Monday, 28 September 2009

Hello new baby, goodbye husband...


I am proud to announce the birth of my 5th grandchild, Matthew. His aunt and uncle - Orla and Joseph - are thrilled too, as is Marie.

He was 7lb 6oz (3.345kg) and delivered by caesarean section. Jenna was extremely anxious this morning, but once things got under way, sailed through the procedure. Despite previous worries, the birth was uneventful; mother Jenna and Matthew are both fine.

Babies never look their best just after birth, but c-section babies look better than those who have just been squeezed through the birth canal. Here is Matthew, aged 2 hours...

Do you think he has his grandfather's good looks???

I'll be planning a visit to Ireland to see him - and my daughter - soon.

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While baby Matthew was making his entrance into our family, Colleen's husband, Jim, was making his exit. Married less than 8 months, the couple agreed to separate today. It appears that there is no hope of a reconciliation.

Colleen appears to be bearing up bravely, but having gone through too many similar episodes myself, I can empathise with her true feelings. Marie, who suffered an unpleasant breakup with her first true love, was similarly upset at the news. However, we are both hopeful that a better future awaits due course.

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So it's a happy/sad day. Isn't that just typical of life?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Graduation Day!

It was Carla's graduation day today.

Carla, my oldest daughter, has been studying nursing at Plymouth University. Below, she is on the platform getting her certificate. (She's centre stage.)

The graduation ceremony took place at The Hoe, a spectacular waterside site just minutes away from Plymouth city centre.

This was one of the songs played at the end of the ceremony.

Afterwards, we drank champagne and munched canap├ęs at the post ceremony celebration.

Carla's husband Jason, her sisters Colleen and Collette and I attended the ceremony (Marie went to her parents' house with my 2 little children).

Here is Carla in the middle of a sea of graduates.

Look below. Does it show how proud I am of her?

You see, her degree was achieved despite having a difficult learning environment.

Carla left school at the age of 16 with almost no qualifications. During the examination period that year, Carla was having problems with her mother's husband being violent towards her - and her mother's inability or unwillingness to stop him. This bothered her so much that she came to live with me full time. Under these circumstances, I knew that her examination results were not a true measure of her capabilities; but Carla wasn't so sure...

However, 14 years later, married with 3 children, the youngest of whom
was only 1 year old, she resumed her education. As she progressed, she became more self-confident and began to believe that she could complete a university course in nursing.

It was a tough time - as well as studying and bringing up 3 children (with assistance from her husband, of course), she also worked part time to help pay the domestic bills.

Today was the culmination of her efforts.

The mandatory ritual of throwing of Mortar Boards into the air was duly performed.

And this was the moment she had been working so hard for...

Carla is now working at the coronary care unit of our local hospital. She had been here before, on a work experience placement, and the head of the unit begged her to return after graduation.

Carla has determined to carry on with her studies at the university while carrying out her clinical duties. With the determination and ability she has shown so far, she is sure to succeed.

She is an inspiration to her sisters, and anyone else whose school leaving examination results are poor. She has shown that it's never too late to learn.
Never too late to follow your dreams.

Here is another song played at the end of the ceremony...
(I think there must be some Take That fans at Plymouth University)

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Jenna's caesarean section has been moved to Monday. There were tests yesterday, today and there will be more tomorrow. So far, the tests are indicating that there is a great likelihood that there will be no problems with the birth.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New baby tommorrow.

If everything goes well, baby Matthew will come into the world tomorrow without any trouble, and I will be a grandfather for the 5th time.

But I am a little bit worried.

Just a little bit...

Matthew's mum, my daughter Jenna, is very overweight and her blood pressure is erratic. She has been in serious pain for the last couple of months. Matthew is a large baby. If all that wasn't enough, Matthew is in the breech position. The midwife does not want to risk turning him. The safest option is a Caesarian section. That's how I know that he will be born tomorrow.

Two of my own children were c-section babies, so this is not a new experience for me. However, I am in England and Jenna is in Ireland, and she's very anxious about the birth. Her anxiety has been building up all week.

I'll be very relieved when it's all over and I'm told that mother and son are fine and resting peacefully.

In the meantime, I can't help worrying.

Just a little bit...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sometimes agoraphobia doesn't matter!

On Saturday morning, my protracted negotiations to buy another business seemed to be about to come to a successful conclusion. Lots of time and effort and a significant amount of money had gone into this. On Monday, I would sign the contract.

