Saturday, April 13, 2019

How I protected my baby before she was even born

This post is in collaboration with Brand Meets Blog

April is a pretty big deal these days in our house. Not only is there all the excitement of the Easter bunny coming to visit, it's also birthday month for baby girl. With all the Facebook memory photos popping up on my phone each day, I can't help but reminisce about my pregnancy and all the emotions I felt awaiting her arrival. I remember those last few weeks so vividly as I was so close to finally having our very longed for second baby in our arms. The sheer happiness and excitement that we were going to meet her was also mixed with fear and trepidation as the weeks kept ticking by. The photo below was taken at exactly 40 weeks, I thought for sure she was close, but I still had 5 more loooong days to wait.

I think it's a natural instinct for all mothers to want to protect their baby. For me that instinct kicked in very early, long before she was actually born, in fact it was from the very moment I found out we'd finally conceived {which was at just 3 weeks pregnant}. We'd spent so many agonising months trying to fall pregnant so I was determined to do everything I could to foster a healthy pregnancy hoping to have a healthy baby in my arms 9 months later.

I ate all the right foods. Ok, a better way to phrase that would be I avoided all the bad pregnancy foods. As hard as it was, I avoided soft serve ice-cream, seafood, sushi, soft cheese and pretty much anything that could even remotely give me food poisoning. I did succumb to cheeseburgers and chocolate quite often though.

I consciously avoided sick people {as much as possible}. I was a stay at home mum during my second pregnancy so it was a lot easier than when I was working. I cancelled play dates when necessary and even stopped doing the grocery shopping during the later months of my pregnancy so I wouldn't pick up germs from trolleys at the shops.

In addition to avoiding germs, I also got the pertussis {dTpa} vaccine again while pregnant {after 28 weeks} so baby girl would have protection against whooping cough. New babies can't be vaccinated against whooping cough until 6 weeks so having the vaccination myself while pregnant gave me some relief knowing she'd have some protection should she be exposed to it before she could get immunised. I'm petrified of needles myself, but the thought of her getting sick terrified me more, and to be honest after the constant barrage of weekly blood tests and daily hormone injections while trying to conceive, a once off vaccination needle didn't seem that bad. 

We also made sure all other family members were up to date with their boosters to limit the chance of her being exposed, even to carriers of the disease. Any chance she might contract it was too high a risk. The thought of spending years trying to get pregnant, then 9 months growing her inside me, to possibly lose her to a potentially fatal disease scared the hell out of me. My grandmother has had whooping cough and I've seen videos of infected babies battling to breathe in hospital and it's beyond heartbreaking. I've had severe asthma all my life so I know what it feels like gasping for air and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially a tiny baby.

I would have got vaccinated for influenza while pregnant as well {both vaccinations are free for pregnant mothers under the National Immunisation Program} but there was a shortage of the flu vaccine when my GP recommended getting it and it didn't become available again before I gave birth. Influenza can affect mothers quite severely in the second and third trimesters and it can affect the baby in the first few months after birth, even causing death, so it's worth discussing the vaccination with your GP, midwife or obstetrician once you fall pregnant. I'm so grateful that I live in a day and age where we have the medicine available to help protect not only ourselves but also our vulnerable newborn babies from diseases which could have devastating consequences. 

Thankfully our gorgeous girl arrived safe and well in April 2017 and while we've had our share of hardships with allergies, tongue tie and sleep issues, we haven't had to deal with any major life threatening health concerns. It's hard to believe my tiny little baby has been with us for two years already and is now a rambunctious toddler causing havoc and plenty of laughs everywhere she goes. 

Unfortunately the need to protect her and constant worrying didn't stop once she was born, so I just have oh the rest of her life to continue worrying! This parenting gig sure is a tough one.

Toni x

Disclosure - This is a sponsored post as per my disclosure policy. For more information regarding free vaccinations during pregnancy please visit The Immunisation Coalition is a not for profit organisation, and is the leading voice in whole-of-life immunisation in Australia, protecting all Australians against communicable diseases.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Dig, dump, roll sensory bookish play for preschoolers

Ever since I was really little I've always had an innate love of books and reading, so it's no surprise that my children have developed their own love of reading at a young age too. It's probably directly related to the number of children's books we have all over the house. You can never have too many right? Unless you ask their dad, he definitely thinks we have too many... and yet I keep finding even more to add to our collection {sorry, not sorry}. Our latest addition is Dig, Dump, Roll by Sally Sutton.

