Posted in Adventure, Romance, Teenagers

Test Driving The Empty Nest

lakecoupleI recently celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. We pulled out the photo album, stopped by the winery where we held our reception, and took a little walk down memory lane. We were just a couple of kids with our whole future ahead of us.

And that future included kids. Two boys kept us on our toes for many years. Little League games, swimming lessons, road trips, and field trips kept us moving. We are fortunate to have family nearby and we only paid for a babysitter outside of daycare once.

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Now our boys are grown. Well, my teenager might add an inch or two, and he definitely will fill out in the coming years, but the boots on the ground hard work is mostly behind us.

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Our oldest son is basically living on the river this summer. He’s a whitewater raft guide and is living down in Lotus with the other guides who travel from all over for the season. He needs to do this, and we need to let him, but I miss him. He’s a great guy.

My younger son went to Oregon for the weekend with his grandparents for my niece’s graduation. So my husband and I had the house to ourselves. What did that entail?

A surprise party for the first of his high school group to turn 50. Then we went to Costco, as one does on a Saturday. We stopped by another party hosted by another of his lifelong friends and were home by 9:30.

We did some stuff around the house and then went for a hike. We wanted to take the dog, but she has a bad knee and were worried it would be too much for her. We drove up to our winter home, Sierra-At-Tahoe, and parked outside the gate. We hiked up to the top of the resort, finding four quarters, a penny, two cell phones, two walkie-talkies and several beer cans. We put a few in the recycling can at the top, and carried the rest back down.

We had a lovely picnic and enjoyed the view. The hike was a good incentive to stay in shape as we move into the next phase of our lives. Especially since our golf game is atrocious.

Last night our teenager took us to the movies to see Incredibles 2. It was super. We loved it. We also enjoyed watching the young families enjoy the movie. Especially the dad who watched most of the movie from the aisle, with the three-year-old who didn’t want to stay in her seat. I had a boy who would get up and walk out when he was done–about halfway through the movie.

I also really enjoyed the short film before the movie. I bawled, like I did at the beginning of Up and Toy Story 3. And I totally got where the mother in the film was coming from.

They don’t tell you what to expect when your kids grow up. Sure, there are dozens of blogs about graduation, and dropping your kids off at the dorm. Plenty of tips on what your kids need for the next step, but what about us? How do I prepare to only buy one gallon of milk at a time? Or do laundry twice a week instead of every day? And what even is the point of Costco if there are only two people in the house?

Fortunately, we still have two more years of high school. Maybe longer if my husband stays on as the ski coach. And I have my kids at the elementary school, and while they keep growing up on me, I get new ones each year.

I have my writing, too. I will always have that. And someday, my husband will be my assistant, lugging my suitcase full of books, taking pictures of me with my fans, and inspiring my belief that happily ever after isn’t a fairy tale at all. It just means different things at different times in our lives.

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Posted in Adventure, Teenagers

Every Day Is Mother’s Day

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Forget Breakfast in bed, flowers, or a card that costs more than all of my eBooks combined. I’ve never been one for traditional gifts. And the men (my kids are teenagers and bigger than me) in my life know that. Forget jewelry, sweet raspberry topped breakfast foods, flowers that will die and I’ll have to clean out the smelly water in a few weeks when I finally discover “what is that smell?”

Sleeping in, having the coffee ready when I finally decide to get out of bed, and letting me watch old movies while I sip such coffee and write are more my style. I wouldn’t mind if my boys plant the bulbs we bought for my youngest’s debate team fundraiser. I enjoy flowers in their natural habitat. My front yard is a nice little oasis, and when it warms up just a bit will be my summer office.

Motherhood is a job but it’s also an adventure. And the rewards can’t be put in a card. I’ve had many moments in my 19 years of motherhood that are more rewarding than jewelry, flowers, or even a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few photos to illustrate why every day is Mother’s Day.

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Posted in Adventure, Teenagers, Uncategorized, Writing

Spring Break Is Here

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I think this picture sums up this Spring in Northern California perfectly. After years of only getting winter from 6-10 am, this year’s winter is lingering. Yet, signs of spring are everywhere (especially my truck, it’s covered with pollen and tiny flowers that blew off my maple tree).

As an educator, I’m ready for a well-deserved and much-needed break. But I’m also a writer, so I’m hoping to make this a productive vacation. I have some research to conduct for a new series, and then I really need to make some progress in drafting the first book in the series.

You’d think that by my eighth book, drafting would become easier, or at least more efficient. Not so much. I’m trying to outline more, and in some ways it is easier. I know what needs to happen, but there’s still a lot of writing that needs to be done between plot points.

I took two days to go skiing with my family. I’m the last one to get into the sport, despite having gone to high school in Tahoe. The rest of them started young. I still remember taking my oldest up to Mt. Shasta when he was about three. At the time they still had a rope tow and he couldn’t get the hang of it, causing a major meltdown. Not good for the snow conditions. So my father-in-law took him back to our cabin and had him ski down the driveway. After a few runs, he was a skier. It’s taken me thirty years to get the hang of it. But if I’m going to spend time with my teenagers, I need to do what they enjoy. And trust me, I’m much better at skiing than video games.

This was from a few weeks ago. My kids don’t actually ski with me. But they’re more than happy to join us for lunch. If we’re buying.

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This is the view from the top. You can see Lake Tahoe, always a beautiful sight, especially when the lake is full.

We’re expecting another storm later in the week. Which will make the last two weekends pretty spectacular.

Then we’ll look forward to spending the summer on the river. We’ll catch a few baseball games. Hopefully we’ll spend some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta. And the cool part, is that all of this can be considered research for my books.

 

 

Posted in Books, Random, Teenagers, Uncategorized

December Birthdays and New Releases

While everyone else is busy with holiday shopping, office Christmas parties, and decorating and baking, I’m trying prepare for the release of my 6th book In Too Deep (A Swift River Romance #2) on December 20th.

I also have the next round of edits on my 7th book, coming out next fall. Oh, and get the proposal finished for the next series.

But I got a little sidetracked by my birthday last Monday.  We had a simple celebration, dinner with my husband and two sons. Then my mom came into town and took me to dinner the next night. And we had a Christmas party on Thursday. And on and on it goes.

As I get older, and my kids get older, I have found the joy in doing and buying less. I’m happy with a nice dinner and maybe a warm pair of socks. And the giant barrel of cheese balls my son’s bought me. (Although at least one of them helped me eat the whole thing).

My kids are happy with less, as well. They needed new ski equipment this year and we went ahead and got it now instead of waiting to put it under the tree. Because, hey, there’s snow. And they have already gone up enough to have paid for their passes that we bought them at the end of last season.

I see some clothing and gift cards making their way into the stockings and under the tree. And Hot Wheels, because they are a tradition in our family ever since my oldest was two and would get extremely excited to get a new Hot Wheel.

I wish I could get half as excited by anything as he was over a new car or Thomas train when he was little.

The only thing that comes close is getting a great review on one of my books. Or hitting a bestseller list. That would be a great gift. Even getting a message from a reader telling me that they enjoyed my books is much more meaningful than some trinket or knick-knack or even jewelry.

But I’d be okay with a nice dinner out, a bottle of Boeger wine, and of course books by my favorite authors.

 

Posted in Adventure, Books, Education, Road Trip, Teenagers, Writing

End Of Summer Blues

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My youngest son started his Freshman year of high school yesterday. His brother will start college in two weeks. And I will go back to work at the elementary school on Thursday. A lot of people complain about school starting so early. They didn’t go back until after Labor Day. The reason for the early start is to finish the first semester before Christmas break. Which means no studying for finals over the holiday. No major projects due the day after New Years. I’m good with that.

The hard part for me isn’t the day on the calendar. It’s all the things I was going to accomplish over the break. Cleaning out the closets, re-covering the patio chairs, redoing the second shower that has been unusable for months. Staining the deck. Finishing the second AND third books in my Swift River Romance series.

Add in a family vacation, which could be our last with our oldest son since he’s taken a job as a whitewater guide and will be working the whole summers for the foreseeable future.

Let’s see, what did I accomplish this summer? Besides catching up on my sleep?

I finished the second book, while we were on our family vacation. We took a road trip to Jackson, Wyoming. We were able to stay at our cousin’s place in Wilson, we took day trips to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and the boys were able to explore bike trails in the area while I worked in the shadow of the Tetons.

 

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And I ordered the parts for the shower, calculated the tile needed, and I’m in the process of trying to figure out what to do about the fact that the tile we have is about eight square feet short of what we need. And since the tile I want to use is about ten years old, it’s going to be really hard to get an exact match. I’m thinking I’m going to have to find something in a similar texture but a different color. Darker, maybe. Then there’s the demolition of the old tile and getting a plumber in to do the inside parts of the shower so I can tile the walls after ward. It’s going to have to be a weekend warrior project.

I attended the Romance Writers of America annual convention in San Diego. Had a wonderful time meeting other authors, taking workshops on craft and finding my readers, meeting with my publisher, and celebrating the world of Romance.

My fifth book, Swept Away, was released. This is the first of three books in the Swift River Romance series.

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I went through the editing process on In Too Deep, the second book in the series and I’m working on Diving In, the third book.

I’m working on a proposal for a new series.

We have taken a couple of trips down the American River in our ancient raft. We even got to see our oldest son while he was working and did our best to embarrass him by asking if he remembered his sunscreen when he paddled past us.

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We attended a wedding and a Bar Mitzvah. We’ve taken a couple of day hikes, gone swimming, and spent some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta.

So I guess it was a good summer, even if it felt too short. I have a feeling they’re only going to get shorter.

 

Posted in Random, Teenagers

Downsizing Christmas

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It started the day after Halloween when I saw my first freshly cut Christmas tree tied to the roof of a car. I became a scrooge. I did not want to even think about Christmas. Actually, I love Christmas. I love the time with family. The singing. Watching classic holiday movies. The lights. Getting a tree. The story of Christmas itself.

It’s the Christmas shopping I hate.

Starting November 1, I was bombarded with messages about Black Friday sales and emails about one day only deals. The debates over whether or not stores should be open on Thanksgiving. The constant barrage of advertising for things I have no intention of buying, diamonds, a fancy new car, razors. Why is it that women are supposed to want diamonds and the guys get a new disposable razor? I’ve never been able to figure that out. My husband and teenage son each have an electric razor, and my 12-year-old doesn’t need one. Yet.

My teenager has a car, so his stocking will be filled with gas cards, car care products, and maybe a gift card to Taco Bell or In N Out. I’m debating getting each of the boys two of their own towels, so the rest of us don’t have to hunt for all the towels wadded up and used only once in each of the boys’ rooms.

The twelve-year-old? I have no idea what to get for him. He’s outgrown most toys and he has too many video games as it is. He likes to draw, but he already has tons of markers and posterboard. There may be more of the same under the tree.

The thing is, I don’t want to buy any more presents that get tossed aside in the race to open the next gift only to go unopened or unused. I don’t want to have to find a place for thoughtful, yet unnecessary doodads.

I want to give gifts that people will enjoy. And even use. I would rather give less things and more experiences. My boys will be spending a lot of time on the slopes this winter. The boys will be racing and my husband will be coaching the ski team. They’re going to have a great time. I’d like to get them something that will enhance their experience.

I guess I should start shopping.

Posted in Road Trip, Teenagers

Road Trips

The San Francisco Giants started a long road trip with a three game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. I went on a two and a half road trip with my family and the El Dorado High School Ski & Board team.

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Sixteen years ago, the Giants were also in Atlanta, and on May 3, 1998, they faced Tom Glavine. He was always tough on the Giants, and as he was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, one of the best pitchers of his era. But I woke up that morning knowing it was going to be a special day. Sure enough, behind Rich Aurelia’s two home runs,  a solid start by Danny Darwin, and a Save by Robb Nen, the Giants were victorious. Then it was time for me to go to the hospital to give birth to my first child. Yes, I waited until the game was over before heading to the delivery room. I had gone to Opening Day three weeks before, hoping to go into labor during the game, but my son had other plans.

This was the first year since he was five that he didn’t have a baseball game on his birthday. He’s moved on to football, skiing, and golf. He was supposed to go to a ski camp last weekend, but a late season storm forced them to move the camp to his birthday weekend.

His dad was on the ski team when he went to the same high school. It’s been great seeing him relive his glory days and contribute to the next generation by assisting the coaching staff. We took the whole family and one other skier down to Mammoth, CA. A four hour drive down the eastern Sierra was made more interesting by the conversation between my 16-year-old, his 11-year-old brother and the Senior who drove down with us. They discussed everything from video games, ancient civilizations, whitewater rafting, and music.

After having to detour over Spooner Summit when we discovered Nevada State Route 207 was closed, we met up with the others in Minden, NV. We made good time the rest of the way, getting there around nine. Since the directions to our condo were coming from the South, we put the address into our phone, but Siri took us the wrong direction. We drove around trying to find the street, but the carved wood street signs, while quaint and rustic, were hard to read in the dark. Making the third trip around the block, we came upon a rather large bear. I tried to get a picture, but I worried the flash would spook him and he’d come charging toward our car. We decided it would be better to take the teenagers to their condo and we’d try to figure out where we were staying from there.

By following the e-mailed directions, we found our condo, on the opposite side of the main street than Siri tried to take us. Earlier that day we were making fun of people who didn’t know how to read maps and relied solely on their phones to find places.

For two days, the teenager and his dad spent the mornings learning how to race slalom and then they had some free skiing in the afternoons. My younger son joined them on Sunday and he got to race the course right next to where the Team USA was training. I worked on revision of the next book, hopefully Book Three, and listened to the baseball games on my phone. For some reason, being halfway between the Giants and Dodgers stadiums, the only game I could find on TV was between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.

Saturday was my son’s 16th birthday, so while he was skiing, I baked his birthday cake. I’d packed the cake pans, batter bowl, mixer, and I’d even remembered the parchment paper to line the cake pans. What I didn’t bring was something to put the cake on. So I had to go back into to town looking for a cake plate or something to place the layer cake on.

It was great weekend.

Here are some pictures my husband took on the mountain.

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