Not Today Deployment

Now, I am normally a glass is half full kinda girl.  However, there are those days, you know the ones I mean, the days when despite your best efforts the glass is half empty, the days when you need a proper kick up the arse.  It doesn’t matter if they’re away for 8 days, 8 weeks or 8 months, it can all get a bit much.  It’s the days when the Kids won’t do anything you ask, it’s not like I am asking them to do anything unreasonable, surely getting dressed is a normal thing to do? It’s the days when something breaks and I hear my mum whispering in my ear ‘these things come in threes’ bloody brilliant, what next? 

The car can fail its MOT, the washing machine can flood the kitchen, the kids can destroy the house (crayons on walls, sudocream on carpets etc) but you shrug your shoulders, roll up your sleeves and get on with it.  Those are the days when it can be tough, when you think deployment may break you but it doesn’t, you get on with it, because that’s what you do.

The funny thing is it is normally the smallest thing that will tip you over the edge. 

So, the other weekend the kids were asleep by 7pm, mama winning ready for some mama wining.  All I wanted to do was sit down and watch Game of Thrones with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. 

Then it happened, honestly it came from nowhere.  I couldn’t open the bottle of wine, I kid you not the screw top wouldn’t unscrew.  Try as I might the bloody thing wouldn’t open it just kept turning and turning and turning.  Then the tears came, I cried from frustration, really?  What the actual hell is wrong with me?  So, I took a deep breathe, I stepped away from the bottle, went through to the next room and had a quiet word with myself.  I looked in the mirror, stared long and hard at the Deployment Diva staring back and said ‘Not Today’.  Fast forward 5 minutes and I was on the sofa watching GoT with a chilled glass of wine, and a plaster on my finger (I can confirm knives were not designed to open screw tops).

Charlie Foxtrot Mama 1 0 Deployment

There we have it, an example of when Deployment tried to break me.  When those moments strike I channel my inner Arya Stark muttering to myself ‘Not today’, then come back fighting, not normally with a knife I have to say! 

So, tonight when its wine o’clock please pass me a bottle of wine (corks only or a box will do).  Today my glass is half full, Happy FriYAY!

Finding My People

The other day someone asked me how I go about making friends when we move.  You know, finding proper friends, she said, finding your people.  It got me thinking, when we move how do I find my people on the Patch? 

Yes, I know we are in military housing and that we are surrounded by military types on the Patch and we all share a bond in that we live and breathe this military spouse life but it doesn’t mean we are all besties.  That would be amazing though wouldn’t it? If you moved somewhere and got on with everyone and it was all lovely and happy and friendly and awesome (apologies that sounds like part of the Trolls script).  However, the reality is that whilst we share the military spouse bond you will never get on with everyone, or maybe that’s just me?  If there is anyone out there who does get on with everyone they meet please let me know your secret.

Anyway, finding your people can take time, patience and the ability to drink a lot of tea/coffee.  If you are really lucky it will take days, sometimes weeks, or it could take a few months to find those people who will keep you sane, listen to you moan or open a bottle of wine early if the going gets tough (you know who you are!). 

You know the saying you kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince (or in my case soldier)? Well for military spouses you drink many cups of tea/coffee before you find your people.

Depending on where you are posted depends on what’s out there to get to know people.  I don’t know about you but I am not very good at enforced fun or bonding.  I absolutely loathe walking in to a room and having to talk to people I don’t know, it’s the small talk, the awkward silences and occasionally, dare I say it, the judginess (is that even a word?). 

That sounds like I am really anti-social, I’m not, I’m just impatient.  I would like to bypass the first few small talk questions ‘What does your husband do?’, ‘Where have you moved from?’ or ‘Do you have Children?’ and get straight on to the important stuff.  When I say important I mean ‘Where can I get a decent coffee?’, ‘Who is going to win [insert reality TV show here]?’ or ‘Which is the best Chinese takeaway round here?’.  On my mission to make friends over the years I’ve been to coffee mornings, tots groups, play groups, more coffee mornings, I’ve been to Family Days, Women’s groups and yes, you guessed it more coffee mornings.   

Every 2 years I have done this.  That’s a lot of small talk and a lot of coffee.

So, I had a thought.  Maybe I’ve been going about making friends on the Patch the wrong way this whole time.  Perhaps there is a way I could avoid the coffee and small talk.  So, whilst aimlessly scrolling through Instagram waiting for the kettle to boil I was inspired.  I could be like The Dude with a Sign except female, British and worse handwriting. 

When we’d moved and unpacked the boxes I could use a box to make a sign.  Once I’d found the kids felt tips I would use my best handwriting to make signs saying things like ‘Looking for my people, are you one?’, ‘It’s 6 o’clock somewhere, fancy a drink?’, ‘Great chat and I make awesome brews’ or ‘Save my sanity, be my friend’. 

Then, picture this.  You’re sitting in your lounge drinking your morning cuppa listening to Phil and Holly giggle their way through This Morning when you look out the window and see someone (me) walking past holding up a sign.  You are curious, so you go to the window to have a proper look, but not too close to the window in case I see you.  You stand to the side and have a peek.  You are intrigued, what on earth is this woman doing?  No-one walks around the Patch with a sign, how very strange! 

