Sunday Stills: Seeking #Warmth

Sunday Stills Beach Graphic

The theme “warmth” for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge conjures a variety of ideas.

For many, it has been a cold, harsh winter. I spent last weekend in South Lake Tahoe for our Ladies Retreat. The Sierra Nevada mountains in May can be warm, cold or both! This time, although the nights and early mornings were close to freezing, the daytime temps pushed the mid-70s in the sun.

Seeking both warmth and solitude, many found these chairs to provide both.

chairs in Lake Tahoe
Seeking Warmth

Warmth does not have to include sunshine. In a previous post I submitted for the WordPress Photography 101, the challenge was “warmth” and this updated photo shows the warmth of my sister-in-law’s gorgeous kitchen.

Warm Kitchen

Today is Mother’s Day in the US. Although I am unable to see my own mother, I am spending the weekend in the delta with my daughters who both live out of town. The photo below is one of us enjoying fun times in the delta from a couple of years ago.

Enjoying a warm sunset in the Sacramento Delta.

My youngest daughter gave me this beautiful card last year. It’s one of those hand-made 3-D types with glitter and the works. I can see myself in that photo seeking warmth, solitude and some “me” time. She’s even a redhead! The card is definitely a keeper!

Beach Graphic
3-D Mother’s Day Card I saved

I hope you were inspired by this short post today as I finish my rare weekend with both daughters!

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers and daughters!

my signature w/ hibiscus

Where are You Going? Here’s to Strong Women

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

With all the turmoil and sickness plaguing us these last few weeks, I want to take a moment to celebrate my daughters’ January birthdays.

If we were having coffee today, I would invite you in for a hot beverage of your choice (coffee’s ready!) and perhaps some virtual birthday cake.

Today is my oldest daughter’s 32nd birthday. My younger daughter turned 29 on the 21st. They spent many of their childhood and teen birthdays with just me, when I was a single mom raising them with little financial help.

There is something about our children’s birthdays that incites reflection.

Two years ago I wrote a reflective piece when my oldest turned 30, a milestone birthday for the both of us. Here is that post, Where are You Going, My Little Ones.

Through the grace of God, some luck and sheer grit, I raised these incredible women to be strong and independent. Perhaps you can see this in the photo of them fist-bumping after walking me down the aisle after my second wedding in 2013.

Daughters celebrating after marrying off their mom!

My oldest (pictured on the right) is an Aerospace Engineer living in the San Francisco Bay area and has happily worked for the same defense contractor since 2007. She put herself through 4 years at UCLA, graduating with honors, then receiving her master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering. She lives with her boyfriend and two cats and does not plan to have children.

My youngest (on the left), after a long, stressful educational journey, where she was academically expelled from university, ultimately clawed her way back in and graduated with her bachelor of science degree in Recreation Therapy. One year ago, she sat for the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist exam and passed on her first try.

She chose to move away from her friends to a town on the California Central Coast and now works for a State Hospital as a Recreation Therapist. She shares her first apartment with her dog and a fellow co-worker. She is not dating at the moment, but hopes to have children someday.

We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.Both daughters make more money at their young ages than I ever made at the height of my career.

And I am damn proud.

I want them to live their lives in a world where choices matter and living the strength of their convictions takes no effort.

My oldest daughter was severely affected by the outcome of the US elections. I sat helpless as she sobbed over the phone in her disappointment. Not to be stopped, she recently took part in the women’s march in San Francisco.

But even with all this recent turmoil, I am still a mother.

If you have children, enjoy them at every age. I am blessed to be a mom of these lovely, talented young women. Enjoy this lovely version of the song, Turn Around. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

“Where Are You Going (Turn Around)”

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Notes: by Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. Published by Clara Music Publishing Corporation (ASCAP). Administered by Next Decade Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

I am also linking this song to Hugh’s Views & News 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past.

Winter Weekend Coffee SharePlease join the coffee clatch at Part-Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share




Weekend Coffee Share: The Phoenix Shall Fly


“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’
Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” 

–Erin Hanson

If you are like me, you may have spent part of your weekend at a graduation ceremony. If we were having coffee I would have handed you a to-go cup and tell you all about it while driving to the weekend festivities.

My youngest daughter, LAM (initials), graduated from her university early Saturday morning. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Therapy. She will start her fall internship at an Oregon hospital as a recreation therapist working with patients who have psychological problems. Read more about this profession here.

What I have just described is the end (and beginning) of a long, circuitous route for LAM. Her first job in high school was as a lifeguard working indirectly for me (poor thing). Even with several years in aquatics working with children, teens, and adults, she wanted to pursue a college degree in physical therapy or nutrition science. Both noble professions.

She was lucky to play collegiate volleyball for two years, earning her AA degree at a community college. But that is where the road took the turn. Once she started at a four-year university her focus changed. Sadly she did not continue, but left school and moved to San Diego.

