It’s a tough job but…..

Braai Boy has been to some really very interesting places since we have been married. Me?  Not so much.  I do not count the Worlds Food section in Tesco as seeing the world and I definitely do not think that suburbia can be classed as interesting.

As you may have gathered Braai Boy has travelled a fair bit for work.  He does get the occasional night or weekend off when he is working away.  Over the years he’s had fresh seafood in California, hot wings in Texas, cold beers in Chamonix and drank wine in a marina somewhere or other, I chose to forget where as it looked amazing and I was jealous.  I could go on but I will just get very jealous then be a right cow to him when he walks through the door tonight.

We always have the same ‘discussion’ about when he goes out when he is away for work.  I say that it must be fun to go to see all these places and experience different things.  I then get told,  it is work Charlie, so it is not time off and it is not fun time, it is work.  Oh I’m sorry, is it relaxing? Has someone else cooked for you? Have you had to do the dishes? More importantly have you just had to chase a naked Wee Man round the house to get him into the bath then spend the best part of 2 hours trying to get Miss Sassy to go to sleep (she is up and down like a bloody jack in the box, sore finger, spiky hips, pins and needles in her tummy and so on, you could write a book about her night-time ailments).  No, you have not!  So it may be work but I think it is slightly more relaxing that my evenings can be. 

Ah, but when I am away in a bar with an ice cold beer or eating delicious food we talk about work, so it’s really like being at work.  Is it?  Is it really?  I don’t see a marina outside the Mess here, and I definitely don’t see a bar in your office.  And whilst you are enjoying your ice cold beer in a bar surrounded by adults talking about adult stuff, albeit work, the kids and I are discussing Paw Patrols and LOLs. 

And while we’re at it have you had to do any cleaning whilst you have been away for work?  No?  Can we talk about the sh*t tip that is the house at the end of the day because the kids think that chucking glitter over all the toy cars is a great idea, Look Mama we’re washing the cars………..deep breath, walk out the room and go and make a cuppa. 

Then we get on to the actual travel element of his work trips.  Travelling to these places is so tiring, the early starts, the long journeys and the lack of sleep.  No wait. Early starts you say?  Yep I hear you, Wee Man stumbles through to our room most days at 0500, Miss Sassy is frequently awake through the night with bad dreams or random questions.  Early starts you say?  Broken sleep?  Yup happens at home too.  Not being funny I would take an early morning plane ride to anywhere if it meant I got to watch a movie without interruption and not have to google the answers to Miss Sassys many questions.  Last night was evolution…….Alexaaaaaaaa???

Don’t get me wrong, I know when he goes away it is work, and it is long hours and it is tough being away from the family but surely there must be some fun?  I know he thinks about us when he is away because he brings home a fridge magnet after every trip.  How thoughtful of him, every time I go to get the milk I see all these places I have never visited taunting me from the fridge door, oh well maybe one day. 

The Interior: Marvellous Magnolia

If any of you have ever stepped inside a military house you may have noticed a few things such as, magnolia walls, sinks in bedrooms and interesting colours of curtains and carpets.

Oh, the carpets, the thread bare, worn, stained carpets.  You know what I am talking about don’t you?  When you March-In to a Quarter and the Housing Officer tells you the carpets are beyond life and with 2 kids you jump for joy.  Yeeeees! No need to buy industrial quantities of carpet cleaner these carpets will be replaced when we March-Out, phew!  We’ve had cream carpets, green carpets, pink carpets even some weird blue-ish-green carpets.  Our last Quarter had the pink carpets, really very pink carpets and we have maroon sofas, I used to feel like I was watching TV sitting in a womb. 

The walls are always magnolia, every single wall in the house is magnolia.    To be honest I don’t mind magnolia, I grew up in military housing so there is something homely and comforting about magnolia walls.  I remember when we were dating, Braai Boy took me to his bosses for dinner.  It was one of those occasions when you are surrounded by Smug Military Marrieds and you are ‘girlfriend of’.  One of the ‘wives of’ took great delight in telling me all about her Quarter.  She told me about the best Laura Ashley fabrics and incredibly expensive pots of paint containing gold leaf (really?  What the actual?) which would transform any Quarter.  As she droned on I drank wine, lots of wine, you know what they say? that you drink to make boring people interesting, well by the end of dinner she was the most fascinating person at the table. 

