Category - Technology

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» REVIEW: LIFX Color 1000 Light Bulbs
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» REVIEW: IMVIO Kit (iPhone Lenses)
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» REVIEW: Circle with Disney
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» REVIEW: Sonos PLAY:5 (2015) Review
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» REVIEW: Nest Thermostat, 3rd Generation
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» REVIEW: Sleep Guardian (for Night Terrors)
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» REVIEW: Canary Home Security
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REVIEW: Bluetooth Trackers (Never Lose Your Kids Again?)
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Father’s Day Gift Guide: 2015

» REVIEW: LIFX Color 1000 Light Bulbs

Putting four kids to bed is not for the weak. LIFX bulbs can’t help with bath time, bed time snacks or reading books out loud, but they have been ideal for setting the mood right and making sure lights out really happens. The different colors and brightness settings can create an environment to help kids get focused when it comes to cleaning or reading on their own, then easily changed to calm and relaxing when its time for sleep.

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Set up

One of the best features that set LIFX apart from other smart light options (that I’ve found) is that LIFX bulbs don’t require anything additional, such as a hub. All of the initial set up is controlled through the app. You just screw the bulb into a ceiling light or lamp, power it on, and go through the step-by-step instructions on your phone or tablet. A total of about 3 minutes per bulb. I used my iPhone 6 for everything and didn’t run into any issues.
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iPhone App

The app is super easy to use and just makes sense. Which is silly to type but I have had too many good products or services get ruined by the app. A simple swipe up or down changes the brightness level and a turn to the left/right easily changes the color. Some of my favorite bed-time features include being able to make lighting schedules or setting a timer on the fly.

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I’m also looking forward to the holidays when we can bring in a little green and red for Christmas. Speaking of themes, LIFX provides a handful of fun effects (like candle flicker, strobe lights, music visualization, and more) without having to download anything additional.

Conclusion

LIFX seems to have the best smart bulb out on the market when it comes to quality of light and the app is great. $59.99 a pop can get expensive really quickly but a single bulb is expected to last for 28 years (based on 3 hours a day)! I assumed that this kind of bulb would cost more to operate but was surprised to see that it’s only $1.32 per year. With these costs, we can see these bulbs as more of an investment purchase for our home. We’ve been able to use them nightly for the kids and been able to utilize them for movie nights, too. As winter time approaches, these bulbs will be useful for getting the kids asleep…and awake!

Buy on Amazon

Lifx website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The folks at LIFX kindly provided us Color 1000 bulbs for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: IMVIO Kit (iPhone Lenses)

Disclaimer: The folks at IMVIO kindly allowed us a unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

Fish-Eye and Wide-Angle lens for your iPhone

With four kids, it’s difficult to carry anything more than what I absolutely need. That includes my DSLR camera. After searching for a happy medium, the IMVIO lens kit sounded like a great addition with minimum impact. After a few weeks of use and going around town, I love this little accessory. The two lenses come in a case that attaches nicely to your keychain and you can easily screw/unscrew the lens as needed. You are required to use the case that the kit comes with.

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Conclusion

There’s not much more to say about this product other than it works and it makes pictures fun. There’s no additional app needed so setup is literally just the time it takes to swap the iPhone case. The lens does not make your image quality any better since it’s still using your phone as a camera. Lighting is always important but I’ve found that with the lens attachment, it helps to have more (brighter) light. With the recent price drop to $40, any mom (or dad) would love this little gadget. I’ve also seen Coral color as low as $37.50 on Amazon!

  • iPhone with No Lens
  • Fish Eye
  • Wide Angle

 


 

» REVIEW: Circle with Disney

Disclaimer: The folks at Circle with Disney kindly provided us a security unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

Currently, we don’t have a huge need to censor the Internet from our children. They don’t have devices and all screen time is closely monitored. However, we realize it won’t be that way forever.  Our nine year old has begun to use the computer for school and has also talked about saving money for a used iPad. We’ve even realized, after chatting with friends who have older children, that we also have to be concerned about our children’s visiting friends and the devices they bring. Enter Circle.

