Author, Barbara Studham

Creator of memoir, fiction, and the children's picture book, Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Merry Christmas to all my readers, Barbara Studham.

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas tree painting by author, Barbara Studham. Barbara has written FASD memoirs, fiction, and children's FASD picture book. See all her work on AMAZON.,

Merry Christmas 2017 from author, Barbara Studham

Merry Christmas!

My blog will be on vacation over the Christmas holidays, but I hope you will visit this site for many more goodies in the new year. Speaking of goodies, there will be many this year who don’t have the means to purchase gifts, or who are estranged from family and friends, perhaps even suffering the loss of a loved one. Let’s keep those in mind as we indulge.

Merry Christmas, or, Happy Christmas?

Due to my merriment while some people suffer through Christmas, I wondered from where the phrase “Merry Christmas” originated. For me, the word merry conjures up visions of overworked, medieval folk with wide drunken grins, and red noses flaring, dancing arm-in-arm around the Christmas tree. Now that is MERRY!

After browsing the origin of Merry Christmas, I realized my merry-making medieval was not far off track. Rebecca Shinners, at this link, wrote in Country Living:

As December 25th approaches, we’ve found ourselves saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone from our grocery store cashier to our family members. But have you ever stopped to wonder where the phrase “Merry Christmas” comes from? In a world where it’s normal to say “Happy Easter” and “Happy Birthday,” the “merry” in “Merry Christmas” is unique.

The folks at Mental Floss recently pondered the same question and found that the answer goes back to the connotation of the two words. “Happy” is an emotional condition, while “merry” is a behavior. Furthermore, happy, which came from the word “hap,” meaning luck or chance implies good-fortune. Meanwhile, “merry” implies a more active showing of happiness—which you might think of as merry-making.

While both words have evolved and changed meaning over time (yes—people did once say “Happy Christmas”), people stopped using “merry” as its own individual word during the 18th and 19th centuries. It stuck around in common phrases like “the more, the merrier,” as well as in things like Christmas carols and stories, largely due to the influence of Charles Dickens. The Victorian Christmas went on to define many of today’s holiday customs.

Of course, “Happy Christmas” hasn’t faded completely—it’s still widely used in England. This is believed to be because “happy” took on a higher class connotation than “merry,” which was associated with the rowdiness of the lower classes. The royal family adopted “Happy Christmas” as their preferred greeting and others took note. Meanwhile, “Merry Christmas” took on sentimental meaning in the U.S. —even hearing “merry” on its own now makes us think of December 25th.

Have a Happy or Merry Christmas!


For the past twenty years, Barbara Studham parented four grandchildren, all diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her two memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, describe her challenges during their toddler years, and teens. She has also written fiction, including a six-book series titled, Under The Shanklin Sky; set in the seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. She is currently creating a children’s FASD picture book series titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series  titled The School Day.

All Barbara Studham’s books are available from your AMAZON.
Author blog:
FASD blog:
Amazon Author Page:

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Author, Barbara Studham: Memories of Steam Engines

Riding the steam train to Grandmother’s home.


Riding the Steam Train. Painting by Barbara Studham 2017.

Riding the Steam Train. Painting by Barbara Studham 2017

I was a shy child, preferring to stay in my room rather than venture outside for play.

“You are so quiet,” people would say as if it was a bad thing.

They failed to notice their annoying chatter blocked out the sweeter sounds of nature: raindrops falling, leaves rustling, birds chirping. Mother Nature, not people, stirred my senses. There was no sound more exciting, however, than the bellowing steam train as it pulled into the station to take me to my grandmother’s house.

As a fifties kid, I grew up in a home with no family car. A trip to grandma’s house, or anywhere, for that matter, meant a train ride. We would arrive at the station with enough time to spare for a cup of tea in the railway’s cafeteria. Dad called it weak, but it was hot, and sweet, and went down a treat. Sometimes, Mum would fork out for a biscuit. We would then wait on the platform for the train to arrive. Glancing at his watch, Dad would say, “Won’t be long, now.”

Anticipation increased as the minutes passed. I could hardly contain my excitement! Being taller than me, Dad would spot the train first, and shout There it is! See, in the distance! I would stare ahead along the winding track and watch the huge iron beast barrelling toward me, as an overhead intercom announced its arrival. My parents appeared indifferent to my standing too close to the edge, ready to jump aside as the engine pulled into the platform.

Sometimes, the noise was too loud for my young ears, and I feared I would faint clean away.  Steam enveloped me. The smell invaded my nostrils. Valves hissed as if impatient at having to stop again. Rumbling and clattering, the commotion lasted several minutes as the engine slowed. Carriages murmured loudly as they bumped and swayed to a halt. Several passengers would jump from the train before it fully stopped. “Idiots,” Mum would whisper. “One day, someone will fall!”

