Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kindness

I cannot get over the kindness of our family and friends.

Since I was made redundant 18 months ago, things have been really difficult financially, particularly when Mr PinQ’s contract with the charity that he worked for came to an end and he started doing temp work.  Losing my great wage was a blow but losing his low one was devastating, we didn’t know how we could feed and clothe ourselves, never mind our beautiful Baby-Girl when she arrived last summer.

Everyone has been so generous, giving us: bags and bags of knitted, crocheted and bought clothes, blankets, a pram, nappies, a cot-bed, change bags, a steriliser; a little work to earn extra money; lessons in crochet so that I could make things for her myself; toys; a practical helping hand when we’ve needed it; somewhere to stop and feed Baby-Girl or somewhere to sleep when travelling to see family and friends; a shoulder to cry on when it has been needed; puppy- and baby-sitting; baby sign classes – the list is endless!

If that weren’t enough, a friend with a property portfolio is buying another house for us to rent so that we will have a secure roof over our heads until we can afford to buy; another has arranged for us to live in another house until the sale of the other completes.

I’ve had hard times in the past, but it was never as bad as the last 18 months and of course, it was only ever me, my old doggy and cat (when they were still alive) that I had to think about.  Having a baby magnifies those sorts of stresses a hundredfold but having such wonderful, kind-hearted and generous people in our lives negates most of that stress.

Some people handed me money and said, “Get something for the baby”, so I put it straight into savings accounts for her.  With everyone having bought her so much already, we didn’t really need anything so making sure that she has a bit of money behind her when she grows up seemed like the right thing to do with it.

I’ve even been given loads of textiles (Nan-Bear and NannaD) and clothes so that I can make things, either for Baby-Girl or even to sell.  On top of that, people donated to help me set up my own business and I’ve already bought the sewing machine that I dreamed of owning when mine broke – although I’m goign to buy the other bits when we are settled in our new home, it would be silly to buy it now just to have to transport it 275 miles!

We’ve had all of the things from the food bank that other people wouldn’t take. Things like vegetables and uncut, lovely bread: Meditteranean, soda bread, organic brown batch, olive bread, ciabatta rolls and the rest!

We are the poorest we’ve ever been financially but the richest in love because of the kindness of others.  I really do hope that there is a heaven so that I can sit down with all of those wonderful people and tell them what they mean to me.  Some of you will think, “but it as just a little thing…” it wasn’t a little thing to us.  The baby clothes from the charity shop was as gratefully received as the leg of lamb, the pork joint, the vegetables, the vegetable peeling to feed the hens, the second-hand crib, the cot-bed and everything else.  I can never sell any on any of the beautiful things that people have made for Baby-Girl, they are too precious, but I expect I will sell bags of assorted baby clothes at some point but even if I don’t keep everything forever, I will never forget the generous, kind souls that gave us so much peace of mind.  Being able to dress your baby (for at least a year) because so many lovely people have given you so much – when you didn’t know how you were going to dress her past her first few weeks, really is amazing.

I have no way to adequately express what it means to be moving to a warm home where you aren’t in a daily battle with mould.  I even think that the cough and sinus thing that I started with on Christmas day will go when we are settled.

From anyone in need, thank you to all the good people.  When you help someone who really needs it, you give a them light, hope and joy.  Even when reality hits again as it must, the benefactor will always have the memory of that helping hand, in whatever form.

N.B. I normally proof-read in case of garbled sentences, typos and grammatical errors.  I am too tired to do that tonight and I have a tonne of work to do for Saturday plus a landlord visit tomorrow so I am just leaving the post as is.  Apologies if it reads like alphabetti spaghetti!

 

They must think we are stupid!

“Hello,
Message important for you! You have a tax refund of £ 241,76 GBP still pending! We have been unable to credit the funds on your account.”

