themadhouseofcatsandbabies

The ramblings of a nurse, turned stay at home Mum, in suburbia, trying to maintain order and keep hold of my sanity….

Chocolate banana ‘milkshake’ with hidden goodness

Mummy Tries

Pops drinks smoothie

Technically there isn’t any chocolate or milk in here but the kids aren’t to know that. The great thing about ripe bananas is that they hide other flavours really well, and it’s a fab opportunity to sneak some goodness into them. My 2yo absolutely loves these shakes, as did her sister until she became intolerant of banana.

This recipe is loaded with vitamins and minerals – iron from the spinach and cocoa, magnesium and zinc from the cashews, potassium from the banana and a list of health benefits as long as your arm from the coconut oil. When being healthy tastes this good, why not make it a regular feature?

Ingredients (for one big person & one little one):
200ml cold water
6 ice cubes
Handful of spinach
Large ripe banana
40g cashew nuts (1/4 cup)
Tbsp cocoa or cacao
Tbsp coconut oil

Method:
– whiz everything together in your blender on the highest…

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What NOT to say to someone who is grieving…

Today is pregnancy and infant loss Remembrance Day. This blog post says it far better than me on what NOT to say to a grieving parent.

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Recently, one of my neighbors passed away. He was 86 years old. Many people would think that he lived a long full life. For some reason, people thought that it was appropriate to tell his wife this. They thought that somehow it would make her feel a little better that her husband was dead. They’ve heard people say these sorts of things in the past and that these are gems of wisdom or something like that. In reality, even if he died at 105 and it was a long full life, it wasn’t enough time for her. It will never be enough time for her. Why do people still say these sorts of things and think that they are comforting?

People said all sorts of things to me.

You can just try again and have another baby.
That’s like me saying that if you child ran away from home or…

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Letter to the New Lodger

Layla and Jasper want to share this blog post!

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The Break Up

Normal Cervix Has Resumed

Welcome back to Blog Therapy.

Today’s guest poster would like to remain anonymous.
It’s a subject that I think everyone will relate to….

The break-up

I can’t quite believe that I am having this conversation. I never thought that I would ever think this let alone speak these words.

I think we need to end things, go our separate ways. I don’t think things have been quite right for a while now but I’ve just tried to ignore it. You know I thought maybe it was just a bad patch. I thought I could fix things but I’m not sure I can.

I remember the first day I met you, a cold winter’s day in 2008. It was all very exciting. Everyone was talking about you and I got you. It was all so much fun. Yes fun, something I don’t think I’ve felt for a long time now if…

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So, why do we use cloth nappies?

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When people (usually Mum’s, but I have been asked by curious Dad’s, Grandparents and childcare providers) see that my Small boy is wearing a cloth nappy or I happen to mention that we use them, the first questions they ask is: but aren’t they a hassle? Don’t they make life more complicated? How do you wash them? Why are you using those, when disposable nappies are so much easier? Aren’t they expensive?

I usually try to answer very simply, no-one wants a 20minute lecture on the benefits of cloth nappies. But I thought I’d write a blog post about it, as a longer explanation.

Why?

Big Girl suffered from re-current thrush, and painful, blistering nappy rash, from almost day one of life. We were using a fairly popular brand of nappies, designed for newborns. We used the standard treatment for thrush, oral and topical meds, and lots of different creams and potions on her bum. We changed nappy brands. Nothing seemed to clear it up. After my 3rd trip to the doctors for antibiotic cream for her poor, sore little bottom, he referred me to my health visitor, to see if she had any ideas. Her first suggestion surprised me: “why don’t you try cloth nappies? Some babies are actually allergic to the chemicals in disposable nappies”. I decided to go and do some research, and look at costs of cloth nappies, how they worked, and why on earth, in this day and age, would anyone in their right mind use them? After all, I had enough going on, I was returning to work, running a home, caring for a baby, pumping breast milk for her and to donate to our local NICU, did I REALLY have time to deal with, and wash cloth nappies too? I had visions of scrubbing nappies in buckets, lethal safety pins, and mountains of laundry, but I decided to have a look, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try, when nothing else had worked.

I found some excellent websites and blogs, which helped me to decide that, actually, I might be able to manage. I also found some information on what was actually in disposable nappies, which horrified me. I won’t put it here, but I have included some links to blogs/websites with the details.

Frankly, I’m also a sucker for the cute factor, and I like to do things differently, so I was immediately drawn to the whole variety and choice of cloth nappies, and after chatting to LSH and working the numbers, we decided to try.