I’d climb into the carriage exhausted from the din, and sink into a padded bench seat. Within minutes, amid a loud whistle, a clatter and hiss, the engine would pull out from the station, and we would be on our way. What wonderful memories I have of my train rides to grandma’s house. 

Author, Barbara Studham: Memories of Steam Trains. Milly Mullan, the main character in my Under the Shanklin sky fiction series, also loved riding the steam train. Here, is part of the first chapter of book #1 Under the Shanklin sky, where she shares her memory.


Chapter 1

As a child of the fifties, Millicent Mullan treasured her summer holidays at the charming seaside town of Shanklin situated on the Isle of Wight. With anticipation soaring, at least two weeks before school ended for the summer, she would fetch her yellow, plastic bucket and spade stashed in the cupboard under the stairs, and chatter with excitement to school chums, friends, family, and anyone within earshot willing to listen. 

            “Soon I’ll be swimming! I do hope the weather is hot. You should feel the sand, it’s so smooth under your feet. And I often find shells. And the gulls scream so. We are staying two weeks in my favorite hotel. I wish we could stay longer. I never want to go home!” Rambling on, she’d twirl and whirl in her puffed-sleeved dress, until her mother would shout, “Shut up, Milly! You’re driving us nuts!”

            But, Mum understood her daughter’s delight, as she loved Shanklin too. Every winter Mr Mullan would reserve two rooms for their upcoming summer family vacation at the Shanklin Beach Hotel, one for himself and Mrs Mullan, and one for Milly. In those days, the furnishings were old and scratched and the beds lumpy. Each room had one basin with cold running water. To try their patience further, guests on the second floor shared a bathroom, but, overall, the Mullan family couldn’t care less, and simply agreed such outdated décor only added to the charm of their windswept surroundings.

            To Milly’s parents, Ron and Sandra, the most arduous part of their holiday was the daylong journey from their house to the hotel, especially if caught in a downpour. And, poor Mr Mullan had to bear those heavy, brown suitcases which a week ago he had laid out to air, before Mrs Mullan stuffed them with necessities. Huffing and puffing under their weight, he’d pray the handles would hold and not break as one had before, leaving him stumped as to how to get their things to the hotel. It had happened before boarding the ferry and they had no clue what to do, until several kind passengers offered them bags. The old, leather suitcase was abandoned and the bags filled, and Milly giggled and skipped behind her dad as he staggered along with one case and eight bags in hand.

            “Get out from under your dad’s feet,” Mum had chided with arms full of beach paraphernalia and her favorite deck chair.

            During Milly’s early years, they had no car so their journey would begin in the early morning on a bus from their home in Iver Village to Uxbridge, then a train from there to London with a switch at London’s Paddington Station to Southampton, for the ferry ride across the Channel to the Isle of Wight. There, another train would take them to Shanklin Station and finally they would splurge for a taxi to drive to Shanklin Beach Hotel. By the end of the journey Ron and Sandra would be exhausted and go to bed early that night, but Milly took it all in her stride especially loving the train ride from London to the south coast.

            Staring out the window and seeing what only children can, she’d delight in the beauty of the countryside and the speeding of the train past houses dotted along the way. The clammy smoke from the steam engine would fill her nostrils as it seeped into her carriage.

            “Close the window, Milly,” Mum would say. “The noise is too loud and it smells.”

            But if a passenger interrupted her delight—hello, little girl, are you enjoying the ride?—she’d get cross and frown at them rudely. Milly loved her vacations and all its intricacies and wanted no one to spoil it with mundane murmurings in her ear… ©BarbaraStudham

To read more, visit AMAZON 

Under the Shanklin sky

by Barbara Studham. 

Barbara Studham’s bio:

For the past twenty years, Barbara Studham parented four grandchildren, all diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her two memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, describe her challenges during their toddler years, and teens. She has also written fiction, including a six-book series titled, Under The Shanklin Sky; set in the seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. She is currently creating a children’s FASD picture book series. The first, titled The School Day, is now available.

All Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog:

FASD blog:

Amazon Author Page:

If you love steam engines, enjoy the following links.

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New cover for Under the Shanklin sky

A new cover for my English seaside adventure

Under the Shanklin sky!

When you visit my Amazon author page here,, you will discover my new front cover for my English seaside adventure titled Under the Shanklin sky. I painted the picture, applied the title and my author name, and uploaded it to Amazon to replace the original.

Here is the old cover and its replacement.

As of now, the new book cover is only available at AMAZON. Soon, the new cover will also be available for Under the Shanklin sky at other ebook distributors. But, don’t lament, the story under the two covers are the same so you won’t be missing out on any adventurous gems!

Book blurb. Meet Milly Mullan.

