Juicing grapes is a slow process. The first year I attempted to juice our first crop of grapes, in my pure ignorance, I spent two hours trying to pass them through a muslin bag. Or a white pillow case actually. It took hours to release the juice. This years bumper crop of grapes would have taken a couple of days. Anyhow, this year I cropped the vine in 4 stages. The total weight of grapes was in excess of twelve kilograms. Anyhow without child labour this year, I washed the black grapes and filled the very large saucepan I use for jamming then squeezed like mad with my hands. Once juice is released I kept topping up the pan until seventy percent full then to help release more juice I heat until boiling. Now with my trusty new sieve, I’ve gone through three so far this year, I start scooping out the pith and seeds and press firmly on the mixture with a spoon and the final juice is released. I discard the pith. Once boiled and the scum is skimmed, you have pasteurised juice that is fit to make perfect ‘Grape Jelly’.
I thought back to last September, we harvested early. It was a weekend and the weather was mild. Not sure how sunny it was, but I remember John and I had a Pims and lemonade poured. All five little ones had their swimming costumes on. We had been playing ‘The water slide’! Don’t mix up ‘water sliding’ with ‘water boarding’ now. We put down a ten metre strip of black tarpaulin and someone holds the hosepipe at the top of the children’s green slide. The kids love it, so much screaming and shouting and above all sliding. And it’s competitive too. I’ve gone off focus, back to the grape vine. Secateurs in hand and the children’s small paddling pool besides me, I’m pruning away and throwing the bunches of grapes directly into the pool. It’s not long before Tara comes running up screaming ‘Aaliyah hit me, Aaliyah hit me’, then she sees what i am doing. The vine is fifty percent done and the pool is filling up slowly. Tara doesn’t give it a second though. She jumps in and starts squishing with her feet shouting out ‘Ritza, Ritza’ to Amritsar ‘come here it’s fun’. Within minutes the others are over to investigate. First Amritsar and then Thor joins Tara in the paddling pool, both also jumping up and down laughing and screaming. ‘It’s squishy Dadda it’s squishy’ Thor screams and fists clenched tight he stamps harder, one foot after the other. Aaliyah and Caleb were bemused, sat with Daddy at the table on the terrace, under the parasol. Daddy raised his Pims and lemonade and said ‘cheers’. I continued pruning and throwing in the bunches…
So this morning we finished off the ‘Bear Bear Boulders’ and ‘Cheerios’ (we don’t have a pet name for those! I saw the scissors on the counter as I had just used them to open a frozen block of ratatouille. I don’t know why but I started cutting the flaps off each box and then both boxes into three even strips width wise. Then one by one I cut zig zags along one side of each strip. And low and behold, we had six very regal looking crowns. Needless to say the not so famous five all went off to school thinking they were princes and princesses.
The three little ones back for their lunch from preschool had elevated themselves to two Kings and a Queen. And unlike Yesterday’s fiasco, they all three of them ate all of their crunchy toast and salami. No more ‘camp run a muck’ please. Both Sindy and I had a serious word with all three of them and they are now sleeping soundly. All is quiet upstairs.
Yes it certainly is Autumnal. The mornings are dark and it is as dark as Remus’s inky black spots when the children march up the stairs at bedtime . The house has a partial view, out on to woodland. There is even a spill over into the bottom of the garden. One of these trees is a very old oak tree. It is very large, so I guess it is really quite ancient. It’s leaves turn an amazing burnt orange in early to mid September. It really is quite beautiful. It’s leaves have all shed at this point. All of the other trees are just starting their preparations for leaf fall. The vast pallet of greens are yellowing slowly, a few hints of orange, but none look as magnificent as the oak tree at the bottom of the garden…
Just before the not so famous five marched up to bed I had an altercation with Aaliyah. In recent times, since we arrived home from our summer in Provence, she has become so close to Remus and Gracie our two Dalmatians. I guess she actually missed them an awful lot! A friend of the family Jo came in thrice daily to run, walk, water and love them, so they did not have to go to kennels. Aaliyah did not see them as anything but troublesome before the holiday. Since our return home she only has love for them, insisting on hugging Gracie and Remus as much as she can. Of course, Gracie and Remus love the attention very much and they lick and lick lots. No more kissing we always insist. But Aaliyah and Gracie are the best of friends. I do love nick names and each of our five children have their own ‘baby names’… as do Remus and Gracie.
