When Listening to Audio Books is a Must

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

Being able to listen to an audiobook has become an important part of my life. Sometimes picking up a paper book or reading an eBook is just not possible. There are times that my hands and eyes are working on something, but I am able to listen. Rather than have music, television, or other background noise on, audiobooks are a great solution that allow me to multitask.

The smartphones in my life have allowed me to keep whatever audiobook I am currently enjoying on them for access on the go. Of course, not all smartphones are created equally when it comes to their speakers. A problem I have had in the past is not being able to hear the narrator of a book if I forget my ear buds. The placement of speakers, the limited volume, and other audio inconsistencies mean that I can not always use OverDrive to listen to my audiobooks without my BOSE Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker.

HTC BoomSound on the HTC One remix

I can not tote my speaker with me to all locations, so one of the first features I check out on a new device is the ability to listen to an audiobook without additional accessories. When I received an HTC One Remix, one of the first things I did was to put my reading apps on it. Then, I connected up to the book that I was currently listening to. When I pushed the button to play and had it resting on my bed and face up, I was able to hear it perfectly. The narrator was clear, the volume did not have to go all the way up, and it self adjusted so I did not have to toggle settings as I was listening. I was pleasantly surprised and wanted to know more because it was very different from other phones I have used.

Multitasking with clear HTC One remix BoomSound audio

The HTC BoomSound™ technology is something that I witnessed. The dual front facing speakers allow you to project music, book, or other sounds right to you. Other smartphones have speakers built into the back so if you want to listen to something and multitask, the audio goes away from you.  The phone also has built-in amps that boost volume so that even my kids in another room came to close my door because they did not want to hear my book. In addition to this, there is bass-to-treble balancing software that makes the sound more crisp and clear.

With this phone, I am able to listen to books while driving near and far to shuttle my kids from school to other afterschool commitments. In addition to this, if I put a book that everyone is listening to together, I can place it in the front of my van and everyone else will be able to follow along without any difficulty hearing. Yes, this is a great device to take on road trips, to a meeting to share audio, or anything else that may come up for a busy person that is on the go and relies on audio that can perform solo.

How do you utilize audio on your smartphone and has there ever been a time where you wish it could do more?

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the HTC One Remix to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Sweet New Year Wishes 5775

At sundown this evening, my family will begin to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish New Year is a time to look at the year that has gone by and reflect on things that have happened in our lives. It is also a time where we wish others a Sweet New Year with apples, honey, honey cake, and other special items.

Sweet New Year Wishes for Rosh Hashanah

Not only do we have the sweet items from a Rosh Hashanah basket above, JSL made some fantastic crafts in Hebrew School.

Rosh Hashanah Crafts

Now I leave you with a fun new Rosh Hashanah song that I found while on YouTube. Matthew Rissien made All About That Rosh-Hashanah (All About that Bass Parody – One Man Jewish Acapella) that seemed perfect to share.

To all of those that celebrate, I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and sweet start to 5775.

It's Me

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The Granola Strolla Portable Solar USB Charger

Imagine having a dream to create a device and making it come true. This is the story of Granola Strolla founders Irene and Benjamin Rodda. The husband and wife team wanted to make a portable USB battery that was affordable and able to be charged with solar power. Granola Strolla Logo

We all know that keeping our smartphone, tablets, and other devices charged can be a challenge when we are on the go. Many locations do not have plugs for us to recharge and if you are walking around an amusement park you may not have time to stop. That’s the beauty of the Granola Strolla, you can clip it on a backpack, diaper bag, or stroller and it will be ready to give devices that extra boost that they may need during your outing.

Granola Strolla on bag

We met three of the four Rodda family members in May 2011. Since that time, I have kept in touch with Irene and she has been featured on my blog several times. I have been able to see all of the steps that Granola Strolla has done to make this moment happen. During this process, Irene and Benjamin have relocated from the Boston area to Tennessee. In addition to this, they have welcomed their second son into the world. Even during tough moments in their personal life, they never gave up. They kept working on the prototype, registering for trademark, and all of the other business milestones.

Granola Strolla charging

Now Granola Strolla has hit the big leagues and they have launched a Kickstarter campaign. Rather than list all of the details about the Granola Strolla here, be sure to read more information on the Kickstarter page. Disclosure: I was sent a Swag Pack with Granola Strolla items for my support, but honestly would have done this post without it. It is my pleasure to help another family to get the word out. This Kickstarter campaign just started and they already have 128 supporters and close to 40% of their funding. Please take a moment to watch their video to learn more about Granola Strolla.

The Granola Strolla Kickstarter campaign ends on October 12, 2014. Please consider donating toward their project and making this dream come true. FYI this is the Granola Strolla Swag Bag that will be sent to those that pledge $25.

