Today we’re travelling to Thailand at the Eldest’s request, and I’ll tell you for why…
Now, let me tell you about Batavia…
Way back in 2003, my then-brand-new forever-friend and I (let’s just go ahead and call her Harlett O’Farta , shall we?!) lived and volunteered in Malaysia. We ventured up to Thailand during the Christmas break and picked up twin dolls from Bangkok market; Morag had blue hair, Batavia had pink hair and they were both decidedly awesome. Both wore glittering bikinis and chunky boots; an excellent look in Thailand, but a huge faux pas in Malaysia. So we made them new outfits- headscarves and all- because we were decidedly geeky. Post-placement, we travelled throughout South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand with our mascots in tow- creating new costumes in each country and adding sneaky landmark pictures to their personal photo albums! (I know you hope I’m joking but I’m really not). Back home, I continued the tradition for a good few years, (in fact, she still wears her bridesmaid dress from my best friend’s wedding!) But, alas, her photo album is now lost and she no longer comes on holidays. (As I recall I just got too old and boring; though Husband maintains that he was the one who actually drew the line when he caught her eyeballing him from a hotel bedside table! Personally, I feel I would have remembered that conversation…)
ANYWAY. I digress.
Back to present day, and lo and behold my eldest daughter has resurrected Batavia! She made her a bed and a new dress and asked to go to Thailand this weekend because she wanted to take her home. Honestly, the heart swells!
So we did.
Husband put on a street style noodle bar, (the heart swells for different reasons!); we watched some dancing, coloured in, ate ice cream, took an ‘elephant ride’ and then went on a walk through the ‘rice paddies’ and the ‘jungle’- so many imagination points this week!
However… it’s in the jungle that things take a dramatic turn, for as we emerge out into the blue, the Eldest suddenly shouts, “Where’s Batavia?!”
She’s lost her.
17 years later and she’s actually lost her!
So. Now, I play cool Mum. It’s OK, Mum. I’ll go and have a quick look, Mum. I weave widely around all the other toddler trekkers; smiling and mock-eye-rolling and laughing as I explain, “sorry, ‘scuse me, missing doll emergency!” as the clueless parents in my wake pass the message down to their kids, “Aww, poor little girl’s lost her doll.”
Inside: MY DOLL.
Poor little girl has lost MY doll!
I knew I shouldn’t have let her bring her… if one of these covert Covid-carriers has picked her up I’ll… Well, I’ll cry and cry and…
I hold her up and nod to folk I’ve passed before. It’s a moment.
“Oh your little one will be pleased!” They smile.
Oh yes. Inside, she’s dancing!
Back home, the kids are very excited to get the massage table out and we have a little Thai foot spa! It was Husband’s idea and so my heart swells a little bit more. It’s very much a joint effort today and as such, is just one of those days where I stand back and thank God that- despite my weird doll fetish- I still found a good ‘un!
Afterwards, the Boy and I cook green curry and pineapple rice for tea, after which everyone is too tired for a movie. All in all, another exciting holiday! (Finished off later with a dash of rum in a pineapple smoothie!)
On Sunday, while the Youngest napped and the other two played, I wrote a little bonus blog – about writing, as it goes. You can find it here if you missed it.
In the afternoon, I also got a bit of time off to attend my sister’s virtual baby shower. Which was lovely, apart from the fact that it made me realise how soon my new niece or nephew will be here, how far away they live and how long it will be before I get to meet them. Which is the sort of sad that puts a lump in your throat. Best not to think about it really…
Ah, half term. We should be in Cornwall with the in-laws this week; swimming in the sea and eating Roskilly’s in this record-breaking British sun. Best not to think about that either…
Instead, Husband puts up the tent, makes scones and makes do! We’re going to do what we do best… pretend we’re by the Cornish coast and pretend that we don’t need to hear the sound of the sea. (Honestly, though, for two people raised in coastal towns, how on earth did we semi-settle so far away from a beach?!)
The kids are loving it though. We have a BBQ and a campfire, after which they predictably beg to go to bed because they’re soooo tired- before declaring their inability to sleep roughly fifteen minutes later! During this time, however, my ‘feigned’ sleep has turned into actual sleep. Husband takes them back into the house to watch a film, but I remain out for the count!
Despite being the only one asleep by 7pm, I’ve woken a few times with a sore back and a sweaty toddler attached to my face. I have therefore decided not to camp out again, “because my chiropractor is currently unavailable.” GOSH. Where is that girl who used to sleep in Asian bus stations with a backpack under one arm and a pink-haired doll under the other?!
Indoors, I have a bath to soak my bones- which really is a bad choice. As a result, I feel quite unwell today- a typical Brit in the heat! We have a cream tea with the in-laws via video chat, but I have to admit that deep down, I am missing real Cornwall and real face-to-face family time today. I am also irritated by the house. I’m not house proud by any stretch of the imagination, but it really is a state. Nothing is in its place; there’s junk and bits of toys and lost jigsaw pieces and games and stripped down furniture everywhere. The last few weeks have taken their toll. There’s a ton of stuff to do, but Husband has a rare week off and insists he wants this week to be just about family time. Which is lovely … But I also feel a bit suffocated. We have used all of his days off so far to fake travel, and it simply feels impossible to clean and sort during home-school ( or play!) time. So when am I supposed to do it?!
