Thursday, 12 October 2017

Moving House ...

... No, not in the literal sense, but in the blog sense.
Everyday Life of a Suburban SAHM has had a re-brand and a move.


You can now find me at thiswestlondonlife.com.
Please bookmark my new home and add me to your reader(s).
Everything you've seen here should now be there.

C'mon on over, there's a warm welcome waiting! 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

For the Love of Books | To Siri, with Love

When I changed how I wrote about the books I read, I'd settled on a monthly round-up.
One post on all the books I'd read that month.
But some books deserve a mention in their own right, and not be lumped
in together with three or four others. 
To Siri, with Love by Judith Newman is one such book.
 I read an article by Newman that lead to the book,
and that, in turn, lead to me knowing that we are not alone.
I know that we are not the only family living with autism.
Of course I do.
But living in a family where autism dictates much of how we live,
it can certainly feel like we are the only ones. 
I devoured To Siri, with Love over a few evenings ...
and took a yellow highlighter pen to it.
The descriptions of her son, Gus, resonated deeply with me.  So many of his traits/quirks
are recognisable in The Boy Child.  Although Gus is a few years older, it's clear that Newman and I (we) are experiencing/have experienced the same things.

If I wrote about all the similarities, you'd be here reading until Christmas,
and neither of us wants that.
If you want to read a well written and realistic account of what living with autism is like,
one where the young man in question is extremely similar to The Boy Child,
then To Siri, with Love is the book for you.    

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

LSNED | Days 26-30

26 September:
There's always somewhere new to explore when you live in London.

27 September:
Doing something random and completely out of the norm is fun!

28 September:
A walk in the park mid-morning with The Brainy One 
is always a good idea. 

29 September:
Unsupervised homework gives a better indication of his ability.

30 September:  
Sometimes, you realise at the end of the day that you haven't learnt anything new,
and that's okay.

***
Thirty days, thirty lessons.
Let's do it again next September.

Monday, 9 October 2017

This Weekend I ...

... joined in with the birthday celebrations for 
Los Pequeňos and their Mama.
{I can't recall if I told you that when they arrived early, they arrived on The Colombian's birthday?}And here we are, a year later.  A year that has been worrying at times,
but a year that has also been filled with a lot of love. 
All of us fully appreciate how lucky we are to have the three of them still here. 




Friday, 6 October 2017

What Caught My Eye #12


"... there's a typical look of the mother:
skin a little ashier than the average woman her age,
hollows under the eyes a little more pronounced,
a smile playing about her lips as the eyes dart nervously, 
wondering what might happen next.
She is sometimes proud, sometimes amused.
She is never quite relaxed."

~ Judith Newman
from her book To Siri, With Love
A Mother, Her Autistic Son and the Kindness of Machines 


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Weekday Walks | Marylebone

Even though I am now in my thirteenth year of London living,
there is still a large part of the city waiting to be explored.
Recently I spent a happy hour strolling the streets of Marylebone in Central London.
   With the natural boundaries of Marylebone Road to the North, Oxford Street to the South, Great Portland Street to the East and Edgware Road to the West, Marylebone occupies the NW1 and W1 postcodes and is one of London's most sought after residential locations.
Given its proximity to Oxford Street, Marylebone still manages to offer a quiet contrast
to that tourist hotspot.  You'll find pedestrianised shopping alleys like St. Christopher's Place,
gorgeous mansion blocks on Chiltern Street and both fabulous and quirky museums like
Marylebone High Street is, usually, worth spending some time on.
There's a plethora of independent cafes, restaurants and shops, but on my visit,
it was spoilt by a mass of never-ending construction and nose-to-tail traffic. 





Wednesday, 4 October 2017

LSNED | Days 21-25

21 September:
Secondary school Open Evenings are terrifying things.

22 September:
If Friday had a face, I would kiss it.

23 September:
The support of other autism mums can't ever be underestimated.

24 September: 
Autumn is absolutely on its way.

25 September:
The smallest of injuries can still cause the largest amount of pain.


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Month in Numbers | September

October's dropped by in a haze of blue sky, sunshine and crisp winds.
But first, let's see whether September was sensational ...


