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!

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.