Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year and all that...

Well, despite having managed a post for each of the first 11 days of December I have been absent ever since.  I went to stay with the folks in Devon for a week and when I got back xmas preparations were in full swing.  Then xmas happened (which was fab by the way) and here we are.  My first post since, and last of 2009.

I have read a few reviews of 2009 and am amazed and delighted at what many of you have managed to achieve.  I thought about doing my own, but, to be honest, 2009 has not been a great year for me.  As many of you will know I have not taken to motherhood all that well, and my first full year of being a mummy has been tough. I feel I'm still in mourning for my old life.  Add to this backdrop the fact that my lovely Dad was diagnosed with dementia aged just 62 and has declined rapidly, and aged 40 and needing fertility treatment to get pregnant, I suffered a miscarriage.  So, all in all I'll be glad to see the back of 2009.  I know 2010 will be tough Dad may well need residential care before the year is out and in January we resume the fertility treatment.  BUT, new year, clean slate, onwards and upwards we must go...

I have a number of new year resolutions, or goals as I prefer to call them.  Rather than just list them I have decided to do a post on each with my why's and how's.  Have you decided on yours ?  I'd love to hear about them...

In the meantime I wish you and yours a very happy new year and hope that 2010 brings health, wealth and happiness to all  xx


Friday, 11 December 2009

What does your blog do for you ?

I have just read a blog post over at Rosie Scribbles and rather than hijack her comments with an essay all of my own I thought I would do my own post, with my take on the subject.

So what does my blog do for me ? And do I write for me or for my readers ? For some it's a place to banter, for some an outlet for creative writing, for others an opportunity to entertain. There are so many motives for blogging and whilst most lean towards a particular style, all are varied to some extent.  

I do some very personal and serious posts but this is because the primary reason for my blogging is to stay sane, to vent my frustrations, my worries, my angst. In the real world I am a very private person and don't talk about how I feel. I know this is not good for my emotional and mental wellbeing, so I do it on here, where I am largely anonymous. And I do find it cathartic.  

I also like to use my blog to 'spread the word' about holistic health and wellbeing. As this was my line of work I find it hugely frustrating that I have built up a wealth of knowledge that can really help people but currently have no means of sharing it. I will do posts that I know many of my readers won't be particularly interested in, but if it helps one person, then it has been worth it.

So, overall it seems that my blog expresses the things I can't in the real world. This is what gives me the motivation to post. It also explains why my blog has little, if any, comedic value. The Daddy and I barely have a serious conversation. Our communication laregly involves funny voices and larking around interspersed with practising our Strictly Come Dancing routines around the kitchen (neither of us can dance!).

Whilst you ponder what your blog does for you I'm off to practise my Argentine Tango with the Gaucho in my kitchen...


Thursday, 10 December 2009

9yr old party trick

I have a nine year old nephew called Jack who is a natural comedian and I'm sure will end up on the stage. Recently he was set some homework to write instructions on how to make people laugh, in the style of a Jamie Oliver recipe. Here it is...


There are lots of different ways to make people laugh.  Telling a joke is something that makes people laugh, like knock knock jokes or funny rhymes.  Pulling funny faces makes people laugh as well as acting like a clown or performing a party trick.  This party trick is more of a pose but it still makes my family laugh.

What you need
·         Plenty of space
·         A mat

What to do
1.     Sit on the floor, with your legs in front of you.
2.    Lean backwards resting on your left hand.
3.    Next, with your right hand, lift your right leg and pull your foot up onto your head.
4.    With the other foot, splay out your toes as wide apart as possible.
5.    While holding this position, stretch your tongue out and then curl it up onto your nose.
6.    Finally, wiggle your thumb joint.  It’s a better effect if you’re double jointed like me.

    If you do try this at home neither Jack nor I accept any responsibility for injuries you may sustain ;-)


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A very contentious rant about motherhood...

This is my writing workshop post and I really struggled, yet again, to think what to write.  Some of my ideas would have been too deep for the limited time I have available so I was left with this one.  Against my better judgement I have decided to go with it.  After all, I did make a comment on a post of Josie's that I am always candid on here, afront or please, so here I go...

First of all I must apologise for what I am about to say.  It is not my intention to insult anyone - it's not aimed specifically at you.  I also feel that I must explain that I am a fully paid up grumpy old woman of the highest order (see last weeks rant here), and hope that this will help me to be excused for all the offence I am about to cause...

I have often felt that mummy blogging is not something I should do, is not a community I truly belong to. I am generally not sentimental or in touch with my emotions you see, and this includes my feelings on motherhood.  Yes, I love my son, very much.  But that's it.  I did one post about it just in case anyone was thinking I was  a completely cold hearted bitch here but now I've done it, it's 'as you were'.

