Monday, 31 August 2015

Adventures with Alice

When on holiday in Llandudno last week I noticed lots of references to a book I loved as a child - Alice in Wonderland. I wasn't aware of any link between the two but a quick google told me that Llandudno is the home of Alice in Wonderland.

Alice Liddell was the real life Alice in Wonderland. She spent her holidays in Llandudno with her family and her adventures there are believed to be the inspiration for the book.

Llandudno is proud of it's connection to Alice in Wonderland. There is an Alice trail you can do. It's only £2.99 and can be a nice walk but be warned it's not buggy friendly! After walking round the Orme and managing to get the buggy down some steps we were faced with a gate we couldn't get through. Luckily Daddy Monkey was there to lift the pram over.

If you ignore the pram disasters, we enjoyed the trail. It was a nice walk in the sunshine, we found new places to explore and Monkey seemed to like the statues.

Once we were back there was really only one bedtime story we could have. Monkey is still too young for the original book but in a strange coincidence we had borrowed the Ladybird First Favourite Tales version from the library before we went.

This is a great version of the story to read with young children. There is lots of rhyme and the main parts of the story are told simply and clearly. It's a very colourful book with lots of bright pictures which Monkey enjoyed.

We'll be looking out for more in the series!


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Allergy friendly ice cream

We had a little holiday with Monkey last week which is why the blog was quiet. We went to Llandudno and had a fab time. That's a whole other blog post though. For now I just want to talk about the highlight of the holiday for me....


It's just one of those things you do at the seaside isn't it? Or at least it is for most people. When you're dealing with multiple allergies it's not quite that simple.

There are certain foods it really upsets me that Monkey can't have. Ice-cream is one of them. Yes, I know it's hardly a staple and she doesn't actually need it but it's always been my number one comfort food and what kid doesn't love ice-cream?

So it was a lovely surprise when we stumbled across The Looking Glass, a gorgeous ice-cream parlour. They do home made ice cream in lots of lovely flavours. We were gazing longingly through the window thinking we might nip back when Monkey was asleep when I saw a sign saying they had dairy free, vegan and gluten free options.

I went in for a chat thinking surely it was too good to be true. It was bound to contain soya and once again I'd have a disappointed little girl. But nope - not only did they have something Monkey could eat but she actually had a choice! All the sorbets were suitable and there was a choice of about five.

I've bought sorbet from supermarkets in the past but it's never felt like ice-cream. The texture is all wrong. The Looking Glass' sorbets weren't like that at all though, they looked and tasted just like ice cream. Monkey has started to notice when we give her something different but she really felt like she was having the same as us.

It's hard sometimes as an allergy mum having to say no especially while Monkey is still too young to understand why. It's even harder whilst on holiday. I want her to be able to have treats but I'm less likely to take risks. At home we have a GP, health visitor, consultant and dietitian supporting us, away from home we're on our own. I felt confident at The Looking Glass though and seeing Monkey eat her first ever 'ice-cream' really was the highlight of my holiday.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Look in my letterbox #3

It's Saturday again and that means it's time to link up with Alice Megan for Look in my letterbox

It's been a very quiet mail week at the Monkey House with only two penpal letters for me and one for Monkey. Hers did come all the way from Dubai though and was written in a very cute home made card. I really love these tiny penpals. I hope it's something Monkey will continue as she gets older.

Monkey was very excited by another piece of post I received. She seems to have inherited my love of christmas. I've started my shopping already but I know a lot of people don't like thinking about it this early. I'm mentioning it for a good reason though because today we received our christmas card from World Vision.

It wasn't a card for us. It was a card for Regina, the little girl we sponsor through them. It might seem early but it's got a long journey to get to her village in Uganda so we need to get it on it's way. We enjoy writing to Regina and don't want to miss this chance to wish her Ssekukulu Ennugi & Omwaka Omugya ogwe'ssanyu (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year in Luganda).

What's been through your letterbox this week?

Monday, 24 August 2015

Stories, fruit and paint!

It's Monday and we're all messy. It can only mean one thing - baby book club!

