At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: Mother’s Day

Why You Really Have Multiple Mothers

You’re more than the sum of your life experiences. The past has a way of traveling forward through generations and affecting your existence in ways you can’t possibly know. Think you‘ve been influenced by just one mother? Think again…

The love of a mother is unique and irreplaceable. My mom’s been gone since 2006, and of course, I miss her. She was the quintessential Jewish mother. Doting. Over protective. Always there for me. I am at home with tech, because she bought me my first audio cassette recorder for my 7th birthday.
(My father thought my sound-collecting interest was a passing fad, but my mom had her x-ray mom-vision that could see deeper into my heart and ultimately my future.)

Even after I had grown up and moved out, she still mothered from afar. She clipped and mailed news articles on topics she thought would (or should) be of interest to me. She was only a phone call away, and yes we talked often. Of course, I had my standing dinners with my father over the years when I was back in town, but I’ve reflected a lot about him lately.

Today is about mothers.

Multiple Mothers
Usually, you think of having one mother or person who served in that pivotal role during your early life. And that was certainly the case with my mom. But I believe the superpower of mothering is partially fueled by the past through a form of time travel.

As I look at old photos of both my grandmothers, I definitely feel a distant influence from both of them… as mothers.

And even though I never got to meet them, they influenced how my parents grew up and ultimately how they parented me. So, in a way, both of these women were also there with me through some of my parents’ unconscious behaviors.

If we extend this logic further, I am inevitably the result of a long line of mothers who stretch way back into my family’s history.

Aren’t we all?

All the wisdom. All of the unconditional love. All of that warmth.

Each of us contains all of this timeless ‘mom collective.’

My Paternal Grandmother
I’ve been going through photos of my grandmother Rae lately… ever since my father passed away.
Rae looks like quite the force. Smart. Funny. Clever. Daring. Compelling. She could not have been happier as she brought up her young family with my grandfather in the mid 1930’s.

Then, she died unexpectedly when my father was just four years old. It must have been absolutely shattering. My father didn’t talk about it with the same intensity… I’m sure as a long-established coping mechanism.

My grandfather never remarried, and he and his two young sons moved forward in their lives as best as anyone could.

So, Rae’s major influence on my father was unfortunately her absence as a mother after those few short years.

Still, I look at the photos of her, and I cannot help but feel a connection… a beneficiary of all of her strength and goodness. Of course, her love brought my father into this world, and she set him on his young path.

Thank you, Rae. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Maternal Grandmother
Then, there’s my mother’s mom… Blanka. She was originally from Hungary.
She looks much more serious, right? I don’t have as many photos of her. So it’s harder for me to paint my own picture..

My mom didn’t give me a lot of background on what her mother was like. The main part of Blanka’s story was that she had a serious bout of pneumonia when she was young and as a result was sickly across her adulthood. My mom spent a lot of time taking care of her when my mother was a teenager.

Blanka ultimately died young. My mother had grown up by then, but my mom was only in her twenties.

Still, as I think about Blanka’s life, there are two decades of mothering that influenced the person my mom became. (See first paragraph.) I don’t know those stories, but I know that as a result, there’s a part of Blanca in me.

Thank you Blanka. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Mother
Looking at both stories of my grandmothers, there’s the unfortunate similarity that both their lives ended way too early.

Not that one’s life should be singularly judged in terms of longevity, but I feel blessed that my mother lived for as long as she did. And happily, she was my mom decades into my adulthood.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

My Wife
And this brings us to the present.

I’m also blessed to be a parent of a young teenage boy. He is so great. And this is, in large part, due to his amazing mother.
Thank you wife for everything you do for our son every day. I can see your empathy, love of nature and balanced mindfulness flowing in his being.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Generations of Motherly Love
They say it takes a village. I can easily see that using my expanded view across time.

To all of the mothers in my family who have provided so much love, support and wisdom to the generations… you’re all rock stars!

A Poem for Dads on Mother’s Day

Photo collages are ideal for creating the perfect holiday card. Here’s how to do it all at home with a poem for easy reference.

What have you been doing with those thousands of family photos you’ve collected over the past years? Posting a few on Instagram or Facebook? That’s great. But what about all of the others?

Well, you can create annual photo books that will capture hundreds of your favorite photos. Those photo books should last through the century (actual mileage may vary). But that’s always a huge project to pull off.

Tackling a smaller version where you’re collecting only 15-20 images is clearly more manageable. How about applying that towards a “photo collage?!”
(Light bulb moment)

Photo collages are perfect for holidays or any occasion to give a physical card.

You just load your photos into a template. (Lots of photo websites like Shutterfly offer this.) You can pay them to print your card, or you can take a screenshot and instantly print out the photo collage card yourself. (That’s what I do.)

In honor of all mothers (and one in particular), here’s my little poem for fathers that doubles as an emergency instruction manual.

Instructions for Fathers on Mother’s Day

That day has arrived
When dads should applaud

With a pile of gifts
Though we are so flawed

But time is fleeting
Delays mute your plans

Amazon is late
Your wish is now sans

You are on your own
Just laptop and pics

A photo collage
That could be the fix

The story is there
For you to now share

You’ve got the photos
For you to declare

Websites will help you
To do this cool trick

Just load it all in
A template is slick

Then print out your card
It’s easy as pie

You’re back in the game
It’s okay to cry

Stuff doesn’t matter
It’s the life you share

Your collage reflects
Each day that you care

Say Happy Mom’s Day
For all that you are

This photo collage
Shows you are my star

Buying a Camera For My Four Year Old

Surprise! My son shows me the latest picture he’s taken with my Canon Elph. I think this may be a sign it’s time for his own camera. But is he ready for the real thing?

Surprise! My son shows me the latest picture he’s taken with my Canon Elph. I think this may be a sign it’s time for his own camera. But is he ready for the real thing?

When I was seven, my mother bought me a portable cassette tape recorder for my birthday.

This gift arrived after a successful multi-month marketing campaign on my part.
I had expressed all kinds of plans for what ‘sounds’ I would be capturing with its little microphone.

Plus I wanted to launch my very own audio documentary series starring the boy Barrett. Topics would range from ‘what’s for dinner’ to exclusive interviews with the parents.

It was an ambitious plan… and a big ask on my part to begin with.
(This tech of the 70’s was not considered a ‘toy.’)

My father had his doubts, predicting the rectangular device made by Sound Design would end up back in its box, abandoned in a corner of my closet within the week.

But my mom read her parental tea leaves differently.
And it was definitely the right call…

The recorder was a home run.
For years, that tape recorder was never far from my sight.
Looking back now, it was one of the most influential gifts I ever received.

In fact, you can probably track the origins of my career back to that moment.

Thanks, Mom.

Deciding on the Right Birthday Gift
This story is never far from my heart as we approach Mother’s Day, which coincidentally falls around the same time as my son’s birthday.

Of course, I’ve been thinking about what to get him as he turns four.
Yes, we’ve already bought the new bike with training wheels.
It’s waiting, hidden in the back of the garage.
(Please don’t tell him.)

While I know we probably can’t go wrong with this iconic gift, I’ve also been trying to review his interests to triangulate another memorable gift.

Earlier this week, it hit me…

My boy has been snapping pictures with my cameras since he was two.
I was so impressed by his ‘early’ work, that I blogged about it.

But letting my then toddler run around with a grown-up camera was always a bit of a problem.
Sure my old, semi-retired iPhone 3GS was a low risk gadget for him to play with.
But I really winced whenever I saw him zipping about with my newer Canon PowerShot Elph 330.
(I’ve experienced my own woes with dropped cameras.)

Today, he’s quite adept at using the Elph. In fact, as I write this, he just sauntered by to show me a picture he took with it.

I’d call that a sign…

The solution:
Buy him his own camera!

Clearly he enjoys taking pictures, and he’s got a good eye.
He could be the next Ansel Adams.
(maybe not)

In Search of a Good Toy Camera
So a digital camera for my son it shall be!
Now of course comes the hard part-
What camera to get him?

Certainly not an ‘adult’ digital camera…
That could quickly meet an early demise after a couple of hard drops.
Perhaps something more durable and kid friendly.
(and a bit more economical)

But it should be capable of taking and exporting a decent photo…
(Because when he snaps that magic shot…
I want it to add to the ‘Lester Collection.’)

So I quickly went to work Googling for cute cameras for kids.

And here are a couple choices I found:

Kid-Friendly Digital Cameras

So they all hover around the same price tag.
The $30-$50 is reasonable, but are these ‘toy cameras’ any good?

Don’t Buy a Toy if You Want a Camera
Unfortunately, they usually get mediocre reviews due to their low picture quality.
That’s because they’re more toy than camera.
I guess what else would you expect at that price point?

And maybe that’s just fine as a starter camera/game to give to a preschooler.

But adult cameras start at around $100.
That’s really not such a big price gap….

I could certainly convince myself to spend that much on the boy Lester.
That wasn’t the problem.
But I didn’t want to waste money buying a piece of technology that wasn’t durable enough to keep up with the lifestyle of my four year old.

I needed a rugged ‘family’ camera
Shock proof. Waterproof.
Life-proof, if you will…

Nikon COOLPIX W100
Nikon seems to own this market niche right now with its COOLPIX W100.
It’s waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof from a 5.9-foot drop,
and designed to be easy to use.
(That’s code for ‘even a child can make it work.’)

There are other tough cameras out there that take better pictures, but they’re also more expensive…
(The COOLPIX W100 goes for $119.00 on Amazon Prime.)

Used and Refurbished
The used and refurbished market is one way to bring the price down.  Amazon also has renewed COOLPIX W100’s for $99.

But you’ve also got to wonder how long a refurbished family camera will last.
You don’t know how many times it’s already been run over by some family’s robotic toy dinosaur…

Predicting the Future
My verdict:
I’m going with a real camera for my boy!
A new Nikon COOLPIX W100.

Hey, I know he’s only four, but it’s his birthday!
(I guess I should prepare for an ‘onslaught’ of criticism about my four year old not being mature enough to play with a sophisticated piece of photographic tech.)

But for the extra bucks, isn’t it worth having a camera that can take a decent picture? Plus, in a pinch, I can also see an adult snapping a few shots with it.
(He has no problem borrowing my camera… why can’t we use his?)

Plus, it’s a good way to hedge against the humorous nature of
the ‘photo gods’…
Because when that perfect photo moment presents itself, you don’t want to have a toy that shoots muddy blobs as the only available device in reach.

And yes, even if it’s not the best camera out there, it’s still light years ahead of any toy camera on the market today.


Will this be the birthday present he’ll remember for the rest of his life?
Will he blog about it one day?
Or will it end up in the back of his closet within the week?

I guess all we can really do is check back in a few decades.
Then we’ll see how accurate my own tea leaves really were.

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