Their email address showed as:HM Revenue & Customs <payment@germany-carsale24.com>

Honestly!  Even if the email address hadn’t been visible, the dodgy English in the subject field would have made it an obvious scam: “Enquiry from HMRC urgent for you! You have a tax refund of £ 241,76 GBP still pending!”.

Reported to HMRC.

07527915436

“Am I speaking to Mrs PinQ?”

“Ye—s”

“Hello Mrs PinQ.  I am Dave [MYAR5E] from Credit _______”

I didn’t catch the name of the ‘company’.

“It is my understanding that you have personal debt that you pay off monthly.”

“I must stop you there.  This number is TPS registered.”

“But your number was given to us by Citizens Advice and the Financial Conduct Authority with regard to your debt.”

“I don’t think so.  Even if Citizens Advice did have my details due to a problem with debt, they would not contravene the DPA ’98.”

“Well, what I don’t understand is if you can’t amanage your debt, why you have TPS.”

He then hung up.

I have reported the call to the TPS, Action FraudCitizens Advice and the FCA.  Mainly because of the people that would be suckered by these scammers – especially when they are bandying about organisations such as Citizens Advice and the FAC.

EU: the FACTS

Was the title of the leaflet that came through the door this afternoon.

I can’t say that I was surprised to find a UKIP logo with contact details on the back, the leaflet proved to me that they are aiming for a less intelligent following.  The “IF WE VOTE TO LEAVE THE EU” page had green headers and the “IF YOU VOTE TO REMAIN IN THE EU” using red.

N.B. The use of “WE” and “YOU”

You are part of a nice, snuggly, warm club/family if you choose to vote leave.  Isolation and doom for you if you choose to remain.

Not surprisingly, the “facts” are not particularly factual.  Opinion is not fact – even when it’s mine 😉

I had a look at it because Star (the puppy) kept trying to paw at it so I thought I would read it to her.

Now, the reason that I kept it on the coffee table in the first place was so that I could lodge a complaint.  When we got Star, Mr PinQ put chicken wire across our wrought iron garden gate and fitted the following sign (on both sides):

Please Close the Gate

The sign is approximately 5″ x 7″ (roughly 13cm x 18cm) and the gate is easy enough to operate so I was not impressed when I went out with Star earlier and found that the gate had only been pulled to rather than closed.  I was taught that when leafleting, you should always leave the gate as you found it and I KNOW that I closed it earlier; never mind the fact that there is a SIGN asking people to close the gate.

Further to all of this, I then tried to call the number on the back of the leaflet to complain about the gate, only to be put through to the UKIP membership hotline!  Really? Membership?

With my Aryan looks, I might have to ask Mr PinQ to put on some DMs so that he looks as BNP as possible and pay a visit to the local UKIP member’s office…

I had to make a stand

I spent yesterday morning at the hospital being tested for gestational diabetes.  I had assumed it was routine but it turns out that it was probably just because of my age.

The letter said “no food or drink from 20:30 the night before except water or black tea/coffee.”

I had been very sick shortly after dinner on Thursday so by the tie I got up yesterday, I was pretty ravenous but I followed the instructions.  It’s funny though; this morning, I am happily sat here drinking green tea with mint but yesterday, I _really_ wanted a caramel macchiato!

Having arrived at the hospital 10 minutes before my 09:00 appointment time, I was disappointed not to be called through until 09:27 – particularly because Maternity Outpatients was still quiet at that point.  The baseline blood was taken and I was given a vile energy drink.  The flavour itself wasn’t to bad, it was the sweetness of it that was horrible because I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth.  The Maternity Assistant then had a bit of a flap (she was having a bit of a dizzy morning) over giving me some water, I said that it was okay, I had my filter bottle with me but she said that I couldn’t have that because i could only have a measured amount.  The teeny cup provided really wasn’t enough to get rid of that taste!

I then had to return to the waiting room for two hours before the next blood sample could be taken.  I had my crochet with me to keep me occupied.

