Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hooray for Sports Camp!

'Hooray for Sports Camp!'

That was the cry that went out this morning as the boys got ready to head off to the local primary school to attend a two day half term sports camp. Only the cry came from me. The boys did not want to go...

I was stunned.

They had spent the past three days sitting inside and moaning about ... well, about everything. The weather has been horrible so we haven't been able to go out and do anything we had planned. Throw a bored elderly dog and a hyperactive puppy into the mix and you have a recipe for an incredibly stressful few days. Stressful for all of us.

We did the craft and the colouring and the obligatory jigsaws and the entertainment pack. In the end I resorted to TV to keep them amused. I know thousands of parents the world over have just judged me - I don't care - I needed a break and so did they - TV gave them that. We don't have satellite or cable, just the free to air channels - so they sat watching cartoons, with lengthy commercial breaks that gave them enough time to fight in between.

So I booked them into sports camp. I thought they would be thrilled. They weren't.

KC was on his best behaviour. "What's going on?" I asked him as he helped clear away the breakfast things. ""I'm being good so you don't send me to camp," he said. "You will love it once you are there," I told him. "But I want to stay home and watch TV and play my DS all day. I'll be so quiet you wont even notice I'm here," he promised.

Whilst it's nice to know they want to stay at home, this dad was not for turning. "I've paid for it now," I explained, "And anyway you need to go and run around."

"Do I have to have a packed lunch?" TJ asked, "I don't like packed lunches."

This was the first I was hearing of this - from the sandwich king of the universe.

"Think of it as a picnic," I said.

"What if it rains?" came the smart Alec reply.

"Then its a picnic indoors!" I retorted.

We went. They dawdled. Then when they saw their friends, who's parents had all obviously given up, just like me, they raced ahead and ran into the school hall leaving me clutching two dogs and a packed lunch. I handed the packed lunch in and left without even a goodbye from the boys. At least they were happy.

Mind you, yesterday, TJ went to his piano leson and, with KC watching, he played his first duet with his piano teacher - with mixed chords and everything. I was so proud I can tell you I shed a tear. He finished and he was so happy and proud of himself. Even KC gave him a round of applause.

As we left KC turned to me and said, "Can I learn to play a musical instrument, like a guitar? Then TJ and I can start our own pop group?"

"Sure," I said and promised I would look into it - which I will, after all I am a firm beleiver that music is therapeutic and who knows, one day I may be watching them receive their first gold disc!

Friday, 23 May 2014

My "Get out of Jail' card.

I have injured my arm...

That sounds worse than it is.

I've actually damaged my tendon and it hurts.. a lot.

I had an appointment with the physiotherapist today who told me to 'stop using it.' She then taped it up.

This wouldn't be a problem except its my left arm... and I am left handed. It's now not fun.

Even typing this is taking longer than normal as I tap with my right hand and make loads of mistakes.

Papa has been sympathetic. I called to tell him earlier and he said, "It's a get out of jail free card for you, isn't it?"... that didn't sound very sympathetic at all did it?

It wasn't.

I suppose by this he means that because of my injury I won't be able to carry out my paternal duties over the bank holiday weekend (it's a long weekend here in the UK) and I will expect Papa to do it all.

So instead I sorted out the washing and the airing cupboard, made the pizza dough (Its pizza night) made a banana bread (thank you Angela May - best banana bread ever) and then sat down to do my revision - except that now my arm hurt... again.

I, of course, am a trooper. I don't share my pain with anyone (except you). I carry on in my role as a candle for the world (I took over where Princess Di left off) and i bear my pain with the upmost of fortitude... Did I tell you it's a lot of pain????

It's not really - its just annoying.

And I don't think I will be the only one it annoys this weekend. Papa and the boys may have to fend for themselves - well, partially.

Oh well, I'll let you know what happens.

Wish me luck!!!!!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Adventures with the puppy...

After the last post I decided to venture into an area a little less serious - that of our puppy.

She is growing and, unfortunately, she is also managing to jump even higher.

Yesterday I made a cake for the boys' tea, I placed it on the hob and turned around to close the oven door. When I turned back the puppy was already on the hob (which wasn't turned on) and eating her way into a freshly baked orange drizzle cake that must have been still close to the 180degrees that the oven was set to. She didn't seem bothered and despite my telling her off she just carried on eating.

