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What happened when I went #DigitallyDark – sponsored GIVEAWAY

*Disclosure: Sponsored Giveaway*


WINNER: Robyn Wright from! Congrats!


device theft solutionsIn my last blog post, I talked about device theft and smartphone security including the importance of protecting the data on our devices. Because I manage my personal life and business using my smartphone, tablet and laptop, I need to plan for the potential nightmare of my technology being stolen. I simulated this scenario as part of  Absolute Software’s #DigitallyDark challenge. This challenge involved going “dark”, with all devices turned off, for one day last week. Absolute Software solutions enable device location tracking, locking it against unauthorized users and data protection software that permanently erasing files from remote locations. Their two device theft solutions are called Absolute Data Protect and Absolute LoJack.


What happened when I went #DigitallyDark  (yes, shriek of terror) for a day?


1. Contacts: I could not make any calls or access my contacts. Even though my data is backed-up in the cloud, I needed a device to get to the cloud!!


2. Data files: I did not have access to all my personal, professional and family management data files stored on my devices. Also off limits the software I use to run both my business and my family management. If the #DigitallyDark exercise had been a real theft of hardware, I would be forced to re-install some of this software from the disks, which hopefully are in a convenient location in my house.


3. Music Playlists: Even the music playlists that I listen to when relaxing and exercising were not accessible, so chilling out to music was not an option.


4. Security: The personal information on my phone includes passwords to payment software, so a stolen phone or notebook is a big financial risk.


5. Theft reporting: If my devices really were stolen, I would not even know where to start. Where would I report stolen laptop, stolen smartphone or even report a stolen tablet? Who should I call first? I could report it to the local police… and then what?  If I had tracking on my device, should I pass that information to the police and ask them to track down my property?


Using device theft solutions like Absolute Data Protect and Absolute LoJack would give me peace of mind and more of a sense of control because the software can locate the device, lock the device to prevent access of personal information, and permanently erase files in order to protect personal information and prevent identity theft. Absolute LoJack also has the extra features of recovery and guarantee. Absolute’s Investigation Team springs into action building a case and then presenting it to law enforcement (recovery) and provides a Service Guarantee to help pay for a replacement.



Device Theft Absolute LoJackAs part of the #DigitalDark challenge get the opportunity to run a giveawa (6/19 – 6/25) where I will select one winner (at random) who will receive a family pack that includes FIVE -year Premium Absolute LoJack Subscriptions.


Rules: Each entrant can only enter once. To enter:

STEP 1. “Like” Absolute LoJack’s Facebook Page.

STEP 2. Comment on this blog post confirming that you liked the Facebook page and then share your thoughts on device theft.


1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final  7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action. 7. Contest ends June 25 2014 -10pm pst. Winner will be announced by June 27 2014.

NOTE AS OF JUNE 27 – WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN AND CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. But feel free to still share your thoughts on Device Theft!


I also get the opportunity to share an exclusive offer:  30% off a 1-year Absolute LoJack Standard or Premium subscription.  Just enter promo code:  DARK30 at checkout:

**Offer is good until June 30.



*Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway. All of my words are my own.*




Sponsored: CES 2014 Whirlpool Innovations

While at CES 2014, I had the opportunity to learn more about the new Whirlpool innovations. The concepts are exciting because they will not only add more functionality and control over my kitchen but also enable me to be more productive. Listed below is a summary.


Whirlpool Induction CooktopInteractive Cooktop:  One of the most exciting demos was of the Whirlpool interactive cooktop concept which turns a simple surface such as a cooktop into a multi-functional information, cooking and entertainment space.  For example, while I can cook anywhere on the surface I can also browse the internet to pull up a recipe to view on the same surface! While entertaining, I can cook while checking the guest list online.  Combing the functionality of a cooktop with digital connectivity will enable a busy mom like myself to be much more productive in the kitchen.  With three “always hungry” boys I spend lots of time in the kitchen so I need all the help I can get! The Interactive Cooktop concept would also allow me to have less devices in the kitchen but still have access to digital connectivity on capacitive touch surface or hands free when needed.


