Death, life and blogging 

My cousin died last weekend (see news story here) but I’m not after your sympathy, I can pass that on to his wife and 3 young children, his mum and his siblings, his nephews and nieces. And his hundreds of close friends.

Continue reading “Death, life and blogging “

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EU referendum: Why I won’t vote to leave the EU

With just over a week to go til the EU referendum I’m so worried about some of the stuff spouted by the ‘leave’ campaign that I feel compelled to write about it….

#mbloggersremain
#mbloggersremain

I’m voting ‘remain’ but I’m not particularly pro-remain just so anti-the-leave campaign for the reasons below that are used by them and their supporters….

‘I’m worried about immigration. I’m voting leave so that we can control our borders, build an Australian-style points system etc etc’

I’m generally pro-immigration. I see a NHS that wouldn’t survive without immigration because we don’t train enough doctors and nurses. I work for a company that has a French CEO, in a marketing department where at least 10% are ‘immigrants’ (3x Irish, 1xGreek, 1xCypriot, 1xGerman).. All were the best people for those roles. I live in a city (Cardiff) that was at its most prosperous when immigrants (many Somalians) were working on our docks… The biggest docks in the world at the time!

Still, I get it that some people worry about losing our Britishness or whatever…

But here’s what I’m really confused about. Most of our immigrants come from outside of the EU whether they be Pakistani doctors, Australian bar staff or South American footballers… And we already have control over that… It’s nothing to do with the EU!?? So that points system, we have the power to do that already!

Most of the EU immigrants (just 5% of our population by the way) work here and pay into our economy since the recent change that they can’t claim benefits without working here first. 

Which then leaves illegal immigrants and refugees. Personally I think every country should be obliged to take in refugees who are fleeing war (especially when we are the ones bombing them!) but the UK takes a very small number so I don’t think this is a game-changer for deciding on what to vote. 


Illegal immigrants and controlling our borders… Personally I think we’d do better at this staying in the EU sharing resources and police intelligence, unless we were to invest heavily in this area.

So what is it about immigrants that you want to escape… Is it their ‘drain on NHS and schools‘? This brings me to my next point…

‘We can invest the money saved into the NHS (education, arts, defence, security etc)’

The Vote leave campaign have been told numerous times not to use the ‘we would save £350m a week’ message as its untrue and numerous studies show that the money that comes in more than makes up for the money going out.

So how much do we spend on the EU? Just 2% of our overall budget! So if you’re worried about the other 98%…. The NHS, education, pensions, benefits, defence etc then vote based on that in the general election! 

The NHS is not on its’ arse because it’s over-run by immigrants, it’s on its’ arse because Britain voted for the Tories and their cost-cutting plan instead of the more left-wing parties who invest in public services. 

Net migration is about 300k a year… Do you really think that a 0.4% increase in population (70 million) can stretch public services to breaking point?! 

One of the things that has wound me up most about the ‘vote leave’ campaign is that they have NO PLAN!!! Who will run the country with David Cameron having to step down as he promised he would…. Boris Johnson? Ian Duncan Smith? George Osborne? I’m sure they would have different ideas on how to spend the ‘money saved’ but nowhere have I seen what those different scenarios would look like!

Or are you hoping Nigel Farage would be in charge? Well he’s not even an MP so it’s impossible! So despite being an MEP who’s encouraging us all to leave, he will have NO POWER to make any decisions on what happens if we do leave!!

So, so far we have a leave campaign that:

  • Has no proper plan of what happens after
  • Promises the earth on what money could be invested in… Despite the lack of plan and relatively small amount of money that won’t stretch very far
  • Promises things that can already be done in the UK and aren’t EU responsibility (immigration from outside the EU)

There are 2 other claims I hear that also piss me off….

‘We’ll no longer be controlled by a group of unelected people’

Ummm we vote for MEP’s that represent our needs in the European Union. (Nigel Farage is one of them!) They vote for the leader/commissioner…. Ok the European Comission above the EU seems to be a bit like our House of Lords but let’s sort our own mess out before worrying about the EC?? 

The EU is all democratic in the same way our British MPs represent everyone from rural mid Wales to affluent parts of the South East and deprived inner cities. 

So from now on just take an interest in the European elections and vote!

And don’t forget that we already have control over some of they key things that matter… The taxes we pay, pensions and benefits, the NHS and education system…

‘Let’s make Britain Great again’

Britain was at its ‘greatest’ when it invaded half the world. I don’t think we’re planning to do that again (she hopes!) 

