Should We Ask Disney To Depict Characters With Learning Disabilities?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 9 December, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Should We Ask Disney To Depict Characters With Learning Disabilities?

A mum from California, whose daughter has Down's Syndrome, has started a petition to call on Disney to create  a character with a learning disability. The mum has already amassed more than 80,000 signatures in support of the idea.

The Telegraph reports:

Disney is branching out with its princesses. Frozen and Brave saw its strongest, independent female princesses, and the box office figures proved just how much the viewers loved them. 

But the company is yet to feature a princess who has a learning disability.

It’s why parents are now petitioning for the company to create a Disney princess with Down’s syndrome.

Keston Ott-dahl says her daughter can't relate to the role models depicted in Disney movies, and thus wants Disney to represent children with Down's Syndrome in their animated films.

She writes:

Disney does a great job of depicting right from wrong. It has long been providing wonderful moral lessons that teach our children to be good people - but sadly, the company comes up short in one critical area. 

Its movies have almost no representation of disabled people, those often bullied and looked down upon by their fellow children. 

What wonderful lessons of diversity, compassion, and acceptance Disney could teach our kids if they promoted disabled characters as heroes and heroines in their beloved movies!

What do you think? Would you like to see more relatable characters in Disney films, including those with disabilities?

Image credit: Keston Ott-dahl

The Nativity Play Nightmare...

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 8 December, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The Nativity Play Nightmare...

The world can be roughly divided into two kinds of mothers; those whose offspring consistently land a starring role in the school Nativity play every year, and those whose little darlings are routinely relegated to the part of 'crowd member', back-end of the donkey or - worst of all - bale of hay. (Yes, I actually know someone whose child was cast as a hay bale...)

Which one are you?

My own kids are both narrators this year, but in the past they've been sheep, travellers (as in people travelling to Bethlehem, not gypsies, I hasten to add) and - my personal favourite - aliens. I think they must have really been scraping the bottom of the barrel to find enough parts for the whole class that year.

I adore the Nativity with a passion - no other event in the school calendar can reduce me to a snivelling mess at the same time as making me feel positively aglow with Christmas cheer - but I am hearing some cracking stories from other mums about everything from the ridiculous demands being issued from their child's school for Nativity costumes, to the lengths some mums are prepared to go to in order to land their child a lead role.

So I laughed out loud when I read this piece in the Telegraph about the tantrums, foot-stamping and rivalry that are routinely provoked by the school Nativity play - and that's just among the mums. Get this:

"In extreme cases, parents have been known to take their grievances direct to rival parents, as one mum recounts: “My daughter was picked quite out of the blue as the main part in a school play. One of the mums whose child normally got the main role came up to me and said, 'I don’t understand why your daughter has got the part. There isn’t anything special about her.’ ” Practise your hard stare in advance."

So c'mon. Hit us with your best (worst?) Nativity play horror stories...

Image credit: Flickr/Ian Turk

THAT Clintons Christmas Card: Highly Offensive Or Cheeky Banter?

by Nada in Misc on 8 December, 2014 at 2:12 pm

 THAT Clintons Christmas Card: Highly Offensive Or Cheeky Banter?

I had the radio on yesterday and I couldn't believe my ears, that Clintons had been selling a Christmas card so offensive that it had to be removed from the shelves. The laptop got switched on immediately, as I just HAD to find out what all the furore was about.

Wow! That is one controversial Christmas card! You can see it above and read the content of it. It is comparing Santa to those that live on a Council Estate. As someone that has previously lived on a very rough council estate, that is littered with crime, I could not believe my eyes.

It doesn't make me feel upset, but it certainly makes me feel uneasy. In this day and age, how can it be possible that a card with such a cutting message can be placed on sale at a time of year that represents goodwill?

On scouting the internet, I have came across MANY comments that are of opposite opinion to mine. People stating that the world has gone PC (Politically Correct) mad and that it's just tongue-in-cheek banter. Is this just another acceptable piece of humour that stereotypes council estate residents, like Shameless is?

There's already a massive divide in society at present, does this sort of thing inflame the situation or do you agree that it's just silliness and a bit of "cheeky banter"?

We would LOVE to here your views on this matter over on our Facebook page.

Online Christmas Shopping Cut-Off Dates

by Nada in Misc on 6 December, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Online Christmas Shopping Cut-Off Dates

If like me you cannot bear going to those hot, stuffy, packed-out stores to do your Christmas shopping, then chances are you have been making use of your computer, phone or tablet, and making all of those festive purchases online. A tip for ALL of you that still have gifts to buy, check out our vouchers section for those codes that may just save you that little extra at this expensive time of year.

As you all know, that time is coming near when shopping online becomes a gamble on whether or not that present will arrive on time. So, us PlayPennies lot thought we would help you out and compile a list of the cut-off dates for online retailers.

Here it is: 

  • Argos: NEXT DAY- 22nd December, Reserve and Collect- 24th December, Same Day- 23rd December MIDDAY and Large Items- 20th December.
  • ASOS: STANDARD - 18/12/2014  Next Day - 23/12/2014,  Next Day Evening - 23/12/2014,  COLLECT+ STANDARD DELIVERY TO STORE - 18/12/2014  and COLLECT+ NEXT DAY DELIVERY TO STORE - 22/12/2014
  • Boohoo: Standard Delivery  - 20th Dec and Express Delivery - 22nd Dec
  • Clarks: Collect from Store, Standard Delivery and Collect+  is 17th December by 3pm and Next Day Delivery you can order by 22nd December at 6pm
  • Disney Store: Personalised Gifts - Monday 15th December, UK Standard - Wednesday 17th December and UK Express - Monday 22nd December
  • Topshop/Topman:  Standard Delivery  20th Dec 4pm,  Express Delivery 23rd Dec 4pm, Collect from Store Standard 14th Dec 7pm and Collect from Store Express 22nd Dec 7pm
  • JD Sports/Bank/Scotts: Standard 21st Dec , Next Day 23rd  Dec, Saturday 19th Dec
  • Mamas & Papas: UK - Delivery of Standard Items Standard Wednesday 17th December, Choose your day Saturday 20th December, Next Day Monday 22nd December, Saturday Delivery Thursday 18th  December, Morning (pre 1pm) Thursday 18th  December, Click & Collect - Sunday 21st December AND Bulky Items Choose Your Day Sunday 14th December and Saturday Delivery Sunday 14th December. For Northern Ireland and Highlands & Islands: Last day is 16th December.
  • Smyths: Click and Collect- 23rd December
  • Marks and Spencer: Home UK- Standard delivery 19th Dec, Next day/express 22nd Dec and Click and Collect UK Next day/express 23rd Dec. Gift vouchers UK Standard delivery 18th Dec and Next day/express 23rd Dec.
  • Sainsburys:  Last Order date - Monday, 22nd December
  • Sports Direct: Express UK delivery Tuesday 23rd December, Standard UK delivery – order by Friday 19th December and Collect in store UK – order by Tuesday 16th  December.
  • Royal MailUK Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am® or 1pm - Tuesday 23rd December 2014, Royal Mail Tracked 24® - Monday 22nd December 2014, Royal Mail Tracked 48® - Saturday 20th December 2014, Royal Mail 24® - Saturday 20th December 2014, Royal Mail 48® - Thursday 18th December 2014. INTERNATIONAL Western Europe (excluding Greece, Poland) - Saturday 13th December 2014, USA - Friday 12th December 2014, Canada, Poland - Tuesday 9th December 2014, Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Greece - Monday 8th December 2014, Africa, Caribbean, Central & South America, Middle East - Friday 5th December 2014, Australia - Thursday 4th December 2014 and Asia, Far East (including Japan), New Zealand - Wednesday 3rd December 2014.

Keep checking here as we plan on keeping you guys in the loop as soon as we find out more information on different retailers.

Should Breastfeeding Women Sit In A Corner?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 5 December, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Should Breastfeeding Women Sit In A Corner?

I hardly know where to begin with this. So let me just come right out and repeat the facts. Nigel Farage appears to have suggested that it's acceptable for an establishment like Claridge's to ask breastfeeding women to sit in a corner whilst nursing their babies.

The hotel sparked a media furore this week after asking a mother to breastfeed underneath a cloth.

