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Brilliance in Blogging Award Nomination 2015

I have been told numerous times since Georgie died that I am a brilliant writer.

I don’t think I am, to be honest.

I am just honest and true and my writing is raw many times.

I write to heal. I heal by writing.

But now, I have a favour to ask.

I have asked my Facebook friends last week and now it is time to extend the invitation to you, my lovely and supportive blog readers.

If you do think my writing is any good and it deserves noticing, would you vote for me in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards?

BiB2015x350nomwriterThe writer section stands at number 8 and this are the details you need in order to complete it:

Blog Name: Mama’s Haven

Blog URL: http://mamashaven.com/

Blogger’s Twitter ID: https://twitter.com/MamasHaven

Blogger’s email: oanachi@yahoo.com

Why do you feel this blogger deserves to win the blogger award?: Your choice of words!

URL of your favourite post from the blog: Any of my posts. My most recent is this: http://mamashaven.com/2015/03/22/mothers-day-2015/

Thank you very much!

If I win or even if my blog gets a mention in the awarding process, it will be all thanks to you!xx

Mother’s Day 2015

I meant to write this post last week but as I said in my last post, things have been busy.

Shortly before Christmas, we spent a weekend in Daisy Lodge, Cancer Fund for Children’s retreat base.

11055673_693129500799535_1951680353_nAs a recently bereaved family, we found the experience energizing and soothing, the place a safe haven, like nothing else in this world and the staff amazingly intuitive, discreet and caring.

We managed to made friends, good friends, with other bereaved families who were visiting at the same time.

A second invitation, for Mother’s Day weekend, was very much appreciated and all three of us really looked forward to resting, recharging our batteries and reconnecting with people we have come to call friends.

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for a bereaved mother. Any day carries the potential of memory triggers, of painful reminders, of nightmarish “whys” and “ifs.”

But Mother’s Day is guaranteed to trigger strong emotional responses to the loss of a child. Memories of cards received in the years past. Or the pain of realisation that cards, flowers, scribbles and awkward but sweet attempts of making breakfast will never happen, like in our case.

It could have been a very painful day, spent in the wrong environment, with the wrong expectations and suffocated by the flood of mother homages that will never come from my baby boy.

But being in Daisy Lodge felt right.

We were patients suffering of the same heartache who for two and a half days could put our defenses down, our “normality” forgotten and be ourselves.

We laughed and we cried and we spent loads of time together, talking about our little ones.

We compared grieving notes and finally felt “normal” and relieved to hear that there are other parents who feel, act and think exactly like us.

We healed together.

We were, for a beautiful weekend, a community. A community we would have never chosen to be part of but of which we are now coming to appreciate the support and existence.

And just like this picture that the little girls made, we felt the mess of our pain and the randomness of being chosen as the families to suffer loss, becoming a unique piece of art, pain and joy and hope for the future woven together.

1963129_639834789449451_1421055258_nWe enjoyed being looked after. We appreciated the beautiful flowers we received on Mother’s Day. We valued the time and the permission we were given to pause, to meditate, to draw from our experiences and to create:

11015583_865987930114042_1736137046_n But most of all, as mothers, we appreciated the opportunity to mention our little ones, the ones whom we cannot easily mention in the real world, because the mention causes discomfort.

And the permission we were given to reestablish publicly what our hearts know secretly, every minute of every day.

That our precious children are gone but their memory will stay forever, not only with us as their parents but also with all these other families who are coming to know and love them through us and our stories:

11005134_1557125787870472_1374483362_nWe are still a family of four and we will forever be missing a precious little boy whom Heaven robbed us of too soon.

Mother’s Day was an occasion to remember what a precious treasure we were given for a short while and a reminder that love never perishes, not even in death…

Grief on the back burner

I have been busy.

I have been happily busy.

We have been travelling around the country, seeing new and beautiful places.

I have been working with children and enjoyed every day of it.

I have been spending quality time with my daughter, creating precious memories and having loads of learning experiences and fun together.

