Tuesday 31 January 2012

Project 366 #31

The man himself,  Mr Robert Burns - complete with a not so authentic plastic cup full of soup, don't blame him it was quite cold.

Wonder if I could write "An ode to a cup o'soup"

Save power with a British Gas Minim energy Monitor

I like many people am always trying to find various ways of saving money, and with that thought in mind when I saw The Watt Loss Challenge over on Britmums being run in conjunction with British Gas, I just had to show you one of the most visual ways there is of actually physically seeing how much electricity you are using and what appliances are responsible for that.

So I give you my video

To see how to install and set up the meter British Gas have made a video, but they do come with instruction manuals so don't worry too much.

I must admit the other way we are saving money was by doing an online price check, I have managed, by staying with the same power company, but changing tariff to an online rate from the rate I have been on or the last 8 years to go from £81 a month down to £63. That money is better in my pocket than somebody elses.

Why not go and look out your last bill see how much your annual consumption was and do a price comparison for yourself You may be pleasantly surprised.

Look I will even give you a link to a price comparison site ( other comparison sites are available...lol)

Monday 30 January 2012

The watt loss challenge with Brit Mums

I came across this the other day and thought I would go and join in.

Saving energy and saving money go hand-in-hand, and these days it’s more important than ever to do both. That’s why we’re running our NEW BritMums Linky Challenge: The Watt Loss Challenge. Why not start 2012 with some strong energy efficiency resolutions?

Well the main way we manage energy efficiency in this house is by making sure my heating is set to keep my house at 18 oC and we use low wattage light bulbs in all our ceiling lights and are lamps as well,

Thinking Slimmer month 3 update

Well I have been working with Slimpod and Thinking Slimmer for 3 months now, and I truly do know it has kicked in and is working.

I downloaded initially Drop 2 jean sizes which changes your relationship with food and leads to you eating less, as it changes the way you think about food. I used this alone for the first 6 weeks,  and I have not noticed a huge weight loss as some people are reporting but I am not overly bothered.

 This for me was never about a quick weighloss, though I can't help but feel a tad jealous of others that are managing just that, it is about a life long change, not a fad diet that as soon as I eat normal again the weight piles back on quicker than it came off, but something to see me through into my old age. I a aware that being 52 my metabolism is slowing down and they say a gain is not unusual, well I don't want that gain, and with the slimpod - Thinking Slimmer I hope for it not to be a problem.

So six weeks ago I  added in Over 50 fitness and well being - which really works in the same way by changing the way you feel about exercise and again it has motivated me to get up and move around more, go out walking more and even doing daft things like leg lifts, plunges and arm curls to a decent song that comes on the radio.

Now I must admit I have nor had a huge weight loss, this last fortnight  has shown a loss of 2lb, but that reflects to the monthly loss as the first two weeks of January I had no loss at all. But I have to agree with Thinking Slimmers advise on not worrying about the scales at all.  Put into perspective 2lb a month is nearly 2 stone a year, and I was aiming at 1 stone so nearly double.

No I am not making excuses for a bad lifestyle, I am still eating 1/3 - 1/2 of what I was before I started, I rarely feel hungry, and what I do eat is mostly healthy. Ok so I eat some home baking, but its one cake now not three, and  my baking is weird healthy stuff anyway. I use to drink one can of caffeine free diet coke a day before, I don't drink any now,and when I do I just don't enjoy it and end up throwing it down the sink once its gone flat I have taken up a relationship with Ribena along with the herbal teas and water I already drink. The Ribena is the normal one, not the low sugar artificial flavouring one, have stopped using that now in all drinks.

My biggest change this month is definitely in the amount of exercise, and type of exercise I am doing. Ideally I would love to have the money to renew my membership at Bannatynes and go swimming again 4 or 5 times a week as I did when I was at college and Uni, but oh is unemployed and funds will not permit.

Silly things like a good record comes on the radio and I will boogie along with it for the duration, or do some arm-curls and leg lifts, some lunges and stretches. Take the dog out every day, and I have even made friends with the chairobics hour that is on fitness tv every day. Its an hour and it really does get your heart rate up. I have also started using my hand weights during it, so have taken it from no weights, to light weighs and now onto the medium, and boy do they make your arm muscles work more than just on your own. You can also access the videos online so if you miss the start can do it with your computer instead

I sit upstairs watching tv and play with the hand weights whilst I'm doing that, and truly am finding I cant sit for too long without thinking "get up and do something, anything" so will go up and downstairs 4 or 5 times, clean out a cupboard or a draw. If something needs to go up the stairs instead of putting it at the bottom to go up next time I go I make a point of going up with it. All little things that make a big difference.

 I am measuring myself and still losing (small amounts) of inches, and upping my fitness levels so I am more than happy with how it is going and would recommend them to anybody.