Within 3 days of wearing cloth nappies, her bottom started to clear up, and the horrible rash and blisters disappeared. She has never had the thrush return. We were sold, and never looked back.

Are they expensive?

Initially, the outlay for cloth nappies and the various accessories can be a cost. But it is possible to buy gently used cloth nappies at a cheaper price, some companies do a bulk discount if you buy their cloth kits, and I’ve also found work at home Mama’s that make and sell beautiful cloth nappies at a fraction of the price that you can buy brand names. Also, you can use “flat” nappies, which are like the traditional, old-fashioned nappies our mothers and grandmothers used, which are very cheap, easy to wash, and don’t need as much maintenance.

What kind do WE use and how to they work?

There a vast variety of types of nappies, many brand names, some better than others.

For ease of use we decided to use nappies that looked and worked like a normal, disposable nappy, that didn’t need a wrap or plastic cover, and were easy to wash and dry, and also could be used from newborn to toddler-hood/potty training. You can buy nappies in different sizes, but this is more costly, we worked out. I’ve included links to where we bought our nappies and the brand.

Our nappies have an outer waterproof lining, are stuffed with an absorbent insert, and can be adjusted to fit the size of the baby wearing them. We line our nappies with a flushable liner, so any “solid” waste can easily be plopped into the toilet (did you know, that technically, you’re supposed to do this with disposable nappies too, so that fecal matter doesn’t go into landfill, and spread diseases? I didn’t, it does actually say this on most packets of nappies, and I would bet that most people don’t “plop and flush” before they dispose of a used nappy, I know I never did) I put used cloth nappies in a sealed bucket, with a laundry net in it, and when the bucket is full, or it is wash time, I lift the net into the washing machine, run a rinse cycle, then a wash cycle, on hot, then rinse again. They get hung up to dry, overnight, and then I spend a few minutes stuffing the clean inserts into them, and putting them away. (Actually, my 5-year-old currently does this for me, is one of her “jobs”. She’s very efficient at it, and it contributes to her pocket-money award) We don’t soak, boil, scrape or scrub them. Occasionally I do what is called a “strip” wash, where I wash the nappies on an extra cycle, to remove build up of urine, or detergent, but I don’t have to do this often. They don’t need a lot of washing detergent used on them, and whilst I do use a biological powder to wash them, this is a personal choice, some people use normal washing powder, some use detergent specially marketed for cloth nappies. I don’t use a sanitizer or anti-bacterial detergent, but again, this is a personal choice. We use Wonderoos by Hip Hop Baby.

Are they a hassle?

It took me a few weeks to get used to using cloth nappies, working out roughly how many a day I’d need, how often to change my babies and how to use them whilst out and about. To be honest, I’ve been doing cloth nappying for nearly 5.5 years now, so I’m totally used to it, but there are a few things that you need to take into account. We line our nappies with a liner, that can be used several times, and re-washed, before being flushed away, which helps to stop nappies staining, and also means I don’t have to soak or scrub them. We call it “plop and dump”, we plop the solid waste in the toilet, flush it, dump the nappy in a bucket… SIMPLES!! 😉

  • They do need to be changed more frequently, particularly in the newborn/pooping often stage.
  • They are bulkier, so they do take up more storage space, and space in a nappy bag. You also have to plan to carry them about with you, rather than disposing of them, you need a system, of wet bags or a storage system for this. I use small waterproof bags, which I pop under our pushchair, or back into the nappy bag. They seal, and don’t leak, so are easy to use. You also need to take into account clothes when using cloth nappies, as they do take up more room in trousers, baby-grows and tights.
  • You will add to your laundry regime, but as I have said, I don’t find it too much of a hassle, once you get into a routine, it works well. You can use a laundry service if you want, I didn’t look into the costs of this, as I was fine doing my own nappy laundry.
  • You may not want to use them while travelling. I must confess, we tend to go for the very expensive eco-disposables when we travel, simply because I am lazy. I do know lots of families who are hard-core cloth nappiers and use them whilst away, even camping. If you decide to do this, you’ll need to plan and pack carefully (that sounds silly, because when packing for kids, who doesn’t?)
  • initial cost may may you gulp, but there are plenty of second-hand websites, and sales, and also some councils do a cloth nappy voucher, towards initial payment of cloth nappies, and when you work out how much you spend on disposable nappies and wipes, it actually works out cheaper, particularly if you do like we did, and used them for both children, and will again if we have another baby.
  • You have to be careful what washing powder you use and you CANNOT use fabric softener or tumble dryer sheets with cloth nappies. They will absorb the softener and lose their “wicking” or soaking ability and then leak, and you will have to strip and wash them, and in fact some nappies can be ruined by fabric softener, so it’s best avoided.
  • You need to experiment at night, with cloth, especially if you have a baby that is a heavy wetter, at night. We use a nappy wrap  over SB’s cloth nappy, which prevents leaks, and wet pj’s and fumbling about in the dark changing bed sheets.

