Take time to breathe!

I wrote this two years ago — well before the Pandemic days. Back then we had a crowd for Christmas and lots of activities to fill our days. We won’t be hosting my children, dad, and my son’s girlfriend’s family for Christmas. His girlfriend’s family includes seven siblings and mom. The two years they stayed with us were amazing.

This year, I am moving out of state and out of our home of 28 years. So, although we aren’t social butterflies, I am still busier than I’d like. I’m reminding myself TAKE TIME TO BREATHE.

Infant and toddler Christmas photo

My children’s first Christmas picture together.

It’s that time of year and feeling festive, I agreed to go to more events than normal. But while I’m bouncing from event to event, I’m stressed thinking of all the work I have at home to do.

Last night I was downtown for the Palm Springs Walk of the Inns and the Palm Springs Woman’s Club. I baked a double batch of snickerdoodles for the bake sale for the PSWC. Today I’m off to a luncheon fashion show with a friend at Wally’s. But, I really have so much stuff to do around the house to get ready for Christmas.

I have to find a tree! I have to clean out my kids’ rooms for the guests (We invited my son’s girlfriend and her family to stay with us Christmas week.) I have to meal plan and grocery shop and yeah — shop for presents, too. So many to dos are filling my lists. It’s freaking me out a bit.

The entire tree thing seems too much. There’s a tree seller down the street and during an evening walk, my husband and I stopped by to look. I only want a little tree, nothing stupendous. Just a four-footer or so. I just about choked when I saw the price tag on the smallest tree on the lot — $225! I remember when I’d pick up a tree in front of the grocery store for $30. I’ve been against fake trees on principle all these years. But, I think those principles are now telling me that it’s a crime to buy a real tree and pay a small fortune just to have the garbage man haul it off in a couple weeks. It seems so wasteful to destroy a tree, too, for a few week’s pleasure.

Balachine Nutcracker bunny

My son in the Palm Springs Christmas Lights parade in the Nutcracker Sleigh next to the Sugar Plum Fairy (pink tutu).

 

One funny story about the Christmas tree lot near our house: I remember when my kids were young and one night we walked there to pick out a tree. My husband carried our toddler son on his shoulders. I was pushing the stroller with our infant daughter while holding on to our Rottie’s leash. We walked the few blocks to the tree lot and began walking in an out of the rows of trees. Something jumped out from under one of the trees — scaring me to death! It was Sherman our black cat! I guess he couldn’t stand being left out. I had to walk back to the house with baby and dog in tow, herding the cat home, too!

Now with my busy schedule on my mind, it’s my saving grace to take time for myself. I’m grounded with my morning routine of walking, praying and writing. I am forcing myself to swim at noon Masters a couple days a week. And then I find a moment to sit in the back yard, close my eyes, listen to the birds and breathe.Toddler son and infant daughter's first Christmas photo

What’s your secret for staying calm through all the Holiday fun activities and things you have to do?

Why coaches act like parents

coach and swimmer

My daughter with a former coach.

I found an interesting article on a website The Ozone called “Morning Conversational: How Is Coaching Like Parenting?” by Tony Gerdeman.

I’ve always wanted to know, do coaches recruit the athlete? Or do coaches look at the entire family? Should that determine how we act or behave at meets? Is there something we parents should be aware of during the recruiting process? What I’ve discovered does come into play is that when we are away, back home–and our kids are at school on a team–often the coaches take our places as semi-parental units. Coaches are the adult figures in a position of authority. They make take our place as a sounding board, confidant, and guide.

From the article about how coaching is like parenting:

When recruiting players, coaches from all sports have to also recruit players’ families.

They want to know what kind of son or daughter, or brother or sister they are recruiting. A son that doesn’t respect his family is generally going to be a player that doesn’t respect his coaches.

A couple of years ago, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford told a story about recruiting Ezekiel Elliott when he was at Notre Dame, and how he still remembered the interactions he saw between Elliott and his sister and how he could tell just through those moments that Elliott was the type of person he would like to coach.

When parents and guardians then sign off on their sons and daughters going to a particular school, they don’t do it thinking their child is going to be running amuck and without any supervision.

