Is Your Pet Stealing Your Bed?!

When I received an email about the Carpetright bed competition, I had to giggle. You see, they’re giving away £500 to spend on a bigger bed to the person who tweets the best picture of a bed-stealing pet to @Carpetright with the hashtag #PetStoleMyBed, and if anyone knows about bed-hogs, it’s me! Here’s a few examples…

Chuck the Bed StealerChuck is a MASTER bed-stealer!

When we first bought him home from the rescue centre, we were ADAMANT that he’d sleep in his own bed, but after the first night of howling and crying, we relented and allowed him to sleep in our bedroom, and he gradually made his way into our hearts on onto our bed!

These days, now that he’s 10 years old, he finds it harder to jump on and off of the bed, so tends to stay on his own, but don’t feel too sorry for him – he’s got his very own memory foam mattress pad, plus a high-end thermal dog bed to lay on, so he’s not doing too badly! I have to admit though, he’s very nice to snuggle with. On a cold night or if I’m feeling poorly, I do love to invite my boy up for a hug.

Carpetright’s Twitter feed is already jam packed with some amazingly adorable pictures of pets languishing amongst the pillows and duvets of their owners, and I highly recommend you take a look, or better yet, enter your own picture for the chance to win!


Summer Adventures

Great Ideas for Cheap Days Out

Here in the Mum’s the Word household, we’re almost delirious with happiness about the fact that summer is finally here. We’ve got Sausage’s birthday next week, so parties and picnics are in order, plus we’ve got a few days out planned, some restaurants to review, plus a whole bunch of other stuff on our summer ‘must-do’ list. There’s no denying though, that summer can be an expensive time, whether you’re paying for days out or added childcare, so when I found out that we can use our Nectar points towards summer activities, I was pretty excited. The video below tells you more:

Nectar are offering the chance to double, triple or even quadruple the value of your points towards attraction tickets – having checked our Nectar account, I’ve found out that I have enough for a £20 voucher which we can use at Legoland Windsor which would effectively make Sausage’s ticket half price.

The website is great as it’s possible to refine your search by area; we’re in the South East so I was able to narrow it down to attractions in the South and South East, which means that I didn’t have to trawl through pages and pages of places that were too far away for us to travel to on a day trip.

Best of all, the site is packed with ideas for summer activities which are completely free, really helping families to make the most of their summer without having to spend a fortune. Here’s what the folk at Nectar have to say:

To ensure families really have a summer to remember, Nectar Summer Picks will be running prize draws until the 30th September, offering families the chance to win amazing prizes including Nectar points, PizzaExpress vouchers or a Merlin Family Pass. There are several ways to take part, from sharing your favourite Nectar ‘Summer Pick’ online or even by submitting your own ideas at nectar.com/summer 

Don’t forget that, between the 23rd July and the 12th of August 2014, your Nectar points could be worth double, triple or more when exchanged for Double Up & More vouchers to spend on fun-filled days out this summer.

For more information and great summer holiday inspiration, visit the Nectar Summer Picks website at nectar.com/summer

Head over to the Nectar site and see what your points could get you – you’ve got nothing to lost by taking a look and you might be pleasantly surprised by just how much of a saving you could make, helping you to make summer really great!

nectar collage


Romantic Rendezvous

The lovely people at My Single Friend have asked me to take part in their Romantic Rendezvous competition, where I tell you about my most romantic encounter to be in with a chance of winning an ASOS voucher, worth up to £150.

My Husband and I have a slightly different idea of romance to most – I’m not a huge fan of gushing love poems, serenades or anything which might set off my over-active cringe gland, however, I managed to marry a man who is extraordinarily good at understated displays of romance, so I’m a very lucky girl! I get random bunches of flowers, not just for birthdays or Valentines, but when Husband senses that I need a pick-me-up, or he’ll do ridiculously adorable things like playing through my Skyrim so that I have enough money to buy a house!

The most traditionally ‘romantic’ moment we’ve shared was probably our wedding, which wasn’t actually very traditional at all, although the romance started way before the day.

Husband proposed to me six weeks after we’d met. We were both fairly tipsy and in the middle of a nightclub, celebrating a friends’ birthday when he turned to me and asked me to be his wife. Now, this may not sound like a romantic setting, but when someone you’ve met only 6 weeks ago, someone who had been vehemently opposed to the idea of marriage, tells you he wants to spend the rest of his life with you, that’s pretty damn romantic. Of course, I felt the same and said yes without hesitation.

Skip forward to our wedding.

We’d been very kindly given a lump sum of money by my Dad and told to have whatever type of wedding we wanted and after being bullied and pressured by certain parts of my family to do things their way, (soon to be)Husband and I decided that the wedding should be about US, so 2 weeks later we were jetting off to a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean to have our wedding in seclusion. I’d bought a dress from a high street shop, Husband got married in shorts and neither of us wore shoes!

On the day of our wedding, we were told to be ready by 6pm…and that’s all we knew. Far brom being the average Bridezilla, I had literally no idea what my wedding would be like, but it didn’t matter. At 6pm, we heard a knock on the door and we opened it to see a Maldivian band in full traditional dress waiting with huge drums to escort us up the beach to where we’d be wed. An aisle had been made from palm leaves and a shelter had also been constructed from leaves and flowers, under which we said our vows.

Standing there, with my Husband, with a wreath of tropical flowers lashed around both of our shoulders, we pledged our lives to each other. The azure Indian Ocean lapped at the shore as our toes sieved through the pure white sand – it could not have been more perfect. We were by ourselves but we only needed each other.

Maldives wedding

That evening, once we’d freshened up, we were led back to the aisle which was now dotted with gently flickering candles, and ate a meal of freshly caught lobsters and seafood, whilst drinking champagne and listening to the ocean just feet away. We didn’t need white dresses, DJs, embarrassing uncles doing the Macarena and the obligatory plastered on smiles for a billion overly-posed pictures.

It might not be everyone’s idea of romance, but it was definitely mine and knowing that we started our married lives in such an amazing way just made the whole experience something that we’ll never, ever forget.

What was YOUR most romantic experience?

Parenting · Technology

Living in a Digital World

Olpc-xo2I’ve written in the past that I’m definitely on the ‘for’ side when it comes to kids using electronic devices, and Sausage has a few which she uses regularly, including a Chromebook and a Nexus 7 tablet. She has a mixture of fun apps and sites that she uses, as well as some more education-driven content like the Babbel language app which she uses to learn rudimentary French. However, her time on these devices is pretty closely monitored, not least of all because looking down to use them has, on occasion, given her a headache.

That’s why, when Lenstore got in touch to ask me to take a look at the results of a survey they’d conducted and share it with my readers, I was pretty shocked by some of the findings. In the age bracket which Sausage falls into, 5-7 years, parents reported that their kids were using ‘digital devices’ for an average of 8.02 hours PER DAY, and of those hours the kids were predominantly using their devices for gaming. According to the survey, the main concerns expressed by parents were behavioural problems (31%), attention deficit (29%) addiction (24%) and eye strain (24%).

To be honest, my main concern is that some parents are letting their kids use a tablet or gaming system for EIGHT HOURS A DAY! No wonder these kids are getting eye strain! And, do bear in mind, 8 hours is an estimated average, which means that some parents must’ve reported times which were significantly higher, too.

The one part of the survey which did make me a little sad is that kids are also more likely to confidently use a mobile phone before being able to read or ride a bike. Parents these days are busier than ever, with many families being forced to have two full-time workers in order to afford to simply live, which means that it’s a lot easier for parents to let screens do their baby sitting, rather than having time to get the kids outside or teaching them how to ride a bike.

One thing which worries me is that less than half of parents surveyed with children aged 5-7 (41%) and 8-10 (49%) said they check their child’s online activity or even monitor their use of digital devices (5-7 year olds – 47% and 8-10 year olds – 48%). Husband and I are aware at all times of what Sausage is playing or browsing and we monitor closely which apps she installs, not just because of the potential for bankruptcy with the horrible ‘in-game extras’ which many apps advertise, but also because of the suitability of many apps. Kids are so computer savvy, which is mostly a good thing, but its all too possible to be too trusting of app developers when it comes to allowing kids to install things autonomously.

As long as Husband and I continue the way we are and monitor Sausage closely, I’m confident that we’ll manage to keep her safe and healthy, but I’m afraid to say that I can’t be so certain for other families.

Do you kids use digital devices? Do you monitor their screen time? Do you have concerns? Leave me a comment below.


Setting Them Up for the Future #sp

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comI don’t know if it’s because having two kids now makes this whole ‘grown up’ thing seem SO much more real, or the fact that I recently turned 30, but my mind has been turning to all sorts of responsible-adulty type things lately, such as wills, life insurance and savings. When I was little, my Nan and Grandad put money away for my cousins and I every week and when we were 18, presented us each with a cheque for £1000. This helped me to buy and insure my first car and really helped me out with my first few years as a driver, giving me the independence to go wherever I wanted to go.

Just recently, the rules surrounding ISAs were changed and Scottish Friendly issued a press release warning people that the changes mean that cash ISAs might not be working quite as well for your money as you might think they are.

Neil Lovatt, Scottish Friendly’s Director of Financial Products, said: “For every one investment ISA taken out, three cash ISAs are opened.

“Cash is easier to understand as it offers security and access to the savings without penalty that investment ISAs do not. People are being put off by what they think is pure equity investments and instead are opting for accounts that offer poor returns on their cash.

“The changes introduced in the budget gave savers a glimmer of hope and incentivised people to put more money aside each month. However, the Cash ISA market has not risen to the opportunity, instead choosing to offer low rates of interest on cash ISAs and in some cases actually reducing their rates for fear of overly high inflows”.

It’s good to know, as we started an ISA for Sausage when she was little and have mostly just left the money to its own devices, adding to it every now and then. We’ve been a bit slack with BB’s savings and haven’t started anything for her yet, but this new information has really given us food for thought and will probably mean that we think again about Sausage’s savings whilst sorting something out for BB.

Obviously, financial jiggery-pokery and investments can be more than a little daunting to the average person, so we plan to arrange an appointment with our bank and have a chat to them to see what they advise, so that we can make sure we maximise the girls’ savings for their futures. Scottish Friendly also has a really informative Twitter feed, full of links to useful articles and advice, aimed at keeping you up-to-date with all of the news regarding finance and banking.

Basically, the long and short of it is this: interest rates are being lowered, which is good if you’ve borrowed money, but not if you have a lump sum in a savings account or ISA as you won’t be earning as much interest overall. Investments may be riskier but could provide you with a much better return on your savings. You have been warned!

And that, my friends, is where this Public Service Announcement ends!