Pretty Much Back to Normal

Aaliyah is fighting Amritsar in the living room, trying to steel her ‘Heeleys’. Thor is hugging a soft ball we brought in Grasse, France, two years ago, purchased from an artisan shop in the old town lanes. Caleb is sat on daddy’s lap, as is Tara! Thirty minutes ago, the latter two were asked to leave the dinner table due to Tara eating her dinner slower than a snail, as was Caleb. I tried to help Caleb by spooning the said food to his mouth. He then took a swig of water and proceeded to spit the ‘lentil bake’ all over my hand. Thor and Aaliyah ate with gusto. Odd really as Thor was the main voice of opposition to the lentil bake and Aaliyah on the other hand simply refused to eat the dish the last time it was had. An early night for her that night due to her sheer indignant behaviour.

Tara and Amritsar are now sat beside the television looking like identical twins in their new matching pyjama sets. As you know they are not identical at all, but do have a blush of similarities and pretty much the same hair style, albeit Tara’s newish fringe. Aaliyah has vanished, Thor still grasping the soft ball and Caleb is clinging to daddy’s head firmly.

Bath time now, to be followed by bedtime. Hopefully they will sleep well as they were all up past 10pm last night playing silly buggers on the stairs for a fourth night. They will certainly find the return to school next week very challenging.

Aaliyah is now screaming ‘Caleb is not my friend, Caleb is not my friend’. Both Aaliyah, Thor and his ball and Caleb are swarming over Daddy’s head. Aaliyah shouts loudly, now Thor has vocally joined her. A relative cats chorus.

I have just implored Daddy to start the bath time duties as I am tiring of the antics in motion. Remus is snuggled on my lap with Gracie beside.

Daddy’s trip to the fridge has just resorted in Caleb going ballistic. He was given some Brie much to my annoyance with his behaviour at dinner time. Caleb spits his dinner at me and now complains that he is hungry!

He is presently squeezing daddy’s legs saying ‘I want you, I want you’ wailing louder and louder. Oops! He has just produced a rather large snot bubble. Sadly not caught on camera as was Thor’s world record breaker of last spring!

My cold on the other hand, after 4 years now, has yet to clear up! Clearly the little ones are still sucking second hand objects at school with their classmates. Odd that the girls stopped doing that once they escaped their old, germ infested preschool…

Family Day Out on Exhibition Road

A big thank you to cousins Jamsey and Theo (Over from Dublin) for entertaining our guys today at the Science Museum in London. Of course we were in the company of Auntie Sara and Uncle Gerry also. Just back home in ‘The Shires’ now and the children up to bed. Some sounds of volatility, but hoping that they will settle soon. The last few nights have seen them coming down the stairs repeatedly, up until past 9pm. Only natural being on their Christmas Holidays. I just cornered them off midway. Somehow they have unearthed their old hairbrush, now missing 6 months. God knows where they have been excavating!

Children can be a bit mental when they are having fun.

I can fully recommend this fun day out. Even at this time of year, the Science Museum was not too busy.

So many fun things to engage with.

Do excuse the portrait angle of my phone! Unlike many, I always shoot in landscape. Obviously I was as carried away as the rest of the crew.

Christmas Eve

Last Christmas I avoided all diary entries for a while. I guess I just thought that everyone had enough on their own plates to deal with, including a turkey, a ham, some sprouts, plus all of the trimmings!

I remember starting an Instagram account on Boxing Day with some footage of our Christmas dinner and then a rendition of the twelve days of Christmas. I only maintained the Instagram account, though it still exists, for 6 months. Damn, that concept of social media is so time consuming. I found that all of my spare time was just being absorbed and nothing really came back as to followers from there migrating to my diary! It was all about capturing a moment in time albeit a photo or a short video. But I do that with words in my diary don’t I? Well that, coupled with an image for the day.

I think that this year I will do a few daily updates with what’s going on here on my blog.

I hope everyone has a stress free time tonight with the preparations for Santa’s Visit.

