Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Gifted People

You know how it is, you need to buy a gift for somebody at short notice or they are the person who  "has everything", you panic and buy a gift voucher from the nearest store. Not very inspiring and often left to languish in a drawer unredeemed.

 I remember many years ago buying my husband a very expensive Horticultural Experience (which could only be redeemed at a certain place and had an end date) I thought it was the perfect gift for him.  Sadly he didn't, it was never used and £150 went down the drain ! Shocking now !

I was really interested to take a look at http://www.giftedpeople.co.uk/ a Scottish Company that specialises in ethically produced gifts and experiences from local Scottish makers and traders.  This does not mean their site is limited only to those lucky folk who live in Scotland though.  There are many beautiful items available to gift to friends, family and loved ones.    I must admit, it would be great if they did go nationwide I would LOVE to be gifted the Ironing experience !

With many options on the flexibility of the gift from ;

E-vouchers -  Your Order -  They are sent to you and copied to the gift provider. You can specify that you want the gift sent to the gift recipient and send them a copy of the e-voucher so that they can get in touch with the gift provider.


Gold Gift Vouchers are sent to your gift recipient. They then contact the gift provider.

You are sure to find something to suit the person who you are gifting and if they are not happy (we all know one of those people) then they have the flexibility to change the gift themselves.

The site is really easy to navigate and offers great treats like :

Second time Weddings - let them choose something to do together
Gifts for people by their Character
Pamper sessions - for men as well as women
Male Grooming
Learning Gifts
Beautiful Arts and Crafts
Gourmet Chocolates

The list is endless, a site full of different, thoughtful presents to suit all budgets.

If you are looking for something other than the usual boring bunch of flowers for your mum for Mothers Day pop over and take a look, there is sure to be something to delight her on this lovely site.

This is not a sponsored post but I was lucky enough to be offered a voucher to spend on the site and will update this post once I have decided what to buy and completed my gift experience.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Twins Room

It's taken a while, but the twins finally have a room to be proud of.  It combines my love of light and bright but is also still boyish enough to please them.  As this house only had three bedroom, we decided to give the twins the biggest room.  We knew as they grew they would inevitably need the extra room to have a sense of their own space.

These pictures show their room the day we moved in.

When I look at the above photo's I wonder how on earth we coped.  Every room was full to bursting with our stuff, we had six month old twins and a 10 yr old who sulked and hated the house not understanding why we had left our previous large, beautiful home for this filthy house !  My The White Approach  blog shows how we are slowly transforming our home.

This is how their room looks now :

The view through through the twins bedroom door into their room.  The blue cupboard is the one you see in the first photograph.  I will feature this room on the White approach blog at some point detailing how my husband did all the work.

On the wall where the fireplace was my husband build floor to ceiling storage shelves

My husband also made the wooden letters that spell out the twins names

The twins "reading Corner"  bookcase made by daddy and cushions an absolute steal from Primark. Blinds and chairs from IKEA

New white bunk beds from Ebay, wonderful luxury childrens red and white gingham bedding generously given to me by my sponsor Mel who owns babou and a makeover for an old chest of drawers, along with a fantastic vinyl sticker clock from the wonderful Etsy seller chocovenyl complete the look.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Educating boys

I have three sons.  The eldest has been educated at a wonderful private school since he was three years old. It is a traditional school with old fashioned values and an equal mix of male/female teachers.  When he first started there in the kindergarten I was a single mum, spending most days running myself ragged working in Marketing and  driving several times a month to Swindon and back for meetings, trying to earn a good living and provide the best I could for him.   

One day whilst motoring down the M5 after a meeting that had over run, trying to get back to school to pick him up, I was stopped for speeding.  I finally arrived at school distressed and teary about an hour late.  As I ran down a corridor the headmaster walked out of one of the classrooms.  "Miss DuBois, you are always rushing about, and why are you late again to collect your son?"  I explained to him what had happened.  "you need to get a job that puts your child first, come and work for me, I need a secretary" 

At first I was afronted ! Does this man not know what I do ! I'm not a secretary !  but that night when I gave it some though, it actually seemed like a really good solution.  I could work in an office, not having to drive all around the country to dealerships and also be in the same place as my son was being educated.  I could see him, at work and at play everyday.

I accepted the headmaster's offer and received a heafty discount off No1 Son's fees and a modest salary.  I worked for him for eight years. It was worth the change in lifestyle.  No 1 son has had a first class education and is in the process of taking his G.C.S.E's this year (twelve of them), he will stay on for A levels.

