The Great Boys’ School Shoes Mystery (Tesco v Clarks Stomposaurus)

Right, seeing as no-one is sending me free stuff (the WHOLE point for goodness sake of setting up a blog), I’m just going to write about products that amaze and astound me. And disappoint me. And confuse me.

To start somewhere, rather than the nowhere I begin most of my blog posts with, I’m going to begin with School Shoes. Specifically boys’ school shoes.

Now, you may think you know about shoes.

You may think you know about boys.

But let me tell you now, dear readers, until you have taken them out of the cardboard sleeve, pricked the film lid and thoroughly mixed 1. boys, 2. school and 3. shoes, you most certainly won’t have experienced the delicious combined delights of 1. shock, 2. amazement and 3. despair, associated with this essential item of school kit.

I had happily thought, before the 5yr old started school last year, that I knew about boys and that I knew about shoes. I innocently believed that I’d seen the worst of it, that it may *cough, cough* even get a little better as he got older. Afterall, he’d walk in rivers, stomp in poo, drag his trainers on the concrete behind his bike and scooter, stick twigs and stones into the eyelets of any sensible looking foot covering device and just occasionally use his shoes as makeshift grenades by filling them with stones and dirt and chucking them over the long-suffering neighbour’s fence.

But no.

No, no, no.

Think of the above as the honeymoon period of the heady combination of both ‘boy’ and ‘shoe ownership’.

Now, I still have NO IDEA what happens at school. But after the past year, I can only imagine that all schools have some sort of secret ‘SHOE DESTRUCTION LAB’ beneath the school hall. That Mrs Pemberton-Smythe, the otherwise respectable looking volunteer librarian, downs her spectacles the moment all parents have left the premises and morphs into The Shoe Destroyer. That all boys are made to take their shoes off after registration and line them up outside the classroom for collection. At which point I’m presuming they must be collected by the mild mannered librarian and subjected to a good 6 hours of SAS grade training. I’m imagining bombs. I’m imagining shoes being dragged behind cars for 3 to 4 hours at a time. I’m imagining shoe water torture. I’m imagining war zones.

This is the *only* explanation for the state of school shoes. THE ONLY ONE.

So anyway, I’ve got there in the end – school shoes review!

Hurrah!

I can almost hear the excited intake of breath as you can’t quite wait to read further.

So in September 2013 I purchased one £10 pair of school shoes from Tescos. I thought, why spend more? I thought, ‘these look ok’. I thought, bugger it, the shirts are only £3 for 2, why not the shoes? I also figured that £10 a term was still less over the year than one pair of ‘decent’ shoes. And yes, OK, I’m a tight arse.

Anyway, they lasted three weeks. But I made him wear them until Christmas. So that’s about 14 weeks. Bad, bad, bad Mummy. Then I had to give in. The Shoe Destroyer had well and truly worked her magic. There was practically no shoe left. Just a bit of velcro attached to a small bit of rubber.

So then I thought, OK, Bad Mummy, deep breath, let’s try what the good parents do. Let’s go to Clarks. £36 later and a near hyperventilation when told the price (I’ve never paid that for ANY shoes), I emerged with a pair of Black Clark’s Stomposaurus school shoes.

These:

I was particularly attracted to the rubber bit over the front of the shoe as the Shoe Destroyer seems to go for this bit in particular when conductiong her evil and nasty tests.

Two terms later and they look like this:

photo 1 (2) photo 1 photo 2 (2) photo 2 photo 3 (2) photo 3 photo 4 (2) photo 4

Compared to the £10 shoes, this is marginally better (although I wish I’d taken photos now for comparison) and they have had twice the wear (two terms v one). But then they were nearly 4 times the price.

Is it good enough?

Main Shoe Destroyer points for me are:

1. Soles – these have almost completely worn off. The slick tyre effect just ensures that his knees are also getting increasingly worn (character building). These need to be harder wearing. No, not his knees.

2. Fastenings – these have split in two so that there are flappy bits at the end which means he can’t really do them up. Without MUCH moaning and complaining and gnashing of teeth. These need to be more than double stitched. In fact, a lot of the stitching has come away – this needs to be stronger generally.