So there you have it my 3 month update - and still happy and recommending to anybody who will listen.

Drawing Comp with NurtureStore - Bobs' entry

Well I set the children the task of drawing their favourite meal so we could enter the competition over at NurtureStore that she is running in conjunction with Appliances Online to win £100 (or $150).

Here’s  Bobs' entry into the Appliances Online Cookers Yummy Food competition.

 Bobs plate has a plate sized pizza on it, the red stuff is the tomato sauce, Bobs not allowed cheese so no cheese to cover it. The ears ( to either side) are cherry tomatoes, as is the nose in the centre. The two elongated "eyes" are 2 chips, and the hair is made of purple onions.

Mummy and him make face pizza ( if that is the correct word for something egg, wheat, gluten, and dairy free) for lunch some days, and I was quite impressed with his drawing.

Drawing Comp with NurtureStore - Fifis' entry

Well I set the children the task of drawing their favourite meal so we could enter the competition over at NurtureStore that she is running in conjunction with Appliances Online to win £100 (or $150).

Here’s  Fifis' entry into the Appliances Online Cookers Yummy Food competition.

  This is (Top LHS) haggis, in the middle chips,  RHS of the plate is mince with red, yellow and green peppers through it, with lettuce and cherry tomatoes on bottom LHS

Pastry that went wrong - and then more right

As you all know I am sponsored by Healthy Supplies and due to the adverse needs of my grandson I pick my own ingredients but generally round a theme or idea supplied by them, usually to tie in with their newsletter for the next month.

Just before Christmas Tina sent me a link to a gluten free puff pastry recipe and asked me if I fancied trying it, so eventually I have got round to it.I have had to adapt the butter for a dairy free option, so harping back to my schooldays I used half soya margarine and half trex. I also made up 50% more of the doughy mix than she has to allow me to experiment with a level playing field.

 So on Friday I gave it a go,  I made up the batch of "doughy" stuff ready for the rolling and folding process, and so I took 1/3 of doughy mix and and decided to make mincemeat pies for after the tea, so according to the instructions I mixed and I rolled, and I rolled, popped it back in the fridge for about 30mins to recover, then I cut, lovingly added the mincemeat, popped the lids on and came up with........well it had pastry and it had mincemeat......but it was certainly not a mince pie as we know them. Not to bad when warm, but hard and tough and as you can maybe see from a separate piece I cooked no lightness or layers at all.

apple and plum tart
So not one to be beaten I went back and reread the post again, and thought if she can do it so can I - so I took another 1/3 of the doughy mix, added an extra ounce of fat, and did 4 roll, add fat, fold and rolls instead of 3. I then left it in the fridge for a few hours as I made it before I needed it. What we got this time was much more an acceptable pastry, and as you can see from some of the tarts I made it did seem to layer up.

the cheese and mustard roll
I also used a few bits and offcuts of the pastry left so I spread a bit of mustard on it, topped with a bit of grated cheese (no longer safe for Bob but he not here) , rolled up and popped in the oven, and it came out ok as well, certainly very nice whilst warm. Again you can see an attempt at layers.

Lastly I used the final piece to make some fig rolls, again same pastry as above. I had previously boiled some figs in orange juice, left them to soak overnight and pureed as I needed it, and again these turned out very nice, although the layers not as obvious it tasted light and more than edible. Will certainly make more of these.
fig rolls
This is a review post but the findings are my own

Project 366 #30

Inspired by the suggestion made Yvonne over at TheBoyandMe, I am doing a week long on the same theme, this week being My Sunday afternoon out 

Sunday 29 January 2012

3 tips for bedtime

I saw this competition being run by Becky over on baby budgetting, and decided to have a go.

My 3 top tips for getting children into bed and so to sleep are
1) establish a routine from very early on, bath, supper, story and bed was ours
2) no tv/games/exciting games after bath
3) leave either very low wattage light on in room, or a landing light with door ajar, it saves feeling alone and scared

This is my entry to childrens beds from Time 4 Sleep.

and look it works..... 

A Sunday afternoon out.

I don't have many weekends off, as they are my "working week", but I get holidays like everybody else, so this weekend I had a Sunday Afternoon out.

I did not have to go far to do this, just up the road to Alloway for a day out called Alloway 1759. It is a celebration of the well known Scottish poet Robert Burns.

The afternoon was advertised as

Alloway 1759 takes place in and around Burns Cottage & the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum where the streets are lined with costumed characters and performers to create a unique atmosphere. Enjoy a wide variety of events including Clydesdale horse & cart trips, haggis hurling, object handling, Drew Cochrane performing Tam o'Shanter, The Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, Burns Childrens' Party, birds of prey, Willie Stewart singing songs of Burns & much more.

