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Jam anyone?

Jam anyone?

Today I was listening to UCB UK and found myself zoning in on something about jam in the news. I know, jam has made the news! Anyway, I googled it and it turns out there is some debate going on in Westminster Hall as to whether or not companies producing low sugar jams should be allowed to call it ‘jam’.

A Lib Dem MP has warned that “I am concerned that this debate may herald the end of the British breakfast as we know it. Reducing permitted sugar levels from 60% to 50% would in time destroy the characteristic quality of British jams, jellies and marmalades, and could mislead consumers.”

However, reducing the minimum level, is in no way telling manufacturers that they have to reduce their sugar levels, and they are free to continue using as much sugar as they wish.
But this is not my point today.

I find myself in utter disbelief this morning that our MP’s are giving their time and energy to debating whether a slightly lower sugar fruit spread should be called jam or not. Really? Is this that important? Are we really going to be ‘confused’ by this change? I’m not even sure if the jam I buy says jam on the label or not, and frankly I don’t care. I buy it because it has more fruit than sugar, and I prefer that as I’m trying to reduce the sugar in my diet. It’s like I call my Dyson a hoover, even though hoover is actually a brand name, and I should probably call it a vacuum cleaner. But who cares? Hoover is much quicker to say than vacuum cleaner. And jam is much quicker to say than ‘high fruit spread’.

I am just gob-smacked that our MP’s are worrying about this, and behaving as though it were of paramount importance to Great Britain as a nation, when we have people living on the streets unable to even afford a jar of jam. Perhaps I should ask a homeless person if they are bothered if they get jam or high fruit spread on the toast that is prepared for them at the House of Bread…

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Honouring your kids through sleep

Honouring your kids through sleep

Yesterday morning, my kids drove me nuts. It was as though every little thing they did was designed to wind me up. From ignoring me, to dropping paint pots on the floor, to screaming at each other and all that goes between, I was really struggling not to lose my temper, and probably did a few times if I’m completely honest. But really, I know the stuff they were doing was just kids being kids.

Yesterday I was tired. It is virtually impossible to be the parent your children deserve when you’ve had too little sleep. That’s not me making excuses, it’s my fault I was tired, and only my fault. I am a person who needs a lot of sleep. I need at least 8hrs to function, but 9hrs is my optimum. It is frustrating needing that much sleep when others seem to thrive on apparently so little. But I know I need a decent amount, so I aim to be in bed by 10pm during the week.

But this week was the first of a new prayer meeting with people I didn’t know, and we stayed chatting God stuff after the meeting until midnight. It was fantastic to get to know these people better, we shared some wonderful, inspiring testimonies and I had a great night. The next day wasn’t too bad, but then I had our first small group meeting of the new term. I had to excuse myself at 10.15pm and headed home. I wasn’t in bed until 11pm. 11pm is not normally a deal breaker, but with the previous night being 12.30am, I was now seriously low on my much needed sleep, and I was taking it out on my beautiful girls.

And then my 3yr old said to me through tear filled eyes “I said to myself I don’t want my mommy, but I do, I really need you to cuddle me”.

I don’t know which part of that sentence was more heartbreaking. The fact that my beautiful little princess thought she had to ask for a cuddle, or the fact that she had told herself she didn’t want me! At that moment my temper gave way to heartache, immense guilt and sadness. I had caused my little girl such upset that she wasn’t sure she wanted me. Her own mother. I held her in my arms and I wept silently as I apologised to her, and tried to soothe her pain.

As I put her to bed last night I prayed that Jesus would heal any wounds I had caused that day, and let no scars remain. Lord, forgive me for the pain that I caused her today.

However much sleep you need, whether it be 6hrs, or 10hrs, let’s try and honour our beautiful little ones by getting enough of it. They deserve the very best of us. And let’s forgive ourselves, as Jesus does, when we are less than perfect at our job. Keep going, tomorrow is another day.

Love, K

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Do it again, Lord

I just read this (below). I am not American, but we all feel their pain, and it inspired me so I thought I would share it. I hope it inspires you too…

A 9/11 prayer from Max Lucado…
We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, “What a horrible dream.”

But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.

And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here last Tuesday, you saw there that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the smoke eclipsed our morning, so the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Christians are praying with Jews. Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you’ve used her to heal a hurting world.

Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, Amen.

-Max Lucado, 9/11 prayer

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Internet addiction, smart phones and being lonely

Internet addiction, or just too wired?

