Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our On The Go Life Just Got A Little Easier And Safer Thanks To The Life360 App

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details. This post was sponsored by Life360, however all thoughts are completely my own.


Life360 was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in San Francisco. They are the world's largest network for families and have over 43 million families using their app around the world. The Life360 app builds a utility-focused network for the family that is centered on location sharing and making it easier for families to communicate and stay connected despite how busy they become.

A moms review:
Several days ago I downloaded the FREE Life360 app. Life360 is an award winning Family Network App that allows you to easily locate family members and quickly communicate with them. The app is available across all mobile platforms including Android, Apple/ios, Windows and BlackBerry. 

Downloading and setting up the app was super simple. After downloading the free app to my phone I was walked through the simple setup process.  First I added people to my circles, which in my case included my husband. You can set up separate circles for family, friends, etc. Your location is only shared with the people you add to your circles, when you choose to share it. My husband was then sent a notification that I had added him to my Life360 family circle and given instructions on how to download the app. Next I set up two places (work and home). Anytime either my husband or I arrive at or leave one of these destinations we will receive an automatic alert. This is helpful for so many reasons one of them being I now know exactly when to start dinner! After he downloaded the app and created his profile we were all set to go. Note: the app does use geolocation so your GPS will need to be turned on at all times while utilizing the app.

The children and I are always on the go and often go on out of town and out of state road trips, hikes, and other fieldtrip adventures without my husband. Generally I just send him a quick text message letting him know that we arrived at or are leaving our destination, but thanks to Life360 fieldtripping just got a whole lot easier and safer for our family.

This app makes communicating our destination arrivals and departures much easier. With just a tap of the "notification" button I can let my husband know that we have arrived somewhere. He automatically gets an alert that we have checked in and also receives the address. At anytime he can also view our history, request a check in from us and call or message us directly from the app. If he taps on my icon he can view our history for the day to see exactly what destinations we have been to and how long we were there. By using the timeline tool at the bottom you can scroll through your daily travels or use the map feature to see the route you took on a walk, run, hike or bike ride.

And for the times we do travel or hike together as a family Life360 can help us find each other quickly and easily in the event we get separated from each other.


My children are still too young for cellphones of their own, but I can already see the many advantages of this app for children. Rather than a child having to constantly check in with mom or dad via text messaging or phone calls they can simply tap the "notification" button to alert their parents of their arrival, removing the friction of the dreaded check in.

It is also a fabulous...actually a must have app for people with any sort of medical condition. My husband is a type 1 diabetic and I often worry about him having complications, like a seizure. With Life360 I can make sure he arrives at his destination safely and in the event there was ever an emergency I will know his exact location.

Other app features include crime alerts which will update you on any major crimes that have happened recently in the area...this is great for traveling to unfamiliar areas. Need to locate a police station, medical facility or fire station quickly well the app does that for you too. One of my favorite features in the app is the "panic" button. With the tap of the "panic" button everyone in my selected circle gets an email, text, and phone call which states that I need help and provides my location information. And a button will also pop up that I can tap to quickly call 911. Note: In the event of an emergency where you don't want an attacker to know you are calling for help make sure you MUTE your phone. When it sends the alert out your phone will make a loud tone which could alert an attacker that you have just notified for help. Hopefully future updates of the app will resolve this issue.

There is also list feature which makes it easy to send grocery or other lists to family members. And if you are someone who frequently looses or misplaces your phone then you definitely need the app. Just ask someone in your circles to look for your phone. You will be able to locate it within about 60 feet.

As I mentioned above the app is FREE however if you purchase the premium edition of the app ($5.00/month) you can also set up roadside assistance, locate non-smartphones, add unlimited places, and more.

This app is great for helping you stay in contact with those you love and care about. It makes life easier and is great for families, friends, other small groups and even businesses.

Links to follow:
-Life360 Facebook
-Life360 Twitter

How important is for you to stay connected to your family?

