Wednesday, 22 June 2016


GUEST POST By Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator's Association

Reading is an important skill for children to learn, as evidence suggests that reading for pleasure from an early age can help increase brain power, boost self-esteem and strengthen language and communication skills.
Learning to read can be a complicated, developmental process, with different children often progressing at varying paces. Although tempting, parents should resist from judging their child’s reading progression by age as it is not a reliable indicator.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for parents to keep in mind when helping your child with reading.

  • Do read with your child every day
One of the best ways to help your child advance with their reading progression is to develop effective reading habits. Set aside time every day when you and your child can read together, followed by a family discussion to talk about your favourite parts of the book.

  • Do use supportive strategies
When you’re reading with your child and they get stuck on a word or feel confused, be patient and help guide them through the process. Ask questions like: Does that make sense? Does the picture give you a clue? Could you read on for more information? Asking these questions reminds your child of the various strategies they can use to figure out the broader meaning of the text.

  • Do make the reading process fun and interactive
Parents often shy away from novelty books but these types of books can help engage younger readers with useful book-handling behaviours and overturn the notion that “reading books is boring”. Books with interactive features such as pop-up displays, lift-up flaps and tactile elements are much more likely to immerse children and encourage them to read for pleasure.

  • Do give books as gifts
Encourage excitement by giving books as gifts to your child on special occasions like birthdays and Christmas. Suggest doing the same for their friends’ birthdays by getting your child to pick out a book from the bookstore. 

  • Don’t give it all away
Guilty of supplying the answer immediately every time your child is stuck on a word? Don’t be an ‘instant word factory’ as this is an unsustainable strategy for the long term. Give your child a chance to figure out the word on their own and help guide them to be a resourceful reader. If they’re still stuck after a while, ask them to skip it and read on. You can always drop that word into the conversation as you turn the page. This tactic essentially supplies the unknown word without shaming the child for being wrong.

  • Don’t cover the pictures
There’s a common misconception that when children are spending too long looking at the pictures in a book, they are getting distracted. This isn’t necessarily true. When a child is looking at the pictures, they are looking for valuable clues in the illustrations to help them figure out the meaning of the text. Instead of covering the pictures, encourage your child to use them by referring to interesting and important aspects of the story.

  • Don’t restrict book choice
To foster a genuine interest in reading, it’s important to let your child choose what they want to read. After all, children need to be engaged reading in order to practise reading. Once we remove the restrictions, a child’s self-efficacy towards reading increases, therefore leading to an increase in their reading ability. So the next time you’re out shopping with your child, stop by the bookshop and let them pick a book or several to take home. 

  • Don’t teach the book
Avoid treating every reading session as a learning exercise. Make the time enjoyable and entertaining instead to keep your child interested and engaged. Parents are often anxious when they feel that their child’s reading progressions isn’t advancing at the pace that they ‘should’, which then translates to the children that they are reading with. Try to relax around the reading process by changing the physical location and making it a time that is quiet, safe and warm. Other tips include reading together with funny voices or taking turns to read different characters. Don’t teach the book – enjoy it!

Can’t wait to start reading with your little ones? Choose from a wide selection of children’s books from Dymocks.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

RECIPE: Sweet Prune and Coconut Roll

What do you know, I have actually found a minute to pop a recipe up for all of  you on this somewhat, neglected little blog. When is there any time anymore hey? Recipes are not easy to create when you have 3 kids that need your undivided attention and when bedtime comes along, its very hard not to follow in their footsteps and take myself off to 'zzzzzz' land. But, I have been extremely inspired to cook lately, I think it's just because I am so unbelievably hungry all the time, let's hope it brings some winning recipe creations.

In the mean time, you will have to settle for a very simple, but pretty awesome mixture that makes a sweet prune and coconut roll. How fitting that I share this recipe as a new mum... Only 2 ingredients and very tasty. It's a great treat for little hands and also a great one for us Mama's after birthing a baby, if you get what I'm saying, prunes do miraculous things!. ;)

Enjoy friends.

RECIPE: Sweet prune and coconut roll

1 cup dried prunes
1 cups desiccated coconut

Into the food processor place the prunes and coconut.
Whiz until all combined.
Roll mixture into a log, about an inch thick. I do this by putting mixture into a square of baking paper and rolling it tight.
Place roll into the fridge to firm up.
With a sharp knife, cut into 1 cm thick slices and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Enjoy 1-2 slices as an energy snack.

A little hippy update

A little hip update; as most of you know now, our little babe has hip dysplasia and it's taken us on a roller coaster of emotions. You can read the first part of our journey here.

