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Brilliance in Blogging Award

The Brilliance in Blogging Awards are much coveted for signs of public recognition. If you are a blogger living in the U.K. you are sure to have heard of them and almost as sure that you must have aspired to win one some day.

In the three years I have been blogging, I have always associated the Brilliance in Blogging Awards with awesome, beautiful and inspirational blogs.

Never in a million years did I dream my little blog would be not only nominated but voted and then shortlisted as a possible finalist in the Inspirational Blog section!!!

I am writing this post still pinching myself about the enormity of such an honour, to be in company, be it even in a list, of such great names and blogs as Jennie’s Edspire, Leigh’s Headspace Perspective and Karin’s Embrace Happy.

These three ladies have been beacons of light to me over the last couple of years.

I used to read Jennie’s heart-rendering accounts and the raw honesty of her pain over losing Matilda-Mae made my heart crumble.

Karin and her wonderful Embrace Happy ladies were there for us last year, supporting us with encouragement and appropriate gifts for a bone-tired parent whose child was going through chemo.

And Leigh and I, we have been walking the bereaved mummy walk together, grieving the loss of our boys and making sure Georgie and Hugo will never be forgotten.

So, the question is, how can I compete with people I respect and admire and look up to?

I can’t and I don’t want to.

I want us all up there.

I want our children in the stars and our projects meant to bless others would be ALL recognised up there, on that BritMums scene in June.

So, on this account, I urge you to vote for BIBs 2015.

Every vote you cast in the Inspire category will count towards the very public remembrance of three beautiful babes, now all in heaven. And towards the recognition of  the beautiful #Embrace Happy project that has already blessed our family and many more, I am sure.

BiB2015x350SLinspire

Rhetoric of truth

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, my baby boy stopped eating.

Within 24 hours, he had to be rushed to the hospital, from where he was never allowed to come back come.

Within 48 hours, he would have had so many medical procedures done and so many chemicals pumped through his wee body that he would stop breathing and he would end up in the NICU.

Hell on earth?

Most definitely. It was.

For us.

But most importantly, for my little baby boy.

The pain. The poking. More pain. More poking.

Looking back, there is a number of things that torment me out of my skin.

One of the worst?

Paradoxically, not having been told the truth.

We strongly suspect our very experienced oncology team knew from the very beginning that the chances of survival were slim.

We also knew that realistically, God wasn’t going to perform a miracle and that Georgie was headed for the exit before he had even had a chance to start the living.

But we chose to fool ourselves.

We chose to believe in something God had never promised us.

Were we fools?

Yes.

We were.

I have one very big regret and one single piece of advice for people finding themselves on the threshold of death with their precious little ones.

I regret not having had Georgie out of those four hospital walls as soon as possible.

I regret not having fought for his right to be home with his family.

To be out between chemo sessions, enjoying the fresh air, the birds, the sunshine, the salty sea breeze, a seesaw, hugs and cuddles with Emma, lashings of love from his granny and from us.

house-entrance-255132_1280I regret not having given his the best of chances to enjoy this world when he still could have had.

When he was still aware of the world.

When he could still comprehend.

10411951_10152052120026512_2889413543604405471_nBefore the pain became all-encompassing. Overwhelming. The only sensation.

I also regret being a coward and deluding myself with fantasies of healing and miracles.

I should have known better.

I should have known by the lack of evidence that these things happened a long time ago and are not the norm.

I should have looked the reality in the eye and accepted it.

You see, we fear death absurdly in our society.

To our detriment.

To our children’s detriment.

If only I had known that even the death of a child can and will be survived.

If only I had known that lies and half truths hurt much more than the reality itself.

Death is part of our existence.

I know it now.

And so is pain.

In my despair to avoid one and to deny the absolute reality of the other, I lost myself.

I lost myself in anger. In self-pity. In denial.

And I lost precious time I could have gifted my son on this earth.

Time that I will never get back.

But here I am now.

I have lost a precious son.

And I have learned a precious lesson.

A lesson I wish I could pass on to anyone who has children in this world.

You were not promised anything when that precious bundle of joy entered your life.

All we are given is today.

Make the most of now. Of this moment. Of the present.

Even if you are standing on the threshold of death with your precious little one.

The present is still yours to grasp, to enjoy and to make the most of.

To gift to your children.

The only and the most precious gift you could ever give them.

The gift of time with you, the gift of time basking in the beauty of this world and of your love.

Will you fear death less and enjoy life more?

In my son’s memory.

It would bless my soul much more than any words of comfort, than any gifts, than anything else on this earth.

Knowing that the world is being enjoyed as it should be.

Even from the threshold of death.

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Kate Hopkins, you are an idiot!

You like this sort of language and you bask in the impact it has on an audience so, what the heck, I will use it in my imaginary conversation to you.

