baby · parenting · teething

Why You Should NEVER Say “Oh, But Your Baby’s So Good!”

My husband and I have often commented on the weird habit that lots of people seem to have, of commenting that Little Man “is so good”, “is so well-behaved” etc. etc., on the basis of very little actual time with him – or worse, on the basis of nothing but photos/video.

It’s not that we think that he’s “bad”, or even “badly behaved”. He’s just a baby, he reacts to whatever’s currently happening, and that’s totally normal. But these kind of comments can be pretty infuriating, because it implies that he’s super easy to look after all the time AND HE’S NOT. We’ve actually had people comment that Little Man must be a super chill baby “because he’s always smiling”… on the basis of social media posts. Guys. Do you really think I would post pictures of him screaming his head off with poop all up his back? I mean, I could, but as mummy blogs go, that’s a pretty niche niche.

It’s a funny thing that Little Man is often very chill around company (or he used to be… Obviously we haven’t had company in a while thanks to the lockdown). I’m not sure if he just gets distracted by everything that’s going on and ends up sleepy or what. But just because he smiles through an hour long visit for tea and cake doesn’t mean he isn’t screaming his head off at five thirty a.m. because his tummy hurts or he’s teething or he’s just having a grumpy moment.

There’s nothing wrong with commenting that a baby has been well behaved for a particular visit or trip, but when you use that to assume he/she’s always so easy to look after, you are really going to annoy his/her parents who quite rightly feel they deserve some sympathy for all the hours spent soothing a little screaming demon baby.


Anyway, rant over, and here’s a picture of our smiley Little Man just to prove he’s definitely never been difficult, at all…

health · medication · pituitary

Cabergoline Side-Effects: My Medication May Cause Gambling Addiction

So after much chasing of the hospital, finally they have agreed that I should go back on my medication for my pituitary tumor. The tumor is a very rare kind, which produces thyroid stimulating hormone, and in fact is so rare that there are no medications which are certified for treating it. Therefore, my endocrinologists use medication for other types of pituitary tumor, off-label. It’s called cabergoline, and it has some pretty niche side effects… As you may have guessed from the title of this post. I’m going to write about cabergoline side-effects, but first: why am I on this medication in the first place.

When I wanted to try to get pregnant, the doctors tried taking me off medication completely, but the symptoms of high thyroid levels came back after a couple of months. So they tried me on cabergoline (Dostinex for any Americans reading), a dopamine agonist which is usually used for treating a much more common type of pituitary tumor called a prolactinoma. And – surprisingly – it worked! I was delighted, because the doctors had suggested there was only a one-in-five-ish chance that it would actually work to treat my condition – thyrotropinoma, a.k.a. a pituitary tumour which secretes thyroid stimulating hormone.

The thing about cabergoline though, is that it has some particularly weird possible side effects…

cabergoline side-effects gambling addiction side effects the sickly mama blog pituitary tumour treatment

Possible side-effects of cabergoline…

All dopamine receptor agonist drugs come with a risk of impulse control disorders. That means compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, hypersexuality, binge eating and really any form of addictive or impulsive behaviour. As well as prolactinoma, cabergoline is prescribed for Parkinson’s Disease, often in much higher doses. Here’s an article about a Parkinson’s Disease sufferer who experienced extreme impulse control side effects from taking the drug. It’s from the Daily Mail but well, what can you do. Reputable newspapers don’t usually go for true life scandal about medication that turns you into a transvestite con artist.

Taking A Gamble

Some patients won lawsuits against the companies who manufactured these drugs, for failing to provide a warning about these side effects, because of the effect the medication had upon them and the impact on their lives. There have been other cases where people have escaped prison sentences after committing crimes, by successfully evidencing that their behaviour was caused by the medication – although that argument doesn’t work for everybody.

These side effects aren’t especially common in pituitary patients, but my endocrinologists warned me about them before I first started on the drug. Every time I go to the hospital with my husband, they check in with him that I haven’t started gambling or compulsively shopping. Obviously they check in with me too, but they like to get his more unbiased view!

Other Side-Effects (It’s Not Just Gambling Addiction)

More common side effects of cabergoline include possible cardiac effects, low blood pressure and dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and hallucinations. Other less common side effects include psychosis and delusions. It’s really a list of side effects that makes you think twice about taking the medication. I’m a member of several Facebook groups for pituitary patients, and there are often anxious posts from patients who have been prescribed cabergoline who are concerned about the possible side effects.

