Memories With Big Red

Thirteen years ago, I was very pregnant with my oldest son. TechyDad and I decided that it was time for a family vehicle. We traded in my Chrysler Neon that had been with me through college. My little red adventure mobile had traveled all over with me, including to meet TechyDad. We had to trade the car in because we needed something that was larger for baby cargo and our growing family.

Memories with Big Red

About a month before NHL was born, Big Red came home with us. Yes, my red Town & Country minivan would be there for so many milestones in our life. We brought NHL home from the hospital in her. We went to visit family near and far with her. Big Red also allowed us to travel with extended family thanks to more seating. Big Red helped us to move from an apartment into our home. She also helped us to experience our first road trip and family vacation to friends near Sesame Place.

Big Red also saved our lives in the summer of 2006. We were t-boned by another car making an illegal turn. Big Red was pushed across at least six lanes. While up on two wheels, Big Red did not tip over and we stopped 180 degrees on the far side of the giant roadway. NHL and Nana were with us that day. Big Red was fixed and looked good as new after some time away.

The following year, JSL came into our world and completed our family. Big Red would often transport a sleeping baby to and from school to pick up big brother. We continued to travel with the van and our two young boys. As the kids got bigger, and gas got more expensive, we used the more fuel efficient car. Big Red stayed home a little more, but we still loved her. She let us haul extra kids to after school activities and more.

Three years ago, we did a major repair on Big Red. We knew that would be the last time. After this, it would not make sense to put money into her. Aside from brakes, wipers, and several tires she kept up on her end of the bargain taking the kids to and from school.

Last week, Big Red went in for her inspection. The news was not good for my big red adventure mobile. A major repair would mean the end of the road for us.

It may seen silly, but over time you get attached to your vehicles and the special moments in them. Call me sentimental, but after thirteen years together Big Red’s a constant that has always been there for our family. I recall picking her out and being so happy for another red car. I also remember dashing to the hospital in Big Red when my water broke for each of the kids. TechyDad and I laughed hysterically as I tried not to make a mess in the car . Drives to first days of school for the boys, going to work in my own classroom, and more were all with Big Red.

 Goodbye Big Red

Handing over the keys is going to be hard, but I know it’s the right thing. Now I need to come up with a name for my soon to be new car. We will certainly have many memories to add together.

It's Me

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Tuesday Tales: Playaway All-In-One Audiobooks

Are you a fan of audiobooks? I am a big fan and have written about them many times in the past. Personally, I adore audiobooks because they allow me to multitask while reading a book. In addition to this, I know they are beneficial for many kids that struggle with reading or are reluctant readers. The parent and certified reading teacher in me encourages my own children to explore the world of literature with audiobooks.

While we were at the library recently, something caught NHL’s eye. Near the audiobook CD collection, there was a Playaway section. Intrigued, we went over to the librarian to ask about using and taking them out. Exploring Playaway for audiobook listening

What is Playaway? It is a pre-loaded, all-in-one, compact device with an audiobook.There is no need to use up precious battery life on your smartphone or tablet. Now you can select the book on Playaway that you want to listen to and plug in your own headphones in the universal headphone jack. The pint sized device uses one AAA battery to run. Once your headphones are plugged in, turn on the power button and press play. The device gives you five narration speeds, volume control, and reverse/forward within or by chapter on a backlit LCD screen.

Inside a Playaway box from the library

NHL is really enjoying this reading experience. We do not have to download an app, search online for an audiobook that is currently available, or haul a big tablet around. I adore that he’s reading different books and expanding his interests. I was jealous of this convenient portable book. I figured it would be great while walking, crocheting, or even to listen in the car. Not only can I read new kiddie literature options, there are plenty of books available for all ages. Many local libraries are now carrying Playaway circulation packs like the one above. Educators will love that you can purchase Playaway book packs that pair the device with a print copy of the book.

Has anyone in your home tried a Playaway all-in-one audiobook? I would love to know about your experience. As always, Tuesday Tales is about sharing our love of books. Please let me know what you have read recently. Be sure to link up to your book posts in the comments below. Include something you read on your own, with a child, or someone else.

It's Me

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Say Hello to Tile and Goodbye to Lost Keys

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

How are you at keeping track of your keys? I am a relatively organized person, but my keys seems to have a life and mind of their own. While I have tried to keep then in one place, or clip them to my purse with a key fob, something always happens.