A week or so ago I wrote a post on being ‘un-wired’, and have since sold my iPhone and got a super basic budget phone in my attempt to be more present when I’m with my kids, and not constantly surfing the internet.

So how am I doing? If I’m honest, not so well… I’d love to tell you it’s been super easy since giving up my iPhone, and I’m no longer finding myself losing hours in the world-wide web, but that’s simply not true. I am however finding myself frustrated. There are times when I will be watching a film and think, ‘who is that actress?’ and normally I would just hop on to the IMDB app and find out, thus putting my frustrations to rest. But I can’t now. And the other day I was walking past a house that was for sale, and I was wondering how much the asking price was. Again, I’d normally hop on to the Rightmove app and find out. But I can’t now.

The question I have been asking myself is, have I made a mistake, does a smart phone just make life easier? Or, do I just need to accept that I don’t really need to know these things, and when I do really want to know something I can just get off my bum and look on the desktop computer? I haven’t really decided what my answer to these questions are. Do I want to be able to sit with my kids and do my surfing whilst I snuggle them, thus not really being with them? But then, they are watching tv anyway during most snuggle time? Or is it better to not be with them at all, and be sat in another room at a computer?

The best thing of course, and the aim of all this, would be to simply not be online as much, whether it be on a mobile, or on a computer. Am I achieving that? I’m not sure… I never really timed how long I was on for before. And I think it depends how many questions I have at any particular time as to how much I go online. For example, right now, I’m trying to find ways to eat for energy, something I’m particularly low on at the moment. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever looked into healthy eating on-line, but it’s a flipping minefield!!! If you look at enough different ways of eating you can end up COMPLETELY fried and more confused than when you began. But anyway, I digress. My point is, if there is something I am researching, I’m likely to be online a lot, whether that be on a phone or on a computer, it probably amounts to the same.

One thing that has been lovely this last week, is going shopping! Of course I can still shop online, and I have done for things which aren’t readily available on the high street. I’m not really sure what prompted me to go into town so much this week, as I almost never shop on the high street, but it’s been lovely and simple to just go out, and come back with what you need! No packaging to have to recycle, not waiting in for the postman. Just the lovely simplicity of the good old days. I used to go shopping with my friends every Saturday when I was at college. I’d forgotten how nice it is to be out and about, and go to a coffee shop. It made me realise that I’ve actually become a bit of a recluse! The internet has removed my need to go out, so I only really leave the house to go to the park, or do things for the kids. And that can be quite lonely even if you are an introvert like me. I don’t think I really realised this until now. I’m a person too, and I have needs. And if I don’t look after myself and my emotional needs, I will not be in any fit state to look after the needs of my babes.

Will I go back to a smart phone? I’m not sure. There are aspects I do find genuinely useful, like maps when you’re out and about and lost. And music, and knowing my cycle, and being able to get phone numbers online when you need to make a call to the garage and you forgot to write down their number. Stuff like that. But the question I need to ask myself, is can I trust myself not to get sucked back in to doing the stuff I don’t NEED to do, thus losing precious time with my girls. I can’t answer that yet, and will need to think and pray on this.

So, was there a point to all this, you ask? Yes, well, sort of. I think the point is, I need to learn to accept that I don’t need to know everything right now, or some things even at all, and that getting out and about every day, not just to the park, is important for my sanity. And if  don’t learn to accept that? Then while I’m busy scouring the web for answers to less than important questions, life might just be passing me by.

Here’s to a being a little bit less wired this week!

Love, K

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Translucent eggshell face powder experiment

Eggshell translucent face powder experiment

So, today I finally got round to making my eggshells into a face powder. A bit weird I know, but hear me out. I got the idea from Crunchy Betty, and she seems to think it eliminates shine and gives a nice even tone to the skin. I’m a big fan of Crunchy Betty, and I hate chucking away all my eggshells, even if they do go in the compost. So I figured I’d give it a try.

First things first, I removed all the membrane from the shells, this took ages! Then I washed them thoroughly, and then I washed them again. If I’m going to put something that came out of a chicken on my face, then I need to know it really is very, very clean. Then after washing them, I boiled them for 5 minutes to sterilise them. I did think afterward, it might be simpler just to make some hard-boiled eggs and then peel them. This would probably eliminate quite a few stages. Anyway, after I boiled them I left them to dry overnight.