After an hour, I couldn’t stay sat any longer and toddled off up the corridor to use the bathroom (rather than the one directly across from the waiting room) and stretch my legs.

When I retuned, the already busy department was now full with only one seat left.  I sat down and started to observe the people around me.  The young mums brought two people with them: mum + baby’s father or mum + friend/sister or baby’s father  + friend/sister; the older mums in for a scan had mum or baby’s father with them; and the older mums in for blood tests or examinations had come alone.  For us, it was the purely practical.  The letter had said: “allow approximately 2 and a half hours for your appointment.”  I knew that it would be more likely three and wasn’t prepared to pay for parking for that long so Mr PinQ dropped me off and took the puppy for a long walk before returning to collect me – no parking costs and a tired puppy FTW.

There was a young man next to his partner and her mum in the seats just across the aisle from me and a young man playing on his phone with his partner plus her friend/sister on the seats next to me.  As more heavily pregnant ladies arrived for their appointments, I found myself appalled by the fact that no-one gave up their seats but sat in ignorance.  I always remember being taught to give up my seat on the bus for pregnant ladies or elderly people – although many elderly gentlemen would refuse the offer.  Now, all of the young ladies that I know between 15 and 25 years of age would have nudged their partners and said, “Let that lady sit down” or similar but to my horror, not one person moved and women that were well over 30 weeks, obviously suffering from the heat and tired, were left standing whilst the appointment times were over-running by over half an hour.

I wasn’t far off my 2 hour mark and knowing that everyone in the room was listening intently for their names (none of the people calling patients through had the ability to project their voices) I stood up and offered a lady my seat on the basis that I would be called back in shortly.

At that point, a member of staff took my cue and went around the room asking if those who weren’t pregnant if they could please give up their seats.

It’s rather a shame that it took someone of 30 weeks pregnant and a member of staff to make it happen.

Inevitably, the morning had taken its toll and I slept for much of the afternoon before being sick again and am still sick this morning but no matter – not long now!

 

Annual vaccinations for your pet?

When my beloved Sheehan was about 5 years old, I moved to the countryside.

Now, I had always lived on the edge of the countryside and spent much of my time playing/hiking in the hills and walking by reservoirs and rivers.  I knew the countryside code and stuck to it.

Up until then, Sheehan and Spike had always had their annual vaccinations and ate the best “complete” dog and cat food that I could afford for them.


One day, Sheehan developed a massive dry, flaky, white scab on her back and on the site of the scab, lost her hair, so I took her to see an old country vet.  He told me to feed her raw mince and brown bread for a fortnight, he suggested that I might crack a raw egg in as well once or twice.  He was very much against “complete” food because in its natural state, a dog wouldn’t eat a perfectly balanced diet.  I told him about the fact that she ate grass on a daily basis but was never sick with it and he suggested that I give her “veggie ends” because in the wild, if she hunted a grazing beast, she would get all of the vitamins, minerals and fibre of the grass when she ripped out and ate its belly.   He also told me to give her starve days every once in a while to clear her gut, after all, a wild dog/wolf doesn’t get to eat every day.

I was discussing this with an old “dog man” – sadly not a new species but a chap who works dogs – and he told me that he only has his dogs vaccinated for the first couple of years.

I took their advice and changed the way that I fed Sheehan and neither she nor Spike were vaccinated again.

I don’t actually know if annual boosters work like a flu jab where you get a bit of last year’s strain; I also don’t know if they are given live vaccines and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there but I do know that apart from breast cancer at 10 (benign tumours), Sheehan was a happy, healthy girl for almost 17 years.  A Border Collie’s lifespan is 10 – 14 years with an average age of death at 12 years.  Even in her last weeks, she was still walking 5 miles a day.  Don’t get me wrong, when she was in her prime, I walked 10 miles a day and she would do about 30 because she was running back and forth as I walked, whereas in her last year, the 5 miles were broken into 3 walks and there was no running about but I know a lot of young, healthy (?), fit (??) dogs that don’t do that.  Spike lived to be 21 and developed Chronic Kidney Disease in his last couple of years but that was controlled with medication and diet.

If the vaccinations are live, then surely our dogs, cats and bunnies build immunity that doesn’t need to be topped up.

I have recently learned about the Titre/Titer Test (pronounced TIGHT-er) where a blood sample is taken and can be tested for antibodies to things like parvovirus, distemper and rabies.  It is my understanding that the vaccination for parvovirus should last for 7 years and distemper for 5 – 7 years but the vets that will actually do the test will recommend annual testing (it’s more expensive that vaccination – make what you will of that) and many people choose to est every 3 years.

I have also learned a lot about the health problems that cats can develop from eating grains but it is surprising how many cat food products out there still contain rice, wheat and maize.

Finding food without grain for Snowdrop, our new kitten, has been challenging; even the free sample of Royal Canin Paediatric biccies contained grain but Arden Grange (cheaper via Amazon subscribe and save with our other animal feed to make up the 15% discount) has only protein and potato so we’re onto a winner with that one.  Wet food is more challenging for her as she seems to have a bit of an allergy to chicken – it gives her a very poorly tummy – and Mr PinQ discovered that even a food labelled as “salmon” was made from salmon, pollock and CHICKEN so we might be making her wet food ourselves.

20160206-Snowdrop

One thing that I do know for sure is that I won’t be having the babies vaccinated annually.

They will get their primary vaccinations and then I will have to decide whether to test or top-up every 5-7 years.  I will also continue to feed and exercise them as I have learned over the years

 

Pregnancy: the good, the bad, the not so pretty & the slightly weird

The Good:

1. The Baby Centre

When we’d decided to have children, I confided in a dear friend who happens to work for The Baby Centre UK and she pointed me in their direction and sent me useful links from time to time.  It’s a wonderful resource for good, common sense advice for every possible topic and stage of pregnancy, right up to your child starting school.

2. Finally finding out that I was pregnant!  When we got married four and a half years ago, we made the decision to let nature take its course.  We weren’t actively “trying” but in all honesty, with my hours, his shifts and my stress levels, chances were pretty slim.

3. Seeing my husband’s face when he realised that, “You are going to be a Daddy” wasn’t referring to the fostering application that we’d submitted.

4. Seeing your baby for the first time on the 12 week scan.

12 week crop

5. Getting the letter that says that your baby is at low risk of having Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s Syndromes.

6. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time at your second appointment with the midwife.

7. Being able to share your news with the people that you love.

8. Starting baby’s “bottom drawer”.

9. Feeling baby move, from the little flutters to the little kicks and dance routines. The best bit of this is that you can really share baby with your husband because up until now, she’s been more of an intellectual concept for him.

10. Seeing baby move during the 20 week scan (she was waving her little fingers in this pic) and, if it’s possible on the day and you want to know, finding out if baby is pink flavour or blue flavour (no gender stereotypes here, just helpful for Nanna-Bear and the Fairy Godmothers who are knitting).

20160222-Maggie_20 wks

11. Realising that your kitten is responding to your baby so you won’t have one wake you at Midnight, 02:00 and 04:00 and the other wake you at 01:00, 03:00 and 05:00.  She cuddles up to my belly for sleeps when baby is asleep and runs around like a loon when baby is dancing!

20160206-Snowdrop

12. Being able to love having a belly!  Mine appeared from nowhere at about 20 weeks and now it’s huge but it is probably the only time in your life that you can enjoy having a massive belly.

13. Free prescriptions and dental care – you’ve got to love the NHS!

14. The feeling that you get when you put on your first pair of maternity trousers *ahhhhh*.

The jeans were too big but just recently, the waistband has started to cut into your belly; your leggings and joggers sit under your belly (or roll down) and baby doesn’t like the cold and the only things that have been really comfy are your ice-skating leggings and pyjama bottoms, neither of which is appropriate for work, shopping and other activities!

15. Having a truly wonderful Osteopath.

16. The cessation of menstruation!  As someone who loved being on Depo-Provera because of shift work and horrendous period pains, it is such a relief to be without one’s “curse”.

17. Discovering the “Baby Wish List” function on Amazon when people have been asking you to provide a list.  It’s like a wedding list, you get exactly what you need and/or want, delivered to your door!

18. Realising that in x weeks, you are going to be holding the tiny human that you both made.

The Bad

NCT

1. My lovely Midwife baffled me a little.  Maybe because I’m an old first time mum or maybe because she has so many mums who have had more than one baby, I’m not sure but she occasionally says something and I’m clueless.  The first time she said: “Right, it’s time to check baby now” and looked a bit surprised that I didn’t realise that I needed to take my jeans down to my knicker line and lie on the bed.  Mr PinQ was talking to our neighbour about this (soon to have her second baby) and she recommended that we sign up for ante-natal classes with the NCT.

I went online and nearly fell over when I saw the prices.  Money is tight since my redundancy and even if we fall into the cheapest price band, £10:30 an hour is way more than we can afford.  There are enough mothers in our lives who would undoubtedly share their experiences and common sense advice freely and with love.

We then planned to attend a sale of pre-loved baby things that was organised by the NCT. One of the organisers (our neighbour) and the venue gave us the times for the event as 10:00 till 14:00 and we planned our day around it.  We arrived at 12:20 and were shocked to see the sign segregating Members and Non-Members and then even more shocked to see a note at the bottom of the sandwich board declaring, “NO BUGGIES”.   Seriously?  We know the venue, we are members, they ask that you don’t leave buggies by the door as they could prevent easy egress in the event of a fire but they do allow buggies in.  If that wasn’t enough, they were charging £1 per person entry fee because they clearly don’t make enough money with their astronomical costs for classes/workshops.  The final insult was the NCT representative that “welcomed” us at the door.

Abruptly: “Are you here for the sale” Looking me up and down like I was filth
Glancing at my obvious baby belly a little incredulously, “Yes”
Abruptly: “It finishes at 12:30”
“Oh!  Two independent sources: the venue and one of the NCT organisers (our neighbour) told us that it was ten till two” peering hopefully over her shoulder at the full stalls with mums stood attentively in the hopes of making a little money from the things that their babies had grown out of.
Abruptly: “No, it definitely finishes at 12:30” and ushered us out of the door, stopping short of actually pushing us.

I warm smile with: “I’m sorry for any confusion/misunderstanding but the sale is only on until 12:30” would have been the right way to represent her organisation.  I wouldn’t really expect a: “It finishes at 12:30 but you’ve got 10 minutes for a quick look” although I’m quite sure that the chance to make a few extra £s would have been appreciated by the mums doing the actual selling.

I’m so glad that I have The Baby Centre, a great Midwife and lots of lovely friends – if I had to rely on the NCT I’d be in a mess!

2. Being told that the £60 per hour job is yours during interview and then having that swiftly retracted when you tell the interviewer that you are pregnant.

It had been advertised as a 3-6 month contract and I applied when I was 5 weeks.  The company then changed the job spec and delayed the interviews by a few of months.
Realising that it sounded like a longer contract, I asked how long he envisioned it continuing and when he said a year, I knew that I had to tell him.

To be fair, he did say that my telling him said an awful lot about my integrity and that in a couple of years, he would be looking to grow the team so I should keep in touch but I was pretty gutted and I know deep down that my lack of continuation training and current experience & knowledge will be an issue in a couple of years.

3. Being lectured to and patronised.

4. Discovering that someone you love dearly has lost their baby when you were only about four weeks apart.

The Not So Pretty:

1. The sickness.  A step up from “normal” morning sickness, Hyperemisis Gradivarium is not fun!  Eighteen weeks of being violently sick 4-8 times a day, evil dehydration headaches, learning what it feels like to choke on your own vomit and just the total wipe-out that it brings is horrendous.