Afterwards I surveyed the mess that was my bake off challenge and decided the best thing to do was cut the top third off, ice it and not say anything. So that's what I did. Except this being the age of social media I couldn't help but put a picture of the resulting mess up on Facebook - 153 hits later and hubby definately knew about the cake. Luckily the kids didn't and they tucked in with abandon after their evening meal.

After dinner I had to log onto to an online revision site for my upcoming exam in psychology - such fun! As I tried to listen to the lecturer and ignore the hundreds of 'chat messages' from fellow students who all wanted to be re-assured that they were indeed going to pass the exam despite having full time jobs and families, I also had to manage the puppy, who has decided she will never leave my side - or in this case my lap. Trying to type with a dog trying to leap onto you is not easy. Needless to say, I didn't take much part in the chat sessions but used the time to try and focus on the areas that need the most revision. This seemed to involve starting three weeks ago - oops!

I haven't taken a written exam since my schooldays, so I am pretty nervous but, apparently, with the right amount of revision I will be ok. Then why did they schedule the exam the day after half term? The poor boys will be spending their days at pony clubs and fottball camp whilst I try to revise.

I wonder whether the puppy can go with them?

This morning the puppy decided the boys' rabbit was her bestest friend in the world ever! The rabbit wasn't too sure, particularly when puppy managed to open rabbit's cage (I still don't know how) and had her head in the rabbit's dinner bowl (I spend a fortune on puppy food and I could easily have just shared the rabbit pellets). The rabbit wasn't too happy and hopped out and it all would have been fine if he then hadn't decided to run. The next five minutes were spent with the dog chasing the rabbit and me chasing the dog - the rabbit found a spot behind the garage and barracaded himself in. It took me twenty minutes of coaxing to get him to come out and pop him in his run (puppy safe!)

We have just come back from our walk and luckily she is worn out - as am I. Although I know it wont be for long!

Wish me luck!

Monday, 19 May 2014

My Son is Ashamed of Me...

My son is ashamed of me...

That took a lot to type. I've been wondering all morning whether to write this blog entry or not - I even went to the gym to mull it over whilst pounding the treadmill... and as I found out this weekend I really must be 'pounding' the treadmill.

Let me elaborate.

My eldest, KC, who is 9, went to a friend's party at the weekend, the friend's mum called and asked if I wouldn't mind helping out as she had invited an awful lot of children. I didn't mind, I explained that I would have TJ with me and she kindly offered for him to come to the party as well. KC wasn't too pleased when he heard, complaining that TJ goes to loads of parties (which is true) whereas KC goes to very few (also true) so why should TJ get to go to this one.

I explained the situation and that I was going to be helping out anyway and TJ would most likely stay with me for the entire party.

We left...

On the way there KC suddenly said, "When we get here can you tell everybody that you are my uncle and TJ is my cousin?"

I nearly drove the car straight into a tree I was so taken aback.

"What do you mean?" I asked, "What's wrong with people knowing I'm your dad and TJ is your brother?"

"I just don't want anyone to know my business," he replied.

I decided to leave it. "We'll talk about this when we get home." I said and we went to the party.

The party was chaos. The kids (30 of them) were off the wall and most of the parents, who had been drafted in to help, like me, stayed glued to the bar whilst myself, the boy's mother and an aunt ran around doing everything - even the party organisers were dreadful. But the kids had a good time, which I suppose is the main thing. Except that at the end of the party I saw KC behaving appallingly and ensuring that none of his friends would play with TJ. I appreciate sibling rivallry and all of that (I was no angel to my little brother) but KC was off the wall - jumping on things, climbing on stuff that was quite dangerous and being openly mean. I had never seen him behave like this before.

I told him to come inside, I wasn't going to tell him off in front of everyone. He looked sheepish, "There," I said, "Now everyone knows I'm your dad because I have just had to bring you in. You have two choices, you either stay and play nicely with your brother, or we go home now."

He opted to go home. So we said our thank you's and goodbyes and left.

