Pepcom Holiday Tech Showcase 2014

Pepcom Holiday SpectacularAt CES and holidays I am always excited to head to Pepcom events to check out the new technology related products out. On the night of the World Series I braved the traffic to head to San Francisco for the Pepcom Holiday Spectacular. Because the holiday season is so busy I have not had a chance to review any of the products but here are some of the interesting ones in the family technology area.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Pepcom Holiday Spectacular! Exhibitors:

24/7
24/7 is a medical grade sleep and activity tracking application, their new new features include giving users more insight into their sleep than ever before.

 

 

ArcSoft
ArcSoft will be showing Simplicam powered by Closeli, a home monitoring solution with facial detection. They also had information on Perfect365 – which uses Face Detection technology to scan a photo and automatically map a person’s eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth and hairline. Then photos are treated with touch-ups, using nearly 20 tweaking tools that whiten teeth, brighten eyes, remove blemishes and other editing. They can also choose from dozens of pre-set makeup templates.

 

 

Belkin
Belkin International showcased a great selection of holiday tech products from its three brands, Belkin, Linksys and WeMo.  I was especially interested in their WeMo family of products that offers home automation, such as in a remote controlled Crock Pot!

Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo  Belkin

 

I also learned about their Linksys Dual Band WiFi router and how I could possibly swap that out for the default router my home WiFi provider gave us to help power up our wireless reception (and maybe also using a WiFi extender to help rooms far away from the router).

 

Belkin Linksys

 

Belkin also had some gift guide suggestions:

 

GIFTS UNDER $50
Metallic Lightning Cables
$24.99 – $29.99
Vent Mount $24.99
Phone Accessories
$24.99 – $34.99

 

GIFTS UNDER $300
Thunderbolt™ 2 Express Dock HD
with Cable $299.99
Linksys WRT1900AC $249.99
Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router $299.99

 

GIFTS UNDER $150
Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo® $129.99
QODE™ Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air $149.99
WeMo® LED Lighting Starter Set $99.99
Mr. Coffee® 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew™ Coffeemaker with WeMo® $149.99
Linksys Dual Band Wireless AC Range Extender RE6500 $99.99

 

 

Chamberlain Group – MyQ Garage
Chamberlain Group showed MyQ Garage, the connected home device for controlling home entry. “A smart home with MyQ ensures people never forget to close the garage door and can open, close and monitor it from anywhere in the world from a smartphone. MyQ is integrated with Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat, multiple home devices through the WinkApp, and other popular connected home apps.”

 

 

Channel Master
Channel Master debuted new features and services for the DVR+ platform, as well as a new ultra-low-cost outdoor television antenna. They were also the most popular table because they had the World Series on! Channel Masters new features for its subscription-free DVR+ include YouTube access and an enhanced DVR feature to record only new episodes of a series. The company also added the new low-cost STEALTHtenna to its metro/suburban-centric Everyday Series antenna line along with a consumer-friendly Antenna Selection Guide.  Coming in November, the YouTube streaming feature will appear in the DVR+ program guide.

 

 

 

Cobra
Cobra Electronics showcased “the addition to the company’s Drive HD Dash Cams series, Cobra CDR 825, utilizing a 2.7 inch screen, the largest in the dash cam family, along with the ultra-compact Cobra JumPack, a pocket-sized, portable charger for mobile devices and vehicle jump-starter.” Cobra also displayed some Walkie Talkies that I know my boys would have loved to try.

 

 

Creative Labs
Creative Labs has home, mobile, and gaming audio products. I was especially interested to hear about their E5 product that can be used an microphone to capture audio for me when I do video. Here is more information from their press release:

Their Professional-Grade Sound Blaster® E5  is a “24-bit/192kHz 120dB High Resolution USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier for Smartphones, Tablets, PCs & Macs:

 

  • Digital High-Speed USB 2.0 connectivity to PC/Mac as a powerful external Sound Blaster
  • Digital USB Host connectivity to select iOS/Android models for direct high quality, lossless audio streaming*
  • Built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery provides users up to 8 hours^ of playtime while on the go
  • Features wireless Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy connectivity and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for one-touch Bluetooth pairing and control
  • Supports HD audio codecs such as aptX® Low Latency and AAC for a wireless connection as good as a wired connection
  • Connects to entertainment devices such as televisions and game consoles via the optical input jack
  • Features a line-in option for analog connectivity to other various audio sources
  • Dual headphone jacks allow for simultaneous audio listening

Compatible with:      

- iOS devices using Lightning connector (iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, iPad Air, iPad Mini)

- Android devices (Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, Note 2, Note 3; Google Nexus 5, Nexus 7; Sony Xperia Z Ultra; Xiaomi Redmi, Redmi Note, Mi 3; LG G2)

**Actual battery life will vary with usage scenarios, settings and environmental conditions

 

The new flagship product is an extension of Sound Blaster’s E-Series line of compact portable USB audio solutions.  Launched in May 2014, the Sound Blaster E-Series includes the Sound Blaster E1 and Sound Blaster E3.”

 

 

ecoATM
ecoATM showed their “automated e-waste recycling kiosk that accepts cell phones, tablets and MP3 players from consumers in exchange for instant cash.” Listed below is an image they shared on what you could buy for holiday gifts from what you get back from trading in specific devices. I have not tried the service but I think trading in old devices are a great way to earn money to buy new devices instead of them sitting in a cabinet collecting dust! ecoATM, the nationwide network of 1,510 automated recycling kiosks, give’s users instant cash for their phones, tablets and MP3 players.

 

ecoATM

 

 

 

Fitbug
Fitbug Orb is a fitness, sleep and activity tracker.  They unveiled Kiqplan, a library of interactive coaching programs that use activity data from almost ANY activity tracker, smartphone or watch to build actionable 12 week plans around specific wellness goals.

 

 

Fujitsu
Fujitsu showcased their ScanSnap product lineup, including the new mobile and completely wireless scanner, the ScanSnap iX100. Included in the ScanSnap family line is the ScanSnap iX500 desktop scanner.

 

 

Kensington
Kensington has USB Hubs, Adapters, USB Chargers and Universal Soft Sleeves as well as new iPad Air™ 2 Keyboard Cases. Their PresentAir Pro Bluetooth® 4.0 LE Presenter “offers three different function modes to support different types of activity presenting, controlling media, or editing and offers one of the slimmest presenter designs on the market. The free downloadable companion app, PresenterWorks, allows users to set buttons to the functions of their choice for greater flexibility and efficiency.”

 

 

Kingston
Kingston Technology showcased holiday gifts ideas including the MobileLite G2 wireless media reader, SD and Micro SD cards and a HyperX Cloud gaming headset that offers extended hours of game play.

 

 

KODAK PIXPRO
KODAK PIXPRO featured cameras and wireless devices including the new SP360 Action Cam, an HD action cam designed to capture 360-degrees of video without the need for multiple cameras.