When Tara and Amritsar were just one year old we had a brilliant au pair in London called Essie. And back then she lovingly referred to Remus as Remo (something I picked up on) and I often call Gracie ‘Grace Grace’ as I do with ‘Thor Thor’ (it’s a Thai thing)!
Anyhow – the story is that I referred to Remus and Gracie as ‘Remo and Grace Grace’ and Alliyah was not happy. ‘Their names are Remus and Gracie Dadda’ she shouted and started to get very upset. ‘We all have baby names’ don’t we Bee Bee I insisted. She thought for a moment and said ‘Yes we do Andi’ (Thinking Andi was my baby name) and she giggled. Dadda had to smile.
Firstly I want to roundup my days of the week and their meanings. I completely forgot yesterday as I was so in awe of the fried torn potatoes and a big thumbs up for the deep fat fryer (sorry all). When I do fry, which is no more than once a week, I usually end up patting the excess oil off with countless pieces of kitchen towel. Using the fryer allowed me to drain and shake a few times. I tipped out on to kitchen towel and absolutely no excess oil. There is kitchen science at work here that I won’t go in to, but food absorbs less oil when immersed in very hot fat opposed to cooking in a method such as sauté! Well, back to finishing my summing up of the names of the origins of the days of the week and you probably have figured it out already! Yes, Monday is the day of the Moon, another commodity of time in our lives. Not only do we enjoy it every twenty eight days but we also have a constant reminder of it at the beginning of each and every week. And so now we come to Tuesday, so named after the Nordic god Tiw (also known as Tyr), so Tiwes daag in old English became Tuesday in modern English. Tiw is a pretty cool God and is in fact a brother of Thor and son of Odin.
I am now sat in the kitchen with a full sink of grapes immersed in water. There were a few mouldy bunches that I splatted on the terrace floor, but I think I just about caught them before the last of the crop was doomed. As I said earlier, I will juice tomorrow. The immersion in water is obviously to clean them but also it gets rid of the earwigs who love to make their homes inside these sweet, seeded vine fruits.
My thoughts have returned to the little ones nap time earlier today. Their midday sleep is almost at an end and today is proof of that. Once Sindy went on her lunch, they didn’t settle. I went up three times in the first hour to try and corral them to their beds, but they weren’t having it. On the third visit, I thought it strange that Caleb was holding his duvet completely covering himself. On closer inspection, duvet lowered, he was wearing one of Tara’s out- grown red and white polka dot dresses… it’s not the first time we have caught him in a dress, I think it has something to do with his admiration of big sister Tara (who looks out for him with much care and tenderness) I’m sure he’ll grow out of it. Though it is a worry…
With the two days of constant rain and drizzle now behind us, I am today harvesting the last twenty percent of our ‘Concord’ grape vine. This has been a bumper year due to the phenomenal amount of sunshine and heat. On the other hand, the Apple harvest from the trees in the kitchen garden was appalling. I want to simply juice the remainder of the grapes and then I am planning to freeze it for jamming at another time. If the provisions cupboard could talk, it would say ‘not another Grape Jelly, i’m so full up’!
I have just made the little ones lunch consisting of chunky bread, cheese and Branston pickle and a chilled glass, rather plastic beaker of black current juice. Sindy is on the pickup from preschool and it’s a quarter to midday. Car pulling up so I will get back to this blog in twenty minutes… well twenty minutes have passed and the little ones are settled in their adjoining rooms at the top of the house, our nanny has just exited and gone home for her lunch break. I’m smiling, remembering Thor pulling away his chair from the table leaving it a metre or so behind him, in preference to standing whilst eating his lunch. I took a couple of photos as it seemed quite funny at the time. I was told by Sindy that he had been a bit naughty at preschool and was made to sit on their ‘Thinking Chair’. Probably the reason he wanted to stand. Well with all the theatricals he wasn’t doing much eating. Talking mostly or posing for his photos. Well Aaliyah and Caleb has finished by this time and Thor was making a joke of something. He spun around and his black current drink splashed all over his sandwich. Thor didn’t seem too bothered, he told us that he didn’t want to eat it anyway. He’s funny with cheese, he likes it one day and hates it the next. But he nearly always eats it with pickle, nearly always…
Off to harvest those grapes now. But I will leave the juicing until tomorrow. And maybe I’ll reminisce on last years ‘Grape Harvest’ them.
