KudosWall: A Place To Track Your Student’s Accomplishments

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by KudosWall.

Have you ever wished there was a place to keep track of your student’s accomplishments all in one place? Whether they won a spelling bee, got an award at school, or came in first place at a sports or music competition, children nowadays have a lot to be proud of. KudosWall, created by a student and his father, makes it possible to easily track all your child’s talents, experiences, volunteer hours, and proudest moments.

KudosWall also has an app which is perfect for busy moms because you can track things on the go, while you are thinking about it. With the mobile app, you can upload achievements and photos on the go. Take a picture of your child holding a trophy at their basketball award ceremony? In just a few clicks you can add it to KudosWall and save that memory to your child’s portfolio.

You can also invite family members to view your child’s portfolio so the app becomes a great way for grandmas and grandpas and other family members to stay connected to your child.

Not only does KudosWall let your child celebrate their accomplishments, but they can easily use all of the information to create a resume or portfolio for college, internship or scholarship applications when they are ready to do so. This is such an easy way that parents can help their children prepare for the future. I remember when I had to create my first resume, it took me hours to put together because I had so many wonderful accomplishments to share but struggled to remember them all. Having KudosWall would have made the process so much easier!

I’m going to be creating portfolios for my boys over the next month or so and then I’ll share more about the process and how I’m using the site and app.

How do you track all of your child’s accomplishments?

My Favorite Apps On My Windows 8X Phone By HTC

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.)

Mobile Security With Trend Micro

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.)

Recalls Plus {The Must Have Smartphone App For Parents}

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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

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.)