October 4th is one of my favorite days of the year.  And here’s why:  My formative years (high school) were in the late 70’s – the big movie series back in the day was Smokey and the Bandit with Burt Reynolds and they always talked back and forth with the truckers.  They would always sign off ” 10-4 Good Buddy! ” –

Then in the early 80’s my mom and I drove across the US and took a CB radio with us and talked with truckers along the way – it was dangerous because we would get laughing so hard we almost had to pull over several times.

THEN in the later 80’s my sweetheart gave me his Beta Theta Pi pin on October 4.

THEN just after the millenium I passed the Outdoor Emergency Care exam and became a certified ski instructor and had to go back to my CB call numbers all over again 10 – 4 means YES affirmative everythings OK.

So actually over the past 30+ years 10-4 has always had a special place in my heart.


If we’re going to freak out let’s freak out


What’s Your Number?

~ By Mary Heston

There’s a new law in  San Francisco today.  The new law requires cell phone retailers in the city to provide radiation information for cell phones and additional information if requested.


In my humble opinion, this is just lazy government and over regulation. Cell phone companies are already required to keep maximum SAR levels under 1.6 watts per kilogram to receive FCC certification to be sold in the US. The FCC already has material that is freely available about what those numbers mean.


I can understand the concern parents have with their children using cell phones and I do not take our children’s health lightly. This is a subject that I watch closely. But why are we picking on cell phones? Why not freak out about the radon in the ground underneath our homes, in the bricks that our homes are made of and out of the granite countertops so many people drool over. What about the machines at the airport?  Or time spent on an airplane for that matter.  What about the naturally occurring radiation from going out in the sun?


Clearly, the argument is that cell phones are optional and so we should be warned about the amounts of radiation we are voluntarily exposing our bodies to. But why not put that exposure into context in relation to all the sources of radiation we encounter daily and what our annual exposure limits are.

A very important number for us to know is our cholesteral level but for the most part no one pays attention to that number until it is a problem. What about our BMI (Body Mass Index) that is an important number.

Hollywood has a movie out right now talking about another number that is important to keep track of.  The audience at the Anderson Cooper show is not convinced people keep accurate numbers.  But that is for another post.

It is, apparently, time we now know our radiation number. But are warning labels going to help?  Or just give us another reason to sue somebody.

Many parents are concerned about their kids playing violent video games. Video games have really only been around in the home market since the early 90’s and so research on this subject is really very new.

What does the research say about the effect violent video games have on our children and what do we do with that information anyway?

These are just a couple of the questions asked in my new book Violent Games – Violent Children?

Now available on Amazon

Violent Games – Violent Children?

When I was in 2nd grade Miss McFarland gave me a copy of Nancy Drew. I loved reading this book. Nancy Drew led me to Agatha Christie and I still love reading a great mystery especially with a strong female protagonist.


So, when my daughter reached 2nd grade I gave her my copy of Nancy Drew. It was a heartwarming moment. Months later the true mystery was revealed. She had not been able to read through four pages of it. It was like torture to her. She couldn’t relate one tiny bit.
(This was the same scenario when I handed her the book The Secret Garden which was another childhood favorite of mine).


In her middle school years my daughter read all of the Cross my heart and Hope to Spy books by Ally Carter. So, it wasn’t necessarily that she didn’t like spy, mystery, suspense books. It was just the timing on giving her my old copy of Nancy Drew.


She is now entering high school and I thought that bond of mother and daughter via Nancy Drew may have been lost forever.


Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse This is a great game for October with a bavarian theme that could cover Octoberfest and Halloween.

Recently, I picked up a copy of a Nancy Drew interactive video game.  Something that was a surprise to me was that there are over 20 titles in the Nancy Drew series by Her Interactive.  It had never occurred to me to seek out Nancy Drew on a video game.  And this one is really well done.  When you start up the game there is a video introduction to the story line.  While this game is rated E for everyone it is an E 10+ which is really right on.  We did have some younger kids watching the intro and it was pretty scary for them.  Once  the actual game play started then they dug it.


