A Lot Can Happen In Five Years

Wedding Day - John Winchurch & Elizabeth HarperThis photograph was taken a few minutes before John and I married five years ago today and despite all that is happening in the background, it remains one of my favorites.

I use to moan about the car, and the way our family and friends are all doing their own thing in the background, particularly the two people right behind us. I even tried to edit the couple out with Photoshop, but it never looked right.

John hates feeling like he’s the center of attention so when he asked that we forgo a professional photographer, I agreed thinking if we had one decent photo of the day that would be enough for me.

I figured if a handful of folks were equipped with a camera we would surely have a few we would like from the collected effort. I wrote about the outcome of that decision in a post titled, Everyone’s a Wedding Photographer and there are loads of images there if you’d like to see more of our day.

Because I know how much a professional photographer can add to your wedding day memories, the photographer in me has been a bit wistful occasionally when looking back at the images we have especially the one above, but five years on I can see it from a different perspective and I don’t mind the activity in the background so much.

A lot can happen in five years and some of the people in the photo are no longer in our lives.

The couple that I tried to edit our photo who on that day seemed destined for a little wedding day happiness of their own, they got engaged a few years later, but decided to go separate ways a few months before their wedding.

The woman in purple with the white hair was our friend MIJ.  She died a year after this picture was taken from a reoccurrence of breast cancer after having been in remission for 20 years. She had no idea she was even ill until a few months before she died. I wrote about her several times in The Last Walk – Measured Steps, and Memories and Music in a Full House.

I’ve written a great many posts about John’s granddaughter always masking her identity with the name, Jersey Girl.  She’s the little four – year old girl you can see in the arms of John’s eldest daughter. JG has a little sister now who will be three not long before JG turns ten. Some of my favorite posts have involved fun times with Jersey Girl so click here to see a list of some you might enjoy.

I told John today that nothing has ever seemed as easy as the decision I made to marry him and while not all of the 620 posts at GOTJ are about us, there are more than a few that show why it was the right one.

Creativity And Children – My New Name

Renaming Elizabeth Harper

I’ve had more than a few nicknames in my 52 years as many seem to find Elizabeth too much of a mouthful, but I recently gained a new name that makes me smile every time I hear it. When Jersey Girl was here a few weeks ago, we had a memorable conversation over ice cream while John went to get the car.

It was at the end of a long and lovely coast path walk that took us into the village of Polzeath where JG and I were content to people watch and eat ice cream while waiting for John. We were sitting on a wall near the beach watching a steady steam of people passing by and after a while Jersey Girl looked up at me with a mix of shy sweetness and said,  ” Do you think people think you’re my mummy? ”  I laughed at this, gave her a playful squeeze and said, ” Not hardly given my wrinkles and grey hair! “

JG kindly responded that I didn’t have many wrinkles and only a bit of grey hair. I told her that was sweet, but I really was too old to be the mother of someone her age. Then I thought about it for a second and said that there were some women who had babies into their mid-forties so it was possible for a woman my age to have eight year old child. I added that I didn’t know how older moms did it as I wasn’t sure I could balance work and young children at my age.

We left it at that and I had no idea she was still thinking about it until later. John said she often does this with him after they’ve talked about a topic. He’ll think they’re finished with the subject, but she’ll still be mulling it over and will come back to him later with a new ideas or more questions. She’s very sharp about a great many things and it is interesting to see how her young mind works.

I was surprised to see this in action later as we came back our beachside conversation while having dinner. Somewhere between the main meal and dessert she announced that I wasn’t really old enough to be her granny (like her two grandmothers, Granny A. and Granny R.) and I wasn’t young enough really to be her mummy, but as I was married to her grandpa, she would call me Granumy.

She has very proper British pronunciation which makes Granumy sound like Gran-ah-me. It has a fairly musical sound to me and I liked it immediately. While I’m not a granny, grandmother, or  grandmom by a blood tie, it’s sweet that she has worked out a special name for me on her own and I’m very pleased to be JG’s Granumy.

Perhaps the larger gift in her creative combination will be a reminder that everything doesn’t have to be one or the other, and how  sometimes a clever mix of what we know may lead to something entirely new and unique.

Low Lying Stakes On A High Water Wellie Day

You may have heard that 2012 has been the wettest summer in Briton in 100 years and I’ll admit that all this rain has had an effect on our normal outside activities. That said, I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my party plan when Jersey Girl came to visit. When she was with us two years ago we had a Pirate Party for her down by the river just off the Camel Trail and invited the children of some of our friends who live in and around the village.

