A day at the beach & a super easy giveaway

On Wednesday we spent the day at my new favourite beach. It’s close to Table Bay and I have no idea what it’s called, but the water is SO WARM. You can spend all day swimming like you’re in Durban or something. There are rock pools with loads of fish and crabs and other little sea creatures. I know this because every ten minutes the boys threw a newly found giant dead crab in my direction. Apparently that one never gets old. We got a new cool floaty toy from Superbalist a while back. A lot of you asked, so I wanted to let you know that you can still find it online here. PS invest in a hand pump or something. Seriously.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.53.04 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-18 at 5.55.08 AMThe boys had such a fun time. I packed loads of sandwiches, homemade burgers and snacks the night before, so we got to the beach nice and early. I have to find out the name of this place, because the water is so shallow, so the kids can swim all day and you don’t have to worry about their safety one little bit. The dogs went nuts and were chasing the fish for hours. With everyone fully entertained, I got a nice tan and some serious downtime. I am obsessed with the beach, it is my favourite place to be (this post was not sponsored by the ocean)

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After months of hunting, I finally got a new bikini! It’s also from Superbalist (they currently own all my money) and I’m so happy with it. It’s really hard for me to find a bikini top that fits properly, and this halter neck fit is so flattering and supportive. You can find it in their swimwear section.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.04.07 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.39.35 AMI also wanted to remind you guys that the #VenusOnTheGo, Venus Snap competition is still happening! They’re giving away a shopping spree prize worth R20,000 at Topshop to a very lucky girl! Enter like this:

  • Buy one of their Venus Snap razors
  • Snap a flat lay image including your Venus Snap
  • Upload it to Instagram using #VenusOnTheGo.

The winner will be announced in January so you still have loads of time to enter. I love the little pocket size razor. It’s so tiny and comes with a nifty little travel case too. Here’s an example of how to style your razor to enter the competition! I used some of my favourite beach things, but you can do a beauty, handbag or even a gym bag post too. There can only be one winner girls! Get those entries in x

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Turn your bedroom in to a summer oasis

I’m busy planning a new look for the main bedroom of our house. Something more classic, mature, classy and cozy. I got a set of Volpes bedding at the beginning of this year, and I was so nervous about it. I always go for white bedding, because it’s crisp and the colours don’t wash out. I got my first ever, emerald green colour set from Volpes (a sister company to Coricraft) and a year later it still looks brand new. When shopping for bedding, I feel like there are only 2 options: The cheap R150.00 duvet set that will last a few months and the R1099.00 duvet cover sets that you can’t even afford. There is no in-between. I got a complimentary bedding set from Volpes at the beginning of the year and now that I’m shopping again, I thought I should give them some much deserved love. Their sets start at R290 – R450 and the quality is really great. Most of the double bed sets are R390.00 and have really pretty designs.

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I’m doing to do a white, grey and duck egg scheme for the new look, with some faux fur and maybe an interesting throw in there too. The main theme will be white, though with pops of texture and colour. I’m looking for something that won’t date and that I can fall in to every day and feel like a 50s hollywood actress, you know? Something like this as a base

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Volpes has an online store and a few mall stores spread across SA. They’ve launched a new summer collection called ‘Under the Sun” just in time for the festive season and getting your home ready for the holidays. You can check it out here >  www.volpes.co.za and you can shop at the touch of a button. They have beautiful botanicals in pastels and gentle hues. There are also duck egg and charcoal options, as well as pretty florals for that fresh summer look.

 

 

 

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There’s a lot going on.

I hate to say that I’m busy, because really – everyone is busy. Being super busy is awful. Can we stop the glorification of busy? What I wouldn’t give to pack it all in and spend my days at the beach or in a pool instead. There is a lot going on now and every year I forget just how frantic this time of year is. Not just with work, but with the boys and their school activities. Noah enters grade ONE next year and his school is so fantastic. We’ve had orientations, class lists and school concerts. He’s had outings and prize givings and cake sales and play dates. There’s so much still to do over the next few weeks, but I love it. I love being a mom and getting everything ready for this HUGE milestone in his life. I am going to cry my mommy heart out when I see him in his first school uniform because I know just how proud and grown up he’s going to look.

