of a hat!

John now settled in front of the Antiques Roadshow (that I recorded earlier), I have a few moments to reflect on the weekend.

We had a busy time, what with children being children and just me to corral them and manage our time of arts, crafts and play. Lots of screams and laughs and plenty of debate with Thor and Aaliyah. Caleb is still using the power of pure scream to deliver himself, so Dadda did have to say that he was getting ‘one of his heads’ a couple of times, quickly followed by Thor agreeing that he was getting a headache also. He raises his tone and says’ please Caleb (or Aaliyah), you must be a little quieter as my head is hurting a little bit’. He does make me smile.

Aaliyah’s fingers in her mouth is something that I have held back on overly mentioning in the past as I believe that we all went through that stage in our earlier years. Of our crew, Tara spent some time managing the ‘wrinkly finger syndrome’. Though with regards Aaliyah, many of our family photos going back to her very early days show her with her right hands middle and index fingers firmly inserted! We’ve talked about it a lot in the past couple of weeks. She is aware that she has to try a bit harder to stop it in these weeks leading up to the start of ‘Big School’. Anyhow, today we came to a compromise. She knows that there is a lotion available from the chemist that helps to quell the habit, but we discussed the wearing of a single woollen glove. She was very good and kept it on for the majority of the day. All in all she did not deposit her fingers into her mouth. Well done Aaliyah. But I do have one thing to add! And that is that like me she shows the signs of being ambidextrous, so she was quite confident to plug her left hand in when she felt needy enough for the comfort of sucking fingers. As a matter of fact I always lay her spoon or fork on the left hand side every breakfast, lunch and dinner! Like me she mostly uses her right hand but has the capacity to use her left hand in just the same way. I do hope her new school do not try to make her choose when she starts in September. I can actually write with my left hand in reverse to what my right hand is writing if I practice for a few minutes. Perfect symmetry with reverse wording or shapes and patterns come to think of it. I remember that it used to come in handy when I worked in design before the onset of ‘Family Life’. I often found myself doing totally different jobs with either of my hands.

Okay, my last thoughts for today have been scuppered with my very snotty nose, excessive sneezing and coughing a plenty. I noted about six months back in a diary entry headed ‘The Three Year Old Cold’ that it has been a constant in my life ever since the girls started preschool. And when they left, the little ones started there and have been there these last two years. Well this disgusting cold has constantly prevailed. It’s not just the wiping of the children’s noses week in and week out, but I have caught every single cold that has been brought home! I wash my hands some 40 times a day, however with the children’s sharing of toys at preschool from mouth to hand to mouth – the viruses prevail. Funny however that the moment that Amritsar and Tara went to ‘Big School’, they have not brought home a single cold. Another amazing fact is that they have also not once ever picked up one of these new colds (clearly great immunity). I look forward to a future life without sneezing and coughing on a daily basis as the accepted norm. Some pics and video of the weekend tomorrow perhaps.

Today’s Diary Entry

What can I say! A fairly calm, yet crazy day here in ‘The Shires’, Just myself and the children, all pretty much on overdrive. John dining out in Dublin tonight with his two sisters and I am settled in front of the TV watching Netflix. It is just coming up to 10pm. The children were in bed by 7pm but decided to continue play until about half an hour ago. They are at a point where they are not as likely to ‘trash’ their room as they used to be on their late night antics, so much that I can rest in the relative knowledge that all is well on the top floor.

The smell of curry still emirates and intoxicates. In amongst today’s goings on, the children put on a ‘show’ for me this afternoon, the girls were singing and the little ones just having lots of fun.

I cooked a gravy (curry sauce with tempered spices, onions and tomatoes) freezing about 70% and using the other 30% to make a kilo of dal, now chilled and frozen.

They ate square burgers in ciabatta with sliced pickles, ketchup and American mustard for dinner, accompanied by that Tortilla we all helped to produce earlier. Caleb did not complain so I guess his gripe about eating eggs is over! Match point for ‘Team Dadda’. More tomorrow – thank you for reading.

