Latest Posts

Making the most of a gained hour…

uk-clock-backWe always crave for time, in our modern, fast-paced existences and always hear ourselves say things like, “if only I had an extra hour”…

Once a year, when the British summer time ends and clocks “go back”, we do actually get that extra hour and this year, Tempur have put together a wonderful list of suggestions of what we could be doing to make the most of that gained time.

When Emma was a baby and even a tot, not so very long ago, we used to dread that extra hour and envied the lucky people who didn’t have to wake up well before the crack of dawn and entertain a small child with snacks and children’s TV programs.

Now that Emma is a bit older, we let her stay up a bit later the previous night and then, we all get a mock sleep-in in the morning(well, 7.30 is a vast improvement from the 5.30 we used to get when she was younger!).

Inspired by the above list, this year I will aim to do things a bit differently with Emma and I will let her choose one of the activities herself, as a do together project on the 25th of October. I will be glad of the challenge as that Sunday will mark the beginning of her Halloween week break and we will be on the lookout for fun things to do as a family.

Please take a look at the infographic above and do tell me what would be your choice of activity to fill that extra hour that day?

Back to School Heroes

The schools have been back for almost a month and most our children have already been through their first set of school-related sickness or even worse, visit to the doctor or the pharmacist!

I have been sent all month of September things to try out with Emma, that would prevent some of the normal ailments and plagues children get once they return to school and into a germ-exchanging community, so to say :-).

Very high on my list is Picksan, NO LICE, a new lice preventative stray. I work in a school environment too so picking lice is a genuine concern at times.


 Fortunately , we were sent Picksan which is supposed to be a “natural and effective approach for preventing and treating head lice for your family.”

 NO LICE! Preventative Spray and LICE STOP Shampoo Treatment are natural and scientifically proven applications for preventing and treating head lice for the whole family, from children age 3 to adults.

In their press release, Picksan says “It’s well known that head lice are becoming increasingly resistant to synthetic and chemical products of late. However, research carried out by Professor Dr Mehlhorn from the Dusseldorf University, shows lice are less resistant to natural products like herbs and oils.

NO LICE! Preventative Spray and LICE STOP Shampoo Treatment have been used to treat head lice in Europe for over ten years.  Both products contain a unique blend of natural ingredients including the patented MelAza extract from the seed of the Neem tree.  Neem has been used in India for thousands of years as a treatment for head lice.

Whilst many parents are happy to use well-known brands of lice treatments containing powerful chemical ingredients to treat their children’s head lice, most aren’t comfortable using these harsh products as an ongoing, preventative treatment.

NO LICE! And LICE STOP are both priced at £8.95 for 100ml and are available from Holland & Barrett, Victoria Health and other independent health stores.

 NO LICE! and LICE STOP are both:


Personal verdict: I love the fact that these are natural products, that I do not have to worry about spraying Emma(and myself) with chemicals and that it pretty much works like a hair conditioner, no hassle! They also smell lovely and they do not leave one’s hair oily looking so it could easily be used in the morning, as part of the normal beauty routine, really!

Five starAnother product I know Alex will appreciate loads when we are in Greece and now Emma, when she goes swimming in public places, is Swim Seal, drops that are meant to prevent water causing painful ears. Alex suffers terribly, even when swimming in the sea, with painful ears and has been trying all sorts to prevent it every summer and I am sure he would love this solution, as it is supposed to be a “naturally protective barrier containing Australian tea tree oil.”


According to their website, SwimSeal is “the natural answer to preventing water-related ear problems” and works equally well for children and adults in a wide array of situations:

  • For recreational swimmers
  • For competitive athletes
  • For concerned parents
  • For bath-time fun
  • For water therapy

SwimSeal ear drops are applied before going into the water and act similarly to natural ear wax creating a waterproof coating in the external ear canal. Common issues, like swimmer’s ear, can be prevented by applying the drops on a regular basis when in the water. After about two to three hours the SwimSeal coating will wear off and migrate naturally from the ear without build up.

The product sell online and in all major stockists, like Boots and Superdrug for £7.99.

