Raising Elves

As wild as nature. Myself, parenting and natural remedies blog.


Wowed by Alflorex

I have had IBS my whole life.

Sadly, my youngest little Elf struggles in that department too.

I’ve tried everything and nowadays the emphasis is more on management rather than cure.

My youngest started suffering a few weeks after we weaned her on to solids.

She is very sensitive to certain foods and when she avoids them the (severe) bloating is gone and, thankfully, no pain. Despite this her bowel movements would still be a bit off, or ‘not quite right’.

Until we tried Alflorex.

I didn’t expect huge changes. We’ve both taken different strains of bacteria before. I’ve never noticed much difference in my little one when taking other brands but I still dosed us both based on a recommendation by the doctor. As you can imagine, I had no expectations when taking Alflorex because I have never been ‘wowed’ before. I was more veering toward trusting that they were doing something good on the inside.

Within a few days of taking the pre-filled straws, my little one’s stools started to change. Without the need for vivid descriptions, they went from being ‘not quite right’ to…well, normal. I couldn’t believe that after just a few days taking Alflorex that for the first time in her life (she’s 2.5 years old now) she had a normal looking poo.

This became consistent, the norm, over the last few weeks. It was only until last week where she had been given something from her avoid list, and she had terrible pain and diarrhoea , that I realised just how good things had gotten for her. I can only describe is as having been ‘wowed’.

For myself, I would say I have noticed a significant difference in the bloating and tenderness I get. It gets worse for me at certain times of the month (hormones effect the IBS flare ups) and it really effects my ability to do core or strength types of exercise because my gut is so inflamed. I noticed a huge difference. I found myself without pain during my exercise classes at the stage of the month where I would usually be crippled.

I received eight weeks worth of Alflorex to try in exchange for a review and was so pleased with the results that I’ll be buying it from now on. Yes that’s right. It works so well that I am now a purchasing convert.

I’ve had such great results to share with you that I’ve been offered one of my readers a chance to WIN a three months supply. I just love it when brands are generous to readers too.

For your chance to win tell me which product you’d prefer- the straws or the capsules. You can comment on the Facebook link for this post on my Facebook page.

Mini Elf will randomly draw a name on the 1st of December and I will post a video of it on my Facebook page.


For more information go to http://www.alimentaryhealth.ie/products/Alflorex

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On starting school

It’s like all the colours on the page.



You can’t see the wood from the trees.

You know that somewhere in there lives joy and excitement.

As much as there is fear and grief floating -homeless- through the air.

A little bit of terror.

But it’s just all the colours on the page.


Not an ounce of coordination or cooperation.

Just splat.

All the feelings.


Stomach swollen. Throat swollen. Ribs sore.

Tears falling.

Wet paint.





Colour gone. Grey-brown murky splots of splat.

And that is the state of the page, now.

For now.

And then things will calm down.

And we’ll throw that page out and start again.

One colour at a time.




Unsupervision, and a reason to look at your phone while your children are playing.

We arrived at the empty skate park at 9.30am.

The two year old achieves a new ‘first’ by climbing up the mound herself, scaling the fence on the (relatively) steep hill and succeeds in reaching the top of the high ramp and sliding down it with her sister. They get straight into a game of save me while I fall off the ramp complemented with a monster chasing child off of ramp finale.

I don’t cheer her or give her a gold medal and I don’t sit there with my stomach in my throat. Risky play is normal for us these days. Risky play is a decision I made a while ago when I decided to stop being so anxious and worried. I am going to enable my girls to take risks, trust their instincts, their bodies, their boundaries while building their strength and agility.

They do it well and of course we have bruises here and there. I also accept that sometimes serious incidents happen but I don’t believe hovering over them will prevent that.

Sometimes I’ll hover. Like when my squinchy two year old is walking across slim bars that stretches her legs and arms to the max.

I make a conscious effort to butt out unless I otherwise think or feel so.

I discern.

I know what my children are capable of and I expect that most parents and caregivers do too. Although I do recognise that everyone’s gut instinct may not hold the same strength, therefore I understand that some may not easily access the part of themselves that allows them a deeper sense of discernment. So, I don’t judge hovering parents. Whatever their reason, it’s none of my business.

