GHOST HUNTING & SPOOKY STORY TELLING

IMG_8625.JPGWe headed to the woods for some spooky fun, we had our own ghost hunt after I had pre placed some paper cut out ghosts in the trees. We visited the library and chose some books, took our pop up tent & feasted on some yummies whilst reading our stories by torchlight. Once we had finished I managed to scare the hell out of the kids on the way home, I disappeared into the bushes after telling them a spooky story of someone who had died at the rope swing oak tree, I emerged from the bushes a few minutes later screaming at them to RUN! Sure enough they ran all the way home leaving me behind. We had great fun although I did scare myself….

Here’s how we got on…

I headed out before dark and pinned paper ghosts to the trees..

IMG_8617.JPGI put them high & low..

IMG_8618.JPGonce it was dark we headed to the woods with our torches, a pop up tent & some spooky books..

IMG_8619.JPGwe played silly beggars with our torches..

IMG_8620.JPGthe kids used their torches to search for the ghosts and were rewarded with spooky goody bags once all the ghosts in the woods had been banished..

IMG_8621.JPGwe then set our tent so we could read spooky stories we had got from the library..

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I stood outside the tent rustling the trees as they sat in the tent :-)

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The kids had a spooktacular!!

FROZEN ADVENTURE, SEARCHING FOR ROCK TROLLS ON THE TORRENT WALK

You gotta love Frozen! Full of magic & enchantment & a lovely film, the kids would watch it on a loop if they could.. But what if you could recreate that magic in the real world?
That’s exactly what we did!!
We found the ideal place in Snowdonia national park for an enchanting walk to the valley of the living rocks on an adventure in search of rock trolls….

Our walk took place at a place called ‘Torrent walk’ in a fantastic valley carved out by the ice age, with rock trolls galore…
Our walk was approx 2.5 miles / 4km
and took us a leisurely 1.5 hours, the path was unsuitable for pushchairs/wheelchairs and quite steep in places and could get quite muddy in wet weather.
Start / Finish: A lay-by near the village of Brithdir on the B4416 (SH 761 182)
Relevant Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL 23 (Cadair Idris and Llyn Tegid)
From Dolgellau, follow the A470 southbound. After around two miles, turn left towards Brithdir (B4416) and over a small bridge (Pont ar Ddibyn). In around 200m you will come to a lay-by on the left with a waymarker marking the path, this is where we started and finished our walk.

Here’s how our magical real life Frozen adventure went…

IMG_8530.JPGwe started in the lay by heading down into the trees following the arrows towards the valley…

IMG_8528.JPGit wasn’t long before we started spotting signs of rock trolls..

IMG_8529.JPGwe took time to explore in the trees and sat quietly to watch for any rock movements..

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IMG_8526.JPGthe trees got taller as we headed down into the valley and the abundance of rocks grew…we sang Frozen songs along the way…

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IMG_8521.JPGthere was lots of evidence of fairies too..

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IMG_8519.JPGwe walked following the path stopping to inspect rocks as we went until we came to an old mill at the bottom of the valley, here we walked over a small bridge to cross the river before heading back up the valley along the other side of the river….here our adventure really started to come to life…

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IMG_8516.JPGwe headed through the gateway entrance to the valley of the living rocks…

IMG_8515.JPGwe were greeted by a magical world of rock trolls nestled along the banks of the river..

IMG_8514.JPGand we made ourselves at home dancing and singing and stopping as we walked along to quickly look back for movements…

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IMG_8512.JPGIT WAS MAGICAL!

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We stayed a while before saying goodbye to our new friends ;-)

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We followed the magical path of our make believe Frozen set back to the car with a promise to return on a proper frozen & snowy winters day :-)

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SEARCHING FOR MERMAID JEWELS

We headed to the beach for a magical adventure searching for lost mermaid jewels..
Before we went I had been given some decorative plastic diamonds which can be bought in home ware stores or eBay. I placed them secretively in rock pools & wrote a message on a rock for the kids to find…

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I wrote a message on a rock when the kids weren’t looking to install a magical element of mermaids…

IMG_8457.JPGThe kids then scoured through rock pools..

IMG_8461.JPGand then the first jewel was found..

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IMG_8460.JPGfollowed by the discovery of a mermaid sponge made out of rock..

IMG_8456.JPGthey looked to the sea in the hope of a glimpse of mermaids playing in the waves and we’re sure we saw the tail of one disappearing beneath the rolling waves!

IMG_8454.JPGNoah even spent some time calling out to them..