 

 

Lenovo
Lenovo had a few tables filled with their newest devices.

 

Lenovo at Pepcom

 

 

Some of the devices I spent time looking at where the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro, B40 All in One, Y50 Touch mobile gaming and multimedia notebook. But the one I drooled over was the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro because it has powerful features but is thin, light and so fancy!

 

Lenovo Yoga 3

 

 

LifeTrak
LifeTrak showcased their line of wearables, including the new LifeTrak BRITE R450, that features light exposure monitoring, smartphone notifications, advanced sleep monitoring and fitness tracking, is waterproof and requires no recharging. The battery used for the device is a watch battery!

 

LifeTrak

 

Logitech
Logitech will be showcasing its latest in gaming, music, tablet, Harmony and PC accessories.

 

 

muvee
The new iOS app TWINE “makes short split-screen videos. Capture opposite or parallel moments in time and TWINE automatically stitches them together“.

 

 

Otterbox
OtterBox will be showcasing protective cases for the recently released iPhone 6, GALAXY Note 4 and more.

 

 

Parallels
Parallels Access app (for iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and phones plus Kindle Fire) “lets you access everything on your PC or Mac just like it was made for your touch-based device (a way to run Windows on your Mac without rebooting).

 

 

Plantronics
Plantronics will be showcasing its new line of consumer, stereo and Bluetooth products including the new BackBeat PRO – wireless, active noise canceling stereo headphones with mic.

 

 

Plantronics Backbeat Pro

 

 

RadioShack
RadioShack has the latest in sound, toys, power and smart tech for gifting or for upgrading your own tech this holiday season.  I went to the press event to celebrate the interactive remodel of San Francisco Bay Area (and other locations) Radio Shack stores.  I was really impressed with the selection of tech in the new design. Especially their DIY section that had so many DIY tech projects that my boys could keep busy for a long time!

 

Here is information about the Radio Shack store redesign:

  • Innovative products from startups and inventors, such as mobile device-controlled robot ball Sphero, educational magnetic circuit boards from littleBits and Lively’s activity sensors that create a smart home for older adults to log daily routines
  • An interactive speaker wall where customers can shop and compare different speakers using music installed on in-store tablets
  • Experiential displays that enable shoppers to find and compare products, including headphone demo stations where they can listen to leading brands like SOL REPUBLIC, Skullcandy and Beats by Dr. Dre; in-demand devices from Apple, Samsung and HTC; a remote control (RC) toy exploration center; and a GoPro camera display demonstrating the capabilities of several models of GoPro cameras
  • Technology that makes shopping interesting and playful, like touchscreens and apps that help shoppers understand the benefits of products
  • Full mobility offerings from top mobile carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon with flexible financing plans available all under one roof
  • Helpful, informative RadioShack staff who can answer shoppers’ questions about hundreds of products and services and direct customers to the items that meet their specific needs.

 

 

ResMed
S+ by ResMed: a non-contact sleep system that monitors, analyzes and provides personalized feedback to help improve your sleep from the first night.

 

 

Ring
Ring Video Doorbell “lets you answer the door from anywhere using your smartphone. It features an HD camera with night vision, providing a clear view from your front door, day and night.”

 

 

simplehuman
simplehuman builds smart home-tech that is “simple, functional, and built to last“. I tested the sensor trashcan they had on display and it really was able to tell the different between me waving my hand to open the trashcan versus just walking by. The other brand sensor trashcan I tried kept opening up when I would just walk by it.. Next time I will try simplehuman!

 

Simple Human

 

 

Speck
As a leader in slim protective cases for mobile devices, Speck will be showing its latest bulk-free cases in smashing good looks. Their candy shell smartphone cases have been great protection in the past when I dropped my phones (just a few times…).

 

Speck

 

 

TiVo
TiVo showcased the TiVo Roamio OTA, the over-the-air DVR and TiVo Mega.

 

 

Totspot
Totspot is a mobile shopping app for moms to buy and sell gently used kids’ clothes.  I think this is a great tool for families to control clothing budgets for their kids – who grow out of clothes so quickly. And also to find great clothes for their kids!  “Totspot solves the age-old challenge every parent faces when outfitting their growing soccer stars and fashionistas – kids grow, clothes don’t. The free app has an intuitive interface designed to be simple and fast, and supports easy mom-to-mom mobile retailing, giving families a simple way to cash in their kids’ closets and keep little ones toddler-trendy and fashion-forward. Totspot (http://www.totspot.me) is currently available as a free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and Android.

 

Totspot

 

Totspot

 

 

TripIt
TripIt booth is a trip planner keeps travel plans in one spot with features such as custom itineraries, sharing features, travel alerts, alternative flight info,  flight refunds and a travel dashboard.

 

 

Velvetwire
Velvetwire showcased the Powerslayer Blu – an Bluetooth-connected charger with built-in software that “reduces energy waste and promotes battery health”.

 

Velvetwire

 

 

ZAGG
ZAGG Inc highlighted their newest accessories for protecting and enhancing handheld electronics.

InvisibleSHIELD GLASS and HDX: Features HD clarity and 3X greater shatter protection for even industry-leading smartphone glass.

  • GoLite power series: A family of portable batteries will charge any device that utilizes a USB, including smartphones and tablets.
  • iFrogz InTone earbuds: Feature a smooth surface which rests comfortably on the ear while their 14mm driver delivers vibrant sound.”

 

 

Disclosure: This is coverage of a tech press event.

 

 

 

 

Screen Smart Parenting

Screen-Smart ParentingOne of the top questions I get from readers is how to control their kid’s screen time. Now that kids have access not only to computers but also smartphones, tablets and other devices it is even more challenging to set up a system to help them be safe and limit the time they spend using devices.  I have explained in many of my posts that I believe helping your kids control their screen time and understanding internet safety starts with age appropriate and regular family communication on those topics.

 

 

Jodi Gold MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist that has a unique perspective, especially when it comes to family communication! When I found out that she just wrote a book called SCREEN-SMART PARENTING: Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices (Guilford Press, November 1, 2014, paperback) that had research and practical strategies, I wanted to find out more.

 

 

 

Screen Smart Parenting Jodi Gold MD1.       What motivated you to write SCREEN-SMART PARENTING?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist.  Every day, I went to work and listened to my patients.  A theme began to emerge.   This one got dumped on text and that one was playing too much World of Warcraft.  Parents were worried that their kids were distracted during homework and increasingly concerned about how their children presented themselves online.  Then I went to pick up my younger children (aged 5, 7, 9) at school and this mom was concerned about too much TV and that one was upset that her 4 year old could navigate an iPhone. I realized that if I listened carefully, I couldn’t make it through the day professionally or personally without confronting the realities of our changing digital landscape.  I wasn’t startled that technology was ubiquitous or that current parents are the last generation of digital immigrants.   I was surprised at the fear and ignorance. Parents, teachers and families were constantly fearful and distrustful.  I went looking for answers on how to embrace technology and use it for good, but found little guidance.