Don’t get me wrong for those who do repaint their Quarters I absolutely take my hats off to them, they make their Quarters look fresh, modern and welcoming with a splash of colour here and there.  Unfortunately I am inherently lazy when it comes to decorating our home, we will move in 2 years so why bother?  I say that, but I like to decorate the kids rooms, decorate is probably a little generous a description, I buy them wall stickers.  In our last Quarter it was safari animals for Wee Man and fluorescent stars for Miss Sassy.  I stupidly stuck the stars to the ceiling thinking it would be like staring at the sky at night and it would be soothing for Miss Sassy and help her go to sleep.  What was I thinking?  More light emitting crap in her room, it is no joke when I say that at night her bedroom is light up like the Blackpool Illuminations, how she gets to sleep I’ll never know.  Ha! No wait, she doesn’t go to sleep.  This time round its looking like dinosaurs for Wee Man and Miss Sassy is still trying to decide but I can tell you now that the stickers will not be fluorescent and they will not be stuck to the bloody ceiling.

I think the feature that most of my friends have found the most bizarre about our Quarters is sinks in bedrooms.  Honestly, a sink with a mirror and sometimes even a strip light.  Well, why not?  Makes sense right? It frees up the bathroom for people to shower and you can stay in your room fannying about doing your teeth, hair and so on without people shouting at you to get a move on.  Have any of our visitors even puked or peed in the bedroom sinks? I dread to think, maybe? Probably? If you have please don’t tell me! 

I hate the kitchen light.  In every single kitchen we have had the light has been a 1 metre long tube light.  When I say tube light I don’t mean in the super trendy Grand Designs kind of way but in the hospital corridor kind of way.  They are very bright and a pain in the ar*e to clean.  As ugly as they are beasties are attracted to these tube lights.  I have no idea how they manage to penetrate the plastic cover, I find it nearly impossible to it get off.  In fact I only empty the light fitting of beasties when Braai Boy comments that it’s getting a bit full or before my Mum comes to visit.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve loved every single one of our Quarters in a different way, after all you make them your home. What I can tell you is that when we finally get our Forever Home, as opposed to our Just Now Home, I have lots of ideas of what I do and don’t want.  Don’t worry I suspect magnolia paint may make an appearance, just to make us feel at home.

The Potato and the Pirate

The weather yesterday was pretty miz.  The kids did arts and crafts in the morning, I say arts and crafts what I mean is Miss Sassy chucked glitter round the dining room and Wee Man stamped Play-Doh into the carpet.  To prevent further redecoration of our house and to save my sanity I decided we had to get out of the house.  So we headed in to town for a shoppette.

Now, here’s the thing Wee Man had been wearing a pirate outfit all weekend.  This pirate outfit has a top which has foam padding in the shape of pecs, it make Wee Man look like he’s stacked, it’s a bit odd to be honest, but he loves it. Anyway, he outright refused to take it off, there was no amount of bribery that was going to get that damn outfit off him. Don’t worry though as we left the house I was told by Miss Sassy that he’s a pirate mama, and pirates wear a uniform, just like Daddy.  So, if Daddy can leave the house in uniform so can my brother, Ok mama? Well, OK then that was me told!

Braai Boy was in desperate need of a suit, a shiny new suit to wear to work when he wasn’t in uniform.  Whilst Braai Boy looked for a suit I had Miss Sassy teaching a headless mannequin how to do the Cha Cha Cha daaaaarling, she is obsessed with Strictly and has started to impersonate Craig Revel-Horwood, give me strength.  As she was dancing with the mannequin singing the Strictly theme tune at the top of her voice, Wee Man was protesting at being strapped into his buggy LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! I WANT TO WALK NOOOOOOOW!   Erm, no son you can stay right where I can see you, not touching anything, not pulling anything just sitting shouting that will be just fine.  Needless to say we were that annoying noisy family in the store.

Before we were kicked out of the store I decided we’d better leave.  Braai Boy stayed to find his perfect post deployment suit and I headed to the M&S Food Hall with the kids.  There was me marching through the Food Hall pushing the buggy with Wee Man protesting at his incarceration and Miss Sassy doing her best Oti impression.  All we needed to get was a potato for the Roast.  I know I know, who was I kidding?  Its M&S for goodness sake, I never stick to my shopping list in M&S, I end up with all the yumminess I can carry.  I say carry because I never get a shopping basket or a trolley that would be far too dangerous.

Wee man was trying to escape his buggy, so as I wrestled him back in I sent Miss Sassy off to get the biggest potato she could find.  She came back and proudly showed me a potato with 2 stickers , it must be special mama it has 2 stickers. It’s all about the stickers in our house at the moment.  With Wee Man potty training he gets stickers as a reward.  To be honest it doesn’t matter what the sticker is of as long as he gets it.  So a potato with 2 stickers on is the best thing in the whole wide world for Wee Man.

