Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - The Year That Was

2012 has not been kind to my family, to put it mildly.  Plans that were meticulously brought together ended up being trampled on by those around us, with no thought for our feelings.

I was, inexplicably, frozen out by my partner's family, which has made things difficult for us all.  Note to those who choose not to like me - do not take it out on my children, it is not their fault, nor should they suffer for it.

We were evicted, twice, and subject to a nasty case of harrassment by a previous landlord.  During six hellish months, we endured police contact, threatening behaviour and invasions of privacy.  There was a lot of emotional distress.  A lot of stress.

As a result of the aforementioned evictions, we have lived in a total of five different properties this year, with various people.  This has meant a lot of moving round and not much stability.  Particularly, I did not enjoy living in other people's homes, on their terms.

I have had to watch my husband be taken off in an ambulance, once, and had to call one for him on another occasion, for a separate problem.  I do not wish to repeat either scenario anytime soon.

Most recently, hubby and myself have spent 11 weeks apart, in different countries.  A painful separation, by all accounts, but one borne out of necessity. 

So 2012 is a little bit on my shit list.

Here's to 2013.  May it be brighter and better.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Spiced Parsnip Soup

Yesterday, in the lull between Christmas and New Year, I decided to make my first ever batch of soup, and it just had to be spiced parsnip as even the thought of it filled me with warmth.  It was cold, grey and wet outside.  The children were playing happily with their newly-acquired toys.  It was the perfect time to make a hearty, nutritious, HOT meal.

And how simple it turned out to be!

If you, too, get the urge to make soup that just has to be spiced parsnip, here is the recipe:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 parsnips, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, sliced
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
Black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
800ml boiling water

Fry the onion in the oil for five minutes, or until soft.
Add the garlic, spices and veg and fry for a futher 2-4 minutes before adding the boiling water.
Bring back to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the veg is soft.
Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth.

And that is all you have to do to produce a very yummy, and very healthy, soup.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas, and the Suspicious 4 Year Old

This year, I was the only adult in the house for Christmas, and in the weeks preceeding.  It has been tough, I've not enjoyed most of it, and found it particularly difficult in the run up to Christmas.  With two small children in tow pretty much 24/7, I had to take them with me shopping; sneaking items into the basket when no one was looking and hoping for the best.

Occasionally, Jas spotted something in the basket or at the checkout and asked if it was for her, at which point I expressed surprise at its presence and hastily put it back.  I thought I had been very careful.

Turns out not much gets past my daughter. She woke at 4 o'clock this morning, before I'd managed to get to sleep, grabbed her stocking from her bed and raced to the lounge to open it with me, and her brother, who was woken by Jasmine excitedly squeaking that Santa had been.

Within five minutes, I had heard the following:

"Isn't it funny how Santa uses the same wrapping paper as you do, Mummy?"

"Wow, look, Santa got me the same pencil case that you bought me in Morrisons the other day,"

"Oh. This is the Hello Kitty mug that you bought at the weekend. Has Santa been stealing your presents to give to me?"

I didn't say much, to be honest. I was terrified of giving the game away and willed her to just stop talking and being such an inquisitive and intelligent child for once. Question everything, someone once told me. It seems Jas was born with this as her motto.

Eventually, she came to the conclusion that Santa had just been naughty and not only taken some of the presents I had bought her and passed them off as his own, but used up the last of my wrapping paper too. Daddy and I at least now know how careful we have to be next year. This child will not be fooled unless we are meticulous.

Happily, despite the aforementioned rocky start to the day, the children both had a lovely day filled with love, laughter and a fair few presents. Lucky children indeed.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Traditions

This Christmas has been vastly different for the children and myself.  With one vital person missing, everything feels (for me, at least) strange, surreal.  The children are also getting to an age to really appreciate the festivities; to anticipate the 25th with much excitement.

So, this year, we have made new traditions.  Jasmine, for the first time, has written all of her own cards, and mine; a tradition that I hope will continue for many a year!  They have each had an advent calendar, and Jasmine has searched for the correct day's number every morning, now recognising two figure numbers as easily as 1-9.  We have made salt dough handprint tree decorations, stained glass window biscuits, and pretty cupcakes.  Jasmine and Sonny have decorated the tree with no help - the pride in their faces!  And, yesterday evening, they made their own mince pies for Father Christmas to enjoy tonight.

