Tag Archives: Family

Families That Cosplay Together – Stay Together…Cardiff Comic Con

Have you ever wanted to release that inner geeky child?

If yes, then Comic Cons are the way to go! 

lara croft tomb raider 2013, lara croft, cosplay, the last krystallos,

Getting ready to play – Lara Croft Tomb Raider 2013 – © Lisa Shambrook

My daughter, Bekah, of Arkhdrauth Cosplay, is a cosplay enthusiast and after her first Comic Con dressed as Thranduil, we were all raring to have a go… So after a few months of preparation and much costume design…we headed off to Cardiff Comic Con.

indiana Jones cosplay, cardiff comic con, Antti Karppinen Photography Alias Creative

Vince Shambrook – Indiana Jones by Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative

maleficent cosplay, cardiff comic con, Antti Karppinen Photography Alias Creative

Bekah Shambrook of Arkhdrauth Cosplay – Maleficent by Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative

Bekah entered the Community Masquerade and placed First with her magnificent Maleficent cosplay!

ghost call of duty cosplay, cardiff comic con, Antti Karppinen Photography Alias Creative

Daniel Shambrook – Ghost Call of Duty by Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative

Daenerys cosplay, cardiff comic con, Antti Karppinen Photography Alias Creative

Caitlin Shambrook – Daenerys by Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative

This was a family affair and we had a great time. The atmosphere at Cardiff was brilliant and the cosplayers fantastic. I also really loved seeing all the families arriving with little cosplayers…start young!

the last krystallos, cardiff comic con, cosplay

Cardiff Comic Con – Daenerys and Margery, Ghost and Star Lord, Indiana Jones and The Penguin, Maleficent and Maleficent, two Indys, Daryl Dixon and Lara Croft – © Lisa Shambrook

the last krystallos, cardiff comic con, cosplay,

Cardiff Comic Con, Maleficent and Star Lord, Daenerys x2 and Margery, Daenerys, Tauriel, Aragorn and Lara Croft, Daryl Dixon and Daenerys, Space Marine and Ghost, Star Lord, Lara Croft and The Terminator – © Lisa Shambrook

The organisers did a great job and special thanks must go to Antti Karppinen of Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative who took the most amazing photographs of almost all of the cosplayers, because he believes that the fans, the cosplayers, are what Comic Con is all about and he wants to recognise the passion and work they put into their costumes! He made a lot of cosplayers very happy with his brilliant photographs!

So, to release the child in you…dress up…honestly, it’ll do you the world of good! 

Have you ever wanted to Cosplay, if so who would you choose?

If you have already – who did you go as? 

The Battle to Beat Depression

We all fight battles – some more than others, but all of us fight and struggle through.

The Battle to Beat Depression | The Last Krystallos - black dog, depression, ways to beat depression, antidepressants, thelastkrystallos,

Fending off the black dog… © Lisa Shambrook

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (a quote thought to have come from Ian Maclaren but now widely misattributed to Plato – don’t you love Pinterest and its mass of misattributes?!) This quote speaks volumes.

Lara Croft, weapons, axe, arrows, bow, quiver, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Not one of us escapes these skirmishes, so we need to be well equipped.

Two things lead me to write this article: firstly I’m making weapons for Cosplay; just last week I made a quiver and arrows to go with my bow and this week I made an axe, so I have weapons on my mind. Secondly I read a post by a friend, who suffers depression, and she listed her ‘antidepressants’ over on her blog A Slice of Reality and it makes sense to know what yours and mine are too!

Back in 2013, The Guardian reported that ‘Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression.’ That’s one in every five people you know. Simply put, we all know people who suffer with depression and/or anxiety and a whole host of other mental health problems. Thankfully, we are now becoming not only more aware, but more able to talk about mental health issues.

So go and read my friend’s post and see what her antidepressants are…see what mine are and then go and work on yours.

antidepressants, the battle to beat depression, tablets, water, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Medication is the first port of call when you go to your GP. In fact, in general, according to the British Medical Journal, antidepressants are being overprescribed. This is not to say they don’t have a place, but the most effective use of antidepressants is a short course that resets the chemical imbalance caused by depression until your body is ready to produce them again.
*Though everyone is different and Dr’s advice should be adhered to.

I’ve taken several courses of antidepressants during my life and each time they’ve helped me overcome the illness. If I need them these days I’ll take a six month course and work on lifting myself out at the same time. My family and I prefer me not to take them as I become a zombie – I want to feel alive not comatose. Antidepressants react differently with different people, but don’t expect to take them without the myriad side effects.

