Perfect Fall Day: Go Apple Picking

 

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photo courtesy of Snow-Line Facebook page

 

When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband drove me 40 miles from home to Oak Glen to get out of the heat that lingers through September and October in the desert. I loved it. We stopped at the first orchard along the road, Riley’s Farm.

I was thrilled because not only was the weather perfect with a cool breeze, but it was a real live farm! You’d have to grow up in rural Washington like me to understand how I reveled in u-pick fresh raspberries and wandering through an apple orchard. It was amazing and I instantly fell in love with the place.

Years later, with young kids in tow I made the trek to Oak Glen with another mom and her two daughters. Our kids ran free through the orchard enjoying the experience as much as I did. We made it an annual event up until sometime during their high school years. We went with other families, too, and it was a great Sunday afternoon family-thing to do.

I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter had a day off from college swim practice on a Saturday and was able to sneak home for a quick trip. She said what she wanted to do most of all was to go apple picking. We figured out it’s been six or seven years since we’ve last been there. Since our Riley Farm days, we have a new favorite orchard, Snow-Line, for their freshly made mini doughnuts and apple samples. Then there’s Los Rios Rancho with the mile high French crumble pie. We planned on stopping at both.

Although we had a nice trip to Oak Glen, something had changed drastically that could have ruined it for us. Mobs and mobs of people. I’m talking about no less than 100,000 kind of crowds. The road was filled with cars parking on both sides for a mile before and after Riley’s. I watched in amazement while moms and dads manipulated strollers and tired kids through messes of cars to get to the farm. We passed on Riley’s and the next stop was to be Los Rios for the pie. The massive parking lot was full and the line out of the bakery went on and on around the building to who knows where. I was going to run in and grab a pie while my husband circled the parking lot, but that was a joke.

Our last hope was Snow-Line, which was as crowded as I’d ever seen it. In fact, I’ve never in the last 25 years seen it crowded before. It’s down a windy, tree-lined road a little off the beaten path. We were lucky to find a parking spot and my daughter got in a line that wrapped around the building for doughnuts, while my husband and I explored the store and sampled apples and infused oils. I was especially impressed with a cat sitting by the register, being very cat-like oblivious to the elbow-to-elbow crowd passing by.

Life doesn’t stay the same and I have no idea why it got so crowded at the apple orchards. I remember seeing a huge article in the LA Times a few years ago, so maybe that was it. At least we went, bought a bag of apples and doughnuts and drank apple raspberry cider along with our bbq trip tip lunch. All in all, it was still worth it.

 

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photo courtesy of Snow-Line Facebook page

 

From the Sno-Line Orchard website:

Snow-Line Orchard is a family-owned apple farm, winery & cidery in Oak Glen, CA and the surrounding area. We provide a variety of fun & exciting activities, including wine tasting, raspberry picking and more. We provide friendly service from a family business, a beautiful picnic area with the oldest Italian chestnut tree and mini apple cider donuts that are a huge hit.

Our original packing shed, historic cider mill, ancient chestnut tree, and beautiful picnic grounds make the perfect backdrop for your next family outing. It is always cooler in Oak Glen so come enjoy some fall weather with our mini cider donuts and Augies coffee or escape the summer heat to our picnic area while enjoying a glass of our very own hard cider or wine. We carry a broad selection of products; fresh apples and cider, u-pick raspberries, cider mini donuts, artisan balsamics and oils, local honey, unique gifts, and farm made wine and hard cider.

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At Riley’s Farm, we used to go on field trips with our kids in first through fourth grade. I loved those days and I believe all the kids and chaperone parents did too. This is what I found on Riley’s website:

Nestled in the apple growing foothills of historic Oak Glen, Riley’s Farm is a working apple orchard and living history farm featuring pick-your-own fruit, living history education, dinner theatre, group banquet facilities and extended, historically-themed overnight stays.

If you’re a teacher or a youth group leader, we have educational day trips of all sorts to meet your needs:

Revolutionary War Adventure

The Civil War Adventure

Gold Rush Adventure

Old Joe Homestead Tour

Colonial Farm Life Adventure

Overnight Revolutionary War Adventure

 

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Lots of people wanting those freshly made mini cider doughnuts at Snow-Creek.

