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I hate being sick

23 Jul

Hannah went back to school this week, after having a three week between terms break. I don’t go back to university until next week.  Needless to say, I was looking forward to using my kid and uni free time to get lots of stuff done.  Like cleaning the bomb that is Aaron’s and my room.   I clean the rest of the house every week, but the bedroom doesn’t get that luxury.  The kids are bored by the time I finish the rest of the cleaning, so I just vacuum around the mess and that’s it.  Aaron and I are not the cleanest people either.  We both have a tendency to leave clothes around, and put stuff on the dresser with intentions to put it away later, only later never comes.

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I was also supposed to go to a Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security student get together on Sunday where we were all going to plant a bunch of native trees at the university’s river site.  I was really looking forward to it since I don’t really know anyone that well since I’m mostly an external student.  I haven’t even met a lot of the other people in my course.  There aren’t many of us, about 20-25 in total including first year and second year students.

But I’m sick.  I’ve been coughing for over a week now, but for the first 6 or so days, it was just that, a cough.  It sounded horrible, but I felt fine and went about my usual business, even running faster at the gym than I have in a long time.  Hannah has a cough too, and since I’m paranoid every time she has a cough, due to the time she had pneumonia, I called the home doctor service on Sunday.  My cough had turned into a deep, phlegmy type of cough that was getting harder and harder to break up, and leaving me short of breath when I did cough, so I had the doctor take a look at me too.  I love that there is a home doctor service for weekends and night time.

Turns out Hannah’s cough was just a normal she has a cold type cough, nothing to worry about unless she develops a fever, but mine is bronchitis.  By Sunday night, I had pretty much no energy, but didn’t feel too horrid.

Monday morning I took the kids to school and daycare and sat around all day trying to get better.

Tuesday morning I felt horrible.  In order to get the kids to school and daycare, I took two panadol.  Hannah said she wasn’t feeling well and stayed home too.  I’m still not too sure if she actually felt sick, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  I felt so bad yesterday afternoon that Aaron had to pick Daniel up when he got home from work.

And drop Hannah off this morning.  Oh, and now Aaron is sick too.  He describes the feeling very well: it’s like being blind drunk and you just have to lay down or you will fall over or pass out.  That is how we are both feeling right now.  Fevers, dizzy, aches, the whole thing.  His is a throat infection, that he finally found out about because I convinced him to go to the doctor after he dropped Hannah off this morning.  Lucky for us, no kids need to be dropped off anywhere tomorrow because I’m not sure that either one of us would be up for driving.

I hate being sick, I feel so useless.

I really feel for those who are chronically ill.  They are some tough cookies.

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Top 5 chemicals to avoid to sustain healthy, luscious hair

10 Jul

Before kids, I always had shiny hair. Maybe I do now too, but I don’t really know since it’s pretty much wash, then throw in a pony tail whilst still wet. Today’s guest post is all about shiny hair. I’d better take note….

Everyone wants beautiful, luscious and healthy hair, but no one seems to know that the products we use to keep our hair looking shiny are actually doing the complete opposite! Most products on the market these days are riddled with chemicals that set out to destroy your hair – this will make you think that you need the products more and subsequently creates an evil cycle of consumerism that in the end only destroys your crowning glory! To help you out, here are the top five chemicals you should be avoiding in order to keep your hair looking healthy, luscious and beautiful!

Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) is also known as sulphuric acid. SLS is not only found in heavy duty cleaning products, but in many brand name shampoos! Most commonly, SLS is found to dry out hair, which often leads to breakage! Something that is used to clean garage floors definitely should not be put in your hair to clean that too! Next time you’re buying shampoo, look out for SLS in the ingredients on the back.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is found in many hairsprays, gels and volumizers, as well as in antifreeze, shellac and wood finish. This product is used mainly to dissolve oils, which is great for things like shellac, but not so great for your hair. Since it dissolves oils, isopropyl alcohol strips the hair of its natural oils and moisture, leaving your hair victim to breakage!

Proplyene Glycol

This chemical is found in a terrifyingly large range of hair care products: shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hairsprays, hair dyes and much more! This product breaks down the proteins in healthy hair, giving it a false “shiny” appearance, but in reality is just causing your scalp to become itchy and irritated, and your hair weak and dry.

Mineral Oil

You’d think mineral oil would be good for your hair and would keep it shiny and healthy – but no! Mineral oil will just make your hair look greasy and unwashed! It will find its way into your pores which will block the natural oils from coming through and cause breakage in your hair. Unfortunately, many hair moisturisers contain this product, so be careful next time you’re looking for a new one – always check the ingredients!

Ammonia and Peroxide

This may seem obvious to most people, but constant hair salon go-ers need to understand that the ammonia and peroxide you are putting in your hair to change it’s colour are really damaging! The peroxide will dry out your hair and cause it to become brittle, and break really easily!

