Tuesday, 17 December 2013

If Santa is real then....

I sat this morning with both boys as they asked and answered so many questions about Mr Claus.

Last night we took them to see the big man at a local shopping centre.. it was crazy. We pre-booked, (£5 a child) which was lucky as Santa was totally sold out by the time we got there, and we joined the queue at the appropriate time - along with at least a dozen other people who had also booked for the same 15minute time slot. Admittedly, we have been a bit spoiled as we have always taken the boys to Lapland UK (which is fantastic) but this year - due to so many birthdays and the financial constraints caused by tenants not being bothered to pay their rent (don't get me started) - we opted to take the boys to the theatre on their birthdays and a cheaper Santa trip. Anyway, as we stood in the ever filling Santa waiting pen - complete with moving penguins - we soon realised that the boys were not going to have as much time with the big man as they are used to.

It came to our turn and we ran in - I'm not kidding you the 'elf' made us all run in shouting 'Come on Daddy', as I puffed behind. We then stood for a photo and the boys told Santa what they wanted for Christmas - TJ wanted football kits and the Sprog suddenly asked for a James Bond Gun (what!!!) - with that Santa handed the boys their age appropriate gift and we were ushered out into the photo collection area - where I spent another £15 on pictures. Papa stood there - still out of breath... "I came home early for this!" he exclaimed - he wasn't happy - so he took the boys on the big snow slides nearby to make up for it - another £3 a go.

The boys opened their gifts as soon as they got outside. Sprog had a brilliant book on dinosaurs - which he loved. TJ eagerly opened his package to find an activity book aimed at toddlers - the poor boy, because he is so small for his age Santa obviously pulled a present from the younger sack. TJ looked set to cry - 'Why did Santa give me a baby present?" he sobbed.

The Sprog then did a completely lovely thing - he turned to TJ and said, "I don't really like dinosaurs (which is a lie) - why don't you have my book and I'll have yours." I have never been prouder as TJ skipped off clutching the dinosaur book and Sprog walked around quite proudly carrying a 'Tree Fu Tom' activity book.

As we left the Sprog said to me, "I know that's not the real Santa - he employs lots of them to work in shopping centres - the real Santa lives in Lapland and my friend from school went to see him last weekend - So can we see the real Santa next year and not a crummy shop one?"

I spent last night pricing trips to Lapland. Its not cheap but it may well be the last year that the Sprog buys into the whole thing.

Then this morning the boys were discussing the 'reality' that is Santa. The Sprog said, "If Santa drinks a glass of sherry at every house he visits then why isn't he in prison for drunk driving?" to which TJ replied, "Because the police can't catch his sleigh."

Their sense of logic amazes me.

Then, "We don't have a chimney - how will Santa get in?" said Sprog, "We have a magic key!" said TJ , he then thought about this, "But if we leave the key outside for him then any robber could use it as well."

I don't think either child will be sleeping this Chrsitmas Eve. Although I'm pretty sure that TJ will now have a baseball bat under his bed in case  'robber' uses the magic key.

"Its ok," I said, "I usually wait up for Father Christmas, I'll make sure he locks the door after him."

"That's good," said TJ," But don't let Granny drink his sherry!"

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Advent Fun...

Well, we have eased the boys gently into the festive season.

This weekend saw the Sprog's 9th birthday - and we have agreed that, as both boys are December babies, we will get the tree and house decorated on or just before Sprog's birthday and then it will all be up for TJ's birthday, which is just after Christmas - so we are celebrating their birthdays along with Jesus's.

So last week whilst Sprog was at his Drama group (with the impossibly cheerful drama teacher) TJ and I went to choose a tree. At first he didn't want to. I heard every excuse - 'its not Christmas!' "I dont want a tree!' and "Why are we here?" - the last question was going to take a long time to answer so we decided to get a tree.

We unwrapped the lovely real trees - which TJ loved doing and watched the staff get upset as they realised they would have to wrap them up again. TJ selected the tiniest tree I have ever seen - his theory being that as it was so small no-one would want it. Psychologists will all point out that he was probably making a comment about himself - but I chose not to dwell on that - I was in full tree buying mode!

He then switched to looking at the biggest tree he could find and we eventually came home with a tree that practically takes up half the living room.

That evening we stood the tree in situ in the living room - with no decorations - just a bare tree in a bucket of water - apparently this is good for the tree but it also allowed TJ time to get used to the idea of a tree in the house. Then on Friday I allowed the boys to decorate the tree themselves. Papa and I put on the lights and got the decorations down from the loft - then we let the boys loose.

As Papa will tell you we are typically gay in that our tree is always immaculate - we alternate between a modern festive tree in pure white and crystal and a traditional Victorian tree with wooden ornaments. But this year the tree is so big we simply don't have enough ornaments - so the boys decided to put everything on. By the end the lower branches were covered with stuff and the higher ones were bare - so after the boys went to bed we re-arranged some of it. Never do that with a child who 'sees the world differently'. As soon as TJ got up he pointed out each decoration that had been moved and then moved it back... so now my tree looks like the decoration box simply exploded over it!

But - they love it - and thats the main thing!!!!!!

This morning as TJ opened his advent calendar - chocolate for breakfast is his idea of heaven. As he did so I said, "Are you going to give a bit of chocolate to your old Dad then?"

He looked at me stunned - his face froze - and he simply said, "I don't want to see my old Dad - is he coming?"

He had completely misunderstood me, "I meant me," I explained, "I'm your 'old' Dad."

"No," he said, "You're my new Dad."

He has been with us for nearly three years now - yet I am still his 'new Dad'.

Oh well - at least I am his Dad!

And this morning I heard the best thing - he was getting ready for school and singing a Christmas Carol, 'Away in a Manger' - it was the most beautiful thing I have heard... finally he is getting into Christmas....

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Tom Daley, kids and school...

So Tom Daley has announced that he was in a relationship with another man yesterday. Good on him.

I have to be honest in saying that I was a little cynical - my belief was that Tom's confession was probably precipitated by a newspaper threat to out him - the youtube clip just seemed too well planned for me, mentioning  his book and tv documentary and his previous denials of being gay, plus throwing in a couple of mentions about his late father and bullying to ensure we were all completely sympathetic to his cause - it smacked of a publicity writer's hand (I know a few - no offence guys!). I also doubted whether or not this should have been 'Headline' news as shouted by the BBC lunchtime newsteam.

But.. I had a long conversation with some old friends via the social media site that is Facebook and soon came round to seeing that, despite all my own personal misgivings, Tom's 'outing' may actually be a good thing for young people everywhere and that regardless of the whys and hows of this story anything that brings these issues up in front of young people has to be a good thing.

A friend, who teaches at a post 16 college, pointed out that the performing arts centre is next to the sports hall and the level of abuse hurled by the sporting types to the performing arts students is horrendous. Another friend of mine has a teenage son who has also recently come out and her and her families acceptance of him and his partner has been humbling. My own mother flipped when as a teenager I even broached the subject of being gay and my own coming out story is long and protracted and ended up becoming incredibly public - albeit on a much smaller scale and in a foreign country, so I do sympathise with Tom about having your private life interfered with by the press - but this is not about me its about the boys.

In a blogpost I wrote last year, regarding IDAHO and school (incidentally the blog post that went a bit bonkers worldwide) I commented on how homophobia needs to be addressed at primary school level in order to avoid the very attitudes my friend is facing in his post 16 college. I hoped that had finally been addressed in the boy's school.

It hasn't.

Newsround, the BBC's news programme aimed specifically at children, ran a very sympathetic piece on Tom Daley - I was quite surprised that they did, but it was well done and it meant that the boys were able to understand and talk about what Tom had been through.

The Sprog is so much more open than his younger brother - he now attends a small independant school and everyone knows everyone else - they are very open and the Sprog is able to talk freely about his home life, being adopted, having two dads - all of that is run of the mill there.

TJ is still at the local primary and his friends are all members of the 'football' crowd - who are in real danger of turning into the post 16 crowd mentioned above.

As soon as TJ saw the story on TV he said; "Tom Daley is gay - that's gross." Those of you that read the article last year will remember that he said something similar then and we ended up in a long conversation about how Daddy and Papa are gay, two of his Godfathers are gay, we have gay friends - are they all 'gross'? But TJ still doesn't put the language of the school playground into context with his own life - and this is where school is at fault.

I have stood in school and heard children banding about the term 'gay' as if it means nothing more than 'rubbish'. I even heard a teacher telling a child, 'Please don't use that word - you know its not politically correct." She then looked over at me and nodded as if to say, 'See I told him off didn't I". Well, no actually you have given him permission to use it whenever he likes. I made the point that schools wouldn't allow racist langauge in school so why do they allow homophobic 'banter' - a point that the headteacher told me she 'took very seriously'. A point that the local council's anti bullying co-ordinator told me she 'took very seriously'... if everyone is taking my point very seriously then why don't they do anything about it.

