Wednesday, 28 September 2016

taking care of your little monster's pearly whites

My little monster got his first tooth (teeth really- 2 came in at the same time) at 4 months and then quickly popped out 5 more before 9 months- he's now on his 8th!! Obviously I started to research how to keep those little nibblers health. I learnt that these first teeth are not only important for chewing and talking, but they also preserve the spacing for the permanent ones and allow for proper jaw bone and muscle development - amazing! 

Okay, so how, what and when to properly care for these pearly whites!?!  

I read that most infants foods easily wash off their teeth with a little drink of water after meals, but that it's a good idea to introduce a toothbrush as soon as possible, so baby can get used to having it in his mouth. This made me laugh, as my baby (like most) loves putting long pointy objects in his mouth already and there is no need to get him "used" to anything. But none the less, I thought I’d be a good parent and got suckered into buying a teething ring like toothbrush, which my little monster never used on his own and never let me go near his mouth with, let alone “brush” his teeth with it- money not well spent!

Photo credit: Dollface Photos/Moment/Getty Images
The advise on the internet got even more laughable when stating: You probably won't need to use the brush to actually clean baby's teeth until he's eating only table foods (around 18 months), but you will need to gently clean your child's teeth with a toothbrush and some bicarbonate of soda if they have eaten sticky, sugary foods. Okay- most of you know I’m a hippy about nutrition and hygiene, so my 9 month old won’t be getting much (if any) sticky, sugary foods. If he’s not having these sticky, sugary foods, does that mean no need to “brush” these cute pearly whites(?) Probable not, but I won’t be introducing a toothbrush to him so he get’s used to having it in his mouth (LOL, again). 

My little monster chews on EVERYTHING, so I’m guessing he’s giving those pearly whites a good clean all day. But I’ll be a good parent and introduce a “brushing” routine into our bed time schedule! I've now got him a long pointy baby/kids toothbrush and I'm sure he'll scream down the house when I take it way from him, until he's old enough to NOT want to brush his teeth ;)

I was pleased at least most of the advise recommends only brushing with bicarbonate of soda or a pea-size amount of non-fluoride toothpaste until your baby is old enough not to swallow the toothpaste. We switched to a fluoride free toothpaste a few years ago & have a filter that gets ride of it in our drinking water. While I'm not going to get involved in a great fluoride debate, here's the basics of why we dramatically dropped it from lives and we’ll do our best to keep it out of our baby’s body:

Firstly, while I'm sure fluoride does help to prevent tooth decay, I believe that our clean way of eating mitigates the same risk factors that fluoride is supposed to treat. Secondly (and probably the main reason) is the fact that fluoride is a drug. Many of us are grateful for the targeted cure drugs give us and forget (or don't know about) the endocrine disrupting factors that those drugs can have throughout the body (I know I thought this way for most of my life). When we use fluoride (in toothpaste or in our water) for dental health, it can also have a negative effect on other areas of our bodies including bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels (Fluoride Action Network, National Research Council Findings 2006). For a more in-depth article about fluoride check out Fluoride: Natural Cavity Prevention or Hazardous Chemical Waste?

I must say my husband struggled with the loss of “mintyness” when we changed to a fluoride free toothpaste, 
so I was happy to discover GRIN’s 100% Natural toothpaste in Cool Mint 
and when our little monster starts to use toothpaste, he'll be using GRIN’s 100% Natural Kids toothpaste
You can get a tube of GRIN's 100% Natural Toothpaste from Functional Self

 Please remember that this is simply my story and what I have gone through. These are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. I am open to change, challenges and new scientific developments. What works for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor and all medical advice, should be gotten from a qualified professional. If you feel like your doctor isn't reading from the same nutrition and lifestyle book as you are (or want to be), go find one that is! 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Felt Map of the World Christmas Advent Calendar

When I was growing up we had an advent calendar, in which you moved a bear throughout his house, looking for Christmas.  It was a simple & yet affective enough, that I still vividly remember it to this day. My brother had kids first, so my niece and nephew are the new proud owners of “A Beary Merry Christmas”.
This is actually selling online for up to $300!!
When I got pregnant with our first child, I wanted to create an advent calendar that he could grow up with, just like I did. My first thought was to recreate the bear in the house, but I wanted to make something that would change & grow throughout the years. (I don't exactly remember how old I was, but I'm sure I lost interest in that bear in the house in my pre-teens.) We’re a multi-country family and love travelling, so I thought I would create a map of the world.

