Friday, 23 August 2013

Sugar Puff Wars....

After yesterday's whinge today it was all back to normal in our household...

But thank you everyone who wrote or commented about yesterday's 'feeling sorry for myself' post. It was lovely to hear from so many people who both understood and supported me. The summer holidays are just too long for little ones. I know that teenagers probably need the break but for primary school kids a month is about all most of them can manage. I'm not saying we should remove the holidays - just spread them out more evenly over the year - maybe fortnight long half terms in June and October - I remember in my primary school we did just that - we had two weeks in June when most of the factories in the area took the long Whit break. Of course the factories aren't there anymore but we loved it. We lost a week in the summer but it didn't really matter as school was always more fun in the summer months when  we could play out during lunch etc.

Just a thought...

Anyway, as I say it was back to normal this morning.... I ended up having a battle with the kids - over Sugar Puffs!

Let me explain...

At the end of each month and to help with the ever increasing shopping budget, we eat everything that's in the freezer and larder - we make interesting recipes and mixtures - and its great fun, if a little unorthodox, bacon with philidephia cheese on toast was yesterday's lunch.

However, last week I gave in to 'pester power' at the supermarket and instead of the usual Weetabix cereal I agree that the kids could have Sugar Puffs. This was going to be the best cereal ever, they were going to eat it all every day, they loved it... you get the picture. So I gave in and the box was popped into the trolley.

I have to admit there was a bit of nostalgia involved as well, when I was a youngster my Mum often let me have Sugar Puffs (Its all about the honey, Mummy) as a treat. If I recall they were quite expensive at the time. So I was quite looking forward to seeing the kids tucking into one of my childhood favourites...

The next morning they had a bowl each... and decided they hated Sugar Puffs and the box was put back into the cupboard.

So this morning I pulled the box out (its only been open for the week and the boys had eaten everything else) and told the boys that we would have to eat them as it was eat the larder week.

They were furious. Sprog sulked and TJ cried and I got cross and immediately channelled my mother, "There are children in the world with nothing - how dare you complain about my giving you perfectly good food that you wanted me to buy!" My mother was then joined by my Grandmother - "If you don't eat that breakfast then it will still be there for lunch and supper!"Channelling two angry women is a bit draining....

"You wouldn't do that," Sprog said. "Try me!" I replied. TJ looked shocked and immediately started to eat... Sprog refused and sat there staring at me... I am beginning to see the teenager already...

So I decided that I would join them in the breakfast debacle and prove just how delicious Sugar Puffs are and how silly the kids were being....

I then made a discovery...

Sugar Puffs are disgusting!

Now I'm going to sound like one of those boring people who goes on about how everything was better in the 70's... It wasn't, I remember the drought and standing in line with buckets to fill the bath, I remember the bin strike and sitting in a car stuffed with bin bags and flies as we took or own rubbish to the tip and sat in a queue outside, I also remember the bread strike and having to eat my Mum's homemade bread - which was awful!!!!!!

But Sugar Puffs? They were a deliciously unhealthy breakfast cereal with so much sugar and honey that they turned the milk a funny orange colour and stuck in your teeth for days.... This muck I put in front of my kids was dreadful, I think the cardboard box they came in had more flavour...

But I had laid the gauntlet down. So I duly ate the mushy creral and made all the right noises as I did so.

TJ watched and then ate all his. Lea still refused - she accused me of pretending!!!!! So I have now sent them to sports club and as Lea left she noticed her bowl was still on the table... "That will be there for your dinner!" I promised.... (it won't - even I'm not that harsh)

Lea scowled... I smiled... they left and I put the bowl on the floor...

Oh well, the dog liked it...

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Holiday Whinge....

Today is probably going to sound a bit like a whinge post...

I'm not going to apologise - I just need to moan to someone... so it might as well be you.

Last night I had a lovely conversation with my mum which finished with her asking me if I was happy. I was a little taken aback. "Well," she said, "your Nan is convinced that you aren't very happy at the moment and now I'm worried too."

Up until that point I had been fine - or I thought I had. Now I was worried that I might actually be unhappy but just not know about it.

I don't know what had brought this epiphany on, particularly as I had just spent the past two weeks in the company of my mum - one week she came to us and then the kids and I went to hers for a week, so I would have thought that if anyone would have noticed my latent misery it would have been her.

If I am unhappy its because I do feel we have wasted so much of this summer break.

I look at pictures of friends and their families enjoying their summer holiday - either here or overseas and realise that we have barely seen Papa in the past month. Firstly he was in India and then Singapore. Then he came home for a few days before he jetted off to New York, then when he came home we went to see Mum, so he could look after the pets and currently he is in Africa whilst I have put the boys into holiday clubs because I need to finish editing the book before my deadline of Sept 1 and, lets be honest, we are all three sick of the sight of each other. TJ is desparate to get back to school and see his friends and Lea just wants to find out what her new school will be like. Both kids hate me for making them do their times tables, reading and music practise - but I just need them to catch up with their peers. Of course they don't see it like that.

