Monday, 29 April 2013

The Fussy Eaters Support Club is CLOSED - yay!

It's not like I'm serving this for dinner
See this? *Points at self* It's me grinning from ear to ear. Pure unadulterated joy is pouring out of every pore! This here is a new feeling for me.

Errr... no, not the joy bit, thankfully it's not all pooey nappies, milk-soden tops and sleepless nights around here and I can usually find a spot of happiness in our every day meanderings, but this time the reason is WHOLLY different.

Food. Food being eaten. EATEN people! Real food, being eaten!!!!

*Does happy dance around the kitchen*

Ok, before you ring the men in white coats to cart me off to the funny farm, let me back track a bit for you. When our almost-four-year-old toddler Curly Girl was weaning age we were still living in China. Between the food scares in Shanghai at that time (and fast forward to 2013 it's still happening) the lack of health visitor advice and my own fear of the unknown (never mind my total inability to make a decision from lack of sleep), when she rejected the first few spoons of puréed veggies and fruit I assumed she wasn't ready and decided the best thing to do was to wait a while before trying again.

So we did. Until she was eight months old *ahem*.

I realise now that this was waaaaay too late. By this time she had grown a healthy fear of new tastes, flavours and textures and refused anything I tried to feed her. So after much gnashing of teeth (mine), wailing (her) and research online (me again) I moved to the baby-led weaning approach. I wrote about it and even started the for a while to share the highs and lows of our food journey together.

Since then she has gotten fussier and fussier until we got to the point where she would eat fish fingers, potato faces and chicken bites, pear, banana, yoghurt and not much else.

No sandwiches, soup, meat, vegetables, pasta with sauce, casseroles, spaghetti bolognese, rice pudding, porridge, cereal, toast.... the list could go on and on.

With pregnancy and then the arrival of Little Man to contend with I couldn't really get my head around dealing with it. Until, that is, a chance conversation with a health visitor at our local clinic when I was there weighing the baby one day. I mentioned that Curly Girl was a 'bit' fussy and explained her diet difficulties. To cut a long story short the look of shock on her face and the gentle but firm telling-off she gave me had me in tears on the way home and let me know in no uncertain terms that I was the one in charge of her diet, not Curly Girl, and it was up to me do something about it quick before she started to lose out nutritionally, if she hadn't already.

Cue more wailing and wringing of hands, this time all me.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I'd picked myself up, applied arnica to my bruised ego and resolved to tackle this fussy eating thing once and for all. If there had been a long flight of stairs to run up, and had I had any kind of energy at all, I would have legged it up them it and danced around a bit at the top, just to show how serious I was.

When Curly Girl got home from school that day I sat her down and explained slowly and carefully, but firmly that now she was a big girl she needed to eat grown-up food like Mummy and Daddy. And this would be starting now. As of tonight.

"But Mummy can I still have fish fingers and potato faces?" She asked, tears forming in her eyes.
"Sometimes." I replied "But not every night."

Cue wailing. This time from her.

From that day to this I have put in front of her the food that we are eating on most days. If we are having Chilli Con Carne one evening, then she will have it with spaghetti or penne pasta as a bolognese sauce the next day. If we're having a lamb stew, she has a portion perhaps with the addition of a tablespoon or two of tomato pasta sauce and some pasta shapes. If we're having soup and a sandwich for lunch, she does too. I make her home-made fishcakes with mashed potato and a portion of the lightly smoked salmon we have grilled the night before, coated in panko breadcrumbs and home-made breaded chicken served with tomato rice or pasta in tomato and garlic sauce.
Our menu planner keeps me on track

I've drawn up a meal plan on a chalkboard sticker in our kitchen and each week I list our meals for the week and work out how she is going to eat it too. As OH comes home late during the week we can only eat together at the weekends so on weekdays I usually give her what we had the day before or are going to have that night.

And CRUCIALLY however much she wails, screams, fights, or refuses to eat what's in front of her, I have not given in and cooked her something else. If she doesn't eat what's in front of her she goes hungry.


In all seriousness I've had to walk out of the room countless times to shed the tears that are welling up in my eyes out of her sight. I've hated seeing her so upset and I have to quash the almost overwhelming force inside me that compells me to get her to eat something, anything at all. I have had to stay strong. She's refused to eat, had tantrums and been on the naughty step, tried to hit me (wow, where did that come from?!), cried buckets of tears and told me she hates food.

But you know what? It has finally started to work.

