A to Z of Happy and Healthy F is for Finding connection

F is for finding connection

I think loneliness is a just a little like depression, it's an isolating emotion, and it's a lying one.

It is a sneaky little voice inside that tells us we are the only one that feels like this, it lists the myriad ways in which we are different or left out.  There's a lot of talk of how technology is impacting on loneliness, making us feel less and less connected to each other even though we have more and more access to tiny details of each other's lives. 

So who do we blame?  Often technology.

Technology though is an easy target.

Yes our culture has shifted and continues to shift rapidly, due to technology and us adapting to the way it can be used and impact on our lives and relationships. We're increasingly encouraged to see each other as competition and not as company. We're bombarded by the right way to look, think and feel through technology, and especially television. But the thing is that it doesn't control us, and in fact it is just other people on the other end of technology pushing these messages towards us. 

Technology doesn't isolate us, it truly can connect us, not just superficially but our very hearts can reach each other over insanely vast distances. We can get to know each other in the most beautiful ways without ever getting to sit at the same table.

What distances us is that tricky lonely voice, the one that tells us we are separate and different. Separate and inferior.  Some of us are surrounded by people and still remain lonely, because that connection, the feeling of being really heard is missing.  We all want to be truly seen, and loved.  

But loneliness tries to outstrip that need. It tells us that in order to not be seen as less than we have to pretend we're not lonely, and that in fact everything is going brilliantly. That we're much too busy to fit in the very things that would rid us of loneliness. 

 If we truly want to move away from loneliness we need to  be brave put our hands up, raise our voices and say,

"Hey I'm lonely, and I'd love some company." 

It's hard, especially as an adult to do this, it feels as if you're admitting a flaw. It's time to let go of that flawed ideal, of people totally independent and capable, of not needing anyone else. I for one am a woman who can build my own home, create a kitchen and the things to cook it in, produce beautiful imagery and words. But what would any of that be worth if I didn't have the company and collaboration of other human beings?

A lot of us talk about making time for ME time, myself included, after all it's a big portion of what Mama Nourish is all about. But here's the thing, we don't just need ME time we also need WE time. 

It's important for us to find connections, it's great if we're able to make them face to face, it's also wonderful if we reach out across the electronic abyss and find them there. 

Make time for WE time, and reach out to break away from the trickery of loneliness. find those connections.  None of us need to be lonely.

Follow along with the rest of the A to Z of Healthy and Happy

A is for Air

 B is for Balance, Burnout and Breathe

C is for Clean Out 

D is for Ditch that bad habit

E is for Exfoliate

Five ways co-sleeping will improve your sex life

It’s the question many want to ask about co-sleeping, but are often too shy to.

Doesn’t it kill your sex life?

While it might seem intrusive it’s understandable people want to know. After all, one of the biggest adjustments to a relationship when a baby comes along is re-establishing your intimate connection.

Because of this, families who may otherwise be interested in co-sleeping could be put off by a perception that it will put a further crimp on reconnecting with their partner.

From my own experience and the anecdotes of other co-sleeping families this is absolutely untrue.

If anything, co-sleeping ups the inventiveness and adds spice to your sex life because it forces you to work together to find the space and time to enjoy each other as partners not just parents.

Here are five ways co-sleeping can improve your sex life...

Click through to Kidspot to read them  

Five ways co-sleeping will improve your sex life

Parenting a child with Cow Milk Protein allergy or intolerance, what you MUST know.

Cow Milk Protein Allergy or Intolerance, things parents need to know

I read an article recently which while not expressly about Cow Milk Protein allergy or intolerance reminded me of what a hard road it is to diagnose and to navigate the dietary changes that the allergy requires.  I know that at several points I thought we had it nailed, that the screaming and crying must be from something else only to find another hidden trigger.  Now I know that I don't have it under control unless I constantly keep it under control.  Generally speaking this means restricting us to whole foods prepared at home.

It is incredibly difficult in our highly processed western diet to remove all allergens that trigger CMP allergy. Many products contain cow byproducts and absolutely all cow products must be removed from the diet in order to be safe.  Information is scattered all over the place and most of what our family has learned was through trial and error.  I'm going to share what we have learned about living with CMP and while this is by no means exhaustive I hope it helps someone else falling in to the same pitfalls.  Perhaps it will make a family feel less alone, in those times where the screaming just won't stop and they think they might actually die from sleep deprivation.


