Almost daily diary!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Wow! That was a big year, wedding, house moves, new schools and colleges. All such a new life.

Wishing you all a great 2017

Tall Girl and I are hoping for a less frantic and more restful year than the last - it was good but exhausting!

Fingers crossed and see you all on the other side

Love Suburbia x

Monday, December 05, 2016

In which The Cat has a dastardly plan

I plump myself down on Small Sprogs bed. He looks at me with a withering look. I smile!
"Whats up dude?" he says.
I giggle "Just checking you're still breathing" I retort.

I try to engage him in conversation and for a moment he takes off half an earphone to listen and puts whoever's on Skype, on silent.

I can still tell Small Sprog is in there, it's just hard to find him sometimes due to the huge amount of hair and the teenage propensity towards grunting unless you are a friend - and I am blatantly his mother. However we do manage very good conversations about music sometimes, as we have similar tastes but that's usually in the car.

I realise, after a minute or so, that my time is almost up...and then The Cat runs in. Now The Cat is all knowing, and he knows full well he's not allowed in this room as Small Sprog has a tendency toward wheezing when fur is involved. "Out!" we both shout, simultaneously pointing to the door, but cat's just don't get pointing. He looks at our held out arms in bewilderment (fake obviously as he is all knowing) and refuses to budge. I take a step towards him and he jumps into a box. Great! He's done this before and the only thing to do is carry the box out with The Cat in it. This is what I do, carefully placing it and it's contence on the landing. And then I realise both The Cat and I are now outside of Small Sprog's room -perfect - just how Small Sprog likes it!

Seconds later Big Al is on the landing shouting expletives in a very Scottish way - probably because he is Scottish. Turns out the box on the landing wasn't there a few moments ago when he walked the other way, who put it there and why has he fallen over it?  The Cat's work is done - Game, set and match!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Here we are

It's 4ish months since we all moved in here. At first it felt like a holiday home as all the teens had finished GCSEs and we all hung about the house happily together. Now the school and college year has begun we have slipped into a pleasant routine but it seems more hectic than ever!

So I'm sitting here tonight, thanking my lucky stars. We had Big Als mates around for dinner last weekend and they commented on how all the teens seem to get on well together, and they do. How did that happen? We are truly blessed.

And the new house? Well, it's just perfect. I am starting to see it as a creative house; Tall Girl has picked up on her drawing again, as well as baking, Josie is baking, I am baking, we are all baking - well, maybe not all. And Small Sprog I hear you ask? He's taken to brewing Mead! Well, why wouldn't he?!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Lost in translation

It's nearly the weekend and Tall Girl has 'volunteered', or perhaps been press-ganged, into making chocolate and ginger mouse for the Dinner Party on Saturday evening. "Have we got all the ingredients?" I ask. She checks. "We just need Ginger Nuts" she replies.
"OK" I say "I'll just catch Big Al before he goes into town and I'll put them on his list".

Big Al is fiddling about with the recycling outside, he struggles with recycling. His inherent nature is to send it all to landfall, but we are addressing that instinct gradually. I catch him before he heads out and scribble on his shopping list.

Meanwhile my Mother is 'having coffee' on my sofa, she is regaling her taxing day and is currently in overdrive relating the story about being trapped in her trousers in the bathroom at home, when she needed a wee! There was a happy ending but a warning for the future issues which may occur in public toilets with an eye on buying elasticated versions in the future.

While all this going on my phone rings, it's Big Al "About the Ginger nuts?" he asks, I immediately put the phone back down, thinking he is being lewd, knowing my mother is in the room. I tut inwardly.

Sometime later he returns home.

"How did it go?" I asked
"Terrible!" He replied "I got to the supermarket" he regaled "and thought - peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, and then I looked for 'ginger' nuts but couldn't find them anywhere, so I found an assistant and asked her if she knew if they had any ginger nuts - she was Polish so we both had English as a second language" - Big Al is Scottish and tends to shout when he can't be understood, in a very British way - "so the conversation didn't really flow and there didn't seem to be any nuts anywhere that were ginger so we had to involve a third party" he continued seriously "who seemed to know what I was talking about and ... lead me to the biscuit aisle" by this time I was laughing so much I was crying and mum almost wet herself (again!) "You never told me they were biscuits!" he complained.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Squaring the circle (Intuition)

This should be a post about moving house, which was crazy (and sorted) or the holidays since but I need to write the following as a memory for myself and as a way of making sense of things;

Turn the clock back 18 months - maybe a little more; it was the beginning of December and I was working as a Learning Mentor in a senior school. I had a reasonable caseload, teens in crisis, often parents in crisis too and it hadn't yet taken its toll on me personally.

I was given a student, we could call her Anna. I was asked to talk to her about religion, and that in doing so she'd probably 'sort herself out', she just needed someone to talk to.

I admit to procrastinating over this job! It seemed an anathema to me that I should be asked to talk to anyone about religion, I'm agnostic at best and I had no idea where to start. So it was almost 2 weeks before I set up the required meeting.

She was small, slight - 4'11" to be correct and she had an amazing smile. She talked, I listened, reflected back, did all the counselling stuff and for a while, my process (what I was thinking while she was talking) was, where is this going? You seem fine, you're smiling and all seems well. And then, something I said, something she felt, I don't know... she fell apart. I have never seen such a transformation, how a person can change, like a metamorphosis right before my eyes. She cried, but not just crying, a heartfelt, heart wrenching desperateness; her beautiful smile was gone and a desperate haunted look filled it's place, it seemed that this had been waiting for the right moment, and she chose that moment and she chose me to unload to.

Both our lives changed in that moment. What I heard could not be unheard, and she could not unsay all that was said. There was no going back, saying it had made it real. Once these things have been said, it's like opening the flood gates, there's no return.

Over the weeks before Christmas things were put in place to support her through the holidays, a life line, some contact with me via school email was allowed providing it was CC'd to another member of staff.

She got through the 2 weeks, just. On return she started talking about not 'being there', leaving, 'what's the point?' etc. I believed her to be talking about taking her own life. By the end of February she started to eat less, by March she stopped. I flagged up all theses things, all of them, I've read a lot, I've been on courses, I knew the signs. It was too late. By Easter she was admitted to the children's ward at the hospital.

This was chronic depression caused by her living situation. Her family was deeply religious, but she didn't believe, had never believed. She was destined to an arranged marriage in the near future and to live the life her mother lead. She could only see one way out, to kill herself. In her eyes the 'honourable way' to do that was to fade away. For her it was simple, she would harm herself so much from not eating that she would slowly die. Her family and community would not shoulder any blame and she would be free of the life that she foresaw and could not bear.

Unbeknown to her it doesn't work that way. Doctors and nurses aren't in the habit of letting you fade away once you are admitted and so, to cut a long story short, she went in and out of hospital, mental health units, Bristol, London and narrowly missed being sectioned (thankfully or she'd still be incarcerated) several times. [There is not space here to write about the horrendous conditions within child and adult mental heath - suffice to say that nothing much seems to have changed since Victoria was on the throne]

All the professionals she came into contact with all knew that the answer was for her to leave her family home and go into care but, despite everything, she didn't want to bring shame on her family. It was her choice to make.

I visited the hospital weekly - with permission from my workplace. My intuition was so strong, I felt compelled to support her from my soul. Perhaps that sounds weird but it felt incredibly right. I got her through meetings, became her advocate and was there for her whenever she needed me to be - her parents were part of the problem - there was no one else.

I visited with permission from school until the summer holidays. In the holidays I went anyway. Without permission I knew I was breaking the rules.

 I'd do it all again, I'd make that choice every time, and I was aware of the consiquences. We had a bond - I was the first person she had told her life history to, she trusted me, and the nurses encouraged visits because it breathed a little life into her, I asked the questions her parents didn't ask, I gave the various agencies her back story when she'd lost the strength to do so, it was right that I did.

In The Autumn I was dismissed from my job. Gross misconduct. I visited without permission. I was without a job and they refused a reference. A single mum with 2 kids and a mortgage. They said I was too involved ( I was very involved) they called it a 'Child Protection Issue'. It was the worst thing anyone could have ever said, I felt sullied by the words, yet I knew I couldn't have done anything differently, it had had to be that way.

A year passed. Somehow she had my phone number - sneaked from the hospital files. She kept in touch, begged to see me. I was scared - those words 'Child Protection' rang heavy in my ears.

Over the last year she has been close to death. I have, over time had to accept that she may get her way in the end and cease to exist. But slowly, very slowly, the strength of character in her, that I had seen right from the start became stronger. He family life had become intolerable and a whole 18 months later she made the momentous and emotional decision to put herself into care. And everyone involved in her care could breath again.

And the point of this story is that today we shared coffee together in a cafe. She is alive, there is no tube feeding her into her stomach and I sob as I write as it seemed so impossible, not so long ago, that she would live. The spirit has won, her spirit, the one Carl Rogers talks about, the one that has to be in the life it wants to be in or it withers and dies. That one. And he was right. I have proof. The life she wanted and the one she now has are synchronised. Before they were miles apart. She eats. She sleeps. She is rejoicing in all the things she wasn't allowed to do. She is 16. She goes for walks with such joy, just because she can. She can see friends. Her hair is fluorescent red! She is grateful.