 

At the same time, I had been presenting nationally about treatments for ADHD.  A senior editor from Guilford Publishers approached me about writing a book for parents about ADHD.  I really felt like there were many good books about ADHD already on the market.  I was convinced that the Guilford editors would think that I was scattered and crazy but I told them that I really wanted to write a handbook for raising kids in the changing digital world.  I wanted to reach both physicians and parents.  I had begun to talk about the digital world with my patients and their families within a developmental framework.  We spoke about when children should be reading, making friends and going out alone.  Theses are all normal parts of growing up.  I realized that reading an e-book, getting a phone and creating a social media profile were also part of growing up but we didn’t have any graphs, charts or handbooks.  I wanted to write a book that looked at the existing research and offered concrete recommendations based on an understanding of research and child development.  Guilford didn’t think that I was crazy and they agreed to publish it before I wrote the first page.”

 

 

2.    Tell us about how you brought your background in as a doctor to helping explain these issues?

 

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “Both the Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry have begun to weigh in on parenting in the digital age.  It is critical that physicians make this a priority for research and policy.  I believe that we should be adding “digital milestones” to our list of developmental milestones and challenges.  I hope that Screen Smart Parenting will deepen the dialogue on raising digital citizens in both the medical and parental world.

 

In medicine, we base our decisions and approaches on double blind longitudinal studies.  When they are not available, we do our best find evidence based research.  The goal is to use sound research to support our medical treatments and decisions.  In pediatrics, we view everything on a developmental framework.  Children are not little adults.  We need to understand children and adolescents from a developmental lens.  We misperceive and mistreat children if we apply adult rules to them.  In psychiatry, we use what is called the bio-psycho-social model.   This means that we try to understand children and adults in a multi-faceted way that encompasses genetics, psychology and the realities of family and home life.  In psychology, we understand human behavior so we can develop incentives and plans that help children internalize healthy behaviors.  We need to use this knowledge as we build behavior plans and create consequences around digital devices.    I used these basic principles from research, medicine and psychology to write Screen Smart Parenting.  I believe that it is one of the first books on this topic written within a medical model from the standpoint of a practicing clinician.”

 

3.   What is screen smart parenting and what areas does your book discuss?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “Screen Smart Parents are parents who are thoughtful and communicative about managing digital technology.  They want to cultivate online resilience which scientists increasingly feel is linked to happiness and success in life.  They want to instill in their children the tenets of digital citizenship.  Eventually, screen smart parents will have the experience of being digital natives and citizens.  Right now, most of us are digital immigrants with newly stamped passports and limited command of the digital language.  Screen Smart parents do not need a Ph.D. in computer science but they need to check their fear and be willing to learn from and with their children.

 

In Screen Smart Parenting, I ask parents to figure out their parenting style, understand the digital landscape and develop a family technology plan.  In order to parent your children through the digital landscape, you need to understand your family culture and your own relationship with technology. It’s important to understand the developmental evolution of the use of digital technology: what happens at what age. It’s also essential to get a feel for how digital technology is actually used today by children and adolescents.  In the book, I write about how technology does affect your child’s development.  I also introduce the hot topics that monopolize our conversations from the iBlankie to the proverbial 5 minutes of Facebook fame.  In the second part of the book, I write about different age groups, each of which explains how digital technology intersects with what your child needs to achieve during those years and how you can promote technology as a tool to support, not hinder, healthy development. In the third section, I take a more sophisticated look at children who need more attention and parental involvement and may exhibit red flags for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. These “orchid” children may need extra care and modified digital parameters.  In the conclusion, I used my experience with behavioral interventions and plans, to give parents the tools to build a realistic and effective family technology plan.  I offer age-appropriate templates and suggestions on how to trouble shoot.  The goal is to build a family plan that includes your children’s voice in finding balance and using technology as a tool.”

 

 

4. What’s the right age for a phone/smartphone/social media access?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “This is a personal family decision but I can give you some guidelines as a mother, physician and expert in this field.  Your child will eventually own a smartphone so the question is not “if” but when.  You should give your child a phone when he/she truly “needs” one.  Most kids get their phones and smartphones between the ages of 11 and 14 years of age.  Here is a list of reasons for why you might choose to give your child a phone prior to the age of 11.

  • Parents are divorced and the child would like to have more control over his or her communication with the non-custodial parent, and/or there is shuttling back and forth.  A phone may help with the transition between two households
  • A child is taking long bus rides and needs to communicate with parents for some reason
  • The child has a chronic medical condition and needs a phone in case there is an urgent need to reach parents and caregivers
  • The child has a psychiatric or medical condition that causes her to miss a lot of school.  A phone may help to keep in touch with friends and teachers

It is likely that this decision will be somewhat driven by community/peer pressure.  It is important for parents to be thoughtful about when and how they introduce a phone.  A phone should be introduced in a developmental way (especially if you are giving a child a phone at a younger age).

*I can talk more about social media but similar rules apply.  However, there is some social media that is targeted for young children.  I encourage interested children to start with child-friendly sites before they move onto Twitter and Instagram.”

 

 

For more information, check out her website Screen Smart Parenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luxury Family Travel At Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa #TheMomsEscape

Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were hosted by the Dreams Resort.

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

 

 

The Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa recently partnered with The Moms (Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein) to invite a group of lifestyle bloggers to tour Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa in Mexico. The trip, called “The Moms Escape,” was a wonderful escape to the beautiful Mexican Caribbean. While I had traveled to Cancun years ago, this is the first time I had toured an all-inclusive resort open to adults and kids.

 

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

 

 

Although we spent time touring the resort, we also had time to unwind. It was during those quiet times wandering around the resort that I had to chance to take in the beautiful surroundings while enjoying quiet places to sit on the beach, bask in the sun and listen to the ocean. As a busy mom with three boys, just finding a quiet hammock by the beach put me in vacation mode. I sent a few friends pictures of the resort and said we should all come back for a gal’s weekend away! But I also enjoyed touring the resort so I set out to learn more.

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

 

So… What is the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa?

 

From the website: “Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is a luxurious getaway for couples, friends and families designed to reflect the charm of the Mexican Caribbean. Surrounded by glistening pools, lush tropical gardens and a palm-studded beach, this 486 all-suite resort defines Unlimited-Luxury with an array of amenities for every age and interest, from the Explorer’s Club, a supervised kids club, to a variety of daily activities, nightly entertainment and gourmet à la carte dining”.  The resort is located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on a stretch of beach which is in the Riviera Maya.  Best yet, the world’s second largest barrier reef is a short boat ride from the resort beach. From a travel perspective, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is located a short 20 minute ride from Cancun Airport, which I found to be traveler (and family) friendly airport.

