Posts tagged grandchildren

Those quiet weekends!

I just love the weekends, or maybe I should say I love the unpredictability of weekends. Ok Saturday we shop, like it or not there is always that trip or two to the shops but after that anything goes. I just love waking up knowing there is no need to get up early on a Sunday morning. Harry doesn’t have to go to work and generally the housework is all done so I can relax. Then once I get up there is nothing to do and somehow I miss the structure of the week and I’m bored. The weather isn’t good enough to garden yet, although maybe someone should tell the bugs that. In particular the snails.

Most people know how I have battled the bugs and diseases in my garden, well it looks like this year is going to be no exception. Barely have the first few green plants poked their shoots above ground then they are there, waiting like a wave of germ warfare at its strongest, to dessimate the few plants that have survived the feline invasion trying to unearth them while they slept.

Outside my back door the light wall seems to attract snails, they even park themselves on the bathroom window, watching, taunting me. A daily roundup does nothing to lessen their numbers and despite a vigourous ‘sweep’ of the wall and surrounding garden, another marauding wave arrives to start all over again the next day. Tender leaves on a goji berry plant disappear overnight, flowers on the primula that struggled to get above ground level last year are once again a tasty meal for either the slime brigade or the fodder to ease the hunger of the green and mutiple legged walking mouths.
The pond is another trap for anything that is destructive and the blanket weed that has resisted all treatment finally choked the pump, filter and fountain to death halfway through the winter.

Well, we planned to spend time on trying to eradicating the problems as soon as we could but never quite got around to it. Then this weekend two of my children came over, one of whom was my very energetic and strong son. It took him less time to fix the pond pump etc, sort the electrics and get everything working and catch a few baby fish promised to a friend than it took for me to prepare the Sunday lunch for him, my daughter who popped over too see him, and two granddaughters who played perfectly in the garden gathering snails.

I think I should maybe retitle this entry as those wonderful, unpredictable weekends. What a super day, and far from being a relaxing, do nothing, lazy kind of day, more was achieved in the garden than would take me a week to get half way through, Harry managed to recycle some old timber to make a bridge cover for the drain, we fitted in a visit to friends in the country to deliver the fish and share a cuppa and a chat with, we ran a couple of errands to my other daughter’s as well as spending the precious time with the children. Best of all, after all that ‘hard work’, a lazy take away supper was the final order of the day. The bugs and slugs will have to wait until another lazy Sunday.

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Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012

What a wonderful year 2011 was! Ok, not terribly successful on the writing front but absolutely brilliant for my art. It’s funny, I always visualised myself to being a writer, I mean that was why I went to University and took English,  literature and creative writing, wasn’t it? It is still dear to my heart and I still feel I have a novel or two inside me. I have been reading a lot these last few months, over thirty books actually, with the idea of grasping what framework successful authors use when they write series of books. It is so simple and yet it still escapes me, my brain fails to assimilate it into my understanding. I have one novel almost finished and another written in note form but when I read them they lack the something that makes them ‘live’.

My problem is that I am unable to get inside the protagonist’s head, or even to sustain a plausible protagonist that lives to the end of the book. I have read so many crime series, some of which are so simple to follow, and still I struggle. I haven’t given up on the whole novel-writing thing yet so will have another go this year. I guess the best thing for me is when I pick up something I have written and not looked at for a while, so many times I look at what I wrote and cannot believe that is actually my work. Well I like reading it anyway.

2011 saw a door opening for a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of  illustrating thanks to the fantastic writer, Trevor Belshaw. He writes children’s books under the name Trevor Forest and I for one think they are brilliant. It has been an honour to work with him and so encouraging to me. I have never been able to draw people terribly successfully and have been stretched out of my comfort zone of seascapes and the flora of the countryside but I feel I am improving all the time. If you’d like to take a look at Trevor’s children’s writing here’s a link for you , he  also writes some really great adult stories so do check him out. Of course you will see my art work on his books as well. ; )

On the art front and comfort zones, just before Christmas I was asked to paint a picture to give as a gift. Nervously I asked what the subject was and was told a dog…. My brain immediately screamed  at me… DON’T DO IT! I mean there are so many brilliant artists out there and I couldn’t possibly  copy someone’s loved pet. I mean I have never even attempted that sort  of work before. Anyway, because it was someone close to me I said I would have a go with ‘no promises’ as a get out clause.