The potato was now the most wanted prize for the kids.  Miss Sassy kept waving it just out of Wee Mans reach, then putting it on his lap and grabbing it just before he could get it, then she started donking him on the head with it.  I got down on one knee and quietly tried to resolve the situation my reward was being hit on the head by the prize potato.  Oh My days, give me strength! Its a bloody potato, its not like they could eat it.  I had to find a distraction. 

So with my 2 lovely kids shouting at each other about the prize potato I stomped off down the aisle.   Miss Sassy then requested everything she saw; Can we have prawns? Can we have some ham? Can we have that stuff there? Can we have a sweet? Can we have that? Can we have a pudding? No, no, no, no, no, YES! Yes you can have a pudding, give the potato to your brother, and you hold this. I placed a delicious looking cherry pie in her hands and told her under no circumstances could it be damaged (or used to hit Wee Man) as this was our pudding after our roast.

And that was that, our Sunday afternoons entertainment.  You will be pleased to hear that Braai Boy did indeed get a lovely new suit, which he is wearing today and that our cherry pie got home pretty much intact.  I’m now off to boil up the roast chicken bones to make stock for some homemade soup just like my Nanna used to make it. 

Note: I would have written this yesterday but Wee Man has the cold and needed a bit of TLC last night.

Getting the Quarter

It’s always exciting moving into a new house isn’t it?  Even more exciting when you have no idea what the house you will be living in is like inside, no I have not gone bonkers let me explain what I mean. 

Once your partner knows where their next job is they can then apply for a Quarter.  Is it like looking to rent on Right Move I hear you ask? Pa ha ha ha if only! 

So, lets take our move here as an example of the workings of the system, let’s call the system Mil-Move.  Braai Boy submitted the application for our Quarter on Mil-Move whilst he was deployed, just what he needed on top of all his deployment stuff was to have little old me on Whats App nagging; when will we have a house? Where will it be?  I need dates, dates husband I need dates and a postcode so I can sort out a school and nursery!?! 

Guess what?  Mil-Move showed no Quarters were available, nil, nada, nothing.  At this point we were 3 months out from moving and I was starting to get itchy feet, I needed to get on and do The Move research, very important things like, nearest McDonalds, 24hour garage and swimming lessons.

With me at the end of Whats App being nothing short of a total pain in the ar*e Braai Boy checked Mil-Move daily to see if any Quarters had come up.  A week went by and nothing, then another week still nothing and the day before our application was due to expire up popped a Quarter.  We had to act fast, if this was also offered to someone else we could lose it.  There was a flurry of Whats Apps between Braai Boy and I, he was trying to do his day job and I was in the middle of Tescos.  I didn’t ask for any details and told him to accept it, which he duly did.  Yeeeeees we had a Quarter! Happy as a pig in the proverbial because I could get on with researching our new neighbourhood I skipped round Tesco completing the weekly food shop.

And then he sent the photo (a screen shot from his computer), one single fuzzy photo of our new family home.  Forget white picket fence and flower beds full of roses.  The photo showed a house behind a wire mesh fence with a front garden that resembled an urban jungle and to top it all off part of the house had scaffolding on it.  My heart sank, was this his idea of a joke?  Nope, it was the image that was on Mil-Move, the only image on Mil-Move.  The descriptions are not much use either unless you’re interested in the thickness of the loft insulation or date the house was built, our was given a 20year window (houses used to take a long time to build back then don’t you know?).

So, with limited information like many other military families I would rely on the power of Social Media.  If you are lucky you can find someone who has lived in a similar Quarter and they may send you photos and if you are really very lucky floorplans.  In some cases your future neighbours may offer to take photos through the windows of the Quarter, once you see past the reflection of their phones in the windows these can be helpful.  In the past I’ve even had a woman knock on the door and ask (very politely and a bit embarrassed) if she could have a look round our Quarter and take some measurements for furniture as she was moving in to a similar Quarter down the street. You’ve got to love the military community.

Anyway, back to this Quarter. I distractedly packed the food shopping into bags whilst my mind when into overdrive I had images of my kids swinging monkey stylie on the scaffolding, getting lost in the front ‘jungle’ garden and scaling the wire mesh fences. But surely the Quarter would not be on the Mil-Move if it was in disrepair? Or would it? I hurriedly paid the cashier who must have thought I was bonkers as I had been muttering away to myself as I packed the shopping. Once I got home I would get on Social Media, in the meantime there was only one thing I could do, phone Sazzle. Sazzle is that friend who is always the voice of reason, the friend who has common sense in abundance and knows me better than I know myself. Ten minutes later she had calmed me down and told me she would do a recce of the Quarter and area the next day. You will be pleased to hear that the Quarter was scaffolding free, there was no sign of the wire mesh and Sazzle did not get arrested for loitering on MOD property.

