Five things I learned about the Circle device

Five things I learned about the Circle device

If you have children in the ‘tween to teen years, then I have no doubt you share the never-ending struggle to manage their “devices.” I feel like this is a battle my husband and I are often losing.

Instead of constantly engaging in behavior management with our kids, my husband and I try to talk to them about the root causes of why they should regulate their own online behavior. Staring at a screen all day decreases your attention span. You are killing your brain. You are losing your ability to focus. (Insert your own speech here.)

Of course, our lectures are often like rocks skipping over water. It’s hard enough for adults to set good boundaries when it comes to smart phones, iPods and other devices. Knowing our own struggle, we can’t expect our kids to do much better. And ultimately, we are in charge of setting rules and boundaries for our kids. It’s our job to help them make better choices.

In order to give ourselves more control, a few months ago, we purchased the Circle device. A lot of parents have asked me what I think about this tool, so here are five things I’ve learned about it since we started using it.

1.First of all, let me just say that I love the Circle device. Using a simple app on my phone, it allows me to control every computer, iPad, iPod and phone that is getting a signal from our wifi router. (This even includes the devices of people who come for a visit!) I can set an overall “age” rating for each device. For example, if I set a device to “kid,” that device won’t be able to access social media apps, such as Snapchat. If the device is set to “teen,” it can automatically access more apps. I can then set a bedtime and wake up time for the Internet for each device. I can set time limits that will turn off an app or the Internet after a certain number of hours of activity. I can set certain time periods during the day when the Internet will take a break on that device. I can block access to certain apps by device. I can pause the Internet for the whole house or hit pause on an individual device. (Have you ever had one of those moments when you just wanted to throw something to take out your aggression? Well, hitting the “pause” button on the Circle device is a safer way to release tension, but it gives the same feeling of satisfaction.) Overall, I love how much control it gives me over the use of our wifi.

2. Which brings me to point No. 2. The circle device only controls your wifi. What this means is, if you set a bedtime for your child’s phone, that intelligent tech-savvy child, will simply turn off his wifi and start using his cell phone data once the wifi turns off. In SOME families (rest assured this would NEVER happen at our house), a child might even walk over to the router and UNPLUG the Circle device. (It might be a good idea to lock your router in a closet. This is what I’ve HEARD anyway.) Thankfully, Circle has a solution. For $10 a month, you can purchase an extra feature that allows you to control your child’s phone whether or not he or she is using your wifi. This allows you to also control his data, and it even allows you to set limits when he or she is on someone else’s wifi. I believe you can control up to 10 devices with the $10 a month package.

3. Aaaaaannnnd that brings me to point No. 3. In order to control your child’s cell phone usage with the Circle device, you have to install the Circle app on that child’s phone. Once your extremely intelligent tech-savvy child figures THIS out, he or she will delete the app from his or her phone. (Hypothetically, of course.) When you figure out your child has deleted the app, you will get very angry and threaten that child in many ways if he ever gets the idea to delete the app again. However, knowing how strong temptation can be and not wanting your child to fall prey to the desire to delete the Circle app, you will figure out that there is a setting within “Parental Controls” on the child’s phone that prevents him or her from deleting any apps, unless they enter your password. (So far, this has worked.)

4. This brings me to point No. 4. The next thing I love about the Circle, is that I can monitor how much time each person in my house has spent on his or her device and how much of that time was spent on certain types of activity, such as Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram, videos, chat or music. If you see that your child has spend 0 minutes on his or her device for several days, you need to go back and check point No. 2 or No. 3. He or she has either unplugged the circle device or deleted the app.

5. One of the many things I love about Circle, is that it allows my children to use certain features on their phones, while I can control others. For example, when our kids are cleaning their rooms, we often ask them to hand over their devices so they aren’t distracted by the Internet. But, they complain, they want to be able to listen to music while they clean. Circle allows us to turn off their wifi, or just certain apps, while allowing them to keep their device for music.

By the way, I haven’t been compensated in any way to write this review of the Circle device. However, I added an affiliate link because I love it so much. If you do happen to use my link to purchase a circle, I would receive a super tiny compensation.

Let me know if you’ve have questions. If you use the Circle I would love to know how it’s working for you. Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Life in the Middle, Episode 5

Life in the Middle, Episode 5

Our daughter traveled to Florida on an airplane by herself! This was a first for our family.

In this exciting episode of Life in the Middle, we recap our very non-rushed airport adventures and decide who will be more sad about being apart — a middle schooler or a middle aged mom. (One guess.)

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My journey: From “impressive” to “beyond awesome”

My journey: From “impressive” to “beyond awesome”

I always feel a little weird writing about my health situation on my blog. But now that I’ve put it all out there, and so many people have been asking me for an update, I feel like I need to share some of the significant things that have happened lately.

A few weeks ago, I went to see a functional medicine doctor for the first time. I had been on a waiting list for four months to get into this doctor who specializes in patients with autoimmune disease.

I handed her a thick folder full of my medical journey from the past year. As she flipped through each page, she kept repeating the same reaction: “Impressive.”

After a few minutes, I had to interrupt. “Why do you keep saying ‘impressive’? I get the feeling you don’t mean, ‘Wow! This is awesome!’ ”

Well… she explained. First, you are the first patient I’ve seen whose antibodies were so high on every test that was taken. (In other words, my overachiever immune system has been working super hard to destroy my own body.)

It’s also impressive to see your level of malabsorption. (I knew I had been struggling to absorb the nutrition that I need from my food, but she was actually impressed by just how bad I actually was! Go, me!!)

Finally, she said, “You have had really amazing medical care. It’s impressive.”

My journey with autoimmune disease: From "Impressive" to "beyond awesome"

Happiness in a cup: My bullet dandelion tea

I thought about all I’ve been through in the last year. It’s true. I’ve been to four different doctors in the past year, including three specialists. I’ve also seen a dietician, who has been an “impressive” part of my journey. I’ve had a colonoscopy, two endoscopies and an MRI to understand what’s going on inside my body. And I’ve had a crazy amount of blood work done. It really has been impressive.

She sent me away with an order to have 10 more vials of blood drawn before I came back to see her in two weeks. I had that appointment on Thursday.

When I walked in, she immediately started asking me what I thought about an immune modulating drug she had recommended at my last appointment.

“Have you seen my lab results?” I asked. “I really think we should look at those first before we discuss treatment.”

She pulled up my 20 or so test results on her computer, and this time I had moved beyond, “Impressive.”

“This is awesome,” she said. “You are beyond awesome.”

Here are a few of the amazing things that she saw in that report:

All of my Celiac antibodies are now negative! This is a huge answer to prayer and it shows how well my body is responding to my diet, especially compared to a few months ago when my other doctor was so concerned that I wasn’t responding to a gluten free diet.

“You are healing, and you are beating Celiac disease,” she said.

I’ve also quintupled my Ferritin level, which indicates my body’s ability to store iron. This has been a major problem for me during the past year. A year ago, my Ferritin was a 3 on a scale of 11-291. Now, I’m at 15, which means, I’m actually IN the normal range! I’m finally not anemic, which has made a huge improvement in my health the past few months. I’m still in the low range of normal, so I am going to try a new iron supplement to help with that. But, hey. I’m so much better!

All of my other vitamins and minerals also were in the range of normal. I’m going to add some new supplements to help with things like vitamin B, D, magnesium and a few others, but I am getting there.

My doctor still had quite a few concerns from my blood tests.

  • One of my worst ongoing symptoms is acid reflux. The only test result that had gotten worse was one that looked at my esophagus. This is a bit of a mystery.
  • I tested positive for Crohn’s disease for the second time. I’ve already had a colonoscopy and MRI to rule out Crohn’s disease, but for some reason my body is still producing antibodies that would indicate I have it. Again, another mystery.
  • My thyroid antibodies also are higher than normal. She is doing some additional testing for that. It is super common for people with Celiac disease to have another autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid (Hashimoto’s), so I’m glad she is looking at that.
  • I’m also hypoglycemic. Again, I wasn’t surprised at all by this. I’ve suspected I have some insulin issues because of my need to eat every two hours.

So, lots of fun stuff… but overall, I still see that I am moving forward and making good progress. I’m going to start on a new drug that is supposed to help moderate my immune system, and I’m adding some supplements to help with my nutrition level.

I’m also working on reintroducing new foods into my diet. This is easier said than done. I’ve really grown accustomed to my diet, and it’s hard for me to step out into the unknown by adding new foods. I’ve had some negative reactions to some of the foods I’ve tried, which knock me down again, so it’s scary each time I try something new.

Thank you so much to everyone who has prayed for me and all of the continued support. Feel free to leave me a comment!


If you are just catching up, you can read the rest of my story here:

Part One: A new view of food

Part Two: The start of my journey

Part Three: Malnourished in America

Part Four: Solving the gluten free puzzle

Part Five: The Isolation of autoimmune disease

Part Six: From Whole 30 to Paleo AIP

Part Seven: What do we eat?

Part Eight: A year later

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