Could a Landline Be Your Lifeline? #Ooma

DispatcherAre your children calling from a cell phone or a landline?  And does it make any difference?  Surprisingly, the answer is yes.  According to the latest data, if you don’t have a landline in your home, it could be putting your children in grave danger.

Here’s a shocking fact:  According to an investigation by the USA Today, the chances of 911 dispatchers being able to find you based on your cell phone’s GPS can be as low as 10% in some parts of the country.  With a significant share of cell phone-to-911 calls being placed from within residences—and 45% of Americans opting out of landline coverage at home—countless people are left vulnerable in emergencies.  The question then becomes not why you should have a landline in the home, but why haven’t you gotten one yet?

In the spirit of keeping you and your family safe, I recently partnered with Ooma leading Internet home phone service with reliable E911 technology—to deliver three tips for keeping your home safe this summer in addition to owning a landline. (We have also used the Ooma phone system for years and LOVE it! Very low cost for a lot of value!)


Whether it’s for a small scrape or something far worse, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit handy.  People who call 911 from their cell phone are often surprised at how long emergency workers take to arrive on scene.  According to the recent 911 Emergency Response Study, more than one in five cell phone callers feel it takes too long—that’s seven times higher than for people who call from a landline.  If you’re often in situations when only a cell phone is available, consider keeping a first aid kit nearby.


Make sure that no matter where you are, it’s easy for the people around you to call your emergency contacts. Consider posting your own number, as well as first response numbers, on your fridge so your kids know how to reach you and your family, family members who live close by, or the authorities.  Post the name and number of a trusted friend or neighbor, too.  With Ooma‘s home phone system, up to three of these contacts can be notified by text message automatically when a 911 call is placed.  In situations when every second counts, this reliable Internet-based technology could save tens of thousands of lives.


Educate your kids about the sights, smells, and sounds of danger.  If they hear a smoke alarm or see an appliance overheating, advise your children to get outside as quickly as possible.  Planning an exit strategy is key to getting a safe distance away from the house so you can alert a neighbor and have them call the fire department.  Consider making a detailed fire plan with multiple escape routes and keeping a printed copy of your fire plan on visible walls around your house.

For many people, money is understandably a legitimate concern—but when it comes down to it, we really can’t put a price on ensuring that the people we love are safe.  Luckily, first aid kits are both lightweight and budget-friendly, while the price of a secure Ooma landline pays for itself in just three months and costs less than a Netflix subscription on a monthly basis.

Ooma Telo & HandsetGot any 911 emergency stories of your own?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  In the past five years alone, over a quarter of Americans have called 911 with a cell phone, and in that group, there were many dissatisfied callers.  If you’ve got a story you’d feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear about them!  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Back-to-School Firsts with Staples

JansportStaples is celebrating Back-to-School “Firsts” and we had a big one this year! For the first time ever, my daughter drove out the driveway and off to school carrying herself and my younger daughter and I was left waving from the front porch as the back of the black Suburban cleared the top of the neighborhood and turned out of sight.

Another first came today when my younger daughter passed her driver’s permit test and will now start learning to drive herself. By March, I may have two licensed teens in the family and much more time to myself – another first! What’s really insane to imagine is that I may be an “empty-nester” in only a year and a half when both girls are off to college, if that’s what life holds for them.

The time is flying and as much as you are ready to enter each new phase, you miss when they fit in your lap, when they still want you to tuck them in, and when they cried for you to come in their room instead of verbally berating you for entering their hallowed sanctuaries. Life is different with teens but I still love them so very much it makes my heart ache to think too hard about it.

On a lighter note, Staples sent us some very special items to help prepare for the start of school, as soon below. My youngest picked the very cool JanSport zebra striped backpack and Fit & Fresh Downtown Insulated Designer Lunch Bag. For a few years, the girls enjoyed buying lunch in the cafeteria but now lines are too long and they enjoy staying back in classrooms for study groups which means you don’t get lunch if you don’t pack it. My youngest likes to pack her own lunch and is the healthiest eater in our family so the insulated lunch bag really comes in handy.


My older daughter was quite thrilled to take ownership of the Kindle fire HD, mechanical pencils and composition notebook, also sent to us by Staples. I love my own Kindle HD and rave about it and now she has her own. I like the diversity, versatility and affordability of the Kindle fire HD. We have never been a family that had to have expensive Apple products when other options like the Kindle totally suited our needs!

Kindle Fire

Do you have a “Back-to-School” memory to share?


Sweet Sixteen Care of Toyota Venza

Last week, two very amazing things happened. One, my baby girl turned 16! Second,  I received a Toyota Venza to drive for a week which I had to make clear to my daughter she was NOT getting for her birthday but we could use to make her birthday all that more special with so many fun features to get us where we needed to go.

On the day the Venza arrived, it was raining. Uggh, what a yucky day but I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw my test car pull up in same sleek black as the other three cars in our family “fleet.” We have a black Suburban, black pick-up and black sportwagon so a black Venza was like one of the family.

