Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Full moon babies/boobs

We spent the run-up to this full moon camping with friends for 3 nights. This full moon falls on the Summer Solstice, the first time that has occurred in 70 years. I attribute the mania in my house this weekend to the added exposure to moonlight and not all the toasted campfire marshmallows. There, that's my preface to the following rant.

Oh my god, will you please leave my boobs alone?!

Between the 11 month old having her growth spurt last week, a mild fever for a couple of days, lots of naps, bigger teeth every day and new vocal sounds, and my 4 year old's intense fever last night which had me contorting in bed giving him skin-to-skin while simultaneously breastfeeding the baby, it's safe to say I'm done in.

I did not plan to spend today on the sofa watching endless Tom and Jerry episodes (the original, not the new one), I have laundry to catch up on, a house to clean, elderberry syrup half made, a face to wash, and I wanted some "me time" too. I have a college assignment to do and I feel so claustrophobic stuck here being sucked on.

The baby's got so heavy that I am wrecked carrying her around the house, so instead of getting up to go get a drink of water in the kitchen which means carrying her in too, I wait another hour on the sofa until my husband passes by and I ask him.

I don't think my boobs have had 5 minutes break in the last 24 hours.

I had a blocked duct which needed a homeopathic remedy to clear it, and it's almost gone, but I'm really scared that overdoing it will leave me with mastitis again. We also said today would be our official Father's Day celebration for my husband, but I don't think we'll get anything special done at this rate.

Usually the two younger ones play around on the floor, perfect rug rats. Today they are both touching me all the time. The baby just sat up after a long feed (I'm typing in the middle of the madness) and the older one asked for a boob. Sometimes it's both together. "No wonder you're tired" said the homeopath yesterday when she heard I'm tandem feeding. I could have cried.

(2 hours later)
I've had a long nap (hurray for my husband being around these days) and they have all left me in a quiet house. I did laundry (can't waste this good drying weather) and I'm sitting down to do my college assignment. Things are looking up for this lady. I think my late night browsing of the internet has to come to an end. I broke my resolve last night and spent way too long looking at things that are way too expensive so I paid for it today. Sleep is really the best medicine.

Hope you all are feeling good this Full Moon,
Nee x

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

One dress, two ways

I've often admired the lovely outfit collages on fashion blogs, and have just realised how they work. It's Polyvore.com

I'm going to use it to style a dress I have my eye on as I figure it will need to work year-round to gain a place in my wardrobe. I'm really done with clothes that are one-look only, and I'd like all my items to be versatile and wearable through the seasons.

So I've chosen some items similar to what I already own, to see how I'd style the simple blue denim shirt dress. This is not a sponsored post, and if and when I do go shopping for a denim dress I'll be looking for preloved before new, but this is just to get the idea.

summer look
I started with a mid-blue denim dress, featuring long sleeves which can be rolled up in summer. I chose button-down for ease of breastfeeding. My ultimate dress would only have buttons to the waist, as I'd worry about tummy bulging the buttons after a heavy meal, but there was no such dress to be found on the database. So I added a yellow bag and yellow-ish sandals, as these are really summery and make me happy to wear. I've of course added shades and that's it, hopefully no more layers would be needed in summer. See below for the Autumn / Winter look:

Autumn styling

Here I've gone for tan leather accessories, always in style. Adding a chunky knit over the top which would still show off the dress. I like patterned wool tights when you just see a glimpse of them, and some colour in the scarf. I'd probably be wearing a vest underneath in an Oirish winter, and possibly a coat over the top too. And hat. You get the picture.

I love the idea of an all-year-round wardrobe, and as I get on in years I want less of the high-street trends and more classics.

Thanks to Cat for the style inspiration as always, we spent the day together and I always leave her with lots of ideas for blog posts and new additions to my wardrobe. I'm following the "one in, one out" rule now, so if I do invest in a new dress, an old one will go into the charity bag.

