October 15, 2014

Life360 App Halloween

This post is a sponsored conversation about family communication.

It’s that time of year when little ghouls and ghosts take to the streets to plan a few tricks, but mainly to grab lots of treats. For some people Halloween is a big celebration. Not so much for me. But I do buy the good candy!

Each year, though, BabyGirl dresses up and heads out to say hello to friends in the neighborhood. As she gets older, though, she’s more interested in hanging out with her friends than walking alongside mommy. She’s also invited to trick or treat with friends from some of her other activities, in areas we’re not very familiar with. Then there is the bonanza that is Trunk or Treat!

I’m determined not to let my apprehensions about Halloween become her issue so when Life360 asked me to share how I use their app it only seemed to make sense. It’s an app I’ve been using for quite awhile, but mainly as a way to stay connected with some of my online friends. It wasn’t until we were at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party when I realized Life360 could be the perfect way to keep my family connected without relying solely on text messages.

I’ve written about Life360 as way to stay connected with your tween or teen in case of an emergency. So it makes total sense that Halloween and the nighttime festivities would be the perfect time to create a Life360 circle. How could you use this family communication app for Halloween?

Life360 Logo

4 Ways To Take The Trick Out Of Your Trick or Treat with Life360

1. Divide and Conquer – Instead of relying on back and forth texts of “Where are you?”, families can split up but still see where each other are located. This is especially great if the kids are going out with a sitter or grandparents. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what street you are – are we two streets over or three? – just check-in and others in your circle will know where you are.Life360 CheckIn

2. Teen New Drivers – What good is letting the teen get a driver’s license if we have to drive them everywhere? With Life360 you set up a Place location, and rather than the teen having to check in with mom or dad (which you know is totally not cool) once they get to the Halloween party you’ll get a notification. When they leave the party you’ll know that too. No need to text and drive because they forgot to let mom and dad know they’re on their way home. Safety times a bazillion!

3. Increased Independence – You got the kid a smartphone, but what good is it if they’re too cool to send mom or dad a text. (As if they’d actually call!) Having the Life360 app on their phone kids can check-in when they get where they’re going. No need to text mom or dad while their friends are looking. Or, gasp, risk a text from mom popping up while you’re trying to be cool in front of that cute guy or girl. Instead, communication within the app is more private and secure. And, kids are more likely to check in or let you know if there is an issue when they can do so without risk of being called-out by their friends.

Life360 Messages

4. Block Party – Teens and young adults have more opportunities now to attend large-scale parties for Halloween. Since Life360 is about keeping in contact, the app is flexible and allows groups of young people to stay connected. No need to hang out waiting for everyone to show up, just use the app and put everyone in a circle so you get notified when they arrive. Again, no need to text them 87 times because they’re driving and aren’t answering their phone. Let technology work for you!

I wish I had used the app more when we were in Florida. It would have been easier than texting. I had been using it more for business than for family communication and I was totally missing out on how amazing the app really is. I love the safety features built-in to the app that would allow BabyGirl to hit PANIC if she got separated and flustered. I really like that she can just check in and I know she’s OK. It’s tough being an only child when it comes to learning about independence. While she’s used to doing a lot of things on her own, sometimes it’s me who needs the push to let her try her wings.

About Life360

With users in over 200 countries, Life360 is connecting families near and far. Backed by $76 million in venture funding, the app has grown more than 400% over the past year to become the world’s largest network for family communication. Whether it’s dinner plans, car pool, or just making sure the kids got home safely from school, Life360 gives families simplified communication and peace of mind right at their fingertips.

Download the FREE app for iPhoneAndroid, or Windowsphone.

If you’re on social media, you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card from Life360 by sharing a photo of your costume. Tag your photos #Scare360 and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

On Instagram, follow @Life360app and tag your costume photos with our handle and #Scare360.

On Facebook, share your photos on Life360’s wall and tag them #Scare360.

On Twitter, follow @Life360 and tag them and the photo with #Scare360.

Note: Image information obscured for privacy.

