Sunday, June 30, 2013

Whole 30 Day 0


My Whole30 July begins tomorrow.

This time I subscribed to the Whole30 Daily, which so far I am thinking could be worth it.

The first email has asked me to get some current data and photos (yuck). They are here on a hidden page - hopefully one day I will have a story that I want to share and will be happy to have a link to this proudly displayed at the top of my site, but for now, here's a much harder to find link).

I have also been asked to set some goals using the goal setting worksheet. These are based on the principals of The Whole 9

My Goals are


Drink at least 1 1/2L water each day and to take my supplements (Vital GreensPregnacare supplementsEvening Primrose OilOmega 3 Fish OilAgnus Castus, and human strain lactobacillus).

It goes without saying I also have a goal to stick to the Whole 30 for 30 days. I will plan meals a day ahead, taking into account our plans so that I can be sure they are possible to create in the time I have available.


No phone in bed - read instead

Stress Management

I will meditate for 10 mins every day (when son naps)


I will walk, swim or Wii for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week

Active Recovery

I will do some stretching exercises every morning 

Injury Rehab

I will use the massage chair twice a week to help my back and shoulder issues

Fun and Play

I will plan at least one fun day out for BB and I each week

Personal Growth

I will read the book It Starts with Food again, and another book on the Paleo Diet (yet to decide which one).


I will not play games on my phone for 30 days 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Getting ready for the Whole 30 July

I am gearing up to do my second Whole 30, starting on Monday July 1st.

I did my first Whole 30 in April this year. It was a great experience and made me feel so much better (see here for my results). I did plan to be really careful with my reintroductions, but that didn't happen. I reintroduced a few things and then got sick of it, (both the monitoring how each individual food affected me and the fact that I just didn't feel quite as good as I did on the Whole 30). So, I decided that I would just try and stick to the Whole 30 eating plan whenever I could, and hoped that I could get away with the occasional drift away from it when I was out.

The last couple of weeks have proven to me that unfortunately I can't do that. I have been out to lunch, away for a weekend and also to a conference. I've eaten all sorts of things, from bread, rice and corn to chickpeas and cheese. I have no way of really knowing what it is that made me feel tired, sluggish, and depressed, but something did. My stomach feels like I have a brick in it, my waistline has exploded and my weight has soared!

I find it incredible that feeling like I do now was normal for most of my life. However, now that I have experienced just how good I can feel, this really is not acceptable! I am doing a second Whole 30 to rid myself of this current feeling, to refocus, and to kickstart a Whole Life regime.

This time I am going to try and do daily exercise too (always hard with a toddler in tow, but not impossible) and I must drink more water! I am also signing up for the Whole 30 Daily, just for the extra support. There will be some challenges, such as my son's Birthday and few days away from home.

I am planning on blogging (maybe daily) on what I am eating, and posting recipes and publishing pics on instagram. I also have a Whole 30 Buddy already, Molly and her partner, from Molly and the Princess will also be starting on the same day. I drew lots of strength and ideas last time from other bloggers doing the same thing so i am really pleased to have made this connection.

Is anyone else doing the Whole 30 in July? Do let me know if you are!

Whole 30 Resources Are Available Free

Several people I know in real life have expressed an interest in the Whole 30 since I have been going on about it, but don't have the funds to buy the book right now.  That is not a problem. Unlike most diet and eating plans, all that you need is available free.

The best place to start might be with the details of The Whole 30 Program. Then take a look at The Quick Start Guide followed by the Shopping List (there is also a vegetarian version) and a general guide on doing your Grocery Shopping and Pantry Stocking.

The program requires you to eat 3 meals a day and to not snack between meals. Each meal should be made up of a protein, a fat and lots of veg, and occasionally a serve of fruit. The Meal Planning Guide will help you get started. The book It Starts With Food does have quite an extensive "Meal Map" in it, which I believe does make it worth the purchase when you can afford it. There is a little bit of info about the Meal Map here. Alternatively you can just check out some of my Whole 30 Recipes. If you do a search for Whole 30 Recipes on the internet, you will also find heaps more ideas.

The Whole 9 Blog is also really useful, and recent post The Official "Can I have... guide to the Whole 30 will be particularly helpful.

There is also a Forum which is available free, you just have to become a member (which is free).

If you feel you need further help, you can sign up for the Whole30 Daily which does have a fee attached. I didn't use that last time, but I am going to sign up this time, partly to see what it has to offer, and also because I am hoping it will add to my learning experience and help me to stay on track.

Noroclear Hygiene Travel Pack - Review

I am generally one of those parents that supports children "building their immune system". I try not to worry to much about BB coming into contact with dirt, and at home he regularly picks up food that he has dropped on the floor and eats it. I do however know that my floor is relatively clean. I wipe it after every meal and mop it most nights. I also clean his tray and chair with disinfectant spray after every meal.