We had our big scary meeting at the children's centre last week. It wasn't actually that scary! The manager was lovely and we're now all official. We've got the room and we're open to everyone.

Today we read one of my favourites from when I was younger - The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

As always we started by reading the story with the babies in a circle. We had lots of toy caterpillars out for them to play with as they were listening.

All the food in the story made us hungry so we had a tasting session. Apples for Monday, pears for Tuesday, plums for Wednesday, strawberries for Thursday and oranges for Friday. Monkey can't have apples and pears although we are working on reintroducing them so I had to distract her with banana. She enjoyed the rest of the fruit though and oranges seemed to be her favourite.

We didn't eat the weekend meals as they were so huge. I think Monkey was a bit disappointed as she does love her food.

The craft activity today was very messy but lots of fun. We used hand printing to make a caterpillar picture and made butterflies using footprints. There was paint everywhere! The babies were covered and I ended up wearing a lot of it too. We did manage to get some on the paper though and Monkey made this lovely picture.

Book club is fast becoming one of our favourite activities. We can't wait for the next one.


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Look in my letterbox #2

Welcome to week two of nosying through the letterbox of the Monkey House. We're linking up with Alice Megan again for Look in My Letterbox.

It was a quiet mail week for me again this week. I started the week with a parcel of biscuit wrappers all the way from Dubai. It sounds a strange thing to receive I know but I save them to raise money for charity so I was really grateful for this donation.

I've had three penpal letters this week, all from UK pals. I really need to start working my way through my replies if I want to get any more.

Monkey had a bumper post day on Tuesday. Look at all this!

She had letters from three of her little penpals. One penpal had remembered how much we love giraffes and sent her this teddy. She also received this season's membership for the world's greatest football club - FC United of Manchester!

Have you had anything interesting in the post this week?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Keeping Monkey going

I always find breakfast difficult. I love my food but it's hard to be creative so early in a morning and I find I tend to eat the same kinds of thing each day. When you throw in allergies to dairy, soya, egg, wheat, apples and pears breakfast gets even more difficult. Poor Monkey has had the same breakfast every day since we started to wean her - Neocate spoon (prescription food to help with her weight), porridge fingers made with oat milk and if she's feeling really hungry (she usually is!) a banana.

So we were delighted to discover Keep Me Going, a brand new cereal which is free from all Monkey's allergens and also free from all the rubbish that is often found in kids cereals. We were even more delighted when they sent us a box to try!

Keep Me Going is the first in a new range of cereals developed by a dad who was worried about the salt and sugar content in many of the breakfast cereals available. It contains less sugar, less salt, is low in fat, high in fibre and has a low GI. All that and safe for Monkey to eat. The main ingredients are oats and barley with nothing nasty added.

I wasn't sure how Monkey would do with cereal. We did baby led weaning with her and she refuses to be spoon fed. Her own spoon control is still not great though so this had the potential to be a messy breakfast. I decided to serve it up with just a small amount of oat milk. She managed to eat the lot though with none going overboard. Surely an empty bowl from a happy smiley 13 month old says more about the product than I could ever do with my ramblings. She seemed to love it.

I don't usually eat cereal as I don't like milk. No allergies with me, just fussiness so the alternative milks are no good either. I've taken to grabbing a handful of this stuff and eating it dry as a snack though. It's really quite tasty!

Keep me Going is designed to appeal to all the family. It's not specifically marketed at kids so no cutesie characters on the box or anything like that. They have included three trading cards with each pack though. They're a Top Trumps style game based on countries of the world. You can print out a world mad for the trading cards at

At the moment Keep me going is only available from Ocado. It's £2.65 for a 375g box which I don't think is a bad price. It's certainly cheaper than most of the Free From ranges. Ocado isn't somewhere I usually shop but there are discounts available for your first order with them. The company are in talks with other supermarkets but they want to see how they perform at Ocado first. I'm really hoping they'll do well and I'll be able to buy it in Tesco for my Monkey very soon.

Family Fever

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Look in my letterbox #1

We're a bit obsessed with post in the Monkey House.

