Thursday, April 28, 2011

Common sense; no app for that

In recent weeks I have noticed an alarming decrease in my ability to form rational thought; I’ll give you an example. (Really, was there ever a question?) Like a lot of you, I replaced cerebral function with electronics long ago: GPS, Blackberry, iPhone – in fact, I’m fairly certain the right hemisphere of my brain ceased functioning with the invention of Google. Why think when there’s an app to do it for me?
Here’s what kicked my mental shortcomings into overdrive - fifth grade homework. (Show of hands; who feels my pain?)
My husband and I alternate homework duty; we find it cuts down on our chances of becoming institutionalized. Tonight’s assignment, map reading; remember maps? Yeah, me either; I have not read a map since Stella – my GPS, I find the name gives her a less invasive, more passenger-esque appeal.
The homework assignment was simple; translating distances between cities with an inches to mileage ratio. After much whining, (primarily mine), we completed the homework sans electronics; but I have to admit, my first thought was to plug the cities into Stella, and poof, problem solved!
Egad, did I just suggest cheating at 5th grade math?
After my little navigation lesson I decided dusting off the gray matter every once in a while could prove beneficial; but let me take this opportunity to pay homage to the technology gurus, I’d be lost without you – literally.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Library: A Mom Haven

When my harried domestic life threatens to implode, I circumvent a potential mental snap by hiding at the public library; it’s free, quiet and full of books - a personal Nirvana.
There’s a delightful scent when you first walk in, let’s call it Ode de Calm. (I loved Liz Taylor, but I’m pretty sure Ode de Calm would sell the pants off White Diamonds in the 25-45 female demographic.)
I’m all in favor of downloading books to your e-reader, but there are immeasurable benefits to regular library escape.

1. Silence – the blissful silence. You yell - you leave; no second chance. GONE.

2. People want to help YOU find things, and are HAPPY about it.

3. No one will ask you where their cleats, mouth guard or athletic cup are. EVER!

4. No one will tell you, in detail, how many video game Zombies they have killed.

5. The senior citizen Book Club can bake like the bomb!
Happy reading, and remember – library regulations vary. Call ahead and check the Zombie killing and cleat rule before venturing out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going global

Ten days ago I dove headfirst into the blog pool. According to the tallies I have 270 regular followers, 2500 page views and absolutely NO idea what either means. (Although, I have a sinking feeling a chunk of followers originate from Facebook, Twitter, New Jersey correctional facilities and my mother’s water aerobics class.)
Here’s what I find fascinating; Babble followers are turning up in places around the globe; Malaysia, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, Wyoming. (OK, Wyoming may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve never been there – so it’s exciting in my little world.)
Just for kicks I hit the magic translate button on Blogger to view Babble as it appears to my international audience – all six of them.
Wow; English is kind of drab.
Now don’t go calling me names; it’s still my language of choice - but what an amazing snapshot glimpse into other cultures.
If your computer, iThing or cell phone provides a language translation option– give it a shot, on whatever you may be working on. Just make sure you know how to switch back; finding the Undo button in Mandarin can be challenging.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Victory! The Garden Gods have smiled on our home this morning; inside our egg-crate greenhouse we have 25 – yes folks, 25 – sprouts! Of course these miniscule seedlings of pre-vegetation in no way guarantee plentiful crops, but they offer something much, much more - hope. (Too heavy for a Tuesday morning? Adjust – It’s my blog.)
You see my garden is more than a garden this year; it’s a promise – for my friend, the simple gardener.
I had a friend, her short life was measured in moments; simple moments in which small victories were celebrated and disappointments quickly forgotten. Her last days were full of challenges, but my friend, the woman who chose a simple life in place of simply living, showed me the true meaning of courage, the very definition of dignity and in far to a brief a time, what it truly means to live.
This talented harvester of wisdom imparted with me a respect for all things small; cheering a little league game, greasy hot dogs, good books and planting a garden - from first seed to final harvest.
So, my promise to her – for 10 minutes a day I will enjoy the simple pleasures of gardening, let go the insignificant chaos that comes with overscheduled suburban mayhem and celebrate little things. (And Sharon, if you wouldn’t mind – a little divine intervention on the watermelons would be appreciated.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sandbox politics

We have a rule in our house; no one talks to Mommy before her second cup of coffee. My husband instituted the mandate early in our marriage; he is a smart, smart man. Blissfully caffeinated by 7:00am, my fourteen year old son and I sat on the couch watching the news. Glancing at the half empty mug in my hand, he cautiously pulled a large throw pillow between us for protection.

“Mom, what’s with all the government shutdown junk?”

How to explain budget deficits and political agendas to an eighth grader?

“It’s kind of complicated, pal.”

“Don’t you write about this stuff?”

He had me there.

Think Mom, think. “I guess it’s like a sandbox; two groups of kids who both want the bigger pile for their castle.” (Best I could do at that hour of the day.)

"Mom,” look of utter disdain here. “I’m fourteen, not four. I get it, it just seems dumb. If they don’t get what they want, they just give up? Stupid.”

“Very stupid.”

My son has a sinister smile. “If they don’t agree will school be closed?”

“No, nice try.”

“So they get to stop working, but I still have to go to school?”


“I hope a cat pees in their sandbox.”

He’s going to be president someday.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To Clip or not to Clip

Did you see the coupon ladies on the Today Show this morning? I have new heroes! These clip-happy mamas saved over $40,000; I was inspired.  After my riveting morning dog walk, dish clean up and real job check-in, I started to coupon surf.
Holy cow, this can get addicting. I covered our staples first; milk, bread, chicken nuggets – then something went terribly wrong; a scary type of coupon madness set in. I couldn’t stop; I was Monty Hall meets Edward Scissor Hands.
$1 off Green Giant Brussel Sprouts. We all hate them, but for a buck off we’ll adapt.
$1 off Centrum Silver. OK, I take vitamins anyway, and I’m over 40 – what could it hurt? Maybe my knees will stop sounding like a rusty hinge every time I stand up; joints should be silent.
$5 off cat litter. I don’t own a cat! But its FIVE dollars! Wait, the coupon ladies said I could have a party and swap savings- brilliant!
Huh, now I need to have a party; snack coupons.
$3 off combo 2 liter Pepsi and Tostitos– (Note to self - Google Brussel sprout appetizers, must find use for hated veggie).
Buy One Get One Red Box Rental – Fantastic! I’ll have movies at the Coupon Party!
Stop; whoa, time-out. I needed to reevaluate my needs vs. wants. (A line I routinely use with my children – eventually it will sink in.) After an hour of more specific clicking and clipping, I threw in the towel. I admire those individuals gifted in the fine art of coupon thrift, but it is clearly a skill set absent from my wheelhouse.  I’ll commit to save $10 a week, but quit before I end up committed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Get dirty

I love the smell of dirt. Not on my children or kitchen floors; but that delicious topsoil/spring mix aroma signaling winter’s end. And if that comment tempts Mother Nature into another dump of the white stuff, then so be it, we are no longer on speaking terms. My patio furniture is out, and it is staying out!
This weekend my youngest son and I got dirty; broke out the egg-crate thingies (still not sure what to call those), popped in the potting mix and traditional tomato seeds; Beefsteak, Cherry and Heirloom - and now we wait. We do well with hearty plants; garden Goliaths able to withstand soccer balls and enthusiastic Labradors, but this year my son wanted to branch out, pun intended; watermelons.
Watermelons give me angst. For those of us that fall into the horticulturally challenged category, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs of any kind are acceptable crops; anything less self-sufficient creates problems. (i.e.-the Eggplant Disaster of 2010.)
One melon will be a success; two will be loaves and fishes. Fingers crossed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Perfecting the password

Passwords; those pesky cyber gatekeepers we all need to protect our identity and online shopping habits. (And Zappos – where the Hell are my peep-toe slides?) Here’s my problem, I am obsessed with finding the perfect password. I will not relent until the little password strength pop-up bubble tells me my selection is excellent. I will not settle for good - I must have excellent; type-A’s do not retreat! This mild OCD led me to this morning’s dilemma.
Although I have ghost written for others, this is my debut dip into the blog bayou; first item up, select title and password.
Ooooo…password! I must achieve excellent strength! Blogger – very helpful, offers suggestions.
 “Combine name of first pet and favorite ice cream.”
SnookyPistachio; too adult film star.
“Combine favorite color and sports franchise.”
GreenRedSox; sounds like an organic farm team.
Frustrated, I start to make my own combinations.
“Combine angry rant and favorite snack food.”
BitemeCheezeit; possibility. (and excellent)
“Combine breakfast food and childhood crush.”
WaffleFonzie; hmmm..getting warmer.
In the end, I found one that worked; and forgot it by this morning. (And if any of you say ‘that never happens to me’ – you lie.) Blogger graciously emailed over my excellent strength password, and after reviewing the email I couldn’t help but wonder; perhaps it’s time to cut back on the allergy meds, apparently they really do impair judgment.