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Team Honk Red Nose Day Danceathon

Since 2012 I am part of this amazing blogger community.

They have seen me through my lowest points and they have spurred me on to become a writer of grief and joy and the in-betweens.

But bloggers do more than blogging. They change lives through their deliberate acts of support and they do it in the funniest of ways too!

Last year, I followed in awe the dedicated and fun Honk Team in their bloggers’ relay adventure from Lands End to John O’Groats, to raise over £30k for Comic Relief. I pledged I will join in the following year.

And I am! I am joining in the effort of trying to raise £100K as bloggers and as part of the Honk Team!

PART-OF-TEAM-HONK1This year, there will be a six-hour danceathon taking place in the Wembley Arena on Sunday the 8th of March, with over 2000 participants, of which 500 places have been reserved for the amazing Team Honk.

As you know, we lost our precious Georgie last July and ever since, my energy has been at the lowest it has ever been. But Emma and I will support the team from our living room, in colourful tutus and dancing our hearts out for as long as our legs will hold us on the 8th of March. All in the name and the precious memory of our boy, who loves colour and music and jiggling about! Tune in on the day on our Instagram to see us celebrating life in the name of a little bright boy.

My goal is to raise £500 as part of Team Honk for Comic Relief. This sum could help 10 young carers in the UK to benefit from a well-deserved break or could pay for 10 girls, living in a Kenyan slum, to do an apprenticeship and gain vital, life-changing skills and knowledge.

Out of this, Betfair has already pledged £150, so I am aiming at raising, between now and the 8th of March the rest of £350.

If you would like to support our brilliant team of bloggers and give some children in great need a helping hand, here is the Team Honk link where you can do it!

Thank you and stay tuned for a fun dancing day in March :-)!

P.S.- do check out the sidebar to get a taster!

Reality check

We have been living a lie, as a community of “believers.”

We have become lazy in challenging the beliefs that are being shoved into us.

We have trusted trends of Christianity and have put miles between us and the Truth.

If we go back in history, church didn’t start from the need of a social club. From the need to “have a group to identify with.” To meet up once or twice a week and be nice to each other over a cup of tea and a lukewarm sermon.

Church started out of pain.

Pain of Jesus on the cross.

Pain of children losing their families to persecution and lions.

Pain of losing social status over following Jesus.

Pain was always in the plan.

This has been my revelation this weekend.

Only the church grew out of pain.

At some point, it actually started causing pain.

Crusades and such.

It never stopped after that.

It took different shapes and it was called different names.

And then, pain and death become associated with punishment, since it had been used as punishment for not belonging.

We explained His death and pain away.

We removed pain from the picture.

We became paranoid with pain.

Anything that is excluded, ignored and unexplained grows into fear.

So, from pain being part of the story, pain became the part of the story we pretended never existed.

Yes, Jesus died IN PAIN but for some ridiculous reason, we decided we should be exempt from pain.

Actually, we twisted the story so much that we became convinced we are entitled to a pain-free existence.

And we then declared a pain-free existence a blessing.

So, here we are, in our own mess.

We have replaced the Blessing, who came to us in the most abject of conditions, lived in humble conditions and died in pain with a Gospel of fake blessings and foolishness.

Church, it’s time to wake up!

Remember what you were called to do and promised as a reward.

You were called to be a blessing and you were promised heaven.

You were not called to “blessings” and promised heaven on earth.

Go back to the beginning.

Acknowledge that pain was always meant to be part of the plan.

And that the only good news is that one day, in Heaven, He will take all our pain away.

This is our reality.

Can we face it or will we resort to recreating parallel realities?

Pain

Reflections (from a five year old)

Emma loves music, dancing and arts. In consequence, “The sound of Music” gets viewed quite often in our household, many times for days, on repeat :-).

Tonight, she came in the kitchen after she finished watching it and she was full of questions.

She wanted to know why the Von Trapps didn’t stay to pick up their prize in the music competition. When you are five, competitions are exciting, winning is compulsory and refusing a prize is incomprehensible.

How do you explain the Holocaust to a five year old?

I proceeded to tell her about Austria and its honest and decent people. About Hitler and his bad deeds. About some people in Austria refusing what a bad man was trying to make them do and become.

Emma pondered. To my precocious and perspicacious little girl, discriminating against people because of their origin, colour of skin or affiliation seemed aberrant.

The questions became deep. Very deep.

Mummy, who gave this man the power? Who made him a “king”?

I tried to avoid the obvious. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t say God.

But she found the answer herself. And then, she came up with the explanation:

I think, mummy, that God made people to be all good. But some people choose to use their power to be bad.

I could only agree. I sat down. I had to listen to the wisdom of this beautiful little soul.

