5 Vacation Memory Lessons From A Tween Traveler

Vacation Memory Lessons

I remember one vacation from my childhood, a trip to California with my grandparents. That family vacation was everything to me, not just when I was 7, but for many years to come. Even today it takes me back to 1977. vacation memories

So when I became a mom I wanted BabyGirl to have more than just one vacation to shape her childhood memories. About a year ago, as I talked to her about memories from our recent vacations I learned a big lesson. My desire to make memories for her, no matter how big or amazing or magical or fantastical were just that. My vacation memories. She needed to make her own vacation memories and instead of trying so hard I needed to let go.

5 vacation memory lessons from a tween

  • Kids will remember things differently than parents but it’s supposed to be that way.
  • A child’s idea of fun may not be the same as mom and dad.
  • Memories are personal and can come from experiences both big and small.
  • Parents’ joy and excitement, as well as my other emotions and feelings, shape the memories others make.
  • Kids aren’t thinking about making memories, they’re just trying to have fun in that moment.

Tween Vacation Collage

Out of the mouth of babes, yes? These kids are so much smarter than we give them credit. Shared experiences can turn in to memories. But as a parent my job is to provide opportunities to create memories, not to force my ideas of what should become her lifelong childhood memory.

Tween Statue of Liberty Selfie

Here’s to superhero families and childhood memories to last a lifetime!


When Our Life Story Changes


Mother’s Day is upon us and I just celebrated my 45th birthday. These type of milestone birthdays tend to bring about reflection. Add in Mother’s Day and thinking about being a mom and not having had a mom for over half my life, there’s a lot of opportunity to heave heavy sighs.

Like many little girls, I created a story of my life. They were dreams and thoughts and big wishes and hopes. Some were a stretch, like meeting famous people. Others were truly the dreams of fantasies only little kids have. But, most seemed realistic and attainable. It was my perfect life story. A life story that could be made in to a Sunday evening TV show with pixie dust and a prince.

Sure, there would be a lot of hard work and challenges, but my story read more like truth rather than fiction. But the funny thing about these dreams and the life we create as kids, they never include tragedy or sad experiences. We just don’t dream that way.

We can take lemons and make lemonade. But, no amount of lemonade will ever take away that pucker if it’s never sweet enough. And the funny thing about lemonade is that it really doesn’t need a lot of sugar to be sweet enough to bring a smile to your face.

That story, though. The one I created as a kid. The one many of us created. I thought of it as a roadmap. Many women will talk about knowing they wanted a certain number of kids, having a handsome husband with dark hair, living in the country, or the city. We drew pictures of what we wanted our house to look like. And we dreamed of celebrating holidays and birthday and going to the school play, just like our mom.

Reality, though, knows nothing about our hopes and our dreams. And reality has no problem with changing our path. My story included my mom becoming a grandma, but when she died when I was 21 my story needed to change. When my daughter was involved in a serious situation that rocked my family, my idea of being the best mom ever shattered.

Regardless of how we wrote out our story as little girls, there were going to be events that would alter our path. Interestingly, it’s that time of innocence that we must recall when our story is changed without our permission. Like playing a game without rules, kids always seem to figure out how to make it work out well. As adults, though, we need rules. And we need reasons for changing these rules.

It’s not as easy as yelling “plot twist” when you get cancer, find out your child may never speak, or learn your spouse was killed by a drunk driver. It’s not that easy.

We had a story. Hopes and dreams. It’s not as easy as taking refuge with 7 little miners or convincing a beast that he’s lovable. It’s reality, not a fairy tale. And we have to go on. But what about our story?

As I turned 45 and realized that my story is much different from what I planned, I started to pick apart the story to see what happened. Where I had gone wrong? What did I do to change the perfect life I dreamed of as a child?

I had to rethink these events. This journey. It wasn’t me that had gone wrong. I didn’t purposefully change anything. It was just a different story and I had the opportunity to decide what kind it was going to be.

Kids shouldn’t be creating life stories where mommies die or brothers go missing or planes crash on the way to see grandma. What a horribly sad existence we would have if we thought about these things as kids. And so I started to understand that it’s not treating challenges as plot twists or needing to live this perfect storybook life.

It’s that childlike ideal of a life that is full of love and fun and joy and happiness that is what the story is really about. This story created in childhood isn’t a roadmap leading us to these things. It’s a story about living and learning. There is no possibility of joy or happiness if there is no journey. And it’s the journey that shapes us and teaches us.

What have you learned on your journey that is your real life story?


10 Things That Didn’t Exist When I Was 10

10 Things

Even though so much of the technology I use daily was purchased in the last several years, it’s not until I start to wax nostalgic about things I now take for granted that I realize all the things my now 10 year old BabyGirl has that I didn’t when I was her age. Being around my grandma, I’m often reminded how she grew up without “basic” things like a phone, an electric refrigerator, or a car. But, I don’t always think about all the things that are “new” to me.

So I started writing down all the things that exist now that weren’t even thought of when I was a kid. There were definitely more than 10 things! As I was writing things down, my daughter was asking me how I used to do things if I didn’t have “this stuff”. I felt like I grew up in the stone age! BabyGirl knows that Bubbe didn’t have things “because she’s old”. But when it comes to thinking about me as a kid, it’s hard for her to realize that just 40 years ago many of the things she uses daily didn’t exist. It’s baffling to her, and quite frankly to me too, that I couldn’t watch my favorite show every night before bed but she can. When you think about it, 30 years doesn’t seem like that long ago.

10 Things That Didn’t Exist When I Was 10

1. Voice mail – we take for granted that you can pick up the phone and hear a message from someone who was trying to reach you. When I was 10 there were answering machine but they were expensive and clunky and few people had them. If you called your friend and no one was home you’d wait awhile and call them again. In my house we had a “no answer” rule during dinner. My mom said that if it was important they’d keep calling back. So some evenings we’d sit through dinner listening to the phone ring because if you didn’t answer it and the person on the other end didn’t hang up after 3 or 4 rings then it would just keep ringing.

2. Mandatory seat belts – our car had seat belts, but we weren’t required to use them until I was a teen. As a kid, I’d sit in the back seat and slide from side to side on the slippery vinyl seats. If no one else was sitting in the front then I could sit up front. Without a seat belt! I liked going to play bingo on Sunday with my grandma because then I could sit in the front seat of her giant blue Chevy. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt and I, for sure, didn’t have one.

3. Cable TV – we had 3 channels, 4 if we got the UHF channel to come in clear. I remember that my grandparents had a TV Guide from the newspaper, but no one needed a guide to know The Wonderful World of Disney came on every Sunday at 7pm and HeeHaw was on at 7pm on Saturday. There was the Lawrence Welk Show, too. And Carol Burnett and Little House on the Prairie. They all came on at the same time every week. Just a few shows. And we all watched these same few shows.

4. Cartoons 24/7 – can’t sleep? Today you can turn on the TV and find cartoons on any time of the day or night. When I was a kid, cartoons were on Saturday morning. And it was a BIG deal! We’d get up early to watch Tom and Jerry, the Roadrunner, Elmer Fudd, and Buggs Bunny. If you missed it then you’d have to wait an entire week before they’d be on again. Kids across the country were glued to the TV for hours on Saturday morning, and parents didn’t care. They knew where we were and that we were probably eating a giant bowl of Count Chocula, Cookie Crisp or Boo Berry cereal.

5. Computers – my daughter had her own computer when she was 2. Sure, it was a hand-me-down but it was all hers. She knew how to turn it on and how to click on the learning games I set up for her. I remember using a Lisa in 1983 and eagerly awaiting the Macintosh when school started in 1984. But I did not get my own personal computer until after I graduated from college. I learned how to type in 7th grade on a manual typewriter with no letters on the keyboard. My daughter learned how to type using a computer program when she was 4.  She will never know the frustration of spending hours typing a paper (with carbon paper!) only to realize she didn’t leave room for the footnotes or completely skipped a sentence and has to retype pages and pages.

6. Digital camera – OK, yes, cameras existed when I was a kid. But I didn’t get my own until the mid 1980s when I got a Kodak Disc Camera. It was so new and different, I was one of the “cool kids”. Not only could I not see the crappy photos I was taking, but the film wasn’t cheap and then I had to pay to get these crappy photos developed. But I’d get the photos back from the drive up photo mat and painstakingly write on the back of each of them – in acid-based ink! – and put them in a photo album with a sticky plastic cover. Today, my daughter grabs my camera and takes amazing photos. Still, all those “old photos” remind me of the important moments in my life. I was much more selective of what I would take of picture of back then. Today, it’s so easy to take a photo of just about anything because there is no real consequence if you realize you didn’t want it. Everything seems worthy of photographing, but at the same time everything seems inconsequential.

7. Internet – When I graduated from college, the world wide web was just born. Research for middle and high school meant going to the library, or grabbing one of the encyclopedia from the gold-bound set in the living room. Looking up where something was located in town meant going to the phone book. If I wondered about something, there was often no easy way to find out more information. There was no instant access to anything. If I wanted to know how far Boise was from Tulsa, I’d have to get out the road atlas and figure it out. Today, I can get that answer in less than 2 minutes. My daughter was using the internet for her learning from a very early age and being exposed to a world bigger than she could imagine. At 10, if it wasn’t in my school library or the fancy-looking encyclopedia I was pretty much out of luck. Today, “I don’t know” has been replaced by “Let me look that up on the internet”.

8. Personal mobile phone – my smart phone, with a high quality camera, the ability to play games, a full jukebox of music and the ability to call anyone in the world from anywhere in the world is smaller than my first real camera. I was in high school when I had saved enough money to get a phone in my room. In my room! Today, I have a phone wherever I go. My daughter sat in a cafe in Italy having a video chat with her dad in Arizona using my smart phone. When I was her age, the phone was attached to the wall in the kitchen and talking to someone in another country was a luxury only for adults. Leaving the house meant being out of contact. If you needed to call someone while you were out you had 3 options – (1) use a pay telephone, (2) stop at a business you frequented and hope they’d let you use their phone or, (3) wait until you got home or to where you were going. How we were able to survive is unfathomable to younger generations.

9. On demand music – I remember having a clock radio in my bedroom when I was in high school. I also remember trying to record music off the radio because I couldn’t afford to go out and buy the newest record or tape, only to end up having the first few seconds of a song being talked over by the DJ. Buying a record or a tape was expensive. I had my own record player (it was a pink Fisher Price!) that played 45s, but I had to share the cassette player. But that was to listen to music at home. There was no listening to music on the walk to school. In the car all we had was AM radio. I was in 8th grade when we got a car that had FM radio! Listening to music meant listening to whatever was on the radio, and even then there were only a few stations. And it meant waking up early Sunday to listen to Rick Dees or Casey Kasem playing the top pop music of that week. Now, almost all the music I listen to is music that I control. My daughter doesn’t understand that there was a time when parents didn’t listen to the same kid-friendly song 82,972 times in a row.

10. In-home gaming devices – We have a Wii and BabyGirl loves playing it. I was in 7th grade and a friend of mine got an Atari and we’d hang out on the weekend playing Pong. I showed BabyGirl what Pong was and I think she was unsure what to say without sounding rude. Pong was awesome! Compared to the interactive gaming devices on the market now, it’s laughable. But it was hours of fun. Most of the time though, we played outside and rode bikes all over the neighborhood or went swimming at the neighbor’s house or played tag or ball or any made up game. We were outside for hours running and playing and just having fun. I remember playing soccer between the houses and using the street lights as bases for baseball. And I vividly remember skidding tires, falling over on my bike and breaking my arm but still playing until it got dark. The definition of playing and fun was different. And BabyGirl will never know how fantastically amazing that kind of fun was.

It look at all the things I take for granted now and how different my daughter’s childhood is than mine. For generations, parents have done this. Looking back and comparing the differences is both exciting and bittersweet. My daughter can watch TV on a mobile device anywhere in the world. I was so excited when we got a console color TV. My mother had black and white TV, and my grandmother didn’t have a television in her home until she was in her 30s. Times change. Technology changes. These changes impact our lives in ways we can’t imagine when they first come out. Looking back to when I got my first Sony Walkman I could never imagine I’d have the ability to listen to music in a more personal and “on demand” way.

Technology changes our lives, usually for the better. But there are some things I think my daughter misses out on because technology is so ubiquitous and integral to our lives. What things do you use now that weren’t around when you were a kid?


Through A Child’s Eyes

I’m in the Bay Area, which you knew if you read my post yesterday about Jessica’s 9 question New Year meme. CycleGuy is back to work and it’s me and BabyGirl during the day. Trying to get into a bit of a routine because we still have schoolwork and violin practice to accomplish daily. But there is so much to see and discover.

As a mom, sometimes I navigate my day with a focus that is so sharp that I don’t see anything else going on. It’s like a stare where you’re transfixed on one thing that you wouldn’t even notice if unicorns were flying or if a leprechaun was dancing at your feet. It’s kind of like the opposite of mom-vision. That super power that moms have where we can see through walls at eyes rolling when we ask for the umpteenth time to do something or to see through a closed door a toddler playing instead of sleeping. You know that ‘mom vision’ I speak of, yes?

So here I am in this fascinating city, and the surrounding area, and I’m trying to check off math pages, language arts sentence construction and sticker charts for violin. All the while BabyGirl is reading the Sunday newspaper Food section and asking about restaurants and events she finds interesting. And what do I tell her? I’ll look at it later, maybe we’ll have time,  or I’m not sure.

What’s wrong with me?

On January 1st we all took the BART into the city to go to the Boudin shop so BabyGirl could go on the little tour they have. We ate at the upstairs Bistro so we could sit and look out at the bay, talking about Alcatraz. She was very disappointed to find out that when she goes to Alcatraz there will be no prisoners. She figured if it was a prison it should have prisoners. Makes sense, right. We explained that it’s now a National Park and they allow people to visit to see a historical site. She’s still interested in going, but she’d really like if it were a real prison.

We spent most of the afternoon walking along the Embarcadero reading signs, looking in buildings, talking about the different seafaring vessels we saw. BabyGirl was fascinated by all of this new stuff. Things we sure do not see in land-locked Phoenix. Still, I’ve seen these things before and that sharp focus with an eye on getting to the destination is keeping me from really seeing the beauty and uniqueness around me.

I point out Coit Tower and the TransAmerica building, wholly wanting BabyGirl to ooh and ahhh over my knowledge about these two landmarks. What she really wants is for me to know more about crane tugs and why there are two right next to this particular pier. What she wants me to tell her about is why all the trolly cars are different colors and have different names. What she really wants is for us to get back on the BART and ride it to Oakland so she can go under the water and see what it’s like.

Boring, nothing special is what my mind is telling me to say. But I don’t. One day soon we’ll get on the BART and ride it to Oakland and she’ll see for herself that it’s not an amusement park ride experience. Instead it’s a train car in a concrete tube and you can’t see anything. I can’t spoil that experience for her though. She needs to see it through her own eyes. I need to see it through her eyes.

And I need to blink my eyes until they adjust and begin to see this amazing city not as a place where we live for now but as the gem that BabyGirl sees. All sparkly and new and pretty and fancy and so beautiful. Really, we should all stop and for a few hours each day look at the world with a child’s eyes, not with the filter of the adult we are (or are supposed to be). Truly with the eyes of a child to see that hiding in the racks of clothing is fun and not an annoyance, touching all the different surfaces isn’t a disgusting germy thing rather it’s a way to experience the physical nature of our world.

The world through the eyes of a child is a very different world that the one I see through my laser-corrected eyes. And sometimes I know I need to be reminded that there is beauty, interest and fun in the mundane and everyday. Thanks for reminding me, BabyGirl.

Do you often go through your day and at the end can’t describe any of it? I do. But kids don’t. They see things we don’t. Wouldn’t you like to see that world too? At least sometimes?