So to Tom Daley, I say well done for 'coming out' - I'll keep that in inverted commas - but equally well done for raising this issue among young people - I could never have imagined even a few years ago that I would be sitting and listening to a 7 and 8 year old have a full on argument about whether being gay is gross or not.

I won't repeat what I said before but I will say here is still a lot of work to be done - especially in primary schools and if Tom Daley's story can kick start that then I take my hat off to him!!!!

Friday, 29 November 2013

New adopters?!

Today was our first presentation alongside Hackney, to promote adoption to prospective adopters.

Held at Papa's work it was much better attended than we thought.

The head of hackney child services gave a short presentation and after that it was literally a free for all question and answer session.

Papa did really well, despite his stinking cold, although I think he is still slightly jaded by some of our personal experiences with the adoption process. But the questions came thick and fast and I think we did ok. It still amazes me though how many myths there are around adoption. 

'Did we have to have an ongoing yearly check?"
"How do we know what problems the kids may have?"
"Can single people adopt?"

The answers were, no, we don't know everything and yes, in that order.

But then we heard that homophobia is still alive and well in the social services system. One gay couple were turned away because they were planning their wedding - which is ridiculous, you can't adopt because you have plans? 

It reminded me of the myriad of reasons why different social workers wouldn't take us on or didn't want to approve us with a match.... At one point we were told that the child in question may not cope with two dads.... So instead he can spend his life in care.... I don't think he was ever adopted as I saw his picture at a few conferences after.

When we chatted with the head of children's services afterwards she said that even though it was illegal to turn any prospective adopter away you couldn't always rely on the social worker who answers the phone. After all, those involved in adoption are usually older and many have their own prejudices... So to the couple turned away for the most ridiculous reason I have ever heard I say don't listen to them, don't give up... Adoption is amazing, once you get past social services... Call hackney... 
They are great! 

To those who have just joined the blog... Forgive me I am updating all the posts to now refer to the boys as the Sprog and TJ... I had a slight confusion where we thought the boys had been identified and I changed the Sprog into a girl... Which didn't work. I'll fix it!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Christmas is Coming and Daddy's Getting Fat....

Or thats what I overheard this morning.

For my birthday this year Papa renewed my gym membership on the basis that I actually go - which seems a bit unfair.

But I have been very good and my American trainer from Hell (just outside of Dallas, Texas) has me on an interval programme - at first I was very excited as I thought it meant I got to have a break between each exercise and I took my flask of coffee and a Mars bar with me for just such an occassion - but I soon found out that's not what she meant at all!!!

I have to 'run' (well walk quickly) for 5 minutes and then sprint (bloody run!) for 30seconds flat out - before doing it all again - repeating for 30minutes!

This is to get my metabolic rate back up to standard apparently. Then after that she takes me round various weights and machines shouting at me - luckily its in American so I choose to ignore it and pretend I don't understand - which just makes her madder. I have to be careful though as she plays women's rugby.

Anyway, the boys are fascinated by this new health kick and keep checking if I am actually losing any weight and have a six pack yet. (I don't)

So this morning as I was doing breakfast I overheard them chatting.

"If we are really nice to Daddy and Papa we will get more Christmas presents," says the Sprog.
"Really?" TJ pipes up.
"Yup - thats what my teacher told me in school. That we have to be good and be nice to people," the Sprog went on, "So I'm going to tell Daddy how much smaller his tummy is."

TJ thought about this for a minute.

"But that would be lying," he said, And its bad to lie."

"Some lies are ok," The Sprog went on, "If they make people feel better - they are called white lies."

"Oh Ok," TJ agreed.

I stood in the kitchen deflated, not only at the schools apparent encouragement of lying in my kids but the fact that I wasn't looking any thinner. (Yes, its all about me!)

Then TJ popped his head over the kitchen counter.

"Daddy," he said.

"Yes," I replied, knowing what was coming next.

"You know when Papa says we have to rub your tummy for good luck like the buddha statue upstairs?"

Well I didn't expect that - and this was the first I was hearing of this good luck 'rub'.

"Well we wont be able to do that soon." And he gave me a big grin.

So he does think I am getting thinner - well thats how I am interpreting it!!!!!!!!! TJ is definately getting what he wants this Christmas - as for the Sprog..... well....

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A Fear of Christmas...

Our youngest is beginning to panic...

He doesn't like Christmas. He just can't deal with it. It doesn't help that his birthday is also around the festive season.

School have told me he is becoming emotional and needy, crying all the time one minute then shouting the next. This morning I went in to find that he had been up most of the night eating blu tac... I know that as his posters simply fall off the wall. This is a sure sign that he is 'in a dark place.'

This is a throwback to his early days with us - where he would eat wall paper, blu tac - anything really that could fill the 'gap in his tummy' when he is lonely.

He isn't hungry, but he can't tell you why he needs to do this.

I sat him down this morning and we chatted about it before school. He sat in my lap, almost like a baby, and just lay there while we talked about Christmas and birthdays and... mummy... did I know she didn't feed him?

He has so few memories of his mum (I won't give herr the honour of having a capital letter), at least that's what we thought - but one thing he obviously does recall is the hunger - the hunger that led him and his brother to eat whatever was at hand.

I wonder if much of their time spent locked in a room was over the festive period - whilst the birth parents were out getting drunk and celebrating - their kids were locked in a room and forgotten about.

Its hard for school and other families to understand - after all, what child doesn't like Christmas and birthdays?.. But for TJ and the Sprog they are not associated with memories of fun and laughter... they are associated with drunkeness, domestic violence, starvation and being forgotten about - no wonder TJ dreads seeing the trees go up in shops or doesn't want to talk about 'what he wants for Christmas'.

The Sprog is coming through it - interesingly though he won't tell me anything that he wants as presents - but for him I think that is because that he simply doesn't think he is worth buying presents for - self esteem is such a big issue for him.

I don't want us to dread Christmas, as I know a lot of adoptive parents do from the various chat rooms etc, I want us to build our own traditions - so if our tree goes up later than everyone else's, or we don't make a huge fuss over toys and stuff then its not that we are being mean parents - we are just re-introducing Christmas to our children in a gentle way - so they can learn to love Christmas and know that it is a time of love and joy - not a time to fear....

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Return of Frank

The weekend has been an interesting one.

Last night TJ lost yet another tooth - that's six in two months - its costing us a fortune!

Which brings us to the issue of Frank (our over weight tooth fairy).

The Sprog, who is fast approaching his 9th birthday, proudly announced that he no longer believes in the tooth fairy and he knows for a 'fact' that it is Daddy... odd how its me and not Papa who gets called the fairy!

So last night TJ popped his tooth under his pillow and went to sleep and this morning came rushing upstairs to show me that Frank had been and left him a £1 coin... The sprog looked at him disdainfully then TJ said, "I know it was Frank because I saw him." to which I added, "That's odd because Frank normally pops his head round my bedroom door to say hi when he is visiting."

The Sprog was having none of it - 'There's no such thing as Frank." he shouted.

TJ simply looked at him and said, "Believe what you like - but at least I've got a pound!"

Sometimes our youngest son is very wise.

Oddly enough the eldest hasn't started to question Santa - well not publically anyway, my guess is he knows there is much more to lose and as he has pretty much lost all of his baby teeth the chances of Frank seeing im again were pretty slim anyway.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Telephones and Toilets

What it is with children and telephones?

Our youngest son, TJ, hates talking on the thing. To get him to chat to Granny takes an age and when he finally says something it usually takes two minutes and he is handing the phone back to me.

So yesterday, I popped into the littlest room in the house (not the kitchen cupboard) leaving TJ in the next room watching TV. I had no sooner sat down than the phone began to ring.


We have an answer phone so I thought it best to leave it and if it was important I could call them back.

But no.

Today was the day that TJ decided he would answer the phone. I heard the ringing stop abruptly and this little voice say, 'Hello - is that Granny?' - that shows how often anyone ever calls us on the landline.

It obviously wasn't Granny as the little man went on - "No, my Daddy isn't here - well, he is here, but he is on the toilet." (there are definately no secrets where kids are concerned.)

I now had to make the decision to either rush what I was doing or just leave it to TJ to sort it out. I opted for the latter.

TJ then went on to have a long conversation.

"No Daddy, could be a long time - he usually takes ages in the toilet - I can watch a whole Scooby Doo while he is in there." (What!!!!!!!!)

I was now hoping that this was someone trying to offer me a PPI insurance claim service or sell me a new kitchen.

TJ went on, "Papa says we can't go in there for ages after Daddy has been - Papa's poo smells of roses but Daddy's doesn't - thats what Papa says."

