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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Breastfeeding and (chocolate) Binge Eating

I am approaching 5 months postpartum and alongside the hair loss and unpredictable skin I have been trying to address my binge eating. And before you think, well that sounds quite severe, isn't there a softer more flowery description - no, it is what it it is.

Breastfeeding allows the consumption of an extra 500 calories, which is not a huge amount really. Breastfeeding mums need enough calories to maintain their normal body functions which include producing nutritious breast milk. Okay, so how does that lend itself to how I've been eating?

What happens is, my baby cluster feeds. For England. I sit and I feed and I sit and I feed. Then before I begin to join the very fabric of the sofa, I suddenly need the toilet so I put the baby down. Who cries. I have enough time to put the kettle on, visit the bathroom and make the shoddiest cup of tea ever, returning to the sofa with a mug of boiled water just starting to turn brown with milk in and the tea bag still in. If I see anything sweet in those few minutes, I scarf it. My body has an overwhelming need for sugar and fat. The sensible side of me would be all for a banana and a handful of mixed nuts but usually in that moment I have an uncontrollable appetite for whatever to be at hand, if it is chocolate then chocolate it is.

Or delicious Nutella-filled chocolate chip cookies!

chocolate cookie recipe
Recipe here

Having spoken to a few friends who breastfeed/fed, it doesn't seem such an unusual situation.

Despite making a concerted effort to eat healthier snacks in between meals to stabilise my blood sugar levels to prevent me feeling ravenous during mammoth feeding sessions, I am still very much drawn to anything sweet to give me the energy to propel me forward in that moment. A quick fix I suppose.

However, after eating a ridiculous amount of something I probably ought not to, I feel like I should try to restrict the next day to get myself on track which is of course part of the binge eating cycle.

I could also be misreading intense hunger for thirst. So I plan on filling up bottles of water and leaving them in easy to reach locations to make sure that I am well hydrated.

I know this feeling is temporary, but it certainly makes me feel as if I lack self-control. 

Although breastfeeding and its demands on my body, plus being a pretty active mum of three running on variable hours of restful sleep is probably the reason for all of this, it certainly isn't exclusive. 

Hands up anyone who has eaten well during the day then indulged in the evening? That is when the chocolate is safe to come out after all, when the children have gone to bed!

***Since drafting this post, bars of chocolate have been consumed. Cadbury chocolate with Oreo Peanut Butter, I have decided, is not my cup of tea***
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Monday, 15 May 2017

Turning Tears into Smiles with Elastoplast

We are now approaching the time of year when numbers drop at playgroups and toddlers as parents are favouring the great outdoors.


Over the Easter weekend the kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt in their grandparent's garden. It wasn't without injury though as Alexander fell some some concrete steps and we had to avoid the tortoise who, if you are not careful, will chase you as soon as you enter his garden! Thankfully chocolate goodies were hidden all over the garden to provide the perfect distraction.

lily easter egg hunting

Lily easter egg hunting


tortoise
Watch out, Crunchie Meat Pie is about!


My kids love playing outside and they think that they are pretty lucky to have a garden, small as it is, containing a slide, swing and paddling pool. I didn't grow up with these myself but me and my sister used to live opposite a fantastic park in Kent which provides us with a place to burn some energy.

lily and alexander falling around


Outdoor fun can also involve some classic games, usually made with wood such as this garden ring toss set we received courtesy of Elastoplast and Britmums. Lily took it as an opportunity to brush up on her counting skills as well.

elastoplast kit
Fun plasters can certainly help distract an upset child and these Frozen and Starwars plasters are ideal

When the kids do inevitably fall over we don't wrap them up in cotton wool. After all, falling down whilst playing and the emotions that go with it is part of growing up.

Lily and Alex falling down

A big hug and a brush down normally sees them on their way again but if there are any grazes which require attention I usually have some plasters in my purse or lurking somewhere in my bag. The Frozen and Starwars Elastoplast plasters are excellent at distracting my kids attention from the ailment and ultimately turns those tears into smiles- which is the aim of the game!

garden ring toss game

Take a look at Elastoplast's latest video, you'll see that most of the children's little injuries were obtained from playing outdoors. With the holidays ahead I will definitely be prepared and ready to turn any tears into smiles and giggles.



