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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

  1. Match Game

    March 20, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2925_2We’ve discussed price matching previously as an excellent means of shopping frugally.  If you get the Sunday paper, you can check circulars for product pricing on many items you may want.

    But we wanted to take a post to remind you of the ease and money saving opportunity of price matching to!

    Tip: Make sure you are familiar with each store policy on price matching.

    On a recent trip to Target, we were shopping for a single new filter for our sink water filter.  We were shocked to see that Target was charging $19.99 for one replacement filter!  Knowing that there had to be a better price, we searched online and located the filter on for $8.99.

    Our young cashier didn’t know if Target allowed us to price match to Amazon, but she called over a manager to assist.  We were directed to the courtesy desk where, after a super quick verification of the online price, we were checked out and on our way home.

    Tip2:  This is another great use of your smart phone.  Don’t hesitate to take a minute to check a price online.

    We celebrated a 50% savings by simply searching for a product on our phone prior to checking out of the store!  And now that we are more aware of Target’s policy, we will complete our price check research prior to some of our shopping trips to make the experience even smoother.

    Enjoy your savings!

  2. The Family Calendar Goes Digital

    February 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2801_2It’s no secret that this is one busy TR family.  We’ve always had lot going on from Day 1.  Doctor’s appointments, playdates, work events, club meetings, vacation days… it’s a lot to keep track of for any family.

    We’ve used a number of different schemes to help keep everyone on track.

    For a long time we had a standard bank wall calendar hanging in the kitchen.  And we’d scrawl notes on there as we remembered upcoming events.  And we’d try to check the wall each morning.  As events got cancelled and rescheduled, the calendar quickly became an overwhelmed scribble.

    We switched to a larger “Family” calendar we picked up in a bookstore.  It featured bigger notation spaces and cute stickers to help serve as reminders.  But as our family grew, and activities accumulated, this family calendar also became an over-worked mess.

    There was a period where TRMom would print out pages of Microsoft calendar months from her office.  So TRMom and TRDad would email and call each other to update the computer calendar, and TRMom would print out a new version weekly.  We’d tape it to the wall and write in additions for the next week’s printing.  Better, but not great.

    We continued to struggle with finding methods to keep appointments up-to-date, how to remember to look at them, and still have a serviceable method of figuring out what was going on in our active little group.

    And then we got smart phones.

    It took us a good minute to work out the kinks, but we soon found we could easily add or remove calendar items from our shared digital calendars with ease.  And by setting your personal preferences, you can receive reminder messages about all, or some of your events.  Now it is very easy for us to keep track of this crazy busy clan.

    Our good friend Siri can even add calendar events for us, making this the easiest system we’ve used to date.  And you can have your family’s Facebook events automatically populate your digital calendar as well.

    By setting up multiple color coded calendars, you can even make calendars that show your kiddos only the events or reminders that pertain to them, and leave the “Send In Car Payment” notes out of their line of vision.

    We are happy to be able to have synched calendars at a moment’s notice.  It helps keep us all on the same page and limits the surprises. We highly recommend that if available, you consider utilizing these digital calendars for your family.

  3. Let The Games Begin

    January 14, 2015 by admin

    Pettsons-Inventions-Walkthrough-20We received a tablet computer as a gift some time ago.  We decided, after much discussion, to allow our youngest to use the tablet within certain time periods and in specific situations.  Bluey loves it and we were quite surprised at the amount of excellent apps available.

    Our top three apps for kids (available for iPhone and Android):

    1. Toca Builders – This game allows your child to build designs within a “toca” universe.  There is an amazing amount of manipulation in size, shape, and color available to your youngster.  It is always interesting to see Bluey’s creativity as he flexes his architectural skill.
    2. Pettson’s Inventions – Help Pettson create inventions and celebrate with the app characters when you succeed!
    3. Sprinkle – Indulge your young fire fighter and watch him/her work through logic problems and learn about water physics as your child attempts to put out fires in this adorable world called “Titan.”screen568x568


    We  like these games because they are:

    • Free or Inexpensive:  When you are not sure if a game will work well, or if it will be enjoyable, having a low price point is very important.
    • Challenging But Solvable:  One of the things we like about the tablet is that it puts Bluey in charge.  He figures out the rules and goals of the games, pretty much on his own.  We are always nearby to assist!  But knowing that he is solving these puzzles and designing these creations makes ‘computer time’ a valuable part of our home life.
    • Teaching Basic Computer Skills:  With each finger swipe and click, and every unfortunate crash of the tablet, our young Bluey is learning more about computer technology and systems.  In our increasingly connected world, our youngest knows about wi-fi, battery power, and rebooting games- all due to his time with his tablet.


    We practice a simple but clear system for finding new app.  When a new game is wanted, TRMom and TRDad do the searching and downloading after Bluey’s bedtime.  Each app is checked for appropriateness and functionality.  Does this game fit in with our family views on violence and rules about harsh language?  Are the goals of the game ones we support?  Does the game work?  Or does it require a wi-fi connection?

    It is our experience that if an adult keeps an eye on what games are being played, a tablet with monitored time can be a fun and educational addition to your child’s world.

    Try out these games and let us know what apps are your faves!

  4. Digital Coupons

    January 9, 2015 by admin

    IMG_9688We are a couponing family. Growing up with couponing parents, we can’t resist following suit and teaching our kiddos the skills to knock down the prices of their favorite finds.  We haven’t quite mastered the art, so we’re not what you’d call ‘extreme couponers.’  But we’re always researching and growing our resources for maximum cost savings.

    We figure every penny saved adds to our opportunity to go out and have more adventures or allows us to buy more supplies for the next big art project.

    A lot of folks seem to think that couponing takes a ton of time. They can’t be bothered with the gathering, sorting, and scissoring. And forget about remembering to bring those little bits of paper along on a shopping trip.

    Welcome to the digital age! We have some favorite mobile coupon apps that are a snap to use and will save you money 90% of the time.

    Cartwheel for Target:  When this app was first released, TRMom hated it. But now, thanks to Target’s fixes to its shortcomings, it is in constant use. We especially like the feature that allows you to scan products. Once the barcode is read, the app will tell you whether or not a cartwheel savings exists!IMG_9687

    Tip1: Target will price match to Cartwheel (and other store circulars) for any purchases made within 7 days as long as you have your receipt. This was a huge bonus at Christmas when prices were constantly moving.

    Flipp:  You no longer need to go through store circulars. This app gathers all that information for you. Curious about who might have the best price on Beneful dog food? Search in Flipp and find out. Stores like Walmart will price match to competitors circulars.

    Tip2: Check the price matching policy of each and every store prior to shopping. Walmart has an incredibly lenient price match policy but Target is rather strict.

    There is really no excuse to pay full price for a ton of items. Download some mobile apps today and start saving!

  5. Lego Designer Videos

    December 5, 2014 by admin

    Lego Design TeamFor a quick and fun way to inspire your builders, let your young inventor learn from some of the best with help from a short on-line video.

    Just point your browser towards YouTube, and type “Lego Designer” in the search field. Up pops a long list of videos narrated by actual Lego Designers, proudly showing off their works. Most of the videos are only 3 or 4 minutes long- just the perfect length for inspiration!

    Get an inside look at the new Jawa Sandcrawler, or the Sydney Opera House. Learn the thought processes behind buildings, vehicles and movies sets.

    Fun Sidenote: Lego Designers hail from all over the world. It is fun to hear their accents and think about what language they spoke as children.Lego Town Hall

    You and your kiddoes will no doubt move straight from the computer to the Legos to try out new ideas!

    For another twist, search under “Lego Designer Tips.” Here you’ll find not insights into existing Lego sets, but pro tips from the builders on everything from making cool furniture to jazzing up a motorcycle. These are all tips from people whose job is to play with Legos- the things they come up with are pretty cool and sure to get your builder juices flowing!

    So when you or your kiddoes need a jumpstart, check out a few Lego Designer videos and get your creativity on!

  6. Turning On Apple TV

    October 31, 2014 by admin

    Although we only recently made the switch from cable television to streaming, we had suspected from the start that we’d soon need to change up our method of streaming.

    We had originally been streaming our media through our Wii game console.  This worked very well for our family for a number of reasons, the most important of which was that we already had the Wii.  Since we needed to purchase a wireless router and some adapter cables, we liked the idea of not having to spring for any further hardware while we adjusted to life cable-free.

    But the Wii had several drawbacks that we greatly disliked- the worst of which was slow loading times for shows and videos.  The YouTube connection was especially pokey (more on that in a minute) and we wanted a better connection.apple_tv_roundup

    Our research quickly led us to the AppleTV.  As an Apple family, we were easily convinced that we would understand the set up process and that this product would mesh well with our other Apple devices.

    We weren’t disappointed!  AppleTV is a far better experience for us than using the Wii had ever been.  We found the set up quick and mostly self-explanatory.

