BELLA MAMMA TEES

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Hello Friends! Today is a special day : we have been working day and night, used every single nap time and every possible minute our little ones gave us free and we are finally ready to share some awesome Bella Mamma news with you!!

Here's something created by Mothers for Mothers, to make you smile, to make you feel comfortable, to make you feel confident, to make you feel proud, to make you feel the awesome Mother you are!


And on top of that, you will help other Mothers and their babies too! With every purchase part of the profit will be donated! This month we'll support supporting Warwick Hospital's Neo Natal Unit! Find out more here !

Perfectly hand finished cotton garments, ethically made & excellent service which includes free returns and exchanges (stc).
Get to https://bellamamma.teemill.co.uk now for more info and embrace the fun motherhood mood with us! And help other Mothers too!


From Mothers to Mothers 
Thank you! 

Our Weekend Post - Happy Father's Day!


WOW! What a scorcher of a weekend and it's set to be a week of sunshine for the next week at least! It was a special weekend around these parts, as we celebrated Father's Day.

A little back story to the men of Bella Mamma, because without them we would never have met and they've been so supportive in our blog (and agreeing to be photographed relentlessly!) 

Freddie & Federico are from Tuscany, Italy and met during their childhood years at school. After school Freddie went to University in Ireland and Federico pursued his studies at Birmingham University. After a few years Freddie moved to the UK to continue his career in Engineering and Federico was doing his Ph.D in Birmingham. Somehow they managed to find themselves living within one hour from each other again! 

Forward on a few years later myself and Julia arrived on the scene and that's how we got to know each other! Since having our boys we definitely see each other a lot more and it's really nice to see Luca and Diego develop a friendship just like their Dads. 

Unfortunately, we didn't spend the weekend together but we were definitely on the same wavelength with our plans! It was sunshine and BBQ's galore! 

Here's what we got up to . . .

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JENN 

We're still in DIY/Renovation mode so this weekend was a mix of enjoying the sun and trying to do some work in the blistering heat! 



It wasn't an easy feat but we (I mean Freddie) managed to get quite a bit done! 

We invested in a paddling pool and a new sand for Luca's water & sand table and it pretty much sorted us out for the weekend! Luca spent most of the time just happily running around in his nappy and wasn't too pleased having to wear clothes when we did venture out! 


On the eve of Father's Day we set up the garden for a romantic date night and we were pretty please with how the garden is starting to look! 


Again on Sunday, it was family hang out day with ice-creams and more 'fires' as Luca likes to call them! Freddie definitely enjoyed Father's Day and all his surprises (which Luca told him about! haha) 

But in sense of seriousness, I do want to thank Freddie for being a terrific dad to Luca! He adores spending time with you either pretend driving in your car or cheeky coffee dates for babycinos. He knows your the FUN parent and absolutely loves you for it. 

Thank you for everything you do. I couldn't have picked a better dad for Luca. We love you!



_________________________________________________

JULIA


Thanks to the amazing real summery weather with 28 degrees and no clouds, we spent the whole weekend outdoor and it was just awesome! 

We spent time with some very good friends that we haven't seen since they moved back to Italy last year, they came to visit and Diego loved being around and playing with Eli who is his very first friend! It was amazing to look at them interacting and kind of talking with each others! 


Wearing shorts and t shirts, playing with the water outside, feeling the sun burning on our skins - yep, I had to use super high sun protection for Diego otherwise he would have become red like a pepper, no doubt! -  eating in the garden, having all the clothes dried in just few hours in the sun, seeing our friends.. this list makes up the perfect recipe with all the ingredients for a happy and relaxed weekend and yes, we really had a great time!

And to end the week end in style and prove once again that he he is a fantastic Husband and Father, Fede made his delicious homemade pizza that we enjoyed in the garden!  



The Happiness Diaries #4

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Welcome back to our Happiness Diaries!

