Monday 27 July 2015

On living with Boys...

At the lunch table today I was not really concentrating on what Boys #1 and #2 were talking about, when suddenly:

Boy #1:  "No, I didn't do that.  I fighted."

Boy #2:  "Fighted?  What are you talking about?  You mean 'fought'.  'Fighted' is something a Boove would say.  Your grammar is as bad a Boove's!"

Boy #1:  "Yes, of course.  I was trying to sound like a Boove."  (He so wasn't). 

Me (not really having paid much attention up until this point):  "Hang on - what did you say, Boy #2?  Did you say Boy #1 sounded like a boob?"

Both Boys fell about laughing.

Boy #2:  "No, mum.  I said Boove.  Like in 'Home'.  Not boooooooob."  He paused for a moment, considering.  "Although, boobs have terrible grammar too.  All they do is sit there and look at you."

Me (what?):  "What?"  (We're not overly modest in our family but, apart from mine from time to time, when had he actually seen that many boobs?  And I didn't really want to think too much about the 'sitting there and looking at you' comment - that's the stuff nightmares are made of and which helps therapists pay their bills...)  "Which boobs are you talking about?"

Boy #1:  "You know, Mum.  The ones we saw in the shopping centre this morning."

I blinked.  Boobs?  In the shopping centre?  Again, what?

Me:  "Where was I when you saw this?"

Boy #2:  "Looking for shower gel, I think."

Suddenly it clicked.  They were talking about a large ad for Agent Provocateur perfume on the front window of a beauty store I was visiting.  But whilst it was a provocative image (the clue's in the brand name, I guess), I didn't remember any actual breasts on display, and I certainly hadn't paid much attention to it.  Then again, I wasn't an 11 or a 9 year old boy...

Me:  "Oh, ok.  But it was no big deal - she was wearing underwear."

Boy #1:  "Yes, but you could see the edges of - them..."

Me:  "Well, fair enough.  But it didn't really show her Booves.  I mean boobs.  Did it?"

Boys #1 and #2:  "Hahahahahahahaha!  You called them Booves! You meant boobs! Booves, not boobs!  Hahahahahaha!"

Reader, it definitely was not my slightly hysterical laughter that echoed theirs as I considered the imminent onset of my sons' adolescence and all the joy that it will bring...

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Pre-move prep

We are now 5 weeks into the Boys' summer holidays.  Yes.  You read that right. Five weeks.  And bearing in mind that we are moving from the US school year to the UK school year, we still have six weeks more to go before they re-enter the bosom of educational establishments.

So, that's 11 weeks.  Eleven weeks.

You know, until I just checked the details for this post, for some reason I had myself convinced that their summer holiday was only 9 weeks.  Self-delusion is a wonderful thing.

Anyhow, the Boys and I have been keeping ourselves busy, not least going through cupboards of crap and getting rid of as much as we can before we leave Russia (it's one thing to ask yourself why you keep all this stuff you don't need, quite another to pay to transport from Moscow to the UK).  Now, I thought I had done this job already, a couple of months back.  "Do it before the kids break up from school,"  I thought to myself.  "Get it done whilst you have the time."  So I did.

But we've been away for a week and on our return I thought I would double check there was no more chaff to be sorted from the wheat before the movers arrive to pack it up and ship it to the UK.

Guess what?  Turns out that our house elves - like Nature - abhor a vacuum.  Cupboards that I could have sworn I had sorted out last time around now need sorting out again.

*looks hard at her husband*.

*runs out to buy more bin liners*.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Market tips from a nine year old.

It was raining for much of today, so in an attempt to delay the dreadful moment when I had to give in to Boy#2's demands that I sit down and play Monopoly with him (he loves it, I hate it - mostly because my children show no mercy and bankrupt me every time), I took the boys to a local shopping mall this afternoon.

Officially we were there to visit the supermarket for a light top-up shop before we head off for a week's holiday in a few days.  Unofficially we were - in my children's minds, anyway - there to put a dent in their ruble-based savings as they took the chance to visit the local Lego and Detsky Mir (Children's World) outlets.

The boys had visited both stores before - but rarely to spend their own hard cash.  It was interesting to watch them walk around the Lego store and realise the cost of the toys that they normally take for granted.  I didn't get involved in their choices, just stood back and let them get on with it under the eagle eye of a shop attendant who was clearly having too quiet an afternoon.