She still remembers that day even though she was six at the time. When she asked John if we were going to have another one just before he brought her back from Jersey to stay with us last week, I wasn’t sure I could create a memory as nice as the one in 2010. Given how wet things were and the tight schedule we had between my work and the availability of the children we wanted to invite, we had a few hurdles to get over. The main one was the weather and we decided that rain or shine we were going to DIG!

Some of you had a chance to try to guess what the stakes were for when I posted this photo in an update on Facebook. Sorry to make you wait for it, but this year I decided to give the kids experience of archeological dig even though the items waiting to be discovered be planted by me.

So I dressed for nasty weather and went out about an hour before the party was to start to stake and tie out an area for the dig. I left the string loose to avoid young feet getting tangled in the barriers and then I dug down a bit to bury the objects. It was raining so hard that the raindrops quickly made the earth look pretty natural and undisturbed.

I wanted to get the best shot I could of the area before the children came to dig it all up so I climbed the closest tree to snap a few photos. l intended to just take the one you see below, but liked the look between the limbs of the tree I was standing in and wanted to share it with you too as well.

Two of the children who came to the Pirate Party had family in from America and couldn’t join us, but Jersey Girl was happy to see Archie even though his younger brother decided to stay home and dry. My friend Tina’s twins, Maisie and Ella came, but we miscommunicated on our location and they didn’t have as much left to dig up once they realized where we were.

Archie is holding a brass bracelet, one of four that I buried ahead of time. I tried to talk them through why one might participate in a real archeological dig, but it was a bit tough to have many teaching moments with the rain pelting down. They had a good time digging up pottery pieces, old miniature bottles, and jewelry and seemed to have as much fun rinsing their finds in the river as they did discovering them.

In all the drama of digging in a downpour something I told them we would not have done if it had been a real dig, I forgot that I buried one more thing. I remembered it later that day when it was dark and we were tucked in for the night and I wondered if the river might have washed it away. I’ll share more about that in my next post.

Here you can see Tina and John standing on the bank watching as Ella and Maisie make their way down the slippery bank. We went back to Lara and Brian’s (Archie’s parents) house to dry off and eat the snacks that Jersey Girl and I had made hoping to eat them at the picnic tables near the river. Big thanks to them both for opening their home to a wet and slightly muddy group despite having had a good rinse in the river.

Once we had rested and eaten a bit of the white chocolate tea cakes and Coco Pops ‘Krispie ‘Treats, the children put on a show in the living room that made me think that perhaps they might have had a bit too much sugar for a rainy afternoon.

 

After watching the wall climbing and flips off and on to the sofa, I decided that the fossil painting I’d intended as a final activity intended to slow the energy level down was one the children could do at a later time. JG chose one of the fossils we’d made the day before and we left the rest to be divided between the remaining four children.

I may need some ideas for next year’s party when Jersey Girl comes back to Cornwall and I’d be happy to know what you may have done in the past to create fun and memorable moments for your children or others you know.

A Little Night Music -The NoFit State Circus Brings BIANCO To Cornwall

Some of you may remember Jersey Girl from earlier posts. She is John’s eight year-old granddaughter who lives on the Channel Island of Jersey. Two years ago she came to visit and we had loads of fun during the week she was with us and I shared some of our experiences around Cornwall in a few posts that you can find by following my link for Jersey Girl.

She arrived last Thursday and by Friday we were at Eden Project with our necks craned back as we spent the evening looking up watching the NoFit State Circus perform their new show, BIANCO. It was a an enjoyable evening, but not one we would likely take a child to again. Jersey Girl was put off by the lack of seats which required standing and moving about for the entire show. Additionally, I think using the word circus to a child brings to mind a show with animals where as this one had no animals and seemed modeled after the Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen over the years.

We got a quick peak at the venue before being allowed to enter and I wondered how it might all work with what looked like only a small amount of equipment.

I was a bit disappointed to learn that no photography, not even flashless would be allowed during the show. The man with the dreads in the center in the pinky-red vest was one of only two photographers allowed to shoot during the performance so I had to settle for a shot of him. I wonder how long it took his hair to grow down to the back of his knees.

Here comes Jersey Girl with her Bapa.

Time for a quick intermission.

During the break we found a place to sit and JG and I had an ice cream.

One of us likes to break a few rules and imagine my surprise when I glanced back near the wall to see John sitting on the floor snapping contraband photos inside the venue after the intermission.

