Tag Archives: family health

R3000 Challenge: I’m in trouble… 

YOI! I’m in trouble. I did a quick shop yesterday. (I’m surprised at how often I need to go to the shops, as it turns out – 5ppl can eat quite a lot).

I spent another R300, which, in my vague calculation (still unsure of total GFC order) leaves me around R600 for the rest of the month. 😳 I have meat, and staples. But today my confidence may have superseded the reality of my situation because I might have made some rash decisions.

I bought 2 x 3kg bags of butternut. Why 2? Did I need 2? I’m not so sure. I also needed tea. So I bought a box, of 107 teabags. Do I need all 107 teabags? Can I even drink that much in 15 more days? Not a chance. But the bulk buyer in me came to the party.

The saver came to the party too and I couldn’t refuse the Jungle Oats on sale, nor the Bubbly chocolate. If Bubbly is ever on sale, it’s almost sinful to say no. Surely? So I caved, and as I grabbed two slabs off the shelf I thought twice about my budget. And naively took the hit. 

I seeeeeeriously need to tighten the purse strings. Because I have a birthday boy coming up, and cake (and school party treats) will be a necessity shortly.

RIGHT! Two points that have been raised by numerous readers: FREEZING GLASS JARS.

Yes, I too believed one could never freeze glass, but, it turns out you can. A friend showed me or else I would’ve been way too scared to try. They must be decent glass jars and you must be sensible. Don’t freeze HOT food, straight from the oven into the freezer, and take care when defrosting. Don’t take it from the freezer and pop it straight in the microwave/oven. Go easy on your glass.

I buy my glass jars from Bonpak in Prime Park, Diep River. They’re the same size and shape as the Oh Mega Nut Butter jars.


A friend messaged me today, and she was reading my mind. Her message was as follows:

I love the challenge blah blah because… you “buy what you need, no need to overdo elaborate meals EVERY night, good for the hips, good for the world / enviro (cause not over consuming in this consumer crazy society etc etc). Every time I have made my “normal” purchases I think of you and how you’re exercising such restraint and it makes me see the “normal” purchase as a super spoil.”

Someone else (talking about something similar but different) spoke of our consumer culture like this: shopping (unnecessarily, in our case maybe for food/eating) is a way of “filling voids, eradicating boredom, fostering laziness, thwarting creativity, not to mention draining our bottom line“.

I sometimes imagine asking someone from the early 1900’s to watch our western culture. And I wonder how sensible popping into the same shop every 2nd day would seem? Especially in today’s unbelievably demanding lifestyle, when we don’t actually have the time to spare? Does buying a takeaway coffee look cool, indulgent or irresponsible? Is it a prerequisite to your morning? (Coffee is ABSOLUTELY a prerequisite to mine, and I thank the Good Lord for the creamy sweet nectar every morning as I sip it). Pre-cooked meals? Are they convenient, or necessary, or have we barely stopped to consider the joy and creativity involved in cooking we’re blindly robbing ourselves of? Nooooooo judgement here guys – I’m asking myself these exact questions… (and I could’ve fueled a small country on the amount of take away coffee I had last month…)

What is food? What have we made it? Where have we been sold a lemon by society? I’m ALL about good food. I’ve said this already. I love what it represents; different textures and colours, what humans are able to create with micro greens and edible flowers, the complexity of flavours and beauty and satisfaction in a delicately prepared meal. But when did we put it on autopilot?

My Summer Must Have

Summer has hit Cape Town hard! It is hot, and being post-partum, I’m feeling it. Like feeeeeling it. Drought aside, it’s awesome! The sun is bright, Christmas is in the air, it’s time for early morning runs and drinking wine at sunset. Watermelon, grapes, evening concerts, flip flops and sunnies are all a go. But the mozzies. THE MOZZIES.

No idea why God created them. I’ll ask Him one day. Defenseless little Brea is being chowed. Poor thing, she is following in her brother footsteps. Last year I took my son to the doctor thinking he may have chicken pox, but no – it was just mozzies. That’s how bad it is this side guys – it’s BAD.

It was roughly 2 years ago, I put a message out on Facebook saying something along the lines of “Hey yo Cape Townians, hit me up with some natural insect repellent…” (maybe a little less gansta). And it was then that Pure Beginnings entered our world. A friend told me about their insect repellent stick and I have been a RAVING fan ever since. If you know me at all this is not new news to you.

So here is my one and only defense of these wicked, desperately-unwanted buzzing pests. I have a tube of Pure Beginnings Insect Repellent on hand – ALWAYS.