It is at this point when coaches stop being recruiters and become extended parents. Most players are too far from home to visit when they’d like, so coaches have to fill those needs where they can. Including providing the occasionally needed tough love.

Coaches — like parents — have to be consistent, however.

“Coaching is no different than parenting. Everyone is treated fairly,” Alford said this spring. “People say, ‘I’m going to treat you all the same.’ You’re not. You’re not going to treat them all the same. I don’t treat my children all the same. I’ll treat them fairly. And the expectation levels are all the same.

“The way I talk to Master [Teague] is vastly different than the way I talk to Demario [McCall]. Or how I talk to JK [Dobbins]. The way I talk to Mike Weber is very, very different than how I talk to Marcus Crowley. But you have to know your players, you have to know your clientele, you have to know your kids, and what’s going to push them.

“And if they need something mentally, then how do I make that happen for them? How can I help facilitate that? And make them understand, ‘Here’s where you’re at, here’s where we have to go, and here’s how we’re going to do it.’ And every kid is a little bit different.”

When I interviewed several coaches for an article for SwimSwam magazine, I found that coaches weren’t that interested in how parents behave during the recruiting process. Instead, coaches were far more interested in how the kids treated their parents. Jeanne Fleck, head coach of the Fresno State Bulldogs, said she watched in horror as one recruit screamed at her mom over the phone. Fleck thought that she’d pass on that swimmer because of her actions. She said she becomes a mother figure as much as a coach and she definitely wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of being treated by that athlete the same way she treated her mom.

When going through the recruiting process with our kids, we want coaches our kids will look up to. We want them to develop a mutual relationship of respect. If we’ve done our jobs well, our kids won’t be horrifying prospective coaches with their nasty treatment of others. Instead, they’ll impress with their kindness and warmth.

college coach with college swimmer

My daughter with her college coach.

What are your thoughts about coaches and parents and their roles?

Anxiety: a side effect of moving

Big Bear Lake

View from our campground at Big Bear Lake, where we enjoyed the RV life.

I’ve been feeling anxious. I don’t know if I recommend moving to anyone. It’s a huge undertaking — physically, mentally and emotionally. I wake up in the middle of the night remembering something that I need to do. Then when I wake up in the morning, I have no clue what those important things were that kept me up in the middle of the night. I think I should put a pen and notepad next to the bed, so I can jot down the items as they come to me.

I sit with a list next to me while I work. I add to it and cross off finished items with a red pen. A friend gave me that tip and it is satisfying to see a page of red lines. My list is now in the 40s and I’ve crossed off 16 things. So much to do and the days are disappearing fast.

Anxiety is hitting me hard. And then we got pulled off course from packing, canceling services, and signing up for utilities by our RV. Yes, that thing we’ve forgotten about for a couple years. You see it didn’t start. So, when friends volunteered to help us out with our move on Friday — so we asked them to help us put in new batteries in the RV. There were three batteries to replace.

Our friends arrived with tools and installed the new batteries. Now the RV starts like a champ. Hooray! Now let’s sell it. But first it needs to get smog checked before we can update the registration and sell it. So my husband drove it to get it smogged. He was told at the gas station that it had to be driven for 50 miles before getting smogged since it was dead and the had new batteries. Next, we learned the tires need to be less than five years old to sell the RV, even if the are in perfect condition. So we drove to Costco to check out tires, hoping to make a dent in the 50 required miles of driving. Costco doesn’t have the right tires for our RV. Then my husband realized the RV was out of gas, and since we were at Costco, he’d buy gas there. I reminded him that we hadn’t been to Cosctco since the advent of COVID so our membership had expired. We went inside, renewed our membership prior to his trying to maneuver his way in the Costco gas lines in the beast called our RV.

Then he drove it home and I went through the drawers and shelves to make sure all our stuff was out. What I discovered was a bottle of Tide laundry detergent that had oozed out soap from a top shelf and dripped and pooled on four lower shelves. I spent several hours over two days, fighting the Tide. Literally.