I remember a couple of years ago, the family from Ireland all chipped in for a flat pack ‘Pirates Castle and boat’. The arguments that John and I went through for the 2 hours to put It together and struggling with the 1000 pieces, the allen keys and obviously, those inevitable missing pieces! Never again I say, never again.

So once again, good luck with tonight everybody…

Two More Sleeps To Go

A crazy enough day, what with our nanny off and John at work. Overall the not so famous five have been well behaved, just the occasional flash point or two from each and every one of them.

Remus has been hiding mostly! He has restarted daytime snoozing on our bed. I think in order to avoid the children and their various antics. He knows he’s not allowed, but I’ve kind of turned a blind eye due to the fact that Christmas is almost upon us.

One of Thor’s gifts was an art set. And this afternoon they each in turn painted a landscape scene. You might remember that painting is generally banned from the house due to a couple of incidents! The main one being Tara and Thor stripping off and covering their bodies in hand painting. Aaliyah and Caleb were thankfully just face painted.

Thor’s pile of presents is slowly diminishing as things get opened, broken and binned! I don’t know how they manage to accomplish the sheer volume of destruction.

The living room is really looking Christmasy now, though I held off from playing Christmas music today, giving Thor a final feeling of birthday spirit.

This afternoon they all kept singing ‘two more sleeps to go’. That is, until tomorrow, when as you know, it will be ‘one more sleep to go’!

John due home at 6pm. So, I am sure the tempo will be raised for the final witching hour. But they are all settled for now at least.

Happy Winter Solstice (04.19 GMT) Tonight

At present Thor is In the living room screaming. Just a small echo of the astronomy of this moment! Yes, it is the Winter Solstice tonight, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the eve of (our) Thor’s birth!

For me, this astronomical event signifies the true start of Winter. Some imagine that December 1st indicates the beginning of Winter, but hear me out? With Christmas but a few days away – how did the birth of Christ get conveniently moved to that specific date? Wasn’t it the Roman conversation to Christianity (in order to better control their vast population), that turned the pagan festival of the solstice into what is now the Xmas holidays?

So, I would like to get all pre Christ for a moment and wish you all a ‘Happy Winters Solstice’ and as for our son Thor, I’ll save his birthday wishes for tomorrow. FYI – Thor is still in the living room screaming…

Yesterday’s Party

Thor enjoyed his party very much with his school friends plus Charlie from his old preschool. The soft play area was perfect for hosting children’s parties because they are safe areas, the food and the party bag is also included in the set price and all we had to bring was a shop brought birthday cake.

Once we arrived home and the not so famous five had come down a little from their sugar highs, all went up to bed with not too much of a struggle. Tomorrow is the actual birthday (Sunday 22nd December), so another cake, this time the home baked one!

Not a lot to report really. The beginning of the Christmas school holidays and our nanny is off for the next couple of weeks. So just John and I at home to man the ship! Will we sink or swim – that is the question?

All playing nicely at present in the living room. Which is nice due to the fact that daddy gave them their sweetie bags given to them at school as soon as breakfast was finished. He’s gone out for a haircut and believes that they can self monitor the consumption of the sweets! Believe me, I’m not getting involved. They will surely be sweet-less within the hour. Then, your guess is as good as mine! An update for you before bedtime no doubt. You know, I can’t really feel too Christmasy until Thor’s birthday is behind us. But that is just the way it is. On the year of his birth, I actually got to bring him home on Christmas Day as by that time I was experienced enough with feeds etc. Only three days for him on the maternity ward at the hospital. Anyhow, the best Christmas present ever! The word home, maybe that’s the wrong word to use. I was alone and living in a serviced apartment in central Bangkok. It would be five months until we actually returned ‘Home’.

But here we are now, not five months, rather five years later. Doesn’t time fly!

Running on Vapours and Burnt Cakes

Two days ago we ordered heating oil. We were quoted 2nd January for a delivery. But we have 5 children and its Christmas we said, but sadly this fell on deaf ears. Yesterday we called a competitor and were told that they also could not help due to being so busy at this time of year. It was quite cold yesterday, but as soon as the children left for school, I turned off the heating and hot water and on their return at 3pm, I switched the system back on. What were we going to do?

