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 the Saturday bath for a major dip and scrub on a Sunday in preparation for the week ahead. Our weekends are less structured than school nights so we want the week to start well with the fresh smell of ‘Johnsons’ (a family business) 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 – were hoping to avoid any resentment on who 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 the weight of the babies determine 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 both being twins – birds of a feather! The party was great – though I am not the biggest fan of entertainers that 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.
Well, why have I decided to do this and what do I want from it? Who are we and just what could I blog about! Good questions to embrace at this early point…
Throughout the baby years, as many of you will remember – I just didn’t have the time in the day. Just the sheer exhaustion of it all and that is with John and the nannies committed help and support. The feeds, the nappies, the crying, the sleepless nights. Not to mention the giggles, the aaah oooh’s, the steps and the running up the stairs with whom ever sat on my shoulders, tiny hands grasping at my face, hanging on for dear life and screaming loud with the excitement of the moment! There really wasn’t the inspiration to share what seemed a very precious time. But babies grow steadily, yes all five of them. Now very much little people. It seems that we all have so much more to say as we’re all participating in our BIG family life.
I do want a record of these times and an online diary might just work. It’s the little things isn’t it? All families must smile about or cry, maybe laugh or avoid – those little things… and I want to share some of those moments with you. Our children’s personalities are tangible now and I want to show you how we cope with the little things and how we deal with one and other.
I have so far mentioned Aaliyah and Thor, so I will now introduce you to the others. Our first born was our 10 year old Dalmatian ‘Remus’, then three years down the line was his daughter ‘Gracie’, both completely bonkers and very needy. Our twin girls were born in the spring of 2013 via surrogacy. Their names are Amritsar and Tara. Then in late 2014 baby Thor was born and six months later his biological brother and sister joined us. Their names are Aaliyah and Caleb. Yes in normal circumstances an impossibility, but as you may be thinking, surrogacy again had its role to play.
I’m thinking of writing a daily summary or story with perhaps an extra update at the weekend! Does that sound about right for a blog? I’ve got a few ‘saved stories’ up my sleeve, so perhaps on a low news day we could take a trip down memory lane.
There – I’ve set out my intentions, let’s see where that leads…