Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Cybermummy 2011 - Ticket

and the winner is .........

Congratulations !!!!   Will DM you details of how to pay and transfer ticket details xx

If you are a blogger and also on twitter, the phenomenon that  is Cybermummy will most likely not have passed you by.  I went last year and am going again this year.  A fantastic opportunity to meet and mix with fellow bloggers, brush up on your blogging skills, tips and advice from experts in their field, meet PR's representing some top companies and eat fab food !

The Conference sold out several months ago but sadly the person  I was originally going with is now unable to attend.  If you are a blogger and would like to purchase the ticket for £80 (sorry can't afford to give it away)  Please leave a comment below telling me why you would like to attend with a link to your blog and a winner will be picked at random on Tuesday 31st May.

Payment will need to be made via paypal, details will be emailed to the winner and the organisers at Cybermummy will be notified of the amendment to ticket name.  Your ticket will be emailed to you prior to the event.  Cybermummy organisers have been consulted over the intention to sell this ticket.

Good luck

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Supporting Independent Retailers - FunkyMoose Giveaway

Many Apologies for the delay in announcing the winner of this giveaway (we have had no internet for about 16 hours ) .

The winner is  BELLE-BOUTIQUE

Well done and many thanks to everybody else who entered.  More giveaways coming soon.


As part of my campaign to encourage shoppers to spend some of their hard earned cash with online retailers, I will be featuring a new store each week.

To kick us off I have a wonderful giveaway from Alison at FunkyMoose.

Established in 2005, they aim to offer an innovative and appealing collection of home and lifestyle products perfect for young families, and also ideal for families & friends to purchase as gifts.

All products are selected for their quality, individuality, usefulness, quirkiness. Products are sourced from all over the world and the range is constantly evolving, ensuring there is always something new and fresh for you to discover.

You’ll find a mix of cutting edge products and old-world workmanship and exquisite design.

Alison has very kindly offered this wonderful Samsonite Sammies Lucky Childrens Duffle Bag - Bee  

Perfect for taking on holidays or even going to stay with Grandma this half term !  Suitable for boys or girls, your children are sure to love this great bag.


Pop over to the wonderful FunkyMoose website here  http://www.funkymoose.co.uk/   have a browse around and come back and leave a comment below telling me which item you like the most.

For one each additional entry you might like to :

Follow this blog

Follow Funky Moose on twitter here  http://twitter.com/#!/funkymooseuk

Follow Allaboutheboys on twitter here   http://twitter.com/#!/allaboutheboys

Like Funky Moose on facebook here  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Funky-Moose/49521249510

Like All About The Boys on facebook here http://www.facebook.com/#!/KarenAllabouttheboys

Giveaway is open to UK residents only.

Closes at 8pm Thursday 26th May 2011

Winner picked at random.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Supporting Independent Retailers

I was interested to hear on the news today that Mary Portas has been appointed to lead a review into the future of the high street and to try to find ways to encourage small and independent retailers. 

Since starting my own small online business and now venturing into another one I understand only too well how hard it is to encourage buyers to shop with you if you are a small independent.  Even more so if you are an online store.   You may remember my comments on twitter last year when Miss Portas aired her tv programmes supporting Charity shops and failing retailers, I tweeted her requesting she might like to take a look at small independent online retailers (I didn't get an answer), so I will be following her progress with interest.

Not one for sitting back, I thought this would be an ideal time to start a campaign to support all those hard working small businesses, often run by mothers juggling many balls in an effort to contribute to the family income and take care of children at the same time.

So if you are an online store pop your link below and grab my button for your blog or shop page.  Lets make some noise on Twitter and Facebook and see if we can't encourage those shoppers to spend some of their hard earned cash with us.

Lets show people all the wonderful, imaginative, well made, stylish and individual products that are out there, if only people take the time to look.  Don't follow the crowd.



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Monday, 16 May 2011

Speedo Sea Squad Back Floats

The twins were really lucky to recently be sent a Sea Squad back float each and a pack of dive sticks from Speedo.   As soon as they saw them they were badgering to go swimming, now there was a time that I would have been the first into my itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny yellow polka dot bikini to show off my size 8 bod.  Sadly not anymore !  I make no secret of the fact that THEY RUINED MY BODY !  along with the fact that lying around in the sunshine getting a tan to show off is not high on my priorities these days. 

