Fun Days Out

Big Toddle’s Little Breakfast

Kieran Harnett
The expert panel: Jenna Russell, Sarah Keogh, Alison Canavan, Sybil Mulcahy.

On 26th April I attended the Big Toddle’s Little Breakfast event to launch Barnardos Big Toddle Box for 2017. The Big Toddle for Barnardos is the biggest fundraiser for the under fives in Ireland and has raised over 3.3 million in support of Barnardos Early Years services. The Early Years services ensures that some of the youngest children they work with are best prepared for the transition to ‘Big school’ and get the best possible start in life. This May and June will see up to 50,000 toddlers nationwide lace up their boots and take up the challenge to Toddle a half mile sponsored walk to help children their own age. It’s all about children helping children, and little feet making a BIG difference.

img_0316-2The launch took place in the Dean Hotel in Dublin, who kindly laid out a lovely light Breakfast with tea and coffee. There was a panel there on the day who discussed a variety of parenting topics for toddlers, including sleep and routines, childcare, expected verses actual behaviour, child development and milestones, parent well-being, being a working parent and more. The panel was made up of Alison Canavan – health and wellness coach, Jenna Russell – Barnardos Early Years, Sarah Keogh – Toddlebox Dietitian and Sybil Mulcahy – Editor of Evoke.ie and TV presenter.

Some of the books from the goodie bag

I have to say, it was a really enjoyable morning and I enjoyed listening to the panel about all of their suggestions, and hearing about their own parenting views and experiences. We also received a fabulous goodie bag which contained the Toddlebox fundraising pack, and some booklets, which will be really useful for the Montessori course that I am currently completing. We also received some Elave skincare product samples, sweeties and a beautiful room spray by Purcell & Woodcock.  There was also a HUGE chocolate bunny from Benoit Lorge Chocolatiers in County Kerry, which was given out to the person who had the most entertaining tweet about the event….which was me!! I never win anything so I really wasn’t expecting to win it! It was so big that it was nearly half the size of me….I got some funny looks walking back to the car with it!!

 

The fundraising pack includes all of the Big Toddle essentials including stickers, masks, and hats for all the children and a fun colouring competition (where you will be in with a chance to win a fab prize from www.gardenplay.ie). There is also an easy to read information booklet, a media pack to help promote your event, and other materials for the group leader. If you would like to know more about how to get your hands on their fundraising pack head over to their website www.barnardos.ie/bigtoddle.

 

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My Hyper-Mobile Child

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So it turns out that Ruby has hyper-mobility. This is something that I had never heard of until Ruby was diagnosed with it and yet, I found out that it’s something that I also have, although not to the same extent as Ruby. Someone who suffers from hyper-mobility is basically really flexible, there are differing degrees of it…Ruby is super flexible, like rubber. If you go to pick her up under her arms she’ll basically slide out of your hands if you’re not aware that she has it. I first noticed that something was up with her joints when she was about four or five months old. I noticed that when she was held up in someones arms, that her arms would bend right back behind her, same with her legs when changing her nappies. Considering her birth story, I of course jumped to all sorts of conclusions as to what could be causing this. So when she was called for her six month check up I mentioned it to the health nurse who took a quick look at her. She checked her joints and confirmed that she had hyper-mobility. She explained that it meant that Ruby’s joints were more flexible than what is deemed normal and that it is normally hereditary. So with that she checked both myself and my mother (who came to the appointment with me). She said that we both had it. My mam had it only slightly in her arms and elbows and I had it in my arms, elbows, lower back and hips. And like Ruby I was always really flexible as a child. So the nurse said that Ruby would need to attend physio to assess how much she would be affected by hyper-mobility. Initially I thought that it just meant that she would be really flexible. I had visions off sending her off to be an amazing gymnast or something. But apparently there are a whole host of other problems that can occur because of this condition, depending on its severity. Some of the other problems that can sometimes occur are as follows:

  • Late learning to sit, sit with a very rounded back or W-sit.
  • Skip crawling and bottom shuffle instead.
  • Walk later than normal.
  • Hate tummy time.
  • Avoid activities that are new or require effort and may have sensory issues.
  • Develop coordination and attention problems as they get older.
  • Develop digestive system problems.
  • More prone to develop dyspraxia as a result of low muscle tone.
  • More vulnerable to injury.
  • Suffer from extreme tiredness.
  • Have limbs that appear to be floppy and weak.
  • Pain in the knees, fingers, hips, elbows and lower back.
  • Joints can dislocate easily.
  • Hyperelastic (very stretchy) skin that bruises easily.
  • If there is a more widespread effect on the body, it can usually involve conditions or syndromes like Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