I put the dry eggshells into a pestle and pounded them. I ended up with scratchy tiny shards of eggshell. It was definitely NOT a fine powder. So I stirred a bit more. After several episodes of walking away, and then returning to do a bit more a couple of hours later, I decided it was as good as I was going to get it, and sieved the scratchy bits out. I was left with, dust! Which I must admit, had a faintly eggy smell. My husband couldn’t smell anything, but his sense of smell leaves a little to be desired.

Time to try it out. I bit the bullet and smeared a bit of this fine translucent powder on my face, trying not to think about where it came from. It actually felt surprisingly silky. So I put a bit more on. I’m now grinning from ear to ear and smearing this stuff all over my face. I asked hubby how I looked, and he said ‘matte’ and went back to chopping veg. My own fault really for trying to ask a man about make-up!

Hubby smelt my cheek and apparently it smells of nothing. Not the best person to ask, but I’m not getting any eggy whiffs so I’m happy. And although it doesn’t look to have added any colour to my fave, it evened out the tone beautifully and did minimise the odd hormonal blemish. I am shine free, which for me is incredibly rare, and I have a completely natural base that I can use daily without concern of chemicals.

So the verdict? I love it. Go on, give it a try!

Love, K

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How to cope when your baby has eczema – Part 4

Today I want to go over with you everything I haven’t mentioned that helped with our little girls eczema. This is fairly wide ranging, and so I hope it doesn’t end up being daunting. Ava was sensitive to a lot of things, and your child may not be susceptible to all of these things. These are really just to give you suggestions of things you could try if you’ve run out of ideas. Please don’t feel you have to do all of them, and certainly don’t try them all at once, as you’ll end up feeling totally overwhelmed!

So here goes…

1. SOAPBear in mind that whatever you wash your hands with, will transfer to your baby when you touch them, so make sure you wash your hands after doing the washing up, and use a gentle soap. I do not believe in these antibacterial soaps. They are so strong they strip all the good bacteria from your skin. And it’s really not necessary to be that clean, even with a baby around. I really believe that our kids will have stronger immune systems if they are allowed to come into contact with the odd germ now and again. Now there are some schools of thought that ‘real’ soap is the best thing for eczema. By real, I mean castille. Castille soap is detergent free, and made the traditional way. They first came up with detergents when, during the war, the lads on the submarines were having to wash with cold water and the soap was leaving scum everywhere. It might surprise you to know that virtually all soaps available to buy in shops contain detergents. Some people are sensitive to detergents, hence why often people suggest real soap for those with sensitive skin. However, this is a bad idea if you live in a hard water area as you will end up with soap residue remaining on your skin and causing further irritation. And even if you don’t, soap can cause it’s own allergic reactions, just like detergents. Not saying they’re a bad idea, but they don’t suit us. We use Rhassoul clay as a soap substitute. I make a mix of 1 part clay, and 2 parts boiled water, leave it so soak, and pop it in a soap pump. We find it suit our skin. Alternatively you could try a ‘natural’ liquid soap. I use the term natural loosely as it’s not really natural, but the detergents in them might be made from something a bit closer to nature, and they tend to be a bit more sensitive. I have also used raw honey, which is naturally antibacterial, but won’t strip the good bacteria. But it can be a little sticky, and although I do love it, hubby can’t get his head around it, bless him! I’ve also used soapwort tea, and I like this too, but it’s very runny… A bit like, well, tea!

2. SHAMPOO
Just like with your soap, whatever you wash your hair in, baby will come into contact with. Changing from detergent shampoo gave amazing results overnight. Goodness knows what they put in those bottles! Going ‘no poo’ was initially a disaster for me. I walked around like a greasy mess hoping and praying that eventually my scalp would regulate it’s oils. It didn’t! I will probably be writing a whole post on going no poo, so I won’t go into it in great depth here as there is just too much to say. But consider alternatives to off the shelf shampoo. Oh, I can’t leave you with nothing, try Rhassoul clay for a start, and come back when I’ve written my no poo post!

3. BEWARE OF ECZEMA CREAMS
My doctor tried to get me to use every cream available on Ava before the health visitor finally agreed that actually my homemade stuff was working far better. Ava reacted to a lot of the prescribed eczema creams. Her skin was happiest when slathered with unrefined sunflower oil. I find unrefined Shea butter great too. If it really is unrefined it should be thick, almost hard, and cream not white. What oil you use is up to you and is down to what suits your baby’s skin. If you want to thicken it up try melting some cocoa butter or shea butter in with the oil. Or some beeswax. My only advice here is try one item at a time, and keep your cream basic. 2 or 3 ingredients at the most. Make sure your oil is unrefined and unfiltered, and cold pressed. Organic is even better if you can afford it. Expensive organic eczema creams are not worth the money in my experience, as oil works equally well and is tons cheaper. And since you’re going to be using it by the bucket load, you don’t want to be scrimping on applications due to cost. You need to apply whatever moisturiser you are using on dry areas at least 4 times a day.

