Batching food

“What is she eating?” Followed by “how did you cook it” is the usual question asked when we start feeding our daughter who has CP. She still has trouble with swallowing more solid food but thankfully not yet had a peg. Since she has a lot of allergies (currently cows milk protein and egg) we make all her food so we know what goes in it. To make it easier, ever since starting on solids I’ve always cooked a big batch and then frozen into small cubes. However as she got older the amounts grew. At one point we were measuring a certain number of tablespoons and it wasn’t consistent. So my husband had the brilliant idea of weighing her food. So we currently on about 150g of food. Which is about a whole bowl of food.

The good thing is we know exactly what she’s eating and the nutrients that is in it.

Usually we use a rice cooker to do approx 1 cup of rice, 2 carrots, 1 sweet potato, 2 zucchini, broccoli, salmon and 1L of stock and additional water. Sometimes the meat changes and we’ve tried different stocks and flavours soup bases. We would use the long cook rice setting and often if I put it in the right order and timing it turns out ok. Then I just need to blitz it up in the food processor and tub it up in our decor quarter containers.

However recently we recently received a pressure cooker and it was so much quicker! Instead of 30-60min it cooked in 10 min and was so soft and tender it looked like rice porridge (congee). I popped the broccoli in the end with some beetroot leaves and put it on for another 2 min then blitzed it anyway.

This is a great way to make baby food, risotto or even congee.
Basic recipe

  1. Add 2 cups of washed rice 1 litre of liquid (I prefer to use stock but if not water is fine. For different flavour combinations you can also try  coconut milk/cream  or even soup based – Campbell’s has a nice range) into the rice cooker and start it on the long cook rice cycle.
  2. Peel root vegetables and add them in as you go – I usually put a whole sweet potato, 2 carrots and then chop up the stall of the broccoli and add that in.
  3. Wash and chop up the aromatics like onion and garlic and put those in. These are great for flavour and are immunity boosting.
  4. Then the broccoli tops and any other green vegetables that are quick to cook. Usually I’ll use a zucchini.
  5. For baby spinach leaf I will blend this up separately and then stir through.

So you should wait til the food is cooled before blending and packing it away but often  we’re in a hurry or can’t be bothered so we’ll blitz anyway and then cool before freezing it.

You can use any freezer prod container. I like to use the decor 4 portion containers to freeze as she’s on 130-150g and it freezes in nice little bricks that can be popped out to a little decor container. We have been using the decor 250ml containers but I’ve only just recently changed over to he decor glass matchups (350ml is the smallest).

We also bought a cheap set of scales to weigh the food – this was the quickest way to guarantee consistency across all the meals.


Variation ideas

  • Campbell’s soup bases instead of stock will give it a different flavour.
  • Apricot cchicken – chicken and a can of apricot
  • Coconut cream added in with normal soup
  • Beef stew – use beef stock and some herbs and spices
  • spaghetti bolognaise – either make as normal and blend. Or just add a can of tomatoes and use beef mince.
  • Try out different types of meat

Feel free to experiment with other flavour combinations. If you’ve tried this, what is your favourites?

Keeping on top of all those appointments 

As with any child with complex special needs there are many appointments with the hospital, therapists and specialists. On top of that juggling other kids, work, social commitments it’s a nightmare to stay on top of it all. 

In the early days I would just put it on the one paper calendar and then tuck the appointment letter or referral into her health book. As she grew older there were more appointments and referrals and became harder to keep on top of. 

This all came to a head when my kids started childcare, combined with two early childhood program playgroups at two different special school. 

To keep my sanity I tried paper calendars, giant excel spreadsheets (6 pages long) printed and stuck on the fridge. Nothing worked for long we either had some things on the paper calendar, the phone and kept forgetting to update the other. So I decided to go fully digital and created a Google calendar for each person of the family, one for support workers and one for the family. This allows me to colour code the calendars so at a glance I can tell visually if there’s care for all the kids on any given day. We can also quickly see when appointments are and it’s synchronised across all our phones, devices and everyone has access to the info we need. It also means that my husband is on top of what’s happening and I don’t have to keep track of it all. I can use my head space for more important things. 

I also have a system where soon as any appointment letter arrives:

  1. Take pic of the photo [Update 10/07/17: you can now ‘scan’ (take photo) documents directly into Dropbox and save as a PDF or png pic! Just click the + add button and it will give you the option]
  2. Upload to dropbox account. 
  3. Create shared link
  4. Create google calendar event and add in link. 

Now you always have access to the appointment info when you need it. 
And you can file/ shred the letter. 

You also have history in your calendar so you can easily search when the last appointment was. This was handy when creating my health history one pager. 

This works for me and allows me to manage appointments on the go, digitally without carrying folders of paper around. 

What things have you found helpful to keep on top of appointments?