Dig, Dump, Roll is the follow-up to the wildly popular picture book Roadworks. In this book Sally Sutton uses interactive, rhyming text to entice children to guess what kind of vehicle is at work on each page. Bright cropped illustrations work alongside the descriptive text to give further clues before all is revealed over the page.

Crash-a-rumble Smash-a-grumble 
What’s at work? 
Here’s a clue: It will clear the ground for you. 

 Bulldozer! Coming through! 

My 5yr old can't read herself yet, but she very much enjoyed the descriptive text {it's entirely possible I'm a little too enthusiastic when reading aloud} and guessing what would come next. To my surprise she was very quick to guess the final surprise, but then she admitted to me they'd read this book before at kindy {cheater!}. Clearly that proves that it's a book kids love to read over and over, even when they somewhat remember what comes next. 

Dig, Dump, Roll has been selected for the prestigious 2019 Storylines Notable Book List. Since 1999 Storylines has produced an annual list of outstanding books for children and young people published in New Zealand by New Zealand authors and illustrators during the previous calendar year. The annual list of Notable Books ensures that children, parents/grandparents, teachers, librarians and the public are all made aware of the large range of high quality New Zealand books being published.

Dig, Dump, Roll -  Sensory Bookish Play

After we finished reading the book together I brought out a little small world bookish play activity I'd prepared while she was at school. Bookish play is a general term for any play based activity that is centered around a particular book. Its a great way to extend the story or main theme of a book beyond the pages and onto the craft table or into the playroom. With its descriptive, interactive text, Dig, Dump, Roll is the perfect starting point for some messy, fun, construction themed sensory bookish play. Of course I went with a cutlery tray construction small world because the girls love sensory play and small worlds, so it was a no brainer. 

<<< Please note this activity poses a choking risk to children under 3yrs of age due to small parts. This activity is intended for children aged 3+ and to be done under strict adult supervision >>>

What you will need:

~ A cutlery tray {we use this Ikea one}
~ Construction vehicles {ours are from Kmart}
~ Construction loose parts {rocks, sticks}
~ Sensory construction bases {chickpeas, blackbeans}
~ Chocolate playdough {ours is from Wild Dough Co}
~ Chocolate dirt {recipe further below}
~ Wooden letters

If you've been following me on Instagram for a while, you'll know I love using cutlery trays as a base for small world play {search #cutlerytrayplay for some of my other play ideas}. They're particularly perfect for scenes that use many different sensory bases as each compartment contains the individual bases so they don't mix together {until the kids get to it anyway}. The tray slots are also great for defining separate play spaces like animal enclosures for a zoo, or in this case different construction zones. 

I deliberately chose sensory bases that would all be taste safe, just in case my 1yr old was awake when we did this activity and she wanted to explore it as well. While I never encourage the girls to eat any of the sensory materials I put out for play, I know with a mouthing toddler it's inevitable that it could happen, so I'd rather use items that won't cause harm if accidentally ingested. I chose beans, chickpeas, edible dirt and playdough specifically because they all work in well size and texture wise with the construction vehicles I paired them with. I included the rocks and sticks because this set up was for my 5yr old, however if I intended to do it with both girls I would remove the rocks and sticks to be safe.

We've lived with fake grass for years now so my kids have never really had the chance to play with real dirt or mud. I substitute mud by making oobleck, but until now I've never had a substitute for dirt. This week I watched Lycie's video about how to make cloud dough on Instagram and decided to try and make a chocolate edible dirt version. Full disclosure, I only watched Lycie's instructions up until finding the ratio of flour to oil needed, then made up my recipe amounts based on what I had in the cupboard.

Edible dirt recipe

1 cup flour
1/3 cup chocolate powder
1/8 cup canola oil

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon and add oil slowly until it resembles a crumbly dirt consistency. Squeeze mixture with hands, it should hold its shape under pressure, similar to kinetic sand. Add more oil sparingly if required.

For our chocolate flavouring and dirt colour I simply used chocolate powder sachets that I've been keeping for sensory play. You could also use cocoa powder, drinking chocolate or Milo. Just insure your chocolate element is powder based so the cloud dough mixes properly.

