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Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – A French Christmas

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.sheep

Between March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and gfrozen-leavesrowers.

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

sunset-over-frozen-sceneOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive. For us, we always decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve – our German roots!

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

My French Christmas

joyeuz-noel1st December

When I was a child, it was time to buy an advent calendar an write my letter to the Santa Claus. Now it the time to think about the gifts to offer at my close family…

 

24 December

After 5 hours drive, we arrive a little tired at my paternal grandmother. But tomorrow, all the family will be here. So I gather my strengths for the essential thing : the decoration of the Christmas treedecorating-tree… baubles, garlands…

Lucky me to have an organized sister to share this moment with me! Don’t forget the garland of lights and the star at decorated-treethe top ! – or the tradition is broken.

Some gifts will be open tonight, but we will wait for our younger cousins joy to offer the best surprises. (But sshhh! all is Father Christmas !)

25 December

Latest preparations. Ready to eat all the day ! Oysters, snails, tartines of foie gras and of salmon… oystersA lot of dead animals scroll in front of me!  

I eat some toasts – I’m vegetarian but I’m greedy too ! I really like everything but I can’t eat snails – since I learned how long we need to wait before they die – and oysters – eaten with some lemon while they are always alive…

Anyway now we are ready ! It’s the veal roast – with potatoes and beans. Children be patient – the gifts come with the dessert.

So is it now ? I have finished my plate…cheese

No, keep your plate and test the amazing « roquefort » ! Sensitive noses, outside. My father is running, he hate cheese!

But not too far, because now… Yes, I’m just waiting for this. Now it’s time to the dessert : « La bûche de Noël » ! french-pudding

Unfortunately, my grandfather, a former baker, is not with us to cook it. But we can count on the neighbour and the dessert is excellent. We open the gifts ; everybody is smiling.

This was not a vegetarian day, but I’m happy because we had interesting discussions and I played a lot with my cousins. This was a joyful day!!

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Sophie from France, who took this wonderful photo across Rush Farm this summer… happy memories indeed x

 

Don’t drop a bacteria bomb in your child’s bathtub

New studies show that classic bath toys with holes can be harmful to your children’s health

With the arrival of summer, many of us have brought out the paddling pools, much to the delight of little tots and water babies! Remember, though, that bath ducks and other toys that thousands of young children play with in the bath or paddling pool can be veritable bacteria bombs. This has emerged in a new study conducted by Force technology.

6,500 times higher than the permitted limit value

Terese Hoffeldt is the founder of HEVEA, a company that makes products of natural rubber. As part of her ongoing commitment to product development, she recently asked Force technology to analyse bath toys with holes and the bacteria they contain. And the answer is clear: The bath toys are full of biological bacteria. Terese Hoffeldt is not surprised by the result:

“When my daughter was a baby, she loved sitting in the bath tub with her bath ducks. That was when I discovered you could squeeze some blackish muck out of them after use. Apart from the fact that it looked disgusting, I couldn’t help thinking that it had to be unhealthy,”  Terese Hoffeldt explains.

The bacteria forms in hollow bath animals with holes that therefore “store” bathwater, which contains soap, skin cells and other bathing residues.

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The test result shows that the viable count (unit of measurement for drinking water) is 950 times higher than the maximum permitted limit value for drinking water in Denmark, in the bath duck tested, and 6,500 times higher in the frog that was tested, which means they are very unhygienic.

That is why Terese designs bath toys herself – entirely free of holes. The filthy bath toys in her daughter’s bath tub were the starting point for HEVEA’s own bath assortment. HEVEA’s bath toys are designed without holes, so they do not collect any water, which means they do not collect bacteria.

“Although it was tempting to put holes in them, because we know children find it amusing to squirt water out of the bath toy, we didn’t want to create potential bacteria bombs. The new analysis underlines that this was the correct choice. Apart from the fact that bath animals without holes are much more hygienic and easy to wipe and clean, they are lighter, too, and they float better than bath animals with holes,” Terese explains.

Moreover, all HEVEA’s products are made from natural rubber from the hevea tree, so the material is entirely free from hazardous phthalates, BPA and toxins. They can withstand being chewed by children; in fact, all the products are designed with precisely that in mind.