When we are out though, the rules are different! When he was a baby I used to worry about things like the shopping trolley, and wipe the baby seat with a disinfecting wipe before I put him in. You will be pleased to know I am over that now, but I do still give his hands a good clean when he gets out of the shopping trolley, especially before he eats.

Noroclear Hygiene Travel Pack

We recently received a Noroclear Hygiene Travel Pack from free of charge so that we could write a review. The pack includes skin wipes, surface wipes and some foaming hand cleaner. We have been using the product for a couple of weeks now and have put it to the test in several ways.

Firstly, our friends from Australia arrived carrying the tail end of a stomach bug that had floored them all. G used the same change table as BB, but we wiped it with the surface wipes each time. BB stayed clear of the bug, though of course I can't guarantee that this is due to the wipes, it is a good sign. We have also used it to clean a high chair when dining out. The pack is a good size to keep in your handbag, or the baby's lunch bag and so they are quite handy to carry with you. The wipes are quite tough and have a different texture to to the skin wipes as well as being in a different colour pack, so this helps to make sure that you don't get the two confused.

Onto the skin wipes, we have mainly used these when we have been out. BB and I often go to the park and then take a little picnic snack with us to eat after so these have been ideal for cleaning his hands between the playground and eating activities. They are quite foamy, which at first I found a bit annoying, but actually I think it could be helpful. The wipes say that they kill bugs in 1 minute, and the foaminess means you have to wipe over several times, especially on little hands, so in a way they force you into doing a thorough clean.

The hand disinfecting foam contains exactly the same ingredients as the skin wipes, and is also good to use, though I haven't tried it on BB (wipes are so much easier for him) but I have used it myself. The instructions regarding the amount to use are a bit unclear, it says "an appropriate amount". I wondered at first what this meant. How did I know how much was appropriate to kill germs from my hands? Well, once I used it it became clear and I would recommend 2 pumps for adult hands and 1 for children. This is also quite nice to use and dries quickly with some rubbing.

You can find out more about each product, and other products in the range, at

The Noroclear Hygiene Travel Pack was sent to us free of charge for the purposes of  this review. No payment was received for this post and the observations and opinions are 100% mine

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Given in to Live TV

Many of you will know from previous posts that I have lived without live TV for years. After travelling and living overseas for so long, and then being somewhat transient when I first got back to the UK, I became quite used to the idea of watching TV on demand through my laptop. When I moved into my house I decided to see how long I could last without it. I have a TV which is a used only as a monitor for my Mac Mini, and digital sound system. I don't have an arial and have never tuned the TV.

It has worked brilliantly and saved me the TV licence fee for almost 4 years (enough money saved to pay for the equipment purchased). I can also watch what I like when I like, so if I have half an hour and feel like a bit of comedy I can search for it and watch it, or if there is a show I enjoy (currently The Apprentice), then I don't have to worry about being in front of the TV at a certain time. The computer also stores all my music so I don't have to have CD's everywhere or buy a separate stereo system, I have the internet in the lounge room which is often handy, I don't need a separate DVD player either. It is also great from the perspective that BB can't watch too much TV. Most children's programs that target his age group  are only 5 or 10 mins long, so when one ends we have to start another. Often it will end and he will just get on and play with something else , sometimes I put another one on for him - he usually has half an hour of TV in the morning and sometimes a couple of shows before bath time too, if there is time.

So why did I give in? There are some negatives. Firstly having no licence means you can't watch any live TV at all . That is fine for me most of the time, but I did almost cave in for the Olympics. It can also be tricky to avoid the social media gossip on things you really don't want to know until you've seen the show - like who's out of The Apprentice this week. That same thing can also make you a bit antisocial, when everyone is talking about last night's show...

Also, (bad parenting reason coming up) when I want to just get something done and use the TV babysitter for 20 mins or so, it is hard to concentrate when you are being dragged back to the TV to select another show for your child to watch every 5 mins. At the weekend we stayed at DD's house who had regular TV. I tried to use the TV as my baby sitter on the Tuesdays morning while I packed the car to come home but BB just didn't get the fact that he couldn't have exactly the show he wanted. That was an interesting problem of our usual on demand system that naively I hadn't anticipated. It made me start to think.

I have also been thinking about my self. I do really need to make time to relax, all I do is take care of BB, then housework and work when he sleeps. I am often going to bed after midnight, straight from work, and then waking up before 6. I have been thinking that it would actually be good if some mights I did have to stop work at 9 to catch a show I like...