4. BABY WIPESI tried natural ones, sensitive ones, eco ones, making my own with a variety of ingredients. What I found best was just dry wipes run under the cold tap and rung out so they were damp. You can buy re-useable ones online, amazon have some good deals, but my personal fave was the Pampers cotton soft sheets. Basically just baby wipes without the chemicals. I know washable wipes are better for the environment, but you have enough to contend with, so don’t feel bad about using disposables. You’re not wonder woman!

5. SURFACE SPRAY
This is important when you get to the weaning stage, as your baby will be dribbling a lot and making the table or highchair tray wet, which makes the spray transfer onto their arms. Took me ages to figure out this was why Ava’s arms were red up to her elbows (I used to roll her sleeves up to her elbows). I now use a homemade spray, which is just a tablespoon of natural Borax, mixed with 2 cups of boiled water. But you could use Bicarbonate of Soda, or Citric Acid instead. Once it’s cooled, pop it in your old washed out spray bottle and you’re set. This works great to clean the bathroom too by the way. No need for all these expensive cleaning sprays. Get those nasty chemicals out of your home and you’ll all benefit!

6. TOOTHPASTE
This might seem odd, but if your little one is anything like Ava was, then they’ll love sticking their fingers in your mouth! Used to drive me mad!!! But it also led me to wonder if this was having anything to do with her fingers being so raw. Toothpastes are filled with nasty detergents, SLS, and poisonous flouride. I don’t really want that in my mouth any more than I want it on my baby’s fingers. Some great alternatives I’ve found are Earthpaste (made from clay), raw honey is fantastic for your teeth and actively fights gum disease, and a dab of honey daily on a cavity can heal it up (it must be raw though). I know a lot of people use bicarb and salt, but I can’t abide the taste, or be bothered with mixing it up each morning. You can also use coconut oil, which is highly antibacterial and naturally healing. But I don’t like the taste of coconut so that rules that one out for me. My personal favourite is an ionic toothbrush (I use Soladey) which acts like a magnet to plaque when wet, followed by natural floss, and honey mouthwash (just swill honey round your mouth until it mixes with your saliva). My teeth have never felt so clean, no more morning breath or fuzzy mouth feeling!

7. DON’T BATH MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK
We’re obsessed with washing these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ok with being stinky, that’s just not nice. But babies don’t sweat like adults. They don’t need bathing every day. Just a wipe of their face and hands, and any cute folds of skin where milk might be hiding is enough for each day. A weekly bath used to be the tradition. Now many people bath their kids daily. Not only will it dry your babies skin, but it’s mega bad for the environment too. With Ava, the more dry we kept her, the better her skin behaved. With one exception…

8. GO SWIMMINGWe found this out by accident, but it turns out chlorine could just be the cure you’ve been looking for. We put off swimming with Ava for ages as my husband worried the chlorine in the water might aggravate her skin (he worries about a lot of things). But then we went on holiday to a Center Parks type place, and as it was rainy, there wasn’t much else to do but swim. After the first swim, she came out looking like a different baby. Almost all the angry redness had gone. After the second swim that afternoon she was perfect! I looked into this when we got home and found that an expert dermatologist had done some research on the subject, and apparently the chlorine kills the germs on the skin, allowing it to heal. Now the advice is no more than 15 minutes at a time as after that it could have a drying effect. But we were in the pool for hours with no detrimental effects. The eczema did come back once we got home, so maybe a trip to the pool every couple of weeks might have been a good idea!

9. PRAYAbove all else, trust in God to heal your child. Take every available opportunity for prayer, and accept every offer. I know it is hard, when the first, second, third and fourth healing prayers have shown no visible results. But that fifth one might just be the one that ends this struggle. I prayed for Ava day and night, for 18 months. And then one prayer was said that changed everything, overnight. It really does happen, believe me. Hold on, believe. Trust just that little bit more. Step out in faith once again. And believe. He is your Lord, your Saviour, your protector, your friend. And He sees your pain. He feels it too. And He feels the pain of your little one. He doesn’t want them to live like this, He doesn’t want you to live like this, and He is on your side. Both of your sides. Just believe a little bit longer. Your almost there.