Sara

{ 0 comments }

October 14, 2014

Disney Halloween

I’m not a Halloween person. I’ve mentioned that before and it’s something many of my friends learn very early on in our friendship. But when Halloween is packaged with Mickey Mouse, roller coasters, a parade, and family memories, that I can do!

On our second trip to Disney World we were there during Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). BabyGirl was about 6 and she was very well aware of my non-love of Halloween. As a way to appease her and hope that she’d totally fall in love with Mickey’s version of trick or treating, and never want to go trick or treating at home, we bought tickets.

As a separate ticketed event, the Halloween party is not included in general park admission. So we plunked down our greenbacks, obtained our special wrist bands and made our way around Magic Kingdom for a few hours with what seemed like just a few hundred people in the park. I’m sure there were several thousand, but with no wait on any ride, lots of room to roam, candy stations that would fill your bags with hands full of candy, and character meet and greet lines merely a few people deep the Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party was a big hit.

We’ve now been to MNSSHP five times and each year it’s just as fun as the one before. So I thought I’d share with you …

Seven Not So Scary Reasons to Celebrate Halloween at Disney

1. Costumes – The general policy at Disney Parks is that costumes may not be worn by adults unless there is a special event permitting guests of all ages to wear them. And by adult, Disney means guest age 10 and over. For me, this isn’t really a big deal. BabyGirl likes to dress up for the Halloween party but I go as far as getting fun Halloween matching shirts for CycleGuy and me. This year BabyGirl dressed as Hermione from Harry Potter and she was a bit hesitant because it wasn’t owned by Disney. But she was happily greeted by Cast Members and guests alike. Minnie also noticed her during the parade and gestured to her that she liked the costume. A magical moment!

MNSSHP Alice In Wonderland

MNSSHP Hawkins Family

2. Short or Non-Existent Lines – Well, for the most part you will be able to get right on your favorite rides. The only exception we as was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which had a 25-minute wait. For most, that’s a short wait. But for MNSSHP veterans it brings out a bit of grumbling for having to wait. With the introduction of the Fastpass+ system, many are not able to secure a Fastpass for their favorite rides and wait times in excess of 45 minutes are often agreed to reluctantly. At the party, though, there are no Fastpasses so you can get on any rides or attractions that are open (which is pretty much all but a hand full). For us, the biggest coup was getting in to see Anna and Elsa without much of a wait. The outside placard showed 30 minutes. We debated whether or not we should just suck it up and wait, and decided that 30 minutes was worth it since we could have a snack and stand in the air conditioning. In under ten minutes we were whisked back to meet Anna and Elsa! That’s right, under 10 minutes to meet the two most sought after characters at Disney!

3. Character Meet and Greet – This is a huge draw for many people, especially since there are quite a few characters that only come for the party. I love this part of the event, but BabyGirl would rather spend her time on rides. I chalk that up to being a tween since in years’ past she’s loved having the opportunity to have these special photo-ops. Another cool thing is that there are usually Photopass photographers on hand. One of my favorite stops is at Haunted Mansion for the hitchhikng ghosts. Who doesn’t look in the mirror at the of the ride and wish they could take a photo of the hitchhiking ghosts? Now you can! Keep in mind that some of the lines do get very long. The Seven Dwarfs, Jack Sparrow, and Jack Skellington and Sally are all very popular and may have waits in excess of an hour since the characters don’t stay out for long periods of time.

MNSSHP Prince Charming

4. Boo To You Parade – Since the retirement of the Main Street Electrical Parade and Spectromagic, I’ve been a parade-hater. I admit it! But I just loved those parades and the newer ones have never really done anything for me. That was until we sat down to watch the Boo To You parade. The music becomes an earworm, but you’re rewarded by seeing characters in Halloween costumes, the Haunted Mansion caretaker, Cadaver Dans, and, of course, the Disney villains. There are two parades and many people will take time to see both of them since there isn’t the mad rush to try to get on rides when crowds are watching the parade. It’s a great way to enjoy those exclusive treats I mention next.