We want to thank you for reading this post and we truly hope that you will do this little exercise too! Trust us: our lives are nowhere near perfect!! We do have worries and struggles, we do have bad days and sad feelings, we are human beings and Mothers so we are not meant to be at our 100% best 24/7 ...at all !! However we don't want to forget that no matter how many thick clouds are in the sky the sun is always there, it doesn't stop burning! And if it rains we want to see the rainbow that sure is going to come!! That's why we keep noticing and writing what makes us happy instead of moaning about what could go wrong or could go better, and this shift in our focus really makes a difference in our days!! We are sure you can do the same!!

Here's what has made Julia happy lately

Taking the dust off our tandem and participate to Le's Ride Birmingham, an awesome event for all cyclists! Two of the main road of the city were closed and there were lots of participants of all ages!! So much fun!! We even got new bibs personalised with our names on!!





Spending an afternoon in the sun and enjoying the activities organised for kids at the University of Birmingham


My basil plant thriving and so alive and smelling good ! I am normally terrible with plants but I am managing to take good care of this one this time!!



Having a girls night out with a delicious French dinner sitting outside in the sun and then watching a musical that I absolutely loved!!! And yes, having Fede that is such a caring husband and father and gives me space for myself and always supports me.






Recipe of the Week 3 Minute Yummy & Healthy Crepes

Thursday, 8 June 2017

We know it sounds impossible to have something delicious, healthy and that takes 3 minute to make, but hey we are here to surprise you today!!

It takes no time to measure the ingredients because you actually don't really measure them, you just need to fill up a mug! And it's healthy because the ingredients are super simple - instead of buying a ready mixture where you don't really know what's inside, you make an healthy version in about the same time!


So what are we waiting for? Enjoy this one!!

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Ingredients:
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Mug of Flour
  • 1 Mug of Milk
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sugar


How to make:
  • Put everything in a blender until all ingredients are mixed - only takes few seconds!
  • Put some mixture in a non stick pan to cover the bottom and leave until margins change colour slightly, turn and leave for another minute

Enjoy with fruit like banana, blueberries, strawberries, and why not put some Nutella on it - otherwise it would just be too healthy!!!



This is the perfect treat for a Sunday breakfast for all the family! 
Let us know if you love it too!




A Breastfeeding Story

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

One of the many things you decide about in pregnancy is how you’re going to feed your baby. From the moment you get the thumbs up from the midwife that you’re pregnant, you are given dozens of information leaflets and packs on the benefits of breastfeeding – for both mother and baby. Nowadays, formula feeding isn’t really spoken about apart from the 20 seconds they give it in antenatal classes.
You don’t have to be a genius to agree that ‘breast is best’,
but here’s the thing. . .
What if you can’t?



