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Saturday, September 8th, 2012
Technology makes it easy to be thoughtful by letting someone know you’re thinking of them with an artful eCard or one you create and have sent via snail mail.
Jacqui Lawson’s collection features beautifully animated eCards with an English flair with classical music for all occasions. Find what you’re looking for quickly through the site’s left hand navigation bar where cards are classified by occasion or type. Themes include gorgeous floral cards as well as whimsical cards featuring antics of playful cats and Labradors, Chudleigh and Molly. Affordable pricing allows users to purchase a one year subscription ($12) or unlimited cards for 2 years ($18) and anyone can preview the cards before sending.
Hallmark not only provides eCard versions of their many designs but their Card Showers are a nice way for a group of people to shower love upon a single individual with ease by filling their mailbox with greeting cards. The free service automatically invites those you know to participate while sharing details like who, when, and where, as well as help with sending the cards. It’s a great way to let a single person know that people from far and wide are thinking about them.
American Cancer Society’s More Birthdays free eCards combine art and music to celebrate a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Free eCards can be created to include a way that Group eCards feature gorgeous artwork by artists like Eric Carle and incredible renditions of happy birthday sung by famous musicians such as Usher, Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Gloria Gaynor, Maroon 5, Ricky Martin, and more. Send a group eCard or a single a birthday wish into a meaningful gift that helps the American Cancer Society save lives.
Treat is the brainchild of Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Wedding Paper Divas that allows users to send personalized cards created by them. Choose your card and make it personal by adding photos, nicknames, and a personalized greeting to fit your personality as well as the recipient’s. Treat has cards for every occasion and start at $2.99- less than the price of a card from your local drugstore plus the cost of postage!
Senior woman at home reading greeting card via Shutterstock
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Monday, August 27th, 2012
More often than not, learning with a friend is more fun, especially if it’s through an educational app featuring a beloved character. It’s no surprise that a new study from market research firm NPD Group stated that kids are increasingly adopting tech. One finding indicated that tablet use increased 13% from 2011 to 2012, making it more important to find the apps that will provide quality learning experiences for the youngest ages.
But how do you know what apps are entertaining and educational at the same time?
Luckily apps aren’t a large investment like a monthly subscription to some paid kids’ websites or new gaming system but a dollar or two here and there can add up.
Here are 3 tips for finding great apps.
- Visit Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is a wealth of information that provides reviews for movies, video games, websites, TV, books, music, and also apps. It’s an easy to use site that allows parents to do a search and quickly figure out if content is age appropriate for their child. To stay up to date, their emails provide helpful information and food for thought about raising kids in this digital age.
- Rely on trusted names in education. PBS, Scholastic, and many other companies that are rooted in educating young minds have jumped into the app game. They have developed high quality learning experiences that include interactive games and storybooks that keep kids engaged and tend to be so fun that kids forget that they’re learning!
- Ask friends and teachers. Your village can be a great source of information. Teachers with children can be a wonderful resource because it’s likely that they’re looking for educational apps for their own children to use at home. A savvy friend who is always knows about products before everyone else probably can provide some suggestions too.
Where do you go to find great apps? Do you have any tips?
Family playing video game on smartphone via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Sometimes it can feel like a grind to get grocery shopping done, meal planning completed, and get a healthy dinner on the table for a ravenous family. Online meal planning services can help streamline the process of planning and shopping in order to feed your family while also sticking to a household food budget and ensuring that items in your fridge and pantry don’t go to waste. Since families have varying preferences and food sensitivities, here are some helpful services that make meal planning less of a chore so you can enjoy family dinners.
Six O’Clock Scramble— Washington, D.C. area mom, Aviva Goldfarb developed The Six O’Clock Scramble in 1998 as a solution to put a home-cooked nutritious dinner on the table for her family each night. She personally tests Scramble recipes in her own kitchen and emphasizes seasonal fruits and vegetables in recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less. The Six O’Clock Scramble features automated grocery lists for eacg customized meal plan through the online subscription service. Trial memberships are available to try the service for two weeks and subscriptions are available for 3 months ($7/month), 6 months ($6/month), or 2 years ($3/month).
eMeals— Busy budget conscious families who are looking for specific menu options to meet dietary needs will like eMeals for their variety of meal plans. eMeals features menus for clean eating, gluten free, low carb, low fat, portion control, vegetarian, as well as natural and organic in menus designed for 1-2 people or families of 3-6. Menus plans are also based on where you shop so you can take advantage of store sales at your local grocery store and begin at $5/month.