Useful tips for clean bathing water

  • Be sure to buy good quality bath tubs and paddling pools. Cheap ones may contain a cocktail of toxins such as BPA, which is released particularly in wet and warm conditions, i.e. into your child’s bathwater.
  • Paddling pools for outdoor use are more susceptible to attracting bacteria from soil and animals, for example, and the sun heats the water, so it is important to change the water in the pool frequently.
  • Remember to clean it before refilling.
  • Choose bath toys without holes, and be sure to wash and dry them thoroughly after use.

Guest Blog – My Experience Breastfeeding

I am an Ulula mummy. As Ulula celebrates Breastfeeding Week, Ulula asked me whether my journey into breastfeeding my little one might be shared, and so here it is…

I have discovered as I have got older, that I am a do-er. When I am worrying about something, or when I meet something ‘new’, I do. Anything. Something. Sometimes it is a useful anything/something, sometimes it isn’t. My first port of call is always books, research, finding out what other people think, what other people do. Can I do that to…

I couldn’t get pregnant – the research began. I got pregnant – the research and reading stepped up another level. I gave up control of my body – weird. I lived through the birth. Can’t think about that yet. I was expected to feed, straight away, now, but hang on – where’s i-make-milk-whats-your-superpowerthe book?

So, the midwife latched little one on and I lay there out of it, not really caring what way was up, and apparently the first drink took place and everyone was very pleased with me. Yay.
24 hours long hours later, after much projectile vomiting and one stomach pump – they can really do that on one so small – we were successful again. Just.

But, nobody tells you how much it hurts. Or was it just me? And then the mastitis – what was that all about. And then how do you know it is working well enough – you can’t see how much is being drunk. And there is not a book on this planet that warns you, prepares you, gets you ready for the reality of breastfeeding your baby. Or is it just me?

Then your friends have no issues, the midwife says you are doing well… nothing said seems to help and nothing read makes a positive difference. I realised I was on my own. Gulp.

But although I seemingly had given up, I had written a note when I was furiously researching through my pregnancy, and left it where my poor befuddled baby brain could make sense of it. Holle!  I was a Holle baby. My furious internet searching had led me as an adult to the products, and so I found Ulula and the Nursing Tea. Holle had done the research for me and all I had to do was drink. Hello world, I was thinking that I might be ok after all.

I know it is weird in a way that the Holle Tea inspired so much faith and trust in me in that bleak moment – more than the ‘experts’ around me. Perhaps I felt like I was coming home, or that I had my mum alongside me. I don’t know and I haven’t the funds to explore through deeply delving into my psyche!

What I knew was I had found a crutch and that crutch worked for me. I drank the tea; I was producing enough milk – I could see I was now – my little one was happy and thriving, and although this whole step of my feeding meant I still had no control over my body – in fact, oddly, this felt even more challenging than when I was pregnant – we were managing. I was managing.

So, just as I had been on the threshold of total and absolute panic, and the poor hubby was looking very scared, I stopped worrying quite so much; I drank a lot of Holle Nursing Tea, and in doing so I found a friend who I could trust in to carry me through the scary moments and be there alongside a biscuit for the peaceful ones too.

It didn’t help with the feeding in public trauma, or help with the next hoops that I got thrown through as I learnt to be a mummy. What it did do was help me, a mum who wanted to try and breastfeed, get enough milk to be able to succeed in my wish. I am no earth mother. I do not feel I am a natural mother. I need the books to help me with each and every phase and stage. Holle Tea helped me as I learnt to breastfeed, and Holle continues to help me now with my growing little one… but that’s another story!

20 fascinating facts about breast milk, breastfeeding and babies

mum-and-babyMother’s breast milk is the perfect start for babies. It has all the nutrients in the right quantities and is packed full of disease-fighting antibodies. It is free, needs no preparation and is available wherever mum is and whenever baby needs a feed.

Babies will let you know when they are ready for a feed. Clues include sucking noises, hands moving towards the mouth or baby turning towards your breast. All babies are different. Some may feed for 10 – 20 minutes on each breast. However much or long they need, it is best, whenever possible, to feed when baby wants to.