Why do people become bad, mummy?

Again, I didn’t want to burden her soul. But she knew. Of course she knew.

I think it is because of how their mummies and daddies are with them.

What do you, mean, my love?

When a child is told he is bad, mummy, he becomes bad.

I had to ask more. I needed to know how deep this runs into my little girl. The Truth.

Emma, do you miss Georgie sometimes?

No, mummy. I think of him sometimes. I think of him in Heaven. I imagine him smiling and running around. Playing football. Passing the ball to all these other children there.

Wow.

Just wow.

My girl never heard me talking about the vision I had of Georgie the other week. But my girl knows.

She knows where her brother is.

And she understands the world profoundly.

And she now knows that sometimes, losing what is rightly yours  is better than not doing what is right.

The Sound Of Music

Tonight, I should have…

Tonight, I should have been busy wrapping presents for my soon-to-be one year old boy.

Tonight, I should have tucked my boy safely in his cot, having rocked him softly to sleep, having caressed his sweet cheeks and having kissed his sleepy eyes.

Tonight, I should have stayed up late making sure the birthday cake is decorated, the cards are bought and the party venue is ready for him.

Tonight, I should have counted my blessings up to two. A girl…and a boy…A gentleman’s family…My dream come true.

Tonight, I should have gone to bed with dreams and hopes for a little boy who will grow into a reliable, loving and gentle young man.

Instead…

Instead, my house is quiet but my heart is in turmoil.

Instead of running after an active nearly-one year old, I stare into empty space, desperate for someone little to fill my arms.

Instead of making future plans, I make survival plans.

Instead of cake and joy and silliness there is pain and loneliness and anger.

995633_10151830218596512_59015378_nMany of you, kind people, have offered to be with us tomorrow, on Georgie’s birthday. But we have chosen to spend it privately and quietly, just like we did his funeral.

But if you feel the need to celebrate Georgie’s life, please take a moment tomorrow and light a candle in his memory.

Write him a few lines and post them here or on his Facebook page.

Draw him a picture.

Buy his a little cake and let your kids blow the candle off, like Emma will with ours.

Donate a few quid to a cancer charity.

Remember him. Don’t let his pain and death be in vain. Don’t let the veil of time fall over the memories and dull them into forgetfulness.

Let your smile shine, just like his did. Let it light this world and make it a tiny bit better. Even for a second.

10364056_10152023112966512_1808747011739674804_nI wish I were wiser and braver, little man.

I wish I were stronger and say that I see the good in what happened to you.

I wish I could be able to be thankful for your short existence instead of resenting God for taking you away from us.

I wish you were here.

Yes, I am sure the cakes in heaven are sweeter, the love is grander and the party is magnificent.

But I would have wished you could see the little cake we bought for you and play with the boy toys you should have received on your first birthday.

You should have had both.

A life here and an eternity there.

I miss you.

Plainly and painfully.

January health product review

January is always a “blah” month, wellbeing experts say. The holiday letdown, the extra weight accumulated during Christmas, the dark evenings and cold days, the New Year resolutions that we weren’t able to keep, they all lead to low moods.

This year, we were lucky enough to be sent a number of health products to review, all aiming to give us more energy, keep us in good form and combat those January blues.

We have been avid consumers of vitamin C since we travelled to New York a few years back and we were told by a friend and expert in alternative medicine to “abuse” the use of vitamin C before and  after our long flights. “One every hour, on the hour” proved to be precious advice and kept us energised and virus-free. So when I was asked to review the new Californian vitamin mix drink Emergen-C , I jumped at the opportunity.

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We were generously sent a mixture of the Super Orange and the Juicy Strawberry effervescent drinks which I put to use almost straight away since I was suffering from a nasty cold.

The press release that accompanied the products sounded extremely promising, with distinct American-style slogans, like “hit sensation”, “making you feel like walking on sunshine” and “loveable personality.”

What did I think of it (and, most importantly, have I seen the benefits of using Emergen-C?):

1. I certainly enjoyed the taste, like the press release had promised. We usually don’t prioritise on taste when buying vitamins but if you have an older child who can’t take tablets (like my Emma) or refuses to drink anything unsweetened, this is the answer for you.

2. I felt better after taking them for a couple of days and my cold eased significantly. Do I put this down to the “impressive mix of 15 key nutrients”? I can’t be 100% but I would say they did no harm, for sure.

3. Price-wise, they compete honorably with similar brand products: a pack of 16 sachets sells between £3.79-£3.99 online, in all health stores and main supermarkets, like Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

All in all, pleasant taste, fair price and most importantly, a lift in the mood and easing of cold symptoms.