We could now fly around the world looking for Christmas, exploring & discovering different animals, people & places. This also allows me to change what we look for and where we go each year, making it stage and interest appropriate for our little monster!

So here's how I made it.....  
You need to cut out your entire felt map beforehand- so you know how big to make your backing & board. My map was pieced together by downloading pictures of different parts of the world, sizing them on word, printing them out and then using that as a stencil for the felt. Now, I haven't made a stencil of my world map for you to print out- Sorry!
But as you can see my world map looks a little crazy- New Zealand, for one is NOT that big and Africa has a very funny top half. This happened because I wanted to make more relevant (to our family) places bigger. America would have been a lot bigger (because that’s where I’m from), but it would have had a big impact on all of North and South America. New Zealand is SO big, because that’s where my husband is from and UK got a boost too, because that's where we live.  I wanted Europe to be bigger, therefore Africa has a funny top! Africa at least had to look like it was touching Israel and be close to Spain............. RIGHT you get the picture, it’s a big higgly piggly made up map!! I totally recommend you make a map that suites your family, even if it’s just a big map of your country to explore! If you do want an easy already made up printable map of the world, you can get it for free from Imagine Our Life

Now you have your map cut out, you can size up your backing & boarder (make sure your boarder has enough room for the size of your pockets you'll be using). I just used what I had in the house, so I had to be inventive with my ocean- yes those are waves drawn on (insert crying laughing emoji). Anyways, you need to sew your boarder onto your backing (aka the ocean). Once this is done, you can sew your 25 days of pockets on.

For my pockets I bought a fabric advent calendar panel and used the already made squares (my 25th day is the Snowflake):
1&2: Cut each pocket out individually and iron the 3 side towards the middle on the back of the pocket to get a nice crease.
3: Place & pin ALL your pockets along your boarders – use a tape measure to get them all as evenly spaced as possible.
4: Sew along the bottom crease the pocket first – this will give you a nice seamless bottom to you pocket.
5: Then sew up both sides.

Because my advent calendar was so big I decided to add an inner cotton lining (to the WHOLE thing) to give it some support- extra stiffness really! I pinned the heck out of it and then sewed along the seams of the boarder to keep it in place.

Now it’s time to pin you map on. I suggest pinning the whole thing on before you start hand sewing (that’s right - hand sewing) any of it on- just so you for sure know where all the pieces go. Place a needlepoint hoop on the place you want to start and stitch away. I took of piece of the map as needed, but mostly left it on- totally got poked a few times!!) I used matching thread around my countries, but I think it would look cool to with contrasting thread too.
Once you have your whole map sewed on, you need to finish it off with a colourful backing and a cuff. Do this by sewing around the sides and bottom of your advent calendar- leaving the top open. (Remember to put your two sides front to front, so you get a nice smooth seam.) Next fold over and iron down a nice clean seam for your cuff- pin it down and then sew along the bottom of it- leaving both sides open, allowing you to insert a poll or rod for hanging.  

Now it’s time to start making animals & landmarks for your little monster to explore with - Imagine Our Life has a great (again free) selection to get you started! I used her Animals of the Ocean for a few of the days and going to make some Polaroid Pics of our families. Nothings off limit here- you can create anything and everything- My BuSY bOOks Pinterest board is full of ideas and I’ll keep you posted on our Facebook page of all new creations!!
Polaroid Ornaments - Dinosaurs
I'm so excited to explore and play with our little monster and the HUGE Map of the World Advent Calendar - now when I say huge, I’m mean so big that I’m really struggling to figure out how to hanging it and where to put it!!

