Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Canal Walk

So the rain finally stopped and my Mum decided that we should all go out for a walk with the dogs along the canal.

So off we went. My Mother's version of a short walk is actually a three mile hike through a couple of fields and then alongside the muddy canal stopping along the way to feed some very angry swans and a couple of friendly ducks.

We had reached the halfway point and were turning round to walk back when I suddenly realised we had lost TJ. TJ had previously been complaining that his legs hurt and he couldn't walk anymore. I told him that footballers all walked for many miles every day and that was how they could kick the ball so hard. TJ thought about this and said "But I only kick with this leg, the other is the one that's tired." I told him to hop on his good leg then as I was not going to carry him.

As soon as we realised he wasn't with us I raced back along the towpath to find my son trying to persuade an elderly gentleman on a canal barge that he needed 'a lift back to Granny's house.' The man was obviously confused, mainly as TJ was pointing down river and the barge was facing upstream. TJ didn't get the notion that a canal barge couldn't actually turn around. As I got there I waved at the gentleman and he waved back reassuringly. Then he turned to TJ, who was proudly wearing his Arsenal team shirt and said, "I tell you what, I'll give you a lift to your Grannies if you promised to support Manchester United." TJ thought about this for a couple of seconds and then retorted, "actually, I think I would rather walk!"

TJ saw me and ran back over. As he did I turned around to thank the old man only to see him doubled over in laughter telling his wife what had just happened. Well, at least my children bring smiles to whomever they meet......

Rainy Days and Tuesdays...

Today it has rained pretty much all day. A rainy Tuesday in Cheshire is not much fun. Not with two small boys to entertain. Lea has now watched three movies in a row and TJ is glued to the Olympics. Having such a sport loving son has its ups and downs. After each event that he watches TJ is convinced that he will be the next champion. That can be quite amusing as after each event TJ then shows us all how he will be the future medal winner. He butterfly stroked around the kitchen, performed the show jumping with myself as his horse... I now appreciate how hard those poor ponies work, which makes me wonder why they don't get a medal as well... and finally I found him in Grannies kitchen using two stools as parallel bars in order for him to be a British Gymnast. Thank goodness he hasn't yet seen the archery or shooting, I am pretty sure my Mum's ornaments won't withstand being the targets for his practise shots!

Lea has so far watched Shrek, The Princess and the Frog and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I wonder if she will start re-enacting the story lines in the same way as her brother does with sports.

Hopefully the rain will stop soon and we can get out to the park. Then TJ can show us his footballing skills.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Bullies

Today I took the children to the park for a kick about with their football and to play with their scooters. When we arrived there were already a few children playing on the swings and we went straight to the football pitch, well, we did have TJ with us! A few minutes into our game and a group of three teenagers arrived, they can't have been more than 14 or 15 and yet the other children on the swings immediately froze and a larger ginger haired boy suddenly ran for the gates. The smallest of the three teenagers took off after him and the other children on the swings quickly disappeared out of another entrance to the park. The small thug came back having duly dispatched the ginger boy. He then got together with his two other teenage friends and they proceeded to take a bicycle wheel apart and then tried to destroy it.

What surprised me most was my own reaction to these events. As an adult I should have felt compelled to defend the poor child being bullied but as someone who was bullied mercilessly myself all I could do was watch. It was as if I had been transported back to my own teenage years and whilst I felt for the young ginger boy there was also a part of me that was grateful that it wasn't me that was being bullied. I don't know if I am explaining myself very well but it did make me realise that bullying really does have an enormous effect on the victim and that the emotional effects remain with you always.

 I looked at my own kids. TJ was playing football completely oblivious to the events unfurling around him. KC was watching the whole thing completely mesmerised and then started to mimic the bullies in his treatment of TJ. It was obvious that KC was doing this as a form of defence. It doesn't matter who the bullies are, other kids in the playground or your own birth family, but you are affected by their actions and KC's reaction was as subconscious as my own. He didn't know why he was behaving differently and had simply gone into a 'fight or flight' mode. He instinctively knew that in order to survive he had to become a 'bully' rather than be the victim again.

I took both children home for lunch and had a chat with KC about his behaviour in the park and his attitude towards TJ. KC was incredibly remorseful and we had a long chat about choices and family. He then looked at me and said, 'When I behave like that, you don't love me do you?' 'No, ' I told him, 'I will always love you but its because I love you that I don't want you to behave like those boys and that's why I have to tell you off. ' He thought about it and simply said, 'All I want is for you and Papa and TJ to love me, the rest doesn't matter.'

I won't let the bullies control either of my children in the way they still control me.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My Chinese son....

We were all watching the Olympic archery event this morning and unfortunately team GB didn't do well against the Russians. "I'm not supporting Britain anymore." TJ suddenly says, "They don't win enough medals!"

I explained to him that this was only the first couple of days and there would be lots of opportunities for Team GB in the coming Days. TJ looked at me, "How long does this go on for?" he asked, "Two more weeks," I told him. "I'm not waiting that long!" TJ exclaimed, "From now on I'm Chinese cause they win at everything.".... Winning is very important to my son!

Both boys are now glued to the men's swimming. TJ turns to Lea and says, "We can both swim much better than that, especially when I take my arm bands off!"

Modesty is not one of TJ's strong points....

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Summer Holidays - Day 9... Perfume

After all the excitement of last night's Olympic opening ceremony today has been a little subdued. However, I was cheered to walk in on the son as he exercised in his bedroom. "What are you doing?" I asked him. He looked at me as of I had just asked him to boil his own head. "I'm getting ready so that when I am 17 I will be able to win all the races at the 'grown up sports day." his reply made sense and when he is 17 the year will be 2022, which I think will be a Commonwealth Games year.

I am really missing Papa on this trip. It's very rare we spend time away from each other but what surprised me was that I am not the only one. Lea took me to one side and said, "I don't like it when Papa is not here, it doesn't really feel like a family holiday." she was genuinely upset. Then she added "Is Papa getting the new baby and the puppy ready for when we go home?" This time it was my Mum's turn to choke on her food. Lea and I really need to have that talk on babies soon.. And also on appropriate times to give my mother heart failure... I quickly took both kids out to get new scooters....

On the way Mum needed to go to Boots to pick up some stuff. She was looking at perfume and I was distracted by grooming products when suddenly we heard a loud crash, followed by a child's scream, swiftly followed by an irate assistant's voice asking "Who is accompanying this child?" I had that sinking feeling. I noticed my Mum had ducked behind the No.7 counter and was intensely looking at eyeliner in a shade of green that would never suit. I girded my loins, took a deep breath and turned around to find Lea pointing at me (rather like the boy in the Japanese, and far superior, version of The Ring,) saying "There's our Daddy." to the afore mentioned assistant who was holding a bawling TJ by one hand and a destroyed bottle of Marc Jacobs' new fragrance "Dot" in the other. 'Dot' is packaged in a beautiful bottle resembling a flower and was placed on display in the centre of the aisle. TJ was pretending to be a butterfly and flying around the 'flower' looking for nectar when Lea decided to swat him... Cue dropped floral bottle, screaming children and general chaos. Turns out Lea didn't get the butterfly reference and believed TJ to be a particularly vicious wasp in need of instant death....

My Mum quickly paid for her purchases whilst the assistant kept telling me it was ok and that I didn't have to pay for the damaged perfume as it was 'only a tester.' It was just a shame she said this through gritted teeth which kind of took away from the sincerity of her claim.