This evening, the children will find new pyjamas on their pillows and we will read a Christmas story, hang stockings on their bedroom door, arrange food and drink for Father Christmas and his reindeer and then they will, I hope, sleep soundly for a few hours. 

What happens between bedtime and sunrise is a mystery to me, but I cannot wait to see their faces when they wake to overflowing stockings and piles of gifts beneath the tree :) 

Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Stocking Fillers

With a two year old boy and four year old girl to cater for, I have been a bit stumped for stocking filler ideas this year.  I did find a great little website that offers an extensive array of toys perfect for stockings but I would suggest that they are really more suitable for slightly older children, maybe five or six year olds.  The toys are too small for my son, especially, as he is not past exploring tiny objects with his mouth.  He can also be a little boisterous with his toys, at times, and these rather flimsy efforts would not withstand his playtimes, I am fairly sure of this.  I also try and steer clear of too many sugary gifts, which are abundant on this site, for the simple reason that my children are spirited enough at the best of times!

I perused the Mothercare website in search of inspiration, but found their produce more expensive than I was willing to pay.  To me, stocking fillers should be small, inexpensive gifts; some may be necessities (socks, soap), others can have a short shelf life and may only be included to entertain the children on Christmas morning whilst breakfast is cooking (spinning tops, bubbles, fruit).  If I am going to spend upwards of £10 on a present for my son or daughter, it is not going in their stocking!  I think this is just a hangover from my childhood when standard stocking fare was an apple, a satsuma, a 50p coin, a small Cadbury selection box, a flannel, a toothbrush and a few small toys.  I think my grandparents filled stockings for my sisters and me; long before I knew the truth, I remember thinking that Father Christmas must have used the same soap as my nan as everything he touched smelled just like her.

Ebay is often an invaluable source of cheap presents that can be stuffed into your child's stocking come Christmas Eve.  I distinctly remember a beautiful, colourful little woven purse that Daddy purchased for pence last year and that Jasmine opened with glee on Christmas morning.  Unfortunately, I have not been too organised this year where Christmas is concerned, and have therefore left it too late to make good and proper use of Ebay (or Amazon, which is equally useful for this purpose).

In desperation, I finally looked to my children for inspiration. It may sound obvious, but I was so busy trying to think of fun, cheap ways to fill their stockings with gifts from the big man himself, that I hadn't simply considered what the two of them would like to receive.  I even asked them, in a roundabout way.  I enquired as to what they were looking forward to playing with at Christmas. 

"Lots of Thomases!" said Sonny, unsurprisingly.

"A dog!" said Jasmine, worryingly.  Thankfully, she later divulged that she was not, in fact, expecting a live puppy in her stocking, just a toy.  Phew.

So, with the above factors taken into careful consideration, I have compiled the following list of my perfect stocking fillers for young boys and girls:

1.  Fruit - now, I'm not suggesting you empty a tin of fruit cocktail into their stockings, but small, non-messy fruits such as satsumas, apples and bananas are perfect.  I can't guarantee you that these will be eaten, but at least you've provided the option.  My preference is the satsuma - if anything smells like Christmas, it's these!

2.  Some kind of chocolate.  I don't think huge amounts are necessary for small children, even at Christmas, but a festive selection box or cute chocolate reindeer will do nicely alongside a bag of gold coins.  I can pretty much guarantee these WILL be eaten!

3.  A small item of Christmassy clothing - penguin boxers, Santa socks or a festive jumper; maybe even jingling reindeer antlers!  Something fun that can be worn on the day, and then probably never again.

4.  A selection of small surprise gifts.  Think little books, toy cars, bath toys, crayons and colouring books, small craft kits, festive smellies, perhaps a DVD; the only limit here is your imagination.  Last year, I made Jas a chocolate brownie kit for her stocking; I poured all of the ingredients into a glass jar, in clear layers.  It looked great and the subsequent baking provided us with a fun morning in the lull following Christmas.

5.  A couple of things they asked Santa for.  This year, Jasmine will be receiving a small toy puppy and a yoyo whereas Sonny will have a a selection of trains awaiting him.

And finally...

6.  A little message from Santa, or something personalised to make your child feel extra warm and fuzzy on Christmas morning.