Any other ideas for styling it? Ooh I have one right now! Back to Polyvore...

Evening look

I love the idea of the pink Converse as a pop of colour in the rest of the classic outfit. Classic items, every one. I'd totally wear this for afternoon drinks in summer, which may turn to evening drinks... oh to be back in spontaneous drinking days... And no, I don't own a Chanel bag, but I did buy a pretty nice replica one on Depop recently. Only a tenner...

Anyway, I'm going to play around a bit more with it, and get a few more ideas together for you.
Add yours here, and if you have any links to good breastfeeding-friendly denim dresses please let me know!

Nee x

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Life lately

Summer is here and we're having a ball these days.
In the last month:

  • I visited a friend with her new baby, made her lunch and showed her how to tie a wrap sling. I LOVE the delight on new moms faces when they realise they can wear their baby close and have two hands free. 
  • We spent a glorious sunny lunchtime in a quiet park by the Liffey, picnic lunch, read the Sunday papers, watched the world go by.
  • We had a day with other home educating families, all unschoolers like ourselves. There's such a  shorthand when you meet other families with the same principles, home birthing, breastfeeding older children, nobody bats an eyelid and I love that. 
  • We spent a morning in Recreate, doing arts and crafts with our friends, the kids were so excited to get their hands on "real liquid paint". The few times a year my kids get to paint at home they have dry watercolour palettes as I'm allergic to messy poster paints. So they were in heaven this morning. 
  • I had a writer friend over for tea and a walk one evening. She's really inspiring, a true artist and spiritual lady who I learn loads from and need to spend more time with. 
  • I did lots of writing, stuff I'd procrastinated about for a week or so, just got it done.
  • I did lots of study, my college course has ramped up the pace and I'm feeling challenged and productive about it all.
  • I have a plan for the next 6 months and I'm excited to put it into action, not this week, but soon. It's my new business venture and it's morphing into something I'm really itching to 
  • I'm reading a proper book. I'm bringing it around the house with me and dipping in and out for 20 mins here and there, it's really brought a new dimension to my days.
  • I've cut back my Facebooking, hugely. I've told myself I'm only to be on it one hour per day and I'm sticking to it, and loving that.
  • I'm sleeping better, I used a nightlight for the last 11 months since the baby was born, and I've just started turning it off. Wow, way better sleep, and she and the 4 year old are sleeping through the night, well from 12-6am or thereabouts. 

  • I'm off caffeine again. I was on it a month ago for "research purposes", but it brought on the sugar cravings, the groggy mornings, the joint issues, so I cut it out this week and I feel so much lighter. 
  • I started volunteering in the Dublin Food Co-op. It is only a couple of hours every few weeks, but it's a nice outlet outside of the house for me, good experience in office work and gives us an extra 10% discount on our groceries each week.
  • I finally saw my husband in his play, so proud. Othello in the Abbey runs until 11 June.
  • We celebrated his birthday last weekend, and our eldest turns 8 this coming week! It's birthday season here, 4 in 5 weeks plus family and friend's birthdays, so we're buying presents, food, planning parties galore and arranging to meet family to spend these special times together.
  • Last week I caught up with a gorgeous friend and her family in their new house, beside a lake. We ate, talked, walked and caught up like no time had passed, though it had been a few years since we did this properly. 
  • I have sorted the boy's baby clothes and found some of my dresses from 1978, which my daughter is modelling right now. Polyester, pink gingham, lacy collars, it's high kitsch and I love it! She's wearing some of her brothers baby clothes, they were kitted out in rainbow stripes for most of their infancies, so it's really making me realise how fast time goes since they were that small.
  • I have been working with the National Implementation Steering Group for Home Birth services. This involves reading and giving feedback on policies being drafted in for home birth services by the HSE at meetings every few months. A lot of time and effort, but it's really important to me to still have a say in this, as I feel home birth services have a way to go before they are really woman-friendly. 
  • We've been eating lots of meals on our patio. The other morning my nearly 8 year old told me to wait there while he cooked a stack of french toast alone in the kitchen, even slicing the sourdough loaf! I am expecting a 3 course meal by his 9th birthday.
  • The baby is standing and so close to taking a step. She's signing and making herself understood, and knows so much of what we're saying.
  • My prolapse gave me no trouble for the last month, but I'm feeling it again this week. I think it's a combination of wearing the baby more plus her getting heavier. She's unwilling to be put down a lot of the time, so I'm just gonna have to pace myself. I did wonder what the heck when I realised I was scrubbing the kitchen floor this morning on all fours with her on my back in the sling...
  • The nearly 5 year old is showing a responsible side, minding his sister in bed while I go to the toilet, and taking the clothes in off the washing line. This bodes well for the future, but I say that very tentatively, as I think middle child syndrome is strong in this one.

