Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mapping My Heart

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and AT&T FamilyMap

Over the next week, Em will turn 12, and start middle school. She's excited. Beyond excited, really. Jumping out of her skin excited, to be honest. Unable to think or talk about anything else.

Whereas, me? I'm...freaking out. Beyond freaking out, really. Jumping out of my skin freaking out, to be honest.

But I'm trying to keep my head about me. Trying. I mean, Em's a really good kid. She sometimes does dumb things, but she's a good kid. And it's time to let her spread her wings a little, experience some independence.

As long as I can be right there watching every move she makes.

I kid! I kid! And yet...

Let's just say that AT&T's FamilyMap couldn't have come along at a better time for me.

Here's the basic premise: AT&T believes that knowledge is not just power, it's peace of mind. And so they've created the FamilyMap as a way to give parents that knowledge, power, and peace.

More specifically, if you're an AT&T mobile customer (like me) who has a family plan (like me), the FamilyMap allows you to track the location of all the other phones in your plan, including your own, simply by visiting the FamilyMap website, either on your computer or on your mobile phone's web browser.

But it gets even better. Because the FamilyMap allows you to actually schedule any number of check-ins, and then it does those check-ins automatically. So, say your kid is supposed to be home from school by 3:30 every afternoon. You set up the scheduler to check at that time, and to determine if the phone (and hence the kid) is at your pre-assigned home location. If all is well, the FamilyMap makes a note in your 7-day history (which is one of the tabs on your FamilyMap home page), and you and your kid can both get on with your lives. But if the phone and the kid aren't where they're supposed to be, the FamilyMap notifies you in whatever way you requested (text or email), so you can start planning exactly how many days she'll be grounded for.

I have to tell you: the whole idea of being able to keep tabs without even having to think about it? Awesome.

The downsides? The AT&T FamilyMap is most accurate--in terms of how close you can pinpoint a phone's location--in places where cell service is best. Where I live, in a foothill community? Cell service is never best. (Darn you, large rocky mountains that surround us on all sides. Sure, you're beautiful, but you mess with my phone service!) So, while I could pinpoint Em to within a few dozen yards when she was at a friend's house in the San Fernando Valley, the plus-minus up here, where we live? A mile and a half. Since our house and the middle school are within a mile and a half of each other, it seems like it would be hard to know for sure where she is. Plus, since the schools require the kids to keep their cell phones turned off at all times--and the FamilyMap obviously needs the phone to be on in order to pick up its signal--I won't be able to make sure she gets to school in the mornings.

Which isn't a big deal, actually, since I'll be dropping her off on my way to work. Poor thing. This means she'll never be able to do what I did in high school, and just decide to stay on the (New York City Transit) bus past the school stop until it reached the mall. OK, I only did it once...or twice...but it was totally fun. (Hi, Mom! Nothing to see here! Plus, I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations on that little misdemeanor ran out about 30 years ago.) But I digress...

AT&T's focus for the FamilyMap is, for obvious reasons, your ability to know where your kids are. But in just the short time I've been using it, I've found use for it in tracking adults, too. For instance, say your husband has the navigational skills of a lobotomized rock, and the classic y-chromosomal refusal to ask for directions. Hypothetically, I mean, of course. (Hi, sweetie! Of course I'm not talking about you! I'm talking about my hypothetical husband, Daroy!)

If this is the case, no problem! After all, the FamilyMap is an actual map. It doesn't just show you the isolated spot where your family member is...It shows you the entire area around that spot, allowing you to zoom in and out as needed so that you can read street names, and tell your beloved that the problem is he needed to turn left, not right, at Azusa, you big stupidhead.

And how would you tell him? Once you've located your geographically challenged loved one, you can send them a text message using the "send message" link in the location bubble. That way, you can give them directions ("LEFT, I said!"), ask them a question ("Why won't you listen to me and turn left?"), or just let them know you're lurking in the bushes keeping an eye on them.

Which is exactly what I did to poor Baroy, when he took the kids to the beach last Friday.

"You're in Venice!" I texted him after calling up his location on my work computer. (Let me say that again: on my work computer. As in, he was walking along sandy beaches with the kids, frolicking in the waves, and eating pizza, while I was in an overly air-conditioned office writing about bacterial chemoreceptors. Why, yes, I was bitter. OK, OK. Am bitter.) "Somewhere near Venice Blvd. and Pacific Ave."

