All those scorching Australian summers that I spent oiling myself with ‘Hawaiian Tropic’ –- how it makes me cringe! If only this product was around when I was in my late teens… okay, who am I kidding, I still would have ignored the facts, all for a deep bronze tan that didn’t ever last. The fact is that the sun ages your skin prematurely and causes cancer. Whilst I did come to my senses long ago, I am sure that I still wear the damage of those early reckless years. These days, I don’t leave home without having applied Invisible Zinc to each and every member of my family (husband excluded here, he is not partial to me assaulting him with ‘goo’ every morning — not for want of trying, mind you).
The concept behind Invisible Zinc is technology that provides a physical (not chemical) barrier between you and the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. They use a world patented form of Zinc Oxide that has been milled down so that it is no longer visible to the naked eye …fortunately you can banish all images of the white zinc-nosed, speedo-clad Aussie lifeguard, not quite the look I favor either when I head for the beach! Zinc Oxide is a natural sunscreen agent that sits on the skin reflecting dangerous UVA and UVB rays without unnecessary chemical sun-filters (incidentally, most chemical sunscreens offer little or no protection against UVA rays).
So Courtney, take note! This Aussie product is a must-have for you and your family over the coming months… and for those of you shivering in the Northern Hemisphere, as strange as it may seem, summer is just around the corner! (-:
My first two babies were born in London. Even though I had both of them through the National Health Service system, I went to the Fetal Medicine Centre (FMC), a private clinic on Harley Street in London, for the 11-13 week scans. Reason is, the founder of the FMC is Professor Kypros Nicolaides, the world’s authority on fetal medicine and the person who discovered the relationship between Down Sydrome and the measurement of the nuchal translucency!
Since I was exactly 12 weeks pregnant when we met with the girls in London a few weeks ago, I decided that this little baby also had to receive the test of all tests at the place of all places. And it was fabulous to see that little person happily moving around inside of me!
Everything looked absolutely perfect at the scan, BUT (and here’s the but!) I was told that the nasal bone of this little 12-week-old creature was on the small side. Not non-existent, but small. And, I was told, a non-existent, or very small nasal bone is one of the soft markers for Down syndrome. However, since the rest of the rest of the test was good, and the results of the blood test were fine, the overall chance of a chromosomal disorder was still considered small. (more…)
School started last week and, as in other countries, measures are being taken on how to prevent the spread of the virus. Children are being asked to sneeze into a tissue, wash their hands and cough into their elbow. If there are more than three cases of the flu at any school, the authorities will decide if they should close down the school. In October, if the media is to be believed, all children will be offered the vaccination at school.
Without wanting to trivialize the subject, the hysteria around swine flu seems a bit overblown! From talking to friends who have been diagnosed with it, it isn’t any worse than the common-all-garden variety. There have been very sad cases of people passing away after having been infected by this flu, but the toll does not seem to be higher than during the normal flu season.
So why all of this excitement? (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Sage soup
My daughter is very much loving her new Zoobug sunglasses. It’s funny how kiddie sunglasses nowadays are so nice – I don’t remember having such cool sunglasses as a kid. (I actually don’t recall having sunglasses to start with!)
The fact is, it’s a good idea to find your kid sunglasses with good lenses, as the sun can do a lot of damage to young eyes, and so you want them as protected as possible.
Zoobug was created by Dr. Julie Diem, an ophthalmologist from London who after searching good quality sunglasses for her niece discovered that they simply didn’t exist!
Zoobug sunglasses are sweet looking, sturdy and flexible and have lenses that are UV400, filter blue light and are impact resistant, giving sensitive children’s eyes the best protection possible.
I have just returned from Ireland where I was visiting my family and I can promise you I don’t think I have ever had so many cups of tea.
The Irish LOVE their tea, and long may it continue as there is nothing better in life than sitting in a warm kitchen, taking a bit of time out while sipping a good cup of tea and solving the worlds problems. (I actually think that a lot of the world’s problems would be much better solved if they were being discussed over a good cup of tea in a warm Irish kitchen instead of in conference rooms of the White House and 10 Downing Street, but that is a different matter entirely…).
