Celebrating a birthday at the beach

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Carpinteria State Beach.

We had a great weekend and I loved every minute of it. We went to one of my favorite places, Carpinteria, to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday. I was asked to bring a veggie platter and was shocked to find out how many people would be attending the party. But, when I think about how wonderful my friend is — and the close call she had in August — it makes sense that everyone in her life would want to be there.

I enjoyed meeting her mom and sister plus reuniting with the sister I’ve known. They flew out from the East coast. I also enjoyed talking with all the people in her life and marveled at how many friends she has and how they’ve known her for years and years. She’s a good friend to have and I’m honored to be in her number of friends.

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She made a joke before blowing out her candles that she knew everyone at the party was afraid she wouldn’t make it to her birthday this year. That is so true. She had passed out while at the gym the last time we were in Santa Barbara. She had a blood clot lodge in her carotid artery and a stroke! She was so fortunate to be here to celebrate this birthday a few short months later. And guess what she did for her birthday? She drove to Las Vegas to ride in an 80-mile bike ride! One of her sisters met her there and after the bike ride, they drove back to Santa Barbara in time for the party!

In addition to spending time with friends, I was able to spend a little time doing my most favorite thing which is sitting on the beach reading a book. Also, we found a cute condo we rented on VRBO that was great. I hope to be back for my friend’s birthday next year, too!

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Waffles with the beach dogs where my friend had her birthday party. Photo above is of my dear friend and my daughter, sailing in Santa Barbara.

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“Do good. Be good. We’ll be doing good.”

My son learning to dive with the swim team.

My son learning to dive with the swim team. He’s third from the right.

Four years ago, we had our first VRBO trip to the Santa Barbara area. We traveled their often and used to camp at Carpinteria State Beach in a tent, stay in a hotel or with friends. I wrote this in 2015 after our one week’s beach vacation with our kids. How fun that we got to relive this special vacation experience again two weeks ago. I’m proud to say my kids are doing good.

“Do good. Be good. We’ll be doing good.”

These are the words my son recorded for our voicemail message when he was four years old.  I saved that for years. What a thoughtful thing for our young son to say! My husband and I adopted that saying as our family motto.

A walk on the UCSB campus during our vacation.

A walk on the UCSB campus during our vacation.

I try to do good. Be good. Some days it’s a bigger struggle than others. But, it’s something to think about, too. What are we doing with our lives? Are we making a difference? Is the world a better place because we are in it?

A lot has to do with our outlook. I’m definitely one of the “glass is half full” types. I try to look at the positive and stay away from those who are negative. Turning on the TV can put you into negativity land. I truly believe that we can stay positive by removing negative influences around us. Turn off the TV. Listen to music. Read interesting books and essays. Swim! Like Ray Bradbury said, “Garbage in, garbage out!”

My kids at the age when my son recorded the voice mail message.

My kids at the age when my son recorded the voice mail message. Vacation pic from years ago.

After spending a week in paradise—otherwise known as Carpinteria, CA—I look back on our vacation as perfect. We have great friends who live there who inspire me. I always come home with so much energy from being around positive, hard-working entrepreneurs.

Also, my children spent a bit of the week with us. What a treat that was for me! With two college-aged kids, having them together was priceless. We rode bikes, hiked, swam in the ocean, sailed, shared meals together. It’s hard to leave them, but I’m so thankful for the time we had together. That’s my glass half full talking as I sit in my lonely, quiet house once again.

Our main mode of transportation on our vacation.

Our main mode of transportation on our vacation.

I’m proud to say my kids look truly happy. They are definitely doing and being good.

My kids and friend.

My kids and son’s girlfriend.

What family sayings do you have?

Our first day of summer vacation made me want to stay home

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The beach in Summerland near Santa Barbara.

The day we were leaving to visit our dear friends in Carpinteria, I got a text from one of them: “I am going in for emergency surgery to have a stent put in. Sorry to ruin the weekend.”

I’m like, “WHAT?” We were packing the car ready to embark on a week’s vacation with family and friends in the Santa Barbara area. I called my girlfriend immediately after I tried to make sense of her text. She answered in a weak, raspy voice and explained that in the morning she had been at the gym (she’s a health nut, works out all the time, rides her bike 60 miles and only eats healthy) and she passed out. They called an ambulance and rushed her to the hospital. She was headed into surgery when I called her on her cell. It turned out that she had a stroke and a blood clot landed in her carotid artery.