The main thing is that this game has brought Mom and Daughter together again with Nancy Drew.  I love playing this game with my daughter.  It is a single player game but we still play together.  And it still takes me back to those wonderful memories of musty old pages in a treasured little book.



Full Disclosure:  Her Interactive gave out complimentary copies of the Nancy Drew game at Blogher.  I was thrilled to bring this home and test it out because with a house full of boys our video game collection consists primarily of macho games and mario games.  I didn’t get a chance to talk with anyone from Her Interactive but I would have thanked them for bringing Nancy Drew back to life for a new generation.  The links in this article are from my Amazon affiliate network.  All comments are my own.

My American Dream

Today we celebrated.

This morning started out exactly as it had 10 years ago. On a bright sunny day I sat on my couch watching television. And I cried. Just like I had 10 years ago. It is amazing seeing pure evil in action. We must never forget or become complacent and let our children forget that there is evil in the world and on occasion evil does have a face. I cried for the children who had to grow up without parents. I cried for mothers who outlived their children.

But this morning was different. My four children are 10 years older. They are wonderful kids. It was a busy day. We set out the American flag on the front porch and then started in on a series of chores that needed to be done today so that we could just focus on school this next week. At some point in the day I realized that we were all moving around the house doing these things but I wasn’t asking the kids to do anything. They knew the routine and were just doing their part. My oldest pulled out the vaccuum and took care of the main floor. My youngest pulled out his homework assignment due on Wednesday and asked his other brother for some help pulling together the necessary supplies to complete his collage. The theme of the collage “My American Dream”.

I took a step back for a minute and looked at the sunshine beaming into our living room and listened to the sounds of laughter and debate (which actor played the best Dr. Who) and I realized that if I had to turn in my son’s homework assignment today, and make a collage of My American Dream, I would only have to take a snapshot of my kids today.

Right then it seemed like we had to celebrate. We had to celebrate the memory of all the people who died 10 years ago and their families who have carried on – we had to celebrate our President at the time who carried us through this particular day with Grace and Courage – we had to celebrate what it means to be an American. So, we dialed up our favorite Chinese restaurant, ordered take-out, and sat in our living room watching Dr. Who and celebrated a quiet afternoon of no real significance.

Dogs are people too. At least that is what they think.  Making sure they know the house rules is one of the kindest things you can do for your dog.  Then again it helps if your pup is super smart like mine is.

Dozer was a Christmas gift to me a few years ago from my son.  That’s one way for a kid to get a dog.  The deal was that a big part of the gift was the training.  So, Mike took it on himself to train our new family member.  Dozer is a Corgi and so he loves to herd.  But he is not so hyper as a Border Collie so he doesn’t need as much outside exercise time.  But he is really smart.

Here are some of my favorite tricks:

1. Tug – he loves playing tug.  We have even trained him to play tug with our other puppy and so the two of them can keep themselves entertained for hours.  One of his particular favorites is playing tug with a sock and with 6 people in the house our doggy often finds  a stray sock around the house.  So, when a sock becomes ratty it goes into Dozer’s sock pile.  On occassion he will come up to me with a sock in his mouth eager to play and it will be a newer sock.  I say to him “Not your sock” and he drops it and goes looking for his sock.  Good Dog.

2. Do a Barrel Roll – This trick took a while for Dozer to learn because his legs are so short.  Basically, it is just a Roll Over trick.  But the thing is, one of our kids favorite video games of all time is Star Fox. In that game the hero, FOX, flies through space saving the day.  During the game you will hear “Do a Barrel Roll!” over and over.  Now, it is so much fun playing the game with Dozer in the room – every time they shout out “Do a Barrel Roll” the dog obeys.

3. Off the rug – Recently, we put down a very nice area rug in our living room.  The only thing is that it is like a dog hair magnet.  The benefit of having a well-trained dog is that adding new commands does not take very long.  To soften the blow of not being able to sit right in the middle of the room anymore we brought a dog bed into the living room and put it by the window so that Dozer and our German Shepherd would know exactly where we wanted them to rest when they are in the living room.  Our dogs have been following this new rule basically from the start.

This morning I woke up and went into the living room and looked over and our little doggy had moved the dog bed into the middle of the room.  He was technically not on the rug.  He looked up at me and it was almost like I could see what he was thinking.

On a morning filled with tributes and memories of the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, this was a great reminder to me that hope springs eternal.

All I need

Do you have a “Let’s Make a Deal” purse – one like Mary Poppins or Hermione Granger?  You know the purse.  It has EVERYTHING in there.  For me this was a carry over of the diaper bag.  It was easier to carry way more than I needed just in case there was that one most unlikely moment when I did actually need one obscure item in my purse.   But now my baby is in middle school and those moments of urgency are far fewer.

This summer I traveled with my friend Carissa Rogers to the Blogher conference in San Diego.  This is where I learned exactly what is on my new essential list of the top 14 things I never leave home without:

1. Wallet

2. Sunglasses

3. Cell phone

4. Keys – I have the keys on a lanyard which makes them easier to grab when they are loose in my purse.  It also makes it easy to hang them around my neck when I am just running into the store quickly and don’t want to take my entire purse in with me.  Wearing your keys around your neck sort of is a Grandma move – the equivalent of wearing socks with sandals – but I am finding the efficiency is worth the looks from much younger people.

5. Passport – I usually carry this with me as my form of identification.  It is government issued but doesn’t display my home address.  Besides that, you never know when you might have the chance to dash off to some exotic foreign destination.

6. Reading glasses – once you need them you really need them and now I don’t travel anywhere without them.

7. A great red lipstick and some waterproof mascara – This was really the main thing I learned at the conference.  A girl should really not go anywhere without a great lipstick and her mascara.

8. Watch – yes, your cellphone displays the time but I absolutely adore my watch ( also waterproof ).  It’s important to be on time and a great looking watch is a good way to make sure you do that.

9. Skanz bracelet –  a square code on the bracelet can be scanned by other smart phones and will load all of my contact information on to that phone.  Love this. Thanks Zebra Partners  – more on this later.

10. Business Cards – in case I run into someone who doesn’t have a smart phone OR if someone needs a note about something I will write it down on my business card and then that reminds them of my conversation along with giving them the information they wanted.

11. (Not pictured but critical) a Black Sharpie and a Silver Sharpie – you should never leave home without one of each in your purse.  You never know when you might have the opportunity to have Jane Lynch sign the Glee Tshirt you just happen to be carrying with you at the time.  Also, if you are at a Broadway show the playbills are often dark and if you happen to run into a former Miss America who is playing the lead you can have her sign your playbill with the silver Sharpie (that shows up much better on black).

12. Earrings – I make sure to have a great pair of earrings with me.  The pair in this picture was a gift from my mother after a trip she took to India.  They are my Default Earrings.  I wear them everywhere.  Yes, the watch is gold and the earrings are silver.  It might be like wearing white after Labor day but I’m OK with that.  The watch and the earrings both have sentimental meaning to me and so make me feel more confident when I’m wearing them.

13. Blue Tooth

14. Lucky Nickel – Several years back they started making nickels with an ocean scene on one side with the immortal words of Lewis and Clark “Ocean in view, Oh the joy!”.  My youngest brother had been saying this phrase for years every time he returned home from one of his great adventures and it had become a symbol to me too.  I love traveling but there is also a great joy that comes when I finally return home.  In my case this does happen to be very close to that same point where Lewis and Clark penned those famous words.  So, I carry my lucky nickel with me to remind me about the way home.

What are the items you can’t leave home without?

Disclosure: HTC, LG, and Skanz did give me these products while I was at Blogher.  They did not ask me to write this follow up post. The opinions and the fact that these products ended up in my top list of can’t leave home without them items are all my own.   I am an affiliate with Amazon and links from this article serve to provide more information about the items on my list but also link to my affiliate pages.