Energy Saving Tips You Might Not Have Thought Of

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We all pride ourselves on doing our bit to save energy – not just for the environment, but to cut down on our household bills.

When it comes to saving energy, I assumed that it was all a matter of common sense.

Recycle, turn the heating down when you can, switch off appliances when not in use… that sort of thing.

But once I’d done the Happier Homes energy quiz, I was surprised to score just 3-4 points on a scale which went up to 10. And I’m no dunce (honest!)

I bet there’s a few things on there you’d never thought of.

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Preparing Your Teen For The Road

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The many stages of childhood are just many stages of worry for parents, as far as I’m concerned.

At first, you worry about whether they’ll sleep through the night. When they do, you go through the milestones of walking, talking, eating solids, potty training (urrrrghhh!) – all the time worrying whether they’ll do it in good time and without any mishaps.

Then it’s school. Will they struggle to read and write? Will they make enough friends? Find confidence? Avoid bullies?

We’re at the schooldays stage now, having survived those early worries, and so far my boys seem to be coping well.

The next stage I’m dreading is when they’re learning to drive.

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Competition: Win a festive kids costume

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Dressing up is one of my boys’ favourite pastimes – although I’ll admit the last time Brodie donned a Christmas costume he looked like this…

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A Christmas Message, From John

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It’s been trending on social media today.

And when I really think about it, it’s become a bit of a Christmas tradition for us over the last few years. Perhaps it’s the same in your household too.

The John Lewis Christmas advert marks the start of the festive season for me and the kids.

I always want to see how they can possibly top the previous year. Sometimes they do. And sometimes, in my humble opinion, they don’t.

But it doesn’t matter to the boys. In the same way I remember the cheesy adverts of the 1980s from my childhood, I know their nostalgia when they grow up will include the festive commercials from their youth, and in particular the ones from this store which always seem to capture their imagination.

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When Did The World Become Infant-Intolerant?

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We took a family holiday over the October half-term.

Staying in a beautiful hotel on the sunshine island of Lanzarote, our all-inclusive package included a visit to the on-site Italian restaurant. The rest of the time, we ate in the chaotic canteen-style family restaurant with a variety of hot food stations, constant chatter, and queues of people.

It was just after being seated in the plush waiter-service Italian eaterie, which was quieter and more sedate, that we watched two women in their 50s arrive and ask if they could have a table.

Staff explained the restaurant was fully-booked and hotel guests needed to reserve a table a few days in advance. It wasn’t possible to fit them in. That’s when one of the women made a desperate plea:

“But we’ve been travelling since 3am to get here, we’re exhausted, and we don’t want to have to put up with children everywhere.”

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The great Halloween surprise

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So we arrived back from our hols in Lanzarote the night before Halloween and Mr G ran down to the supermarket to pick up the traditional pumpkins…

…just in time to see the last one being sold.

Well, it had been a great holiday, but it looked like our little monsters were about to pay for it by missing out on one of their favourite parts of this spooky night. Everyone in our street displays a pumpkin to show who’s happy to receive Trick or Treaters at their door.

So I was wracking my brain to think of what I could carve as a replacement. It wasn’t looking good.

Then a courier service knocked at our door.

The lovely folk at The Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow had sent us a Halloween surprise of a fabulous pumpkin with my boys’ names carved on it.

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The Big Hour Tea Time for The Rainbow Trust

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Have you ever uttered that phrase “There just aren’t enough hours in the day”?

What if you felt like that was literally true – like time with your loved ones was slipping away?

The children’s charity Rainbow Trust is asking people across the UK to take part in its biggest annual fundraising and awareness campaign known as The Big Hour Tea Time.

The event is centred on that extra hour gained when the clocks go back later this month, highlighting how crucial one hour is for families caring for a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness.

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Review: Nintendo 3DS XL

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Brodie got a Nintendo 3DS XL to try out, and took his role as a reviewer very seriously.

My eldest son is 8 years old and in Primary 4. He’s had an original Nintendo DS for the past couple of years, which we bought second hand to see whether he’d like it or play with it regularly.

It gets picked up much more in the colder months, when he’s stuck indoors. Or we bring it on long journeys or visits to doctor’s waiting rooms and the like, when it helps to pass the time.

Brodie likes to stay active, so gaming consoles aren’t always on his radar. But he does like returning to his DS every now and then, especially when there are new games to be tried.

We were also lucky enough to get New Super Mario Bros 2 to play on the console.

So what is 3DS XL?

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Review: Nintendo 2DS

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The trouble with games consoles is that no sooner do you buy one, the company brings out a new, upgraded version.

Before you know it, you can’t get games for your old-fashioned console any more. And all the newest, latest games your kids are nagging you to get are only accessible to them if you fork out another £100-200 for version 2.0 of the player.

It annoys me. And with this in mind, a couple of Christmases ago, when we were buying the boys their very first Nintendo DS consoles, we got second hand reconditioned ones from a store.

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What I learned from the Independence Referendum

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Well it’s all over now.

That is, the vote has happened. But the discussions and recriminations will continue for a long time to come.

In the end, 44.7% of Scotland said Yes to Independence. Leaving 55.3% preferring to remain in the United Kingdom.

I made no secret of how I was voting, but the closer we got to September 18, the harder it became to predict the outcome.

Passions, and in some cases tempers, were running high. Staying away from political discussion was like trying to get out of quicksand – the more you struggled, the more you got sucked in. Especially on social media.

But here are some things I learned from Scotland’s historic referendum:

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