textgram_1492461824So far Ruby doesn’t seem to be affected by too many of the above symptoms, but we will have to watch her for a lot of the other symptoms as she gets older. It’s important to remember that people who have this may never have any other symptoms besides being really flexible. Hopefully this will be the same for Ruby. I didn’t even know I had it and I don’t think it has effected me in any ill way that has effected my quality of life. Looking back now, perhaps the digestive problems I have and being tired all the time have something to do with my own level of hyper-mobility, but at this stage of my life I am not going to go looking into it!  As for Ruby, she was a bit late on her gross motor skills – she was late to roll, sit, crawl and walk. But she was, and still is ahead in her fine motor skills, language and communication skills. She didn’t start crawling until a week before her first birthday and she didn’t walk until she was 18 months. But at that stage we were doing work with her at home that was given to us by the physiotherapist in order to help strengthen her muscles. So if we weren’t doing that, it could have been a lot later. She 100% hated tummy time – although, this is something that I think most babies hate. The only way we could get her to do it was on my bed.  We will have to keep a close eye on her – apparently hyper-mobile children can plateau at any stage in their development. She definitely has low muscle tone as a result – her muscles feel like jelly if you touch them and if you wave her arms around they go really floppy. But at the same time, she is a strong as an Ox and always has been.

textgram_1492461970Thankfully at her last physio check up everything was spot on. I have to bring her back when she is two, by which time the physio said she should be climbing the stairs without my assistance, jumping and kicking a ball. She said if she is able to do all of these things, and as long as nothing else pops up in the mean time, that she would be happy to discharge her, which is fantastic news. So hopefully everything will balance out. I am sure I will document it here should anything else develop. I just wanted to share this as I don’t think it is something that people are aware of – I mean, I suffer from it and didn’t even know about it! Please feel free to contact me if your little ones have hyper-mobility. I would love to hear other peoples views and experiences on the topic.

*Update* October 2017

So Ruby just had her check up for her hypermobilty. For this check up the physio wanted Ruby to be able to kick a ball, climb the stairs with little to no help, run and to jump. She was able to do three out of the four requirements. She can’t really jump yet but she is trying very hard. The physio was pleased with this as she is only gone 26 months and is still a little young to jump properly. The muscles in her legs have strengthened and her hypermobilty has lessoned in this area. However she is still hypermobile in her feet and ankles, which can make her trip a lot so I have to ensure she is wearing shoes with the correct foot support and her hands and wrists are very mobile. But thankfully the physio was so happy with her progress that she has discharged her from the service. She has asked me to watch out for anything out of the ordinary and if the tripping increases to come back. But overall we are all delighted with her progress!!

Until the next blog.

Orla the Irish Mammy xx

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Parenting

Keepy – Organize and Save Kids’ Artwork & Memories

1048257_651517224886880_1005599632_oI was contacted a few weeks ago by a lovely dad of two boys named Offir, who is the CEO and co-founder of Keepy. Keepy is an app for parents to save their children’s artwork, schoolwork, photos, videos and mementos. There is also an option to add voice and video narration to anything that you upload. You simply save your memories on Keepy and you’ll have a unique, interactive, family scrapbook to cherish for now, for later, and for ever.

Key Features:

_0001_2– Share your photos and videos with grandparents and loved ones.
– Safe and private, accessible based on invitation only.
– Quickly saves your family’s best photos, videos, quotes, videos, notes     and more.
– Easy commenting with text, high quality video and voice recording.
– Family “fan” invites that keep everyone in the loop.
– Easy to use cropping tools.
– Unique timeline for every family member.
– E-mail, web or phone notifications.
– Private Keepy website to view your family’s memories.
– Secure, private platform, accessible from all devices.
– Print mugs, T-shirts, greeting cards and more directly from the apps       store.
– Auto Sync with Dropbox.
– Available for: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle Fire and Web.

Screenshot_20170330-092344I downloaded the app from the Play Store on my Samsung and applied for the unlimited plan. The unlimited plan allows you to save more memories, without it you are limited to the amount of data you can upload. To go unlimited you can subscribe for €2.41 per month or €11 for the year. It will also give you 50% off products in the app store and allows unlimited keepy uploads. For €2.41 or €11, its a very reasonable price.

Personally, I think its a great app! You can easily tag and invite family members to the app so that they can all view the pictures you upload. I love how you can organise pictures by category and that you can save information like the who, what, where and when in the pictures.  The automatic notification through Facebook is great too if you’d like to share there. Even photos from years back on Facebook can be added through the Facebook ‘On This Day‘ section. There is also the Keepybot reminders in Facebook messenger. It asks if you want to save statuses, photos, etc to Keepy, which is a quick reminder to log things away regularly.