Lisa Shambrook, depression, pain, thelastkrystallos, the battle to beat depression,

© Lisa Shambrook

The most important intervention a GP can offer is therapy. I’ve taken courses of therapy, but only privately. The waiting lists were always too long for me. In my book ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ Meg’s mother refuses her GP’s help.  Her reaction is typical of someone suffering depression:

“I’m wasting money that could be spent on people who are really sick, and why? Because I’m sad!” She [mum] flung her arms in the air. “I’m sad, really sad, and not in the being upset terms either! Sad, weak and stupid. I’m stupid, therefore I do stupid things, therefore I should see a counsellor, but I can’t because I’m not stupid enough!”
Meg rolled her eyes.
“Maybe I should do something stupid…”
“Maybe we should get dinner, Mum. C’mon, let’s get dinner.” Meg moved towards the kitchen. “Mum? Did you put yourself on the list for counselling anyway?”
Mum shook her head. “What’s the point? I’ll be better after I take these [antidepressants]. I’ll be fine in less than a few years! The list is for people with serious problems, not bored housewives who feel sad.” She strode past her daughter. “C’mon, Meg, I’ll be fine in no time.”

If you think is that there’s always someone worse off, that it’s not so bad, that you don’t want to take up valuable NHS time, and you don’t put yourself on the list – that’s a vicious circle. You are worth it, and if you are ever offered therapy of any kind from your GP – take it!

dog paws, Roxy, GSD, german shepherd, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Exercise is, for me, the most effective antidepressant there is. Another friend once sent me an essay she’d written, for her thesis, about the effects of exercise on depression, it was an eye opener! Exercise is a natural way to increase serotonin, as is getting out in the sunshine, and it can help lift the depressive state. Almost seven years ago we got a dog, and daily walks have increased my capacity to avoid depression hugely. Then last year our family joined the local gym. A mixture of exercise and a much healthier diet have impacted greatly on our weight, which has significantly decreased, our general fitness and health, and my predisposition for depression and anxiety. I cannot recommend exercise more. If you can’t afford the gym, or a dog, then just get yourself outside, take a walk and appreciate the abundance of nature!

psalm 61 2, overwhelmed, higher rock, scripture,In her post, my friend talks about her faith and I share it. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are, or aren’t, or what spiritual beliefs you have, there are good things in life to be appreciated. Things that increase your faith, whether in humanity or deity, and these are good. Lean on your faith like I can rely on words of comfort from scripture…let it carry you.

Being creative is what keeps me going. When the chips are down, when I’m stuck in a black hole, I can escape through writing. If you’re lucky enough to have a creative talent, use it. If not, search one out, cultivate one, or find a hobby that makes you happy. I write when I need to release the pressure of anxiety, when panic threatens to overwhelm me, and when the pit of depression attempts to bind and suffocate me. Words are my world, and they save me.

Anxiety © BekahShambrook

Anxiety © BekahShambrook

Some of us are also lucky to have families who, though they can’t always stop you from slipping into that pit, they can throw down the rope to haul us out. They may not understand, I know my self-harm is way beyond my husband’s comprehension, but he will always be there. They will make sure they’re there to hug you, reassure you and work out how to tug your little boat back into their harbour.

I know that for me these antidepressants work, most of the time. You may be reading this whilst you’re cowering in the darkness and these ideas may seem as far away as the sun is, but give yourself time, depression is not always curable, but it is liveable and survivable. I live with chronic depression, of the rapid cycling variety, (You can read more about mine here) and I know I will always live fending off the black dog, but I can – I can growl and he’ll back off… Learn how to tame yours.

How do you survive? What helps you through the tough times and what tips can you offer to tame the black dog? 

Beneath_the_Old_Oak_front_cover_finalTo read more of Meg and her mum’s battles, ‘Beneath the Old Oak ‘ is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

Family Photoshoot – Post Apocalyptic Survivors

Sometimes family life feels a little like surviving the apocalypse – and with the genre so popular right now – we decided to go dystopian with our family photoshoot!

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

We’re ready…

It had to be something big…Dan is going away for two years and we wanted to do something epic! So we sourced and customised clothes, made weaponry and set out to Pembrey Country Park. The old, hidden munitions tunnels were perfect!

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

What’s in there?

Cait, Dan and Bekah looked the part, with dystopian designs and post apocalyptic accessories!



Roxy accompanied us, ready to chase off attackers…

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

Nothing’s getting past us…

And I showed off my kick ass scar…

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

Don’t even try it…

We made it out of the bunker and scared off the enemy…

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

War cry!

And we were ready for anything…

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

Battle ready…

It was cold, very cold – but also epic, very epic!

dystopian, post apocalyptic, photoshoot, family photo, family portrait, the last krystallos, arkhdrauth cosplay,

Hardened survivors…

All photos were taken with Bekah’s Nokia Lumia 1020 via tripod, and we had lots of fun falling over on that grassy hill, so that may be why we don’t look so post apocalyptic serious!

Please don’t use our photos without crediting and linking to us: The Last Krystallos and Arkhdrauth Cosplay. But feel free to Facebook, Tweet, G+ and Pinterest them from here!

Weapons were made from children’s toys spray-painted matt black, Vince’s bullet belt is literally made from a belt and gold spray-painted batteries held on with black electrical tape!

Hair and make-up all by Bekah, and Bekah’s antlers come from the amazing Hysteria Machine!

We put together our own outfits, lots of ripping, tearing, cheese grating and painting to distress.

So, we’ve done Steampunk, railway tracks, snow, and more…what next? Who knows?

What would you do for a family photoshoot?

All of the things...

All of the things…

You can find me, Lisa, on my website and Facebook, and Bekah at Arkhdrauth Cosplay on FB and her blog Adofaer and Arkhdrauth. We also run an Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy…come and visit us and like us on Facebook to know about all our latest special offers!

Twenty-one Things I Love About Bekah…

Twenty-One Things I Love About You…

To my daughter, Bekah, on your Twenty-first Birthday!


Bekah…Twenty-one Today!

  1. That very first nudge in my tummy that preceded the kicks and thrusts demonstrates the strong-willed daughter I carry now and will carry forever in my heart.

    1. Rebekah 16mnths Oct 1994


  2. Our deep loving little pixie who carries her teddy everywhere by the bobble on his hat!

    2. Rebekah 2 & Teddy July 1995


  3. Your eloquence. At three you were singing ‘Blaa Blaa Black Sheep’, but your speech has and always will be eloquent and beautiful.

    3. Rebekah 3 frost Dec 1996


  4. Our little BeckyCat, full of mischief and eccentricities…

    4. Rebekah 3 cat, march 1997


  5. Already at five you have quirks – can’t have a clock ticking in your bedroom, and you’re very precise and grown up!

    5. Katarina & Becky Aug 1998


  6. A true little bookworm, you read brilliantly, you read lots and you read every night before you go to sleep.

    6. Cornwall, Flambards Becky 6 & tarantula april 2000


  7. You know exactly what you want and you move confidently full steam ahead to get it!

    7. Rebekah 7 Castell Henllys May 2001


  8. You are an intelligent choice spirit, destined to be here now, to learn and grow and blossom.

    8. Rebekah 8 Caerphilly castle Aug 2001


  9. You explode when you get angry, but that eruption is over fast! You’re bright, clever, beautiful and talented; don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!

    9. Rebekah 9  fucshia Aug 2002


  10. You have a strong sense of justice, the world often does not, but you inherently know right from wrong and fight for it.

    10. Rebekah 10 Jules' drums april 2004


  11. Your creative spirit grows stronger all the time, developing a love of art and words.

    11. Rebekah 11 Howletts april 2005


  12. You are an amazing example!

    12. Rebekah 12 July 2005


  13. You are our Empyrean Pixie, full of fire and confidence, you can rule the world!

    13. beck 13 bandana august 2006


  14. You have the spirit of a pioneer. If you’d been born to a different life you’d have crossed the plains fighting for your beliefs – be a pioneer today!

    14. Beck 14, July 2007


  15. You have the gift of Integrity, your honesty and sense of right and wrong will always place you on the right road…

    15. Beck 15, cool, july 2008 2crop


  16. A rebellious devil lives on your shoulder – be a rebel, but in all the right ways! Fight for what’s right, rebel against the world, and blast your way forward!

    16. Bekah 16, Dec 2009


  17. Your art is truly wonderful; a great talent that will carve you a path in life – always use it and improve it! Have fun with it!