Checkout more of our Free Felt Patterns:

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Infertility to Mother - The Pregnancy

How I became a modern day Hippie or something close to it- The Pregnancy
Being a Hippeo is a never ending journey. The moment you think you've made it, you soon realize you have a long way to go. This couldn't be truer at the moment for me.  I'm now 10 months into my New Year’s resolution and I've fallen sort on my promise to give you more of me and have battled to keep up my new way of thinking and living.

There are definitely two types of people in the “infertility was a part of my life, but now I’m pregnant” world - those who talk about it and those that don't. And even though I've been really honest and open through the years, I found myself being much more quite about the whole thing. I totally became a little superstitious about it all and still find myself not being overly excited. So now after a long break and 33 weeks of astonishment, discovery and worry, it’s time I get over that BS and continue on with my New Year’s resolution and start celebrating the life inside me!

Still to that day, I hadn't seen a positive pregnancy test. I know a lot of women buy loads of cheap test and test early, during and after, just to double check or see the lines again and again, but when I was pregnant last summer I never did. I just had a blood test and got told over the phone the good news. This time around, my clinic changed their procedure- The morning the clinic told me to take a home pregnancy test I could have walked for miles, just to not have to take it- damn this first pee thing!! My husband was away, so I was on my own. (I totally had a bottle of red wine in the house which would have got popped early- you got to get your comfort from somewhere!!) I took the test, left it to do its thing and blasted Notorious BIG (wtf- right) while I took a long shower- I just didn't want to look. So when I finally found the courage, a simple smile and a little water in my eyes was all that I had for those double pink lines- SO grateful that bottle of red wine wasn't needed.

 More excitement should have been on the cards, but I've been here before and this was only the first step- staying pregnant was the next 100 miles. As the weeks slowly ticked away the pregnancy symptoms started to stack up and by time my 7 weeks scan came around I felt like a zombie. Good signs I was hoping and lucky my husband was briefly home to come to the scan with me. Other than seeing the wee little heart beat, the look on my husband’s face still brings a tear to my eye- we completed the next 100 miles and finally stop beating around the bush with our families and told them the news. We kept quite like many do, until after the 12 week scan and because I stopped drink altogether 3 months before I even started treatment, only a few friends caught on to what was really going on. But even after we passed the "safety" zone and told our closes friends, I still didn't like to say or talk about it. To be honest I felt like I was lying (it was a very weird emotion) and as much as I wanted to enjoy everything that was happening, I was just waiting for someone to pull the rug from underneath me- I didn’t even go spacebook official until 20 weeks.
July 3rd 2015 - "Thanks for the anniversary love - We actually had the day off, so we took bump to the beach! Best 4th of July weekend ever 11 years ago, thanks all for making it amazing!! Hope everyone has a fab weekend!"
In terms of being pregnant, everything has gone pretty normally. The thing that has been the hardest is the nutrition part. I knew that my emotions (sweating the small stuff) were going to get the best of me and I'm grateful that I had somewhat of a mediation practice in place, but I would have put money on not straying too far from my nutritional habits. Everything was normal, fresh veg, healthy fats & yummy meats, until the 6 week mark and all went to hell! Everything I worked so hard to put into place seemed like I had to go back to square one. AHHH - this wasn't supposed to happen. 2 years of clean eating and all of a sudden I wanted a dirty PB n' J and any sugar I could get my hands on. 

Remember my goal wasn't to get pregnant anymore - it was (and still is) to switch back on whatever good gens we have to offer this little one! And this can only happen with good nutrition and lifestyle- we have to get into your heads that the first nine months shapes the rest of our child’s life(more on that subject laterTherefore, I tried my best to keep up my normal way of eating throughout the first 13 weeks of feeling ill and worked hard not to emotional beat myself up over falling sort. I found the healthiest options available (sometimes not), as I battled my way through. It’s obvious in hindsight, but the more I gave into my cravings, the harder it was to want to eat healthy- I suppose just like everyone else. 