Ergot-ta Be Kidding Me

So why all the crazy side effects? Well, cabergoline is actually derived from ergot. Ergot is a kind of fungus which can grow on grains and, if ingested in large amounts, will make you crazy – hallucinations, delirium, psychosis and mania, among other things. It’s even been suggested that ergotism might have been the root cause of the Salem witch trials, with ergot poisoning causing symptoms of “bewitchment”. So perhaps it’s not surprising that cabergoline can have some pretty crazy side effects too.

My Experience Of Cabergoline Side-Effects

Last time I started the medication, I got on with it pretty well. I did experience some dizziness and low blood pressure – I tend to have somewhat low blood pressure anyway – but the longer that I took the drug, the more my body adapted to it, and the blood pressure issues resolved. So I’m hoping that I won’t have any major problems this time… Fingers crossed! But if you see me in Ladbrokes, maybe let my husband know.

crazy cabergoline side-effects the sickly mama blog side effects dostinex dopamine receptor agonist

environment · lifestyle · top tips

Easy Swaps We’ve Made To Reduce Our Plastic Waste (And What We Have Left To Do!)

So over the last year or two we’ve been really trying to be more conscious of our plastic waste output and to reduce plastic waste where we can. For the most part this has been through small swaps of products, done one at a time. It can feel like it’s not making much of a difference, but actually when I sat down and started working out how much plastic we were saving over the course of a year or more, suddenly even the small swaps started to look significant.

So, I thought I’d share what we’ve done to reduce plastic use in our house, and also some of my thoughts on what we still need to do to make more of a difference. There’s still a long way to go – it’s just amazing how much plastic we use every day without even thinking about it.

Simple Swaps to Reduce Plastic Waste

1. Soap and Shower Gel

We’ve stopped using liquid soap from a plastic dispenser in the bathroom and started using bars of soap instead. I was slightly sad because I love love love the smell of Bayliss and Harding’s Ginseng and Black Pepper handwash, but it’s not environmentally sustainable! We’ve also stopped buying bottles of shower gel and switched to soap in the shower. We were buying our soap from the local packaging-free shop (which we’re lucky to have!), but since the coronavirus lockdown I’ve purchased online from andkeep.com.

Plastic saving: I estimate that we used to get through 2 bottles of hand wash per year, and maybe 12 bottles of shower gel, as me and my husband would have a bottle each. So that’s a saving of 14 plastic bottles each year. And yes, that might be modest, but it still adds up to 280 bottles over 20 years!

Yet to do: We’re still using Fairy liquid dish soap though, so the next step is to find an eco-friendly dish soap that I like using.

2. Shampoo and Conditioner

Actually one of the first swaps I made to reduce plastic use was starting to use solid shampoo bars from Lush. I really like the solid shampoo and a bonus is that it lasts ages – way longer than a bottle of shampoo would. So if solid shampoo seems more expensive on the face of it, trust me – it lasts so long that it works out cheaper overall

However, I have still been using conditioner from a bottle because I couldn’t find a solid alternative I liked. I’ve just bought a new solid conditioner bar from andkeep.com, so I’m planning to ditch the plastic bottles from here on out.

Plastic saving: I estimate I used to use about 6 bottles of shampoo per year and the same of conditioner – perhaps a little more. So it’s a 12 bottle saving per year, or 240 bottles over 20 years.

Yet to do: I guess the next step is finding plastic free hair styling products as well!

3. Toothbrushes

We’ve just switched to using bamboo toothbrushes. They’re about the same price as plastic toothbrushes and you can get them in soft/medium/hard bristles as well. We’re using brushes from Truthbrush.

Plastic saving: You’re supposed to change toothbrush every three months, but I probably only remember to swap them three times a year. For me and my husband that’s six toothbrushes per year, or 120 in 20 years.

Yet to do: You can buy plastic-free toothpaste in jars or tablet form. But I have quite sensitive teeth and currently rely on using Sensodyne regularly, so until I can find a plastic-free option that is formulated for sensitive teeth, I will probably stick with tube toothpaste.

4. Plasters

Did you know you can get plasters made out of bamboo? I sure didn’t! We’ve bought these bamboo plasters from Patch. They’re 100% biodegradable, including the packaging, with no plastic content at all. A small but simple way to reduce plastic waste.

Plastic saving: Okay, realistically we get through a few plasters a year, so the saving is negligible. But perhaps as Little Man gets older it will make more of a difference!

Yet to do: I’m not really sure where else we can take this one. Plastic-free antiseptic cream maybe?

5. Nappies and Nappy Bags

We’re using Kit & Kin nappies. They’re not quite 100% biodegradable but they are much more eco-friendly than a standard nappy and they aim to use sustainable and plant based materials. The packaging etc. is all biodegradable as well. Plus, if you’re a Spice Girls fan – the company is owned by Emma Bunton! Then for nappy bags we use Naty nappy sacks, which are made from corn starch and are 100% biodegradable.

Plastic saving: I won’t count the nappies, as they’re not 100% biodegradable – even though they’re a massive improvement on most nappies. But we get through probably a minimum of 7 nappy bags per day, so over the course of the year that’s 2,555 plastic nappy bags that we’re not adding to the planet’s plastic waste problem.

Yet to do: The most eco-friendly option is reusable nappies, but I have to admit I’ve not been brave enough to try them yet. Especially as our washing machine is on its last legs.

6. Baby Wipes

According to Friends of the Earth, not only do non-biodegradable wet wipes contribute to our marine plastic problems, but they also make up more than 90% of the material causing sewer blockages in the UK. We use Mum & You biodegradable baby wipes, which are great. The last time I bought a box, the plastic wrapper they came in was not recyclable, but writing this article I’ve just checked – and they have changed their packaging material, so it’s now recyclable and I can give them an unambiguously glowing review if you’re looking to reduce plastic waste in your household!

Plastic saving: We get through probably a minimum of five wipes a day, although usually I would say it’s probably more. At five a day though, that’s a saving of 1,825 plastic-containing wipes per year.

Yet to do: Friends of the Earth still say that it’s best not to use single-use wipes at all, even biodegradable ones. They recommend making your own wet wipes out of flannels. To be honest, that sounds like a mission, you’d probably still need to store them in plastic tubs, and if you left them too long they’d probably go mouldy, so not sure how I feel about that one…

Your Ideas To Reduce Plastic Waste:

Have you made any swaps to reduce plastic that have worked well for you? I’d love to hear what other people are doing and share ideas! Leave me a comment below.

I’ve also written about how to reduce plastic waste during the weaning process, as it’s so easy to end up creating lots of additional waste when weaning. Why not take a look?

 

baby · health · parenting

My Baby Is Scared Of Sabre Toothed Tigers (and yours is, too)

Little Man is in the unenviable position of having colic and starting teething, which means he is a mega grumpus on a regular basis. Something that has always seemed particularly unreasonable about his behaviour is that he will regularly stop crying and chill out if he is picked up and walked around the house (especially if he goes on his dad’s shoulder, which is good absolute favourite place to be), but the second we sit down with him, he starts crying again.

Up until now, I was under the impression that this was because he is a deeply uncooperative child, but I discovered entirely by accident that THIS IS AN ACTUAL THING THAT ALL BABIES DO BECAUSE OF SABRE TOOTHED TIGERS.

Why do babies stop crying when they’re being carried?

Okay, not sabre toothed tigers specifically, but predators in general. When babies are carried by their caregivers, their heart rate actually drops and they stop voluntary movement and crying. A similar reaction is seen in other mammals. However, this only works if you are carrying them while moving; stationary carrying doesn’t change their behaviour.

It’s proposed that this reaction has the evolutionary function of increasing survival chances if the mother needs to escape from a situation with her child.

Unfortunately for parents with grumpy babies, the soothing effect only works for as long as the baby is being carried around. So if baby is grumpy because he was upset by a loud noise or sudden pain (like immunisations), then carrying them around will soothe them. But if the reason they’re crying is something that’s still ongoing when you try to sit down or put them down (such as hunger or painful wind), they’ll just start crying again straight away. Great.

coronavirus · health · pain · pituitary · top tips · Uncategorized

Coping With Pain When You Can’t Use Painkillers

Firstly, I want to make it totally clear that I’m not advocating that people shouldn’t use painkillers to manage pain. But thanks to the current coronavirus lockdown, I’ve had a couple of situations where I couldn’t use my normal painkillers, and it got me thinking about coping with pain when you can’t use painkillers.