We parked on a side street, and walked past a "street market" which consisted of a few oldie looking vehicles selling modern wares ( too many mingling people to get a photo of them) along to the street activities in front of the cottage first of all,  but could not get near enough to see or hear what was going on on the stage, so we wandered off again along Poet's Path to the Museum.

There are a whole row of weather vanes depicting different poems along the path, hence its name. 

Along the path is a new statue of a rusty old fox, sitting a top a log with a broken chain hanging by its side, it was unveiled on Wednesday, the birthday of Burns, and it commemorates the poem A Fragment.

It signifies the fox escaping capture.

Holy Willie doing a reading
Along to the museum which hosts a whole host of activities and had a fiddle orchestra which had a lot of local children in, nice to see the traditions being passed on.  At the museum we met Holy Willie, from Holy Willies prayer, he was doing a reading of the poem, and we asked him to come outside to get some photos inder the sign, which he willingly did even scantily clad in the cold, saying it wont take long to take a picture, and then ended up with dozens of photos being taken by all the tourists.
Holy Willie complete with his bible and candle

The picture isn't perfect but you are not officially allowed to use a flash inside the museum, so I went into program mode and changed up to 1600 ISO ( how good am I getting...lol)

We then decided to walk back to the cottage and see what was going on inside the cottage and in the education centre that they have there. The was "haggis hurling" for the kids, who seemed to be enjoying it and were getting plenty of encouragement by the adults running it.

book, bottle of ink and quill
In the education centre they had a lot of items to look at that were around when Burns was alive.
2 models of children

Lastly we went back outside and got near the stage, in time to see a group called Bags of Rock, rock music on bagpipes is the best way to describe them, and very entertaining they were too.

Project 366 #29

We went out for the afternoon today, well I work most weekends so need to make the most of my seven weeks holidays.   You can find out more about my day out here.
Have been reading the advise from Mrs TheBoyandMe and decided as we had been out this afternoon that you will be getting the same theme running through this weeks Project 366 - the theme being Robert Burns.

and well the mad things you do, here is me milking the cow.

I picked this one to put in as none this week were stunning, but this just proves how mad I am!!

The lovely Fiona over at Coombe Mill has popped this into her Pinterest board,  and I am now a model as well.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday 28 January 2012

Project 366 #28

A chilly winter afternoon not long before sunset,caught some of the reflection on the water, it started to snow whilst taking my pictures and they seem to have come out in black and white.  This was taken using the "sunset" mode of my camera, will need to experiment with this to.
Not the best picture but part of my experimenting much more still to try yet.

Winner of Toddlers- An instruction manual

 Here we go, this was done at random as you can see, and the winner was

nataliemay30 ( If my counting is correct, but checked twice to make sure), well done Natalie

please e-mail me your details to elaine.livingstone@sky.com and I will pass them on to Joanne for delivery. enjoy the book.

Friday 27 January 2012

Cakes to amuse the kids

raspberries, egg replacer, flour and sugar
As part of my Healthy Supplies shipment this month I picked orange essence, chocolate essence, and dried raspberries to eat cos they are yummy use in with my baking.

So I prepared all the ingredients before hand as Bobs not keeping overly well and sometimes it can be just to much for him from scratch, but I hate leaving him out.

 So I measured out the ingredients into separate bowls, and pre soaked the egg replacer.

I took 150 brown rice flour, 75g tapioca flour and 75g buckwheat flour sieved together with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teapoon of gluten replacer.

Fifi mixes

and Bob did the cake cases
Fifi put 150g pure dairy sunflower spread and 75grams of Xylitol, creamed them and added in the flax seed as egg replacer, and stirred in the flours.

We then split the mixture into three parts, Bob took one part and added the chocolate essence, Fifi added the orange to hers and I added the rapsberries to mine.

the two of them fill the cases

Once cooked Fifi melted a bar of orange flavoured carob, they drizzled the cakes and decorated them to look very pretty. (We left 6 of them as we decided to make chocolate custard as well to have with cakes for pudding.)

drizzle chocolate pattern on the table
Findings - not particularly impressed with the essences, you seemed to need an awful lot to get the flavour (1.5 dessert spoons for 12 cakes worth) and even then they were not overly flavoured, very subtle to say the least.With the vanilla or the lemon 1 teaspoon for that amount would have been enough. (Sorry H.S but I do say honest reviews).

The raspberries were beautiful , edible dry and I have added them to my breakfast, and have lost none of their flavour once rehydrated, and they smell and taste very nice indeed.

This is a review post but the findings are an honest reflection of my findings.

Yummy dairy free ice-creams

Having bought a lot of long life soya cream before Christmas that was just taking up far to much room in the fridge I decided to use it and make a batch of ice-creams.