By now I was starting to laugh thinking of the poor PPI salesperson having to hear all this.

"I went in once after Daddy and I had to hold my nose - and I went it once after Papa and it didn't smell of roses to me. I don't have smelly poo but my big brother does."

There was then a silence and TJ said, "Ok, I'll tell him you will call back."

Definately a sales call I thought - if it was important they would have left a number.

So I finished what I was doing and took TJ over to collect his big brother from the school bus.

When I came back the phone rang again. I picked it up. "Hello," a lady said, "I called a few minutes ago and had a lovely chat with your son... this is Mrs Smith (our elder son's teacher) arranging next week's parent evening. Are you free to chat now?"

I could have died!

Next week is the Sprog's parent teacher evening and I will be meeting his new teachers for the first time... I am probably already the laughing stock of the staff room... Oh well - time it have a chat with the boys about telephone etiquette I guess.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Fish Finger Risotto

TJ is obsessed with food at the moment. Which is a good thing.

When he first came to us he wouldn't eat anything. He was a slow, fussy, picky eater who lived mainly on a diet of banana and cereal... oh and chocolate. He would live off chocolate if I let him.

It took us a year to get his diet sorted. We put everything out on the middle of the table, Singaporean style, and shared as a family. We only took what we wanted to eat and gradually TJ took more and more until now he will eat a full meal.

Once the children were back at school we went back to the Western way - serving individual plates of food - although we still share at weekends. This was mainly because with both boys at separate schools I spend much of the afternoon running around collecting one child from drama then another from the bus before doing homework, the Sprog gets half an hour of homework every night - which he is coping with really well - more on that later.

Well, then I feed them both and after that is done they have an hour of TV whilst I prepare mine and Papa's dinner before taking the boys up for their bath, bedtime, reading routine.

During this time Papa will get home from his job in the city, just in time to put the boys to bed whilst I cook our dinner.

The sprog loves routine and has slipped easily into this one. TJ has found the change a bit more difficult to get used to and I spent n hour this morning going over his meals for the week and then had to let him know what Papa and I were eating for the week.

Yesterday was fish fingers for the boys - with potatoes and peas naturally. Poor Sprog, he has school dinners provided within the school fees and yesterday his face fell when I placed his plate in front of him, 'What did you have for lunch?" I asked him... yes, you've guessed it, fish fingers, potatoes and peas... oops!

TJ wanted to know what Papa and I were having, 'bacon and leek risotto' I replied. TJ looked stunned... "You have that and you give us fish fingers!!!!!! I want risotto!"

I looked at him, "What is risotto?"I asked him.

Of course he didn't know but he wanted to know everything that was in it - so I took him through the recipe and the minute he saw it contained mascarpone cheese he stopped... "Mascarpone CHEESE," he said, sounding not unlike Wallace in Wallace and Gromit fame, "Cheese??? I'm not eating that."

The Sprog over heard and said, "Daddy's not your servant?" to which TJ replied, "I know that, he's my butler."

What? Where did he get that from - has he secretly been watching Downton?

Still he went back and tucked into his fish fingers and this morning he got up with me to make the bread - which he now wants for his tea, despite it being pasta night!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Back to School - well for one!

So the Sprog went back to school this morning.

I was so pleased with myself. All of his homework had been done and was now in a lovely neat plastic presentation folder. His uniform had been washed and ironed until it looked like new, I had even cleaned out his school bag. His pe kit was cleaned, pressed and placed in a newly cleaned pe bag. The shoes were polished and buffed until I could see my face in them and the Sprog had a lovely new haircut.

He stood at the front door waiting for the school bus looking like a million dollars - until I looked at his neck - and saw nothing... "Where's your tie?" I asked.

He shrugged, "I can't find it." he said.

"What? Why did you wait until now to tell me?" I hollered. It was now nearly 7.30 and th bus was on its way.

"I thought you might be angry," he said.

"Well, I am angry now!" I shouted, "Quick, upstairs. We'll look for it together."

And here came the big shock - intead of the usual mess that greets me when I open the Sprogs door there was a vision of tidiness.

And that was the reason for the lost tie. Yesterday, Papa had told the Srpog to clean his room and the child had duly obeyed. Only his version of tidying meant simply picking everything up off the floor and pushing it behind cupboards, into the wardrobe, under the bed - wherever it would fit.

So we began 'untidying' everything.

Then the bus arrived.

Itook him out to it and explained what had happened and asked the driver if he coul let the school know that I would look for the tie today.

The driver looked at me, "Going back to school always comes round too quickly," he said. I could have hit him.

Instead I smiled and said, "Well, at least thats the onl thing thats missing today."

The driver smiled back - obviously pitying the poor disorganised parent that I now was.

Still I have TJ at home with me today - his teachers have yet another staff training day, so I have one more day of being unable to do anything except entertain the youngster. Still it will be quite fun and at the moment he is doing a jigsaw puzzle - in a moment we are going to play "Let's find the Sprog's tie" that will be a fun game!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Trick or Treat?

So last night we headed out as usual. TJ had decided at the last minute that he didn't like the skeleton mask that went with his scary ninja (don't ask) so I rushed out and got face paints to paint the skull on him. The spog decided he was a werewolf, he is obsessed with the kids tv programme Wolfblood at the moment and needed additional 'blood' for his mask.

Once the kids were ready we sat and waited for Papa to come home as Halloween is always his thing with the boys.

The lead up during the day had been horrendous. Since starting his new school the sprog has been given a huge amount of homework in order to help him catch up with his peers. So Monday we did history, Tuesday we did English Comorehension, Weds was science (which being about animals we did at the zoo) and yesterday was Maths... He screamed, he cried, he shouted... He did everything except his maths... So I screamed and shouted and nearly cried too. In the end he did it... After four hours and immediately afterwards it was as if someone had set off a firework... He spiralled out of control...

So I decided I should go with them on the trick or treat trip.

Papa nearly sent me home. 

I'm not a huge fan of the 'holiday' - I guess because we didn't have it when I was young, well we had Halloween but not the trick or treat part... It was apple bobbing and scary stories in the scout hut... But that's another blog altogether!

Anyway, I set the rule that you only knock on decorated houses and knock only once. Within thirty seconds of receiving their first sweets this rule was forgotten and two small boys were tearing up the street knocking on everything whilst I shouted after them... They even knocked on the doors that said 'trick or treaters not welcome... Thank you' (at least the English are polite with their lack of a sense of humour). There were kids everywhere.... I finally got our two and pulled them back.

Papa accused me of stressing everyone out, "last year I just let them get on with it," he said, "whilst I had a quiet stroll - you are taking all the fun out of it and turning it into an organised ramble!"

I was not happy.

Nor was the old lady who came to the door shouting about 'the big kids who weren't even wearing costumes and were just expecting something for nothing'. After she finished her rant she looked down at our two stunned boys and said, " but you two are little so you can have a sweet!"

As we left TJ looked up at us and quietly said, "now she was scary!"

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tidyness and Tardiness

The Sprog is upset with out cleaner. Her sin?

She has tidied his room! How dare she! Now he can't find anything... apparently. Although to be honest how the cleaner found her way into his room is beyond me, I could barely see the floor!

Out cleaner is lovely, barking mad but lovely. She is Turkish and as regular readers know has a love for popular european music. This has rubbed off onto our youngest and TJ now insists that we play the latest hit 'tune's and wants to know what the number one song is on a daily basis.

I don't mind but whenever he plays one of the latest tracks from the hit parade I immediately turn into my parents and go on about what rubbish this is. The Sprog on the other hand has rifled through my CD collection and has 'borrowed' all my Michael Jackson albums. And this was the root of his problem with the cleaner as she had tidied the albums up and put them back where they belong, on my CD shelf.

Still I prefer him listening to MJ than having to listen to 1D (as I now call them-  see I'm down with the kids!).

I also seemed to channel my parents this morning when TJ decided he really didn't want to hurry to school. He dawdled, he played with his feet, he carefully munched on every single sodding cornflake as I got more and more harrassed. Didn't he know we were going to be late.

As we finally headed out the door he stopped and said, "Daddy, I need a poo!"

"What?!" I screamed - "Why now, why wait until we are leaving?"

"I don't know," he shrugged.

So I stood outside the bathroom door hurrying him along.

He eventually came out and we left for school. Except he fancied a long slow walk admiring the trees and commenting on the lovely day as I was screaming "Come on!" and dragging an unwilling dog behind me.

We got to the school gate just as they closed.

"Great," I said, "Now we have to walk all the way round to the front of the school and I have to sign you in at reception with all the other 'shamed' parents."

Did TJ care... no he did not. "What will they do if I am late?" he said, "They won't do anything." and off he dawdled.

As he did so the gate keeper saw us and returned to open the gate. "You are lucky," she said to TJ, "I saw you just in time."