    17. Bekah 17, Llansteffan, Dec 2010


  18. I love your strength to overcome. The obstacles you find in your way always make you stronger.

    18. Bekah 18, dec 2011


  19. You are growing into your beauty and can recognise it yourself, never lose that!

    19. Bekah 19, june 2012


  20. You know your worth, a daughter of grace and spirit, our daughter…

    20. Bekah 20, sept 2013


  21. The world is at your feet…it’s yours…
    21. Bekah 20, April 2014


    *Note: All photographs within this post are copyright to Rebekah or Lisa and are not to be reproduced or copied in any way.

Family Photo Wall

We redecorated recently (by supreme order from Oldest Daughter) and our lounge went from this (top pic) to this (bottom pic)…
The original green didn’t actually look as dull as the picture suggests, and it wasn’t the exact moss shade I had in mind…however we’d bought the paint and had no money left after we moved in, so we lived with it for the next seven years…

I’m really pleased with the new colours: ‘Soft Stone’ on the walls and an accent wall of ‘Intense Truffle’, but our main aim was to add the ‘Family Photo Wall’ as below:

I knew what I wanted and got further ideas (see above montage) from Pinterest and off we went, scouring the house and shops…mainly TKMaxx ( I love that store and can barely pass it by without going in and coming back out with something wonderful!) for frames

We fixed up a huge sheet of paper (wallpaper lining) across the wall and pinpointed the nails that were already on the wall (it was a bit annoying for the layout to be constrained by nails in the walls from previous occupiers, but needs must), then laid it on the floor and placed our frames in the desired locations.

Then I hunted through our family photographs to chose pictures to get reprinted and decided which frames would suit them best. Once they arrived we laid them out again, photos in frames, to be sure the layout worked.

Next we hung the main four pictures on the nails that already existed and began the fun bit of hammering in a dozen or so more nails! Finally the blank wall:
was covered:
The whole room had a makeover: the mismatched, falling apart sofa’s got new throws and cushions all in my green and brown accent colours, and we discovered a plethora of lovely green ‘bits and pieces’…that would be their official name, of course!
I am now very happy with a redecorated and much decluttered room…with only the rear of the room left to finish. Beyond the bookshelf in the above picture there is desk and shelf space, currently still in disorder due to husband’s lack of time to go through his bits and pieces. And the finale of the room which will be a wall similar to the family photo wall but full of quotes…‘The Quote Wall’…pictures will follow at some point…

So Here It Is…

Having just decorated the cake, it now feels like Christmas! It’s been the same over the last few years…my cakes used to be standard, just rough iced, but after watching Kirsty Allsopp a couple of years ago I became more adventurous!

The first year I put polar bears on my cake and I haven’t looked back since…this year I attempted penguins. Not all plain sailing…couldn’t buy black fondant icing anywhere, so had to make it with food colouring. Advice is to use gel paste colourings, but couldn’t find a black one, so it was liquid colours…and that didn’t help. You need a lot to make white fondant black, though I made it a day before and it darkened from steel-grey to black overnight. The icing became softer and stickier with each drop of black…which added to my frustration as I tried to mould penguins. It turned out to be easier to keep the icing in the fridge and only bring it out each time I moulded or added something (eyes, feet etc), was a long drawn out operation and several penguins were violently sacrificed during this process!
The iced-over pond was made by melting four glace mints in a tiny cake tin on grease-proof paper (at a low temperature for about 15 mins) then cooling in the fridge. The bubbles made as the mint heats makes the ‘ice’ you’re left with look pretty authentic! The pond sits on top of very stiff royal icing (I add as little water as I can get away with when making my royal icing, I like the peaks!) and I lightly coloured the icing below the pond with the palest blue (food colouring). Finished with a few snow-covered rocks of white fondant and the penguins surrounded by ‘snowballs’ (sugar decorations) and silver balls.
The rest of my cake is a standard rich fruit Christmas cake and traditional marzipan. My husband makes the cake with the children, I marzipan it…then make decisions about decorating it myself in secret and we all enjoy the big reveal when it’s finished!

