Week 12 with some great recipes ahead! Feel free to share with anyone who could use some inspiration! And tell me, what recipes would you like to see more of? What are some of your facourites? Have you tried anything here? Be sure to use #CookingwithMPM when posting photos if you’ve used the recipes here to show off!
Have you checked out some of the great snack ideas on my last post, preparing for a road trip? There are lots of great ideas there, too!
This week, I’m featuring recipes from Easy Peasy Foodie, My Fussy Eater, Kidgredients, Planting Goodness, The Starving Chef, Fork and Beans, Good Food Week, and Family Capers! If you don’t already follow them and their creations, I highly recommend it!
Mummy Confession: We have never been on a family holiday. This winter, we plan on going on a nice holiday to the snow
Disclosure: This list has been compiled of my own accord and I have not been compensated or sponsored by any of the following companies for this post. This post, however does contain some affiliate links which just means I earn a percentage in qualifying purchases, but has no effect on the price you pay. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
To my friends overseas, it may seem like a silly idea, having to travel to see the snow. Sydney never gets snow, though, so it is necessary if my kids want to see the fluffy white stuff. They have never seen snow (except for when my oldest was 9 months old, but there is no way she remembers that). So, this is going to be exciting for everyone!
Now, coming from a snowy-winter State in the US, I have an idea of what I will be needing as we travel, but needed to create bit of a list as I’ve never been there with children. I’ve compiled a list of essentials when traveling to the snow in Australia, essentially this is a list for adults and children, but I have mostly included photos of the things for children. I hope this will help anyone set to pack up and head to frolic about the flurries!
Included below are some things to bring along and Part Two includes some road trip essentials, snack ideas, game/activity ideas and helpful tips from fellow road-travelers.
This list will be edited upon my return and critiqued as well!
Here is the quick click for the lists on this topic:
(The later ones will be edited to click through to the next post)
1. Lip Balm & lotion– Those cold temperatures can make lips and skin quite dry! Be sure to go for a Chapstick with SPF, because lips can get sunburn, too! I prefer the Blistex range for myself. Over here, there aren’t as many choices, but they offer a fair few types in the US.
For lotion, I’m a big Nivea and Aveeno fan! Aveeno is great for my bubs sensitive skin as well, so win-win! I make sure to apply it several times a day, especially on my hands, as they get chapped and dry very quickly in the winter weather!
2. Sunscreen– Though it’s cold, the sun is still out! It reflects off of the snow, and you can wind up with some pretty bad sunburn if you aren’t careful. I have very fair skin and so do a couple of my kids, so I need to be mindful of when I last applied sunscreen, and that I cover everything that isn’t covered by clothing. Be sure it’s a good brand and actually true to the rating. You can do some research here on sunscreen and finding the right one for you. We use Nivea SunKids 50+ Roll On for the kids, and Cancer council Classic 50+ Classic for the adults. Our littlest has to use a more sensitive sunscreen, and I have been recommended MooGoo Sunscreens for him.
3. Snow Gear- pants, jacket, boots, hat and gloves all waterproof or water resistant. Yes, you can do it old-school and just wear thicker pants and a warm jacket. I know how quickly things get soggy, and soggy turns to frozen in the cold. I wanted to make sure I purchased winter-proof (and water proof or resistant) snow pants, coat, gloves/mittens, and boots especially!
–For Jackets/Coats, I prefer ones without the fluffy bit outside the hood, as I recall my childhood was spent picking the snow and ice out of the fluff, and it just seemed to trap it close to my face. A hood is essential for my kids, even with a hat, just to keep the snow out of their suit! I opted for ones with snow skirts and all the bits to keep snow outside the jacket! I’ve bought the girl’s jacket from Mountain Warehouse, and the boy’s from Amazon.
–For Pants, Similar guidelines for the pants, as they had to keep the snow out, and keep warm! I prefer the overall style, as I don’t need my kids’ pants falling down as they play! The girl pants from Mountain Warehouse have a removable Overall. The boy’s does not remove, but I think that’s for the best! I opted for two pieces rather than one, as two of the kids are toilet trained, and it’s easier to take off a pair of pants than to try and manoeuvre out of the whole suit itself! I hope this proves a smart move on my part!
