Celebrating The Small Things:Week Nine

This weeks ‘celebrating the small things’ is a bit about how I’ve been trying to think positively when things are not going the way you hoped. I am always a glass half full person and I wholeheartedly believe that thinking positively isn’t about expecting the best but accepting that whatever happens is the best thing for that moment in time.

A No No To Wheat For Frankie: We seemed to be spending a lot of time at St Thomas’s with Frankie this year in a bid to see if we can tick a few allergies off his huge list!
The other month we had a success with baked egg and I had high hopes for the wheat challenge but sadly it wasn’t to be. We had got right to the end of the five hour long test before he broke out in hives and was having itching in his throat and ears. We were both devastated as he had been sitting there all morning planning all the new foods he would be able to eat and this all came crashing down in one foul swoop!

On a positive note the reaction wasn’t as bad as it could have been and there is still good chance he could pass the challenge at a later date which we have everything crossed for.

And So Came The Snow: For me the attraction of snow is very short lived. Yes it looks very pretty and I love getting out to take photos in it, it is great fun to get the sledges out and bomb down the hills with the kids but it brings everything to a complete standstill, everything get cancelled and the kids eventually get bored of the whole thing!

I did however manage to embrace it as much as possible is as its such a rarety to get a few snow days in the UK. We went out and and enjoyed playing in the white stuff and then equally enjoyed getting back in to snuggle up with a hot chocolate.

Birthday Parties: Birthday parties when you have five children tend to take up a huge amount of the weekend, it is lovely for the kids but I often find myself thinking of the hundred and one ways I could be filling my day instead of being there though.

I have to say though this birthday party that was for Oscar’s best friend was an absolute delight.

None of the other children had really formed firm friendship groups whilst at nursery and would never really mention specific friends until primary school age. Oscar however is a different child althoghter and has a best friend that he speaks of very fondly and recalls their adventures at playgroup with such passion.

Its times like this the mum guilt kicks in for moaning about them having their own special times as they are such important experiences for them.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Five

Last week was a pretty hectic one full of all sorts of highs and lows that saw us here there and everywhere. I can safely say that we are looking forward to a break in routine and some fun and games during half term next week.

Here are the small things we have been celebrating:

Egg Challenge Success: Last week saw us taking a trip to St Thomas’s for Frankie to have his baked egg challenge. Frankie’s allergies aren’t something that apper heavily on my blog, I think this is because by the time I had started writing, the trials and tribulations that come with raising a child with allergies had settled and we had learnt to deal with the problems.
Since starting school though the problems and differences in his day to day life have come to light again and for him it is now impacting him in a more emotional way due to the fact he feel different to his peers.
School lunches are limited, baking at school and friends parties all see him singled out which can be upsetting for me as well as him.
We were over the moon that the baked egg challenge was a success and there has been another food to his list of things he can eat.

Much Needed Girly Time: Trips out are somewhat of a rarity for me and time alone with my Mum and sister is almost nonexistent. One of us is always working or there is a child in tow, so it was lovely to have the opportunity to have an afternoon out to the theatre to watch Cirque Du Soliel.
Aside from being a fabulous show having time to simply chat and giggle uninterruptedly was an absolute treat.

Watching My Husband Thrive: I really don’t praise my husband enough… he would completely agree with this but this weekend made me a very proud wife.
His absolute passion is fighting, so much so it has been lucky enough to forge a career out of this and his gym is going from strength to strength.
This weekend he took a team of his young fighters to a tournament and the success of all his students showed how much love, time and dedication he has shown each and everyone of them.

Allergy Friendly Easter Cupcakes

Easter is always a tricky time for Frankie and his allergies but this year he is feeling it even more so.

For a few months he had been allowed dairy and it had opened up his eyes to the world of real chocolate.

We had all really hoped that this would be the first year he would be able to get a Easter egg the same as his siblings but sadly this isn’t the case.

Stomach problems, bad skin and mood swings had all come on in force again and the doctors decided it was probably down to the dairy so we had to say goodbye to it again.

It’s been a hugely tough couple of months as he was so enjoying everything that came will the inclusion of dairy so this Easter I’m going to have to go that extra mile to make it special for him.

These cupcakes that mimic a chick cracking from an egg have really put a smile on his face and could easily be converted to your usual ingredients.

Allergy Friendly Easter Cupcakes 

  • 100g gluten free self-raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g dairy free spread
  • Egg replacer for equivalent of 2 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder 
  • Pack ready roll fondant icing 
  • 12 decorative chicks
  • 12 cupcake cases 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/400F and lay out cases into cake tin.
  2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix with electric whisk until combined.
  3. Place ingredients into cases as bake for 13/16 mins.
  4. Once cook allow to cool on rack.
  5. Whilst cooling roll out a small amount of icing to about a thickness of 2cm.
  6. Cut out a circle slightly larger than the cakes and create a cross in the middle.
  7. Lay on top of the cake and peel up edges of the cross to open a whole in the centre.
  8. In this gap place one of the chicks to create the look of a hatching chick.

