The not so famous five went up to bed an hour ago. No shower tonight as the heating system that had left us in a mini ice age two weeks ago, was fixed last weekend, but the undergone work had left us very uneasy with the powerful smell of heating oil fumes here on the ground floor of the house. The downside is that I have arrived home from my two nights in London to a freezing cold house, strong winds and heavy rain outside. There has also been unrest upstairs, but that has died down now. Probably due to the fact that they have all decided that it is far warmer under their duvets. John rode his bike in on the commute today. I had a phone call an hour ago with him saying that his bike chain had broken and that he is now stranded on a roundabout, a few miles away. He is waiting on the AA to pick him up. He stands somewhere in the dark, cold, wet, beside the unrelenting roadside and intolerable weather. He won’t be happy on his return. Another call just now saying that they he AA have been delayed and will not be with him until 8.30pm, another forty five minutes, so he might just be here at 9pm if we are lucky. The rain and wind are thrashing the windows at this point. He’s not happy at all and will be most distressed on his arrival home after this unexpected ordeal. On a lighter note, talking of returns, mine was greeted by five crazy little people saying that they missed me and the hounds were uncontrollable. Yes uncontrollable, even after me being home for an hour.
Moving on to the present, they kind of understand when I say ‘John home late’, but I have to reaffirm it every now and then or they continue to whine and bark their heads off at the slightest sound, thinking it is John coming through the door. Well it’s the start of the weekend – things can only improve. Or can they? Everyone is down with a heavy cold and Aaliyah has been feeling sick today at preschool. Bloody hell its cold – I’ve just put on my fleecy schott hoody. There’s another birthday party for the girls tomorrow, leaving me with the little ones. I will update you as to tomorrow’s antics in relative real time over the weekend. As you know the weekends are always pretty full on. As for tonight – Dinner once John arrives and an early night I think…
I have decided to combine Aaliyah and Caleb’s ‘Personality Profiling’ in one blog. Mainly due to the fact that they are still quite little and secondly they share the same timeline, though have ventured through it at slightly different speeds. So I will start with Aaliyah as she is the ‘first born’ of the two. Though most surrogacies end with a Caesarian Section. Something else we can thank the Romans for. You could google the history! I guess it would not be right for the surrogate to endure a natural child birth. Firstly, in most cases of compensated surrogacy, the embryo is not genetically theirs and secondly, way too painful. Come on ladies, it hurts like hell and is only mentally endured as the end result is your beautiful daughter or son. Moving on with Aaliyah. Born with her brother Caleb, on the roof of the world (Nepal). I only met their surrogate twice. We wish her well. The twins left the hospital after ten days. Mainly due to the fact I was busy finding an appropriate apartment and I had paid the hospital very well for the facilities, where as a local affording this hospital would have been charged a fraction of the bill we had to pay, so I just told Doctor Sanjay that they would be staying until we had a home to move into. He agreed, well he had little choice. Well my first memory of Aaliyah was her at just a few moments old, being thrust into my arms, followed a minute or two later by Caleb. I had been doing ‘The Dad Thing’ and was pacing up and down the corridor outside of the operating theatre. Once both babies were in my arms, a nurse waved in front of my face ‘your camera, your camera’ she insisted. ‘Left trouser pocket’ I told here. She pulled it out and ushered me to show her how it worked. Anyhow, we got the pictures done and the nurses shuffled off to the NICU ward. ‘Goodbye little ones’ I waved them off. Well that’s a name that seems to have stuck isn’t it! Aaliyah was bigger than little Caleb, so as first born, let’s do her first. A quiet baby, so unlike Thor. In fact she (and her brother) were both model babies. Lots of sleep and four hourly feeds to begin with. She was probably a bit louder than Caleb when she yelped for a feed or over the discomfort of a soiled nappy. Amritsar and Tara’s nanny Bharti travelled up to Kathmandu with friend Rekha. I needed people I trusted to stay with the newly born twins. Remember, there was a family at home and on this occasion, the choice was to spend two weeks with Aaliyah and Caleb and two weeks with the family at home. I’m now going to jump to Aaliyah’s emerging personality. Babies are predictable, you’re lucky if you get a smile or a giggle. Aaliyah did giggle