10 Ways to Know Your Child Has a Cold – Dettol Mission For Health

11 Jun

This month over at Dettol Mission for Health I am sharing “10 Ways You Know Your Child Has a Cold. Below is a mere snippet, click HERE to read the full article.

As far as I’m concerned there are two seasons that I observe as a parent, The Snot Season and The Not Snot Season. As soon as the mercury begins to plummet, as it is doing right now, you can bet your bottom dollar that the snot is on its way. As a parent I am braced for it with all the enthusiasm of root canal surgery. Here are 10 of the tell tale signs that your child has a cold.

Your child will go to bed a happy little bundle of joy and wake up with look of The Exorcist girl about them, all blood-shot eyes, pale skin, angry demeanour, trance like stare and of course a large helping of thick gloop that will be your enemy for the next few days.

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Be Nice

10 Jun

A fortnight ago we were at our local Farmers Market, I love me a good Farmer’s Market, it’s a chance to ignore your city roots, talk to farmers about their crops and the terrible weather they’ve been having. For Max it’s a chance to gorge on free tasters and flirt with the farmer’s daughter. This particular farmers market was a soggy affair.

Max is very quick these days to pick up on a bit of moisture in the air and if there’s the faintest hint of a possibility of a puddle he is reaching for his boots and anorak. The Boy beats Peppa Pig at her own game and every puddle from the most meagre right up to puddles that are on the verge of ponds are all fair game. After eating his way through several plates of gourmet cheese, half a kilo of organic sausages, a handful of toasted chestnuts, some freshly squeezed juice to wash it all down and a kiss from the farmer’s daughter, he noticed one of the largest, muddiest, puddles known to man or pig.

The way I see it you have two choices Daddio, you can let The Boy have his moment of ecstasy in the puddle and accept that he will be muddier and wetter and colder than ideal or you can endure a morning of high frequency, surround sound tantruming with the volume turned up loud. “Go on Max, show the others how it’s done!” He started off at a slow canter, built up to a gallop and by the time he hit the puddle he was going flat out. There was a collective gasp from the audience that had gathered as he plonked himself down right in the middle.
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The next twenty minutes were spent watching on in delight as Max, ran, jumped, splashed, charged, skipped and spun his way in and out of the muddiest of puddles. The audience had grown and Max had worked them into a collective frenzy, if I was wearing a hat I would have walked around and rid them of the contents of their purses and wallets. Just then I heard a very serious looking gentleman asking who the child belonged to. Aaaahhh shit here we go, some do-gooder is going to lambast me for letting my child play in the filthy, cold water. A few fingers pointed in my direction, the chap came striding towards me and I assumed the brace position.
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“Is this your son?”

“He sure is”

“Could I just say what a delight it is to see a parent let their child be a child”

“You most certainly can say that and thank you”

“I’m actually a photographer and I’ve got some amazing shots that I’ll forward on to you”
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I am so grateful to this man that I had never met before, not only did he capture a moment that brings a huge smile to my face but he said nice things about the way I choose to parent. So many people assume the role of expert and judge where parenting is concerned and too few people take it upon themselves to point out the good in other parents work. It’s very easy to be critical of what others are doing but having been on the receiving end of some kind words I will be looking to spread the parent love myself.
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We squelched home that day, Max high on adrenaline and me high on love.
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Have you ever been on the end of some kind or unkind words from a stranger regarding your own parenting?

My Fabulous New Camp Coiffeur

9 Jun

“Who is good with men?”

“Well I am but I don’t think you mean it like that, do you?”

This was the first exchange that I had with my new camp coiffeur and it set the trend for what followed. I rang up to find that my usual girl was on maternity leave – so that’s what that big bump was that kept pressing against my ear! The relationship between stylist and this particular Dad is a cherished one, you have to go through a few duds before you find ‘the right one’ and you feel a bit let down when they selfishly leave you to give birth and raise their child.

I suspect Kylie (I’ll call him Kylie because I’ve since learnt he’s a big fan and was highly impressed that my first ever album purchase was ‘Locomotion’) was trying to shock me but I like a challenge so I took him up on his offer, to cut my hair that is. I’m quite partial to a haircut, even more so since I’ve been doing the stay at home thing. It feels thoroughly indulgent to sit in a nice cosy chair for half an hour and talk about you.