I spend a lot of the day feeling irritated with myself for feeling irritated! However… Later on, I put the Youngest to bed and the other three are out in the garden camping. The house is… Quiet. Like REALLY quiet.
I have to confess… it’s bliss!
So. Tempting as it is to do all of the jobs above, I actually just take a Time Out. Crack open my new journal, get some perspective and spend the evening praying.
It really is healing for the soul!
Wow, what a good night sleep! Toddler wakes me up on the complete opposite side of the bed to yesterday. I settle her with some early morning TV and then, as the house is otherwise empty… Commence cleaning! Normally, Husband and I take turns to sleep in the morning, but today there is no one to be quiet for. The hoover is out at 7am and by 10am I’ve done the whole of the upstairs! After this, Husband and I take turns to rest, after which we are ready for a whole afternoon of family fun. Now THIS feels like the best of both worlds!
Later, I come downstairs to find that Husband has carried some furniture outside that he knows I want to sand. Without asking. Honestly, I couldn’t want him more right now! Besides, as he plays football with our offspring and leaves me to prep my drawers, I do have to wonder… is there anything sexier than a man who is REALLY good with your kids?
(I mean probably, to the bus station lurker with the freaky doll and the busy passport… but not to the woman she is now. And do you know, I am totally cool with that!)
In the evening, Husband gets a text to confirm a new time frame for moving house. Somehow, just knowing that a question mark has been replaced with a plan puts us both in a really good mood. I know it could still change, of course, but… In this time of uncertainty, I’ll accept clarity wherever I can get it!
Clarity, it appears, is equal to productivity. First thing, I set out to reunite games and jigsaws with their strewn boxes, and organise the lounge-slash-play-room-slash-dumping-ground. When the kids arrive, however, they want to help. By lunch time we have cleaned, sorted and tidied the whole house. I don’t mean to brag or anything but, for the first time since 2018, Mr Potato Head has been reunited with all of his facial features! Meanwhile, Husband has cleaned the microwave and the fridge and the drains – it’s a whole family effort today! Hooray!
After a pasty lunch, we go for a walk, get out the pool and laze around the garden. Toddler is absolutely spent by 6.30pm, so we put her to bed early and introduce the other two to a family game of Monopoly. It is a lot of fun and feels like a foretaste of the next stage to come. Which is nice!
The oven – my final frontier- gets a rare scrub this morning. And then… It is finished. Husband takes down the tent and, while I’m looking forward to having him back in our bed, the kids are very emotional about the whole thing coming to an end.
Rather accidentally, however, we play the divide and conquer card and that seems to calm everyone down. The Boy walks with me to the post box and it does wonders for the both of us as he holds my hand the whole way there. Sounds like a small thing? Think again! For the thing is, when you have multiple children close in age, there is something profoundly precious about walking hand-in-hand with one of them; listening to their chatter and focussing solely on them. I can tell this rare opportunity is precious to him too, as he keeps on kissing my hand and declaring his undying love for me. Gosh, my mother’s heart could live in these moments forever! On the way home, we go via the woods and he chats excitedly about how this is “just like Adventure Thursday!” And he is right. Adventure Thursday was a key invention for my September baby- a way of savouring a bonus year at home for a son old enough to be at school. All of those new places we explored in quick succession… If only we had known! Now, as we near the end of the strangest academic year of my lifetime, having not ventured out for almost 4 months, I am so utterly thankful we made as many memories as we did before the opportunity vanished! If ever there was a lesson in making the most of ‘today’, I think this is it.
Later, the Eldest and I decorate a desk for her new room while Husband takes the other two out on their bikes. Each child has been thoroughly invested in today, which feels like a good way to end the week. Of course, I am also delighted that, for my part, I get to cut and stick and paint, while Husband gets to bend double and run up and down the street under the scorching sun… I mean, we each have our part to play, but today I’m extra thankful for mine!
In the evening, after a week “apart”, Husband and I settle down for a much-anticipated curry date with The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Though I hate to admit it, the curry was a good meal, but a bad choice for such a humid night… My oesophagus is sweating like the man-furnace next to me and I already kind of miss my empty stomach and the empty bed!
At the end of this week…
Wow, what a week! What a hot, sweaty, emotional, fun, productive, arty, reflective week. We have done much, but have also rested more. The kids have done ZERO school work, and so I have done no planning or preparation whatsoever. We have had a proper holiday in that respect, but have managed to clear up the emotional and physical debris from the term before.
So… we now have two months until we move house; which fits quite nicely with the almost-two months left before the end of term. We can do this, right? All of us. Fresh start, fresh vision, fresh air, fresh perspective.
Here we go again…
Thanks for reading!
Peace be with you.