Thursday, 27 September 2012

Birthday... And a break...

Tomorrow is my birthday. And we are in the midst of moving house... Crazy!

Today, our packer arrived. A big burly man named Bill. We called him Bill the bear.... He came alone. But, to be fair to Bill, he packed up the whole house in the course of the day.

The boys are a little worried about the move and I think that TJ has gone into denial. He told his teachers he was not moving and that was that! I think he might be in for a surprise tomorrow night.

As I say tomorrow is my birthday... I will be 23 according to TJ. I wish... I feel 73 today. Moving house is such a chore...

I am therefore cancelling my birthday this year, so I don't expect much in the way of gifts... Mind you Papa has a pretty poor record in birthday gifts. Last year it was a gym membership... Lovely... Until I read the card which came with the caveat, ... ' and I expect results!' Rude!! But, as I told him after my induction... "the gym has a bar, now that's what I call a result!"

The year before I got a vacuum cleaner... Apparently I had 'admired it' whilst in a local department store. I now only ever 'admire' things in Bulgari and Christian Dior!! Needless to say nothing has come out of that!

Mind you I had better not go on too much or I won't get anything tomorrow... But that might take me into wedding anniversaries which are more controversial!

I may have to take a forced break from my blog for a few days as we lose our Internet connection... It seems to take ages to get a new line fitted but as soon as I'm back I will let you all know. Until then I hope you enjoy looking back over the past three months of our lives... They still make me laugh!!!

See you soon.....

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Cleaner

I am pretty lucky in that I have a cleaner. She is a sit com in herself. Small, in her thirties, quite trendy and Turkish. I know this as she informs me constantly about how she misses her 'Turkey family and friends' but that she is pleased not to live there as being a woman in Turkey is 'no as much fun as being woman in England'. Which I am sure is very true.

However, today I decided to cancel the cleaner - just for this week as we are piled high in boxes and there really is little point in cleaning when the packers arrive on Thursday and we move out on Friday - better to clean after everyone has left. Or at least that's what I thought.

How wrong was I?

'No, Mister,' she told me quite firmly over the phone, ' I no allow you to move out and leave dirty house, better you make clean house and then it is more nice for the new family.'' "Yes," I replied "but we can clean after the move - we don't hand the keys over for a week." "No, we clean today, I am booked today, so I clean today." She paused..., " Have you cleaned oven yet?" "Erm, no... not yet, no..." "Right then," she said, "You get oven cleaner and spray it on in morning and then when I come in afternoon I will finish oven off for you and make it clean."

I decided I needed to show her who was boss.

"Look," I said, "you really can't come today, I have a horrid cold and I don't want to give it to you." There was a pause on the line. "Horrid cold? All my families this week are having cold - I do not catch the cold and I still clean... I see you at usual time... now go clean oven." and with that she hung up. I duly went to clean the oven...

She arrived and headed straight for the oven - after I had made her a cup of tea and a biscuit of course. "This oven cleaner is no good," She told me, "Why you don't use Mr Muscle like I tell you?" "Well, the lady in Lakeland recommended this one." I replied. This remark was met with that ancient female sign of disgust, the sucking of the teeth. She sucked, "Lakeland," she spat the store's name out, "What do they know? You see who makes this product she 'recommend'... yes, Lakeland make it.. they make it and they recommend it and they sell it to people who don't know what to buy. I tell you get Mr Muscle, next time you get Mr Muscle - is cheaper and better."

She then looked at my handiwork in the oven - the product is a brush on gel that boasts no after smell or scrubbing. She put her head inside the oven to get a good look. "This is not working," she said and she started scraping the floor of the oven with my teaspoon, "See is not coming off and you no put enough gel on, give..." I meekly handed her the Lakeland gel product - which I had followed all the instructions for, carefully applying it with the little applicator brush, whilst wearing protective goggles and gloves. She simply grabs the bottle and squirts it all over... 'I was shocked, "Watch out," I cried, "It could burn you!"

She looked at me scornfully, "Dont be silly, I use oven cleaner all the time... I cannot burn like this, I am used to it, see." and with that she squirted the entire bottle of gel into the oven even though the box claims there is enough gel to clean three ovens to a sparkle. "Now, I will go and bleach bathroom and come back and finish this off later."

As I write she is humming along to her loud europop radio station and squirting bleach around the bathroom. I am sitting in the living room quietly as I dont want to disturb her too much. She scares me...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Weekend Woes...

I have the flu... It's official! And it is the worst case ever recorded by man... Or me anyway...
Do my family care? Not a jot... No, they still need feeding, sending to school, taking to football club, picking up from after school club... And then need feeding again. Do they thank me for my trouble? No, they simply complain that my constant sneezing is interrupting their televisual pleasure... So I 'accidentally' allowed my snot to drip into their baked beans... Before you call social services, I made that last bit up... But it's what I would have done if I had been treated like that by any of my customers  in my days waiting tables as a struggling actor. As a struggling parent, I simply nodded and laughed it off before going upstairs to cry quietly in the bathroom.