Here is a Whirlpool video about the Interactive Cooktop:



Whirlpool Wash AppConnected Appliances: Whirlpool also introduced a digitally integrated suite of appliances and smartphone app that would not only give me more control in the kitchen, but also on the go. Because my appliances would be connected via a WiFi network, they can be controlled via a smartphone. This would allow me to do things such as saving energy by using my smartphone to run my washer during the right time of day, even if I am not at home.








Here is a video that explains more about Whirlpool Connected Appliances:




Whirlpool Duet Series PaisleyDesigner Duet Series:  The Whirlpool Designer Duet series goes behind the simple solid colors to allow for personalization such as paisley or chrome bubbles. This type of customization is exciting because it would enable me to bring some stylish touches into my laundry area.  The Duet series also has technology to help whoever is doing the laundry (hint, hint to my older sons who need to start doing their own laundry!).  The Adaptive Wash Technology in the Duet® washer automatically selects the cycle settings for every load and Advanced Moisture Sensing technology in the dryer prevents over-drying clothes by sensing how long the dryer should run (and also saves energy!). I could even use the Whirlpool WashSquad app to assign laundry tasks to my sons!




Here is a Whirlpool video on the Designer Duet series:





Whirlpool CoolVoxThe CoolVox™ sound system refrigerator concept (available Q2 2014) extends the functionality with wireless Harman Kardon Speakers built in that are not distrupted when the doors are closed! This would allow me to listen to music or podcasts from my mp3 player, tablet, smartphone or computer (Note: “Only one device can be paired to CoolVox™ at a time“). I can also use apps such as Pandora, Spotify or my playlists.






Here is the Whirlpool video on CoolVox:



  • Since Whirlpool 20/20 is all about a future focused on you, we, want to hear your ideas for it. Leave a comment below telling us your idea for the future for your home and be entered to win a $1,000 grand prize.


Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

BlogHer will pool entries from participating blogs and select a sweepstakes winner at random and will contact the winner with details about fulfilling the prize.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/2/14 – 1/18/14.


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




Sponsored: CES 2014 Preview – Whirlpool Innovations


Whirlpool Your Future In FocusAs I prepare for CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2014 it has been exciting to see the new innovations ahead that can help my life as a busy mom and working professional. Of course, what is more in the center of managing my family life than the kitchen. I am excited this year to be working with Whirlpool to learn more about Whirlpool’s innovations that will be highlighted at CES.


Whirlpool’s new products, and several still in development, are designed to help the family workflow.  As a mom of three constantly-hungry boys, saving time in the kitchen makes a big impact on my schedule. The overall concept of a connected home and a connected kitchen, where devices use WiFi and the cloud to share and report data, is a key technology enabler to help families in their home and on the go (mobile).


Whirlpool will be back at the MommeyTech Zone showcasing the evolution of the kitchen beyond 2014. Whirlpool’s concept is “simplify your life by designing products that sense and adapt to what you need, the way you want to cook, clean and entertain—the way you want to live”.  I received some press information in advance of CES to provide a sneak peek and here are some of the fun details:


Whirlpool’s concepts concentrates on three pillars:  Connection,  Innovation and Expression.


Whirlpool Apps



Connection: Whirlpool will be introducing “a digitally integrated suite of appliances and smartphone app, that manages the information and activities of your kitchen for you.By connecting your appliances to each other and your family, the kitchen begins to anticipate and understand your family’s needs. And access to the information you need gives you more control than ever in the kitchen”. Whirlpool views our homes in the context of this connected world, designing concepts that anticipate and understand a family’s needs while adapting to your preferences and daily habits. Examples include communicating the best times for energy consumption as well as alerts that help ensure the food is cooked properly and preserved for freshness.  These are all things that as a mom I really want to know about. Having an intelligent appliance will not only save me time but also make me more productive each day.