So, yes, now it’s Christmas! We’ve decorated the tree…I love that my tree is covered with individual decorations, which I add to each year with anything unique I can find. I love homemade decorations too, the children’s school efforts…Bekah’s robin, Dan’s star and angel and Cait’s snowflake… Almost nothing is repeated, and this year I made my own Button Snowflake and Button icicle (similar to the snowflake, but buttons on one white lollipop stick, both sides, big buttons at the top and small at the bottom…)

I’ve had my face painted, cute snowflake on my cheek. Bekah is starting up a Face Painting business http://littlemasterpiecefp.blogspot.com/ and she painted faces at our local church Christmas party…some excited little tigers! See her Facebook Page for some more great pictures: http://www.facebook.com/LittleMasterpieceFacepainting

Along with the cake we’ve made our Christmas pudding, lovely recipe, which makes our main pudding and several mini ones too! Takes ten hours in the oven, but oh boy, the house smells good that day!
We’ve even been carol singing…granted, people find it strange that a large group can go carol singing and not expect payment, but being out in the dark singing carols and wandering down a street of twinkling Christmas lights is magic!
Since Caitlin moved to High School, I’ve missed the infants/junior school concerts and nativities…what’s not to love about little boys with gold cardboard crowns, tea-towel shepherds, grumpy inn-keepers who forget to open the door, reindeer with runny noses and angels with wonky halos..? I miss the innocence and enthusiasm!

So what’s left? I must finish the present wrapping (before school’s out!), Santa’s done all his! We’ve got our Santa hats, the holly and the ivy…what more?

Perhaps just the time to take a moment and remind myself of the reason for it all…

‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped himin swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…’ (Luke 2:7)

In raising children, I have lost my mind but found my soul…

I’ve read a few blogs, articles and bits and pieces on motherhood lately…many different views, delights, frustrations and opinions. So I thought I’d throw myself into the mix too…
Having been a mother for eighteen and a half years now, I have a bit of experience on the subject!
The first thing that comes to mind is that moment your very first child is delivered and handed to you, and all of a sudden you have a new life, a miracle, a human being that you’ve created, in your arms…I remember the rising sun, twinkling on the ocean, and shining through the blinds in the hospital window as I held Rebekah in my arms…motherhood had begun…
She was a delight, a baby that slept all night, set herself an easy routine and was a pleasure…I only wish I’d been a less frantic parent. Severe pain (I had Fentons repair surgery nine months after birth) and difficulty feeding (I could have fed triplets and almost drowned Bekah whenever I fed her…) made me sink into depression and I forced myself to keep breastfeeding despite my state of mind. I made the mistakes many young mothers make of believing I had to make everything perfect…life isn’t, so I should have appreciated my  mothering skills didn’t need to be either!
Two and a half years later and we were joined by our little monkey…the one on the left…this time I was a stronger mother. This pregnancy had overcome the ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) that I’d suffered since I was seventeen, so I felt physically stronger…but I still struggled with chronic depression when he was tiny. The best advice I got was from my GP who helped by telling me at four weeks that I didn’t need to breastfeed if I didn’t want to. Her permission relieved me of the guilt that had plagued me when Bekah was a baby and I bottle fed Daniel much earlier. He flourished and I enjoyed him! 
Two gorgeous children and a mum who was much more relaxed second time around! I loved those years with the children. Bekah was old enough to enjoy a little brother and he thought she was the bees knees!
Now, I am someone who plans to the utmost…and I wanted the same gap for my third child…I’d fallen pregnant easily with both, and I was pregnant again much quicker than I’d expected… 
Not straight forward though…a twelve week heartbeat check and my midwife send me for a scan. Vince and I sat waiting, excited to the see the scan, then when the sonographer turned the monitor away from us and rushed out of the room, our hearts dropped. We were told to return for a more detailed scan that afternoon. When we arrived back, my midwife ‘just happened’ to walk past and said she’d stay for the scan. She broke the news that I had a ‘hydatidiform tumour’ and the tumour would be immediately removed. Returning home after surgery, we mourned the loss of the baby that had never arrived…
Two years of two weekly blood tests with Charing Cross Hospital followed and my hCG levels were monitored, they were supposed to take two years to return to normal, but were normal only nine months later. With the all clear, we tried for our missing child. This time we had to be patient… I truly believe that Caitlin would have been born if that third pregnancy had worked, and she’d had to wait…so did we… finally, we became a family of five…
I can smile thinking back to Caitlin’s early years…I was twenty-eight and had much more confidence than I’d ever had before. I breast fed Cait for eight months and loved it! She chose to wean herself off way before I wanted her to! I was lucky with each of my children, they each settled into easy sleeping and feeding routines…Sounds idyllic…some of it was, much of it wasn’t…such is life!
I loved being a family. I loved holding tiny babies in my arms. I loved watching them sleep, especially on their father’s chest. I loved playing on the beach, kicking through autumn leaves, splashing in puddles and collecting outdoor bits and pieces for collages. I loved reading to them. I loved seeing the differences in each one. I loved recognising their similarities. I loved dressing them in amazing charity shop bargains. I loved their innocence…Dan, after visiting Gelli Aur with nursery school, told me at home that his favourite animals had been ‘the ones with sticks on their heads’…that would be the stags then!
I wasn’t so keen on crying babies, nappies (especially exploding ones), tantrums, nor shopping with three in tow, nor encouraging a toddler to sleep on their own in a ‘big’ bed in their own room (once they climb out of their cot…a big bed it was…), nor Caitlin’s escapee antics…she could escape from car restraints, bouncy chairs, high chairs, play pens, cots, and even the house…once the front door bell rang and we opened the door to find toddler Cait standing on the door step in the rain with teddy strapped into her little pushchair, having happily gone for a walk around our cul-de-sac…she was wet enough to indicate that she’d been outside for some time…scary, and a warning to keep the chain across the front door at all times… Not keen on fussy eating…lesson learned too late that chicken nuggets are useless…I would definitely work on better food if I did it all over again.
Perhaps the best things are watching them grow…
I love them more and more each day…sounds sugary, but true…I enjoy them more as they grow. I was once told that I should enjoy them while they were young because they would turn into sullen monsters once they grew out of traditional childhood, but I have to be completely honest and I have enjoyed them more as older children. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved those ‘milestones’ all the ‘firsts’…first smile, first crawl, step, word, first time they can write their name…nice story about that one: lovely ‘drawing’ on the wall, and the artist proudly signed their name underneath, then promptly blamed their younger brother for the ‘writing on the wall’ despite the fact said brother was only eighteen months and could barely draw a circle let alone a person and their name! 
I’ve enjoyed watching them grow immensely, changing from cute, angelic, sleeping babies, to mischievous little girls and boys, to creative children and teenagers…to adults that amaze me…
I love the way their cognitive abilities develop, I love watching them work things out…I love how their minds work, and sometimes wish I could regain the simplicity of a child! 
For me family and motherhood is about growing together and becoming better people. Encouraging them to be happy, to aim high and to work hard is what it’s all about. My most favourite thing about being a mother is the relationship and friendship that develops. Though I am stalwart about being a mother first before a friend…I know that as adults my children will be my closest friends. Developing bonds, long conversations, long walks and time together…top my list for the best things about motherhood.
(A mother) discovers with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children, but because of the friendships formed while raising them.
(Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
 (Title quote by Lisa T. Shepherd)
(Please do not use or reproduce any photographs of my children Thankyou)