–For Boots, I made sure to go up a size, as thick winter socks are a lot better for the snowy temperatures! I look on Amazon for reviews in order to better choose a pair for my kids, if not to purchase online as well. I purchased my boots from Mountain Warehouse and Amazon. For the style, it was just based on which reviews were the best, and the design did not matter. I found a great design that was less than half as much as the others, so I went for the camo! They’ll be hiding under the pants, anyways!
–I prefer mittens for smaller kids, as it’s a hard enough job to get a thumb separate from the other fingers! I really love these Thinsulate gloves I found at H&M! They are water resistant and not super bulky for already struggling little fingers. Gloves are fairly easy to track down, but just make sure they do keep little hands warm!
-I found these great thinsulate hats online which are made to keep extra warm, but not as thick. You can find these a range of places. I also have the fur trapper style hats for the littler kids.
4. Thick socks– I love the woollen socks by Holeproof Explorer, and they do keep your feet nice and cozy! I also managed to snag some merino socks from the Aldi snow sale!
5. Thermal gear or layers– Plenty of clothing is essential, and the warm clothing especially. Back in the US, we layered up more than wearing thermals, but I find with kids, the less clothing needed, the less laundry I have to do later. Kmart has thermals for all ages at affordable prices, so I started there. I picked up a couple for each child. I also got some merino style shirts as well, as I have been told they do better for regulating temperatures. They do tend to run more pricey.
6. Warm clothing and pyjamas– Again, this is obvious, but you wear more, and you soak through clothing no matter how water resistant your gear is due to sweating, so bring plenty of warm things to change into after your activities outside. My favourites for the kids are some cozy fleece PJs from Kmart or these lovely footie pyjamas my mum sent me from the States. For the baby, I prefer to sleep him in a tog rated sleeping bag with the appropriate clothing, or his merino or tog rated sleepwear.
7. A four wheel drive vehicle or chains – Apparently in Australia, if you do not own a four wheel drive vehicle, chains are required on tyres upon traveling to snowy areas. This is a new thing for me, because I’m fairly certain they were illegal in my home State.
8. Plastic bags or other waterproof bags– For transportation of wet gear. But, a more handy tip we used back stateside was to actually wrap our feet (over top of the socks, under the boots) in plastic bags to prevent having soggy socks which turned into frozen toes.
9. Water Bottles– Its important to stay hydrated, especially when you don’t think it’s too hot. Chapped or burning lips can be a sign of dehydration (or sunburn), so be sure you are getting the recommended intake of water each day, especially if you are participating in snow sports. Be sure the kids get enough, too, because they often forget. We use these Camelbak ones for the kids, which have a handy place for a caribeener to hook them up and not lose them in the snow!
10. Snow Fun– Now, you can hire or you can buy your fun. We’ve purchased a couple small sleds in Aldi’s snow sale, but plan to hire anything else needed as we need. I’d prefer not to bring all the bulky equipment that we won’t use after this trip, and it shouldn’t run too pricey, as the kids are young and mostly want to run around in the snow.
1. A travel cot– Obviously where we go will have beds for those who sleep in them, but the baby needs somewhere to stay, too! I’ve heard the Baby Bjorn Travel Cot Light is quite good!
2. Portable High Chair– Of course wherever you go will have chairs, but in case they don’t accomodate younger babies, a high chair will be needed. I opt for the more portable options that can be stuck on any chair such as the Target brand portable booster or the Gro Company chair harness.
3. Sleeping Bag, Swaddle or Sleep Suit– those cold winter nights can mean a chilly baby. In order to help you figure out what clothing and tog to use, most companies make a chart to help. The Gro Company has a handy thermometer called the Gro Egg in order to let you know what layers and sleeping bag would work best. We recently purchased the ErgoPouch Sleep Suit Bag and Love to Dream Sleep Suit (the comparison is here if you want to know the differences), so those are some other great options.
4. A Good Baby Carrier– IF you are going to be outside with a baby in the snow for a while, and this baby isn’t great at walking (or doesn’t walk), it may be a good idea to take along a good carrier for bubs. The Baby Bjorn Carrier One Outdoors is great for active times, and it is built to keep weather out a bit better than a typical carrier, as well as drying quicker. It may be a bit of a time to put a fully snow-proofed baby into though- I guess we will see!