I made a litre of soya milk to which I added 51/5 tubs of cream, and 300g sugar and heated to boiling. The other half a tub I mixed with 4 tablespoons of arrowroot, Once milk comes to the boil remove from heat and immediately stir in cream and  arrowroot mix.

the star anise mushed and sieved
At this point I split the mix into three, and to one I added 4 star anise to one lot whilst still hot to bring put the beautiful aniseed flavour. Once the mixture was cooled, I liquidised the star anise in the milk, and then strained off the tough bits, the smell was heavenly

I also popped some raspberries in a bowl and added a ladle full of the creamy mixture to release their flavour and soften them up. 

the chocolate ice cream

Once the mixtures had cooled I made one lot of star anise ice-cream, one lot of chocolate using the chocolate essence and one lot of raspberry.

The chocolate one was ok but I am not impressed with the chocolate essence at all, the other flavours I have are simply to die for, this one just is...

The star anise ice-cream
I have to admit the star anise one ( if you like aniseed) was so so delicious.

The raspberry one was a nice sharp ice cream. The raspberries taste as good as the real thing.

I like this recipe, it works well, and it is taken from The Vegan Scoop, one of many recipes in there, which was sent to me by Gaggia when they sent me the ice-cream maker.

To read what I think of the machine please see here

This is a review post but the findings are my own honest opinion

Project 366 #27

the things I do to amuse myself when its cold and snowy.

Food Allergy and Intolerance Week - A mothers perspective

Food Allergy & Intolerance Week runs from 23rd to 29th January and is looking to raise awareness not just of the physical effects of these conditions, but the social impact they have. Allergy UK will be providing help and support throughout the week for the millions of sufferers in the UK.

Mum has asked me to write something relevant for Food Allergy and Intolerance  Week, the only stipulation being that it had to be different to her post!  

 I have decided that, instead of writing about how the kids’ lives are affected by Bob’s food allergies (which mum does regularly anyway); I would write a completely and utterly selfish post about how my life has been affected by them.  First of all, I want to point out that I love my kids, they are my whole world, and I would walk to the ends of the earth and back to make them happy.  The only thing I would change, if I could, would be to make Bob a normal, healthy 5-year-old (oh, and possibly make us a little bit richer……..), however, I can’t do that, and all that I can do is try to make his life as easy as possible for him.  So, this is my story.

I have a friend, who lives round the corner from me.  She has a normal family, husband, two kids (roughly ages with mine), dog, car, etc.  She drops her kids off at school at 9.00am every morning, and her time is her own until 3.00pm, to do with what she will.  She and her husband go out for the occasional evening, to the pictures, or the pub, leaving the kids with a babysitter.  She does her weekly shopping at the supermarket, takes the kids out for dinner once in a while, takes the kids to their various after school activities, drops them off at birthday parties.  Pretty much a normal existence for a mum, and probably the same sort of life as 99.9% of mums out there.

I drop the kids off at school at 9.00am ( Bob only goes three mornings a week, currently), and then sit on a knife-edge, waiting for the phone call from school to tell me something has happened to Bob, or he’s been sick, or he’s got a funny rash, or he’s in floods of tears, and will you pick him up please?, until 12.15, when I go to collect him from school.  That’s 3 hours, 3 days a week, in which to get anything done I need to get done, shopping, housework, take the car to the garage, get that important form filled in that should have been done a fortnight ago, etc.  The other mums arrange the occasional lunch out, or coffee in town, and I can never go, as I don’t have the time.

A trip to the supermarket takes hours, I have to read every label on every item I pick up (I even read the label on the milk carton the other day – you’d be surprised to learn that it contains milk!), and one supermarket isn’t enough.  Bob’s yoghurts and rolls come from Asda, his pasta, biscuits, chicken nuggets, sausages from Sainsburys, bread from Morrisons, cheese from a little health store, egg replacer from another health store.  In a normal week, I visit at least two supermarkets, sometimes more.  Bobs food also costs a fortune – for instance, his rolls are £2.08 for four, they are tiny, and he eats two at a sitting.  If I run out of something, I can’t just nip across the road to the corner shop to top up; it’s another trip out to the supermarket.  There are lots of things that I just can’t get locally, and have to order online, which costs even more, due to delivery costs.

If I want to go out anywhere, I have to make sure I can leave the kids with my sister, or the one friend who is willing to look after Bob, or wait until a Monday night when the kids stay at mums, I can’t just leave Bob with a baby-sitter.  This means that, most of the time, if I get invited out, I have to turn down the invitation, as I just can’t arrange childcare, which means, in turn, that people stop inviting me, because I can never go.

