Sweets for my Sweets

81FF0043-D84C-4C8D-813A-33756DC97DCE

All ‘Confectioned’ out now, so I’ll be glad once the home made sweets have been consumed on Saturday. I will update you on the day. The children had a cold ‘Pasta Salad’ tonight with ham, tomato and cucumber, as I always make too much pasta and keep it in the fridge for a few days. Marinated in the sauce that went with it, it’s always a tasty salad in its own right a couple of days after the hot pasta meal was served. The supermarkets try to sell us pasta salads on their shelves in the lunch section. Much easier to just make it for yourself if using penne, spirali, or dishi volante. We don’t do the twists of butterflies, but they would do just as well. Spaghetti is not really recommended. And the sauce, if it’s mixed into the pasta, it absorbs most of the liquid. Any sauce, it’s your choice, but if the pasta tastes a little bland, a few spoons of red pesto or sun dried tomato paste will pick it up. So back to this glut of confectionery, two sweets were promised if I saw clean plates. Unfortunate for Thor, who was too busy shouting and being ‘dramatic’ throughout his meal to actually finish it. Everyone else enjoyed a piece of candied melon with vanilla icing sugar and a chocolate truffle, spooned from the mass at the table and lovingly blushed with dark cocoa from a dish in front of four drooling mouths. Tara said that I am a magician with sweets, I smiled to myself. Amritsar shouted out ”best sweets ever’ and Caleb’s eyes just rolled back! Although it’s been a labour, to come up with ten various pastilles, candied fruits and chocolates, I’ve enjoyed spending my time on the project. All of the girls classmates are looking forward to the homemade sweets at ‘Dadda’s Jams’ on Saturday. Bring it on I’m thinking and maybe a few Jam sales there too. It’s quite upstairs now and the hounds are finally settled. Nikki the babysitter is coming in an hour, so better get ready as we’re off out for dinner tonight. Nite nite.

My mind is blank

Thinking of what to write today is worrying. Yes, there is a plethora of spontaneous possibilities, I’m not spoilt for choices, but I’m looking for something that really matters! There’s so much going on in the world today. From global warming, crime, poverty, even Brexit, there is such a lot to comprehend out there and here sits lil ole me… I’ve previously stated that I will keep this diary non political, though politics plays such a role in life and the choices we make, or rather are allowed to make, brought on via the political process. From having an online presence of zip, nil, nada, I am now loudly professing that I am a ‘Gay Dad to five young children, living in The Shires of England’! What does it all mean? We are family (Thank you Sister Sledge). Okay, there are lots of families out there, getting by, moving on and to be honest, there’s absolutely nothing that separates my family from any other! There’s no shame in affirming an identity using the word ‘Gay’ nowadays. Thankfully there’s more live and let live going on out there, but there’s still some level of hatred of the unknown by some people, even state sponsored hatred. I won’t point any fingers, remember I’m being non political (lol). There’s also a lot to be said of identifying myself as a ‘Dad’ also. That’s a big responsibility isn’t it? But time in memoriam, there have been exactly the same amount of dads as there have been mums, throughout the vastness of time (okay, that’s very debatable). These times are different though, in the fact than my mere existence is allowed, through law to be a ‘Gay Dad’ who is writing a diary, quite openly. Of course there have always been ‘Gay Dads’, those who stayed in the closet and did the done thing and married a woman, had children etc. But many of those people could never and did never profess to being gay, within the family context, that is. Talking of marriage, we are not married, John and I. When we ‘Did the right thing’ and tied the knot, after knowing each other some fifteen years, there was no such thing as Gay marriage, that came later. So we went into a ‘Civil Partnership’. It pretty much meant the same as marriage, except religion did not play a role in the matter. Okay, don’t worry, I’m not bringing religion into my diary either. The good thing (for us) about changes in law, allowing John and I to be recognised as a couple, was that it did not stop there! If you can be a couple in the eyes of the law – you can start a family and that’s exactly what we set about doing. I would like to say that it was easily achieved, but it was not and nor was the legal process we went through, here in the U.K. to obtain ‘Parental Orders’ for all five of our children, making us both equally, the legal parents to our children. We are both named parents on their U.K. birth certificates, as it should be. Remember that it was just the two of us that ‘conceived’ (the idea of) our children. Our egg donor wasn’t looking for rights of parenthood and in law, like a sperm donor, has none. As for our three surrogates however, women with no biological connection to our children, both here and in India, Thailand and Nepal, the law does give them rights of claiming motherhood, even though we had chosen the route of ‘Compensated Surrogacy’ not legal here in the U.K. so the British Courts had the final say in our families existence. A lengthy and expensive undertaking, but the correct course of action, that had to be taken. And there was I, thinking that my mind was blank today… and did I say that I am very proud as a parent, a partner and as a family.