There you have it – five chemicals you must avoid if you want your hair to be as long and luscious as possible! If your hair is starting to thin, there’s always something you can do about it! Check out online sites like Transitions Hair to get your personalised hair loss treatment sorted – you’ll have a full head of hair again in no time. In the meantime though, keep avoiding those harsh chemicals!

*This post was brought to you by Transitions Hair.  All opinions and research are from of the guest writer.

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Safe exercise ideas for mums to be

26 Jun

When I was pregnant with Daniel, I exercised all the way until I was 37 weeks and my gym membership ran out. I spoke to my doctor first to make sure the things I was doing were safe for me and my unborn baby. There are definitely some exercises you shouldn’t do when pregnant, so today’s guest post contains some that most people can do when they have a bun in the oven. (it’s always important to speak to your doctor before embarking on an exercise journey whilst pregnant):

Exercise; for some people it’s a swear word, but for others it’s what gets them through life, and keeps them sane in a mad world. When it comes to pregnancy, exercise can be a good friend, because it can help to prevent complications such as pre-eclampsia. It is believed that it can also help with a shorter labour, which is every mother-to-be’s sweet dream. An active lifestyle during pregnancy can also assist with keeping the body in shape, and reducing back pain, constipation and fatigue. So when you think about it, exercising during pregnancy is really actually the only way to go, if you want to get the most out of the experience! Here are some safe exercise ideas for Mums-to-be.

Yoga

Yoga is probably the best exercise in the world, because it is so gentle, yet does so much for your body. Most yoga teachers have specific classes for people who are pregnant, where they will work specific muscles according to what the mother’s body needs at the time. Yoga truly is an amazing tool for keeping the body in optimal condition and there are poses for soothing any pain, or bodily concern – all you have to do is ask. Always communicate with the teacher about your concerns as they will be able to guide you. It is important to avoid laying on your back after 16 weeks as the weight of the baby presses on a main blood vessel. If the worry is about finding the right clothes to fit, check out this URL for some lovely maternity wear for Mums-to-be.

Walking

Walking is an excellent choice as it gets you out of the house, and out into the world. Often during the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy, the mother-to-be can experience bouts of depression, or other feelings and walking will help with getting a change of scene. Sitting in a house, worrying, and dwelling on the pregnancy and birth is not going to do anyone any favours so get out, get the blood moving and get some fresh air into your body.

Swimming

The great thing about swimming is that it is so low impact. Any exercise that you do in the water is supported, and it is the one place during pregnancy where you will be able to experience feeling weightless – which is a stark contrast to the heavy feeling of carrying the lump!

Me at 37 weeks pregnant with Hannah.  I used to do aqua aerobics during my first pregnancy.

Me at 37 weeks pregnant with Hannah. I used to do aqua aerobics during my first pregnancy.

Pilates

Pilates is awesome for strengthening and toning, but can be quite a lot of work if you are doing the regular class, so make sure you find a teacher who can tailor the class to your needs as a pregnant woman.

Exercise Bike

An indoor exercise bike will mean that you can still exercise will staying in the comfort of your home, which is definitely advantageous if you are getting to the later stages of the pregnancy.

It’s best to mix it up and vary the sorts of exercise that you do, as this will help to work all the different muscles. Half an hour of exercise a day is a decent amount for a pregnant woman, and this can be easily split into 3 ten minute sessions. Any activity counts, (even housework!) so it doesn’t have to be formal exercise to get the benefits of an active pregnancy.

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Daniel at the children’s hospital

22 Jun

1 week ago:

My eyes are slowly drifting open.  The sound of coughing, barking, or maybe some kind of machine failure fills my ears.  It takes me a little bit to wake up properly and realise scream crying and gaging noises are accompanying the strange noise.  Adrenaline rushes through me and I am wide awake with realisation that the noise is coming from Daniel.  As I get out of bed, I see that Aaron is not here.  He must be up with Daniel already. How long had I slept through his horrible sounding cough and crying?  I must have been in a deep sleep.  It’s only 10:30 and I’ve only been asleep for an hour.

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Daniel is coughing a so loudly and uncontrollably that he is gagging and throwing up a little.  It’s not a normal cough, but a strange sounding one, kind of like a dry bark.  His coughing is distressing him so much that he is also screaming and crying and Aaron is having a hard time comforting him.  He wants me to lay with him in his bed, but first I have to put his dinosaur sleeping bag in the wash, as there is mucous-y vomit all over it, making this only the second time in his entire life that he’s thrown up.

The crying stops when I lay down with him in his small junior sized bed.  Instead his every breath is audible and seems to be a struggle.

“I’m calling the doctor.” I tell Aaron.  The crying starts again as I exit the bed to get my phone.  I’m told there is a 5 hour wait for the after hours home doctor.

“You can call the medical advice line in the mean time.” The operator tells me.  I do it straight away.  I tell them about the horrible sounding cough, the laboured breathing, and the coughing so much he vomited.  I put my phone up to Daniel’s face, much to his displeasure, and let the doctor on the phone listen for herself.  He coughs while the phone is next to him.