And there we have it, Mil-Move at its best.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without the military community, good friends and social media.  We moved into our Quarter and it was absolutely fine, well apart from the blocked drains, blocked guttering and dodgy manhole covers, but apart from that all was good.  That’s enough from me, I’m off to chase some repair jobs with the contractor, wish me luck!

Banana-Gate: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing

Learning to live as a family again

It’s been over a month since Braai Boys been home.  There’s been some readjustment, as you can imagine.  It’s taken a while for the kids to understand that Daddy going to work this time doesn’t mean Daddy going to the desert, I think they’re missing their daily Daddy sweetie.  It’s alright though, Wee Man will be potty training soon so he can eat all the sweets all day, as long as he sits on the damn potty and stops throwing it at me.

We’ve been catching up with friends and family and are frequently asked ‘what’s it like being back together after 2 years of mostly living apart?’, our bog-standard answer is ‘it’s great!’.  Then I’m take aside and asked ‘how is it REALLY’.  Well, the last month has been like an extended team building exercise. 

When any employer told me we were going on a team building day I would get excited at the thought of a day paintballing where I could target any colleague who had p*ssed me off.  Sadly paintballing or other such fun was not to be had instead we were normally packed into a sweaty conference room, sat at tables which had a crappy free pen, a large bowls of boiled sweets and a bottle of luke warm water on it.  An HR Bod would be at the front delivering uninspiring slides about team building blah blah blah, followed by an activity or role play, urgh, makes me cringe just thinking about it.

The one presentation I do remember must have taken place first thing in the morning when I was buzzing from drinking a lot of coffee and eating most, ok all, of the sweets. The HR Bod talked about Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.  I think it’s because it all rhymed that I’ve always remembered it, similar to I before E except after C (which I still sing outloud when I am writing).  Basically this HR theory can be applied to our family life over the past month: 

Forming:  This was all about dependence on a leader, yep that’s me!  The kids have enjoyed telling Braai Boy frequently that Mama is the Boss, Mama knows best (they got that from the Disney movie Tangled) and Mama would let us do it.  That last phrase, Mama would let us do it, isn’t strictly true.  There are times when the kids have been destroying the house making their umpteenth den of the day and frankly I can’t be ars*d to argue with them so I let them get on with it. As the Boss, I am responsible for answering all the questions and making all the decisions, until the family have reached a point of harmony (pah!).  To help Braai Boy out I wrote him a Kids list, a list of changes to the kids, their likes and dislikes, routine changes and so on.  My expectation was for him to read, digest and act on said list to ensure a smooth re-entry into family life.  I know he read it.

Storming:  Does what it says on the tin really.  After being the sole decision maker for the last 2 years I now have to, I can barely type this, I now have to discuss things and even worse compromise.  Argh that awful word, compromise, I don’t think we had anything about compromise in our wedding vows, I must check that.  It is no longer what I say goes, no longer me making the decisions on everything all the time.  I actually have to ask for someone’s opinion, erm, yes, it’s been difficult for me to relinquish control.  You see, it’s not the big things that cause all the bother, it’s the small things.  We’ve had a few ‘lively discussions’ about really very important things like where pans should go in the kitchen, self-emptying dishwashers, where the hoover lives and what we should have for dinner. 

To be honest food appears to be the most ‘discussed’ topic in our house.  You see, I’m used to buying what food I want when I want, deciding what I eat and when I eat it, as long as the kids are fed and happy I have no-one else to worry about.  When I try to plan dinner this is pretty much how the conversation goes ‘what do you fancy tonight?’  ‘I don’t know you decide’, ‘I decide every night why don’t you decide’, ‘I can’t think I’m tired’, ‘so am I, how about pizza?’, ‘nah I don’t fancy that’, ‘what about stirfry’, ‘nah too much chopping’, ‘Jackets potatoes?’, ‘nope that’s lunch not dinner’, ‘Ok so what don’t you want’, ‘I don’t know’ and so on. 

Norming:  Settling in to family life again, we all now know where we stand.  At this point I would like to point out that the kids still say that Mama is the Boss but Daddy makes the best egg sandwiches and basically does everything better than Mama, but I am still the Boss so I will take that. 

Performing:  Getting on with life and that’s where we are now, life has settled down, especially now the kids are back at school, Braai Boy is at work and I can actually get sh*t done.