Boo To You Parade 2014

5. Specialty Foods – It’s not a trip to a Disney Park unless you get your favorite snack. But leave it to Disney to add a special something for your taste buds when you go to the MNSSHP. The line at Sleepy Hallow was pretty long for the spiced pumpkin waffle sundae, although we went for the funnel cakes. There are candy corn ice cream cones and cupcakes. Neither of which are as gross as they sound. Mummy and ghost-themed cupcakes can be found as well. And let’s not forget the season-inspired beverages of Pumpkin Spice Bubble Tea and the Wormy Apple Slush. (FYI: Most of these will be snack credits if you use the dining plan.)

Disney Pumpkin Waffle Image Credit: Disney

6. Limited Edition Merchandise – Of course you knew there would be merchandise, right? While I didn’t see my go-to, picture frames, there were a lot of cute things. With MagicBands being the new E-ticket, a limited edition Halloween Magic Band was released just for the party. It’s only available in the park, though. Since they didn’t have my picture frames, I went for pins. I got a Special Edition pin for the party, one of the mystery pin boxes, as well as my Limited Edition Passholder Pin. While most of these aren’t collectible, they’re a fun way to remember having gone to the party.

7. Haunted Mansion – this kind of goes without saying, but there’s so much more than just “Haunted Mansion at Halloween”. Madame Carlotta and Madame Raina sit on the law and chat with guests. It’s cool and creepy! Cast Members are kind of in a state of euphoria and excitement at all the haunting. And, of course there are the pictures with the hitchhiking ghosts!

So there you have it, seven not so scary reasons to head to Disney to celebrate Halloween! It hasn’t turned me into a Halloween lover, but it’s given me reasons to enjoy celebrating my love of Disney.

Have you ever been to a Disney Halloween party? If not, do you think you’ll go now?

Sara

{ 0 comments }

6 Reasons To Choose Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort for Your Disney World Vacation

For our annual summer pilgrimage to Central Florida one of the toughest questions is whether or not to stay on-site at Disney World. There are many options for both, but there are pros and cons that need to be weighed in determining if you stay on-property or off-site when you visit Disney World. Things like getting […]

Read the full article →

Create The WOW – Parenting On A New Level

As summer was coming to a close for most, my family and I headed out to Florida for our pilgrimage to theme park central. As someone who has strong memories from childhood, it’s important for me to help create opportunities for BabyGirl to make her own memories.  As an only child, BabyGirl is often required to […]

Read the full article →

Kids, Smartphones, and Emergency Preparedness

September is National Emergency Preparedness month. I didn’t know there was a month dedicated to this. And because I didn’t know and I consider myself to be well-informed I figured you may not know either. As part of the Verizon Influencers group I participate in the weekly #vzwbuzz chat on Twitter (Friday at 3pm ET […]

Read the full article →

Disney and the Art of Henna

I’ve been fascinated by henna art for many years, but never thought it was something I could experience. I didn’t see a Jewish person with a henna until I was an adult. That was the first time I began to research henna art and discovered it’s role and significance in many of the middle eastern […]

Read the full article →

Minecraft and Girls

Microsoft announced the purchase of Mojang, creator of the wildly popular game Minecraft, and there was a loud sigh in my household. BabyGirl is a Minecraft junkie and it’s a topic of constant conversation with her friends. Interestingly, she’s the one who came home and told me about the rumors of a sale. Minecraft girls […]

Read the full article →

Donate Mobile Phone To Help Domestic Violence Survivors

We tend to hear about domestic violence in the news when there are celebrities involved or when something so heinous occurs the news outlets know it will get viewers or readers. When celebrities are involved, there are often people who defend the behavior or try to give justifications for how we, the public, are misinterpreting […]

Read the full article →

How To Use IFTTT To Protect Your Kids Online

Kids and tech. Like every other aspect of parenting, talking about kids and tech brings about some very strong opinions. More specifically, bring up kids and cell phone or kids and texting and everyone has something to say or horror stories to share. Recently, I was having a conversation with a few online friends about […]

Read the full article →

5 Vacation Memory Lessons From An 11 Year Old

Disclosure: This post is my entry into a contest with Mom It Forward for a chance to win an upgraded suite at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando for the Family Forward retreat. I remember one vacation from my childhood, a trip to California with my grandparents. That family vacation was everything to me, […]

Read the full article →