With the tough fitness regime just prior to pregnancy, followed by the 1st 8lb weight loss in weeks 6 – 12 and ongoing sickness since, I am half expecting to come out of this pregnancy thinner than when I went in!

At 23 weeks, the sickness is largely down to once a day most of the time with just a few bad days at 4/5 times a day.

Now that baby is now starting to hear and have been trying to sing to her but my vocal cords are wrecked because of the sickness – I hope they get better!

2. Belching.  It’s embarrassing!  I have never belched so much in all my life.  Imagine drinking a can of fizzy pop in a one-er… Well, the resulting belch is my constant companion.  I get that baby has squished up all of my innards so things are bound to be a bit peculiar but she is so rude with all the belching and burping – because believe me when I say that it is ALL her.

3. Realising that you can no longer power through a 17 mile+ bike ride when 7 miles wipes you out for a day.  On the plus side, I am still happily cycling, Tai Chi-ing and doing gentle ballet warm-ups before skating; I’ve just had to learn my new limitations, so: no jumps on the ice, no running, stop when I’m tired even if it is a only fraction of my normal time/mileage and take it easy – gentle exercise is good for baby too!

4. Tiredness.  Not just when exercising but day-to-day.  I’m not sleeping as much or as well and with the sickness draining my energy too, I find that I am getting tired really easily.  An afternoon nap helps when I can get one.

5. Maternity bras.  At 5 weeks, I went from a FF to an H cup – because I really needed bigger boobs!  My fabulous Freya sports bras and pretty lacy ones had to be put into storage and maternity bras purchased.  Several that arrived are underwired – if I could wear underwired, I wouldn’t be buying goddamn maternity bras!  The wires are the cause of much pain now that I am pregnant.  Instead, I now have these massive boobs that are not properly supported in something that looks like a piece of kit for a Russian shot-putter.

Joy.

6. The constant feeling of having a cold, caused by the swelling of your mucous membranes.  This also brings with it a whole new level of snoring that drives your hubby to sleep in the guest bedroom.  Well, one of us has to sleep!

7. The changes to your senses of taste and smell.  Nothing tastes right any more and you are enjoying food less and less but the impact on the sense of smell is far worse.

Having spent several years trying different antiperspirants that your beloved can use that won’t affect your psoriasis and eczema whilst effectively preventing him from smelling like a men’s locker room and that actually smells nice; you suddenly find it unbearably cloying and nauseating and find yourself sitting and shivering because you’ve had to open all of the windows to air the house following his morning shower.

8. Not being able to do everything that you used to.  Bending to tie your laces is uncomfortable.  You can’t lift that heavy box out of the way.  Some housework tasks are proving difficult.  You can’t empty the litter tray and aren’t sure about the safety of even handling all of the animals.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a comfortable position to sit/sleep in.

9. Your brain doesn’t seem to be quite as high-functioning as it was.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I was always reasonably bright and very good at thinking on my feet, I have always been a bit dizzy/dippy but I have achieved new levels of dizziness that astound even me.  Is baby eating my brain?

10. Loose ligaments.  One of the dogs that we babysit from time-to-time is not very good on the lead and pulls dreadfully so it is getting to a point where I am struggling to walk him because he pulls even my good shoulder out of the socket a little.

This is actually a good candidate for the evolution or design argument.  You see, if we were designed, the ligament loosening would be targeted to the pelvic area where it is actually going to be needed when it is time to give birth and wouldn’t affect the whole body, offering you up more readily to injury at a time when you need to be strongest.

I am grateful not to have experienced the spreading of the feet though, another size up wouldn’t work with my height.

The Slightly Weird:

1. People asking to touch your belly.  To be fair, that is preferable to them just touching it but still…