Dairy Free Recipes

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Healthy Snacks for Growing Boys

I’m back blogging!!! And today talking: hungry boys!! 

You may have noticed that our blog has been very quite recently, well the past couple of months really! That is because the heat was totally turned up on the Masters course I was doing! After Christmas the workload really increased and I had to zero time to do anything fun. But now I’m back!! I handed in my portfolio (similar to a thesis) at the end of April, and it only now were getting back to normality! I have been trying to keep our instagram account up to date, so for a quick synopsis on the last few months, cheek that out.

I am going to do a post soon on my experience as a student working mom doing a Masters that was incredibly academically and emotional intense. But for now I’m concentrating on the fun things!

I'm a hungry growing boy! 
Devoting most hours of most days to study,(Baby bear was with his lovely child-minder),  I completely failed to notice the amount of food Baby Bear eats theses days! His appetite has really come on. Maybe it’s a growth spurt, or him just being a boy but what ever it is its great! He’s eating everything! (well….most things!!) We have Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner sorted- we have loads of dishes to make that we all enjoy etc. Snacks are my problem! You know that time between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner and dinner and tea- well Baby Bear eats at all these intervals! He’s great on fruit, so lots of novelty ways of eating fruit are tried and tested. Nuts and raisins are also good. But then what else can I give him to keep him ticking over? It needs to be lunch box friendly, that can be picked up running out the door to the playground, Granny’s etc...?? It also needs to be dairy free! I welcome all ideas. I’m on a mission to find and make healthy snacks to keep Baby Bear (and me and Daddy Bear!) ticking over! Any ideas I try will be posted in the ‘Diary Free Recipes’ tab!

How our Muesli Bars turned out. 
Today we tried Granny Jane’s Muesli Bars. Any time we go to Granny Jane’s in Kilkenny she has lovely baking done. These Muesli bars are always delish so I gave them a go (recipe in ‘Dairy Free Tab’). They turned out lovely, not as nice as Granny Jane’s so must ask her for tips at the weekend. Baby Bear and I have just had one with a cup of tea and honestly I’m stuffed! They are a bit crumbly so maybe next time ill put more coconut oil. I’m not convinced about the ‘healthiness’ part however. There is a lot of sugar and honey, and there are also coconut flakes, which a friend said could be high in fat! Eek!!! There is some goodness in them though as they are packed with seeds and nuts! Look it ,it’s better than a bar of chocolate, keeps up ticking over until dinner, recipe makes a good patch that are easy to grab and go, so for my first day of the healthy snack mission, its not a bad start at all!

Ill try again tomorrow and let you know how it goes. Would love any ideas for other recipes.

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Choosing Playschool over Montessori

Parents with higher levels of education are more likely to use Montessori and less likely to use a play-school settings for the Free Preschool Year. (Growing up in Ireland Study, Nov 2013) Is this due to un-researched decisions, public perception, personal choice, best-fit for child or is it just snobbery? 

Yes we choose to send Baby Bear to a playschool, not a Montessori! 

I am not for one minute dissing the Montessori method, in fact I have studied and since very much admire the ideas of Maria Montessori. I am just outlining the reasons for our choice to send baby Bear to a playschool. 

In Ireland we have what’s known as the 'Free Preschool Year' or the proper name is 'The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme'. When the Government were pressured to do something in relation to the importance of early education, instead of looking at alternatives, other countries etc., they did what they do best, a quick fix solution: Throw money at the problem! So the ECCE scheme started in 2010. All children aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months on 1st September are entitled to free preschool care for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, over 38 weeks. This is a free benefit available to all children. While I have reservations about this being the correct approach to engaging in early education, while it's still available I’m not complaining! 

As Baby Bear will meet the age requirements for his ECCE year this coming September, (you can calculate for your child here) we wanted to start him one day a week in the same place from January last. The place we chose was a playschool. Having teachers as parents we were both very interested in researching the most suitable setting for Baby Bear. We are fortunate where we live to have an excellent Montessori school just up the road, a pre- school within walking distance, a NaĆ­onra a short spin away, and two play schools near by. We are spoiled for choice. Which is why so much thought and research went into it! 

