Thursday, 24 November 2016


Well, my efforts yesterday paid off. Poppy wrote me a lovely note back in our Just Between Us book explaining that she likes Raphael for many reasons, which includes the fact that he is funny, for instance when the teacher asked the class if they have any more questions he quipped: ‘Can we get started now?’ and the fact that he is a middle child just like her, with a younger and an older brother.

This really surprised me as she has never mentioned this fact, although I once spoke to my brother-in-law about it when he first mentioned the middle child thing because he is a middle child himself. It seems middle children really identify with other middle children J And yes, I guess it is a big issue which is quite frustrating for them at times, with the older sibling allowed so much more freedom and the younger sibling let off so much more over things middle children aren’t. I guess middle children really do get an unfair deal some of the time.

And there you have a great example of how well our secret journal writing pays off. This is a detail that would never have come out in a regular conversation but is obviously an issue which my middle daughter cares very strongly about.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Our secret book helps me to be an okay mum once more

My 9-year-old daughter came flying in at lunchtime with the biggest grin on her face and announced she has come home with Raphael’s rubber. Raphael is a boy in some of her classes at school who my daughter has recently developed a crush on. I have attempted to put it down to a normal part of her development and a passing phase but for some reason the Rubber Incident made it all a little more real.

I tried to re-arrange my face into a look of nonchalance but inside my stomach was churning. I was very aware that the whole future of our relationship rested on my reaction to this particular revelation. Say the wrong thing and she may never confide her feelings about boys to me again. So while my panicked brain shouted at me: ‘She’s going to have sex too young!’ ‘She’s going to be pregnant before she’s 12!’ She’s going to have a dirty back street abortion which will KILL HER!’ I somehow managed a weak smile and a ‘How nice. Does he have your rubber?’ And then it was easier to act normally as Poppy went off into a detailed explanation of the rubber exchange.

She went back to school after lunch leaving me mentally exhausted. But once the ‘Pregnancy/shame/abortion/death’ thoughts had calmed over a cup of tea, I reached for our special book and started to write.

Our ‘Special book’ it just for the two of us. We share our thoughts, fears and hopes in there and keep it in a safe place – usually under her pillow. No-one else is allowed to look at it. And it really is great. I am not very good at saying the right thing but writing things down a little later helps me to take a deep breath and get to the nook and cranny of how I feel. And for Poppy, she has reached that age when she also finds it difficult to express herself, so I think it helps her. And she loves having something that is there for just me and her.

So I started to write about how it was lovely to see her so happy. I wrote about falling for a boy when I was around her age but he moved away after a year leaving me very sad. However, we wrote to each other for more than 10 years. I asked questions about Raphael - What does she like about him? Does he also like drawing? What does he do that makes her smile? Then I closed the book and felt differently about it all. And I felt hope. That maybe I will get through many more years of being an okay mum.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

First art stall (albeit very small ;)

So following on from my painting of my local church being used by a gospel choir to promote their concert, I have been offered the chance to display my painting of Brutten Church at their event on Sunday. I also have the chance to sell a print and a few cards which I have made. I am very excited now, although I have been assured there is very little chance that I could sell anything as everyone is always very eager to get home after the event. But even so, it is nice to have my art out there for people to enjoy. And you never know, they might even take away a business card for a future commission.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Legoland rocks!

We went to Legoland in the Herbstferien and it was great. It was only a one and half hours drive, with a little complex route through Austria which feels like you are not actually going anywhere, but we arrived relaxed and excited to get going.

We stayed in a barrel, which was so surreal. And very cosy. The park itself was perfect for our girls, aged 7 and 9. I'm not sure it would tick all the boxes for older teens, but then again, myself and Graham had a ball. The rides were fantastic - full of surprises. The girls took a Legoland driving course and even got a license! (Poppy informed me that some 'didn't get a license at all!) We had dinner in a castle, with fabulous service and food.

The details are fantastic, with little lego men doing stuff around the park, getting stuck in cement, getting lost up pipes, appearing in unexpected places. Very funny. I heartily recommend a trip if you've not been.

My painting has become a promotional campaign

A painting that I made of Brutten Church has appeared all around the village and surrounding villages (including on street side posters!) as part of a promotional campaign for Dubendorf Gospel Choir which is holding a concert in the church on Sunday (20th)

It got me thinking that I can create art that people want. An opportunity I should be able to use to start a little art business. Although Gray is very well paid, with the high cost of living here we are constantly a little worried we haven't got a financial 'buffer' for when those unexpected big bills come along (and a few are looming right now as Gray's back problem has resurfaced)

The choir has suggested that I bring my painting along on the night of the event so they can tell everyone a little about the artist (me!) behind the picture they fell in love with. I'm also hoping to get a bunch of business cards printed this week (I would have got them done yesterday but the printers in Winterthur are closed on Saturdays!) and perhaps a few high quality prints of the picture printed out for people to buy at the concert. I need to update one of my other blogs just to feature my artwork so I can add this to my business cards. Phew!

But for the first time I'm feeling hopeful I can do something creative which will actually earn me a little money too :) I'll keep you updated with my progress (or not!)

Here is the flyer featuring my picture which went to hundreds of homes: