Sunday, June 30, 2013

What, Do They Drive on the Other Side of the Road There?

So we're moving.  And we're going to have to get new drivers licenses in our new state.  Never mind that I have a perfectly good drivers license already that doesn't expire for another 5 years.  And also had to renew the sticker for my license plate, because it expired today - and we move out of state in 11 days.  I called to see if I could get an extension or something.  But no - basically she said, "you're really just screwed.  Whether it's 1 day or 365 days, you still pay.  The same amount.  It's an annual fee."

Apparently I can't wait 5 years or even 1 year to renew things that I've already paid good money for.  I guess the respective DMVs or DOTs or whatever they are have to make money somehow...

Driver's EdThen today Jeffrey mentioned that to get these new drivers licenses we have to take a written test - as if 20+ years of driving doesn't count for anything.  Seriously, isn't the written test for new drivers?  What, are their rules of the road so very different there?  Do they drive on the other side of the road or something?  I mean, written tests are fine for new drivers who have just taken Drivers Ed and studied all that stuff, but the rest of us have been out on the roads driving.  Who remembers how many feet you're supposed to signal ahead of a turn?  And even if I did know how many feet, I wouldn't really know what that means in real life - I just do it.  I'm also one of the few people who seems to know that, on the highway, you're supposed to drive in the right lane and use the left lane for passing.  And, this probably has nothing to do with a drivers license, but I'm also one of the few people that knows pedestrians are supposed to walk on the left side of the street, facing traffic.  At least one of the few in this town - maybe they all know that over there.

Unless, of course, they drive on the other side of the road there, in which case pedestrians should still walk facing traffic, but it would be on the right-hand side of the street.

Seriously, I doubt any of the rules in the new state are any different than in all the rest of the states, which kind of makes a written test a bit ridiculous for people who have been driving for years.

And then there's the fact that a valid current Wisconsin drivers license isn't good enough for ID.  No, they want a birth certificate, and my social security card, and I don't know what all.  Really?  Let's just treat all the new people as if they don't know anything and as if they lied to get the license they currently hold.  Yep, way to make me feel at home.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Smartphone Apps for Families

Besides transferring all your contacts (and figuring out how to block those spam calls), the most important thing when you get a new smartphone is to install all the apps that will make your life easier.  And probably a few games, as well.

Most phones come with some preloaded apps to get you started, and there are many, many more available through Google Play, Amazon, and even your provider.

Because families today are getting busier and busier, many are using smartphones to make their lives easier, more efficient and meaningful. U.S. Cellular offers several apps specifically to help with that and to help people enjoy Better Moments with family.  Two of those are the Family Organizer and U.S. Cellular's new Family Protector.

Family Organizer helps you manage your busy family with a centralized calendar, shopping lists, to do lists and a family journal that everyone can share on the go.  It's like an updated version of the family wall calendar/schedule - only this one goes with everyone in the family everywhere they go.  Which is good, because busy families may not be home enough to actually read that calendar on the wall.

The Family Protector app is one I wish we'd had when my kids were still at home.  Of course, we would have had to have to have smartphones back then, too, but that's beside the point.  This app allows parents to monitor and control usage on their children's cell phones.  You can monitor text messages, photos, and call history as well as restricting apps, blocking websites, and setting time limits and schedules for when your children can talk, text, or browse the internet.  The app will also allow you to monitor your child's location, which could be a matter of life and death should, God forbid, something happen.  It's also a great way of making sure your teenager is where she says she is. (not that mine would ever have told me otherwise.  Uh, yeah)

When Beth would go to visit friends, we always had her call when she got there so we'd know she got there safely - and the caller ID would show whose phone she was calling from so we could see that she was where she said she was.  Then she got a cell phone, and she'd still call to let us know she got there, except that because she was calling from the cell phone, she could have been calling from anywhere.

I'm not necessarily advocating the Family Protector app as a way to spy on your teenagers, but it could work that way, and because it cannot be uninstalled without a password, there would be nothing they could do about it.  I do think it's a good way to protect your children and, yes, teenagers too.  Our kids didn't get cell phones until they were ready to drive, and then I wanted them to have the phones just in case they had car trouble or something else happened when they were out on the road.  It's hard to believe we all used to drive everywhere all the time without those phones!  But, while our kids didn't have phones until they were a bit older, many families are choosing to give their kids phones at earlier ages so that they can always keep in touch and keep up with their busy schedules.

