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Five Last Minute Halloween Costumes

Costume IdeasYikes, how did Halloween get to be four days away? If you haven’t procured a costume yet, no worries. Life 360 just doesn’t have you covered on the location planning front, we’ve got you covered when it comes to costumes too. These five ideas take no more than a quick trip to your closet or a stop by the store.

1. (Fill in the blank) Fairy : If the Rainbow Magic Fairy series has proved anything, besides the fact that it doesn’t take much to write a successful children’s series, is that a fairy can be any kind of fairy. So grab a pair of wings (if you can’t borrow a set from a kiddo, Dollar Tree has them in every color) and some glitter. Now add your favorite thing: books, musical instrument, bottle of wine. Tada you are their new patron fairy!

2. Dress up like your Favorite Character: How much fun was book day at school? You know when you got to dress up like your favorite character. A couple of years ago my daughter was Pete the Cat: blue eyeliner whiskers, cat ears, and a jacket with paper buttons attached and DONE.

3. Opposites: So many ways to spin this one: one of my favorites, shirt on backwards, sunglasses at night, and shoes on the wrong feet. Hello opposite man! Or do a couple costume and dress like each other.

4. Undercover Superhero: If your kiddo has a superhero shirt, dress them in it, add some pants and a button up shirt. Then unbutton the shirt. Hello secret identity! Bonus points for a cape peeking out of the back of the shirt. Pro tip, any solid colored item can be a cape. Don’t be afraid to try this for yourself. We know you have a Batgirl shirt hiding in your drawer.

5. Starry Night: Black clothes, stars cut our of yellow construction paper, safety pins… tada!!

Need some more ideas? Here’s a Pinterest board full of them!

Follow Kate Canterbury’s board Last Minute Costume Ideas on Pinterest.

Don’t forget to share your Halloween costume photos and enter our contest to possibly win $100!

The magic of real online friendships

online friendsIt was the winter of 2010. My husband were on our first and only cruise (so far) of our lives. It was a pretty freaking awesome cruise. It’s called Cayamo and it’s focused on Americana musicians who perform while you sail through the tropics for a week. I barely gorged on food during that trip because we were so enamored by the musical experience.

On the last night at the final performance of the trip, my husband and I met a couple sitting behind us. We talked for maybe 30 minutes and it was like we had stumbled into our new best friends. We had a similar sense of humor. They had the same intense love for the same music we loved intensely. It was awesome. The show started, we said goodbye and the next day we went our merry ways when the ship reached the dock.

But the couple we met decided they would track us down. We had shared some information about our careers that was searchable on the web. They initially reached out to us through email. Eventually we connected through Facebook. We have enjoyed cyber conversations together for the last four years through social media.

I had a chance to meet up with the couple on my own while I was visiting Atlanta during a conference last year. Obviously, we went to see a show. But we didn’t get to hang out very long. What was amazing was how the friendship launched over 30 minutes was still so great. We really enjoyed our time together.

Fast forward to this Fall. I started asking around about what my husband and I should do for our big birthday year. I turned 40 and he turned 50. It seemed like a kind of celebration that deserved travel and music. Our online cruise friends recommended New Orleans. We recruited my husband’s brother and his wife. Our online cruise friends invited us to stay with them at their New Orleans condo. And you know what, we had an amazing time. We enjoyed amazing food. We listened to great music. We were able to continue to grow a friendship that was founded through social media.

I’ve learned a few things from some pretty wonderful friendships I’ve built from social media relationships:

  1. Taking a relationship that started more online than in person is very possible to foster and grow. When you conduct yourself online exactly the way you conduct yourself in person, the connections you make online are as real as the ones in person.
  2. Find opportunities to meet in person. I’m so glad I found a way to see my friends in person last year. My husband didn’t get a chance to be there, but I know that one night visit helped prove the friendship we had formed is for real. That one in-person visit made this month’s New Orleans trip more possible.
  3. Not all friendships are “friends at first sight.” But if you ever stumble into one, take advantage of tools like email, social networks and even snail mail to keep the connection. It’s totally work it.