Order your free 'Nine Months That Made You' poster  - Great documentary for those in the UK: Countdown to Life: A BBC Science series, produced in partnership with The Open University, exploring the making of you – not sure how long this link will be valid for.

For me early evenings were my worst time (sometimes in the morning, I would wake up and not even feel pregnant), so I made sure to eat full health meals in the day. But the brain fog was overwhelming and I wasn’t going to blame it all on being pregnant- I knew the hormones were having an effect, but the fact I wasn’t eating enough healthy fats and vegetables (compared to what I had been used too) was having an impact. Friends told me, I’d be off vegetables throughout the pregnancy, but I couldn’t get my head around not eating lots of veg during this important time. Not only for my developing child, but for my sanity! So, I continued eating the good stuff, when I could manage it (while still having some bad stuff) and around week 16/17 I finally got my normal appetite back. Now this doesn’t mean I would rather have a salad than a dirty grilled cheese sandwich, but it does mean I have the salad! The only thing I made myself have at least every two days was Boneborth and it just so happened that it was the WORST food aversion I had! I still have a weird mental aversion to it, but it has played such an important role throughout this whole process, that I could never give it up!

On the flip side I haven’t given up many foods that pregnant women are told to avoid. Again, this all comes down to what I believe and you have to decide (maybe one can say “take the risk”) for yourself. They recommend you stay away from Raw or Undercooked Foods to minimize the risk of food-borne illness. This is totally understandable, but (in my opinion) very unreasonable. Take for instance salmonella & eggs: “The rate of salmonella contamination in eggs is about one in twenty thousand.” (The Better Baby Book - the benefits of a running yolk, outweighs the risk of salmonella (at least for me)! Also over cooking your food destroys some nutrients and transforms another. Vitamins (like B and C, Folic Acid and Biotin) are lost as a result of cooking. Phytonutrients, oils and enzymes are damaged, killed or altered during the process too. The longer you cook, the more damage is done. This is true in all foods- Obviously there’s little issues with fruits and vegetables, so I’m only listing the ones you might shake your head at:
Poached eggs: and give up all that amazing nutrients in a runny yolk– NO WAY!
Meat: Obviously not pork or chicken, but lamb & beef steaks I still eat medium-rare.
Fish (Sushi): YES PLEASE! - The Importance of Fish in Our Diets
Pâté & Soft Cheese: Didn’t have loads of this, but didn’t avoid it if it was on offer!
 (In says all this, I was picky and I only ate these “raw” foods if I felt comfortable that they were top quality products & I was always aware that there were risks at hand!)
Side Note:
All the hard work and sacrifice has paid off. We’re on the 7 week countdown to meeting our first child!! And even though I 100% believe all the changes I have made, has helped me to get me where I am, I’m still very aware that I have tricked my body into think it was healthy enough to start growing a baby and keep it. I'm grateful for all the medical support I received and I don't lose sleep over it, but as I'm fully emerged and studying how our bodies are supposed to function, I just can't help to think what my gut microbiome is like and if it's having an effect on the little one (never mind all the drugs I/it was on for the first three months!) But at the end of the day, this is the path I chose to go down and whatever the outcome, we'll deal with it. I am immensely great to be writing this blog post and spending (too much) of my time watching my belly move as our baby’s kicks!!

Other great post about my journey -


If you'd like any support in your own journey or have any questions Let's Talk
 Please remember that this is simply my story and what I have gone through. These are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. I am open to change, challenges and new scientific developments. What works for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor and all medical advice, should be gotten from a qualified professional. If you feel like your doctor isn't reading from the same nutrition and lifestyle book as you are (or want to be), go find one that is!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

JUMP! Literacy Chalk Play

Our little monsters were playing a race game, so I asked them if I could set up a a track with a little obstacle for them to run around. They were happy for me to do this and by doing so I was able to support their play with a little phonic/letter learning, by writing the word JUMP next to the obstacle- sneaky, sneaky!

