Monday, February 24, 2014


Last week I got a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.

My youngest, of 2 years 9 months, finally cracked the complexities of wearing pants and using a potty.

It's a lightbulb moment. A milestone that I've looked forward to for six years; a day I never thought would come; a day to be celebrated I think: the end of changing nappies, all day, every day.

I was at my wits' end for six years changing them… in my sleep, changing them on floors, car seats, knees, tables and beaches. Everywhere.

You don’t think about it until you’re in the middle of it. Then suddenly life becomes all about nappies and stinky, disgusting poo lingering under your fingernails, and bins overflowing until you drown in nappy quicksand and darkness descends. 

I have changed more crappy nappies over the last six years than I care to recall. Six years at an average of four nappies per day - could it really be as much as 8,760 nappies? It's a depressing calculation. Kids, they don't half make us wasteful !

And don't even get me started on wipes!

Finally, the nappy mountain is drying up (just night-time now) and the wheelie bin is getting lighter. At one time, we effectively had 3 kids in nappies and the wheelie big was back-breaking. 

What has replaced nappies is altogether more messy – with poocanos that explode as far as socks, resulting in every item of clothes having to be binned. Discovering puddles all over the house and stinky potties that I didn't know toempty that leave rooms smelling like men's urinals. He doesn't tell us when he's going on the potty, so an investigation into where he's sat after not wiping his bum can lead to unpleasant discoveries of poo-stained furniture. That's the next hurdle to overcome.

There's also a new nervousness when I go out, nagging the poor little fella every five minutes if he wants a wee. 

He's coping rather well with the change. He's becoming less of a baby and more of a boy. And it's lovely to watch him grow into such a strong and capable little person. 

My lovely Lorcan, well done my clever boy, you are making me very proud. 

Thank you for allowing the light to shine through the end of the tunnel. 


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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wheat Made Me Sick

It started out as a New Year detox, to flush my bloated body of the toxins that had built up over Christmas and years of neglect. 

I'd received a new smoothie maker for Christmas and decided to give up my indulgent white toast for breakfast in favour of an immune-boosting 5-fruit smoothie. Yes, 5-a-day all in one yummy drink that lasts all morning. Wonders never cease.

But once I’d been off toast for a few days, I decided to avoid bread altogether. It made me feel bloated and always craving more. I’d read somewhere that bread is pretty bad for the gut and a bread-break can give you loads of energy and help to shift the flab. I certainly needed that. 

I was suffering exhaustion throughout December, totally burnt out by life with three sprites, and I was already taking medication for an underactive thyroid, yet I still had no energy to do anything.

Even when I stripped back on going anywhere, and started saying ‘no’ to things, I still didn’t get my vavavoom back.

A week after giving up bread, I felt very different. Great, in fact. I was startin to wake up in the morning without the constant fog. I started to feel I was rested after sleep (not still shattered even after 8 hours!) 

  • I no longer became lethargic after eating.
  • My sinuses (a 20 year burden of all kinds of allergies) improved vastly. My itchy forehead and temples (that I often found myself clawing at) disappeared.
  • An eye twitch that would bother me at times vanished.
  • My eyes and face lost their puffiness.
  • My (mild) asthma disappeared.
  • My tingling in my hands and feet (I have carpal tunnel syndrome as well) is improving.
  • What else? Well the bloating started to go down. My energy returned. I found I no longer needed medication for underactive thyroid, so I stopped taking them about a month ago. 
It’s been a very interesting learning curve over the last month. I’ve been trying to consciously avoid wheat as much as possible – which is hard, because it’s in almost everything. I’ve had to start reading labels on packaging. I’ve had to start making food from scratch using non-processed ingredients. I’ve had to exercise great willpower when going to a pizza restaurant with friends to avoid one of my favourite foods, pizza. It was like torture but shockingly I did it. I opted for the gluten-free/wheat-free pasta instead and my world didn’t come to an end.

The upshot is, for the first time in years I feel good in my body. Not exhausted, not itchy, not bloated. I've realised that those symptons were not normal, even though I'd got used to them.

I've realised that I might no longer have to take daily antihistamines, a steroid nasal spray and thyroid pills for the rest of my life. 

I’ve realised that my ‘allergy’ which I thought was severe allergic rhinitis has actually developed into wheat intolerance, and possibly a form of gluten intolerance. 

I know that GLUTEN and WHEAT are two very different things, but I’m still learning, and I’m still trying to find, via a process of elimination and reintroduction, what exactly sets off my allergies and negative body responses.

From what I gather, some people – especially those with allergies and asthma – can be sensitive to gluten and wheat but don’t necessarily have celiac disease. These people may feel better on a diet with less gluten and less wheat. At age 41, I’ve suddenly discovered that I do feel better without it, and I might fall into this category.