I know we usually take our main holiday in February for Chinese New Year in Singapore - but this year that may not happen as the tenants who live in our old house have decided it would be much more fun to go on holiday with their kids than pay the last two months rent... so even that's been taken away from us.

I have forgotten what its like to go with Papa and the kids and sit on a beach for a week and do nothing except play and eat! Which is what family holidays should be about in my opinion...

Mum compares it to when she was a young Mum and my Dad was in the RAF and used to disappear for long periods of time... I'm surprised she wasnt a raging alcoholic - or maybe she was just good at hiding it. Mind you, she also pointed out that he very rarely went away over the holidays...

But its also not had a good effect on the kids - they really miss their Papa - TJ in particular and I think that I am carrying a lot of their sadness at his not being here.

Yesterday, Papa called me from Johannesburg, he final destination on his Africa sojourn - he's not having a good time either. He's pretty unwell, but won't see a doctor. So I got cross with him and he then said that he had called for some sympathy not to be told off. As I pointed out I had only just put the kids to bed - TJ was playing up and refusing to sleep prefering to jump as high as he could on his bed as soon as I walked out of the room and by now it was 9.30 and I was missing Midsomer Murders...

He was complaining about the internet connection overseas and how he couldn't get stuff done that was needed in England and how his tummy was hurting and he was having chest pains and yet when I told him to see the doctor I had my head bitten off... sigh...

So I told him I thought the kids needed a break and his reply was 'they're on holiday aren't they'... but somehow being stuck in a house with me for two more weeks doesn't have much of a 'holiday' feel about it...

So after all that... no Nan, now I'm not happy at all...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Positive TV....

There seems to have been a spate of positive gay couples on reality TV this week - particularly on kids tv.

I don't normally let the kids watch TV in the morning, not because I think it is too bad but simply because the minute it is turned on then it is very hard to pull the Sprog away and get him to do anything else.

I suppose that is mainly due to his early birth experiences, as a child he was locked in a room often with just the TV and TJ for company - either that or he was placed in front of the set whilst the 'grown ups' did their 'stuff' (I have a feeling that watching TV was a lot more about finding comfort and soothing away the 'bad things' - As I have said before the Sprog has an ability to 'replay' his favourite TV shows and movies in his head. Originally this was to protect him from the 'bad things' but unfortunately it now gets in the way of her everyday learning as if he can't understand anything that's going on he simply shuts down and 'watches TV in his head'. It took us a long time to work that one out.... And as my mother pointed out - they experiences they have in early childhood are often very hard to break. Something that Sprog's therapist also confirmed this morning.

Anyway, this week I agreed to let the kids watch some TV in the morning - whilst I sorted my own stuff out. We don't have Sky or cable so they are limited to the three 'free to air' children's channels - they see this as some form of child abuse but as I pointed out to them when I was young children's TV only ran from 3 till 5.30 and on Saturday mornings - they thought that was positivily stone age. Even in the summer holidays we only had TV for a short while - mainly 'Why Don't You' and re-runs of Scooby Doo. I don' know how my Mum coped - although she says she simply opened the front door and pushed us outside - whether we wanted to go or not!

So the kids sat down in front of CBBC and began to watch a show called 'Marrying Mum and Dad" - the premise being that the children in the house get to organise their parents wedding (although in my day most people got married before they had the kids - I seem to have turned into my mother again....) Anyway, the show is quite sweet and the children obviously enjoy it. My two hadn't seen it before and on this day the episode was about three kids orgnising a 'spy themed' wedding for their two Dads. Which was great.... Sprog in particular loved it. By the end of the programme he was offering to organise a wedding for Papa and I. 'But we are already married," I told her. "No you're not," came the reply, "You can't be because David Cameron only said you could last month!"

I was about to explain that we had a civil partnership but to be honest I was amazed that he knew who David Cameron was but also that she had actually listened to the news - its amazing what they take in.

I gave in, "Ok," I said, "If we get married properly then you can organise it."

The Sprog was so pleased. He then stopped and said, "Right, I have to learn to write now so I can write a letter to the programme." Wow! another motivation to help our dyslexic child... I think.

Then last night on the Great British Bake Off (my favourite show) Sprog walked into the room just as they were introducing one of the male contestants and his husband... He watched and then said, "I wonder what sort of wedding they had?" He then added mysteriously, "But it won't be as good as the one I am going to do for you and Papa!"