We were also ‘great’ when we were manufacturing everything… But now we live in a globalised world where it’s cheaper for us to get our steel imported from China than to make it ourselves, we import lamb from New Zealand cheaper than we pay our British farmers for it. 

So how are we going to be ‘Great’ again? Stop importing everything? Re-open all the coal mines? Sounds unrealistic to me, we’re always going to need to import and in doing so I’d rather have the negotiation power of 28 nations behind me rather than one little island!

I’m left decided that I’m voting ‘remain’ next week…

  • The vote leave campaign is non-sensical, poorly thought out and has given me no assurance that we will be better off outside the EU… There is no plan!! 
  • I’m not a gambler… our economy is doing well, we live in peace… I don’t want to rock the boat 
  • I think there are many ways we’d be worse off outside the EU eg what if the 2 million British pensioners living in Spain have to move back? They will put a bigger strain on our NHS than any threat of immigration growth.
  • Coming from mid Wales originally, my home county (Ceredigion) and the South Wales valleys are classed as some of the poorest parts of Europe and have benefitted hugely from EU funding and projects. Again, in the absence of any plan, I haven’t seen any assurances that Wales would get any additional money from the UK govt to make up for the £20Billion shortfall that’s already been allocated to Wales from the EU by 2020.
  • I feel like I’ve benefited from improved workers rights (hours worked, holiday rights etc) and maternity rights that were all improved under the EU. With the right-wing Tories/UKIP in charge I fear that these rights would be eroded over time

What do you think? What will you be voting? I would genuinely love to hear from you 🙂

Further reading:

Independent article about a recent poll, stats and myths: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-british-public-wrong-about-nearly-everything-survey-shows-a7074311.htm

Impartial website full of facts: https://fullfact.org

Other parenting blogs about it:

http://www.beingtillysmummy.co.uk/2016/06/why-i-am-voting-to-stay-in-eu.html?m=1

http://www.fraunaish.co.uk/eu-referendum-eu-citizen/

http://thefamilytreasures.com/2016/04/15/how-the-brexit-would-affect-our-family/

http://www.anniebobs.com/eu-referendum-remain-leave/

Linked up with #KCACOLS

A complaint about John Lewis – knowingly mis-selling 

Since John Lewis opened their shop in Cardiff a few years ago, I’ve been in love with them… loved the ambience of shopping there, loved their little baby feeding area, loved their brand and Christmas TV ads… And I even did my pregnancy yoga classes in their community room last time around!

But they let me down this year, and I wanted to share it as they’re still mis-selling to customers which I can’t believe (spoiler alert… It’s only over a £40 bag but it’s the principle!)

the offending bag
the offending bag
  • For Christmas, I wanted to get the OH a new toiletry bag as his was battered!
  • Shopped around and decided on Ted Baker…
  • Lots of different stores (online) had different ones, and prices were quite similar… But most were wipe-clean fabric whereas John Lewis had one for a similar price (£40) that was made of leather so I plumped for that one
  • Christmas Eve when it came to unwrapping it and wrapping it, imagine my disappointment that it wasn’t actually made of leather!
  • As I’d bought him a few things to go in it, I decided to give it to him anyway… I didn’t have time to sort anything else out!
  • He loved it and started using it right away, transferring all this toiletries into it
  • I wanted to let John Lewis about it, as a huge fan I wasn’t overly annoyed but they needed to update their website and they might want to offer me a voucher to thank me for letting them know
  • I did this, but they took a month to reply and confirm via the supplier that it wasn’t leather 
  • They offered me £10 as a gesture of goodwill
  • But by this point I was a bit annoyed… They still hadn’t updated their website, so they were still misleading customers and when I looked into it a bit more I realised I could take them to court through the Sale of Goods act for mis-selling
  • IKEA actually got done for this around the same time for selling sofas that they were claiming to be leather that weren’t leather!
  • Since then there was a bit more back and forth with them to try and get more than £10 out of them as they weren’t taking it seriously (website still wrong) and I was saving them a fortune in legal fees/bad publicity
  • Alas, last week I settled for £15 as I don’t have the time or energy to argue any more…

So the last screenshot I took a few weeks ago (so 4 months later) and it clearly says ‘leather’ twice…

Now checking it today I can see they’ve changed the first sentence to ‘leather look’ but they still have a misleading sentence ‘mature-looking black leather’…. IT’S NOT LEATHER!!!


So I know this might read a bit ‘first world problems’ and I know we have far bigger things to worry about… But I needed to get it off my chest!