I don’t use cloth for the first week or so, with Small Boy, we used the eco disposable kind, then switched to flat cloth/prefold nappies, then to our fitted, all in one kind, which he now still wears. This is personal preference. I was told our hospital would be fine with us bringing cloth nappies if we had wanted to, we may do next time, but that first week is so insane, I figure washing nappies was the last thing I needed or wanted to do, or to add to LSH’s workload while he was home with us on paternity leave.

I am pretty certain that Big Girl potty trained so fast, because she was in cloth, and could feel she was wet, and didn’t like it. Small Boy is not as enthusiastic about the whole idea as his sister….

So that’s why we use them. I like them, I find folding and putting them away satisfying, and we have never had any real problems with them, and they look very cute on a baby bum. I don’t make any claims on environmentally friendliness, they do mean more work, more washing, etc, but I like to think I am not adding to the landfill with more disposable nappies. Also, did you know, that even with disposable nappies you should “plop” the solid waste, into the toilet, before disposing of the nappy? Ah, see, I bet you didn’t. It actually does say it on most packaging, but very few people actually do it.

Some links:

What’s in a disposable nappy? http://www.babiesnappies.co.uk/2008/06/19/scary-sposies/

Which’s review of both disposable and cloth nappies http://www.which.co.uk/baby-and-child/nursery-and-feeding/guides/choosing-nappies-washable-vs-disposable/

Babykind, where we buy most of our supplies, and the link to the nappy we use: http://www.babykind.co.uk/index.htm?gclid=CJjH46bf97QCFcjKtAodd3wA6Q

Wonderoos: http://www.babykind.co.uk/wonderoos.htm

Cloth nappy scheme: http://www.babykind.co.uk/incentiveschemes.htm

The Used Nappy Company: http://www.usednappies.co.uk/ A good place to buy or sell second hand nappies. I have used it myself, for both, and have found it a very useful site, you can also get advice on cloth nappies there.

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Silent Sunday

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Visit Mocha Beanie Mummy for the Silent Sunday Link up

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

But inside it’s simply delightful, because I have made American style pancakes, with proper maple syrup and crispy bacon 
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(These are gluten and dairy free too!)

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…..

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So, my thing about Fruit Shoots….?

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I was chatting to one of the Mum’s at our parent/toddler group this week. She is organising a party for her little girl, in a few weeks time. She asked my opinion on what foods and drinks to serve, and followed her question by commenting “I know you really don’t like  FruitShoots, x told me”. Apparently I have got myself a reputation as a FruitShoot hater.

I thought I would clear my name and explain, why I don’t like the drink, and why we won’t allow Big Girl particularly, but also Small Boy, to have them, at home or out and about with us. I will never willingly buy the drink for my children. I however, am NOT one of those parents who swoops down on their child at parties and events and won’t allow them to have certain party foods or treats. I would prefer that my kids didn’t have these drinks but if they do, we deal with the consequences. I apologise if I have made anyone who has hosted my child at a party and has gotten to hear of my dislkie of the drinks, and has felt like I was critisising them. I am not, I promise. There is a reason.

I will backtrack a little: We usually try to feed our children healthy choices, with occasional treats, I don’t refuse any foods or drinks to my children, with the exception of one thing. I do not like artificial sugar/sweeteners. I don’t like them for two reasons, one being I don’t think they are particularly good for anyone, and I personally think a little sugar is better for anyone than some man made chemical sweetener that has possible links with health issues. I am not going to provide data on this, go and do your own reading. It’s out there, the food industry just doesn’t like to talk about it.

The other reason is because we have found that two of the ingredients used as sweeteners in the No Added Sugar Fruit shoots, DO NOT agree with Big Girl. Aspartame and Acesulfame K, these are used to replace sugar. Both of these cause a fairly strong reaction when she consumes them. They make her hyper-active. I am not just saying this, because I don’t like artificial sweeteners, and I am not a parent that claims my child is allergic to everything when they’re not. However, these two delightful chemicals have an adverse affect on my oldest child, and having seen her react to them on numerous occasions we avoid them if we can. 