The Guardian reports:

Nigel Farage has backed the decision of Claridge’s hotel to ask a breastfeeding woman to cover up, saying that mothers should “perhaps sit in the corner” when they breastfeed.

The leader of the UK Independence Party said he didn't feel strongly about the issue of breastfeeding in public but added that "people of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it". He also suggested that women ought to feed their babies in a way that wasn't ostentatious.

During a radio interview, Farage was asked whether women should be told to breastfeed their babies in the toilets, to which he replied:

"“Or perhaps sit in the corner, or whatever it might be – that’s up to Claridge’s. It’s not an issue that I get terribly hung up about, but I know particularly people of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it.”

I will never wrap my head around why anyone can get their knickers in a twist about a woman using her mammaries as Nature intended them to be used, and yet we still have women posing topless in the pages of national newspapers.

He later added:

“Let me get this clear, as I said on the radio and as I repeat now, I personally have no problem with mothers breastfeeding wherever they want,” he said. “What I said was - and it is immensely frustrating that I have to explain this - is that if the establishment in question, in this case Claridge’s, wants to maintain rules about this stuff, then that is up to them, as it should be. I remarked that perhaps they might ask women to sit in a corner. Did I say I believe they should have to? No. Did I say I personally endorse this concept? No."

Hmm. So what's your view? 

Image credit: Flickr/ChrisAlbanHansen

You HAVE To Read This If You Buy Head & Shoulders From Discount Stores!

by Nada in Misc on 5 December, 2014 at 12:04 pm

You HAVE To Read This If You Buy Head & Shoulders From Discount Stores!

When you shop in discount stores like B&M or Trago Stores, you expect to find brand name products at cut down prices. What you don't expect is to find that you have purchased a counterfeit product. Unfortunately, this has become the case with bottles of Head and Shoulders in a few B&M and Trago Stores across the United Kingdom.

Numerous newspapers have reported that certain bottles of counterfeit Head and Shoulders have been taken off of the shelves in B&M and Trago Stores. Apparently, these aren't just harmless copies, but have been said to contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals have allegedly been causing irritation and sores to the scalps of users.

It has been reported by several websites and papers that one sample of the fake shampoo contained a so-called "sex-change" chemical. Also known as Endocrine Disrupters.

Trago Stores and B&M both were unwillingly selling these items as fakes as they have stated that they were from a reputable supplier whom they have a long-standing business relationship with. These were immediately withdrawn from sale as soon as the retailers were alerted.

We will keep you posted if we find out any more about this story. If you believe you have bought some fake Head and Shoulders then get in contact with the store you purchased it from straight away and DO NOT USE IT under any circumstances.

Easy Kids Christmas Breakfast

by Luschka van Onselen in Misc on 4 December, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Easy Kids Christmas BreakfastWe're all busy working parents here at PlayPennies, much like many of our readers, so we're always looking for quick and easy ways to make especially this time of year a little bit special for our kids. We loved these easy decorations for crumpets and pancakes and figured it's something most of us could largely successfully actually do.

Are Home Births Safer For Mothers?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 4 December, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Are Home Births Safer For Mothers?

Did you have a home birth, or did you give birth in a midwife-led unit? If so, we'd love to hear about your experience.

Because according to official comment from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) today, home births and midwife-led centres are "better for mothers and often as safe for babies".

The BBC reports:

Susan Bewley, professor of complex obstetrics at King's College London and part of the team that developed the guidelines, said: "Midwifery-led settings have better outcomes for mothers than the traditional obstetric units and labour wards.

"They may be particularly suitable for all women because the rates of intervention are lower." 

However, she stressed the emphasis was on choice.

"There isn't a one-size-fits-all model for all women and that's why a range of settings providing different support for women with different needs gives you better safety overall," she added.

On the other hand, a faintly terrifying story in the Daily Mail presents an alternative view - although I don't recommend you read it if you're a first time mum or are due to give birth soon.

The premise behind these most recent headlines seems to be that 45% of women are considered low-risk and thus may be "better off" giving birth somewhere other than the doctor-led obstetric units in hospital where nine out of ten of the 700,000 babies born each year are welcomed into the world.

 

However, the new NICE guidelines state that 45% of women are at extremely low risk of complications, and that those mothers may be better off giving birth elsewhere.

Of course, the problem is that even low risk pregnancies can get complicated at the eleventh hour, and then there's the fact that some women just wouldn't feel safe giving birth outside of a hospital setting.

What's your view?

Is It Wine O'Clock Once The Kids Are In Bed?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 2 December, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Is It Wine O'Clock Once The Kids Are In Bed?

I know loads of parents for whom 7pm means only one thing: one o'clock. No sooner are their little darlings all tucked up in bed and it's time to uncork the Merlot.

Not in my house, I hasten to add. For one thing we're more beer drinkers than winos, and I try - oh, how I try - to stick to a no-booze-on-a-school-night rule in general.

But sobering words from the head of Public Health England might persuade many more parents to think twice about declaring it wine o'clock as soon as the kids are in bed.

The Daily Mail reports:

"An NHS chief has said alcohol is becoming a 'silent killer' in the UK as he warned middle class drinkers that a glass of wine is just as harmful as downing three shots of vodka."

"Duncan Selbie, the head of Public Health England, said deaths from alcohol-related illnesses had soared by 500 per cent since the seventies to become the third biggest killer of working age people in the UK. Britain is now the only country in western Europe except Finland where cases of liver disease are increasing."

"Mr Selbie added that the middle classes would often pour themselves a glass of wine at the end of the day with 'no idea' how much they were actually drinking."

Oof. That's not easy to swallow. Because while few of us (I hope) would think about downing three shots of vodka on a regular basis of an evening, I know plenty of people who see a nightly glass of wine - which is undoubtedly likely to be a rather generous measure - as a harmless wind-down ritual that marks the end of the day and the beginning of what we call 'grown-up time' in our house.

On the other hand, I've also encountered people who resolutely refuse to drink alcohol with kids in the house in the event that they might need to make an emergency dash to hospital for some unforeseen medical emergency.

So where do you sit on this issue? We'd love to hear your thoughts...

Baby Showers: Love 'Em Or Loathe 'Em?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 27 November, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Baby Showers: Love 'Em Or Loathe 'Em?

The words 'baby shower' always put me on edge. It's not that I'm against the idea of throwing a party to celebrate someone's impending new motherhood - more that I managed to go into labour on the same day as mine, so I never did get to play a bunch of silly games revolving around the contents of a newborn's nappy theme. And yeah, I still feel a bit cheated.

(That's not a party trick I recommend, by the way. The organiser of my baby shower spent an hour standing on my doorstep in the rain wondering why I wasn't in on the day of my own baby shower, or why I wouldn't answer her calls. Fortunately, when I later explained, she was quick to appreciate that giving birth makes multi-tasking kinda tricky...)

But according to a story I heard on the radio today, one recent study suggests that British women spend £220 million on baby showers every year. Whether that's on throwing them or attending them, I'm not sure. But we all know from attending weddings that even being the guest at someone else's special event can be a costly endeavour. And since no self-respecting celeb seems capable of popping out a sprog these days without first throwing a lavish baby shower - complete with double page spread in a glossy mag, of course - I'm guessing we can blame them for the rise in popularity of baby showers for us mere mortals.

So I'm wondering where you stand when it comes to baby showers? Do you think they're a tacky tradition that we should never have adopted from across the pond, or a touching way to mark new motherhood and prepare for your new arrival with your best friends gathered around you?

Did you have a baby shower, or did you point-blank refuse one if friends or family suggested throwing one for you?

Image credit: Flickr/Kiss My Buttercream

Safety Warning On Dangerous Disney Frozen Snap Bands

by Luschka van Onselen in Misc on 26 November, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Safety Warning On Dangerous Disney Frozen Snap Bands
We're all trying to find the best deals we can for everything from Christmas gifts to stockings, but there really is value in making sure that the toys and accessories we're buying for our kids are up to the job. Today Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards warned parents to check the Disney Frozen snap bracelets bought from - in general - auction sites. When the pretty Frozen veneer is lifted, it looks like these 'kids accessories' have a dangerous inside, cut from a metal tape measure.

Now, I'm no DIY/handyman, but my dad used to have a metal tape measure and I've used them a few times. I'm not convinced that they're as dangerous as all that, but would I hand one to my children in the guise of a toy? Probably not. In general, really, you want toys that don't risk cutting your kids. I don't imagine using it as a snap itself is what will cause damage, but a child grabbing one from a sibling, or fighting over it - not only my kids, right? - could possibly cause a cut.

And even if the risk of that is really very small, that's kind of not the point: kids toys shouldn't be made with materials not fit for purpose. The Trading Standards office is urging consumers to think twice about buying products from within the EU that haven't been safety tested.

Further investigation from parents into other snap bracelets have shown similar problems. A PlayPennies Parent sent us these photos of a snap band her children were given at a safety event - oh the irony. When she opened them up to have a look, she found it to contain quite a sharp metal strip, also covered in thin plastic. Safety Warning On Dangerous Disney Frozen Snap Bands

So, the moral of the story - check the goodies you buy your kids! Don't get a gift that turns nasty.

Seven Year Old Girl Takes On Tesco For Gender Stereotyping... And Wins!

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 26 November, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Seven Year Old Girl Takes On Tesco For Gender Stereotyping... And Wins!

Do you ever get fed up of the way toys are marketed to kids on the basis of their gender? Well, one spirited little girl has had enough of it too, and her mother  this week took it upon herself to do something about it.

The Independent reports:

A 7-year-old girl has taught Tesco a lesson, after a photo of her looking disgruntled next to an advert for a superhero clock captioned: “fun gifts for boys” saw the supermarket agree to remove the sign from its stores.

Karen Cole, mother of the young girl, Maggie,  tweeted a photo of her daughter standing next to a Marvel Comics alarm clock at the Tower Park branch of Tesco in Poole, Dorset looking mightily unimpressed. The photo has since been retweeted over 11,000 times.

Karen Cole tweeted:

Seven Year Old Girl Takes On Tesco For Gender Stereotyping... And Wins!

She also tweeted her message to @LetToysBeToys - a campaign to take gender stereotyping out of the way that toys are marketed.

According to Tesco, the signs will be removed from all of their branches.

Go Maggie! A proper little superhero for our days.

Elsa & Anna Knock Barbie Off The Top Spot For Christmas

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 25 November, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Elsa & Anna Knock Barbie Off The Top Spot For Christmas

Is your Christmas shopping marked by Frozen fever this year?

Are you one of those parents who are feverishly refreshing Amazon's Lightning Deals every hour on the hour in the hopes of stumbling across a Frozen find, or do you stalk the Disney Store website and wonder if it's a step too far to actually camp outside one when whatever piece of Frozen merchandise you're after comes back in stock?

If so, it's definitely not just in your house because according to the National Retail Federation in the USA and their Holiday Top Toys survey, Barbie has been knocked off the top spot by those Let It Go girls.

The Daily Mail reports that Barbie has been top of the Christmas gift list for parents of girls for the past 11 years, and that this is the first time she's been beaten. No offence, Anna and Elsa, but I'd steer clear of Barbie this festive season just in case she's feeling a little put out.

Unsurprisingly, Lego is still number one on the present list for parents of boys, according to the survey.

So tell me, apart from Frozen dolls, what's the must-get item in your house this year when it comes to Christmas shopping for the kids?

My lot have reached an age where they're incredibly hard to buy for - and Frozen dolls definitely won't cut it - so I really need some inspiration.

What are the lucky little boys and girls in your lives going to be waking up to on Christmas morning?

And is ANYBODY still buying a Barbie?!

Easy Christmas Tree Wire Tidy Hack

by Luschka van Onselen in Misc on 22 November, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Have you ever sat down to enjoy your beautiful Christmas tree and found yourself wondering and worrying about all the cables? More so if you have young children or animals around? One of our team came up with a great idea for how to tidy up all those Christmas cables and plugs: Easy Christmas Tree Wire Tidy Hack

We were debating whether there's any danger as a fire hazard here, but maybe if you put an oven safe dish inside the box, it'll be a little safer, but don't quote us on that!

What do you think?

Should New Mums Be Bribed to Breastfeed?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 21 November, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Should New Mums Be Bribed to Breastfeed?

