I hate the media (breastfeeding in the press)

In January of this year, Mary Fewtrell & co published an opinion piece in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) questing the evidence behind the WHO’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months. This caused newspapers and online news sites to come out with headlines like:

Six months of breastmilk alone is too long and could harm babies, scientists now say — The Guardian

Too much breastfeeding ‘puts children off greens’ — The Independent

Weaning before six months ‘may help breastfed babies’ — BBC News

Parenting forums everywhere rapidly filled with threads, everything from “omg am I killing my baby by exclusive breastfeeding?!” to smug “I told you to start on purees at 8 weeks” from a generation of older parents. Suddenly people were telling all and sundry that the Government guidelines on weaning were changing and that mums should take note. A cursory glance at mumsnet just now and I count 2 references to the BBC article in one topic (posted on this weekend… not an old thread by any stretch of the imagination) to support early weaning.

The piece was heavily criticised by doctors, midwives and professors in the rapid response section of BMJ; by Baby Milk Action; by LLL GB (La Leche League GB); by lactivists and breastfeeding supporters everywhere. (There are some fantastic responses on the rapid response from people much smarter than me. Definitely worth a read.)

So why is it that, 6 months on, when an actual study featuring our controversial friend Fewtrell was published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (and elsewhere) confirming the adequacy of breast milk and exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months (emphasis my own):

Results of this prospective study reveal that when mothers are well supported and follow the World Health Organization recommendation on breastfeeding, milk intakes are high and increase over time, and there is adequate energy intake, normal infant growth, and no marked changes in breastfeeding practices. This new empirical evidence on adaptations during exclusive breastfeeding should help health professionals promote the initiation, duration, and exclusivity of breastfeeding.

…it gets nary a mention in the media? This is an actual study, using actual sciencey bits, and isn’t just the opinion of a baby-food industry puppets. And yet, no BBC telling us that in reality, breastfed babies are ok on just breast milk; no Guardian telling us that actually, 6 months of breastfeeding is just bloody fine.

Oh yes, that’s right, because telling mums they’re doing well (instead of admonishing them for yet another failure) wouldn’t boost sales, would it?

Dear Skechers

Hello there, my name is Jem.

About 6 years ago I bought my first pair of Skechers. They were amazingly comfortable. I’d never before had a shoe (trainer/sneaker/whatever) which had been such a great fit straight from the box. This was the beginning of what I hoped to be a lasting, fulfilling relationship with your brand (you see, I hate shoe shopping, so if I have a go-to brand that makes my life easier).

Unfortunately those shoes wore out. Completely through. It took about 2 years, which is not bad going considering I was walking upwards of 6 miles a day, but nonetheless a little sad. I replaced them with another pair. Not quite as comfy out of the box but were spot on within a week or so of regular wear. They lasted a similar timespan until they too wore through. I don’t mind getting 2 years out of a pair of £40 shoes. I was a happy customer.

Long story short, I’m now on my 4th pair of Skechers (trainers) and also own a pair of your black shoes for more formal occasions. I’m obviously not making you rich beyond your wildest dreams, but I guess over a lifetime I could be spending a lot of money on Skechers.

Except, and here’s the problem… pair number 4, apparently called ‘Speedsters Nottingham’, were despatched to me on June 1st 2011, costing me £46. It is now October 5th 2011. In 4 months and 4 days these shoes have been destroyed. I have worn through the insole and partly through the rubber sole on both shoes. I have an excruciating blister on my right foot today and a growing build-up of hard skin on my left (I know you don’t want to hear these lovely fine details, I apologise if I put you off your dinner)

What I don’t understand is how I have managed to destroy your shoes in 4 months, when I’m walking less than I was this time 5-6 years ago. I’m also alternating my shoes more because of work/etc so if anything, they’ve had a fraction of the wear in 4 months than my old pairs will have had in the same span.

I’m losing faith. I don’t want to have to find another go-to brand. That would make me miserable, and waste valuable time that I could be spending doing other important things (like writing more nice reviews about your products on Amazon). Please, for my sake and yours, make sure this blip in build quality is a one-off.