 

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3 Things I Noticed About An Empty Nest

I wrote this after my youngest left the nest in 2014. It’s 2017 and the nest is still empty, but we get visits now and then. We’ve planned trips to see both kids this fall and I’m looking forward to the moments we get to spend together. All in all, the empty nest is not that bad! Here’s what I noticed the first few months with no kids to take care of:
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Towels

Let’s start with towels. First off, we own too many of them. I gathered our towels into one room and separated the wheat from the chaff. I asked my son Robert if he needed any. I recall sending him off to college four years ago with a small set of matched towels. He’s survived with those two towels all this time? Plus, a beach towel of course — since he goes to UC Santa Barbara.

One of the most beautiful campuses ever. UCSB

One of the most beautiful campuses ever. UCSB

Eighteen towels and two dozen or so hand towels and washcloths sit on his bed, awaiting his return Thanksgiving weekend. These 18 towels didn’t make the cut to remain members of our family — unless they commit to being shredded into rags.

images-3The next thing I noticed about my towels is that I’m no longer washing them every time I turn around. Raising two swimmers as well as overly hygienically-conscious kids, I believe they went through four or five towels daily — each — which never got a second use. I no longer have to hear the thump, thump, thump of my washing machine doing a jig with the over-packed, heavy towel load.

images-5Groceries

Have I mentioned that I raised two swimmers? We joined the Piranha Swim Team around 1999. I honestly believe that having my kids involved in swimming was the single best thing we ever did as parents. Sure, the kids worked hard. Yes, it was a time commitment. But, I will repeat, it was the single best thing we ever did. You can find a lot of my articles about the benefits here and here and here. Read what my friend has to say about swimming here.

Robert and Kat a few years ago on photo day for the Piranha Swim Team.

Robert and Kat a few years ago on photo day for the Piranha Swim Team.

So, what does this fact have to do with groceries? Well, it means I bought a lot of them. All the time. Robert drank a half gallon of milk a day and a box of Cinnamon Life every two days. Kat could eat whatever she wanted and she liked my sole, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, and brown medley rice. At least I think she did because I was always cooking and buying more groceries.

Life-Cinnamon-Detail.sflbToday, my refrigerator is bare and I rarely cook. There’s no reason to buy more than three items at a time at the grocery store. When I enter the store, I don’t need a cart. I use the little hand-held basket.

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 I cannot seem to get a load of dishes to wash for the life of me. My sink is empty. My dishwasher sits bare and lonely.

I guess that’s what they make Thanksgiving weekend for.

This is a photo of Kat. She didn't want to be a ballerina. She wanted to swim!

Why Kat joined the swim team. “I don’t want to be a ballerina!”

5 Tips for Parents to Reign In Smartphone Use

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Life before smartphones.

With all the evidence that more and more kids are suffering from anxiety and depression and with suicide rates skyrocketing, there is research that says smartphones may be making these trends worse. In a Time article by Markam Heid, “We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones” he shares these horrifying figures:

“Between 2010 and 2016, the number of adolescents who experienced at least one major depressive episode leapt by 60%, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 2016 survey of 17,000 kids found that about 13% of them had a major depressive episode, compared to 8% of the kids surveyed in 2010. Suicide deaths among people age 10 to 19 have also risen sharply, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young women are suffering most; a CDC report released earlier this year showed suicide among teen girls has reached 40-year highs. All this followed a period during the late-1990s and early 2000s when rates of adolescent depression and suicide mostly held steady or declined.”

In another article, “Is Your Kid Hooked on Smartphones? 5 Tips for Parents” Heid gives some great advice for parents who are concerned with their kids’ smartphone use. Here’s the abbreviated version. You can read his article in its entirety here.

ONE
Keep devices out of kids’ bedrooms. There is already strong data linking bedroom screen time with a variety of risks—particularly sleep loss, says David Hill, director of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Communication and Media.

TWO
Set up online firewalls and data cutoffs.
Most devices and Internet providers offer parenting tools that restrict access to illicit content and curb data use, and there are apps that do so as well.

THREE
Create a device contract. “This is something you create with your child that details rules around their device use,” says Yalda Uhls, an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA and author of Media Moms and Digital Dads. These rules could include no smartphones at the dinner table, or no more than an hour of social media use after school.

FOUR
Model healthy device behaviors. Just as kids struggle to stay off their phones, so do parents. “We’re all, even adults, drawn to devices,” says UPenn’s Jensen. And if you’re a phone junkie yourself, you can’t expect your kids to be any different, she says.

FIVE
Consider old-school flip phones for your kids, or a smartphone without a data plan (and therefore no Internet access). This may seem like overkill for some parents—especially those of older teens. But unconnected phones still allow teens to call or text with parents and friends, says Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of iGen.

