Thursday, September 27, 2018

ENGLAND 2018: The Croome Court Shutterchance Meetup

Most of you know that Astrid and I have made trips to England every year, or every other year, since we first met each other on our Shutterchance photoblog in 2007.  Because the blog is based in England (with members worldwide), we have gotten to know many English friends, in particular, over the past years.

We LOVE our meetups!

However, this year, because Astrid's "Big Bro" celebrated his 70th birthday on 3 September, a meetup being planned for the past two years, we had a challenge.  Unbeknownst to us back then, our Hailey g'daughter's due date was also 3 September.  Talk about WHAT DO WE DO NOW!

Long back-story short...we all agreed that we should go ahead with our plans (tickets already bought) and just hope Hailey would not arrive on time.  She didn't!  We returned on the 4th and she was born on the 12th.  YAY.

So, THIS is that day, the 3rd, when 27 of us (18 members with spouses/friends) met at Croome Court for a grand meetup.

 The directive was to meet at the cafe at noon, which many of us did, inside...

...while others hung around outside the cafe...

...before we all headed out in different directions.
We had the rest of the afternoon to bump into each while walking the grounds,
before meeting back outside the cafe later for the birthday party.

Before getting to the actual Court, we passed the St. Mary Madalene Church 
at the top of the hill, built in 1763 for the Earl of Coventry.

She has so many faces from all over the fields.

Inside, it was basically bare except for the tombs of the Coventry family...

...whose hands tell many stories, "if these walls could talk."

Many of us congregated outside the church before heading down the hill to the Court.

Croome viewed across the ramblings fields!
It's a mid-18th century mansion inherited by the 6th Earl of Coventry in 1751.

The paved path winding down the hill took us past the tree house.

"I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree." 
--Joyce Kilmer

Once inside the basically unfurnished house, we all wound our way around,
upstairs and downstairs, bumping into each other along the way.

It really was a "meetup," you know.

A few of us walked around the house outside, to see the south portico with its sphinxes.

Looking back on it now, I see Hailey in this image, not knowing then
that she'd go through hell and high water in her first week of birth.

More congregating, this time outside the Court.
(A BTW:  the top-right couple is the other couple that met and married because of Shutterchance,
like Astrid and me.  He's English, she's American, living in Arizona.)

Can you tell we're all photographers???

It was time to head back to the cafe, making a loop around the fields, past the church again... the birthday party at 4 p.m.

The Birthday Boy is Chris, celebrating his 70th year.

The cake-maker extraordinaire is Penny (top-right),
who made the design to match his famous shirt, about which many jokes are made.
(Penny even printed out a photo of the shirt to show the match.)

We all had a fabulous time, as always!

Our next big meetup will be two years from now, when I turn 75.  Hmmm.
Speaking of "matching," I'm not sure I would want to match anything close to this!  HA!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hailey Hermien Astrid Frieling: The First Week's Saga

Those of you who comment here regularly will already know this story, but for the rest of you...and for the's what has happened in the first week of this wee girl's life!

The birth info is in my last post with the short form being she was born at 11 p.m. Wednesday, 12 September.  Here's the photo I showed there...

...taken 80 minutes after she was born, early last Thursday morning.

Later that morning, all the g'parents and uncle (Hermien, Alex, Jaap & David) came to see and hold her.
Everyone, that is, except Astrid and me!
Astrid was at the doctor to get cleared of being contagious with her cold.
We waited to go see Hailey after lunch that early afternoon.

In the meantime, Hermien had sent us this photo.  Notice her hand!

When Astrid and I got there at 1 p.m., they were doing a spinal tap to get fluid
for meningitis and a blood test for bacteria.
Jeroen came out to talk to us and all Astrid and I could do was look through the window at our new g'daughter.

And at that they say...the rest is history about the roller-coaster ride we then all took.

We did go back the next day, Friday, to see her up close-n-personal with our own eyes.
She was now in and out of an incubator, hooked up to an antibiotic tube (right hand, bandaged)
and an oxygen tube, regulating her oxygen intake (right foot).
When I asked, Jeroen moved her cap to show us how much hair she has!

Breathing, heart rate, oxygen, antibiotics...all monitored.
The results of the meningitis test would take 24-48 hours, so it was now a waiting game.

That Friday afternoon, after seeing how rested she looked, Astrid decided to go ahead
with the Dutch tradition of Beschuit met Muisjes at our senior-center's Happy Hour where we live.
This was new for me:  buttered biscuits dipped in sugar-coated anise seeds.
Pink and white for girls; blue and white for boys.
Our neighbors loved it!