Whirlpool Induction Cooktop



Innovation: Whirlpool is using technology innovation to evolve the kitchen as a more interactive hub of the house.They are even innovating with kitchen surfaces. Their press release explained these exciting concepts:

  • Cooktops can also browse the internet:“When your cooktop can browse the Internet and connect with your social network, the kitchen becomes a hub of communication and exploration within the home and beyond.”
  • Cook Anywhere Surface: With a cook anywhere surface, serving as the kitchen island, consumers can monitor the weather, manage appointments, find favorite recipes and make a delicious dinner—all without leaving their kitchen island or using multiple devices.
  • Entertain and cook on same surface: Entertaining is revolutionized too when you can plan your dinner party (invite and monitor your guest list, search for recipes, make phone calls, and more) on the same device that cooks the meal. The concept applies technology that consumers are familiar with in their daily lives—hands-free devices and capacitive touch—to help her focus on cooking.



Whirlpool Laundry Room



Expression: The next pillar is Expression which for Whirlpool means customizing  everyday appliances with personal style. Debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 will be the new Duet® Designer Series from Whirlpool®, consisting of front load washers and dryers in a variety of colors.  The technology in the Duet® washer is called ”Adaptive Wash Technology” which automatically selects the perfect cycle settings for every load. The Duet® Dryer has Advanced Moisture Sensing technology that saves time and energy and prevents over-drying your favorite clothes.


Whirlpool Max Art



Also showing at CES will be a concept called MaxArt Microwaves that brings together design, art and appliances to create a functional piece of work representative of culture. Whirlpool® brand collaborated with with the Local art collective Los Contratistas to turn a set of 50 Whirlpool microwaves into a colorful, modular installation representative of Mexican culture using graffiti techniques. The final pieces work together “to create a unique take on the modern day appliance, enriched by culture, design and the arts”.



Whirlpool CoolVox



Expression + Innovation + Connection: The new CoolVox™ sound system refrigerator concept, enabled by Bluetooth® wireless technology and Harman Kardon Speakers, will allow users to play music/podcasts through the refrigerator directly from streaming through Bluetooth®-enabled devices (i.e. mp3 player, tablet, computer). This opens up new entertainment options in the kitchen including the ability to cook to music without any additional wires, cords or speakers.  Music can be played through iTunes account, a playlist on a Bluetooth®-enabled computer and Pandora/Spotify apps on device. The device (i.e.  iPhone, tablet) acts as a remote to do things such as change the volume.  Another option is listening to “How to Cook” podcasts directly through the refrigerator. I like the concept of adding more features to my kitchen devices! Note: Only one device can be paired to CoolVox™ at a time and the current iteration of CoolVox™ does not allow for speaker phone capabilities.



Whirlpool Fridge


Here is the link to find out more information about Whirlpool 20/20 at CES.


Throughout the week of CES, consumers will have the chance to win a custom laundry pair of their own with the You Be The Designer Sweepstakes!   

Also, since Whirlpool 20/20 is all about a future focused on you, they want to give readers of this post a chance to win a $1,000 grand prize. Leave a comment below, tell us your idea for the future for your home and you could win.


Sweepstakes Rules:


No duplicate comments.


You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.


This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.


BlogHer will pool entries from participating blogs and select a sweepstakes winner at random and will contact the winner with details about fulfilling the prize.


The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/2/14 – 1/18/14.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.







GoDaddy ReBrand And New Hosting Services


Years ago when I started my business ( I bought my web address (domain) from GoDaddy. Throughout the years I received great support for my domain, including numerous calls to their support line when I had to make changes. Because my business was online, my URL was an important part of my brand. It was a way for people to not only find my website, but it was a home for my writing, speaking, professional work and connecting with my community. Many small business owners are always looking for advice on how to create a website. When I was contacted by BlogHer about participating in GoDaddy’s campaign to share information about their redefined mission, I was interested to learn more. Listed below are some of the key details shared to me about the new GoDaddy mission which is centered on helping small businesses:


  •  GoDaddy views those working to make their business dreams a reality as GoGetters. They want to help GoGetter’s leverage the power of the internet.
  • They redesigned, reshaped and streamlined their user experience and their products are now geared towards helping small businesses.
  • Their new launch comes after months of research and extensive customer segmentation analysis. They brought in technology talent and senior leaders from companies such as Microsoft, Google, Intuit, Yahoo! & eBay.
  • The women presented on the GoDaddy site will be inspirational to represent small business owners. For example, their brochure at BlogHer showed a small business woman who hosts her site Recipe For Fitness with GoDaddy.