Aha! That’s it I’ve made you look, then you read the sign and it goes either way.  You come out and say Hi, this says to me you get me and my sense of humour and we become friends.  Or, you stay peeking through your window trying not to be seen and make the decision to avoid the sign holding woman at all costs, after all, who does that? Definitely not your type of person.

Hmmmm, not sure if it’s a good idea but if you do see a woman walking round the Patch with a sign, it might be me, so please come and say Hi (but only if you want to).

Or maybe I should just continue drinking all the coffee and making all the small talk, after all, good things come to those who wait.

Living the Lockdown dream

Here we are 6 weeks into Lockdown. 6 whole weeks. I should have been in Paris this weekend with Curly Locks and Titch, drinking ALL the wine and eating ALL the food without a child or husband in sight. Yet, here I am, the kids are in front of the electronic babysitter with their millionth snack of the day and I am hiding in the kitchen with a coffee.

So, what’s been happening over the past few weeks? 

A few days before Lockdown Braai Boy got in from work, poured me a glass of wine then told me he might be deploying the following week.  That’s ok I thought, we’ve survived deployments before and we will again.  Then the day the schools closed Braai Boy told me he might be deploying the next day.  It was all too much, what the actual hell was happening?  Told I would have to home-school and couldn’t escape to the play park, then told my husband might deploy but no-one could say when or for how long.  Argh!  I had a cry, did the whole woe is me thing, then gave myself a kick up the arse.  Good job there was wine in the fridge. 

Guess what? Yep that’s right, Braai Boy is still here.  His bergen is packed and in his office, his other bag is in the spare room packed and ready to go.  Will he go?  Won’t he go?  Who knows?

Now, you know I like to be organised, I love a list, I love to plan but with all the craziness of Lockdown I planned absolutely nothing, not one little thing.  I was definitely not one of those who set out to learn a language, teach my kids Astrophysics or find the answer to world peace.  My sole aim entering Lockdown was to make sure that my family were happy and healthy.  That’s it.

It didn’t take long for us to fall into a routine.  My kids like a routine, it doesn’t have to be rigid, jeez no way, that would break me.  Routines have got us through all of Braai Boys deployments.  A routine makes the kids feel like they have control, they feel safe when they know what’s what and right now in this bizarre time it is exactly what they need.  For them it’s control, for me it’s Groundhog Day!

Our day typically starts at stupid o’clock.  I have 3 alarms: Braai Boy, Wee Man and my radio alarm.  0545 Braai Boy gets up to go for a run before work. I try to go back to sleep. 0630ish Wee Man bimbles in and stands at the side of the bed waiting for me to pick him up and give him a cuddle.  I try to go back to sleep.  At 0700 Braai Boy leaves the house and my radio alarm clock goes off.  That’s when my day officially starts.

And boy, do some days feel long, the bickering, the snacking, the keeping busy and of course the supposed home-schooling. 

The bickering normally starts at breakfast.  One of them doesn’t like the other one staring at them.   ‘Stop iiiiiiit!!!! Maaaaamaaaaaaaaaa, he’s looking at me!’, ‘Well, don’t look at him’, ‘but he’s opposite me I can’t help it’, ‘well, close your eyes’, ‘if I close my eyes I’ll spill my flakes everywhere’, ‘well, go and sit at the bottom of the stairs’, ‘there’s no table in there’, ‘well, sit on the floor and hold your bowl’, ‘but I’ll spill on the carpet and you will tell me off’, that’s when I turn my back, take a deep breath and put the kettle on as I wonder if Braai Boy has a pair of ear defenders in his bag upstairs.

If the kids are dressed by 10am I am winning.  They have stopped wearing ‘proper shoes’ and have only worn crocs or wellies since school finished.  Onesie days are a common occurrence.  Miss Sassy will only brush her hair if I threaten to cut it off.  The threat works because she has seen the state of Wee Mans hair after I went at him with Braai Boys beard trimmers (his hair is now very short and very uneven and he shouted ouch a lot).  There’s not a day goes by when the kids haven’t made dens somewhere in the house.  The trampoline has never been used so much (best Christmas present EVER Grandma!).  Screen time is unlimited, Nature documentaries count as home schooling, right?  Surely everything narrated by David Attenborough is educational.  I downloaded a few educational apps on to their tablets in the hope the kids would use them.  They don’t, but it makes me feel better.  I’ve even taught Wee Man how to use the remote control, I may live to regret that.

I’ve hidden in the toilet to get a moment to myself.  That worked until the kids worked out how to unlock the door from the other side.  Like some kind of thriller where you see the lock slowly turning then a voice slowly whispering ‘Hello Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’.  I’ve taken to standing in the kitchen drinking a coffee with the hoover on to drown out the kids bickering.  I don’t actually hoover, I literally just stand there with the hoover on. 

I do a happy dance round the kitchen if Braai boy is home before 8pm, if I get a food delivery slot or if the kids are asleep by 745pm.  Fair to say there’s not been much happy dancing round the kitchen but we can’t have everything. 

I set out to keep the family happy and healthy and so far I’ve succeeded. 

Who needs a kid/husband free weekend with good friends in Paris, anyway? MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Two Leave Passes Used

Well, I think I am now fully recovered from the weekend. You see, I used two of the many leave passes I earnt whilst Braai Boy was deployed.  I had two nights out, that’s rights two lovely nights out with girl friends; no husband, no kids just good old girlie time.  Braai Boy was on Daddy duties, I had secretly hoped that the kids would go to bed late and be a bit difficult, and they were! Yes!