Now, I have always known how good tea is to drink but I had no idea that you could also use the leaves for all sorts of things. On the flight from Paris to Dublin my toddler had a gunky eye and the lovely (Irish) air hostess suggested that I wipe it out with a cold tea bag. I have no scientific understanding of the medicinal value of the common black tea bag but I thought it was worth a try. I tried it and her eye cleaned up instantly! Now it might have been getting better on its own anyway, but I reckon the tea bag trick cannot do any damage and certainly is much nicer than squirting antibiotics into her eyes…
I’m usually a fashion magazine reader, but lately I’ve been tempted (while stuck in line at the checkout) to grab the mags that promise easy weeknight dinners or dresses that make you look thinner, like plenty of hurried moms out there. My latest purchase was the July issue of O Magazine, in which I’ve discovered a very interesting article on shopping. I consider myself a bit of a shopping expert, or shopaholic at the least, and I’ve even managed to make a career out of it with my shopping tours in Paris. (When I was 2, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I answered, “A shopper like my Mommy!”)
And this article, entitled 6 Common Shopping Traps, proves what I’ve known all along– shopping does something to the brain to make you feel better! That is, in some individuals, anyway — it seems that “feel good” parts of the brain are activated when they shop, and others have strong reactions in the pain centers in the brain. Think I can convince my husband that shopping is actually making me healthy? Check out the article for more info and other tips on how not to overspend. Thanks, Oprah!
A while ago I was sitting in my neighbour’s kitchen and spotted some brown bananas. Thinking of Courtney’s delicious banana bread recipe, I asked her if I could have the bananas if she was planning to throw them out (I knew she wouldn’t make banana bread herself – it’s not common at all here in the Netherlands)! She kindly refused, explaining that they had a family addiction to smoothies, so every over-ripe banana was very much needed!
Smoothies? It started to make me think:
- Smoothies are yummy
- Smoothies are healthy
- I finally found the excuse to buy one of those cool blenders!!!
So, the next weekend I convinced my husband that for the health of our family we needed a KitchenAid blender. (I admit, I completely went for the look of it; I didn’t read one review and didn’t compare prices!) And I love it.
Now, having just entered the world of smoothie making, I’ve discovered it’s an art by itself! There are a million recipes to find; you can use fruit, (soy)milk, yogurt, frozen berries, nuts, tofu, cereal, even egg whites!
No, this is not the start of a crime scene investigation. Yesterday I took my 4-year-old daughter to the health centre for her last childhood immunisation (until she’s 9, that is).
At the breakfast table — thinking that going cold turkey would be slightly unfair at this age – I matter-of-factly mentioned that this afternoon we would go to the doctor to get her a shot (as if we were going to get her a new summer coat).
Apparently, the little 4-year-olds have been spreading the news — my daughter started sobbing uncontrollably!
Only after the promise of a huge ice cream did she calm down a bit and we went on with our usual daily affairs. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Spa business meetings
I’ve got another question for you all seeing as you were so helpful last time. What do you do when your baby can’t shake a cough? Little C has had a cough now for quite a few weeks. It alternates from being dry and chesty to rattly and wheezy. I just spoke to my mum and she says I should give him Baby Panadol every night until it clears. She is a big fan of pharmaceuticals, obviously!
I have been just trying to let it clear naturally. But it really isn’t going anywhere and my mum says that unless I treat it soon it might develop into bronchiolitis. As you might remember, he is nine months old and going to child care – so constantly exposed to germs. He doesn’t have a cold at the moment and is in good spirits. Just coughs a lot. What do you think I should do: let it run its course or intervene?
I know most you have children already, but there is a chance someone might be looking for some suggestions about pregnancy books — if only to give as a gift to their good friend who is expecting for the first time.
To tell you the truth some people I know go through pregnancy (even the first) without reading anything but the NHS leaflets, and it’s perfectly fine! But if you are like me than you might want one or two (or three) books that tell you in depth what’s going on inside you.
So here we go, this is what I read:
1. What To Expect When You’re Expecting: This must be the best-seller pregnancy book ever. It’s easy to read and it contains loads of information. Although I read the revised UK edition it felt a bit too much focused on the American system.
2. The Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth: This could be a good companion to any other more “serious” pregnancy manual you choose. It does contain loads of advice and information, but the week-to-week progress is narrated in a semi-fictitious weekly diary. Really funny — this will not allow you to take yourself too seriously.
3. Birth and Beyond…: This is definitely my favourite. I found it reassuring and empowering, something you badly need during your first pregnancy. It covers pregnancy and the first 9 months of the baby’s life. Written by one of the world’s leading obstetricians, it takes a holistic approach covering aspects regarding both parents and the baby. It also includes an extensive reference section.
So this is what I have in my library. What’s in yours?