Its not just pictures you can upload either, you can take pictures or scans of your children’s art work and upload those too. Then you can go to the apps store and turn your pictures or artwork into picture mugs, photo-books, photo gifts, of which there are all kinds of options. Which would make nice gifts for mother’s or Father’s day and any other celebrations.

To learn more about this app or to download it, go to: http://www.keepy.me/

I was given the app, including the unlimited plan in return for this review.

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Birchbox – March Review

I have been getting the Birchbox subscription for nearly six months now. I was really impressed with them at the start, but sadly as the months have gone on I haven’t been as impressed. You get five items but they are nearly all always sample sizes. I have only ever gotten one or two full sizes (one per box). As it is an English company, there are certain items that cannot be shipped to Ireland and I sometimes feel that these items are replaced with random items. On their website you have the option to complete your beauty profile so that they can match their products to your beauty needs. I have filled this profile out but I find that the Birchbox I receive doesn’t always reflect this. This month there were only two items that I was impressed with, the rest were just Ok.

So what did I get in my March box?

1. BENEFIT – They’re real! Double the lip lipstick.

This was one of the items that I loved. I new it would be included in this months box as I recieved an email giving me the option to choose between two different shades – Lusty Rose or Pink Thrills. I choose Lusty Rose which turned out to be a gorgeous colour. This lipstick is like a lip liner and lipstick in one. It has a teardrop shaped tip, with a liner shade at the top and a long lasting lipstick at the bottom. It is a really vibrant colour and the two in one formula helps to create visibly fuller lips. I loved this. It has a lovely moisturising feel and lasts on the lips for long time. It is long lasting as advertised.

2. CAUDALIE – Vine (Activ) Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum.

This was the second item from this months beautybox that I really liked. The serum itself has a lovely texture and goes onto the skin like silk. My skin felt gorgeous after using it. It delivers anti-cell burn-out complex (whatever that is!?) which brightens dull skin and smooths fine lines. It is applied in the morning and at night before your moisturiser for some added protection.

3. BATISTE – 2-in-1 Invisible Dry Shampoo & Conditioner

This was something that I was really excited to see when I opened my beautybox. I had seen it in the shops and had been meaning to try it out. I am a big fan of Bastille products and like most girls, I have used them in the past to boost my hair a little if it is looking a bit flat. But as everyone knows, it can leave your hair feeling really dry. So when I saw that a 2-in1- product was out I thought it would be great. When using it, I applied it to my hair/roots and waited for a few minutes before massaging it through my hair. To be honest, the result was a bit of a let down. It definitely didn’t have the same result as the original dry shampoo and it didn’t even look like I had applied it to my hair. It even looked more greasy then it was in the first instance! I am not sure that I will use it again, but if anyone tires it and has a better result than I had, please let me know!

4. RITUALS – The Rutual of Sakura Foaming  Shower Gel

This is a nice product – it does what it says on the tin. A foaming gel wash that foams at contact with water. I have used many products like it. The smell is really gorgeous – Cherry blossom and organic rice milk. When using it, use a coin sized amount onto damp skin, lather up and rinse away.

5. BALANCE ME – Instant Lift Primer

This is a 99% natural blend of hyaluronic acid and acacia gum that tightens and diffuses for smoother and refined skin. I didn’t really like this, I found that it made my foundation look like it was sitting on top of my skin. The particular foundation that I used over this primer is a long wearing matte foundation, which on its own is genuinely long wearing and doesn’t look cakey on the skin. But unfortunately when used with this primer, looked heavy on my skin and went blotchy, which it normally never does. It might work better for other skin types, or even with a different type of foundation but, ultimately it’s not for me.

So, my thoughts on Birchbox’s March beautybox? It’s just ok. As I mentioned above, there were two out of the five items that I really liked and I suppose that the foaming gel wash was good too. And I liked the little bag that was in the box too. But I just felt like the items weren’t exactly in line with my beauty profile and maybe that’s because some items cannot be shipped to Ireland. But if that is the case, they should aleast include a replacement item that is going to suit you. I feel that some items are just added regardless, to make up the five items required. Maybe next months box will be better, but I am not 100% sure if I will get it next month. If you would like to try Birchbox’s beautybox’s out for yourselves, of to www.birchbox.co.uk.

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Glossybox – March Review


I am totally in love with Glossybox – for such a reasonable subscription price each month you get a lot of bag for your buck. Each month you get five products in total. In the March Glossybox I got four out of five full sized items! Amazing.  As well as the amazing products, as usual everything arrived in a beautifully packaged box. It’s such a treat for the eyes – it’s almost a shame to open up the packaging.