After much standing on the bed, twisting this way and that to see what I now look like in a swimsuit, off  we trotted to the swimming pool  with me clutching my pull it in, tuck it under, nobody will be looking at you anyway swimsuit.

Breaking  the rules of the swimming baths I made a covert video of them.  Many apologies to Speedo for the fact that they appear to be bum floats but the twins were just too impatient to get into the water and play with their floats and sticks to model properly for me.

I must admit to being sceptical about the effectiveness of these floats when I first saw them , especially the straps.  I was sure they would be uncomfortable to wear and not be at all effective.  I was wrong, they boys didn't complain about them once in the water and they didn't leave marks, rub or hurt them.  They were extremely effective as floats and are designed in such a way that you just remove a float as the child becomes more confident.  The boys loved the dive sticks and after initially being hesitant they were soon diving down to the bottom of the (baby pool) : ) to retrieve the sticks.  All in all they and I were really impressed .

If you haven't had a look at the new website for Speedo, do pop over and take a look, for those of you old enough to remember its certainly come a long way since its image of speedo trunks in the days of Mark Spitz !

The Sea Squad site is fun, bright, easy to navigate and packed full of great products and even a fun zone for the kids.  With games and play safe quiz for safety, a great introduction to swimming website with everything you need for your little one. 

Many thanks once again to the kind people at Speedo for the products. xx

Saturday, 14 May 2011

To Ebay or not to Ebay

I discovered Ebay later than most.  Just prior to the birth of the twins somebody suggested I look on there for clothes for the babies.  What a world it opened up to me.  I soon became hooked on biding and buying, within a few weeks I realised I could also make money by selling on there too.  My items sold quickly and feedback was fantastic because of the quality of my items.  I soon built up a great reputation for myself and went from strength to strength.  I took the step of opening a shop on Ebay and found suppliers in America to start selling new designer clothes thanks initially to an American friend of mine. 

When the twins were 3 years old I had built up a regular supply chain and customer base, I had become a powerseller, sales were great and my husband who knew I was not happy at work and with ongoing childcare issues suggested I turn it into a full time job.  Along with my new website I took the plunge.  At this time Ebay had started already to change what was once a vibrant buying and selling community into a much more unstable environment for sellers.  Bringing in lots of little terms and conditions that worked for customers but in the main against sellers.  I can understand the need to ensure that customers are treated fairly (ebay did have a reputation for some rogue sellers and fake sales) but in the main most sellers were honest, hard working and most sales went off without a hitch.  I prided myself on my 100% feedback going everyday to the post office, sometimes twice if a customer really needed something in a hurry.  I answer ever sale with a personal email and only sell items that are immaculate and beyond reproach.

My first negative feedback was literally like being hit in the face !  I know that sounds melodramatic but when you get into selling on Ebay, a bit like blogging - you want comments, you want people to enjoy what you write its all part of the experience.  I can't remember now what the negative was for but I remember how it made me feel and how I raged about it.  I also know it was totally unwarranted.  At this time Ebay also bought in a new rule whereby only buyers could leave negative feedback !  What had happened to the fair two way communication and the basis on which the original owner of Ebay had established his community on. 

As with most things like this, if it is your livelihood you have to just suck it up and carry on and ebay knew this, they knew they had most sellers by the short and curlies and they continued to introduce more and more impossible regulations.   They would be laughed off the high street if they tried to impose such rules on bricks and mortar shops !  The Star rating system (totally anonymous of course) ment that customers could give you written feedback as usual but could also rate you on item as described, communication, despatch time and postage and packing charges !  No problem I though, I work hard in all those areas I have nothing to worry about !  Stupid Karen !  I have had several positive comments written where the buyer has obviously then gone on to mark me down in the star rating section, usually because they don't like how much it cost to post to them.  I send all items recorded delivery in the uk or international signed for service overseas, because if I don't, I can't get my money back if the item is "lost in the post" .  I clearly state the cost of postage and the customer is agreeing to that when they commit to buy so why should they be able to make me down in that area.  I also received 3 low rating on despatch time in January this year when anybody with an once of a brain would know that the majority of the country was snowed in and Royal mail was having difficulty delivering.  Would Ebay remove these low ratings ?  Would they hell.

You might wonder why the feedback is so important to me. 

  I recently lost my top rated seller status (which affects where your items are listed on ebay pages, discounts you get and your standing as a reliable seller)  a big deal if you are in a category that has lots of items like the clothes category that I am in.  All because a few customers  0.68% of my total sales for a year gave me a low seller rating.

 0.68% of my total sales in a year !!!!

Can you imagine again the high street retailers with a failer rate of less than 1% in customer overall satisfaction, seeing that as a FAILURE !!! 

I've had 2 negative feedback's in the last year one customer said "great ebayer. Never received the item"   - OK so it failed to arrive, royal mail said it was lost in their system, we had tracking info everything but still Ebay refused to remove it.

The second ebayer said " bad communication.Sent me wrong size and did not make me a full refund.DISSAPOIN"   This was for a second hand Armani top I sold her for £4.50 which was correctly listed but because it didn't fit her she lied on the feedback. Again Ebay refused to remove it.

Today I have had a customer who I gave a discount of £8 off the original cost with free shipping to Germany for 2 baseball caps.  She sent me the following email :

hello, the cap has some errors. a cap has a hole in the back seam is 7 mm long and the other cap has the wrong seam in the middle (where there is polo rider), and these approaches is also to 1cm! short front and rear short by 1 cm than the other cap, so small and tight Wiesent looks flat. I think it are wrong products. I'm very disappointed, I will be refund the caps only when I was 50% decrease in both, I think it's fair. if you want, I can send them photos with meter stick next to it, so you can see the differences. shame that the controls determining CAPI not have before sending it.

in a nutshell, she is lying about there being holes in the caps, I check everything I send out, nothing goes out if I have the slightest concern.  As for her argument that there is a 1 cm difference in the sizes of the caps !  Is she for real and then comes the crunch line she wants 50% discount on them !  Got to the bottom line in the end. 50% off an already discounted pair of caps that I had again discounted for her.  I wouldn't play ball and told her to return them to me for a full refund. She then told me she had cut all the labels out of the inside of both of the caps ! Really, how convenient, and so it went on.  I remained calm and told her I would consult with Ebay and paypal on Monday but she knows what she is doing and has put a claim into paypal already. The money has been taken from my account, I can do nothing about it, I know she will probably get to keep the caps and get her money and yes, because I sent it international signed for service I will get my money back, but that's not the principle !  I am outraged at the unfairness of this system.

What would you do ?  Is it time to go ........

Monday, 9 May 2011

I can't imagine the horror !

Watching the tv a few days ago an advert came on for the Sun Newspaper who are serialising The new book by Kate McCann.  Since I saw it I have been unable to get the horrific image out of my mind of how Kate sees her daughter "alone and screaming in a room"  Those few words say it all.  The horror and the fear that you must feel when your child is taken.  I cry at the thought of it, I can't even find the right words to explain how it must be to not know what has happened to your child and the images you must see, the horror over what they might be being subjected too.

My children are my world, they are funny, bright, gorgeous, naughty, a pain at times and I would protect them with my life.  I cry at the though of loosing one of them, let alone in such a terrible way.  Whatever your views on the McCanns leaving their children alone that night, there can't be a person in their right mind who would wish this on any parent.

Kate's Book will be published on May 12th (Madeleine's 8th birthday).  Its the 4th anniversary of her disappearance.  Can you imagine 4 years of not knowing but trying to continue to live for your remaining children and family ?

Please follow @MadeleineMcCann on twitter and spread the twitter word throughout the world. Someone, somewhere knows what happened to that little girl.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

What SIZE am I ?

This morning I got dressed (much like any other morning)  as I checked out my extensive wardrobe to see what gorgeous outfit to select for the day, I happened to notice the size of the items I had plucked out :

 The top blue and white stripes (my uniform these days) was purchased from Sainsbury's in their sale for £5 and is a size 16 !

 The jeans from Marks and Spencers basics range cost £12 and are a size 12. 

 The Crew Clothing Company body warmer purchased from Ebay for £10 (second hand) is a size 10 !

I am not as it would appear from the sizes above one of these lucky  ladies with an ample vuluptuous upper and a tiny lower body (mores the pity).  I have tops in my wardrobe I regularly wear ranging from size 12 to 16 all of which fit me.  The same goes for trousers ranging from size 10 to 14 .  Most are high street labels.  Why can't they get together and come up with an industry standard size chart, much like as with shoes ?  Wouldn't it make life much simpler ?

Oh and you know how they say you look bigger on film than in real life , well I'm hoping the same is true of this photograph!  Off to put on running kit ........

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Art of Roughhousing

When I was contacted and asked if I would like to review The Art of Roughhousing, I was really keen to see if it would be a common sense approach to actual physical play with boys (and girls) or just some new fad  that would result in me flinging the book across the room.

Described as a good old fashioned horseplay and why every kid needs it I was encouraged.  To my mind "old fashioned" is good when it comes to lots of things children; education, manners, play, I could go on. 

The book is written by two fathers Dr Anthony DeBenedet and psychologist Lawrence Cohen.  Anthony in his Preface tells of always interacting in a physical way  with his father whilst growing up.  Larry on the otherhand did not.  It is really interesting to read how these two different styles of parenting moulded the views of these men as they grew up.

Within the first few pages I was hooked on the philosophy of this book. In The State of the Art paragraph on page 12 this sentence sums up for me what life has become for many of our children today :

"What was once a motto of Safety First has evolved into a fretful new motto of Safety Only "

Children are over protected within an inch of their lives, are frowned upon if they play "rough" at school.  We had an example of this at the last school parents evening for our twins where we were told on the form that they give you,  both our boys are "too touchy" and their aims for next term ?  Not to improve reading or writing etc but to "learn to keep their hands to themselves " and by this the teacher meant hugging and touching in any form not "hitting".  My husband and I were horrified by this, it immediately made us feel as though our children were "thugs"  when the reality is that they are tactile and intelligent children who use touch as a communication tool.  Don't most six years olds ?  When language skills are still being developed, isn't it a common form of communication ?

I was a single mum with No 1 son for six years and spent great chunks of our "playtime" flinging him down the stairs in sleeping bags or quilts, dragging him down the hallway by his feet, rolling, "fighting" bucking and play "scaring" the wits out of him to screams of laughter and "more mummy more" !  In the days before we spent vast amounts of time playing on computers we made our own entertainment in ways I felt were suitable for a boy.

When friends or family visited they would often comment that I "was being too rough" or "it will end in tears" it rarely did.  I knew then as I know now how much is too much and more importantly to read the signs of when my children have had enough and are getting overstimulated by all the rough and tumble.  Even today No1 son  now (nearly 16 years old and a good six inches taller than me, will grab me for a playfight on the sofa !  I have to be wary of these ninja attacks especially when the twins join in the fun ! I'm not as young as I once was!

We all rough and tumble around the house together, running around hiding and jumping out on each other.  I had the living daylights scared out of me when I opened my linen basket last week and out jumped one of the twins. We hugged and rolled on the floor laughing so much I had tears rolling down my face.  They and I love it.

The book tells of the importance of rowdy, physical interactive play and how it was first observed in young rhesus monkeys during the 50's and 60's, it even makes the bold claim that physical play makes children smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likeable, ethical, physically fit and joyful " !  and gives you the facts both scientific  and otherwise to back up the claims.

By page 17  I could be heard muttering "yes! yes! yes!"  "this is so right" "OMG Nigel you HAVE to read this"   "listen to this " and "this"   to the amusement of the people sat around us at Bicton Park .

By Chapter two I was in total agrement with this book and would encourage anybody who has ever enjoyed rolling around with their children to buy a copy.  A lot of the content is common sense and something we already do in the course of bringing up our children.  But to some parents these days it may not be and maybe a helping hand is needed.    There are paragraphs on how to get started with accompanying picture diagrams !  Recommendations for suitability for ages, difficulty level and essential skills !

The book is jam packed with facts, stories, evidence and is written in an interesting no nonesense way.  If you have ever felt that trying to keep up with all the crafting, cooking activities, swimming, football, dance, cubs clubs etc  was exhausting not just for you but your children too.  Then this book might just be for you.  Our children don't have their lives all "clubbed" out but we do play with them an awful lot and I am glad to find that actually, in this modern over stimulated world we can feel that we are actually doing something right !

Due for release on the 17th May - its available on Amazon and many other good book sellers : )


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