Yesterday was my work day, when BB goes to nursery and I get stuff done - having had 5 days away there was a lot on the list. And then he vomited! Great - I had a sick child to look after instead of child free time to catch up on all the urgent stuff. Once he got past his clingy bit I put a show on TV (In The Night Garden, as it is on of the longest)  and gradually retreated to the lap top at the kitchen table. A little while later I heard Charlie Bear. I went to see what had happened and somehow. BB had managed to select to watch live. He does wiggle the mouse around a bit, but it would have been luck rather than intention. I was immediately paranoid that the TV licensing people would be round with their fine and so decided that this was a sign - I logged on and bought a licence.

So, we still don't have an arial and have to watch through the internet, but we can watch live shows.  Last night I watch The Apprentice at the same time as the rest of the nation and that was cool.  Now, I have had an uninterrupted half an hour to do my own thing. This is amazing.

I just had a peep around the door- he is doing other stuff too ( you can tell by the mess!), and right now is tapping his stick in time to the music.

Still - I had better not stretch the limits too far - his half an hour must be up, time to get him to help     with cooking lunch instead!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Whole 30 - Summary Post

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while, so I thought I would finally get it out there. I never really got around to doing proper introductions for grains and legumes. I have eaten hummus, but to be honest that was this weekend when I ate all manner of other stuff so I really can't comment.

Initially I thought rice was ok but now I am not so sure. Brown rice seems fine, but long grain basmati might not be. Sugar is definitely evil. I think dairy might be too, but I need to retest that really as the dairy reaction could have been confused with sugar (I ate lots of ice cream!).

So, as you know I gradually began to drift away from my new habits and decided to try and do a Whole 30 June, without the blogging. It didn't work - it seems I need the accountability and commitment to getting those photos out to you guys to actually make me stick to it (sad I know!). At the weekend I was away from home and managed to eat pastries, cake, rice, bread and a sugary desert, and drink champagne, and wine, and eat sweets!

I feel hideous! You would have thought it would be easier to stick to eating well when it makes so much difference to how I feel, but apparently not! I am determined though. I am getting back on track with the Whole 30 July (yes I know there are 31 days in July - perhaps this can be a signifier that it is to go beyond) and I am going to combine it with exercise this time, even though that may just be the Wii 

Why not check out some new blogs, and share the love!

Sorry for so many posts all at once - in case you can't tell I am playing catch up! Tiara, another SMC who writes at Me Plus One  recently nominated this blog for a Blog Award! Thank you Tiara

The following apply when accepting this award:

·         Link back to the blog that nominated you (thank you again, Tiara)

·         Nominate 5 - 11 new bloggers who have 200 or less followers

·         Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator

·         Share 11 random facts about yourself

·         Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer

·         Contact your nominees and let them know that you have nominated them

The Blogs I am Nominating:

I have no idea how many followers these guys have, but here are some blogs that I have discovered in the last few weeks that I'd like to share with you.

1. Tiffany at Skinny Jeans and a Healthy Me has a great blog about her weight loss journey which is really inspiring - check out her photos to see what she has achieved.

2. Bambino Time is a new SMC blog from someone who has just made the decision to have a baby by herself on purpose!

3. Swazi at Chocolate is Not the Only Fruit is really new to me - I just discovered it since BritMums. I like it because she writes so real, and can be frank and funny as well as thought provoking.

4. Bubba Babble is another new one that I discovered at Britmums. I think it has a great look and some excellent content, and it's writer, Kaz, was a great person to drink wine with at BiB Award Ceremony

5 & 6. Unique Young Mum, who is also someone I met at Britmums. She was really friendly and invited me to join her and her friend Mummy to the Max (check out her blog too - also a young mum). I looked at UYM blog when I got back and found a recent post where she says "No one chooses to be a single mum, do they?" It made me chuckle. Well, in a way, believe it or not yes Jade, some of us actually do - but only because our eggs got tired of waiting for Mr Right to show up! Quite a lot of people reading this will be single mums by choice (SMC's), though personally I like the phrase 'single by chance, mother by choice'. 

Anyway - moving on, here are my 11 Questions from Tiara:

1.       Do you believe in ghosts?
Not the type in white sheets that move the salt and rattle the teacups, no, but as a spirit or essence of something existing beyond it's physical presence, then yes, I think I do.

2.      Which celebrity or public figure would you most like to meet?
That's a tricky one, I am not big on celebrities and hardly ever know who anyone is! It could be a mum who is fun to hang out with, (for example, I bet Katy Hill knows how to have fun), or someone like Thich Nhat Hanh, who I think is incredible. I have seen him speak, but would have no idea what to say to him if actually got to meet him, so lets stick with the celebrity mum idea.

3.      Have you ever shop lifted?
Yes, but not intentionally. I found a 1/2p aniseed ball in my coat pocket once when I got out of the sweet shop having spent my 10p! I must have had it in my hand while I was deliberating how to spend my fortune (probably collected as the deposit for taking my Grandad's pop bottles back to the shop). I was scared and ashamed and dropped it down a drain so that no one knew!

4.      Do you have a tattoo? If so, where/what?

5.      Facebook or Twitter?
I'm not all that good at either really, but I can't choose between them either. Essentially for me, twitter is the place for finding new people/things/ideas, and facebook is a way of catching up with old friends

6.      Nick has 8 cups. He gave Sam 5 cups. How many cups does Nick have left?
3? Why do I get the feeling I have not understood the question?

7.      What is your favourite childhood birthday memory?
It would be my sister's birthday, not mine - I made her a cake that looked like a house - it took me forever but I was so proud and she loved it. I can't imagine that as a single parent I will ever have time to create something as elaborate for a child of my own.

8.      Are you more like your Mother or Father…or neither?
A little bit of both I suppose, but then also quite a lot of me is different too. Mum is quite happy with her own company, as am I. She is also a nurturer, which I think I am too. Dad likes his own way and enjoys being helping people but not being taken for granted, and I am a bit like that too. But I am an independent career woman, which my Mum was not, and I love travel and living overseas, whereas Dad lives within 100m of his birthplace and has no intention of going anywhere!

9.      What is your Dream Job?
I think I already head that. I worked between the Depts. of Education and Environment in Central Australia, worked with children, traveled out to remote communities and to all the State and Territory capitals, met some very amazing people and had the most beautiful office location you could imagine at the base of Mount Gillen in Alice Springs Desert Park. I did realise it was the best job ever at the time, but also it makes it hard for me to look for work now, as nothing could ever be so good.

10.   Other than this current one, what era would you have most liked to live?
Mmm, how big are your eras? I think 70's fashion would have suited me more than most, plus I love some of the music from that time so I think I would have been pretty happy then. If you are talking geological eras, I would definitely want to be in warmer country than I am now, but I think I could have been happy with the outdoor hunter gatherer lifestyle too.

11.    What is your proudest moment?
Almost every time I look at BB - I am still amazed that I grew a baby! I was really happy when I was able to present him to my family, especially my grandmother. I also have lots of teaching moments that make me proud, and attending the PhD graduation of an old student whom the other teachers at my school labeled as a 'no hoper' made me feel pretty good too!

11 Random Facts about me:

  1. I really want to have a pet sheep one day
  2. I broke my ankle as a kid, rollerskating, on the first day of the six week summer holiday, and yes, you guessed it, I was in plaster for six weeks!
  3. My star sign is Scorpio
  4. I met Thomas Keneally in a pub in Kalgoorlie and he bought me a drink (JD and Coke)
  5. I ate Prince Charles' honey ants when he came to the Desert Park, as his minders wouldn't let him eat them.
  6. I hated school, but no one knew - I loved learning but the school bit sucked! Then I became a teacher, I'm still not fond of schools, but I love teaching.
  7. Before deciding to become an SMC with a donor I did consider getting pregnant by 'accident'
  8. I have to clean my teeth before I get in the bath or shower
  9. I had an almost fatal motorcycle accident in Thailand which totally changed my view on life, and made me want to LIVE it. Seriously - it made me so happy to be alive!
  10. I am almost Buddhist- that's the box I tick on the census form, but I don't practice much  (I had just come from a meditation retreat when I had the motorbike accident - this could have contributed to my euphoria at being alive)  Most of the teachings I listen to these days come from Zencast.
  11. My Favourite book as a child was The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria Walker. I have been searching for a copy for ages and finally found one. It hasn't arrived yet but I am so looking forward to it. I'll let you know if it's really as good as I thought. I borrowed it from the school library and everyone (teachers and parents) told me it was too hard for me to read, so it may just have been the fact that I read it anyway that made me like it - we'll see.

11 Questions for my Nominees: 
(Tiara - you may see what I have done here!)

1.    Why did you start blogging? 
2.    Mountain hideaway or a beach house? 
3.    Red or White? 
4.    Summer or winter? 
5.    Hot chocolate or coffee? 
6.    Strength training or cardio? 
7.    Computer or television? 
8.    Rolling Stones or Beatles?
9.    Sidney or Paris? 
10.  Alaska or Hawaii?
11.  Early bird or night owl? 

To all my nominees, if you have time to answer these questions on your blog that would be fab, but if you'd rather not I do understand (and there is no dark magic or nasty accidents awaiting those who don't!). It took me a while, but I had fun doing it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Decisions Inspired from BritMums Live

1. Be ME!

This has been coming for a while, but managing so many different profiles in attempt to keep Blissful Mama anonymous is just getting too hard/annoying/complicated. Just last week I was credited as Blissful Mama then aka my full name on Facebook. Lots of people know me anyway.

I guess there were really two reasons to use another name. I always say that it is to protect BB. I do want to keep some sort of distance for him. He didn't choose to grow up on line, and you can never be sure what people might find in the future and give him grief about. I suppose, if I am honest, it was also a way for me to hide.

But what the hell.

I'm Emma. BB is still BB - for now at least, though if you watched any of of our videos in previous posts, you already know his name too, so I may well get over that one at some stage too!

2. Delete Facebook Pages 

Like a lot of people I had facebook pages for my sites because everyone said I should. But Facebook drives me nuts anyway, forever changing privacy settings and rankings etc. I didn't use it much anyway, very few of my posts were on there because I just never valued it enough to spend time on it. I would rather the conversations happen on my blog than on Facebook. So, pages gone already!

3. Delete even more social media stuff (and use what's left better!)

I came across this great article suggesting I should cull links on my blog to the whole lot! I had multiple links to G+, so two of those have gone. Instagram, plus Pinterest and Twitter are still there, for now at least.

Due to trying to protect my identity I had multiple twitter accounts. One for my Virtual Assistant business, and one for each of my blogs. Having decided to be ME,  I am now down to 2, and may even go to one!

I both love and hate Twitter. Every time I go on it I find some gems, but I do have to sift through heaps of cr*p  to get to it. I am going to try and cull a few of the people that spout too much cr*p, so that it becomes less overwhelming and more pleasurable to use.

4. Do a writing course

In the food blogging session CookSister appealed to everyone to invest in a writing course. I am going to do that! 

5. Connect more with UK bloggers

I was living in Oz when I started with this blog, and it was just a way to show my Mum where I was. Then when I began the journey of an SMC, I connected with lots of US bloggers, but my UK connections are limited, even though I read a lot of UK blogs. I discovered lots more great people and great blogs at Britmums Live though and am looking forward to some new reads.

6. Wear dresses, and other nice clothes

A random one perhaps compared to the others, but I always used to wear lots of dresses, but combine the facts that they make breast feeding tricky, that I am larger than I was so lots of old ones don't fit, and that I am now living in a cold country so most of my dresses are only useful one day a year anyway, and now I rarely wear them.

Kirstie Allsopp reminded me how great and easy dresses are, then one of the books that we were given as freebies had the statement "Life is too short for ugly clothes!" and I think that too. Again I used to have some great clothes, but they are too small, I even sold some of them on ebay. I have refused to buy new ones as I am waiting to get thin! My mum has bought a me a few plain T-shirts, which are fine for round the house and doing jobs, but I might treat myself to a little something pretty too, on my way to being thin - otherwise, let's face it,  it could be some time!

7. Aim higher with sponsored posts and reviews - value my time more!

I have only done a few of these, but I learned some lessons. The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss for example was hours and hours of my time - for nothing at all but a free book! I have refused a few recently, I won't have anything that will compromise my blog anyway, but even if it's stuff I like I am going to have a think about whether or not its really worth what's on offer.

8. Approach brands I like

I guess I already did this with both Vital Greens and Goodness Direct, but I have a couple more in mind.

9. Create a Media Pack

Inspired by Actually Mummy , I am going to try and put one of these together for both this blog and Almost Paleo, in the next few weeks.

10. Seek Feedback on my blog

My blogging friends at Love 2 Declutter and I agreed to take a look at each others blogs and give feedback. I hope they like what I have done to declutter this one so far, as I already got rid of some ads, and the amazon affiliate stuff, some other random stuff in the side bar, and a few icons! 

I would love to hear from other people  - any constructive comments are welcome, even if they are negative, that's what its all about. Can you navigate it OK? How does it look? What would you add? What would you take away? More than happy to return the favour of course.

11 out of ten

I can't end this post without a mention of Katie Piper. Isn't she awesome! I have been telling everybody about her ever since her Keynote on Saturday. Definitely one of the bravest and most inspiring ladies I have ever shared air with! Love her!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It Starts with Food - Book Review

This has to be one of the most amazing and life changing books that I have read recently. It is a well written, easy read as well as being informative. I compels you into action to make changes in what you are eating.

