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CertifiKid Field Report: Circle with Disney

02.05.16

Today’s CertifiKid Field Report comes from Team Member Jennifer - mom of three (2 tweens and an 8 year old) who love their digital devices. Can Circle with Disney revolutionize the internet for this wifi family and yours? Let’s see.


I had been combing the web for what seemed like forever, in an a frantic search for apps and devices to help manage our family's internet content and screen time. Nothing seemed to fit the bill. Then I found Circle with Disney.


On paper it looked like everything I wanted...and more. Circle arrived in the mail on a Saturday morning in a small Tiffany Blue box. Inside was the magic that would change everything. One click on the app was all it took. Within seconds a cacophony of howls floated down the stairs.


“Maaaa! What did you to do the wifi?! Stop it. This isn’t fair!”   


That one click let me pause the internet, getting the attention of my whole family. Oh, the power! From there my husband was onboard and couldn’t wait to see what else this amazing little contraption could do.

 

(Circle with Disney device in Jennifer's home. Takes up almost no space and blends right in.)


Great Things Come in Small Packages (with easy instructions)


What’s more disheartening than getting a new gadget and finding out you’re going to need adapters, special batteries and a team of tech nerds to help you figure out how to work it? Take heart, Circle with Disney is up and running in three easy steps;

  • Open the box

  • Plug it in

  • Download the app

BOOM! The magic starts automatically as Circle with Disney identifies every wifi enabled device in your house. I was shocked at how many things in our home use wifi that I had forgotten about.


Make the Internet Personal (in a snap)


Every kid is different, I know mine are. I loved that within the app I could set up separate profiles for each of my kids, and the grownups too. The color coded system that Circle with Disney uses makes it a snap to set up accounts that work for each of us.


The filters work great. From my youngest’s iPad, I searched, Dick’s Sporting Goods. On the Circle-free web a search like that would have brought up all sorts of things I didn’t want my child to click on. With this power-packed tool the only search result I got was the actual Dick’s Sporting Goods website.


It’s tough to know exactly where your kids are going online and how much time they’re spending there without hovering over them constantly - as they say… ain’t nobody got time for that! Circle with Disney sends a report to the app that tells me what digital platforms my kids are visiting and how much time they’re spending there.


Were they on NatGeo researching dinosaurs for next month’s science project or watching MineCraft modding videos on YouTube? Who knows? You do, because Circle with Disney tells you. This feature is going to be a huge hit with teen parents, I know it!

 


No More Arguing (well, at least about screen time)


Family dinner has always been a big deal at our house. Getting the kids to the table on time is a big deal to me… not them. Pausing the web gets their attention faster than my coaxing and demanding ever did! Dinner’s ready, the wifi is off.


Do you struggle with getting your kids to put their kindle away and get to bed? Yeah, me too. Circle with Disney solves that problem too. Each device can have a set bedtime where it turns in by turning off for the night. Love that!


Being able to set usage limits and times when devices are off is a great tool for limiting screen time. It can also be a powerful reward system. Get your chores done, you get more time on wifi. Nailed that algebra test? You just earned unlimited screen time for one day, enjoy!


The Hiccups


I did find a few hiccups. Right now the app is only available on iOS for Apple products. Each device can only have one profile attached to it. If you share an iPad (like we do in our house) only one family member can be assigned to it. Circle with Disney only works on your in-home wifi.


That said, all of these hiccups have already been identified by the Circle with Disney team and will be ‘fixed’ shortly. An Android app is expected in early 2016, as is the ability to take your profile settings with you no matter where you’re getting your wifi.  


Beyond all the easy tech features (including a simple and easy help center website) and powerful tools that have already reimagined how my family uses the internet, I have to say that the packaging was a really nice touch. I know that doesn't seem like much but it really did help up the excitement level for me.


Thinking back on the day my Circle with Disney device arrived in that gorgeous Tiffany Blue box with a magnetic clasp, I felt like I was opening a gift. After using it, I now understand what a gift it really is.