So what did I get in my March box?

1. oOlution – Eye Love (Full size)

I absolutely loved this. I am always on the hunt for a good eye cream and this one ticks all of the boxes. It absorbs really quickly into the skin. Every time I use it, I find that my eyes look really bright and awake. This eye cream is packed with a host of active ingredients. It uses 100% natural ingredients and is free from synthetic ingredients and palm oil. The result is a luxurious, hydrating formula that is rich in antioxidants. It helps to diminish dark circles and reduce puffiness. It can be used with in the morning or as part of your bed time skin routine.


2. IWHITE TEETH WHITENING – Whitening toothpaste (Full size)

I am big into teeth whitening  products. I have tried so many tooth whitening toothpastes and other products over the years and this is one of the whitening products on the top of my list. I have used IWHITE products in the past and I have never had anything bad to say about the brand. I love it. The toothpaste brightens teeth and can be used daily. It contains an active whitening formula that targets surface and deep tooth staining. This is so important for me as I drink far too much coffee which isn’t the best for keeping my teeth white! I loved this product.


3. SLEEK Makeup – Eye & Cheek palette ( Full size)

I love Sleek cosmetics products. This palette was one of the sneek peek products last month and I was really looking forward to receiving it in this months box. I was a bit disappointed with the colour scheme of the palatte. It wouldn’t have been what I would have chosen myself. I did receive a link where I should have been able to choose my own palette colour , as there were a few to choose from. But unfortunately the link wouldn’t actually let me choose anything ! Such a pity. But, putting that aside, it is still a great palatte. I really liked the eye shadows. There were four in total – two matte and two shimmer shades. I just found the bronze/contour shade a tad too orange for my colouring and the pink blush; although a really pretty colour, was a bit too pink. The pigments of all of the colours are brilliant though, really vibrant and long lasting.

4. THIS WORKS – In Transit Camera Close up

This is called the “Hero product”. I’m not too sure whether I agree with that. Apparently Victoria Beckham uses it…..is this why it’s called the Hero product, because a celebrity useless it? Just because a celebrity uses it, doesn’t mean its good. This product is a primer that balances, plumps and brightens the skin, leaving it “photo perfect”. I can’t say I found that it did any of these things to my skin. I found that it made my foundation really patchy and it made it look like it was just sitting on top of my skin. It might work better for other skin types, but sadly not for mine. It gets a thumbs down from me. If you do decide to use it, it is applied after your moisturiser or face oil, followed by your foundation.


5. GOT2B – Styling Primer (Full size)

I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go. We are all used to preparing and priming our skin for make up applications, but priming our hair can make styling it ten times easier. Something I could really do with as I have an awful time just trying to dry my hair, let alone styling it! The primer gives your hair grip and pliability, as well as lasting control. It is worked into damp hair and then style as usual.

My over all rating of the March Glossybox? I’m giving it a solid 8/10. Besides The THIS WORKS – In Transit Camera Close up Primer and the fact that I was unable to choose which Sleek palette I got, I loved this months Glossybox. Aprils sneek peek is the ModelCo’s Contour Stick. I am looking forward to giving that a go and colour looks gorgeous. If you are interested in finding out more about Glossybox or would like to sign up for a monthly subscription go to www.glossybox.ie.

Recipes

Spaghetti Bolognese

This is a recipe that I cook regularly in my house. It’s the one dinner that I know Ruby will eat every time I cook it. I know everyone probably knows how to cook this already – with both the well known jars of sauce brands or sauces made from scratch. The recipe I am going to share with you is my own. The measurements of ingredients are only suggestions as I tend to throw ingredients into the pan and measure with my eye. You can add any veggies in that you fancy. I mostly add in  mushrooms and red peppers. Sometimes I chop up carrots really small and hide them in the sauce! I also chop up all of my veggies nice and small first before I start to cook anything. Then they are ready to pop into the pan when needed. Like everything that we buy, nearly all of the ingredients are from Lidl, where we do our weekly shop. Anything that we can’t get in Lidl we get in Tescos.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients:

500g mince 

1 medium sized onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

60g mushrooms

1 red bell pepper (or yellow)

1 Carrot (optional)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes 

Tbsp worcestershire sauce

I beef stock cube

150 – 170 ml boiling water

Tsp each of dried basil and oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta (brown or white)

Method:

1. Chop up the onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, and carrot (if using).


2. Once this is done get the pan heated up and add your oil of choice (I use rapeseed oil spray from Tescos).

3. Add the onions and garlic (if using, add the carrots here too) and sweat for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the mince and cook until it turns brown. Boil some water in the kettle.