Ben’s school nativity play was last night and today is HIS grade R orientation. Next year they’ll be in the same school again, which I’m ecstatic about. It was pretty hard on them to be separated this year.  It was his birthday party last week and he’s changed so much. He’s growing up too fast now and becoming a proper little awkward boy. It’s the BEST. Noah has exceeded all our expectations this year and I’m so flippen proud of both of them. I’m trying not to share too much of the boys’ lives online as they’re getting to that age where they want a bit more privacy and consideration, you know? I mean they’re in BIG school now, “mom.”

I’m dealing with a lot of business and bookkeeping admin right now which I have very little patience for. There’s two weeks of admin, work and planning to get through. I love this time of year and I’m so excited to put the tree up and start the Christmas shopping and meal planning. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I have this huge mental list of things to be grateful for, and I’m going to make a point of writing them all down next week. This is an awful season for families who might be under financial strain or have lost loved ones this year, so count your blessings every single day – no matter how tired we all are, or how tough things may seem right now. Just a little bit longer!

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Carb free options at Col’Cacchio this Summer

I haven’t done a food post in such a long time, so I thought I’d share this with you guys. I’ve been doing a lot of eating at Col’Cacchio lately. We ate at the Cavendish branch the week before last and last week we went back to take aways. I’m trying to cut back on my sugar and refined carb intake because those food items make me feel pretty gross. Although I’m not a banter, I am always keen to try a carb substitute and kill some calories. Their new summer menu is simple, fresh, healthy and colourful. They’ve added banting ‘pasta’ dishes, and the vegetarian option I had was hands down the best meal I’ve had this year. I am not kidding. It was the Zucchetti pesto, made with zucchetti (julienned zucchini) basil pesto, Italian parmesan and toasted pumpkin seeds. I ate a huge portion and still finished off a caprese salad on my own (oink oink)

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Their new banting ‘pasta’ dishes use zucchetti as a replacement to pasta. Pastas include the Piccante made with zucchetti, pomodoro, chorizo, peppadew piquante peppers, mascarpone, chilli flakes and the Verde Rosso, a combination of zucchetti with chicken parmigiana. They still have their original menu if you’re keen on carbs, but have only added a handful of healthy, carb and sugar free options which they call their ‘banting’ section but should just call the ‘carb free’ option. Check out the Orientale dish below.

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I also tried the vegetarian banting pizza, which comes with a medium side salad and delicious dressing. You can eat a whole cheesy pizza covered in veg and not feel like a fatty-fat face afterwards. A cauliflower pizza base does not taste like a flour based one, but it’s kind of like white bread vs wholewheat bread – tastes good, but not exactly the same. My kids didn’t know the difference and ate the whole thing. I tricked them (and myself) right in to those vegetables.

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They also have banting desserts which I understand as (refined) sugar free? I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try one, but the cheesecake (with macadamia cacoa base) looked so good. If anyone wants to take me to lunch this summer, it will be here. As a side note, they are kid friendly. The kids get crayons to draw on the table cover, and some dough and cookie cutters to ‘bake’ with.

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Price wise, I didn’t write down numbers but when I took the boys: We all had mains, I had a coffee and the kids had a milkshake each. Our bill was R250 so it’s really good. Check out their new menu here > www.colcacchio.co.za for more details.

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My top beach prep & packing tips for families

We’re planning our December holiday and I’m sure that you are too. Over the years I’ve become quite the bag-packing expert. I wanted to share some of my essential (and also favourite) items that need to be in your family beach bag this festive season, as well as some beach safety and convenience tips.

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1. Freeze bottled water the night before your day on the beach. This way, you can use the frozen bottles instead of ice to keep your other refreshments and snacks cool.

2. My favourite beach foods to pack that keep well in a cooler bag (and are easy to eat) are grapes, berries, naartjies, sandwich rolls, drinking yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts.

3. Always take wet wipes for sticky fingers (and bathroom emergencies) and a plastic packet for rubbish in case there isn’t a bin around when you leave.