 

~ Jennifer

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Tags: Certifikid field reports, Circle with Disney, digital parenting, internet safety, tech for families

Homemade Hot Cocoa (packet-free recipe)

02.05.16

Winter has arrived. Which isn't news to our Chicago or New York CertifiKid families (burrr.) Even our Atlanta, Los Angles and Dallas folks have had their fair share of Jack Frost nipping at their noses. This morning DC and Baltimore bundled up against single digit wind chills. With all that shivering, maybe a nice cup of hot cocoa is in order.

Before you break out that packet of powdered stuff with the dehydrated mini marshmallow-like bits in it, check out this easy recipe for packet-free hot cocoa that is as indulgent as it is warming. We're sure the kids will love it, but nobody says you can't make a batch just for you... test it out first. Yeah, that's it.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

2 cups of Milk (you can use skim or low fat)
1/2 cup cream (this has to be the full-fat stuff)
1/2 cup chocolate, grated
1 tbs sugar (optional)

In a small sauce pot over medium heat cream - stopping short of boiling it. Slowly add in chocolate whisking constantly until it's all melted into the cream. Reduce heat by half. Add in milk and sugar. Bring heat back up until your cocoa is as hot as you like it.

See, easy peasy one to threesy! Top it with some of that packet powder or ground cinnamon for a flourish. Do you have a packet-free recipe for hot cocoa? Let us know. We'd love to add it to this post with all credit to you, of course.

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Tags: recipes, family time

CertifiKid Field Report: Brain Training of Maryland

01.28.16

As parents we all know what it’s like to want the very best for your kids. That starts from the minute the line or plus sign shows up in the tiny test window. By the time we nudge them on their way out of the nest, we’ll have spent countless hours researching everything from car seats to college admissions. It’s what we do, we’re parents.

So what do you do when you find out your child has a learning challenge? You research. Find the best program for them. Then pour your heart and soul into helping them. That’s where today’s CertifiKid Field Report is rooted.

Team Member Jennifer shares her family’s personal experience at Brain Training of Maryland in Columbia.

My youngest was diagnosed with ADHD 2 years ago. After trying a few medications and modifications, it was clear that we needed to take another approach in helping our son with focus and attention, at school in particular. I stumbled across an ad for Brain Training of Maryland and noticed a few key buzz words we’d learned when our family started this journey: attention and focus, academic performance, athletic performance, impulsivity, social skills, executive function, coordination and balance.

It was like the ad was reading my mind. I was drawn to it, and curious as to whether it would be a fit for us.

I took my son to Brain Training of Maryland (BTofM) for an evaluation. Wow! I was impressed with the science, technology and methods that BTofM bases their program on. This wasn’t some “study skills and cross your fingers” type program.

If I’m being 100% honest, I was skeptical at first. But, I was also desperate to find something to help my child. Kate Ortman, the director of BTofM, suggested a few books for me to read (I read all 1,000 pages, at record speed) and after talking with her, asking questions about what I’d read, and learning more about the research and case studies that back this program up, I was convinced it was at least worth a try.

BTofM employs evidence-based technologies designed to enhance brain function for children and adults. They talked a lot about brain neuroplasticity – how the brain has the ability to create new neuropathways and change with the right tools. Those tools are like a workout for your mind. Who knew you could work out your brain? BTofM, that’s who.

So how do you workout your brain? With exercise. These aren’t like crunches, they’re actually fun things, like – listening to classical music with the Integrated Listening System (ILS), playing Fast FORword computer games and improving neurotiming with the Interactive Metronome.

At BTofM they use a multi-system approach to achieving results for improved focus and attention, reading and language comprehension – all areas where my son needed improvement.

I’d love to tell you that we went in for two sessions and the change happened like snapping your fingers. Like they say, though, nothing worth having ever comes easy. The results I was hoping for didn’t come right away, but I stuck with it. I took my son to sessions regularly, anywhere from 1-3 times per week. BTofM’s certified brain trainers expertly administered a trifecta of exercises and I worked with him at home – five days a week.

We stuck with it for 5 months, through the summer, before we saw significant changes. We started to see small improvements, but when the new school year came it was IMMEDIATELY clear to me that all our diligence and hard work had paid off. It was like a whole new world opened up to him and us.