If Bob gets an invitation to a birthday party, I have to stay with him (and spend the whole time panicking); as I can’t expect someone else’s mum to look after him, and make sure he is safe, in the middle of the insanity that kids’ parties always turn into.  This means that I have become one of those parents, who normally turns up at a party with an extra child in tow, as I can’t leave Bob at the party, and can’t really leave Fifi in the house, or the car, on her own (tempting though it is, I’m sure it’s illegal!).  I also have to take along his own food and drink, after discussing with the parents what other food they are putting on, so that he has roughly the same as the others.  There are other parties that I just say a flat out no to – there is no way I can take him to a make your own pizza party for instance.
I can’t just turn up on a friend’s doorstep for coffee without planning it first – what if their kids had peanut butter sandwiches for lunch?  Or they are sitting eating chocolate cake? 
I have to fill in countless forms, for school, hospitals, doctors, out of school activities, etc., all saying different variations of the same things, and, every time something changes, they all need to be filled in again.

I know the best route to every hospital in the area (and the locations of hospitals all over the country, from John O’Groats to (almost) Lands End), which ones sell the best coffee, and the one that sells the instant that smells like it’s been stored in the porters dirty socks for a week.  I have loose change stored permanently in the car, so that I can get something to eat and drink when Bob gets admitted to hospital, and can throw together an overnight bag for the two of us in less time than it takes an ambulance to arrive at mine.  I have arrangements made with a few friends which mean that I can drop Fifi off at any time of the night or day if I have to rush Bob into hospital, and have been known to turn up on someone’s doorstep at 1.30am, with Fifi still in jammies, and almost asleep, to launch her out of the car and wheel spin away.

I have minor panic attacks if the car has less than a quarter of a tank of fuel – I know that a quarter of a tank is enough to cope if Bob is in hospital for a day or two, and, if the car shows any sign of something being not quite right, it is whisked away to be fixed, just in case.  (I have a recurring nightmare that Bob gets really ill and the car won’t start.)

I have really strict rules about food in the house – no food or drink in the front room, no nuts in the house at all, and for crying out loud, be careful with that milk!  The kitchen sides and table get washed down in a certain way after every use, the floor is hoovered after every meal, pots and pans are washed in a specific order, and any plate or bowl with milk or egg products is rinsed before it’s loaded into the dishwasher.  I have separate cupboards, and a fridge and freezer for Bob’s stuff, to reduce the risk of cross contamination.  If there is anything spilled on the floor, it is wiped up, washed down, and then mopped straight away.  Any child that eats in my house gets scrubbed afterwards, and small children just get given Bob-safe food to make my life easier!

There are very few convenience type foods that are safe for Bob to eat, so the majority of meals in this house have to be cooked from scratch.  There are not many sauces that are safe for Bob either, Spaghetti Bolognese is so much easier, cheaper, and quicker when you can open a jar of Bolognese sauce and throw it in the pan.   I like us all to be able to sit down for the same meal, as much as possible, but that often means I have two pans of pasta to cook (one lot for Bob, one for everyone else), or separate oven trays, and sometimes even separate ovens.

Days out have to be planned meticulously – food and drinks have to be taken with us, wipes to clean surfaces before Bob touches them, the location of the nearest hospital noted, medication taken if we are going to be out when they are due, a buggy squeezed into the boot for when he gets tired, a change of clothes just in case they are needed – there is no “Let’s just jump in the car and see where we end up” anymore.  Holidays are even worse – it has to be self catering, and the place is inspected with a fine tooth comb when we get there – I once found grated cheese on the floor of our caravan.  The car is loaded with more drugs than the local pharmacy, Bobs own bedding is packed, sometimes I think shoving wheels on the house would be easier!

And then there are the other, random, unimportant things that I lie awake and worry about, for instance Bob now weighs just over 16kgs, his buggy (which he needs when he gets too tired to walk, or his asthma is bothering him) is designed to hold up to 15kgs, as are most of them.  It’s now starting to look as though it’s going to fall apart (although for a £5 sale buggy, it’s lasted about two years), but where do I get another one?  I know I can buy one for disabled kids, but is it worth spending all that money on something that is probably not going to fit in the boot of the car, and not get used that much?  I can’t buy a second hand one, as who knows what’s been spilt on it.  

So there you go, a little bit about me and my life.  It sounds bad, and there are days where I wake up, realise I’ve got to get Bob to two hospitals that day, and have to manage to collect Fifi from school, and get to the shops, and I want to roll over, bury my head, and block out the world, but Bob wanders in, climbs into bed, and gives me a kiss and cuddle, tells me he loves me, and begs for breakfast, and I know things will be fine.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Food Allergy and Intolerance Week - Not as easy as it first appears

Food Allergy & Intolerance Week runs from 23rd to 29th January and is looking to raise awareness not just of the physical effects of these conditions, but the social impact they have. Allergy UK will be providing help and support throughout the week for the millions of sufferers in the UK

Bobs new friend E lives across the road, and like Bob she suffers from multiple food allergies, and her mum Sammykins has kindly written me a guest post on her experiences with E.