Olympic opening ceremony

Wow... I am so lucky. Not only did I get to watch the Olympic opening ceremony on TV but I also got both my mother and my youngest giving their earnest opinions upon all that took place, complete with fashion advice...

From the beginning my mother complained, mainly about the members of team GB who decided to stay at their training camp in Portugal, although as I pointed out to her, with the Portugese economy in the state it is, it was probably cheaper to stay there for a week than fly home for the ceremony and then fly back again. Sometimes I think my mum should spend her negative energy calling the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2... For those who don't know what that is, think a very polite Jerry Springer on the wireless where middle England complains about the standard of customer service in John Lewis.

Mother's complaints were soon joined by TJs. He got bored very quickly. "When does the running start?" he asked as Kenneth Branagh launched into character. I explained that this was the opening ceremony and the actual events don't start until tomorrow and the running not for another week. "So you're making me stay up to watch a boring show?" "You don't have to stay up," I replied, "I thought you would enjoy it." "Well, I'm not!" he snapped back and off he went to bed. Lea enjoyed it immensely and was clapping along having a great time. Then the flags came. "Why can't we fast forward this bit?" she asked. I explained that this was live and these were all the athletes that we're competing. "Apart from the lazy ones in Portugal!" Mum said.... Lea took all this in. "Well, if they are athletes then they should run round the track and this boring bit would be over sooner." I'm sure the Brazillian Olympic organising committee will be taking that point on board for the Rio games.

We took a trip to Chester Zoo today at a cost of £53 for a family ticket. This price is, of course, before food, drink, ice creams and toys. By the end of the day we had easily spent in excess of £100. Such is the beauty of having kids.

The zoo is a favourite of Lea's but not really of TJ's, or so we thought. When we came last year both children raced around the zoo, this time they seemed much more thoughtful and, although they remembered being here before they didn't recall many of the exhibits or the animals, which leads me to believe that last year they really weren't actually taking anything in. I am beginning to see that adopted children only take things in on their second time of experiencing it. This is probably due to their defence mechanisms learnt from early childhood, in that they choose not to remember anything as those memories will be taken from them at some point either by abusive parents or social workers. We are therefore spending this year repeating all the major activities we did last year and, to be honest, this time round they are so much better.

I shall write more tomorrow.. Stay tuned....

Friday, 27 July 2012

Monkey Business

Today we had chores to do. The usual first day of a visit to Granny's, going to the supermarket, fixing a few bits around the house, dealing with Granny's hangover... Nothing out of the ordinary.

To be fair, Granny and I were up to the wee small hours catching up over a bottle or two of sauvignon blanc and we did go to bed a little later than expected. Mum decided to read my blog, after she told me that other people had told her that it really wasn't that good. I was a little bit put out, I have to admit, so I told her to judge it for herself. She read a few posts and was merrily laughing along, saying things like "I can so imagine TJ saying that' or 'exactly the same thing happened to me in Tesco' when she suddenly stopped and said, "You know you can be quite funny - I always thought you should write." I beamed with pride, my mother never says this kind of thing, well not to mine or my siblings faces anyway. Then she added, " It's about time you were successful at something." ... I'm not sure if my mother was Jewish in a previous life but she can certainly sound like Barbra Streisand when I replay her comments in my head, which would explain a lot! My mother then proceeded to tell me that someone on the daytime soap 'Doctors' had written a blog and it had ruined her life... Was I sure I was doing the right thing getting involved with social media?... Sigh...

Once Granny felt human again this morning we decide to take a trip to the local Tesco supermarket and with a second list from my 89year old Nan we certainly had our work cut out. But the children were duly dispatched to collect things, comics were bought and all was well. Once we had finished we headed off to my Nan with her shopping and birthday presents to hand. Nan was 89 yesterday and is still going amazingly strong. She recently told me to read 'These Foolish Things' (the book version of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) although warned me to watch out for the gratuitous sex scenes. "Nan, " I said, "I always close my eyes when I get to those bits." She paused, "What a good idea," she said, "I wish I had thought of that." With my Nan you know every comment is loaded with sarcasm. But, like me, she loved the book and loathed the film... apologies to all you fans of the movie but the book is so much better. However, my point is that my Nan and I have always been on a similar wavelength, which is both reassuring and unsettling at the same time.

The children and I turned up at her door. "How lovely to see you all," she exclaimed, "Will you be staying long? Poirot is on soon." I hadn't seen her for a few months so it was nice to know that nothing had changed.

We duly gave her the birthday presents we had for her and invited her to dinner on Friday to watch the Olympic opening ceremony on the TV. "What will we be having?" she asked. "Toad in the hole." said my Mum. "I don't think I'll bother," said Nan, "I can be very unsociable where Yorkshire pudding is concerned." So we agreed to meet for Sunday lunch instead.

We then took the children to the monkey forest at Trenthan Gardens near Stoke. We had been here before very early in the kids' placement with us but they hadn't really been interested, I think there was just too much going on in their minds... 'who were these new people? Why did they keep saying they were our family? etc... It took nearly six months for the younger one to work out that 'Daddy and Papa' weren't actually our names. They had called all the adults in their lives, since coming into care, by their first names and why should we be any different. When they heard me calling Papa by his Christian name they actually thought I was talking to someone else and whenever they heard another child call for their Daddy they would ask me why that child wanted me....

This time it was lovely to see both children really engaged with the monkeys and wandering around the park without a care in the world and just accepting that I was Daddy and Granny was Granny. That sounds really simple but it is at times like these that I realise just how far they have come, they truly are beginning to accept that this is their family (not the monkeys that is but us) and that is a huge step for them both.

It was only marred by the fact that Papa has to work these few weeks and can't share these little moments with us, I think he would really notice a difference as well, but apparently he is at home dreaming of Darren Criss from Glee. As I keep saying to Papa, just because you are a 'follower' of Darren on Facebook, that doesn't make you his 'Friend' just another of his many social media stalkers. However, Papa has sworn me to secrecy as he is a little embarrassed by his Glee crush.

So who am I to tell anyone.....

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer Holidays - Day 6, Trip to Granny's

Wow! Today was even hotter than yesterday. It easily hit thirty degrees out there and today was the day that we decided to drive up to Granny's... A good four hour trip. But, to be honest being sat in an enclosed space with two small children and air conditioning was far better than being stuck with two small children in a hot house with both kids saying that it was too hot to go outside.

So off we went....

On the whole it has been a pretty uneventful journey.... Until we stopped at the service station. My bribe had been that if they were good then the children could have a burger when we stopped. Naturally we stopped and burgers were had. Following the break both kids needed the toilet and we duly went. Afterwards I told them to wash their hands whilst I used the facilities. As I was going I heard a sudden commotion behind me... I quickly finished what I was doing and turned around to find that TJ had placed his head under the hand dryer and had managed to get himself stuck in the process. He was screaming with fear, and probably heat, whilst the sister stood there howling with laughter. It tuned out that TJ had got his hair stuck in the metal air blowing part of the dryer! How he even managed to get his head under there I don't know, my feeling is that his sister had something to do with it... I quickly freed him, by pulling him hard and leaving a handful of blonde hair in the dryer. This created more tears and I was left looking as if I had manhandled my child and dragged him from the toilets to the car park via a particularly viscous barbers.

We hurriedly got back in the car and headed back up the motorway.

A little earlier that day both boys had asked to look at pictures of my family. Unfortunately, my father died a few years ago from cancer. The boys pulled out a picture of myself and my brother sitting on my Dad's knee. "Who's that?" TJ asked. "Its my Dad," I replied, "but he's dead now."
"Do you think he would have liked me?" TJ asked. "I'm sure he would have loved you." I replied. "I would have liked to have met him," said TJ. I looked at him lovingly... "Then he would have bought me a scooter."