Later that evening, whilst TJ watched TV, KC and I sat down with Papa to have a chat.

"Why didn't you want people to know that Dad is your dad?" Papa asked.

"Because I wanted to spare his feelings," KC said in an obviously rehearsed manner.

"Spare his feelings?" Papa asked. I just sat listening.

"Yes," KC went on, "I didn't want my friends to laugh at him because he is so fat."

At this point the bottom fell out of my world. I was stunned.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no slim Jim and since we had a family I have definately put on a bit, well, a lot of weight, but to hear that your own child is ashamed of you is dreadful.

He went on, "My friends all laugh at fat people and I didn't want them to laugh at Daddy."

"What about TJ," I asked, "Why did you pretend he was your cousin?"

"Because TJ is small and looks weird," came the shocking reply.

I was absolutely lost for words. We haven't explained TJ's disabilities to either boy yet, I'm thinking it may be time soon, I just need to pick the right time - it could crush TJ's self confidence, or it could empower him - I don't know which way the coin will fall yet.

TJ has a form of dwarfism, coupled with possible Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which effects his appearance - although to me he is gorgeous. Being on the autistic spectrum means he finds social gatherings difficult - but he tries really hard.

But at this point in time I was concerned with where all this was coming from KC. I decided to be honest with him.

"You're not worried about what people think of me, I said, "You are worried about what people will think of you - let's get that point sorted first. If you were worried about me then you would stand up to your friends and tell them you don't care how your Dad or your brother look, but by asking us to lie, then you were only protecting yourself. After all, would it have been ok for these 'friends' to laugh at me and TJ if we were your uncle and cousin."

He shook his head, knowing his argument was flawed.

"There's a boy at school who is fat," he went on, "And some other boys call him names."

"Do you call him names?" I asked.

"No,' came the reply, "But I don't say anything, I'm just glad it's not me."

"Not doing anything is as bad as taking part," I told him, "You have to help him, how would you feel if people laughed at you?"

"That's why I don't eat lunch," he said, "I don't want to get fat."

What??? He's not eating lunch??? He is 9!!!!!!

"I'm on a diet," he said.

We went on to talk about body shapes, different types of people, and the fact that he was an incredibly active little boy who didn't need to watch what he ate just yet. He doesn't have fizzy drinks, occassionally he has crisps and junk food is a treat. I told him all of these things and they seemed to get through to him.

This morning as we were getting ready for school he packed his snack box, "I'll just have two pieces of fruit today," he said.

Now I'm wondering if we got through to him at all.

Either way a call to the school is definately needed and I am back at the gym!

Friday, 16 May 2014


I can't beleive that its been a year since the last IDAHO - time flies, now, of course it's IDAHOT., the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

I was wracking my brains thinking of a topic to tie in with the themes of education and homophobia when Papa asked if I could write about a subject dear to his heart - the acceptance of family.

It all came about because one of his friends had been telling him about the fact that his son was gay and that he was now in a long term relationship. The father was concerned because he felt his son was going to miss out on so much of family life and, also, that he was never going to experience the joy of being a grandparent.

Over the past year or so, since they've been friends, the son has gone onto get engaged to his partner and the father has, through his friendship with Papa, seen that a gay relationship can still result in a happy family life - albeit a different one from the one he may have expected for his son. He is a regular reader of the blog and that in turn helped him to see that our family is really no different from any other - we just handle certain things creatively..

Papa then went on to talk about his own family. How in Chinese culture being gay is just something that is not talked about. He was open with his parents from a very young age but, I suppose, like many other parents, not just Asian ones, they were hoping it was just a phase or that he would eventually meet the right girl. Of course, he never did and when I came along his parents, and family, had to accept the fact that we were a couple and that they were probably never going to have grandchildren to carry on their family name. We soon changed that...

As society changes so attitudes change and Papa's parents welcome us all to the family home and accept their two 'ang moh' grandchildren as if they were their own flesh and blood. Indeed the boys both refer to the Asian cousins as 'Cousin...." and 'Cousin....' thus emphasising their role in their family lives. The boys recently had a vote on their favourite cousin (I overheard them) and the Little Prince won - mainly because he was a boy and serving in the Singapore Armed Forces (sorry little princess - but I'm sure it will change, and anyway at least you came second!)