Milly Mullan is a retiree from London with delightful childhood memories of holidays spent at the scenic seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. As an adult, she intended to vacation there often, but with a successful career as an interior designer to oversee, and hubby being top chef at a popular up-scale London restaurant, holiday time was denied them. Not until retired, did Milly return to Shanklin, by which time Harry had died from health complications, and their daughter, Rosie, had grown up and married. Still, Milly has only one regret: losing touch with a young boy, Jonathan, she had met when only ten years of age during one of her childhood Shanklin vacations. Now retired, her hope to find him absorbed her thoughts until, one day, while tending her balcony flowers in her new Shanklin flat; she found a valuable silver fob watch in a flowerpot. Determined to find its owner, she set out on a search which brings her face-to-face with her lost love, but is it really Jonathan? To find out, join Milly—Under the Shanklin Sky.

Relax, kick your feet up, and enjoy

Under the Shanklin sky. Available from Amazon. $0.99 cents usd.

Purchase from the following link 





FASD: The Teen Years

1. Does TIME really HEAL?

I decided this week to offer my memoir Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years in print. Now available in ebook format, due to its popularity, print form would make it viable for libraries and book fairs. Wanting to be sure the manuscript is up to date, I clicked on the file to edit. Big mistake!

The adage Time Heals is a misnomer, a fake, a big fat lie! Time does not heal; at least, not in my case. When I read the first chapter, I thought my heart would break. Tears streamed down my face. Time heals—what a joke. 

Reading that chapter resurfaced memories from my years parenting grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The stress, the sadness, the worry; it all flooded back. Here is a peek into part of that chapter.

Chapter 1
My Eldest Grandson, Rocky,
Placement # 1

I am in line at the information desk of Hamilton Police Station. As I wait for my turn, I gaze through the heavy, glass double-doors. Rain pelts down. People hurriedly step over puddles to push their way inside. A woman shakes out her umbrella, careful to avoid those of us patiently waiting.

        With eyes on the entrance, I watch for my fourteen-year-old grandson, Rocky, to arrive with his Children’s Aid caseworker. Five minutes later, they step inside out of the rain. Rocky tosses raindrops from his blond, curly hair.

        Dread surges through me. He is about to face a grueling interview and I am uncertain how he will react. His worried gaze scans the lobby searching for me then brightens as he smiles my way. He knows I love him and will be there for him no matter the outcome.    

        Arrested for criminal activity the previous evening, Rocky was removed from our home and placed into the care of the Children’s Aid Society. Now, he is at the station to discover his fate. He and his worker join me in line until the information officer directs us to a specific department. A detective approaches and dismisses the CAS worker but instructs me to stay. She leads us to a small, brightly lit room where she explains our interview will be videotaped and everything we say recorded. I glance at Rocky and my heart pounds. His face is pale. I sense his nervousness.

        For the next hour, the detective addresses Rocky and the reason for his arrest. The facts that emerge sicken me until I feel I will pass out. My mind screams. “Get up and get out; don’t come back, don’t even look back. This is too much, even for you. After everything you have been through, you do not deserve this. Come back later, when he is an adult and you are no longer his guardian. Come back then and simply be Grandma.”

        I ignore my mind and stay. After all, everything once again depends on me. I’m broken, exhausted, and overwhelmed by the fourteen years I have spent raising him and three of his siblings, all challenged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I am in no shape to absorb this new catastrophe.

To read more about Rocky’s rocky road in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, visit this link

2. Another seascape!

I love painting seascapes. Having recently taken up painting, I work on my pictures daily. Painting reduces my stress and offers me a break from writing and promoting my books: memoir, fiction, and children’s picture books.

Following our weekly meet-ups for updates on the second in the children’s picture book series, titled, Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, illustrator, Heather Lamb kindly gave me tips on painting. I learned how to hold a brush for optimum detailing, to paint with tools other than brushes, and the importance of shading and highlighting.

Painting a Seascape with Acrylics.

Once a week for four weeks, Heather oversaw my seascape painting. It is now complete and added to my collection of beginner’s works. The reason I am posting the sequence of pictures here, is not because I see the final as a masterpiece (far from it), but to encourage readers to indulge in a new interest. Being a senior, I am constantly on the lookout for new projects, and love this one. Thanks, Heather!

During our London, England, trip in 2018, my son and I are planning to visit the National Art Gallery. It won’t be the first time for me as I was born in England and lived there until the age of 26. A few years before immigrating to Canada, I visited the National Gallery, and want my son to share the experience. If ever you get the opportunity to visit London, don’t miss the Gallery. The masterpieces are breathtaking. I can guarantee, you will leave the building a new person.