Yr. 6: the final year of Primary School ... gulp!
One RAK: took a photo of the two Mormon missionaries and
emailed it to their mums.  Job done.
24,297: my highest daily step count.
Exploring London is one way to rack up the number of steps.  
Thirty: lessons learned throughout September.
We had a great time!
4: bags of old or outgrown clothes given to charity.
***
Month in Numbers is the brainchild of Julie
and you'll always find a warm welcome over at her place. 
 Not to mention entertaining posts about a varied list of topics.
Go on over, stop by and say hello.
You can see my previous Month in Numbers here.

Monday, 2 October 2017

This Weekend I ...

... had a busy time of it.
The Brainy One celebrated a birthday on Saturday
and we marked it by going to the pub for dinner with cousins.
  Nothing fancy, just good company, delicious food
and perhaps one too many glasses of wine.
Sunday saw us up early for the Bicester Scramble in Oxfordshire.  
We've never taken The Boy Child to a car event before because of considerations
about the noise levels, but, as the Bicester Scramble is predominately a static event,
he loved it!
   He also had great fun ordering me to take his photo with what felt like
a gazillion different cars.  That pose?  It's his new 'don't mess with me' pose.
Apparently.
As for me, well, I found it much more enjoyable that I thought I would.
I enjoyed looking out for Instagram-worthy shots
and trying to be arty-farty with depth of field shots.
 We'll definitely be looking to book for the next Scramble.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Photography Scavenger Hunt | Link Up #3

is hosting the third of three link-ups today for this year's
Photography Scavenger Hunt.
(As she lives in Canada, you might want to wait until afternoon
here in the UK before heading over there.) 

You can see the full list here.

Here's what I was missing:
4) A zig zag.
6) A pipe.
9) A kite or balloon.
14) Someone fishing.
 17) Circles or crosses in architecture.
18) A fan.
20) Something found under ground.
23) Something powered by wind.
 
I was able to find everything on the list, although some items 
required a little artistic licence.

How did you get on? 
 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

On a Random Mission

Yesterday, I did something completely out of character.
I approached two well-dressed young men and asked if they would like me to take their picture.
I even suggested how they might like to pose.


Let me explain ... 
I follow Heidi Swapp on Instagram and via her blog. 
As well as being what you might call a big noise in the scrapbooking industry,
she is also a Mormon and the mother of a son currently serving a Mission in Japan.  
Although I am not a Mormon, some family members are,
and having come from, and served in the military,
it's all too easy to imagine how much you miss someone when they are away.   

But I digress ... bottom line is this, Heidi frequently suggests that if you meet 
a couple of Missionaries (they're always in pairs)
 when you are out and about, stop them, chat to them and then take a picture ... 
to send to their parents.
(During a two-year Mission, the Elder/Sister Missionaries are only allowed
to contact home, via email, once a week.)

So that's why I did what I did yesterday.
And I feel pretty good about it, too!   

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

LSNED | Days 16-20

16 September:
A gift to myself is permissible.

17 September:
Beginning a new notebook presents endless possibilities.

18 September:
The answer to life's dilemmas, quandaries and worries is a cup of tea.

19 September:
Don't forget the obvious.

20 September:
"Don't count the days; make the days count."
{Totally inspired by reading this quote from the late Mohammed Ali}

Days 11-15 here.
Days 6-10 here.
Days 1-5 here.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

What Would You Save?

Like many people recently, I'd followed with horrified fascination the footage of the carnage and devastation wreaked by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma et al.  It's difficult to imagine losing your home and all your possessions in such a savage and immediate way.  It's difficult to imagine losing your home and all your possessions full stop.


But watching the footage made me think about what I might save in the moments prior to an emergency evacuation.  My initial thought was, "the scrapbooks", which sounds both a little precious and self-indulgent.  But it's neither really.  All our marriage life and every inch of The Boy Child's life are in those albums.  Future generations might be glad to have a period of life recorded in every detail.  In reality, saving the scrapbooks wouldn't be practical. At the last count I have 46 (yep, you read that correctly) 12x12 scrapbooks.  Not to mention the smaller December Daily albums and assorted travel journals.  They take up a lot of space and taken as a whole, are extremely heavy.  In order to take them, what would I have to discard?

