Looking Forward to the Weekend

Friday already! A quiet week in London after having celebrated Johns birthday on Tuesday night. The food was impeccable and we arrived back to the London flat for John to open his birthday presents. The children had all signed a card that the little ones had made at preschool (we’ve stopped producing cards from each and every one of them if it’s not necessary), we had some white wine and went to bed. What were the presents you might ask! Well with the price for robotic vacuum cleaners having dropped sufficiently, there was one of those (it even self docks to power up and there is a mop function). A pair of apple, wireless ear buds, four antique silver napkin rings and a large, bone handled magnifying glass with matching letter opener.

Moving forward to today, I am sat on the train on my way back to ‘The Shires’. The few days have flashed by and I am now looking forward to the weekend. I do miss the family terribly when I have my two days away every two weeks, but the peace and quiet attained is a tonic and I am grateful for the stillness and tranquility of the London flat. I finished up there earlier, taking photographs of each room at opposing ends with the intention of listing the apartment on a flat swap website. We are thinking of going to South beach, Florida in May, when it warms up sufficiently and I thought as the flat is largely empty, this is something we should try. It’s very central so we should have some success. Though we want to travel down the Miami Keys also, so let’s hope a few of those new age crafty sorts that live that way are in to house swapping as it’s so ‘organic’ isn’t it? We held off from letting via Airbnb as that would affect the mortgage! I wonder if the masses who do Airbnb realise that – their house insurance is affected also! But I think the occasional house swap is allowed.

When I walk through the doors, the girls should just be back from school, but the loudest welcome is always from the dogs, Remus and Gracie. They are usually ballistic and won’t settle down before I have given them at least 2 doggy treats (Winalot shapes). I don’t think John or Sindy give them as freely as I do, so when they know I am back, they get very excited.

I don’t think we have ‘A Plan’ this weekend, but there are no birthday party invites for the children. It’s funny how their lives and play often revolves around Holidays, Christmas, their Birthdays and their friends birthday parties, I guess they always get cake, sweets and chocolate, so they are things that they always remember. The going home gift after Thor’s Birthday, we gave a large tube of fruit pastilles or jelly tots, I later regretted that as that much sugar in one sitting, it was way too much for a children’s metabolism. Our not so famous five were climbing up the walls, so I had to confiscate the rest of the said tubes of sweeties (and eek them out over time) and I will think again when it comes to the girls birthdays at the end of March. Children plus sugar means hyperactive and unruly. I’ll go with the other mums ‘Going home bags’ options and give out sticker books, crayons and glitter!

Back to the weekend, I will keep you appraised as we journey through it. I’m almost home now.

Johns Birthday Tomorrow

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Well Sunday night ended with a ‘Mock Chicken Roast’ That is pre-Roast Chicken heated in gravy, deep fried potatoes (not roast in the oven), glazed carrots, broccoli and petite pois a la Franchise. The children loved it. Things are getting much better at the dinner table for sure. Their slightly heightened table manners might have had something to do with a slice of the home made Birthday cake I baked to celebrate daddy’s birthday that afternoon. We ate half of the cake yesterday and saved the second half for this evening. His birthday is actually tomorrow, so we’re going to meet up in London after John finishes work (In the West End) and dine at J Sheeky’s. Table booked for 8pm and Sindy our nanny is doing a sleepover with the children.

It’s late and the little ones have only just now fallen silent. John is working late and I am sat with the dogs watching Netflix. Potatoes boiling and I’m extending that chicken for just one more night – mashed potatoes with plenty of butter, seasoning and double cream (the only way) and the remnants of last nights peas and French beans with butter and garlic. Just how they used to serve them the the old ‘Conran restaurants’, Quaglinos, Blue Bird, etc. We used to dine out in the early days a lot. But that seems like a lifetime ago now, once a fortnight is our regular gastro gorge nowadays. Well I have to head to the kitchen as those spuds need tending to and John will be home shortly. Looking forward to tomorrow though, when I can be waited on! Best not forget my credit card…