Despite going through our extended family team building last week we had an incident.  This could have been avoided if Braai Boy was psychic, sadly he is not.  Let’s talk about Banana-gate.  Braai Boy returned from deployment fit, healthy and slim, really very slim.  Me?  After the school holidays, The Move and the family holiday I was back to snugger jeans.  Time to sort myself out.  First up was to start eating brekkie and not just filling up on coffee.  The healthy option was banana on toast, easy because there are always bananas and bread in the house.  So, there was me, all set for Day 2 of healthiness skipping down the stairs to have another yummy fruit filled brekkie when I got to the fruit bowl and the last banana was gone.  I stood there like some kind of idiot just staring at the fruit bowl.  The last banana had gone, MY last banana had gone. 

When he got home that night I questioned his choice of breakfast, he stated ‘You don’t like brown bananas Charlie’ to which I replied ‘That’s not the point, it was my banana, brown or not it was mine’, he frowned at me and said ‘You would have thrown it in the bin and not eaten it’, to which I replied ‘Yes, but it was MY banana to throw away’, ‘But Charlie that’s a waste of food’, I rolled my eyes and feigning defeat sighed ‘It’s OK, don’t worry about it’

Little did he know I had just used one of the 5 Deadly Terms Used By A Woman.  Looks like we may be back to storming for a while.  Given his lack of psychic skills I have sent him the list of Deadly Terms, you know, just to remind him that what I say and what I mean are rarely the same thing.  Anyway enough wittering on for today, I’m off to decide what we’re having for dinner, no wait, he’s not here, jacket potato it is then.

En Vacances

We got back from holiday last week and as with all holidays it feels like forever ago.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I try to speak a different language I take on some weird accent.  When I try and speak French my accent has a cockney twang.  Basically I speak Del Boy French, mange tout mange tout, bonnet da douche and so on.  You know what though?  At least I try, it doesn’t matter if I am not understood I have given it a good shot and as I tell the kids all you can do is try your best.  Two days into the holiday and I got an eye infection argh, no contact lenses therefore no shades therefore lots of wrinkle inducing squinting humph!  Armed with some French medical phrases looked up on t’internet off I went to the Pharmacy.  I needn’t have bothered, the pharmacist thought I was talking English and we ended up doing very many hand gestures before she produced some eye drops.  Well, they were either eye, nose or ear drops, not entirely sure which.  Either way they worked.

We spent time on the beach, in the pool, on the water slides and in the soft play.  Yes, that’s right in the softplay.  Those of you who know me know I am not a fan of soft play I would rather stick pins in my eyes whilst watching Mr Tumble.  This soft play was different, the French know how to do a soft play, there was a bar.  There was a bar that sold ice cold beer in fancy pants glasses.  The weather wasn’t amazing but we are British so we are used to the rain, I kept telling the kids their skin was waterproof and a little rain never hurt anyone, apart from when I nearly went arse over tit outside the shop on the wet tiled floor.

The one thing that really tickled me this holiday was one British family.  The Dad was one of those that took photos upon photos and with every photo he shouted at his kids ‘Say FROMAGE!’.  Right, I get being in a different country and using the language, in my case badly, but to take a photo you want people to smile.  So just try this whilst you read, say cheese………….your mouth is forced into a plastic fake smile (think Wallace and Gromit) but at least it is close to a smile.  Now say Fromage……….you end up looking like you are catching flies, mouth wide open and several double chins.  Their holiday pics are going to be hilarious.

Our journey back from holiday was looooooooong. In short we were up at 0430hrs and got home at 2030hrs.  Before we had even left the campsite I had set off the fire alarm after having a shower with water that was near boiling.  The kids were out of bed like a bullet and it probably woke our neighbours up, I didn’t really care about the neighbours given Mrs Shouty next door had no volume control, right back at ya Mrs!  The first few hours of the journey were done in darkness, sadly not silence.  As Miss Sassy was educating Wee Man about the dark or as she charmingly called it the Chasm of Death!  According to Miss Sassy in the dark everything looks bigger, everything looks enormous, almost giant like, right, that’s it, with my thighs it’s sex with the lights on from now on!

There’s that saying isn’t there, if Carlsberg did, well if Carlsberg did ferries they would have done the Brittany ferry we travelled home on.  There was soft play, a pantomime, a colouring competition, circus skills, dance offs, games and a cinema.  It was 8 hours of pure joy for the kids.  The ferry was full of parents of young children looking like they needed a bucket of coffee, a sh*t load of patience and another holiday.  The entertainment team did their job well, winding the kids up to near bursting then leaving the parents to get their over tired, over excited lovelies back into the car for the onward journey.  Wee Man was asleep before we hit the M27, and as for Miss Sassy, she was awake, in fact she didn’t give up and sleep until we were home and unpacked, she’s a stubborn one. So that’s our holiday for this year, now to get back to normal, whatever that is?  Back to my lists.  I have a list of house stuff to sort which is my priority, followed by a back to school list and then there’s the garden jobs list.  But my first job today is to replace the light bulbs throughout the house, the brighter the better, no big, enormous, giant anything here.