This weekend saw us packing in preparation for our move on Friday. We are having people in to do the main packing but I wanted to allow the children to pack their own 'precious' items. Their toys, bears, favourite pictures etc all went into big boxes which the kids then sealed and wrote on. It's important for them to be involved in the moving process as they have moved so many times in their little lives and usually to a different family member, foster carer or eventually to us, so it is obviously a traumatic time for them. I also took the opportunity to pack some of our breakables. KC is currently obsessed by antique programmes and as I was wrapping a few bits up he asked if they were valuable. 'Not really," I replied, " But they are valuable to me."
"Is that because they are old?" he asked. "Yes, " I replied. He went on, "And old things are valuable?" "Sometimes," I told him.... He thought about this for a second and then said, "Then Granny must be worth loads!" ... I won't be telling my Mother that bit.

Luckily, Mum is away with her sister and some girlfriends on an alcohol fuelled week in Wales. She has told me that she as no phone connection while she is away, so I am unable to call for packing advice, stress relief or begging her to take the kids off my hands! Even asbo dog has gone into the kennels, so it must be a seriously alcoholic trip....

Little Lord Fauntleroy made an appearance this morning. I got the boys up for breakfast... KC came down as usual but there was no sign of TJ. I shouted up the stairs that breakfast was ready to which I received the reply, "I would like my breakfast in bed please... Bacon and eggs!" I am sure he has been secretly watching Downton Abbey... Needless to say he was soon downstairs munching his cereal when he realised that his valet was on strike and nothing was coming up the stairs. He then noticed my cold... And started to cough. "I'm too sick to go to school today, Daddy," he said. "Oh dear," I replied, "that's a shame as its football club today." He stopped coughing and then said, " I think I will manage today... But I shall definitely be too sick to go tomorrow." I nodded and got them both ready for school.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Too Much Going On....

So the adoption is out of the way but there is still a part of me that thinks something has to go wrong. I think there was so much bad blood between ourselves and social services that I am sure they will try to find some way to stop the adoption from being a reality. Even though I heard the judge grant the order I wont be happy until I have all the documents.

Next up is the Celebration Hearing - this is held at our local court and the judge here will also invite the children to come along and have some kind of presentation and we are officially declared a family... I can't wait, apparently it should take place within a month of the original order being made and we have promised the kids a fantastic meal out - which I think to them means a trip to the golden arches for a 'happy meal'!

At the moment I am trying to sort out the house move for next week - there is so much to do, I am usually really prepared but I haven't sorted out the gas and electricity, the telephones, the mail and, most importantly, the TV... we only have cable where we are going as its a conservation area so no sky dishes or big aerials.

Then I decided that now would be a good time to sort out the children's christening - well, our vicar dropped me an email saying he could do it on the 25th Nov - to co-incide with our wedding anniversary but Papa has decided he doesn't want to focus on that just yet and we won't have any money to throw a christening party anyway... Then I also decided that now would be a good time to organise our trip to Singapore to see Papa's family for Chinese New Year - these things need to be sorted out in advance as I have to make sure the children can get the time off school and its a busy time to be looking for flights out to Asia. I also ahe to organise our Summer holiday trip - hoping for Devon as I am not spending 6 weeks at home over the long summer holidays again!

So now I am stressed on lots of counts and it's all of my own doing... then I remembered I havent started my coursework for my degree (I'm doing psychology with the OU) and I havent updated my blog... am I procrastinating? Possibly... but at least my blog has now been updated! What next... a cup of tea?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Adoption Day!

It finally happened.

Yes, we got the Adoption Order and the children officially became ours and now we all share the same surname.

However, as always, it wasn't that smooth a day - which part of this adoption has been smooth? One day I'll write a book about the reality behind Relative Strangers, because adoption is not an easy journey and despite there being so many children out there who need parents and stability the entire adoption system is set up to place as many obstacles as possible in the way of the adopters.

At the last minute the social workers and their lawyers called me to tell me they were going to apply for yet another adjourment of the final hearing. This is because we have an ongoing complaint about the way in which the children were placed with us with no support or help and a myriad of failings on the part of the social services. This has all been upheld in the complaints proceedings although the council in question will not address it. So now we have an investigation from the Local Government Ombudsman as well as by our MP. Its all very dramatic.

The upshot is they wanted to adjourn the hearing based on a single line in the Post Adoption Support agreement that the Ombudsman had asked to be included - basically, stating that the council will have to consider the Ombudsman's findings. Without this line we would be signing away our rights to question any financial assistance in the future.

Well, the judge agreed to adjourn, until 2pm the same day to allow me to get up there (we are a long way from the court) and give my side of the story. I organised emergency childcare - jumped in the car and off I went. I sat in a court room and explained our reasons for the 'one line clause', I showed the judge the letter from the Ombudsman also requesting the clause. Then the social services lawyer proceeded to rip into me, saying we were not committed to the adoption, we were only interested in the finances, not in the best interest of the children, that we were asking for a clause to go in that would be based on future findings that are unknown and therefore were being unreasonable.

I sat there with my mouth open. I can honestly say I was stunned.

Then the judge replied and, I think I am ok in saying this, he seemed furious. He told them that we had every right to ask for this simple clause, the Ombudsman had requested it and that the council were bound by law to consider it, so by asking it to be removed showed they were planning on getting us to sign off and then washing their hands of us (or words to that effect in legal terms). He was not sympathetic to the council and if they were bringing up finances then that was their issue and not ours. As to the best interest of the children, well, it would not be served by waiting months for a legal enquiry and it was in their best interests to grant the adoption order.

