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  • Monkey 1:32 pm on September 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Reasons not to give your toddler access to an iPad 

    I’m sure there are plenty of serious and scientifc studies and reasons as to why you shouldn’t give your child use of an iPad. But here’s another slightly more selfish reason.

    On a day (like yesterday was) where it’s rainy and wet outside, which means you can’t play outside, an iPad has access to all sorts of new games and apps.

    However, for our son, he uses it for one primary thing. Not for him the traditional carefully-planned structure of a TV station broadcast schedule. Nope, he wants his content when he wants it, and he also wants full control of it. If there’s a favourite bit, he’ll want to watch it again and again. (Sometimes, he’ll go up to the main TV and try to travel backwards in time by using a non-existent scrollbar on the TV set)

    And so it came to pass, today, that he watched the same episode of Swashbuckle at least five times today. Primarily to join in the hearty song and cheers that start the show off – and indeed join in the dance movement and playground snarls. And then rewind to play it again. And again. And again.

    I have the bloody blasted song in. my. head.




    and I think I’m beginning to like it. Help.

  • Monkey 9:34 pm on September 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: letterstoalex, money, thinkmoney   

    The value of money 

    Think Money has challenged bloggers to write a letter to their children imparting wisdom about money. I’m not sure how well my “wisdom” will work, but I will at least give it a go …


    As you can tell by the stacks of books everywhere in the house, I’ve loved to read from an early age. I can remember once begging my parents – your grandparents – for a pound note (they were green bits of paper, not gold coins as they are now!) so I could get this Disney hardbound book at the sweet shop. When they finally relented, and I held that pound note in my hands – I was the richest person in the world. I probably have that book somewhere in Wales, along with most of the other books that can’t fit in our flat right now.

    I didn’t get pocket money as a boy. Your grandmother (A Po) and grandfather (A Gun) were very hardworking, and understood the true value of money – it wasn’t just the thing that paid the bills, it was what took them out of poverty in Hong Kong and into prosperity in Wales. It was precious.

    But I was lucky, and occasionally they would indulge my love of books and let me do things like run to the sweet shop like I was a king. And when you want money for books, I don’t think I could ever say no to you. But just as my parents knew that money was precious, so do I. I want you to understand that money isn’t the only thing in this life, but it sure is important, and that it should be respected. Your wants in this life aren’t nearly as important as your needs, and only when your needs are satisfied can you spend what you have left over on your wants.

    You are my son, and I will always, always put you first, but I would be failing as a father if I didn’t teach you the importance of saving your money, and of spending wisely. Work hard, love the best things in life (which as we know from the song are free!), and satisfy your needs before thinking about your wants.



    This is an entry for Think Money’s Financial Advice Competition. Think Money is an online service that helps young spenders, or people who need a bit more guidance, to make sure their bills are paid and that their individual saving goals are being met.

  • Monkey 4:28 pm on September 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , preschool   

    There’s nothing like having your wife post a… 

    There’s nothing like having your wife post a pic of your two-and-a-half year-old son getting ready for his first afternoon at the pre-school nursery to make you realise time is ticking on, and that he’s now literally playing with the big(ish) boys. Even if he can’t speak clearly yet… He was learning to walk last year!

  • Monkey 4:07 pm on September 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    The power of mums 

    The power of mums.

    Two kids in the playground were squabbling with one another. I used my best Dad voice and told them to stop shouting. A minute later, a huge grizzly mama bear comes over and demands to know what i said to them. For that brief second, I was eleven years ago and had done something naughty in the playground.

    (Then I said what I’d done, and she seemed OK with that)

  • Monkey 11:52 am on September 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Parent vs Geek (well, Whovian) 

    From @MrsSheaWong

    Geek Parenting... @MrsSheaWong

  • Monkey 12:23 pm on August 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lunch, , warburton   

    Lunch is for wimps… 

    A delicious sandwichThis post was sponsored by Warbutons and Tots100

    This statement from Wall Street is so true – not because I “waste” an hour during my worktime doing non-work things, but because lunch usually exposes my lack of creativity when it comes to making it. Too often, I’ll resort to a basic ham’n’cheese sandwich, or – if I’m really pushing out the boat – some chips or ramen noodles. Not entirely satisfying, one has to admit, but it does the job.

    But gosh darn it, it’s the 22nd century, surely lunch can be better than this?

    Fortunately, Warbutons came to the rescue by providing me with a lunch package specifically designed to make lunches fun again. Just with a bit of lettuce, avocado and a dash of English mustard, along with using their sandwich thin bread – a cross between a wrap and a slice of bread – it’s something new and a bit more fun for lunch.