We chose to send Baby Bear to a play-school and here’s why:

(1) All preschool services are regulated the same under the preschool regulations regarding HSE inspections, room size, staff , child ratios etc. They must also follow a documented curriculum to be in the ECCE scheme. This set our mind at rest that a play-school might not be 'up to scratch' regulation wise, as people would lead you to believe. 

(2) Baby Bear is an only child. Social interaction, learning to share, taking turns, making friends and having fun, was our main objectivities for him. We are less concerned about pre reading, phonics, writing etc, this will be done at home but not overloaded, this is the junior infants curriculum. There is so much time to learn this in school. 

(3) The importance of play

This really is the MAIN reason. 
(excuse me here, I do go on a bit of a rant, but I’m just so passionate about it's importance!!) 

Play is considered so important to a child’s development that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) has established it as every child’s right
Play is a child’s way of making sense of the world – a learning tool that engages, motivates, challenges and pleases.
Play gives them an opportunity to demonstrate all that they have observed and learned about the real world and at the same time the opportunity to experiment with how they can make that learning useful in their own world.
Children are born with an innate drive to learn – they want to be seen as smart, intelligent and capable people who can do things, who know things and who are well connected with family and friends.
Play is not about completing one task at a time but about dealing with multiple tasks such as relationships, activities, problem solving, other peoples’ ideas and creating companionship and enjoyment, all at the same time.

We chose a play-school because play is what happens from the minute the children walk in the door. It is not all free play, but play is key. There is not just a 'play space' but the whole environment, both inside and out are created for play. Toys of all shapes, sizes and all the 'gender specific' toys are free for all to use. There is a shop area, a kitchen area, a garage, a hairdressers and so much more, there are boxes of jigsaws, blocks, bead threading, dolls, buggies, trucks, tractors, and that’s just what Baby Bear could recall to help me write this! Play is the emphasis in every corner of the room. 

(4) The ethos, the athmosphere, the staff, and the facilities are warm, welcoming and inviting for children and parents. While this can be true for any type of pre school choice, the particular play-school we chose is a home away from home. All the children run in the door and have smiles on their faces when being collected. This is important to us. 

(5) Outdoor play area. I don't mean a herb garden or poly tunnel, I mean tyre swings, slides with a muddy puddle at the end (peppa would love it), sand pits with diggers, play houses for tea parties/shops etc.  The outdoors is one of the best learning environments for young children, providing an opportunity to explore, experience and make meaning of the natural world. Children learn through play, movement, communication, and sensory experience which the outdoors provides for on a much greater scale than indoors. Play-schools let children make a cabby under the bushes and use the slide as a rocket ship, yes the children are told the names of these bushes, but it is when they encounter them, not sitting inside looking at a picture of a bush. 

(6) The particular playschool we chose is near the primary school we hope Baby Bear will go too, so hopefully he will make friends that will be in his class right through primary school. 

This post is not intended as a comparison. I just wanted to share my passion for the importance of play, and hence our decision to choose a play-school for Baby Bear. Each child is unique and individual, a play-school is what we think will suit Baby Bear, whenever another bear should come along we will choose a pre-school setting that best suits their needs. The Free year could be gone by then so cost could be playing a massive factor! So while it's lasting Id advise every parent to grab it with open arms. You have the luxury of choosing to send your son or daughter to whichever pre school setting you choose, so do your research, make an informed choice, choose a pre-school setting that best suits the need of your son or daughter. God knows the next child might have to learn their ABC's from this child should the government remove the scheme! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on this topic. 

Now we're off to play!

Untill Next time,

Mommy Bear xx (with help from Baby Bear, and input from Daddy Bear!) 

References: Growing up in Ireland Study, Infant Cohort, Nov 2013, 
                   Cork County Childcare, 
                   Early Childhood Ireland.

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Fab Free Family Fun

The three of us are always up for an adventure and we  recently stumbled across the idea of geocaching we just HAD to give it a go. What is Grocaching I hear you say? : Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Sounds great doesnt it!

We downlaoded the app  from here, found a geo catch nearest to our house and got ready to set out to find it! 