My own parents were pretty ok about my 'coming out' - my Dad said it wasn't the best news he had all year, when I told him, but it wasn't the worse. My mother did that thing of telling me she knew all along - "Great," I said, "Then why didn't you tell me!" It would have saved a lot of heartache and anxiety on my part.

I listen to children in the playground now, particularly in secondary schools, discussing gay role models, such as Tom Daley or gay characters in their favourite TV shows, openly. Whatever their opinions may be, at least there is discussion. Yes, there is prejudice and yes this needs to be addressed, but things are moving in the right direction.

As I prepare my book for publication (hopefully) people ask if I am ok with being so open about our family life - but if we aren't open then who will be? Change comes from people not being afraid of what may happen. Hopefully, we can help to dispel that 'fear' of the scary gay agenda - I hate that phrase!

By looking at our family hopefully, some people have lost their fear of 'gay' parenting. I don't think we preach, we just tell it like it is. If our opening up our lives helps people to understand about the 'modern family' then it has to be a good thing.

So today's post is about openness in family - after all if we can't be open with them then how can we be open with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Whos' Going?

That was a question that completely took me by surprise yesterday... let me elaborate.

Yesterday I had had enough of the puppy. Puppies are very cute - they have lovely faces and gorgeous eyes. They like to be cuddled and sit on your lap licking your fingers - they are beautiful.

They also poo and wee on everything. A lot! And ours is no exception...

Yesterday, I needed to get some work done. I needed to sit and write and also to revise for my upcoming exam - my second years end of years exams in Psychology. I haven't taken an exam in 20years... I'm very scared!

But, my tutor reassured me, set out a revision timetable and stick to it. A little bit a day is better than cramming. Add into the mix a looming deadline for the book and an accompanying proposal and you can see why I saw a full day of being able to work at home as a blessing.

The puppy saw it differently. She saw it as a full day of having me at home - someone to play with.

So I took her out for not one but two long walks - to tire her out. They didn't.

I kept an eye on her all day, making sure she didn't chew anything dangerous and putting her outside at regular intervals to do her 'business'.

Every time of course I put her outside, she wouldn't go - opting to do her business on the floor as soon as I brought her in. I soon stank of disinfectant.

By the time the boys came home from school she had wee'd and poo'd on everything and I had managed to get very little work done. The boys promised they would watch her whilst they watched some TV.

They didn't.

I heard, "Daddy, the puppy's poo'd on the rug."

I came downstairs in a rage. "I've had enough," I bellowed, "You are going back!" I pointed at the now contrite puppy.

"Who's going back?" KC asked.

"The puppy," I said , still not comprehending what he meant.

"Oh, I thought you were sending me or TJ away," he said quietly, "That's what grown ups do when they get bored of children, they send them back into care."

I was astounded. Where had this come from?

KC didn't seem upset or anything, he said it as if this was just a normal thing to expect.

"What do you mean?" I asked, "no-one is sneding anyone away, I'm just cross with the puppy, that's all."

"If no-on sent their children into care then there wouldn't be anyone for you to adopt," KC went on, "I'm just saying..." (thats his phrase of the week).

I looked at TJ who was staring at me from over the arm of the sofa.

I sighed. "No-one is sending anyone away, sometimes I get mad at the puppy but no matter how mad I get I would never send you away. Do you understand?"

"But would you send the puppy away?" TJ asked.

"Of course not, " I replied, "I just need to housetrain her thats all."

"Did you have to housetrain me?" TJ said.

"No, " I replied, 'Luckily you did that bit yourself." I didn't mention the mess on the toilet floor i cleaned up this morning...

I made a note to watch what I say. It seems strange that after over three years with us they still don't fully believe that this is their 'forever' home - whatever forever means to an 8 year old? But we just have to keep reassuring them and, hopefully, one day it will stick...

Oh well, it looks as though the puppy is staying after all...

Monday, 12 May 2014

Is That Adele?

That was the question TJ asked as he watched the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night. We let the boys stay up to watch it purely because this year there had been so much hype about the fantastic British entry that was finally going to do well for us - except it didn't. Although the boys certainly cheered her on - although that may also have been because it was way past their bedtime and as the British entry, Molly, was on last, they got to stay up really late!