This product is so gentle I rub it on her face. It is made with citronella, lemon eucalyptus, neem & lemon bush. It’s 100% natural, and naturally repels insects and is DEET FREE, so is safe to use on babies and kids.

Pure Beginnings have recently launched a new product – the Insect Repellent Spray – which I haven’t tried yet, but cannot wait to get my hands onto. Same as spray on sun creams – you must ensure the child does not breathe it in, which is why having both (spray and rub) is pure genius.

When we were renovating earlier this year, my dad (who is also one to get completely chowed by mozzies) would spray about an entire can of Tabbard on himself every night and hubby and I could smell this poison-like-stuff a mile away. Urgh. I’m so so so relieved I can use something safe, natural and most importantly EFFECTIVE on our tiny little precious baby girl.

Not to terrify you but…

Sometimes I think that other moms must look at me all like “she’s so overboard on her stainless steel sippy cups, and her glass mason jars and her kids’ fabric snack bags, and her vegan nailpolish”, and sometimes, I wonder if I’m a little over the top myself. Then I read something like this (below) and I’m reminded that I’m NOT and that in fact, there is MORE I can do. Yes. I know. Because while, yeah, this requires extra thought, time, patience, and energy – I’m driven. I’m inspired, I want to do this.

kids sitting on beach

The world is changing (hellllooooo, Trump is in office?) and we are changing too. We are evolving, and not in the right way. We’ve all heard of BPA and phthalates and their dangers, but really… we don’t all have time to consider those things and their negative consequences with the millions of thoughts running through our heads on a minute by minute basis… It takes serious conviction and intentionality.

The more research I do, the more I learn, the more important it is. The way the world is changing is bringing with it terrifying truths such as hormone disruption in kids. Now, I could say that my journey towards green-ness came from my concern for the environment, but I’d be lying. It all happened after I had kids. And that is why THIS scares me so much.

Read the full article here – this calls for change.

Avoiding Hormone-Disrupting Substances is Crucial for Children and Adults Alike:

While young girls may show obvious signs of exposure to hormone-disrupting substances via early puberty, other signals are more insidious and may not show up until a disease is already present. Here are 11 measures you can implement right away to help protect yourself and your children from common toxic substances that could cause precocious puberty and other long-term health problems:

1. As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST)

2. Eat mostly raw, fresh foods (helllooooo paleo). Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a major source of soy and chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.

3. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA-containing liners).

4. Use glass baby bottles and BPA-free sippy cups for your little ones. (I stick with glass or stainless steel).

5. Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck on.

6. Only use natural cleaning products in your home to avoid phthalates. (You can even make them yourself).

7. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a great safety guide to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates, parabens and other potentially dangerous chemicals. BAHHHH!!! THIS! This is where so much of where my mind is at, and which is why I love Pure Beginnings so much.

8. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances, many of which can also disrupt your hormone balance. (Stick with organic essential oils!)

9. Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

10. When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.

11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.

12. Avoid non-fermented soy, especially if you’re pregnant and in infant formula.

Theo Colburn’s book Our Stolen Future is a great source for further investigation as it identifies the numerous ways in which environmental pollutants are disrupting human reproductive patterns.

I’ll leave it right there. A LOT of food for thought. You don’t need to overhaul everything. Just pick a few which are manageable and go for it.

With love, from my family to yours xxx

Finding the Real Scent in everything…

The one thing that sometimes bums me out a bit about natural products, is that a LOT of them don’t have ‘a smell’. I have a friend who just always smells amazing – and not because of her perfume either. Just that clean, fresh, ‘her’ smell. I want a smell too. And my house, and my laundry. And while I know it’s all deceiving – I like to smell good, and have my linen smell good and have my living room smell good. The thing is, there is a reason honest, natural goodies often don’t have a smell. It’s because that fresh fresh fresh smell you’re smelling… it’s all lies. (Disclaimer: many natural products do have gorgeous smells, but many also tend to go fragrance free for babies and kids with sensitive skins – my current world). And since I’m a sweaty, smelly lactating being, I’m lusting even more so after ‘a smell’. 

It’s a tricky one isn’t it? Go with that all natural ‘person/house smell’ (healthy) or have it be dandelion fresh (a treat to your olfactory sensory neurons)… Meh. It’s tough.

Fooooortunately, WE DO HAVE OPTIONS! And exciting, creative ones at that. My aunt just came to SA from overseas and she bought me a SOL burner and some DoTerra essentail oils. She read my mind. I put it on. Daily. It is now my most favorite house addition. I want one for every room. Every room. (Meet the glutton in me). House smell – tick.