    Head along to Warbutons’ Facebook page to see more ideas on how to make lunch more fun…

  • Monkey 4:03 pm on June 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , sesamestreet,   

    It’s interactive TV – y’know, for kids…* 

    Kinect Sesame Street TVMicrosoft recently invited me to a preview of one of their new Xbox 360 games – Kinect Sesame Street TV – that really does seem to bridge the gap between linear television and console gaming in a seamless way – using, of course, the Kinect in some surprising ways.

    There are eight “episodes” of Sesame Street on the disc, with another 8 available online via Xbox Live – as well as 4000+ vintage Sesame Street clips, which should keep most “adults” entertained for a few minutes …

    It kicks off with an introduction from a new Muppet who invites you to stand in front of the “mirror” on the TV screen – quite a nifty feature this, as the Muppet then changes clothes to wear a T-shirt the same colour as the clothes you’re wearing.

    Then follows a various selection of features with the Muppets – some with Elmo, some with new characters, some with people filmed on the bustling streets of New York – where they invite you to do the action of the day, whether it’s “throwing” at the TV, or jumping. As an adult, it feels a bit weird to be throwing nothing at the TV screen, but who knows, maybe the kids of today will take to it like a duck to water. And fortunately, if your kid is feeling like a couch potato and doesn’t want to interact, the system will accept that after a while and carry on as if nothing had happened.

    There are also similar counting games with lovable Grover – although it’s odd to see him with legs! – and letter games with the Cookie Monster, possibly the only Muppet to contribute a phrase to the Internet lexicon.

    Overall, it seems to be an interesting edutainment twist on your standard Xbox 360 game and I look forward to testing it out with my son to see how he takes to it. Maybe he’ll actually learn a number…

    (* a hearty slap on the back if you can spot the movie quote)

  • Monkey 12:11 pm on June 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    I took Alex to the local busy park the other day, and watched him run around the place in a wide circle for a bit. Then he ran past a girl, and without a hint of any hesitation, immediately did a 180 -degree turn to chase her around the park instead. This I found highly amusing.

  • Monkey 11:09 am on March 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bassboomz, bluetooth, gadget, speakers,   

    Things to make you go boomz 

    BassBoomzAnyone who comes to our family home knows two things: We love gadgets, but our office desk is ridiculously cluttered and we’re always looking to reclaim some kind of space – and saving cash would be handy too! This is no bad thing, after all – gadgets make our lives more easy, and who wouldn’t want to save some money at the end of the day?

    So when we were offered a chance to review the BassBoomz, a micro Bluetooth speaker that could replace space-hogging speakers and be far cheaper (at just £49.99 with our discount code till the end of March), we jumped at it.

    Seriously it’s tiny – it’s only half the length of a cell phone, fits easily in your pocket or some spare corner of your desk (or perched up on some books) and barely 5 cm across in width.

    Yet this Bluetooth-enabled speaker packs a surprisingly serious punch of sound. When they say bass, they mean it – I was able to get sounds out of it that usually produced a cracking sound in my higher end speakers. I’ve now ditched my speakers and now just use this attached to my laptop or mobile phone!

    Set up was a breeze; just make sure your devices (eg mobile, laptop, iPad) have their bluetooth on, and with two clicks of the mouse, you are ready to go anywhere in the house, or on the street. A line-in and mini USB port on the bassboomz ensures you can recharge on the go (no batteries required!) using a plug or your device without hassle. And the tough aluminium casing ensures it can take any knock in your bag without hassle – try that with your speakers at home!

    Once that’s done, you can emulate rich Miami millionaires by simply choosing any song you like on your mobile phone, and suddenly it’s booming out of this tiny little speaker!

    Overall, we’re really impressed with Bassboomz, and can’t wait to try the next thing that comes up!

    If this has tempted you, you can buy a BassBoomz for £49.99 (saving £30) by quoting discount code BBZ304616 at – give it a go for yourself!

    (This post was sponsored by BassBoomz)

  • Monkey 10:14 am on August 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lettertoalex,   

    Dear 19-month-old Kid … 

    You’re going to be 19 months old tomorrow. And yes, for the last three months (at least) you’ve been walking, making the odd noise and using me as your exo-skeleton and pointing in the general direction of places you want to go to when you can’t be bothered to walk there.

    Indeed, we’ve managed to put you on a harness and let you walk wherever you want to. You love climbing stairs and steps, but have yet to realise that when there’s vertical space between you and the ground, that’s generally a dangerous thing. You’re also fascinated by opening and closing doors, even if you fail to notice the real hand opening and closing them, and the fact you’ve had your finger trapped in the hinges once already.

    But in the last couple of days you’ve managed to surprise me even more. How? The noises you’ve been making are starting to sound suspiciously like consonants. And they’ve come with a happy lilt. Now, I may be reading too much into this, but I get the feeling that you’re getting the handle on how to be expressive, and you’re quite happy about it too.

    Plus you’ve now stopped screaming when I leave the house for work.

    Love you!


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