Personal verdict: I am happy Alex has no excuse now for not taking Emma swimming at the weekends :-)! On a more serious note, I am genuinely pleased that we can prevent his sore ears and create some beautiful family memories without the fear of sore ears and since the drops are all natural, I will not worry about him not taking them well!

If Alex suffers from bad ears, I personally suffer from cold sores in winter or when my immune system is depleted of energy so the next product we received and were asked to review is Zzip clear lips, the cold sore soother.


While no product can cure a cold sore, this ground breaking Swiss innovation can provide sufferers with immediate pain relief, activate healing with just two quick and easy applications and empower them to feel more confidant and comfortable to face the world.

This new cold sore soother offers additional features in demand by consumers worldwide:

  • Free from parabens
  • Contains no animal products
  • Has not been tested on animals
  • Contains no Alcohol

Personal verdict: I love the little kit it comes with and the fact that it can be applied neatly and without any spillages. I will be keeping this close this winter, for sure! I was a bit shocked by the price, though, as a 3 ml treatment kit sells for £12.95. Worth checking with your pharmacist before you purchase, as it may be on the list of minor ailments products.

I left the most common ailment for the last: the usual colds and infections children(and adults!) get upon return to school and periodically throughout the winter, leading to sometimes visits to the doctors, antibiotics and other unpleasant medical interventions.

I was sent two products that are meant to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms that accompany the colds and flu we all get once the cold season kicks in.

We had worked with Sterimar before and this autumn, they have launched a new nasal spray, which they kindly asked us to try out and give a verdict on.  Sterimar Stop& Protect is supposed to be an improved version of their original patent and includes now eucalyptus and copper, to decongest even quicker, neutralise viruses and bacteria and fight infections.

StopandProtectThe nasal pump sells online or in any pharmacies and health store in the UK at £9.27.

My verdict: again, I LOVE the fact that it is a gentle, no strong chemical product that is suitable for children from 3 years as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. I am impressed with the new ingredients and that fact that it is 100% sea water, rich in mineral salts and that the spray is preventive as well as alleviating symptoms. Just like my cold sore remedy, I will be keeping this one in my bedside table this winter!

The ProVen Probiotics Fit for School is the last product I will be reviewing this evening.

Fit-for-School-Stick-Packs(14)_pa89-hnI was very impressed by the product info immediately, as I recognised it as a possibly revolutionary product in the illness prevention industry. Specially formulated for children from one year old to help maintain immune function and general well being, it is the sort of product I wish I had come across when Emma was a toddler, as she used to get a cold and infection every three weeks!

Some more product blurb for you:

  • 12.5 billion friendly bacteria per stick pack plus vitamins C & D and prebiotics
  • Proven to reduce the duration of coughs and colds by 50%
  • Proven to reduce the incidence of cough and cold symptoms by 30%
  • Proven to reduce absenteeism from school by 30%.

In order for the product to start taking effect, a child needs to take it every morning for six months, as the friendly bacteria works on the gut relatively slowly but with long term benefits, for sure. We were able to see that with Emma when she was 2 and a friend recommended we put her on vitamins and other good stuff and the effects were extraordinary after six months of consistent use of gentle natural aids.

Emma’s verdict: we used the stick version and added it into her morning porridge. She did say it made her morning cereal much sweeter, as the main ingredient is fructooligosaccharides(or fruit sugar, in short) and wasn’t too fussed on the taste. I would recommend adding it to a cup of milk with no other sweeteners, if your child is fussy like mine!

The product sells for £7.75 per container with 14 sticks(two weeks’ worth).

Which products from the above review would you find useful? Have you used any of them before(or similar) and what is your opinion?

Disclaimer: we were sent the above products for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed are ours, as always.

A Season For Change

SunsetI need to make some changes in my life and I need time to understand what they need to be.

I have been waking up again at night, for the past week. Every SINGLE night!

It is the sort of full wakefulness that gets me up at 3 a.m. and keeps my head busy for hours.

It got me so desperate for head peace that I had to ask work for a redistribution of my working hours, so that I can have two days a week to rest and think and decide what the next stage of my life is supposed to be.

Decision is pending and my sanity does seem to be pending on the decision, to a degree.