Baring in mind that I have an extremely strong gut instinct, today, when I was comfortable that my two and five year old were body confident in their risky game, I switched on my phone and thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a very interesting article on one of my favourite topics.

When I finished the third article (because one always leads to another) I said to myself, now, that’s enough and I switched my phone off and put it away. To my surprise I found a man hovering around about 10 feet away from the mound that my girls were playing on. I had noticed him arriving a while before and bringing his own children into the playground.

Despite the fact that he had three children of his own, he left them in the playground to go hover around my kids and give me a body language lecture on what seemed some kind of criticism.

We made eye contact. He seemed surprised that I didn’t hang my head in shame, so I speculate. He turned around and shook his head at me while he walked off.

I laughed inside at two things, the fact that he didn’t have the guts to look me in the eye while he was shaking his head at me and the hypocrisy of this caregiver leaving his own children to climb around a playground unsupervised just to come and pointlessly stare at my two climbing from ten feet away. I don’t know, maybe he can jump ten feet in 0.5 seconds so that if one of my children had fallen he could have saved them. You never know.

Or, he left his own children unsupervised to stare at my children on my behalf so that I could read my articles. How kind.

Or, he is so pleased with his own parenting that when he sees another parent not parenting the way he thinks they should parent he likes to leave his own children unsupervised just so he can go over and shake his head at said failure of a parent.

Did I mention that he left his own children unsupervised so that he could come and supervise my children for me?

So, if there is one single (ok, satirical) reason to look at your phone in a playground it is this:

You might give another person the chance to feel so smug and wonderful about themselves. Although the smugness is a false sense of security, do you know what? A false sense of security is a good start. Fake it till you make it, as they say, and I’m a giver, I can’t help it. I bestoweth upon thee smugness. They can stand there looking at you, or glaring at you to the point that they can no longer see their own children. If they can’t see their own children, for just one moment, you are giving their children the opportunity to play unsupervised. To explore. To take risks. See how much you are giving to the world? Future leaders. Children with self confidence, intuition, self reliance, agility, freedom.

And that is not the only smugness going around. Look at me now, writing this. Smug as fuck because I don’t have a stick up my ass and my hardy kids have knees full of bruises. I read my out of date articles while I trust them to be kids and have fun and connect with their bodies and boundaries. And of all the things I get wrong I get this one thing right (and I get a lot wrong), so do you know what? Thank you.

Thank you, hovering man with what I think is a weird set of priorities. At a period in my parenting timeline when I have heard myself say ‘I am a shit mother’ more times than I can count, you have given me this one moment where I am confident enough to be happy with the decision I made that one time I consciously took my phone out to read articles while my young but capable children engaged in risky play involving uneven ground that contributes to their development in the most incredible of ways far beyond what any flat surfaced playground can offer¹. Thank you, over concerned citizen, for giving me the opportunity to support myself in reading something that made my brain feel temporarily alive whilst reminding myself that the dates on these articles are from 2015 and January 2016 and that is how many months I am behind in world news because I don’t spend enough time reading articles because I am busy committing myself to “conscious parenting” and general survival.

Read your articles. Close your eyes for ten seconds and breath in. Daydream. Meditate. Chat. Chill out. Read the magazine or stare at your shoes. Its ok to give your kids a little but of well discerned unsupervision sometimes. Its also ok to give other parents some well deserved unsupervison too.

Trust your instincts. Trust their instincts. Discern what you can entrust in them. Trust their abilities, do not judge them on the size of their bodies, their gender or their age.

They can do this, if you let them.

¹Preschool children who play among trees and rocks and who move over uneven ground develop stronger skills  in motor coordination, balance and agility than those who play on conventional playgrounds. (Fjørtoft.I(2004) Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children,Youth and Environments, 14(2),21-44.



Every depression is valid

Sometimes it’s acute.

Sometimes it’s chronic.

Sometimes it’s severe.

Sometimes it’s mild.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes it’s depression and anxiety and paranoia and ocd

maybe mania alternating with severe lethargy,

or suicidal ideation

or suicidal

and millions of other symptoms that there are no words for,

that have to be labelled as a condition beyond depression.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes you can get out of bed, strap a smile on your face and nobody,

NOBODY, can guess what you are hiding.

Sometimes you just can’t hide it.

Or get out of bed.

Sometimes you’re nuts.