Thank you,


Hungry? Cookbook Winner

The results for The Great Hungry? Cookbook Giveaway are in… 30 people entered, with 70 entries in total (tweets, comments, likes etc). Out of 70, random.org gives me a number of:

random number: 47

…which gives the winner:

row 47: winner - Jennifer

Jennifer! The girl with the most entries, heh. Just goes to show that making the extra effort pays off :D Your book will be with you … as soon as you’ve sent me your postal address!

Ironbridge Photography Project

I have the privilege of living in the most beautiful county in the UK: Shropshire. (Not that I’m biased or anything.) This is highlighted in the towns surrounding my own; Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale and the like. Steeped in history, full of landmarks like The Iron Bridge… on their own, they are fairly interesting, but a recent work project by two of my colleagues only adds to that. Check this out:

Tontine Hotel, Ironbridge

The mix of old and new, people milling around just like they do now, what’s changed and what hasn’t. I find the whole lot fascinating. I’m actually gutted that I’m going to Wales this weekend so will miss them presented full size at the Ironbridge World Heritage Festival on Saturday.

Anyway, if you want to see the rest of the pictures, have a look at Creating windows into Shropshire’s history on my work’s blog.

The Great Hungry? Cookbook Giveaway

Remember how the other day I was all “ooh, I love the Hungry? cookbook too much to give it away“? Problem solved! I pulled some strings asked nicely and have secured a second copy of the innocent cookbook to give to one of you lovely people.

How do I enter the great ‘Hungry?’ giveaway, Jem?

Simples! Leave a comment on this post. That’s it. No purchase necessary. You don’t even have to say something clever and witty – “count me in!” should just about do it.

Want a better chance of winning? Enter multiple times! Here are other ways you can enter:

  • “Like” the jemjabella.co.uk facebook page
  • Tweet about the giveaway, including a link to this blog post (max of 3 tweets per day, spam is for losers)
  • Follow @jemjabella on twitter (that’s me, hi!)
  • “Like” the innocent drinks facebook page (as a thank you to our generous benefactor)
  • Link to this post from your blog / tumblr / livejournal / whatever is trendy these days (each link gains you 1 entry)
  • Tell a friend about the contest, and ask them to leave your name in their comment

Leave a comment with the details of your individual entries (one comment or over several, it doesn’t really matter).

What’s the catch then?

No catch. We do need to enforce a few guidelines though:

  • Over 18s only (I’m fairly sure this counts as gambling, sorry kids)
  • There are no country restrictions — I’m the poor mug forking out on postage here
  • Please link to individual twitter updates or link/email a screenshot for protected accounts
  • You’ll have to tell me your Facebook name so I can check for genuine likes (if you’d rather keep your name private, email me instead)
  • You’ll also have to tell me your twitter username so that I can check for follows

Entries close on Friday 23rd September @ 7:00am GMT so don’t hang about. After the weekend I’ll tally the totals into a spreadsheet, jumble all the entries up and use a random number generator to pick a row. The winner will be announced next Wednesday.

Ready, steady, go…


The Driving Test

Whilst bathing Isabel last week, Karl and I were playing the “what noise does … make?” game. Lions say rawr, monkeys say “ooh ooh” etc etc.

Karl then asks “what noise does mummy’s driving make?” Isabel replies: nee-naw-nee-naw

Thanks kid.

Anyway, this seemed like an appropriate way to lead into the results of my driving test today.

I failed. Speeding. Was doing roughly 37mph in a 30 zone. Stupid mistake, because I know the road and knew it was a 30. I was confused, I’d been overtaken, split second of doubting myself … that’s all it takes. Bit of an arse, but it’s all good – test rebooked for October.

But hey, at least I didn’t require a nee-naw-nee-naw. :)


At the end of last month I decided to try a meal-plan month. Plan your family meals for a set timespan, buy the necessary foods and don’t waste money on food that won’t get eaten because you’ve changed your mind when you get home from work. I’m surprised by how well it’s working; I expected to get fed up with the lack of spontaneity but in reality it’s been a blessing. If I know what I’m having ahead of time I can prep in advance and save time (and the leftovers make excellent work lunches). We’ve only cheated once (bought pizza instead) and that was because I was feeling naff.