There is a real problem with synthetic scents, like a REAL problem. And most fake green ‘natural sources’ are not natural at all. Trust me. They hide under the terms parfum, perfume or fragrance. Synthetic scents are a chemical toxic super storm. Why do you think ‘fragrance free’ has become the latest trend in marketing know-how?

So, ESSENTIAL OILS. Oh essential oils. And not just essential oils, but ethically sourced, certified organic essential oils. Not only do they smell about a gazillion times better than their synthetic counterparts, but honestly, it’s like comparing pecking duck to gristle on the bone. And no one likes gristle on the bone.

Walk into any Whole Foods in North America and the choices are endless. Back here though, well, it can be tricky. But, yay me, I found SOiL Aromatherapy. They have an impressively large range of organic essential oils, as well as burners, wax melts, shea butter, carrier oils as well as body and hair care products as part of their Treemendous range.

My fave baby products, Pure Beginnings, use top notch essential oils in all their products (except the fragrance-free ranges obviously). Here you can replace your (and your kids, and your babies’) usual day-to-day toiletries with a natural and safe alternative – deodorant, hair care, toothpaste, body wash… you name it!

Right now, I’m burning a Spa Valous eco-friendly body candle. It is a massage candle. Have you heard of massage candles? Massage candles are a new variety of candle serving several simultaneous functions. While they light a room, provide a delightful ambiance, and scent the immediate area with subtle fragrance, massage candles also contain cosmetic ingredients that make them an excellent body moisturizer offering anti-aging benefits and massage oil alternative. Because of their unique ingredients, a true massage candle will melt at just over body temperature. Much like a hot bath, they are comfortably warm, but not hot. (source)

There are so so many amazing things you can do with essential oils, and so many options out there – from disinfecting wounds, to encouraging deep relaxation. I used essential oils in my birth, HypnoBirthing preparation as well as my post partum recovery (hello tea tree oil bath). They are little drops of intensely gorgeous smelling gold.

I dare you to dip your toes into the world of essential oils, as opposed to synthetic fragrances, just one item at a time… find your fit and go for it.

The One about Hiring a Doula

Birth is expensive – I get it. I’m facing all of that right now. Scans, blood tests, Dr’s/midwife bills… it goes on and on. On top of that, I’ve just signed up for HypnoBirthing classes, and for first time mom and dads there are prenatal classes, prenatal yoga, lactation consults, buying a ga-zillion (often expensive) things. It’s all just hectic.

And then there is the doula, which doesn’t seem all that important when facing the million bills, unexpected needs, third trimester exhaustion and hubby asking “what on earth is a doula?”

I’ll save you my shpeel on why I think you really, really reaaaaaally should consider hiring a doula (I am a doula, and have had a doula at both previous births – so am a huge advocate) but I’ll just give you some food for thought, inspired by Wellness Mama Blogger, Katie.

if a doula was a drug

As a doula, it is an honour to be invited to participate in anyone’s birth team, and having done it numerous times, I am always inspired and in awe of labouring moms. There really is something so primal and raw about a mother labouring – it is beautiful and astounding to witness. While doula’s are certainly not the be-all-and-end-all of births, there is a lot of evidence that the presence of a doula can shorten labours and (in some cases, drastically) improve birth outcomes.

What is a Doula and What Does She Do? (Source)


What Does a Doula Do? The word “Doula” comes from the Greek word doule, meaning “handmaiden” or “woman who serves.” That is precisely the role of a doula for a laboring woman: to serve the laboring mother and help her have her desired birth outcome. 

In essence, a doula is a massage therapist, friend, therapist, DJ, court jester or anything else a mother needs her to be in labor. She is a shoulder to cry on or an encouragement when the mother thinks she can’t go on.  Most doulas go through a rigorous training program before assisting women in labor.

A doula is trained in labor and childbirth and provides continuous support to a laboring mother. Her focus is tending to and helping the mom and supporting the relationship of the laboring couple. Doulas often support laboring women by:

  • Providing continuous emotional and physical support,
  • Giving information if asked and helping the mother find resources to research her birth choices (before labor),
  • Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing,
  • Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) to the extent possible in the place of birth,
  • Encouraging the mother to communicate with her doctor and to be informed about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the doctor/mother relationship),
  • Supporting the father or birth partner in the best way to support the mother. A doula never replaces the very important role of the birth partner and a good doula will help the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the laboring mom and things that can improve their synergy in labour.

But WHY a Doula?

Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.

Doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.