I get mightily fed up with hearing other mothers droning on about how wonderful their little ones are, how blessed we are to have them, how despite everything...the sleep deprivation, the endless, monotonous days,  the loss of self...they are so worth it.  How cute they are, how clever they are, how cheeky they are, and on, and on, and on...  And don't even get me started on the sanctimonious crowing about what fabulous mothers we all are.  How we all spend hours playing with the little darlings, and baking, and crafting and generally being all round good earth mothers, oh and 'you should have seen their little faces'.  Then starts all the reciprocating of perfect mummy stories, and mutual congratulations of jobs well done, and what prefect children we have.  Round and round we go in our perfect fluffy little world of motherhood and domestic bliss.

Just because I happen to have a child doesn't mean I will cease to exist in any sense other than being a mother.  My blog is for me, not him.  I try to cast off my mother status at any time other than when I am actually having to do some hands on mothering, and blogging is generally not one of those times.  

I think I will stick around as a mummy blogger.  In the real world I would have to endure coffee mornings and play dates and not be able to escape.  At least here, when it all gets too much I can just log off...and play with my son.

This post was written for Sleep is for the weak's Wednesday Writing Workshop, prompt number 5, 'Have a good rant. Go on! You know you want to...'



Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Are you getting enough Magnesium ?

Did you know that only 25% of people consume the Recommended Daily Amount (the bare minimum needed to prevent deficiencies) of magnesium yet it is shown to be effective for eclampsia and preeclampsia, palpitations, severe asthma, migraine, lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, improving glucose and insulin metabolism, relieving severe period pains and alleviating leg cramps in pregnant women?
The authors of a recent review article on the therapeutic uses of magnesium said “Research has shown that the mineral content of magnesium in food sources is declining and that magnesium depletion has been detected in persons with some chronic diseases”. The review identified compelling evidence for the use of magnesium for the conditions listed above.
Magnesium is an incredibly important, yet commonly deficient mineral, but is a challenge to diagnose deficiency. The review points out that “diagnosis of mild to moderate magnesium deficiency is challenging because patients may be asymptomatic”  Considering the relative safety of magnesium and the high number of people with deficiencies it seems sensible to maximise magnesium intake through foods such as almonds, cashews, spinach, whole grains and legumes and/or dietary supplements.
Guerrera MP, Volpe SL, Mao JJ. Therapeutic uses of magnesium. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-62


Monday, 7 December 2009

A baby free spa break... bliss.  Having returned from my mini spa break I thought I would do a very quick post about the best bits, from a mummy perspective.

  1. No hours spent preparing meals that are baby friendly only to have them spectacularly rejected after three mouthfuls.
  2. No battle of wills at mealtimes...I will feed you this nutritious will not!
  3. No angst over baby eating 'food' that is nutritionally void.
  4. No angst over whether the most ridiculous convoluted bedtime regime will culminate in baby deciding to drink some milk.
  5. No guilt over putting baby in cage playpen.
  6. No angst about the effect of hours in front of cbeebies on beloved baby's development.
  7. No concerns about the effect of dinner eating/milk drinking performance on forthcoming nights sleep.
  8. Enjoyment of evening out undiminished by prospect of early morning.
  9. Sufficient time without needing to attend to baby to apply nail polish and let it dry without smudging.
  10. Sufficient time without needing to attend to baby to have shower, wash hair, blow dry hair, apply real make up (ie beyond a quick slick of mascara) and get dressed in a coordinated outfit. 
  11. The ability to actually leave for dinner looking pristine ie without food, poo, vomit ,snot or dribble on clothes and/or in hair. 
  12. Sufficient time to arrive for dinner feeling calm and relaxed and even with time to spare for pre dinner drinks.
  13.  Sleeping in until 10am completely undisturbed.
  14. Freshly awakened mind being spared the impending stress of the day and therefore being able to get up without feeling weighed down.
I know this is the bit where I should say 'but it was so nice to see him when I got back'  and 'despite it all I really wouldn't have it any other way'...

I will do a review type post about my mini spa break another time, but for now let's just say it was truly fabulous :-)


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Shoppers guide to 'clean' fruit and veg

Having already introduced the concept of avoiding the consumption of pesticides I thought it might be helpful to point you in the right direction in terms of the worst offenders so here are the 'dirty dozen', worst first...


So, the advice here is either buy organic, grow your own, peel or if all else fails, minimise your consumption.  To cheer you up however, here are the 'clean fifteen', best first, which you can eat without caution...