Much of what is mentioned in the book I had heard before, but this is the first time I have come across all of this info in one place in a way that it makes sense altogether. They have organised it very simply, starting with the premise that food should make you healthy, they have come up with 4 Good Food Standards. These state the food we eat should.
  1. Promote a healthy psychological response
  2. Promote a healthy hormonal response
  3. Support a healthy gut
  4. Support immune function and minimise inflammation

They then look at different foods and rate them against these criteria, grouping them as foods that make you less healthy and foods that make you more healthy. The Whole30 challenge is then to eat only the foods that make you healthy, for 30 days. This means no grains or legumes, no sugars, artificial sweeteners or alcohol, no dairy, and no seed oils. 

That can sound a bit challenging at first, but actually the book walks you though it quite easily. It gives you what it calls a 'meal map' which enables you to create countless different meals, each made up a protein, a fat and at least two vegetables. I have to say the food I ate on my first Whole30 was some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten.

Having done the program once and reintroduced the some of the foods that make you less healthy, it is with great interest that I am re reading the book. I feel so much healthier on the Whole30 than I do if I even eat a little of a food that I avoided in that time. 

I had been looking for a resource like this for a while. One that takes you on a journey discovering what works for you and this is it. I am recommending it to everyone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Snap 'n' Learn Colour Caterpillars - Review

BB and I recently received a set of Snap 'n' learn colour caterpillars from Learning Resources so that we could try them out and write about them.

Snap 'n' learn colour caterpillars are designed with children aged 2-6 in mind, and although BB is not quite 2 yet he is getting a lot from them. The kit includes 15 pieces (3 heads, 3 tails, 3 large body parts, 3 medium body parts and 3 small body parts).

This might sound odd, but it is a really nice quality plastic. It feels soft and durable, there are no hard edges, and they fit nicely into small hands.

The caterpillars are assembled by clicking one piece into the next. BB is just able to assemble them, but children younger than this may well struggle with the motor skills and strength required to fit them together.  The way they are designed makes if so that you have to have a head at one end and a tail at the other, but you can arrange the body parts in any order in between.

The caterpillars lend themselves to a variety of learning opportunities. You may wish to look at the colours of the different pieces and assemble a caterpillar of all one colour (for this reason, ideally I would have liked the green caterpillar to have a green head, but perhaps I am just being a little anal!). You can also discus the names of the parts, and the size of the different pieces. You can make very ling and very short caterpillars and everything in between. You can arrange the pieces in size order, or colour order too.

On the whole I really like these and BB seems to like them too. He has played with them nearly every day since they arrived. They are well made and I think they will stand the test of time both physically and with regard to being an engaging toy for a few years to come. My only complaint would be that the container is too small. You can, with a great deal of jiggling and effort, get all of the parts back into the tub, but it is a bit annoying when they don't fit. It is impossible for BB to do it himself, and as a mum who is encouraging the behaviour of packing away your own toys this is a bit disappointing. I plan to get something else to keep them in soon. BB has however found another great use for the box, he wears it as a 'shoe' and clomps around in it.

BB  and G playing together

 Snap 'n' learn colour caterpillars can be purchased direct from the Learning Resources website or from Amazon and the RRP is £17.99. They are also available in the US.

Disclaimer: This resource was sent to me free of charge for the purposes of this review. This review is however 100% my own honest thoughts and opinions and I have not  been paid to write this!

I'm going to BritMums Live

Name: Blissful Mama (not my real name, but I will tell you on the day!)
Twitter ID@Blissful_Mama

Height: 5ft 6
Hair: Brown (with a bit of a grey line where it parts!)
Eyes: hazel and I wear glasses sometimes
Is this your first blogging conference?
No, it will be my 2nd!
Are you attending both days?
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2013?
Meeting lots of intelligent and inspiring people and stimulating my brain for a couple of days
What are you wearing?
Not sure yet - will be fairly casual I should think
What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2013?
I am hoping to get ideas to improve this blog and and on working with brands
Tell us one thing about you that not everyone knows
I ate the honey from Prince Charles' Honey Ants when his minders wouldn't let him taste them for himself!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Catching up

Catching up in two ways: firstly because it has been a while since I wrote a post, and secondly because my blogging absence is a result of having house guests for a few days, an old friend from when I was living in Western Australia and her husband and daughter, both of whom I got to meet for the first time.

Things that happened in the last week include putting BB's name down to do an extra morning at nursery from September. I like that idea from his perspective as he has done one morning this year and will do do 3 next year, so increasing it to 2 now will be a good step for him. I deliberated about it for a while due to the extra expense, but hopefully the extra time will mean I am able to make a little extra money. It will also give me a bit more time for me. I can swim for half hour for example.

BB an I have also had a fun time crafting. Look what we made DD for Father's Day

We got the idea from here. I helped out with the glue and printing the picture obviously, but BB chose the colours of the sticks, and also the pom poms,  and stuck them on. I like how he put the 4 pink ones together - they look good on the purple background too don't you think! DD was able to skype with us on the day and so BB got to watch him open it which was fun.

He also made a card at nursery which was appalling. I can't believe how little effort went into on their behalf. It was a piece of green card cut out roughly in the shape of a T shirt, that BB had made a pencil scribble on and then someone had written his name in dots. We sent it anyway, but...

My most exciting news is that my friend J came to visit from Western Australia. We were best friends for a while when we were both living in Kalgoorlie, and then caught up several times after we each moved away. It is about 6 years since I saw her last. In that time she has met a lovely guy, got married and has a daughter (G) just 3 weeks younger than BB. She is also pregnant with baby 2, due in August. I was really looking forward to their visit, but it turned out to be even better than I anticipated. G and BB got on so well, and played together brilliantly, more so than either of them have ever played with another child. Often BB plays alongside others, but these guys really interacted and did stuff together the whole time. It was so cute. Their antics included bouncing each other on the trampoline, getting out ALL the toys BB has, jumping on my bed, and stealing the chook food and making their own picnic from it in the cubby house! All was accompanied by excited squeals and giggles. He was sad when they left.

Thinking about it though, perhaps it is not surprising. J and I 'played' well together too, We had some excellent adventures, travelling out into the bush around Kal and making our own fun. I'd forgotten just how much fun we had until she was here. It was also great in that even though we have both moved on and changed a lot since we last last saw each other, it was still like it was yesterday.

The last few days have confirmed a few things for me though. J was talking about me moving back to WA. Yes. I would be happy to live there. It made me realise that I would actually be happy to live in any state or territory of Australia. I reality can't think of anywhere here that I want to live. Just talking with them about their lifestyle and also the things I could do made me long to be back there even more. It seems like a bit of a no brainier really, a better lifestyle and more opportunities for both BB and I.

J's partner was born in  the UK and moved to Oz as a baby. He came back for a few months at the age of 12 and hated it. He still isn't impressed and shares a lot of my views. There's good stuff here, its a nice place to visit, but Australia is by far a better place to live. I am going to start planning for it. If I don't get pregnant I want to be back by the time BB starts school, if I do, we might wait another year. I feel so much better for having made that decision and getting some direction back in my life again. It is also quite a balancing feeling to the desire for a second child. If I don't get pregnant, the bonus is I get out of this country earlier!

Another reflection though, was just how good it would be for BB to have a sibling. It was so much fun for him sharing his home with someone and having a full time playmate.

On that note I am 9dpo. Having guests has been good as I haven't been able to obsess about it too much. I didn't take any temperatures since O was confirmed either so that helps too. I did test as soon as we got home today though, negative of course, that's what I expect at 9dpo regardless, but still... I had to do it!

In 3 days I should know.

Moving from Google Reader to Bloglovin (and then to Feedly)

I have been hearing rumours for a few months now that Google Reader is going.  It is really true? I have been trying to find out.

There have been lots of different stories, some saying it was all rumours with no fact, but a lot more saying that it really is happening. Indeed, I have found that the Google Friend Connect is no longer available, and on more than one occasion my blog list of blogs I read has been empty (they did come back).

It would seem though that it is TRUE  as I found this on the Google Reader Blog. The general view is that it is to encourage everyone to move across to Google+. I am on G+, but not everyone that I am following is, so this is far from ideal for me.

In the end, but without a great deal of research into the other options I must admit, I decided to use Bloglovin'. At the moment I am using both, and it is easy to import your whole blog list from blogger. I am liking it much better as it turns out. There are lots more options though if you want to take a look around.

Good luck with your decision, meanwhile if you want to follow me on Bloglovin here I am!

Update - I now use Feedly

Monday, June 10, 2013

Trying Everything to get a BFP

Here I am again in the 2ww. I think (temperatures yet to confirm) that I am now 2dpo.

I have noticed a pattern with my thoughts this time. Often I think I am happy with just one child. We are in a groove, lots of the baby stuff is behind us and we have a great life as it is - a baby would be hard. I can almost talk myself out of this whole TTC thing... until about 4 days before I am due to ovulate, then all of a sudden I really want another  baby! Hormones are amazing, aren't they!

This month we tried a couple of extra things. Firstly a fellow SMC on Fertility Friend recommended that I tried Instead Cups. These are increasingly being used by people TTC and worked for her, so I thought I would give them a go. The idea is that they keep the sperm close to the cervix, and there are a lot of success stories out there. I have to say I didn't find it particularly comfortable, but perhaps I didn't position it quite right as most people say they are quite comfortable. They are also hard to get hold of in the UK. I finally found some in the UK amazon store but they still had to be sent from the US, so if you order these allow at least a week for them to arrive.