This post is an entry for the Britmums #TearsIntoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast

Elastoplast examples


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Lightwater Country Park | Living Arrows

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possibly because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"


On Sunday we visited Lightwater country park for the first time. Despite Rob growing up in Surrey he had never been before. It has a brilliant little cafe so we had a lovely lunch and Rob's dietary needs were considered. Freyja was definitely eying up his delicious salad!

Freyja eyeing up a salad


Lily and Alexander particularly enjoyed the children's corner full of books, puzzles and a box of lego so they had their kids lunch boxes there.

Lily and Alexander in the toy corner


We had a great family get-together and the children enjoyed the play area which appeared to suit active climbers but also catered for smaller kids too. Alex has been really getting into his numbers and countdowns so we often heard him nattering to him self as he ran around the playground.

Alexander waving


Lily marvelled at the lake with her auntie and showed off her climbing skills at the park. I have to stop myself feeling too cautious as I want my kids to enjoy themselves as much as they can. But it is very typical for us parents to worry, especially when their children are climbing trees!

Lily at the playground

Lily and Alexander climbing

Living Arrows
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Monday, 8 May 2017

Freyja and Mummy Update

I haven't written an update in so long on how me and baby Freyja have been getting on. Better late than never!
freyja chubby cheeks

Freyja is approaching the sleep regression stage commonly associated with the growth spurt which occurs around 4-5months.  After a goodly number of weeks going down in her cot in her own room and sleeping from 8:30 til 7 she now wakes for a snacky feed in the night and inevitably is back in with us.
During the day she enjoys cluster feeding in the afternoon and I always forget to have a drink beside me and end up positively parched! I feel like I'm merging into the sofa I sit on it long enough! But I thoroughly enjoy the sleepy cuddles. But as I write this we have all got a cold; freyja's is clearing up whilst mine is in its second day of full on nastiness. Due to this Freyja has been reluctant to feed to sleep which is what she usually does. So she has been going down for naps in her cot which is brilliant for all of us and everyone can get some rest. I'm sure her normality will resume however. Sometimes I don't even want to write about her being put down to sleep as I worry I will jinx it!

Freyja is over 14 pounds and has delicious fat rolls and hammy legs. She fits 6-9 month clothing generally and is quite a long baby. I often can't believe that she is the size she is. I suppose she is a testimony to how good a feeder she is and in turn how good my milk is. So no, just because she is a "bigger baby" doesn't necessarily mean she will need to wean onto solids earlier.

As for movement and motor skills she is able to roll from her front to her back but only half way from her back to her front! She can reach and grab toys and has great back and neck strength. She sits up well supported between my knees if I'm kneeling and it won't be long until she can sit unaided. On her tummy she can move around really well and moves like a caterpillar on her back which has resulted in a bald patch on the back of her head.

As for me, I'm losing hair so I have ordered some biotin tablets. My hair is a lot, lot shorter than it was so the plug hole doesn't get incredibly blocked and we don't find as many "hair-mice" rolling around like tumbleweed. Ever since having my hair cut shorter (waist length to collar length) I've been using special hair bands which look like plastic coils to reduce the amount to hair pulling tension on my scalp and to reduce the kink a tight ponytail can produce. Perhaps the biotin will help, I will update you as and when.
I'm also going through a phase of hearing Freyja cry even though everything is quiet and calm. As if my brain is on red alert and won't relax. It's probably exacerbated by this cold but it can be very distracting. It's tinnitus- baby style!

I've been exercising at my local Clubbercise since 2 weeks post partum. Breastfeeding has influenced my eating habits a lot this time; I swear I initially lost weight then gained through my ravenous consumption of chocolate. I put it down to needing a hit of energy in the shortest amount of time available, usually in between feeds. To cut the binge cycle I am having snack times to steady to blood sugar levels and reduce my need to literally stuff myself whilst the kettle boils for a cup of tea (no time to let it brew in the kitchen these days- milk goes in and teabag stays in!). I'm definitely trying to eat more sensibly. Unfortunately breastfeeding can't justify eating the way I have done and isn't a licence for eating junk but I'm turning a corner and seeing some good results overall.

freyja and pavlova

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Aquabeads Frozen Playset | Review

Lily adores playing with Aquabeads and creating a variety of different designs using the ready-to-use templates for inspiration. On Sunday afternoons she enjoys creating her own designs using her imagination, which requires some concentration and patience but overall she enjoys the entire process. When the opportunity to review the Aquabeads Frozen Playset arose of course I said, yes please! Lily was incredibly pleased when the package arrived and couldn't wait to get stuck in.