How Cow Milk Protein allergy presents in the early days

  • Your baby may seem to have colic or reflux.
  • They will often not sleep for long periods, depending on how recently CMP has been in their system.
  • You may notice that they sleep better held against you and almost upright.
  • They often will push the breast (or bottle) away even as they are screaming with hunger as they quickly learn to associate feeding with stomach pain.
  • They will pull their little legs and ball up from gas pain
  • Their farts and poo will smell incredibly bad
  • They may have foaming poo they may not
  • They may have infrequent or very frequent bowel movements
  • They my be excessively mucousy
  • They may snore and have rasping breathing from congested airways
  • They may experience sleep apnoea from congested airways
  • They may have hives, red rashes or eczema


Hidden food traps and allergy pitfalls

I in all honesty thought many times that we had eliminated all triggers from Eve's diet, hidden food traps meant that another bout of reaction to the CMP which could last for four to six weeks by the time it completely cleared from my breastmilk and from Eve's system.  In the hope of saving others from this here are some ways that Cow Protein may be introduced to your child without you even realising.

Pre-cooked, seasoned and roasted chickens from most supermarkets and fast-food outlets. Most processed chicken is pumped with milk to tenderise the meat, which is not immediately obvious when you purchase a chicken from the deli or at a fast-food outlet where ingredient labels aren't prominent.

These ingredients while not always derived from bovine sources may be, so need to be avoided. Acid casein, Activated carbon, Anti-caking agent, Casein, Calcium stearate, Clarifying agent, Diglyceride, Enzymes-Lipases, Fat, Fatty acid, Fermentation aid, Foaming agent, Gelatin, Lactalbumin, Lactose, Lipase, Magnesium stearate, Monoglyceride, Natural flavour, Non-Kosher Glycerides, Non-Kosher Poly-sorbates, Oleic acid, Palmitic acid, Pancreatin, Pepsin, Processing aid, Rennet, Rennin, Simplesse, Sodium caseinate, Stearic acid, Suet, Tallow, Trypsin, Wax, Whey. 

This list is by no means exhaustive and goes a long way to explaining my shift to whole foods, if in doubt about an ingredient google its name and the word Vegan and you will often come up with the information you need, thank G-d for vegans!

Unlisted ingredients When Eve was small and we had eliminated most of the key triggers from her diet we still had recurring pain incidents. During this time a powdered chai that I had been buying was repackaged and you guessed it now included whey in its ingredients listing, sometimes products are not accurately labelled.  I'm not sure why but I feel that because CMP is often confused by people as lactose intolerance and not a more serious condition labelling for cow based products doesn't appear to be as stringent as for other allergens such as nuts.

Immunisations Despite informing several medical staff of Eve's allergy not once was it disclosed that there are Cow Proteins via both the inclusion of Gelatin and Animal Sera both often derived from bovine sources.  If you see BOX 1 at the base of this link from the Medical Journal of Australia you will see almost every single childhood vaccine contains cow product. This was one of the things that made Eve incredibly ill and ended our breastfeeding relationship.  We experienced four days of continual screaming, often in her sleep, and four weeks of illness after cow products we injected in to her body by medical staff who should have informed me. The ingredients of these injections are not disclosed in the informed consent forms you fill in either. I had to hunt down the information which is not an easy task even in the age of the internet, to be honest I remain incredibly angry about this.


Parenting techniques that helped our family

These methods aren't for everybody, but they did help us.

Baby Massage Gentle massage of the stomach and stretching of the legs can help your little one move the gas and soothe the pain that they are in.

Babywearing because of the stomach pains Eve slept more deeply and for longer times if she was held close to one of us.  Obviously as nice as it is it's not possible to spend every nap time in bed helping your little one sleep. Babywearing and finding the right sling was the right choice for us as Eve was comforted and felt safe and I was still able to cook meals and do housework or go places that I needed to.

Whole food diet The only way to be truly sure what you are consuming and passing on to your little one through breast milk or feeding them directly is to make the majority of food from whole sources. This might seem difficult but in the end is a lot less difficult that the nights of screaming one small dietary slip cause.


Remember CMP allergy / intolerance is NOT the same as Lactose intolerance

If your little one has a CMP allergy all of those awesome Lactose free products trickling in to the market are not going to do you any good. They do remove the lactose but not protein allergen triggers, steer clear of them.