This is the last part of these posts. I hope it is of help. I hope it helps you! If you want prayer for your little one, I am offering. Just put your name, and the name of your baby in the comments, and I promise you I will pray for you. And if you’re not comfortable putting your name, God knows who you are and I trust Him to lighten your load as you read this. May these words bring healing to the families of those who read them, and the hearts of all who are burdened.

Blessings and love, K x

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How to cope when your baby has eczema – Part 3

How to cope when your baby has eczema - Part 3

This is Ava (on the right). Just look at her perfect skin! And before you say it, I know that a Fab ice lolly is not the picture of organic natural living. But when you’re child has spend almost 2 years being unable to eat out of the house, and being denied every possible treat, it’s my greatest delight to be able to say yes to that cheeky little grin! And I hope saying yes never stops bringing me joy!

So, back to dealing with eczema. I said today I would talk about food, and so I will. The doctors told me to start with things like chicken, carrot and rice, as apparently they are highly unlikely to cause a reaction. But they did. In fact, virtually everything caused a reaction in Ava. The foods that were safe in the early days were pork, cabbage and potato. Although potato did seem to make her grumpy and withdrawn, we had to give it to her as she needed the calories. Black pepper caused a reaction. Black pepper!!! And we couldn’t even have apple anywhere near her food. Absolutely everything had to be cooked separately.

I began to question whether it was genuinely intolerances or if there was something else going on with the immune system. But the doctors refused to test as they said it would be obvious if she had some sort of immune disorder. I remain convinced that there was something not quite right. No one can be intolerant to that many foods surely? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, but something wasn’t right.

So how did we combat this? I started doing a LOT of research into certain food groups, and what I learned is this:

1. BUY ORGANIC
Organic foods are packed with nutrients, are easier to dijest and are far better for you. Non-organic foods have a substantially lower nutritional value, and are filled with harmful chemicals. These chemicals are designed to kill living organisms. Chemicals like that have no place being inside the human body. They can only cause harm. And don’t listen to any nonsense about the dosage being too low to cause harm in humans. They have not been around long enough to know this, and the anecdotal evidence suggests we should avoid these at all costs. When we switched to organic, the difference in all of us was marked. I would also mention that this is a particularly important point when it comes to dairy. Non-organic dairy is pumped full of hormones which can cause a huge imbalance in our bodies. And imbalance is not what you want in a body with eczema.

2. MAKE IT FROM SCRATCH
Organic brands are only required something like 30% of the ingredients to be organic in order to use the term ‘organic’ on the label. And there is currently no requirement to list ALL ingredients on the packaging as long as they are under a certain percentage of the total quantity. So the only way you can KNOW what you are eating, is if you buy it yourself. And while we’re on the subject of packaged foods, do not buy tinned foods. Recent reports indicate that the lining of most tins (including tomatoes, beans and fizzy drinks) contain a resin that leaches a toxic chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA), into food.

3. INTRODUCE FOODS SUPER SLOW
I know it’s a pain, and we all want to get through the weaning process quickly. But if your baby has eczema, it is worth proceeding with caution. I ignored this advice, and lived to regret it when I had to go right back to square 1. My advice is 1 food every 2 weeks. This was also the advice of our dietician. Over the course of 2 weeks you can really see if a food is having a negative effect on the eczema.

4. AVOID PROCESSED FOODS LIKE THE PLAGUE
I know this is kind of mimicking ‘make it from scratch’ but it’s so important it’s worth saying twice. Don’t use powdered baby rice, it’s full of rubbish and additives. Yes, even the organic brands! And a pork chop is far better for your baby than bacon, which is packed full of nitrates and additives. Ava reacted to bacon, so I assumed she had an issue with pork , but she was fine with roast pork! Stick to fresh whole foods and your baby will be far better off.