As a kid I loved Postman Pat and one of my favourite toys was my post office. I used to play with it for hours and wanted to work in a real one when I grew up. I still do! The only problem is I want to run one of those little country post offices that they're shutting down everywhere.

By the age of seven I'd found the perfect hobby to go with my obsession - penpalling! And nearly 30 years later (how did that happen?) I still love it. I have loads of penpals from all over the world.

Monkey has started to share my hobby and has five penpals of her own. Some are the children of my penpals, others we know through my facebook baby group. Obviously at 13 months old Monkey isn't writing a letter but she draws pictures and loves it when I read her letters to her. I'm hoping it's something she'll carry on with as she gets older.

Towards the end of last week I discovered a wonderful linky called Look in my letterbox and I knew I had to join in. Typically that means that this week has been a slow post week but here's what arrived this week.

Monday and Friday were rubbish days with no post. They're very rare at the Monkey House.

On Tuesday two boxes of cereal arrived for Monkey.

This is a brand new cereal that is completely safe for Monkey to eat. We've been sent a few boxes to try and will be reviewing it here very soon.

I also received a letter from my penpal Elaine on this very cute Guess how much I love you paper.

Wednesday and Thursday was the battle if the loyalty cards as I got vouchers from Tesco clubcard and Sainsburys Nectar card. A letter from the Czech Republic also arrived on Thursday.

This morning I had letters from pals in Glasgow and Slovakia. I love seeing all the stamps from different countries. They're so much prettier than ours.

I wonder what the postman will bring next week.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A bad day

Monkey has allergies. Lots of allergies.

It can be scary at times, a pain at others but most of the time it's just how she is. We had the worry of the diagnosis but now we just avoid dairy, soya, egg, wheat, apples and pears and on the whole she's fine.

Every now and again though, I have a day where it really gets to me. Today is one of those days.

I've no idea why today is bothering me. She's not had a reaction and is her usual happy self. She's been weighed today and is gaining weight.

I know I should be looking at the positives and usually I do. But today it bothers me that my 13 month old us still only 16lb 11, it bothers me that she's so close to walking but nowhere near getting shoes that fit, it bothers me that they're talking about more tests and it bothers me that she's described as complex.

What bothers me the most is that there's nothing I can do to change it. Knowing it's 'just one of those things' doesn't help. Realistically I know it's nothing I did but I can't help wondering about all those cheese and onion pies I craved during pregnancy.

She's getting older now and notices if we're eating something different to her. She's still too young to understand though. I have no idea what I'm going to tell her. I don't want to scare her but I do need her to know it's important. It's another thing that bothers me when I'm having a bad day.

There's no real point to this post except to say that even when allergies are well managed, they're a constant worry. It's hard to be an allergy mum.

Anyway enough feeling sorry for myself. Here's Monkey looking gorgeous yesterday

Monday, 10 August 2015

Bear Hunting at Baby Book Club

Today was the second of the baby book club that we've formed with some friends. The pressure was on though as we'd managed to get a room at the local children's centre to hold it in. We're hoping to hold it there regularly and maybe open it up to more people. The staff there seem keen but they have all kinds of boxes they have to tick with their managers so we knew they would be coming to see what we got up to.

The book for this week was We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. It's been around for ages, first published in 1989, it's still really popular. The story is all about a family going off together on a bear hunt. Despite the many obstacles they face on the way, they're not scared and eventually find a bear. But what happens then?

We had 7 babies (and one older sister!) at book club today aged between 7 and 15 months. We started by reading the story sitting on cushions then moved on to our activities. The main activity for today was a sensory recreation of the bear hunt.

With being off work for the summer I've completely lost track of my days so book club had completely snuck up on me. Luckily Mummy Hercules had it all under control and our bear hunt was fab.

First we crawled through the long wavy grass. Swishy swashy over the mat of artificial grass.

Next came a deep cold river to splash splosh our way through. The babies loved the blue crinkly fabric and it provided great protection for the next part of our hunt.


