Author, Barbara Studham

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

Painting of Thumper by author Barbara Studham.

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New Post: Sooty, my pet rabbit, by Barbara Studham

Two rabbits, sixty-years apart!

Painting of Thumper by author Barbara Studham.

Painting of Thumper copyright Barbara Studham

I recently painted a picture of my granddaughter’s pet rabbit named Thumper. When I showed the draft to my friend, her comment stopped me in my tracks. “Does the bunny remind you of Sooty?”

Sooty was a pet rabbit I owned at around the age of ten. I wrote a vignette on that experience when I attended a memoir writing class, and eventually included the segment in my memoir Two Decades of Diapers describing the twenty years I parented grandkids with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Upon reading the vignette to the members of the memoir class, I was embarrassed by their silence which I mistakenly took for disinterest. However, I quickly discovered their hush was due to shock over the gory details of my anecdote. Following, is that vignette taken from my memoir Two Decades of Diapers available from AMAZON.

Sooty, my pet rabbit, by Barbara Studham

The following vignette was originally printed in the copyrighted memoir Two Decades of Diapers,

by Barbara Studham. Available from AMAZON.

As a kid, I was not keen on schedules, but every Saturday would see me up and out by 7:00 am, cycling like crazy to the local farm to purchase fresh straw for my rabbit.

 “Bring a bigger bag next time,” the farmer would urge while watching me stuff handfuls into my school satchel.

“I will,” I always promised then, throwing the bag over my shoulder, I would cycle as recklessly home, run to the back yard, and unload the straw.

“Look, Sooty, this is for you,” I would squeal as he nervously backed away.

Sooty had belonged to a neighbor who no longer wanted the bother of his upkeep. “He comes with a hutch,” she had explained to my mother, who sighed and shook her head.

“No thanks, Mrs Pond. I don’t need a rabbit,” Mom had muttered then, nodding toward me, added, “I have enough trouble with this one.”

“But, Mom, he’s so beautiful!” I gasped. “Please can we have him, Mom? I promise to look after him!”

After several hours of my pleading and empty promises, Mom finally relented and so I raced to my back yard where my neighbor was working in her yard.

“Mrs. Pond! Mrs. Pond!” I yelled over the fence, “Mom said—yes—I can have the rabbit!”

Her smile widened. “Here you go then.” She picked Sooty up in his cage and handed it to me. “I’ve got a sack of straw in the garage. I’ll get it for you.”

As she passed the hutch over the fence and into my eager hands, I thought I would burst with excitement. I looked around for the perfect place to display him, like an award I had received for reaching the age of ten and therefore deserving of a rabbit. But, as I scanned the yard, I heard the living room window open and my Mom yell.

“He’s your responsibility, now!”

“I know Mom,” I called, having no idea what responsibility meant.

For the next year or so, I groomed and petted Sooty, changed his straw, and with every opportunity showed him off to the neighborhood kids. They envied my having a rabbit with soft, shiny black fur, a bobbing tail, and sharp appealing eyes. I delighted in their arguing over who would hold him next, feeling much older than my years as I made them line up to take a turn. I truly loved Sooty and knew he loved me.

Then, one Saturday, my uncle came to visit. When he arrived, I was in the garden cleaning Sooty’s hutch, and feeding him fresh lettuce leaves I had stolen from my Dad’s garden. I noticed my mom standing a way off watching me. She had recently complained over the cost of Sooty’s upkeep so I intuitively sensed danger, but was surprised when she calmly turned and walked back inside the house. When convinced Sooty was clean and fed, I gave him one last kiss, locked his cage, and headed off to play.

“Be back at one for lunch,” my Mother shrieked from the kitchen window.

“I will Mom!” I yelled back, running as fast as my legs would take me to avoid being grabbed by the long-legged spiders inhabiting the high, green, privet hedge that surrounded our house. “I promise!”

So, at one o’clock I was back home, sitting at the table, innocently swinging my legs waiting for lunch to be served, but noticed the table was only set for one. Hearing my mother, sister, and uncle in the kitchen whispering and giggling, I called, “Isn’t anyone else having lunch?”

“Nope, only you,” called Mom, bringing in a large bowl of steaming stew and setting it down before me. “Eat up while it’s hot.”

After my busy morning, I was hungry and so tucked into the stew but, after a spoonful, muttered, “It tastes funny.” I glanced at my mom and uncle who were standing in the kitchen doorway smirking. I sensed something was up, but I was too afraid of my mom to refuse to finish my meal, so downed the whole bowl, and then ran back outside to play.

Later that evening when my uncle had left and I lay on my bed exhausted from play, my sister came to my room. “I have a secret to tell you,” she murmured enticingly, and leaned in. She whispered in my ear.

