“Celebrating Autumn” is a new term I think I am going to introduce into our home at this time of year. It sounds softer, happier and just less grim than “celebrating Halloween”, because lets face it… what is there to celebrate with spooky central? I just feel since after our recent glamping trip this time of year is an opportunity to admire and appreciate all nature has to offer us.

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I sometimes think that I would have fitted in well around the times of period dramas. Oh how I would have loved to have celebrated harvests by singing in the fields and rejoicing for all we have whilst clothed in some mint dress. But alas it isn’t so, and I instead settle to feel a lot of glee at the schools harvest festivals as I watch the kids appreciate food and crops.

When I think of Autumn I do think of these harvest festivals we had as kids, along with walks in the crisp (or mostly soggy) leaves, exploring forests and the smell of fires and spice. I think of pumpkins on the doorstep and cosy hot chocolates on cool days and then the occasional bonus warm days where a jumper is enough. I look forward to the smell from the slow cooker as you come in from a busy day and I think of eating lots more soup and stews.

Autumn to me now has returned to be a much happier time where as Halloween really is not.

Unfortunately nowadays Autumn is very much dominated by Halloween and some of the wonderful moments of the season can be overshadowed by zombies and spooky things round every corner of almost every shop. Spooky I can handle, gruesome I cannot, and whilst I can remember with fondness a lot of my Halloween costumes and “trick or treating” with my sisters, as I mentioned last year I have suddenly gone off it and become all too much of a pessimist when it comes to Halloween. I feel it glamorises death, and so feel its too good at pricking my memories of loss and makes me uneasy.

My kids however in innocence seem to love it; with a good jump from a spooky decoration to fantasy’s of dressing as Dracula or a ghost for a party we haven’t even planned on. They love at the moment watching “spooky movies” like Hotel Transylvania and Casper and whilst I am not sure how I want it to go down in our home or how I will perceive it in future years, for now I suppose its harmless and innocent.

To me though I have made it my goal to work on focusing more on Autumn as a season as oppose to Halloween domination, and if they want to have a fun costume on the 31st of October, or spooky movie every now and then, then I guess its bearable as an extra thing and the focus thing!

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They are however very aware that pumpkins are big this time of year and have talked A LOT about a need to get them and calve faces. So this week with it being half term, and after seeing Instagram a buzz with kiddies in pumpkin patches I decided to ignore the Halloween spin and use it as an opportunity to embrace Autumn. We headed over to a fairly local patch with the kids and some friends and had so much fun choosing a pumpkin, calving it and chatting about all of the various decorations. They choose happy faces and a cat face as oppose to anything too creepy, and with painted faces and the sun shining it was a glorious autumn adventure!

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Starting this year (and hopefully for the future) to focus less on the scary and more on the season we hope to celebrate Autumn by doing the following:

Have a woodland walk and admire the changing season
Eat Seasonal Veggies
Donate food at the harvest festival
Bake something with cinnamon 
Bake a pie
Pick pumpkins and calve them 
Do a craft using things from Nature 
Try a new soup
Bake Bread
Go to a Bonfire/firework display
Have our own fire and toast marshmallows
Watch a seasonal film 
Collect conkers 
Jump in puddles
Kick/throw the fallen leaves 

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It seems absolutely ages ago since we last had a Saturday where we weren’t busy with stuff or too ill to embrace the day together; whilst life has just been happening, and has been good with various events, parties, family stuff and tired kids in a new school routine, I have really missed our Saturday adventures out and about just the 4 of us. So this weekend when we spotted an open day we grabbed it and decided to head out to a fairly local National trust spot (East Riddlesden Hall) and then on to an Ice cream parlour with the mother of all play barns, and it was lovely to just go back to the Ordinary Moments of life wandering, talking and exploring together.
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I did this exact same day out back in the summer with my sister in law and it was such a joyful day which was enjoyed so much by us all, that I have been waiting for the right opportunity to share it with Nathan too. Since getting our National Trust membership for Christmas last year it has opened up a whole host of cheap days out filled with learning, beauty and adventure. We have spent more time outdoors than ever before and I just love it, the kids thrive and it makes us feel we are “living the dream”!