It does feel like my grief has reached a new stage. Our wonderful social workers, from the Royal and the Hospice, both had warned me that grief changes and stages like this are completely natural. Ha, the natural of the completely unnatural process of grieving for your lost child…

Shortly after I lost Georgie, I felt this immense need to talk.

To talk about him. To talk to other bereaved parents. To talk against the taboo of grief and pain and apathy. To talk to other people about my woes and sorrows.

But in time, I have started to realise that:

  • we are not the only ones who are going through the process of grieving, that there are thousands of parents out there who are going through the same.
  • pain does not go away if I talk about it. In fact, it does make it worse and there are only a few people I can talk to about my deepest sorrows, as many simply do not understand and inviting them into my grief is equal to inviting a passer by to dress up a complex gangrenous wound. It is irresponsible and dangerous and very, very painful.
  • that as much as I would have liked to believe it, Georgie is not unique in the fact that he died of cancer at such an early age. In the last year, I have heard of NUMEROUS cases of babies and very young children who have had to go through the same gruesome diagnosis and treatment process. Some of them were “lucky” and are still here. Some are now “heroes” and”angels” and gone.
  • that people, as crazy as it does seems, would use your grief to their advantage. That there are unscrupulous people out there who in the name of religion or personal comfort or shared experiences would use your pain (and the subsequent desire to make a difference in this world) to take as much as they can out of you, either financially or emotionally.
  • that, as much as I would love to use the painful experience of losing a child to help others who are walking the same very painful and lonesome path, at times, I can barely get my own self motivated to carry on with life, let alone carry others on my back.
  • that God, as I knew of, does not exist anymore for me and I need to reconfigure my whole life philosophy that makes sense of a God who does not intervene to stop the pain of so many suffering babes.
  • that I will never, on my own, change the world.

      Yes, I would love to see the children I work with do well in life and I give 110% every time I am with them but the reality is…some of them won’t.

Yes, I would love to change the perception the church has of grief and make EVERY pastor in the land understand that follow-up after a loss is much more important to the bereaved than the funeral service. But the truth is…I can’t.

Yes, I would love to see the world change for the better. I would love to see all these beautiful Syrian families who have lost everything be treated humanely, allowed to make a new start somewhere and see them all integrated and happy and well. But the truth is…some are still dying as I type this, either at the hands of their own government or drowning at sea, in their desperate attempt to get to safety. And I can’t do one single damn thing about it.

So what are my options, with this new knowledge and wisdom gained at the price of sleepless nights and dead dreams?

I simply don’t know and I need time to find the way forward.

I need time to stop and ponder on this new stage of grief and learn new ways to cope with this new sort of pain.

The pain of realisation that pain and death are all a déjà vu to God and still not hate the guts of Him.

The pain of realisation that not even the death of my child will change people, mentalities or the world for the better as people will always choose their own comfort over the pain of change.

The pain of realisation that no matter how much I give, and I have come so many times close to spending myself completely, emotionally and mentally, for the sake of others, there will still be such a vast need for more, much more.

The pain of realisation that, at present, I am in desperate need to look after myself first, no matter how much I hate to admit it.