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Pasqua
Having been raised on a farm surrounded by plants and animals, I’m pretty sure I ate my fair share of dirt, sand, and maybe even the occasional worm! (I remember my older cousins daring me to eat one!) While we were always told to wash our hands before meals, my four siblings and I grew up in a household where germs were truly no big deal. Dogs licked our faces, my siblings and I often shared food, and we probably even ate something that had fallen on the floor. My mom was certainly no ‘germaphobe’.
While my ‘dirty’ childhood probably makes many mothers today cringe, I was quite pleased when I read last year that kids who grow up on farms or with animals go on to be healthier later in life. So… all that dirt was actually good for me!
I recently read this article in the New York Times which also suggests that dirt, germs (and even worms!) are crucial to building kids’ immune systems, and preventing autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.
I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel a bit more relaxed about what my kids put in their mouths!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Jip and Janneke
Over the holidays we went to visit our family, and of course my toddler son (who was already severely covered in chicken pox) got the worst cold attack. A blocked nose and nasty cough kept him from sleeping, the poor little guy. Of course I didn’t have any cold medicine handy –shame on me– and all the shops were closed over Christmas! Thankfully my sister-in-law knew of an old, tested-and-true home cold remedy: just put an onion cut in pieces in the corner of the bed or on the night table! The sulphury fumes will relieve head congestion; breathing will become easier and a blocked nose begins to clear.
Effective, cheap, and always readily available!
P.S. The smell is not that bad…
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Pen obsessed…
Courtney recently wrote a post about the cute things kids say… but what about the things kids say that put you in a tight spot?
Our household has been hit by the chicken pox virus, both our girls have been covered in spots. A couple of days ago we finally managed to venture out and were happily sitting on the metro when my daughter exclaimed in a voice that could be heard for miles: “Mommy, that lady over there has got chicken pox, she needs to go to the doctor and get fixed!” I looked over at the lady she was pointing at (as did the rest of the carriage). The lady in question must have had some acne as a teenager and had slightly pocked skin. Nothing shocking, but definitely something that she would have been aware of herself and did not need a two-year-old to point out! And the 2-year-old just kept on going, “Lady! Lady! You there: Lady! You have got chicken pox! You need to go to the doctor and be fixed!!!”
Luckily the lady in question thought she was being funny and laughed, but we were really lucky to fall on someone with a sense of humour, or else I really wouldn’t have known what to do! To be fair my daughter actually thought she was being genuinely helpful, but lets face it, it was a really, really inappropriate thing to say. I have tried to explain that to her, but I am not sure if it really did compute…..
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Mmmmmont d’Or
Our second daughter is now 6 months old and we have started weaning her, and she is really enjoying a change from plain old milk. The thing is… with our first daughter, weaning was a big deal for us and I would spend hours reading books on concocting the perfect nutritious purée, but this time round I don’t have the same luxury. I often need to give the baby something to chew on while I get a meal in front of the eldest. The good thing is, she loves feeding herself much more than being fed.
I read about baby-led weaning a couple of years ago and recently read an article about it in the Guardian. It is apparently very popular in Holland (as usual the Dutch are a bit more advanced than the rest of Europe). The theory is that you give your baby food they can pick up and then let them go crazy: steamed vegetables and fruit, bananas, and avocado all work. You feed them whatever you can cut up into big chunks and soften so that they cannot choke on it. At the end your table will look like a vegetable battle field, but your baby will have had the best time.
I don’t know how much food actually gets eaten, so I am still feeding my daughter purées, but I do believe she is getting to enjoy food and develop her motor skills whilst having a great time with the rest of the family at the dinner table.
You may wonder what all of these things have in common…. Baking Soda, otherwise known as Sodium Bicarbonate or NaHCO3.
Whenever I am googling for random things like an alternative to household cleaners or something to calm itchy skin, Baking Soda always turns up trumps.
I guess it is due to the Baking Soda’s alkaline nature. If you add it to water it raises the PH levels of the water, making it softer and therefore soothing for itchy skin. It also breaks down fat, so can be used to unblock drains and clean kitchen surfaces. Last, but definitely not least, it raises dough and it is an essential ingredient for cookies, muffins and lots of other treats!
Anyway, even if I sound like an old-fashioned housewife, I now actually have a massive box of Baking Soda in my kitchen cupboard and it gets used regularly! Oh, how my world has changed….
A while ago I wrote a post about Mette Mitchel’s lovely webshop called Flawless. I’m sure you remember that post, as all the items Mette sells are seriously wonderful.