Then, out of the blue, one of the parties, the man who was going to manage the business for me, wanted more money or he would pull out of the deal. For me, this was a breach of trust and I was prepared to cancel everything. However, on Sunday evening, he was prepared to negotiate - tone down his demands. This led to me spending the evening in a mental turmoil, followed by a sleepless night. If I didn't buy the business, 10 people could lose their jobs. So should I continue with my plans to buy the business? But how could I continue with the purchase if I couldn't trust the future manager?

I lay on the bed, unable to sleep, unable to put the matter out of my mind.

By 4 am, I decided to pull the plug on the whole thing. I got up and sent texts and emails to all concerned and went back to bed - where I was still unable to sleep...

Little did I know, but it was to be the last time I was to lie on that bed.

Next day, three of Marie's friends arrived at our home. Apparently Marie had arranged a bedroom makeover. The bedroom was emptied, the carpet and carpet fitters arrived, the new furniture arrived and all was finished by dinner time. Marie's friends, happy with their work and ostensibly jealous of our new bed, went back to their own homes.

Our new bed looks a lot like this one...

...and believe me, it is very comfortable.

Suddenly I recalled a series of seemingly innocent conversations about what my ideal bedroom would look like/what my ideal bed would be... The bed above, the leather sleigh bed, with the curved head (ideal for sitting up in bed to read/watch the tv etc.), these were the features of my dream bed. All those conversations had been Marie's preparatory work for the makeover. She then put her own touches to it - for example, she had purchased leather bedside tables with tinted frosted glass tops which matched both our curtains and the frosted glass doors of our wardrobes - how long did it take her to find those?

Marie had been saving for this for some months - to give me a surprise.

It worked. I was surprised. And a very nice surprise it was, too.

What a wife! And what a lucky man I am to be married to her!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Medieval times and one good day at school

Because we had a medieval wedding (in my opinion taking a look at the page on the link is worth the effort), all things medieval have a special appeal to Marie and me. So, when we saw signs advertising a Medieval Fayre at a nearby village, we were both intrigued, and determined that we would have to attend.

That was 3 years ago. Due to its success, the event has become an annual event, but Marie has never felt able to attend.

The Fayre took place last weekend. Marie decided to go to her parents' house alone - by which I mean that she decided to leave the children and me behind. She didn't travel by herself, of course - her father adopted the role of chauffeur for the weekend. So the children and I decided to go and see what was on offer.

The event, held in the grounds of the magnificent Cothelstone Manor, was quite entertaining. The main attraction was the fighting and jousting team. They provided excellent theatre with their medieval fighting re-enactments and jousting sessions. For the latter they used some very well trained horses. Click below to get a utube sample of the action (not my work).

There was also climbing (that's Joseph at the top of that climbing wall), shield painting, archery, a medieval street and encampment, a falconry display, beer and cider tents, tea and cake tents, crafts, food, the ubiquitous bouncy castles and more.

Joseph and Orla joined in many of the activities, and below they are taking part in the pre-jousting parade.

The perfect weather and spectacular setting contributed to a very enjoyable day.

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Marie's agoraphobia remains little changed over the last couple of weeks. She has reached a comfortable (for her) plateau.

However, a week ago, she did make the effort to visit Orla's classroom. Now she's in "the big school" she's very proud of her classroom. It was wonderful to see the joy on Orla's face as she was presenting her mum to he teachers and classroom assistants.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Children, dogs & beaches

I love living near the coast. As do the children. Here's why...

During the past week, the children and I visited three different beaches. They're all within a couple of miles from our home. None of them are signposted or accessible by car; so the vast majority of tourists holidaying in the area don't even know they exist.

Firstly, we have the 20m waterfall beach. The waterfall flow depends on the weather. The kids love to stand underneath it, usually naked, but I forgot to bring towels on the day we visited here.

Then we have the surfing beach. Only good on windy days - not a very frequent occurrence here. I haven't tried surfing yet, but if Joseph or Orla were to want to have a go, then I'd join them.

Dogs love our sparsely populated beaches too. Collette's dogs are boarding with us while she's off to Turkey (with big sister Carla and their husbands). Dog lovers might enjoy the video clip. Here the dogs are frolicking in and out of the waves. Btw, there's a lot of wind noise on the video.

Sadly, Marie has never seen these beaches since they are inaccessible to her. But maybe one day...