I think it’s been pretty poor for a company that has such strong brand and customer service values and ‘never knowingly undersold’. The most frustrating thing about it all has been how long it’s taking them to update the website… Working in marketing and being a blogger, I know it’s a 2 minute job and surely they’d prioritise inaccurate info?!

Rant over. Thanks for reading. 

In support of Jamie Oliver… and breastfeeding

So Jamie Oliver has got himself in trouble for daring to have an opinion on breastfeeding even though he’s… a man! (I think actually he’s mostly in trouble for saying breastfeeding is ‘easy’ but it’s hard to tell among the furore!
Well I’m glad that Jamie has chosen this as his next topic to campaign over, highlighting how important it is and how it should start with support for pregnant women.
I was actually really shocked when I read the news a couple of months ago that Britain has the worst breastfeeding rates IN THE WORLD.

Only 0.5% still breastfeed after a year in Britain, our closest neighbours are female opressors Saudi Arabia at 2%. Meanwhile poverty-stricken countries like Ethiopia manage 97%! 

Why is this? Well I guess it comes down to choice… British women are asked if we’re planning on breastfeeding whereas it seems like in many African countries it’s the norm and I’d guess that only the super-rich there use formula. 

Do we think these African countries have lots of help and support when they run into problems? Maybe… But I doubt it. I suspect they persevere, keep trying and rely on their sisterhood as back-up wet nurses. 

I’m not having a go at those that have tried breastfeeding and run into problems, I say good on you! I’m saying that we need to see a cultural shift that makes breastfeeding the norm, not a lifestyle choice. It will take years, maybe a generation or two. 

Choices… I know someone who decided not to breast-feed as she wanted her husband to bond with baby… Nonsense! There are plenty of ways dads can bond with their babies! What other reasons do we hear? Wanting to have your own freedom? Wanting to drink? Being embarrassed by your body or boobs? Not wanting to be shamed by people who think it’s ‘disgusting’? 
See, we already have a lot to overcome to get people to try breastfeeding, never mind keep it up. So thank you Jamie for trying to raise the issue. We need more positive role models, people like TOWIE’s Sam Faiers… People that you can relate to so that not all the breastfeeding advocates are the mumsnet breastapo that are more likely to put people off than get them to try it!

What else do we need? Well let’s ban the formula milk companies being able to advertise their ridiculous ‘follow up’ milks so that they don’t become aspirational brands that people want to use. Give them less space in the supermarket. I’m not saying we should make it more expensive but maybe there’s a way to get those big companies to donating money to breastfeeding support every time formula milk is sold?

As for me? I’m not perfect, I’m normal, I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months but got to 3 before we started to top-up. I know I could have persevered with it. I stopped breastfeeding around the 8-9 month mark when I went back to work.

The majority of people were totally supportive of my breastfeeding but there was the odd person that pulled a face like the friend who thought breastfeeding stopped dads bonding with babies.

So let’s start a new era. Let’s talk about it. Let’s see it. Let’s make it the norm. And if you try it and it doesn’t work out, obviously let’s not shame you! #sisterhood 

Does it matter if he looks like a girl?!

I mentioned in my last post that at the age of 16 months, we finally got W’s hair cut.

Why ‘finally’?!

Well ‘people’ have been suggesting I get it cut since he was about 6 months old! His hair grew quickly so by the time he was 1 he was already looking much like a little surfer dude…

Long-haired boy
Long-haired boy

I was loving this look, rats tails and all but in a heated moment of madness while he was in the bath, I decided to trim those mullet rat tails but the leave the rest.

image

Of course, when we got up the next day I realised that I’d totally messed up the back of his head and decided I’d prefer to cut it all off than look at my failed barber attempt every day. An emergency appointment followed, he did really well sitting down for his cut and only cried when the hair around his ears was being trimmed! Weeks later I have grown to love his new cut. He does look more grown-up, he looks totally different. I do miss his long locks though and hope they grow back soon.

image

He got mistaken for a girl quite a few times pre-haircut, but that didn’t bother me at all! I don’t dress him in the most masculine of clothes (follows his mum with Breton stripe tops, mustard leggings and the like) and he still plays with pink toys, but post-haircut he hadn’t been mistaken for a girl once.

I’m kinda bittersweet about it. Proud of my gorgeous boy looking all grown-up. But sad that society thinks he should have short hair, and that longer hair is a girly thing. Isn’t it a bit sad that we’re already judging them and defining them at such a young age?! Isn’t it a bit boring conforming to norms? Surely this is EXACTLY the age where it shouldn’t matter what he looks like? He has a lifetime of school, work and life’s norms and rules to conform to… So for now, could we let him be? And let his hair be wild and free?!