But in my busyness, I neglected my grief.

And I am back to not sleeping.

And back to nightmarish dreams.

I don’t dream with my boy but I dream myself in situations that highly frustrate me.

The last one was being in a dilapidated house full of rubbish and cockroaches and piled up high with junk.

And I was there with nothing to tackle the mess.

Feeling completely enraged, frustrated, hopeless.

I have been ignoring my grief but I have done myself no favours.

It is pure rubbish what people say,

that God heals all the wounds with a magic wand,

that if you “put your baby to rest and allow his soul to float to heaven”

that if you ignore your heart’s pull to sit down and just be with your memories and your pain,

that things will get better.

They don’t.

Reality checks are necessary.

No.

They are mandatory.

I miss my son.

I am still very angry for losing him.

I do not care that the number of my “friends” has halved in the last few months.

I NEED to remain true to myself

and to the memory of my son.

I am a bereaved mum.

Carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I am not okay.

I am still extremely vulnerable,

extremely forgetful,

easily stressed.

Cause the death,

the death of a son,

is not to be taken lightly

and does not heal in eight and a half months.

I fell on the grief path.

But it is time to pick myself up and carry on with my journey,

remaining down will mean I am a coward

and it will mean I have betrayed the responsibility I was given.

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Bedtime Routines For Young Children

girl-511878_640Every parent will attest to, at some point during their children’s lives, having problems getting them to bed. Tantrums, midnight wake-up calls, early mornings; there are a fair few issues that can result from a child receiving too little sleep, and these can have knock on effects, harming your child’s physical and intellectual development. Luckily however, there are a number of ways you can negate these bugaboos, instilling a healthy, positive bedtime routine for your child that will utterly transform your experience of bedtime!

Begin Early

Don’t wait until your child’s first yawn of the evening to set off on the road to bedtime. Young children will often feel hyperactive or grumpy when they are feeling tired thanks to the brain releasing wakeful hormones that serve to keep the body running during what the brain conceives as an incorrect time to go to sleep – if you were to spend your own time before bed in front of computer or smartphone screens you’d experience the same effect. As such, start an hour before the point at which you know your child is going to start feeling physically tired. This will also have the effect of setting a clear ‘deadline’ for your child’s bedtime.

A Comfy Bed

Part of the reason your child might not be sleeping well at night or fighting your efforts to put them to bed might stem from their beds being uncomfortable. If mattress springs are awry or if the duvet is flat or misshapen, there’s no need to be afraid of the potential costs; head online to a discounted retailer such as Bedstar. Internet stores are often far cheaper than their bricks-and-mortar brethren, and often run clearance sales that can really go a long way to reducing costs.

Take a Bath

Warm water and steam can effortlessly make the human body feel more relaxed and calm, so think about giving your child a bath for ten or fifteen minutes at the start of the routine. Let them know in advance that it’s going to happen, so as not to excite or surprise them, and pop bubbles and toys in and around the tub to make the bath more fun for the child and less of a chore. There’s lots of other ideas out there on the net too, if the above don’t strike a chord with your child.

Read a Story

As well as being a lovely bonding moment between you and your child, reading a story together in bed also helps wind down your child before sleep begins. Let your child pick which they’d like to hear from a selection of calmer, more serene stories, pop some calm music on and cuddle up in bed. You’ll find that your child is lulled into slumber slowly and gently, and soon enough you’ll have a calm, quiet evening all to yourself!

Disclaimer: Blog post written in collaboration with Parents, a prestigious and informative site aimed at every parent out there.

On Death

I have been talking a lot about death this week.

And to me, that is natural now. I do not talk about death in a morbid and obsessive way, as some might think.

Death pops up in my conversations. In my blog posts. On my Facebook.

And since my son is dead, I do not mind talking about the subject.

It is my way of keeping my son alive, paradoxical as it may sound.

This week, Lexi, another beautiful bereaved mummy, agreed to publish Georgie’s story on her baby loss blog. Of course, death was part of the story, as it is part of every baby loss story on her website.

