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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Nothing strikes fear into an allergy mum's heart like a dirty floor

It used to be so easy to keep my house clean pre kids. Then I gave birth to a small person... she morphed into a toddler tornado... and I said goodbye to my tidy home.

No more neatly arranged decorative items or spotless floors. They were replaced with random toys and tupperware... all over the floor, chairs, stairs, shelves, under and in the couch. It's like a lucky dip when you sit on the couch, you never know what you're going to find stuffed behind the cushions. My house quickly began looking like a ransacked toy store. With a healthy side serve of dirt, sand, grass and anything else the small child decided to traipse inside. It wasn't pretty all the time, but it was manageable. Then entered child number 2, destructor baby, and everything turned to complete and utter chaos. Now most of the time I can clean all day long and it still looks like a crime scene at the end of the day. Sometimes I feel like all I do is follow them both around with the vacuum cleaner and baby wipes, yet they still manage to cover the floor in crumbs, smear sauce in random places and sneak biscuits onto the couch.

I'm no stranger to mess, in fact you could go as far as saying I embrace it given we do lots of messy sensory play. The reason I get so stressed out over mess on the floors, particularly discarded food, is because of baby girls multiple food allergies. Nothing strikes fear into an allergy mum's heart like watching their child reaching for unsafe food they find on the floor. If she eats the wrong crumbs, finds a random piece of cheese or even a discarded spoon that's touched milk, it can mean hours of pain, screaming, rashes and no sleep... and nobody wants that.

We've navigated food allergies before, when her sister was little, but it was a lot easier with only one child. I always made sure unsafe food was kept away from her up high when we ate and because we didn't drop food on the floor ourselves, any food she dropped and found later was her own safe food. I didn't have to be so vigilant and follow her around micromanaging every speck she picked up. Having an allergy toddler and an older child is a whole different ball game though.

Big sister has outgrown her allergies now, but a lot of the food she eats is still dangerous for her little sister. She's pretty good at asking before she shares food with her, but no matter how many times I tell her not to make a mess or drop food, I can guarantee there'll be a trail of crumbs left wherever she's been eating. There'll also be a curious toddler eagerly waiting to swoop in and eat every last crumb.

Baby girl is only 18 months old so she doesn't understand that she can't eat certain foods, or why, she just wants to eat everything her sister does. Unless our whole family goes dairy, soy and nut free there's always going to be the possibility she can find some food that she shouldn't eat, so right now it's necessary for me to be the mean mummy and take things off her, until she's old enough to understand how to manage her allergies herself, or hopefully outgrows them. 

On top of all of her food allergies, I have quite severe asthma myself and am allergic to cats and dust so I have to clean like a ninja for my own health too. Did I mention we have an indoor cat and our entire upstairs level is carpet? Not exactly the ideal living situation for an asthmatic. I know I shouldn't have a cat when I'm allergic, but he's soooooo cute and so good with the kids, he's basically our third child.

Pre kids {and cat} I could get away with a light vacuum here and there to keep the dust situation and my asthma under control. Now there's a whole different level of carpet cleaning going on, even when the carpet looks clean to the naked eye I can guarantee if I vacuum there'll be all sorts of dirt coming out of it. Between the kids walking food and dirt up the stairs, the cat molting and general household dust build up, I'm cleaning the carpets almost every single day. All the allergies in this house have turned me into the cleaning fairy I always wished I had.

Even though our whole family is well versed in handling allergies, my kids are still messy like everyone elses. Like most mums, I can plead with them til I'm blue in the face please don't drop anything on the floor, please don't eat that, we don't eat food off the floor etc and they'll still do it. Mess is part of our everyday lives. Unlike most other households however, it can have dire consequences, so I have to be on the ball all the time. If you have friends or relatives with allergies please be mindful when you visit them because they're likely as highly strung as I am. Also please don't be alarmed if you ever see them running around like a headless chook picking up stuff off the floor, it's just what us allergy mums do..

Toni x

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Halloween Toilet Paper Roll Mummies

Do you hoard all the recycling in the hopes of making crafty masterpieces with your kids? I have so many cardboard boxes, empty containers, toilet paper rolls, pieces of used tissue paper and bubble wrap just waiting in my garage for the day they'll be reborn into something amazing. Sometimes that day takes a loooong time to arrive, but I can always find useful ways to reuse recyclables. Read on to find out how to make these really easy Halloween mummies from toilet paper rolls or cardboard tubes.