  • Oh and I chopped my hair into an A-line bob, it's way better. I was getting bored with it.
Apart from that, I've no news. What have you been up to? Please let us know on my Facebook page, or leave a comment below.

Nee x

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Dealing with mastitis naturally

I did well avoiding mastitis for the past almost 8 years, but 2 weeks ago it got me!

It started with a blocked duct one afternoon, which I'm no stranger to. It was in a week where I'd been carrying Ms. Lump around on my left side a lot, pressed up to my left boob, so I assumed it was that to blame.

That evening I'd a friend over and as we chatted I was more aware of the lump, it was definitely sore and I started massaging it a little as I was nursing the baby.

That night the shivering started, I just could not get warm. I got into bed with lots of blankets and a hot water bottle, but nothing could warm my icy feet. I started shuddering so much I couldn't fall asleep, teeth chattering and my body jerking so much I kept waking the baby beside me. My head was burning up but my hands and feet were icy and my boob was feeling more and more tender. This continued all night, and I vomited too. My husband watched over me all night and I only slept in fits and starts, kept waking myself up with the shivering.

The next day I stayed in bed, my mom came to take care of the kids and bring the baby up and down to me for feeding. I kept hot and cold compresses on my breast, which was now rock hard all over half of it. I still had a fever but the shivering had stopped. I slept on and off and did a bit of staring out the window. I couldn't read or listen to anything, just a bit "out of it". I drank a rosemary infusion which I would like to think helped a little as rosemary deals with inflammation. I managed to eat a piece of sourdough toast but I had to force myself to eat it. I had no appetite. I also heard about cutting raw garlic cloves in smaller pieces and swallowing like pills. I did that a couple of times the first day, it was so disgusting but I knew I was going to treat it naturally, and garlic is a natural antibiotic.

I could barely lift my head off the pillow, even turning around to take a drink off the nightstand was too much effort sometimes. There was lots of advice sent to me via friends about taking showers, massaging the breast with a hairbrush (ouch!). using a nappy as a hot compress, but I was too drained to do any of that. So I just massaged it and kept the baby feeding off that side as much as possible.

I slept better the second night and was able to sit up in bed the second day. My boob was still the same, and I had a headache (could have been sugar withdrawal, as I'd been eating a fair bit before I came down with the mastitis - in fact I blame sugar for lowering my immune system, I've noticed I always get sick after a few days of being "naughty"). I noticed I had a lump in a gland under my arm the second day, plus a slight earache on the same side, so I figured the infection was spreading out from the boob. I took more garlic and drank lots of clear liquids, both hot herbal teas and cold water. I'd definitely been dehydrated the days before the mastitis hit too.

And mentally I'd been all over the place, worrying about friends, caring for my kids who had had a bug, working, writing, planning, doing way too much and not focusing on myself at all. All these factors led to me coming down with this infection.

