Great Chuggington Giveaway: Stacktrack Set & Chug Patrol App

chuggington logo

Do you have a little Chuggington fan? If so, I have some exciting news for you and a great giveaway you are going to love! StoryToys, a leading publisher of interactive books and games for children, recently released “Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue,” a 3D interactive storybook for children and it is currently 50% off!

The “Chug Patrol: Ready To Rescue” app is available in the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for $4.99 on smartphones and tablets. The “Chug Patrol” app features Wilson as he proves to be a brave new hero of the rails. He’s “in control and ready to roll!” Brewster and Koko also move up to advanced training, taking lessons from new mentors and helping with more important tasks. Children can read or listen to the story, and then turn the page to see a 3D pop-up scene magically unfold. They can then join in the action for themselves, all while earning Chug Patrol badges for their collection. Readers will ride along with Koko as she masters speed control and braking, build new track in the forest with Brewster, make a daring rescue from the mine with Wilson, save Emery when his brakes fail, and much more.

“Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue” includes the following features:

  • Amazing 3D book experience – it’s just like a real pop-up book.
  • Nine interactive pop-up scenes with exciting games and puzzles.
  • Fully narrated in multiple languages by original actors from the series.
  • Read to Me, Read it Myself, and Autoplay modes.
  • 21 beautifully presented pages of text.
  • Win a badge when each task is completed, just like a real Chug Patroller!
  • Features a fantastic musical score and lots of amazing sound effects.

Love a good deal? StoryToys has a two week Christmas promotion running through January 3rd and Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue is 50% off! They also have other great sales including: Grimm’s Hansel & Gretel (free!) and all other books in the library will be $1 off (apart from books that are already $0.99).

 GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a Chuggington StackTrack Ready to Race Deluxe Action Playset by TOMY and a free code for the Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue phone app!

Chuggington StackTrack Ready to Race Playset takes kids on a twisting, turning, spiraling adventure that scales four levels of fun. Experience the only die-cast railway that combines train and construction play to deliver the tallest, most action-packed train play ever. This innovative train track system lets kids build tall, spiraling layouts…so tall, in fact, that TOMY set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for World’s Tallest Toy Train Track this spring at Grand Central Terminal in New York City!

The Ready to Race Playset inspires construction creativity with eight different layout options—each designed to encourage imagination and amp up the play value. High Performance engine technology eliminates the frustration of flipping engines or disastrous derailments with engines that stay on track—even when screeching down a two foot tall layout! Plus, the set is compatible with all other Chuggington StackTrack and die-cast sets, delivering endless track layout possibilities.

Ages: 3 and up. MSRP: $89.99

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this giveaway for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Tweet: Enter to win @Tomy_toy’s @Chuggington StackTrack & Chug Patrol app from @Storytoys via @aliciamarie112 http://wp.me/p2UYm7-5AZ #Traintastic

4) Comment on another one of my blog posts

5) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

6) Follow @Storytoys on Twitter

Giveaway ends January 5, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to win.

Angry Birds Go! Telepods Pig Rock Raceway Set {Giveaway}

angry birds giveaway

My boys are really into Angry Birds lately. They love the phone app but they also enjoy playing with the playsets. I shared about the small set we got back in October (find the review here) and this month Hasbro sent us the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS PIG ROCK RACEWAY Set.

This set is so much fun! Lucas was home sick from school today and, once I set it up for him, spent over an hour playing with the set (which is great for him considering he doesn’t have much of an attention span).

Two of the birds are in little cars and, with the push of a button, race each other along this long race track. There are extra obstacles you can add to the excitement but for my four year old the basic racing was enough to keep him occupied.

It was so cute listening to Lucas say, “you win! yay!” over and over again when one of the cars would get to the end of the track.

Another way to play with the characters from this set is to use the phone app and teleport your angry bird into the game. The boys think it’s so cool that they can do this.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win an Angry Birds Go! Telepods Pig Rock Raceway Set

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends December 30, 2013 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a game for review.)

Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods

angry bird 3

The boys love playing angry birds on our smartphone so they were excited to see that I got the Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods from Hasbro to review. This toy is unique because it lets kids play IRL {in real life} and also play a game virtually on their iPhone.