On their website, GoDaddy has a small business section with links such as: Choosing the right website address, setting up an professional email address, pros and cons to building your own website versus hiring a professional, website planning worksheet, 10 must haves for designing your website, how to get more visitors, SEO, how to secure your website, how to promote your business on a small budget and more.


Many small businesses that have blogs use a platform called WordPress. GoDaddy offers (shared) WordPress Web Hosting including offering performance features such as spreading traffic across multiple servers (when traffic spikes), security and support to fine tune your blog to help it run smoothly. I was surprised to learn not only about their WordPress hosting but also their economical pricing, that currently has unlimited space, bandwidth and email accounts for under $10.00 per month. GoDaddy also created a WordPress plugin called P3 Profiler that helps to improve load time.


So what do you think about GoDaddy’s new marketing and product focus? Click here to let them know if they are on the right track.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All the words are my own.





Sharing Family Memories with Microsoft SkyDrive and Skype

Time goes by so fast, and as a Mom and the family historian I want to make sure I am keeping track and sharing family memories. The first step in this effort was learning to copy all digital pictures from numerous cameras to my PC in a timely manner. Next was the challenge of sharing photos and movies with family and friends. A big time-saver in this content management exercise, with multiple devices taking pictures and offering quick connection with cell or WiFi access, is to send pictures directly to the cloud. I store my digital photos and documents all in one place in the cloud using SkyDrive, which allows me to send a link to these great memories if I want to share. I not only have SkyDrive on my PC, but also have the SkyDrive app on my phone to enable photo loading to the cloud no matter where I am!


Check out my video where I shared my trip to Montana with Grandmom using Skype and SkyDrive.






Skype compliments SkyDrive in family archiving. Video calls with family and friends are just a click away, and if I want to give them a peek at the kids’ homework, art work or class projects, Skype easily allows screen sharing.



Both sets of Grandparents know that the only way they will be able to keep up on what is going on in our busy lives is with regular Skype chats while viewing our family SkyDrive digital photo albums at the same time. Our Office 365 Home Premium subscription also makes it more economical for our family to chat with friends and family all over the world because it comes with 60 Skype minutes each month.


How do you share your pictures with friends and family?


Managing Family Projects with Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium


With a background in project management I can say with experience that managing a family is the most challenging project I have ever taken on. Like me, other working parents I know don’t have the time to sit at a home office desk and calmly get things done. Kids are constantly on the move and have obligations both near and far. To be fully productive as a mom, I need to sneak in work time while my kids are at school, attending after school events or with a sitter. Every small pocket of time during the day is valuable. Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium and Outlook are the key tools I use to manage my family project plan, giving me the flexibility to be productive no matter where I am. I use but since Outlook is included in Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium, it is a seamless and unified solution!

Check out the video that shows how I use the back seat of my minivan as one of my key productive spaces:

Where is your favorite place outside of the house to work on family tasks?



Other tips to have the perfect mobile office:


  • SkyDrive and WiFi: Because I store my documents on SkyDrive, I know that I can access them wherever I am working, minivan included. To make sure I have WiFi on the go, I have a mobile broadband device with a month to month mobile WiFi plan. SkyDrive always maintains the latest version of my documents in the cloud, so I don’t need to worry about version control.


  • SkyDrive Organization: I organize my documents with folders on SkyDrive. One of my folders is for homework including my kids’ math Excel spreadsheets, book report Word documents and history project PowerPoint presentations. Other folders have our family photos. The household management folder includes OneNote shopping lists, Word chore charts and household Excel spreadsheets to keep track of everything from home inventory to birthday party lists. In my writing folder I manage the Word files for my tech articles. Storing tech articles in Word using Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium and SkyDrive allows me to edit at home or on the go, and easily share a link to the document with my editors for document review. My public SkyDrive folder has pictures for my travel blogs that I share with my editor and in my blog posts.