According to a news story in today's Telegraph newspaper, the NHS is planning to "bribe' new mums to breastfeed, in a bid to tackle the low rates of breastfeeding in parts of the UK.

The paper reports:

"Trials which offered women up to £200 in shopping vouchers if they breastfed their children found half of those offered the initiative signed up for it, and two thirds breastfed for six weeks."

"Now researchers have expanded the controversial experiment."

"More than 4,000 women will now be offered the scheme, which pays out £120 in vouchers for those who breastfeed for six weeks, rising to £200 for those who reach six months."

It's hoped if that offering vouchers for breastfeeding will significantly increase what an expert called "stubbornly low breastfeeding rates" and be a "cost effective use of UK public funds".

Call me naive, but I just can't see that slinging wads of cash at women who would otherwise choose not breastfeed is really all it takes to make them change their minds.

But if it does, then I don't mind admitting that I'm in favour of the plan. If that's what it takes to help persuade mums to breastfeed their babies, then I can't really see what the fuss is about. Yes, it would be lovely if more mums felt inclined to breastfeed without there having to be a financial incentive for doing so, but it's a decision that does require support.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this. If you didn't breastfeed, would you have considered doing so in return for shopping vouchers which could be spent on nappies, baby clothes, groceries and other essentials for the family?

Or are you a mum who did breastfeed but feels that the scheme is in some way inappropriate? Let the debate begin...

Image credit: Flickr/Sergio Maistrello

Lammily: The Realistic Doll With Cellulite, Acne & Stretchmarks

by Nada in Misc on 21 November, 2014 at 10:30 am

Lammily: The Realistic Doll With Cellulite, Acne & Stretchmarks

Do you think that Barbie and other fashion dolls create unrealistic expectations of what a woman should look like? Some people blame Barbie for eating disorders and low self-esteem. What if we gave our daughters a doll that was perhaps a bit more realistic?

Meet Lammily, the doll with the average 19 year old's body proportions. She was created by Nickolay Lamm, an artist from the USA.  You may have seen the images of a "fat" Barbie circulating social media sites like Facebook over the last few months. This was the beginning for Nickolay, to design a doll that shows that "average is beautiful".

Lammily, has proved to be a global sensation, due to her true-to-life presentation. Her hair is much more like human hair, and less like fishing wire. Now, you can get transfers for the Lammily doll, of tattoos, cellulite, stretchmarks, acne and freckles.

Is this doll a much better example of the "average" body? Personally, I see nothing wrong with Barbie. After all, she is a doll. I loved my Barbie dolls, but never ever aspired to be like her.

Which would you rather give to your little girl, a Barbie or a Lammily? Do you think Barbie dolls attribute to body image pressure in teenagers?  We want to know what you think, join the discussion, over on our Facebook page.

Bedtime Stories: If Only Kids Never Grew Out Of Them...

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 20 November, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Bedtime Stories: If Only Kids Never Grew Out Of Them...

I read a touching article in the paper this week about a mum's feelings when her daughter called time on bedtime stories read by mum and dad.

The mother writes in the Telegraph:

My husband, Carl, has also been summarily dismissed. “I’m big enough to read to myself,” she declared as she climbed into bed and handed him a battered edition of Lemony Snicket’s final offering the other evening. “When we’ve finished this I don’t want you to read to me anymore either.”

Gulp. It twanged at my heart strings because I still read to my children, who are 8 and 9, and neither of them show any signs of wanting that to stop any time soon.

Admittedly I've been so busy of late that 'no bedtime stories!' has been uttered a bit too readily as punishment for messing around at the dinner table when work deadlines have made my evening hours seem scarily short, but I can tell from my kids' reactions on those occasions that having me read them a bedtime story is very much still something they look forward to each night.

And long may that continue.

I don't know how I'll feel if my kids suddenly decide they're too old for me to read to them. I've sort of always assumed we'll just keep up this nightly tradition forever but - maybe I'm deluded.

Do you plan on reading bedtime stories until your kids demand that you stop?

And if you've got older children, at what age did they sack you as the official story-teller at bedtime?

And while we're on the subject, what's your all-time favourite book for bedtimes stories with your children?