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I absolutely love to see them intrigued by history (one of our shared passions) and to see them dressed up in olden day attire (thats just cute) and I love the play areas they have and find joy there both as an observer and participant in their adventures and games. I find it wonderful that no matter how often you return to these places, they always feel different depending on the Season and it creates so many new  scenarios for these games and play. This time we made witches brew in the mud kitchen with a few frogs and spiders for good measure!

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My favourite things to see this time round (other than my kids looking like little olden day children) was this cute little kids shed in the garden where Megs sat a while reading books on tadpoles, bees and plants…it has been such an ordinary scene since she was almost 2, to just be sat captivated by books, and this moment made me happy to see that her little passions go all over with her. It was a lovely little spot, decorated beautifully and very enticing for the kiddos!

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I loved to see Ethan’s Joy of doing his usual boyish things of pushing the boundaries, taking risks and generally being a fast mover, whilst Nath and I stroll along chatting, hand holding, legging it to assist and play, and just enjoying being parents to them both.  I realised how all of these moments; the chats, the education, the laughs and the antics make up our ordinary, and why I have missed so much these days out all together. It was such a pleasant day of the appreciation of, and embracing of the season as we walked in scenery filled with yellows, browns, reds and oranges, and then a lovely bonus to be greeted at the Ice cream parlour with an array of pumpkin displays, witchey things and general excitement and treats made us all very happy to celebrate in Autumn and be together for some fun.

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I love these days, when we have time to make memories and do our ordinary family adventures, filled with the same little quirks from us all that come together to make something beautiful. Being out together exploring in these ways really makes me realise how much I love to be outside and see the gorgeous scenery of England, it makes me feel blessed for just an ordinary little life that at times feels so full, and to share it all with my beautiful little family is wonderful!

Isn’t it lovely to embrace together the things each season brings us?

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I decided a few days ago that I very much dislike Halloween now… it makes me uncomfortable aaaannnnddd yeah, I just don’t like it any more, at least not at the moment. It hasn’t always been the case, I used love a good fright and reason to dress up all freaky and get free treats from people, but recently I have seen a shift in the things I love and the things that make me uncomfortable and it appears that Halloween now falls into the latter camp!
no halloweenLast year I must have been in a bubble, because I can recall very few memories or emotions from it. I remember reluctantly being dressed up as a spiders web and going to a small local party for the kids. I also remember buying Megsie some cutie pie pumpkin hair bobbles for her bunches and witches hair clips, but other than that I was preoccupied with throwing a last minute pirate party for Ethan’s 4th and coming to terms with the loss of Poppy that I had no time for it really!
WP_20151007_09_35_29_ProThe other day I found myself going around the bargainous shops with the kids after school, and laughing my head off with them as they dared each other to walk down the Halloween aisle. They jumped over and over again, their little  jaws dropped and between 3 shops for about half an hour they were amazed… I watched them shoot behind stuff in fear and then giggle for ages at the shock of it as they messed about around the displays and with the various decorations. I took great joy in pressing the “try me” buttons on model witches, skeleton sweet bowls and fake door bells because their reactions cracked me up every time (and why not embrace these spontaneous fun moments?). All the way home I listened as they chatted about how scary it all was and as they got into a deep discussion of who they would be for Halloween.

For me though, behind the fun and giggles we were having there was a very real feeling of uneasiness as I saw Halloween through new eyes. The constant images of ghosts, skeletons and “grave” signs all became too much as I realised how personal it all felt. I realised how the thought of scary ghosts made me feel sad and defensive because death was being shown to my children and the world to be something to fear. I felt weird that we take joy in imitating a spirit that’s gone on when to me the soul of a person is a real thing and not to be feared!  I also don’t like the idea of people being afraid of graves because to us that is a place of peace…the grave I know is where my daughter rests, its a peaceful place not a haunting place. Aaaand finally I don’t like the thought of skeletons for obvious reasons (I hope). I am more than aware that my emotions here are unique to me, and that my pessimism isn’t reciprocated by the masses, who are blatantly going nuts for all Hallows eve!