5. VARIETY ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST THING
Of course we all know that getting a varied diet with all the colours of the rainbow gives us a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals and is great for our health, right? Not always. Although on paper this is true, in practice when your child is struggling to accept certain foods without suffering a worsening of eczema symptoms, it is surely better for their wellbeing to allow a more basic diet for a little while. When we limited our daughters foods to the ones we knew she could tolerate, she was so much happier and became more full of life. Studies have shown that people who eat healthily, but are lonely and unhappy, die younger than those with unhealthy lifestyles who have a full social calendar. So to quote John Ortberg “it’s better to eat pizza with friends, than to eat brocolli alone”. Now I’m not suggesting you give your baby pizza, after all we are trying to build the immune system here (mind you if it’s homemade, and your baby can tolerate wheat and organic dairy then why not?), my point is that it is important that your child is happy. Stress makes eczema worse. So let’s make them laugh and not worry if they can’t eat a rainbow of vegetables yet, it will come in time.

6. WATCH WHAT YOU WASH UP WITH
Bear in mind that whatever you wash your dishes with, a small amount of it will be injested, and a large amount of it will come into contact with your babies skin. If your baby cannot tolerate gluten, bear in mind that a lot of washing up liquids contain gluten. Crazy, but true! If you’re not sure, check with the manufacturer. Or if you live in a hard water area, try using Dr.Bronners unfragranced castille soap to wash your dishes. Don’t even bother if you live in a hard water area as your dishes will be covered in scum as I found out. You can however, if you’re really comitted, use lemon juice and salt, or Soapwort Tea to wash dishes. If you want the recipe for that email me or ask in the comments section. Tip: Bottles of blowing bubbles really aggravated Ava’s skin, so once I had a washing up liquid I knew she was ok with, I washed out an old bubble pot and filled it with our washing up liquid. Worked brilliantly and no more upset from not being able to play with bubbles.

So, I think that’s it on food, and food related bits. Tomorrow will be the last part of this series of posts, and I will be covering all the other things I haven’t mentioned that we found made a difference. If you have any questions please do get in touch.

Love, K

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How to cope when your baby has eczema – Part 2

Eczema - Part 2

A bit of a weird image for a post about eczema, I know. But what I have learned over the last 18 months is that nature really is incredible. The design of this planet really is perfect. Every single thing we need is provided for in nature. It’s almost like we have this awesome creator who planned for every eventuality…

I spent years buying shampoo’s to make my hair shiny, soft and silky. And creams to make my combination skin appear ‘normal’. And all this time I could have been spending a fifth of the cost and achieving perfect results. And I only figured this out because I had a baby who seemed to react to everything that came into contact with here skin. But I’m so grateful to have learned these things, even if the process was jolly painful. So here and now I am going to begin to share some of these wonderful secrets with you. Starting with some of my best learned knowledge about dealing with eczema.

CAVEAT: Everybody’s skin is different, and we all behave differently. There are no rules to this or perfect solutions (other than miraculous healing), so these pointers are just suggestions, things that I found eased my babies suffering. I hope they help you too.

1. NEVER TRY TWO THINGS AT ONCE
This is really, really, REALLY important! It will drive you absolutely nuts trying to figure out which thing made the eczema worse, or better if you break this rule.

2. GIVE IT TWO WEEKS
Eczema is a funny beast. It comes and go and ebbs and flows and external factors (like the sand from a sand pit) can have an effect, and unless you give each new thing time, you won’t know for sure whether it is having any effect or not. Obviously if you think the new thing may be causing a very bad reaction, cut it out, and try again when the skin has calmed down.

3. DO NOT SHY AWAY FROM STEROIDS
No one likes the idea of using steroid creams on a baby, and if you’re anything like me you won’t like the idea of using steroid creams on adults either, so this title seems to go totally against everything I stand for and believe in. But when your child is suffering you need to fix that. Of course getting to the root of the problem is the ultimate aim, but in the meantime, let them be comfortable. The skin is its own best defence system, it is a superb natural barrier to the outside world. But when it is broken, its defences are down. Give the skin the chance to repair, and it’s starts to fight off irritants all on its own. I learned to accept the use of steroid creams the really hard way, and had to have my baby admitted to hospital because of it. Please don’t make the same mistake as me, I know we don’t like it, but sometimes there really is no other option.