Pricy baby gadgets: peace of mind or pointless gimmick?

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 19 November, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Pricy baby gadgets: peace of mind or pointless gimmick?

Would you invest in a baby monitor that could send you live data about your child's heart-rate, breathing and temperature?

The next generation of baby monitors are not yet available in the UK but they're already gaining popularity with parents across the pond.

But today the Independent reports that parents "should be aware that none of the existing products had been regulated as medical devices and therefore had not had to undergo trials of their effectiveness" which effectively means that they have "no proved use in safeguarding infants or detecting health problems, and they certainly have no role in preventing SIDS”.

Somehow I doubt that will be enough to put parents off these gadgets, since what we're surely really buying here is the promise of peace of mind, and you can't put a price on that.

I understand that infant heart-rate monitors might not actually deliver peace of mind if they're not technically able to do the clever things we think they can when we hand over the credit card, but I'm also a firm believer in the old 'if it works, it's in' approach to decision-making as a parent. So if a pricy monitor makes you feel more confident as a parent and you can afford to splash out on one, who am I to argue?

That said, I'm also a firm believer in the very old-fashioned practice of keeping an ear out for your kid, and periodically checking on them when they're sleeping.

What about you? Do you think price baby gadgets are worth every penny on the basis that they make you feel less anxious as a parent? Or do you think such things are gimmicky tricks that are best avoided in favour of an old-fashioned, common sense approach?

Image credit: Flickr/Doug Belshaw

Watch The Reindeer Being Fed @ Reindeer Cam

by Nada in Misc on 19 November, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Watch The Reindeer Being Fed @ Reindeer Cam

Click the picture above or the link below and head over to the live feed where you can see Santa's reindeer. At 4PM, 11PM, 2AM GMT on weekdays and 11PM at the weekend, you can watch the reindeer getting fed. If this doesn't make you feel all warm, fuzzy and Christmassy, then I don't know what will.

The kids will just LOVE this, but a tip. It's only FREE to watch on their website, and costs around £1.49 from mobiles/tablets via an app.

The times aren't very child friendly but since it's in America, this can't really be helped, so just catch those lovely magical reindeer being fed at 4pm.

You can look out for your name on Santa's Nice List that appears on the site. To get your name on it you must write a letter to Santa to the address listed on the site. This costs $5. Donate to the Reindeer via the site, or review the app.

On Christmas Eve, you can watch the reindeer, Santa and the elves prepare for their mammoth task of delivering gifts across the world.

Thanks to holly100 @ HUKD

All I Want For Christmas Is... Your Best Money-Saving Tips...

by Heidi Scrimgeour in Misc on 18 November, 2014 at 9:31 am

All I Want For Christmas Is... Your Best Money-Saving Tips...

Are you the type to do all your Christmas shopping in the sales in January, or are you more inclined to panic-buy on Christmas Eve and end up paying over the odds for your pressies?

Whichever your spending style, the Daily Mail today reports that the average person in the UK spends £530 during Christmas, and that 1.4 million of us - that's three percent of the nation - will look to payday loan firms to help carry the cost of Christmas. Why? Because we can't afford to save up what we'll spend at Christmas.

The paper reports:

"The research by Money Advice Service found we are increasingly struggling to afford Christmas with some so strapped for cash they won't be buying anything at all."

The Money Advice Service has also issued advice on how to save money this Christmas, and it includes tips such as keeping back some cash to cover January's bills, and making small daily savings now so that you won't be strapped for spare cash come Christmas.

Crucially, they foolishly neglected to mention relying on your favourite money-saving website for pennywise parents.

Joking aside, I've already saved a small fortune on Christmas presents this year, although if I spend so much as another pound on Disney Frozen merchandise for the little film fans in my life, I might well be looking up the phone number of those pay day loan companies in the New Year...

Seriously, though, we'd love to hear your best money-saving tips for making Christmas memorable on a budget. How do you make it work? And do you spend significantly more (or less?) than the average Christmas spend of £530 per person?

Leave us a comment here or pop over to our Facebook page to join in the conversation - and find some new money-saving tips just in time for Christmas!

Image Credit: Flickr/Crishna Simmons