IMG_8453.JPGthen we found some more! 5 altogether!!

IMG_8459.JPGour loot bag was full of shells, pebbles, driftwood & diamonds!

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And then the most amazing and unbelievable thing happened which threw me….one of the children came to me with a jewel they had found but this time it was not a jewel I had secretly dropped!! On the vast stretch of beach whilst searching for mermaid jewels the children had ironically and crazily stumbled upon a diamond amongst the rocks that I definitely had not placed!! A million to one chance finding of a truly magical gem :-)
(Not sure if it’s real but the magic most certainly is & maybe it’s just a case of believing!)

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THE MAGICAL MAKE BELIEVE SPIRIT OF CHILDHOOD

Make childhood magical with a few of our simple tips, a bit of fairy dust, ample imagination & good old slight of hand!!
Here’s some of our favourite..
1..PAN FOR GOLD

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2.SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE OF FAIRIES..

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3.CATCH A FALLING STAR..

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4.FIND PEARLS…

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5.DISCOVER ANCIENT GOLD COINS

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6.FIND A SHARKS TOOTH!

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7.STUMBLE UPON DRAGON EGGS!!

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8.DISCOVER PRECIOUS GEMSTONES..

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9.FIND SOME REAL FAIRY DUST!

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10.FIND A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE..

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11.SEARCH FOR SHED FAIRY WINGS..

IMG_8434.JPG12.FOLLOW A TREASURE MAP..

IMG_8441.JPG13.FIND AN OLD MAGICAL KEY..

IMG_8439.JPG14.DISCOVER A PIRATES TREASURE CHEST..

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The possibilities are endless…a little imagination goes a long way & make believe lasts a lifetime…

GRUESOME HALLOWEEN LUCKY DIP

IMG_8332.JPGwe made a gruesome Halloween terror bear lucky dip…
Here’s what we did…

I bought a jar of value pickled onions to use as eyeballs

IMG_8333.JPGI then used a permanent marker pen to turn them into eyes..

IMG_8334.JPGI used a container which I filled with water and cooked spaghetti and I popped in the eyeballs..

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IMG_8336.JPGI then found an old teddy bear which I cut a hole in the bottom and removed some of his stuffing from his belly and head..

IMG_8337.JPGI then slipped the bear over the jar and made a hole in his head..

IMG_8338.JPGI cut the hole in the head so head so the kids could slip their hands in to dig around in the innards to find the eyeballs..

IMG_8339.JPGfinally I added ketchup for effect.
And then we dipped for eyeballs…

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The daughter that’s nestled in our hearts.

October is pregnancy and infant loss month.
We’re not shy about awareness here and our hearts are often open to the reality of life, regardless as to what it may bring.
I wanted to write about Holly, the quietest member of our family who was born to give us an appreciation of the rain and an ability to see sunshine through the storms. She sure did rock our world and nestled in our hearts to be remembered forever in every delicate, fragile & beautiful detail.
I’ve thought long and hard about this post, about the realities of what we faced and the incomprehensible most ultimate decision that we’ve ever made, and hopefully will ever have to make as parents.
Our daughter entered the world on the very same day she left it…

Silently.

Holly was our 5th child. Planned for and very much wanted. My pregnancy was no different to any other, I had sickness, I craved, I bloomed….I marvelled every single day at the evident life growing in my belly.
Our 12 week scan came and bought with it relief and an added wonder of the additional life that was going to be joining our family. We told everybody and embraced what was to come and looked forward to our anomaly/gender scan a few weeks before Christmas. Having 2 boys and two girls already we’d decided to find out the sex and really involved the kids every step of the way during the miracle of making a life, we built excitement everyday and hid nothing from them, they saw the ups and equally the downs of pregnancy, everything that Mother Nature provided us with we shared with them.

We all watched as my belly grew, we poked & prodded, talked to and sang. We made plans, bought clothes, teddies…. Like all other pregnancies it was a beautiful, happy & exciting time….as pregnancy should be.

But that changed in the blink of an eye. The world as we’d known it, our naive bubble that we’d lived in was burst and the realisation of the fragility of that bubble that had given us a blissful ignorance was instantaneously shown to us. A harsh reality of life slapped us in the face, instantaneously stopped everything in it’s tracks and threw our world upside down. Our bubble didn’t just burst but seemingly shattered into a thousand harsh pieces which we were left to pick up.