3 months left of maternity leave – a mum’s list of things I want to do!

I honestly can’t believe it, it’s flown by and the next 3 months will go so quickly.. before you know it I’ll be sat back at my desk with my work head back on!

Apart from the parenting malarkey, I had visions that I would learn some new skills on my maternity leave like:

  • cooking some new dishes e.g. dhal, hummus and baking cakes
  • watching YouTube tutorials on how to blow dry and plait my hair!
  • gardening

I haven’t done any of those! I think the only new thing I’ve done has been blogging… which is a time-consuming hobby but one I’m enjoying and it will also come in handy for my day job (read about it on my ‘about me’ page if you’re interested)

So here’s my mum’s list of things I need to and want to do over the next 3 months – some are chores, some are new skills – either way I find them equally difficult to devote time to without missing out on any of baby W’s time, or catching up with much-needed rest…:

  • remortgage my house as my fixed rate has ended so I need to lock it in before rates go up, hopefully this will save me some money 🙂
  • learn how to use the SLR camera that I’ve had for 2 years and hardly used, use it to take some lovely photos of baby W…. first, I just need to find the charger!
  • the above means I might *need* to get a new laptop – this will be a nice treat, I’ll be able to blog more efficiently and I can sort out all my music/photos/iTunes etc etc
  • I also *need* to get a new (used) car this year – I drive a 14 year old little Peugeot – it does the job in getting W and me from A to B, but I have to put the pram in the back seat which isn’t very safe… and it’s too old for an isofix and I reckon those time-saving minutes will become so important when I’m dropping off/picking him up from the childminder’s!
  • discover some more new places in my city of Cardiff – I have done some of this but would like to make more of an effort exploring the suburbs I haven’t been to!
  • watch some TED talks to find out what all the hype is about
  • plant some daffodils and tulips for the first time, ready for the spring

Bit of a random list eh!? Did you use your maternity leave to do anything new (apart from learning how to be a parent obviously ;))?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or tweet me at @yummyblogger

Still addicted to my iPhone?

A week ago I set myself the challenge of cutting down on my iPhone usage as I was finding myself getting addicted to checking things like Facebook and Twitter a million times a day!

So how did I get on?

  • By leaving my phone in a different room for most of the day and only checking it during naptime I am definitely using it less – the temptation has gone!
  • However, I realised how much I use it for other things like the camera, notebook and baby apps  – so I’m using an old school notebook and pen – old school, I love it!
  • I unfollowed some of the parenting groups that I’m a member of, on Facebook – if I ever have a bored half hour I can check them, but they won’t clog up my feed (it turns out these are the only updates I ever seem to get as most non-parents are in work or living their lives lol!)
  • Although I don’t think I’m missing much on Facebook, I do miss getting involved in some of the Twitter banter with other mums etc!
  • First thing in the morning is the hardest – baby W has taken to getting us up at 7-7.30 and I’m like a zombie til about 10 – my usual fix is breakfast TV, the Wright Stuff, lots of tea and my phone – that’s been the hardest habit to break
  • I still find myself checking it when I go to bed… this is bad for ‘sleep hygiene’ and I’m tempted to leave it downstairs but it does come in handy for nightfeeds so we’ll see…

Overall result? I like to think I’m slightly less addicted, and if baby W is old enough to take note I hope he has noticed 🙂

Have you tried cutting down too? Any tips you can share with us?!

Planting trees for babies in Wales

I had an amazing bit of post last week, possibly one of my favourite pieces ever (it’s up there with penpal letters in my teens, concert tickets in my twenties and wedding invites in my thirties!)

The Welsh Government, has planted not one, but two trees for baby W! One is in a forest in Wales, the other is in a family’s garden in Uganda to help them to try and grow crops and make a living….

Our tree certificate from Plant
Our tree certificate from Plant

The name of the scheme is ‘Plant’ which conveniently translates into the Welsh word for ‘children’. They sent us this certificate which you can see, and also an accompanying letter telling us a bit more about the scheme including the grid reference details for baby W’s tree in South Wales!

Why was it one of my favourite pieces of post?

  • I like to think I care about the environment, and helping poorer countries like those in Uganda…. but I am lazy… this allows me to help these causes while not lifting a finger!
  • What a special present for our baby – his own tree! I can’t wait to go and see it in a few years time when he’s old enough to realise 🙂
  • For both of those reasons above, opening this bit of post gave me such a feelgood factor! Especially considering it’s from the Government – I pay my taxes and in theory get a feelgood factor from having access to free health, education etc but the reality is we take these for granted. This, on the other hand is a cute use of taxes – a small, tangible, important and meaningful gift for every baby in Wales – thank you! Diolch!