As the Sprog is obsessed with animals and snakes I have a horrible feeling it might take place in the reptile house at London Zoo....

My cousin is a wedding planner - I may be sending Sprog off for some work experience!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


I am loving the title today.... Although it's not quite as dramatic as it sounds.

Yesterday we took the long drive  to bring Granny home and also to stay for a few days and spend time with both her and my now 90 year old Nan.

As we were coming up in two cars we arranged to meet at a motorway service station at around the half way point. I had TJ in my car so knew that a toilet trip (or two) maybe required so we went first, just in case.

The car is so much quieter with just one child....

We eventually pulled in at the service station and, as its still summer holidays, it was packed. I took TJ to the toilet while Granny queued for their burgers (fast food is allowed on motorway journeys, which actually means they look forward to the trip as its the only time I let them eat such rubbish!)

TJ didn't even bother to rate this toilet... It was truly horrid. However, whilst we were there a couple of chaps came in, one who had obvious additional needs and the other I assume was his carer. The first man thought the toilets were great fun and skipped and ran up and down them like a child, pressing the taps and having a great time.

TJ was transfixed and was about to follow his new found playmate and create mayhem. I got him to wash his hands and told him to hurry up as Granny was waiting. The promise of an overlooked meat patty sandwiched in a chemically processed bap was far more enticing and we left. As we did so I noticed another Dad standing in the doorway,  preventing his children from going in and watching the first man who was now being calmed by his carer, in much the same way as I had with TJ. He was telling his children to wait until the other men had left.

TJ noticed too and said, quite loudly, "is that Dad worried that man still kidnap his children?"the man glared at him and I hurried TJ on with a nervous smile, he carried on, "why weren't you worried? Didn't you think he might kidnap me as well?"

"No one is kidnapping anyone." I said firmly and moved on.

"That's true,' said TJ, "besides you said if anyone ever kidnapped me they would soon bring me back!"
I have to be careful when I joke with Papa as TJ hears everything!

Friday, 9 August 2013


We have Granny staying with us this week and for a treat she suggested that we take the kids to Chessington World of Adventures, a theme park on the other side of London.

I was a little nervous about the drive - especially after our experience at the weekend but decided that we would leave early and just take the risk!

So off we went.

As it was we needn't have worried - the motorways were completely clear and we made it there within an hour.

There was a queue at the theme park - but it wasnt horrendous and we were surprised at how relatively quiet the park was - the staff were all saying it was one of the quietest days they had seen this summer. I think people had gotten wind of our arrival and were obviously staying away.

The kids were excited - they were going to go on all the big rides and we raced in - they wanted to go to the Kobra first - I was worried TJ would be too small to go on a lot of the rides and he was but luckily as soon as he saw the roller coaster he decided it wasn't for him and he would rather go on the dodgem cars (or crazy Tuk Tuks - it was Wild Asia) instead. Granny said she would take Lea on the coaster - except she took one look at it and refused to go near it - apparently it wasn't the sort of roller coaster that she liked. But Granny and I wanted to do it - but couldn't leave the kids by themselves... and we weren't going to do it individually which would have taken hours of queuing!

That was pretty much the theme (did you see what I did there?) for the rest of the day... We would race to do a big ride and both kids would chicken out and we would do a small ride instead - which was actually the one they wanted to do... apparently.

Then we all agreed to go on the Mummy ride - a slow ride through a Mummy themed cavern where you zap baddies with lasers. The kids were excited and Lea was regaling TJ with stories of the zombies we would meet inside and the mummies that would attack us. Of course by the time we got to the front of the queue TJ was in floods of tears and screaming that he wanted to go home, he wanted to go to the toilet, he wanted to leave - anything except do the ride.

Great. I'm afraid after trying to calm him down and getting increasingly cross with Lea who kept reminding him about the killer death zombies inside - I pointed to a lady who was getting off with a toddler and said, 'Look at them - he's a baby and he's not crying!" I then added, "And we are not leaving now - not after queuing for nearly half an hour!" TJ thought about this and then said, "That man will stop the ride if I get too scared wont he?" I looked at the bemused, spotty teenager who was operating the ride - probably on his summer break from university. "Yes," I lied, "that's exactly what he will do - now just get in!"

Of course, TJ loved the ride and bounced out at the end talking about the mummies he had hit... He even turned to me and said, "That wasn't that bad..."

I wanted to kill him!

The next day I got up to find both kids pouring over the map of the park discussing the 'fright' merits of each ride and deciding that they were now brave enough to do all the rides at Chessington - so could we go again today... I told them to wait until Papa came home from New York and they could ask him to take them!

'Yay!' - they screamed, until TJ suddenly looked at me and said, "But Papa doesn't drive so how will we get there?"