Ritzy and T just Home from School

The girls are just through the door after doing their extra curricular ‘Life Skills’ class after normal school ends. They are learning archery, hockey, relay races, netball and curling. The little ones and I have been hanging out and Caleb loves me today as I have been moulding chocolates and dipping crystallised honeydew melon and my orangettes in thick, runny, liquid dark chocolate. It will be a chore to get them to eat anything else but chocolate tonight, so I had to promise a moulded chocolate for dessert (they look so professional once removed from the mould). Well, it’s one of our favourite veg curries tonight, Channa with mutter (chickpea and green pea), served up with perfect basmati rice. One of their favourite dinners and no meat in sight. A great source of protein and fibre. Remus has been following my every move whilst playing chocolatier in the kitchen. Gracie on the other hand, has spent the afternoon playing with Aaliyah. Did I say how close they are? You have to keep an eye on things as you know, dogs like to lick and though Aaliyah is good with the hugs and holding Gracie by the scruff on both sides, holding her back to stop the licks, there are still quite a few that get through. I was going to talk about Thor’s obsession with hammers today! But I will leave that for another time. You have to smile really. Okay, writing this has been on and off as they are all just up to bed. Doesn’t time fly? Lots of ‘lappies’ and ‘downies’ though this afternoon, as they each in turn want to sit on my lap and hold both of my thumbs whilst falling backwards, so they are upside down. Tara was really most insistent on doing it once we had finished dinner and then everyone wanted a go! But the room has now fallen silent and Sindy our nanny is doing shower time before bed. The dogs are curled up, relaxed and silent. For such hyperactive dogs, I really appreciate it when there’s a little down time. Just me here tonight as John has a ‘Black Tie Dinner’ in London tonight. So I guess I’ll be eating the leftovers from the children’s meal. But I’m certainly not complaining. Yum yum.

A Robins Return

564932774.856271public

The Robin. A bird who somehow found its way into our social consciousness as one of nature’s most prolific representations of Christmas. Yes, he or she is a bird that sticks around throughout the colder seasons. I guess the Victorians, with their reinvention of Christmas during, what were the ending years of the ‘little Ice Age’ saw the robin, bobbing around in the snow during most chilling, December holidays and just decided to stick it on the front of the new and trendy Christmas Card concept. And there it was born as a mascot of Yuletide proportions. Well if you have a garden at home, you might just be lucky enough to have a little, winter resident, who braves it out in all weathers. Very unlike those ‘other’ birds who just up wings and bugger off for the warmer climates in the south, for the winter. I did actually notice the largest flock of swifts flying above me last week when we had the easterly winds. For some reason or another, the whole lot of them were firmly flying east into the chilling wind. Odd I thought at the time ‘Don’t they always fly south’, but I guess there was some reason or another for it meteorologically speaking. The flock was huge, consisting of thousands upon thousands of individual birds. They took forever to fly over. It made me reminisce back to the Ravens of Kathmandu and their nightly amassing of the skies, darkening them with black wing and shrill cry. Now back on track to our local, little winter resident. Today I saw his (or her) return to our terrace. It happens each year at about this time, they just reappear, as if from nowhere. I’m not actually talking about a singleton, but a mated pair of love birds. Both with plump red blooms with the sweetest little chirps, when they can be bothered. They are not the noisiest of bird, unlike our local ravens and the thrushes we entertain in the warmer months. Well they’re back now until the spring time when, if we’re lucky enough, they might nest and have chicks, like in previous years. Then they just disappear for the summer, vanishing as instantly as they had appeared. Talking of little chicks, Aaliyah came home from preschool early today as she was feeling out of sorts. We received a call and Sindy drove down early to pick her up. She sat down beside the television and was unconscious within minutes. No temperature, but she’s now up in her bed sleeping soundly along with her brothers.