Well all the children were a bit sleepy at dinner time. But all finished their lasagne as one house rule is that if you leave good food on your plate there’s no room for dessert. And today whilst Sindy went to pick the girls up from school, the little ones and I made jam tarts using my homemade preserves. Thor filled the raspberry jam ones, Caleb filled the black cherry jam ones and Aaliyah filled the pineapple jam tarts. A great contrast of colour, dark purple, red and yellow. Everyone enjoyed!
The three little ones had a shower tonight and the girls will do tomorrow’s hose down. We forgo showers on Saturdays and everyone baths on a Sunday. Then through the week the girls and the little ones take turns on a nightly cycle. All is quiet now and Sindy has gone home. The dogs are quiet on the sofa as they are on weekdays from 5.30pm until 7pm when John arrives home.
A roast dinner is usually the Sunday finale of the week but my assertion on cooking Indian last night and John loving his roast, I have decided to do a ‘Mock Roast’ tonight. Roast pork in home made pork gravy with steamed/sautéed Savoy cabbage and deep fried ‘torn potatoes’.
I think you get the gist that I love my chest freezer as cooking and portioning in bulk makes big meals easy. The sizeable piece of pork – leftovers from the last roast leg of pork meal was defrosted this morning with a freezer bag containing the pork jus (gravy) made with old fashioned Bisto gravy thickener and all the meat juices that the joint submitted. The cold meat is easily sliced thinly or thickly, whichever is your preference and then after whisking the gravy with a little water to become a velvety smooth texture you can add the sliced meat. Simmer on low heat for maybe an hour, but keep an eye on it.
Savoy cabbage shredded with the omission of the hard veiny bit and place in a frying pan with a good spoonful of butter and a little water, salt and pepper. Place on the lid and steam first for maybe 10 minutes stirring occasionally. When the water has evaporated and the leaf is tender – but still with a slight bite, you’re there – just sauté for a few additional minutes. Now ‘Torn Potatoes’ you may ask! Just microwave Maris Pipers or King Edwards (in their skins) for however long they take to cook and leave to cool a little. Remove the skins and cup both of your hands around then apply slight pressure towards the sides and slowly push until the potato breaks into two halves (practice makes perfect). Then break each half into two or three wedges lengthwise. And there you have it – torn potatoes. You can shallow fry and turn after the down side is Golden brown – but if you dare to deep fry, go for it! After a lifetime of caution on deep fat frying – I remember my fathers dependency on it, we only deep fry or sauté maybe twice a week st very most, ((John and I). I just purchased my first ever deep fat fryer and am using it for the first time ever tonight. The multiple ridges of the torn cooked potatoes give a much larger surface area so cooked at a high temperature – these are the best ever potatoes you are ever likely to eat.
Well time to eat. Still quiet upstairs and John and the hounds are perched on the opposite sofa. I am pretty hungry now! So Bon Appetite…
The girls are just in and have changed out of their uniforms. Sindy had just lead all five upstairs to sort out their beds. There was also a mass emptying of their draws last night that they were supposed to clear up after school but Sindy decided to clear up that mess earlier today as even Tara and Amritsar would not have tidied up the clothing with any sense of order. Each and every one of them has amassed a collection of soft toys, books, plastic toys and bits in their beds! There has to be a culling every now and then as all this stuff – enveloped within their bedding must make it awkward to sleep. I think the outcome will be just two soft toys and a book each. Thor tends to be the worst hoarder as he likes to covet things, even scraps of paper and tissue. There’s no hope I despair.