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Circle with Disney (which is actually square shaped) does so much more than just turn the Internet on and off in the home at designated times. We’ve had ours for two months, so I’ve figured out how it works best for us. To be clear, this is not a router, it’s a device that connects to your router and acts like a gatekeeper to all devices on your network. Even visiting devices. (take that sneaky friends!)

Set up

One of the best features is that everything, including the initial set up, is controlled through your iPhone app (Android is supposed to be coming soon). That’s it. No need to set up different time limits and restrictions on each device. If you already have Kindles with FreeTime, you know the headache I’m talking about. Imagine having to set that up four times on four different devices.

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Doing the initial set up for all devices can still be time consuming depending on how many devices there are in the household. An added bonus is that you receive push notifications on your phone anytime a new device is added to the network. If your children’s friends are over, you can easily add any restrictions to their devices the moment Circle sends you a notification.

Parental Controls

Set time limits on internet-connected activity

  • Set a daily overall time limit
  • Set a daily time limit for a particular app, website or category of content.
  • Set a bedtime

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Circle is designed so that each person in your house has a profile with their device(s). From there, you can set different limitations, for instance: you can allow three hours of online activity a day, but only 30 minutes of that can be YouTube and no activity after 8pm. You can also choose to block YouTube altogether or even the newly-debated app, Snapchat. The limits are across all devices so that an individual can’t do 30 minutes of a game on their iPad, then jump to their computer for more.

Content Filtering + Ad Blocking

You can use pre-set content levels for each family member, from Pre-K, Kid, Teen, Adult or None. From there, you can customize to meet your needs.  For example, with the “Kid” level, Club Penguin, Disney and Minecraft are allowed, but if you prefer to disable Minecraft, you can do so with the flick of a switch. Depending on the level you choose, it will block websites, they provide a long list of categories. You can even spare yourself from content that you don’t want to see. If there’s a site that’s blocked but is acceptable for your child, you can manually grant access to that site.

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In the Content Filter settings, you can turn on Google safe search, YouTube restricted mode, and Ad blocking. This didn’t cut out ads 100% but it’s definitely better than nothing.

Insights

The reporting under “Insights” shows you how long each family member spent online each day, week, and month, going back one month.  You can see which sites were visited, and which sites were blocked by the content filters.  From there, you can easily unblock a site, if needed.

Pause the Internet

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Yep, that’s right.  You can pause the internet for everyone, or for a certain family member, or for a certain family member’s device. So if Bobby has been told to come to the table for dinner, and won’t turn the Netflix show off, you can pause the Internet for Bobby. There are a variety of ways to assign devices so you can just pause the Internet for all the kids in the house or parents as well if you catch yourself checking your phone during family game night.

Conclusion

For $100 and no subscription fee, I think Circle with Disney is well worth it. We’re  looking forward to seeing the device staying current and get better with time (we’ve noticed a few App updates since we’ve received ours). The app is super easy to use and I love the ability to pause the internet on the fly without having to know how to set up a guest network on my router.

However, there are some things you need to know before purchasing your unit. The Circle does not give any control for games (apps) that don’t rely on the Internet so parents must still be mindful of time spent on screens. For those of you who have kids with iPhones, Circle does not control or account for 3G/4G activity. Circle Go is in product development and is supposed to be the solution for this problem. Additionally, Circle does not have control over phone calls, texts, or social media activity.

Buy Circle with Disney

» REVIEW: Sonos PLAY:5 (2015) Review

Disclaimer: The folks at Sonos kindly allowed us a Play:5 unit for review. As always, the opinions are my own.

A frustrated AirPlay customer turned happy Sonos family.