The Last Few Days

Hmmmm! So what’s been going on in our lives of recent? Caleb has been constantly spilling his drink at the dinner table. Aaliyah has by and large been well behaved (no biting or screaming) and Thor has been extremely naughty at preschool. The all day one he attends on a Thursday almost called us to ask us to bring him home! Lucky they did not and allowed him to continue until 3pm, but to almost be excluded from preschool, come on Thor, you gotta buck up to the challenges of life and do some growing up! You know, there has never once been a day without some shouting and screaming. Not a single day without some major incident happening. I keep telling him that now that he is four years old, he has to settle down a little, but he doesn’t like to listen to anything. Let alone analyse what is being asked of him. He is shouting a lot more at the moment. He is mostly talking sense, but he has to talk as loud as he possibly can. The iPad (kindle fire) he got for his birthday has hardly been looked at. Aaliyah on the other hand was given Amritsar’s old one and asks for it more often. She engages with the games with relatively little assistance from Amritsar. Good for her – figuring things out for herself. Caleb’s diction is slowly improving. A long way to go before he is up to speed though. No ‘poop’ incidents of recent, but never say never! He’s tried to communicate ‘potty’ a few times, he gets the implication of what to do, but just sits there and if there was a small wee wee from Aaliyah or Thor (that we didn’t flush immediately) sitting in there, he tries to claim it as his own. But I know better! Thor and Aaliyah seldom have an accident now which is great. Though occasionally screamy and badly behaved, they are definitely on course for big school in September. Amritsar and Tara have both just enrolled in extra curricular on a Wednesday after school. This term choosing different pursuits! Tara enrolled in ‘Film Club’ and Amritsar in ‘Craft Club’. Amritsar loves being arty and a little crafty too (in the nice way). She has been persevering with sequin art since Christmas. Small pins and sequins you have to pin to a picture of sea animals. It’s very complex, even for an adult, she’s doing really well. They both also made paw patrol bead characters that needed ironing to fix the beads together. Oh my goodness, Marshall the Dalmatian character I ironed into a smudged and squished smear, much to the disapproval of Tara. I did help her remake it, but asked Sindy our nanny to do the ironing. She did so very tentatively. All are playing nicely downstairs now. Daddy has just left them for ten minutes and is sitting on the terrace, contemplating putting up a shelf for the pans in the kitchen, I just had my copper set re-tinned and they arrived on Thursday. I’m not opening the box until the shelf is up and then, as they will look so shiny and sparkly, I am not sure I will ever use them again. The old nannies started using metal utensils in them and completely ruined them – perhaps I should send them the invoice for £140 re-tinning cost! Anyhow, I’m heading back downstairs to join in the chaos that is the weekend norm. The girls are invited to yet another party at four o’clock. Every hour they are both saying – can we go to the party now… I’ll maybe update you later on today. The dogs Are chilling on the chaise staring at me as I lie here on the bed writing this (Checkout today’s image above). It’s nice when they are settled, but the moment I get up they will liven up like a couple of dervishes and ballistically follow me down the stairs. Not always a safe place as Remus loves to run between my legs – not so safe on the stairs. We’re always shouting down Remus or down Gracie if the children are descending the stairs (the dogs are always beckoned down first. But me and Remus are fine – for him walking 2 steps ahead is a game he thinks we are playing a game! Soppy dog…

Today’s Entry

What with the girls back to school and the little ones at preschool, all is back to normal. That is as normal as things can be. Very sadly the preschool the little ones attend four days a week is suffering financially and might not make it through this coming term. The head person, Amanda gave two days notice just before the beginning of the Christmas break saying that she was jumping the sinking ship. Okay, the reduction of wages may have been her ultimate realisation, but the three left ‘Holding the Fort’ are in potentially volatile times. This is a reminder that life is static – there is always change, in order to rectify imbalance. We wish them luck. So our ‘Little Ones’ continue their daily routine, however there is change upon their horizon. Today however they attend another preschool that operates from 9am until 3pm, much in line with regular schooling. It’s great that on a Thursday I really do get the day off. So today I went out to a local town Hungerford, to search for a couple of birthday gifts for Johns big day next Tuesday (yes, his birthday). A friend Richard came over for lunch and we then fled the crazy hounds and checked out the antiques shops in the centre of town. I returned home at 3.30pm and they were all home. Our nanny was feeling unwell and went off to the doctors, I hope she is in tomorrow. We then all enjoyed pizza for dinner. And got into our Jim Jams for a 7pm nite nite. All has been quite thus far. Most unlike last night where Thor tormented Daddy (John) three times with outbursts insisting there was something further (a hoop to jump through) he wanted him to do. John and I had words, he thinks that I am being cold when I say for to him ‘let him scream it out for a while’. He wants to be the best ever dad, but as you have previously heard me comment, there has to be a good cop and a bad cop and sadly John never elevates himself to take on the mantle of bad cop, so no sympathy from me when John exulted that he was tired from running up and down the stairs to ‘Entertain Thor’ and his various whims. If you’re a parent, you know how the kids will play you, you’ve just have to try to out manoeuvre them. I know there is a certain wisdom to being four years old (so Thor imagines), but come on! Parenthood can be exhausting if you let them triumph and pride themselves on having the upper hand, time after time, you’re just setting yourself up for despair. Just something to ponder on. Anyhow it is now time for bed now, so nite nite all.