I received GLOWING reports from teachers about his attention and focus in class as well as improved writing skill and handwriting. In addition, his balance and neurotiming greatly improved – he now rides a 2 wheel bike and his social skills are blossoming!

While my son’s specific diagnosis was ADHD, I learned from the staff at BTofM that Brain Training is appropriate for many other conditions and learning struggles or disabilities, like dyslexia, concussion and stroke recovery. It’s even had great results for athletes that want peak performance and everyday people hoping to flex those brain muscles.

My advice, give it a try. The staff is wonderful, you’ll have their support every step of the way.

- Jennifer (CertifiKid Team Member from Columbia - and a very proud mom)

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Tags: Certifikid field reports, reviews, Brain Training

Snowzilla 2016 - Freebies and a Giveaway!

01.23.16

Thanks so much to all the CertifiKid families who played along with our CertifiKid Snowzilla fun. We loved seeing all the ADORABE that came in! Picking just five winners was hard... like really hard!

The winners are... 

This mom was hillairous - and brilliant - with her wine slushy.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER

Tiny Dinos, towering plies of snow, lots of laughs and even a dream house...

Winners of Disney on Ice and Crayola Factory Tickets

Thanks for showing us your Snowzilla fun. This giveaway is closed, but you can still have a blast with your Snowzilla signs while the snow lasts!

Download your "Survived Snowzilla 2016" FREE printables

For Kids HERE

For Grown Ups HERE

Then have fun capturing the memories and recording just how much snow Snowzilla dropped in your back yard.

Get creative with your photos and share them with us for a chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Grand Prize - $100 in CertifiKid credit to spend on ANYTHING you want!
  • 5 Tickets to Disney on Ice 
  • 4 Tickets to Crayola Factory

We will be selecting 6 winning families on Friday, January 29, 2016. These lucky families will then be featured along with other Snowzilla photos on our Blog. All you need to do to enter is:

  • Print out your favorite Snowzilla signs (click HERE or GET FREE NOW above)
  • Fill in the blank on the sign (the little white box)
  • Take a picture of your family having a blast and holding up your sign(s) and
  • Post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CertifiKidSnowzilla
- See more at: http://www.certifikid.com/deal/20393/preview#sthash.eYKmG6v6.dpuf

Get creative with your photos and share them with us for a chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Grand Prize - $100 in CertifiKid credit to spend on ANYTHING you want!
  • 5 Tickets to Disney on Ice 
  • 4 Tickets to Crayola Factory

We will be selecting 5 winning families on Friday, January 29, 2016. These lucky families will then be featured along with other Snowzilla photos right here on our Blog!

All you need to do to enter is:

  • Print out your favorite Snowzilla signs 
  • Fill in the blank on the sign (the little white box)
  • Take a picture of your family having a blast and holding up your sign(s) and
  • Post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CertifiKidSnowzilla

So stop shoveling and start snapping those photos right now!

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Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: freebies, giveaways, snowzilla, family fun

CertifiKid Field Report: Kinsa Smart Thermometer

01.22.16

When you were a kid, did your mom have to keep the household thermometer under tight security? Mine did. Depending on how old you are (and, I’m not revealing anything here) those thermometers could have contained actual Mercury. Really!


The upside? My mom always knew where the thermometer was. That’s not quite the case with the digital one I have. I can never find the darn thing when I need it. I’ve bought so many just because I couldn’t find the last one! In my defense it’s not like you use one everyday, like a cell phone.


When we ran the deal with Kinsa - the smartphone thermometer- I had to buy it and give it a try. (yes, we buy our own deals!) At the very least I’d always know where my iPhone was.

 

First off, setting the Kinsa up is super easy. I downloaded the app, entered some info, plugged in the attachment and it was ready to go. Two days after I did that one of my kids was conscientious enough to get sick so I could use my fancy new Kinsa. Such nice kids I have.


My daughter has never been a fan of having her temperature taken but getting to “pop” bubbles on my iPhone while she waited turned it into a game. Seeing your child happy even for a minute while they’re sick is a total win in my book.