Thick oozy mud. They really did squelch and squerch as this seemed to be the favourite part of the hunt. The mud was chocolate custard made with oat milk. Another great thing about setting up our own group is that Monkey can join in with everything with no stress. Monkey and her friend Little Hercules both have allergies so we make sure everything is safe for them.

Other mums were cleverer than me here and stripped their babies down to their nappies. Monkey saw the food and was straight in there though! I did take her clothes off eventually but it was a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. Messy play at it's best!

With a LOT of encouragement to leave the mud we entered the big dark forest - stumbling and tripping our way through a tunnel with leaves.

Paper snowflakes dangled in a tunnel made our swirling whirling snowstorm. We crawled through shouting hooo whooo...

...then tiptoed into a narrow gloomy cave.

And found.....A BEAR!!!

Bear hunting is very exciting but very tiring so after all that we needed a nice relaxing activity. We made bear faces on paper plates then played with some toys.

It was a great book club. The children's centre seem pleased and the manager is going to meet with us. I'm hoping we'll have a permanent room but either way we'll be meeting again in two weeks to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar [Board Book]. Come back and see what we got up to.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Food trials - Finding the courage

One of Monkey's best friends is Little Hercules. The other night Little Hercules had poached egg for his tea.

I get it, it doesn't sound like news. Why on earth am I blogging about it? While like Monkey, little Hercules has allergies and this was a sign that he was doing well on the egg ladder - a plan for gradual reintroduction of egg back into the diet.

I'm really pleased for Little Hercules as it will open up so many more food options for him. I'm also incredibly proud of Mummy Hercules for being brave enough to do the egg ladder with him.

As a parent of a child with food allergies, ladders and trials are a bit of a nightmare. Obviously I don't want to unnecessarily restrict Monkey's diet but now she's generally happy and healthy the thought of giving her something that could make her poorly again terrifies me.

At Monkey's dietitian appointment at the start of July we agreed not to reintroduce any of the major allergens until she was at least 18 months. We'd had a disasterous wheat trial and accidental exposure to milk and it was decided that her reactions were still too severe to try the ladders. We did say we'd try apples and pears though. These had made Monkey very sick when weaning but she didn't have any of her other reaction types. We thought maybe her problems with these were more reflux related rather than true allergies.

I've still not given Monkey an apple. Or a pear.

I've found every excuse possible - waiting for a wheeze to clear, waiting until I'm off work, until her eczema clears up, until she's had her injections, until she's not teething - the list goes on and on. I know that now is a good time to try though. I also know that apple especially will give us so many more options when it comes to feeding Monkey.

But I'm terrified.

I can't get the picture of Monkey in that hospital cot out of my mind. She was so poorly and it was such a horrible time. The thought of giving her something that could potentially send her back there makes me feel sick.

I had a chat with Mummy Hercules about how she'd found the courage. She said that she'd been quite confident about egg but was worried about the next step which for them is the bottom of the milk ladder. We're going to hold each others hand through it though and be brave for our babies.

So today Monkey is having stewed apple - wish us luck!
Domesticated Momster

Friday, 7 August 2015


Did you know that there's an allergy hour on twitter?

Neither did I! I was just scrolling through last night, not really doing anything just bored when a tweet caught my eye. I can't even remember who the tweet was from but it included the hashtag #allergyhour so I decided to click and see what it was all about.

And I'm so glad I did.

I found myself talking to other allergy mummies, bloggers, doctors, free from food suppliers and all kinds of other people with in interest in allergies. There was advice, there was support, there was ranting, there was guilt but most of all there were people that 'get it'

I try to be positive about Monkey's allergies. I know on the whole she's happy and healthy and there are people out there dealing with a lot worse. It is a constant worry though, I spend my life worrying that she's going to get hold of the wrong thing and trying new foods is always scary. It was great chatting to people who had these same feelings and being able to feel slightly less neurotic.

I really enjoyed allergy hour. Officially it takes place from 8.30-9.30pm on a Thursday but I was chatting to people long after that. I'll definitely be back next week!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Our day out in Buxton

We've had a girl's day out today - me, my mum and Monkey. We've been over to Buxton where we had a lovely day this time last year when Monkey was still a brand new baby.