Twentieth Anniversary Celebration…

Twenty years ago I married the man I love with all my heart…it was a wonderful day and I love my memories!

But…I was young and naive and we were short of cash…and we would have changed a few things if we’d had the chance. Our invitations were typewritten postcards, couldn’t afford posh stationary, and the reception left a fair bit to be desired! I wish we’d gone with the traditional idea of having the reception catered for by the women of the church, I’ve seen it work so well! We didn’t, and we weren’t happy with the catering, but I was too young and shy to object. So when Vince and I talked about having a twentieth wedding anniversary celebration, I wanted to do it my way! 
First came the invitations, many were sent out on a Facebook event page, but I also designed my own and had them printed…

I loved them, the roses were an almost exact match for the Jacaranda roses I had for my wedding bouquet! Thus our colour scheme was set…

My dress was the same colour, Bekah chose red and Caitlin wore lilac, beautiful jewel colours! Vince’s tie matched my dress and Dan’s was red. I bought reams and reams of ribbons in the same colours and twisted them to make decorations, the cake was covered in berries of the same colours. The sweetie jar was filled with red and purple sweets, and the glowsticks were red, lilac and blue! 
It rained on the day, but it didn’t dampen our spirits! 
So, the invitations looked good, and to rectify the food and drink served at our original reception (spicy food and concentrated carbonated apple juice…I barely ate anything and that wasn’t from wedding nerves!) we went for desserts and lots of them! Trifles, cheesecakes, gateaux, pavlova, eclairs, cupcakes and much more! And we drank Schloer in all its varieties…

