Will Caeleb Dressel be a household name?

My son and swim team friend winning the high school Physics cardboard boat race in the city pool. She competed in Beijing and London Olympics in distance freestyle races.

I wrote a an article called Why Isn’t Caeleb Dressel a Household Name? for SwimSwam in 2018. Dressel had competed in NCAA championships and had broken barriers like the 40-second mark in the 100-yard freestyle. But at the time, only swim nerds knew his name.

After this past week, I’m sure he will be better known, but after the Olympic’s fades away will his name fade, too?

Swimming like gymnastics are collegiate sports and there’s not much attention to them until Olympic years. It all comes down to money in my opinion. Football and basketball are money makers for schools. Swimming loses revenue. No fans are buying tickets, the meets are free and sparsely attended. The pool costs money to maintain.

During my years as a swim parent, I wondered how to get swimming to be more popular. In 2019 the International Swimming League began holding competitions. Have you heard about it? There are teams in the US and abroad filled with the world’s swimming stars. The teams compete against each other and it gives swimmers a chance to earn money, race and hopefully get more fans to appreciate swimming. But it isn’t televised, at least I haven’t seen it. I think it’s livestreamed.

Here’s the article I wrote that mentions Caeleb Dressel and wonders how to get more people into swimming:

Why isn’t caeleb dressel a household name?

BY SWIMSWAM 

March 27th, 2018 Lifestyle

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

We witnessed amazing things this past weekend watching the 2018 Men’s D1 NCAA meet. Who can believe that a human being broke 40 seconds in the 100 free, or 18 seconds in the 50 free—not to mention 43 seconds in the 100 fly? Caeleb Dressel should be a household name this week after breaking through these barriers at his final meet as a senior swimming for the University of Florida.

We watched from home on the computer, something that wasn’t possible years ago. The livestream was clear, the narration entertaining and professional. I remember trying to watch one of our friend’s kids at Trials in 2008 and the production quality wasn’t great and the livestream paused repeatedly. Swim coverage has improved significantly through the years, but I wonder if the audience has increased?

Of course, Olympic sports don’t get the attention at the collegiate level as the big money sports, like football and basketball. In addition, we hear heartbreaking news of universities canceling swim programs regardless of high GPAs or how many times the teams win conference meets, like the recent news of Eastern Michigan University. We have to wait every four years for the Olympics to come around to show the nation how great our swimmers are. Is there anything we can do as swim enthusiasts to change this? In all reality, probably not much. I personally don’t have the power to change TV schedules or viewing habits, but I can work on several little things.

Here are a few ideas about how we can help the popularity of swimming:

ONE

Scorekeeping. We’ve had friends come to meets and they don’t know what’s going on because there’s never a score posted. In other sports, you know which team is winning. Is it possible to post scores often and prominently at meets where they are keeping team scores?

TWO

Bring a friend to the pool. Whether your team has a “bring a friend day” or you ask one of your child’s friends to visit practice, we can reach out to more kids and introduce them to swimming.

THREE

Keep swimming fun. One reason why kids quit swimming is it’s “not fun anymore.” By allowing our kids time to goof off with their friends around the pool deck, either before or after practice, and keeping our attitudes light, we may keep our kids in the pool for more years.

FOUR

Invite friends and family to a meet. We can share our excitement and enthusiasm with our friends and family. Maybe not ask them to sit on the deck with us for two or three days, but have them stop by for an hour or two. Explain what’s going on so they can follow along and maybe they’ll catch the swimming bug.

FIVE

Be an ambassador. Talk about swimming with your non-swimming friends and share how much the sport has helped your kids. Encourage friends at any age to get into the pool and enjoy the great feeling of floating in the water. It’s never too late to join a Masters team.

My daughter has her foot still on the blocks as they dive in for the 200 free. The swimmer in the lead is Olympic medalist Abbey Weitzeil. This was the summer of 2013, while they were still in high school.

Are you watching the Olympics? What are your favorite sports to watch? Do you keep track of those sports on off Olympic years? Also, what do you think of this year’s Olympics with all the ups, downs, and drama?

Back to Mom duties

Flowers in Berkeley. My daughter took this photo.

I’m on day two of being a mom full time and it’s exhausting. Yesterday was surgery day. We (my son, his girlfriend and me) drove across the Bay Bridge to a UCSF orthopedic surgery center before 8 a.m. We got our son tucked into bed by 3 p.m. In between, my son’s girlfriend and I had a wonderful breakfast and walked around the hills of Mission Bay. Then we drove to Hayes Valley and walked around some more looking at cute shops, the Opera House, San Francisco Ballet and City Hall.

Another one of my daughter’s photos.

I’m loving the cool weather. I’m loving the scenery and spending time with my kids, his girlfriend and siblings.

More Berkeley flowers.

The tiring part was waiting for surgery and feeling relieved but exhausted once it was over and we knew it was a success. I’m staying in an airbnb a mile from my son’s apartment. I walk over carrying a handbag and my computer. I feel like a pack mule on the way back. Yesterday, I logged in more than 26,000 steps. Most of that was the walking around during surgery, but still.

The mom duties include filling the ice cooling machine that wraps my son’s shoulder. Helping him in and out of his sling, buying food. Handing him meds. Helping his girlfriend with dishes and laundry. She’s working as hard as I am. I wondering why it takes two grown women to take care of my son? It’s not really that hard, but just constant every 20 minutes or so. Way more than what I’m used to.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am SO THANKFUL my son wants me here. And that I get to help him! His girlfriend is so wonderful to be with, too. Plus, my daughter and I get to walk Waffles the pug and have time together, as well.

I’m posting pictures of some of the gorgeous flowers I’ve seen on my walks around Berkeley.

Berkeley flowers.

Can we inspire creativity in our kids?

christmas 2

I’ll be spending the week with both my kids. I’m sitting at the airport on my way there and I was reading about creativity and kids. I’m reflecting back on how I raised my children and if I inspired any creativity.

I’ve always considered creativity to be an innate talent, but according to science it’s a skill that can be fostered. As parents, we can promote the creative spirit by allowing space and time for creativity. That means allowing messes, free time–and getting out of the way.  

I’d let my kids have a tub of large chalk and draw all over our patio. It drove my husband crazy to come home from work and see our kids and their friends drawing all over our back yard patio. It hosed off, though. Also, I’d buy a roll of butcher paper and let them paint or draw across the patio, hoping they’d keep it on the paper.  

At the beach, they’d build villages with drip castles and loved to play chef at a restaurant. I’d patiently taste each creation (pile of wet sand) and tell them how delicious it was.  

I remember taking my kids to a photographer for Christmas pictures. I had them all dressed up in their matching red and green Gymboree outfits. My daughter was a baby and my son three. My son moved all the chairs and benches into two rows all facing forward. We asked him what he was doing and he explained he was building an airplane (the two lines of furniture were the seats and aisle.) The photographer was extremely patient as I tried to put everything back in it’s place.

My mom was big on creativity and she allowed us to destroy our living room with forts of card tables and sheets, dig to China and build a pond for polliwogs in the back yard. I remember making dozens of puppets with Woolite bottles as the heads and swatches of fabric for the clothing. Mom did get annoyed with me for chopping out a chunk of fabric from the center of all the yardage of fabric in her sewing room!  

What exactly is creativity? Here’s a definition:  

  1. the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. “firms are keen to encourage creativity”

Here’s an excerpt from Greater Good Magazine 7 Ways to Foster Creativity in Your Kids by Christine Carter:    

Many people assume that creativity is an inborn talent that their kids either do or do not have: just as all children are not equally intelligent, all children are not equally creative. But actually, creativity is more skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill parents can help their kids develop.

Because it is a key to success in nearly everything we do, creativity is a key component of health and happiness and a core skill to practice with kids. Creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression—it is also essential for science, math, and even social and emotional intelligence. Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers, which makes them more able to adapt to technological advances and deal with change—as well as take advantage of new opportunities.

Many researchers believe we have fundamentally changed the experience of childhood in such a way that impairs creative development. Toy and entertainment companies feed kids an endless stream of prefab characters, images, props and plot-lines that allow children to put their imaginations to rest. Children no longer need to imagine a stick is a sword in a game or story they’ve imagined: they can play Star Wars with a specific light-saber in costumes designed for the specific role they are playing.

Carter has a bunch of tips of things we can do to promote creativity that includes giving  kids space and resources for creative play. Also she says it’s important to allow our kids to make mistakes and fail. If they’re afraid of failure their creativity will be stifled. Limiting screen and TV time will give kids a chance for art and reading. Another bit of advice is to not tell our kids what to do. For example, I made my daughter take piano lessons for years against her will. She would have been much better off following her own passions like making mosaics and painting. For years she made gifts for her friends by getting a few supplies from Michaels and using her creativity. For a complete list of her tips, read the article here

I think a lot of the tips for creativity can work for us, too. We need to be less busy, not worry about a mess, give ourselves space and time.

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What are some of your children’s favorite creative things to do? How did you inspire creativity in your kids and how do you find it in your lives?

Christine Carter, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center. She is the author of The New Adolescence: Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction (BenBella, 2020), The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less (Ballantine Books, 2015), and Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents (Random House, 2010). A former director of the GGSC, she served for many years as author of its parenting blog, Raising Happiness. Find out more about Christine here.

Coincidence or a blessing?

My kids with my dad pre COVID year.

My dad had surgery this morning. I know he wanted me to be there with him. But, my son asked me first to take care of him because he’s having shoulder surgery. So. I’m leaving to take care of my son. My dad joked that I could come to Palm Desert to take him to surgery and from there fly to San Francisco to take my son to his surgery.

I feel badly that I couldn’t be there for my dad. But I called two of my close friends that he knows who are available for anything he needs in the next few weeks. Plus his neighbor agreed to take him to and from surgery. He said it’s a minor procedure on one finger.

This is where the coincidence happened. I got a text from a fellow mom from my kids’ elementary school days. She said “He’s doing great!” She texted me a photo of a note she wrote to my dad, “Tell Elizabeth hil!”

I felt so reassured! So comforted to know that a good friend who was a nurse was taking care of my dad when I couldn’t be there.

The same thing happened when my husband had shoulder surgery. She was the assigned nurse. When my husband opened his eyes post surgery, he said “What are you doing here?” She had come into the waiting room to reassure me everything had gone well before she led me into the post op room to see my husband.

This has happened more than once. When my dad had surgery on his ankle, I was allowed in the pre-op area. Another good friend, a fellow swim mom who is a devout Christian, was his nurse. She knew my dad from the pool deck, where he was a proud grandfather at all of our kids’ meets.

Then when my son fell off his bike his freshman year of college, he had to come home for surgery. I was so nervous. The anesthesiologist walked in and was a husband of a good friend. Our son had tutored their daughter in high school for math. He said, “I saw his name on the list of incoming patients, so I asked to take his case.”

Playing croquet in our old back yard.

What do you think? Are these coincidences or is something else at work?

Do your ever dream about pets?

Angus and Sherman visit me in my dreams. Angus lived until 15 and Sherman was 18, RIP.

This might seem weird. But from time to time my RIP pets enter my dreams. I’m so happy to be reunited with them. This happened to me last night. My childhood dog Pepi was there. She was so happy, waving her tail and playing with a ball. I watched her romp around. Pepi was born on my six birthday, one of a litter of 10 golden retriever pups that arrived on my special day.

In my dream, I couldn’t believe how good Pepi looked. I was telling a friend that she was born when I was six. I was trying to figure out how old that would make her, but got stymied after I hit 50 years old. That couldn’t be! Even in my dream, I knew that was way too old for a golden.

Often when my pets visit me in my dreams, I see them from afar, running through a field. I sometimes get to pet them, but mostly they are out of reach.

I wonder what it means when our pets are in our dreams? I googled pets in dreams and one thing stood out to me. Several websites said that dreaming of our own pets means that we are preparing to take care of someone. Interesting, since I’m going to be flying to the Bay Area to take care of my son after his surgery.

kids playing with a Rottie
My kids celebrating Natasha’s birthday. Natasha also appears in my dreams. We had her for 10 years.

What are your thoughts about pets in dreams? Do you ever dream of a pet that’s passed away, or do you dream about a pet that you have now?

Do I remember how to parent?

Young blond  boy on pony
My son loved to ride the “Snow White Pony” as he called it at our weekly street fair.

I’m talking about hands on parenting. My kids are in their 20s and I haven’t been hands on for years. My son is having shoulder surgery this week and he wants me to take care of him. I leave on Wednesday to be there prior to his Thursday morning surgery. I’ll be staying in an airbnb a few blocks from his apartment so i don’t have to drive. I don’t drive in the Bay Area, period.

He called me this morning and I told him, “I hope I’m helpful.” I haven’t had to take care of anyone since my husband last had shoulder surgery about three years ago and before that when my dad had shoulder surgery in 2014. I guess I do have experience with shoulder patients, though.

My time will mostly be filling the machine with ice that circulates coolness around his shoulder. And giving him meds on a schedule.

I’m a little nervous to travel back to California during this Delta variant thing. I fear they’ll shut down while I’m there! I know I’ll be required to wear masks again after not wearing them since my second shot here in Arizona.

The sweet thing is my son facetimed me the other day. He got his hair cut short and died it blond. He said he wanted to look just as he did when I was doing the full on parenting.

Three year old blond son
My son age three.

I’ll pack a few books, read my fellow bloggers and hang out with him. It doesn’t sound too hard, right? We will see.

Have you taken care of adult children recently? Did your parenting nurturing nature suddenly reappear?

Blogging from bed

view of Arizona backyard
View from my bed.

We’ve had thunder and lightening and down pouring rain since 10 p.m. last night. I’m sitting in bed watching the storm. I’ve decided this is a perfect day to blog from bed.

Right now there is a break in the rain, so I might venture out for a walk. But with all the thunder and lightning, I’m not sure it’s safe or the smartest idea. So here I sit, listening to the birds who are beginning to venture out.

It was quite a spectacular show last night — and the night before. The biggest issue is Olive who normally doesn’t meow. She was crying loudly this morning. When she got scared or nervous in the past — due to a pug named Waffles who likes to chase her — she ended up with a UTI. She’s hiding under the guest bed currently and I’m leaving her alone.

I’m enjoying my first monsoon season and blogging from bed!

Monsoon in Arizona
The water is pooling around the house.

Have you ever blogged from bed and for what reasons?