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Music to her ears

Emma has always been a musical child, from when she was a tiny baby girl. We started very early (when she was about 5 months) to attend mums and tots and the local library’s rhythm and rhyme weekly activities.

Music has remained a big part of her life, with her asking Santa this year for a guitar and planning on a violin for next year ;-), so I was overjoyed when we were offered the opportunity to review a number of DVDs and CDs from Kids’ Music Shop.

I was a bit skeptical when they first arrived as the DVDs included nursery titles like “Twinkle, twinkle little star”, “The wheels on the bus” and “Never smile at a crocodile.” I thought Emma would be a bit too grown up for them but at a closer look, I realised I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The DVDs are fun to watch, even for an older child, due to a few key factors:

1. Tony, the artist and singer who features in them is hilarious and looks funny dressed up in various outfits (my favourite is Bev, from The wheels on the bus :-).

2. The DVDs feature school aged children making them appealing to both small and older children. Even babies would enjoy the catchy rhymes and the moving images and smiling faces. Never smile at a Crocodile features pre-teenage children while The Wheels on the Bus feature younger children, making Emma exclaim in admiration “I wish I was one of them, mummy!”

3. Price wise, they are a very wise buy: the music DVDs, with running times varying between 42 and 53 minutes, retail on the website at £5.10 each.

We were also offered the store’s most popular Children’s Favourite Songs Collection: six Cds, with a total of six hours of playing time and featuring all familiar nursery songs and popular tales. The collection retails on the website at £11.99, making it an ideal gift to a smaller, pre-school child or a much appreciated accompaniment to the daily routine in the more formal setting of a nursery or playgroup.

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Disclaimer: we were sent the DVDs and the CD set for reviewing purposes but all opinions expressed above are our own.

The day I visited with my son

Today I had my first complimentary therapeutic session with Action Cancer. The charity offers wonderful support to cancer sufferers and carers throughout and, very important, after a traumatic cancer diagnosis and treatment.

I chose reflexology from the array of complementary therapies the charity offers because I had enjoyed it immensely during an initial session in Daisy Lodge in December.

As a stay at home mum I hardly ever give myself permission to rest and relax. So an hour of pampering, of soothing music and of time with myself and my thoughts, in a relaxed and safe environment, is priceless.

This is the second time I visualise visiting with Georgie during reflexology. In December, I was emotionally exhausted and feeling extremely frazzled during my reflexology session so my tears were carried into my visiting times with him.

But today….Today was beautiful.

I saw my baby boy inundated in sunshine, in a green and lush field. It was spring time and there were daffodils everywhere.

Every time I imagine my boy I imagine him running happily and freely and today was no different. He was enjoying the warmth of the sun rays and the beauty of the flowers.

As soon as he saw me, he ran towards me and he tried to show me something: “Look, mummy, look!” It was a daffodil, a flower I love too. He gifted it to me and I had a sense of joy and loss, knowing that I had discovered something about my son I hadn’t known before: that he loves flowers, just like his mummy.

For some reason, after I cuddled him prolongedly and insatiably, I felt drawn to look at the place where his central line had been. It is strange that I wanted to do that but I felt the need to see the place where it had been inserted, underneath his tiny right shoulder.

There was no central line, of course there wasn’t. Just a tiny little white scar.

Georgie felt me touching it. He knew about it.

He told me, “It is not sore, mummy. But there is someone else here who has the same sort of spots on His hands.”

And in a microsecond, Jesus was there with us. Georgie took His hands and showed me the marks. Not red and wounded, like in the drawings in the Catholic or the Orthodox church. No. Healed wounds. White flesh. Only marks.

And when I looked at them both, I saw the smile. They were smiling, with the biggest grin, the happiest I had ever seen.

And they looked alike. The smile was identical on their faces.

My boy looked like his Lord, just like I had felt it so many times when he was here on earth with us. His joy was identical to that on Jesus’ face.

It was time for them to go. I said my goodbyes. The smile stayed in my memory as Jesus carried my baby boy into the light.

I felt bereft.

I didn’t want to go back.

I wanted to be with them.

I wanted to keep onto my son. Forever.

I felt in my heart, just at that moment, that Georgie was whispering to me: “But you are. Your love for me keeps me alive in your heart forever. Until we meet again.”

But then, I heard Emma’s and Alex’s voices.

And I started walking down this road.

A road that had Jesus and my boy at one end and Emma and my daughter at the other.

And I felt the love. The love from my husband and my daughter. And I saw their smiles too and their inviting arms.

Today, I was visiting with my son. Today, I bathed in the realisation that LOVE is the very powerful link that will keep us all connected until the very end.

10423270_10152084182716512_293582403789621959_n

#JeSuisCharlie

10890908_788341957869588_1572181182_nSo, it has happened again.

People who have been perceived as the “enemy” of a certain religion and life philosophy have been mercilessly annihilated today in Paris. 12 of them in total. Journalists. Cartoonists. People good with their colouring pencils, for goodness’ sake!

What made them so threatening? So menacing? So offensive?

Was their crime of joking about “serious” things and making a ridiculous philosophy into the laughing stock of the elite of the Parisian society so grave that punishment could be DEATH only????

Have we evolved from nothing to nothing?

Have we not learned our lessons from the Holocaust?

From the crusades?

From the recent beheadings in Syria?

We all have opinions. Divergent opinions.

We are entitled to have opinions. We are entitled to have different opinions. God have us all heads to use in order to form opinions. Personal opinions.

BUT our opinions don’t represent who we are. They are the result of our life experiences. Our upbringing. Our culture.

But they are not US.

So when someone makes fun of our ideas, our ideologies, our religion, we need to learn to differentiate and accept that they are NOT making fun of US.

They are not threatening us or our identity.

They are merely voicing their different view on things. Whatever those things are.

Ideas, ideologies, religions, concepts, percepts are floats. Means of expression. Coping mechanisms.

But when they become identity, a second skin, a mask to hide behind that’s when the world gets into deep trouble.

We are all human beings. We are all weak. We are all perishable. We are all in need of love. We will all die. We are all alike both in our need of love and in our pain when we get hurt.

Let’s stay human. Let’s go back to the basics. Let’s all remember that illness and death make us all equal: not one of us has ever found a way of escaping our human state and condition.

So why have we allowed our world to devolve to this? Why do we feel justified to hit and hurt and kill the ones who think differently than us? Why do we feel so threatened by a stupid difference of opinion and why can’t we see that our similarities run much deeper that our “differences”?

Today, a friend told me her teenage girl is badly bullied in school. For being different.

Today, small men with big guns walked into an office and shut for good a bunch of comedians. Because they couldn’t agree with the lines in the comedy.

Today, we have all looked at someone and classed them as “different” from us, allowing ourselves to feel superior based on personal judgement and opinion alone.

We are not better. We are not worse. We are all the same.

Will we ever get that as humanity?

We are all Charlies. We are all bullies.

We are all mere human beings.

What made our Christmas beautiful: Febreze Winter Scents

I need to give credit where credit is due and mention the people who made our Christmas beautiful, despite the painful circumstances and the unbearable built up to it.

We enjoyed immensely having people over on Christmas day. People like us, with no family living here and nowhere to go to on Christmas day. People who would have been lonely otherwise.

We were told we were being kind but in all honesty, it was as helpful for us as it was for our honoured guests. It filled a dreaded day with companionship, laughter and chat. And good food, loads of it, was consumed :-). I love cooking for a crowd and I was so pleased they all enjoyed their meal.

P1080207What also made our Christmas period enjoyable was surrounding ourselves with nice things, beautiful decorations, soothing music and having the house smelling lovely. It was a treat for the senses and everyone who came to visit us over the holiday period mentioned the beautiful smells in the house.

I have that to thank Febreze for, for kindly providing us with a lovely hamper filled with divine smelling goodies just before Christmas:

10817955_1517086851906768_765894057_nThey were indeed so kind that on top of their lovely Apple and Spice-scented aerosol air freshener, scented candle and air freshener, they also sent us some lovely mulled wine scented tea(I know, who would have thought they can mix well? But they do!) and a stocking for Emma to decorate and keep herself busy with!

10817764_761151343978893_563112405_nThe hamper was sent out to several bloggers, all to celebrate Febreze’s 12 Smells of Christmas campaign. The campaign aimed to eliminate the characteristic but unpleasant smells of Christmas (Brussels sprouts come to mind!) and replace them with beautiful and pleasantly winter-related smells like the Apple and Spice I mentioned above, the fragrant Winter Garden or their Vanilla and Winter Glow:

image-1-327x1000Disclaimer: We were sent the contents of the above mentioned hamper for testing but the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.

I have genuinely enjoyed using the products(the candle was put to good use immediately and finished first) and I have actually gone and bought another aerosol as one of our bathroom ones was nearly over. And I bought a Febreze one, once again, because I find the smells pleasant but not overpowering or sickening, like some aerosols can be sometimes. You can buy them anywhere, like Tesco or Sainsbury’s. I bought mine in Home Bargains for £1.49 or so.