We love playing music in our house. The ability to play music in any room and control it from my phone is great for the times I just want to listen to my favorite Spotify playlist by myself or when the kids request an impromptu dance party to some Kidz Bop. For years, we had multiple AirPlay speakers (compatible with Apple iTunes) throughout the house but became frustrated at music dropping too frequently. So in my search for a better solution, I came upon Sonos.

Some might say the Sonos speaker system can be pretty pricey but if you listen to home audio as much as we do, you might agree that it’s worth the investment.

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Installation + Setup

I know that not all moms care about decibels and sound quality (although Sonos is great!) but would rather read about how easy, good and practical a product is for their house. The good news is you can plug in, get connected to your wireless router, and begin playing music anywhere in your house in about 5 minutes. Similar to the Nest Thermostat, the iPhone app walks you through step-by-step instructions (including Trueplay which uses your iPhone to adjust how each woofer and tweeter produces sound based on your room layout).

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Best Features

There are lots of things to love about Sonos and the Play:5 but here are some of my favorite:

  • The unit is always on so we never have to power the speaker(s) on before playing any music. This was always a hassle with our former AirPlay speakers (we would have to turn them on and wait to begin playing music and the speakers would shut off after idling for so long). There’s even an alarm and sleep mode with the Sonos speakers. Fun addition.
  • When you have more than one unit, you can play different music in different rooms or pair the speakers to play the same music.
  • The Sonos system integrates nicely with your computer’s music library, almost all streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Now Music, and Amazon.

Accessibility Review

As with most products we want to make sure that our blind daughter will be able to use this speaker to find and play music, especially as she grows older and more independent. Before trying out the Play:5, I was connected to a Sonos employee (thanks, Todd!) who graciously spent time answering questions and guiding us through the process. Their commitment to accessibility is one of the main reasons we’re investing in this system. As an iPhone user, Sonos works great with VoiceOver. This is a big deal as music and (listening to) movies are a great way for Lola to be included and participate in our family activities.

Conclusion

The Play:5 is just the beginning of our Sonos journey. You’re never waiting on the speaker (see AirPlay notes above), it’s always waiting on you. The response from the app is so fast that you can skip a song or change the volume and go back to your business. I’m most happy to report that we’ve had zero(!) drops in audio in now over two weeks of use. This was almost a daily occurrence with AirPlay. I prefer the iTunes interface but it might be because I’ve lived in it for so long now. It will take some time but we’re ready to add speakers to other areas of our home already.

Sonos website

Buy Sonos on Amazon

» REVIEW: Nest Thermostat, 3rd Generation


A thermostat shouldn’t be this fun.

But thankfully that’s not the only reason we finally decided to add this smart device to our home.

If you search “smart thermostat” you’ll find that there are tons of options ranging from $99-$299. After reading countless reviews, and taking into account that Nest is the oldest player in the smart thermostat game, we ended up with the Nest Thermostat. It is one of the more expensive options out there but according to Nest, a unit will pay for itself in about two years.

The last thing I think about when leaving the house is changing the thermostat. With kids, we rush out the door. It’s a race against the clock to get dressed, find matching shoes, find matching socks (or not), let the dog out, find the keys and purse… and then there’s always the one kid that has to poop. The Nest saves the day with smart technology that helps me plan ahead or lower the temp later once we are out the door and the charades are over.

Installation + Setup

The Nest is definitely the most fun and stylish smart thermostat out there. And I’m happy to report that it is super easy to install. There are so many different situations as far as hvac units and thermostats go, keep in mind that I’m sharing our personal experience with installing the unit.

Most homes have a rectangular-shaped thermostat. The Nest comes with a plate that you can place behind the round unit to cover up the impression and any screw holes left by the old thermostat. Your other alternative is to patch and paint the wall to avoid having to use the plate. I took the latter route because I wanted to keep the look sleek and minimal. It actually took longer to prep the wall than it did to install the Nest! Total installation and setup time (not including patching and painting the wall): 30 minutes.