Doulas are also great at practical help: taking photos at your birth, moving your bags from one room to another, keeping you hydrated, massaging your lower back through a tough contraction, helping you understand ‘medical talk’ going on around you, filling the bath if you desire a water birth, and they’re always on the other side of the phone when your waters break, you lose your mucus plug, or you’re onto your 17th cup of red raspberry leaf tea…


Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications,
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience,
  • reduces the need for pitocin/oxytocin (a labour-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans,
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals.

Research shows parents who receive support can:

  • Feel more secure and cared for,
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics,
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding,
  • Have greater self-confidence,
  • Have less postpartum depression.

So, how do you go about Hiring a Doula?

In South Africa, the best thing to do is to check out WOMBS (Facebook and website) as well as MamaBamba and just ask around. Chat to your gynae or midwife. Doulas gain the most business from word-of-mouth, because I think actions really do speak louder that words in this type of ‘industry’.

Interviewing a number of potential doulas is really important – but might feel a bit weird, right? Even if you’re not sold on the idea, I’d recommend just meeting with a couple and chatting stuff through, and soon enough you’ll get a feel for what they can do to support you in your birth and if you want them as part of your birth team.

Here’s a cheat sheet on what to ask (thanks to Wellness Mama)

Important Questions to ask when considering a Doula:

  1. What is your training? If certified, through what organization?
  2. Are you available around my due date?
  3. How many other clients do you have around this time?
  4. What is your philosophy about birth and how do you most often support women in labour?
  5. How many births have you attended?
  6. Have you attended births at my birth location and what were experiences there?
  7. Do you have experience with my caregiver?
  8. Do you have a backup doula and will I meet her?
  9. At what point in labor do you meet up with us?
  10. How do we contact you during labor? Are you always on call?
  11. What coping techniques do you find most helpful?
  12. What are your fees?
  13. Why did you become a doula?
  14. Have you given birth yourself? Did you have a doula? What were your birth experiences?

It is also really important to connect with your doula and feel like you can trust her. She will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your life, so your comfort with her is vital.

Money, money, money…

The cost of a doula varies greatly depending on where you live. Doulas who are working toward certification (student doulas or doulas-in-training) may offer discounted or free rates (WIN!), while some really experienced doulas can cost a pretty penny (but often offer awesome benefits such as a whole toolbox of tricks, use of a TENS machine, prenatal massage, training in HypnoBirthing and so on). In general in South Africa, the rate seems to be around R3000. For the most part, medical aid will not cover this cost, so needs to be calculated into your birth budget.

This might sound like a huge additional (and maybe even seemingly unnecessary) expense, but considering the additional expenses that can occur without the presence of a doula, can be just as much if not more. If for no other reason than protecting the birth experience and the deep (deeeeeep) memories associated with your birth experience, that was enough for me. In my mere 32 years of being alive, one thing I’ll always believe in is community, The Village, and it is in these times of very real vulnerability that continuous loving support can make or break. We were never ever meant to birth alone.

And so, have you ever had or considered using a doula? What was your experience?

Image credit: blissfulbeginningsdoulacare.wordpress.com, antipodeanmushroom.wordpress.com,


Why not try Spring Clean differently this Year?

Try explain to a 4 year old what chemicals are. It’s tough. “Buddy, don’t touch that, or lick that, or put your hands on that – it is full.of.chemicals“.

I never cared too much about this kinda thing, so have been wracking my brain as to when I made the switch. Maybe it was when I baby-proofed our house when my eldest became more mobile and thought (as I looked at the emergency number for Poison Control on the fridge), ‘hmmm, a vinegar, lemon, bicarb combo seems like a pretty good idea round about now’…

Either way, it has become a bigger and bigger issue to me. I remember my company back in Vancouver wanting to send me home from work one day (when I was pregnant) because the offices next door were being painted and they didn’t want me breathing in the fumes. First world. But something to think about. As we have been renovating recently, I haven’t done a stitch of painting – personal conviction, but still, rather safe than sorry (in my mind anyways).

Let this kick you in the stomach: Did you know that your home may be the most toxic place you encounter each day?

vintage spring clean

Here’s the problem… (source)

Since the 1950s over 72,000 synthetic chemicals have entered our food supply and homes, and the vast majority of them have never been tested for human safety.

The average person comes in contact with over 6,000 of these chemicals on a regular basis and babies are now born with hundreds of them already in their system (and we wonder why we are seeing such high rates of chronic disease!)

The EPA reported that indoor air can be up to 70 Times MORE toxic than outdoor air. These chemicals are more likely to cause cancer than synthetic chemicals found outdoors.