On day 3 I was back tentatively on my feet, the lumpy boob and armpit were still there but not causing me too much pain and I was able to direct proceedings from the sofa, not my bed. So I rested there. Though I noticed when I tried writing I was making loads of typos, it was like the fever had addled my brain a bit and I needed another day or two to get it fully functioning again.

I definitely feel like since going on a "cleaner" diet and lifestyle that I am more susceptible to illness after a bout of eating badly and drinking alcohol. Previously my system was so used to that toxic stuff that it tolerated a lot, but now it doesn't. This means that when I'm well I enjoy better health than before, more energy and vitality, but it takes less to make me sick, if that makes sense. I have read that your gut flora repopulate in a different (better) way after a dietary change for the better, and that's why previously tolerated foods are suddenly triggers for other problems.

That's how I feel the balance is at the moment anyway. I know I definitely need to look closer at my diet and make sure I'm getting the full complement of vitamins I need, and I am making a point of looking after my basic needs: sleep, water, rest, exercise, sunshine - well trying to at least.

I thought the dreaded mastitis was back the other night, a twinge in my boob, nausea in my stomach, feeling generally "off" so I took to bed for 36 hours, continued feeling dodgy, but then realised it wasn't getting any worse. The kids all had a vomiting bug last week so I think I caught the tail-end of that.

Anyway, I'm going to get off the screen now, it's my bedtime. Have you any tips to deal with mastitis? I know I got a mild dose, only one boob, and only half of it inflamed. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with a worse case, it really is the pits. It takes so much out of you, like a flu.

Please leave your tips below, and take care of your boobs, mamas!
Nee x

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Saltwater sandals*

*This is a sponsored post but all opinions as always are my own.

A couple of weeks ago I was sent a pair of Saltwater sandals in the Red original shade from Salt-watersandals.com. To say I haven't taken them off is an understatement. I can't believe how they literally go with every outfit, casual or dressy. Take a look:

The day I got them I put them on with my "secretary style" outfit. Dressing like this helps me write better, I swear. They went perfectly with the tailored black check skirt and red pussybow blouse.

I couldn't resist a photo op on the black and white kitchen floor! 

Another day I wore them with my new summer jeans and a cream pussybow blouse. This day we spent in a park, walking on gravel, grass and climbing rocks, and the sandals were so comfy throughout.

Another day saw us at the beach on the north Dublin coastline. Knowing that Saltwater sandals are made for in and out of the water, I really put them through their paces. They went through shallow rivulets, rock pools, up to my ankles in the waves and not a bother. 

Action shot coming up with my baby on my back. We climbed these rocks for ages, running off the sugar rush of the ice-cream sundaes. Only in Ireland does your baby wear a winter cardigan on the beach in summer.

There was an audible gasp from my family as I stood in the water in my new shoes, but I assured them this was ok, even encouraged! I still ended up holding everyone else's shoes while they played in the water though...

A day drying in my porch and the shoes were as good as new.  I then wore them with this jacket and skirt combo which made me feel so summery. 

The uppers are pure leather, soft yet strong. I had no sore spots nor did I need to break them in. The soles are hard wearing rubber; they are a simple design, built to last. I have my eye on the little girl's ones as I'd love to match with my girl when she's walking, see the kid's colour range here. Lots of unisex colours to be passed down from bro to little sis...

The colour range is amazeballs, I couldn't choose between the red or yellow, or gold... they also have tan, purple, white, navy... every colour you could think of. And I just saw on their Facebook page that a rose gold option arrives this month! I think I'm sold on that option. Check out the women's selection on their website here.

Price is £55 (about 70 euros), shipping to Ireland/Europe is £10.00, and the customer service is great. They come in their own branded box within a bigger box so really secure. 

Sizing is one size up, I am a UK 6 and I took a 7 in these, as advised by the sales team.

I love the retro styling, it has barely changed from the 1940s when they were first invented. They look gorgeous with blue jeans and a simple t-shirt, I even think I'll wear them with opaque tights in the autumn. I don't think I could stretch to frilly ankle socks with them, but I know some mamas who would rock that look!

