Almost daily diary!

Friday, April 15, 2016

All at sea

Small sprog is overly excited about the potential of spending 24 hours on the ferry, he's full of noise and can't keep still in the back of the car. I take a sideways look at Big Al, who is concentrating on the road ahead, and wonder if he is actually clenching his teeth.

An hour later we leave Bilbao on the horizon and meet the Bay of Biscay in a fairly angry mood - it not us!

Small Sprog loved it, he ran up and down the corridor to his room (as did I with him because it was quite fun and you couldn't feel the waves if you ran very fast) but his sister was less than happy. She found solace in a cocktail to no avail and left the restaurant early.

As I am having my first conversation with an English speaking person, that I'm not related to, for nearly 2 weeks, Small Sprog turns up behind me and taps me on the shoulder, "Mother" he's taken to calling me that of late, "Tall Girls being sick"
"Oh!"
"I've given her the bin"
"Good thinking"

I leave the table to go and look at her! The general consensus was 'not good' but unfortunately with sea sickness, you just have to endure.

It was a rough night, the (clean) sick bags, conveniently placed by the ferry company at every 100 meters along the corridor, weren't there long. However there were a fair amount of full ones dotted in the 'Ladies' due to no one knowing the correct disposal procedure. I'm still unsure, a week later, what you actually 'do' with a full sick bag on a boat, without littering the sea with it all? And when I say full...

All in all it was a 'Nasty Business' says Big Al; his daughter was worse than mine and the bags kept coming...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

OMG I'm married!

 Yep, 2 weeks ago we had an amazing valentines weekend, everything went to plan, it was very special and packed with memories. And yet, I can't still quite believe anything has changed. Circumstances beyond our control - namely 2 children doing GCSE's this summer - meant that after the celebrations, and some time away, we both went back to our separate homes. It feels like nothing has really changed.

Yet loads has changed, my whole life has changed but yet on hold at the same time. There is still so much to do before we can be together, we have been house hunting, all very exciting, in a new town, a fresh start - who'd have thought it, at last an escape from suburbia!

So looking back to our amazing weekend the special moments were, some of them, unexpected;

On the Friday three generations went to the nail bar for some pampering! Mum has unexpectedly inherited 3 extra grandchildren, 2 being girls and she took to being in their company like a duck to water! She'd also never had a manicure before, and she took to that too. It was a very special time to all be together.

And then on the morning of our Big Day, I spent time with my wonderful daughter, decorating the room together. I hadn't put any thought into just how special that time with her would feel - I have a wonderful gift in her, my treasure. She was an angel for the whole day, she kept me incredibly calm, looked after her Granny without a second thought. I'm so proud.

Small sprog brushed up well, looked cool and made himself very popular with the the extra teenage girls that arrived in the evening! He drank cider and beer without being ill (!) now that really was a surprise!

And then there was our vows, I don't remember the last time, I'm not sure I made a conscious choice to attend to them but this time I did. I wanted to remember. And then there was the speech! I wondered why I said I'd do one, I was regretting it as it got nearer as I'm not used to public speaking, but I'm so glad I did it, it seemed to go down well - apparently not a dry eye in the house! I said what I meant and thanked my mum for all she has given up for me. And finally thanked all our 5 children for following us on this puzzling and unexpected journey for without their consent, we might not have made it this far...


Strangely my new husband and I didn't seem to spend much time together! We spread ourselves around the guests and all of a sudden it was over! 

Our time away afterwards was special though, I felt married, managed to refer to myself as 'Mrs' a few times - which took me by surprise each time! - and felt very 'loved up'

Back to reality now, but so much to look forward to.

Thought you might like some photos...













Sunday, January 24, 2016

Halfling

I am sitting at the kitchen table the night after the party. Small Sprog was 16 yesterday - yep, you read it right, 16!

Out of both the children, when he was younger, I always tried to keep his parties at 'venues' due to the propensity of exuberant boys to be, well, exuberant! Whereas Tall Girl had her parties at home. Strangely, Small Sprog has always been the one who wants to bring his friends home, never ashamed of me (parents are uber embarrassing) and always happy to be open with his mates. In contrast Tall Girl rarely brings friends home. Strange really.