4. Baby powder works a charm to soak up moisture and easily removes sticky sand off of legs and feet before getting in the car! The beach sand in some parts of KZN is the worst, but baby powder will remove every last grain of sticky black sand. Try it!

5. For safety at crowded beaches, I like to draw a big circle around our spot and tell the boys to stay in the circle unless given permission, eg to fill a beach bucket with water. It’s good to have a general ‘reminder’ chat with your kids in the car about petting dogs they don’t know, blue bottles and water safety on the way.

6. Remember to have some money on you to treat the kids to an ice cream. Sometimes you really just want a lolly to make you jolly on the beach. I mean, it’s the holidays, after all. Take cash!

7. Let the kids pack their own bag of beach toys, and don’t think conventional. Items like tupperware, plastic spoons, ice trays or plastic cups will entertain them for hours.

8. Apply sunblock to yourself and your kids before you leave the house or hotel. This saves you from spending your first 20 minutes on the beach struggling with wiggling kids and rubbing suncream on your husband’s back. Use a 50spf with kids – it just lasts longer.

Other than that, you’ll definitely need your essentials like towels, cozzies, spare clothes, music, goggles, a book, floaty toys, a camera and some sun hats. Moms might want to pack a nifty travel razor like the Venus Snap, as well as your tweezers for some last minute and on the go grooming emergencies. Here are some fun pictures that Graeme took of Noah and I at the beach this weekend.

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Keen to WIN a really cool prize? Venus is giving away a shopping spree worth R20,000 at Topshop to a very lucky girl! All you have to do to stand a chance to win is:

  • Buy one of their Venus Snap razors
  • Snap a flat lay image including your Venus Snap
  • Upload it to Instagram using #VenusOnTheGo. I made you a little example below. How easy?

I’ve got some more holiday vibes and ideas to talk about and share with you, but please go enter this competition in the meantime and tag me in your pictures. I want to see what’s in your beach bag this Summer!

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Anniversary chickens and our little family farm.

Last weekend was Graeme and I’s 6 year wedding anniversary. We weren’t really going to celebrate because we have a lot going on work and home wise at the moment. On the morning, he surprised me with a pretty necklace and we decided to take a drive out to the winelands. My mom watched the boys and G and I just took to the road with no plans which was pretty nice. We stopped at Warwick, Lanzerac (I think?) and Maison for wine and tapas with lots of giggles in between. We bought a few bottles of wine at each vineyard to start our own little collection at home. Graeme works with some of the people at Maison, and they gifted us a fancy bottle of MCC which I’ve hidden at the very top of the pantry. I still have some wine from Paris, so we’ve got a pretty fancy collection going at the moment. So fancy, that we’ll probably never drink any of it. That’s the point, right?

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I have been nagging Graeme for chickens for MONTHS. I’ve phoned around, trawled the classifieds and asked so many people where I can get a few hens. Eventually we saw some along the trip and I can’t really disclose how or where we got these chickens for YOUR OWN PROTECTION, but we left the winelands with these adorable little chicks that we’ve named “Itchy and Scratchy”

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They are the sweetest, tiniest little creatures. They make the cutest chirping noises and fall asleep on you every chance they get. Graeme has started building a nice big coop and enclosure for them, but right now they’re in the big bunny hutch with Buttons the bunny. They’ve got their own little box in there and Buttons is quite chuffed to have some friends. I’ve separated him from Pumpkin and the babies ’til they’re strong enough to all be together again. We’re also giving Buttons the snip, so him and Pumpkin need some time apart for a bit. The boys are loving the chicks! The big hutch / coop will give all the little animals some access to grass and the garden with a nice big door so the kids can climb in and out to hang out with their pets. Our vegetable garden is coming along so nicely, and one day we’ll get some eggs from these chickens too. Just building a farm here people because food is expensive!