The day was similar in lots of ways. We visited the same places but Monkey was much more involved this year and had lots of fun.

It's about an hours drive from  our home in Manchester to Buxton so we were all ready for a drink when we got there. We headed straight for Number 6 tea rooms. Now Monkey has decided she's too grown up for breast milk I can eat what I want again so I treated myself to a cheese scone and hot chocolate with all the trimmings. I felt really guilty though, we shared the restricted diet for so long I feel awful for leaving her behind.

There wasn't much that Monkey could eat but that was more down to the combination of her allergies than them not catering. They had a good selection of gluten/wheat free options and seemed to be quite allergy aware. It was no problem for them to cook a slice of bacon for Monkey - and they didn't even charge us for it!

Once we were all refuelled it was time for the park, or Pavilion Gardens to give it it's proper name. We had a bit of a walk through the gardens but really we were just on our way to the swings. Monkey loves them. Walking towards the play area it looked quite busy but it wasn't too bad and she was able to get on the swings straight away.

The play area is designed so the toddler section is seperate from the bigger kids so even though it was busy I still felt safe letting Monkey explore. The swings are definitely her favourite but she enjoyed the slide, bouncers and roundabout too.

After the play area we headed for the mini train. It's only £1 to go round twice and it's free for kids under 3! I wasn't too sure what Monkey would make of it but she had a big grin all the way round and her giggles as we went through the tunnel were amazing.

We were hungry after all that fun and I could tell Monkey wanted to be off and stomping about. I can't really put her down outside as I can't get shoes for her anywhere ( that's a whole different post...) so we went to the cafe in the gardens which has a toddlers soft play area.

I'm going to go into rant mode here - why when something is very clearly called a TODDLERS play area do people let their 7,8,9 year olds play in there. They seemed like nice kids but they were big and boisterous and I was slightly worried about Monkey being trampled.

Monkey didn't seem bothered though. She's really sociable and honestly has no idea she's tiny. She was straight off, climbing to go and join in with the big kids.

By the time we'd finished eating and playing our parking had run out and it was time to head home. We had a really lovely day.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Chocolate for Monkey

When I first found out about Monkey's allergies I was really upset. I felt like I'd been poisoning her and had no idea how to keep her safe. I had no idea how serious it was but having a room to ourselves at hospital for a week made me think it wasn't something to be messed with.

After we came home from hospital I did lots of reading up. At this point we were only avoiding dairy and soya. It meant a big change in my diet but as long as we both avoided the foods, Monkey should be safe.

As things settled down and Monkey became less poorly my feelings changed from panic to sadness. Obviously I'd do whatever I could to keep her safe but I began to be upset about all the things she'd never taste - yoghurt, ice-cream, CHOCOLATE!!!

I was never going to be a mum who fed my baby loads of chocolate but thinking that she would never have any really upset me. It really started to bother me as we got closer to Easter. By this time Monkey was well into weaning and loving her food. I didn't want her to sit and eat a full easter egg but I wanted to get her a treat.

I was really excited to discover lots of dairy free easter eggs in my local supermarket. The excitement didn't last long though, they were all made from soya which is another of Monkey's allergies. I was back to feeling sad.

And then I discovered Moo free!

Moo free make award winning chocolate that is dairy free, soya free and wheat free making it ideal for Monkey. Even better, they make easter eggs so she was able to have one for her first Easter after all.

Once we'd discovered Moo Free we found that they had a good range of chocs for Monkey to try. And she loved them all! Something I moan about quite often is the price of free from foods. Whilst Moo Free is not as ridiculously priced as some, it's still not cheap. A 100g bar is usually priced at £2.50 and the mini moos (24g bars) are around £1 each. I was really chuffed to find some great offers on Amazon today though.

It's a real bargain so we've stocked up!

As well as making yummy chocolate the people at Moo Free are lovely and help to support people with allergies. They sent us this fab raffle prize for our Free from feast.