And there you have it - a perfectly well-balanced Christmas stocking suitable for toddlers.

That's another tick on the to-do list :)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

No Man, No Problem

I am living without a man for the first time in my life. Only for a few weeks,mind, but it has already meant big adjustments. Sleeping with the TV on, for example, because the silence without it scares me. Not cooking when the children have already eaten elsewhere, as well - I just cannot get motivated to make meals for one. It's too depressing and a lot of effort for little gain.

It has been a challenging few weeks.

In some ways, though, it has been a good experience for me. Living alone. Well, not alone. There's the children, of course, but it is my job to comfort them and, sometimes, their presence only makes me feel more lonely. But it has been quite a revelation to me, not to have a man to turn to.

Organising the move into our new home was the first big thing I had to contend with. Then came relying on assistance from someone I know dislikes me because I can't drive myself. Followed by lifting, and lots of it. Asking for help. Painting walls with Jasmine. Plumbing in our washing machine. Finding a way to make Sonny's car work (it needed batteries). Fitting light bulbs and, later, lightshades. Organising Jasmine's birthday and party (which I couldn't have done without a LOT of assistance). Building a drum kit. Cleaning up sick, and poo. Identifying that the U bend in the kitchen was blocked, hence why the washing machine had filled with water and couldn't empty. Cleaning said U bend (not a pleasant job) and putting everything back together so the sink and washing machine can be used again. Viewing several primary schools and submitting our preferences for Jasmine to start next September. Measuring for curtains. Organising Christmas (hubby is a trained chef so at least sorted dinner every year). Putting together the PC and hi fi so that they actually work...

The list probably goes on and is on top of all the cooking, cleaning and admin that come with being a parent.

I am proud of myself. I have done things in the last few weeks that I had never attempted before, and it's gone ok. There's room for improvement, but I'm getting there. I have furniture on its way and I will assemble it alone. I will do it. I will put up shelves and pull up carpet. I will do what needs to be done. I am stronger than I thought I was.

What's become most apparent to me recently, though, is how much hubby does for us when he is here. How often I must have passed jobs on to him because I thought I couldn't do them myself. And he did them all in exchange for our smiles. And coffee. He will do anything for coffee.

So not only have I become stronger and grown up a lot, I have realised that I am one hell of a lucky girl.

Not such a bad few weeks after all.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Happy birthday, Jasmine

Dear Jasmine

So, it would appear birthday number four is on the horizon. I won't lie, I am struggling with this birthday, this number. Four sounds so large. When I remember your newborn self, 7lbs 2oz of pink, sweet-smelling squish, four is too large. Unimaginable.

Yet you fit it well. I may struggle with four but others have seen it for months. Your language, your interests, your maturity. Daddy says sometimes he looks at you and sees five. FIVE! One day.

But today you are three and tomorrow, at 10:51 precisely, you will be four.

Thank you for the last year. For me, it has been a tough one but your humour and love have seen me through. You have made me laugh probably more than anyone else and I am, as always, a very proud mummy. Very.

Despite feeling a little sad that you are getting so big, I know you will continue to thrive. Your love of life and of learning will make you an excellent four year old; my very favourite.

See you in the morning!

All my love

Mummy xxxx

Friday, 16 November 2012

Faces of Jasmine

The Serious One

The "Is it?!" One

The Happy One

The "Have You Not Got Enough Photos Already?" Eye Roll One

The Excited "Yay, You Let Me Use Your Phone!" One

Saturday, 10 November 2012

I Miss You

I miss you, but you know this.  I miss the stupid things, the things I didn't realise I took notice of.  Watching you play Tetris of an evening; smiling at the concentration in your face.  Random road rage - bus drivers don't say the same things as you did when they see traffic wardens or police cars. I miss shopping with you, and for you.  I don't buy coffee anymore.  I see it and it reminds me of you, its smell and colour, everything.  But I do not buy it, it is of no use to me now.  I miss the cuddles, the contact we had without even thinking about it; how casual we were.  I miss you every time I see our children.  When our son gives me this look that is just you and I wonder how I ever managed one day without you, let alone 33.
I miss the laughter, especially at the things we found so hilarious that no one else really understood.  I miss the days we woke early and just decided to drive for miles and miles until we found a beach or a forest; someplace interesting and unfamiliar to share a day alone.  I miss watching you play with the kids, the way you made them chuckle helplessly.  I miss listening to your heartbeat in bed.  I even miss the football!
I miss you constantly.  The pain is less, with time, it doesn't take my breath away so much, but I do not miss you less.  The pain is different, it aches all the time and nothing is as fun anymore.  Knowing that I will not see you today, tomorrow, this week or indeed month, well, it makes the days long and cloudy.  I love you, for sure, and realise it now more than ever.  I could never doubt it.  And it grows, the love, it must do, to cover the spaces between us.  To reach us both, it must be huge.

I am lonely, and homesick.  Home is not where we have been staying, nor where we are moving to, it is somewhere I have yet to set eyes on, it is somewhere so far away.  It is with you, my home; it is wherever you are.

I miss you.  I love you.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tantrums By The Bottle

With Sonny having just turned two, tantrums are at the forefront of family life.  Nothing is easy anymore and simple tasks, like leaving the house, can take hours.  Happily, this blog post is about a whole other kind of Tantrum.

With their own salon based in the heart of London, and an exciting range of bath time products, Tantrum are working hard to revolutionise the hair care experience for children.  The packaging is bold and funky, with real children starring on the labels.  This interested Jasmine, who was soon making up stories for them because she couldn't quite read the quotes underneath.
We began our bathtime routine by using the shampoo and body wash.  Being the independent little flower that she is, Jasmine decided she needed no assistance in washing her own hair.  Thankfully, the bottle was easy enough to open and close for someone with small hands.  The scent is fresh and, as Jasmine soon discovered, you only have to use a small amount to make a nice lather.
It also worked nicely as a body wash for both Jasmine and Sonny, who were sharing a bath.  Sonny is altogether more difficult when it comes to bathtime as he does not enjoy having his hair washed and also has very sensitive skin.  Thankfully, the Tantrum products proved mild enough not to irritate his skin or eyes.
Next up was the apple shampoo, which Jasmine helped me to apply to her brother's hair.  It lathered easily and rinsed nicely, with no residue.  Sonny was happy withe the experience, and Jasmine loved the smell - it was this that prompted her to tell me that she preferred this shampoo to her usual "princess" one.  High praise indeed!

We finished off with the coconut conditioner, which smelled divine and was easy to apply (Jasmine, once again, opted to do this herself).  Having rather difficult hair, a good conditioner is always on our shopping list.  We look for something that not only smells good but that leaves her hair soft and smooth, which it often very much is not.

Overall, we very much enjoyed our Tantrum experience and will definitely be using their products again, particularly the conditioner, which, after blowdrying, left Jasmine's hair looking like this:

Disclosure:  Tantrum provided us with a selection of their products for the purposes of this review.  All opinions are our own.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Things To Do In Paris When You're Three (Part One)

I love Paris.

Before our recent trip, I had been once before and adored it.  We took in the tower, of course, and the arch, then the Pompidou, the Sacre Coeur, Musée D'OrsayPére Lachaise, Moulin Rouge, the Louvre and, one of my favourite stops, the very quaint Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

One place I had never before had the pleasure of visiting, however, was Disneyland; everyone's favourite Parisian suburb.  So, when Jasmine's Godmother invited us to join her on a miniature Disney adventure, we gleefully accepted.

Our journey began with a train, the first of many, from Lancing to Brighton.  Following this, we travelled from Brighton to London Victoria, then took the tube to Kings Cross before finally heading out of the country and arriving, two and a bit hours later, in beautiful Paris.

It had been raining, was grey, busy and smelled less than fragrant.  Travelling with a toddler somehow made the city appear less romantic and feel more dangerous.  We ventured through the bustling streets, trying to find our way to the hotel we had booked many weeks previously.  It was, inexplicably, situated slap bang in the centre of the Rastafarian district.  We were stared at, a lot, but this is nothing new for a redhead.

Upon entering the hotel, it quickly became apparent that this was not a touristy place.  The owner (possibly...he may not have been; we couldn't understand a word...) did not speak English and it took a while to check in.  Following this debacle, we gratefully unloaded the majority of our possessions into our bijou (ahem) room and headed back outside, eager to sample the delights of autumnal Paris.

