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    Thursday, March 19, 2009

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  2. Tots100 - The Top 100 British Parent Blogs!

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009
    Over at Totsy's Place, Tracey and Lisa have meticulously compiled a list of the top 100 most influential parent blogs in the UK. Using "currency", "influence" and "popularity" as the basis for a scoring system, over 250 blogs were discovered, analyzed and ranked.

    The Tots 100 Index will be updated regularly, including details of movement up and down the ranks in future editions.

    Here are the current top ten Brisith parenting blogs:
    1. Petite Anglaise
    2. Wife in the North
    3. Jo Beaufoix
    4. Alpha Mummy
    5. My Boyfriend is a Tw@t
    6. Crystal Jigsaw
    7. Babyccino
    8. A Modern Mother
    9. Single Parent Dad 
    10. Notes from Inside My Head
    I'm thrilled to see this list has been published, not least because this offers an opportunity to connect with more British based parent bloggers ;)

    Take a look at the complete list, especially if you're looking for interesting, funny and entertaining blogs to read!
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  3. Grown-Up Games for Nintendo DS

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009
    When I told my husband that I wanted a Nintendo DS for Christmas, his face was a picture of utter disbelief. "Why on earth do you want one of those?" he asked. "Video games are for kids!"

    Thankfully I was armed with a list of "grown-up" games I was just dying to play, not to mention the plethora of recent television adverts featuring Patrick Stewart, Fern Britton and many others besides whose fame and persuasiveness have helped a nation of adults understand that Nintendo produce enjoyable games for adults too.

    So here is my list of "grown-up" games for the Nintendo DS: educational, insightful and wholly enjoyable (without a red capped Italian nor a fuzzy yellow hamster in sight).

    Brain Training

    I have no doubt that this must be the most popular Nintendo DS game ever to hit the shelves. Every DS-toting mommy I know has a copy of this, and with good reason too!

    Dr. Kawashima promises to help develop your brain through short stimulating exercises performed daily (or when you have a few moments to spare). From reading aloud to solving quick mathematic equations, sudolu challenges and much more. Brain training is a game you can play in your coffee break and even in the few minutes waiting in the car park for your children to come out of school feeling smug in the knowledge that your memory and knowledge is improving every day.

    Learn more about Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training | Buy from Amazon

    Cooking Guide: Can't decide what to eat?

    This was the first title I bought when I acquired my own DS and is known as "Personal Trainer Cooking" in the US. Far better (and easier) than using a recipe book, cooking guide takes you through each step of creating delicious recipes from around the world using visual and voice activated prompts. No more messy pages!

    You can choose the recipe you want by browsing by region, ingredient and even the time taken to prepare/cook your meal. Starters, side-dishes, main meals and desserts are all included. I was impressed to find even Tunisian cous-cous as one of the recipes available which I finally learned how to cook without creating a huge sludgy mess (Hubby dearest was impressed!).

    Learn more about Cooking Guide | Buy from Amazon

    101 Classic Book Collection

    With this title you can turn your Nintendo DS into a pocket sized library for all your favorite literary classics. Featuring the works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen and even Jules Verne you can hold your DS as you would a book; change the font sizes and even add bookmarks so you don't lose the place where you were reading.

    Classis Book Collection offers recommended reading based on the titles you enjoyed the most, and extra content which can be downloaded by wi-fi connection. There has never been a better excuse to indulge in a little Pride and Prejudice...

    Learn more about 100 Classic Book Collection | 100 Classic Book Collection (Nintendo DS)

    Personal Yoga Training

    After the success of Wii-Fit, we are starting to see physical training games appear on the Nintendo DS. Personal Yoga Training promises to help teach you the basics of yoga in just 15 minutes a day to help you relax, develop a better posture and maintain calm in your hectic life.

    Personal Yoga Training (Nintendo DS)

    Walk With Me

    This game has not yet been released in the UK but it is certainly a title I am looking forward to. Walk With Me will come complete with two Activity Pedometers to help track how much walking you have done each day.

    Using amusing activities such as the "walk through space" and images of the world which can be uncovered when you have walked sufficient distances, this game will encourage you to take up one of the healthiest and cheapest fitness activities.

    Learn more about Walk WIth Me | Buy from Amazon

    The Times Crossword Challenge

    Do you love crosswords? Spare the bulky newspapers and treat yourself to the Times Crossword Challenge instead.  You can set the difficulty level to the standard most suitable for you and use either the stylus or buttons to complete your crossword challenges.

    Read more about The Times Crossword Challenge

    Professor Layton and the Curious Village

    This list would not be complete without my all-time favorite game!