After I was finished, I stood back and let their game evolve. Our little monsters started to use other items around the garden to create new challenges and obstacles (and even did a little of their own mark making), to extend their play and environment. It was a great learning & creating through play experience for the kids!
What our little monsters used:
Planks of wood
Milk crates

Get BIG chalk for the little monsters to use (the small chalk disappear in no time at all!)  

Monday, 17 August 2015

Cardboard Tube - Ball Run

Tube Runs are such a fun and easy activity for monsters of all ages- best of all you can create them on the cheap! We were lucky to have a life size bamboo shoots and ladders to accommodate a large cardboard tube a parent brought in, but you don't need to have this kind of setup to create an amazing Cardboard Tube Ball Run for your little monsters! 

Depending on the width of your tube you can use:
All different kinds and sizes of balls: Bouncy, Foam, Plastic & Felt Balls
The large tube was a great addition to our bamboo shoots and ladders game. Our little monsters had to use their problem solving skills and work out what would fit down the tube and had a wonderful time experimenting with different objects - they learnt quickly that the small balls were the fastest, therefore the most fun! The different opportunities for play, made this game entertaining for all- some just wanted to put as many down as possible, while others liked racing their balls down the tube. But they all agreed watching them pop out again and again was the best!!

This is a great activity for small and large gross motor skills, personal and emotional skills, problem solving, repetition and experimentation.

Easy to create at home too! Have the tubes free flowing or prop them up against a chair.
We play a high or low game, asking our little monsters if the want us to hold the tube high or low and then they run after their ball when it comes out.
We love what Little Bins for Little Hands did with their Recycled Cardboard Tubes and for the older little monster we love Lemon Lime Adventure's Scientific Recording of their tube run!!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Fizzy Chalk Painting

We were inspired by Learn, Play, Imagines  ABC Eruptions and created our own Fizzy Chalk Painting for our little monsters to create, explore and get messy with. This is a great fine & gross motor skill active to get your little monster moving in lots of different ways.  
Firstly, we took all of our old chalk (you know the pieces that are too small for them to hold onto anymore) and got them to help break it all up using rocks. They obviously loved this- destruction, right!! It’s best to soften up the chalk for them a little, by giving the chalk a bash or two yourself!

Then we added baking soda- about 1/2 & 1/2 mixture and water (not too much water, the thicker the better) to make our paint.

The kids went off and drew whatever they wanted with their paint. When they were all done (and before it dried), we gave them the magic potion (vinegar, which you can add the vinegar to their plate of paint or Justin a bowl on it's own). When the vinegar was added, our little monsters got to see their paintings come to life.

This activity is just another way to encourage the kids to mark make and be creative!!

Get BIG chalk for the little monsters to use (the small chalk disappear in no time at all!)  

20 Giant Chalks(UK)
ToySmith Jumbo Sidewalk Chalk - 20 chalks (USA)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Chocolate and Mint Playdough

We’ve been out in the garden and I wanted to bring some of the great smells inside, so we made chocolate playdough and added fresh mint!! The kids loved it, well the chocolate part!!

They made cakes and cookies, but best part was them talking about what they smelt-

“Ummmm- chocolate, yum yum! I love chocolate! My mummy loves chocolate too!”

“Yuck- MINT! This smells yucky!”
Make playdough at home - it's crazy easy!
1 1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of Coco Powder
1 cup of salt
2 tbs of cream of tartar
1/2 - 1 1/2 cup of boiling water
1 tbs of oil
Fresh Mint

1.Mix the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.
2.Add the oil to the cup of boiling water.
3.SLOWLY mix in the water/oil into the bowl - you might not use it all.
4.Stir until the mixture is well combined- knead dough until desired texture.
5. Add the fresh mint
6.Add a few toys and PLAY

Gold Glitter an Ginger Playdough
Homemade Sunflower Bird Feeders
Chickpeas and Lentils Playdough Play 
Tea Playdough Play
What to do with old, dry, clumpy Playdough?
Floury Playdough