 

 

 

AN ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun is an “all-inclusive” resort, offering a signature Unlimited-Luxury concept where everything, from gourmet a la carte dining to top-shelf premium spirits, is included with the stay. As a mom of three boys who eat “adult” portions, that means that I don’t need to worry a food bill because it is already factored into our stay. Family vacations can be stressful because going out to dinner with voracious boys can break the bank. I want to relax on vacation, not worry about day to day expenses, so inclusive offerings is great for our family.

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun’s Unlimited-Luxury offering includes “Full breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day, Theme parties, oceanfront bars and entertainment venues, unlimited natural fruit juices and soft drinks (for kids) and unlimited international and domestic top-shelf spirits, Mini-bar refreshed daily with soft drinks, bottled water, and beer, 24-hour room service, pool and beach wait service , Explorer’s Club for kids with supervised activities, Indoor theater, Complimentary greens fees at nearby Grand Coral Riviera Maya golf club and All taxes and gratuities”.

 

RESTAURANTS

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

The restaurants included in Dreams Riviera Cancun’s Unlimited-Luxury are six à la carte gourmet restaurants, a buffet venue, a grill and a café as well as 24-hour room service: World Café ( International cuisine buffet-style), El Patio (Mexican cuisine),  Himitsu ( fusion of Pan-Asian delicacies), Portofino (Italian cuisine), Oceana (Seafood), Seaside Grill, Bordeaux (French cuisine –Adults Only), Coco Café (Coffees, teas and pastries served daily), Barefoot Grill (Made-to-order snacks). One of the night activities during our stay was a poolside themed party that included tables with linens and beautiful stations along the edge with all types of food to enjoy (also included as part of Unlimited-Luxury).

 

There is also a great selection of bars for adults: Rendezvous (Lobby Bar), Barracuda (Beach Bar), Sugar Reef (Pool Side Bar), Manatees (Swim-up Bar), Desires (Music Lounge) and Revive (Spa Bar).  There is live, nightly family-friendly entertainment, including music at the Lobby Bar on select nights if you want to dance with your family after dinner. For adults who want to dance the night way, Desires is a good fit. For couples that want some extra romance, they can reserve in advance a private candlelit, seaside dinner for two (additional cost).

 

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

 

My favorite restaurants (although we did not have time to try all) were the Bordeaux and the World Café. The Salmon dinner we had at the Bordeaux cafe was the perfect mix of fresh food, great tasting flavors and an artful presentation.

 

Dreams Riviera Resort & Spa - Bordeaux

 

 

If we had more time I would have also enjoyed trying the Seaside Grill on the pool front just for that great view! I found that the restaurants offered a great variety of food, including salads, fruit and vegetarian offerings, my personal preference. Room service is also included and I enjoyed a great salad delivered to my room. The resort has filtered water and I had no problem with drinking the water, ice or eating the salads. The only water that is not filtered is the sink water in the rooms, so I used the ample bottled water in the room to brush my teeth and drink at night.

 

Note: Although taxes and gratuities are included, I did choose to tip when I felt I received extra or unique service.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

 

When I am researching a family vacation, one of the most important things I look into is accommodations. Dreams Riviera Cancun offers:”486 luxurious suites uniquely designed in an octogonal shape facing breathtaking views of the Caribbean or lush gardens. Amenities include: King or two double beds, Private and furnished patio or balcony, Full marble bathrooms, jetted whirlpool bathtub, separate shower and separate water closet, Double vanities equipped with phone and sound speaker, Bathrobes & slippers, 32” satellite TV, Air-conditioning with climate control, Hairdryer , Sound system with music channels, CD/DVD player, Direct dial telephone, Unlimited Connectivity, Alarm clock with MP3 player, In-room safe (lap-top size) and Coffee maker along with the daily refreshed mini-bar with beer, juices, soft drinks and bottled water.“

 

 

There is also a Preferred Club that has amenities such as: Private Preferred Club Lounge, Concierge service, daily continental breakfast , afternoon hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, desserts & fine liquors in the lounge, complimentary newspaper in room every day, upgraded mini-bar service and upgraded bath amenities.”

 

I traveled for business around the world before I got married and experienced a wide range of hotel accommodations. I found the quality of the rooms at the Dreams Riviera Cancun luxurious. We stayed on the preferred floor and also had a chance to tour a range of other rooms. All rooms were clean and well-appointed, with details including a stone-tiled bathroom, comfortable beds, and fresh linens. I also appreciated the separate bath and shower, with an easy to use shower handle located near the front of the shower where you step in. So many hotels have the shower handle directly underneath the shower head, and I get sprayed with cold water when starting the shower.

 

Best of all, there were multiple electrical outlets in the room and throughout the resort that fit my US plugs and WiFi (included in the stay). Dreams Riviera Cancun, as well as other properties under the Dreams Resorts & Spa brand and sister brands, has its own app called “Unlimited Connectivity.” The iOs and Android app enables free WiFi and US/Canada International calls within the resort (see the Unlimited Connectivity App for full details), as well as: “allows guests to make local and international calls, free of roaming charges, by connecting to the resort’s Wi-Fi. Guests can also personalize the app through social media to enhance their stay. In addition, the app can be registered as a room extension so guests can receive and make calls throughout the resort as if they were in their room.”

 

 

Dreams Rivieria Cancun Unlimited Connectivity App

 

 

I had purchased an international cell phone plan but had trouble connecting in Cancun. So I was thrilled to use the resort app for WiFi not only in the room but across the resort to stay online and make the calls home during the trip. Having regular access to WiFi allowed me to efficiently get online when I needed to and “unplug” when I needed a break. I did find that at times I needed to re-log into the WiFi when I changed locations in the resort. But the connection always worked.

 

 

Note: I did find my mobile phone’s international plan helpful at the Cancun Airport when my flight was delayed. I was able to make the calls I needed to rearrange plans after I found out I needed to stay the night in Phoenix!

 

SPA AND FITNESS

 

The options for spa adventures were dreamy! The resort offers a variety of classes at the beautiful fitness area as well as poolside. As I was taking pictures around the resort I found a morning yoga class near the beach that looked very scenic and centering. The next morning I was lucky to do yoga with the other women in our group by the pool, lead by Melissa. At first I was not excited to wake up at dawn for a yoga class down by the Dreams Riviera pool, but as the sun rose I quickly concluded it was a great way to start the day. Melissa shared some of her favorite yoga techniques, one of them called Vinyasa and I was so inspired I started taking Vinyasa when I got home!