This morning went smoothly. I won’t do a repeat on the average weekday breakfast but they were all out on the school run just after eight o’clock as the preschool starts at eight thirty. It’s just so quiet after they leave, so unlike the the early days when we had five children of three and under. I had to smile when you would hear a comment from a mum stressed out about having three under fives. At this time even the dogs settle for two hours, that is unless there is a car driving past along the driveway. Dalmatians, or at least ours start wining or barking at the slightest sound. I turn on the television to mask some of the external sounds, either the news, music TV or if I’m a bit annoyed with them I leave on children’s television. Both dogs are in the habit of following me from room to room. I used to refer to them as ‘The Shadows’ as I seem to have two of them. Even now I have just left the children with Sindy in the living room to finish writing this as Tara, Caleb and Thor were starting to climb all over me. But yes, I am now in the kitchen and low and behold! Remus and Gracie are standing here staring right up at me. In the past they ignored a few commands so there is a generic one now for ‘settle down’ or ‘go away’ and that is simply ‘on your bed’ said with a certain strength of voice. On hearing this they will generally go back to the living room and get onto the sofa. I have to smile.
Just serving up dinner – home made lasagna made with three hour slow cooked minced pork with masses of garlic. More from me later.
Yes it’s late now and to be honest I’m pretty shattered after a very long day of the onslaught. I certainly don’t want to sugar coat this blog – it is an uphill struggle a lot of the time and today much like many Sundays started with the screams of the little ones and indeed finished with the screams of the little ones.
John passed on a conversation he had with Thor today and this I will share with you!
Thor, have you been playing with my wallet, where are my credit cards? Daddy, I put them away, safe from the little ones! Thor, you are one of the little ones. Daddy, I am big now. So Thor, where did you put them? Daddy, I can’t remember, but they are safe.
Yes Thor has his little ways and we love him all the more for it. Our son certainly entertains us.and the Sun, you know where I’m going – Sunday is clearly named after the Sun.
I cooked an Indian dinner tonight for john and I! Did I tell you I love to cook international cuisine? I got quite good at the flavours of the sub continent when I lived there for eight months. The curry sauce is at the heart of the meal and of course the marinade. I always make the gravy (curry sauce) in bulk and freeze in useable portions. The same is to be said for both ‘channa’ (chickpea curry) and Dal (Yellow lentil curry). I make a very mean chapati (flat bread). Very thin and light, but to be honest paratha is our preference and honestly, you wouldn’t bother to make from scratch as to buy in frozen, pre rolled dough makes so much sense. One defrosted channa made light work and the other defrosted gravy (curry sauce) halved, made a mutter (pea) curry and large red prawns made the other. The real taste of India, very unlike the usual Indian eateries here in the U.K. that fill their standard menu of sauces with vegetable oil to ‘bulk then out’. I actually stopped ordering in Indian food a few years ago as I was sick of being up half the night with indignation.
it is the reaction of the oil with the spice that creates indigestion, not the spice alone, so just omit the vegetable oil.
Knowing the entire meal was made with two teaspoons of oil – duh! Rest assured, healthy and so much tastier too.
Thinking about bed now – so that’s all folks!
I believe it was the Romans’ that gave us a seven day week! Hence the conquered heathens gods were incorporated as well as something of their own. Saturday is indeed in homage to the Roman God And planet Saturn.
Yes of course you could all just google this information – but as our son has his very own day – I thought it would just be a bit of fun. Just had to do a potty run as Thor just left a little bolt of thunder and one needs to be quick as Gracie was sniffing around the said potty – naughty Gracie!!!