September was…Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

But I could not bring myself to write Georgie’s story down until tonight.
I got pregnant with Georgie in late spring 2013. I had been longing for another child, to complete our family unit, for years but hadn’t had the courage until then as I had been plagued with severe antenatal and postnatal depression with my first pregnancy with Emma.
From the very beginning, my body knew something was amiss with the pregnancy. I had very strong pains in my belly, ended up in the A&E but was dismissed home with pain killers and the advice to return if the pain didn’t subside. It did.
I also started waking up at night, shortly after that. If only I had known that this was my “borrowed time”, I would have used it to pour all my love and affection on my unborn baby, much more than I did…
There were also other signs no-one could interpret then but in my heart, I know that they were all related to my baby being sick, even from the womb.
There were unusual blood result readings, when the pregnancy was confirmed two months later, at a private clinic in Thessaloniki, where we were spending our summer.
There was also an unusual fetal heart rate reading, too high but not unusual, the doctor had tried to reassure.
My unborn baby was in pain and I didn’t even know it…
I gave birth to Georgie on the 22nd of January 2014. I lost a lot of blood, it had come in waves with every contraction, as a way of my body trying to tell us something was wrong, very wrong with this baby. The birthing room did look like a battle field, I remember thinking. We had entered a battle, a life and death fight and we were totally unaware as yet.
The first signs appeared when Georgie was only two weeks. He stopped feeding properly at the breast. He has this continuous restlessness, as if…as if his whole body was sore…
And other things that I could not interpret as symptoms, as I would have never dreamt of a baby having blood cancer.
There was the time I cut his nails and pinched a bit of his skin. And he wouldn’t stop bleeding. And crying…For ages.
And then, close to three months, he started this strange sweating at night.
His pillow would have been soaked but his body was ice cold and needed two blankets.
And still, I didn’t know to recognise the signs.
But I knew something was not right. Something was terribly wrong, my gut instinct was saying and I kept taking him to the A&E and family doctors for the restlessness he was presenting and now, his poor appetite.
They didn’t recognise the signs either. Even experienced doctors, with a lifetime of medical practice, wouldn’t fathom a baby sick with something as terrible as cancer…
And then, he started running low-grade fevers and having diarrhea. Blood tests were done, finally and a week after Easter 2014, at only three months my baby was admitted into the hospital, with a very strong suspicion of leukemia. The diagnosis was confirmed after TWO spinal taps, as even the CHU doctors in Belfast couldn’t believe it.
And a very rare and aggressive form of it as well, AML, M7 strand, usually diagnosed in men over 65 and children with Down syndrome.
From the word go, my baby had no chance, I know it now.
The drugs he was given were not designed for his tiny frame but for much older men.
The fact that this form is so rare in children, much rarer than ALL, meant that no research had been done and nothing effective was administered.
My baby died after two and a half months of chemo.
I write this with the knowledge that since then, an alarmingly growing number of babies and small boys have been diagnosed with AML in Northern Ireland.
I truly hope that research will go into this and soon, so that no more children will have to suffer what my son had to suffer in his last two weeks of life and no parents will have to live with the questions, the pain and the haunting memories.

Marvel Kids Game Review


There is nothing I would have loved more than to see my son grow and become a regular wee boy, full of mischief and energy and thoughts of cars and engines and games!

Recently, I have started to look into creating mementos and doing things that he would have maybe done and loved taking part in, had he still been alive.

This month, we attended a healing through art seminar and I found myself creating for the first time a very boyish,vibrant frame in Georgie’s memory and not my usual baby boy blue, angelic ones. It was as if my psyche was forcing a real time frame into memories that otherwise will remain static and into the past. I felt the need to grow my boy into the toddler he should have been now and my frame captured the thought perfectly.

So when, a few days later, Disney approached me and inquired if we would like to review their Marvel kids’ games with Emma, I took it as a sign and as an opportunity to explore the what could have beens.

I loved the idea of the games we had in front of us from the moment I linked into the website. I saw all these powerful characters any little boy (and girl!) dreams of becoming and being some day as the main characters of the Marvel games on offer. Spiderman, Captain America, the Black Widow and Hulk are all there, ready to catch the bad guys and restore order in the universe.



3f31b47341267f1870eb94eb04a79c3c9b6e8fe1I did actually use the opportunity and played a few rounds myself, both on the laptop and on the iPad, all for the research sake’ purposes, of course :-)!

IMG_4087As I am not a regular when it comes to this sort of activities, I thought it wise to start with the easy level, at which I actually stayed the whole length of the game, as I am quite the old bird now and have not much dexterity left in my brain fingers, I mean!

IMG_4088I did find it easier to play on my laptop, rather than on my iPad. Again, I think it is an old age thing, rather than a fault with the games, lol.

IMG_4090What did I think of the idea of Marvel Avengers being part of the new kids’ games, activities and toy section on the Disney website?

I thought it very clever, given the fact that the Marvel characters have made such a successful comeback recently (were they really ever gone?) and with the adult version of the Marvel Heroes Game being so popular, it was only a matter of time before the kids had access to an age appropriate version of the fun, too.