Well, that was it - the order was granted. The judge went on to thank me for coming and clarifying my position. That was it. A five hour round trip for a ten minute session where I was horribly abused and then given the best news ever!

We told the children that evening.

KC knew something was up as I was 'dressed in boring clothes', obviously I didn't go to court in my best Carmen Miranda hat, and he knew it was the adoption. "Are we now adopted, " he asked. "Yes you are," Papa told her, "That's it we are a forever family!" KC came in for a big hug... TJ sat there looking at us with his mouth open... "Do we get a toy now?" he asked... I think the complexities of the adoption system of the UK may have gone above my 6 years old's head... Yes, I can finally say that... 'My 6 year old!'

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions!

Today I have had to make two journeys. One with TJ to the eye hospital for a check up and one with KC for his weekly therapy session. Both involved long car journeys, both involved a lengthy conversation...

TJ was at his most profound. 'Who made the buses? Who built the houses? Where do cows sleep?" lots of lovely kiddy questions that are totally adorable... Well, the first few are, after that it just gets annoying and you find yourself saying 'God did' or 'I really don't know'' and my favourite, 'Why don't you ask Papa?'

This led us onto mine and Papa's roles in his life. 'Why was I called Daddy and Papa called Papa?'  'Were those our real names,' and on being told that thy weren't then 'why couldn't he call us by our real names. ' This last question was borne from the fact that the eye doctor used his birth name constantly, much to my annoyance and I had to explain to TJ that his name will change properly once the judge says its ok. He thought about this for a long time and then said, 'Well, if I am not adopted yet then I shouldn't call you Daddy until the judge says so, because you are not my Daddy... Yet.'

At first I was a little hurt by this comment but when I thought about it I realised that it must have made perfect sense to a six year old and at least he could be that honest with me. Hopefully, the adoption will go through tomorrow and we will finally be able to give him our surname.

A little while later the conversation took a completely different turn as TJ suddenly asked me, "Why don't my toys come to life like they do on tv... I sat up for ages last night and nothing happened!" I guess I will soon have to break the news that tv lies to us!!!!!!!

KC on the other hand had an entirely different conversation in the car. His questions were all about what he will do when he is a grown up. There will be no homework, no tidying of his room, no Brussels sprouts and no cabbage... But Papa and I will be in his world because we love him and he loves us." It was at that point I nearly had to pull the car over... as I sneezed (I have a horrid cold)
But, for him to be saying this as I was taking him to his therapy session was really touching. He knew, as did I, that he was going to have to revisit the darkest times of his young life. No seven year old should ever have experienced life as he has and, yes, she may be difficult and he may not play well with others but he is still our son and it is at moments like this in the car that I realise just how much he needs us, for all his bravado.

Mind you, getting him to do his homework instead of watching tv triggered quite a different set of emotions.. Sigh!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A New Chapter?

Today I met up with my friend who wants to turn my blog into a sit com. The meeting went surprisingly well, we agreed on pretty much everything and our senses of humour matched.  So we now have a six episode outline, a timetable and a fabulous excuse to have lunch in town every Monday.

I'll keep you posted as to how it all goes...  I am trying not to be too star struck and anyway I was soon brought back down to Earth when I went to pick the kids up from football club. TJ had lost his shoes and socks and was in his bare feet, he came out of school looking like a mud lark. One of his friends Mum's must have noticed as she handed TJ a pair of old football gloves and said in a pitying tone, "Here you go love, my son has a new pair so he won't be needing these." I wouldn't have minded but TJ replied, "thank you, I don't get new things in my family." great, thanks for that son. I was, however, gracious and we accepted the gloves whilst I tried to find his brand new shoes and socks!

We then went to pick KC up from after school club, yes both kids were at clubs after school hours, which means I get an extra hours peace! He rushed out without her jumper, coat or lunch box... Apparently he had lost them all... Great now I am replacing pretty much their entire uniform and we are only 2 weeks into the new school year...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Not What We Expected....

... That's what today was all about, a completely unexpected series of events.

The day started so well, we had been to Bluewater yesterday to get curtains and bits for the new house and we had promised the children that if they could be good in John Lewis, for a change, then we would have a family day out on Sunday.

So Sunday came and we were all set to go out on a picnic and a simple fun filled day at the park, playing football and catching butterflies... A typically idyllic September day in South East England....

We didn't count on the cat.....

I was just upstairs when I heard KC sobbing in the family room... My immediate reaction was to ask TJ what he had done. TJ looked at me indignantly, "I didn't do anything," he said,  "it's not always my fault." I think the jury is still out on that one.

I went downstairs and my blood ran cold. KC looked up at me and blood was pouring out of his left eye. "What happened!" I cried. "Max scratched me in the face." came the sobbing reply. We quickly bathed the eye in cold water and surveyed the damage. It looked ok but we decided not to take any risks and I rushed her down to our local A & E.