    Professor Layton is a Sherlock Holmes inspired detective called to the village of St. Mystere to solve the puzzle of the Golden Apple. To progress through the game, you must solve a mind-boggling series of logical and lateral puzzles which increase in difficulty as you get closer to solving the riddle of the village.

    Honestly, this game still astounds me! Between puzzles you can view beautifully animated cut-scenes, and once you've discovered the solution to the mystery you can continue play by downloading extra content via your Wi-Fi connection.

    Learn more about Professor Layton and the Curious Village | Buy from Amazon

    What are your favorite Nintendo titles?

    Are you already a Nintendo DS convert? What are your favorite "grown up" games for the handheld DS? Please feel free to add your comments and recommendations below.

    Image credit: Pink DS by Shrk via Flickr Creative Commons
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  4. Real Meals Booklet Encourages our Kids to Cook (and is handy for Moms too!)

    If you're looking for a helpful way to encourage your kids to learn to cook, here it is: the Real Meals cookbook which was recently published by our government in an initiative to teach 11 year olds the basics of healthy cookery.

    Available for all Year 7 students through their school, this booklet offers 32 healthy and delicious recipes with easy instructions which is designed especially with young teenagers in mind. The Real Meals recipes were chosen after the public was asked to nominate the basic dishes every child should learn how to cook. What's more, the booklet has been endorsed by the celebrity chef Phil Vickery:
    Cooking is a skill and often it is not learned at an early enough age. Once you can cook the basics you will have the best survival tool in the box to take you into adult life. Eating good quality meals made from basic ingredients should be part of everyone’s daily experience and by learning how to prepare simple and nutritious meals we will make this a reality (Source).
    What I love most about this booklet is that the recipes are simple, easy to follow and based on frugally priced ingredients! Besides offering this to your children, you may well be inclined to cook a few of these yourself!

    You can purchase a hard copy of the Real Meals booklet for £7.99 by calling 0845 60 222 60 (as it's only available for free distribution through schools). However, you can read/download each individual recipe online through the Teachernet website, or download a full PDF copy from the Direct.gov website using the link below:

    Download the Real Meals Cookbook (PDF)

    I hope you enjoy reading through these recipes as much as I did!
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  5. Introducing YourFamily.org.uk - Parenting advice for families with Small Children

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    The NSPCC's newest venture, YourFamily.org.uk, offers an invaluable resource for parents with young children.

    Honestly, this site is wonderful! It's wonderfully designed, offers easy navigation to articles of interest, and - most importantly- it includes the most helpful interactive parenting feature I have ever seen: a digital nanny!

    A digital nanny?

    The Digital Nanny feature can be found on the home page (near the bottom) and on most internal pages in the sidebar to the right. To use this, type the name of your child and their age, then use the drop-down menus to choose the specific advice you would like for your child. Once you're done, you'll receive personalized advice specifically geared towards helping you with your problem or question.

    Things to do with the kids

    YourFamily offers loads of fun and creative ideas for things to do with your children, from days out in your area to creative crafts and healthy recipes the kids will love to help make.

    There are loads of videos you can watch on the site too which are fun to watch with your little angels before trying out these ideas for yourself.

    Go take a look for yourself!

    If you have young children, you really ought to check YourFamily.org.uk out for yourself to see what's on offer and how this site could be useful for you too. The site is regularly updated with new features, tips and videos and also includes a forum where you can discuss parenting issues with other mums and dads in the UK.

    Visit YourFamily.org.uk
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  6. Find money saving tips with Google's Tip Jar

    Saturday, March 14, 2009
    Tip Jar is a collection of money saving tips ranked by members of the online community. Organized into sections like Finance, Kids and Family or Food, this user submitted directory offers useful tried and tested advice to help you save money (which is especially important for us now in this time of economic insecurity!).

    Some of my favorite tips include:

    Give a gift of a service instead of an item. For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Offer up some lawn care as a gift to a new homeowner (by The Simple Dollar)

    Celebrate saving: Discuss with your kids an appropriate and safe place to keep their money (e.g., piggy bank, plastic container, wallet, etc.). Put a picture of the item for which they are saving on the “bank” to reinforce visually. (by Choose to Save)

    Turn off the lights in the rooms of your house that you are not occupying. Make it a habit to flip the switch each time you leave a room. Save electricity and save on your bill. (by Crista)

    Use your library's online catalog to order books, movies, audiobooks and CDs. My library sends me an email when they are ready for pickup. It's as easy as Blockbuster, but free. (by Johny)

    You can also register to add your own money-saving tips, to comment or vote on those submitted by others. Also if you are interested in similar sites of this genre, you will encounter loads of links to other fantastic sites which offer mmoney saving tips and articles, such as The Simple Dollar, Zen Habits and more.

    If (like me) you like to spend five minutes doing something constructive in your coffee break, this is certainly a site you should visit ;)
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