I can hardly believe it. Little by little she has tried a spoonful here or there. And I've praised her to the high heavens when she has. Each and every time it has been accompanied by a forceful 'yuk!' but at least she's had a go. And a spoonful of peas at every meal has given her the first regular green vegetables of her life.

So far this week she has had porridge or cereal for breakfast every day (without a fight people!), a chorizo, cheese and carrot omelette with tomato rice and peas on Monday, home-made salmon and potato fishcakes on Tuesday and Wednesday, Penne Bolognese on Thursday and as a special treat for eating almost all of her packed lunch at school every day this week, she will have fish fingers today.

We're not quite at the broccoli or courgette stage yet and a roast dinner still gets left almost completely uneaten but we're SO much further forward that we're in another country from her previous diet.

And as of this week, and five months and one week, . Next week pureed veggies, then fruit and finally everything we're having mushed up. I will not go down that road again.

So let me just say this. If you're struggling with a fussy eater, gird your loins and take charge. If I can do it, ANYONE can.

Image courtesy of Fotolia

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 27 April 2013

How Sun Sensible are you and your kids?

It's not often that I publish a press release almost verbatim but when Sun Sense sent me the details of their new campaign to ensure that parents understand the importance of protecting their children from sunburn it hit a nerve. 

Just this week Curly Girl came home from preschool with sunburn on the back of her neck. We'd been caught out by the sudden hot weather like I'm sure a lot of other parents were and I felt just awful about it. I was surprised that UK deaths from this type of cancer have overtaken Australia, so anything we can do to promote better sun protection awareness is worth supporting in my book. 

My big concern is that the campaign (see below) advocates reapplying sun cream every two hours but at Curly Girl's preschool teachers are not allowed to apply sun cream to children without the explicit consent of the child's parents - and I only found this out by asking them to do it. How many other parents don't realise that they need to specifically say 'I give you permission' before the teachers can go ahead and protect their child? Will your children's teachers keep them sun safe?

Millions of children in the UK are at risk of life threatening sun damage as more than half of parents don’t think they need sun protection if it’s not hot.

A total of 57% of parents surveyed by SunSense, Australia’s number one sunscreen, said they only ever apply sunscreen to their children if it’s a hot day. A further 32% said they didn’t think sun protection was necessary in this country at all as there isn’t enough sunny weather.

Parents also admitted they still don’t understand Sun Protection Factor (SPF) labelling, with many thinking that the higher the SPF rating the longer they can stay in the sun and the less often they need to reapply.

Celebrity doctor Dr Chris Steele says these misconceptions are cause for concern, himself having suffered four skin cancers as a result of over exposure to the sun.

The health professional explained: “What is worrying about these findings is that the majority of sun damage occurs before the age of 21 so it is absolutely vital that parents understand how to protect their children.

“Suffering sun burn as a child or teenager greatly increases the risk of skin cancer in later years. The most common misconception believed by many parents is that they don’t need to apply sunscreen on cloudy days. The reality is that cloudy days can often bring more risk as children will stay out longer when the sun isn’t as hot, meaning the damage caused can be more intense.”

Vitamin D was another area of confusion for many parents, with 38% of parents admitting they don’t apply sunscreen regularly because they want their child to get enough vitamin D. The British Dermatological Nursing Group (BDNG) and the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) recommend a diet rich in vitamin D as a more effective and safer alternative than putting children at risk of skin cancers by not using a sunscreen.

Susan Maguire, operations manager at the British Dermatological Nursing Group (BDNG), said: “There is no standard definition of how much vitamin D we need, but our best estimate is that every day casual exposure to sunlight is enough to produce vitamin D. Dietary sources and supplements are a safer option than the sun for maintaining sufficient levels.”

SunSense carried out the research into sun protection awareness after it was reported that 41% of parents revealed that their children have got sunburnt while at school.

Rebecca Wakefield, mum of two from Cheshire, said: “My children are both very fair skinned so it’s always a worry in summer when we send them off to school knowing they will be playing outdoors. We always try our best to lather on the sunscreen before school but there have been occasions when it’s been cloudy and we haven’t thought they needed it and they have got sunburnt.”

To counteract the common sun myths and help to reduce the risk to children, SunSense is this week launching a UK-wide schools campaign to help educate parents and children on the facts about sun protection.