I was imagining a scene out of Casualty or Holby City. I already knew tha ER was way out of reach but what greeted me was more like something out of a Carry On film. The 'waiting room' , resembled a holding pen for the outcast population of our area. My inner snob took a tumble and I must have looked stunned as the triage nurse saw us straight away.... Well, it may have been the blood pouring from KC's eye but I like to make things about myself. They cleaned him up and asked millions of inappropriate questions about why our surnames were different, why I didn't know his medical history etc...  I explained the situation and told them we hope the adoption order will be signed soon, to which the ugly cow behind the desk replied, "so officially he's still in foster care then... Who's his social worker?" I told you it was nothing like hospitals on the tv... This receptionist had the hygiene of a pit bull and resembled one too!

"You don't have to wait with them," she waved her hand towards the now growing mass of the great unwashed, "You can go in the children's area." we went to the little door as she shouted after us, "there's no nurses in there but someone will come for you, it's about an hour's wait."

We went into the children's waiting area and once again I was stunned. It was filthy. Like something out of a third world documentary. There was a man in there whose son had broken his arm, they had waited an hour for the X-ray and had now waited an hour more to get the results. We were soon joined by another family. They knew the routine and the hospital extremely well, they came on a regular basis. Told me the tea was crap and the nurses were dreadful (I paraphrase, I can write their actual language here). I turned the tv up so KC could watch that instead of listening to the mother berating her daughter for causing her to have to come to hospital again and waste her Sunday. " never come here on a Sunday!" she wisely imparted, "The doctors don't come in on a weekend and you just get the scummy nurses" Those were her exact words. I smiled as she added, "Mind you this waiting room's cleaner than my house."

She wasn't far off the truth though. There were no doctors at all. We eventually saw a lovely nurse after about two hours. She examined KC's eye and said that he was lucky, it was just a superficial scratch which looked worse than it was. A few eye drops, an eye patch and we were on our way. As we left the influx of Sunday sporting injuries was arriving... KC looked at them and said, "I don't know why they play football if they are going to get hurt.... They must all be rubbish players!" I smiled as the four members of he local rugby team threw me an icy glare.

We quickly left!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Interesting News & Lasagna

Yesterday a very good friend of mine approached me with the idea of turning my little blog into a tv sitcom. I must admit I had played with the idea before but never really seriously thought about it. But here was someone with tv history, who had written for tv before and, in my eyes, knew what she was talking about. I decided that if this was going to happen then I would like to be involved and co-write it with her. Amazingly, she agreed. Write about what you know they say, well who knows my weirdly wonderful family better than myself....

In my excitement I foolishly put it onto my Facebook page.... Within minutes the entire world ( well, my entire friend list) was asking if I would be playing myself? Answer is I'd love too but only if it was the right thing... Who would play my Mum? This was a question posed by my mother herself. Whose idea was it to let her have an iPad and thus immediate access to social media? I think she was hoping for Joanna Lumley, Twiggy or some other sexy post 60year old... She didn't seem impressed when I said that in my mind I had pictured Patricia Hodge... There was a deathly quiet on the phone... "but she always plays bossy, opinionated women, when I think of her I think of your Aunty C!" I didn't think it was prudent to remind my mother that my Aunt was actually her sister and they did have an awful lot in common...which is probably why they argue such a lot....however, I simply said, "don't worry Mum, it's very early stages. We haven't even written a pilot yet and your character wouldn't be in that episode." She thought about this... "Why not?" she asked indignantly, and then went on, "Well, I don't think it should have me in it anyway, I'm not at all interesting. There's no need to use me is there?" she sighed with one of those mother like sighs which ensures that you know you are the worst son ever but she still loves you despite spending 18 hours in childbirth, raising you through the dark times that were the 80's with no money and a 15% interest rate on their mortgage, with food prices sky high that she went without so you could eat and have shoes for school but its ok, she'll survive.... That sort of sigh.  Then she went on, "And who would play your Nan?" I did have to think about that one as there aren't many actresses left who can play 89 and I'm sure June Whitfield would be doing panto, although to be honest Patricai Routledge has always reminded me of my Nan, especially when she played Hyacinth Bucket, but I'm not sure if she is still with us... But if she was that would be two Patricia's in one show...

The more concerning role is that of Papa, where will we find a Chinese Singaporean British actor who has the ability to play the long suffering breadwinner?.... Hmmm, now I have said that I shall probably be inundated. I just have to make sure they are cute... Not for my own benefit but because Papa is... (I had to say that as I know he will read it and it will soon be my birthday!)

Last night TJ went to after school club and when I picked him up I was told that he was a little angel and that he ate all his lasagna. I was stunned, TJ hates lasagna. The teacher laughed, "that's so typical, the kids always say they hate stuff at home but here they eat everything." I joined in the laughter but secretly I knew something was amiss.