The boys first played without the phone. They stacked the “bricks” and then launched their Angry Birds’ vehicles into the towers.

After about 20 minutes they decided to play the Telepods game on their phone. The set comes with a Telepods base which teleported their characters directly into the Angry Birds Star Wars II app.

This is the first game and app that gives kids a chance to customize their line-up and it gives them a chance to fling the pigs, instead of the birds.

The boys loved playing this game together. They thought it was so neat that the Angry Bird they picked showed up on their screen. I see this toy bringing hours of play for both kids and would make a great Christmas gift for those that love Angry Birds and Star Wars.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a product to review. Thoughts are my own.)

CallSnap: Respond To Calls With Photos {Giveaway}

call snap - new option to answer

Have you ever had a call come in when you were somewhere you couldn’t talk? It happens to me all the time! Usually it’s my mom and I hate hitting “ignore” but sometimes I just can’t pick up the call. People know when you ignore their call too which makes it worse. If you find yourself in the same situation as me you need to get CallSnap.

CallSnap is a free patent-pending downloadable app that provides call recipients the chance to prove that “a picture’s worth a thousand words” by responding instantly to an incoming call with a photo.The Android app is available to download for free in the Google Play store.

By showing people what they’re doing, CallSnap provides mobile call recipients a fun, new, and innovative way to communicate by sharing an instant photo with a friend. Here’s how it works:

  • In response to an incoming call, the recipient is provided an option to slide an icon to CallSnap.
  • CallSnap declines the incoming call and the call recipient is given the opportunity to take a picture which is sent to the caller with one of multiple sayings overlaid as a frame such as, “I’m busy, here’s what I’m doing.”
  • When the recipient uses CallSnap, the caller instantly receives a text message announcing ‘Busy right now…CallSnap photo on the way!’ Importantly, the caller immediately learns that the recipient has seen their call but can’t talk at the moment.
  • Shortly after placing the call, the caller receives the photo visually explaining why the call recipient can’t answer.

GIVEAWAY:

CallSnap is going to give one Making Time For Mommy reader a $25 Google Play gift card and CallSnap t-shirt

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who’s calls you ignore the most or when you would use this app the most

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow CallSnap on Twitter

4) Follow me on Twitter

5) Like CallSnap on Facebook

Giveaway ends August 26, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or over and a US resident to enter.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post.)

My Valentine’s Day Playlist

beats audio

Some Of My Favorite Romantic Songs

Tank- Next Breath
Savage Garden- Truly Madly Deeply
NeYo- Let Me Love You
Sixpence None The Richer- Kiss Me
98 Degrees- I Do
Brian McKnight- Back at One
K-Ci and JoJo- All My Life
Rascal Flatts- Bless The Broken Road
Bryan Adams- Everything I Do, I Do It For You
Steven Curtis Chapman- I Will Be Here
Luther Vandross- Here and Now
Whitney Houston- I Will Always Love You
Edwin McCain- I’ll Be

What are your favorite romantic songs?

***

I’ve been enjoying using my Windows Phone 8X by HTC to play music. It has Beats Audio. Here’s a little more about what makes it amazing according to HTC:

The 8X has a dedicated amp built right into the phone, so it pumps more power to your headphones than ever. Plus, Beats Audio is coming to Windows phones for the first time ever. Take that combination and transform your listening pleasure with deeper bass, crisper vocals and detailed high notes for music, games, movies and videos.

 (Disclosure: I am a member of HTC’s Troop 8X and received this phone to review. All thoughts are my own.)

My Favorite Apps On My Windows 8X Phone By HTC

HTC Windows 8 Fav Apps

Since I wrote about my new Windows 8 phone last week I have discovered a ton more apps that make my life easier. Here are some of my favorites:

1) Starbuck’s Finder. You all know that I run on Starbuck’s so this app is a must! I know where my local Starbuck’s coffee shops are but when I head to the city and beyond I have no clue where I can get my coffee fix.

2) Temperature. I love having the temperature displayed right on my home screen. In the morning when I’m rushing to get the boys out the door I don’t have time to check the weather on my computer or the television so it’s nice to just glance at my phone and know what weather Chicago is going to have that day. (Seriously…last week we had one day that was in the 50s or 60s and then had some snow on another day. It’s crazy!)