Thankfully our nanny suggested another option and that was to buy the kerosene by the 20ltr jerrycan. So we purchased five and we picked them up. I emptied them into the fuel tank this morning. The first splosh fell flat on the base of the tank. We were indeed running our heating system on vapours.

Another company was called today and they thankfully can deliver on Monday or Tuesday. Drama averted. Christmas would have been a nightmare without heat! On the subject of heat, one of our two ovens is also broken. The engineer came out 2 weeks ago and said he would come back with a part. We heard nothing back. But yesterday Sindy followed him up and thankfully they are able to come on Friday. Though the only time slot they had was 12 – 6pm. I do hope they come early as we are celebrating Thor’s 5th Birthday then. Sindy has very kindly said that she would be more than happy with waiting in if she had to and come to the party when they were done. Thank you Sindy, yet again!

On the subject of ovens, I tried to bake Thor’s Birthday Cake on Monday in the surviving oven and twice it burnt. I have not burnt a cake in many years. The second oven will roast meat, but as for baking, the temperature is not even enough. I do miss the fan assisted one that should hopefully be fixed on Friday.

I finally managed to bake two acceptable layers for the vanilla and strawberry cake and I put them in the freezer. I couldn’t make a third layer due to running out of eggs and not really wanting to chance burning the cake for a third time. Thank you again Sindy for running out and getting more eggs. A personal message to her – we do appreciate you!

Anyhow Thor’s actual birthday is on Sunday and I think that we can eat the two layer home made cake then. And as for the party! It’s okay to shop buy on occasion, I just won’t make a habit of it. Today’s picture is taken from Tesco dot com. I would also like to thank Tesco for actually not substituting or saying not in stock. I purchased two of them, so I hope the grownups get a slice too. More on Thor’s Big Boy Birthday then…

I could have told you about the drama with the calor gas for the stove, but I won’t bore you with that today! Not being on mains gas has its disadvantages doesn’t it?

It’s Not Easy Understanding Surrogacy

I noted on the BBC’s London news tonight, another Surrogacy story regarding a hospital, compensation and commercial Surrogacy in the US. I am not extending any political view, though Tara and I had another talk today about ‘FAMILY’!

When clearing up last night just before bath-time, I came across a letter scribbled on an envelope, no doubt meant for the ‘Elf Mail’ service leaving from the living room fireplace. Reading the letter did bring a few tears to my eyes. I have now had another chat with all of the children (about Surrogacy) tonight, bar Aaliyah as she was at her Gymnastics class with Sindy.

If you can not make out the writing in tonights photograph, though Tara is a great writer for 6, almost 7 years old, I will express her words now! Remember, we have talked about Surrogacy in the past and all of the children have the knowledge of a baby being blessed into being from three separate elements – an egg, some fertiliser and a tummy. The tummy of course needs to be that of a woman.

Anyhow, this is what she wrote: “Dear Mum – What did you give to me for my birthday. I hope you had fun at my birthday party. Love Tara x❤️o

It wrenched my heart when I read it. There are a few ethical questions to be considered. There are also one or two legal matters and global differences in the written word of the law that should be looked at!

We had such a hard time with our 5 x separate parental orders with the U.K. courts. Our rights to be parents here in the UK were seriously set at a disadvantage. Remember that we chose international commercial (compensated) Surrogacy because the U.K. Law seemed so very behind with its bias for the surrogates rights above that of the genetic (intended) parents rights. Okay, so compensated Surrogacy was our choice and that had me personally thrown to the four winds for Eighteen months of my life spanning 2013, until almost 2016.

Yes, if our surrogate was an altruistic surrogate who used her own egg to help us have a family, she would have every right to be a third parent. That idea cannot be denied… that was not however what we chose when we both decided to become parents. Too many cooks can seriously spoil the broth.