  • Set up a digital family calendar system: Our family uses Outlook to help keep track of our events. I individually color code activities on our Outlook calendar for each of our children (and for us – their parents. My color is purple!). I not only include appointments and events on the calendar, I also include reminders. One great example is summer camp signups. Some popular camps fill up within 2 hours of when online sign ups begin. To stay on top of this crazy schedule, I add “sign up for summer camp” as a calendar item, timed for 30 minutes before online signups start (so I can get ready). Using Windows 8 and Office 365 Home Premium means that I will have all the current documents needed for the signup with me wherever I might be. I even put a reminder in to schedule time with friends, vacations and sneak in a date night with my husband. When I want to make sure family members have the dates on their calendar, I set up the event and invite them to it. Outlook also allows me to keep up with my friends by displaying their social updates next to their email. Emails can be organized by categories or in folders with specific rules.



  • Set up a mobile device cabinet or space: To make sure all the chargers and accessories stay organized and untangled, ready for their next adventure, each one has its own storage bag. For laptops and tablets, I buy a case that has enough room to put the chargers and accessories. I also put each charger and tech accessory in its own labeled storage bags. A Ziploc bag or pencil case will do but there is also a wide selection of storage bags available at office supply or storage stores. Yes, it may sound excessive, but it is a huge time saver and helps me keep things organized. Even when charging the device, the case is always close by. This simple process has greatly reduced time spent looking for lost accessories both at home and on the road.



How do you keep your digital files organized?




Creating Chore Lists Using Office 365 Home Premium


Our busy family of five keeps organized as long as our schedule is managed and under control. A messy schedule results in a messy family life. I use technology to create a workflow and make sure everyone understands their responsibilities. Listed below are some of my tips on how to use technology to create a family workflow. To see my family using our family chore tech in action, check out this video:





1. Create a digital chore list: Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel from Office 365 Home Premium are two of my favorite tech tools for keeping the family on the straight and narrow. Staying on top of things is much easier when the family is organized and everyone knows their responsibilities. Using the Office 365 Home Premium child’s chore chart template, I can individually color everyone’s duties.



Office 365 Chore list Template



We put homework on the chore list because it was a central way to keep track of daily duties. They can then either use the mouse or the stylus on our touch screen Windows 8 devices to check chores off when complete so my husband and I know what has been completed and who needs a reminder. Because I store the chore list on SkyDrive, we can access it on any device (no need to print a chore list anymore – that always seems to get lost!). I use the Excel To-do lists to help me manage family projects.



Microsoft Excel Office 365 Home Premium To do list



There are so many great Office 365 Home Premium templates to choose from, I am always finding new ones to use to help organize my family life. I also store my Excel To-do lists on SkyDrive so I can access them across my devices, and update them wherever I am!



2. Tie completing chores to screen time or other activities: Some kids get their allowance for completing chores, but in our house we decided instead to use incentives. Our kids value screen time and other special activities, so we set up a system that allows them to earn time with electronics by doing chores. One of my kids enjoys Minecraft, so he knows to do his daily chore first and then check it off on the To-do list before he can play his game. My other young son likes to go to the Radio Shack hobby section and buy electrical supplies for experiments. He earns money to buy his supplies only after checking off his chores on the list.



Incentives for Chores



My teen, on the other hand, likes to choose his screen time depending on how he feels that day and how much homework he may have – so he knows to check off his chores before he socializes online or plays games on the family PC.



3. Add music to liven up the chores: Doing chores seemed to be a strain for my kids… until we suggested they listen to music while doing their work. All three kids lightened up and started dancing to the music while working. My teen can rock out to his favorite group, Green Day, while cleaning the dishes and one of my hip hop obsessed twin 10 year-old boys can listen to hip hop while he “hops” around mopping the floor after dinner. My other twin son prefers to vacuum, so he decided to listen to music on his MP3 player using earphones. We use a few different platforms to manage our family’s music from our Windows 8 PC. My favorite Windows 8 music apps are:

  • Slacker Radio: While I prefer my kids listen to the Slacker Radio Classical Music light station, they prefer classic “rock” instead. We all enjoy listening to the Slacker Radio festival channel. So even though we can’t go to festival like SXSW Music, that does not mean we can’t feel like we’re right there just by listening to the music on our PC!
  • iHeart Radio: If we feel like listening to the radio, we use the iHeart Radio app to listen to our favorite local stations.
  • Xbox Music: We enjoy Xbox music to stream songs on our Windows devices.
  • Shazam – We installed the Shazam app on our Windows devices to help identify the names of songs we don’t recognize.