The Holiday Journey

In our wisdom Braai Boy and I decided that we should book a holiday for the week after we moved. Basically we unpacked our clothes only to repack 7 days later, it’s like we can’t get enough of suitcases and cramming the car full to the brim. The bonus with this trip was we were taking his car and the AC works, despite me forgetting to drive his car whilst he was deployed it started no problem.

Travelling with Braai Boy is very military, it’s all about the planning. Bags are packed just so, timings made, driving route set and contingency plans made. If any of the plan is not adhered to then he’s not a happy bunny. So, there was me rushing about like a woman possessed to achieve the house departure time. We had an early lunch, forced Miss Sassy to do a just in case wee, found and packed their favourite toys and charged all electronic devices, I was a whirlwind of organisation. So much so that we left the house 20mins before Braai Boys ETD. I skipped down the front path to the car high fiving myself singing ‘good job mama’, chuffed to bits we were ahead of schedule.

Off we set in high spirits ready for a much needed holiday. The M25 was a bit sticky but the kids were plugged in so we had a lovely quiet journey, until the A3. On joining the A3 Miss Sassy unplugged (nooooooooo!) and talked at us for the rest of journey, her monologue was only interrupted by a video call (on my phone) to one of the Glitter Girls. Any video call between the Glitter Girls is basically two girls talking at each other, so Miss Sassy pretty much continued her monologue, she barely stopped to breathe. No idea where she gets her chatterbox tendencies from, do you?

Before getting on the ferry we needed to feed the Kids, when asked what they wanted to eat the consensus was the Chicken Shop. Whilst we sat waiting for Braai Boy to return with the food I found a table by the window and was meant to be entertaining the Kids. I didn’t do a great job, Wee Man stood licking the window banging the glass at pigeons and Miss Sassy pointed at passers by commenting on their clothes. Her best comment was ‘that’s not a skirt mama, she’s wearing shorts, they don’t make skirts that short’ oh my darling girl I can’t wait until you’re a scream-ager and your Daddy questions the length of your skirt!

We booked on to the ferry and all was going so smoothly until we got to security. Of course we were stopped, questioned and made to get out of the car. We were then ‘invited’ to walk through the security scanner. Guess who the bloody thing beeped at, yup, me! Confused as to why I was setting off the alarm, the female security officer used her magic wand. Every time it passed over my chest the alarm went off much to the Kids amusement, ‘look mama has beeping boobies’, thanks kids! It’s was the underwire of my bra. With the mystery solved me and my beeping boobies got back in the car ready to get on the over night ferry.

Once we got in the cabin it was the usual faff trying to get the kids to sleep. To save our sanity Braai Boy got us some wine from the bar. The bathroom was too small to sit in and the corridor too narrow to sit in. With the kids thrashing about over excited and over tired we ended up standing between the bunks in the semi dark silently sipping wine, that’s right people, we know how to party. It wasn’t the greatest nights sleep but a bucket of coffee soon sorted us out.

So, you’ll be pleased to hear we made it to the campsite and found the soft play and it has a bar in it, oh my days I think I have a new found love for soft play. Then with the car unloaded and the kids suncreamed up, I got my beeping boobies into my swimmers and we hit the pool. Happy holidays!

The Move Part 3: Execution

That’s us in our new Quarter.  We were ‘homeless’ for a week.  It’s good to be surrounded by our stuff again, albeit mostly in boxes, so now the unpacking begins, it’s time to make this house our home.

So how did we actually get here? The easy bit was the removals, the big yellow truck turned up and packed up our house in less than 48hours. For the family Braai Boy and I decided we would divide and conquer the beast that is The Move. Braai Boy was left the Clean and Fix list, he had to get the Quarter up to March Out standard or we risked being charged, you know for things like more than 4 nail holes in one room. Whilst he mopped, hoovered, holed filled, wheelie bin cleaned, gardened, swept, bleached and generally sweated a lot I took the kids on a road trip. Now, let’s be clear, Northern Ireland is not the arse end of nowhere, it is a 2 hour ferry trip to Scotland, so why it takes a whole week for the Removals to get from there to here is beyond me. I know there is probably some perfectly reasonable logistical reason, but then again maybe not, who knows?

Please do not think that the Army kick us out of one Quarter and expect us to be homeless for a week, we are offered a hotel. Ah, yes a hotel for a few days what total and utter bliss, no washing, no cleaning, no cooking, just total and utter relaxation. Wait a minute, have you met Miss Sassy and Wee Man? Getting the kids to bed and to sleep is a mission, they’re like bloody jack in the boxes with verbal diarrhoea. When they finally give up Braai Boy and I end up sitting on the floor in the bathroom or hotel corridor watching movies on our phones with a glass of wine. This is not ideal for two reasons, first the acoustics in bathrooms aren’t great (no we don’t use headphones as I like to talk through most movies much to the annoyance of Braai Boy) and secondly sitting on the floor in the hotel corridor clutching a glass of wine you do get some odd looks from other guests.