Our route was explored and followed as we realised that an egg donor isn’t generally part of the planned parenting scenarios, much like sperm donation there is an element of something being gifted. This fact is one that is unified within the laws of pretty much all governments and the laws that they abide by. However. In the case of the surrogates (for us), they were also chosen with the idea that they were single women (independently empowered) and any financial betterment would significantly improve theirs and their individual own family lives. We did not want any party being coerced into something that was not 100% their choice.

Well there you go. These choices were part of our family’s story and this is very well documented in my novel Eighteen Moons (available on the Amazon platform).

I have tried to be as open with our family story with the children as possible. I will remind you that we have always maintained the reality that there are three elements to being gifted life – an egg, some fertiliser and a tummy.

I know that Tara is still only six years old (almost seven). But I really hope that knowing that she has two loving parents will be enough for her? There was never any intention that Tara needed a ‘Mum’ and that is the simple truth. In these modern times – one parent families are normal. Be that a single mum or indeed a single dad. Two mums have always existed, though in the past, been generally unreported! Being an openly Gay Dad was a real and obviously open option when this countries laws allowed for gay marriage, wasn’t it?

John and I were the ‘Family Planners’, the progenitors of our family, not our egg donors or the compensated surrogates.

But alas, convention leaves our Tara imagining a third parent, a mother! I know it can’t be easy for her to comprehend, though Amritsar’s more analytical thinking does give her an advantage on understanding the reality of our own family and its origins.

It did upset me that clearly Tara would like a ‘Mummy’. I know that it must be drawn from peer pressure, the norm at the school gate. They go to a ‘Christian’ school however and I really do hope that there is no misguidance from that element of our children’s daily lives! I also must add that I really hope that it is not the children in her class that may have picked on her for the fact that she has two dads, not a mum and a dad! As clearly two dads are not physically able to generate a child. I know this will not be easy for them as they grow and hopefully blossom into the beautiful human beings that they were born to be. They will of course, live and learn as we all must do.

In the case I heard on the news tonight about an NHS trust making a woman infertile and her seeking the help of IVF in the USA – how very dare they (with the UK law in their favour), assert that the financial compensation should not be able to help her and her aspirations regarding family planning in The United States, being assisted with her frozen eggs and the help of a surrogate.

As for Tara – she knows that she is loved very much.

On a final note, British fertility law and that of assisted reproduction really does need a major rethink. The tears from earlier today were not the first tears to be shed regards my legal legitimacy as a parent – the outdated laws in this country (and the general idea of social acceptance) should be reconsidered in the reality of this, the 21st century in modern day Britain.

We love you very much Tara – both of us, your parents Xxx

Kimmah Ligh

Yes, it was about this time a year ago when we left a friends house in Wimbledon and Caleb said ‘Kimmah Ligh’ to every House that we passed with festively decked out Xmas lights.

A Christmas party was enjoyed tonight at friends John and Thea’s. The children were invited and I can honestly say that when there are +20 or so children under the age of 10, they kind of self manage! And indeed leave the grownups to get on with the festive drinking! We are just home via 2 x separate taxis and the children are finally in bed (9.30pm).

Thank you guys – this annual event really rocks. They even had a card conjurer with all kinds of tricks and slight of the hand stuff to impress us with. But the truth is, they invited several school gate parents that we always love to see.

There is always a face painter at the party and this year was as great as all of the others! Although Thor washed off his spooky face and started screaming as the face painter had to go home before his second choice face could be applied!!!

John had a moment when he, Caleb and Thor were sat on a sofa. One of them did a bottom burp. Daddy inquired ‘which one of you did that’ and Thor replied ‘not me, it was Caleb’. Then in turn Caleb replied ‘it was not me’. A minute passed and Thor finally whispered in daddy’s ear ‘Daddy, if you say it was you that did the bottom burp – I will love you forever’!

You gotta smile…

Weekend Antics and Ham and Eggs (Chinese) – Oh and a Fly

Yes, my correlations can seem a bit random, can’t they?