Sometimes you’re sane.

Sometimes you can’t control yourself.

Sometimes you can’t stop controlling yourself.

Sometimes you have it once.

Other times it doesn’t go away and is a chronic illness, you need to manage.

Depression is a wide, infinite, spectrum.

Every single experience is unique.

It’s genes, it’s receptors, it’s environment, it’s lifestyle, it’s trauma, or, it just is what it is.

No matter how severe, or mild it is,

whether you use prescriptions or exercise or counselling,

or everything.

Or nothing.

EVERY depression is valid.



My Random Musings


Wave Riding (when depression ends)

It’s no secret that life is tidal.

Up and down, back and forth.

Always moving, sometimes crashing.

Some of us handle it better than others.

Some are riding bigger waves.

But we’ve all had to learn to ride them.

Some are natural born wave-riders.

Others are swallowing buckets of salt water and barely reaching the surface for air.

Magnificents were born deep under the water but found their way out and won life over.

Then there were those of us who were born wave-riders but trauma set us back.


That is me. I was born upright, skimming those waves on fearless feet.

But I got hit.



By a car.

When I was ten.

I left my body.

I came back into it.


Fearful. With a hole inside of me.

When I recovered, I built myself a ship. So I could ride the waves of life, protected.

Although I was protected behind this hard steel shell. I was dry.

This ship floated from destination to destination,

I stayed dry while I watched others surf, and fall.

Then surf and thrive.

Inspired, I might have dived back in again.

Only to quickly swim back to ship because I’ve forgotten how.

Then after a while, you realise your life is stuck.

There you are, sitting on your empty ship, listening to the ominous creeks,

trying to remember,

when you used to be wet,

and alive.

So you work on a way to dive back in.

You tie a rope around your waist and dive in, only to pull yourself back up.

Unfinished business.

You keep trying. Waiting.

Waiting for the clouds to lift.

You experiment with chemistry to see if they’ll go away.

All kinds of tricks.

Everything. You try everything.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you find the formula.

Sometimes there is no formula but you have to find a way to just ride the storms.

Bring your crazy to the ocean because those clouds are going nowhere.


When the depression lifts and you feel like your real self again…

It’s magic.

I’m ready to cut that rope and dive in.

To clear, fresh moments and cloudy aspirations.

Coming up for simple, deep breaths, for no reason.

Not to relax or unwind or to become mindful.

Just me right there, breathing that air, with no need for a reason.

Or an explanation.

Or a purpose.

Just being.


Of course, I have to start from the beginning.

I have to relearn everything- joy, peace, survival.

There I am, in the deep with unborn souls, babies, kids and the plenty of adults who,

like me,


For whatever reason.

My arms are weak but they keep going. Once I get afloat I’ll find it.

My wave.

And I’ll f*cking own it.

You will see me soon, at the shore, and we will ride alongside one another.

And I’ll realise that there is room for me on this Earth.

I have a place.

Then we’ll meet on the beach, light a fire, laugh.

We’ll look at the stars,

and I will feel the universe in my belly,


And for the first time, in a long time,

I will want to be alive.


Radical Face: Welcome Home



10 things I learned while potty training a two year old

With the heatwave we got this Summer I decided to try potty training about a month after The Elf turned two.

You wouldn’t believe the nerves I had when I made the decision to do it.

It was probably the hardest thing I have ever anticipated since starting out on my mothering journey.

It was close to the feeling I had when I moved her into her own room at ten months.

That gut wrenching feeling as I questioned my decision again and again.

Anyway, she took to it fairly quickly so that confirmed to me that she was ready so it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.

There are so many potty training guides on the internet and in books and plenty more parents willing and ready to give advice.

So, I am not going to give you the ABC of potty training but I will give you a list of things I took note of while doing it:

1. Have lots of tissue and paper towels ready for cleaning up after an accident. LOTS. Also, have a gentle cleaner ready- I use Lilly’s Eco Clean toilet cleaner.

2. Get a second potty for travelling- a small one. I got an old fashioned potty mould for less than €4 in Boots.

Credit: Boots.com

Credit: Boots.com

3. Don’t get duped into buying one of those ridiculous potty-like thrones. Your kid will soon be using a big toilet so the above potty will actually do the trick. I foolishly bought this gigantic 3 in 1 contraption for €20 and although she uses it, she also uses her pink cheapo one and the big toilet just as much.

