Saturday, May 21, 2016

#SPONSORED: Five Travel Apps To Make Summer Travel Fun

Disclosure: As part of the Better Moments Blogger Brigade Program, I did receive compensation for this post. The opinions expressed here are mine and nobody else's. I have been a U.S. Cellular Customer for 15+ years.

OK~ Memorial Day is around the corner and families and friends are packing their bags to kick off the summer travel season. More and more families are relying on smart phones when it comes to making travel plans. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 76 percent of smartphone owners used their smartphone to assist in travel plans in 2015, up from 68 percent in 2014.

Keep your family safe while traveling during this busy travel season, by talking to your kids about being safe online, including the U.S. Cellular parent/child agreement. It's no secret, when kids know that they can talk to their parents, everyone is safer when it comes to online safety.

We have put together a helpful list of travel apps for you to use, making your summer travel season super fun and easy. If you find yourself an hour from your destination for the day, remember your smartphone can help you book your hotel room for the night.

TRIPIT

TripIt is actually one of my favorite travel apps of all time. By forwarding confirmation emails from airlines, hotels and restaurants,



TripIt creates a detailed itinerary in one place. Users can access their plans on any device. The app also links to Google Maps to provide directions. How easy is that? I love how easy this app is to use, simply one of my all time favorites.

UBER

Uber is another easy app to use. I recently used this app and loved the convenience of it. Users can avoid taxi lines and get a reliable ride in minutes from Uber.



The app connects to a phone’s GPS signal to find a driver near its location and provides a fare estimate. Users also can watch their driver arrive and leave anonymous feedback for future customers. The downfall is that Uber is not in smaller communities. If you are like me, you like to venture off the beaten path, so don't plan on using Uber unless you are in a busy city.

CURRENCY CONVERTER

If your summer travel plans are taking you to another country, Currency Converter will help you out tremendously.



Traveling outside the United States can present a different set of travel challenges, including determining the exchange rate. This app contains more than 190 currencies and updates exchange rates frequently. Users also can set favorites used most often for quick access. 

OPEN TABLE

Foodie alert! If you are a foodie, Open Table is your app. New food and restaurants are often highlights of any trip and finding the best options in a new city can be a challenge sometimes.



With this app, travelers can read reviews, look at menus and make reservations. If plans change, travelers can make adjustments through the app.

DROPBOX

Dropbox is another one of my all time favorite apps. This is commonly used to share work files and store other important documents, and it can be used for travel as well.



Create a picture folder to upload photos at the end of each day. This frees up memory on a device and ensures users have properly stored their memories. Store your photos anytime, anywhere. Want to share a photo you took sometime ago, head on over to Dropbox and share it to social media. Super easy to use and it's an app that you will be glad to have.

I find myself taking a lot of photos, as my Samsung Galaxy S7 takes some really awesome photos. The colors are vibrant and I'm please with several stunning photos to choose from.



With these handy travel apps on board, I never have to worry about a storage issue with my smartphone.

Enjoy the summer travel season and I have no doubt, it will be the best one ever with your Samsung Galaxy S7 and a few awesome travel apps on board. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Charles City Middle School Looks To Be Inviting To All Students Of The 21st Century And Beyond

OK~ I recently had the opportunity to tour the new Charles City, Iowa, Middle School, which is currently under construction. This building literally took my breath away. The fun started upon entering. Yep, hard hats and all!



This is a school that will meet the needs of kids today, as well as those in the future. This state of the art school, is not only energy efficient, but in my opinion, it's also student efficient. There are a lot of wide open spaces, natural light and even an indoor fitness trail. In the midwest, this is a must! Think of the learning opportunities that an indoor fitness trail has to offer. The natural lighting that surrounds this trail really caught my attention. I'm not a fan of the long, dark cold winters that we have in Iowa, and I'm sure many students are not either. This area gives a feeling of warmth and energy, which makes many of us tired in the winter. During the warmer months, I'm sure the outdoor patio/balcony area will be embraced by everyone.



Classrooms are set up so they can be smaller and even larger, with a retractable wall. The sound booths look to be state of the art and offer unique learning opportunities. Projectors and white boards are strategically placed throughout the school to enhance learning opportunities. I noticed that the walls were different colors here and there. Our group was informed that there was some psychology behind the color choices, which made a lot of sense to me.


Kids in the Charles City school district are learning in a way that meets their individual needs. School Superintendent Dr. Cox stated that  "Special education is a service not a destination." So true... if only all school districts believed this.

I can't wait to see this new building unfold here in North Iowa. I almost forgot to mention that the kids spoke and the district listened. Here's the tree house that will be in the Charles City Middle School.


There is not another school building like this in the state of Iowa. The building does not make a great school, but when you partner a hi-tech building with teachers that want to teach in today's world, it's a win/win for everyone in North Iowa. After All, It's All in a Mom's Day, Right?