I just looked back and grinned!

Papa is in for a treat when he gets back!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

90th Birthday Shenanigans...

This weekend saw the celebrations of my Nanny's 90 years on this earth. Wow!

It was to be a fabulous weekend with a lovely lunch for family and friends on the Saturday after which my sister and her new husband were to join ourselves and my Mum for dinner and an overnight stay at a lovely hotel in the Cotswolds, near to the school where my aunt had organised the party.

It promised to be a lovely day.

We set off just after 9am, after I had checked if it was to be a formal affair (no it wasn't) and if we had locked all the doors and windows.. We did this twice as I had a sudden worry that the messages we had received from our local police lady were all true and we would be robbed whilst we were away, we were leaving the cat overnight, but as terrifying guard cats go he doesn't really hit the mark.

So off we set on a journey that was similar in length to the one we took with Papa's sister and her son to the Fat Duck. Again I knew it would be at least three hours and lunch was to be at 12.30... So off we went.

Except that once we hit the fabulousness that is the motorway on a Saturday we didn't go anywhere.... We didn't go anywhere for over three hours... I called my mum to let her know we wouldn't arrive before 2. To which I received the reply, 'Well, lunch is at 12.30 and if you are not here then you won't get any!' Papa said we should go home....he likes his food....

We eventually arrived at this very posh prep school in the Cotswolds. There we saw all my relatives, and talked about the journey... The kids didn't want food, they were just glad to be out of the car after nearly 6 hours and raced around with their cousins and the children of my cousins...

I got to eat a lovely curry. My Nanny was brought up in India and what she doesn't know about curry isn't worth knowing.

It was lovely. A fantastic day.

Then we said our goodbyes and headed for the hotel

The hotel was ok. A little dated but comfortable nod we had the main four poster bed room,  with two camp beds for the children, they loved that. The Hotel also had a fine dining restaurant so we booked a table.

All was fine until my sisters steak arrived. She had ordered it medium rare and yet when it arrived it was obviously well done. She told the waiter who told her he would sort it out. 

He came back a minute later with her plate and told her that the chef had said that this steak was medium rare and wanted to know what she was complaining about. (seriously the waiter was arguing with my sister about her steak). My sister went into a long chat letting him know that she knew how she liked her steak and this was not it! 

The waiter took the steak back and agreed to cook her a new one, this time free of charge.... Which my sister appreciated, although she didn't appreciate having to defend her decision to send back food she was paying for.... And it wasn't cheap.

Still, that was the only glitch and we were joined by uncles and aunts for drinks in the bar that went well into the evening.

Next morning we had a hearty breakfast and a stroll in the rain before heading back on the motorway through the traffic nightmare that is a Sunday.... Although this time it only took us 5 hours to get home!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A Break from the Summer Break...

Today I decided I needed a break from the kids - and to be fair they probably needed a break from me too.

One of the problems with having friends to stay for a period of time is that once they have gone things suddenly seem very quiet and dull. So I agreed that the children could go to the school sports camp on Thursdays and Fridays each week.

We are so lucky that the school offers this service and at a reasonable rate - it really is a god send during the summer months.

Anyway, getting them out of bed this morning was no problem - they were up and ready to go by 7.30 - even though they weren't due in till around 9am. So I gave in and put the TV on for them whilst I went and got a shower.

We were then ready to leave - except now the kids were both glued to the TV and neither of them wanted to go anymore. So my original plan looked set to go out of the window. I thought about the day ahead - another hot day with two whinging kids and the TV on in the background... No!!!!!!!!!!

I put my foot down and turned off the TV - which elicited much despair from the children. They were not going anywhere - they hated sports - did I hate them - is that why I wanted to get rid of them? I had to think about that question for a minute...

Then we couldn't find our trainers or our baseball caps - apparently, they had been tidied away in our tidying frenzy last week and now we were running late... Then I had to apply the sunscreen - they loved that!!!!!!!

We eventually got out of the house, dragging a dog behind us. She obviously wanted to stay at home as well...

So we got to school a little later than planned and the two of them raced in laughing as they saw loads of their friends. As he left TJ turned to me and said, "Daddy, you look tired and sweaty - I think you should go home and have a shower!'

I smiled at him - thats exactly what I was going to do - to go home and enjoy the peace and quiet and maybe write a little except....

I had three loads of washing to do (apparently it will rain tomorrow), beds to change, a house that looked like it had been hit by a tornado as the children's rooms had been turned upside down in the hunt for hats. The kitchen was filthy and the dishwasher needed emptying and re-stacking and the bathrooms were disgusting!

At 11 I finally sat down with a coffee and decided to write the blog....

The day hasn't even started yet and I'm exhausted - at least the kids aren't back till 5!