Cancer rates have doubled in the last half century, but due to chemical exposure, moms who work at home are 54% more likely to get cancer than those who aren’t at home all day.

You would think that following the warning labels on household chemicals would be enough to protect your family, but unfortunately, this is not the case! Many of these chemicals can enter the air of your home, even if they are in tightly sealed containers. On top of that, the Poison Control Center reported that as much as 85% of warning labels on household products did NOT adequately identify the dangers of the products or list proper first aid instructions.

Some of the most common chemicals like formaldehyde, phenol, benzene, toluene, xylene have been found to cause cancer and are often found in indoor air. Other problems like fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and hormone imbalance are also linked to chemical exposure.

Since children consume more water, breathe more air and eat more food proportionate to their body weight than adults, they are MORE at risk from these chemicals.

(Preach over)

kitchen sink

So WHAT do we do about this?

Should you find the time, inclination and inspiration, you can (dare I say) make your own cleaning products. I’ve played around with a few, but honestly, life has taken over recently and I’ve found it easier to buy them. Here are some homemade options I’ve tried and written about: Fruit and Veggie Wash & Laundry Powder.


There are a gazillion natural cleaning product recipes out there and I do encourage you to find them and try them out – some people swear by them and others are left disappointed, but go for it, and have fun. Unfortunately in South Africa, we do not have access to a wide range of the raw materials often needed to make effective cleaners, and sourcing from overseas can be expensive, but you can keep it as simple as vinegar, lemon and bicarb. Voia la.

I’ve blogged a bit about a couple of my fave natural cleaning product brands, such as nu ecoBetter Earth, and Earthsap, and I’ve also written a comparison on natural Dishwashing Liquids here. There are a GOOD number of affordable natural products out there – you just need to find them. And please, please, pleeeeeease read the ingredient labels. I hate to bad-mouth Pick ‘n Pay and Woolies, but their ‘green’ ranges are not nearly as green as you’d like to believe they are. Do your research, and read the labels.


So I’ve delved quite considerably into this, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is something we neeeeeed to re-think. And since most of us outsource our home cleaning anyway, we think about it even less. With a baby on the way, I’ve stocked the cupboard (really, with 5L’s and all – nesting!) of natural products so I know our vulnerable, straight from the womb newborn won’t be smacked in the face with no good nonsense.

Please don’t let this overwhelm you. Be inspired by nature, and what it has provided for us. You don’t need to chuck out every scary-looking cleaning product in your laundry cupboard and get on your hands and knees with vinegar and salt. Start with one change. All purpose cleaner? Bathroom cleaner? Laundry powder? …And go from there.

Do you have a favourite natural cleaning brand or homemade recipe? If so, please share! And be INSPIRED!

Image credit: www.ohlief.com, www.greengoods.co.zawww.brayandscarff.com.

Re-thinking the Bubble Bath

If there is one thing I can do to lure my littlies into a bath they’ve been playfully (and therefore skillfully) avoiding, it is uttering the words “I’ll add bubbles”. Well then, mind out the way, because they’ll come running.


But, do you know what ingredients are in most bubble bath liquid soaps? I hate to burst your bubble (sorry – I couldn’t resist), but the news is NOT GOOD.

For ages and ages, all I used to wash my kids with was pure Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. It’s the purest kind of liquid soap I could find and I used to buy it in bulk overseas. I love castile soap but it’s pretty boring (no bubbles, barely any foam), and once kids learn that bath time can involve colourful fizzies, beans bursting into different shaped sponges, toys that flash different colour lights and then, BUBBLES (!), it’s hard to stick to the same old unimaginative castile regimen.

So can we find something better than Sailor Matey Ahoy Bubble Bath? Of course we can. Have you ever tried Pure Beginnings’ Bubble Bath? I love a lot of PB products, but this one fills a gap that I haven’t been able to fill otherwise – it offers safe, clean and enjoyable bubble baths.


Here’s exactly what’s going into your kids mouth as they eat the bubbles:

Aqua (Water), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract*, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Fruit Extract*, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, Linalool**, Limonene**, Geraniol**

*Ingredients from organic farming, **component of natural essential oils, 99% of the total ingredients are from Natural Origin, 97% of vegetable ingredients are from Organic Farming and 10% of the total ingredients are from Organic Farming.

If that doesn’t really mean all that much to you, remember that Pure Beginnings is Phytotrade Accredited, Beauty without Cruelty Certified, as well as EcoCert Certified (which is another way of saying every single ingredient is scrutinized and every detail of the product and its’ production is audited).