Kids sick? So many people to call… 2 tips to mange this better

Last year the kids were sick more than 10 times. With my eldest taking a special needs bus to  school, childcare, therapists appointments and carers that help, every time she gets sick we would need to inform about 3-4 people depending on the day. The first few times we would forget and this would mean particular people suffered a financial loss.

We are very thankful that there are so many people in her life but if we didn’t call by a certain time the normal morning routine gets in the way and I kept forgetting to tell the right people on time.

Tip #1: use an app to send group email/sms

I’ve finally found an app that allows me to set up email and/Sms templates to set groups of people. I can create a generic message such as:

“Hi <name> is sick today so won’t be coming in. Hope you have a good day! Thanks <signed parents>”

I can then save this to be sent to different groups of people for the diff days.

Naming the template with the day and location helped me to quickly identify which one I needed to send.

No more trolling through my contacts and missing the one person.
Now when she is sick with a few clicks I can notify her bus driver, school, teacher, carer, therapist and of course my boss all at once.

Unfortunately I can’t link the app that I used here as my phone has since upgraded and it no longer works. There are a number of different apps if you search for ‘group sms email’ that allows you to create templates.

Thankfully, this year is much simpler in terms of carers, school and appointments, so this is no longer needed. Instead of we have gone low tech using a summary sheet of emergency numbers on the fridge and on speed dial on the phone. So whilst, this may not be needed for every family, it’s a great tip for when you need it.

Tip #2: group emergency contacts

Grouping all the numbers you might need in a particular emergency is the best way to be able to use it at a moments notice.

In particular we have a home doctor service that always asks the same information, I keep that all summarised on our emergency contact list. This allows us to easily access it when on the phone, attempting to book a doctor.

Small time savers make the difference. What’s your time saver?

DIY breathe easy air vapour stick bar – attempt #1

The other day we ran out of our doTerra Easy Air stick which we’ve been using daily on the kids to get them to sleep at night through their congestion.
I had some beeswax on hand and decided to try making it from scratch. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t have any cocoa butter on hand but instead found a blog post about the basic ratios for beeswax and virgin coconut oil then just ‘winged’ it.
Since the weather is still quite warm, and virgin coconut oil is still liquid at room temperature, I thought I would start with a 1:1 ratio. Last minute, I decided to add a few tablespoons of jojoba and olive oil making this more into a 1:1.5 ratio.
Here’s my first attempt:
1. Add to a small pot equal parts of beeswax and virgin coconut oil. I used in this batch:
35g beeswax
35g virgin coconut oil
2. Heat and melt over low flame. Let it cool for 5min.
3. Stir in liquid oil (any oil can be used here – should be increased to a total of 1/2 cup oil)
1 Tbsp jojoba oil
2Tbsp olive oil
60 drops of easy air or any other combination of pure essential oil
Note: If it starts to solidify too early, just melt over low heat.
4. Stir and immediately pour into ice cube tray or any other moulds.
5. Set in the fridge and then pop out and store in a cool dry place.
6.  Can be stored separately in a small container for easy use. I found the sistema 35ml dressing pots a good size to store one cube.

Makes approx 6 cubes.

Verdict:

It’s now 26.5 degrees Celsius and found that it was still a little too hard for use, and parts of it took a little longer to melt into my skin. The great benefit of making your own is that you and tailor it to your own preference and needs. If you were to use this for massage, it might be nice to have a more solid bar, but for those with sensitive or thin skin, a softer bar (with more liquid oil) would be beneficial.
Next time I will try increasing the amount of oil vs beeswax using a 1:3 or even 1:4 ratio and possibly try it with shea butter and/or cocoa butter. This will mean an increase to 70g of virgin coconut oil.
This is quite fragrant but because it is so solid it takes longer to melt and so only a small amount comes off at once. I’m also thinking of boosting this other single oils next time.
This still turns out to be cheaper than buying the breathe stick plus I can make a tray of cubes at a time and have it stashed around in multiple places instead of hunting around the house for that elusive vapour stick.
Now that I’ve tried it once, it’s inspired me to think of other combinations of oils – I could use it as a lip balm, foot balm, healing salve, eczema salve… this also makes affordable gifts that can be easily be made in bulk (thinking end of year Christmas presents…) and you can play with the packaging and set it in a little lip balm pot or tin, or lip balm stick.
So there’s still some tweaking to do but I hope that this inspires you to give it a go. There are heaps of recipes out there and sometimes it can be paralysing to choose and then collect all the ingredients, so I like the fact that this has minimal ingredients and it still turned out ok. It wasn’t that hard after all and worse comes to worse, you can always melt it down and adjust the proportions (although it would be best to do this before the oil is added so you don’t accidently evaporate the oil off).
Well, good luck DIY-ing and let me know if you find any great recipes for me to try!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease

Top 10 essential oils for traveling 

We travel a lot as a family and having a child with a disability hasn’t stopped us travelling as a family. So when I joined doTerra I naturally wanted to bring my oils with me. After seeing a doTerra purse, I decided to make my own just using an old case (from a thermometer) and elastic. If you prefer, you can also buy handy little purses from doTerra or everyday miracle. Since then it has evolved somewhat and I’ve discovered rollerball bottles which I can dilute my essential oils so they’re ready to use. Since coming home from my travels, I now take them everywhere and use them on a daily basis.

my first doTerra personal travel kit

Personal travel kit

 

Here’s my kid’s travel kit that I’ve put together using the official doTerra wellness advocate pouch with keychain.

doTerra Kits travel pouch with keychain using 2-3ml roller balls or 1ml sample vials.

Kid’s travel kit

Top 10 list of oils for travel

  1. Lavender – my go to oil for itchy bites and burns. You can use it on its own or blend your own itchy bite blend and bring this in a roller bottle.
  2. Deep Blue, the soothing blendgood for muscle pain and tension headaches. I often use this on my neck and shoulders before sleeping to help relax them so that I can get a good night’s sleep. Using with Serenity or Cleary calm can also help promote sleep.
  3. Serenity restful blend or Clary CalmHelps calm the mind and body enough to sleep. Great for adjusting to different time zones or when sleeping on the flight. This also smells amazing so I sometimes just use it as perfume. Clary Calm also has clary sage in it with eases comfort during menstruation.
  4. Easy Air, the respiratory blend – this is a great blend for clearing the nose due to allergies or cold and flu symptoms.
  5. Infection blend is a blend was passed to me from my Sister to help boost the immune system in times of flu and cold like symptoms. I like to massage it gently behind the ear starting from the temple, behind the ear to the base of the neck sometimes continuing to the back and into the shoulder blade. When I have even a slight runny nose I often feel the mucous draining. Alternatively, you can simply use the protective blend which is great to use to prevent and support healing. It can be made into a natural hand sanitizer that doesn’t contain carcinogens.
  6. DigestZen – great for soothing the occasional upset tummy or to help bring up gas. If you prefer to use this internally, it’s best to bring it in a sample 1-2ml vial.
  7. Balance, the grounding blend for those stressful flight connections, to help you feel grounded. It also doubles as a great perfume. Can be used combined with Serenity to make the ‘Tantrum blend’.
  8. Elevation – helps me wake up and feel energised in the morning and in the afternoon. This is great for jetlag, to help you stay away when you land to adjust to the new time zone.
  9. Frankincense – the king of oils, very versatile can be used to help calm the mind, for boosting the immune system and also to help the healing process with scratches or bruises.
  10. TerraArmor (aka TerraShield) – a natural barrier when outdoors – I find it needs to have even coverage for best effect, so it is good to make this up as a spray.

Other oils you could consider, depending on your needs:

Tea Tree (melaleuca) because it can be used as an antiseptic as well as great for pimples.

Smart & Sassy is a blend to help you feel full and is useful before exercise and in the afternoon for a pick me up. I was a bit sceptical at first but recalled that the Biggest Loser recommended using grapefruit or lemon in water before exercise. This seemed to be consistent so I thought I would give it a go and was surprised to find that my hunger pains went away immediately.

Purify – as a spray helps neutralise bad odours and leaves a pleasant smell. Great for musty rooms or cars.

Kit combinations

To give you an idea of how affordable these oils can be, here are some of the kit combinations I’ve put together and an estimate of the cost price including materials (bottles, pouches etc) with the doTerra member wholesale price vs the retail price. Click here to order or join my doTerra to access the wholesale price.

Travel Kits

Diluted in 3 ml roller balls in Fractionated Coconut oil, cost price includes a handy travel pouch with keychain.

Wholesale Price (AUD) Retail Price (AUD)
Personal starter travel kit (10 oils – 8 diluted oils 3ml bottles in FCO  -Infection blend, Balance, Breathe, Digest-zen, Serenity, Elevation, Deep Blue, On Guard. Plus 1ml of pure Smart & Sassy (10 drops sample neat), and 1 ml of Cleary Calm (10 drops sample) $35 $45
Kids starter travel kit + frankincense (10 diluted oils 3ml bottles in FCO  -Infection blend, Tantrum blend, Balance, Digest-zen, Serenity, Elevation, Deep Blue, breathe, lavender, On Guard, Melaleuca) $33 $43
Essential Collection travel kit in 3ml rollerballs (costs $174 for pure 5ml) – (10 diluted oils in 3ml bottles – Easy Air, Digest-zen, Frankincense, Ice Blue, Lavender, Lemon, On Guard, Oregano, Peppermint, Tea Tree) $30 $40

Alternatively, if this is all too much you can also buy the doTerra Touch kit which consists of 9x10ml roll on oil blends already diluted in fractionated coconut oil at $225.33 USD ($169 wholesale) – this contains all the oils in the essential collection kit and is also available as an enrolment kit.

