Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Things We Don't Want to Hear: Mummy, I've Seen a Boy's Willy

This afternoon, after school, Tall Daughter and I took Tess out for a walk.  On the path in front of us was a crude graffiti drawing of a penis. 

TD (aged 9) asked:  What's that supposed to be?
Me:  It's supposed to be a willy (yeah I said 'willy' instead of penis, so sue me).
TD:  *giggles*  I've seen a boy's willy and it didn't look like that.
TD: Yes, I've seen Harry's willy.
Me:  *Deep breath, deep breath*  Who. Is. Harry?  (In the short time it took her to answer I wondered how long it would take to get a shotgun license).
TD:  He's Jane's grandson. (Jane is my ex-husband's fiance)
Me:  Deep sigh of relief when I remember that Harry is only 7 months old......


Monday, 28 September 2009

Review: Ecover Cleaning Products

I occasionally get asked to review products on here, but only do so if they are of particular interest to me. The only items I've reviewed on here so far have been the Disney blu-ray films courtesy of Think Parents, but I'm happy to do more if they appeal to me.  Just in case there are any PR people reading this, I'm up for anything involving chocolate, copious amounts of wine and weekends in posh hotels - preferably all at the same time.  Ahem...

When I'm not touting for freebies, I try to be ecologically sound.  I recycle as much as possible; I take old clothes to the charity shop rather than throwing them away; we turn off all electrical items at the mains rather than leave them on stand-by and when I buy new goods I try (financial limitations withstanding) to buy the most energy efficient ones I can find.

So when I recently saw a request on British Mummy Bloggers for people to review the Ecover cleaning products this seemed like a good one to do. I've used Eco cleaning products in the past but found many of them to be a bit hit-and-miss, so I was interested to read that the Eco products I would be reviewing have been found to be 'as effective as the petrochemical alternatives'.

Last week, after a frustrating few days when the delivery company kept ignoring my instructions to leave the goods with a neighbour, I opened the big package to find a green plastic trug (made from recycled bottle tops no less) full of cleaning products. There was also a pair of Traidcraft rubber gloves to use when testing the chemical products which also came in the trug, and eco cleaning cloths. Now I was ready to test.

  • First up was the Ecover Power Cleaner versus the Cillit Bang Power Cleaner Degreaser. I thought it might be an idea to test this on a dirty, greasy oven hob and by sheer coincidence found an absolutely mingin' one in my own kitchen. Fancy that?! (Kim and Aggie would have been agast...) To make sure it was a fair test I used the same type of cleaning sponge for each products, and spent 5 minutes only on each side of the hob - even though it needed longer...oh, the shame.  The Cillit Bang was used on the left hand side, and the Ecover on the right hand side. I've never been tempted to buy Cillit Bang products in the past because the ads always put me off with their boast of  being so powerful that I imagine plants, animals and small children will be damaged by its fumes. That didn't happen thankfully, but I can confirm that the Ecover product performed as well as the Cillit Bang cleaner. Not only that, but the eco cleaner had a pleasant smell unlike the chemical smell of Cillit Bang.
  • The Ecover Window & Glass Cleaner also matched the effectiveness of the Mr Muscle Window Cleaner, although perhaps the Ecover product had the slight edge.  It was less streaky and again, the odour was preferable to the chemical cleaner.
  • The Ecover Multi Surface Spray Cleaner was also as good as the Flash Multi Surface Spray.  It worked well on kitchen worktops, paintwork and sinks.
  • The Ecover All Purpose Cleaner v the Flash All Purpose Dilutable.  I cleaned the kitchen floor with these (my house has never seen so much cleaning in one weekend).  Once again the Ecover product was the winner for me, as not only did it clean really well but I knew I wasn't emptying a bucketfull of nasties down the drain and into the waterways afterwards.  No contest.
Plus points of using Ecover products? 
No nasty chemicals - all the cleaning properties are from plant and mineral ingredients with a handfull of fairy dust thrown in for good measure.  OK, I made the last bit up.
Kind to skin - I get eczema on my hands, and usually have to wear rubber gloves for cleaning but when testing the eco products I am pleased to say I had no adverse reactions to them.  I did have an adverse reaction to the cleaning though, and had to have a sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit.
They actually work!  - I like to do my bit for the environment but like most people still I want the eco options to be as good as the standard ones.  Well, these are.  Result.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Could you, would you, use The Ladybag?

