Family: My family was very close when I was a child, and we are still very close. I am one of the lucky few who had a "stay at home" mom, a brother I could have fun with, a dad who worked his butt off to make sure we had everything we needed and then some, and two parents that are still married and understand that commitment is not easy. My parents made sure my brother and I got a chance to explore and try everything we were interested in. From soccer, softball, ice-skating, and track to voice lessons, dance lessons, piano, and flute - I really can not remember being denied any opportunity to expand my horizons. We didn't have much money when I was a kid, but my parents made sure we were given every opportunity to learn both in school and out.
Some of my best memories are: camping trips with my family, my brother and I exploring the Sequoias, staring in awe of Zion and Bryce Canyon, mesmerized by "Old Faithful", collecting rocks in the Petrified Forests of Arizona, eating rainbow trout we had caught in streams, catching fireflies in Maryland, riding the train to Oregon, trying to run up and down the dunes of Pismo Beach without falling, building lopsided snowmen in Big Bear, feeding the deer that came to the cabin's back porch, hiding our food from bears in the Redwoods (and a bear pooping in the Ford Granada - I will never forget the ride home in the torn up backseat, or that smell!), pretending we were in an old western in Scottsdale, thinking we would turn into fish after spending the entire summer in Scottsdale in the pool, loving my library card and never getting enough books (I still remember the cool air of the Scottsdale library and thinking that I'd never make it through the summer without those books), thinking Sunset Beach was our personal playground during the day and putting together puzzles while looking out of the glass windows of the rental at night, the sweet taste of pear sherbet in Jerome, picking strawberries in Anaheim (I don't know how often we actually did this, but in my memory we did it every year until Disney and hotel chains bought up all of the strawberry fields), covering the giant dome-shaped jungle gym my dad bought from a park that was being torn down with sheets to put on our own theatrical productions (for which we would make invitations for the entire neighborhood), selling golf-balls, lemonade, and soda to the golfers from our backyard, Girl Scouting, church camp, being a CIT and a camp counselor, running in the Colosseum in 1984 for the Arco Jesse Owens Games, waking up at 4:30am to fold papers for my paper route, listening to stories our cousins told us about the monster in Lake Champlain, discovering Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Stephen King all at the same time (which then made my Trixie Belden and Dragon Lance books begin to collect dust) and thinking my mom was "cool" for getting me a subscription to the Isaac Asimov magazine, going treasure hunting in the front of peoples yards and garages early on Saturday mornings, and my first plane trip alone to the South of France to spend the summer with Sophie.
On my parents' 25th wedding anniversary I helped to throw them a party. At the party we asked each guest to say how they first met my mother and/or father and something they remembered about them. We let all of the guests go first and my brother and I went last. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember the tone was loving and happy, and I remember being "heckled" by some of the audience and being asked what I was getting for "kissing up" to my parents. This upset me because everything I said came from the heart. My parents are amazing - why is it so strange for a child to think that? My parents did everything for us, we were the epitome of FAMILY. I truly believe that every choice they ever made from the moment I was born until the moment I moved out of their house (and maybe even much later than that) was for me and my brother. Later that evening, my mom saw that I was upset and she put things in to perspective for me - of just about all of the people there my parents were the only ones still married and who's kids didn't have "issues". At the time I was working with my dad as his 50/50 business partner - how many daughters get to do that?