“I suggest you take him to the emergency room, that sounds like a bad case of croup.”  She tells me.  I’ve called the medical advice line a few times before, and they’ve never told me to go to the hospital, so I know it’s not just a standard line they give everyone.

There is a general hospital about 3 minutes away, but there is also a children’s hospital about 25 minutes away.

“Ok Buddy, we’re going to take a little trip to the Children’s hospital.  I’ll get dressed and pack my iPad and stuff and then we’ll go.”

“Can I come too?” Hannah asks.

“No sweetie, it’s night time and you have school tomorrow, you need to sleep.”

“I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL!!!!!”  Daniel is upset and crying again.

“It’s ok Daniel, the Children’s hospital is really fun!” I hear Hannah telling him while I get ready to go.  “There are toys there, and it’s only for kids!  There is a playground, and they are really nice, and it’s so much fun.  You’ll love it there.  Don’t be scared Daniel, it’s good there.  I wish I was going.”

Hannah’s kind words calm him down and his screaming is replaced by excitement.  I’m not sure why she loves it so much.  The only time she went she had pneumonia and pretty much laid in my lap the whole time.  She played on the playground for about 2 minutes, but that was it.  But I suppose that experience was much better than the time she went to the local general hospital when she was under 2, had a 40 degree (104) fever and refused to drink anything.  I took her to the doctor who told me to take her straight to the hospital.  She was admitted for the night as she was so feverish and dehydrated.  They tried at least 3 times to get a cannula in, but failed every time.  They never did end up getting one in so that she could get the fluids so so desperately needed.  They also needed to check her for a UTI, to see if that was the cause of infection, which entailed 3 doctors holding her down on a bed as she screamed the most horrible, heart breaking scream I’ve ever heard in my life while another doctor shoved a small catheter tube inside her.

Again, they failed.  While I held her hand and tried my best to avoid crying so that I didn’t upset her even more, they held her down and did the whole thing again, failing for second time.  They couldn’t get the cannula in, and they couldn’t get the catheter in, but despite not actually being able to do anything for us, they made us stay all night.  I was about 37 weeks pregnant at the time but Hannah was too terrified by that stage to sleep in the hospital bed all by herself, so both of us slept in her bed together.  She took ages to fall asleep after all her trauma and when she finally did, they shoved a thermometer under her arm, waking her up, as they did every hour.  Haven’t they ever heard of an ear thermometer that won’t wake sick kids up all the time?  It was horrible.  Needless to say, I now drive the extra 20 something minutes to the children’s hospital.

I bundle Daniel up and put him in his car seat after warming up the car so it’s not too cold inside.

Since the kids go to bed at 6:30pm, they don’t often get to ride in the car in the dark.  I thought Daniel might fall asleep on the way, but instead he is looking at all the lights, cars, buses, and trucks.  “Mommy, I see, a truck!!”  He tells me with excitement.  The car ride seems to be calming him down, but I can still hear his loud breathing.

“Look, there’s Wet ‘n’ Wild!”  I say as we pass the giant water slides.  For some reason, all the lights on the slides and stairs are on, even though it’s the off season and it hasn’t been open for two months, not to mention it’s now 11 something at night.  I wonder how much money they waste on electricity?

After parking at the hospital, a triage nurse greets us straight away to assess Daniel.  He hasn’t coughed much in the car, but he sneezes in front of her, which also has the trademark croupy bark noise.

“Yeah, that sounds like croup.”  She tells me.  She gives me a number with an A in front of it and tells me that I will be next because no one else in the waiting room has an A ticket.

Sure enough, he is seen about 20 seconds later.  Although croup is a caused by a viral infection, and antibiotics don’t help, oral steroids are given to open up his airways.  “We will check him again in one hour to make sure the medicine worked, and then, if he is doing well, you should be able to go home.”  She gives me a pamphlet about croup before we go to the waiting room for an hour.

Croup is more common at night, when it’s cold, and is often sudden, like it was with Daniel.  Hannah had croup a couple of months ago, but hers wasn’t nearly as bad as Daniel’s.

Daniel lays on me in a comfy plush chair (not like the chairs of our local ER) and tries to get comfortable for a nap.  There are too many other people around though, and he is distracted.  He really wants to lay down properly, but the chairs aren’t big enough.

I spot a long soft bench seat in the overflow part of the waiting room where the TV and wall toys are and carry him over.  No one else is in there.  He lays there for about 10 seconds before deciding that it’s play time, followed by iPad time.  Oh well, at least he’s happy, and I can keep myself awake watching the weird movie about a kid with leaves growing on his ankle that is playing on the TV attached to the wall.

After an hour, they call him again, check his vitals, and then tell us we can go home if we see our usual doctor tomorrow.  The steroids have done their job and there is no more laboured breathing or coughing.

When we get home, I sleep on the couch with him for the rest of the night, and I keep him home from daycare, since he has a virus and I expect him to be very tired and lethargic all day.

I am wrong.  He is not tired, and doesn’t seem sick at all.  Instead, he spends the day running around the house and jumping off the couch whilst I attempt to study for my chemistry final.  The doctor says he can go to daycare tomorrow and to expect a bad night again.

We put a heater in the kids’ room as cold air negatively affects croup, but we still expect some coughing and waking.  Luckily though, it never comes. They both sleep all night, and past their usual 6am wake up.

If your child has ever had croup. you know how scary it is.  That cough is like no cough you’ve ever heard before, and the laboured breathing is enough to send us parents running with our kids to the ER.  Although death from croup is rare, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.  And perhaps it’s rare because so many of us seek immediate medical attention for it.  I’m just glad that he is fine now.

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Daniel asleep on the couch few days later, after lack of sleep caught up to him

Daniel asleep on the couch few days later, after the lack of sleep caught up to him

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Eco warrior

29 May

I’ve always liked gardening.  Maybe it’s because we didn’t have much money when I was little.  Fancy toys were out of the question, but outside of our mobile home/trailer, we had a large yard and  a horse pasture, so when it wasn’t pouring down rain, I spent most of my time outside.  Even though I refused to eat vegetables when I was little because I was the most annoying, fussiest eater on the planet, watching them grow was amazing.  Once I spent an entire day pulling all the long grass out of the ground in front of the barn and then planted flower seeds.  I was only about 7 or 8 at the time, and it was the very first garden that was all my own.

Down the road there was a big wooden windmill next to a house.  Even though I knew nothing about sustainability or eco-friendly practices back then, I always thought it was really neat that  the family living there used wind to get electricity.

Fast forward many years,  go half way around the world, and now I’m very passionate about sustainability and being eco-friendly.  I am doing a degree in sustainable agriculture and food security, after all.  But it didn’t happen all at once.  I’m not even sure when it started happening.  Maybe when I lived on my own for the very first time at the age of 19 or 20.  I rented the 2 bedroom granny flat across the street from where Aaron and Jess lived with their Mum and Grandma.  The lovely family I rented from said I could do whatever I wanted with the little garden next to the house.  I planted tomato plants that ended up being taller than me, lemongrass, cucumber, and I can’t remember what else.

How eco-friendly is your house?

I started cleaning the little house with vinegar, baking soda, and eucalyptus oil.  Not because I knew it was eco-friendly, but because I lived on my own, only made $400 a week, and was saving for my wedding and honeymoon.  Cleaning with such things was way cheaper than using nose curling store bought sprays, but they work just as well.  I still clean that way, but now I do it for the environment and my family’s health.

Now that we have our own house, I would love to plant every square inch of the front lawn (if you can call it that, it’s more like the front bindii infestation) with vegetables, fruit, herbs, and all things edible, but Aaron is not so down with the edible landscaping movement.  Instead, I have an edible garden around the perimeter of the back yard (leaving enough room for the kids to play), which, at the moment, is growing peas, beans, grapefruit, purple broccoli, cauliflower, four kinds of lettuce, two kinds of spinach, kale, asian greens, spring onions, basil, perennial basil, sage, thyme, blue borage, nasturtium, and marigolds. I’ve also started to infiltrate some edibles amongst the decorative plants in the garden under our front window, including a dwarf red banana plant, a red chilli plant, chocolate mint, peanuts, strawberries, chives, oregano, coriander, native finger lime (in a pot), rosemary, and a macadamia tree (in a pot).  It’s amazing how many things you can plant in a small space.

Growing some of your own food not only teaches your kids about where food comes from (some kids these days don’t realise that milk comes from cows!), but it also saves money (which is a huge plus if you’re a cash strapped parent.  Kids are expensive…), and encourages kids to eat more healthily.  Hannah and Daniel love eating veggies from the garden.  Before we started growing our own, Hannah wouldn’t touch veggies.  Plus, if you grow your own, you know exactly what they’ve been fertilised with, and what hasn’t been sprayed on them. You know your food won’t be laced with synthetic, bad for the environment, eco unfriendly herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers, or genetically modified material.

Instead,  I have a worm farm. The kids love looking at the wiggly worms, and they eat all my veggie scraps.  Then I use their castings and diluted pee (worm “tea” if you want to be polite about it) to fertilise the garden.

I also have a bokashi bucket, which is an anaerobic digester that can take any kind of food, even stuff like chicken carcasses, and all the other food that the worms can’t have, and the compost heap won’t like.  My local council is very into sustainability as well and has a special bin for food scraps and yard waste.  When my bokashi bucket is full, I can put all the scraps in my green bin and they will be taken away to be made into compost in a giant anaerobic digester.