So years ago when we were at Soft Play for Small Sprogs birthday with 10 or more marauding boys and girls (he always has girls) little did I suspect that I'd be sitting here listening to 6 teenagers running around upstairs, worrying about the ceiling withstanding the chaos that ensues!

This is no toddler party, oh no, it's a full on 24 hour teen sleepover! Give me strength! I had full instructions to be out of the house, so feeling homeless I found stuff to do from yesterday lunchtime, coming home briefly to cook pizza before leaving again until bedtime.

I'm relieved to say the house is still, mostly, in one piece. The teens have slept - all in the sitting room in what looks like a ragged heap of airbeds and sleeping bags. I have been used as a human shield - nerf guns still seem 'de rigeur' at 16 - by one of his semi naked mates. It wasn't a highlight I can tell you, in fact that's why I'm here in the kitchen (hiding) - that was a step too far for me on a Sunday morning!

A mass of bacon and egg sarnies have been made and devoured, along with Bucks Fizz because they forgot to drink the champagne last night.And I am thankful, so very thankful, for this house full of noise and laughter. I have saved it to my memory hard drive, because one day he will truly grow up - rather than be this 'halfling'. There will be serious stuff and other people to spend his special day with. The door closes slowly, I can see him leaving, but not yet. I am not the most important person in his life anymore, not like when he was small and at his soft play party. And that's how it should be, others have and will continue to take my place - it's been a blast Hazz. Happy 16th Birthday x


Sunday, December 20, 2015

I'm not really sure where I've been!

Its nearly Christmas and it doesn't seem that many years since Small Sprog was buzzing about with excitement singing wall to wall Christmas jingles and having asthma attacks!

So where is he today, I hear you ask (if anyone's still there?!) Well he's online - he had a good role model in me but he takes it to the limit! The songs are gone and Christmas may have lost it's sparkle - it's difficult to tell with a teenager- but I can see 'my boy' in there and I love him to bits! His voice has 3 different variants; screechy, normal and 'big man'. When the 'big man' voice comes out Tall Girl and I, for a split second, assume a stranger has entered the house! It's a great voice, I love it, I just wish he could do it all of the time! The screechy voice of past Christmas excitement is on it's way out and although I mourn it's passing, it's also a blessing - it always gave me a headache!

It is our last Christmas here in suburbia- in this house. And as I say it I worry that I may jinx something and that all our plans may fall away and I will be left with nothing but dreams. Oddly Facebook reminds me how things change in ways we rarely expect - memories pop up to haunt me there, both mine and my partners daughters. Today she had a memory from 5 years ago; a picture of her and her sister, 5 years younger, the age our youngest are now. Then another photo from 3 years ago when they were in NY - before I even knew they existed - spending Christmas abroad because it was there first without their mother. My own memories are lame in comparison but remind me that when I moved in here, things were very different and you never can know the future.

This year has been amazing - I am getting married on Valentines weekend - yet the lows have been very low, I lost my job, and it's been difficult to write here for sometime. What a year, and that's what I mean, who would have thought, this time last year, that all that would have happened?

In my head I worry that I will lose the ones I love before I have time to enjoy them to the full. Perhaps you have the same thoughts?

Yesterday we 'did Christmas' with Mum. As we arrived she was decorating the Christmas cake, I made her a cup of tea, she had a sherry in one hand and insisted on trying Small Sprogs cider in the other - somethings always make me smile! Surprisingly the cake came out ok and we had a good time there despite it being a week early. We have had an uneasy relationship this year, Mum and I, culminating with me having 'the conversation' with her about my abusive step father (with help from my counsellor) the conversation I never thought I'd be able to have, and it's brought things to the fore for her. I don't regret it but I wish we could change things - yet you can never change the past - we can only look to the future and hope...






Thursday, October 08, 2015

October already

I've had a lot of time at home recently and I've been so lucky that, until this week, the weather's been beautiful. And then today, again, the rain stopped and I got out into the garden to do the rest of the jobs that were on my to do list - things to keep myself busy.

It's been wonderful to have this time. I am trying hard to practise gratefulness and live in the moment. So today, after 'chopping' some things in the garden, I took some time to sit down with a mug of tea and a magazine outside in the sun. In the shade it was chilly but the sun still has some strength and I basked in its rays. In the field, behind the house, I can hear the starlings; they gather this time of year after feasting on the Rowan berries and sit in groups and on the electric wires and 'chirrup' softly. It's a beautiful noise, gentle and low, like they're whispering 'sweet nothings' to each other. I remember the noise from childhood, I can't remember where I would have been, maybe my granny's garden, but it sooths me and makes me grateful to be alive.

I sit for a while and listen to their music. I drink the cold water that I have as well as my tea, it tastes cold and clean and fresh and I am so very grateful to be drinking it now, when it's hot and I have the head space to appreciate it.

I am keeping busy but time has slowed a little. I'm trying to make the most of it and be thankful. It seems to be working.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Honestly, you couldn't make this stuff up!

'Jonathan has a new girlfriend' Says Tall Girl to Mum, making conversation 'she comes from Catalonia' she continues
'Oh' says Mum 'What colour is she?'
'What?' I shout dismayed
'Well I'm not sure where Catalonia is' Mum replied without flinching

When we're home I recount the tale to Small Sprog who is disgusted with grannies apparent racism. He's not the only one!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Luverly Curls!

Small Sprog has been off school - he does a good 'dying duck' act and I'm never sure how ill he really is! Anyway, after 4 days off with a weekend in between I decide enough's enough and make a doctors appointment for him. In the car he suddenly looks a lot better- after a short talk - can you actually look ill because I've blagged my way into a same day appointment- we arrive.

We are 3 minutes late so the automatic, germ infested, self signer- inner directs us to a human being on reception- a very nice older lady - who can book us in. "Name?" She enquired "Small Sprog" I say as suddenly she looks up from her screen and sees him for the first time; "Ooo what lovely hair" she exclaims "people would die for those curls!" He shuffles a bit and looks at his feet as she continues " If only my hair was like that"

We walk into the waiting room and sit down. Small Sprog hates the waiting room. He hates the doctors and has a mortal fear of needles and health related implements. He fidgets uncomfortably.

For once the room is not packed with bodies, just a few older ladies who all seem to know each other. They home in on Small Sprog...

"Ooo 'asn't 'e got luverly 'air" says one

"Beautiful" says another

"So much off it" interjects the third

"And so curly"

They talk about him like he's not in the room as Small Sprog gets smaller and smaller, shrinking into his seat. "Can we go now?" he stage whispers whilst smiling politely at them. He learned to smile sweetly at a very young age- it always works wonders and invariably gets him out of most sticky situations- unfortunately a grin at this instant wasn't one of those situations!

"And what luverly teeth!" One of them continues

"Ooo 'e's lucky 'e is!"

" 'e reminds me of that pop star"

"Oh yes " says the other "Marc somebody?"

"Bowland" I say helpfully

"That's the one, spitting image ..."

Oh no, I think to myself, please don't try to hug him or pet him or anything because I think he will just combust!

"Such lovely weather we're having" I interject, trying to divert their attention.

"Oh yes" they all nod as the doctor appears at the waiting room door. He rockets out of his seat so fast it's hard to catch him- I don't think he's ever been so keen to see a doctor in his whole life!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Knickers or no knickers? Definitely knickers is the answer!

I went to see Mum in hospital today. I have to say she's looking much brighter and the anaesthetic seems to be almost out of her system. Last Friday watching her was quite disturbing. It was as though someone kept pressing the 'standby' button on a remote control somewhere; every now and then she'd 'power down' for a few seconds, close her eyes and seemingly go to sleep, then wake again with very little idea of what had just been said. She was on Morphine too, which possibly didn't help and something was making her sick.