I know you like to create controversy. It has become your exclusive line of work.

I have ignored your existence and your vile comments regarding numerous subjects close to my heart. Like mental health, for example.

Until now.

Despite your numerous attempts to grasp my attention via an overindulging media.

Overindulging of idiocy, crass lack of manners and respect for your fellow human beings.

But hey, just like you have plenty to say, so have I.

So I will play your game.

In your “manner”(to read, total lack of).

So, as an ignorant white middle-class female with a posh English accent, whose world revolves around, I assume, the tabloids covering your badmouthing of honest folk, you went there and launched a tirade against immigrants.

Following a boat capsizing in the Mediterranean and killing 400 people, babies and children included.

(Oh, by the way, after you finished, there was an even bigger one sinking, this time with 900 immigrants on it!)

This is like pissing on someone’s casket.

Or on the 400 of them, as a matter of fact.

While the whole world is watching.

I will not use reason with you.

The incident mentioned above, plus innumerable other ones, in which you take pride and joy, and which involve you shitting yourself in public, prove you do not respond to reasoning.

There is no point telling you that as Europeans, we are all highly likely to have ancestors who were (im)migrants at some point or another.

Meaning, you could very well be the very product of migration yourself, at some point down your “noble” blood line.

Even kings and queens used to migrate following marriage, no-one was exempt back in the day.

But hey, I am wasting my breath here.

There is no point telling you that migration most likely made your posh-arsed ancestry prosper.

Good honest folk, migrants who left their villages for emerging towns and put up with stinky attitudes like yours to make the country prosper through “menial” industries like mining or textile manufacturing. Working their health and lives away so that the Industrial Revolution could benefit, down the history, spoilt, big-mouthed, empty-headed brats like you.

(Side note, I do not know who your friends are but you clearly could do with a friend like Wikipedia to keep you better informed in matters like this.)

You speak clearly like a narrow-minded lunatic who thinks her luck of having been born in a wealthy country equals her right to enjoy all its benefits.

You clearly talk like someone who has never know hunger.

Or fear for your own life.

Or fear for your future, and being given in marriage at 12 to a 50 year-old goat. For a goat.

Or hopelessness that comes with being born in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

You would shoot them, all these people trying to live the only life they were given, would you?

On what account?

So that you can enjoy a life of undeserved extras while so many go lacking in essentials?

So that you abuse the freedom (gifted to you by someone’s sacrifice, in a bloodied field, somewhere, back in history)  to sprout nonsense liberally, every time you open your mouth, while so many others, so much worthier that you of a platform, rot under dictatorships, in damp cells for having dared to challenge idiocy??

There is no justice in this world.

You deserve catapulted back into history before immigration made the world the place it is now.

You deserve catapulted in a remote and dangerous place somewhere in Africa or neighbouring Asia Minor, where you would re-learn to treasure as privileges what you now regard as rights: the privilege to speak freely, the privilege to healthcare, the privilege to receive an education, the privilege to love, the privilege  to work for your own subsistence, the privilege to go to bed feeling safe at night.

You are an idiot, Kate Hopkins, for making fun of people who cannot do the same to you.

I know I have wasted an hour writing this to you but at least, I feel that I have done something, however small, to undo the harm and damage done by your heartless words.

iLfrHDHInlqXfcE-800x450-noPadPersonal disclaimer: I do not adhere to any of the opinions Kate Hopkins holds as truth and I am very sorry so many lives have been lost this past week.

Dear migrants to other horizons,

May your souls rest in peace and may your travels be smooth on the other side.

May you all meet the One who has never had a problem with migration and made feel welcome at an international feast of gigantic proportions.

Sorry this world was not a welcoming place for you.

Farewell and hope I will have the privilege to meet you all there one day.

Dear Dalriada Doctor-Part 2

I had to let the ripples settle before I wrote this.

Exactly two weeks ago, I had my first post ever going viral.

My “Dear Dalriada Doctor” was seen by 25,000 people in the first three days after being published and was shared over 3000 times!

Upon publication, I was almost immediately approached by a number of prestigious local magazines and national newspapers who wanted to interview me and give me a chance to speak on the subject.

I was taken aback by the attention, to be honest with you.

That evening, I wrote my post as I usually do, out of frustration and as a means to release my emotions and allow my mind to reach a point of rest.

The best outcome by far has been being contacted(as a direct result of the post) by many Northern Irish mothers whose children have been affected by cancer and several of the dear CHU nurses we got to know during Georgie’s hospitalisation.

Many women also reached out and shared their equally frustrating medical encounters with the Dalriada system and how affected they were by the unprofessional and cold approaches.

I was also pleasantly impressed with the lack of negative comments. I have been in the blogging world for three years now and I know that when a post goes viral the risk of trolls picking on the thread and creating havoc is very real. I am very grateful this didn’t happen as the stress would have been too much for me.