I have chronic pain from my hypermobility spectrum disorder that flares up now and then, especially when the temperature changes rapidly from hot to cold or vice versa. Usually if it gets particularly bad, I take ibuprofen (Advil, for any Americans). However, since France issued a warning about using non-steroidal inflammatory painkillers during the covid 19 pandemic, I’ve tried to avoid taking it even though the evidence is not really clear either way.

Then I also have an issue with very bad sinus headaches, which is a hangover from two lots of brain surgery done via my nose (transsphenoidal surgery). They get so bad that they also have the fun side effect of making me very nauseous, to the point that I have actually thrown up from them several times. They are aggravated by pollen/hayfever, so tend to get worse at this time of year. Normally, I would take paracetamol because ibuprofen doesn’t work for them… But we don’t have much paracetamol in the house, and it’s been hard to get hold of lately with the coronavirus panic buying. So again, I’ve been trying to avoid taking painkillers.

And so, I thought I’d write a post about some of the ways that I find helpful for coping with pain (especially joint pain, because that’s my most common issue). They probably won’t work for everyone, or every type of pain, but I hope you might find it useful anyway.

Coping With Pain When You Can’t Use Painkillers

1. Heat

I find that heat is so great for managing my joint pain. Pre-baby, I would often try to have a bath or at least a hot shower if they were playing up, as it helps the pain so effectively that I often wouldn’t need to take painkillers at all. Now I have a three-month old baby, I can’t just run off for a bath at the drop of a hat (sadly). So I use a hot water bottle or (preferably) a microwaveable wheat bag. Extra layers also works, but while it’s easy to put extra pairs of thick socks on if my ankles or feet are hurting, it’s not so easy to layer up and warm up a hip joint.

Conversely, ice can also help certain types of pain, especially sports injuries.

2. Breathing Exercises

When I was pregnant, I did an online hypnobirthing course with The Positive Birth Company. Well, actually I did about 60% of the course, because I was totally caught out by Little Man arriving three weeks early. One of the big aspects of hypnobirthing is using breathing exercises to manage pain. I found this really useful when giving birth; I think it’s particularly good for pain which is severe but comes and goes – like, say, having a baby…

3. Distract, Distract, Distract

I always find my joint pain is worst at night, when I’m in bed and trying to sleep. But actually, chances are that it’s not any worse then than it is any other time; it’s just that there aren’t any distractions to take my mind off my poor sad joints. Even something as simple as listening to music or reading a book can help take your mind off ongoing low-level pain. For worse pain, something interactive and requiring concentration is better as it forces your attention away from what’s hurting – like playing a game or reading aloud.

4. Movement and Massage

Probably depends on what’s causing your pain, but for my joint pain, gentle movement is really helpful to take the pressure off my joints. The other day, I was holding Little Man, who was finally sleeping after a very grumpy day (he didn’t poop for three days! Enough to make anyone grumpy I’m sure), and my hips were playing up so badly but I didn’t want to move him! When he eventually woke up, I went to do some chores in the kitchen and the pain in my joints improved significantly just from the movement.

Linked to this, massage can be really great for pain – although obviously some pain locations are more accessible than others.

5. Physiotherapy

Following on from the above, in the longer term, physio can help with some forms of chronic pain. I always assumed physiotherapy wasn’t really very effective, because I’d known a lot of people complain that it didn’t work for them. But when I was pregnant with Little Man, I actually tried physiotherapy for the first time, and I found it incredibly effective.

My hip pain got a lot worse very early on, from the pregnancy hormones (which make your joints looser) and extra weight. It was so bad that I was waking up constantly throughout the night in huge amounts of pain from my hip partially dislocating in my sleep. Then I would swap sides and sleep on the other side for a bit, until that one started hurting and woke me up to swap sides again. It wasn’t fun, although I guess it was great practice for waking up constantly at night with the baby once he arrived! In fact, even on bad nights when he was teeny tiny, Little Man woke me up significantly less frequently than my hips had done throughout my pregnancy.

It took a number of weeks to get an appointment with a physio, but I got there, did a full assessment and got several exercises aimed at strengthening the muscles around my hips, to hold the joint in place better. It was about six weeks of religiously doing the exercises before I noticed results, but the improvement was really noticeable and made such a huge difference to the rest of my pregnancy. So, if you haven’t already – I recommend giving physio a try.