 


Once you record their temp the app gives you the option to click on other symptoms they have. That feature is really great in the event that you have to make a trip to pediatrician. Nothing to remember, no notes to write and then lose, no nurse shaking their head at you because you can’t recall whether they had the chills or not.


As kids never seem to get sick alone - inevitably just as soon as one is feeling better the other one starts to run a fever-- the fact that the Kinsa app lets you record information for more than one person is a big plus in my book.  


When you get back home you can use the app to continue recording symptoms, temps and dosages. All great things to have on hand when the doctor calls to check on your munchkin’s progress.


Getting all that in an easy to use package at a great price is like the first time you can taste food again after a cold…. simply, awesome.

Now let’s hope I don’t lose the thermometer attachment.

Jamie (CertifiKid Founder and CEO)

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Tags: certifikid field reports, field reports, products we love, kinsa, from our ceo

CertifiKid Field Report: SmartyPants Vitamins

12.14.15

Confession time! We make sure our kids take their vitamins every day, but we aren’t so good about doing that ourselves. Then along came the adult gummy vitamin!


Barbara and her family recently tried out a vitamin called SmartyPants (how cute is that name?!). She and her husband, as well as their six- and eight-year-old children, submitted the following Field Report.


Why Did You Want to Try SmartyPants?

The name got me giggling and I thought I’d give them a try. Plus, the pediatrician suggested that there are better vitamins on the market than the ones I am currently giving my children.


Who in Your Family Took Them?

We ALL gave it a go. My husband, both kids and I.


What Did You/They Think?

You’ve got two types of gummies to choose from with SmartyPants. One has a coating on it that reminded me of a gumdrop. That one the kids seemed to enjoy most, maybe because it was “sparkly.” Kids and shiny objects, eh? They both have a slight fruity flavor but aren’t as sweet as candy, which is a good thing.


The texture isn’t too rubbery and they go down pretty easy. Certainly far easier than a big ol’ horse-pill vitamin or a powdery solid chewable.


What was Your/Their Favorite Feature?

Naturally, the kids liked that they were gummies--because gummies are fun-- and that they tasted good. I felt great about the fact that SmartyPants uses environmentally safe sources for the Omega 3s DHA & EPA supplements, which are so important. Plus, getting that energy boosting B12 in there is a busy-parent bonus!


I’d been taking a “one-a-day” vitamins most days, thinking that I was getting everything I needed. Then I’d take a fiber supplement and extra calcium. As it turns out, SmartyPants is the only premium multi-vitamin out there that gives you four of the key supplements you need in one little yummy gummy. Depending on which one you chose, that can include the fiber and calcium! So no extra bottles and pills to swallow.


Was there Something About SmartyPants You’d Say Could be Improved?  

While having a tasty gummy as opposed to swallowing two to three pills a day was a nice change, the daily adult dose of SmartyPants is six gummies. Don’t get me wrong; I liked the taste and texture, but taking six was a little bit much. It would be nice if they could make the adult dose less.


My six-year-old also wished the gummy was in a shape of an animal like her old ones, but if that is the worst complaint, I think we are good!


Who Would You Recommend SmartyPants for?

Besides my whole family? We loved them! I also have a friend with a child that has lots of food allergies. She watched their short video on how SmartyPants is allergy-friendly. I was excited to see her little one loved them as much as my kids did.

 

Any children with known fish allergies should consult with a qualified healthcare professional before taking SmartyPants vitamins as they do contain Omega 3 powder derived from small fish (though SmartyPants does not contain the more allergenic fish protein).The SmartyPants website reports that the vitamins and minerals in their product are not known to be allergenic.


When I look back on the days before we took SmartyPants for a test-drive, it seems sort of silly that I ever forgot to take my vitamins. It really is a simple thing that can do so much for us, keeping our parent-energy levels up and helping us stay healthy for our families and ourselves. If you’d like to give SmartyPants a try, here is a list of where you can find them online and in stores.


~Barbara (CertifiKid Team Member from Atlanta who always takes her vitamins … now, that is!)

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Tags: CertifiKid Field Report, reviews, smartypants vitamins

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