The Sun Sensible campaign will provide primary schools and nurseries with educational activity packs designed to teach them how to protect themselves, with important messages including:
  • Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors.
  • The higher the SPF the better (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends at least SPF 15).
  • Reapply every 2 hours. Remind children how to apply the cream.
  • Be careful to cover all exposed skin.
  • Cover up with clothing, hats and sunglasses.
The campaign launches with a competition for school pupils to design a T-shirt to promote sun safety messages. Schools that enter can win outdoor shade areas for pupils. Is your child's school taking part?

SunSense Sun Protection Survey, February 2013; All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS) Survey commissioned by MPs, May 2011; SAPHNA; BDNG; Cancer Research UK.

Friday, 26 April 2013

On baby rice...

"Mmmmm....Mummy milk, my favourite. Hey, what am I saying, it's my only *chuckle*. Yummy, yummy, yummy *slurp* *gulp*

Eeeek! What was that? Oh, hello little big person *beam*, what's that you're dangling above my head? Ooo it's shiny. And it squeaks! Nice.... but wait there's milk to be drunk. Bye bye shiny squeaky thing. *slurp*

Ahhhhh.... I'm done. No, thanks Mummy, that's enough. No seriously, I'm full. NO MORE THANK YOU! *Waaaaaaaaah!* Ok she gets the picture now.

There, that's better now I can see what's happening around here. Sitting up is SO the new lying down. Hey, where's Mummy going.... Oh, hey there again little big person *beam*. Errrr....not so tight!! *Waaaaaah!* Phew, thanks Mummy.

Oh, going up? Yay! Love riding Mummy's hip. And we're going down again... wheeee! Hey I can sit up in this seat, that's very cool. Is is playtime?

Whatcha got there Mummy?'s stopped in front of my nose. What now? Why is Mummy's mouth wide open? You want me to do the same thing? Ok....ahhhhhhh... oh?! What's that in my mouth? *chubble* Mmmmm...tastes like Mummy milk, but it's sorta chewy *chomp chomp* Not sure about that. Oh here comes some more *chomp* *slurp* *dribble*. Actually it's not so bad! I quite like it, I think. And Mummy must really like it too the way she's grinning and clapping her hands like that. It's ok, but I'm not sure it's that good.

Sometimes she really is a funny Mummy.

And the winners of the Vertbaudet giveaway are...

With over 450 entries my recent giveaway with Vertbaudet was the most popular yet! Clearly the sunshine got everyone thinking about Spring outfits. Unfortunately I only had one of each outfit to give away so without further ado the winners are... *drumroll*

Yasmin M
Victoria I


An email is already zipping through the webernet to you confirming your prize, just drop me back your address details ladies and Vertbaudet will pop your outfits in the post to you.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Quotes of the week

I love quotes, especially the quips that make me smile wryly and nod in agreement. Here's some of the favourite quotes that I've discovered this week...

"Just because I have my standards, they think I'm a bitch." Diana Ross

"People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made." Joan Rivers

"Politeness is half good manners and half good lying." Mary Wilson Little

"I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back." Zsa Zsa Gabor

"Most women's magazines simply try to mold women into bigger and better consumers." Gloria Steinem

And one that is particular poignant for me as a Happify Pioneer...

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but we often look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us." Helen Keller

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuomo /

Silent Sunday

Friday, 19 April 2013

Can Vertbaudet replace our favourite coat?

Curly Girl is growing like a weed. At three months shy of four years old she's been in four-to-five year old clothes for some time. Tall and slim, she'll be a super model one day and keep me in the style I'd love to become accustomed to. Seriously.

No, not seriously. Heck I want her to grow up in a world where it is acceptable, no, just normal for her to be whatever she wants to be. Model, scientist, doctor, writer, racing car driver (yep you heard me Sterling Moss *blows raspberry*), teacher, mother, whatever.

Phew! Glad I got that off my chest.

In the meantime however, she needs to be clothed. Big time. She needs a new pair of shoes every eight weeks or so. She's in size nine's y'all. But what she's needed most for some time is a new coat. I think what's held me back from buying her a new one is how much I love her current coat. It's a cerise felt duffel coat from the Marks & Spencer Autograph range c. 2010 and the only item of her clothing that we have left from our time in China. I bought it way too big for her at the time and now it's way too small. But I still love it. So I wasn't at all sure when French children's clothing company Vertbaudet sent us this new Spring raincoat to review. Could it replace our favourite coat?

Well, in a word, no. Her old coat embodies so many memories for us - from walking down Danshui Lu in the heart of Xintiandi in Shanghai to returning home to the UK and starting nursery school - it has experienced life along with us and kept her warm and dry.

The jacket folds up into its own little bag
But hang on, let's give the new coat the benefit of the doubt for a moment. It's certainly Curly Girl's favourite colour - pink - and fully reversible with little cat faces on the cotton side, plain on the nylon side. There are even cute little cat shaped patch pockets on the front. I see it's also available in pink/navy stripe which is lovely too. We were sent size 5-6 years which I thought might be a bit too big even for my little weed, but when she popped it on I was pleasantly surprised to find it fit her well. Puuuurfect length (sorry, the cat theme took me) and just a bit too long on the arms but they can easily be turned back. A quick run under the tap showed that the nylon side is indeed waterproof on the although I'm not sure how it would fare in a deluge. It has a nice chunky zip that she can learn to do up herself (helpful as getting dressed is one of the things we're learning at the moment) and a generous hood that actually covers her head completely. There's also a zip on the back of the plain side which you can use to fold the coat up into a pocket to pop in your bag. So on suspect days (and lets face it we have a lot of those in the UK!) I can pop it in her school bag ready to be whipped out if it starts to rain when she goes outside to play. Clever!

So while it won't, it can't replace her gorgeous old coat, perhaps it can be there when we shape a whole new set of experiences this Spring. Yes, I think so. And as it's on sale at the moment at £23.20 it won't break the bank either *grin*.

Woo hoo! I've got two outfits up for grabs - one for a girl and one for a boy - so two lucky readers can experience Spring with Vertbaudet's certain brand of je ne sais quoi.

Two Vertbaudet outfits up for grabs
The girls outfit is a tunic and leggings, perfect for warmer days. Please note I have it in size 6 years only. The boys outfit is a t-shirt and denim shorts. I have this in size 8 years only.

To enter simply use the Rafflecopter widgety thing below and don't forget to say which outfit you are entering for. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer, terms and conditions and the all-important small print: 
Vertbaudet sent us a raincoat to review and offered two outfits to give away. We received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household. There is no cash alternative. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random using Rafflecopter. You DO NOT have to subscribe to Bod for tea or like my or follow me on as part of your entry.

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Monday, 15 April 2013

Can I 'Happify' Me?

Ask me if I'm happy and I'll say 'Yes, of course!' What's not to be happy about? I've got two beautiful, healthy children that I'm lucky enough to be able to stay at home to look after; a gorgeous, hard working husband who is my best friend and I love so much it hurts; I love my home and my family are always there for me. So when Andy Parsons, the Co-Founder of Happify emailed me to ask if I wanted to be one of their new 'Pioneers' I was unsure.

Then I asked hubbie what he thought.

"Yeah, do it." he said. "You're always really negative about things."

Eh? Negative? MOI?

Ok, yup. *Holds hands up* He knows me better than I know myself, or rather better than I'll admit to knowing myself.

I. Am. Negative.

It's a defensive mechanism that can it's true that it can make me a tad on the morose side sometimes. Particularly when I've had square root of f*** all sleep for the last five  months. Excuse me, but I think that entitles me to be a little cheesed of from time to time. But should it stop me being 'happy'?

Apparently the boffins in their white coats that study this sort of thing have discovered that there is science behind happiness which means we can actually train ourselves to be happier. (Hey! Side order of happiness over here please!)
Can we really train ourselves to become happier? Science says yes. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of CA-Riverside, is among several researchers who've determined the role genetics plays in one's well-being. Although each of us has a certain genetic set point in the way we do for weight, genetics only determines 50% of our happiness levels. We determine most of the remainder by choosing our behaviors, actions, and thoughts.

When we have new experiences or look at something in a different way, neurons carve out new pathways in our brain to process that fresh information. By practicing certain techniques, we can create stronger neural connections in the regions of our brain associated with attention, motivation and empathy. And we're just beginning to identify what behavioral and mental techniques work best to increase our well-being.
Recent research into the kind of “interventions” (i.e. “exercises”) designed to promote positive emotional qualities, such as kindness and mindfulness, suggests that such qualities may be the product of skills we can learn through training—in the same way that practice improves our musical or athletic abilities.

Quote from

So I am now a 'Happify Pioneer'! You can follow my progress at and I'll also be posting about it from time to time here. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 13 April 2013

And the winner of the Shleepy is...

Wow! The Shleepy Sheep from Purflo was certainly popular - over 170 entries to the giveaway!  

Unfortunately there can only be one winner though so without further ado *drumroll* the winner is *more drumroll*...

Ali T


Drop me an email to and I'll send your Shleepy Sheep to you in the post.