How do you manage your family chore list and what incentives do you use?




Top Tools To Keep Kid’s Homework on Track



Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium at 1

With my busy life as a working mom, I am always on the move. This requires my technology to be flexible, fit my lifestyle and be available for the kids especially when it’s homework time. Finding the right technology tools can help my family have more productive days. Using Office 365 Home Premium is not only a game changer for families, but it is a great way to keep my kid’s homework on the right track.



Listed below are my homework tech tips and video of my family in action ( click below to view the video).





Tip 1 – Homework storage and document management: The first step for homework management in my house was to create a storage and document management system. It’s important that I can access and review my kid’s homework from anywhere, and now I can do this with Office 365 Home Premium, as it is now integrated with SkyDrive – Microsoft’s storage in the cloud.



Microsoft Office 365 Skydrive



Once we store our Microsoft Word, OneNote, PowerPoint or Excel documents on SkyDrive, my family can even view and edit them using Office Web Apps from a browser! How cool is that?





Office 365 Home Premium web apps enable classmates (or anyone we want to share documents with) to edit or view group assignments by using the links we send them.



Microsoft Office 365 Skydrive



If we happen to be out of the house using a PC that has Windows 7 or higher, logging into our Microsoft account will allow us to stream a version of Office 365 Home Premium to that PC for a one time use.



Tip 2 – Organize Homework Tools: I set up a system to help my kids have the right tools for homework and know where to store digital documents. We have homework supplies such as paper, pencils, paper clips, stapler, rulers and pens in a desk drawer of our family room desk (where our shared family Windows 8 desktop is located). With Office 365 Home Premium, our family has all the most current Office tools (Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and more) and all their work is stored on SkyDrive in organized folders. They use OneNote for gathering information, Word to create their essays, PowerPoint to create presentations and Excel for spreadsheets in math class. Our kids use OneNote, to create “homework” notebooks that allow them to write and edit using touch, type or stylus.



Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium OneNote



For some math work, a good old fashioned pencil and ruler is good enough. But when my kids work on equations, they enjoy using OneNote’s equation editor on our Windows 8 touch desktop, allowing them to use a stylus to write the equation and then have it converted to type.



Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium OneNote



They also use OneNote tools to record audio and video.



Microsoft Office 365 OneNote Home Premium



My kids’ OneNote notebooks are also the place they can gather information about their projects, including links to web pages, inserted photos and even embedded Excel spreadsheets that update the original spreadsheet when changes are made. Word allows my kids to insert online pictures to their essays and the resume reading feature allows me to utilize small pockets of time during the day to review their book reports, and resume each time at the same place I left off. There are also great templates for my kids to use when creating their book reports.





With PowerPoint my kids can give their presentations with the advantage of using Presenter mode.



Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium Powerpoint



With Excel, kids can use formulas, charts and tables to represent math equations and percentages. Using those tools to represent math assignments helps them understand the concepts. And it looks great when turned into the teacher!





3. Set Up Ways to Move and Work – to Help Keep Kids Focused: Some kids need movement to focus and get work done. One of my boys responds very well to homework breaks where he is really exercising his muscles and alternates between jogs around the house and bouncing on a mini-trampoline in the back yard. Then, quite by accident, I discovered that he finishes his work more quickly if he sits (ok… bounces) on my big, inflated yoga ball when attacking his math and writing assignments. He now looks to that yoga ball as his favorite chair, and is able to focus on his homework for longer periods of time because he moves when needed. He even learned to type while bouncing! My next purchase may need to be a balance ball chair. For longer sessions requiring significant writing or typing we ask him to use a regular chair. When sitting, he is usually squeezing a small hand therapy ball for some stationary “hand exercise”. At least that keeps him seated!





4. Teach Your Kids How to Get homework done From Anywhere. With all of our afterschool activities (and especially during Spring Little League), we can’t seem to find a regular time during the week to sit down and do homework together. It is especially challenging when I am at work or a meeting late in the day for my sitter to spread out his time between all of my kids. Luckily our documents are on SkyDrive (in the cloud), so I can help my kids with homework (and “remind” them about their assignments) even if I am not at home. When they have questions on their homework and provide me with a file name, I can take a look and help. Even though they may not especially like that I can always see the latest version of their homework files, they DO appreciate that we can edit together so their assignments get done. After my kids saw how I use Office 365 Home Premium to get assignments done no matter where I am, they started asking to do that as well. My older son figured out that while my twins are playing a baseball game during a school night, he can be there to watch but also work on school projects using one of our Windows 8 devices. Learning to get work done by utilizing available segments during the day is an important skill not only for my kids’ homework but also for their future careers. This also enables our family to check off our list of work each day, so that we can have quality time at night before bed, just talking – no tech in sight.




CES 2013: 5 Tech Trends That Will Simply & Automate Busy Life of Any Mom

Attending this year’s 2013 CES helped me conclude that there is hope for my house and my exercise routine to become even more efficient and enjoyable. In the past, companies would showcase their products with a general message of “here’s this new high tech thingy”. This year the messages focused more on value, communicating “here is how you can simplify your life by using this new technology”.  I have been waiting to hear the word simplify for years. If new tech adds any additional steps to my daily routine, then it does not fit into my busy life as a mom. But if it helps streamline and automate any of the processes I do each day – then that is technology I will embrace in a heartbeat. I will be covering my picks for CES 2013 top trends over the next few weeks. Here are some of the top tech trends from CES that will simplify (and automate) the life of any mom.



1. Mobile Health Tech:   Fitbit, Fitbug, iBitz and Withings (to name a few) offer activity, sleep, medical and weight management information automation as well as environmental feedback (i.e. The Withings scale also measures indoor air quality). Utilizing mobile health tech will help me get the information I need for weight and health management from mobile devices so I can just incorporate it into my day.





2. Home Monitoring (from your smartphone!): Dropcam is a HD Wi-Fi monitoring video camera that not only remotely captures and monitors activities in a whole room, but also can send alerts for movement or loud noises.




3. Mobile Home Lighting Control:  The Belkin WeMo line has a new internet connected  Light Switch that remotely controls household lighting from the internet via a WiFi router and an iOS device (v5 or higher). Android 4.0 device (or higher) compatibility will be enabled “shortly after launch”.






4. Streamlined and Connected Kitchen:  Smart Appliances were a top trend at CES 2013. At the Whirlpool booth I saw kitchen concepts that could help me automate some of my key daily challenges. Fresh Connect from Whirlpool would allow me to reorganize the way I store and shop for food by grouping foods that need to be stored in similar temperatures together and automating my shopping with mobile apps and home delivery to my front door.



Whirlpool Appliances with 6th Sense Live will allow me to manage my appliances remotely (such as a refrigerator’s temperature or when a wash cycle is done) and because it would be connected to the Smart Grid I could save energy costs by tracking my usage and remotely running wash cycles at “off peak” times.


Two concepts adding new functions to appliances would be the Whirlpool Cool Vox that streams music or podcasts through the refrigerator directly from a Bluetooth-enabled device and The Fireplace concept that could turn the family kitchen table into a social “Fireplace” that also warms food or keeps it cool.



Whirlpool CoolVox small

Whirlpool Fireplace Concept small



5. Home Information AutomationAbout One is an online tool/app that utilizes the existing calender and contacts to not only organize household information (inventory management, school info, medical info etc) but also offers “ reporting, alerts and private sharing”. New announcements at CES 2013 include partnerships with Swagbucks for gamification real world rewards and Working Mother  to “gather product feedback from Working Mother readers, who will then be alerted when their requested product updates have been implemented”.




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




CES2013: Whirlpool Kitchen of the Future Concepts

On my last post I discussed how our family kitchen is the activity hub of our house. So of course one of the top tech categories I planned to look into at CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Show) was new kitchen concepts. Now that I am here are CES, I was excited to find some fantastic new kitchen concepts that will not only simplify, add more style, save energy, add new options to listen to music but also change the process of buying and storing food in the home.