Now I have always viewed my ability to create a picture something as a precious gift that I really appreciate. I often wonder just how such amazing pictures end up on my canvas or paper. They seem to just want to be painted and somehow they have chosen me to paint them. I sat down with a photograph and a plea for any help I could get to the heavens. Here is the result… I can tell you, I was just so amazed that I could actually produce anything like this, just like with my seascapes, that I feel sure someone is painting it for me.  I am happy to say the person I painted it for was delighted with it.

It is this little painting that has encouraged me to push myself further with my art and that, in turn, tells me that I need to apply that theory to my writing. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year I actually get my novel up to publishing standard. I am sure gonna try anyway.

So I am looking back at 2011 with a sort of affection, from all the things that went wrong, I learned important lessons. From all the soul-searching and analysing of things from my past, close and distant, I learned that I don’t have to be perfect; how others perceive me is for them to form an opinion, as long as I am as good as I think I need to be;  as long as I recognise that it is ok to fail sometimes I can learn from everything that happens to me.

I also learned that I am getting older and it is both painful and joyful to watch my children as the competent adults they all are. Painful because my role as a mother is changing, becoming less important. Joyful because I have a new role as a grandmother. It takes some getting used to, stepping back and seeing your children being totally independent of you,  but the feeling of pride is amazing when watch them as parents being totally wonderful having learned from all my mistakes.

Speaking of being a grandmother, we had a new addition on the 1st August.. Matilda Felicity Dawn weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz and another amazing privilege for me to be one of my daughter’s birth partners. A perfect water birth for her.. and a wonderful day for me. I  am one blessed lady, I can tell you.

2011 also saw me changing myself. As you know from my previous blog entries, I went on a slimming programme.. Many of you have asked how I did.. I can now tell you with pride that in eight months, I have lost 4 stone – 56 lbs for my American friends – I still have a long way to go and apart from a Christmas slip… hmmm… I shall be back on my diet from tonight… the dreaded post-Christmas weigh in…

This leads me to look forward to 2012, New Year resolution time? Hehe, in my experience resolutions never quite work out as I plan. Full of optimism and good intentions I always start well.. the weight losing is of course still a priority… but then life and loved ones seem to take over. Something that I really enjoy, and isn’t an excuse for failure as such, I mean I was thinking just the other day that each moment I spend with my family is precious, all the little things they do and say will never be captured again, a one-off experience. I have missed so much of my older grandchildren due to distance and different countries, that I am really enjoying the younger four that do live close. No doubt I shall be writing about them more, showing the pictures of the things we get up to and …. actually, that’s a good resolution for me, yes!

For 2012 my resolution is to be more organised, to set out specific times for writing and painting and stick to them.. at least that way I will get more done. I also intend to go out more, in the garden – slowly – visiting friends and family and just going out for little walks, as much as I am able,  in the sunshine. That’s it and to enjoy each moment for its own worth… Bearing in mind I have a 60th birthday this year : (.   Meanwhile I wish you all a really HAPPY, HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS 2012 .xxx

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Postaday 2011: Back to painting

Time seems to be whizzing past just lately and I don’t seem to achieve everything I want to. I have in the back of my head that housework is less important than loads of other things I would rather be painting. For instance, the two paintings I started, the identical ones in different mediums, have been sitting in my studio for weeks now. The oil painting is dry and so I can carry on but I have been doing… yes… that’s right, housework! We are still slowly de-cluttering and it takes me so long.  Not throwing the stuff out but making the decision that an object has outlived it’s usefulness or no longer fits the look I want.

Of course I have to start my day with my cup of lemon water and 20 minutes ‘dancercise’.  Good old Reggae music…I need to plan my days much better to fit everything in because I intend to stick to my exercise routine for as long as I can. The knee isn’t holding up too great at the moment so I have to watch how I move but often it warms up after a while and improves. I’m not taking this time for granted and really give it all I can,  once I have lost the weight I can have my knee sorted. What a wonderful motivator – being able to walk without pain.