I was encouraged also to write about the positives, not only the negatives in the health system.

It was not my intention to portray the entire health system as negative.

My post came as a result of many Dalriada appointments that were too desperately similar to each other and portrayed a very lax attitude towards the patient in the out of hours department.

That was NOT our experience in our own medical practice.

That was NOT our experience in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, when Georgie was surrounded by wonderful and very caring medical and auxiliary staff.

That was NOT our experience in the Children’s Hospice where the nurses were again, so very caring, compassionate and loving.

I had to visit Dalriada again on Saturday. My body isn’t managing stress very well and one little thing led to a very nasty throat infection that needed antibiotics.

I dealt with a receptionist and two doctors, one female doctor, who took my initial call and assessed my condition and the other one, a male one, who saw me upon arrival.

They were all professional and kind and efficient.

So I was maybe dealt a bad hand every time I walked through that Dalriada door, either for myself or with Georgie or Emma, for the past six years.

Or maybe, just maybe, things got someone’s attention in the system and things will be better for me from now on.

I was not after preferential system.

I wanted to make sure no-one is treated the same again I had.

I want not preferential, but humane and caring treatment for all of us.

To me, this whole exercise has been extremely positive, on so many levels.

More importantly, it has proven that things CAN change.

So if you do work in the health system and have been treating your patients with compassion, understanding and care, thank you!

And if you work in the health system and you have found yourself lacking patience, empathy and desire to serve, may I encourage you to reassess your priorities? Thank you.

And thank you to all who got in touch and expressed support or just sent me a message to say hello.

More importantly, thank you for not forgetting that Georgie is the one who gave me courage to speak and write and more determination than I have ever had to see things changing for better in this world.

10356346_10152046389746512_7680036680479956208_nThis one is for you, Bubba Boo, Baby Blue.

Mama loves you.

Anything good coming out of this,

Will be because of you.

Grieving journey

I haven’t written about our grieving journey for a while.

But I live with grief, as an unwelcome foe that has been forced into my life.

I cannot shake the reality of it.

Oh, how I wish!

I know that I have written before about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with grieving parents.

Recently, I have felt the need of a new post, to include new strategies for coping with it and also hurtful things you SHOULD NEVER say to a hurting parent.

1. Don’t say “I could become like you by spending too much time in your company.”

I get it, it is depressing and off putting to watch someone mop around over their dead child.

But guess what?

We did not choose to be in this position and I would give anything not to be here.

Even my own life, to bring my child back and give him a future on this earth.

2. Don’t say: “I do not understand you.”

We know that, we truly do.

As bereaved parents, we learn to act differently around people who haven’t experienced loss. We put up a front and move on with things on a daily basis.

But it is so very nice when people use their empathic skills and put themselves in our shoes, even for a moment.

And then, when they look at things from our perspective and come up with statements that show that they have truly visited the uncharted territory of grief.

When they say: “I get it.” Even if they get it only partially and fractionally.

We are grateful when we are not made to feel like pariahs.

3. Don’t give us all the details

– My baby was seriously ill but you found out you were expecting on the day you visited him in the hospital. Congrats. But I really DON’T NEED to know all the details. I promise I have better things to do than count the days back from when your child is born to realise he or she was conceived around the same time mine was diagnosed with leukaemia, so please why would you be so cruel and say it to us???

It hurts. It makes me reel at an unjust and cruel existence, God and world.

– My baby died but yours has just seen a “miracle” happening in his life. Congrats. But I DON’T NEED to know. Please don’t share your news with me in this way. A private text saying he is doing better than expected was all that was needed and would have been so, so appreciated.

It makes me feel second-class. As if God had favourites and my baby didn’t make it on the list and yours did.

4. Word your statements carefully.

I do not mean tiptoe around a bereaved parent but please be more aware of what comes out of your mouth.

I was reading the other day on another bereaved mummy’s blog about different very hurtful statements people made around them:

“God heals.”

“God didn’t heal your child because of YOUR lack of faith.”

I do not deny that God does heal in certain circumstances. I have been following little Ellis’ story on Journey of Sarah and I am thrilled that she is doing so well. But to date, and I am well into my 30s, this is the ONLY miracle I know of.

So do you think it is really necessary to come up with such a statement around a hurting parent? I think not!

5. Accept our withdrawal

Many times, our withdrawal is simply a coping and survival mechanism.

I have nothing personal against the 150 people I have un-friended on Facebook at Christmas.

But I cannot allow silent gawking into our private lives.

I have nothing personal against people or social circles from whose company I have withdrawn.

In some cases, I have considered it was better for all involved, since grief had no place in the rhetoric of the place.

In other cases, I have withdrawn because I felt silently criticised and “lovingly and spiritually” found lacking in whatever it was, as soon as I wrote about quitting the Church. I saw it in the way people withdrew from interacting with my grieving posts almost immediately.