I hope that some of this might be helpful to you or someone you know, as I mentioned before it can be difficult to find information on CMPI/A so it would be wonderful if you could share this resource on social media so it can reach those it could help.


Bittersweet Fig & Ginger Bliss Balls

Bittersweet fig & ginger bliss balls via Mama Nourish

I don't know about you but sometimes I find straight up sweet treats a bit boring. I mean that doesn't stop me shovelling them in to my mouth at high speed, but they lack a bit of that complex pleasure that I like my snacks to have.

Normally my favourite combination is actually salty and sweet, like salted caramel YUM!  But I also have a taste for the bitter.  This can probably be put down to a practical joke that backfired.

When I was quite small my uncles thought it would be funny to give me a lemon to snack on, expecting the sour face recoil that most kids have when introduced to lemon.  Not so for little(r) me, I ate that lemon with gusto and asked for more.

So I guess in a way I have them to thank for me heading down the path of a broader palate.

If you're not such a fan of the bitter in bittersweet I'd suggest you reduce the lemon substantially or remove it altogether, these will still taste fabulous without it.

This is another super quick and simple snack, so great if you've got sweet cravings and want to stop yourself from snacking on junk.

Bittersweet fig & ginger bliss balls via Mama Nourish

In either your blender or food processor throw all the ingredients.  

Pulse through until the figs are thoroughly broken down and the mixture has clumped together.

Sprinkle some extra cacao powder on a clean surface.

Roll teaspoon sized amounts of the mixture into balls and coat in the cacao.

Enjoy now or place in a sealed container ready for your next snack attack.

Why eat Figs?

Why Figs? via Mama Nourish

But dried figs? Isn't fresh best?

Dried figs are actually a fabulous source of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. And in fact, dried fruits hold higher concentrations of energy, minerals and vitamins. Making them perfect for when you have that exhaustion based snack craving.

But make sure you buy naturally dried fruits, you don't want drying chemicals in your food!

I can recommend Tabletop Grapes for naturally dried products as it is their passionate mission to provide you with the best quality chemical free fruit there is.

The current stockist list can be found here.

A to Z of Happy & Healthy - E is for Exfoliate

simple natural exfoliation techniques

Did you think E was going to be for Exercise?  I'm afraid not, exercise is a great contributor to being healthy and happy, but I'm not ready to talk about it just yet.  Besides, there's plenty of alphabet yet to discover some lovely ways to get moving!

For now at least I want you to focus on gently nourishing yourself as we work through the A to Z of Healthy and Happy, so this week is all about exfoliation. You know skin care might seem superficial, after all it's about our very surfaces, however many skin care techniques are infused with ritual and wisdom that have been passed down through the ages.

Exfoliation in particular requires you to find a little bubble of space where you are focused mindfully on caring for your body. Gently tending to it and thanking it for all the hard work it does, keeping your mind, spirit and heart going in this busy world.  It's the perfect way to be kind to yourself and you deserve that lovely Mama!

I'm going to take you through four exfoliating techniques so that when it comes to ways to spoil yourself you'll be spoilt for choice!

Dry Brushing

Great for getting your skin vibrating happily in the morning. It's best to use a natural bristle brush and if you have sensitive skin or haven't tried this before, to begin with a soft or medium brush before you move on to a firmer brush.  Dry brushing has it's roots in Ayurvedic wisdom, brushing towards the heart is believed to activate the lymphatic system helping to strengthen your immune system.

As the name suggests this is most effective when the brush and your body are dry, ideally before your morning shower. Begin at your feet using a circular motion, brushing your legs, then hands and arms before moving on to your back and abdomen. 

Take care to avoid any irritated skin, sunburn or scratches and lesions. 

Salt Scrubs

Anyone who has hung around here for a while will probably know that I'm a huge fan of salt, in particular a locally harvested pink salt thats packed with awesome minerals and is super pretty too. Salt scrubs are best for when you have a high level of dead cell build up or for tough areas like feet and as we get older elbows. They are on the more intense end of the exfoliation scale, so use with care and not as often as gentler exfoliation techniques.  

