The Home Coming

Braai boy is nearly home!  Me and the Kids have survived.  I have more grey hair and wrinkles and the Kids have probably had too much screen time and sugar but there you go, you do what you need to get by.  There’s a whole host of things that I really should get done before he returns, and no this does not mean completing the Deployment To Do List.  This is a totally different list, this is the ‘Show Him I TOTALLY Smashed It’ list. This list absolutely, totally and utterly has to be completed.  It’s the list that will show Braai Boy that I coped magnificently whilst he was deployed, to show him that I am indeed Super Woman/Super Mama. 

So, in no particular order:

  • the house needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
  • the washing done, folded (I don’t do ironing) and put away.
  • the kids need their hair cut, I need my hair cut and coloured.
  • the grass needs cut and the weeds removed from the patio.
  • the wine rack needs filled.
  • the BBQ needs cleaned as there’s a whole other ecosystem growing in there.
  • I need to drive his car, sh*t I need to drive his car.  I was meant to turn it over every week, I totally forgot.  Note to self, turn the car over after writing this. 
  • clean the inside of my car, it’s filthy, cheerios are stuck everywhere, biscuits lay half eaten on the floor, the back windows are covered in sticky hand prints and there’s heaps of rubbish in the footwells.  When I say rubbish I mean sweet wrappers, and if Braai Boy asks they’re all mine and the kids have never ever had Lindor Balls for brekkie.
  • Get turquoise nail varnish off Wee Mans toes, it turns out it wasn’t peel off after all.

It’s odd when they get home, those first few days you’re readjusting to each other, things like I can’t starfish in bed anymore, I have to share the remote control, I can’t put tomatoes in everything (Braai Boy hates them) and I no longer get to make ALL the decisions about everything.  As well as that, this time I have one major concern about Braai Boys return, two words:  Love Island. 

You see I have invested a lot of time, chocolate eating and energy into watching, discussing and reading up on each show.  Last year, after 4 months away, he got back the day before the Love Island final.  I made him watch it, he still hasn’t forgiven me.  So, this year he comes back half way through the series.  Oh my days, after the bust up we had last year how on earth am I going to convince him that at 9pm every night of the week he needs to sit down and watch a bunch of wannabes pretending to be loved up whilst saying ‘100 percent’, ‘my type on paper’ and so on?  Hang on, how could I be so stupid?  They are all wearing bikinis and there is A LOT of flesh on show, right there, that’s my leverage. 

To make his re-entry, that makes him sound like an astronaut, into family life smoother I send him a list, yes, yes another list.  This list outlines any changes to the Kids their routine, character or appearance for example; Miss Sassy has the attitude of a teenager, Wee Man is obsessed with dinosaurs and can spend hours roaring at you, Wee man has a carpet burn on his head after Miss Sassy dragged him from the lounge to kitchen and so on.  I do not tell him of any changes I have made to the house, as I type I am desperately trying to think about any new bits and bobs I have purchased.  You see, I need to be prepared for him walking round the house and raising his eyebrow or rolling his eyes as he asks me his favourite question ‘is it a need or a want wife?’.

The Love Island issue aside, I am looking forward to Braai Boy coming home.  My partner in crime will be back, my support, the good cop to my bad cop, my drinking buddy.  We will settle back into family life fairly quickly, although I give it a few weeks before I ask him ‘when are you off again?’.  You see it’s not that I don’t love him it’s just that I need to know when I will once again have full control of the remote.

If he’s not delayed (all fingers and toes crossed) I expect him back tomorrow which means I have just over 24 hours to complete the ‘Show Him I TOTALLY Smashed It’ List.  Have a lovely day, I’m off to find my Super Woman cape.

The Move Part 1: Where To?

It really is just bricks and mortar

An inevitable part of being an Army family is The Move.  This Summer our time’s up here, we’re off to a new country, a new county, a new house and our next adventure.

I’m going to break The Move down into 3 separate blogs, otherwise this blog would be too long and you may be bored rigid. 

So, how does this Army moving malarkey work?  It all starts with the jobs list, Braai Boy will look through the list and highlight those jobs he’s interested in.  I will then half-heartedly look at what he has highlighted or made notes against.  You see, I am all about the where we go and not what he does.  Then we sit at the kitchen table with the list, a large glass of wine and have ‘the chat’. 

Not going to lie I have been known to get over emotional and dramatic at times (no comments please!):

  • ‘but it’s so faaaaar from everyone’ apparently I forget about technology and such things as planes, trains and automobiles
  • ‘but it’s so faaaaar from everything’ despite what I think Ikea, Gordons Wine Bar and Dominos Pizza are not everything.