4. WASHING POWDER
This may sound crazy obvious, but what guide about easing eczema would be complete without mentioning washing powder. I tried soapnuts, reported to be great for eczema, and I know others have had great results on this. But personally I have found that eczema, particularly infected eczema, needs to be VERY clean. And in a hard water area like ours, soapnuts just don’t get things truly clean. I’m not saying rule them out, by all means try them, but don’t rule them in just because they’re natural and supposed to be good. I tried Eco-Balls, and I had some degree of success with these, but again, nothing ever seemed really clean and sweaty sports clothes just didn’t smell clean. And if it doesn’t smell clean, then maybe some germs remain, which isn’t good near broken skin. I have also tried soapwort (a herb/weed you can grow in the garden) tea to wash clothes, and this does seem to work, although whites were always a little grey. Fairy Non-Bio did suit Ava (I know it doesn’t suit everyone), but I was not happy about the eco credentials of Fairy. But I’ve had to learn that being green comes second to my daughters health and wellbeing. I finally settled on my own recipe made with borax (a mineral mined from the ground), citric acid (from lemons), and sodium percarbonate (oxygen bleach). I know it’s not strictly natural, but it’s the best I could do given her clothes needed to be super clean. It works great in hard water, it’s cheap as chips and is better for the environment than shop bought detergents. I may go back to soapwort now that Ava is healed. We’ll see. If you are blessed with soft water you could try a liquid castille soap like Dr.Bronners. I hear they work great in soft water.

5. FABRICS, CARPETS AND SOFT TOYS
It took ages before I realised that my wool cardigan was making my babies face raw. You see so many other things affected her, I never even thought to consider the fabric in my clothes. We found that wool, polyester and a host of other fabrics irritated her skin. The only fabric that we found to be safe in the early days was cotton. It’s fairly easy to buy 100% cotton baby clothes. There is a reason for this. It is seen to be the safest choice for a baby’s delicate skin. It’s a little more tricky to find 100% cotton adult clothes, but it can be done with a little effort. It’s also worth mentioning that our carpet made her hands and cheeks so sore. Now, I don’t know if that was the chemicals in the carpet, or the carpet fibres, or even dust mites. But whatever, when we took up all downstairs carpets and stopped letting her upstairs, she improved immeasurably. We also removed all soft toys, and replace them with 100% cotton ones that were machine washable. Again, harder to find, but totally worth doing. Alternatively just don’t allow soft toys for the time being. Sounds harsh, but this really did make a big difference with Ava.

6. PROBIOTICS
I cannot begin to express to you my love for probiotics. I am not going to go into depth on this right now as I could probably write an entire blog about the wonders of probiotics. For months I read about other parents raving about the effect of probiotics on their babies eczema, but I just kept thinking, if I can just eliminate all the causes, then we won’t need probiotics. But here’s the thing in really basic terms. Eczema is related to a poorly functioning immune system. Processed foods damage the delicate gut flora balance. Unless your baby never had formula milk, food out of a can, or any food that isn’t straight from the field so to speak, their gut flora balance is probably off kilter. If your gut flora balance is out of wack, it has a negative effect on your immune system. In my humble, non-expert opinion, having seen the effect on my baby, I think that EVERYONE with eczema or food intolerances, could benefit from taking probiotics. We now get ours through natural unflavoured yoghurt which we eat by the bucket load. But I can highly recommend Udo’s Choice Infant Blend. No doubt there are other good ones. but this is the one we used for Ava, and we used the highest dose recommended on the bottle. Tip: Do not stir into hot food or it will kill the bacteria making a rather expensive, but useless powder. Do not expect overnight results, this is a process of strengthening the bodies own defences, not a quick fix. But persevere, it’s worth it.

Ok, I’m tired and that’s probably enough for one day. Tomorrow I will try to cover food (that’s an immense subject and will probably take a whole post). I hope this is useful.

Do you have any favourite tips for dealing with eczema? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Love, K

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How to cope when your baby has eczema – Part 1

How to cope when your baby has eczema

Looking at this photo still brings a tear to my eye. It’s not the worst photo I have, but some of them are too gruesome to put online. My baby has been fully healed now, and she has the most beautifully soft alabaster skin I have ever seen. Not even a memory of the eczema remains. But the scars are still there in my heart. I still shed a tear (of joy) when I see her eat, and know there will be no reaction. You see not only did she have eczema, but she had severe food intolerances and allergies as well. There were only 4 foods she could safely eat between the ages of 6 and 12months.

I know the heartache, stress and pain having a baby with severe eczema causes. I have lived through the sleepless nights when the heat makes the itching unbearable. I have argued with countless specialists who time and time again told me that food cannot effect eczema. I have had my baby admitted to hospital when the eczema became unbearable. And I have fought on her behalf with every ounce of energy I had left to find a cure, to fix what was broken. And I have cried out in helpless desperation to Jesus to please fix his darling Ava. I know what you are going through. It’s ok, you are not alone.