The few times I’ve had wheat and gluten since my ‘elimination’ at the start of January, I’ve had a really itchy sinuses (forehead & nose) and belly straight away and I’ve felt a noticeable slump in energy. 

And so begins a new journey of discovery. Last night I ordered food online because I didn’t have time to spend hours in Tesco reading labels. Tesco has 90 products in the 'free from' range, which are wheat and gluten-free – and they’re about twice as expensive as normal food.

Will I bother getting tested, or is it best to just monitor foods and my reactions, and tailor my diet to meet immune system responses better?

From what I gather, testing (blood and skin-prick) for wheat and gluten allergies isn’t that simple, or accurate, and the full blown test for Coeliac disease involves a biopsy of the stomach lining.

The research I’ve carried out recently of the connection between my allergy symptoms and wheat has really opened my eyes, yet it’s never been suggested to me to be tested for this by a medical professional, even though I have a regular prescription for a steroid nasal spray. There are loads of first person stories on the internet with the same results, saying that because the immune system can be weakened by wheat and gluten, we can be so much more easily attacked by every day allergens. 

Articles related to wheat and allergies/Asthma

The big stunning piece of information I’ve discovered since going wheat-free is that the wheat commonly used in today’s products is so pumped full of nasties that our bodes can't handle it anymore.

I’m loving the Wheat Belly Blog and tips/recipes. The man behind Wheat Belly, heart doctor, Dr William Davis, says that wheat has been so genetically modified in the last 50 years that it’s become very bad for us: "Today's wheat has been genetically altered to provide processed-food manufacturers the greatest yield at the lowest cost; consequently this once benign grain has been transformed into a nutritionally bankrupt yet ubiquitous ingredient that causes blood sugar to spike more rapidly than eating pure table sugar and has addictive properties that cause us to ride a rollercoaster of hunger, overeating and fatigue." 

Dr William Davis

He also says that cutting out wheat can lead to weight loss, improved type 2 diabetes, reduction of inflammation, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis pain, asthma, and various skin problems.

I’m a convert. And I’m going to try to avoid it as much as possible. After an initial big adjustment and withdrawal, I no longer crave wheat - and so far I’ve lost half a stone. How good is that?

Did I really lose this much weight in a month?!

Some more links:
Your Addiction to Wheat Products Is Making You Fat and Unhealthy

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Netflix Stream Team

I am delighted to be a part of the official Netflix Stream Team bloggers group in Ireland.

Our family got up and running with our new Apple TV box and Netflix subscription last week, and I can honestly say we’re very impressed.
It’s made our TV an internet TV that can stream movies and programmes on demand.

It’s enabled my iPhone (via a downloaded Airplay app) to talk to my telly so I can stream video, photos and music from my phone straight onto the TV. "Look kids, watch the video I just took of you on the big screen".

It’s opened up a whole new world of decent TV programmes like House of Cards and Breaking Bad. Who knew Netflix made such good original content? I’m three episodes in to House of Cards (a bit like a theatrical West Wing with Kevin Spacey) and I’m so excited to hear that the second series is about to be released exclusively to Netflix this Friday. That’s about 20 episodes of thrilling content to watch on these stormy winter nights. It’s like the old days of boxsets when I wanted to stay in all weekend and watch all the episodes back to back. Apart from now I have kids to look after, so sadly that's not a runner any more.

A big plus point is there’s tons of kids stuff on Netflix – the kids will never complain of being bored again when it’s lashing rain and they can’t play outside. There’s loads of Lego movies for my eldest, a Mermaid show for my little girl and Thomas the Tank engine movies for my 2 year old. Sorted!
I can even stream catch-up-TV such as RTE Player through my iPhone – and watch YouTube clips through the Apple TV.

Naively, I expected a slow connection – and the spinning wheel of buffering death to appear quite often and impinge on my viewing – but guess what, once the programme has loaded (after only a few seconds of the spinning wheel), it’s high-definition free-flowing content. Not even a pixilated pause every now and again. You would never know it's streaming. It's amazing quality.

My most favourite thing at the moment is the individual profiles I’ve set up for everyone in the house, so we can save all of our favourites and build up our own preferences. This was Netflix comes back to us with more recommendations for each of us, based on what we've already watched, and I can ensure that the kids only see content aimed at under 12s. I can update these settings and preferences via the iPhone Netflix app or via the Netflix website on my laptop. It’s all so seemless and integrated.
I feel like I’m living in the house of the future that they predicted on Tomorrow’s World when I was a kid.

All I need now is: remote control curtains, a self-cleaning hoover and a front door that unlocks when I press a button....

Not far off living the dream...

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As part of the fun Stream Team campaign I will be bringing you news and updates every now and again, and sharing bits and pieces with you that I find of interest. Watch this space.

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What do you watch on Netflix? Any recommendations>>?

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