Chips’n’Choices

Friday night saw the weeks leftovers consumed with one of our dinner options (Chips’n’Choices). Our choices saw the children battling over Daddy and Dadda’s leftover Spaghetti puttanesca, ratatouille (made with our home grown courgettes) and homemade pork meatballs with penne! I do like these nights as I don’t like to throw away good food as John does not officially eat ‘leftovers’… I was thinking of going against the grain and offer fried eggs as a choice as our crew don’t really eat enough eggs and Caleb has start expressing that he no longer likes eggs. Something that should be addressed at this early stage as if left unattended, he will become entrenched in his ways.

So, this morning I decided to cook Spanish Tortilla (potato omelette). Chicken sandwiches with Dadda’s tomato chutney for lunch and looking forward to cold meats for dinner served up with the tortilla. I will see how Caleb addresses the situation. I might make a tomato sauce to serve with it – hmmmm…

School Holidays

Our first week of the school holidays has almost passed. The start of the week saw me put back my initial workout with the personal trainer until next Monday. The children have been enjoying the outdoors, even with this heatwave, there has been some fun and frolics in the pool. Lots of video footage, but I won’t overdose you with the screams and all that splashing about. Our nanny has just taken them all out to Thatcham Lake to feed the ducks and I am enjoying this small respite before lunch. Sadly John is back to Dublin this weekend as his mother is extremely unwell at this point. I wish her well. The children have this morning made pictures and gifts for her. CBeebies is playing away in the background and Remus is barking sporadically with every minute sound that he hears. He is always a little sensitive and when waiting for the children to return from school or a trip such as today, he listens intently for the slightest sound that might be them! Gracie is much more laid back.

Yesterday saw myself and all five children hiding in the terrace to spot the Thrush and hear the chirps of the chicks. We sat at the table for 5 minutes under the parasol in hiding for the thrush to return from its forage with a beak full of worms. Tara decided that we all needed to be camouflaged, so she and Thor darted back inside to grab hoodies, Barbour jackets and M65 jackets to swaddle everyone in. It was hot yesterday remember. So as we sat there waiting rather uncomfortably, Thor decided that MiMi (his much beloved bear) was too hot, so he headed back inside, just as the thrush arrived and the chicks erupted is their feeding frenzy. ‘I’m missing it – I’m missing it’ he screamed and ran back outside. Well, we waited a little more and saw the thrush return to the rapture a second time, Aaliyah got bored and we all returned inside to the relative cool of the living room.

Better get lunch underway before the not so famous five return. Perhaps more later!

Bitter Lemon Marmalade and a Sweet New Beginning

There has been a rollercoaster of emotions this last week or so! But the title for tonight’s diary entry is what I will be writing about.

Wow – it’s warm here in the U.K. and indeed this is shared all over Europe. In these coming days we have a unified weather front with our European neighbours, though you might be aware that we are leaving the political unity that was once Europe! As you know I make it my place not to comment on politics. Anyhow, on this specific day, we have a new prime minister. NO COMMENT!

Here in ‘The Shires’ my day began as most do, with breakfast for our not so famous five. All on school holiday now until they set off for ‘Big School’ in early September. Okay, entertained by our highly regarded and trusted nanny this morning, I found the time to oven roast lemons, scrape the pith and chop the peel, then boil on a moderate heat with extra lemon juice and sugar until the result was a firm set ‘Bitter Lemon Marmalade’. So sour on the taste buds (And with that much sugar), yet it was captivatingly exciting to the pallet. Sweet treats with a sour taste – one has to consider that the world we live in has room for everything, every taste, smell and indeed emotion! Okay my confectioning almost aside – we ate croissants with Dadda’s blue cherry berry jam and 2 squares of bitter dark chocolate. Well, they’re on holiday and frosted flakes just seemed a bit mundane this morning.

Now onto the ‘sweet new beginning’ element of my words for tonight! My thoughts are a reference to an earlier blog, simple entitled ‘The Power of Words’! No pressure then… And no pictures.