5. Medicines, just in case!– You don’t want to be running around trying to find medicine at all hours of the night, so it’s best to pack just in case! Be sure you carry paracetamol, ibuprofen, allergy medicine and any other occasional medicine you have used. We add an inhaler, some eczema cream, and some cough/cold medicine as well as vitamins and probiotics.
6. Nightlights and Comfort Objects– Being away from home may mean some homesickness or uneasiness about travel. Bringing a comfort toy from home and a nightlight may help them feel more secure and also help them during the night when they need to get up and use the toilet or for you to see if you need to tend to their needs as well. The GroEgg is a great option for this, and doubles as a thermometer as well!
Hello everyone! Thank you for checking out the meal plan this week! So far, we have had so many nice recipes! This week we are featuring some yummy recipes from Super Healthy Kids, My Gluten Free Miami, Eats Amazing, Daisies & Pie, Kidgredients, and Bites of Flavor! We are continuing with a Soup, Salad, and Dessert of the Week as well (read all the way to the bottom, yum! Featuring Good Food Week, Kidgredients, and Goodie Goodie Lunch Box!
Feel free to let us know what you are loving and what recipes you want to see more! Use the hashtag #CookingwithMPM to show us how you’re cooking and enjoying the meals!
So, I present to you, the Meal Plan! Be sure to subscribe to get an email when they are posted weekly! Enjoy!
She has been amazing enough to share about a condition called diastasis recti! Pam has first hand experience with diastasis and I hope the information and her personal journey here will help someone else who may have questions or is on their own journey!
Pam’s Journey with Diastasis Recti (Part One)
My name is Pam and I had a problem that affects many women, but few know about. It’s called diastasis recti. This is a separation of the ab muscles. For most women, after pregnancy, their ab muscles go back together. For others, they don’t. That gap is a diastasis recti. Risk factors for getting a diastasis recti include carrying multiples, c sections, and multiple pregnancies. Or, in my case, a petite torso and a baby that was transverse for much of the 3rd trimester.
“When I was doing [crunches and sit-ups], my stomach…bulged out like a mountain, or like an alien was trying to escape my belly button. It was so bizarre that I mentioned it to my OB.”
My first son was born in 2011. He was born by emergency c section. He was transverse for much of the 3rd trimester. I carried him all out front, and my muscles and linea alba were stretched to the max. I had never heard of a diastasis recti though. A few weeks after he was born, I was eager to start getting my body back. So I started doing a few crunches and sit ups, since that helped me get a six pack before I was pregnant. And when I was doing them, my stomach did this very strange thing. It bulged out like a mountain, or like an alien was trying to escape my belly button. It was so bizarre that I mentioned it to my OB at my 6 week check up. She felt around my belly, and said that I had a diastasis recti. She said that she had one too, and explained what it was. I remember asking her what can be done. She said that it can be fixed surgically, but most surgeons only do it after you’re done having kids. I asked if PT could help, and she said she didn’t know if it did. I left feeling like a bit of failure. I didn’t heal right after my baby was born, and it seemed like I was stuck with it.
At my next physical, I asked my regular doctor about it too. She also felt that it was there. She also didn’t know what I could do about it, aside from surgery.
So I saw a general surgeon. He was an older guy who said that I also had an umbilical hernia along with my diastasis recti. He said that the surgery would be through my belly button, and it would have to wait until our family was done. At this point, my husband and I didn’t know what our future was for our family, so I had to wait. (I would later find out that I did not have an umbilical hernia, and that he was wrong.)
I was so unhappy with how my body looked. I had this perpetual baby bump, which is a common characteristic of a diastasis recti. I couldn’t bathe my son, because it was too hard to bend over the tub without my core being able to support my body. Doing the dishes was uncomfortable too. I struggled to carry heavy things, like laundry baskets and boxes. I also had trouble opening tightly closed containers because of my limited core strength. This diastasis recti was impacting my life, more than just how I looked and how people wrongly assumed that I was pregnant.