They wandered around for about ten minutes, Boy #2 becoming increasingly disconsolate as he realised that most of the Lego kits he wanted were at least twice the amount of money that he had to spend.  His mutterings became gradually louder until Boy #1, older, wiser, and less surprised by the negative difference between his disposable income and his toy-based aspirations, asked his younger brother what the problem was.

"It's all so expensive!" Boy #2 protested.  "When did it all get so expensive?"

"I know" answered Boy #1 resignedly.  "You're right.  There's not really anything worth having that we can afford here."

Boy #2 sighed heavily.  "Yep.  That's what happens in a Bull Market, I suppose."

I blinked.  What?

We left the Lego store shortly afterwards for Detsky Mir, where both boys found something that they wanted and could afford, and after they had made their purchases I asked Boy #2 if he knew what a Bull Market actually was.

"Yes, of course.  A Bull Market is when stock prices are rising.  And when stock prices are falling, it's a Bear Market.  So, it's a Bear Market for flat peaches at the moment, because they're not very expensive (even though they are very yummy and will probably get more expensive when people realise that), but it's a Bull Market for Lego."

"And where did you find out about this, Boy #2?"

"My 'Ask Me Anything' book, Mum.  Obviously."

So there you have it; buy flat peaches, sell Lego.  And read 'Ask Me Anything' when you have a spare moment.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Remembering why I blog - the moving diary

It's been quiet on this blog for a couple of weeks now.

It's not that there's nothing happening; there's plenty going on in our lives.  We're preparing for an international move, the Boys have just finished at the only school either of them can remember, and we're ticking off items on our 'Say Goodbye To Moscow' bucket list.  We need to find a base in our new home-town, set everything up for a smooth arrival there, and re-establish some dormant relationships in the UK.

Having said all that, it feels like the calm before the storm.

Practically, I know that isn't the case.  We've had an emotional few weeks - months, really, if I think about it - as we've gone through the mill of taking the decision to leave Russia, identifying where where we want to live back in the UK, applied for school places for the kids, been accepted (thank heavens), and dealt with the slowly dawning reality of what it will actually mean to leave the supportive community in a challenging environment that we've been living in for the last six years.  More recently there have been tears as my children have said farewell to good friends and I've held my nerve to assure them that yes, they WILL make new ones, it may just take a little time.  And of course Husband and I have attended a host of leaving parties, both for ourselves and for other people we know who are leaving Moscow.

Since the the school bell rang for the last time two weeks ago I've continued to sell / recycle / donate or just plain throw out the stuff we've acquired during our stay here and don't plan to move back with us.  In addition, there's been the small matter of housing, buying new uniforms for the children, and making a flying visit back to Blighty for them to attend New Starter events at their new schools to deal with.

We're back in Moscow now for a couple of week's hiatus before the we move out of our house here.  I feel as if I should be tidying - I KNOW I should be tidying - but actually there doesn't seem to be much left to tidy.  I've been through the kitchen cupboards, I've given away the clothes the kids and I no longer wear, I've got rid of a load of paperwork.  The only 'big' job now outstanding is to go through the Boys toys, but that can wait a couple of weeks longer.

And it's quiet - oh, so quiet.  The communities we normally socialise with - Russian and expat - have mostly packed their bags and flown, either to their dacha, home country, or somewhere else for a few weeks or for good, depending on their plans.  The Boys are in day camp, and Husband is travelling for business.  I feel as if I should be making the most of my time, doing, I don't know, something, but instead feel as if I'm stuck, dealing with the small tasks of running our day-to-day lives but unable to settle down and get my teeth into the big ones, like starting to actually write the next book that I've tentatively planned out, for example.  Or to  make initial approaches to a host of agents that I've never met, no doubt waiting with bated breath to hear about my last one.

Apologies for what may seem like nothing post, but it helps, to sit here and blog; it reminds me why I started doing this back in 2007.  What can seem at the time like a total lack of progress, whether it's the frustration of potty training a small child, dealing with the 'hurry up and wait' timetable of looking after two young children, or the ups and downs and sometimes what seemed like the interminable 'on and on-ness'* of being the main carer at home, my blog helps me take stock and realise that yes, I am moving forward.

And I can see that actually, this is not the calm before the storm.  Having written all this down, I've realised that actually, I'm right in the centre of it.  The eye of the hurricane.

* an expression borrowed from my good friend Jennifer, who blogs here and here.