I turned up at the salon, flicked through the men’s magazines I was presented with and did what I always do – I looked at all the photos to find the best looking bloke and then convince myself that if I ask for my hair to be cut like theirs then I’ll look like that. A bald man in a tight fitting t-shirt and designer stubble saunters over towards me, I don’t trust bald hairdressers, it’s like a naturist designing clothes, no?

“You’re mine sweetie, come with me”. I have never been to a brothel but I suspect that is the sort of thing you may hear if you did. I took up my seat and sat patiently while Kylie ran his fingers through my hair, first one way and then the other. “What can I do to you?” he said with a devious smile. “You mean, what can I do for you. A haircut would be super”. I am the world’s worst person at answering this question, I usually throw out a fairly abstract word and hope that they are able to interpret exactly what I mean. Previous responses have included, “I want to feel like I’ve got my money’s worth, I want to look more attractive to the opposite sex and mine and their favourite “do whatever you like”.

Today’s word was “dapper”. Dapper seemed to please Kylie, he’s quite ‘fierce’ and he doesn’t like to display his pleasure but I could see the faintest hint of a smile when I said it. “Go with Stacy and she’ll get you wet for me”. Is he always like this? It’s really, really nice having someone wash and massage your head but it’s often a 16 year old girl which makes me a little nervous. So rather than closing my eyes and giving in to it, I fight it with all my might and make inane conversation about how long she has until she is trusted with a pair of scissors and which member of One Direction is the hottest.

“So what do you do when you’re not flirting with me?”

“I’m a Daddy Blogger and stay at home dad”

“A whatty whatter”

“I write about being a Dad and whatever else might interest me”

“Are you going to write about me? You can’t use my real name and if you say anything about me that isn’t fabulous I’ll shave “bastard” into the back of your head”.

“If you start reading my blog and don’t leave any filthy comments then I will dedicate one entire post to you and your fabulousness”.

As well as using every innuendo in the Complete Works of Homo-Erotic Innuendo Volumes 1, 2 and 3, he made me laugh. I’ve had stylists literally force themselves through gritted teeth to ask “are you going anywhere on your holidays?” so this made for a pleasant change. As for the haircut, there is a very fine line between the Dapper look and the Communist Russia look, but Kylie I think you pulled it off (that’s a terrible turn of phrase to use around you).
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Have you got any hairdresser experiences you’d care to share, from the fabulous to the not so fabulous? Oh and don’t forget to say hi to Kylie.

My Top 10 Stock Cupboard Essentials with Kids

6 Jun

Cooking for kids is an art form and one that evolves as they do. I never really know what the reaction will be when I plonk a plate in front of Max, if its good he will end up wearing it around his mouth and if not I will usually end up wearing it about my person. Throw in the endless trips to the supermarket and the urge to feed your kids a healthy and varied diet and it can be a pain in the bottom. One thing that helps to minimise that painful bottom is stocking up on those versatile ingredients that so often save the day. You probably already have a fair idea of what works in your house but I thought I would share my Top 10 Stock Cupboard Essentials and some of the different ways I use them.

Tortilla Wraps – These are a staple in our house and can be used in lots of different ways. You can get all different kinds including wholemeal. As well as using them as they are intended and rolling them up with a filling (tuna mayo gets the nod from Max) I will also use them as a pizza base, I sometimes cut them into little triangles, bake them and have them with a homemade dip or Max’s favourite as a quesadilla stuffed with spinach, cheese and mushroom –once you fold them the kids can’t see what they’re eating so they become a good vehicle for veggies.
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Chick Peas – I love that Max eats these because it’s something simple and healthy that requires no prep. We take them out with us for his snack or if his lunch is looking a bit sparse I will fill in the gaps with chick peas. I will add them to soups and once they are blitzed they add an extra bit of flavour. And you can’t mention chick peas without mentioning humus, I blitz a couple of cans at a time and add lemon juice, a bit of garlic, some olive oil and Tahini (but to be fair chick peas, olive oil and a bit of water does the job).