10653818_10152312531351512_9121330239410479642_nThis week, I had lunch with an amazing woman who had spent some of her youth nursing abandoned Romanian AIDS babies not back to health, as she would have wished but onto death. And of course, we talked about pain and death and the great privilege of looking after precious souls so close to their passing into eternity hour and the love we feel for them.

Yesterday, I exchanged emails with another recently bereaved mummy. And of course, we talked about our sons and their final days and their death and about the immense hole they left in our souls.

This week, I wrote about Heaven. And of course, the only way to get there is through death so my post was not very popular despite the fact that death was not mentioned as such.

I had one message though, that struck a cord with me following my blog post. It was about the need to talk about death more as a society. About how death news is received with blank stares and even blanker responses in church and how the bereaved are pushed in a corner instead of being allowed to express their grief and sorrow.

And then, this week, I was asked to teach for a few hours and one of the things we talked about was Easter week. And guess what? Death was in that story too, even in the Lego version we watched, so it can be age appropriate for the children:

I have not been able to listen to worship or hear sermons since before Christmas. They just do not align with what we saw and felt, our experience and our loss and it would feel extremely phony to stand there “worshiping” while my heart is drowning in questions.

But you know what I was able to do? I was able to watch the Easter story. And I did feel God whisper, ever so gently to my heart:

Now you understand. Now you know how it felt, losing a Son. Now we share the reality of loss, you and I.”

So maybe I won’t be able to worship Him. And maybe He does not even expect me to.

Because now, I worship Him in “spirit and in truth.” Now I really know how He must have felt in His spirit when Jesus died and I know the truth of death.

Thank you to each and every one of you who opened up to me this week and shared about your painful experiences and about the death of your loved ones.

I have felt as if we were worshiping God together in our sharing, in our rawness, in our pain.

True worship.

Because death was never meant to be and will never be the end of the story. It is just a part, an essential part of it but not the end.

Feel free to talk to me about your departed loved ones. Their stories need shared and heard and are to God as good an worship act as any.

Our loved ones were created by Him and are still very much in His heart, as they are in ours. Keeping them alive through reminiscing honours Him for the beautiful Creator that He is.

How Heaven will be like…

Thoughts of Heaven have been filling my head lately.

Following Georgie’s death, I deconstructed everything that I was told to believe in.

Slowly, slowly, a new perception and world view have emerged.

I have reconstructed the world through the prism of our loss.

The world needs to make sense to me as it stands now, a world where loss and pain are very real.

There is a word we have in Romanian, “dor”. A word very hard to translate.

It is more than missing.

It is more than yearning for someone.

It is that deep, deep longing in one’s heart that can never be satisfied once someone you love passes away.

I miss my son. I yearn for his presence. I long to be with him. My being is at times struck down, literally, with the burden of loss.

So Heaven as it was portrayed to me in church, as I was growing up, does not make sense anymore.

We were created unique and savagely independent and in need of expression.

So you know what I think?

That Heaven will be what we dream it to be, in our moments of quiet and reverie and peace.

Heaven will be…freedom. Freedom to be what we were created to be. Freedom to be what we longed to be all along. Freedom to be ourselves, in all our splendour.

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Heaven will be…long chats by the sea. Dinner parties with friends that will last for days. Dancing parties that will never exhaust us. Revealing ourselves for who we truly are with zero fear of rejection or misinterpretation or conflict. Complete harmony. Sentences that always find an end in each other’s hearts. Micro and macro community at its finest, its best, its most beautiful.

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Heaven will be…trips into the unknown. The unknown of ourselves and of the world. We are beautiful beings, infinite in creativity, ingenuity and depth of love. Heaven will be the awesome and continuous discovery of who we really are and what this world really is. Imagine, travelling without borders or need of passports or money…Endless, spontaneous, childish giddiness of discovery.

