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May 3, 2013

App roundup: 4 Windows apps for Mother’s Day

My mom, Laurie D, is the coolest. She can play a bunch of instruments better than I can. If you’ve got a melody, she can figure out five-part harmonies to sing with it. She can embroider roses, dogs, cats, angels, and probably anything else better than anyone I know. She reads novels voraciously. She can catch, clean, and cook a wild fish right out of a river or a lake. She has nerves of steel.

On top of all that, she’s kind to every person she meets and cares deeply for people. We’re talking about a woman who put up with and loved me the entire time I was an overly emotive teenager—back when I spent most of my time listening to sad and/or angry music, not cleaning my room, and wrecking her car. She really should get an award for that.

These days both my mom and I are busy, but we still try to stay in touch. I thought I’d share a few of the apps we use to stay connected regardless of where we are, which might help you connect with your mom this Mother’s Day too.


My mom is a sentimental lady, and I have grown to love that about her. She’s okay feeling the things she feels, and she’s always loved to encourage the people she cares about with little notes of cheer from time to time.

E-cards are cool because they allow me to try my hand at taking that extra-thoughtful step right from my PC. justWink has a great selection of e-cards you can customize and send either via email or Facebook. You need an account with justWink to send cards—I found it quick and easy to sign up for one and get on to sending some out. Here’s a card I picked to email my mom for Mother’s Day:

image of a mother's day card from justWink

And here’s what it says inside:


Notice how it let me sign my name at the bottom instead of just typing my name? I used my mouse to sign my name, but had I been using my Surface or another touch device, I could have done it right on the screen with my finger or a stylus. I’m always a fan of little details that help make digital things feel a little less digitized.


I’m lucky in that my mom lives pretty close by—she’s never usually more than an hour or so away from me. However, my mom’s brothers and parents and all her nieces and nephews are at least a few states away from her. She misses them a lot, but Skype helps my mom stay in touch with them. She can call her brothers or video chat with my cousins.


Skype is especially great for communicating overseas. A few years ago I took an extended trip to Rome, and Skype helped me keep in touch with my parents and friends. Phone cards were expensive and confusing, and typically in a language I didn’t understand—but Skype was easy to use and kept my parents from worrying about me when I traveled from place to place. And if your mom does live far away from you, there’s a good chance she would love to video chat with you on Skype. (Trust me on this one.)


kayak travel booking

Sometimes talking over the phone or on Skype doesn’t cut it, and it’s better to just be there in person. My mom is a wonderful daughter to my grandma as well as being a great mom to me, and she visits my grandma in Wisconsin a few times a year. Flying back and forth can get expensive, so she’s always looking for places to find good deals on flights. Kayak is a great resource for finding flights and hotels at really competitive prices. Kayak gives you a price comparison from different airlines so you can find the best fit for your schedule and budget, and the interface is clean and easy to use. My mom and I will be visiting my grandma sometime in the next few months, and we will definitely be checking Kayak for the lowest rates.


book on kindle

My mom loves to read. She’s the reason I like reading, and one of the ways we connect is by talking about books we’ve both read. My mom and I have both have accounts with Amazon and get books for Kindle, and I love that I can sync the books I download between all of my different devices. I also like that I can send books to people as gifts—it’s a nice surprise to see a book you didn’t have to pay for show up in your Kindle app when somebody buys it for you, and it’s great for last-minute gifts—it shows up instantly!

These four apps are all good to have in your back pocket as Mother’s Day approaches. Do you and your mom like to use any apps to stay in touch? Are you planning on sending your mom an e-card or flying out to see her this year? Let me know in the comments!