Braai Boy is very diplomatic and plays along with my drama, sighing and general whinging whilst regularly topping up my glass.  I eventually run out of steam, despite what Braai Boys thinks there is only so much whinging I can actually do.  Several glasses of Sauvignon Blanc later and I am over the moon with the jobs he will be putting down on his list, funny that!  His selected jobs then get submitted and we wait to find out where our next home will be. It feels like we wait forever, in reality its not, I’m just very impatient.

To be honest, there have been 2 two postings which I absolutely did not want to go to.  However, I knew he really wanted the jobs, so I took one for the team (I know, supportive, right?).  You know what though? And this is the bit where Braai Boy has that look, you know the one, the I told you so Smuggy McSmug face, me and the Kids ended up really enjoying those two postings.  They were, and still are, as we’re still here (and only 5mins from Ikea) really good postings and that is down to the people we’ve met. 

For what it’s worth this is my take on The Move, and this is what I tell the Kids.  A house is not a home, a house is bricks and mortar.  A home is people and memories.  You can live anywhere as long as you have your family, friends, love and laughter, that is your home.  Why do I have this attitude? Well, it’s probably down to my formative years, yes I was an Army Brat (10 homes in 18 years).  In fact, fed up of people asking me where home was, I used to say that home was wherever my folks were with their full to bursting fridge.

So in 4 weeks time Braai Boy, Miss Sassy, Wee Man and I will start our next adventure.  There will be new places to explore, new friends to be made and a fridge that will need filling pretty sharpish as the House Warming Braai is already planned. 

Did I win the location versus job argument this time? Well, Ikea is near-ish, I’ll be able to sink a few in Gordons Wine Bar and Dominos deliver, so you could say that yes, this time I got where I wanted, for the next 2 years anyway. 

Toon Girl & Glitter

Toon Girl and her eldest daughter arrived on Friday.  They breezed through the door as fabulous as ever to find a shattered Mama manically hoovering round Miss Sassy and Wee Man who were rolling around on the floor like animals, roaring at each other and scratching at faces (really must cut their nails, less damage that way).  Toon Girl handed me a bottle of bubbles, gave the kids presents and sanity was restored.  

Our 2 girls are the same age and get on really well so within 5mins they had gone to Miss Sassy’s room to start doing makeovers.  An hour later they strutted downstairs with serious attitude to announce that the makeovers had been completed.  We turned around to see two mini Pat Butcher Glam Rockers in front of us.  They were very blue and very glittery.  This turned out to be the theme of the weekend glitter, lots and lots of sodding glitter.

Hilariously Toon Girl thought that with the girls entertaining themselves we would have a fairly relaxed weekend catching up, she did not factor in Wee Man. 

Saturday morning I was attempting to de-glitter the lounge when I heard Toon Girl shouting upstairs, I looked round and realised Wee Man was missing.  Ah, ok, that could only mean one thing – mischief.  I charged upstairs to find Toon Girl (laughing, phew!) chasing Wee Man round.  The little sod had taken the bog brush and was using it as a sword, waving it round his head with who knows what being flicked onto the walls.  I honestly wish I made this stuff up, but I don’t.  Antibacterial wipes are the best!

After the bog brush incident we decided we needed to tire them out and took them to a Fairy Trail.  The girls glittered up before we left, because that’s what fairies do, but fairies don’t throw glitter all over their bedroom floor (just saying).  What’s not to like about a Fairy Trail? a bit of a walk, a bit of fairy chat and a picnic, mama winning right there.  Even better Toon Girl bought them fairy wings and a wand.  Wee Man is now the proud owner of some rainbow fairy wings, and yes he did wear them.  Once fairied out, we headed home to the garden. 

Sitting in the sun, the Girls decided it was Spa time.  At this point I poured Toon Girl a glass of bubbles because that’s what you do at a spa, right?  Well, I can safely say that this was an interesting spa experience.  Toon Girl and I got glittered up to the max (no less is more here), our nails got ‘painted’ and homemade perfume was lavished over us.  Then Wee Man rocked up, yup, that’s right, he had a Spa too.  Wee man currently has turquoise toenails, lavender fingernails and only tonight have I managed to get the glitter off his eyelids, cheeks, head, neck, back, tummy and the rest!