Did I say that I am making home made sweets this week (just fruit and sugar) to give freely to the children at the girls school Christmas Fayre. Candied fruit done, pastille done, just chocolate truffles to make after dipping the orangettes in dark chocolate. All done with the hope of selling a jar or two of Dadda’s Jams on Saturday afternoon. I imagine all the thought and preparation won’t be worth it, financially, but I don’t really care as I’m feeling that Christmas vibe at this point and giving without expecting recompense, is just making me feel like I’m part of humanity and that life is not only about the take.

The House is Quiet

Tara has been whining for the last few hours about going to see some puppies! No, god no, we’re not considering another dog. Am I mad or something. It’s just a neighbour that were friendly with, their Jack Russel has had a litter and they are just out of puppy quarantine and can be picked up by little hands. John has gone with them, leaving me to throw together sausage, mash and peas for their return. Today has been non eventful really, just a resemblance of yesterday and the good behaviour was bountiful. This won’t last, but I am appreciating it whilst living it. The dogs are chilled on the sofas and the night is rolling in. Tonight’s fire is prepared in the hearth and the central heating has just kicked in, so off with the hoody and out to the kitchen to sort out the children’s menu. Last nights Lobster Thermidor was amazing and tonight’s slow roast shoulder of lamb is wafting throughout the house. Thinking like the rest of you about doing some Xmas shopping next week. I completely ignored that ‘Black Friday’ scam last week. It’s all a bit of a con. Anyhow, I hope your Sunday nights are enjoyable whether with family or friends. Signing off… Goodnight!

So what’s happening today

Okay, we just had lunch. Fresh baguette, thickly plied with real butter, toast and home made asparagus soup. Very nice indeed it was, but what was nicer is the fact that we all eat together as a family at the weekends. Always that is, at lunchtimes and occasional Sunday roast dinners. We started the family roast meal about eighteen months ago. The little ones always played up and wouldn’t eat the meat, even roast chicken was a problem! After every occasion, I would scorn ‘That is the last one’ as I was always stressed by the end of it. Tara and Amritsar were always well behaved and ate lots. On the other hand, the three little ones would always… (I’m trying to find the right words), well simply they behaved like animals. So I would always say that I was not going to all that trouble again. A couple of weeks would pass and of course, I would go to the trouble and quelle surprise, another nightmare. But ya gotta persevere. And now, with Thor almost four years old and Aaliyah and Caleb six months his junior, we are almost at a place where a Sunday roast meal is enjoyable. Back to today and we started it with another bed invasion, so up we got and went downstairs. Toasted bagels and kiwi and lime jam. Home made of course and one of this years jammy combos. I’ll list them at another point. You remember I make jam don’t you? Well the stuff is as pure as sunlight. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, but I confess, real Jam is COOL. Only pure fruit and sugar. If you brought some from the shops (Naughty You), Check the label for ingredients and if there is anything other than fruit, sugar and citric acid in there, I would bin it. Harsh this might sound, but here’s a thought, you might just want to make your own and I’ve got some pretty easy recipes if you’re interested! Start saving your jars and in a couple of weeks I will get you Jammin’ and you’ll love it! Okay today everyone was told at breakfast that they all had to be well behaved all day (No Thinking Chair today, just up to bed if naughty). And so far we are only half way through the day and guess what? We’ve had one of the best behaved weekend days ever! Today we also allowed Caleb to attempt another potty day. As you know Thor and Aaliyah have been successfully potty trained now for months. Caleb on the other hand, picks things up a little slower than his twin Aaliyah. She is easily plus six months her age and Caleb is maybe six months behind, so they seem a year apart. It does look as if she is Thor’s twin! Okay back to Caleb, his potty day ended earlier as he pee’d himself whilst sat on daddy. Oh dear – I did warn John when he suggested it, that Caleb s not there quite yet… well with all this calm in the house, I’m quite looking forward to the rest of the day. Especially as I’m cooking lobster Thermidor for John and I tonight. Served with home made thin French fries using out new deep fat fryer and lashings of garlic mayonnaise. The musical soundtrack of today seems to be ‘500 (shake baby shake) by Lush’ (again) as just requested by Caleb. Now they’re all dancing like ‘crazies’… Thor has just put on daddy’s green gardening wellies, gardening gloves and brimmed hat and is shouting ‘I’m Mr Mc Gregor’ (Peter Rabbit). Hmmmmh…