Today she told me she wanted to be a lawyer. I believe she can do it. Tonight she is with friends getting ready for a party she would never have been allowed to attend not long ago. She chose life. Her spirit chose life. She is grateful for all that the rest of us take for granted. She will make it, my work is done - but I will always help her along the way if she needs me.

I have faith.

Friday, May 27, 2016


An era is drawing to an end and there are new beginnings on the horizon for all of us here.

Small Sprog had his last day of school today (apart from outstanding exams) and its feeling strange to think that, after 8 years, we will not go there again.

Tall Girl has been offered work in our new town and is very excited.

I am continuing my counselling course in September after a year off.

In a months time I will be sitting at a different table, in a different garden, things are about to change.

So why do I feel so demotivated today? And lonely? Too much time on my hands, not working, an empty bank holiday weekend- which I have always loathed.

Sunday I think it's time to start packing boxes...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Five weeks and counting

Tall Girl arrives downstairs looking dazed and confused. She is impatient to move and isn't liking the boredom of her current job which will end when we do move in 5 weeks. It's nearly time to go to work...

"I just read that they've discovered what came first out of the chicken and the egg!"
"Oh, which one is it then?" I enquire, wondering what she's been watching in bed for the last hour or more"
"Umm, I've forgotten now!"
"And I was on the edge of my seat"
She looks puzzled.

Time is moving a bit too slowly and although the house is sold (subject to contract), the removals are booked and the packing boxes delivered, it still seems too early to pack but too near to just carry on as normal. It's a sort of limbo, which we all keep talking about but which seems to be taking ages to end. And there's the thing; it will happen. Five weeks yesterday I will be living in a new house, yet and yet, it still doesn't seem real.

So to keep me occupied and in an attempt to feel I'm at least doing something toward the moving process, I've been decluttering and doing endless runs to the charity shops. It's amazing what you find! Though we've only been here five years theres a fair amount of junk that's mounted up. Some stuff I was keeping 'just in case' and now I am thankful that that time will not come now and that I am safe and secure.

A moment ago I found some old photos, lots of the children at various stages; that always makes me reminisce though I rarely look back these days, the future is too bright. But one photo caught my eye because of the date. It was dated 18th May 2007, thats 9 years ago tomorrow, and it was of me and my ex (who I was still married to) and Small Sprog (pulling a ridiculous face) and Tall Girl (looking beautiful and amazingly grown up for 12). It was the day I graduated. We were all smiling. And as I often muse, who would have thought I'd be here now married to another man and planning another life. Nine years isn't that long is it? Who knows what the next 9 will bring - it's kind of scary. I am grateful beyond belief that the children are still with me. They have changed, grown, dare I say matured(?!)but they are still my children and I love them so.

So here I am, looking at MY house and MY garden, for they're definitely mine and that was the plan, and I feel a slight tinge of sadness at leaving them behind. They were hard fought for and things have been very good here. I shall particularly miss the garden which was just a patch of mud 5 years ago. I have filled it with gifts and cuttings all given by friends and family. When I planted them I thought I would see them mature but I won't now. I talk to them when I'm gardening and they feel like friends, I think I shall miss them more than anything.

But onwards and upwards there is so much to look forward to and be grateful for, particularly the love of my children.

"Did you eat kale before you met me" I asked him during a meal the other day.
"No" he says eating another mouthful "I thought it was somewhere in Australia"!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


We're all hopping up and down with anticipation here. Well, when I say 'all' I really mean Tall Girl and I as Small Sprog can only really muster enthusiasm for web based activities. He's about to start his GCSEs (revision is scant if not non existant despite endless nagging from me), has approximately 4 weeks left at school and doesn't really have a handle on either event. However he's keen to move too; he just can't see himself in the future, and by that I mean the next 24 hours! But Tall Girl and I can and we can't wait! Big Al says he's 'howling'; being married and living apart is definitely no fun.

So in 46 days and 22 hours it will be moving day and we will leave this house and this city, there will be things we miss but the future is very bright.

In our excitement today Tall Girl (it's her day off work) and I are having a calming cup of tea. "What would you like" she says as she puts on the kettle.
"A cup of Tai Chi" I say. At which she crumples with laughter.
"I'm not sure how you get that in a cup" she giggles. Obviously I meant Chai Tea.

Our new front door.

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"
"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, I felt married, managed to refer to myself as 'Mrs' a few times - which took me by surprise each time! 

Back to reality now.

Thought you might like some photos...

Sunday, January 24, 2016


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