Lentils – Lentils are very good at ticking the cheap and healthy boxes. I use the little orange ones mostly because they cook quickly and the flavour isn’t as strong as the green ones. I use them to thicken soups, they cook in about 10 mins and can then be blitzed up to make sure the soup gets from bowl to mouth without too many spillages. You can use them to make patties along with grated carrot, onion and potato. You can add them to Bolognese sauce instead of mince and again you can make dips with them, sweet potato and lentil works well.
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Risoni – Risoni is the pasta that looks like rice and is also known as Orzo. This is a great addition for the stock cupboard as it’s much quicker to cook than rice or other pastas and time nearly always seems to be of the essence in our house. I will make a sauce with béchamel, cheese, mushroom and spinach or if I need a quick fix I just add tuna and pesto and Max loves it. You can also use it to make a cheats risotto, adding stock rather than water and finishing with pea, cheese and ham for example. Its another good thickener for soups as well as it absorbs the excess liquid.

Frozen Chopped Spinach – So I keep banging on about spinach and this is my all time favourite ingredient for Max. It costs a grand total of $1 per box, it’s chopped to a size that works for little people, its super healthy and it’s not got a huge amount of flavour for them to object to. Pretty much anything that gets cooked in our house I will add a bit of spinach, if you think about it it works with cheese dishes and tomato based dishes which covers just about all bases. Pizzas, frittatas, soups, pasties, pastas, chilli’s, quesadillas, rice dishes and even a cheeky toasted sandwich all respond well to a bit of spinach.
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Pesto – Max loves the stuff and given the fact that it has such a strong flavour it can mask some of the veggies that he isn’t quite so keen on. Check the back of the jar and go for the one with the highest percentage of basil. One of the easiest meals I do for Max is spaghetti with pesto, tuna and spinach. The biggest drawback is that you will suddenly start noticing little green splatters all over the house.

Miso Soup – Max is a big fan of salty foods and this is the healthiest salty food going. You can buy little sachets from the Supermarket I think 12 will set you back around $3. Try cooking noodles/rice in it and serve with stir fried veggies or adding it to soups for a bit more flavour. Its quick, cheap and healthy.
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Cream cheese – I use it as a cheat cheese sauce for pastas, just add some to cooked pasta and stir it in. Max is quite partial to chopped veggies (carrot, capsicum and celery) and a good smear of cream cheese helps it all go down without any fuss. If I’ve made a soup and want to cool it down quickly I’ll add some cream cheese. Spreading a little on a wrap will help the sides to stick together without the contents decorating your floor.

Frozen Puff Pastry – Pastry is something that scares me a little bit but I’ve been embracing the frozen stuff more and more. I pull baked things out of the oven with a sense of pride and amazement at how damned good they look. We have filled pastries with spinach and ricotta, cheese, onion and potato, chicken and mushroom, chicken and leek, cheese and ham or a curried potato, pea and onion for the adventurous kids. You could also make sausage rolls, pies and cheese straws. Not the healthiest but sometimes you just want your child to eat some bloody food and pastry seems to help.
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Soy Sauce – Back on the salty theme, if I want to guarantee Max eats his veg I will splash a bit of soy sauce on it and stir fry it. Brocolli, carrots, peas, beans, zucchini and onion all get the soy treatment. I also use this trick with noodles, rice and tofu.

So at any given time if you were to poke your head in and around the Down Under larder you will generally find all of these ingredients, bustling and barging for cupboard space. These are the items that get me out of those sticky situations when I can’t quite face another trip to the supermarket. With these bits and pieces at hand I have a varied repertoire of meals at my disposal to keep the poor lad from going hungry and the poor Dad form tearing his hair out.

Whats always in your larder and what do you do with it?

Tampons on the Shopping List

5 Jun

Most days when Mrs Under sets off to make some metaphorical bacon she leaves behind a little list. It’s not a list of all the different ways she loves me, it’s a list of all the little chores that need doing by the Chore Fairy. I was perusing yesterday’s list;

Do something with your clothes that have been slung over the desk chair for the past 3 weeks

Clean the floors (don’t go around the high chair just move it)

Get something healthy for dinner, pizza is not healthy

Buy me a packet of tampons

I looked at the word again, hoping that I might have read it wrong and it actually says Pom Poms or Bon Bons or beer or anything but tampons. Nope I checked in the dictionary and that is definitely how you spell tampons. I would do anything for my wife but this is stretching even ‘anything’ to its outer most limits.