The plasma ball and glowsticks went down like a house on fire, and we decided to have some fun with competitions! Guess how many sweets in the jar, a selection of twenty photos to guess our ages, and a list of twenty questions to see how much everyone knew about us! We didn’t realise how difficult it is to guess ages of people from photographs!
We chose to begin by sharing twenty ‘Expressions of Love’, memories and things we love about each other then we played twenty songs for each of our years together! It was great to feel relaxed, something we didn’t feel at our reception, (we were too keen to get away) to dance and just to have fun!
We loved our party, which incorporated my fortieth birthday too, I hadn’t had a party of any kind since I was about eight-years-old, so it was fulfilling in many ways! I loved my dress, I loved the music and the desserts, I loved all my friends and most of all I love (in the present tense) my husband too…♥

Tall, taller, tallest…

How many of you get that patronising pat on the head from your kids as they overtake you in the height stakes?

Bekah shot past me a couple of years ago and I finally had to concede to Dan today. I am now the shortest in my family bar one, little Caitlin…

Now I’m not exceptionally short, I’m 5’5″ and always been happy with it, still am…but my children are all going to be taller than me!

Bekah hopes she’s peaked at 5’9″ and we’re waiting to see if, or maybe when, Dan catches up with Vince and his older sister. Bekah shot up at 15 and 16 and Dan’s following in the same fashion. Caitlin is keen to be taller and her time will come…

Vince was chatting about height recently and discovered an interesting theory…

Apparently…if you take the height of a child when they are two-years-old and double it, you’ll have their eventual grown-up height…

Fascinating…and how could you not check that out? So I dug out the childrens’ records and a tape measure.

I ran my finger down my handwritten height records and noted that Rebekah was 87cm at two-years-old…double that and she should be 174cm. So the tape measure unrolled and guess what, dead on 5’9″.

Quickly we checked Dan, 91cm which meant he should reach 182cm (5′ 11¾”) just short of six foot. 
Caitlin measured 86cm when she was two, so ultimately she should grow to 172cm, one inch less than Bekah at 5’8″. As a result of this Bekah should now have reached her final height…which she would be pleased about, and I can deduce that I should have been 82½cm at two years.

All in all it’s a thought-provoking theory…and one that will prove or disprove itself over time, but sounds like a pretty good guide to me!

        Rebekah 1995                           Daniel 1997                           Caitlin 2002
So these cute little two-year-olds above will all grow-up and tower above their mother!
‘For a tree to become tall it must grow 
tough roots among the rocks.’
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

(Please do not copy or use these photographs)

Loving Hands…

I love hands for many reasons…creativity, the ability to hold things, expressiveness. Hands can have a calming influence, think massage and caresses…they can protect, and they are mechanically amazing!

I loved drawing my hands when I was doing my GCSE’s…(not so keen on drawing my feet though!)

My father has big, strong hands…hands that made me feel safe no matter what. In fact, it was straight into his hands that I was delivered as a newborn baby…

When I was a child I loved slipping my hand into his and feeling his fingers close around mine with warmth and security. His hands, though calloused and scratched at times, were always soft and smooth and comforting. It was his hands that blessed me when I was sick, held mine while I cried and taught me the principles that I should live by. I loved that his hands always held my mother’s.

When I first met Vince, I shook his hand, a month later that hand took mine and led me onto the dance floor, from that moment I didn’t want to let go…

The strength of his hands and forearms are the most attractive part of a man to me…
I love being held, and hand-holding is a universal way of showing affection. When two people walk side by side and their hands search for each other and take hold, don’t let go of the feeling that ensues…that rush of love and closeness…

If you ever get lonely, 
look at the spaces between your
fingers and remind yourself 
that mine fit in there perfectly. 
My husband’s hands are like my father’s, large and firm… I smile when our fingers touch and when his hand holds mine I feel as though I am where I belong. His hands hold mine when I need comfort and assurance, they help me when I’m burdened, they guide me when I need it and catch me when I fall. 
More than that they do the same for our children…
The most beautiful thing in the world is to watch your child walk hand in hand with their father…
Photograph: Two Hands by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
I hope my girls seek out a man with strong hands, hands that work hard, that comfort, that teach and love…
My son is a hand-holder, an affectionate young man, with hands that are growing and learning. I love holding his hand and take pride that he is not ashamed to do so! I love watching my son grow…his hands are no longer the hands of a boy, but have an assuredness and firmness of a young man. Hands that I know will cherish and love in the future…hands that will hold newborns, hands that will bless his family, hands that will teach and lift and inspire…
I love hands…