So, what did I get up to?  Well, on Friday Curly Locks and I went to see the Stereophonics.  We braved the tube, tried not to touch any surfaces, queued for beer, queued for food, queued for more beer, listened to some great tunes and sang our hearts out.  I got told off several times by one of the Crowd Control guys for having my foot on the white line, the white line was the edge of the walkway round the arena.  My foot was ON the white line, not over it, honestly.  I felt like saying to him ‘Hey mate, I have big feet give me a break, plus there’s some intoxicated moron bouncing about like a crazy pushing me sideways!’ Anyway, apart from white line guy the gig was AMAZING! Ok, amazing if you like the Stereophonics.  They finished the gig with Dakota yeeeeeeeees! Curly Locks and I then became the annoying morons bouncing into everyone.  When we left the venue the queues for the tube were ridiculous so we were sensible and did the only thing you can do, grabbed another beer, good job it wasn’t two because we only just made the last tube home.  I fell into bed at 0130 praying the kids would sleep in, silly me! 

Saturday was a very different night out, Double H and I headed out for a Five Guys (yummy!) then to the movies.  There were no crowds, no beer and no bouncing. The cinema was practically empty, not just our screen the whole place, an employee told us that it had been quiet all week, hmmmm.   After much debate Double H and I had decided that we should go and see Military Wives.   Not going to lie, I was very sceptical.  How was the movie going to portray the military community? Would it be true to life? Would there be many stereotypes?  Two tickets and a bag of minstrels later one army wife and one RAF wife were ready for the movie.

I tell you what, it is a bloody good thing that I always carry a pack of tissues with me.  Within the first ten minutes I had tears rolling down my cheeks, by the end of the movie I had no mascara left and several soggy tissues in my hand.  I could relate to a lot of what we saw, some of the things that set me off were; telling the kids Daddy’s going away, making a chuff chart (or in our case the Daddy Sweetie Jar), that feeling in your stomach when they start to pack their kit to go away, trying to call Braai Boy when he’s away and the call dropping out or freezing, the frustration when they are away and you are the single parent.  Don’t worry I haven’t ruined it for any of you who are yet to see it.  You should definitely go to see it, you will laugh, you will cry (maybe) and you will laugh some more.  I came out of the cinema tear stained and emotionally exhausted but pleasantly surprised.

After dropping Double H off I got home to find Braai Boy lounging on the sofa with a glass of red wine in hand watching a movie about the US Marines in Afghanistan, OMG from one side of military life to another.  Needing to rehydrate after all the tears I cried I poured myself a very large glass of Sauvignon Blanc and went to join him.  As I tried to watch the movie, he commented and criticised throughout – inevitable when watching a military movie with someone in the military.

So there we have it.  Two leave passes well used; I laughed, I sang, I danced, I cried by Sunday I was knackered.  I’m very much looking forward to cashing in another two leave passes when I head to Paris with Titch and Curly Locks…..don’t worry I’ll tell you all about it.

Kind of Dry Janners

Well, here we are the last day of January already.  I had planned to do Dry January, honestly I really had, start the year off with a bit of a de-tox and all that.  Then life got in the way so it’s ended up being ‘Kind of’ Dry Janners.  I think 2 weeks abstaining from Sauvignon Blanc was a good start to the year, no?

At the end of last year I read a gazillion articles (OK maybe a handful) about the benefits of not drinking for a month.  Literally everywhere I looked the world was telling me to go dry for 31 days, it would be a game changer, life would never be the same again, if you’re not doing Veganuary (sorry nope, Braai Boy would divorce me) then you must stop drinking alcohol.  Basically I was being told that January had to be the most un-fun month ever.  I should have stood firm after all January is miserable enough, but in a moment of weakness I announced to Braai Boy ‘I’m doing Dry January’ to which he replied ‘treat yourself I’m not!’.

You would think I would be slightly annoyed that my darling (long suffering?) husband refused to join me on my latest ‘health kick’  but I wasn’t.  You see Braai Boy has spent the best part of the last 2 years dry, as dry as dry can be.  Everytime he was deployed I would tell him that I would not drink alcohol for the duration of his deployment.  You know get some ‘good wife’ tokens, by showing him a bit of solidarity, if he can do it I can do it and all that.  Ahem, well, let’s just say, I did not spend the best part of the last 2 years dry instead I supported him in spirit (for that read gin).  But hang on, don’t think he is hard done by and I am not supportive, I would like to point out that he did not stop drinking alcohol whilst I was preganant.  To be fair he probably needed the odd drink, I was not a very good pregnant and probably nearly broke him, especially as I went off meat!

Anyway, back to Kind of Dry Janners.  As I sat sipping my wine post Christmas I read all about the benefits which should kick in after a mere 7 days booze free.  Having lasted 14 days I have to report as follows:

Sleeping:  apparently giving up booze should mean that your sleeping pattern is improved and you wake well rested.  Erm, nope, uninterrupted sleep?  What is that?  I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night.  One word people – Children.  For my kids shouting Mama Mama Mama between 0100 and 0300 is a perfectly normal thing to do.  Every.  Single.  Night.  I can safely say that my sleep did not improve and I definintely did not jump out of bed every morning burst into song and start my day full of beans.  The only beans that I had were of the coffee variety!

