Why the bond between siblings is special

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My two darlings.


I’m thrilled that my two kids have grown into adults that truly like each other. It didn’t always work that way. Although most of the time they got along, there were those moments–jealousies, fights, and sometimes things got physical. Now that they’re in their early adulthoods, you can’t imagine how thrilled I was to hear my daughter say she and her brother talk for hours on the phone at night.

I remember when they were very young during summers at the beach, my son’s line to meet new people was to drag his sister across the sand and say, “You wanna meet my sister?” like that was the most outstanding experience anyone could wish for. When my daughter was interviewing for a coveted spot in our Catholic kindergarten she said over and over, “I’m Robert’s sister!”

They played countless hours together when we spent a couple months each summer at the beach. We had friends come and meet us and as the years went by they formed friendships through the swim team, both our home club in Palm Springs and the one in Orange County they dropped in on during vacations. But, mostly it was the two of them together to keep each other company. They’re as different as can be, but have that shared experience of being siblings.


My and my big brother.

At one time in my life, my big brother was the most important person in my life. I was closer to him than my mom and dad—or best friend. In the mornings getting ready for school, we shared a bathroom counter space and a sink outside our bedroom doors. I would ask his opinion on my school outfit and would change several times until I could find something suitable to wear, with his stamp of approval. I looked up to him and when he was in high school and suffered an injury losing part of a finger during his summer job at our local pea factory, I cried for days on end. I felt it was the end of the world.


Throughout our adulthood, having spouses, children a decade apart in ages, and living a few states away, our relationship has almost ceased. I stop by to visit on my trips back home. But the busy years of work, raising kids, and being a swim mom make the trips infrequent. I don’t think we’ll ever have that special relationship as siblings back. But when I see him, I still feel the bond that we had for those years growing up together with our own Mom and Dad that no one else had.


One of my favorite summers at the beach.

What special bond do you have with your siblings? How do you keep your relationships going throughout busy lives?



It’s Christmastime and I’m Ready!

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First brother sister Christmas photo.

I worked like crazy to get ready for Christmas. In addition to my usual decorating, card writing, baking and gift buying and wrapping, I had the added challenge of getting bids from roofers and a handyman to repair the roof and our closet.

Then, my daughter came home a few days ago and it’s been a whirlwind of activity ever since. I’m fighting myself to take time to appreciate the moments she’s here and not worry about everything that needs to “get done.” It’s a fact that I’m not going to finish the rewrite of my mid-grade novel or complete the other writing projects before Christmas—or soon after. I will in good time. And that’s okay. I need to enjoy these few days with my daughter and husband before our girl returns to school out of state.

I realize how blessed I am that she enjoys coming home, wants nothing more than to take a walk with us around town and the park. She likes hanging out and helping me.

It’s time to celebrate the season and be grateful for the time I have with my family. Last night we were treated to a wonderful dinner by my dad. I looked around the table marveling that we had three generations who like being together. I miss having our son home, too, but we’ll be together later next week.

Merry Christmas and if you don’t hear from me for a few days, I’m spending the time with my loved ones.

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First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer.

Is there anything more important than spending time together with your loved ones? When is it time to say enough with the preparations for the holidays and take time to enjoy them?


Thankful for friends and family on Thanksgiving



Sunset on Thanksgiving Eve.


Our first Thanksgiving without our kids. I’m thankful they are with dear friends and their families since they weren’t able to make the trek home this year. Instead of moping around the house feeling sorry about my empty nest, we’re celebrating with our close friends. It was 30 years to the day that I first met them (my husband met them through work) and we spent Thanksgiving weekend sailing with them in Santa Barbara.

Here’s to friends and family and creating memories together.

Happy Thanksgiving!



My daughter’s swim team sending out a Thanksgiving message with her pup.


Who are you sharing your Thanksgiving with? What traditions do you share with friends and family?

Why are kids taking longer to grow up?


Senior prom–the kids got together in person.

Several articles published today are referencing a study by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge. She studied millions of kids to come up with the fact that millennials are taking longer to grow up than in previous generations. Twenge doesn’t make a judgment on whether that’s good or bad, she just states it as a fact.

In a talk I attended a few years ago for my daughter’s college, in one of the sessions led by an Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Psychologist Kari Ellingson said the same thing. She said when we were young, kids matured into adults at age 19, 20 and 21. Today, those numbers are delayed to 26, 27 and 28.

In an article from the New York Times, called “The curse of the helicopter parent” Twenge and her study are cited:

New York – Parents may still marvel at how fast their children grow up, but a new study finds that US teenagers are maturing more slowly than past generations.

In some ways, the trend appears positive: high school children today are less likely to be drinking or having sex compared with their counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s.

But they are also less likely to go on dates, have a part-time job or drive – traditional milestones along the path to adulthood.

