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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Easy living

Uploaded: Nov 16, 2014
As I settled in a sunny spot this morning to read the paper and watch my youngest child at a swim meet, I received a text with a photo of snow flurries from my daughter, who resides in a place with real weather. Although I have lived over half my life in California, when I spend a day at the beach in November with blue skies, weather in the 70s, and a gentle breeze, I still have a sense that we just aren't supposed to have it this good.

Living in a place with an ideal climate and gorgeous scenery is way too easy, and the Midwesterner in me has a nagging sense that I have become soft. Coping with a harsh climate builds character, and living in a place so pleasant makes me uneasy!

Winter is coming and yet there is no need to install the storm windows, locate the car's ice scraper, liberate the bulky wool and down clothing from storage, or ascertain that everyone has snow boots and the other eleven other items of clothing required to prevent frostbite when leaving the house. Being a kid in the snow is a blast, but parenting in such a climate must be an ordeal. And yet, I feel guilty that my kids can only "visit" snow, and do not know the joy of creating the impromptu snow angel on the way home from the school bus stop, or shoveling the pond for ice skating, or building an igloo in the front yard.

My parents relocated from the Midwest to Southern California when they were in their 50s. My dad embraced the lifestyle with long walks on the beach training their newly acquired stray dog to catch a Frisbee with spectacular leaps, but initially my mother struggled. I think it was the embarrassment of owning a hot tub, the epitomy of decadence in her mind.

While challenging weather probably does make us more vigilant, resourceful, and capable, there is also a lot of energy expended just surviving. Perhaps this is the real source of my guilt. I am painfully aware of all the extra time I have because I am not in a daily struggle with the elements. I really should have accomplished something extraordinary to show for it!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Karen, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 16, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Well, you raised five kids who are great swimmers-that might not have happened in the snowy Midwest!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Karen,
So true! Swimming in winter in the midwest means stuffy indoor pools with chlorine air and the fear that long wet hair will instantly freeze and break off on the way to the car!

Posted by PR, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 16, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Wonderful blog, Sally! Thank you!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 6:23 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, PR!

Posted by Ex New Englander, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 7:31 am

As a parent, there is a lot of truth in what you write.

But one more item, another aspect the war on boys being boys, the fact that here they can't go out and celebrate the opportunity of earning some money shoveling snow against the girls who can earn some money babysitting. Nobody wants them to mow lawns or even rake leaves here. So boys are missing out on the lucrative side of winter.

Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:09 am

Ex New Englander-
Boys/men can earn money babysitting/nannying. When I was a kid, I had a babysitter and an aupair who were both men. They brought a different, unique dymanic to the babysitting time-especially for my younger brother.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Ex New Englander,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Raking and shoveling were great ways to earn spending money, but I have not so fond memories of numerous blisters from many fall weekends spent raking our yard. We had an abundance of large red and white oak trees.

Dear RW,
Thank you for reading and commenting. My sons also got a number of requests to babysit, particularly from parents of boys.

Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:03 am

Fun post, Sally! Have you ever wondered how our Midwestern parents/grandparents survived without down and fleece? This winter for the first time I am using a duck hunter's muff. The muff fits over my mittens which fit over my handwarmers. To help keep track of some of the pieces, I wear mitten clips. Pink ones. Pink serves as a gender cue in a land where everybody who is truly happy outdoors looks like the Michelin man. Not that being a Michelin man is necessarily a bad thing. "Hey, big guy, could you help me push my car out?" We have way too much fun in winter!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
Thanks for reading and commenting. I don't know how we survived the early years without fleece! I remember it first being widely available in the early 80s, and the first versions were stiff and scratchy.
Had no idea mitten clips still existed! Would have thought they had been replaced with something high tech like velcro. At least they come in fashionable colors now!

Posted by GC, a resident of Community Center,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Hey Sally,

Yes, I can remember as an ex-New Yorker standing at the bus stop with frozen toes inside the boots that just weren't enough and the great yellow school bus that if you sat in the very, very back and hit the right bumps you could almost hit the sealing! Something to make you feel better... your kids are in biking distance of school so instead of sitting in a bus they are burning off calories and getting the blood flowing to the brain before first class ;)

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi GC,
Thanks for reading and commenting.
And I remember the bus was always uncomfortably overheated!

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