My Daughter’s Life Through Instagram

With my daughter so far away now in college, it’s harder to keep up with her life.

I’m rather thankful for social media, now, where I can vaguely follow along.

I’ve been getting a special kick out of her Instagram photos — especially the ones of her first “real fall” in Montana. This one’s from early September in front of her dorm:

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Then, later:

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Love my girl!

THE RED BIKINI ‘Presented’ in Colorado

Jen Jones

So a very-old-friend from elementary school, Jennifer Jones (yep, way back to first grade! We were in MGM together every year, played at each other’s houses, etc. and stayed friends through high school until she moved), found out about my book and ordered a few to give away in door-prize baskets at a Women’s Networking Event at her camera store in Denver, CO.

She sent this:

“So my store hosted a women’s networking event last night and 55 women who have never heard of you before now know who you are. … Attached is a photo of me explaining who you are to me and why I was supporting you. … You’re awesome and I’m so proud of you and I enjoy following your adventures on Facebook.”

So sweet! (Old friends are the best, aren’t they?)

I told her I’d return the favor when she published her first photography book. (Because she will! Super talented wildlife and landscape photographer, she is.)

I hope whoever won those prizes really liked the book, and I’m super honored to be part of a women’s networking event with a really strong woman like Jen.

Surprises from a 30-Year Reunion

So I had my 30th high school reunion last weekend. I’ve been kind of trying to process it this entire week and figure out why everything about it surprised me so much.

Let me count the ways…

Surprise 1: That 30 years have passed at all. 30 YEARS! I mean, I know I have a 21-year-old, but still, 30 years just doesn’t sound right. (Is that right? Hmmm. … Maybe we should recalculate. 1984 … uh, oh yeah … I guess that’s right. Dang…)

Surprise 2: That we needed nametags already. Maybe it’s because I’m still in denial that 30 years have passed, but I thought there might be one or two people I didn’t recognize. But no. There was a roomful of people I didn’t recognize. Thirty years is a long time. And I wasn’t the only one who had this problem. For the entire first hour, we were all whispering to each other, “Who’s that?” Then, when we’d hear the name, we’d say, “Ohhhhhh!” and go over and say hello. Generally, the guys were less recognizable than the gals. But a tip for anyone else going to a 30-year reunion: Suggest nametags! It’s not too early.

Surprise 3: That my hubby had a good time. Superman and I were in the same graduating class, so he was in this boat with me. But, unlike me, he had no desire to go to any high school reunion whatsoever. I wasn’t going to make him go, but all on his own one night a few weeks ago he said, OKAY, I’ll GO. (As if I had even brought it up right then.) So he came along, kind of dragging his feet. But he ended up having fun. He ran into folks he’d almost forgotten about, but had fun remembering random escapades with them, whether in football, band, after school, or whatever. When we left, he held my hand and looked at me sideways and said, “Don’t say ‘I told you so’.” So I didn’t. But I smiled.

Surprise 4: Most everyone was pleasantly past the judgy-phase. Not everyone, mind you. But most. I imagine this is where reunions start to get interesting. Everyone is moving into their 50s soon here. Almost everyone is reaching for their reader glasses. More than 70% of the class now has probably suffered real life and loss – some health problems, some deaths in the family, some job loss, some marriages failed, some financial setbacks. We’ve lost a couple of classmates by now. Some have lost parents or siblings that the rest of us knew. Some have had cancer and beat it. Someone’s lost a child. Many have divorced, married again, sometimes divorced again. Many are on their second or third career attempts by now. Everyone is starting to “get it” – we’re not here to judge. We’re here to embrace, say hello, have a drink, and pat the back of someone who’s been there, too.

Surprise 5: I always enjoy talking to the person I least expect. This is my second class reunion, and what I remembered most about the first one is that the conversations I most enjoyed, and most remembered afterward, were with people I didn’t even expect to see, and in some cases people I didn’t even know very well in high school. People interest me in general – it must be the writer in me – but at both reunions I tried to steer away from my closest friends (whom I still see regularly anyway) and strike up conversations with folks I knew but didn’t hang out with necessarily. And I found them all so interesting. Somehow, having new, adult shared experiences overlaid onto our shared past (growing up in the same era, in the same neighborhood, at the same school, with the same kids and teachers) makes an even cooler connection. It’s like you can understand the adult experiences better because you knew and shared the teenage experiences. And maybe there’s an assumptive trust there that you don’t really get with just any ol’ person you meet as an adult. And some of these folks were kids I went to elementary school with, too, so the shared experiences just multiply. It felt like touching a little bit of a cornerstone.

Surprise 6: I guess we sometimes need to touch the cornerstone. … The people who wanted to go and went had a good time. The people who didn’t want to go but went anyway had a good time. The people who couldn’t go seemed to realize they’d missed a good time. No one seemed to regret going.

Maybe — despite everyone’s nervousness, vacillating, and uncertainty — we all just need to make these connections every so often.

Maybe there’s something important about touching that cornerstone.

Stepping Off the Roller Coaster…


I feel like the roller coaster known as “Summer of 2014” just screeched to a halt, and I’m getting off now, holding my stomach, calming my jittery nerves, squinting into the sunlight, and thinking, Damn! What a ride!

It was fun and exhilarating; wild and exhausting; but nervewracking, busy, frantic.

And it all flew by in a blur.

The wildness of the summer started in May, was punctuated by a multitude of milestone birthdays and events, and ran all the way to Labor Day. Here are the highlights:

  • May 3 – Oldest son turns 21: party? gift? We didn’t know what to do. (It’s not like we saw this coming for 21 years, right?…)
  • May 16 – Oldest son finishes second-semester of college: airport, re-configuring space at home, buying more groceries, planning family get-togethers, figuring out transportation for a new job 26 miles away, what to do for his birthday, etc.
  • May 24 – Sis-in-law turns 50: milestone birthday, fun 2-day party, photos galore, etc. Her birthday party turns into the see-oldest-son-home-and-wish-him-a-happy-21st-birthday moment for the whole family.
  • June – Middle daughter child graduates from high school: party? gift? It’s not like we saw this coming for 12 years of school, right? … We ended up knee-deep in announcements, math tutoring, photos, banquets, party planning, friends, prom, grad gown rental, shop for her shoes/dresses, grad night, etc., etc. And yeah, we planned a party.
  • July 1 – My first book launch! Egads! Craziness! Facebook contests, blog posts, interviews, social media, writing to friends, contacting relatives, watching stats, signing books, doing newsletters, etc., etc. This went on for a month, overlapping all these other things.
  • July 14 – My job moves from Mission Viejo to Newport Beach: packing, unpacking, learning a new drive route, figuring out lunches, changing youngest son’s schedule, getting up earlier, more time on the road, etc., etc.
  • July 28 – Father-in-law turns 70: another milestone birthday, another fun 3-day birthday party, photos galore.
  • August – Middle daughter getting ready to go away to college, along with oldest son: packing, following lists, boxes all over the dining room, going through daughters room/ closet/ clothes/ drawers for what she needs to bring, shopping for bedding, cords, lamps, rugs, wastebaskets, shower caddies, desk supplies, etc.
  • August 9 – Middle daughter child turns 18: party? gift? (It’s not like we saw this coming for 18 years, right? But somehow I didn’t see all these milestones in the same year!) She’s already swept up in college-getting-ready, though, and hasn’t looked back — doesn’t want a big celebration, just wants to get stuff for college.
  • August 14-16 – Last-minute appointments for college kids: vaccines, eye exams, contact lenses, glasses updates, etc.
  • August 16-17 – My two older kids saying goodbye to extended family: pizza, playing games, photos, fun
  • August 20 – Road trip to college with the whole family: packing, planning, buying travel items, booking hotels, finalizing registration, finalizing orientation, paperwork, maps, organizing week off from work, etc.
  • August 23 – We return home, just the three of us. We reorganize the chaos we left in daughter’s bedroom and dining room from the crazy last-minute packing, then get ready to return to work.
  • August 26 – Second book’s cover reveal: more promo, blog post, Facebook posts, etc.
  • Sept 4 – Youngest starts sophomore year in high school
  • Now – Take some deep breaths! Step off the roller coaster. Summer 2014 is over!

Maybe that’s why I’m so happy about September.


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

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