Roll forward a few days and she's much more like herself. They have her out of bed now and she's sitting in a chair with her legs up. This, to me, looks much like the position she is in in bed but there you go, I'm no nurse, and it's given her something to think about.

As I approach she says she didn't know I was coming - she had forgotten - and she looked as if she didn't have her bottom teeth in. In fact I'm sure of it, though she did have some lipstick remains. She was wearing a fairly short nightie and had an icepack on her knee.

'Dad's taken my washing' she stated
'You said he didn't know how to work the machine' I replied. (How could a man of 81 who is pretty handy at mending most things not be able to work a washing machine?)
'Well I think he did'
'I'll have a look' - she had forgotten that I offered to take her washing home with me- 'Here it is' I say, brandishing a clear plastic bag containing another nighty 'is that it?'
'Oh yes' she says proudly 'I'm still not wearing any knickers!'
'Well, mum, they are very short nightie's and I really think you should wear some' I say, having been facing her -  chair to chair for a while!
'We're all girls in here you know' she shouts blithely, as I insist 'I still think you should start wearing knickers'
In contrast I am wearing, what I hope is, a stern look!

Please can I grow old gracefully Lord?!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Mothering

How long should I expect my mother to 'mother'? Am I being unreasonable? I mean, should mothers give up when you get married, have children, buy your own house? I don't know the answer.

Having been though counselling as part of my year long counselling course she has been the topic of a few sessions - apparently that's common, we mothers are tricky beings who mess up their kids lives, some of us even unintentionally.

So I am wiser than I was this time last year. I know why I feel abandoned when she doesn't listen, dismisses what's going on in my life, can only see things from her point of view and when she seems to be the centre of her own universe. Funny that last one; as an only child I thought that was my perogative! 

I rang her tonight. I have something big and not at all good going on in my life ( thankfully not health related - more work orientated) which I've not told her yet as I wanted to see her face to face to tell her but seeing as I've also had food poisoning, so I'm feeling pretty rubbish and haven't made it over for a visit I decided not to tell her on the phone. But she asks a question to which I had to answer " I think it's better if I tell you when I see you" - it was water off a ducks back, she picked nothing up - like she didn't really hear ( I wanted some small concern at least- if she'd pushed me I'd have told her anyway as I'm so upset about it) and she continued to regale me with tales of woe about getting to grips with her new phone! It's all about her I thought - unfairly perhaps?

She's booked in for a knee replacement on Thursday, which has been postponed several times, I know she's in a state about going in to hospital but as it's been on the cards for so long now it's made her wish it was all over and that seems to be a good thing as 'getting it over with' is superseding the panic about dying in hospital! I wanted to see her before she went in but in case I'm contagious ( could be a bug) she's cancelled my visit.

Over the months I've tried to reassure her about the op, I've done my best, I've given advice - adamantly rejected, and tried to suggest how to relax -'don't tell me what to do' responses. So I'm definitely done with mothering her! But is it so wrong to want her to ask about me, care about me and see I have stuff going on too? For goodness sake we all have 'stuff' going on! And even though I know why I feel abandoned when she doesn't listen to what I say, it still hurts and I'm left with that feeling for a long time.

And even as I write this I remember no one is immortal ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Yes!

"What would happen if this finger was cut off?" Says Tall Girl pointing to her wedding ring finger. I give her the sort of look I would have given Small Sprog if he had asked me the same question - which, to be honest, would have been more likely!
"Or your whole arm?"  (I roll my eyes out loud!)  "How would people tell you're engaged?"


She's referring to my recent 'news'. I was romantically proposed to 2 weeks ago under the stars in Portugal. I have a ring on my finger - I can hardly believe it and I'm ridiculously excited. The children - we have 5 between us - are all happy and seem to have already formed good bonds between each other. I could not ask for more. 

In my head it's been on the cards for a while and he - shall we call him Big A - says he's been going to ask for ages but couldn't quite get up the courage. I have to say, before we traveled at the beginning of August, I had the thought that if he didn't ask me this week then he'd never ask me! So I didn't have to think about it when it happened I had already made up my mind. There was a point in recent times when I couldn't imagine giving up my independence for anyone but now, I have barely given it a second thought.