I prefer to prepare my salt scrubs with olive oil rather than coconut oil to allow for more free flowing movement of the salt crystals while I'm scrubbing.  The combinations of scrubs you can prepare are endless, do remember that even with natural products it pays to do your research and make sure the ingredients you choose are right and safe for your skin. 

Salt scrubs are best used when showering or bathing. I recommend popping under the shower to get damp skin first, turning your water off (don't waste that beautiful resource) and in a gentle circular motion, much like dry brushing work over your skin. Take time to focus on drier regions, massaging it in, but don't over scrub as sore skin isn't doing yourself any favours you want to freshen and brighten your skin not damage it. Once you've scrubbed yourself turn the shower back on and rinse the salt away.  I prefer not to use soap to remove the oil as it is a wonderful moisturiser for your new skin, and after the wash the water still beads.*

You can find try my heartsease scrub, which is great for little ones and you.

Sugar Scrubs

Sugar scrubs are the gentler sister of salt scrubs, great for regular maintenance without being too harsh on your skin.  They're easy and cheap to make, ensuring that you can always have one fresh and at hand no matter what your budget is.   Sugar scrubs are where the coconut oil trumps olive oil as a carrier in my opinion. I feel the coconut oil holds the sugar and other additions together better allowing you more time to gently exfoliate than if you used olive oil, I also find it doesn't run off the body as quickly meaning less wastage.  Coconut oil also makes sugar scrubs an ideal candidate for a luxurious soak and scrub in the tub, because it will help avoid the sugar dissolving the second it hits the water.

Fill yourself a lovely warm tub, maybe even treat yourself to some romance with music and candles. Give your skin a five to ten minutes to warm in the calming waters and then gently apply the scrub from to toe top, taking time to soak each scrubbed limb before moving on to the next. Take the kind of time and care you would if you were pampering someone you love, you deserve your own kindness as much as they do.

My current favourite sugar scrub was created by my lovely friend Christie when I fell in love with the idea of a very expensive one, she came up with a beautiful home made version that makes my skin sing.   I never did bother ordering the factory made one, this was too nice!

Washcloth / Facewasher and essential oils

Yes even the humble face-washer can be a wonderful addition to your exfoliation routine.  This one is great for the evening as when done right, that is in peace when little ones are asleep, it is an incredibly calming technique and a great way to scrub away a hard day.

You'll need a sink full of hot water, a few drops of rose hip oil, coconut oil and a clean washcloth (face washer).

Fill the bathroom skin with hot water, add a few drops of rose hip oil.  Soak the cloth in the water and then wring it out. Take care to keep the cloth hot but also not to burn yourself.

While the cloth remains hot gently scrub your skin, ensuring that when it begins to cool you re-submerge it in the water. Your skin may become a little pink and warm, but should not feel burnt. 

Once you have finished gently massage coconut oil in to your skin to revitalise.

Other exfoliating tips and tricks

The best time to exfoliate is morning. Your skin repairs itself during the night making morning the perfect time to buff away those left behind dead skin cells. So pop in to the bathroom ten minutes earlier to kick your day off with silkier skin.

When exfoliating your face don't forget to give your lips a gentle scrub. You can even use a little coconut oil on your clean toothbrush and  give them a nice massaging exfoliation, trust me it's nice.

The story of some boots

When a relationship is new, and things are right, there's that lovely bubbly love. The kind where you really only think about each other and the now. Things stick to the present tense and you may fleetingly fantasise about the future, or ponder your past before this, but you're firmly rooted in the now. New relationships inadvertently breed present people.  

 But when the stars truly line up, being present blossoms into mindfulness.

You both talk visions of the future.  

You still do the fun things, the road trips, the concerts and dinners. But you do them knowing whether you're headed in the same direction, as much as anyone can control that.

In those beautiful early days you might stroll hand in hand into a recycled clothing store, and see a tiny pair of cowboy boots. And even though you've only been together for a matter of weeks, you agree that they need to come home with you both. Ready to wait for little feet to fill them.

The boots come with you in the following years, house to house, waiting. 

Eventually tiny feet arrive for those boots to fill, and those boots don't seem so little anymore. 

So the boots wait a few years more, until the little feet and the boots can wait no longer. Even though the feet are still too small, or the boots too big. She fills them with her joy and her spirit. 

That early presence and mindfulness finding its reward in a pair of scuffed up boots and a beautiful pair of feet to fill them.