lots, so we knew she would be just fine. Though as a toddler, and being very close in age to Thor, it seemed like it was him she was trying to catch up with, leaving poor Caleb behind somewhat. She crawled before Caleb, stood before him, even did her first faltering steps way before. She is a very determined little girl. If not, a bit pushy at times. At one point it looked as if she was the twin sister of Thor. They shared a lot of characteristics at one point. Still being just three there’s not a lot to say academically, but I think that determination will lead her wisely – watch this space for updates. I earlier mentioned our summer vacation in Provence in southern France. We had a private pool at the villa, so this was the year we had five little swimmers. She was fearless. She was the first to off her armbands and doggy paddle with only the buoyancy of her life jacket. She was really happy and full of life. She has a lot of potential with her character as it is, but there is a belligerent side, the one we have to keep in check with the thought of ‘Mrs Snodgrass’s naughty school’. Now Caleb as a toddler, got there eventually. He crawled, or rather dragged himself at first. He developed later than the others. Aaliyah did it all six months before our Calo (one of his nicknames). But eventually the dragging himself turned into a fully propelled crawl with his bum in the air. He was a bit rubbish with balance, so standing and walking came late also. Back then he was a quiet little boy and he didn’t communicate well, quite the opposite of Aaliyah. But big sister Tara stepped in at a very early point and did all she could to protect and encourage him. I remember the video I took of his first three steps (we decided that the first steps had to be three continuous). The smile on his face, the sense of accomplishment. So he is a boy who is a little laid back, but with encouragement, he gets there in the end. He has only just started to form sentences. Which is great as he will start proper school next September. There’s lots of time to practice before then. He is more screamy now too. It’s like he was silenced for a long period and now he is finding his voice and sounding more legible, he really wants us to know his wants and even his frustrations. There was one thing that Caleb got first though and that was the hair. Masses of curly, silver blond hair. He’s had it cut, but it’s still pretty long. Aaliyah’s hair has taken ages to grow, but there is some length there now and it’s beginning to resemble Caleb’s curls. So now it is fitting that Aaliyah is reunited with her twin brother Caleb as they look more like the twins they actually are nowadays. Thor doesn’t mind at all, as there’s only room for one little bolt of thunder in our house.
Our middle child is our son Thor. There was just him born back in 2014. Our four other children are two sets of twins. He was born in Bangkok, Thailand, though our egg donor on this occasion was Caucasian. And for the birth I thank our surrogate Ausa. Why the name Thor you might ask? Well, I had met a few very lovely Norwegian people along the way and as it happens, Tör is a fairly common name in Norway. I kind of liked the anglicised version of the name, super heroes aside, the name Thor suited him. As a baby, he was a massive presence. He was loud and screamy and impossible to settle at times, but yes again I looked to the help of a nanny named Ameena in Bangkok and she devoted herself to him and I for the five long months we had to wait for his British passport to be processed. When we finally came home, Ameena and her two sisters, wept as we left to board our plane. This was a time that our family was split in two. I missed John and the girls, Tara and Amritsar so much. John coped with them both in the U.K. with the help of our live in au pair and his sister, Sara. Did I say that I missed them all so much. But reunited we were. The girls were both two years old at this point. I remember the reaction I got when I went to pick them up from a preschool in West London that they had started to attend. They were unaware that I was finally home. ‘Dadda Dadda’ they both screamed so loudly when they saw me, Thor strapped to my chest in his baby sling. They clung onto us so tightly and we all got very tearful. But baby Thor was a loud baby and back then we lived in a apartment block. It was no good, we had to move to the Shires as the flat was small, the walls were thin and Thor was loud. So we left London and John became a commuter. I found it difficult to bond with Thor at first as he was so loud and screamy, none of us slept well through Thor’s baby years. Terrible twos merged into not quite so terrible threes. I think a lot of it was simply down to him wanting to communicate so much. He would look at someone, straight in the eyes and just start shouting and screaming at them. He did this thing with multiple pitches