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.

The Sleepover

Miss Sassy had a sleepover and not just any sleepover a Glitter Girls Sleepover, what was I thinking I hear you ask?  Well it all kind of came about like this.

Miss Sassy is struggling with The Move this time, it’s her 3rd move in 5 years, she’s made great friends and 4 of them have even formed a Girl Band called The Glitter Girls.  The Glitter Girls need a lot (a lot a lot) of practice but I’m fairly confident they have a future, so much so, that I’m already choosing my dress for the Brit Awards in 10 years time.  The other week Miss Sassy was really miserable, upset that Daddy’s Big Bad Boss (sorry your Majesty!) was making us move again.  As I was doing the dinner dishes I was thinking of ways to cheer her up and that’s when I had an amazing idea, we should have a sleepover. 

So, without thoroughly thinking through what a sleepover might entail I got totally overexcited and leaving the dishes to do themselves I rushed through to the lounge to interrupt her Netflix viewing.  Standing in front of the TV to ensure I was acknowledged I excitedly asked her, in a kind of high pitched voice ‘Do you want to have a goodbye sleepover party with the Glitter Girls?  Wow! Me and my big mouth, you see this is typical of me, my Dad used to say Mouth in gear, brain in neutral.  Really? What the hell was I thinking four 6 year olds girls, four 6 year old girls who do not stop talking, EVER. 

Braai Boy had no choice in the matter, he was away and I made the decision.  So, his first Saturday home he helped host The Glitter Girls Sleepover.  That’s right, after 2 months away I know how to show my husband a good time ladies and gentlemen. 

I will spare you all the sparkly, glittery details needless to say there was a braai, there was bickering, potions were made, ninja moves perfected, dance routines made-up and Glitter Girl games played.  We put on the Crazy Daisy sprinkler, which they thought was the best fun, yes it was fun but it also meant we didn’t have to bath them.  They slept in the lounge in army issue sleeping bags which they didn’t mind one bit ‘look we’re just like our daddies’

We filled them with sugar whilst they watched movies and played games then expected them to go to sleep.  I mean come on I’ve done this parenting malarkey long enough to know that sugar does not equal sleep.  Braai Boy could not understand why four 6 year old girls would not do what he said, erm, that’s because they are 6 and ate all the sweets in the house.

On Sunday I was tired, Braai Boy was very tired, the Glitter Girls were very, very tired, we were all tired.  All of us except Wee Man who smashed out a 12 hour sleep and was bright as a button.  Sunday morning Wee man spent his time running round the garden in his PJ’s after being made an honorary member of the Glitter Girls and their ultimate side-kick, good job he doesn’t mind wearing fairy wings and having his nails painted.

You know what?  The Glitter Girls told me they had the best time EVER and Miss Sassy had the biggest smile on her face so it was totally worth it.  No sleepovers this weekend but maybe Miss Sassy and I will have a sugar free movie night.

Happy FriYAY!

The Move Part 2: Logistics

Two weeks today the removals team and their big yellow truck will be arriving, The Move is starting to feel real now.  Hopefully it will all go smoothly given that Braai Boy and I planned The Move whilst he was deployed.  We decided on dates for removals, move out and move in, as well as chose our next Quarter (house) and Miss Sassy’s new school all via Whats App.  To be honest, using the power of technology to the plan The Move has probably saved many arguments.  If I didn’t like something he said I just didn’t reply to his messages.  Please don’t judge me, I’m sure you have done the same, maybe? 

The removals survey was completed via video call, so I really hope they got the metrics right.  I had tidied the house before the call, for that read I had thrown stuff in cupboards and drawers.  Guess what the first thing the surveyor requested was? Yup that’s right, that I opened up ALL the cupboards.  I was so embarrassed as clothes and toys and general crap tumbled out.  I did mumble something about asking Miss Sassy to tidy up and look at what an awful job she had done, yes I know bad, awful, terrible parent blaming my child! 

The Pre-March Out was completed a few weeks ago, for those who are unfamiliar with Army chat, this is when the Housing Officer comes to your house to talk about handing back the Quarter.  With images of him returning for the March Out wearing white gloves and carrying a magnifying glass I rapidly started writing my ‘Clean and Fix’ List.

Armed with the ‘Clean and Fix’ List I then had to do some research.  Now, maybe it’s just me and I am late to the party but when did lemons, white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda become the solution for cleaning nearly everything?  Also, mayonnaise to remove crayon from walls?  That’s bloody genius!  Your kids have stuck Paw Patrol stickers all over the wall and you can’t peel them off? No problem, use a hair dryer on a low heat, who knew?

You can now call me Charlie Fix-it Mama, armed with super duper superglue the carpets have been secured, bits of lino stuck down and the vertical blinds fixed.  Speaking of windows I need to find all the window keys.  I am slightly concerned that Wee Man has had a hand in their disappearance.  Yesterday when I was taking down the curtains Wee Man was being ‘helpful’.  You should know that he has a thing for flushing toilets, especially when someone is sitting on them (visitors are always advised to lock the door!).  Anyway, the little whatsit was taking the curtain hooks and chucking them into the loo, then flushing them away, clapping his hand and shouting ta-daaaaaaa every time.  It took about 3 flushes before I realised what he was up to.  I really hope the window keys haven’t suffered the same fate as the curtain hooks. 

So, with The Move logistics wheels in motion I have started to have a good sort out.  There are bags ready to be taken to the charity shops although I suspect that given previous experience they will stay in the boot of my car until the day we are meant to get the ferry.  I have piles of stuff in each room that I need to pack, I just need to bother my arse to get some packing boxes and find some bubble wrap which Miss Sassy hasn’t popped all the bubbles on.   

Well, that’s it for now. This has been my break from doing Move sh*t. I’m off to clean with my new found ‘products’. Just thinking, I really hope that the next occupant isn’t pregnant with a craving for mayonnaise otherwise she may find herself licking the walls. Oh well, at least they will be clean.

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