Letting Kids Be Kids

by Katie on April 20, 2016

12771585_10153824797656826_3443625610929779849_oMy kids very rarely ask me to play with them.

Probably because most of the time I tell them no.

Sure, I play board games and read books and can occasionally be found coloring alongside them but that is about all they get out of me when it comes to playing.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t?

My mom didn’t play with me and I’m guessing most of your moms didn’t play with you either.  Somewhere along the line things changed and the idea that a parent is suppose to spend every waking hour catering and entertaining their kids came to be. I just can’t get behind that.  I want to raise boys who grow into independent, thoughtful, and creative men and for me that means not hovering around, letting them take some risks and giving them the tools so they can make their own fun.

IMG_2799I want them to play on the playground while I read a book on the bench…not because I don’t care but because falling and scratches and bruises are part of being a kid.  I want them to learn how to ride their bike in the street so they know how to look for cars. I want to let them run around the block…while I nervously wait for them to get back.  I want to listen to their chatter out in the backyard while I make supper. I want to be OK with my kitchen being a mess if that means they made their own trail mix.  I want to step over piles of Legos while I fold laundry. I want to hear all about the chapter book my oldest read before bed.  I want to hang the picture on the fridge that my youngest drew while I talked to a friend on the phone.

My boys know they are loved and are always safe with me. They know that taking them on adventures and special dates is my love language.  They know they will always see me on the sidelines of their soccer games cheering them on. They know that Fridays after school means a trip to the gas station for a special treat. They know that I will always say yes to a trip to the movie theater and butter on the popcorn. They know that I will probably never say no if they ask to sleep on our bedroom floor.

They also know that I’m there if they ever need anything …just as long as it does not involve Legos.

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National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

by Katie on April 19, 2016

As always let U.S. Cellular make it easier by using the Parent/Child Cell Phone Agreement to set some ground rules for cell phone and device usage.

I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. I received an Apple iPhone6S and am being compensated for my time.

IMG_2328I take my phone with me pretty much everywhere. I use it to talk to my husband throughout the day, text with friends, check my email, see what is new on Facebook, and listen to music. I always have my phone with me in the car and usually have it in my cup holder right next to me. It is distracting.  I have been really trying to make an effort to not touch my phone at all while I’m driving. I have two little boys who watch my every move and I want them to know that using your phone while driving is simply not an option.  U.S. Cellular is providing us with some helpful tips to help with distracting driving.

 

 

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and it’s safe to say distracted driving has become a relevant issue over the last few years deserving attention and education. With drivers both young and old on the streets, staying attentive on the road and surroundings is more important than ever. Smartphone devices, such the Apple iPhone 6s can be paired with wireless accessories to increase safety and maintain productivity on the road.

Distracted driving is not limited to using a mobile device, but also includes eating, drinking, grooming and talking to passengers. In 2013, there were 3,154 deaths in relation to distracted driving. According to a U.S. Cellular survey, 43 percent of smartphone owners use their device while driving. However, the same survey revealed 34 percent of smartphone users get annoyed at others for using their smartphones while driving.

 

 

Here are some tips and accessories that can help stop smartphone users from getting distracted:

 

  • Take away distractions. It is easy to be distracted by the phone buzzing in the console. If the noise is too disruptive, switch to the Do Not Disturb mode on the iPhone 6s during drive time. Friends and family will understand the commitment to limit distractions.
  • Prepare yourself beforehand: Enter the address into the GPS on a smartphone before hitting the road. Make sure to place your mobile device in a spot where directional prompting can be heard to prevent missing a turn.
  • Utilize accessories: With accessories such as the Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset, carrying on a conversation during a commute is easy, convenient and safe. According to the same U.S. Cellular survey, 74 percent of those who use their phone while driving utilize a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth headset or in-car Bluetooth system.
  • Enlist the help of passengers if it can’t wait: Remember, distracted driving not only affects you, but also impacts the safety of others. Passengers can help you if a message or phone call absolutely can’t wait. If driving alone, consider pulling off the road briefly to use a device.
  • Make a family commitment: Make the commitment to not text and drive. With the popularity of texting, it is no surprise that 87 percent of smartphone owners text daily. U.S. Cellular’s Parent-Child agreement allows families to create a customizable contract with family members to make the conversation easier and clearer. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, even when it comes to bringing smartphones into the car.