TJ skipped into school.

"Isn't there an incentive to get them in on  time," I asked "Don't they get a punishment if they are late?"

"No," she said, "So many of them are late now we'd be filling out forms all day." and she walked off.

Now I turned into my Dad who hated being late - how will future generations like my own kids understand about punctuality if no-one teaches it at school? No wonder TJ doesn't give a monkey's if he is late or not - why should he? As I said to Papa when he called later - "There should be no reason for him to have to get up at 5am and make the 90 minute commute into London - he should go when he feels like it... Oh wait, except he'd get fired!"

Now I shall have a cup of tea and piece of delicious banana bread - made by me!

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Return of Frank

TJ lost another tooth this week. That leaves him with a huge gap in the front of his mouth which ensures he has a very cute lisp, although it also means that he seems to spray food everywhere - particularly toast crumbs which I have just spent half an hour clearing up.

However, as usual we had to put the tooth under his pillow for Frank the Fairy to come and collect it.

I may have told you this before but in order to avoid stereotypes of 'fairies' which may come up in school at some time (your Dads are fairies - something like that) then we decided that our fairy would be a burly bloke with tattoos and a shaved head. He wears a tutu and doc martin boots - in fact he closely seems to resemble a cross between Jo Brand and Phil Mitchell from Eastenders. The boys love him. They used to call him Fat Frank  but I soon put a stop to that and pointed out that since Frank had been to the gym and was watching the amount of fairy cakes that he ate that he had now slimmed down and was more muscular than fat.

So now when the boys envisage a fairy, it's Frank's image they see.

Unfortunately, this fat fairy (Dad) didn't have any money to put under the pillow and Papa only had notes in his wallet - I 'm not putting notes under there - despite the rising cost of everything else.

So I did the next best thing. I raided TJ's piggy bank and took out a lovely shiny gold pound coin.

TJ is currently saving up for a Skylander toy - we have told him if he saves up half then we will put the rest to it. I promised to put the pound back in the morning once I had some change.

So the next morning TJ arose and came running down the stairs clutching his new pound coin.

And here another problem came up.

If you have a child with 'additional' needs then you are aware that they see the world slightly differently and also remember everything.

"My coin has a dragon on it!" he said. "It will match the other coin with a dragon in my money box!"

Why didn't I check which coin I had taken out... Why??????

I told him to pop the money in his box and get ready for school. Luckily he didn't check the contents.

I rushed to the local shop after the school run and bought my milk and bits. At the counter I asked the sales lady to please give me a Welsh pound coin - the one with a dragon. She looked blank.

I explained to her the reason and she still looked blank. "He won't notice," she said.

"He will!"

So she and her colleagues kindly opened their tills and began looking for Welsh pound coins as the queue built up behind me - but there wasn't one! Not one! Why are they so rare?

So tonight I know that TJ will come home from school and start looking through his money box.

I think I will lay the blame on Frank and say that he swapped some coins around in the money box as he knew TJ likes dragons....

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

40 thousand words

Its weird when you are asked to write what is effectively your life story.

I think I've had a pretty interesting life but the adoption journey is what everyone seems to be most fascinated by.

So I'm writing about the time before we got the boys at the moment.

The three years from initial enquiry to placement and the problems in between. I still cant beleive it took us so long.

It also brings up a lot of emotional memories, particularly when wiritng about the children that we didn't get. The ones whom we lost out on to other families or because of other issues.

I haven't even reached the point where we found our two yet - but its already an emotional piece - I think because I have to be open with myself in order to be open with the reader - and thats tough. My 'mentor' (to use an X factor euphemism) has told me I have to write from the heart, find my voice and then just let it flow - 40 thousand words in and I'm exhausted emotionally. Apparently, if I can make myself cry then I'm doing a good job - well I've sobbed today!

Papa can't quite see how tiring writing is - I just sit at a desk all day but I am sitting at a desk pouring out my heart and I'm knackered!

I thnk I need a holiday - plus I'm getting blisters on my little typing fingers... but despite that I'm loving writing. Loving it!

The boys have been great. Its been parent's evenings this week and I've been called into Sprog's school - mainly to talk about his incredible progress - he is actually writing! and spelling! and his maths is really good!

I am amazed. I know for some parents its a a case of 'so what?" but for Sprog its a real achievement. Yes, he is still a couple of years behind his peers in reading but for the first time I could actually read his writing. I'm still in a state of shock - he's only been there 4 weeks! What was really nice though was to be praised as a parent. The Head said he was thrilled to see that I was working with the school. Apparently a lot of parents don't feel they have to do much with their kids as they are paying such huge fees. But as I pointed out, we are paying the fees to get Sprog the one to one attention he was so desperately lacking in his state school - and that really seems to be paying off.

There was an issue of Sprog 'bigging himself up' to his classmates - we put it down to the fact that he only gets TV for an hour a night, after homework and doesn't have computer games or access to the internet, apart from his Easyread programme - which is doing wonders. I thought the Head was going to shake my hand off. Where I think I'm being mean he thinks I'm doing all the right things. I don't know - only time will tell. But the Sprog needs some time to learn how to interact with other children - he is great at chatting with adults but has problems working alongside his peers - thats fairly common for children who have been in care I'm told.

Luckily TJ doesn't really like TV and will happily play football all day... even in the rain, which means he has a stinking cold - which he is happily passing around the family.

Tonight its the turn of TJ, its his parents evening - something tells me I might be in for as big a shock there - I hope its a happy one, I don't want any more emotional turmoil - not today anyway!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Entrepreneurial Spirit...

... Well the title would be a positive spin on today's happenings.

I was sorting out the eldest's school unifrom before school when out of his shorts pocket popped a gold pound coin.

Now my eldest is not the best at retaining money - usually as soon as it enters his grubby little mitt it is soon passed over to the local shopkeeper, either for sweets or stickers, or as was the case this week, a pair of novelty vampire fangs - which he keeps in his mouth all day - I even had to stop him trying to eat his spag bol with them last night.

So I knew something was up.

"Where did this come from," I asked him at the breakfast table.

I was given a plethora of explanations, "I found it on the floor at your birthday lunch,"

"No you didn't."

"I erm, had it left over from pocket money ages ago."


"I got it off TJ."

Now that wrang true.

Where the Sprog spends his money as soon as he gets it, TJ - whom the Sprog now 'lovingly' refers to as the Worm (I don't know why - blame Horrid Henry) hordes his - he is curently saving for a Skylander. We have a deal, if he can save half then I will top up the difference.

"Does TJ know you took it?" I asked, trying to avoid the 'stealing' word.

"Yes, I swapped it!" came the indignant reply.

"What did you swap it for?" I asked.

"You remember that hair grip I found on the floor of the school bus yesterday?"

I was silent.

"So you sold TJ a hair grip that you found on the floor of the school bus for a pound?"


"And he agreed to this?"

"He wanted the hair grip."

By now I was torn with admiration for the entrepreneurial skill of my eldest to acknowledging that he had in fact 'conned' his brother out of his pocket money.

"Give him back the pound," I said.

"Ok," came the sullen reply, "But I want my hair grip back."

"Fine." I said, "If TJ wants to buy hair grips he can buy loads of new ones with his pound."

Lecture over I took the Sprog to school.

TJ then woke up and the first thing he asked for was his hair grip.

"I've given it back to Sprog and put the pound back in our money box," I said.

"But I wanted a hair grip," he wailed, "Then I can look like a footballer."

That confused me until he went on, "Sprog told me that all real footballers wear hair grips - and I want to be a real footballer."

So Sprog had indeed conned his younger brother and apparently me!

I shall have to deal with that one later. Until then I am off to the supermarket to buy hair grips for our fottball mad son. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Mum Question... again!

So TJ asks me about his Mum again - only this time he waited until we were right outside the school gates before he decided to drop it into the conversation.

"Why do all the other children have a Mum?" he suddenly asked.

"You have got a Mum," I replied.

"No I haven't," he said, "I don't have a Mum."

Now after the last time this question was raised I have had a counselling session and one of the ways it was suggested to broach this was to encourage the idea that his birth mother 'didn't' look after him - rather than she 'wasn't able to look after him despite loving him very much' - which is social services preferred line. The argument now being played out is that as the children get older they should know that their birth family were perfectly capable of looking after them - they just didn't want to, choosing instead not to give up alcohol or drugs or whatever it is that they are into. Hopefully then the kids will realise that their coming into care was not their fault.