 

 

The Dreams Spa by Pevonia with options including full spa menu of body treatments and rejuvenating therapies, Hydrotherapy whirlpool baths, Steam rooms and cold plunge baths, Swedish saunas, Swiss showers, Warm cascading outdoor Jacuzzi, Ocean front massage cabins, Garden palapas, Facials and Beauty salon. Spa services are at an additional cost, but access to hydrotherapy treatment is included with Preferred Club stay.

 

One of the most important things after food for families on vacation is activities. Dreams Riviera Cancun has a range of different activities including pool, beach, ocean and plenty of areas for relaxation. And seriously, one of the most important things I look for in family vacation resorts is the ability for us all to relax to take a break from our busy lives!

 

RELAXATION

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

Along with the spa, there are many other ways to relax. For one, there are shaded huts along the pool area, and well-cushioned beach chairs in the pool and beach area. One of my favorite areas to chill was a hut bar with swings located down on the beach. Whether it be a bottle of water or Sangria, sitting on a swing sipping a drink near the beach is a great way to unwind and take in the sea air.

 

POOL AND BEACH FUN

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

POOL ACTIVITIES

 

Along with the quiet spaces, the pool area also has many activities throughout the day and night. There is a shallow kid’s pool area and across a footbridge is an ankle level pool with ping pong tables that really looked like fun. On the other side is a pool with basketball hoops and regularly scheduled activities (including water exercises and even dance lessons!). The pool area also has a big chess set that my twins would of loved to compete against each other for some downtime fun.  Closer to the beach was my favorite pool that included a pool bar and a very well designed “infinity” style that looked as if it were linked with the ocean. This was an adult area that generated a fantasy vision of time spent just lying on a raft, getting up only for visits to the pool bar.  I also just enjoyed sitting on my balcony looking at the  beauty of the pool and beach areas!

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa travel

 

 

OCEAN AND BEACH ACTIVITIES

 

The beach area had nets set up for volleyball and soccer games. For those who wanted to take advantage of the ocean more there was a water activities desk where you can reserve (at an additional cost) snorkeling equipment, a sailboat or even a trip in a glass bottom boat. One more exciting aspect of the Dreams Riviera Cancun is that it is located a short boat ride out from the world’s second largest barrier reef.  Resorts that are close to reefs can have more seaweed in the oceanfront like I found at Dreams Riviera Cancun.  When it comes to ocean activities with three boys, I prefer they swim in pools so I can watch them. However, if we go into the ocean, activities like snorkeling are great for our family to do together. My kids love looking at fish and the reef would certainly be a draw.

 

For even more adventure, there are tours and excursions available. The Amstar website has the pricing and a listing of tours for each location (i.e. Cancun),  resort (i.e. Dreams Riviera Cancun) and by type of activity. For example, for my history buff son would want to visit the Tulu private tour.

 

WEATHER

 

As part of the Mexican Caribbean, Cancun is known for it’s warm sunny climate. But with any tropical climate there is changing weather such as rain during the year.  When I checked the weather websites before the trip mid October,  it showed 4 days of rain during the tail end of our trip. But then I read that weather estimates in Cancun can be off because the weather moves quickly from one area to another. I found that to be true during the trip. While it did rain, it mostly rained at night and early morning. When it did rain during the day it was the tropical type of rain that passed quickly. That left us with days of beautiful sun to enjoy during our stay.

 

THE KIDS EXPLORER CLUB

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

Kids ages 3 to 12 can go to the Dreams Riviera Cancun Explorer’s Club which can give their parents some time to themselves while their kids have fun! The program is a fully supervised and includes activates such as sandcastle competitions, arts and crafts and creative play, with a large playground and game room plus weekly adventures. You can also reserve a sitter through the resort (additional cost). During our trip I saw kids with a sitter playing soccer on the beach and another group having dinner while their parents enjoyed a romantic night out.

 

The Dreams Riviera Cancun is not only a beautiful resort in the exotic Mexican Caribbean, but it has activities that families, couples or groups of friends can enjoy together. The customer service was top rate, everyone had a smile on their face that helped set the tone for a fun vacation.  There are lots of types of vacations, but when you are looking for a luxurious resort that is able to offer everything from quiet spaces to relax, dancing at night to adventures at the pool or beach and access to the world’s second largest barrier reef offshore – the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is a great option.

 

 

Diane Mizoto from The Spiritual Playground brought her camera and captured the essence of how we all felt spending time connecting, adventuring and relaxing as the perfect break from the daily grind we have back home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were hosted by the Dreams Resort. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Thanks to Dreams Resort and The Moms for hosting such a fabulous #TheMomsEscape. Shout out to Miracle Suit who supplied us with fun swimsuits (shown on my hammock picture) that made this mama feel like a Stud Muffin for weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moms With Apps Survery Results: Thoughts On Kid’s Apps

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Moms With Apps and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

 

 

As parents we want our kids to engage with technology in a positive way that inspires learning as well as entertainment. The challenge is helping our kids choose appropriate apps and setting screen time limits. Moms With Apps is a website that offers information about kids apps, including How To Choose Apps For Kids. I have twin 11 year old boys that like using their tablets or my smartphone for their screen time. I use resources like Mom With Apps to help me – help them – choose appropriate apps for their age and also apps that will inspire creativity, learning or just wholesome fun. Just this morning at a doctor’s appointment I searched for Math apps my son could play with while we were waiting.  My concerns related to apps are to make sure they are age inappropriate but also not just simple time wasters. I would rather help my kids use the powerful technology tools they have to enhance their lives, a lesson that they can take to adulthood.

 

 

Mom With Apps just finished a survey of more then 450 parents around the country with their app questions and concerns. The results are interesting so I wanted to share them!

 

 

 

Moms With Apps Survey

 

Here are some of the specific findings from their press release:

 

  • 96% of parents believe that apps are beneficial to their child’s education and development.

    Moms With Apps provides parents with the ability search for trustworthy apps in a variety of different subject areas, including science, math, reading and critical thinking.  

  • 87% of parents report that ​they are concerned about ​their​ children ​making in-app purchases, and 81% say they worry about app​s​ ​​collect​ing​​ their children’s​personal information.

    Founded by parents who love using technology with their own kids, Moms With Apps only features developers who have committed to high standards for protecting kids’ privacy and building great family-friendly apps – and Moms With Apps always makes it quick and easy to Know What’s Inside every app they feature so that parents can decide if it’s right for their kids.

  • When selecting apps for their children, the three key issues for parents ​are: 1) the age-appropriateness of the app​;​ ​2) ​if it’s engaging for their child​;​ and ​3) ​if the app protects their child’s privacy.

    Moms With Apps gives parents simple tools to find the right apps for their kids. Just like nutrition labels help parents decide which snack is right for their kids, Moms With Apps provides parents with information up-front and in plain English to help them decide which app is right for their kids.

  • Parents feel they waste time looking for the right apps for their kids. 49% report the process as “moderately” to “very hard.”