It was the beginning of December and we’d spent a few months willing the time away to get to our 20 week scan, the hospital was busy and our appointment ended up being made for 22 weeks gestation. That extra two weeks meant our chances of determining the gender were much higher and the scan would fall closer to Christmas, so we weighed really heavily on it falling at such a special time, we decorated the house for the festivities, hung fairy lights and tinsel galore, planned, wrapped and generally threw ourselves into the excitement of the beginning of December & the official kick off of those celebrations would come from the peek into the comfy world and snugness of the growing addition to the family.
Our expectations were so very far away from reality.
We knew the routine, we had our tokens for scan pictures, I’d drank, drank a little more and then drank some more again, til bursting point in the hope of a crystal clear view of our baby as awe’d waited in the hospital for our appointment, the kids all waited at home for news…it was excruciatingly exciting.

It was plain sailing to that point and then the storm viciously washed other us.

I think I knew almost immediately something wasn’t right, I’m pretty sure hope just left me there and then. Maybe an instinct that suddenly hit me….who knows.

The sonographer had only briefly started her examination when she’d announced to us that she needed to gain further opinions from a colleague, she was stern, ungiving of opinion & quite sombre in retrospect as she turned the monitor off and left the room.
She was right to be, how the hell do you tell parents at such a beautiful time in their lives that things aren’t right, things are not ideal, Mother Nature had made us one of the heart wrenching statistics you read about in the books.
She confirmed we were having a girl along with the reality that it appeared she had extensive water on her brain and evident problems with her heart amongst other things that would be confirmed later, things were absolutely not what they should be. We took it in but absorbing it was hard, the screen showed a different picture to us, it showed our daughter, it didn’t shown harsh reality or the severity of the situation….it showed her heart beating, her arms and legs kicking, it showed a baby on the screen no different to the way all her siblings had looked in the past. On the outside she looked perfect but on the inside she was poorly.

We were examined by the sonographers colleague and shown to a side room in the hospital to wait. There we were told of the severe prognosis, our daughter was to be born brain damaged and disabled….
It was a very bitter & hard pill to swallow, we couldn’t run and hide, there was no sweeping under the carpet, we couldn’t ignore it and time was not something we had, we were already at 22 weeks of pregnancy and the situation would change at 24 weeks and decisions would be different, at 24 weeks the life of a gestational baby becomes about rights to life and sometimes based on the severity of prognosis that right to life can mean the difference between suffering and not. Putting a time frame on decisions regarding our daughters life were heart wrenching, it seemed so wrong and unfair, almost cruel….but it was a reality we had no option but to face it.

We faced the option of ending our own child’s life.

We were given details of our options and an appointment a few days later to gather a more detailed scan within another hospital but firmly told that regardless of the more detailed scan it was very evident that things were severe. There were no percentages to consider, our percentage of severity was 100%.

We returned home in a blur. Under the cover of darkness with Christmas lights twinkling and the kids eager to open their advent calendars, learn of their new brother or sister and commence Christmas…. It was so very different to what we’d planned.
I can’t explain how my brain hurt, how I craved to switch off, how every kick and movement within me broke my heart that little but more. I couldn’t understand how the world could appear so normal when it had crumbled around me, within me.

We were truthful with the children, we told them the baby was very poorly, we did not hide from them the realities that life brings…it was a very sad time.

The next few days whilst we waited for a second opinion were again lived in that bubble but with naivety shed, I wasn’t heavily pregnant but was showing if I had tight clothes on, my pregnancy could of been mistaken but I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to point out to people I was having a baby, I wanted people to understand how proud I was to be carrying a child. I wanted to regain the excitement and wonder that had been lost.

A few days later we met for another scan in the hope of a miracle, a percentage we could deal with, a different opinion….but it didn’t happen, if anything the prognosis was delivered worse that before.

We were told our daughter would almost certainly die during childbirth or very shortly after, she would have no quality of life and be expected to be in a vegetive state should she survive, she would not talk or walk, she would not be able to see or hear, her movements on the screen were involuntary reflexes, her brain would not function and was severely damaged along with other major problems, at the lowest case scenario it was evident she would have no quality of life and to be born into this world would bring with it pain and suffering and non communication, should she survive which was not to be expected.

Somehow the severity of what we were being told was a blessing, we were not given any ‘maybes’ or ‘it’s workable’ or ‘corrective’ hopes…the doctor was blunt, he gave us detailed findings of what would be based on the scan, he didn’t need to detail what additional problems our daughter could face, the harshness of what was already apparent was sadly ample.

We didn’t want our child to suffer, to bring her into a world with no hope to die would be painful for her, painful for her siblings. Mother Nature had been cruel and we found our option was then to be cruel to be kind.

