Using TomTom GO GPS to #GetHomeFaster (Giveaway)

Disclosure: Sponsored post

 

The combination of being a busy mom driving my kids around with visiting clients and going to press events in San Francisco mean that I spend lots of time driving in my car.  When I drive across town with all of the traffic in Silicon Valley it can sometimes take as long as it does to drive to San Francisco (one hour)! With traffic it can be even a much longer commute (2 hours or more). Additional traffic challenges can happen due to holiday traffic, like the rush to head to the beach, parks or vacation areas this weekend for July 4th. The map apps on my phone don’t always work and at times have caused me major traffic issues. When TomTom (innovators in navigation technology) contacted me to about the new TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS, I was excited to not only give it a try but also learn more from their press information.

 

TomTom GO Portable GPS #GetHomeFaster

 

First I set out to learn more about the TomTom GO Portable GPS Device from the press documentation:

 

TomTom GO Portable Vehicle GPS has been redesigned with real time TomTom Traffic, alternate routes pinpoint exactly where delays start and end so you know fastest route, 3D Maps that show building, Speak & Go to control device with your voice, and landmarks and interactive maps that allow you to zoom in and out to explore the map with your fingertips. TomTom has one of the world’s largest databases, covering 99.9% of the roads, with real-time traffic intelligence with the most up-to-date, accurate information on traffic anytime, anywhere so you can truly get to your destination faster. Routes can be planned ahead with the new MyDrive technology to be ready to hit the road as soon as she gets in the car. The TomTom Go is the only navigation device which allows you to start navigating in two taps and has “Jam Ahead” warning for traffic incidents”.

 

 

TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS

Photo Credit: TomTom

 

 

Then I wanted to learn how it works:

 

“TomTom Traffic crowd-sources real time data from over 150 million vehicles and devices in the US. Their process combines community probe data with many other trusted sources to create accurate traffic data.  This data can pinpoint where delays start and end, how long delays will last and how fast traffic is moving.  TomTom chooses the fastest route through traffic because it knows the traffic conditions on all roads. Every pixel of the screen is utilized to provide rich map that distinguishes between primary, secondary and tertiary roads.  Every icon on the map is interactive

 

The TomTom GO 500 has GPS receiver chips that looks for satellites in the air. Once it finds 4 satellites it triangulates the location. The TomTom comes with preloaded maps that has details such as speed limits etc and Route IQ that incorporates historical data.  If you are driving in an area that does not have cellular service, TomTom can still give you directions because it uses satellite information and the downloaded maps that are updated 4 times a year. All of the GO products include lifetime map updates. The downloaded maps, combined with the real time map updates from the TomTom MyDrive app, provide fully accurate traffic information.  The MyDrive app is available on iOS and Android.

 

The press release also shared what’s new and the features of the TomTom Go 500 (or 600):

 

What’s New:

 

  • Lifetime “real-time” TomTom Traffic (Click here to view TomTom’s live traffic portal)
  • 3D Maps
  • Pinch to Zoom Interactive Map
  • Tap & Go to instantly get a route
  • Quick search to find destinations
  • My Places to see your favorite locations on the map
  • Route Bar for essential traffic and travel information
  • Speak & Go to control device with sound of your voice.

 

 

TomTom GO 500 TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS

Photo Credit: TomTom

 

Features:

 

  • 5” (GO 500) or 6” (GO 600) Capacitive Touch Screen
  • Pre-installed with map of US, CAN & MEX
  • Lifetime map updates
  • Free daily map changes from the TomTom map share community
  • Advanced Lane Guidance
  • Spoken Street Names
  • Click & Go Mount
  • IQ Routes
  • Quick GPSfix

 

In the box with either the TomTom GO 500 or 600 is click & go mount, adhesive disk, car charger, USB cable for computer and quick start guide.

 

The screen has a Route Bar on both sides which shows lots of information in one place. The Route Bar shows estimated time of arrival, distance to destination, delay in current route, upcoming speed limits, road work, speed camera alert, traffic on route and speed and distance to next event. The screen also shows parking with “P” icon. When in San Francisco and busy areas, showing parking on the map is essential for finding parking near destinations. There are even notifications about speed limits and when you are going over them.

 

There is a free TomTom GO MyDrive mobile app – connects to smartphone via bluetooth. Note: your smartphone must be compatible, and include a data plan. Extra costs may apply. For more information, visit TomTom.com/Connect.

 

When you first turn on the device it will ask you if you want to set up MyDrive. To do that you plug the TomTom GO it into your computer. MyDrive checks server then downloads maps through Internet to PC and then to device. When you get into your car the first time (before you start driving), just turn on Bluetooth on your smartphone (set to discoverability). Then log into the MyDrive app with the same credentials you use for online.

 

From your computer you can type address on MyDrive and it will send to your device which connects to phone and syncs up to cloud platform. The cloud sync also takes all favorite addresses and backs them up. If you had to reset device you have favorites online.

 

The 500/600 has microphone and voice control (Speak & Go).  You can speak an address (such as “Go Home” and even set your own wakeup word out of the box (Hello Tom Tom, Go home”). Voice commands can also change brightness, settings and wakeup words.

 

The voice prompts provides audio reminders when close to exiting such as “exit in 2 miles, get in right lane”. If you have multiple turns in a row the voice prompt will keep speaking to you “say right” “stay left” – both visually and audio.  Backroads are different – it depends on class on the road.  Another key feature is that you can use your phone and still get voice navigation. If you have a conference call then you won’t need to worry about navigation speaking over the call.

 

TomTom shared information to confirm how much parents drive their kids around: “A 2013 study said that the average mom drives her children around for 1,248 miles per year, or the equivalent of two weeks “.  Saving any time on the road is an important issue!

 

 

***GIVEAWAY****

 

How much time do you spend on the road and what would you do with the time you would have not stuck in traffic? Do you live in the any of the Top Most Congested Areas below? Sadly, I live in the second most congested city area (San Francisco Bay Area)!   Share your thoughts for a chance to win a TomTom GO 500/600. To win, enter below on Rafflecopter. Contest will run from July 1, 3pm PST to July 6, 3pm PST.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOP MOST CONGESTED CITIES

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Francisco
  3. Honolulu
  4. New York
  5. Seattle
  6. San Jose
  7. Miami
  8. Chicago
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Portland, Washington

Check out TomTom on Facebook and TomTom on Twitter.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. Products were supplied for review purposes.

 

 

 

Last Minute Father’s Day Gifts

Lsst Minute Fathers Day Gifts Let’s face it, being a parent leaves little time to think about gifts. Yes, there are some very organized people that plan months in advance to order the perfect Father’s Day gift for their husband/Dad and organize the perfect brunch or dinner.

 

For the rest of us, there are still alternatives that you can DIY, order online or buy quickly to show the Dad in your life all the love he deserves.

 

TAKE A FAMLY PHOTO ON THE FLY: Take a special photo and frame it: There are multiple ways to print photo’s from PCs and mobile phones to home printers. So take out your phone, pocket camera or DSLR and shoot away. Cool Mom Picks posted with some great photo ideas.

 

GO SHOPPING TOGETHER ON FATHER’S DAY!  Most people don’t like to shop at brick & mortar stores, but after brunch or before dinner why not stop by a store to buy that special Dad a Father’s Day gift of his choice.

 

GIVE A COUPON FOR SPECIAL DAD TIME: Give Dad a coupon that says they get to plan a day of doing their favorite things, even if that means playing tennis with the guys..

 

ONLINE GIFT CARDS: There are so many websites that offer e-gift cards, which means a gift is a click away..

 

DONATE IN DAD’S HONOR: My husband has favorite charities so many times we include a donation to his favorite charity on Father’s Day.  Many charities offer ways to donate online – just donate and print the reciept to put in his father’s day card!

 

GET STREAMNG: What Dad does not like to be able to access his content on the go. So gifts such as Netflix if you don’t have it already, Slingbox (TV content on the go) or other streaming services make a great gift! Note: Some Smart TV’s offer Internet access to streaming services while other TV’s need hardware such as Roku, Chromecast or Amazon TV.

 

DIY DADS: A great gift for Dads that love DIY is to have a family trip to the store to pick out the materials for a project on Father’s Day. For example, pick out a few options to build a new wood backyard chair for Dad, print the materials list and put that in the Fathers Day card. My husband loves to visit Home Depot and Lowes, so doing that on Father’s Day to build a project with his family as an activity always makes him happy!

 

GIFT OF NEW TABLET OR E-READER:  Dads on the move also need to consume content so why make them look at their small phone screen all day. Microsoft, Lenovo, Samsung, Apple and other companies make great touchscreen mobile tablets.  To help choose consider their platform of choice. If Dad uses all Apple products, then an iPad may be the best fit. If Dad uses Windows then the Microsoft tablets are a great fit along with the Windows tablets made by PC manufactuers including Lenovo Yoga laptops that convert to tablet form. Android Dads have many tablet options as well including the Samsung tablets.

 

My husband asked for a tablet or E-reader, so I told him that I would research it but he could “pick it out” ON Father’s Day. My husband is looking into Amazon E-readers or tablets because he wants to read outside and also highlight passages while reading.  I told him that he can highlight text using apps or use the funtionality that the tablet offers. iPads for example allow annotations by taping and holding – then select highlight. With the Kindle you select the text and then choose the highlight button.

 

At the same time, I checked my inbox and happen to see a press outreach email summarizing the Amazon E-reader and tablet options which made researching the information much easier! I narrowed it down to the following:

 

— Kindle Voyage $199 with all-new design making it the thinnest device Amazon has ever built. Kindle Voyage uses a brand new Paperwhite display to deliver laser-quality text and images, which even matches the feel of paper, and the new adaptive front light automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on your environment. ”

 

Kindle ($79)” Smart, light and portable, the all-new Kindle is great for anyone who’s new to e-reading, including a 20% faster processor, twice the storage and a touch interface and weeks of battery life. This Kindle also includes enhanced reading features such as instant dictionary look-up, adjustable font sizes, and X-Ray, which lets readers quickly look up character information and more.”

 

Or he may just want the a tablet, so I will also show him the  Fire HDX 8.9 ($379) “…color accuracy for the most life-like screen images and first tablet with Dolby Atmos, creating a new mobile headphone experience with sound that flows around you. Fire HDX is light with an incredible battery life that lasts up to 12 hours.”  Or the Amazon Fire HD 6” and Amazon Fire HD 7 ($99 and $139) ” Each tablet features a quad-core processor, front and rear cameras, Dolby Digital audio and 1M pixel high-definition display for crisp, vivid viewing.

 

What gifts are you getting the “Dads” in your life tomorrow?

 

Sunset Celebration 2015 And Headquarters Update #howisunset

This weekend (June 6 and 7) is one of my favorite community events: Sunset Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, CA. Sunset’s absolutely beautiful seven-acre campus is being transformed into an “interactive showcase for the regions most exiting lifestyle inspiration and freshest flavors“.  Details on the Sunset Celebration can be found on their website including Sunset Celebration Weekend speakers, Sunset Celebration Weekend maps and more.