We got into the car, "Have you got any sweets?" TJ asked. "I'm hungry."
"But you had dinner," I replied, " I heard you ate all your lasagna."
"No I didn't." came the reply, "I hate lasagna, so I put it all on my friends plate when he wasn't looking, then when the teacher came back I said I ate it all and got a biscuit." I sighed (not like my mother I hasten to add) I know the boy in question and he might not be the brightest pebble on the beach but I would have thought even he would have noticed an extra portion of lasagna suddenly appearing on his plate.  Oh well, at least it's the weekend.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Christmas in September

Christmas in September... sounds like a dreadfully sweet movie with Keanu Reeves and Anne Hathaway in some 'end of life' weepie where they persuade their local town to celebrate the festive season in the 'Fall' so she can enjoy her favourite holiday one last time... and then she miraculously lives and everyone hates her as they all have no money left to celebrate the real Christmas and they are all sick of turkey as they had to go through Thanksgiving straight after... Actually, that sounds like a fun movie - particularly if Anne Hathaway is brutally murdered by the angry townspeople as Keanu shows off his best attributes (no, not his acting talents). For those of you who are fans of Miss Hathaway then you can easily replace her role with any number of vacuous starlets... Keanu stays though!

Anyway, it isn't at all as exciting as that... Christmas in September actually refers to the fact that I went into KC's clasroom today for a 'meet the teacher' session. What a great way for us mere parents to meet our children's teacher in an informal setting. Except we didn't, the 12 year old Mr H spent most of the hour session fussing around with tissue paper and safety scissors whislt we got on our knees and helped our little darlings create their Christmas Cards. KC chose to make a snowman with as much glue as he possibly could. I helped him make a scarf out of tissue paper, then the buttons for his jacket and a carrot for his nose and then I coloured in the sky and... suddenly realised that I was doing all the bloody work whilst my eldest was wreaking havoc in the corner. He and his friend had discovered where the oversized rubber dice were and were playing snake eyes with them. I did not teach him that game - so I can only assume that Papa has been showing our kids his best gambling moves. It is a known fact that all Singaporeans love to gamble - and Papa is no exception. We went on a cruise once... I say 'we'.. actually I went on a cruise while he sat in the depths of the ship's casino day and night - I only think he came up on deck to eat and to the cabin to sleep. I got a lovely tan and Papa looked like he had spent a week in a coffin - which in many respects he had - although he did win a good sum!

Needless to say, by the end of the 'meet the teacher'  session I had a very nice Christmas Card which KC proudly put his name to! The session over and the teacher gets everyone to tidy up and sit down and we parents wait to see what nuggets of wisdom the new teacher will toss our way... Except he doesn't. "Lovely to meet you all," he says, "Now if you all wait and outside and have a 'natter' then I will send the kids out to you in 5 minutes." So my afternoon wasted I popped outside to discuss Thai sticky rice recipes with my friend.

KC is back at Drama tonight... let's see how that goes!!!!!!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Positive Day

Today I was called into school to chat with TJ's teacher about his behaviour... Namely smacking another boy in the face because he accused him of fouling in a football game... Great!

What was really positive though was that after ascertaining that the football incident was not unusual and that any of the boys were going through the same emotions.  Anyhow, the teacher then went on to tell me how amazing TJ was, how, despite his emotional age being around 4, he had really settled into school. He was brilliant at maths and his English had really improved, his writing needed a lot to be desired but he does suffer from hyper mobility, so that is to be expected. How did they manage the football incident? They made TJ referee for the day and he had a great afternoon telling the other kids that they were fouling and that he was the boss! My only concern is that he will start turning into a little Mussolini in other areas of life.

This morning as I dropped the kids into school, in my gym gear, a good friend who obviously reads this blog, rushed up to me and said "On my goodness, I can't believe you would wear your gym kit to school.... ". Thanks for that! KC looked at me and said, "See I told you that the other parents would laugh." and TJ just looked at me and simply said, " Can you stop at the gate, don't walk me into school." Fantastic.....

I went to pick the boys up and KC was wearing his plimsoles. He had left his shoes in class. I went back into the class with him and as I was there his teacher said, "Hi there, how are you?" I entered willingly into this conversation with the usual small talk... By the end of the conversation I had committed to going into school tomorrow to help with making Christmas Cards and had agreed to help out on a school trip to a Roman villa at the end of next month. These teachers are wily creatures!!!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Adopting Again!!!!!!

Yes, we are thinking of adopting again... not children but rabbits!

We have promised the children that when we move they can have a pet each - there only being a dog and a cat so far... but they have decided they want rabbits (to be fair KC wanted a snake but there is no way that is going to happen). So we went to the local pet shop to see lots of little baby bunnies and guinea pigs and hamsters etc. I was cooing over the bunnies when suddenly TJ pipes up from across the store, "Daddy," he yells and all the male parents turn around, obviously concerned that it is there little darling who has found an escaped degu, "Daddy, come over here!" Realising it was me that was being called I duly went over. TJ was standing by the 'adoption' section of the store. These are the animals that get left behind, the ones that dont get bought whilst they are still young and cute. "Why are these rabbits over here?"

I explained that these were rabbits up for adoption, they hadn't been chosen yet. "I want that one." he declared pointing at what had to be the ugliest rabbit I have ever seen - if you have ever seen the movie 'Lilo and Stitch' then you will understand when I say this rabbit could easily have been a displaced alien. KC joined us and when he learned that these rabbits were up for adoption he also decided she wanted one, luckily the one she chose looked more normal than TJ's choice - she called it Sweep as it was black, its always worrying when children name the animals they are looking at..... I called a lady over and she explained the adoption process to me. Bascically these are rabbits that are no longer cute enough to go in the front of the store. A couple have been returned and one was a bit of a terror but apart from that they were all healthy.