There is glitter everywhere, in the carpet, in our hair, on the table, in the sink, on the patio, in the car, on my trainers, on my phone, in my rucksack and in my pockets, but you know what? I wouldn’t change it for anything.  We all need a bit of sparkle in our life, even better when it is two Pat Butcher Glam Rockers that provide it.

Braai Boy if you are reading this I would like to point out that it is peel off nail varnish and we didn’t force Wee Man to wear the wings, he wanted to. �w

Good Morning!

The great big red plastic fire truck

I honestly can’t remember the last time that I slept past 0615, nope that’s not right, I can’t remember the last time I was ALLOWED to sleep past 0615.  To be honest I am a morning person, it’s the best time of the day, I would just like to wake up in my own time, come to and then start the day.  This last week has been particularly painful, and I actually mean physically painful. 

Wee Man is a toddler, that should be explanation in itself however I should probably elaborate.  Wee Man has decided that not content with his normal teddy he must take a different toy to bed every single night, quite frankly I’ll do anything to get him in his bed and to sleep.  Before I go on I should point out that my side of the bed is the furthest from the door but both kids still come round to my side of the bed to get in it.  You would think that they would sneak into bed via Braai Boys side but no, that would be too easy, they would rather clamber over Mama to get into bed.  Not sure which I would rather, being woken up by a Kid climbing over me or waking up to one of them inches from my face staring at me.  You guessed it, Miss Sassy used to sneak into bed and lie with her face millimetres from mine or just stand next to the bed staring.  I often woke up to her staring at me like something possessed, not going to lie it was a pretty scary way to wake up and there were times my heart nearly stopped.

Anyway, back to this week and my morning wake up calls courtesy of Wee Man:

0600  Monday  Foam Sword poked up my nose as Wee Man bounces on my tummy.

0555 Tuesday  Large plastic dinosaur (thanks Grandma) launched at my head as I am kneed in the chest.

0615 Wednesday Rubble x 3, Chase x 2 and Zuma (they’re Paw Patrols, just in case you wondered) strategically placed on my pillow and Wee Man using my legs as some sort of balancing beam.

0545 Thursday toy left in his bed, much to my relief as it was a great big red plastic fire truck, instead fingers were poked up my nose, in my ears and then my eyes prized open by Wee Mans fingers, just like that scene in Frozen and replace the line ‘Do you wanna build a snowman?’ with a toddler dinosaur roaring in your face. 

The Dinosaur from Grandma

By last night I had had it, enough was enough, no toys to bed, apart from the usual gang.  There were tears and tantrums trying to remove a variety of ‘must have’ toys (that was just from me).  However, I am pleased to report that today we are back to normal.  Just before 0615 a well sucked and very soggy teddy was plonked on my face whilst Wee Man clambered over me to get into ‘his’ bed, Happy FriYAY everyone!


I write lists, I write lists for lists and lists for lists for lists.  I blame my Mum, she always has a notepad in the kitchen which has lists, lots and lots of lists.  There are two main reasons I write lists.  Firstly, I am very forgetful, actually that’s not strictly true, I remember totally useless facts like the names of all the Paw Patrols, which fairies have what powers and the weekend programme schedule of CBeebies.  Secondly, I like to cross items off on a list it makes me feel like I have achieved something, anything and on really good days everything.

There have been days when I have written lists which include: 

  • Makes beds
  • Shower
  • Brush teeth
  • Miss Sassy packed lunch
  • Hoover
  • Food shop
  • School run
  • Nursery run
  • Homework
  • Kids dinner

Honestly, I am not even joking this was an actual list I had stuck to my fridge last week, I would have taken a pic but my writing is pretty illegible.  By the time I had put the kids to bed I had crossed off every single item on that list and it felt good.  You see, when I am having a day when I feel like I’m getting nowhere out comes the pen and paper and I write a list.  To ensure I get maximum satisfaction from the list it must include things that I will definitely achieve that day (see above).  At the end of the day when I’ve crossed off every single itty bitty item on that list I feel like Super Woman!

I don’t even have a specific place to keep all these lists they’re in notebooks, on sticky notes, on my phone, on the back of receipts stuck to the fridge.  At the moment I have a lot of lists on the go these include; Weekly Food Shop, Braai Boy Homecoming (more on that next week), Pack for move, Pack/snacks for car trip, To sell, Sh*t to sort, Stuff for charity and Stuff for new house (last HUGE Ikea shop coming up).  My lists are never ending, it drives Braai Boy bonkers especially because he can’t read my writing, seriously, if he goes to the shops I have to text him the shopping list.  Not sure if I should be slightly worried but Miss Sassy has also started writing lists, albeit nonsense, but lists just the same.