After meeting and marrying my OH the twins came along and life changed dramatically for us.  When they were 3 they started at the kindergarten of No1 son's school  but it soon became clear to us that we would not be able to afford to pay for three boys to stay there.  When they reached reception age we transferred them to the local state school.  We did our research and believed the school to be the best in the area.  I was concerned about the fact that there was only one male teacher but had my concerns airily dismissed by the headmistress. 

Always someone who relies heavily on my instincts I became increasingly worried that they wouldn't get a rounded education because of the lack of male teachers.  Seven hours a day five days a week, in the company of only female teachers is not ideal for little boys.

I have read several articles on the subject, and all seem to agree on one thing, that boys need positive male role models when at primary school in order to develop fully.  If you have boys please take a moment to read these articles  The Telegraph   Guardian   The Independent

The twins have had their fair share of "incidents" since starting school, initially described as "settling into school routine" and now rolling over into Year one.  My husband and I are really concerned that it is becoming a pattern of their daily school life, that if not checked will " label" them for all their school life.  Desperate not to overreact, but also tired of the almost daily "Mrs Jones, can I have a chat please"  with the teachers, we are now asking ourselves whether we need to look elsewhere to educate our sons.

Monday, 21 March 2011

This is how I feel - Milo Aged 6

It could be said I am rooted in the old school way of thinking.  

I believe (to a degree) that children should be seen and not heard (sort of).  We have strict bedtime routine  for the twins 6.30 pm and that routine is the key to harmony in our home.  Children are a major part of our life, but my husband and I were here first ! Our view is : children fit into our life, not the other way around.  We love them beyond words and listen to them when they talk.  We have strong views on certain things but try not to consciously influence them.  We want them to be their own people, they are after all three very different characters.  So this evening when we sat down to a lovely tea of chicken wings, chicken pieces , wedges and salad it was I suppose a wake up call for me when the following happened.

Milo -  "Jarvis, do you know that is a real chicken you are eating ?"

Jarvis -  "yes, so "

Me  " It is a real chicken darling, but this is what lots of people eat.  We eat animals"

Milo - face reddens, hands go upto his face and hides his eyes

Me - "Are you ok darling ?  You know if you don't want to, you don't have to eat the chicken".

Milo - "My eyes are leaking, I feel sad.  I don't want to eat a living thing".

Me - "Its not alive now darling but I know what you mean. Do you not want to eat animals ?"

Milo - "No mummy I don't.  It makes me feel sad to eat creatures.  Do they know when they are being killed ?"

Me -  " I'm not sure sweetie", (although I am sure they do,  I have a vivid image still in my mind of when I was serving in the Falklands over 20 years ago and I spent my R & R with a family who were sheep farmers.  To this day I can remember the sound of those sheep on the day they were herded into the pens to be put down, the panic amongst them as they tried not to be the next one taken).

Milo - "so do we eat humans ? "

Me - "No darling that would be so wrong, humans eat animals because they are part of our food.  They don't have the same brains as us and don't think like we do.  It would be wrong to eat other people. " (by this time we were all rapidly going off the lovely tea my husband had cooked us) and also getting into difficult territory with how much information is ok to give a six year old.

My husband commented after this conversation that Milo had told him in the garden today, not to cut the bush down as it would hurt the plant.

In the past I would have made light of someone whose child felt this way, but now, its my own child and it has made me totally rethink my own attitude to the depth of feeling that children have from an early age and how, I actually do believe that we are born with the personality and the traits that will form our whole adult life.  I honestly believe Milo will grow up to be vegetarian, and be a kind compassionate man.

I feel totally humbled by my six year old son tonight, his understand and insight.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Books, books and more books

A few weeks ago I popped over to Rachael from Tales from the Village blog as she had tweeted that she was sick in bed and had nothing to do but lie back and read a pile of books.  Ohh! how I wish I could do that, I thought.  I left her a comment telling her how jealous I was of all that time to lie around and just read and hoped she got better soon, or words to that effect and thought no more of it.