One of the best things the eco and budget conscious Australians can do is take advantage of the sun and get solar panels and/or a solar hot water system.  The sun shines a lot down under (according to the world wide web, Sydney has around 236 days of sun or partial sun per year, way more than my hometown, near Seattle, which gets around 201 cloudy days per year), so we live in the perfect place to harness it’s green, non-polluting power that has the added benefit of slashing electricity bills.  Yes, there is the initial outlay, but the panels will pay for themselves after a while. How many panels do you need? How much does it cost? How does it work?  Australian solar quotes can answer all these questions and more.

wind-and-solar-environment1

One day we also want to install a rainwater tank.  Fresh water is a precious resource, especially as the population increases and ground water can be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, agricultural runoff, landfills leaching toxic chemicals into aquifers, etc.

Maybe my sustainable/eco friendly ways started because I’m cheap, but it’s so much more than that now. For the sake of our kids and our kids’ kids, we all need to at least start thinking about sustainability and being eco-friendly so that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch doesn’t keep increasing in size.  So that our fresh water supplies stop getting contaminated.  So that we lower our greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming.

*This post was in partnership with Australian Solar Quotes.

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Something I’m passionate about

17 May

We’re back!!!  The cruise was fun, but it will take me a while to go through all the photos and pick out all the ones I want to post with our cruising story.

In the meantime, I’ve submitted two images to Canon’s Shine competition.  This isn’t a normal photo competition with cash or stuff prizes.  This competition is about subject matter: shining a light on what is important.  The winner gets a national advertising campaign about their image and why it’s important, a display in the NSW state library, and best of all, a documentary about the image and the issue.

My images are about sustainable agriculture.  And by sustainable, I’m not talking about GM and seed company giants.  If we want our future generations to have plenty of healthy, natural food to eat, we need to do something now.

Please click here to be directed to my images (the first one will show up and if you click the white arrow in the right hand side of the page, it will take you to my second image).  The first one is of Hannah holding a giant zucchini.  She’s so cute.  You can only vote once per image, but you do need to sign up to Canon’s website to do so.  Just don’t tick the newsletter box and they won’t spam your inbox.  You don’t have to live in Aus to vote.  So please, PLEASE vote.  Voting numbers are low for all images, so even one vote makes a huge difference. This isn’t about winning, it’s about the future of our children and grandchildren.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!
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Veggie garden

28 Jan

Aaron has been busy making me a garden in the backyard.  We don’t have a big yard, but I still want to be able to plant vegetables/fruit/herbs.  We also want to have room for the kids to run around and play.  So Aaron made me a garden bed that takes minimal space, but is still enough for me to plant a few things:

The garden bed is almost finished.

The garden bed is almost finished. A shed will eventually go on top of the cement tiles in the top left corner.  There is a water access point that can’t be covered or blocked, between the future shed and edge of the garden, otherwise we had planned to have the garden go all the way to the fence. A potted plant will go between the shed and the garden so there isn’t a bare patch.

Aaron has been building the garden bed in stages since it took a whole lot of digging, followed by bricking.  There will be one more row of bricks on top of the ones that are sunken in the ground, and then it will be all finished.  Oh, and I’m going to nail boards across the beams that hold up the clothesline so that heavy things like pumpkins can grow up instead of out.

This is the first section of garden that Aaron made.  I planted two types of heirloom beans, heirloom corn, and a marigold (helps keep pests away).  In the corner in the pot is a grapefruit tree, surrounded by thyme, oregano, and mizuna.  In the next pot is a macadamia tree (which needs a bigger pot and will be moved to the front since one macadamia can kill a 10kg dog) surrounded by rosemary, and next to that is my stevia plant, which also won’t actually stay there.

My heirloom beans are thriving.  Behind them is a row of corn, which is also thriving, and there is a marigold in front of them.

My heirloom beans are thriving. Behind them is a row of corn, which is also thriving, and there is a marigold in front of them, and it’s mulched with sugarcane.

I love growing my own food.  I know what has been put on it (nothing), that it’s not GMO, it’s fun, and best of all, the kids love helping in the garden and eating straight from the plants.  It’s good for kids to know how plants grow and see it happen right in front of them.

Vegetable gardening isn’t as easy as popping some seeds in the ground and then reaping the rewards though.  Different plants like different conditions, different soils etc. Some fix nitrogen, some don’t.  Some plants don’t prosper when planted near other kinds of plants.  Some plants make other plants taste better and/or grow better.  Some plants attract beneficial insects, others repel bad insects.  They have to be planted at different depths and with different spacings. You could spend a whole lifetime learning about gardening.

But to make it easy, there’s the UrbMat.  The UrbMat has holes the correct distance from each other, close enough to maximise space, but far enough apart so that the 10 different edible plants grow properly.  Weeds are suppressed under the mat.  The types of plants have been carefully chosen and placed for compatibility and even pest control plants are included.   So you don’t have to stand outside for ages watering everything, there is even an inbuilt irrigation system.  The UrbMat shows you what to plant where, making it great for beginning gardeners and kids.  Best of all though, for every UrbMat sold, two meals are donated to kids in need.

