We have 12 more days to go…we made a calendar to mark off the days to her birthday next week. I remembered to bring balloons and presents. I also brought candles, pat on the back mummy, but no lighter🤦♀️ Whoops.
Started in 1995 etc, etc… World Book Day is to encourage those who no longer read or have book at home to share with their children. Which is a fundamental part of being a parent people. READ WITH YOUR KID!!!
No excuses I work, I parent, I come home shattered after leaving at 7am and spend time chatting, eating and bathing with my offspring. We always read before sleep, always. No excuses, I birthed her, she deserves a bedtime story daily.
Back to World Book (torture your teacher) day.
The rules for a teacher
- Dress Up. I am 40. I have had my fair share of dressing up for friends parties and other ‘occasions’
- Send your child to school in a dress up outfit. This can be ANYTHING REMOTELY related to a piece of paper. Spiderman, Pokemon?!? Comes to mind.
- Send in your child with a type of weapon. That could be a wand, sword or BOW AND ARROW.
- Send your child in a MASSIVE dinosaur, bunny, tiger outfit. FULL BODY FUR OUTFIT. How do you think he/she will use the toilet, sit down, eat their lunch?
RAIN. RAIN all day! They didn’t go outside to play, well because then all the princess dresses would get their hems wet. Sweet, sweet Jesus. I went outside and played in our river as the outside floor is not even and drains do not work, I changed numerous socks. I stopped a robber running after a Harry Potter and an Oompa Loompa from standing on a chair and told the whole class “Just because we are dressed up does not mean we ignore our rules”(and go completely CRAZY people). Walking feet, walking feet all day!!!
Then at the end of this joyful day invite all the parents in to read. So nice to see families together reading and not stressful at all….
Where is the wine?
It creeps into my dreams and if I can sum it up into one word it is a dream of simplicity.
I don’t write (that much) anymore!
Life has become a wheel of 6am wake ups, commute to work, work. I LOVE my work but then there’s the paperwork, commute home, glimpse of time with my little one, dinner made by daddy and sleep because I cannot keep my eyes open past 9pm. Weekend/work/study/work/weekend repeat. I sit and glance out of the windows of my transport in the morning…. and
I dream of Thailand…I see the beauty of Epsom Downs at sunrise and yet I still dream of Thailand.
I heard reggae on Portobello road last week and I nearly cried. I swear if I closed my eyes I could be standing looking out on a beach in Koh Lanta, knowing that my loved ones were waiting for me to join them for a drink and sunset. I could breathe it in, I could feel that sense of freedom right into my fingertips and I ached to be there.
2017 I needed to be here for mum and I still do, but she is one of the few who really sees the struggle of our life in the UK. I am not prepared to lay my personal life out in 2 + kgs of documents for the Home Office again. I am 5 years married and hold my head very high. If I had £62,000 sitting in a bank account the visa stress would disappear, how is that for democracy UK? It’s ok though we all know the rich are getting richer and well the poor who cares…right?!?!
I have used my time in the UK wisely and will be leaving a fully qualified Early Years teacher. An age group that I am passionate about teaching and a path I know will serve me well in the future when I need to show more practitioners that children learn through play, investigation, taking risks and making mistakes.
Yes I did say leaving.
We are going back to Thailand.
This was the recent cost of a UK spouse visa with an International Health surcharge fee. This includes £157.69 extra in Non Sterling fees because the UK Home Office only accepts US dollars.
I leave that there.
I have been in the UK for over a year now, parenting alone with the help of my mum who has been just a year away from cancer. My baby will be 3 in August and I am juggling nursery drops off, quality time with her and a full time job. I have no me time except maybe an hour if I can stay awake, no exercise or yoga, just a bit of walking and running for buses. I feel overwhelmed at the best of times and can easily say this has been the most stressful year of my life.
This week I spent over $3,000 on Eds UK spouse visa.