This is a husband test, she probably doesn’t even need them she just wants to see if I’m up to the job. I’ll bloody well show her. I stride nonchalantly into the supermarket bristling with confidence and determination. So confident am I that I even ask the man stacking packets of egg noodles “where is the tampon aisle please?”.

I navigate my way to aisle 17 and into the heart of Tampon World, I thought for a moment I was in the chocolate aisle so pretty are the little boxes. It’s not quite as straight forward as I was hoping, there are different sizes and quantities and prices and strengths, it’s a bit like buying coffee in that regard. I get some funny looks from my fellow shoppers but I imagine they are simply thinking “wow who is this guy that buys his wife’s tampons, that’s really sexy in a post modern kind of way”.
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I resist the strong temptation to buy the cheapest ones and call base camp. “You’re actually going to do it? I underestimated you Mr Ross.” I receive my instructions (I won’t share with you the particular brand of tampon my wife prefers, that would be odd) and make my way to the cashier, the young, hot, cashier. This is not fair I want an old, un-hot, man, wit hbad BO and a beer belly, where is he when you need him? I put the tampons down trying my hardest to hide them behind a packet of rice and some soy sauce. Unfortunately the purples and pinks of the box don’t camouflage all that well and I see the cashier clock them and then clock me.

Whatever you do do not look her in the eyes. I wonder what she’s thinking, I thought, is she thinking, that guy is very cool to be buying his wife tampons or is she thinking why the F is this guy buying tampons what a weirdo. She filled the first bag up with the food and asked me if I wanted a second bag? A special tampon bag? “Errr no, I think you can probably squeeze them in”.

She looked at me again, this time with a cheeky little grin, the sort of grin that suggested I might have unintentionally said something that she found amusing. And then it became a laugh and suddenly right before my eyes check out chick was laughing at a joke I accidentally made about tampons. So this is what tampon shopping victory tastes like! I got the right tampons, I did so without humiliating myself and I even managed to spread a little happiness in the process. I am literally counting down the days until I can go tampon shopping again, how many days is it again?

Would you ask your man to do this for you? Would he do this for you? If so what unintentional joke might he make to the cashier?

Single Parents I Salute You

4 Jun

Last night I watched on from the comfort of the sofa the ritual that is my wife getting ready for a night out. I have no idea what happens during the hour that passes but there is lots of noise, lots of indecision and lots of “how does this look?” ‘s. I still don’t really know the ‘right’ answer to that question, I’ve tried honesty and I can assure you that it’s not always the best policy and I’ve tried lying through my teeth and she sees straight through it.

I don’t relish the nights when me and Max are left to our own devices. He smells my fear and with 50% fewer parents to contend with he goes all out to break me. He kisses his Mum goodbye and looks for all the world like butter wouldn’t melt. But as soon as it’s just me and him he looks at me as if to say “you’re my bitch now”. Food, bath, PJ’s, books, milk, more books, teeth, more books, bed are all ticked off the list but the ticks are great big angry red ones that tear right through the page. Food is thrown, bathwater drunk, PJ’s are resisted, books are ripped, milk is dribbled, teeth clamp down on brush and bed is just somewhere to perform some toddler cabaret.
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As if that isn’t enough to have you reaching for a bottle of something strong you spend the next couple of hours, cooking, cleaning, tidying, washing up and putting out a large glass of water and a couple of Berocca’s for the party girl (this is reciprocated when I over indulge), to the backdrop of your child doing everything in their power (banging, bouncing, screaming, kicking) to resist arriving in the land of nod. At around 9:30pm all goes quiet and you allow yourself a whopping 30 mins of whatever constitutes relaxation before hitting the sack and mentally preparing yourself for a 2am wakeup call from a slightly slurry wife who can’t quite understand why you don’t share her enthusiasm for a blow by blow account of her evening.

I’ve recently made friends with a local single parent and she has become my hero. The strength this lady has to raise her beautiful child so well, to provide for them both, to run the house, to find some way of nourishing herself and doing it all with a smile on her face I find incredible and I am completely in awe of her and I tell her that regularly.
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Every single time I find myself about to complain about how hard parenting can be I stop myself. Every time Max wakes up in the middle of the night and Anna goes in to settle him I am thankful. Every time I need a quick timeout Anna steps in and I am thankful. Every time I question my ability to parent Anna is there to tell me otherwise and I am thankful. Basically every time I need someone Anna is there and I am truly thankful for that.