*Prior to downloading any app it is recommended that you review permission details and privacy policies.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chestnut Grove Academy 1,000 Blog Post Giveaway Extravaganza

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Giveaway Extravaganza
My friend over at Chestnut Grove Academy recently hit her 1,000th blog post (and so did I) and her 150th Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Post!  That’s A LOT of homeschool blogging and field trips!!  To celebrate she wanted offer a BIG giveaway to thank ALL of her readers for, well, reading! She also invited some blogging friends to join in the fun.

There are over $500 in prizes set up for you guys!  There will be 3 winners!  So the odds of winning are even greater!

Thank you to all of the amazing donors! Below is a little bit about what you can win!  Simly use the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of the post to enter!  There are over 45 ways to enter, with some daily entries, so make sure you come back!!

A HUGE Thank you to our sponsors:
A+ Interactive Math, Veritas Press, SchoolhouseTeachers.com, Building Brilliant Minds Online, Skrafy Minecraft, Classical Composers Monthly, Educents, Classroom Friendly Supplies, Our Time to Learn, and A Virtuous Woman

Now for the Prizes:
A+ Interactive Math – 1 year family math package for 2 students ($199.99 value). You can read my review of A+ Interactive Math HERE (CD versions). You can try a MONTH of their ONLINE program for FREE!!

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Veritas PressSelf-paced Bible course for grades 2nd-6th ($179 value) You can read her review on the Self-Paced History course by Veritas Press HERE.


Building Brilliant Minds OnlineIntroduction to Architecture course for ages 11+ ($150 value).  Chestnut Grove Academy is looking forward to taking a course with Building Brilliant Minds Online this Winter!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com - 3 Full year subscriptions ($139 value each). You can see my review of SchoolhouseTeachers.com HERE

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Educents – $30 Gift Card. Educents is a online DISCOUNT place for all things educational!  It’s a great place to find amazing deals on homeschool curriculum and supplemental materials.  They often even have FREE items!  Check them out!

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Classroom Friendly Supplies – The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener ($24.95 value). You can see my review HERE

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Classical Composers Monthly – Fine Art Pages – Christmas Set, Winter Set and Corrier & Ives Set ($14 value). You can read her review of their products HERE. Be sure to check out their entry – Register for FREE units!

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Skrafy Minecraft – Any Skrafty Homeschool Class. You can read her review for the Astronomy class HERE, These are a MUST for Minecraft fans!

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Our Time to Learn – About Me Curriculum Book ($15.99 value). You can read her review on this book HERE.

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A Virtuous Woman – Planner of your choice. Stay tuned for her review coming on the 18th!

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I am so excited to be able to join Chestnut Grove Academy in blessing the lives of my readers with some of these amazing prizes. 

They have been divided into 3 packages!  They are listed on the Rafflecopter form in their groups.

Please pay attention to the Terms & Conditions at the bottom of the Rafflecopter form!

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 12, 2014

CHARM IT! Bracelet Review and Giveaway

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.


High IntenCity Corp is a family owned and operated company that creates fun fashion jewelry for girls nationwide. Since 1993 they have been inspiring girls to express their individuality through creativity.

“Empowering girls with the gift of self-expression is the heart behind the brand," says High IntenCity president Renee Levy. "Our number one mission is to inspire individuality and celebrate creativity."

A moms review:
For the purpose of this review we received a CHARM IT! bracelet with charms. The award winning CHARM IT! line debuted in 2000 and is the original, detachable charm jewelry line for girls. These customized bracelets are the perfect gift for any little girl from five to fourteen.

When I was a little girl I remember digging through my moms jewelry box. Each jewelry piece had a special story and memory attached to it. But there was one piece in particular that held the most stories and memories and that was her charm bracelet. Charm bracelets were once very popular and everyone had one! But sadly over the years the beautiful, wearable keepsakes became a thing of the past.

So when I heard about CHARM IT! I was very excited to see charm bracelets making a come back. My daughter is all about self expression and cherishing/making memories so CHARM IT! is right up her alley.

CHARM IT! charms and bracelets are affordable, age-appropriate, durable and most importantly fun. The charms are bright and colorful and there are many to choose from...so many you may have a hard time choosing. From moving parts to unexpected surprises, each charm tells a story. Some have moving parts, dangles and 3 dimensional bling, others glow in the dark and can even hold photos. Is your daughter a foodie, techie or animal lover? Or perhaps she loves sports, art or fashion? Did she recently score the winning goal, loose a tooth or ace the test? CHARM IT! has charms to celebrate every special day and tell every girls story of who they are and what they love!

I was very impressed with the quality and durability of the bracelets and charms. Each charm has a clasp so they are very easy to take on and off the bracelet. The metal link bracelets are also very easy to adjust to fit tiny wrists.


The specific bracelet we reviewed is a GapKids exclusive. The bracelet is a silver, basic link style, however there are several other options available online and in stores. The bracelet cam with 7 adorable charms including  Preppy Puppy , Girls Can Change The World locket, Heart GuitarMilk & Cookies, Best Friends Puzzle PieceRainbow Anchor, and Cosmetic Bag.

These bracelets make a great gift for any little girl, but they also offer a way for your daughter to express herself and cherish special memories for years to come. I haven't given the bracelet to Gwyn yet because it will be in her stocking this Christmas. And I definitely plan on purchasing a couple more charms for her like this horse charm and this art charm.

Did you know that CHARM IT! is a favorite among celebrity moms too, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Heidi Klum?

Links to follow:
-CHARM IT! Facebook 
-CHARM IT! Twitter
-CHARM IT! Pinterest

Where to buy:
CHARM IT! jewelry can be purchased at GapKids and other local retailers or you can design your own on their website. Charms are $5 each and bracelets/necklaces range from $5-$14. All charms and accessories are sold separately.

Now time for the giveaway:
One winner will receive a GapKids CHARM IT! bracelet (like the one in the photo above).. Only the first entry is mandatory. Other entries are optional and give you extra chances. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook in any way. The winner will be posted on the blog and will be emailed. Winner must reply within 24 hrs with their contact information or another winner will be chosen. 

Please wait a moment for Rafflecopter to load.....

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Kia Soul Review - Affordable, Fun, Reliable and Comfortable

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details. I was loaned this 2014 Kia Soul for a week to test drive and facilitate this review. All opinions expressed here are my own!



Two weeks ago we practically lived in the car. We logged about 400 miles driving around Metro Atlanta on our fun, fieldtrip adventures...we even got to drive on the Atlanta Motor Speedway. But my favorite part of the week was that we got to drive around in the comfort and luxury of a 2014 Kia Soul.

I was already an admirer of Kia before test driving the Soul, because I used to own a Kia Sportage. Kia is well known for making affordable, reliable, fuel efficient and comfortable vehicles and the Kia Soul definitely holds up to their standards.

Introduction/Overview
We test drove a fully loaded 2014 Inferno Red Kia Soul. The Soul is a compact car which has been in production since 2009. Each year the Kia Soul gets even better with more features to make it safer, more luxurious and economical.

As a busy mom the Kia Soul made my life so much easier with all its great features like the large, easy to use GPS navigation, Smart Key Remote, Push-Button Start and...well keep reading to find out the rest.

This particular Kia Soul starts around $18,200 MSRP.

Exterior
Making a good first impression is always important and boy does the Kia Soul make one. The outside of the Soul is very stylish and fun. The boxy shape gives it a large look even though it is classified as a compact car. Some of the Soul features include alloy wheels, privacy glass, front and rear window wipers, heated rear glass, heated, power mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, fog lights and my favorite feature High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights. The HID Headlights were so amazing. I really dislike driving at night, but didn't mind it as much when driving the Soul. I could clearly see for several feet in front of the car as well as on both sides.


The Smart Key Remote made it very easy to get in and out of the car without fumbling for keys. I didn't take the key out of my purse the entire time we test drove the car. As long as the key was within close proximity (about 2 ft) of the car I could just push the button on the handle and hop right in. For busy moms who always seem have an arm load this made my life so much easier. The power mirrors can also be set to fold out and in, this was  my sons favorite feature. For a few days I had him convinced that he was using "the force" to control the mirrors. The mirrors will fold or unfold when the door is locked or unlocked by the smart key or when the door is locked or unlocked by the button on the outside door handle. And the mirrors will unfold when you approach the vehicle (doors closed and locked) with the smart key in your possession.


My daughters favorite feature in the car was the full Panoramic Sunroof with Power Sunshade. She insisted we keep the Sunshade open the entire time so they could see the clouds, tall buildings and planes as we drove around Metro Atlanta. Due to the cold weather we didn't get a chance to test out the Sunroof.


Interior/Comfort
Now let me take you on a tour of the inside of the Soul. The first thing you instantly notice and feel are the soft, comfortable leather seats, which by the way are heated and ventilated with the push of a button (front two seats only, back seats are only heated). The Kia Soul seats 5 though it fits 4 more comfortably! The driver seat has 10- way adjustment controls, including lumbar support which is fabulous for people with back problems, like me. And for the moms you will love how easy to clean the seats are! The rear seats have split folding functionally making it easier to haul large loads.


The next thing you will be immediately drawn to is the large center display panel which controls the bulk of the vehicle's safety, comfort, entertainment and navigation features. It was so nice having everything in one place. From the touchscreen, UVO entertainment and communications system you can choose your tunes (choose from Radio, Sirius, and other media when Bluetooth is enabled), access the cars user manual, make phone calls, contact road side assistance and 911, utilize GPS navigation, run diagnostic checks and more. And best of all UVO doesn't require a subscription. UVO does practically everything, but drive and fly the car! Since we are a very on the go family and take adventures several times a week this system came in quiet handy. Many times I didn't even need the address for our destination because it was listed in the POI and I just had to type or speak the name of the destination.

Directly below the UVO system are the Soul's climate controls, heated/ventilated seat buttons and air bag controls. It was a chilly week in Georgia so we took full advantage of the heated seats and auto climate control features.


Next let me tell you about the hi-tech steering wheel. The steering wheel is equipped with tons of great features which make driving safer, easier and even warmer. There are buttons to control audio levels, radio stations, phone calls, cruise control, flex steering modes, and menu features on the Soul's instrument cluster. Which leads me to the LED lite, instrument cluster. Besides your normal features like a speedometer, fuel gauge, tachometer and temperature gauge the instrument cluster also has a few bells and whistles. In between the tachometer and speedometer you can view everything going on in the car with the push of a button. On the first menu you can view the Soul's triptometer, average MPG, outside temperature and more. On the second menu you can view the navigation turn by turn directions or a compass if you do not have destination set. On the third menu you can view and make changes to the audio system. On the fourth menu you view and set the cars service needs. And on the fifth menu you can make adjustments to things like automatic door locks, horn feedback, turn lamp settings, etc. Other things that will show on the LCD display include key alerts, door open alerts and what gear the car is in.


Other features to highlight are the mood lite speakers, Push-Button Start, auxiliary audio input, USB input, multiple 12V inputs, power windows, interior light controls, large glove box (semi-insulated), ample cup holders and storage. My kids were thrilled to have their own cup holders!


Cargo
The cargo space is quiet deceiving in the Soul. So there is plenty of room for groceries, hiking bags, etc. At first glance it doesn't look like much, but the base lifts up to uncover a multi-compartment tray, which is made of foam so it also provides some insulation. Want even more storage? You can lift the base and compartment tray up to reveal yet another space (typically where you would find a spare tire), where you can store items.


Economy
I am all about saving money so I loved how economical the Kia Soul is. It gets about 24 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway.

The Kia Soul also comes with a fantastic warranty (10-year/100,000-mile) which gives you peace of mind and saves you money on any repairs that may pop up. The warranty even includes roadside assistance which can easily be reached by the push of a button on the UVO system.