This bottle of bubble bath costs R65 for 250ml and it actually bubbles (unlike some other eco brands out there) so you don’t need to use it all in one go – thank goodness. YAY for genuinely awesome bubble baths!

You can buy it straight from the Pure Beginnings website, or find a stockist closest to you here.

Meeting in the Doctor’s Waiting Room

Yesterday I took our eldest for a follow up appointment at our ophthalmologist. I’ve written a little about his story here but yesterday I anticipated a fairly similar outcome to our usual checkup. But the appointment was unusually, and beautifully hopeful. More on that later…

I was running a little late after dropping our youngest at my in-laws and rushed in at 2:02pm (our appointment was for 2 – and I hate being late). As I dashed in, a father snuck in the door behind me holding his young daughter. She was gorgeous, and could not have been older than 2 and a half. I could see immediately (from my limited experience) that she had a squint, even though I think most would probably not notice it. The receptionist looked at us both and requested ‘last name?’ to which I replied ‘Knighton-Fitt’ and so she turned to the gentleman and said, ‘Oh, so this is your first appointment?’ My heart broke as I remembered our first appointment, and I had such sympathy imagining the journey he was about to begin.

As the dad took the clipboard from the receptionist and got ready to recall their medical history on paper, I wanted to throw my arms around them and give them both a huge hug and tell them everything would be okay, but it’s easy to say that looking back.

cuuute pic of clay

There were so many perfect moments this afternoon in that doctors room. The fact that Clay couldn’t fit on my (now enormous) lap meant that I had to pop him on the BIG chair alone and watch him interact with our doctor himself. He would never had done that even 6 months ago. He answered the questions politely and watched the red ball, the cotton bud and the torch so obediently. He listened to everything the doctor said, and whispered the correct answers to all eye tests. His eyes had locked into place (NO.MORE.SQUINT), and his eyes were excellent, individually, both in strength and crisp clarity. ‘Proud mama’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

At the time of the 3D test, I held my breath. This was what we had no idea what to expect. While our 2 operations had corrected some mechanical issues, the development of 3D was never a certainty. His last appointment 3 months ago showed he had no 3D vision. (IE: He can kick a ball and do everything any kid with 20/20 vision can do, but give him a set of 3D glasses for a movie and it wouldn’t mean a thing to him. This can have larger consequences later on when it comes to future career choices and sports etc.). If you don’t develop this kind of 3D by age 4, chances are you might never develop it. Clayden has just turned 4.

So as he looked through the 3D glasses into the book and tried to grab the fly’s wings (which should stand up from the page) he grabbed… the… air. Our Dr looked at me with excitement and I knew it was good. If he had grabbed the page it would have indicated that his 3D was still non existent. Watching him digging his chubby innocent little fingers under the ‘wing’ made my heart leap and I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from bursting into tears. It was all such such such good news. After a 2yr long journey with Clay’s acquired esotropia, across 2 countries, with the help of 2 optometrists, 2 ophthalmologists, 2 operations, and a VILLAGE of support, prayer and a lot of money  (and tears) spent, this is what we’ve been waiting for. Our first appointment with ‘everything looks perfect’. (The only thing better is if we were to phase out the glasses completely, but one step at a time – only time will tell – and he is so stinking cute in his glasses, I think I’d miss them).


Eye Operation April 2015. 

As we left (I could have hugged our doc – but it would have been pretty random), I saw the dad and his daughter replace us in his room. One family out, another one in. Just like that. With a heavy camaraderie-like heart, I watched them start the journey we were (praise God) ending.

Clay eating ice cream

So many of my latest, more personal blog posts have been about kindness and awareness. This one is no different. To think we are all on our own personal, raw, delicate, challenging, sensitive and day-by-day journeys, needs to be recognised. People need to be SEEN. To that family who are beginning the journey correcting eye issues, to the family who have lost a baby that no one knows about, to the family who is struggling with infertility, or severe anxiety, or self-hate or a scary diagnosis. None of us have our stuff together (maybe on the outside it might look like it), so let’s all just be a little more sensitive and aware.

As our awesome (deeply missed and longed for) church in Vancouver used to say each time we met, “we are a community of Hope and Struggle”… and let’s allow ourselves to be just that.

Let’s talk Baby Food: Part 1

Nope, the baby didn’t come early, I’m still pregnant and not thinking about homemade purees or food mess or starting this little one on solids for a loooong time… but I’ve loved the interest many of you have shown on this pregnancy journey with Pure Beginnings and a number of questions have come up around babies starting solids. So, let’s chat about it!