3) Me. Not sure if that’s the apps real name but that’s what it says when I click on the picture of my kiddos. It has all my social updates and emails in one spot. It could replace all of the individual apps for my social networks but I like having the option of checking them individually in their “native” app if I have time to waste or using this app to view them all at once to get an idea of what’s going on in my network.

4) All Recipes. Having a recipe app on my phone is great because when I’m menu planning I can search for recipes using this app and when I’m at the grocery store I can use it to make sure I don’t forget any ingredients I need.

5) The Bible. Gone are the days of carrying around a big, bulky Bible. Having it on my smartphone lets me read the Word anytime, anywhere I am.

6) Pinspiration. It’s an app for Pinterest so I don’t think I need to explain why I like it ;)

What are some of your favorite phone apps?

(Disclosure: I received a phone from HTC to review but all thoughts are my own.)

Ubooly: Interactive Toy For Children {Giveaway}

ubooly flickr

We recently had a new little friend join our family named Ubooly. Ubooly becomes an interactive stuffed animal when an iPhone or iPod is placed inside of it. Before we gave it to the boys Sinisa and I tried it out ourselves and quickly found ourselves laughing at it’s goofy jokes and fun facts. Once we gave it to the boys they didn’t know what to think at first. They wondered how this stuffed animal was talking to them. They quickly fell in love with her and she quickly became part of the family.

 Jacob napped with Ubooly.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

She played a game with us.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

She balanced on heads {and flew up in the air}.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

She cuddled  up on the couch and watched television with daddy.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

She even enjoyed some time swinging in the therapy swing with Jacob.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

What a busy day for our friend Ubooly!!

We really loved playing with her. Jacob’s favorite thing to do with her was put her to sleep and wake her up and put her to sleep and wake her up….over and over again. Lucas liked making her tell stories and sing. I really loved that Ubooly wasn’t just another stuffed animal that would end up at the bottom of the toy box because there was so much to do with the Ubooly. I also liked that the Ubooly updates monthly with new activities so the children don’t get bored with the same jokes, stories, and songs.

***

Moms are some of the most savvy mobile users and so are their kids. Ubooly is a toy designed for this new high-tech generation. While learning and sharing new content every week, Ubooly is the only toy that grows with your child. It encourages listening skills, and a break from high-energy / high-stimulation play. Through stories & interactive games, Ubooly’s curiosity is sure to awaken the creativity within your child’s imagination.

Ubooly is the hot toy of the season, it’s new to the scene and is on track to sell out this winter! Free updates through Wi-Fi creates ongoing entertainment for kids.

Click here to adopt your own Ubooly and get FREE SHIPPING now!

GIVEAWAY:

The giveaway prize includes one Ubooly toy & the Ubooly iOS app, which updates every month with new activities, automatically over WiFi.

Entrants must have an iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, or an iPod touch 4th and 5th gen. (or be giving it to someone that has one of these iPhones or iPods as Ubooly can only become interactive with one of these devices.)

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me who you think would love the Ubooly.

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right hand corner)

Giveaway ends November 30, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only. The giveaway does not include the iPhone or iPod touch.

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ubooly. The opinions and text are all mine.)

Introducing Evzdrop, A Location-Based Interest Network

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Sinisa and I have spent the past couple days trying out a new iPhone app for a location-based interest network called Evzdrop. Evzdrop lets people stay connected to what’s happening at places in real time. The free mobile app and Web platform allow users to “evzdrop” to get an inside look at any place they’re interested in through the people who are present and posting about what’s going on at any given moment.

Here’s what makes Evzdrop different from other location-based networks:

Evzdrop lets users “listen in” from nearby or afar. Was the referee correct on that controversial call? Use Evzdrop to see what people at the game have to say. How does the band sound from the front row? Check out the comments and photos on Evzdrop, either via the mobile app or Web platform. Thinking about visiting a certain bar on your business trip next month? See what people at the venue right now are saying about their experience on Evzdrop.

Evzdrop gives consumers a voice. Even if you have 10,000 Twitter followers, chances are they are only interested in a small portion of your tweets because the content can vary so widely. Evzdrop gives people a large network with a targeted following by providing them a microphone through which to broadcast their experience at that point in time. The platform allows you to be heard where and when it matters most: in the moment

Evzdrop’s geo-fencing technology allows users to Drop anonymously while still maintaining credibility. Mobile users often want to be heard but don’t necessarily want to be found, and Evzdrop’s Stealth mode lets users contribute while still protecting individual privacy. By design, all Drops are location-verified, but consumers are able to use the Stealth function to post anonymously if they choose, and location makes their insights valid.

Evzdrop allows consumers to influence change. When a user Drops, it sends a ripple effect through the app, reaching other users who are tuned in to Radar or that particular place. Evzdrop’s common connection – location – means that users are able to reach a constantly changing set of people who share similar interests. But consumers aren’t the only people listening; businesses are too. In many ways, Evzdrop serves as a digital comment box that’s open to the public.

Evzdrop brings focus and relevance to the overwhelming amount of content being created on social media. Evzdrop employs the interest graph as the thread that ties its network together, letting you listen in to the places you care about. The app provides a collective snapshot of a location at any given time and opens up a lens of insight well beyond one’s social network.

We’ve been asked to use the app as we go about the week so we can give my readers and followers and the members of the Chicago Blogger Network a peek into the lives of a busy mom and dad on the go. You can follow us as we “drop” our locations around the suburbs of Chicago by following us on Twitter. My handle is @aliciamarie112 and Sinisa’s is @DADofJAKEnLUKE :)

We will be back this weekend with a full review of the app and the network!

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for being an Evzdrop Ambassador for the week.)

Mobile Security With Trend Micro

Basic CMYK

As a family in the Digital Joneses campaign for Trend Micro we have a challenge to complete every month. This month’s challenge was focused on mobile security and staying safe while on the go. To complete the challenge we received smartphones and were told that we should try doing everything we need to do online using only a phone. Working from home I am online 70-80 hours a week so I knew that doing all my work from a phone was not realistic but I aimed to do as much as possible on it as I could.

The first thing I did after I set up my phone was to install some of Trend Micro’s android applications. The first was their free Android security app called “Trend Micro Mobile Security Personal Ed”. This application will protect my phone from loss, malicious apps, and dangerous website. It includes an app scanner that will scan every application that I install to make sure it’s safe. It also includes a trial of some of their premium features including safe surfing, parental controls, call and text blocking, a way to find your loss phone using google maps, an alarm if your phone is lost and you are looking for it, and a way to lock and wipe the device if you lose it and you can’t find it. All of these extra features sounded great. I especially loved all of the features it offered for lost phones since that is one of the worst things that could happen to my phone.

The next app that I added was their Longetivity app to extend my phone’s battery life. It never fails that my phone dies within a few hours of me leaving my house, especially if I use it as a GPS to get to my location. I liked that this app was easy to use. The “Just-a-phone” mode can be used when the battery is low so that the phone can still be used for calls and texts. You can also see which apps are taking the most battery power which is helpful when you want to preserve your battery life.

The final application I added was their Backup and Restore app. This free app makes a secure copy of my contacts, messages, photos and videos and lets me restore them to any Android device I’d like to. We could have really used this feature in the past when one of Sinisa’s phones got broken. All the pictures that were on it from when our children were little were lost. Those images are something we can never get back.

Once I got the applications loaded I got started on my challenge. The first thing I did was check the longetivity application to see how much battery power my phone had. It showed 13 hours and if I used the “just-a-phone” mode I would have 15 hours of battery time. I kept this in mind so I could use this feature when I wasn’t using the internet or applications.

Trend Micro had challenged us to use our smartphones and try doing at least four items on a list of tasks. The first task of the challenge I wanted to complete was downloading a Pinterest app and creating a Pinterest board but when I went to the Android store on my phone and searched “Pinterest” there were 318 apps that came up. Looking through the list I didn’t see one that looked like it was from Pinterest so I moved on to another task. I figured I should probably check my emails so I setup my email account and was happy to find that I had no problem doing so. My last Android phone never let me setup the email feature with my hotmail address. Once I started checking the emails I found that I had to click on the message header and then wait for the message to download. After a few minutes of the message trying to download I gave up and moved onto a different task. The next task I tried was streaming videos on YouTube. I searched for videos on blogging and watched a few videos, including one by Darren Rowse on family/blogging balance. I loved how clear the picture was on this new phone. I then watched a live lip dub marriage proposal which had me cracking up. The last task that I did was downloaded a picture to Facebook.