06.00 sleeping 06.02 open door invasion bed jumping screaming me escape coffee followed breakfast juice bagels Bedlam settled dogs wining TV talk party spaghetti bolognese screaming drawing Tara Amritsar Daddy party me home little ones dogs feed Caleb scream naughty chair scream bed peace Thor Aaliyah treats chocolate grapes milkshakes me pear peach jam make milk shake Caleb up draw dinner home girls daddy balloons lots pop sweets balloon pop Thor scream balloon pop dogs wining sun set neighbours mowing lawn crazy!!! Bedtime soon everyone running ‘hey google’ (lol) music ‘shake baby shake’ Lush dancing crazy balloons dancing laughing screaming Thor balloon pop laughing laughing screaming Thor flower smiles ‘shake baby shake, again…
Almost bedtime – Phew
Well to my surprise I was informed on my arrival home that our babysitter Nikki was coming tonight! Due to the three nights in Devon next weekend, it seems that her night was brought a week forward to tonight!
Lots of hugs today. Firstly on my arrival home and secondly just before bedtime. I do miss each and every one of them when we are apart, but I do realise that some ‘me’ time is necessary. The contents of the fridge were looking rather slim, so I decided to warm some baguettes from the freezer and fry as much bacon as I could lay my hands on. A huge smearing of Heinz tomato ketchup and we had lift off. Five full tummies and thirty minutes of children’s BBC and they all followed Sindy upstairs for showers and bed.
Johns arrival coincided with Nikki’s. I had been pre warned about it but with nothing booked we thought we would try a local gastro pub and were rewarded with a table, a meal of lamb shanks and a rather nice French Chardonnay. An unexpected night out and for that I am grateful. I am also very thankful for having a TV that works tonight. John just informed me that he eventually found the remote control last night (after 36 hours without) at 10pm at the bottom of the log basket. The usual suspect Thor, post interrogation broke and pointed at Caleb, though the remote was nowhere to be seen. John in his wisdom, later decided to forensically search a few of Caleb’s known hiding places and voila! There it was, hiding in the bottom corner of the basket.
Roll on the weekend… Goodnight
Firstly apologies for an absence of two days. I felt guilty for this time off – sorry once again. Well where was I? Okay, I can’t leave the house midweek, even with Sindy’s help as she has her midday breaks. I am officially house bound. We do go out at weekends as a family but that is more sporadic as a rule. Well I spent 2 nights in London, two very relaxing nights. Time well spent compiling a memoir that I have written. Plus a couple of hours on the town.
These fortnightly breaks have evolved out of needing a sheer break every so often. John of course goes into work daily and returns home exhausted. There’s not a lot to talk about in the twilight hours of the weekdays. Sindy of course has a home to go to and all weekends off, so there’s just me at the house twenty four seven. It’s unlike the early days of children when it’s just so full on – Sindy has a great regiment at home and is happy every two weeks to stay over her lunchtime break. This has allowed two nights to myself to relax and reminisce, or venture out to London’s Soho or the late night scene in Vauxhall. We still have the apartment in London hence every two weeks I ‘escape to the big smoke’.
I went out on Wednesday night ‘Wodins day’ and had an early night on Thursday. I am sure that you have guessed it and I did promise to fill you in on the days of the week and their histories. You already know the sound of the word Thursday and you don’t have to look very far for the God that Thursday is named after. The one and only Thor, god of thunder! Our little boy has extra credence for having his very own ‘Thor’s day’ each and every week.
Now there is some academic discussion on Friday. It’s another Norse God and this time it’s a woman. Firstly there is some debate as the name of the Goddess Frigg doesn’t really anglicise well! It’s just one of those words that doesn’t quite sound right in the spoken English language. So Frigga’s day (Friday), some are associating with another God Freya from another Germanic tribe! The two names are both associated with being the wife of Odin. As we know, Freya is a popular name here in the U.K. today and as it happens, it was one of our girl name choices that was considered before Aaliyah was born. The name Freya that is, not Frigg.
Sat on the train now headed back to ‘the shires’. Back in time no doubt to rustle up the children’s dinner.
I’ll tell you all about it later.
All upstairs now and our nanny has just left. Time to maybe break some eggs! The entire school was participating in ‘Well Being Day’ so sweet… everyone had to dress their egg up as a small baby and look after her or he for the whole day. That’s so thoughtful, the idea of children behaving responsibly and caring for their own little egg.
Well big or small – it always comes back to the little things doesn’t it! Nite nite.
