Competition: Win a LeapPad!

Christmas is under a month away now, and if you are like Elder, you are just starting to think about what to buy your own Brats after being threatened with injury by your missus who has sorted the toys for your daughter already.

One toy which is pretty much top pick for kids this year is the LeapPad 2 from LeapFrog. If your child likes messing about with your coveted and expensive iPad, then the LeapPad is the answer. Its a sturdy and well made toy which will grow with the child, and makes learning fun. It also has a camera so the child can learn how to take their own pictures and edit them too! What’s more, the boredom factor is lowered as there are simply loads of cartridges to buy depending on what your child is currently into.

You can see the full specs of this great toy here.

If you’d like to win a LeapPad 2 from LeapFrog, then you’ve come to the right place!

The Lazy Girl’s Guide has teamed up with LeapFrog to offer one lucky winner the chance to win a LeapPad 2, just by answering a simple question:

What is the name of this popular interactive dog toy sold by LeapFrog? Is it:


a) Scoot
b) Scout
c) Scott


Send your name, address and answer in an email marked “LeapPad” to:

familypanel@yahoo.co.uk

Good luck!





*Terms and Conditions
Competition closes at 6pm on MONDAY 3rd DECEMBER 2012. One entry per household. The LeapPad 2 has been kindly donated by LeapFrog UK, and the blog owner has received no payment for hosting this competition. Winner will be notified after being picked at random. No communication will be entered into. No cash alternative is available. For further information, contact the above email address.

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Onesies. What Are They All About?

I have to start this post by saying I am hardly the oracle on all things fashion related. I wear skinny jeans in winter purely as if I wear flares they a) don’t fit inside my boots and b) flap all wet and dirty round my ankles, and jumpers because its bloody cold. Such is my lack of fashion know how, I have a jumper upstairs in my wardrobe that is shiny with age but as I have had it since before I met Elder, and it still fits, I can claim to be not that different in size from when he met me. Not pointing out that the jumper used to be baggy, and is now quite snug around everywhere my formerly flat chest.

There are certain garments which baffle me though. I have laughed at bottom skimming shorts previously (although would you believe there are still girls in Maidenhead wearing these in this arctic weather we are having, they have just added Ugg boots and a Gilet to keep them warm), but there is one thing that makes me split my sides more.

Onesies.


Why? Why would you want to dress yourself as a baby? (There are places you can go to do that people, where they charge a lot of money. Apparently) 

Yes, I have heard the “they are warm” excuses- but so are hot water bottles and slankets and good old fashioned pajamas. If its really cold in doors, I wear an old sweatshirt which is huge that the Nephew left behind years ago. 


To my mind, wearing a onesie as a grown adult signifies that the owner may as well have given up on having any form of sex life. They are this generations Novelty Nightie. They are passion killers. 

Imagine if you will that, in the night, there is some sort of emergency, such as fire or flood (and face it, flooding is getting more likely with our antiquated drains). You have no chance to pick up any clothing, and a hunky Fireman is at the door, ready to man handle you to safety. Yet, instead of wearing something grown up, or just a nice pair of jamas, you look like an over grown toddler instead. 

As for those who actually venture out to the shops in these things- what the hell are you thinking? I can understand the TOWIE lot wearing them outdoors, that lot are thick and have fried their brains with too much fake tan. But I have been in my local town centre and seen perfectly sane looking people wearing one of these nasty looking things. 

Now, I put my hands up here- I did used to have a thing for wearing my pajamas to the local Maccy Ds on a Saturday whilst dying of hangover. But I was 17 or 18, and I wouldn’t do it now.

Onesies. I call an amnesty on these flammable, sexless, nasty things. We are not 12 month olds, and the only bottles we want are ones containing gin or wine.

Just say no kids.

Bloggers United-#HealingForKerry


This morning, I am a proud and humble Blogger.


You see, I do rant a bit here, about our some time howling at the moon incidents. But when it comes down to the crunch, us Bloggers can actually make a massive difference, either with charity, actions or just sending out a mass amount of tweets.