You and your kids can make them in about 5 minutes and you don't even have to be a crafty mum. They're so simple, my daughter started making them when she was 3 and only needed help gluing on the googly eyes. The rougher they are the better they look in my opinion. Also good news, empty toilet paper rolls should be a readily available craft resource in your household, even if you're not a hoarder of all the things like me.

halloween mummies made from toilet paper rolls and masking tape

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A whole new world of popcorn

Being on a restricted diet is really hard. I've never dieted before in my life and having cut foods for baby girl's allergies for 18 months now I can 100% say I'd never be able to stick to a diet for myself. The only reason I've stuck to my restrictions this long is because it's for my child and seeing her pain free is worth all the inconvenience I'm going through with limited food options.

However there is an unexpected upside, you value food much much more when you can't freely have it. Even better than that, when you can add a food back into your diet, it's like winning the lotto. Thankfully over the last few months we've had a few small wins and we can both now eat rice and corn. Hallelujah 

I know what you're thinking, it's rice and corn calm down, not like it's chocolate Toni. I can assure you after basically living off pasta, meat, restricted veggies and salad for more than 12 months, rice and corn are amazing. They open up a whole new variety of foods and not just stirfry with actual rice {although that's been pretty good too}. Initially I went nuts eating sushi as often as possible, simply because I could, and now I've started a new love affair... with popcorn!

It's funny over the last few months I've become so accustomed to eating the same meals day in and day out I'd forgotten about so many of the foods I loved eating before. Popcorn totally slipped my mind for over a year. I stopped noticing it in the supermarket because I walked straight past that section in the aisle. Now it's permanently back on our shopping list and the girls are super excited for movie nights {well movie days because they go to bed too early at night}. We set up our own home cinema the other day complete with cushion chair aisles, popcorn and {fake} ice-cream.

The other awesome benefit is we now have another snack option for baby girl who's well and truly reached the fussy eating stage. A food refusing toddler who has limited options to begin with = a super stressed out mum. I've spent so many hours over the last few weeks pleading with her to eat her meals or snacks it's not funny. Right now popcorn is one of the only things she always says yes to and eats without a drama. It's surreal to think that last year it would of caused her so much pain and now it's one of her favourite foods. I'm so thankful we've been able to overcome her corn allergy.

What's really cool too is that Cobs popcorn have a new multipack with 10 x 13g snack size packets of popcorn {3 x Cheddar Cheese, 3 x Sea Salt and 4 x Lightly Salted, Slightly Sweet flavours}. After watching her sister eat chips and biscuits {that she can't eat} out of packets for the last year, and begging to have them every single time, she's so excited she can eat something out of her own mini packet. Pretty sure she feels like a bonafide big kid now. The snack packs have been great when we're out and about and they'll be a great lunch box size for when bub starts school next year too.

I only recently discovered there's so many different popcorn flavours available. I naively thought popcorn was just popcorn and maybe you add a bit of butter {not me because I still can't eat it} or salt and that's it. Apparently I've been living under a rock and there's a whole other world of popcorn out there I've been missing out on! I'm making up for it now of course.

We're all split over which are our favourite flavours though. Bub's favourite is Best Ever Butter, because "it tastes just like at the movies" {you can't really go wrong with a classic butter and salt combination}. Their dad keeps swinging between Cheddar Cheese and Best Ever Butter depending which day you ask him {I'm pretty certain he'd eat any popcorn you gave him though}. Baby girl & I are loving Lightly Salted, Slightly Sweet, it's got the savoury goodness of salt then a slightly sweet kick at the end, yum!

Do you love popcorn too?
Could you survive 18 months without it?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was kindly gifted some packs of Cobs popcorn in exchange for this post. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post and all opinions expressed are my own based on our experience with the product. Cobs new Best Ever Butter is available from Woolworths and multipacks are available from Coles.

Linking with Kylie
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Celebrate Halloween with PJ Masks

A few years ago I was very anti Halloween... I'm so scared of anything supernatural and gory it's not funny. Harry Potter scares me, that's how much I don't do supernatural, so the thought of dressing up as a ghost, witch, zombie, or anything with fake blood totally freaks me out. Halloween has never been my cup of tea, however apparently my daughter is the total opposite of me.