That doesn't always mean the kids are ready for or responsible enough to handle having a cell phone and everything that goes along with it.  I've heard great stories about moms who set all kinds of rules and guidelines for phone use - and those stories circulate widely because the rest of us are so impressed at the way those moms handled the phone situation, and we wonder why we didn't think of that!  Oh, my kids had basic rules like don't text and drive and don't spend all night texting or talking on the phone, but I wasn't very good at checking up on them or really being able to enforce those rules.  I mean, I didn't even think about checking their phones regularly just to see who they were calling, when they were calling, what kind of texts they were sending and receiving, etc.

If only I'd had an app...  Or this customizable Parent-Child Agreement from U.S. Cellular has provided to help parents think about guidelines and phone responsibility.  It has some basic guidelines to get you started, and you can remove, edit or add your own guidelines that work best for you and your child, and that fit within your family.

So, if you've got kids with cell phones, that's great because I know, with the right apps and guidelines, they help families keep in touch and keep organized, but if you're looking for a good way to monitor your kids' phone usage and enforce the cell phone rules you've set, be sure to check out the Family Protector app.  It's free to try for 30 days and then $9.99/month after that for up to 5 devices.

Are there any other apps you've found useful for your family and that you'd recommend to other moms?  Feel free to share them here.  

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my participation in the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger Brigade as well as receiving a new phone.  My experiences with and opinions of U.S. Cellular are 100% mine.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Most Important Setting on a New Phone

I recently got my new phone from U.S. Cellular - a Samsung Galaxy S4, which is currently ranked as the top phone from all providers. How cool is that?  I've never had the latest, greatest phone before.

It took me a while to figure out the most important thing, though.  What, you ask, is that?    Well, besides finding a cute new case (see photo), it's figuring out how to block all those irritating spam phone calls, of course.  Seriously, I have added my number to the DO NOT CALL list, but that doesn't really seem to stop some of these people - especially 'Rachel' from Cardholder Services.  That girl has more numbers than anyone I know!

On my previous phone, I had started adding the number of every single irritating caller to a contact I named Spam!  And then I simply told my phone to block that contact.  That way any time they tried calling me, my phone wouldn't ring, and the call would go straight to voicemail.  Amazing how they never bother to leave a message...

When I got this new phone, I tried to do the same thing, but when I tried editing my Spam! contact, I didn't see any option to block the calls.  I started getting all these phone calls that I had been blissfully unaware of before.  I'd drop what I was doing, dry my wet soapy hands, etc. to answer my phone, only to see it was a call from my good buddy Spam!  I finally changed the ringtone, so I could tell without crossing the room or looking at the phone who was calling and could therefore ignore those calls.  Still, it was irritating.

I checked the Galaxy S4 manual - Thanks to Janet for letting me know when I called to activate my new phone that it was available on the U.S. Cellular website!  Unfortunately the information I found in the manual only let me reject callers one number at a time.  I have no idea how many numbers I have in this one contact, but the idea of having to reject or block each number individually was a bit discouraging, so I just started ignoring the calls when they came in or rejecting them manually.  I even answered one once.  Big mistake.

Then, my wonderful husband, who also happens to have the S4, called one evening to tell me he'd figured it out - because I might have complained about it a time or two...  Turns out it was incredibly simple - just not in the same place and done the same way as my old phone, so I'd missed it.  Looking at the manual now, I see I missed it there, too.  Because it's right there, in the section on Contacts.
  • From the Home screen, touch Contacts
  • Touch a contact to display it, then touch Menu
    a whole list of options will come up along with the important one:
  • Add to reject list
    Mark the contact so that calls or messages from the contact are rejected automatically. 

Now, something tells me I should sit down and read the rest of this manual.  There are a lot of things I can do with this phone, but not if I don't know how.
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Oh, Standards

I have a hard time understanding the standards in today's society.  Some things, apparently, are unacceptable, while others that I think should be unacceptable are tolerated and sometimes even celebrated.

For instance, everyone is all over Paula Deen because she admitted to, at some time, using a word that has been deemed unacceptable and inappropriate.  Oh, how could she? And allowing this word to pass her lips - in what context?  at what time? as a regular thing with the intent to hurt or just at some unknown time in the past? - is enough that we're all supposed to hate her now.  She's fired from the Food Network, may be dropped by QVC, etc. I mean, she's obviously mean-hearted, bigoted, and a racist and never deserves to be in the public eye again.