What is it?

An arts and crafts product suitable from the age of four. Create designs of popular characters from Frozen using beads which stick together with water.

Aquabeads Frozen Playset


First impressions:

The Aquabeads Frozen Playset is very visually pleasing to the eye, boasting the blue colours associated with Disney's Frozen along with an image of Anna and Elsa. It also showcases what is inside the packaging and an example of what can be created. Lily really impressed and couldn't wait to get the box open.

What is in the box: 

aquabeads frozen playset

  • Bead palette
  • Design Table with layout tray
  • Sprayer
  • Bead pen
  • Double-sided template sheets x 2
  • A variety of coloured solid beads and jewel beads
aquabeads frozen bead set


Assembly:

Although I know the beads will get mixed up, I initially set up the bead palette for Lily. The template tray is simple to use with the design table and align before using the bean pen to drop and position individual beads.

Lily and the Frozen aquabeads


The Lowdown:
  • Aquabeads are an innovation bead art set which allows for the design of template designs or unique creations
  • Keep the Frozen character design to collect or give away as a gift
  • The beads adhere together using a spray mist of water; usually take 1 hour to dry before the otherside can be spray-misted. No mess!
  • The Aquabeads promote creativity whilst helping fine-tune motor skills and dexterity and stimulate imagination
  • Aquabeads playsets are great for independent and group play
Frozen aquabeads playset bead palette

How we got on:


Pros -  Just uses water - no heat, no irons, thereby reducing the amount of adult supevision. The bead palette stores and separates the colours of solid and jewel beads. Good selection of coloured beads to create the Disney Frozen images. Putting the beads into mouths is deterred by the use of a safe bittering agent. It is a good idea to wash hands following playing with the Aquabeads to avoid the transfer of the bittering agent. The instruction leaflet also includes information on repairing a broken and/or bent design which is very useful.



Frozen Aquabeads playset bead palette and tray

Improvements - the bead pen can be a bit temperamental and can drop the bead as it is being lifted away from the palette. The bead palette could house the design/layout tray so everything could be kept together. I'm not convinced of the benefit of holding the layout tray upright (see first image) as the beads could simply drop off and scatter away if they haven't adhered sufficiently. Our playset didn't include the number of yellow Aquabeads which were displayed on the front of the box; as you can see from the photos we only had 4 beads. Lily also found that there weren't enough of the white beads to complete the remaining templates (particularly Elsa) once Olaf was complete, so overall more beads would be appreciated to reflect the image on the box.


Olaf Frozen playset Aquabeads


Price and Where to buy:

Aquabeads Frozen playset is available from £16.99 and can be purchased in a variety of stores and online, including Smyths Toys.

Would we recommend?

We certainly would recommend this bead crafting set for anyone who enjoys Frozen especially and already has existing Aquabead sets. My daughter Lily really enjoys creating the characters and it gets her imagination going to see what else she can create. I'm happy that there is a storage box of sorts for the beads rather than my previous set up of using IKEA plastic sandwich bags. If you have an existing Aquabeads set which can contain everything then you could combine everything to store together. I would recommend overalls to be worn as the water-soluble beads can transfer dye or start to stick to clothing or the floor if they roll away.

Does your child enjoy playing with Aquabeads?

Top tip: Play with the Aquabeads on a lipped tray to prevent the little bead rolling away!

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Friday, 14 April 2017

Easter Rocky Road Recipe

I loooove rocky road. The squidgier the better. Dry rocky road is not my cup of tea, that is a variation of chocolate refridgerater cake surely! Although, if offered some choc fridge cake with a cup of tea I would most likely accept.