Since she was about 3 she started getting into Halloween as it's been gaining more popularity here in Australia. By getting into it I mean she watches cartoons about it and wanted to decorate the house. Each year she gets more and more into it and literally starts asking me from November when it's going to be Halloween again. She wants to go all out these days... decorations, costumes, trick or treating etc. So, I've relaxed my stance a little and we do a few Halloween play activities, and we even dressed up and went to a Halloween party last year.

Of course she wants to repeat it all again this year, but truth be told I wasn't a huge fan of the witch outfits we used last year and the gory kids Halloween costumes still freak me out. Perhaps I'm a bit of a prude, but I don't see the need to introduce young kids to such creepy things. The main reason she loves Halloween is because she gets to dress up and eat lollies, she basically thinks it's just a big dress up party, so that's what we're doing this year. No gory costumes in sight. This year it's all about the PJ Masks!

If you have a child aged 3-6 you're probably well aware of the PJ Masks by now {if not I've put the theme song video below, it'll get stuck in your head, you're welcome}. By day, six-year olds Connor, Amaya and Greg go to school like everyone else. As night falls, they put on their pyjamas, activate their animal amulets and magically transform into superheroes - Catboy, Owlette and Gecko.

Trick or Treat this halloween as Catboy, Owlette or Gecko

The PJ Masks are the perfect kids dress up idea for Halloween because they're night time superheros! They've been favourites in our house for years now with bub first discovering them via YouTube before they became a permanent fixture on ABC Kids. Owlette is her absolute favourite so when she got her very own Owlette costume she was beside herself excited.

Her costume is one of the new PJ Masks Hero Dress Up sets {RRP $39.99}. It's a full body onesie costume and her favourite part is it comes with real wings. The costumes are available in all characters and come with a fabric mask. The sets are available from Target, Big W, Myer, Mr Toys, Toymate, and Toyworld. In the photo above she's wearing the new Owlette costume mask, available separately in all characters from Kmart, Target, Big W, Myer, Mr Toys, Toymate, and Toyworld. 

Each year I always worry about having lollies on hand for trick or treaters. Admittedly this worry is mainly because I remember I only have packets of loose lollies in the cupboard late Halloween night and it's usually too late to run to the shops to find individually wrapped ones. For someone who's usually over prepared for everything, the candy is always my downfall. Not this year though.

This year I'm prepared with a heap of PJ Masks PEZ dispensers. They make the perfect Halloween candy because they're already individually sealed and the kids can keep using them after Halloween is over. Now I just have to make sure the girls don't find them all before Halloween!

PJ Masks PEZ dispensers, Catboy, Owletter and Gecko are available in major retail and department stores for $3. Flavours include strawberyy, lemon, orange, cherry, raspberry, cola and fizzy.

Do you do Halloween at your place? What will your kids be dressing up as?

Toni x

Disclosure - Bub was kindly gifted a costume and some pez for the purpose of this post. 
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Chalk and cheese

The very first thing I noticed when baby girl was born was that she looked almost identical to her big sister. Apart from hair and eye colour, every other feature looked the same. They were almost born at exactly the same weight too {only 50g difference} despite me going a week overdue the second time around. A feeling of calm washed over me as soon as they put her on my chest because it was like meeting someone I already knew. It was all so familiar. 

However, it's become inherently obvious that their personalities and likes/dislikes are completely chalk and cheese. The food they eat, the clothes they like, the toys they like, the way they play, reaching various milestones, learning to talk, the sleep {or lack thereof}... it's all been so different. Which basically means everything that worked the first time around is pretty much irrelevant now.

I'd done this parenting gig almost four years before this little person came into my life, yet I still constantly feel like I know nothing. Nothing. That's a tad disconcerting as a second time mum who should {apparently} have it all figured out.

So what do you do when your second child is so different?

You wing it adapt. Make changes. Try everything, until finally something works. It's basically like being a new mum again and starting from scratch. Fun times!