I then told her it was probably going to be towards the end of the month before we were ready to take any home to which she replied, "Don't worry, they will still be here - hardly anyone adopts, they all want the babies." She obviously didnt know our situation but I turned to see KC staring up at her with his huge eyes. She turned to him and said, "I wish more people were like you and would give these animals a second chance." How funny that pets reflect peoples attitudes to children as well.

"What happens if they are not adopted?" KC asked. I knew the answer already and the lady obviously didnt want to say but I think KC knew - those rabbits were going nowhere...

"Not to worry," I said, "As soon as we get the hutch then we can adopt two rabbits and let other people buy the baby ones." Both children seemed satisfied with this answer.

As we walked back to the car I heard TJ say to his brother, "What would have happened to us if we weren't adopted?" KC was silent. I let the comment pass and within two minutes they were squabbling again.

So now we are getting rabbits and I hope that the two they saw are still there in a couple of weeks when we move. Well, maybe not the ugly one!!!!! (I am joking, if thats the one TJ wants then thats the one he shall have - before I am lambasted!!!!!!)

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Weekend

Well, it was Summer's last hurrah!
(I notice that I start a lof of my blogs with 'Well.....' - I imagine these being said in the style of Elizabeth Montgomery - Samantha from the original 'Bewitched' - so if you could oblige me I would be very grateful...)
Anyhow, to move on, I haven't really had a lot to blog about - hence my weekend absence but what we have enjoyed has been almost blissful family life. I say 'almost' as I have to deduct the scrap the children had in the back of the car yesterday and TJ kicking Lea in the face with his heel as he was practising Karate...

This morning we got ready for school and I was in my gym kit ready for my masochistic personal trainer after I had dropped the boys off at school. Lea took one look at me and said "How can you take us to school in your pyjamas?". I looked at her and replied, "I'm going to the gym, this is my gym wear!"
"Oh," she said and then he gave a look that I didnt expect to see until she was at least 12. A look of sheer embarrassment. "You mean you are taking us to school dressed like that... and my friends parents will see you!" I felt like saying, "Honey, your friends parents ain't seen nothing yet" whilst giving a 'go girlfriend' swish of the hand. Instead I simply smiled and said, "I'm sure your friends parents have seen much worse." (I know I definately have - but I didn't tell her that of course.)

Yesterday, TJ and I made a courgette cake - similar to a carrot cake but with... yes, courgettes. TJ helped with the stirring and the breaking of the eggs and the stirring and the bashing of the nuts and the stirring and then he got bored and went to play on the wii. I finished the cake (pretty delicious - thank you Nigella) and served it with Sunday tea. TJ proudly announced that he had stirred the cake many times - therefore he should now be known as TJ the Stirrer... I think we had nicknamed him that ages ago!

I nearly forgot... I got called into school,today as TJ had decided that it would be great fun to smack a boy in the mouth at lunchtime... So I have just had the long chat about how Father Christmas only gives toys to good little boys. " What about the naughty boys? " TJ asked, "What do they get?"
"A lump of coal!" I answered.
"That's rubbish. " he said.
"Really?" I replied and I launched into a long story about how when my brother was little he was naughty one year and he got a lump of coal in his stocking. TJ looked stunned, so I continued... I might have enjoyed it a bit too much as I watched his little eyes get bigger and bigger as I talked of my brother's disappointment on Christmas morning when my sister and I opened all our presents and he had none. How my brother spent all of Christmas Day in floods of tears and the incredible disappointment of finding his Christmas list on the mantelpiece with the words 'naughty boy' written across it... TJ is now sitting in the bath in a state of shock! I hope it does the trick!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Family Stuff

It's Friday! And the first week back at school has been a successful one. No tears, no worries just all back! Hooray!

Today, Lea brought her PE kits back home. Not her new PE kit that I bought to replace the one she had lost last term. No, she 'found' the kit she had lost and brought it back. I opened her bag and I can honestly say that the kit could have walked by itself into the washing machine. It was solid, caked with mud and sweat. Oh and she only had one plimsole, how do you lose a plimsole? Well, at least we have it back now. Why didn't we get a lovely little girl that loves pink and barbie? - I asked myself....

This reminded me of TJ returning home from school last year still wearing his PE kit. "Why are you in your PE kit?" I asked.
"My trousers got wet and I had to take them off," came the reply.
I looked into his school bag to find not a soggy pair of trousers but a girl's skirt.
"How did you get a skirt in your bag?" I asked with a puzzled expression, "And, more importantly, whose is it?"
"It's Holly's," he told me completely non-plussed.
"Why have you got her skirt?" I continued with the questioning.
"She said her Mum was really good at washing and I said you were rubbish, so she has taken my trousers to her Mum to wash properly and I am bringing her skirt home to you cause it's not that dirty." He then walked off. I found Holly's Mum and we swapped the childrenswear. I didnt tell her about the explanation and we just laughed it off as a silly mistake.

The teachers have all had a good laugh at my expense, while talking about families they asked TJ what his parents did. "Papa goes to work in a bank," he told the class, "and Daddy stays at home and plays with my toys and bounces on the trampoline." "All day?" the teachers asked him, "Yes, all day... except when he is eating bacon." Maybe I should be eating bacon on the trampoline when he comes home from school?