I have no idea of its success. I have ticked all the boxes, earned the right salary for the right time, proved our relationship is real and we share a house with upstanding citizen. But honestly, who knows? Will he be here for his daughter’s 3rd birthday mid August? Your guess is a good as mine.
Tonight as I made dinner I heard my mum telling my daughter to snuggle up, I heard them having a picnic with pieces of paper food, talking to Hello Kitty about papa, discussing chocolate and brushing teeth. My mum creates pure magic, she always has, I remember it as a child, I remember the places she would take me to and the fun which we still have.
My mother is extremely precious to me, so is my daughter and their love, so is my husband and him playing hide and seek and sniffing her head. I want them all together because these are the memories my daughter will look back on, she will remember her Irish Nana teaching her Gaelic numbers, her warmth and unending adoration. My darling daughter will also remember her incredible, creative father and strong, fierce mother who always knew that at the end of the day family was all that mattered.
* I wrote this over a year ago!
There are moments in my life that I will always remember.
My brothers and I playing in the park as children.
Walking to school with my mum, holding her hand, chatting and singing.
The day I first saw Ed.
The day I got married.
When my daughter was first passed to me wearing a hat.
and that moment, when I came home, blissfully happy after being at a friends house all day, 7 months pregnant, huge, happy and in need of sleep. That moment, alone when I saw the email, when I opened it…
and saw; visa rejected.
The strength left my body, I fell to my knees and moaned a guttural cry, the heartbreaking pain seared through me. I held my stomach, my baby and the prospect of bringing her into this world alone. That moment crippled me.
My husband rushed home, picked me up off the floor and looked so incredibly sad.
Yet we were the lucky ones, we had time to reapply to the home office, even though it meant I had to wobble over the Thai/Cambodian border to extend my visa for the extra 2 weeks in Bangkok.
It resulted in costs of over £1,000 and all for a 6 month tourist visa to the UK, so my husband could be there to hold my hand and see the birth of our daughter.
Here I am exactly 2 years later, alone. Experiencing more moments.
Like the moment I found out mum has breast cancer.
The moment we decided I should move back to England, with my daughter, to be with mum and without my husband.
A moment I never expected. A decision I should not have to make, between my precious mum and my dear husband. More on that here
I am sorry darling daughter that you now see Papa on the phone, I miss him, I miss our little family together, I miss seeing you play with papa and going on adventures to chat up the neighborhood. I am trying so damn hard baby girl and using every, single ounce of my strength to hold onto love, faith, hope and a future with us all together defying the odds.
I just hope it will be ok and although I have no idea of the next moment when we will see daddy.
That moment will come.
On Monday I had decided to stop checking Facebook everyday as it is distracting me from my studies, but this week it exploded with pages I follow and the impending verdict from the Supreme court ruling on the minimum income requirement for a non EU spouse.
Wednesday I found out Buzzfeed wanted to interview me to appear online and BBC 5 live would like to feature me talking about the verdict. To say I felt overwhelmed and nervous was an understatement.
So I appeared on Buzzfeed with Eddie on our wedding day looking blissfully happy, I really was. My face ached from smiling that day, I was on the island with my friends who had all brought a dish, I had H&M dress that I bought with mum for a tenner that hid my growing belly and Eddie was my husband. I was and still am completely and utterly in love with him.
He is from Thailand
I am British
Had I any idea of how hard it would be for us to have the freedom of both countries, none whatsoever, as do most people I talk to. Yes he is my husband but he has no rights to be a family with us in the UK unless I earn £18,600.
This is not a problem for me fortunately being a Londoner although according to the facts, there are estimated to be over 41% of the working population who would not be able to meet this threshold.
I mentioned this on the radio, but what I didn’t mention was that there are other ways to get home.
- £64,000 in savings we could ‘buy’ a spouse visa. So if we were rich then Eddie’s foreigner status would be ok. Smell a Tory government much?