We choose to terminate, the most out of context word I have ever come across in my whole life. We terminated our child. It seems such a wrong statement, a horrid and harsh descriptive word of a choice we made. We let her go, we stopped her suffering. We gave her love with every morsel of our hearts and broke our own in doing so.

We don’t need judging. We stand by our choice, we don’t take guilt with us. We terminated out of love & an understanding that life isn’t given to be partaken by suffering, solitary pain or with zero quality. Our daughter did not deserve that just because we could not face to let her go. To keep her would of been selfish.

On the 10th December 2006 at 23 weeks pregnant I was booked in to give birth to our child. I was induced with a pill that would bring on labour and it was expected that our daughter would pass away during the birthing process.
Labour has always come easy for me but this was the hardest, saddest day of our lives.
With the support of my fiancĂ© our daughter entered the world that evening, she did not cry. She had already gone. She was perfect, she was tiny and fitted in my hand, she looked perfect and it was so very hard to understand how she could look so perfect but be so poorly inside. Her eyes were still fused and it broke my heart that we’d never see them and the thing that stays with me most is the temperature of her cheeks on my lips as I kissed her and tried to imprint those moments with her on my mind in an attempt to never be forgot.

I have not forgotten.

We spent the next 24 hours with her. We dressed her in dolly clothes which we’d heartbreakingly shopped for in Mothercare after our final scan.
We introduced her to the children still holding on to the belief that showing them the realities of life would help them gain understanding within their own lives as they grow. We gave them choice but were never forceful.
I returned home the next day leaving our baby in the mortuary, we were greeted to the normality of Christmas lights but with the complete randomness of the Salvation Army brass band outside our house playing Christmas Carols….a contrast of both sadness and poignancy.

Picking ourselves up just two weeks before Christmas for the sake of the children was something we had no choice but to do, carrying on like normal when we were miles away from normal and the only thing we wanted to do was curl up was hard, but we had to. School nativities were attended, carol services & Santa visits were all done. We received seasons greetings with condolences.

We had a postmortem a few months later that confirmed again to us that the decisions we had made were right but the reality was still an awful confirmation. There was never any reason for why things went wrong, we were just a statistic. Something as delicate and intricate as growing a life is an unbelievably complex thing & it doesn’t always go to plan. It’s a sad but harsh reality of life that we naively take for granted until we find ourselves in situations that remind us in the most cruelest of ways.

4 months after our daughter entered the world we arranged her funeral, her coffin was no bigger than the bouquet of flowers it nestled beside in the back of the hurst, we had a service, had readings and played songs in the chapel.
Our daughter read words I had wrote…

I feel the wind blow, for you..
I watch the rain drops, for you..
I feel the sun shine on my face, for you..
I taste snowflakes on my lips, for you.

I hear the birds sing, for you..
I see the trees dance, for you..
I scoop up a flower, for you..
I make a daisy chain, for you.

I tread the green grass, for you..
I footprint the sand, for you..
I hear the leaves fall, for you..
I smell the dawn break, for you.

I feel the cold sea, for you..
I watch the stars shine, for you..
I feel the moon touch my dreams, for you..
I whisper a Christmas wish, for you..

I’ll hear brass bands play, for you..
I’ll smell chestnuts roast, for you..
I’ll remember for always, for you..
My heart beats…
for you.

We said goodbye in the week she was due to enter the world.

Holly was never a result of anything we’d done wrong, the way she touched our lives could never of been predetermined, predicted or prevented, she was just a path that Mother Nature had directed us down…she was a sadness that was given to us to install an ethos of grasping life with both hands, valuing everything we have and being thankful for both the sunshine and the rain and each day that we have..
We still live life in that bubble and it does bend and squish a little sometimes but we live with a hope that it will never be shattered in such a way again.

She’s still there. Nestled in our hearts and fleeting through our thoughts always, she is dancing on the breeze and playing within the sunshine, she is the twinkle from a snowflake and the warmth in summer rain.

We miss her every day.

We respect everyones opinions & decisions to things they face during their lives, we do not judge.
Please respect our decisions too and keep judgement to yourselves.

x

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CHOCOLATE CONKERS

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We decided we were going to make some yummy chocolate conkers…

We used..
A box of Toffifee
A bar of Milk chocolate
Half a bar of Caramac chocolate
Skewers
String

Here’s how did it.

First we heated the chocolate button on our Toffifee for a few seconds until soft, placed a skewer in the middle and then pushed the two halves together, the softened chocolate acted like glue… We left them for 15 minutes in the fridge to harden back up.