By total coincidence I was approached about a week ago to see if I’d be interested in pushing a press release for “Hungry?“, the new innocent cookbook. I’m not (despite my age-old love for innocent), but the opportunity to get a freebie is something else entirely…

The book arrived at work, brightening up an otherwise crap afternoon (disclaimer: not indicative of usual feelings towards work). Couldn’t wait to get it home so I could figure out why it weighed so much! Turns out that as well as the 100 or so easy to cook recipes it also contains buckets of beautifully designed — and educational — spreads (that’s design speak, don’t you know):

5 reasons to eat in season

things to do in 15 minutes

And those are just the beginning… the book is absolutely ram-packed with the usual innocent one-liners and cute witticisms. The majority of recipes contain at least one portion of your “5 a day”. The pictures are fab and there’s even a binary caption under one (GEEK LOVE).

I was most fascinated to read about how the Chorleywood way has reduced bread to little more than a fatty bread-flavoured lump (paraphrasing) and how Howies “Doh Boy” campaign wants to change that. Having used the bread recipe that accompanies the text — which is just flour, yeast, salt and water .. oh, and time — I am now considering making my own bread by hand on a weekly basis. Domestic goddess? Damn right.

So next month the plan (pun!) is to carry on with the meal plans, and to integrate some of the innocent recipes. I had the book itself lined up for a give-away, but am selfishly thinking of keeping it to myself. Research purposes, you must understand. ;)

Photography by Creative Review. Borrowed because mine sucked ass.

PS. In case you’re wondering, tonight it’s toad in the hole :)


I got called a mommy blogger yesterday. Ouch. It was a harmless remark, included in an otherwise genuine question, not intended to offend. And yet nearly 24 hours later I’m still thinking about it.

I guess what bothers me the most, aside from my distaste for the “PPP” / sponsored posts crap that most ‘mommy bloggers’ tend to involve themselves with, is the order of the words: Mommy. Blogger.

Now, I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. I’ve been a “mommy” (ick) for nearly 2. By my calculations, that’s a good 8 years of blogging where I’ve not been a mother. Even if I’d blogged about motherhood, babies, poo, breastfeeding and who knows what else each day since the conception of my child, the post count would still not come anything close to the total of non-parenting blog entries I have (or had) in my entire blogging history. My blogging is not defined by my ‘status’ as a mother, any more than Karl’s is defined by his as a father, or my sister’s as an aunt, or my child-free friends by their “lack” of offspring.

I am not a mommy blogger. I am just a blogger.

Life. Oh, Life. Toddler taming & more.

(This post has been constructed over a period of several days, snatching minutes here and there. If it seems choppy / all over the place, it’s because it is.)

Struggling to find the time to write at the minute.. life busy passing me by undocumented. It’s not like I don’t HAVE the time, it’s just that after I’ve spent all day juggling it around to fit toddler + work things in, I just want to crash on the sofa of an evening and hit up my homies in the q*bee irc / stick another House DVD on.


I had a tooth out last week. It was one I’d had a root canal on in 2006. Consider the dentist at the time said it was a close thing and may need to come out, I don’t think managing another 5 years was too bad. Let this be a lesson to you kiddies: if you spend your teenage years eating crap and not brushing, your teeth will die. (That and the hyperemesis, but short of not having kids there was no getting ’round that.) Anyway, extraction… worse than childbirth. It didn’t hurt, it was just terrifying. I’m a nervous patient anyway — I get butterflies if I’m just going in for a check-up — so the whole “ripping tooth out of mouth” thing was too much. At least you get something to show for it out of giving birth!


My driving test is next week. Next week. It’s hard to believe I started lessons this time last year. FYI, I don’t recommend taking one 1-hour lesson a week. By the time the next week rolls around you’ve forgotten what you learned the week before. If I were to start over I think I’d take 2 hourly lessons from the start, possibly twice a week. I started taking 2 hour lessons a few months ago and I think it was then I actually started taking things in. According to the Direct.gov website, those who pass have had 47 hours of instructed practice and 20 private. I’ve only had instructed lessons but I’m about on par for average (bit over?)

Oh, toddlerhood!