I think the best thing to do is put down firm guidelines and don’t give in. I was strict with my kids about when they got their first cell phones and I bought them at Target as pay-as you-go phones. It wasn’t until my son’s high school graduation that he got an iPhone. My daughter got one a little sooner because they were much more common, but not until age 16.

Today, I’m the one addicted to my phone. I’m always reading stories, looking at Twitter, checking out FB, etc. My daughter gets so mad at me when we’re together and asks me to put the phone down. “I”m here with you now!” she’ll remind me. I worry a lot about the kids who are in the iGen with peer pressure following them wherever they are. Getting the smartphones and computers out of their bedrooms at night is a smart idea. Making a weekend or week to unplug as a family is a plan, too. It’s such a different world, isn’t it, from when we grew up?

What rules do you have for your kid’s smartphone use?

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Me not on my iPhone–being in the moment with my daughter.

 

Have you heard about the anti-bullying law in New York?

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I never saw bullying on our swim team. The pool was a safe place to be.

In a story on ABC News, called “Parents in New York town could face jail, fine under new anti-bullying law” a controversy over the law is being debated across the nation.

According to the story:

Parents in a New York town could end up in jail if their children are found to have bullied others, thanks to a new law.

Victoria Crago began advocating for the law in North Tonawanda, New York, after she said her eighth-grade son was attacked by a classmate right in front of her.

Parents could be fined $250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail, according to North Tonawanda City Attorney Luke Brown. Parents could face punishment if their child violates the city’s curfew or any city law, including bullying, twice over the course of 90 days.

“In reality, what we’re looking for is to engage the parents in the process and try and work on a solution,” Brown said.

The new law is modeled after a similar push in Wisconsin to hold parents accountable, according to Brown. The law went into effect in North Tonawanda   Oct. 1.

USA Today asks in an article, “Is your kid a bully? You could end up behind bars in this New York community.”

The law also targets parents who host parties with illegal activities or whose kids break curfew, per the Buffalo News. It comes after a wave teenage terror in the city, largely led this year by a pack of middle school boys, a juvenile aid officer told the newspaper.

After a classmates attacked her son in June, Victoria Crago teamed up with other parents to form a Facebook group called “North Tonawanda Coalition for Safe Schools and Streets.” The bullies are too young to face jail time, she told WIVB 4, and that’s part of the problem.

Inspiration for the law came from four towns in Wisconsin that passed similar rules. That was four years ago, the News reported, and it appears no parents have been charged under the laws since.

Police Chief Daniel Ault of Plover, Wis., said public education on the law proved key in his community.

“If you just roll it out, you get, ‘It’s government regulation, government telling you how to raise your children,'” he told the News. “

It’s not us telling you how to raise your children. It’s us telling you, ‘Please raise your children.’”

NBC’s Channel 2 WGRZ.com ran a story called “Questions linger over anti-bullying law in NT” 

Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer, whose son Jamey died of suicide in 2011 after being bullied, said they have mixed feelings about the new law. On one hand, they believe North Tonawanda has made a good-faith effort to prevent bullying in their schools and their neighborhoods. They believe the threat of jail time or a fine may force some parents to intervene in cases of severe bullying or harassment.

However, they also have some concerns about punishing parents, who may not always be able to control their children’s behavior at every hour of the day.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but I don’t know if it’s the right step,” Tracy Rodemeyer said. “I think it’s still pushing a lot of the responsibility away from the kids that are actually doing the wrong stuff here.”

I think a lot of bullying today is amplified because of technology. Kids never get any downtime from their peers and the bullying follows them home on their computers and smartphones. Studies show that most bullying occurs in middle school. The kids doing the bullying aren’t suffering consequences for their behavior, or they would stop. They’re also too young to be arrested so this town in New York decided to punish the parents.

What do you think of making parents responsible for their kids’ actions by threatening a $250 fine or jail time? The controversy is that some parents think the threat of jail time is too much. Is it government overreach? Or is it a wake-up call to end bullying, which seems to be a severe problem in their community?

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My solution is to put the kids on a swim team. Keep them busy and too tired to get into trouble.

 

What Do Kids Put On Their Resumes When They’ve Never Held a Job?

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Honestly, I’m not a helicopter parent anymore, but I am more than happy to jump in and offer my opinion and guidance to my two 20-something-year-old kids.

