How to Set Up the Our Pact Premium App

Do your kids have cell phones? When my kids were younger, I said that my kids wouldn’t get cell phones until they were driving. That changed! Getting them phones earlier has actually been a benefit. There are times I need to be in two places at once, which means one child gets dropped off somewhere earlier. Having that phone makes me feel better. Besides that, having a phone gives me something I can take away. It’s all about finding what’s meaningful with punishments, right?!? However, taking away the phone defeats the purpose of why I initially got it for them. That’s were the Our Pact Premium app comes in.

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our pact premium
Image via Pexels

What is Our Pact Premium?

A lot of parents joke that they give their kids electronics like phones or an iPad so they have something to take away. As parents, we know we have to discipline our kids and take things away. In order for it to be effective, it has to mean something to them. Taking away the phone leaves kids without the very reason you gave it to them. So they can contact you if need be. Our Pact Premium is an app for both iOS and Android that allows you to manage exactly what they do on their phone and when. It’s a parenting game changer. Goodbye are the days when you collect the phone and take it away for X amount of days. Just turn off what you don’t want them using (games, YouTube, etc) and hand the phone back to them.

 

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Installing the App

It is very important that you read this section. I do not want another person to have the trouble I had installing this app and setting it up. At 9 pm I started setting it up and at 3 am, I was still trying to set it up. Nothing was working right. The directions on their site are a little vague and the step by step directions tech support emailed me didn’t work either. I finally gave up and went to bed and figured I would try again in the morning. When I woke up this morning, I had an idea as to why it wasn’t working and decided to try a different way. It worked! Had two phones set up in less than 25 minutes.

First things first…if you are planning on going with the Premium plan, set that up FIRST. Trust me. Once you have the Premium plan paid for, you will be prompted to download the Our Pact Utility onto your computer. Once that is downloaded onto your computer, do the following:

  1. Plug your phone iPhone into your computer.
  2. Run the Our Pact Utility program and follow the directions on the screen.
  3. Follow the prompts on your iPhone. When it asks you about allowing configuration, click “skip configuration”.
  4. Pair your phone by going to pair.ourpact.com.
  5. Log into the parent app and start setting up the schedules and blocks.

So why didn’t it work before?

When I initially tried setting up the app, I didn’t purchase the premium plan at first. By not doing that, I set up the free account. With the free account you do not need to use the Our Pact Utility program. Should be easy to upgrade from the free to the paid accounts, right? Wrong. In order to set up the paid account, you have to fully remove the free account. That’s easy enough. However, you cannot use the same name for the paid account that you used on the free account. So be sure which account you want from the beginning. I will say, in my opinion, this app is not worth it unless you pay for the premium plan.

Our Pact Premium App Features

You will know you have your account set up with the premium features when you see “access granted” and you can start blocking apps.

our pact premium

Next you will want to decide which apps you will always allow, which apps you would like to block for now and which apps you would like set up according to a schedule (more about that later). The nice thing is, if you decided to block an app, it disappears from your child’s screen. When you unblock it, it reappears.

our pact premium

Once you’ve decided on what to do with the various apps, you will want to set the schedules. On my kids phones, I have all the apps that I do not want them having access to during the night set to disappear at 8:15 pm and stay gone until 6 am (Monday through Friday). Since I would like them to not wake up at the crack of dawn just to watch YouTube, I also set a schedule for Saturday and Sunday.

our pact premium

Another really great feature is the ability to limit how much time your kids will be on their phone and iPad. You can set a daily allowance for them. When their time is up, they are done! I know when my kids were much younger, I was very strict about electronics during the school week. By setting daily allowances, your kids and their device self monitors and you don’t have to sit and watch the clock!

our pact premium

As if this app was already great enough, this next feature allows you to completely block adult content. I don’t know exactly what constitutes as “adult content” (besides the obvious), but I like that there is that extra little feature to help keep that stuff away from the kids. We have the settings on their iPhone to block it too, but as you’re probably aware, things can slip through.

our pact premium

Tonight we were at Sam’s Club picking up a few items and when we got in the car, Bella said “hey, where did all my apps go?”. So the bedtime schedule worked exactly the way it was supposed to! Besides the issues I had setting the app up with my sons phone, I am very happy with the Our Pact Premium app.

Have you used the Our Pact app?


Netflix – Best Shows to Watch

On January 5th of this year, I had gallbladder surgery. While I am feeling much better without my gallbladder, I am not bouncing back as easily. The level of exhaustion I am feeling is insane. My surgeon told me that while I had laparoscopic surgery, I have to remember that I still had major surgery. At any rate, while I work to rest and hopefully get back to normal, I have been watching a lot of Netflix!

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netflix

Why Binge Netflix?

I have been binge watching shows for YEARS! It first started when I was in high school. I was (and still am) addicted to Days of Our Lives. Back then, I would use the VCR in my parents room to record every episode while I was at school. Over the weekend, I would watch all five episodes, fast forward through the commercials (and the boring parts) and set the VCR for the following week. So I’ve been binge watching shows before Netflix was even a thing!

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Seriously though, we binge watch because we like to have it all now. When I am looking for a show to watch, I look to see how many seasons are out. The more the better. I just finished a show and am very frustrated that I have to wait a few months to be able to watch the fourth season. So I do what any other binger does…I find a new show to watch!

My Favorite Shows on Netflix

Below are my favorite shows I’ve watched on Netflix and would recommend to anyone looking for a new show to watch.

  • How to Get Away with Murder
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Scandal
  • Mindhunter
  • Stranger Things
  • Parenthood
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Bates Motel
  • Switched at Birth
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Santa Clarita Diet
  • Friends from College

Out of the list above, the top five shows I think you HAVE to watch now are Hart of Dixie, Parenthood, Bates Motel, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey’s Anatomy. Each one of those shows, I could watch again and again and never get sick of them. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve seen each episode of Grey’s Anatomy!

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Recommended Shows

I keep a list of shows on my phone that people recommend to me. Some I will watch eventually, others I am waiting until my husband is home on the weekends to start watching with him. Those recommended Netflix shows are:

  • Persons of Interest
  • Riverdale
  • The End of the Fxxxing World
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Bloodline
  • Narcos
  • Shameless
  • Black Mirror
  • Glitch

Have you seen any of those shows? My husband and I watched the first 15 minutes of Persons of Interest (we thought we were watching a preview…long story) and we were hooked! We want to finish Stranger Things before we start another show.


When Your Gallbladder Fails You

Back in October, I started getting the worst pain I’ve ever felt. It started in my upper right abdomen and radiated to my back and into my shoulder. Of course I Googled and once I talked myself out of it being a heart attack, I realized it was my gallbladder. So, as you can imagine, I began Googling everything possible about when your gallbladder fails! And lets be really honest here, I was freaking out that I would’t be able to do the Keto diet any longer.

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gallbladder fails

Image via Pexels

What to Do if You Suspect a Gallbladder Attack

First of all, I can tell you what not to do…don’t go to Urgent Care. They can’t really help you there. If you are having a gallbladder attack, you need to go to the ER. I sat at Urgent Care for hours only to have an x-ray done that didn’t really tell them anything. Unfortunately, I continued to have pain off and on and worst of all, I was nauseous every single day. I woke up with a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth every morning and getting out of bed took a lot of effort.

How Did I Finally Get Help?

My primary care doctor ordered an ultrasound for me. The ultrasound came back clear. According to the ultrasound, there was nothing wrong with my gallbladder. However, after a lot of research on my part, I found that it’s not abnormal for the ultrasound to come back like that. There could be things that the ultrasound is not able to pick up that is actually there. My primary care doctor suspected I was dealing with an ulcer or acid reflux. I argued because, again, after all my research, it did not seem like an ulcer or acid reflux at all. In the end, I was referred to a GI doctor. That ended up being a HUGE blessing!

Within a few minutes of meeting with the GI doctor, I knew I was going to get results. He listened to exactly what I was telling him and started making a plan. The first thing he recommended I do was have an endoscopy done to definitely rule out an ulcer or acid reflux. The second thing he recommended was a HIDA scan. The HIDA scan will show any problems with gallbladder, liver, or bile ducts.

When the Gallbladder Fails

My endoscopy came back fine. No ulcers and no acid reflux. But I already knew that! The HIDA scan came back with low gallbladder ejection fraction (less than 20%…normal is over 35%). My GI doctor called me the next day and immediately referred me to a surgeon. I met with the surgeon and she told me that she felt comfortable, based on my different tests, that removing my gallbladder would be the right thing for me. Of course, I agreed. It had been over 3.5 months at this point and I was about to lose my mind.

Surgery to Remove the Gallbladder

My surgery was on January 5, 2018. Strangely enough, I was not nervous at all. That is not like me at all. I was oddly calm. The goal was to have the surgery done laparoscopic, unless an issue pops up and they have to switch to general surgery (I think that’s what they called it). Thankfully, my surgeon was able to do it laparoscopic! Apparently I caused a little hiccup in the OR when my blood pressure suddenly dropped WAY too low during surgery. They had to give me a shot of epinephrine to speed it back up. The only problem with that was, when I woke up, I ended up spending more time in recovery because they couldn’t get my heart rate to calm back down. After several bags of fluids and lots of trips to the bathroom, it finally calmed down enough for me to go home.

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Did Surgery Work?

When your gallbladder fails like this and you have surgery to remove it, there is always that chance that it doesn’t help your symptoms. While I was terrified of that happening, the idea of living another day with the nausea and pain was just too much. The very next day after my surgery, I woke up with ZERO nausea! I haven’t been nauseous yet. Yes it’s not been a full two weeks yet, but I’ve been able to eat fine and I don’t feel sick anymore. So I am cautiously optimistic that it worked! One of the things the surgeon (and friends that have had their gallbladder removed) told me was that I could end up with diarrhea for a few months after I eat. Thankfully that has not happened either! I feel like a new person!

I know doctors don’t necessarily like when patients Google everything, but if there is one thing I learned, it’s that if you don’t agree with a diagnosis or your treatment, stand up for yourself. Push for tests that you want done. Speak up to be heard. I went in to my appointment with my GI doc with an outline on my phone of everything I had been through. When it came time to give him my history, I pulled out my phone and read the outline.

Oh and my worries about the Keto diet…I have been eating according to the Keto diet for the last week and no issues at all!

Have you had your gallbladder removed?

Family Friendly New Year’s Eve

Before we had kids, my husband and I would go out to dinner for New Year’s Eve and then head home, put pjs on and play Trivial Pursuitfamily friendly. We were (and still are) super competitive with each other. Since having kids, our New Year’s Eve traditions have changed quite a bit. Neither one of us really care about huge parties or going out to a bar for the night. So having a family friendly celebration is what we have been doing for the last 13 years (minus a few years when the kids had sleepovers with their grandparents)!

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family friendly

Planning a Family Friendly New Year’s Eve

When you think of New Year’s Eve parties, what do you think of? I think of food, bubbly drinks and the ball dropping. Guess what, you can have all of that in your family friendly celebration! With little ones, you may not want to keep them up until midnight. That’s totally understandable. When mine were little, it didn’t matter how late they stayed up, they still woke up at 7 am! So, with the help of YouTube, I would pull up the previous years ball dropping and have the kids watch that. They totally thought they got to stay up until the ball dropped, when in reality, they went to bed at their bedtime! Total mom win!

family friendly

Image via Honey and Lime

It’s tradition, in our family, to do fun little poppers at Thanksgiving. I don’t know when or where it started, but my kids look forward to it every single year. Your kids will have fun with these super easy DIY poppers! Fill them with confetti (buy your confettifamily friendly here for a really good price) and a little piece of candy! Don’t have time to make your poppers, buy them!

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I promise you, your kids will love these poppers, no matter their age!

Family Friendly Food Options

The best food to have for your family friendly New Year’s Eve party is finger foods. Think chicken fingers like these Catalina Crunch Chicken Fingers Recipe. They are super kid friendly and delicious! My kids devour them! Other favorites:

 

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Another fun option, and one your kids will surely remember, is making chocolate fondue! Pick up some fruit, marshmallows, donuts (cut them in bite size pieces), etc and have at it! They will love it! If you don’t have a fondue set, then check this one out! This fondue setfamily friendly is on a super sale right now!

Whatever you decide to do for your New Year’s Eve, have fun with it. Your kids will remember these fun traditions for years to come!

What do you do on New Year’s Eve?

5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Family Car

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Finding the perfect family car can seem like a daunting task sometimes. Not only is it an extremely large purchase, but it’s also something you will be using day in and day out for years to come. Especially if you have kids in sports or activities. If you are like me, you spend several hours a day shuttling kids back and forth. Since I spend so much time in a car, here are my top five tips for finding the perfect family car, hopefully they help you as much as they have helped me!

perfect family car

Image via cars.com

How to Find the Perfect Family Car

I still remember when I was pregnant for the first time. I had a new VW Bug that I loved! It was super cute, but totally not practical at all for a mom with a new baby. It would have been very difficult to get an infant seat in an out of the car. Not to mention, the trunk was not big enough for all the baby stuff we carted around daily. So off we went looking for a new car for our growing family. Little did I know, having kids would change my ideas on what I needed in a car!

Tip One: Infant Seats and Car Seats

What I didn’t know with my first child was how important it was to take the car seat with you when shopping for your perfect family car. With our first child, we leased an Aztec. We felt rushed with time to pick a car and the price was right. However, no matter how much I enjoyed driving that car (it really was a good car), it was NOT a good car for a rear facing car seat. Even having the car seat in the middle seat, it pushed both the driver seat and the passenger seat too far forward. It was NOT comfortable for us at all. So, not only do you need to take the car seat with you, but you also need to read up on the car seat safety checks done on may popular brands of cars.

Tip Two: Test Drive All the Cars

Make a list of the cars you like. Using sites like cars.com, you can easily make a list of cars you like. Once you have your list, go to the dealership, used car lot, etc and test drive the car. Sometimes you don’t even need to leave the lot. There was a car that I thought I loved, but the second I sat down, I realized I did not like the car at al. I didn’t even turn the car on. The shape of the driver seat was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait to get out of it.

Tip Three: Features

This may seem silly to some, but the features in a car are very important to me. I drive a lot. We are gone many weekends for lacrosse or soccer tournaments. If I am going to spend a lot of time in the car, I want to make sure it has the things I want. For instance, the three things I have to have in a car are heated seats, a heated steering wheel and remote start. I live in Michigan. The winters are brutal. Those three things insure that each and every time I drive my car, I am comfortable.  So think of the features you want and don’t settle. Make a list with a column of must have features and a column of features that would be nice, but not mandatory.

Tip Four: Backseat Space

After you turn the car seat front facing, the kids really don’t need much space in the backseat. However, once they outgrow the car seat, leg room for the kids need to be taken into account. My husband is tall. When he sits in the front seat, he has to have the seat all the way back. In some cars, it was very difficult for someone to sit behind him. So take your kids car shopping with you so you can see if the car is right for everyone!

Tip Five: Trunk Space

Finally, when I am looking for a car, one of the first things I do is open the trunk. Like sitting in the seat, opening the trunk can determine right away if the car will work for you or not. Lacrosse bags are huge. If they won’t fit in the trunk, the car won’t work for our family. Think about the things you cart around all the time. If you have a baby, make sure your stroller fits in the trunk.

Whether you are checking out local dealerships, used car lots or online searches for your next car, these five tips will help you narrow down your list and help you find the perfect family car.

What tips could you add to my list?