We took note of which wires our current system used (the instruction manual came with stickers to mark them), removed the old thermostat, screwed the new thermostat on, then reconnected the existing wires to the corresponding letters marked on the Nest. I even e-mailed Nest a picture of our old thermostat and they e-mailed me back two days later giving me a diagram of what my wires should look like with the Nest.

Once the unit was powered on, I was guided through the step-by-step setup on the unit and it was ready to go. The app was just as easy to install on my phone.

Fun Features

I won’t address all the things the Nest does, but these are definitely my favorite:

  • The ability to change the temperature with my iPhone before going to sleep or just before getting out of bed in the morning is close to life changing.
  • We haven’t had to do this yet… but the ability to double check that we changed the thermostat after leaving the house for a long trip is very reassuring. Additionally, Nest has an auto-away feature that will automatically change to a temperature you preset if the Nest senses that you’re away. It won’t engage at night so don’t worry, you won’t have to wake up at 2:00 AM to tell it you’re still home.
  • It’s called a learning thermostat for a reason. Our schedule is pretty unpredictable but the Nest has still done a great job of learning our habits over time and changes temperature on it’s own. I was worried about this feature as I didn’t think it would actually “learn” our habits. If this were the case, you could disable it.

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Conclusion

I may be easy to please because it’s winter time, but being able to bump the heat up before getting out of bed is a pretty amazing feeling. I don’t use the scheduling function yet but that’s partly due to the fact that it’s always been a pain on the old thermostats to set up. It’s about 100x faster doing it on your computer through your nest.com account. We’ve enjoyed the convenience and the eye candy on the wall so far. Only time will tell if we see the $100+/year cost savings but we’re trusting Nest and all the other reviews out there.

Nest website
Buy Nest Thermostat on Amazon

» REVIEW: Sleep Guardian (for Night Terrors)

Disclaimer: The folks at Lully kindly allowed us a Sleep Guardian unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

It started early for Charlotte. She didn’t sleep well as a newborn because she spent some extended time in the hospital and then came home with a little glow-worm light when her bilirubin levels just wouldn’t go down. She wanted to sleep, she would have been a great sleeper, there was just too much going on for her to get comfortable. Her sleep patterns were constantly interrupted. As the toddler years came around her sleep patterns became worse. We started seeing true night terrors. If you’re wondering what a night terror is (it’s not the same thing as a nightmare), you can find an explanation hereor you’re still not sure if your child has a night terror or something else, you can click here. She was scary and screaming during many of them. By first grade, she was having them almost daily. We began to notice that he more active she was during the day, the more her night terrors would occur. Not only are night terrors scary as a parent, they prevent children from getting the best sleep possible, which can cause fatigue and affect their whole day.

We recently discovered Lully’s Sleep Guardian (FYI: Lully is the company and Sleep Guardian is the product) and decided to give it a shot based on some other great things we’d heard.

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How it Works

The Sleep Guardian is based on a tried-and-true technique called scheduled awakenings. Simply put, you wake your child 15-30 minutes before their night terrors typically occur. This interrupts the unhealthy sleep cycle and prevents night terrors. Starting back in 1988, clinical studies have shown that this method has reduced 90% of night terrors.

Set up

Sleep Guardian is a simple device that goes under your child’s mattress that vibrates fairly vigorously around the time your child should be entering into the unhealthy deep sleep that occurs before night terrors, typically 1-3 hours after the child goes to bed.

Opening, placing the unit under the mattress and plugging it in takes less than five minutes. After that, I had to download the iPhone app, set up an account and go through a series of screens to get everything up and running.

iPhone App

After downloading and creating an account, the phone connects to the unit via Bluetooth. Without going into details, essentially the app is used to do everything at this point: record (bedtimes, night terrors, and when Sleep Guardian is turned on), notify you when to turn the Sleep Guardian on (this was very helpful), and to actually turn the unit on. Over time, the calendar allows you to see which nights your child had night terrors and which nights he/she didn’t (blue *no night terror* vs. pink *night terror* on the calendar screenshot below). Based off of the data you record (be diligent about it), Sleep Guardian adjusts what time you should turn the unit on until it gets your child’s sleep cycle right.