The road trip was great fun, to get from Scotland to the South we broke up the journey by visiting family.  We stopped by my Wee Bro and his family and their lovely pet Lola the Wonderdog.  The Kids and I added the Wonderdog bit, she’s not actually a superhero pet although pretty close given what she puts up with from the Kids.  I haven’t dared tell me Wee Bro that we have been looking for a superhero cape to fit her, nothing too offensive but something to make her standout, you know pink with yellow edging and a great bit L on it.    After a few days of general chaos we headed South to see my Mum on the HOTTEST day on record.  I didn’t think that through did I?  There was also the teeny tiny issue of no AC in my car.  Late one Friday afternoon, a mechanic had reliably told me that to fix the AC would cost more than my car is worth, so I didn’t get it fixed why would I? it was never that hot in Northern Ireland.

Not going to lie it was the longest, noisiest, hottest road trip I’ve ever done.  Made even longer because I went one junction the wrong way on the M1.  I had been distracted by Wee Man talking about Paw Patrol and before I knew it we were heading to Sheffield and not London (I didn’t tell Braai Boy).  We weren’t actually talking more shouting as all the windows were open, I’d like to point out that this was not cooling at all, it was like having a hairdryer blasted in your face, for 7 hours, 7 very hot, noisy, sweaty hours.

As we made the sweaty journey South I had time to reflect on the last 2 years.  I thought about what we were leaving behind, apart from a dirty house, a stressed out Braai Boy and some tea swilling packers.  I’ll miss the people most, I’ll miss the chats in the school playground and Kids clubs, I’ll miss bumping into people in the supermarket and blocking the aisles much to the annoyance of the Home delivery pickers.  I’ll miss the camaraderie of the Deployment Divas, the knowing nods and smiles when the kids are playing up and you look like utter sh*t as you are done solo parenting, because they get you, they know and most importantly they do not judge.  You know what though?  The Army is such a small place that I know we will see some familiar faces in years to come.

Any other thoughts I had were cut short with the usual ‘are we nearly there yet?’, ‘mama I need a weeeeeeeee’, ‘mama shes looking at me, tell her to stop looking at me’, ‘mama the tablets not working’ or ‘mama can I have a snack?’. 

On that note I’d best be off, Miss Sassy wants a snack, Wee Man wants some juice and there’s stuff to put away.  Oh, and there’s also the Contractor to call to get sh*t fixed around the house, that’s a whole different blog right there.

Freezer Roulette

Here we are with 3 days until The Move.  OMG 3 days, 72 hours that’s not long at all.  This week I got serious about The Move, the boxes are piling up, the cleaning frenzy continues and I started one of my favourite food games, Freezer Roulette.  At the mere mention of Freezer Roulette Braai Boy rolls his eyes and inwardly sighs because he knows what’s coming, good job he has been away all week really isn’t it?

Before I go on I need to point out that my lovely Nanna has influenced my freezer habit.  Nanna always used to say ‘waste not want not’, you never threw food away, if you could freeze it you did.  If there were vegetables on the turn you made lentil soup, bones left from a roast were boiled up for stock, nothing was ever wasted.  The chest freezer in her and Gramps garage was always full to bursting, after all you never knew when you would have visitors.  The family would joke that she could feed an entire Battalion with the contents of the freezer (don’t even get me started on the tins and jars).  So, like Nanna I freeze left overs, and I mean even the smallest portion, telling myself I will bulk it up with veg or something or other.  Unlike Nanna I do not label anything that goes in the freezer.

This week I started playing Freezer Roulette.  Its all about choosing a container from the freezer, looking at the contents and guessing what it is, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  On Monday I thought I had defrosted savoury mince and mashed potato it turned out to be gravy and bread sauce.  Tuesdays leek and potato soup was actually cheese sauce which I ate like soup anyway as I was hungry, I am sure in Switzerland cheese soup is a thing, isn’t it?  Wednesday wasn’t too bad, what I was thought bolognaise turned out to be chilli, it went well with pasta.  Yesterday I didn’t want any surprises so I opted for fish fingers, chips and peas (finished off all the packs, yes!).  Well, it saved the kids having them today, I never thought I’d say this but I think the kids may be getting fed up with chips.