React you say? Surely you  are exaggerating? No, to be blunt, I am not. The last time she drank a bottle of juice containing these chemicals, she literally could not sit still, or even stop moving for 4 hours. She was twitchy, she couldn’t stop talking (more than normal, she is a chatterbox, like her mother, but this was like a constant stream of talk, she just didn’t seem to be in control) she couldn’t concentrate and she literally bounced around the room. After about 3.5 hours she started to calm down, and then at about the 4 hour mark complained of a really sore head, and feeling very thirsty.  The only time we ever see react this way, is when she has consumed one or both of these artificial sweeteners. It is not a fun experience dealing with her, when she is like this, and she usually feels pretty unwell for a good hour or two after she has come down from her “fake sugar high”. I have had several friends witness her behavior when she has consumed these items, and it has also happened at school, when she was given a Fruit Shoot to drink, at a school party. She also has reacted to aspartame in other products. I am very strict about what we buy, food and drink wise, and we do not consume  diet products at home, as a family. I struggle with migraines and also find my concentration span limited, when I drink diet drinks, or anything with sweeteners in, so it’s not just my children I am protecting.

Basically, aside from the fact that both these artificial sweeteners are controversial in their own right, we personally do not like what they do, to our Big Girl, not to mention the long term consequences of consuming them, so we prefer to avoid them.

So, this is why we don’t get excited about Fruit Shoots or other “no added sugar drinks”. I would encourage you to do your own reading, look at the ingredients on the labels of some of these drinks marketed as “healthy” alternatives to our children, and find out about what they are, and also the long term and short term side effects of them. Sugar isnt good for us in large quantities, but I’d sooner give my child a spoon full of proper sugar than I would a drink containing artificial sweeteners.

These are the ingredients in both the No Added Sugar Fruit Shoots: 

Robinson’s Blackcurrant Fruit Shoot H2O, ingredients:

Spring Water (99.4%), Citric Acid, Natural Flavouring, Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K), Preservatives (Dimethyl Dicarbonate, Potassium Sorbate)

The sugary version isn’t that much better, to be honest. We avoid those like the plague too:

Robinson’s Blackcurrant and Apple Fruit Shoot, ingredients:

Water, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Fruit Juices from Concentrate (Blackcurrant 5%, Apple 4%), Sugar, Citric Acid, Stabiliser (Xanthan Gum), Vintamins (C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B6), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Natural Flavouring, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Dimethyl Dicarbonate), Natural Colour (Anthocyanins).

I was asked for alternatives?

Smoothies, home made or bought in cartons?

Dilute pure fresh fruit juice with water?

Home made lemonade?

Home made milk shakes (not complicated, blitz fruit and milk together, with a spoonful of honey, and you have  a milk shake that’s tasty and not full of nasties)

Old fashioned cordial, the proper stuff? Yes, it has sugar in it, but we use it at home for a treat, and it has no nasty, unpronounceable chemicals or sweeteners in it, much safer, for a special treat.

So, there you have it, my reasons behind my dislike of the much maligned Fruit Shoot.

I am not alone. Google “ingredients in Fruit Shoots” and you will find a plethora of blogs, Mum’s forums and articles on it.

 

 

The usual medical disclaimer: This blog post is not medical opinion, or advice.

I am aware that various  medical organisations, and pharmaceutical companies, and research groups have come out and assured the public that aspartame and acesulfame are perfectly safe to consume. I personally choose to avoid these products and limit the exposure my children have to them, based on what we’ve seen when our oldest child has reacted to them. I have not quoted any sites or given references. This is a personal experience only. Please do your own reading and research. Always consult a medical practitioner if you have any concerns!

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So I vacuumed my oven…Thursday’s photo frenzy!

I did, I vacuumed my oven, and the computer keyboard  (do you know how disgusting your computer keyboard is? We have a brushy type attachment that is perfect for sucking up all the gruesome detritus I could see lurking in ours, very satisfying!) inside my kitchen cupboards, and I also let Small Boy loose with the vacuum, and he happily sucked all the crumbs and dirt from under and inside his little table in the kitchen, and gave his car garage a good clean. It kept him occupied and amused for a good twenty minutes, while I did some other chores and tasks.