Obviously, it makes sense to regularly back up photos onto an external hard drive (I've been doing that for a number of years), USB or in a 'cloud', but there is still no way I could ever reproduce 42 albums worth of layouts.  While I don't envisage ever living in a place that has an annual hurricane season, floods and worse can happen in anyone's home, and that thought spurs me on to put together an 'emergency exit' package - passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, house deeds, copies of our Wills, details of all financial accounts - right alongside that external hard drive.

Let's suppose that your loved ones are safe and accounted for; what would you save, prior to an emergency evacuation, if you had the time?

Becky Higgins recently wrote a long and detailed blog post on Memories and Natural Disasters, sharing stories from those who lost tangible memories in a natural disaster, tips for prevention and tips for recovering memories.    

Image via time.com.

Monday, 25 September 2017

This Weekend I ...

We began the weekend with another early start,
this time for Autism | Early Birds at the Science Museum. 
We followed that visit up with our usual tea and toast in a cafe,
but this time, I persuaded them to walk through South Kensington first
in order to admire the multi-million pound houses.
{Yeah, so, that was more for me than them ...}  
With the weather improving as Saturday turned into Sunday,
we were in the park for a few hours,
  before ending the weekend with friends, a dog and a BBQ.


Friday, 22 September 2017

For the Love of Books | Currently Reading September 2017

September's seen in a drop in how much reading I've managed.
Just one finished, with one on the go and two waiting.


The novel I finished (on Kindle) was The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh.
Imagine a place populated by criminals - people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who've been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits ...
The plot was unsettling, as all the characters are not what they initially seem,
including the 'good guys', but it was still engaging and I wanted to find out what happened to them.
The Blinds doesn't appear to be available in print in the UK until 2018,
 which is why I read it on an e-reader.

(the BBC's North America Editor).  I heard Jon Sopel on the radio discussing this book and I knew it
would be one I would want to read.  Many of us (millions of us?) are currently fascinated by what's happened in American politics over the last few years.  In this insightful portrait of American life and politics, the author sets out to answer our questions about a country that once stood for the grandest of dreams but which is now mired in a storm of political extremism, racial division and increasingly perverse beliefs.

Conclave by Robert Harris is set in Rome after the death of the Pope, with 118 Cardinals gathering
to elect a successor to lead the Roman Catholic Church.  This is one of the two I have waiting to be read and I'm hoping it will be as good as previous novels I've read by Harris (Fatherland 
and The Ghost to name two).   

Diary of a Wartime Affair by Doreen Bates is the second of the two books I have waiting to be read, and is the story of a long and, at times, complicated 
love affair with an older, married man.  Who also happened to be a work colleague. 
 The diary came to publication through the endeavours of Bates's children and sister,
 and I'm curious to know how things worked out for her.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hard is Hard

Right now, we have a lot going on.  Just like any other family.
  Just like you.  But it does feel like there's more than usual.
  Probably because there is.
Many years ago, a counsellor told me that comparing my/our difficulties to those of others was pointless.  Who's to say that my/our struggles are in anyway less, or more, than someone else's?
How do we even measure struggle?
Struggles are hard; they're meant to be.
That's why they're called struggles.
Well-meaning family/friends/acquaintances tell me, "Chin up!  It could be worse!"
Well, yes, of course it could be.  I know that. 
How come when you're happy, no-one ever says, "Chin up!  So-and-so is happier than you are!"?
Sometimes I find myself woe-is-me-ing - I can't do this any more.  I don't want to do this any more -  
but I should be thinking, "why not me/us?" instead of "why me/us?"

Hard is hard.  Struggles are struggles.
Experiences are different for everyone.
Comparison is pointless.   
Perhaps we should all compare and judge less.

Wouldn't that be nice. 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Scrapbook as a Gift

We wanted to give the friends who'd invited us a Marrakech
a personalised thank-you gift.
Which meant a scrapbook.
Naturally. 
I chose a 6x8 album and filled it assorted sizes of page protectors,
some of which I trimmed down to get the exact size I was looking for.
 I kept the journaling to a minimum, letting the photos speak for themselves,
and I added opaque envelopes filled with smaller prints, just to mix things up a little. 
We handed the gift over at the weekend,
 and I forgot to take a single photo of the occasion. 
But I can tell you is that it was received very happily.
Which is always good. 
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