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Noah has been put in charge of watering the veggie garden and right now we’re growing beetroot, sweet potato, cucumber, mieles, tomatoes, chillies, pumpkins, butternut, watermelon, sweet melon, patty pans, lettuce, mint, celery, sage, origanum, coriander and parsley. I have to keep planting as we go so that we have a continuous harvest once it all comes to life. It’s so important for the boys to be in touch with animals, growing food and being close to the earth like this. I can’t wait to watch these chickens grow. They’re so tame and sweet and naughty! The dogs are so confused about all of this, and Jack spends his days guarding and staring at the chicks while Daisy tries really hard to eat them every chance she gets. The garden is looking so nice at home because all the butterflies are out and there are so many trees and nests at the back. The starlings, pigeons and these tiny little green birds bath in the fish pond every afternoon. Our house must be some kind of depot for all the birds in the area because there are really just so many.

The animals and garden has added quite a bit of work for me, because I spend every afternoon watering, fussing, planting and fertilising all of it. I’m helping Pumpkin with the babies and trying to keep her cage as clean as possible while making sure that the chicks are warm and that rodents in the area don’t try get to them. It’s really nice though because I spend more time outside with the kids and less time with screens.

PS Does anyone know if you’re allowed to keep geese in the suburbs? And also chickens.

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Win a 20k shopping spree with #VenusOnTheGo

Gillette Venus has launched their new razor, the Venus Snap. It’s aimed at women-on-the-go, nestled in a cute little case that makes it safe to store in beach bags, your gym kit or handbag. In all honesty, there have been moments at the beach or at gym when I’ve needed a razor. I mean, who wants to do pilates or yoga donning a 3 day underarm shadow? I have! As a brunette, all my hair is on display. No tiny little white hairs for me! I have to shave everything, every day. I could write sonnets about my personal struggle with unwanted hair.

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I’ve added the razor to my car’s emergency vanity kit along with my wet wipes, tissues, sunblock, cover stick and lipstick. As a (mostly) (okay fine always) frazzled mom, I don’t rely on myself to be organised at all times, let alone groomed. Most moms reading this are like “lol what even is grooming.”

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The Venus Snap razor is the coolest grooming accessory for your summer holidays, handy for those “just quickly shaving my legs at this basin” moments. I’m excited about packing for our beach holidays and trips this summer, and I’ll be sharing some tips on packing for families really soon. Here’s a snippet below. Can you even see the little baby razor?

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To celebrate the launch, Gillette #VenusOnTheGo is launching a competition where Venus fans can win a shopping spree worth R20 000 at Topshop. Too cool. To enter:

  1. Buy the NEW Venus Snap Razor** (R74.99 including VAT)
  2. Snap a picture of the contents of your personal bag including your NEW Venus Snap Razor
  3. Upload it to your Instagram using #VenusOnTheGo between now and 15 January 2016
  4. Visit GilletteSA on Facebook for terms & conditions

**View pack for competition details

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Why kids and parents love PediaSure Complete

I’ve spoken about this a lot over the years, but our little Noah is a self-proclaimed vegetarian and has been since he was three. It happened when we had the general food education chat with the boys. It’s so important that they know where their food comes from, how it is sourced and what the nutritional benefits and downfalls are. I regularly talk to them about ’empty’ foods such as macaroni and cheese that might taste really good, but it doesn’t have a lot of vitamins to make them big and strong. Literally all that little boys want to be is ‘big and strong’ and I love that after a good home cooked meal, they run to me and show me their muscles.

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When I explained the origin of meat to the boys – they each processed the information differently. Noah became increasingly aware of food processing. At school, they were learning about carnivores and something just started to make sense for him. He decided that he wanted to be a herbivore and not ever eat animals. I thought that it would be a phase, but FOUR years later, he has remained firm in his convictions, beside the odd food item. He could eat a 2kg steak if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t. Supporting him is key, both emotionally and physically.

On the flip side, Benjamin is a meat, rice and potatoes kinda kid. He’s (sort of) (okay not really) good with vegetables but after school, the ONLY thing he wants to eat is bread with melted cheese and tomato sauce. Noah is good with his grains, cereals, yoghurts and fruit but right now he’s losing his milk teeth and all his front teeth are wobbly, so he doesn’t want to eat anything hard. He hasn’t eaten apples for weeks and for some reason he despises bananas and genuinely hates citrus. So right now I have a boy who needs a supplement for fruit, protein and iron and another boy who needs a supplement for everything other than tomato sauce. While I make them nutritionally balanced lunches most afternoons, some of it gets left untouched or little excuses come up like them being ‘too full’ or not liking lettuce and today, this sandwich which contained absolutely no pepper at all, apparently had too much pepper on it.

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When the PediaSure team asked me to share my story on how I’m raising boys with dietary needs, it was a no-brainer because this is real life and something that I’ve been wrestling with for years. I want them to have the freedom to experiment with food, new tastes, cravings, phases and favourites. While we’re enforcing, encouraging and creating healthy eating habits, I need their nutrition bases covered to buy me some time and alleviate some stress. You cannot force a child to eat something that they have decided they do not like. Sometimes I can convince them, like: “Broccoli are mini trees, oh my gosh how cool that you’re eating a baby tree?!” and other nights I am just like “Who wants cereal for supper?” Graeme is a grown man and I can’t get him to eat brussel sprouts, marrows or patty pans. You should totally come ’round our place at supper time because some nights it’s just plain funny.

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I’ve given the boys this PediaSure milkshake as a supplement when they’ve been sick and don’t want to eat. When I say “milkshake” just remember that this is a powder that you mix with water – so it’s safe for lactose or gluten intolerant children. I love the vanilla one and obviously so do the boys. It’s creamy, sweet and filling and honestly tastes like ice cream. Inside each ‘milkshake’ you’ll be feeding your kid 16 vitamins and minerals, including Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Omega 3. Each serving is 225ml and contains 225 calories which is about 940 kilojoules. That’s about the same as 3 pots of kiddies yoghurt, so don’t worry about solely this product causing weight gain. It does serve as a meal replacement and the boys prefer having it at breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. Sometimes I put a few sprinkles of cinnamon on top because then it tastes like actual milk tart.

PediaSure Complete is a balanced nutritional supplement (scientifically-proven) and is ideal for the picky or fussy eater or even kids that need additional support in their diets like children with allergies – or little vegetarians like mine.

They have this whole website with myths and facts about fussy or picky eaters and how to manage their nutritional needs. If you’re worried about your kid missing out on essential nutrients for growth, then you can check out their Facebook Page which has a few tips > www.facebook.com/PediaSureSA and you can do some research on their website to see where your children might be falling short >  www.pickyeating.co.za

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This post is sponsored by PediaSure®Complete. The comments on this page do not constitute medical advice.

Your healthcare professional is best placed to evaluate your child’s growth and development. Should you have any concerns or questions, please seek advice from your healthcare professional? For product-related questions, contact the Abbott Nutrition Support Line on 0861 22 68 87.

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A little piece of our home, the rabbit haus

The nice team at Builders came over to our home to see what Graeme has been making and what sort of things we’ve been up to around the house. I am VERY lucky that G is so handy and especially lucky when he gets bored (literally always) and starts chopping and drilling and cutting and sanding things together. I also really like that our boys get involved and are slowly learning a trade. Noah helps with drilling and tends to our vegetable garden. He sometimes holds planks that Graeme is sanding or cutting and gets super excited when dad is out and about in the shed. Over the past few weeks, G made us a very gorgeous vegetable garden and I got to plant watermelon, sweet melon, tomatoes, cucumbers, patty pans, mielies, chillies, pumpkins, sweet potato, beetroot and a whole lot of herbs. We put a fence around all of it this weekend, so I’m REALLY excited about having a corner of garden that our dogs can’t get to.

G has also made a sweet garden swing for the boys and yesterday we made hanging bulbs for outside using succulents and I’m super excited to share that with you. We’ll be sharing the Swing & Succulent Bulb tutorials over on Builders Warehouse’s twitter feed ( @buildersfan ) this Friday and trust me, you’re gonna want these for your garden and outdoor entertainment areas. If you have a little balcony and want to add some greenery that you can’t kill – this one’s gonna be for you.

Probably my favourite thing that Graeme has created is our dining room table, which I absolutely love. Our side tables in the lounge: G sourced / stole discarded tree stumps from a park and sanded them down. I also really love the hanging plants he made for our office, which look so great beneath the skylight. Noah, I really hope that you’re still passionate about woodwork and gardening when you’re older my boy. Ben is more in to daydreaming and animals and play pretend right now, so it’s going to be super interesting to see how their personalities evolve and how they build their own nests one day. Here are some pictures!

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If you like anything you see, and to those who have asked before: We got our rabbit shaped cushions from Menagerie. Our kitchen stools are Coricraft. The “Let’s Run Away” talking banner was from Typo. Our lounge ‘feature wall’ items like the weaved baskets, vintage mirrors and the bokkie head are all from @home. Our bunny pattern cushion (above) was from Design Kist. The Nguni hide was gifted to us by my friend Keri. Our black and white carpet is from Weylandts and was super affordable. A lot of our accessories are from there, like our baskets that we put plants in to and the spanish carafe on our floating shelves and the mechanic lights above our dining room table. Our couches were custom made about a million years ago and we’ll need new ones pretty soon. I am sort of waiting for the children to stop messing cereal and tomato sauce on them, so I’ll hold back on that. The grey bird cushion is from Skinny la Minx and a lot of bits and bobs like the colourful vases oh and our dining room chairs are from Mr Price Home. We got the floating shelves from Builders Warehouse, and the perfect shade of grey paint on our walls is called “Cement” but I don’t remember which brand it was!

One day I’ll share some pictures of the rest of the house and the garden but I’m super lazy so thank you to the Builders team for stopping by and sharing your pictures with me! Here’s the man behind most of (all) the making, my Mister Graeme Bettles >

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Pumpkin bunny had bunnies.

Yesterday, 21 October I was watering some plants (you know the ones that the dogs haven’t eaten yet) and noticed the bunnies being a bit noisy like running up and down the cage a lot. When I looked, I saw a few mouse-like bald things crawling around the cage. They sorta looked like small versions of that monster in Pan’s Labyrinth. I won’t post an image because this is a family blog and I have a responsibility to not harm you, emotionally. Actually, maybe stop reading right here.

The thing with mama rabbits is that when they’re stressed out with their kits, they sort of eat them. The male (Buttons) was in the cage and this really freaked her out and her only solution was to physically decapitate her young. With her teeth. Motherhood is tough, so no judgies but I had to act super fast to save the remaining 6. Buttons was confused and a little bit frightened because A) his children were crawling around the cage and fatherhood is sometimes a bit of a shock to men and B) his wife was murdering their children.

Here’s an extract from a site on why a rabbit would do this > “If she is in the process of kindling or if she has a young litter, and then gets frightened for her life, it is well documented that she might eat her babies, destroying any evidence that would attract predators or reduce her chance of survival.”

I made a little nest box for her with ripped up blankets and some hay and moved her to a separate cage just to CALM HER THE F DOWN. Gave her some newspaper to shred, some water and food and covered the new family with a blanket in a quiet room. Amongst all of this I also took a really quick photo of the babies so I could remember them in case she ate them.

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So right now I’m on mama and baby rabbit watch. This morning all the kits are still alive and squirming and she is feeding them (mostly against her will). I trick her by putting apples and spinach in the nest box and then the babies roll around under her and get what they can very quickly. One of the babies rolled around her face and she started licking it but I thought she was chewing it, so there is still panic. We had a really long talk about motherhood and responsibilities so maybe that helped.

We cleaned out her cage today and she made a little nest for herself and drank about (I’m estimating) 17 litres of water. She’s cleaning up all her own droppings and excretions and sometimes I catch her looking over in to the nest and rubbing her chin on the outside so maybe motherhood is growing on her. We’re keeping the dogs outside and trying to keep her calm and she looks pretty happy now, so holding thumbs!

PS Does anyone want a bunny? No really we have six and they’re hella cute. I’m posting a photo a day of them to track their growth if you wanna check it out on Instagram – @therabbithaus.

 

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