Of course the contest was to see the fabulous Conchita Wurst take home the prize for her James Bond inspired song 'Rise of the Phoenix.' As the beautiful, yet bearded, lady came on I expected a barrage of questions from the boys. I didn't get it. TJ looked at me and said, "That lady has a beard," to which KC told him, "No, its a man who likes to wear women's clothes - and that's cool." to which TJ nodded sagely.  I didn't want to go any further into the LGBT debate and let it lie, until TJ suddenly said, halfway through the song, "Is that Adele? It sounds like her James Bond song." Both KC and TJ love James Bond, althought I haven't let them watch the later ones yet preferring to stick to the campier 1970's versions which are constantly on TV - Roger Moore raising an eyebrow or Sean Connery just being.. well, Sean Connery.

The judging came on and the boys asked to place a vote each. TJ opted to vote for the campest French song I have evenr seen - about a Moustache! and KC opted for a little Belarussian who sang about Cheesecake - because he likes cheesecake. If thats the future of Eurovision...

On Sunday we went up to London to see an old school friend of Papa's, who was lovely. I think the boys were shocked to learn that Papa had been at school once and loved listening about his antics as a boy - although to be honest, Papa's antics were pretty few - he was a very good student!

After a delicious dim sum lunch at out favourite restaurant we did a little shopping on Regent's Street, a visit to Hamley's always ensures that the boys are well behaved.

Although over lunch Papa's friend made a comment on how well mannered the boys were - I think that helped them in their present buying budget! I wonder if they bribed her?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Puppy Pulling Power

I had to watch the title in case it began to sound like Scooby Doo's annoying nephew Scrappy but it fits the scene nicely.

Papa and I took the children and dogs to the park yesterday. The puppy is still on lead training as she pulls constantly and is desparate to lick anyone, or anything, that comes within five feet.

The boys raced off to play football with their mates in the park. "Be good," I called after them. "we will," they shouted over their shoulders. I nodded knowing that there was very little I could do if they decided not to be.

Papa and I walked along the outside of the park towards the dog run. We were stopped time and again by other dog walkers commenting on the puppy and asking the usual questions, 'How old was she?", "What breed?" - the answers were usually met with knowing nods or gushes of 'ahhhhh'.

"Why are all the people who stop us to chat old ladies?" Papa asked. I looked at him, "Because they are the ones walking their dogs," I said.

"But what's the point of having a puppy if it doesn't attract lots of young men," he went on, "Haven't you seen Will and Grace?"

"I'm not sure if that reflects real life in a British suburb," I laughed, "But good luck with that." I handed the dog lead over to him. "Let's see how you go."

Within seconds of Papa taking hold of the puppy an athletic, blonde, young man jogged past, glistening with sweat. "Cute puppy," he said and he stopped to let the little dog lick the said sweat off the back of his hand. I felt a pang of jealousy from Papa and knew that he too wanted to lick the sweat off this boy as well. I stifled a laugh - albeit a jealous one.

Papa immediately turned into this macho version of himself, talking about the puppy in a deep manly tone, sharing her age and her funny attributes. "Right, see you around," the young man said as he set off back on his run.

"See you," Papa waved casually.

"Puppy pulling power," he said, obviously pleased with himself.

"Let me try," I said and I took the lead from him.

It was only minutes before I was approached .. by yet another old lady.

It was then that we heard the commotion coming from the park and knew that the kids were squabbling over the football - it only takes about ten minutes for 'nice' play to detriorate into a fight.

Things were back to normal.

I took the puppy out again this morning - no sign of any young men for me! I'll try again tomorrow....

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Reality Show...

KC has been making great use of his i-pad. He has discovered the video function which means that he is constantly filming.

It's like living in our own reality show - everytime I turn a corner there he is filming the next part of our exploits as a family.

This would be ok if we were constantly doing lots of fun things and maybe had a theme tune and a laugh track that spontaneously cuts in every time one of us says something vaguely amusing - which doesn't happen very often.

