Fairness and loyalty

These are two very big words, fairness and loyalty. Two very big words we would love our children to learn the meaning and appreciate the value of. Easier said than done, you would tell me, especially if you are a conscious parent who is aware of the realities of the world we live in. 097Teaching about fairness and loyalty goes against the grain of what the society is teaching our children from when they are babies. The strongest gets the toy, if mummy isn’t there to watch out. The loudest one gets the attention most of the time, if the presence of a responsible grown-up isn’t there to mediate the conflict.

My Emma is no different from any five year old girlie out there. She wants to be the best, the fastest, the prettiest girl of them all. She thrives on praise and would do anything to get herself noticed. Nothing wrong so far. But I have noticed that as she get older and is exposed to more TV and outside influences, the more self-absorbed she has become. Selfish, not in the mean and nasty way, but self-caring nevertheless.

I have always tried to make her aware of other people’s existence and feelings. She does recognise situations when she is in the wrong now and says sorry for “hurting your feelings, mummy!” But the next step for me now is to help her grow empathy for her friends, especially in situations when they have a conflict of interests.

She has started school this year and has grown her circle of friends. But she has also become aware of children whose behaviour, appearance or demenour makes them less popular with the majority. And it has been challenging for me but oh, so worth my mummy job title, to help her step in their shoes and see the world through their eyes.

“Mummy, that little girl I was telling you about yesterday, mummy, she has hit my friend again, mummy!”” “Why, my love?” “Because she is a baddy, mummy!” “No, my love, no one is a baddy at this age, she must have felt sad and lonely. What happened before she hit?” “We told her she can’t play with us, mummy.” “Why, my love?” “Because she calls us names, mummy.” “Why do you think she does that, my love? And what would you do if the girls you like tell you you can’t play with them?” “I would cry, mummy.” “Well, my love, her name calling is the way she shows her feelings are hurt. It’s the way she cries for attention.” Thinking pause…”I didn’t know that, mummy. I will tell her she can play with us tomorrow before she gets sad.” Learning to look beyond the polished surface. Evaluating things in their complexity. Appreciating people for what they expose to us, not only what they let us see. Being fair to others and understanding their need for security.

I was very impressed to learn that one bank is trying to break the mould and make a difference by offering their existent customers a fair and loyal service. The NatWest Hello campaign aims at keeping its existent customers content by making them aware of a missed payment before charging them a fee and by keeping the ISA rates level, for both new and existing customers. No favoritism and unfair play to other banks by attracting their customers with bogus starter offers but an internal policy aimed at providing loyal customers the best deals!

No fake offers of “security” in exchange for custom but a recognition of the innate need we all have as human beings: to be treated respectfully. To be heard. To be given a sense of recognition and security even when we have been customers for a while, even when our bank balance is low, even when we do what all human beings do, fail. At making a payment. At filling it with much needed and profitable cash.

Making life real, not only pretty offers which will be withdrawn as soon as we join, like in the video below:

It gives me a glimmer of hope, this new NatWest initiative. It makes me feel a bit happier about Emma growing up in a world that is not only focused on the sensational and rewarding the novelty factor. I want her to grow in a world that is still passing on “traditional” values like respect for the elders, loyalty to your friends, compassion for the weaker, understanding for challenging behaviours.

In a world where the banks have been blamed for the worst, it is refreshing to see a bank initiative focusing on improvement at ground level.

Much appreciated, NatWest!

I’m working with BritMums and NatWest on this project and have been compensated to write this post but all opinions expressed are my own. 

World Vision: A Night of Hope

Last year was the first year I blogged about the World Vision initiative, a night of hope. I found it important, at a time when the children in our privileged world stuff themselves with treats and have fun pretending to experience fear, to remember the ones for whom fear is a daily fact and occurrence.

World Vision has kindly invited me to be part of their yearly Night of Hope Halloween campaign. This year the focus is the Syrian children and we are all invited to carve a heart in a pumpkin thinking of them, write them a letter telling them we care and make a donation to show them our support.

So, here is my picture and my letter:

10731459_742206259168669_207750622_n“Dear little ones,

I am so, so sorry for the hard times we have been having. I am sooo sorry you had to see things you were never meant to see.

If only I could, I would give you all a tight hug. If only I had the power, I would rewind the time and put you back into your homes, along with your parents and siblings. If only I could, I would stop the violence and make your world ok again.

I am a mummy too, a mummy who has lost a precious boy. Not to human meanness, not to war atrocities but to illness.

So I understand pain. I understand sorrow. And I also know what a difference a small gesture of kindness can make in a gloomy world.

I have another child, a four-year old girl who loves children. She has heard about you all and has helped her daddy carve a heart, showing our love for you, into our seasonal pumpkin. I am sure you don’t have the pumpkin habit in your country. You probably feed them to the hungry animals. But here, we use them to decorate our homes. And this year, we will use ours to remember you all, say a prayer for you and send you a small token of our love.

Be blessed, little ones, be blessed with joy and peace and healing!”

If you want to join in the initiative, all you need to do is text HEART to 70060 to donate £5 to help make Syrian children’s lives a little brighter.

See below how you money will make a difference:

Brioche Pasquier Autumn Picnic

Back in October we were privileged to be picked by Brioche Pasquier to sample and write a review about their lovely milk chocolate rolls and brioche sliced loaf. They were also extremely kind to send us a voucher so we can create an autumn picnic for the family.

The lovely offering came presented into a cute picnic basket and it arrived bang on time as we were heading out for a weekend away to Newcastle. Emma was absolutely thrilled with the chocolate rolls and devoured a good few before we even arrived at our destination!