What if all your hopes of being a breastfeeding mother are dashed because you can’t produce enough, your nipples are inverted, or your baby is tongue tied?
When I found out I was pregnant I set my heart on being a breastfeeding mother. I wanted nothing more than to have the bond with my baby and to give him the very best nutrition that I could offer.
I had an amazing pregnancy and my hypno birth went so well, the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed never crossed my mind. I hadn’t bought any bottles, a steriliser or researched formula. It just wasn’t on the agenda.
The moment Luca was born he was placed on my chest for skin to skin and we tried feeding almost immediately. Everything seemed fine at first. The on-call midwife stayed a while once I made my way back to the ward; she showed me positions to feed in, how to encourage him to feed and what a good latch looked like. I was pretty proud of myself!
It wasn’t until we went home the following day that I began to suspect that there was a problem. The pain started and Luca began to cluster feed for up to 7 hours. Everything that I read told me that this was normal so I stayed with it. Lashing on Lasinoh Nipple Cream in between feeds, trying to sleep and eat well and stay hydrated.
It was when we went to register Luca’s birth and I was reading a baby magazine that I noticed an article on tongue tie and turning to Freddie said ‘I think Luca’s tongue looks like this’.
I mentioned it at my next Midwife appointment and she confirmed Luca had a tongue tie but is wasn’t a ‘bad one’.
We were nearly 2 weeks into our breastfeeding journey and it was feeling more painful and exhausting than I ever thought possible.
I had 4 episodes of painful mastitis and I remember sobbing with pain in the shower. This just wasn’t how my journey was meant to be.
I just didn’t seem to be able to satisfy Luca’s feeding demands. I tried pumping and got very little. . . so the question crossed my mind, was my baby starving? I felt utterly awful. Aside for the physical demands, I found the emotional side so much harder.
I was so sore, exhausted, run down and beginning to feel like a failure. I reached out to the Midwife and Health Visitor again. Neither seemed to think Luca’s tongue had anything to do with it since he latched so perfectly; so maybe it was me, maybe I wasn’t producing enough milk. But I felt that giving him formula was the worst thing I could possibly do.
Another few days in and the cluster feeding had eased and things seemed a little better, if not a little less painful. Maybe we were making progress?
But then one evening as I lay Luca into his crib I slumped to the floor, a cold sweat covering my body and I started shivering uncontrollably.
My mum found me and screamed for Freddie. Bundling me into the car he drove me to A&E . . .  but what about Luca?! What if he needed feeding?!
My mum tucked him into his pram and walked to the local supermarket and bought premade formula reassuring me that she would look after Luca and for one night she would feed him until we figured out what was going on with my body.
Back at A&E a lovely doctor gave me a full health check and confirmed I had a rather nasty infection in my milk duct which had caused the sweats and shaking. The milk was building up and not able to be released. I was given an antibiotic and a breast pump.
Sitting in the ward it was the most vulnerable, loneliest and saddest time since I started my mothering journey.
Back home 24hrs later feeling a little better but still frail, I tried feeding again. I don’t use the word ‘broken’ lightly, but the moment he latched I just fell apart. Pain scored through me and I had to ask my mum to take him. I sobbed.
Afterwards, my mum took me aside and being the best mother she could be said ‘it’s ok Jenn, it’s your choice, your body, your baby’. I realised that if I didn’t decide soon I would jeopardise my health and the bond with my baby. I was constantly watching the clock and I would flinch when I heard his hunger cries. This wasn’t what I wanted for either of us.
The first few times I prepared his bottles I cried – tears of failure, tears of anger at myself, and tears for my baby.
However, seeing him drink hungrily, almost guzzling the bottle, I realised how hungry he was. After a day or two I noticed a huge difference in him; he was so much more alert, eyes wandering and exploring the room, engaged when we cooed over him. He seemed happy.
When the Health Visitor came again, I just put my wall up. I didn’t want to discuss it. I didn’t want to feel any worse about the decision than I already felt. I didn’t need anyone else’s guilt.
Over the coming months, we continued our bottle-feeding journey. Luca grew and thrived.
Every mile stone he reached I would secretly breathe a sigh of relief.
But the tongue tie was still there, and the line down the middle of his tongue was becoming more noticeable. Myself and Freddie decided that we would have him seen privately to access the situation. Our research told us that if ‘bad’ tongue ties were not resolved they could lead to complications in speech and after 9 months the procedure would have to be performed under general anaesthetic.
We found the wonderful midwife at Core Clinic in Warwick and booked the appointment. On her evaluation, she examined Luca and turning to be said;
‘I can absolutely guarantee that you’re not breast-feeding now’
Taken back I nodded, the wall went up again and I felt myself get into defence mode.
“Sure, how could you? There’s no way breast-feeding was possible with a tongue tie this tight’.
Shock and relief washed over me. I explained our breast-feeding journey and at the end she just hugged me and I cried (again). Having someone understand and who listened to me made such a difference. That appointment was almost therapy for me. She performed the cut beautifully, Luca hardly noticed and after 20minutes we were ready to go.
Looking back, I wish I had listened to my intuition about the tongue tie sooner and had Luca accessed properly. But as any new mum might relate to, when you’re so run down and fragile, sleep-deprived and vulnerable you just don’t think clearly.
I believe hindsight is a beautiful thing. I fully intend to revisit my breast-feeding journey on our next baby. There is so much they don’t tell you, especially as a new mum, and there’s so many assumptions that you’re meant to just ‘know’. I strongly believe that if we are to improve our breast-feeding statistics then there needs to be a more hands approach and that requires funding and support for midwives and health visitors.
No two babies are alike and every feeding journey is different.
I also feel strongly about the reintroduction of the tongue-tie check to be part of the new baby health check before they leave hospital. This small check could save mothers just like me a world of pain and heartache, and would encourage breast-feeding beyond the 2-week mark. There is a petition to have this check reintroduced and needs 100,000 signatures to be discussed in the UK Parliament. If you feel strongly about this I would urge you to sign here
Breast or Bottle is a very personal choice; one which should never be judged. Every mother I’ve met has always had their baby’s best interests at heart when it has come to feeding. Ultimately I think we can all agree that the best form of feeding . . . is feeding full stop!