While I’ve done this twice before (and have my own opinions and thoughts on it), I’m no expert, and back when my kids were 6 months I went with the guidance of my local health nurse, fellow moms’ advice, a couple books and a (little) bit of (sleep deprived) initiative.

So I contacted my friend Deidre Lindeque, who is a Nutripaeds Dietitian and Lactation Consultant, (check them out on Facebook here). I really do trust what Deidre has to say and I must say, I read with glee the info she sent me, as it falls very much in line with what I did with our boys, and what I wholeheartedly agree with. Relief!

baby food green puree

Let’s dive right in:


Deidre agrees that between 4 and 6 months is a good time to start. I started both of my boys at 6 months (or slightly later). I was travelling New Zealand at the time my youngest was 6 months and was not planning to puree home grown organic veggies en route. The boob would suffice. It can be tricky to know when to start if your baby was a preemie for eg, so here are some things to look out for:

  • Baby’s ability to hold up his head,
  • His ability to sit well with support,
  • Seeming dissatisfied after milk feeds,
  • Showing an increased interest in YOUR food at family mealtimes,
  • Absence of the ‘tongue thrust reflex’ – i.e. pushing everything that is put in his mouth back out!
  • (Do bear in mind, though, that some preemies may have developmental delays that mean they may not display ALL these signs).

WHAT TO START WITH: (ahhhh… this is a controversial one)

‘Scientists tell us that genetic programming and nutritional habits are formed within the first 1000 days of life. That is from conception until two years of age. This period of life lays down many foundations and most importantly the blue print and map for your health. As parents there is so much we can do to assist our children in laying down a positive health blue print. One aspect is monitoring the amount of sugars that go into our children’s diet. We can do this from before birth, and definitely when we wean onto a solid diet. Breastmilk is always the gold standard so if we just take a moment to look at breastmilk and what is actually in breastmilk. Mature milk is mostly water with fats (55%), carbohydrates (37%), proteins (8%), and various elements such as minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. So if this is the case why do we wean babies onto 78% carbohydrates and 12% fat and 10% protein – which is a make up of most BABY CEREALS. We totally switch the body’s source of energy’. (Nutripaeds) AMEN! I’ve ALWAYS been anti baby cereals. I’m crying with happiness here.

*Disclaimer: While breast is best, I know of many moms personally who have had a very tough time breastfeeding and have had no other choice but to switch to formula. If this is you, please please please don’t feel judged. Every mom has her own experience and her own story. We love you.*

Deidre suggests weaning onto less processed man made foods like vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats. Combos such as avocado with mashed paw paw, or gem squash and blended olives. Maybe some sweet potato and macadamia nut butter. All these options present a nutritional profile more similar to breastmilk than a traditional weaning cereal. (I’ve always stuck to less sugary veggies and introduced fruits later as once those virgin taste buds know the taste of a grape or an orange, it’s hard to convince them marrow and asparagus is the flavour of the day.)

baby food 3

‘Healthy unprocessed grains like millet, spelt, oats, rice and quinoa can definitely be included in your baby’s diet down the line but no need to rush these introductions in the first few weeks of weaning’.

‘Thanks to the latest allergy research, feeding protein foods or high risk allergen foods early on into solid introduction is not only safe but may also be protective against the child developing an allergy to a specific protein food. Protein foods include fish, egg, nut butters, chicken, fish, beef and lamb’. 

So, I know you’re itching to know exactly WHAT foods are recommended: Here’s what Nutripaeds suggest:

  • Steamed (or lightly broiled) whole vegetables such as green beans, baby sweetcorn, mange-tout/ sugar-snap peas)
  • Steamed or lightly broiled florets of broccoli or cauliflower
  • Steamed, roasted or stir fried vegetable sticks such as carrot, pumpkin, butternut, potato, aubergine, sweet potato, parsnip, baby marrows,
  • Raw sticks of cucumber (great when straight from fridge to ease the gums of teething babies)
  • Thick slices of avocado (not over-ripe and they become very soft and squishy)
  • Fruit such as pear, apple, banana, peach, nectarine, halved grapes, pawpaw, mango – either whole or as sticks
  • Cheese – sticks of firm cheese e.g. Cheddar or gouda and well as cubes/triangles of full fat cream cheese
  • Dried fruits such as mango strips. Baby sweet corn and fingers of peeled cucumber and avocado are all yummy and easy finger foods.
  • Starchy foods are nice ways to incorporate energy especially into fussy eaters, some fun finger starchy include: balls made of cooked rice or quinoa and small pieces of toast fingers ,
  • Rice cakes, rusks and dry breakfast cereals such as all bran flakes and multigrain oatees.
  • Mini brown bread sandwiches cut into triangles, fingers or squares – Suitable fillings include mashed banana, hummus, grated cheese, cream cheese, mashed avocado, nut butters.
  • Falafels, Lentil balls and Mini meatballs – beef, chicken, ostrich and lamb mince variants – one can also cook it as a meatloaf and cut it into strips.
  • Cubes of firm cooked fish, fish balls made with minced fish.
  • Cubes of tofu, slices or quarters of hard boiled eggs or strips of well cooked omelette.
  • Fishcakes or fish fingers (not processed variants)