Today we are driving the RV out of town to an RV consignment shop. They will smog check, get new tires, and sell it hopefully.

Winnebago

Our RV which is getting in the way of packing.

Now it’s time to get back to packing! Too many days are slipping away.

It’s a pug puppy thing

Four years ago this week, my husband and I drove up to the high desert and adopted this adorable creature our daughter named Waffles. At the time, she was going through anxiety and we felt this puppy’s unconditional love and enjoyment would benefit her. Some questioned whether a college student could handle a pup, but we did our best to train him for a few months before she took him to school. We did our research and learned that pugs are the perfect “apartment dogs” because they sleep all day when their owners are gone at work or school. 

pug puppy

Waffles, our 12-week old pug.

I think we bit off more than we can chew! We thought it would be nice for our daughter to have a companion in the form of an animal. She’s out of state in college and busy with academics plus D1 swimming, and we thought a puppy would bring a lot of joy and fun into her daily life.

She asked permission of her landlord, and even though her lease says “no pets,” he agreed to a small dog. We decided the puppy would be a present for Christmas.

pug puppy pancake

Waffles turns into a pancake when I try to walk him.

Our daughter wanted a pug and thinks they are so cute. They are. I’ll agree to that. We looked into suitable breeds, and besides the two negatives of snoring and shedding, pugs appear to be an easy going breed requiring very little care.

But the puppy thing. I’m on day five and I think puppy is winning the battle. It’s like having an infant again. I have to watch him constantly. He doesn’t sleep through the night, and when he’s crawling on his belly through the yard, I never know what is going to end up in his mouth. I knew we were in for trouble when we drove Waffles home for an hour and a half drive. He was squirming all the way, nipping and licking my neck and fingers. Finally, as we drove into town he fell asleep. That’s what my son would do in his car seat during long drives.

I’m crate training, potty training and my daily life suddenly got very busy and tiring. Why we think our daughter can handle this is beyond me. Of course, she does have youth on her side. And Waffles is so darn cute!

cat hiding in bushes

Olive the cat is not sure about any of this. What did we do???

pug wearing swim goggles

Waffles became a media star on @dogrates and the University of Utah Swim and Dive team.

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Counting down to change: 17 days to go

old spanish style house

My dream home of 28 years.

The movers are scheduled. I’m busy with lists of things to do from canceling utilities to signing up for high speed internet. It’s been 28 years in this beautiful old house. It was my dream house and I never wanted to move. Ever.

But my husband has. He’s brought it up for several years. At first I answered with sobs and tears. Finally, I acquiesced. But I had a last ditch plan. I thought we should test the market, because it’s super crazy hot. I wanted to list the house really, really high. So high that nobody would make an offer. So we did and it sold in three hours with two offers above asking price.

archway gate to casa

The entrance to our home.

Now moving is my new reality. There are things that made me want to move, too. One was the sports arena that was going in a block from our house with no plans for adequate parking. But that got nixed. Then there’s the hotel across the street with guests bringing their dogs over to our lawn to do their business. And the loud music and parties. I’m over that. But the hotel is bankrupt now, so it’s been quiet, which probably means it was a good time to sell our house. Then there are the people who drive the wrong way down our street, whipping around the corner of our house. My son and husband both got hit backing out of the driveway.

Most of all, it costs too much to live in this old house and in California. Plus, there’s our homeless guy who thinks he owns the house and peeks through our bedroom windows.

My kids were so upset. And rightfully so. This is the only home they’ve ever lived in. It’s their lifetime home until they left for college and then on to adulthood.

I know the move is for the best, but my emotions have been up and down and all over the place. I think it happened too fast. Three hours was not long enough to wrap my head around the move. Sometimes I’m so excited to try a new adventure. Other times, I’m teary eyed.

view of gorgeous Palm Springs backyard

I’ll miss this.

Have you ever moved? Were you excited or sad?

 

What I saw yesterday morning was a sheer delight

Yesterday I decided to mix it up a bit and instead of walking on my usual route around the park, I went downtown. Our house is a few blocks from the main street of Palm Springs called Palm Canyon Drive. Lately, I haven’t liked what I’ve seen downtown. Many shops and restaurants have closed and the homeless seem to be everywhere, sleeping on benches and in alley ways. Every few weeks I check it out to see how it looks.

It seemed to be a brighter and happier place yesterday. More shops were open, very few vacancies and I didn’t see more than two homeless people. I was especially delighted with the roadrunner, who I almost missed! I was walking right by the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center when I spotted him. I liked how he posed by the star on the sidewalk. Our city placed stars of prominent citizens and celebrities throughout Palm Canyon Drive.

Here are a few other highlights from my stroll downtown:

Donald Wexler building Palm Springs

My husband’s old office building designed by Donald Wexler.

Christmas tree next to palm trees

A Christmas tree at Francis Stevens Park among the palms.

smidge of a rainbow

Sparkling sky. Is it a smidgeon of a rainbow?

What delightful things have you encountered during your sheltering in place days?

Reflections On Thanksgivings Past

mountain and palm tree view

View on my walk, after they’ve gone.

I wrote this five years ago, when both my kids came home for Thanksgiving weekend from college. I look back on this Thanksgiving fondly because it’s rare we get to spend the holiday together. Some years, my son stays up north near his girlfriend’s family. Then my daughter couldn’t leave due to her college team’s swim practice schedule.

This year, nobody is coming home. It’s partly due to COVID-19 and a new lockdown in effect. (Honestly, I didn’t think we ever got out of shelter in place, but people seemed less vigilant about following the rules.) This will be our last Thanksgiving in our home we’ve lived in for 28 years. So sad that we will be here all alone. I’m not going to cook for the two of us. My dad turns 89 in January and we decided it was best to skip a get together. It’s going to be a take-out dinner and maybe I’ll shed a few tears alone.

Here’s a look back at Thanksgiving 2015.

It’s Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was so thankful to have my family together. My two college kids came home to be with us! I cleaned and shopped all week, preparing for the big event.

Now, they’re gone.

Some of my favorite parts of the weekend:

The four of us walked down Palm Canyon Drive on Thanksgiving afternoon, before we ate my home-cooked meal. I loved that. The kids were happy, we window shopped, laughed and talked. There were the traditional piggy back rides and racing around.

brother sister piggyback ride

Piggyback rides downtown.

Then came dinner and my dad joined us. He’s close to 84 and I’m thankful he’s close by and can share time with us.

I was getting tired after being on my feet for the past few days. I couldn’t help but look with jealousy at the weekenders coming in and picking up their mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing off a fully stocked shelf at a local grocery store, Jensen’s. Too easy, but seriously? Would anyone care?

Some good moments we had were swimming at our team’s Friday morning practice–kind of together. Although the masters were separated from the kids, it was a shared experience. I had a first! I managed to push myself out of the pool without swimming to the stairs. Having to swim past my daughter and her friends’ lane, who were also home from college, would have been too embarrassing. So I did it!

daughter and mother photo outside

Feeling slightly short next to my daughter.

My son and I shared music. He’d play a song and then I’d give him a name of one to play. We went back forth while we drove to Palm Desert and back. He loves folk from the 60s and 70s. He listens to Joni Mitchell and some artists I’ve never heard of, but I enjoyed. I suggested “A Song for Juli,” by Jesse Colin Young and Nicolette Larson’s “Lotta Love,” plus a few more. We appreciate each other’s taste in music. He also shared a novella by Edan Lupucki that was a gem.

We went healthy food shopping and he taught my husband and I how to make chia pudding. Hmm.

My daughter and I had a delicious breakfast out together followed by a pedicure. Wonderful time together to talk and be mother and daughter like we used to be.

The four of us took the neighbor’s dog to the park and tossed the ball while my son jogged around us. It felt so good to play in the park where we spent so much of their younger days.

But, now they’re gone and here I am once again–alone at my computer. I do enjoy the freedom to write and finish some projects. I love my kids and I’m  blessed that they want to come home and we spend time being together.

I said I wasn’t going to cry this time when they left. In fact, I was surprised at how strong I was. Until the door closed behind them.

brother and sister at the ocean

When they were younger at the beach.