There are some things that feel 'just right' when you come across them in life and since we met it has felt this way. We have loads of plans to make but nothing is clear yet. This weekend the children  (can you call them that when they are all over 15 - more than 3 are adults?!) and us are having a planning meeting. This could well be dangerous! In the end I'd marry him in Asda car park tomorrow - there is no need for anything big but it could easily get out of hand...Watch this space!

What's your news from the summer?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In which Small Sprog goes dress shopping

'I'm meeting friends' he says nonchalantly 'can you give me a lift to town - we're going dress shopping' he throws in as he wanders off up the hall.
'Hang on a minute' I call as he disappears ' you don't like shopping - and' I suddenly thought ' I've never seen you in a dress!' though to be honest, nothing would shock me with that boy!

Later it transpires that he's meeting two girls from his group of friends. 'But you hate shopping' whine Tall Girl and myself churlishly in the car on the way into town, 'you never go shopping with us' - our voices all hurt.
He smiles his winning smile and waltzes off into Broadmead without a care in the world.

Give it half an hour, I think to myself, and he'll be calling up for a lift home again. But no; three hours later I get a call, can you come and pick us all up and can the girls come back to our house.

By Sunday he was complaining that his arms ached. 'What have you been doing?' I asked suspiciously.
'I carried all the bags' he bleated. Oh bless him, so chivalrous.
It turns out he spent the whole three hours in Primark - I think he needs a medal for that alone - and some of that was in the bra department. He goes on to recite to me how womens bra sizes work - how he thought I had got through my life not knowing this is anyones guess but I play along and off he goes with the whole messy business.. 'Well they start at triple A and then go to double A and then just A and...' His sister walks through the door..
'That's batteries isn't it?'! she asks
Sometimes I just have to keep calm and carry on!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Just a normal Monday in suburbia!

So, we are sitting at the dinner table, we are half way through our meal and the previous conversation has come to a natural end when Small Sprog pipes up 'Can I have a duckling?' Tall Girl and I cast a glance towards each other and, gently spluttering, I try not decorate the dining table with the meatballs which I am suddenly unable to swallow! I remind him that only last week he wanted a puffer fish; I sent him away to do research. After that he wanted a bearded dragon - this was a definite 'no' as I had a sudden vision of it scampering across my bed in the middle of the night; then he wanted a gecko -these are cute but I reminded him that the cat would probably eat it as much as look at it and so we came to an impasse.

Right now we are all in the sitting room; Small Sprog is shooting things on his Xbox (sound turned down, phew), Tall Girl is making the final touches to her Art coursework. We have worked our way through some musical greats on youtube - things that I am surprised they know all the words to - and whilst singing along, very loudly, Small Sprog breaks off on occasion to shout at an alien or two. I wonder if this is normal? I have to admit that, despite the noise, I'd rather we were all in one room than dispersed in separate rooms on different screens.

Small Sprog had a panic attack last week. It brought back horrible memories (probably for both of us) and though I am not one for praying, I think I may have sent out a little wish that it was a one off and not the onset of his full on anxiety.

I think our weekend went well towards putting an end to his distress. We spent Friday night with my partner and his 2 youngest. The children, actually I should say young people, (and I cross my fingers whilst writing this) get along like they've known each other for years, they didn't really need us adults around!

I'm still not sure how the last year has worked - I feel like it's too good to be true and that it will all be taken from me in a moment and that that moment is only around the corner. Weird how we sometimes can't let ourselves be happy - do you do that too?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

School holidays - sometimes things don't change...

...which is lovely and reassuring.

We decided not to go anywhere in the holidays, partly because Small Sprog won't fly and partly because I don't have any spare cash! I'm glad we didn't go anywhere in the uk - which would have been our only option - as the weather's been rubbish. So here we are at home, and although not very exciting it has been like going back years.

