Same Story, Another Year

August 2011 — Car packed up to take Dear Oldest Son to college in Montana:

Ricky's carload

Last week, August 2014 — Car packed up to take Dear Middle Daughter-Child to college in Montana:


It was the same car, the same pretty drive (Highway 15 through Vegas, Utah, Idaho, Montana), the same lovely “big sky” of Montana, the same five of us traveling together. There was the same beauty to Montana, the same school, the same dorm-room layout, the same classic good looks of the university campus.

But a few things were different this time.

For one, I knew things were going to be okay. When we ambled along the road to drop off our firstborn, I had no experience with being a mom of college kid and I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to feel like I had a missing limb forever; I didn’t know if the mobile of our family would feel broken and bobbing; I didn’t know if it was going to be weird to have only a family of four at the dinner table; I didn’t know if he was going to drift away. …

But this time, as I stared out the window at the scenery going by, I already knew. I’d learned that you create a new normal. As you become a family of four, you create new traditions, new places to sit at the dining table, new conversations, new roles with each other (when my oldest left, my daughter took on the “oldest” role, the worrier; while my youngest suddenly opened up and became the talker). And your role with your college child changes, too — it becomes much more of an adult-friendship feeling. There’s more common ground, more shared humor. He’s tackling real-life problems that you can both discuss on equal ground. Yes, you do become aware that you know less about his life in general because you’re not sharing the everydayness of life and friends, but you trust that he’s telling you the parts you want to know and he’s leaving out the parts you don’t want to know anyway. 🙂

I had learned that it’s all okay. And I knew that it was all going to be okay this second time, too.

So we settled our daughter in at her new dorm room in her new university. (She’s at the same school as her brother, so there’s a little less worry — I’m so happy she has him there.)

We ran back and forth to Target, we decorated the room, we unpacked her desk supplies and shower caddy and towels, we made up her bed. We went out to a last dinner, we said goodbye, we gave her hugs and kisses. We cried a little (mostly for the end of a very fun era, being the mom and dad of a little girl), but then we smiled and told her to have fun, and please text and Skype about her new roommate, her new classes, her orientation, everything. And then we left.

We drove back as just me, Superman, and our youngest.

And now it’s time to create another new normal…

So This (Also) Happened …

So, in the middle of all the book-launch hubub, this happened:

Rene grad

Our little girl graduated from high school and is ready to go out into the world to conquer!

I can hardly believe how time is flying.

Just yesterday she looked like this on her first day of kindergarten:

Rene kindergarten

And now she’s all grown up and heading out to college! How did that happen?

We’re hitting the road next week to take her, her brothers, her new comforter, a bunch of shiny new pens and pencils, towels, electrical cords, two bowls, a spoon/fork/knife, a shower caddy, winter clothes, her laptop, a desk lamp, a hamper, a wastebasket, a bunch of push-pins and frames, and all her other worldly belongings on a trek to her new school and her new life.

I hope to only cry a little bit.

(I’ll let you know how that goes…)

Old Friends

It’s dark. And late. And a Thursday night. And I’m standing in the parking lot of a California Pizza Kitchen laughing so hard there are tears rolling down my cheeks.

I’m standing there with two girlfriends — friends I’ve known since high school — and on this night, wiping the tears from all the laughter, just like every time I see them, I’m thinking Why don’t I do this more often?

But I sort of know why. It’s Work in the Morning. It’s Kids Have Practice. It’s Girl Scouts, and Baseball, and Water Polo, and Karate, and Full Time Jobs, and PTA, and School Shopping, and Soccer Practice, and Saxophone Concerts, and Gymnastics, and Football Games, and Cheer Competitions, and Tennis Matches, and All The Things that have kept us moms so busy for so many years.

Our kids are all about the same age. When they were all babies, or at least pre-schooling-age, we were still able to get together, my friends from high school. We’d  let the kids play with each other while we all talked, or took walks, or crafted together, or whatever we felt like doing.

But as our kids grew older, we all drifted apart. Continue reading

I’m Old Enough To Know …

California Sunset / Photo by Nate Sanchez

I don’t love getting older. But one good thing about having passed a certain number of decades is that you become much more confident about certain things. Here are a few things I’m finally old enough to know. …

  • Patience is truly a virtue – and one of the best ones to get you through life. Patience can make you a great parent and a great spouse.
  • Respect is the key to every relationship. Respect your spouse. Respect your kids. Respect your coworkers. Respect the guy who pours your water at the restaurant. If you project your respect with honesty and sincerity, it comes back to you tenfold.
  • The way you talk to your kids when they’re young (yelling or not, swearing or not, with patience or not, with respect or not) is exactly the way they’ll talk to you when they’re about 13. And then forever after.
  • You can’t be everything to everyone.
  • It’s okay to say no.
  • It’s important to learn what your boundaries are and then set them early in every relationship, from friendships to work.
  • Childhood friends are to be cherished. No one will ever know you better than your childhood friends. You were your purist, un-formed self with them.
  • Everyone has obstacles in life. Never assume you’ve had a harder day or a harder life than the person standing next to you.
  • You never regret a family getaway.
  • Getting out of your own neck of the woods – for even just a day or a night – reminds you of how big the world is, and how people live differently than you. Not better or worse, just different. It makes the world open up, and then your mind.

What about you? What’s your favorite thing you’re old enough to know?

How I Spent My Advance Money


This gallery contains 16 photos.

When I was at RWA Anaheim in 2012, one of the keynote speakers was talking about the long journey to publication, and she said “When you get your first advance, blow at least part of it to take your family … Continue reading

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