So over the past 5 weeks, I've been up and back to Sydney 4 times, its a 7 hour drive (8-10 hours with kids). Ihave kept my head about water for the most of it and been reassured that we're doing whats best for our little babe. It's definitely been tiring, especially with my husband away for work, but we've managed until last week when I pretty much completely lost it due to just worrying about the ultrasound results that we needed to see to find out if the pavlick harness was working. The doctors had really given us the run down on how Mabel's hips were not a mild case of hip dysplasia and that we would be in for the long haul, maybe needing surgery and a cast. This broke my heart and the thought of it was really freaking me out. I do what I do best when I get really stressed, I started yelling at my husband. Yep, poor guy, he really gets the raw end of the deal. Anyway, the little babe and I plus the crazy 3 year old went off to Sydney to find out the verdict. Was the brace working or did we need to move to surgery? Well, the little bubba was an absolute champion. She is so cool, calm and cruisy; she goes on for the ride and gets prodded and poked.
We had out fortnightly brace change, then next day ultrasounds, then in to see the orthopaedic surgeon. We had great news, these little hips got gold stars. I seriously cried my eyes out with happiness!
Our orthopaedic surgeon was shocked with the progress, it looks like the brace has been working incredibly and will be coming off sometime in the next month to see how she goes. I still can't believe it... It's just incredible how little people can heal themselves with the right help.
We are not totally out of the clear yet, we have to still do everything the same when the brace comes off so she doesn't regress and we will have a follow up ultrasound to make sure everything is staying in place. For now, we are celebrating. What a win!

Make sure you check out @HealthyHipsAustralia for endless info on hip dysplasia! And always get your bubby's hips checked, not just once. We'll update you guys again on Mabel's progress soon. x

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Five Antioxidants to get you through winter by naturopath, Stephen Eddey.

Five Antioxidants to Get You Through Winter
By naturopath and nutritional consultant with Australis Natural Health College, 
Stephen Eddey 

Antioxidants are the good guys that keep our immune system in peak condition. Protecting the body’s cells from free radical damage, they are especially important in winter as we battle colds, flus and other ailments.

1. Olive Leaf Extract
One of the causes of a weakened immune system and inflammation is free-radical activity. Antioxidants such as polyphenols, act as free-radical scavengers that find and destroy free-radical activity. Olive leaf extract is a powerful antioxidant that provides an important daily dose of polyphenols. It has been traditionally used to support the immune system and relieve symptoms of colds and flu, sore throats and upper respiratory tract infections. To ensure the best quality and potency, it’s advisable to choose olive leaf extract that is ‘fresh picked’. 

2. Ubiquinol
Found naturally in the body, Ubiquinol is the active (more readily absorbed) form of coenzyme Q10, and works by promoting energy production in the cells of the body and delivering it to the organs. As we age, stress or over exert ourselves, our natural Ubiquinol levels decline and may need to be replenished, particularly if you are finding that you are feeling foggy, fatigued and are struggling to bounce back. Ubiquinol also helps with oxidative stress, protecting cells from free radical damage, and assisting with the neutralising of bad LDL cholesterol.

3. Resveratrol
Resveratrol, a polyphenol antioxidant, is found in the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries, and is a key ingredient of red wine. Research suggests resveratrol may help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density bad LDL cholesterol and prevent blood clots. While the antioxidant could also be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease, there is also suggestion of the anti-ageing properties of resveratrol on the skin. Before you go and chug copious amounts of red wine, keep in mind that you would need to drink many litres a day in order to reap the benefits of resveratrol, which is of course not recommended. It is advisable to consult your healthcare practitioner for more information about Resveratrol. 

4. Glutathione 
An important cellular antioxidant, glutahthione (GSH) plays an important role in regulating oxidative stress, detoxification and immune function in plants, animals, fungi, and even some bacteria and archaea, by preventing damage to important cellular components. Found in avocados, eggs, whey protein and sulphur-rich foods, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and spinach also stimulate specific enzymes in the body which aid glutathione’s functions.

5. Grape Seed Extract
Anthocyanidins are found in purple, blue and red fruit and vegetable such as red grapes, cherries, berries and pomegranates, making grape seeds rich in powerful antioxidants and natural plant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). OPCs demonstrate a host of beneficial activities in the body including improving flexibility in joints, arteries and body tissues such as your heart. Grape seed extract’s high concentration may also help to improve blood circulation by strengthening capillaries, arteries and veins.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Healthy Food Swaps

Healthy Food Swaps
By Belinda Reynolds, Dietitian and Nutritionist for IsoWhey

When you are trying to get healthy and lose weight, eating out and socialising with friends or family can seem like a major challenge. There are however some very simple tips which can help you to stay on track when you’re eating out. Belinda Reynolds, IsoWhey Dietitian and Nutritionist gives her suggestions on some easy ways to keep yourself on track: 

Not all calories are solids…  

Many individuals, when trying to track their calorie intake, forget to consider what’s in their cup. Drinks such as alcohol, soft drinks, coffee with sugar/sweet syrups, frappes, juices and iced teas contain high levels of sugar and other calories. If you enjoy fizzy drinks, try to substitute soft drink for mineral water with a wedge of lime. This is a much healthier option, will leave you guilt free and for some may be more satisfying than still water. When after a hot beverage, try a coffee type with less milk (no cream), and hold the syrups/sugar. Herbal teas are also excellent, and come in a huge variety of options.