Our son went to his first career fair a year ago and it led to opportunities and eventually a full-time “real job” where he pays his rent and his bills. Our daughter is nearing the end of her college career and I suggested she attend a career fair—sooner rather than later. She wasn’t thrilled but after pushing a little, she agreed and picked a date from her school’s career fair calendar.

I suggested several times to go to a group hour-long prep meeting for the career fair that was scheduled last week. I think she finally agreed to get me to stop with the “suggesting” but she didn’t go. Instead, she set a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor. Unfortunately, the counselor double-booked her appointment and my daughter received zero prep from her school.

This is the part I’m really proud of. My son took over. He helped her write a resume, coached her on an elevator pitch and even went so far as to help her select professional clothes. Since he’s been through the process, we were all relieved. Also, reading resumes on a daily basis is part of his job working for a high-tech placement company that specializes in software engineers in Dev Ops for the Cloud.

Today is the career fair. I’m excited for my daughter and proud of my son. I want her to be relaxed and enjoy the experience. I reminded her that this is her first career fair and she has more opportunities ahead. She can look at this one as a learning experience to better prepare for the future.

Her main concern was the resume and what should she put down for experience when she’s been swimming her entire life and has only worked a few months as a lifeguard and swim instructor.

I googled what student-athletes can put on their resumes and found a lot of helpful information. Student-athletes cultivate many traits that employers love—like self-motivation, teamwork, coachability, time management, perseverance, a strong work ethic, etc. After my son worked on the resume with my daughter I learned a few things I never knew:

ONE
Her part-time job as a lifeguard was pretty impressive. She saved a toddler’s life.

TWO
Her favorite memory of college was not the year she dropped 20 seconds on the mile, but rather last year when she was throwing up in her hotel room, sick as a dog with the flu, and rallied to swim the mile—because her team needed her to score points. She didn’t include this fact on her resume, but it will be a good story to tell in an interview.

To read in more detail about what student-athletes can put on their resumes, here’s a story I wrote for SwimSwam called “6 Traits Swimmers Have That Employers Want.”

What do you think kids should include on resumes, if they’ve never held a “real job?”

 

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My kids a few years ago with Angus.

 

10 Things to Know About College Recruiting–for Students and Parents

I wrote this post after going through the recruiting experience with my daughter. I’ve received a few questions about recruiting lately and realized now is a good time to repost this with some updated info. If you have any questions for me, please ask them! I’d be happy to help if I can.

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My daughter in a race as a Piranha.

My daughter started college a little over a month ago as a student-athlete for a PAC 12, D1 university. She signed her letter of last Fall and now she’s hosting recruits at her college. As exciting as it was to go through the recruiting process, it’s even better to look back on it!

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Three teammates from my kids’ club team on the blocks in yellow caps.

Looking back, there was so much to know. I’m sharing 10 tips on HOW to be recruited to help you and your swimmer wade through pools of confusion and make it less overwhelming. A lot of these tips can be used for your student-athlete’s sport — even if it’s not swimming. Have fun! Enjoy the recruiting experience — because it’s an exciting time in your swimmer’s life — and in yours, too.1554486_780165738665332_1948124021_n

  1. Join a USA Swim Club. If you want to swim in college and you’re swimming in high school — join a club team right away! Most swimmers at the collegiate level have been USA Swimmers for years. It’s rare for college coaches to recruit high school only swimmers. Click here to find a local club! usas_logo
  2. Go to practice! Every single day. College coaches will call your club coach and ask about your character and work ethic. If you’re trying to be the best you can be, your club coach will recommend you wholeheartedly.
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    Teammates racing.

     

  3. Register with NCAA Clearing House. If you have questions, ask your high school counselor. It’s something all athletes have to do who want to participate in college sports.
  4. Take the right classes, SAT or ACT, and get good grades. Again, meet with your counselor. He or she can make sure you’re on track and doing everything you need to do to be eligible.
  5. Make a list of the schools you’re interested in:
    Dream schools — where have you always wanted to go.Geographic location — do you want to be close to home? Or in an entirely different part of the country?DI, DII or DIII? There is a division, conference and school for every swimmer. Determine where you fit by looking at the NCAA Division results.
    Do you score points in the conference championship meet? When you have a list of schools, check out the results from their conference meet. Chances are if you’d finish in the top 8, you’re a good candidate for a scholarship.

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    A meet in LA during my daughter’s age-group years.