Sometimes I think I am raising the most selfish children in the world.... Until I go down the local supermarket, when I realise mine are angels.

They are finally in bed now.... Let's see what tomorrow brings!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summer Holidays - Day 5

We are now 5 days into the long summer break and so far it's all going well.

Today was the hottest day of the year so far and the children decided they would like to go out into the garden and paint. The thought of this filled me with dread. The younger boy, TJ can usually be left outside painting quietly. He often sings to himself whilst he is creating his masterpiece and it's a really sweet thing to watch. However, the minute you add in the whirlwind that is his older brother then all hell usually breaks loose and the paint ends up everywhere except where it is supposed to be. So, I was hesitant in granting my permission for this exercise, however, I need to catch up on a few emails, so decided to allow the painting to commence.

To be honest, it was quite uneventful, TJ painted a beautiful picture for Papa and Lea painted some seashells she had collected for me. Lovely. I decided to leave them to it and popped inside to do some work.

After a few minutes I noticed the silence from outside.... Alarm bells went off, my children are never silent... Never! I poked my head out of the back door just in time to see Lea take aim at TJ's smiling mouth with a golf club! "What are you doing?" I yelled just as the golf club swung back over Lea's shoulder. "I need a new Beyblade," TJ replied nonchalantly and Lea is helping me to get the five pounds I need." For those of you without small children, particularly small boys, Beyblade is a throwing toy that is marketed using very poor Japanese animation on Nickelodeon. It's TJ's current addiction, last week it was Bakugan and the week before that... Well, you get the picture. Needless to say neither child has ever been addicted to the toys I wanted them to play with, trains, scalextric, buckaroo... They are far too boring!

Anyhow, back to the unfolding scene in the garden with two small kids and a golf club. I looked incredulously at the younger boy. "And how is letting your sister hit you in the mouth going to get you five pounds?" I asked, "I know he doesn't even have five pounds to give you." "I'm not giving him five pounds," said Lea triumphantly, "The tooth fairy will!"

Yes, it turned out that my sadistic older child had persuaded her younger brother that if she knocked out five of his teeth that he would have enough money for his Beyblade. Looking on the bright side, at least her addition was sound.

Later that day on the way back from therapy I had a black Range Rover tailgating me and the woman at the wheel was obviously very angry with me, even without the ability to lip read I knew the words she was using would not be suitable to be written here... I wasn't sure what I was doing or had done. Then I adjusted my rear view mirror to see two small kids giving the lady 'the bird' and flicking 'v's at her.... I went ballistic! No tv this evening!

As I sit here typing this TJ is on the toilet. I have just had the ominous request to "Come here..." "Why?" I asked. "I want to show you something!" came the reply. Good grief last time that happened he wanted me to take a picture of his pooh as he was sure it was big enough to go into the Guiness Book of World Records.... And to be fair, it probably was!

Monday, 23 July 2012


1953... That was the year we were transported to today.

Mainly because I had to go up to their social workers office for a meeting regarding their future. Without going into details the birth mother is fighting us for custody, it's been going on for a while and is pretty stressful but, hopefully, the judge will decide in our favour... Of course as its the holiday season we won't have the case heard now until mid September.. I'll keep you updated. Apparently no child has ever been returned to their parents after they have been removed, which makes you wonder why the system is set up to give everyone involved as much stress as possibly, us as we wait for the judge's final decision, the boys as they wait to see when they will be finally part of a family and even the birth mother, who is being given a false sense of hope (well, we hope it's false). The even more ridiculous thing is that the only people who get anything out of the situation are the lawyers, those representing her and those representing us... And they are all paid by social services, or rather the tax payer!

The road to adoption isn't always as cheerful as we make it sound but our family life remains as upbeat as ever.

So whilst I was away for the day I left the children in the care of Papa, I resisted the urge to call on an hourly basis in order to keep a check on them and also because I was stuck in yet another almighty traffic jam. Thanks to the Olympic traffic lanes the entire city of London is now in gridlock, God help anyone who actually needs to work over this period.

Needless to say I got there late and got back very late. At 7pm I returned to find a completely calm household. Both kids bathed, fed and ready for bed. How did you do that? I asked Papa. "good old fashioned discipline!" came the reply.
My heart sank, what did he mean by that? Ed's tales of his childhood canings in school and the horrendous pressure Singaporean children are placed under don't make for pleasant reading.

But no, Papa had been amazing. The children did their homework in the morning, as a reward they got to play on the computer for 20 mins. Then they cleaned their rooms, reward football in the park. Finally they helped prepare their own dinner and cleaned up, reward TV before bath and bed. As I came home the little angels greeted me at the door and gave me a kiss before running up the stairs to bed. Papa had prepared me an ice cold g and t and had put a ribbon in his hair, no husband should expect less, especially in 1953!

I am now sitting back after eating a lovely home cooked meal with the TV on, dog at my feet (still exhausted from yesterday's travails) whilst my loving husband massages my feet. I made that last bit up but you never know....

I may go away more often.

The Walk

Today we went on a lovely walk for charity. It is in memory of the father of a very dear friend of ours and takes place every year. We haven't been able to go before but this year our friends had organised a crèche facility which meant that we could leave the children with a qualified nanny whilst we trekked across the South Downs of England with a group of adults. Fantastic! Nothing but adult conversation, great food and beautiful scenery all afternoon. Or that was the plan.

We bundled everyone into the car at around 11am on a beautiful sunny day with the aim of arriving at the designated picnic spot by 12.30, then heading of on the walk while the children were whisked away from an afternoon of fun and ice cream. But no... I decided to take the fastest route possible and jumped onto the motorway.... Two hours later we were still there, stuck in a traffic jam from hell. To be fair the kids were both really good and didn't fuss too much, so the only person getting stressed was me!

We arrived just as the walking party were leaving, I was a bit flustered, trying to pay the parking, take two children to the toilet, get the dog on a lead all the while being plied with delicious goats cheese tarts, sausages and cake. It only dawned on me that we didn't have a plate when I was offered salad nicoise to take on our journey.

Anyhow, by the time the formalities were done, the children were duly dispatched and we had sorted out our packed lunch, the rest of the party were already some way ahead of us. It was quite a big walking group and Papa and I knew that with enough oomph in our step we would definitely make up for lost time.

We crossed the road and entered onto the main pathway. Papa was hungry so we settled down for a lovely picnic and watched the world go by... It's amazing how peaceful everything suddenly seems when you don't have two little voices constantly asking you what, where, when, why and how does anything do anything....
We may have tarried a little longer than expected but we set off again in full vigour now nourished by our lunchtime repast. I suddenly received a phone call. It was okay they weren't returning the children already, no it was simply the head of the walking group telling us not to go to the beach but to follow the path up over the downs and to head towards Birley Gap. We dutifully did so.

Then we saw our group, not too far ahead but congregating at the top of a steep hill. We rushed off after them. Behind us was marching a very stern looking man and his two daughters. "right, " he said (he was very loud so I couldn't help overhearing) "if a couple have three daughters and each daughter has six children and they are all living off benefits then who is responsible for the grandchildren and how much will they cost the taxpayer?" This was obviously a maths problem for those in private school. I didn't know the answer but decided I probably didn't want to and hopefully his two remaining daughters would push him off the cliff anyway, probably to rapturous applause form all the other stunned walkers who had to endure his tripe.