Then we waited over the weekend to get the meningitis report,
while it became imperative that mama and papa stopped allowing visitors in order to get their own rest!
The only report we got was that the spinal fluid was clear, which was positive news against meningitis,
and that with the injection of the antibiotics (2 different kinds), "normality" was coming
to everything being monitored.

Hermien stopped by on Monday and took this touching photo of papa and daughter.
OMG.  I cry every time I look at it.

While Hermien was there, they took the needle out of Hailey's right hand...

...and later switched it to her head, which is apparently the first choice of position.

All this was happening to a baby not even one week old!
You can imagine how this was ripping us all up, in spite of how peaceful she was looking.

Jeroen and Eva continued to keep visitors away...with our encouragement, I might add.
I kept telling them the best gift they could give Hailey was taking care of themselves.
Luckily, Jeroen was allowed to sleep and eat in the room with them as a stow-away (not usual procedure).
They needed their sleep and staff knew Jeroen needed the bonding, as Eva breastfed.
The long-haul for the antibiotic was that they'd stay at the hospital till Thursday (today).

In the meantime, Astrid and I had made the decision to NOT expect any further hospital visits,
so you can imagine our surprise and delight when they invited us on Tuesday to come at 4 p.m.

She was nursing when we arrived and promptly fell asleep moments later.
In the one hour we were there, our hearts were lightened and we knew we were all out of the woods.

Yesterday afternoon, a week after birth, Hailey received her last antibiotic dose,
after which the needle was removed.

It was their first time to carry Hailey around freely without tubes attached!
(image by Hermien)

Today, 8 days later, mama, papa and baby are home where they belong.
To all who knew and prayed, we have no words for expressing our gratitude...except THANK YOU.

And one of these days soon, Astrid and I will finally get to hold her in our own arms.
And when we do, you can be sure you will see the photos!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hailey Hermien Astrid Frieling

YES!  She has entered our world and we are two of the lucky grandmas.  Don't you love her middle names?!  Hermien is the other lucky g'ma, Eva's mother.

Parents:  Jeroen (Astrid's son) and Eva
(photo taken at 12:20 a.m. today by hospital staff)

Date of Birth:  12 September 2018 (yesterday)
Time of Birth:  11:00 p.m.
Weight:  3455 gm. (7.62 lbs.)
Height:  52 cm (20.47 in.)
Place of Birth:  Gorinchem, NL

It was a difficult birth for Eva, after 19 hours of labor.  Nor is she or baby "out of the woods." 
But our "thoughts and prayers" are with them both in this new Journey of Life and Love.
I'll keep you updated as I am able....

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Watercolor Sunday and Saturday's Color: August 2018

Having just arrived back from Merry England two days ago, I'm happy to do an easy post while settling back into some sense of "normalcy."  HA!

Here are my Watercolor Sunday posts on Facebook for August 2018:

August 5 (photo manipulation):
"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.
This makes it hard to plan the day."
--E.B. White

August 12 (photo manipulation):
"It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere."
--Anaïs Nin

"Happiness is an inside job." --William Arthur Ward

August 19 (photo manipulation):
"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you,
if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive."
--Eleonora Duse (Italian actress, 1858-1924)

August 26 (photo manipulation):
"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."
--Maya Angelou

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My Saturday's Color posts on Facebook for August 2018:

(finished on 1 July 2018, posted on FB 4 August 2018)
GREEN.  Europe is becoming parched because of the heat and not enough rain.
Farmers are going bankrupt.  Produce prices will soon rocket sky-high.
We need rain.  We need less heat.  We need GREEN.
(from my Mind Body Zen book)

[Addendum:  We are getting rain and less heat these days!  Things are greening up again.]

(finished on 26 June 2018, posted on FB 11 August 2018)
While in Atlanta this past May, I bought a Color by Pixel book that still intrigues me,
even though the jury is still out on it for me.

The challenge is to follow the guide because I don't have all the shades/nuances in pen colors.
(finished just before the Tour de France)

[Addendum:  The jury says NO to this book, even though I will still play around with it.]

(finished on 28 July 2018, posted on FB 18 August 2018)
How many times do I mention I "feel" I was a Native American in a past life!
Where those feelings come from I'm not sure, but it's deep in my core.
To be honest, I hold it with pride, carefully.
(from my Color Me Fearless book)

(finished on 28 June 2018, posted on FB 25 August 2018)
Just for the halibut, I bought gel pens while in America this past May and actually like them...
except for the fact the ink is gone almost before you use it, which is a deal-breaker for me.
But I still like the feel of using them.  We're never too old to try something new, of course.
(from my mini-mandala book)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now that we're back from our England trip, you know what I'll be working on!
Oh, and any day now our granddaughter will be born (due this past Monday)!