On the other hand, we're all supposed to care about Kim Kardashian and her affair with Kanye West.  Oh sure, she's gotten some criticism of her maternity wardrobe choices and now there's the name they gave that poor baby girl, but did anyone say anything about the real issues?  What about the fact that she got married, stayed with her husband for all of two seconds (or something like that), and then left him to take up with this Kanye character soon after?  And then get pregnant with his baby, while she was still married.  Nobody's firing her.  Obviously she's a great role model all young girls can look up to and aspire to be just like.  Only, you know, not when it comes to certain wardrobe choices.  Or baby names.

Yeah, those standards make no sense to me.
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

White Cloud’s New Luxuriously Soft Bath Tissue

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of White Cloud for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Toilet Paper.  We find a brand we like, and we stick with it.  Right?  I know I've been buying the same brand for years.  I just don't want to take the risk of buying something I'm unfamiliar with and then being stuck with something that's not soft or not strong enough, or that doesn't last very long.  At least until that package was used up.

So I jumped at the chance to sample this new White Cloud bath tissue. I could try something new risk free - and I'm so glad I did.  If you're like me, you'd read this:
White Cloud Luxuriously Soft Bath Tissue is made using an innovative manufacturing technology called “TAD.” TAD, or “Through Air Dried,” is super-premium technology in the bath tissue world. It uses a special machine to blow air through single-ply sheets, creating a two-ply product with amazing thickness, softness, strength and absorption.
-- and you'd say, "Yeah, right."

But you know what?  Whatever technology is involved, I really like this stuff!  It's soft and strong, and I think it will last longer than my regular brand.  You know how you always pull a certain amount of toilet paper off the roll every time?  When I do that with this White Cloud bath tissue, it feels like I have too much.  What that means is that I can use less to do the same job, and therefore the roll will last longer.  After I get used to pulling a bit less off the roll, that is.

You can Find White Cloud products near you when you shop at Walmart, so you know you can get this premium quality product at a not-so-premium price.  Right now when you Like White Cloud on Facebook you can get a $1.00 off coupon so you can try White Cloud for yourself and your family.  Also be sure to Follow White Cloud on Twitter for more information and savings.

And now a few words from my bathroom:

Visit Sponsor's Site

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Morning Snuggles

Beth had something to do one evening last week, so we got to hang out with Jason.  Yeah, it's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!

Usually when Jason spends the evening here, he also spends the night  — cute little precious boy in a twin bed.  When did he get so big?  Of course, he is two now.  Just ask him, and he'll tell you.

He's not only big enough to sleep in a big boy bed, he's big enough to open doors now.  He especially likes opening the door to the pantry and getting the pretzels or the animal crackers out so he can have a snack. 

When he spends the night, his mommy comes and picks him up in the morning before she goes to work.  She watches another little guy at his house, and Jason gets to go to work every day, too.  Beth has the garage door code, so she just comes in the house, grabs Jason and his stuff, and leaves again.  I don't even have to get up — because it's early.

So, the other morning, early, I heard a door open, figured it was Beth coming to pick up Jason, and dozed back off since it wasn't time for me to get up yet.  A few minutes later — I don't know how much later because I wasn't fully awake — I sensed someone beside my bed and opened my eyes.  There stood a little guy with his blanket and his sippy cup, arms outstretched.  So I pulled him into bed next to me, and we snuggled until his mommy actually did come and pick him up.

It was nice.  Very nice. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Barbershop

Barbershop I saw this on facebook this morning. Love the logic!
A man went to a barber shop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed.  As the barber began to work, they started a good conversation.  They talked about so many things and various subjects. 

When they eventually touched the subject of God, the barber said, “I don’t believe that God exists.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.
The barber said, “Well you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist.  Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”

The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.

Just after he left the barber shop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard.  He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and said to the barber, “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”
"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber, and I just worked on you!”
“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don't exist because if they do, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”
The barber said, “Ah, but barbers DO exist; what happens is, people don't come to me.”
“Exactly”- affirmed the customer, “That’s the point.

God too, DOES exist; But what happens is, people don’t go to Him and do not look for him.
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