 

 

Sunset Celebration Weekend 2015

Photo Credit: Sunset Magazine

 

 

This week they invited press to tour Sunset Headquarters to get a preview of the events planned. Some of the exhibits, seminars and experiences include:

 

 

Backyard Cottage and Garden, which is only 400 square feet but has the appeal of a house with a modern design and beautiful drought tolerant gardens.

 

Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend 2015

 

If you are hungry, there are lots of different food trucks including An the Go Asian Fusion, Mayo and Mustard Sandwiches, Bacon Bacon (my sons would love that!),Hula Truck, El Porteno and even Fairytale Brownies (yum…).

 

The Travel stage will have experts to share tips and information the first-ever Sunset Travel Awards as well as exhibits and demos that highlight exploring the “best in the west”.  The travel section is one of my favorite areas because local resorts and destinations set up tables to share information. I enjoy collecting brochures to inspire my next family trip!

 

Camp Sunset will be “gathering the West’s foremost outdoor experts at this first-ever interactive exhibit dedicated to sharing tips to make camping trips tastier, comfier and more fun”.  Top culinary stars will present cooking seminars (including Celebrity Chefs such as Martin Yan, Chris Cosentino and Joanne Weir). There are Wine and Beer Seminars, Wine Competitions and more. At our press tour we had stopped by the fabulous wine cellar where one of the Sunset Wine Editor shared some wine tips. We also heard from another Sunset Editor who shared tips on making cocktails to take with you on camping trips including what gear to use. One example shown was Plastic cups, OXO Stainless-Steel Double-Sided Jigger and a wine tote.

 

Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend 2015

 

 

Families even have their own activities with designated kid zones located throughout the venue. The Dryer’s Kid’s Zone has fun for young kids including rock wall climbing and stiltwalking. The Music stage has live music playing throughout the weekend, Camp Sunset also has a make-your-own trail mix and the paint-a-pot is a hands-on activity for kids to decorate their own terracotta garden pot.

 

 

The Home and Design Stage area includes topics such as decorating, DIY printmaking and remodeling. The Garden and Outdoor Living stage has a Q & A table – so bring your gardening questions and let the experts help you!  Some of the speakers will be Sunset garden gurus Kathleen and Johanna Silver plus experts in drought-tolerant landscaping, edible gardening and garden design.  Two full days of seminars will include how to and practical tips on gardening – especially during the drought..

 

Sunset Celebration Weekend 2015

 

 

Best of all you can tour the amazing Sunset test garden. We had a short tour where I was excited to see examples of low water plants to get ideas for my own garden. California is in the midst of a serious drought so learning about low water plants will help us redesign our lawn to save water. The Sunset website has a whole section on low water plants and a book called “Sunset Western Garden Easy-Care Planting” that offers great resources. During the garden tour when showed examples of how colorful and beautiful low water plants can be (see photo below).

 

 

Sunset Celebration Weekend 2015

 

Our tour guide also showed us a fig plant that has been at the Sunset Headquarters since the 1950’s (and still going strong – see below)! It is just another confirmation on what a green thumb Sunset gardeners have. But on that topic, during the press tour Sunset explained how they test everything they cover in their magazine and try to include a selection of plants for big gardens to plants that can grown in a pot (to save space). Their authentic and helpful approach to gardening, travel and lifestyle is something that inspired me to always have the latest monthly Sunset Magazine, various Sunset books and regularly reading articles on the website.

 

Sunset Celebration Weekend 2015

 

 

 

SUNSET HEADQUARTERS UPDATE

 

Sunset Headquarters is moving to Jack London Square in Oakland in December 2015. Their move feels personal to me because Sunset Magazine’s Headquarters in Menlo Park has been such a wonderful inspiration for those of us living in Silicon Valley.  Just like that favorite neighbor that adds so much beauty, style and inspiration to the neighborhood.. Luckily their new headquarters is not too far of a drive, and well worth it  especially after reading the exciting details from the press release:

 

The New (Sunset) Headquarters will be located at 55 Harrison Street in the same building that will house the Water Street Market, an artisan food marketplace being developed by Carlin Company, the team behind San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace and Napa’s Oxbow Public Market. Sunset will occupy approximately 20,000 square feet on the second floor of a mixed-use building, and its offices will include a test kitchen and a wine cellar.

 

In addition to its new flagship location in Oakland, Sunset will have a continuous presence in California wine country at  Cornerstone, a public garden, event and retail space in Sonoma. Cornerstone and Sunset have formed a strategic partnership that will entail hosting Sunset’s main test garden, an outdoor kitchen and on-site programming“.

 

 

 

Summer Learning: Creative and #STEM Videos On @Curious

With summer around the corner, I already am wondering how I can keep my kids engaged in learning over the next few months. They enjoy learning from videos so I thought, “Why not find some cool videos for them to watch?”  The boys were excited, provided that the videos were interesting and engaging.

 

Curious.com is a website with a mission “to connect the world’s teachers with its lifelong learners”. They have a great selection of video courses in the categories of business, brainy subjects like math, coding, craft, food, health, lifestyle, music, photo and tech.  One of my sons wants to learn how to use Final Cut Pro X to edit videos for school projects and as a hobby. I found the course “Final Cut Pro X Tips for Beginners with Dion Schuddeboom” that can help set him down the learning path.

 

Curious.com videos learning

 

 

My other son wants to learn Photography and Photoshop. The courses called “Photography Basics with Bernie Raffe and Photoshop Tips for Beginners with Michael Gatewood” look like a great fit.

 

Curious.com videos learning

 

Listed below are more examples of creative and STEM videos for summer learning.

 

CREATIVE:

 

Hands-On Beginner Photoshop Projects with Chamira

 

Final Cut Pro X Tips for Beginners with Dion Schuddeboom

 

Photography Basics with Bernie Raffe

 

Photoshop Tips for Beginners with Michael Gatewood

 

Online Video Production 101 with Rick Davis

 

 

STEM:

 

Calculus I Essentials with integralCALC

 

The Ultimate Guide to Modern Physics with Es Einsteinium

 

How to Build a Custom Gaming Computer with Carey Holzman

 

Learn to Code Python Games with LearnToProgram

 

HTML in 1 Hour with 1HourAcademy

 

Evolution and the History of Life with Bleier Biology

 

SAT Math Essentials with TAPAprep

 

 

 

What summer learning activities are your family planning?

 

 

 

STEM Maker Projects With Tinkering Labs

STEM Activities: Tinkering Labs

Photo Credit: Tinkering Lab

 

While on a hunt for weekend maker activities for my 12 year old twins, I found a site called Camperoo which has weekend STEM workshops for kids. The event we went to was run by the team behind Tinkering Labs, which gives children aged 6-13 “affordable access to packaged Tinkering kits called Catalysts. Each Catalyst includes components, materials and tools that enable unlimited projects and discoveries related to principles in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)”. My boys and their friend were technology free and happily “tinkering” away for more then 2 hours. My twins and their friend each made a different design that all had moving parts (which is also why it is important for kids to wear safety glasses) . I was thrilled at the Camperoo workshop and how the Tinkering Catalyst kits keep the kids engaged in a STEM related activity.

 

 

The very first Catalyst that Tinkering Labs designed, prototyped and tested was “Electric Motors.” They have tested that with kids from the Exploratorium, the Boys and Girls’ Club and Stanford Design School to Girl Scout troops and schools around the San Francisco Bay Area. The activities related to using the Catalyst kit also supports teamwork by allowing kids to work together.

 

STEM Activities: Tinkering Labs

Photo credit: Tinkering Labs

 

 

CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN:

One of my goals of Techmamas was to support small businesses that are creating STEM activities for kids, so I asked Tinkerlabs for information on their crowdfunding campaign and story to share. I was also thrilled to see them bring their kids into the business:  a son of one of the founders made a presentation at the Maker Faire on how to encourage young makers. Tinkering Labs launched their crowdfunding campaign in April 2015 “Bring Tinkering into Your Home & School with Tinkering Labs”. Campaign perks include single Catalysts, multi-packs for use in schools and other groups, and donations to Bay Area schools in need and Boys & Girls Clubs. A percentage of all profits will go to the nonprofit Institute for Applied Tinkering.

 

 

STEM Activities: Tinkering Labs

Photo credit: Tinkering Labs

 

 

 

TINKERING LABS STORY:

 

STEM Maker Activities: Tinkering Labs

 

” In the summer of 2005, my friend Gever Tulley held the first Tinkering School camp at his house south of San Francisco.  He said he wanted to find out what would happen if he gave kids a big challenge, real tools, time to think, work and play, and just enough guidance to prevent serious injury. What could they get done? What would they learn? And how would it change the way they see the world and themselves?

 

So I volunteered my son Nik. He was the youngest kid there (6 when he arrived at camp, 7 when he came home). None of us had any idea what would happen.

 

A week later, the answer was stretched across Gever’s property in the form of a functioning roller coaster big enough for an adult to ride on. In the five days it took the kids to build it, they not only experienced a deep sense of accomplishment, but they also picked up some important 21st century life skills. Not just things like how to measure properly and use power tools safely, but skills that will help them face life’s inevitable challenges down the road: teamwork, resilience, creativity and adaptability.

 

Fast forward 10 years, and I’ve now seen the impact of Tinkering on thousands of kids.  As a board member of Gever’s non-profit, I helped him expand Tinkering School into many new programs and new parts of the country.  The Tinkering activities have taken many forms, but they are always centered around open-ended learning that is goal-directed but unscripted.

 

Kids need this. But between the electronic devices that mediate much of their experience, schools that emphasize rule following, and even sports and playtime that are organized by adults, many kids are not getting much practice working, playing, and problem-solving independently in the real world. By activating their hands and their minds, Tinkering helps kids develop the skills, knowledge and grit necessary to become the innovators their generation is going to need.

 

As much as Tinkering School has expanded, it can only reach a fraction of the kids that could benefit from it. So about two years ago I started brainstorming ways to make Tinkering more accessible.  After testing many ideas, I decided the best way would be to develop a series of kits designed to make it easy and affordable to bring real Tinkering to any home or school.
I wanted the kits to have a name that expresses that they are a starting point for kids’ imaginations.  And believe it or not, it was my son Nik, now 16, who came up with the name Catalyst.  So our first kit is called the Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst.  In November 2014 we started testing it with help from our friends at the Exploratorium, Boys & Girls Club, Stanford, and schools around the Bay Area.  And now we’re launching it with a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.  We’ve already got kits going to 33 countries, and we hope they’ll help create the next generation of innovators.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Tinkering Labs Website

Tinkering Labs Crowdfunding Campaign 

TED Talk: Life Lessons Through Tinkering

 

 

 

Summer and Winter Family Fun At Sun Valley Resort, Idaho

Last year on a press trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, I had a chance to experience majestic mountains surrounded by a picturesque valley, plus a full set of fun activities, beautiful resort grounds, delicious restaurants and friendly people.  The press trip was to in preparation for a fabulous conference called “Dent The Future“.   The conference is all about recharging your creative batteries so being in Sun Valley was a great fit because the natural beauty recharged my “personal” battery! Of course I not only decided I wanted to go back, but next time I wanted to bring my family.