Startled by her words I jumped up, raced downstairs, and out to my rabbit’s hutch, but Sooty was gone.

“Sooty, where are you?” I cried. I frantically searched the garden, all the time calling his name. “Sooty, Sooty, where are you?” But, there was not a murmur, nor a squeak. I ran back inside.

“Mom! Mom! Do you know where Sooty is?” I cried, hoping my sister’s revelation was a lie.

But, when I saw my Mom’s expression, I knew it was true. Mom had asked my uncle to kill Sooty, skin him, and prepare him for the stew.

My heart died. “Mom, where is Sooty?” I whispered.

Staring defiantly, she smirked, “In your stomach.”


Sooty’s demise was traumatizing. More so were the twenty years I devoted to parenting four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Two Decades of Diapers, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, describe those years. Available from AMAZON, my memoirs are essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about the disorder.

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 Strawberry  & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series titled The School Day.

Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog:

FASD blog:

Amazon Author Page:




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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eBook: Strawberry and Cracker, Twins with FAS

eBook Now Available!

In a few weeks, I will be celebrating my 70th birthday. Wow, I never expected to make it this far, but now I have, I am finding it fun. When I was in my thirties, I believed my becoming old would mean ill-health, dentures, wrinkles, and crepey thighs. Okay, so the thighs are a bit on the crepey side, but apart from that I look fine. And, who cares about old-lady looks anyway? What I am excited about is the recent launch of my children’s picture book. Already available in print, it is now a downloadable eBook on Amazon. Who knew retirement could be so busy?

Children's Picture Book

Children’s Picture Book


Strawberry & Cracker: Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is now available in both print and ebook from Amazon. Category: Family & Relationships/Children with special needs. Printed version priced at $9.99 (usd). Ebook $4.99 (usd).


Meet Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)! With over twenty years of experience parenting four grandchildren with FAS, I have created the children’s picture book through my perception of the disorder. Illustrated in the first of the Strawberry & Cracker series titled, The School Day, is the twins’ use of visual aids, the necessity to attend a special needs class, and living with a caregiver other than a biological parent. Initially featuring Strawberry and Cracker’s strengths, the story subsequently introduces the reader to a typical school day in the life of a child with FAS, and the supports required for a successful outcome. Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the picture book series, is designed to be enjoyed by children with FAS, for caregivers with a desire to introduce their children to FAS, and for the public to learn about the challenges associated with the disorder.


It is difficult to judge a book by its cover, so visit this link to take a peek at the story and Heather Lamb’s, fabulous illustrations. Without a doubt Heather has captured the essence of FAS in her paintings, and done the book proud. 




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Author on FASD

September 9th 2017 is International FASD Day.

Meet Strawberry and Cracker, twins on a mission to help spread the word on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). At present, the twins are staying tight-lipped about how they intend to educate the world on FAS, but rest assured, they know all the ordeals and struggles that kids with FAS face each day of their lives.

Intrigued? Would you like to know more about Strawberry and Cracker’s mission?

Stay tuned to, and,

 September 9th 2017, all will be revealed.

Twins, Strawberry & Cracker

Twins, Strawberry & Cracker

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on young and teenage lives, visit this link:

There, check out my two ebook memoirs on FASD: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years. Both describe the emotional side of how I became a grandmother raising grandchildren with FAS, and the heartbreak of having our family unit wrenched apart by the effects of the disorder. My memoirs are also available at most other ebook distributors. 

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FASD Memoirs

And now for something completely different!

All ebooks .99 cents (usd)

All ebooks .99 cents (usd)

I love to write fiction. It is fulfilling, fun, and frivolous, but I’m not all head-in-the-clouds. I do have a serious side.


FASD Memoirs. Take for example, the twenty years I spent raising grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). While fulfilling, and sometimes fun, it was far from frivolous, which you will discover if you read my two memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years.


FASD Memoirs. Two Decades of Diapers describes the emotional turmoil associated with teen pregnancy, how I became a grandmother raising grandchildren, and the challenges FAS brought into our lives. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years offers insight into the struggles my grandchildren and I experienced while living with FAS throughout their teen years.

FASD Memoirs. Both memoirs are available in ebook format for only .99 cents (usd), and, given the generous amount of sales on Amazon, I am delighted readers are either learning about FAS for the first time, or are involved with FAS and relating to my experiences in some way.

FASD Memoirs. Also, follow my blog,, to read of the issues and effects associated with FAS: a severe mental illness so easily prevented through the abstinence of alcohol by both parents during conception and pregnancy. For quick reference, you can check the sidebar of this blog for a peek at my FASD posts.

All my books, including my two FASD memoirs, are available at Amazon,
most ebook distributors, and the following links.