Thank goodness my youngest son has never made a video of me searching for my keys. He could have made quite the series of me flipping out while looking for my keys before school. TechyDad almost made a video of this the other day and I would have deserved it. Why? Well, I had no reason for losing my keys. I should have had them with my nifty new tech device.

Say hello to Tile!

Lost Keys Be Gone With Tile Bluetooth Tracker

Moments after I lost my keys, I grabbed the Tile that I was sent and set it up. The app was easy to follow. With the Bluetooth tracker, it quickly found my keys when I tested things out. Another perk, you can also use the Tile to ring your smartphone that may be hiding. Even if it’s on silent mode, it will ring your phone.

This morning I lost my keys (AGAIN). No worries now thanks to @@verizon and #Tile. #VZWBuzz #ad

A video posted by @theangelforever on

A Tile four pack is currently sold at Verizon for $69.99. The app allows you to track multiple Tiles and items at once. I now have a list of items waiting for some extra Tiles. Some of my must track things are:

  • TechyDad’s Keys – Needed since I often take his car and lose the keys once inside the house.
  • Remote Controls – Our couch likes to eat them and now we will be able to call it via the Tile app to locate for changing the channel.
  • Favorite Stuffed Friends – We will make a Tile necklace for favorite friends that go on the road.
  • NHL’s Retainer Case – This expensive piece of orthodontics needs to make sure it stays put and doesn’t wander.
  • JSL’s Flute Case – Musical instruments are expensive and it’s nice to know where it may be since it can get lost in the shuffle between school and home.
  • Socks – Just kidding! Of course, this would be useful to combat the socks that go into the washer and never come out. Remember Tile is water resistant too.

We will continue to explore more ways to use Tile this summer. Since Tile is water resistant it will be great at the pool, lake, and camp for the kids. The possibilities are endless for use at home, school (teachers and students), going off to college, while traveling, and so much more.

Where would you use a Tile? Would you be like me and place it on your keys?

It's Me
Disclosure
: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive cool goodies like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Tile Bluetooth Tracker to test out and share ways that I use them in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Finding Time and Motivation to Focus on Me

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

2016 is a big year in our household. My oldest son will not only officially become a teenager, he will also have his Bar Mitzvah in the fall. A few months later, I will turn the big 4-0. One of the items I am working on is making more time to focus on myself, specifically my health.

 Finding time and motivation with Fitbit

The winter was long and I have been looking for something to motivate me to get moving more. While my diet may not be horrible, I know I need healthy lifestyle changes. These include more sleep thanks to insomnia kicking me in the rear. I also need to drink more water. Fluids will help with my headaches and much more. The biggest issue for me is not moving enough. I know I need to get up and move more than I do, but the cold did not motivate me all winter. With sedentary hobbies like reading, crocheting, and working at home in front of a computer, I need reminders to move.

Enter the arrival of a Fitbit Charge HR – Heart Rate and Activity Wristband from Verizon. I could not get my Charge to charge fast enough to get started. While it was getting ready, I set up my phone. I installed the Fitbit app and checked out some features that were new since I had a Fitbit Zip a long time ago. I immediately noticed my steps, heart rate, hourly activity (250+ steps each hour during the day), distance, calories burned, sleep (or lack of sleep), stair case floors traveled, active minutes, exercise tracker, place to add a food plan, and water tracker. There is more, but these immediately caught my eye and I went to fill up my 32 ounce bottle of water.

Even though I didn’t have a full first day, I wanted to test things out. I was curious how it would track walks, monitor my heart rate when resting, and more. The first evening, JSL brought his scooter out with me for a walk. Keeping up with my kiddo was motivating even when my feet were complaining a bit.

Walking with my kiddo

Over the weekend, I had a chance to get to know the Charge a bit more. When we took the kids to the park and the boys were playing, I headed off on my own walk. It was a beautiful and breezy day. It was perfect for wandering around the walking paths to check out the views.

Walking at the park just because

For my first full week day with the Charge, I tried something different. After the boys were in school I went for a walk. It was still cool outside and it gave me time to think. I grabbed my phone, Bluetooth headset, and was ready to go. The night before, I put some extra music on my phone and made sure a new audio book was ready in case I was more in a mood for a tale.