- I could use my salary here for 6 months pro rata- although I have a shortfall or £3,000 a year. So we need £16,00 in savings to make up that £3,000 but wait there’s more, there exists a really great calculator that someone dreamed up of how to work out my salary here and the shortfall which would mean we actually need £23,500 yep £23,500 to make up the £3,000 and I would need a contract of work upon touchdown in Heathrow.
What I did mention was after an emergency C section I was unable to go back to work without my husband as he had to leave when our daughter was 3 months old. I remember that day vividly, standing by the kitchen sink holding onto the side for support as my world crashed around me. I knew that pain well as I had it previously kneeling clutching my bump when Eddie’s first visa was refused, I was 7 months pregnant. We had been refused on the basis of not having an itinerary, to have a baby… (I’ll just leave that there)
I feel punished by my country and yet I still feel desperate to be back there, something about becoming a mother, wanting to be with my mother drinking a cup of tea in Holland park. Some may wonder why I don’t just put the babe into childcare, get the job and get on with it, because I want my daughter to be taken care of by either me, my husband or her nanna.
Emma Barnett asked me on the radio (1:40 minutes in) about chain immigration, a term I was not familiar with and if I had been my reply would have been something along the lines of hahahahaha (laughing) Eddie’s parents are both deceased, sadly and his brothers run successful businesses with families in Thailand with no desire for a UK visa. So that squashes that idea Emma.
So I will do my best to find a job for £18,600 so that we are in no way a burden to the UK taxpayer GOD FORBID (even though I still pay voluntary NI contributions and have done the 5 years I lived in Thailand) My husband does not want benefits either, but he has no access to them for 5 years anyway on a spouse visa. These are all facts that get ushered under the carpet (he cannot access public funds) so the public are happy there are no more immigrants taking their precious tax money. There is good new tax payers of England as a family we will spend about £7,198.29 to the Home Office during the years to get Ed a visa. Yey.
We are still left as family wondering how will we manage and facing a separation, the home office wants 6 months of payslips and then with processing time and Eddie’s English test looks like we’ll be apart a year if I’m realistic. This is why many women are staying in Thailand and hoping for a change.
Lastly can I mention how much I am enjoying the pressure of all of this. That it doesn’t keep me awake at night at all, add to my homesickness as we have 0 freedom, shape decisions that we make and leaves me feeling utterly miserable and disheartened, not one little bit.
I’ve become one of those mums who just looks exhausted all the time.
When people get on a flight near me they roll their eyes and I don’t blame them as I try to wrestle my 17 month old onto her seatbelt and she pushes against the seat in front and open/closes the tray table 11 billion times over an hour.
I admit I am one of those parents who destroys restaurants*, lets their kid throw stuff on the floor, play with ice cubes and straws inevitably leaving a shit storm of a mess and only because it gave a 10 minute window to eat and have a 2 way conversation, with real time replies.
I am one of those mums that finds stones and gravel in her bag for days, because it kept the child happy to sit and play with rocks so mummy could hold down an adult conversation (in a really fancy Bangkok garden restaurant)
One of those mums who looks through narrow eyes when single people complain their tired… Mummy hasn’t slept for a year and a half for longer than 3 hours and you can go home and have a nap!
One of those mums who looks embarrassed and fatigued when the child postrates herself on the floor of the mall because she’d rather walk in the opposite direction (always the opposite direction)
A mummy who bribes daughter with biscuits in the shopping trolley so she can shop in relative peace or on the off chance daddy takes beloved baby to the motorized toys at the mall, mummy gets to walk down the supermarket aisles alone, ALONE and it feels so good. Then the realisation that this is now living the good life hits and mummy heads to the wine shelves.
The constant bath times
But mummy is ok, because she is madly in love. Astounded by the precious life of her daughter, how she grows, smiles, giggles, babbles and brings so much heart bursting joy to her parents life.
*Apologies to all the waitresses, I was once like you and I know it’s a pain in the butt picking up all the crap and unmixing the salt and pepper but its also a lot easier to sweep the floor with 2 hands and it means mummy can go home and not have to worry about washing up, again.