No the eggs were not for breakfast. But breakfast is the start of our day as a family. Sindy arrives Monday to Friday at 7am. I am usually found in the kitchen slumped over the Nespresso machine. Two shots of the dark brown pod – the strongest one in the range (I think), a spoonful of brown sugar and a small dash of full fat milk, that’s how I like it. She will disappear upstairs and dress Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb (often referred to as the little ones). The girls come down in their jimjams as they dress in their school uniform after breakfast. It’s usually a race with all three girls as to who gets the say ‘good morning Dadda’ first. This morning it was Tara as she flings her open arms around me and hugs as if she hadn’t seen me in days. Secondly was Aaliyah who also flung her arms around me screaming another ‘good morning Dadda’ and thirdly it was Amritsar with an equally happy to see me kind of display. By this time the spoons are on the table in each of their place settings, a coloured plastic beaker containing orange squash and their individual bowls filled with Pingu flakes. The boys follow in with Sindy and rush to their designated seats. Milk is poured and Tara always pipes up ‘can we have a second bowl Dadda’? I always reply ‘yes, of course Tara’ and this morning we followed with rice crispies. Amritsar asks me ‘what day if the week is it’ and Tara asks ‘is it the weekend yet’, it’s Wednesday I tell them and no it’s not the weekend yet.
Somehow we got on to the subject of why the days of the week are called what they are and then on to what their names meant! They all kind of know the meanings of their names, but every now and then I get request for a reminder. Well I believe that Wednesday is named after the Norse God Odin (The other Thor’s other dad) and as he was referred to as Wodin in the Germanic regions. Wednesday is essentially Wodins day. Well we did each and every day of the week, but maybe I will update you later each day to come for the next six days… now on to their names and the meanings.
I’ll have to give you a little background before we progress in order for things to make sense. Amritsar and Tara were born in Mumbai and our egg donor was an Indian woman and as a result they are Anglo (Irish) Indian. In respect to the lineage we thought of the name Tara which in both Gaelic and Hindu means star (and she really is our precious little Star).
The name Amritsar is in fact a place on the borders of India and Pakistan. You have probably heard of it as it is a very holy place for the Sikh religion. The most holy golden temple is at its heart. The word Amrit is actually a Hindu boys name and Amrit means ‘food of the gods’, a little like manna from heaven (for God and the Israelites)! so Amritsar is the place of Amrit. And I have always thought it is a very beautiful name. Don’t you?
When it came to naming Thor, I was friendly with a gay couple from Norway who had just had a baby girl. One of the guys was called Törgeir and I believe that Tör is a very popular name in Norway. I kind of liked the anglicised version Thor (aside from super heroes). In fact I met a few people from Norway on my travels and each and every one of them were great. John loved the name too. The God of Thunder – he certainly is.
Finally we felt that Hebrew names would be appropriate with Aaliyah and Caleb as an Israeli agency helped with the surrogacy of our younger twins. Aaliyah means ascended and Caleb is the word for faithful. Both children were in fact born on the roof of the planet in the shadows of Mount Everest. The two names just seemed appropriate.
Back to the Two boiled eggs then… It seems that every child at the girls school has to bring in a hard boiled egg today! Why, I haven’t a clue. We’ll find out later on this afternoon when the girls get home. I can’t wait.
Well the day is at an end. John arrived home late after a long day at a meeting in SE London. A nostalgic meal of salads and charcuterie that was reminiscent of our August holiday in Provence and now hauled up in front of the television. Do people still call it that? Am I out of synch for not calling it the TV? And does it really matter?
Our nanny Sindy was called away early today as there was a birth in the family – aaaah… so I put the not so famous five to bed after letting them stay up late on the premise that they would go straight to sleep and not stay up late chatting and fooling around! It is a school night after all. Twenty minutes in and a very loud ‘get into your beds NOW’ from me – things have settled down, but only after a second set of ‘kiss and hugs’ to each and every one.