Ready for my walk thanks to tech goodies

What I noticed was that I walked faster and was less worried about time in the morning. I knew I could go as far or for as long as I wanted. The laundry would still be waiting for me when I got back and I had hours before the kids had to be picked up at school. After my walk, I actually decided to do some laundry. This is where I was able to see how the Fitbit Charge tracks stairs. By the time I had to pick up the kids, I had gone up 11 floors and still had more clothes to finish drying.

Later in the day, I figured out how to track my exercise. The GPS on my phone works with the Fitbit app to map out my route. Then, when I am finished, it gives me the total distance traveled, average beats per minute of my heart rate, and pace. This has been great to watch as my walks grow in length and my pace picks up. I still have to get to know more about my Fitbit Charge HR, but so far it has motivated me to get up, get outside, and do more activities with the kids. With time, I look forward to adding friends for more challenges as well.

If you have a Fitbit, what do you suggest that I check out next?

It's Me
Disclosure
: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive cool goodies like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Fitbit Charge HR to test out and share ways that I use them in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Finding the Right Cruise

Last summer, we went on our first cruise. We booked it rather late and simply did not over think things.

Finding the Right Cruise

Fast forward to almost a year later. Both of our boys were bit by the cruise bug. They loved the activities for kids, swimming, relaxing, and food. We all had fun and never had to think too much once we were on the ship.

NHL really wants to go on a cruise for his Bar Mitzvah. He does not want a party and would like to go away. I am over thinking everything and there are very few options in times that work for us. School and the actual Bar Mitzvah complicate things. In addition to this, there are not a lot of cruises out of the New York City area.

So what are we looking for? Here are are a few things:

  • Family friendly cabins – We need a room that sleeps all four of us. Last summer, we learned how to make a very small space work and know we will be fine.
  • Kid and teen activities – The boys really enjoyed the kids club on our first cruise. Things will be different this time. On most ships, NHL will be considered a teen (whether he’s 12 or actually 13 when we sail). We need to make sure the cruise line we select has options for both of the boys to be happy. This also means that they must be autism friendly.
  • Sensitive to kids with special needs – From start to finish, our last cruise worked with us carefully to help NHL not to be anxious and potentially ruin the cruise experience. We told them he was autistic and they helped us to get on board in the least hectic manner. In addition to this, the kids club was aware and knew how to get to us if there was an emergency. As a teen, I still need to make sure that NHL has options that are age appropriate, but has supports that he may need.
  • Flexible dining times and options – Selecting a dining time is hard when on a vacation. With our first cruise, we were able to go to one of three dining rooms and a buffet any evening. We did not have a set time to eat. This allowed us to swim late, get dressed for dinner, and make shows at the early time for the kids to enjoy. We also found out that we enjoyed a sit down breakfast that looked out on the water over the hectic seating options found by the buffet.
  • No required formal nights – While we dressed up for dinner, we were not in formal attire. TechyDad did not bring a sports jacket, and the boys wore dressy shorts and polo shirts. This is our style and we don’t want to be forced into something more.
  • Seven day itinerary – While open to options, we really enjoyed our week long cruise. We had just the right amount of time on board to do many things and at the end we were ready to go home to larger quarters at night.
  • Different itinerary – Our first cruise went from New York City to Orlando. After a day in Florida (we went to Kennedy Space Center), we were on the cruise lines private island in the Bahamas. The last stop before heading back up the east coast was Nassau. While we enjoyed most of our ports, it would be nice to do something different. We’re not fussy and would consider a different Eastern Caribbean,  Bermuda, or Canadian option. If we can find nice air fare, leaving outside of New York City is a possibility that would certainly open up more ships. There are a lot of options up and down the east coast to look at, but New York City is still the most convenient for us.
  • Family fun – Our first cruise experience was on an older and what many would now consider a smaller ship. This meant that it did not have a fancy water area and only had a small waterslide. It would be fantastic to have something with more water fun space, a mini golf option, and family friendly night time entertainment. Our boys adored the shows we went to on all but one evening. This is a must since it is something we can all enjoy together.

Now that we are no longer cruise virgins, we have some things that we hope for on our next getaway. While we enjoyed our last experience on a specific cruise line, we are happy to explore all options. It certainly can not hurt to check out other cruise lines and ships. Our first ship was big to us, but most newer ones are much larger.

Our First Cruise

If you enjoy cruise travel, what are your musts? Do you have any suggestions for cruising with a nine and almost thirteen year old?

It's Me

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+