Relish— For $7/month, Relish allows users to choose from a variety of delicious menus and recipes that come with grocery lists for the meals you’ve selected. Recipes scale to 2, 4, 6, or 8 servings. There are vegetarian menus and sides as well as kid-tested and kid friendly dinners that will encourage even the pickiest of to expand their repertoire of tastes. Five dinners tend to cost $90/week, allowing you to fit meals into your family budget. There are also special menus for camping and a picnics.
Gfree- Gluten free is a menu planning service that provides shopping lists and recipes for 5 entrees a week for $10/month. With helpful resources, recipes, and a list of gluten-free brands, meal planning for gluten-free families is a lot easier.
Mum and daughters peeling potatoes at a kitchen’s table via Shutterstock.
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Monday, July 30th, 2012
According to KidWorth, the average kid receives $25,000 in gifts and cash before they turn 18. What happens to that money? If kids should have a nice nest egg by the time they turn 18, what’s happening?
It can be hard to teach kids the importance of saving especially when they feel like they must have the most recent toy or video game that all their friends do. These days many websites provide concrete examples that make it easier to teach kids the value of a dollar. Here are 2 favorites that will help your kids achieve a sense of financial literacy:
FamZoo— FamZoo is a family friendly site that allows children to learn about the value of money through a virtual bank account that is tied to real money. Founded by Bill Dwight, father of 5, the site contains a wealth of easy to use online tools for parents to use to create child accounts to manage allowances, set spending limits, track savings goals, and even add or debit accounts for chores with the goal of building financial, social and organizational habits around money in a safe and friendly environment for kids of all ages.
It only takes a few minutes to create your family’s FamZoo account and all parent and child accounts. The built in “How Do I” button is extremely helpful if you feel stuck or have questions about what to do next.
KidWorth— Kidworth is a free site that is designed to “build wealth, not waste” through a coordinated approach to savings, spending, and sharing. It allows parents to work with their children to set, track, and share goals while enabling gift givers to contribute to a child’s goal of saving for an activity of their choice. The site is also designed to teach and empower a generation of children to build wealth through saving, investing and smart spending.
Parents open a free Kidworth account and work with their children to create goals that are part of their portfolio. The portfolio can include anything from saving for products, long term savings, or charitable gifts using monetary gifts, allowance, and earnings. Kids use their own efforts, and help from their support network, to save and spend wisely.
Cute cheerful little girl with paper money via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Monitoring screen time and time on social networks is a tricky beast. On one hand, you don’t want to be the helicopter parents, always looking over your kids’ shoulder but on the other hand, it’s important to know what they’re doing in order to ensure they’re behaving safely and responsibly. Instead of spying, it’s important to create conversations about being a responsible digital citizen. Talk to them about why you need to know who they’re interacting with and who they’re socializing with on Facebook to ensure their safety and make sure they’re behaving appropriately.
Safely Social Monitor is a free, easy to setup service that provides parents with a wealth of information into their child’s Facebook world at a glance and allows you to create the kinds of conversations about what a good friend looks like online and off. Safely allows you to quickly navigate through the information generated about your family’s Facebook activity thanks to the simple interface. A preview of the number of friends your child has, top friends, and photo thumbnails is generated and sent to your email. It also generates a Safely Report with a score out of 100 based on your child’s activity.
It also sends immediate alerts when the software picks up key words or questionable photos through scans. The easy-to-read web dashboard makes for a comprehensive service for busy parents who want to keep an eye on what their kids are doing yet help facilitate conversations about the daily drama of friendships both on and offline.
Signing up for and setting up a free Safely Social Monitor account can be done quickly and in four simple steps. You’ll need to provide your child’s Facebook credentials in order to link the accounts so be sure to talk to them about why Safely helps you keep your family safe.
Image courtesy of Safely
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