Firstly, I have to comment on the time being 11pm and all of the not so famous five are still being very vocal on the top floor! No John tonight as it is his office Christmas party in London.

Tara, Amritsar and Thor were down at around 8pm as there was a fly buzzing around in their rooms. We did have a fly come to stay with us last winter. We called him Barney. Did you know that not all fly species are the same? There is a specific breed that grows large and lives through the winter months. It is unlike those pesky summertime flies that have bacterial issues! This breed of fly is a little more sluggish to the summertime breeds. Well anyhow Barney used to come down at mealtimes and either sit on my shoulder or perhaps the countertop and just look on, a very cute and chilled out fly indeed.

Well, the fly in their room tonight was clearly not Barney, a little too small – he was however keeping the children awake with his constant buzzing and skipping from room to room,

The fly spray was called for and a zap or two later, the children were gifted a quiet time of it. And here we are three hours down the line and they are still rampaging the upper floor.

Okay, the other part of tonight’s story is Dadda’s dinner. No John tonight as I mentioned and to be honest, I just loved the Chinese food I cooked earlier in the week. So tonight I thought ham and eggs!

Chop one onion and a pepper/capsicum and fry until softened. Add a cup or two of cooked basmati rice. Keep turning until rice is hot. Chop up 4 or 5 slices of cooked ham into chunks and add. Meanwhile crack 2 eggs in a bowl and beat, microwave for a minute and a half to two minutes. Cool and then finely shred with a sharp knife. Add to your rice mixture and stir. Finally add a little white pepper and a liberal splashing of light soy sauce. Mix and serve – wow, simply divine,..

Christmas Soup and Tantrums

Okay, so is it too early for preparing the Xmas Brussel Sprouts? Perhaps, but with both cauliflowers and sprouts at 29 pence this week, I thought that I would give it a go. This afternoon I cut the leaves and stalks from 3 cauliflowers. The heads now sit in the fridge awaiting the big day. I also prepared and peeled a countless number of Brussel Sprouts. So, what do you do with all of that green waste? I don’t have a compost heap, so I thought soup was the way forward. Not just any soup I’ll have you know! With the very festive trimmings, we were going to indulge in Christmas Soup! I cut stalks finely, added the sprout trimmings, 2 chopped onions, water and a few stock cubes. Once boiled to a just soft consistency, I used the hand blender to blitz to a smooth consistency. Salt and pepper and voila, we have Christmas Soup. Tasted a bit like asparagus soup! Anyhow, with the children’s dinner, they all had a mug half filled with Dadda’s soup. Tara, a big lover of Sprouts, loved it, as did Amritsar and Aaliyah. The boys on the other hand decided to be a bit difficult. Thor was especially silly, just saying that he didn’t want it. Caleb sipped slowly but steadily. The girls all finished and ate a pear for dessert. Caleb and Thor still pretending to sip, but little was being swallowed.

Moving on, Amritsar’s ‘Rainbows’ club was having a mince pie party – they were all invited! But the boys had to finish their dinner in order to go and eat mince pies. Thor couldn’t bear the thought of not getting his mince pie, so after much ado, he finished his soup, just in time as the guys were leaving. Caleb on the other hand spat a large mouthful of soup over the table, floor and self. We cleaned up and the others left. He was to stay at home given his behaviour. He screamed and then screamed some more, grasping at the door handle. He did calm down after they left and is now sat in front of the television with CBeebies. They are about to return, so I had better dash.

On an unrelated matter – Caleb fell in the playground today in a puddle. He has a plaster on his knee and some very bad scratches on his nose. Poor boy, let’s hope that he gets better soon.

