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.