We met Lea's new teacher the other day. He seriously looks about 12 years old. I was quite surprised, especially as Lea told us how fierce the teacher was and how he shouted all the time. The man doesn't look as if he could scare the skin off a rice pudding, but I guess that's perception for you. And at least Lea responds well to him, Lea likes boundaries, which I think is a good thing...

Its the weekend and Lea has asked to do 'family stuff'. "What do you mean by family stuff?" I asked him. "Well, we can get out of bed late, watch a movie I like, then go outside and play whatever I want, then you can make lunch, then we can come in and watch TV, then you can make dinner." (So basically 'family stuff' means doing what she wants). "What about going to Sainsbury's?" I said, "We still need to get food." Lea thought about this for a moment, "Well, you can do that while I watch my movie," she said, then added, "and while you are out you can buy lunch to bring back. I dont want you to work too hard."

"Thanks for that," I replied and then popped out to have a quick bounce on the trampoline....

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Normality Resumes....

Our lives have reached a state of normality. Well, as normal as my family life can be anyway...

I went back to the gym and despite it only being a 6 week break since my last visit I could only do about half of my pre-summer holiday routine. On the treadmill I was huffing and puffing but probably bore more of a resemblance to one of the three little pigs rather than the sexual predator that is the wolf. I moved onto the rowing machine and came close to a Titanic moment. Even getting on the stationary bike with its inbuilt fan didn't give me any pleasure as instead of blowing my hair in a sensual manner the fan simply blew the sweat from my now bright red head and sprayed it behind me showering anyone who walked past. I didn't stay too long. I couldn't really as my shorts had suddenly shrunk 3 sizes... Either that or Kylie Minogue had carried out a secret celebrity makeover on my wardrobe and swapped my gym shorts for a pair of her hot pants, which makes much more sense than  the alternative explanation...

A little later I continued my health kick by meeting a friend in the local park and walking our dogs. Her dog, a barking mad spaniel, tore around the field at a furious pace. My dog took one look and went home, literally! While we were chatting I turned to my friend and said, "Have you seen my dog?", to which a lady sitting nearby said, "I think your little dog is currently crossing the road." ... And she was right, there she was crossing the road and walking home. I ran... Yes, ran to get her, much to my friends amusement. But I eventually caught up with the little bitch, my dog not my friend, who had managed to reach the local inn and luckily a client of the pub recognised her and grabbed her before she tried to cross the busy road by herself. It would seem that my dog is as exercise-phobic as I am.

The boys came home from school, Lea had caught a cricket... Which she kissed in the hope that it was Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. I don't actually recall Pinocchio kissing the cricket but if it gives Lea a conscience then it's ok by me. TJ then piped up telling his sister that instead of just kissing the cricket why didn't she bite it's head off and see what happened....

We really have to work on TJ's empathy....

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Excuses Excuses.....

The novelty of being back at school definitely wore off today. As he sat in the bath TJ announced, "I won't be going back to school again, I've had enough of that." Well, they say that disappointment is part of growing up and that is a lesson TJ will learn in the morning....

My mother called today, she has reluctantly agreed to look after the boys over half term - just for a night, not for the whole week, I need to keep on speaking terms with her. This is so that Papa and I can attend a dear friend's wedding and we get to stay away for a whole night. This will be the first time we have spent a night away without the children since they arrived 18months ago. In order to ensure my Mum has as trouble free a day as possible we have arranged that the boys can attend football club for the day, so all Mum has to do is get them into school, which will be a two minute walk away and by the time they are ready to be picked up Papa and I will be home. So all is organised and fine until.....

Mum calls me this afternoon, she is concerned about the stay over. We will have moved into our new house by then, which seems to cause the most concern. The conversation went something like this:

"I'm a bit worried about looking after the children, what if they misbehave?"
"Mum, they are 6 and 7, they will be in bed by 7 and you just have to take them to school in the morning."
"but what time will you be leaving on the first day?"
"Probably in the morning."
"So what should I do with them for the whole day?"
"Let them show you around the area, take the dog for a walk, go to the park, play in the garden."
"What if it's raining?"
"Then put on a DVD, let them play in their rooms."
"How does your oven work?"
"I don't know yet."
"So if you don't know how will I?"
"I'll show you before we go."
"What will the children eat?"
"We can ask them."
"Wha about me, what will I eat?"
"Mum, if all else fails there is a chip shop nearby."
"But I won't have the car and I don't want to walk."
"Then order pizza, they deliver to the door."

She thought about this,

"But I don't like pizza."

By now I realised how ridiculous this conversation was becoming.

"Mum," I said, "You raised three children, you can look after two for one night."
"You're right," she admitted, " I'm just being silly aren't I?"
"Yes, mum, you will be fine."

So hopefully we are back on track for Mum to look after my little ones and we can get that much needed night away... If it all goes well we are aiming to persuade her to have them for a week!!!! (Just don't tell her....)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Day For 'Me'!

Today the children finally went back to school. Lea is wearing a shirt and tie now and looks so grown up... I suddenly flashed forward a few years to her teenage years at school. She will be such a good looking young lady, or that might just be around Daddy talking... She will obviously take after me in the looks department, lucky girl... As long as she gets her Papa's brains then she will do ok.