Two Blokes

This is a story of ‘Two Blokes’ really isn’t it. Two blokes at the start of it, that is! Why fatherhood you may ask? What prompted it and what changed in order to make it happen? John and I had been together for years and never considered the idea of having children. Well, we were ‘Two Blokes’ weren’t we! On the other hand, female couples have been having children for years thanks to sperm banks or a casual encounter with an understanding male friend. But come on, ‘Two Blokes’… Why? Back in the day when there was such inequality with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and wider communities, we didn’t even have the opportunity of marriage. When we finally tied the knot officially, there was no such thing as gay marriage, only the newly introduced ‘Civil Partnership’. That would have to do for us! We have since considered the difference of this legal union opposed to an actual marriage and to be frank, it is sufficient in our eyes that we are a couple in the eyes of the law. But this new found equality (that was long overdue) had other spin offs I guess. The law is no longer bigoted, so it is not (or should not be) frowned upon that ‘Two Blokes’, if they so wish, wanted to start a family. This is the outcome of equality isn’t it? And so we went on to achieve just that. I have previously brought up this subject in my diary, but it is a theme that is intrinsic to the ultimate outcome and why we are now a full and happy household of ten, if you include our two dogs and full time nanny. Who’d have thought that just a few years ago. Our neighbour in London, Karen thought that I hated children. This was probably brought on by the fact that she had two rug rats and I don’t remember ever really chatting ‘children’ with her. I smiled and said hello to her two little ones, but that was that. I guess she presumed we were annoyed with the constant buggy situation in the shared landing, but we never said anything. One year her brother couldn’t make it to hers to dress as Santa on Christmas Eve and walk down the road with a sack on his back whilst her then four and five year olds looked down from the balcony screaming ‘Santa, it’s Santa’. She asked me to step in and I reluctantly did so with just a little personal embarrassment. Very good training for my little elf story I guess. In hindsight it did make me smile, though even at that point, John and I had not discussed having our own children. That all happened a short while later after seeing a documentary called ‘Made in India’. I have mentioned this for sure, but I am just reiterating that a few small prompts set us out on our journey to fatherhood. We found a common ground and progressed forward as a couple. What we did and how we went about making things happen weren’t simple things, but we believed that ‘Our Journey’ was well worth the complexity and dare I say anxiety of it all. So here we have it! Just ‘Two Blokes’ and a household full of happiness (and quite a few screams).

A Day in the Kitchen

Well, all off to school like clockwork and the girls just back from school coveting A5 puzzle books for colouring in and full of stickers – oh joy! I have been in the kitchen, pretty much all day. After yesterday’s puttanesca and Bakewell tart, I made a regular bolognese sauce from scratch (using ground pork), turkey and ham pie with Sunday’s remnants of the final Christmas meats (my own pastry), a deep filled beef pie, stuffed with 3 hour braised beef, Jumbo red shrimp Thermidor, two cauliflower cheeses and I am now marinating four skinless chicken thighs in the holy trinity of spices (garlic, ginger, chilli) and a madras spice combo. Rice and gravy (pre made curry sauce) defrosting, I think we’re all set for this weeks menu.

If there is anything better than cooking your own food from scratch – it’s eating it!