So is that slower development “good” or “bad”? It may depend on how you look at it, the researchers say.

The findings, published online in the journal Child Development this week, are based on surveys done between 1976 and 2016.

Together, they involved more than 8 million US children in the 13-19 age group.

Over those years, the study found, teenagers gradually became less likely to try “adult” activities – including drinking, having sex, working, driving, dating and simply going out (with or without their parents).

By the 2010s, only 55% of high school seniors had ever worked for pay – versus roughly three-quarters of their counterparts in the late 1970s to the 1990s.

Similarly, only 63% had ever been on a date. That compared with 81% to 87% of high school seniors in the 1970s through 1990s.

In the San Diego Tribune, contact reporter Bradley J. Fikes wrote: “Teens are growing up more slowly — and they seem OK with it.”

Mid- to -late teens are delaying the classic milestones of adulthood, namely working, going out without their parents, driving, dating, having sex, and drinking alcohol, according to four decades of surveys reviewed for the study, led by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge.

Today’s 18-year-olds exhibit similar milestone behaviors as did 15-year-olds in the late 1970s, Twenge said. Moreover, they’re mostly doing this voluntarily — parents aren’t imposing this delayed independence.

The spread of smartphones, which allow teens to socialize from the safety of their homes, is part of the explanation, said Twenge. The author of “Generation Me,” she has released a new book on the generation born after 1995 called “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

When I look back on my teenage years compared to my kids, we had a whole lot more freedom. We were out all the time and our parents didn’t seem to care where we were. In fact, my parents were enjoying weekends on our boat or at the cabin and would leave my brother and me alone when we were teens. The same was true for a lot of my friends’ parents, as well. They didn’t keep track of us on a minute by minute basis. They also didn’t track us on “find my iPhone.” There weren’t any cell phones to call home and they just said to be home by a certain time.

I wonder how much influence our technology has today over our kids not growing up so fast? They aren’t getting together with friends to interact in person. They can do that from the comfort of their own bedrooms. Plus, they have all the entertainment they can consume, right on their iPhones. We helicopter parents keep a close eye on our kids and we know where they are at all times. By contrast, our parents told us to get outside and not come back until dinner. Between us and iPhones, our kids aren’t getting real-world experiences.

Everyone I knew growing up had some sort of part-time job in high school–even if it was working for their family’s business. I worked in my dad’s dental office and my brother bagged groceries at the local Safeway. Today, I know of very few kids with part-time jobs. My own son worked several jobs, but he was one of the few. He was an assistant lifeguard, then a coach for our team. He tutored in math and was paid to maintain a website. Very few of my kids’ friends had jobs after school. Teens today must not need to earn money because we are providing for all their needs and wants.

On the bright side, it’s good our kids aren’t running around at night unsupervised, drinking and having sex as teens. Also, they actually like hanging out with their parents!

What are your thoughts about why kids are not growing up as fast as we did?


Hanging out together this summer.

Here’s a recent story I wrote that included psychologist Jean M. Twenge.

Nostalgia for the iPod nano—and the kids



A view from our seven-mile hike.


I’m feeling nostalgic today. Maybe it’s because I cleaned out my son’s desk drawer or maybe it’s because he spent a few days with us this past week. We enjoyed talking about years gone by, memories of his childhood and listening to music together. We even took a seven-mile hike and camped overnight in the nearby mountains.

Back to today, I decided to clean out his desk and I found his high school IDs, ACT and SAT reports and the most important electronic device in his life—an iPod nano, circa 2005. He would have been in middle school at the time. His nano opened his world to music and he was the envy of many of his school friends and swim mates for a few months—until everyone had one. I remember years with his nano with him at all times.

I searched through other drawers to find a charger that had a really, really wide base. I don’t remember the chargers being that wide, do you?


My son’s 1st generation iPod. It was engraved on the back with his name and “I think therefore iPod.”


I found one in my daughter’s desk—next to one of her formerly prized possessions, a Pantech slide phone. How tricky was that? How on earth did she text on it? I never got the hang of it. She loved the phone because it came with a big sliding screen—and a camera.

I charged up the nano and listened to a few of my son’s songs. Then I tried to charge the old phone of my daughter’s. I wanted to take a peek at the photos she took on her first phone with a camera. I texted my son that I had found his iPod nano and I was going to mail it to him. He surprised me with a “please don’t.” I guess I’m the one feeling nostalgic, he’s over it.

I found an article about the history of the iPod. Here’s the section about the 1st generation iPod nano by Jacob Kastrenakes in “The iPod nano had a weird, amazing history.”

Like the iPod Classic three years before it, the iPod nano’s death today was a long time coming. But years ago, before the product stalled out, lost its identity, and was made wholly unnecessary by the iPhone, it featured some of Apple’s finest design and arguably represented the iPod at its peak — tiny, fun, and focused.