The kids have had chips and peas with most meals this week.  Come on people, peas and potatoes are vegetables, so it’s two of their 5 a day.  The Kids have also been eating a lot of ice lollies, despite the awful weather I have told them it is a lovely summer holiday treat to have an ice lolly every single day.  They are fruit flavoured lollies so we’re now up to three of their 5 a day, mama winning right there and I was just clearing the freezer.

You’ll be pleased to hear that as of lunch time today, I defrosted the last plastic container and it turned out to be a random vegetable soup, there is only a tub of ice-cream left in the freezer.  Tomorrow is the Mess Summer Party which I am very, very much looking forward to, mostly because I will eat a normal meal which hopefully doesn’t involve chips and peas.

Happy FriYAY!

The Flag Shop

Wee Man and I had a little outing yesterday, we needed to get a bucket, some storage boxes and a mop, oh, and some Ikea napkins for my Mum.  Yes, that’s right we are still cleaning ready for The Move, it’s never ending.  We needed a new bucket because the Glitter Girls had used all of our buckets for their potions, I could chuck the potions away but the grief Miss Sassy would give me really isn’t worth it.

First stop was Home Bargains. As I went to put the mop and bucket in the trolley Wee Man grabbed the mop and put the bucket on his head, well, if you were 2 you would do the same thing, I am sure.  I was now pushing the trolley, or should I say trusty metal steed, round the shop with my very own dinosaur knight (please note he won’t sit in a trolley he stands).  I lost count of the number of apologies I made as Wee Man jousted down the aisles in his metal steed, dinosaur roaring for me to go faster whilst knocking stuff off shelves and prodding people.  We ended up leaving Home Bargains with a mop, bucket and a large plastic dinosaur.  I don’t know how the dinosaur made it into the trolley but by the time we got to till I could not be bothered with an argument and needed a coffee.

Armed with his shiny new dinosaur off we went to Ikea, or the flag shop as the kids call it.  First stop was the café I really needed caffeine.  We queued not-so patiently for the hot food because Wee Man wanted SAUSAGES AND BEEEEEEEEAAAANS, I knew he wanted sausages, the whole queue knew he wanted sausages, and I think the whole store knew he wanted sausages.  You see given half a chance Wee Man would live off sausages.

Then disaster struck, OK not like the worlds going to end disaster more like Wee Man is going to lose his sh*t disaster.  As we got closer to the counter I heard the server saying they had no sausages.  I had to think fast to avoid a hangry Wee Man meltdown, no-one needs to see that at 10am on a Monday.  Then I saw it – Vegetarian Breakfast.  Boom mama winning right there, it had a sausage, albeit it non-meat but maybe I would get away with it if I called it a special sausage.  I did not get away with it, I ended up wearing it, it appears that like his father he is very much a carnivore.

With the caffeine kicking in and the dinosaur fed and watered (the Dino ‘ate’ the veggie sausage) it was time to shop.  Kids trollies are both genius and lethal.  Wee Man can push a trolley and fill it with random sh*t, just like Mama.  Lethal in that my ankles have taken a battering as Wee Man raced to keep up with me on my shopping mission.  Also, I think I’ve sprained my shoulder (can you even do that?) from grabbing at his trolley many times to prevent breakages.  It was as I was lunging to stop Wee Mans trolley taking out the wine glasses that I heard a lady saying ‘Good to see he has a face!’ I turned around wondering who she was talking to, I then recognised a woman who had been ‘mop jousted’ in the last shop, such a proud parent moment.

We made it through the Market Hall only to enter the racking (is that warehouse speak or do you know what I mean?)  you know the place where all the furniture is up on shelves.  Well, Wee Man thought this was the best ever climbing frame, at one point he was scaling the end of an aisle because ‘I want to jump Mama’, erm no son you bloody well don’t.  Next thing, he’s run down the aisle and gone into the racking, I thundered after him grabbing his ankle just before he disappeared behind the boxes.  Dragging him out he was fuming, apparently it’s not fair, well son there’s a life lesson right there, life’s not fair.  We then had a stand off over a stuffed panda, arms crossed, bottom lip sticking out, feet stamping and a massive frown on his face.  Could I get him to move? We stared at each other for what felt like ages, other parents walked past smiling at me sympathetically.   I then broke, I was desperate for the loo, opting for the bribery option I told him there was a hotdog waiting for him after the tills, that got him moving.  Wee Man got his sausage in the end and this one he didn’t throw it at me.

So, Mum, you know how you asked me to pop to Ikea to get you some napkins?  Well, I forgot the napkins because your dinosaur carrying, trolley dangerous driving, grumpasaurus of a grandson distracted me.  Braai Boy you will also be pleased to hear that I did not buy one single candle but we are now the proud owners of a green parasol.

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