Kiwi fruit
Sweet Potato

Hope this helps :-)

This list has been produced by the Environmental Working Group in the US.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

The tail of two Weimeraners

In addition to Star I have another two boys that I am responsible for as a SAHM, and there are far and away bigger babies than Star.  And arguably more work. They go by the names of Dexter...

And Stanley...

...and never could two Weimeraners be more different.

Dexter was our first.  We brought him home when he was 8 weeks old in April 2005 and he is (shhhh, don't tell) the love of my life.  He was a challenging puppy, not in the house training, whining all night kind of way, no problems there.  But he was quite simply a ball of teeth wielding energy.  For those of you that haven't experienced life with a puppy I should explain that just like humans they lose their baby teeth and get big teeth. And when this is happening they like to chew...on wrists, the back of thighs, shoes...and finally we sussed it..rawhide.  Phew.  He also used to hurl himself around our sitting room, throwing himself onto each sofa before hurtling onto the next and round and round he would go.  At about a year old, around the time of the photo, he entered a new phase.  Too much energy and not enough exercise.  He was getting two 45 minute walks a day, of which at least 30 minutes of each was running free.  The problem was this was not enough and living in a new build house with a new build sized garden was not giving him enough opportunity to burn off all that adolescent energy.  So he started to eat the walls...through the pasterboard until he came to  blocks.  Not just nibbling you understand...holes up to half a meter in diameter...all over our kitchen.

Thankfully, shortly after this we moved house.  We now have a much bigger garden with fields on two sides providing plenty of dog brain stimulating smells.  And Dexter is a changed dog.  He is calm (provided there are no strangers in the house/at the door or food in smelling distance), he is very loving, he is clever, he is loyal.  He can read moods.  If I'm ever feeling down he is at my side, nuzzling his love and understanding.  Unbelievably he knew I was pregnant before I did.  One night he, seemingly inexplicably, left his bed in the corner of our bedroom to sleep on the floor next to me, and there he stayed, every night until Star was born when he returned to his bed.  He is wonderful and I love him so.  I can't imagine life without him and I am haunted by the knowledge that this day will come...

And so to Stanley.  The term Mad Dogs was invented for him.  We foolishly thought, new baby, let's get another puppy, another lovely Dexter, a playmate...Doh ! In April 2007 Stanley arrived, aged 8 weeks.    From the moment he arrived home he couldn't have been more different to Dexter.  He wet his bed... for weeks, he whined through the night...for weeks.  He didn't chew though.  Well, he did but he chewed Dexter, not us or the house.  In fact he still does, at every opportunity, in a dominating/playing kind of way... in between perpetually trying to hump poor Dex.  And unlike Dex, who eats everything in sight and is now at risk of being mistaken for a coffee table, Stan doesn't like eating.  Anorexic Stan as we like to call him.  This is not entirely his fault.  He has colitis which is a 'pedigree dog problem' suffered my Weimies.  Stan is too highly bred you see.  Show champion dad, crufts champion mum...very beautiful but bad stomach and so highly strung he is a drama queen of the highest order.  Dex on the other hand had a show champion dad but a mum who could only just be classed as pure bred.

So, what have we ended up with ?  Stan makes Dex's life a misery most of the time, other than when they are chasing each other gleefully around the garden. We have to hand feed Stan a variety of food...currently on special vet food at £3 a tin !  But despite it all, Dex remains a stoical soul and takes whatever is thrown at him, and Stan... he just dances and prances from dawn till dusk, and his tail never stops wagging.  


Friday, 4 December 2009

An overdue rant about dumbing down...

This is a another subject that I am passionate about and I think that my feelings on the subject confirm my geriatric status.  It's the sort of thing that only seems to offend Grumpy Old Men & Women, and the younger generation appear to be the worst offenders.

The first subject of the rant is my beloved Strictly Come Dancing, and they have offended me on two counts.  Whilst it is nothing personal, and she does appear to be a very nice, fun person,  it does revolve around the appointment of Alesha Dixon as a judge.  Firstly, how exactly is she as qualified as Arlene Phillips to judge a dance competition?  She was a contestant herself not so long ago and is a popstar (of sorts) for goodness sake.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a big fan of Arlene's and I'm not jumping on the 'ageism' band wagon.  I don't care that she was replaced, but it was the quality of the replacement that upsets me.  If it had been Darcey Bussell then I would have had no complaint.  She is qualified to comment on and judge dancing...but a popstar ?!  My second gripe about this is if we assume for a moment that we can overlook the fact that Alesha is not a credible judge, what about her poor grasp of the English language? To hear comments like 'I fought you done really good' is like fingernails on a blackboard to me, and what sort of an example is it setting for the viewing public?    Sadly it's not just an isolated incident here and there.  Every time she opens her mouth to comment I can feel my toes curling in anticipation.  Unfortunately the arrival of Alesha Dixon has diminished the credibility of the show for me as they decided to forgo quality for the sake of a little garnish.