Anyway, we caught up with our group. As I say, we had never been on this walk before and didn't question the fact that the group was now forming a large communal circle. "This is obviously part of the day" I said to Papa, "We must have reached a half way point and now we say a prayer or something." With this in mind we joined the circle, putting the dog between us, she was beginning to wheeze and sounded a touch asthmatic but we hoped no one would notice. The people started humming and a large white object was produced which was passed from one member of the group to the next and as they passed it they leaned towards their neighbour and said something that was obviously of great meaning to the next person. Now if you are typically British like me, then anything that involves having to tell a complete stranger anything slightly emotional always puts me in a state of pure terror. 'What if I say something inappropriate?' (I do that a lot) What if I laugh when I am supposed to cry or vice versa? What if...? Well there are too many what ifs but whichever 'what if' it is I usually do it.

It was whilst I was pondering this that I looked around the circle and realised that we didn't actually know anyone in it. Surely we should recognise at least one person? But no. As the white object got closer I realised we had entered into what appeared to be a Buddhist prayer group. The object got closer and I looked at Papa and mouthed "we need to go." he nodded. We both smiled and bowed quickly and left as fast as we could back up the hill dragging the wheezing dog behind us.

I'd like to say that that was the end of the matter but no sooner had we managed to get over the brow of the next hill when I managed to fall down a pot hole. A small pothole I grant you, but it could have really hurt. I needed to sit down but as soon as I sat I jumped back up again, I had sat on a particularly large thistle and was now musing both a sore ankle and a prickly bum.

We plodded on and a couple of hours later arrived at Birley Gap where there was a lovely cafe bar. We decide to rest and partake of the local cider, well the dog needed to rest in order to breathe again. There was still no sign of the others. I pulled out the itinerary from my backpack. There was another leg of the walk to do! We decided that we were now running extremely late and the best thing to do would be to wait where we were until somebody called and came to pick us up. After all, at some point someone would realise that we hadn't collected our children and they would definitely send out a search party before having those two in their house for a night.

The phone rang pretty shortly after that, we would be picked up! It was a miracle! And better still we would be taken to the final meeting spot.... A pub! There we could pick up our children... Well, there's always a downside...

We arrived at the pub and the children were there playing with a few others in the pub garden. "you made it!" came the cry... I felt like Scott of the Antarctic rather than a couple of (slightly) overweight gay dads and their asthmatic dog. The children came running up to us "Daddy, Papa, we were worried." so sweet. "And I need a wee" said TJ. Oh well back to normality.

I turned to thank the professional nanny for her amazing job. "No need to thank me," she said, "They were as good as gold." Really? Then I noticed that she was visibly shaking and she was on her second bottle of wine. It was as I noticed this that there came a cry from the other side of the garden. Our eldest child had just poured lemonade over another child's head whilst our youngest was jumping from table to table collapsing the sun umbrellas over unsuspecting customers.

We were just about to leave when I had chance to catch up with our very good friend whose father had inspired this yearly walk. She had been chatting with KC about the reasons behind the walk and how much her own father had meant to her and how much she missed him. He held her hand and simply said, "family is very important isn't it?"

That's what we are...'a very important family.'

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Performance

I was going to leave this until the morning but thought I needed to record as much of tonight as possible whilst I still remembered it.

It began at around 5.30 when we took KC to the Golden Arches for his tea before he went to the theatre to begin his in depth warm up and focussing exercises prior to the big show at 7.30. The bad boys of Sheerness were already out by that time, playing their music loudly with their car windows open and the bass line throbbing. I turned the music up and wound the windows down on the family saloon. The bad boys looked in awe as we drove through their 'hood with 'Don't Rain on My Parade' blasting out.... It was the Glee version so we knew we were down with the kids. "Now that's truly 'radical' and 'out there'" I told the children. I'm not sure if they heard as Papa was singing in falsetto and they both seemed to have their hoods pulled over their heads. Obviously trying to mimic the hoodie behaviour of the bad boys of Sheerness.

Anyhow, the time soon came for the performance itself. The moment had arrived. The theatre was packed and without any air conditioning or indeed air vents of any kind the theatre was also infernally hot! Now I don't know if you have ever sat with a six year old in a hot theatre before, particularly a six year old who has his own, very different, take on the world but, as the man in front of us soon learned, it certainly isn't dull.

Whilst KC is born to be a performer ( believe me I know) TJ is born to be a critic. A very vocal critic. Thank goodness the impossibly cheerful drama teacher, who did seem a little testy this evening, had seen fit to put us at the back of the sweltering auditorium. As we took our seats the man from St John's ambulance came and sat in the empty corner seat beside us, he had heart defibrillators, oxygen, the works. They were obviously expecting it to be an exciting night of heart stopping action. I had already prepared myself and in the event of an emergency would be rushing up and down the aisles shouting 'Somebody do something, he's tachicardic!' I've seen that on Casualty so know its definitely authentic.

The opening number finishes to rapturous applause from the overly enthusiastic parents to which TJ shouts, 'Why are they clapping, that was rubbish!" I laughingly told him that at the theatre we clap after each performance to show the actors we like it. "After each one? He asked incredulously, "How many are there?". The man in front of me slipped his fist into his own mouth.

A young lady came on and bravely did a monologue about the trials of being a pregnant woman with heavy shopping. TJ said, quite loudly, "she's not really pregnant, she's faking it. You can see that's not a real baby in her!" and when she got a round of applause he retorted, "I don't know why they like it, she's a liar!" the man in front of me was now practically swallowing his arm as Papa and I tried to quieten our outspoken son.

KC made his appearance, a rather amazing robot followed by a scene stealing vampire. He was truly awesome and the fact he lifted her cape to look at the audience despite being killed with garlic was a minor glitch and anyway you could put it down to being a death twitch, in which case he was definitely in the moment. He waited until the audience applause and laughter died down before he delivered his last killer line, "I'll be back to get you. You meddling kids". A true pro!!!!!!

TJ enjoyed his brothers performance tremendously. KC delivered his final line and TJ said "Right, we've seen him can we go now?" this was obviously a sentiment shared by most of the parents as they all looked wistfully in his direction. At least I'm pretty sure that's what they were all thinking as I smiled back at everyone.

Two young ladies came on and had a fight on stage.... Don't worry it was part of the performance, not just a Saturday night in Sheerness. Well, TJ loved this, "that was really good." he cried as the girls left the stage and he regaled the audience with a blow by blow account of the entire fight scene whilst the next performer tried to perform a solo dance about her battle with annorexia, or something like that. By now I was dying of embarrassment and the man in font of me was biting the back of the chair in front of him. The audience broke into rapturous applause at the end of the young lady's tortuous routine and Tyler immediately admonished them. "Can you please stop that clapping, " he shouted at the audience, "It's giving me a headache!" It was at this point that Papa had moved a seat further down and was trying to pretend he was with the group of very blonde and amazingly tanned ladies next to him.

The finale came round, none too soon. TJ clapped long and hard and as the curtain went down he said, "That was brilliant, can we come again tomorrow?" I looked at him, "To be honest," I said, "I have a feeling we have possibly been barred from the theatre for life." TJ shrugged. As I say, they don't get sarcasm yet.....

Back to the Isle of Sheppey - Twice

Summer Holidays - Day 2

Today the sun is actually shining and it's really warm. To celebrate this fact we went back to the glorious (and fictitious) seaside resort of Seatown. Yes, the whole of Kent is bathed in near 30 degrees sunshine, all that is apart from this resort where it has been tipping down all morning.

