#Kwilting

Managing my mess of digital pictures is a source of anxiety for me. I’ve written about it before… asked for advice and gotten great suggestions… but I’ve yet to put anything into place. I have pictures all over – multiple places in the cloud, facebook, my phone, Andy’s phone, various computers. I never know where to find the picture I’m looking for.

It’s a mess, and it stresses me out.

Enter Kwilt.

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Kwilt is the first mobile app to automatically create a personal and complete live digital photo stream by gathering users’ digital images from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, Google Drive, Dropbox, DLNA Certified® servers, iPhones and iPads. Kwilt reconnects users with their personal photos – often scattered across the web – by bringing them together in one beautifully designed hyper-fast streaming media platform.

Kwilt connects to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, Google Drive, Dropbox, DLNA Certified servers, and iPhones/iPads. It streams all your pictures into one place, and puts them in a – very lovely – sequence chronologically, by location, or by theme.

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You can also make custom albums and share them on social media. You can even display them on your television using Airplay, Chromecase, Roku, LG or Panasonic. And, you can hide pictures you don’t want to show up, which is handy – I take pictures of lists and papers and things that I wouldn’t want to see in a Kwilt!

After connecting all my accounts to Kwilt and seeing my pictures pop up in a beautiful, organized display, I sent an email to the Kwilt team that said “This app is what I’ve been waiting for my entire life!”

See for yourself – download it here.

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This post was written in partnership with Kwilt and TheMotherhood.com, but, as always, opinions are my own.

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#ViaStories – Small Businesses We Love (and a $50 Visa Card giveaway!)

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Regardless of where we end up, we all come from somewhere via someone or something. Whether you’re a maker, small business owner, a blogger, or all three, The UPS Store truly believes that your story has the potential to make a positive impact on someone’s life. We see it every day in our stores: small business owners who are inspired by others like themselves, and learn that they’re not alone in their struggle.viastories.theUPSstore.com

Small businesses are the fabric of our communities – they are the backbone of our economy, and are emblematic of American individualism and entrepreneurship. Jenny and I feel strongly about supporting small businesses, and we’re excited to highlight a few of our favorites today. All of them are amazing at what they do, and beyond that, they’re genuinely good people who want to do their best for their families, communities, and customers. They inspire us!

The Chiropractic Health and Wellness Center of Dayton
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Founded in 1998 by Dr. Patrick Prikkel, The Chiropractic Health and Wellness Center of Dayton is the ideal place for those who seek compassionate, custom-tailored health care. They pride themselves on providing the finest staff and customer service, exceptional doctor-patient interaction, quality, affordable care, and individually prescribed exercise programs. They rely on a word-of-mouth marketing approach, and patients spread the word that the staff seeks to exceed expectations every step of the way. Dr. Prikkel credits his mentors with encouraging him to “do the right thing, not the easy thing,” as his business grew.

Scooter Media
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In 2012 Shannan Boyer hung up her own shingle and opened Scooter Media, a public relations and social media agency in Covington, KY. The agency serves a wide-range of small to mid-size clients, with a roster that includes Fidelity Investments, REACH USA, Vision 2015, The Carnegie, Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, UpTech, Pinnacle Orthopaedics and Izzy’s Restaurant. In just 2.5 years the agency has expanded to a new, larger office, hired two full time employees and two contractors and has served more than 30 local, regional and national clients. Shannan credits her husband Marty with encouraging her to open her own business, and says he was very vocal in encouraging her to follow her dreams. “I’m inspired by working with clients that are making our region a better place to live, and knowing that the work I’m doing makes a difference,” she says.

Dabble Creative Studio
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Dabble Creative Studio is an art education resource for students of any age to share, play, and explore art through its history and materials. They offer camps, classes, open workshops, and private parties for kids and adults. Their mission is to have fun through creative exercise and our hope is to inspire learning, innovation, and community collaboration. Dabble Creative Studio began in 2012, when owner Angie Riner moved back to her hometown (Germantown, OH – holla!). A trained art educator, Angie quickly discovered that there were no teaching positions open for her to even apply for. “Art is a program that quickly gets cut from schools on a tight budget, so I sought out to create my own teaching position and get kids back in the art room,” she says.

My kids took part in Dabble's day camps last spring. This is the float they created for our local 4th of July parade. Kate and Sam LOVE Dabble!

My kids took part in Dabble’s day camps last spring. This is the float they created for our local 4th of July parade. Kate and Sam LOVE Dabble!

There you have it – a few of our favorite small businesses! We want to hear about your favorites as well.

Enter to win a $50 Visa Card by leaving a comment that tells your #ViaStories – how a small business has impacted your life. For extra entries, share your stories on social media using #ViaStories and leave a separate comment here telling us you did so. Comments will be closed and a winner will be chosen on November 30. Good luck, and let’s hear some #ViaStories!

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This post was sponsored by The UPS Store and TheMotherhood.com. Opinions are my own (but they are correct, and you should totally patronize all of these businesses).

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Leap Into Gaming with Leap TV

This post was written in partnership with Leap Frog, but opinions are my own!
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We’ve never been much of a “gamer” family… with the exception of a few games on our devices (and I may see 2048 in my sleep), we don’t have any game systems at all. My poor deprived children had to go to Jenny’s house to get their video game fix. That is, until I signed up to host a Leap Into Gaming party from Leap TV.

Now? Gamers. My kids love this thing.

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I hadn’t heard of Leap TV until it came in the mail. Of course, we’ve had various Leap Frog toys in our house over the years, but this was new to me. It’s a gaming system that encourages kids to be active while they’re playing, and to learn while they’re doing it. That’s a good combo, in my book.

There are three ways to play – through body motion (the kids’ movements control the on-screen action), by using the control as a pointer (think magic wand!) and in a classic video game controller manner.

The Leap TV system is created for young kids, and while it is targeted at kids ages 3-8, even Kate and Joshua at the ripe old age 10 have fun with it. The audio instructions make it easy for kids who aren’t yet reading to follow along. This is huge to me – even though my kids both read now, I distinctly remember Kate’s first (and only) handheld game system, which she got from Santa when she was in kindergarten. She wasn’t reading quickly yet, and that made it just about impossible for her to play any games. It was super frustrating to her (and to us, as we had hoped to have a little peace and quiet during our post-Christmas road trip to great-grandpa’s house). So, the fact that Leap TV accounts for this really stood out to me immediately. Once we get everything set up, the game required no intervention from the parents – score!

Speaking of setting it up, I will admit I was a little skeptical about getting it up and running – I don’t always have great luck with that. Fortunately, the Leap TV set came with a simple, easy to read guide. AND – everything worked just how it was supposed to. It was easy to connect to our TV and wireless network, and the motion sensor and the wireless controller are both very sensitive and work extremely well.

Let me tell you – the kids love this thing.

I turned Sam loose and didn’t see him for the rest of the afternoon. It was amazing.

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Later that afternoon, Jenny and my sister brought their kids over to try it out, so we had kids from 3-10 playing along. They were each able to set up their own profiles so that the themes, mathematical equations, and games were age appropriate, and they all had a blast.

Sam’s favorite is Leap TV Sports, where he answers math problems to “power up” and then plays soccer, baseball, bowling, and more.

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Jonah is killer at bowling!

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Kate prefers Dance and Learn, which teaches reading skills. While she’s got those skills down at this point, she still has a lot of fun with it.

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While, I admit, I was a little hesitant to introduce a gaming system into our house, we couldn’t be happier with Leap TV. The kids love it, and Andy and I feel good about them being active and learning as they play. We highly recommend it!

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