If you are looking for a relaxing experience, why not join me on my Amazon Author Page at the following link. There you will see my FASD memoirs, my fiction books including Under The Shanklin Sky English seaside series, and my children’s FASD picture book titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The School Day.


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Children’s Picture Book Illustrator

Strawberry & Cracker, Book 2

Heather Lamb, illustrator of the children’s books Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is seen here sketching the pictures for book #2 titled FIDGET!

It was my recent pleasure to visit Heather Lamb at work. Together, we share a vision of creating picture books specifically designed for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Hence, the recent release of the first in the Strawberry & Cracker series titled The School Day.

Heather Lamb, children’s picture book illustrator.

As author of the books, I am amazed how seamlessly Heather transforms my rough mock-ups into works of art. Her pictures capture the essence of children with FASD and the challenges they face on a daily basis. She is currently working on the second in the Strawberry & Cracker series titled FIDGET! The story and pictures emphasize hyperactivity in children with FASD, situations that cause fidgeting, and how people can offer support. The following is a blurb outlining FIDGET! 

Book Blurb

The two main characters in the book titled FIDGET! are Strawberry & Cracker, twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The twins live with their grandma and her dog, Thunder. The twins also struggle with fidgeting. All children fidget, but a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome frequently over-fidgets, thereby annoying people who do not understand impulsive behaviors. Fortunately, there are strategies to calm the child enough to control fidgeting.

The storyline of FIDGET! introduces the reader to Strawberry & Cracker’s typical fidgeting scenarios. While no one strategy to avoid fidgeting will work for every child, Grandma realizes the importance of discovering which ones work for the twins. By discussing those strategies with other adults, she hopes people will apply the calming methods and lessen the stress of fidgeting.

As with the first in the series titled The School Day, FIDGET! is designed to fulfill several needs:

  • To offer children with FASD a fun picture book highlighting daily challenges they can relate to.
  • To help children with FASD accept their diagnosis with dignity and self-respect.
  • To encourage children with FASD to read.
  • To offer caregivers a tool with which to introduce their child with FASD to the disorder.
  • To bring public awareness to FASD.

Where to purchase.

Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The School Day

is available in print and eBook from Amazon, and from the following link

Genre: Family and relationships/special needs children. Glossy front and back cover. The picture book includes twenty-six inside pages with color images and large print. Size: 8.5” x 8.5”.

Price: $9.99 USD for print. $4.99 USD for eBook.

Coming in 2018!

The second children’s picture book in the

Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, series,














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Painting a Seascape

My first assignment!

Painting a Seascape

Painting a Seascape

Painting a Seascape

Talk about throwing me in the deep end (pardon the deliberate pun!). Despite my mistake by registering for the wrong class, I was able to go back and register for the beginners’ class. As I enjoyed the intermediate session where I picked up painting tips, and met new people, which is always fun, I decided to enroll in both intermediate and beginners. So, for the next few weeks I will have my hands full. From my attempts so far, I need a lot of help with shading. It seems to be my worst point. “Practice, practice, practice,” advised the art teacher.

Describing a Seascape

It’s the same with writing. Wanting to describe the seascape and doing it well are two different things. It takes lots of practice to make the reader believe he/she is there on the beach. Like painting, writing is a work in progress. No author wants their writing career to be judged on their first attempt, any more than an artist wants their first picture to represent their absolute potential. That’s the wonderful thing about practice, it improves our work.

Barbara Studham's ebooks

Barbara Studham’s ebooks

All my books are available at your Amazon store, the following links,

and at many other ebook distributors.


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Learn To Draw

It’s time I learn how to draw!

Learn to Draw

Learn to Draw

Learn to Draw: In the meantime, why not check out my ebook, Not My Type. Contrary to its title, it is not a romance, well, not in the fullest sense of the word, but, rather, a story about a non-fiction writer who craves the fame of her best-seller, fiction-writing, mother.

Not My Type

Not My Type

Not My Type offers a whimsical glimpse into how fictional characters invade an author’s mind: often to the detriment of their story. Lisa Paige is a respected non-fiction writer who envies the accolades bestowed upon her fiction-writing mother, Madge Paige. So much so that, while desperately trying her hand at fiction, Lisa begins to hallucinate, causing fictional characters to come to life and visit her home. Frantically offering her bribes in return for inclusion in her book, the characters insist her refusal would result in their deletion within the fictional world. As characters compete for billing, murder and mayhem ensues, as each are in conflict and equally determined to be forefront in Lisa’s novel. However, is there an alternate motive for their brawling? Does Lisa complete her work of fiction and find the fame she so desperately yearns? In Not My Type, discover how fictional characters’ skirmishes ultimately affect Lisa’s future.

Not My Type

Not My Type is available for only .99 cents (usd), from your Amazon ebook store,

the following links, and from most ebook distributors.