 

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As always let U.S. Cellular make it easier by using the Parent/Child Cell Phone Agreement to set some ground rules for cell phone and device usage.

I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. I received an Apple iPhone6S and am being compensated for my time.

IMG_2799Passwords. Seriously, passwords cause me so much trouble and lost time because I can NEVER remember what my different passwords are! Passwords are a very important way to protect your privacy and security. I want to make sure my family is well protected so these tips about passwords from U.S. Cellular could not come at a better time!

If you have bad password habits, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone! According to a Harris Interactive survey, more than half of Americans realize they need to change their password habits. Among the password habits that need attention are reusing passwords and creating weak passwords, such as your dog’s name, 12345 or password123.
When it comes to protecting valuable information, those passwords share common patterns, creating vulnerability across the various accounts we all use every day, ranging from the ones that need to be most secure, like bank and credit cards, to social media sites or free subscriptions. If one account gets hacked, all accounts sharing the same password and email are at much greater risk.

How apps can help manage and improve passwords
• With many accounts prompting and requiring stronger passwords, including a combination of letters, capitalization, numbers and characters, password management apps can really help.
• Many that enhance and simplify the user’s life share similar features, such as auto-creation of complex passwords, auto-fill of forms and encryption of information for safety.
• That’s helpful considering a recent Harris Interactive survey that indicates 59 percent of adults admit to reusing passwords due to the difficulty remembering them.
• The complex passwords created can be easily stored and used, and often shared across platforms, including home computers, work computers and smart devices, like the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy Edge and iPads.

Password Management Apps
Keeper: As the number one most downloaded password management app, Keeper provides users with the ability to manage passwords across various accounts. Keeper’s free version provides local password storage and use on one device. A $29.99 per year subscription is required to access many of its quality features. Those include unlimited password storage, secure online storage for photos, videos and documents, and access across multiple devices, along with the ability to share the information with other users. Those with a subscription can also set up fingerprint login for quick and secure access to their account.
Dashlane: Dashlane is another great option. It’s, rated among the top password manager apps and is listed as Editor’s Pick in the Google Play Store. In addition to creating complex passwords for accounts, Dashlane acts as a digital wallet to make secure on-the-go payments and provides security breach alerts for usernames and passwords. Offered for $39.99 per year, the premium subscription allows syncing across devices, securing Cloud backup and accessing information via the web.
LastPass: This trusted app provides users with a secure vault and organization of accounts for user preference. Its features also allow for easy transitions between accounts on the same site. Like many other password management apps, LastPass can also keep track of credit card information, audit account passwords, record secure audio notes and more. Premium features for $12 a year include a shared family folder, unlimited device sync, multi-factor authentication and access to accounts from any device or computer.

Additional steps that users can take to further enhance the security of password protected information
• A recent U.S. Cellular survey indicates that 65 percent of smartphone users always remember to take their device with them when they leave the house. With that mobility and U.S. Cellular’s robust network with nationwide coverage, people have embraced their smartphones for shopping online, managing bank accounts, catching up on news and emailing, all while on the go. Some additional steps to keep your accounts safe are simple, such as refraining from connecting in locations offering free WiFi. While it may be tempting to utilize the free WiFi, the connection may not be secure, which can impact your account security if accessed while connected.
• Another easy step is one of the most obvious – use built in features such as the screen lock on your device. This feature comes standard on many devices and requires a pattern, fingerprint identification or character password to be entered before anything on the device can be accessed.

Hope these tips were as helpful to you as they were for me!

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An Interview with Charlie (4 Years Old)

March 12, 2016

My sweet and ornery Charlie turns 4 in one week, so I thought it was time for another interview.  We can’t get enough of our littlest guy and love watching him grow up! He has the best personality and really is such a joy. Charlie’s 3 year old interview  What is your name? Charlie Where […]

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