I added in our small wooden letters to spell out the title of the book, with hints from the vehicles, for some bonus word recognition for my daughter. After we read the book together I brought out the tray and at first she sounded out the words trying to figure out what they were. She got dig and dump relatively easy and needed a little bit of help with roll. I think she did pretty well considering they haven't started on sight words yet at school and they haven't finished learning all the letter sounds. She then drove all the letters around in the different vehicles which was great incidental letter recognition. Eventually her play moved on from reenacting the story to planting the chickpeas into the dirt and using the sticks as plants that sprouted from the seeds. I love how bookish play uses a story as a springboard that leads to all sorts of other imaginary play. An added bonus of this particular activity is that the aroma of chocolate was ah-mazing.

 Learning Opportunities

- Hypothesising {how do the machines work, how can we build with each material}
- Categorising types of construction materials
- Sensory input {touch, smell and taste}
- Hand strengthening {squishing the sensory materials}
- Pincer grip practice {picking up the beans and chickpeas}
- Hand/eye co-ordination

- Language development
- Sight word practice
- Letter recognition
- Imaginary play

Toni x

Disclosure - We were kindly gifted a copy of Dig, Dump, Roll by Walker Books for the purpose of review. All other products featured within this post are part of our personal sensory play resources and were previously purchased by myself. Puggle and Kit {who we got our wooden letters from} have kindly offered Finding Myself Young readers 10% off all purchases, simply use the code YOUNG10.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Small changes at home can have a big impact on the environment

This post is in conjunction with Brand Meets Blog

Since having children, I've become increasingly aware of my environmental impact. It was always instilled in me from a young age to reduce, reuse and recycle. Long before water tanks were mandatory, my mum had us saving our shower water in buckets to reuse on the garden. She'd make us use every last piece of anything and everything so we weren't inadvertently throwing out things that were still useful. Consequently, I've always been quite environmentally conscious when it comes to my life choices, but having little people and thinking about their future really brings home just how important it is. We're all responsible for taking care of the environment and leaving behind the best possible planet we can for our children, and I want to play a positive part in that.

We don't have the cash flow to make big changes like installing solar panels on our roof, or the backyard to cultivate a big veggie patch and compost {I really wish we did}, but our lack of space and funds hasn't stopped us from making other smaller eco friendly changes in our household. Not all environmental changes have to be grandiose and expensive, but they can still have a significant impact on the environment over time. I'm hopeful that making these changes as a family will give our girls the same eco friendly mentality that was instilled in me as a child.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

One of the simplest ways we help is by recycling almost everything that we can. I say almost everything because some of our old packaging like cardboard, tissue paper, bubble wrap and egg cartons are squirreled away to be transformed into weird and wonderful crafty masterpieces. One man's trash is quite often two little girls treasure.

Speaking of treasure, I'm also an avid op shopper and love breathing new life into other people's discarded objects. You could go as far as saying it's a bit of an addiction. I've never met a monkey pod tray or basket I didn't like, and I can find a million uses for them. We also regularly donate our unused items to charity so that someone else can get some benefit from them, instead of creating waste. I really love that the girls are developing a genuine desire to help others {and an appreciation for their own circumstances and belongings} each time they choose to donate some of their old things.

Minimising the plastic in our household

For years now I've been very passionate about choosing sustainable open ended wooden toys for the girls as opposed to single use plastic toys that chew through batteries. Most of the toys we own now are extremely versatile, and will likely be passed onto my grandkids at some stage. Instead of adding to landfill with discarded toys the girls have gotten bored of quickly, we invest in quality toys made from sustainable wood that will be used for years {and eventually breakdown much quicker than plastic alternatives}. An added bonus is they also don't randomly start flashing and singing in the middle of the night {thankgod}.

One of the more recent changes we've made to reduce the plastic in our home, is switching to environmentally friendly Boo Boo bamboo toothbrushes, instead of using plastic supermarket ones. Boo Boo toothbrushes are made from organically grown Moso bamboo which is naturally antimicrobial and biodegradable, so it's great for both our teeth and the environment. I'd never really considered toothbrushes to be an environmental issue before, but then I found out approximately 350 tonnes of plastic toothbrushes are thrown into landfill, in Australia alone, each year. It certainly puts into perspective how something seemingly insignificant to one family can have an immense detrimental impact overall.