Tell us about your experience! Do you have any questions? Ask away in the comments below!

Recipe of the Week - The Emergency Lasagna

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Emergency Lasagna

This week we're sharing a yummy lasagna recipe that's sure to delight adults and mini adults.

I whipped up this delicious dish the weekend that Luca arrived home from hospital, and thought if it's simple and easy to do while tending to a sick baby, then it's a great dish to have on stand by for any emergencies. Packed with flavour and nutritious ingredients this is always a winner!

This recipe serves 4 – 6



Ingredients 

For the ragù: 

  • Minced Beef 5% Fat
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes x 2
  • Medium onion x1
  • Garlic Cloves x 2
  • Beef OXO Cube x 1
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Handful of mixed herbs or Italian Herbs
     Other ingredients
  • Lasagna Sheets 12 – 14 (1 box)
  • Mozzarella Balls x 2
  • Grated Mozella 125g

For the white sauce:
  • Large jar of white sauce x 1

Ok, for this part I’ll admit I do cheat and buy white sauce from the supermarket! I’ve never managed to make a sauce that I like and I figure since all the rest is nice and healthy, a jar of white sauce isn’t going to kill anyone!

However, if you are feeling adventurous, you can try this Jamie Oliver White Sauce recipe.

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How to Make

Let’s start with the ragù (meaty sauce)
  • Gently fry off the onion & garlic in a little olive oil. Tip: add a small amount of water to stop the onion & garlic burning
  • When the onion & garlic have softened, add the mince to the pan and cook thoroughly i.e. no pink bits!
  • Crumble the OXO cube and add to the mince, onion & garlic. This is my secret ingredient for my ragu sauces!
  • Add the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes to the mix along with your salt and pepper and herbs
  • Stir together and leave to simmer for about 40 mins. Cover the pan to avoid splashes!


For the lasagne
  • Tip: pre-soak the lasagna sheets in some hot water to soften them. This will help them cook better and faster!
  • Slice the mozzarella balls into medium thick slices
  • Layer an oven proof dish starting with a layer of lasagna sheets on the bottom, then add a layer of ragù with some of the mozzarella slices dotted around, followed by another layer of lasagna sheets. Repeat this until all the sauce, mozzarella and sheets have been used
  • Add the white sauce to the top layer of your lasagna
  • Sprinkle the grated morezella on top and garnish with some more herbs

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    Cooking

  • Pop the lasagna in the oven on 220 degrees for about 15-20 minutes (until the cheese starts to lightly brown)
  • Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5-7 mins

Serving 
  • Cut into generous slices
  • Prepare a crisp fresh bistro salad
  • Serve & Enjoy!
  • This recipe is suitable for freezing leftovers for a rainy day 


Buon Appetito! 

Our Family Week Ends #5

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

May is one of our favourite months and you know why? 