Better decision making:  perhaps it was my bad decision making that led me to attempting Dry January.  I can tell you one things for sure, those 2 dry weeks did make me see some sense and I’ve decided that I will not do Dry January again.  Maybe a week here and there, but not a month, life’s too short and my kids are too testing.

Better physical performance: that’s ridiculous, in 2 weeks I will not go from an overtired wine glugging mama to an elite althete. Nope, next…

Weight loss well that’s a really good reason to ditch the booze, BUT I substituted chocolate for wine, need I say more?

Less sugar cravings: see above.

Improved vision:  I still wear glasses.

Premature aging of skin prevented:  too late I’m afraid.  Kids, sunbathing, laughter, stress and Braai Boys many absences have already got the better of my skin.  No potions or lotions or booze free months are going to sort this face out.  

Hormone Balance maintained:  not sure on this one to be honest, you would have to ask Braai Boy about that, I think I am perfectly well balanced all the time, he may disagree!

So, there you have it.  I’m not sure who researches or writes these articles but they clearly have not been a parent (or they are one of those smug parents that have kids that sleep through, eat all their vegetables and don’t answer back – yeah we all know one of those parents don’t we?) and they have definitely never ever had PMT.

Braai Boy is more than happy that I’m back on the vino, the bank balance less so.  Do it, don’t do it, do what makes you happy.  We’re nearly through the longest month of the year and that’s a cause for celebration isn’t it?

Cheers lovely people.

Silly Season Done!

Happy Happy New Year! Well?  Did you all make it through the last few weeks?  I really hope so.  I know that Christmas and New Year are not for everyone so I hope that whatever you did and whoever you were with that you were OK.  You will be pleased to hear that we survived the visitors, the visiting and the sugar.  The decorations are down, boxed up and squeezed into the garage alongside all Braai Boys kit.  Now the countdown is on to Christmas 2020!

As I said, we survived.  Of course, there were the usual disagreements.  Miss Sassy and Wee Man argued over everything, ‘he’s kicking me’, ‘she’s got my spiderman’, ‘he’s standing in front of the TV’, ‘she pushed me off the sofa’, ‘I want to be the fire ninja, no I want to be the fire ninja’ and so on.  The girl cousins argued over the purple plate at dinner, they argued over who had what My Little Pony, meanwhile Wee Man went around Hulk smashing everything and everyone.  Braai Boy and I ‘heatedly discussed’ road directions, food requirements and who left what where and when.  Thankfully he filled the wine rack with Sauvignon Blanc and got me Lindor balls both of which saved my sanity.  To be honest, people wise it was a fairly quiet Christmas we had constant visitors and we visited people but there were no crazy Clan gatherings or huge parties. 

That said I cannot eat another party snack, I cannot look at another Panettone (my Bro brought us the biggest one back from Naples, I kid you not it was the size of a baby and we are still eating it) and I do not want to hear Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or Jingle Bells sung by any small people in the close confinements of a car for a while.  Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love Christmas just give me a few weeks to get back in to the Christmas spirit.

New Year was great fun, gone are the days of working in a bar getting paid to party or standing on Waterloo Bridge watching the fireworks (or not), these days its dinner at home with friends.  This year we went to Titch and the Silver Foxes (aka The Boys) for New Year. 

Now, since our last visit The Boys have done up their kitchen, well what can I say this military housed mama was very very envious of their non-magnolia gorgeously equipped kitchen, for a start it had a wine fridge…….and before you or Braai Boy ask a wine fridge is a need not a want, ok?  So, let’s talk appliances, we have a kettle, they have a fully integrated coffee machine that is linked to their phones, they can do analytics on a bloody coffee machine!  We have a battered dishwasher stabilised by bits of cardboard on our wonky floor, they have a dishwasher that projects how long it is until the wash is finished onto their gorgeous tiled floor.  Don’t even get me started on the oven, it has a warming drawer, yes people they have a warming drawer, we have a top oven that runs to its own temperature regardless of what temperature you put it on (last week it took nearly 2hours to bake a cake that should have baked in 1!).  We have a very unattractive oblong ceiling strip light which buzzes and is very annoying, they have under cupboard and counter light strips.  When we arrived, the lights were lime green, I flippantly asked if they could change colour or flash, yeah I know given the rest of the kitchen I should have kept my mouth shut.  Titch picked up his phone, rude I thought as I was speaking to him, only for him to change the colour and sequencing of the lights.  Stupid me, of course the lights are controlled from the phone, THE PHONE people, who knew? Not going to lie that pretty much blew my mind.

Maybe next time I’m asked to complete a Military Housing Survey in the additional comments section, instead of the usual, can we have plain curtains or can the lino not look like dirty sand or please stop putting 2 ceiling lights in rooms I will simply ask for kitchen lighting that can be controlled by my phone.  Life goals and all that!

So, here we are, a whole new lovely year, who knows what 2020 holds.  Perhaps we will move, perhaps we won’t.  Maybe we will buy our own house and I can pimp up my kitchen like The Boys, then again maybe we won’t.  Will my faithful old car last until the end of the year, who knows?  Will Braai Boy be deployed?  No idea.  Will the kids learn the joys of a lie in? Doubt it. Will I start to enjoy running again, let’s wait and see if Couch to 5k can work its magic.  Will I complete Dry January?  Hopefully.  Will I do Veganuary?  Not a chance – I live with the biggest meat eater I know.