4.When they are resisting going instead of asking ‘Do you want to go potty?’ try asking them ‘Would you like to go on the green potty or the pink potty?’. This way you are giving them a sense of control and decisiveness. This one worked every time for me.

5. When they catch on to no. 4 change it up a bit with ‘Would you like to go on your potty or the big toilet?’

6. When you decide to potty train: Decide to be patient. Figure out a way to control your frustration in advance of starting.

7. Be prepared for set backs. They get fed up. You get fed up. By day three things could be going great but you might feel like you’ve taken three steps back on day four- that is normal.

8. There is no set time that marks the end of potty training. Their accidents just become less and less. I am into week seven now and The Elf had an accident the other day- she hadn’t had one in over two weeks and suddenly there she was looking down at herself and laughing as she pissed in the middle of Dunnes Stores.

9. A good thing you can say when they’ve had an accident is: ‘Oh look you’ve had an accident. Maybe next time you’ll use the potty.’ My sis-in-law gave me this advise and I found it was really helpful as it helped me communicate that it’s not the end of the world to have an accident but at the same time emphasise what it is I want her to do.

10. Things could be going great by week three but if they get sick or constipation you may have a huge setback. Just go with the flow when this happens- don’t put them back in nappies. Do re-stock on those paper towels, though.

Do you have any tips that you found helpful during potty training? Put them in comments so other readers can hear about them too. Just click on the ‘leave a comment’ link below and it will bring you through. Or you can leave your advise on the facebook link.

Stay tuned for my advise on dealing with toddler constipation naturally.


Updated 2015: Have you got a home fire escape plan?

One of my biggest fears since I’ve become a mother is what I would do in the event of a fire.

I often wake up with a fear that a fire would break out over night and I would lie in bed trying to figure out ways to get to my baby.

I have planned keeping a sledge hammer in the bedroom so I could knock down the wall between our rooms.

I still haven’t bought one.

It’s like you think about it but then hope, wish, pray- believe- that it wouldn’t happen to you.

But it does happen.

According to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government an average of forty people die in the Republic of Ireland each year from fire. Also, over one thousand people suffer from injuries caused by fire related burns and smoke inhalation.

 In order to keep your family and home safe from fire you are recommended to follow the three golden rules:

  • Prevention

  • Protection

  • Evacuation

Despite some prevention and protective measures are drilled into us from childhood, I don’t believe it is common for families to have prepared a fire escape plan so this post is dedicated to creating a home fire escape plan.

Also, it is very common for a child’s logic to bring them to hide during a fire- for example, in the wardrobe or under the bed.

Does your child know what to do if you can’t access them during a fire?

If you would like to take the time to refresh yourself on prevention and detection you can find information here:

A pre-arranged evacuation plan is essential, especially for families with young children. To prepare and have a fire evacuation trial is the only way to teach children what to do and stay relatively calm in the event of a fire.

Creating a home fire escape plan

  • Draw a floor plan of your home
  • When drawing doors show which direction the door opens out.
  • It is not recommended to lock windows.
  • Try to have at least two exits per room.
  • Make a plan for helping babies and toddlers.
  • Pre-choose a meeting place outside- show your children exactly where to go and tell them that they have to wait for you there.
  • Practice your evacuation twice a year.
  • Play a game of pretend with a young child to teach about staying calm
  • Teach your children essential things like crawling low on the ground, touching a door to feel how hot it is before opening it and not to leave the window open as it will draw the fire to them- only use the window to call for help and then close it afterward- unless it is suitable as an exit.
  • Invest in fire blankets and teach your children how to use them (use duds in practice and keep the real ones in a designated spot in their bedroom).

You can find a more detailed fire escape plan guide here

This is a really good 8 step guide including what to do if you are stuck in a 2nd storey room

I highly recommend the links above- I used them as a type of refresher course and they gave me a lot of information that I had never known before or had forgotten.


I feel a little more at ease knowing I have a plan in place but it is hard with a toddler or baby who could never understand the concept of practicing for a fire. Elf was three before I felt she was ready to go through the motions of fire evacuation.

I hope this has resonated with you rather than frightened you!

If you have any further tips to share please do leave a comment for me and other readers.