Yes Provence was our first successful introduction to the swimming pool. After a lot of screams and drama, all of our children were swimming the doggy stroke. Well with armbands at least to begin with. The first one to jump in with just her flotation jacket was Aaliyah. She is a very determined young lady, fearless. Thor of course saw an opportunity to ‘covet’ yet more stuff (he loves to covet things) so he promptly added her armbands to his, grabbed the watermelon rubber ring and got into the swimming pool, splashed about for a moment and then started screaming ‘i’m sinking, I’m sinking’… I’m really looking forward to the pool in Devon at half term.
That’s all folks.
The girls just back from another gruelling day of reading, art class and sums. All a bit hyper as we’ve just decided to visit a friends holiday cottage in two weeks time in East Devon. And they’ve said they will keep the outside, heated pool nice and warm for our visit. It does go cold for the winter but it’s heat is generated from their biomass, as is the underfloor heating in the cottages. Such a good idea the biomass – why aren’t they more popular in rural areas! Alistaire and Lorna are great hosts and they first met our clan when the little ones were still small babies. It’s good to have something to look forward to isn’t it?
Backtracking on the day. Breakfast in the week consists of a couple of bowls of cereals – generally amassing to the equivalent of an entire box of cornflakes or rice crispies. To be honest, we buy the Tesco (supermarket) generic ones, unless Kellogg’s are on special. With a penguin on the cornflake packet, we call them ‘Pingu Flakes’ and the multigrain boulders are nicknamed ‘Bear Bear Boulders’ after Thor’s teddy bear Mi Mi. Why Mi Mi you ask! Well mi mi is a Thai word that means bear bear. In Thailand a lot of words are spoken twice, especially names of people and bears that you are rather fond of. Now you’re thinking, why a Thai name? Well Thor, although being Caucasian was born in Thailand back in 2014. When John came out to visit us he brought with him a white Harrods teddy bear. I asked Thor’s nanny Ameena what was the Thai word for bear and Mi Mi was named. A very fitting name for Thor’s bestest ever friend and companion. They have been inseparable ever since. I look back at photos and smile. Mi Mi looks much larger than our sleepy baby Thor. And he looks so clean and pristine. Now Thor is a lot bigger and Mi Mi a little less pristine, grey and all kind of squishy and out of shape – one very loved little bear!
Dinner time coming up and the children are having spaghetti with puttanesca (an Italian sauce made with tomatoes, olives, onions, anchovies, garlic and capers). The children also love a good snowstorm of parmesan on top – well who doesn’t. Tasty!
Better fly as there’s lots to do.
It’s been a pretty non eventful closure to the day. John arrived home exhausted from his daily commute to the city of London and at this point is completely comatose on the sofa.
I have just walked through the kitchen and breathed in the very heady aroma of tonight’s Thai yellow curry with chicken. And I took the time to skin and de-bone chicken drumsticks. Breast meat might be the easy option, but the taste and texture of leg or thigh is a world apart… Yes I COOK. And my big thing is to produce a (non) takeaway that is better and tastier than I ever get presented with when we order in.
Our favourite pizza is from Firezza but I like to mimic – I make a great pizza dough, sauce and toppings. As for a Chinese menu, I will considerately reconstruct ingredients from our favourite dishes from Lee’s Chinese takeaway in West London (special fried rice and prawn, chilli and green beans are a particular favourite) – we don’t really need to order in do we? Well, we’re living in the shires now! So who cares?
Thai curries are a specific favourite – John is an Irish man and he loves his spuds, so the idea of a Thai curry with potato as an official ingredient, he loves it, as do I! Always the spice mix / paste is completely home made – the secret is to mince your onion, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, chilli, turmeric etc en masse and bag up in sandwich bags and freeze until the desire for a yellow curry arises! Come on guys this takes 20 minutes to produce in the robo chef / food processor and you can avoid the idea that shop purchased jars of cook in sauce are actually acceptable – They are NOT. Whatever day of the week, there is pride in what we cook, especially in what we cook for others.
Sleepy now so nite nite.