For more information head over to Joining my doterra team.

Note: Prices are based on 2016 doTerra price list. 

Information is only based on my opinion and experience and is not to be taken as medical advice. Please see your doctor if symptoms persist and also discuss your current situation with your doctor if you intend to use this alongside western medication.

Pro tip: the simplest way to clean chia seeds

When we heard chia was a superfood, high in omega 3 and  great for the brain, we jumped on the band wagon and put in my daughters oats every  morning. Combined with reflux and our “normal” regular periods of congestion resulting in bringing up the contents of her stomach, we had quite a lot of laundry to do where chia seeds were involved. Now if you have used chia seeds before you would know one of their wonderful properties is to swell up and expand, thinking whatever liquid it is in. Often I. Recipes they will have a step to personal chia before use. However when chia is combined with linen, it would take ages to rinse every little seed from it before putting it in the wash. If we missed a few, it wouldn’t wash out instead be spread to all other items of laundry. 
After a few years, we got better at dealing with the frequent vomits, we started using tissues more often because you can simply throw it out. We became expert vomit catchers, stationing empty bowls and cups within arms reach for quick deployment over the mouth. But this didn’t solve the issue of chia from the odd cough vomit in bed. Chia was starting to become the bane of my existence. Until one day I discovered a better way! 


Enter the humble dish washing brush! We never used these growing up washing the dishes and I knew some people do. I had received one with my food processor and found it was great to quickly get food scraps off the different parts of it before soaping it up with the sponge and rinsing. So one day I thought I would apply this to the chia and it worked! In a few seconds I was able to brush off all the chia seeds. Ready to wash. 

Life changing… I’m keen to hear any other tips/ hacks you have found. 

I hope by sharing this small  change in my life it might make it that little bit easier with the small things someone else’s life and make it just that little bit easier for us to focus on the bigger things in life. For super needs mums we need all the help we can get. 

Itchy Bites – essential oil blend

This summer has been particularly bad with flies and mozzies. We recently moved to a new house with floor boards that have little gaps so I’ve long given up trying to keep the place mozzie/ant/spider free (haven’t yet invested in pest control).

Needless to say, the kids have had a lot of mozzie/ant/spider bites this year. I also started using doTerra essential oils last year, so when one morning when I was sending my daughter off to school and she woke up with yet another swollen insect bite, I quickly mixed up some lavender, lemon, peppermint, thyme and melaleuca (tea tree) oil, applied some and sent it with her to school in her oil bag. That day she got another bite and her teacher put it on her. She said my daughter was complaining and when she put it on it worked straight away and the swelling went down. I made another version a little stronger with added Basil and Eucalyptus and gave my daughter’s teacher both versions to try. She reported the ‘stronger’ version worked best.

I also use this often on myself and find that it works straight away and brings down the swelling within an hour.

I usually make a ‘stock bottle’ so that I can blend once then dilute in a smaller 3ml roller ball bottle appropriately to age. This then means I always have the blend on hand to top up when needed.

Itchy Bite stock blend

30 x Fractionated Coconut oil
30 x Lavender
20 x Lemon
20 x Peppermint
6 x Tea Tree
6 x Thyme*
6 x Eucalyptus*
6 x Basil*

* Extra oils for a ‘stronger’ blend.

Total unit cost is $12.53 retail price ($9.40 wholesale)
To use dilute approx. 5-10 droops in a 10ml rollerball bottle. Depending on the dilution you choose you may get 3-6 samples out of this and possibly even more. It depends on your preference, a little does go a long way. I personally prefer it to be a little stronger because I only use a tiny amount at a time directly on the insect bite.

This means that the unit price can be anywhere from $2-6 per bottle, which makes it very affordable.

 

So how do I get my hands on this?

There are a few options…

You can buy the oils individually and blend this your own. I recommend doTerra essential oils because they are 100% pure and have been certified therapeutic grade.

If you are not yet a doTerra wellness advocate and this is the first time you have heard about doTerra, you can join online for $35 and order straight away. To buy this DIY kit with the enrollment kit costs $223.50 and it will be delivered to your door in a week or so. There are a few great value enrolment packages, which include the majority of these oils (oils not in the basic enrollment packages are in italic)

For more information head over to Joining my doterra team.

Note: Prices are based on 2016 doTerra price list. 

Information is only based on my opinion and experience and is not to be taken as medical advice. Please see your doctor if symptoms persist and also discuss your current situation with your doctor if you intend to use this alongside western medication.