The second product we were asked to review this January was the very popular at the moment  Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder.

Promising “all day energy with increase focus”, “a metabolism boost”, “137x the antioxidants of brewed green tea” and “improved skin health” the Matcha sounded very appealing to me after a month of overindulging and subsequent skin issues and energy slumps.

I decided to go for the culinary grade one, as I wanted to be able to add it into our baking and our smoothies in the morning.

Both Alex and I loved the subtle taste and flavour it adds to our smoothies. We use it regularly now but we are yet to try it in coffee, as an additional energy boost or in our baking, as flavour.

Would I recommend the Matcha, which retails on Amazon at £18.00 per 113 gram bag as a “cure it all” panacea?

Unlikely.

Would I recommend it as a pleasant powder that can be added to your drinks and baking with the scope of improving the taste?

Most certainly.

A third review product, the last but definitely not the least in my list of favourites is the Dragonfly Tea.

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This is not the first time I have tried the beautiful Dragonfly Tea. Back in August, shortly after Georgie’s death, I found anything dragonfly very meaningful. The Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice had a dragonfly wall in front of their chapel, a precious set of images aimed to help siblings understand death at an early age. So when I went one day on Instagram and saw someone’s picture of their Dragonfly tea, I knew I had to have some. To remind me of my own beautiful and precious little Dragonfly.

Why do I love the product?

1. “Dragonflies are symbols of purity, vitality and harmony the world over. They love sunlight and clear fresh water. We believe that these qualities are essential for a truly great cup…” Good philosophy, excellently observed in the quality and the variety of teas provided by the company.

2. Excellent prices, most 20 tea bag boxes sell for £2.00 on the website.

3. An amazing variety, bound to satisfy any taste and preference. I love them all equally, the discovery teas, the rooibos varieties, the herbal and the black.

4. The individual touches. I love, love, love the little individual tags that each tea bag comes with. It is an extra pleasure, added to an already excellent brew:

10932429_313443475520904_247310423_nWould I recommend the tea and the company?

Most definitely! The delivery is prompt, the prices are more than fair and the tea is beautiful!

What have you been trying this month, to keep those blues at bay?

I support Ashers…AND gay “rights”

If you follow us on Instagram, you’d have noticed that for the past couple of Saturdays the   little girl and I have enjoyed beautiful breakfasts at Ashers, a local bakeshop. And just in case you missed our pictures, here is what I am talking about :-) :

10533290_765397040175300_2056103182_nThe pancakes are freshly made, the bacon is beautifully flavoursome and the coffee is generously provided. AND everything is reasonably priced as well.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you’d know that Ashers have been in the news lately over what the press has come to call “the gay marriage cake row.

Did I start supporting Ashers because of the row?

Yes and no.

Yes, I went in to try their products last week and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and the friendly service.

Do I continue to go because I want to make a political or human right statement?

NO.

I go because I love their food and I think they should stay in business on account of the quality of their services. I also go because I don’t see the point in destroying the reputation of a perfectly good store over an incident.

Be it gay or not gay.

On the other hand, I support the gay “rights.”

Now, hear me out on this one.

REALLY careful and don’t twist my words.

I am not gay. I do not encourage people to become gay. I do not condone immorality. You will not find me on the roads during a gay parade scantly clad and waving a little flag.

BUT you will hear me speak against stupidity and narrow-mindedness.

I will ROAR against pushing people away and segregating against them just because their genes are different than mine.

I DO NOT understand gay people. I DO NOT know why they feel attracted to the same sex. I DO NOT know what I will tell Emma when she will first notice a gay couple.

But does this mean I will not want any contact with gay people?

Does this mean I will class them as different, grotesquely different and make their life a hell?

NO.

NEVER.

I know how it feels to be different.

I know how it is to be told to step down, “to take my time”, to stay away, just because my questions and anger and sadness baffle and perplex. Make people uncomfortable. Shake people’s “faith.” Force people to ask uneasy questions to which there are no logical answers.

So, here I am.

I will support Ashers, as a damn good local business. It provides jobs for the wee local girls. Keeps them out of trouble. Gives them a reason to wake up in the morning. Puts bread on a number of local families’ tables.

I will support the gay, in the same time, as a community of lonely people, who had no choice in the way they feel, who need heard and loved and accepted.

Does that make sense?

I am sure it does, if you listen to your heart. Acceptance and love always make sense over bigotry and hate and narrow-mindedness.

Go embrace someone whom you wouldn’t normally.

If you are gay, go have lunch in Ashers.

If you are straight and prejudiced against gay, bereaved and other “abnormal” minorities, go hug one from the other “camp.”

Have a lovely Sunday.

:-)