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This is a part of Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting. It contains a write-up of products and services that I review, mostly but not entirely related to parenting, families, and children.

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Cozi Central Review

Originally published on April 26, 2007.

Parent Bloggers NetworkHave you ever felt disorganized? What parent hasn't! How about like your family has too many calendars? Have you ever checked your calendar before scheduling an event only to realize that you have no idea if your spouse has anything going on, and no way to get a hold of him or her to double check? I have had the privilege of reviewing the Cozi Central for the Parent Bloggers. The idea behind the Cozi Central system is that it's a central calendar for your whole family and a way to help you organize. Oh, and did I mention that it's free?

The way it works is that you go to Cozi Central's Site and set up an account. You have a choice of either downloading the software to your computer or using the website. You create a family account with a family password. Then each person who will be using it enters their cell phone number and email address. What's nice about it is even though it's downloaded on my computer, my husband can access our account on the web at work (or at least from his own personal computer at home, since he doesn't like to use his work computer for personal activities). Same thing if I'm using someone else's computer.

Cozi's lets you set up grocery lists and other lists as well as fill out a family calendar. Why would you want a joint grocery list? Well, it allows anyone to add to it and everyone to view it. You can even email it to the family member doing a grocery run. You can also print out the list too. Oh, no you accidentally deleted the list from your cell phone or realized at the store that you forgot the list? Fret not because you can call the Cozi number and they will text the list to you or you can listen to your list. Just check with you cell phone provider and with the Cozi Help page because you may get charged roaming and or long distance. The other nice thing is that you can update the list by crossing out items that you've already gotten so that you don't have to keep on making a new list every time. In fact they also have a list of standard grocery items on the side (which was very helpful as I had been meaning to buy light bulbs for about a month and kept forgetting until I saw it listed in the sidebar). Plus you can add your own items to the sidebar.

The calendar works by assigning each person a different color. There's on overall calendar where everything is listed, as well as tabs for individual calendars if someone wants to see their own specific items. All you need to do is type in the name of the person and the event , or if it's for everyone you just type in the event. What's nice about this is that if you're trying to plan something and you need to know what your family member is up to, you can just check the calendar. You can also send notes to your family members. I copied and pasted grocery lists and sent them in a note to my husband, the Big Giraffe. If I'm at a friend's house and need to send a note to his email or cell phone, I can do it from the Cozi web page and it will be sent to him or I can leave it on the our home page and he will see it when he logs into our account.

There is also the ability to make a photo collage and apparently with that not only can you use "post-it" notes to remind you of things you need to do, but alerts can also be sent via this screensaver. I didn't use this feature because my husband recently made me a special collage of photos, but it does look neat. You can also use it to send family and friends photos.

The other thing I really liked about it is their customer service. Of course I like to research things so I tested out their customer service with some questions I had. I heard back within 2 hours on a Sunday evening and 30 minutes during a weeknight.

So what didn't I like? I wish, and I suggested this to them, there was a direct way of organizing grocery lists by aisle. I have to admit, I personally don't do this very often, but the Big Giraffe does. To give him credit, when I do use his system, the shopping goes much faster and I rarely get home realizing I have forgotten an item. It is possible to do this with the Cozi system, but it involves a couple of manual steps. The other thing that would be nice is if there were a way to schedule email reminders. Right now if you send an email about an event/appointment, it is sent immediately, even if the event is two weeks away. However, customer service told me they are working on it. A few people have suggested it. The Big Giraffe's biggest concern was that a common account and password makes it difficult to trace who makes what changes. Once our sons are old enough to properly use a computer, any pranks or mistakes they make could affect the list and schedule for everyone because their account is the same as the rest of the family, instead of having an account for each family member that gets to the same shared calendar.

So overall, what's my opinion of it? Give it a try! It's free!
posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:32 PM   0 comments
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Name:Alex Elliot
Home:MA, United States
About Me:Professional Mom of two cats, a dog, an ant farm, and oh yeah...two boys: a 6 year old and a 3 year old. Also found in my house is my husband who is known on this blog as The Big Giraffe.
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