On that note I’m going to cross off Write Blog from my Tuesday To Do list.  Oh, and Happy Birthday Mum, yeeeeeees that’s another thing off the list.  Not even midday and I feel like I’m winning already!

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!

The Deployment Challenge

So, Braai Boy sent me a photo last week, I was pretty impressed to be honest I never knew he had it in him.  Come on people not that sort of photo! It was a screen shot of a run he had done. 

Apparently whilst away they’re doing a physical fitness challenge every month.  The latest challenge is who can run 10k the fastest.  Bloody hell, who wants to run 10k and in those temperatures? So, Braai Boy is taking part in the challenge,  now I have 2 issues with this:

  1. Braai Boy is getting fitter
  2. I’m not

Here’s the screenshot he sent me:

When I saw the screenshot this is what ran (no pun intended) through my head:

  • Time 38.44                     That’s an episode of Killing Eve
  • Distance 10.04km       That’s a return trip by car to our nearest McDonalds
  • Calories 872                   That’s a bottle of wine or 100 Lindor Balls

Whilst he is training like a lunatic to show the youngsters that he’s still ‘got it’, I am channelling the tortoise, slowly slowly wins the race.  Not that we are in competition at all, not really, sometimes, maybe a little bit now and then.  You see Braai Boy owns 3 different sizes of jeans they are pre deployment, R&R and post deployment.  I own one size of jeans in snug, snugger and even snugger.  My aim by his homecoming is to return to snug.

I’ve done my research which mostly involved watching Joe Wicks doing HIITs in just a pair of shorts.  Not going to lie I very much enjoyed researching how to get fit.  I’ve come to the conclusions that you need to integrate fitness into your daily routine.  Whilst it’s a great idea to try and do HIIT with the Kids around its virtually impossible.  Wee Man uses my legs as a tunnel when I’m attempting squats and Miss Sassy asks me question, after question, after question……..I can barely breathe let alone answer as I try to keep up with Mr Wicks.    

So, I had a look at my life, not in a deep and meaningful way, although that wouldn’t take too long.  I quickly realised that I am actually getting fit without even knowing it, who knew?!:

Cardio:   HIIT  – 30 seconds looking for a food item in the supermarket, 30 seconds chasing Wee Man as he runs down the aisle looking for the exit.  This can repeated in most public places.

Strength:  lifting or carrying either child when they’re upset, or being lazy, lazy, lazy or just lazy.

Stamina:  Stair climbing, every night without fail up and down the stairs a lot, a lot of times for the most bizarre Miss Sassy requests and questions.

Wow! I am feeling quite motivated.  Obviously I can’t do any fitness this morning as my 2 Personal Trainers are at school and nursery.  Instead I will have a coffee and continue my research with the lovely Mr Wicks (and his naked torso).  I never thought I would say this but instead of dreading taking the Kids to the supermarket I am very much looking forward to it, let the training begin!

The Deployment To Do List

I should really talk about my Deployment To Do List.  Every time he goes away I have all these grand plans, you know they type; start a new hobby, learn a language, learn to garden (then landscape it), run for Prime Minster and change the world as we know it.  I like to aim high.

In reality I know I am probably never going to achieve anything on my list but it’s a list and I LOVE a good list.  That brings us to Spring 2019.  I had all these plans when he said cheerio this time, this time I was going to get sh*t sorted.  So I wrote a list, itemising things that seemed fairly achievable in the ‘New Year, New Me, its 2019, let’s smash it’ frame of mind.  This years Deployment To Do List included:

  • Get fit
  • Get healthy
  • Make family photo albums
  • Paint the garden shed
  • Upcycle Wee Mans bed
  • Sort garage

It’s been 4 months so do you want to know how I’ve got on?

I have failed to get fit.  I’m a fair weather runner and as the sun rarely makes an appearance here (it’s not called the Emerald Isle for nothing) there’s been a handful of runs completed.  I do go to the odd lunchtime gym session but it’s more of a social event, if my legs worked as hard as my tongue I would have killer pins.

Getting healthy? Well, it really depends on what your idea of what healthy is doesn’t it?  I buy the healthy stuff and then spend time and energy bribing the kids to eat it.  Meanwhile, I’m reaching for a loaf of bread and jar of marmite and washing it down with a bottle of Irn Bru.  As usual I told Braai Boy that I would go ‘dry’ to support him whilst he was away, and as usual I broke after a week, I blame a particularly tense Dancing on Ice skate-off. 