Several days later an email pinged into my inbox from Appliances Online telling me I had been chosen from the list of people who had commented on Rachael's blog to receive chocolates and wine.  Well, not one to turn down such scrummy stuff,  I was about to accept when I noticed that the lovely appliances fairy was also offering me an alternative choice of an Amazon gift voucher.  As much as I love my wine, I do,  and chocolates (well the family do) they don't hang around for long so I went with the gift voucher option . Wasting no time I clicked over to Amazon and chose these totally gorgeous books :

The White Home (no surprises there )

Living With White (again , are you seeing the theme)

At Home with White (yes I know, I have a serious white issue)

Within days they arrived and are totally, utterly, gorgeous books.

If you would like to be in with a chance to receive a visit from the Appliances Fairy, just leave a comment below.  As they say, you gotta be in it to win it !

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Galt Toys - Giveaway


Many thanks to all who took part in this fab giveaway.

The two winners picked by the twins are :


I will email or Tweet the winners.

More lovely giveaways soon xx

We were recently contacted by Galt Toys to se if we would be interested in reviewing some of their lovely products and of course I accepted, and asked if I could  have some items to giveaway.  The twins have been very lucky indeed since I started blogging.

Within days we received several sets of Paintastics painting by numbers but with no messy paints ! Woop, my kind of paint. 

Suitable for either boys or girls, the twins found these really easy to use, you just match up the number on the pen to the number on the picture and colour in with the "paint pen".  There are two nice quality pictures to paint complete with hooks on the back to hang if you wish.  It kept them occupied for about an hour or so.  Milo completed his picture (below) sadly, as is often the case, Jarvis lost interest and has yet to complete his.

At £4.99 each I think they are great value for money and would make lovely value presents for the endless stream of birthday parties that children of this age seem to get invited to.
 or maybe as a lovely personal present for Mummy for Mothers day !


To qualify for entry please just follow this blog either in google or by RSS Feed and  leave a comment below telling me what you buy your children's friends when they attend birthday parties.

If you tweet or facebook about this giveaway you will get an additional entry

Competition closes on Sunday 20th March 8pm

Sorry but open ony to UK Residents


Thank you and good luck xx

Friday, 11 March 2011

Its all about ME ! ME!

I was intrigued by the subject of  a tweet today from Mich of Mummy from the Heart   where I was tagged in  " a positive and uplifting MEME ", the subject of which was to ask people to leave a comment with one positive word that they though described me. 

I have never had problem seeing the good  in other people but to ask for positive comments about myself ?  How very un - Me ! 

Michelle's reason for choosing me was a  revelation in itself -  "because it always appears to me as if Karen is as hard on herself as I am on me and frankly she needs a break from it and to hear how great she is"

I would hate to think that people think I am always putting myself down, how boring is that !  It is not a conscious thing.  It is though, certainly a confidence thing.  That  saying of "put yourself down before somebody else does "  I have never been good at accepting a compliment and nearly always reply to one with a negative about myself.  I have learnt to recognise this as I have got older and have made a big effort to accept compliments when they are given.  At the root of it all is certainly low self esteem.
I remember vividly an incident when I first joined the Army, we were being taught how to use identification kits, where you have to select parts of the face from images in a book and make up an identikit.  I was sat next to a boy (we were both about 17 at the time)  after selecting our images, eyes, nose, ears etc that we felt best described the person next to us we had to explain our choices to the class.  The lad, my partner, set about describing me and when he got to the nose he said I had a bulbous nose, the whole class sniggered .  I was devastated, never forgot that and spent the rest of my life hating my face and my nose and being totally self conscious.  This I know resulted in people saying I was "stuck up, and stand offish"  but I was in fact paralysed with shyness and constantly wondering if  everyone who looked at me saw my "bulbous" nose. 
I have never been able to "see" what other people see, except for in recent years when looking back at photographs of myself as a younger woman and seeing how fab I actually looked.  I spend a great deal of time trying to make my children be "kind" "caring" "to think about others" Its the best gift you can give to your children kindness and a good word costs nothing.
As my mother says " If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"

So go on ..... Knock me out with your great one word comments about how fab I am !  (OMG, What if nobody comments..... )
I would like to tag these great people in Michelle's fab MEME :
Helen from icklebabe_com   -  Because she has a lot to deal with an doesn't show it.
Harriett from @Seasparkle_x  -  Because she needs to know she's a pretty cool lady, even though she thinks people ignore her.
Emma from Adventuresofanenglishmum   Because I remember only too well, how hard it can be to be a single mum and how you constantly doubt yourself when bringing up your child.
Lisa from babynotincluded - Because she has a new(ish) baby girl after a 10 yr gap (same as my children) and I KNOW how hard that can be.
Katheryn from Crystaljigsaw  because she is a fab lady, with a very special daughter and she received a bit of a blog bashing recently (and her blog Marvellous Mable will scare the pants off you )

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


When I want to browse and not think too much, to look and find beauty at almost every click, I take a trip to Etsy.  Always guaranteed not to disappoint, I find wonderful, clever designers, often undiscovered.  Just look at Muku !

Saturday, 5 March 2011

It's always there in the back of my mind

Yesterday I wrote a post, published it and then deleted it 10 minutes later for fear of appearing too morbid.    I have been giving it some though today and wondering why it was I didn't want the world to see my words, know my deepest fear, so decided to go with a slightly different version.  I am really interested to know if other older mums (or actually, any parents) have the same fears.

Friday was a pretty good day all in all. I had two of my three boys home sick, but they sat in a rare moment of brotherly love, snuggled up together on the sofa, one 15 yrs and one 6 yrs old.  Watching the discovery channel together and discussing the merits of dinosaurs, meteorites and the evolution of the planet.  It was wonderful to listen to them really talking to each other.  With twins its a rare moment you get to talk without one or the other interrupting or wanting something.  Special time together for these two brothers.

On my way to collect the other twin from school, I pooped into my local charity shop and found one of my most stunning bargain's to date. I was thrilled and so pleased .  A good day.

Onto school to collect 2nd twin, a chestful of stickers for good behaviour, work well done etc, another good day for him too. Special time together on our walk home, just the two of us, special sweets just for him .

Simple things, a rare retreat from money worries and a million other mundane things that occupy my mind, so why do I always have that horrible fear pop into my head. 

I have more life behind me than in front , its a fact. I was a mature mum, 33 with No 1 son and 43 with the twins.  I can't stop wondering how much more of their lives will I see ?  How much time to correct all my mistakes, to do all the things I want to do, to show them how much I love them.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Topps Football Cards & Book Giveaway

MANY THANKS TO THOSE WHO ENTERED (Not too many this time ) The winner picked at random from a bowl by JARVIS was :


How pleased was I when an email offering us Topps Football cards dropped into my in box, we received  a selection of the New 3D cards and books for the boys. 

The twins go crazy for these everytime they come out, they love collecting and sticking them into the books and talking about the different football players.  The only problem is finding all the sneaky stashes that they try to smuggle into school to swop with their friends!

The new 3D cards are available in packets of stickers (50p for a pack of 6) to be stuck in a sticker album (rrp £1.99) that comes with a set of 3D glasses. Really shows the incoming 3D ‘generation’ of kids (and products) who are growing up surrounded by this phenomenon! as you can see Milo looks very 'fetching' in his.

Also newly launched are the Find Ferdinand:  England Captain Rio Ferdinand has joined up with Topps to sign 101 special edition Match Attax cards which have been distributed worldwide. 100 of these are in a silver foil and offer the finder the opportunity to attend a special event at the end of the season to meet Rio. The other 1 card is wrapped in a Gold foil and offers the one lucky winner the opportunity for a one on one meet with Rio and get to play him at a game of Match Attax.

Standard Match Attax: The Premier League card trading & battling game selling on average 144,000 packs a day (random fact: 27 packs sold to every Mars Bar Worldwide). Cards are traded but Attack & Defence stats allow collectors to ‘battle’ each other on a specially designed ‘pitch’
Starter Pack – RRPs at £4.99, offers the perfect foundation for collectors – consists of a collection binder, a pitch to battle opponents & 25 cards (including a special edition card)

Collectors Tin – RRPs at £10 & offers collectors 60 cards (including on Limited Edition)

Standard Packets – RRP 50p – includes standard cards as well as showboat, limited edition, referee & 101 Wayne Rooney special cards.

We were sent a third set for No1 son but as he is now 15 and his interests lie elsewhere !  I thought I would offer them as a giveaway.  One 3D book and 4 packets of cards.


  1. Follow this blog via RSS or google and leave a comment on this blog telling me which football team your son or daughter supports.

2.       One additional entry for each of the following :

Tweet and/or Facebook the following :

I've entered the Topps Football card giveaway on @allaboutheboys blog

Giveaway closes 8pm  Monday 7th March

Winner picked at random by number selection.

Sorry but open only to UK Residents

Many thanks and good luck xx


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