As summer winds down, here are a few topics that have come to mind lately.

You've been chopped!

I'm not a good cook, but I love watching shows on the Food Channel such as "Chopped," "Iron Chef" and "Cupcake Wars."

It's just amazing to see the talent of the chefs and bakers - how they approach ingredients they've never worked with, cook without measuring and present their food beautifully.

I recently watched an episode of "Chopped: Grill Masters" where the contestants used mystery ingredients in the appetizer, entrée and dessert they prepared, primarily by grilling. The five-part series was filmed outside at Old Tucson Studios over nine days. It provided a beautiful backdrop to the show.

Election overload

I am getting so weary of the political races - from Romney and Obama to the local primary elections. I skip news articles and television clips on the races. I ignore the candidates' signs that crowd the main intersections of Tucson. Those signs, however, have sparked my sons' interest in politics.

While I'm focused on driving, Preston, 9, and Griffin, 6, read the signs and start asking questions. Who is Matt Heinz? What does a Pima County supervisor do? Who puts those signs up? Why did someone draw a mustache on Ally Miller? What is the difference between Democrats and Republicans? Try answering that in a nutshell for children as you are trying to avoid a speeding ticket from the camera on River Road near Brandi Fenton Park. It's not easy.

We got a phone call the other night at our home. I checked the caller ID and asked my husband, "Who is Dustin Cox?" Preston interjected, "He's running against Mohur Sarah Sidhwa and Victoria Steele for state representative." Well, I'm glad someone in our family is paying attention.

Back to school

School is in session, and two items on the school supply list for Preston and his fellow fourth-graders were a 4GB flash drive and a set of ear buds for laptop use. Computers and iPads are in the classrooms on a regular basis, and I really like that technology is so integrated into their learning.

I was also encouraged to hear the fourth-grade teachers speak about teaching students how to use technology responsibly. One teacher commented that universities will not focus on ACT and SAT scores first. Admission committees will see what kind of Internet presence the applicant has, and what they find will be a significant factor in their decisions.

It's strange to be thinking about college admission factors for my 9-year-old, but that's the world we live in, and I'm glad his teachers are ahead of the curve.

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