Google Play’s Best of 2017 – Apps, Games, Movies and MORE!

Google Play’s Best of 2017 – Apps, Games, Movies and MORE!

Thank GOD, 2017 is coming to an end. What a crappy year it’s been, at least in this house. We are anxious for 2017 to roll around and for a fresh start. As much as the year has sucked, I always enjoy reading the best of lists. It’s how the year will be remembered, you know 10 years from now. Hopefully all the crappy will be forgotten and when I hear the Moana song, I will think – oh yeah 2017. 

Google Play Best of 2017

Our friends at Google Play sent over what people were loving this year. This is the Best of 2017 according to Google Play. This is what people were downloading, playing, streaming and singing, watching and reading. 

Best of 2017

Most Popular New Apps of 2017

Are you an Android user? If so, here are the Android apps that were the most popular new apps in 2017, according to Google Play.

What were your favorite apps for 2017?

Photo Editor is definitely a game changer when it comes to simple photo edits. What the Forecast is absolutely hilarious and Boomerang is always a fun app for Instagram stories. I need to try out these other apps!

View all popular apps

Most Popular New Games of 2017

Do you play games? I have to admit, #1, Super Mario Run – I had a mega-addiction to this game. My kids all love Ballz and Magic Tiles 3. What of these did you play?

View all popular games

Top Five Books of 2017

I love how Stephen King’s IT made a comeback! Talk about a classic book. I’m downloading the Mark Manson book now, this looks too intriguing not to read. 


Top Five Streamed Songs of 2017

This is where I start to feel old. Out of this list of 5 top songs of 2017, I know 3 of them. I blame my stubborness for listening to the same Pandora station over and over.

Top Five Movies of 2017

Sadly, I have only seen 3 of the 5 top movies of 2017. Glad to see Wonder Woman make the list! 


Top Five TV Shows of 2017

This list of the top five 2017 shows sounds about right!  I will admit, Rick and Morty totally surprised me. That show is just so wrong, but I’ll admit – it’s quite hilarious – just WRONG!

There you have it, the best of 2017 in digital media according to Google Play. What are your thoughts? Did your faves make the list?
Christmas at the Anatole Review – Peppermint Park, Movie Night, Breakfast with Santa and MORE!

Christmas at the Anatole Review – Peppermint Park, Movie Night, Breakfast with Santa and MORE!

Our friends at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX hosted our family for this Christmas at the Anatole review. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, no for real. I am THAT person who absolutely loves Christmas. One of the main reasons I love this holiday season is watching our kids embrace a love for all things Christmas, just like their mama. Each year, we write up a bucket list of things we want to do to celebrate the season. While it can be a whirlwind – enjoying this time and these things with family is priceless. We have 4 kids – ranging in age 6 to 14-years-old. I know that the years are short and before we know it, things will change. But until then, Christmas is our favorite. 

Christmas at the Hilton Anatole Review

The last few years we have had the privilege of attending Christmas at the Anatole. Each year we walk away with amazing memories and a wonderful time – this year, was no exception. The Anatole changed a few things up, and somehow we managed to have even more fun this year than last. 

One thing that always impresses me with the Anatole is that it is family friendly.

Christmas at the Anatole Review

When our 4 kids go with us anywhere, as much as we try to keep them in line and on their best behavior – at the end of the day, they are kids. The Anatole embraces the kids’ spirit and the staff in every area are always over accommodating to make sure that the kids are just as welcome as the adults.

If you haven’t stayed at the Anatole, don’t miss out on the hotel’s amazing art, plus the Christmas decor is absolutely stunning through-out the hotel. 

Peppermint Park

A new feature this year at Christmas at the Anatole is Peppermint Park. The beautiful courtyard between the hotel and Jade Waters water park has been transformed into a winter wonderland. From twinkling lights to the beautiful sound of Christmas music – Peppermint Park is a holiday memory dream come true. 

Peppermint Park Christmas at the Anatole

Peppermint Park has free entry, but in order to participate in the various shows, games, and activities you will need to buy a pass or coupons. Learn more here. 