You can see what John was trying to get a shot of if you look in the middle of the photo. I’m in the orange jacket with JG next to me. Up in the right corner you can see my favorite part of the evening. The musicians were the best and I loved it when at one point all four band members were beating on a variety of drums at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squeezing The Jersey Girls

Remember last summer when I was trapped in the US and moaning about all the excitement I was missing with John … I wanted in particular to get my hands on the little darling in the picture above. That finally happened when we went away last week.

We left for Jersey on Monday crossing the English Channel by ferry arriving just in time to keep me from realizing the full effect of a rainy day at sea. I was a bit green when we arrived, but managed to maintain better control over my breakfast than some of the other passengers. John has a cast-iron tummy and ate a prawn sandwich with no problem at all while I counted the minutes to when I could get back on dry land.

The highlight of our five days away was seeing ‘the girls.’ It was the first time I had been to John’s youngest daughter’s new home and over a year since I’d been able to give his eldest granddaughter, Jersey Girl, a big squeeze.

 It was tough to get all three looking at the camera at the same time, but here’s one I managed with John’s new camera.

Some things you never forget such as how to feed a baby, but I didn’t remember how they’re likely to blow bits of whatever they’re eating back at you with every cough, sneeze, or head shake. By the end of her meal, I looked as if I needed to be wearing a bib too.

No one makes JBG giggle like her big sister and they had a splash-a-thon later in the bath of epic proportions. JBG was splashing like she was kin to Shamu at SeaWorld and I got soaked! That’s Clive, he’s JBG’s other grandpa and John is in the background wearing Jane’s fox collar. Jane is JBG’s other grandmother. John was pretending to be a lion a few minutes before I took this photo. There were some others with the fur that I snapped and then forgot about where he was making a series of funny faces. When I asked him why he had such odd expressions on his face, he said, ‘ I was growling!’

I’m not sure what kind of lion he was supposed to be here, but I did ask him to strike a pose.

John and I managed to have a few adventures on our own minus the children which I’ll share over the next few days. I’ll leave you with this rainy day shot of Jersey for now … and hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Jersey Baby Girl Comes Home

Okay, so I’m not being very original with my blog name for the newest member of the family, but I thought Jersey Baby Girl would work for a while. I intend to refer to her most often as JBG for short and will likely shorten Jersey Girl’s name to JG. I hope it doesn’t get too complicated.

My friend Patrice and I were talking about this last night and how some people go their whole lives being called by a nickname. She said she grew up with a much older cousin who everyone always called Baby Sister and to this day she’s not sure what her cousin’s name really was on her birth certificate.

John’s been having all the fun (I’m so jealous) and doing a great job of taking care of Jersey Girl while her mother and baby sister were in the hospital. They both came home a few days ago and I wanted to share some of the sweet pictures John and others have taken that show what I’ve been missing.

Mom shares a moment with her Jersey Girls

I wonder what he’s thinking here …

John with both of his granddaughters.

That baby looks hungry to me.

Jersey Girl gives Boris the Bear a peek at her baby sister. The crates you see behind JBG’s head are there because they moved into their new home by the sea just before she was born.

Mom out walking with her girls.

JG clowning for the camera in a hat and shirt that John and I gave her two years ago for her birthday. She finally grew into them. My daughter Miranda would tell you that I always bought her clothes about two sizes too big when she was a little girl too. John said she came downstairs wearing the hat and shirt and announced that these were things we had given her for her fifth birthday.


I just hate missing these sweet moments. John’s been sending loads of pictures which help, but I wish I could have been there too.

John with his youngest daughter Rachel and her new little JBG.

And Then There Were Two …

“Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

There was a happy cause for celebration last Friday when John’s youngest daughter safely delivered a new little Jersey girl. I mention safely, as she was considered high risk and in the end had to have a Caesarean section several weeks before she was due. Both mother and child are doing well although they are still in the hospital.

This is John’s second grandchild and I am sure I’m going to love spoiling her just as much as the original Jersey Girl. As JG’s seventh birthday approaches it will be interesting to see her navigate the change involved in going from an only child to an older sister. Being the eldest of four girls, I may be a resource for her ‘older sister’ questions as well as retaining my role as the ‘chief fun planner’ of future stays at Bapa’s & E’s house in Cornwall.

I only have the one photo, but I’ll pop in more when I receive them. I’m struggling a bit with what to call this new little one when I write about her here. It may get a bit complicated … any suggestions for what to call the youngest Jersey girl?