A Kiss and Hug Later

Since the children arrived home from school, Thor has had his moments, but overall has improved his mood. He ate all of his dinner with gusto! Aaliyah on the other hand refused to even taste the lentil and mushroom au gratin! A dish I actually mastered when working at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre restaurant in my early 20’s. A very tasty and moorish dish simply made with diced onion, sliced carrots (sautéed) with added red lentils and vegetable stock. Once cooked pour the thickened mixture in a baking dish and coat with fried sliced mushrooms and lots of grated mature cheddar cheese. Bake or grill until golden brown. Anyhow, Aaliyah for her screaming and spitting out of the said ‘lentil bake’ – you’ve got to use words like that in order to pacify any possible gastronomic rejection from the children, was sent up to bed early, given her rather unreasonable behaviour. As for Thor, he didn’t even complain about the use of grated cheddar cheese on this dish!

Well, he was chirpy and playing ‘let’s make a den’ with Sindy. Though, when it came to bedtime, he categorically refused to give Dadda a kiss and hug goodnight. Okay, that’s fine I exclaimed.

Minutes passed after Sindy left to go home and then Thor starts to shout for Sindy. I shout up the stairwell ‘she’s gone home Thor’. Some more shouting, then finally his shouting changes to ‘Dadda I want you’ repeatedly.

Fifteen minutes pass and then the onslaught of Tara, Amritsar and Thor, later followed by Caleb. ‘I’m sorry’ Thor explained and proceeds to hug me and say ‘kiss and hug, kiss and hug’. All was well. Tara and Ritzy got lots of kiss and hugs too and finally Caleb arrives for his fair share. ‘All back up to bed’ I exclaimed and they all happily returned to the top floor. Aaliyah was nowhere to be seen! All quiet now.

Planning on doing a ‘Full English’ for dinner tonight. Just for the fact that there are sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms in the fridge. Just microwaving some potatoes in order to peel and fry up some of Dadda’s famous torn potatoes to serve with tonight’s fry up – Yummy!

No final words on today’s general election. As you know, I try to avoid a political view within my diary. Who knows what tomorrow will bring for the U.K. I only hope that we remain the U.K.! Oops – that sounded just a little bit political… nite nite

Goodbye Richard Lindley

I mentioned earlier that John and I attended a funeral in London today. Our dear friend Carole Stone sadly lost her soulmate Richard last month and it was today that the service of remembrance was held at St Martin in the Fields Church in Trafalgar Square. Both Carole and Richard played a part in me finally publishing my memoirs, Eighteen Moons. I thank you both for that. For Carole, this is a time of deep grief. Both John and I feel for you very much.

This diary blog is a spin off from that original publishing of the story of how my family came to be and this blog and its chronicles ended up becoming my second publication Thirteen Moons More, the story of just who we are today. Thank you so much Richard – you were a real gentle-man. The world is less without your being here.

Thor’s Thunder

I don’t know how he has fared at school, but for the last 24 hours, our son Thor has been in such a bad mood. From the moment he arrived home from school yesterday, he has been shouting and screaming! He has said several very unkind things to me and also screamed at our nanny Sindy. I left the kitchen last night at dinner time saying that I did not want to return as Thor was being so unreasonable. He was finally asked to go up to bed and in the process he pinched Sindy on the leg producing a bruise, he then proceeded to storm about on the top floor screaming and stamping for a good 20 minutes. He finally tired and took to his bed. But only after exhausting himself completely with his bolts of thunder and stomps that could only be described as sheet lighting and raptures of his rather uncontrollable deluge!!!

This morning before school, pretty much the same attitude. Aaliyah and Caleb have been as good as gold! Even Amritsar and Tara have commented on Thor’s excessive bursts of anger, coupled with his unfair and unfriendly behaviour.

John and I arrived home from London together tonight after having attended a funeral. Thor was delighted to see daddy, a mid week treat. But me on the other hand, he shouted and lashed out at me with his fist.

We have been the best of friends for the longest time and to be honest, I know that he is almost 5 years old and he knows not what he does. But I feel that we are a little way off from negotiation. My last comments to him tonight were that I felt so upset with him that I was not really feeling up to baking his birthday cake for next week. Yes, he will be 5 years old on the 22nd December. He then screamed at Daddy and demanded that he baked his cake! I just exclaimed ‘good luck there Thor’ and bid him goodnight.

We will see if the storm has settled in the morning I guess.