I was also contacted after my last BFN by a digital marketing agent for Balance Activ, who have launched Balance Activ Conceive Fertility Gel designed to make getting pregnant easier. They offered to send me a free sample if I gave them a mention. I said yes of course - how could I resist? 

Balance Activ Conceive Fertility Gel is a sperm friendly lubricant which, unlike other fertility lubricants on the market, contains Hyaluronic Acid (HA) which plays an important role during and after fertilisation. HA has been proven to positively affect sperm mobility, and although HA is naturally present in the vagina and cervical fluid, Balance Activ Conceive Fertility Gel has been shown to make an improvement with sperm mobility and the levels of HA in the vagina.

As well as increasing mobility, Balance Activ Conceive Fertility Gel also creates a sperm friendly pH level in the vagina making a suitable environment for sperm. A healthy vagina has an acidic pH level that is aggressive to alkaline sperm, but by using Balance Activ Conceive Fertility Gel as a routine conception aid allows the sperm to move more easily towards the egg  and the chances of getting pregnant during the ovulation cycle are greatly enhanced.

Balance Activ Conceive Fertility Gel is available from the Balance Activ website (I have also seen it in Boots and on Amazon), along with further information about the Balance Activ product range and information on women’s intimate health.

I actually really liked this. It is great in that it comes in tubes that make it easy to insert and it works well with the cups, making it more appropriate for people like me than the tubes of lubricant. 

So all that, along with the Clearblue Fertility Monitor, OPK tests, Temperature Charting, Pregnacare supplements, Evening Primrose Oil, Omega 3 Fish Oil, Agnus Castus,  a healthy diet and recent weight loss, you can't say I haven't tried!

We'll see if it worked in about 12 days time!

No financial compensation was received for this post, but I did get sent the Balance Active Free of  Charge, in exchange for giving it a mention on my blog.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Almost Paleo

I have decided to describe myself as Almost Paleo

When I started A Wheat Free Life I was committed to not eating wheat again. I still am, but since following the Whole 30 and then starting the reintroductions, I have realised that my diet is going to be much more that Wheat Free. I have learned that dairy also saps my energy, that rice is hard on my digestive system, and that even the smallest amount of refined sugar disrupts my sleep and makes me feel totally wired. I haven't really reintroduced may grains or legumes yet, but I am hoping that I will be able to include a few things like quinoa, oats and chick peas  occasionally as I love them all. 

I chose Almost Paleo for several reasons;

Firstly, there seems to be several differing opinions about what is and what is not allowed on a Paleo Diet. Many people say you shouldn't eat sweet fruits, like bananas for example, yet Paleo Pancakes, made from bananas, are a favourite high protein breakfast with many Paleo converts. Dairy is included in some lists but not in others. I am not really wanting to enter into the debate of what is and what is not allowed. I am happy to accept that there are differences and work out what's right for me. I think others could benefit from doing the same. Here are some examples of the different interpretations. You can see there is a general theme, but there are also differences.


Secondly, there are degrees to which you want to take this Paleo idea. I have read blogs of people who are really strictly adhering to a Paleo lifestyle. One person stated that he missed riding his bike for example - Paleo exercise would be walking, running, lifting etc. not cycling. I am Almost Paleo as I am not taking it that far. I enjoy living in a house with electricity and other conveniences, and also drive a car. I am simply taking the bits of Paleo that add to my quality of life, and that is the diet above all else (though I do walk a lot and enjoy running too!).

Thirdly there are a few foods that everyone agrees are not Paleo, such as rice, which I am hoping to include, in small amounts on infrequent occasions in my diet.

Fourthly, many folks out there seem to be following an 80:20 rule - where they are Paleo most of the time, but make exceptions. Eating out is hard of you are going to be strict. I plan on following a Paleo diet as much as I can as I feel better for it, but realistically this will not be 100% of the time.

Finally, I am new to this, so the Almost reflects my learning and striving towards a goal.

Another contender for the title was Veggie Goes Paleo, as I was indeed pretty much vegetarian for 27 years (due to the fact that I didn't really like meat). I and have been gradually introducing it training myself to eat it for almost four years now. That too is still a work in progress. 

Please note I am not a nutrition expert. I did study nutritional medicine at The Australian College of Natural Medicine for a while, but didn't complete the course for a number of reasons, like moving to the opposite side of the planet and having a baby! I hope to go back to it one day in the not too distant future, just as soon as I have the time and money and find a nearer institution that supports the blending of both the holistic and the scientific approach to knowing. I have maintained a keen interest in the subject though, and writing this blog is one way that I can keep that going in the interim. 

Also, please be aware that I am not an expert on the Paleo Diet or the Whole30. This blog is simply about my journey, which may be of interest and perhaps even helpful to others.