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I vaccuuumed my oven, out of laziness. I LOATHE cleaning my oven, it is my least liked domestic task, but it was getting dire, and needed attention. It was full of crumbs, and I attempted to sweep them out, but after a few minutes of trying to catch them, and stop them falling into the crevice in the door, I gave up, and had the brain wave to vacuum them up. It worked beautifully, I gave it a thorough clean and now my oven looks less like it needs a visit from Kim and Aggie…

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This week has been quite tiring and I’ve felt frazzled and a bit stretched, in a lot of ways, both good and bad. Our Mainly Music Group (Ps I have the link saved, so I can copy it from the clipboard and  link it without even going onto FB, so I am not breaking the rules of my 60 day FB blackout, before anyone asks 😉 ) officially launched to the public, we’ve been running but not advertising, until this week. We had a lot of lovely new visitors, which was what we wanted, but we are now realising how much work we have to do, to keep up with being so busy, so my brain has been working overtime with a to-do list for next week. Yesterday, I had a physio appointment in Putney, which went well (yay, I can run again, once my knee brace is ready, next week) but she made me do a lot of stretching and exercises and I was sore, yesterday, and am still a bit achey today.

Today didn’t start well, with Small Boy waking, alert and perky, ready for the day at 5am. “I starving Mummy, I want my bekfast, I want Octonauts….” was the plaintive  call. We blearily struggled through the morning routine, he woke his sister just after 5am as well, which meant I had a cranky mini me to deal with as well as myself to pull together. On days like this, I wing it. I didn’t have time to wash my hair, and on days like this, I am very grateful to the person who invented dry shampoo. It’s a staple in my very small stash of cosmetics…

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By the time I had deposited a slightly grumpy Big Girl at school (after she’d wailed “I can’t find my gloves, I’m SOOOO tired, it’s not my fault Matthew woke me up so early, I don’t want to go to school!” at me three times, as I tried to leave the house, I was ready to go back to bed) but we made it. I dropped he who thinks 5am is get up time, at his childminders, and the mammoth tantrum that ensued because his coat and shoes came off in the wrong order and I had forgotten the book he wanted to bring, ensured that she decided he needed a nap (rare) and I can’t say I blame her. I did my stint at work (I run a parent/carer – toddler group on Thursdays) and came home to wait for my groceries to arrive. Unfortunately the one item I needed today, for dinner tonight, did not arrive, which meant so frantic rummaging in the pantry cupboard, a bit of improvising, and my sausage cassarole was assmebled and  resembled a cassarole and not some anaemic looking sausages sitting in a pan, gravy-less!

I am tired, and looking forward to my bed tonight. I plan to be in it early. LSH is out tonight (eating the sausage cassarole with friends, I am staying home. Big Girl has her Year 1 phonics/reading assessments this week, and the stern letter from the headmistress reminding us to “ensure your child has a good breakfast each day this week, and gets to bed on time so they are well rested for this important week” flashes in my mind, (particularly as I dragged BG into school looking exhausted after her 5am wake up call, feeling guilty as we sidled past the headmistress greeting cheerily at the school gate, this morning) so we’ve decided to lay low, normally we take her, and Small Boy and they sleep while we eat and spend time with our friends, but it’s freezing cold, she needs her sleep, and so do I.

I made banana bread for MY supper. I don’t like bananas much in their natural state, although I like them in things, and I have an easy banana bread recipe that I use when I have a glut of bananas going too ripe. I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but I can tell you it was DELICIOUS and that Layla really enjoyed it too. Who knew, that cats liked banana bread? I won’t be mentioning that to the vet at her annual check up next week!

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I did manage to sneak in a quick lunch date with Small Boy this week, here he is doing some coloring, while we waited for our sandwiches to arrive.

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Whilst he keeps me on my toes, I do love this age, they change and learn so much,  so quickly. He was devastated that his best little friend Max is now at nursery in the afternoons, and that he can’t go with him for a few months yet. I think he will thrive when he does go, I am sure he and Max will keep the teachers busy, they are quite a pair, and get up to all sorts of little boy monkey business together.

Not so much of a photo frenzy, more a random ramble. I do apoligise. Normal service will resume tomorrow. Well, technically it won’t, the blog is likely to go down in the next day or two, as it moves domains, so there won’t be a Friday Rant tomorrow (I KNOW you all wanted to hear what I had to say about public toilets, you will have to wait for next week for that)

Hopefully the blog will be back up and running for Silent Sunday.

Have a good weekend!

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Wordless Wednesday – A tiny hint of green, in winter….


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