5. Add in the mushrooms and peppers and cook for a few minutes. At this stage dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water.


6. Once dissolved, add the water and stock cube, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and worcestershire sauce to the pan. Add seasoning here too.

7. Lower the heat and simmer away for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce reduces down and thickens up.

8. While the sauce and meat are reducing get your pasta on (I assume we all know how to cook pasta?!).


9. Once the pasta is cooked and soft, serve it up with the bolognese and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (optional).

10. Enjoy!

Tip: If you are cooking this for little people, like myself, chop up the veg really small (they will also cook quicker). I often batch cook, cool, portion and freeze a lot of the food I cook for Ruby. If I was to do this with the recipe above, I wouldn’t cook the pasta until I needed it. I would let the bolognese cool and portion it into little freezer bags and freeze until I needed it. Then all you need to do is get the bolognese out of the freezer in the morning and leave in the fridge to defrost. It should be thawed by dinner time and all that’s left to do is heat it up and cook some pasta!

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February GlossyBox – Review


So this month I decided to give the beauty box from Glossy Box a go. It costs me about €14(+ €5 p&p) per monthly perscription which includes five beauty products. I have to say, when it first arrived I was really impressed. It was packaged really well. The box that it came in was a really good size and really pretty. I loved that the products were wrapped up in pretty tissue paper and tied with a bow. First impressions really count – this beauty box was a big hit with me. I also thought that the box design really suited the month that it was for. As February is the month of love, the box really tied in with this. When you sign up there is also an opinion to fill out your beauty profile, meaning that the box you receive each month can be tailored to suit your beauty needs.

So what did I receive this month?

 

1. LA THEORIE DES VOLCANS – Noir Eternae Youth Potion Face Scrub. (Full size)
20170225_132136This product is supposed to harness volcanic properties that gently cleanse and purify. It is enriched with anti ageing ingredients, which also help to plump out and smooth your skin. The mask starts off as a pink paste that slowly turns grey as it dries out. I have to say, I really liked this. My skin felt smooth and looked really refreshed after using it. Ideally, it should be used once or twice a week if                                                                   possible. It’s paraben and silicone free, vegan and 90%                                                                       natural. Not bad!

2. FIGS & ROUGE – Hydra-Activ Smart Nutrient Vital Moisture Day Cream.

This lightweight day cream provides instant and long lasting hydration. It includes hyaluronic acid and victamins A, C and E. I absolutely loved this. Even though my skin is really oily, I have had patches of dry skin at the top of my cheeks, just under my eyes ever since I was pregnant with Ruby, and it has never gone away. I find that no matter what cream I use before putting on my foundation, the dry patches still come through. But this cream really helped. My skin felt so smooth after using it and it soaked into my skin really quickly. I’ll definitely be purchasing the full size in this product.

3. GARNIER – Ultimate Blends Honey Treasures Strength Restorer Balm.

This hair mask from GARNIER is supposed to use the hydrating properties of honey that leave your hair feeling nourished and glossy. After washing your hair, the mask should be applied from the mid lengths of the hair to the tips and left on for up to five minutes. I didn’t like this at all. When the GARNIER Ultimate Blends honey collection first came out I gave the shampoo and condition a go. My hair, which tends to be greasy anyway, was so greasy after I used it. It looked like I hadn’t even washed it. I found that the hair mask had the same affect. It definitely doesn’t suit my hair, but it would probably work better on some one with really dry hair. But unfortunately, it’s not a winner for me.

4. MEMEME – Beat the Blues in Oyster Gold. (Full size)

I absolutely loved this and I have been using it all week. This is an iridescent skin illuminator that boosts the skins radiance. It is similar to Benefit cosmetics high beam liquid highlighter. I use it just along my cheeks bones, under my brow bone and on my Cupids bow and it creates a lovely dewy glow. It can also be mixed into your foundation. This gets a big thumbs up from me.

 

5. RODIAL – Smokey Eye Pen. (Full size)

I liked this, it’s long lasting and it applies and blends really well. The pigment is really strong too and has a gel effect, which creates a really clear definition around the eye.

I absolutely loved the February Glossy Box. From the size of the really pretty and attractively packaged box, to the quality of the full sized products and sample products – it gets a massive thumbs up from me.  I can not wait to find out what the next box will bring. I did get a little sneak peek though. One of the items in the March Glossy Box will be a SLEEK eye and cheek palette. I adore the Sleek cosmetics range, so I am really looking forward to seeing which palette I get.

If you would like to subscribe to get your own Glossy Box or to individually purchase any of the above or find out what the prices are, you can go to the Irish Glossy Box website www.glossybox.ie.