Family albums? yeah one day, probably when the kids have left home.  As for Wee Man’s bed, well let’s be honest he’s a toddler and as long as the duvet cover has dinosaurs on it he doesn’t care.   Next week if its sunny I will make a start on the garage.  However if its it’s raining, which is highly likely, I won’t, you see the garage floods and I have a hole in my wellies

So, there we have it in 4 months I have completed one of items on my list.  The garden shed is painted. 6 weeks left to smash the rest of the list, I hear they’re looking for a new PM so watch this space!


Daddy Sweeties

Let’s talk about what it means when Daddy is away.  You’re a solo-parent, the decision maker, the stability, the good cop/bad cop to every argument, and often told ‘but Daddy would let me’ (no Miss Sassy, Daddy would not let you wear just your underwear and crocs to school).  With that in mind there is a need to keep life as normal as possible for the Kids.  If you speak to Wee Man he will tell you that Daddy is ‘at work’ and has looked after elephants in Africa, spiders in the jungle and camels in the desert, apparently I am married to David Attenborough!  For Miss Sassy it is a bit harder as she has a better concept of time, so we have to do something to keep her going until Daddy returns.

So, when Braai Boy goes away we have a jar, a jar which we fill with Smarties, one for everyday he is away.  The idea is that the Kids have one Daddy Sweetie everyday, and when the Daddy Sweeties are finished Daddy will be home.  Every time Daddy goes we have a ritual, Smarties are emptied on to the table, Daddy counts them and the Kids place them in the jar, or in their mouths much to Braai Boys annoyance as he carefully counted out each Smartie.  The Daddy Sweetie jar is brilliant because I can chuck more Smarties in if he is delayed returning.  Yes, I can see the knowing smile on many Deployment Divas faces – Return dates changed? Flights delayed? surely not!

Daddy Sweeties – Bribery/incentive/bad parenting (*delete as appropriate).  I prefer to see it as Kid Management.  How to get the Kids out of the house in the morning? No Daddy Sweetie until they are fed, clothed and at the front door (if we’re running late shoes are optional).  Refusal to eat anything green? Oh dear me, that’s one less Daddy Sweetie. Won’t go to bed? Oh well, that’s no Daddy Sweetie tomorrow.  Kids rolling round on the floor screaming, hissing, spitting trying to inflict maximum pain on one another? No Daddy Sweetie at all today, or perhaps the rest of the week!

It is a means to an end.  They see how close it is to Daddy’s return, and I get some kind of leverage on days when I am on the edge.  What’s not to like?

Deployment Diva

How did I end up here?  Married to a man in the Army, with 2 kids, in a town I don’t know, living a fair distance from Family and friends, on a career break and solo-parenting.  I blame a Christmas Party and Sauvignon Blanc, but that’s another story. 

Don’t get me wrong I kind of knew what I was signing up to when I married a man in the Army.  Most of my family have links to the military so it has always been a part of my life.  However, I naively thought that you marry the man and not the job (yes, yes, yes I see you shaking your heads in despair). Of course you marry for love, but I quickly realised that Braai Boy had a Mistress, the third person in our relationship…..his job.  On the plus side at least I am not competing with a svelte, youngster with curves in all the right places and stretch marks in none!

So, here I am a Deployment Diva (again).  Deployment is a funny thing, you miss them, of course you do. But then, you get into a rhythm and routine and life without them becomes the norm.  For the family left at home Deployment almost seems easier than for those that are deployed; they have no home comforts and a whole family to miss. 

That said, for the Deployment Diva having your ‘back-up’ in another country is tough.  You’re on call 24/7 for the Kids, there is rarely any down time, you cannot be ill or tired and then there’s the school runs and Mama’s taxi service.  Life becomes a bit like Ground Hog day, the same thing at the same time day after day after day.   But, as they say, every cloud, so let’s look at the positives ……you can star fish in bed, the remote control is all yours, you can eat all the food he hates, you make ALL the decisions about everything without having to compromise AND you can buy all the stuff you want without being questioned, ‘is that a need or a want?’ it’s neither dear husband but I must have it.

When Braai Boy’s away I survive on caffeine, Sauvignon Blanc, chocolate and trashy TV.  Now there’s a thing, trashy TV.  With full control of the remote I get to watch what I want, when I want and have no-one sitting next to me on the sofa muttering about my choice of TV.  On that note the its after 7pm, the Kids are quiet (they may even be asleep – pah! who am I kidding?), I am in control of the remote so I’m off to watch Love Island.