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Heaven will be…rest. Not so much physical rest but a metaphysical rest, the realisation that we have arrived, that feeling of it cannot get any better, rest in the sense of…well…peace.

Peace, deeply seated in our souls, peace, never ending, peace, overflowing.

No more striving need to achieve anything. No more torment. No more wishing for more.

A peace that our souls will know as the long sought after yearning we had while on earth.

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Heaven will be…home. It will be home as we know it or wish it or dream it in our hearts. For some, it will be quiet and serene. For others, loud and full of life and family and pets and light.

For me, Heaven will be being with the people I have loved. Heaven will be being always together, cooking and eating and laughing and cuddling and reading stories and loving each other into eternity.

And God will be there, overlooking it all, smiling on us all and our little bits of Heaven.

Heaven will be love never ending.

Never parting.

Never suffering.

Never saying goodbye, ever again…

10414614_10152066719506512_1124288673941180808_nImages, courtesy of Unsplash.

A weekend in Bray, county Wicklow

We are definitely enjoying our weekends together at the moment! To the point that we plan the following before the present is over, sort of thing :-).

We enjoyed our Armagh trip so much so that as soon as we got home, we had to book through our next one straight away, through Lidl breaks!

This time, it had to be the south of Ireland and Bray.

Alex has particularly enjoyed the challenge of putting together fun things we could do and this time, he had a whole list, bullet points and all! Very organised and much appreciated, as the homework saved us a lot of legwork and stress upon arrival and pointed us in the right directions.

10843726_333836060150800_475314412_nAccording to his well-documented research, Bray’s Saturday farm market was worth a visit so that is where we started.

11032802_1562375954046789_309373947_nAlex’s research was spot on accurate, loads of organic and sensibly priced local produce and lovely treats to be had! We loved the brand new, homemade hot chocolate stall: the Madagascar cocoa, the organic local milk and the flavoursome sugar made one of the best hot chocolates we had ever tasted! Even picky Emma couldn’t fault it and the lady running the business is a sweetheart too!

11015507_832203133519928_1207121_nWe left the market well supplied in goodies and ready for a walk on the beautiful Bray promenade, which was warm and sunny but a bit blustery, like the Dubliners themselves :-).

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11015490_1554531004808742_1396015101_nAfter loads of coffee and playtime in the park, it was time for more exploration.

Last weekend, we visited Armagh’s planetarium, this time, it had to be Bray’s aquarium :-).

I found the admission prices a bit steep, 11.50 euro per grown up and 8.50 euro per child but in the end, it was well worth it!

We were smiled at by piranhas, we petted starfish and sea urchins, admired the gracious dance of a playful seahorse and were nearly jumped upon by a curious stingray!

10296647_582209978590608_1666424337_nThe most mesmerising view was the massive sea water tank at the end, with the sharks and other big fish floating above us. It felt like another dimension, so quiet and serene and tranquil. I loved it, I could have sat there for hours to look at the fish dancing in circles of harmony.

11049131_436397113181404_459004676_nDinner was inspired by the visit and it had to be fish and chips :-).

We were given a tip about a local chippy and it did live to its reputation! The fish was absolutely gorgeous, fresh and plentiful and the batter crispy. And the chips were hand cut and downright tasty. Worth more than the 15 euro we paid for it, our lovely fish supper. The lady in the shop is worth a mention too, Alex went after closing time so she sacrificed her own dinner and let us enjoy a taste of authentic Bray. Much appreciated, thank you!

11032836_1079096622104314_648122979_nWe stayed in Wilton Hotel Bray. Our family room was huge but the decor a bit faded. Emma had great fun playing jungle huts and hide and seek games and the beds were comfortable and clean. Recommended for family stays as breakfast is varied and plentiful and the rooms cater for bigger families. Not recommended for romantic getaways or couple weekends away as the hotel is pretty basic in facilities and entertainment offers.

x5.jpg.pagespeed.ic.mrJGE-PX5SWe are back to Newcastle and Daisy Lodge next weekend, what are your Mother Day’s plans?