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.

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.

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. 

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!