Didn't win this time? Shucks. But don't worry, you can still get your very own Shleepy Sheep from all leading baby retailers including Mothercare, Boots, Kiddicare and Tesco, plus independent stores and

Monday, 8 April 2013

Curly locks - top 5 hair products REVISITED

Almost a year ago I wrote about my top five hair products for curly hair. That's my squiggly barnet over there on the left. Interestingly it's one of the most popular posts here so I thought I'd revisit my list and update it with the new products that I'm now using. Unbelievably I'm no longer using Frizz Ease, that mainstay of curly girls' bathroom cabinets. I never thought I'd replace it with something better, but I have.

So without further ado...

1. Uniq One - I can't remember where I first discovered this product but I absolutely LOVE it and always make sure I've got at least one bottle in stock so there's no chance I'll ever run out. The blurb promises ten benefits with everything from heat protection to UVA/UVB filters and easier brushing but for me it's simple - it makes my hair look like a better version of itself. I put it as a leave-in conditioner after washing and then again on day 2 (and day 3 *ahem*) to revitalise my curls and dramatically reduce the amount of frizz. It's available at Amazon (just do a search for Uniq One) and while it's not cheap it does work for me. There's also a cleansing balm now too which I'm keen to try out.

2. Umberto Giannini Flirty Girls Scrunching Jelly - this is step two after washing and applying Uniq One. I comb it through and scrunch like mad. It gives a nice body to my curls without making it too crunchy. A nice, good value product that does what it says on the tin, so to speak.

3. Paul Mitchell Round Trip Liquid Curl Definer - this is step three and I really only use a few pumps of this over the top of Flirty Girls Scrunching Jelly to give more definition and then, whether I leave it to dry naturally or diffuse it gently, I scrunch some more into the curls afterwards to remove any little frizzy bits (there's always some!) and boof it out a bit. It's almost weightless and really reduces the drying time which is a godsend now that my hair is just past shoulder length and takes at least two hours to dry naturally. You can usually get this one at good salons or it's available on Amazon too.

And that's it. Seriously, no other products necessary on my curly locks. These three work and I can scrunch and go in about 5 minutes.

So tell me - what products do you use to tame your curly tresses?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Giveaway - is this the best teething toy ever?

How cute is this little chap? The Shleepy baby comforter.


Alongside coughs, colds, all manner of leurgy and of course the Easter holidays *joy* we are also in the throws of teething at the moment at Chez Bod *sigh*. Poor Little Man is struggling with sore, hard gums and at only four and a half months I really feel for him. He's too small to hold anything in his hands for any length of time and most teething rattles are too hard or too big for his little mouth.

Clever, clever design!

Luckily before he was born I was sent a Shleepy comforter from Purflo; an award winning soft sheep ingeniously designed for babies. It's full of features with two teething 'hooves' made from medical grade silicone that can be chewed or sucked to relieve teething and exercise gums and teeth, two squashy hooves with textured ends for exploring and ears that attach at one side with velcro to hold a dummy or to attach it to a car seat or pram so it doesn't get lost. It's really super, super soft and a very clever design that's clearly been thought through by the designers Gale and Paul Whale to get maximum interest from baby.

As soon as Little Man started grasping things and shoving them straight into his mouth as only babies can I reached for Shleepy and my camera and stood back to see what would happen.

As you can see from the photos he clearly loves his Shleepy and while I haven't left him with it at nap time or bed time (I think he's still a bit too young for that) I expect it to be a firm favourite for a long time to come.

I'm really very impressed with Shleepy. He's machine washable and dryer safe which is absolutely essential with baby comforters and I love that it isn't just a teething toy or a soft toy but both. So Little Man can play with him in a number of ways without the almost instant boredom that most soft toys have for an almost five month old. And at a RRP of £12.99 he isn't going to break the bank (I may actually buy another just in case...). Shleepy is available from all leading baby retailers including Mothercare, Boots, Kiddicare and Tesco, plus independent stores and

As luck would have it the lovely folks at Purflo have given me a spare Shleepy to give away to one lucky reader! To enter following the instructions on the Rafflecopter widgety thing below - good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer, terms and conditions and the all-important small print:
We were sent a Shleepy baby comforter to review and one to give away. We received no other compensation and all opinions are my own (and those of Little Man). This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household. There is no cash alternative. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random using Rafflecopter. You DO NOT have to subscribe to Bod for tea or like my or follow me on as part of your entry.

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions
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