The UrbMat. Making gardening easy.

The UrbMat. Making gardening easy.

As a Mommy Adventures reader, you get 15% off by entering the code MOMMYADVENTURE at checkout.  To buy your very own UrbMat, click here.

More about the UrbMat

More about the UrbMat

The UrbMat in action

The UrbMat in action

UrbMatinpost

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Hannah eats

17 Jan

Every year, on Boxing Day, we go to our friend’s house with some other friends and enjoy a nice dinner together to celebrate Christmas.  This year, my friend’s brother was visiting from overseas, so he was there too. He also happens to be a child psychologist who specialises in getting kids to eat.

Needless to say, I told him about Hannah’s fussy eating, how we get her to try stuff with a rewards chart, and how she only ever tries a tiny bite and that’s it, etc. etc.

And then, he blew our minds.

He told us a couple strategies to get Hannah eating.  We picked the one that sounded most likely to work best with her, asked him a million questions about it, and then went for it, knowing that at first, it would be really hard and no matter how many tears were shed, we couldn’t give in.  I don’t know what age range this strategy is suitable for, but Hannah is 4, and it has worked wonders for her.

Every night (we only do this at dinner time), we give her two options on her plate.  She has to eat all of one of them.  There is also a third thing on her plate that she likes.  She can eat it if she wants, but doesn’t have to.  It’s just there to make sure she has enough to eat.

At first, the amount of food in the “have to eat it” all pile is not very much, and the amount in the “already likes it” pile is substantial.  Gradually, the amount in the “has to eat it” pile increases as the “already likes it” pile decreases.

The child feels like they have a lot of control because he/she gets to choose which option they eat all of, and the adult knows that no matter which option he/she chooses, it’s healthy and means progress has been made.  We have been doing two options that the rest of us have on our plates anyway.  For example, some of the chicken or fish or whatever will be one option, and then the salad or veggies the other (you’d be amazed at how many different veggies and different cooking methods there are.  It isn’t the same thing every night).

The first night, we started Hannah off pretty easy as one of the options was peas, corn, and carrots.  She likes peas, corn, and carrots, but only if they are straight from the freezer.  These ones were cooked.  I can’t remember what the other option was, but she chose the cooked vegetables.

Here is the catch:  She can’t get down from the table until she eats all of one of her two options.  If she’s still sitting at the table when bed time comes, she has to go straight to bed. No playing, no TV, etc.  It’s sit there for an hour and a half not eating, or eat and get down and play with us.

On that very first night, Daniel finished his food, so he got down and played with Aaron while I sat at the table supervising Hannah.  We told her that she couldn’t get down until one of her options was eaten.  After everyone else was finished, I didn’t talk to her, or interact with her, I just sat there next to her. It’s not supposed to be an extra attention thing.  As she screamed next to me while I read a magazine, I could see her slowly eating the veggies between screams out of the corner of my eye.  I continued to ignore her and read my magazine.

Though screaming and crying, she finished those vegetables with about 20 minutes to spare before bed time.  We made sure to do something fun, all together, just because we had time to before bed.

The second night, one of her options was roasted vegetables (capsicum, mushrooms, tomatoes, and zucchini, also with roasted feta cheese), or salmon.  She sat there until bed time, crying, screaming, saying it wasn’t fair, etc. etc.  Aaron and I took turns sitting next to her, but not engaging with her, just reading or doing our own thing.  It was so incredibly hard, but we knew we had to do it for her own good.  We had to be strong and not cave in. When bed time rolled around, we quickly got her ready for bed at the table, and then she went straight to bed.

She has eaten all of one of her options every night since then, mostly with no tears or fuss.  Last night she told Aaron not to talk to her so she could just eat her food and get it done, while Daniel and I were still at the table eating, (and having family conversations to make dinner a fun family time).  She now loves salad and most vegetables.  One night, we had chicken burgers and one of her options was 1/4 of one.  I’m not just talking about the patty either, I mean the patty, the wholegrain bun, the tomatoes, the avocado, the lettuce, the onion, the mushroom, and the cheese.  She ate the whole thing, which for her, is pretty much a miracle.

Usually, she sticks to the vegetable option so we put heaps of vegetables for that choice (and if we have them, nuts and/or seeds), and for the second option, a little bit, maybe a couple of mouthfuls of chicken/fish/pork whatever protein we’re having, cooked however I cooked it and with whatever marinades/sauces/etc. for the rest of us.  She still usually goes for the vegetables, but recently, she has been trying the other option just to try it. I’m happy if she fills herself with vegetables that are full of nutrients, and I’m happy if she tries some meat, so it’s a win win, no matter which option she chooses.