 

IN THE SUMMER:

 

Family Activities at Sun Valley Resort

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

Family Activities at Sun Valley Resort

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

 

This summer is an exciting time for Sun Valley Lodge because the resort is just now completing a big renovation with a family focus that opens June 15 (2015) – including a bigger and more family friendly bowling alley, lodge pool with poolside cafe, full service spa, large fitness facility with the “most up to date aerobic and strengthening equipment”, yoga studio and meeting rooms for family events. There are a wonderful selection of restaurants for Foodie Summer Fun.

 

 

Sun Valley Resort Family Activities

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

 

The beautiful surroundings also make for great outdoor summer activities including fishing, mountain biking, golfing, hiking, tennis, running, horseback riding skateboarding or just enjoying the new pool activities at the Sun Valley Lodge.

 

 

 

Sun Valley Resort Family Activities

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

 

For kids who enjoy going to day camps, the Sun Valley Resort Kids Camps has a great selection of activities for summer fun. The Playschool has staff and daily adventures for kids 3 months to 5 years that includes everything from nature walks, gondola rides, picnics at the lake and wagon rides to tennis, golf and ice skating lessons.

 

 

Kids Activities at Sun Valley Resort

Photo Credit: Sun Valley

 

 

For kids 6 – 10, the Adventure camp has river and stream exploration, swimming, hiking and biking, orienteering, bungee trampoline, bowling , swimming, ice skating, golf, tennis and arts & crafts!

 

 

Kids Activities at Sun Valley Resort

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

 

Sun Valley has a  “Things To Do” page with information on all of the local area (Ketchum) activities for each season. Sun Valley family activities range from art and bike festivals, Summer Symphony, paddle boating the local lake to horseback rides at local corrals. Not only were the people at the Sun Valley Resort friendly and welcoming during our trip, but  there was also a great downtown with an inviting community in Ketchum to visit. There is a wide selection of restaurants in Sun Valley including Gretchen’s at Sun Valley Resort, Konditorei, Ketchum Grill and more.

 

Sun Valley Family Activities

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE WINTER:

 

The Sun Valley Resort has some of the most pristine ski areas in the country. The beautiful white slopes and mostly sunny winter weather (a.k.a “Sun Valley”!) make it a great winter destination. The Sun Valley Snow Sports School has group, private and even adaptive lessons.  There are two ski areas, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. We had a brief visit to Dollar Mountain and the snow was perfect for a fun leisurely ski adventure. Best of all there were NO lift lines!

 

Family Activities at Sun Valley

 

Bald Mountain has more advanced runs but both offer one of the top rate skiing adventures. Here are details from the website on Sun Valley Skiing: “Bald Mountain’s consistent pitch, lack of lift lines and variety of terrain have earned it a reputation as one of the world’s finest ski mountains. Thirteen chairlifts and 65 varied runs await skiers and boarders on both sides of Baldy. Adding to the Baldy adventure are themed Adventure Trails for kids, with 30 acres of glade ski and boarding terrain for all. Meanwhile, Dollar Mountain is the perfect place to get introduced to downhill sports and features two new high-speed quads, a tubing hill, a full-featured terrain park with 76 rails and North America’s largest super pipe, and the Wundercarpet, an effortless uphill transporter.”

 

Family Activities at Sun Valley Resort

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

There are also local events and other winter activities in Sun Valley such as Nordic Skiing, Sleigh Rides, Tubing, Ice Skating and more. Just visiting for a brief press trip was hard because I wanted to stay longer and try all of the other winter activities. Best yet, I dreamed of returning with my family to experience the peaceful wilderness adventure while enjoying the top rate lodging and dining of Sun Valley.

 

Family Travel at Sun Valley Resort

Photo Credit: Sun Valley Resort

 

 

 

Disclosure:  Some travel expenses provided for purposes of the press trip.

 

 

 

 

Gift of Healthy Smile: Oral-B PRO SmartSeries 5000 Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth

Disclosure: Sponsored post. 

 

An important area of health that is also one of our biggest family challenges is dental health including making sure everyone in our family is brushing their teeth properly. No matter what I do, my tween boys still need reminders, cajoling and sometimes threats for loss of screen time if they don’t brush their teeth. When they do brush their teeth they only do it for a few seconds instead of for a full 2 minutes.  I am tired when I go to sleep at night and wake up early to get my kids to school. Sadly, I also don’t think I am brushing properly.

 

Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth Connectivity

Photo Credit: Oral-B

 

Oral-B just came out with the Pro SmartSeries 5000 Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity. Combining the Bluetooth 4.0 technology with this sleek electric toothbrush and the enhanced Oral-B App provides real-time guidance while brushing and records brushing activity that we could share with our dental professional. Everyone in our family has fitness trackers to keep our exercise routines on track, so having the combination of the technology and app of the Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries will help create smarter routines to keep brushing on track. Most of all, I could have automated help to make sure I am brushing well with an app that would also allow me to step out of the process of nagging my kids – which is a great gift (hint hint, Mother’s Day)..

 

Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth Connectivity

Photo Credit: Oral-B

 

Here are some of the key features of the Oral-B Pro SmartSeries 5000 Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity :

  • The toothbrush Oscillates, rotates and even pulses with a brush head that is replaceable.
  • The handle is waterproof and has a 2 minute timer (to make sure no one is taking short cuts).
  • There is a charge level display and portable charging station.
  • There toothbrush is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 devices and has an iOs app and an Android app.

 

The Oral-B app can show if we are brushing too hard, long enough and if our habits have improved over time with a weekly and monthly tracker of brushing habits:

  • Brushing “coach” that has a timer, alert if to reduce pressure when brushing too hard and guide to help with brushing.

 

Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth Connectivity

Photo Credit: Oral-B

 

 

  • The summaries show if all of the brushing steps were done (to remind myself and my kids to floss!)

 

Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth Connectivity

Photo Credit: Oral-B

 

 

  • Weekly and monthly tracker to monitor brushing habits.

 

 

Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth Connectivity

Photo Credit: Oral-B

 

 

 

 

The Oral-B Pro SmartSeries 5000 Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity makes a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or just a present to the whole family to help promote a healthy smile. Oral-B is already the toothbrush my dentist gives me after each checkup, so it is a trusted brand for our family.

 

*************************DIGITAL COUPONS *********************************************** 

Listed below: $20-off and $30-off digital coupons, available 5/3-7/4.

CLICK HERE www.orab.com/coupons to see the digital coupons offers posted#oralb

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, all of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Shuddle Rideshare Service For Families (Discount Code!)

Disclosure: Sponsored post. See below for special Shuddle discount code for Techmamas readers!

 

Shuddle

One of the biggest challenges for families is the minute by minute, ever-changing scheduling of driving kids to and from school, after school activities and everything in between. With a mix of minimum days, school holidays, after school activities, homework, sick days, sports and medical appointments, no two days are the same. Assembling a weekly transportation schedule is like putting together one of those 1,000 piece puzzles, and while I’m a master project planner (My Parent Plan), scheduling can be a challenge.

 

I decided several years ago to work out of the home for several reasons, including the flexibility to drive my kids around. Now that my three boys are getting older and I can keep track of their location by calling their phones, I feel the time is right to go back to working outside the home.  As I am planning this transition I realize the biggest challenge is transportation for my tween sons (twins). Several of my friends confirmed that they, too, have the same problem.

 

Shuddle

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

When Shuddle contacted me to work together on a (disclosure) sponsored post, I said, “How did you know that I have been looking into transportation options?”  The fact they contacted me happened to be a coincidence because I had independently planned to try their service. Shuddle is a rideshare service designed specifically to transport busy families with drivers that have caregiver experience. They undergo an extensive verification process (national criminal background checks, motor vehicle records check, employer reference checks,  in-person training and vehicle inspection), plus live monitoring and support for every ride.  I started my transportation hunt by looking into hiring a driver on my own, but the verification process was complicated and some information was hard to find. Shuddle’s verification process is a huge benefit.

 

The steps to start using Shuddle and scheduling a ride are straightforward.  The flexibility of having  until midnight to book a ride for the next day is helpful.  One key requirement is that riders must have a mobile phone in order for drivers to reach them. Even if your kids don’t currently have phones, there are a great selection of budget basic prepaid phones that have the ability to call and text. All of my kids started out with those types of phones anyway. Shuddle currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Burlingame, San Jose, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View).

 

Shuddle Mobile App

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

Shuddle has an iOS and an Android app to enable managing and scheduling rides easily on the go.

 

As much as the transportation features offer great value, I also appreciate the flexible employment opportunities Shuddle is providing to women. Here are some of the interesting facts about  Shuddle:

  • “Shuddle has given thousands of rides and has a community of more than 200 female drivers, 80% of which are mothers themselves.
  • In contrast to other companies garnering praise for having 30% of their workforce composed of women (Lyft), Shuddle’s  community of all women drivers is unprecedented.
  • Shuddle is one of the only companies in which women are at the forefront of the ride sharing economy and is proud to be presenting an economic opportunity for them.
  • To make money with other rideshares, you really need to drive Friday and Saturday nights, and so there are understandably concerns about safety. That isn’t the case with Shuddle and whose value proposition speaks strongly  to women.
  • Shuddle rides can be scheduled by midnight the day before, giving drivers the opportunity to know who they are driving before they get in their car.
  • There are no late-night rides or rides with potentially threatening customers, etc.

 

***********DISCOUNT OFFER TO TECHMAMAS READERS***************************

 

If you would like to try Shuddle, use the code TECHMAMAS to have one free ride up to $20 in value

 

To sign up, CLICK HERE to load either the Shuddle iOS or Android Shuddle app.

 

To learn more about Shuddle (such as passenger requirements, driver screening and the ride experience), visit: http://shuddle.us.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. My words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – Beginning May 22, 2015

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

Starting May 22, 2015  “electrifying” new shows will premiere at Disneyland during a 24-hour party that inaugurates the Diamond Celebration, from 6 a.m. Friday, May 22, until 6 a.m. Saturday, May 23, 2015, local time.  Best of all that is just the start: Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration will have Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes and updated attractions such as “Paint the Night” parade, “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular,  “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” and new entertainment, dining and shopping Experiences at Disneyland.  Along with all the current fun at Disneyland, the new attractions and events will make it even more magical. I received a press release from Disneyland that had so many exciting details, I just had to share it all! Listed below is the press release and pictures to give you just a taste of Disneyland’s sparkling Diamond Celebration.

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

PRESS RELEASE:

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Adds Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes and Dazzling, New Nighttime Spectaculars Beginning May 22: Resort Remains Forever Young with a Glittering Parade,  Street-to-Sky Fireworks Show and a Fun-filled, New ‘World of Color,’ Featuring Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse.