This month’s challenge was fun. The majority of what I do on my phone is check my emails and Facebook so it was nice to do some other things that I normally don’t take time to do, like watch videos on YouTube. I am happy that I have some great Trend Micro applications to help me stay safe while I use my phone for work and entertainment. We received two phones so we decided we would give Jacob {our 3, soon to be 4 year old} one for his birthday so that he can watch videos, play games and take pictures instead of using mommy or daddy’s phones. With the ability to setup parental controls on his phone in addition to us sitting with him we feel that he will be safe while exploring the internet using this new technology.

Here are some additional safety tips from Trend Micro to keep in mind:

1) Enable your password on your mobile device. Make sure it is not an easy password that others can guess.

2) If you ever experience your mobile device turning off and on unexpectedly, or sending unauthorized messages to your contacts, you should know it is infected with a virus.

3) Trust the source, not the application. Make it a habit to download applications only from trusted sources.

4) Update your phone as soon as your phone alerts you that there is a new update.

4) Pay attention when installing applications. If an app asks for access to irrelevant data (like a game asks for access to your phone book) immediately stop installation and recheck the source.

5) Beware when using public wi-fi. Avoid accessing sensitive personal data while using it.

(Disclosure: As part of the Digital Joneses campaign I have received software and technology products from Trend Micro. All thoughts are my own.)

Kids LiveWell Program

kids livewell logo

A couple weeks ago I was invited to attend a blogger dinner hosted by the National Restaurant Association. We enjoyed delicious food at Fulton’s On The River while we learned more about the Kids LiveWell program. I had never heard of it before so I was excited to find out more since any program that benefits children is of interest to me.

According to the website, “The National Restaurant Association launched the Kids LiveWell program in collaboration with Healthy Dining to help parents and children select healthful menu options when dining out. Restaurants that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.”

As a parent I really liked this program. It is so hard to find healthy options when dining out and more so than just healthy, they have to taste good or my kids won’t eat them. Over 25,000 restaurant locations across the United States have stepped up and taken the challenge to provide healthy options for kids so that parents can feel good about their choice to eat out. To enroll in the program, restaurants need to follow a number of steps including having side or entree options that meet the specific nutritional guidelines outlined below.

Some of our favorite restaurants are participating including Applebee’s, Chic-fil-A, Chilis, Cracker Barrell, and IHOP. You can view all of the restaurants that are part of the program here. Don’t see your favorite restaurant on the list? Talk to the owner and let them know about this program and how they can participate.

To find out more about the Kids LiveWell program you can visit the National Restaurant Association’s website here. There is also a Kids LiveWell application for iPhone and Android phones that makes finding a participating restaurant easy to do when you are on the go. You can also view a listing of their healthy options before you arrive at the restaurant.

(Disclosure: I was compensated for my time but all thoughts are my own.)

Recalls Plus {The Must Have Smartphone App For Parents}

SheSpeaksbutton

With everything I do in a day, staying up to date with recalls is not one of them. I learn about the largest recalls through social media or parenting websites but I don’t hear about every single product that is recalled. I honestly didn’t realize how big of a mistake this was until I reviewed the Recalls Plus smartphone app.

Information about the application:

Recalls Plus is a newly launched app that helps busy parents to proactively monitor recalls on their kids’ strollers, cribs, toys, formula, and other items for greater safety and peace of mind. Our diverse team consists of parents and others who are focused and passionate about parenting issues — working around the clock to make sure we don’t miss catching a recall on kid’s products or food with undeclared allergens. Recalls Plus is designed and built for busy parents like you so you can focus on the important things in your life.

My thoughts:

I found the application pretty easy to use. I first had to sign up for an account. I could do this by creating an account with Recalls Plus or signing in with my Facebook or Twitter account. Once signed in I had 4 options. I could read news of the newest updates, check my inbox, add stuff, or check my watchlist of items I had added.