Yeeeeowzers. Too much info coming your way? Well, Nutripaeds have been ever so kind, to share with us a brief overview of a Step-by-Step (and week-by-week) Weaning Guide which you can download here: Nutripaeds Weaning Guide.

baby food puree

We have so much deeply valuable information for you – I’ve split this blog post into 2 parts – because, I’m not sure about you but my brain-of-mush cannot take much more. In the next blog post (Let’s talk Baby Food: Part 2) we’re going to talk about The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, and Baby Led Weaning compared to Normal Weaning. 

Until then,


Image credit: www.babycentre.com, www.pitterpatter.com, www.thevintagemixer.com

Epsom Salt – and why it’s awesome

I first heard about epsom salt way back in 2008 when I used to work at a Health and Wellness clinic. Primarily it was used to pop in a warm bath and increase magnesium absorption (which is good for you obviously). It’s a pretty cheap product to buy so I used to get some from time to time, and even used to make my own magnesium scrubs with epsom salt and essential oils (you know, before kids).

A friend had a truck load she was trying to get rid of and so I bought 6kg. Usually my go to – is to run a nice hot epsom salt bath, but there are MANY other uses for this little whiteish rock type stuff and knowing it was great to use during pregnancy, I thought I’d remind myself of its uses and benefits.


Thanks to Wellness Mama, here is a super comprehensive list of ways and means to use it. Hold your breath – its coming up…

First off, epsom salt is a really good source of magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of functions within the body, but is especially important for:

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Increases bioavailability of calcium
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms
  • Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • Can prevent atherosclerosis and stroke
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Helps make proteins
  • Encourages proper elimination
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • Protection from radiation
  • To aid weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • in proper digestion of carbohydrates
  • emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers
  • (source)

… all I can think about now is how I can persuade my hubby to buy me a huge free standing bath, equipped with candles, surround sound of All Sons & Daughters (what the heck, just make it sound proof), with Lindt dark choc balls on request. Surely that’s not too hard.


Here is the list of ways in which you can easily use epsom salt. I’ve bolded my fave.

  • As a relaxing Magnesium Bath Soak – Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Splinter Removal – soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
  • Magnesium Foot Scrub – make a homemade magnesium scrub (recipe here) for a boost of magnesium and super soft skin.
  • Better Vegetables – add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (Your veggies need magnesium too!)
  • Facial Wash – add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
  • Tile/Grout Cleaner – mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
  • Body Aches – add 2 cups of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes to help relieve muscle sprains and for a transdermal magnesium boost.
  • Homemade Sea Salt Spray – make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to hair- recipe here.
  • Water House Plants – help house plants grow by adding a couple tablespoons of epsom salt to the water when you water them.
  • Volumeizing Hair Mask – combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair.
  • Foot Soak – for a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Get rid of slugs – have slugs in your garden or on your patio? Sprinkle epsom salt to deter them. (I’ve heard you can do this with moles too!)
  • Making Magnesium Lotion – using magnesium flakes is a better option, but in a pinch, you can use epsom salt to make homemade magnesium oil (recipe here).
  • Laxative – for occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. Check with a doctor first.
  • Beautiful Roses – add a tablespoon a week to the soil around rose bushes before watering for faster growth.
  • Soil Prep – before planting, we add a few bags of epsom salt to the soil in the garden and water in to help replenish soil magnesium levels.
  • Headache relief – there is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
  • Smooth skin – mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
  • Itchy Skin or Bug Bites – dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  • Minor Sunburn Relief – use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.
  • Help Kids Sleep Better – add a cup to kids’ bath water before bed to help them sleep peacefully… (I’ve definitely done this on a number of occasions).

That’s enough to keep us going for a while. If you’re interested to read more about magnesium, check out this link.

Now, go and run that bath already.

Image credit: www.doctoroz.com and www.livestrong.com