With this in mind I would like to pay tribute to all the single parents. I don’t often wear hats but if I did I would take mine off to you. I am sure there are times when you feel like everything is conspiring against you and I just wanted to tell you that you are all heroic in my book.
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From Mud to Mouth – Bok Choy Stir Fry with Ginger and Oyster Sauce

2 Jun

From Mud – With an impressive track record in killing plants, I seem an unlikely candidate to have a bountiful allotment. It never ceases to amaze me how much food that finds its way into Max’s eager mouth has been grown in my very own humble veggie patch with my not particularly green fingers.

To Mouth – Recipes will therefore feature a core ingredient grown by my own fair hands as the star of a delicious show. That ingredient will be transported from its muddy home to an obliging mouth in less than an hour and it doesn’t get much better than that.
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This week’s recipe features Bok Choy. About 5 weeks ago I purchased a tray of Bok Choy seedlings, I’ve never grown them before but I’ve heard they are particularly quick and easy to grow and anything that green has to be good for you too. Yesterday I went to have a look at how the plot was looking and I had a row of full sized Bok Choy ripe for the picking.

Given the amount of stir fries we get through in our house a surplus of Asian Greens is no bad thing. A few weeks back I went to a cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant and ordered a tofu stir fry with ginger and oyster sauce, it was sweet, sticky, salty and scrumptious. I went home and played around with some Chinese flavours and I think I’ve got to a point where it’s a passable impersonation. I doubt whether it’s particularly authentic but it’s quick, tasty and easy.
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As well as the Bok Choy I use whatever veg we have handy, I tend to favour green slightly bitter veg (capsicum, broccoli, beans) because I think the sauce has enough sweetness. Carrots and onions also get the nod, while ginger, mild chilli and garlic all provide flavour. A good stir fry requires a smoking hot wok (or large frying pan), a non-flavoured oil (sunflower, peanut, vegetable) and a bit of thought about what is going to cook first. Keep the vegetables crisp and don’t overcook them, keep moving them around in the pan and don’t add too much liquid up front or they will steam/boil.

I know tofu isn’t universally popular but I’ve found that firm or fried tofu is delicious as long as you add flavour to it. I can’t do the silken stuff, it’s a textural thing and makes feels like I have a mouth of snot. It’s cheap, healthy and it lasts forever in your fridge and as if that isn’t enough I’ve managed to convince Max that it’s pretty darned good too. If you really can’t bring yourself to have it in your life just leave it out, or add prawns, chicken or beef.
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Ingredients (serves two very hungry people)
1 Bok Choy
1 Broccoli Head
1 Green Capsicum
1 Brown Onion
1 Carrot
1 Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger (cut into thin slithers)
1 Garlic Clove (finely chopped)
½ Mild Red Chilli (depending on how you like your heat)
1 Packet of Firm or Fried Tofu
1 cup of Jasmine Rice
Splash of non-flavoured oil (sunflower, peanut, vegetable)
Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce, Sweet Chilli Sauce (1 tablespoon of each)
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Directions
Put one cup of Jasmine rice in a saucepan with 2 cups of salted boiling water and leave to simmer.

Chop your veg, try and cut the veg into sizes that will encourage them to cook at the same times. Cut the leaves from the stalk of the bok choy. Cut the ginger into thin slither and cube the tofu.

When all the liquid has been soaked up by the rice it should be ready, place a plate over the top and the rice will stay warm and steam to fluffy perfection.

Once your veg is prepped, place a wok (or large frying pan on a high heat), when it starts to smoke add your oil.

Add all of the veg and tofu apart from the Bok Choy leaves and start stirring. Keep moving the veg around and when you feel they are ¾’s cooked add the leaves (don’t overcook the veg, you want it to have some bite)

Add the garlic chilli and ginger and the three sauces. Keep cooking until the sauce thickens into a sticky caramel.

Serve up with the rice and icy cold beer.

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An Aussie Daddy blogger that's figured out the kids haven't read the books either

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