Moving on to my second subject this is also to do with the spoken word and, whilst widespread, seems particularly troublesome for anyone connected with football.  Tune in to MOTD and listen to pundits, commentators, managers and players all of whom appear to have the same affliction. Does 'they did fantastic' sound familiar ? Poor Fantastic, sounds painful !   They didn't 'do fantastic'.  Aaaarrrgggg ! Surely they did fantastically well.  I was shocked and dismayed to notice that it appears to have spread to The One Show, but then realised that the infection must have been carried from MOTD2 by Mr Adrian Chiles.  Are we already approaching  pandemic status ? Where will it all end, and is there any sign of a vaccine ?

I feel I must just state that I am not professing to be perfectly spoken, or write using perfect grammar but I do try.  I contend with a lack of sleep, lack of time and interference from Star to produce what I feel is an acceptable standard given my little exposure.  I do not have millions of people listening to me or reading my ramblings.  Those that do have an obligation to maintain the integrity of the English language.  Unless this happens I fear we will be unable to hold back the tide... and we will all be 'dumbed down'.

In the meantime, thank goodness for afternoon tea and cricket...


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Quick, easy, family friendly, nutritious recipe...

Following on from my post about supplementation here I thought it might be useful to do the the odd post about healthy eating and in particular healthy recipes that are also suitable for babies/toddlers.

I am not one for spending hours in the kitchen unneccesarily.  And by that I mean cooking mutiple meals for different family members.  From about 9 months Star has been eating with us, and I always overcater to ensure that I can feeze a few portions – there are occasions when The Daddy and I want to eat something that Star wouldn’t appreciate.

So, before we get into the detail, some general principles…
  • Buy the best quality ingredients you can afford, or better still, grow your own.  This doesn't mean shopping in M&S, but choosing free range, or organic if possible.  If you can't just make sure you wash all fruit and veg thoroughly (and peel if you can) to remove surface pesticides and limit the amount of meat and dairy you eat to minimise your exposure to the livestocks antibiotics and artificial hormones.
  • Buy and use produce at it’s freshest.  If this is not possible/available buy frozen.  The nutrient content of food diminishes in parallel with the time it takes to get from harvest to plate.
So, the recipe.  This is one of Star’s favourites, and mine too.  It is meat free but provides all the required amino acids to make a compete protein meal.  It is also high in fibre and therefore very filling – perfect for the last meal of the day to fill up little tummies to last through the night.

You will need:-

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas (or dried and soaked equivalent)
0.5 x 400g tin of coconut milk
200ml of water
1 tsp fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 red or green chilli
1.5 tsp korma curry powder (or make your own if you can find a recipe – and please share it !)
2 good handfuls of spinach

  1. Finely chop (or quickly whizz in a mini processor) the garlic, chilli, ginger and onion.  Transfer to a pan      and soften in some oil.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, curry powder and water and leave to simmer for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the cocnut milk and simmer for a further 2 mins, stirring occasionally
  4. Add the spinach a couple of mintues before serving.
Serve with boiled brown rice.  This is important as it provides the amino acids missing from the chickpeas to complete the protein.  As previous white rice eaters we like the brown basmati best.  I mash Stars before feeding him as the chickpeas are too big for him and despite his mouth full of teeth he tries to swallow them whole !

I hope you like this as much as we all do.  I have found it hard to find family friendly nutirious recipes so if you have one I’d love to hear about it !


Stress free living...

I decided to write about this topic when the prompts were first put up. On Monday I enthusiastically started a draft, which was largely superceded on Tuesday.  So Wednesday arrived and I was back at the drawing board, scathcing my head.  At this point, most irritatingly, our broadband connection decided to go AWOL, and suddenly I knew exactly what I was going to write about.  You see, without the internet,  I have been like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof and it got me thinking…

I find being a SAHM is, thus far, THE most stressful thing I have ever done but still I was really struggling to identify exactly what it was that I did to manage my way through it.  I guess my overarching technique is, after attending to Star’s every need, to put myself first, as in ‘me’ time.  My philosphy is that if I don’t invest some time in me to ensure that I am ‘in a good place’ then we are all in trouble.  So if I feel the need to ‘chill’, that is exactly what I do.  Whether it’s drinking tea, wathcing River Cottage or even blogging…the chores can wait.  They will still be there later.  There are days, and I’m sure we’ve all been there, when withour taking time out I feel meltdown would be inevitable !