  6. Contact coaches and schedule unofficial visits via email. Start early, sophomore or junior year. Unofficial visits offer a chance to look at campuses and visit teams. It also provides an opportunity to practice meeting and talking with coaches. We made a few unofficial visits at nearby schools our daughter was interested in before she was being recruited. The coaches were very good about taking time to speak to her and one gave my daughter, husband and me a campus tour.
  7. Most schools have online questionnaires for athletes. Be sure to fill out the ones you’re interested in. You can follow up with an email to the coach that you’ve completed their questionnaire. Plus, when you email, tell coaches something specific about why you’re interested in their school. Ask them questions about what they look for in a swimmer, or what their time requirements are.
  8. Ask your club coach about the rules of talking to college coaches at swim meets. Rules change, but generally, a college coach cannot approach you  — until after you’ve swum all your events at a meet. Again, your club coach can help with this.
  9. Be polite. Return phone calls and emails. Once the official recruiting season begins, be sure to be respectful of all coaches and colleges — even if they weren’t on your list. You never know where or when you’ll run into these people again. Coaches move around — and they tend to have friends they talk to that are coaches!
  10. You’re allowed to take up to five official recruit trips. If you’ve talked to coaches on the phone or in person and they want you on their team, they’ll invite you for an official visit. You’ll stay with freshman or sophomore teammates and have a full schedule of events so you can get a feel for the school and team. Let coaches know right away if you’re interested or not in taking the recruit trip.

If you want more information, or have specific questions, I’ve linked several stories. Or, leave a comment and I’ll answer your question.

Here’s a great article about preparing for recruit trips from SwimSwam.

Two more articles: Swimming Recruiting – 5 Tips to Swimming in College and Quick Tips For College Swimming Recruits

Tips for You and Your Kids to Stay Ahead of the Curve

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Yesterday, I noticed an article that has been taped to our refrigerator for years. It’s been there so long, I’ve forgotten to take notice of it. It’s called “Stay Ahead of the Curve” and it was from Investor Business Daily’s 10 Secrets to Success. It’s so old that’s it’s turning brown and I cannot find it on the internet. If I could, I would repost the entire article.

My husband wanted to pass on advice to our two kids while they were younger and in middle school and high school. He thought this article about being organized and getting ahead could help them with their school work and busy schedules. Although the article focuses on the workplace, it applies to school or home as well. I wouldn’t have noticed it yesterday if not for the fact that we got delivery of a new fridge and it was time for the old one with the article on it to go.

Following are excerpts from the article written by Cord Cooper with advice from productivity trainer Kenneth Ziegler, author of “Organizing for Success:”

ONE
Forget working late at night

It saps your energy and can cause you to be less productive the next day. You go to bed with your mind racing—recounting the day’s events and planning the next and are less likely to get a restful sleep, surveys show.

Your best bet: Arrive early and be on time. This not only boosts productivity, but can also help achieve work-life balance.

To maximize productivity during the day, limit the length and number of meetings if possible. Also set aside time when you can’t be interrupted.

TWO
Make the most of Monday morning

“Get off to a fast start Monday, and chances are the rest of the week will flow better,” Ziegler said. “Don’t schedule meetings or conferences first thing on Monday morning. They will kill everyone’s productivity.” Instead. set the following week’s agenda during a Friday staff meeting, ensuring everyone hits the ground running Monday.

THREE
At home, start the night before

“Select what you’re going to wear tomorrow and iron it ahead of time (if needed). If you have children, prepare and pack their lunches that night. Set the timer on the coffeepot and put items you are taking to work by the door.” And fill the gas tank on the way home from work, not the next morning, Ziegler advises.

FOUR
Don’t overplan

“Studies show that the average person can (realistically) plan up to 50% of his day. We tend to underestimate on average, by (at least) 20 percent of the time a task will take,” Ziegler said. We also don’t allow for interruptions and unforeseen events. We then waste time fiddling with our daily planners.

FIVE
Nail down specifics
If your boss or client needs a job done as soon as possible, define what that means and when. You probably have several tasks, and getting more information on each will help you plan effectively.

I found these helpful and I wished I would have glanced at the article more than once in the past decade. I’m not sure my kids paid much attention to it, but it was right in front of them every time they reached in the fridge for a snack. I just talked with my son on the phone and asked him if he remembered the article. I’m pleased to say he did and he said he always gets ready for work, the night before.

What do you have taped to your refrigerator and what tips do you have to stay ahead of the curve?

 

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The day we took our son to college.