Daddy Bear and Mommy Bear were very excited about at the prospect of a real life treasure hunt, we both loved them as kids! However...we weren't convinced Baby Bear would share our enthuaism....we needed to step this treasure hunt up a notch. 

Out comes good old reliable pintrest, where I found super ideas. I loved the kids treasure hunts ideas I found so I mixed and matched a few ideas and Ahoy there Maties to a super piriate loving treasure hunt. Similar one found here

Off to a near by woods we headed, armed with a checklist of items we needed to find,a telescope, a compass,  a sword, welliies, a crayon, the geo caching app and bucket loads of enthuasism!

Having found the geo cach quite easily we concenrtated on ticking off our treasure hunt requirements, after a great walk in the woods, lots of games and make believe we emerged with our treasure! The only thing left was to bury it!

Off to the beach to bury the treasure! A big hole was dug and in went the treasure (all bar two sticks), covered it back over and got the sticks and Baby Bear very proudly placed them as 'X' marks the spot!!

This was a super fun afternoon of adventure. I was so glad we had made it fun for all three of us. The geocaching app is great for adults and the pirate themed worked briliant for Baby Bear. And the best thing of all....it was completely FREE!! Heres to many more geocach pirate adventures.

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'X' marks the spot of the buried treasure 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Biggest Parenting Mistake.... to Date!

What was I thinking!!!! Clearly I wasn't thinking at all!!!

So, to get a background to this story (and to comfort myself rather than rush straight into my big mistake!) .....When Baby Bear's aunties suggested a goldfish for his Birthday, Daddy Bear and I thought it was a brilliant idea. He has loads of toys and we knew he would be very excited about a pet. Plus we thought it would teach responsibility etc etc etc!! What we didn't think it would bring up was the topic of death! 

Poor stanley
Not even a month in our home and the much loved Stanley (name chosen by Baby Bear) was found floating in the tank. Daddy Bear and I thought it might upset Baby Bear so we quickly flushed him down the toilet before Baby Bear even noticed. We then told him Stanley had died and now was in heaven with Socks (Granny's cat!) Initially he was ok with this. We told him we could get a new fish and maybe even two so they can be friends! 

Over the next day or two Baby Bear was all questions about death. I tried to explain as best I could, telling him that my Granny and Daddy Bear's Granny are in heaven too. I thought Baby Bear was getting this, he asked a few more questions, and seemed happy with the little chats we had about it. How wrong I was.....when we called over to Granny one day, Baby Bear ran over to her, gave her a very tight squeezy hug and calls over to tell me "Her not dead". Oh how my heart sang, all this time Baby Bear thought his Granny, like his fish was dead and gone forever! I felt so guilty. He was obviously sad about this, but his feelings didn't match mine and so he didn't show them! So we tried to explain again we did it in much less detail and just focused on getting the new fish! I asked for advice from other mums and got great ideas....little did I think I would be using these ideas so soon!!!!

Baby Bear brining Pizza and Pancakes home
The following week, Pizza and Pancakes (Baby Bear again choosing excellent names!) were bought in the local pet shop. We had the tank cleaned out and ready for them. 3 days later and Pizza was a floater! I couldn't believe it!!! Right, those ideas come into play. This time I showed Baby Bear Pizza floating, he asked why he died, I simply answered that maybe he was very old! ??? What was I meant to say! I hadn't a flipping clue what we were doing wrong with these Fish!! We decided to burry Pizza in the garden, Baby Bear choose the sopt: a flower pot! He got his shovel and we made a little hole...placed Pizza and covered him over. I asked would we get a flower to put on, this idea was totally rejected, so we put a leaf! Baby Bear, of his own accord said 'Bye Pizza', turned with his shovel and went back into the house!! 