This post highlights the dangers of foods in the same food group family. Sammykins tells us

Most people are aware of the risks of food allergies for children who suffer from such a restricting and debilitating condition. But what many are not aware of are the links between food groups and families- which can give rare reactions. Or even from the risks of products we wouldn't eat, but can pose a huge risk to an allergy sufferer!

My daughter, E, has severe multiple allergies. Like wee Bob, these have restricted her as she has grown up and caused many a confusion at the A&E and Surgery when she presents with severe symptoms and no obvious cause.

The two that stick in my mind most were unusual, not because of the way they presented but because of the actual allergen involved.

Whilst snacking on a fruit salad one day, E began to react violently to foods which were seemingly safe. Cherries were the only thing that she hadn't had before. As most fruits seem to be fine for her, I was a bit puzzled by this.

After the initial panic, frantic dash for medicine and settling E after the reaction, I started to look into some 'reasons' as to why cherries would cause a problem. It took a while but after some searching and reading, I discovered that cherries are in the same 'family' as almonds. And most of the foods in this group cause a reaction for E. This made a whole lot of sense!

Peanuts and tree-nuts come from different subfamilies. Peanuts are actually classed as a pulse. Bob can eat peas but not peanuts. E cannot eat any food from the pulse family.

Allergies have no rules, they can make a child feel 'different' and isolated. Parents can feel the same way. It's possible to adapt some things to safe guard against a reaction occurring, but it's costly, time consuming and often exhausting and emotionally draining coping on a daily basis. The very stuff that should sustain us can be deadly!

The other story that sticks in my mind was the saga of the gerbils. E was desperate for a pet that wasn't an allergy safe goldfish! She took herself to the pet shop one Saturday and returned with 2 adorable little gerbils. Now, the problem is small rodent foods, as a rule, contain peanuts. Being as E reacts to even refined peanut oils this was going to pose a huge problem. Well, my house may not run like a 'normal' house, but its normal for us! With effort and research, I found one make of gerbil food which did not contain nuts. A little bit more pricey than your average pet food, but still....And, magic! There was one supplier in my home town!

So we adapted the gerbil box. Sand instead of sawdust, nut free kibble. I can't tell you how many people had a good giggle at my request for nut free gerbil food, and to the reasons why I needed it.

The best advice I could offer in supporting an allergy prone family is LISTEN.LISTEN.LISTEN.
Allergies are becoming increasingly common, but are very unique and personal to the sufferer. Bob and E have 12 years of an age difference between them, but a common link with severe allergies. They both have highly specialized dietary requirements, but what works for Bob doesn't work for E and vice versa. The expertise offered from the parent of an allergic child is invaluable! It doesn't matter how odd it may sound or how bizzare it may seem...follow the request of the parent and keep the kiddie safe!

Don't be afraid to include an allergic child in games and parties- but do pay attention to the safety advice provided by the carer.

Hopefully, more and more people will become involved with the work that Allergy awareness week offers. Raising awareness is the way forward in bringing an allergic child into mainstream living.

  It is not something I was aware of before Bob, but food families are strange, dont always make sense, and proves that even allergy children dont play by the rules!!

Project 366 #26

Well we did Bob the other day, so doing Fifi today. Now Fifi did not have the best start in life she was a 29+6 baby and weighed a tiny 3lb 3oz.
This has in no way held her back, and she measures 47 inches, allowing for the 3 inch difference on the ruler, which makes her just on the bottom rung of her height chart.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Bob loves dressing up

Rarely does a week go by that when Bob turns up he turns up in a dressing up outfit of some description. We have him here as a racing car driver, a ballerina, spiderman, woody, or a skeleton, and has even been know to use the girls Disney Princess dresses and the like.  But at the moment his favourite is his gingerbread man outfit. Mind its dead handy, doesn't show the chocolate we cook with when he is here.
This is my entry for thismummyloves My Tutus and Superheroes Competition run in conjunction with Appliances Online Washing Machines

why not come across and join us?

Project 366 #25

Well considering where I live, I really could not put up a picture of much else really considering todays' date. Right o.k.  necks at a 90 o  angle - ok ok ok so you could have turned your laptop but where's the fun in that?

well I could not fit a panoramic  picture in normally, and it was just the opportunity to show off that I have learnt to take panoramic pics with my new camera, this was about the 10th shot cos its not as easy as I thought.

what is it I hear you ask? 

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Food Allergy and Intolerance Week - The real impact

Food Allergy & Intolerance Week runs from 23rd to 29th January and is looking to raise awareness not just of the physical effects of these conditions, but the social impact they have. Allergy UK will be providing help and support throughout the week for the millions of sufferers in the UK.

Well with having a Bob in the family I really thought that by writing a post it might just help one other struggling person to realise that its not really quite the end of the world. Yes it is hard, it is life changing and it really takes a lot more thought and time than it did before.

It has an impact on everybody in the family, and affects every aspect of every waking minute of every day for the rest of that childs life.

Bob is allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and kiwi and intolerant to wheat, gluten, banana, rice and honey.

This leaves a very very limited list of foods that can be bought pre-made/packaged/jarred etc as not only do you have to look out for the obvious foods but you also need to know about linked food groups. I make my own soya yoghurt as then I know what is in it (nothing but the soya beans because I also make my own soya milk), but if it was just me that was eating it I could help it thicken by adding dried goats milk - but it contains the same protein as cows milk and therefore whilst it is ok for me as I am only lactose intolerant it is no use to Bob who is allergic to the protein in the milk.

 Shopping is a huge time consuming pastime. You cannot use internet shopping with children like Bob, you cannot take that risk that some ingredient may have changed. . You may buy say a jar of asda sweet and sour sauce to use to add to mince. That jar is read in the shop in case anything in it has changed. It is read again when it is taken out of the cupboard just in case you missed something the first time round. People say "oh it only says may contain traces of" but if you picked up something that said "may contain traces of cyanide" would you feed it to your child? No I didn't think so well that is what it is like for families like ours - potentially lethal.

It impacts of every member of the family, his sister cannot have anything with nuts in in the house as nuts can be dangerous even second hand. She reads every packet, she scrutinises every new food she sees in any of the family members houses before she will allow us to give it to her little brother. She has been present when he has gone into anaphylactic shock, can you even begin to imagine how scary that, and the ensuing adult panic is, on a small child.  She even informed the dentist the other month that the milk and honey soap that she was washing her hands with could not be used near her brother. No young child should need to assume this responsibility but she just does naturally and like all siblings is very fond of her brother.

This 9 year old girl lives, breaths and thinks like no child should have to. The impact on her is  overwhelming to the stage the other month when I got her to fill up the bird feeders in the garden she asked me where the list of ingredients were as how would the birds know if they were allergic to the food if I did not put a list out? No she is not stupid she knows birds can't read but it just goes to show how deeply ingrained the mentality has to be.

But more to the point it has a huge impact on Bob himself. Babies and toddlers need a good relationship with food to see them through to healthy adulthood. Bob never had that, his lasting memories are of pain, and suffering, he learnt to associate eating with horrendous pains - can you imagine labour pains but worse every time you eat something you are intolerant too? Or intense itching, scratching, puffy eyes and unable to breath every time you eat something you are allergic too? Where mummy has to phone for an ambulance,  which  come out and the people in it inflict pain on you when you are already very very scared? How willing would you be to eat. This of course causes failure to thrive and every thing that goes hand in hand with that.

I have to ask you have you tried some of the alternatives? Dairy free cheese? soya milk? gluten free bread? They leave a lot to be desired, whilst I appreciate Bob does not know what cheese, chocolate, bread tastes like to you and I and he does not know any different some of them are fairly rancid. Have you tried making a birthday cake without egg,dairy,wheat and gluten? Its possible I have done it but the result is not overly tasty.

It impacts on a childs social development - we have all been to mother and toddlers and have cute pictures of two children sitting together sharing a soggy biscuit, one suck for me one suck for you. Its a brilliant way of building up their immune systems, but he missed out on all that, when any other child had food he had to be removed from the scene. You take your normal child along to the play park, eating a rusk or something similar as you push them there in their buggy, you get them out and place them in the swing and they rub the food all over the chains - Bob therefore cannot have the chance every normal child has to play in a park, he cant learn to climb  a climbing frame safely for the risk your child has contaminated the play equipment.

You take your child to the doctors/hospital/playgroup and allow them to chew the board books, the toys, or dribble on the floor - all these places are potential death traps for children like Bob. You feed them a bar of chocolate or a bag of wotsits to keep them quiet while your waiting, and their hands go all over the toys.

It is impacting on him more now he is at school, he cannot share/swap playpiece with other children, a normal phase all children go through but he is excluded from it.But again you send your child to school with a normal every day "harmless" food but your child touches doors, chairs, school equipment without washing their hands when they go back in after playtime.

It has a massive impact on him learning the skills of being away from mummy and interacting and communicating with other children, their siblings and their parents. Nobody invites him to play after school, no parent wants the responsibility that comes with that normal act. Even if he takes his own food if you do not live, breath and think food allergies 24/7 then you have the massive risk of cross contamination. He has developed an imaginary friend ( fairly normal behaviour) but his friend bullys him because he is different, or because he cannot come and play, or because he cant eat chocolate.