IMG_3627.JPGWe melted the milk chocolate in a bowl placed in hot water..
Then we dipped our Toffifee skewers into the melted chocolate. We left them to harden back up in the fridge..

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IMG_3625.JPGonce set we then melted half a bar of caramac in a bowl over hot water and dipped in our conkers, again we left to set..

IMG_3624.JPGfinally I twiddled the skewer gently to loosen it and carefully removed them from our conkers. This left a hole which i threaded the string through…

AND THEY WERE READY!!!

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CHOCOLATE GOODY FILLED CHRISTMAS PUDDING

IMG_3523.JPGExactly what it says on the tin! Our chocolate goody filled xmas pudding is the perfect homemade surprise treat for Christmas Eve.
Everyone needs a Christmas pudding!!!
Here’s how we did it..

Ingredients, milk and white chocolate, (cake covering chocolate is better workable), balloons, and goodies to fill.

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Blow the balloons up ensuring you leave a long neck, if the knot is close to the inflated bit you can ensure the balloon is a perfect sphere whilst only inflating to the size you want.

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Smear with butter/margarine to help the chocolate come off easy when the ballon is popped.

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Melt your chocolate by placing into a bowl over hot water.

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Let the melted chocolate cool a little and SLOWLY dip your balloons into the chocolate to get a good covering, (if you plunge the balloon into very hot chocolate it will explode!!) …put into the fridge to harden… REPEAT THIS PROCESS TO GIVE YOUR PUDDING A GOOD STURDY THICKNESS.

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Place your pudding shells into the fridge to set.

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Melt your white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, leave to cool for 5 minutes at room temperature.

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Spoon your white chocolate onto the top of the milk chocolate, be careful not to play with it too much as this will cause the milk chocolate to seep through giving a marbled effect.

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Melt some more milk chocolate for your puddings base, leave the chocolate to thicken up in the bowl before pouring a disc shape big enough to fit under your pudding onto a baking sheet. I found that I could guess roughly the size I needed by placing the chocolate covered balloon into a bowl and then drawing around the bowl onto the baking sheet.

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Place your discs and puddings into the fridge to harden.

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Once set carefully peel your balloon from the sides of the chocolate DO NOT REMOVE THE BALLOON. Once you have gently peeled away from the sides you can pop your balloon and remove.

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Trim the sides of your pudding to make it a nice level to put on the base. Using cake covering chocolate make this easier to do.

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Finally melt a little more chocolate to use as a glue to attach the base to the pudding…DONT FOGET TO FILL WITH GOODIES BEFORE SEALING

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A couple of spots of melted chocolate is ideal to glue your berries on, I used ready roll icing with a few drops of food colouring but it would be easier to use smarties.

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I added a fake leaf to finish, and they are ready to be bashed open on Xmas Eve

IMG_3538.JPGthen all you need to do is crack them open!!!!
I added a fake leaf to finish, and they are ready to be bashed open on Xmas Eve

LOOT GIVING EXPANDING FOAM MONSTER

20140923-112037-40837276.jpg we decided to make our own loot giving monster! Using a box, some expanding foam filler, paint, battery operated fairy lights, 2 ballpit balls & a bowl of sweets we created a monster for our trick o treaters to brave. Dare you plunge your hand into his ferocious jaws and delve into the pit of his fire burning belly for your monster?!
This activity was done by Elis, 9 with a little supervision.
Our main item was a cardboard box and some expanding foam filled, we used some we had kicking about in the garage but cheaper versions can be picked up in pound stores.

20140923-112647-41207054.jpgwe covered a bowl in foil & then taped the bowl to the box where we planned to put the monsters mouth.

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We made sure we had safety goggles and protective gloves on.

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We then set about covering our box with the expanding foam, we concentrated mostly on the monsters face.

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We placed two ballpit balls as the eyes.

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We used a mix of emulsion we had in the shed and poster paints to paint our monster.

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We left the unpainted monster to dry over night, we then carefully cut the bowl out and cut out a circle for the mouth. We then used a piece of paper to make the teeth.

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We used sticky tape to attach the teeth inside the box via a flap I cut in the back of the box.

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I had some battery operated lights which we attached to the inside of the box, this are usually available in pound stores.

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We put a bowl of sweets inside.

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We painted our monster with a mix of emulsion and poster paint (because that’s what we had handy!)

20140923-113711-41831434.jpgour monster turned out fantastic!!!

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