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Turning on Sleep Guardian does require you to be awake, which may be a downside, but at least you can do it from your phone, without having to move unless you’re out of the 32-foot Bluetooth range. The unit will vibrate for a few minutes then turn itself off. This will wake your child up and break the sleep cycle, then he/she will just roll over and go back to bed. In the settings, there’s a sensitivity level that you can change to make it vibrate enough to wake them up but light enough to avoid annoying them. This feature you have to just tweak the first few nights to get it right for your child.

Conclusion

Night terrors can be super scary. Kids demand weird things, scream and hit and cry excessively. They can’t really be woken up, as it can be dangerous. As Dr. Andy Rink (one of the co-founders of Lully) explained it, 90% of their brain is still asleep; it’s only the primary motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement and vocalization) that’s awake. Charlotte never remembers the episode, but we surely do. We never sleep  well when she is awake and screaming.

The Sleep Guardian is the first proven non-medication solution to stop night terrors. This was very attractive to us because we always seek non-medicinal routes of care before choosing medication. I am thrilled we discovered and tried the Sleep Guardian. It wasn’t uncommon that Charlotte would have a night terror five out of seven nights. This little device has greatly impacted the way Charlotte sleeps and I am happy to report that after using and tweaking the Sleep Guardian’s settings for a couple months, she has only had two in the last 14 days.

Lully Sleep Guardian website
Buy on Amazon

» REVIEW: Canary Home Security

Disclaimer: The folks at Canary kindly provided us a security unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

OK. True story. This past summer when we were visiting Houston, we had a good friend check on our house a few times a day and let the dog out. One Sunday afternoon, we were visiting the Houston Zoo, when we started getting text messages about our house: “Did you make your bed before you left?”, “Did you have a glass of water on your nightstand?”, “Was your sun room open?” As the text conversation continued, the worst thoughts poured over me. Did someone break into our house? Did they sleep in our bed and drink a glass of water? Let’s hope it was just Goldilocks… turns out it was a door with a latch just loose enough to re-open if the wind was just right, a dog that loves to wrestle with the comforter and a friend dropping by to pick up some essential oils.

If only we had a Canary back then…

Whether you have an existing alarm system or not, the Canary is a useful and surprisingly fun gadget for the home. There are tons of wireless home security options in the market but I was led to Canary by doing my own research online. Here’s my review for us moms:

Set up

First of all, after looking and purchasing online, the Canary is much smaller than I thought it would be. The unit is about the size of a 12 oz. can (but slightly taller) that’s easy to move around should you need to.

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To sync the device to your home’s Wi-Fi network, all you have to do is download the app to your phone and follow the step-by-step instructions on the app. You’ll see a pretty yellow glow when you’ve successfully paired Canary to your Wi-Fi network. Once the app was downloaded, I was able to get everything up and running in about five minutes! (and yes that’s a toiler paper roll next to the pumpkin, real life y’all)

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Night Vision

(Night Vision)

Three Modes

There are three modes on the Canary: Armed, Disarmed and Privacy. Armed means you’ll get a mobile notification each time the Canary detects something unusual while you’re away, and send you a video clip of what it saw. Disarmed means it can still detect the motions as before, but will not send you alerts. You can still go back and watch these recorded clips. Privacy is designed for when you are home and do not want the Canary recording you (we have yet to use this function). The Canary iPhone app will use geo location to automatically arm itself when you leave the house, and disarm itself when you arrive home. This is a great feature and allowing the app to use my location 24/7 does not kill my phone battery! You can also add as many phones as needed so the Canary will know when to arm/disarm.

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Alerts

For a while we kept getting false alerts when the sun setting would reflect light in a way that confused the Canary. We relocated the unit and have had better success. If we ever did get a legit notification and noticed an intruder, the Canary app allows you to set off a 90+ db siren. Even more effective if we had more units (you can have up to four). You can also call a local ambulance, police, or fire station right out of the app if needed.