Safety
Several of the safety features were indicated above, but I would like to take the time to highlight them once more, because the Soul is loaded with safety features and as a mother safety is very important to me. The Soul is equipped with air bags, a back up camera, hands-free capabilities, traction control, Smart Key Remote with panic button, 4-wheel ABS, daytime running lights, electronic brake-force distribution, HID headlights, fog lights, tire pressure monitoring, dusk sensing headlights, turn signal mirrors, electrochromatic rear-view mirror, heated windows and mirrors, easy access to roadside assistance and 911, and sun visor extender just to name a few.

I not only hate driving at night time, I also hate driving in the rain. So I was happy that it rained one day during our test drive week. The Kia handled great in the rain. The tires gripped wonderfully and it handled just like it did on dry roads.


Ride and Handling
I was really surprised at how much get up and go the Soul had. It accelerated quickly and smoothly and was a fun, smooth, quiet ride. And city pot holes were no match for the Kia Soul. The Kia handled great on turns and even steep inclines (which I got to test on the Atlanta Motor Speedway during the Gift of Lights show). The Soul has 3 flex steering options (normal, sport, comfort) which are a great feature making steering control easier for drivers based on driver's preference or road conditions.

Closing thoughts
We had a great time testing out the adorable, fun, and family friendly 2014 Kia Soul. We greatly appreciate KIA and STI for the opportunity to test drive the Soul! For more information on the Kia Soul visit kia.com!

I'd love to find one of these cars in my driveway Christmas Day, wouldn't you?



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bramble and Maggie Book Series Review

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.


My daughter loves horses and dreams of owning one of her own someday (for now she just loves on the ones at the local horse rescue). As you can imagine her room is filled with horse books which include everything from storybooks to horse care manuals. One of Gwyn's favorite horse authors is Jessie Haas. We own a few of her books and frequently check them out from the library too. If you have a child who enjoys the American Girl series her name may look familiar, because she is the author of the Saige books. Jessie has written over 35 books which include picture books, early readers, middle grade, YA novels, poetry, nonfiction and history for adults. Recently we received copies of her Bramble and Maggie early reader series to review which Gwyn has already read multiple times.

A moms review:
We received the entire Bramble and Maggie series to review which includes 3 books - Bramble and Maggie Spooky Season, Bramble and Maggie Horse Meets Girl and Bramble and Maggie Give and Take. Spooky Season is the newest book in the series and was released this Fall.

These books are early reader chapter books and are geared towards children in grades K-3. Each hardback book is 52 pages with 3-4 chapters. The text is large and easy to read and the gouache style artwork is bright, colorful. Gwyn is 8 years old and a new reader. I honestly I am not sure what reading level she is at, but she was able to read the books with very little assistance. The sentences are simple and short so they don't frustrate new readers. There were some words that were new to Gwyn so she did some assistant with those.

The series is about a persnickety, but lovable horse named Bramble and her patient owner Maggie. The books are fun, engaging and teach important lessons on character traits, friendship, fear as well as horsemanship.


Read more details on each book below...

Bramble and Maggie Horse Meets Girl:
This is the first book in the series and the book where Bramble meets Maggie. In the story Bramble decides she is done providing riding lessons...going around in a circle all day is no fun. So her owner Mrs. Blenkinsop decides to put her up for sale. But Bramble is really picky and on a mission to find the perfect girl. Things don't go so well and eventually the sale sign is changed to a free sign. But as fate would have it Maggie sees the sign and asks her parents if she can meet Bramble. Maggie knows she shouldn't fall in love with the first horse she sees, but after she meets Bramble and rides her she immediately does just that. Bramble also falls in love with the patient little girl. With her book in hand Maggie gets everything perfectly set up for Bramble's arrival. When Bramble arrives at Maggie's house she is scared and Maggie must show patience once again to help Bramble get used to her new surroundings.

Bramble and Maggie Give and Take:
In this book Maggie decides to take Bramble for a ride. But first she needs to get Bramble prepped....which takes awhile because Bramble isn't being cooperative. After consulting her book Maggie realizes she needs to practice, "give and take." In the story Bramble also meets the neighbors, visits the beach for the first time and makes a new unlikely new friend.

 
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