Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Monday, July 29, 2013

Thoughts from the Trail -3

Saturday, "recovery" run.  Training schedule says 3 miles, Uncle Ray (who has probably run more marathons than I have years behind me) says to kick it up to 5 or 6 miles.   I decide to drive to a different starting spot (rather than tackling the hill right outside my door or having to charge up the hill to get home at the end of the run) to see what the trails look like from that part of town.

Had to do Thursday night's 30 minute (easy 3 miles) run on Friday night.  So Saturday morning probably wasn't a good idea?   Shins are KILLING me!

First thought out of the gate:  "OMG, What the heck was I thinking ?!?!?!"

Second thought:   "Maybe I can run the 1/2 marathon without training."

Third thought:  "There's a breakfast place around here.  No one will know if I just go there instead of running.  I'd be home about the same time, right?"

The trail itself was the same as others - a paseo along the "river" or wash which meanders through town.  Past a park and over an old railroad bridge to a fork in the road.  For you Muppet Movie fans out there, no, it was not an actual fork in the road.  And if you're an Anglophile, perhaps the term "roundabout" is more appropriate?

I took the path to the left and ended up on the road less traveled.  Literally.  It turned to gravel right under the freeway overpass.  While I still have not figured out where the bikers went who had gone past me, I decided to turn around and head back to the more traveled parts of the trail.  It was a struggle, because of the heat and the sun and the worn out legs that decided they just did not want to do more.  In the end, I think I logged about 3.5 or maybe even 3.75 miles.  I stopped at Jamba Juice for breakfast for everyone on my way home.

Later that day, I ended up at the runner's store to buy new shoes.  No, my paltry 3.75 mile run did not wear them out, but they are breaking down.  I've been told by several runners (who apparently are "in the know") that I would need new shoes before the "big event" Labor Day weekend.  So I decided to get them now and break them in a little.  We'll see how that goes.

This Saturday is supposed to be 12 miles.  UGH!   I'll be back home celebrating my friend T's wedding, so I'm not sure how much much running I'll get in Saturday morning.  Does chasing a 2 year old flower girl down the aisle while wearing 4 inch heels count for mileage?   The mid-week runs may suffer as well this week, as life-as-usual in the Cohen house is giving way to some travel and tourism in the Midwest.  I'll probably post something about it here in a week or two.

In the meantime, happy trails!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In Defense of the High School Reunion

A few weeks ago I went to a high school reunion.  Not mine, but Rob's.  His 20th.  We went with his brother and his wife, and our friend Alyse and her boyfriend.  The 6 of us see each other on a regular basis, so you might wonder why we would shell out $60 or $80 for a hotel buffet dinner and $8 for each watered down drink or glass of wine, when we could BBQ at home much cheaper.  Curiosity, maybe?  A night out away from the kids, perhaps?  Off we went.

Rob and his brother will both tell you that they were not "popular" in high school, although they played baseball and knew many people in their class.  They will also both tell you that there weren't many sets of identical twins wandering around the halls of their high school, so they were easy to pick out.  (If I had a dollar for every time someone comes up to us in the San Fernando Valley and says "you're one of the Cohen boys, aren't you?"...)

At one time, Rob told me that he thought there had been about 500 in his graduating class.  Last night, figures of 800 or 900 were thrown around.  I'm not about to go count all of the pictures in his yearbook, so let's just say that it was a big class.  Despite the large number of graduates, only about 60 people showed up for the reunion.  Disappointing?  Surprising?  Hard to say.  Definitely interesting, when you consider that at least 1/3 of the attendees were spouses or guests and not actually graduates.  If you stick with a conservative estimate, that 45 were alumni and say there were 600 in the class, that's about 7 and a half percent.  Where was the rest of the class ?!?!  Funny thing, knowing Rob for as long as I have, I actually know where at least 3 other graduates are - one is in New Jersey, 1 is in Germany (obvious why they did not come) and 1 is in the Valley somewhere - we're just not sure why he did not come.  (We see him fairly regularly too.)

On the drive home, we started to talk about why the reunion was so poorly attended and why people don't want to go to high school reunions.  It seems that three reasons seem to come up when anyone talks about high school or their reunions.  The first (and probably easiest) answer - Facebook.  Some people think that connecting on social media eliminates the need to connect on a personal level.  They believe that they know all that they need to know about their classmates from being "friends" on Facebook and do not need more information.  The second, "high school sucked."  I heard it more than once, people had a miserable experience in high school and do not want to dredge up old memories by having to face the people who tortured them.  Tied to this is the sentiment of "I did not want to talk to you then, why would I want to talk to you now?"  Or perhaps, "you were a stuck up bitch and treated me like shit then, why would I give you the time of day now?"   The third one is fairly common as well - "If I really wanted to see you/ talk to you, I would have remained friends with you and we wouldn't need to come to the reunion to catch up."  More on that one later.

Perhaps it is a geography thing, or maybe it comes from being raised in a small town, as opposed to the "big city," but I'm not sure I buy any of those reasons to avoid your reunion.  Then again, maybe it is because I spent 12 or 13 years in school with many of my high school classmates, and we basically grew up together.  That would certainly be a different experience than those in a big city might have had, with only 2 or 3 friends moving from elementary to junior high and then to high school together. 

As for Facebook, I think I'm friends with about 75% of my high school class and some older and younger friends as well.  We comment on each other's pictures and extend birthday greetings, but if prompted, I probably would not be able to tell you what many of them do for a living. I do not feel as if I interact enough with them on Facebook to preclude the opportunity to see them in person. I also do not believe that we should allow ourselves to become so dependent on social media for interaction, that we eschew personal interaction. Did you see the Bruce Willis movie, Surrogates? Society had evolved and devolved to such a point that humans stayed hidden in their homes and had robots that went out into the world and did everything for them, and lived their lives. Is that were we are headed, if we rely on social media to connect us?

I also don't accept the "high school sucked" reasoning, if for no other reason than that we were all morons in high school.  We were idiots- still teenagers, with no clue how the world worked. We thought we knew everything and we strutted around like we owned the place, while inside, we were geeks and nerds, praying that no one saw the real us.  If you think about where you are right now, at 37 or 38 years old, you think back and realize that you knew absolutely nothing about life when you were 17 or 18.  Think about all of the living you have done since then and then realize that you can forgive yourself for acting like a bonehead back then.  Having kids throws this into even greater perspective, when your kids start acting like boneheads and you ask yourself "I was not that big of a moron, was I?"  Odds are, you were.   So to those who say that high school sucked, I say that everyone in your class would probably agree.  Unless you were the Homecoming Queen, in which case, everything was probably "platinum" for you.  Then again, you never know.  I had an interesting conversation with a guy in my class, at our 20th, in which he admitted that high school was rough for him.  He was incredibly shy and struggled with relationships with girls (even just as friends) and really did not have a good time.  My friend and I surprised him when we told him that we both had crushes on him at some point in high school.  All we saw was a cute guy who played sports and was "popular" and hung out with other "popular" kids.  So you never know how someone else might have viewed that particular life event.  Of course, by now, we have probably all seen Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion. (OK, anyone born in the 70s has seen it, as a way to relive our youth in the 80s.)  But you get the reference - high school was a hierarchy and every group had its tormentors and tormented.  Maybe.

The final reason, that if I wanted to be friends with you, I would have kept in touch, might work better for those who stayed close to home, rather than those who packed up and moved out, but even then I'd argue with the theory.  One of Rob's best friends, who he has known since they were both 3, disappeared from their lives for a few years after high school.  They randomly reconnected at a college graduation.  People grow and move and in some cases, lose touch where they don't mean to.  Although I have kept in touch with my "best friend" from high school and a "best friend" from college, I have lost touch (or at least not kept in close contact) with some that I considered very good friends.  Some of that might be because of geography and some just because of "life".  But that does not mean that I wanted to lose touch with those people or that I actively chose not to continue a friendship.  Perhaps a reunion is a way to renew that friendship and see if it can survive the trials and tribulations of being an "adult" (with kids, a mortgage and jobs.)

I went to my 20th last year.  Having see the misery etched on Rob's face, of being stuck in Ohio for a long weekend 10 years prior, I left him at home.  My best friend and I made a weekend of it, meeting up with other friends to play golf, check out some local wineries and attend the reunion.  Of a class of 150, about 27 graduates were at the dinner.  (I counted people in the picture.)  I think there were a few more who came and went before we took the group shot, and there were a few more who met us at the bar later, having missed the dinner. That is about 18%.  Better than Rob's class but still not good.

So what does it take to get people back together after all those years?  I don't know if there is an answer.   I do know that there were some who I missed seeing at my 10 year reunion and wished that they had been there for our 20th as well.  As luck would have it, those who were missed at the reunion are also those who are not on Facebook and so as a class, we seem to have completely lost a connection to them.  I would be curious to talk to them, to see why they have avoided reunions (so far), whether it was because they hated high school or didn't want to come back to Ohio.  For some, I remember them being popular or rolling with the "in" crowd, so it would be interesting to know why they did not come back.

At the end of Rob's reunion (which found the 6 of us down the street at a bar drinking Scotch and having dessert), the classmates in our group decided that they probably would not go to their 30th and would instead just all get together informally.  I shook my head and smiled.  I've got a year on them and I'm already looking forward to my next one (not that I want the years to move any quicker, just looking forward to reconnecting with some of those old friends.)  I can't wait.

Thoughts from the Trail - 2

More thoughts as I run around town.

Saturday I ran 11 miles.  Ugh.  Part of the problem I am having is finding places to run.  Valencia has quite a few miles of great paths and trails, but as I found on on Saturday - they don't all connect.

The brain is an interesting thing and I think nature finds ways to stick it to us and laugh.   My creative brain works best sometimes when I can allow it to wander.  As one might expect, the best time for my mind to wander is either right before I fall asleep or when I'm out running.  Neither is conducive to writing down my great, earth-shattering thoughts, which is why I think Nature is laughing.  Just before I go to sleep, I don't have the energy to get up, turn on a light and write things down.  I do have a pen and paper by my bed, but don't always take advantage of it, telling myself that I can remember these things in the morning.  Of course I can't, but that's another story.  When out on the trail, I am completely stuck.  No pen and paper in a pack or taped to the water bottle.  No handheld recorder to capture my thoughts before I forget them.  Just me and my thoughts, trapped in my brain and likely forgotten before I hit the turn and head home.  grrrrrr.

There truly is a point when your body says "please, stop!" and your mind takes over and tells your body to keep going.  I hit that point on Saturday.

There is also a point sometime after your mind has told your body to keep going, where your body says "no, really, please... stop!" and your mind tries to say "keep going."  Your body then says "f-u!" and stops.  period.   I hit that point on Saturday too.

The interesting thing about this past Saturday's run is that from a cardio standpoint, I felt fine.  I wasn't gasping for air and didn't feel too out of breath.  I managed to keep a pretty consistent (and what I thought was a good) pace for most of the run.  It was only after my body truly gave out (shins and knees) that I had to slow it to a walk for the last 1/2 mile back home.  So I am not so much worried about having the stamina to complete a 1/2 marathon - I'm worried that my legs will support me for the whole race.

We mock whatever marketing person decided to start a campaign in which our town, Valencia CA, was referred to as "Awesometown."  Friends who do not live here but have heard of the campaign or seen ads and other marketing, mock us for living here in "Awesometown."  But as I was running on the trails on Saturday, I caught a glimpse of why Valencia has that cheesy name.  In the early morning hours (7:30 a.m. is EARLY for me), I passed quite a few people running the trails.  Almost every single one of those people that I passed (and even some of the bikers) either said "good morning" or waved.  I'm not counting the older woman who was wearing oversized sweats and really big glasses, looking like she was hiding from someone and not at all pleasant, and I'm not counting the shirtless high school boys who went flying by, but other than that, almost every person greeted or acknowledged me in some way.  I thought that was very interesting.  I grew up in a small town where everyone pretty much knows everyone else (and everyone else's business) and I'm not sure I would have gotten the same greetings and acknowledgment if I were running there.  I may have to test that theory when I go back for my friend's wedding, if I decide to run (rather than skip my training runs that week.)

I went back out last night for another shorter run.  Aside from technical difficulties (stupid Nike app....grrrr.), it did not feel too bad.  My shin splints kicked in quicker than they had last week, so it's back to the stretching and icing and trying not to aggravate things.   I laugh sometimes because I wasn't that big of a fan of running long distances as a kid.  But I could do it without a lot of physical problems.  Now I sometimes find myself wishing for those "carefree" (or maybe "pain free") days of my youth.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Women we can look up to.

I have two daughters.  Right now, they are the sweetest, most loving little things, who melt my heart with a smile or when they tell me I'm pretty (like K did this morning.)  I dread the days that are absolutely coming, when puberty hits and I am no longer the queen in their eyes, but the enemy, the one who "just doesn't understand," the one who is crushing their dreams and spirit by the simple act of saying "no" to something they "really, really" want.  I dread those days.

At the same time, I question the state of the world that I am introducing them to.  Have we, as a society, come far enough to accept them as equals despite their female status?  Is the world ready to allow them access to all of the opportunities and avenues that I want open for them?

This subject came to mind this morning, after reading an article posted on Facebook about the 4 newest admittees to the NASA astronaut program.  NASA only selected 8 into the newest class.  Of those 8, 4 ARE WOMEN.  Yes, you read that correctly, 50% of the latest class selected are women.  They were selected out of 6300 candidates.  They were NOT selected based on their gender, but rather based on their abilities.  Several are accomplished pilots, several are certified scuba divers and all have advanced academic degrees.  In a society where we make up half the population, shouldn't we be taking half of the jobs or opportunities?  Such is typically not the case.

As my girls get older, I want them to get more from me than my love of reading or my ability to wrap a gift and square the corners and tie nice ribbon.  I want them to get more than height or blond hair (for B) or blue eyes (for both.)  I want them to understand that they can do whatever they set their mind to.

I got a few things from my mom and other women in my family - I can bake and cook and I was taught to sew as a kid.  I inherited a creative gene from several sides of the family.  I was also never limited in my dreaming of what I would become and I was never told that I could not do something because I was a girl.  I was introduced to my grandfather's wood shop at a young age and could throw around a bale of hay just as well as the boys.  My mom had a similar experience - she was taught to change a tire on the car, and check and change the oil before my grandfather would hand her the keys, something most kids (boys or girls) would be clueless to do today.  Perhaps it was because my dad really wanted boys, or maybe it was by design, but gender lines were not drawn in my childhood.

I want that for my girls.  I hope that the society they grow into accepts them for their brains and abilities, for their creativity and charm before they are cataloged based on their gender or their looks.  I want their accomplishments to speak for themselves before they are pigeonholed by their sex.  I hope.

This society will not be created overnight, and it will take more work.  Work that has begun already and is being carried out by these 4 women, recently chosen by NASA, and others in other professions like them, blazing the trail for the little girls who watch from the wings.  Once upon a time, women were told that they could not be lawyers or judges and now we can.   Many women in my profession still get penalized for wanting to be wives and mothers as well as attorneys, getting passed over for partnership track or losing choice assignments, but we soldier on. 

Our girls will grow into the society that we give them.  And while we are working on world peace and cleaner drinking water and maintaining green spaces to play in, let's work on gender equality - heck, let's work on taking gender out of the equation and focus on equality.  Let's give them a society that will encourage those dreams and help them believe that they can be anything they want to be, even if no woman has ever done it before.   Brooklyn for President, anyone?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thoughts from the Trail....

I went running on Saturday as part of my training for the 1/2 marathon I signed up for.  Yes, it is hot outside.  Yes, I am crazy for running in this heat.  I try to work around it by running at night after the kids go to sleep or first thing in the morning before it gets too hot.  This past Saturday, I was out at 7:30 a.m.

It was a big one on the training schedule, 9.5 miles.  I started out feeling pretty good and planned to run some paseo trails and some of the distance at the local high school (rubberized asphalt track.)  The concrete sidewalks are bad for my shins, so any break I can give them is a good one.

As I hit the paseo (asphalt - better than concrete), I was amazed at how many people were out.  I also noticed how easy it would probably be to dump a body out there and wondered if anyone had done so recently.  The paseo borders the "wash" which is actually part of the Santa Clara River.  It's usually dry, with trees and random grass growing in it.  Very rarely will there actually be water.  It is kept fenced off because there will be flash floods from time to time.  (A few years ago, during a particularly rainy season, some homeless people had a little village set up in one area of the wash and it got.... washed away.)  In any event, it is an interesting border to a decent place to run.

I kept up a steady pace of about 10 minutes per mile and passed some runners and walkers, while others passed me.  There seems to be some type of etiquette regarding acknowledging your fellow runners and walkers, but I think I am still on the outside of that club and have no idea what it is.  Some would wave, some would say hello (seriously, how can you talk when you are running?), and some would smile and nod.  Since I had my headphones on and the music cranked up, I stuck with the smile and slight nod.  (Could not break form to wave... duh.)

One gentleman had me cracking up.  I saw him a few hundred feet ahead of me around one turn and he was walking, not running.  An older gentleman, but he was keeping up a pretty good pace.  I followed and slowly gained on him, never really increasing my pace.  When I was about 20 feet behind him, another runner came up on our left and passed us both.  (She was running much quicker than I was.)  It seemed like he slightly increased his pace.  I found myself having to push a bit just to pull even with him, when it seemed like he sped up again.  Then I had to pour it on to go around him (and he was walking.)  I had to smile.  Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed like he did not want to be passed, and so tried to speed up so that I could not pass him.

Side rant - there were no water stops along the way!  I have to figure something out, as far as these longer runs go, for water.  I got to the high school expecting to find a water fountain near the track, but no such luck.  Which is probably why I hit a massive wall, right around mile 8 and had to slow down.  I was parched by the time I got home.  I could actually feel my body shutting down the closer I got home, as it got hotter and I had been out longer.

Another side rant - to the person who did not clean up after their dog, shame on you.  You could have at least had the decency to "curb" the dog, so that it would poop in the brush or dirt on the side of the sidewalk, rather than actually on the sidewalk.  That is just plain lazy.  And gross, but lazy.  I do not usually wish bad things to happen to people, but to the person who owns the dog that did that, I hope you step in a particularly large pile of fresh poop when you are dressed up nice to go somewhere, and I hope it tracks into your car and the smell never comes out of the carpet.

One final thought.  After running 9.5 miles, it was probably not a good idea to go up to Griffith Park, where we had to park a mile down the hill, and hike up it to the Observatory pushing the stroller, and then walk back down hill, restraining the stroller with K in it.  Also probably not a good idea to then go to the Hollywood Bowl that night, where we had seats in one of the upper levels, which required walking up the hill to the entrance and then up the hill to our seats, only to then have to walk back down the hill at the end of the show, carrying K, because she didn't want to walk with all of those people.  phew!  Needless to say, my knees were not working very well on Sunday.  Good thing I did not have a basketball game that day.

Oh - one more thing.  I'm starting to wonder about this whole "running" thing and maybe it's a cult.  I have always been a short distance runner.  100 m hurdles, 400 m dash.  I reluctantly ran the 800m a few times (very reluctantly), but was never much of a fan of distance running.  As I'm training for my first 1/2 marathon, I find myself wondering about signing up for another one.  Why is this?  What is this strange desire to run another race?  I call it strange, because I am not particularly fond of running in the heat, or of getting up in the morning to run when it is still cool.  So why on earth am I considering signing up for another race?  Maybe it is because I like the shoes.  It remains to be seen, I suppose.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday's Musings - Happy July

I have a draft of a blog about high school reunions.  It is 1/2 written down and partially still rolling around in my head a bit... I promise I'll get it out there after I've thought about it some more.  I know you are all on the edge of your seats now.

How was your weekend?  Man, was it hot out here!  I could not even bring myself to walk up to the pool to jump in.  I was happy to just sit in my air conditioned house all day.  Rob took B to the pool and said that the water was gross from so many people... good thing I stayed away.  To all of my friends being battered by rain and thunderstorms, I feel for you and hope that things dry out soon.  I do miss those days when a storm would roll through, sitting on my mom's porch on Jefferson Street, feeling the heat lift for just a minute or two.  I used to love to watch the lightening flash and watch the water run down the street.  I miss that porch and that porch swing. 

Interesting interaction with the manager at Barnes & Noble last night.  First, I qualify my statements by saying that I have worked in retail.  I know how customers can get and I have had to deal with belligerent and obnoxious clients before.  I also have dealt with intelligent people (both in retail and in other venues of life) and I try to acknowledge their intellect and not treat them like morons.  Apparently, the manager at B&N did not get that similar lesson.  Let me start by saying that we spent quite a bit of money on this little trip to the book store.  We carried two bags of books (and a Hello Kitty book light) out of the store.  Let me add to this story another qualifier.  We are not "rich" although we do enjoy the ability to go to the bookstore and buy books from time to time.  So as you read on, understand that while "yes, it was only $10," it was still $10, which might buy us several gallons of milk, or loaves of bread, or a few gallons of gas. (o.k., stop laughing, it would buy a drop or two of gas.)

In any event, when the total came up, I was a bit surprised that it had added up so quickly.  I checked with the clerk to make sure that all of the "deals" had been applied.  She confirmed that they had and we walked out.  After buckling the kids into the car, I pulled the receipt out, curious about how it had added up so quickly.  As I scanned the receipt (and as Rob drove out of the parking lot), I noticed that the clerk had not applied all of the "deals" correctly.  In fact, we had been charged full price for a book that we were supposed to get 1/2 off.  As I quickly did the math in my head, I realized that it was a $7 or $8 difference in my favor.  I made Rob turn around and we went back.  I entered the store with the 3 books in question and approached a clerk.  (The one who had initially rang us up was no longer standing there.)  I explained the problem to the clerk.  Of the 3 books in my hand, one had a 30% off sticker (40% for members, which we are).  The other two both had stickers which read "buy 1, get 1 half off.")  When we were originally rung up, the first "buy one get one" book rang up at regular price ($30) and the book with the 30% off sticker rang up as 1/2 off.  The other book (which was supposed to be 1/2 off) rang up at full price.   I explained this to her calmly and she read the receipt.  She then called the manager and tried to explain it to him.  His response (which she explained to me), was that it all "came out in the wash" - so to speak.  Those were not his words, but the gist of his response was that even if I could not read the receipt correctly, all discounts were applied and I got the deals.

WRONG.  Despite his assertions to the contrary, I can read a register receipt and I could very easily tell that I was charged incorrectly.  I calmly explained to the clerk why the manager was wrong and she said that she was just going to have him come up.  She called him back and said that the customer still had questions.  I jokingly said that "the customer is being difficult."  She responded to me (after she hung up the phone) that I was not being difficult, but I could tell that she thought I was.  When the manager came up to the front, he again tried to explain to me that all of the deals had been applied and I explained to him that he was wrong.  3 books, for which I should have received 1 at full price, 1 at 1/2 price and 1 for 40% off.  According to the receipt, I paid full price for 2 and received 1 at 1/2 price.  When I said that I wanted to then return the 3 books and then purchase them separately, he hesitated, saying that he did not want his clerk to go through the trouble, to then have it all equal the same.  Confident in my math skills (those old-timey skills where you learned to calculate 40% of something in your head and then add it to 50% of something and then subtract that total from another number,) I stood by and watched as the clerk struggled to wrap her head about things.  I was worried that there would be a hiccup as she struggled to even return the 3 books at the same time (the manager was standing there trying to "help" her and I worried that even he might not understand.)  Finally, the return was completed and $71 was put back on my card.  She then rang up the discounted book, for which I was charged $18.  Then, finally, she rang up the 2 books that were part of the "deal", for which I was charged $44.  Now, those of you out there with old-timey math skills have probably already figured out that 71- (18+44) = 9.  In my favor.  There was random amounts of change involved, but I won't confuse the issue with that.

Even as the clerk was finishing things up, I could tell (with my old-timey math skills), that I was coming out ahead.  I could also see the wheels turning in the manager's head as he tried to figure out if he was right and if it all added up to the same amount.  I'm sure that as soon as I walked out, he grabbed a calculator and did the math.  Yes, at the end of the day, it was only $9, and it took 15 minutes to get through the explanations and returns before I got credited my $9.  But I got my $9.  To the manager of the Barnes & Noble, I will say that you really should learn to listen to your customers, particularly those who try to calmly and rationally explain things.  I would also urge you not to rely too heavily on your computers, because they are, after all, just machines, and machines can sometimes get it wrong.

Moving on.   I posted a status on Facebook a little early, about a sad thing that I saw at lunch today.  I had to wait to turn into a parking spot, because a guy had his car door open.  2 kids were crawling out of the back seat.  I noticed as they walked up to the sidewalk that they both had headphones on.  I parked and ended up following them into Subway.  The daughter sat down with a bag of McDonalds, plugged into her mini iPad, headphones on.  The son, also plugged in, sat down and waited for dad, who was in line in front of me.  We won't discuss the son's name ("Heston") and whether or not that is an unfortunate name, but I did notice that the kids could barely disconnect long enough for dad to get their food orders from them.  I did not stick around to see whether or not the kids disconnected once dad sat down with the food, but I have to hope that the electronics were put away.  Really, can we not even disconnect the kids long enough to eat?  I will admit that when we are out for lunch or dinner with the girls, it is sometimes easy to hand them the iPod or phone so that they can play a few games.  It keeps them quiet and allows Rob and I to talk.  But when the food comes, the toys get put away and we focus on eating.  I will also say that before the phones and iPods come out, we try to engage the girls and get them to tell us about their day or talk about other things.  We try.  Unfortunately, I think there are too many who do not even make that effort.  I have to hope that the dad I saw at Subway had them put their headphones down when the food came out.  I have to hope.

And lastly... it struck me the other day, as I was buying something just for myself, that it is not necessarily a bad thing, despite some residual guilt that I sometimes feel.  I did not have a lot of the "finer" things in life growing up.  I did not have the Barbie Dreamhouse or Corvette, despite making requests to Santa for several years for those things.  Clothes were sometimes hand-me-downs and shoes were worn through before being tossed.  When I started college and got jobs to help pay rent, I would sometimes buy a CD (or cassette tape) and sometimes splurged on t-shirts that I did not really "need."  For the most part, I lived from paycheck to paycheck.  Over the past 8 years, I have spent most of my disposable "income" on B and more recently, on K.  Even when I buy something for myself, I sometimes wonder if the money is not better spent on the girls.  In the midst of one of those moments, I decided that it was OK for me to spend my money on me.  I forgave myself for being selfish and choosing to buy that dress (or shirt or scrapbook paper or whatever) instead of buying something for the girls, or for saving my money.  I decided that I want my girls to understand that it is good to take care of themselves and that they can still enjoy things while sharing with their family and not deprive themselves in the process.  At the same time, I want them to understand that it is my money (or daddy's money) and that because we work to earn it, we do not have to justify how we spend it to our children and we can spend it as we see fit.  Of course, if we decided to blow it all on a trip to Paris and leave them without food or toilet paper, I could see where they might take issue with our spending.  In the meantime, I think we are doing o.k.

And finally - where did the summer go?  K had her first day of summer camp today and all I could think about was how summer has gotten away from us.  When I was in school, we would finish up in early June, three long months spread out before us with nothing to do but while away the days.  B has just finished up 2 weeks of summer camp and suddenly, there are only 6 weeks left.  It is July and we can suddenly see the end of summer looming, just a month and a half away.  On one hand, I have things I am looking forward to in the Fall, but on the other hand, the calendar is flying by so quickly that I want it to slow down so that it will last just a bit longer.  (Then again, after a weekend of hanging out with the girls in the heat, maybe a new school year is not such a bad thing.)  ;)

I hope that you all have a safe and Happy Fourth of July and holiday weekend.