But that’s besides the point, this time.
When I was browsing Mette’s shop, I found out that Mette’s daughter Miko fell very ill with meningitis at the young age of 7 months.
Meningitis! I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but I knew it was super scary and extremely dangerous. I sent Mette an email, and told her I was glad her baby was alive and well. In her reply she told me how frightful it had been, how happy and thankful she is that Miko is alive and well today and that she now donates 10% of all of the sales made at Flawless Home Parties to a UK Children’s Charity, the Meningitis Research Foundation. She also mentioned that it would be Meningitis Awareness Week in the UK this week…
Quickly the idea took place to help spread the awareness of meningitis (and septicaemia), as, I found out, it is EXTREMELY important to know the symptoms of this disease. Meningitis moves fast. Very fast. It’s all about recognizing the symptoms and getting help ASAP.
So… What exactly is meningitis (in short)? (more…)
When Esther from Babyccino told me they would run a story about meningitis and septicaemia I felt so grateful. I know that it is not the kind of stuff we normally read about in the fabulous blogs that I love so much; meningitis and septicaemia are ugly and not something we like to think about, but never the less – simply knowing the symptoms helps to save lives from this horrible disease. That, and a mother’s instinct!
My daughter battled the disease when she was nearly 7 months old…
One day, on a casual lunch out with a friend and her baby, Miko didn’t seem well. I took her home immediately. She was crying, her temperature went up and there was nothing I could do to comfort her. I took her to my GP who sent us to A&E (Accident & Emergency), simply as she put it “to rule things out”. They looked at her in A&E. They gave her paracetamol and let us stay in a room while they were running tests on blood and urine and they kept an eye on us for a couple of hours. In the end Miko seemed a lot better and they sent us home with an appointment for the next morning.
Miko got worse during the night, and we did our best to comfort her in our bed. In the morning we went back to the A&E way before we had our appointment because we were simply not happy with her. She was crying in a way that I’ve not heard her cry since, and she continued to run a temperature.
Of course everybody will tell you that babies cry, and who hasn’t heard stories about high temperatures in babies that proved to be harmless? But my instinct was telling me that something wasn’t right, and thank God I was listening.
Miko was very ill. We were sitting in the waiting room of the A&E unit when a nurse came to listen to her heart, and from that second it all became a blur of doctors and nurses, orders being shouted out, medication and what seemed like 100 beeping machines attached to my baby. As a parent standing on the side it felt as if my child had been robbed away from me. While the doctors do whatever it takes to save the child, you feel useless, helpless and your heart is being crushed into a million pieces. (more…)
I LOVE my local pharmacy. Whatever problem I have, they always seem to have the right cream, lotion or potion for it. I think that part of my love affair for pharmacies is because roughly 80% of my French family are pharmacists. Then again when you look at the amount of pharmacies in France, 80% of the population must be pharmacists… but I think there is more to it than that. In France we are medication mad; maybe due to the socialized health care system, but here in France more people visit doctors than in any other part of the world. For every ailment, no matter how small, there is a cure you can pick up at your local pharmacy.
But it does not stop there – pharmacists are not only at your beck and call when you have a medical problem, but also when you want to indulge yourself. I buy most my creams, shampoos and the kids’ creams and shampoos at the pharmacy. Most pharmacists, even in tiny villages, stock La Roche Posay, Nuxe, Caudalie etc. and if they don’t they can almost always order the product you need within 24 hours. (more…)
Apparently motion sickness is written in your genes and it’s therefore hereditary. So given that I get sick when riding backwards in a black cab or when I’m waiting on the platforms for a motorboat in Venice, my poor son was bound to have a motion sickness issue.
I am glad to report that he is getting somehow better as he gets older; at least he can now warn you when he is about to throw up… a major improvement!
Every tip I’m going to give is just common sense — we have never tried medicines (we thought he was too young and not sick enough) and we never tried the elastic armbands (because they did not work with my pregnancy sickness).
The first important thing is to try to keep the fluid intake on the low side before you get on the car (or bus or boat), and definitely avoid milk. If he throws up milk you will regret it for the whole vacation. Juice, chamomile or baby tea do not leave the same smell!
Of course the ideal would be for your child to be asleep during the more troubled part of the trip (open sea tracts or mountain roads), but one can’t always be that lucky. My advice is to bring some very dry savory snacks and let him eat those during the most troubled moments. Sailmen swear on bread with anchovies, but that may be a dash too strong of a flavour for Junior! (more…)