For this last week, the mated pair of thrushes that had abandoned their nest last month had been busy! Maybe 3 weeks ago, they had returned and started to spruce up the nest hidden within the ivy and grapevine on our ‘green wall’. Seemingly no expense spared on the interior decor front – they both worked hard to reinforce the structure and wings were heard a flapping, in order to create an internal space that would accommodate a new brood. There was some silence for a while and then this week the chirp, chirp, chirps of tiny chicks could be heard once again. I am so filled with happiness that these committed feathered neighbours are once more blessed with the chance of being a family. I felt in awe as this mornings early cup of coffee, sitting on our terrace was blessed with a small storm of flying ants. It’s hot isn’t it? You know every summer at a certain time – the flying ants come out, seemingly out of nowhere to dance the day away, always on a hot day like today. Now, one of the thrushes came close – it felt a little unreal as this feathered couple are usually quite aloof, not that akin to coming too close to us humans. But one of the thrushes came within a metre of me several times and. sounded a strange vocal note, very unlike any bird sound that I have ever heard. It flitted around and around, collecting beak fulls of these little insects again and again, up to the nest, then back. The chicks chirps erupting feverishly on every single journey. The experience was mesmerising – I felt the undemanding gift of nature and it’s true relationship with family. We are all born with ‘need’ aren’t we? But nurture along side nature can turn that need into something so much more constructive. And that is selfless want, I remember the time when John and I decided to become a family! I think we managed our expectations and experience well, through a certain amount of grief and adversity prevailed. Pride is what we feel for our children and to our previous achievements in becoming the family that we are today.

The Full Moon Passed

What with all of the talk this month of the 50th anniversary of the lunar landings, plus the partial lunar eclipse here in the U.K. I find it strange that I have not mentioned the ‘Full Moon’ cycle! I guess with last months subscription to ‘Kindle Unlimited’ (and the month prior) prohibiting the electronic publication of ‘Eighteen Moons’ on any other platform, including this my diary, I have decided not to continue with the subscription from early August. This will once again allow me to publish the ‘Saga’ (one chapter per month) on here at least. The exercise of joining Kindle Select has found ‘Eighteen Moons’ an additional 1000+ readers and I suppose that can’t be a bad thing. And for you guys, please don’t forget that the paperback and ebook version of the story is still available through your Amazon account, simply by searching ‘Eighteen Moons’.

This brings me to another admission. And that is the near completion of my second novel ‘Thirteen Moons More’ and that is the compilation, organisation and editing of this blog, a year in the life of ‘Diary of a Gay Dad’. I did not think that it was enough, just to tell the story of how my family came to be through such diversity, heartache and commitment, I thought that it was really important to catalogue and relay to you the story of just who we are today and to see what we have grown into – The loving family that we are.

This is an interesting time. These past twelve Months have taken us from being a fairly chaotic bunch of little people, post baby and toddler stage, to a family of five young children (now between the ages of 4 and 6) having begun or about to take their ‘School Years Experience’. This coming chapter will ultimately help define them all and begin to fine tune their futures.

We have the Summer holidays to survive first, so fingers crossed. Okay, my blog started back in October 2018, so it is only fitting that ‘Thirteen Moons More’ will take us up to the end of September. The conclusion of my new novel will see them take their first tentative steps into the realm of their first true independence as School children, as it were, no longer tied to mothers or in this case ‘Dadda’s apron strings’!

And then what, I really don’t know…

Thor Has Joined the Mantle of Doing ‘No 1’s’ Standing

An unreported story of some four weeks back. Whilst visiting a friends home, Thor being a bit taller than a few months ago, asked if he could do the ‘boys grown up pee pee’? ‘I don’t see why not’ I exclaimed!

So one very proud little boy took his first steps to becoming a ‘big boy’. He was so very proud of himself. As we were of him.

A lot of parenting is about experiencing the ‘first time ‘ for everything. So many moments to remember and still so many to come…

What a Weekend

Where did it go! What with MiMi impaled on one of the twins birthday presents and later submerged in water for some time, he now sits within the washing machine waiting for an eco wash and spin.

Only two videos posted over the last 2 days. And now, a few words of reflection. Saturday saw just me with the children. John was in Dublin for the day to be with his mum and sisters. We’re all thinking of you Hazel X.