My favorite iPod nano iteration has always been the very first one (seen above). It came in black and white with a silver back, like a shrunken-down version of the classic iPod, and it felt immediately retro. It wasn’t throwing back to anything — just the iPod released a year earlier. But it was as though the nano had leapt so far ahead as to make the traditional iPod feel like a thing of the past, like the nano was a modern riff on technology we used to use and love.

What were your favorite devices 10 to 15 years ago? Did you have an iPod too?





What Matters Most: Times Together

18920581_10213697294890444_4649514921325596156_nThis past weekend, I was in mom heaven. My daughter was at a swim meet an hour away from where my son now lives. We didn’t do anything that special, we got to hang out together. It was one of my favorite weekends in recent memory.

At first, I was worried about how my daughter was going to do at the meet. She had already told us that due to other things going on in her life, her last few weeks of practice were not consistent at all.

I told her, “You can still get a best time and swim well.” 

She thought I was delirious. She was very realistic about what she could do at that point in time. I have to admit that after her first race, I got it. I relaxed about the times and understood that this meet was about being together as a family. It was a small slice of time where we could hang out and enjoy each other’s company. If I had been focused on her times and upset that she wasn’t at her peak fitness, I’d have been so disappointed. Instead, I reflected on being the mom of two almost grown kids that I’m so proud of. And, the fact that they enjoy being with me and each other.18920513_10213697294250428_7072346138704993087_n

While we were driving around town, the kids were in the back seat pretending to be little kids elbowing each other. I turned around from the front passenger seat and said, “Children, there’s an imaginary line going down the middle of the car. You can’t cross that line!”

My daughter immediately yelled out, “Mom, Robert crossed the line!”

Later, after fits of laughter, we hung out together in a park, lying on the grass and staring at the green leaves and blue sky.18835878_10213697294490434_3338216834463049598_n

We shared books, ideas and meals. My son’s vocabulary had us looking up new words and trying to memorize and pronounce them, like “primogeniture.” One of my kids favorite things to do was to copy our faces. My son does an imitation of me, while Kat has perfected her dad’s scowl. It always ended in a burst of laughter and fits of giggles.

The swim meet was exciting with a who’s who in the swimming world in the final heats. I witnessed amazing races and the international flavor was so hopeful and invigorating with countries in attendance including Argentina, Mexico, Japan and China.

It may be the last time we’ll be staying in a hotel with our daughter at a meet. Ever. Her final college season is ahead this fall and she’ll be with her team, not us. I was a little teary-eyed when the weekend flew by and it was time for me to return again to my empty nest.IMG_7880

Inspiration Can Be a Daily Thing


Back in the day: summer vacation in Laguna Beach.

When my college roommate was visiting after Thanksgiving, I would hear her phone ping every morning with texts.

Her mom, who is in her 80s, lives alone and asks that my college roommate and her two brothers make some contact via text every morning. That way, they know that she’s okay.

I’d hear the familiar ping of my friend’s phone. She’d say, “That’s from mom. Listen to what she has to say today….”

Then she’d read an inspirational quote that her mom sent. Her brothers would chime in and my friend would respond as well.

I thought, what a great idea. I’m a terrible worrier, and if I don’t hear from my kids for a few days or weeks, I get more worried. With one child in the Bay area and the other in Utah, I feel like they’re both too far away. I sent my kids a group text and explained how it would work. We would send an inspiring note to each other by noon each day. It only takes a moment, we’d check in and pass along some inspiration. Also, I’d know that they were okay.

“Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” —Swami Sivananda

That was my first text. I told them, “Now you guys need to respond by noon with a quote or a ok thanks,” I texted.

“Would that be ‘an’ okay, thanks. Not a,” my daughter texted back.

She then responded with a meme with the following words:

“What are a few things that have inspired you lately?

To be better than everyone. Cause I hate everyone.”

I take it she wasn’t enjoying my inspirational quote thing so much.

My son responded with “I don’t like inspirational quotes, so here is a good painting.”

A Vase of Roses–Van Gogh, 1890


The next day, I sent a quote and my daughter responded with “Eew that’s so and so’s bio on Twitter. New quote please.”

I sent “Winners never quit. Quitters never win.” It was a quote we had on the back of our swim club’s shirts a few years ago.

“Except Michael Phelps quit and he’s a winner,” she pointed out. Yes, she’s right about that, too.

My son sent a painting by Henri Matisse.img_2866

“I like it. It reminds me of spongebob,” my daughter said.

“Fun fact: the spongebob art was inspired by his cut-outs,” he answered.

My daughter texted this:img_9775

It’s been interesting to see what they come up with on a daily basis. It adds a little joy to my day like we’re sharing special secrets.

And then my son called, “Thank you, Mom, for starting the inspiration thing. I really love it.”


Me and my college roommate.