6. Check Skeletal Alignment and Muscle Tension

If this one sounds super hippy-dippy, bear with me. A few years ago, I realised that my headaches (normal headaches, as opposed to sinus headaches where the pain is in the front of my face around the nose and eyes) are often either caused or at least aggravated by tension in my neck and shoulders. It could be from sleeping funny, being crouched over a laptop, or just being stressed and tensing up. Making a conscious effort to relax my neck and shoulders (maybe coupled with a gentle massage) can really help relieve those headaches.

Similarly, with my joints, I’ve realised that when I’m experiencing joint pain the first thing to do is check the alignment of the joint, i.e. are the bones lined up straight or am I sitting, moving or tensing in a way that sends pressure though my joints in an unnatural way. Because I have hypermobility, it’s easy for my joints to partially dislocate or just misalign without me actually noticing, and that can unsurprisingly cause pain.

7. Keep Active

When I was first diagnosed with hypermobility spectrum disorder (as it’s now known), the rheumatologist told me that the most important thing to keep pain at bay was to keep active and build up muscle to support my joints. At the moment, on lockdown, I’m doing yoga pretty much every day with my husband and it’s great exercise that’s very low-impact and thus kind on your joints. I definitely recommend it, and you can find specific yoga flows online that are tailored to particular issues, such as lower back pain or crappy hips (technical term).

Your top tips for coping with pain when you can’t use painkillers:

Do you have any tips or techniques for pain management/coping with pain without medication that work for you? Let me know in the comments below!

coping with pain when you can't use painkillers strategies and tips for chronic pain without medication the sickly mama blog
coronavirus · Just for fun · pop culture · Uncategorized

Which ‘Friends’ Character Each Country Would Be, Based On Their Response To The Coronavirus Pandemic

Can you tell I’ve been watching too much Netflix?

1. China – Ross Geller

Did China have a moral responsibility to warn the international community sooner about the threat of the emerging coronavirus? Well, some people think so. But China disagrees. Perhaps because they were ON A BREAK.

Like that time where Ross decided not to tell Rachel they were still married, China kept Covid 19 on the down low, presumably hoping that the problem would somehow just go away of its own accord. And, just like Ross and his history of unwise marital choices, China too has previous for this kind of behaviour (cough cough SARS cover-up, 2002).

2. South Korea – Monica Geller


China’s little sister used to be much bigger, but lost a bunch of weight landmass to the Communists at the end of the Second World War.

South Korea has kept its coronavirus death toll low through a rigorous programme of testing, treating and tracing contacts, plus social distancing measures. This is exactly the kind of country that’s obsessed with hygiene and has 11 categories of towels.

3. United Kingdom – Chandler Bing


No-one knows what Chandler’s job actually is, and similarly no-one really knows what the UK government was doing with all the time it had to prepare for the impact of coronavirus. Even the Prime Minister treated Covid 19 as an opportunity to crack tasteless jokes… How very Chandler Bing. Many experts now believe the UK will be one of the worst-affected European nations. Could we BE any worse at responding to a global pandemic?

If only the pandemic had taken place during a later season of Friends, the UK might have benefited more from the shining example of Monica/South Korea. Unfortunately, we’re still in the early seasons, with the UK in a co-dependent relationship with Joey…

4. United States – Joey Tribbiani


The USA’s response to coronavirus can best be described as… confused. Like the time that Joey got fired from Days Of Our Lives for claiming that he wrote all his own lines, Donald Trump has been called out for spreading fake news about coronavirus, such as saying that it’s a hoax and that one day the virus will just disappear “like a miracle”.

Germany reacted furiously when 200,000 American-made protective masks destined for Berlin mysteriously disappeared en route, and there are suspicions that the US government redirected them for its own purposes. I guess the United States DOESN’T SHARE FOOD PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT.

Could the US have done a better job addressing the pandemic? Well, at this juncture, it’s a moo point.

5. Italy – Rachel Green

Just like when a night of unexpected passion between Ross and Rachel resulted in a surprise (Emma), Italy’s unexpectedly close relationship with China may have resulted in a surprise spike in Covid 19 cases in the northern regions of Italy, which have a high number of Chinese workers. Where are those workers employed? Why, just like Rachel, they work in the fashion and textile industry. And it’s increasingly clear that China/Ross and Italy/Rachel have a pretty messed up relationship

6. New Zealand – Phoebe

Phoebe cares a lot. That’s why she’s a vegetarian and shops at flea markets. And that’s why she’s New Zealand, which has pursued a highly-praised policy of eliminating Covid 19 transmission completely within its borders. Plus, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern gave a very Phoebe-esque speech assuring children that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are considered key workers and thus would not be affected by the lockdown. And she finished up by singing a song about a foul-smelling cat… Or so I’ve heard.