Today I have been asked to do some more art work for another book. What a perfect excuse to leave the housework and get out my brushes. Each time I do a cover it is a bigger challenge. I love using my imagination to picture the characters and place them in their setting, each one seems to get better. This isn’t an excuse for not writing my blog but they will be much shorter unless I do plan my time better. I am sure somewhere along my life I must have learnt time management. I used to teach it but was hopeless at it myself, haha… that doesn’t seem right. My trouble is that I am a fantastic procrastinator and a very busy lady at the moment.

All this is so exciting and I have no intention of failing, I have one more day before I weigh myself again for the week. I know I have lost at least 4 pounds so far in five days, so I need to keep everything up. After my exercise, my art will take a priority for the moment, along with my gorgeous grandchildren… Looks like some late night coming up!

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Postaday2011: Baking with Maica

I had today all planned. My fifteen minutes of exercise and then as the house was clean, a day of gardening but , as they say… The best laid plans of mice and men ….. everything went haywire for me. I was just about to embark upon my daily exercise ‘dance’ routine… well fifteen minutes of the only exercising and, sort of , dancing that an arthritic nearly sixty year old can do, when my daughter arrived with Maica, my gorgeous three year old grand daughter.

Not having been pre warned I wasn’t prepared and said to my daughter that I promised her we would make teddy bear bread, a recipe Maica had seen in her cookery book. My plans for the garden were on hold. Don’t worry said my daughter I will explain to her that you need to go in the garden and do some work. I couldn’t do that! I had made a promise to her that we would bake pan, Spanish for bread, the next time she came and had to keep that promise. After all children need to know they can trust what grown ups say, especially grandparents.

We made biscuits while we were waiting for the first rising to complete. Maica loved cutting out the shapes and was so excited when they came out of the oven. Soon the bread dough was ready and Maica loved the feel of the dough, warm and soft. She helped to knead it down before she built little teddy bears from the balls of dough I gave her. ‘Mama bear, Papa bear and baby bear. Just like in Goldilocks.’ she said.

   The picture is very small because we took them on my daughters camera but I am sure you can see on Maica’s face just how proud she was of her pan teddy bears. She also wanted to show off her biscuits. She cut many shapes, flowers, stars, birds, fish, horses, elephants, circles, you name it, we made them. I had to tell her mummy that when we made the horse, the head was loose but we put it on the tray anyway and when it was cooked it had mended. Here is a little picture of one of her biscuits. A star biscuit. Before she took them home she insisted she left a flala (flower) biscuit for Grampy Harry.

Before Mummy came, Auntie Tabby and millie decided it would be great to go to park behind where Grandma lived so off we trouped. Maica had so much fun with Auntie Tabby chasing her and racing her up the steps and down the slide, being pushed on the swing and playing on the seesaw. Bet she will sleep well tonight. Grandma sat on the seat most of the time watching with pride and looking after Millie. Millie loved it all too, she adores Maica. So today, was a busy day for me and Maica but exhausted as I am, it was a great one. Here’s to girl power!


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Postaday2011: The nest is not so empty!

Eeek! late again and not making the bewitching hour in UK time! Still at least I am posting. Today we invited Thomas, who is Julia’s father, for dinner with us. After all it seems silly if he is staying in the UK and we don’t get to meet him. I was a little nervous at first but I then thought that of how many times I had been for a meal with people I didn’t know and began to relax. I needn’t have worried because he was such a lovely man. What I also noticed that he must have been as nervous as I was because his hand trembled a little as we ate dinner.

The meal was good and he seemed to enjoy it, it was really lovely to meet the father of our young guest. It was funny to see the difference in the two girls. Before, Amanda seemed to be the stronger one, taking responsibility for her friend, not always to her agreement. We said nothing, well Harry did, bless him, to the point and caring as he is, was doing a great job of being a grandparent, again. There have been times of silence between the two girls which must have been so difficult for Julia, who is basically more the guest than Amanda, then tonight the tables turned and Julia was more confident and Manda the quiet one.