I do however like when E wears his skeleton onesie and imitates funny bones, perhaps because again its done in a none fearful, creepy way. I also love pumpkins and dressing up generally…the childhood fear of witches and vampires. I love the kids innocence and reactions to all of the creepy things in the shops, the treats and spidery things too. But I no longer enjoy the fullness of Halloween and the fear of death, the imitations of things to do with death and nor do I feel inclined to embrace it in my life…the whole affair just feels uneasy to me because of its timing in relation to my own loss.

The kids however are very aware and looking forward to it, so how does a Halloween
pessimist protect oneself yet ensure their family still has fun? well in 3 simple steps…

1. Take them to a pumpkin festival – We did this last year at farmer Copley’s and had a wonderful time. The kids love pumpkins and I found the  costumes from the staff were family friendly and were more witches from OZ as oppose to creepy, haunting things and I very much loved the focus of pumpkins and the season as oppose to fear, death and gruesome sights. The kids had tractor rides, we saw some lovely little pumpkins and we enjoyed hot chocolates when we got home. Seasonal, harmless fun together – bliss!
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2. Embrace the stuff that is okay – Spider crafts, pumpkin crafts, baking of spider themed treats and dress up of things that aren’t freaky is the direction I am taking this year. Megs won a book at Ballet last week and inside are fantastic baked goods and crafts of a Halloween theme. They are not scary or deadly, but fun and cute.  I’m not a lover of kids crafts or baking with them, the control freak in me can’t take it, but Megs is and its far more enjoyable one to one so I am surprisingly excited to get cracking with the projects in her book.
Halloween book3. Love the fact that they have both been invited to fancy dress birthday parties on Halloween and therefore we need no excuses as to why there’s no Halloween party! This is the highlight for me and Halloween will pass by with them having attended a party, enjoying some treats and wearing a costume – everything they anticipate. The night of we will hibernate in darkness to avoid trick or treasurers…DONE!

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More awkward than when people don’t know your baby died and ask you about it is when your GP doesn’t know and asks at your 6week check ..are you breastfeeding??? ERRRRMMMM Is this some kind of sick joke? First she asked why I was there, something I asked myself – the obvious answer: “My 6 week check” and now this???

I went to this appointment reluctantly, to me I feel its another cruelty of loosing your baby; going through all of the motions and appointments of a new mother without your baby. Its like a big slap in the face and pretty naff; answering questions about the birth, about if we are wanting to try again? Its all just another reminder of what you don’t have. Why when your heart is so broken do they then drag you through all of that? in answer to her question I just responded (surprisingly calm) “no my baby was still born” –  of course she was horrified, more so because she too had experienced such loss and knew straight away how I felt and that that was probs the last place I wanted to be on a wednesday morning…anyway after much apologizing and talking normally about the situation..one mother to another the awkwardness left.

I answered all of the usual questions and as I thought I’m fit and well and recovered from the birth..HA if only it took 6 weeks to recover from such a birth…so YES physically I am well recovered, mentally and emotionally this birth will always affect me and I doubt I will ever be fully healed from it.
I learnt during the appointment that because Poppy had Edwards apparently the hospital feel “no further appointments are necessary” – Oh right were here again are we? discriminating in life AND death – PFFFFTTTT! No follow up because she had Trisomy 18? No opportunity for us to talk about what happened? ask unanswered questions? I cannot believe after all we have been through we still have to fight for a certain level of care. Every parent I met at SANDS said they had had a follow up consultation to discuss it , yet apparently thats not necessary in this case?!Thankfully my GP was on it and said she will help me with this one as every parent that has had infant loss should be entitled to meet with Drs and talk about it all…Edwards or not! What a difference a DR with similar experiences makes.

After such a rubbish start to the day all I wanted to do was hide away again and have a good cry, but as in life it must go on and we had a couple of other things to do. We were however able to enjoy a lovely afternoon at Farmer Copley’s in Ponte! Im glad we made the effort to go and make the most of the the Autumn season, the kids enjoyed being with one of their cousins and had fun scrambling over hey bails, seeing all of the pumpkins, animals and a little tractor ride. But throughout it all my heart ached for my own little Pumpkin that isn’t here to do these things. How different this is from what 6 weeks postnatal was meant to be…

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