Further reading if you’re interested:

  • The official website that tells you more about the scheme
  • a BBC article I found about it which says it was a schoolgirl’s idea, not a politician or civil servant’s 🙂

 

So what do you think about this? Do they run anything similar in your area? If not would you like them to or do you think it’s a waste of money?! I’d love to hear your thoughts….

Small print: I wasn’t asked by anyone to write this post, I just love the scheme and wanted to spread the word!

 

 

 

 

Addicted to my iPhone

My name’s Heledd and I’m addicted to my smartphone…

I think it all started when baby W was a wee newborn and we’d have some epic feeds… 1 or 2 hours glued to the sofa or bed and as much as I love staring at his gorgeous face , I needed something else… Something to keep me awake…

Scroll, scroll, scroll, swipe, swipe, swipe……

He’s now nearly 4 months old and I feel addicted…. I am constantly checking Facebook and twitter! Facebook used to be where I kept in touch and up-to-date with friends. It still is but now I’m also a member of about 10 mummy groups where there’s always dramas, people to help, people to ask for advice…

Ditto twitter, i set up a new account to go with this blog, and so my feed is 99% parenting-related, obviously v useful to a new mum like me! I can check both a gazillion times in a few minutes, and I can guarantee that not much will have it happened since I last checked!

But like I said, I guess it’s habit… A habit that’s just gotten worse (like most habits I guess?)

This all sounds petty… Why does it matter?

Before W came along I’d always said I wouldn’t want my children addicted to iPads and phones like so many kids seem to be. So with me being addicted to my phone, I’m not giving him the best start am I ?! When I mentioned my addiction in baby group last week, a mum to a 6month old said her baby was already wanting to/asking to play with her phone. This mum, and another, both admitted to sneaking a look at their phone while feeding/ playing with their babies, like I do!

Each to their own, but for me, it’s laziness… I might have messages that I haven’t replied to for weeks, but scrolling and swiping are so easy… So lazy! I don’t want baby W to inherit a lazy habit… and I don’t want to miss a thing while he’s awake! Don’t get me wrong – I’m  sure he will end up playing with iPads and iPhones – but in moderation, not all the time like his mummy!

Today it stops. My challenge for the week ahead is to leave my phone in another room to the one I’m in. I will only check my phone when baby is napping (so about 3 times a day) I will check it when daddy comes home and takes over for an hour. I will then check it again before bed. This will be similar to my blogging rules – I only blog when baby W is napping in the day… Evening time is time for me and my other half and weekends are family time.

I don’t really check it when I’m out and about – it’s more of a sofa habit.

Find out in a week how I get on… Will my right hand hurt any less? Will I miss out on anything? Will I feel like I’m missing a limb?!

Co-sleeping – a common reality and guilty secret?

NICE announced their new guidelines this morning, recommending against co-sleeping in baby’s first year due to the increased risk of SIDS.

I’m no expert on SIDS and I have no idea on how many precious babies die because of co-sleeping.

I am, however, a new mum and it was made very clear to us during pregnancy and these first couple of months that babies must sleep on their backs and NOT co-sleep, whether that be from midwives, health visitors, antenatal classes, books, magazines, apps….

‘No problem!’ I thought, when W came along, he’ll sleep in his moses basket next to me. I went mad with my OH if he brought W into bed with us or had a nap on the sofa with him. Then sleep deprivation and reality hit in – W settles ok in his basket ’til about 3/4/5am but then gets difficult to settle so I tend to bring him into bed with us.

At first I felt awful about this, and nervous, and scared. Then something strange happened – whenever I sheepishly mentioned this to family/ friends/ colleagues/ other bloggers and tweeters it turns out I wasn’t alone and I’d say 90% of them admitted to co-sleeping at some point or another… to comfort their babies and get some much-needed sleep.

I’m sure I’ve read that sleep deprivation has the same impact on reflexes as drinking a load of alcohol. So what’s riskier – co-sleeping for a few hours? or being in charge of a baby on very little or no sleep??

As I said, I’m no expert and I’m not disagreeing with the guidelines. What I’d like to suggest is that the experts at NICE and the NHS recognise that a large number of parents co-sleep, and give guidance on how to do it as safely as possible.

In my experience, co-sleeping is a common reality, but at the moment feels like a huge guilty secret. Again, could we reduce risk by making it less of a taboo?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – do you agree with me, or do you think more should be done to stop people co-sleeping?