6207B105-3220-47D1-87AC-9D5DE2A184FB.jpeg

The Value of photographs

I’m sat on the bus, on my journey home from London. John is expecting me for two thirty as he has the girls school pickup at three. Sindy has today off and John is at home doing today’s school runs. I just passed the pharmacy that I remember from almost six years ago, getting my photo taken for my Indian tourist visa, to allow me to travel to India for the girls births. I have been in the pharmacy since, for my own passport photos. As this was such a momentous occasion, the visa should be done by a professional I thought. Not that I haven’t taken a passport photo myself for five small babies, in foreign lands for our children’s passports. I remember that the Indian gentleman who runs the pharmacy is very friendly and always remembers me if I call in for some reason or another. Anyhow, my photo for the Indian visa, I remember was square. And the visa application took several days to process and there I was, back in March of 2013, my passport arrived back with my ‘Indian Visa’. Johns process for his visa was somewhat different from mine. I will leave that story for now and move on to a month or two after that event! I was settled in Powai, a suburb in the exotic city of Bombay. In the centre of the town there was a shopping centre with all necessary shops for getting by. A supermarket, mother and baby shop, mobile phone centre, you’ve got it, everything a local might need without having to travel further for the necessities in life. I was a dab hand at photoshop back then. The twins, Amritsar and Tara were only small babies. I got the dimensions for their photos from the UK home office website. It was a very hot day and the shop was small and very packed. The owner and his co-workers were apparent amongst the throng of things. The older gentleman saw that I was waiting and immediately came over to engage. The photography shop was near the hospital where the girls had been born, Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, Mumbai. We talked and he rejoiced that I was there with surrogate twins who were looking for their passport photos. Being the only photography shop in Powai, I guess he was used to the volume of business, brought to him from the surrogacy industry with births from the local hospital. He moved a young lad away from the screen of a rather antiquated computer and beckoned me over, hand outstretched for my memory stick. We sat down in front of the computer on miniature stools. We talked and he then uploaded the two best pictures and asked me how many copies I would like. I asked for six a piece. Now printing the pictures took no time at all, though getting the pictures to begin with was a whole different ball game! My attempts to get the girls to open their eyes at such an early stage proved impossible. The U.K. authorities had stated on the website that it was okay with closed eyes for baby passports, but I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want any thing with the applications to be incorrect, something that might slow down the application process. Bharti, our Indian nanny was with me at the time. We nudged the girls, in turn and spoke loudly, we even clapped noisily, perhaps too close to their faces, nothing worked. But perseverance has its rewards. I ended up with forty or so pictures of each, maybe two or three with an eye or two open partially with a baby squint. It would have to do. As long as my photo trim got their faces with the correct dimensions and I downed the brightness and upped the contrast to bleach out the rear white bed sheet, so it looked flat like a white background. We had lift off.

That’s today’s thoughts folks, maybe I’ll get to the other children’s passports stories another time. But as for the girls passports! We did finally receive them, some five long months after the joyous day of their births.