When I was in college I had a day-planner with everything color coded. Assignments were highlighted in yellow; quizzes in green; papers in red; tests in blue (a soothing color to combat test anxiety...no, not really). Went on to become a teacher and my lesson plan book became my daily calendar since I actually didn't do anything other than teach (social misfit that I was).
Became a mom, and threw out the day planner since weeks would go by without anything happening. Decided to just invest in a pretty monthly calendar to record anything important, and called it good. I like using a wall calendar. I find it very succinct. Everything going on in my life fits on one little page. Depressing? Not really.
So when Parent Bloggers Network asked me to review Cozi Central, a calendar/list maker/family organizer program, I hesitated for a moment. Could I give up my wall calendar? Would putting everything on the computer really make my life simpler? Hmmm.
First off, I have to tell you that Cozi Central is free. Free! That's very clever. But if something doesn't work it doesn't matter how much it costs. They could pay you to use it, and it still might not be worth it. However, Cozi Central is a nifty program, and worth every free penny it costs. You can use it both at your PC and on the web. The menus are uncomplicated and visually attractive. It can send emails and text messages, as well as deliver vocal messages to your cell phone.
For all the amazing things that it does, my most favorite feature about it is the photo collage screen saver. It's so super duper fabulous. I'd download the program just for that. You just tell it where you store all your photos and then when your computer pops to the screen saver, you see all these wonderful photos that you forgot you had. Pictures of Sydney's first birthday. Pictures of our vacation to Hawaii. An afternoon at the park. Mother's Day two years ago.
As an added bonus, you can email the collages to your friends and family. In fact, you can even enter them in the collage contest over at Cozi Central's blog. I'm proud to admit that one of my collages was chosen as a finalist for this week's contest (of pictures that Sarah took). If you'd like to help me win a tshirt (which I need since I still can't fit into all my old tshirts on account of my baby-ready bust), go vote on their sidebar. Or vote for someone else. *cough* traitor *cough*
One final word about the photo collage thing: remember that it does cycle through all your photos in your photo folder. I say this to spare the potential embarrassment of, say, having guests over and halfway through a conversation looking over at your computer and realizing that the photo collage of the moment is you, with your legs propped up, pushing a baby out your yahoo. It's a long 10 seconds, my friend. Very long.
Anyway (gosh, I'm not going to be allowed to review anymore products if I can't sum this up), aside from the photo collage thing, here's the deal with the program. It's a free downloadable program where you can enter in things on the calendar (each person in the family can get a different color), create multiple grocery lists, and email or text message your family. I tried out the email feature by sending a little note to Jason while he was at school. He got it, but the downside is that as of right now the receiver can't email you back.
The calendar is very intuitive. I would enter in "Stephanie: CO102 every Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-2:15" and presto! it would show up on the calendar. I entered in "Sydney: Overnight every Thursday through Friday" and there it would be. It's a smart calendar. Looking at the calendar does take a little getting used to, however. It's just not the same as looking at a wall calendar.
The grocery list is also intuitive, completing words as you type them up. I had some trouble accidentally deleting lists, as well as deleting every item off a list, which I found frustrating. It was mostly my own fault, but it would be nice if he had a "are you sure?" question which I normally find irritating but would have been helpful. Extra amazing about the grocery list: Cozi Central has a toll-free number you can call from your cell phone and have it read off or text message you your grocery list. I tried it, and was amazed.
I know there are lots of features I'm not taking full advantage of, like the text messaging aspect. But we don't use text messaging, so while I find it to be a neat aspect of the program, it's not one I can use. Also, we really do have a rather uncomplicated schedule, one not prone to things like "who's picking up whom?" and "oh I forgot to tell you we have this going on" problems. I'm mostly home; Jason mostly is at school; our girls don't have extra-curricular activities. For that matter, Jason and I don't have too many extra-curricular activities either. We're kind of boring that way.
Plus, I'm really trying to find ways to step away from the computer, and so using a computer program for calendar things is a bit counter-intuitive in that regard. But I can see how, as the girls get older and we become unable to fit everything on a wall-calendar, Cozi Central would be really useful.
In the end, I'll use it for the grocery list feature because it's so easy to just add things to the list as I'm at the computer instead of walking 12 feet to write it on the fridge list (like right now, I just added eggs). I'll also keep it for the photo collage screen saver.
I just need to remember to move those labor and delivery pictures to another folder.