10721071_10152287253221512_1658591759_nI sampled the brioche loaf the following morning and I found it delightful, reminding me of my mum’s Easter cakes, full of flavour and incredibly soft. I had it toasted with a cup of coffee, bliss!!

We came home and since Halloween was approaching I decided to use our Halloween molds to cut out cute shapes for Emma’s afternoon snack. Winner, once again, the loaf was perfect for shape cutting and Emma enjoyed her seasonal snack to the full!

10724706_749982905081376_694082518_nWe are heading away today so last night I made use of our gifted Sainsbury’s voucher and recreated another lovely picnic. Have a wee look at the bounty of goodies:

10613029_10152331504841512_4192641522794850242_nThank you, Tots100 and Brioche Pasquier for making our times away from home so very special and introducing us to a lovely and yummy range of products we will be buying time and again!

No next stage…

November should have been such a happy month in our household!

It is Emma’s birthday and she will be turning 5, which means it is time for me to start looking for deals on booster car seats((I found a good range on Tesco Direct).
Today, Georgie should have been nine months too.

At five, Emma gets to move into a “big girl” car seat, which she has been looking forward to forever!
At nine months Georgie would have progressed in to his toddler car seat, the group 1, front facing, easier to make eye contact with mummy one.

I have been pretty good at avoiding things that make my heart sore.

I have found myself avoiding baby clothing websites and nappy aisles as soon as he passed away. But the car seat remains a landmark in my mind, seared in my memory.

Emma gets to move on, as any child should naturally do. She has grown so fast over the summer and fits well into 5 to 6 year old clothes and shoes.
Georgie should have been here now too. He should have grown into the next car seat, the one I have lovingly kept and had ready for him. He should have progressed, developed, evolved and not remain at a forever 5 and a half months mark.

It grates at me, like a million other small but significant details, milestones, dates, reminders.
It makes me happy, hopeful, sad and angry and at the same time, seeing Emma grow and develop into such a little madam and knowing that the memories I have of Georgie will be forever static, forever the same.

It is one of those things I will have to learn to live with, I suppose. Not having my baby here comes a web of ramifications and a million of stings and reminders: nappy aisles, car seats, unused toys, clothes he will never grow into and holidays he will never enjoy are only a few things that are still hard, so very hard to get my head around.

I choose to go on living for Emma’s sake, I choose to enjoy living because of my surviving child but part of my heart will stay forever bruised, forever sore because a beautiful baby boy is not here to do the very same.

Disclaimer: we were offered a small incentive in order to mention Tesco in the post. I am not selling my grief, I am trying to live with what has been handed to us.


31 Days of Grief: Explorative Gratitude

Where am I in my grieving journey and how do I practice gratitude each day?

I am at the beginning, this is all I know. I do feel at times I am in totally uncharted territory. Grief is a deeply personal journey in which you have to allow yourself to go down deep into your emotions in order to find your way out.

I do have days when I think avoiding pain would be easier. But then I also know that I am only cheating myself. Pain is there and avoiding it will only make the outburst more violent, as pain was not meant to be held in. Pain was not meant to be. Full stop.

So I try and grieve a bit each day. Release those pent up emotions as they surge. Talk about them. Cry about my loss. Write a blog post. Shout at God.

It feels almost like looking for the pain in your heart, pulling it out from where it is hiding, the dark corners in which it is most comfortable, and bringing it to light. So that I might live. So that I can learn to live with it, exposed and raw and ugly as it is.

And I am grateful each day. For sunshine. For coffee. For friends. For family. For seasons. For change. For Heaven. For Jesus.

Some days, I need to look for those reasons to be grateful, along with the pain. Drag them out into the light as well.

Some days, even being alive and breathing is reason enough to be grateful.

Some days, it is hard, almost impossible to see any good in the day.

But then, I see Emma. I remember Georgie’s smile. I find the strength to decorate the house for Halloween.

And life carries on.

In its tangled mess of emotions, of pain and sorrow and gratitude and joy, all rolled up together in a big, huge ball of…me.

The light and dark coexist in a grieving parent's heart.

                                                 The light and dark coexist in a grieving parent’s heart.


31 Days of Grief: Community vs. Retreat

I am running behind with this writing challenge so I will most likely write in clusters of two from now on, especially since we will be travelling to Greece this weekend and will be away the whole Halloween week.

Last week we remembered, as a community of bereaved parents, our lost children. It was a bitter sweet evening, seeing the Internet light up with candles and the realisation that so many beloved souls are away, waiting for us in Heaven.

We also took Saturday evening to spend with local bereaved families, get to know them and their surviving children and remember together our babies, gone too soon. I am so grateful for this community to which we were only introduced this September and I am so thankful that we do not have to do this journey alone. The pain of losing a child is terrible but carrying the burden alone is equally painful. I am also grateful for the fact that Emma has found friends among the children present there and she now understands that we are not alone in having lost a precious baby.

10703651_10152307465366512_63361641477484324_nLast weekend proved very emotional for me. Then came the two unkind emails I wrote about. So this past weekend I decided to shut off completely. I didn’t go to church, I didn’t get out of bed early on Sunday, I spent Saturday afternoon in complete bed rest and I ate a lot of crap. Time to recoup, regain strength, look after myself.

This doesn’t mean my mind has had a rest but. The reality of our baby gone too soon is always there. It’s just that some days I need to be left alone with my pain.

Mummy loves you, Baba Boo. She never stopped loving you, thinking of you, missing you, wishing you were here! You are always here, in my thoughts, in my heart, in my empty arms! Love you, now and forever more, Georgie boy!


Silent Sunday-19/10/2014



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