Granola Strolla Swag

Wishing Irene and Benjamin much success with Granola Strolla in the future.

It's Me

Disclosure: I was sent a Granola Strolla swag bag as a thank you. As noted, I would have shared this information with my reader to help another family. All opinions are my own.

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Searching for Educational Apps

Verizon Educational Tools AppRaise your hand if app searches within iTunes or Google Play leave you feeling overwhelmed.

I admit that my hands were waving high in the air. While I am comfortable looking for apps, it can be time consuming to research ones for my children. I do not want to put just any item onto their devices. As a teacher and parent, I allow my boys to have fun games, but I also want apps that expand their academic interests and also work on skills in a fun way. I know that using technology can motivate children and have seen it with my own kids and those I have taught in the past.

When I was asked to be a #VZEducation blogger, I was excited to learn more about this often forgotten resource for families that have Verizon Wireless.

 

What is the Verizon Educational Tools App?

Verizon Education Tools is a resource available to Verizon Wireless customers. The app may be downloaded onto iOS and Android  tablets or smartphones. The app costs $2 a month per line. Those who have a MORE Everything Plan will be able to download the app for free. If you install it on devices before the end of September, it will continue to be free to use for the lifetime of your service. We recently upgraded and now have this app on all of our lines so we can research items on the go.

Verizon Educational Tools

Helping to Organize Your Search

What I really appreciate about the Educational Tools is that it helps me to narrow down my search. Here is an example of a search I tried. My sixth grade son really wants to learn about coding and programming. In Google Play, I searched for 6th Grade Computer Science Apps and it returned 250+ apps. Meanwhile, when I went to Grade 6 –> Apps by Category –> Science –> Computer Science in the Verizon Educational Tools app, it gave me five apps, with scores from Spencer Riley.

Verizon Educational Tools vs Google Play

This narrowed my search down to a reasonable number to look at more closely. Then, parents are able to click on each of the recommendations to read more about them. Each app receives a score and you can read more about:

  • Why we love the app
  • What it teaches and how it works
  • Why your kid won’t be able to put it down

In addition to this, those that are curious about how the apps measure up to the Common Core Standards may look at that and also look at the report card score and how it was rated. As a new service, the Educational Tools area is growing each month. More content and apps will be added over time to cover even more academic areas.

What I appreciate as a parent is the way the Educational Tools app is organized. When I select the Apps & Videos area, I am able to pick from Kindergarten to 12th Grade, Testing, and Special Education. From here, you may look for apps or videos based on category or Common Core. My preference is definitely the category and I like that it further breaks down Mathematics, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Creative Expression, and Productivity.

Exploring Verizon Educational Tools

What areas are you looking for apps in for your children? I would love to know as I head off to find some Digital Storytelling items for my second grader. You never know what you may find and how it will inspire and motivate your kids.

It's Me

Disclosure: I am participating in a paid campaign about Verizon Educational Tools. I will be sharing how I have used this with my family.  I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Goodbye Hoffman’s Playland

Hoffman’s Playland in Latham, NY is officially no more. For 62 years, the Capital District favorite has been a treasure for families to go to. Many children rode on their first amusement park ride while at Hoffman’s.

Hoffman's Playland 2014

I remember going to Hoffman’s as a child with my parents and extended family. We rode on our favorite carousel horses, celebrated being tall enough for the bumper cars, and loved getting dizzy as a family on the Tilt O’ Whirl.

It was only natural that when NHL was born eleven years ago that we would want to take him to Hoffman’s with Nana and Papa. His first visit was in the summer of 2004. He was just shy of one and still unable to walk. Still, he loved riding on the Merry Go Round and other rides. We actually started a tradition that year where Papa would take NHL onto the horses for their annual photo together.

Hoffman's Playland 2004

Hoffman’s was a place where we could all be a kid at heart and let our hair down. We could scream at the top of the roller coaster hill, or watch the beautiful scenery while taking the classic train around the park.

Hoffman's Playland 2007

When JSL was born, we took both of the boys to Hoffman’s and continued the tradition. Of course, big brother loved showing JSL all of his favorite rides.

Hoffman's Playland 2008

A few weeks ago, NHL decided that he wanted to go to Hoffman’s on his birthday. We knew it would likely be our last adventure to the park several generations of our family have grown up with. It was bittersweet walking around and thinking of this piece of local history gone.

While we will miss Hoffman’s, I am thankful for all of the memories. We still do not know if the rides may be in another location next year, I know that the boys and I will always have the magical moments from years gone by.

If you have ever been to Hoffman’s Playland and have memories to share, I would love to hear them in the comments below.

It's Me

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