Thursday, January 21: A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

#WWEmoms

When: Thursday, January 21, 2016
7:00 – 8:00 pm ET
4:00 – 5:00 pm PT

Join @WWEmoms, @FirstBook, @WWEReads and guest authors Jessixa Bagley (@JessixaBagley), Yuyi Morales (@yuyimorales) and Kashmira Sheth (@KashmiraSheth) and illustrator Jeffrey Ebbeler (@JeffEbbeler) at 7 pm ET (4 pm PT) on Thursday, January 21 as we learn about the WrestleMania Reading Challenge!
The WrestleMania Reading Challenge is an annual online reading contest designed to encourage families to read and build a lifelong love of books. Join @WWEmoms, @FirstBook and @WWEReads as we find out more about this important initiative!
RSVP and attend the Twitter event for a chance to win one of these great prizes:
a) two $25 gift cards to wweshop.com;
b) two sets of First Book Stories for All Project™  book selections (5 books in each set);
c) two DK Book bundles (6 books in each set);
d) one “Undertaker: 25 Years of Destruction” book;
e) one WWE Encyclopedia;
f) a 3-month WWE Network subscription!

 (Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: WWEmoms) and include your Twitter ID
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://bit.ly/1Roy996
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#WWEmoms) on Thursday, January 21 between 7 – 8 pm ET
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for WWE.)

Best Apps to Help Prepare for Winter Storms

By Tracey Dowdy

This winter has been unusually mild (anyone else have to kick on the AC in on Christmas Eve?) but we all know the harsh weather is on its way. As someone who grew up on Canada’s east coast and spent years living outside Buffalo, NY, I’ve seen my share of winter storms. I keep a storm kit in the back of my SUV with items like granola bars, water, hand warmers, an ice scraper, kitty litter, phone charger and blankets, as well as other emergency items, and more than once it’s come in handy.

But in addition to emergency supplies, it’s important to have up-to-date information about the weather. My goal is to never have to tap into that stash of granola bars or use that kitty litter to help me get un-stuck. These apps can alert you when that nasty weather hits and ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

storm-shield100Storm Shield uses location-based technology so your weather alerts follow you even when you travel. The app provides severe weather forecasts, live video feeds, as well as up-to-the-minute radar and weather maps. You can choose to receive a text message or even a phone call any time the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning, which is particularly valuable for elderly or non-tech savvy family members. ($2.99 – iOS, Android)


intellicast100Intellicast Weather from The Weather Company (Weather Channel, weather.com, Weather Underground), provides real-time storm tracking and easy-to-read radar maps so you can see not only where the storm is but where it’s headed next. You receive alerts even when you’re not using the app and you can access the Road Weather Index to gauge road conditions before venturing out. (Free – Android)


dark-sky100Dark Sky has the most beautiful weather animations. It’s easy-to-read interface lets you know at a glance whether it will rain or snow up to an hour in advance, and you can customize your severe weather alerts for the next 24 hours so you’ll always be up to date with the weather data that’s relevant to you. ($3.99 – iOS, Android)


weather underground100Weather Underground gathers data from over 100,000 weather stations around the country, making much of the reporting exceptionally localized. Pairing this information with historical weather records, the app provides incredibly accurate 10 day weather forecasts. Content is user supported and curated, so reports are constantly monitored and updated, again making it very precise. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows)


flash-weather100FLASH Weather Alerts promises more accurate weather alerts than other similar apps. Users receive alerts based on a more specific geographic location – instead of getting an alert for severe weather in your county, it would be for a much narrower region. You can customize alerts for home or travel and add locations to monitor weather conditions in areas where friends and family live. Two notable features are the option to add an audio flash for alerts, very convenient when driving or in the middle of the night, and the option to turn off background tracking to conserve battery life. In this mode, FLASH Weather will only use GPS when the app is open. ($4.99 – iOS, Android)

I would also recommend downloading other non-weather related apps like Waze for up-to-date traffic information; Hotel Tonight if you have to get off the road or your flight is cancelled; Red Cross in case you find yourself in medical emergency during a storm; or even SAS Survival Guide with over 400 pages of survival tips and how to guides for times when Old Man Winter isn’t quite so genial as he has been so far.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Cutting the Cord: Is It Worth It?

By Tracey Dowdy

According to statistics from Nielsen, the average American home receives 189 television channels but watches only 17. That number sounds about right for my house – I don’t know off-hand how many we get but I guarantee that we only watch a fraction of what’s available.

For years, industry analysts have been warning us that television is fading and network cable is about to meet eight-track tapes, Blockbuster Video and Tower Records in the Great Beyond. But how true is that? The fact is in 2014, pay-tv subscriptions dropped a mere 125,000, or about 0.1 percent, although actual TV viewing is down about 10 percent overall.

There’s no denying that costs have steadily increased, while customer satisfaction has moved just as steadily in the opposite direction. “High prices, poor reliability, and declining customer service are to blame for low customer satisfaction with pay TV services. The cost of subscription TV has been rising 6 percent per year on average — four times the rate of inflation,” according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

For those fed up with the cost of cable, cutting the cord seems like the obvious answer, if for no other reason than paying for 189 channels and watching only 17 seems like an enormous waste of money. But, it’s more complicated than a straight number of channels verses cost comparison.

Those a la carte options sound great until you do the math. Side note: JCHS class of ’84, I’ve finally found a use for those horrible math word problems Mr. Mac Isaac used to make us do in High School. They really do have a real-world application!

“If Tracey is paying $ $85.20 (average cost based on information from the FCC) a month for both TV and Internet connectivity but wants to cut the cord and choose programming a la carte, how much will she save?”

Let’s break those monthly costs:

HBO Now: $15
Showtime: $10
Hulu: $8
Amazon Prime: $8.95
Netflix: $10 (for new subscribers)
Internet: $19.99 (lowest cost offered in my area for standalone Internet connectivity)

Total: $71.94

There’s a stark lack of sports access in that list and even if you add a $7 month subscription to CBS you still won’t be able to access NFL games. Compare the price tag of the cable package and the a la carte streaming services and you see both have their plusses and minuses.

Some cable companies are catching on that consumers are more educated, want more options and are more fed up, so they’ve come up with offerings like Comcast’s Xfinity Stream, an Internet-only TV service that offers HBO and the major TV networks live and on-demand for $15 per month on top of the price for stand-alone broadband service.

Verizon has gone further and introduced Custom TV as part of its FiOS TV offerings, allowing customers to choose from a variety of “channel packs” so subscribers only pay for the channels that they want to watch.

The bottom line is that you need to do your homework. Sit down with your family, talk about viewing habits and what you can and can’t live without. Just make sure your calculator is part of the conversation.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.