Talk about a jolt! I was terrified for her. How can one lead such a healthy life—and then something like that happens to you? The good news is she’s been released from ICU and the hospital altogether. A week later you’d never know that she underwent such a harrowing ordeal. She’s so fortunate she wasn’t on a bike ride when it happened, or working in her house alone. The stroke happened when she was surrounded by people and she got treatment immediately.

Later the same day, we got another phone call about a family member’s major car accident. After, that another health scare about another family member. Then to top it off, my cat got sick and she had to go to the vet. What else could wrong on the day you’re leaving on vacation?

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Father and daughter on a beach walk.

I turned to my husband and asked if we could postpone our vacation. I had no desire to leave the safety of my home. What’s the point of vacation anyway if all you’re doing is worrying about your loved ones?

We stayed home that night and I calmed down. I reflected on how fragile life is and how you never know what’s in store for you. I’m so thankful everyone survived that awful day and that they are all safe and sound. Then when we finally went on vacation, I treasured every moment I shared with my friends and family.

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Waffles at the beach

What are some of the most unplanned and crazy moments of your vacations?

Should Your Kids Be Selfie Stars?

Last year, I spent this week with my daughter in Salt Lake City. What a wonderful time we had together shopping, hiking, and visiting Park City and Deer Valley–and just hanging out together. This is one of the stories I wrote while staying with her.

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Experiencing the beach.

My daughter and I walked into an elevator yesterday at Nordstrom’s with a mom pushing a Thule baby stroller, snapping pics of her infant and tapping away on her phone to post the pics. My daughter whispered to me, “Thank God they didn’t have iPhones when I was a kid!”

I told her I was thankful that their early childhood was before the era of smartphones, too.

Later, I asked her why she was glad we didn’t have iPhones. Her answer surprised me. “Because you would have been taking photos constantly and posting every moment of my life on FaceBook,” she said.

Psychologists warn about kids spending too much time in front of screens and not enough of their time outdoors in an article in the DailyMail.com called “Why children should not be selfie stars:”

In advice to parents, Dr. Godsi said: ‘Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times.’

The author added: ‘In my opinion selfies should not be encouraged.

‘I think there is a place for taking a few photos, as a way to help families remember or look back and to share memories but the constant pressure to post on social media means there’s a risk that they (children) don’t experience anything except through a lens.’

My daughter said that once I got my first iPhone and was learning how to use it, “You relentlessly posted ugly, fat pictures of me on FaceBook.”

I view those photos not as ugly, but on a scale of cute to adorable to gorgeous.

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Learning about the ocean in Junior Lifeguards.

I explained that I was so glad she and her brother weren’t posing for pictures constantly, weren’t worried about what other kids were doing at the moment, but went outside to play. That’s why I’m glad the iPhone wasn’t a thing in their early years.

When we had kids over, they weren’t sitting side by side texting each other. No, they were running around the backyard and house playing a reverse hide-and-seek game called sardines—for hours on end.

When we were at the beach, they were jumping in the waves, body surfing, building drip castles, digging holes and yes—occasionally fighting and throwing sand. As annoying and painful as throwing sand was–especially dealing with sand in the eyes–it sure beats constantly posing for pictures.

My daughter says there is room for both. When she goes to the beach with friends, they now get a few pics, then toss the phones in a beach bag and dive under the waves.

Here are a few frightening stats from the article in the UK Mail:

Dr. Godsi spoke out after a survey of 2,000 parents by outdoor education provider, Kingswood, found that the biggest source of quality time among families is spent watching TV together. Sixty-eight percent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).

The average age of the parents’ children was ten, while 445 were seven.

Asked to look back to when all their youngsters were seven, 85 percent of families said their sons or daughters had never gone camping.

Sixty-five percent said they had never played pooh sticks or climbed a tree (51 percent).

Forty-one per cent admitted their children had never been on a bike ride, paddled in the sea (43 percent) or played in a park (31 percent).

It’s very easy to get sedentary. It’s also easy not to talk to each other when we’re buried and focused on our screens. I’m lucky to spend this week with my daughter just hanging out and being with each other.

What are your thoughts about selfies, kids and family time? Do your kids spend enough time without their phones experiencing outdoors?

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On the lookout for dolphins and whales.

 

Have you ever had a gray day?

 

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My backyard is gray today.