Tall Girl and I used to cook and bake together in the long school holidays. They always felt long back then because I was with them all the time and often their dad worked for a good bit of it, so it was me and them - comfy and easy together.

So yesterday, when I baked the second sticky toffee pudding of the week, a vivid memory came to mind of cooking, all those years ago, with Tall Girl when she wasn't so tall. I distinctly remember her standing on a small stool, siring the pan of hot, sticky caramel on the stove top, a little cautious because she's scared of hot things - it only feels like yesterday. And now, today, we cooked together - it's hard to admit but she is taller than me and she bakes a mean scone! It felt restorative, happy, comfortable, right and so good I want to cry. I'm so very grateful to have her still here with me, she has grown beautiful and we rub along well together.

We have shared so much. We are close. I have always thought that from the day she was born it was like an invisible bit of elastic held us together. She never got lost, she was too scared to venture very far, and sometimes I found this hard. I am older now and maybe wiser and I treasure every moment - perhaps it is because I can see the end? So when we were looking at baby photos the other night together, I realised that I don't think I loved her enough when she was little. I had post natal depression but I'm not sure it was all to do with that - I was not a natural mother. I loved her, very much but I was too busy and maybe not entirely happy. But now, especially now, I am getting to know her as an adult. I like what I have met, a different person to what I expected to come out of that small and scared little thing and I love her with all my heart.

So do I have enough love for another few children in the mix? If things go to plan - and who knows? - there will be another 3 in the mix, albeit one who is too old to live at home.

On Monday I was with Tall Girl and Gee, my partners eldest, having our nails done as a treat for his birthday! "I thought I'd hate you!" She told me
"I thought you'd hate me too" I said
we laughed together and the nice lady in the nail bar couldn't believe - when my partner and son appeared - that we weren't already a family. Later the youngest turned up - just 15 - with her cousin and so we were 7 for lunch. She was right the nail bar lady- it did feel very much like we were already a family, and a happy one at that.

I'm pretty sure I have enough love left - I am blessed




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Here again so soon?

Tonight I should be writing my 'learning journal' - yep, homework from my counseling course - every week I have to journal about the day, it is, perhaps, the reason why I don't write here very much any more and, like this blog, it shows huge personal growth since September when I started it.

I look back - a bit of a speciality of mine(!) - and realise how far I have come in 12 months - more so since September, but perhaps it all started with the short course I enrolled on last April?

It's been a huge emotional roller coaster of a ride, and though I think I'm through the worst now I often get a little tearful during the sessions and a bit more of me is revealed, raw and hurting, bits I have kept for some time.

Yet we all have these bits and the wonderful journey that I have travelled has helped me recognise and acknowledge them and begin, only just begin, to move on. So although I've been learning about counselling others, I have learnt far more about myself - but that is to be expected from these sorts of courses, or so I've been told.

I look back now with self knowledge that has been hard fought for and wonder if I'd have made different choices if I'd been aware - in the past - of what drives me? But in the same instant I am grateful for constantly moving forward and I have no regrets - how lucky is that?!

So the household carries on in its shambolic fashion; Tall Girl has around 40 days left of her education and has stalled a little. 14 years of hating school; getting her through the last few days is proving a challenge!

Small Sprog is upstairs in his room, on Skype, or something similar, singing to a load of girls from who knows where? I can hear him, his rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody left a lot to be desired! As he screams to a halt somewhere around the Beelzebub bit I shout up the stairs for him to stop before he wakes the baby two doors down - he has a lovely voice but his pub singer impression is not his finest moment. It's taken him 2 hours to do his math homework in all the chaos that is his room, somehow he seems to be doing well at school!

The cat is still with us, in body if not in mind - he has dementia and mostly is quite lost but we do our best and he hangs on determinedly to this life rather than moving on to the next with dignity.

And on we go, rubbing along together, life is good, really very good in fact and time is precious; my babies are not babies anymore but beautiful big bright beings who light up my life and make me a lot of work all at the same time. Here we are, 5 years in, we have found our normality and it's better than I imagined.

Today I am grateful