Conclusion

Especially with children, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Canary is a great alternative or addition to a traditional wired system (plus they just lowered the price to $200). State Farm also just lowered our home owners insurance by $80/year so the unit will practically pay for itself, all we had to do was request a letter from Canary. It’s fun to go back and watch the kids or dogs on occasion, especially if a disagreement starts or if you want to determine exactly when the two boys crawled in bed with mom and dad. After using a single unit for a couple months, I’m eager to add a second and maybe even a third unit to cover more of our house.

Canary website
Buy on Amazon

REVIEW: Bluetooth Trackers (Never Lose Your Kids Again?)

Disclaimer: The folks at XY Find It Beacon and My Buddy Tag very kindly provided their bluetooth tags for this comparison review. As always, the opinions are my own.

Probably like many of you, I have seen banner ads all over the internet for a product called TILE. Attach these trackers to things you don’t want to lose: keys, wallet, purse, laptop bag, camera, luggage, etc. Download the app on your phone and be notified whenever the item is out of range and be able to see just about how close (or far) you are to retrieve your belongings. What a great idea!

With four, very quick, little ones I began to wonder if the TILE would work well on kids. It could be great for camping or public parks… mainly for the older children as our attention is often on the youngest one. After searching the Internet, I discovered there are a ton of companies that make this type of product. Over the past month, I’ve been able to try out the XY Find It Smart Beacon and My Buddy Tag.

What both of these do:
You attach these trackers to things you don’t want to lose: keys, wallet, purse, laptop bag, camera, luggage, TV remote…or in my case, children.

Download the tracker’s app to connect the tracker with your iPhone or Android phone. If the tracker is within Bluetooth range — about 33 feet — all is well. If you and your tracker get separated, though, your phone lets you know with a message and/or sound.

Buddy Tag

Buddy Tag

XY Find It Beacon

XY Find It Beacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you walk around, a graph on your phone screen shows you if you’re getting closer to the tracker or farther from it, like the old “warmer, colder” game. These products won’t tell you which direction an item is from you, just the general distance.

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Buddy Tag

XY Find It Beacon

XY Find It Beacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your phone loses connection with one or more of your items, you will get an app notification or email with the time and map locations when your tag was last seen by the app.

Look and feel: The Buddy Tag is made specific for children so they have a variety of wristbands that you can choose from. The designs are not very good and actually call attention to themselves, where I’d rather them be as discreet as possible. You can remove the tag and attach it other ways but you’ll lose one of the unique benefits of Buddy Tag (read below). The XY Find It comes as a stand-alone tag. (They are both about 1/3″ thick and the width of a quarter)

Unique Features of Buddy Tag:

Water Alert: The Buddy Tag has a water alert feature that only works when the wristband is worn. The wristband has to be worn, and it has to be submersed into enough mass of water for the alarm to sound. We tested it out in a bathtub of water and an 8 year old. Every time his hand was submersed under water the alarm went off (it really did work!). It’s designed so you don’t get an alert to sound when the child is just washing hands.

Panic Button: Okay, this is also known as the button that you don’t want your kids to know about. Your children will be pressing the panic button non-stop just to annoy you. Ours did that, so I disabled the panic alarm feature in the app. I can see why they would want to add that feature but this would only work for older children mature enough to understand the importance of it. The XY Find It is not a product designed specifically for children so it does not have this feature.

Battery: The battery should last about a year. Because of the waterproof feature of the Buddy Tag, you cannot replace it on your own. They do guarantee at least 12 months of battery life so if a unit dies within the 12 months, the company should replace the unit.

Unique Features of XY Find It Beacon:

Built-in Speaker: Because the primary use of the XY Find It is using it for items like keys or purses, there is a speaker that you can set off in order to help find your item. However we found that it isn’t very loud. If you’re anywhere outside of your home, you may not even be able to hear it with all the background noise beyond your control.

Battery: The battery should last about six months. Unlike the Buddy Tag, you can replace the CR2032 battery on your own.

Summary:

Whether you’re trying to keep tabs on your keys or your kids, these little things are pretty cool. Neither of the brands I tried drained my phone battery a ton and for $25-$50, it’s worth preventing the headache of looking for keys or panicking over “lost” children in public areas. This would have come in super handy when Elliott silently hid under a futon at Nana’s house. We did in fact panic and almost called the police by the time he made his way out.

Check out XY Find It Smart Beacon and My Buddy Tag if you’re in the market for one.

Father’s Day Gift Guide: 2015

06-16-2015: Find @goodbye_normal on Instagram for a giveaway!

It’s that time of the year again. Here are some favorites of mine:

1. Just Porter: A pack that gives back – High-quality backpacks that have great design and functional qualities. For each backpack purchased, Just Porter manufactures a “give bag” filled with school supplies for a child in need. These give bags are manufactured locally and the supplies are purchased from local markets, promoting a sustainable solution in the areas they give. We love the Piko for daily commuting. Look for our full review in the coming weeks. Get it on Amazon.

2. SWAP Socks: Mismatch for a purpose – Purposely mismatched socks that come in packs of 4. They serve as an eye-catching, wearable statement and reminder to support the movement to end preventable blindness. Each (HIGH QUALITY) pack gives you the freedom to swap styles around, and create 6 unique pairs to choose from. Each pack sold funds an eye care service for a person in need. Buying socks for Father’s Day can be cool. (Read our full review here and use code 25OFFNEW for 25% off new orders!)

3. SOCO Hammocks: Kick back give back – I gifted Calvin an ENO last year but learned about SOCO a few months ago. After the cost of the hammock and straps, the cost and quality for both end up being about the same. However, the setup for SOCO is faster and the straps (made in USA) provide six more feet of hanging capability vs. ENO Atlas straps. Lastly, SOCO gives 10% of sales back to non profit organizations. Our full review is coming soon but you should get one now. Get it on Amazon.

4. Drink for Good: Cause bottles –  Each bottle represents a unique cause and proceeds from every sale go to different charities. All bottles are bpa-free, made of recycled materials and made in the USA. The designs speak for themselves. A couple of our favorite cause bottles are adoption and recovery.

5. Sanuk: Never uncomfortable – We’ve got a busy summer of camping and trips upon us so Calvin was looking for a great pair of slip on shoes that were comfortable. He loves wearing TOMS but needed something with a little bit more support. We landed on the Casas ($55) and he’s loving them so far…in a month or so we’re going to give an update on how they hold up. Get it on Amazon. Ladies, while you’re at it, pick yourself up some Yoga Slings, I love ’em!

6. Dropcam: Simple video monitoring – A great indoor camera that literally takes minutes to set up. The phone app can notify you of sound or motion detection if you are away from home in addition to having a great night vision feature. If this was available years ago, we would’ve even considered using this as a baby monitor and not have to get rid of it after the baby stage. Get it on Amazon. (You can read a full review via At Home in the Future)

7. Fitbit Flex: Set a goal and go – Among my friends, this seems to be the most popular model. This slim, stylish device tracks steps, distance, and calories burned and shows you how you’re stacking up against daily goals. At night, it tracks your sleep cycle, helps you learn how to sleep better, and wakes you silently in the morning. Access your stats anytime on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can even compete with friends and family. Get it on Amazon.

8. Keysmart: Less keychain bulk – This one’s pretty simple. Put your keys into a swiss army style holder made out of aircraft grade aluminum. Be aware that it won’t hold your car keys or any others with a big rubber piece attached to it. Also, don’t get the 2-4 key default model because it’s too small, you want to at least add the 2-10 key option. There are other add-ons available, such as USB drive and bottle opener. Bonus fact, these are also made in the USA. Get it on Amazon.

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