So, our day had its ups and downs. We started with on a fairly somber tone with no Daddy to play up to. All was calm for most of the day. After a pasta lunch, tablets were allowed. So a trancelike state was enjoyed for maybe two hours. And then we had the spontaneous ‘Crazy Kids’ outbreak of the run around the sofa. Strangely they settled into bed without bother. No doubt due to the sheer exhaustion of their earlier antics. John arrived home around 9.30pm and dinner was a simple affair of dressed crab on sourdough toast. If I have learnt anything in the last couple of years – it’s fine to purchase pre-picked crab meat! Lol, I used to always pick my own, buying whole frozen or fresh Cromer Crabs and working up a sweat to extract every morsel of meat! Well, you live and learn don’t you?

Sunday saw an early rise and the moans of ‘can we build the swimming pool, can we build the swimming pool’? Yes, thank you to our relations in Ireland for the gift of a non inflatable pool. I believe the pool cost around £70, but the heating element (not included) was a sum, three times more! Anyhow, John gave in at around 10am and set about the mammoth task of building this summers all important pool. We have had one every summer for the last three years. Usually large and inflatable and broken before the autumnal fall. Here’s to lots of summer fun and frolics. I’ll keep you posted.

Did I say that Caleb disappeared upstairs just before dinnertime? He reappeared wearing a pink tutu and started to do the groove! On this I have no official comment, only that he looked very happy and at the age of 4 years old – that’s enough for me.

Aaliyah and Thor had their fair share of outbursts. But overall the day was a pleasure. The sun finally blessed us for the latter hours, so chicken nuggets and chips were enjoyed on the terrace before bath time and bed.

Monday morning now and it feels like the weekend has once again flashed by. The children now at school and I sit here, the dogs chilled besides me on the sofa. There’s a second crab sat in the fridge (pre-picked in the shell). I’m thinking ‘Maryland Crab-cakes’ for dinner. The little ones are back at lunchtime. I’m trying to think if Thor is eating cheese this week, or is it ham that he hates at the moment! You should have heard the drama a couple of weeks ago at preschool when he had a packed lunch. I had accidentally put in Aaliyah’s marmite sandwiches opposed to his Jam sandwiches in his lunchbox! The drama that ensued. He’s not an easy boy when it comes to lunchtimes…

‘Thank You For Our Little Chat Dadda’

So far this week, all has gone as clockwork. You may have sussed out that our major breakdowns usually happen at the weekend when Daddy is here. You see, they all play up for daddy – competing for his attention. In the week, what with school and preschool and Sindy’s calm and organised structure, we have a pretty smooth time of it. Tonight however, the moment that Sindy headed home, firstly Amritsar’s screams could be heard for Gurney, her white and green favourite teddy bear. I shouted up that she could come down and I would retrieve him from the kitchen. She met me at the bottom of the stairs and I handed over her overly loved, limp and squashed little bear. Tara also appeared, popping her head around the balustrade on the mid landing. She also ascended, as did Thor. Down they all trumbled, as did Aaliyah and finally Caleb. Thor was chat, chat, chat. Amritsar and I had a hug, then ‘kiss and hug’ for Aaliyah, then Tara. ‘Come on guys’ I exclaimed. ‘You really need to head back up.’ Thor was still chat, chat, chat. Aaliyah headed back up as did the others barr Thor, still chat, chat, chat. He finally concluded his little chat with ‘I love you Dadda and thank you for our little chat’. Well, that was it really. All upstairs now and they seem quiet enough now. Steak and chips on the menu tonight for John and I. Bring it on!!!

Some More Holiday Pics

Well, our 24 hour holiday is two weeks past now and another four weeks until we set off to the Cornish coast once again. Although it was a stressful 24 hours, we did have some fun along the way. I think that might just be my philosophy for this week. Yes, every cloud has a silver lining – doesn’t it? The sky here in ‘The Shires’ is grey and overcast today, so I found myself a few rays of sunshine from within my iPhones picture gallery. I’m feeling all summery once again. I hope you too enjoy!