Curious as to how many items really get recalled, I checked the “news” section out first. I was shocked to see 14 recalls just last week! The reasons that the items had been recalled were varied and ranged from allergens not being properly marked to choking hazards to a pool slide that had caused a mom’s death {when she was properly using it}. I couldn’t believe how many recalls were due to allergens not being marked properly because that could have been a deadly mistake. If I was a parent of a child who had severe food allergies I would be checking these recalls daily because apparently reading labels is not enough.

The next thing I wanted to do was add items that I had in my home. I really liked that I had the option to choose to add individual items but that there was also a category checklist so I could choose to be notified of any recall in specific categories, such as all strollers, toddler beds, or riding toys. I chose to add “all strollers” and “all riding toys” to my watchlist because I have multiple of each and it saved me time of having to go add each individual one. After that I added some individual items. There was also an easy food allergen recall watch list so that you can add your child’s allergens and be alerted to any recall relating to those allergens.

The only thing I wish was different about this app is that I wish it was easier to find individual items. Some brands I looked for could not be found since it’s a new app and they are still adding brands I’m sure. I also wish that when I entered a brand the app would bring up a list of all items made by that brand. A lot of times I have multiple items from the same brand so it would be easier to find them all at once instead of going through the process over and over again for the same brands. The app has you name the brand, then the category {which was hard because I wasn’t sure what my choices were}, and then the product. You also have the option of adding in how much you purchased it for and when you purchased it. I added some items but then worried that maybe I had added in the product names incorrectly and wondered that if something wasn’t completely correct if I would get the notice or not. I would have preferred to have a list of product names to choose from.

Overall, I think the Recalls Plus application is a must download for parents. It is free and even if you just use it for the “news” section it’s worth it. I will probably use it most to follow the categories of items my children use. As I said before, I would also use it if my children had allergies. With just a few minor changes to finding individual products this application would be made even better than it already is.

(Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but all thoughts are my own.)

New Android Phone Apps For Children With Autism

autism apps

You can download the apps in the Google Play store here. Some are free and some cost 99 cents.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I received this email today and wanted to share this resource.)

ABC’s with Bingzy Bee: Phonics {Free App- 2 Days Only!}

bingzy bee

I’ve been working with Bing Note to help promote their new IPhone/IPod application, ABC’s with Bingzy Bee: Phonics. This application uses a fun ABC song to teach phonics and was developed by an award winning teacher who found success with this method in her classroom. I had to share this with you all this weekend because for today and tomorrow (March 31st and April 1st) this application is FREE! {It’s normally only 99 cents but a penny saved is a penny saved, right?}

I don’t have an IPhone but I have seen great reviews from other bloggers. Here’s what other moms and teachers had to say about the application:

“My students enjoyed this game and were able to play it with ease.” ~Rebecca, The Beauty of it all

“…it’s really a great way to introduce basic phonics skills to your child.” ~Kimberly, 2 Kids and a Coupon

“Overall my son and I really like this app as it is another fun way for him to explore and learn his letters.” ~Alicia, The Mama Report

“This app is a cute & fun app for waiting in the doctor’s office or a way to keep the kids busy for a few minutes.” ~Kristi, Creative Kristi

“….this is what makes it a great app.  She can use it for years to come.” ~Brande, Faith and Family Reviews

“This app is one of Willow’s favorite apps right now.” ~Debi,The Spring Mount 6 Pack

You can find out more about the app on their website here or download ABC’s with Bingzy Bee: Phonics from the app store here.

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for posting this on my personal blog, however, this is a client of Living Your Moment, a company I am co-owner of. Bloggers quoted received compensation for their time. All thoughts are our own and honest opinions.)

Tips For Buying A New Smartphone

T-Mobile's myTouch

Last week I went to a fun blogging event at T-Mobile put on by one of my fabulous tech blogger friends, Kris. T-Mobile shared some Holiday shopping tips with us and I wanted to share them with you because they are good tips for buying a phone from any carrier, not just T-Mobile.

1) Think about what you will use the phone for. Don’t just get a phone because it’s “the best”, get a phone because it fits your lifestyle and your needs.

2) Figure out how much data you will need. The T-Mobile associates shared that most people do not need to purchase the largest data package because they don’t use all that data. T-Mobile has a nifty calculator on their site to check out which package you would need from them.

3) If you make calls outside the country consider getting a prepaid plan to control your costs.

4) Check to see if there is strong coverage at places you will be using the phone the most. This is important. What good is a phone if you can’t use it where you live, work, or spend a majority of your time? I used to get horrible phone service in my own home and would have to sit in a spot that was “just right” to talk on my phone. It was such a pain.

5) Don’t forget the accessories. Sinisa got a Bluetooth headset as an early Christmas gift and he LOVES it!

6) Understand return policies.

T-MOBILE’S APPLICATIONS FOR FAMILIES:

I am not a T-Mobile customer but if I had a child who was old enough for a smartphone I would probably switch because T-Mobile has some awesome safety and control applications that parents can get:

-DriveSmart Plus- Distracted driving is dangerous, especially with new drivers. DriveSmart manages distractions by silencing incoming notifications, sending callers to voicemail and auto responding to incoming text messages. With DriveSmart Plus, you get automatic driving detection, parental controls and notification of cell phone activity while driving, providing additional peace of mind.

-FamilyWhere- If you’ve ever wondered where your kids are, this feature is for you. It allows parents to track the location of any phone on their family plan. You can even schedule  alerts as a reminder to check where your kids are during the day and view up  to 7 days of location history.

-You can also block calls during certain times (like during the school day and after “lights out”) and you can block certain numbers if you don’t want them calling your child.

T-Mobile's myTouch

We got to try out the myTouch phones by T-Mobile at the event. They are pretty cool. I liked that they are so lightweight! My phone feels like a brick compared to this one. {Oh…and I WON one of these in a raffle! yippeee!}

(Disclosure: I attended this event and won a phone but all thoughts are my own.)

Shopping With My Smartphone: UPC Codes vs. QR Codes

qrcodereader

I recently headed to Target to try out two smartphone applications, the Red Laser UPC scanner and the QR code reader. I will admit that normally when I am out shopping with my children the last thing on my mind is scanning bar codes and QR codes. I’m usually just trying to get out of the store without my two year old’s meltdowns or my one year old twisting his way out of his cart’s seat belt (seriously need duct tape to keep that kid in his seat). I decided to try these two applications this time and wanted to share my findings.

Red Laser UPC scanner- To use this application you just press “scan” and then center the product’s bar code in the center of the box and the phone reads the barcode. It then brings up a screen with a list of places the product can be found and the price they are on each website or at each store. Out of the six items I scanned all were in the system. I thought the prices were up to date as I noticed the Uno! Moo game I scanned was on sale for $14 and Red Laser told me that’s how much it was at Target. I liked that the application kept a list of the items I had scanned so if I was comparison shopping or wanted to do more research at home later I could look back at the items I had scanned.

QR Code Reader- The QR Reader reads a two dimensional code that is about the size of a postage stamp. I found this particular application kept freezing up my phone. When I did get the application to open properly I would hold it up to a QR code and it would keep bringing the code into focus, then going out of focus, then coming back into focus repeatedly. I didn’t get it to actually scan anything in store. On a side note, once at home I tried to do two codes off my computer screen and it did work one time. I think that was because I steadied my phone by resting my elbows on my desk. In reality though, when I am at the store I have to just be able to hold my phone up to the code because I wouldn’t be able to completely steady my outreached hand. The “look” of this application and the setup of the lists was not as nice as the Red Laser application.

The Verdict-

While I had never thought using one of these applications was worth my time I could see using them in future shopping trips. Each one had a feature that let me send the product I had scanned or the list of all the products I had scanned to someone. This would be  great when shopping for someone else or when one person goes to buy something and wants to consult their significant other before buying it.

As of right now I would use the UPC code reader over the QR code reader because there just aren’t enough QR codes on products yet. I looked  all over the store for some and only found a few (one on a movie, one on a TV, and one on an outdoor toy). The particular QR Code Reader I used froze my phone repeatedly and would not scan the codes which when I’m in a hurry I won’t want to deal with.

What do you think? Have you ever used a QR Code Scanner or a UPC Code Scanner? Would you use them? Why or why not?

(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts about the applications are my own.)