We dropped KC off at the village hall for his rehearsal and got out of there as fast as we could. We went back to Tesco-on-Sea to do a bit of shopping and partake of their £4.25 8 item English breakfast. It was on the way there that I noticed the main road was called Hellview... Hmmm, apt. Then as we went into the Supermarket I noticed that the letter 'O' had fallen from their cheery greeting sign and simply read, yes, 'Hell'. It was as I was pondering this omen and deciding if it actually meant anything that the fire alarms went off. As we were being evacuated I was waiting to see if I would suddenly wake up and realise that I was actually living through a particularly bad episode of the Final Destination franchise. Well, they have done it all now, airports, roller coasters, a falling bridge, so why not Tesco's in Sheerness? As it happens it was a false alarm. What was really telling was the number of people who had to be prised away from their shopping trolleys in order to be evacuated from the possible inferno. They hadn't even paid for their shopping but it was obvious that losing their 'buy one get one free packet of toilet tissue (particularly good value) was far more important than saving their own lives. Also, once they had been evacuated, the loyal Tescomites, all stood around the doorway arching their necks to ensure that their trolleys were still safe in the now empty store. Had there been an explosion I don't think anyone would have survived. Well, apart from the staff who were all lining up in the car park for their manager's head count whilst sneaking a quick cigarette.

I turned to point this out to Papa but he wasn't there.... No he was arguing with a kitchen assistant about having to leave his breakfast in order to be evacuated. Before he left the store he had negotiated a new plate of hot food and two free coffees. Well, he is Singaporean. Once the deal was made and signed in triplicate he agreed to leave the store.

The manager gave the all clear and the crowd all raced back in pushing each other like an episode of 'supermarket sweep' in order to get back to their trolley before someone realised they had the last 'half price tub of finest coleslaw' (also very good value).

Papa duly finished his breakfast and I enjoyed my free latte before we went back to collect our son.

You may recall that last week we were informed that this week would see the Seatown Carnival and that the roads would be closed after twelve. We raced across the island and got there around 11.30. Just in time to see the residents getting into their fancy dress and putting together their floats. It actually looked like a lot of fun, everyone seemed to be going as gypsys or pirates.... Until we realised that they hadn't got their costumes on yet. When they had put their full regalia on it was obvious that they had, as a community, chosen to became members of the Flintstone family and suddenly the streets were full of people running around randomly shouting 'Yabba Dabba Doo.' Maybe it's a Seatown tradition? Anyway, I grabbed KC pushed him in the car and we sped off home.

We are back in Sheerness tonight for the big theatrical extravaganza that is KC's first public performance, we are all very nervous, especially me, I am expecting to retire and live off his earnings. I'll let you know how that goes....

Friday, 20 July 2012

Gardening Joy

Well, today you get a second post... lucky us I hear you cry!

My youngest and completely unspoilt son came running into the kitchen. "Daddy," he shouted, "Can you hoover the garden please. The long grass keeps making my football bounce in the wrong direction and I don't score." (He obviously will become an England player with remarks like that).
"Certainly, my little cherub." I replied, "Nothing would make me happier." Luckily children don't sense sarcasm but, to be honest, I was already contemplating opening a bottle of nicely chilled wine - so it kept me on the path of sobriety.

I duly mowed the lawn and in between TJ shouted advice on where I had 'missed a patch' or where 'he wanted it to be flatter because thats where his goal is'. As I lugged the trampoline from one side of the garden to the other Lea popped her head out of the door and said, "Don't put it there Daddy, that's in the sun and I will burn." (Why on earth did we pick a ginger kid??????) I smiled and moved it back...

TJ shouted at me as I was mowing the lawn but I couldn't hear him, he mimed peeling a banana. "Yes, you can have a banana." I shouted above the din. Next Lea popped her head out of the door and also mimed the peeling of a banana, "Yes, ok" I yelled. They both went back inside to watch TV while I finished off.

I came back in the house after putting the lawn mower and cable away to find biscuit crumbs all over the floor and an empty pack of digestives - a pack of digestives that had been a full new packet just twenty minutes before. "Who ate those?" I demanded. "We did." said Lea unmovingly, "You said we could.".
I looked at him sternly, "I said you could have a banana, you mimed peeling a banana at me!". Lea looked puzzled, "No, I mimed opening the biscuits," she said, "And you said it was ok."

I shall certainly be speaking to the impossibly cheerful drama teacher in the morning about my eldest child's miming abilities.

I decided to let it go and then turned around.... someone had walked doggy poo right across the kitchen floor. I reddened, "Who did this?" I said firmly. "You did." said TJ, "There's dog poo on your shoe." I looked down and he was right. I reddened in embarrassment this time. "Well, why didn't you tell me?" I scolded him. "I thought you knew," he said and off he toddled to play football on his newly even pitch.

Summer Holidays - Day 1

You may notice I have changed the titling format of my blog - we now have a countdown of the summer holidays. This is mainly so I can keep check of my own posts and monitor my sanity as it deteriorates throughout the long Summer break.

It reminds me of an occassion when TJ and I were queuing up at the local Tesco Express. As we were standing in line I looked to my right to see the conveniently placed wine chiller cabinet with lots of tempting offers. I quickly took a bottle and popped it in my basket. TJ looked at me and said, quite loudly, "On no, Daddy, not another bottle today." As it was not even lunchtime I was quite offended by this remark and not wanting to appear a complete lush in front of the ever extending queue said, "Don't be silly TJ this is for tonight". He looked at me disparagingly and said, "You said that yesterday." I must have looked a bit flustered as the lady behind me said, "Don't worry, it's the school holidays. We all drink more during the holidays." I was both relieved and perturbed by this remark. Can I not go a full day without resorting to alcohol to get me through? Would I have a full 6 weeks of this and would that make me an alcoholic and do irreperable damage to my liver? Even worse would I have to go on a detox at some point in the future? Just the thought of that makes me want to have a drink. Anyhow, I quickly paid my bill and we came home.

Today, to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season, Papa left the kids a present each on the kitchen table. For KC a Moshi Monster - I have no idea what the attraction is with those but he loves them and was genuinely happy to get it. For TJ... a bow and arrow!!!!!!! Why? Why would Papa do that? Does he hate our pets so much? For the record we have a dog and a cat. The cat is now the ripe old age of ten and simply wants to retire quietly on whoever's bed is available. The dog is still very lively - although she is a little overweight. Before I joined the gym everyone told me to get a dog - 'It's nature's natural exerciser' they said, 'get a dog and you wont need the gym, you'll be walking for miles.' I'm sure that's true in Oxfordshire or some other area of rural England. But in a city where it rains constantly and the nearest parks are full of crackheads, all that happened was that both the dog and I stayed in watching the TV and eating crisps. So now we are both overweight.

I recently went to the doctor for my forty plus health check up. After much weighing and measuring and chatting the lovely plump Mother Christmas type nurse turned to me and said triumphantly, "It's as I expected, you are a near obese alcoholic." I looked stunned, "But I have joined a gym." I said quietly. "Yes, but you need to actually go." said the fat old cow. You may have noticed how my opinion of her changed quite quickly. I think she had obviously been employed to lull people into a false sense of security and tell her the actual amounts that we drank, smoked, didn't exercise etc - rather than our usual method of telling them what they want to hear. Then she springs the awful truth upon you and the clinic probably gets more money from the government as you add to their clinically obese statistic. Or am I just being cynical?