On the positive side, the toe protection has worked a treat even if he has worn this down.

But but but, these would not have lasted an entire year so that would be at least £72 (£36 x 2) for the year versus £30 (£10 x 3) for a cheapo pair each term, which I could then at least size correctly each term rather than buying one pair a *little* big in September…. (yes, I know, I’m bad, bad bad old Mummy).

So, what will the Shoe Destroyer get to test her skills on next term?

The jury is currently deliberating. Watch this space.

Bad Mummy x x

Posted in Holidays, Homes, Parenting, Schools, Work | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bad Mummy Guide to Weaning

Well, it even starts badly. Baby is only 5 and a bit months.

Quite clearly I shouldn’t be discussing such a topic already. Slapped hand.

Because, of course, breast or formula milk alone is sufficient to meet your baby’s nutritional requirements until at least 6 months. And early weaning can cause digestive issues, asthma, diabetes, earthquakes, cholera, plants dying in the garden and most importantly, something that is not mentioned often enough, an awful lot of mess for Mummy and Daddy.

Oh yes.

Anyway, little girl baby is obviously far more advanced than little boy baby was. This shouldn’t have surprised me, she is a female afterall. We do have a track record of being far cleverer than our male counterparts.

Sitting at the table from about 4 months, she has been looking much like a baby blue tit when its mother returns to the nest. Refusing any offer of milk and watching people guzzling like a hungry hawk.

Anyway, I resisted until just gone 5 months.

What I wanted to do was to blame this all on the 5 year old. And yes, 5-year-old-led-weaning has definitely played a part in the chaos that is about to be described but before I berate the others in my life, I should hold my hand up to committing the first faux-pas and also include many of those who should probably know a lot better.

ENTER MUMMY AND THE PEANUTS

I love nuts. Absolutely love them. The idea of a child with nut allergies is something akin to a child I may have to donate to the nearest children’s home.

Anyway, as you are probably aware, the advice on nuts is plentiful and contradictory. I have therefore gone with excess nut consumption throughout pregnancy to, in my own mind (and devoid of any medical fact), create a Nut Resistant Child.

It worked (anecdotes creating facts) with Child One so I decided that the first food that Child Two should sample should be peanut butter. Peanuts, oil, sugar and salt. What better as a first food? Nutritious and tasty. Better than an al dente carrot stick, surely?

So I popped some on my finger and inserted into the gummy orifice.

I nearly lost my finger. Victory.

PNB

ENTER AN AUNTY AND THE PROFITEROLES & CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Creamy Filling (52%), Chocolate Flavoured Sauce (17%), Wheat Flour, Egg, Palm Oil, Salt. Creamy Filling contains: Reconstituted Skimmed Milk, Coconut and Palm Kernel Oil, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Egg, Dried Whole Milk, Emulsifier: Acetic Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids; Stabiliser: Carboxy Methyl Cellulose; Salt. Chocolate Flavoured Sauce contains: Sugar, Water, Dark Chocolate (2.5%)(Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Emulsifier: Ammonium Phosphatides; Flavouring), Cocoa Powder, Crème Fraîche, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Emulsifier: Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids; Gelling Agent: Carrageenan.”

This was behind my back but the little chocolate smile gave her (both of them) away. And, thanks to some dubious shopping venues frequented by said Aunty, I suspect the origin of the non freshly cooked product as being somewhere even Bad Mummy doesn’t frequent… ICELAND.

For those happy innocents, no, not the country.

I am not Googling Carboxy Methyl Cellulose for my own sanity.

preENTER GRANDAD AND TESCO EVERYDAY VALUE STRAWBERRY FLAVOUR SPLITS

Partially Reconstituted Skimmed Milk Concentrate, Water, Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Oil, Whey Powder, Flavourings, Colours (Beetroot Red, Curcumin, Beta-Carotene), Stabilisers (Guar Gum, Carob Gum), Citric Acid, Emulsifier (Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids)

This was another one that I found about in retrospect.

“Look how much she’s had!” shouted a delighted grandparent running in from outside with not much more than a gooey wooden stick in his hand.

STSPLITS
ENTER DADDY AND SMOKED AND SUGARED GAMMON

Well, what can I say here? At least I cooked it myself.

I turn my back for an instant and she’d cleverly manoeuvred to Daddy’s knee and was suckling on a crispy bit of salted gammon.

“Look at her go” was the only comment Daddy made as he looked proudly on.

At least she’s not sucking the salt of pistachio shells or licking sea water off her arm yet. Like my five year old. “I like salt, Mummy”.

ENTER FIVE YEAR OLD BROTHER – BEER BATTERED ONION RINGS, OVEN CHIPS AND QUAVERS

No, this wasn’t his dinner but I do understand your thought process.

These are items I have found her munching on over the course of the past two months courtesy of her big brother.

In fact, I believe the onion ring may have predated her peanut butter experience. She actually performed her first giggle as the Quaver dissolved on her tongue.

ovenchips quavers onion ring

________________________________________________________________

So anyway, after she’d successfully managed to consume all of the above, I decided that I may as well start the whole weaning process.

I mean, what possible harm can a few bits of organic fruit and the odd floret of broccoli do that Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids can’t?

Let the fun commence.

Bad Mummy x x x

Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Babies and their Mad Mothers

May 9th – only a month(ish) since the last post.

A pat on the back to me. Oh yes indeed. Maternity leave is full of so much popping to the shops for some bread and watching daytime television and running my moonlighting business (shhhhhh) that I really do need to get back to ‘proper’ work in order to sort this blog out properly.

Anyway, I digress. As ever.

Since having a new baby, I am once again finding myself completely bemused at the utter pickle seemingly reasonable women in their 30s get themselves into when they have a baby.

Professional women – lawyers, teachers, accountants, scientists, doctors – they have a baby and then, for reasons unknown to mankind, turn into madwomen who doubt themselves at every turn and become incapable of arriving anywhere on time.

It is odd beyond belief.

A baby is not a complicated item of kit. It has no long instruction manual because – STOP THE CLOCKS – it doesn’t need one. It eats. It sleeps. It makes strange noises. It lets various products escape its orifices. That’s it. There is no big secret.

They don’t even need cleaning out once a week like guinea pigs.

It’s not a grenade with the pin removed nor will they explode on touch.

So why, oh why, oh why, do some women (and it *is* women in the main) act like they’ve been given a secret mission by MI5 to decode Russian military strategy?

And why, oh why, oh why, do they (these women) make everything so bloody complicated?

A couple of examples:

1. Warming Bottles / Food

Let’s get this straight, I don’t care whether you bottle, breast or feed your baby full fat coke but in the context of feeding I see previously reasonable women either;

1. buying bottle warmers, or
2. boiling a kettle, filling a bowl and then putting a bottle of milk in the water in order to warm it up

Their brains have been completely addled, quite clearly. What is wrong with 10 seconds in the microwave?

“The box says no”.
“The box says it causes hotspots”.

Remember, these are previously intelligent women who wouldn’t believe a box over their own brains. If they thought back to heating soup in the microwave or heating milky drinks in the microwave, what do you do when you take something out of the microwave? Ah ha, that’s right – you stir/shake it! To get rid of those pesky ‘hotspots’. And then, and this is obviously beyond their current thought patterns, you test it to see if it’s the right temperature.

Freaking rocket science, quite clearly.

2. Naps / Sleep

This is a great one. Often, when talking to new mothers, their entire movement patterns are dictated by ‘naps’.

“Oh no, I can’t come then because Jonnykins naps between 11.34am and 12.56am”.
“I would love to, but Quentin goes to bed at 8.39pm”.
“I couldn’t get out of the house because Candida was still asleep”.

“Eh?”

Again – STOP PRESS – baby is not boss – YOU are. If you want to go for coffee, go to work, pick up your older child, the baby (yes, even little Quentin), will have to jolly well lump it. And if they are tired, they will fall asleep again. Or they’ll just have to bloody well wait.

I’d love to waltz into work an hour and a half late and announce, “well, I just didn’t wake up – you don’t want to disturb my routine now do you?”. Or not take my son to school because none of us have woken up just yet.

Remember – these are previously sensible women who held down demanding and professional jobs.

Completely and utterly baffling.

 

And what worries me the most I suppose, is that if they act like this with a ‘simple’ baby – what on earth are they going to do when Quentin is brought back home by the police at 16, drunk and stoned, and facing a shoplifting charge?

But maybe that will never happen – because after all, Quentin had a lovely early sleep routine and his bottles were never warmed in the microwave.

Anyway, must go, need to collect the 5 year old.

But damnation on a stick – the baby’s asleep! What shall I do?

Hey ho, I’m sure the teachers won’t mind waiting.

BadMummy x x x

Posted in Parenting, Schools, Work | 1 Comment

The Two Essential Myths of Baby Ownership

I have been neglectful, and not only of the baby.

No, my blog is suffering from my new found freedom – maternity leave. I have been busy starting a new business and I’m hoping to build it up a little before returning to (boo, hiss) proper work. This, together with repeats of Homes Under the Hammer and Heir Hunters and I have had surprisingly little time for writing bollocks on here. Oh, yes, and I’ve got the baby.

Mustn’t forget the baby. She is 13 weeks old now. And still, despite my protests, has a fanny rather than a winkle.

Anyway, since having my second mini human, I have been encountering the same old baby myths that are spouted by those whose favourite past-times are hugging trees, eating couscous and partaking in group belly-button gazing.

These myths are dangerously disseminated across the middle classes. Like tapeworms across the Foundation Stage.

So, in my new (self-appointed) role of Baby Whisperer, I see it as my duty to dispel them.

1. Cloth Nappies Are Cheaper

This is, of course, quite true if by ‘cheaper’ you actually mean ‘costs more money’.

I still get told this by well meaning friends, whilst sitting in their houses, drinking tea, and surrounded by putrid nappy buckets.

Let’s look at the facts. And yes, let’s forget the thought of 6-7 minging, poo and wee stained, smelly nappies being kept in the conservatory.

180 nappies in Tesco’s (normally I’m an Aldi person but these were my latest purchase) are currently £15. Conservatively, these will last me (well, not me, the ginger baby), one month. So £15 x 12 months = £180 a year.

A kit of 10 Bum Genius Nappies is currently £140. I’m being generous here as I suspect you’d need more than 10 over the first 2.5 years. But anyway, 10. That’s without the buckets, liners, covers and rest of the malarkey.  Let’s not even begin to cost that.

Now the NPower website tells me that running the washing machine for 1 hour costs approximately 50p. Again, I’m being generous, as I suspect you’d have a wash cycle longer than 1 hour for poo. But still, 50p. You’d need to do a wash a day (this is what my ‘re-useable’ friends tell me – but in any case if it was a longer wash every two days, same thing), so thats 50p x 365 = £182.50

1 litre of water costs 0.0034p (South East Water website), a normal washing machine uses 45 litres per wash (waterwise.org.uk). So 45 x 0.0034p x 365 = £55.84.

So over 2.5 years:

Disposable Nappies : £180 x 2.5 = £450

Cloth Nappies: £140 + (£182.5 x 2.5 = £455) + (£55.84 x 2.5 = £139) = £734

Rather a win for the disposable brigade I feel. In fact, a MASSIVE win, especially since I have been over generous in cloth nappy start up costings and have not factored in a cost for carrying poo around in your handbag.

Now then, now then, now then, as a once revered old gent used to say, I do know that there will be some reading this, choking on their organic, caffeine-free Earl Grey, and spluttering over their copy of The Guardian, ‘BUT WILL SOMEONE NOT THINK OF THE ENVIRONMENT’. Well yes, that is indeed another argument – the environmental cost. However, this has been demonstrated to not be nearly as significant as previously thought when the impact of extra electricity generation and water production costs have been accounted for.

2. Breast Feeding is Better For Baby

This is a difficult one. But quite clear. And let me be honest here, I do and have previously breast fed. But EVERY SINGLE RECENT STUDY shows quite clearly that when the effect of maternal influence (education, social class etc) is taken into account, there is NO DIFFERENCE between breast fed babies and those who are (choke on that tea again) formula fed. Honestly, the way the media and ‘baby cafes’ currently act, you’d think you were injecting your baby with heroin rather than opening a small carton of Aptamil.

The big difference here is indeed cost. Formula feeding is decidedly more pricey than flopping out a breast.

And again let me be clear, if people want to flop breasts out, then let them. If people want to flop any body bit out, then let them, but do we really need group breast feeding gatherings? Silly people will always say silly things, and just because an immature teenage boy gets overly excited and makes a crass and ill-educated comment about seeing a nipple, does it not rather defeat the point for lots of ladies to gather together and all get their breasts out? In fact, I’m increasingly sure that many of these comments are deliberately made to ensure a group of ladies meet and get their breasts out in the nearest precinct.

————————

So there we have it – two baby myths that have become totally confused. I think the initial press release must have had a serious typo.

What they meant to say was:

1. Breast Feeding is Cheaper

2. Cloth Nappies Are Better for Baby (infinitely more stylish).

 

Bad Mummy x x

 

Posted in Parenting, Politics, Pregnancy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

My daughter is not a princess.

[apologies in advance but this topic makes me swear and rant incoherently]

It’s all women’s fault.

I mean, it must be. Yes, you out there, who are primarily responsible for buying all the girly tat.

The fact that when you walk into ANY, and I mean ANY, children’s clothing department, all baby and toddler girls clothes make me want to throw up.

Even if I haven’t eaten anything in the last few hours, a small amount of bile rises to the back of my throat.

Pinks, pastels, bows, stick on flowers, princess produce and absolutely no bold colours or stripes.

So obviously I’ve been shopping in the boys’ section. But why the distinction? Why the buggery are bold colours (I’m talking blues, reds, greens, yellows) boyish? Why not just have a ‘baby’ section? If someone wants to dress their little girl like some sort of bloody fairy princess with tights, a ridiculous flowered hairband and a moronic tutu well more fool them – but let them do it I suppose.

Reluctantly, despite them clearly needing locking up, I do still believe in some form of free thought (an argument for another time is whether these people are actually capable of free thought…). And, if I try and look on the bright side, if we didn’t have girly girls, I suppose us non girly girls wouldn’t seem so frickin’ awesome. Someone explain these women to me. Please.

But lord above, I love my family and friends, but they know I am the least girly girl in the history of females on this earth. I suppose at 37 I’m probably more of a woman, but either suits. So why, why on earth do hideous pink things keep being sent through the post for my daughter? Why would any self respecting female want to wear make-up, jewellery or a dress? Far less a baby. What’s wrong with a sleepsuit? And no, not one with “I’m Mummy’s Princess” emblazoned upon it.

I just fundamentally resent that I have to shop in the boys’ section for any semblance of decent clothing. Why don’t girls deserve colour? Why must they be pushed towards highly impractical garments that are quite clearly meant to make them conform to society’s version of ‘pretty’?

Bugger it all I say. My baby is not pretty. She’s got a scabby face, dry ginger skin and she dribbles a lot. She shits herself. Her neck flaps often smell of slightly sour milk.

My daughter is not a princess.

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Innovative Uses For A Newborn Baby

So I thought I’d try, in the interest of spanking new parents across the globe, to write a useful post. (NB. That’s ‘spanking’ as in ‘new’, not as in ‘with whips’).

This is not, as my two regular subscribers will know, my normal style, so please excuse any newbie tipster mistakes I will invariably make.

‘Write about what you know’ goes the old mantra. Well, I know what I use my baby for, so thought I’d share my handy newborn tips. Parenting tips, if you like.

I’m hopeful that this will help hundreds of thousands (perhaps overly optimistic?) of new parents across the globe.

1. Draft excluder

DSC_1627 (683x1024)

Obviously best if you have longish baby although if you also borrow a friend’s child, you should be able to cover the width of a standard door with ease.  Please note that babies are better than normal draft excluders as they emit natural heat in addition to blocking drafts.

2. Tender and Succulent Roast For A Small Number Of Guests

1

Veal-like consistency and remarkably tender.
45mins at gas mark 6, remove baby’s clothing, rub with butter and baste every 10 minutes or so. Serve with vegetable of choice.

3. Cat Toy

I did try for a photo of this one, but dropped the camera as the cat ninja jumped me.

Essentially, tie bits of string and ribbon to baby’s feet, and put ham deep inside baby’s sleepsuit (onesie for my US readers).

Hey presto, cat is amused for HOURS.

4. Lego Base Plate

DSC_1633 (1024x683)

Surprisingly versatile (also works with Duplo) and builds strong sibling bonds.

(Double points to readers who got the exceedingly clever pun in that sentence).

5. Lamp Stand

DSC_1629 (683x1024)

Newborn first needs lashing to an upright pole for stability. This look creates an interesting centre piece for a modern living room.

6. Hot Water Bottle

2

Add to baby to bed one hour before you want to settle down. Cold sheets will be brought up to body temperature. Uses no electricity and is not a fire hazard. Remove newborn before sleeping. Do not leave for longer than one hour – they can become smelly and leak fluid if left in the bed for longer periods.

7. Fabric Softener

DSC_1634 (1024x683)

Love that newborn smell? Can’t stop sniffing your baby? Add newborn to rinse cycle.
Clothes will smell of fresh baby and baby will emerge clean. Double win.

————————————————————————————————————

Hope I’ve been of help,
Your obedient servant,

BAD MUMMY x x

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

“It’s Like Throwing A Sausage Up The High Street”

Why the Good Lord thought to bless me with a ginger baby, I do not rightly know.

I feel for the poor mite already.

I am one of those awful people that self-deprecates and this sadly means, that by association, I other-deprecate (really not sure of my ongoing use of the English language here) those close to me, those who, really, deep down, I love very much indeed.

My poor man has had years of this – mainly, my pointing out to him that he’s little. Well, in particular, that he has small extremities – you know, head, feet, hands, and… ah-hem… the other extremity. It’s not his fault, and actually, he’s not really that little (c. 5ft 10ish – no, not his willy…) but he’s not who I envisioned myself ending up with. I had always thought (in my innocent teenage years) that my future man creature would be tall, dark and handsome. The actuality is smallish, gingerish and normal looking.

Please don’t feel too sorry for him though as recently he’s very keen to point out, that considering the nature of my recent 30 minute birth experience, that his winkie wouldn’t seem so small if I wasn’t blessed with a bucket for a fanny. Like throwing a sausage up the High Street so I’m told…

sausage

I’ll also hasten to add that I’m more than normal looking too. As are the children. Well suited you see. I suspect a tall dark and handsome man wouldn’t have settled for my good self. And, as I’ve commented before, if I had wildly attractive children, people may think I’d nicked them.

However, for me, if there’s something to comment on, or to put my foot in about, I’ll generally do it. So, three weeks ago, I had a ginger baby. Now, to put this in context, I really like ginger hair. My Scottish ancestry means many family members (including my father) are similarly blessed. However, can I stop commenting on it?

No, I bloody can’t.

I sing songs about it, take photos of it glinting in its full-on gingerness to post on social media and I introduce the her as ‘The Ginger Baby’ or ‘Meet My Carrot’. I then usually add that ginger is caused by a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein.

ginger baby(my ginger baby)

It’s not that she doesn’t have enough to contend with, what with my hatred of all things girly (see http://badmummydiary.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/give-me-a-willy-anyday/), so today, for instance, she’s dressed in a dinosaur camouflage suit.

My son was similarly mocked (although his hair is totally nondescript in colour) as he has quite (well, ok then, very) large ears. So what do I do? I take photos of him back-lit by the sun so that they light up red like magic dumbo ears….

428578_10150653544634841_824172050_n(no, they’re not large at all… they just light up like flares when the sun’s behind them…)

However, as I am quick to point out to the Man, my son and will do to The Carrot when she’s old enough – I only mock those I love.

So that’s OK then… isn’t it?

love,

BAD MUMMY x x x

baby(1 week old – in black and white, you can’t see the ginger…)

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments