Switching Off…

switch off one

 

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with their smartphone??  I love that I can be contacted in an emergency regarding my kids; love the fact I can fill boring waiting times by checking emails; love capturing magical spontaneous moments with my babies; they are brilliant networking tools; and it’s amazing that you can now be connected with friends and family far and wide.  Plus, I love a good Insta selfie.  However.  I also hate the control these little screens have over our lives and the message we are sending our kids; really hate it!  But probably not as much as I hate computer consoles, but that’s a whole different blog!

When I was growing up, if the house phone rang and we were busy or eating we just ignored it.  We didn’t rush up to see who it was, we didn’t have an answering machine or caller ID; and we didn’t have ‘1471’ in the early days (shit I feel old!).  So if you missed a call, tough titties & nobody really cared.  The phone was also wired to the wall and located in the busy kitchen so there was no privacy as such.  So phone calls were to the point and purposeful.   We hated being on the phone; we had shit to do and people to see – you know, in actual person!

screen_addicted_parents_ignoring_child_v_dunckley_md

As a parent, especially a single one I think it’s really important to spend real quality time with my babies, and actually be ‘present’ rather than distracted by my smartphone.  They are growing up in a fast-paced technological world (which is great!) BUT there is simply never ever any substitute for being present and giving your time and attention to both your loved ones and people in general for that matter.   Since Cancer, my time with my babies is even more valuable and precious than ever and I began to distance myself from technology as a direct result a few years ago.

For example, I deactivate my personal Facebook account a few times a year to take a break; there are certain apps that I turn the notifications off for; all group message conversations are permanently muted; certain emails are filtered straight into specific folders so I only notice they are there by physically checking occasionally; no phones allowed at the table; I rarely scroll through the Facebook newsfeed and I’m not one to ‘overshare’ my shit on there either (show some damn dignity people).  I am a HUGE fan of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function and use it a LOT!  I’ve also always turned off all notification and phone calls from about 8pm at night (unless I am out and need to check in about my babies).   And when camping with my babies I have always turned my phone off to enjoy the peace and experience fully.  I always thought that this was enough.  It wasn’t. 

A few days ago I was trying to reply to a really important email; the kids nagging me for yet another snack; the youngest getting angry; I couldn’t concentrate on the email; it was turning into bloody chaos.  In that moment I had forgotten my priorties.  The email actually wasn’t that fucking urgent, yet my kids craving my presence was.  So the phone got ditched and I gave the kids their 10th billion snack of the day as we all sat and chatted about travels and holidays we were planning for next year.  How it should be. 

That evening I decided to stop ALL notifications on my smartphone and placed contact restrictions on many people in my caller list who are known to drain both my time and energy needlessly.  And it’s been liberating.   I only know if I have an email or message if I make an effort to physically check, and no more of those annoying Facebook notifications for everything single little bloody thing!

Now, we aren’t all Topsy and Tim (God those obnoxious little brats irritate the hell out of me and well that mother is clearly using something to get her through the day!).  But I do feel it’s important to set a good example as kids mimic behaviours they see.  I want my kids to gain confidence with the outside world and real bloody people – not waste their life away watching YouTube videos of some anti-social gamer playing a video game and commentating as they go (what the actual F is all that about?!?!)

So, if you don’t get an immediate response from me (or no response at all)…..it’s either because I have my priorities set differently to you; or I’m busy doing the other zillion things single parents have to do!  I’d definitely suggest giving it a go – you would be surprised at how addicted you actually are to those pesky little screens!

switch off 2

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

The No-Crap VEGAN Chocolate Banana Loaf!

no-crap

 

AFTER POPULAR DEMAND TO VEGANISE MY LAST RECIPE…..So, bye bye eggs!

 

So I posted some pics on Instagram last week of a new protein, low sugar, gluten free/dairy free/soya free chocolate banana loaf recipe that I had been working on, and promised the type up my scribbled notes into a legible format for you all.

We aren’t really cake eaters in this house, and avoid as much processed junk as possible but sometimes you just need something dense and chocolatey that won’t spike your insulin levels leaving you crashing in energy and piling on the pounds!

By removing traditional flour from recipes and substituting with oats and almonds, you cut the carbohydrates right down (and everyone knows thats carbs turn to sugar in the body, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes if consumed in excess and not burnt off!).  Using oats and almonds also make sure we are getting a good whack of protein which aids muscle growth and repair, along with helping us to stay feeling fuller for longer.  And finally, they also help to slow down the effects of the natural sugars in the recipe by binding with them, giving a constant and slow source of energy without the spikes and crashes!