7. The World Health Organisation – Mr Heckles

No-one wants to engage with Mr Heckles, the crazy downstairs neighbour who keeps banging on the floor with a broom and shouting “Test for cases! Trace and isolate contacts! Use adequate personal protective equipment!”

Ugh, the WHO. Such a pain.

8. The Novel Coronavirus – Janice

Much like coronavirus, I’m pretty sure that Janice doesn’t have a surname.* They both seem to have the ability to pop up literally anywhere, no matter how much they’re not wanted. And once you’ve been involved with Covid 19, it seems like it’s pretty difficult to break up.

*Yes, yes, apparently it’s Hosenstein, who knew?

coronavirus · food · Just for fun · lifestyle · recipes · top tips

Dalgona Coffee – Fun Korean Coffee Drink You Can Make During Lockdown!

So my awesome husband came across this great recipe for an awesome chilled coffee drink you can make at home. It’s called Dalgona coffee, it’s Korean, you can make it with ingredients you already have, and it feels like something super fancy you need to go to a coffee shop for!

He got the recipe from this website and I’ll direct you there as well for the full details. Essentially you make a meringue-style coffee foam by whisking equal quantities of good-quality instant coffee and sugar with a little bit of water, until it forms stiff peaks just like a meringue. Then you dollop it into cold milk. You can either mix it in with the milk or leave the foam on top and drink the milk through the coffee foam – I recommend the latter option because not only does it taste great, but the velvety texture is very satisfying.

It’s very quick and easy, and you can make a large amount of coffee foam and refrigerate it for a couple of days to use later. We made dalgona coffee over lunch one day and it was a great afternoon treat and something a bit different to do during quarantine.

A picture of our dalgona coffees is below…

baby · Just for fun · parenting · Uncategorized

How I’m Staying Busy Without Having To Put Down The Baby

OMG being in lockdown can be boring! As I can’t take the baby out and about, I’m trying to keep busy even while he’s curled up in my lap. And a lot of the time, he refuses to chill out anywhere else. But what to do?

1. Learn A Language on Duolingo

Duolingo is a great app that lets you learn a new language or brush up on an existing one – for free! You can practice for a few minutes a day and set up reminders so you don’t forget. I’m trying to learn some basic Japanese, to help us when we’re in Japan visiting my husband’s Japanese family. And I’m also trying to remove the cobwebs from my dusty old German skills. It’s easy to fit in a few minutes when Little Man has a catnap.

2. Read and Drink Tea

For Christmas, my father in law bought me a subscription to the Tea and Book Club by Bookishly, kindly suggested by my husband on the quite logical basis that I love both tea and books. It’s great getting a classic book and delicious fancy tea through the letter box every month, and it’s a simple pleasure that can be enjoyed while baby is napping on me (because obviously napping in his basket would be ridiculous). Bookishly are still open for business during the pandemic, with appropriate social distancing measures in place, and I can highly recommend them.

In these times of quarantine, I should probably be trying to read books to improve my mind, but other than the Bookishly classics, I’m mainly reading a tonne of Agatha Christie, because I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery!

3. Bake

But you can’t bake without putting down the baby!” I hear you cry! Oh, but you can. Sometimes Little Man is happy to chill on his mat in the kitchen with me while I bake, but if he doesn’t want me to put him down, I just pop him in his baby carrier and carry on baking! I can’t really do anything involving the stove while he’s in his carrier, obviously, but all the mixing of cakes etc. can be done just fine. So far we have made banana bread, brownies, blueberry muffins and raisin and oatmeal cookies. His dad is gluten intolerant and can’t eat a lot of baked goods from the shops, so it’s nice to make gluten free versions at home!

Quarantine tip: a lot of baked goods can actually be frozen for later, if the batch you make turns out to be too big for your household. If they have a high fat content they usually freeze well.

Baby naps while mama bakes

4. Play Catan Universe


This is the app version of the board game Settlers of Catan. It’s not free, but there is an extensive trial version so you can try before you buy! It’s perfect if you have a baby, because you can play a game against the computer slowly over the course of a day and just put it down if he starts fussing and needs attention. I recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed the board game version.