Because the days get longer, the weather gets warmer (yes, even if it means 18 degrees instead of 8 - remember we live in the UK?!), the summer is closer, but most of all, because there are TWO Bank Holidays!!

The first Bank Holiday we went to Portugal -  you can read about that trip here! - and the second time we went to ... Barcelona!! 

We have been to Barcelona 3 times before and we love it every single time so when a great couple of friends invited us to their wedding there, well, we were just super happy to say YES!!



Here's what happened ...

We arrived in our super cool apartment not far from the Sagrada Familia and with a mini super market right next to us whose owner was so nice that Diego got free ice cream! 

OK, I must admit: I'm a no-sugar kind of mum so he never eats ice cream (can't even think about the idea of him being sugar loaded which means more active than he already is!) but hey, holiday is holiday!!

As we did our turistic tours in our previous visits to the city, we decided to spend the day in Barceloneta relaxing in the sun, such a wise choice!






There are so many places to eat in Barceloneta that it's really tricky to choose one, but we liked Suquet De L'Almirall as it looked less turistic and more authentic, and we were quite happy with the result! 


The staff were great and the food was really delicious! A bit pricey yes, but all of the restaurants there are, so no surprises! Diego loved the squid ink rice, after this we can really say he eats E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G !!


My parents arrived in the afternoon and we walked around, and had dinner in a very particular place called La Paradeta where you choose the fish from the stall and tell them how you want it cooked and they cook it for you straight there! 

There are no waiters, they just call your table number and you get the food from the kitchen and there you are ready to enjoy some super fresh food just cooked for you the way you like! We liked the whole experience and we loved the food, however I the staff calling table numbers very loudly every ten seconds was a bit annoying!



Next day was the Wedding day! 

I love weddings in general as I am a very emphatic person and I feel and share the intense emotions of love, joy of all the family and friends celebrating such a unique day! Yep, I needed a tissue when the bride arrived and met the groom, and also when they exchanged the rings!

It was amazing being with some of our best friends who live in Birmingham, in such a romantic venue and celebrating such a lovely and special moment of an incredibly beautiful couple!

I must say that thanks to my parents taking care of Diego, Fede and I could really relax and, of course, drink a decent amount of wine!!!!!! 

Grandparents are the BEST!



On the last day in Barcelona I decided to buy myself a gift and wow, it felt fantastic! 

You mums know how almost impossible is to find time & motivation & get rid of the guilt when you think you should save money or spend it on your children etc. so much that I honestly do not remember the last time I went shopping - so the Desigual store was just there, a few steps away & Diego was napping so I told myself: WHY NOT?!!! 

This is the result:


We arrived back on Monday and today is time to go back to reality again, guess how the weather was in Birmingham when we landed? Rainy, of course! 

But who cares, we have the sun in our hearts and will treasure those fantastic memories forever!

Here just a few considerations for you if you are thinking to visit Barcelona with your little one(s):
  • It is super pram friendly: there are lifts everywhere!
  • If you want to visit Park Güell it is important to book in advance to avoid disappointment as it gets sold out quite quickly!
  • If you want to know more about the apartment we stayed in and the restaurants we went to just drop a comment or write an email, I am super happy to help!
  • Barcelona is the heart of Catalunya which means you would never get to try a better crema catalana anythere else! Make sure you have some, it's just awesome! 

*Note: Diego's finger went in before I could take a proper pic, and for the avoidance of doubt yes, he loved the crema catalana and he ran for half an hour non stop after having it!!!

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What were you up to this bank holiday week end? Have you been or are you thinking about visiting Barcelona? 

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Jenn's review and visit of Peppa World, it's not to be missed!! 

Can't wait to hear from you! 

Lots of Love,
Julia

A Survival Guide for Warm Weather

Friday, 26 May 2017

Temperatures are to remain high over the weekend and if last night is anything to go by, sleeping can be an issue. 


I remember the summer that Luca was born, and there was a 5 week heatwave . . . it was HELL! We lived in an apartment at the time and it had large sash windows which basically made it feel like a glasshouse. And if we slept with the windows open, the birds would start chirping from 3 or 4am!