Take sleep for example, first time around I thought we had a bit of a rough time, but now I know we had it pretty easy. She had her normal unsettled periods, regressions and the poop nights when she was teething or sick, but for the most part she slept through the night from a few months old on her own and in her own bed. I honestly have no idea how that happened because we never sleep trained, never used white noise, never tried getting her attached to a comforter, we never stuck to a strict routine. Our only routine was feed, get into sleeping bag, go to bed. Oh and her muslin wrap became her blankie {purely by chance}. She kind of just fell into her own groove and we ran with it. No such luck with her sister though.

This time around we've tried it all. We swaddled, arms in and arms out, and then tried sleeping bags {she hates them}. We used a dummy, until she rejected it and decided I was her personal dummy instead. I've rocked, shushed and patted for hours in the middle of the night. We tried white noise toys and apps, a lulla doll {this works as a sleep association, but doesn't keep her asleep all night}. We even went to sleep school and tried implementing a routine. No luck. This child was sent to break me I swear. Seems she's a stubborn, independent, free spirit who will only sleep on her terms.

The only thing that's worked to get me a minute amount of broken sleep each night {and stopped me going insane} has been co-sleeping and letting her snuggle against me and feed all night. Now don't get me wrong I love cuddles, and to some extent I think I've become co-dependent needing her next to me at night too, but after 16 months of chronic sleep deprivation something needed to change. It's lovely having snuggles but it's utterly exhausting having zero personal space within a 24 hour period. Times that 24hrs by 16 months and I was seriously beyond touched out.

I thought I'd tried every type of sleep aid available, then I got to see the new Gro company Groromper at the Brisbane bloggers brunch. In simple terms it's like a quilted onesie you can use instead of a sleeping bag, but it has some really cool added features like underarm breathable mesh vents, a reversible zip and foldover grippy foot covers. It's like the best features of a onesie and a sleeping bag all rolled into one. This video probably explains it a lot better than me.

I couldn't put my hand up to try it fast enough, and I'm so glad I did, because my child is now sleeping without me for a few hours a night. Yes I repeat, I can put her down and walk away without her waking up screaming every 10 minutes. It's a bloody miracle.

I think the key is that the Groromper has helped to regulate her body temperature at night, keeping her warm and then helping her cool down through the mesh vents when needed. It's something we've always struggled with as she absolutely hates having anything restricting her legs at night. She screams and kicks off blankets and when I put her in a sleeping bag she flails around like I've just locked her up in a straight jacket, even though her legs can still move around in a bag. The Groromper allows her to have complete movement, including rolling all around the cot {which she does all night long}, but she can't kick it off and the best part is she doesn't feel like I've layered her up in anything. She just thinks the Groromper is her pyjama onesie. 

She was a little wary of it the first 2-3 nights, mainly because I roll the foot covers over so her feet stay warm and she hated that. We sleep in air con though so she has to have her feet covered or she wakes up as soon as she gets cold. Once she accepted that she's grown to love it. In the morning when I take her out of it she grabs it and puts it into her cot and snuggles into it.

We've been using the long sleeve Groromper mostly because 90% of the time we have the aircon on in our room at night so our room sits at about 18 degrees. We'll {hopefully} be moving the girls into a shared bedroom together by the end of the year and that room has no aircon or fan. With summer on it's way I'm glad there's also a short sleeve Groromper available for warmer temperatures, so we can avoid WW3 trying to get her to use sleeping bags again. Thankgod.

Not going to lie, I'm kind of dreading moving them into a shared room because I'm scared her sleep will go to poo again.

At the moment she feeds to sleep initially and wakes once or twice a night for feeds. I feel like we're in a much better place sleep wise {finally}. I can now put her down and know I have at least 2 hours of free time at night, I'd have more if I could keep my eyes open longer. I finally feel like I have a teeny bit of personal space and free time back. I know she's warm or cool enough and I know she can't get tangled up in any blankets. I'm actually so relaxed about her sleep at night I forget to use the video monitor {which is huge given I have major anxiety}. I feel like we've finally found our groove.

Of course that may change again in a few weeks when we try to move both girls into a shared room, but hopefully not. Wish me luck!

Have you had non sleepers too?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was sent a short sleeve and long sleeve Groromper for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed within this post are based on our experience using the Groromper {and my immense sleep deprivation}. I did not receive payment for this review. Stock photo has been used with permission from The Gro Company AUS.