Having a headstone on our daughters grave has been an incredibly sensitive and long decision to make. It has been one of those decisions we have had to make as a result of stillbirth that feels so completely unfair and wrong. The agonizing choice to take the name you so lovingly picked out in pregnancy and place it above the due date you were given, to be engraved on a headstone, is a task far too big than I have had strength for. It is beyond hard and to put something so final there makes our memories and daily life a reality to the world. Whilst to place the headstone on her grave would make it more aesthetically pleasing and comforting, it felt to me such a huge and final thing to do.

It was hard because it felt wrong. It was hard because it would be there for so many years to come and needed to be right. And, it was hard because it meant it would make it all so real – here is our daughter and here is what happened… here is the day we were never the same again…

But then, earlier this year we finally pushed ourselves to do it and when I received the email on wednesday evening to say they had finished and fitted it, I was both excited and anxious. I was excited to see it in real life, but I was anxious that it might not be right (or rather that it might hurt too much again to see her name there). When we arrived though we were all so delighted to see how truly lovely it looked. The kids hugged it and shouted with glee as they celebrated their sister and her little marked plot in this world! To finally cement and make it all real did feel strange, but to finally tell all around where she lay, who she was, how much love we have for her and who we lost, was both a moment of pride as well as heartache.

Why we chose the words we did 

We decided to write “Our Beautiful little Poppy Quinn Smith” because to us she will always be ours – Our little Poppy and our beautiful little girl. To many people stillborn babies are an uncomfortable sight and concept, but to those whose babies have died will know they are beautiful all the same and we wanted the world to know that this right here is our beautiful little girl.

We chose to put “Born sleeping” as it is a widely recognised (and a much softer) way of saying that she was stillborn. We took a while to put this line as nothing felt right and I sometimes get mad at the “Born sleeping” term – she wasn’t asleep because she never woke up. But after much deliberation it kinda just felt like the best thing to put to let people know how we lost her and it reflected how we initially chose to tell friends and family of her birth too.

A little flower lent not given, to bud on earth and bloom in heaven” – when I first read these words the year after we had her they spoke volumes to me. Our little flower perhaps was only lent to us for a season – to get life and then return home. Perhaps she was never meant to be given to us in this life to raise – I don’t know. But at the time it seemed fitting and seemed to describe her life perfectly. As to why I don’t have the answers to all of that and it rips me up sometimes to not understand why I couldn’t raise her now with her siblings, but we find that this one line certainly reflects how we see her life and what she is doing now.

Finally we ended with “Your love will light our way home“. Originally we were going to put “God be with you til we meet again”, which are the words of a well known hymn we sing at church. But then, right before we were going to send it off to be made I read the words “Your love will light our way home” and it touched my heart. I messaged Nathan at work and he agreed it was perfect. Her love, we hope surrounds us, moves us and guides us. We hope she watches over her siblings and helps our family and, having a child too perfect for this world and already in heaven, is great motivation and a light to follow in the darkness of this life. We wanted this line because throughout the years we hope it will stand as a reminder her siblings and to us of the eternal love we have as family and how we hope that that love will draw us all home again one day!

I love her headstone. The grey granite and black text reflect our temple in Preston where we were married and sealed back in 2009 and again remind us of the hope that our family will continue beyond death. We felt the combo looked cool and we love the petite size it is. But despite all of that symbolism, it also feels so hard to have it there too – so small and on a grave for a baby – our baby girl that would be turing 4 this year.

I love that she is acknowledged in the world now and that her plot of land is spruced up and lovely, but it hurts to see it all spelt out and yet, even with all of those mixed emotions I sat on Wednesday night in the sun and I realised that I would prefer to stare at that name than the dirt and fallen leaves. I would prefer for her name to be spoken than no one knowing anything about her!

Her little piece of this world is finally marked.

Her name is there for all to read.

She is recognised and remembered – her existence is acknowledged! 

Our little Poppy finally has a headstone and neat little corner of the cemetery. It shows the world our reality, our loss and mostly our love and a piece of our hearts. I loved seeing her siblings have so much joy to see her name there and have so much pride over her grave. They are full of love for her and often feel her absence too – we love you Poppy and are glad to share you with love and pride in our hearts for who you are in our little family.

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At the moment Mr Smith is working really hard at trying to shed a chunk of weight and is doing so well with it too (I am really proud of his efforts and determination). I too want to lose a few lbs for the Summer/beach days, but I am not by any means being as strict as he is. I am however supporting him in the areas that matter most and where our weak spots are, and this means changing up what we eat on our date nights!

Every Friday night we have a date night – It’s mostly ordering a pizza or curry and watching a film together, though occasionally we go out to eat or watch a film at the cinema too if we can get a sitter. I love date night and really look forward to not having to cook and just being able to chill together at the end of the week, doing something we love. Whilst we are pretty good at eating healthy most of the week, our weekend take outs aren’t the best when you want to shed a few LBs and so we have been aware for a while now that we really need to cut down on those to help Nath especially with his weight loss and save a bit of cash too. Sometimes we do really well and will buy posh, healthy ready meals from M&S or something fresh, but one thing’s for sure – we rarely cook!

This weekend though I made myself not give into the habit/desire to have a curry and instead quickly pulled together a “fakeaway” for us both! It was hard to get up and do it as I don’t particularly like cooking on date night (it doesn’t feel special to me), but as Nathan can’t really cook, unless I make something, the answer is a posho ready meal, eating out or take out! So on Friday, as we had established we didn’t want to do any of that, I ended up cooking! It wasn’t so bad though – I roasted a chicken, made some mint yogurt, chopped a salad and toasted a couple of wholemeal pitta – I presented him with “Fakeaway chicken Kebabs” and it was super tasty, fresh, low in calories, healthy and mega cheap too! We then used the leftover chicken yesterday in pesto wraps for lunch and he has been able to lose another 2lbs this week as a result!

I wasn’t keen to cook, but this creation tasted so nice I didn’t mind in the end and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Fakeaway Chicken Kebabs

This meal was so yummy and didn’t leave us with that heavy, groggy feel you sometimes get with eating a takeaway. I also love how cheap and easy it is to make, because (a) we need to be spending less and (b) by Friday I often can’t be bothered to cook! The kids had a sneaky bite before bed too, so if you are looking for a fresh Summer tea for you as a couple or to enjoy as a family, this might just hit the spot!

You will need …

Wholemeal Pitta bread (toasted)
A whole chicken Roasted (I used a piri in the bag one from Aldi – £3.99 or 1/2 price if you get there in the evening)
Salad – I used Lettuce, Red onion, cucumber, Tomatoes
Natural low fat yogurt
Mint sauce
Chilli Powder
Sugar 

Directions …

Roast the chicken in the oven. Whilst it cooks chop your salad and make the sauce.

For the sauce simply mix half a pot of natural yogurt with a tablespoon (or more) of mint sauce, 1/2 tsp (or more for flavour) of chilli powder and a tablespoon of sugar.

Finally toast pitta and half, and fill with cooked chicken, salad and yogurt!

ENJOY!

I love takeout now and then I’m not gonna lie, but after how tasty, easy and cheap these were to make, and after seeing how much difference it has made to Mr Smith’s weight loss goals this week, I will be sure to make even more of an effort to make healthier dishes for our date nights – I still want a curry once a month though – maybe!

 

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Last week was quite a week indeed, which I thoroughly enjoyed! From afternoon tea on the Monday, to a mini steam railway at the coast Thursday, our week has been filled with joyful things, little outings and now a 4 week countdown to the Summer holidays!

This coming week, whilst I have nothing in my diary as yet, also looks set to be great one too. With a forecast of bright sunshine and 21+ temperatures, I can’t wait to embrace the Summer and be outside some more with Alice having fun!

Grateful For …

This week I have been really grateful to live near my sisters and mum – Firstly because it was lovely to go out last Monday for afternoon tea and enjoyed the usual banter. Secondly to have a little tea party yesterday and wander/chat on Friday with my youngest sister. And finally I have been grateful that my mum came and had the kids on Wednesday for a couple of hours so that I could go into college earlier, and that sister babysat on Thursday so that Nathan and I could go out!

I am also incredibly grateful for the lovely students I have worked with these last few months on my course. I have found in each of them kindness and friendship and I am especially grateful for the little crew/team I had that offered so much motivation, help and encouragement. I couldn’t have done what I have without them and the support of Nathan at home and my local family with spots of childcare!

Succeeded At …

My biggest and most wonderful success this week was by far finishing my Level 3 in counselling skills. Gosh there have been weeks I have felt so far behind, or generally like I was ready to quit, but here I am on the other side of all of that and completed! I was so so happy to finally hand in my portfolio – nothing prepared me for how good that would really feel and I relished every moment!

Next I am hoping to get on the Counselling level 4 and then hopefully be practising in 2 yrs time.

This week I also managed to organise and declutter the girls room (though you can’t really tell now) and got on top of house work after neglecting it in order to prioritise my college work!

Found Beauty In …

Oh so many things this week. It always is the case when the weather is nice – my mood is better and therefore I notice more!

For me this week I have seen beauty in the moments wandering around the animal park with my friend on Wednesday and then seeing Alice loving the animals (mostly) and having a little picnic with her pal!

It was riding the little steam engine in Scarborough with Alice on Thursday and seeing her glee and excitement over it. And then, whilst she rested her head on my chest, we watched the sea beating down on the sea and looked over the bay as the world went by and we chilled on the little train. It was gorgeous!

Finally it was seeing my kids having fun with their cousins on Saturday… and then again yesterday! This week I have felt so fortunate to live around so many beautiful things and people and I am excited for another week of sunshine and adventures – and not college to rush off to!

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On Monday afternoon I enjoyed a relaxed and very tasty treat with my Mum, her friend and a couple of my sisters. We headed to Beverley to Patisserie Valerie where we enjoyed a rather yummy afternoon tea together. I love days like these and find them such a bonus of being a stay at home mum. With such a flexible schedule, it’s so nice some weeks to have little treats and afternoons out together.

June the 15th is both Mum and my youngest sisters birthday and each year we look for ways to celebrate with the girls! This year Mum specifically loved the idea of afternoon tea and so after finding a great little deal on Groupon, we decided to go for it.

I have never been to Patisserie Valerie before, but have heard wonderful things. I had high hopes and wasn’t at all disappointed with the taste, service and all round relaxed atmosphere. The decor is lovely and the presentation too. Alice joined us and was presented with her very own little babyccino, whilst we enjoyed refill hot chocolates and a stand oozing with yummy things. We had mini quiches, chicken, pesto and sundried tomato sandwiches, as well as old faves like egg, cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and ham!

The scones were delicious too with an array of jams and clotted cream, as well as the choice of fruit or plain! And then came the final layer – the mini cakes and fresh cream delights. It was all so lovely and anything we didn’t eat, they bagged up for us to take home.

For £19 for 2 people it was both a bargainous and a most lovely afternoon out with Mum and some of my sisters. It was chilled and just fantastic to do something a little bit different together to celebrate their birthdays!

On the morning of I was wondering “what does one wear?” … I knew that whilst Patisserie Valerie is rather nice, it didn’t warrant going over the top and so kept it smart casual! They all dressed up with pretty tops, jeans and nice shoes (thanks for the memo guys) but I kept my look more chilled with a black slogan T Shirt from H&M – “We Are Strong” (£3 in the sale) and my stripe trousers from New Look (a freebie from my sister in law). I dressed my look up with my DP tassel earrings that Mr Smith bought me last year from my birthday and felt my smart cas look was just right!

I loved our little afternoon ladies outing and would love to go again for lunch or a little treat! It would make the prefect date destination or a catch up with special friends. I always love the days I can get together with my sisters – especially when it involves cakes and fancy things!

This is not a sponsored post. If you would like to get a voucher too then you can find them here – Patisserie Valerie Groupon

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