I drove the Venza to work all week,  to the barn on Saturday, to the grocery store for party supplies, to church on Sunday and finally to a WINNING Phillies game on Monday night. The features I liked are as follows:


Back-up camera – As you can see in the picture below, the Venza has the camera that shows you what’s behind you when you are backing up. This was uber helpful down a tight driveaway at a friend’s house.

Roomy Interior – The Venza is as roomy as any SUV without the massive feeling of a truck like my Suburban and not as small as the Jetta we have. It was the perfect blend for the tall people in my family.

Phone Charging Slot – It’s a small add-on but totally shows a shift in our modern culture. There is a place near the front console to insert your phone and have the wire go through the bottom to the storage area where the charging slots are available in USB and standard cigarette lighter style slot.

Toyota Venza



Starting price: $28,915 MSRP

Engine: Available in 4-wheel & V6.

Features: low center of gravity, wide stance and available 20-in. wheels.

Hill Start Assist Control: Keeps car from rolling backward on a hill.

Amenities: Dual zone automatic climate control, Star Safety System including 6 active safety features, seven airbags, blindspot mirrors and so much more.

Smart Key System with Push Button Start (at $31,960 price).
The smart key system took some getting used to. You set the key somewhere near the starter in a cup holder or door holder and push the start button. It was very easy to leave them in the car, shut the door and have to reopen to get them out so I could lock the door. The week the Venza arrived, we had just had several cars stolen in the neighborhood (and returned by the police since the joyriders left them in the next neighborhood) and I was very conscious of needing to lock the car.

Then, before we knew it, it was Party-time for my Sweet Sixteen daughter — look how much room in the back! (Gif image by my techno-savvy daughter). We loaded up with each stop for more party supplies and we had room to spare.

Thank you, Toyota, for a fun ride. Perhaps when one is two years old and has a few miles on it to bring down the price, maybe we’ll invest.

toyota venza


To Keep or Return #GoogleGlass . That is the question…

Google Glass

Today is my first full day with Google Glass and as I sit here tethered to my computer, charging the device which seems to have a very short battery life, I am already wondering how soon I should pack up this cool new technology and send it back despite its promising application. Buyers remorse is already setting in.

Google Glass created an air of scarcity when they allowed a select group to opt-in as Beta testers or Google Explorers who still had to pay for the opportunity but would be able to give suggestions and try apps for the first time. As an adjunct professor and avid use of media, I can officially say I was sucked in like  Dorothy to the Land of Oz.

I have never paid for a Mac or iPhone (preferring the less expensive and equally effective Dell for my laptop and MotoX for my smartphone) but somehow this caught me eye as something cool – something to try and to be one of the first testers – I got sucked into the idea of exclusivity – “early adopter” a point at which the price doesn’t yet match the usefulness of the device.



In case it’s not obvious, you do need a smartphone to tether to for calls, etc. Of course, you are required to have a Google account and need to buy through Google wallet.

Set-up was easy but swiping  and clicking between options gets a bit confusing. It’s going to take practice. Basically, you can tap & swipe the device to select several choices (including do a Google search, take a picture, take a video, make a call via BlueTooth with your phone, search Google via Wifi and more as apps like games & recipes are added). You can also train it to respond to voice commands (which I have to say really annoys the people around me but could be quite useful if I can get it to learn that I am searching for an Easter dessert not an Easter desert.)

As for navigation, sometimes you get lost and aren’t quite sure how to get back to where you started – time to revisit the instruction videos. The wink to take a picture is pretty cool but has my husband and kids running for cover when I turn their way with the glasses on. I also like that the screen shades when you go into the light. The picture here shows clip-on shades as well but the actual device is a wire frame that does not have glass.

I do like the recipe app but I need to figure out why the ingredients aren’t on the first swipe page. More research.

I am giving myself a week or two to try it. If either I don’t have the time to research and make it more useful, it’s gotta go back. The price is still giving me hives. My husband is already saying it needs to go back despite his infinite love for technology (remember he’s the one that insisted we stick with Windows and Android based devices).

UPDATE: Day 2: Return has been initiated. Despite some promising apps, the functionality is too redundant against all the other technology I have for my purposes and the price makes me too nervous to take it out where it would probably be more useful – like price shopping, research, etc. Hope the price comes down ALOT so I can try it again without worrying about every move.


Gear of Choice

Sony cameraFor the more professional pictures on this blog (not the ones taken with my Android Incredible 2), our gear of choice are the Sony A65 Digital SLR With 18-55mm Lens
and Sony Alpha SLT-a35 Digital SLR Kit with Translucent Mirror Technology and 18-55mm Lens
which pretty much do the job for us.

I have learned so much about the value of a good picture since getting these cameras. I don’t have the immediacy of the phone camera and sharing instantly on Instagram, etc. but I get a much higher quality and if I needed to take a quick video, it’s much better despite my husband’s instance on using an actual video camera for REAL videos.

These do a pretty good job overall. Much more on pictures from these and my new Black edition GoPro as this blogs builds out.