That’s what happened last night, with #HealingForKerry. One of our own, one of our talented, gorgeous bloggers is very sick, and we want her home for Christmas, where she belongs. I have followed the updates of her other half, who has gallantly taken over her blog to keep us informed. 

I was choked last night to see that, by just tweeting and retweeting, at just after 10pm #healingforKerry was a top trend on Twitter. And that takes a hell of a ot of tweets to accomplish.

I’m not a massive believer in religion, but its positive vibes which I send in the hope they will have Kerry home, just as everyone does.

So, say what you like about the spats, the in-fighting and the trolls, but when it comes down to it, we care. A lot.

Thank you.

Is It Just Me: Or Is This The Laziest Parenting Aid Ever?

The Facebook groups and Twitter feeds of Bloggers has been alive with derision today. And for once, it’s not down to us all in fighting either (I didn’t even have to hide after my awards post. Phew).

What has got us all doing a “hmm” face in disbelief? Its a new gadget that a Mumpreneur has invented and is trying to get us all excited about and review.

Its called the Mumma and Bubba Bib. 

Now, its not the awful chav sounding spelling of Mumma that has got the bloggers snorting left right and Facebook, no, its the concept.

The Mumma and Bubba Bib is, well, a bib. Which is fine right? Nope.


The bib has an attachment for a bottle. So the “bubba” can feed itself.

(Insert Face/Palm action here)


The first thing that springs to mind with this “ingenious” (loosely using that term, I can tell you) invention is that the name is going to have Trading Standards knocking. Its hardly fair to have it as a Mumma and Bubba bib is it, being that “mumma” is intended to strap poor “bubba” into it and naff off.

It brings up all kinds of lazy ass parenting questions. Seriously! Who is too damn lazy to feed their child? What the actual hell was this Mum thinking?

Apparently, she came up with the genius idea of this bib when she found that, just attaching her babies bottle to them “using a dressing gown cord”(!) meant that the pesky bottle moved and, one imagines, the just as pesky child roared with upset of where their mother  bottle had gone.

Self Feeding? Just Say No people!


I am not making this up readers, the website is here, but apparently her reasoning behind the bib are that it is a “repetitive process” and holding a bottle up for “an hour” “for months” is “frustrating.” Apparently, we should think of all that washing and ironing we need to do instead of being bored shitless holding a bloody bottle up for our frankly lazy and greedy babies.

Hell to the no love.

I loved feeding both the Brats most of the time. Its true it was a bit boring when I was tired, and I’d have rather have been asleep sometimes than trying to feed a reluctant child, true. But I did it anyway.

Its what you do. You become a Mum, and brushing your hair and making sure you have clean clothes on when you answer the door goes out the window.

How can anyone be selfish enough to begrudge feeding their child? 

I also would worry that, whilst a Mum was off doing the laundry and making herself look all pretty, the baby could choke on his or her own milk, either going down or coming back up. Littlest was a sickie baby due to his medication, so the last thing I could do was leave him to self-feed, no matter how much I wanted to avoid being covered in the same milk when he inevitably puked it back up again.

Feeding, I think the lady has failed to realise, is said to be the time when babies bond with whoever happens to be feeding them. It takes a bit of time, sure, but you just have to know that, once you become a Mum you are pretty much coming second to this little suckling bundle who is looking up into your eyes with contentment.

I really hope this invention ends up on the shelf and the Mum in question goes back to doing something worthwhile with her, supposedly stretched, time.

Like feeding her own damn child…..

Is It Just Me: Or Is Award Hunger Killing Blogging?

So, this is probably going to either go one of three ways, this post. Either it will sit here without much notice, it will cause an interesting exchange of opinions,  or it will be taken out of context and cause screaming angst in certain parties and I’ll scamper away to cover less incendiary topics again, such as Katie Price and the X Factor.

The word for the day, readers is “Awards” and what they do to usually pretty sane and intelligent people. Or bloggers, in this case.


I’ve been here (not here at this site with this name but here in the blogging sense) before the Bratlings came along, since 2006. I’ve gone from “UK rants blogger” with a lacking in UK readers following, to a Mummy Blogger (dusts self down) to being simply me again. The opinionated blogger and writer. Its a comfy fit which allows me the freedom to express a myriad of opinions, not just struggle to find something, anything,  which will entertain my readers (that’s you. Hello you) from the day to day antics of the Brats (which was getting non-existent as they got older. Sorry Brats).

Since 2006, things have changed rapidly in blogging. There were few of us UK lot back then, it was very much the hobby of the Martha Stewart Mom from the USA. Now, there are thousands of us from diverse backgrounds and all of whom cover a list of topics which engage and entertain. 

In 2009, when I first got the “Mummy Blogger” tag (by the Independent newspaper), I was kind of shrugged shoulders about it. To me, it meant a Mum who blogged in her spare time. Which was me. There was a good little group of us doing what we did, posting our links at polite intervals on Twitter and British Mummy Bloggers, and generally having a chinwag.

Then came memes, and with those came little blogger made awards. These were passed around the whole circle of us, it was all in fun and never really meant anything other than a  fellow blogger giving you a pat on the back. 

Cut to now, and there are flipping thousands of us, and those badges from bloggers have moved on to become “awards” from companies and stat counter sites and anyone else who has the know how to make a badge and email a few of us when they like.

Now, not all awards are like this. The Brilliance in Blogging awards I feel has the right mix- its done in fun, you vote once, and then, at Britmums Live you get a trophy. Its not marketed to be anything its not. It will not make you famous. You will not end up an Editor of a Daily Broadsheet from it. Its just the old school pat on the back, with a bit more pzazz. 

However, for every BiB award there are others which make me feel, as one blogger put it this morning during a discussion of one such award currently running, dirty and ikky. 

I’m not going to single out one of these awards but there are lots. Simply stupid amounts. They range from being held by UK parent consumer sites, to stat sites, to parenting sites in the US. They have different names, different ranges of prizes, and different badges. Some are based on what number you are in a list and go on every month, some are yearly.

They all have things in common that lend to the ikky nature though.

For starters, someone, somewhere has started them for a reason, and its probably not because they get gooey every time they read another potty story from another blogger. Its money that motivates them in the long run.

Whether that’s asking bloggers to place a “brag badge” on their site month after month to asking you to get your readers and anyone who hasn’t muted you from their Twitter and Facebook feeds to vote for you, these  are all motivated by traffic. And, as any seasoned, PR friendly blogger knows, traffic means ad revenue, freebies, events the lot. 

How many of us love to advertise and gain revenue from it (puts hand up)? Well, by having a brag badge, some of which even have a secondary “sponsor” label on it- you are giving a free advert on your blog, for however long it is there to a site. How much revenue would you have got for that badge if you’d negotiated with a company yourself? 

That means that some bright spark who is clever at marketing has found a few email addresses (not hard, Google UK bloggers), used a Paintshop badge maker, and added a “You’re the best” or “Vote for Me” or random number based on statistics that Brian Cox would find baffling to it, and then have emailed you. You then post that on your site, blog about it and link to the company or site which gave you it, meaning more hits for said site.

And what do you get from it? A Badge. Hmm.

I also hate that you get an email from a site you’d never heard of, explaining how you’ve been nominated. You kind of expect virtual confetti to fall from the screen to your lap, and a dancing girl and a guy in spangly jacket to knock on your door. That feeling of “they like me, they really, really like me” enters your head and then you obediently go and promote the fact you are nominated everywhere. And drive others mental probably in the process (there are some who hate awards season with a passion). However, who nominated you is not made clear.

If you refuse and you’ve been nominated by a nice reader, you run the risk of causing offence. If you say yes, and it turns out you’ve been nominated by a site who are hoping your readers will become their readers as they look to increase their hit rate on the back of you being on their list to be voted for, you get suckered in. Its why most of these awards and lists will not tell you who has chosen you. 

I say this as someone who was completely taken in, hook line and sinker by a company who are still hosting “awards” every year. They got a years worth of ads from me, I put it on my business card, I blogged about it, and tweeted too. Did I get sod all out of it? Nope. I got a Selfridges Voucher for £50, which, to this day is in my cupboard (seriously what can you buy from Selfridges that’s £50?). It never increased my hits, it caused me nothing but grief at the time, and that was, to my mind at the least, when blogging started to head towards the dark side. 

Its the spats and angst it causes too- voice an opinion questioning why a blog has been chosen or what the site gets out of it, and you will get a verbal flaming across as many sites as the offended party can manage. Trust me, I had the same last year and ended up, from one comment, being chucked off a Facebook group. God help me when this blog gets out there, but, hell, I want the old style of blogging together to make a return.

Is it time to turn our back on most of these awards and lists? My opinion is yes it is.

Don’t get suckered into free advertising.

Just say no!

I am not a number. I’m a writer.

And that’s all there is to it.

*Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christmas Wishlist with ACHICA*

Christmas is coming, and often, as parents, we are so concerned with getting the right mix of gifts for our children that we forget to make a wish list for ourselves. 

ACHICA, the online affordable Luxury site invited me to have a look around their well stocked site and come up with a little wish list of my top picks, and why I’d like them under the tree come December 25th.

ACHICA is a members only site, but I was pleased to find it is free and simple to join up to. Their handy emails also help members find out about their latest offers- which are frequent and varied too.

First up on my wish list is a nice new duvet set. Unlike the rest of my house, which in recent months has started to take a more grown up approach from our mish-mash, mismatched furniture of old (cough, after 3 years, cough), my bedroom is still very much stuck. I have lovely duvet covers, however, the pillow cases are sadly lost to the many house moves we’ve sadly had to endure over the last five years. Duvet covers themselves, bar Mini’s, were never put in the “must have” pile when we moved with one small van from Kent to Berkshire, so we’ve pretty much settled for what we could fine when we got here.




I absolutely love the Sanderson Odile Duvet Cover in plum. I have some purple accessories already, including a throw, cushions and vases. None of which match my cheap and thin bedding I currently have now. The Odile is patterned enough to bring some life into my cream walled bedroom but not too busy either. Its also thankfully machine washable, and looks stylish and grown up in equal measures. 





Next on my list is a new purse. I am a sucker for hand bags, changing my bag of choice quite regularly. Purses, however, are not something which I go mad for. Most of my fave Ollie and Nic handbags had purses attached which were functional before the Brats came along. I now need something to put all the bits and bobs that you accumulate in a purse, but with something that is pretty as well.

I spotted the Lulu Australia Wallpaper Windsor purse. Its pink and girly, a good size and shape, and crosses the “functional” remit with the “fashionable” demand too. It has two zipped pockets and a coin purse too, and it would pretty much go with everything I already own bag wise. At £15 its cheap too- it has £10 off the rrp for ACHICA members which is a bonus.

Next is baking goods. I love my cooking and baking, and am never happier than when I’m in my kitchen. I’m currently looking into going back to school to train as a chef, so I will be needing a well stocked kitchen for all those recipes I will be trying out. 

ACHICA currently has a great pre-Christmas promotion with OvenLove, who have a whole list of good quality bake ware. Top of my list is the Oven Love White Round Dish, which is currently £10. I make a pie of some sort at least once a week, and can’t stand shop bought pies ever since I first made my own. I also like to make sausage rolls and pizzas too, and this versatile little dish would be great for those too. At £10 its so cheap too! Its Teflon coated  so long lasting, and better still you can move it from the oven to the table rather than trying to remove a lovely home cooked pie from a basic looking, cracked old dish to serve it at the table!