 

I’m having a bit of a gray day today. Yesterday was my first full workday home in two weeks and I was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Today, not so much. Maybe it’s the weather. It’s decidedly gray out there. And raining!

We had two leaks on opposite sides of the house. One in our bedroom closet and the other in my daughter’s room. The repairs were done less than a month ago. This is our first rain since, and I’m not happy to report that I’m waiting for the roofer to return to fix the once again leak in my closet! We just had the closet replastered and painted, and now that will need to be done again. I have yet to get my stuff back in there. And I’m desperate to do so. The good news is that the roof repair in my daughter’s (empty) bedroom is holding.

Combine the gray, the rain, the leaks, and my not hearing back from the orthopedic surgeon to find out when he can see me—and I guess my gray day is one of frustration.

I’ve read in the news that five people have died from this rainstorm in Montecito. Montecito is a magical town adjacent to Santa Barbara. It’s where the gorgeous old Spanish mansions are with long winding driveways. It’s where celebrities live like Oprah and Ellen. But because of the Thomas fire, and now the deluge of rain, hills of mud are sliding through the town wiping out houses and causing deaths. You can read the Los Angeles Times report on the mudslides and flooding here. The freeway is closed, people are stranded, and hey, I don’t have it so bad, after all! Prayers to everyone affected by the fire and rains.IMG_0039

What do you do to lift your spirits during a gray day?

Still worrying about my friends and the Thomas fire

Update: I received a text this morning from my friends and the threat from the fire is finally over. She did say it smelled like a “giant wet campfire outside.” I’m relieved they are safe. Here’s the photo she sent me from last night from their neighborhood:IMG_1085

 

 

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Photo I saw on Twitter from Sunday night.

 

The Thomas fire is now on record as the fifth largest fire in recent California history. It’s still raging on and I’m still worried about my friends.

I wish they would have left because they’re under voluntary evacuation notice. I wrote about the fire and our wonderful friends and memories on Dec. 7. Since then, our friends have been existing day to day, ready to leave in a moment’s notice—breathing fire, ash and smoke. You would think it would begin to wear on you.

Every morning and evening, I text to see if they’re okay and ask if they’re staying in their house.

They thought last night the threat had passed and they were over the worst of it. Then this morning the firemen made the local high school–which is literally a stone’s throw from their backyard–the fire staging area. She said maybe they were feeling relief too soon.

I’m praying for my friends and everyone affected by the fires in Southern California. It makes you appreciate a simple thing like fresh air, being outside, and our homes.

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Here’s a view from our friends’ backyard this morning.

Do you know anyone suffering from the fires in So Cal?

 

Worried about friends and the fire

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Carpinteria beach walk Thanksgiving morning.

 

When I woke up this morning, I was shocked and scared to see Carpinteria trending on Twitter. If you’re watching the news anywhere, you probably have heard that Southern California is on fire. I read that parts of Carpinteria were being evacuated. I texted my friends in Carp to find out if they were evacuating or if they’re okay.

These are our dear friends we spent Thanksgiving with and our friendship dates back 30 years. I told them they can come here and stay with us if they have to evacuate or want to get out of the horrific air. They are prepared to leave at a moment’s notice and my friend said she took her valuables, passports etc. to a friend 30 miles to the north of her. At 8 a.m. she told me the fire was four miles from their home. 

I’ve been checking the news reports all day and I haven’t heard anything more about Carpinteria, and I haven’t heard back from our friends, so I’m pretty sure they’re okay. I feel so badly for everyone affected by the fires. We have friends in Ventura, too and we’re thankful the fire didn’t reach their house, although so many people have lost everything they own.

I love Carpinteria and my husband and I have talked about moving there some day. But, boy our friends have had a tough time. Just three months ago, I wrote about how they got caught in a microburst on their sailboat. You can read that story here.

Please, everyone, heed the warnings to evacuate and stay safe!

 

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Map from the LA TIMES.

 

Do you know anyone affected by the fires?

Some of my memories from Carpinteria and friends below.

 

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Carpinteria State Beach.

 

 

 

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Summer vacation in Carpinteria.

 

 

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Rob and Deb, our Carpinteria friends of 30 years.

 

 

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Waffles and Kat at Carpinteria State Beach, August 2017.

 

 

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Prior to moving our son to UCSB, we went with our friends to Rincon Point.

 

 

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Sunset, Thanksgiving 2017.

 

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Sailing in Santa Barbara.