Good or bad fat? 

There is often a lot of bad fat in our diets. Fat as a whole is not bad for you but certain fats such as that found in deep fried foods are far from a healthy option.  Try to remove these bad fats and replace them with good fats such as avocado, coconut oil, salmon, raw almonds and eggs. If you must have bad fats though, limit yourself to one serving per week. You will feel a whole lot better knowing that the fat you are eating is actually good for your body!
When eating out, avoid deep fried and battered foods, opting instead for grilled protein options with salad and/or vegetables. 

Replace or limit carbohydrates 

When weight loss is your goal, a lot of simple carbohydrates in the diet are not good for you. If you can’t cut them out but want to limit them, try having only one half cup serving per week as a treat. Alternatively you can replace them with healthy alternatives. For example:
  • Rice to Cauliflower rice or quinoa 
  • Pasta side dishes to Roasted non-starchy vegetables 
  • Mashed potatoes to cauliflower mash
  • Tacos/burritos to Lettuce leaves
These alternatives are healthy options that are still very enjoyable!

Swap your vices for the healthy options

The below healthy swaps will help you to eat healthier while not giving up the things you love completely. 
  • Add extra vegies and remove the pastry from dishes such as pies and quiches 
  • Try zucchini noodles as an alternative to pasta and noodles
  • Eat chicken breast and/or thigh instead of Chicken Schnitzels
  • Pre-Made Sauces are high in sugars and salt, try using mixes of herbs, or even add a small amount of honey and soy sauce for extra flavour. 
  • Watch out for Yoghurts as Snacks because they can be full of hidden sugars. Instead eat plain, full-fat, non-flavoured Greek yoghurt with some interesting toppings such as IsoWhey Wholefoods Organic Cacao Powder or the IsoWhey Wholefoods Organic Superfood Sprinkle.
Making a healthy change to your diet may seem like a huge change but it doesn’t have to be. This content includes extracts of the new IsoWhey Weight Management program e-book, free to download. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Happy Birthday to an incredible husband and awesome Dad!

Wishing my incredible husband and my children's awesome Daddy an huge Happy Birthday today!!! Flying off to work on Saturday, we are sad your not here to sing you happy birthday today but we are eating cake and giving you cuddles across the internet as you work your butt off for us. We appreciate everything you do for our little family and love you to the moon and back 598,000 times! Thank you for being you, heres to many more amazing, happy and fun years to come!

Love from Cass, Princess P, Sunshine and baby Mabes. xox

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

5 things I wish I knew when breastfeeding the first time….

5 things I wish I knew when breastfeeding the first time….

Lisa Wipfli, the wife of Nova host 'Wippa' is doing things differently the second time around.

Organising the nursery, preparing for labour, stressing about sleep schedules – parents have so much to plan for when they welcome their first baby into the world that sometimes, breastfeeding can take a backseat, says Lisa Wipfli.

“If I had my time again, I would have read less about the labour and having a birth plan (which went completely out the window) and more about breastfeeding and coping with a newborn,” says Lisa – wife of Nova host Michael ‘Wippa’.

Now, with her second baby on the way, the mum-of-one is better prepared – and she's sharing her knowledge with us!

1. Pressure doesn’t help!
Eight weeks after bringing son Ted, 15 months, home from hospital, I was faced with a sudden lack of milk, aching breasts, sleep deprivation and illness. I was expecting breastfeeding to be the most natural, easy part of being a new mother, but the reality is that it wasn’t. I wish I was armed with more knowledge about breastfeeding the first time, but I wasn’t and that is OK. Don’t put pressure on yourself to nail breastfeeding from the get-go – and don’t put pressure on other mothers who may not be able to breastfeed; mothers are already feeling stress during this really hard time. Yes, everyone tells us breastfeeding is best but if it doesn’t work for you, then no one should make you feel guilty or like you have failed.

2. Don't forget your health
I wish I knew that a new mum can’t look after her baby properly and supply sufficient and healthy milk unless she looks after herself too. I was so concerned about looking after my newborn baby Ted that I forgot to look after myself. It’s so easy to grab the first thing you see in the fridge or pantry but it’s really important to make sure you eat a healthy diet rich in protein, greens and fiber, and keep up your fluids with plenty of water. 

