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.
This afternoon, I took both children to the local chip shop to buy dinner, hoping to tire them out along the way. They ran, skipped and jumped all the way there. Upon arriving, Jasmine noticed that a friend from school was there; they said hello, then Jas followed me into the shop while her friend played on the grass outside.
We ordered, and waited.
Sonny busied himself with "driving" his little car along the floor, but Jas kept glancing over her shoulder.
Eventually, the question came.
"Mum...can I go outside and play with Lucy?"
My reply was immediate.
"Because I don't want you running off and I don't want your brother to follow you...it's just safer if you stay in here with us."
Jas protested a little at this before realising it was pointless and perching up on a chair by the window. She looked outside, longingly, then called her friend a couple of times and waved enthusiastically.
I felt guilty, but Jas is my baby. Not yet four. I couldn't just let her go out there on her own. Could I?
I watched her and began to feel guilty. It was just the outside the shop. I could still see her and get to her if need be.
I walked to where she was sitting and whispered: "If you promise not to go where I can't see you, and you don't encourage Sonny to follow you, you can go and play with Lucy."
Jas smiled hugely, promised faithfully that she would stay where I could see her, and raced out of the door.
She was brilliant - she kept to her word and didn't go beyond the grassy area; she even stopped a couple of times to give me a smile and a wave.
At some point during all this, I realised that my baby was growing up. Of course, I knew this would happen, but it was strange to see things shifting already.
Soon, ten minutes playing with a friend within sight will be boring and the next questions will arrive. Soon, she will be too big to want a ride in the pushchair or on our shoulders. Soon, she will refuse to hold my hand in public.
Wednesday morning, around 8am. James had been suffering with a migraine for a while and it quickly became apparent that the plans we had made for the day would go unfulfilled. This meant no music group, no play date, maybe even no viewing at our preferred new school for Jasmine. It was dark, raining and miserable. I hadn't slept well for two nights and had very little energy or motivation. The children were both beginning to get bored, but were also tired and a little fractious. We pottered around the house for a while, feeling sad at the activities we were missing out on.
Then it struck me. What we had here was a day with no plans. A completely free day. What a rare and beautiful thing! It didn't matter about the weather, it didn't matter that we were tired; we could tailor our activities to suit ourselves.
With this in mind, I rounded up the children, dressed them in puddle suits and wellies and took them on the five minute (or so) walk to our local pub for lunch. On the way, we stopped at the newsagents to buy magazines - something that always pleases my two. The pub was mainly full of old people, who cooed over the children. Both behaved impeccably and I spent a long time just watching them smile, colour and pore over their magazines whilst waiting for lunch to arrive. Happily, they both ate well (which is not something I can usually say about Sonny!) and enjoyed themselves. After lunch, we spent a few minutes on the play equipment outside the pub before heading to the station to get the train into town.
I spoke to Jasmine about the prospect of still viewing the new school and she was very keen, so it was decided that we would go there next (more on that story later).
After the viewing, which went brilliantly, we wandered up the road to the library and read stories to each other. Both children played on the computer, and then each chose a DVD to bring home. Finally, we stopped for a Happy Meal on the way back to the bus stop. Sonny fell asleep on the way home, whilst Jasmine charmed her fellow passengers.
Both were tucked up in bed soon after we arrived home.
It may not have been the most exciting day out we've ever had, but it was amongst the most enjoyable. Definitely an unexpected bonus.
This week's theme over at Sticky Fingers is food, which is one of my favourite subjects. Food, to me, means family, home and cooking. More specifically, cooking with my daughter. It doesn't have to be anything particularly exciting - in the above photo, we were only making banana and walnut muffins, but look at that smile!
I hope that I will pass on my love of cooking to my daughter and that she will grow up to love food, explore new tastes and be confident in her abilities to make whatever she wants.
In short, I hope to see a lot more of that beautiful smile.
Tomorrow is Sam's birthday but we won't see him, so today we took him out after school. Despite the preditably British summer rain, Sam decided he wanted a picnic on the Downs. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, we put our thinking caps on and James came up with the solution of holding the picnic in the boot of the car. Happily, much fun ensued.