I’m clearly riding a high from our awesome short vacation with our online cruise friends. I look forward to finding a way to enjoy music together again sometime soon. I know we won’t wait another four and a half years before all of us can get together again.

Preparing a first-time driver to hit the road

preparing a first-time driverMy daughter is in the process of getting her driver’s license. She’s my third child, so I’ve been through this before. My older two kids are boys, but there’s not really anything different about going through the driver training process with a girl. Except when I send her to the store she will know the right kind of chocolate to get me. (Trick question–all chocolate is the right kind of chocolate.)

  1. Here are some of the ways we are preparing our daughter to own the road. 1. Basic auto maintenance My parents taught me how to change a tire and check a car’s fluids before I was ever allowed to drive by myself. Even with today’s computer-run vehicles, there are some basics every driver needs to know. The owner’s manual for your family car is a great place to start. 2. Your family’s rules for car usage Is driving a right or a privilege in your house? Determine before the first time the keys are handed over what the rights and responsibilities for car usage are. This is an easier conversation to have before there are problems. Clear communication will prevent misunderstanding and disappointment later. Can you believe some people don’t know they shouldn’t return a car with the gas tank empty? 3. Disaster preparedness Don’t count on driver’s ed to teach your kid what to do in case of a weather emergency or an accident. What happens when it’s time for them to drive home and the weather is worsening? What should they do when the car breaks down on the Interstate or a back road? If you don’t have the right answers, a little internet research will help you with the basics. Make sure your inexperienced driver has the information she needs. 4. Talk about distracted driving Sure, they know it’s wrong to drive impaired, but be clear about texting, talking on the phone, and even when they take eyes off the road to change the radio station. One way I’ve done this is by modeling good behavior. When I am driving, my phone is either zipped in my purse or entrusted to one of them as my “Phone Captain”. Phone Captain checks any necessary phone activity and answers calls that come in while I pay attention to driving. 5. Set up Life360 Since they already have smart phones, my children use the Life360 app to check in at a friend’s house or on a babysitting job. A one-touch check in lets me know when they arrive or leave. And with our premium membership, I know they’ll have the Live Advisor service if they ever need emergency assistance. It provides them and me with peace of mind. Mostly me, but still.

In the seven years since my oldest got his license, a lot has changed with technology. He didn’t even have a flip phone until after he started driving. Now amazing tech is in every book bag. Use it to help inform and protect your new driver.

Share your Halloween costume photos and win! #Scare360

#scare360 photo contestWe, just like lots of people, love seeing your creative, funny, or scary Halloween costumes, so why not share with us for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card?

On Instagram, follow us @Life360app, and tag your costume photos with our handle and #Scare360.

On Facebook, you can share your photos on our wall and tag them #Scare360.

On Twitter, follow us @Life360 and again, tag us and the photo with #Scare360.

We’ll randomly choose a winner from all eligible entries, on Nov. 3, 2014.

Fine print: Photo must be set as public to be considered, and by entering the contest, you give us permission to re-share your photo if you are the winner.

A closer look at Life360’s Live Advisor service

Live Advisor Life360Millions of people rely on the free Life360 app due to keep track of their families and increase their lines of communication.

About three years ago, Life360 introduced their 24/7 Live Advisor program, as a part of its Premium plan. Recognizing the role Life360 plays in many families lives, they wanted to go to the next level and really support families in their times of need.

Live Advisor is the ultimate lifeline for everyone in your Circle. With just one press on the Live Advisor button, you are automatically connected to a Live Advisor.

Immediately, the Live Advisor can help you with:

  • PERSONAL EMERGENCIES: Auto accidents, Auto breakdowns/roadside needs, Medical assistance, Missing family members
  • SEVERE WEATHER AND NATURAL DISASTERS: Tornados, Hurricanes, Floods, Thunderstorms, Landslides, Earthquakes, Tsunamis
  • OTHER EMERGENCY SITUATIONS: Major power outages, Hazardous material breaches, Terrorist Events

Yes, even terrorist events, though hopefully, this situation is less likely to occur. Have you been in an emergency situation before where you’re just not sure who to call first? Or perhaps you call your husband or wife right away and they don’t answer? And as Murphy’s Law would have it, your cellphone is about to lose its battery power?

I wanted to learn more about the Live Advisor program so I talked with Jenn Yettke, Customer Support Manager at Life360. She told me that they receive 100 calls a day through their Live Advisor support center, though a number of them are app support calls on using the LIfe360 app.

Jenn told me a number of actual stories that Live Advisors assisted customers with. Here are a few…

Lost Phone One customer lost his phone on the side of the highway, a Live Advisor was able to use the satellite view on the application to guide the customer and locate the missing phone.

Needed Tow Truck Assistance One customer was stuck in the middle of the dessert and he was unable to find a location to send a tow truck. The customer used the Live Advisor feature and with the assistance of the mapping system, Life360 was able to locate him and send out a tow truck to get him assistance.

The Live Advisor call center teamRunaway Daughter A customer’s minor daughter had run away and was being located to a certain location before her phone lost connection. We helped identify the nearest location to her last known address and the customer was then able to figure out where she was from there.

Wow, what great stories. In my conversation with Jenn I realized more innately how tremendous a resource the Life Advisor button is…and it’s right at our fingertips.

How Life360 Could Help You Imagine how Live Advisor could help your family….

    1. Say you’re running errands and are late to pick up your daughter from high school. Your phone is about to die. Knowing your daughter may not have her phone turned on yet, you call Life360 and they can advise your daughter that you’re on your way and let her know how far away you are.
    2. Your son gets in a car crash. He’s OK, but the car isn’t and the person he crashed into isn’t so happy. Your son can call Live Advisor to notify the people in his family Circle what has happened and the Live Advisor can contact members of his family Circle to come to his aid as he talks to the angry driver.
    3. Your daughter has night classes at college and is always a little nervous walking around at night. She could call the Live Advisor to “walk” with her until she reaches her car safely.
    4. Your elderly parent loves to walk but over the last several months you’ve noticed she is not as mentally clear as she once was. As long as she has her phone with her, she can press the Life Advisor button to get assistance on making her way back home.
    5. You’ve been watching a fire in the hills near your home. Now it’s time to evacuate. You can call Live Advisor to notify your family or friends within your Circle to give them an update so you can focus on getting out safely.
    6. Your husband is driving home from work and runs out of gas. He can call Live Advisor to send a tow truck to assist him.

Live Advisor is just one of the benefits of upgrading to the Premium version. Other benefits include:

  • Unlimited location updates for non-smartphones
  • Unlimited Places
  • $100 in stolen phone protection
  • Expanded History data – great for keeping track of your teens

You can upgrade to Premium for $5/mo or $50/year (2 months free). Live Advisor can give you and your children extra peace of mind and instant aid in the time of need. It’s your lifeline…or your back-up plan. Either way, you’re covered.

Introducing the new Notification Center, your family’s daily activity feed

check in feedYour phone chimes with a Life360 notification, but you don’t get a chance to read it before it clears itself off the screen; you open the app, knowing that there’s a notification for you… somewhere.

Tapping through several Circles to figure out who is checking in or sending a message, the frustration mounts as you click through trying to find this most recent update.

We get it, and we’re really excited to share with you how we’ve improved it.

This may seem like a small change to some, but it’s a big deal for us. The notifications you receive from Life360 come from the most important people in your life, so we wanted to make sure you have a simple and easy way to get them.

Our new Notification Center shows an at-a-glance feed of your family’s daily activities and real-time alerts so you can seamlessly stay connected to the most important people in your life. Now notifications of activities and check-ins are shared in a centralized activity feed. Cool, right?

Whether it’s knowing a child has arrived safely to school or seeing that a spouse has left the office, families who receive Place Alerts, Check-ins and Messages will now be able to view them all in a single feed within the app, and can message one another directly from the alert.

We have an exciting benefit for iOS 8 users, who can now receive alerts when you are not in the app. Our new Today widget and interactive notifications bring the family to your phone’s home screen by providing alerts directly to the home screen along with the ability to message other members in a seamless experience.

From our CEO and co-founder, Chris Hulls: “The new notification center is another step towards becoming the hub for the family by providing a single feed to view the family activity throughout the day, helping us simplify the chaos of family life in a world of omnipresent connected devices,” said Chris Hulls, CEO and Founder of Life360. “From communication and coordination to the Connected car and Smart Home, Life360 is working to tackle all of these things and rethink how to make the day-to-day easier and more convenient for today’s connected family.”

place alert notifications

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new Notification Center in the comments below!

Emergency, emergency!

As the mother of two kids who have medical needs via chronic, life-long conditions I feel a little smug when I tell you I know when and when not to go to the pharmacy clinic, the pediatrician, urgent care center, or the emergency room at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Our goal, because the kids are susceptible to catch other illness because of forced immune suppression, is to keep the kids out of any kind of medical office, most especially the emergency room (with a double especially during cold and flu season) if at all possible. That isn’t to say that we don’t have our share of visits. We probably go 8-12 times a year to a clinic or ER and as we look at our historical data, I’m here to tell you it’s usually on vacation or Sunday evening or a holiday. I wish I were kidding. My kids and husband are nodding yes and rolling their eyes right now.

When I was at the hospital with my daughter recently, my fellow Life360 Ambassadors were sending messages through the app and when I checked in on everyone, I noticed the hospitals and clinics . Since our last few ER visits were when we were in our home town, we went to our regular hospital emergency room. I’d forgotten how comforting that was to know the hospital function was in the app, especially since we sometimes have to visit hospitals while on vacation.

A couple of summers ago, we received an urgent call from our son’s care team, who would have admitted him that hour had we been in our home town. Unfortunately we were 400 miles south, at a beach store buying flip-flops. At the time, I didn’t have the app, but now, I haven’t really thought about how terrifying it was to be far from home from our care center when learning we’d need a large city hospital. I’m comforted to know the app now shows me where to go.

There’s a life cycle of treatment of care and it usually goes something like this:

“Should I call the pediatrician?”

“Let me just run him by the clinic.”

“Urgent care is open until 9, and they have an x-ray machine.”

“We’ll end up at the E.R. anyway so let’s just start there.”

Sure, there’s a lot in between those statements that can happen. Persistent (and worsening) symptoms, lethargic (always an E.R. trip or 911 call), bug bite looking sores (outline red area around bite with pen and write the time that you circled it to see if it’s growing), uncontrolled vomiting, causing dehydration and more…in my book, all reasons to go to the emergency room.

You get the idea. Here’s the thing I’ve learned after 100s of appointments for healthcare with the kid; listen to your gut. If your intuition can be skewed (like mine sometimes)and you aren’t sure if you should take your kid in, it’d be good to call an experienced parent, or always check in with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician expects to get calls from frantic parents about the littlest and biggest things. It’s what they do. Don’t be afraid to call and seek out treatment. Now let’s hope you don’t need to look for that little red and white cross on the Life360 app anytime soon. Or preferably never.

“Server Gymnastics”

infrastructure teamServer Gymnastics

Thank you again for your patience over the last few days as we managed unexpected server maintenance. Our team worked tirelessly all weekend as large banks of servers were taken offline to have software updates run, and then brought back online, something our team calls server gymnastics.

We realize that you rely on us to keep your family connected and we did our best to minimize the user impact, but some things were beyond our control. The good news is we should be back up to 100% very soon. While we have our main servers and backup servers, when even one of them goes offline it can cause issues with update lags, server connections, and general app functionality and that was what you experienced.

If you would like to read more about this EC2 reboot, this post over at ZDNet will give you more information about what exactly was going on, and why we experienced these issues.

We’re at the tail end of it now, and again, we are so very appreciative of you, our users for your patience as we get through this.

New Rules for Internet Safety and Your Kids

online securityLately my husband and I  have a nightly ritual of looking up our daughter’s search history and laughing over it. The searches range from Disney cruises to second grade British boys. But kids and online safety are no joking matter.

The two golden rules of keeping your kids safe online have always been:

  1. Set time limits on screen time
  2. Keep your kids in sight

Which are great rules and we still live by them but they don’t really take into account how much the internet has evolved. Now technology is an integral part of many kids’ days both at school and at home. My daughters do everything from math work to writing online and when they are done, they are allowed to use search engines. And they’re seven.

And at home, kids have the internet in their hands on tablets and phones. It’s almost impossible to  fully monitor what your kids are doing online unless you restrict their access to technology completely.

Yeah right!

So here is a new rule: talk to your kids about what they see and do online.  You can utilize measures like SafeSearch but also take time to explain that there is information both true and false online and that you or another trusted adult is always there for questions.

Like my husband and I do, look at your kids’ search history and the apps they use the most (you can see usage history on most cell phones.) Use it as a jumping off point for discussion rather than a way to monitor them.  If your kids are older, this is a great guide for talking to them about being online.

Now that you’ve resolved to be all touchy feely about what your kids are doing online, don’t forget the nitty gritty. Just like you teach your kids not to cross the street without looking both ways, teach them the basics of being online:

  • No personal information online and let an adult know if someone is asking
  • What you put online stays there forever (yes, even on Snapchat)
  • Never give out your password (except to your parents of course)
  • Log out of apps and sites every time you are done

Once you’ve gotten your ducks in a row, sit down with your kids and sign a parent-child tech agreement. Remind them that access to this technology is a privilege and will be taken away if not used properly. And that goes for offline use as well; I am looking at you kid playing Angry Birds while riding your bike. Next time I see you, I am making a citizen’s arrest.

4 Apps to WOW your Instagram Photos

4 Apps to Wow Your Instagram Photos MainLove Instagram? Do you often get frustrated when you take a beautiful picture, and can only fit in a fraction of the picture in your Instagram post? Have you seen those great pics where people created a matrix of several pictures, complete with caption? Wish there were more options?

Here are 4 super fun Instagram apps to complement the beautiful Instagram posts you have in your mind’s eye that you’ve been dying to share.

1. InstaSize Android iPhone FREE


With the InstaSize app, you don’t even need to go into Instagram to post. You can add titles, stickers, backgrounds, and a collage of several pictures…and they all fit into your Instagram post without cropping! Love this app!

2. PicFrame Android | iPhone | Blackberry 99¢


PicFrame is similar to InstaSize, but even more robust, allowing you to add up to 9 photos, videos, or text in a collage and includes 73 fully adjustable frames, effects, shapes, backgrounds, and more!

3. Everlapse iPhone FREE

Everlaps helps you to create interesting flipbooks with your photos. Add a bunch of pictures and you can show time lapses, a quick slideshow, or even create an Instagram Top 20 Highlights – which automatically takes your top rated Instagram photos and makes a flipbook. See my Instagram Highlights here.

4. Split Lens iPhone FREE


Split Lens allows you to create photo collages also but you can choose the collage type first, than shoot your pic live into each individual picture for the collage. You can then individually adjust each picture, adding filters and moving it around in the frame so it’s just right. It’s easy to share on multiple platforms, in addition to Instagram.

Any one of these apps can add some extra zest and excitement to your Instagram portfolio. And these apps just scratch the surface; there are a ton of Instagram-related apps available on all mobile platforms. Craving more Instagram apps? Here’s a bunch more! And don’t forget to follow @Life360App on Instagram to get peeks of what’s happening in our offices!