Recently, I wrote a 'contact letter' to the birth mother explaining how the boys were doing and how they would like to hear from her. We didn't get a reply. I can understand how difficult it can be for birth parents but  (in my opinion) it also shows an innate selfishness  in that she still places her emotional needs ahead of the boys. Maybe we will hear from her in the future, maybe not - but at least the boys will know that we tried to keep her informed. I was advised to keep copies of the letters we send so that, if in the future, they do look for her through facebook or whatever social media is around that they have the full truth and not her one sided version of it. I can hear it now, how she wanted to look after them but social services stole them etc etc etc. You only have to watch the plethora of TV shows encouraging people to look for their past families to see how easily this could be done.

So I said to TJ, "Yes, you do have a mum, but she didn't look after you properly and they had to find parents who could look after you and give you lots of love."

"You don't love me," he replied.

This would have shocked me a few weeks ago but now I realise it is just TJ's defence mechanism. I have turned this on its head. Now every night at bedtime, rather than simply throw away the "Love you loads - night night!" line - which is usually followed by an angry "will you go to sleep!" after an hour or so.

I now say to TJ, "I've got a secret to whisper in your ear." The first few times he loved it as he cuddled up and I whispered, "I love you very much."... But now he has gotten wise to it and when I say that I have a secret he shouts back, "I know what it is! ... I love you!"

"Oh, thank you," I reply, "I love you too."

"I don't mean that I love you," he shouts, "I mean that you love me!"

"Yes, you're right," I say, "I love you very much."

"Well, you might love me but I hate you!" That's his latest reply and one he shouted as he skipped through the school gate. The other parents looked surprised, I just shrugged. I don't think he really does hate me but he had to balance out the expression of love he has just made with an expression of hate - simply to ensure he is in control of his emotions.

After all love is a scary place. Even as adults we are scared to fall too much in love in case we lose it - so why should it be any different for children.

TJ does love us- of that I am sure - he just finds love a very scary place to be...

Monday, 30 September 2013

Droopy Drawers!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this weekend it was my birthday and those of us who remember the Bingo Halls of the 80's (I worked in one as a teenager) will recall that the shout from the floor when my number of years alive was called would have been 'All the 4's - Droopy Drawers'.

 I don't know how I even got to be this age - but it's still a lot of fun and life constantly surprises me.

Not as much as Papa and our friends (Furry and Fairy, our best friends and the boy's godparents) surprised me this weekend.

How they kept everything secret I don't know - even when I was driving into London I didn't know where we were going. We parked on the outskirts of London where my first surprise awaited - meeting Furry, Fairy and their two children whereupon we left our car and a taxi picked us up and we went into London. I had no clue where we were going but when we pulled up outside the Mandarin Oriental hotel I realised that we were heading to Heston Blumnthal's restaurant "Dinner" - reknowned for British Historically inspired food.

It was amazing. Papa had organised a private room (Tudor inspired) with our own waiter who took us throgh each course describing its historical originsn and how it had been 'updated' by Heston and his team of 55 chefs.

The kids had a great time. The Sprog had his first Hston steak and TJ had slow cooked chiken breat - which I was assured was yummy. Although he did get a bit grumpy because everyone was 'taking pictures of him' - actually it was the food that people were snapping. (I think TJ is like me and prefers to eat rather than take pictures of his food - hehe)

Whilst we had the famous Tipsy Cake for dessert - mine on a special Happy Birthday plate - the children had their own display with a chef showing them how to make Heston's ice cream frozen in Nitrogen - they picked flavours and toppings and then watched it being blasted in front of them. The kids will never settle for Sainsbury's raspberry ripple now.

We left stuffed full of amazing food and wine (although Papa's wallet was considerably less stuffed) and went back to my next surprise. Papa had rented a penthouse apartement over looking the city. We sat looking at the view drinking red wine whist the children sat in their room amazed by the fact they had a TV in there. (we don't allow that at home - so it was a treat for them as well.)

The surprises kept coming on Sunday.

After checking out we went for breakfast and then took the children to see a movie before we went for yet another culinary treat - this time Tom's Kitchen, I had my big 40 at his Chelsea restaurant so it was lovely to go to the lower key version at Canary Wharf. Amazing food again.

I returned home incredilby spolied, blessed by a beautiful family and friends and totally stuffed!!!!!!

Roll on 45! 

Friday, 27 September 2013


Before I even start I have to let you know that today's post is not a flagrant advertisement of my upcoming birthday (although cards and presents would not be rejected because of this) but it is about my eldest son's reaction to a birthday other than his own.

Last week Papa took both boys out to 'secretly' purchase my present - despite having a list of 'suggested' presents and Papa had suggested that the children donate their pocket money towards the cost.

TJ happily gave up his cash (I put it back into his piggy bank later) and chose a present that Papa then paid the difference for. The Sprog refused. He was not giving up his money. He decided he would make something.

Of course, I'm fine with that - but he hasn't actually done anything about it. As my big day draws closer I am enjoying reminding him that my birthday is this weekend.... TJ is desparate to give me his present - he keeps giving me clues, such as "It begins with a 'P" and "It can go on the wall." (no surprises there although I shall do my best 'surprised face in the morning) He is genuinely excited...

The Sprog sat at the breakfast table and simply said, "I didn't get you anything." I looked upset. "How sad. But have you made something - that would be nice."

"No, I don't want to," he said.

I looked sad... (I used Acting face number 17... Sad, with a hint of love)

"Well, its just a birthday," he said, "Its only another day."

"Ok, you are right," I replied, "I shall remember that on your birthday - we don't need presents or a party, its just another day. I like that idea - saves a lot of hassle and money."

He looked stunned.

"Not my birthday," he said, "That's my day."

"Just another day," I said...

"What about my birthday," piped up TJ.

"Would you like to keep celebrating birthdays?" I asked him.

"Yes," he replied, "I want a football."

"Then we will celebrate your birthday," I said, "And you can come to my party."

"I wanted to go to Legoland for my birthday," said the Sprog.

"I don't think so," I said, "after all it will just be another day."

He wasn't speaking to me when he got on the school bus this morning...

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Processed Foods and Naughty Kids...

I'd like to say I was offering you a link between the two... although I'm pretty sure that there is.

After all, there has to be a link between the type of food we feed our kids and their level of attentiveness etc. I recently read that fish oil supplements help dyselxic kids focus in class - so guess what the Sprog will be on next week.

Although his progress in his new school has been amazing. Full marks in spellings and yesterday he managed 12 maths wuestions completely unaided... and miraculously got them all correct!

TJ is also making progress and his reading has come on leaps and bounds despite his addtional needs.

So all good.

In fact on Monday evening after all this praise from school for both boys, Papa and I were exhausted, so rather than make dinner I went to the supermarket and purchased a Bistro Meal - main course, dessert and bottle of wine for a tenner. Well, it was a treat.

Halfway through tucking into his chicken en croute Papa suddenly stops eating and says to me "what's that?" He pointed to a small blue thing on his plate, neatly tucked between the meat and the pastry.

I took it out for him and unrolled a bright blue plaster, one of those ones that caterers use so they can spot them if they fall off.

I told him what it was - he went pale.

He decided not to finish it... but he did manage to eat the dessert. We left the wine for another night - not because we were worried it maybe infected with anything but simply because it was a school night and getting up to get the Sprog to his minibus by 7am is not funny if your head is fogged up.

It reminded me of a pre-made salad I purchased from another major supermarket where Every Little Helps... As I opened the salad a dead grasshopper landed on my plate.

I took the salad back to the shop whereby the manager said to me, "Well, at least you know it was fresh." He laughed at his own little joke. I was not amused, I gave him a hard stare - a stare that TJ has now perfected and gives to drivers who cuts us up on the roads. He refunded my money and gave me a replecement salad.

So the children had a good week up until yesterday when TJ decided he would like to be rude to his piano teacher - whom he normally loves. He didn't want to play, he 'didn't get it', he wanted to mess around and whenever she asked him to do anything he told her he didn't want to and finished the session by playing amazingly and then blowing a raspberry in her face telling her 'piano is easy'....

I went ballistic when I was told.

So he got a good telling off and then grounded.

This morning he was as good as gold and sat quietly in his room - too good... I went up to get him ready for school to find he had been colouring... all over his wardrobe. His brand new wardrobe was now coloured in blue ink!

Cue another telling off and then I passed him a cloth. "What's that for?" he asked. I expalined that he was now in charge of scrubbing his wardrobe clean... he wasn't pleased.

Thy are both at school now - thank goodness and I am going to take my wrath out on the supermarket where we are asked to try something new today - although a blue plaster wasn't what I had in mind!!!!!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Charity Begins at Home...

Well, so the saying says... unfortunately TJ had other ideas.

He came home from school clutching a pack that was to be coloured in and then constructed into a little house shaped box.

Instead of collecting food etc for the school's harvest festival, this year they will be collecting pennies for a charity that helps homeless children - a lovely thought.

So TJ and I duly put the box together and coloured it in. Then I explained that we could put it by the oor and drop any spare change into it.

"Why?" he asked. I explained what the box was for and the charity it would go to.

"Why, should I give money to children I don't know?" He asked.

I explained the concept of charity to him - helping those less fortunate etc.

He thought about this.

"Ok - well you can give your money but I'm not giving any of mine. If they want my money then they will have to do something for me first." I'm not sure he fully grasped the concept.

Then Papa came home, "Guess what guys?" he said handing them a fiver each, "I'm going to give you a bit extra pocket money this week - but its to buy Daddy a birthday present?"

"Why?" asked TJ.

"Because Daddy looks after you and cleans and cooks and because isn't it nice to do something on his birthday,"said Papa.

"Daddy likes cooking so he doesn't need any presents!" came the reply.

"Yes," the elder Sprog joined in, "Thanks for the extra money but I'm not spending my money on Daddy - I want sweets and some Skylanders cards."

Papa got a bit annoyed, "I'm giving you extra money for the present," he said.

"I'll make the present," Sprog explained, "Then I can keep the money, ok?"

I told Papa it really didn't matter I would prefer a present the kids had made than some tat from the Pound Store that would end up in a cupboard.

Papa looked at me. "I've already given them the cash," he explained, 'How will they understand the concept of money?"

"I think they understand it perfectly," I replied as I watched TJ raid the penny box and pocket the cash I had just put into it.


Friday, 20 September 2013

Life Goes On...

That's been my motto this week - for both kids and for Papa.

The kids have both settled back into the school routine - which also means that the novelty of being back at school has worn off.

Yesterday I spent most of the morning dealing with issues.

Firstly, the eldest sprog wouldn't get out of bed. Now I appreciate that it's an early start but I ended up in the room singing 'Good Morning!' from 'Singing in the Rain,' at the top of my voice until eventually a little voice peeped out from under the covers.

"If I get out of bed will you stop singing?"

"That's the idea," I reassured them.

"Ok, OK, I'm up!"

Sure enough it did the trick and we managed to get breakfast out of the way before the mini bus arrived.

Although to be fair, the homework from Sprog's new school is massive - The sprog gets some every night and it is a sudden change, in the old school (TJ's current school) they only get homework once a week - but we have been fitting it into our routine. Home at 4.30, homework done by 5. Then dinner before some TV before baths etc.

I have noticed though how much more focused the sprog has become - previously, I hate to say it, but they had used their 'problem' to become lazy - even getting other people to write the work out. That's all changed! What was great was that at Sprog's drama lesson last night the impossibly cheerful drama teacher stopped me to say that she didn't know what had happened but Sprog's new school was obviously working. Sprog was now focussed, polite and aware of the others in the group - its early days but that was great to hear!

TJ has noticed that as well, so his manners have fallen off a cliff... sigh...  However, he got all his homework out of the way and was off playing on the wii... but I re-instated extra for him - his handwriting is awful and yesterday I discovered that he didn't even know his full alphabet - I was appalled, how had I missed that? We had been so busy concentrating on the eldest and the problems that I think I may have missed the younger - who doesn't have the same issues but is just as lazy! (I think its an age thing rather than a genetic disorder - I hope so) But thats the problem with adoption, you don't really know how the parents coped in school - well, we know a bit.. but not enough to fill in the gaps - if that makes sense.

Anyway, Sprog was dispatched and I went to get TJ up - he got up, had his breakfast but then refused to get dressed. I ended up having an argument with a 7 year old who was sitting stark naked, except for his socks, refusing to go to scohool.

"I will take you to school naked!" I told him.
"You won't," he said.

We had reached the front door when he realised I was serious.

"People will see me" he cried
"Its up to you - the choice is yours but you are going to school." I said

The uniform was on in two minutes.

Papa came home in the evening.

"Can you do the kids this evening, please?" I asked. "They haven't been naughty - they've just been kids."

So Papa handled the children for me whilst I made supper and poured a gin!

But as Papa says, we have to do it all again next week - life goes on!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Wrong Trousers...

Yesterday I received a package through the door.

I say 'I' as the package wasn't actually addressed to anyone - it just had our address on it.

But as I was at home I decided that it would be rude not to open it - besides it will be my birthday in a couple of weeks - so it may have been a present (or that was my logic)

I opened the package and out fell a pair of black trousers.

That was it. No note, no explanation.... just a pair of men's black trousers.

Now, I knew they weren't mine, despite my poor memory I would hope to think that I could recall losing trousers - besides they weren't jeans so they definitely weren't mine!

They obviously didn't belong to the boys, which left me with one option.... Papa!

I spent the day going over Papa's obvious infidelities. A spurned lover had obviously returned his trousers. Or it was a current lover that wanted me to know about the illicit affair and had therefore posted a pair of Papa's trousers for me to find and him to explain. This would lead to his admission of guilt and love for the other man and he would be in tears as I cut up the rest of his suits and threw them on the front step before calling the divorce lawyer... I really have to stop watching Coronation Street! ( I think Eastenders would have made a funnier tagline there but no gay man watches Eastenders whereas Corrie....)

By lunch time I was practically tearing my hair out... well, Bargain Hunt was on and the stupid couple had gone for an over priced piece of Moorcroft! Why! Why? Why!

Papa sent a message - "I've just been winked at by a guy in my office - still got it!" I counter texted by telling him the guy probably had a twitch, or something in his eye - who says romance is dead!

I then asked him about the trousers... silence...

"I don't know what you are talking about." came the reply. "Check the size - they might have gone to the wrong address."

I did just that and there under the label was a name - neatly stitched in. It was our nephew, the one from Singapore who went to posh boarding school. But why had his trousers come to our house.

I went onto Facebook. Nephew is now back home and about to go into the army to do his national service, although why Singapore bothers is beyond me. If anyone wanted to do the city state harm they would simply turn off the water. After all a country with no natural resources is kind of reliant on its neighbours, but on the upside it does produce a lot of handsome, muscular young men - which I'm sure keeps the pink pound rolling in. Singapore may not be exactly tolerant of gay people, but if they are spending money then I'm sure that the Singapore government will forgive anything.

Mind you they have a lot of work making a muscular young man out of the nephew. He does like his food, particularly michelin starred food - which tends to be on the rich side - in both senses of the word! (I'm sure he'll forgive me for saying that - and I know he will have a great time and probably come out of the army in great shape - his Uncle definitely did! Well, actually he didn't as he was a storesman, but dont tell the kids - they think he was a war hero!)

Anyway, the riddle of the trousers was solved. Although now there was another issue.

"Why do we have your trousers?" I asked nephew.

"I took them off in my 'friends' car after a party," came the reply.

I laughed. Papa didn't. "What was he doing taking his trousers off?" Papa screamed when I told him. "He was probably just changing." I said. "He had better have been, we were supposed to be his guardians!"

I tried to explain that nephew was already an adult and in the army now - surely if he wanted to take his trousers off, for whatever reason, that was his business.

"Not when he is under my guardianship" came the Draconian reply. "What's my sister going to say?"

I let it lie...

God help our kids when they get old enough to leave their clothes in other peoples cars....

Actually, yes! God help them...

Monday, 16 September 2013

Getting Ready for Winter...

Yes it seems to be that time of year again and Lea was very concerned about what we were going to do about her rabbit, Ginger, now the weather is getting colder.

Papa has decided that neither Ginger, nor TJ's guinea pig, are to go back into the garage as last time they escaped and destroyed most of his nicely stacked cardboard boxes and led us to believe we had rats.

Now the garage is cleared out and paper boxes have been replaced with nice see through plastic ones, so we can clearly see the stuff we have never used for years and which Papa still refuses to either throw away or give to charity.

So we decided the pets were to stay in the garden and therefore we went up to the local pet shop to look for covers to go over the hutches and keep the little rodents warm.

Papa took one look at the prices and decided the animals could freeze to death!

This provoked much hysteria from the children so he decided that he could make the covers much more cheaply from a piece of tarpaulin. So our next stop was the local DIY superstore where we found a huge piece of waterproof tarpaulin which was quickly purchased and brought home ready for the transformation into a hutch cover - it was like living our own episdoe of the kids TV programme Blue Peter!

Papa and the children measured the hutches and soon set down to work cutting and sticking and velcroing bits together. I say children but within abot 10 minutes TJ was bored and had sneaked upstairs to play on the wii and Lea had managed to 'pop to her room' for a minute and was never seen again. I later found her on her bed listening to Michael Jackson cd's (CD's that had been 'borrowed' from my collecion I hasten to add!)

So Papa was left cutting and sticking and swearing (well, the kids weren't around so he could) while I washed and ironed all of Lea's clothes - this fancy private school requires PE kits to be washed and ironed every week! Not like TJ's state school where the kit comes home at the end of the term and practically walks into the washing machine by itself!