We never use sugar in the traditional sense in this house either; always preferring to use naturally occurring and unrefined alternatives such as fruit, or either brown rice or maple syrup.  We also use these natural sugars in a FAR less quantity than you would use traditional sugars in a recipe and we NEVER use any nasty artificial sweeteners as replacements (you know they were invented as a pesticide right??  And cause a whole load of health issues, especially with the joints and muscles!  Plus can cause obesity by both tricking the brain and encouraging over-eating!).  

But we aren’t boring and restricted….Mummy likes a good Gin on a night out and the babies enjoy chips and a slush puppy at the beach!   We live our life by a 80/20 rule – 80% a wholesome, natural, colourful, varied, and purposeful diet mixed with about 20% crap for fun 😉

Anyway……..

Back to the recipe rather than the science behind the ingredients I chose!  As the cake loaf is so naturally dense, you really only need two small slices to curb a sweet craving and leaving you feeling satisfied…..ENJOY!

Ingredients:

75g oats (certified gluten-free)
75g ground almonds
10g cacao powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 medium ripe bananas*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (MUST be organic to avoid arsenic!)
50g chopped dates
4 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil (plus a little to grease the loaf tin)
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (depending on preference)

*Not a fan of bananas??  Then use 360g of unsweetened cooled stewed apple, seasoned with nutmeg & cinnamon to taste.

Method:

  1. Grease a small silicone loaf tin & preheat a fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 3 (adjust accordingly for a non-fan assisted oven!).
  2. Put the oats, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, and cacao into a food processor and blitz with the bladed attachment until they form more of a chunky flour consistency (you may need to alternate between a pulse and a blitz depending on how powerful your machine is!).
  3. Add in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT from the dark chocolate drops, and blitz/pulse until a thick cake mixture is formed.
  4. Remove blade from the food processor bowl and stir in the dark chocolate drops.
  5. Tip the mixture into the greased silicone loaf tray and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through (you may want to check the loaf in the middle with a skewer after 15 minutes).
  6. Remember this recipe makes a dense loaf-style cake, not a sponge so it won’t really rise but will be very moist and substantial! 
  7. Once cooked, remove the silicone loaf tin from the oven and place on a raised cooling rack for around 10 minutes.
  8. Gently tip the loaf out of the silicone tin and onto the cooling rack for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve either hot or cold – we loved our warm with a little drizzle of oat cream over the top…..PERFECT! 

 

cake-big-bowl.jpg

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

The No-Crap Chocolate Banana Loaf!

no-crap

 

So I posted some pics on Instagram last week of a new protein, low sugar, gluten free/dairy free/soya free chocolate banana loaf recipe that I had been working on, and promised the type up my scribbled notes into a legible format for you all.

We aren’t really cake eaters in this house, and avoid as much processed junk as possible but sometimes you just need something dense and chocolatey that won’t spike your insulin levels leaving you crashing in energy and piling on the pounds!

By removing traditional flour from recipes and substituting with oats and almonds, you cut the carbohydrates right down (and everyone knows thats carbs turn to sugar in the body, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes if consumed in excess and not burnt off!).  Using oats and almonds also make sure we are getting a good whack of protein which aids muscle growth and repair, along with helping us to stay feeling fuller for longer.  And finally, they also help to slow down the effects of the natural sugars in the recipe by binding with them, giving a constant and slow source of energy without the spikes and crashes!

We never use sugar in the traditional sense in this house either; always preferring to use naturally occurring and unrefined alternatives such as fruit, or either brown rice or maple syrup.  We also use these natural sugars in a FAR less quantity than you would use traditional sugars in a recipe and we NEVER use any nasty artificial sweeteners as replacements (you know they were invented as a pesticide right??  And cause a whole load of health issues, especially with the joints and muscles!  Plus can cause obesity by both tricking the brain and encouraging over-eating!).  

But we aren’t boring and restricted….Mummy likes a good Gin on a night out and the babies enjoy chips and a slush puppy at the beach!   We live our life by a 80/20 rule – 80% a wholesome, natural, colourful, varied, and purposeful diet mixed with about 20% crap for fun 😉

Anyway……..

Back to the recipe rather than the science behind the ingredients I chose!  As the cake loaf is so naturally dense, you really only need two small slices to curb a sweet craving and leaving you feeling satisfied…..ENJOY!

Ingredients:

75g oats (certified gluten-free)
75g ground almonds
10g cacao powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs
2 medium ripe bananas*
4 tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (MUST be organic to avoid arsenic!)
50g chopped dates
4 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil (plus a little to grease the loaf tin)
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (depending on preference)

*Not a fan of bananas??  Then use 230g of unsweetened cooled stewed apple, seasoned with nutmeg & cinnamon to taste.