By this time, it was approaching 5pm and we had somewhere to be.  Jasmine had been desperate to visit the Pompidou Centre ever since Daddy had shown her the photos from our trip, so we took the nearest Metro towards the unusual building and hoped for the best.

Of course, it is closed on Tuesdays!

Undeterred, we continued our Parisian adventure by searching for somewhere nice to eat with a three year old.  We looked for a while, looked at many a place.  Some were too expensive, others were McDonalds. Eventually, we came across somewhere within budget that looked perfectly pleasant and whose manager didn't baulk when greeted with a small diner.  I don't remember the name, nor the exact area, just that it was within walking distance of the Pompidou.  What I do remember, however, is the service.  Now, I do like to pretend that I speak French.  It's a fun thing to do, in England.  Unfortunately, it is a complete lie.  None of us spoke French, and could not read the majority of the menu.  Thankfully, the lovely young man who waited upon us that evening spoke very good English!

We were served our chosen food and drinks promptly and with big smiles.  Jasmine did get fidgety because there was nothing to do, no play area nor colouring books, but was pleased to be involved in a grown-up meal and was most excited to receive a slice of lemon with her lemonade...until she tried to eat it, that is.

One slight negative with this restaurant was the lack of choice within the children's menu - simply one main and one dessert, no other options.  And the dessert was strawberry soup!  When first presented with this information, we were expecting jelly or something similar and that the soup part of the dish was merely a Babelfish translation.  But no, a bowl was brought out to Jasmine, and within it was a cold, red, seeded pureé.  Strawberry soup.

Jasmine was not terribly impressed by this.  She was also rather tired by this point, after a long day's travelling followed by a wander around part of this new city, so we returned to the hotel and readied ourselves for a second long day in Paris.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Tilgate Park

Dear J

Some photos from our day:

There are many more, and I will send them to you as soon as this computer works out what it is supposed to be doing.  I am upset and cross that there are so many limitations to our contact.  Being unable to just hug you whenever I want or need to is difficult enough, but not even being able to call, text, video message... it's very hard.  Email is good but, sometimes, not enough.

Speak to you soon.

All my love

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Hubby is going away for a bit on Monday.  For good reasons, but he is still leaving.  Right now, it feels like he will be gone for a lifetime.  In reality, it is 40 weeks.  The length of a term pregnancy, which can feel like forever, but can also fly by.

I don't want him to go.  I don't want to miss all of the things I know I will miss.  I don't want to be without him for that long.  I don't feel guilty for wanting him to stay because I'm not forcing him to.  I want him to stay but I know I have to let him go.

I know that home, wherever that turns out to be, will not feel like home without him.  I know that stupid little things will upset me and remind me of him.  I know that every time one of our children does something different or looks at me in a new way, I will feel sad that he hasn't seen it.

I also know that I have a lot of other support.  I have found out that I have some truly great friends, willing to offer time and practical help - things you just can't buy.  I know that the children will adjust well and get excited about parcels and postcards rather than being sad about cuddles and kisses.  I know that we will write daily, electronically or otherwise, and nurture the bond we have formed over the past six years.

I know that he will come back to me.

I know that I will survive, I just don't know how happy I will be for the next few months.  I know I will feel like a part of me is missing, every day.

Yet I know there is a practical positive for every negative emotion.

And I know that I will be putting everything into saving up to go and visit him as soon as possible, for as long as possible and that when we are back together, it will be like he has never been away.

It will be perfect, all over again.

But, for now, we are looking at long distance.  Huge distance.  For ten months.

And I don't want him to go.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Sonny

Dear Sonny

I cannot believe that a year has passed since the last birthday.  It seems impossible to me that you can now be a whole two years old and yet I cannot imagine life without you.  You have changed so much in the last year, my boy.  I find myself watching you daily, studying the way you line up all of your vehicles in the hall (or on the sofa, the table, the patio, your bed...) and talk to them, one by one, trying to tattoo the memory onto my mind.

You are now a proper little boy, a keen talker and lover of all things Thomas.  Your speech is amazing; I love the way you tell me you love me, and say "I want cuddle for ya,".  I love that when I call you my prince, you give me the serious face and tell me that no, your name is Sonny, actually.  All of these things I want to remember.

