A Braai Boy Braai

Before I met Braai Boy I thought that Braai was just an African word for a BBQ, oh how wrong I was.  A Braai is much much more than cooking food in the open air over charcoal, under an umbrella whilst cremating sausages.  A Braai is a process, it is a celebration of booze, banter and all things meaty.

Being in the Army one of Braai Boys favourite sayings is:  Prior Preparation Prevents a Piss Poor Performance, this has been said to me many times over the years, good job I love a list isn’t it?  Braai Boy applies this to a Braai,  there is a specific sequence of events that need to take place to ensure it’s a success.

Braai Boy spends hours, that may be a slight exaggeration, researching marinades and recipes, his aim is to ensure that the meat will be the most tender and the most tasty meat ever.   Off to the butchers he trots with his list, yes he does write them occasionally.  At the butchers he is like a Kid in a sweetie shop he wants ALL the meat.  When he returns home sometime later he proudly shows me all his meaty purchases.  There is one item that is guaranteed to be in the shopping bag every time, his eyes will light up as he shows me the biggest, bloodiest, thickest piece of cow he can possibly get.  I feign interest nodding and ‘uh-huh’ing when appropriate, all the while wondering how much he’s spent when I could have got 3 BBQ packs for a tenner at the supermarket.

I then leave him in the kitchen to prepare the meat, and no I don’t offer to help, the Braai is his baby and it’s my night off cooking.  With the meat marinating in the fridge off he pops to the shops, Braai Boy can pop to the shops because he doesn’t have to take two kids with him, I rarely get to pop anywhere.  On his return we once again have the big reveal, the ales for the cooking, the wine for the eating and the sides to go with the meat.  When I say sides I actually mean a bag of prepared salad, the Braai is all about the meat, the salad is just for show.  Once upon a time when we were newly weds I made roast veg couscous and goats cheese for dinner, I was very impressed with my venture into vegetarian cooking.  Braai Boy got home, looked at the plate of food then opened the oven looking for the meat, there was none, he was not impressed, you see, Braai Boy doesn’t do no meat, I have never ever made a vegetarian dish ever again.  Anyway, I digress.

Next he gets round to setting up the actual Braai.  Charcoal and firelighters are placed, yes that’s right, placed not chucked, into the chimney.  Then the fire is lit, and we wait.  Once the charcoal is white the coals are carefully almost lovingly, poured into the Braai and the grill placed over them.

At long last, we are on to the main event. 

Now this is where all the action happens, or not as the case may be.  You’ve heard the expression it’s a marathon not a sprint?  Well, that can be applied to a Braai Boy Braai.  With a beer in one hand and the tongs in the other Braai Boy takes his position by the fire, and so it begins. 

A word of warning here, if you are invited to our house for a Braai do not arrive hungry, you could be in for a long wait for food.  The cooking is slow and steady, the drinking not so much.  Standing round the Braai is about the banter, the beer and the meat.  Pretty much this is how it goes:  drink, chat, turn meat, drink, chat, drink, chat, turn meat, drink, chat, drink, chat, turn meat, and so on until everyone is half cut and starving and only then is the food finally served.

That said, tonight we will BBQ, you see Braai Boy is at work and the preparation is left to me.  I’ll be dragging Miss Sassy and Wee Man down to the shops to pick up 3 for a tenner.

Happy FriYAY!

Thank you, you lovely lot

Now that Braai Boy is home I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to family and friends.  It’s been a tough 2 years for our family with a lot of separation made even more difficult because I can’t just jump in my car when things are tough and drive to see my nearest and dearest. 

We’ve had so much support from everyone, being spurred on by comments like ‘you’ve got this’, ‘you’re smashing it’, ‘you rock’ and so on.  What people didn’t see was when the house was a mess, toys strewn everywhere (Dinosaurs grrrrr), dishes in the sink, washing to be put on/folded/put away.   When the Kids refused to go to sleep, when I’d been upstairs to sort out a sore nostril, an itchy bum, that weird noise in the duvet cover or answering really important questions like ‘How many wrinkles do you have mama?’(yes, I know what you’re thinking Miss Sassy is very good at giving your morale a boost).

I joke about the grey hairs, honestly, I now have to dye my hair more frequently or risk resembling Cruella de Vil, in looks not personality of course.  I worry that make up free I could easily audition and get a part in the Day of the Dead parade, ghost white and dark, dark, very very dark circles under the eyes.  Miss Sassy can now operate Netflix and Sky, Wee Man is a pro on the tablet and they have a lot of Happy Meal toys.  I don’t think I have ever eaten so much marmite on toast or drunk so much coffee, not even decaff, I mean proper strong stand your spoon up in it coffee.

But you know what? It’s all ok, we have survived and that’s all thanks to the love and support of those around us. 

Here’s a few things that I am grateful for:

  • The friend who wrestled Wee Man into his car seat when I had no more fight left in me.
  • The friend who took Miss Sassy for the day when Wee Man and I were throwing our guts up and couldn’t function.
  • The friend who paid for a flight and gave up a weeks holiday to look after Miss Sassy when I couldn’t get childcare in the school holidays.
  • The mums in the playground and at clubs who made me laugh and would listen to me whinge on the tough days, ok I know it wasn’t only the tough days, it was most days.
  • The friends and family who paid for flights to come and see us, sorry the weather was so rubbish.
  • The friend who came over to celebrate Wee Mans 1st birthday when Daddy wasn’t here.
  • The friends who tidied away the toys at the end of the day, please note my usual form is to kick them into a pile and ignore them.
  • The neighbour who had Miss Sassy for sleepovers, little did she realise just how much Miss Sassy can actually talk.
  • The Welfare team who put on events that filled the kids with sugar and kept them entertained, giving me a much needed break from parenting.

Finally, A HUGE thank you to all you lovely lot who messaged me and didn’t expect a response, who called me and did not expect a call back.  Thank you to those who have visited us, not to see the Game of Thrones touristy stuff but to see us, to play with the Kids and drink wine with me.  The love and support we had received from our family and friends has been absolutely wonderful.

Wow!  I am going to stop right there, that’s enough pink and fluffy for one day.  I think Eeyore sums it up pretty well so I will leave you with this:

‘A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference

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!

Lists

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!