So I took to Google. There were some resources there, but not much yet. (More information and resources are available now though!!!) I did learn that in France, all women get physical therapy after birth to help their muscles and pelvic floor heal. And I was very jealous! If I had had that care, then maybe my body would be in better condition. I read about a few exercise programs that you can buy to help heal your diastasis recti. I also found a physical therapy facility near me that had a specialization in post-partum women’s health. I called them and started going.
I liked my first PT a lot. She was kind, patient, non-judgmental, and very helpful. I learned so much about how my muscles work (or don’t work in my case!). I learned how to gain some of my strength back. It was the support that I needed and the learning about my condition that I was desperately seeking. I wished that my doctors knew about the importance of physical therapy to help a diastasis recti.
“The videos didn’t help. I was stuck and I hated it. I tried jogging, and it made no change to the size of my stomach bulge. Between the extra skin and the diastasis recti separation, no amount of exercise was going to change what I looked like.”
At the beginning of my PT journey, my gap between my muscles was about 4 fingers wide, which is no small amount. It was May 2012. I did PT for about 1 and a half years or so, and I was able to shrink my gap to 1.5/2 fingers wide. But I was stuck there. I was not able to heal the gap. I tried to go back and saw a different PT. She was much less helpful and I didn’t make any further progress. I felt frustrated and stuck. I looked always a little pregnant, which people would ask me about. (Never ask a woman if she is pregnant!!) I tried one of the programs that I had found online, and it was a complete failure. I ended up just wasting time and quite a bit of money. I then tried some exercise videos, being careful to not make my diastasis recti worse. Doing any crunch or sit up type moves, or 100s in pilates, etc can pull the muscles apart more. So I did everything but these kinds of movements. The videos didn’t help. I was stuck and I hated it. I tried jogging, and it made no change to the size of my stomach bulge. Between the extra skin and the diastasis recti separation, no amount of exercise was going to change what I looked like.
“Through my participation [in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project], I was finally able to find peace and acceptance with my new body. It will forever be a part of my post-partum journey. Although my body wasn’t changed, I could mentally move forward.”
As a Mom in this era, I often found great support and resources online for all parts of Motherhood. This battle I was having with my broken body was no different. One life changing support network was the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. This photography project was dedicated to the uncensored beauty of motherhood. This project showed real Moms, and what a real Mom’s body looked like. This was so eye opening for me, and empowering. These were real people, not super models. And nothing was retouched. When I saw the picture of a Mom who also had a diastasis recti, I was brought to tears. I feel in love with the project’s mission and decided to participate in March 2014. Through my participation, I was finally able to find peace and acceptance with my new body. It will forever be a part of my post-partum journey. Although my body wasn’t changed, I could mentally move forward.
In 2015, my husband I decided finally that we wanted to have one more child. I knew that another pregnancy would re-open my muscle gap and make it worse. I knew that it could be painful and be an issue during the pregnancy. But we were happy to announce that I was pregnant in the fall of 2015. I was having a baby girl! Since my muscles were so weak, I showed very fast and I carried very big. I also had extra amniotic fluid for parts of my 3rd trimester. She was also transverse at times as well. I was having pelvic floor pain and back pain with this pregnancy. I had to wear a support brace that helped lessen the discomfort some. I then had to stop working at 36 weeks because I just couldn’t walk comfortably anymore. I knew that this pregnancy has really stretched my already stretched out muscles and skin.
My baby girl was born in May 2016 also by c section. Since at this point I knew my muscles and my body so well, I knew I had another big diastasis recti. Assessing myself a few weeks post partum, my gap felt 4 fingers wide again, and much deeper. Once I healed from my c section, I started to notice back pain and hip pain. The pelvic floor pain started around 6 months post partum too. I did not have pain like this after my first baby. Doing many everyday things truly became impossible without both immediate and lingering pain. I knew that I need to get back to PT and start the process for a surgery consult.
“Doing many everyday things truly became impossible without both immediate and lingering pain.”
My women’s health PT this go around was so incredibly helpful. While there was not too much that we did for my diastasis recti, my PT was able to help me manage the back, hip, and pelvic pain. I still felt weak and broken, but at least I wasn’t in as much pain each day. She is kind and understanding and so helpful. I am so glad that I saw her before surgery.