As we chatted over the meal, I was able to totally reconnect with having Tabby at home, my last fledgling. How absolutely lovely it was to hear music, maybe not my type, coming from the upstairs room. And when they went from being silent with each other one minute, the next they were giggling and laughing like nothing had happened. It was so really lovely to have young people in the house again. I was concerned at first that Harry wouldn’t cope with it because he hasn’t really ever been there for his own family, not that they mean any the less to him than mine do, but he was a Navy man and not always there for them. He missed a great deal of special stuff and it is interesting how my family has seen him realise how much he missed and how much more loving he feels toward his own.

It really is so wonderful seeing him blossom and realising just how much his lovely daughters mean to him and at the same time have my empty nest filled, even for such a short while.

I have always been so really proud of the artistic and dramatic achievements of my own children. Those precious recordings, songs written by the artist, dramatic events that record a cast iron memory forever in my heart mean so much and have made up a really special part of my life. From the oldest to the youngest, each of them have excelled or achieved something that I look back on with eyes full of tears and a heart bursting with pride, wanting to capture each moment as a lasting gift to myself. That pride is something so really special to me, a gratitude and a gift that surpasses no other.

Today I heard my granddaughter sing for the first time. It brought back every one of the memories of my own children. She sings with the same confidence as her Daddy and uses similar techniques. I wanted to post the recording on here but it wouldn’t accept the format. I will have to find a way to change the formatting of her song and those of my own children to post. I am always saying how talented they are, I just want to show everyone else too.

I think this week is going to go too fast for me, not that I haven’t got my little grandchildren to enjoy which is a pleasure immeasurable, but it is so nice to spend time with and have our house filled with teenagers again.

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Postaday2011: Diets!!!?

So what do you feed young teenage girls? Always on the watch for their figures, sweet things are out and so are many things we would eat. So what is the matter with a good old shepherds pie and veg? English fish and chips? hmmm… I wander into their room/ my studio for a book from the shelf and everywhere there are crisp packets, chocolate wrappers etc. Maybe they don’t like my cooking? Aha, Amanda prefers vegetarian and Julia will eat most things… of course in limited amounts because they are watching their weight… they are stick insects for goodness sake!!!

I laugh because Harry and I are … shall we say… of bountiful stature, and I guess at our age image is less prominent a feature so I think hard for a meal that will satisfy everyone… a trip to the supermarket found a pack of stir fry veg, a pack of noodles and various other vegetables. My faithful Gillian McKieth cookbook and a throw together end up with servings of a Moroccan tagine and a chinese style stir fry. Success! Amanda goes for the Tagine and Julia the stir fry, so tonight at least I know they have eaten well… apart from crisps and popcorn and the like that is…

We took both girls for a walk along the shore at Stokes Bay and Lee on the Solent tonight and we watched the red orb of the sun sink down to meet its reflection on the sea. As we turned around the silver shadow moon was beginning to brighten in the darkening sky at the same time, just one part from a full moon, the bright eye watched over all as the sun drained the final pink from the sky and disappeared taking the last of the warmth from the bay.

The beach was dotted with fishermen all along the shoreline and the girls were fascinated, especially as none of them had their lines in the water. This was something alien to them as Switzerland has no beaches. They both gathered shells and pebbles from the beach to take back with them.

Tomorrow I get to meet Julia’s father who is also in the UK, probably to keep an eye on his daughter, so we will be having a big family meal. I guess an English roast pork dinner followed by apple pie and custard has to be the order of the day.

It has been a great three and a half days so far and only another week to go. We have planned a trip to a sandy beach early next week, the Witterings or rather East Head should do the trick, Harry and I will leave them there, after all the youngsters won’t want us hanging around, and will collect them later on, it will be a good time for us to go exploring and maybe take some photographs to paint later on. I have done all the checks, do they have sun screen, we will pack a lunch for them, have they their mobile phones ( or handies, as they call them/ cell phones in US / mobiles for us) make sure they call us if they have a problem and when they want to come home….