Method:

  1. Grease a small silicone loaf tin & preheat a fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 3 (adjust accordingly for a non-fan assisted oven!).
  2. Put the oats, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, and cacao into a food processor and blitz with the bladed attachment until they form more of a chunky flour consistency (you may need to alternate between a pulse and a blitz depending on how powerful your machine is!).
  3. Add in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT from the dark chocolate drops, and blitz/pulse until a thick cake mixture is formed.
  4. Remove blade from the food processor bowl and stir in the dark chocolate drops.
  5. Tip the mixture into the greased silicone loaf tray and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through (you may want to check the loaf in the middle with a skewer after 15 minutes).
  6. Remember this recipe makes a dense loaf-style cake, not a sponge so it won’t really rise but will be very moist and substantial! 
  7. Once cooked, remove the silicone loaf tin from the oven and place on a raised cooling rack for around 10 minutes.
  8. Gently tip the loaf out of the silicone tin and onto the cooling rack for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve either hot or cold – we loved our warm with a little drizzle of oat cream over the top…..PERFECT! 

 

cake-big-bowl.jpg

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Happy 7th Anniversary!

7th anniversary

So, no, this isn’t my wedding anniversary (ha!).  No.  This Summer I am celebrating 7 glorious years of single-parenthood 😀  I know, I can’t quite believe my babies are growing up so quickly!  Seems like only yesterday I was patting my growing tummy and suffering from horrific sickness ha!   My babies make me incredibly proud, even with the meltdowns and pre-teen eye-rolling!

Being a single parent has certainly changed over the years.  I remember choosing to do it alone the first time around 11 years ago; I was in my early 20’s, career-driven and after struggling with fertility issues never in my wildest dreams thought it would be possible to ever carry a child of my own.  I look back now and realise how people generally pitied me for being a lone parent, like I somehow was suddenly in a sub-standard class, struggling and unwanted.

unplanned.jpg

Second time around three years later things were slightly better, although perhaps I had toughened up and learnt to take less shit 😉  These days however, times have changed dramatically.

Single mothers are no longer pitied.  We are feared, and so we should be!  We deal with more before 6am than you will ever know.  We fight battle after battle for our babies, and we do it with absolute grace.  We take no shit, and walk away from drama queens (you know who you are).  No longer does society view us as weak beings, struggling to cope.  But now rather as strong, powerful females who to do it all (and more!)  

I’m not going to lie and say it’s always easy.  It’s not.  Especially with my own health issues and raising two wonderfully quirky babies both with varying additional needs.  But I can tell you this……..choosing to raise my babies full time single-handedly will win each and every time, hands down 😉

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

I Hate This Place…..

hate-dictionary

 

It’s been a while since I blogged ‘on location’.  Today my ‘office’ is the cramped, depressing Oncology waiting room.  I hate this place.  Not the wonderful staff; but how this awful clinic fills me with dread on each occasion, which gradually builds up for a few weeks before each check up.  I think most people who have fought cancer feel like they are a ticking time bomb, I know certainly that’s how a lot of my brave cervical cancer warrior friends feel.  I however, try to see it as living more for the moment, never committing to anything too far in the future. And that’s not me accepting some awful impending fate; it’s me learning to be more spontaneous and fulfilled in the moment instead (well as much as you can do as a single parent to two quirky babies!).

Looking around this airless room, it’s full of every aged and type of woman you can think of; cancer does not discriminate.  You can also tell which ladies are here for their check ups, and who are awaiting initial results….God I remember that day so vividly.  The day my world changed forever.  In lots of ways for the worse.  In other ways for the better.  I have a love hate relationship with my cancer journey – I wrote a very personal account on why this time last year which I would encourage you to read HERE.

Anyway, back to the stuffy waiting room…..I’m being subjected to an episode of Jeremy Kyle on the tele; “Did my fiancée have sex with another man on the bathroom floor?” Well according to the lie detector yes she did…..but of course she protests her innocent.  God, I’m bored and feel sick waiting here.  Whoever designed this place needs a hard slap. Sticking cancer females who are now largely infertile due to no real choice of their own, right within a maternity unit.  Yep, you read right.  Talk about adding insult to injury each and every time you come for a check up.  Clearly emotional well being still means very little to some hospitals; no matter how caring and wonderful your treating team are (and mine are amazing!).

So I’m home now, after over an hour’s wait, contemplating in that horrid room waiting to see my Oncologist.  Upshot is, I’ve made a fully informed decision to decline a drug and major surgery which was hoped would help ease some of my ongoing pain that was caused by my cancer treatment 3.5 years ago.  Even my Oncologist sighed a breath of relief that I had made such an empowering decision based upon weighing up the pros and cons of such a risky and big operation (even more so than my initial cancer surgery!), especially given my status as the sole-carer to my quirky babies.  I actually feel a calmness about ‘just’ living a life of a pain instead of having the treatment.