Olsson Haircare Collection Review

We are a pretty sensitive bunch in this house with my husband and youngest two being eczema sufferers and psoriasis causing regular problems for me.

Over the years I have found plentiful products that deal with sensitive skin but not so much in the realms of haircare.

I found this particularly hard with the boys as I have always been very careful to keep their baths product free so when it comes to hair washing it always has to be done before they get in the bath which they hate and just adds extra time and stress to bath time.

We were asked by the Scandinavian company Olsson to try out their haircare range that has been formulated especially for sensitive skin.

Their products have been geared towards allergy and asthma sufferers but would be suitable for the whole family to use.

All additives, perfumes and parabens have been avoided, leaving a haircare range that would cover a huge range of allergies and sensitivities.

It is a complete collection that covers cleansing, conditioning and styling and offers shampoos, conditioners, mouses, hairspray and styling wax.

I am always a little apprehensive about trying new things on the children but given they all have the seal of approval from Allergy UK it put my mind at rest and was happy for us all to see how they stood up to the test.

The volume shampoo left us all with squeaky clean hair and I didn’t miss the fact it wasn’t scented like I thought I would be.

It caused no irritation to the boys scalp or their skin even though the suds were I the bath with them for a good while.

The wash off conditioner was a great addition to our haircare routine and the addition of aloe vera and B5 left all our hair really soft and conditioned.

Number three has very unruly, long hair that always need a little extra TLC so the spray in conditioner was easily combed though and didn’t leave any sticky residue like a lot of leave in conditioners can.

The styling products were left down to my to try and first up was the spray, lift and hold mousse. Instead of spraying into your hand and applying to your hair it is sprayed directly onto the roots.

It was a little watery for my liking but still gave me good hold and was easy to blow dry once on.

With my flyaway hair a good hairspray is an everyday essential for me and Olsson have created a medium hold hairspray that didn’t sting my scalp like many hairspray a can and controlled my straggly hairs perfectly all day.

I found the whole of Olsson’s range perfect for the whole family. No irritations and perfectly cleansed and styled hair for us all!

*we were given these products for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

What If You Couldn’t Afford To Feed Your Baby

All any mother wants is the guarantee that when her precious little bundle arrives she will be able to keep them safe, healthy and happy.

We all go out of our way to give our babies the best start in life that we possibly can…but what if this taken out of our hands and problems arise.

When I had number four as many of you will know we had a really tough journey after his was diagnosed with multiple food allergies.

I had never really considered what a huge impact this would have on us and it took months of hospital visits and teams of wonderful staff that managed to get this issues under control so that we could go be safe I the knowledge that we could bring up our son so that he would grow and nourish like any other child.

I was lucky enough to manage to breastfed for two years by excluding all allergiens from my diet, but as he got older his diet was so limited that he struggled with weight gain and up until the age of four he was prescribed a formula milk that was suitable for him.

Along with this and up to the present time we also get safe bread and pasta for him that have been a huge help as they are so costly to buy and the bread alone that is only available online at the cost on nearly £5 for one small loaf.

Sadly I have just heard that the Clinical Commissioning Group for the borough of Croydon are now going to stop providing infant formulas and gluten free products on prescription.

Can you imagine having a newborn baby that needs feeding and having to find the money to pay sometimes as much as £45 for one small tin of formula.

With an average of two tins being used per week I would struggle to find many families that would be able to find upwards of £360 a month to feed one baby, infact this amount would probably equate to what most families would spend on a food shop for their entire family.

I fully understand that the NHS is under extreme pressure and cuts and changes need to be made so that this fantastic service can be kept for us, but taking food from the mouths of babes is a step to far and will have serious implications for so many families in this borough.

If this affects you in any way or you feel this is unjust then please feel free to sign this petition ‘here’.

Allergy Friendly Halloween Ghosts

When you have a child with allergies times like Halloween can be a bit of a tricky time with treats around every corner.

I’m planning ahead this year and making sure number four has plenty of treats ready for the weekend ahead.

One of my easiest and most loved recipes for him are my Rice Krispie lolly pops

I have used the basic ingredients from this and changed it around a little to create these cute ghosts.

Allergy Friendly Halloween Ghosts 

  • 150g Rice Krispies
  • 3tbsps dairy free spread
  • 320g dairy free white chocolate 
  • Dairy free chocolate drops for face 
  1. Over a low heat melt the butter and marshmallows in a large pan.
  2. Once melted add Rice Krispies until completly covered.
  3. Take a small handful of mixture and mould into an elongated oval shape that is tapered at the end to create a tail.
  4. Place onto greaceproof paper and cool in the fridge for about thirty minutes.
  5. Meanwhile melt the white chocolate in a bowl over the top of a pan of boiling water.
  6. Once the ghosts have hardened up cover the top half in the chocolate, add a few chocolate drops for eyes and a mouth and place back in the fridge to set the chocolate.
  7. Once hardened they are ready to serve.

Allergy Friendly Pizzas

Saturday nights should be about rubbish food and easy watching TV with the family. 

With number four’s allergies the biggest no no is pizza so instead of ordering a big greasy takeaway we love to get the kids involved and make our own pizzas so that number four doesn’t get to miss out on the fun.