A half hour later: "Now you're walking up toward Santa Monica! Going to get the bus back?"

And after another 15 minutes had passed: "On the Santa Monica pier, I see..."

To which Baroy finally replied, with a single-word text: "STALKER!!!"

That alone? Makes it worth the money.

To learn more, and sign up for a free, 30-day trial, check out the FamilyMap site.

*******
So, now that I've told you about the good stuff, here's the even better stuff:

You can win a $100 Visa gift card, courtesy of AT&T FamilyMap, by leaving a comment on this entry any time between now and September 20, 2009, and answering the following question:

How does knowledge give you peace of mind?

If you'd prefer, you can also just leave a link to a post on your own blog in the comments below. In either case, make sure the email address you leave is a valid, correct one.

The Rules:
  • No duplicate comments.
  • BUT...you may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
  • OR...you may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
  • This giveaway is open to US residents, aged 18 and older.
  • Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by email.
  • You have 48 hours to get back to me; after that, I'll select a new winner.
And, as if that wasn't enough, you can also up your chances of winning by checking out how the rest of the BlogHer Reviewers explored AT&T FamilyMap, and leaving comments on their entries, too!

On your mark, get set...comment!

93 comments:

  1. I would love this even though I don't have a kid, if there was a way to turn it on and off so my family couldn't stalk me when I don't want them to. But I get lost quite often, and it would be great if someone could talk me down the right streets sometimes.

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  2. Love this post. I think I'm going to very much enjoy this new blog of yours!!! As for knowledge and peace of mind: It's always better to know than to wonder. ;-)

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  3. Okey Doke - how does knowledge give me peace of mind? Well, I have an active imagination and am very capable of imagining the absolutely worst case (however unlikely) scenario - - so it is much better to know that DH is just late and driving ever so cautiously on his way home than to picture his bloodied mangled body in a ditch. Knowledge is a good thing.

    have fun with the new blog,
    w
    midwestgreen.wordpress.com

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  4. I'm amazing at imagining the worst. Have a little bit of knowledge might help with that. DH has something similar w/ his cell phone but has it linked up to Google Latitude. I guess I can watch him to make sure he stops for beer/wine on the way home. ;-)

    Fun new blog!
    Maryann

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  5. Ooh, I love the idea of you reviewing products. This one actually makes me want to go out and get my own home stalking package! Love that the recipient doesn't actually have to know you are keeping an eye on them, definitely a plus for the mom of a pre-teen eye rolling kid!

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  6. This blog is a great idea for you TC! Your writing style fits right in with Mir, Pioneer Woman, etc. Congrats on getting it started and I hope you're wildly successful!

    I would have given you a tweet out anyway, but with the chance of a 2nd contest entry, I'll definitely do it! :-)

    As for the FamilyMap itself, I will probably give it a try. M is quite responsible and has never been caught going where she isn't supposed to be (or not telling me where she's going) so I'm not sure I'd learn anything. Intentional dawdling is another story completely however ...

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  7. Can the feature be turned off/does it have some sort of parental control option? While it seems useful for children, I personally wouldn't want the ability to track my husband at all times, nor would I want him to be able to track me. That just oversteps a boundary in my book and becomes creepy and makes me think there is a lack of trust in the relationship. Just as it can reassure fears that people are where they're supposed to be, I'm sure it can also cause problems when they're not, even when there's a perfectly good explanation.

    Also, let's be honest, if you were a teenager doing something you shouldn't be doing, you'd just turn off the phone and apologize later that your "phone died." Or that's what I would have done as a kid!

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  8. This would actually be kind of useful as my boyfriend heads off on his motorcycle trip. I could check the map periodically to make sure his dot is still moving and isn't, say, completely still on some windy mountain road.

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  9. (In my best "repeat the question in your answer" pageant voice): Knowledge gives me peace of mind because I know what I know and what I don't know and thus, by knowing, know that which I should be peace-of-mindful about. Thank you!

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  10. Knowledge gives me peace of mind, especially when it comes to the whereabouts of my two sons, one age 20 the other 16. When they started driving I was constantly worried if I did not know where they were.
    jedoggett@embarqmail.com

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  11. Knowledge gives me power by calming the savage beast in my imagination so that I don't overreact to something before knowing it should be overreacted to. :-)

    LOVE the new blog, TC!

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  12. AH HA, you are your AB's child, not your mother's as I never ever got caught and she did!!! LOL

    I have Verizon, also, I have no family to track unless they track heaven and hell. (G)

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  13. I think the idea of this is good but at the same time how are kids ever to make mistakes if parents are watching their evey move.

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  14. Knowledge gives me peace of mind because I'm always worried about what's going around someone I know, and not always what THEY are doing, so being aware of where they are or whatnot is great.

    lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

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  15. i tweeted this too:

    http://twitter.com/ShootingStarMag/status/3639278777

    lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

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  16. tweeted http://twitter.com/annedoggett/statuses/3654591682
    jedoggett@embarqmail.com

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  17. A Daughter who seems to always find a way to have a problem with her car in the winter, This gives us an idea of where whe might be and that she is having a problem. If she doesn't arrive home after work that evening on time, then we don't have to wait for her to call(that is if she remembered to charge her phone). That's the only thing I would see as a draw back.

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  18. Knowing where my children are and who they're with really puts my mind at ease. I was one of those parents that resisted cell phones for a long time but the convenience of being able to pick up the phone and call my children wherever they are is the best benefit of my children having their own cell phones.
    My daughter turned 13 a few months ago. Last year she wanted to try walking home from school. I was a nervous wreck that day imagining all kinds of different senarios. Luckily, I had given her my cell phone to take with her when she walked home so I knew that if something happened, she'd call. That day convinced me to get her a phone of her own.

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  19. Blogged:
    http://auntiethesis.blogspot.com/2009/08/at-family-map-aka-track-teen.html

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  20. Tweeted:
    http://twitter.com/auntiethesis/status/3660553526

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  21. Its better to know the location of your loved ones in a case where something dangerous can happen and you can get a location to send help.

    nightowlmama at comcast dot net

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  22. Knowing where my family is and who they are with keeps me sane. When I know where they are and who they are with then I don't have to worry about them being in an unsafe situation or with people they should not be with.

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  23. Knowledge to me, puts your mind at ease...you have peace of mind.

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  24. Knowledge doesn't always give me peace of mind but then I'm a worrier and borderline pessimist. You know that saying be careful what you ask for? Some things, I would rather not know... especially when you have teens like I do. But then, I do want to know everything they do! So what to do? :)

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  25. knowledge about when, where and how is important today for almost anyone between the ages of 5-25, especially when not in or with a group. the world is a different place than when most of us old enough to have a family plan grew up!

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  26. Knowledge, especially as a consumer, can mean the difference between buying and using a superior product vs. one that is going to cause you grief and waste your time in the long run. Time is precious, just like family.

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  27. Knowledge is power because it helps you make informed choices and also feel like it's the best one for you :)

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  28. Knowing where my loved ones are and at the time they should be there goes a long way. Most problems aren't discovered until someone is way overdue. To me, that is how knowledge can bring me peace of mind.

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  29. I definitely tend towards anxiety, so the more concrete knowledge I have, the more peace of mind!

    misseliza123 att gmail

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  30. I think learning about something takes the mystery out of it and, really, what's scarier than the unknown?!

    Thanks for the awesome contest!

    aprilwoodscary@gmail.com

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  31. I tweeted: http://twitter.com/MommyNamedApril/status/3723747914

    aprilwoodscary at gmail dot com

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  32. As a dad of quadruplet boys, I am sure that this function will eventually be amazingly helpful. If this was accurate to the inch, I would consider purchasing the plan, implanting the phones in their diapers, and tracking them around my house with my phone. They are hard to keep up with now, I cannot imagine some day when they are off at school!

    Brad
    bradley.g.murray@gmail.com
    www.murraycrew.blogspot.com

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  33. I would rather know than not. Knowing wheter good or bad, does give me peace of mind. Cell phones give us that peace of mind because your loved one is only a call away.

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  34. tweeted: http://twitter.com/carogonza/status/3756879922

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  35. I have peace of mind when I am aware the whereabouts of all of my loved ones and know they are all happy and healthy.
    Thanks!
    Aimee
    sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

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  36. Tweet: http://twitter.com/Nelsby/status/3773185926
    Thanks!
    Aimee
    sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

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  37. I would love to have something like this to keep up with my husband. He travels so much I can barely keep track of his schedule. He sometimes arrives at destinations late and doesn't like to call and disturb my sleep. Having his location in the mornings would be helpful and give me peace of mind.

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  38. I'm actually thinking of switching to at&t since I'll soon have two teenage drivers in the house.

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  39. My husband is in Afghanistan right now, so whenever he calls or emails, the knowledge that he's OK gives me peace of mind!

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  40. Tweet- http://twitter.com/joannagiveaway/status/3810691543

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  41. Blogged- http://pricemommysense.blogspot.com/2009/08/giveaway-monday_31.html

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  42. blogged http://abdoggett1.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-does-knowledge-give-you-peace-of.html
    jedoggett@embarqmail.com

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  43. just knowing where my kids are is peace of mind that you just can't beat.

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  44. Knowledge gives you peace of mind because you know exactly where everyone is, therefore your mind is not preoccupied with negative thoughts about where your loved ones are. Knowing that your kids, parents, siblings, and family are where they are supposed to be simply calms you down and you forget about all your worries. No longer do you have to worry and simply wait by the phone. With all the information you have access to with FamilyMap you will instantly have a greater peace of mind.

    This would give me great peace of mind because throughout the year my father has to work in locations that are sometimes 5 hours from home. Throughout this time I am really worried so I frequently call him to check how he is doing. But with Familymap I could easily check how he doing, and whether or not he has arrived at his destination. Knowing all this information would greatly give me peace of mind.

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  45. I have also tweeted about this:
    http://twitter.com/asanchez25/status/3868421818

    anabizzlecarbohydrates@yahoo.com

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  46. Knowing the Love of Christ is the ultimately the only thing that gives me peace. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  47. Blogged about giveaway:

    http://blogawaycentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/at-familymap-visa-card-giveaway.html

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  48. I remember how I like to call my boyfriend and ask him where he was or what he was doing. He would tell me he was drawing at home or watching movies with his friends. With FamilyMap, I can have peace of mind because I would know where my boyfriend actually is without having to call him. Of course, I just got to figure out how to add him into my plan. The same would apply with kids. The main reason we give them cell phones is so we can call them to see where they are or for them to contact us in an emergency. With FamilyMap, if we can't seem to contact them, we can use click a mouse and discover where they could be.

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  49. oh yeah, blog link for additional entry. :)

    http://elicabeta.livejournal.com/631.html

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  50. Knowing my kids are safe gives me peace of mind.

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  51. how does it not? if you know what is going to happen/what is happening, you can't to worry about it.

    galaxycoff@yahoo.com

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  52. blogged: http://galaxycoff.blogspot.com/2009/09/at-giveaway.html

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  53. knowledge gives me peace of mind always!! Knowing where my kids are, that they are secure, what is happening, etc.... as a mother I will always need knowledge!

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  54. My peace of mind is derived from the knowledge and fact in knowing that each day I am able to count my Multiple Blessings.

    Twincere(at)gmail(dot)com

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  55. I tweeted about this great review & giveaway here:
    http://twitter.com/Twincere/status/4004341194
    Twincere(at)gmail(dot)com

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  56. I blogged about this great review & giveaway on my blog
    http://twinceretwinkles.blogspot.com/2009/09/at-familymap-reviews-and-sweepstakes.html

    Twincere(at)gmail(dot)com

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  57. Wow, this service sounds amazing! So glad I am an AT&T customer!

    Knowledge gives me better peace of mind because I like to know what is going on...when I don't know what is going on, my mind tends to assume the worst!

    shevilkenevil1 at aol dot com

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  58. I also tweeted:

    http://twitter.com/lipstickncandy/status/4007027910

    shevilkenevil1 at aol dot com

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  59. Knowledge gives me peace of mind... I have sort of a fear of the unknown and I can better plan and intervene if I know whats going on ahead of time.

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  60. knowledge gives peace of mind because it calms the fear of the unknown :)

    ck me out at www.icoulduseadeal.blogspot.com I'm trying to build subscribers ! jtrophy at gmail dot com

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  61. i tweeted

    http://twitter.com/jtrophy/status/4007379233

    ck me out at www.icoulduseadeal.blogspot.com I'm trying to build subscribers ! jtrophy at gmail dot com

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  62. Knowledge gives me peace of mind because it is the unknown that scares me.

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

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  63. I blogged:
    http://blog-giveaways.blogspot.com/2009/09/giveaways_16.html

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

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  64. I know I'm not in control, but knowledge at least gives you a head start or a shortcut to the heart of the problem or situation you are dealing with. In the case of trying to locate a family member, at least some knowledge means you don't have to start at the bottom to claw through every possible scenario. It saves valuable time and possibly some stress.

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  65. Peace of mind comes from knowing ...instead of wondering sounds like AT & T is chocked full with parents in their R&D area :)

    just_sonjaj at yahoo dot com

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  66. I wonder if there is any way it can be shut off?

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  67. Knowledge gives me peace of mind because I hate not knowing what is going on. When you don't know for sure what is going on it is only human to assume the worst and waste lots of time in speculation.

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  68. I tweeted:

    http://twitter.com/lunaj1456/statuses/4057026093

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  69. Knowledge gives me peace of mind because I can do things myself without depending on others!

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  70. tweet: http://twitter.com/califragilistic/statuses/4075340909

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  71. I have AT & T, we are about to switch my tween over to it. I will have to check this out. She has a habit of forgetting to tell me when she goes to one friends to another. Let's see, knowledge is so important. I keep open dialog with my tween, we have cell phones & of course internet. I tell her how important it is to keep me in the loop, for her safety!

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  72. blogged http://momcontests.blogspot.com/2009/09/100-visa-gift-card.html

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  73. Tweeted http://twitter.com/momof2dancers/status/4081806608

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  74. i have AT&T cell phones and this would be great! Knowing where the family is at all times gives you a sense of peace that you just can't put a price on!

    I'd love to win this prize, thanks for sponsoring this.

    2kidsblogger(at)gmail(dot)com

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  75. http://twitter.com/2kidsblogger/status/4085089633

    tweeted

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  76. It is easier for me to accept what I can understand.

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  77. I loved reading your post, thanks for the surprises and smiles. It felt like you were sitting here and talking to me over a cup of coffee. Okay, that's a bit stalker-ish??? Re-wind. I like your writing style.

    Anyway, knowledge gives me peace of mind because it's so much easier to deal with what "is". For me, an avid reader of serial killer books (that's weird, huh?), what "is" is never as bad as what could be. James Patterson has ruined my life, wah, wah. Okay, not really.

    A great example is when you are waiting for the test results from your doctor. The waiting is the worst!

    mayacarpenter at verizon dot net

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  78. tweety-tweet http://twitter.com/janetmom2maya/status/4111563821

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  79. http://giveawaysonblogs.blogspot.com/2009/09/ends-92009.html

    bloggity-blogged

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  80. "Knowledge is power" is both a quote from Kant and Schoolhouse Rocks!! :D

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  81. And my word verification word was just "trope" :D

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  82. This sounds like a very innovative program. Seems as if it would be beneficial to everyone to have. Peace of Mind: Yeah! What if the "unspeakable" happens, police can use it to track.

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  83. my tweet: http://twitter.com/SereneMoments/status/4115759558

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  84. Here's my tweet:

    http://twitter.com/taygirl7/status/4127682216

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  85. I do yoga to get peace of mind

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  86. blogged herehttp://momsfocusonline.com/september-19th.html

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  87. I am a worry wart. Being able to know what/where my family is brings me peace of mind.Each of us have a cell phone to keep connected

    aunteegem@yahoo.com

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  88. Knowledge gives me peace of mind because I deal much better with the truth than the unknown. With the unknown, your imagination tend to run wild and makes things worse than they really are.

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  89. My tweet: http://twitter.com/njhhb/status/4132692389

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  90. knowledge gives me a peace of mind because knowing is half the battle! I think the more you know the better prepared you will be.

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  91. tweeted here:

    http://twitter.com/CouponClippin/status/4132770386

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  92. Oh, what the hell! I'll sign up....

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