I should probably also give an honourable mention to my husband’s app game of choice, Football Manager, which he loves and which is on my ‘to try’ list!

I’m hoping at some point I might manage to fire up the PlayStation 4 and finally get around to completing The Witcher 3, but thus far I’ve not worked out how to do that with a baby in my lap…

5. Write this blog


I’ve really enjoyed starting this blog and again it’s given me something to do that I can easily pick up when Little Man is chill enough, and put down if he starts kicking off. I used to have a blog (Pituitary Ademoaner) about my health issues years ago, and it’s great to get back to writing again. This is a free site on WordPress, so if you’ve ever thought of starting a blog, why not?

6. Watch Netflix


I’m not made of stone, obviously all this mental activity is pretty exhausting and sometimes me and the Little Man just want to zonk out in front of the TV. I’m currently watching Gilmore Girls for the first time and loving it, but I’ve also watched a lot of Friends and Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Tiger King (obviously) and loads of nature documentaries.

baby · health · parenting · Uncategorized

Right-handed Baby vs. Left-handed Baby

So ever since Little Man arrived in the world, we have been wondering whether he’s going to be right-handed or left-handed. I’m right-handed, but there are lots of lefties in my family. And my husband is sort-of left-handed (he writes and eats with his left hand but uses his right hand for racquet sports in an ambidextrous sort of way).

I was initially convinced Little Man was a leftie-in-waiting, because at first it always seemed like he flailed around at us/hit his dad in the face with his left hand. Then, about two days after I’d mentioned this to my husband, he suddenly switched and started using his right hand more instead. Then he went into a phase of really switching from preferring one hand one day, and the other hand the next. So I started to wonder – at what age does our dominant hand become fixed?

So I started Googling, and found a stack of contradictory information. Some places say hand preference is set by 5 – 6 years. Others say it’s set by 18 months. This article, on the other hand, says that “Hand preference is the product of multifaceted developmental processes that begin before birth and expand during early infancy”, which quite frankly is not the kind of simplistic answer I was looking for.

Different babies apparently develop hand preference at different rates, which makes sense, because they develop everything else at different rates too. Something that is interesting from the article I linked is that apparently left-handed preference doesn’t develop as strongly as right-handed preference, and they think that this could be at least partly due to right-handed mothers unconsciously engage their children’s right hands more during play. So now, I’m going to  try to make a special effort not to specifically pass objects to one or other of Little Man’s hands, but let him choose for himself.

baby · celebrations · Just for fun · lifestyle · parenting

Little Man’s First Easter – Lockdown Special

We had big plans for Little Man’s first Easter. We were going to go stay with my parents. My father-in-law was going to come along too, as were my sister and auntie. On the Saturday lots of other aunties and uncles were going to visit to get their first chance to meet the little dude. And as my parents live in the countryside, we were going to chill in the garden, go for lovely walks, visit the local pubs… Etc etc. Then coronavirus hit and instead we’ve had to spend Easter at home, just the three of us.

So it wasn’t quite what we planned, but we still had a fabulous time. Some of my highlights were…

Little Man’s First Easter Egg Hunt


Martin and I took it in turns to hide eggs in the garden and then search for them. Little Man was absolutely useless at finding eggs. He spent most of the time just squinting in the bright light and dribbling. He’s seriously going to have to up his game for next year.

Eating, Drinking and Baking


We’ve had some really great food and drink this weekend! Particular highlights: Martin made me a fabulous gin and lemonade with mint leaves on Saturday, and made incredible lamb neck fillet kebabs on Sunday. He put a dry rub on the meat and let it marinade overnight and it was dreamy!

I baked a delicious gluten free Easter chocolate cake from this Nigella Lawson recipe, which I highly recommend! I also think it will be fabulous in the summer with raspberries instead of mini eggs.


Family Video Calls


We had some lovely video calls with family over the weekend and it felt like we had fun together despite the lockdown. We chatted to family in Japan on Saturday morning while they had their dinner, and it was their first chance to meet Little Man albeit remotely! It’s crazy how our nieces in Japan grow so fast, every time we see them, they seem to have grown so much. Another highlight was family Easter quizzes with my family over WhatsApp/Kahoot, masterminded by my awesome sister. It was fun to do something different and interactive together.

Playing Dress-Up


Obviously Easter means bunnies, which means a great excuse to dress Little Man up in an adorable costume! He was our Easter Bunny for the day on Sunday and it was ridiculously cute.