Prop up your feet and support your arms and head with pillows. But the most important thing is to remain relaxed. Babies pick up on mother’s anxiety and stress.

Here are some interesting facts about breast milk, breastfeeding and babies that we found fascinating.

  • Your baby can smell you. Newborns have a strong sense of smell and know the unique scent of your breast milk. That is why your baby will turn his or her head to you when he or she is hungry.
  • Is baby feeding enough? As long as your baby appears content and satisfied after feeds, is healthy and alert when awake, is gaining weight after the first few weeks, is feeding regularly and has at least six wet nappies in every 24 hours, your little one is probably getting all the nutritious milk needed. Seek advice from your healthy visitor or doctor if you have any concerns.
  • Your baby can see you up close and personal. Babies are born extremely nearsighted, which means they can only see things about 8 to 15 inches away. That also happens to be the distance between your face and your baby’s face when breastfeeding. So when your baby locks eyes with you, it’s a true bonding moment.
  • The very best thing you can do for your milk supply is nurse your baby often. Breastmilk is very easily and quickly digested so a newborn will want to nurse at least 10-12 times in 24 hours. Usually this spaces out to about every couple of hours but it’s common for babies to nurse every hour or so in the evening.
  • Breastfeeding allows your body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth more quickly. The hormones released when you breastfeed make your uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Breastfeeding exposes your baby to many different tastes. Formula has one taste.breastfeeding-eat-local But through your breast milk, your baby eventually gets a slight taste of whatever you eat, although not directly. This will later make introducing solid foods easier.
  • Breastfeeding may help you to lose weight. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed can burn as many as 600 calories a day, which may help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
  • Your body starts getting ready to breastfeed during pregnancy. After you give birth, your body gets the final signal to make milk, which is usually more than one newborn can handle. Why? Your body doesn’t know whether you have one, two, three, four, or more babies to feed. Your supply then regulates to meet your baby’s (or babies’) needs.
  • Before your milk comes in, in the first few days after birth, your breasts make a thick, sticky, yellowish fluid sometimes referred to as “liquid gold.” Called colostrum, this liquid has the calcium, potassium, proteins, minerals, and antibodies your baby needs. Your baby needs only a few teaspoons to feel full and stay healthy until your milk flow increases, about two to five days after birth.
  • Your breast milk changes during a feeding session. When your baby first starts to nurse, your milk is thinner and thirst-quenching. Toward the end of the feeding session, your baby gets thicker, fat-rich milk, which gives your baby the calories needed to grow healthy and strong.
  • Breast milk heals. Breast milk is filled with special components that are designed to help fight infection and cut down on swelling in the breast. So, if your breasts are sore those first few days, gently massaging some of your milk into your nipples and breasts can soothe the soreness and speed up recovery.
  • Once a baby learns to latch on correctly it shouldn’t hurt to breastfeed. Always let your nipples dry before getting dressed again and a thin smear of white soft paraffin or purified lanolin can help with any cracks or bleeding. Also wearing cotton lined bras helps air to circulate. If soreness persists, seek advice from your midwife.
  • Babies drink until they feel full, not until the breast is emptied. On average, babies remove 67% of the milk mum has available.
  • Your body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby. Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old).  Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.
  • Your right breast produces more milk. Almost 75% of all mums produce more milk in their right breast, whether they are right or left handed.
  • Human milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies. Breastfeeding also calms you and helps you to bond with your baby.
  • Breastfeeding doesn’t cause your breasts to sag. Pregnancy hormones can stretch the ligaments that support your breasts, so wearing a well-fitting bra while you’re pregnant is a must.
  • Breastfed babies typically get sick less. Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, including ear infections, diarrhoea, and stomach problems.
  • Children who are breastfed have a lower rate of certain illnesses as they grow up. Babies who are not breastfed have a higher risk of asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity.
  • You can still breastfeed while sick. In fact, it’s good for your baby. When you get sick, your body starts fighting the illness by making antibodies, which then get passed on to your baby. By the time you show symptoms of illness, your baby has already been exposed to the virus or bacteria, which boosts your baby’s immune system. By continuing to breastfeed, you’re not just keeping your milk supply up, but you’re further protecting your baby from getting sick in the future.