when it came to screaming. We had nanny help full time when we left London. We persevered and it paid off massively. At around two years old, he used to sit in his cot, repeating words, over and over again to himself. This was early in the morning before the girls were awake. I would stand at the bottom of the stairs and just listen for maybe ten minutes or so, just every now and then. The women at his new preschool all doted on him, even back then he was practicing his ‘charm initiative’ – he is a very unique little boy. Just being able to talk changed him so much. It was not just his step forward to communication, but from a very early age he started to form opinions and ask questions too. He talks a lot now, but there’s still the occasional moments when he finds that he has to shout, but he’s primarily gentle, caring and considerate. He won’t go to bed without his ‘Kiss and Hug’. Mind you, he can get quite moody if things don’t go his way, or there’s something he wants that he can’t have. He is a very loving little boy and often says things out of the blue like ‘I really like you Dadda’ and sometimes, just sometimes I get a ‘I love you Dadda’. The heart melts…
Amritsar’s twin, as you may know, is Tara. At birth, to be honest, I was going to name twin two Amritsar. But I pondered and had to make a choice. I knew the second twin would be a little more feisty and the name Amritsar was planned for the feisty one. Sorry Gracie is just grabbing my attention! She is chasing her tail, round and round. She is now rolling around on her back! Remus is lying beside me, looking completely unamused. She’s up now and has just jumped up onto the sofa. She’s starting at me as if she wants a treat. No Gracie, No. now back to my story. When it came to the birth certificates, I gave our second twin the name of Tara, due to my memory of first holding and hugging her. We had already chosen names, but as I hummed ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ to her in the NICU, I knew she would be our little star! In both Gaelic and Hindu, the name for star is Tara. And she does like to take to the stage, so maybe a star, she will be. I had a green screen app on my phone and green coloured backdrop when I was posting a few items on eBay. I had set up the ‘studio’ and in walks Tara. She got in front of the tripod where my iPhone was placed to photograph and she started singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. I video’d her and was quite moved by the passion and emotion she enacted with the words. Tara loves school and looks forward to the weekends when daddy is home. Some of Tara’s achievers certificates have been for counting and others for movement and dance. She likes to hang out with some of the older boys and can hold herself and lead in many conversations. She is passionate, caring, independent, calm, she shows empathy and exudes kindness. She has a very strong bond with Caleb, the littlest of our family as she takes him under her wing and looks out for him. We love her dearly, and my little Booboo loves us all right back.
The Vine on the terrace, that gave so abundantly this year is all but bare. Just a few, bunches of grapes, too high or awkwardly placed, cling there, getting ready to rot on the woody framework that looks rather skeletal now. The vine leaves that were a vibrant green have transitioned through yellow into veiny ruby tones, then crisp and brown and discarded, they fell. The sea of ferns that amass the flower beds are dulling down but the profusion of Japanese acer’s have suddenly, visually exploded into the reddest scarlet as the leaves prepare to drop to the soil and perish with the rest of the autumnal detritus. This season is preparing for the big sleep of winter. Like my earlier story on leaf fall, this time of year is reflective and there is an ultimate beauty in the death of summer.
Okay – my silence thus far today would relate to a pretty non eventful, average day. All were well behaved and all went well. School and preschool, breakfast, lunch and dinner, yes all was good. The little ones enjoyed an iced, ring donut with sprinkles for lunch (a real treat opposed to their usual sandwich). This was a special treat as we had twelve donuts to get rid of as we didn’t get to dessert after the big feed on Sunday, leaving four chocolate covered donuts (John and I had two yesterday after our dinner), four strawberry icing and four white iced donuts for eating. I was a piggy and ate the two chocolate donuts remaining this morning as anything with chocolate always ends in arguments with our not so famous five, if not an even number (I know five isn’t an even number). So this left eight for the children. Do the math! Or as we say in the U.K. ‘do the maths’! Three for lunch and five for dessert after dinner and we’re good with eight. That was the day, a few sums and a whole load of calories later, non eventful.