If we were having coffee, this is where I would tell you how frustrating it was as her mom to feel so helpless. We want to help our kids and smooth the way for them, but this was not going to happen.

Although LAM was surrounded by other family members in San Diego, she became depressed and out of sorts. 15 months later she came back home. Within one month of being home, she and her car were involved in a rear-end collision. Adding to the stress was a mild injury and me having to find her another vehicle. (I sold her mine, and bought me a new one).

Moving back home was the balm LAM needed to get back on her feet. But, watching her best friends graduating, buying homes and getting jobs, was not helping her self-esteem or depression. She needed a fresh start.

Like other times before when I gave her some advice (although she was stubborn about taking it), we discussed the Recreation and Parks major (where I got my two degrees), with the concentration in Recreation Therapy. She already had some exposure to this working as a lifeguard, where she helped people of all ages with disabilities in the aquatics setting.

The light-bulb came on.Phoenixed-Mortarboard

Like the proverbial Phoenix, rising up out of the ashes, albeit, one feather at a time, she started down a new and refocused path. This road included going back to community college, taking classes and holding a higher grade point average so she could be reinstated to her university.

Only 12% of students who end up on academic expulsion return to graduate.

If we were having coffee, this is where I would pause to take a deep breath so I don’t cry. The road led her to this moment, when she walked across the stage yesterday, then, ceremoniously, turned her mortarboard tassel to the left. I lost it when she tossed the mortarboard into the air symbolically releasing the Phoenix!

Yes, my darling daughter, you certainly did fly!

Update three years later, LAM (Lauren) has worked successfully as a Recreation Therapist in the California State Department of Psychiatric hospitals and is currently back in San Diego with the Department of Corrections working in a State prison.

She is still flying!


A Disappointed Daughter’s Perspective for Mother’s Day


Back in September, I wrote a post that elicited an emotional response from a variety of readers. For Mother’s Day, I would like the share this again.

Mom and me in San Diego during Thanksgiving 2008.

For my mom; my dream reader

As I delve more into blogging each day, sharing my perspectives, I’m challenged with the notion that I am a disappointed daughter. My mother may never see this, not because she has passed on, but because she lives in a nursing home since 2010, at the young age of 75.

Mom’s health has always been poor; I remember as a kid in the early 1960s, how she had bottles of prescription meds for sleeping, for waking up, and probably “mama’s little helpers” for all I know. She was very much the hypochondriac! At age 40, she contracted lupus, which slowly took her health away.

By 2009, Mom, still living by herself (divorced my dad at age 39), started showing signs of dementia. Because she was on Medi-Cal as a result of the divorce, she was taking so many medications from different doctors that her health was failing on every level. I was disappointed by Mom’s manipulation as well as the doctors for not taking better care of her.

My mother is the daughter of educators, but she married young and lived the typical “housewife and mother” lifestyle, raising three kids (one daughter, two sons); and consequently never finished her college degree. Disappointing…she was one math class away from a B.S.

She took great care of us but she was obsessed with vacuuming and putting on her hair and make-up all day long. She did not like to cook, so my Dad would cook after coming home from working all day. By the time I was 16 and learning to drive, Mom decided she wanted to re-learn how to drive. By the time I started college at 18, she decided to work on her degree. A little friendly competition there, Mom?

My husband and I live 500 miles away from most of our families who still live in San Diego. We get to San Diego two-three times a year. Visiting Mom in the nursing home, or at a family gathering, results in her telling me how happy she is to see me, while telling me 10 times in 5 minutes how pretty my blouse is.

I feel my Mom’s poor health and distance robbed me of a good relationship with her—no fault of anyone’s, really. But…it disappoints me.


Mom did teach me valuable life lessons. The innate educator in her compelled her to teach me how to read at age four, spell such words as “constitution” (I can barely type it!), and made me sound out words phonetically—all good skills! By the way, Mom had an IQ of at least 165 (but acted like the proverbial “absent-minded professor” with little common sense). In high school, Mom insisted I take Latin (!) as my language requirement, and she could still remember hers and could still conjugate verbs (“amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant”)! In college while still living at home for a bit, we would debate philosophy and religion and she would help me write my term papers!

For recreation, Mom always insisted we go somewhere every Saturday or Sunday, whether it was to church, the beach (we lived in San Diego), the zoo, Sea World, or trips to the snow in the Cuyamaca Mountains.

High country of Yosemite National Park

Every summer we camped for two weeks in Sequoia and/or Yosemite National Parks. This instilled a strong leisure ethic in me that exists to this day and has been passed down to my daughters.