The kids rushed into school but before they did they asked me what I would do now they had gone back to school. I told them that I was going into London for a hair cut and then to meet Papa for lunch. "Will you be killing your hair today?" TJ asked. I looked at him with a puzzled expression, "Killing my hair?" I asked. "Yes," he said, "Whenever you get a hair cut you also kill your hair and make it darker." The penny dropped, "You mean dying my hair!" I laughed. TJ looked at me as if I was mad, "That's what I said," he said and tore into school shouting at his friends. Even Lea raced into school, I was left with the other parents but we all agreed that it was a good sign that the kids were so keen to get back to school.

I then drove into town and experienced the joy that is the Olympic traffic... The Olympic lanes were open and not a sod was on them, we however, were sat in a traffic jam for nearly an hour staring wistfully at the empty lane bearing the five ring logo. I eventually got there and had my haircut, it was a new hairdresser today and she was very interested in my 'celebrity' past. Yes, back in Singapore I did a lot of work in TV and theatre and even won the Best Actor award for one of my plays, the first foreigner to do so. I then went on to do a lot of Tv, both in English and Mandarin, although my Mandarin filming exploits are a story in themselves. Anyway, before this become all about me, we switched topics to current TV , including the newly revamped series of 'Dallas', she looked at me in the mirror, "It looks like a really nice city, I wonder where they film it?" I politely smiled but the customer next to me openly guffawed.

I left with lovely new hair and joined Papa for lunch. He ordered sausage and mash, "Would you like any side orders with that, sir?" the waiter asked, "Does it come with potatoes?" Papa asked. "Just the mash, sir." the waiter replied snootily. Papa thought about this, "Right, I'll have a side order of chips then please." I rolled my eyes until I saw my own brain!

However, we had a lovely, if quite potatoey lunch, and then went to pick the kids up from school. They were so excited that Papa had come to collect them and it finished off a lovely day.

Monday, 3 September 2012

I blame Masterchef....

Well, we have had an eventful weekend. The final weekend before my little 'darlings' go back to school. Yes, I shall be standing at the school gate waving them off with a tear or two in my eye... except mine shall be tears of joy! The minute those school gates close I am off up to London for a new hair cut, a lovely lunch and some shopping! Hopefully, I will remember to come back and collect the little scamps after their harrowing first day. I already know how it is going to go anyway. At the end of the day I shall sit with them and ask, 'How was it? How is your new teacher? What did you do?' to which the stock reply will be a shrug of the shoulders and 'I dont know'. Sometimes they remember what they had for lunch, but that is a very rare occurrence!

This weekend the children watched Masterchef on TV, there is a 'celebrity' special version of the show on at the moment. Who these 'celebrities' are I dont actually know as I have never heard of any of them - my only guess is that they are not TV chefs, of which there is an abundance. Basically, if you can follow a recipe, have a 'distinctive' voice and are not too ugly then you get a TV cookery show. I have not been approached yet but I am waiting for the phone call. I shall call it 'Cooking Like my Mother' - that involves throwing some oven chips and a Findus Crispy Pancake in the oven, ignoring the timer because " 'Pointless' is on the telly...." and then serving the blackened remains in front of the 'One Show'... except in my childhood it would have been 'Nationwide'... but you get the gist. My Mum liked to know exactly what she was feeding her kids - that's why she always read the packet first....

But to get back to the point. My kids have become obsessed with cookery shows now and, more importantly, scoring cookery shows. So everything I make at the moment is 'scored' by my two angels. So far this weekend I got a 12 for my delicious Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, a 10 for Sausages and Chips and a huge Trillion points for my Sunday Roast... This was after a disagreement with the judges who originally only gave me a 3 for my brussel sprouts with pancetta and garlic (Nigella's recipe... not my Mothers). When I informed the 'judges' that such a low score would result in a suspension of dessert (summer fruit trifle) the scores were revised in my favour.

With this in mind I decided to make a cake with my eldest - my youngest was watching the Arsenal game and nothing would tear him away from the TV - we tried!!!!! So Lea and I decided to make a lemon drizzle cake. I wanted her to see that not all food is bought from a store. We were about half way through when she declared that it would be easier to buy one... so that argument didnt go down too well. Anyhow, she soon discovered the joy of raw cake batter - I panicked a little saying things like, 'But its not cooked' and 'there are raw eggs in there.' She simply didn't care and ate enough to make a couple of small loaves! Eventually I got it in the oven. Once it was baked we made the syrup and poured it over the warm sponge.

What was lovely was that at tea time I brought out the cake and Lea proudly told everyone, 'I made that!' As I told him, 'no shop bought cake can give you that satisfaction...' plus it was jolly nice... thank you Nigella!

TJ then produced a lovely picture he had drawn of lots of little men. In the corner it simply said 'OZ'. I did my best 'Wow' face and said; "Look at all those Munchkins, is this a picture of Munchkinland?" We had seen the movie earlier in the week. He looked at me like I was from Mars... Or Kansas!
"No!" he said, "Its Arsenal beating Liverpool, Can't you read the score?"
It turned out the letters I thought spelled out OZ were actually the numbers 0 and 2 - the final score... Well, he has to realise at some point that he does have a gay Dad!!!!!!!