I did it, I cooked REAL Southern Thai food.
I was getting moderately put out by a certain person’s comments that “you have to really understand” to cook “It’s not easy” and getting demonstrations of how to stir food in a pan. Like Thai cooking was this fabled, unreachable golden crest of cooking.
I’m always up for a challenge and have recently become OBSESSED with sataw or what are ‘un’kindly referred to a stink beans. I bloody love ’em!
Sataw and the dry, spicier then chillies on the sun curry called Khua Kling. Hubby now knows if they are selling it at the local restaurant to buy two bags one for lunch and one for dinner. So thanks to the absolute legend’s on Mama Ferang’s group I found a recipe, I laminated it because that seemed sensible, I watched the demo on Youtube and last night I made it.
It was absolutely great and quite spicy.
Today I kid you not hubby was trying to keep the leftovers away from me at lunch so he could eat them!
The best part about this story as it is not a food post, I will not be taking beautiful pictures of food and showing how I made it because I have a small person who clings to my legs while cooking and most of the time I’m not fussed. Curry is cheap here. The best part is all the ingredients (except the meat) we picked up outside our door!
We got lemongrass, Kaffir Lime leaves and Chillies just on the street while chatting to a neighbour who keeps chickens and started shoving leaves in my mouth to try.
We also picked up Basil leaves to calm the spice, a star fruit which we have no idea what to do with and a rose because it smelled good!
The recipe recommended 3 tablespoons of curry paste and thank the curry Gods I only used 2 because this is proper made in Nakhon si Thammarat paste that would take the enamel off your teeth!
The recipe was very thin sliced lemongrass, kaffir leaves and chilli. Fry the paste, add the meat and bits while choking on the fumes and sneezing a lot. Done. We ate with rice and sataw and some egg fried with random green leaves that hubby made. Next week I plan to make Tom Yum soup because why not go from making the simplest curry to the most complicated, 50 ingredients soup ever.
Please feel free to mention any of your favourite Thai foods and I will try and make them, because I will never admit defeat!
Another post about travelling with a baby, which will certainly be a theme in her life.
Over the years I’ve travelled a lot, being a nanny in the states saw that at a young age I flew around the globe, always keen on the adventure and unknown. That feeling hasn’t subsided as I get older and in those ‘odd’ moments I’m glad of the life choices I have made. Living in a foreign country and out of my comfort zone regularly.
Flying has become a new challenge though, gone are the days of sipping a latte and browsing the duty free, squirting on lovely fragrances and scanning the really expensive, will never afford or want designer shops while waiting to board.
Hello days of trying to wrestle my laptop out of my carry on with a baby hanging in the sling, really, really fast too (argh) then removing the baby while I get frisked manually hoping the security guard doesn’t feel my post pregnancy extra bits while worrying my little adventurer won’t wonder of somewhere, which she does a lot! Carrying a multitude of bags full of clothes, spare clothes, muslins, food, extra food, water, wipes, more wipes, extra wipes, blankets, toys and books. Checking nappies constantly with the worry of sitting with a poo for the duration of take off and not forgetting the where’s; where are our passports, boarding passes, phone, clothes, spare clothes, muslins, food, extra food, water, wipes, more wipes, extra wipes, blankets, toys and books.
Yet here I am at 3pm in the afternoon with my feet up, thanks to the extra room in the bulkhead seats. I’m slowly working through a really good mini bottle of Chilean cabernet savingon and right now loving British airways. It could be my tipsy state as I no longer drink, partly because I’m a lightweight, I also worry about hangovers with an energetic year old, also Breastfeeding but truthfully it’s because the wine in Thailand is shit.
BA have bouncy style seats that prop up on the bassinet platforms and which currently my sleeping princess is very content with. She even transitioned fast asleep from boob to seat, which deserved a little dance. I’ve been fed and managed to eat the resemblance of a veggie lasagne as she sat happily sucking on broccoli.
