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Today in My History

2001:  View from the Soap Box
2002:  Always Go to the Head
2003:  Dare to be Happy
2004:  Going to Extremes
Body Armor
2006:  Death Be Not Proud
2007:  Beautimus
2008:  Most Considerate Dogs Ever
2009:  Box Full of Memories
2010:  Ahoy, Mateys!
2011:  Something Wrong
The Mask
2013: Must Come a Time--70

Bitter Hack
Updated: 1
Elemeno Pea

Books Read in 2014
"The Days of Anna Madrigal"

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Ernest & Vanessa's Visit

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Airy Persiflage

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mail to Walt

* Note umbrella theme, hoping that it will actually rain in California this month!


1 February 2014

I recently saw a segment on the Today Show about a father who had started writing notes to put in his daughter’s lunchbox. He’s been doing it every day since she started school (I think she’s in her early teens now). It became a more important project for him when he was diagnosed with cancer and he has written notes that will take her into adulthood, should he die before that time. She talked about how much those notes meant to her and how she saves them in a scrapbook so that when he is gone she will always have this special piece of him with her forever.

The segment made me sad. It’s the sort of tradition I wish I had set up with my kids when they were little...a special "something" between them and me that they could hold on to after I’m gone. Too late now.

I suppose it’s natural to look back over your life and find that the things you could have done and didn’t, the missed opportunities, the disappointments may stand out more clearly than the thing you did do and the successes – because we’re supposed to be humble and not dwell too much on all the good that we did.

My first big parenting disappointment is that I intended to make family reading a special thing for us. I love books. I wanted my children to love books (ultimately only two did–-Jeri and David). When David was a baby, I started a reading time where I would gather all the kids around me and we would read books. In my mind’s eye this would be our "special time" together. In reality it became such a period for fighting that I gave it up. Everybody wanted to sit in my lap and they would pinch, punch, and bite if they didn’t get to be where they wanted to be. There was more crying than reading. When I realized that the only reason I was being a referee in the free-for-all of sibling rivalry was that I wanted to share my love of reading with them, that I stopped reading. We never took it up again. I regret that now.

One of my favorite childhood memories is the year my mother read Karen and me "A Christmas Carol." Each night we read another chapter and it became the most magical Christmas in my memory. I had hoped it would become a family tradition each year, but for some reason she only did it that one year.

I love that Laurel spends time with each of the girls, reading to them before bed. She and Brianna are now doing "chapter books." I know that both of the girls are going to continue their love of books into adulthood because of the time she is taking with them now.

As our children started school, I had this image in my mind that when school was over each day, I would sit and have a snack and talk with the kids about their day. I started it with Jeri when she went to kindergarten. I don’t think we lasted a month. She wasn’t interested and it was such a struggle to keep her at the table, where she did not want to share how her day had gone, that I gave up. I regret that now. And I regret that during a period of time here in Davis our kids were latchkey kids. I had a job that was very parent friendly. I was always available by phone and just a few minutes away if they needed me, but I wasn’t there if they returned home upset...or excited. I regret that. A lot.

When we had a large family, I expected that we would have the house where all the kids gathered after school. But I was not (surprise, surprise) a good housekeeper, we did not have the kind of yard where you would sit and relax and somehow they managed to find a tidy home with a yard and a pool and so the kids and their friends never gathered here. I was never "that mom" that they all looked forward to hanging out with because I got tongue tied and never knew what to say.

We actually were the hang-out house for kids when we had a foreign student going to high school and living in our house. All the foreign kids gathered here but my own kids were off at the house with the pool and the cool mom.

I was there for every performance, every show, every band competition, every diving meet, every Scout or 4H meeting, every school event. I was room mother for every grammar school class (room mother for 2 classes one year) and yet the thing I will remember more is not being "that house," not having reading time, not being there when the kids came home from school and not creating the kind of memory that the young girl on The Today Show has with her father.

I want a do-over. I want to do it better next time.


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Moment of cool mom


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