I have recently tried my hand at making marshmallows from scratch. To make them "Easter-y" I swirled through some Wilton food colouring gel; daffodil yellow looked way better than the violet which was darker than I remembered. A good friend reminded me about rocky road, so here I am, showing you my Easter rocky road recipe. What makes them Easter-y? Cadbury Mini Eggs and my homemade Easter marshmallow of course.

I ended up looking up my own recipe from way back when. 4 years ago I decided to try making rocky road to take to said good friend's son's party. I even filmed the recipe for my YouTube channel Sophie and Lily. It did make me smile to listen to my young daughter's noises and squeals. Lily is now five years old, can't believe it!


Making Rocky Road
Melt,stir, crush...

making rocky road
Combine extra ingredients, mix and pour into a pan to set

Rocky Road

Easter Rocky Road

Warning: This is seriously addictive (I wonder why!) so do what I did and give at least half to some friends. Save yourself!

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Monday, 10 April 2017

Dolmio #thankgoodness Challenge

dolmio thank goodness challenge

If you know me in actual life you will know that I have two children who are complete polar opposites when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables. Lily, my eldest, is a fruit bat and calls herself 'broccoli girl' whereas Alexander won't entertain the idea of any fruit or vegetables. He is served fruit and vegetables each day and has got as far as licking a piece or putting it in his mouth but no further.

I try my hardest to incorporate the veggies into his diet, ironically he is partial to an Ella's Kitchen pouch but of late he has been announcing particular flavours as 'ding-ding' (disgusting). Hidden veg sauces take a bit of preparation ahead of time and sometimes mid-week meals require little thought and planning. I usually have big ideas then forget to take the crucial ingredient such as the hidden veggie sauce out of the freezer.

When I received an email asking whether I'd like to participate in the Dolmio #thankgoodness challenge I thought, why not?

what is in a jar of dolmio bolognese sauce


A Tesco's delivery slot for a Monday morning was organised and I was even more impressed that the driver let me know that he was in the area so he could deliver the shopping earlier, result! I unpackaged several bags full of ingredients and had a quick think of some meal ideas on the spot. Take a look at the Tesco Grocery Haul vlog from my YouTube channel, Sophie and Lily:



In reality I made none of those ideas. I suppose I changed my mind as I wanted to try new meals which could also be whipped up with minimal effort. Meals that are ideal for a mid-week supper but don't scrimp on taste or nutrition. And if there is an alternative way for my salad-dodger to eat his greens and enjoy the meal as well then I'm all for it!

The first of two meals I made was Mediterranean Chicken Traybake. I love a roasted traybake. Chop veg and meat, bung in a tray with some oil and seasoning and cook. Bob's your Uncle. I decided to adopt this principle but pour the jar of Dolmio Bolognese over the top of the diced veggies and spiced chicken then sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Step 1: Season the chicken
mediterranean chicken traybake
Ingredients: half a courgette, handful of mushrooms, a red pepper, half a small aubergine, 4 chicken breasts, 1 tbsp paprika, 2 cloves of garlic diced, 1 jar Dolmio Bolognese, grated cheese.
1st step: Place chicken breasts in an overproof dish and sprinkle evenly with paprika and garlic


Step 2: Prep veggies

med chicken traybake step 2
Step 2: Dice half a courgette, handful of mushrooms, a red pepper, half a small aubergine and add to the dish
Step 3: Pour over the Dolmio Bolognese and top with grated cheese. Bake at 180 deg C for 30 mins

cover veg and chicken with dolmio bolognese and top with cheese
Step 3: Pour the jar of Dolmio Bolognese evenly over the chicken and veggies and top with grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg. C for 30 mins or until the chicken is cooked through

Recipe vlog and verdict from Lily:



The result:

I served the Mediterranean chicken traybake with wholewheat spaghetti and broccoli. Me, Lily and Rob loved it and Alex picked away at the veggies. A few made it near his mouth so that is a promising result for us anyway! It certainly was delicious and the additional garlic on the chicken made the flavours really stand out. Next time I would add some chorizo for extra Mediterranean flavours.



lily and dinner

dolmio chicken traybake with spaghetti

Rob even had leftovers for his lunch the next day which he was pretty happy about. It certainly made a tasty change from soup!

leftovers

So, overall it was decided that this meal should definitely be cooked again. Big thumbs up all round from us!

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmiowww.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.”
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