Lastly, what’s Christmas without a good dose of chocolate? I absolutely adore these quirky chocolate shoes from Chocorico, which look almost too good to eat! Available in lots of designs, its one way to give the woman in your life two things she loves at once! My particular favourite was the polka dot shoe design, I was looking at a pair of shoes just like them recently, but my practical self realised I could only stare at them in the cupboard (like so many of my shoes!) as I’d never walk in them. A think a chocolate version is a much better idea!



ACHICA have so many promotions running over the months, so you are always bound to find something you fancy, all with a large and handy discount too. For those looking for Christmas tableware, toys and sparkly accessories for those coming parties, its a must see. Joining takes under a minute, and is completely free. 

So, what’s in your wishlist? Pop over to ACHICA, and I’m sure your list will be endless!

What on Earth Are They teaching in School These Days?

I  am despairing of my children’s education right now.

Mini is now in Year 1, and to be fair I kind of expected the “playing all day and generally not doing a lot” to be over. Except I now wonder what it is she actually does all day.

She brings home, most weeks, about 5 bits of homework. This includes a list of 6 words for a spelling test (and we’re not talking two and three letter words, but 4, 5 and 6 letter words), a hand writing practice sheet, a maths sheet and a topic sheet- so whatever they are currently learning about in history or geography, they’ll have a sheet or two on this. They also have a drawing activity, and another list of words the teacher wants them to memorise from them not quite sounding them out enough during guided reading. 

They have two books per week for Guided Reading (and woe betide you as a parent if you don’t read one or the other every night), and a list of websites that you might like to look at too (again, woe betide you if you don’t bother).

The holidays made me laugh. Each week, the homework book has the list of websites you can look at, plus a little message from the teacher to you. You also have to tick a box of whether you helped them a bit, a lot or not at all 
(although surely there should be a “I did it myself whilst my child watched Tree Fu Tom” box?). In the Half Term message, we were told how well the children had all done in term one, and how they all deserved a rest. 

It then went on to list the 7 pieces of homework to do in the holiday. What happened to having a rest?

What concerns me is not that they get this homework (although what is her teacher doing all day?) its the level of it. Half the time it’s not even marked. 

I worry that Mini and her mates might be left behind. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t need a lot of help with her homework, its more to do with her feeling that she has been at school all day, its boring and now she wants to watch Brainiac instead, not do more work. Which is pretty much how I felt when I got homework (at secondary school, I hasten to add, not in the Infants), except I wanted to watch Grange Hill.

She had a whole year last year of “playing through learning”. Or “playing on trikes and in sand boxes all day before coming home covered in paint” as I like to call it. They didn’t do the whole sit down at a table and pick up a pen and write thing, so now, she can just about recognise certain words, she can have a go at writing them, and she is just starting to get the hang of reading, but spelling tests and joined up writing seems a step too far.

I was also quite surprised that the school decided to ignore both Children In Need (despite most kids in the country going to school in  their pajamas) and Remembrance Day, but they did learn about Diwali. 

Before you all do the “grr” face at me, its great that they learn about diverse cultures. I’d just that I’d also like her to learn about her own culture too. Bar learning about Guy Fawkes, they have covered Australia, China, India, and New Zealand up until now. 

It makes you question whether schools are almost afraid to cover Remembrance Sunday? Mini sat and listened as I told her in 5 year old friendly terms, why we all wear a poppy, and I read her a famous war poem too. She didn’t get upset, she didn’t have nightmares. She went off and wrote her own poem for Class News Time. Which her teacher then didn’t let her read. 

Now, today, we have her looking through my cook books, and she asked if she could have some “real” fish, not “made fish by shops”.

I tried hard not to but I did laugh. She thinks that only some fish comes from the sea or any form of water. She then thinks the shops “make” their version of fish for everyone else. I went to the trouble of planting a veggie patch in the summer after she told me she thought spuds and veg come from Tesco.

Is school all about playing and less about traditional learning? Does your 5 year old get homework and do you do it with them or for them?