We had been to the library that morning 
Burying Pizza 
so we came in and read some of the book. 'Eric the Hero' was a great choice as Baby Bear didn't know what a hero was before and now was all chat about heros! Great I thought!! So as the rain poured down outside, I thought it would be a nice treat to put on a movie and snuggle on the couch! Baby Bear was thrilled at the idea. Here is the part I stopped using my brain!!!! I opened the DVD cupboard and a 'fishy' themed DVD grabbed my attention. Ah lovely I thought, this will be a nice movie to watch about happy Fish, playing and laughing and would really cheer up Baby Bear!!! The DVD in question: 'Finding Nemo'! Have YOU ever seem 'Finding Nemo'! I hadn't seen it in years!!! And clearly had forgotten the story!!!! It was awful!!! 15 mins in Baby Bear burst into tears, was shaking and had his fists clenched! He was soo upset!! I tried to comfort him, telling him wait to see who the Hero will be! My mind was racing! What had i just done!!!! I had completely added total sadness to an already upsetting(ish) day! Never before had I seen such sadness and upset from Baby Bear. I honestly think this was his first time experiencing utter sadness. Should I turn the DVD off? Should I wait and hope there is a happy ending? I didn't know what to do! Baby Bear was sitting shaking tucked in beside me, his eyes not leaving the TV. I decided on the latter, as the tears flew down his face throughout the movie I hoped against hope that the hero would swim in and save the day! This was a long time coming.....I skipped many scenes until finally Hero Dad arrived, saved Nemo and then....over!!! an hour of utter terror, sadness and  suspense for 5 minutes happiness at the end!!!! I tried to make a big deal of the hero coming etc but all I cold think was "what the hell had i just done!!" I honestly didn't know weather to burst out laughing or crying!!  

Bad DVD choice! 
Off with the telly, out comes jigsaws, lego, paints, fire engines, train sets...you name I was more than willing to play it! I must admit...I also went to the treat box and pulled out a lollypop...when that was gone I then puled out a packet of jellies!!!! What was I doing!!!! I actually didn't know what to do!!! Do I talk about it some more.....he's 3, how much will he really get.......but I cant just try ignore it....or can I? Baby Bear seemed happy out again....but was he just hiding his emotions again??

No I think he left out all his sadness, the first fish, thinking Granny had died, the second fish and now Nemo! I think it was all bottled up and Nemo took the cock off the bottle. Daddy Bear and I will try very gentle to talk and read stories about feelings and showing feelings with him over his entire life but I think we've enough for now! The very last thing I want is to be putting on my counsellor hat, Im Mommy Bear and he is Baby Bear, not a client. 

But showing 'Finding Nemo' God almighty! What was I thinking!!!!! What have I done?!?!?

So there it is.....my biggest (that Im aware!) parenting mistake to date! And yes I know there will be many more to come, but the first was tough! 

I will put up the resources and ideas I received from other mums about dealing with death with a toddler/preschooler. Maybe they can be of help to you. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, how you have dealt with death with your child how they reacted, and what you might do differently. 

Thanks for reading, 

Mommy Bear xx

Monday, 9 February 2015


Everywhere we look it's juices! The latest 'must-have' gadget seems to be the Nutribullet and the latest in-trend craze is juicing! So, what is it all about?

While tucking into the 6th box of Roses over Christmas, Daddy Bear and I decided we need to get fit and start maintaining a healthier diet and lifestlye.....once the New Year came! And with the new year brought this new craze. Or maybe not new, but we just seemed to notice it. 

A family member bought the all mighty, all praised NutriBullet before Christmas. We thought it would be used a few time and be back in the box by mid January! How wrong we were! It's a great sucess. And now we too have joined this juicing craze. Being completely specticle of the over priced glorified food processors we went an alternative route; juice delivery. 

Bottle of Juice outside our door early one morning
We are extremely lucky that the amazing Grace from Cork Nurtional Clinic has set up a fantastic service wherby she makes the juices and delivers them fresh to our door each morining before 7am! We simply drink our juice throughout the day, leave the empty bottle outside the door at night and in the morining, hey presto a fresh new bottle of juice!

We said to Grace we just wanted a juice that would detox us slightly, but just overall a healthy kick to our day really. The juice we get is just that; Ginger, Kale, Pear, Cucumber, Celery and sometimes an apple. In the bottle there is enough for a glass in the morning and a glass after work for both Daddy Bear and Mommy Bear, Baby Bear hates it! The taste is tough at the start but it definitely gets easier. The benefits are unbelievable! Coming from a total sceptic, I have been won over! Im not sure if its all in my head, but im feeling healthier, ive have more energy, my skin is clearer, its just overall a positive! 

Will we buy the Nutribullet and do it ourselves? Origionaly my answer on this was : No, not for the time being. The service Grace in Cork Nutrition Clinc provides is fantastic. Maybe im being lazy, but untill I see us sticking at this craze for a (good) couple of weeks longer we wont be making the purchase. Unfortunately since first drafting this post, Grace has been in touch to say she's no doing the juice delivery service for a few weeks due to her work schedule!!!! We're devastated! So what are we going to do!!! I might try make them myself in the food processor and see how it goes!! Stay posted! 

So if you havnt already, why not join in on the juicing craze? Either make them yourself or contact someone like Grace in The Cork Nutrition Clinc. 

We'd love to hear your thoughts, comments or recipe ideas for juices! xx

Daddy Bear and Mommy Bear x

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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Latest Clothes Haul

Recently while scanning through facebook I spotted a post by 'Bumps n Babies' saying they were having a clearence sale! When I first saw this I assumed it was a shop in Cork city, on further investigation I realised the sale was infact on in a community hall in a village outside cork city, this was because 'Bumps n Babies' is an online store only. I hummed and hawed about going, firstly I wasn't 100% sure how to get there and secondly bcause I just didnt really fancy driving there on my own. I hadn't done a good clothes stock up for Baby Bear in a while and knew it would be soon needed. A txt message to my mam later and we decided we would strike off the next day. Relying on directions from our human sat nav (Dad) and the actual Sat Nav in the car, myself, Baby Bear and my mam all struck off on the adventure. Still not 100% sure where we were going or what clothes would be there!

40 minutes later......... What a plesant surprise! Rails and tables of glorious clothes and footwear laid out in the community hall. Girls to the right, boys to the left conveniently divided by age and brand of clothing. I knew 'Bumps n Babies' stocked 'Hatley' clothing and this was my main reason for going, so over to the Hatley section we went. Raincoats, Wellies, shorts, swimwear, t shirts, sweatshirts, polo tops, tracksuits,pyjamas, underwear, winter coats, they had it all. While the sizes were limited,( it was a clearance sale after all,) the selection was great. The store owner was on hand with size guides, advice, matching and just overall super costumer service.  I stocked up from ages 3 to 5, and mam even got aged 7! It was too good to leave! I had previously bought Hatley for Baby Bear and have found the quality, washability and sizing brilliant. I adore the patterns and designs and just wish I could get each collection in each print!

So....my purchases!

Above is the selection of items I bought. I won't go through each item, instead Ive picked out my top 3! While BumpsnBabies does stock many labels, my top 3 purches are all 'Hatley'

No 1: Microscopic Creatures Hatley Raincoat.  Living by the sea this raincoat is ideal! Functional and stylish with terry lining to keep warm on a blustery day and PVC free!  On sale for €25 this purchase was a must.  Baby Bear loved the print and next mission is to find these sea creatures in the rock pools! 

(2)Hatley No lace canvas shoes. How trendy are these! I saw converse versions of these shoes only the day before, but the print on these is so fun and in keeping with our sea theme! I did take a little gamble on these regarding size. I went just one size up from his recent foot measuring. I would like these for spring so was thinking its a good choice? Not 100% sure, but time will tell. Love the fact these are slip on too. Trying to get Baby Bear to become more independent dressing so hopefully these will help. 

(3) 'Cow on Red' PJ set. Ah come on! How could I have left these after me! I wish they were in adult sizes and I would have gotten a pair for all 3 of us! I just love the print on these! They are super soft and seem like a cosy snug pair of pj's, Baby Bear will love them! 

So there you have it! My latest clothing haul for Baby Bear. I would highly recommend 'Bumps n Babies', Ive since had a look at the website and the range carried is fantastic. There is a great range of maternity and nursing items also, and not at extraordinary prices which is always nice to hear! The girls clothes are to die for, so do check it out: bumpsnbabies.ie and they are also on facebook. 

Ps: Do keep an eye on the facebook page for updates about another clearence sale! There not to be missed! 

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Hope you enjoy reading, watching and following our adventures. 

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.



teddy and 3 bears