If you want to check them out for yourself see the website here, their Facebook page here, or follow them on Twitter @Saltwatereurope and Instagram @saltwatersandals_europe. 

What's on your feet this summer?

Nee x

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Losing the baby weight / OOTD

I have come to my senses. "Finally" says you. Well I came to my senses about a month ago, I just didn't get time to blog about it.

I'm not losing the baby weight.

I'm finished weighing myself. I don't give a damn what the scales say. I don't give a shite what size my ass is.

I don't care if I can't wear my size 12 jeans yet. And I'm not counting the weeks to some magical point in the future when I'll be under 10 stone and back into all my pre-baby clothes.

I woke up y'all. That's what happened.

I realised I have three beautiful healthy children. I have a wonderful husband, a gorgeous house. I literally have it all and here I've been whinging about the size of my thighs.

I'm really ashamed I ever blogged all that weight stuff in the first place because I'd like to think I'm better than that. But I guess I get sucked into the "slim is good" shit like most Western women, and I know I'm especially vulnerable after I have a baby.

So I woke up from that self-indulgent crap, realised I needed to give myself a break and haven't worried about it since. The turning point was my realising that I have a flipping prolapse, I am studying and home educating, and starting a business... and my weight is so unimportant. My health is really important, and I'm making the best choices I can most of the time, but I'm not getting hung up on what the scales say. And I see my body shape changing slowly, my waist returning, even though I'm not dropping a dress size just yet.

Now when my kids are getting ice-cream I get one for myself too... and I enjoy it guilt free. I used to hover around waiting for a lick! Now I'm wearing whatever I like, and I'm not worrying what I look like in it either.

I'm so privileged to be white, middle class, Irish, European, housed, educated... and I look at pictures of my sisters in other countries and my heart breaks for the injustices done to them. So how dare I care about about a flipping number on a label.

Rant over. Here are some recent outfits I've been enjoying wearing and posting them on a Facebook group. The group has all sizes and shapes and it's amazing to see real-life women dressing for real life, no stylists, no photo-shopping. It's been really freeing and inspiring.

New charity shop (Primark) blazer
New charity shop Levi's 501s

Bargain coat from New Look, 28 euros in the sale
Charity shop jumper and skirt... there's a running theme here!
Charity shop skirt and top again...
Breaking out one of my favourite bags again
Charity shop jacket and skirt...
Slobbing around the house, scarf hid milk stains on jumper
Me and my laundry, my laundry and me. 
Same laundry, different day. Those boots need a brushing. Note the cute baby feet sticking out from behind me!
I love these pastels, need to wear them more, but so impractical with kids...
Dress worn as skirt, love the new lease of life that gives it.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

One pot dinner and dessert

This is an experiment and I really hope it works out, 'cuz it could be a life-changer...
It's dinner and dessert in one (divided) slow cooker.
Imagine being able to set this in the morning, leave the house, and come back to a hot dinner and dessert. Wow.
This 6.5l slow cooker pot has a wall dividing it into two halves, I bought this special insert in Aldi before Christmas, but I think they still have them. And it fits into the Cookworks 6.5l slow cooker from Argos (which just comes with one massive pot, great for roasting a whole chicken and all your veg).
I decided to use up all our vegetables in a tortilla lasagne, which I previously showed on the blog here. And the other side has a rhubarb polenta cake, I adore rhubarb and I'm so excited to move on from apples and have a new fruit in season.

Above are most of the ingredients for the lasagne. I oiled the inside of the pot before I started. Then I put some passata and the first flour tortilla. Of course you could use normal lasagne pasta sheets, or corn tortillas, even slices of aubergine / courgette for the layers.