I thought it would be easy looking after my grand-daughter but I find I am more anxious than I was with my own children. After all, being in charge of someone elses baby is a big responsibility, despite them being sixteen years old. These ‘children’ have minds of their own and are in fact, young adults. All we can do is guide them and advise them, they will make their own decisions.

I think we are doing ok, They are still speaking to us and have both offered to help if we need it… and that makes us feel like real oldies, but I guess that is the way it is meant to be, and I am loving every minute of it…

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Postaday2011: Busy, busy, busy…

Despite all my best efforts I have managed to miss three days of my blog. I want to be cross with myself because I promised myself that I would be strong and keep it up and have no excuses! I have just worn myself out preparing for my granddaughter’s visit. I had been looking forward to it for so long and wanted everything just right. The days I wasn’t able to write I was just plain old exhausted.

Amanda was bringing a friend with her this time, which was a lovely idea because she loves shopping and what 16 year old wants to take her grandmother along. I am a very modern and young gran but am totally unable to walk too far and these young fledglings can walk far faster than I can. However, it left me with a dilemma. The room I usually put her in only takes one camp bed and the only other one available is my studio. Well, my art room really and my study and my ironing room, in fact it is my work room and I spend most of my spare time in there. Having just started an oil painting, I also needed to find somewhere for that to dry where the smell wouldn’t bother anyone.

I gave up my room but it took me two days to prepare it. I had to take furniture out and move things about in order to get two beds in and give the girls space to move. It took longer to move all my art materials because I needed to still be able to access them. I have been asked to paint some more covers and to illustrate some poetry and I am delighted. Any way that besides, I still needed to make it all right for them. I baked cakes and prepared meals until finally I was ready.

All that hard work didn’t come without its drawbacks.. the old pain barrier was exceeded. But tonight I am almost recovered. Not least because these two gorgeous girls are …. stick insects! and you know how much they eat! I don’t think they have even touched the cakes, good job my own family like them or I would be throwing them away with fur coats on as I used to once all my kids had left home before learned not to cook for  a large family. So an easy time in the kitchen for me this visit.

The girls are a delight and have settled in well, done their shopping and I have done my art work so I am finally free and comfortable enough to restart my blog.. How I have missed it! I do apologise for those lovely people who have asked what happened to it and said they all enjoyed reading it and I thank you so much for being interested in my day to day meanderings.

Now I can take a deep breath and enjoy my granddaughter. It was lovely today watching Amanda and Millie together. Millie was comfortable straight away with Manda and although she wasnt feeling a hundred per cent, unfortunately, we think she is getting chicken pox, Millie that is, because Maica has them and they do a lot of stuff together, she still managed a smile and a wave to Manda. Manda is my oldest son’s daughter and Millie my youngest daughter’s little girl, there’s a whole lot of life in between the two of them and I am so proud, in fact I am the proudest grandmother I know. I truly am blessed.

Amanda is the most sensible and switched on young woman I know. She is strong and capable of making decisions and looking after herself and her friend. She is also a brilliant artist  ( I wonder who she got that from lol apart from her Dad ) who has just got herself an elite apprenticeship in her home country, Switzerland. She is going to train to become a window dresser. It sounds little to me and maybe many other people but it is a four year apprenticeship and at the end of it she will be able to earn a good salary anywhere in the world. Speaking English fluently also has its bonuses too.

It is really quite wonderful to think I have grandchildren that are Swiss, Spanish and American and even more wonderful to watch how the different cultures affect their attitudes and behaviour. I look at them and feel that genetics are amazing little things. Even when little Maica no longer lives in Spain, she still has many characteristics and mannerisms of the Spanish, apart from the amazing big brown eyes and the olive skin. How lovely it is to watch them all grow, like Amanda, into young adults. And how I look back and think all it takes is a little ‘if’ for it to be so different and that is the main reason I am so glad I have had the life I have. If I start to think otherwise I just look at my wonderful children and grandchildren and tell myself that I have all this ‘because’ of.

I will post some pictures as soon as we have taken some meanwhile here is the latest of the two ‘Ms’, Maica and Millie.

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