So Papa and I go on with everything. I cleaned shoes, made lunches, baked a cake and some muffins (I really am Martha Stewart) Papa placed the new hutch ocvers over the animals homes with the satisfied cry of "£25 - thats all it cost £25, stick that major pet store!" He was very pleased.

"Kids', I shouted up the stairs, "Come and see the brilliant hutch covers that Papa has made!"

Needless to say they didn't come and later that evening I found all my beautifully ironed PE kit simply shoved into Lea's sports bag... great!

So Sunday, being the day of rest, saw Papa and I at our busiest whilst the chidlren enjoyed their much needed relaxation... Just wait until next week!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Surprise, Surprise!

This post isn't about the plethora of old TV shows that ITV seem to be reviving to save their Saturday Night TV slots (Surprise Surprise, Through the Keyhole, Family Fortunes - its like 1989 all over again!!!!!!)

This post is about secrets and my eldest daughter's inability to keep them and my youngest's way of dealing with interrogation!

TJ's best friend's birthday is on the same day as mine - no problems there, TJ was invited to his friends party, which was in the afternoon and I then planned an evening dinner out for all the family.

However, Papa found out and told me that I would have to let the best friend's mum know that TJ couldn't go as he had planned a 'surprise' day trip... But he wouldn't tell me anymore...

Obviously, TJ was very upset by missing his best friend's party so Papa agreed to let him in on the secret... He was very careful not to let Lea know too much as she simply cannot resist telling everybody everything - this was noticable when we went out anywhere over the summer - I'm not sure that the lady on the ticketing counter at Chessington was really enthralled by her retelling of her entire life history - I think she may actually have been traumatised and was in need of counselling by the time he had finished. She looked visibly shaken as Lea took the ticket, gave her a grin and skipped off.

So, this morning, once Lea was on the bus to school I turned my attention to TJ and grilled him over his toast - I gave him double chocolate on toast - just to ease the vocal wheels.

"What's going on for my birthday?' I asked.
"I can't tell you," TJ replied, "But we are going to your favourite place!"
"Are we?" I was intrigued. "I wonder where that place is?"
"Its somewhere you love going!"
"Is it?" By now I as getting a bit excited.

He then clammed up.

"Would you like more juice?" I asked sweetly pouring him his favourite grape juice.

"Yes please," he replied politely... I sat watching him and smiling...

"Ok, I'll tell you." he said, then added, "but I want chips for dinner."

"Alright," I gave in. My curiosity was too much...

"We're going to..." He paused as if he was hosting a reality TV show...
"We're going to.... Sainsburys!"

He then fell off his chair laughing "Because that's your favourite place!!!!!"

I laughed with him.... but if he thinks he is having chips tonight he has another think coming!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Homework Blues

Both kids came back with homework tonight and I suddenly realised how difficult it is to juggle two set of homework.

TJ had reading and the Sprog had maths. 
Luckily, Sprog is now at one of those 'traditional' schools where I can understand how they work out the answers, which helps when it comes to homework.

He had 20 questions to do and we did the first 10 together. Once he was sure how the equation worked I moved onto reading with TJ. 'Are you sure you are ok?' I asked the Sprog. "I know what I'm doing," came the reply, " you go and help TJ."
Such a lovely child....

So I read with TJ and then went back to Sprog to find he had finished all the questions. I was so proud I could have cried. 

Then I noticed he had missed a question. "You had better do that one," I said. 
"You go and check on TJ while I do it," came the reply...

Alarm bells went off...

"Don't worry," I said, " why don't you show me how you do it."
"Go on..."

Suddenly there were tears. " I am too tired," he cried, "too tired!"I decided not to argue and let it go...

It was later that evening that I looked under the sofa and there hidden away sat a small calculator... 

Monday, 9 September 2013



What a way to start a new week.

TJ has gone back to absolutely defying me in every aspect. I just can't seem to get anything right.

He went to school today and was fine this morning but since he has come home he has been a nightmare.

Even walking back he was angry. He didn't care if it was raining, he didn't care his coat wasn't done up. His hands were cold - which was obviously my fault. He got home soaked and then stood in the doorway and blamed me for his being wet through.

I took him upstairs to change - but he refused to undo his shirt buttons. I had to do them as his shirt was too wet and his hands were too cold.

Thne he threw his lunchbox at me, followed by his schoolbag.

I picked up his tie from the floor. The same tie that Lea had used last year but now it had been ripped apart - completely destroyed.

"How did this happen?' I demanded. I was met with the infuriatingly annoying 'shrug of the shoulders'.

"I want to know how this happened!" I was getting angry but trying to remain patient.

"I was someone in after school club," came the reply.

"You haven't been to after school club! You are at home!" I think even the logic of this had escaped him.

"Then it happened when I took it off.'

"How, how can simply taking off your tie rip it up?" I was trying my best to stay calm.

"I don't know - its just a rubbish tie."

I know the adoption counsellors are screaming 'attachment' at me and telling me he is angry with himself and I know that he wants me to shout at him, that he wants me to get so angry I could spank him (I don't) but he seems to want to push me there at the moment. I also know that for him this will vindicate everything he knows about 'parents' - they get cross and are mean to their children - and at the same time this will re-inforce his own low self esteem and feelings that he is only worthy to be shouted at.

I know all that - so why do I still want to put him over my knee? After all it didn't do me any harm... or did it? I guess the jury is out.

So I have sent him to practise his piano, then we will do his reading... but there will be no TV or computer games and if we can't mend his tie then he will be buying a new one tomorrow with his pocket money.

Perhaps if he keeps getting into trouble I can keep sending him into his room with only his piano for company. In years to come he will be on TV after starring in the Last Night of The Proms - bemoaning his awful parents who made him practise whenever he was naughty... and how the only good thing that came out of his life was his piano playing career. (I watched the Liberace movie the other week - the parallels are there!)

Mind you, on Saturday instead of watching 'X Factor' TJ actually did want to watch the Proms and sat through it all asking what the different instruments were and who was playing what - that was quite something to watch and I thought we had bonded a bit... oh well...

So he is playing waltz on his keyboard and the logical 'consequences' side of my brain have been satisfied... but the emotional 'angry' side of my brain also needs placating.... so rather than 'getting the strap out (as my Dad often threatened but never did) I have made a cup of tea and am telling you!

This isnt a blog - its therapy!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Food, Glorious, Food?

This morning opened ominously...

It began like this... Papa turned over in bed and said, "you won't be offended if I say something, will you?"
As soon as your partner says that you know you are going to be massively upset... 
"Go on," I replied.
"Promise you won't get offended."
"Just say it!" I said.
"Ok, but erm... Are you planning on losing weight?" 
I was now bloody offended... But couldn't show it... 
"Of course I am," I replied... And then rolled over to begin my morning filled with self loathing and bitterness about the young beautiful me that no longer existed... It was enough to make me reach for a bacon roll... I didn't, I made a full English breakfast instead... 

This obsession with food all began with Nigel Slater and his daily tv show about cooking with whatever is left in your fridge... By Friday he was showing us the delicious baguette stuffed with left over lamb and almonds and whatever fancy stuff he had in his well stocked fridge. I kind of lost it with the tv... And when Papa came in from work it was to see me standing with the fridge door open shouting, 'look at my fridge! Show me what bloody delicacy you can make from that..." I was revealing to Nigel the entire contents of our fridge which consisted of a half eaten tub of Philadelphia cheese (with chives) and a bottle of wine.
Obviously Nigel Slater doesn't live with two small gannets, I mean children, who simply vacuum everything that isolated in front of them!

So Papa ordered a take away while I opened the wine. I always think fish and chips should be washed down with a good Sauvignon...

Yesterday was The Saturday Supermarket run... And I was going to stock up my fridge fully for the entire week, just as Nigel suggests.... It was a lot of fun planning meals for the entire week and shopping fully prepared, without running the risk of throwing stuff into the trolley just because the kids 'absolutely need it' or its their 'favourite!'

How the hell did you spend £200!" Said Papa at the till... Mind you he was clutching a Superman dress up outfit and a computer game... Never take children shopping on a Saturday with an easily swayed Papa... "It's the cost of food," I told him, ignoring his extra purchases...

Obviously, it's all my fault....  I am eating too much and spending too much money... So the idea of my diet will serve two functions... A thinner, less angry me and a reduced food bill.... 

Until then I shall practice my "of course I'm not offended' face..... 

Friday, 6 September 2013

That movie... you know the one... It has Sandra Bullock in it... no not Speed or Speed 2!

Wierdly, I have actually finished my manuscript - or the first draft anyway of my book based on the blog.

I seem to have been working on it forever and by yesterday I was so sick of editing it that I was beginning to hate it.

Which is when Papa said, 'Right, that's it, tomorrow I'm posting it to your agent!"