Hannah helped me make the salad, and added more to her plate than I had on there for her because "she really likes it" now.  It has: lettuce (home grown), tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, pea sprouts, grated carrot, and olive oil.  On the right is a piece of home made chicken meat loaf, and the thing she can eat if she wants that she already likes is mashed potato.

Hannah helped me make the salad, and added more to her plate than I had on there for her because “she really likes it” now. It has: lettuce (home grown), tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, pea sprouts, grated carrot, and olive oil. On the right is a piece of home made chicken meat loaf, and the thing she can eat if she wants that she already likes is mashed potato.

Every night she tells us that she is going to eat her dinner really fast so we have time to do something fun.  Sometimes we go for a walk to the park, sometimes we play a game, or play in the sprinkler outside, but we always do something fun together after dinner. Not as a reward for eating, but because we have the time.

I’m still flabbergasted by the whole thing, I can’t believe how well it has worked.  She hasn’t been traumatised by it, and actually seems to have more confidence now, and more interest in helping me cook.  She keeps telling us how good she is at eating now, with a huge smile on her face, and she no longer dreads dinner time.  Mind. Blown.

You can follow our progress on Instagram #hannaheats (user name sherismommyadventures), where I post a photo of her food and which option she chose every night.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!

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Is the USDA subsidising obesity?

8 Dec

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), 69.2% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese.  12.1% of 2-5 year olds, 18% of 6-11 year olds, and 18.4% of 12-19 year olds are overweight.  To me, those seem like astoundingly high numbers, especially the fact that 12.1% of 2-5 year olds are over weight.  12.5%.  I know there are lots of body love campaigns out there right now, designed to lift the self esteem of overweight men and women around the globe, but looks are not the issue here.  The issue is that being overweight and/or obese causes heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, high cholesterol, infertility, and even cancer.  It’s estimated that obesity in the United States costs 147 – 210 BILLION dollars each year.

For decades, low fat products graced (and still do) the shelves of American supermarkets.  You can pretty much get anything in a low fat version over there, and low fat diets were/are recommended for people in general, but especially for heart attack and cardiovascular disease patients.  There’s even low fat peanut butter.  A quick check of the label reveals a huge part of the problem that a lot of people wouldn’t even think twice about: sugar. Low fat peanut butter may have had some fat taken out, but the fat was replaced by sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, there are fats that are very unhealthy, and going through that McDonald’s drive through isn’t going to do your health any favours, but there are also fats that, despite being fat, do not elevate cholesterol levels or give us all sorts of medical problems.  They actually promote cardiovascular health, and health in general.  Good fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil, salmon, etc.) should have a regular place in our diets, and we will be healthier for it.  Just look at the Mediterraneans – their diet is rich in good fats, yet they enjoy much lower rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and diabetes.  Studies from around the world show that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest.

image courtesy of Oldways (click to read about the Mediterranean diet)

image courtesy of Oldways (click to read about the Mediterranean diet)

All of these low fat products compensate for the loss of fat, which equates to loss of flavour, by other means, usually with sugar or  high fructose corn syrup.   Not only is fat being replaced by high fructose corn syrup, but heaps of other products such as cookies, other baked goods, yogurt, jams, granola bars, and pretty much anything else you can think of that is packaged, contains high fructose corn syrup.  One of the biggest culprits though, is soda, and other beverages, which generally contain around 16 teaspoons of sugar or high fructose corn syrup PER CAN.  Adult women should be getting no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and adult men no more than 9 teaspoons.  Sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup are linked to obesity, diabetes, and many other health problems. Recently, a lot of the high fructose corn syrup in soda is being replaced by sugar, which, in the U.S., is generally from genetically modified sugar beets.

In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture spent $2,702,462,268 on corn subsidies (the most subsidised crop in the U.S.), which means the USDA paid farmers to plant corn.  The very corn that is used to make high fructose corn syrup, which is added to so many unhealthy, waist expanding food products.  Not only that, but   85% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2012 was genetically modified corn, and that percentage is going up all the time.

Only 4.7% (around 511 million bushels) of the total U.S. corn crop is used to make high fructose corn syrup, but the news isn’t good for the rest of the corn crop either.  The majority of corn is used as livestock feed.  That doesn’t sound so bad, but non-industry funded studies have shown that rats fed GM corn had an increased incidence of tumours, early death, and kidney and liver problems, just to name a few.

Rats with tumours after being fed GM corn (max 11%) and/or water laced with roundup (under the legal limit allowed in the water supply)

Rats with tumours after being fed GM corn (max 11%) and/or water laced with roundup (under the legal limit allowed in the water supply)

One biotech company, Syngenta, was even criminally charged when a German farmer’s herd of cattle fell critically ill after consuming a diet consisting solely of genetically modified Bt corn. Syngenta paid the farmer $40,000 compensation.