We all know how efficient Germans are, and even though it seems like a cliché they really are that efficient.  I feel able to speak with some authority on the subject because I worked as an au-pair in Germany for 2 years when I was younger (that's another story...) and they are nothing if not pragmatic.  I knew the Germanic way of life was getting to me the day I waited for a train and complained to the guard when it was a whole 2 minutes late.  I know, and I'm from the land of British Rail or whatever it is now, where you're grateful for the train actually turning up on the same day. 

Along with being stereotypically practical and pünktlich Germans are also often labelled with other characteristics, such as being humourless.   I'd have to say no to this, although it can take months of practice and a following wind to get a laugh out of a German. And what about them being the most unsexy nation in, quite possibly.

So I wasn't so much surprised by the recent promotion of The Ladybag®, more astonished it had taken them so long to spring it onto a bemused world. 

The ad is beside itself with excitement: The Wait Is Over - The First Pocket Urinal for Women!  And you didn't even know you needed one did you? Well, you did and here it is.

The Ladybag contains a gel which can absorb up to 2.2 pints of liquid (ewww...) and can be disposed of easily and without harm to the environment.  "It can be used in cars, or to avoid dirty toilets or at open-air festivals when you don't want to queue. You can just nip round the back of the toilet and use this," Eva Tinter, who invented the Ladybag, told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.

"There's never been a product like this in this form."  You don't say!

The ad continues:  You can use the ladybag® while standing, sitting or squatting. For clean hands once you're finished, a moist towelette is included. Convenient and clean, from start to finish.

I mean, I get see the point of it and I'm sure it has some very practical uses, but I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy any.  But that's me. What I want to know, dear readers, is whether you will be buying the Ladybag for long car journeys or for when you daughters get caught short?  Do tell, I'm all ears....

P.S.  There is, of course, a male version of the bag.  The Roadbag is already quite popular in Europe and has sold over 400,000 units.  But then men are more anatomically convenient than women aren't they?  And more gross....

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Over The Top? Moi?

I've been tagged by Very Bored Housewife over in deepest Catalonia in Spain,  who sent me this award.  Thank you!  VBH is a newly discovered blogger to me but I will be making regular visits in the future. 

I also received the same award from the fabulous, all-singing-all-dancing Emily at Maternal Tales.  Emily caused much hilarity in our house recently when she posted a photo of her daughter's poo.  No, really, I'm not making this up...go and have a look for yourself, it's true! Thank you Emily, for the award and the laughter!

The rules for the Over the Top Award are as follows:

Use only one word to answer the following questions. Copy the questions and change the answers to suit you then pass it on.

1. Where is your mobile phone? Kitchen
2. Your hair? Messy
3. Your mother? Missed
4. Your father? Hospital
5. Your favourite food? Seafood
6. Your dream last night? Vivid
7. Your favourite drink? Cider
8. Your dream/goal? Fulfilment
9. What room are you in? Dining
10. Your hobby? Sleeping
11. Your fear? Disability
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Alive
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Patient
15. Muffins? Chocolate
16. Wish list item? Holiday
17. Where did you grow up? Liverpool
18. Last thing you ate? Samosa
19. What are you wearing? Pyjamas
20. Your TV? On
21. Your pets? Cute
22. Friends? Loved
23. Your life? Good
24. Your mood? Tired
25. Missing someone? Mum
26. Vehicle? Scenic
27. Something you’re not wearing? Bra
28. Your favourite store? Online
29. Your favourite colour? Red
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday
32. Your best friend? Unsure
33. One place that you go to over and over? Work...
34. One person who emails you regularly? Brother
35. Favourite place to eat? Home

I'm going to throw this one over to my blogging twin Tessa Scoffs who can fit a lot into a few words, so let's see how she does with this!  Go Tessa!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Wordless Wednesday, even though it's only Monday....

I'm in love.....

.....come to Mummy

Image of Green & Black's Raisin and Hazlenut Chocolate from here - you can also order from the same website, which is handy if you want to send me a bulk delivery.  Address on request.  No questions asked.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Dear Members of the Jury, I submit for your consideration evidence of the damage to my property.
Exhibit A: hole dug near garden boundary (possible escape route?)
Exhibit B: Mud and holes where grass and plants used to be
Exhibit C: Even more damage:  holes were lawn used to be
The Suspect
You, the Jury, are asked to be lenient with this first time offender.  Bear in mind she comes from a good family and is suitably remorseful (look at that little face!)  Thank you.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Being a Single Parent part 4: The positive side of raising children on your own

I imagine this post title may have come as a surprise to some of you - how on earth can there be any plus sides to being a single parent?  What about the financial struggles, the fatigue, the loneliness....well, yes they are still there, but it's not all bad. Very little is said about the advantages of being a single parent, but believe me they do exist.  I've mentioned the good points of single parenthood before, but I'd like to add to those.

  • When you're the only adult in the house, you make the rules.  Your word is law.  Well, that's the theory anyway.  Of course, as your darling offspring approach adolescence they will challenge your rules and try to introduce their own.  I have always been fairly strict with my girls having routines - for example bedtime, bathtime and mealtimes - it's a survival method so that everyone knows where and what they should be doing.  They also can't play one parent off against another "But Daddy said I could..." because there's just me.  And in this instance, it works.
  • You don't have to hide the new clothes and shoes you bought at the back of the wardrobe, before bringing them out later on and saying to your bemused other half "oh no, I've had these for ages". 
  • When your children are praised for their behaviour, manners, being a genius, etc. you can take all the credit for yourself and admit that actually, you're not doing a bad job on your own.  Society is often too quick to criticise single parents for most of society's woes, but some of us are doing OK thank you very much.
  • Wardrobe/closet space. This is important stuff here! If you're in a marriage/partnership think of the wardrobe/closet space you currently have.  Got that in your head?  Now, double it.  That's what happens when you're a single parent, and should not be dismissed as unimportant!   I get all the clothes hanging space in the wardrobe, and all of the drawers are mine, all mine too! 
  • You form an unusually strong bond with your children.  Now, I'm not saying for one moment that two parent families don't but as a single parent you have to involve your children in some of the family decision making.  My daughters are aware that we only have so much money, that I can't be in two places at once, and that I get tired.  So they get to help me decide what is important, and what our priorities as a family are. It's not all plain sailing but they are learning to take some responsibility for what goes on in their home.
  • You learn skills that may have passed you by otherwise, and so do your children.  As mentioned previously I'm a dab hand at assembling flat-pack furniture but so is The Teenager-in-waiting!  She is my assembly buddy and we do the jobs together.  Apart from the finished product she is also learning about team work, saving money and taking responsibility.  In addition, I can do most of the smaller DIY jobs myself. 
  • If you're lucky enought to have an ex who takes the children for alternate weekends, that gives you some free time!  I managed to get through 6 years of single parenthood before my ex started taking the girls for regular weekends, but now he does take them it's a very welcome break for me.  Two whole days of...well, whatever I want!  
  • You, and your children, learn about resiliance.  My motto is 'What doesn't kill me makes me stronger' and it's served me well so far.  I tell my girls that every experience - good and bad - is there to teach us something, and it's up to us whether we use those lessons wisely or not.
  • And I suppose the best part of being a happy single parent is that the children are living in a conflict free home as opposed to an unhappy one with two warring parents.
  Can any other single parents reading this add any of their own benefits?  I'd love to hear yours.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Great Read Award

The splendidly named Hot Cross Mum has taken it upon herself to give me an award.  The Great Read award no less.  Previous to this I had no reason to question her sanity but clearly questions do need to be asked. 

It's a lovely one to put on my virtual mantelpiece, and I promise to keep it dusted. Thank you HCM!  I'm very flattered to think of my blog as a great read when most of the time I seem to be rambling and more recently it's been about hospitals, illnesses and nits!  Before you know it I'll be showing you my scars...

Hot Cross Mum made a list of her 10 favourite places, and this award does seem to come with a requirement to list 10 things so I'm going to list everyday things that make me happy.
  1. The sound of children's laughter.  There's something magical about hearing children laughing, and for me, there's nothing quite like it.
  2. The smell of vanilla.  I love it, and always have candles or room sprays with a vanilla fragrance.
  3. Early morning walks with Tess.  A lovely way to start the day.
  4. Sitting down on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and a new, unopened glossy magazine.  Bliss.
  5. A chilled glass of white wine on a Friday evening. 
  6. Listening to music whilst cooking.
  7. That the Teenager-in-waiting cannot get to sleep without a goodnight kiss from me.
  8. Lying with Tall Daughter's on her bed for our bedtime chat before kissing her goodnight.
  9. Discovering a new blog, particularly one that makes me laugh.
  10. My bed.  Do I need to explain?
Of course, I have to pass the award on to blogs I also think are A Good Read, but I think there meeds to be a limit otherwise it could be a long list.  So, I'm going to choose some blogs that are new to me and come highly recommended (by me, but never mind).

Sunday, 6 September 2009

It's been a funny old week

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who gave me advice on how to get rid of our visitors, who had outstayed their welcome. I have followed some of the advice - I liked the 21 day combing diary suggested by Kelloggsville - it makes a lot of sense, and combined with leaving the conditioner in (which I hadn't done before) it seems to be working. And now that Tall Daughter is back at school her hair is tightly plaited to help keep the little blighters away from other children's heads.
  • My Dad's health continues to be a worry, and I really do appreciate your concern and questions about how he is doing. On Friday I had a call from the hospital - where he has been for almost 3 weeks now - to say his condition had deteriorated and he was now in a critical condition. I rushed to the hospital - I don't actually remember driving there, I must have been on auto-pilot - to find Dad in a very bad way, and he actually said he thought 'this might be it'. I contacted my sister and brothers to let them know what was happening, but they were all either abroad or too far away to get to the hospital any time soon, so it was just me sitting next to Dad's bed wondering what the immediate future would hold. After several hours, his condition stabilised and I was able to return home and get some sleep. He is still very weak, but amazingly enough, is still with us. As a younger man he was as strong as an ox. I think some of that residual strength is keeping him here. Either that, or total bloody-mindedness.
  • I returned to work on Wednesday and for the first time in almost 5 years felt unsettled, and that it might be time to move on. I have been thinking about a career change but am still at the initial stages of deciding which direction to go in. Will be coming back to this in the future no doubt.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

We've had visitors for over a month and they won't leave

Nits. Crawlies. Biddies. Head lice. Whatever you want to call them, those 'orrible little critters first appeared on Tall Daughter's* head while we were on holiday. We were actually sitting on a beach on a lovely sunny day, not a care in the world, and she was scratching away at her head. I had a look and.....oh my god....she was infested with the little buggers!

We left the beach early and headed for the nearest pharmacy to stock up on the necessary arsenal to blast the biddies into infinity. Only it didn't work. So a few days later, I bought a different type of lotion. And then when we got home I bought a different brand again. When the girls went on holiday to France, I handed nit duty over to my ex-husband who, impressively, looked up the words for head lice in French (les poux de tête) to use during pharmacy visits, but he also reported new outbreaks while they were away.

So far, all three of us have had them at different times over the summer break. We've all got really thick hair too, so it's quite timeconsuming to comb through everyday. I'm currently clear, but I found some new ones on Tall Daughter's head again last night. The Teenager-in-Waiting is also clear at the moment, but I keep combing her hair through every couple of days just in case. I've used lotions, mousses, sprays. I've also made sure everyone uses tea tree shampoo to wash their hair as it's a natural lice deterrent. I've bought a new, recommended nit comb and use it regularly. But we're still not clear.

I'm not prepared to admit defeat, but you're reading the blog of a desperate mother. Desperate I tell you! Take pity, I'd be very grateful for any sure-fire tips on exterminating these visitors. I'm back at work tomorrow, and the girls are back at school later this week but I want to get rid of the buggers (the nits, not my daughters) before then.
*Tall Daughter is the child formerly known as Small Daughter!