This phenomena in my life started soon after moving to ‘The Shires’ from my prior life in London. Even before the children were born, I attempted blackberry jam and to my dismay – I was rubbish at it. Three times I re boiled the stewed fruit and that is after bottling and sterilising the jam jars thrice. All I had was blackberry syrup. I felt like giving up but I am rather glad that I stuck with it. After the set of today’s Apple jam – manna from heaven. I will no doubt revisit Jam making on this blog again and again – but don’t let that put you off reading this as ‘Jam is funky’ and everybody loves it…
Okay that aside, it’s Monday and the beginning of the children’s school runs. Now coming from London I never saw the point of driving. That plus for as long as I’ve known John, he’s done all of the driving. When we met he had a Golf GTI and Kawasaki ZZR 600 motorbike. Through the years that combined with the Tube and in more recent years London busses, there was just no reason at all to drive. As a couple we ended up enjoining the luxury of a BMW X5 4 x 4, but when John found out the second set of twins were on their way he panicked and looked frantically for a seven seater option. We now enjoy the delights of a Mitsubishi Shogun. So our nanny Sindy is on the insurance and fully accommodates the weekday school and preschool runs.
The three little ones are at present on their midday nap! All parents enjoy the peaceful time when the toddlers nap but Thor is coming on four years of age and Aaliyah and Caleb are six months his junior. This arrangement will not be lasting much longer. Well, as most parents do – we’ll enjoy it for as long as it lasts. So a recap on the school runs and our nanny Sindy very much in control, I do at times feel a little redundant. And having flash points of catering breakfast, lunch and dinner, my time is freed up to pursue fine dining options for John and indeed the children, plus a career in the arts of Jam making. ‘Dadda’s Jams’ are definitely a massive hit with the children plus the family and friends know what they’re getting for Christmas.
The provisions cupboard is well and truly ‘Jammed Up’!
We forgo a bath on Saturday and do a major dip and scrub on a Sunday in preparation for the school week ahead. Our weekends are less structured than school nights so we want the week to start well with the fresh smell of ‘Johnson and Johnsons’ (a family company) lol… and nicely pressed school uniforms for T and A.
Yes our first born of our older set of twins is actually Amritsar. But we like to use Tara’s name first as much as Amritsar’s. Politics and diplomacy start young nowadays – we’re hoping to avoid any resentment on whos name comes first later on – they are both as equally talented and both as strong willed, although they excel in different areas.
We didn’t realise when the names were considered that they would add up to the word ATTAC (Amritsar, Tara, Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb) with the timeline of the births. And no – that’s enough – there will be no sixth child with a name starting with the letter K (ATTACK) lol.
All of our children were born via a c’section. So in the case of twins and we have two sets, the weight of the babies at birth determines who is the first born. For us the c’section was an important factor for our surrogacies. Our egg donors and surrogates helped us assisting in very different ways. I definitely feel that to go through the process of a natural birth for the surrogate for a child who was not biologically theirs’ would just be so conflicting and thankfully the IVF clinics we had used in the past subscribed to the same ethics!
One also has to consider – we chose surrogacy and more so compensated surrogacy (not legal in the U.K.) as the way to plan our family as altruistic surrogacy (where no payment is made, just expenses), quite legal here in the U.K. had its potential problems! John and I planned this family – we are our children’s true and only parents. I don’t feel that a moral or ethical argument exists here. We just chose not to be dependent on an unknown person to assist as the progenitor in our pregnancies. The thought of a third party (mummy) in the background looking in every now and then to ‘check up’ on us as parents was just completely unacceptable. We both chose to be parents, John and I, not the egg donor or the surrogate.
Anyhow ATTAC. We had to smile when we realised that…
Our Sunday has flown by. Another birthday party this morning at 11am. Our three youngest were also invited so it meant that we could all seven go as a family. The birthday was another set of twins from the girls school. Our girls and they are best of friends. I guess with them all being twins – birds of a feather! The party was great – though I am not the biggest fan of entertainers who call themselves clowns (too many nightmares as a child). However he did well and freed up the time for all the invited parents to chat and network – as they do. One boy had an aversion to clowns and hid behind the veranda for the first thirty minutes, but the clown did well and won over the boys confidence eventually.
We all had a good day – so I’m gonna sign off now and relax a bit before bedtime.
Another week awaits.