In other areas, I’m back in two months time to check on something new that has developed (FFS), another MRI, another referral to a different specialist.  This all comes at the exact same time as having heart scans, colonoscopies, and a different surgery next week.  But for now at least I can tick Oncology off for a few months before the panic sets in again…..

Is it gin time yet??? 

gin

 

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

The Dummies Guide to Enjoying Christmas When Your Cancer May Have Spread…

cervical cancer awareness

 

So, I’ve thought long and hard about writing this blog; partly because of keeping my ordeal very private over recent months; partly due to old memories being re-lived; partly because I want to protect my babies; and partly because I am awaiting further surgery.

BUT January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month, and I am very passionate about encouraging as many women to get their smears tests done as possible, and for society in general to appreciate the long term consequences the illness brings to YOUNG women – YES CERVICAL CANCER IS A YOUNG PERSON’S CANCER and completely destroys the life young women dreamed of ever having.

So here I go……

Around 3-4 months ago I began suffering extreme pain.  The type of pain I walked around with for a good 18 months a few years ago prior to my cervical cancer eventually being picked up via a routine smear test (this was after all my CLASSIC symptoms being dismissed by medics!) 

I tried to ignore the pain the best I could, despite being secretly panicked.  However it eventually began to become unbearable and I gave in and telephoned my cancer nurse who made me an emergency appointment with my Oncologist.

My Oncologist was wonderful as always and could see I was in pain and ordered me an urgent MRI scan.  This was then followed by an urgent laparoscopic surgery on 11th December (exactly three years to the date since my original cancer surgery, so you can imagine that this was an incredibly difficult day for me).

The surgery involved a general anesthetic, four abdominal incisions, probes and a camera to effectively ‘dig’ around my insides to check if my cancer had spread, and also see if there was anything else which could be causing the pain.

Before being discharged from hospital, my amazing Oncologist came to see me armed with some pretty gross but fascinating photographs of my insides!  He explained that although he couldn’t see any obvious reoccurring tumours, he had taken some samples for testing and that I would have a three week wait for the results of.  Shit.  That was any small bit left of my Christmas cheer thrown firmly out of the fecking window.

He also found quite a lot of significant adhesions from my previous surgery which could explain the pain – basically certain organs in my body have decided to fuse to places they shouldn’t have.  Great ‘ey?  Having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a rare genetic connective tissue disorder) had dramatically increased my chances of adhesions and I am deemed ‘high risk’ for any type of surgical procedure.  Gotta love ya faulty inherited DNA 😉

I won’t lie (gosh, I sound like Nessa!); the past month has been incredibly difficult.  I came home from hospital in pain, weak, dizzy, exhausted, panicked.  But being a single parent, I just had to continue as normally as much as possible; so back on the school run the next day, looking after my babies, seeing their wonderful Christmas concerts, housework, studying, fighting infections, CHRISTMAS!

The three week wait for my results was absolute agony; not just physically, but mentally too.  I couldn’t really tell many people what was going on for various reasons – the main being the Christmas period and not wanting to cause upset to others or be a burden.

Well, the 3rd January FINALLY came around and I was sick with nerves all day waiting for my afternoon appointment slot.  The wait in the horrid, stuffy depressing Oncology waiting room (right next to Maternity of all places; really people, talk about adding insult to injury?!?!?) was made slightly more bearable by my lovely chap holding my hand and getting me to play eye spy bless him.  But as always I chose to go into my appointment alone……

I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to be physically shown a paper report by my Oncologist with the words “NO MALIGNANT REOCCURRENCE FOUND” written on it!  I felt an instant peace come over me.  My cancer hadn’t spread!!!

My main worry over the past few months hadn’t been ‘just’ about the cancer possibly spreading, but more about how my kids would cope going through the same thing again.  A mum will always put her babies above anything else.  Always.

So, despite being given the ‘all clear’ (which is absolutely fantastic!) I still have a second bigger surgery to follow to try and unfuse my organs in the coming months, but after cancer everything else seems pretty insignificant in comparison.

I really don’t know how I would have gotten through the past month without a few amazing people taking such good care of me and my babies.  We love you xxx

And for every other female reading this GET YOUR SMEAR TEST because believe me the alternative doesn’t even bare thinking about.

smear

A Busy Mum’s Summer in Pictures

So, the Summer holidays can sometimes fill a busy mum with dread BUT in reality between all the sibling squabbles and billion demands for a snack, perfect memories are made!  You can read my rather humorous recap of ‘Day One’ of the holidays HERE!

This year we had one of our BEST summers ever thanks to my clever planning ahead!  Our weeks were filled with laughter, holidays, daytrips, friends, family, good food, smiling monkeys, saucy tortoises, detoxing (me, not the babies!), training for a mud run (also me!).  

Here is what this busy mummy and her wonderful babies got up to this summer!

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©