And it hurt.

Because I was at my most vulnerable and all they could come up was holy “tstststs” at me for questioning God,  the Church as a viable institution in the present day and age and the beliefs that were passed to us as children…

If I remember well, and it is in that Bible they all carry about with them on Sundays, David, the great David, had similar moments of “weakness” and doubt and questioning. And he became the great leader he became because he had to figure out by himself, in the darkness of despair, what he really believed in.

If he was allowed, why am I not?

In some cases, I have withdrawn because I realised my pain and anger was too much to bear. And I had to pull back to give people breathing space.

So, please, respect that and understand my intentions.

6. Give us permission to be

I am a wreck.

I have not hidden it from anyone.

It takes a simple text to give me splitting headaches and to get my body really down.

I have had the flu four times this winter.

And every time, I came to realise, it has been related to people not understanding.

Accusing.

Guiding my grieving process.

Putting time limits or measures to what or how I can do as a bereaved parent.

Hear me out.

If you only take one thing from this post, let it be this:

Give us permission to grieve the way we need to!

We are carrying very heavy burdens in our hearts.

Burdens that become unbearable when anything else is added.

Please keep your drama to yourselves.

And let us walk this lonely and rough path as well as we can.

Love

Emma’s March reviews

Emma has been very lucky lately and has been gifted, for reviewing purposes, loads and loads of wonderful books and interesting gadgets.

I will start with the Little Tiger Press with whom we have started a beautiful collaboration recently and who have already sent Emma a couple of their brand new and very well designed items:

10946415_348458908681080_1954996932_n9781848959644-04-600x600Both the Animal Jigsaw and the What’s the Time, Clockodile? are aimed at children aged 3-5. I was a bit worried Emma would find the puzzle too easy but as you can see from the picture above, she used it as background for her jungle imaginary play. As for the book, I love the fact that the minutes are marked on the clock, I am assuming this will be a very useful tool in explaining time to Emma and her grasping the concept easily.

Both the puzzle and the book are made out of robust cardboard and are beautifully illustrated and will catch the attention of both young and school children equally.

Emma has also received two wonderful books that have sparked her imagination with regards to a future career and have encouraged her to think outside the box when it comes to men vs. women’s jobs.

11018517_930942180284312_1798738561_nWhat do grown-ups do? is a beautifully illustrated, informative series of seven books written by Mairi McLellan. Emma reviewed the previous books in the series, about Fiona the doctor and Richard the vet and since she did such a good job with it :-), she was offered the latest one, about Gordon Buchanan, the famous Scottish wildlife film maker.

The books are aimed at older children but we were able to scan through and find out a lot of very interesting facts about what life as a wildlife photographer really is like.

The series is recommended as a useful tool in “encouraging children to develop enterprising attitudes” and has won rewards across the country and overseas and Bronze at the Children’s Moonbeam Awards.

Excellent for children with keen interest in learning from an early age about professional opportunities that lie ahead.

Tara Binns’ Eagle-Eyed Pilot is a book very, very close to my heart. “Aimed to raise girls’ aspirations and offer them something inspiring, exciting and adventurous to read,” the book has become well loved in our household. The book offers not only the opportunity to dream about being a pilot but also the occasion to solve problems and come to the rescue situations, which I find very empowering a message for a little girl!

“Giving little girls big ideas” is a good motto and I subscribe to it entirely!

And as ambitious as it may seem, Emma’s (and daddy’s) next project is a bit different from the usual Lego town ones they have been working on since winter.

Emma was sent a hydraulic robotic arm kit to assemble with a bit of help and ignoring the fact that it is classed as a “boy toy”, I will be thrilled to see her having a go at figuring out its mechanisms and having fun with it!

As you can see, we have had loads of fun this month with our reviews. Stay tuned, new things are headed our way this month as well and we will write about them soon!

#Better With Cake

As you know, we left for France for our holidays shortly after Easter.

Unfortunately, the Easter bunny(to read, our mailman) wasn’t on time bringing our lovely Mr. Kipling review cakes before we left.

The good news was that upon arrival we had a lovely parcel full of yummies waiting to be devoured sampled.

924461_955663297807512_944924940_nSince Emma has loved France and the whole travelling experience and is now very interested in anything French, I decided to play up with the theme a bit this morning. I included one of our Mr Kipling French fancies in her lunch box today, alongside the French flag and a Ratatouille water bottle we got in France.

11084656_1431416933821618_811558821_nBecause lunch boxes don’t have to be boring, even if they contain more or less the same thing every day. Because we don’t have to wait for the extraordinarily to happen to teach our children something new and exciting. And because, at the end of the day, life is always better with cake!

This post is an entry for #BetterWithCake Linky Challenge, sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes.