Sunday, 18 November 2018

Cherry bakewell flapjacks

Cherry bakewell vegan flapjacks

For a long time now (on and off through most of my adult life) I've been trying to find and develop the perfect flapjack recipe. When I say perfect, I mean perfect for my taste - I want to taste the golden syrup (my god I love that stuff), I want them to be sticky, but have a chewiness to them, and slightly edges. There's been many bad batches, many failures, but I finally think I've found the perfect balance and the perfect recipe. It also just so happens to be vegan - very adaptable :) Let's get started!

Flapjacks before icing

Ingredients


For the base flapjack, you'll need:

400g Porridge oats
200g Flora dairy free (this can be any spread/butter you like)
200g Light muscavado sugar (or do 100g of this, and 100g soft brown sugar)
200g Golden syrup

To make the bakewell flapjacks, you'll also need:

200g (one pot) of Glace Cherries, roughly chopped
75g Flaked almonds
1/2 mug icing sugar
Splash of water
(to make them more bakewell like, add a couple spoons of ground almonds)

Flapjack close up

Method

(Preheat your oven to 200c or 180c fan)
1. Weigh your oats out and put them in a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan, add the sugar, golden syrup and Flora dairy free and melt it together on a low heat, stirring regularly.
3. Roughly chop the cherries and add to the oats.
4. Line a square 20cm baking tin with greaseproof paper/baking paper
5. Once melted, add to the porridge oats and add the almonds, stir well until all mixed together.
6. Add the mixture to the baking tin and pat down firmly with a spatula
7. Pop in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the edges are changing colour, then take out and allow to cool in the tin before removing onto a cooling tray or chopping board.
8. (optional) Once completely cooled, mix up your icing sugar with a touch of water until you get the right consistency, and drizzle over the flapjacks (I used a piping bag for this, but you could just dip a spoon and drizzle). Leave ideally overnight for the icing to set.
9. Eat them all, nom nom nom!

If you make them please let me know, I'd love to know what you think of them :)


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Monday, 12 November 2018

10 tips for breastfeeding mums

Breastfeeding Dot in the woods

If you're planning on breastfeeding your baby, or if you've just started on your journey and are looking for some tips, you've come to the right place. A little bit about me and my journey - our journey started 4 years ago with my first child. Despite all our attempts, breastfeeding didn't happen to us - there were no support groups where I lived, I didn't know about Facebook support groups etc. I pumped every 2 hrs for 6 weeks until I couldn't pump so much as a drop.

Then 2 years later, I fell pregnant with my 2nd child. This time I was determined to make it happen. Thankfully, the day he was born, he latched and we successfully fed. For the first couple/few weeks we combination fed (I'd say he was 95% breastfed, with 1-2 formula top ups a day), since then we dropped the top ups and at 15 months we're still going strong. I've learned a lot on this journey, both first hand, and from reading the wonderful messages and advice in the support groups I'm in. So without further ado, here are my tips for breastfeeding mums.

1. Possibly the most important tip, your breastmilk IS enough for your baby. As long as they are having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, then you're making enough milk for them. 

2. If they're feeding around the clock, and you feel like they're not getting enough - they're cluster feeding and upping your supply. Think of it like they're putting their orders in for milk for the next day or so - breastfeeding is about supply and demand - so when they're on the breast constantly, they're putting their orders in, it's not necessarily about quenching that thirst.

3. Positioning can have a massive impact on the comfort of breastfeeding - if they're slightly too high up on your arm, it could cause a shallow latch, which is painful. Another indication of a shallow latch is having lipstick shaped nipples after a feed. Always try to get face to face support for help with positioning, either from a breastfeeding/peer-to-peer support worker, or a lactation consultant. 

4. Try not to pump during the first 6 weeks if you can as it could give you an oversupply (remember the supply and demand thing?). If you need to pump for relief (or if you have blocked ducts/mastitis etc), then try to just pump enough for relief.

5. Join the Facebook support groups Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies and UK parenting and breastfeeding support - there's an amazing wealth of knowledge in there - personally, they've saved our journey more than once.

6. Keep hydrated! Get a pack of bottled water, keep it next to the sofa, and get a good Netflix series - you're going to become very well acquainted with the sofa over the next couple months, so make sure the essentials are close by. Not being well enough hydrated *can* have an effect on your supply, so keeping hydrated is important.

7. Get yourself some Lansinoh nipple cream, and apply it pretty generously to your nipples after each feed - it'll really help take the edge off any discomfort and dryness/cracking.

8. Don't bother with breastfeeding cookies, or drinks, or any other things that are trying to sell you food/drink to up your supply. Things like oats to up your supply has recently been debunked. The only proven way to help up your supply (after the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding), is removal of milk (that means pumping/expressing). 

9. Feed on demand, your baby will let you know when they're hungry, which will probably be most of the time at the beginning :) However, in those early days, try not to let your baby go more than 5 hrs without a feed, their blood sugars can drop low if they go too long without a feed. If they're having trouble staying awake for feeds (we had a nightmare with this!), try stripping them down to the nappy before a feed, change their nappy, stroke their arms/feet/cheeks etc to rouse them as they dose off on the breast. As they get older it won't be so much of an issue as they'll naturally be more alert.

10. You've got this, you CAN do this. And you know what? In a few weeks you'll be really glad you stuck with it, not just for your baby and all the benefits that come with breastfeeding, but because after those first few tough weeks, it gets much easier. 

If you've reached this point, and you're considering introducing formula, obviously that's completely your decision to make and should be free of judgement from anyone - you know what's best for your baby. Just ask yourself a couple questions - why do you want to introduce it? If it's because you don't think they're getting enough milk from you - as long as they have lots of wet and dirty nappies then they're getting enough milk. If it's because you're not pumping as much, well pumping isn't an indication of supply - some breasts don't respond well to pumping. And lastly, if you're thinking of introducing formula to help them sleep better at night, please read this first.


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Monday, 8 October 2018

I now have a 4 year old

Squidge looking adorable on a lump of wood in the woods

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Squidge is now 4 years old. Where have the last 4 years gone? It’s funny, I’ve been fine at him turning different ages, not emotional, just excited for him, but this time I’ve found it quite tough. The difference in his development from age 3-4 has been incredible, and much more noticeable compared to previous years. He’s transformed from a toddler who no one other than me and a couple of others can understand, to a smart, funny, silly, loving little boy.

He still wants lots of mummy cuddles, and tells me he loves me 100 times a day (I never tire hearing that), but I can now see that he’s relying less on us as he’s able to do more for himself. I think what has made it more emotional is knowing we’re not having any more children, we decided to stop at two for lots of reasons – we’d need to buy a bigger house, new cars, I’d be 40 by then which brings its own risks, and we want to be grateful for what we have – two wonderful healthy smart little boys. But emotionally, I’m not done. I would love to have another, but it’s not on the cards.

Me tickling Squidge on my lap in the woods

Anyway, back to Squidge. This last year we’ve seen him become a lovely thoughtful big brother (ok, it’s not all rainbows and lollipops, he can get very angry with his little brother and too rough, but for the most part he’s great with him), his speech has come on leaps and bounds, he’s learning a second language (Welsh) and doing very well with it, he’s started gymnastics classes, he’s progressed so much with swimming classes that he now doesn’t need anyone to go in the pool with him! You just never know when these last times are going to happen do you?

He’s always been a pretty good sleeper, with the exception of the odd night terror (usually around 10:45pm) – he still gets those, but they only happen maybe once a month, whereas they used to be a couple times a week. He typically wakes up happy, the only exception to that is when we have to wake him up really early in the week for School and he’s still very tired. We physically can’t get him to bed any earlier than we do in the week, we’re not home until about 6pm (sometimes later), and the kids bedtime is 7:30 (they often don’t finish eating until 7:20).

Squidge running towards the camera

He loves playing with his toy cars, especially now that he's had an influx of new ones for his birthday (thanks to all his friends), he's getting into Lego too. One thing I'm having trouble convincing him to do is crafts - he used to love it when he was younger - getting card out and doing some painting or sticking, but he's just not interested any more. He prefers to play on the Xbox (car driving games) or iPad (Sago mini games) although to be fair he's spending less time on them now too - doesn't go on them every day etc.

He's just growing up so incredibly fast I can't keep up. Anyway, hubby is snoring behind me, I'd better go and do the washing up/express/make lunch for tomorrow :) 

Did you find it emotional when your little ones turned 4? Any tips on coping with stopping having babies when you want more?
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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A magical weekend

Dot in his new Micralite pram
In the lead up to this last bank holiday weekend, I wanted to do something every day with the kids. It didn’t have to be anything big, but take them out somewhere and do something nice. There were a few things on my radar to go to and I made sure we did all of them. The weekend could have easily been a bad one if we’d let it, one of the mornings Squidge was acting up (Sat morning), and over the weekend Dot was really unhappy, crying a lot, after his failed dairy challenge (more on that soon). But we didn’t let it put us off, and as per usual, both kids were complete poppets when we were out.

Friday

Dot pulling a funny face

I don’t work Friday’s, and I usually treat a Friday as a cosy day at home with the kids, just me and them, I love Fridays. But this Friday I had errands to run, I had to go to the post office to return some things, I wanted to get Squidge measured for new school shoes, and Dot measured for his first shoes. And ideally, I wanted to go to Caerphilly castle to see the new maze and dragon’s lair. We managed to get the post office done, and the shoe shopping, but then it hammered down, and I didn’t fancy the castle (outdoors) in heavy rain. So we popped to the bakery, got some nice bread and headed home. I promised Squidge we’d find time for Caerphilly castle over the weekend.

Saturday

Butterfly

Dragon's lair at Caerphilly Castle

To make the most of the weather, we decided to do this on Saturday as no rain was forecast. Squidge loved the butterfly zoo (he was too young to remember the first time we took him (maybe about 8 months old). But as much as he loved it, he was bored after 15 mins, he is only 3 after all, and was excited about the hedge maze. So off we went, he wanted him and Daddy to go left, and Dot and I to go right (me knowing I can’t get to the middle of the maze if I go right…), so off we went! Well, it went as well as you can imagine, Squidge and hubby found the middle of the maze in about 5 mins, I was stuck in there for 16 mins until they came to find me, lol. After that we sat down and had our picnic. It was still pretty early, about 1:30, so we decided to head back to Caerphilly and go straight to the castle (as I’d promised) to do their new maze and visit the Dragon’s Lair. Squidge loved it! He listened to the dragon’s story in Welsh and English, and then ran off to explore the castle to find the maze. He particularly loved the bit where he got soaked with water, he’d have stood there all day getting soaked if I’d let him.

I recorded a vlog of the day, you can watch it here :)

Sunday

Roast dinner

We wanted a quieter day on Sunday, so after lunch we packed ourselves off in the torrential rain and headed off to a new-to-us t-rex themed soft play. Both kids had an absolute blast! It’s set up along one wall, so parents can sit and have a cuppa, while the kids play and you can keep your eyes on them. There was an area for smaller kids, and Dot loved that – his first experience of soft play, and playing with other kids. He was nervous at first, but then just wanted to go down the slide again and again and again : ) It was a pretty terrifying drive for me, I don’t like driving down country lanes at the best of times, but when I have to force the car to drive through puddles that look like we could swim through, I get very scared!

Monday

hubby and kids at the royal mint

the royal mint
An olympic medal

We knew we wanted to go somewhere, probably a national trust place, but we didn’t know where. Squidge had been to our favourite NT place twice in the last week or so, and the weather wasn’t looking great. We were tired from the weekend and didn’t want to do anything big. After a bit of Googling I found the Royal Mint Experience (in Llantrissant, 25 mins from us). Perfect – a tour of the mint, strike a coin, and back home. It was great! Fun to see them being made in the factory and Squidge loved it. We had a picnic sat outside on the benches after, and then headed home (via Tesco so I could buy what I needed to make an apple crumble for pudding).

All in all a lovely weekend. Kids were happy, in fact, so happy from the weekend, it took them an age to fall asleep Monday night, hopefully they’ll sleep better tonight as GBBO and a cup of tea is calling : )

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Monday, 13 August 2018

My breastfeeding journey

My children

You might say my breastfeeding journey started with Squidge was born, in October 2014. It'd never entered my head that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed, I honestly never realised that could be a thing. I'd bought a bottle and a steraliser, but that was for expressed milk, although stupidly I'd bought 12 bottles (why on earth did I buy so many?!).

When Squidge was born we had skin to skin about 10 mins after, he had to be resuscitated first as he didn't breathe on his own, and he remained very blue. But after a few mins he was absolutely perfect and ready for his first cuddles, and I was ready for my first cuddle as a mummy. After maybe 30-60 mins (I honestly can't really remember how long) the nurse told me he needed to feed (especially as I had gestational diabetes), I said I wanted to breastfeed, she tried to get him to latch but couldn't, so she expressed some milk from me and gave him that in a syringe.

Off I was wheeled to the ward, where we had another couple attempts to feed, again unsuccessful. They handed me a load of syringes, and off I went, spending every waking moment through the night frantically expressing and making my nipples super sore, so he could have my colostrum. They checked his blood sugars, and they were frighteningly low. They said I had two hours to get his sugars up, or he was going to be taken to the special care baby unit (SCBU). They brought down a heat lamp and put that over him. He had my colostrum, but it was deemed not enough to bring his sugars up, and the midwives gave him formula via a cup. Up his sugars went, and SCBU was avoided. Fantastic. 

Breastfeeding Dot in the woods, black and white

A day or two later we were sent home, having never had a successful breastfeed, despite that being my chosen feeding method. I wasn't given any details of support groups, or anything like that. After getting home, hubby rushes out to buy a load of ready made formula. Despite my best intentions, I wasn't going to let Squidge starve. It's not like I didn't have any milk (that came in on day 4), but he wouldn't latch, every time I brought him to the breast he screamed and screamed and screamed and it didn't stop until he was fed a bottle. I tried for weeks, and we never had so much as one full successful feed.

A breastfeeding support worker did randomly turn up at our house the day after we got back, which was great, she got him to latch, with the use of a nipple shield, but it was only for a minute or two. That was it. I felt so awful. I was expressing every 2-3 hours, but not getting much milk each time, so whereas I wanted him to be fed my breastmilk and only topped up with formula, the opposite was the reality. After 6 weeks, my milk completely dried up, I sobbed my heart out. I felt like I'd failed him, and in all honesty, I still feel like that. I know I could have tried harder, and I should have, but I didn't, I gave up.

Fast forward 2 years and 10 months, and lovely little Dot arrives. This time I'm adamant I'm going to make it work. Dot is born, and plonked straight on my chest for skin to skin, and after 2 mins whisked away for some suction, and brought right back (we sadly didn't get the delayed clamping I wanted, but that's ok). He stayed cwtched up to me on my chest for what felt like hours, it was wonderful, I drank in every second of it (even while I was being stitched up). I expected a midwife to come and weigh him, but I think they were busy. About 3+ hrs after he was born, I buzz a midwife and ask for him to be weight so we can feed him. They weigh him (8lb 10.5 oz) and with that my inlaws arrive. A support worker walks in with a bottle of formula, and before I knew what was going on, he was being given his first feed. Formula. 

Dot breastfeeding, close up

The next day or so are a bit of a haze. I can't even remember how long I was in hospital for. I do remember being given a private room, and really struggling to get Dot to latch on. I had midwife after midwife come in and tell me he had to be in the rugby ball hold because I had big boobs, but it didn't work, he hated it. I tried lying down, that didn't work either. Eventually while there we had a couple successful small feeds, but I wasn't confident I was leaving hospital as a breastfeeding mum. He'd had a lot of formula top ups, but I was still determined to make breast work. Every feed I tried, and each time it got a little easier than the last, and slowly over the course of the next few weeks, we dropped the formula top ups from just being around midnight and 3am(ish) or if we were out and about, to none at all, he was now an exclusively breastfed baby. But it wasn't without it's trials.

About two weeks into our journey, I developed horrendous pain in my nipples. I felt like I was passing shards of glass every time he fed. My left nipple was cracked and infected, and my left breast was in agony, it was red and very hot to touch, and so so so tender. After getting home from the hospital, a local breastfeeding support group text me with their number. I called them as I was in so much pain, and within an hour someone was out to help. I had blocked ducts on top of the other issues, but when I expressed off the left breast, no milk came out at all, not even one drop. I went to the Drs and was diagnosed with mastitis and given antibiotics. It cleared up pretty quickly, but as the pain had been so bad, and my ducts blocked, Dot wouldn't feed on the left, and as such, my supply in that breast dropped (and has never recovered).

It's now a year on (give or take a day or two), and we're still going strong. It's been a tough journey, even recently I'm battling pain in the right nipple as his latch is still shallow (lazy) and his top teeth are grazing my nipple, but we persevere. He doesn't sleep through the night, he wakes to feed every couple hours, and you know what, I couldn't care less. I love the bond we have, I love feeding him, I love knowing the nourishment he gets from it and the comfort. I don't plan on stopping any time soon, I'm happy to take his lead, he'll know when he's ready and when that time comes, we'll stop.

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Saturday, 4 August 2018

Why saying 'Fed is Best' is dangerous | World Breastfeeding Week

As a disclaimer before we get into this, I am NOT bashing formula feeding. I formula fed Squidge after failing to breastfeed, I own that I did that, and I’m not ashamed. How a mother decides to feed her baby is her choice, and shouldn’t be made to feel bad for her choices, whether that’s formula or breastfeeding, and believe me, both get made to feel bad by others.

Me breastfeeding Dot in the woods

It’s no secret that Britain has some of the worst breastfeeding rates in the entire world, not just the developed world, but the whole world. Just let that sink in for a moment. A country that is wealthy, well educated, with a free health service, most things we could ever want, yet we have some of the worst rates for breastfeeding.

Fed is best


Ok, so I used to totally agree that what’s most important for a baby is to be fed, and I still don’t really disagree with that. But the whole ‘fed is best’ movement or approach is damaging to breastfeeding. Lets face is, fed is required, babies have to be fed. What is best, scientifically is breastmilk. Again, not bashing formula, I’m just stating facts. If you look at the list of ingredients on a carton of formula, you’ll see lots of vitamins and minerals, it’s a synthetic mix of dried milk with added nutrition, it will meet your babies needs.

The breast is best movement isn’t about shaming bottle feeding mums, it’s about promoting breastfeeding as the norm, quite simply it IS what is best for baby. 

What a lot of people don’t seem to realise, is all the super amazing things that are in breastmilk, naturally. As well as amazing things like stem cells, they are also full of antibodies which help your baby to battle illnesses. 

"Breast milk contains more than 200 known beneficial elements, with more being discovered all the time. For example, researchers believe that a recently discovered fatty acid in breast milk promotes the growth of a baby's brain and retina and may even enhance cognitive development. Many of these elements, including infection-fighting white cells, can't be manufactured." - Babycentre

Me breastfeeding Dot

'Fed is best' encourages switching to formula

I’ll give you a scenario. Imagine a mum who’s struggling to breastfeed, her baby is 6 weeks old and cluster feeding (absolutely normal). Mum feels like because the baby is on her breast all the time, that she’s not making enough milk. Baby is being fussy when coming off as baby is also getting comfort from the breast, and going through a developmental growth spurt (leap), making them extra fussy too. Feeling like her milk isn’t enough, in desperation she reaches for some formula, gives baby a huge feed (at this age the formula box recommends a 4-5oz feed, whereas on the breast baby would be getting about 1.5oz per hour), knocking the baby into a deep sleep. This affirms her fears that her milk isn’t enough (which wasn’t actually the case), and slowly starts to transition to formula, her milk starts to dry up. Mum feels like she’s doing the right thing for her baby as baby is now less fussy and filling up more, and getting more sleep. But all along, it was just a growth spurt and baby wanting to be close to mum.

The issue here is education. Lack of knowledge. When I had my first, I had no idea about any of this, I had no support, wasn’t a member of breastfeeding support groups to help me learn about all this. I expressed for 6 weeks until my milk dried up, Squidge never had a successful breastfeed, despite trying. If knew then, what I know now, I’m almost certain I could have made it work.

We need to be supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed and not encourage them to switch to formula because it’s ‘easier’ or more convenient, or because others have an issue with it. Breastfeeding should be the NORM, but instead it’s socially frowned upon and whenever us mums do talk about it, or show pride in it, formula feeding mums tell us it makes them feel bad, or that we’re shaming them, when in actual fact, we’re just trying to promote breastfeeding (and not shame bottle feeders).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to talk about this without fear of a massive backlash. I’m already bracing myself for the backlash this might get, but I feel so strongly that we need to talk about it in a non-confrontational way, so I’m talking about it anyway.

What experiences have you had with breastfeeding?

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The Gruffalo's Child | New Theatre Cardiff

Today has been a rare treat, a mummy & Squidge day out together. Seeing as he's nearly 4, he feels the right sort of age to start to enjoy the theatre. We've taken him to a couple productions before (Goldilocks ballet & Ben & Holly) but that was a year ago and he was really too young to enjoy it.

So when The New Theatre got in touch to invite us along to review The Gruffalo's Child, we jumped at the change! As Dot is only 11 months old he is totally the wrong age to go - if he was younger, he could have just lay in our arms, or older, he could enjoy it, but he'd have just wanted to get down and walk/crawl. So just Squidge and I went, and made a proper little trip of it.

We started off heading out at 9:30am, with my fresh driving independence (passed 7th June), I drove us to the park & ride that's 20 mins away (to save us parking and driving into the city centre), and we had a fun little bus ride into town. From there we went straight to the Theatre, picked up a little stuffed Gruffalo's Child (£12!), some sweets and headed to our seats.


The stage looked fantastic, simple, but practical and enchanting. The woods backdrop reversed to reveal the Gruffalo's cave, and the tree's you can see moved about the stage as well. We waited patiently for the show to begin.

Up until this point we'd been big fans of The Gruffalo, having read it to Squidge as a bedtime story for years, but we hadn't read The Gruffalo's Child. I'd headed over to Asda on Friday and picked up a copy, we read it lots before the play so it felt familiar.

The show kicked off with three actors who play all the characters (I wish I had photo's here to show you!), and their costumes were great! What I really liked is that through story of the Gruffalo explaining to The Gruffalo's Child how he'd met the mouse, it was like a recap of The Gruffalo story.

There were lots of songs and audience participation (which Squidge tells me was his favourite part (clapping slow, then faster!)) which help keep the kids engaged. I loved the bit with the fox as the music went all ska-like.

The show itself lasted an hour with no intermission. Personally, we'd have preferred it to either be shorter, or have an intermission as Squidge really struggled when we got to about half hour in.

The show was great, well produced and entertaining. The only thing that would have improved it for us, would have been it being a little shorter.

Once that was over, we headed to St Davids 2 to get Squidge some ice cream, we were heading to the Gelato place, but as we got there it had gone, and in it's place was a Thai-style ice cream place, I gave him the choice of that or a Krispy Kreme donut, he wanted ice cream.


After that I took him for another surprise, to the Build-a-bear workshop for his first bear. I told him he could pick any bear he liked, and he went straight for Skye :) We accessorised her with some clothes and her jet pack, and carried her home, Squidge absolutely adores her :) 


After that, we headed straight home on the park & ridge bus, absolutely shattered, but happy :) 
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*The tickets to the Gruffalo's Child were gifted for an honest review
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Friday, 22 June 2018

DRIVING? THEN GET OFF YOUR PHONE!

A Hyundai i30 in Grey

While walking Dot home from dropping Squidge off at School this morning, the traffic next to me was moving slowly, as usual. I glanced over as I saw a car had a huge gap in front of it (the car in front had moved off, but this one hadn't) and I could see the driver (middle aged woman) staring down at her phone, she'd not noticed the traffic move. Then the car behind her, young guy, busy texting and not looking at the road, and the same went on for the 5 cars behind them. 

I cannot say this strongly enough, GET OFF YOUR FUCKING PHONE IF YOU'RE DRIVING! What Facebook/Snapchat/Twitter/Instagram update is so fucking important, it's worth risking your life, and more to the point, the lives of innocent bystanders, just so you can tweet/post whatever? NONE, that's the answer, nothing is that important. It can wait until you reach your destination and turn the engine off. 

We all know using your phone while driving is dangerous, if you take a call, you're distracted - that goes for Bluetooth headsets too - the act of a phone call is a big distraction. But then we have people who are texting or posting updates and as such are driving while NOT LOOKING AT THE ROAD. Lets just let that sink in for a second shall we. Driving, in charge of a vehicle capable of killing people, and you're not even looking at the goddam road. And bear in mind, where I saw this today was by a bloody School!!!!!

Currently if you get caught using a handheld device while driving, you get a £200 fine and 6 points on your license (CU80). If you're a new driver (first 2 years of driving) that'll be enough to get your licence REVOKED. If that happens, you'll have to re-do your theory and practical test, reapply for a provisional license too, once your ban has ended. And you have to ask yourself too, could you actually live with yourself if you killed someone with your car, because you were distracted on your phone? Just take a moment to think about that. Someone actually losing their life, someone's son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father, because you were texting. It's not worth it. Do yourself a favour and keep your phone out of reach. Put it in the boot before you get in the car and you won't be tempted to check it.

Please, just put your phone away when you're driving. 
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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Back to work

Squidge running towards the camera
You might be wondering where I've been these past couple months. It's all been a bit crazy to be honest! So about 2.5 months ago, I went for my return to work meeting. At that meeting it became apparent my old job no longer existed, so it was time for me to brush up my CV, and HR were going to try and find me a new job that matched my skills in the business (it's a big company, so this shouldn't be a stretch).

A couple weeks went by, and eventually they created a role for me, one that matched my skills well, and one there was a need for. After a couple weeks on gardening leave, I returned to work (like, 5 weeks ago now, where has that time gone?!). 

For the first 3-4 weeks, each week we had a different routine, which was unsettling for Squidge. First week I was taking him to School and heading into work late, second and third week he spent at Nanny & Grandad's and not in School (so he was at theirs early), and 4th week he started at a childminders for the first 2 hrs of the day (she gives him breakfast and takes him to School). It's taking him a while to adapt as he struggles with change, but we'll get there.

Then last week I had my driving test (OMG scariest thing I've done!) and I passed, first time! Whoop! And with only 3 minors :D That's all well and good, but OMG I'm terrified driving the family car! I've had some bad drives in it too, I'll be glad when I'm a better and more comfortable driver.

Dot has been great, he's handled the change really well. I was so worried as he's exclusively breastfed and feeds on demand (usually every 2 hrs), but he's adapted to having 4 x 2oz bottles a day really well (with sippy cups of water and/or hemp milk at food times too). If you have a formula fed baby you might find is shocking he only has 2oz, but breastfed babies only typically have 1.5oz per hour. Dot has always fed little and often. And as he's practically 10 months old now, he's losing his reliance on it too. He still feeds from me at 6am, 5:30pm, 7:30, 11:00, 2am, 4am and back to 6am, but as is typical, only for about 5 mins at a time.

I've found juggling work and home life quite challenging, hubby and I find that we don't get to sit down until about 10pm most nights. That's when I express and he plays the Xbox (every couple nights I play). What I've struggled the most with is my tiredness, I'm feeling pretty wiped out most days as I'm doing a full (hectic) day of work, driving (which is exhausting at this stage) and then I'm up half the night feeding Dot (my Fitbit tells me I'm getting an average of 4-5 hrs (interrupted) sleep a night. Not enough :/ To try and combat this I've bought myself a few nice pampering bits and bobs from The Body Shop (via Groupon to save some pennies!) - I've ordered a mango exfoliating body scrub (sounds amazing!), a pink grapefruit shower gel (I love this!) and my favourite blueberry body butter, I cannot wait to have a little relax and pamper :) 

So there you have it, life has been busy, but I'm still here :) I'm trying to vlog regularly too (although I'm failing at that too... but if you do want to watch our vlogs, you can visit my channel here).

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Saturday, 31 March 2018

Dot's cows milk protein allergy story

Dot crawling on the floor

When Dot was a few weeks old, I grew concerned. I noticed that he had a rash over him, he was screaming and arching his back when feeding, especially if it was after I'd had chocolate or something milky, his poops were very explosive and stank of vinegar and he had silent reflux.

I did a bit of digging on the internet and became increasingly concerned he might have a cows milk protein allergy (CMPA). So off we went to the Drs. He prescribed infant Gaviscon to address the silent reflux - now giving a breastfed baby Gaviscon is no picnic, you have to make it up with 15ml water (or breastmilk) and spoon feed it to them before each breastfeed (bloody impossible if you ask me!). I did this once, and decided there and then I wasn't going to do it again, instead I was going to cut out dairy (and soya) from my diet to see if that helped.

A few days later I'd bought all the dairy-free (DF) alternatives I needed and was ready to cut it out. About 3 days later I saw a pretty big improvement in Dot. His rash had pretty much gone, he was calmer and the nappies were improving. Then about 2 weeks later, he was transformed to a totally normal baby, proof that he had an issue with cows milk. But I wasn't sure about soya. I'd excluded that as the protein strand for soya is very similar to cows milk, and if they are allergic to one, they're most likely unable to easily digest the other. About a month after being dairy free, I decided to test with soya - I had some vanilla custard donuts from Sainsburys that were so so amazing, they had soya flour in them.

Within hours Dot was reacting - back to screaming and arching his back on the breast, bad nappies and a very unhappy baby. I now knew I had to exclude soya too, just as I had been, not a big deal.

So far in 6+ months I've only had 2 slip-ups, first one was about a 4-6 weeks ago and it was a bad one. I'd bought some sweet potato falafals from Waitrose (I'd had them before and they'd been dairy free). For what must be the first time since going DF, I forgot to check the label. After 2 days of grazing on them, I thought to check... low and behold, milk was the 2nd ingredient on the list. Dot reacted and was bad for 6-7 days, I felt awful :( I should do better. Then a couple weeks ago, hubby bought some sausages with the weekly shop, I'd always checked them and they'd always been fine, but he'd bought a different brand to normal (Richmond). I saw a FB post in the CMPA group I'm in about how sausages all have soya in... I quickly went online to check the ingredients as we'd had Richmond sausages the night before, and 4 days before that - yep, SOYA, goddam soya, WHY? I'd done it again, failed my baby and he was paying the price :( 4 days of bad nappies, unhappy and lots of tears.

For the most part, it's been pretty easy changing my diet to dairy free, I've even filmed a YT video talking about the swaps you can make, you really do just have to be really vigilant and check every label every single time just in case the ingredients have changed (which happens...).


If you suspect a dairy allergy in your baby, please do go and speak to your GP. It can be really hard to diagnose, but be persistent if you believe that's what's wrong. And if you're breastfeeding, cut out dairy and soya and see if that helps, that should help you whittle it down :) If you're interested in following our journey, I've started a YouTube series called 'Dairy Free Friday's' where I talk about different aspects of a dairy allergy, if you want to keep an eye, our playlist is here.
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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Attack on Titan 2

Attack on Titan 2

If you're a long term reader of my blog, you'll know I have a fairly deep love of anime, as does the hubby. Our tastes differ quite a bit, I adore the more cutesy films, pretty much all Studio Ghibli and other random films like The Girl that Lept Through Time (great film!), whereas the hubby prefers anime series like Steins; Gate, Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan. So when the opportunity arose for us him to get our his mitts on a review copy of the latest series of Attack on Titan 2, he jumped at the chance. Here's what he thought.

***** WARNING, CONTAINS SPOILERS *****

Series 2 picks up where series 1 left off, focussing on the main character Eren Jeager. In the first season, you see Eren become a titan and go on to help fight off other titans, but there's distrust in the military for him as he's a titan, whereas the military is trying to fight them and stop them (think Avatar).

The military suspect that there are other soldiers that can turn themselves into titans but they're torn - as much as Eren wants all the titans dead (thanks to them destroying his mother in season 1) they also want to learn more about them (again, think Avatar).

Eren

During the season they discover a new type of abnormal titan, a beast titan (a bigger and more fierce titan that's seriously strong) and they find a big horde of titans have breached the wall. The scout regiment set out to take down the titans and find the breach in the wall, but despite searching they can't find the breach. 

They do however find villages that appear to have been attacked by titans. The villagers appear to have escaped, but they've left all their horses, and there's no sign of blood or bodies. The plot thickens!

After the scout regiment survives a siege of titans at an abandoned castle, two titans (an armoured one and a colossal one) kidnap Eren. Does he escape? Does he destroy his captors? You'll have to watch to find that bit out :)
beast titan

I really liked how the series is very un-typical of the usual anime tropes - so in this most of the women don't have giant boobs and are actually well covered, so it doesn't play to the typical young teenager target audience. 

The continuity between both seasons is great - continuation of story line and fantastic animation. It's easy to pick up where it left off and be re-absorbed back into their post-apocalyptic world, fighting to save humanity from the Titans.

If you're looking to dip your toe into the world of anime series, Attack on Titan is a great window in to the anime world (obviously start with season 1), but be warned, it can be very dark. It doesn't have the cheery upbeat of a Miyazaki film, but it is absorbing and engrossing. I'm really looking forward to seeing more.


You can pick up the DVD/Bluray from good stockists from around £19.99 upwards.

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*Bluray copy supplied for review purposes
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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

I have this thing for...

A picture of my front door, a floor I like and my bedding

You know how you see these hashtags on Instagram #IHaveThisThingForFloors and #IHaveThisThingForDoors? Well, that's me. I massively have a thing for doors, so much so when we bought our house nearly 2 years ago I spent quite a bit of money getting rid of the horrid mahogany uPVC door that was there (with the tiniest window) and updated it to a lovely light green composite door that looks very beautiful.

A picture of my front door

I also have this thing for bedding. Yep, sounds boring, but OMG I love a good duvet cover! Sad I know, but for me, I see it as a way to really dress up and refresh a room, regularly, and much more easily than painting the walls or wall papering. Most days I venture over to the supermarket opposite my house to browse their bedding (and cushions), or filling my virtual basket over on Groupon and TK Maxx with fine linens that behold a high thread count that I know will feel like the best hotel linen when I get into bed. Lets face it, the day you change your bedding over is pretty awesome, everything feels so soft and crisp. And over the years my tastes have really changed - I used to like plain colours for bedding, but now I'm really floral (getting older tastes I think!).

A picture of my bedding

Lastly, I also have this thing for floors, beautiful tiled floors, oh how I wish I could have a beautiful tiled floor in my hallway! I've had quotes for up over £2,000 to do it, and it's not exactly a big hall way - maybe one day I'll save up and get it done, I know it'd be beautiful and add value to the house. Ok maybe not 2k's worth, but it would still look fantastic :) 

A picture of some floor tiles I really like

I also have a bit of a penchant for taking pictures of floors and putting them on Instagram when I find them. In fact, you might say I have a thing for tiles more than floors. I'm already planning on having our downstairs bathroom re-done, and with pretty extravagant tiles - a nice plain white suite and of course, a beautiful floor.

What do you have a thing for?
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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

2018 Goals

Dot on his tummy

Initially I wasn't going to set any goals for this year, but as time went by I kept thinking of things I wanted to achieve this year, so thought it made sense to actually make and set some goals for myself. Not so much new years resolutions, but things to work towards to achieve.

The video highlights my main goals, but there's a couple extra I've thought of since I filmed that. So in addition, I'd also like to:

7. Continue to be healthy. A little while ago I decided to cut a lot of the crap out of my diet. I was having syrup in all my coffee's at home, I was having a packet of cashew nuts each day (honey roasted) which was also expensive! and I wasn't getting any exercise, oh and I was having hairbo fairly often. I've cut syrup out, no longer order cashews or haribo, and I'm out walking every day, if not multiple times a day. As a result, and also thanks to breastfeeding, I've lost about a stone in the last few weeks (half a stone in the last 2 weeks!). I've not cut everything out, I still have sugar in and on my porridge and don't measure the olive oil I use to cook with. I'll have the odd bag of haribo, but they're treats, not the norm. I'm now nearly 2 stone lighter than when I fell pregnant with Dot.

8. Commit myself to my YouTube channel. In the video above, I talk about wanting to grow my channel, but my journey has been frought with issues recently. From my MacBook not being up to the task of editing video's any more (so slow), to not being able to find the charger for my video camera, and losing the memory card for my DSLR (no auto focus though). I felt like I was being knocked down at every turn. So yesterday I've made a big investment in my channel, I've ordered a new and good vlogging camera, and an iMac for my video editing. I've also had a long chat with my hubby who is fully supporting me and will be looking after the baby more in the evenings so I can film/edit, so expect a lot more video content from me coming up and appreciate your support :) 

What goals have you set for yourself this year?
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