What I do know is this.  It’s only 350 days until Christmas and 2 days until Winter Love Island starts. 

Happy New Year lovelies!

PS –  Mum, before you ask no I’m not pregnant, I will be back on the vino in February.

The Christmas Do

If there is one thing that the military do well it is a party.  Summer Party, Christmas Party, Dinner Nights, whatever it may be they really know how to put on a good night.  We’ve been to a fair few Mess Do’s over the years, most of the Do’s have had themes we’ve been to Game of Thrones, Out of Africa, Strictly, Hollywood and so on.  Last weekend was the Mess Christmas Party here and I have to say it was pretty awesome, the theme was Narnia. 

I used to love getting dressed up in long gowns (or fancy dress) and spending the best part of the day pampering and preening ready for a proper night out.  Now it’s a quick wash, into PJ’s to bath the kids and pretend that we are not going out before briefing the babysitter as I slap on the makeup and run a brush though my hair. 

Curly Locks and her hubbie and the boys aka Titch and the Silver Fox came too, they’re not military but love a good party.  Curly Locks and I were in long dresses, makes a change from jeans and boots, and the boys were in black tie.  The military types had a choice Mess Kit or not, Braai Boy chose not.  What did he wear instead of Mess Kit I hear you ask?  Well, he wore black tie and a FLASHING bowtie, I know that sounds a bit festive for him doesn’t it?  It did take several glasses of wine before he actually turned it on.

Well, what a welcome we had when we got to the Mess, there was a bare-chested man on stilts, yes that’s right Mr Tumnus was there in all his six pack loveliness, he was very much appreciated by all. There were fairy lights everywhere, the Mess ceilings and walls were covered in white flowing material, there was a sleigh and a throne, it was all very magical.  Some people were in Mess Kit, others were in black tie or posh frocks, and there was a party atmosphere.  So, we did bubbles and beers then sat down for dinner.  The booze and banter flowed and before we knew it, it was time for the entertainment.

After dinner we came across 3 things that changed the course of the night; a Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail Bar, a vodka Luge and a Glitter Station.  After sampling a few cheeky incredibly cold strong cocktails and free pouring flavoured vodka through the lion luge we stumbled across the Glitter Station.  First off me and Curly Locks had a go, there were some instructions on how to apply the glitter, I ignored them and ended up looking like I had been hit in the eye by a silver glitter snowball.  Curly Locks read the instructions and looked blue and sparkly and lovely.

We then heard a rumour that there was a professional photographer and decided that we had to have a group photo.  What were we thinking?  We’d had cocktails and now we were covered in glitter this was never going to be a ‘pop it on the mantlepiece’ kind of photo.  Anyway, the queue for the photographer was long so Braai Boy and the boys made frequent trips to the bar to keep us hydrated.  To keep us entertained we started heckling Mr Tumnus as he strutted up and down the corridor.  Oh how foolish we were.  No sooner had we got in front of the camera we were photo bombed by Mr Tumnus.  Yes, we bought the photo, well, why not? Its not every day you’re photo bombed by a faun on stilts.

We then hit the dance floor, there was a band and a DJ and more cocktails and more wine.  Now, there are certain things that should never EVER be put together, in this case Titch and a Glitter Station.  So, there we were dancing, or trying to dance but mostly bouncing, swaying and singing horribly out of tune when Titch disappeared.  Next thing I knew I’d been Titched, as I had turned to speak to Curly Locks I received a face full of glitter.  In fact, every time we turned round there was a smiling Titch with a handful of glitter to blow in your face, sprinkle on your head or just rubbed on you.  By the end of the night we were all totally and utterly covered in glitter, even Titch.

Well, when I got home I couldn’t get the bloody glitter off.  I used a lot of baby wipes which resulted in me moving the glitter round my face and I went to bed with a very sparkly multi coloured glitter beard.  I eventually de-glittered but the same can’t be said for the house.   There’s still glitter everywhere even though I’ve hoovered a lot a lot.  In fact, every night before bath time Wee Man sits on the bathroom floor and picks the glitter off his bare feet sighing ‘Oh Uncle Titch!’.  So I just wanted to say thank you lovely Titch for once again bringing a bit of sparkle in to our lives.

Getting our Christmas ON!

There are 2 things that Braai Boy and I do not agree on.  The first is rugby, he supports the Springboks and anyone who plays against England.  I support England and Scotland.  The second is Christmas.  Now, I absolutely love Christmas.  Braai Boy does not, Braai Boy is totally and utterly Bah Humbug.  But guess what?? It’s December so it’s time to get our Christmas on!

The good thing is that Braai Boy has been away on Exercise for the last few weeks and only got back yesterday.  This has given me time to find the boxes of decorations, get them out and get them up.  Its easier to decorate the house when he is not here (this is the third year) because I’m not distracted by his huffing and puffing as I turn our house from magnolia married quarter into sparkly, glittery, all things Christmassy amazingness.  So, you see, Braai Boy being away is not always a bad thing, especially at this time of year. 

At the weekend I left the kids with my Mum and I went out to get the tallest widest tree I could find.  The kids requested a real tree that is taller than me, as I am 5ft 10ish that’s a fairly tall tree.  Much to Braai Boys despair we always have a real tree.  My argument is that we don’t have enough storage space for a fake tree because he has all his military kit in the garage, before you ask no we have never ever parked a car in any of our garages because they have always been full of his kit.   Of course, Braai Boy moans about the pine needles on the carpet and having to water the bloody thing, I smile and nod and say something like ‘well maybe if you got rid of some of your kit you would get your fake Christmas tree’.  That’s when the moaning stops, because I know he will never get rid of any of his kit.

So, there was me and my Mum getting the tree into the stand, as I lay on the floor Wee Man thought this was the perfect opportunity to play horsey, whilst Miss Sassy decided to do a full rendition of all the songs from her school Christmas Play.  After some jiggery pokery with bits of branch and coasters the tree was standing up straight.  Miss Sassy then opened up all the boxes of decorations and emptied them on to the floor, helpful? Not really.  The lights were not tangled so I cracked on with getting those on the tree.  The strings of beads on the other hand were in a massive red and gold ball, not going to lie it took Mum, Miss Sassy and I ages to untangle them, but that didn’t matter we had Christmas tunes on and we were feeling festive.  Meanwhile, Wee Man was decorating his garage with baubles, well why not?

Once Miss Sassy lost interest in the beads I was left to untangle the bead ball, I have to say it was surprisingly therapeutic.  As I was untangling, Mum and the kids decorated the tree.  We have lots of different baubles and decorations for the house, some tasteful, some not so tasteful, but you know what? they all have memories.  So, if you come to our house and you see something that is not to your taste please keep quiet because it’s there for sentimental reasons.  You know what?  When the kids went to bed I didn’t redecorate the tree, why should I?  they decorated it and made it their own, they well and truly got their Christmas On.

There’s lights in the windows, lights around mirrors and lights on the mantlepiece.  I think we nailed the fairy lights this year.  It’s not quite Santa’s grotto but I think as far as Christmas goes we’ve done a good job.  Hector the hat hook has his Santa hat on, I can’t wait to see Braai Boys face, then again maybe not.  The silver jock, which needs his pre Christmas clean, has his teeny tiny Santa Hat on and looks very festive indeed.  The advent house is full of chocolates and Miss Sassy has made her very own Snowman disco snowball scene.

Wee Man has taken to throwing his rugby ball cushion at the tree, ‘it won’t catch mama’, ‘really son?  That surprises me’.  Then when the baubles fall off he shouts at me and Miss Sassy to put them back on, yes it’s his new favourite game, I am hoping he will get bored of it within a week, who am I kidding this is going to go on until I take the tree down. 

0645 yesterday the doorbell went, Braai Boy was home and didn’t have his keys.  If I’d known he was going to be that early I would have been up at 0600 to get the Christmas lights on to welcome him.  I needn’t have worried, Miss Sassy flew down the stairs demanding he closed his eyes so she could walk him to the lounge and show him the tree and this and that and everything.  As well as not liking Christmas and the English rugby team he also dislikes early mornings, good job he likes his daughter isn’t it?

And there we have it.  The house has been Christmassed up, Daddy is home and now we can start Silly Season.  We are all in the Christmas mood, well me and the kids are, but I am sure even Braai Boy will start to feel less Bah Humbug when I give him mulled wine in his Christmas mug. 

Sorting the Mop

I do not like going to the hair dresser, never have, never will.  I don’t find it particularly relaxing, I could be doing something more productive with my time rather than sitting drinking coffee under very bright lights in front of a very large mirror making small chat with a stranger.  Just me?

Thanks to a home dye kit and the summer sun I have been rocking (or not) an orangey, grey striped, brown rooted look for the past few months.  Crunch time was the other week when I had my hair scraped back in a pony tail and Miss Sassy informed me that my hair was a weird colour and I looked really, really old.  Honestly if you ever need an instant confidence boost just come on over to our house.  I told her that it wasn’t grey or white it was silver sparkly hair, that seemed to make her happy, I went from old mama to magical mama in one sentence, boom!

It was all well and good me wanting to sort the mop out however I had no clue where to go.  If there is one thing that I dislike about this military wife life it is finding a hairdresser.  I last visited the hairdresser in June before we moved here.  You see finding a doctor or dentist is easy, I say that I still haven’t registered for the dentist.  Finding a hairdresser……bleurgh that’s comes under can’t be ars*d until the situation is desperate.  With the Mess Christmas Party round the corner I would say that is was getting pretty desperate.  Luckily my neighbour, Double H, had done some research and found a hairdresser.  Taking one for the team she booked an appointment and it was a success.  Not only did she get a lovely shiny new hair do she also got a recommend a friend discount, yes thank you very much I will have that. 

I didn’t phone to book an appointment because I had no clue what I wanted.  To be honest I’ve never had a clue when it comes to hair.  So, one morning after the school run I popped into the salon to ‘have a chat’.  For once I wasn’t in my active wear with my hair scraped back, probably a good thing, first impressions and all that.  Well, if I said the receptionist was well groomed that would be an understatement.  She gave me that look, you know the one, oh here we go harassed Mama who has let herself go, a paid-up member of the Bograt Society.  With an overly sympathetic look she asked me if I had an appointment.  Looking back my response may have been just a little bit over dramatic, I sighed and simply said I need help.  Well, that’s when 2 stylists whisked me off to sit in front of a very large mirror under very very bright lights to scrutinise the mop.  They brushed and parted and tugged at my hair as they discussed how to ‘fix this’, come on people I can hear what you are saying just because you give me a strong coffee it doesn’t stop my ears working.  Anyway, after what felt like forever, they came up with an action plan.  Like a deer in the headlights or rather a desperate mama in salon lights I agreed to it and booked an appointment.

On Monday it was the day of the appointment.  You will be pleased to hear that the mop has been well and truly sorted, the orange has gone, the split ends have been snipped off and the hair styled.  Despite the mirrors and the bright lights it was a fairly enjoyable experience.  This is mostly because they didn’t talk to me and I was given coffee and those yummy biscuits in the red wrapper, don’t know their name but bloody love them.  I used Double H’s discount card which would have given me a fair whack off the bill but then the stylist mentioned Black Friday deals.  Yep, you guessed it I was sucked in and ended up buying colour maintenance products.  No more orange here people, nope none at all.

Anyway, after over a decade (wow that’s a long time) of dying my hair, I’ve decided enough is enough.  Now that the mops been sorted, it’s about time I stopped dying it.  I am always telling the kids to be themselves so it’s about time I listened to my own advice.  From now on it’s all about the silver sparkly hair, after all, we all need a bit of sparkle in our lives.

Boot Camp

Forget eating excessively at Christmas let’s talk about excessive eating during school holidays.  Every time the kids wanted a snack I had a little something too you see Wee Man is a feeder.  ‘Mama try’ he says, I do protest, sometimes, but then his cheeky wee face gets me and I end up eating whatever he is squashing in his grubby little hand whether it’s been in his mouth or not (that’s love right there).  To be honest, it’s amazing what you will do for a bit of cake or piece of chocolate when you’re meant to be watching what you eat.

So, after the excesses of Half Term it was back to Boot Camp last week.  Not going to lie, it hurt, it really really hurt.  But, I survived last week so went again this week.

It was bloody freezing this morning so I layered up, short sleeve top, long sleeved top, fleece and then a jacket.  I found my woolly hat which has the most ridiculously large bobble on then put on my crappy old leather gloves,  I was snug as a bug in a rug.  I may have been lovely and warm but I was also very very tired.  You see, Wee Man has taken to sleeping in our bed most nights.  And before you ask, yes I do take him back to his own bed but he’s like a boomerang and just keeps on coming back.  I will do anything to get some sleep so I give in and Wee Man stays.

I threw several cups of strong coffee down my neck hoping the caffeine would kick in and make me feel less zombie like.  Then after the usual rush to get the kids out of the house and then the dash (ok, shouty dawdle) down the hill to school I went to Bootcamp. 

The woman who takes the Boot Camp is another military wife let’s call her Boot Camp Girl, she has endless energy which I wish rubbed off on me.  After we had dropped of our kids the Boot campers all congregated by the tennis courts which is the usual meeting place, but Bootcamp Girl had other ideas and led us to the playing fields, the very soogy, very muddy playing fields.  With her usual cheery smile Boot Camp Girl announced we were going to be doing  ‘Winter Challenge 1’, she was really very excited, we were not quite as excited.  As she explained what we were to do I already felt exhausted.  Hill runs combined with intervals in which we were to do hurty moves.  What fresh hell is this?  Do I actually pay money to do this?  The hill running was more plodding, I blamed the muddy field for my lack of speed, in reality I am just sh*t at running.  Then we had the hurty things to do like burpees.  I am sorry but really?  Burpees are horrible and, standby for an overshare here, weirdly they really make me need to pee.  Maybe that’s where the pee bit of the name came from, who knows?

There were other hurty moves which quite frankly nearly broke me.  I mean how is it that I can lift and carry not-so Wee Man for a long time but I can barely do a press up?  I can carry all of the weekly food shop from the car to the house in a oner yet I can’t lunge walk with 4kg for 5 metres without piling in? 

Boot Camp Girl kept telling us to scoop in our abs and control our breathing through the hurty moves.  That’s all very well but I have no abs to scoop in and there was no controlling my breathing, I could barely breathe after the hill plodding.  At one point Bootcamp Girl tried to have a conversation with me and she laughed when I could only say three words at a time before gasping for air.

But I did it, an hour of my kid free time put to good use.  For Braai Boy exercise is part of his job, he’s expected to be fit, he has fitness assessments to pass.  For me it’s about how exercise makes me feel my head is clearer and I am happier when I have done something, anything, even if it is a slow plod, it’s better than nothing. 

I suspect I will hurt tomorrow, no pain no gain and all that.  One things for sure I will go back next week, after all I’ve pre-paid for a term of pain.  Also, Boot Camp Girl added me to her Whats App group ‘Hardcore Wednesday’ there’s no going back now!