We had a similar situation last night and I got 4 hours sleep. I don't even want to admit how much coffee that I've had today! 

With this in mind, I thought I would put together a quick survival guide for babies and toddlers when the weather gets warm, and how you as Mamma bear can keep your cool too. 

I've pulled some tips from travel experience too, and from suggestions made by Luca's Nonna (Grandmother in Italian) 

So here’s the Bella Mamma Guide to surviving warm weather with babies and toddlers.

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Ideal temperatures:

A room temperature of between 16-20ºC (60.8-68ºF) is recommended - 18ºC (65ºF) is just right. Use a room thermometer to check the temperature, and see the latest SIDS safety guide below for the right amount of bedding to use -

  • 18°C: A sheet and two blankets
  • 20-22°C: A sheet and one blanket
  • 23°C-plus: A sheet only

How to cool the room down:
Number 1 rule - keep curtains and blinds closed during the day. English and Irish people have a tendency to fling open the curtains as soon as the sun shines! But it's the worst thing you can do. 
Our Mediterranean relatives keep curtains and blinds closed during the day. You can leave the window open, just try to limit the amount of sunlight that comes in. This avoids a greenhouse effect, where the heat builds up and up inside, and which is why the house feels particularly warm at night time. 
A lot of night sweats can be avoided if your house is kept cool throughout the day. 
Cool the room down before bedtime with a fan if possible & remove unnecessary bedding. You want the room to be a comfortable temperature so they can fall asleep easily. 

Hang wet towels over chairs or windows when it's really stifling. The evaporating water will help the air to cool and open windows and doors in several rooms to create a breeze through the house.
Fans & Air Conditioning:
As mentioned above, the trick is to cool the room down before bedtime. Don't leave it till the very end of the evening or you might have a later bedtime on your hands!
Just a few guidelines for using fans around babies and toddlers (I honestly didn't know this stuff when Luca was born!)
Don’t allow the fan to face the baby, and absolutely keep it out of reach of babies, and especially toddlers who might be in their own beds with no guard rail. Fans are highly attractive to little fingers! 
Make sure you turn the fan off before you go to bed. The room should have cooled down enough and while it might feel humid, it won't be too uncomfortable to sleep in. 
Avoid air conditioning as much as possible, as it can be dehydrating.
Bedding & Clothing:
This was my biggest worry! What if he's too hot or cold?! Luca was only 8 weeks when the heatwave hit and I hadn't a clue how to dress him. However, hopefully the temperature guide lines above should help you decide what clothing and bedding is appropriate but also , don't forget to listen to your gut instinct.
In hot weather a cool water bath helps cool them down nicely and gets rid of any sticky sun cream. They'll feel instantly cooler and fresher! 
Last night Luca slept in just his nappy and he was pretty happy! I put a light sheet over him and he slept well (until 4am when teething pain hit!) But overall he was a lot more comfortable. 
When he was a baby I struggled to know if he needed a sleep suit, vest and/or a grobag. For young babies you can try a vest and a sleep bag with a 0.5 tog. If they wake and they feel warm you can either remove the vest or replace the grobag with a light sheet. You'll know what your baby needs. 
If your baby does wake up and is hot to the touch, wipe them down with a damp towel – on the face, neck, arms and legs – and open internal doors and windows, so a natural, flowing breeze is created.
Another good tip is if you have waterproof sheets or mattress protectors, it’s worth removing them during periods of warm weather as they can make babies and toddlers sweat more.
Important point -

Babies and toddlers can seem a lit more lethargic in warmer weather, and some sleep more deeply. But if you feel that their behaviour is off and they haven't eaten or drank much check in with your GP or ring 111. 

I hope these pointers help a little and you all manage to get some sleep this weekend. If you do have any questions, pop them in the comments below and I'll get back to you asap!

Jenn x
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