3. Ask for more help
Ask friends for the products and services they used whether it be lactation consultants, special tea blends, multivitamins, night nurses, special breastfeeding pillows, massage therapists that do home visits, breast pumps or nipple caps. Have the names of those products in a safe place, ready to use if you do need them – and don’t feel guilty for needing to do. 

4. Try a multi
Whilst I know a multivitamin can’t replace a balanced diet, there are some great multivitamins out there to help fill in the gaps and ensure your baby and yourself are getting the right minerals, nutrients and vitamins. Personally I take Elevit daily and will be transitioning to the new Elevit Breastfeeding multivitamin just recently introduced, which is specifically for mothers in this stage. Knowing that this multivitamin will be giving my baby with everything he needs for ongoing healthy development, and giving me the energy I need to look after him, gives me peace of mind and more confidence with my second child.

5. Soak it up!
Lastly, it's vital to stop and just enjoy being a mum! Just live in that moment and don’t worry about the laundry or the house being clean or having a fully stocked fridge. Just enjoy that time with your baby, treasure the cuddles and look after your own wellbeing.

note: Always read the label. Use only as directed.

Motherhood and reaching out to the online world

This post is supported by Medela AU

Since having little baby Mabel, life has slowed down. I mean, we’re still busy, really busy, but I feel like I have slowed down in a good way. Even though we’re still rushing from place to place to get where we need to go as you do when you have 3 kids, I feel like my head is less busy and I have slowed down just enough to appreciate simple things so much more. Life in general is good, really good and I’m absolutely loving having a new baby in the house. When I had my first baby, I had just turned 24 and as much as I really wanted a baby, I wasn’t really ready. Second time around threw me totally off my block with the shock of caring for a newborn and entertaining a crazy toddler, it was hard. I feel like this time around, I know what to do and I can really relax and enjoy motherhood, it’s my time to really enjoy my little tribe of children. 

I have felt really supported through this time from family, friends, acquaintances and online support networks. It’s incredible how the internet has really brought mums together that in the past, may not of had much support at all. I feel like these online communities of mums groups and alike, weren’t around when I had my first child like they are now. This time around, I have been able to draw on information and help from the great amounts of parenting information and support networks online.  
Recently, Medela Australia conducted a survey with 4000 Australian Mums to discover how online parenting information and support networks support them in their role as parents. Results debunked the perception that there was an overload of information available online for mums and the assumption that most mums would depend on advice from their own mothers. The survey reveals that while most respondents (61 per cent), including myself, agree there is a lot of online information and advice available to mothers, they still feel satisfied with the access to information and advice required. Only a small proportion (10 per cent) feel extremely overwhelmed and confused by the amount of information available online. See here for the full infographic.

Of course, as a mum, we want to look for information first and foremost from our midwife and/or doctor, which is the most popular point of contact. But this is closely followed by our reach out to online communities and use of websites, Apps and downloadable tools. We are really lucky now as mums to have such a huge resource, the internet, with it’s 24/7 convenience, we can chat with other like minded mums and feel supported as well as be directed to places where we can seek help when needed. It seems we’re even reaching out to the online world over asking questions to our own mothers. 

Jarrod Percy, the Managing Director of Medela Australia explains, “This generation of mums want instantly available information, tools and support they can customise to suit their own needs and online support networks provide this solution. Parenting styles evolve over the years and new mums are searching for current parenting solutions. It’s important that as a community, we provide mums with resources, flexibility and options that support mums in their journey.”

What I’ve found most interesting about the Medela research, is that the results also revealed that having negative feelings and/ or mood swings is very common with new mums, with half the respondents having experienced the ‘baby blues’. I personally have experienced this at times of being a mum, in the mix of sleep deprivation, feeding babies and nagging toddlers, it can be hard to stay above water and feel 100%. During these times, I have spoken with friends for support and also researched online and sort out others who may of felt this way to know I am not going crazy and am just experiencing normal mum feelings. 

The medela research shows that to overcome these periods, talking to family/ friends/ partner is the most popular coping mechanism (*72 per cent), followed by reading other peoples’ experience on online support groups, forums, websites (*45 per cent) which was even more popular than consulting a doctor/midwife.

Over the past 6 weeks as I’m working out motherhood as a mum of 3 little people, I’ve really leaned on my only community as well as making use of helpful apps, my favourite being the MyMedela app. The new app, MyMedela, by Medela Australia is a personal digital companion that provides practical advice, tips and tricks from experts on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, whilst post birth, acts as an efficient tracking tool to monitor babies progress in key areas such as breastfeeding and sleep to suit the needs of mums’ today. I feel it really supports new mums and that what we need when making our way through this crazy but awesome time in our lives. 

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