You take your child out to eat in public places, whether that is a sausage roll from the local bakery when you are rushing round town to a nice family meal in a restaurant. Have you ever watched them in pizza hut or McD's where they go table to table with one cloth supposedly cleaning the tables? They are not they are cross contamination from one area to another!! Not just food but bugs and germs as well. No food outlet that we have found so far apart from ur local Frankie and Bennys can cater safely for his needs. At F&B's we take along Bobs own food and they cook it up and bring it out to him like every other normal person in there and boy oh boy does he feel special. (we cannot go in a bank holiday as they to busy but we live with that).

I know in my house my big worry is cross contamination in the fridge, we have normal milk and cheese for Grandad and Fifi, we have lactose free for me, and we have soya for Bob but it is hard to keep them separate. Must admit I just tend to open everything that is being used from scratch with him, cant risk the half a tin of sweetcorn may have had a splash of milk in it etc. Mummy has a separate fridge/freezer/cupboard for Bob in his own house, and I truly wish I could afford a separate fridge freezer for his stuff but  I can't.

Even something as "simple" as going on holiday means working out where the nearest A&E departments are, if there is not one within 10 miles then they dont go there.

So there you have it - the day to day struggle of a normal family with food allergies. Normal?? Well it is for us.

Project 366 #24

a few months back we found a measuring stick down the beach, one of these designed to fit on a wall and measure tide heights, so I measure the kids against it periodically, so as a matter of record here is Bob.
This starts 3 inches up so need to knock 3 inches off their height for a true measurement.

Taking the hair away he measures in at 35 inches, which at 5 years and 9 months is less than the 41 inches he should be according to height development charts, but this is all to do with his "failure to thrive" as a baby/toddler due to his food allergies and intolerances making him suffer with pain every time he did it, therefore he would not eat, the psychological damage runs deeper than the physical.

Bobs desperate to grow, and not succeeding.

Monday 23 January 2012

Project 366 #23

Bob was sitting tonight laughing at some strange green froggy puppety from thing on CBBC earlier, when this little boy starts laughing, you have to join in he just laughs and laughs and laughs.


TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday 21 January 2012

Project 366 #21

I work weekends, a hard physical job and my wee indulgence on an evening is a relax in a nice bubbly bath, and this time last year you would have got 3 bottles ( out of my 6 love Radox),  and it would have looked something like this.

But decided NO!! you have a new camera I said to myself, think about this and do something a bit different, so I took 47 differing shots experimenting with reflections, used the high ISO, close up, and smart capture just to see the differences, and I have decided that today I am going to present you with



Friday 20 January 2012

Update to “how do I help a struggling daughter?"

My daughter wanted to come in here and pop in an update - so here you have it. 

I wanted to post an update to mums post from earlier in the week, firstly to say thank you very much for all the kind comments, especially the virtual hugs, you can’t begin to appreciate how much they help.

Secondly, I wanted to post a general update.  Bob had all of his tests on Wednesday, and what a brave boy he was too, he didn’t utter a word of complaint, not even when the cannula was inserted (with no anaesthetic, as he is allergic to it!)  We shall hopefully get all of his results at the end of February, when we see the paediatrician next, when we will know where we stand and what the next step is.

At hospital, I managed to speak to Bob’s paediatrician quickly, and mentioned my concerns and worries, especially in regards to school.  He came up with a couple of suggestions, which I then took to the head teacher on Thursday morning, with the result that Bob will be starting back at school on Monday, on a part-time basis.  We are aiming for three mornings a week just now, with me supplementing that at home, to be reviewed regularly.  The head teacher is happy to support me in this, which is a huge weight off my mind – it will mean that he still gets the social aspect of school, but without his health being affected too drastically.

I feel a lot more positive now (it’s amazing the difference a few days, and a couple of good nights sleep, can make), there is really nothing more I can do until we get the test results in, which I am trying not to think about for the time being, or I’ll be bald by the time the appointment comes around!

Thanks again for all the helpful, kind comments, they really helped to lift me out of the cloud of gloom I found myself in earlier in the week, now to try to rearrange my carefully calculated week planner and study time for my OU course, to work round a whole new school timetable!

So there we have it, daughters feeling a bit more settled, sorted a few things out, obviously as any mother would be she was worried about Wednesday, but at the end of the day I'm still her mum - and you never stop worrying about your kids - no matter how big they get.  As my daughter says thanks everybody for your support and kind comments. 

As and when we get the results back we will keep you all updated.

Project 366 #20

Bought myself these yesterday and this one links in with Day 1

Thursday 19 January 2012

Project 366 #19

Some of the bargains I bought in the town the other day to put by for next time the kids are bored. at 25p each I could not resist them. Also bought wrapping paper (20p) and cards (25p for 15) really nice quality cards - just got to remember where I put them!!