    With more than one million apps to choose from, it can be hard to find the right apps for kids – and even harder to know if the app their kid loves is one they can trust. Moms With Apps is the only resource for parents who want to find great, trustworthy apps for their children.

     

 

What are your thoughts and concerns about children’s apps?

 

 

 

 

Best Time For Holiday Shopping Deals

Holiday ShoppingWhile many are getting ready to shop Black Friday, the numbers show that the best time for holiday shopping deals are spread out from early November to New Years sales in January.

 

 

Forbes discussed the best shopping days by sharing the information from the Adobe annual online shopping forecast.  While the post stated that Thanksgiving Day has some of the best pricing, Forbes shared that  “Adobe also predicts that the largest single-day drop in prices, 5% on average, will happen on the Monday before Thanksgiving, thanks to retailers trying to get an even earlier jump on sales.”  If retailers are trying to get an earlier jump on sales, maybe shopping early is a great way to get a jump on holiday shopping!

 

Another big trend is mobile shopping so retailers are offering more deals online. I shopped during Black Fridays for the last few years and realized that while there were some key deals, many items were either sold out or out of stock by the time I tried to get them.  Looking back at the even the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales items that were sold out, some discounts were similar what I found later in December and even January.  At the store there were also limited stock for the best pricing and other items were regular price. My lesson learned was instead of only waiting for specific “sale” days I would start looking for deals early in the season.  For the in store shopping, I like to talk to the staff to see when the sales start and also see if they have shopper programs that offer early access to sales. For example, some stores offer sale information over their email newsletters.

 

Marketwatch looked at holiday shopping information from Savings.com and found that the best shopping days for specific categories of items range from Thanksgiving weekend to throughout December. Last year I needed to buy a TV for our family and found that New Years Day sales in January not only had the best pricing but were also less crowded. I assumed New Years Day sales were good because it was after the holidays and the stores wanted to move inventory out to clear space for new items. This year we need to upgrade our gaming console so while I will be monitoring sales throughout the holiday season, I may just give our kids a “rain check” and shop the New Years sales. The biggest tip is that unplugging with family and friends is the best gift of all, so why stress yourself out shopping when sales are spread out across the season?  What good is saving money if it means increasing stress?

 

Maybe the best strategy is keep an eye out for sales starting in November and start shopping early. Then put down phones, shut off computers and enjoy Thanksgiving and holiday events. What is your holiday shopping strategy?

 

UPDATE: On Facebook I shared the post and had some great discussion points. I wanted to add that if you *enjoy* shopping and it does not cause you stress or cause you to leave social occasions early (or not go all) – then go for it! Even shopping online is a great way to have a lower stress shopping experience.  For those that enjoy shopping at stores, holidays are a fun time to shop because of the sales. I say just stick to budget and make sure you are also find time to relax and enjoy time with family & friends!

 

 

 

Women Rock The Vote! Websites To Help Find Polling Places

VotingToday is voting day for 2014 Mid Term elections.  I usually don’t talk about politics, but I do want to talk about how important it is for everyone to vote. It is especially important for women to vote to make sure their voices are heard. I remember my mom taking my brother and I to vote after work because she worked full time. I kept that tradition and have taken my boys with me for years to vote. Today I cleared some time during lunch and will take a run to my local poll location (exercise and voting at the same time)!

 

To do my part, I also wanted to share the online websites that can you help you find your local poll locations.

 

1. Vote411.org  is a website created by the League of Women Voters and asks users to “enter their addresses to find their polling place, build their ballot with an online voters’ guide and much more!”

 

2. Get To The Polls (Voter Information Project): Get to the polls is a great website just to find out where you can vote. This website worked the best for me quickly finding my local polling location.

 

3. Can I Vote Website: The Can I vote website has information on polling places by state.

 

4. Make a pledge to vote #WhyIVote at MomsRising The website Moms Rising posted with a request to make a pledge to vote:  “Why pledge to vote? Elections, particularly local elections, are sometimes won or lost by fewer than 20 votes.  So when you pledge to vote you’re also part of activating moms and dads across the nation to show up on Election Day to make a critical difference. Women are 53% of the electorateand if we all show up to vote, we can determine the outcomes of elections.” The Moms Rising Facebook Page has great stories that women shared on why they voted. Here is one from Ariana Huffington:

 

Moms Rising #WhyIVote

Photo Credit: Moms Rising

 

 

Please share “Why You Vote” and make sure you head to the polls today!

 

 

 

What Boys Wear- Sports and Smiles

Disclosure: I am a member of the Invisalign Teen Mom Advisory Board

 

What Boys WearWhen it comes to fashion for tween and teen boys, it seems to be a carefully crafted mix of the styles trends based on what heir friends and online role models are wearing. Here are the top trends, in my experience, that have influenced my boys when it comes to what they wear. Because I have three boys, I can only comment on what they wear. What trends do you see with your kids? I would especially enjoy hearing from parents of girls on trends that influence their fashion choices.

 

 

Trend 1: Sports

Sports are one of the top trends I see when it comes to tween and teen fashion. Because many boys (and girls!)  go right to sports activities after school, some wear clothes to school that can be used for both.  For example, I see many middle school boys wear sports shirts and shorts. At least the trend of slipping on sport shirts and shorts makes it easy for my boys to get dressed in the morning. I live in California so the weather is somewhat mild during the year, meaning that some boys I know wear shorts all year long! The only pants my boys will swap out their shorts for in Winter is jeans. Even my son’s friends who wear uniforms to private school during the day slip into sports active wear after school and on weekends.

 

Trend 2: What Other Kids Wear

After the first few weeks of Middle School my twin boys started asking for bright colored socks. I did not know what they were talking about until I noticed that the other boys at school were wearing brightly colored sport socks in all different types of colors. While some school fashion trends are not “appropriate” for school, brightly colored sports socks seem to be upbeat. When I asked some of my fashion forward adult male friends about sock “trends”, they said that brightly colors are always a hot trend.

 

Trend 3: The Online World

While I follow online fashion websites, I have noticed that my teen is influenced by some of the fashions he sees on his favorite YouTube shows. Luckily, they all dress low key with jeans and sometimes they even wear shirts with collars!

 

baseball  smileAs a parent I want my boys to feel good about themselves not matter what they wear, but I have explained that beyond clothes one of the most important things to wear is a “big smile” on their face. Smiling is a great way to not only connect with current friends but also meet new ones. I tell my younger twin boys that smiles are not only for posing for your sports photo’s, they are to be shared with your friends and family in real life as well!

 

 

 

Luckily my oldest teen son is working on his smile with proper dental health and Invisalign.  Fellow blogger Beccarama just posted her thoughts on “Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and information about the Invisalign Countdown to Confidence Sweepstakes ending November 13.

 

 

 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Invisalign Teen Mom Advisory Board. My son has received complimentary treatment from Align, but all opinions expressed are my own. Here is information on the Invisalign smile assessment, treatment process and how to find a Doctor.

 

 

 

 

How To Enforce Screen Time Rules For Kids

How To Enforce Tablet Screentime Rules For Kids

 

With an overwhelming number of mobile devices available today, parents can struggle to keep their kids safe online and set rules for screen time. Even if parents don’t make mobile devices or home computer accessible to their kids, these pesky young ones will find other ways to go online, either from a friend, at school or even the library. From a cultural standpoint, technology in the hands of kids has become an essential part of modern social communication (i.e. texting to make social plans) and education, including school work and online learning. This makes it even more important to set up screen time rules and ensure kids know how to unplug.  Because devices are so enticing, even adults have trouble unplugging (speaking from personal experience) and logical consequences may be needed at times to enforce rules.

 

Like many parents, my husband and I struggle to discover what boundaries and logical consequences work best with screen time rules. If parents use a logical consequence that in the end can’t be implemented, kids won’t respect the rules. In our house, we frame tablet use as a positive reward for homework completion and we establish time limits. Our logical consequence when rules were not followed was taking away the tablets. The kids can always do homework on the family computers in public spaces such as the family room. But on the down side, when we took away their tablets our kids could not read their e-books or listen to their audio books.

 

A few days ago all the moons aligned and I finally found something that works for one of my most tech addicted sons. I have 11 year-old twin sons and one of my twins, J, just started following our family screen time rules including no screen time at bed – reading only. I even purchased both of my twins Amazon Kindle Paperwhites to do their nightly reading. The Amazon Kindle HD Fire’s parental controls are very robust. We choose the Kindle Paperwhites because they are so light, have a great screen for reading in all conditions and the charge lasts for a few weeks.

 

My tween son J was able to actually put down his tablet before bedtime when asked and read books on his Kindle Paperwhite. The ability to manage his own screen time is the goal we have worked toward since they were little. His twin brother, D, had trouble putting his tablet down to read and we tried many other strategies. We had him listen to audio books from Audible at night for bedtime reading, and he went through tons of different chapter books until he said he wanted to go back to reading the books.

 

But D could not resist the temptation to watch YouTube videos at night instead of reading (mostly STEM, minecraft, harmless cartoons and other age appropriate videos). So last night I did what years of learning emotion coaching from the fabulous TheGoToMom Kimberley Clayton Blaine inspired me to do: without emotion, I told my son D at bedtime that he has not shown me he can comply with screen time rules and I am taking his tablet away at night. I also told him that I am only returning it temporarily for his daily hour of screen time. TheGoToMom’s emotion coaching really helped me understand the next thing I did: walking  away! Before my son could resist, yell, debate or plead for his tablet back I just walked out of the room and put the tablet where he could not find it. It was the logical consequence that felt right and I decided to go with it.

 

This technique was extra difficult because my son has a hip injury and is on crutches. He actually got out of bed, grabbed his crutches and followed me from room to room begging to return his tablet. I felt so guilty inside, but TheGoToMom helped me learn that I need to not engage, just calmly say “you will get your tablet back tomorrow, now it is reading time”.. The image of him using his crutches to follow me around while I was cleaning a few different rooms made me want to give in, but I had to keep a straight face and stick to my logical consequence or else I knew it would never work.

 

What happened the next morning can only be described as magical. The night before he finally got tired of chasing me around in his crutches and went to bed – AND READ… Then he told me he work up early and READ MORE before going back to sleep.  When he got up he READ AGAIN. I gave him a big hug when he told me and I said “for now on, I will hold your tablet a night and you can get it back during the day”. D said “OK” and I felt that exhilarating feeling you get as a parent when you see your child taking responsibility and embracing something he needed to do for his own good. I know that we will go through more screen time challenges in the future, but for now – all is good.

 

HOW TO ENFORCE SCREEN TIME RULES FOR KIDS (including tablets!):

 

Step 1: Create family screen time rules. For reference check out Common Sense Media’s section on screen time.  In my experience, it is important to create rules that the whole family can follow (and parents can enforce) – so try to be realistic. For example, because we have all of the family desktops in public family areas, my kids use their personal tablets to check homework websites for school when doing homework in their bedrooms. So a regular rule that includes not tablet use at night would not work. But we do have a rule that tablets can only be used for reading or homework after 8pm in their bedrooms.  We also have a rule that our kids can have one 30 minutes of screen time after school, then they need to finish their homework to earn more recreational screen time (if time permits).

 

Another important point is to define what websites are “appropriate” for screen time. My tween sons can only play Minecraft, STEM websites such as Scratch, sports and other video games rated for their age while my 16 year old can play teen rated video games for his screen time (in a room away from his brothers!). We also have a family rule that states that exercise or sports before screen time! If my boys don’t have organized sports that day, they can play any sport such as a quick game of pickup basketball. But for one weekend morning, they can watch cartoons above and beyond the regular screen time rules.  I find it helpful to print out the family screen time rules and put them next to family desktops and in my kid’s bedrooms.

 

Step 2:  Decide on how to enforce the screen time limits/rules. Create appropriate logical consequences and positive rewards. I have found positive rewards always works better than consequences, but at times logical consequences are needed. For example, my kids “earn” their screen time for doing their homework and doing outside play/sports times each day. At the same time, they may have trouble sticking to the screen time limits so that is when we have logical consequences (like taking away their tablets for a day).

 

When my kids were younger I set up web filters to limit their access to websites. But now that our kids have access to computers at school and friends with smartphones, we have more open access at home and regular discussions about internet safety including the consequences of visiting inappropriate websites. Along with the logical consequences of losing screen time, we have regular talks with our kids about the serious dangers that exist online. Some families I know needed to put more serious logical consequences such as closing down home WiFi access only on an as needed basis. Home WiFi access can be controlled with parental control software or on the home router controls. There is also a great selection of parent control software that can be used across home devices and computers (which I will post on another time).

 

Step 3: Make a promise (to yourself) to always keep emotions in check and set up system to support that. For example, when I enforce the consequence of taking my kids tablet away I either do it when they are asleep or now that they are older I calmly explain that they have not complied with the screen time rules so I am taking their tablet away for (“x” nights or days etc).  I feel it is important now that they are older (11) they see me taking their tablet away as a logical consequence. When they were younger their reasoning was not as strong so I just took it away when they were asleep. To keep my emotions in check after I take the tablet away and to not engage in emotional debates or pleas, I always walk out of the room and then decide on a household chore to start doing. That way, if they want to follow me around I will just focus on my household chore to remain calm. Sometimes I left the house to go for a jog, giving myself a necessary exercise break.

 

 

For more information, check out Common Sense Media Screen Time section.

 

For information on choosing your kid’s first phone (which if it is a smartphone – will have access to a web browser), check out my post titled “Top Tips: Choosing First Phone for Kids“.

 

I am excited to be a volunteer as one of the Common Sense Media Learn On Ambassadors.

Common Sense Media LearnON Ambassador 2014

 

 

Five Ways To Use #Tech For #Halloween

I was not going to post on Halloween but I was so inspired by the fun press outreach (and seeing what my fellow bloggers wrote) that I wanted to share some of my Halloween inspired tech favorites. Please share yours and have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

1. LED and Laser Pointers to Light Up Your Jack-O-Lantern!

 

deathstar  pumpkin

PHOTO CREDIT: Fantasypumpkins.com

 

Our family favorite Make Magazine had a great link list of creative pumpkin carving ideas, including a Death Star and using LED’s and laser pointers to light up your pumpkins. The Death Star Pumpkin masterpiece is from the website Fantasy Pumpkins. May the Jack-O-Lantern Be With You!

 

2. Check out websites for last minute Halloween ideas

Cool Mom Picks has a post with the UItimate Last Minute Halloween Guide. Of course, Pinterest has a vast amount of Halloween inspirations to keep you busy for hours. Growing Up Goofy has (our family favorite Disney) Mikey Mouse Halloween crafts and Tinker Lab has Halloween craft ideas for kids. There are many other food and design blogs online to get ideas. Z Living and Rookie Moms have tips for a healthier Halloween. For Halloween fashion tips, I found a great R2-D2 skirt at I am a Funny Girl’s Fashion Friday post. For super last minute tips, Mashable posted with costumes you can make in 15 minutes…

 

 

3. Halloween Spirits For Adults

 

Halloween Cocktail Photo by Steve Murello  via HGTV

Halloween Cocktail. Photo Credit by Steve Murello via HGTV

 

 

After all the work creating costumes, decorations, food and more I think it is important for parents to give themselves some Halloween Holiday spirits. When searching online for Halloween ideas for kids, why not also search for some Halloween adult drink ideas to die for like the recipes over on the website HGTV.

 

4. Apps to help with Halloween Decorations

 

Home Outside App Holiday Halloween

Home Outside App – Holiday Halloween

 

 

Today I received a press release about an app called Home Outside that can help you create a landscape design for Halloween or for any occasion.  I may even try this app to make another attempt to landscape now that my boys are older. The last time we tried (many years ago) we had toddlers who went and pulled the tubing from our drip irrigation. I am sure there are many other Halloween apps to decorate inside and outside your house.

 

5. Think Geek – One Stop Halloween Shopping

 

 

thinkgeek halloween

Think Geek Halloween – Minecraft

 

The website Think Geek has the best selection of techie Halloween fun including costumes (regular and cosplay), decorations and accessories including lights and lasers to light up your night. Of course, many of the accessories, such as the Think Geek: Mega Stomp Panic, would be great for geeky fun throughout the year!

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favorite Halloween ideas? I know that we will celebrating throughout the weekend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create Professional Graphic Designs With Canva – Now on iPad

Whether you are a social media professional or just a professional in any career -  graphics is an important part of presentations, events, group, online and meeting communications.  In the past expensive and complicated graphics software was needed to create and “size” graphics. I have been following and learning about social media from Guy Kawaski for years and recently he shared information about Canva as a great website to create graphics. I started using Canva for my social media and professional graphic projects and was thrilled at how easy it was for even people like me (graphically challenged).  I just received a press release that Canva is now available on the iPad, which makes it even easier to create graphics on the go!

 

Canva for the iPad

 

The press release explained:

“Canva makes it amazingly simple for everyone to create professional quality graphic designs. Its online design platform brings together a simple drag-and-drop design tool and a library of more than one million photographs, graphics and fonts, allowing anyone to take an idea and present it beautifully in print or online.

Canva can be used to design almost anything: presentations, posters, blog content, cards, online marketing materials, invitations, flyers and so much more. For more information on Canva, visit the website or follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram or Pinterest.”

 

Key Features from the press release:

 

  • “Design for work, and play. Never worry about dimensions again. Easily design for social media, blog graphics and print. Create social media graphics with ease. Professionally designed layouts that are perfect for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

Canva for the iPad

 

 

  • Design on your iPad or the Web. Create a design on your desktop computer, edit it on the go.
  • Collaborate with anyone, anywhere. Canva lets you share and edit your designs with friends, clients and coworkers.
  • Choose from one million images and hundreds of fonts. Design with 1 million photos, graphics and fonts, or upload your own.”

 

 

Canva for the iPad

 

Canva for the iPad

 

 

 

For example, I was on a tight deadline to write a post about tips for finding your kids first phone. Canva enabled me to quickly add a text banner to my graphic that looked great across social media platforms.  I also use Canva to size my graphics for different online platforms. The flexibility to either find my own graphics or use Canva’s vast collection ensures that I can always get what I need. I also follow Peg Fitzpatrick for great social media tips and she explained in her blog the power of maximizing content with visual marketing and tips to better visual marketing using Canva.

 

Here is a video about Canva for more information:

 

Listed below is more information from the press release:

 

Canva Launches App to Bring Amazingly Simple Design to the iPad

● Canva app brings professional design to the iPad

● Canva reaches 870,000 users and 6.2 million designs

● Renowned investors have invested $6.6 million

 

 

Sydney, Australia — 15/10/14 — Australian startup Canva today announced the launch of the Canva app for iPad. The app brings together a simple drag-and-drop design interface with a library of more than one million photographs, graphics and fonts, and it makes creating graphics fast and easy.

 

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins“Canva makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone, allowing any idea to be beautifully presented in print or online,” said Canva CEO Melanie Perkins. “We are excited to extend this experience and now allow people to design at home, in the office or on the go. In the past year since our launch we have been overwhelmed by the many ways people are using Canva every day. Our new app brings everything people love about Canva to the iPad.”

 

Canva’s iPad app is free to download and provides access to Canva’s library of millions of stock photographs, illustrations and layouts. Users can upload photos from their device or Facebook account, or pay per premium element when they publish their design. Canva also provides professional designers with a faster way to create layouts and collaborate with clients, removing the need for frustrating back-and-forth email exchanges. The iPad app makes it especially easy to collaborate on the go.

 

Canva has been backed by investors including Facebook Director of Engineering and co-
founder of Google Maps Lars Rasmussen, Yahoo! CFO Ken Goldman, and funds including Matrix Partners, InterWest Partners, and 500 Startups.

 

 

Guy Kawasaki CanvaFormer Apple chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who recently resurrected this title when he began to work for Canva said, “Canva realizes the creative potential of the iPad. The app is beautiful and it’s intuitive, just like the iPad. It allows everyone to create beautiful designs for work and play.”

 

 

 

Canva will be available in the app store starting from today. Find out more at http://about.canva.com/ipad.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: This is a press post.