Ava is now two years old. She has been fully healed (more on that another time), and I no longer have to spend every waking moment trying to find a cure. I now have time to think about me, for the first time in 18 months. I’m not sure that I like it… I have spent so much time putting me at the back of the queue, I’m not even sure who I am anymore. And that’s a scary place to be for someone who has always known exactly who they are and what they want from life. But that is a journey I must walk now, and no doubt I will talk to you more about this over the coming weeks and months, but that is not want I want to talk to you about today.

For 18 months, although Ava was gaining weight and growing, she was not thriving. According to the medical profession she was fine. But I am talking to you as her mother and I am telling you, she was not thriving. Her fingernails never needed cutting. Her hair barely grew. She was not an unhappy child, and we do have photos of her smiling, but she was not a happy child either. Her speech developed much later than her older sister, she moved later, crawled later, walked later. As her mother, I knew her better than anyone, and each day I would think to myself ‘this is not walking in the fullness of life that God has for us’. It was heartbreaking.

Over the 18 months Ava had eczema, I left no stone unturned in the hunt for answers, cures, prevention and any way of lessening her pain. I learned a LOT. Some things I learned you will find on the internet if you search long and hard. Some you will not. But I don’t want you to have to spend years learning how to manage this until it either goes away or gets healed. So I am going to put all I have learned on here.

This is already a fairly long blog post (apologies), so I am going to make this a 2 or 3 (or 4) part post, depending on how much I ramble on. I’m sorry if you are reading this today and are desperate for help. But I will be doing part 2 tomorrow, so hang on, it won’t be long. And if you want prayers, please leave a comment below and I will hold you in my prayers. In the meantime, may God bless you and your babies, and anyone else suffering with eczema. You have my love, my empathy, and my hope.

Love, K

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The unwired mom challenge

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So, a couple of weeks ago Sarah Mae started a challenge called The Unwired Mom 14 Day Challenge. Now I know I’m a little off the mark with this one, but just because it’s officially finished doesn’t mean we can’t still do the challenge. And I’m going to do it, starting… well as soon as my new no-nonsense-run-of-the-mill-none-smart phone arrives! I promise to let you know when that happens and when I am starting.

Sarah has written an ebook called The Unwired Mom, which I am hoping to read soon, and if you’re interested it’s available through her website and on Amazon. But she also wrote an article entitled Trying to Live True (Why I’m Giving Up My iPhone) which had a profound effect on me. You see, I recently tried to give up my iPhone. Well, actually it was probably almost a year ago. I bought a basic phone, sold my iPhone, and away I went.

Perhaps I should explain to you exactly why I tried to give up my iPhone… I was constantly on it. Shopping for things I could ill afford, browsing, reasearching, email, facebook, anything I could do really that allowed me to escape from the exhaustion of real life. But it left my babies with an only ever slightly present mom, and left me totally fed up at the end of each day feeling I had achieved absolutely nothing. Of course each new day I would convince myself that I would not do the same thing. And then, I would just check that alert, oh and just look into that thing I wanted to know about, and just put these things in my Amazon shopping basket for later, and… Oh, the day has gone again!

You see, for right or wrong, I seem to have very little willpower when it comes to the internet. And my iPhone simply serves to feed my lack of willpower. It’s like a drug I know is bad for me, and will ultimately leave me feeling worse, but I just can’t kick the habit.

So I gave up my iPhone, for about 2months. I know, I know, I’m rubbish! But being rubbish at giving up something, is no reason to stop trying. And it’s that attitude that helped me to quit smoking (that, and Allen Carr’s The Easy Way). I thought after going without it for two months, that I was now used to living without it, and could therefore only use it for the really useful bits, like maps when I’m lost etc. But it was a slippery slope and I’m now right back to where I started. So, I’m trying again!

And while I’m on the subject, I don’t particularly like technology anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have a phone for emergency use. I’m glad I have a car so I can see my lovely mom. I’m glad I have my very old computer from when I ran a business so I can write this blog and hopefully someday my book. And I’m sure there are loads of other things I’m glad we have too but that is not my point. I don’t like that everything has to be electronic these days. So after my unwired challenged, I am going to be attempting a semi-un-technologied challenge. But more on that another time!

Anyway, take a look at Sarah’s blog on being unwired, and ask yourself honestly whether you might need to consider taking the challenge yourself. And let’s see how happy we can make our beautiful little treasures, and ourselves. I think we could all benefit from being a little more un-wired!

Love, K