Thankfully we're no longer adding to this waste as we've all got our own bamboo brush, including the girls. Seriously, how cute are these toothbrushes?! I love the minimalist black and white design and they even have cute sayings on the back that you can read while brushing {and anything that helps motivate the kids to brush their teeth is a winner}. They also get delivered straight to our door with free shipping. Yep free shipping. I love it when being eco friendly is convenient and doesn't cost the earth {see what I did there}.

I'm by no means a greenie, or an environmentalist, but I'm hoping that these small changes we're making as a family, will have a positive impact on the world around us. Imagine the cumulative effect if each one of us took small steps in our respective homes. It would undoubtedly result in a better planet for our children to grow up in and that's one of the best legacies we can leave behind.

Have you made any changes at home to help the environment?

Toni x

This is a sponsored post as per my disclosure policy.
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Monday, January 14, 2019

Back to School with Smiggle

In just over 2 weeks my biggest baby is starting school.

* Insert all the "I don't know how this happened, she was just a baby" clich├ęs here *

Truth is both her and I are more than ready. She had to wait an extra year as she missed the age cut off here in QLD and I think that extra year has well and truly helped us both prepare for the separation anxiety that's to come. In fact I think we're more emotionally prepared than practically prepared. It's been the monumental list of things I've needed to buy/get ready that's been stressing me out the most, not the fact that I'll miss her everyday {although I will miss her of course}.

We're lucky because our school seems pretty laid back when it comes to all the "things" they need. They can have whatever backpack, drink bottle, lunchbox etc that we as parents see fit to get them. Which for the most part is amazing, because nobody wants to be dictated to, but it also meant as a first time school mum to be {that's totally a term} I really had no idea where to look for school stuff. There's been a lot of frantic Facebook statuses asking for advice and trips to the shops where I get so overwhelmed I just panic and walk out. So, when I got an email in my inbox telling me about the Smiggle back to school range of products and asking if I wanted some samples I couldn't say yes please quick enough!


When I think of Smiggle I automatically think of cool stationary and accessories, but to be honest they weren't even on my radar for other school supplies. I didn't even realise they stocked things like drink bottles, lunchboxes or backpacks. I'm sure there's other time poor mums out there like me that didn't know this either so I thought I'd share some of the range here. Please note the images I've used are totally bias because I have a girl, but rest assured they do have plenty of options for boys too.


Smiggle has a comprehensive range of lunchboxes available including snack jars, square lunchboxes, super popular bento styles and double decker ones. The double decker ones {far left in the image below} have plenty of room for a traditional lunchbox in the bottom and an ice brick or fruit/snacks in the top. The cool thing about the Smiggle lunchboxes is most of them can be coordinated with matching drink bottles, backpacks and in some cases stationary too. Lunch containers range from $9.95 to $39.95.


Smiggle have drink bottles for junior preppies right through to the mega thirst option for big {water} drinkers. They all contain straws which can be removed if your child prefers to drink without one. Drink bottles range from $12.95 to $26.95.


Smiggle has a big range of school bags including drawstring bags {great for library bags or to store swimming gear/spare clothes}, book bags, character backpacks and traditional backpacks in numerous designs. We already had a backpack organised, but if we were getting one from Smiggle bub would pick the faves backpack in pink {below} as it matches her lunchbox and drink bottle. School bags range from $17.95 through to $64.95.


The one part of school supply shopping that I've been looking forward to for years is the stationary. Pretty pens, highlighters, notebooks, accessories, tapes, erasers etc get me way more excited than they should, and as far as I'm concerned you can never have too many. However, all my hopes and dreams of going overboard shopping for stationary were dashed when our school announced they have a system where we all pay a set fee and the school buys all the stationary supplies needed in bulk. I mean it's saved me lots of time and probably money, but part of me is mourning all the trips I could of made and all the cute stationary we could have bought. Alas it wasn't meant to be, but we can have super cute stuff for home. She has to do her homework with something...

Smiggle have you covered with basic stationary supplies with notebooks, pens, pencils, staplers, pencil cases, scissors and rulers available in different colours and designs. There's also novelty erasers, sharpeners, pens and pencil toppers. In addition to the basics, they also have cool accessories like keyrings, watches, alarm clocks and lights. See the full range of Smiggle back to school stationary here.

Do you have everything ready for back to school yet?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was sent a Smiggle lunchbox, drink bottle and pen sets for the purpose of  review. I did not receive payment for this post. All stock photos have been used with permission. 
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