This allergy friendly pizza crust recipe is fine for the whole family but to be honest the others prefer a normal base.

We let the children chose which topping they like and let them get on and get creative.

   
 

Here is my pizza crust recipe if you fancy giving it a go:

Allergy Friendly Pizza Crust

  • 450g Wheat Free Flour
  • 3/4tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2tsp Baking Powder
  • 1tsp Sugar
  • 1tbsp Yeast
  • 360ml Warm Water
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C 160CFan or gas Mark 5.
  2. Combine half the water with the yeast and leave for about five minutes.  Add the sugar after the first few minutes.
  3. In another bowl add the flour and baking powder and mix well.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture, oil and the rest of the water.  Stir well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Take the dough and place onto a floured surface and form your pizza base.  Place into a lightly greased tray and cook for around 30mins.
  6. Remove from the oven and cover with a tomato sauce base and your favourite ingredients.
  7. Place back into the oven and cook for another 20 mins.

    

We had a selection of cheese, ham, pepperoni, sweetcorn, olives and peppers.

   
 

The children loved the whole process and cleared their plates.

What is your favourite pizza topping?
  

  

  

Just Me And Baby 

  
You would have thought that by child number four I should be hardened to that ‘first day’.  As today proved I’m clearly not!

It was number four’s first day at nursery and all of those mixed emotions came flooding through just as they had with the others, but with a few more thrown in.

Number four has without doubt been my most challanging child.  He is massively strong willed, extremely boisterous and is hugely outgoing.

This has driven me to the edge over the past three years yet I wouldn’t have him any other way.  I just worry now how his character is going to go down in a nursery environment.  Play areas and toddler groups have always been a challange for us and I would be on guard the whole time.  In a large nursery with lots of children I am worried he will realise he has a bit to much free reign as there are plenty more children that need to have an eye kept on them. 

There is also the worry that I’m not there to watch what he is eating and as he has not reached a level yet where he understands his allergies I am in a real panic that I am going to be getting ‘that’ phone call!

The upside to him getting some much needed structure to his day is that I get to have a few hours on my own with number five.  He is such a placid child that has really been a little pushed into the background being the last in a long line of little ones.  It’s his time now and I am going to make the most of trips to the park, toddler sessions and cuddles on the sofa with my little baby for those precious few hours of the day.

  
  

Allergy Free Cottage Pie

  
With the colder weather and darker nights drawing in a firm family favourite has appeared back on our menu…cottage pie goes down well with all of the children and this recipe makes it safe for number four too.

Allergy Free Cottage Pie

  • 1kg Minced Beef
  • 2 Chopped Onions
  • 3 Sliced Carrots
  • 2 Cloves Chopped Garlic
  • 3 tbsp Wheat Free Flour
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 850ml Wheat Free Beef Stock
  • Sprigs Of Thyme
  • 1 1/2kg Chopped Potatoes
  • 220ml Oat Milk
  • 25g Dairy Free Margarine


  1. Heat a little oil in a large pan and brown the mince.  Next add the vegetables and cook for around twenty minutes.  Add the puree, flour and garlic and cook for another few minutes.  Add the stock and herbs and cook uncovered for about 45 minutes.
  2. Place the potatoes into a pan of boiling water and cook until soft. Once ready drain and mash together with the milk and margarine.
  3. Lastly spoon the meat into a large ovenproof dish and spoon the mash potato into the top. Score all over with a fork and cook for 30 minutes in the oven at Gas Mark 7, 220C/200 Fan.
  4. Once bubbling and golden it will be ready to serve.

There is always a big debate in this house as to how it is served.  My favourite is fresh green vegetables and the the others favour baked beans.  What is your favourite accompaniment?
  

A Reminder Not To Get Complacent With Allergies 

As a few of you will know number four has suffered from multiple allergies since he was a few months old.  Apart from some recipes I have not yet spoken a lot on my blog about this.

He was formally diagnosed with an allergy to nuts, sesame, soya, dairy, eggs and wheat at around 6 months.  And now carries an Epi Pen.  

We went through a really rough time of cutting all of this from my diet as I was breastfeeding, trying to keep his servere excezma under control and the long slog of finding a varied diet to introduce to him one he started weaning.

A couple of years on and his excezma is completly under control and the only problem will still have is his overly sensitive tummy that still causes problems.

That was until last night!  Whilst preparing dinner he was complaining of itchy eyes, to which I told him he must just be tired and did not pay to much attention to.  A few minutes later he was on the floor sobbing.  As I looked at him, his eyes were nearly closed over and were massively red and puffy.

I got some Piriton into him and phoned my husband who came home and rushed us to the hospital.  He was given some steroids and we were kept under observation for four hours.

It was a real wake up call to how things can change when you have a child with allergies, and you should never take things for granted.  We still don’t know what caused last nights attack.  He could of got hold of an allergin that he is known to have or it could be something completely new.

Life with my little allergy boy can be hard work and at times very scary.  Last nights little shock had definalty been a reminder that we need to be continually aware of him and his surroundings at all times.