He has just called me to tell me its now gone.

I can't change anymore at this point. Its kind of liberating but now I want to do something else.

So I went shopping to take my mind off it.

It didn't.

I spent the whole time wondering if anyone would like it - had I written too much or too little. Had I added in enough new material or relied too much on material thats here already...

Only time will tell.

Although today was an interesting day.

I now know how Sandra Bullock felt in that film where she loses her identity (I can't remember what it was called). I took my car in for a service today to be told they had no paperwork or record of my booking it in - I know I did - then they said they had no courtesy car for me! I was about to kick up a stink as I had places to go (shopping being one), but they hurriedly found me a powder blue VW Beetle - I think it might have been the receptionist's own car as it was full of hair grips and sweet wrappers.

Then I toddled off to Bluewater to the Apple store where I had booked in for someone to have a look at my iphone as the camera wasnt working it is now - I fixed it! By turning it off and on again) But once there I was told that they had no record of my appointment....

So I went and had an anonymous coffee... and with both kids out until way after 5 I was happy to enjoy the peace and quiet of a packed shopping centre and just watch the world go by...

Now how long will it take my agent to read my book and call me to tell me what he thinks!!!!!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Back to School

Yes, the little darlings are finally back at school.

Only this time they are taking part in our social experiment. One going to an independant secondary school and one staying at the local primary.

However, this means that the school run, which used to be a 5 minute walk across the road now takes all morning.

But this morning we got into the routine that I think will work. I'm up at 6 to get myself sorted out, then Lea is up at 7am and out of the house by 7.30am - there is a minibus that picks her up and she is the first one on. I thought that would cause a problem, but she likes it as she gets to choose where to sit. As soon as Lea has left I make a cup of tea and the get TJ up at 8am - then its back out of the house at 8.30 for his school start.

Of course, Papa will tell us we are having a lie in as he leaves the house just before 6 to make the commute up to London - I'm still negotiating a cup of tea in bed before he leaves - that hasn't happened yet!

This morning the 5minute walk to school took nearly 20minute as TJ wanted to stop and look at everything and... amazingly... chat... with me! Previously, he and Lea used to race ahead and I would be left bringing up the rear dragging the dog behind me. But no, now he wanted to talk to me - tell me about his friends and his day. It was lovely, I was enjoying it so much he was nearly late! Then the most incredible thing happened... TJ gave me a kiss before going into school. The very same child who a few days ago tried to kill me - now gave me a kiss and wave and raced into school.

Last night when the bus dropped Lea off she and TJ spent 30minutes playing a game together and telling each other about their day at school. It was just so calm...

Maybe this secondary school business will work out after all!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Death by Attachment...

Today marked the Sprog's first day in his posh private school.

Sprog was very excited about today - but also obviously anxious, the usual pre-school sleepless night, for both him and me, followed by an early rise - when I got up he had already arranged his school uniform on his bed and was planning his breakfast. He wasn't sure if he would need his PE kit  - so he decided to take everything and bring home what wasn't needed. As TJ was off school today I was able to run him to his new school and will pick him up later - He can start taking the mini bus tomorrow, hopefully, he will then know some of the other children on it and they'll have a great trip into school.

TJ was also anxious. This time about being by himself. And he took it out on me!

We had a lovely morning playing games, making a cake and then we decided to take the dog for a walk and TJ took his bicycle. The bike is admittedly too small for him, but he won't let us change it - he refuses to ride anything bigger just yet - which turned out to be a blessing for me.

He was cycling away and the dog was wheezing beside me - I'm sure she is asthmatic and she has just celebrated her 9th birthday.

Suddenly I had to stop - as my youngest child pedalled full throttle directly at me and tried to run me over. He pulled away at the last minute, laughing maniacally. Then he turned round and did it again, this time running right into my right ankle - which hurt... a lot!

Think of Chuckie, the evil monster doll from the 80's movie Child's Play and you have the right picture. He saw that I was hurt and then ... tried to do it again. This time I grabbed the bike. "What are you doing?" I yelled. "I want to kill you!" came the reply.

I was stunned.

If you have ever seen the TV show Family Guy - I now knew exactly how the mother, Lois, must feel everytime her 'baby boy' Stewie tries to kill her (although admittedly its a lot funnier on tv - in a cartoon!)

Stewie obviously has attachment issues - as indeed does TJ. Attachment Theory is based on the idea that most mammals - like dogs - get attached to their parent or owner - they know where they are, they feel safe when they are around, they respond to boundaries and grow in a nurturing environment. This is also true of children - but especially for those who have had traumatic early starts and haven't been able to attach - firstly to their mother and then to the serious of foster carers and eventually the adoptive parents. There is a lot of talk in adoption about attachment and, I have to admit, I dismiss quite a bit of it as it can make sweeping generalisations....

But there is an obsession with death that is tied into attachment and boy does TJ have it - with TJ it focuses on super heroes and killing bad people - usually as gruesomely as possible - but that's understandable and come from a lack of self esteem and feeling powerless - as a super hero TJ can control his environment and stop all the bad things from happening to him. However, sometimes TJ aims his obsession at me - always at me. He wants me to die - he tells me daily and then tells me what items of mine he will have once I am dead. This is not said in a malicious way - just matter of fact.

But today was the first day he actually tried to kill me.

Despite the pain in my leg, I didn't get cross - I didn't shout - I think I was too stunned. I just said, "What would you do if I was dead?" "I'd be happy." he replied as he cycled off.

Now again I can think of a couple of reasons why this would be - the analysts would probably say that he is afraid to love us - so rather than risk loving us he wants to see push me away by telling me horrible things and as he gets closer to loving both Papa and I so he has to find more and more nasty ways to push us away.

The other part of me thinks he genuinely hates me - at least for today - because I have done the one thing that no-one, not his birth family, not social services, no-one has ever done... I have separated him from his brother and that terrifies him. He and the Sprog have been through everything together - Sprog parented him when his birth parents were unable, or incapable, The Sprog held his hand (metaphorically), as they went from foster carer to foster carer and was with him throughout his adoption journey to us.

Hopefully separate schools will hopefully help them grow as individuals and, although TJ will hate me for a while it should prove beneficial in the long run. I think the Sprog is grateful for the break - to have the resonsibilibty of looking after TJ removed from him.

So when we got home I asked him how he was going to cope if I was dead - I kept it practical, "Who will cook your food?" "I'll eat crisps," came the reply. "Who'll wash your clothes and clean up?" "I'll learn," he said.

I could see this was going nowhere so I decided I would simply no longer do anything for him.

"Can I have a drink?" he asked a little later.

"Get it yourself," I said.

"But I can't reach the cups."

"Not my problem - you don't need me remember?"

He thought about it then went and got his school water bottle and filled it from the sink.

Then he wanted lunch. But after having no joy from me he eventually took an apple from the fruit bowl.

Finally, he said, "Can we play a game now?"

"Why should I play with you?" I asked, "You don't like me - you wanted to kill me, remember?"

"Not really," he said softly. "I wouldn't do it really."

"OK, then" I said, "You say sorry and I'll make you a sandwich and we can play a game."

He looked at me and softly apologised before climbing into my lap and crying.

Since then we have had a lovely day - but I'm putting the kitchen knives way out of his reach!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 2 September 2013

All Quiet on the Home Front....

This is bizarre...

Both kids are still at home - its the last day of the summer holidays for The Sprog and TJ goes back on Wednesday... so my expectation was that today, being their last day off together, would be chaotic.

It's not....

They are playing nicely on the rug - building lego and I am able to sit down and write - this would have been unthinkable even yesterday... maybe they are in a state of shock about school re-starting, or maybe they think if they are really good then I won't actually send them preferring them to be at home with me...

Either way, I am looking forward to getting the routine back into our lives.

All children need a routine - it keeps them safe, lets them know tht the grown ups are incharge, but for adopted children, particulalry those who were adopted at an older age, this is so important. We have first hand experience of both children when they go 'off book' (as we call it). Sprog spirals out of control - usually getting massively over excited about everything... and I mean everything, even a change in her bedtime sends him off kilter. TJ gets anxious and needs constant reassurance - this usually takes the form of countless questions ranging from 'whats for dinner?' to 'what time is it now?' - every five minutes.

Needless to say holidays are hard work - both kids need to know what is happening from day to day and even when they wake up - they need to know what they will be doing and in what order.

In a way we have instated our own 'holiday routine' - we get up, have breakfast, take the dog for a walk, do some homework then lunch and then leave the afternoons for whatever activity they want to do. So to see them spontaneously sitting down and playing together quietly, with no parental instigation is quite strange.

Oddly enough TJ has just looked up at me and asked 'Why is it so quiet?"

I just told him to go back to his game - I may even have a cheeky cup of tea....

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...