    Our biggest trouble came when accessing our YouTube account.  Turns out, our several YouTube/Google+ identities and channels weren’t easily sorted by the AppleTV YouTube app.  This app wasn’t created by YouTube, so they don’t support it.  And with the rapid changes in technologies, and protocols for both AppleTv and YouTube, finding useful and current  help proved a big challenge.  Eventually, we found the Manchester Video Limited blog, and after contacting them directly about our problem, they quickly helped us sort it out.  Kudos to Gavin and the folks at Manchester Video!

    We have been quite pleased with our switch to AppleTV, even with the few hiccups.  Let us know if it works for you!

  7. You Tube Inspires

    September 17, 2014 by admin

    Robot TruckWe’ve recently started a new routine at our house. Each weekday morning, TRDad and Bluey spend a few minutes surfing YouTube. It’s quickly become a valued part of our day.

    What’s so good about YouTube? Well, we find it inspires us to go out and do things, create things, learn things.

    Yes, YouTube is filled with videos of funny dogs and karaoke. But it is also filled with cool building projects, information on home repairs, science projects and classic comedy.

    For example, Bluey recently spent the day trying to make a Lego robot, because he saw one on YouTube. Forget that we don’t have the expensive Lego Remote Control- Bluey didn’t let that slow him down. He headed for our Lego supply, mashed it up with some K’Nex and had a great creative morning. He then moved on to constructing a bunch of unique Lego cars and planes of his own design.

    Other days, he has created science projects, reenacted complex video stories, and practiced his silly walks- all based on what he has seen on YouTube.Silly Walks

    So we welcome YouTube into our daily lives- who knows what we’ll be inspired to do next?

  8. Shutterbugs!

    August 10, 2014 by admin


    We take pictures all the time as one way of recording our family adventures. Thanks to the development of digital cameras, both of our kids also take photos frequently= putting their own visions to permanence.

    Digital photography allows us to really take the reins off our kiddos visual art. The photos cost essentially nothing, less than a penny for digital storage per pic.  And choosing to print them out isn’t all that expensive.

    So why not let the kiddoes cut loose?  Our kids can shoot all the pics they want  with minimal input from us.  Then they decide for themselves which ones are ‘good’ shots.

    We’ve recently taken a shining to the popular social network, Instragram. We love it because among other things, it has enhanced our artistic vision when taking photographs. Instagram has allowed us to break out of our photography rut and put a little extra art into our digital pics.  We enjoy trying a little harder to find a good angle, or making sure that shadows don’t interfere with an image.

    Instagram also offers a pretty safe way to introduce our tween to social media. We helped Plum set the privacy controls on her Instagram account, and talked with her about paying attention to the content of her photos. Now Plum can communicate with her friends and begin to make her own mark on the web.

  9. Tweet For A Track

    June 20, 2014 by admin


    You know we love pointing out sources for free and legal mp3s.  Here’s a new one we discovered recently, thanks to Righteous Babe Records.

    How about a simple way to combine supporting artists while you spread the word about them, and then they give you free music?

    Could it be simpler than sending a tweet?

    At Tweet For A Track, you find a song you like and send out an auto-composed tweet about it.  Then the service sends a download code to your email for the track.

    It’s free,  It’s simple. We’ve picked up tracks from Joan Jett and Ingrid Michaelson, as well as tons of new artists, all for a simple tweet.

    Give it a go!

  10. Map App

    June 13, 2014 by admin

    chicago-days-inn-melrose-park-mapIn our transition to smart phones, we find the mapping apps to be real lifesavers, especially when only one parent is in the car.

    We will always be big fans of traditional paper maps. We love how they show a wide and detailed perspective of part of the world. We love their old school simplicity. We love their tactile nature.

    But we have found that our phone app maps are indispensable when traveling solo, as recently happened in our family when only one parent could take the kids in and out of Chicago.

    Google-maps-iconWhether encountering construction delays or making a wrong turn, the mapping apps we use (GoogleMaps and AppleMaps) help us avoid having to pull over, locate ourselves on paper, and determine a new course.  It’s much simpler to find our position through satellite on the phone app and automatically get a new route, or see our options. And thanks to street views and 3D images, it’s also relatively easy to determine exactly where we are and what direction we are facing.iOS6-AppleMaps-icon

    With two parents in the car, we typically run a standard driver/ navigator dichotomy that works very well for us.  In that situation, we lean towards paper maps with a mapping app as our back up.  But when solo on the road, we can’t express enough thanks for our mapping apps!