I did have a peek at their Marvel Avengers Legends merchandise too and to tell you the truth, it truly looks the part and I so wish I had a little boy to buy bits and bobs for as I would say they would make wonderful toys and powerful evil force destroyers!

461013648274Are your children all into the Marvel rage at the moment and have they played the Marvel Kids Games already? What are their favourite characters of the Marvel lot and does a Spider-Man pencil case make little boys solve maths problems as quickly as he would save the day?

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post and we have been compensated for our time. The opinions expressed are, as always, our own.

14 months and 20 days later

Under water girl

It has been 14 months and 20 days since my son died but it is only recently that I have realised that grief is going to be part of my life, of me, of who I am until I die.

Yes, I did read the books, listened to the stories, talked to other bereaved parents but it has only recently become obvious to me that grief is never going to leave my life and that it is here to stay.

For good.

That I will have good days always followed, as a rule, by bad, really bad days.

That I will get ill much more often than I even did before.

That my mind will never be the same; that I have become a head sieve. I forget often and I need constant reminders of appointments and meetings. Loads and loads of patience and understanding too.

That I will be sad. Often and deeply and sometimes furiously.

That anger will be my closest companion. An existential anger that cannot be directed at any-one, as the only One who could answer my questions lives in a different dimension.

That the story I so believed, that there is a God who heals and has compassion and makes sense,  a god who mends our wounds is only a man-made fantasy, created to give false comfort to the ones who are too afraid to face the real story and real life.

That pain triggers are everywhere.

In a lesson plan, in a rainbow, in a splash of colour, in a smell, in a drawer, in the autumn days that my son never got to feel, in the flicker of a candle, in the innocent yet so poignant, for me, episode of curious George.

That there will never be heart healing, that there will never be complete peace, that there will never be a day while I am still here, on earth, that I will not miss my departed child.

That living with such chronic heart pain requires huge amounts of courage but never looks heroic as the battle is not against a palpable, definite enemy but it is a daily struggle of squelching through the mud of apathy and pain and despair.

That there is never, ever a break from the heartache. It is a throbbing, drilling, numbing sort of ache that has taken the rhythm of my breath and the pace of my heart and it has become part of me.


It has become ME.

I am a woman of sorrows and forever shall be…

Culture Night Belfast, 2015

cnb15_logoLast Friday, we attended our first ever Culture Night in Belfast.

For my readers in Europe and the UK, a Culture Night may not sound like a big deal, given the frequency and the history of such events.  On the other hand, for Northern Ireland, a relatively small country which has been through so much politically, this is a HUGE thing and such a positive step forward and hopefully, away from its tormented past and towards a future full of hope and unity!

There was an impressive number of events(over 200!) taking place in Belfast last Friday; over 50,000 people took to the streets to celebrate the country’s rich past and present culture and enjoy the “mighty craic”, all in the well-known by now jovial Irish way, accompanied by family, friends and of course, beer!

015 (2)The weather decided to play nice too and we enjoyed a lovely, mild autumn evening out as a family crafting in the Cathedral’s quarters with Emma, strolling through the very crowded streets, observing passionately quiet games of chess and enjoying divine tunes inside Saint Anne’s cathedral:

012 (2)

018 (2)

013 (2)

We also crafted messages of hope for the future, to go into a virtual bottle, which will be opened in a decade from now.

014 (2)

I do hope all those dreams and hopes come true and in 10 years from now, Belfast will be even more vibrant and blossoming with culture and art and beauty.

My regrets?

That I didn’t get to see and try it all: the gorgeous octopi display, a meal out in the MAC quarters and being part of the parade at the end are on the menu for next year!

11866217_500040786821261_6503550269546828823_n cnb BeatnDrum samba belfast harbourMy overall impression?

That it was amazing display of creativity, joy and talent and that I am very happy to see Belfast coming into its own when it comes to culture.

Even the city hall celebrated and dressed up for the occasion, such an improvement from the last year’s negative publicity related to the flag issues:

019 (2)I am already looking forward to next year’s edition, as I have this feeling that things can only get better when it come to cultural events in Belfast!