Mom also bred and showed collies, which took us all over Southern California, then to the Pacific Northwest while we lived in Oregon for two years. Ever had hairy, panting, drooling dogs sit next to you in the backseat of the car on road trips? Yay. Our collies did well, many reaching championship status. With 10-12 dogs in the backyard (never came in the house, too hairy, and Mom vacuumed enough as it was), my brother and I had the pleasure of not walking the dogs daily, but riding our bikes holding the dogs’ leashes so the dogs could trot next to us! Needless to say, we were all in great shape!

When my first daughter was born, Mom drove up to Northern California every SIX weeks for a week to be with her. She was and is obsessed with babies and toddlers. As the kids grew, Mom spent hours looking for just the right birthday and Christmas gifts, which of course, needed a lengthy explanation. As a grandmother, she played with my daughters, read to them and bought them clothes. Mom taught my oldest daughter to read and play music on a recorder. My daughter went on the play clarinet. Mom was indeed a talented musician, playing the recorder, viola and French horn.Mom-Dad-and-Me

Dear Mom, if you ever read this, please know that I love you despite my own perceived disappointments. Mothers and daughters may have ambivalent relationships, but you instilled the love of leisure and the love of education in me and from these my disappointment turns to everlasting gratitude.

Love, child holding heart

Your daughter

Where Are You Going, My Little Ones?

Yosemite Girls

Summer Day in Tuolumne Meadows
Summer Day in Tuolumne Meadows

Thirty years ago today marks the birth of my first daughter, “MAM.” First off, I am in awe that 30 years has gone by. Secondly, how can I be the mother of a 30-year old?

At age 24, working a part-time job with no benefits, and having just moved back to my home town in San Diego, my then husband and I broke the news to our family that we were expecting. The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, since I had an ectopic pregnancy prior to that. With one Fallopian tube, the chances of getting pregnant were much slimmer.

When I announced this news to my grandfather, he changed the subject and asked how my car was doing. He was concerned that neither my husband nor I had full-time jobs at that time. I didn’t have medical insurance, either, so I was able to access Planned Parenthood’s prenatal program for a reasonable monthly fee.

MAM was due to be born on February 4th.

On Sunday, January 27th, my youngest brother and I were playing Trivial Pursuit. He had to answer the question, “What was the horse’s name in ‘Jingle Bells’?” He was 14 years old at the time and as he sang the song, it came out “bells on ring-tail rise” (instead of “bells on Bob’s tail ring”) which resulted in uproarious laughter on my part. As we both laughed uncontrollably for what seemed like hours, I suddenly felt a cramp. Much more than a Braxton-hicks contraction, this was painful!

Yes, I went into labor. I told my doctor the next morning that I laughed myself into labor. MAM was born on January 29th, six days earlier than expected.

January 29th in our family holds significance. Most of the family hales from Kansas. January 29th was the day that Kansas was admitted into the United States. My curmudgeon grandfather, who so blatantly ignored the pregnancy, was amazed. Why? Because January 29 was his 70th birthday! MAM came early to be born on his birthday and be his first great-grandchild, forever endearing her to him. Today, Grandpa would have been 100.

And that was 30 years ago.

Youngest daughter, “LAM” was born on January 21, three years later. Again, the surprise of “I’m pregnant again?” This time I was working for the City parks and rec where I eventually spent 30 years of my work life. My husband was in school and working full-time.

Both pregnancies were textbook. Had I been a pioneering woman from the 1800s, I would have born a brood of kids. With LAM, since it was my second pregnancy, I looked pregnant sooner. My doctors worried I might have gestational diabetes, but no, she was just a big one!

We had to take a few prenatal classes, and with this health plan I was able to use a midwife under the supervision of an obstetrician. When the day arrived (why are so many babies born in the wee hours of the morning?) I started feeling the rhythmic contractions, we headed to the hospital. I kept having these painless contractions, thinking they were just the Braxton-hicks’. As the nurses and midwife checked my blood pressure, the nurse asked me if I was having a contraction. Because it was painless, I said no. At the same time, my midwife, who was monitoring me, said “yes.” I thought they might send me home since there was very little pain with the contractions.

My midwife announced that I was one in one-thousand women who have painless contractions during labor. Two hours later, they broke the water and my 10 pound baby girl was born! Pushing out a bowling ball with no epidural effing HURT!

Thirty years later, MAM is a successful aerospace engineer with a Master’s degree, working for a defense contractor in the Silicon Valley. LAM is finishing up her last semester of school with a major in Therapeutic Recreation (that apple did fall close to the tree). Both amazing young women.

This milestone year of 30 birthdays for MAM sparked my maternal emotions, and I am reminded of this old song (partial lyrics):

“Where Are You Going (Turn Around)”

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Notes: by Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. Published by Clara Music Publishing Corporation (ASCAP). Administered by Next Decade Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

If you have children, enjoy them at every age. I am blessed to be a mom of these lovely, talented young women. Enjoy this lovely version of the song.