Isabel is withholding again. She’s back on the lactulose, but we’re already giving her more than the previous dose and it’s not yet working (that is, it’s making her go, but not often enough to prevent the withholding and help her ‘forget’). Docs have talked about prescribing Movicol but aren’t willing to do this until she’s 2. Apart from the obvious problems this can cause internally if left, it’s so hard to watch my happy, smart little girl turn into a grumpy lump unwilling to talk / walk / do anything while we’re waiting on a poo. I’m also concerned about the impact this is likely to have on moving on from nappies. She’s already recognising when she’s wet, can undress herself, asks for her nappy off first thing etc so we’re hitting many of the ‘ready for potty’ signs, but I don’t want to rush things and start the bloody cycle all over again.

Talking of Isabel. Sleep, oh beautiful sleep. This is a big one, probably worthy of a blog post of its own but without the time to spare for that, I will say: Isabel sleeps through the night now (95% of the time). She started sleeping longer patches around 16 months and by 18-19 months was going through all or most of the night. This is A Big Deal in parenting circles (seriously) because apparently the worthiness of your parenting is directly proportional to the amount your child sleeps. [roll eyes] Anyway, after having been quite vocal in the past on “cry it out” / “controlled crying” techniques to get even tiny babies to sleep unaided (in case you missed it, I think it’s bloody cruel) I can finally say FUCK YOU to the co-sleeping / gentle parenting naysayers. My kid learnt to sleep all by herself, no “training” necessary. Now just to stop her from kicking me in the head as she performs ‘snow angels’ in bed…


I’ve moved my posts from jemturner.co.uk back to here. I liked having a blog where I could be more geeky and mention more work-related stuff but it was adding another level of stress to have to maintain a separate site. I’m going to drop a standard “here’s what I do, here’s how to contact me” page on jemturner.co.uk and do the rest from here. It goes hand in hand with adopting the tagline “on parenting, pets and PHP” which alliterates nicely. :) (You may have noticed me farting about with the title on the homepage for a while…)

…aaand, that’s all (for now) folks!

Amazing Mama / Midwifery Blog

I wasn’t originally going to post this link, and settled for sharing it privately with a couple of friends. However, after having spent several hours immersed in it this evening I can’t NOT share it:

Navelgazing Midwife

It’s not often I enjoy reading a blog as much as I have this one, particularly ones about aspects of childbirth and parenting. Most of the blogs I read that are pro-breastfeeding / natural parenting etc become repetitive, and many are patronising or condescending towards those who choose to meander from the crunchiest path possible (“you VACCINATE? gosh, you must be able to see the mercury emanating from your child”, etc). To me, reading her experiences with birth are as much about feminism and supporting women as they are about the actual process of birth.

The honest approach of this amazing lady — who is a mum, an experienced midwife and doula — is just so refreshing to read. Love it.

Sat in the car…

…next to Izz, who’s fast asleep in her car seat. Typing feels weird, because the skin on my fingers has been shredded from shovelling gravel and lifting concrete.

We went out to try and buy Isabel a slide yesterday, and while we couldn’t find one (end of season, all shops seem to be swapping garden lines for other stuff) we did find a batch of turf on offer. And so, with our long term plan to turf the garden and the unwillingness to pass up on a bargain, we bought it… 21 rolls. (Note: without measuring the garden.)

And so we’re turning this:

back garden

into (yes, ok, it’s photoshopped. badly. come on, I’m using a touchpad!):

So, as well as not measuring, here’s some other things we didn’t do:

  • Look at/check how much gravel was actually in the back garden
  • Check how the stone patio circle thing was put in place
  • Look up how to lay turf

Discovering that you have an area of about 1.8m x 3m covered by 6 inches of gravel and a patio stuck in place with 3 inches of concrete and another 2 of builders sand, after you’ve already bought the turf? Incentive to work harder, ha. We’re 3/4 done…

Bitten off more than we could chew? Perhaps. But it was a bargin! ;)

Useful (cool) icon finding site

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to find some obscure UK debit card icon, or a certain size of twitter icon (whatever) for work… I have an Icons folder for saving sets that I probably wouldn’t be able to find easily again:

(Like my desktop wallpaper? It’s from vladstudio)

And yet all along, there existed Iconfinder. Either I’m the last person to know about the icon search engine or it’s the world’s worst publicised website (it’s apparently existed since 2007?!) Either way, it’s top of my 2011 cool list.*

* this list is purely imaginary