iOS 6 Review: Siri still drives me crazy

Siri and I — not fighting.

You may have noticed I’m not a techie. I know what I have to and research what I need to in order to keep up with my kids. So, no, I was not waiting on the edge of my seat for the iOS 6 upgrade for my iPhone. On Saturday, Snake Doc informed me it was available and that I should download it.

“What’s it do?” I asked.

“This,” he replied. Then he asked Siri what time Notre Dame plays. It came up with the answer along with a nice graphic showing both football teams’ records. The best thing about that — it gave the game time in our time zone.

That’s cool, I guess. But Siri and I have a tragic history. She’s never really been there for me when I needed her most and she’s made me yell “You’re worthless!” into my phone numerous times.

So I asked her latest version for movie times in my town, and she gave me a nice list. I told her thank you and she said she only lives to serve me. I thought, maybe I’ll give her another chance. I asked her the same question from the same spot in my house about five hours later and she told me she could only find movies 30 miles from my town. What? Our love-hate relationship continues.

People are up in arms over the loss of Google Maps and the outrageous mistakes in Apple Maps. So far no trouble with Apple maps, but I’m anxiously awaiting finding my first crazy flaw. I think I’ll also appreciate the turn-by-turn navigation, as long as it navigates me to where I really want to go.

I may also appreciate the new way you can reject a call but send the caller a “call you later” text. We’ll see if when the phone rings I have the where-with-all to swipe the screen correctly to get to that option.

So, iOS 6 — go ahead and get it if you don’t mind continuing to fight with Siri.

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Technology and creativity: The upside

I wrote recently about a child development expert’s fears of technology sapping children’s creativity. I can see her point, especially for toddlers and very young children. But as children get older, technology can create new canvases for creativity.

Rose Red is a perfect example. Technology inspired her to start two blogs: GummyGirls and FashionChicks. She writes, assembles photos and thinks creatively about what interests her audience.

She also loves to watch DC Cupcakes on Netflix. Last night she jumped off the couch to make a batch of cupcakes from scratch. We all benefited from that little burst of creativity.

As I write this she is using the iPad to learn “Call Me Maybe” on the piano. Technology truly is taking her places she wants to go and challenging her to expand her horizons. I think that’s a good thing.

That said, does she also rush home from school to play Roo Roo Run? Yes, but that’s okay too.

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Technology and creativity: What parents know

An article from the Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog asks the question “Is technology sapping children’s creativity?” Early childhood development expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige fears it is. She writes:

Researchers who have tracked children’s creativity for 50 years are seeing a significant decrease in creativity among children for the first time, especially younger children from kindergarten through sixth grade. This decline in creativity is thought to be due at least in part to the decline of play.

Carlsson-Paige explains that much of a child’s understanding about the world is developed through the problem solving and creativity expressed in the engagement of all their senses that comes through play with people and materials in nature.

I think that we as parents know this without being told. We know that building a block tower and knocking it down 37 times is better than watching an episode of Sesame Street.  We know that a week-long game of Monopoly over Christmas break — even with the battle for the race car and the crying over bankruptcy — is better than playing it on the Wii. And we know that going into the kitchen and learning to make a smoothie is better than playing that weird “make your own Icee” app on the iPhone.

We know. The question is: Do we act on the knowledge? Sometimes it’s hard. Most afternoons and evenings I have to drive to multiple practices; prepare, serve and clean up a meal; quiz someone on spelling words; and make sure the specific shirt someone needs tomorrow is clean. “Mom, can you play a game of chess with me?” is not a request I can often fill.

So what can I do? Look for times I can fit in that game of chess and initiate it. Suggest a smoothie-making afternoon. Require time when the iPad, Phone, and Pod must sit in their cradles. Most of all I can detach myself from technology long enough to see that there is better fun to be had. I can get creative.

Get creative! What will you do?

Photo credit: Oswaldo Ordóñez (

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The Puppet Bike: Chicago Must-See

I’m in Chicago for a few days and here’s the best thing I saw on Sunday … The Puppet Bike. So cool. Maybe when I get home I’ll be able to post the video. If you visit Chicago, seek it out. I found it on State Street. Adorable kitties dancing to Big Band tunes. Free (well, tips accepted) and priceless.

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Made Me Smile: Shoes, May Crowning, Evil Ragu Kid

Things that entertained me this week:


New shoes! Reef Rainforest espadrilles with an actual arch and quilted foam foot bed. Cute and comfy. Love! Nine West SkipnJump – so cute and inappropriate for actually walking any distance, but sadly too small.


The Everywhereist’s 55 best travel tips. I love number 13 because I’ve suffered from “cute-shoe syndrom” too many times. See above.


May Crowning. My favorite day of the entire school year. Cool Breeze blessed to represent his 8th grade class in honoring the Blessed Virgin. Our Lady Queen of Peace … Pray for us.


Cain and his cardboard arcade may make you cry. This one’s long so give yourself 10 minutes or so to be distracted from what you should be doing on this Friday.


This makes me laugh hysterically every time I watch it. Every. Time. It won’t take long. Watch it now!

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Thrifty Thursday: Outwit the Movie Theater

For our family of five, going to the movies is not a cheap treat.


Popcorn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we leave home I stick into my purse three paper sacks and three of those plastic cups with lids for straws that restaurants give out with kid’s meals. At the theater we buy the biggest popcorn and soda they sell and grab a handful of napkins. Once seated I divide up the popcorn into the sacks and the soda into the cups. A few napkins on the floor help with spill safety. This plan works best when you get to the theater when the lights are still up.

We avoid the person on the end getting no popcorn and the people in the middle getting tired of passing the Dr. Pepper.

Recent growth developments have stymied this plan somewhat as Cool Breeze is now taller than me and thinks he needs the big cup. That leaves me with a tiny one, but that’s OK, I just saved 10 bucks and everybody has a treat in hand.

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Fifth Holy Communion and Beyond

Dirt Diver informed me on Sunday that he would be making his Fifth Holy Communion. How precious. To be fully aware of every single time you’ve received the Blessed Sacrament.

His First Holy Communion was just as precious.

He wanted a bow tie. So why not go all out with the tux, the price was the same as the miniature suit on eBay.

He worried. His teacher said if he made a funny face after receiving the Precious Blood he would be in trouble.

“Mom, can you just give me a taste of wine before, so I’ll know.” No.

The moment came. He made a funny face but his teacher didn’t see. He came back to the pew and whispered, “That tasted weird and I think it gave me a stomach ache.” Then a few prayerful moments later, in hushed exuberance with a beaming smile he said, “I just feel so excited.” And after another moment: “Mom, I just feel so excited.”

His excitement and reverence continue. I’m going to encourage him to keep counting the times he receives our Lord – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – and to experience each time fully. It’s a precious gift.

Maybe I’ll start counting from here on out too.

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What’s a mediocrity?

“To be popular one must be a mediocrity,” I told Rose Red, regurgitating an Oscar Wilde quote I read somewhere on the Internet today as she complained about the latest fifth-grade power play.

“What’s a mediocrity?” she asked.

No mediocrity here.

“Something that’s mediocre, just OK, not great or above anything else. See, when you have great ideas that are above the box and not inside it, it makes you different, it makes you not mediocre, not just like everyone else. Oh, people will come around eventually and adopt or even steal your great ideas, but not right away.

“You’re not a mediocrity,” I added. “You’re something way better. That’s important.”

I hope she got the message.

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No Longer a Skype Resister

I resisted Skype for a long time. My dad has been on it for years chatting with friends across the country and encouraging me to join the party. He lives around the corner from me so I figured if I wanted to talk and see him, I could walk half a block.

But in May, the Little Guy was born. My sister’s first child lives 200 miles away and is preparing to move this fall with his momma and daddy to an Air Force base even farther away.

Now Skype makes all kinds of sense. It’s great to see him growing and changing in between visits. And it’s great to see my sister doing the things moms do.

At the same time my 3-year-old nephew has discovered Skype. He lives about a mile away, but loves to Skype with me and my kids. He’s even been known to Skype his dad from the bedroom to the kitchen.

The opposite of sending a text, which for me takes out almost every personal aspect of communication, using Skype is completely intimate because it is as close to face-to-face as you can get miles away. Amazingly, these little ones will grow up with this Star Trek technology as the norm.

If you’ve resisted like me, get with the program. Every laptop you buy today has a webcam. Just download the free program and get to Skyping — I guess that’s a word now.

Photo credit: jayneandd (

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