Not Another Pumpkin

I survived half term! I’m totally and utterly Halloweened out but I survived.  It was a solo parenting affair as Braai Boy was with his Mistress.  Don’t worry he’s not traded me in for a younger, svelte, less nagging model.  When I talk about his mistress I mean the other love of his life, the Army.  I will give him his due he did try to take one whole day off, he even put his out of office on.  Unfortunately this did not stop emails and phone calls.  Good job I didn’t cancel the catch up with friends that I had organised otherwise I would have been a teeny tiny bit p*ssed off.

I really wish I could be one of those parents that has a gazillion ideas of how to entertain their kids.  You know they type I mean, the organised ones that have jars filled with little bits of paper with activities and day trips on  ‘Go on kids pick from the jar and we will have a lovely day and post pics all over social media of you being smiley happy kids’.  Well that’s not me I’m more ‘If you stay in bed and go straight to sleep I’ll think of something fun to do tomorrow’ I then spend the evening with a glass of wine scouring the internet for stress free stuff to do with the kids.

So, what did we do this half term?  Well, it was Halloween week so obviously there were pumpkins involved.  On Braai Boys non day off we left him at home answering calls and furiously tapping the keyboard.  We went to visit friends.  The activity of the day was pumpkin carving, the kids lost interest in scooping out the slimy insides after about 2 minutes so it was left to 3 very enthusiastic Mums to get the job done (we obviously still had patience and enthusiasm as it was the start of the half term).  The kids requested that we carve the  meanest, scariest, weirdest pumpkins.  Once the kids had ‘drawn’ their desired design on the pumpkins we did our very best to decipher the scrawling black pen.

In the car on the way home Miss Sassy and Wee Man proudly sat with their (MY!) carved pumpkins on their laps.  They were desperate to see them lit up in all their glory.  When we got home I put a candle in each pumpkin and it was at this point that Wee Man totally lost it.  I’m talking snot, tears, unintelligible shouting, all I did was put a candle in a bloody pumpkin.  I finally worked out what he was shouting, apparently that the cyclops I had carved for him, which I thought was pretty scary and a fair representation of his scribble, wasn’t scary enough for him.  In Wee Mans words ‘it’s not MAAAAAAAD Mama, I wanted MAAAAAAAAD’.  So, the next day off we went to get more pumpkins.  Pumpkin carving Round 2.  With a sigh I asked ‘What do you want me to carve?’ both Kids decided they wanted Ninjago (Lego Ninjas for those of you who don’t know).  It took me a while but I did it.  Quite pleased with my Ninja like pumpkins I popped a candle in them, turned off the lights and called the kids through to the kitchen.  Ta Daaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! I shouted with a big smile on my face, feeling smug that we had 2 Ninjago pumpkins.  Wee Man burst into tears, it wasn’t MAD enough.  Mummy fail for the second day on the trot, so I put a bottle of wine in the fridge and the kids in front of the TV.  When they went to bed I sat in the kitchen drinking a semi cold glass of wine with all 5 pumpkins lit, if they weren’t going to enjoy them I bloody well was!

The next day was the day of the Patch Halloween Party.  I set about making pumpkin crispy cakes which were a disaster, they ended up being orangey peachy coloured crispy cakes.  The kids decorated cupcakes which they then ate for lunch.  Then it was time to get ready for the Party.  Miss Sassy was a zombie bride, she asked for me to make her look fierce, I painted her face silver and drew cobwebs on her cheeks.  Wee Man wore a skeleton onesie, and of course he wanted his face painted because Miss Sassy had hers done, I got as far painting his face white then he got bored and ran off.  Basically I made Miss Sassy look like a robot zombie bride that had been got at by spiders and Wee Man just looked ill.

The kids were desperate to get on with the Trick or Treating so once Braai Boy had escaped work and found us at the Patch Party off we went.  The rule was ‘no light or pumpkin no knock’, of course this did not stop the sugar filled kids trying every door they could looking for their next fix.  All we could hear as we went around was parents shouting ‘just take one’, ‘say thank you’, ‘you can’t eat that now’, ‘where’s your brother’, ‘watch out for the step’, ‘do you need a wee’, ‘no I won’t carry you’ and so on.  By half 6 we were done, Miss Sassy’s bucket was full, Wee Man was beyond tired so we headed home.  The bucket of sweets we had left outside our door had been decimated much to Braai Boys disappointment.  Our pumpkins were intact, the kids were tired, wine was in the fridge.  On Halloween we definitely had a winning day!

Half Term week finished as it had started with a Soft Play birthday party.  The first weekend we went to stay with Curly Locks, it was her little girl’s birthday party. The clocks changed on Saturday night, we decided to drink through the extra hour, we didn’t really think that through given we were up at stupid o’clock with the kids who were super excited to go to the soft play party.  The party started at 0930, ouch my head.  Braai Boy was there in body not spirit you see he was plugged into his phone watching his beloved Springboks playing in the Semis of the Rugby World Cup.  The last weekend of half term was pretty much the same story.  This time I took the kids to a birthday party at a dinosaur soft play, I have to say it was brilliant.  I say that, it was brilliant apart from the dance floor which flashed non stop, causing most of us to feel dizzy and slightly sick.  Braai Boy missed out on the flashing dance floor he was in a bar drinking beer watching his team win the Rugby World Cup.  In all honesty I am glad I wasn’t watching the game with him, I am not a great loser and his is not a gracious winner.

And there we are, some winning, some losing and definitely some wining!  Half Term holidays survived, now let’s get to Christmas. 

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