Then I grated all the root veg (sweet potato and carrot and onion) in the processor. I'm loving this machine this week, I made almond butter in it for the first time, and it was well up to the job. This blog post's alternate heading by the way is "Tales of a demented housewife" because I'm stuck at home all week with sick kids. They're swapping a bug between them and all I'm doing it seems is breastfeeding snotters, cooking and cleaning...

Then I made sure the lower layers were the veg that take the longest to cook. Not for me the faffing making a tomato or cheese sauce for the layers, I throw in the ingredients separately and they blend together just fine.

Above is carrot, sweet potato, passata and onion with herbs.

The higher layers had sliced bell peppers, some celery and cheese here and there. I kept alternating layers with cheese and passata until the pot was 2/3 full. Any higher and it doesn't cook well.

Then a genius move which I picked up from some US blogs, for a creamy cheesy addition, just whisk an egg into some natural yogurt (I've even used milk in a pinch) and pour that over the very last layer, finish with lots of cheese, 'cuz, you know.

At the same time I had lots of leftover chopped veg that wasn't going to fit in this dish, so rather than store it to use another time, I bunged it into my 3.5l slow cooker with the last of the passata, more herbs and salt, topped with some low, low welfare :( chicken breasts and called it Dada's dinner. He's gone 12 hours today, so it's on low and will be delicious for him when he returns.

So savoury meals done (and it was only 10am... eyeroll, what have I become?) I moved on to the dessert. I had two huge bunches of fresh Irish rhubarb and was thinking of a crumble, but we had that last week a few nights and we're a bit crumbled-out. So I found this this recipe online which used rhubarb and polenta, an ingredient I always have but rarely use. Of course I didn't have most of the basic ingredients (namely sugar and flour, as I'm not buying cane sugar or wheat flour any more for health reasons) so I made lots of substitutions.

My baby on my back in the sling enjoyed gnawing on a stick of rhubarb. I chopped the second bunch of rhubarb and froze it ready to be thrown into a dish next week.

Above are most of the ingredients for the cake. I didn't have enough honey, so I used molasses and millet flakes as the buckwheat was running out too.

The batter looked pretty bona fide anyway, but had a HUGE rhubarb:batter ratio. Because of the polenta and millet it looked pretty dry, but I figure the rhubarb will emit lots of juice so it will hopefully even out... I put a greaseproof paper liner under the cake, and a criss-cross of paper to lift it out with.

A LOT of faffing went into this pot. If it's manky I'll be devastated to be honest. I'm hoping the cake won't pick up garlic flavours for example. About an hour before it's done I'll put a tea towel under the lid to catch condensation so the cake dries out okay, and the tortilla layers aren't too soggy. The lasagne is always better the next day. I'd say I've enough here to feed six hungry adults, so that's us in food for a good few days.

I have it on high for the first few hours and then I'll turn it to medium (if I'm not distracted) and if it's ready before we are I can leave it on low (lid off even) to stay warm.

Hope you're all having a good Friday. We're listening to a Bing Crosby record and it feels really chilled at the moment. Nobody's fighting or crying and I'm quite refreshed from my few hours alone in the kitchen. "Alone" as you can be with a baby on and off you. Oh, spoke too soon, the arguments have started...

Nee x

Edited to add: the results are in... it worked!

They turned out as good as I'd hoped, cpoked in the same amount of time and no taste transfer. What I ended up doing was putting a teatowel under the lid after about an hour when I saw the amount of condensation appearing. I was afraid of the cake staying wet, and this totally did the trick. I replaced it with a dry teatowel when the first got too wet.

Cross section of the lasagne above. I also used a random jar of salsa from the back of the fridge which gave it a nice kick.

This is blurry from the steam, it is really delicious, even with my many substitutions. Not too sweet, we ate it with natural yogurt but it would be even better with whipped cream or ice cream. My paper sling didn't work and I dropped it taking it out of the deep pot, next time I'll fold the paper to make it stronger.

Let me know if you try dinner and dessert in one, or just whatever's in your slow cooker.