A few things to note: Peppermint Park is open on select days from 5:00 – 9:00 pm. Here are the dates for 2017: 

  • November 24-26, 2017
  • December 1-3, 2017
  • December 8-10, 2017
  • December 15-23, 2017
  • December 26-30, 2017

Make sure to dress weather appropriate as this is an outdoor activity!

Here is a taste of the things to do while at Peppermint Park at the Hilton Anatole:

Elf Houses

Some of the features that our kids’ love were the darling elf houses, each featuring a fun activity for the kids to do. We painted ornaments, decorated cookies, and even wrote a letter to Santa. Each house is manned by an elf!

Photos with Santa Claus

Photos with Santa

In front of the huge, gorgeous Christmas tree at Peppermint Park – sits Santa. Go and visit Old St. Nick and get your photo taken with him. 

Reindeer Games

Another fun Christmas feature was the outdoor arcade. This was unlike any arcade I had ever been to – it was old school fun! Remember all those fun carnival games you use to play as a child before technology?

reindeer games

That’s what the games are like at Peppermint Park! Each game, ran by an elf – of course, is old school fun. We threw “snowballs’ and did some bowling, played a spin game and more. With each game, you had the chance to win a wooden token. The wooden tokens are redeemed for toys.

Outdoor Shows

In addition to the sparkling lights, elf houses and games are a host of outdoor shows to watch. From a talking Christmas tree to a penguin show, the kids enjoyed each. 

Activites

If all of that wasn’t enough – there are various activities to do as well.

decorating christmas cookies

There is a Reindeer Dance Party, a holiday train to ride thru-out the park, storytime with Mrs. Claus, Christmas cookie decorating and more. 

making christmas ornaments - hilton anatole

Christmas Staycation

We were hosted for the night for Christmas at the Anatole. As always, the rooms were amazing.If you have multiple kids like us, ask about family options.

BIG Dallas - Hilton Anatole

Our room was configured perfectly for a family with children. We each had our space but we had easy access to one another. 

Movie Night – Polar Express

The Anatole offers a Holiday Experience package. Learn more here. Part of the fun at Christmas at the Anatole is the movie night!

polar express movie night hilton anatole

That’s right, you can visit a ballroom if you stay on a holiday weekend and enjoy a Christmas movie. We watched Polar Express. The Anatole staff goes all out, offering pillows to lay on while watching the show. 

Media Grill Review

For dinner and lunch, we dined at Media Grill in the Anatole. It’s a great restaurant that offers a variety of food types, an awesome beer menu and a cheese plate that is to die for.

Cheese Plate Media Grill Hilton Anatole

I have actually tried to replicate it since we’ve been home – I failed, guess we need to go back!

Breakfast with Santa

Peppermint Park was amazing. We loved the hotel room and the wonderful food. But guys, Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christ – and Santa. I had to say Christ – but you know SANTA – he kind of is a big deal. 

Breakfast with Santa at the Hilton Anatole is the best. No seriously. The Anatole goes ALL out for breakfast. The food is amazing and TOTALLY KID FRIENDLY. From Grinch casserole to a pancake bar to an amazing assortment of eggs, bacon and what have you. I drool just thinking of all of the yum on that breakfast buffet. I can’t forget to mention unlimited chocolate milk.

Breakfast with Santa Dallas, TX Hilton Anatole Christmas

Santa walks from table to table greeting each of the children. It’s so sweet as it’s the same Santa we’ve seen there the last several years. Our third kid was asked by Santa if he has been good. This kid is too honest – so he told Santa that he is smart. He didn’t dare tell Santa that he might not have been on his best behavior this year!

breakfast with Santa anatole dallas

Breakfast with Santa at Christmas at the Anatole concludes with storytime with Santa. All of the kids circle around Santa’s chair and he reads them the Night Before Christmas. My very busy, can’t-sit-still-child – sat and listened attentively. Talk about Christmas miracle!

Geppetto’s Marionette Theater – Featuring Winter Wonderland

Our wonderful Christmas Staycation at the Anatole itinerary ended with a fabulous puppet show at Geppetto’s Marionette Theater. Geppetto’s is located in the Hilton Anatole. This puppet theater is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. From walking downstairs to this darling quaint theater, you instantly know something special is about to happen.

gepettos marionette dallas

This Christmas’ puppet show is called Winter Wonderland. It’s a fun collection of holiday songs featuring various puppets. The show ends with a backstage tour. Totally fun and this is something you can buy tickets for without doing the entire Christmas at the Anatole event (but the whole Christmas at the Anatole event is so worth it.)

Take a whirlwind journey to the North Pole in Geppetto’s Marionette Theater’s holiday show, featuring a cast of over 60 hand-carved marionettes. Children will delight as they meet the Winter Wizard, the North Pole dancing elves, the magic toys of Santa’s workshop and a whole host of other holiday favorites, including Rudolph and Frosty.

Learn more about Geppetto’s. 

Family Christmas Memories

If you are looking for an all-inclusive family Christmas memory making event, definitely consider a staycation at the Hilton Anatole.

making Christmas memories

Thanks Anatole for hosting us. We had a blast and made memories that will last a lifetime. 

 

Non-Traditional LEGO Gifts for LEGO Lovers

Non-Traditional LEGO Gifts for LEGO Lovers

Are you looking for LEGO Gifts but really don’t want to buy your LEGO love anymore LEGOs? Look no further, we have got the perfect non-traditional LEGO gift idea list!

Best LEGO Gifts for LEGO Lovers (that aren’t actually LEGOs!)

If you are sick of buying LEGOs but know that your gift recipient loves LEGOs, this list is for you.

Best Lego gifts

 

LEGO Salt and Pepper Shaker

LEGO salt and pepper shakers are the perfect addition to nerd up any kitchen! For under $20, this gift will bring a smile to the chef that loves them some LEGOs. 

Buy on Amazon

Minifigure and Building Bricks Molds

Use this minifigure and building bricks mold for making candy, chocolate, melting crayons and more! This iLEGO gift idea under $10

Buy on Amazon

Technic Power Motor Set

Pimp out any LEGO set with the Technic Power Motor Set. This LEGO motor set will take your building to a whole another level. 

Buy on Amazon

Chain Reactions Kit

This was under the Christmas tree last year for our LEGO lover! With the Chain Reactions Kit, you can build 10 amazing moving machines. 

Buy on Amazon

Ninjago Movie Torch Light

Perfect for using as a nightlight or reading light, this Ninjago torch light has an auto-off switch at 30 minutes. If you are decorating a LEGO bedroom, this is a must-have.

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Brick Backpack

Start the new semester in style with this LEGO Brick Backpack! It looks just like a brick! 

Buy on Amazon

Stormtrooper Minifigure Alarm Clock

Wake up with a stormstrooper – this LEGO alarm clock is just too cute. 

Buy on Amazon

Blue Brick Kids Light Up Alarm Clock

If the stormtrooper isn’t your thing, this LEGO alarm clock looks like a blue brick and lights up!

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack

Yes, LEGOs are a video game. Build and create offline and online with the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack. 

Buy on Amazon

9-Pack Building Brick Markers

They are brick markers that look like LEGOs! Perfect stocking stuffer. 

Buy on Amazon

Minifigure LED Headlamp 

Our kids love their headlamps. This adorable LED LEGO headlamp would be perfect for reading or exploring. 

Buy on Amazon

Four LEGO Blocks Adult Tee 

Own your love for LEGOs with this Lego shirt!

Buy on Amazon

Build-On Brick Mug

LEGO coffee mug? Yes, please. 

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Batman Bedding Set

Another great addition to a LEGO bedroom is this fabulous LEGO Batman bedding set! 

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Brick Lunchbox

Bring your lunch to school in style with this LEGO lunchbox. 

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Ideas Book

Spark an crazy LEGO creation with this LEGO Ideas book. 

Buy on Amazon 

Kids Minifigure Buildable Watch

What kid doesn’t love watches? Up the game with this cool minifigure LEGO watch that is buildable!

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Drinking Bottle 

All the cool kids carry LEGO drinking bottles!

Buy on Amazon

9-Pack Graphite Pencils

Not just a regular pencil, check out these graphic LEGO pencils.

Buy on Amazon

LEGO Emmett Hoodie

This LEGO Emmett Hoodie is just the cutest. Dress up like Emmett, while keeping warm. 

Buy on Amazon

If you have a LEGO lover in your house, hoping you enjoyed these fabulous non-traditional LEGO Gifts idea list!

View our other Gift Ideas

Best Way to Teach Money Management to a Teenager

Best Way to Teach Money Management to a Teenager

This post about how to teach money management to teens is brought to you by Current. All opinions are my own.

It happened. That sweet little baby girl that I gave birth to, what feels like just a few years ago is now actually a 14-years-old freshman in high school. She is smart, beautiful, has a level head on her shoulders, actively involved in school and church and has a bright future ahead.

Teaching Teens About Money

In just 3.5 short years, our daughter will be ready to fly the coop. That gives us have 3.5 more years to get in as many life lessons as possible. We’ve constantly drilled into her to be grateful for all things. She has a generous spirit when it comes to volunteering. Driving will start in a few months. She has learned to cook. We are still working on laundry. All-in-all, thankfully our daughter has a good head on her shoulders. Many of life skills I know she will do fine with, but there is one area of concern that is kind of a big deal… Finances. 

Teens and Money - teaching teens about finances

Something I have learned as a mom is I must teach money management to my teen. It can be scary and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. For years, we have tried various ways to help her learn about money – but this year has been a real eyeopener as to how much learning she needs. With her color guard and new high school social life, she has been given money to use for various things and well let’s just say we would like to have seen it spent better. Thankfully, how we give her money and how she can use it is all about to change, thanks to Current. 

Debit Card for Teenagers to Help Teach Money Management

Current is a debit card, designed specifically for teenagers.  The Current debit card gives kids independence. It’s the perfect way to keep a watchful eye on your kids without having to get involved every time they want to spend money and is a great tool to teach teens about money management. Bonus: it’s easy and convenient to use!

When I was growing up, my parent’s opened a checking account for me in hopes that I would learn money management that way. Getting money out was a joke. As a teen, I often wrote hot checks – unknowing of how much actual money I had. The whole process was tedious and frustrating. 

Teach Money Management to Teens

Current offers a solution to the frustration that I experienced as a teen.  With this debit card, the teenager and parent know exactly how much money is in the Current account, and how it is being spent. It is a practical teaching tool that helps with financial boundaries and education. 

A few years ago, I was sitting in a parent meeting at church and something was said that stuck out to me. If your child is going to make mistakes, it’s best that they do them under your roof so that you can help them and guide them to a solution. While I know that my kids will make financial issues (don’t we all?) – if they can learn the basic principals and make any mistakes and find resolution at home, think how much better they will be prepared when they do hit that bump in the future. 

Current Debit Card

Here is how Current works. 

Current Debit Card App

First, this Current debit card speaks teen. With the debit card, there is an accompanying app. The Current debit card app is both for the teens and parents and is a fabulous tool to teach money management. It serves as a virtual wallet for the teen and as a control panel for the parents. 

Teen App

On the teens’ app, they will see their money and options for how they use it. The Current app gives your teenager 3 virtual wallets. One for spending, savings, and giving.

Current Debit Card App - Manageing Money

This will help teach your kids the basic principals of money management. The app even has the option to automate savings through a round-up feature.

debit card for kids

Here is more on the virtual wallets offered in the Current app: 

Spending Wallet - Current AppThe Spending wallet

This is linked to the debit card. It’s for day-to-day expenses, viewing their allowance and managing chores.

 

Savings Wallet - Current AppThe Savings wallet

This helps kids to put money away for a rainy day. Kids can automate savings through our round-ups feature.

 

Giving Wallet - Current AppThe Giving wallet

This enables kids to donate to thousands of local and national causes. It helps to teach empathy.

 

Your kids can easily see where their money is and how to use it. They can donate, automate savings and if needed – request additional funds. 

Parents App

On the parents’ app interface, you can automate deposits, as well as set limits and see where your kid is spending their money. There are no additional fees for transactions. 

Current Debit Card App for Parents

Automate Allowance – Digitize Your Kids Allowance!

One of my favorite features is the ability to automate her allowance payments. That’s right, no more having to have cash or worry about her losing it (that NEVER happens.) We set up a weekly payment for our daughter’s allowance that is deposited every Friday. 

automate allowance

Chore for Payment

Another fabulous feature of the Current debit card app is the Chore for payment feature. You set up a chore, such as clean your room, decide on how much your teen should be paid and the frequency. Once your child marks the chore as complete, you will be notified to review and finalize the payment. 

additional chores for money

Set Spending Limits

Another great benefit of the Current debit card for teens is the ability to limit spending on categories. 

limit teen spending - current app

Current Pay

If you are needing to give your child money often, you will want to setup Current pay. WIth Current pay, you are able to do a quick, real-time payment between your account and your child’s account. This was super easy to do. Just click Current Pay and make a deposit from your bank to the parent account. This will let you have money on hand to quickly give your child if you ever need to give above anything that is automated, such as an allowance payment. 

Teaching Teens About Money

Money is a foundational element of life. Teaching your teens about money is critical. The Current debit card is an amazing tool to get your teens acclimated to budgeting, spending, saving and giving.  And the best part? The whole process of teaching your teens about money involves technology that your kids are already familiar with, their phone! You don’t have to worry about your teen losing their cash. You can see exactly where their money is being spent. The best part, of course, is that your teenager is learning how best to manage their finances.  Parenting is hard, so glad there are tools like Current to help us teach money management to our kids. 

Current Debit Card Pricing

The cost of the Current Debit Card is affordable and well worth it.  It is just $3 a month for 1 kid or $4 a month for 2 kids. If you have more kids, it’s just a $1 more a month per kid! There are no additional fees, unless they spend internationally (5% fee) or if you need to replace their debit card ($5). 

More About Current

Current is a financial technology startup that enables people to more effectively manage their money with family and friends

  • Current combines a free debit card for each of your children with a mobile app
  • Current does it for a one, flat annual fee with no hidden charges or upselling
  • Current’s flexible, API-based platform adapts to the needs of each user, allowing parents to transfer money, automate allowances, set up and reward chores, put spending control in place and maintain visibility into their children’s spending with real-time alerts.

Learn more about Current

What tips do you have for parents on how to teach money management to teens?

 

 

Review & Giveaway: Keep an Eye on Your House and Kids While You are Away with There Logitech Circle 2

Review & Giveaway: Keep an Eye on Your House and Kids While You are Away with There Logitech Circle 2

The Logitech Circle 2 Video Camera was provided to Digital Mom Blog for review. 

Last year, our friends sent us over the Logi Circle home security camera for review. It has been a total game changer in our house in enabling us to watch our kids from a distance when they stay at home alone and give us peace of mind when we are away.  Logitech’s Circle cameras allow you to keep an eye on your kids and home from anywhere with the Circle app.

(Psst… we are hosting a Logitech Circle 2 home security camera GIVEAWAY. Keep reading to see how you can enter for your chance to WIN!)

Circle 2 Review

This year, Logitech introduced two new Logitech Circle 2 home security cameras. Both a wired and wire-free versions of the camera. In addition to the new edition, Logitech has made several updates to the camera. 

Logitech Circle 2 Review

We received the new wired version of the Circle 2 video camera for review. Here’s what you need to know about the wired Logitech Circle 2. The camera can be used inside or outside. We use our’s in our living room. 

The Logitech Circle 2 wired offers the same Logitech Circle app that the original Circle camera used, but the actual camera has received a complete makeover.

Logi Circle vs Logitech Circle 2

The Circle 2 offers a complete cosmetic change. No longer is there a charging ring design. The body is now a new sleeker shape and offers an IP65 weatherization rating. (And IP65 weatherization rating means it can withstand waters and temperatures from -4 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to cosmetic upgrades, Logitech has built in significant upgrades to the core technology. The camera now offers a 180-degree field of view, versus a 135-degree angle. The original Circle camera offered a 720p resolution, where the new Logitech Circle 2 offers up to full HD 1080p resolution. Another feature is the new integrations with Google, Apple and Alexa –  read more below. 

Logitech Circle 2 Review

Both the original Circle camera and new Circle 2 camera offer motion detection, up to 15 feet of night vision and two-way audio. 

Here you can view a photo taken with the original Circle in December 2016:

Logitech Circle Camera

This photo was taken with the new Logitech Circle 2: 

Logitech Home Security Camera

As you can see, the new camera is in a different location. The house is a mess, but you get the idea. (I like to keep it real, actually – I just don’t have the energy to tell the kids to clean.) You can see the clarity that the new Circle 2 surveillance camera provides. Also, check out the view – you can definitely see the 180-degree wide view and the clarity of the photo. Again, both of these were taken with the camera via the Circle app. 

Setting Up the Camera

Setting up the camera required minimal effort.  Here are the steps to set up the wired Logitech Circle 2 camera:

  1. Unbox your Circle 2 Camera.
  2. Line up the indicators on your camera and mount. 
  3. Attach your camera to the mount. 
  4. Rotate the camera on the mount to the preferred orientation.
  5. Plug the USB cable into the USB adapter 
  6. Plug the USB adapter into an outlet
  7. Install the Logitech Circle app
  8. Add a camera

From unboxing to using the camera was maybe 10 minutes total. 

Logitech Circle App

The Logitech circle app is your link to the camera. Within the app, you can view live what is happening, click day brief to view a time-lapse compilation of the day’s videos, and more. 

Out of the box, Circle comes with 24 hours of free storage for your surveillance video clips. You can upgrade to a Circle Safe or Circle Safe Premium subscription for more storage and advanced features. 

Circle 2 Integrations

Circle 2 integrates seamlessly with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant. 

Tell Alexa to turn on Circle 2 before you leave home, use Apple HomeKit to control your place while you’re away, or ask Google Assistant to pull up your camera’s live stream on your phone or Chromecast device. No matter how you manage your smart home, Circle 2’s integrations have you covered.

We haven’t yet set up on integrations, but looking forward to all of the possibilities that this offers! 

Keeping an Eye on the House and Kids

As a parent, I can’t stress the usefulness and peace of mind that this home surveillance camera provides. As mentioned, the above photo was snapped with the camera while I was out shopping. My husband has been sick and was asleep in the room. Our third kid wakes up early every morning. I was able to log in from the Logitech Circle app, see what he was up to. Since the camera has a mic, I was able to hear what he was watching. With the two-way audio, I was able to tell him good morning and check-in to make sure he was okay and knew that dad was asleep.

Logitech Circle 2 Review - Home Surveillance Camera

There is SYRUP on the coffee table! Mom is obviously not home.

Another reason we love the camera is being able to know what is going on when the family isn’t home. We go out of town as a family several times a year. We have 2 dogs that require a dog sitter while we are out-of-town. The camera lets us know when the dog sitter arrives, also helps keep an eye on the house to make sure that we know what is going on. 

Home Security

All-in-all we love the ease-of-use, convenience, and peace of mind that the Logitech Circle 2 home security camera provides our home and family.  If you are in the market for a home security camera, the Logitech Circle 2 offers both wired and wire-free options for whatever your DIY home security needs are. 

Learn more at Logitech 

Logitech Circle 2 Giveaway

So you have read how cool this home security camera is. We are super excited to be hosting a giveaway with Logitech to give a Circle 2 camera away to a Digital Mom Blog reader!  Here is how you can enter for your chance to win: 

Logitech Circle 2 Home Security Camera Giveaway