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We've all heard the statement that "perception is reality," and it proves truer and truer, especially the older I get. As a newlywed, I would look at people in their late thirties with three kids and a mortgage and think that the best years of their lives were behind them. Well, a few decades later, here I am, the 39-year-old with three kids and a monthly obligation to the bank. Now I look at newlyweds and think, "The best is yet to come!"

My perception of "fun" and "romance" has also definitely changed. This February 14th will mark the twentieth Valentine's Day my husband and I have celebrated together. In our early years, we would try to outdo each other with trips, sentiments, and gifts. Now, we have learned that spending quality time together is the ultimate commodity: A romantic dinner at home, sans kids, can be as extraordinary as a five-star restaurant; and, a getaway to Ojai can be as fabulous as a trip to Rio de Janeiro. It's all about perception!

Honestly, I am grateful my insight has changed throughout the course of my adulthood. Muhammed Ali said it best: "The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life."

My perception has not only changed about life and milestones but also about technology. Being a little technologically challenged, I couldn't understand why anyone would need an iPhone… until I bought one! Now, I am the first one to sing its praises, and you'll find it within my reach most of the time.

Tracie Grimes writes about how her parents recently purchased, and tried to use, their first iPhone in her Humor At Home article, "The Beverly Hillbillies Get an iPhone," on page 8. She says all the "do-hicky buttons" got them scratchin' their heads. But, after a helpful trip to the AT&T store, they were on the road to installing apps and figuring out how to navigate the complexities of their new gadget.

In this issue, Tracie also reviews several books in her "Real-World Connections Can Stir Kids' Interest in Reading" on page 16. She writes about how real-world connections help enhance the reader's comprehension skills, because he or she can identify with the character. Her suggestions include books such as "Oooh! Picasso" by Mil Neipold and Jeanyves Verdu, "Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change" by Michelle Cook, and just for moms, she recommends "Body of Lies," by Brad Meltzer.

Check out our Mothers, Shakers, and Community Makers article on page 10, where you can find out about the benefits of enrolling your children into a co-op preschool program where parents participate in teaching and classroom activities. There are many cooperative opportunities in Bakersfield where you can find high quality education at reasonable rates. For a complete listing of all local education and enrichment opportunities, check out the Private Education and Enrichment Directory that starts on page 12.

In "Dad's Valentine's Day Lament" on page 18, Rick Epstein focuses on his fifth-grade daughter's "love" life. Is it normal for girls in her age group to be boy crazy? He writes about his elementary school crush, Pam, and the embarrassing moments that go hand-in-hand with such young, naïve relationships.

The insights we gain from these awkward first crushes until we've spent 20 Valentine's Days with the same person are immeasurable. If you think about it, you will realize, "The best is yet to come!"

Happy Valentine's Day!

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