I haven’t always been this way.  In my corporate days I was so driven that I was a danger to myself and eventually paid the price.  And believe me, eighteen months of prozac and counselling is not a price worth paying.  Maybe this is why, now, I put myself first (as far as possible).

So, back to my stress avoidance methods…

  1.          Drink tea.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is like a hug in a mug to me.  And to achieve maximum relaxation and to pander to my slight OCD tendancies, my tea drinking has an accomanying ritual.  It must be very weak Earl Grey (the colour of chicken soup), it must be in a large bone china mug, and I must drink it sat in comfort with my feet up.  Ideally I should be able to enjoy the moment in complete stillness and silence.  Bliss
  2.      .       River Cottage.  I love this program.  Picture the scene as in 1 above, but this time watching Hugh, and cooking, and farming, and gardening, and foraging and the wonderful Dorset coutryside and coastline.  This is the life I would have for myself if things were different and I love the escapism of watching how it would be.
  3.     .       Blogging.  This was the one that I needed to be without to reaslise how much I have come to rely on it.  It works for me on so many levels.  I have always loved reading, not fiction, but about real life and useful stuff and with so many great blog posts out there I can always find one to suit my mood/need.   I also find that when I post myself it is an outlet for my thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams, experiences.  All the things I would have shared with friends, clients, colleagues, most of whom are no longer part of my life, or at best, not to the same extent.  Finally, and arguably the most important benefit, it enables me to feel part of a commnity and gives me a sense of belonging. 

Before blogging I felt both bored and isolated and that is a very stressful place for me to be. I find that having a connection with the outside world and an opportunity to use my now redundant brain is key to a healthy, calm mind.  And for that, I thank you.

This post was written for Sleep is for the weak's Wednesday Writing Workshop, prompt number 5, 'What do you do or where do you go to escape the stress of every-day life ?'


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Do we need supplements in a modern diet ?

At last, I have engaged brain, put pen to paper  fingers to keyboard and decided to do a post on a subject I am passionate evangelical about.  Good nutrition.  I must warn you that this will be the first of many.  I could drone on about this for YEARS.  So in an attempt to not overload you and bore you stupid I will adopt the drip feed  approach.  Bite sized chunks and all that.

Today I am going to post about giving children multivitamins.  Horror of horrors, yes it's true.  In fact, Star has had them since he was, hmmm, let me think, five days old.  There are a few common arguments people put forward for not taking/giving their kids multivits...

  1. We get all the nutrients we need in our food/milk
 Not true.  The nutrient levels in food today is a fraction of what it was 30+ years ago.  Intensive farming has left the soil depleted.  Fertilizers supplement the major deficiencies but not all the macro nutrients.  If you need proof, send off a hair sample for analysis and I guarantee, however well you eat, you will have deficiencies. When you add in the fact that most people a) don't eat the perfect diet and b) have a lifelstyle/diet that exposes them to anti-nutrients ie pollution, stress, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, there is simply no hope of getting everything you need from food.  

     2.  Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs) of nutrients are printed on packets of food/baby formula.... we know we're getting enough, right ?  Again, not true.  You need to ask yourself how the levels of RDA have been arrived at ?  The RDA is set at a level to prevent diseases of malnutrition.  We're talking scurvy and rickets here.  It is not set at a level to ensure we are the fittest, strongest, healthiest we can be.  Not by a very long way.

Of course the other thing as far as babies goes, is that if they are exclusively breast fed (which of course I wholeheartedly agree with), breast milk is only as nutritious as the mothers nutritional status.  And what's more , that leaves even fewer nutrients for the mother.

So, having established why I believe in supplementation I will give you one example of a study that has been done to demonstrate further.

A new study from the Karolinska Institute (the highest ranked university in clinical medicine and pharmacy in Europe) has shown that supplementing with multivitamins has no effect on the incidence of asthma, eczema, hayfever or atopic sensitisation.  However,  when they looked at data from children who started supplementing before the age of four, they found a 39% decrease in the risk of sensitisation to food. 
In the researchers own words “our results show no association between current use of multivitamins and risk of allergic disease but suggest that supplementation with multivitamins during the first years of life may reduce the risk of allergic disease at school age”.

This is just one little fact to consider.  There are so many others, and I will post further at another time, but doesn't it make you think ?

One last point.  If you work for a pharmaceutical company, or are a believer in their doctrine that all you need is drugs, please pass by and don't feel the need to comment.  I am not blogging about this to have heated debates on the subject but to put some info out there for open minded people to consider.  I've studied the subject, and seen the effects on my own family and am not about to have my mind changed. So There !