You don't know this, but I set my alarm for 06:10 yesterday so that I could sneak into your bedroom and whisper the first happy birthday at the precise moment that you turned 2.  I kissed your beautiful face and wished for your next year to be full of happiness.  I hope you had the best birthday.  I don't know how much you understood, but I know you like your presents - the look on your face when you opened them was priceless.  I am looking forward to spending the following weeks and months playing together with these toys, attempting to teach you whilst realising that I am really the one who is learning..

I love you to the moon and back, my prince.

Mummy xxx

Monday, 13 August 2012

Peanut Butter Gate

Jasmine is due to start at a new nursery in September; she has her first settling session tomorrow afternoon.

As a family, we loved Reflections from our first visit. There are many and varied activities (including French club and a remarkable forest school), a beautiful and functional outdoor space and the most amazing homecooked food.

However, Jasmine was already settled in her local preschool...until peanut butter gate changed all that.

Now, I know the rules - no peanuts in a packed lunch in case of allergies. I KNOW this. But, one morning, it slipped my mind. I asked Jas what she wanted in her sandwiches, she said peanut butter and that was that.
As soon as James regaled the scolding he'd had from several teachers upon collecting Jas later that day, I realised my mistake, laughed, then apologised and thought no more about it.

Jasmine, however, is not so quick to forget. It rapidly became apparent that the situation had bothered her and I found it difficult to explain allergic reactions to a three year old who loves peanut butter.

I tried, of course; encouraged her to understand that peanuts can be incredibly dangerous and reinforced the message from school that they simply could not allow anyone to be in possession of peanuts.

Jasmine's response? "Well I don't want to go to that school anymore then."

I assumed that, after a while, she would forgive and forget but it didn't happen. Summer arrived and she was as keen as ever to move to a new school, so Reflections gained another devotee.

And that is the story of how peanuts altered my daughter's life. Or maybe it just illustrates how stubborn she can be...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Olympic Fever

It seems fitting to share this photo amidst the current wave of Olympic excitement. I think it is fairly self-explanatory.


Last week, we walked the children over a small segment of the South Downs.  The idea stemmed from a latent childhood memory awakened by summer.

Nestled between Storrington and Amberley is Kithurst Hill, frequented almost solely by dog-walkers and ramblers.  The road leading up to the small car park is steep and bumpy. We parked, played and picnicked atop the hill, surrounded by beautiful views. 

It was lovely to be able to share a part of my childhood with my little family.  We should do it more often.

Silent Sunday

Monday, 16 July 2012

Lost Things

Jasmine's toothbrush

The cat

My bank card

The remote control

Sonny's trousers

My patience

The changing bag

A towel


My jacket

The remote control (again)

Any spare bit of floor, at all

Sonny's Thomas train

Who said moving was stressful?

Saturday, 14 July 2012


After the weekend, we will no longer call this view our own.  It used to be the last thing Sonny saw before bed.  I would stand by the windowsill and he would point out all the things he could see, and call for the things he could not; things like dogs, cars and his sister.

We are in the process of moving.  It has been a long, slow process that began in January and ends on Tuesday.  We have been through a lot in this time.  We have received two eviction notices and were finally served a court order earlier this month.  We have, in actuality, done little to deserve this outcome.  Having had to contend with countless visits from our landlord and the bullying, threats and general inconvenience that accompanied them, the least we thought we would end up with was a new place to call home.

Alas, that was not to be.

Last weekend, we emptied the children's bedrooms and moved their belongings into the third bedroom; the first time they had slept in the same room, ever. 

Thankfully, they seem not to be as affected by this as I am.

We have been afforded little support or practical help from our local council.  They deal in black and white and search for loop holes; anything to absolve them of their responsibilities.  Our grey area is not catered for.

Fortunately, we have some great friends; one amazing lady in particular has come to our rescue and it is to her we owe our upcoming security.  We will find a new home soon and put this episode behind us but, for now, it is a sad time.  One full of stress, unease and guilt.

Of course there are still the happy times to remember, such as Sonny's first steps:

So many of his firsts occured within these walls.  Jasmine, too, has changed hugely during our 15 month stay - she is no longer the toddler we moved with but a proper little girl.  And while our time at this house has been tainted by recent events, these milestones will still be treasured; great memories to come back to.

We now must simply remember that we are free to go forward and make a million new memories.