 

 

ANAHEIM, Calif.  (April14, 2015) – The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration begins Friday, May 22, 2015, celebrating 60 years of Disney magic with three new nighttime spectaculars, dazzling decor and an exciting sweepstakes that will award authentic diamonds and one-of-a-kind prizes to some lucky guests.

 

 

Nighttime will glitter as never before with three, sensational shows that expand the 60-year tradition of innovative and immersive storytelling: the brilliant, high-energy “Paint the Night”  Parade   and  “Disneyland Forever”  fireworks spectacular  at  Disneyland Park,  and the all-new“World of Color – Celebrate!  The Wonderful World of Walt Disney”  at Disney California Adventure Park. In “World of Color – Celebrate!,” Mickey Mouse and award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris will tell the story of Walt Disney and the Happiest Place on Earth with film, animation, music and spectacular fountains.

 

 

The electrifying new shows will premiere during a 24-hour party that inaugurates the Diamond Celebration, from 6 a.m. Friday, May 22, until 6 a.m. Saturday, May 23, 2015, local time.*

 

 

Disneyland Diamond Days** – an exciting sweepstakes – will award daily and weekly prizes as part of the Diamond Celebration. Weekly prizes include a one-carat, authentic diamond, custom engraved for Disney, paired with a stay in the Disneyland Dream suite; a clear, crystal Cinderella slipper, with a diamond-and-topaz pendant, and private experiences in the park such as a party in Fantasyland or a romantic cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat. The available prize will vary each week. Daily prizes also will be awarded during the Diamond Celebration, and each daily prize package for that day includes an individualized tour of the parks with dining, preferred access to select attractions, and VIP viewing at some of the dazzling, new nighttime spectaculars.  Daily prize winners must be present on the Disneyland Resort premises at the time of entry and at the time of prize redemption in order to be able to enjoy these special experiences and theme park admission is not necessary to enter or win the sweepstakes.
 

 
In addition, Mickey Mouse and some of his friends will dress up for the celebration in sparkling, new Diamond Celebration costumes, and the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland and Carthay Circle Theatre in Disney California Adventure will glisten with gleaming veneer and diamond medallions. To add to the fun, Disneyland attractions undergoing regular refurbishments – Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Matterhorn Bobsleds – will reopen with new magic added to the classic experiences.

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

 

 

Innovation Inspires Exciting Future

Walt Disney observed that Disneyland will never be complete so long as there is imagination left in the world, and since Opening Day, July 17, 1955, the Disneyland Resort tradition of innovation has continued, inspiring classic theme park attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Soarin’ Over California, Toy Story Midway Mania and Radiator Springs Racers. The Diamond Celebration continues this tradition with three fantastic new shows that expand the boundaries of after-dark entertainment – Disney’s signature “kiss goodnight.”

 

 

 

  • “Paint the Night” parade– When the lights go down in Disneyland, the Diamond Celebration illuminates the park with a brilliant, new parade. The luminescent parade creates a river of color flowing down Main Street, U.S.A., with an array of Disney characters and more than 1.5 million brilliant LED lights that flash and glow as Mickey Mouse uses his vivid imagination to “Paint the Night.”  With dazzling special effects, unforgettable music, energetic performances, fun surprises and spectacular floats, “Paint the Night” is more vibrant than any parade in 60 years at the Disneyland Resort.  Even the choreography glows, as parade performers light up with their props and costumes. Tinker Bell leads the procession in a magical, musical overture, closely followed by a float reminiscent of the giant bass drum that led the “Main Street Electrical Parade.” Lightning McQueen races in with his buddy Mack Truck, who makes a hefty impression at 54-feet long, covered from headlights to tail pipe in gleaming light. Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” glide through the night in a shimmering palace of ice and snow. Guests also will be delighted to see Cinderella, Rapunzel and beloved characters from tales such as “Monsters, Inc.,”  “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Toy Story,” with Mickey and his pals creating a breathtaking grand finale.

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

  • “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular– The dazzling new fireworks show, “Disneyland Forever,” is a street-to-sky, immersive experience like nothing seen before at the Disneyland Resort. Guests will be surrounded by the worlds of timeless Disney tales, from the tips of their toes to the sky high above, thanks to the largest installation of projection mapping technology in a Disney park and surprising special effects. One minute they will be standing on Main Street, U.S.A., and the next they could be stampeding across Simba’s Pride Lands, dancing with King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” traveling “Under the Sea” with the Little Mermaid, flying over London with Peter Pan, dripping in honey with Pooh in a whimsical dream of heffalumps and woozles, or quivering as Queen Elsa brings a glimmering blanket of snow over Disneyland.

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

  • For the first time in Disneyland fireworks history, Nemo from the Disney●Pixar animated film “Finding Nemo,” will “just keep swimming” in the skies above Sleeping Beauty Castle, as the Matterhorn is transformed into the fiery peak of Mt. Wannahockaloogie, a special monument from that film. Two original songs enrich the show: the “Disneyland Forever” theme “Live the Magic,” and the inspiring closing song “Kiss Goodnight,” written by another Disney Legend, Richard M. Sherman, and sung by Ashley Brown, star of the Broadway production of “Mary Poppins.” The “stage” for “Disneyland Forever” fireworks will extend from the sky above to Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world,” the Matterhorn and mist screens along the Rivers of America, offering guests a new experience from each location.

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

  • “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” – Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris will join Mickey Mouse on a magical water canvas to entertain guests in this fun-filled new presentation of the popular, nighttime “World of Color” spectacular in Disney California Adventure. Both epic and intimate in scope, “World of Color – Celebrate!” brings to life the remarkable story of Walt and The Happiest Place on Earth with animated imagery, live-action film, fountains, lasers, special effects and a stirring musical score.  Guests will take an inspirational journey through the unparalleled imagination of Walt Disney, exploring his decades-long legacy of memorable animated moments around the world and the dream of Disneyland Park. “World of Color – Celebrate!” reminds guests that, if they never give up on their dreams, anything is possible.