But no - KC just films us getting on with life - then makes comments as he does so. He films as if he is talking to his viewer. For instance whilst filming TJ playing with his cars KC is telling the viewer, "Here is my dumb brother playing with his baby toys - he only likes cars and football - he doesn't like anything I like.. but he is my brother so I have to put with him."

TJ, of course, then slams the door in his brother's face - which I'm sure made for a great end of scene.

I was cooking the Sunday lunch (a very British tradition) when I noticed the i-pad being pointed in my direction. 'Do it like a cooking show?" KC directs me ( I say direct - it was kind of like being directed by a nazi stormtrooper) - But I'm happy to oblige and doing my best Jamie/Nigella impression I talk us through the peeling of potatoes and washing of veg before making Yorkshire puddings and basting the roast pork. He gets pretty bored after about 5 minutes. (I wonder why the preparation doesn't make it into most cookery shows - just lots of shots of the celebrity chef telling us how great their food is accompanied by suitable noises). But KC has lost concentration already... 'Now sing,' he says.

I suddenly felt like I was there purely for his entertainment - but being the consummate professional I obliged and sang as I cooked. To be honest, I was having quite a bit of fun and am safe in the knowledge that we don't allow internet access on his ipad, so I know it won't end up on You Tube later this week.

Finally, I asked him to lay the dining table - he wasn't too happy about this and made his feelings well known. "I'm only asking you to do one thing," I said, "You can go back to you filming straight after."

Then I added, "Why are you filming so much anyway?"

He looked at me and then said, "I want to remember you when you are dead."


I remember talking to my fantastic therapists about this once, KC's obsession with death, and their feeling was that he brought it up so often because he was afraid of losing me and Papa and the only way he could seek re-assurance was to talk about our deaths so we could then tell him we weren't going anywhere just yet.

I thought about this and realised that for all the progress we have made (and its a huge amount) there will always be these worries in the back of his mind - abandonment is a huge issue for many adopted children.

I put my vegetables down and went over and gave him a big hug - "I'm not planning on going anywhere just yet," I resassured him.

He looked at me and smiled his cheeky grin, "Then I guess I still have to lay the table," he said...

I guess we will have to think of a theme tune for our show now...

Friday, 2 May 2014

Sweets and Japanese Horror Movies...

It's been a strange evening.

Papa was away last night - he had to go to a fancy dinner in London with a client whilst the boys and I had a fish and chip supper followed by Easter eggs for dessert. Which was, admittedly, great fun.

Whenever one of us is away the boys just don't seem to settle - and last night was no different.

TJ has begun to horde food - I don't know where that comes from - he eats like a horse, but is now apparently waking up in the middle of the night hungry. What is surprising is that rather than come and wake me or Papa and ask for a piece of toast or some cereal (which we would happily give) instead he sneaks into the kitchen and steals sweets - which he obviously prefers to cereal, and I do restrict the boys sugar intake, so actually maybe its not that surprising at all - where I see a psychological imbalance based on his past experiences there may just be a greedy little boy who wants sweets!

However, last night I caught him in the act of sneaking downstairs... Papa was late home and I was still up when this little figure starts creeping down the stairs and into the kitchen. I stepped behind him as he explored the 'treat' cupboard. 'What do you think you are doing?" I whispered in his ear - he jumped a mile.

"I just needed a drink of water," he said, "I was thirsty."

"Really," I replied, "Is there a tap in that cupboard."

He looked guilty. "No, but there is orange juice." (his juice boxes for lunch are stored there and he wasnt having one of those...)

I gave him a glass of water and took him back to bed.

As we walked up the stairs I heard a commotion in my study. I walked in to find KC, in the pitch black, throwing all my books to the floor and turning the furniture over, literally turning it upside down. I clicked on the light to see that he was fast asleep. I decided not to wake him and just followed him talking quietly and telling him it was time to go to bed. All the while picking up the things he threw behind him. He then walked out on to the landing, had a wander around, then went straight back to bed. It was quite bizarre - like one of those Japanese horror movies where the child has been possessed.

So with the boys back in bed I settled down to finish watching my movie and the house fell silent again.

At that moment Papa stumbled through the door - the dogs went beserk and the children woke up again.

I didn't sleep much last nigh!