Anassa Boutique – Navy Kimono Dress Review

I can hardly contain my excitement as I am about to write my very first fashion review on the blog! And of a Greek boutique based in the suburbs of Athens, of all places!

Ioanna, from Anassa Boutique, was very sweet and prompt in sending me a dress of my choice from their website. I went for their Kimono denim dress, as I found it chic enough to be worn as a evening dress but comfortable enough to function as a day dress as well, with the right accessories.

DR1-1100x1100Here is my take on it, as a beautiful day dress:

928659_1621239408104054_1597897826_n10899029_322610287928377_1743051163_nThe back has a spectacular V-neckline at the back, which is guaranteed to turn a lot of heads if worn with a pair of smoking hot high heels for a night out. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t take a picture of it as me as a model but keep an eye on our Instagram page, I may ask hubby to act as my photographer on our next outing and snap me in it.

DR2-1100x1100The dress retails at 55 euro on the Anassa Boutique website and in my opinion, it is an excellent buy due to the quality of the material and the spectacular back cut.

Disclaimer: we were sent the dress for reviewing purposes but all opinions expressed are our own.

Today, I remember

Today, as every single day since last July,

I remember.

A bump and the promise of the fulfilled dream of a complete family:

1463222_10151755504156512_1532679564_nA little baby boy, so cuddly and new and loved and wanted,

995633_10151830218596512_59015378_nA dream of a boy, so sweet and so happy to just be:

1977035_10151953966906512_943992643_nA cough and sleepless nights and

This ominous, nightmarish feeling, lurking closer and closer.

10178159_10151978511651512_5014593968452706327_nA sick little boy, so helpless and fragile,

A fight so big ahead someone so very small.

10303758_10152017159551512_2767855960213911770_nA precious baby boy who taught us how to smile, in spite of all pain and sorrow

imageA little boy who never ceased to amaze his nurses, his doctors and his parents

Who sparkled bright on that horrid cancer ward

Who grinned in the face of death,

Proving it wrong:

10364056_10152023112966512_1808747011739674804_nA little boy who left us waaaaay too soon, with hearts too empty to ever fill again

10787_10152356312336512_4731561919479230589_nA baby boy who will forever live in our hearts

Who will forever be loved

Never forgotten

Always cherished and treasured and ALIVE

10653818_10152312531351512_9121330239410479642_nWith hearts full of sorrow, we remember you and your joyful spirit, precious little boy. You have been now gone from this earth more than you have been alive on it. Six months of missing you today.

But your legacy of joy and vivacity and enjoyment and love will forever live on.

Until we meet again, you will have a place in our hearts, in our conversations, in our family, in us.

Missing you more than all the words on earth could say, my Bubba Boo, Baby Blue.

Happy anniversary in heaven, sweetheart.

From mama, daddy and big sis.

Where’s the party at?

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If you follow Mama’s Haven on Instagram, you know by now that as a family, we have spent the last three days travelling in the South of Ireland. Our love for adventure, Dublin and everything Irish is nothing new but this time, we have been asked by Hotel Direct to give them a mention in relation to their New Year’s Eve campaign.
The campaign aims to look at and debunk certain myths regarding eight of the biggest cities in the UK. Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Manchester all get a mention and all get featured (and compared), but not maybe for the reasons we would expect them to!

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Looking at a number of criteria, including the average cost of a hotel room, the average cost of a pint and club entry and number of pubs per square mile, the low-cost accommodation specialist tries to determine the best place to party this New Year’s Eve.

So, for example, if you are a foodie, like me, your natural choice would be, according to the charts, the Dublin castle grounds where a food village will be hosted as part of the New Year’s celebrations!

But if you are looking for a refreshing way to start the New Year then maybe Edinburgh and its Loony Dook would be the place for you. What better way to make a statement for a fresh start than plunge yourself(or watch the brave do it :-) into the icy waters of the Forth?

If you are still young, with a racing heart and no early morning commitments, then Leeds might be the place for you. Bring your friends along, it is meant to be one of the UK’s top five retail destinations so a bit of retail therapy will do no harm, to calm the hangovers ;-)!

I will leave it up to you to have a look at the website’s infographics and decide which destination appeals to your taste, age and personality type. To make the choice even more appealing, when you quote NYEPARTY14 you can redeem a 10% discount on all telephone bookings made between 1/12/14-15/1/14.

Disclaimer: We were offered remuneration in order to put together this post and mention the above mentioned merchant but all opinions expressed are entirely ours.