The staff have been so super lovely, friendly and helpful I want to give them a hug. Here’s the thing though I long for sleep constantly but I can’t switch off, I have nothing to so but sit here. Doze and drink wine, make plans for our visit home. I can’t remember the last time I just sat like this.
Fast forward a few hours and baby awoke and very active, running up and down the aisle which I know some folk did not appreciate. Unaware that if I tried to restrain her in a seated position she would flip her little lid. Then to the moment my bubble burst: BA have a new CEO who has banned inflight snacks! If I had known I would’ve done a 7/11 stock up instead I found myself at dinner time paying £3.20 for malteasers. It was that or Pringles AND they weren’t even real English chocolate they were that drier, crusty tasting chocolate you get in Thailand. BA total ******s.
Luckily (in an ironic tone) my mum being Irish forced a full roast chicken dinner in me at 3am Thai time, I’m glad to be home.
A full time job, trying to be a good and present mum, moving house (being screwed out of money, well this is Thailand) and some visa stress mixed in my little pot had me running for cover. Homesickness has been gnawing at me until I booked a flight home…19 days and counting. Hubby can’t come as obviously that would mean gigantic PILES of paperwork.
On the bright side in my small world here in nowhere for mums Nakhon, I created the Mama Ferang closed group on Facebook. It’s closed so the women on it can be private in their thoughts, rants and advice. A space for only women who are with a Thai man as we are a special (patient) lot.
I have not yet managed to lure another mum to come and live here yet, working on that.
So far the group now with nearly 50 members has proved to be a fantastic hub of sharing, caring and had me laughing a lot!
There we were thinking we were alone with our crazy lost in translation moments when asked for a towel but really mean a tissue or commanded to “hold this” and mean the plastic bag not the baby, so plastic bag drops and the jar of pesto inside leaves this world. True story. Sad day. The hours we all spend daydreaming as we have no clue what is being said amongst groups speaking faster than lightning Thai and sharing stories about the interfering strangers and in laws with their ‘moments’ in their masses as everyone is a family member here!
It takes a village and even if at the moment it’s all online for me, I’m glad to have found these other women to call my community.
Here are my TOP TIPS to parenting in Thailand:
Don’t ever let one drop of rain fall on your child’s head.
. If they become sick it’s because of the rain, air conditioner or swimming, not because of the presence of a virus or bacteria which they may have picked up from another child.
. If they have symptoms of a common cold or cough bring them to hospital.
. Once in hopsital before you do anything take at least 3 or 4 selfies and then pictures of your ‘sick’ child.
Feed them mush and constantly clean their mouths, let no food fall.
. Even if they can hold food and enjoy feeding themselves with their hands do not let them do this, they will choke.
. Never give them anything to eat larger than a pea.
. Constantly make yum sounds as you try to get food in their mouth and repeat ‘you are so strong’ at every single mouthful.
Tell them to never cry
. Encourage them to be strong and not cry even of they have fallen from a great height and and knocked out their front teeth, with a fat lip, expect NO TEARS!
. If their nose is bleeding also tell them not to cry and put cold water on their head.
. Repeat ‘you are strong’
Call your child a beautiful, meaningful name and then give them a ridiculous nickname* such as:
Pizza or pasta
Boss or Deal
Big or Fat
James Bond, Google, Data, Beta or Omega
Disney, IQ, Newton
“Met a coffeemate once”
“Brothers named Champagne and Wallpaper”
“We have Iphone in the family”
“Donut gets me every time”
“Use to teach a Pancake”
“Personal favorites are brothers Donut, Donight, and their sister Doneet”
“In one class I have a Sky, Sprite, and Sugar”
Nymph or Paint
Pee and Poo or Big Poo
Bank and Beer
Warm and Mean
Yurin and PP
When translated from Thai; White Tooth, Frog, Smells Nice
“Ultra is obviously #1”
*These are all REAL nicknames with thanks to all my contributors, you had me in stitches!