So I move onto personality profiling. And today we start with ‘A’ or rather ‘A’ being more affectionately known as Amritsar. She is a hard worker. She also prides herself on her achievements. She is good at art and considers colour and form. She combines different characters in a thoughtful way when it comes to drawing. Our ‘little miss sunshine’ is an excellent reader. She is way past the phonics of sounding the words, she just let’s rip with story books that are brought home to read as their homework. For a girl of five, I am in awe. She likes to achieve and at school they, on occasion have an achievers assembly. Her smile beams when she is up there on the stage, waiting for one of the blue certificates that tells her that she is doing well. I do love her determination. It’s funny as before parenthood, I had no idea of when in life ‘personality’ made its confirmation. But to be completely honest, our two five year olds and three, three year olds are absolutely the characters that they will always be. Nurture or genetics – who gives a flying **** they are who they are and with regards nurture, that they will always have. I feel so strongly bonded with Amritsar. Everyday I appreciate her affection, creativity, thoughtfulness, understanding and above all, her sheer ability to love.
We all do it now and then, don’t we? But to be honest, our oldest two are mostly model children. The occasional prompt for a please or a thank you, but mostly very polite children. Out of the little ones, Thor in particular delivers a very cheery and sincere thank you, if you hold on to whatever it is he wants to thank you for! I do the same with the hounds when I give them a treat. They are very food focused and at the whiff of a treat they get quite excited and either sit in front of me or in Remus’s case, he starts to spin. He will spin and spin and spin and finally when the treat is in my outstretched hand I loudly say ‘Gentle’. Gracie nibbles the treat with tender care, but Remus is a bit more snappy. I hold onto his treat and repeat ”Gentle’, he then complies. With Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb, the same can be said. With the sweets that were consumed yesterday, I have to say that I didn’t once have to ask for ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. If only that were the case with the more mundane actions, like being given a drink or their dinner.
Anyhow, who was todays little liar! I am trying to cut down on my smoking as a prelude to giving up in the New Year. My e-cigarettes has a small battery charger that is generally plugged into a socket above the dish washer. Today whilst emptying the said dishwasher, i looked down to the filter as there were a couple of chickpeas sitting there. A remnant of last nights meal. Behind the filer I noticed a black wire and realised that my e-cigarette charger had been placed into the dishwasher at some earlier point. Knowing that this incident would have been one of the little ones, I called them all into the kitchen. ‘Well’ I asked ‘who put the charger into the dishwasher’? Caleb, the quietest of the three (mostly), pipes up ‘it was Thor’. ‘Thor’ I ask ‘was it you’? Thor tells me it was Aaliyah. Aaliyah then tells me it was Caleb. Rather than having one little liar, we clearly had two, if not three little liars. I had all three stood around the open door of the dishwasher. ‘Spend a minute and then tell me the truth’? You know, children are rubbish at keeping secrets, so I knew the truth would raise its head. I went back after a minute and both Thor and Aaliyah point accusingly at Caleb. He was looking down, consumed with whatever emotion it is that three year olds have, was it guilt, anger at being found out, or indeed anger at the other two for ratting him out. I picked him up and placed him under my left arm (gently of course) and marched him up the two flights of stairs to bed. Not a murmur from him, which is unusual as all of the little ones mostly scream and shout when things are that bad, being so naughty that they are banished to their bedroom. Half an hour later I looked up to see if he was okay – fast asleep. I decided to let him sleep until lunchtime. Thor makes me smile as on the odd occasion when he has been naughty. He will look me straight in the eye and say ‘Naughty Dadda, Naughty Dadda’. And a last thought on Aaliyah’s moments of extreme naughtiness. You see we have a local school for naughty girls! It is simply called ‘The School for Naughty Girls’, it’s run by ‘Mrs Snodgrass’. A no nonsense woman in her late fifties, I imagine she is dressed in a Green tweed, two piece suit, horn rimmed glasses, a bit like she has just stepped out from the year 1954… since the introduction of ‘Mrs Snodgrass’ Aaliyah’s behaviour has improved significantly. Let’s just say that the threat of going to Naughty School is our plan B with Aaliyah. We all need a plan B don’t we?