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

 

Entertainment, Dining and Shopping Experiences Add to the Celebration

Live music has been a key component of the Disneyland Resort experience since the first performance of the Disneyland Band on July 17, 1955. During the Diamond Celebration, guests will be invited to become part of the musical magic, singing, dancing and marching along with resort performers such as the Disneyland Band, Dapper Dans, Red Car News Boys, Straw Hatters and Five & Dime. The after-dark “Mad T Party” will return to Disney California Adventure as a dazzling new “Diamond Mad T Party,” featuring sparkling new decor, interactive fun, dancing and delectable food and drink.

 

 

Restaurants and food carts in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will offer new drinks and cupcakes specially created for the Diamond Celebration. Later this summer, drinks will be available in “Made with Magic” sippers which light up to accompany the new after-dark shows. Additional “Made with Magic” merchandise items – newly designed ear hats, wands and paint brushes –  also will be available for the celebration.

 

 

More than 500 special merchandise items have been created for the Diamond Celebration, including apparel, accessories, art, collectibles, headwear, home décor, jewelry, pins, souvenirs, toys and more. They will be available at shops throughout Disneyland Resort, including Disney Showcase and Main Street Emporium in Disneyland, Elias & Co. in Disney California Adventure, World of Disney in the Downtown Disney District and more.

 

 

Additional information about the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration will be shared in the coming months at www.Disneyland.com and www.DisneyParksBlog.com, and full official rules for Disneyland Diamond Days will be available at www.Disneyland.com/DiamondDays onMay 22, 2015.

 

 

* Hours of operation: 6 a.m. on 5/22/15 to 6 a.m. on 5/23/15, local time, subject to capacity restrictions. Only select attractions, entertainment and services will be available. Valid theme park admission required. Subject to restrictions and change without notice.

 

 

** NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S., D.C., Mexico and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age of majority as of date of entry.  Specific prizes to be awarded in the weekly sweepstakes will be announced online atDisneyland.com/DiamondDays the preceding week.  Sponsor: Disney Memories, 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521, U.S.A.

 

 

About the Disneyland Resort 
The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and the reimagined Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, recently renovated, 975-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” fun. For information on attractions and vacations at Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.

 

 
Note: This is a press update.

 

 

 

On The Go With ZAGG Pocket Bluetooth Keyboard

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. See Giveaway details below.

 

Now that smartphones have features above and beyond making simple voice calls, they have become the top “on the go” device. From productivity, notes, creativity (photo’s, videos), communication, calenders, business documents, music and socializing and more – the smartphone is our own personal assistant that we have with us at all times. While phone touch keyboards are getting more sophisticated, typing is a challenge I could not seem to overcome. I typed short texts easily and quickly, but when it came to typing sentences or longer notes – I could not get my fingers to move fast enough…. Or I made all sorts of typing mistakes.. Or my hand felt cramped and uncomfortable. When ZAGG contacted me to create a video and giveaway about their new Pocket wireless Bluetooth keyboard, I was excited that to find a solution for my on the go typing challenges!

 

The ZAGG Pocket wireless Bluetooth keyboard an “easy, on-the-go solution for smartphone typing.” The keyboard is 85% of the size of a desktop keyboard so typing is more natural and it folds between the lines of keys to preserve comfortable key spacing.

 

Zagg Pocket Keyboard

Photo Credit: ZAGG

 

 

The keyboard folds into a 9” X 2.5” X .5” rectangle, which is a design I have not seen before in mobile keyboards.  Battery life is maintained automatically when you fold the keyboard, activated by magnets when closed. The built in stand holds smartphones and small tablets (around  7″). But I did use it for a regular iPad and it worked fine. The Pocket Keyboard connects via Bluetooth, which means it can connect to Apple, Android or Windows devices.

 

 

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard Side

Photo Credit: ZAGG

 

 

One of the best features is the battery life: the lithium polymer battery lasts up to two years of regular use* (*around one hour per day) between charges. That means I can charge it and then just store it in my purse without needing to recharge it for a long time! The convenience of the ZAGG Pocket keyboard is great for busy professionals – especially busy parents -because it means there is one less thing you need to remember to pack up each day.

 

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard

 

For example, I just recently attended a Women in Growth Marketing event in San Francisco. I barely got dinner on the table, kids situated with homework and the sitter set up for the night when I had to rush out the door to drive to San Francisco (one hour drive from my house). When I arrived and sat down, I panicked at first because I forgot my laptop and wanted to type notes. Then I remembered I had the ZAGG Pocket Keyboard; it was so light I forgot it was in my purse at all. The Pocket Keyboard along with my smartphone was all I needed to take notes during the meeting. Now I have an on the go typing solution that is always with me, so I can take notes whenever I need!

 

Below is a video where I show the ZAGG Pocket keyboard in action:

 

 

Even more exciting is that I have the opportunity to give one ZAGG Pocket Bluetooth keyboard away to one of my lucky readers. Here are the giveaway details (open from April 15 to April 20).  Because the giveaway starts on April 15 – maybe it can even be inspiration to start keeping tax notes on the go for next tax year.
 
*Note: Giveaway is closed. Winner was @SahmReviews
 
 
 
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All my opinions are my own.
 
For more information on the ZAGG Pocket keyboard check out their website, Twitter and Facebook.