While at the Whirlpool CES Booth, I had the opportunity to learn about exciting new concepts. The first is something I would call “Fireplace 2.0! The Whirlpool website explained that “The Fireplace concept which seeks to center people around a new central heart of the home with a common area for relaxing and sharing real experiences around food and fire“. I find this concept the most fascinating of all because it takes the experience of socializing around a fireplace or campfire to the kitchen table. The surface could keep food warm or cold, as well as an air circulation system in the hood. Because the kitchen table is the one place many families gather each day, adding new features to it adds value to home design and enhances family time. The new technology would also enable new social eating experiences, such as fondue to smores, right from your kitchen table.


Here is a picture of the Whirlpool “Fireplace” Concept.



Kimberley Clayton Blaine  (TheGoToMom) and I could already see how the fun it would be to socialize around the Fireplace concept table.




I had the opportunity to join in Fireside chats in the Fireplace concept area of the Whirlpool booth with other social media moms and Tanu Grewal, Senior Brand Manager from Whirlpool. We were all so comfortable, we did not want to leave even after the chat was over!




When I saw the Fresh Connect from Whirlpool section of the CES2013 Whirlpool booth, I realized it could not only help families keep food fresher but also change food storage as a whole. What if you could have separate units to store food, each paired with other food that requires the same temperatures (no more frozen lettuce)? We can already order food from our mobile devices, but what if we had a system at home that let us order food that would be delivered in bags that would keep it fresh until we got home? The Fresh Connect concept would help create “a seamless shopping experience from the palm of your hand to the foot of your door.. and streamlined access to a select network of food suppliers“.


Here is picture of the Whirlpool Fresh Connect concept flow:



Food is not only organized by the temperature needs, but also in a modern style that could take food storage out of the kitchen into any room in the house. My sons would love to have food storage of their snacks in the family room!


This concept could also create spaces to grow herbs from inside the house. This would enable us to finally grow herbs without the little critters that live outside from eating it!



Containers would store fruit in a temperature that would let it ripen but keep it fresh. This concept would enable me to buy more fruit without worrying about it going bad (and my boys eat lots of fruit!).




Apps could be used from any mobile device to order and manage the food in your house. This would enable a process for me to schedule food delivery and plan meals.





Another concept that enables families to manage their home from anywhere is the Whirlpool® Appliances with 6th Sense Live™ technology. Families can manage things such as “refrigerator temperature, locking your dishwasher control console, knowing when your cycle is done and managing energy costs“. When my kids leave the refrigerator door open (like they do daily), I will get an alert even if I am not at home. This would enable a future where I don’t have to worry about coming into my kitchen and noticing that the freezer door is open and ice cream is now in liquid form!  And  I would be able to save energy costs by using the mobile app to run the appliances during off peak times even if I was not at home. The Whirlpool CES press info explained “by connecting to the Smart Grid used by select utility companies, these appliances optimize energy usage and track how much energy is being used.”






Anyone looking to create add beautiful art and modern, streamlined style to their kitchen will want to take a look at the Whirlpool Art Gallery Collection (stove) Hoods. There is a selection of 12 hood panels with original graphics themes that are easy to install. I especially appreciate incorporating art into appliances because I have a small kitchen.




My favorite design:




Another new concept that helps streamline kitchens by adding new features to appliances is the CoolVox refrigerator concept. Now, families can stream music or podcasts through the refrigerator directly from a Bluetooth-enabled device, so this means I could even listen to recipe podcasts while cooking.  Or my 10 year old son who loves to cook can rock out to his favorite tunes. When we are entertaining and everyone ends up in the kitchen as usual, at least we can play some music to enhance the event.




What do you see in the kitchen of the future? I see new features and appliances that will help me save time, simplify household processes and have more flexibility around how I manage my home. I can also see a future where mufti-function appliances allow me to save space,  add style to my kitchen and create new social environments to enjoy my family time.


Learn more about Whirlpool #2020 at their Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook  and Pinterest pages.



Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. My words are my own.