Livestock are fed corn because it fattens them up faster than their natural grass diet, which makes them able to be slaughtered earlier, but yields much fattier (saturated fat) meat, thus contributing to obesity considering U.S.Aliens eat the second highest amount of beef per person in whole world. Grass fed beef is higher in vitamin E, omega-3, and has 1/2 – 1/3 less fat than grain fed beef.

Me pretending to eat GM corn in Minnesota

Me pretending to eat GM corn in Minnesota. Photo by John Beath.

It’s not just corn though.  I said before that sugar in the U.S. primarily comes from sugar beets.  They too are included in the farmer subsidy program, with 95% being the genetically modified variety.  The resulting processed sugar is used in all sorts of packaged goods, from yogurt to cookies to soft drinks.  Excess sugar has been shown to contribute to obesity, diabetes and a plethora of other health problems and added sugar is lurking in all sorts of foods you wouldn’t expect.

The packaged goods on your supermarket shelves containing added sugar are mostly from huge multinational corporations with many different brand names under their umbrellas that make gigantic sums of money annually.  Take Nestle for example; brands owned by Nestle include: Gerber, Maggi, Hot Pockets, Herta, Stouffers, Dreyers, Lean Cuisine, Jenny Craig, and of course all the confectionary and coffee that clearly say Nestle above the name of the bar or blend.  In 2012, Nestle made 11.55 BILLION dollars in profit.

Or how about Coca Cola, who also makes billions in profit each year, and not only makes Coca Cola, but owns or partially owns 500 other brands in countries all around the world, such as, Odwalla, Dannon, Powerade, and Vitamin Water.

So the USDA pays farmers to plant corn and sugar beets, that are then bought cheaply by billionaire corporations to make packaged and bottled goods that in turn contribute to obesity and diabetes.  Why is the U.S. subsidising unhealthy foods for billionaire corporations?

Not to mention, since the USDA is subsidising corn and sugar beets, both of which are mostly genetically modified, doesn’t that also mean that the U.S. government is indirectly funding huge bio tech corporations like Monsanto (who, by the way, made 2.94 billion dollars in 2012)?

*Sources below vote banner

*I am not saying to eliminate all forms of sugar from your diet.  Fruit contains natural fructose, honey contains both fructose and glucose, and both honey and whole fruits are incredibly good for you and should definitely have a place in your diet.  I am strictly talking about added refined sugars in this article.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS! Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory Like my blog? ‘Like’ it on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mommy-Adventures/203964682967827?ref=tn_tnmn Pin It You officially have my permission to pin this (as long as it links back to my site).  Just don’t act like you wrote it. Because you didn’t…. Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson

SOURCES (In no order and most are not Harvard referenced because that takes too long and this is not a university assignment.  Where I could, I’ve just provided links as that’s easier for you to find, but some are from databases that you have to pay for and you won’t have access to, in which case I have properly referenced them)

CDC http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm

http://www.mediweightlossclinics.com/patients/resources/articles/obesity-facts/

http://newsroom.heart.org/news/leaders-from-cities-states-with-declining-childhood-obesity-rates-share-strategies-for-success

http://oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview

http://www.nestle.com/brands

http://www.cspinet.org/new/201302131.html

http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=sugarbeet

Bocarsly, M, Powell, E, Avena, N & Hoebel 2010, ‘High fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: increased body weight, body fat, and triglyceride levels,’ Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behaviour, vol. 97, no. 1, pp. 101-106.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32543288/#.Un_ZQ5QpZgI

http://news.yahoo.com/nestle-makes-11-55-billion-profit-2012-062612714–finance.html

http://www.card.iastate.edu/iowa_ag_review/fall_01/concentration.aspx

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx#.Un_b9pQpZgI

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/sugar-sweeteners/background.aspx#.UpEE-pQpZgI

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/corn/background.aspx#.UpEFCZQpZgI

Séralini, G.E., Clair, E, Mesnage, R, Gress, S, Defarge, N, Malatesta, M, Hennequin, D, & Spiroux de Vendomois, J 2012, ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,’ Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 50, no. 11, pp. 4221-4231, viewed 25 April 2013, Science Direct, DOI 10.1016/j.fct.2012.08.005

Belvoir media group 2012, ‘Cut back on added sugar, especially in beverages, to protect your health: many drinks and healthy sounding foods contain excess sugar that is linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease,’ Women’s Health Advisor, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 6.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Syngenta_Charged_for_Covering_Up_Livestock_Deaths_from_GM_Corn.php

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1238.pdf

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/know.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/06/27/155527365/visualizing-a-nation-of-meat-eaters

http://www.monsanto.com/investors/Pages/quarterly-earnings.aspx

http://www.alternet.org/food/monsantos-earnings-nearly-double-they-create-farming-monopoly

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/all/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Coca-Cola_brands

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/press-center/press-releases/the-coca-cola-company-reports-full-year-and-fourth-quarter-2012-results

If you are interested in the entire corn process, from planting to subsidy to high fructose corn syrup, I highly recommend watching this documentary:

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