Anyhow, I went into the garden with my youngest and we drew a big Robin Hood style target on an A Frame blackboard and set it up for him to do target practice with his bow and arrow. He loved it.... for ten minutes. Then it was far more fun playing cowboys and hunting the unsuspecting dog. I guess it's always more fun to go for a moving target - especially one that that can't bite back. Did I mention our dog has no front teeth? She had been ill treated as a puppy and had to have her teeth removed when we rescued her - this results in the rather comedic expression she has, as her tongue simply lolls out of her mouth and she looks a bit like a dog with additional needs. I raced out to rescue the poor dumb animal and TJ then turned his blood lust onto his brother  and proceeded to hunt him around the garden. I took the bow and arrow away and came in to make a well earned cup of tea. I had barely been in the house for thirty seconds when I heard a blood curdling scream from KC - TJ had now fashioned a spear out of a stick and was practising javelin throwing using his head as a target.

I completely blame Papa for awakening the hunter in TJ so I have had to resort in the best parenting tactic known to man - I turned on the TV. TJ is completely mesmerised. When Karl Marx referred to religion as being the opiate of the masses he obviously hadn't considered the dawn of television. It doesnt matter what is on that screen, TJ is drawn to it like a moth to a flame and will sit for hours in a soporific state - actually he quite resembles the dog as his tongue hangs out too.

Tonight we have our first family meeting where we all consider our week, what has made us happy, sad, angry etc? It was suggested by our therapist. How middle class do we sound... therapy, family meetings? I may have to pop out and buy the Guardian newspaper and a pair of Birkenstocks to complete the picture. I'll let you know how it goes....

Thursday, 19 July 2012

End of Term

Well, it's finally here - but the time seems to have flown. I can't believe we are at the end of another school year.

This morning I rushed off down the gym for my last session for six weeks - my trainer was there today, I havent seen her for a few days and I found out why. She had slipped while running on the treadmill and flew into the weight machine behind her damaging her back and the ligaments in her arm. Ouch... I stifled my grin as she regailed the gory details. Then she said the most amazing thing, "You," she paused dramatically, "have lost weight" - my inner goddess tumbled in joy as I realised that this sado masochistic skinny and stunningly beautiful woman was talking to me, I had already signed her contract agreeing to the pain she would inflict upon me using these hideous machines and now she was actually complimenting me without requiring me to reciprocate in any way... on my! .....(oh wait I seem to have channelled Fifty Shades of Something or other - not that I have ever read that book and I join in with all those literary types who trash it but secretly read it on the Kindle to find out what all the fuss is about... £3.03 on Kindle, bargain... I digress). No, she genuinely said that to me and I beamed at her. "Yes," she said, "I can see it in your face." and off she tottered to a stationary bicycle. Stationary bicycle, I can't even say that without thinking of a static caravan... whats the point of a static caravan, surely caravan implies travel and bicycle implies... well, bicycling??? Anyway, my gym is state of the art and the stationary bike has an inbuilt fan. Apparently its to keep you cool, but I use it to give the illusion of movement as it blows my hair behind me in a sensual manner... Oh wait that's Fifty Shades again. Anyhow, my point is that I do not slog it out at the gym in order to have a skinny face. I like my face as it is, its the rest of my body that seems to have taken on a life of its own. I turned the big 40 and suddenly when I sat on a beach I would find myself surrounded by Greenpeace types helpfully trying to push me back into the water whilst squirting me with a hose to keep my skin moist!

I had to take a phone call today from a Supply Teacher (I work supplying teachers to schools). She had taken umbridge that one of the schools where I placed her had called to complain that she wasn't quite what they had expected. I chatted, at great length, with the offending teacher regarding lesson plans, classroom management etc. We couldn't find any reason why the school would have said this.
"Not to worry," I told her, "I'll investigate it and get to the bottom of it all." I was just about to hang up when she suddenly said "You don't think it was because I was dressed as a clown that they complained do you?"
"I'm sorry," I replied, "You went to cover a day in a primary school working with a Year 4 group doing science dressed as a clown?"
"Yes," she replied, "I do amateur dramatics and sometimes I like to go in as a character, I find it helps break the ice and on that day I went in as Bobo the clown"
"So", I slowly said, "let me get this straight, did you call the school to see if this would be ok with them? Did you get changed in the school after checking they would like this? Did you check with anyone before you launched into your Bobo routine?"
"No," she replied, "I turned up in my full clown costume, bounced into the staffroom and shouted 'Hi there everyone, my names Bobo!'" she paused, "I guess they might not have liked that."
"My guess is that they didn't" I told her "I think from now on Bobo should stay firmly in the closet and could you please run any of your 'dramatic' ideas by me before you try them out on an unsuspecting school." We agreed that would be the best course of action.

After that strange phone call I went to collect the children from school. As I said yesterday, our kids all finished straight after lunch.

We had taken the teachers their presents and cards and we were about to leave when one of the teachers came rushing out, it was the teacher who had TJ for this year but had also had KC last year, so knew us when we first became a family. "I just wanted to give you a present," he said, "I'm leaving today but I wanted to keep in touch and stay updated with their progress." He then gave each child a beautiful picture book each and inside he had written "To a truly inspirational family, good luck on your journeys together". It was lovely. I welled up a bit. TJ quietly slipped his hand in mine and said, "Don't cry Daddy it's only a book....I wanted a DS". We shall have a chat about being grateful this evening.

We have just had tea in the garden - how very British. Sandwiches and those tubes of yogurt. TJ squeezed his tube and it bursts. Sending yogurt everywhere... mainly in my direction. The kids were stunned and there was that incredible silence where they are not sure if I am going to be angry or laugh. Then KC looked at me and started to giggle. Then TJ laughed and I did too... I was covered, I looked like I had developed some strange skin condition. Its taken me twenty minutes to get it out of my hair, but it was worth it to see the boys laughing so much! Mind you it will probably smell later.

Off to drama now, KC has an evening class - his big production is on Saturday and we are all very excited!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Battle of Wills

I am sure most people with children go through this all of the time and to be honest I have dealt with a few issues but tonight was off the scale.... I blame the 'end of term party' that left me with two overly hyper sugar filled kids.... We are now on the 'downer' effect of the day.

Tea time and TJ demands that I let him eat his sandwiches in front of the TV. "not today," I tell him, "We only do that for a weekend treat." however, I let him watch to the end of the show and then turned the TV off... Pandemonium ensued. A tantrum like you have never seen. I've thrown a few in my time but this beat any one of my tiara moments (as we fondly call them). I sent him to his room to continue with his tantrum in private and now, half an hour later, he is still at it. Obviously I have now turned off the TV for the night much to his increased anguish.

I then serve Lea her sandwiches, cucumber with the crusts cut off, maybe she is a little too demanding as well. She asked for an orange squash and I gave it to her. "Where's my straw?" she demanded. I am now taking deep breaths to stay calm. "we only have straws for a treat." I tell her. So in a fit of instant rage she throws the entire cup across the table. I think Lea now believes I have some kind of teleport device as she was in her room before he even had time to blink.

I then seemed to channel my own Mother as I found myself shouting up the stairs to two crying kids in two separate rooms "If you two don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about." I'm not even sure I know what that means but it seemed to fit the occasion.

I have just cleaned up the sticky mess and have been trying to rescue my gorgeous silk table runner bought as a wedding gift in Singapore....

I will take the kids their meals to their rooms and then I guess it's an early night for all. I know Papa loves to come home to a quiet house, but I am not sure if that includes the undercurrent of sheer annoyance he will get tonight....

Poor Papa...... At least I didn't tell them to 'wait till your Papa gets home' mainly because he hates it when I use him as a threat and secondly because when I do use him as a threat he just shrugs and doesn't do anything about it - which only annoys me even more!

Roll on the summer holidays!

End of Term Party Day.... Woo Hoo...

July 18

Today the children rushed off to school with eager smiles on their eager little faces. Today they will be having their class end of term parties. Fantastic. Straight after a school lunch my little darlings will be force fed cakes, sweets and mini sausages all washed down with cheap orange squash until they are bouncing off the ceilings - at which point it will be time for me to collect them from school. I may take the dogs lead and let them run home behind the car.

Except that, as I learned this morning, very often the fairy cakes and mini sausages I lovingly prepared for them - well, purchased for them - do not actually make it to the party table for all to share. No, apparently, during the morning break my two little imps nip behind a bush and consume all the goodies in their schoolbags by themselves. I found this out when I told KC that I had put a double pack (buy one get one free) of mini sausages in his bag and his reply was "Not sausages again Daddy, I ate so many last time I felt sick."
"They were to share with your class," I replied.
"I didn't want to do that." he said, "I dont like most of them anyway."
Great. I am raising Mussolini.

TJ seemed very pleased with his bumper pack of Fairy Cakes with smarties on. I soon realised that his intentions were not entirely honourable either. "I will call school to make sure that your teachers get both sausages and fairy cakes" I said. They looked suitable crest fallen. Hopefully, the food parcels will get through to the starving children.

Mind you, I did some volunteer work at the school last week and what did I spy in the teacher's lounge? - piles of pre-wrapped cakes and biscuits. "We keep the better ones the parents send in for ourselves." I was reliably informed and indeed all the major brands were represented and Waitrose made a particularly good showing. Well, I certainly feel less guilty for sending in Aldi pre-wrapped sponge fingers, at least I know the kids will get them!

The children finish for the six week 'break from hell' tomorrow at 1.15 - just after lunch. I assume the teachers are all in the pub by 1.20. The reason for this early break is because on Friday it is staff training day - why they couldn't keep the kids until the end of the day on Thursday escapes me - I wouldn't even mind if the teachers decided to take the kids with them to the pub. I have discovered that being a parent brings out the worst side of me, the part that will beg anyone to keep my kids in school for just twenty minutes longer. It reminds me of being a child and begging my parents to let me stay up and watch 'just this last commercial, just this one... please....'. 

I don't mind staff training but our school has a 'training day' at the end of every term and another one at the beginning of every term - so whilst everyone elses little darlings return to school we get an extra day of 'quality time' with ours. I am honoured that my children attend a school with the best trained staff in the country.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Yesterday we lost all power. The entire street was plunged into darkness around 3am and the lights ween't back on again until 10pm. How am I so sure of the timings? Well, our youngest, TJ, came up to tell us his nightlight had broken at precisely 3.05 and allowing the 5 mins for him to try every light switch and electronic device on the way to our room I deduced that it must have gone off at 3am. Again, we didn't discover that he had tried every power source within a six year olds reach until the power came back and my house lit up like a Christmas tree. I knew the lights came back on at 10pm as that was when the American series that we are addicted to came on at precisely that time.

This had a few ramifications during the day. On being told that there was a major power cut over breakfast KC simply looked at me and said, 'that's ok, we can just watch TV.' I had to explain to him that no power meant no TV. He looked stunned and then fell to his knees in a complete parody of 'Planet of The Apes' screaming 'Noooooooooo.... Why?.. Why are you doing this to me?' I went to comfort him but he skulked under the dining table and sat there silently plotting his vengeance on 'the man who cut the power.'

The kids went to school as normal, I had to go to the gym, to shower, I hasten to add, not for any actual sweat. I joined the gym last year. It was a birthday present from Papa. It was given to me with the loving retort, "and I want to see results!" ...charming. I returned home after my 'induction' and proudly looked at my other half and informed him that the gym I had chosen had a bar which, as I pointed out, was a bloody good result!

I digress. After showering I came home to find that I was practically living in 1953. I had no hot water, no internet, no radio, nothing... I comforted myself with a bottle of wine and a book.

The kids came home from school. Now I really needed more wine. No tv, raining outside, none of the usual electronic gadgets and once I had reeled off the facts that we couldn't play the wii, the Xbox or watch a DVD I was told that playing a board game was boring, reading a book was boring and colouring in was, yes, boring. What was not perceived as boring though was tearing around the house screaming at the top of their lungs for three hours.... I spent the rest of the afternoon considering the better boarding schools.

Then to cap it all Papa came home from work, for dinner we ate all the food that was going off in the fridge. Fish, pork pies and prawn curry followed by a lukewarm cheesecake. I needed to finish the opened bottle of wine - it would only have gone off was my reasoning.

We sat eating in candlelight, it was all very romantic. Then Papa said 'right, time to watch Revenge'. For those not in the know Revenge is an awesomely trashy American show which we both love. 'We can't dear,' I told him in the same tone I had used for KC in the morning, 'There's no power.'

Papa looked triumphant, 'We can watch it on the iPad ' he said. I looked at him. 'No power, means no Internet, no Internet means no wifi, no wifi means no 'Revenge'. Papa's turn to look stunned, 'Noooooooooo.....' he cried. Well at least now I know where KC gets his overly dramatic tendencies from.

It was soon after that the power came back and we settled down to watch our gloriously trashy tv.

july 17


"When's the new baby ready?" KC asked over breakfast this morning. I nearly spat my Curiously Cinnamon out across the table. "What baby?" I asked.
"I think we need a new baby and it needs to be made." he said. "oh and we need a new puppy too and someone has to make that as well."
I looked across at him. He is nearly 8 and I think we are going to have to have that 'talk' already. So I popped out and bought a copy of "Let's Talk About Where Babies Come From." lots of child friendly cartoons showing the basics of heterosexual intercourse. I showed Papa and he fainted. God knows how KC will react.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Spoilt brats!

I am always questioning whether or not we spoil our kids. As adoptive parents I think we are acutely aware of over indulging our children. The fear is that if you don't give them what they want then they won't like you. Likewise, you worry that if you do give them everything then they only like you because of the things you give them, cupboard love my Mum calls It. I don't know the answer but sometimes when the kids say certain things I do worry.

For instance when we took the kids back to Singapore for Chinese New Year to meet their Grandparents we decided to rent out a serviced apartment for the fortnight, just in case they needed somewhere to go back to if it all got too much. Papa organised a beautiful penthouse apartment overlooking Orchard Road. The kids were completely non-plussed. We showed them around the facilities and.... Nothing... Not even a smile. I thought perhaps they were jet lagged when suddenly from the bathroom I heard KC cry, 'TJ come in here, you have to look at this!'. TJ rushed in and I followed to hear KC say, 'look, they fold the end of the toilet paper into a triangle!'. 'Wow! That is really cool!' TJ exclaimed.... Well, they do say the little things in life amuse us most and both the children are still little enough to amuse.

Then this morning KC went upstairs to get dressed. There was a sudden cry! 'Daddy!' he shouted, 'you didn't get my clothes ready.' 'That's ok,' I replied, 'just wear what you had on yesterday. It's Sunday and you're not going anywhere.'
'What about my socks and pants?' he shouted.
'You know where the drawer is don't you?' I yelled back, 'just get them yourself.'
A little later he came downstairs suitably attired. 'There, that wasn't so hard was it?' I said.
'No,' he replied 'but normally you get everything ready for me and lay it on my bed.'
I sat down unaware that I was obviously on the set of Downton Abbey and raising future royalty. I turned to tell Papa of my thoughts but he was too busy removing mushrooms from TJ's omellette, apparently he didn't 'order mushrooms' and was offended by their presence!

I have no idea what lunch will bring, but one thing is certain, we are never lost for words in our house!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

M & S cafe

We were at M and S grabbing a quick snack in their cafe when an elderly lady passes us and says to TJ, 'Hello there, do you like your biscuit?'
TJ looks at her like something he has just scraped from the bottom of his shoe. Upon not getting a reply the old lady simply shrugs and moves on.
'TJ,' I said, 'That was really rude of you. Why didn't you answer that nice lady?'
'She works in my school,'  he replies, 'she's a dinner lady.'
'Then you should have at least said hello,' I told him.
'Why should I?' he replies, 'All she ever does is tell me to stop talking while I am eating. Well, I am eating now so I am definitely not talking to her... She was trying to trick me so she could tell me off.'

Trip to the Isle of Sheppey

Today KC had a drama rehearsal for next week's 'extravaganza' on the Isle of Sheppey... To be precise in a little tourist spot known as... Erm... for the sake of the many nice people who I am sure live there and my own safety from the more dodgy characters we met, let's call it 'Seatown'.... We dropped him off at the village hall with the overly enthusiastic drama teacher telling us to 'go explore... Have fun... It's a holiday!'

I don't know if you have ever been to this small (and obviously 'fictitious') English resort on the north Kent coast, I'm sure some people love it and return yearly... These are the same people whose idea of fun is root canal surgery or flying Ryan Air. This place defies belief... I seriously thought we had were back in 1973, which is probably when Seatown was in its heyday!

Don't get me wrong I am from the north west of England and grew up in Blackpool, Lytham-St Anne's and Morecambe so I do appreciate that seaside resorts are struggling. But this one had lost the will to live many years ago and was simply on life support. 'I am not getting out of the car.' Papa said, 'I don't know if you've noticed but there is not a single chinese or black person here, just lots of people who are big and bald with lots of tattoos.... And that's just the women!'
'Don't be silly' I replied, 'we can just stop and have a coffee while Lea does her class'.

We looked for a place to park.... I wasn't leaving the car there, or there, or there. We drove up to the end of the 'strip' saw the sea and turned around. I pulled over at a little 'cafe'... Full English breakfast served all day... Includes a can of Stella! I kid you not! We didn't stop for long. It started to bucket it down and TJ piped up from the back (where he had been surprisingly silent) and in a little voice said, 'Daddy can we go now? I don't like it here.' 'why not?' I asked, foolishly assuming that all 6 year olds would be in awe of the sea front. 'I've seen the sea before and i don't need to see it here... It's boring' 'boring' is TJs default word that he uses when he is uncomfortable about anything.

'Ok' I said, 'lets go'. My attempt to introduce both papa and TJ to the joys of 1970's seaside England was obviously not going down well. So we went to nearby Sheerness (a real place which has many fine qualitites) and a lovely Tesco by the sea.

We returned to pick KC up from rehearsal a couple of hours later. As I collected heimthe teacher said in an impossibly cheery tone, 'don't forget next week we begin at 9am!'
'That's early' I said.
'Well' she replied ' next week is Seatown carnival and they will close the road off at 12. Besides we don't want anyone to miss out on the carnival fun!'

Friday, 13 July 2012


It seemed inevitable that eventually I would succumb to recording our exploits as a 'slightly' functional yet dysfunctional family. My hits on Facebook were getting to a point that people were logging on to see exactly what we had been up to - so it was suggested I write a blog. Before today I had no idea what a blog was but now I am in here and online and I am quite excited by it all.

I should first explain that my partner and I have adopted two small children - they came to us last year aged 5 and 6 with a slightly skewed idea of the world. They had been neglected and abused by those who should have cared for them and when they were first 'placed' with us it really did feel as though we had two little strangers sitting in our front room. Two strangers to whom we were now related - hence the 'witty' title of my blog.

I guess this will take on the form of a diary of our lives together - but mostly it is about the children and  the things that happen to us as we take our wobbly steps to create a family. There are sometimes slight deviations, such as my 88 year old Nan and her obsession with sexual references in books or our parents and their views on adoption, the boys and mixed race marriages. My partner is Chinese Singaporean and I am boringly British but there you go. Our kids are both British, their lives have been anything but boring, just not in a good way. For the sake of this blog they will be The Sprog (aged 7) and TJ (aged 6). There will be more about myself and my partner later - probably when I have nothing else to write...

So we may as well start where we begin... today. (well, yesterday to be precise....)

July 12th

I took the children to Sainsburys for pre drama dinner (Sprog attends Drama Club every Thursday). The old lady on the table next to ours leaned over and said, 'I must congratulate you on your children's table manners. It's so lovely to see children eating properly and behaving at the table.'
I beamed with pride but no sooner had she spoken when my youngest, TJ, gave his juice box a big squeeze and a stream of bright orange (taste the difference natural juice, naturally) flew across the divide and hit the old lady full in the face. As she sat shell shocked Sprog howled with laughter and knocked the plate of sausage and beans onto his lap..... We quickly left.....

Onto today....

July 13th

Friday July 13th - something is bound to happen. Sprog had his end of term play and on the way he decided to have a full on fight with her little brother in the back of the car. Lovely Daddy (me) quickly became monster Daddy (not me) and ended up screaming at the kids to 'stop it!' (I always promise I will never do again this every time I do it). Both kids skulked into school. Then 20 minutes later the sprog is on stage belting out Gary Barlow's Diamond Jubilee monstrousity 'Sing' in a key not yet discovered by mankind and I am blubbing like a baby thinking how gorgeous he is and how guilty I am for ever shouting at this little ginger angel with buck teeth and huge ears. I am waiting to find out how they went and what TJ got up to today...

Previous Comments from the Facebook 'back-catalogue'

I decided to add in a few of my personal favourite 'incidents involving the family here - then we are all up to date.... Hopefully...

On Gardening...

So I asked the kids to help me by tidying up the rubbish in the garden. I came out a few minutes later and the garden was spotless, no more broken toys or sweet wrappers. 'well done!' I said, 'did you put everything in the recycle bin?'
'no they did not!' came our neighbour Bob's voice from over the fence, 'they just threw it all into my garden' .... Sigh....

On sport...

TJ has told us he no longer likes playing football with his friends.... Apparently those on the other team stop him from scoring goals by blocking him and the goalkeeper kept saving them so he didn't score.... They did this 'deliberately' which he feels is very unfair.

Father's Day

Fathers day and TJ is grumpy... 'why?' I asked. 'because I didn't get any presents' he said. 'But today is for fathers' I said. 'yes' came the reply, 'but without me you wouldn't be a father so I should get a present too.' .... I think I might get him something just for presenting his argument so well!

On Shopping... (these things happen a lot)

Just back from M and S where TJ has shown everyone that he is 'the world's best backwards walker' by walking backwards into a shelf full of wine... Helpfully pushed by Sprog!!!!! Cue an irate Dad, crying TJ, embarrassed shoppers and one very confused trainee assistant.... Such fun!

A lovely Moment

Just got back from the children's harvest festival... TJs class drew pictures to show what they were thankful to god for. Lots of pics of pets, nintendo ds's etc. TJ stood up with a picture of Papa, Daddy and The Sprog and simply said 'I thank god for finding my family' ... I was in tears, his teachers were crying... Makes all the difficulties worthwhile.