I started my surgery consult with a general surgeon at the same office that I went to after my son was born. I saw a different doctor, who specialized in hernia repair. After looking at me, he said that I don’t have an umbilical hernia, and I do have a large and deep diastasis recti. He said that at this point my linea alba (this tissue connects your ab muscles) was “obliterated”. And it would be like operating on a wet tissue. He took some pictures of my belly and brought my case to his organization of hernia surgeons for further guidance, with my approval. At my second consultation, he said (very nicely) that there was nothing that he could do for me. For him, I was not operable and not a candidate for surgery. He said that I would have to see a plastic surgeon, and he gave me the name of one who he’s worked with before to get insurance to cover a plastic surgery procedure. I left feeling even more broken, defeated and alone in this journey. But I knew that I needed to be fixed. At 34, I should not be having chronic pain like this, and I knew it would only get worse as I got older if I didn’t fix my body.
My initial appointment with the plastic surgeon went well. She spoke fast but understood what I needed and why. We started the process to try and get my insurance to cover it. From my view point, this was a medically necessary procedure, despite the fact that it was with a plastic surgeon. I could not function with my core as messed up as it was. In my mind, I was calling my procedure a “reconstruction of my abdominal wall”. I didn’t yet know that that is essentially what a tummy tuck is. And a tummy tuck was what I was getting. The surgeon explained that if she only fixed my abdominal wall, then I would have a “fanny pack” of extra skin that will forever hang over the waist of my pants. So we obviously had to include removing the extra skin too.
The surgeon’s office tried many ways to code this procedure to get it approved, but to no avail. They priced it out for what I would have to pay out of pocket and gave us the number. It was much lower than we thought (still not cheap!) but we could swing it. So we paid and set the surgery date for May 8th, 2017, when my baby girl would be 11 months old.
I was extremely nervous leading up to the procedure. This was major surgery. I was going to opened up wide and operated on. I could not even fathom what I would look or feel like afterward. I had been disappointed so many times trying to fix myself and I absolutely did not dare to even think about the results. I just didn’t want to be broken anymore. I was too focused on my worries, arranging for the time off from work, and trying to arrange care for my kids while I had an 8 week lift restriction.
“I was worse than most that they see. It made me feel validated that I was truly broken and that I was not “lazy” or “fat”.”
Despite my worries, the actual procedure went very well. It took 3 hours or so. At pre-op, she and her surgical resident came to mark up my belly. They both were amazed still at how my belly looked and were happy to be fixing it for me. For whatever reason, this helped me feel a lot better. I was worse than most that they see. It made me feel validated that I was truly broken and that I was not “lazy” or “fat”. My surgeon said that she had to do an extensive amount of work on my muscles, especially in the middle by my belly button. She had to cut out and reattach my belly button after removing the extra skin. My incision line is about 15” long, from hip to hip.
My surgery was a day procedure, which was surprising but ended up being fine. I didn’t really look at myself that first day, I was extremely tired! I had 2 drains and a binder around my belly. The binder will have to be worn at all times for the first 4 or so weeks, and then I can switch to a Spanx type support if I wanted for weeks 4-8. The 2 drains were removed at 2 days post op and 5 days post op respectively. The first few times that I saw my new body I didn’t even recognize myself. It felt like an out of body experience, to the point that it felt strange to even look at myself. Most of the skin on my belly is totally numb and my belly button is now shaped differently than it ever had been my entire life.
During the second week things improved though! I was starting to heal internally and externally a little bit. It was still going to be a long healing process, but my scar was not as gruesome/Frankenstein looking. And I was starting to be able to move a little bit normally. (I could finally sit to use the toilet without help! It’s the small things!)
“I look like ME. The old me. The not broken me. The strong me”
As I type this I am 16 days post op. I will return to work at 4 weeks post op (28 days). I will hopefully return to full normal activities by 8 weeks post op. I have to see how my healing goes with the surgeon. Right now I am healing well but a little slowly because of all the muscle work that I needed. And I am starting to love my body again. I’m wearing my binder all the time, except to shower. (It is under my dress in the picture.) My back, hip and pelvic pain are completely gone. And I look like ME. The old me. The not broken me. The strong me. The me with a normal shaped body. No more being broken and disfigured. No more looking pregnant. I am ME again. And I am so glad. So very very glad.