* Thank you to the team of Charles City school professionals for hosting myself and the North Iowa Bloggers.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Stacey Honowitz Offers Two Books For Parents To Lead The Discussion With Their Kids On Keeping Their Private Parts Private

OK~ There is no time like the present to focus on keeping our kids safe. We have months and days designated throughout the year to promote keeping our kids safe. In all reality, shouldn't this be something that we all should care about all 365 days of the year? With online activity rising like crazy, due to social media; it's more important than ever to stay on your toes and open the conversation at a very young age.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Stacey Honowitz over the course of the past four years and I can tell you that she is passionate about what she does. Stacey believes that all kids should be safe, be it online and/or offline.



Stacey Honowitz has worked with the Florida State Attorney's Office of Sex Crimes and Child Abuse for 21 years. She appears regularly on CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, FOX News as a Legal Analyst and has been featured on Dateline NBC, CBS News 48 Hours, and Good Morning America. Did you know that children's sex crimes are the fastest growing sex crimes in the country? Yet it's something we fail to talk about.

If you are a parent wondering how you can have a discussion with your kids. Stacey has written two children's books that can help you jump start the conversation.

My Privates are Private and Genius With A Penis, Don't Touch are two books that Stacey has written. You can easily purchase them from Amazon and let the conversation begin.


Stacey offers tips and advice for families all across the country. Here's insight as to what parents should watch for.

What changes in a child's behavior should raise a red flag for parents?
Some behaviors in small children are nightmares, bed wetting, a constant need to be with you, a fear when you go to change them, and a general fear of staying alone with the person after they never had a problem before. I don't like to generalize, because some of these behaviors are indicative of other issues, but sometimes a decline of grades in older kids, and a lack of enthusiasm for things warrant a discussion. It might not be abuse, but certainly if something doesn't sit right with you, make sure and ask if they feel uncomfortable about something and want to share it.


The lesson here is to be vigilant as a parent. It's ok to be comfortable, but it's never ok to accept things for the way they "should" be when it comes to our kids and their safety. Connect with parents in your area and open the discussion. Stacey's books are a great way to begin the conversation and start talking about a topic that nobody wants to address.

Our kids are worth talking about and when it comes to keeping them safe, communities everywhere should have resources available for parents 24/7.  After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Iowa Is An Agriculture State: Let's Celebrate Our Way Of Life

OK~ I'm an Iowa farm girl and proud of the fact that my family has deep roots in agriculture. Farming is a way of life and it's also a great way to make a living. That includes the ability to shop in local stores, pay local taxes, volunteer on a local basis and the ability to give back monetarily.

Iowa is an agriculture state and it baffles me that somewhere along the way, we stopped educating our kids on where their food comes from. Four years ago, I was speaking at a conference in Des Moines and a young 20 something year old man, stood up and said he had always thought hamburger came from a package in the grocery store. It never once occurred to him that hamburger involved a cow. Something so simple to this Iowa farm girl, yet so complicated to someone who lives in the midwest.

Spring time is beautiful.... the apple trees look like this!




I hope the things that we are doing in North Iowa are educating folks on why agriculture does matter in our community. At the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club several farmers attend and they are using social media to tell their stories from the farm. I'd also like to think that local folks would not fear them and not be afraid to ask questions. Farmers are more than willing to show you what they do and how they live on the farm.  Laura of Life On Skyview is educating kids about agriculture through Facetime, how cool is that? There is no excuse for any school not to have ag in the classroom, as technology makes it all possible.

This time 30+ years ago, I was working on 4-H projects for the North Iowa Fair. I was busy breaking a calf, feeding baby chickens and deciding on what I would sew for my fair projects. Life seemed simpler then, as there was no social media or cell phones. 4-H and bean walking consumed my summers. The price tag of those summers= priceless!

We have a lot of awesome things in Iowa. We have state parks that offer amazing fishing and hiking opportunities. Family festivals are all around us. We offer wide open spaces where you can actually have a picnic in the outdoors and not have several people around you. Camping is in several corners of our state, as well as many boating opportunities. 

Many people in Iowa do not work directly on the farm, but I can tell you that the life of the farmer directly impacts how well their business will do year in and year out. 



If there is one thing I have recently learned in North Iowa, is the fact that many people do not have the ability to appreciate all farmers. A farmer is a farmer. Many grow corn, soybeans, onions, strawberries, chickens, pigs, cows and even popcorn in North Iowa. Let's ban together and support all farmers. There is no need to separate any of them. I for one, am extremely grateful that I live in a country where I have a gazillion food choices. I can choose to purchase a variety of foods, which I think is pretty cool. 

I'm also proud of the fact that I can call Iowa home. Here is where I have fresh air, wide open spaces and a friendly community to call home. It's fun to see people come together one day a month at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. Here is where nobody judges anyone, everyone helps each other and it's a win/win. I just wish all things could be this easy. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?